- Signs of the Times Archive for Thu, 05 Apr 2007 -

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Torture: Read it in the Israeli press

Miko Peled
The Electronic Intifada
2007-04-05 17:04:00

©Khaled Jarrar/MaanImages
An Israeli soldier takes pictures of a soldier as he aims his rifle towards Palestinian teenagers during clashes at Qalandiya checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah, 9 February 2007

Thanks to the Israeli press, people in Israel are informed regularly about their government's mistreatment of the 4.5 million Palestinians under their rule. Most of the information regarding the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people is well documented and accurately reported in the Israeli press. But even the most serious offenses are given a "kosher" stamp, so to speak, once the word "security" is attached to them.

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New Bin Laden supported by USA

Sabbah's blog
2007-04-05 16:13:00

Remember the old story about the relation between Al-Qaida, Bin Laden and USA during the Afghanistan war? The relation that ended with a painful divorce between the two parties which today is known as 9/11? [Or so the limited hangout story would have us believe]

Well, this old story is now back on the front pages, but the hero this time is called Abd el Malik Regi.

Abd el Malik Regi is the young leader of a terrorist group supported by the US to fight their battle, but not in Afghanistan this time, but in Iran.

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The Long Ordeal of Sami Al-Arian - Civil and Human Rights Advocate and Political Prisoner

Stephen Lendman
2007-04-05 09:40:00

Sami Al-Arian - Political Prisoner

Sami Al-Arian is one of many dozens, likely hundreds, of political prisoners in the US today but is noteworthy because of his high-profile status and as an especially egregious example of persecution and injustice in post-9/11 America with its climate of state-induced fear and resulting repression with special targeting of Latino immigrants and all Muslims characterized as "Islamofascists" because of their faith and ethnicity. One of them is Dr. Sami Al-Arian - Palestinian refugee, scholar, academic, community leader, civic activist and advocate for freedom and justice for his people imprisoned since February, 2003 on trumped up charges explained below even after a jury exonerated him on eight of the false 17 charges against him, all the ones relating to violence and terrorism, and remained deadlocked 10 - 2 in favor of acquittal on the other nine. More on this below.

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U.S. News
Morality In America - Florida police arrest activist for feeding homeless

2007-04-05 16:03:00

Police in Florida have arrested an activist for feeding the homeless in downtown Orlando

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Little By Little, The Dictator Establishes Himself: "Bush bypasses Senate to name ambassador"

Associated Press
2007-04-05 15:12:00

WASHINGTON - President Bush named Republican fundraiser Sam Fox as U.S. ambassador to Belgium on Wednesday, using a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress, where Democrats had derailed Fox's nomination.

The appointment, made while lawmakers were out of town on spring break, prompted angry rebukes from Democrats, who said Bush's action may even be illegal.

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Democratic cave-in on White House testimony in US attorney firings

Barry Grey
2007-04-05 15:04:00

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who has been leading the Senate investigation into the Bush administration's firing of US attorneys, on Sunday signaled his party's capitulation to President Bush on obtaining testimony from Karl Rove and other White House officials involved in the purge.

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ADL Pressured Media To Suppress Israeli 9-11 Connection

Mark Glenn
2007-04-04 14:49:00

"What are you doing putting this stuff out there? You're killing us!"

These were the words of Abraham Foxman, executive director of the infamous Anti-Defamation League, considered by many in the know to be nothing more than a domestic branch of Israel's intelligence service Mossad.

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Intern admits thefts from U.S. archives

Maryclaire Dale
Associated Press
2007-04-05 08:07:00

A 40-year-old intern with the National Archives pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing 164 Civil War documents, including an official announcement of President Lincoln's death, and putting most of them up for sale on eBay.

Prosecutors said Denning McTague, who has master's degrees in history and library science, put about 150 of the documents online and had shipped about half of them.

All but three of the items, worth an estimated $30,000 in all, have since been recovered.

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Convicted Pastor Seeks Leadership Post

Associated Press
2007-04-04 22:43:00

MIAMI - The former head of a national organization of black Baptist churches spent four years in prison for stealing millions of dollars from the group. Now he wants one of his old jobs back: leader of the organization's Florida chapter.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Hallelujah! Gay Priest Says God Sound Like a Psychopath and Crucifiction is Insane

Amy Bourke
Pink News
2007-04-05 12:56:00

A Church of England Dean will tell a BBC Radio 4 audience this evening that traditional teaching of Christ's crucifixion is both "repulsive" and "insane."

The Very Rev Jeffrey John is an openly gay Dean who was forced to step down as a candidate for bishop after a row about his sexuality.

Traditionally, Christian theology has taught that because humans have sinned, God sent Christ to suffer and die in our place.

He is expected to say in the Lent Talks broadcast that clergy who preach that Christ was sent to earth to die in atonement for the sins of mankind are "making God sound like a psychopath."

"In other words, Jesus took the rap and we got forgiven as long as we said we believed in him," Mr John says.

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Nicola Sarkozy is threatened with terror acts. How convenient!

2007-04-05 12:45:00

The Group on Struggle against Terrorism under the Paris Court has began to study e-mails, the authors of which inform about a planning terror act against French presidential candidate Nicola Sarkozy. Authors of suspicious messages assure a terror act against Sarkozy will be committed on Thursday during his visit to Lyons.

The investigation was launched after editorial office of TV5 channel, as well as the administration of Social Party informed about the received letters in the following form. "Sarkozy - terror act - Lyons - April 5, 2007".

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Sri Lanka says rebels kill farmers as attacks grow

2007-04-05 09:57:00

COLOMBO - Tamil Tiger rebels shot dead three Sri Lankan farmers in the island's northeast on Thursday, police said, the third time since last weekend that civilians have been caught in the crossfire of renewed civil war.

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Holy Hypocrisy: Pope's book accuses rich nations of robbery

John Hooper
2007-04-05 09:34:00

Pope Benedict appeared to reach out to the anti-globalisation movement yesterday, attacking rich nations for having "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions of the world.

An extract published from his first book since being elected pope highlighted the passionately anti-materialistic and anti-capitalist aspects of his thinking. Unexpectedly, the Pope also approvingly cited Karl Marx and his analysis of contemporary man as a victim of alienation.

The Pope's 400-page book, entitled Jesus of Nazareth, is to be published on April 16, his 80th birthday. Yesterday the newspaper Corriere della Sera, which is owned by the book's publishers, Rizzoli, presented a lengthy extract. It includes Benedict's thoughts on the parable of the Good Samaritan, who went to the aid of a traveller shunned by other passers-by after he had been stripped and beaten by robbers. While many commentators accuse the rich nations of not acting like the Samaritan, the Pope goes a big step further and compares them to the thieves.

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Train accident at Paris station slightly injures dozens

Associated Press
2007-04-05 08:24:00

A suburban commuter train slammed into a buffer at the end of the tracks at Paris's Gare de l'Est train station Thursday, slightly injuring dozens, railway officials said.

The train, which originated in the eastern Paris suburb of Chateau-Thierry, hit the buffer at about 10 kph (6 mph), an SNCF railway official said. The official declined to give his name, according to SNCF policy.

Firefighters were dispatched to Gare de l'Est, a major transport hub in the east of the French capital with connections to Germany and other European points, and station authorities put an emergency response plan into effect.

Fifty-eight people were hospitalized as a precaution, the official said. The most serious injury was a broken nose.

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Bosnian Serb sentenced to 15 years for war crimes

2007-04-05 08:20:00

Former Bosnian Serb policeman Dragan Zelenovic was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the U.N. war crimes tribunal on Wednesday, after he pleaded guilty to the rape and torture of Bosnian Muslims during the 1992-1995 war.

Zelenovic, a 46-year-old former paramilitary leader, was indicted in 1996 for atrocities committed against non-Serbs in his native Foca region, southeast of Sarajevo, including the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl.

The court found him guilty of personally committing nine rapes of women in Serb detention, eight of which qualified as both torture and rape, and four of which were gang rapes.

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Around the World
Turkey to France: Want to lay a gas pipeline? Forget about the Armenian genocide.

2007-04-05 12:49:00

Turkey has suspended talks with Gaz de France over a key gas pipeline, in protest at a French bill about the killing of Armenians in World War I.

The planned pipeline would carry natural gas from the Middle East and Central Asia to Austria through Turkey.

The French Parliament is considering a law that would make it an offence to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians.

The draft law was approved by the National Assembly in October.

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Satellite wars: Satellite failure revives space weapons flap

James Oberg
2007-04-05 08:38:00

Russian space experts are wondering whether the United States used an anti-satellite weapon last month to kill a small Russian research satellite, the Novosti news agency reported Wednesday.

The claim that the Pentagon intentionally crippled the satellite brought an almost immediate denial from U.S. military officials.

"There's no way this is a credible story," U.S. Navy Capt. James Graybeal, spokesman for the U.S. Strategic Command, told MSNBC.com. "We've checked with everybody, we have talked to everyone."

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Tractor plows into Pakistani school

Associated Press
2007-04-05 08:10:00

A speeding tractor plowed into a roadside school in eastern Pakistan on Thursday, killing nine children and injuring 18 others, police said.

The tractor's driver apparently lost control of the vehicle, which crashed through a perimeter wall of the Thatha Malkaan village school in the eastern province of Punjab, police officer Shuakat Joya said.

The tractor plowed into dozens of children attending class on the lawn. Six children were killed at the scene while three others died at a nearby hospital. Eighteen other children were injured, three of them seriously, Joya said.

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Castro says U.S. Biofuel policy will increase hunger

2007-04-04 20:46:00

Cuban leader Fidel Castro has written a second newspaper article within a week, again criticising US biofuels policy.

Writing in the Granma newspaper, Mr Castro said a US drive to back crop use for fuels would raise prices and cause more hunger in developing countries.

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Big Brother
Police Log Confirms FBI Role In Arrests - Group Detained, Questioned During D.C. War Protest

Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post
2007-04-05 17:01:00

A secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain a group of war protesters in a downtown Washington parking garage in April 2002 and interrogated some of them on videotape about their political and religious beliefs, newly uncovered documents and interviews show.

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Big Brother is barking orders now.

Sky News
2007-04-05 08:36:00

CCTV cameras fitted with loudspeakers that shout orders at anti-social yobs and criminals are to be installed across the country.

The "talking" spy cameras are being set up in 20 areas after a successful pilot scheme in Middlesbrough.

The test project saw vandals told to stop what they were doing and litterbugs ordered to take their rubbish with them or find a bin.

Council workers in a control centre monitored pictures from 12 cameras in the town and communicated directly with people on the street.

The scheme has been criticised by opponents as "Big Brother gone mad".

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Axis of Evil
U.S. supports "terrorists", Iranian speaker says

2007-04-05 16:11:00

The United States is putting pressure on Iran by supporting anti-Iranian militants operating from the Pakistani border region, the speaker of Iran's parliament, Gholamali Haddadadel, said on Thursday.

But Haddadadel, speaking to reporters after talks with Pakistani leaders, said Pakistan was not involved in helping the militants.

"There is no doubt in our minds that the United States spares no effort to put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran," Haddadadel said, speaking through an interpreter.

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Russian generals: Iran War "Unwinnable"

2007-04-05 16:07:00

The United States would suffer losses if it attacked Iran but weight of numbers would ensure it eventually achieved air supremacy, Russian generals said on Thursday.

"According to our estimates, Iran's air defense system is pretty strong," General Yuri Solovyov, head of Moscow's air defenses, told a news conference.

"Iran's weapons, among others, include our anti-aircraft systems which allow them to fight all types of flying objects currently in service in the U.S. army ... Besides, we all remember our specialists have trained them since Soviet times."

Russia said in January it had completed delivery of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran, provoking an outcry from Washington and its Middle East ally Israel who said the sale undermined regional security.

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Shocking! U.S. Military recruiter sends racist, homophobic tirade to recuit

David Edwards
The Raw Story
2007-04-05 10:20:00

After posting his resume on online job site CareerBuilder.com, Corey Andrew was contacted by an army recruiter about a job.

The email exchange between Andrew and the recruiter, Sergeant Marcia Ramode, quickly turned hostile when Andrew revealed that he was a homosexual.

"You are definitely unqualified," wrote Ramode. "Now take you gay self [sic] back to someplace else we do not tolerate gay people like you in any part of the military."

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Israel objection stalls U.S. arms sale to Saudis. Only Israel can have them.

2007-04-05 09:53:00

WASHINGTON - Objections by Israel are delaying Bush administration plans for a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies aimed at deterring Iran, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Quoting unnamed senior U.S. officials, the Times said on its Web site that Israel was concerned the advanced weapons would erode its military advantage over regional rivals.

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Israel has abducted 6000 Palestinian children since the beginning of the Intifada, 390 currently detained

Najib Farrag
2007-04-05 09:15:00

The Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) published a report marking the Palestinian Child Day, which is marked every year on April 5th, and revealed that Israeli troops took prisoner 6000 children since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000, and that 390 children are still imprisoned by Israel.

©Signs of the Times
Soldiers searching child in Hebron

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Public Anxiety Over Foreign Policy Nears Crisis

Jim Lobe
IPS News
2007-04-05 07:50:00

Increasingly anxious about the course of U.S. foreign policy under President George W. Bush, particularly in Iraq, the country appears to be moving toward a "full-blown crisis of public confidence," according to the latest "Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy" survey designed by veteran pollster Daniel Yankelovich released here Tuesday.

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Middle East Madness
Captain of the 15 marines: We gathered intelligence on Iran.

Sky News
2007-04-05 13:33:00

The captain in charge of the 15 marines detained in Iran has said they were gathering intelligence on the Iranians.

Sky News went on patrol with Captain Chris Air and his team in Iraqi waters close to the area where they were arrested - just five days before the crisis began.

We withheld the interview until now so it would not jeopardise their safety.

And today, former Iranian diplomat Dr Mehrdad Khonsari said if the Iranians had known about it, they would have used it to "justify taking the marines captive and put them on trial".

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Gunmen kill nearly 20 Iraqi, foreign troops

Dean Yates
2007-04-05 09:49:00

BAGHDAD - Gunmen have killed nearly 20 Iraqi, British and American soldiers in the past 24 hours, officials said on Thursday, underscoring how deadly the country remains four years after the U.S.-led invasion.

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Iran's air defense can repel U.S. air strikes - Russian brass

RIA Novosti
2007-04-05 09:32:00

Iran has air defense systems capable of repelling possible United States air strikes, a high-ranking Russian military official said Thursday.

A Kuwaiti newspaper warned Wednesday that the United States was planning a missile strike against Iran some time in April. In an editorial citing unnamed Washington sources, As-Siyasa said air-to-surface missiles could be used in U.S. strikes against Iran, but that no ground operation would be launched to avoid casualties among U.S. service personnel.

"In line with my assessment, Iran's air defense system is strong enough," Colonel General Yury Solovyov, commander of the Air Defense Forces Special Command (former Moscow Military District Air Defense Command), said. "Currently Iran has our [Russian] air defense missile systems, which are capable of tackling U.S. combat aircraft. Iran also has French and other countries' [defense] systems."

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No grounds to expect early U.S. strike against Iran - Russian diplomat

RIA Novosti
2007-04-05 09:27:00

There are no grounds to expect a U.S. attack on Iran in the next few days, a deputy Russian foreign minister said Thursday.

The last few days have seen reports in Russian and foreign media that the U.S. has scheduled an operation, codenamed Bite, against Iran for 4:00 a.m. local time April 6. The operation to deliver air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities was to have lasted more than 12 hours.

"Our contacts with the U.S. side give no grounds for such expectations," Alexander Losyukov said.

The U.S. has not excluded a military option in the standoff with Iran over its refusal to abandon its uranium enrichment program. The UN Security Council passed a new resolution on Iran two weeks ago toughening economic sanctions against the country and accepting the possibility of a military solution to the crisis.

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22 Shiite Shepherds Kidnapped in Iraq

Associated Press
2007-04-04 22:56:00

BAGHDAD - Heavily armed gunmen on Wednesday abducted 22 Shiite shepherds who were tending thousands of sheep and had wandered into a dangerous Sunni area west of Baghdad, while six power plant workers were gunned down in northern Iraq.

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American Taliban seeks reduced sentence

Paul Elias
Associated Press
2007-04-04 20:37:00

SAN FRANCISCO - The lawyer and parents of American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh asked President Bush on Wednesday to commute his 20-year prison term, citing the case of an Australian man who was sentenced to less than a year for aiding terrorism.

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The Loan Gunmen
Collapsitalism: Ford gave execs huge bonuses despite record losses

2007-04-05 16:58:00

Struggling Ford Motor Company awarded multimillion dollar bonuses to its executives last year despite the fact that it posted a record loss of 12.7 billion dollars, according to a document filed Thursday with securities regulators.

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Gold prices could pass $850 record

Financial Times
2007-03-31 14:56:00

Gold prices could exceed last year's 26-year high of $730 an ounce within the next 12 months and it may even pass its peak of $850 hit in a price bubble in January 1980, GFMS, the metals consultancy, has forecast in its closely watched annual survey.

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Mortgage crisis calls American Dream into question

Andrea Hopkins
2007-04-05 10:56:00

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - For years, political leaders touted rising homeownership rates as a sign the "American Dream" was being fulfilled but more than a million looming foreclosures have called the dream into question.

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Calls for end to US repossessions

2007-04-05 10:12:00

A coalition of civil rights groups in the US has called on sub-prime lenders to stop repossessing borrowers' homes.

They want a six-month moratorium on foreclosures and say the industry should move borrowers onto loans with more favourable terms.

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China to rein in property market

2007-04-03 21:01:00

China has promised to restrain its surging property market in a bid to cool inflation, which authorities fear could undercut economic growth.

The nationwide campaign, launched by eight government agencies, aims to reduce illegal transactions and tax evasion in the property sector.

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The Living Planet
Serious drought may strike western US

News Scientist
2007-04-05 16:31:00

The western US may be heading towards a return to the dustbowl landscape that devastated the prairies of the 1930s, climatologists warn.

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Strong earthquake shakes Portugal's Azores

New Straits Times
2007-04-05 11:20:00

A strong earthquake shook Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores archipelago early today, according to the US Geological Survey's Earthquake Information Center.

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Flashback: Rare clouds 'could indicate global warming'

The Daily Mail
2006-08-01 12:00:00

Rare, mother-of-pearl coloured clouds caused by extreme weather conditions above Antarctica are a possible indication of global warming, Australian scientists have announced.

Known as nacreous clouds, the spectacular formations showing delicate wisps of colours were photographed in the sky over an Australian meteorological base at Mawson Station on July 25.

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"Night-shining" clouds bring mystery; Once confined to Earth's poles, the bizarre clouds have now been spotted above central Colorado

Katy Human
The Denver Post
2007-04-05 07:27:00

Since their discovery 120 years ago, strangely luminescent clouds called noctilucent clouds have been creeping slowly toward the equator.

©Denver Post
This hauntingly beautiful noctilucent cloud was photographed over the Juneau, Alaska, ice field in 1998. Once confined to Earth's poles, the clouds have been spotted above Colorado.

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Health & Wellness
Genes help determine how you perform at night

Roxanne Khamsi
New Scientist
2007-03-08 09:23:00

How well people perform on tests after being deprived of sleep depends in part on their genes, new research suggests. After staying awake all night, individuals with a long version of the PER3 gene only scored half as well on cognitive tests as subjects with a short version.

What is more, the greatest differences in performance were seen during the small hours - the time when most tiredness-related accidents happen and when shift-workers have most trouble staying awake.

"It may be there are people who are genetically predisposed against shift work," says Malcolm von Schantz, at the University of Surrey, UK. But he emphasises that gene tests should not be used to discriminate against such individuals. It is very possible that carriers of the long PER3 gene have advantages at other times, he notes.

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Mechanism of nicotine's learning effects explored

Cell Press / EurekAlert
2007-04-05 09:12:00

While nicotine is highly addictive, researchers have also shown the drug to enhance learning and memory - a property that has launched efforts to develop nicotine-like drugs to treat cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

A key problem in designing such drugs has been that little was known about the detailed mechanism by which nicotine exerts its learning-enhancing effects.

Now, researchers have discovered important details of how nicotine adjusts the signaling properties of neuronal wiring to enhance memory. Such signaling properties include the strength of the connections by which one neuron triggers another. Huibert Mansvelder and colleagues reported their findings in the April 5, 2007, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

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Research finds that culture is key to interpreting facial emotions

2007-04-05 09:05:00

Study examines how Japan and United States vary in deciphering facial cues.

Research has uncovered that culture is a determining factor when interpreting facial emotions. The study reveals that in cultures where emotional control is the standard, such as Japan, focus is placed on the eyes to interpret emotions. Whereas in cultures where emotion is openly expressed, such as the United States, the focus is on the mouth to interpret emotion.

Across two studies, using computerized icons and human images, the researchers compared how Japanese and American cultures interpreted images, which conveyed a range of emotions.

"These findings go against the popular theory that the facial expressions of basic emotions can be universally recognized," said University of Alberta researcher Dr. Takahiko Masuda. "A person's culture plays a very strong role in determining how they will perceive emotions and needs to be considered when interpreting facial expression"

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ISU psychologists publish three new studies on violent video game effects on youths

Iowa State University
2007-04-05 09:01:00

New research by Iowa State University psychologists provides more concrete evidence of the adverse effects of violent video game exposure on the behavior of children and adolescents.

ISU Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson, Assistant Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile, and doctoral student Katherine Buckley share the results of three new studies in their book, "Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents" (Oxford University Press, 2007). It is the first book to unite empirical research and public policy related to violent video games.

Anderson and Gentile will present their findings at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting in Boston March 29 through April 1.

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Science & Technology
Flashback: Evidence boosts core nuke theory

2003-03-27 09:23:00

New government laboratory test results are fueling a controversial contention that a giant natural nuclear reactor at the center of the Earth powers the planet's life-protecting magnetic field -- but it might be running out of gas, scientists told United Press International.

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A Physicist's Guide to Texas Hold 'Em

Lisa Zyga
2007-04-05 09:20:00

What are the odds that poker can be explained by statistical physics, much the same as a variety of other complex systems? They're pretty good, according to physicist Clément Sire of Université of Toulouse and CNRS in France, who demonstrates in a recent paper that many of the statistical properties of poker tournaments are universal. Sire's model makes connections between poker and evolution, extreme value statistics and the physical model of persistence.

"In this Letter, we study a very human and futile activity: poker tournaments," Sire writes in his paper, to be published in an APS Physical Review journal. His model quantifies the evolution of Texas hold 'em tournaments, based on aspects such as the distribution of chips, the number of surviving players over time, etc. Overall, his results closely mirror those observed in real-life online tournaments.

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3.2 Billion-Year-Old Surprise: Earth Had Strong Magnetic Field

University of Rochester
2007-04-05 09:10:00

Geophysicists at the University of Rochester announce in today's issue of Nature that the Earth's magnetic field was nearly as strong 3.2 billion years ago as it is today.

The findings, which are contrary to previous studies, suggest that even in its earliest stages the Earth was already well protected from the solar wind, which can strip away a planet's atmosphere and bathe its surface in lethal radiation.

"The intensity of the ancient magnetic field was very similar to today's intensity," says John Tarduno, professor of geophysics in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Rochester. "These values suggest the field was surprisingly strong and robust. It's interesting because it could mean the Earth already had a solid iron inner core 3.2 billion years ago, which is at the very limit of what theoretical models of the Earth's formation could predict."

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Dust clouds in cosmic cycle

2007-04-05 09:07:00

It has been a mystery for astronomers how certain dying stars have their colossal quantities of material blown out into the universe and shrink into objects called "white dwarves". This is the basis of a ground-breaking new theory by astrophysicists Anja C. Andersen from the Dark Cosmology Centre at the University of Copenhagen and Susanne Hцfner of the University of Uppsala.

Earth and the other planets in our solar system are built up of elements which have been produced in earlier generations of stars. Deep in the stars' very hot core, the elements are created out of hydrogen, and when the stars explode and die, the elements are shot out into the universe as huge clouds of gas and dust. Gradually, all that dust aggregates, eventually forming new stars and planets.

Pitch-black dust clouds

Stars smaller than our sun and up to eight times as large die by first swelling up to being a red giant, and then shrinking to a white dwarf. There are two types of red giants, one contains lots of carbon and the the other a lot of oxygen. When the carbon-rich stars die, large clouds of carbon particles such as soot and graphite are produced. Soot and graphite are pitch-black, so when the rays from the dying star hit the soot particles they stop the light and are pushed out into space, where they are seen as gigantic dust clouds. This is a 20 year old theory which fits both the observations and the model calculations.

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They finally found an excuse: Dust blamed for Global warming on Mars.

David L Chandler
News Scientist
2007-04-05 08:50:00

Scientists have been puzzling over the cause of dramatic global warming on Mars, which has made parts of the south polar ice cap disappear in recent years. The answer, it seems, is blowing in the wind: the planet's famous reddish dust.

Using global circulation models similar to those used to analyse Earth's changing climate, a team led by Lori Fenton of NASA's Ames Research Center in California, US, found that Mars seems to have warmed by about 0.65° Celsius in the three decades since the Viking mission first provided detailed mapping of the whole planet.

That warming can be explained entirely by the scouring away of light-coloured dust from darker areas of the surface, causing an increase in the absorption of solar radiation.

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Solar bursts threaten GPS devices

Associated Press
2007-04-05 08:33:00

The Global Positioning System (GPS), increasingly vital technology for activities including navigating cars and planes, bank financial transfers and more, may be threatened by powerful radio bursts from the sun, a panel of scientists in the US warned today.

"Our increasingly technologically dependent society is becoming increasingly vulnerable to space weather," David L. Johnson, director of the US National Weather Service, said at a briefing.

GPS receivers have become widely used in recent years, using satellite signals to navigate planes, ships and automobiles, and in the use of mobile phones, mining, surveying and many commercial applications.

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Our Haunted Planet
A Victorian encounter of the blurred kind; witness describes triangular UFO

Jack Knox
Times Colonist
2007-04-05 11:12:00

It was around 10 p.m. one night in mid-March that the Victoria woman, standing in the driveway of her acreage, saw a UFO.

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Amazing explanation: Metal fragment that hit home not a meteorite, but an extremely fast and precise man-made object.

M.K. Guetersloh
2007-04-05 09:44:00

The chunk of metal that crashed though a Bloomington couple's home last month was not a meteorite but something man-made.

But Robert "Skip" Nelson, a professor of geology at Illinois State University, said the theory may be just as unique as he pieces together how the piece of metal made its way March 5 into David and Dee Riddle's house at Partner Place.

Nelson said the metal object appears to have been ejected from a wood grinder from Twin City Wood Recycling. "That's almost as amazing as it being a meteorite," Nelson said.

The metal object is about the size of a deck of cards and weighs nearly a pound. Because of its weight and the steep angle with which it hit the house, Nelson initially thought it could have been a meteorite.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Wave of Japanese divorces feared as baby-boomers retire. Women dread having husbands home.

Chris Hogg
2007-04-05 10:05:00

Japan expects a significant rise in the number of divorces from April, particularly among older people, because of a change in the pension rules coming into effect.

Hobbies can sometimes be an escape

The new system will for the first time allow women to claim up to half of their husband's pension if they end their marriage.

Experts say the fact that millions of baby boomers are due to give up work this year, forcing husbands and wives to spend a lot more time together than they ever have before, is likely to put extra strain on marriage too.

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Kim Jong II ate my rabbits for his birthday

David Crossland
The Times
2007-04-05 09:15:00

The offspring of the 12 giant rabbits were supposed to help to feed starving North Koreans. Now doubts about their fate have brought an abrupt halt to one of the more unlikely hunger-alleviating projects.

Karl Szmolinsky sold the rabbits to Pyongyang so that they could be used to set up a breeding programme to boost meat production in the Hermit Kingdom.

However, amid concerns that they have been eaten by the country's leaders, Mr Szmolinsky will not be sending any more.

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Wolf Whistles Are Banned

Sky News
2007-04-05 08:43:00

Construction workers have been banned from wolf whistling at women at their building sites.

George Wimpey South Wales is sending out instructions to all its building contractors this week, warning workers not to whistle at women.

The company's sales and marketing director Richard Goad, who wrote the memo, said he hoped the move would make women feel more comfortable when looking for a new home.

Mr Goad, based at the company's Cardiff headquarters, said: "There's no doubt that first impressions last. There's little point in having a super show home unless a woman can get out of her car and feel comfortable looking around.

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