- Signs of the Times Archive for Wed, 02 May 2007 -

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Putting Virginia Tech in Perspective

Media Lens
2007-05-02 12:23:00

Two days after a gunman shot dead 32 students and staff at an American college, Virginia Tech, on April 16, a series of car bombs killed more than 200 people in Iraq causing one of the highest death tolls since the war began. In a single attack, 118 people died in a car bomb explosion in the Shi'ite neighbourhood of Sadriya. Channel 4 news commented:

"Such ghastly numbers do also put the tragedy in Virginia into some sort of perspective." (Snowmail, April 18, 2007)

But in fact this was not the case for most journalists. Indeed a largely unspoken question hung over media reporting that week: Why did the deaths of American students and staff matter so much more to the British media than the deaths of six times as many Iraqi men, women and children?

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U.S. News
Joan Baez banned at Walter Reed hospital

Associated Press
2007-05-02 09:26:00

Folk singer and anti-war activist Joan Baez says she doesn't know why she was not allowed to perform for recovering soldiers recently at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as she planned.
©Associated Press
Joan Baez arrives for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007, in Los Angeles.

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Reagan diaries reveal president's private musings

Daniel Trotta
2007-05-01 12:52:00

Ronald Reagan saved his most private and dramatic thoughts for a handwritten book -- a diary in which he recalled his running frustration with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, his fear that Armageddon was near and coughing up blood on the day he was shot.

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3 Atlanta police officers charged in drug raid death of 92-year-old woman

Harry R. Webber
2007-04-26 12:17:00

ATLANTA-Two police officers pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of a 92-year-old woman during a botched drug raid last fall. A third officer still faces charges.

The charges followed a Nov. 21 "no-knock" drug raid on the home of Kathryn Johnston, 92. An informant had described buying drugs from a dealer there, police said. When the officers burst in without warning, Johnston fired at them, and they fired back, killing her.

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Army Squeezes Soldier Blogs, Maybe to Death

Noah Shachtman
2007-05-02 02:00:00

The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.

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Twelve Steps to Cutting Poverty in Half

Katrina Vanden Huevel
The Nation
2007-05-01 00:35:00

Last Wednesday, at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, the CAP Task Force on Poverty released the results of fourteen months of work in its report, From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half.

The report offers twelve concrete recommendations to reduce over the next ten years, creating a stronger middle class and setting our country on a course to end American poverty in a generation.

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Immigrant-rights protestors take to streets

Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman
2007-05-02 00:22:00

LOS ANGELES - Some 200,000 flag-waving, sign-carrying protesters marched in cities across the United States on Tuesday in orchestrated rallies intended to demonstrate the political might of Latinos and win amnesty for illegal immigrants.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Outgoing!: Blair to step down within weeks

Graeme Wilson
The Telegraph
2007-05-02 01:53:00

Tony Blair has indicated that Gordon Brown is likely to replace him as Prime Minister within a matter of weeks.

"Within the next few weeks I won't be Prime Minister of this country. In all probability, a Scot will become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom," Mr Blair told party supporters at a Labour rally in Edinburgh.

His comments come on the day Mr Blair celebrates his 10th anniversary in office.

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Around the World
S. Korean scholar calls on China to take responsibility for dust storms

2007-05-02 12:20:00

The Chinese government should be held responsible for dust storms that sweep across the Korean Peninsula and other surrounding countries with harmful pollutants, a South Korean scholar said in a journal published recently.

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Historian Claims to ID Jack the Ripper

Associated Press
2007-05-02 11:24:00

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - An eminent South African historian believes he has stumbled on the identity of Jack the Ripper.

This image made available by publisher Random House, shows a police photo of Joseph Silver in 1909.

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Turkish PM calls for early polls, political reform after court ruling

2007-05-02 01:37:00

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would push for early legislative elections and comprehensive reforms after the country's top court on Tuesday annulled a parliamentary vote for a new president that had sparked a political crisis.

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Amnesty: Kenya Denied Somali Refugees

Associated Press
2007-05-01 22:57:00

Kenya has turned away thousands of refugees at its border with Somalia and forcibly returned hundreds who had fled Somalia's rampant violence before the border was closed - leaving them susceptible to hunger, beatings and rape, Amnesty International said Tuesday in a new report.

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Big Brother
British motorists face spy in sky monitoring

Jeremy Lovell
2007-05-02 11:28:00

LONDON - Spies in the sky may track motorists in Britain within a decade if the government goes ahead with controversial plans to introduce road user charging schemes, scientists said Tuesday.

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2,176 U.S. Spying Warrants Issued in 2006

Lara Jakes Jordan
Associated Press
2007-05-01 17:35:00

A secret court approved all but one of the government's requests last year to search or eavesdrop on suspected terrorists and spies, according to Justice Department data released Tuesday.

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Axis of Evil
UPDATE: Virgin Atlantic Airways to Show Loose Change 2 In-Flight

2007-05-02 14:54:00

UPDATE: Confirmed by Virgin Atlantic's in flight entertainment web page. Its listed, however, under "tv" and not under "movies". So is it one of the in-flight options, but not the official turn-off-the-lights in-flight movie?

Patricia Hickey of Mercury Media has confirmed this story to me by email, copying Dylan Avery with her response. Tim Sparke of Mercury Media also confirmed the story to me, and said that the story should get some press tomorrow. Sparke said that the film will run during the month of May.

I've attached the press release and what is supposedly a page from Virgin Atlantic's May magazine. As you can see from the magazine, Loose Change is the movie Virgin Atlantic recommends people watch.

Mercury Media is a real company, apparently founded by alums of Disney, Sony Pictures, and other large media players.

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Cho's still in the White House: Probes find 50 Afghan civilians slaughtered in US-led action; among the slain were 18 women and children

2007-05-02 16:54:00

Investigations into a US-led offensive in western Afghanistan at the weekend found around 50 civilians were killed, officials said Wednesday, as President Hamid Karzai summoned the top US general over the casualties.

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A Pathocrat speaks! Rudy Giuliani Assails Venezuela's Chavez

2007-05-02 02:25:00

WASHINGTON - Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, whose law firm represents an American subsidiary of a Hugo Chavez-controlled oil company, said Tuesday that the socialist Venezuelan president is dangerous to U.S. interests.

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Price Tag for War in Iraq on Track to Cost Millions of Lives

Ron Hutcheson
McClatchy Newspapers
2007-05-01 23:53:00

WASHINGTON - The bitter fight over the latest Iraq spending bill has all but obscured a sobering fact: The war will soon cost more than $500 billion.

That's about ten times more than the Bush administration anticipated before the war started four years ago, and no one can predict how high the tab will go.

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No Surprises! Bush vetoes war spending bill

Richard Cowan and Caren Bohan
2007-05-02 00:06:00

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would force him to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from
Iraq this year as a condition of funding the war, angering Democrats who vowed to fight on.

Comment: The Democrats are only blowing smoke.

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Middle East Madness
Fighting Terror: Who is Winning?

2007-05-02 09:30:00

On paper, it has been a bad few days for al-Qaeda. Western and Arab counter-terrorist teams that have been trying to hunt it down seem to be enjoying a rare streak of success, with a string of recent arrests, killings and convictions. Does this suggest that al-Qaeda is on the back foot and may even be heading for defeat? Or are the terrorist networks likely to prove resilient for a good while yet? Most experts reckon that, despite welcome successes against al-Qaeda, the second course is still a lot more likely.

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No Batchelor! 7 British sailors detained by Iran are back in Persian Gulf

2007-05-02 02:14:00

LONDON, England -- Seven of the 15 British Royal Navy personnel held captive by Iran are back in the Persian Gulf searching for smugglers, Britain's military said Tuesday.

The seven returned to duty on the frigate HMS Cornwall, the Defense Ministry said. Another seven of the Royal Marines have returned to duty at a naval base in Scotland. No decision has been made on whether to send those marines back to the Persian Gulf, the Defense Ministry said.

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Al-Qaida in Iraq leader said to be killed in gun fight - but has been in Cairo jail for years

Mark Tran
Guardian Unlimited
2007-05-01 18:41:00

The al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has been killed in a fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the interior ministry claimed today.

Comment: What a big fat lie! (See below.)

Brigadier General Abdul Kareem Khalaf told Reuters: "We have definite intelligence reports that al-Masri was killed today."

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The Loan Gunmen
Roads To Riches: Why investors are clamoring to take over America's highways, bridges, and airports - and why the public should be nervous

Emily Thornton
Business Week
2007-05-02 13:12:00

Steve Hogan was in a bind. The executive director of Colorado's Northwest Parkway Public Highway Authority had run up $416 million in debt to build the 10-mile toll road between north Denver and the Boulder Turnpike, and he was starting to worry about the high payments. So he tried to refinance, asking bankers in late 2005 to pitch investors on new, lower-interest-rate bonds. But none of the hundreds of investors canvassed was interested.

Then, one day last spring, Hogan got a letter from Morgan Stanley that promised to solve all of his problems.

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Post Mortem for the Stock Market

Mike Whitney
Information Clearing House
2007-05-02 10:26:00

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class that's winning." Investment tycoon, Warren Buffett

The real estate market is crashing faster than anyone had anticipated. Housing prices have fallen in 17 of 20 of the nation's largest cities and the trend lines indicate that the worst is yet to come. March sales of new homes plummeted by a record 23.5% (year over year) removing all hope for a quick rebound. Problems in the subprime and Alt-A loans are mushrooming in previously "hot markets" resulting in an unprecedented number of foreclosures. The defaults have slowed demand for new homes and increased the glut of houses already on the market. This is putting additional downward pressure on prices and profits. More and more builders are struggling just to keep their heads above water. This isn't your typical 1980s-type "correction"; it's a full-blown real estate cyclone smashing everything in its path.

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MasterCard quarterly earnings soar

2007-05-02 09:33:00

MasterCard Inc. said on Wednesday that quarterly earnings soared nearly 70 percent, as it processed more credit and debit card transactions globally.

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Dick Cheney's Banker Grantham Sees World Bubble

By William Pesek
2007-05-01 22:50:00

You'd expect someone whom the famously dour Dick Cheney entrusts with millions of his dollars might have a gloomy view of the world. Jeremy Grantham does indeed.

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The Living Planet
Giant Dust Storm Blows Over Khartoum

Daily Mail
2007-05-02 12:12:00

These bizarre images show a gigantic cloud of dust billowing over an African city.

The dust storm - known as a "Haboob" - gathered over Khartoum, the capital of Sudan in north east Africa yesterday.

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Survey to pinpoint moths' decline

2007-05-01 23:04:00

A national recording scheme that aims to catalogue what species of moths in the UK face an uncertain future is being launched by conservationists.

Scientists are unable to pinpoint the reason for the moths' rapid decline

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Ebola-like virus killing fish in Great Lakes

By Dennis Cauchon
USA Today
2007-05-01 21:30:00

A deadly Ebola-like virus is killing fish of all types in the Great Lakes, a development some scientists fear could trigger disaster for the USA's freshwater fish.

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Health & Wellness
Coffee may have some health benefits, experts say

Anne Harding
2007-05-02 12:59:00

Drinking coffee can help ward off type 2 diabetes and may even help prevent certain cancers, according to panelists discussing the benefits -- and risks -- of the beverage at a scientific meeting.

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Americans Ate 2.5 Million Chickens Fed Tainted Pet Food

Rick Weiss
Washington Post
2007-05-02 12:04:00

At least 2.5 million broiler chickens from an Indiana producer were fed pet food scraps contaminated with the chemical melamine and subsequently sold for human consumption, federal health officials reported yesterday.

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The Shrinking Brains of Gulf War Veterans

American Academy of Neurology
2007-05-01 07:00:00

Veterans of the first Gulf War who returned with multiple health symptom complaints show significant differences in brain structures from their fellow returnees without high numbers of health symptoms, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 - May 5, 2007.

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The Age of Autism: Ground Zero

2007-04-26 10:11:00

This column has long made the controversial case that autism had a beginning, a "big bang" if you will. That moment was 1930 -- no U.S. cases before then fully match the classic description of the disorder.

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World's cities step up pace of life in fast lane

Kate Kelland
2007-05-02 09:16:00

A study of cities across the world shows pedestrians are upping their pace at an alarming rate as they scurry from place to place, determined to cram as much as possible into each day.

Scientists say it is symptomatic of a modern life driven by e-mail, text messages and a need to be available 24 hours a day.

The most dramatic increases were found in Asia among the fast-growing "tiger" economies.

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Flashback: The Age of Autism: The Amish Elephant

Dan Olmsted
2005-10-30 09:51:00

A specter is haunting the medical and journalism establishments of the United States: Where are the unvaccinated people with autism?

That is just about the only way to explain what now appears to be a collective resistance to considering that question. And like all unanswered questions, this raises another one: Why?

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Science & Technology
Source of Major Earthquakes Discovered Beneath U.S. Heartland

Robin Lloyd
2007-05-02 16:46:00

Scientists have finally figured out what might have caused a series of devastating earthquakes that struck the Midwest nearly 200 years ago at a set of faults that has confused geologists for a long time.

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Gene makes racing dogs fast, study finds

Maggie Fox
2007-05-01 13:07:00

A gene that helps control muscle development makes all the difference between an elite racing dog and a freak that is put down at birth, scientists reported on Tuesday.

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Pluto-bound New Horizons Provides New Look At Jupiter System

Science Daily
2007-05-01 22:58:00

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system ­-- stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet's atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere.
Image of the planet Jupiter's moon, Io, as seen by the New Horizons spacecraft. A plume from a huge volcanic eruption can be seen at the north pole of the moon.

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Our Haunted Planet
Air France pilot backs recent Channel Islands UFO sighting

Joel de Woolfson
This is Guernsey
2007-05-02 13:33:00

Captain Jean-Charles Duboc claimed he saw a huge object over Paris on 28 January 1994 while flying an Airbus 320 from Nice to London.
It was well documented in the French media and on internet sites.
The 55-year-old's sighting was supported by fellow flight crew and French radar, which picked up the object about 25 miles east of Paris for 50 seconds.

"The observation of Captain Ray Bowyer is really impressive for several reasons"� he said.

"The fact it was daytime, a huge size, low altitude, nine minutes of sighting, passengers and another crew to confirm it.

"In fact, Captain Bowyer's observation is very similar to mine, except there was two objects and they were very low."

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Brother, can you spare a bride?

2007-04-30 12:46:00

PATNA, India - Villagers at a wedding in eastern India decided the groom had arrived too drunk to get married, and so the bride married the groom's more sober brother instead, police said Monday.

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Good Samaritan Canoeists Get $85 Tickets

Associated Press
2007-05-02 12:38:00

TWIN FALLS, Idaho - Canoeist Dennis Bohrn and his companions were stunned when they saw a woman jump off the Perrine Bridge, her body landing near them in the Snake River. Many in the group were crying by the time they managed to reach the woman and paddle her body to shore.

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How Spider-Man Compares to the Real Thing

2007-05-02 01:53:00

In a culture that finds it hard to love most bugs, spiders are nonetheless the ones we tend to accept or at least admire at a distance for their ingenuity with locomotion, insect hunting and home-building.

In each of those areas, the web's the thing, as any Spider-Man fan can see starting Friday when "Spider-Man 3" opens. Spider silk could stop a Boeing 747 in flight, is stronger than bullet-proof Kevlar and more elastic than nylon, biologists say.

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