- Signs of the Times Archive for Fri, 25 May 2007 -

Sections on today's Signs Page:

SOTT Focus
Creating Reality And The "War On Terror" - A 'How To' Guide

Joe Quinn
Signs of the Times
2007-05-24 18:35:00

In 2004, former Wall Street Journal reporter and author Ron Suskind wrote in New York Times Magazine:

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Best of the Web

No new articles.

U.S. News
Immigrants not welcome: American dream cut short, Green Card route may end

2007-05-25 13:52:00

Green Cards are set to become elusive soon. A new move by the US Congress to legalise over 12 million illegal immigrants, including an estimated 3,000,000 Indians, proposes to restrict the current family-based immigration system that many Indian Americans rely upon to reunite with their family members.

While the legislation will open the doors for these Indian Americans to live and work in the US, their future settlement will depend on their education, skills and how they benefit the US economy.

This, Indian American groups claim, threatens to affect their interests adversely as it moves away from the family-oriented process, which is currently in place, and puts the parents, children and siblings of citizens and Green Card holders in the firing line.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Decision to Declassify Evidence in Aipac Case

Josh Gerstein
The NY Sun
2007-05-24 13:10:00

Intelligence agencies have decided to declassify a large volume of classified information in order to move forward with the criminal prosecution of two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of trafficking in America's national secrets.

The decision follows a judge's rejection last month of the government's proposal to limit public access to the trial of the two former staffers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. Judge Thomas Ellis III concluded that the prosecution's plan, which involved using codes and playing surveillance tapes on headphones for jurors, infringed on the constitutional rights of the defendants.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

U.S. to let START nuclear treaty expire

Carol Giacomo
2007-05-22 13:05:00

The United States plans to let a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia expire in 2009 and replace it with a less formal agreement that eliminates strict verification requirements and weapons limits, a senior U.S. official says.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Mass Psychology of Fascism: Spyware victim faces 40 years in prison after being convicted of exposing children to porn

Ellen Messmer
Network World
2007-05-25 12:26:00

As she awaits a possible 40-year prison term, the case of Julie Amero, the substitute teacher in eastern Connecticut convicted of exposing seventh-graders to Internet porn, has gained national attention from school IT administrators.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Hysteria! A Prosthetic Leg Prompts A Lockdown; Leg Mistaken For A Firearm

2007-05-24 12:04:00

The woman suspected foul play was afoot; she just had no idea what it was.

Police barricaded streets near a branch of St. Joseph Hospital after that woman called to report a man with an assault rifle walking into a medical office building. The assault rifle turned out to be a prosthetic leg, Bellingham Police Deputy Chief David Doll said.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

A Great But Broken Promise

Bill Moyers
2007-05-25 10:51:00

Bill Moyers is chairman of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy and an independent journalist with his own production company. This article is the commencement address Bill Moyers gave this year at Southern Methodist University.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

UK & Euro-Asian News
Man arrested for carrying pickaxe before Queen's walkabout

Emma Price
Earth Times
2007-05-25 13:57:00

A 34-year-old man was charged with possessing a pickaxe while Queen was on a walkabout in Huddersfield last evening. Police arrested the man just about 30 minutes before the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at St George's Square.

Police said the man was acting in a suspicion arousing manner. They added he was carrying a plastic bag from which a long pickaxe handle was protruding out. West Yorkshire Police confirmed the man would be presented on June 1 at the Huddersfield Magistrates'.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Polonium and politics

Vladimir Simonov
RIA Novosti
2007-05-25 13:43:00

The investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian special services agent poisoned in London by radioactive isotope polonium-210, has run into a deadlock.

Russia and Britain squared off over the murder case after Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoi should be charged with Litvinenko's death, but failed to provide anything more specific than suspicions and assumptions. British law says the charges must be presented to the suspect in the United Kingdom, so the CPS requested Lugovoi's extradition from Russia.

The Russian Constitution and Criminal Code, however, do not allow Russian nationals to be extradited. This provision is not anything uniquely Russian, as similar laws exist in many other countries. Still, officials in Moscow agree that the legal aspect of the issue is complex indeed. The Russian Constitution also stipulates the precedence of international agreements over domestic laws and even the country's Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

UK prosecutors file formal request for Lugovoi's extradition

RIA Novosti
2007-05-25 13:41:00

British prosecutors said Friday they had filed an extradition request with the Home Office, to be sent to Russia, for a former FSB guard accused of murdering ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said the formal request for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi had been made in line with the European Convention on Extradition and also contained an arrest warrant and detailed account of evidence gathered against the businessman.

Russia's top prosecutor, Yury Chaika, reiterated earlier Friday, citing the Russian Constitution, that Lugovoi would not be extradited to Britain, but would stand trial in Russia if his complicity was substantiated.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Attack of the cyber terrorists, when will 'al qaeda' be blamed?

Michael Hanon
Daily Mail
2007-05-24 12:54:00

At first it would be no more than a nuisance. No burning skyscrapers, no underground explosions, just a million electronic irritations up and down the land.

Thousands of government web pages suddenly vanish to be replaced with the Internet's version of the Testcard - that dreaded screen '404 - Not Found' or, more amusingly, some pastiche or parody.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

New files 'link Chirac to secret Japanese bank account'

Kim Willsher
The Guardian
2007-05-25 11:22:00

Jacques Chirac came under renewed pressure yesterday to respond to allegations that he held a secret £30m account with a Japanese bank, amid reports that documents had emerged linking the former French president to the funds.

Judges quizzed a retired senior intelligence officer for nine hours over documents, described as "explosive", linking Mr Chirac to the account.

Police had swooped on the home of General Philippe Rondot, former head of the DGSE intelligence service, as part of another inquiry but found files labelled Japanese affair, PR1 affair and PR2 affair. PR stands for President of the Republic.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

German travel company buys up entire Tuscan village

Kate Connolly
The Guardian
2007-05-25 01:49:00

It has long been part of the folklore of holidaying that they hog the sunloungers. And now it appears the Germans are commandeering villages as well.

The entire Tuscan village of Tenuta de Castelfalfi has been snapped up by the giant tour operator TUI and is due to be turned into an integrated holiday playground for German tourists within the next two years.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Around the World
Orangutan flees cage, goes on rampage

2007-05-23 12:21:00

A hulking orangutan escaped from his cage and terrified restaurant patrons Wednesday, at the same Taiwan zoo where a crocodile recently chomped off a veterinarian's arm. The latest incident at the Shaoshan Zoo in the southern city of Kaohsiung began when the orangutan pushed his way out of his cage and wandered into a nearby restaurant courtyard.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Speed boat gunmen snatch six from Nigerian oil ship

2007-05-25 11:55:00

Gunmen kidnapped six foreign oil workers including three Americans from a ship off the coast of Nigeria on Friday, industry sources said, bringing to 22 the number of foreigners held in Africa's top oil producer.

Suspected militants in two speed boats fired shots during the abduction, which took place off the coast of the Niger Delta near the Brass crude oil export terminal.

©AFP/Getty Images
Militants like members of Ateke Tom operate on the Niger Delta. Rebel kidnappers often press for ransom or make political demands.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

North Korea tests short-range missiles

Jae-Soon Chang
Associated Press
2007-05-25 11:18:00

North Korea fired several short-range guided missiles Friday into the sea that separates it from Japan in an apparent test launch, South Korean officials and media reports said.

Analysts and media reports said the North's test was in response to South Korea's launch of its first destroyer equipped with high-tech Aegis radar technology on Friday. South Korea is now one of only five countries armed with the technology, which will make it easier to track and shoot down North Korean aircraft and missiles.

"This shows North Korea, whose navy is rather small, is extremely alarmed," said Toshimitsu Shigemura, an expert on North Korean issues at Japan's Waseda University.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed Friday's missile launches.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Estimated 820 million people go hungry around the world

Barry Schweid
AP / Yahoo! News
2007-05-24 05:40:00

WASHINGTON - An estimated 820 million people around the world do not get enough to eat, despite delivery of 2.5 million tons of American food a year worth more than $1 billion, the U.S. Office of Food for Peace told Congress on Thursday.

Comment: That 820 million people live and die in hunger is so alarming that it makes anything else irrelevant. Yet we are reminded from the first paragraph of this article that good and noble US is doing its part. That is just hypocritical propaganda considering how much that same country spends on weapons (which are used to kill hungry people around the globe), how enormous the wealth divide globally and within the US is, and how much its population consumes and wastes.

The US is the leader of a world-wide capitalist society. The logic of capitalism, especially if headed by psychopaths, demands that almost a billion people do not have enough to eat. Whatever aid is given is just the crumbles.

Millions of lives have been saved as a result of the largest food aid program in the world, testified William Hammink, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development program.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Latin America, Caribbean pledge to get rid of cluster bombs

2007-05-25 02:12:00

An international conference seeking to ban cluster bombs decided Thursday to make Latin America and the Caribbean cluster bomb-free regions, while France raised eyebrows calling for limitations to a ban on the deadly submunitions.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Dance of Delight Destroys Delicate Drawing

AP Writer
Associated Press
2007-05-24 21:31:00

The little boy spotted the pretty pile of colored sand on the floor of the vast hall and couldn't resist. Slipping under a protective rope, he danced all over the sand, ruining the carefully crafted picture.

©Kansas City Star
The ruined mandala

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Big Brother
Wi-fi and RFID used for tracking - for your 'protection', of course!

BBC News
2007-05-25 11:56:00

Wireless tracking systems could be used to protect patients in hospitals and students on campuses, backers of the technology said.

The combination of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and wi-fi allows real-time tracking of objects or people inside a wireless network.

Want to be part of the beautiful people? Why not try the Siemens/Ekahau tag? (SOTT caption)

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Axis of Evil
Britain may declare an emergency to quit human rights act

Richard Ford, Philip Webster and Stewart Tendler
Times Online
2007-05-25 12:33:00

Police would be able to continue questioning terrorist suspects after they had been charged under proposals to be published within weeks by John Reid.

After the latest fiasco in which three terror suspects went on the run after breaching their control orders, the Home Secretary said yesterday that the Government would consider declaring that there was an emergency threat to the country, allowing it to opt out of human rights legislation, if all other options failed.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Cheney aims to force Bush to bomb Iran

Steve Clemons
Washington Note
2007-05-25 12:22:00

Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush

There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Bush predicts bloody summer in Iraq

By Steve Holland
2007-05-24 20:58:00

WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday predicted a bloody summer in Iraq for U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians, saying he expected insurgents and al Qaeda to step up attacks to try to influence the U.S. debate over how long to stay in Iraq.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

A Second Surge?

Kevin Drum
CBS - Political Animal
2007-05-22 19:00:00


A SECOND SURGE?....I don't even remember where I first saw this now, but it seems like half the lefty blogs I read have linked today to a piece by Stewart Powell of Hearst Newspapers that examines deployment orders for Iraq and comes to a startling conclusion:

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Psychopathic Tales - 28 seconds : The Killing of Fouad Kaady

2007-04-27 18:44:00

In the early afternoon of September 8, 2005, police encountered Fouad Kaady shortly after he was in an accident that left him in shock and bleeding, burned over much of his body. Rather than calling for medical help, the police commanded him to lie on the pavement, even though they could see the burned flesh hanging from his body, and even though they said he appeared to be "in a catatonic state."

When he did not comply with their orders, but instead continued to sit on the ground in a daze, they tasered him repeatedly. And then, they shot him to death.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Bush To Be Dictator In A Catastrophic Emergency

Lee Rodgers
Global Research
2007-05-21 17:59:00

The Bush administration has released a directive called the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive. The directive released on May 9th, 2007 has gone almost unnoticed by the mainstream and alternative media. This is understandable considering the huge Ron Paul and immigration news but this story is equally as huge. In this directive, Bush declares that in the event of a "Catastrophic Emergency", the President will be entrusted with leading the activities to ensure constitutional government. The language in this directive would in effect make the President a dictator in the case of such an emergency.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Middle East Madness
US Conflating Evidence in Preparation for Military Strikes Against Iran Says British Think Tank

Anne Penketh and Eric Silver
The Independent
2007-05-25 12:16:00

The Bush administration may be highlighting accusations that the Iranian government is behind attacks in Iraq in order to strengthen its hand in preparing for military strikes on Iran, according to a leading British think-tank.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Robert Fisk: Innocent victims caught up in a war of endless revenge

Robert Fisk
The Independent
2007-05-24 11:10:00

It is a place of Palestinian fury - and almost as much Palestinian blood. The bandage-swaddled children whimpering in pain, frowning at the strange, unfatherly doctors, the middle-aged woman staring at us with one eye, a set of tubes running into her gashed-open stomach, a series of bleak-faced, angry, young men, their bodies and legs torn apart.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Turkish PM would back Iraq incursion after suicide bombing

Hande Culpan
2007-05-25 02:48:00

ANKARA - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to support any Turkish military incursion in
Iraq against Kurdish rebel bases there after a deadly suicide bombing in Ankara blamed on the militants.

Upping the pressure on its southern neighbour, Ankara urged Baghdad Thursday to act against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) holed up in in northern Iraq.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Funeral Procession Bombed in Iraq

Associated Press
2007-05-24 23:30:00

BAGHDAD - A bomb hidden in a parked car struck the funeral procession of a Sunni tribal leader who was gunned down earlier Thursday, killing at least 26 mourners as al-Qaida appeared to turn up its campaign of frightening its growing opposition into submission.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Blix - Israel should comply with the same demand being made of Iran

Yaakov Lappin
2007-05-24 18:33:00

Israel should comply with the same demand being made of Iran, to cease its nuclear fuel-cycle and stop enriching uranium, Hans Blix, Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), told Ynetnews Thursday.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

The Loan Gunmen
Home Sales Soar by Record Amount, Prices Plunge by Record Amount

Martin Crutsinger
2007-05-24 08:56:00

The beleaguered housing industry is sending mixed signals, with sales of new homes surging in April by the biggest amount in 14 years while prices endured a record plunge.

Analysts said the price drop could provide evidence of builders' desperation. They are looking to reduce a glut of unsold homes in the face of the worst slump in sales in more than a decade.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Goldman Sachs Takes 'Private' Equity To a New Level with Private Stock Exchange for Minimum $100 Million Instutional Investors Only

Wall Street Journal
2007-05-25 06:08:00

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. ranks as the most profitable securities firm on Wall Street -- reflecting its mastery of trading on the world's public markets.

Now Goldman is turning that franchise on its head, creating its own private system to trade the stocks of companies that don't want the scrutiny and regulatory burdens of going public.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Greenspan fears (and helps cause) China market fall

2007-05-25 00:34:00

Chinese shares have fallen after former US Federal Reserve head Alan Greenspan said its stock market was overvalued and due for a "dramatic contraction".

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Mortgage industry reloads as subprime misery lingers

Peter Henderson, Tim McLaughlin, Andy Sullivan and Al Yoon
2007-05-24 23:59:00

NEW YORK - Angelo Mozilo, the butcher's son who built Countrywide Financial Corp. into the largest mortgage lender in the United States, was in no mood for soul-searching over the subprime home crisis.

Perched on an arm chair on a ballroom stage, Mozilo, who made $387 million in pay and stock options over the past five years, disavowed blame for the collapse, pleasing his audience of fellow mortgage-banking industry leaders and foot soldiers.

"You've got to be careful here about blaming ourselves too much," the deeply tanned and sharply dressed chairman of Countrywide told the Mortgage Bankers Association this week.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

The Living Planet
Swarm of bees forces passenger plane to land

2007-05-25 11:12:00


A passenger plane was forced to land after flying into a swarm of British bees Thursday.

The Palmair Boeing 737, with 90 passengers on board, had to return to Bournemouth Airport in southern England shortly after take-off following an engine surge.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

4.7-magnitude earthquake shakes Big Island

2007-05-24 10:22:00

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.7 struck beneath the Kilauea volcano's east rift zone Thursday and was followed by several smaller aftershocks on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Minor earthquake shakes Midlands - South Carolina

2007-05-25 10:18:00

A minor earthquake shook parts of Richland County on Thursday, emergency management officials said.

Earthquake sensors in South Carolina pegged the quake at a magnitude 2.4, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Professor Helps Develop Techniques To Reduce Threat Against Honeybees

2007-05-23 09:06:00

Although scientists around the country are investigating several possible causes, including pesticides, viruses, genetically modified crops and even cell phones, Amrine said he is certain that at least 70 percent of the CCD is caused by tiny mites, roughly the size of a sesame seed, and the pathogens they carry.

Amrine, an entomologist in WVU's Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, and one of the nation's foremost acarologists (mite specialist), bases that estimate on the research he has been doing on the bees since 1996.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

At Least 13 Dead In South African Cold Snap

2007-05-23 08:48:00

At least 13 people have died from the effect of freezing weather in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, the police disaster management coordinator for the district told AFP on Wednesday. "I can confirm that 13 people died in Eastern Cape region from the effect of snow and chilly weather," Captain John Folbein said in a telephone interview. The heaviest snowfalls in 20 years blocked major highways in South Africa on Tuesday, as a severe cold snap tightened its grip on the country.

The Tiffindell resort in the Eastern Cape after a heavy snowfall. The heaviest snowfalls for 20 years have blocked major highways as a severe cold snap tightens its grip on South Africa.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

21 Dead in China Flooding

The Guardian
2007-05-05 04:35:00

BEIJING - Heavy rainstorms in southwest China triggered flash floods and mudslides that killed 21 people and left 11 missing, state media said Friday.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Health & Wellness
Zero - the new alcohol limit in pregnancy

Rosemary Bennett
The Times
2007-05-25 13:31:00

Women who are pregnant or trying for a baby should stop drinking alcohol altogether, the Government's leading doctors give warning today.

The new advice radically revises existing guidelines, which say that women can drink up to two units once or twice a week. Fiona Adshead, the deputy chief medical officer, said that the change was meant to send "a strong signal" to the thousands of women who drank more than the recommended limit that they were putting their babies at risk. But she admitted that it was not in response to any new medical evidence.

Women are often confused about what drinking in moderation really means, the new guidelines say, and surveys suggest that many accidently or deliberately exceed the limit. "Our advice is simple: avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive," Dr Adshead said. "We have strengthened our advice to women to help ensure that no one underestimates the risk to the foetus."

Comment on this SOTT Focus

TV linked with poor diabetes control

Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer
Associated Press
2007-05-25 07:50:00

Diabetic children who spent the most time glued to the TV had a tougher time controlling their blood sugar, according to a Norwegian study that illustrates yet another downside of too much television.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Anti-abortion bill becomes law in Oklahoma

2007-05-25 11:24:00

A bill prohibiting public funds from being used for most abortions has become law in Oklahoma after a deadline passed for the state's governor to veto the measure.

"If the governor doesn't act, it becomes law," said his spokesman, Phil Bacharach. Gov. Brad Henry had until midnight on Wednesday night to veto the bill.

Henry, a Democrat, vetoed a previous bill that contained no exceptions for publicly funded abortions even in cases of rape or incest. The new version allows such an exception if the victim reports the crime to the police.

It easily passed the Republican-controlled House and got through the evenly divided state Senate with several votes from Democratic lawmakers.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Coffee may cut risk of gout, study finds

Julie Steenhuysen
2007-05-25 01:25:00

If men ever needed a reason to justify that extra cup of coffee, here it is: four or more cups of coffee a day appear to reduce the risk of gout, Canadian researchers said on Friday.

Gout is a painful joint disorder caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. It affects about 6 million people in the United States, and tends to be a bigger problem for men than women.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Ignoring the Warnings, Again?

The New York Times
2007-05-24 23:40:00

The latest findings on Avandia, a top-selling diabetes drug, raise concerns both about its safety and about the way the manufacturer and the Food and Drug Administration have responded to signs of danger. It would be rash to make definitive judgments until the F.D.A. completes a detailed analysis. But the handling of this case bears disturbing resemblances to the Vioxx debacle, in which early warning signs were ignored by its manufacturer until the evidence of serious harm became inescapable and the drug was pulled from the market.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Fear of Eating

Paul Krugman
2007-05-21 18:52:00

Yesterday I did something risky: I ate a salad.

These are anxious days at the lunch table. For all you know, there may be E. coli on your spinach, salmonella in your peanut butter and melamine in your pet's food and, because it was in the feed, in your chicken sandwich.

Who's responsible for the new fear of eating? Some blame globalization; some blame food-producing corporations; some blame the Bush administration. But I blame Milton Friedman.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Science & Technology
Astrophysicists find fractal image of Sun's 'Storm Season' imprinted on Solar Wind

The University of Warwick
2007-05-25 13:37:00

Plasma astrophysicists at the University of Warwick have found that key information about the Sun's 'storm season' is being broadcast across the solar system in a fractal snapshot imprinted in the solar wind. This research opens up new ways of looking at both space weather and the unstable behaviour that affects the operation of fusion powered power plants.

Fractals, mathematical shapes that retain a complex but similar patterns at different magnifications, are frequently found in nature from snowflakes to trees and coastlines. Now Plasma Astrophysicists in the University of Warwick's Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics have devised a new method to detect the same patterns in the solar wind.

The researchers, led by Professor Sandra Chapman, have also been able to directly tie these fractal patterns to the Sun's 'storm season'. The Sun goes through a solar cycle roughly 11 years long. The researchers found the fractal patterns in the solar wind occur when the Sun was at the peak of this cycle when the solar corona was at its most active, stormy and complex - sunspot activity, solar flares etc. When the corona was quieter no fractal patterns were found in the solar wind only general turbulence.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation

Science aGoGo
2007-05-25 13:26:00

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AEC) have found evidence that certain fungi possess another talent beyond their ability to decompose matter: the capacity to use radioactivity as an energy source for making food and spurring their growth.

Detailing the research in Public Library of Science ONE, AEC's Arturo Casadevall said his interest was piqued five years ago when he read about how a robot sent into the still-highly-radioactive Chernobyl reactor had returned with samples of black, melanin-rich fungi that were growing on the ruined reactor's walls. "I found that very interesting and began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi might be using the radiation emissions as an energy source," explained Casadevall.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

1,600-Year-Old Roman Man May Offer New Clues to London's Past

Brian Lysaght
2007-05-25 10:54:00

The remains of a wealthy Roman man, buried 1,600 years ago near London's St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, is providing clues for archaeologists trying to understand a little-known period in the city's history.

The remains of the man, who was in his early 40s when he died about A.D. 410, went on display yesterday at the Museum of London. The museum also is showing items found in tombs nearby that date from a period when the Saxons of northern Germany ruled the city.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Multi planet system that could alter planet formation theory discovered

2007-05-24 10:48:00

Researchers from the University of Texas have discovered a multi-planet system around an unexpected star, which they say could alter planet formation theories.

Astronomers William Cochran and Michael Endl, using the 9.2-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald Observatory discovered a system of two Jupiter-like planets orbiting a star whose composition seemed at odd with planet formation theories.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Quebec crater is out of this world

Ingrid Peritz
Globe and Mail
2007-05-25 10:30:00

A massive crater in Northern Quebec has been luring the curious for over 50 years. Diamond prospectors, Second World War pilots and National Geographic all made pilgrimages to the distant natural wonder.

Now, an international team led by Laval University in Quebec City has journeyed to the Pingualuit Crater near the Hudson Strait in hopes of unlocking 120,000 years worth of secrets about climate change.

©Michel Bouchard
Pingualuit Crater located on the Ungava Peninsula in northern Quebec.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Swimming dinosaur enters the history books

2007-05-25 01:29:00

Twelve footprints found in the bed of an ancient lake in northern Spain have thrown up the first compelling evidence that some land dinosaurs could swim, researchers reported Thursday.

The 15-metre (48.75-feet) -long track in sandstone "strongly suggests a floating animal clawing the sediment" as it swam against a current, they say.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Our Haunted Planet
The Secrets of Fatima: The visions of three shepherd children in 1917 still fascinate and intrigue us

Nigel Watson
2007-05-24 18:57:00

On Sunday, tens of thousands of pilgrims celebrated the 90th anniversary of the famous visions seen at Fatima, Portugal. In response to the continuing interest in the "third secret" given to the three shepherd children, which is rumored to have predicted the end of the Catholic church and/or the world, the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone -- the Pope's second-in-command -- has declared that it is "pure fantasy."

To counter "the most absurd theses" Bertone has published The Last Fatima Visionary: My Meetings With Sister Lucia, which so far is only available in Italian. He said, "Clearing up the question was a pastoral concern."

The visions of a radiant "lady" floating above an oak tree at Fatima, Portugal, on a monthly basis from May to October 1917, have fascinated people for decades. Originally the sightings by three children were interpreted as being of the Virgin Mary, which is understandable considering the social and religious context of the percipients and the period.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Monsters Inc: Shoot first, ask questions later

Cabinet of Wonders
2007-05-17 18:54:00

On August 27, 1783, a terrifying monster - perhaps even the Devil himself - descended from the stormy skies and began rampaging through the French village of Gonesse. A posse of brave villagers attacked it with scythes and pitchforks and soon ripped it to shreds. The monster, of course, was merely an unmanned balloon sent aloft by physicist Jacques Charles. Three months later, Charles and a companion made the first manned ascent in a hydrogen balloon. One imagines they were somewhat relieved not to land anywhere near Gonesse!

Strange visitors from the skies have always inspired terror - whether they be balloons, comets or motherships. Even in our own times, people frequently react to the unknown with the same primal savagery as the peasants of Gonesse. The only difference is that nowadays the weapon of choice tends to be a shotgun rather than a pitchfork.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Do Werewolves Roam The Woods Of England?

2007-05-17 18:42:00

Well, I said that I was going to publish the details of the latest wave of British werewolf sightings to my blog next week; however, a bit of free time came along this afternoon, so here's the story a few days earlier than expected.

Britain has a long history of lycanthropy - from the tale of the notorious Flixton Werewolf that terrorized the north of England more than a thousand years ago, to the strange sagas of the Hexham Heads, the Abbotsham werewolf, the wild Wolfman of Lynton, and countless others.

But quite possibly nothing compares with the incredible wave of wolfish-weirdness that has recently descended upon Britain's Cannock Chase - a large area of forest land in central England, and a location that has become a veritable hotbed for encounters with big cats, ghostly black dogs, Bigfoot-like entities, and now werewolves.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Of Invisible Men, Chimeras and The Demiurge

UFO Paradigm Probe
2007-05-18 18:25:00

'Precisely," said Griffin. "But consider, visibility depends on the action of the visible bodies on light. Either a body absorbs light, or it reflects or refracts it, or does all these things. If it neither reflects nor refracts nor absorbs light, it cannot of itself be visible. You see an opaque red box, for instance, because the colour absorbs some of the light and reflects the rest, all the red part of the light, to you.

If it did not absorb any particular part of the light, but reflected it all, then it would be a shining white box. Silver! A diamond box would neither absorb much of the light nor reflect much from the general surface, but just here and there where the surfaces were favourable the light would be reflected and refracted, so that you would get a brilliant appearance of flashing reflections and translucencies - a sort of skeleton of light. A glass box would not be so brilliant, not so clearly visible, as a diamond box, because there would be less refraction and reflection. See that? From certain points of view you would see quite clearly through it. Some kinds of glass would be more visible than others, a box of flint glass would be brighter than a box of ordinary window glass.

A box of very thin common glass would be hard to see in a bad light, because it would absorb hardly any light and refract and reflect very little. And if you put a sheet of common white glass in water, still more if you put it in some denser liquid than water, it would vanish almost altogether, because light passing from water to glass is only slightly refracted or reflected or indeed affected in any way. It is almost as invisible as a jet of coal gas or hydrogen is in air. And for precisely the same reason!"'

-HG Wells The Invisible Man

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Flashback: 'Where have all the bloody teaspoons gone?' The case of the disappearing teaspoons

2005-12-24 14:16:00

In January 2004 the authors of the research found their tearoom bereft of teaspoons. Although a flunky (MSCL) was rapidly dispatched to purchase a new batch, these replacements in turn disappeared within a few months. Exasperated by our consequent inability to stir in our sugar and to accurately dispense instant coffee, we decided to respond in time honoured epidemiologists' fashion and measure the phenomenon.

A search of the medical and other scientific literature through Google, Google Scholar, and Medline using the keywords "teaspoon", "spoon", "workplace", "loss" and "attrition" revealed nothing about the phenomenon of teaspoon loss. Lacking any guidance from previous researchers, we set out to answer the age old question "Where have all the bloody teaspoons gone?" We aimed to determine the overall rate of loss of teaspoons and the half life of teaspoons in our institute, whether teaspoons placed in communal tearooms were lost at a different rate from teaspoons placed in individual tearooms, and whether better quality teaspoons would be more attractive to spoon shifters or be more highly valued and respected and therefore move and disappear more slowly.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Wolf-beast pacified!

The Dominion Post
2007-05-25 14:02:00

Like most three-week-old babies, Hugo has a dummy to suckle - the only difference is his is a solution to a dog of a problem.

Staff at Wellington SPCA gave the little labrador-cross pooch and his sister, Lottie, baby pacifiers because they were becoming ill from sucking on each other.

©ANDREW GORRIE/Dominion Post
Hugo the three-week-old Labrador Cross puppy gets his teeth into a baby pacifier at Wellington SPCA.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Bush In Line of Fire

Political Radar ABC
2007-05-25 13:55:00

ABC's Ann Compton reports: An outdoor news conference in perfect spring weather, with birds chirping loudly in the magnolia trees, is not without its hazards.

As President Bush took a question Thursday in the White House Rose Garden about scandals involving his Attorney General, he remarked, "I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doin' the job."

Simultaneously, a sparrow flew overhead and left a splash on the President's sleeve, which Bush tried several times to wipe off.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Burger bosses want ban 'McJob' from UK dictionary

Kent News
2007-05-25 13:48:00

Bosses at fast food giant McDonald's chose Canterbury to launch a nationwide bid to get rid of the term 'McJob', which they say insults thousands of honest workers across Britain.

The company has organised a national petition calling for UK dictionaries to drop the existing definition of the word "an unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector".

The term "McJob" was invented by Canadian author Douglas Copeland in his 1991 novel "Generation X: Tales Of An Accelerated Culture".

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Cairo customs prevents snakes on a plane

2007-05-24 12:37:00

Customs officers at Cairo's airport on Thursday detained a man bound for Saudi Arabia who was trying to smuggle 700 live snakes on a plane, airport authorities said.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Man claims new sleepless record

2007-05-25 11:15:00

A Cornish man says he has broken the world record for sleep deprivation by staying awake for 11 days and nights.

Tony Wright, 42, from Penzance, was trying to beat the Guinness world record of 264 sleepless hours set by Randy Gardner in the US in 1964.

He fought off tiredness by drinking tea, playing pool and keeping a diary.

The Guinness Book of Records has since withdrawn its backing of a sleep deprivation class because of the associated health risks.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Remember, we need your help to collect information on what is going on in your part of the world!
Send your article suggestions to: sott(at)signs-of-the-times.org

Click here to return to the Signs of the Times Archive

Click here for today's Signs Page