- Signs of the Times Archive for Mon, 11 Jun 2007 -

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SOTT Focus
Signs Economic Commentary for 11 June 2007

Donald Hunt
Signs of the Times
2007-06-11 08:29:00

Big moves in the markets last week. The Dow lost a lot of ground through Thursday, but regained some on Friday to close down less than 2% for the week. But gold dropped 4% and the ten-year T-note rose to 5.11%. Something seems to be up - but what is it?

In other news, the media took notice of a troubling recent trend: the super-rich buying massive tracts of land in South America. Why are they doing this? To secure fresh water sources? To have a place to sit out the next ice age? To set up their own kingdoms in a post-war or post apocalyptic world?

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Best of the Web
Dissidents Against Dogma

2007-06-10 19:56:00

We should never be more vigilant than at the moment a new dogma is being installed. The claque endorsing what is now dignified as "the mainstream theory" of global warming stretches all the way from radical greens through Al Gore to George W. Bush, who signed on at the end of May. The left has been swept along, entranced by the allure of weather as revolutionary agent, naïvely conceiving of global warming as a crisis that will force radical social changes on capitalism by the weight of the global emergency. Amid the collapse of genuinely radical politics, they have seen it as the alarm clock prompting a new Great New Spiritual Awakening.

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Seasons in Hell: Voices From the American Gulag

Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque
2007-06-10 18:29:00

I. The Life of a King

The Independent has a remarkable story on Sami al-Haj, the Sudanese journalist who has been held in George W. Bush's concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay for five years. Haj has not been charged with any crime, but he is undoubtedly guilty of a grave sin in the eyes of the Bush Regime: he is a cameraman for Al Jazeera.

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U.S. News
Bush plans rare trip to Capitol Hill over immigration bill

Kathy Kiely
USA Today
2007-06-11 17:28:00

President Bush plans a rare trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday in an effort to resurrect a bipartisan immigration deal that collapsed last week amid partisan recriminations.

Bush will join Republican senators at their weekly luncheon meeting, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Sunday. Backers of the bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pulled from the Senate agenda late Thursday are hoping that Bush's personal lobbying will help revive the measure.

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Bush confident US immigration bill will pass

2007-06-11 09:07:00

US President George W. Bush was confident Monday that the most sweeping overhaul of US immigration laws in two decades will ultimately clear Congress once he gets home from his European tour.

Speaking in Bulgaria's capital Sofia, Bush acknowledged disappointment that the legislation -- aimed at bringing 12 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows -- collapsed Thursday in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

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Navy doc charged with taping mids' sex. Defense says he is a victim of extortion

Earl Kelly
Capital Online
2007-06-11 12:47:00

A Navy physician who sponsored Naval Academy midshipmen has been charged with secretly videotaping them and their dates having sex at his Annapolis home.

But a defense attorney said the doctor didn't make the recordings and was a victim of extortion by a former midshipman who flunked out of the academy.

Cmdr. Kevin Ronan has been charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, violating federal wiretapping laws and the Maryland law against surreptitious videotaping, and obstructing justice, the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery said yesterday.

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DA in Duke rape case faces trial on ethics charges

Associated Press
2007-06-11 12:24:00

More than a year after he took the lead in investigating claims three men raped a stripper at a party thrown by Duke's lacrosse team - Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong will stand trial himself tomorrow.

He is scheduled to face ethics charges ranging from lying to the court to withholding potentially exculpatory evidence.

"On one hand, he's very anxious to go ahead and have the hearing so he can present the evidence about the allegations against him," said David Freedman, one of Nifong's two attorneys. "On the other hand, it's an extremely stressful situation for any lawyer to go through."

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Two Children Found Dead in Car Trunk

Erika Harsh
2007-06-11 12:16:00

Two young brothers were found dead in the trunk of their mother's car Sunday morning in Laurel County.

State police say 11-year-old Coty Baker and 8-year-old Chase Baker were likely playing in the trunk when they became trapped.

Neighbors say the brothers were last seen around 5:00pm Saturday. Three hours later, they still had not been seen, so their grandfather called 911.

Shortly after 12:30am, state police say they were found dead in the trunk of Hannah Miller's 1996 Adui.

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Angelina Jolie Joins Council on Foreign Relations

Mary Green
2007-06-07 09:30:00

Angelina Jolie has been showing her glamorous side lately - walking red carpets from Cannes to Hollywood - but Thursday she was honored for her philanthropic work by joining the Council on Foreign Relations, PEOPLE has learned exclusively.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Bush braced for problems back home

KN Staff Reporter
2007-06-11 15:45:00

SOFIA, Bulgaria - President Bush braced for problems at home Monday with the cheers from his European trip still ringing in his ears.

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Putin's Censored Press Conference: The transcript you weren't supposed to see

Mike Whitney
2007-06-10 14:07:00

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an hour and a half-long press conference which was attended by many members of the world media. The contents of that meeting---in which Putin answered all questions concerning nuclear proliferation, human rights, Kosovo, democracy and the present confrontation with the United States over missile defense in Europe---have been completely censored by the press. Apart from one brief excerpt which appeared in a Washington Post editorial, (and which was used to criticize Putin) the press conference has been scrubbed from the public record. It never happened. (Read the entire press conference archived here )

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Beijing probes Olympic workers abuse charges

2007-06-11 13:33:00

Organisers of the Beijing Olympics launched an investigation Monday into allegations that Chinese factories making official Olympic goods used child labour and engaged in widespread worker abuse.

"The organising committee attaches great importance to the labour conditions of the enterprises producing Olympic goods," Sun Weide, spokesman for the Beijing Olympic organising committee (BOCOG), told AFP.

"We have launched an official investigation."

A report issued Sunday by the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) accused four firms supplying goods for the 2008 Summer Games of abuses including the use of child labour and payment of wages at half the legal minimum.

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At least 14 people injured in bomb blast in Istanbul

2007-06-11 10:45:00

ANKARA -- At least 14 people were injured when a bomb went off in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul on Sunday, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

The blast occurred at around 3:30 p.m. local time (1230 GMT)outside a store on a busy street in the city's Bakirkoy district, the report said.

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FSB report: Scotland is 'worst small country'

2007-06-11 09:56:00

Scotland is the worst performing small country in Western Europe, according to a report by business leaders.

The Federation of Small Businesses' annual Index of Wealth compared 10 countries on economic performance, employment rates, health and education.

Scotland's life expectancy rate was a major factor in it coming bottom.

FSB Scotland said the new SNP government had its work cut out to improve the nation, but ministers said Scotland "can and will do better".

Scotland also fell by one place, to 17th, in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's table of the world's 24 most developed countries.

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UK: Woman shot dead by police officer

2007-06-11 09:49:00

A woman has been shot and killed by armed police in Kent, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has said.

Kent Police were called after a 37-year-old woman with a gun was seen in the centre of Sevenoaks at 0120 BST.

Armed officers shot the woman who has not been identified. She was given first aid at the scene but pronounced dead.

Part of the centre of Sevenoaks including the bus station has been sealed off following the incident.

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Around the World
AP Interview: Chavez Connects With Poor

Ian James
2007-06-11 16:08:00

MANTECAL, Venezuela - The Toyota 4Runner pulled to a stop on the country road and a tinted window rolled down. Passers-by gawked, then broke into a run, screaming "president!" when they realized Hugo Chavez was at the wheel. "I love you!" cried a middle-aged woman with tears in her eyes, thrusting a fistful of flowers into the car.

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Judges body "shocked" by Zimbabwe rights abuses

Muchena Zigomo
2007-06-11 13:19:00

Beatings and other abuses inflicted on lawyers are damaging the legal system in Zimbabwe, a group of international judges said on Monday.

Following a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe last week, the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said it was "shocked" by the extent of government abuse of the legal and judicial system.

"We were shocked. The beatings of lawyers, beatings of people and in particular the refusal by the police to carry out court orders, was shocking," head of mission Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dube said.

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Russian, British warships meet for joint exercise in Atlantic

RIA Novosti
2007-06-11 11:18:00

Russian and British men-of-war have met up in the northwestern Atlantic for an international exercise that will also involve ships from France and the United States, a spokesman for Russia's navy said Monday.

"A squadron of Russian warships, including the submarine destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and the ocean-going tanker Sergei Osipov, joined the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Portland in the northwestern Atlantic," said Russian Navy Chief Communications Officer Igor Dygalo.

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50,000 Years of Resilience May Not Save Tanzanian Tribe

Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post
2007-06-10 11:09:00

One of the last remaining tribes of hunter-gatherers on the planet is on the verge of vanishing into the modern world.

The transition has been long underway, but members of the dwindling Hadzabe tribe, who now number fewer than 1,500, say it is being unduly hastened by a United Arab Emirates royal family, which plans to use the tribal hunting land as a personal safari playground.

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Report: China Biggest Asia Arms Spender

The Guardian
2007-06-11 10:01:00

The United States remained the world's biggest military spender last year, devoting about $528 billion to arms, while China overtook Japan as Asia's top arms spender, a Swedish research institute said Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said the United States spent the most on arms, ahead of Britain and France.

''The large increase in the USA's military spending is to a great extent due to the costly military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,'' SIPRI said in its annual report.

China's growing military expenditures reached nearly $50 billion, making it the fourth biggest arms spender in the world, SIPRI said in its annual report. Japan was fifth with $43.7 billion.

The figures cited were in 2005 dollars.

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Calderón seeks "Plan Colombia" for Mexico

2007-06-10 10:10:00

The government of Mexican President Felipe Calderón has issued a formal request to the US Congress for a huge increase in military aid to combat narco-gangs. The request came in a recent US-Mexico Inter-Parliamentary Meeting held in Austin, TX, and was revealed to the Mexican daily La Jornada by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), leader of the House Intelligence Committee. La Jornada called the request a "Plan Colombia" for Mexico, although without an actual US military troop presence. (La Jornada, June 8)

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Big Brother
Smile! Your boss may be watching!

Associated Press
2007-06-11 13:09:00

Government employees in a Malaysian state are being monitored by security cameras to keep them from slacking off at work or vanishing for long tea breaks, a news report said Monday.

Sixteen closed-circuit television cameras were installed recently to improve security in northeastern Terengganu state's main government administrative complex, but they serve an additional purpose of keeping tabs on some 1,000 workers there, Terengganu State Secretary Mokhtar Nong told The Star newspaper.

"We would know if they are adhering to office etiquette or playing truant, and we can also gauge if they are disciplined at work," Mokhtar said, adding that another 26 cameras will be set up soon.

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Watchdog Group Slams Google on Privacy

2007-06-11 05:11:00

Google Inc. (GOOG)'s privacy practices are the worst among the Internet's top destinations, according to a watchdog group seeking to intensify the recent focus on how the online search leader handles personal information about its users.

In a report released Saturday, London-based Privacy International assigned Google its lowest possible grade. The category is reserved for companies with "comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy."

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Flashback: Google is watching you - and soon your DNA as well

Robert Verkaik
The Independent
2007-05-24 16:39:00

Google, the world's biggest search engine, is setting out to create the most comprehensive database of personal information ever assembled, one with the ability to tell people how to run their lives.

In a mission statement that raises the spectre of an internet Big Brother to rival Orwellian visions of the state, Google has revealed details of how it intends to organise and control the world's information.

The company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, said during a visit to Britain this week: "The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as 'What shall I do tomorrow?' and 'What job shall I take?'."

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Inmates Sue After Prisons Ban Religious Books

2007-06-10 13:23:00

Inmates at the federal prison camp in Otisville, N.Y., were stunned at what they saw at the chapel library on Memorial Day: Hundreds of books disappeared from the shelves.

The removal of the books is occurring nationwide -- part of a long-delayed post-Sept. 11 federal directive designed to prevent radical religious texts, specifically Islamic ones, from 'falling into the hands of violent inmates'.

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At least 285 English schools are fingerprinting children

Mick Meaney
2007-06-08 22:34:00

Almost 300 English schools are now using fingerprinting technology on children, most without Government guidance or parental consent, a Liberal Democrat investigation has revealed.

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CCTV snooping into homes

Mick Meaney
2007-06-09 22:20:00

Alarmed residents in Islington, London, UK, have highlighted a truly disturbing habit of local CCTV camera operators - spying into homes.

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Axis of Evil
Man labeled "enemy combatant" wins court case

James Vicini
2007-06-11 13:04:00

President George W. Bush cannot order the military to seize and indefinitely detain a Qatari national and suspected al Qaeda operative, the only person being held in the United States as an "enemy combatant," an appeals court ruled on Monday.

In a major setback for Bush's policies in the war on terrorism adopted after the September 11 attacks, the appellate panel ruled 2-1 the U.S. government had no evidence to treat Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri as an "enemy combatant." The court ordered him released from military custody.

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Powell says Guantanamo should be shut immediately. Where was he before?

2007-06-11 12:29:00

Former secretary of state Colin Powell said yesterday that the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay for foreign terrorism suspects should be immediately closed and its inmates moved to the United States.

Powell said the controversial prison in Cuba has hurt the image of the United States abroad and done more harm than good.

"Guantanamo has become a major, major problem . . . in the way the world perceives America and if it were up to me I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow but this afternoon," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I would not let any of those people go," Powell said. "I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system."

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Israel, 'Zionist ghetto' not state‎, says Israel's former parliament speaker; compares Israel to Nazi Germany

Press TV
2007-06-11 07:01:00

Israel's former parliament speaker has branded Israel as a 'Zionist ghetto', scoffing at the regime's self-definition as a Jewish state.

In an interview published in Ha'aretz daily on Friday, Avraham Burg said that this self-definition is the key to the regime's ruin.

"It [Israel] can't work anymore. It's explosive. It's dynamite." said Burg, parliamentary speaker from 1999 to 2003.

Burg has newly written a book, Defeating Hitler in which Ha'aretz says he describes Israel as a "Zionist ghetto" and compares Israeli behavior in the occupied Palestinian territories against Palestinians to that of Nazi Germany.

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Israel launches spy satellite

Yaakov Katz
Jerusalem Post
2007-06-11 11:21:00

In the face of Iran's race to obtain nuclear weapons and predictions that war with Syria is on the horizon, Israel strengthened its foothold in space pre-dawn Monday and successfully launched a spy satellite, which defense officials said granted the IDF unprecedented operational capabilities.

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World Jewish Congress elects new Zionist leader

2007-06-11 03:11:00

NEW YORK - A cosmetics magnate and former U.S. ambassador was elected on Sunday as president of the World Jewish Congress, which has led the campaign to win millions of dollars in restitution from Swiss banks holding the assets of Holocaust victims.

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Of Course! Blair 'may become a Catholic deacon'

Daily Mail
2007-06-10 23:58:00

Visit to Vatican to see the Pope as last trip before quitting No10 'is highly significant'

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Middle East Madness
Two Red Cross workers, soldier killed at Lebanon siege camp

2007-06-11 13:27:00

Two Red Cross workers and a soldier were killed on Monday around a besieged camp in north Lebanon where the army has struggled to crush Islamist militiamen for the past three weeks.

A Lebanese Red Cross source said the two relief workers were hit at the northern entrance to the refugee camp by gunfire or a shell, which according to initial reports came from inside the Nahr al-Bared camp.

The soldier was killed by sniper fire from inside the battered Palestinian refugee camp where Fatah al-Islam militiamen are entrenched, a military spokesman told AFP.

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TA fountains painted red to protest killing of Palestinians

Moran Rada
2007-06-11 11:20:00

Anarchist activists sprayed red paint on walls across Tel Aviv Sunday night and added red paint to the water in several fountains, as an act of protest against Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

IDF offices in Tel Aviv were "bombarded" during the night with red paint bombs, and the water in the fountains in Masaryk Square and Dizzengof Square were painted red.

According to the anarchists, the paint represents "the blood of the thousands who were killed and the tens of thousands who were injured throughout the long years of occupation, and was meant to illustrate the scope of the killing that is being carried out by the occupation army only several dozen miles away from Tel Aviv."

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Turkish helicopters enter Iraq

2007-06-09 10:15:00

Eyewitnesses say three Turkish military helicopters have entered northern Iraq and the PUK say Turkish artillery has shelled Kurdish regions.

According to the NetKurd website, local residents said the helicopters entered Iraqi Kurdish areas through the Goli region and landed near the village of Sili.

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Gaza TV women protest at threats of "shadowy Islamist group"

2007-06-11 07:44:00

Palestinian television journalists have protested for a second day in Gaza against threats by a shadowy Islamist group to decapitate female presenters.

The group calling itself the Swords of Truth accused women TV journalists of acting "without shame or morals".

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US military arming Sunni groups in Iraq: report

2007-06-11 02:52:00

US military commanders in Iraq are turning to a new counterinsurgency strategy, which involves arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al-Qaeda, The New York Times reported on its website late Sunday.

Comment: There is no doubt that the US is doing all it can to create ethnic tensions, so as to make a civil war become a reality. Divide and rule.

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Joint US-Israeli military exercises begin

2007-06-11 01:44:00

JERUSALEM - American and Israeli air forces on Sunday began week-long joint exercises in southern Israel, simulating dog-fights and bombing targets on the ground, the army said.

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The Loan Gunmen
Putin calls for new financial world order

Neil Buckley and Catherine Belton
2007-06-10 19:10:00

Russian president Vladimir Putin called on Sunday for a radical overhaul of the world's financial and trade institutions to reflect the growing economic power of emerging market countries - including Russia.

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Wheat Prices Hit Record High As Rain Menaces Midwestern Crop, Leaving East Corn Belt Dry

Lauren Villagran
Associated Press
2007-06-11 12:54:00

Wheat prices surged to a record high for 2007 Monday as heavy rains threatened to damage an already tarnished crop.

Elsewhere, the commodity markets began a recovery from Friday's sharp losses in industrial and precious metals and a more than $2 drop in crude oil prices. Gold, oil and copper edged higher, while other agriculture futures logged sharp gains on the back of the wheat rally.

While rain soaked Midwestern wheat fields on Monday, dry skies stifled the moisture-hungry eastern Corn Belt, sending corn prices above $4 a bushel.

"The rain falling in the U.S. is falling in all the wrong places," said DTN market analyst Elaine Kub.

Bullish traders also ran with a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday in which the agency lowered its projections for winter wheat production this month.

Wheat for July delivery jumped 29.5 cents to $5.57 a bushel at midday on the Chicago Board of Trade. The exchange limits daily price swings to 30 cents in either direction.

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States Finding Fiscal Surprise: A Cash Surplus

Jennifer Steinhauer
The New York Times
2007-06-11 11:05:00

State lawmakers across the country, their coffers unexpectedly full of cash, have been handing out tax cuts, spending money on fixing roads, schools and public buildings, and socking something away for less fruitful years.

Budget surpluses have largely stemmed from higher than expected tax collections - corporate tax revenues alone were 11 percent higher than budget estimates - and booming local economies. There has also been some relief in Medicaid spending, which fell from an 11 percent annual growth rate to something closer to 7 percent in the past few years.

More than 40 states have found themselves with more money than they planned as they wound down their regular sessions. Governors in 23 of those states proposed tax cuts, and a majority of states with surpluses chose to shore up their roads, schools and rainy day funds. For example, lawmakers in Utah agreed to a $1 billion bond act to fix state roads and add lane miles, while in Idaho state spending on education outpaced that on Medicaid for the first time in 20 years.

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The Living Planet
Mudslides kill 79 in Bangladesh

2007-06-11 14:00:00

At least 79 people have been killed in mudslides following heavy rain in the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh, officials say.

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Dozens killed as heatwave cooks north India

2007-06-11 13:21:00

Hot and dusty desert winds have caused a heatwave across the plains of northern India, killing 74 people over the last week, officials and local media reports said on Monday.

Most of the dead were beggars, homeless and people working in the open hit by sunstrokes and dehydration.

The Press Trust of India put the toll at 74, including 15 in the western desert state of Rajasthan and nine in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh during the weekend.

Temperatures peaked on Saturday, reaching 48.9 degrees Celsius in Ganganagar in the desert state of Rajasthan, said S.C. Bhan, director at the Regional Meteorological Centre in New Delhi.

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Denver targets global warming

Stuart Steers
Rocky Mountain News
2007-06-11 12:44:00

Denver is gearing up to fight global warming, and residents may soon be asked to make personal sacrifices to help save the planet.

The new plan is aimed at making Denver a national leader in reducing gas emissions that have been linked to global warming, giving a major push to alternative energy, stepping up recycling and changing building codes to encourage energy conservation.

Comment: Meanwhile Bush won't set any significant regulations.

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Denver Sees Coldest June Morning In Over 50 Years

Chris Spears
The Denver Channel
2007-06-08 12:52:00

Did you have frost on your windows this morning? It felt more like March or early April along the Front Range.

The temperature at Denver International Airport fell to 31 degrees at 5:44 a.m. Friday, setting a new record low for the date.

This shattered the old record of 37 degrees, last set in 1974.

The new record low will also become the latest freeze on record for the city of Denver. The previous date of latest freeze ever recorded was June 2, 1951.

Temperatures have only dropped below freezing two other times during the month of June; in 1919 and 1951.

The coldest June temperature ever recorded was 30 degrees on June 2, 1951.

Every time there is a new weather record set for the city of Denver, the debate about where the official weather station is located arises.

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Quakes Rattle Ishikawa Pref., Vicinity On Sea Of Japan Coast

2007-06-11 12:05:00

A series of earthquakes, including one with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0, jolted Ishikawa Prefecture and neighboring prefectures early Monday, AFP quoted the Japan Meteorological Agency as saying.

No tsunami warnings were issued.

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Cyclone Gonu suspected in alien jellyfish invasion

Daniel Bardsley and Emmanuelle Landais
2007-06-11 09:51:00

Swimmers were banned from the sea yesterday after lifeguards spotted jellyfish they say have never been seen before in Dubai.

Staff at Jumeirah Beach Park speculated that the tiny purple and white creatures had been blown here by Cyclone Gonu.

Red flags were hoisted at the beach park yesterday as well as the Open Beach due to a large number of jellyfish spotted in the morning. However swimmers were seen in the late afternoon at Umm Suqeim Beach.

Barbara Scocci, 31, an Italian tourist visiting family in Dubai said an hour after she had arrived at the beach yesterday morning a Dubai Municipality jeep cruised up and down the shoreline calling everybody out of the water with a megaphone.

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Health & Wellness
Do fingernails reveal any information about a person's health?

The Boston Globe
2007-06-11 12:32:00

To the extent that nails provide clues to health, these clues are usually too little, too late.

Years ago, when sophisticated diagnostic tests were not available, doctors sometimes looked to the appearance of nails for clues to a patient's health, said Dr. Howard Baden , a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "And the nails do change with some diseases. But by the time the nails are involved, the patient is pretty sick," he said.

Although not good for diagnostic purposes, fluctuations in health can show up as changes in nails. Many people, for instance, have longitudinal lines on the nails. But these occur with normal aging and "don't mean anything is wrong systemically," said Dr. Rebecca Kazin , associate professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University.

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Proposed Model: Competition, loss of selfishness mark shift to supersociety

CLAS News Release
2007-06-11 12:03:00

How social or altruistic behavior evolved has been a central and hotly debated question, particularly by those researchers engaged in the study of social insect societies - ants, bees and wasps. In these groups, this question of what drives altruism also becomes critical to further understanding of how ancestral or primitive social organizations (with hierarchies and dominance fights, and poorly developed division of labor) evolve to become the more highly sophisticated networks found in some eusocial insect collectives termed "superorganisms."

In a paper published online May 21 before print by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a pair of researchers from Cornell University and Arizona State University propose a model, based on tug-of-war theory, that may explain the selection pressures that mark the evolutionary transition from primitive society to superorganism and which may bring some order to the conflicted thinking about the roles of individual, kin, and group selection that underlie the formation of such advanced eusocial groups.

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Sleep problems may affect a person's diet

2007-06-11 11:53:00

Sleep problems can influence a person's diet. Those who don't get enough sleep are less likely to cook their own meals and, instead, opt to eat fast food. It is the lack of nutritional value of this restaurant-prepared food that may cause health problems for these people in the long-run, according to a research abstract that will be presented Monday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

Mindy Engle-Friedman, PhD, of the City University of New York, surveyed nine females and 12 males, all undergraduates who completed a "sleep and eating habits" questionnaire. For seven days, the participants completed diaries, with each entry detailing how much sleep they got the night before and what they ate the following day.

Preliminary findings showed that individuals reporting problems with total sleep time, sleep latency and awakenings were more likely to eat restaurant-prepared or fast food rather than food made at home on day two than were individuals with no reported sleep problems. Further, individuals with sleep problems were also less likely to eat food prepared at home on days four and seven.

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Gabapentin Shown Effective for Fibromyalgia Pain

NIH News
2007-06-11 11:50:00

New research supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) shows that the anticonvulsant medication gabapentin, which is used for certain types of seizures, can be an effective treatment for the pain and other symptoms associated with the common, often hard-to-treat chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia.

In the NIAMS-sponsored, randomized, double-blind clinical trial of 150 women (90 percent) and men with the condition, Lesley M. Arnold, M.D., director of the Women's Health Research Program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and her colleagues found that those taking gabapentin at dosages of 1,200 to 2,400 mg daily for 12 weeks displayed significantly less pain than those taking placebo. Patients taking gabapentin also reported significantly better sleep and less fatigue. For the majority of participants, the drug was well tolerated. The most common side effects included dizziness and sedation, which were mild to moderate in severity in most cases.

NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz. M.D., Ph.D., remarked that "While gabapentin does not have Food and Drug Administration approval for fibromyalgia, I believe this study offers additional insight to physicians considering the drug for their fibromyalgia patients. Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition for which current treatments are only modestly effective, so a study such as this is potentially good news for people with this common, painful condition."

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Antihistamine Shows Promise in Treating Alzheimer's

Andrew Pollack
The New York Times
2007-06-11 09:43:00

A drug long used as an antihistamine in Russia is showing what some scientists characterize as surprisingly strong results in treating Alzheimer's disease.

Results of a midstage clinical trial are expected to be presented this week that will show that patients treated with the drug, Dimebon, did better than those receiving a placebo on all five measures of cognition and behavior.

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Scientists develop pill to delay the menopause

Daniel Martin
Daily Mail
2007-06-11 09:39:00

New drugs are being developed that could stave off the menopause, it has been revealed.

They could lead to a fertility revolution, allowing women to wait longer to have a child.

The dramatic news came from fertility expert Professor Robert Winston. He told a conference that researchers had found a protein which they believe could be developed into a pill or an injection to extend the life of women's eggs.

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Science & Technology
Israel's Space Agency: We'll launch more satellites by 2010

Moran Rada
2007-06-11 20:51:00

Following launching of Ofek-7 into space, officials say more advanced satellites will be launched in coming years
©Defense Ministry
Ofek-7 being launched

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Ice ages dried up African monsoons

New Scientist
2007-06-11 13:34:00

When ice ages held Europe in their grip, Africa also felt the pinch - though in a different way.

It has long been suspected that there is a connection between the west African monsoon and climate at higher latitudes - especially over geological timescales, says David Lea at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "But until now, there hasn't been enough supporting evidence." Now Lea, with team leader Syee Weldeab and colleagues, has reconstructed the most detailed history of the monsoon yet, spanning 155,000 years and two ice ages.

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Paper cuts: Why don't they always happen?

The Boston Globe
2007-06-11 12:37:00

Paper cuts are actually pretty subtle phenomena and, as you point out, sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't.

The first thing that's needed to break skin is pressure. Pressure is force per unit area. To get an idea of why it's pressure that matters more than force, think of what's worse -- someone standing on your hand with a stiletto heel (small area in contact) or a flat shoe (large area).

With paper, the area of the edge that cuts you is tiny, so even a small force will give a large pressure. This is not the whole story, however, since paper is floppy and can buckle before it manages to cut through skin. To get a paper cut you need to have the paper supported in such a way that it tends not to bend easily. This can happen when you have a book or a ream of paper where one page can easily slide out a little from the rest and present a cutting edge, but still be held tightly against bending.

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War Games Model: UGA study finds that weaker nations prevail in 39 percent of military conflicts

Sam Fahmy
2007-06-11 11:33:00

Despite overwhelming military superiority, the world's most powerful nations failed to achieve their objectives in 39 percent of their military operations since World War II, according to a new University of Georgia study.

The study, by assistant professor Patricia L. Sullivan in the UGA School of Public and International Affairs, explains the circumstances under which more powerful nations are likely to fail and creates a model that allows policymakers to calculate the probability of success in current and future conflicts.

"If you know some key variables - like the major objective, the nature of the target, whether there's going to be another strong state that will intervene on the side of the target and whether you'll have an ally - you can get a sense of your probability of victory," said Sullivan, whose study appears in the June issue of the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Sullivan said the most important factor influencing whether the more powerful nation is successful is whether its strategic objective can be accomplished with brute force alone or requires the cooperation of the adversary.

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Let's blame humans for everything: Humans and not comet (gawd forbid) had help finishing off woolly mammoths

Charles Q. Choi
Live Science
2007-06-11 11:26:00

Humans might have finished off the woolly mammoths, but the genetics of the giants apparently helped them decline well beforehand, scientists now find.

The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) was coated in hair up to 20 inches long and possessed extremely long, curved tusks up to 16 feet in length. The giants lived for tens of thousands of years, apparently going extinct roughly 12,000 years ago, around the end of the last ice age.

For years, scientists suspected that ancient human tribes hunted the mammoths and other ice age giants to oblivion. Recent research seems to contradict this notion, however - for instance, a comet or tuberculosis may have helped kill off the American mastodons (Mammut americanum), closely related to mammoths.

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Astronomers Identify The Most Massive Star - Ever

University of Montreal
2007-06-10 11:18:00

Although stars with masses reaching up to 150 times the mass of the Sun are expected in the local Universe, no one has reliably found a star exceeding 83 solar masses so far. Until now that is. A team of astronomers from Universite de Montreal has identified the most massive star ever weighed. The details are being presented today by Professor Anthony Moffat at the annual meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) held at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston (ON).

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Our Haunted Planet
Was blinding light a meteor?

Shirley Wijesinghe
Daily News - Sri Lanka
2007-06-11 17:58:00

COLOMBO: The object which spewed a blinding light that lit the night skies in several areas of the North Western Province on Sunday is suspected to be meteor.

The light was accompanied by huge booming sounds.

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Giant ice cube smashes roof

Liz Fowler
The Courier
2007-06-11 13:56:00

An Angus couple are recovering from shock after a giant ice cube plummeted from the sky at hundreds of miles an hour and smashed into their roof.

James and Flora Fleming were relaxing in the lounge of their home, The Gables at Barnhead, on the outskirts of Montrose yesterday when the ice meteor hit.

They dashed outside to find five slates broken on the roof and the ice block lying shattered on their lawn.

"It was around 1.30pm and we were sitting watching TV when there was a terrific bang like goodness knows what," Mrs Fleming said.

"At first I thought it might have been a crow hitting the window, but it was far too loud for that.

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Hunt continues to look for Linkou's mysterious beast

The China Post
2007-06-11 13:45:00

Taipei County officials, police, and veterinarians are continuing their search for a mystery animal that killed ten goats in a farm in Linkou, Taipei County.

The owner of the farm, surnamed Hung, had reported to police on Friday that ten of his goats were killed on his farm by an unknown animal. An Indonesian laborer working for Hung who witnessed the attacks said that a tiger was the culprit.

However, veterinarians from the Taipei Zoo said that bite marks left on the goats and the animal's footprints near the scene indicate that it is not a tiger. The veterinarians said that the footprints left by the mystery animal is eight-centimeters long while a Tiger's footprint is usually between 10 to 11 centimeters long. They added that felines usually do not extend their claws when they walk, and thus will not leave claw marks on the ground.

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Mysterious 'explosion' creates a tense situation in Sri Lanka

2007-06-11 10:32:00

A tense situation was created in some areas in the Gampaha and Kurunegala districts last night following a mysterious noise similar to an explosion.

However later it was revealed that the noise and the light could be from a falling meteorite of some magnitude. The Arthur C. Clerk Center also claimed that the sound may have been caused by a meteorite explosion.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Italian senator calls ambulance to beat traffic

KN Staff Reporter
2007-06-11 14:06:00


ROME - An Italian senator's boast on television that he cheated traffic jams in Rome during a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush by calling an ambulance may cost him a court appearance, officials said on Sunday.

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Police nab robber who stole lettuce

Associated Press
2007-06-09 13:10:00

One robber's list of things to steal included whiskey, a thermometer and lettuce.

Police were called to a grocery store late Thursday after witnesses said a 46-year-old man from Brown Deer threatened employees. The workers said the man gestured as though he had a concealed gun and told them he would shoot.

The man left with 12 bottles of whiskey, two heads of lettuce and a digital thermometer, police said.

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Scientists calculate how much money it costs to buy happiness

This is London
2007-06-11 12:44:00

It is one of the most pondered questions of all time - can money buy happiness?

The answer, according to a study, is yes - but so can friendships and successful relationships.

Researchers have been trying to calculate what effect our finances and lifestyle have on our emotions.

Their main source was a survey of 10,000 Britons, who were asked to rate their level of happiness and answer questions on their wealth, health and social relations.

The team, from the University of London, then placed all these people on a "life satisfaction scale" of one (utterly miserable) to seven (euphoric).

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Randy sniffer dogs have been fired for sexually harassing female passengers

2007-06-11 12:39:00

Two Thai street mutts who became ace sniffer dogs at an airport near the notorious "Golden Triangle" opium-producing region have been fired for urinating on luggage and sexually harassing female passengers.

The pair, Mok and Lai, had been plucked from obscurity under a program initiated by King Bhumibol Adulyadej to turn strays into police dogs, the Bangkok Post said on Sunday.

Although they won plaudits from police for their work in sniffing out drugs at northern Thailand's Chiang Rai airport, near the border with Laos and Myanmar, so many passengers complained about their behavior they had to be fired.

"He liked to pee on luggage while searching for drugs inside," Mok's former handler, Police Lieutenant Colonel Jakapop Kamhon, said. "He also liked to hold on to women's legs."

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Roller Coaster Riders Left Hanging upside down!

2007-06-11 05:18:00

A dozen riders on an Arkansas roller coaster spent half an hour hanging upside down - 150 feet above the ground - after a power outage shut down the attraction.

It took about 30 minutes for the city Fire Department to rescue the riders using a ladder truck Saturday evening, said Aundrea Crary, spokeswoman for the Springs & Crystal Falls amusement park.

An amusement park visitor took this picture of the X-Coaster at Magic Springs when the ride froze, leaving 12 riders hanging upside down.

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Congo rangers treat rare gorilla orphaned in shooting

2007-06-11 03:00:00

KINSHASA - National park rangers in the
Democratic Republic of Congo are battling to save a 2-month-old gorilla found clinging to its dead mother, who was shot dead through the back of the head, conservationists said on Sunday.

File photo shows a mountain Gorilla named Baby Ndeze resting on her mother's lap in Mikeno sector, north of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, February 17, 2007.

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