- Signs of the Times Archive for Mon, 18 Jun 2007 -

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SOTT Focus
Signs Economic Commentary for 18 June 2007

Donald Hunt
Signs of the Times
2007-06-18 07:08:00

U.S. interest rates continued to climb and the price of oil jumped 5% last week. U.S. stocks rallied in the second half of the week, with the Dow ending up 1.6% on better than expected inflation news. The so-called "core" inflation rate (which doesn't include energy prices) only rose 0.1% rather than the expected 0.2%. But overall prices rose faster than they have in 20 months in May. The hope of investors is that the wave of low-cost labor will offset higher energy prices.

How nice for all those investors, those who own. For those of us who work, the "hundreds of millions of lower cost workers" mean that our incomes will continue to drop. More and more of our energy will be sucked into the system. What will be left? I came across a couple of random passages last week that highlight the issue.

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Best of the Web
Galloway on the Lie Ahmadinejad Called for Israel to be "Wiped Off the Map"

Talk Sport Via YouTube
2007-06-18 16:43:00

British MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and thorn in the side of the pathocrats, George Galloway, has once again attempted to dispel the pernicious rumour that last year the Iranian PM called for Israel to be "wiped from the map", a rumour that, unsurprisingly has been repeated ad nauseum by the mainstream media and warmongering politicians the world over.

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U.S. News
Shock!: Bush aides may have illegally 'lost' e-mails, Dems say

Andy Sullivan
2007-06-18 17:03:00

Karl Rove and dozens of other White House staffers appear to have illegally routed official e-mails through a Republican group that subsequently deleted them, a congressional report said on Monday.

By using Republican National Committee e-mail accounts for official business, senior White House aides may have broken a law requiring them to preserve presidential records, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in an interim report.

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No Touching! Va. School's No-Contact Rule Is a Touchy Subject

Maria Glod
Washington Post
2007-06-18 13:36:00

Fairfax County middle school student Hal Beaulieu hopped up from his lunch table one day a few months ago, sat next to his girlfriend and slipped his arm around her shoulder. That landed him a trip to the school office.

Among his crimes: hugging.

All touching -- not only fighting or inappropriate touching -- is against the rules at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna. Hand-holding, handshakes and high-fives? Banned. The rule has been conveyed to students this way: "NO PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!!!"

School officials say the rule helps keep crowded hallways and lunchrooms safe and orderly, and ensures that all students are comfortable. But Hal, 13, and his parents think the school's hands-off approach goes too far, and they are lobbying for a change.

"I think hugging is a good thing," said Hal, a seventh-grader, a few days before the end of the school year. "I put my arm around her. It was like for 15 seconds. I didn't think it would be a big deal."

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Price manipulation! Oil industry scales back refinery plans

2007-06-18 03:05:00

A push from Congress and the White House for huge increases in biofuels, such as ethanol, is prompting the oil industry to scale back its plans for refinery expansions. That could keep gasoline prices high, possibly for years to come.

Comment: Yes, we can't have too much fuel on the market, so what better way than to make sure that refining capacities stay limited.

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Mom Says Disabled Son Illegally Deported

Associated Press
2007-06-17 23:11:00

TIJUANA, Mexico - Clutching a photo of her son, Maria Carvajal walks Tijuana's sweltering streets searching for the mentally disabled man she says was deported more than a month ago despite being a U.S. citizen and then disappeared in this chaotic border city.

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FBI tries to fight zombie hordes

BBC News
2007-06-14 21:43:00

The FBI is contacting more than one million PC owners who have had their computers hijacked by cyber criminals.
The initiative is part of an ongoing project to thwart the use of hijacked home computers, or zombies, as launch platforms for hi-tech crimes.

The FBI has found networks of zombie computers being used to spread spam, steal IDs and attack websites.

The agency said the zombies or bots were "a growing threat to national security".

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Unhappy with Nancy

Robert Novak
2007-06-15 21:33:00

The powerful left wing of the House Democratic Caucus is unhappy with Speaker Nancy Pelosi for being too attentive to a handful of moderate members, especially those elected last year from normally Republican districts.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Eleven dead in German bus crash

2007-06-18 14:09:00

At least 11 people have been killed and 31 injured in a bus crash in eastern Germany, police say.

The bus is said to have veered off a motorway and fallen into a roadside ditch near the city of Halle, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The bus was carrying a group of 48 elderly people.

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Italian Judge Suspends CIA Trial

2007-06-18 07:56:00

An Italian judge on Monday suspended the first trial involving the CIA's extraordinary rendition program until the country's highest court can rule on the case.

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Brown to allow UK to have a referendum on Europe

2007-06-18 06:13:00

Gordon Brown dramatically raised the stakes on Europe last night by threatening to let the British people have a referendum on the results of this week's critical summit.

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Sarkozy gets reduced majority for reform campaign

2007-06-18 03:05:00

President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing party won a solid majority to launch his programme of reforms in France's legislative election Sunday, but failed to secure a widely predicted landslide.

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French wine militants threaten action

Jason Burke
The Observer
2007-06-17 22:36:00

The threats of violence, the mise-en-scène, the balaclavas were all horribly familiar. So was the deadline that expired at midnight yesterday.

Except this was not an ultimatum from al-Qaeda but from a group of radical wine growers in the south of France. In a tape sent anonymously to French TV a month ago, the shadowy militant organisation known as CRAV (Comité Régional d'Action Viticole or regional winegrowers' action committee) threatened violent action if new President Nicolas Sarkozy did not take measures to help economically desperate wine growers in the France's vast Languedoc-Roussillon area.

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Murdered Mafia boss was a philosophy student

Peter Popham
The Independent
2007-06-16 18:10:00

When the man on the motorcycle pulled alongside the convicted gangster Niccolo Ingarao on a Palermo street and shot him four times in the chest and once in the head, he murdered the most studious Mafia boss of modern times.

It emerged yesterday that when Mr Ingarao, 46, was not barking orders at underlings, extorting protection money or counting the takings as the gang boss of the Porta Nuova neighbourhood, he was an avid student of philosophy.

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Around the World
Global Paedophile Ring Smashed by Police

BBC News
2007-06-18 14:22:00

Police have smashed a global child abuse network which was co-ordinated through a UK-based internet site.

Global agencies, led by UK investigators, examined more than 700 suspects, including 200 in the UK.

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Australia, US launch massive war game

2007-06-18 14:02:00

Australia and the United States launched a massive war game Monday aimed at honing their ability to act together against threats to Asia-Pacific security, commanders said.

More than 20,000 US troops and 12,000 Australians, backed by a total of 30 ships and 125 aircraft, will be involved in "Operation Talisman Sabre 2007" on the northeast coast until July 2.

Vice Admiral Doug Crowder, commander of the US Navy's 7th Fleet, said uncertainty and unpredictability remained a threat to economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Therefore it is very important that our militaries train together to carry out the types of missions our governments may call upon us to execute to ensure regional security and stability.

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Africa's forgotten Western Sahara war gets new airing

2007-06-18 06:26:00

Western Sahara has for three decades been Africa's forgotten conflict in a mainly desert corner of the continent for which no one really knows the human cost.

It is the last part of Africa not to have had its post-colonial future decided.

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Flashback: Western Sahara Between Autonomy and Intifada

Jacob Mundy
Middle East Report Online
2007-03-16 10:30:00

In late February 2007, Western Saharan nationalists celebrated the thirty-first anniversary of their government, the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic. The official ceremonies did not take place in Laayoune, the declared capital of Western Sahara, but in the small outpost of Tifariti near the Algerian border. This is because most of Western Sahara is under the administration and military occupation of Morocco, which claims the desert land as its own. The Western Saharan independence movement, led by the POLISARIO Front and the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic, exists largely in exile, as does nearly half the native population. Roughly 100,000 Sahrawis have lived in refugee camps in the southwest corner of Algeria, near Tindouf, since POLISARIO proclaimed an independent republic in 1976. A generation has come of age in the camps, knowing nothing but refugee life and cut off from contact with their homeland. The other half of the population, those Sahrawis living under Moroccan occupation, have become a minority in their own country, pushed to the margins by three decades of "Moroccanization."

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Video links paramilitary death squad leader to US backed Colombian President

2007-06-18 09:33:00

In his five years as president, Alvaro Uribe has repeatedly denied accusations that he's been cozy with Colombia's murderous right-wing militias, whose thousands of victims include suspected rebel sympathizers and union activists.

Yet newly uncovered video of his 2001 campaign shows him shaking hands with a militia leader who was arrested only weeks later on suspicion of involvement in multiple murders, and is now a fugitive with a price on his head. It's the latest headache for the law-and-order president, who has seen one ally after another jailed for allegedly colluding with the outlawed militias.

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US-led homicide bombers kill 7 afghan children, 'believedtobealqaida©'

2007-06-18 09:16:00

Seven children were killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike targeting suspected al-Qaida militants in eastern
Afghanistan, a coalition statement said Monday. The strike came hours after the deadliest insurgent attack since the Taliban fell in 2001.

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Big Brother
Credit Cards Cut Off Gas Purchases

Ieva M. Augstums
2007-06-15 13:10:00

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- So you're at the gas station filling up your vehicle, and without warning the gas pump shuts off. What? The tank isn't full, and you know your credit card isn't over its limit.

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Flashback: Analysis: U.S. intel budget may reach $60 Billion

United Press International
2007-06-11 01:01:00

WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- The secret budget for U.S. intelligence is much higher than previously thought, perhaps as much as $60 billion, according to the extrapolation of figures inadvertently left buried in a computerized government slideshow.

The presentation, made at a Defense Intelligence Agency conference in May and later posted on the agency's Web site, contained a bar chart showing the growing amount of the U.S. intelligence budget spent on contracts with the private sector since 1994. Although dollar amounts were not shown on the chart, a separate slide said that 70 percent of the budget was currently spent on contract awards.

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Axis of Evil
Nation of Mutes: America's Guilty Silence

James Brooks
2007-06-18 17:23:00

Crimes against humanity don't happen unless it is possible to commit them with impunity. Government corruption and gross imbalances of power will bring them closer to the edge of possibility. But the anticipation of impunity must be personal and social as well as legal and political. The perpetrators need to make sense of their crimes within a positive sense of themselves.

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The Reign of the Tyrants is at Hand

Paul Craig Roberts
2007-06-18 17:08:00

"It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral."

-General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Press Club, February 17, 2006.

"They will be held accountable for the decisions they make. So they should in fact not obey the illegal and immoral orders to use weapons of mass destruction."

-General Peter Pace, CNN With Wolf Blitzer, April 6, 2003

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From the Folks Who Brought You Plan Colombia: The Annexation of Mexico

John Ross
2007-06-18 14:09:00

Plan Colombia, the $5,000,000,000 drug war boondoggle cooked up in 1999 by Bill Clinton and then-Colombian president Andres Pastrana and subsequently transmographied into a War on Terror adjunct by George Bush and Alvaro Uribe brought U.S. troops, fleets of helicopter gun ships, spray planes spewing poisons, and a vast array of human rights abuses to that troubled Latin American country. It also made Colombia the third largest recipient of Washington's foreign aid and the number one repository of U.S. military aid in the western hemisphere.

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Provocation Alert!: Blair's parting shot, to honour 'Sir' Salman Rushdie

2007-06-18 15:40:00

Britain's knighthood to the author Salman Rushdie contributes to insulting Islam and may lead to terrorism, a Pakistani minister has said.

Such actions are the root cause of terrorism, Religious Affairs Minister Ejaz-ul-Haq told parliament.

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Israel's defence economy booming on exports field-tested on Palestinians

Naomi Klein
2007-06-18 14:29:00

Gaza in the hands of Hamas, with masked militants sitting in the president's chair; the West Bank on the edge; Israeli army camps hastily assembled in the Golan Heights; a spy satellite over Iran and Syria; war with Hizbullah a hair trigger away; a scandal-plagued political class facing a total loss of public faith. At a glance, things aren't going well for Israel. But here's a puzzle: why, in the midst of such chaos and carnage, is the Israeli economy booming like it's 1999, with a roaring stock market and growth rates nearing China's?

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Britain feared US would 'nuke' Afghanistan: ex-diplomat

2007-06-18 09:56:00

Britain joined the United States' invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001 because it feared America would "nuke the shit" out of Afghanistan, the former British ambassador to Washington reportedly told a television documentary to be screened Saturday.

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Middle East Madness
Another Mission Accomplished: Iraq now ranked second among world's failed states

David Morgan
2007-06-18 15:08:00

Iraq has emerged as the world's second most unstable country, behind Sudan, more than four years after
President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. invasion to topple
Saddam Hussein, according to a survey released on Monday.

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Show must go on: Previously unknown (Mossad-funded) militant Islamic group claims rocket attack on Israel

Hussein Dakroub
Associated Press
2007-06-18 13:17:00

A previously unknown militant Islamic group claimed responsibility Monday for a weekend rocket attack on northern Israel.

The self-proclaimed ''Jihadi Badr Brigades - Lebanon branch,'' vowed in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Beirut to continue attacks.

''We had promised our people jihad (holy war),'' the statement said. ''Here, we again strike the Zionists when a group from the Jihadi Badr Brigades struck the Zionists in the occupied Palestinian territory.''

At least two rockets fired from Lebanon landed Sunday in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona, causing damage but no casualties. It was the first time rockets were fired from Lebanese territory at the Jewish state since last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

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Fatah 'quislings' with CIA ties try to escape to Israel, fearing Hamas militants

Associated Press
2007-06-18 10:00:00

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: Jamal Abu Zayda entered into Israel from Gaza early Sunday morning, leaving behind him death threats and a territory ruled by Hamas militants.

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CIA-backed Abbas risks being tagged 'quisling'

Ed O'Loughlin
The Age
2007-06-18 09:58:00

BY SACKING his elected Hamas government this weekend, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas regained the blessing of Israel, the US, Europe, Egypt and Jordan, plus the promise of hundreds of millions of dollars in funds. Despite all this, he has never been weaker.

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U.S.-led air raid kills seven Afghan children

Sayed Salahuddin
2007-06-18 02:04:00

KABUL - At least seven children have been killed in a U.S.-led coalition air strike in a religious school in Afghanistan, the coalition said on Monday, amid rising anger over civilian deaths from foreign military operations.

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Gulf Arabs Won't be Base for Attack on Iran: Saudi

2007-06-17 21:37:00

Gulf Arab countries will not be used as a launch pad for any military attack on Iran, a powerful Saudi royal was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz said Iran had no interest in striking its oil-producing Arab neighbors if it comes under attack from the United States.

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The Loan Gunmen
When it comes to Wall Street it's up to the criminals to decide what is legal: Supreme Court

2007-06-18 13:31:00

The Supreme Court on Monday dealt a setback to investors suing over their losses in the crash of technology stocks seven years ago. In a 7-1 decision, the court sided with Wall Street banks that allegedly conspired to drive up prices on 900 newly issued stocks.

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A Brief History of Economic Time

Wall Street Journal
2007-06-09 10:07:00

Modern humans first emerged about 100,000 years ago. For the next 99,800 years or so, nothing happened. Well, not quite nothing. There were wars, political intrigue, the invention of agriculture -- but none of that stuff had much effect on the quality of people's lives. Almost everyone lived on the modern equivalent of $400 to $600 a year, just above the subsistence level. True, there were always tiny aristocracies who lived far better, but numerically they were quite insignificant.

Then -- just a couple of hundred years ago, maybe 10 generations -- people started getting richer. And richer and richer still. Per capita income, at least in the West, began to grow at the unprecedented rate of about three quarters of a percent per year. A couple of decades later, the same thing was happening around the world.

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The Living Planet
Update: Kilauea rumbles on, 260 quakes on Big Island

Laurie Au and Rod Thompson
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
2007-06-18 17:43:00

The event's duration has scientists unsure what will be left when the shaking stops

Geologists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are baffled by a swarm of more than 260 small earthquakes that shook the upper East Rift Zone of Kilauea over the course of several hours yesterday.

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Rare Giant Manta Born at Japan Aquarium

Mari Yamaguchi
Associated Press
2007-06-18 13:42:00

What is believed to be the first giant manta ray born in captivity has arrived at a southern Japanese aquarium, the facility said Sunday.

The baby manta, a female, was born late Saturday in a huge fish tank at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, more than a year after its parents mated, the aquarium said in a statement posted Sunday on its Web site.

In a video capturing the birth, the baby manta, rolled up like a tube, came sliding out of the mother manta, then quickly spread its fins and began swimming around.

The scene, recorded by the aquarium, was broadcast by national broadcaster NHK on Sunday.

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Torrential Rains Flood Texas Cities

Associated Press
2007-06-18 13:25:00

Torrential overnight rainfall flooded a handful of north Texas towns Monday, killing two people and stranding residents and their pets on the roofs of their homes awaiting rescue.
©Associated Press

Creeks swollen by as much as 8 inches of rain inundated parts of the towns of Gainesville and Sherman near the Oklahoma state line.

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Tiny but Hungry, Moth Threatens California Crops

The New York Times
2007-06-17 23:17:00

SAN FRANCISCO - Full grown, the light brown apple moth is roughly the size of a nickel: a little dirt-colored insect with an adult life span shorter than the average summer vacation.

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Swarm of 230 small quakes rocks Big Island

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
2007-06-17 23:00:00

About 230 small earthquakes shook the upper East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano beginning early this morning, prompting officials to close off most of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as a precaution to protect visitors.

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Giant Frogs Raid Toilets, Power Lines

Jennifer Viegas
Discovery Channel
2007-06-14 21:54:00

It sounds like the plot of a B movie.

People scream after finding huge frogs in their toilet bowls. Electrified amphibians cause multiple blackouts. Frogs hitch rides in cars, later surprising unsuspecting drivers.

It's all real, and, according to the University of Florida, the invasive Cuban tree frog is responsible for the chaos. The species has colonized over half of Florida and is now moving in on the rest of the state. The 6-inch-long frogs, which dwarf native tiny tree frogs, have also been found in Georgia, South Carolina, California, Hawaii and Canada.

©AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Josh Wickham
In this photo, Steve Johnson holds a Cuban tree frog at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Plant City. The invasive frog, which can be more than six inches long, has colonized the southern half of the state and is moving north.

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Health & Wellness
Gene Responsible For Common Hearing Loss Identified For First Time

Science Daily
2007-06-18 14:04:00

A gene responsible for the single most common cause of hearing loss among white adults, otosclerosis, has been identified for the first time, a scientist told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics in Nice, France. Ms Melissa Thys, from the Department of Medical Genetics, University of Antwerp, Belgium, said that this finding may be a step towards new treatments for otosclerosis, which affects approximately 1 in 250 people.

Otosclerosis is a multifactorial disease, caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. The outcome is a progressive hearing loss as the growing bone in the middle ear interrupts the sound waves passing to the inner ear. While the causative factors remain unknown, now one of the genetic components has been identified, Ms Thys told the conference.

"The gene in which the variant is located points to a pathway that contributes to the disease. This may be a lead for better forms of treatment in the future; currently the best option is an operation. However, there is often an additional component of hearing loss which can't be restored by surgery. As the gene involved is a growth factor, and the disease manifests itself by the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear, it may have a large potential for therapy", she said. Improved understanding may also lead to prevention strategies.

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Male twins 'can reduce fertility'

2007-06-18 13:58:00

A twin brother can reduce his female twin's chances of having children, say scientists at Sheffield University.

Women were 25% less likely to have children if their twin was male, the study, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded.

Although other factors could play a part - the women were less likely to marry - the team blamed exposure in the womb to the male hormone testosterone.

Experts have agreed testosterone might potentially damage female fertility.

They said animal work supported this.

But they said more work was needed to look at human mechanisms.

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Rate of food allergies an 'epidemic'

Carol Nader
The Age-Australia
2007-06-18 00:56:00

HOSPITAL admissions for anaphylaxis have trebled in five years at the [Melbourne] Royal Children's Hospital - and no one knows why.

Unpublished data shows that 71 children were admitted to the hospital in 2005-06 after suffering an anaphylactic reaction, mainly to food. Five years earlier there were 23 admissions.

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Flashback: The Age of Autism: Gluten clue from Case 2

2007-05-03 14:04:00

Finding a treasure trove of documents about the family of one of the earliest cases of autism has led this column to offer two observations: Mercury may be associated with the disorder from the beginning, and cutting-edge research near the nation's capital may help explain why it was first discovered at Johns Hopkins University in nearby Baltimore.

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Flashback: Imported Food (wheat gluten) Rarely Suspected

2007-04-16 08:54:00

WASHINGTON - Just 1.3 percent of imported fish, vegetables, fruit and other foods are inspected yet those government inspections regularly reveal food unfit for human consumption.

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Flashback: Food Cravings, Obesity and Gluten Consumption

by Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.
2007-03-10 14:55:00

Increased consumption of gluten, according to Dr. Michael Marsh, raises the risk of celiac disease symptoms1. Although these symptoms may not indicate celiac disease, they reflect some biological realities. Grain-based foods simply do not offer the nutrients necessary to human health and they damage the human body. USDA and Canada Food Guides notwithstanding, if people eat grain-laden diets, they may develop symptoms of celiac disease (but in most cases, without the diagnostic intestinal lesion).

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Science & Technology
Armchair archeologists can explore Qumran virtually

Tom Tugend
Jewish Journal
2007-06-15 18:10:00

After glancing at the nearby caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were stored, I walked through the entrance to the main building at Qumran, checked out the scriptorium with its ink wells and oil lamps and the pottery-making workshop, and then up to the four-story tower for spotting approaching Roman legions.
A still from the Qumran Visualization Project

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Father of modern science calculated: World to end in 2060

Ofri Ilani
2007-06-17 17:59:00

At the top of the ancient, densely written English manuscript a verse in Hebrew stands out: "Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever." Other pages contain sketches of the Temple and calculations of the end of the world, based on verses from the Book of Daniel. The author of these mysterious ruminations was not a sorcerer nor a religious fanatic but none other than Isaac Newton, the 17th-century mathematician and physicist considered the most influential scientist of all time.

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Timbuktu manuscripts: Africa's written history unveiled

Jean-Michel Djian
The Unesco Courier
2007-06-17 17:58:00

Some two hundred thousand ancient manuscripts that were disintegrating slowly but surely in libraries, cellars and attics in Timbuktu (Mali), today are systematically inventoried, preserved and digitized. These priceless treasures, the oldest dating back to the 13th century, are contributing to the rehabilitation of Africa's written history.
©UNESCO/Alida Boye
A manuscript from Timbuktu (Mali)

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Our Haunted Planet

No new articles.

Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Florida's flying fish can knock you out cold

Jacqui Goddard
2007-06-18 14:18:00

Its waters are already infested by man-eating alligators and razor-toothed sharks, but now Florida residents are being warned of another peril - flying fish.

A prehistoric fish has literally leapt its way to the top of the Sunshine State's wildlife danger list after a series of incidents that have left dozens of river users injured. Officials at Florida's Fish and Wildlife Commission (FFWC) have launched a campaign to warn people that a brush with an "armour plated" sturgeon - an endangered species that dates back 225 million years and can grow to 8ft and weigh 200lb - could send them to the surgeon.

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Mating hares block Milan airport runways

2007-06-18 03:25:00

Italy - Wild hares at Milan's Linate airport seem to have only one thing on their mind, and their excessive mating and growing numbers have blocked takeoffs, landings and radar systems.

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