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

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Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust

Richard Falk
The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
2007-06-29 14:16:00

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
-William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

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Keith Olbermann Calls on Bush and Cheney to Resign

Keith Olbermann
2007-07-04 17:29:00

In his latest commentary Keith Olbermann expresses his disgust in Bush's history, right up to his most recent decision (as The Decider) to completely ignore law and the entire judicial process by issuing a pardon to Scooter Libby. Olbermann - in vain no doubt - calls on both Bush and Cheney to resign. Watch the entire commentary yourselves in the video below:

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U.S. News
The Libby Cover-up Completed

Robert Parry
2007-07-03 16:21:00

President George W. Bush's decision to spare former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from jail marks the final act of a crime and cover-up that began four years ago when Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials launched a campaign to discredit a critic of the Iraq War.

That campaign started with the leaking of sensitive classified information, the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, destroying her career and jeopardizing the lives of her agents in other countries. That was followed by White House lies being told to both investigators and the public in order to shield the President from dangerous political fallout.

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Massachusetts: Man accused of biting, maiming toddler

The Boston Globe
2007-07-05 15:40:00

New Bedford police yesterday arrested a man accused of inflicting horrific bite wounds on the face of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter. Investigators say the child suffered human bites to the face and lost part of her lip. Her ear was also mutilated. New Bedford police said they were first notified of the alleged abuse in May and determined that the parents had been hiding it from the Department of Social Services and other healthcare workers. Bryan James, 34, struggled briefly after police stopped his vehicle to arrest him and the child's mother, Jessica Silveira, 26.

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Connecticut: Driver, 2 children die as van rolls into pond at park

Caitlin Costello
The Boston Globe
2007-07-05 15:35:00

Three people, including two children, died yesterday after their van rolled into a pond in Bridgeport, Conn., as horrified on lookers rushed to help, authorities said.

The driver reportedly had pulled over at a concession stand near Beardsley Zoo to ask for directions to a barbecue, according to Fire Battalion Chief Ismael Pomales. The driver had gotten out of the van, then noticed it was rolling away and jumped back in before it went into the water, Police Chief Bryan Norwood said.

Bystanders attempted to rescue the victims, but could not. The Bridgeport Police Scuba team pulled the three children, all under 7, and the driver from the water after they had been under for 20 to 25 minutes.

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Patriotic Insanity: Americans fly the flag for July 4, as long as it's not made in China

Tom Baldwin
The Times
2007-07-05 14:37:00

As if raising and waving millions of Stars and Stripes was not patriotic enough at Independence Day celebrations yesterday, the flags now have to be made in the US.

The state of Minnesota has taken the most draconian action, requiring all US flags sold in the state to be of American manufacture. Violations of the law, which comes into force at the end of the year, will be punished by a $1,000 (£495) fine or 90 days in jail.

From this month, schools and colleges in Arizona are being forced to equip every classroom with a US-made Stars and Stripes - sometimes known as "Old Glory".

Tennessee state law already stipulates that any US flag bought with public money cannot be imported from another country, while similar Bills are being considered by legislators in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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The Militarization of American Youth

Bryn Lloyd-Bollard
Thomas Paine's Corner
2007-07-03 21:18:00


Across the country, the U.S. military is failing to meet its recruitment goals. To address this problem, the Pentagon has been rapidly expanding its programs designed to entice young people to enlist. It is now spending $3.4 billion dollars annually, an average of $14,000 per new recruit. Using flashy marketing campaigns, television spots, and even developing its own videogames, the Army is bombarding young people with images that glorify guns and violence. Recruiters use elaborate PR strategies: they set up shop at malls, movie theaters, sporting events, and concerts, and they cruise around town in decked-out Humvees that blast music popular among teenagers.

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Ron Paul: Recapturing the Spirit of Independence

Rep. Ron Paul
2007-07-04 18:30:00

On the anniversary of our declaring our own independence from the British, it is certainly appropriate that we reflect on the nature and spirit of independent nationhood. While our founding fathers were individual men in a historically unique situation, they posited that the principles upon which they rested our national independence were timeless.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Holy Smoke! Vicar lights up in police station to protest erosion of civil liberties!!! Everybody oughta do it!

BBC News
2007-07-04 16:13:00

A vicar who lit his pipe in a Kent police station as a protest against the smoking ban has failed in his attempt to get himself arrested.

The Reverend Anthony Carr, of East Peckham, walked into the station in Tonbridge, asked to report a crime and then started smoking.

©BBC News
When Mr Carr was told he would not be arrested he replied "what a pity"

He said he flouted the ban to protest against the erosion of civil liberties.

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Shocking! Father 'forgot' young sons as he fled fire

2007-07-05 15:11:00

A father, who had been drinking, ran to safety from his blazing home leaving his two young sons inside to die, an inquest heard yesterday.

Michael Thomas had "completely forgotten" that the children were in his flat, said the coroner. By the time he remembered and went back for them, they were already dead.

Kyal Owen, four, and Konnor Owen, three, died of smoke inhalation in the fire caused by their father's discarded cigarette.

They were spending the night with their father at his flat in Llanfaethlu, Anglesey, last September. He had drunk several cans of beer as he watched a video with friends.

Later he fell asleep on the sofa and the cigarette smouldered in the fabric for more than an hour before bursting into flames.

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London subway derails, injuring 37

Lindsay Toler
Associated Press
2007-07-05 14:35:00

A subway train derailed in east London during rush hour Thursday. Thirty-seven people suffered minor injuries in the accident, which police said was not terror-related.

About 700 passengers - many of them covered in dust - were evacuated after the Central Line train derailed at 9:04 a.m. between the Bethnal Green and Mile End stations, British Transport Police said.

Paramedics treated 37 patients for minor injuries and 11 were taken to the hospital, the London Ambulance Service said in a statement.

Passenger Jacqui McElroy, 34, said the train seemed to lift up as it rounded a corner at Bethnal Green.

"Obviously the first thing that goes through your mind is "Is it terrorists?'" she said.

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Sarkozy is sending a message: Villepin's Paris House Searched In Smear Probe

2007-07-05 14:32:00

French judges searched the house of former prime minister Dominique de Villepin on Thursday as part of an investigation into allegations of a smear campaign against President Nicolas Sarkozy, a judicial source said.

The so-called Clearstream scandal nearly tore apart Villepin's government last year following accusations that he had used the intelligence services to try to undermine Sarkozy, who was then interior minister and a fierce political rival.

Villepin has denied any wrongdoing.

Judicial sources said investigators had managed to retrieve documents deleted from the computer of an intelligence officer that quoted key suspects in the case as saying Villepin had told them to go after Sarkozy.

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No surprise! CPS advises police no prosecution of Boris Berezovsky over press report

CPS Press Release
2007-07-05 14:08:00

The Crown Prosecution Service has advised the Metropolitan Police Service that Boris Berezovsky should not be charged with any criminal offences following a recent press article which claimed he was plotting 'a new Russian revolution'.

Susan Hemming, head of the CPS Counter Terrorism Division said: "We looked at all the evidence we received from the police. This included the full transcript of an internet broadcast of an interview with Mr Berezovsky, from which press reports were taken. We did not find sufficient evidence in that full interview to justify a charge of inciting the use or threat of serious violence, as defined under terrorism law.

"Obviously we had to consider the content of the interview in its entirety, to see if any offences had been committed. In addition, we had to consider any likely defences to any charges. In the case of Mr Berezovsky, we decided it would not be possible for us to disprove a likely defence that he qualified his remarks during the interview to show that he was expressing support for non-violent action.

Comment: So non-violent/"by way of deception"/Zionists' supported so called revolution is accepted and supported by UK government?

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Spain intercepts arms shipment from Israel to Nicaragua

2007-07-04 14:08:00

The Spanish customs service found 1,085 guns and pistols on a ship making its way from Israel to Nicaragua during a routine inspection of the ship while it was docking in Algeciras in southern Spain.

The container was confiscated by the Spanish authorities, and the ship was later permitted to set sail.

The ship's bill of customs noted that the ship was carrying air rifles.

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Around the World
Japan, U.S. to hold first joint missile defense drill in 2008

RIA Novosti
2007-07-05 15:23:00

Japan and the United States are planning to conduct in January 2008 their first joint exercises on countering a potential missile attack, a Japanese newspaper said Thursday.

An expert committee under the Japanese government concluded last week that the country must be able to use its missile interceptors to shoot down ballistic missiles aimed at the United States.

The Yomiuri daily cited government sources as saying that the joint exercise "aims to improve cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces, which is essential for missile defense."

The site of the exercise may be the Sea of Japan using the scenario of a missile attack by North Korea, the paper said.

North Korea became one of Tokyo's biggest security worries after it test-fired a long-range ballistic missile over Japan in 1998, prompting Tokyo to begin researching missile defense.

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Britain demands safe release of 3-year-old girl abducted in Nigeria

Associated Press
2007-07-05 15:21:00

Britain's Foreign Office called Thursday for the "immediate safe release" of a 3-year-old British girl abducted in Nigeria.

The Foreign Office confirmed that Margaret Hill was abducted Thursday morning in Port Harcourt, a city in the oil-rich south of the country.

"We do not know who took her. We are in contact with her parents and are providing assistance. High Commission officials are in contact with the Nigerian authorities. We call for her immediate safe release," a spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

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Young psychopath or coerced by psychopath? 'I was like a zombie - I could barely function,' Canadian girl tells court

Globe And Mail
2007-07-05 15:17:00

A girl accused of killing her parents and younger brother says she was still traumatized by their vicious deaths when she accepted a jailhouse marriage proposal from the much-older man she blames for the murders.

The 13-year-old, on the witness stand at her trial Wednesday for the second straight day, was grilled repeatedly about her actions in the hours and days after her family members were slaughtered in their Medicine Hat home.

Crown prosecutor Stephanie Cleary asked during her cross-examination why the girl would agree to marry her boyfriend Jeremy Steinke, 23 at the time, if she was as horrified by her family's deaths as she testified she was.

"My psychologist says it's post-traumatic stress disorder," the girl practically whispered to the court.

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Shops emptied as panic grips Zimbabwe

Andrew Meldrum
The Guardian
2007-07-05 14:15:00

Panic buying swept through the streets of Zimbabwe yesterday, as stores ran out of basic goods and shopkeepers complained that they were selling goods at a loss after the government ordered prices to be halved in a last-ditch effort to tackle hyper-inflation.

Shoppers desperate to restock in a country ravaged by shortages cleared out supermarkets in the capital, Harare, and Bulawayo, where shelves were bare of essential items such as maize meal, cooking oil, sugar, milk, soap, bread, chicken, beef and other items.

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Gov't settles with CIA brainwashing survivor

Canadian Press
2007-07-05 08:33:00

A Montreal senior who survived Cold War-era brainwashing experiments picked up a cheque for compensation from the federal government on Tuesday.

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Big Brother
'Super' Zoom Surveillance Cams Used At Orlando Fireworks Show For First Time

2007-07-05 12:10:00

For the first time, Orlando police used high-tech surveillance cameras with the ability to zoom in on individual faces from great distances to monitor this year's Fourth of July festivities, Local 6 News has learned.


Seven cameras were strategically set up around Lake Eola to continually monitor every angle of the event.

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Axis of Evil
Genocide continues! Israel kills seven in Gaza raid

2007-07-05 11:14:00

Israeli troops killed seven Palestinians as fierce fighting erupted on Thursday after ground troops backed by air power pushed into the Gaza Strip, stepping up pressure on the Hamas-run enclave.

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Britain fights to save anti-terrorism powers

Michael Holden
2007-07-05 11:02:00

The British government launched a legal bid on Thursday to protect the use of anti-terrorism powers which ministers admit are flawed but argue are still vital for the nation's security.

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Middle East Madness
At least three Palestinians killed in clashes with Israel army

RIA Novosti
2007-07-05 15:32:00

At least three Palestinians were killed in central Gaza early Thursday during clashes with Israeli troops, a local radio station reported.

The Islamist group Hamas said those killed were members of its militant wing. The Israeli army confirmed it had conducted an operation inside the Gaza Strip involving aircraft and armored vehicles, and reported sporadic clashes with militants.

Earlier in June, Hamas seized control of Gaza, ousting President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement following bloody fighting which left dozens dead.

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Sunni legislators won't support U.S.-backed oil laws in Iraq

McClatchy Newspapers
2007-07-05 08:38:00

Leading Sunnis in Iraq's Parliament continued Wednesday to snub a set of U.S.-supported oil laws that many see as key to ending sectarian killing.

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Oil a factor in Australian role in Iraq, minister lets slip

2007-07-05 08:35:00

Oil is a key factor keeping Australian troops in the US-led war in Iraq, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said Thursday, before his boss Prime Minister John Howard sharply contradicted him.

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Mercenaries now outnumber U.S. troops in Iraq

Christian Miller
LA Times
2007-07-05 08:19:00

The number of U.S.-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, newly released figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatization of the war effort and the government's capacity to carry out military and rebuilding campaigns.

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Israel to construct Wall section that will anex and destroy Palestinian orchards

Najeeb Farraj
2007-07-04 23:48:00

The Israeli Authorities started the construction of a new section of the Annexation Wall on the lands of Beit Jala Palestinian town, near Bethlehem, which will lead to further annexation and destruction of Palestinian orchards.

Orchards of Beit Jala

The Wall sector is located near the "Tunnel Road" which links between Jerusalem and the Israeli settlements in the southern part of the West Bank.

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The Loan Gunmen
China's Stocks Slide Most in a Month: World's Biggest Mover

Zhang Shidong and Shiyin Chen
2007-07-05 15:41:00

China's stocks fell the most in a month on concern $20 billion of planned share sales will overwhelm demand for equities as regulators seek to damp speculation in Asia's best-performing stock market.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. were among the biggest contributors to today's decline.

The CSI 300 Index slumped 206.15, or 5.5 percent, to close at 3537.44, the biggest percentage move among markets included in global benchmarks. It's still up 73 percent this year, after more than doubling in 2006.

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Biofuel demand to push up food prices

John Vidal
The Guardian
2007-07-05 15:07:00

Food prices will rise in the next 10 years as nearly twice as much sugar cane, maize and oilseed rape is grown to fuel cars, and people in rapidly developing countries adopt meat-based diets, says the UN in its annual assessment of farming trends.

The move to "agrofuels", which are expected to marginally lower climate change emissions and reduce US and European oil dependency, is being led by the US, Brazil, Europe and China. Last year more than a third of the total US maize crop went to ethanol for fuel, a 48% increase on 2005. Brazil and China grew the crops on nearly 20m hectares (50m acres) of land. This area could double in 10 years, says the UN report on trends up to 2016.

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Blow-up costs Milan bank €610m

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
2007-07-04 22:14:00

A derivative blow-up at the Italian bank Italease has sent tremors through Milan's banking fraternity and exposed the hidden dangers of exotic credit instruments.

The bank has paid off €610m (£419m) in recent days to counter-parties in what amounts to a massive margin call after interest rate rises in Europe caused hedging and derivative losses by clients to mushroom out of control. The share price has tumbled 9pc so far this week, and is down 64pc since the troubles first began to emerge in April.

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Oil Trades Near 10-Month High After Shell's Nigeria Rig Attack

Eduard Gismatullin
2007-07-04 21:39:00

July 4 -- Crude oil traded near a 10-month high in New York after Royal Dutch Shell Plc said militants attacked its rig in Nigeria, raising concern about further oil-supply disruptions from Africa's largest producer.

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The Living Planet
Research ends debate over benefits of butterfly defenses

EurekAlert / University of Liverpool
2007-07-05 15:46:00

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have furthered understanding of the relationship between predator and prey in an experiment designed to understand butterfly defence mechanisms

Researchers observed the behaviour of Great-tits foraging for artificial prey to understand more clearly how a species evolves to protect themselves from predators.

Insects, such as butterflies, have bright contrasting colour patterns that indicate to predators that they are not likely to be palatable. In order to gain greater protection from predators, however, some butterflies evolve to imitate the warning signals of a more highly defended species - a phenomenon known as mimicry. Scientists at Liverpool, in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, tested which species of butterfly benefits the most from this technique.

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Chickens also orientate themselves by the Earth's magnetic field

EurekAlert / Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
2007-07-05 15:41:00

40 years ago, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wiltschko was the first to prove that migrating robins use the Earth's magnetic field to direct themselves during migration. Their magnetic sensor showed them the course of the field lines of the Earth's magnetic field. This produces an inclination compass that reacts to the inclination of the Earth's magnetic field to the surface of the Earth, thus distinguishing between "pole-wards" (the side on which the field lines incline downwards) and "equator-wards" (the side on which they incline upwards). The inbuilt compass is additionally finely tuned to the field strength of the Earth's local magnetic field, but can also be flexibly adapted to other field strengths that the birds encounter in the course of migration. Since that time a compass of this kind has been found in more than 20 species of birds, the majority of them being those songbirds that undertake annual migration. An international working group under the direction of Wolfgang und Roswitha Wiltschko of Frankfurt University has now succeeded in demonstrating the presence of a magnetic sense of direction in domestic chickens as well.

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Typhoon threatens Vietnamese coast - weather agency

RIA Novosti
2007-07-05 15:34:00

A tropical storm in the South Pacific, the first of the year, is closing in on the northern coast of Vietnam, the country's national weather agency said Thursday.

According to Vietnam's Central Meteorological Service, the center of Tropical Storm Toraji at 7 a.m. local time (midnight GMT) was in the northern part of the Gulf of Tonkin, about 125 miles off the Vietnamese coast.

The storm is heading toward the coast at about 10mph, with sustained winds of up to 45mph, and is expected to hit Vietnam Friday if it remains on its current path.

Meteorologists issued a warning of potentially devastating heavy rains, flooding, tornadoes and mudslides.

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Mass sea rescue after squall hits junior regatta off Ireland coast

Guardian Unlimited
2007-07-05 14:44:00

Coastguards today rescued 110 children who were swept out to sea off the east coast of Ireland during a junior regatta.

A major rescue operation began after a sudden squall capsized 91 boats taking part in the event, off the seaside town of Dun Laoghaire in County Dublin.

Around 20 children were initially feared missing, but the coastguard said all had been plucked from the water less than a mile from shore.

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Huge Wave Hits Daytona Beach Fireworks Barge, Cancels Show

2007-07-05 12:19:00

A huge wave in Daytona Beach, Fla., crashed over a fireworks barge Wednesday night, forcing officials to cancel the city's annual Fourth of July show.

Officials said the wave hit the barge before 9 p.m. and washed more than half of the pyrotechnics off the vessel and into the water.

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60 feared killed as landslide engulfs bus in Mexico

2007-07-05 11:02:00

Rescuers pulled more bodies, including children, on Thursday from the wreckage of a bus swallowed by a landslide in Mexico which may have killed up to 60 people, local authorities said.

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Health & Wellness
Do women really talk more than men? Research refutes popular belief

EurekAlert / University of Texas at Austin
2007-07-05 15:49:00

Refuting the popular stereotype that females talk more than men, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found women and men both use an average of 16,000 words each day.

The psychology researchers have published their findings in "Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men"" in the July issue of Science.

For more than a decade, researchers have claimed that women use far more words each day than men. One set of numbers that is commonly tossed around is that women use 20,000 words per day compared to only 7,000 for men.

"These findings have been reported widely by national media and have entered the cultural mainstream," James W. Pennebaker, chair of the Psychology Department and co-author of the study, said. "Although many people believe the stereotypes of females as talkative and males as reticent, there is no large-scale study that systematically has recorded the natural conversations of large groups of people for extended period of time."

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How pain distracts the brain

EurekAlert / Cell Press
2007-07-05 15:47:00

Anybody who's tried to concentrate on work while suffering a headache knows that pain compellingly commands attention - which is how evolution helped ensure survival in a painful world. Now, researchers have pinpointed the brain region responsible for pain's ability to affect cognitive processing. They have found that this pain-related brain region is distinct from the one involved in cognitive processing interference due to a distracting memory task.

Ulrike Bingel and colleagues at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf published their discovery in the July 5, 2007 issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

To search for the region responsible for pain's ability to usurp attention, the researchers asked volunteers to perform a cognitive task involving distinguishing images, as well as a working memory task involving remembering images. The researchers asked the volunteers to perform the tasks as they experienced different levels of pain caused by the zapping of their hands by a harmless laser beam.

During these tests, the volunteers' brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this widely used analytical technique, harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to scan the brain to determine blood flow across regions, which reflects brain activity.

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Flashback: Apple consumption during pregnancy reduces risk for childhood wheezing and asthma

2007-04-08 09:40:00

Eating apples while pregnant may give new meaning to an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Compelling new research has concluded that mothers who eat apples during pregnancy may protect their children from developing asthma later in life. The study was published in Thorax online.

This unique longitudinal study tracked dietary intake by nearly 2000 pregnant women, then examined the effects of the maternal diet on airway development in more than 1200 of their children five years later. Among a wide variety of foods consumed and recorded by the pregnant women, the researchers concluded that the children of mothers who ate apples had a significantly reduced risk for the development of asthma and childhood wheezing.

This study focuses on medical evaluations for asthma and related symptoms (i.e., wheezing) when the children were five years old. As a result of the evaluations cited in this research, other than apples, there were no consistent associations found between prenatal consumption of a range of healthful foods and asthma in the 1253 children who were evaluated.

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New 'asthma gene' could lead to new therapies

University of Michigan / EurekAlert
2007-07-05 15:04:00

A gene that is strongly associated with a risk of developing childhood onset asthma was identified by an international team of scientists, whose findings are published today in the journal Nature.

In a genetic study of more than 2,000 children, scientists from the University of Michigan and colleagues from London, France and Germany found genetic markers that dramatically increase a child's risk for asthma. These markers are located on chromosome 17, and children with this marker had higher levels of a new gene called ORMDL3 in their blood, which occurs in higher amounts in children with asthma. The presence of the disease-associated version of ORMDL3 increases the risk of asthma by 60-70 percent, the study suggests.

"In terms of an asthma gene, there have been quite a few reports but not one that can be clearly reproduced in samples," said Goncalo Abecasis, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health. "I think eventually it will lead to new therapies because it points to a specific biological molecular pathway. Once we understand the biology and we know the players, it's possible to target with specific drugs."

Childhood asthma treatments are heavily focused on allergic responses, since most children with asthma also have many allergies. The discovery of a so-called 'asthma gene' would provide a new set of mechanisms to try and modify and manage childhood asthma, Abecasis said.

"Before we finished the paper, we would have guessed (ORMDL3) would be a gene with a well-understood role in allergic responses, but that is not what we found," said Abecasis, noting that the gene has no known relation to allergic responses.

Asthma, a complex disease caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Asthma occurs in 7-10 percent of children in the United States and one child in seven in the United Kingdom. Its prevalence differs widely among different geographic areas.

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Scotland: Doctor 'hastened babies' deaths'

2007-07-05 14:56:00

A doctor's administration of drugs hastened the deaths of two terminally ill babies and was "tantamount to euthanasia", an inquiry has heard.

Consultant neonatologist Michael Munro, 41, gave 23 times the normal dose of a muscle relaxant at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, medical watchdogs were told.

The General Medical Council (GMC) fitness to practise panel heard the doctor failed to record his actions.

Dr Munro denies his conduct was below standard, dishonest or inappropriate.

Dr Munro was working in the neonatal unit of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital on 5 December, 2005, when a child - known only as Baby X - was born more than three months premature.

The panel heard that the child suffered a brain haemorrhage and the decision was taken to withdraw treatment after its condition worsened.

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Weekend lie-in fails to make up for long hours in the week

Roger Highfield
2007-07-05 14:53:00

Workaholics are fooling themselves if they think a weekend lie-in can make up for lost sleep.

The first hard evidence has emerged that we are unable to catch up on lost sleep if it happens night after night - increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and depression, while cutting mental dexterity.

While our bodies try to catch up on occasional loss by making us sleep more and/or more deeply the following night, this mechanism breaks down when there is chronic deprivation, say researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois.

They report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that when rats are partially sleep deprived over consecutive days they no longer attempt to catch up, despite an accumulating sleep deficit. "The ability to compensate for lost sleep is itself lost, which is damaging both physically and mentally," said Prof Fred Turek.

Scientists estimate that in the 1960s people slept for more than eight hours. Now we are sleeping for about six. Symptoms of deprivation include weight gain, irritability, hallucinations and depression, said Prof Russell Foster, of Oxford University. It also impairs the ability of the brain to innovate.

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Science & Technology
Workers discover ancient 'ribbon' of stones in UK

BBC News
2007-07-04 17:40:00

Diggers constructing a new access road have uncovered a mysterious serpent-shaped feature, dating from the early bronze age.

©BBC news
An aerial view of the 'Rotherwas Ribbon' - thought to be 4000 years old.

The 197ft (60m) long ribbon of stones, found in Rotherwas, near Hereford, is thought to date from the same period as Stonehenge, roughly 2000 BC.

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Archaeologists rise to solstice circle discovery on Scottish island

Jamie Beatson
The Scotsman
2007-07-04 17:37:00

Archaeologists working on a remote Scottish island have discovered an ancient stone ceremonial enclosure that is perfectly aligned to the winter and summer solstices.

The find was made by members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (Bacas) working on the island of Foula.

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The Earth is smaller than assumed

University of Bonn / EurekAlert
2007-07-05 15:58:00

Although the discrepancy is not large, it is significant: Geodesists from the University of Bonn have remeasured the size of the Earth in a long lasting international cooperation project. The blue planet is accordingly some millimeters smaller than up to now assumed. The results are important, for example, to be able to demonstrate a climate contingent rise in sea level. The results have now appeared in the renowned Journal of Geodesy.

The system of measurement used by the Bonn Geodesists is invisible. It consists of radiowaves that are transmitted into space from punctiform sources, the so-called Quasars. A network of more than 70 radio telescopes worldwide receives these waves. Because the gaging stations are so far apart from each other, the radio signals are received with a slight time-lag. ,From this difference we can measure the distance betwen the radio telescopes - and to the preciseness of two millimeters per 1,000 kilometers," explained Dr. Axel Nothnagel, reasearch group leader for the Geodesy Institute of the University of Bonn.

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Greenland's ancient forests shed light on stability of ice sheet

EurekAlert / Wellcome Trust
2007-07-05 15:52:00

Ice cores drilled from southern Greenland have revealed the first evidence of a surprisingly lush forest that existed in the region within the past million years. The findings from an international study published today in the journal Science suggest that the southern Greenland ice sheet may be much more stable against rising temperatures than previously thought.

Researchers analysed ice cores from a number of locations in Greenland, including Dye 3 in the south of the country. From the base of the 2km deep Dye 3 core, they were able to extract what they believe is likely to be the oldest authenticated DNA obtained to date.

By analysing these DNA samples, the researchers identified a surprising variety of plant and insect life, including species of trees such as alder, spruce, pine and members of the yew family, as well as invertebrates related to beetles, flies, spiders, butterflies and moths. The researchers believe that the samples date back to between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago.

"We have shown for the first time that southern Greenland, which is currently hidden under more than 2km of ice, was once very different to the Greenland we see today," explains Professor Eske Willerslev, a Wellcome Trust Bioarchaeology Fellow from the University of Copenhagen, who led the study."Back then, it was inhabited by a diverse array of conifer trees and insects."

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For at least two decades chinese villagers ate and used dinosaur fossils

The Washington Times / AP
2007-07-05 15:00:00

Villagers in central China dug up a ton of dinosaur bones and boiled them in soup or ground them into powder for traditional medicine, believing they were from flying dragons and had healing powers.

Until last year, the fossils were being sold in Henan province as "dragon bones" at about 2 yuan, or about 25 cents, per pound, scientist Dong Zhiming told the Associated Press yesterday.

Mr. Dong, a professor with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said when the villagers found out the bones were from dinosaurs they donated 440 pounds to him and his colleagues for research.

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