There have been some hilarious goings on in the U.S. over the past few days, and by "hilarious" what I really mean is very, very disturbing. Last night, the Republicrat and Democan members of Washington's permanent big top circus aka "the Senate", staged a "sleep in" in an attempt to convince someone, anyone, that they actually give a damn about the Iraqi people or that US troops should be withdrawn by April 2008.
At a certain point the signs become impossible to ignore. The force of disinformation increases to a fever pitch and begins to present absurdities that we haven't seen since Saddam was planning to send exploding, toy airplane drones across the American landscape. Now they are coming through Mexico the same way the Black Panthers were once coming through Canada after Ross Perot
Most U.S. voters think the country is on the wrong track and remain deeply unhappy with President George W. Bush and Congress, but still feel good about their finances and optimistic about the future, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
When military lawyer Lt. Commander Charlie Swift was assigned by the Pentagon in 2003 to defend terror suspect and Guantánamo prisoner Salim Hamdan, his orders - as Swift later told me - were to represent his client by obtaining a confession from him.
Ben Neary and Mead Gruver Associated Press 2007-07-18 10:08:00
A military sharpshooter accused of killing his estranged wife as she sang at a bar died last night after being found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, police said.
Wyoming Army National Guardsman David Munis was found by a search team shortly before 8 p.m. MDT and was flown to Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, where he was pronounced dead, said Cheyenne police Lieutenant Mark Munari.
Munis, 36, apparently shot himself as searchers closed in on him, Munari said.
Authorities had been looking for Munis, 36, in a canyon area north of Laramie near where his pickup was spotted late Monday. He was found in a trailer about 15 miles north of Laramie, near where police had been searching, Munari said.
Farms can't be sued over the pollution or odors they emit as long as they have entered into an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal appeals court ruled.
The ruling, issued Tuesday, was a rebuke to environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, which sued to change an EPA policy they say allows animal feeding operations to skirt environmental laws and only pay nominal fines.
The petitioners maintained that animal feeding operations pollute the air, emit terrible odors and attract hordes of flies that leave droppings on everything from cars to furniture.
One Minister Challenges the Idea of Hell and Loses His Congregation
Virtually every religion throughout human history has some notion of a horrible life after death. And though the threat of fire and brimstone is not preached as fervently in this age of reason, one man in Tulsa, Okla., knows just how hard it is for modern believers -- and their religious institutions -- to let go of the medieval vision of hell.
"If I say everybody's going to heaven, then I can't raise money from you to get me to keep people out of hell," Carlton Pearson said with a wry smile.
He knows firsthand that when it comes to filling pews, hell sells. And when he stopped believing in it, he lost an evangelical empire built over a lifetime.
Could Harry Potter be guarding the secrets of the British government's post 9/11 response to the terrorist threat" Judith Rauhofer of the University of Central Lancashire seems to think so.
Rauhofer has made a study of JK Rowling's fictional child wizard and suggests, in a research paper published today in Inderscience's International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry, that the author draws several subtle parallels with contemporary society. She believes this is part of the adult appeal of the books.
Book five in the series was the first Harry Potter book to be written entirely after the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington on September 11, 2001. "Until then, the Harry Potter series could be seen as nothing more than a simple story of good versus evil," says Rauhofer, a Research Fellow in Law. "JK Rowling's work then evolved into something more after 9/11, a social commentary on current events, in fact."
Reports in the British media that two Russian strategic bombers violated U.K. airspace are untrue, an aide to the Russian Air Force commander said Wednesday.
British media reported earlier Wednesday that RAF fighters were scrambled to intercept Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers that had taken off from an airbase on the Kola Peninsula, in Russia's north, and were flying in the direction of the U.K.
"Reports that Russian bombers were flying towards British airspace are untrue. The long-range aircraft were on a scheduled mission over international waters," Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky quoted Col.-Gen. Alexander Zelin, Air Force commander, as saying.
Boris Berezkovsky, implicated in the Litvenenko murder by Russian authorities, has a personal grudge against Vladimir Putin. Putin wouldn't let him buy his way to the top as Yeltsin did.
In January 2006, Berezovsky stated in an interview to a Moscow based radio station that he was working on overthrowing administration of Vladimir Putin by force. Later that year, in November, Berezovsky accused Putin of ordering the poisoning of FSB defector and fellow dissident Alexander Litvinenko, who also lived in exile in the UK. The two were close associates. Berezovsky said he had no doubts that the Russian authorities were behind the poisoning.
A rich man with a grudge - especially with Israeli citizenship - is an easy tool in the hands of anyone who wishes to smear Putin for declining to join the frenzied witch hunt against Muslims, Iran in particular.
Boris Berezovsky fled Britain three weeks ago on the advice of Scotland Yard, amid reports that he was the target of an assassination attempt by a suspected Russian hitman.
The exiled tycoon and fierce critic of President Putin of Russia told The Times last night that he had been warned that it was not safe for him to remain in London, where he had been living since being granted asylum in Britain.
"I was informed by Scotland Yard that my life was in danger and they recommended that I leave the country," he said. "I left three weeks ago but have now returned."
Mr Berezovsky, a billionaire businessman who has an office in Mayfair and lives at a heavily guarded mansion in Surrey, never moves without a phalanx of bodyguards. He has been the subject of assassination attempts in Russia but this is the first time that he has been targeted in London.
BRUSSELS - Kids, job segregation and a "glass ceiling" for promotion keep women earning less than men in the European Union and there are no clear signs of improvement, the European Commission will say on Wednesday.
Emma-Kate Symons The Australian 2007-07-18 17:37:00
Abu Sayyaf guerillas killed two Philippines marines on remote Jolo island yesterday as the troubled south braced for the army's threatened "all-out war" on Islamist forces blamed for a wave of murders and beheadings.
The fighting brought to 16 the death toll for the beleaguered crack force of the Philippines military.
It followed last week's killings of 14 marines, 10 of whom were beheaded after the badly outnumbered forces were ambushed by Islamic separatists and suspected members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf on Basilan island.
Rio de Janeiro state police killed 652 people in the first half of 2007, 25 percent more than the same period in 2006 and nearly twice as many as New York police killed in all of 2006, according to official and unofficial tallies.
In the midst of a major crackdown on drug trafficking and kidnapping gangs in Rio de Janeiro's sprawling favelas (shanty towns), only 11 police were killed from January to June of this year, the Public Safety Institute said.
Striking workers besieged a copper mine owned by Chile's Codelco and President Michelle Bachelet called for an end to violence on Tuesday as a stoppage by subcontracted workers rolled on into its 23rd day.
The workers have been on strike since June 25 in a bid to squeeze more money from Codelco, which provided the world with 11 percent of its copper last year and has seen its profits rise thanks to high prices for the metal.
China's forced labor scandal has led to the punishment of a total of 95 officials in north China's Shanxi Province, with some sacked of their Party or government posts and others given disciplinary warnings for lax supervision and dereliction of duty.
The provincial disciplinary commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) handed out the penalties on Monday to officials in eight counties in Linfen and Yuncheng.
Commission secretary Yang Senlin said the officials included 12 county level staffs and six city level officials.
In Hongtong, the center of the scandal, Sun Yanlin, head of the county government and concurrently the deputy Party secretary was fired from his Party post. The commission also advised the county people's congress to dismiss him from his government post.
A Colombian plane carrying 54 passengers skidded off a wet runway and plunged nose-first into the Caribbean Sea Tuesday in Santa Marta, 950 km north of Bogota, injuring at least six people, local aviation officials said.
A passenger jet crashed and burst into flames after skidding off a runway at Brazil's busiest airport yesterday and barrelling across a busy highway during rush hour, officials said.
All 175 people on board are feared dead.
The crash happened in driving rain on a runway at Congonhas airport that had been criticized in the past for being too short. The TAM Airlines jet slammed into a gas station and a building owned by the airline, said Jose Leonardi Mota, a spokesman with airport authority Infraero.
TV footage showed flames and clouds of black smoke billowing into the air after the crash.
"I was told that the temperature inside the plane was 1,000 degrees (C), so chances of there being any survivors are practically nil," Sao Paulo State Gov. Jose Serra said at the airport.
All motorists stopped by police for minor offences will be breathalysed as part of Scottish police forces' summer road-safety campaign.
Normally, only those involved in an accident or believed to have been drinking face an automatic breath test. But for the next two weeks, officers have been asked to check routinely the alcohol levels of motorists pulled over for speeding, not wearing a seat belt, or even having a faulty headlight.
"Big Brother" plans to automatically hand the police details of the daily journeys of millions of motorists tracked by road pricing cameras across the country were inadvertently disclosed by the Home Office last night.
Leaked Whitehall background papers reveal that Home Office and transport ministers have clashed over plans for legislation this autumn enabling the police to get automatic "real-time" access to the bulk data from the traffic cameras now going into operation. The Home Office says the police need the data from the cameras, which can read and store every passing numberplate, "for all crime fighting purposes".
India will launch a foreign satellite with a 'top secret' payload in September.
Although officials at the Indian Space Research Organisation are tight-lipped about the nature of the hush-hush mission, information obtained by TOI from other sources suggests that ISRO's proven four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will carry an Israeli spy satellite called TechSar, weighing about 260 kg.
The lift-off will be from the space centre at Sriharikota. The launch will mark a crucial milestone in growing Indo-Israeli military ties and there's a likelihood that some of the secret images taken by TechSar will be made available to India.
Fifteen years after U.S. states were directed to share motor vehicle information in a national database, only nine states have done so, making it nearly impossible to identify hundreds of thousands of stolen vehicles - including a small but steady number that end up as car bombs in Iraq.
MIT biochemists have identified a molecular mechanism behind fear, and successfully cured it in mice, according to an article in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Researchers from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory hope that their work could lead to the first drug to treat the millions of adults who suffer each year from persistent, debilitating fears - including hundreds of soldiers returning from conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. command said Wednesday the highest-ranking Iraqi in the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested, adding that information from him indicates the group's foreign-based leadership wields considerable influence over the Iraqi chapter.
A U.S. Jewish law professor justified comparing Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the Holocaust.
"Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity?" asked Richard Falk, a professor emeritus of law at Princeton University and a visiting professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara in an article published this week in the online "Palestine Chronicle." "I think not."
One in four Israeli men eligible for national service last year dodged the draft, the highest proportion in the history of the Jewish state.
Comment: A definite sign of cracks in Ziostan's propaganda machine.
Figures released yesterday by the Israeli Army showed that in the 2006 intake, just 75 per cent of eligible men joined up. The figures date from before last year's Lebanon war, widely viewed in Israel as a failure, and there are worries that this year's numbers could show an even greater rate of non-participation.
Comment: Yeah, less people to be cannon fodder.
The declining participation rate in a country that since its foundation in 1948 has repeatedly had to use its army to fight for its existence led to strong criticism from officers inside the Israeli army.
Caroline Salas and Miles Weiss Bloomberg 2007-07-17 14:00:00
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the rest of Wall Street are stuck with at least $11 billion of loans and bonds they can't readily sell.
The banks have had to dig into their own pockets to finance parts of at least five leveraged buyouts over the past month because of the worst bear market in high-yield debt in more than two years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Kate Kelly, Serena Ng and Michael Hudson Wall Street Journal 2007-07-18 13:54:00
Investors in two troubled Bear Stearns Cos. hedge funds that made big bets on subprime mortgages have been practically wiped out, the Wall Street firm said yesterday, in more evidence of the turmoil in this corner of the bond market.
Bear said one of its funds was worth nothing and another worth less than a 10th of its value from a few months ago after its subprime trades went bad, according to a letter Bear circulated and to people briefed by the firm. The Wall Street investment bank -- known for its bond-trading savvy -- has had to put up $1.6 billion in rescue financing.
David McIntyre and Stanley White Bloomberg News 2007-07-18 09:31:00
The dollar fell to a record low against the euro and dropped versus the yen after Bear Stearns Cos. reported hedge fund losses, fueling speculation investors will spurn U.S. assets as the economy slows.
East Africa region has been experiencing a number of tremors for the past four days as geologists warn of an eminent earthquake is building up.
The frequent tremors have been felt in Kenya since Thursday, 12 July 2007. The strongest of the earthquakes was reported yesterday at 5:10 (GMT) from the same location as the earlier six (around Lake Natron in northeastern Tanzania) and measured 6.0 on the Richter scale.
Leon Marshall National Geographic 2007-07-18 08:26:00
Elephants moving into war-ravaged southern Angola from neighboring countries appear to have developed the ability to avoid the land mines that litter the region, scientists report.
Michael Chase, a biologist who has been studying the elephants for seven years, says he first detected the animals' apparent ability to avoid the mines from satellite-collar tracking images.
The elephants are returning in growing numbers to southeast Angola, where thousands of the animals were massacred during the country's protracted civil war, said Chase, who heads the nonprofit conservation group Elephants Without Borders.
The region was headquarters for Jonas Savimbi's rebel UNITA movement, which is reported to have sold ivory to pay for weapons.
Fishermen in Zanzibar have caught a coelacanth, an ancient fish once thought to have become extinct when it disappeared from fossil records 80 million years ago, an official said on Sunday.
Researcher Nariman Jidawi of Zanzibar's Institute of Marine Science said the fish was caught off the tropical island's northern tip.
"The fishermen informed us they had caught this strange fish and we quickly rushed to find it was a coelacanth," he told Reuters, adding that it weighed 27 kg (60 lb) and was 1.34 meters long.
The coelacanth, known from fossil records dating back more than 360 million years, was believed to have become extinct some 80 million years ago until one was caught off the eastern coast of South Africa in 1938 -- a major zoological find.
Review covers 136 countries in US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Spain.
Leukaemia rates in children and young people are elevated near nuclear facilities, but no clear explanation exists to explain the rise, according to a research review published in the July issue of European Journal of Cancer Care.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina carried out a sophisticated meta-analysis of 17 research papers covering 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France, the USA, Germany, Japan and Spain.
They found that death rates for children up to the age of nine were elevated by between five and 24 per cent, depending on their proximity to nuclear facilities, and by two to 18 per cent in children and young people up to the age of 25.
Incidence rates were increased by 14 to 21 per cent in zero to nine year olds and seven to ten percent in zero to 25 year-olds.
American Physiological Society / EurekAlert 2007-07-18 10:04:00
Taking a break in the middle of your workout may metabolize more fat than exercising without stopping, according to a recent study in Japan. Researchers conducted the first known study to compare these two exercise methods-exercising continually in one long bout versus breaking up the same workout with a rest period. The findings could change the way we approach exercise. Who wouldn't want to take a breather for that"
"Many people believe prolonged exercise will be optimal in order to reduce body fat, but our study has shown that repetitions of shorter exercise may cause enhancements of fat mobilization and utilization during and after the exercise. These findings will be informative about the design of [future] exercise regimens," said lead researcher Kazushige Goto, Ph.D. "Most people are reluctant to perform a single bout of prolonged exercise. The repeated exercise with shorter bouts of exercise will be a great help [in keeping up with fitness]."
EurekAlert / Tufts University, Health Sciences 2007-07-18 09:54:00
Accepting food cravings and keeping them in check may be an important component of weight management, according to findings from the first six-month phase of a calorie-restriction study conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University. Supplemental results from the Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-term Effects of Restricting Intake of Energy (CALERIE) trial provide new insights into food cravings, specific types of foods craved, and their role in weight control.
"Cravings are really normal; almost everyone has them," says corresponding author Susan Roberts, PhD, director of the USDA HNRCA's Energy Metabolism Laboratory. At the start of the study, 91 percent of the participants reported having food cravings, which are defined as an intense desire to eat a specific food. "Most people feel guilty about having food cravings," says Roberts, "but the results of this study indicate that they are so normal that nobody needs to feel they are unusual in this respect."
In addition, the results indicate that cravings don't go away during dieting. "In fact, 94 percent of the study participants reported cravings after six months of dieting. However,"Roberts says, "participants who lost a greater percentage of body weight gave in to their cravings less frequently. Allowing yourself to have the foods you crave, but doing so less frequently may be one of the most important keys to successful weight control," she adds.
An Indian minister has proposed that all pregnant women register with the government and seek its permission if they wish to undergo an abortion.
Women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury says the move is aimed at stopping the aborting of unwanted female foetuses.
Although prenatal sex determination and selective abortion are banned, far more boys than girls are born.
Critics warn that the new move could backfire and be misused.
Eating grapefruit every day could raise the risk of developing breast cancer by almost a third, US scientists say.
A study of 50,000 post-menopausal women found eating just a quarter of a grapefruit daily raised the risk by up to 30%.
The fruit is thought to boost levels of oestrogen - the hormone associated with a higher risk of the disease, the British Journal of Cancer reported.
But the researchers and other experts said more research was still needed.
Getting sick often means getting tired too. Now researchers have tracked down how the chemical responsible for such drowsiness works.
The culprit is a small protein called tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), named for its anti-tumour properties. This compound was known to trigger inflammation in response to infection and some chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. And it was known to be linked - somehow - to fatigue. Cancer patients treated with TNF-alpha sometimes report severe lethargy, for example. And patients with a sleep disorder called sleep apnea sometimes report less daytime sleepiness after receiving a drug that interferes with TNF-alpha.
But precisely how the protein was affecting sleep habits was unclear.
Michelle Nichols ABC News in Science 2007-07-18 07:23:00
All of Egypt's royal mummies will get identity checks after scientists found one was wrongly identified as a pharaoh, Egypt's chief archaeologist says.
Dr Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, says he will use computed tomography, or CT scanning, and DNA to test more than 40 royal mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
In June, the mummy long thought to have been King Tuthmosis I was found to be a young man who died from an arrow wound, Hawass says. History shows Tuthmosis I died in his 60s.
"I am now questioning all the mummies," he says. "We have to check them all again.
"The new technology now will reconfirm or identify anything for us."
ATHENS - Roadworks in southern Greece have unearthed a rare Mycenaean grave thought to be well over 3,000 years old and containing important burial offerings including a gold chalice, the culture ministry said on Monday.
VENTURA, Calif. - The spot where a pair of outhouses stood 130 years ago is proving to be a treasure trove for archaeologists who braved the lingering smell in the dirt to uncover some 19th Century artifacts _ and a mystery.
Matthew Danchanko has squatters in his new home. And they won't leave without a fight. They're honeybees - tens of thousands of of them. They buzz through the four-bedroom house, creating a low hum and an estimated 100 pounds of honey.