- Signs of the Times Archive for Thu, 26 Jul 2007 -

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U.S. News
Rove subpoenaed in attorney firings

Associated Press
2007-07-26 14:20:00

Senate Democrats called for a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied under oath and subpoenaed top presidential aide Karl Rove Thursday in a widening probe into the dismissal of federal prosecutors.

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Flashback: "Bush - Nazi Dealings Continued Until 1951" - Federal Documents

John Buchanan and Stacey Michael
New Hampshire Gazette
2003-11-07 08:11:00

After the seizures in late 1942 of five U.S. enterprises he managed on behalf of Nazi industrialist Fritz Thyssen, Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush, failed to divest himself of more than a dozen "enemy national" relationships that continued until as late as 1951, newly-discovered U.S. government documents reveal.

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Prescott Bush Involved in 1933 White House Coup Plot

BBC Radio 4
2007-07-26 08:04:00

Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen

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Ministry of Truth: Attack 'Could Happen Any Day'

News Max Propaganda Network
2007-07-26 07:56:00

The U.S. military commander in charge of defending the U.S. homeland said Tuesday that he believes there are al-Qaida cells in the United States or people working to create them.

Air Force Gen. Victor "Gene" Renuart said that while the terrorism threat within the nation's boundaries has increased in the past year, officials have strengthened intelligence sharing, particularly in an effort to shore up weaknesses in security at U.S. ports.

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Insane! Man's love of reading costs him his home

2007-07-26 07:47:00

A bookstore owner's obsession with the written word has cost him his Pennsylvania home after local officials deemed his book collection a fire hazard.

Authorities in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., condemned John Puchniak's apartment this year when a routine inspection raised concern the bookstore owner's collection of nearly 3,000 texts could cause a fire, The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader reported Wednesday.

Puchniak now resides in a local hotel, while attempting to limit the stacks upon stacks of books that decorate his condemned apartment.

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Soldiers Must Pay For Damaged Equipment, Vets Told

Kirstin Cole
2007-07-26 06:39:00

A 2006 government report found more than 1,000 soldiers being billed a total of $1.5 million. And while fighting overseas put their lives on the line, this battle on paper could cost them their future by ruining their credit.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
The EU constitution is back and more dangerous than ever!

Daniel Johnson
Daily Mail
2007-07-25 14:38:00

Do you remember the European Constitution? Yes, the one rejected by the French and Dutch? That same European Constitution on which the Labour Government promised the British people a referendum before the last General Election?

Well, it's back with a vengeance. Like some old Hammer horror movie, the constitution has returned from the dead, now repackaged as a 'treaty'.

But the so-called 'new' EU Treaty has all the same ingredients as the old constitution. In fact, it was revealed yesterday that it is 96 per cent identical to the old constitution.

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Russia to deploy S-400 air defense systems around Moscow Aug. 6

RIA Novosti
2007-07-26 12:07:00

Russia will deploy the first air defense battalion equipped with new S-400 missile systems around Moscow on August 6, an Air Force spokesman said.

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Russian expedition sets sail to claim Arctic for the Kremlin

Craig Offman
National Post
2007-07-26 07:19:00

Two weeks after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada's plans to assert itself more vigorously in the Arctic, a Russian expedition sailed Tuesday for the North Pole, where it plans to send a mini-submarine crew to plant a flag on the seabed and symbolically claim the Arctic for the Kremlin.

The mission is part of a race to assert rights over the Lomonosov Ridge, a barren but energy-rich wasteland that stretches across 11 time zones.

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Spies on high alert: Putin call on intelligence service to increase its possibilities

2007-07-26 04:50:00

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) to increase its possibilities.

He met top officers of security agencies in the Kremlin on Wednesday.

Putin said SVR "helps revealing external threats to national security, assisting the consolidation of international postions of our country".

"In the meantime, the situation in the word and the internal political interests warrant SVR permanently increasing its possibilities, first of all in information and analytical support of the country's leadership," Putin said

He also praised professionalism of the Federal Security Service.

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Russia to set up integrated radar system by 2010 - official

2007-07-26 04:45:00

The establishment of an integrated automated radar system incorporating the technical capabilities of all Russian agencies possessing radar installations will be completed in
2010, Russian Air Force's radio engineering troops Commander Maj. Gen. Anatoly Boyarintsev told journalists.

"The implementation of this program is planned for a period up to 2010. About four and a half billion rubles have been set aside for its implementation," Boyarintsev said.

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At least 9 illegal immigrants drown off coast of Sicily

RIA Novosti
2007-07-26 04:37:00

At least nine people drowned when two boats with illegal immigrants sank off the coast of Sicily, an Italian news agency said Wednesday.

Agr said the North Africans were probably heading for the Italian Island of Lampedusa, which houses an immigration center, one of the entry-points for migrants in Europe.

Coast guards and the Navy are working at the scene.

This is not the first tragedy in Italian waters involving migrants, who usually arrive from Africa in rubber boats, rafts, and old vessels.

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Around the World
Power blackout hits downtown Montreal

2007-07-26 13:46:00

Much of Montreal's central financial district was without power on Thursday morning and a city official said about 4,000 customers were affected, though the cause was unknown.

"It does cover the entire downtown business district and some residential, so it's a large breakdown ... a complete blackout," said city spokeswoman Patricia Lowe.

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Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable cruise missile

2007-07-26 11:31:00

Pakistan said it successfully test-fired a cruise missile Thursday capable of delivering nuclear warheads deep into India.

Babur Hatf 7 missile.

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Explosion at northern Syrian military complex kills 15 soldiers

Yoav Stern
2007-07-26 07:50:00

An explosion went off at an ordnance depot inside a military complex outside the Syrian city of Aleppo on Thursday, killing at least 15 soldiers and wounding 50 others, the state news agency said.

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U.S.-Afghan forces kill 50 militants in Afghanistan

2007-07-26 04:00:00

Afghan and U.S.-led Coalition forces killed more than 50 Taliban militants in overnight fighting in southern Afghanistan, coalition forces said Thursday.

Comment: The news that come out from Afghanistan these days have changed. Now only Taliban militants are killed. No civilians are killed anymore.

How did this happen? A Hint, it is called relabelling.

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France signs agreement with Libya on nuclear reactor

2007-07-26 04:00:00

France and Libya on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding to build a Libyan nuclear reactor for water desalination and clinched a raft of other deals, a senior French official said.

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Sarkozy: The curious case of the Bulgarian medics

2007-07-24 20:10:00


FEW would have predicted precisely this outcome.

On Tuesday July 24th five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, who had been imprisoned for more than eight years in Libya, were finally freed. The six workers had been convicted of deliberately infecting some 400 children in eastern Libya with HIV, despite their claims of innocence and despite evidence that the children probably contracted the virus as a result of poor hospital hygiene. The medics had faced the death penalty, but last week their sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after a mysterious payment of $460m was agreed to be made - through an international fund - to the victims' families.

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Big Brother
Bzzzzt: Robot Fly Well on It's Way to Spying on You

Matt Safford
2007-07-26 04:40:00

File this one under creepy emerging sci-fi tech: super-crazy cool, with more than a hint of big brother paranoia. It seems Harvard University microroboticist Robert Wood, who's surely smarter than he should be, has crafted a 60mg robot fly with a three centimeter wingspan. According to robotbloggers at waziwazi, it mimics the flight of a real fly and is "constructed from carbon fiber and electroactive polymers that change shape with an applied voltage." That last bit should sound all too familiar for fans of the last Batman flick.

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Department of Defense Developing New PSYOPS Tool

Sim Strife
2007-06-23 20:15:00

Perhaps your real life is so rich you don't have time for another.

Even so, the US Department of Defense (DOD) may already be creating a copy of you in an alternate reality to see how long you can go without food or water, or how you will respond to televised propaganda.

The DOD is developing a parallel to Planet Earth, with billions of individual "nodes" to reflect every man, woman, and child this side of the dividing line between reality and AR.

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Axis of Evil
Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour

Max Blumenthal
Huffington Post
2007-07-26 15:09:00

On July 16, I attended Christians United for Israel's annual Washington-Israel Summit. Founded by San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John Hagee, CUFI has added the grassroots muscle of the Christian right to the already potent Israel lobby. Hagee and his minions have forged close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain. In its call for a unilateral military attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory, CUFI has found unwavering encouragement from traditional pro-Israel groups like AIPAC and elements of the Israeli government.

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Caught on tape: Tom DeLay says US must be connected to Israel to enjoy second coming

Will Menaker
Raw Story
2007-07-26 15:06:00

After attending the College Republican convention, Nation journalist Max Blumenthal took his camera to the Christians United for Israel's annual Washington-Israel Summit in D.C. Founded by right-wing mega-church pastor John Hagee, the group has "added the grassroots muscle of the Christian right to the already potent Israel lobby," "forging close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress."

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Warwhore Rice hypocrisy: Israel must end the occupation of the West Bank

Barak Ravid and Shahar Ilan
2007-07-26 08:09:00

Israel needs to end the occupation of the West Bank, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday in an interview with Radio Sawa, an American Arabic-speaking station.

Comment: Israel is occupying the whole of Palestine.

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Continuing Power Grab by Bush Reich

Edward Luce
2007-07-25 22:13:00

Relations between George W. Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress hit a new low on Wednesday when a House committee launched contempt proceedings against a senior and a former official in a move the White House promptly dismissed as "pathetic".

The contempt citations, issued against Josh Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, Mr Bush's former senior counsel, mark a significant escalation of a six- month tussle between the executive and legislative branches that could turn into a full-blown constitutional battle.

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Bush Denies Congress Access to Aides

Laurie Kellman
2007-07-09 22:20:00

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush invoked executive privilege Monday to deny requests by Congress for testimony from two former aides about the firings of federal prosecutors.

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Propaganda Alert! 'Terrists Can Make Dirty Bombs Easy As Pie

NewScientist.com news service
2007-07-25 20:55:00

With all the security measures in place against terrorist attacks, you might think it would be difficult to obtain enough radioactive material from within the US to build a dirty bomb. It turns out that all you need is a little ingenuity and one fake fax.

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Middle East Madness
The United States Finds Few Non-Iraqis Among Insurgents

Anna Mulrine
US News and World Report
2007-07-26 07:07:00

As President Bush continues to stress al Qaeda as the chief threat to Iraq's stability--a reprised effort to establish a link between al Qaeda in Iraq and the 9/11 attackers--U.S. military forces on the ground in Iraq are fighting a complex war in regions with vast networks of overlapping loyalties--and few foreign fighters. Most members of al Qaeda in Iraq, say commanders on the ground, are local Iraqi outcasts.

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Iraq envoy slams US over arms supplies

2007-07-26 04:19:00

Iraq's ambassador to the United States Wednesday launched a withering attack on what he said was US slowness to provide basic weaponry to his country's ill-equipped armed forces.

Samir Sumaidaie said the foot-dragging was inexplicable given President George W. Bush's oft-stated desire for Iraqi forces to "stand up" and so allow US troops to withdraw from the frontlines.

Comment: Without the Iraqi troops being properly equipped, they will never be ready to take over and therefore the US can always justify staying.

Not that they ever really wanted to leave in the first place.

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Stealing Iraqi Oil Benchmark - Nearing Completion

2007-07-25 00:47:00

The Iraqi parliament unanimously passed a bill allowing private investments in crude oil refineries.

MP Bassem Sharif, Al-Fadhila Party member, told KUNA that the parliament passed the bill last night.

This bill is the first step towards approving the oil and gas bill, said MP Hassan Al-Sunaid, a United Iraqi Alliance party member.

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The Loan Gunmen
Stocks Plunge; Dow Falls More Than 400

Joe Bel Bruno
Associated Press
2007-07-26 15:57:00

NEW YORK -- Wall Street suffered its biggest plunge of the year Thursday, leading global markets lower as investors fled stocks amid increasing uneasiness about the mortgage and corporate lending markets. The Dow Jones industrials briefly fell nearly 450 points, while Treasury yields plunged as investors moved money into bonds.

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Kuwait revalues currency, markets test Gulf pegs

2007-07-25 14:31:00

Kuwait allowed the dinar to appreciate around 1.7 percent against the tumbling dollar on Wednesday, encouraging investors to bet that other Gulf Arab oil producers would review their pegged exchange rates.

The dinar surged to an 18-year high while the Saudi Arabian riyal and the United Arab Emirates dirham strengthened as the magnitude of the Kuwait's third revaluation in just over two months took markets by surprise.

"The markets are looking at which country would likely be next," said Koceilas Maames, Africa and Middle East Economist at Calyon Credit Agricole in Paris.

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US New Home Sales Down Substantially

Martin Crutsinger
2007-07-25 11:27:00

Sales of new homes fell in June by the largest amount in five months as the housing industry continued to struggle with its worst downturn in 16 years. The median home price also fell.

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes dropped by 6.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 834,000 units. The decline was more than triple what had been expected and was the largest percentage drop since sales fell by 12.7 percent in January. Sales are now 22.3 percent below the level of a year ago.

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Is Russia One Of The Richest Countries

Oleg Mityayev
Spacewar.com / RIA Novosti
2007-07-26 06:31:00

The United States, Japan, China, Germany...Russia? Strange as it may seem, the world's largest country might soon also be one of its five biggest economies. On Tuesday, Russia's Economic Development and Trade Ministry submitted a remarkable document to the government - a plan for Russian social and economic development until the year 2020. With ambitious targets, it attracted the attention of experts even before its official publication.

According to the forecast, if the country shifts its economic orientation from raw materials to innovation, its gross domestic product will grow by an average of 6.7% a year, putting the Russian economy into the world's top five. At that rate, the country's economy will grow two-and-a-half times by 2020, giving it an annual per capita GDP of $30,000 - no less than Western Europe and North America.

Some experts smirk at the forecast for its starry-eyed idealism-but Russia's present-day and recent economic growth rates back it up. GDP has been adding almost 7% annually for the last eight years, exceeding the most optimistic projections of government experts and other analysts. The Economic Development and Trade Ministry has forecast a 6.5% growth rate for this year. It will certainly be greater than that-the Kremlin and the Cabinet expect 7-8%.

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The Living Planet
Record temperatures, rainfall baste Northern Califoria coast

2007-07-24 14:23:00

Record temperatures and rain are basting the northern coast of California, a region known for brisk ocean breezes and chilly nights all year long.

In Crescent City, a coastal town just south of the Oregon border, the mercury dipped to 60 degrees early Monday morning - 3 degrees higher than the previous overnight low-temperature record, which stood for 15 years. The overnight record is also known as the "maximum minimum."

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Disastrous cold snap in Peru

Deutsche Welthungerhilfe
2007-07-25 14:15:00

Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (German Agro Action) is releasing 50,000 euros for the victims of the devastating cold snap in the Andean regions of Peru. The money will provide warm clothing, medicine, food and blankets for around 6,000 people within the week.

Shaded areas show where emergencies have been declared.

South America is experiencing unusually low temperatures, even for the winter season in the southern hemisphere. The result is snowfall -exceptional for this time of year - of up to 50cm. "The people here are resilient. They even wear sandals in winter," explains Jeanette Weller, Welthungerhilfe's Regional Director in Lima. "But they can't cope with temperatures like this."

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'Mud volcano' growing off Trinidad?

Louis B Homer and Richard Charan
Trinidad Express
2007-07-26 14:01:00

The Roiling waters five miles off Trinidad's east coast might be a sign of a mud volcano growing on the ocean floor, belching out methane gas along with a slurry of mud and sediment, experts believe.

©Trinidad Express
A pirogue (small boat), bottom right, moves past what appears to be the activities of a "mud volcano" off Radix Point, Mayaro yesterday.


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Cricket Invasion Hits Texas

2007-07-26 13:53:00

Many parts of Texas are under siege by crickets. They congregate on patios, slip into stairwells -- and, if they're crunched underfoot, they make the fanciest surroundings smell like a bait shop.


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Indonesia lifts tsunami warning after strong quake

2007-07-26 07:41:00

A strong undersea earthquake hit North Maluku province in eastern Indonesia on Thursday, triggering panic among frightened residents and a brief tsunami warning.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties after the quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey put at magnitude 6.7 and the epicentre at a depth of 45 km (28 miles).

The agency had initially put the quake at magnitude 7.4 and a depth of 88 km.

"We have lifted the warning. After monitoring, there were no signs of tsunami," Fauzi, the head of the seismology centre in Indonesia's meteorology agency, told Reuters.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre also said on its Web site that it did not expect a "destructive Pacific-wide" tsunami but said quakes of this magnitude can sometimes create local tsunamis.

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Megafishes Project to Size Up "Real-Life Loch Ness Monsters"

Stefan Lovgren
National Geographic
2007-07-26 06:22:00

This is the first in a continuing series on the Megafishes Project. Join National Geographic News on the trail with project leader Zeb Hogan as he tracks down the world's largest freshwater fishes.

A thick, polluting haze envelops the Three Gorges Dam, blurring the view of the world's largest hydroelectric station.

But for Zeb Hogan, a fisheries biologist with the University of Reno, in Nevada, seeing the 1.5-mile-wide (2.5-kilometer-wide) dam from the banks of the Yangtze River brings into sharp focus the threats facing the animals he has set out to study: the world's largest freshwater fishes.

"From the point of view of the fish, there's nothing worse than a dam," he said.

"Dams block upstream migration, destroy spawning habitat, and can turn large stretches of river into ecological wastelands."

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Health & Wellness
Resisting peer pressure: new findings shed light on adolescent decision-making

The University of Nottingham
2007-07-26 06:49:00

The capacity to resist peer pressure in early adolescence may depend on the strength of connections between certain areas of the brain, according to a study carried out by University of Nottingham researchers.

New findings suggest that enhanced connections across brain regions involved in decision-making may underlie an individual's ability to resist the influence of peers.

The study, published in the July 25 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that brain regions which regulate different aspects of behaviour are more interconnected in children with high resistance to peer influence.

Professor Tomas Paus and colleagues at The University of Nottingham used functional neuroimaging to scan adolescents while they watched video clips of neutral or angry hand and face movements. Previous research has shown that anger is the most easily recognised emotion.

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How to manipulate perceptual focus in advertisements

University of Chicago Press Journals / EurekAlert
2007-07-26 05:17:00

In a new study from the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers from Northwestern University demonstrate how advertisements can be manipulated to cause overemphasis of a particular feature and increase the likelihood that a certain product is chosen. Their finding runs contrary to economic models, which assume that choices are based on stable preferences and should not be influenced by the inclusion of inferior options.

"By showing the impact of perceptual focus on consumer preferences, this research demonstrates that in addition to the many overt ways companies can draw attention to products, the visual arrangement of alternatives can also have a significant influence on their relative choice shares," explain Ryan Hamilton, Jiewen Hong, and Alexander Chernev.

In a series of fascinating experiments, the authors show how grouping together options with similar characteristics can emphasize dissimilar options and help them pop-out. For example, consider a comparison of two sofas, A and B. Sofa A has softer cushions; Sofa B is more durable. In a head-to-head comparison, sofa A is preferred by less than half of the survey participants - 42.3 percent.

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Learning a second language - Is it all in your head?

Northwestern University / EurekAlert
2007-07-26 05:13:00

Think you haven't got the aptitude to learn a foreign language? New research led by Northwestern University neuroscientists suggests that the problem, quite literally, could be in your head.

"Our study links brain anatomy to the ability to learn a second language in adulthood," said neuroscientist Patrick Wong, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at Northwestern and lead author of a study appearing online today (July 25) at , in Cerebral Cortex.

Based on the size of Heschl's Gyrus (HG), a brain structure that typically accounts for no more than 0.2 percent of entire brain volume, the researchers found they could predict -- even before exposing study participants to an invented language -- which participants would be more successful in learning 18 words in the "pseudo" language.

Wong and his colleagues measured the size of HG, a finger-shaped structure in both the right and left side of the brain, using a method developed by co-authors Virginia Penhune and Robert Zatorre (Montreal Neurological Institute). Zatorre and Penhune are well known for research on human speech and music processing and the brain.

"We found that the size of left HG, but not right HG, made the difference," said Northwestern's Catherine Warrier, a primary author of the article titled "Volume of Left Heschl's Gyrus and Linguistic Pitch." Anil K. Roy (Northwestern), Abdulmalek Sadehh (West Virginia University) and Todd Parish (Northwestern) also are co-authors.

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Why do people love horror movies? They enjoy being scared

University of Chicago Press Journals / EurekAlert
2007-07-26 05:10:00

A bedrock assumption in theories that explain and predict human behavior is people's motivation to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. How can this be reconciled with the decision to engage in experiences known to elicit negative feelings, such as horror movies" It certainly seems counterintuitive that so many people would voluntarily immerse themselves in almost two hours of fear, disgust and terror. "Why do people pay for this?" "How is this enjoyable?"

Investigators generally use one of two theories to explain why people like horror movies. The first is that the person is not actually afraid, but excited by the movie. The second explanation is that they are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end. But, a new study by Eduardo Andrade (University of California, Berkeley) and Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida) appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research argues that neither of these theories is correct.

"We believe that a reevaluation of the two dominant explanations for people's willingness to consume "negative" experiences (both of which assume that people can not experience negative and positive emotions simultaneously) is in order," explain Andrade and Cohen in their study.

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Polar expeditions linked to 'madness'

Will Dunham
2007-07-26 05:06:00

Working for long periods in the harsh and unforgiving conditions near the North Pole and South Pole often causes people to suffer a stew of psychological symptoms dubbed "polar madness," scientists said yesterday.

The researchers studied the psychological effects on people from toiling in remote polar outposts, often for a year at a time, gleaning lessons they say might help prepare for lengthy human space missions, such as a trip to Mars.

While some people on polar expeditions savor a gratifying sense of achievement, the researchers said, 40 percent to 60 percent of them may suffer negative effects such as depression, sleep disruption, anger, irritability, and conflict with co-workers.

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Many 'believe myths' on epilepsy

2007-07-26 04:13:00

Many people believe potentially harmful myths about epilepsy, a study from University College London suggests.
A third would put something in the mouth of a person having a seizure to stop them swallowing their tongue - but doing so could block their airways.

And 67% of the 4,605 people asked would call an ambulance immediately, Epilepsy and Behavior journal reports.

This is only needed for first seizures, those lasting over five minutes, if the person is hurt or has several seizures.

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Science & Technology
Nevada among states with biggest temperature increases

2007-07-26 12:13:00

Nevada is among the states with the most dramatic increase in average temperatures the last 30 years, according to a new study that examines the impact of global warming across the country.

The average temperature in Reno from June through August last year was 75.6 degrees, almost 7 degrees above the 30-year average, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group reported. The gap was the biggest measured nationally.

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Chandra Catches Piranha Black Holes

Space Daily
2007-07-26 06:40:00

Supermassive black holes have been discovered to grow more rapidly in young galaxy clusters, according to new results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. These "fast-track" supermassive black holes can have a big influence on the galaxies and clusters that they live in. Using Chandra, scientists surveyed a sample of clusters and counted the fraction of galaxies with rapidly growing supermassive black holes, known as active galactic nuclei (or AGN). The data show, for the first time, that younger, more distant galaxy clusters contained far more AGN than older, nearby ones.

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In Poker Match Against a Machine, Humans Are Better Bluffers

John Markoff
New York Times
2007-07-26 03:59:00

For anyone stuck on a casino stool, playing hours of video poker, rest assured: humans can still beat a computer.

But computers may soon dominate on the felt-top table, as they have on the chessboard.

In a match of wits between man and machine this week, a software program running on an ordinary laptop computer fought a close match, but lost to two well-known professional human poker players.

The contest, which was billed as the "First Man-Machine Poker Championship" and which offered prize money totaling $50,000, pitted two professionals, Phil Laak and Ali Eslami, against a program written by a team of artificial intelligence researchers from the University of Alberta. They gave it a name that probably no gambler would ever choose as a nickname, Polaris.

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Sun may have reached solar minimum: NASA

Niall Firth
Daily Mail
2007-07-25 22:46:00

A stunning new image of the Sun has been released by NASA which shows it as an almost perfect sphere, glowing a fiery red and orange in the pitch-black of space.

It is almost spotless, a sign that the Sun may have reached solar minimum. Scientists are now watching for the first spot of the new solar cycle to appear.

The sun, as photographed by NASA's SOHO spacecraft.

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Fruit Fly Gene From 'Out Of Nowhere' May Change Ideas About How Genes Are Formed

Science Daily
2007-07-25 18:24:00

Scientists thought that most new genes were formed from existing genes, but Cornell researchers have discovered a gene in some fruit flies that appears to be unrelated to other genes in any known genome.

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Our Haunted Planet
Mining Yukon's UFOs

Rhiannon Coppin
Yukon News
2007-07-26 07:33:00

In 1976, for several weeks, a light followed a school bus on its regular route to Whitehorse from Lake Laberge.

The bus driver saw it. So did her 10-year-old daughter and all the other kids on the bus.

It made her nervous.

She asked for a new route, and transferred to Carcross.

So did the light.

And it was closer.

It would stop and shoot across the sky.

Then, one afternoon just before Christmas, after all the children had been dropped off, something really weird happened.

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Wall shaking, window rattling booms heard in Missouri still a mystery

Joyce L. Miller
Lake Sun Leader
2007-07-24 23:40:00

The United States Air Force has launched an investigation and hope to provide residents who heard a series of loud booms Monday with an answer to clear up any confusion.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Spying Squirrels

Saleh Eskandari
2007-07-25 21:12:00

Also in the animal world . . . From the BBC translators, an editorial by Saleh Eskandari headlined "spying squirrels," published July 10 by the Iranian newspaper Resalat.

"A few weeks ago, 14 squirrels equipped with espionage systems of foreign intelligence services were captured by [Iranian] intelligence forces along the country's borders. These trained squirrels, each of which weighed just over 700 grams, were released on the borders of the country for intelligence and espionage purposes. According to the announcement made by Iranian intelligence officials, alert police officials caught these squirrels before they could carry out any task.

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