- Signs of the Times Archive for Fri, 31 Aug 2007 -

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The War On Working Americans Part 1 & 2

Stephen Lendman
SJ Lendman Blog
2007-08-31 09:20:00

As Labor Day approaches, what better time to assess the state of working America. It's under assault and weakened by decades of eroding rights in the richest country in the world once regarded as a model democratic state. It's pure nonsense in a nation always dedicated to wealth and power, but don't try finding that discussed in the mainstream. Today, it's truer than ever making the struggle for equity and justice all the harder. That's what ordinary working people now face making beating those odds formidable at the least.

In a globalized world, the law of supply and demand is in play with lots more workers around everywhere than enough jobs for them. It keeps corporate costs low and profits high and growing with Business Week (BW) magazine reporting in its April 9 issue "the share of (US) national income going to corporate profits (compared to labor) is hovering around a 50 year high." BW then quoted Harvard economist Richard Freeman's research paper saying only "a global pandemic that kills millions of people" could cause a labor shortage and elevate worker bargaining power.

There's little in sight, and the result is a huge reserve army of unemployed or underemployed working people creating an inevitable race to the bottom in a corporatized marketplace. It harms workers everywhere, including in developed nations. They're outsourcing good jobs abroad to lower wage countries and pressuring workers to do more for less because they've got little bargaining power to fight back. More on this below.

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U.S. News
US Lawmakers' Plane Under Fire in Iraq

Ben Evans, AP
The Washington Post
2007-08-31 06:38:00

WASHINGTON -- A military cargo plane carrying three senators and a House member was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night.

The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.

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CNN ditches Reuters

Kenneth Li
2007-08-31 04:48:00

NEW YORK - The CNN cable television news network said on Thursday it would stop using the Reuters news service, ending a 27-year relationship, to contain costs and invest in its own news gathering operations.

The global television news network owned by the world's largest media company, Time Warner Inc, said in an internal memo that it wanted to reduce reliance on agency material while achieving better control of its growth.

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Audit finds U.S. nuclear weapons parts misplaced

Tom Doggett
2007-08-30 21:18:00

Some facilities that handle the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile misplaced classified bomb components under their care, according to an Energy Department audit.

The department's Inspector General also found there was confusion at the facilities over who was responsible for keeping track of weapons parts and recommended changes in how to better safeguard the parts.

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Flashback: U.S. nuclear lab ex-contractor accused of stealing

James Vicini
2007-07-20 02:15:00

A former contract worker at a nuclear laboratory run by the U.S. Energy Department was charged with stealing classified equipment used for uranium enrichment, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

Officials said Roy Oakley, 67, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee, as part of an undercover FBI operation in which federal agents posed as representatives of a foreign nation seeking to buy the materials.

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WMD Found! Phosgene from Iraq found in UN office

Edith M. Lederer
Associated Press
2007-08-30 17:00:00

U.N. weapons inspectors discovered a potentially hazardous chemical warfare agent that was taken from an Iraqi chemical weapons facility 11 years ago and mistakenly stored in their offices in the heart of midtown Manhattan all that time, officials said Thursday.

The material, identified in inventory files as phosgene - a chemical substance used in World War I weapons - was discovered Aug. 24. It was only identified on Wednesday because it was marked simply with an inventory number, and officials had to check the many records in their vast archives, said Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the U.N. inspection agency.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
"Redacted" stuns Venice

Silvia Aloisi
2007-08-31 17:46:00

A new film about the real-life rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers who also murdered her family stunned the Venice festival, with shocking images that left some viewers in tears.

"Redacted", by U.S. director Brian De Palma, is one of at least eight American films on the war in Iraq due for release in the next few months and the first of two movies on the conflict screening in Venice's main competition.

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UK Prepares for 'Flu pandemic' that 'could kill 650,000'

David Barrett
The Guardian
2007-08-31 17:27:00

Up to 650,000 people could die in England and Wales if there were a flu pandemic, according to a Home Office document that outlines plans for dealing with an outbreak, including measures for mass burials and refrigerated storage of bodies.

Ways of dealing with mass casualties are likely to be overwhelmed at the height of a pandemic, with up to 22% extra deaths at its height, the report warns.

The document, Planning For A Possible Influenza Epidemic, is intended for a range of agencies, to help improve their readiness for any outbreak, and is open for consultation until the end of November. The plans will apply if a new strain of "ordinary" flu emerged, or if avian flu passed easily from birds to humans.

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UN summit: Boycott Israel

Yaakov Lappin
Ynet News
2007-08-31 14:08:00

A UN conference, held at the European Parliament in Brussels, heard an array of speakers call for a boycott against Israel and strategize on ways to achieve its international isolation, during the first day of an event billed by organizers as a gathering to promote "Middle East peace".

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African migrants adrift for three days rescued after call to friend in UK

Jonathan Brown
The Independent
2007-08-30 23:00:00

An international rescue operation saved a boat full of African migrants, including pregnant women and children, last night after British coastguards were alerted to the vessel, which had been set adrift for three days without food or water in the Mediterranean.

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Another Russian Oil Oligarch May Have Fled To London

Luke Harding
The Guardian
2007-08-30 21:41:00

Relations between Russia and Britain were facing fresh turbulence yesterday after a billionaire oligarch wanted by the Kremlin for tax evasion was reported to have escaped to London. Mikhail Gutseriyev - the former head of one of Russia's largest private oil firms - disappeared from Russia last week. On Tuesday a court in Moscow issued a warrant for his arrest.

©Dmitry Dukhanin/AFP
Mikhail Gutseriyev, the former CEO of Russian oil producer Russneft, in his then office in Moscow.

Last month Mr Gutseriyev stepped down from his oil company, RussNeft, citing "unprecedented bullying" by Vladimir Putin's government. Mr Gutseriyev - whose personal fortune is estimated at $3bn - accused the Kremlin of "illegally" forcing him out of business using trumped-up tax claims.

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Around the World
More US soldiers not welcome in Africa, says South Africa's Lekota

Wyndham Hartley
Business Day
2007-08-31 14:28:00

More armed US soldiers are not welcome in Africa, said Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota yesterday.

Any country that allowed itself to be a base for the US strategic command in Africa (Africom) would have to live with the consequences, Lekota said.

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670 arrested, 50 injured in Chile protest

2007-08-31 04:47:00

About 670 people were arrested and another 50 were injured in the first major protest since Chilean President Michele Bachelet took office last year, police said Thursday.

Hundreds of people protesting the socialist government's economic policies threw rocks at police officers who retaliated with water cannons and tear gas during Wednesday's march in Santiago.

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Ransom paid for SKorean hostages: report

2007-08-31 04:21:00

South Korea paid two million dollars to Taliban extremists in Afghanistan to secure the release of 19 hostages, a Japanese newspaper reported Friday.

Citing unidentified sources in Afghanistan, the respected Asahi Shimbun said Afghan mediators persuaded South Korea's ambassador in Kabul that there was no other way to end the six-week kidnap ordeal.

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Chileans take to streets in anger at regime

Jonathan Franklin
The Guardian
2007-08-30 20:32:00

Thousands of Chileans took to the streets yesterday in a burgeoning middle class revolt against the 17 years of coalition government that has ruled since the fall of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.

Hundreds of Chileans were arrested as they approached the presidential palace. Squares in and around the palace became a chaotic mix of mounted police, riot troops and teargas. As water cannons blasted protesters, waves of students counterattacked with rocks. Burning barricades almost closed central Santiago.

©Getty Images

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Big Brother
Germany Wants to Spy on Suspects Via Web

Melissa Eddy
2007-08-31 16:40:00

German officials on Friday defended a proposal to use "Trojan horse" software to secretly monitor potential terror suspects' hard drives, amid fierce debate over whether the measures violate civil liberties.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wants to include the measure in a broader security law being considered by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government.

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NASA-JPL scientists sue over new ID checks

2007-08-31 12:38:00

Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists and engineers sued NASA and the California Institute of Technology on Thursday, challenging extensive new background checks that the space exploration center and other federal agencies began requiring in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

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Ex Aussie PM: I'm buggered if I'll take my shoes off for APEC

Paul Bibby
Sydney Morning Herald
2007-08-31 06:47:00

Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unable to attend an event in Darwin today because of what he described as "overly officious" APEC security at Sydney airport.

Mr Whitlam, who is 91, told the Herald he had chosen not to catch his flight to the northern capital because he did not want to be put through the extra security either leaving Sydney or arriving in Darwin.

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Axis of Evil
New book challenges US support for Israel

Daily Times
2007-08-31 17:56:00

An upcoming book challenging whether diplomatic and military support for Israel is in the best interests of the United States is set to spark fresh debate on Washington's role in the Middle East.

"The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," written by two of the United States' most influential political science professors, is set to hit the bookshelves next Tuesday and promises to break the taboo on the subject. Written by John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt from Harvard, the book follows an article they published last year that stirred impassioned debate by setting out a similar position.

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Post Labor Day Product Rollout: War with Iran

Barnett R. Rubin
Informed Comment Global Affairs
2007-08-31 07:10:00

They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."

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War and the "New World Order"

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research
2007-08-30 19:15:00

"We are now at the year 1908, which was the year that the Carnegie Foundation began operations. And, in that year, the trustees meeting, for the first time, raised a specific question, which they discussed throughout the balance of the year, in a very learned fashion. And the question is this: Is there any means known more effective than war, assuming you wish to alter the life of an entire people? And they conclude that, no more effective means to that end is known to humanity, than war. So then, in 1909, they raise the second question, and discuss it, namely, how do we involve the United States in a war?"

-Norman Dobbs, U.S. Congressional Special Committee for the Investigate of Tax-Exempt Foundations (1982)

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Middle East Madness
Marine tells of order to execute Haditha women and children

2007-08-31 04:21:00

A US Marine was ordered to execute a room full of terrified Iraqi women and children during an alleged massacre in Haditha that left 24 people dead, a military court heard Thursday.

The testimony came in the opening of a preliminary hearing for Marine Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who faces 17 counts of murder over the Haditha killings, the most serious war crimes allegations faced by US troops in Iraq.

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200 media employees killed in Iraq since 2003

2007-08-31 04:21:00

At least 200 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion of the country, Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on Friday.

The murder this week of Anwar Abbas Lafta, an interpreter working for the US network CBS, brought the toll of media employees killed in Iraq to 200, the statement said.

Comment: The less journalists there are in Iraq, the easier it is for the Pentagon to make the world population believe the propaganda that they invent.

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The Loan Gunmen
Barclays admits borrowing hundreds of millions at Bank's emergency rate

Ashley Seager, Larry Elliott and Julia Kollewe
The Guardian
2007-08-31 16:34:00

Barclays has been forced to borrow hundreds of millions of pounds from the Bank of England's emergency lending facility for the second time in a fortnight, it was revealed last night.

In a hurried and emotive statement after London's markets had closed, Barclays attempted to calm fears that it faces a cash crisis. Rumours had circulated all day that Barclays was forced to go to the Bank of England after the central bank said it had lent £1.6bn at its penal rate of 6.75%. It is thought that Barclays borrowed the entire amount.

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CPI fraud directly linked to subprime credit crisis

Robert Hardaway
Home News Tribune
2007-08-29 15:36:00

In 1983, the Bureau of Labor Statistics was faced with an awkward dilemma. If it continued to include the cost of housing in the Consumer Price Index, the CPI would reflect an inflation rate of 15 percent, thereby making the country's economy look like a banana republic. Worse, since investors and bond traders have historically demanded a 2 percent real return after inflation, that would mean that bond and money market yields could climb as high as 17 percent.

The BLS's solution was as simple as it was shocking: Exclude the cost of housing as a component in the CPI, and substitute a so-called "Owner Equivalent Rent" component based on what a homeowner might "rent" his house for.

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Cayman Islands court orders liquidation of Australian-run hedge fund

Tim Johnston
International Herald Tribune
2007-08-30 15:15:00

A court in the Cayman Islands placed the Basis Yield Alpha Fund in provisional liquidation after the Australian-run fund's evisceration by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

The court in the Cayman Islands, where the fund is based, appointed the U.S. accounting firm Grant Thornton as provisional liquidators.

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Leading lender likens US credit crisis to Great Depression

Andrew Clark
The Guardian
2007-08-31 15:11:00

The US financial industry displayed fresh signs of distress from the credit crunch afflicting global money markets yesterday, with one mortgage provider describing lending conditions as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Leading accountancy firm H&R Block revealed huge losses at its up-for-sale mortgage arm, Option One, and said it was considering a halt on new loans. Reporting a quarterly loss of $302m (£150m), Mark Ernst, chief executive, said: "The loan originations market is in the midst of the most severe dislocation it has seen in years, maybe the most severe since the 1930s."

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Google Cuts AdSense Deal with CNN.com

Bryan Gardiner
Wired Blog Network
2007-08-28 05:11:00

Google just added another client to its bread-and-butter revenue-generating program, AdSense. The search company said this morning it has cut an exclusive, multi-year deal with CNN.com to provide the news site with auction-based text advertisements.

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The Unbank Run

John Galt
2007-08-30 22:52:00

Ah the good old days. When the "Uncola" meant a soft drink which created catchy commercials and sometimes a generally good memory of the days when I was younger. But now, anything with the prefix "un" implies a financial disaster on the horizon. Unfortunately, this story will not be any better. Way, way, way back on August 15, 2007, a whopping fifteen days ago (that's nine years to Bubblevision) there was a real deadline, not an "un-real" situation as the bubblevisionistas attempted to promote. That deadline was so fixed, so real, and so ugly, it meant that fund managers actually had to "gasp" manage and financial wizards has to put their wands and secretaries up long enough to discombobulate the sudden sense of urgency being transmitted to them from their Calcutta call centers. You see, the wealthiest of Americans took one look at the poker table, and the decision was simple: No thanks, cash me out.

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The Living Planet
NASA Study Says Global Warming Will Bring More Violent Storms To U.S.

Nidhi Sharma
2007-08-30 17:52:00

U.S. space agency NASA has predicted more violent storms and tornadoes for the United States as the global warming continues to make the earth's climate warm.

The latest forecast was predicted by a new climate model developed at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies by researchers Tony Del Genio, Mao-Sung Yao and Jeff Jonas.

"The strongest thunderstorms, the strongest severe storms and tornadoes are likely to happen more often and be stronger," Associated Press quotes Del Genio as saying.

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Extreme conditions: What's happening to our weather?

Michael McCarthy
The Independent
2007-08-28 21:47:00

Britain is just a few showers away from recording a record wet summer, at the climax of the most remarkable period of broken weather records in the country's history. All of the smashed records are to do with temperature and rainfall - the two aspects of the climate most likely to be intensified by the advent of global warming.

While no specific event can be ascribed directly to climate change, the sequence of events is strongly suggestive of a climate that is now unmistakably altering before our eyes.

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Coastal reef being destroyed by algae off Costa Rica

John McPhaul
Independent Online
2007-08-30 21:14:00

A tropical algae thriving on fertilisers from hotel golf courses and badly treated sewage is killing one of Costa Rica's most important coastal reefs, scientists say.

The green, feather-like algae is spreading along the reefs of Culebra Bay in Costa Rica's north-western Gulf of Papagayo, a popular scuba diving spot and home to a rare species of coral. The algae blocks the sunlight and suffocates the reefs.

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Parts of Costa Rica experience record rains

Amanda Roberson
Tico Times
2007-08-29 21:11:00

Intense rain that destroyed roofs, walls and a dike in the Central Valley and Southern Zone Monday also broke national records, according to National Meteorological Institute (IMN) meteorologist Max Mena.

In the northern suburb of Tibás, about 80 millimeters of rain fell in one hour, at least 10 centimeters more than the national record, he said. The rest of the San José area as well as the Southern Zone also experienced rain so intense it turned some roads into muddy rivers, damaging homes and infrastructure.

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Earthquake shakes Adirondack region; no injuries, damage reported

2007-08-30 21:03:00

A minor earthquake shook the Adirondack Mountains on Wednesday night.

The 3.2 magnitude temblor, one of several to hit the Northeast recently, happened just before midnight. Its epicenter was about eight miles northeast of Tupper Lake in the central Adirondacks, according to the U. S. Geological Survey Web site.


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Volcano Erupts On Ecuador's Galapagos Islands

Preciosa Dumlao
2007-08-30 20:58:00

Ecuador's Geophysics Institute reported a volcano has erupted on the deserted Fernandina Island, Ecuador's Galapagos Island Wednesday.

According to the National Galapagos Park authorities, the eruption started at 4:50 p.m. local time, Tuesday, followed by a 5.2 magnitude volcanic earthquake. The earthquake struck in the Beagle sector of Isabella island on the western flank of the volcano Darwin. No injuries has been recorded.


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Health & Wellness
Why some people are prone to mosquito bites

Nic Fleming
2007-08-30 15:08:00

Scientists have worked out why mosquitoes make a beeline for certain people but appear to leave others almost untouched.

Specific cells in one of the three organs that make up the mosquito's nose are tuned to identify the different chemicals that make up human body odour.

To the mosquito some people's sweat simply smells better than others because of the proportions of the carbon dioxide, octenol and other compounds that make up body odour.

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That buttery aroma from popcorn might be toxic

Andrew Schneider
2007-08-30 15:03:00

Pop Weaver, one of the largest producers of microwave popcorn, is removing a controversial chemical flavoring agent from its products.

The chemical -- diacetyl -- adds buttery taste. Government worker safety investigators have linked exposure to the synthetic butter to the sometimes fatal destruction of the lungs of hundreds of workers in food production and flavoring factories.

And while Pop Weaver has dropped diacetyl from its product, it remains in widespread use in thousands of other consumer products, including the microwave popcorn brands Orville Redenbacher and Act II.

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Flashback: Popcorn flavoring killing Californian workers

Sonya Geis
Washington Post
2007-05-07 09:51:00

SOUTH GATE, Calif. -- She was once in constant motion; her co-workers compared her to a roadrunner because of the way she darted around the workplace. But now Irma Ortiz sits at the edge of her couch, too winded to sweep her patio or walk her son to school without resting. She is slowly suffocating.

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Science & Technology
See a Lie Inside the Brain

Gigi Stone
ABC News
2007-08-30 17:01:00

Harvey Nathan is on a mission to prove he's not a liar.

"It's a gut-wrenching experience, " Nathan said. "It's bad."

In 2003, a deli he owned in Charleston, S.C., burned to the ground. Nathan's insurance company accused him of deliberately setting the fire to collect money on his insurance policy and pressed criminal charges.

A judge dismissed the case, but Nathan says his insurance company still does not believe him and has yet to pay for the damage.

"It's frustrating to go through and know there's nothing you can do," Nathan said.

So Nathan went to a new company based in San Diego called No Lie MRI, which claims to use "the first and only direct detection of lies in human history" by actually mapping the portion of the brain that's used in deception.

©ABC News
The FMRI scan on the right detects a brain processing a false statement; the less colorful brain on the left corresponds to someone in the middle of a truthful statement.

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Secrets Of Red Tide Revealed

Science Daily
2007-08-31 16:04:00

In work that could one day help prevent millions of dollars in economic losses for seaside communities, MIT chemists have demonstrated how tiny marine organisms likely produce the red tide toxin that periodically shuts down U.S. beaches and shellfish beds.

©NIWA; photo by M. Godfrey
The dramatic appearance of a red tide algal bloom at Leigh, near Cape Rodney, New Zealand.

In the Aug. 31 cover story of Science, the MIT team describes an elegant method for synthesizing the lethal components of red tides. The researchers believe their method approximates the synthesis used by algae, a reaction that chemists have tried for decades to replicate, without success.

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Neutron accelerator sets world record

2007-08-31 04:52:00

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - The $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source facility, though still powering up, has established a new mark as the world's most powerful accelerator-based source of neutrons for scientific research.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced Thursday that the SNS's neutron beam reached 183 kilowatts on Aug. 11, surpassing the 163-kilowatt record held by the ISIS facility at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, England.

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Our Haunted Planet
Mysterious noise annoys Anderson, Indiana couple

Justin Schneider
The Herald Bulletin
2007-08-29 15:27:00

To Paul Porcaro, it sounds like the idling engine of a faraway car. His wife, Sadie, hears moving water.

However it is described, "The Sound" can't be found.

For the past two years, the Porcaros have been troubled by a strange and unexplained noise at their home on Anderson's east side.

"We keep the radio on during the day just to drown it out," Paul said. "At night, it's hard to sleep."

©John P. Cleary/The Herald Bulletin
Paul and Sadie Porcaro in their home.

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Flashback: Mystery Humming Plagues Pensioner

2006-01-11 12:00:00

It sounds like a big tumble dryer, but it seems airborne rather than underground. That is the desperate question from New Waltham pensioner Margaret Belton (67), who claims the humming noises which have plagued her for three years are getting worse.

In May 2004, the Telegraph reported how unidentified humming and whizzing sounds were keeping Mrs Belton awake at her Pretymen Crescent home.

Since then a team of experts from the University of Salford have visited the location as part of a national research project into the "hum".

A fascinating report has proved the noises Mrs Belton hears are not just sounds in her head.

In a report by academics, an intermittent sound of between 40 and 60 decibels was recorded at the pensioner's home.

The findings were mirrored in other parts of the country where low frequency sounds were also registered in areas where residents complained of "humming" noises.

However, the cause of the noises remain a mystery.

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Flashback: Mysterious humming driving Aucklanders 'bonkers'

Kate Chapman
New Zealand Herald
2006-10-27 12:00:00

A mysterious humming driving people to despair across Auckland has pricked the ears, and curiosity, of scientists trying to find the source.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Priest offers green confessions

Ruth Gledhill
Times of London
2007-08-31 08:45:00

Forgotten to recycle any newspapers or tin cans recently? Feeling guilty because you neglected to carbon offset your flight to somewhere, anywhere, outside England this summer?

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'Virgin chicken' off the menu in Beijing

2007-08-31 04:47:00

Hungry visitors to next summer's Beijing Olympics won't have to choose between "steamed crap" and "virgin chicken" if Chinese authorities succeed in ridding restaurant menus of mangled English translations.

The Beijing Tourism Bureau has released a list with 2,753 proposed names for dishes and drinks, designed to replace bizarre and sometimes ridiculous translations on menus, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

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