- Signs of the Times Archive for Tue, 04 Sep 2007 -

Sections on today's Signs Page:

SOTT Focus
Let's All Light Up!

Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Signs Of The Times
2007-09-04 01:56:00

Let's Talk...

As Joan Rivers was wont to say.

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

But really, let's have a nice chat about the fact that our whole planet seems to have descended into lunacy!

The other day I noticed an interesting article the SOTT editors picked up:

Brain cells work differently than previously thought: Nicotine helps to spark creativity

which tells us:

Increasingly, studies are beginning to show that complex information processing, and perhaps consciousness itself, may result from coordinated activity among many parts of the brain connected by bundles of long axons. Cognitive problems may occur when these areas don't communicate properly with each other. [...]

Using nicotine, they stimulated the axon to determine how it would affect a signal the brain cell sent to the cortex. Without applying nicotine, about 35 percent of the messages sent by the brain cell reached the cortex. But when nicotine was applied to the axon, the success rate nearly doubled to about 70 percent.

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Signs Economic Commentary for 3 September 2007

Donald Hunt
Signs of the Times
2007-09-03 05:23:00

©2007 Jim Bourg/Reuters
Storm clouds over the Fed

Summary: That the administration has finally taken notice of the housing collapse is a sign both of the seriousness of the problem and that they know the people are becoming aware of it. Had they not tried to pull the wool over our eyes for so long, continually repeating how strong the economy was, they might have been able to prevent the problems. But their backers would make a lot less money by preventing the boom and bust cycle.

I even heard a lead-in for an NPR (National Public Radio in the United States) news story on the issue saying that "it now looks like the housing slump will be worse than predicted." Predicted by whom? This has been the easiest thing in history to predict. It seems NPR took seriously the statements put out over the past several years intended to keep the boom going and to drive people further into debt.

Today is Labor Day in the United States. Yes, I know the rest of the world celebrates it on May 1, but here in the U.S. we don't want to have it on the same day as all those foreign socialists and communists. It is a good time to look at the state of the labor movement.

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Best of the Web
Chinese Boxes, Rubik's Cubes and 3 Card Monte Games

Les Visible
Smoking Mirrors
2007-09-04 12:32:00

What are we supposed to believe? Are we supposed to believe what we are told, or are we supposed to be skeptical; given what history has shown us over the many centuries we have recourse to? What if the prevailing line is that 'this' and 'that' adds up to a certain amount but when we weigh it the numbers are different? What should a reasonable person do when faced with the fact that the numbers don't add up? How do you feel when you can see a lie but are told that the lie is the truth? What would 'you' do? Would you shake your head and go about your business, or would you say something? That's my dilemma and the dilemma of others as well.

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Middle East Madness

Stephen Lendman
SJ Lendman Blog
2007-09-04 09:09:00

Administration rhetoric is heated and the dominant media keep trumpeting it. It signals war with Iran of the "shock and awe" kind - intensive, massive and maybe with nuclear weapons. Plans are one thing, action another, and how things play out, in fact, won't be known until the fullness of time that may not be long in coming. For now, waiting and guessing games continue, and one surmise is as good as another. The more threatening they are, the less likely they'll happen, or at least it can be hoped that's so.

It's not media critic, activist and distinguished professor emeritus Edward Herman's view. He writes "the situation now is even more menacing than we faced in 2002-2003 when the Bush gang was readying us for the invasion (and) occupation of Iraq. There is strong evidence that Bush-Cheney and company are about to attack Iran (and) the groundwork is being set with a flood of propaganda, helped by the media and Democrats." It may be "his last (crazed) hope for immortality" and possible attempt to revive "Republican strength through this classic maneuver of cornered-rat politicians."

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U.S. News
Most Flights Are Late, and It May Only Get Worse

Jeff Bailey
NY Times
2007-09-03 16:23:00

In all, more than 100 domestic flights are officially late - by at least 15 minutes - 70 percent or more of the time. And most of those arrive, on average, more than an hour later than scheduled, the Transportation Department found in an analysis of a year of flights. (A full year's data smoothes out the effect of seasonal miseries caused by summer thunderstorms and winter snow.)

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Chinese military hacked into Pentagon

Demetri Sevastopulo and Richard McGregor
Financial Times
2007-09-03 18:45:00

The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American ­officials.

The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Berezovsky wants "orange revolution" money back from Ukraine

RIA Novosti)
2007-09-03 15:27:00

Boris Berezovsky, the fugitive Russian oligarch, is suing Ukrainian politicians for nearly $23 million he says he provided to fund the country's 2004 "orange revolution," Ukrainian justice authorities said Monday.

The London-based businessman, who has a British passport, has filed a suit against Oleksandr Tretyakov and David Zhvaniya, parliamentarians from the pro-presidential Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc, with the High Court of England and Wales, the Ukrainian Justice Ministry said.

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Swiss convict 4 air controllers over 2002 jet crash

2007-09-04 13:53:00

A Swiss court pronounced four managers at air traffic control firm Skyguide guilty of manslaughter on Tuesday over a 2002 mid-air accident that killed 71 passengers, most of them Russian children.

"The accused is guilty of multiple cases of manslaughter," said Judge Rainer Hohler, reading out each of the four decisions.

On trial were eight Skyguide employees charged with manslaughter for contributing to unusual circumstances that caused the disaster in Swiss-controlled airspace near the southern German town of Ueberlingen.

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Scientology faces criminal charges

2007-09-04 12:13:00

A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.

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Russian strategic bombers run Arctic exercise

2007-09-04 02:59:00

Twelve Russian strategic bombers will take part in an Arctic exercise on Monday and Tuesday including tactical launches of cruise missiles, an air force spokesman said.

He did not specify where the exercise was taking place but said TU-95MC bombers would take off from five air bases stretching from the Volga River city of Engels to Anadyr on the Chukotka Peninsula overlooking the United States.

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Most of London's subway shuts down

2007-09-04 02:06:00

Large swathes of London's sprawling transport network shut down Monday night after maintenance workers walked off the job, arousing commuter anger and drawing warnings the strike will inconvenience millions of Britons.

Around 2,300 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers left their jobs at 6 p.m. to begin a 72-hour strike, in a dispute stemming from the collapse of their employer, maintenance consortium Metronet.

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Vatican Cadet Dies in Apparent Suicide

2007-09-04 02:00:00

A cadet in the Vatican police force was found fatally shot in the head early Monday inside the barracks in what officials said was an apparent suicide over a breakup with a girlfriend.

The incident rekindled memories of the 1998 murder-suicide behind the Vatican walls, in which a 23-year-old Swiss Guard allegedly killed his commander, the commander's wife and then himself over being denied a medal.

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Around the World
South Africa: 'Prophet-rapist' caught at taxi rank

The Star
2007-09-04 13:55:00

Police arrested a man who they believe is a "prophet" who allegedly raped and robbed his female victims after he "drove out their evil spirits," Free State police said on Monday.

Sergeant Malebo Khosana said the "fake" prophet was arrested at Manny's taxi rank in Welkom while he was apparently trying to convince a victim to follow him on Saturday.

"Fortunately he was still enticing the victim to leave the taxi rank," said Khosana.

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Former CIA worker to sell Che Guevara's hair

The Australian
2007-09-04 07:42:00

A FORMER CIA operative plans to auction a lock of Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara's hair.

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Afghan Taliban vow to kidnap, kill more foreigners

Sayed Salahuddin
2007-09-04 02:06:00

Afghanistan's Taliban plan to abduct and kill more nationals from foreign countries whose troops serve under NATO and the U.S. military in the country, a spokesman for the Islamic movement warned on Monday.

The vow comes just days after the Taliban released 19 South Korean hostages after their government struck a deal that critics said sets a dangerous precedent that could spur more kidnappings and make life even more dangerous for foreigners.

Comment: Instead of demonising the Taliban for their course of action, maybe it is time to get the hell out of Dodge, stay out and help economically the Afghan people rebuild what the illegal occupation forces have destroyed.

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U.S. denies N. Korea off terror list

2007-09-04 02:56:00

SYDNEY, Australia - A senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday that North Korea remains on a list of states that sponsor terrorism, dismissing North Korean claims that Washington decided to remove the designation.

"No, they haven't been taken off the terrorism list," Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told Japanese reporters as he arrived in Australia's business capital for a meeting of Pacific Rim nations. A State Department press officer separately confirmed the remarks.

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Jamaica ousts female PM: early results

2007-09-04 02:56:00

Jamaica's main opposition won a narrow election victory Monday, according to preliminary results, but the country's first female prime minister said the race was too close to call and the ruling party would not concede defeat.

The opposition Jamaica Labor Party won 31 of the 60 seats in the House of Representatives, enough to oust Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and end her party's nearly 20-year hold on power in the Caribbean country.

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Big Brother
California Senate blocks mandatory ID implants in employees

Patrick McGreevy
LA Times
2007-08-31 16:49:00

Tackling a dilemma right out of a science fiction novel, the state Senate passed legislation Thursday that would bar employers from requiring workers to have identification devices implanted under their skin.

State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) proposed the measure after at least one company began marketing radio frequency identification devices for use in humans.

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MI5 spied on Orwell for more than a decade

Stephen Bates
The Guardian
2007-09-04 16:12:00

The extent to which Special Branch police monitored George Orwell as a suspected communist has been revealed in papers disclosed for the first time today at the National Archives in Kew.

The documents, which include details of surveillance between the 1920s and 60s, indicate not only the wide range of groups and individuals being watched by police but also officers' spectacular ability to misjudge what they saw. The obtuseness of some exasperated their superiors.

©Vernon Richards Estate

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New generation of happy and compliant sheeple: Happiness lessons for all UK pupils

Alexandra Frean
The Times
2007-09-04 12:10:00

Feeling down today? OK, let's talk about how you feel and start again.

With this touchy-feely approach, the Government is hoping to bring about a revolution in the classroom.

Today Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, will announce that lessons in happiness, wellbeing and good manners are to be introduced in all state secondary schools.

The initiative follows an extensive pilot of a programme called Seal (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) in primary schools, which has been found to boost both academic performance and discipline by helping children to better understand their emotions.

The adoption of "wellbeing" classes by state schools suggests that emotional intelligence - a term coined in 1995 by psychologists in Britain - has now become entrenched firmly in the educational mainstream.

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Lock 'em up policy: UK parents face £100 fine if banned pupils are found on the streets

Laura Clark
Daily Mail
2007-09-04 13:10:00

Parents could be fined £100 if their children are caught outdoors after they have been either expelled or e outlined today by Schools Secretary Ed Balls as part of a package of measures aimed at curbing classroom yobs. suspended from school.

Under laws coming into force this month, they could be issued with a penalty notice if they fail to keep their children indoors.

And failure to pay could result in the imposition of a £1,000 fine or a community sentence.

The move follows evidence that youngsters who are allowed to roam the streets are more likely to drift into crime.

Heads will also be given new powers to apply for parenting orders, which can lead to £1,000 fines on those who fail to control young louts.

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Water cannons, city lockdown: Welcome to Apec

2007-09-04 13:26:00

The security fence is in place. The warning systems are installed. The water cannon is loaded.

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Axis of Evil
Leaked Red Cross report sets up Bush team for international war-crimes trial

Nat Hentoff
Village Voice
2007-09-04 08:15:00

If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament - as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin's Press) and Charlie Savage's just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown).

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Fake Photos Helped Lead US to War in Iraq

2007-09-04 07:28:00

Add faked photos to the list of lies told by the Bush­Cheney Administration before its invasion of Iraq.

In a town hall meeting in Bloomsburg, Pa. this week, Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a 12-term congressman, said that shortly before Congress was scheduled to vote on authorizing military force against Iraq, top officials of the CIA showed select members of Congress three photographs it alleged were Iraqi Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones. Kanjorski said he was told that the drones were capable of carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical agents, and could strike 1,000 miles inland of east coast or west coast cities.

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A Look at Bush's Iran War Plans

2007-09-04 07:15:00

The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the Pentagon has plans for three days of massive air strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran. Last week, Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, told a meeting of The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal, that the military did not intend to carry out "pinprick strikes" against Iranian nuclear facilities. He said, "They're about taking out the entire Iranian military."

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Bush may invoke 'state secrets' to squelch suit against Swift

Eric Lichtblau
International Herald Tribune
2007-09-04 07:03:00

The Bush administration is signaling that it plans to turn once again to a favorite legal tool known as the "state secrets" privilege to try to shut down a lawsuit brought against a Belgium banking cooperative that secretly supplied millions of private financial records to the U.S. government, court documents show.

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Who Put the Lie in Lieberman?

Simon Floth
2007-09-03 18:04:00

On July 11 this year congress loaded and pointed a gun at Iran in the form of Lieberman's amendment to the Defense Authorization act (S.AMDT.2073, amending H.R.1585 and S.AMDT.2011). That was more than six weeks ago, yet the most pivotal feature of the amendment, and indeed of history in the making, has gone entirely unremarked: It is a demonstrable non-sequitur.

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Middle East Madness
US-Iranian 'spy' released, leaves for Washington

Najmeh Bozorgmehr
Financial Times
2007-09-03 15:30:00

Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American dual national citizen who was arrested on charges of espionage and detained for almost four months, has left Tehran for Washington it was revealed on Monday.

Her arrest led to the intervention of US President George W. Bush who called in June for her release and that of three other dual citizens detained on similar charges. It also added to the already tense relations between Tehran and Washington.

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1.65 million Israelis living below poverty line

Ruth Sinai
2007-09-04 14:20:00

Some 1.65 million Israelis live under the poverty line, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Insurance Institute (NII).

The report, which examines data from 2006, shows a very slight decrease in poverty rates in the past year, as the percentage of families living under the poverty line dropped from 20.6 percent in 2005 to 20 percent. The total percentage of Israelis who live under the poverty line dropped from 24.7 percent to 24.5.

However, the percentage of children living under the poverty line has grown - from 35.2 percent in 2005 to 35.8 percent.

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Israeli Cabinet approves assassinations of Palestinian leaders

2007-09-04 09:34:00

Israeli leadership has given the green light to the military forces to resume assassinations of leaders of Palestinian factions responsible for launching missiles from Gaza Strip against Israeli settlements, Israel radio said on Tuesday.

"The assassinations are part of the preventive war launched by Israel on who fires the rockets," the radio said.

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Israeli court orders re-route of Apartheid wall

2007-09-04 09:10:00

Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the state to re-route a section of its West Bank barrier at a village that has become a potent symbol of Palestinian opposition to the construction.

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Flashback: International Court of Justice rules against Israeli barrier; Israel ignores ruling

2004-07-09 09:12:00

The International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's West Bank barrier is illegal and construction of it should be stopped immediately.

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Iran's Ahmadinejad has 'proof' US won't attack

2007-09-03 08:22:00

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sought to justify his confidence the United States will not attack Iran, saying the proof comes from his mathematical skills as an engineer and faith in God, the press reported on Monday.

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The Loan Gunmen
Wall Street firm hides impact of sub-prime mortgage meltdown via accounting

Cesar Uco
2007-09-04 16:28:00

The August 3 edition of Asset Back Alert (www.ABAlert.com) (a weekly report that goes out to major finances houses and investors willing to pay nearly $2,500 for an annual subscription) carries an article titled "Merrill Ducks Asset Markdowns, But How?" The article raises serious questions about the dubious accounting measures taken by Wall Street giant Merrill Lynch to avoid writing down billions of dollars in losses resulting from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.

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Markets Brace for Seismic September

New York Post
2007-09-04 12:07:00

The Labor Day weekend is over, the kids are back in school and Wall Street traders have returned to their desks, bracing themselves for a bumpy ride.

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House prices in some areas may fall as much as 50% - Housing contraction threatens a broader recession

Finfacts Ireland
2007-09-04 08:39:00

US homes may lose as much as half their value in some US cities as the housing bust deepens, according to Yale University professor Robert Shiller. Meanwhile, Martin Feldstein of Harvard University says that experience suggests that the dramatic decline in residential construction provides an early warning of a coming recession. The likelihood of a recession is increased by what is happening in credit markets and in mortgage borrowing. Feldstein says that most of these forces are inadequately captured by the formal macroeconomic models used by the Federal Reserve and other macro forecasters.

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Credit turmoil 'has hallmarks of bank run'

Krishna Guha
Financial Times
2007-09-04 08:23:00

The current turmoil in the financial markets has all the characteristics of a classic banking crisis, but one that is taking place outside the traditional banking sector, Axel Weber, president of the Bundesbank, said at the weekend.

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Bush's Bogus Bailout: Introduction to Tony Soprano Economics 101

Carolyn Baker
2007-09-04 07:55:00

We have only begun to see the reverberations of the mortgage meltdown. They will be as sweeping and mindboggling as global warming or an earthquake measuring 10 on the Richter scale.

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The Living Planet
Tens of thousands displaced by Ethiopia floods

Jeremy Clarke
2007-09-04 11:12:00

Widespread flooding across Ethiopia is affecting more than 100,000 people, with the number of those driven from their homes topping 36,000 and rising, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Authorities fear further flooding is imminent and the outbreak of waterborne disease likely.

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Korea: Global Warming Blamed for Record Tropical Nights

2007-09-04 17:40:00

Children splash in a fountain in front of the Kim Dae-jung Convention Center in Gwangju at the end of July when the rainy season was over and the heat wave beginning.

The nation saw more sleepless "tropical nights" this summer than ever, when nighttime temperatures stayed above 25 degrees Celsius. There were twice as many of them this summer as in the average year. In August alone, the frequency of tropical nights was four times higher than ever before. Meteorologists cite global warming and the "heat island" effect as the main culprits.

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Fewer copperheads at mountaintop meet

Julie Stewart
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
2007-09-03 15:19:00

The mysterious nighttime meetings of snakes on an Ozark hilltop have taken a puzzling new turn.

For the past two summers, dozens of Southern copperhead snakes have appeared beneath a cedar tree at Chuck Miller's rugged mountaintop home in Marion County. Like clockwork, the snakes arrived suddenly around 8 p. m., stayed for an hour or so, and then disappeared.

But things are different this summer. Instead of making their first appearance in mid-July, as they did in 2005 and 2006, the snakes began showing up in August. And their numbers are down significantly.

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After devastating fires, heavy rains in Greece now raise fears of flooding

2007-09-03 15:14:00

A massive cleanup, reconstruction and anti-flood effort was being launched Monday for fire-stricken parts of southern Greece as one fire front continued to burn while others abated, officials said.

After months of successive heat waves, heavy rainstorms flooded parts of northern Greece on Sunday. Rain and cooler weather were expected to move south early this week, helping firefighters extinguish any remaining blazes and prevent the possibility of smoldering fires rekindling. However, officials also fear that heavy rains could hamper relief efforts and lead to flooding.

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California Heat Wave Causes Power Shortages, Extreme Weather Grips State

Associated Press
2007-09-04 13:58:00

With temperatures expected to be well above 100 degrees again Sunday, California officials were appealing to residents to turn down their air conditioners and hold off on using major appliances until after dark.

The blistering heat wave blanketing California continued to place tremendous strain on the power grid, as some 2,600 homes and businesses in Los Angeles remained without power Saturday after overloaded circuits knocked out power to thousands last week.

Around the state, dozens of cooling centers have been opened in parks, libraries, senior centers and county fairgrounds.

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Health & Wellness
World facing 'arsenic timebomb'

Richard Black
BBC News
2007-08-30 16:02:00

About 140 million people, mainly in developing countries, are being poisoned by arsenic in their drinking water, researchers believe.

Speaking at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) annual meeting in London, scientists said this will lead to higher rates of cancer in the future.

South and East Asia account for more than half of the known cases globally.

Eating large amounts of rice grown in affected areas could also be a health risk, scientists said.

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U.S. nuclear program afflicted at least 36,500 Americans

Ann Imse
Rocky Mountain News
2007-08-31 15:34:00

The U.S. nuclear weapons program has sickened 36,500 Americans and killed more than 4,000, the Rocky Mountain News has determined from government figures.

Those numbers reflect only people who have been approved for government compensation. They include people who mined uranium, built bombs and breathed dust from bomb tests.

Many of the bomb-builders, such as those at the Rocky Flats plant near Denver, have never applied for compensation or were rejected because they could not prove their work caused their illnesses. Congressional hearings are in the works to review allegations of unfairness and delays in the program for weapons workers.

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Study: Humans' DNA Not Quite So Similar

Malcolm Ritter, AP
2007-09-04 15:34:00

People are less alike than scientists had thought when it comes to the billions of building blocks that make up each individual's DNA, according to a new analysis.

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Study links attention problems to early TV viewing

Andrew Stern
2007-09-04 14:08:00

Watching television more than two hours a day early in life can lead to attention problems later in adolescence, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The roughly 40 percent increase in attention problems among heavy TV viewers was observed in both boys and girls, and was independent of whether a diagnosis of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder was made prior to adolescence.

The link was established by a long-term study of the habits and behaviors of more than 1,000 children born in Dunedin, New Zealand, between April 1972 and March 1973.

The children aged 5 to 11 watched an average of 2.05 hours of weekday television. From age 13 to 15, time spent in front of the tube rose to an average of 3.1 hours a day.

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Mentally ill 'suffering neglect'

2007-09-04 14:03:00

Mentally ill people in the developing world are being badly neglected, according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal.

The authors say mental illness makes up about 14% of global disease, more than cancer or heart disease.

Up to 800,000 people commit suicide each year, mostly in poorer countries.

Despite this, the authors say, 90% of sufferers in developing countries receive no care - and in some cases are chained to trees or kept in cages.

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