- Signs of the Times Archive for Fri, 14 Sep 2007 -

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SOTT Focus

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Best of the Web
911 Commission Chair Lee Hamilton claims he doesn't know what the hell happened that day

Evan Solomon
2007-09-13 21:59:00

From an interview published August 21, 2006:

Solomon: Now, one of the stipulations, you write in the book, one of the ways that you thought that this ought to be successful, this report, the Commission Report, is on page 23, you said if the American people would accept the results as authoritative, and the recommendations.

And when I measure that against a Zogby poll done in May, that says now 42% of Americans say that "the U.S. government, and its 9/11 Commission, concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts the official explanation of September 11th, saying there's a cover-up" - 42%, Mr. Hamilton - what does that say to you about the efficacy of the Commission's report?

Hamilton: Well, it's dispiriting, it's an unusually high number, but if you look at polls judging government reports in the past - the Warren Commission, the reports on Kennedy assassination, even the reports on Abraham Lincoln's assassination - you find a very high level of people who are skeptical. And you have that in this case.

When you conduct a major investigation, you cannot possibly answer every question, you just do the best you can. But for every question you leave unanswered, you create an opening to a conspiracy theory, and a good many of them have popped up here.

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U.S. News
Tennessee executes child killer in electric chair

2007-09-14 07:14:00

Tennessee used its electric chair for the first time in 47 years on Wednesday to execute a man who killed his three sons and their half-sister.

Daryl Holton, 45, was pronounced dead at 2:25 a.m. EDT at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution after receiving two jolts of electricity, prison authorities said.

His attorney, David Raybin, said after the execution that Holton was now "free of the demons that haunted him."

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Search for Fossett could solve decades-old mysteries

2007-09-14 01:51:00

The hunt for missing aviator Steve Fossett in the rugged terrain of western Nevada could solve some much older mysteries.

Searchers have turned up half a dozen previously undiscovered plane crash sites, and they believe there may be as many as 200 such sites around the Sierra Nevada range, where soaring mountain peaks, deep ravines, sagebrush and trees provide natural camouflage for downed planes.

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Small plane crash in Washington state kills 3

Associated Press
2007-09-14 01:44:00

BURLINGTON, Wash. - A small plane registered to a Montana oil-and-gas exploration company crashed Thursday, killing all three people aboard, officials said.

The plane, an A-36 Beechcraft Bonanza, was traveling from Havre, Mont., and was approaching Skagit Regional Airport when it dropped off the radar around 11 a.m., officials said.

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Hamid Hayat sentenced for 24 years in terrorism case

Eric Bailey
LA Times
2007-09-11 23:11:00

A federal judge here Monday sentenced Hamid Hayat to 24 years in prison for attending a terrorism training camp in Pakistan, returning to the U.S. to commit violent jihad and then lying about it to the FBI.

U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell's ruling comes more than two years after FBI agents arrested Hayat, spawning a case prosecutors say has helped discourage would-be terrorists but that Muslim activists call a gross injustice against an innocent man.

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Update: Cops Have Suspect in Hanging of Girl, 6

By Paul J. Weber
Associated Press
2007-09-13 21:40:00

©AP Photo/Navarro County Sheriff's Department
Kevin Wayne Anders is primary suspect.

CORSICANA, Texas - A 6-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted was found hanged inside her family's garage, and authorities on Thursday described her mother's boyfriend as the primary suspect.

The boyfriend was arrested Wednesday on a charge of possession of child pornography and remained in the Navarro County Jail on Thursday.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
The psychopathic businesswoman and her middle-class paedophile ring

Sean O'Neill
The Times
2007-09-14 14:05:00

Monica McCanch presented a well-dressed face of confident respectability to the world. She worked for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, in Kent before taking redundancy last year for a new life in Jamaica, where she planned to invest in eco-tourism.

She told friends that she was making a fresh start after the break-up of her 29-year marriage to Norman McCanch, a well-regarded naturalist. But she was also trying to leave behind the disturbing secret of her involvement in a paedophile ring that subjected a number of children to repeated abuse and posted videos of their torment on the internet.

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Franco-German split emerges on Iran sanctions

Louis Charbonneau and Francois Murphy
2007-09-14 13:53:00

BERLIN/PARIS - A split has emerged in the coalition of Western powers pressuring Iran to freeze its nuclear enrichment program, as France backs U.S. calls for a new round of sanctions while Germany urges restraint.

The United States, Germany, France and Britain have led a diplomatic drive to punish Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program. They succeeded in persuading reluctant Russia and China to back two U.N. sanctions resolutions.

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British jets again intercept Russian bombers

2007-09-14 13:34:00

Norwegian and British fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Russian bombers over the north Atlantic, the latest in a series of such incidents, Norway's military command said Friday.

Two Russian Tupolev-160 bombers or "Blackjacks" were detected by the NATO allies flying along the Norwegian coast before passing by northern Scotland, a military spokesman told AFP.

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Shocking! Chatroom users 'goaded man in web suicide'

Paul Stokes
2007-09-14 08:37:00

A coroner yesterday called for "insult chatrooms" to be regulated after members of one site encouraged a man to commit suicide while dozens watched live over the internet.

Kevin Whitrick, 42, tied an electrical cord around a ceiling joist and wrapped one end around his neck before hanging himself.

He is believed to be the first person in Britain to take his life publicly on the internet.

Detectives discovered that some chatroom users had been "egging on" Mr Whitrick and thought he was joking when he said he was going to kill himself.

Between 40 and 60 people were logged on to the site, called Kel's Friendly Insult Chatroom for Everyone, at the time Mr Whitrick died on March 21, but only one alerted police.

Officers forced their way into Mr Whitrick's flat in Wellington, Shropshire, but despite attempts at resuscitation he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Russia: Suspected Bitsa serial killer confesses to murders

2007-09-14 07:32:00

Suspected serial killer Alexander Pichushkin, accused of 52 murders, fully admitted his guilt in court, his lawyer Pavel Ivannikov told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

"Pichushkin fully admits his guilt, but does not repent," Ivannikov said.

There will be no special procedure at the trail, as the punishment envisioned for these crimes exceeds more than ten years in jail.

On Thursday, the Moscow City Court selected 12 jurors and another six alternate jurors from 44 candidates.

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Fire devastated Greek villagers turn their back on election

2007-09-14 00:53:00

The smell of smoke still impregnates the air around Zacharo where dozens died in forest fires in August and the residents now have little time for politics ahead of Sunday's general election.

Of all the areas on the Peloponnese peninsula south of Athens, which bore the brunt of the two weeks of wildfires, Zacharo was worst hit.

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Around the World
Without conscience: Naomi Campbell's casino venture may put rare turtles in the soup

Jonathan Claytonm
The Times
2007-09-14 07:06:00

The supermodel Naomi Campbell has shocked conservationists over plans for a hotel and casino complex on a coastal sanctuary for turtles in Kenya.

Protesters say that the scheme in the Indian Ocean resort town of Malindi, put forward by the supermodel and her former boyfriend Flavio Briatore, will wreck years of work to save endangered marine life.

Three species, the green turtle, the hawksbill and the olive ridley, come ashore in Malindi and nearby Watamu Bay to nest and lay their eggs. Two other species, the leatherhead and loggerhead turtles, migrate through Kenyan waters en route from South Africa to the Maldives and Seychelles.

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Tuareg rebels attack US plane as insurgency in Mali intensifies

Claire Soares
The Independent
2007-09-14 02:22:00

Tuareg rebels opened fire on a United States military aircraft that was yesterday flying in supplies for beleaguered Malian troops, pinned down on the fringes of the Sahara Desert.

Mali's forces have been battling a Tuareg insurgency in the north of the country in recent weeks after a spate of raids and ambushes. The United States, worried that West Africa might become a haven for al-Qa'ida and other Islamic militant groups, has been sending military experts across the lawless unpoliced deserts of the Sahara for several years to provide counter-terrorism training but this is believed to be the first time the US military has lent a helping hand in a domestic operation.

Comment: The US is using the bogus Al-qaeda to increase their global military presence around the world. And it is all in the name of helping freedom and democracy.

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USAID in Bolivia and Venezuela: The Silent Subversion

Eva Golinger
2007-09-14 02:06:00

The United States government has almost perfected a method of intervention that is able to penetrate and infiltrate all sectors of civil society in a country which it deems to be of economic and strategic interest. In the case of Venezuela, this strategy began to take form in 2002, with the increase in financing of sectors of the opposition via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the opening of an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) of USAID in Caracas. These efforts were able to achieve the consolidation of an opposition movement during those moments, which, despite the failure of the coup d'etat, was able to cause severe damage to the oil industry and the national economy via economic sabotage and a "stoppage" by managers and business owners.

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Pakistan blast hits army unit, leaves 15 dead

Syed Mohsin Naqvi
2007-09-14 01:41:00

Fifteen soldiers from a Pakistani army unit died in a bombing at their mess hall Thursday, a Pakistani intelligence source said.

The Associated Press said two security officials reported the attack was the work of a suicide bomber.

Comment: So a couple of unnamed security officials says it was a suicide attack. It is possible.

It is also possible that President Musharraf who is fighting for political survival and his Western backers are doing their bit behind the scenes, so that he can cancel the upcoming elections and declare martial law.

Who benefits?

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UN General Assembly backs indigenous peoples' rights

2007-09-14 01:26:00

The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a non-binding declaration upholding the human, land and resources rights of the world's 370 million indigenous people, brushing off opposition from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

The vote in the assembly was 143 in favor and four against. Eleven countries, including Russia and Colombia, abstained.

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US, China to reward North Korea with fuel aid after bogus intelligence

2007-09-14 00:53:00

The United States and China are preparing to provide tens of millions of dollars in fuel aid to North Korea as it moves to declare and disable its nuclear weapons program, US officials said Thursday.

The planned aid came as US news reports quoting intelligence sources suggested that North Korea could be helping Syria build a nuclear weapons program, raising concerns over Pyongyang's proliferation record.

Comment: The propaganda effort is building for an excuse to attack Syria.

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Big Brother

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Axis of Evil

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Middle East Madness
Layla Anwar: On the Edge and Unwanted...

Layla Anwar
An Arab Woman Blues
2007-09-13 15:51:00

Iraqi female artist, Sawsan Al Sarraf. "Immigration"

Raouf finally made it to Syria. For those of you who do not know Raouf's story, please read a Postcard from Iraq.

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Iraq to Privatize Electricity

Bend Lando
2007-09-10 13:50:00

Two of Iraq's many needs right now are more electricity and more investment. A law being drafted could satisfy both, paving the way for foreign and domestic private companies to build power plants, a step toward fully privatizing the electricity sector.

"It should be short coming," a senior U.S. official working in Baghdad on Iraq's electricity sector told United Press International on condition of anonymity on the sidelines of an Iraq energy conference.

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Palestinian authorities accuse Hamas of stashing arms in mosque

RIA Novosti
2007-09-14 07:59:00

Palestinian security agencies loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas claim to have discovered an arms stockpile in a mosque in the West Bank city of Nablus, local media reported on Thursday.

Security officials said the weapons had been stashed in the holy building by Islamist militant group Hamas, which was ousted from the governing coalition following its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.

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Jordan Valley: Twilight Zone - 'It's better in Darfur'

Gideon Levy
2007-09-13 22:49:00

Who said Israel doesn't evacuate illegal outposts? Twice the Civil Administration bulldozed the tent encampment of shepherds in the northern Jordan Valley.

A cloud of dust rose up, covering the desert landscape. A white jeep and a white truck descended from the hills - the auxiliary convoy of the International Red Cross is approaching. A Darfur-like sight with Swiss license plates. They have brought tents, blankets, canned food and household utensils, just like those brought to Darfur by similar convoys.

'It's better in Darfur. The whole world is interested in Darfur, and nobody is interested in us,' sighs elderly shepherd Abdul Rahim Basharat (Abu Saker). This is the second time the Red Cross has come to him in recent days. The second time the Civil Administration, which upholds the law, has been seen here, in the middle of nowhere, bulldozing the miserable tent camps of the shepherds and destroying them totally.

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Palestinian bomber unlikely star of Israeli propaganda film

Allyn Fisher-Ilan
2007-09-13 22:12:00

A Palestinian suicide bomber is the unlikely star of a new Israeli film billed by its director as an effort to destroy prejudices that fuel conflict in the Middle East.

Scheduled to be screened in early 2008, the film stands to make cinematic history in the Jewish state, where movie-makers tend to shy away from treating the controversy of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Its makers say that by personalizing the bomber -- named Tarek and portrayed as coming from the West Bank town of Tulkarm -- they hope to show Israelis the complex motives behind many such attacks in the Jewish state.

Comment: The complex motives are the Mossad and Israeli government spreading the The Myth Of The Palestinian Suicide Bomber to justify the genocide of the Palestinian people.

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The Crocker School of Kooky Iraqi Economics

Brian Beutler
The Media Consortium
2007-09-13 18:02:00

In his testimony to the House and Senate, even Ambassador Ryan Crocker's limited claims of economic success in Iraq were laughable

The long-anticipated joint congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker is now history, and the event's few fireworks have by now been widely documented. Of them, perhaps the most noted was the men's relative dispositions - one cavalier, the other more so.

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The Loan Gunmen
Commercial Real Estate Abyss

Mike Shedlock
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis
2007-09-14 14:08:00

So here we are, right near the tip top in commercial real estate insanity where no price was too high to pay for a building on the silly belief that property values would continually rise and lease prices right along with them. Few bother to note that commercial real estate is now staring over the abyss. Given how rapidly investor psychology is changing in this sector, it won't take much now to send it over the edge.

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British bank Northern Rock hit by credit problems, clients withdraw savings

2007-09-14 10:02:00

Shares in British bank Northern Rock plunged by a quarter on Friday as clients rushed to withdraw their savings following an emergency bailout of the lender by the Bank of England.

The central bank came to the rescue of Britain's fifth-biggest home loan provider, which is facing severe difficulties raising cash on money markets amid the ongoing global credit squeeze.

From London to Edinburgh, panicking customers queued outside Northern Rock branches to get hold of their savings, despite government ministers and Bank of England (BoE) officials appealing for calm.

Customers queue to enter a Northern Rock branch in Bromley.

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Consumers turn to plastic as home loans slow

Nancy Leinfuss and Emily Kaiser
2007-09-11 22:51:00

Consumers are carrying a record $907 billion in credit card debt, and that looks likely to jump now that the housing slump has blunted another popular financing tool -- home equity loans.

Americans cashed out hundreds of billions of dollars in home equity as credit came cheap in a five-year housing boom that ended about 18 months ago.

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Central banks split over credit squeeze

Chris Giles and Gillian Tett
Financial Times
2007-09-12 22:44:00

A clear divide between the world's leading central banks over how best to respond to the credit squeeze emerged on Wednesday after Mervyn King, Bank of England governor, warned that efforts by his counterparts to shore up the financial system could sow "the seeds of a future financial crisis".

In a trenchant defence of the Bank's refusal to address the abnormally high interest rates for longer-term lending between banks, Mr King questioned the effectiveness of the kind of measures taken by the European Central Bank and said their approach could encourage "excessive risk-taking".

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Greenspan says didn't see subprime storm brewing

Mark Felsenthal
2007-09-13 21:31:00

WASHINGTON - Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he was late to see the storm gathering around mortgage lending practices and commended his successor Ben Bernanke's handling of the crisis, saying he would likely be responding in a similar fashion.

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The Living Planet
Indonesia quake may have affected mud volcano in East Java

The Age
2007-09-14 13:36:00

Indonesia's powerful earthquake may have affected the devastating mudflow in East Java.

The Sidoarjo Mudflow Management Board today said the massive crater had been spurting more mud than normal in recent days.

Nine villages - including thousands of homes, factories and rice paddy fields - have been buried by the mud, which started flowing from the site of a gas exploration well during drilling 3km underground more than a year ago.

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Rains spark flooding in southern Spain - one dies, two go missing

2007-09-14 13:21:00

Heavy rains have sparked flooding in southern Spain, where currents swept away the body of an elderly man and the car of two people who remained missing, emergency services said Friday.

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Around 150 large forest fires raging across Russia

RIA Novosti
2007-09-13 07:57:00

Almost 9,000 hectares (22,260 acres) of Russia's forests are ablaze, with 150 large-scale fires continuing to rage across the country, an emergencies situation ministry spokesman said.

"Since last Wednesday, 207 fires have been registered, 58 of which have been put out, but 149 are still blazing across an 8,860-hectare (21,895-acre) area," the press spokesman said.

The worst affected areas are in East Siberia, with the Republics of Buryatia and Tyva operating under a state of emergency.

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Indonesia hit by more than 40 earthquakes in 24 hours

RIA Novosti
2007-09-13 07:18:00

A total of 41 earthquakes with magnitude of over 4.5 on the Richter scale have hit Indonesia in the last 24 hours, the country's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said Thursday.

The most serious of these was an 8.4-magnitude quake with an epicenter off the western coast of the island of Sumatra on September 12. The quake caused the deaths of at least nine people.

One of Sumatra's provinces, Bengkulu, has the dubious distinction of being the world record holder for earthquake activity, with over 694 tremors with magnitude of 4.6 or higher in the first five months of last year.

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Alaskans flee village under flood threat

Jeannette J. Lee
Associated Press
2007-09-14 01:42:00

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - More than half the residents of an isolated Arctic village were evacuated as storm surges threatened to flood their slender barrier island Thursday, the latest chapter in their losing battle against the sea.

With no road system within hundreds of miles of Kivalina, about 100 people, mostly seniors and children, boarded small propeller planes to the regional hub city of Kotzebue. More than 100 others embarked on a grueling 70-mile nighttime journey by boat, all-terrain vehicle and bus to shelter at the mountain headquarters of a zinc mine.

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Tropical Storm Ingrid forms in Atlantic

2007-09-14 01:25:00

Tropical Storm Ingrid, the ninth Atlantic storm of the year, formed on Thursday in the Atlantic Ocean east of the Caribbean islands, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, located about 840 miles east of the lesser Antilles, was headed in the general direction of the northeastern Caribbean but was days from having any impact on land.

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Health & Wellness
And they only blame smoking! Diesel Exhaust May Increase Risk In Patients With Heart Disease

Science Daily
2007-09-14 13:29:00

Air pollution could be putting patients with heart disease at risk by affecting blood vessels and clotting, researchers warn.

A study by the University of Edinburgh and Umeå University measured the effects of diesel exhaust on heart and blood vessel function in men who have previously experienced a heart attack.

The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that inhalation of diesel exhaust caused changes in the heart's electrical activity, suggesting that air pollution reduces the amount of oxygen available to the heart during exercise.

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Some 22,580 chickens die of bird flu in East Java, Indonesia

2007-09-14 13:26:00

Around 22,580 chickens had died of bird flu (Avian Influenza - AI) virus in Indonesia's East Java Province from January to September 2007, a local official said.

The AI virus-infected chickens were mostly from back-yard farming, Antara news agency quoted Bambang Hermawan of the East Java provincial animal husbandry service as saying on Friday in Surabaya, capital of East Java province.

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Ridiculous! Doctors in UK deny surgery on ankle to longtime smoker

2007-09-14 10:08:00

Doctors in Britain say they won't operate on a 57-year-old builder's broken ankle because he is a smoker.

Hospital officials say John Nuttall has to give up his 20 cigarette-a-day habit to be eligible for an operation, The (London) Daily Mail said Thursday.

Nuttall, who broke his ankle in three places in 2005, has smoked for 40 years.

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Cephalon warns doctors over pain drug deaths

Kim Dixon and Toni Clarke
2007-09-14 08:30:00

Cephalon Inc has warned doctors about deaths linked to improper use of its cancer pain drug Fentora, U.S. drug regulators said on Thursday, sending the company's shares down 5 percent.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted on its Web site Cephalon's letter to doctors dated September 10, warning of deaths and serious side effects in patients treated with the pain killer.

Cephalon spokeswoman Candace Steele said the company has received reports of three deaths related to inappropriate prescribing of the drug. The deaths occurred during the summer and are most likely due to respiratory failure, she said.

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Oohs and aahs: Vowel sounds affect our perceptions of products

University of Chicago Press Journals
2007-09-12 07:47:00

Would you drive a SUV called a Himmer" Phonetic symbolism refers to the notion that the sounds of words, apart from their assigned definition, convey meaning. A fascinating forthcoming paper from the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research applies this theory to product names. The researchers find that product names with vowel sounds that convey positive attributes about the product are deemed more favorable by consumers.

Front vowel sounds are ones that are made with the tongue forward in the mouth, such as the sound of the letter "I" in mill. Back vowel sounds are ones that are made with the tongue farther back in the mouth, such as the "a" sound in mall. Numerous prior studies have shown that the two types of vowel sounds tend to be associated with different concepts that are strikingly uniform, even across cultures. Front vowel sounds convey small, fast, or sharp characteristics, while back vowel sounds convey large, slow, or dull characteristics.

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Propaganda Warning! Expert panel, funded by a major maker of aspartame, says, 'Aspartame is safe'

Daniel J. DeNoon
2007-09-14 04:23:00

An expert panel says it's confident there's no health risk from aspartame -- the artificial sweetener used in thousands of food products.

"We conclude aspartame is very safe," panel coordinator Bernadene Magnuson, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland, said at a news conference.

Do the panel findings lay to rest all concerns over aspartame safety?

"We hope so," panel chairman William J. Waddell, MD, professor and chair emeritus of toxicology at the University of Louisville, said at the news conference.

Not so, says Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

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Science & Technology
Study shows how algae survive salty water

2007-09-13 13:46:00

Israeli scientists have discovered how the unicellular alga Dunaliella salina proliferates in extremely salty environments.

The researchers said their identification of the unique proteins involved in the process might provide methods to help crop plants resist the progressive accumulation of salt in soil -- a major limitation for agricultural productivity worldwide.

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Salmon spawn baby trout in experiment

Lauran Neergaard
2007-09-14 13:41:00

Papa salmon plus mama salmon equals ... baby trout? Japanese researchers put a new spin on surrogate parenting as they engineered one fish species to produce another, in a quest to preserve endangered fish.

Idaho scientists begin the next big step next month, trying to produce a type of salmon highly endangered in that state - the sockeye - this time using more plentiful trout as surrogate parents.

Graphic shows surrogate broodstocking technique used to produce a rainbow trout from sterile salmon.

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Saturn's Moon Iapetus Is the Yin-and-Yang of the Solar System

2007-09-14 08:16:00

Scientists on the Cassini mission to Saturn are poring through hundreds of images returned from the Sept. 10 flyby of Saturn's two-toned moon Iapetus. Pictures returned late Tuesday and early Wednesday show the moon's yin and yang--a white hemisphere resembling snow, and the other as black as tar.

Images show a surface that is heavily cratered, along with the mountain ridge that runs along the moon's equator. Many of the close-up observations focused on studying the strange 20-kilometer high (12 mile) mountain ridge that gives the moon a walnut-shaped appearance.

©NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Cassini surveys a bright landscape coated by dark material on Iapetus. This image shows terrain in the transition region between the moon's dark leading hemisphere and its bright trailing hemisphere.

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Mars Chronicles: The mysterious ridges at the mouth of Tiu Valles

2007-09-12 08:02:00

These images taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board Mars Express show the mouth of the Tiu Valles channel system on the red planet.

The pictures were taken in orbit 3103 on 10 June 2006 with a ground resolution of approximately 16 metres per pixel.

©ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
Tiu Valles

The mouth of Tiu Valles is an estuary-like landform. On Earth, an estuary is the tidal mouth of a river valley, or the end that meets the sea and fresh water comes into contact with seawater. In such an area, tidal effects are evident.

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Shrinking Kilogram Bewilders Physicists

Jamey Keaten
Associated Press
2007-09-14 07:42:00

A kilogram just isn't what it used to be. The 118-year-old cylinder that is the international prototype for the metric mass, kept tightly under lock and key outside Paris, is mysteriously losing weight - if ever so slightly.

Physicist Richard Davis of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres, southwest of Paris, says the reference kilo appears to have lost 50 micrograms compared with the average of dozens of copies.

"The mystery is that they were all made of the same material, and many were made at the same time and kept under the same conditions, and yet the masses among them are slowly drifting apart," he said. "We don't really have a good hypothesis for it."

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Moon race escalating! Japan's lunar "princess" shoots for the moon

Teruaki Ueno
2007-09-14 01:32:00

Japan launched its first lunar probe on Friday, nicknamed Kaguya after a fairy-tale princess, in the latest move in a new race with China, India and the United States to explore the moon.

The rocket carrying the three-metric ton orbiter took off into blue skies, leaving a huge trail of vapor over the tiny island of Tanegashima, about 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo, at 10:31 a.m. (9:31 p.m. EDT) as it headed out over the Pacific Ocean.

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Our Haunted Planet
New Mexico Fireball

2007-09-14 14:33:00

On Sept 13th at approximately 3 o'clock in the morning MDT, an extremely bright fireball streaked over New Mexico, "It was terrifying," says eyewitness Susan K. Burgess. "I was stargazing outside my house near Santa Fe when the landscape started becoming very bright, as if a brilliant full moon was quickly rising from the southwest. The fireball itself [slowly moved] over the house and disintegrated with a great deal of scatter in the northwest sky."

At the Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, a Sentinel all-sky video camera captured the fireball in flight.

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Family Witnesses Mysterious Lights Over Carolina Coast

Fox8 News
2007-09-11 17:57:00

Was it a meteor, the military or a UFO? A Lexington family is trying to figure out the origin of an unusual light they saw near North Myrtle Beach, S.C. last week.

"It looked like a car light up in the sky," said Tracy House. "It was yellow."

The family first noticed the light September 5 over the Atlantic Ocean.


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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Czech speedway rider knocked out in crash wakes up speaking perfect English

Chris Brooke
Daily Mail
2007-09-14 13:23:00

When Matej Kus's teammates heard him talking after he was knocked out in a speedway accident, they were relieved he was conscious.

But they were also a little surprised.

For although the 18-year- old Czech knew only the most basic English phrases, he was conversing fluently in the language with paramedics.

Czech Matej Kus, 17, was banged on the head in a racing accident - and came to speaking perfect English.

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The €19 alibi - for when life gets a bit complicated

Alasdair Sandford
The Guardian
2007-09-14 07:36:00

"Let whoever has never needed a small alibi for their little fibs cast the first stone!" The welcoming comment on the company website sets the tone. Suffocating in the family pressure-cooker and need some air? In the midst of a "passing adventure" but don't want to jeopardise your marriage? Then Alibila claims to have the answer.

The company is France's first agency for adulterers who don't want to be found out. It provides alibis for a range of other situations, but acknowledges that its clients are often men who "need a little freedom".

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The abandoned monkey who has found love with a pigeon

Daily Mail
2007-09-14 02:06:00

They're an odd couple in every sense but a monkey and a pigeon have become inseparable at an animal sanctuary in China.

The 12-week-old macaque - who was abandoned by his mother - was close to death when it was rescued on Neilingding Island, in Goangdong Province.

The macaque nestles his head against his feathered friend

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The world's greatest paintings on Etch-A-Sketch

Daily Mail
2007-09-12 21:11:00

The red frame and twiddly white knobs are strangely familiar.

But the astonishing images on the screen are not.

Rather than abandon his Etch-A-Sketch to childhood, Jeff Gagliardi decided the simple toy had huge potential - and turned it into an art form.

©Daily Mail
Masterpiece: The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

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