- Signs of the Times Archive for Tue, 18 Sep 2007 -

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U.S. News
Clinton on health care: no proof of insurance = no job

Beth Fouhy
Associated Press
2007-09-18 12:59:00

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance was the only way to achieve universal health care but she rejected the notion of punitive measures to force individuals into the health care system.

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The Hypocrisy of Bill Clinton's New Book 'Giving'

Chris Hedges
2007-09-18 16:09:00

Bill Clinton has written a new book about charity, a "fitting subject" for a president who betrayed the poor and led his party into the arms of corporate America.

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'Perfect murder' author hunted after two deaths

Tom Leonard
2007-09-18 14:58:00

A Russian émigré is being hunted in New York after two of his girlfriends died in almost identical circumstances to those he described in a collection of murder stories. Eugene Perchikov collected £500,000 life insurance after the death of a mistress in Brooklyn in 2002 but two other insurance companies refused to pay a similar amount following the death of the second woman in Manhattan two years later.

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Student Tasered at Kerry speech after asking about Skull and Bones

Mike Aivaz and John Byrne
Raw Story
2007-09-18 09:29:00

Police Tasered and arrested a University of Florida student Monday when he engaged in "combative diatribe" following a question of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) at a student forum about why he didn't contest the 2004 presidential election or impeach President George W. Bush.

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FOX censors Sally Field's antiwar remarks at Emmys

Associated Press
2007-09-18 03:30:00

LOS ANGELES Twenty-two years after her immortal Oscar speech, the Fox network really did NOT like Sally Field.

Accepting her Emmy on Sunday night for lead actress in a drama series ("Brothers and Sisters"), Field stumbled halfway through, lost her train of thought, screeched at the audience to stop applauding so she could finish talking -- and then was bleeped by Fox censors as she stammered through an anti-war rant.

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Bush nominee to replace Gonzales draws praise

Thomas Ferraro and Caren Bohan
2007-09-18 03:04:00

U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday nominated Michael Mukasey, a retired federal judge and law-and-order conservative, to replace beleaguered Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney general.

The 66-year-old Mukasey drew quick praise from a number of Democrats as well as Republicans, suggesting he may win relatively easy confirmation in a Democratic-led Senate, which has been sharply divided over administration terrorism policies that some charge violate civil liberties.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Russian Defense Minister Leaves Cabinet

2007-09-18 16:17:00

Russia's defense minister has resigned, the country's new prime minister said Tuesday, announcing the departure of his own son-in-law in the beginning of what is expected to be a Cabinet-wide shake up.

Premier Viktor Zubkov, a Cabinet officer who vaulted from obscurity last week to become President Vladimir Putin's choice as prime minister, said he and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov agreed their their family ties were problematic. Serdyukov is married to Zubkov's daughter.

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Third outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease confirmed at farm

2007-09-18 15:48:00

Tests on cattle at a third Surrey farm have tested positive for foot-and-mouth disease, it has been confirmed.

Livestock on the Egham farm, called The Klondyke, and owned by John and Sally Hepplethwaite, have been culled as a precaution.

The disease was confirmed in slaughtered cattle at two other farms in the same area last week.


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UK: Man 'raped two girls within minutes'

Anna Ford
The Scotsman
2007-09-18 15:03:00

A serial sex attacker raped two 15-year-old girls within minutes as he preyed on "vulnerable young women" over a six-year period, a court heard yesterday.

Chichester Crown Court heard that Mark Campbell, 38, indecently assaulted a 12-year-old girl as she walked home from school, a 15-year-old on her way to the shops and a young mother while her three children were asleep in the house - and whose clothes he used to tie her up.

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No government in sight 100 days after Belgian elections

2007-09-18 02:27:00

Belgium on Tuesday marked 100 days since its general election, with the gulf so vast between its Dutch- and French-speaking communities that there is no new government but fears the country could split.

Once just a hypothetical debate, talk of the possibility of federal Belgium falling apart is now on everyone's lips, with the political parties unable to bridge their differences and form a coalition.

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Polonium murder suspect eyes Russian presidency

2007-09-17 15:31:00

The ex-KGB agent Britain accuses of using radioactive polonium to murder an exiled Kremlin critic said Monday that he would like to become Russian president next year.

"Like any citizen I would like to be president," Andrei Lugovoi, the main suspect in the killing last year in London of Alexander Litvinenko, said, Interfax news agency reported.

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France ups ante in war of words with Iran

2007-09-17 10:09:00

France took the first steps Monday to set up a European sanctions regime against the Islamic government in Tehran, after warning that Iran's failure to renounce nuclear weapons could lead to war.

The tough talk from Paris came as the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany prepared to discuss new UN sanctions on Iran, which has failed to respond to demands to stop enriching uranium.

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Around the World
Its about time for Venezuela to permanently shut the US Caracas embassy!

Oscar Heck
2007-09-18 17:30:00

Some people may not like what I am about to write ... I'm reading the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress (Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy - updated September 4, 2007) which is prepared for members and committees of the US Congress.

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Colombia angered by US settlement with Chiquita Brands

2007-09-18 16:30:00

Colombian officials Tuesday expressed anger at a 25-million-dollar settlement between the United States Justice Department and multinational Chiquita Brands for payments the banana producer made to paramilitaries.

US District Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday approved the deal agreed to in March under which Chiquita will pay 25 million dollars for having made payments to paramilitaries for nearly six years to obtain protection for its employees in Colombia.

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Flashback: Colombians want Chiquita banana execs extradited from U.S. for murders

Associated Press
2007-03-17 08:27:00

BOGOTA, Colombia - Outraged Colombians called Friday for the United States to extradite American banana executives after the Cincinnati-based fruit giant Chiquita acknowledged paying money for protection to illegal groups that carried out killings.

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Sierra Leone's new president vows to heal war wounds

2007-09-18 02:26:00

Ernest Bai Koroma took oath Monday as Sierra Leone's new president after winning a tense runoff vote and vowed to wipe out graft and heal deep wounds in the impoverished war-scarred west African nation.

Koroma, 53, an opposition candidate who defeated outgoing vice president Solomon Berewa, also pledged to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans who live in the world's second poorest country despite its vast diamond riches.

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Buddhist monks march in Myanmar amid threats of tougher action

2007-09-18 02:27:00

Hundreds of Buddhist monks marched peacefully Monday in military-ruled Myanmar, sources there said, amid reports that some Buddhist groups may toughen their stance against the junta.

A resident in Yangon said that about 500 monks in Kyaukpadaung town in central Myanmar, near Mandalay, had walked around the town reciting traditional religious chants to ward off evil.

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How Canada Went from 21st to 2nd in World's Oil Reserves

Dan Woynillowicz
World Watch
2007-09-17 17:30:00

The United States has its hopes pinned on Canada's "tar sands" for North American security in the oil market. But their "black gold" is an environmental nightmare.

It's well-known that the United States consumes more oil per capita than any other country in the world, absorbing two-thirds of global oil production. This heavy dependence has often, and aptly, been described as an addiction; even U.S. President George W. Bush trotted out the metaphor in his 2006 State of the Union address ("America is addicted to oil").

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Big Brother
Another Example Of Terrorism Is Just An Excuse! Big Puffer Is Watching

James McCarthy
2007-09-18 16:46:00

Under-Fire smokers are being targeted by CCTV cameras and issued with on-the-spot fines for dropping their ciggies outside pubs.

And the move has incensed action group Forest, who feel smokers are being victimised by the Big Brother tactics.

Since April 2, smokers throughout Wales have been banished to the nation's pavements.

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US: Spy chief uses "Commies threat" shtick to enforce fascist state

Associated Press
2007-09-18 13:45:00

China and Russia are spying on the United States nearly as much as they did during the Cold War, according to the top U.S. intelligence official.

Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, says in testimony prepared for a Tuesday congressional hearing that a law passed last month expanding the U.S. government's eavesdropping power is needed to protect not just against terrorists but also against more traditional potential adversaries, such as those two Cold War foes.

"China and Russia's foreign intelligence services are among the most aggressive in collecting against sensitive and protected U.S. systems, facilities and development projects, and their efforts are approaching Cold War levels," McConnell says in his testimony. "Foreign intelligence information concerning the plans, activities and intentions of foreign powers and their agents is critical to protect the nation and preserve our security."

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Israel espionage case points to biggest Net threat

Bob Sullivan
2007-09-18 05:52:00

Executives of top telecom firms accused of spying on each other. A jealous ex-husband suspected of monitoring his former in-laws. Private investigators implicated in computer-hacking-for-hire; one now involved in a possible attempted suicide. So much bad publicity, government officials worry it might impact the entire nation's economy.

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Australia spy law would allow tracking everything without a warrant

Tom Allard
Sydney Morning Herald
2007-09-17 21:36:00

Security agencies would be able to secretly track people via their mobile phones and monitor their internet browsing for up to three months without obtaining a warrant under new laws due to go before the Senate this week.

The powers could be used in a range of even relatively minor criminal investigations, not just terrorism cases.

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Big Brother is watching us all

Humphrey Hawksley
2007-09-15 21:04:00

The US and UK governments are developing increasingly sophisticated gadgets to keep individuals under their surveillance. When it comes to technology, the US is determined to stay ahead of the game.

Humphrey Hawksley's data is captured by a camera in one second.

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Axis of Evil
Flashback: Chertoff, Chiquita and Death Squads

Chris Floyd
2007-08-02 16:47:00

As Jonathan Schwarz recently noted, there is a deeply discouraging sameness about the outrages that dissenting writers must address -- and a new front-page story in the Washington Post is a perfect example. In fact, it's a piece that could have been written at any time in the last 100 years or more: "Feds Look the Other Way While United Fruit Company Peddles Death and Corruption in Latin America"

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Blackwater: Bush's Private Shadow Army

Sam Graham-Felsen
The Nation
2007-09-17 18:43:00

Coming to a city near you?

No one knows for sure, but it's believed that as much as 40% of the military budget goes to private contractors including private armies.

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Middle East Madness
Propaganda Alert!: 'Dozens died in Syrian-Iranian chemical weapons experiment'

Jerusalem Post
2007-09-18 22:54:00

Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in a Jane's Magazine report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.

According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas and VX gas.

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Israel Sends Tanks Into Gaza Strip

Sarah El-Deeb
2007-09-15 16:40:00

Israeli tanks crossed into the northern Gaza Strip in an operation to rout out rocket launchers Saturday, and Palestinian officials said a 17-year-old was wounded in an exchange of fire.

The army said tanks crossed more than 250 yards into northern Gaza and responded with gunfire after they were shot at, including with RPGs. The militant group Islamic Jihad said it fired two RPGs at the troops. The soldiers detained nine Palestinians for questioning, the army said.

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Russia warns against Iran war

2007-09-18 09:54:00

Russia expressed worry Tuesday over the possibility of war with Iran as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner pressed for tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

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Israeli forces shoot 16-year-old boy in Ramallah then let him bleed to death

John Smith
2007-09-18 09:13:00

A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by invading Israeli forces in Ramallah in the early hours of Monday morning.

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Two days after attacking him, Israeli soldiers kidnap a Palestinian child north of Jerusalem

Mayssa Abu Ghazalah
2007-09-18 09:12:00

A large Israeli army force invaded Shu'fat refugee camp on Tuesday morning, attacking the home of Amjad Jabier, and kidnapping 15-year-old son, Taha.

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Abizaid: World could abide nuclear Iran

Robert Burns
Associated Press
2007-09-18 03:04:00

Every effort should be made to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but failing that, the world could live with a nuclear-armed regime in Tehran, a recently retired commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Monday.

John Abizaid, the retired Army general who headed Central Command for nearly four years, said he was confident that if Iran gained nuclear arms, the United States could deter it from using them.

Comment: It is amazing the difference retirement makes to some generals.

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The Loan Gunmen
Oil Hits New $82.38 Record After Fed Rate Cut

John Wilen
Associated Press
2007-09-18 16:15:00

Oil Prices Rise to New Records After Fed's Decision to Cut Interest Rates

Oil futures rose to new records Tuesday after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a larger than expected half percentage point, raising market hopes that economic growth will accelerate and lift demand even as crude oil and gasoline inventories are tight.

A barrel of crude surged to a new trading high of $81.90 on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the moments immediately after the Fed's decision. While light, sweet crude for October delivery settled at $81.51 a barrel, up 94 cents, prices continued to rise after the Nymex closed, hitting $82.38 in afternoon electronic trading.

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ECB cash infusions may not succeed: Canada Bank Governor

2007-09-14 16:56:00

The European Central Bank's efforts to restore confidence to credit markets by pumping in liquidity are unlikely to succeed, Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge was quoted as saying on Friday.

"I'm not sure practically, whether it would do anything," Dodge told the Financial Times in an interview, referring to the ECB's issuing of billions of euros in three-month money.

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U.S. home foreclosures soar in August

Alex Veiga
2007-09-18 11:34:00

The number of foreclosure filings reported in the U.S. last month more than doubled versus August 2006 and jumped 36 percent from July, a trend that signals many homeowners are increasingly unable to make timely payments on their mortgages or sell their homes amid a national housing slump.

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Australia Cuts Grain Crop Estimate 31% on Dry Weather

Madelene Pearson and Gemma Daley
2007-09-18 09:20:00

Australia cut its forecast for barley, wheat and canola crops 31 percent on dry weather, adding pressure to shrinking world supplies that have driven up prices.

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Northern Rock bail-out sets terrible precedent

Jeremy Warner
The Independent
2007-09-18 09:16:00

Contagion was the risk the Bank of England hoped to avoid by standing behind Northern Rock with emergency finance. In the event, its actions seemed only to add to the general sense of alarm. Shares in Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley plunged yesterday on speculation that they too might suffer a run on deposits similar to that already witnessed at Northern Rock.

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Prepare for prolonged turmoil, says US Treasury Secretary

Suzy Jagger and Gabriel Rozenberg
Times of London
2007-09-18 06:27:00

Investors should brace themselves for a prolonged period of market turmoil, Henry Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, said yesterday as he held emergency meetings with the Chancellor and the French Finance Minister.

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The Living Planet
Ozone hole reappears over Antarctic

2007-09-12 16:36:00

The hole in the protective ozone layer over the Antarctic is forming again but should remain just below the record size it reached last year, a scientist at the UN's weather agency said Wednesday.

The gap in the ozone in the upper atmosphere, at altitudes of up to 25 kilometres (15 miles), has reached a size of about 23 million square kilometres (8.9 million square miles), said World Meteorological Organisation ozone expert Geir Braathen.


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Flood kills one in Slovenia

2007-09-18 16:23:00

At least one person died Tuesday in Slovenia as storms and heavy rain caused floods, the national television TVS reported.

The victim, a 60-year-old woman, was killed when water carried her away in her vehicle. The accident occurred in Zeleznik, 40 kilometres northwest of Ljubljana.

A state of emergency was declared in the village, in which the 3,000 inhabitants were still without electricity in the evening hours.

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Environment Canada now says Manitoba tornado was strongest ever in country

2007-09-18 16:20:00

Environment Canada has confirmed a tornado that blew apart homes in Elie, Manitoba this summer was an F-5 - the strongest in Canadian history.

Spokesman Dave Carlson says after reviewing videotape of the twister, Environment Canada has determined the tornado packed winds upwards of 400 klometres an hour - strong enough to toss around cars and houses and standblast the bark off trees.

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Surprise strategy: Bees smother enemies

2007-09-18 14:07:00

Cyprian honey bees under attack by predator hornets have evolved a grisly and lethal way of fighting back which scientists have called "asphyxia-balling," according to a study published Monday.

An intruding hornet looking for a snack in a beehive may suddenly find itself enveloped inside a buzzing ball of black-and-yellow worker drones. The bees squeeze in tightly around the abdomen -- where hornets breath -- until the would be aggressor dies of suffocation.

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Typhoon heads for China, targets Shanghai

2007-09-18 13:21:00

China was evacuating tens of thousands of people from its financial hub Shanghai on Tuesday in the face of a powerful typhoon churning towards the east coast.

About 200,000 people living in exposed areas in the city of over 14 million would be moved to temporary shelters before evening when Typhoon Wipha is expected to make landfall after swiping the island of Taiwan.

Schools, offices and markets were closed on the northern part of Taiwan near the capital, Taipei, where it has been raining steadily since late Monday.

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35-degree temperature ties September record low in Toledo, Ohio

2007-09-17 21:00:00

Yesterday's low of 35 degrees at Toledo Express Airport tied the record low for Sept. 16 that was set in 1966, the National Weather Service said.

The record was tied with a 7 a.m. reading.

Similar temperatures prevailed throughout the region, but temperatures remained balmy enough - barely - for flowers, tomatoes, and soybeans to survive.

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Health & Wellness
Effectiveness of drugs 'overstated because of biased testing'

Steve Connor
The Independent
2007-09-15 16:43:00

Pharmaceutical companies are overstating the effectiveness of their drugs, and may be placing patients at greater risk, because animal laboratory studies they fund are biased, it was claimed yesterday.

A survey of nearly 300 animal-test studies involving six different experimental drugs suggested that such flawed methodology is rampant in the drug-testing industry.

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Canada records worst year for West Nile

2007-09-18 16:25:00

New numbers show Canada is experiencing its worst year for West Nile virus, and as strange as it sounds, one reason could be the lack of a certain type of mosquito.

So far this summer, 1,790 people are known to have become infected with West Nile, compared with the previous record of 1,481 cases in 2003.

A wet spring and hot summer in the Prairies provided the perfect breeding ground for the type of mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus to humans.

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Flashback: Cheap, 'safe' drug kills most cancers

Andy Coghlan
2007-01-20 12:12:00

IT SOUNDS almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their "immortality". The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe. It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

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Can a High-Fat Diet Beat Cancer?

Richard Friebe
Time Magazine
2007-09-18 12:25:00

The theory is simple: if most aggressive cancers rely on the fermentation of sugar for growing and dividing, then take away the sugar and they should stop spreading. Meanwhile, normal body and brain cells should be able to handle the sugar starvation; they can switch to generating energy from fatty molecules called ketone bodies - the body's main source of energy on a fat-rich diet - an ability that some or most fast growing and invasive cancers seem to lack.

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Soldier faces threats from military after refusing anthrax vaccine

Julie Weisberg
Raw Story
2007-09-18 09:39:00

A soldier serving in Iraq who is stationed in Baghdad says he has faced "threats" and "intimidation" from his Army superiors - including the possibility of forced inoculations - after he refused to take the military's controversial anthrax vaccine.

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"Experts" Debate Giving Cervical Cancer Vaccine to Choir Boys

E.J. Mundell
2007-09-18 08:49:00

Amid the controversy around mandated vaccination of young girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), some experts are beginning to wonder whether the shot should also be given to boys.

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Science & Technology
Research overturns accepted notion of neutron's electrical properties

University of Washington
2007-09-18 14:15:00

For two generations of physicists, it has been a standard belief that the neutron, an electrically neutral elementary particle and a primary component of an atom, actually carries a positive charge at its center and an offsetting negative charge at its outer edge.

The notion was first put forth in 1947 by Enrico Fermi, a Nobel laureate noted for his role in developing the first nuclear reactor. But new research by a University of Washington physicist shows the neutron's charge is not quite as simple as Fermi believed.

Using precise data recently gathered at three different laboratories and some new theoretical tools, Gerald A. Miller, a UW physics professor, has found that the neutron has a negative charge both in its inner core and its outer edge, with a positive charge sandwiched in between to make the particle electrically neutral.

"Nobody realized this was the case," Miller said. "It is significant because it is a clear fact of nature that we didn't know before. Now we know it."

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Sand Dune Sounds

Elise Kleeman
2007-09-17 20:50:00

In about 30 of the world's deserts, the shifting sands create a booming noise that has baffled scientists for decades.

Early explorers imagined the strange rumbling sounds - roughly an octave and a half below middle C - as the cries of a buried horseman, or the bells of an underground convent.

Others have described it as the sound of musical instruments, or the drone of an airplane. Exactly how it happens, though, has long been a mystery.

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Our Haunted Planet
Mystery illness strikes after meteorite hits Peruvian village

2007-09-18 10:44:00

Villagers in southern Peru were struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area, regional authorities said Monday.

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Explosion like boom blamed on fighter jet test in Ohio

2007-09-14 22:03:00

People in a part of northwest Ohio now know why their windows shook Thursday morning from what they thought was an explosion.

Turns out it was a sonic boom.

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Sonic booms along South Carolina?

Tonya Root
2007-09-06 21:53:00

What sounded like sonic booms in the North Myrtle Beach area Wednesday night were probably made by fighter jets from Shaw Air Force Base conducting routine training exercises, an official said.

Shaw F-16 pilots are conducting night training this week and were flying off the coast of the Grand Strand between 10:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, said Judy Lewis with the public affairs division of Shaw Air Force Base.

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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!
Dozy bank robber in Cyprus falls asleep on the job

2007-09-18 14:35:00

A Turkish man who broke into a Cyprus bank to steal from the ATM machine was found fast asleep on the floor by a cleaner who raised the alarm, Cypriot police said on Monday.

The cleaner stumbled over the suspect two hours before opening time and called in the police, who turned up to catch a tired man staggering out of the building.

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The accent transplant: Brain surgery leaves Yorkshire boy speaking like the Queen

Liz Hull
The Daily Mail
2007-09-18 14:22:00

With her nine-year-old son William lying desperately ill in hospital following emergency brain surgery, Ruth McCartney-Moore prayed that she would one day hear his voice again.

But when he did speak weeks later, she was in for a shock.

He had lost his strong Yorkshire accent and was now speaking the Queen's English.

"We noticed that he had started to elongate his vowels in words like 'bath' which he never did before," said Mrs McCartney-Moore, 45, a music teacher from York.

Recovering in hospital: William had a rare strain of meningitis.

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Love Jesus and have more babies, says Pope amid priest sex abuse scandals

2007-09-18 06:51:00

Pope Benedict XVI blasted Europeans for being selfish and not having enough children, in a sermon at the 850-year-old pilgrimage site of Mariazell in Austria.

"Europe has become child-poor. We want everything for ourselves and place little trust in the future," the Pope told a crowd of faithful from his canopied area at an open-air, afternoon mass that took place under heavy rain.

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Nebraska State Senator Sues God

By Nate Jenkins
Associated Press
2007-09-17 21:03:00

LINCOLN, Neb. - The defendant in a state senator's lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He's everywhere.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he's trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

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