- Signs of the Times Archive for Wed, 05 Dec 2007 -

Sections on today's Signs Page:

SOTT Focus
The You Know Whos Did It

Henry See
2007-12-05 20:29:00

Francesco Cossiga

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera carried the following article on November 30, 2007. They report that President Emeritus of the Italian Republic Francesco Cossiga has stated that 9/11 was the work of US and Israeli intelligence. Not only that, everyone who is really democratic in Europe and America is also aware of it.

And that's not all. It seems that at least one of the supposed tapes of Osama that we hear so much about is actually a fake!

Who da thought!

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Best of the Web

No new articles.

U.S. News
Typewriter Mistaken for Bomb, Shuts Down Street

Terrence O'Brien
2007-12-04 20:19:00

This may sound like a joke, but trust us, it's true. In Sarasota, Florida, streets were closed after a typewriter was reported as a suspicious package. And while many of us may not remember what one of these pre-PC word processors looks like, the senior citizens in Florida should have no excuse.

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Flashback: Hysteria Alert!: 'Suspicious package' was electric typewriter

2007-08-17 11:33:00

Kansas - Overland Park Police were called to a strip mall in the 8600 block of College Boulevard at 8:30 a.m. today to investigate a suspicious package in front of a closed liquor store and near a LaMar's Donuts.

Officers asked doughnut shop employees if they knew anything about the case, which General Manager Michael O'Leary said they didn't. Officers then blocked off a portion of the parking lot in front of the strip mall, and the driveway the strip mall shares with a Bank of America next door, and waited for the Bomb Squad van to arrive.

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Mainstream media gives Bush a pass on Iran lie, they're all one big happy club

John Aravosis
2007-12-05 12:14:00

It was all one big happy boys' and girls' club today, when the mainstream media got its chance to question President Bush about the recent bombshell that when Bush warned about Iran's nuclear program leading to "World War III" he already knew that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program 4 years ago. Bush then upped the ante by lying to the media again during his press conference this morning. In response to one question Bush said that he hadn't heard about any contrary intelligence until just last week. Funny, then, that his own national security adviser told the media yesterday that Bush was told months ago that there was intelligence showing that Iran had ceased its program. Did the ace White House reporters, who had Bush right in front of them, respond to Bush's assertion by saying "uh, Mr. President, your own National Security Adviser says that's a lie." Not a word. Even ABC's Martha Raddatz, who is one of the rare White House reporters to ask good, hard questions, could only come up with a polite little ditty about how our international credibility might be harmed by all of this.

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Catholic coloring book warns US kids of pedophile priests

Associated Free Press
2007-12-04 15:29:00

New York's Roman Catholic Church is trying a novel approach to alert children to the danger of being sexually assaulted by a priest, with an abuse-themed coloring book, officials said Tuesday.

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Democratic fundraiser Hsu indicted on fraud scheme

Jonathan Stempel
2007-12-05 10:19:00

Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was indicted by a federal grand jury for swindling investors in a $60 million fraud scheme and making illegal donations to U.S. political campaigns.

The 15-count indictment, unsealed on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, follows similar charges filed in September, in a case that prompted Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to return $850,000 in campaign contributions.

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Hypocrisy! Romney fires landscapers for illegal immigrants

2007-12-05 09:47:00

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday fired a landscaping company for using illegal immigrants to work on his lawn, a week after a tussle with rival Rudy Giuliani over the issue.

Romney said in a statement released by his campaign that he had given the company, Community Lawn Service of Chelsea, Massachusetts, a second chance last year to get rid of its undocumented workers, but it had failed to do so.

Comment: And we are meant to believe that Romney didn't know.

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A Miracle: Honest Intel on Iran Nukes

Ray McGovern
2007-12-05 08:39:00

For those who have doubts about miracles, a double one occurred today. An honest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's nuclear program has been issued and its Key Judgments were made public.

With redraft after redraft, it was what the Germans call "eine schwere Geburt" - a difficult birth, ten months in gestation.

I do not know how often Vice President Dick Cheney visited CIA Headquarters during the gestation period, but I am told he voiced his displeasure as soon as he saw the first sonogram/draft very early this year, and is so displeased with what issued that he has refused to be the godfather.

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How to Really Love Your Country: Five Objectives for True Patriots

Paul Burchheit
2007-12-05 08:10:00

A Top 5 list of criteria for a better America.

Throughout history, some of the most respected defenders of liberty felt that patriotism implies thoughtfulness over blind acceptance of the norm. Socrates, Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. all encouraged active efforts to improve one's country by adhering to the highest standards of behavior, by government and by the citizens themselves.

There is certainly room for improvement in America. Here is a Top 5 list of candidates for thoughtfulness over blind acceptance.

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Man Allegedly Leaves Baby to Rob Store

2007-12-05 06:02:00

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - Deputies said a man left his three-month-old baby home alone for six hours while he robbed a grocery store. Police said Tony Doden and his accomplice, James Schmidt, were arrested after their getaway car was spotted by a witness.

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Surprise: White House Blocking Plame Investigation Chairman Says

Pete Yost
Associated Press
2007-12-03 00:14:00

A House committee chairman looking into the leak of a CIA operative's identity asked for Attorney General Michael Mukasey's help in getting transcripts of investigators' interviews with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and five White House aides.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the White House is blocking Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald from providing the transcripts, which are among the material the congressman wants from the criminal investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity.

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Republicans form a new plot to rig the 2008 election

Johann Hari
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
2007-11-30 16:32:00

In the long, hot autumn of 2000, the world was shocked by the contempt for democracy shown by the Republican Party. They knew their man had lost the popular vote to Al Gore by half a million votes. They knew the majority of voters in Florida itself had pulled a lever for Gore. But they fought -- amid the confetti of hanging chads -- to stop the state's votes being counted, and to ensure that the Supreme Court imposed George W. Bush on the nation.

Today, that contempt for democracy is on display again. In California right now, there is a naked, out-in-the-open ploy to rig the 2008 presidential election -- and it may succeed.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
UK: Lost data discs 'endanger protected witnesses'

Andrew Porter
The Telegraph
2007-12-05 22:00:00

Hundreds of people in police witness protection programmes have been put at risk by the loss of millions of child benefit records, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The missing data discs are understood to contain both the real names and the new identities of up to 350 people who have had their identities changed after giving evidence against major criminals.

The development is one of the most serious so far in the missing data discs scandal, in which the child benefit records of 25 million people - including their names, addresses, birth dates, national insurance numbers and bank account details - were lost by HM Revenue and Customs.

The new identities of protected witnesses would be valuable property on the criminal market and, if they fell into the wrong hands, could place their lives and those of their families in jeopardy.

It will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds to provide the witnesses with yet another identity.

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Moldova: U.S. millionaire in child sex abuse case

RIA Novosti
2007-12-05 21:11:00

A U.S. millionaire accused of sexually assaulting underage boys from Moldova, Romania and Cuba, could face up to 30 years in jail if convicted, assistant U.S. attorney Michael Levy said.

Anthony Mark Bianchi, 45, a wealthy Jersey motel owner, is believed to have traveled to Cuba and Eastern Europe, including Moldova, with the aim of sexually abusing children.

The millionaire, known to the children as Mark, was sentenced in 2000 to three years in prison in Russia for similar offences but was released following an amnesty.

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Russian navy to start sorties in Atlantic

Guy Faulconbridge
2007-12-05 19:19:00

Russia's navy will start sorties in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean as part of a drive to boost Russia's military presence on the world's oceans, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday.
©REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev
Russian warships open fire during a presentation during Navy Day celebrations off the coast of the far eastern city of Vladivostok July 29, 2007.

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Police arrest 'missing canoeist'

BBC News
2007-12-05 10:05:00

A man who reappeared five years after it was thought he had drowned at sea while canoeing has been arrested.

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Uk: Sperm donor ordered to pay child support

Australian Associated Press
2007-12-05 06:06:00

A British firefighter who donated his sperm so a lesbian couple could have two babies is being forced to pay thousands of pounds in child support.

Andy Bathie, 37, initially agreed to help Sharon and Terri Arnold after being assured he would not have to be involved in the upbringing of their young boy and girl or have any financial responsibility towards them.

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Man in Greece cuts off hand of his daughter's boyfriend

RIA Novosti
2007-12-05 00:56:00

A man will appear in a Greek court on Tuesday accused of attempted murder and aggravated assault after he cut off the hand of his daughter's boyfriend last week, local media said.

The incident occurred on the Greek island of Naxos, in the Aegean Sea, late Friday when the 18-year-old boyfriend proposed to his 14-year-old girlfriend at her house.

The girl's 47-year-old father became angry and attacked the boyfriend before taking a sword to sever the man's hand.

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Around 70 arrested in Mafia raids in Italy

RIA Novosti
2007-12-05 00:54:00

Police in Catania, the largest city in eastern Sicily, arrested a criminal boss and about 70 suspected mobsters, a local police source said on Tuesday.

One of the arrested is Vincenzo Santapaola, son of prominent boss Benedetto 'Nitto' Santapaola. He took over Catania's most powerful Santapaola Family after his father, who founded it, was sentenced to several life sentences in 1993, after 11 years on the run.

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Around the World
World's biggest Asian elephant missing in Nepal

Gopal Sharma
2007-12-05 21:40:00

What is thought to be the world's largest Asian elephant has been missing from a Nepali wildlife reserve for a year and may well be dead, a reserve official said on Wednesday.

Raja Gaj, or king elephant, was estimated to be 11 feet 3 inches tall at the shoulder, some two feet taller than the average Asian elephant. The bull was one of the main tourist attractions at Bardia National Park in southwest Nepal.

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SKorea top presidential candidate cleared of fraud: prosecutors

Agence France-Presse
2007-12-05 09:02:00

South Korean presidential frontrunner Lee Myung-Bak was cleared of involvement in a major fraud case on Wednesday, giving a big boost to his hopes of winning the December 19 election.

"There is no evidence that Lee Myung-Bak has conspired... in stock manipulation," said senior prosecutor Kim Hong-Il in a televised announcement.

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Pakistan's Opposition Parties Meet to Draw Up List of Poll Demands

VOA News
2007-12-04 08:58:00

Pakistan's opposition parties are meeting to draw up a list of demands they say President Pervez Musharraf must meet to prevent a boycott of the January 8 parliamentary elections.

The meeting participants include the political parties of former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan People's Party and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Mr. Sharif and Ms. Bhutto met Monday and said the ballot would not be free and fair under Pakistan's current state of emergency.

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Explanation of MS Explorer's sinking doesn't hold water

Colin Woodard
Yahoo News
2007-12-05 08:42:00


People familiar with the Antarctic tourism industry weren't surprised that a cruise ship sank there. What stunned them was that the ship in question was the MS Explorer, a veteran of the polar cruise ship trade, purpose-built to operate in extreme polar environments, and manned by an experienced crew. That it sank during what appears to have been the most routine of circumstances - cruising through young pack ice in mild weather - has experts scratching their heads.

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Kabul blast kills 13

2007-12-05 06:39:00

A suicide attack against an army bus in Kabul killed six military personnel and seven civilians on Wednesday, a defense ministry source told Reuters.

More than a dozen people were also wounded in the attack, which happened during rush hour on a road in the southwestern part of the Afghan capital, the source said on condition of anonymity.

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Big Brother
Propaganda Alert! Qaeda-linked Web sites number 5,600: researcher

Ibtihal Hassan
2007-12-05 10:00:00

There are now about 5,600 Web sites spreading al Qaeda's ideology worldwide, and 900 more are appearing each year, a Saudi researcher told a national security conference on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, has identified the Internet as a key battlefield with militants who launched a campaign to topple the U.S.-allied ruling royal family in 2003.

Comment: Al-qaeda is an intelligence asset and necessary in order to convince people that they have to hand over their freedoms and rights. This article plays into the hands of the powers that be as they are itching to close down the internet or at the very least to curtail it even further.

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I Beg Your Pardon? Hearing Impaired Man Tased by Police

Michael Schwanke
KWCH - Kansas News
2007-12-05 07:16:00

Wichita, KS - Donnell Williams had just gotten out of the bath tub, wearing only a towel around his waist, when he turned the corner to see guns pointing right at him.

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US: Justices uphold warrantless welfare home searches

David G. Savage
Los Angeles Times
2007-11-27 07:15:00

County welfare officers may conduct routine searches of the homes of welfare recipients to combat fraud under a ruling in a California case that the Supreme Court let stand Monday.

The justices refused to hear a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union, which contended that San Diego County's policy of requiring home searches without a warrant violated privacy rights.

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Wilkerson Acquitted

Alexander Cockburn
2007-12-04 06:58:00

A jury in Ann Arbor, Michigan took four and a half hours on the evening of December 3 to acquit Catherine Wilkerson of two criminal misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident in November 2006. Wilkerson's alleged "crimes" consisted of intervening to assist an unconscious man who in her estimate was in grave risk of asphyxiation after an Ann Arbor cop had inflicted unnecessary and sadistic force, and a paramedic had compounded the brutality by breaking three ampoules of ammonia under the unconscious man's nose, saying, "You don't like that, do you."

The entire case is a parable of current trends: the criminalization of free speech; prosecutions intended to chill lawful protest; out-of-control police conduct; a spaniel press; and most sinister of all, a witch-hunting posture towards anything a cop or a prosecutor can construe as "radical terrorism". This posture is embodied in its most sinister guise by the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 404-6 earlier this year and now under review by a committee of the U.S. Senate.

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Flashback: The Ordeal of Catherine Wilkerson, M.D.

Alexander Cockburn
2007-11-24 05:16:00

Welcome to the jackboot state, not to mention the jackboot campus, anno domini 2007. A doctor gives verbal advice to protect the life of an unconscious man and she duly gets hit with attempted felonies by vindictive campus cops, with the connivance of the University of Michigan. Jury selection for her trial starts on Monday in a county courthouse in Ann Arbor.

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Axis of Evil
Giuliani Advisor Podhoretz: It's a CIA Plot to Protect Iran

Josh Marshall
Talking Points Memo
2007-12-05 18:38:00

Yep, Rudy's Mideast Advisor Norman Podhoretz says the CIA is fibbing about the Iranian nuclear program to protect the Iranians from an attack by Bush or Rudy.

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Desperate Gitmo Inmate Cuts Throat, but Survives

Ben Fox
Associated Press
2007-12-05 04:40:00

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - A Guantanamo Bay prisoner slashed his throat with a sharpened fingernail last month, spilling a lot of blood but surviving, a U.S. military commander said Tuesday.

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Lying Liar Bush: Iran Still a Danger Despite Report

Terence Hunt
Associated Press
2007-12-05 04:06:00

WASHINGTON - Defending his credibility, President Bush said Tuesday that Iran is dangerous and must be squeezed by international pressure despite a blockbuster intelligence finding that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

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Psychopathy Alert! Psychologist Participation in Torture

Stephen Soldz
2007-12-04 01:41:00

Last Friday American Psychological Association President, and Indiana University professor, Sharon Brehm discussed the APA's policies supporting psychologist participation in national security interrogations with faculty and students at her university. The Indiana Daily Student has an account of the meeting.

While the entire article is well worth reading, a few of Dr. Brehm's comments as cited there are especially worth commenting upon. Either they reflect an unacceptable level of ignorance of the basic facts about psychologists' roles in American torture or they are simply willful falsehoods. For example, Dr. Brehm stated:

"Psychologists only acted in an advisory role during questionings, working with interrogators to develop effective strategies that will elicit "accurate information."

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White House Continued Lies on False Iran Threat Despite Knowledge of NIE Report

Think Progress
2007-12-04 01:38:00

Despite knowledge that Iran halted its nuke program, the White House still pressed ahead with its lies and propaganda campaign.

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released yesterday concludes that "in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." It adds that "Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007," and the country is "less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005."

The assessment, which relies on data collected through Oct. 31, was reportedly completed in 2006, but was blocked by administration officials who wanted it to be more in line with Vice President Cheney's hardline views.

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Middle East Madness
Israeli students fall to 40th place in reading and arithmetic

Moran Zelikovich
2007-12-05 21:43:00

Israel is ranked 40th out of 57 countries in reading and mathematics among the youth, according to the results of the international PISA test, which gauges educational aptitude among students. This figure represents a drop of 9 places since the last test in 2002.

More than 4,500 Israeli youth participated in this year's test. Following the release of the results, Education Minister Yuli Tamir had this to say: "These statistics do not please us. This is not where we want the State of Israel to be."

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Israeli peace activists: Shut off power in Tel Aviv

Roi Mandel
2007-12-05 21:15:00

Left-wing activists and anarchists post fictitious bills about disconnecting flow of electricity to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem because of Israeli government's intention to limit power supply to Gaza.

Who posted announcements about a long-term power outage in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? For once, the national electric company is not the culprit, but anarchists and left-wing activists. This motley crew is protesting the government's plan to cut the flow of electricity to Gaza as collective punishment for the Qassam salvos that terrorists in Gaza continue to fire at Sderot and the Gaza-area communities.

Tuesday night lights

Tuesday night, dozens of anarchists and left-wing activists took to the streets in Israel's two largest cities to post thousands of such notices on the doors of private homes, buildings, and bulletin boards. These 'notices' are exact replicas of the electric company's announcement that warns of planned power outages.

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Russia: Iran Never Sought Nukes

Al Alam
2007-12-05 18:36:00

Russia on Wednesday joined China in suggesting that the new US intelligence report confirming the peaceful nature of Tehran's nuclear program must end the Western threats of more sanctions against Iran.

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Deviant Israeli soldier fined over baby-stealing prank

Steve Butcher
The Age
2007-12-05 13:11:00

A TEENAGE Israeli soldier has been fined $1000 after he "jokingly" carried away a six-year-old boy from a St Kilda East park, telling the child he was a kidnapper.

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Annapolis: "The Tumult And The Shouting Dies..."

Uri Avnery
Information Clearing House
2007-12-04 01:55:00

"The tumult and the shouting dies, / The captains and the kings depart..." Rudyard Kipling wrote in his unforgettable poem "Lest We Forget" ("Recessional")

King George departed even before the tumult had died. His helicopter carried him away over the horizon, just as his trusty steed carries the cowboy into the sunset at the end of the movie. At that moment, the speeches in the assembly hall were still going ahead at full blast.

This summed up the whole event.

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Iraq will suffer from cholera for two years

Aseel Kami
2007-12-05 02:01:00

Iraq will continue to suffer from cholera for the next two years until projects for providing sanitised water and a new sewage system are built, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

"Since there is a defect in the infrastructure in providing sanitised water and in sewage, the problem of cholera will stay deep rooted," Adel Abdullah, general inspector in the Health Ministry, told a news conference.

"Within two years there are ambitious projects to provide all Baghdad's districts with sanitised water in sufficient quantities and sewage projects. When these projects are complete, cholera will become history."

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As fuel cutoff takes effect in Gaza, traffic stops, clinics cut back treatment

Saed Bannoura
2007-12-04 01:25:00

Israel's controversial decision to cut off fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip has come into effect, with the Palestinian population in Gaza unable to travel by car between locations in Gaza. The population is already prevented from traveling anywhere outside of Gaza, as Israeli forces have completely sealed the borders.

Israeli tanks patrol Gaza border

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The Loan Gunmen
Wall Street slips amid economic concerns

Madlen Read
Associated Press
2007-12-05 10:21:00

Wall Street wilted Tuesday as investors awaiting next week's Federal Reserve meeting remained uneasy that fallout from the slumping housing market could bring more bank losses and pull the economy into recession.

Retreating oil prices and signs of strength in industries outside the financial sector could not keep the stock market from declining for a second straight day. Investors have entered into December, usually a winning month on Wall Street, very cautiously - most expect to see lower rates when the Fed meets next Tuesday, but the size of the cut, if any, is under debate.

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Revealed: how UK banks exploit charity tax laws

Ian Griffiths and Ian Cobain
The Guardian
2007-12-05 09:47:00

Britain's high street banks have raised billions of pounds in funds through complex financial deals that use supposedly charitable trusts which are not donating a penny to good causes, the Guardian has learned.

A dozen of the country's best-known banks and financial institutions have raised funds on the back of £234bn-worth of home loans over the past seven years, using trusts which have charitable status but rarely give anything to charity.

Comment: Why are we not surprised?

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Subprime Rate Five-Year Fix Eyed by U.S. Regulators, Lenders

Alison Vekshin
2007-12-05 08:51:00


Federal regulators and U.S. lenders are focusing on five years as the duration of an interest-rate freeze on subprime mortgages, said a person familiar with negotiations aimed at fending off a jump in foreclosures.

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Middle class and out of a home in Chicago

Art Golab
Chicago Sun-Times
2007-12-04 08:32:00

©Associated Press
The home mortgage meltdown is beginning to slam Chicago's wealthy and middle-class neighborhoods.

The home mortgage meltdown isn't just gutting the poorer parts of town. It's beginning to hammer wealthy and middle class Chicago neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Portage Park and Mt. Greenwood - all areas where home mortgage foreclosures have shot up by 100 percent or more from 2006 to 2007.

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Home Depot to close call centers, cut 950 jobs

2007-12-05 06:58:00

©REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A truck pulls into the parking lot of a Home Depot store in a suburb of Denver, Colorado May 17, 2005.

Home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc is closing three call centers that aid its home services business, cutting about 950 jobs, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

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"I've never seen financial insiders this spooked"

Paul Krugman
New York Times
2007-12-03 00:33:00

The financial crisis that began late last summer, then took a brief vacation in September and October, is back with a vengeance.

How bad is it? Well, I've never seen financial insiders this spooked - not even during the Asian crisis of 1997-98, when economic dominoes seemed to be falling all around the world.

This time, market players seem truly horrified - because they've suddenly realized that they don't understand the complex financial system they created.

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The Living Planet
Big Waves Smash the US Pacific Northwest

Jennifer Squires and J.M. Brown
Santa Cruz Sentinel
2007-12-05 22:03:00

Ferociously high surf charged by storms in the Pacific Northwest exhausted surfers and rescuers alike as 20-foot swells crashed off the misty Monterey Bay coastline Tuesday, killing a surfer near Pebble Beach and forcing dozens of others from the water.
©Vern Fisher / Media News
A fisherman gets too close to the surf on the jetty in Moss Landing on Tuesday.

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What's going on with the Sun? Will it save us from global warming?

David Whitehouse
The Independent
2007-12-05 16:40:00

Something is happening to our Sun. It has to do with sunspots, or rather the activity cycle their coming and going signifies. After a period of exceptionally high activity in the 20th century, our Sun has suddenly gone exceptionally quiet. Months have passed with no spots visible on its disc. We are at the end of one cycle of activity and astronomers are waiting for the sunspots to return and mark the start of the next, the so-called cycle 24. They have been waiting for a while now with no sign it's on its way any time soon.

©The Independent
Between 1645 and 1715 sunspots were rare. It was also a time when the Earth¿s northern hemisphere chilled dramatically

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Flashback: Sun's Shifts May Cause Global Warming

Marion Long
2007-06-26 12:11:00

His studies show that natural variations in the sun plays a major role in global warming. So are humans off the hook? And if so, why does he use compact fluorescent lightbulbs?

Most leading climate experts don't agree with Henrik Svensmark, the 49-year-old director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen. In fact, he has taken a lot of blows for proposing that solar activity and cosmic rays are instrumental in determining the warming (and cooling) of Earth. His studies show that cosmic rays trigger cloud formation, suggesting that a high level of solar activity - which suppresses the flow of cosmic rays striking the atmosphere - could result in fewer clouds and a warmer planet. This, Svensmark contends, could account for most of the warming during the last century. Does this mean that carbon dioxide is less important than we've been led to believe? Yes, he says, but how much less is impossible to know because climate models are so limited.

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Earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 7.3 rocks eastern Caribbean

The Canadian Press
2007-12-01 14:15:00

A powerful earthquake rocked the eastern Caribbean on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. No damage was immediately reported.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.3, was centred 37 kilometres southeast of Roseau, the capital of Dominica, where the shaking lasted for about 20 seconds. The quake was felt as far away as Puerto Rico.

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Yemen: Red Sea volcano erupts again

2007-12-04 14:10:00

A volcano on a small uninhabited island in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen erupted again on 3 December after previously erupting on 30 September 2007.

No-one has been injured and there is no obvious threat to the environment following the eruption on Yemen's Jabal al-Tair island, Yemeni officials have said.

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Electricity Revives Bali Coral Reefs

Joseph Coleman
Associated Press
2007-12-05 03:58:00

PEMUTERAN BAY, Indonesia - Just a few years ago, the lush coral reefs off Bali island were dying out, bleached by rising temperatures, blasted by dynamite fishing and poisoned by cyanide. Now they are coming back, thanks to an unlikely remedy: electricity.

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Health & Wellness
Flashback: Pain in the brain: It's not what you imagine

University College London
2004-08-08 21:23:00

Researchers are one step closer to unravelling the mystery of medically unexplained pain such as chronic low back pain, which continues to baffle doctors. A study exploring the experience of pain in hypnotised volunteers has found that some types of pain which cannot be traced to a medical condition may have its origins in our brains, not in our bodies.

The study by University College London and University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre found that volunteers who felt pain as a result of hypnotic suggestion showed strikingly similar brain activity to those subjected to physical pain via pulses of heat at 49 degrees Celsius.

The study, to appear in the next issue of NeuroImage, also found that when the volunteers were asked to simply imagine that they felt the same pain, they had significantly different brain activity than under hypnotised and physical pain conditions.

Dr. David Oakley, Director of UCL's Hypnosis Unit, says: "The fact that hypnosis was able to induce a genuine painful experience suggests that some pain really can begin in our minds. People reporting this type of pain are not simply imagining it."

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U.S. warns about bed-wetting drug after two deaths

2007-12-05 10:11:00

U.S. health officials alerted the public on Tuesday about the deaths of two patients who were treated with a prescription drug to control bed-wetting.

The Food and Drug Administration said it was unclear whether the drug, desmopressin, had contributed to the deaths. But the agency said nasal versions were no longer approved for treating bed-wetting and doctors should consider other options.

Comment: The wonders of modern medicine. Big Pharma is doing all it can to curtail the human population.

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US: Vaccines Are Allowed to Spoil

Melanie S. Welte
Associated Press
2007-12-04 07:57:00

Every year, thousands of American children go through the tearful, teeth-gritting ordeal of getting their vaccinations, only to be forced to do it all over again. The vaccines were duds, ruined by poor refrigeration.

It is more than a source of distress for parent and child. It is a public health threat, because youngsters given understrength vaccines are unprotected against dangerous diseases. And it accounts for a big part of the $20 million in waste incurred by the federal Vaccines for Children program.

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Circumcision does not affect HIV in U.S. men

Maggie Fox
2007-12-05 07:41:00

Circumcision may reduce a man's risk of infection with the AIDS virus by up to 60 percent if he is an African, but it does not appear to help American men of color, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Black and Latino men were just as likely to become infected with the AIDS virus whether they were circumcised or not, Greg Millett of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

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Protein found to turn up metabolism in mice

Julie Steenhuysen
2007-12-05 07:23:00

Dr. Clay Semenkovich of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, in an undated photo.

Tricking muscle tissue to burn rather than store fat has succeeded in increasing the average life span of mice and staved off some age-related diseases, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

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Optimism isn't always healthy

University of Chicago Press Journals
2007-12-05 00:45:00

People are generally optimistic, believing they'll do better in the future than they've done in the past. This time around, I'll actually use that gym membership. I'm sticking to the diet this time. Now is the time to start saving for a down payment on a house. However, a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that this "optimism bias" can lead us to make immediate choices that go against our long-term goals.

Ying Zhang, Ayelet Fishbach (both of the University of Chicago), and Ravi Dhar (Yale University) identify how different mindsets work in conjunction with an optimistic attitude. They found that when people think about the goal in terms of progress, they are more likely to make a detrimental decision - such as eating an unhealthy snack. However, when people focus on commitment to a goal, they are more likely to choose an action consistent with its attainment.

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Pass the popcorn! Study finds that film enjoyment is contagious

University of Chicago Press Journals
2007-12-04 21:15:00

Loud commentary and cell phone fumbling may be distracting, but new research from the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the presence of other people may enhance our movie-watching experiences. Over the course of the film, movie-watchers influence one another and gradually synchronize their emotional responses. This mutual mimicry also affects each participant's evaluation of the overall experience - the more in sync we are with the people around us, the more we like the movie.

"When asked how much they had liked the film, participants reported higher ratings the more their assessments lined up with the other person," explain Suresh Ramanathan and Ann L. McGill (both of the University of Chicago). "By mimicking expressions, people catch each other's moods leading to a shared emotional experience. That feels good to people and they attribute that good feeling to the quality of the movie."

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Science & Technology
Flashback: New book explains age-old mystery of geometrical illusions

Duke University Medical Center
2005-09-29 20:22:00

The insights provided by neurobiologist Dale Purves and his colleagues over the last few years about why the brain doesn't see the world according to the measurements provided by rulers, protractors or photometers suggest that vision operates in way very different from what most neuroscientists imagine.

In a new book "Perceiving Geometry: Geometric Illusions Explained by Natural Scene Statistics" (Springer), Purves and colleague Catherine Howe explore why the brain generates geometric illusions.

Visual perception is a daunting task for the brain, explains Purves, because light streaming into the eye carries only ambiguous information about the environment.

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Mystery of Antarctica's 15-Million Year-Old Lake

Casey Kazan
The Daily Galaxy
2007-12-04 13:54:00


Researchers have thawed ice estimated to be perhaps a million years old or more from above Lake Vostok, an ancient lake that lies hidden more than two miles beneath the frozen surface of Antarctica using novel genomic techniques to determine how tiny, living "time capsules" survived the ages in total darkness, in freezing cold, and without food and energy from the sun.

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Stars align for space station buildup

Irene Klotz
2007-12-05 07:14:00

A view of Earth from the International Space Station in an image from NASA TV taken November 20, 2007.

NASA hopes to launch its fourth shuttle mission in six months on Thursday, a pace that will keep the International Space Station on track for completion by 2010.

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Roman Throne Discovered in Italian Ruins

Ariel David
Associated Press
2007-12-05 04:21:00

ROME - Remnants of the first known surviving Roman throne have been discovered in the lava and ash that buried the city of Herculaneum in the first century, archaeologists said Tuesday.
©AP Photo/Italian Culture Ministry, HO
Undated photo made available by the Italian Culture Ministry in Rome, showing part of a wooden throne dug out between October and November in the ancient southern Italian city of Herculaneum, near Pompeii, one of the Roman cities buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79. Decorated with ivory bas-reliefs depicting ancient deities, the wooden remains are the first known example of a Roman throne, archaeologists said Tuesday.

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'Monster' Arctic Reptile Remains Found

Associated Press
2007-12-05 04:02:00

OSLO, Norway - Remains of a bus-sized prehistoric "monster" reptile found on a remote Arctic island may be a new species never before recorded by science, researchers said Tuesday.

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1939 Is In Again: We Are Now Approaching The Futurama

Wired Magazine
2007-12-05 03:08:00

In the pilot of the animated comedy Futurama, the protagonist awakens from a millennium of cryogenic slumber to find himself in the year 3000. The first thing he hears is a portentous, booming voice: "Welcome...to the world of tomorrow!" The speaker is soon revealed to be a lab technician with a flair for the melodramatic. The scene riffs on a 70-year-old fair ride, a vision of the future that's been so influential it'll probably seem familiar even if you've never heard of it.


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Our Haunted Planet

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Toddler fools the art world into buying his tomato ketchup paintings

Daily Mail
2007-12-03 15:49:00

©Julian Andrews
The toddler with some of his creations: Freddie is said to favour the 'spot and blotch' technique

To the untrained eye, they appear to be simple daubs that could have been created by a two year old. Which is precisely what they are. But that didn't stop the supposed experts falling over themselves to acclaim them.

The toddler in question is Freddie Linsky, who has fooled the art world into buying and asking to exhibit his paintings.

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Barking Mad! Rich U.S. dog hiding after death threats

BBC News
2007-12-05 13:02:00

A dog that inherited $12m (£5.8m) from late New York hotelier Leona Helmsley is in hiding after it was targeted by death threats, US media say.

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Day-release convicts caught with drug crop

2007-12-05 07:35:00

©REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
The sun shines though the distinctively shaped leaves of marijuana plants May 24, 2005.

Two convicts on day-release from a German prison were caught tending their illegal cannabis crop in an empty warehouse nearby, German authorities said on Monday.

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Man Accused of Swiping Blow-Up Dolls

Wisconsin State Journal
2007-12-05 05:44:00

MADISON, Wis. - A man accused of stealing several blow-up dolls from an adult novelty store says the burglary was a "drunken, stupid thing."

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Moscow student asks Santa to freeze his lecturers

RIA Novosti
2007-12-05 00:49:00

A Moscow university student has sent a letter to Ded Moroz, Russia's version of Santa Claus, asking him to freeze all his lecturers, a source in Santa's official residence said on Tuesday.

Ded Moroz, whose official residence is near the Russian town of Veliky Ustyug, about 800 kms (500 miles) northeast of Moscow, comes to his temporary residence in Moscow's Kuzminskiy Park every November. This year he has so far received a total of 4,500 e-mails and 1,500 letters.

"A Moscow university student asked the New Year wizard to freeze all his lecturers for the period of mid-year exams," the source said.

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