- Signs of the Times Archive for Wed, 19 Dec 2007 -

Sections on today's Signs Page:

SOTT Focus
New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection

Laura Knight-Jadczyk
SOTT.NET Book Review
2007-12-19 08:08:00

Medieval depiction of the Black Death

New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection by dendrochronologist Mike Baillie of Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland.

I just finished reading this one and all I can say is: Wow! This was an intense book! Not a long one, either - just 208 pages including appendices. It's tight and economical with no wasted words or idle rambling around. Every example and temporary diversion is crucial to the central argument which is - brace yourself for this one - Mike Baillie (yeah, a real scientist and not a crackpot), is saying that the Black Death, one of the most deadly pandemics in human history, said to have killed possibly two thirds of the entire population of Europe, not to mention millions all over the planet, probably wasn't Bubonic Plague but was rather Death By Comet(s)!

Oh yeah! That's far out, isn't it?

Maybe not. Baillie has the scientific evidence to support his theory and his evidence actually supports - and is supported by - what the people of the time were saying: earthquakes, comets, rains of death and fire, corrupted atmosphere, and death on a scale that is almost unimaginable. Most people nowadays are not really aware of what happened just 660 years ago. (Hmmm... the inquiring mind immediately wonders what might happen when we hit 666 years after?! That would be 2012...)

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Best of the Web
Liar Liar

2007-12-19 12:11:00

In the 1997 Jim Carrey movie, Liar Liar, a lawyer is made to only tell the truth for 24 hours in response to a birthday wish made by his son. Unfortunately, those kinds of wishes are only granted in the movies.

Thanks to some digital magic, we have the next best thing, however. As far as we know, George Bush has never made the following speech. Not in public, at least. But, if we were granted the Liar Liar wish this Christmas, perhaps this is what we would hear...

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U.S. News
Kucinich's Brother Found Dead

Associated Press
2007-12-19 18:01:00

CLEVELAND -- The youngest brother of Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was found dead at his home Wednesday.

Perry Kucinich, 52, was found face down by another brother, Larry, at about 9 a.m., said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Coroner's office.

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NY Times changes CIA torture tapes headline for White House

Michael Calderone
2007-12-19 17:34:00

The New York Times has changed the subheadline in Wednesday's front-page story on the CIA's destruction of secret interrogation tapes, following a formal request by the White House.

The correction has already been made online, and there will be a print correction in the paper, according to a Times representative.

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Surprise!: Democrats fold, war funds budget clears US Senate

2007-12-19 10:56:00

The US Senate has approved a huge $555bn (£277bn) federal budget that includes an extra $70bn for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Faced with a veto threat from President George W Bush, Democrats dropped efforts to tie the funds to a timetable for a US troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Comment: In other words its a sham - Democrats don't want a timed troop withdrawal. Which just happens to be the position of current Presidential front runner Hillary Clinton. Who, as it also happens, is quoted recently by sources as saying that "if she is elected and reelected, she expects to have troops in Iraq at the end of her second term." That's ten years.

The House of Representatives could vote on the Iraq funds later in the day.

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Cheney's White House office in flames. Symbolic?

Patrick J. Lyons
The New York Times
2007-12-19 11:39:00

Thick smoke is billowing from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington this morning, across the street from the West Wing of the White House, and flames were visible in an office suite on the third floor. Firefighters are on the scene, knocking out windows and combating the fire. Water, apparently from firefighters' work, could be seen pouring through a balustrade, and furniture has been pushed out on the balcony

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Religious freedom in military questioned

John Milburn
Associated Press
2007-12-19 09:19:00

A foundation that has sued the military alleging widespread violations of religious freedom said Tuesday that it has evidence showing that soldiers are pressured to adopt fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

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Presidential Candidate: 'Fascism' will be 'carrying a cross'

Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence
USA Today
2007-12-19 09:21:00

Asked about Republican rival Mike Huckabee's Christmas-themed ad, which we wrote about yesterday and has attracted attention in part because of the image of a cross that many see hovering over Huckabee's shoulder, GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul said this morning on FOX & Friends that:

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FBI Now Admits Evidence Used to Connect Oswald to Kennedy Assasination Was Bogus

Jonathan Elinoff
2007-12-19 06:29:00

The front page of the Sunday Washington Post features, "FBI Forensic Test Full of Holes." It claims that hundreds of defendants sitting in prisons nationwide have been convicted with the help of an FBI forensic tool that has been found to be completely full of inconsistent results and has actually been discarded by the FBI for such reasons more than two years ago. But the FBI lab has failed to take or attempt to alert any of the affected defendants or courts, even though the window for appealing convictions is closing.

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FBI's Forensic Test Full of Holes

John Solomon
Washington Post
2007-11-18 06:26:00

Lee Wayne Hunt is one of hundreds of defendants whose convictions are in question now that FBI forensic evidence has been discredited.

Hundreds of defendants sitting in prisons nationwide have been convicted with the help of an FBI forensic tool that was discarded more than two years ago. But the FBI lab has yet to take steps to alert the affected defendants or courts, even as the window for appealing convictions is closing, a joint investigation by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes" has found.

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The rush to clear police in shootings

Sam Roe, David Heinzmann and Steve Mills
Chicago Tribune
2007-12-05 06:21:00

- Nearly every shooting in last decade 'justified'
- Investigations ignore witnesses, forensics
- Shot-in-back findings raise questions

On a summer night in 2003, two patrol cars pulled over a driver in front of his South Side home for running a stop sign. Thinking police had chased the car earlier that night, four officers drew their guns and ordered the driver out.

The man's mother screamed from the sidewalk: "He can't walk! He's paralyzed! He can't get out of the car!"

When one officer thought the driver raised a gun, he opened fire, shooting the driver five times before reloading and shooting him once more.

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Planning the War on Immigrants

Tom Barry
2007-12-17 06:19:00

Politics can be an ugly affair, and it doesn't get any uglier than when politicians try to best one another in the politics of hate and scapegoating.

That's what is happening in America, as politicians and political candidates at all levels of government join the anti-immigration bandwagon. Meanwhile, immigrants who do the dirtiest work in America are living in fear as they face a generalized immigration crackdown and stepped-up immigration raids.

The war against immigrants and immigration is being fought on three main fronts: in Congress, in local and state government, and on the campaign trail. While the anti-immigration movement that is coursing through American politics is beyond the control of any individual or organization, the leading restrictionist policy institutes in Washington are setting the policy agenda of the anti-immigration forces at all levels of U.S. politics.

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Remember the Good Old Days, When the State Feared We-the-People?

Eva Liddell
2007-12-18 06:09:00

Although there may be an international outcry that the United States has over a hundred and sixty thousand private contractors who are up to no good in Iraq most Americans are greeting the news with a resigned shrug. Nothing this government does seems to surprise anybody anymore. George Bush isn't bothered by low approval ratings or the revelations of the crimes of his regime. He acts like he was just hoping some son-of-a-bitch wouldn't like it. And we the people seem to be that son-of-a-bitch.

Bush is a lucky man which could be one reason for his insouciance. Other presidents didn't have the luxury of ruling over a public whose social power is as weak as our present one. Lyndon Johnson didn't have Bush's luck. Richard Nixon didn't either.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Putin Named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year"

Associated Press
2007-12-19 17:54:00

©Time Magazine

Russian President Vladimir Putin was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" on Wednesday for imposing stability that restored Russia as a world power.

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Cyprus hands S300s missiles to Greece in arms swap

Jean Christou
Cyprus Mail
2007-12-19 07:12:00

The controversial Russian S300 missiles, which caused a crisis for the government of Glafcos Clerides nearly a decade ago, have been given to Greece permanently under an agreement signed yesterday.

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The Making of an "Exceptional" Monster: Josef Stalin

William Hughes
Baltimore IMC
2007-12-19 04:50:00

His father was a drunk who regularly beat him. His name was Josef Stalin. Born in Russia's Georgia, in 1878, under the rule of the Romanov Czars, he excelled as a student, while building up a deep resentment towards the cruel occupiers of his Caucasus region. Stalin became a Marxist revolutionist and a master conspirator. The book, Young Stalin, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, tells how this merciless, but extremely talented, psychopath was forged.


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UK: High court gags Iraqis' claims of abuse by troops

Richard Norton Taylor
The Guardian
2007-12-19 04:10:00

The Ministry of Defence has obtained a gagging order preventing the media from repeating allegations of abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers. A high court order bans newspapers and broadcasters from publishing details of the case reported in the Guardian two months ago.

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Russia wants more clarity on U.S. anti-missile plan

2007-12-19 03:32:00

RIGA - Russia wants more concrete reasons from Washington as to why it plans to build an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Speaking after finalizing a border agreement with the Baltic state of Latvia, 16 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Lavrov said written proposals from the U.S. side after meetings in October had lacked elements which had been verbally agreed.

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UK fire said to kill Danes in Afghanistan

2007-12-19 03:12:00

COPENHAGEN - Two Danish soldiers killed in Afghanistan while fighting Taliban insurgents were victims of friendly fire from a British unit, the Danish Army Central Command said on Tuesday.

The army said its investigation showed that the two soldiers were killed on September 26 by a Javelin anti-tank missile fired by British soldiers in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

Comment: Not so friendly fire!

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Kyrgyz court throws poll results into doubt

Agence France-Presse
2007-12-19 03:05:00

BISHKEK - Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court threw into doubt parliamentary election results on Tuesday by overturning a controversial measure that had helped prevent opposition parties winning seats.

Amid reports of spreading protests against the results of Sunday's election, Supreme Court Judge Kurmanbek Osmonov said the court was satisfying an appeal by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's Ak-Zhol party to annul an election commission ruling.

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Around the World
Pakistani train crashes; 58 dead, many hurt

Hamid Sheikh
2007-12-19 03:12:00

MEHRABPUR, Pakistan A Pakistani express train packed with holiday travelers derailed on Wednesday killing 58 people and injuring more than 120, officials said.

The Karachi Express night train was on its way from the southern city to Lahore when most of its carriages came off the rails and rammed into each other near the town of Mehrabpur, officials said.

A Pakistani express train packed with holiday travelers derailed on Wednesday killing 58 people and injuring more than 120, officials said.

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Colombian rebels order release of abducted Betancourt aide

Agence France-Presse
2007-12-19 03:08:00

BOGOTA - Colombian rebels said Tuesday in a statement that they had ordered the release of three hostages, including Clara Rojas, kidnapped in 2002 alongside French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

"The order to free them in Colombia has already been given," the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in a statement issued in Cuba and given to the Colombian government by the Cuban Ambassador to Bogota.

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Secret detention system in Pakistan exposed

2007-12-18 23:23:00

Pakistan has quietly released from a secret detention system nearly 100 terrorism suspects, many of whom were held without charge, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing Pakistani lawyers and human rights groups.

Opponents said those released were among some 500 Pakistanis believed to have been secretly detained by Pakistani intelligence agencies cooperating with Washington's fight against terrorism since 2001, the Times said on its web site.

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Zuma Is Chosen to Lead South Africa's A.N.C.

Michael Wines
The New York Times
2007-12-18 20:33:00

POLOKWANE, South Africa - The African National Congress chose the Zulu politician Jacob G. Zuma as its new leader on Tuesday, handing South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, a resounding defeat.

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Big Brother
"Don't Tase Me, Bro" Tops '07 Memorable Quote List

Arthur Spiegelman
2007-12-19 14:06:00

"Don't Tase Me, Bro," a phrase that swept the nation after a U.S. college student used it seeking to stop campus police from throwing him out of a speech by Sen. John Kerry, was named on Wednesday as the most memorable quote of 2007.

©Signs of the Times
University of Florida police forcibly attempt to escort a resisting Andrew Meyer out of the auditorium.

Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, said the plea made by University of Florida student Andrew Meyer on September 17, accompanied by Meyer's screams as he was tased, beat out the racial slur that cost shock jock Don Imus his job and the Iranian president's declaration that his country does not have homosexuals.

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Christopher Dodd's Speech on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Council on Foreign Relations
2007-12-18 21:05:00

Senator Dodd gave this speech on the Senate floor on December 17, 2007.

Mr. President:

I rise to urge my colleagues to vote against cloture on S. 2248, the FISA Amendments Act of 2007.

Opposing cloture is essential, because there is no unanimous consent agreement in place providing for the immediate adoption of the Judiciary Committee substitute amendment.

As you know, Mr. President, the Judiciary substitute amendment, among other things, strikes Title II of the Intelligence Committee bill - the title which seeks to provide retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who are alleged to have violated their customers' privacy rights by turning over information to the government without warrants.

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Axis of Evil
Israeli Knesset okeys declaring "special situation" in Gaza border area

2007-12-19 07:00:00

Jerusalem -- Israeli Knesset (parliament) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Wednesday authorized declaring a "special security situation" in Sderot and other communities along the border with Gaza Strip, local media reported.

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Trip for show: Bush to make first trip to Israel, West Bank

Olivier Knox
Middle East Online
2007-12-19 06:42:00

US President George W. Bush will make his first trip to Israel and the West Bank in January, hoping to help forge a peace deal before he leaves office one year later, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

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Hillary Clinton on Iraq

Stephen Zunes
Foreign Policy in Focus
2007-12-10 06:35:00

Public opinion polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans - and even a larger majority of Democrats - believe that Iraq is the most important issue of the day, that it was wrong for the United States to have invaded that country, and the United States should completely withdraw its forces in short order. Despite this, the clear front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination for president is Senator Hillary Clinton, a strident backer of the invasion who only recently and opportunistically began to criticize the war and call for a partial withdrawal of American forces.

As a result, it is important to review Senator Clinton's past and current positions regarding the Iraq War. Indeed, despite her efforts in response to public opinion polls to come across as an opponent of the war, Hillary Clinton has proven to be one of the most hard-line Democratic senators in support of a military response to the challenges posed by Iraq. She has also been less than honest in justifying her militaristic policies, raising concerns that she might support military interventions elsewhere.

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Bush May Be Forced to Explain Destroyed CIA Torture Tapes

John Dean
2007-12-18 22:22:00

An ACLU lawsuit might force the Bush administration to reveal what actually happened.

Comment: And we all know how Bush complies with any request or command to do anything he doesn't want to do. He ignores it!

By my count, there appear to be no less than ten preliminary investigations underway, following the revelation that the CIA destroyed at least two sets of videotapes (containing hundreds of hours of footage) of "advanced interrogation" techniques being employed in terrorism investigations. In fact, every branch of government is now involved.

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Flashback: Waiting for Godwin

David Neiwert
2003-08-25 16:42:00

One of the great bylaws of the blogosphere is Godwin's Law:

"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a widely recognized codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin's Law in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful.(67)

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Position Paper: Extra-Judicial Execution

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
2007-12-18 18:34:00

When we think of crimes against humanity, we must be aware that governments and governmental groups can be more dangerous than individuals in this regard. Governments have the most power to inflict harm and are most likely to be recidivist. This kind of terrorism is the most dangerous brand. Extra-judicial killing or physical liquidation is the most prevalent practice of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the Palestinians. It reveals the immoral nature of the Israeli government. Extra-judicial execution is a policy which is not new or exclusively used since 2000. It is an old, bloody policy that had been implemented by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians for decades. The list of the victims of this practice is too long to mention here.

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Officials: Israel to allow construction in existing W. Bank settlements

2007-12-18 18:14:00

©Nir Keidar
The West Bank settlement of Bruhin.

Israel will allow construction within built up areas of existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but will not expand beyond those areas, Israeli officials said on Monday.

Comment: A thief has been stealing everyday in a neighborhood. When caught, he promises that he will not steal more per day than he has been doing. See the analogy?

The position could widen the rift in U.S.-backed peace talks launched by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a regional peace summit held in Annapolis, Maryland last month.

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Middle East Madness
Jerusalem patriarch rejects Israel's jewish claim

Rebecca Harrison
2007-12-19 13:24:00

Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch criticised Israel on Wednesday for insisting Palestinians recognise it as a Jewish state and said God made the Holy Land for Muslims and Christians too.

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Second time refugees: Palestinian shepherds forced to move on

Relief Web
2007-12-19 06:29:00

"The best thing about Khirbet Qassa was the grazing land. We had open spaces. Now we've become dependent on other people and their land," said Abdel Halim Nattah, a shepherd in the southern West Bank.

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Propaganda Alert! Progress in Iraq security, but reconciliation still elusive: Pentagon

Agence France-Presse
2007-12-19 03:05:00

WASHINGTON - US forces have achieved "significant security progress" in Iraq over the past three months, though national reconciliation -- key for an eventual US withdrawal -- remains elusive, a Pentagon report out Tuesday said.

The report also says that Iran continues to funnel weapons to Shiite insurgents, despite reassurances by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he would help halt the flow.

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Assassination jars US's Syria detente. Mossad false flag?

Khody Akhavi
Asia Times
2007-12-18 20:25:00

When the George W Bush administration asked Damascus to attend last month's Annapolis conference, Emad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States, admits he was stunned...

But if there's one thing the past two weeks have shown, it's that the Bush White House appears ready to discard its chief imperative - "don't talk to your enemies, especially not the evil ones" - in favor a more conciliatory gesture: "Let's chat even if we may not like you."

But it seems that Washington's move towards rapprochement with Damascus is being strained again, and as usual the latest flash point is Lebanon, or rather, the assassination of a political figure in Lebanon. The latest victim, Major General Francois al-Hajj, drove past a car packed with 35 kilograms of TNT last week, which exploded, killing him and three of his colleagues.

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The Loan Gunmen
Morgan Stanley Sells Stake to China

Stephen Bernard
Associated Press
2007-12-19 10:40:00

Investment bank Morgan Stanley said Wednesday it sold a portion of itself to China Investment Corp., an investment arm of the Chinese government, for $5 billion to raise capital after taking $9.4 billion in writedowns on mortgage-related investments.

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Fed, ECB, Swiss Bank Loan $34 Billion at Auctions

Liz Capo McCormick
2007-12-19 13:52:00

The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank loaned $34 billion in 28-day funds through special auctions as part of a global attempt by central banks to restore faith in the money markets.

The Fed auctioned $20 billion in loans at an interest rate of 4.65 percent, less than the 4.75 percent the U.S. central bank charges financial institutions to borrow directly at its discount window, suggesting banks weren't desperate to obtain funds. The ECB auctioned $10 billion in loans denominated in dollars, while the Swiss National Bank lent $4 billion, the central banks said in statements today.

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Detroit: second highest foreclosure rate in US

Elisa Brehm
World Socialist Web Site
2007-12-19 11:17:00

The US sub-prime mortgage crisis is hitting Detroit with particular ferocity. The home foreclosure rate in the hard-hit industrial city is now the second highest in the country, affecting one out of every 21 homeowners - eight times the national average.

During the 1950s when Detroit's Big Three automakers - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - produced four out of five of the world's cars, the Motor City boasted the highest rate of home ownership of any major city in the US, along with the highest median income. Factory workers, many of whom had migrated from impoverished rural and coal mining regions in the South and Appalachia, were according to popular myth living the American Dream.

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The call for a culture change among Wall Street's titans

Financial Times
2007-12-19 04:18:00


John Thain recently spoke about his plans to revamp the senior management culture at Merrill Lynch, the Wall Street bank where he took over as chief executive on December 1. He pointed to the need for "a more co-operative team approach" at the senior level and changes in risk management. What is the best way of "revamping" the team culture at the top level? Do investment bankers require a different approach from other kinds of managers? And in an industry where talented individuals are free to move between firms, is the best course of action simply to replace the incumbents?

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Bush's bid to punish Iranian banks stalls

Farah Stockman
The Boston Globe/IHT
2007-12-19 03:38:00

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration's new policy of penalizing Iranian banks is facing a critical challenge as financial institutions in Russia, China and much of the Middle East decline to cut ties, analysts and diplomats say.

Even Afghanistan and Iraq have so far declined to take action against Bank Melli, Iran's largest public financial institution, which was among the first foreign banks to open branches in Kabul and Baghdad.

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Fed Governors urged Greenspan for years investigate fraudulent mortgages. He refused.

Edmund L. Andrews
The New York Times
2007-12-18 20:56:00

WASHINGTON - Until the boom in subprime mortgages turned into a national nightmare this summer, the few people who tried to warn federal banking officials might as well have been talking to themselves.

Edward M. Gramlich, a Federal Reserve governor who died in September, warned nearly seven years ago that a fast-growing new breed of lenders was luring many people into risky mortgages they could not afford.

But when Mr. Gramlich privately urged Fed examiners to investigate mortgage lenders affiliated with national banks, he was rebuffed by Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman.

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Detroit Revival Vies With Industry's Decline

Micheline Maynard and Nick Bunkley
The New York Times
2007-12-18 20:51:00

For decades, city leaders and local business executives here have been predicting an imminent revival of their desolate downtown. For all their cheerleading, though, nothing much changed...

But finally, downtown Detroit is showing signs of life - just as the automobile industry, its life force, is facing a further decline in 2008.

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The Living Planet
Saharan Dust has chilling effect on North Atlantic

NASA News Archive
2007-12-19 12:24:00

NASA satellites have provided evidence that the chilling effect of dust was responsible for one-third of the drop in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures between June 2005 and 2006, possibly contributing to the difference in hurricane activity between the two seasons.

Heat from warm ocean surfaces is known to fuel hurricanes, leading to stronger and more frequent storms. During the hurricane season of 2006, however, sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic remained relatively cool and the season saw only five hurricanes, compared to 15 hurricanes in 2005 when the ocean surface was warmer.

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Powerful 7.2 quake shakes Alaska's Aleutian Islands

2007-12-19 08:10:00

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the western end of Alaska's Aleutian Islands early Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Historic Halos in Oslo

2007-12-19 07:34:00

On December 16th, the skies above Oslo, Norway, stunned onlookers with a display of ice halos that "looks set to go down in halo history as one of the greatest ever," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley.

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New Giant Rat, Pygmy Possum Discovered Among Other Beauties

National Geographic
2007-12-19 00:26:00

©National Geographic

Mammal expert Martua Sinaga holds a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) rat that may be a species new to science. The rat was found in the remote Foja Mountains of western New Guinea, Indonesia, on a June 2007 expedition, experts announced yesterday.

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Health & Wellness
Creative work has health advantages, study shows

University of Texas at Austin
2007-12-19 16:12:00

Employees who have more control over their daily activities and do challenging work they enjoy are likely to be in better health, according to a new study from The University of Texas at Austin published in this month's Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

"The most important finding is that creative activity helps people stay healthy," said lead author John Mirowsky, a sociology professor with the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin. "Creative activity is non-routine, enjoyable and provides opportunity for learning and for solving problems. People who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems."

Although people who work do give up some control over their daily activities, the study found that being employed leads to better health generally, regardless of the amount of creativity required in their work.

"One thing that surprised us was that the daily activities of employed persons are more creative than those of non-employed persons of the same sex, age and level of education," Mirowsky said.

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Lung cancer 'link to lack of sun'

2007-12-19 15:27:00

Lack of sunlight may increase the risk of lung cancer, a study suggests.

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Can Nerves Grow and Regenerate?

Rafael B.
The People's Media Company
2007-12-19 05:33:00

Can nerves grow and regenerate? The answer may be yes, according to a new research published in the journal Advanced Materials. This research shows that nerves from the central system, known as neurons, can grow and regenerate with the appropriate technique.

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Study backs newer technique for lung blood clots

2007-12-18 23:56:00

A newer type of scan to detect potentially deadly blood clots in the lungs works as well as an older technique it has largely replaced, researchers said on Tuesday.

A Canadian team led by Dr. David Anderson of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said the study was the first to compare computed tomography or CT angiography with the older ventilation-perfusion scans.

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Many kids may not outgrow cow's milk allergy

2007-12-18 23:48:00

Cow's milk allergy persists longer than previously reported, and the majority of children may retain the sensitivity into school age, study findings suggest.

©REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Cows graze in a field near the eastern German village of Pudlitz, July 30, 2007. The sign reads 'Our Milk'.

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Science & Technology
Got fleas? Get the vacuum

Maggie Fox
2007-12-19 17:00:00

Vacuum cleaners kill fleas just as well as any poison, surprised U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said a standard vacuum cleaner abuses the fleas so much it kills 96 percent of adult fleas and 100 percent of younger fleas.

So no need to worry that a vacuum cleaner bag may turn into a fleabag breeding ground for the pesky, biting creatures, said Glen Needham, associate professor of entomology at Ohio State University.

Needham studied the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis, the most common type of flea found in households.

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Alien Ants Devour Locals, Then Go Vegetarian

2007-12-19 15:11:00

Carnivorous Argentine ants that have invaded coastal California devour other insects. When that food's gone, the ants become vegetarians.

The amazingly adaptive behavior, detailed in what is the first study of this ant's diet, has allowed the invaders to spread successfully and rapidly.

The tiny dark-brown and black critters, an invasive species originally from Argentina, have infested coastal communities and displaced native ant species, even though many of the locals are 10 times larger than the Argentinians.

The new finding, based on an eight-year study of a population of ants in the foothills southeast of San Diego, reveals how the alien ants thrive so well in a foreign land. Their success is linked to their dietary versatility, according to results detailed in this week's online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

©Credit: Marc Dantzker
Argentine ants fighting. These ants are thought to have come to the United States from Argentina aboard ships in the 1890s.

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Monkeys Do Math Like Humans

Charles Q. Choi
2007-12-19 16:19:00

Monkeys can perform mental addition in a manner remarkably similar to college students, a new study shows.

The researchers stressed that monkeys will not pass college math tests anytime soon. Nevertheless, the finding promises to shed light on the ancient origins of math in humanity and our distant relatives.

Humans possess a sophisticated repertoire of mathematical capabilities unmatched anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Still, there is increasing evidence that at least some of these abilities are shared with other animals. For instance, many animals can figure out which of two sets of dots is larger or smaller.

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Ancient Sculptures Coated in Blood

Charles Q. Choi
2007-12-19 15:02:00

Sculptors from the extraordinarily wealthy ancient Mali Empire - once the source of nearly half the world's gold - at times coated their works of art with blood, scientists confirmed for the first time.

At its height, the empire, which lasted from the 13th century to the 17th century, extended over an area larger than Western Europe and was renowned for its gold mines.

Researchers have often reported or suspected the presence of blood on many African relics, purportedly shed during ancient ceremonies involving animal sacrifice. While crusts or patinas supposedly made of blood have been found on many such artifacts, accurately confirming the presence of blood has proven hard because little has remained on the objects over the ages.

©Credit: Daniel Vigears, Center for Research and Restoration for the Museums of France.
A new, highly sensitive analytical test was used to confirm the presence of blood in the coating of this humanoid artifact used in ancient Mali rituals.

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The Incredible Art of Bacteria

2007-12-19 12:39:00

Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel-Aviv University and Professor Herbert Levine of UCSD's National Science Foundation Frontier Center for Theoretical Biological Physics watched bacteria solve problems in the petri dish for years. In doing so, they caught bacteria in the act of creating beautiful art.

"While the colors and shading are artistic additions, the image templates are actual colonies of tens of billions of these microorganisms," according to the researchers. "The colony structures form as adaptive responses to laboratory-imposed stresses that mimic hostile environments faced in nature. They illustrate the coping strategies that bacteria have learned to employ, strategies that involve cooperation through communication. These selfsame strategies are used by the bacteria in their struggle to defeat our best antibiotics...

©Credit: Eshel Ben-Jacob et al., Tel-Aviv University
Colonies of tens of billions of microorganisms create their own artwork as they adapt to stresses in a petri dish. Scientists add the colors and shading.

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The mother of all civilisations in South Americas?

Shobhan Saxena
The Times of India
2007-12-19 01:03:00

The ruins were so magnificent and sprawling that some people believed that the aliens from a faraway galaxy had built the huge pyramids that stood in the desert across the Andes.

Some historians believed that the complex society, which existed at that time, was born out of fear and war. They looked for the telltale signs of violence that they believed led to the creation of this civilisation. But, they could not find even a hint of any warfare. It was baffling. Even years after Ruth Shady Solis found the ancient city of pyramids at Caral in Peru, it continues to surprise historians around the world. It took Ruth Shady many years and many rounds of carbon dating to prove that the earliest known civilisation in South Americas - at 2,627 BC - was much older than the Harappa Valley towns and the pyramids of Egypt.

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Egypt's Oldest Known Art Identified, Is 15,000 Years Old

Dan Morrison
National Geographic
2007-07-11 00:49:00

©Dirk Huyge
Etchings at Qurta, located about 400 miles (640 kilometers) south of Cairo, Egypt, depict a now extinct species of wild cow. The rediscovered artwork - similar in look and age to iconic paintings in Spain and France - pushes "Egyptian art, religion, and culture back to a much earlier time," archaeologists say.

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Surprise Finds at Egypt Temple "Change Everything"

Steven Stanek
National Geographic
2007-12-19 00:03:00

©Steven Stanek
Recent discoveries at Egypt's Temple of Amun at Karnak include a private ramp (top) likely used by the pharaoh Taharka to enter the temple from his royal boat and a pair of public baths (bottom) in which worshippers bathed before entering the holy site.

A series of surprising discoveries has been made at the foot of Egypt's famous Temple of Amun at Karnak, archaeologists say.

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New phone device allows you to 'speak' through your ear

Agence France-Presse
2007-12-18 23:03:00

A Japanese company Tuesday unveiled a new device that will allow people to "speak" through their ear so they can use their mobile telephones in noisy places.


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Our Haunted Planet

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Pedestrian charged for walking over car

2007-12-18 23:40:00

A pedestrian has been charged with damaging property after walking over a car that was parked illegally on the sidewalk in Greece's congested capital.

"I could not get past the vehicle, a four-wheel drive, which had been parked right on the pavement so I got angry and just walked over it, slightly denting its hood," Tasos Pouliasis told state television Tuesday.

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