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Judge gives go-ahead to add fluoride to city's tap water supply - despite overwhelming public opposition

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© Getty Images
Plans to add fluoride to tap water in Southampton were endorsed by a judge yesterday
United Kingdom - Plans to add fluoride to tap water in a major city were endorsed by a judge yesterday despite overwhelming public opposition.

Mr Justice Holman rejected claims that the decision-making process was defective and dismissed a legal challenge to the scheme in Southampton.

Hampshire council and three quarters of residents oppose the plans drawn up by the strategic health authority. But dentists say the scheme will cut tooth decay in children.

Just 10 per cent of England's water is fluoridated, covering 5.5million people, mainly in the North East and West Midlands. The last fluoridation scheme was introduced in 1985.

Refusing a claim for judicial review by Southampton mother-of-three Geraldine Milner, the judge said there had been no illegality.

'It is important to stress that our democratic Parliament decided long ago that water can, in certain circumstances, be fluoridated,' he added.

Attention

China's drought threatens global food security

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This is not looking good folks
China's $2.85 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and the serious drought it is facing in its wheat producing north pose a serious danger to global food security, especially in the food importing developing world, according to an nytimes.com report Feb 8.

China's state media reported Feb 7 that the country's major wheat producing provinces in the north were facing their worst drought in 60 years. It also reported Feb 8 that Shandong Province, a cornerstone of Chinese grain production, was bracing for its worst drought in 200 years unless substantial precipitation came by the end of Feb'11.

But with $2.85 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, nearly three times that of Japan, the country with the world's second-largest reserves, China has ample buying power to prevent any serious food shortages, noted the nytimes.com report.

"They can buy whatever they need to buy, and they can outbid anyone," it quoted Robert S. Zeigler, the director general of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, in the Philippines, as saying. That will obviously mean serious trouble for other developing food-importing countries.

Che Guevara

Bolivian President Evo Morales flees town ahead of speech after angry miners throw dynamite in protest at food shortages

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© Reuters
Out of favour: Bolivian President Evo Morales is under fire over rising prices, with protesters throwing dynamite at a march in Oruro yesterday
Bolivian President Evo Morales has abruptly abandoned a mining town after protesters angered by rising prices booed him and set off dynamite.

Mr Morales was due to speak on the anniversary of a colonial uprising in Oruro but canceled plans to participate in a march yesterday after demonstrations against rising food prices and shortages.

There were also protests in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, and the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba.

The Bolivian populace are angry over a near doubling in the price of sugar after the government lifted subsidies.

The president's popularity has plummeted since he tried to lift subsidies on gasoline, flour and sugar in December.

He subsequently abandoned the effort - but did remove price controls on sugar.

As he prepared to deliver a speech in Oruro yesterday, the capital of his home province, protesters set off explosions to voice their unhappiness at the price rises.

Arrow Down

UK: Food shortages leave thousands in dire straits

Food convoys are delivering emergency aid to desperate people - in Devon.

A charity that normally helps starving orphans in Romania and Bulgaria is on a relief mercy mission in Okehampton after the town's two biggest employers closed.

People queued down the street outside a food distribution centre yesterday.

Local councillor Christine Marsh said: "This is a dire emergency. Families don't have any food or money to buy food."

The town of 7,000 people was rocked when a pie factory closed suddenly a week ago with the loss of 260 jobs. Workers had not been paid since mid-January.

Days earlier a large dairy had shut, chopping 70 jobs.

Dad-of-six Karl Jansz, 47, who lost his pie factory job, said: "I worked there for 25 years. My wife also worked there. We were left in a mess."

Che Guevara

Iraqi forces guard Green Zone from protest as Arabian revolution spreads

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Iraqi police officers in riot gear stand guard during a protest against the lack of basic services in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Iraqi security forces stopped demonstrators from entering the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, sources said.

Waves of political unrest are sweeping across the Arab world in the wake of the revolution in Tunisia and the ongoing demonstrations in Egypt, which were largely peaceful Friday.

Protesters in Baghdad told the Voices of Iraq news agency that they wanted more jobs, improved social services and a less corrupt government. Many Iraqis are without jobs and electricity more than seven years after the U.S.-led invasion.

There were several protests reported by the news agency in Basra, the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala and the restive northern city of Kirkuk. Army helicopters were reported hovering over the Green Zone, the heavily fortified administrative center.

No Entry

Algeria shuts down internet and Facebook as hundreds of protesters are arrested

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© EPA
Algerian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Algiers
Internet providers were shut down and Facebook accounts deleted across Algeria on Saturday as thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations.

Plastic bullets and tear gas were used to try and disperse large crowds in major cities and towns, with 30,000 riot police taking to the streets in Algiers alone.

There were also reports of journalists being targeted by state-sponsored thugs to stop reports of the disturbances being broadcast to the outside world.

But it was the government attack on the internet which was of particular significance to those calling for an end to President Abdelaziz Boutifleka's repressive regime.

Protesters mobilising through the internet were largely credited with bringing about revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

"The government doesn't want us forming crowds through the internet," said Rachid Salem, of Co-ordination for Democratic Change in Algeria.

USA

Top US military commander to visit Israel, Jordan

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Don't anybody move till I get there!
Washington - The top US military commander will visit Israel and Jordan Sunday and Monday to reaffirm US support following the collapse of the presidency of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen will begin his trip in Amman where he will meet with King Abdullah II and his Jordanian counterpart, Lieutenant General Meshaal Al-Zabn.

"He will discuss security issues of mutual concern and reassure both these key partners of the US military's commitment to that partnership," Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said.

In Israel, Mullen will hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and the country's military leaders.

The visit comes after Mubarak stepped down Friday after 30 years, handing power to the military after more than a million people took to the streets in the culmination of an 18-day uprising in Egypt.

Eagle

Ron Paul to U.S. Government: Stop Propping Up Dictators!

Ron Paul speaks with Wolf Blitzer on Egypt and the GOP nomination during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).


Oscar

US: Congressman Ron Paul Wins Presidential Straw Poll at CPAC -- Again

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© AP
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011
For the second year in a row, Ron Paul won the presidential straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, earning 30 percent of the vote.

The Texas congressman, known for his libertarian views, ran for president in 2008 but was never a serious contender for the GOP nomination.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a 2008 GOP candidate who is expected to run again, came in second place with 23 percent of the vote. Romney won the previous three presidential straw polls before Paul snapped his streak last year.

Many convention-goers booed when the results were announced but the Paul supporters drowned them out with chants of "Ron Paul! Ron Paul! Ron Paul!"

Paul's consecutive victories in the straw poll have frustrated many GOP faithful who would rather see a more credible contender win. A CPAC official told Fox News that the big story is not Paul winning again but rather the strength of Romney's second-place finish.

Che Guevara

Yemen Protests Revived in 'Friday of Rage'

yemen protests
© Reuters
Aden, Yemen - Around 3,000 people took to the streets across southern Yemen in a "Friday of Rage", demanding secession from the north, but heavily deployed security forces quickly stamped out protests, residents said.

The protests come in the lull after a wave of anti-government rallies spread across Yemen over the past two weeks, inspired by the revolts that ousted Tunisia's former president and the uprising in Egypt that threatens President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

"Revolution, revolution for the South," protesters chanted in the flashpoint cities of Aden, Dalea and Zinjibar.

Yemen experts say the real danger to the three-decade rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key U.S. ally against al Qaeda, is if protesters from his political opposition join with rebel groups such as the separatists in the south and the Shi'ite insurgents he has made a shaky truce with in the north.