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UK Government 'may sanction nerve-agent use on rioters', scientists fear

UK riot
Leading neuroscientists believe that the UK Government may be about to sanction the development of nerve agents for British police that would be banned in warfare under an international treaty on chemical weapons.

A high-level group of experts has asked the Government to clarify its position on whether it intends to develop "incapacitating chemical agents" for a range of domestic uses that go beyond the limited use of chemical irritants such as CS gas for riot control.

The experts were commissioned by the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of sciences, to investigate new developments in neuroscience that could be of use to the military. They concluded that the Government may be preparing to exploit a loophole in the Chemical Weapons Convention allowing the use of incapacitating chemical agents for domestic law enforcement.

The 1993 convention bans the development, stockpiling and use of nerve agents and other toxic chemicals by the military but there is an exemption for certain chemical agents that could be used for "peaceful" domestic purposes such as policing and riot control.

Extinguisher

'Apocalyptic' blast at Russian power plant stops motorists in their tracks

An accident at power station in Russia lights up the sky above a busy highway and knocks out electricity in south St Petersburg.


A video recorded on the dashboard camera of a car has captured a the moment an apocalyptic flash of light filled the Moscow sky.

Bad Guys

Hundreds of 9/11 Cops Diagnosed with Cancer

NYPD
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center took the lives of 23 NYPD officers who responded to the scene that day.

In the decade since though, the number of cops that have died from cancer is more than double that number, and the link, experts say, is astounding.

Before the 9/11 tragedy, an average of six NYPD cops filed claims for cancer-related disability each year. Around 12,000 men and women were dispatched to Ground Zero on September 11, and a decade down the road, the number of annual cancer claims has nearly tripled. Today there around 16 police officers each year in New York that are applying for cancer-related disability insurance, and the statistic has some saying that it is more than a coincidence.

In all, 297 cops that came to the scene of the September 11 terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan have been diagnosed with cancer since late 2001. 56 of them have passed away from their illnesses and the average age of diagnosis is only 44 years old. Less than half of that number - 23 police officers - were actually killed on the scene at Ground Zero.

Ambulance

Deadliest Crash in Years Kills 11 in Canada

Hampstead, Ontario -- Ten migrant farm workers from Peru were killed when a flat bed hit a passenger van in rural Canada on Monday afternoon, police and the workers' employer said. The truck driver also was killed.

Three other passengers were critically injured, The Globe and Mail reported.

The crash, the deadliest in Ontario since 1999, will leave at least 10 families in another country without a breadwinner, according to the Globe and Mail.

Police said one survivor was airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, and two others were seriously injured.

"On behalf of 13 million Ontarians, I want to offer our deepest condolences to those who lost a loved one and to offer our most sincere prayers for those taken to hospital," Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a statement.

No names of the victims have been released. Albert Burgers, who owns the farm where the workers were Monday before the crash, said some had been with his crew for more than 10 years.

Police told the CEO of the truck company, Speedy Transport, that the van apparently went through a stop sign and was hit by the truck.

The impact sent the van hurtling across a lawn before smashing into a house. The van's passenger side was nearly ripped off.

"I've been on the job for 28 years and I've never seen anything like it," Inspector Steve Porter told the newspaper as he stood near the scene after dark.

The Associated contributed to this report.

People

Iran's Middle Class on Edge as World Presses In

Iranian woman
© n/a
Tehran - One measure of the profound anxiety now coursing through Iranian society can be seen on Manouchehri Street, a winding lane at the heart of this city where furtive crowds of men gather every day like drug dealers to buy and sell American dollars.

The government has raised the official exchange rate and sent police into the streets to stop the black marketeers, but with confidence in Iran's own currency, the rial, collapsing by the day, the trade goes on.

"Am I afraid of the police? Sure, but I need the money," said Hamid, a heavyset construction engineer who was standing by a muddy patch of greenery amid a crowd of other illicit currency traders here. "Food prices are going up, and my salary is not enough." Glancing nervously around him, he added that he had converted almost all of his assets into dollars. Like many Iranians, he had also stockpiled months' worth of rice and other staples.

The fuel for this manic trade is not an actual economic collapse - the new European oil embargo has yet to take effect, and there is plenty of food on the shelves - but a rising sense of panic about Iran's encirclement, the possibility of war and the prospect of more economic pain to come. The White House announced a further tightening on Monday aimed at freezing Iranian assets and constricting the activities of Iran's Central Bank.

V

US: Occupy Movement at Crossroads


When the Occupy Wall Street movement came to Austin four months ago, there was a big party. About 1,300 people gathered at City Hall for a celebration with live music. Protesters posed for pictures with smiling police officers.

But Friday night, in a sign of the protest movement's burgeoning identity crisis, police moved in and dismantled the Occupy Austin encampment at City Hall. The city said it no longer could afford the cost of police overtime and site maintenance.

It was a week when authorities across the nation took similar action, from McPherson Square in Washington, D.C., to Thomas Square in Honolulu. It raised once again the question of whether the Occupy movement has a future, and if so, what kind.

Shoe

US: Maryland Mall Evacuated & Locked Down After Sneaker Fight


Brawls break out at a Maryland mall over shoes. And it's not the first time shoppers have gone too far for Nikes. Kai Jackson explains what's driving the chaos.

The store had more anxious customers than they had sneakers for sale - and that was a recipe for trouble.

Valley Mall in Hagerstown is peaceful now, but a sneaker, Nike's new Foam tennis shoe, caused near-riot conditins inside the mall on Saturday, like a melee at another mall in December after Nike released a popular pair of Air jordans.

"Just a fight going on down there at Foot Locker. Arguments; someone said that there was knives pulled," said mall employee Cassandra Jenkins.

Dollar

US: Designer Gear for Obama Raising a Ruckus

Republicans Contend Relatively Low-Cost Items to Be Sold at Fund-Raiser May Amount to Campaign-Finance Violations

Image
© unknown
A nylon tote bag designed by Diane von Furstenberg and selling for $85.

Move over, PACs. The latest campaign-finance flap is about sacks.

At a New York fund-raising event Tuesday called "Runway to Win," President Barack Obama's re-election campaign plans to begin selling campaign-themed tote bags, T-shirts and accessories designed by more than two dozen famous designers.

Attendees can purchase a tote bag designed by Derek Lam for $75. A collectible makeup bag created by Richard Blanch with nail polish in Red-y To Win Red, Victory White and Bo Blue is going for $40. And a silk scarf featuring Mr. Obama's likeness by Thakoon Panichgul is $95. Profits from the sales will go to Mr. Obama's campaign chest.

Republicans contend the sale might violate campaign-finance rules. The gear will sell for a fraction of the price the designers' merchandise typically fetches at department stores. Republicans say that suggests they relied on corporate resources to keep costs low, which could amount to illegal campaign contributions. On Mr. Lam's website, handbags range in price from $340 to $1,890. The three scarves offered on Mr. Thakoon's website go for $325 apiece.

Info

Grading The Online Dating Industry

Online Dating
© Association for Psychological Science
New Scientific Report Finds Some Positives, Many Areas for Improvement

The report card is in, and the online dating industry won't be putting this one on the fridge. A new scientific report concludes that although online dating offers users some very real benefits, it falls far short of its potential.

Unheard of just twenty years ago, online dating is now a billion dollar industry and one of the most common ways for singles to meet potential partners. Many websites claim that they can help you find your "soulmate." But do these online dating services live up to all the hype?

Not exactly, according to an article to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In the article, a team of psychological scientists aims to get at the truth behind online dating, identifying the ways in which online dating may benefit or undermine singles' romantic outcomes.

Lead author Eli Finkel, Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Northwestern University, recognizes that "online dating is a marvelous addition to the ways in which singles can meet potential romantic partners," but he warns that "users need to be aware of its many pitfalls."

Many online dating sites claim that they possess an exclusive formula, a so-called "matching algorithm," that can match singles with partners who are especially compatible with them. But, after systematically reviewing the evidence, the authors conclude that such claims are unsubstantiated and likely false.

Handcuffs

US: One Nation, Under Guard

police fish-eye
© n/a
from the with-liberty-and-justice-for-some dept

Bad news about the impending police state here in America: it's already here. From the indefinite detention (without trial) of terrorism suspects both foreign and American to the escalating militarization of our nation's police forces, there's little to indicate that any level of government is willing to "walk back" the overreach of law enforcement, much of which stems from the Patriot Act's anti-terrorism aims.

The New Yorker recently published a piece on incarceration in America, highlighting some very disturbing facts about the "land of the free:"
The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.

More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today-perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system-in prison, on probation, or on parole-than were in slavery then. Over all, there are now more people under "correctional supervision" in America-more than six million-than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.