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Dirty air triggers more heart attacks than cocaine

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© Unknown
Air pollution triggers more heart attacks than using cocaine and poses as high a risk of sparking a heart attack as alcohol, coffee and physical exertion, scientists said on Thursday.

Sex, anger, marijuana use and chest or respiratory infections and can also trigger heart attacks to different extents, the researchers said, but air pollution, particularly in heavy traffic, is the major culprit.

The findings, published in The Lancet journal, suggest population-wide factors like polluted air should be taken more seriously when looking at heart risks, and should be put into context beside higher but relatively rarer risks like drug use.

Tim Nawrot of Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said he hoped his findings would also encourage doctors to think more often about population level risks.

"Physicians are always looking at individual patients -- and low risk factors might not look important at an individual level, but if they are prevalent in the population then they have a greater public health relevance," he said in a telephone interview.

Newspaper

Georgia, US: Crying Toddler 4 Hours in Shut Bank Vault

Conyers - A 14-month-old girl who wandered away from her mother and grandmother spent several tense hours trapped inside a time-locked bank vault and authorities pumped fresh air through vents to the crying child until a locksmith freed her, police said.

The locksmith pried the toddler unharmed from the vault Friday night about four hours after she went missing while visiting a grandparent who worked at a Wells Fargo bank branch in the greater Atlanta suburb of Conyers, police said.

Authorities say police and firefighters couldn't free the toddler and feverishly summoned the locksmith after the child apparently strayed into the open vault as the bank was closing Friday - before an employee shut the vault door for the day.

Conyers Police Chief Gene Wilson told reporters it was a "very tense scene" as authorities stood by along with the relatives, and rescue workers pumped fresh air into vents leading to the vault.

Ambulance

Many Locked-In Syndrome Patients Happy

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© Unknown
Glasgow University Tower
London - You are awake, aware and probably unable to move or talk - but you are not necessarily unhappy, says the largest study of locked-in syndrome ever conducted.

A surprising number of patients with the condition say they are happy, despite being paralyzed and having to communicate mainly by moving their eyes. Most cases are caused by major brain damage, often sustained in traumatic accidents.

As part of the study - published in the online journal BMJ Open on Wednesday, Dr. Steven Laureys of the Coma Science Group at the University Hospital of Liege in Belgium and colleagues sent questionnaires to 168 members of the French Association for Locked-in Syndrome, asking them about their medical history, their emotional state and views on euthanasia.

Sixty-five patients used a scale to indicate their sense of well-being, with 47 saying they were happy and 18 unhappy. They were also asked a variety of questions about their lives, including their ability to get around or participate in social functions, or if they had ever considered euthanasia.

Only a handful of patients said they often had suicidal thoughts. The patients responded to questions largely by blinking.

Wall Street

Iran Reports a Major Setback at a Nuclear Power Plant

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© Majid Asgaripour/AFP/Getty Images
The reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran. Operation of the long-anticipated facility has been delayed.
Iran told atomic inspectors this week that it had run into a serious problem at a newly completed nuclear reactor that was supposed to start feeding electricity into the national grid this month, raising questions about whether the trouble was sabotage, a startup problem, or possibly the beginning of the project's end.

In a report on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran told inspectors on Wednesday that it was planning to unload nuclear fuel from its Bushehr reactor - the sign of a major upset. For years, Tehran has hailed the reactor as a showcase of its peaceful nuclear intentions and its imminent startup as a sign of quickening progress.

But nuclear experts said the giant reactor, Iran's first nuclear power plant, now threatens to become a major embarrassment, as engineers remove 163 fuel rods from its core.

Iran gave no reason for the unexpected fuel unloading, but it has previously admitted that the Stuxnet computer worm infected the Bushehr reactor. On Friday, computer experts debated whether Stuxnet was responsible for the surprising development.

Russia, which provided the fuel to Iran, said earlier this month that the worm's infection of the reactor should be investigated, arguing that it might trigger a nuclear disaster. Other experts said those fears were overblown, but noted that the full workings of the Stuxnet worm remained unclear.

Newspaper

Robert Fisk with the first dispatch from Tripoli - a city in the shadow of death

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© AP
A fire burns in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours of yesterday morning
Gunfire in the suburbs - and hunger and rumour in the capital as thousands race for last tickets out of a city sinking into anarchy

Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli's international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi's rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front.

Among them were Gaddafi's fellow Arabs, thousands of them Egyptians, some of whom had been living at the airport for two days without food or sanitation. The place stank of faeces and urine and fear. Yet a 45-minute visit into the city for a new airline ticket to another destination is the only chance to see Gaddafi's capital if you are a "dog" of the international press.

There was little sign of opposition to the Great Leader. Squads of young men with Kalashnikov rifles stood on the side roads next to barricades of upturned chairs and wooden doors. But these were pro-Gaddafi vigilantes - a faint echo of the armed Egyptian "neighbourhood guard" I saw in Cairo a month ago - and had pinned photographs of their leader's infamous Green Book to their checkpoint signs.

Padlock

Irish elections: Fianna Fáil government routed, according to exit poll

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© Niall Carson/PA
Irish election exit polls point to Enda Kenny becoming new prime minister.
Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, poised to become Ireland's prime minister if he can broker a deal with second-placed Labour

Ireland's most dominant political party, Fianna Fáil, is on the road to an historic and devastating defeat in the republic's general election.

Just months after accepting an EU/IMF bailout, the government is likely to be beaten into third place by a slew of independent candidates.

The scale of Fianna Fáil's losses are so great that a number of high-profile ministers, including finance minister Brian Lenihan, who negotiated the bailout, are in danger of losing their seats. His outgoing ministerial colleague Mary Hanafin also faces the possibility of being unseated in her Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown constituency.

Bad Guys

'Slavery and the rule of one person is finished - it's finished': Libya's UN ambassador denounces Gaddafi

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© GETTY
Libya's ambassador to the United Nations Abdel Rahman Shalgam speaks to the UN Security Council
The Libyan ambassador to the UN, who is one of Colonel Gaddafi's oldest friends, denounced the embattled leader on Friday night and urged the world to punish him.

Abdurrahman Shalgam, an ally of Gaddafi since the pair were teenage radicals in the late 1950s, compared the leader's actions to those of Pol Pot and Hitler and backed the protesters in Tripoli.

In an emotional speech to the UN Security Council in New York, Mr Shalgam, who had previously remained loyal, said: "Muammar Gaddafi is telling the Libyans 'either I rule you or I kill you'." He told the 15 members of the council, who are considering an Anglo-French plan for sanctions against the Gaddafi regime: "We need a courageous resolution from you".

Outside the chamber, he gave another speech in which he pleaded for the outside world to do something "within hours, not days" to stop the bloodshed in the country.

Mr Shalgam said Gaddafi had lost the support of "90 per cent" of his diplomats and predicted further revolution in the middle-east.

"Slavery and the rule of one person is finished - it's finished," he said.

Display

Who decides what's relevant? Websites to Google: 'You're killing our business!'

google
© Unknown
Google made one of the biggest changes ever to its search results this week, which immediately had a noticeable effect on many Web properties that rely on the world's biggest search engine to drive traffic to their sites.

The major tweak aims to move better quality content to the top of Google's search rankings. The changes will affect 12% Google's results, the company said in a blog post late Thursday.

"Our goal is simple: to give users the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible," said Gabriel Stricker, Google spokesman. "This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content -- both good and bad -- comes online all the time. Recently we've heard from our users that they want to see fewer low quality sites in our results."

Yoda

To Call A Spade A Spade: An Interview with Gilad Atzmon

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Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon is an outstandingly charming man. He is often described by music critics as one of the finest contemporary jazz saxophonists. But Atzmon is more than just a musician: for those who follow events in the Middle East, he is considered to be one of the most credible voices amongst Israeli opponents. In the last decade he has relentlessly exposed and denounced barbarian Israeli policies. Just before his departure on a European Spring Tour, "The Tide Has Changed ", with his band the Orient House Ensemble, he spoke to Silvia Cattori.

Silvia Cattori: As a jazz musician, what brought you to use your pen as a weapon against the country where you were born and against your people?

Gilad Atzmon: For many years my music and writings were not integrated at all. I became a musician when I was seventeen and I took it up as a profession when I was twenty four. Though I was not involved with, or interested in politics when I lived in Israel, I was very much against Israel's imperial wars. I identified somehow with the left, but later, when I started to grasp what the Israeli left was all about, I could not find myself in agreement with anything it claimed to believe in, and that is when I realised the crime that was taking place in Palestine.

Syringe

Officials Warn of Rising Fatalities From Painkiller Abuse Epidemic

Public health officials are warning of an epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse, pointing to a five-fold increase in fatal overdoses since 1990.

More than 27,000 people, a record high, died from overdoses of such powerful drugs as Oxycontin and Vicodin in 2007, according to data presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at a forum last week in Atlanta. "Just about the only mortality statistic that is getting worse is death from prescription opioid abuse," said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

The featured panelist at the "Grand Rounds" CDC event was U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, who said the Obama administration has made combating prescription painkiller abuse a top priority. In its proposed National Drug Control Strategy, the administration has called for a 15 percent reduction in drug-induced deaths over five years.

Nationwide, the overall number of drug-induced deaths - which are, in large part, attributable to prescription painkillers - is approaching the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes.