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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.

Shoe

Protesters killed in Iraqi 'day of rage'

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© Reuters
The crowds tried to pull down concrete security barriers in the centre of Baghdad
At least nine people have been killed in anti-government protests in Iraq as thousands take to the streets in cities across the country for a "day of rage".

Baghdad has been virtually locked down, with the authorities banning traffic in the city centre and deploying several thousand soldiers on the streets.

Still, several hundred people gathered in Baghdad's own Tahrir Square, calling for reform, but not regime change.

Mass demonstrations are also being held elsewhere in the Middle East.

Che Guevara

People are Angry, Unrest Spreading to the U.S.

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© LIFE magazine
What's going on in Wisconsin?

If you look at both sides of the story, one side is insinuating that teachers there make too much money and are a target for cuts, while the other side is angry because they have seen the banks and the elite getting bailed out - so why should they be targeted instead.

I believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg that awaits us all, and not just here in the U.S. Geopolitical unrest has been spreading around the world from Tunisia, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Libya to Ohio and Wisconsin in the U.S.

The underlying problem is money.

People are angry over higher prices, especially high food prices in other parts of the protesting world. Higher food and energy prices are creeping in to the American economy as well, and some predict the rate of increase to go higher as an inflationary environment gets underway.

Radar

Scent of freedom in North Korea

Beijing - "The riots are expanding even into North Korea. Hundreds of protesters have collided with the authorities," said South Korea's largest-selling Chosun Ilbo newspaper on Thursday, as top news on its website. Now finally, the global cascade of "Jasmine revolutions" in the Middle East and North Africa appears to have entered North Korea.

Chosun posted a North Korea map with large red circles around multiple cities to mark "riot zones", adding more drama to the report.

One of the circles is the town of Sinuiju on the border with China. "Hundreds of people clashed with security forces ... The militarywas deployed to quell the demonstration, leaving some protesters wounded," said Chosun. While the protest was sparked by a crackdown in a market, it was "an eruption of long pent-up discontent", it said.

Eye 1

Dangerous doctors slipping through the cracks

It took the discovery of guns and grenades to suspend the license of a psychiatrist who some say should have come under scrutiny years earlier.

One night a Crestwood police sergeant doing a routine building check noticed an open door to the office of psychiatrist Joel Carroll. Stepping inside the cluttered office, he discovered roaming cats, a Colt AR-15 assault rifle and other guns, ammunition, military-grade smoke grenades, sex toys, and pornography.

"Well, for the lack of better terminology, we considered it a pigsty," Sgt. Thomas Kaniewski testified about his April 2009 discovery. "It looked in complete disarray. We couldn't believe that someone could actually conduct business in an office like that because of the conditions it was in."

When state regulators determined that Carroll had engaged in sexual misconduct and committed other violations of the state Medical Practice Act, they suspended his license, proclaiming him "a danger to his patients," according to state records.

But the psychiatrist's practice could have been shut down years earlier, after the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2007 found that Carroll - as a state contractor - committed inappropriate conduct with a female inmate and barred him from working in a prison, a Tribune investigation showed.

Critics say the case raises questions about a crucial part of the medical disciplinary system.

2 + 2 = 4

US: Race To Nowhere: Silent Epidemic In Our Schools...

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© racetonowhere.com
Film Set For Stackhouse Theatre, March 10, 7 P.M.

A concerned mother turned filmmaker aims her camera at the high-stakes, high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children's lives, creating unhealthy, disengaged, unprepared and stressed-out youth. Featuring the heartbreaking stories of young people in all types of communities who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren't developing the skills they need, and parents who are trying to do what's best for their kids, Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace; students are disengaged; stress-related illness and depression are rampant; and many young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

In a grassroots sensation already feeding a groundswell for change, hundreds of theaters, schools and organizations nationwide are hosting community screenings during a six month campaign to screen the film nationwide. Tens of thousands of people are coming together, using the film as the centerpiece for raising awareness, radically changing the national dialogue on education and galvanizing change. For the calendar of local screenings: www.racetonowhere.com/screenings-calendar

The Washington Post recently covered a screening of Race to Nowhere:
"Riveted to this disturbing tableau were more than 300 parents and educators, including Elise Browne Hughes, 46, who wiped away tears one recent evening in Bethesda while watching the documentary Race to Nowhere, which is becoming a growing grass-roots phenomenon in the achievement-minded Washington area and beyond. "It's in the culture, and it kind of feeds on itself," said Hughes, a mother of two sons who paid $10 for a ticket and braved the heavy rain to watch the film at Walt Whitman High School. For her and thousands of others nationwide, the film has raised difficult questions about how to raise well-adjusted children at a time when schools seem test-obsessed, advanced classes are the norm and parents worry that their children will not go as far in life as they have."
(Washington Post, 10/7/2010)

Stormtrooper

Libya's entire Arab League mission resigns over Gaddafi violence

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Cairo -- Members of Libya's Arab League mission say they have resigned en masse because of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's use of force against his opponents.

The 11 members said in a statement Friday they decided to quit and join the opposition demanding that Gadhafi abandon power.

The head of the delegation, Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, had already resigned as Libya's ambassador to the 22-member Arab League on Sunday.

Magnify

Obesity new US national security issue

Obese Trainee
© Unknown
A file photo of an obese trainee
The increasing rate of obesity in the US has turned into a national security issue amid growing concerns about a shortage of fit youths capable of serving the military.

Concerns over obesity has even forced the US First lady Michelle Obama to take her anti-obesity campaign to the army's largest training base at Fort Jackson near Columbia on Thursday where she called on young Americans to follow a rigorous dieting regime applied at the military post.

Michelle Obama stressed that obesity in the United States is "not just a health issue but a national security issue," AP quoted her as telling the trainees on the base.