Russian Narcotics expert Olga Zelenina Jailed

Outcry over jailed Russian chemist:

Olga Zelenina

Olga Zelenina

Narcotics expert Olga Zelenina falsely accused of aiding drug trafficking, say supporters. A Russian chemist stands accused of complicity in organized drug trafficking, and is currently imprisoned in Moscow’s detention centre number 6, where she shares a cell with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the prominent activist punk band Pussy Riot. But Zelenina’s supporters say she is the victim of a monstrous miscarriage of justice, and has done nothing more than provide an expert opinion on the opiate content of a consignment of poppy seeds. They are pessimistic that a court hearing scheduled for 24 September will result in her immediate release. Zelenina heads a laboratory at the Penza Agricultural Institute, some 600 kilometres southeast of Moscow, one of the best-equipped chemical-analysis labs in Russia. She is a specialist in the biology of hemp and poppy, and is a sought-after expert in legal cases involving narcotics produced from these plants.

“Surely you cannot put a scientist in jail just because you don’t like her opinion?”

In September 2011, the defence attorneys of Sergey Shilov, a Russian businessman under investigation by the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS), asked her to provide an expert opinion on the amount of opiates that could possibly be extracted from 42 metric tonnes of food poppy seeds that Shilov had imported from Spain in 2010. Cultivation of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) has been banned in Russia since 1987. But the import of poppy seeds for use in foods, such as cakes and bread, is legal — as long as they are 100% free of narcotic opium alkaloids such as morphine and codeine. Poppy seeds do not contain these alkaloids, but other parts of the plant that do, such as poppy straw, can become mixed into shipments as a result of poor harvesting practices. In her expert report, Zelenina stated that it is technically impossible to fully eliminate such impurities from poppy seeds, as Russian laws require. She also wrote that the seized seeds did not contain any deliberately added narcotic compounds, says Natalia Andreeva, Zelenina’s Moscow-based lawyer. On the basis of gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry measurements of samples analysed in her lab, Zelenina calculated the overall morphine and codeine content in the poppy-seed consignment in question to be 0.00069% and 0.00049%, respectively. In such low concentrations, opiates can only be identified or extracted in well-equipped analytical chemistry labs, she wrote. This opinion apparently failed to satisfy the prosecutors,” says Irina Levontina, a linguist at the Russian Language Institute in Moscow, who is frequently heard as an expert in libel and drug lawsuits. “It has become quite common for Russian prosecutors to accuse independent experts if they don’t like their opinions. It can be downright dangerous for experts to appear in court.” In the early morning of 15 August, a group of FDCS officials accompanied by masked and armed members of a special police unit entered Zelenina’s home in Lunino, a town in the district of Penza. They arrested her and took her to Moscow, where she was charged with aiding and abetting attempted drug trafficking by an organized group. On 20 August, a judge at Moscow’s Zyuzino District Court ordered her detention until 15 October, says Andreeva. “Olga Zelenina has been asked for her honest scientific expert opinion and is now kept in jail for no reason other than having provided just that,” says Mikhail Gelfand, a biologist at the Institute for Information Transmission Problems in Moscow. “I have read her report, and to me it looks absolutely reasonable. There is no justification at all to keep her in detention.” Olga has done nothing else than her duty as a scientist and as a citizen,” adds Andreeva. “Surely you cannot put a scientist in jail just because you don’t like her opinion?” A Moscow city court will decide on Monday whether she will be released from detention until an as-yet unscheduled trial date.

 

Apple Inc. Riot’s

Riot at Foxconn Factory Underscores Rift in China

Riot at Foxconn Factory Underscores Rift in China

 The online postings were from a disturbance late Sunday that shut down a manufacturing facility in Taiyuan in north China, where 79,000 workers were employed. State-run news media said 5,000 police officers had to be called in to quell a riot that began as a dispute involving a group of workers and security guards at a factory dormitory. The unrest was noteworthy because the factory site is managed by Foxconn Technology, one of the world’s biggest electronics manufacturers and an important supplier to companies like Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. A spokesman for Foxconn said the company was investigating the cause of the incident. But analysts say worker unrest in China has grown more common because workers are more aware of their rights, and yet have few outlets to challenge or negotiate with their employers. When they do, though, the results can be ugly and, because of social media and the Web, almost instantly transmitted to the world in their rawest and most unfiltered form. “At first it was a conflict between the security guards and some workers,” said a man who was reached by telephone after he posted images online. The man said he was a Foxconn employee. “But I think the real reason is they were frustrated with life.” The company said that as many as 2,000 workers were involved in the incident but that it was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.” Nonetheless, the plant was closed, the company said. Foxconn, which is based in Taiwan and employs more than 1.1 million workers in China, declined to say whether the Taiyuan plant made products for the Apple iPhone 5, which went on sale last week. A spokesman said the factory supplied goods to many consumer electronics brands. An employee at the Taiyuan plant said iPhone components were made there. Supply-chain experts say most Apple-related production takes place in other parts of China, particularly in the provinces of Sichuan, Guangdong and Henan. Apple referred questions to Foxconn. Labor unrest in Taiyuan, in northern China’s Shanxi Province, comes as strikes and other worker protests appear to be increasing in frequency this year compared with last year, said Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labor Bulletin, a nonprofit advocacy group in Hong Kong seeking collective bargaining and other protections for workers in mainland China. Many of the protests this year appear to be related to the country’s economic slowdown, as employees demand the payment of overdue wages from financially struggling companies, or insist on compensation when money-losing factories in coastal provinces are closed and moved to lower-cost cities in the interior. But the level of labor unrest in China this year has not yet matched 2010, when a surge in inflation sparked a wave of worker demands for higher pay, Mr. Crothall said. The Taiyuan protest comes at a politically delicate time in China, with a Communist Party Congress expected in the coming weeks to anoint a new general secretary and a new slate of members for the country’s most powerful body, the Standing Committee of the Politburo. The government has been tightening security ahead of the conclave through measures like restricting the issuance of visas and devoting considerable resources to watching and containing disturbances like the recent anti-Japanese demonstrations. But the calendar may also be on Foxconn’s side. A weeklong public holiday starts this weekend to mark the country’s national day on Oct. 1. Factories across the country will close to allow workers to go home — and in the case of Foxconn’s Taiyuan factory, the dispersal of workers to hometowns could allow tempers to cool. Mr. Crothall said that while the cause of the latest dispute in Taiyuan remained unclear, his group had found an online video of the police there using a megaphone to address “workers from Henan” — the adjacent province to the south of Shanxi. The police officer said that the workers’ concerns would be addressed. Disputes involving large groups of migrant workers are common in China. In some cases, workers protest after believing that they have been promised a certain pay package and traveled a long distance to claim it, only to find on arrival that the details were different from what they expected. In other cases, workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights. The disturbance is the latest problem to hit Foxconn. Foxconn, which is part of Hon Hai Group of Taiwan, has been struggling to improve labor conditions at its China factories after reports about labor abuse and work safety violations. Apple and Foxconn have worked together to improve conditions, raise pay and improve labor standards, particularly since March when the Fair Labor Association, a monitoring group invited by Apple to investigate conditions, found widespread problems. Mr. Crothall said workers in China had become emboldened. “They’re more willing to stand up for their rights, to stand up to injustice,” he said, adding that damage to factory buildings and equipment still appeared to be unusual, occurring in fewer than 1 in 20 protests. The same Taiyuan factory was the site of a brief strike during a pay dispute last March, the Hong Kong news media reported then. Social media postings suggested that some injuries might have occurred when people were trampled in crowds of protesters.

 

South Africa “World Rape Capital”

Despite A Decline South Africa Still Remains The “World Rape Capital”:

Despite A Decline South Africa Still Remains The "World Rape Capital"

Despite A Decline South Africa Still Remains The “World Rape Capital”

South Africa’s National Freedom Party (NFP) has said the sexual offense statistics in the country were still very high despite a small decline observed. “We note that while sex-related crimes… decreased by just more than one percent, these crimes still remain very high as compared to global figures and South Africa remains the rape capital of the world,” News24 quoted NFP president Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi, as saying. KaMagwaza-Msibi welcomed an overall decrease in crime reflected in the latest statistics released by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Thursday, and she added sexual crimes were not always reported. “We call on the government to provide safe shelters for the elderly and orphans, especially in rural areas, as these sections of our population are the most vulnerable to sexual crimes,” KaMagwaza-Msibi said.

Website Prevent Suicide Among Youth

 

Innovative Website to Prevent Suicide Risk Among Youth Launched:

Innovative Website to Prevent Suicide Risk Among Youth Launched

Innovative Website to Prevent Suicide Risk Among Youth Launched

In a bid to promote suicide prevention among youths an innovative peer-to-peer website has been launched which may encourage youth and young adults to communicate creatively about the difficult times they are experiencing so their messages can help peers encountering similar problems. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth & Young Adults Program (TLC) and the New Jersey Division of Child Behavioral Services have developed the website, Jersey Voice (www.jerseyvoice.net) which was officially launched this week — National Suicide Prevention Week (September 9-15). The TLC, with the support of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, developed this forum, which “exists for all – teens and young adults – in New Jersey who have ever had a horrible day, struggled with mental health, or lost a loved one. It’s about adults and experts stepping back (for the most part) and letting us do what we need to do and say what we need to say. It’s about using our own unique Jersey voices to help each other out, recognize our strengths, and inspire hope. It’s about getting involved, making a difference, and keeping Jersey strong.” TLC Director Donna Amundson pointed out that Jersey Voice’s mission is to help strengthen and advance TLC’s upstream suicide prevention efforts, to try to reach youth before they begin to feel hopeless and helpless. “We have created a platform where individuals can share their stories of hope, help and strength and getting through the difficult times in life with messages that can be told through stories, poems, music, photography, posters, videos and other creative outlets. The intent is that these stories will remain front and center on the website as a source of support and inspiration for other New Jersey teens and young adults,” Amundson explained. Allison Blake, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, said, “The mission of this website is to provide a space where the resounding voices of peers echo throughout as they show each other how to tap into strength, resiliency and connection when facing difficult times at home, at school or at play. We want to help our youth population find solutions to whatever types of stressful behavioral problems they encounter before they become crises.” TLC partnered with Emotion Technology to develop this site that combines a focus on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention with social media outlets to reach youth and young adults where they live and communicate. The site includes a series of tools and contacts, including a confidential and anonymous helpline for New Jersey’s youth and young adults. The site will also add a blog. As part of its launch, jerseyvoice.net is sponsoring the first Jersey Voice Statewide Social Media Festival to invite submissions in the form of prose, poems, music, song and dance, public service announcements, video and photography. The Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program. The Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program (TLC) at UMDNJ-University Behavioral HealthCare is New Jersey’s primary youth suicide prevention program funded by the Department of Children & Families, Division of Children’s System of Care. The TLC is an interactive, statewide network that offers collaboration and support to professionals working with school-age youth. The dual mission of the TLC is excellence in suicide prevention and trauma response assistance to schools following unfortunate losses due to suicide, homicide, accident and illness. This is accomplished through county, regional and statewide conferences, training, consultation, onsite traumatic loss response, and technical assistance. The purpose is to ensure that those working with youth from a variety of disciplines and programs have up-to-date knowledge about mental health issues, suicide prevention, traumatic grief, and resiliency enhancement. Since its inception, the TLC has trained thousands of individuals throughout the state with the purpose of saving lives and promoting post trauma healing and resiliency for the youth of New Jersey.

 

Diabetes Associated With Iron Transport

 

Diabetes Cause may be Associated With Iron Transport:

Diabetes Cause may be Associated With Iron Transport

Diabetes Cause may be Associated With Iron Transport

Increased activity of a iron-transport protein destroys insulin-producing beta cells and thereby contributes to diabetes. In addition, the new research shows that mice without this iron transporter are protected against developing diabetes. These results have just been published in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism. Almost 300,000 Danes have diabetes – 80 per cent have type-2 diabetes, a so-called lifestyle disease. The number of people with diabetes doubles every decade and the disease costs Danish society about DKK 86 million per day. People develop diabetes when the beta cells in their pancreas do not produce enough insulin to meet their body’s needs. New research from the University of Copenhagen and Novo Nordisk A/S links this defect to one particular cellular iron transporter. “Iron is a vital mineral for the healthy functioning of the body and is found in many enzymes and proteins, for example, the red blood pigment that transports oxygen. But iron can also promote the creation of toxic oxygen radicals. An increase in the iron content of the cells may cause tissue damage and disease. We find that increased activity of a certain iron transporter causes damage to the beta cell. And if we completely remove this iron transporter in the beta cells in genetically engineered mice, they are indeed protected against diabetes,” explains Professor Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen, Department of Biomedical Sciences, The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Together with Christina Ellervik, Associate Professor and Professors Børge Nordestgaard and Henrik Birgens from the University of Copenhagen, Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen has previously documented a connection between surplus iron and diabetes risk, based on large population studies. But this is the first time that scientists have found a link between inflammation and iron transport, which appears to be the underlying cause of the observed higher risk. “We need to conduct controlled clinical trials showing that changes in the iron content of the body can reduce the risk of diabetes. Only then will we be able to advise people at risk of diabetes not to take iron supplements, or recommend drug treatment to reduce the amount of iron in the body,” says Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen. The team behind the scientific article in Cell Metabolism can see that the inflammatory signal substances created around the beta cells in both type-1 and type-2 diabetes accelerate the activity of the iron transporter. “The evolutionary explanation of why the highly specialised beta cells are influenced by the inflammatory signal substances and contain the potentially dangerous iron transport proteins is presumably that the short-term increase in the amount of oxygen radicals is critical to the fine-tuning of insulin production during bouts of fever and stress. However, nature had not foreseen the long-term local production of signal substances around the beta cells, which we see in type-1 and type-2 diabetes,” continues Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen. The new results have implications for many scientists, not only those conducting research in diabetes. The beta cell can be used as a model for other cells that are particularly sensitive to iron, such as liver cells and cardiac-muscle cells.

 

Apple lost Again

Apple loses German patent case against Samsung, Motorola over touch-screen devices:

Apple loses German patent case against Samsung, Motorola over touch-screen devices

Apple loses German patent case against Samsung, Motorola over touch-screen devices

In Berlin, a German court has dismissed Apple Inc.’s claim that Samsung Electronics and Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility infringed patents used in touch-screen devices. The Mannheim state court’s ruling Friday follows similar decisions in Britain and the Netherlands. The ruling can be appealed within 30 days. Apple and its rivals are locked in a complex worldwide battle over patents and design rights covering the lucrative market for smartphones and tablet computers. Last month a U.S. court ruled that Samsung phones and tablets infringe on Apple patents, and awarded the Cupertino, California, company $1.05 billion. Meanwhile, Samsung is seeking royalties from Apple for sales of iPhones it says infringe on its patents.

 

Apple finally Lost

Japan court rules Samsung did not infringe on Apple patent:

Japan court rules Samsung did not infringe on Apple patent

Japan court rules Samsung did not infringe on Apple patent

A Tokyo court on Friday dismissed Apple Inc.’s claim that Samsung had infringed on its patent — the latest ruling in the global legal battle over smartphones that pits the two technology titans against each other. Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, the world’s largest maker of phones, welcomed the Tokyo District Court ruling that its technology to synchronize mobile players with computers did not infringe on Apple patents as confirming “our long-held position.” “We will continue to offer highly innovative products to consumers, and continue our contributions toward the mobile industry’s development,” the company said in a statement. The Apple lawyer present at the courthouse declined comment, and it was not immediately clear whether Apple would appeal. In a session lasting a few minutes, Judge Tamotsu Shoji said he did not think Samsung products fell into the realm of Apple technology and dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Apple in August last year. Apple, the Cupertino, California-based maker of the hit iPhone and iPad, is embroiled in similar legal squabbles around the world over whether Samsung smartphones, which relies on Google Inc.’s Android technology, illegally used Apple designs, ideas or technology. In one such case, a jury in California ruled last week that Samsung products illegally used such Apple creations as the “bounce-back” feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger. The jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages, and a judge is now evaluating Apple’s request to have eight Samsung products pulled from shelves and banned from the U.S. market, including popular Galaxy model smartphones. Samsung’s latest hit, Galaxy S3, was not part of the U.S. ruling. Friday’s ruling was the first held in Japan in the Samsung-Apple global court battle, but other technology is being contested by the two companies in separate legal cases in Japan. Apple products are extremely popular among Japanese consumers, but major Japanese carriers such as NTT DoCoMo sell Samsung smartphones as well. Japanese electronics maker Sony Corp. also makes smartphones similar to Samsung’s, using Android technology. Samsung has sold more than 50 million Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 smartphones around the world. The legal battle also involves Samsung’s Tab device, which Apple claims infringes on patents related to the iPad tablet.

 

Sexist Iranian’s ban females from university

 

Iranian university bans on women causes consternation:

Iranian university bans on women causes consternation

Iranian university bans on women causes consternation

With the start of the new Iranian academic year, a raft of restrictions on courses open to female students has been introduced, raising questions about the rights of women to education in Iran – and the long-term impact such exclusions might have. More than 30 universities have introduced new rules banning female students from almost 80 different degree courses. These include a bewildering variety of subjects from engineering, nuclear physics and computer science, to English literature, archaeology and business. No official reason has been given for the move, but campaigners, including Nobel Prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, allege it is part of a deliberate policy by the authorities to exclude women from education. “The Iranian government is using various initiatives… to restrict women’s access to education, to stop them being active in society, and to return them to the home,” she told the BBC. Higher Education Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has sought to play down the situation, stressing Iran’s strong track record in getting young people into higher education and saying that despite the changes, 90% of university courses are still open to both men and women. But many in Iran fear that the new restrictions could now undermine this achievement. “I wanted to study architecture and civil engineering,” says Leila, a young woman from the south of Iran. “But access for girls has been cut by fifty per cent, and there’s a chance I won’t get into university at all this year.” It is not yet clear exactly how many women students have been affected by the new rules on university entrance. But as the new academic year begins, at least some have had to completely rethink their career plans. “From the age of 16 I knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, and I really worked hard for it,” says Noushin from Esfahan. “But although I got high marks in the National University entrance exam, I’ve ended up with a place to study art and design instead.” Over the coming months campaigners will be watching closely to track the effects of the policy and to try to gauge the longer-term implications.

 

New spin on Single-Atom quantum computer

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer:

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer

A team of Australian engineers is claiming it has made the first working quantum bit (qubit) fashioned out of a single phosphorous atom, embedded on a conventional silicon chip. This breakthrough stems all the way back to 1998, when Bruce Kane — then a University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor — published a research paper on the possibility of phosphorous atoms, suspended in ultra-pure silicon, being used as qubits. For 14 years, UNSW has been working on the approach — and today, it has finally turned theory into practice. To create this quantum computer chip, the Australian engineers created a silicon transistor so small that “electrons have to travel along it one after the other.” A single phosphorous atom is then implanted into the silicon substrate, right next to the transistor. The transistor only allows electricity to flow through it if one electron from the phosphorus atom jumps to an “island” in the middle of the transistor. This is the key point: by controlling the phosphorus’s electrons, the engineers can control the flow of electricity across the transistor.

An artist's rendition of the single phosphorous atom (red circle) surrounded by its electron cloud

 

A team of Australian engineers is claiming it has made the first working quantum bit (qubit) fashioned out of a single phosphorous atom, embedded on a conventional silicon chip. This breakthrough stems all the way back to 1998, when Bruce Kane — then a University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor — published a research paper on the possibility of phosphorous atoms, suspended in ultra-pure silicon, being used as qubits. For 14 years, UNSW has been working on the approach — and today, it has finally turned theory into practice. To create this quantum computer chip, the Australian engineers created a silicon transistor so small that “electrons have to travel along it one after the other.” A single phosphorous atom is then implanted into the silicon substrate, right next to the transistor. The transistor only allows electricity to flow through it if one electron from the phosphorus atom jumps to an “island” in the middle of the transistor. This is the key point: by controlling the phosphorus’s electrons, the engineers can control the flow of electricity across the transistor. At this point, I would strongly recommend that you watch this excellent video that walks you through UNSW’s landmark discovery — but if you can’t watch it, just carry on reading. To control the phosphorus atom’s electrons, you must change their spin, which in this case is done by a small burst of microwave radiation. In essence, when the phosphorus atom is in its base state, the transistor is off; it has a value of 0 — but when a small burst of radiation is applied, the electrons change orientation, one of them pops into the transistor, it turns on; it has a value of 1. For more on electron spin and how it might impact computing. Now, we’ve written about quantum computers before — the University of Southern California has created a quantum computer inside a diamond, for example — but the key breakthrough here is that UNSW’s quantum transistor has been fashioned using conventional silicon processes. Rather than beating its own path, UNSW is effectively riding on the back of 60 years and trillions of dollars of silicon-based electronics R&D, which makes this a much more exciting prospect than usual. It is now quite reasonable to believe that there will be readily available, commercial quantum computers in the next few years.

 

Honey Bee Collapse not due to pesticides alone

 

Pesticides not yet proven guilty of causing honeybee declines:

 Pesticides not yet proven guilty of causing honeybee declines


Pesticides not yet proven guilty of causing honeybee declines

The impact of crop pesticides on honeybee colonies is unlikely to cause colony collapse, according to a paper in the journal Science today (20 September 2012). More research is now needed to predict the impact of widely-used agricultural insecticides, called neonicotinoids, on honeybee populations. UK scientists from the University of Exeter and Food and Environment Agency highlight flaws in previous research (published in Science, April 2012) that predicted that neonicotinoids could cause honeybee colony collapse. Neonicotinoids are among the most widely-used agricultural insecticides and honeybees ingest residues of the pesticides as they gather nectar and pollen from treated plants. The previous research has been cited by scientists, environmentalists and policy-makers as evidence of the future impact of these pesticides on honeybees. It is likely that the research was instrumental in the French government’s recent decision to ban the use of thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid that is the active ingredient of Cruiser OSR, a pesticide produced by the Swiss company Syngenta. However, the new paper argues that the calculations made in the research were flawed because they failed to reflect the rate at which honeybee colonies recover from losing individuals. The previous research, led by French scientist Mikaël Henry, showed that the death rate of bees increased when they drank nectar laced with a neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam. It calculated that this would cause their colony to collapse. The research published today explains how the calculation may have used an inappropriately low birth rate. Lead author Dr James Cresswell of the University of Exeter said: “We know that neonicotinoids affect honeybees, but there is no evidence that they could cause colony collapse. When we repeated the previous calculation with a realistic birth rate, the risk of colony collapse under pesticide exposure disappeared. “I am definitely not saying that pesticides are harmless to honeybees, but I think everyone wants to make decisions based on sound evidence – and our research shows that the effects of thiamethoxam are not as severe as first thought. “We do not yet have definitive evidence of the impact of these insecticides on honeybees and we should not be making any decisions on changes to policy on their use. It is vital that more research is conducted so that we can understand the real impact of neonicotinoids on honeybees, so governments can put together a proper plan to protect them from any dangers that the chemicals pose.”

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Wasteful Austria

Pre-Peeled, Re-Wrapped Bananas Are the Most Wasteful Sign of the Apocalypse Yet:

 

Pre-Peeled, Re-Wrapped Bananas Sign of the Apocalypse

Pre-Peeled, Re-Wrapped Bananas Sign of the Apocalypse

In what has to be the worst case of wasteful packaging in the history of modern conveniece, a grocery store in Austria is actually selling pre-peeled bananasthat have then been re-packaged in cellophane-covered foam trays. One of the reasons bananas have been billed as the world’s most perfect food is that they come with their own biodegradable packaging straight off the tree. And it’s not like you need a knife or some wacky kitchen contraption to peel them—the skin practically falls off on its own. Not surprisingly most customers are up in arms over the ridiculous repackaging stunt, except for the chain’s animated clientele who are optimistic the banished peels will dramatically reduce the risk of countless cartoon slipups. What’s even more maddening is that the supermarket chain’s slogan urges customers to use more common sense when shopping. “Paper, plastic, or ironic, sir?”

 

Anti-jihad ‘savage’ ads New York City subway

Anti-jihad ‘savage’ ads going up in New York City subway:

JIHAD___FLAG

JIHAD___FLAG

A provocative ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in the city’s subway system as violent protests over an anti-Islamic film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sweep over much of the Muslim world. A conservative blogger who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11 terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations next Monday. The ad reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” The ad was plastered on San Francisco city buses in recent weeks, prompting some artists to deface the ads and remove some of the words, including “Jihad,” or holy war. The blogger, Pamela Geller, said she filed suit Thursday in the nation’s capital to post the ad in Washington’s transit system after officials declined to put up the ad in light of the uproar in the Middle East over the anti-Islam film. Abdul Yasar, a New York subway rider who considers himself an observant Muslim, said Geller’s ad was insensitive in an unsettling climate for Muslims. “If you don’t want to see what happened in Libya and Egypt after the video — maybe not so strong here in America — you shouldn’t put this up,” Yasar said. But “if this is a free country, they have the right to do this,” he said. “And then Muslims have the right to put up their own ad.” Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and publisher of a blog called Atlas Shrugs, called an order by a federal judge in New York allowing the ads “a victory for the First Amendment” and said she wasn’t concerned that her ad could spark protests like the ones against the depiction of Muslims in the video “Innocence of Muslims.” Violence linked to the movie has left at least 30 people in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya. “If it’s not a film it’s a cartoon, if it’s not a cartoon it’s a teddy bear,” she said. “What are you going to do? Are you going to reward Islamic extremism? I will not sacrifice my freedom so as not to offend savages.” New York police aren’t anticipating adding any security to subways when the ads go up and have received no threats or reports of violence relating to them, chief spokesman Paul Browne said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run Geller’s ad, saying it was “demeaning.” But U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled last month that it is protected speech under the First Amendment. “Our hands are tied,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said. “Under our existing ad standards as modified by the injunction, the MTA is required to run the ad.” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, backed publication of the “patently offensive” ads. “More offensive would be their censorship because that would violate the guarantee of free expression of all ideas regardless of how distasteful they are,” she said. Geller said the subway ads cost about $6,000. Donovan said they will be up for a month. Opponents say the ads imply that Muslims are savages. “We recognize the freedom of speech issues and her right to be a bigot and a racist,” said Muneer Awad, the executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But he said he hopes elected officials and the MTA, which runs the nation’s largest mass transit system, “take on a leadership role in denouncing hate speech.” Geller, as head of a group called Stop Islamization of America, helped spur a monthslong campaign two years ago to remove a planned Islamic community center blocks from the World Trade Center site, which she called the “ground zero mosque.” Plans to build a larger center are pending, although Muslims still have regular prayer services at a mosque in the building. When the ad ran in San Francisco from Aug. 13 to Sept. 4, transit officials took the unusual step of running disclaimers on the sides of the buses, while some artists painted over “Jihad” or photoshopped pictures that said instead, “Defeat Racism.” Geller’s group has also placed ads in Metro-North Railroad stations north of New York City that read: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.” The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority hadn’t seen Geller’s lawsuit on Thursday, spokesman Dan Stessel said. The agency told Geller the ad would be “deferred” because of the ongoing violence in the Middle East, he said. “To be clear, we have not rejected the ad,” Stessel said, but “merely asked the advertiser to be sensitive to the timing of the placement out of a concern for public safety, given current world events.”

Americans hate Muslims

I don’t think they have the right to abuse their females or tell me how to run my life. But if they want to believe stupid things, who cares:

 

Americans hate Muslims

Americans hate Muslims

. Nobody wants to come out and put it that bluntly. The average American absolutely despises Muslims. And where did this hatred come from? 9/11. Everyone knows this. Prior to that time, most Americans thought of Muslims and Arabs as those odd people living on top of our oil. After 9/11, the secret wish of every American is to exterminate to the last man, woman, and child every single one of those raghead camel jockey motherfuckers. This hatred is so extreme that America has sacrificed every principle, its economy, and even its own freedoms in its desire for revenge on these people.  9/11 happened as blowback for US involvement in Middle Eastern affairs. It was only a matter of time before people who used to be on the US payroll would turn on the Americans and repay them for their stupidity. These facts are under reported in today’s media. This is because this is history, and the MSM is not interested in history. The MSM is interested in events as they happen. The result is that Americans witness these things and have no context for them. But these facts are readily available on the internet for anyone who has the ability to use Google. These facts are also common knowledge amongst those who work in government or the military. To put things in context, imagine if some foreign hostile government decided they didn’t like the regime here in America and wanted to change it. So, they sent over secret agents to recruit radical motherfuckers like Timothy McVeigh. They trained them, gave them weapons and money, intelligence, and anything else they might desire to perform terrorist activities inside this country. Are you mad yet? This is exactly what the US has done and continues to do in foreign countries. And let’s say one of these Timothy McVeigh types turned on his former benefactors and attacked them. You would think it to be ironic justice, wouldn’t you? This is how the Muslim world feels about Osama bin Laden. He isn’t a hero to them so much as the bomb that blew up in the American face that the Americans created. This is how it really is. Americans never stop to consider why the Muslim world is not fond of America. Americans react the way some redneck would react when a black family moves into the neighborhood. They ain’t one of us, and they need to disappear. This is why the stereotypical picture in the American mind of Muslims is that they are a bunch of crazed suicidal terrorists who irrationally blow shit up and kill people. The hatred that American people have for Muslims is in the same tradition as the hatred held for blacks and Jews in a previous time and what is witnessed now in regard to Mexican immigrants. Europe is close behind with politicians and people declaring that “multiculturalism has failed.” This is code for “those ragheads need to pack their shit up and get the fuck out of Paris/London/Copenhagen/etc.” This hatred is turning America ugly. The American people like to think they are better than this. We like to think that we respect civil liberties and human rights. America is the shining city on a hill that the rest of the world should emulate. But this isn’t the case. The US has tortured detainees, violated its own Constitution, and made a mockery of the Geneva Conventions. The American military has gone abroad and killed people including many innocents. What sort of reaction should we expect from abroad? This is what is so mind boggling. Americans still think they are the good guys.

Violent Muslim’s ignored pleas for peaceful rallies

Anti-Islam Film Sparks Mass Demonstrations Across The Country:

Pakistan Protests: Anti-Islam Film Sparks Mass Demonstrations Across The Country

Pakistan Protests: Anti-Islam Film Sparks Mass Demonstrations Across The Country

Pakistan’s “Day of Love for the Prophet” turned into a deadly day of gunfire, tear gas and arson. Thousands angered by an anti-Muslim film ignored pleas for peaceful rallies and rampaged in several Pakistani cities Friday in battles with police that killed 19 people and touched off criticism of a government decision to declare a national holiday to proclaim devotion for the Prophet Muhammad. The film, which was produced in the United States and denigrates the prophet, has outraged many in the Muslim world in the 10 days since it attracted attention on the Internet, and there were new, mostly peaceful protest marches in a half-dozen countries from Asia to the Middle East. But it is Pakistan that has seen the most sustained violence, driven by a deep well of anti-American sentiment and a strong cadre of hard-line Islamists who benefit from stoking anger at the U.S. At 49 people – including the U.S. ambassador to Libya – have died in violence linked to the film around the world. Analysts accused the Pakistani government of pandering to these extremists by declaring Friday to be an official holiday – calling it a “Day of Love for the Prophet.” Officials urged peaceful protests, but critics said the move helped unleash the worst violence yet caused by the film, titled “Innocence of Muslims.” In addition to those killed, nearly 200 others were injured as mobs threw stones and set fire to cars and movie theaters, and battled with police who responded with tear gas and gunfire. “The people were just waiting for a trigger,” said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies. In an attempt to tamp down the anger, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad purchased spots on Pakistani TV on Thursday that featured denunciations of the video by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. But their comments, which were subtitled in Urdu, the main Pakistani language, apparently did little to moderate the outrage that filled the country’s streets. Police fired tear gas and live ammunition to push back the tens of thousands of protesters they faced in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, and the major cities of Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. They were successful in preventing the protesters from reaching U.S. diplomatic offices in the cities, even though the demonstrators streamed over shipping containers set up on major roads to block their path. The demonstrators, who were led by hard-line Islamist groups, hurled rocks at the police and set fire to their vehicles. They also ransacked and burned banks, shops, cinemas and Western fast-food restaurants such as KFC and Pizza Hut. Clinton thanked the Pakistani government for protecting the U.S. missions in the country and lamented the deaths in the protests. “The violence we have seen cannot be tolerated,” she said, speaking alongside Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in Washington. “There is no justification for violence.” Khar thanked Obama and Clinton for speaking out against the video, saying it sent “a strong message, and that message should go a long way to ending the violence on many streets on the world.” The deadliest violence occurred in the southern port city of Karachi, where 14 people were killed, said hospital officials. More than 80 people were injured, said the top government official in the city, Roshan Ali Shaikh. At least three of the dead were policemen, one who died when hundreds of protesters attacked a police station. “We are all ready to die for Prophet Muhammad,” said Karachi protester Mohammad Arshad. “We want to show the world that Muslims are one and united on the issue.” Five people were killed and 60 wounded in the northwestern city of Peshawar, said police official Bashir Khan. One of the dead was identified as Mohammad Amir, a driver for a Pakistani TV station who was killed when police fired at protesters torching a cinema and hit his vehicle, said Kashif Mahmood, a reporter for ARY TV who also was in the car. The TV channel showed doctors at a hospital trying unsuccessfully to save Amir’s life. At least 45 people, including 28 protesters and 17 policemen were wounded in clashes in Islamabad, where police fought with more than 10,000 demonstrators in front of a five-star hotel near the diplomatic enclave where the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions are located. A military helicopter buzzed overhead as the sound of tear gas being fired echoed across the city. In northwestern Pakistan, demonstrators burned the Sarhadi Lutheran Church in the city of Mardan, but no one was injured, said senior police officer Salim Khan The government temporarily blocked cellphone service in 15 major cities to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs during the protests, said an Interior Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Blocking cellphones also had the benefit of making it harder for people to organize protests. Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf urged the international community to pass laws to prevent people from insulting the prophet, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. charge d’affaires in Islamabad, Richard Hoagland, over the film. “If denying the Holocaust is a crime, then is it not fair and legitimate for a Muslim to demand that denigrating and demeaning Islam’s holiest personality is no less than a crime?” Ashraf said in a speech to religious scholars and international diplomats in Islamabad. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany, but not in the U.S. U.S. officials have tried to explain to the Muslim world how they strongly disagree with the anti-Islam film but have no ability to block it because of free speech guarantees. Khar, the foreign minister, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that declaring a national holiday for Friday would motivate the peaceful majority to demonstrate their love for the prophet and not allow extremists to turn it into a show of anti-American anger. Interior Minister Rehman Malik defended the decision, saying the holiday made it easier for police to tackle protesters in Islamabad because the city was empty of people who normally commute there to go to work or school. But Riffat Hussain, a professor at the Islamabad-based National Defense University, said the government mismanaged the situation by calling for people to demonstrate and not providing a venue to do so peacefully, such as a rally with religious and political leaders. “The government thought that they were guiding the public sentiment,” Hussain said. “In doing that they lost control.” Elsewhere on Friday, about 3,000 protesters in the southern Iraq city of Basra condemned the film and caricatures of the prophet that were published in a French satirical weekly. They burned Israeli and U.S. flags and raised a banner that read: “We condemn the offenses made against the prophet.” U.S. flags and effigies of Obama were burned by about 2,000 people in a protest following Friday prayers in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. They demanded that the United States ban the film. In Bangladesh, more than 2,000 people marched in the capital, Dhaka, and burned a makeshift coffin draped in an American flag with an effigy of Obama. Small and mostly orderly protests were also held in Malaysia and Indonesia. Tens of thousands of supporters of the Shiite Hezbollah movement held a raucous protest in the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek. Later, a few thousand supporters of a hard-line Sunni cleric gathered in the capital, Beirut. Both demonstrations directed outrage at the U.S. and Israel over what they believed was a grave insult to Muhammad. Police clamped a daylong curfew in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar and chased away protesters opposing the anti-Islam film. Authorities in the region also temporarily blocked cellphone and Internet services to prevent viewing the film clips. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at the West over the film and the caricatures in the French weekly, Charlie Hebdo. “In return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they – the West – raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech,” Ahmadinejad said at a speech in Tehran. He said this explanation was “clearly a deception.” In Germany, the Interior Ministry said it was postponing a poster campaign aimed at countering radical Islam among young people due to tensions caused by the online video.

 

Labor Department, 844,000 people gave up finding job’s

According to the Labor Department, 844,000 people gave up on finding jobs last month:

 Labor Department, 844,000 people gave up

Labor Department, 844,000 people gave up

Bill Day thinks President Obama is doing his best to repair the economy while the Republicans drag their feet, but Nate Beeler thinks Obama’s only solution is wishful thinking.  The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force — working or not — would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than  it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren’t.The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged. ‘Discouraged’ is not just a state of mind. It’s an official term the Labor Department uses to describe the 844,000 people who last month had given up on trying to find a job because they didn’t think there was anything out there for them. So while the unemployment rate edged down this month, there are also more people who have quit sending out resumes, put their best suits back in the closet and stopped looking for work altogether.

 

Expensive Apple iPhone 5

High price connection with an Apple iPhone 5:

High price of connecting Apple iPhone 5

High price of connecting Apple iPhone 5

While I prefer Android smartphones and tablets, I also like my iPod Touch and iPads. Like many iFans, I also own a variety of devices that work with them: a car FM radio adapter, a clock radio, and an attachment for my stereo system. I’d think about buying an Apple iPhone 5 except not a single one of those devices can work with the iPhone’s new Lightning interface. Don’t take my word for it. David Pogue of the New York Times, the biggest Apple fan this side of Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, wrote: the “decade-old iPhone/iPad/iPod charging connector is everywhere: cars, clocks, speakers, docks, even medical devices. But the new iPhone won’t fit any of them.” Still, that’s not too bad, right? All you need to do is buy a 30-pin-to-Lighting adapter… for $29. Hmmm… I don’t know about you, but I’m not happy with the idea of spending $87 just so I can use the iPhone 5 with my three old devices. Don’t think, by the way, that you’ll see cheap 30-pin-to-Lightning adapters any time soon. Apple, of course, has a patent on the Lightning interface. So sure, there will be third-party adapters, but you can expect them to be in the same $29 price range. Apple could have adopted the cheap-as-dirt micro-USB interface instead, but then it couldn’t have charged a fraction of the cost of a Lightning adapter.  Even if you are willing to pay for these new adapters, as Pogue remarks, “not all accessories work with the Lightning, and not all the features of the old connector are available; for example, you can’t send the iPhone’s video out to a TV cable.” Great. Just great. So what’s the best answer if you want to get the most from your iPhone 5? Why, it’s to buy new Lighting-compatible accessories, of course! You may think you’re getting an iPhone 5 for $199-$399, but if you want to use it with other accessories your final tally may end up closing in on a grand. I like the look of the new iPhone, but I don’t like it that much.

 

Woman discovers husband was her FATHER

Ohio woman discovers that her husband was her FATHER:

Woman discovers husband was her FATHER

Woman discovers husband was her FATHER

An Ohio woman is finally speaking out about the pain she suffered after discovering that the man she married also fathered her. Valerie Spruill of Doylestown learned of her husband’s identity six years after he passed away in 1998 thanks to an uncle who eventually came forward with the truth. She says she is now going public with her past in the hopes that it will inspire those going through a rough time. “I want this to be more of an inspirational story,” the 60-year-old told the newspaper. “If I’ve come through this, anyone can come through anything through the help of the Lord.” Valerie’s mother and father, Percy Spruill, first started seeing each other when he was 15. It remains unclear how many children they had together, though Valerie says she is aware of six brothers. Valerie’s grandmother began taking care of her when she was 3-months-old, but it wasn’t until age 9 that Valerie discovered the first of many secrets her family had kept from her. She learned that the man she believed was her father was actually her grandfather. She also realized that a woman who said she was a family friend actually was her mother. The story “needs to be told, because children need to know where they come from,” she said. “And I know it hurts, because I have been devastated by this.” Her mother, Christine, was a “night lady” before she died in 1984, Valerie said. Christine testified in the infamous 1980s corruption trial of Summit County Probate Judge James Barbuto, who was later convicted of sex charges. In 2004, Valerie confirmed that her late husband was her father with the help of a DNA test. Valerie said she can’t say for certain whether Percy was aware of the extent of their relationship, though she believes he did know and was simply too afraid to tell her. She is still seeing a therapist to come to terms with the difficult revelation. She has also sought medical treatment for a series of serious medical problems that she believes stem from the stress she endured in the years after the discovery. Valerie says she hopes her decision to go public will help her find more siblings. “My biggest goal is to find them and let ’em know that [their mother] loved them, no matter what,” she said. “And [to say], ‘Thank God she gave you away like she did me, so you could have a beautiful life.'”

 

Apple’s new iPhone 5 really sucks

Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app is awful, and now the world knows it:

Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app is awful

Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app is awful

People who have been using beta versions of iOS 6 for the past few months have known how awful Apple’s (AAPL) new Maps app is, but for the most part they held out hope that the company would make some serious refinements by the time its new iOS 6 software was released to the public. But iOS 6 officially took flight on Wednesday and sadly, Apple’s new Maps app is still awful. An unsightly blemish on what is otherwise a beautiful OS, Apple’s new Maps application is enraging users. Google Maps wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but Google (GOOG) has spent many years and boatloads of money creating its mapping experience. The result is a fantastic product that iOS users had taken for granted. Until now. Apple is often criticized for valuing form over function by enthusiasts who avidly support rival companies. Those who use Apple products argue that they function quite well, but this is an instance where the naysayers are correct. Apple’s new Maps application is absolutely gorgeous but in terms of performance, it takes multiple giant leaps backwards compared to Google Maps. In my own testing over the past few months, I have found the new Maps app to be remarkably frustrating and after a while I avoided it at all costs. I would check back in from time to time to see if any notable improvements had been made, but each time I checked I was met with disappointment. Put plainly, Apple’s Maps app just isn’t smart. A search performed just a few days ago for a restaurant I was standing no more than 100 feet away from yielded a result in Kansas. I was in New Jersey at the time. While I’m sure Kansas has terrific Chinese food, Google Maps would have known that serving a result 1,100 miles away probably isn’t as smart as serving a result 100 feet away. I have had a great deal of trouble when searching for most business names in Apple’s Maps app. This is especially problematic when I’m rushing to a meeting that I am already late for. Sadly, this happens often. Searching the name of a hotel or event center in Google Maps always took me right where I needed to go. The same cannot be said of Apple’s Maps app. Even if I’m within a mile of the place I’m looking for, Maps in iOS 6 often serves results that are across town or even in a different city. To make matters worse, searching exact addresses isn’t always better. A recent search for an address on Broadway in Manhattan would only return a result on West Broadway — an entirely different street. Sometimes, even after I tap the locate button and the app has pinpointed my location, searches for business names or addresses yield results in different towns or even different states when there are closer, far more logical results to be found. It’s just not smart. And so we have our first big gripe with iOS 6, and by extension, the new iPhone 5: Apple’s new mapping solution is awful. Apple knows how bad its Maps application is, and I’m sure the company is working hard to improve it. Many assume Apple launched the new service in this state because it was in such a rush to oust Google from its devices, and this may or may not be the explanation. Regardless, users are being punished. Thermonuclear war or not, there’s no excuse for punishing users.

UPDATE:

Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service. We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover, turn by turn navigation, and Siri integration. We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.

Vladimir Putin owns 58 jets and four yachts

Vladimir Putin owns 58 jets and four yachts:

 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

A new report of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, suggests he has 58 airplanes and helicopters in use, has a collection of watches worth $600,000 and relaxing in over 20 palaces and country retreats.  Mr. Putin uses an Ilyushin jet with a cabin worth about $160 million, including a bathroom that has finishes of real gold and $75,000 sink. He also has at his disposal 4 yachts worth millions of dollars. Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, concluded that the existence of Putin “is comparable to that of the Persian Gulf monarchs or outrageous oligarch.” It was also noted that the reported income of Putin in 2011 was $120,000. The report noted that according to his official reported income we cannot begin to explain how Mr. Putin acquired all these items. The Russian leader, 59, has often played the poor card of his terrible youth to gain the popular support. He once described how, as a child, he had to beat aside rats with a stick at the entrance to his parent’s apartment in a St. Petersburg communal house.

 

Scientists Closer to Cloning Woolly Mammoth

Siberian Discovery Could Bring Scientists Closer to Cloning Woolly Mammoth:

The key to cloning a woolly mammoth may be locked into the Siberian permafrost. At least, that’s what scientists in the blustery Russian tundra are hoping. An international team from Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University recently found well-preserved remains, including some fur and bone marrow, during a paleontological research trip in the northeastern province of Yakutia. Russian newspaper Vzglyad talked to expedition leader Semyon Grigoriev, a North-Eastern Federal University professor, who said that the remains may still contain living cells, which would be vital to any cloning attempt. Previously-found clumps of woolly mammoth hair have allowed scientists to determine much of the extinct species’ genetic code, but have fielded no living cells. Living cells are necessary for the Frankenstein-esque procedure that would produce a baby mammoth, according to Chris Norris, senior collection manager for vertebrate paleontology at Yale’s Peabody Museum. Only living cells contain an intact nucleus, complete with woolly mammoth DNA. Such a nucleus can be inserted into a elephant embryo — a technique pioneered by a group of Japanese researchers last year — and then coaxed into becoming a real, live mammoth clone. While Gregoriev’s Korean colleagues are eager to clone a mammoth, he said they are willing to try cloning any fossil animals that they discover the right genetic material for. While it may take months to figure out what kind and quality of samples they can glean from the mammoth remains, Grigoriev told Reuters that it chances of finding living cells are pretty remote — but not impossible. Sub-zero temperatures are crucial for slowing the deterioration of living cells, and Siberia, with its year-round permafrost, is one of the best places to look for surviving mammoth cells. Despite the warnings of Jurassic Park — that playing in God’s domain can quickly lead to large, sharp-toothed carnivores praying on unsuspecting amusement-park employees — scientists have recently been willing to entertain the possibility of bringing extinct species back to life. In 2010, European scientists futilely attempted to back-breed an extinct species of cattle. But until scientists find living cells from a long-dead creature, or make a breakthrough that would allow them to clone up animals from a different kind of genetic material, we’ll have to get our woolly mammoth fix from Ray Romano in Ice Age. But hope springs eternal: just last week, prehistorians got excited about a mammoth tooth found by a San Francisco crane operator while excavating ground for the city’s new Central Station. Maybe all it will take is just the right discovery.

Viruse not the cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Viruses not to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome after all:

Viruses not to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome

Viruses not to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome

Contrary to previous findings, new research finds no link between chronic fatigue syndrome and the viruses XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) and pMLV (polytropic murine leukemia virus). A study to be published on September 18 in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, reveals that research that reported patients with chronic fatigue syndrome carried these two viruses was wrong and that there is still no evidence for an infectious cause behind chronic fatigue syndrome. “The bottom line is we found no evidence of infection with XMRV and pMLV. These results refute any correlation between these agents and disease,” says Ian Lipkin of Columbia University, a co-author on the study. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a disabling condition in which sufferers experience persistent and unexplained fatigue as well as any of a host of associated problems, including muscle weakness, pain, impaired memory, and disordered sleep. Medical treatment for CFS/ME costs as much as $7 billion every year in the U.S. alone. The possible causes of CFS/ME have been argued and researched for years with no success. Results from separate studies in 2009 and 2010 that reported finding retroviruses in the blood of patients with CFS/ME created a sensation among patients and the medical community and offered hope that a tractable cause for this disease had finally been found. Since then, other investigators have been unable to replicate the results of those studies, casting doubt on the idea that these viruses, XMRV and pMLV, could be behind CFS/ME. Lipkin says the National Institutes of Health wanted conclusive answers about the possible link. “We went ahead and set up a study to test this thing once and for all and determine whether we could find footprints of these viruses in people with chronic fatigue syndrome or in healthy controls,” says Lipkin. The study in mBio® puts the speculation to rest, he says. Scientists were wrong about a potential link between chronic fatigue syndrome and these viruses. The study authors recruited almost 300 people, 147 patients with CFS/ME and 146 people without the syndrome, to participate. Researchers tested blood drawn from these subjects for the presence of genes specific to the viruses XMRV and pMLV, much in the way the earlier studies had done. But in this study, researchers took extraordinary care to eliminate contamination in the enzyme mixtures and chemicals used for testing, which may have been the source of viruses and genes detected in the earlier studies. XMRV and pMLV are commonly found in mice but there has never been a confirmed case of human infection with these viruses. The authors of this study include many of the authors of the original papers that reported finding XMRV and pMLV in the blood of CFS/ME patients. This is an important point, says Lipkin, as their participation should lend credibility to the pre-eminence of these newer results over the flawed earlier studies, which offered a certain amount of false hope to the CFS/ME community. Research on the causes of CFS/ME will continue, says Lipkin. “We’ve tested the XMRV/pMLV hypothesis and found it wanting,” he says. But, he says, “we are not abandoning the patients. We are not abandoning the science. The controversy brought a new focus that will drive efforts to understand CFS/ME and lead to improvements in diagnosis, prevention and treatment of this syndrome.”

 

Alzheimer’s as Type 3 diabetes

Alzheimer’s could be reclassified as Type 3 diabetes:
Alzheimer's could be reclassified as Type 3 diabetes

Alzheimer’s could be reclassified as Type 3 diabetes

Growing evidence that Alzheimer’s is primarily a metabolic disease has led some researchers to propose reclassifying it as Type 3 diabetes, according to the Guardian. Such a revelation could have profound implications on the role that the junk food industry plays in causing Alzheimer’s. Today an estimated 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease around the world, and as many as 346 million people suffer from diabetes. Both numbers are expected to rise exponentially over the next several decades — rises that also happen to be correlated with increasing obesity rates. The correlation is so uncanny that many scientists are investigating a causal relationship between all three epidemics, with staggering results. Type 2 diabetes has already been strongly linked with obesity and diet as well as with dementia and Alzheimer’s. For instance, Type 2 sufferers are two to three times more likely to get Alzheimer’s than the general population. The link between Alzheimer’s and obesity has been studied less, but a growing cacophony of research is filling that gap. For instance, studies have strongly linked midlife obesity to Alzheimer’s. Fitness and a better diet have also been linked to a decreased occurrence of dementia. Now new studies are suggesting a link even more profound: that Alzheimer’s may be caused directly by the brain’s impaired response to insulin. A 2005 report found that levels of both insulin and insulin-like growth factors in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients were lower than normal, with the lowest levels being found in the brain regions most devastated by the disease. Meanwhile, a report released just last year found that an insulin spray helped improve memory skills in people with Alzheimer’s. Insulin has a well-defined role in the brain’s chemistry. It helps regulate the transmission of signals between neurons. It’s not difficult to begin connecting the dots at this point. A causal relationship between Alzheimer’s and the brain’s insulin regulation isn’t difficult to imagine and detail. Of course, more research needs to be done to know for sure, but if Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia are proven to be another form of diabetes, then the obesity epidemic — and the junk food industry that fuels it — could have consequences on public health that are even more profound than previously realized.

Feds slam BP in pollution from 2010 spill continues to ravage Gulf

Feds slam BP in key court filing, admit pollution from 2010 spill continues to ravage Gulf:

Feds slam BP in key court filing, admit pollution from 2010 spill continues to ravage Gulf

Feds slam BP in key court filing, admit pollution from 2010 spill continues to ravage Gulf

In a bombshell federal court filing, U.S. government lawyers are slamming British Petroleum for making false and misleading statements that seek to both dodge blame for 2010′s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and ignore the ongoing environmental devastation, from diseased dolphins to destroyed wetlands. The papers filed late last week by the U.S. Justice Department’s top environmental lawyers and New Orleans U.S. Attorney Jim Letten charge that BP’s effort to show the fairness of a proposed $7.8 billion settlement with thousands of Gulf Coast residents and businesses harmed by the spill is instead larded with falsehoods. The federal government’s 37-page objection to BP’s legal claims blast the oil giant’s “culture of corporate recklessness” that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and argue that BP wants the court to overlook deceased dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay and dying deep-sea corrals that are sickening fish in Gulf of Mexico. And the feds are not alone in accusing BP of going over the line in trying to justify the pending $8.7 billion settlement. In a separate filing, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange also accuses the oil company of misrepresentation and argues that BP committed “willful misconduct” by attempting a risky “top kill” method to stop the 2010 spill, when it knew that method would fail. The hard-hitting arguments against BP are in advance of a major November hearing before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier. The judge is overseeing the massive civil case tied to BP’s liability for the spill, which dumped roughly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. Barbier is now tasked with deciding the fairness of a proposed settlement. Scores of plaintiffs — including some represented by my law firm — are challenging the deal as unfair, ignoring issues such as the long-term neurological damage to clean-up workers and other Gulf residents who were exposed to massive amounts of the toxic dispersant Corexit that was deployed by BP. Neither the federal government nor Alabama is a party to the $7.8 billion settlement. Instead, each is pursuing its own civil case — and, in the case of the federal government,  an ongoing criminal investigation — against BP in other proceedings slated to begin next year. In objecting to BP’s filing in this case — a defense of the settlement’s fairness – the feds and Alabama are expressing their concern that the proceedings before Barbier could, in effect, put a legal seal of approval on what they consider to be false or misleading claims by the oil company, which could then hurt their future cases. Indeed, the federal papers state the goverment had no initially intention of getting involved with the proceedings before Barbier, but its lawyers were forced to respond because of “new evidence, and plainly misleading representations” made by BP. In essence, the feds are disputing the very factual underpinnings of the settlement. The federal filing is hugely important for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, it puts government agencies solidly behind some of the key allegations made on this blog and elsewhere over the past two years — that BP isn’t telling the truth when it tries to convince the American people in slick TV commercials that everything is back to normal in the Gulf and that BP is a responsible corporate citizen.

The filing notes:

* Dolphins in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, are showing signs of severe ill health.

* Certain deep-sea corrals have been identified as dead or dying, and populations of plankton-eating fish that reside on certain corrals are significantly decreased.

* Heavy marsh oiling that “could cause negative impacts to marsh vegetation for decades to come.”

Federal prosecutors state clearly that a multi-year, multi-million-dollar assessment of damage to natural resources caused by the Deepwater Horizon shows what it calls “indications of harm” to the environment along the Gulf Coast. It notes — in a stark rebuttal of BP’s claims of a major recovery in the Gulf ecology — that “while it is true that many resources are in a better condition than at the height of the spill, — after all, they are no longer slathered in layers of BP’s oil — it is also true that they continue to suffer significant harm…” The court filing notes — as has been reported here in the past — that scientific research has shown that the oil spill has killed off marsh vegetation and doubled the rate of wetlands erosion in some locations.  It also calls attention to research showing significant tissue damage and reproductive problems with minnow-like killifish in the Gulf. And it points out that major long-term studies of the impact of the BP oil spill on other key species — shrimp, crab and oyster, among others — are far from finished. In addition to its assertions on the long-term environmental impacts, the rebuttal from the government’s lawyers comes down hardest on BP’s campaign to minimize the recklessness displayed in its operation of the Deepwater Horizon rig and in key decisions made before, during, and after the catastrophe. The filing focuses on key emails between BP managers in the days and hours before the rig explosion on April 20, 2010 — emails that were ignored in BP’s argument that the settlement is fair. Just as BP attempted to have the public, Congress and others focus only on what happened on the rig or in other offshore offices of its contractors, the BP engineers and executives who drafted these and other documents were the people who actually exercised the direct authority and control over  nearly every aspect of what ultimately went wrong with the rig on April 20th. The behavior, words and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling sized company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall. Yet they were condoned in a corporation engaged in an activity in which no less a witness than Tony Heyward [the former CEO] himself described comparable to exploring outer space. The government notes that while BP’s reports and court filings have sought to pin the Aug. 20 explosion at the rig on a remarkable series of technical and systemic failures happening at once, its arguments ignore “the systemic management or corporate-driven, ‘profit over safety’ causes that allowed the individual mechanical and technical failures to manifest..” It states that U.S. attorneys intend to show “gross negligence or wilful misconduct” when it brings its own case to court. The federal rebuttal focuses considerable attention on a failed pressure test on concrete barriers in the rig that took place shortly before the explosion, noting that the problems with the April 20 test should have prompted an immediate response from BP and its managers that might have averted the catastrophe. “That such a simple and yet fundamental and safety-critically test could have been so stunningly, blindingly botched in so many ways, by so many people, demonstrates gross negligence.” The short filing by the Alabama attorney general’s office focuses on another failure by BP — involving the so-called “top kill” method that failed in stopping the spill that spring — which lawyers argue caused 1 million additional barrels to flow from the crippled rig, further polluting the state’s beaches and wetlands. The Alabama filing notes. We also intend to prove that BP represented to the federal government and the public that the flow rate was 5,000 bpf (barrels per day), while having knowledge that the flow rate was significantly higher. At the same time, BP proceeded with the “top kill” method, even though BP knew that a) a top kill risked well integrity and thus further delay or permanent damage b) a top kill would be unsuccessful at 15,000 bpd or greater and c) the flow rate was far greater than 15,000 bpd. We intend to prove that BP’s ordering of the risky top kill, which BP knew was predestined to fail, amounted to willful misconduct which delayed the capping of the well by several weeks — weeks in which an additional 1+million barrels of oil unnecessarily entered the Gulf. It’s hard to stress the critical importance of these court filings by the U.S. Justice Department and the state of Alabama. They stand as powerful confirmation of some of the issues that led me to start writing this blog in the first place — proof that both the gross misconduct of BP and the ongoing harm that it has caused to the Gulf and to the coastline are much greater than the American public realizes. I believe there will be be significant fallout, as these allegations also stand as proof that BP’s settlement terms are far from adequate. The people of the Gulf deserve much better.

 

Woman falsely claimed rape Jailed!

Woman who falsely claimed she was raped by three men because she regretted having sex with them jailed for two years

Woman who falsely claimed she was raped by three men because she regretted having sex with them jailed for two years

Woman who falsely claimed she was raped by three men because she regretted having sex with them jailed for two years

A woman who cried rape because she regretted having sex with three men at a drunken orgy has been jailed for two years for her ‘wicked’ lies. Rosie Dodd, 20, had been out drinking when she met the men, aged 25, 23, and 21, and started groping one of them on a bus on the way home. She had sex with them one after the other, but after telling a friend she felt ‘dirty’ she lied to police that she had been raped. The men, two of them students, then suffered a ‘nightmare’ involving intimate examinations and being locked up in cells. But after police became  concerned about inconsistencies in Dodd’s account, she admitted the encounters had been consensual. Last night she was put behind bars. On a social networking website, she has left displayed numerous photographs of herself with a string of men, apparently taken as trophies of her conquests. Jailing Dodd at Nottingham crown court, Judge John Milmo told her: ‘None of these three lads had seen the inside of a police station before. ‘They may well have been wrongly convicted if these charges had gone to trial. It was ten days before police managed to talk to you – and you admitted your allegations had been completely untrue. I am told, from your perspective, it was easier to tell lies rather than tell the truth. ‘I have no idea why you decided to make these wicked allegations.’ Dodd went out drinking in Nottingham city centre in June, downing eight vodkas and ending up in a casino. There she met one of her numerous ex-boyfriends and through him met the trio. She and the three men took a bus to a house in the Clifton area of the city, and  during the journey she began groping one of them. In the house she willingly had sex with all three. But afterwards she texted a friend saying that she felt ‘dirty’. With that in mind she claimed to police that all three of her partners had raped her. The men, who have not been named, were arrested on suspicion of rape and spent a total of 50 hours in custody before being released on bail. After further enquiries police grew suspicious and, when challenged, Dodd admitted she had consensual sex with the men and made up the claims because she felt regret at sleeping with them. But police said Dodd, of Nottingham, who is listed as in a relationship on a social media site, showed no remorse. She was charged with perverting the course of justice and pleaded guilty at a previous hearing. The court heard that one of her victims had recently graduated from university – but what should have been a time for celebration became a ‘nightmare’. Another victim, who was  also a student, said a medical investigation he was forced to go through was ‘awful’, and told of his embarrassment at having to detail the consensual sex he had had. One of the men said he feared his plans to work with children in America would be wrecked by the episode, although police claimed any trace of the investigation would be wiped from their files. None of the men had any criminal record.

Antibody prevents and cure’s flu

Single antibody found to both prevent and cure flu

Single antibody found to both prevent and cure flu

Single antibody found to both prevent and cure flu

A single antibody has been found to prevent the influenza virus from taking hold of host cells, as well as cure animals that are already infected, UT San Diego reported. Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., examined thousands of proteins in order to identify the antibody.  After analyzing the influenza virus in its 3-D crystalline form, the scientists discovered the antibody attacks a structure of the virus that is used to take hold of healthy cells. Study author Ian Wilson, a professor of structural biology at Scripps, said this discovery of focused binding has “never been seen before.” “It gives us some good idea about designs for vaccines and therapies,” Wilson said. The study involved collecting bone marrow from patients exposed to different strains of the influenza virus.  According to UT San Diego, bone marrow essentially acts as a storage facility for all the antibodies a person’s body has ever produced, so the study’s researchers knew the antibody they were looking for would be there. Next, the researchers created a catalogue of billions of flu antibodies, allowing them to pinpoint Co5 – an antibody able to bind to influenza A viruses.  Added to petri dishes of healthy cells and influenza A, Co5 stopped the cells from getting infected.  Mice studies echoed the same results, with Co5 preventing influenza in mice.  Also, when mice were given Co5 after having contracted the flu, all were cured. “Clearly, the holy grail is a universal flu vaccine, and this is another important step toward that,” Wilson said

 

‘heroin-like’ medicine crush’s major depression

 

Non-addictive, ‘heroin-like’ medicine may soon crush major depression:

Non-addictive, 'heroin-like' medicine may soon crush major depression

Non-addictive, ‘heroin-like’ medicine may soon crush major depression

What could easily be the most important advance in the pharmacologic treatment of major depression and anxiety disorders is now unfolding. A new investigational drug, currently known as ALKS 5461, could deliver all the mood-enhancing and anxiety-lowering effects that lead people to use opiates like heroin and Oxycontin—without the potential for getting high or addicted. That’s right:  ALKS 5461 could be a non-abusable, non-addictive heroin-like compound. ALKS 5461 is actually a combination of two molecules. The first is buprenorphine, which is already used to provide some of the benefits of opiates, without many of the worst side effects, allowing people to get off of street drugs (as an alternative to methadone). The second molecule is now known as ALKS 33—and that’s the magic part. ALKS 33 interferes with the binding of buprenorphine to the receptors that are involved in making people feel euphoric. Those are the receptors also involved in getting people to crave opiates like alcoholics crave alcohol. In a double-blind, placebo controlled study (meaning, the participants had no idea whether they were getting ALKS 5461 or a sugar pill), ALKS 5461 was rapidly effective in relieving symptoms in 32 patients with major depression.  All 32 patients responded to the medicine—with results evident by seven days. What’s more, all of them had failed to respond adequately to traditional antidepressants like Prozac or Effexor. Ultimately, I believe ALKS 5461 could revolutionize the pharmacologic treatment of major depression and panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It should come as no surprise that ALKS 5461 is the brainchild of scientists at Alkermes Pharmaceuticals, the same company, which invented and markets Vivitrol, a monthly injection that can take away the “high” of using alcohol and street drugs—and in my opinion, ought to be something that every family member of every addict clamors to get their loved one to take. If ALKS 5461 comes to market (and I believe it will), then that scourge we call major depression will be dealt a massive blow.  It will still be imperative to use insight-oriented psychotherapy to get to the bottom of what unique psychological issues have fueled each person’s depression, but that should be easier—not harder—when folks aren’t struggling just to get out of bed and over to their psychiatrists’ offices. This is a really big deal.

 

Japan’s Ambassador To China Killed

Japan’s Ambassador To China Killed; Attacks On Japanese Businesses, Citizens, Japanese Factories Set On Fire:

Japan’s Ambassador To China Killed; Attacks On Japanese Businesses, Citizens, Japanese Factories Set On Fire!!!

Japan’s Ambassador To China Killed; Attacks On Japanese Businesses, Citizens, Japanese Factories Set On Fire!!!

In the biggest flare-up on Sunday, police fired about 20 rounds of tear gas and used water cannon and pepper spray to repel thousands occupying a street in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. Protesters attacked a Japanese department store, grabbed police shields and knocked off their helmets. One protester was seen with blood on his face. At least one policeman was hit with a flowerpot.” And while the populist reaction was widely expected, the most surprising development came from Japan, where the designated ambassador to Beijing mysteriously died several hours ago after collapsing in the street without any obvious cause. China takes aim at Japan’s economy in protests over island ownership. Chinese are trying to hurt Japan economically for leverage in a bitter dispute over contested islands, turning to angry protests and calls for boycotts of Japanese businesses, abetted in part by China’s government. Sporadic protests in China over the past week became larger and at times violent and spread to at least two dozen cities over the weekend. Protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership in the eastern port of Qingdao, looted a Heiwado Co. department store in the southern city of Changsha and ransacked Japanese supermarkets in several cities. Though larger numbers of police imposed more order on demonstrations Sunday, they fired tear gas to subdue rowdy protesters in the southern city of Shenzhen. In nearby Guangzhou city, protesters broke into a hotel that was next to the Japanese Consulate and damaged a Japanese restaurant inside. Japan has demanded that China ensure the safety of Japanese citizens and businesses. “Unfortunately, this is an issue that is impacting the safety of our citizens and causing damage to the property of Japanese businesses,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, on Sunday. China-Japan Island Dispute Grows in ‘Blow’ for Global Economy. A territorial dispute between China and Japan worsened as Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he’ll demand the Chinese government ensure the safety of Japanese citizens, thousands protested in Chinese cities and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Panasonic Corp. (6752) reported damage to their operations. Demonstrators took to the streets in a dozen cities across China including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, calling for Chinese sovereignty over disputed islands and the boycott of Japanese goods. In the city of Shenzhen, police used tear gas and water cannons to stop protesters from reaching a Japanese department store, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.

Transhumanism CEO Says A.I. Singularity ‘Very Bad for Humans’

Top Transhumanism CEO Says AI Singularity Will Go ‘Very Badly For Humans’:

Top Transhumanism CEO Says AI Singularity Will Go ‘Very Badly For Humans’

Top Transhumanism CEO Says AI Singularity Will Go ‘Very Badly For Humans’

Promises of ‘immortality’ and a disease-free life have led many individuals to long for the hope of artificial intelligence and what is known as Singularity. It is essentially a merging of man and machine, the development of a ‘new species’ — a ‘borg’ of sorts. The subject recently made headlines when a major Russian scientist promised Singularity to the wealthy elite and ruling class by 2045 through the 2045 program, with artificial bodies available as early as 2015. On the surface it may sound enticing to those who are willing to trust their new artificial brains and bodies hooked up to a massive super computer that has control over their every action (through the utilization of RFID-like chips). Even the CEO of one of the largest and most well-known organizations known as the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence admits, however, that the boom in artificial intelligence leading up to Singularity will not go very well for humans. The high-powered CEO admits that not only is the research on artificial intelligence outpacing the safety research that is intended to keep it in check, but that Singularity would actually make humans the ‘prey’ of sorts to the ‘super-human’ AI. While doing an open Q&A on the community website Reddit, CEO Luke Muehlhauser explains that the superhuman AI would end up ‘optimizing’ the entire globe and starving resources from humans. In other words, the AI would suppress humans similar to the premise of iRobot or other similar works. This is particularly interesting when considering that artificial bodies and brains have been promised first to the wealthy elite by the 2045 program creator, allowing world rulers and the financial elite to achieve ‘immortality’ and subsequently a never-ending rule over the humans of the world. Muehlhauser explains how humans would become a ‘prey’ to the ruthless ‘super-human’ AI with the completion of Singularity:

“Unfortunately, the singularity may not be what you’re hoping for. By default the singularity (intelligence explosion) will go very badly for humans… so by default superhuman AIs will end up optimizing the world around us for something other than what we want, and using up all our resources to do so.

The concerns echo those put forth by researchers and analysts who have been following the concept of Singularity for decades. With the ultimate goal of linking all hyper-intelligent androids into a ‘cognitive network’ of sorts and eventually even forfeiting physical bodies, it’s clear that the Singularity movement even has its top supporters openly speaking out against it in many regards. What’s even more clear, however, is the fact that AI Singularity has no place for humankind — not even in a form of co-existence.

 

Artificial Intelligence By 2020

 

Artificial Intelligence Will Leapfrog Human’s By 2020:

"Artificial Intelligence Will Leapfrog Human's By 2020" -Says SciFi Great

“Artificial Intelligence Will Leapfrog Human’s By 2020” -Says SciFi Great

Artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence after 2020, predicts Vernor Vinge, a world-renowned pioneer in AI, who has warned about the risks and opportunities that an electronic super-intelligence would offer to mankind. “It seems plausible that with technology we can, in the fairly near future,” says scifi legend Vernor Vinge, “create (or become) creatures who surpass humans in every intellectual and creative dimension. Events beyond such an event — such a singularity — are as unimaginable to us as opera is to a flatworm.” “The Singularity” is seen by some as the end point of our current culture, when the ever-accelerating evolution of technology finally overtakes us and changes everything.  It’s been represented as everything from the end of all life to the beginning of a utopian age, which you might recognize as the endgames of most other religious beliefs. While the definitions of the Singularity are as varied as people’s fantasies of the future, with a very obvious reason, most agree that artificial intelligence will be the turning point.  Once an AI is even the tiniest bit smarter than us, it’ll be able to learn faster and we’ll simply never be able to keep up.  This will render us utterly obsolete in evolutionary terms, or at least in evolutionary terms as presented by people who view academic intelligence as the only possible factor.  Because that’s how people who imagine the future while talking online wish the world worked, ignoring things like “Hey, this is just a box” and “What does this power switch do?” There’s no question that technology is progressing at an ever-accelerating rate – we’ve generated more world-changing breakthroughs in the last fifty years than the entirety of previous human history combined.  The issue is the zealous fervor with which some see the Singularity as the end of all previous civilization, a “get out of all previous problems” card which ignores the most powerful factor in the world:  human stupidity. We’ve already invented things which would have been apocalyptic agents of the devil by any previous age.  We can talk with anyone all around the world, and we use it to try to sell insurance.  We tamed light itself in a coherent beam utterly unseen in nature, and use it to throw very sharp, very complicated rocks into other people’s heads.  We built an insanely complex computer web spanning the planet, and use it to pretend to be Nigerian. Of course we use it for good things as well but those who think the invention of artificial minds will end our idiocy are far overestimating their abilities.  We turned production line processing, international economics, world-spanning transport and professional design tools into “Billy The Singing Sea Bass” statues at 19.99 retail.  An AI would have to be Terminator Jesus to even begin to change our tune.  If an AI ever does exist, it’s going to wonder why it’s being asked for new ways to try to sell Cialis without using the word “penis” or “Cialis”. Pretty much every prediction of when the so-called “Singularity” will come depend on constant increases – ignoring how, for the first time ever, we are actually reaching the limits of what can actually be done.  This isn’t the idiotic “the world is flat” limits that we sailed past (and back around again) once someone grew the balls to try it, these are actual factual “you can’t build it any smaller because atoms are only so big”.  Of course we’re going to overcome those, because we’re awesome, but trying to timetable it is like writing a schedule for imagination. So whatever you think the Singularity is, it’s going to happen.  No question.  Entire international panels have been set up to study the potentially lethal effects of certain advances, but no-one would dream of stopping research – and even if they did they couldn’t stop other people.  But don’t be surprised when the main result of artificial intelligence research isn’t a utopian society or utterly authentic sex-bots, but the fact your spam filter doesn’t work anymore.

 

Dead baby pills sold in China

China is Reportedly Selling Pills Made Out of Dead Babies to Enhance Stamina:

China is Reportedly Selling Pills Made Out of Dead Babies to Enhance Stamina.

China is Reportedly Selling Pills Made Out of Dead Babies to Enhance Stamina.

In Korean news, pills made out of dead babies were being sold. A Korean television documentary team decided to track down the truth behind this rumor, and reportedly found a hospital that sells dead babies — mostly abortions or stillbirths, with “mostly” being a scary word here when you think about it — to medicine companies. The team found that when the hospital has a “deceased baby case,” the staff are instructed to immediately alert the medicine company. The television team also reportedly uncovered the process by which the dead baby pills are made. Supposedly, the medicine companies store the dead babies in a “normal family’s refrigerator,” so as to be undiscoverable, and when they are ready to use the dead baby, they put it into a medical drying microwave. Once dry, they grind the dead baby up and put the powder into a pill capsule. The television team paid a lot of money to get some of the pills, and when they tested them, found the pills’ contents were 99.7 percent human, and were also able to discern the babies’ gender from the powder, as well as found hair and nail remnants.

 

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China

 

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China, and He’s Not the Only One, U.S. Says:

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China, and He's Not the Only One, U.S. Says:

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China, and He’s Not the Only One, U.S. Says:

In the year-plus since he was released from jail, scientist Hu Zhicheng has been free, free to drive from his Shanghai apartment to his office two hours away, free to get acupuncture treatment for chronic back pain, free except to leave China and rejoin his family in America. Twice Hu went to airports to board flights out of China only to be turned back by border control officers. A China-born U.S. citizen and award-winning inventor of emission control systems for autos, Hu has written to the police who investigated him for infringing commercial secrets and met with the prosecutors who dropped the charges for lack of evidence. Yet he has not been allowed to leave — nor told why. “My priority is to go home and be with my family,” said Hu, slight, soft-spoken and reserved. “I know how much they have suffered.” Writ large, Hu’s case shows the pitfalls that Chinese who study and work in the West face when they return to apply their entrepreneurial zeal to the booming China market. Trade disputes that would be civil suits in the West become criminal cases in China. Chinese companies often cultivate influence with local officials and thus may rally law enforcement and a malleable legal system to their side when deals go awry. In Hu’s case, he and his wife believe that the company which accused him of secrets theft persuaded authorities to keep the travel ban in place. In China, sometimes punishment goes on even when the law says stop. Police in the eastern port of Tianjin where the dispute occurred said its case against Hu was closed long ago. The city’s prosecutors office did not answer questions about the case, nor did the company, Hysci (Tianjin) Specialty Materials Co. Both said the senior officials knowledgeable about the affair were away. With no apparent charges or investigation pending, lawyers said Hu should be free to go abroad under Chinese law. For Hu, it has been a nearly three-year ordeal, from the 17 months spent in a 20-to-30-inmate group cell in a Tianjin jail to an equally lengthy time since his release. “Even though technically he’s not a prisoner any more, he still is. The prison is a little bigger,” said a U.S. diplomat familiar with the case. The separation and uncertainty have taken a toll on him and his family. His wife has battled insomnia and left needed repairs to their Los Angeles area home go undone while she frets. Their daughter wrote her college admissions test essay on her father’s troubles. Now a student at University of California, Berkeley, she visited him in Shanghai last July — the only family member to see him — and launched an Internet petition to bring him home. His son, 13 when they last met, is growing up without him. “I haven’t seen him in three years. Then he was up to my chest,” the 49-year-old Hu said holding his hand mid-sternum. “Now he’s about six feet tall,” he said, removing his wire-rimmed glasses and turning his head to cry during a recent interview with The Associated Press in a Beijing coffee shop. A few reports about Hu’s situation have surfaced in Chinese-language media. Since his release, he and wife Hong Li refused repeated requests for interviews, hoping that quiet lobbying of Chinese and U.S. officials would bring him home. Their frustration growing, Hu agreed to be interviewed, providing the fullest account of his predicament. “My life is miserable. What do they want from me?” said Hu. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it has asked China’s foreign ministry and a phalanx of Tianjin politicians and agencies for help and the reasons for Hu’s travel ban to no result. There are other cases like Hu’s, the embassy said, without specifying how many. An acclaimed inventor of catalysts — chemical agents that speed up or slow reactions — for automobile catalytic converters, Hu has nine U.S. patents to his name and dozens more in Europe and elsewhere. He spent 20 years abroad doing research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and working for multinationals such as Engelhard Corp. in New Jersey. Among his breakthroughs: a catalyst that gives sports utility vehicles pollution controls comparable to sedans. He left that in 2004 to return to his native China along with his family and grab opportunities in a rocketing Chinese auto market that was short of experienced innovators. “It was really quite simple. In the U.S. the air quality is generally good — blue skies. In China you rarely see blue skies. So cleaning up the pollution would be much more effective, much more meaningful,” said Hu. His wife, Hong Li, holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and set up a company to supply materials for catalytic converters to Wuxi Weifu Environmental Catalysts Co., a local company near Shanghai trying to build top-grade equipment to supplant foreign imports. In 2006, when a noncompete agreement with Engelhard lapsed, Hu became chief scientist, and later president, for Wuxi Weifu. Soon the dispute surfaced with Hysci (Tianjin) Specialty Materials Co., which had ties to Hu and Li. Hysci was a supplier to Engelhard, recommended by a team Hu led to China in 2000, and its chairman Zhou Jun was a university classmate of Li’s. Hysci accused Hu of pilfering a process to make a zirconium catalyst and providing that information to Li’s company, a competitor, according to an open letter to Tianjin authorities that she posted on Sina Corporation’s popular Internet portal in March 2010. By late 2007, signs of trouble grew. Tianjin police repeatedly showed up at Hu’s offices in Wuxi 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the south. A legal adviser warned him that the accusations may lead to criminal charges. He moved his family back to Los Angeles. “I saw the risks,” Hu said. “The police kept coming. When my colleagues saw the police, they got scared.” Hu and Li say Hysci’s business had fizzled and was losing customers while chairman Zhou squabbled with chief executive Dou Shuhua, a farmer-turned-entrepreneur and well-connected politically in Tianjin. A bank account belonging to Li’s business remains frozen by Tianjin police, and she has not returned to China. While Hu waited in detention, Tianjin’s No. 2 Intermediate Court batted the case back to investigators for more evidence before approving prosecutors’ request to withdraw the case on April 29, 2010. Ten days later, escorted by two U.S. Embassy officials, Hu made his first aborted trip to the airport. “The border police in Beijing airport said ‘Contact the Tianjin police detectives in charge of your case,'” Hu recounted. The scene was repeated three months later, though without the U.S. officials, when he went to board a Hong Kong-bound flight in Wuxi, he said. Left in limbo, Hu has been consumed with trying to find out why he cannot leave and with seeking treatment for a herniated disc in his spine, a problem that arose soon after he left jail. He feels outmatched by a well-connected local company, having lived outside China for so long and having failed to cultivate the contacts Chinese prize for smoothing business. “I’m used to the U.S. and following the laws,” Hu said. “Clearly China is a different place.”

Stanford Organics Study “Fraud” – Sponsored Cargill & Tobacco Money

Stanford Organics Study A “Fraud” – Linked to Cargill & Tobacco Money:

Stanford Organics Study A “Fraud” – Linked to Cargill & Tobacco Money

Stanford Organics Study A “Fraud” – Linked to Cargill & Tobacco Money

A new study, issued by scientists at the Freeman Spogli institute at Stanford university in California, that suggests that organic food has no medical or health values is deeply flawed, say outraged activists. Media coverage of the scientific paper that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last week was mostly supportive, as is customary for studies from famous universities. “Organic Food ‘Not Any Healthier,” wrote a BBC journalist, while the New York Times published an article titled “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.” NGOs immediately questioned the conclusions of the study. “There was just no way that truly independent scientists with the expertise required to adequately answer such an important question would ignore the vast and growing body of scientific literature pointing to serious health risks from eating foods produced with synthetic chemicals,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, food and farm policy director at the Cornucopia Institute Institute, an organic farm policy organization in Wisconsin. “Make no mistake, the Stanford organics study is a fraud,” says Mike Adams of Naturalnews.com and Anthony Gucciardi of Naturalsociety.org. “The mainstream media has fallen for an elaborate scientific hoax that sought to destroy the credibility of organic foods by claiming they are “no healthier” than conventional foods (grown with pesticides and genetically modified organisms).” Adams and Gucciardi note that Dr. Ingram Olkin, a co-author of the organics study and a professor emeritus in statistics at Stanford, has deep financial ties to Cargill, the agribusiness multinational which sells genetically engineered foods. Olkin also accepted money from the tobacco industry’s Council for Tobacco Research, according to letters dating back to 1976. “I learned, in visiting with Dr. Olkin, that he would like to examine the theoretical structure of the “multivariate logistic risk function.” This particular statistical technique has been employed in the analysis of the Framingham study of heart disease,” wrote William W. Shinn, a lawyer with Shook Hardy & Bacon who represented the tobacco industry’s Committee of Counsel at the time. “He is asking for two years of support at the rate of $6,000 per year … We believe that a modest effort now may stimulate, a broader interest in such questions especially among theoretical statisticians at Stanford and elsewhere. Dr. Gardner has reviewed and approved the proposal.” “To say that conventional foods are safe is like saying that cigarettes are safe,” adds Adams. “Both can be propagandized with fraudulent science funded by corporate donations to universities, and we’re seeing the same scientist who helped Big Tobacco now helping Big Biotech in their attempt to defraud the public.” Stanford University has reacted to the controversy in a defensive manner: “This paper was published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal, and the researchers received no funding for the study from any outside company. We stand by the work and the study authors,” the university is quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times. “Stanford Center for Health Policy (where the study was conducted) has never received research money from Cargill.” One of the reasons that the Stanford study has become a lightning rod is a ballot initiative that California voters will be asked to vote on in November. Proposition 37 will require labeling on raw or processed food “if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways” and also “prohibit labeling or advertising such food as ‘natural.’”

 

Vaccine trial reveals HIV target

Analysis identifies target for immune response that could improve AIDS vaccines:

Vaccine trial reveals chinks in HIV's armour  Analysis identifies target for immune response that could improve AIDS vaccines.

Vaccine trial reveals chinks in HIV’s armour
Analysis identifies target for immune response that could improve AIDS vaccines.

HIV is finally revealing its weak spots to researchers, bringing an effective vaccine against AIDS closer to reality. A paper published in Nature today1 sheds light on how a vaccine can turn the immune system against the invading virus and so offer protection from infection. The results are also being presented at the AIDS Vaccine 2012 conference in Boston, Massachusetts, this week. The findings help to explain the results from a clinical trial of an AIDS vaccine that have puzzled researchers since they were published three years ago2. The trial, called RV144, was the first to score a success and see a reduction in HIV infections. But the vaccine’s relatively low response rate of 31% left researchers scratching their heads. A clue emerged last year with the revelation that those who responded to the vaccine and fended off HIV tended to produce antibodies against a specific part of the virus’s protein shell called the V1/V2 loop. The study published today goes a stage further, showing that the people who were vaccinated yet still contracted HIV had been infected by viruses that had mutations in the the V2 portion. “This is a really good paper,” says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland. “It adds to the growing body of information indicating that an immune response against components of the V1/V2 loop is important in vaccine-induced protection against infection.” The team behind the study was led by Morgane Rolland and Jerome Kim at the US Military HIV Research Program in Silver Spring, Maryland. They examined 936 HIV sequences collected from 44 trial participants who received the vaccine and became infected, and 66 people who got the placebo. The trial was randomized, so any systematic differences in the viral DNA sequences between the two groups will be due to selective pressure by the vaccine in favour of viruses that do not match the vaccine, Rolland says. The team identified two mutations that seemed to be linked to vaccination success. Both were located in the V2 region of the V1/V2 loop. Rolland and Kim’s team compared the rates of infection with viruses whose sequence varied at these two sites between people who received the vaccine and those who got a placebo. People who received the vaccine were 80% less likely to be infected by viruses with these mutations, compared to people who got a placebo. The implication is that the vaccine triggered an immune response that prevented certain viruses from infecting them, and only viruses with different sequences at those two sites had a good chance of creating an infection. Another study, led by researchers at NIAID, to be presented at the vaccine conference this week analysed the molecular structure of antibodies from the blood of vaccinated people and found that some of their antibodies recognized the same amino acids in the V2 region. The question facing vaccine developers now is how to improve the response against V2. A vaccine similar to that used in RV144 is set to be tested in South Africa and among men who have sex with men in Thailand in two trials that will begin around 2014. Scientists hope that giving a booster within a year of the first jab and a new adjuvant will lead to a stronger and longer-lasting response against HIV and its V2 region, says Kim who is helping to design the trials. Mounting a response against V2 “isn’t the whole answer to vaccine protection”, says Fauci, but “you can be darn sure people are going to figure out how to rev it up”.

Apple iPhone 5 Sucks

New technical specifications for the iPhone 5 just don’t make the magic mark for me, what ever happened to the clear phone concept?  And why didn’t it ever come out, they have the technology for this:

Iphone 5 Sucks

IPhone 5 Sucks

When it comes to deflating expectations, Apple chief Tim Cook takes Centre stage!  This Wednesdays launch of the new Apple iPhone 5 was a huge disappointment. Expectations were high and that it would be more than a revamping of the old iPhone 4 and 4s.  A thinner profile, with minor hardware upgrades is all that Apple had to offer its customers.  Let’s not get into the new cable, which completely renders all other existing apple products useless.

The event was held at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Performing Arts in San Francisco.  The new handset that has a mildly larger screen was showcased by none other than Apples new Failer CEO Tim Cook.  This new phone has a new operating system iOS 6 mobile, which is only a little better than the previous version compromising any new major advancement against the industry competition.  Google (GooG), Samsung (SSNLF), Microsoft (MSFT), and a few other’s clearly rival the large markets of mobile computing which Apple could have taken if not for its blunder showcase of the new iPhone 5 this Wednesday.

This semi-failure clearly shows apples incompetence in leading the way for new Smartphone products.  Since the companies co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs death last year.  Tim Cook has not been able to deliver on Mr. Jobs promise of telling everyone that they will continue to show amazing new products in the future.  Apple’s marketing guru Phil Schillers comments on the new iPhone 5 clearly misleads the public into new apple trickery when he says, ” We have the most beautiful device that we’ve ever made.”  One can tell by even a quick glance that the iPhone 4 or even the 4s for that matter, almost matches the iPhone 5 in every way.  Why would anyone who owns an iPhone 4 switch to an almost identical Smartphone?

Mr. Cooks copy cat appearance, down to the black shirt and jeans cannot hide the fact that he does not match the leadership of the late Steve Jobs.  This larger screen with its advancement of a fifth row of icons on its home screen isn’t even an improvement.  A lot of what was said at the product launch was hype. The iPhone 5 will be larger, and faster while connecting to new networks doesn’t take away the awe factor of major new advancements in the Smart phone industry! Are these even real improvements?  Shouldn’t these upgrades be applied to the older iPhone 4 and 4s?  I really love the fact that the iPhone sported a front and back glass panel. Doesn’t everyone catch on that the metal back is much cheaper to produce?  Cutting the costs of manufacturing and lying to everyone that it is major improvement is deception!  You can directly blame Apples new CEO Tim Cook for allowing this trickery to take place.

There some basic overall improvement to talk about.  One is the new A6 chip set, that almost doubles the CPU speed allowing graphics and processing power to take place.  However, these are only standard improvements dictated by the manufacturing industry. Where is the magic that everyone wanted to see with a brand new product launch?  The ability to have games played more seamlessly is only a mild added touch.  Everything else seems to be the same, just a fractional noticeable difference.

There was some criticism of the Sanfransico launch that Mr. Cooks mannerism was somewhat withdrawn, that his mood seems to less than enthusiastic.  Could this be the subconscious realization that their new product was less than wonderful.  The previous launch of the iPhone 4 was a major success, smash down the walls of where the industry was headed.  Basically if it wasn’t for the iPhone 4, most cellular providers would still be forcing everyone to use an old outdated 3g network.  While the iPhone 4 and the desire to own a world changing device indirectly blackmailed cell network providers to re-invest millions of dollars to introduce a new and better 4g service.  I just don’t see this with the new iPhone 5 at all, the ability to connect to slightly different services is just not the same.  Dual Band wifi does not take away from the fact that all major cellular providers want to squash this industry from taking off.  We just don’t see serious wifi taken off, mapping or covering a large area of a city or anything like this.  I don’t think anyone was expecting the see a brand new 5g service being introduced, but it most certainly takes away from the magic that was once present with a recently older product.   That in my view is basically the same!

U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows Widespread Torture

 

U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows More Widespread Torture, Says Human Rights Watch:

 U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows More Widespread Torture, Says Human Rights Watch


U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows More Widespread Torture, Says Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch said it has uncovered evidence of a wider use of waterboarding than previously acknowledged by the CIA, in a report Thursday detailing brutal treatment of detainees at U.S.-run lockups abroad after the 9/11 attacks. The accounts by two former Libyan detainees who said they underwent simulated drowning emerge only days after the Justice Department closed its investigation of the CIA’s use of severe interrogation methods. Investigators said they could not prove any agents crossed the lines authorized by the Bush administration in the “war on terror” program of detention and rendition. Any new instances of waterboarding, however, would go beyond the three that the CIA has said were authorized. The 154-page report features interviews by the New York-based group with 14 Libyan dissident exiles. They describe systematic abuses while they were held in U.S.-led detention centers in Afghanistan – some as long as two years – or in U.S.-led interrogations in Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, Sudan and elsewhere before the Americans handed them over to Libya. The report also paints a more complete picture of Washington’s close cooperation with the regime of Libya’s former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Islamist opponents of Gadhafi detained by the U.S. were handed over to Libya with only thin “diplomatic assurances” they would be properly treated, and several of them were subsequently tortured, Human Rights Watch said. “Not only did the U.S. deliver (Gadhafi) his enemies on a silver platter, but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first, said Laura Pitter, counterterrorism adviser at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The scope of the Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged,” she said.  Asked about the new waterboarding claim, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said the agency “has been on the record that there are three substantiated cases” of its use. She said she could not comment on the specific allegations but noted the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute after it “exhaustively reviewed the treatment of more than 100 detainees in the post-9/11 period – including allegations involving unauthorized interrogation techniques.” Former President George W. Bush, his Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA have said that waterboarding was used only on three senior al-Qaida suspects at secret CIA black sites in Thailand and Poland – Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, Aby Zubayda and Abd al-Rahman al-Nashiri, all currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The technique involves pouring water on a hooded detainee’s nose and mouth until he feels he is drowning. Rights groups and some Obama administration officials say waterboarding and other severe techniques authorized by the CIA constitute torture, while Bush administration officials argue they do not. The Obama administration has ordered a halt to waterboarding and many of the harsh techniques. The 14 Libyans interviewed by Human Rights Watch were swept up in the American hunt for Islamic militants and al-Qaida figures around the world after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They were mostly members of the anti-Gadhafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who fled in the 1980s and 1990s to Pakistan, Afghanistan and African countries. The group ran training camps in Afghanistan at the same time al-Qaida was based there but it largely shunned Osama bin Laden and his campaign against the United States, focusing instead on fighting Gadhafi. Ironically, the U.S. turned around and helped the Libyan opposition overthrow Gadhafi in 2011. Now several of the 14 former detainees hold positions in the new Libyan government. The accounts of simulated drowning came from Mohammed al-Shoroeiya and Khaled al-Sharif, who also described a gamut of abuses they went through – all reflecting the methods known to have been authorized by the CIA. The two were seized in Pakistan in April 2003 and taken to U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, where al-Shoroeiya was held for 16 months and al-Sharif for two years before they were handed over to Libya. In Afghanistan, they were shackled in cells for months in variety of positions, often naked in almost total darkness with music blaring continuously, left to defecate and urinate on themselves. For example, al-Sharif spent three weeks seated on the ground with his ankles and wrists chained to a ring in the cell’s wall, forcing him to keep his arms and legs elevated. He said he was taken out of his shackles once a day for a half-hour to eat. For the first three months, they were not allowed to bathe. “We looked like monsters,” al-Shoroeiya said. Al-Shoroeiya described being locked naked for a day and a half in a tall, tight, half-meter-wide (1 1/2-foot-wide) chamber with his hands chained above his head, with no food as Western music blasted loudly from speakers next to his ears the entire time. At another point, he was stuffed into a box resembling a footlocker, about 1 meter by 1 meter (3 feet by 3 feet), and kept there for more than an hour as interrogators prodded him with long, thin objects through holes in the side of the box. Both he and Sharif said they were repeatedly taken to a room where they were slammed against a wooden wall and punched in the abdomen. Al-Shoroeiya said one female American interrogator told him, “Now you are under the custody of the United States of America. In this place there will be no human rights. Since September 11, we have forgotten about something called human rights,” according to the report. Al-Shoroeiya described being waterboarded, though he did not use the term. He said he was put in a hood and strapped upside down on a wooden board. Freezing water was poured over his nose and mouth until he felt he was suffocating. During several half-hour interrogation sessions, they would waterboard him multiple times, asking him questions in between while a doctor monitored his body temperature. “They wouldn’t stop until they got some sort of answer from me,” he told HRW. Al-Sharif described a similar technique. Instead of being strapped to a board, he was put on a plastic sheet with guards holding up the edges, while freezing water was poured over him, including onto his hooded face directly over his mouth and nose. “I felt as if I were suffocating,” he told HRW. “I spent three months getting interrogated heavily … and they gave me a different kind of torture every day. Sometimes they used water, sometimes not.” Others of the 14 former detainees, including three held in the same U.S.-led prisons in Afghanistan, described similar treatment as al-Shoroeiya and al-Sharif, though not simulated drowning. One of them, Majid Mokhtar Sasy al-Maghrebi, said he nearly went insane in isolation after months being shackled naked in dark, freezing cells with music blaring, pounding his head against the wall and screaming, “I want to die, why don’t you just kill me?” Another, detained in Mauritania, said that during interrogations by a foreigner he believed was American, his wife was brought to the detention center; his captors showed him his wife through a peephole and threatened to rape her if he did not cooperate. Human Rights Watch said the U.S. failed in its post-9/11 campaign to distinguish between Islamists targeting the United States and those who “may simply have been engaged in armed opposition against their own repressive regimes. “This failure risked aligning the United States with brutal dictators,” the report said. Eight of those interviewed were handed over to Libya in 2004 – the same year then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a public rapprochement with Gadhafi and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell signed a major exploration deal off the Libyan coast, the HRW report noted. The remaining six were transferred to Libya over the two following years. All were jailed by Gadhafi’s regime, most freed only after his fall. Most said they were not physically tortured – perhaps a result of Gadhafi’s attempts to mend fences with the West – but were kept in solitary confinement for long periods. Several, however, told HRW they were beaten and tortured, including being given electrical shocks. The report also calls into question Libyan claims that one figure handed over by the Americans, Ibn el-Sheikh al-Libi, committed suicide in a Libyan prison. Al-Libi was held in U.S. secret prisons for years and gave information under torture by the Egyptians that the Bush administration used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq but was later discredited. After his handover, Libyan authorities said he hanged himself in his cell. But HRW researchers said they were shown photos of his body that showed signs of torture. Messages to Libya from the CIA and British intelligence among the Tripoli Documents published by HRW indicated the United States and Britain were eager to help Libya obtain several senior LIFG figures, including its co-founders, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi. Belhaj and his then-pregnant wife were detained by Malaysia in 2004 with the help of British intelligence and then handed over to the CIA in Thailand, where he told HRW he was stripped and beaten. They were then taken to Libya, where Belhaj was imprisoned. After Belhaj arrived in Libya, a message believed to be from the then-head of counterterrorism at British intelligence congratulates the Libyan intelligence chief. Britain’s help “was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built,” he wrote.