Monday, December 26, 2011

French breast implant fears spread around world

Fears over the safety of breast implants made by a now defunct French firm spread to Australia, South America and across Europe on Thursday as French officials prepared to decide if thousands of women should have their implants surgically removed.

The silicone gel implants, made by a company called Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) that was shut down in 2010, appear to have an unusually high rupture rate and have sparked an investigation in France into possible links to cancer.

About 300,000 PIP implants, used in cosmetic surgery to enhance breast size or replace lost breast tissue, were sold worldwide before PIP went bust last year.

An investigation into PIP found it was using a type of silicone not approved by health authorities but about 10 times cheaper. The industrial-grade silicone PIP is accused of using is an ingredient in anything from computers to cookware. Read More

Obama plans nuclear scientist exchange with China... the same kind of exchange in which China stole tons of technology in the 1990's

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel B. Poneman is working on a major Obama administration initiative that would renew scientist exchanges between U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories and Chinese nuclear facilities.

The idea is aimed at promoting openness and transparency by China’s military about its secret, large-scale buildup of nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials.

Critics say the plan is similar to an exchange program in the 1990s that sent U.S. nuclear scientists to China and produced one of the worst cases of nuclear espionage. Secrets about every deployed warhead in the U.S. arsenal were compromised, including the W-88 small nuclear warhead deployed on submarine-launched missiles.

“We’ve seen this movie before, and it has a bad ending,” one official said.

Officials familiar with the plan told Inside the Ring that the initiative was discussed during a recent policy committee meeting of senior national security officials at the White House.

The initiative is part of the administration’s arms-control-centered security policies. According to the officials, the administration hopes to coax the reluctant Chinese communist leadership and its military into engaging the United States in strategic nuclear talks, something China so far has refused.

“This is a way to reach out to [the Chinese] with multilateral arms-control programs,” said a second U.S. official familiar with the plan. Read More

Four ex-NFL players suing for alleged brain damage: Are you not entertained?

Four former National Football League players, including two Pro Bowl players, sued the league over brain injuries that they say left them facing medical problems years after their careers ended.

Dorsey Levens and Jamal Lewis, both named to the annual All-Star Pro Bowl, as well as Fulton Kuykendall and Ryan Stewart, filed the lawsuit against the National Football League and NFL Properties LLC on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

The suits are the latest in a series filed against the NFL in recent months by former players who say the league did not do enough to protect them from concussions.

The Atlanta suit alleges the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the potential for concussions but only made them public in 2010.

"The NFL not only failed to take effective action in an attempt to protect players from suffering, but failed to inform players of the true risks associated with concussions," the suit said. Read More

Problems possible with nearly 65,000 Arlington graves, report says

After a year-long effort to account for every grave at Arlington National Cemetery, Army officials said Thursday that there might be problems, some as minor as typographical errors in paper records, with nearly 65,000 sites — or one-quarter of the graves at the nation’s most prominent military burial ground.

In a highly anticipated report, mandated by Congress last year after the discovery of misidentified remains, the cemetery cited monumental challenges in completing the task: missing Civil War-era logs, illegible headstones and burial procedures that changed significantly over the 150-year history of the site.

“In a lot of cases, the marker is absolutely right,” said Army Col. John Schrader, the co-chair of the task force. “The service was conducted flawlessly and someone wrote something on a piece of paper wrong.”

Although the review has not yet found additional people buried in the wrong spots, “the discovery of burial errors cannot be ruled out,” the report said.

Congress ordered the accounting after an Army investigation found widespread problems, including mismarked or unmarked graves, urns that had been dug up and dumped on a dirt pile, and millions of dollars wasted on contracts that produced nothing.

Since then, additional problems have been discovered, including a mass grave that held eight sets of cremated remains, prompting a criminal investigation by the FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. Read More

Ancient Roman pillar collapses at Pompeii villa

A pillar was found collapsed at an ancient Roman villa in Pompeii on Thursday, as the government prepares a series of measures to preserve the unique but dilapidated archaeological area.

Police were called in to carry out checks at the picturesque Loreius Tiburtinus villa from the 2nd century BC after the collapse of a pillar supporting one of the pergolas there was noticed by local technical staff.

The villa has a large garden with pergolas and ponds, following a fashion of creating country-like residences in an urban environment.

The pillar was 2.4 metres (7.9 feet) high and may have been toppled by the heavy rain and winds that have lashed Naples in recent days.

Prime Minister Mario Monti's government announced this month that it will increase staff and funding for restoration at the site.

Two collapses at the site last year triggered a storm of criticism against then premier Silvio Berlusconi's government.

Located near Naples in southern Italy, Pompeii was buried in volcanic ash in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and is the best preserved ancient Roman site in the world. It has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997. Read More

BIRD FLU~THE NEXT PANDEMIC MIGHT BE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK

In the West Bank, a horror story

Israeli settlers frequently attack Palestinians; now, the settlers are turning on the Israeli army.

There is a famous scene in Mary Shelley's classic where Victor Frankenstein realises that he created a monster and that this monster might be the end of him. Such is the scene that comes to mind when thinking about the news emerging from the occupied West Bank in recent days. Israeli settlers, living in illegal colonies in Palestinian territory, rioted again. This time, however, they did not go after their usual target - Palestinian civilians - rather, they raided an Israeli military base where they injured an Israeli soldier.

Suddenly, the Israeli government sprang into action. An emergency meeting of the Israeli cabinet was called. Officials - Israeli officials - even began to use the term "terrorist" to describe the perpetrators.

Just a day earlier, Israeli settlers from the Settlement of Yitzhar raided the Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya, causing damage to property and terrifying residents. Also, in the past week alone, three different Palestinian mosques in Ramallah, Salfit and Jerusalem suffered arson attacks at the hands of Israeli settlers. Read More

Cyber Cold War rhetoric haunts the US and China

Claims of an undeclared cyberwar between China and the US are inaccurate, and misrepresent both countries' interests.

New York, NY - In January 2010, a Google executive announced "a new approach to China" in a blog post, revealing that the firm had "detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack… originating from China" and that it would reconsider business operations there. In the ensuing two years, US rhetoric about China and cyber security has become ever more breathless.

"China is waging a quiet, mostly invisible but massive cyberwar against the United States," wrote the Washington Post editorial board earlier this month. A Bloomberg News headline summed up concerns about attacks on corporate targets by conjuring an "undeclared cyber cold war."

Computer systems in government and the private sector are indeed vulnerable to unauthorised access, as seen in the recent report of an allegedly China-based incursion at the US Chamber of Commerce. People who gain access can exfiltrate data, insert false information, or further tamper with systems for a variety of purposes. But the notion of a cyber cold war with China is inaccurate and irresponsible.

At war with whom?

The Cold War was in no small part defined by mutually assured destruction. The United States, the Soviet Union and their allies, had a relatively clean notion of "the adversary" that made strategic accommodation possible. If one side were to initiate a nuclear attack, it would be quite clear which side was responsible. Read More

Fighting the "One Percent's" wars

An American fact is the 99 per cent are far too remote from the wars of choice and those who fight them, argues author.

Williamsport, Pennsylvania - America's wars are remote. They're remote from us geographically, remote from us emotionally (unless you're serving in the military or have a close relative or friend who serves), and remote from our major media outlets, which have given us no compelling narrative about them, except that they're being fought by "America's heroes" against foreign terrorists and evil-doers. They're even being fought, in significant part, by remote control - by robotic drones "piloted" by ground-based operators from a secret network of bases located hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from the danger of the battlefield.

Their remoteness, which breeds detachment if not complacency at home, is no accident. Indeed, it's a product of the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were wars of choice, not wars of necessity. It's a product of the fact that we've chosen to create a "warrior" or "war fighter" caste in this country, which we send with few concerns and fewer qualms to prosecute Washington's foreign wars of choice.

The results have been predictable, as in predictably bad. The troops suffer. Iraqi and Afghan innocents suffer even more. And yet we don't suffer, at least not in ways that are easily noticeable, because of that very remoteness. We've chosen - or let others do the choosing - to remove ourselves from all the pain and horror of the wars being waged in our name. And that's a choice we've made at our peril, since a state of permanent remote war has weakened our military, drained our treasury, and eroded our rights and freedoms.

Wars of necessity vs wars of choice

World War II was a war of necessity. In such a war, all Americans had a stake. Adolf Hitler and Nazism had to be defeated; so too did Japanese militarism. Indeed, war goals were that clear, that simple, to state. For that war, we relied without controversy on an equitable draft of citizen-soldiers to share the burdens of defence. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION- 27th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India Region at a depth of 32.3 km (20.1 miles), the quake hit at 03:25:53 UTC Tuesday 27th December 2011.
The epicenter was 93 km (57 miles) SSW of Mohean, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF NEW ZEALAND - 27th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck near the Coast of New Zealand at a depth of 8 km (4.9 miles), the quake hit at 02:33:25 UTC Tuesday 27th December 2011.
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) East of Christchurch, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time