The official NEWS Thread
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Author:  42317 [ May 25th, 2007, 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  The official NEWS Thread


This thread is dedicated to official news which can be found in newspapers, magazines or broadcasts.
If possible, give online sources.
If it's not from an online source give other reference, like (if printed media) TIMES Magazine, 12/2006, p. 56 or
(if broadcast) NBC News, 28/04/2007. Be sure to stick to the original text.
If the original language is not English, translate whatever you deem necessary as good as you can.

I've been browsing BILD der WISSENSCHAFT (a German science magazine) and there's always interesting stuff.

1. Garlic is good for adding taste to your meals, but it does not help lower your cholesterol levels.
Researchers from Stanford University have made several experiments, providing some people with fresh garlic, others with garlic pills and others with placebos. None of the groups showed any change in cholesterol levels. Garlic being especially healthy is therefore a legend which was spread by research sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.
BILD der WISSENSCHAFT, 06/2007, p. 7)

2. Penalty kicks are a challenge for a goal keeper, but as a keeper you can maximize your chances by standing a few inches away from the middle. Players unconsciously shoot the corner that seems bigger more often. So as a keeper, leave five inches more space to your left and just jump there. Such tactics will raise your chances by 10 %. That's not so bad.
This was examined by sports psychologists at HongKong university.
From all the shots, 82 % got through, but it was found that in 96 % of such cases, the keeper stood not in the middle of his goal.
(BILD der WISSENSCHAFT, 06/2007, p. 8 )

3. Cyberpunk is coming closer.
The university of Tuebingen/Germany is developing hardware and software that makes the control of technical devices via thought possible. Of course, success is still minimal and the products are pretty expensive, but it is already feasible to control artificial limbs. So a person whose hand is immobile due to nerve damage can, wired to some fancy machine, control an auxiliary that moves his hand - by imagining moving his hand. German research is after hardware that works non-invasively, which means you don't have to have a chip implanted somewhere.
A side benefit of such research is the development of similar game controls: Put on a helmet, think this and that and your hero avatar on the monitor will act. Such a device is being developed by Emotiv Systems, but scientists doubt that their helmet labelled "Epoc" is as far developed as the company claims, since every brain is pretty individual.

Invasice technologies are tried in the USA by Cyberkinetics Incorporation, a chip called "BrainGate".
A person named Matthew Nagle (can only move his head) agreed to have the 4x4 mm chip implanted and learned how to use a cursor, handle E-Mails and a TV set, played simple computer games and operated a robot hand. But after a while the chip read less and less signals and eventually ceased functioning.

The therapy must be applied as soon as possible, because once a body function is lost, the brain forgets how to use it.
Some patients who had been disabled for years had to imagine rather strong or quick movements in order to emit a signal, imagination of a normal limb movement did not subdue the so-called SMR (senso-motoric rhythm) signal - it's a 10-20 Hz wave that exists whenever we rest and disappears as soon as we plan to act in some conscious way.
(BILD der WISSENSCHAFT, 06/2007, p. 22-27)

Author:  42317 [ August 20th, 2007, 6:35 am ]
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Here's an interesting article from Foreign Policy

Few serious individuals still contest that global climate change is among the most important challenges of our time. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is a very real phenomenon, that human activity has contributed to it, and that some degree of climate change is inevitable.

We are no longer arguing over the reality of climate change, but rather, its potential consequences. According to one emerging “conventional wisdom,” climate change will lead to international and civil wars, a rise in the number of failed states, terrorism, crime, and a stampede of migration toward developed countries.

It sounds apocalyptic, but the people pushing this case are hardly a lunatic fringe. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for instance, has pointed to climate change as the root cause of the conflict in Darfur. A group of high-ranking retired U.S. military officers recently published a report that calls climate change “a threat multiplier for instability.” An earlier report commissioned by the Pentagon argues that conflicts over scarce resources will quickly become the dominant form of political violence. Even the Central Intelligence Agency is reportedly working on a National Intelligence Estimate that will focus on the link between climate change and U.S. national security.

These claims generally boil down to an argument about resource scarcity. Desertification, sea-level rise, more-frequent severe weather events, an increased geographical range of tropical disease, and shortages of freshwater will lead to violence over scarce necessities. Friction between haves and have-nots will increase, and governments will be hard-pressed to provide even the most basic services. In some scenarios, mass migration will ensue, whether due to desertification, natural disasters, and rising sea levels, or as a consequence of resource wars. Environmental refugees will in turn spark political violence in receiving areas, and countries in the “global North” will erect ever higher barriers to keep culturally unwelcome—and hungry—foreigners out.

The number of failed states, meanwhile, will increase as governments collapse in the face of resource wars and weakened state capabilities, and transnational terrorists and criminal networks will move in. International wars over depleted water and energy supplies will also intensify. The basic need for survival will supplant nationalism, religion, or ideology as the fundamental root of conflict.

Dire scenarios like these may sound convincing, but they are misleading. Even worse, they are irresponsible, for they shift liability for wars and human rights abuses away from oppressive, corrupt governments. Additionally, focusing on climate change as a security threat that requires a military response diverts attention away from prudent adaptation mechanisms and new technologies that can prevent the worst catastrophes.

First, aside from a few anecdotes, there is little systematic empirical evidence that resource scarcity and changing environmental conditions lead to conflict. In fact, several studies have shown that an abundance of natural resources is more likely to contribute to conflict. Moreover, even as the planet has warmed, the number of civil wars and insurgencies has decreased dramatically. Data collected by researchers at Uppsala University and the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo shows a steep decline in the number of armed conflicts around the world. Between 1989 and 2002, some 100 armed conflicts came to an end, including the wars in Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Cambodia. If global warming causes conflict, we should not be witnessing this downward trend.

Furthermore, if famine and drought led to the crisis in Darfur, why have scores of environmental catastrophes failed to set off armed conflict elsewhere? For instance, the U.N. World Food Programme warns that 5 million people in Malawi have been experiencing chronic food shortages for several years. But famine-wracked Malawi has yet to experience a major civil war. Similarly, the Asian tsunami in 2004 killed hundreds of thousands of people, generated millions of environmental refugees, and led to severe shortages of shelter, food, clean water, and electricity. Yet the tsunami, one of the most extreme catastrophes in recent history, did not lead to an outbreak of resource wars. Clearly then, there is much more to armed conflict than resource scarcity and natural disasters.

Second, arguing that climate change is a root cause of conflict lets tyrannical governments off the hook. If the environment drives conflict, then governments bear little responsibility for bad outcomes. That’s why Ban Ki-moon’s case about Darfur was music to Khartoum’s ears. The Sudanese government would love to blame the West for creating the climate change problem in the first place. True, desertification is a serious concern, but it’s preposterous to suggest that poor rainfall—rather than deliberate actions taken by the Sudanese government and the various combatant factions—ultimately caused the genocidal violence in Sudan. Yet by Moon’s perverse logic, consumers in Chicago and Paris are at least as culpable for Darfur as the regime in Khartoum.

To be sure, resource scarcity and environmental degradation can lead to social frictions. Responsible, accountable governments, however, can prevent local squabbles from spiraling into broader violence, while mitigating the risk of some severe environmental calamities. As Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has observed, no democracy has ever experienced a famine. Politicians who fear the wrath of voters usually do their utmost to prevent foreseeable disasters and food shortages. Accountable leaders are also better at providing public goods such as clean air and water to their citizens.

Third, dire predictions about the coming environmental wars imply that climate change requires military solutions—a readiness to forcibly secure one’s own resources, prevent conflict spillovers, and perhaps gain control of additional resources. But focusing on a military response diverts attention from simpler, and far cheaper, adaptation mechanisms. Technological improvements in agriculture, which have yet to make their way to many poor farmers, have dramatically increased food output in the United States without significantly raising the amount of land under cultivation. Sharing simple technologies with developing countries, such as improved irrigation techniques and better seeds and fertilizers, along with finding alternative energy supplies and new freshwater sources, is likely to be far more effective and cost saving in the long run than arms and fortifications. States affected by climate change can move people out of flood plains and desert areas, promote better urban planning, and adopt more efficient resource-management systems.

Yes, climate change is a serious problem that must be addressed, and unchecked environmental degradation may lead to intensified competition over scarce resources in certain regions. The good news is that the future is not written in stone. How governments respond to the challenge is at least as important as climate change itself, if not more so. Well-managed, transparent political systems that are accountable to their publics can take appropriate measures to prevent armed conflict. If the grimmest scenarios come to pass and environmental change contributes to war, human rights abuse, and even genocide, it will be reckless political leaders who deserve much of the blame.

Idean Salehyan is assistant professor of political science at the University of North Texas and coauthor of “Climate Change and Conflict: The Migration Link,” published by the International Peace Academy in New York.

Can be found at "Foreign Policy", The new Myth about Climate Change

Author:  42317 [ August 21st, 2007, 10:49 am ]
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The following article is from, by AP, released on August 21st, 2007.


FORT MEADE, Maryland - Opening statements were set for Tuesday in the court martial of the only U.S. officer charged with abusing prisoners in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

A military judge on Monday dismissed two of the most serious charges against Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, 51, a reservist, after a general who investigated the scandal acknowledged he had not read Jordan his rights before interviewing him. The action left Jordan still facing four counts and a possible 8 1/2 years in prison.

Prosecutors on Monday amended one of those remaining counts, a cruelty and maltreatment charge, by narrowing its scope from three months to one day.

Jordan, who has pleaded innocent, is the last of 12 Abu Ghraib defendants to be court-martialed.

The scandal - photos of inmates being abused and humiliated by smiling guards - was a major embarassement for the U.S. in Iraq, and was a catalyst that continued to stoke Arab and Muslim resentment over the U.S. presence in Iraq long after other cases surfaced in which U.S. troops were accused of abusing or killing Iraqi civilians.

It struck a patricularly harsh note in Iraq, though, because the prison under Saddam Hussein's regime, had been synonymous with the torture and killings of inmates, including women and children.

In court Monday morning, prosecutor Lt. Col. John P. Tracy announced that Maj. Gen. George Fay had contacted prosecutors Sunday to say that he "misspoke" during a March 12 pretrial hearing in which he testified under oath that he had advised Jordan of his rights during an interview in 2004.

Tracy said Fay realized his error while preparing to testify at Jordan's trial this week. Fay told government lawyers that "he indeed did not read Lt. Col. Jordan his rights," Tracy said.

The judge, Army Col. Stephen R. Henley, then ordered Jordan's statements to Fay suppressed and granted the government's motion to dismiss two charges based on the 2004 interview. The first charge was that Jordan made a false official statement, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison. The second was false swearing and obstruction of justice, punishable by up to three years.

In the 2004 statement, Jordan told Fay he never saw detainees being abused and never saw nude detainees.

Jordan still is charged with disobeying Fay's order barring him from discussing the investigation with others.

The three other remaining counts refer to the treatment of prisoners documented in photographs of low-ranking U.S. Soldiers assaulting and humiliating naked detainees at the prison in Iraq in late 2003 and early 2004. Jordan, the former director of the prison's interrogation center, is not in any of the pictures; he is accused of failing to obtain approval to use dogs during an interrogation on Nov. 24, 2003, and of subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation that day.

The specific charges are: failure to obey a regulation, which is punishable by up to two years in prison; cruelty and maltreatment of detainees, punishable by up to one year; and dereliction of duty, which carries a maximum prison sentence of six months.

Fay interviewed many other Soldiers during his investigation. In his report, he concluded that Jordan's tacit approval of harsh tactics during a weapons search on Nov. 24, 2003, "set the stage for the abuses that followed for days afterward."

The search, known as the "roundup," followed an episode in which a Syrian detainee fired at Jordan and other Soldiers with a handgun he had obtained from Iraqi police officers, according to investigative records.

Before jury selection began Monday, prosecutors narrowed the scope of the cruelty and maltreatment charge to a single incident - the roundup - rather than the period from mid-September through late December 2003.

Jordan told The Washington Post last month that he is a scapegoat who, because he is a reservist, is considered expendable.

Jordan's defense, led by Capt. Samuel Spitzberg contends that although Jordan was the titular head of the interrogation center, he spent most of his time trying to improve Soldiers' deplorable living conditions at Abu Ghraib. The defense argued during an October hearing that interrogation conditions were set by two other officers: Col. Thomas Pappas, an intelligence brigade commander who was the highest-ranking officer at Abu Ghraib, and Capt. Carolyn Wood, leader of a unit within the interrogation center called the Interrogation Command Element.

Neither Pappas nor Wood has been charged with crimes. Pappas was reprimanded and fined $8,000 for once approving the use of dogs during an interrogation without higher approval.

The jury panel is composed of nine colonels and a brigadier general.

Eleven enlisted Soldiers have been convicted of crimes at Abu Ghraib. The longest prison term was given to former Cpl. Charles Graner Jr, who was sentenced in January 2005 to 10 years for assault, battery, conspiracy, maltreatment, indecent acts and dereliction of duty.

This is the link to the original article


Now what's this supposed to mean? Charges are dropped if the defendant wasn't officially read his rights? Please tell me the meaning behind this procedure - it doesn't "undo" a crime!

My interpretation of this incident:
Gen.Maj. Fay most likely, in all his carreer, hasn't only had this one man to question officially, so I doubt that he "forgot" to read Jordan his rights as a slip of the mind or whatever. Jordan is indeed a scapegoat pawn and the Army is trying to negotiate the minimum possible punishment by using system loopholes.

Author:  Acmurphy [ September 2nd, 2007, 8:20 pm ]
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According to research cited in Japanese Love Hotels: A Cultural History, by Sarah Chaplin (242p. published by Routledge, available from Amazon), 30,000 Japanese love hotels earn more than 4 trillion yen per year in profit, which is twice the profit of the Japanese anime market. Approximately 1% of the Japanese population checks into a love hotel every day, and according to one study, 50% of all Japanese sex occurs in love hotels. Source: The Japan Times - On ANN


I found this tidbit of information quite interesting if true. Not that it is twice as large as the anime industry, they don't really have any correlation so I don't know why the comparison was made, but the comment that 50 percent of all sex in Japan takes place in a love hotel. I find rather startling if anywhere close to true. I had no idea that these "Love Hotels" were so popular.

Author:  42317 [ September 3rd, 2007, 6:54 am ]
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Well, love hotels sure have a certain tradition. It's rather new, but it's there.
Japanese living conditions are rather cramped, especially if compared to US standards.
Walls are quite thin, that's one thing, and the other is if you're a couple with kids and maybe the inlaws living under the same roof, a love hotel is often the only opportunity for such couples to spend some undisturbed (and undisturbing) quality time together.
I can't evaluate the "50% statement", but I know that much.

Author:  Zaxares [ September 3rd, 2007, 8:22 pm ]
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That sounds like a logical conclusion, 42.

I presume that love hotels are not necessarily the establishments that cater to more... 'exotic' tastes, though? :P

Author:  Acmurphy [ September 5th, 2007, 4:08 am ]
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Ah, well as Zaxares said, that is a logial way to look at it, makes a lot more sense as to why love hotels may be so used/have such a high rate of sex performed compared to everywhere else.

Author:  42317 [ September 7th, 2007, 5:46 pm ]
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Zaxares wrote:
I presume that love hotels are not necessarily the establishments that cater to more... 'exotic' tastes, though?

Sorry... I'm not sure whether I can follow you... :oops:

I'll try this way: Although there might be love hotels with, uh, special equipment, I don't think such special services are usual. But I once met a girl who worked part-time in a love hotel as a room cleaner (is that a word?) and she said some visitors' remains were scary. She only mentioned some blood on the sheets as an example, and I did not urge her to go into further details.

Author:  Zaxares [ September 7th, 2007, 6:56 pm ]
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You're on the right track. :twisted: Since it makes you uncomfortable, however, I won't press for further information. :lol:

Author:  Acmurphy [ September 9th, 2007, 1:17 am ]
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I would imagine they have ones that are for more regular happenings, and ones that are for more "special" going ons :oops:

Author:  42317 [ September 10th, 2007, 4:19 pm ]
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Zaxares wrote:
Since it makes you uncomfortable, however, I won't press for further information.

Oh, it doesn't. It's just that I don't know any detailed things. There are mostly serious books in our library, I think the information I gave above is from some work from the sociology section which I read a few years ago. We don't have a title about love hotels in particular. :(

Author:  Zaxares [ September 10th, 2007, 9:08 pm ]
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Mmm, that's a shame. I'd like to visit a Love Hotel someday (with a partner, of course :wink: ).

Author:  42317 [ September 11th, 2007, 6:45 pm ]
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Zaxares wrote:
I'd like to visit a Love Hotel someday

Love hotels are often relatively cheap alternatives for the night, because they have no room service except for the cleaning crew and they often don't even have a reception desk or any such personnel, for their customers' privacy - which is why many (or all?) Enkô (school girl romping, so to speak) videos are made in such hotels. There's no one to check whether you're checking in with a minor and some "irregular" eqipment.

Author:  Zaxares [ September 11th, 2007, 8:15 pm ]
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42317 wrote:
Love hotels are often relatively cheap alternatives for the night, because they have no room service except for the cleaning crew and they often don't even have a reception desk or any such personnel, for their customers' privacy - which is why many (or all?) Enkô (school girl romping, so to speak) videos are made in such hotels. There's no one to check whether you're checking in with a minor and some "irregular" eqipment.

Really now... *gets an evil glint in his eye* :twisted:

Author:  Zaxares [ September 17th, 2007, 9:01 pm ]
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Some sad news for Wheel of Time fans. Robert Jordan has passed away.

This is awful. I knew that he was in bad health, but I didn't expect him to leave us that soon. Now he'll never be able to finish his Wheel of Time series, and we'll never know what happens to the characters. :cry:

Rest in peace.

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