Fwd: infections

'The superbug Clostridium difficile has been linked to the deaths of 29,000 Americans a year, according to a new report.

The study found there were nearly twice as many deaths associated with the bacteria than had previously been recorded…

In total c.difficle infects 450,000 Americans each year the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, according to NBC News.

The bacteria causes an inflammation of the colon and causes deadly diarrhea. 

The research found the deadly microbe was 'directly attributed' to 15,000 deaths and linked to 29,000 deaths in 2011. 

More than 80 percent of the deaths associated with the infection occurred among Americans aged 65 years or older.



'Hardline Islamist militants in northern Iraq have destroyed a collection of priceless statues and sculptures dating to the ancient Assyrian era, according to a video published online.

The Islamic State video showed men attacking the artefacts, some of them identified as antiquities from the 7th century BC, with sledgehammers or drills, saying they were symbols of idolatry.
"The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him," an unidentified man said in the video.
The articles destroyed appeared to come from an antiquities museum in the northern city of Mosul, which was overrun by Islamic State last June, a former employee at the museum told Reuters.
The militants shoved statues off their plinths, shattering them on the floor, and one man applied an electric drill to a large winged bull.
The video showed a large room strewn with dismembered statues, and Islamic songs played in the background.'

Fwd: big

'Researchers from Australia and China have turned up an unfeasibly large black hole that almost dates back to the beginning of time.

At 12 billion times the Sun's mass, and in a quasar that was a million billion times as energetic as the Sun, it's not actually the largest black hole ever spotted. However, its redshift indicates that it's a black hole from very early in the universe.

That's the problematic part, according to Dr Fuyan Bian from the ANU's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, who in a press release said: "Forming such a large black hole so quickly is hard to interpret with current theories".

At a redshift of greater than 6.30, the quasar, designated SDSSJ010013.021280225.8 (SDSS J0100+2802 in short) is one of only around 40 with that redshift, indicating that they formed in a much younger universe. This particular quasar formed when the universe was less than a billion years old, the researchers say.

Its huge size and age means it must have "gained enormous mass in a short period of time", Dr Bian said. However, as we currently understand black hole formation, this quasar shouldn't have had enough time to get so big.'


25 Animals Responsible For Killing The Most Humans

Check out this video on YouTube:


25 Everyday Things That Are Statistically Deadlier Than Sharks

Check out this video on YouTube:



Fwd: Fed

'Janet Yellen sought to lay the groundwork for the end of zero interest rates in America, opening up the US Federal Reserve's options on policy amid a strengthening economy.

The Fed chairman told a US Senate committee on Tuesday that if the central bank modified its guidance to markets, rate moves could follow at any meeting, as she prepared global investors for interest rate rises later this year.



Re: Cell phones causing breast cancer.


Ionizing radiation can knock electrons out of their atomic orbits creating ions, or free radicals, which can damage the cell of the body.  If they damage the genetic code of a cell then this can lead to cell death or cancer.

Ionizing radiation is of 3 types:  Alpha particles, beta particles, and photons.  I think that all three are given off by nuclear reactions or radioactive decay, but we also have devices that give off photons.

Photons are considered a form of radiant energyelectromagnetic radiation, which means that they are force carrying particles.   Electromagnetic radiation (photons) includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation  X-rays and gamma rays.  The higher the frequency, the more energy the photons have and the more likely they could be ionizing.  Radio waves are below the energy level of visible light therefore are not considered ionizing.  I have heard that a tiny fraction of the energy could be absorbed by the body, but the only effect would be that the body part absorbing the energy would feel warmer.

On Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 1:41 PM, Geneva  wrote:

From: "Facebook" 

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Expert: Islamic State Is ‘Apocalyptic Cult’ That Believes Jesus Will Return to Slay the Antichrist | TheBlaze.com




'Three missing London schoolgirls 'travelling to Syria to join Isil'

Metropolitan Police 'extremely concerned' about three teenage girls from east London school believed to be attempting to travel to Syria via Turkey


It is thought the girls, who were just 16 at the time and were academic high fliers, followed their older brother who is believed to be a jihadist fighter in the region.

The pair, who had dreamed of pursuing medical careers, later became jihadi brides, but were widowed when both their husbands were killed fighting for Isil...

Last year, twin teenage sisters, Zahra and Salma Halane, disappeared from their home in Manchester and flew to Istanbul, bound for Syria

It is thought the girls, who were just 16 at the time and were academic high fliers, followed their older brother who is believed to be a jihadist fighter in the region.

The pair, who had dreamed of pursuing medical careers, later became jihadi brides, but were widowed when both their husbands were killed fighting for Isil.






Fwd: Turkey

'Turkish democracy is under assault. The increasingly conservative rhetoric of the AKP, the country's dominant political party, is fueling widespread concern that the secular Turkish Republic might soon be supplanted by an Islamist regime. The end result, many worry, could be a repressive state dominated by sharia law—one similar to Iran.
But a different geographic analogy might be more appropriate. The AKP's conservative leanings notwithstanding, Turkey isn't about to go Islamist. In fact, the party's systematic campaign to eliminate political rivals is rooted not in religious fervor but in the secular aspiration to retain and consolidate power. A deeper look at Turkey's political trajectory under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggests that he is steering Turkey in an authoritarian but secular direction, toward a state not unlike President Vladimir Putin's Russia.'


Baby Born Pregnant with Her Own Twins


A baby born in Hong Kong was pregnant with her own siblings at the time of her birth, according to a new report of the infant's case. "Weird things happen early, early in the pregnancy that we just don't understand," said Dr. Draion Burch, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Pittsburgh, who goes by Dr. Drai.

CBS '60 Minutes' correspondent Bob Simon dies in car crash


Longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon, who covered riots, Academy Award-nominated movies and wars and was held captive for more than a month in Iraq two decades ago, died in a car crash on Wednesday. Simon was born May 29, 1941, in the Bronx.

Chis Kyle's Widow Breaks Down on the Stand and the Chilling Text Message


Court hears Taya Kyle's emotional testimony as she talks about their life and the day he died.


Fwd: cholesterol

'The nation's top nutrition advisory panel will drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings.
The group's finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a ''nutrient of concern'' stands in contrast to its findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed ''excess dietary cholesterol'' a public health concern…

But the finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now say that, for a healthy adult, cholesterol intake may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.'


... there are many caveats in the article.  Seems to me that caution and a reasonably healthy diet are still wise.  The article complains about trans fat and ​saturated fat.   As far as I know, both come from animal products.  Funny how a different study said that effect of saturated fat wasn't statistically significant and still yet another study said that a low fat diet is not a good idea.  Confused yet?  I have been eating a diet heavy in unsaturated fats and low in sugar.  I have been eating more veggies too.  According to my doctor, my blood test showed a low risk for heart disease.  

However, blood tests aren't a perfect predictor either.  I have seen articles claiming that inflammation is a risk factor for heart disease.

Re: It's all greek to me

'Tsipras struck a defiant tone in parliament late on Tuesday, saying that "little Greece" was changing Europe by casting off austerity.

Fwd: Ebola

'The U.N. Ebola chief says...more than 10,000 American civilians working in West Africa are still essential to combating the deadly disease.

Dr. David Nabarro warned in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that the battle against Ebola is far from over, pointing to a disappointing rise in new cases last week in hardest-hit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.'


'The number of deaths from Ebola has risen to 9,152, a sharp increase following weeks in which the outbreak appeared to be weakening.

The death toll reported Tuesday by the World Health Organization represents a jump of nearly 150 deaths since the agency's last update three days earlier.

The WHO said the number of new cases climbed by 303, with 136 new cases in Liberia, 113 in Sierra Leone, and 54 in Guinea.

Dr. David Nabarro, the U.N. special envoy on Ebola, told reporters in Geneva that the new numbers showed the outbreak was not yet under control.  He said the goal is to reduce the number of new cases to zero.

"Good progress is being made, but the outbreak still represents a grave threat," Nabarro said, "and we really hope that there will be no complacency in anybody involved in the response.  We have to really work hard to get zero cases, zero transmissions."

Health experts have cautioned West Africans against becoming complacent about the disease. The WHO recently said a single unsafe burial in Guinea last month caused 11 confirmed Ebola cases.

Those killed by the virus remain contagious and must be buried by workers in protective equipment.'




Fwd: Measles

'Before the introduction of a live measles vaccine in 1963, the average yearly number of measles cases was 549,000. (Nearly 500 deaths per year were attributed to measles).

Once the measles vaccine was introduced (it was a one-dose shot), there was a huge drop in measles cases.

Then, between 1989 and 1991, there was a resurgence in measles cases. There were 55,000 cases and 123 deaths reported during that period.

Those getting sick were mostly unvaccinated children. But there were also people who had the vaccine and were getting the disease anyway.

In 1989, the medical community's recommendation was updated to recommend a two-dose vaccination regimen.

The use of two doses was effective. In 2000, endemic measles was declared "eliminated" from the United States. '




Fwd: new

'Bacteria Turn Sunlight to Liquid Fuel in 'Bionic Leaf'

Researchers have paired a solar-powered catalyzing device with genetically engineered bacteria to convert water and carbon dioxide into an alcohol-based liquid fuel. The system, dubbed a "bionic leaf," is described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The process is modeled after the way in which plants use photosynthesis to turn CO2, H2O and other ingredients into energy, but with some novel chemical twists. One of the researchers, Harvard's Dan Nocera, has been working on artificial leaf systems for more than a decade. "The catalysts I made are extremely well-adapted and compatible with the growth conditions you need for living organisms like a bacterium," Nocera said in a news release.

The catalyst uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Then a strain of bacteria known as Ralstonia eutropha combines the hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make isopropanol — the main ingredient in rubbing alcohol.

Another member of the research team, Harvard Medical School's Pamela Silver, said the experiment was a "proof of concept" for solar-to-chemical conversion. The next step is to boost the system's energy efficiency rate from its current level of nearly 1 percent to a goal of 5 percent.


Strong as Titanium, Cheap as Dirt: New Steel Alloy Shines

The strength of steel is proverbial, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved. It's heavy, after all, and there are stronger metals out there. But researchers in South Korea have created an alloy that's as strong as titanium, lighter than ordinary steel, and cheap to boot. The new alloy, described in the journal Nature, is created by allying the steel with aluminum — this lightens the steel, but also makes it weak. To counter that weakness, the team added a dash of manganese and a sprinkle of nickel, while modifying the way the metal crystals form at the nanometer scale. This new alloy has no flashy name just yet but is referred to as High Specific Strength Steel. It has an even better strength-to-weight ratio than the far more expensive titanium. '



Fwd: Uguguay

'Uruguay expelled a senior diplomat in Iran's embassy in Montevideo two weeks ago, following suspicions that he was involved in placing an explosive device near the Israeli embassy in early January, according to senior sources in Jerusalem.

Investigations carried out by Uruguay's intelligence services after the discovery of the device yielded information pointing to a possible involvement of someone at the Iranian embassy. The Uruguayan government turned to Iran's government for information and after consultations between the two, it was decided to expel one of the senior diplomats at Iran's embassy. '


Fwd: Temperature adjustment

'When future generations look back on the global-warming scare of the past 30 years, nothing will shock them more than the extent to which the official temperature records – on which the entire panic ultimately rested – were systematically "adjusted" to show the Earth as having warmed much more than the actual data justified.

Two weeks ago, under the headline "How we are being tricked by flawed data on global warming", I wrote about Paul Homewood, who, on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog, had checked the published temperature graphs for three weather stations in Paraguay against the temperatures that had originally been recorded. In each instance, the actual trend of 60 years of data had been dramatically reversed, so that a cooling trend was changed to one that showed a marked warming.

This was only the latest of many examples of a practice long recognised by expert observers around the world – one that raises an ever larger question mark over the entire official surface-temperature record. '



Fwd: Neutrality

'While Mr. Obama's position stunned officials at the FCC, he wanted to push for strong rules ensuring net neutrality right after his 2008 election over Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.). The FCC's chairman at the time, Julius Genachowski, supported Mr. Obama and aimed to write strong rules preventing broadband providers from making some websites work faster than others for fees…
Mr. Obama made them clear in a 1,062-word statement and two-minute video. He told the FCC to regulate mobile and fixed broadband providers more strictly and enact strong rules to prevent those providers from altering download speeds for specific websites or services.

That essentially killed the compromise proposed by Mr. Wheeler, leaving him no choice but to follow the path outlined by the president.'


​I pay my Internet Service Provider for high speed access, but that ISP has been charging Netflix to provide that same access. 

 The only issue is whether Netflix can pay for preferential treatment?  I would think that technology would make this unnecessary, because I am now getting at least 60 megabits per second downloads, but I am not sure of the issues involved.  Perhaps

​all that ​
​streaming ​
causes bottlenecks
​ on the Internet​

Although I don't know this for certain, it would seem that one service paying ​preferential treatment would negatively impact other services.


'On Tuesday, the so-called Islamic State released a slickly produced video showing a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a steel cage. On Wednesday, the United Nations issued a report detailing various "mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children, and burying children alive" at the hands of the Islamic State.

And on Thursday, President Obama seized the opportunity of the National Prayer Breakfast to forthrightly criticize the "terrible deeds" . . . committed "in the name of Christ."


Fwd: Yemen

'Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen announced Thursday that four of its members -- including a top cleric believed to be the architect behind the Paris attacks -- were killed in a U.S. drone strike last month in the country's south…

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemeni affiliate is known, claimed responsibility for the Paris attack in which two gunmen killed 12 people. Al-Nadhari is believed to be one of the masterminds behind the Jan. 7 attack on Charlie Hebdo, according to Al Arabiya.

Al-Nadhari was killed along with three others on Jan. 31, when a drone-fired missile blew up a vehicle in which the four were traveling in the southern province of Shabwa,




Jordan Hangs 2 Jihadists

Fwd: Vaccination

'President Barack Obama called the science behind vaccinations "indisputable" on Monday, but he once appeared to call a purported link between autism and vaccines "inconclusive."

In 2008, as a senator and presidential candidate, Obama discussed the possible link between vaccines and autism.

"We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate," Obama said in April 2008 at a rally in Pennsylvania. "Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included."..


By April 2008, when Obama was claiming research was inconclusive, scientists had already overwhelmingly rejected any causal relationship between vaccinations and autism.

In 2001, thimerosal was "removed or reduced to trace amounts" in all childhood vaccines except for one type that treats the flu. In May 2004 — almost four years before Obama claimed that the science was "inconclusive" — the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, released a report rejecting any "causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism." The CDC strongly supported the results…'




Fwd: Cancer

'One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, analysis suggests.

Cancer Research UK said this estimate, using a new calculation method, replaced a forecast of more than one in three people developing the disease.

It said longer life expectancies meant more people would be affected.

But it was not inevitable and improving lifestyle, such as losing weight and quitting smoking, could have a major impact, the charity added.

The good news is cancer survival figures are also rising.

The seemingly sudden jump in diagnosis estimates is down to researchers developing a more sophisticated and accurate method for analysing the risk of cancer.

However, both the new and old methods show the same long-term trend - a rise in the lifetime risk of developing cancer.

Nearly 54% of men will develop cancer, compared with just under 48% of women, the figures indicate.

Food pipe tumours

Fewer deaths from heart disease and infections mean more people are living long enough to develop cancer.

But lead researcher Professor Peter Sasieni, from Queen Mary University of London, said: "It isn't inevitable.

"There is quite a lot we can do to prevent cancer and hopefully in many years' time I'll have been proven completely wrong."

He is referring to lifestyle factors including obesity, red meat consumption and smoking that increase the odds of a tumour developing.

Lung cancer cases are still increasing in women

Breast cancer is likely to remain the most common cancer among women

He told the BBC that a healthy lifestyle could lower the lifetime risk from 50% to 30%.

Breast and prostate cancers are likely to remain the most common cancers in women and men respectively.

However, some cancers are rapidly becoming more common.

Tumours in the food pipe, caused by acid reflux in obesity, are being seen more often in clinics.

Head and neck cancers caused by the human papillomavirus are increasing and oral sex is thought to be behind the rise.


Dr Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "We have reached what many would regard as an important milestone.

"We need to plan ahead to make sure the NHS is fit to cope, if the NHS doesn't act and invest now, we will face a crisis in the future - with outcomes from cancer going backwards."'



Fwd: Big bang

'Scientists crushed as 'Big Bang' evidence evaporates on further analysis


It was supposed to be a revolutionary breakthrough: last March, a team of scientists found what are known as primordial gravitational waves, or ancient ripples in space-time that would have been produced just moments after the Big Bang, stunning direct evidence of a theory most scientists already hold true.


Or had they? On Jan. 30, two teams of scientists — one operating a European Space Agency telescope and the other the team that submitted the original paper — have decided it was all just a mirage kicked up by ordinary space dust in our galaxy, thus debunking what had been one of the biggest discoveries of 2014, according to a report by the Economist.


Such gravitational waves had long been sought by astronomers, as it would confirm that long-held theory that the universe suddenly expanded rapidly just instants after it exploded into existence, inflating at faster than the speed of light.


Most scientists hold that it is true based on indirect evidence, but so far, no one had been able to provide hard, direct evidence that this is what happened.



Fwd: carbon credit

Europe's carbon-trading market was supposed to be capitalism's solution to global warming. Instead, it became a playground for gangsters, international crime syndicates, and even two-bit crooks -- who stole hundreds of millions of dollars in pollution credits.'


Fwd: Germany

'As the euro zone hurtles toward a fresh crisis, Germany is often portrayed as Europe's stern paymaster, strict and unyielding with countries that fall short of its standards.

But if you think Germany is tough with Greece, you should see how it behaves at home.

The current dilemma now facing Europe is partly an outgrowth of Germany's own countrywide obsession with avoiding excessive debt.

It's a focus born out of long historical experience, which has helped to turn responsible spending into both a personal and a civic virtue. Germany is a place where cash remains king; some retail outlets, including IKEA locations, don't accept credit cards.

At the national level, the German federal government recently balanced the budget for the first time in 45 years. Starting in 2016, it will be bound by a constitutional measure restricting its borrowing, something known as the "debt brake."

The unwavering focus on fiscal discipline is a source of consternation for those who see Germany's debt phobia as unhealthy for Europe and for its own future. In an era of ultra-low interest rates, they say, Germany should seize the chance to borrow cheaply and use the funds to update its infrastructure and make an investment in long-term prosperity.

"We are not in a situation where the balanced budget should be the first priority," said Ferdinand Fichtner of the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. "It would make more sense to take a bit more money and invest in public goods."

But such arguments have found little traction so far within the German government. 



Fwd: Oil

'Oil prices fell to the lowest level since 2009 last month as the U.S. pumped the most in three decades and OPEC kept its own supplies unchanged to defend its share of the global market. The United Steelworkers union, which represents employees at more than 200 U.S. refineries, terminals, pipelines and chemical plants, stopped work on Sunday at nine sites after failing to agree on a labor contract.'

Fwd: Russia

'With oil prices down more than 50 percent in the past year and still falling, the ruble having lost more than half its value, a recession looming and the country already dipping into its rainy-day funds, the Russian economy is in a race against time. But one would be hard pressed to grasp the depth of the troubles from the Kremlin's prescriptions.

After Anton Siluanov, the finance minister, laid out the government's long-promised "anti-crisis" package in a live broadcast on state television last week, economists unanimously dismissed as inadequate his laundry list of half-measures and a vague promise of a 10 percent budget cut.

"That plan is nonsense," the Russian oligarch Aleksandr Y. Lebedev said in an interview, describing it as throwing away money to rescue some of Russia's worst companies. "Lots of words and little specific."

President Vladimir V. Putin weighed in briefly, repeating that along with keeping tight control over government finances, "We need to change our economy's structure."

Yet a wide array of business owners, economists and former senior government officials said in interviews that they expected the Kremlin to react to the crisis the way it had in 2008, the last time it faced a precipitous decline in oil prices — with disaster management, but no fundamental changes.

"They are trying to get by, manage it strategically and hope that oil prices rise, hope they can make a few adjustments and it will all go away," said Kenneth S. Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University who recently attended a high-level economics conference in Moscow. "There is no appetite for fundamental reform. They are just going to wait."


Fwd: diesel

'There's a diesel backlash happening in Europe. Nearly two months ago, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called his country's prioritization of diesel "a mistake." Now, his statements are being echoed by a member of the government across the channel.

Shadow Environment Minister Barry Gardiner of the UK's liberal Labour Party told Channel 4's Dispatches his government's decision to base the country's car taxes on CO2 output was "the wrong decision," because it had the unintended effect of pushing consumers into diesels.

While diesels produce less CO2 than gas engines, they emit four times as many nitrous oxides and 22 times the particulate soot. Both of these pollutants can harm the lungs and blood vessels, and can lead to heart disease, strokes and diabetes, The Independent reports.'





Fwd: Oil

'Oil output, however, is still at a record level. In the week that ended on Jan. 2, when the number of rigs also dropped, it reached 9.13 million barrels a day, a 44-year high.'

Fwd: Japan

'The key to the budget is a continuing expansion in tax revenue. Although the economy has been struggling, Japanese corporations are earning record profits — and paying more taxes as a result — thanks in part to the money they earn overseas.

Those earnings have been amplified by a sharp decline in the yen's exchange rate over the past two years. Adjusting for changes in trade patterns and prices, economists say the currency is cheaper now than it has been since the early 1970s. That makes every dollar earned by Japanese businesses more valuable when repatriated to Japan.

Another growing source of tax revenue, sales tax, is also helping the treasury. The government increased the national sales tax in April, a widely resented move that was blamed for pushing the nation into recession. But as the economy starts to stabilize again, the measure should help shrink the deficit.

The rebound in tax revenue means new borrowing will be a trim — by Japanese standards — ¥36.86 trillion, the smallest amount relative to the size of the budget in six years. Perhaps more important, that debt will be taken on at historically low cost, since the Bank of Japan, the country's central bank, is holding down interest rates by buying up vast amounts of bonds from the market.

The shift is important. Japan is carrying the developed world's largest public debt load, with overall government borrowing equal to about two and a half times gross domestic product. In some years, tax revenue has covered barely half of government spending…

Mr. Abe has been increasing Japan's military spending to counter what he sees as the threat from an increasingly powerful China. The defense budget will expand 2 percent in the coming year, to a record ¥4.98 trillion. Although that is still only about 1 percent of Japan's gross domestic product — about half the ratio of that in China and a quarter of that of the United States'


Fwd: Two Worlds

'The current crisis has its origins in the collapse of European hegemony over North Africa after World War II and the Europeans' need for cheap labor. As a result of the way in which they ended their imperial relations, they were bound to allow the migration of Muslims into Europe, and the permeable borders of the European Union enabled them to settle where they chose. The Muslims, for their part, did not come to join in a cultural transformation. They came for work, and money, and for the simplest reasons. The Europeans' appetite for cheap labor and the Muslims' appetite for work combined to generate a massive movement of populations.

The matter was complicated by the fact that Europe was no longer simply Christian. Christianity had lost its hegemonic control over European culture over the previous centuries and had been joined, if not replaced, by a new doctrine of secularism. Secularism drew a radical distinction between public and private life, in which religion, in any traditional sense, was relegated to the private sphere with no hold over public life. There are many charms in secularism, in particular the freedom to believe what you will in private. But secularism also poses a public problem. There are those whose beliefs are so different from others' beliefs that finding common ground in the public space is impossible. And then there are those for whom the very distinction between private and public is either meaningless or unacceptable. The complex contrivances of secularism have their charm, but not everyone is charmed.

Europe solved the problem with the weakening of Christianity that made the ancient battles between Christian factions meaningless. But they had invited in people who not only did not share the core doctrines of secularism, they rejected them. What Christianity had come to see as progress away from sectarian conflict, Muslims (and some Christians) may see as simply decadence, a weakening of faith and the loss of conviction.



Fwd: Muscle

'Researchers have grown human skeletal muscle in the laboratory that, for the first time, contracts and responds just like native tissue to external stimuli such as electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals. The development should soon allow researchers to test new drugs and study diseases in functioning human muscle outside of the human body.'

Fred Hiatt: The cracks in China’s crackdown

Fwd: World growth forecast

'The World Bank cut its forecast for global growth this year, as an improving U.S. economy and low fuel prices fail to offset disappointing results from Europe to China.

The world economy will expand 3 percent in 2015, down from a projection of 3.4 percent in June, according to the lender's semiannual Global Economic Prospects report, released today in Washington.

The report adds to signs of a growing disparity between the U.S. and other major economies while tempering any optimism that a plunge in oil prices will boost output. Risks to the global recovery are "significant and tilted to the downside," with dangers including a spike in financial volatility, intensifying geopolitical tensions and prolonged stagnation in the euro region or Japan.


Fwd: Oil

'prospective new sources have also factored into future supply assessments and, accordingly, into prices. Playing a large role in this part of the story is a major South Atlantic find made by Brazil's Petrobras oil company. This Lula field, as it is called, has the potential to add the equivalent of 6.5 billion barrels to known global oil and gas reserves, 13 billion barrels when combined with other new Brazilian fields. When fully developed, these sources should pump the equivalent of 4 million barrels of oil a day onto would markets, a 5.2 percent addition to current global flows. More recently, Australia has announced a shale find that its engineers estimate could increase known global reserves 12 percent. The find is too new yet to yield estimates of production flows. Preliminary Exxon drilling in Russia's arctic had reported good prospects, though such activity has all but stopped because of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. Potentials have also gained from the possibility that new conventional extraction technologies will spread from North America to other parts of the world. Russia, engineers estimate, could increase production by 50 percent in this way, even in the absence of any new finds.'

Fwd: India

'The World Bank on Tuesday said that the Indian economy is witnessing a slow recovery, aided by improved export momentum and a steep decrease in inflation, which could allow for a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The World Bank has projected the Indian economy to grow at 6.4% in 2015-16 from an estimated 5.6% in 2014-15. India's GDP is expected to surpass that of China's by 2017.'


Fwd: Broadband

'President Obama said today he will take executive action to boost broadband speeds and connections at lower prices, especially in inner cities and rural areas.

The move is sure to draw fire from Republicans concerned about the president's preference for executive initiatives that he believes are beyond the reach of the GOP-controlled Congress. '


Fwd: Brain interface

'After more than a decade of engineering work, researchers at Brown University and a Utah company, Blackrock Microsystems, have commercialized a wireless device that can be attached to a person's skull and transmit via radio thought commands collected from a brain implant. Blackrock says it will seek clearance for the system from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so that the mental remote control can be tested in volunteers, possibly as soon as this year.

The device was developed by a consortium, called BrainGate, which is based at Brown and was among the first to place implants in the brains of paralyzed people and show that electrical signals emitted by neurons inside the cortex could be recorded, then used to steer a wheelchair or direct a robotic arm (see "Implanting Hope")……


Fwd: DNA

'Reston, Va.-based Parabon Nanolabs, with funding from the Department of Defense, has debuted a breakthrough type of analysis called DNA phenotyping which the company says can predict a person's physical appearance from the tiniest DNA samples, like a speck of blood or strand of hair.

Fwd: Argentina

'A prosecutor who has accused President Cristina Kirchner of covering up Iran's alleged involvement in the country's worst terrorist attack has been found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment – hours before he was due to present his findings.

Alberto Nisman was discovered lying dead in his bathroom in the early hours of Monday morning, with a handgun by his side. Initial reports suggested suicide.

The veteran prosecutor had spent the past two years compiling a 300-page case on the 1994 bombings of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building (AMIA), which killed 85 people. Iran has long been suspected as being behind the bombings.

Mr Nisman has accused Mrs Kirchner and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, of attempting to "erase" Iran's role in the attack, in return for favourable oil deals.

"The president and her foreign minister took the criminal decision to fabricate Iran's innocence to sate Argentina's commercial, political and geopolitical interests," he said. '


I Tried To Kill Myself Once - Bob Lonsberry

Fwd: China

'Chinese stocks dived the most in over six years Monday, with a wide sell-off sweeping across the financial sector as investors turned jittery over the latest move by securities regulators to clean up the margin-trading business.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -7.70%   plunged 7.7% to close at 3,116.35, posting its biggest daily percentage decline since June 2008 . Prior to Monday's heavy loss, the index was up 4.4% for the month to date, extending gains after finishing 2014 with a sharp 53% advance.

The plunge in mainland China helped to push Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index HSI, -1.51%  down 1.5%, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises — which tracks Hong Kong-listed mainland Chinese companies — off 5%.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission, the nation's top market watchdog, announced Friday that a dozen brokerage firms had been punished for violations of margin-trading rules after a two-week overhaul. Infractions included allowing customers to delay margin repayments by longer than currently allowed. '


Fwd: Syria

'The air strike attributed in foreign media reports to Israel which killed six Hezbollah agents in Syria on Sunday also killed six Iranian soldiers, including commanders, AFP quoted a source close to Hezbollah as saying on Monday.

"The Israeli strike killed six Iranian soldiers, including commanders, as well as the six members of Hezbollah. They were all in a convoy of three cars," the source said.

An Iranian semi-official news site reported that an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general was among those killed in the strike.

"Following the Zionist aggressions against the resistance in Syria, General Mohammad Allahdadi, a former commander of the Sarollah Brigade of the Revolutionary Guard, was martyred along with Jihad Mughniyeh and three others in the same car," the Dana news website said, referring to the son of Hezbollah's late military leader Imad Mughniyeh.

According to reports in Hezbollah-affiliated media, two Israel Air Force helicopters fired missiles at a target in the Syrian Golan, killing a number of Hezbollah operatives, including Mughniyeh.

Western intelligence sources said Jihad Mughniyeh headed a large-scale terrorist cell that enjoyed direct Iranian sponsorship and a direct link to Hezbollah. The cell had already targeted Israel in the past, launching attacks on the Golan Heights.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, told state media that Israel's reported attack in the Golan Heights was "an act of terror."

"We condemn all actions of the Zionist regime as well as all acts of terror," Zarif told Press TV on Monday. "[Israeli attacks on Hezbollah] has been a practice followed for a very long time. The policy of state terrorism is a known policy of the Zionist regime."


Fwd: China

'China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 24 years in 2014 as property prices cooled and companies and local governments struggled under heavy debt burdens, keeping pressure on Beijing to take aggressive steps to avoid a sharper downturn.

For investors worried about growth in China and the world this year, the data poses two questions:

Will the soft numbers and expectations of further weakness force the central bank to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into banks system-wide to prop up growth? And if so, what does that mean for Beijing's attempts to reform its economy?'


Fwd: Again

'Wallison traces the policy mistake back to 1992, when Congress passed a law requiring the GSE's to purchase a certain percentage of its mortgages granted to low- and moderate-income homebuyers--30 percent originally, later adjusted up to 56 percent by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Previously the GSE's bought only mortgages in which the buyer made 10 to 20 percent down payments. That was revised downward to 3 percent and even zero. Such subprime mortgages proliferated until in 2008 when they accounted for more than half of U.S. mortgages, 76 percent of which were on the books of the GSE's or government agencies such as the FHA.

This was in line with the policy priorities of the Clinton and Bush administrations. They hailed the increase of homeownership from the 64 percent that prevailed from the mid-1960s up eventually, and temporarily, to 69 percent.

They emphasized the importance of increasing homeownership by blacks and Hispanics who did not qualify as creditworthy under traditional credit standards, which were treated as superstitions.

The result was a house price bubble of unprecedented magnitude. Low-down payment mortgages inflated housing prices because buyers could afford a larger house with the same down payment. Above-average households, though not the intended beneficiaries of lowered mortgage standards, took advantage of them by converting inflated housing values into cash by refinancing their mortgages.

The problem metastasized into large financial institutions because of imperfect information and perverse government regulations. Fannie and Freddie classified as subprime only those mortgages they bought through traditional subprime lenders -- an action for which their officers were later sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission…


Could it happen again? Wallison points out that government regulators are once again reducing the credit standards for mortgage seekers. The argument, as in the 1990s and 2000s, is that traditional standards are misleading and unduly prevent low-income and minority households from buying homes.

Fannie and Freddie are now purchasing the large majority of mortgages and announced last month they would buy mortgages with only 3 percent down payments. The qualified mortgage standards laid down by HUD and other regulators in October allowed for mortgages with zero down payments.

That sounds like a recipe for another housing bubble -- and for mass foreclosures, which hurt the policies' intended beneficiaries -- and perhaps for another financial crisis as well. '


Fwd: X-ray

'Hundreds of ancient papyrus scrolls that were buried nearly 2,000 years ago after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius could finally be read, thanks to a new technique.

The X-ray-based method can be used to decipher the charred, damaged texts that were found in the ancient town of Herculaneum without having to unroll them, which could damage them beyond repair, scientists say.

One problem with previous attempts to use X-rays to read the scrolls was that the ancient writers used a carbon-based material from smoke in their ink, said study co-author Vito Mocella, a physicist at the National Research Council in Naples, Italy.

"The papyri have been burnt, so there is not a huge difference between the paper and the ink," Mocella told Live Science. That made it impossible to decipher the words written in the documents.

If the new method works, it could be used to reveal the secrets of one of the few intact libraries from antiquity, the researchers said.

Both the Roman city of Pompeii and the nearby, wealthy seaside town of Herculaneum were wiped out when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, killing thousands of people and covering fine villas in ash and lava.

In the 1750s, workers uncovered a library in a villa thought to be the home of a Roman statesman. The site, known as the Villa of the Papyri, contained nearly 2,000 ancient papyrus scrolls that had been charred by the volcanic heat. '


Fwd: Muscle

'Scientists have discovered that ordinary fishing line and sewing thread can be cheaply converted to powerful artificial muscles. The new muscles can lift a hundred times more weight and generate a hundred times higher mechanical power than the same length and weight of human muscle. Per weight, they can generate 7.1 horsepower per kilogram, about the same mechanical power as a jet engine.'

Fwd: Mummies

'In recent years scientists have developed a technique that allows the glue of mummy masks to be undone without harming the ink on the paper. The text on the sheets can then be read.
The first-century gospel is one of hundreds of new texts that a team of about three-dozen scientists and scholars is working to uncover, and analyze, by using this technique of ungluing the masks, said Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
"We're recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries. Not just Christian documents, not just biblical documents, but classical Greek texts, business papers, various mundane papers, personal letters," Evans told Live Science. The documents include philosophical texts and copies of stories by the Greek poet Homer. [See Images of Early Christian Inscriptions and Artifacts]
The business and personal letters sometimes have dates on them, he said. When the glue was dissolved, the researchers dated the first-century gospel in part by analyzing the other documents found in the same mask.
One drawback to the process is that the mummy mask is destroyed, and so scholars in the field are debating whether that particular method should be used to reveal the texts they contain.'