Daily Archives: July 12, 2009

Egypt Calls for Establishing New World Order to Overcome Crises

Xinhua  | Jul 12, 2009

By Cao Jie 

Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister Naela Gabr said Saturday that the world society should make joint efforts to set up a new world order to deal with various crises.

Gabr made the appeal when addressing the senior officials’ meeting of the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, which opened Saturday in Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The current world situation is quite different from 48 years ago when the NAM was founded, with increasing population, outbreaks of epidemic and deteriorating environment, she said.

The world society should reconsider the international financial system and be more democratic in decision-making so as to avoid the global financial crisis which has hampered the economic growth of developing countries, Gabr said.

She also called for restructuring of international mechanism in health and agriculture in an effort to help overcome the crises in the two areas, referring to global spread of A/H1N1 flu and rising food prices.

Senior officials from over 140 countries gathered here to work out basic documents for the coming NAM summit, which will state the movement’s stance in the current international context on major international and regional issues like the global financial crisis, the Middle East peace process, and the Iranian nuclear issue.

The NAM has played a significant role in protecting rights and interests of its member states, and Egypt, as it will be the rotating chair of the group of pan-developing countries, will endeavor to strengthen its role in the world arena, she added.

Formally founded in September 1961, NAM groups 118 member states, which represents nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’ members, particularly developing countries. It also comprises 55 percent of the world population.

Henry VIII was just like me, says Prince Charles

Daily Mail | July 10, 2009

By David Derbyshire

He has a reputation as one of England’s most brutal tyrants, but Henry VIII, according to Prince Charles, was actually an environmental crusader with a keen interest in architecture.

Giving the annual Dimbleby Lecture last night, the Prince of Wales invited comparisons between himself and Henry VIII.

He praised his ancestor for ‘exhibiting an interest in architecture that may possibly be hereditary’ and he highlighted Henry’s awareness of green issues.

‘Towards the end of his reign, he also showed an interest in sustainability,’ the Prince said.

‘Perhaps it is not so well known that Henry instigated the very first piece of green legislation in this country.’

In 1543 Henry passed laws that prevented shipbuilders felling too many immature oak trees. The move was designed to protect forests.

‘What was instinctively understood by many in King Henry’s time was the importance of working with the grain of nature to maintain the balance between keeping the earth’s natural capital intact, and sustaining humanity on its renewable income,’ the Prince said.
He warned that consumerism was threatening mankind’s future. Since the 1950s, rainforests have shrunk by a third – robbing the world of plants that may be essential for mankind’s survival, he said.

He said: ‘Our consumerist society comes at an enormous cost to the Earth and we must face up to the facet that the Earth cannot afford to support it,’ he said.

‘Just as our banking sector is struggling with its debts – and paradoxically also facing calls for a return to so- called oldfashioned traditional thinking, so Nature’s life-support systems are failing to cope with the debts with have built up there too.

‘If we don’t face up to this, then Nature, the biggest bank of all, could go bust too. And no amount of quantitative easing will revive it.’

Mayor slams ‘Orwellian’ limits on free comment

‘Vancouver is a free-speech zone’
 
The Province | Jul 10, 2009

By Damian Inwood

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he’s concerned about the intimidation of activists by Olympic security cops.

And he’s hitting out at the “Orwellian” label of “free-speech zones” for protesters during the 2010 Winter Games.

“I am concerned about the intimidation that the activists have felt, related to the [Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit’s] activity and questioning,” Robertson said at a city council meeting yesterday.

“I think there are more appropriate ways to conduct those conversations and communications.”

Council voted to write letters to senior levels of government, Vancouver 2010 and the ISU, asking they “publicly reaffirm their commitment to the security of the person and freedom of expression in light of recent concerns about intimidation” during the lead-up to the Olympics.

The move follows complaints from 20 people who claim they were approached by plainclothes police at home, at work and on the street, and whose neighbours were questioned about them.

“I think there are more appropriate ways to conduct those conversations and communications,” said Robertson.

“We do need to be vigilant that civil liberties are guaranteed throughout.”

Robertson supports concerns over ISU plans to set up “free-speech zones” for Olympic protesters.

Calling it an “Orwellian” label, he said: “Vancouver is a free-speech zone and we will ensure . . . that we maintain that status and work closely with the ISU to make sure that they are not overstepping bounds.”

Chris Shaw, spokesman for 2010 Watch, accused council of passing a “wishy-washy, motherhood-and-apple-pie” motion supporting the Charter of Rights.

He said council should be telling, not asking, city police what they’ll do during the Games.

ISU officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

Freedom School children taught to build ‘eco-dome mud huts’ for ‘sustainable housing’

eco-dome

Melissa Gadson, 13, flattens bags of dirt as students at the Freedom School learn to build a dome shelter that is affordable and not harmful to the environment. (WILL YURMAN staff photographer)

Iliona Khalili, was on site at NEAD’s Freedom School on Tuesday, teaching youth how to fill grain bags with dirt to create circular rows of giant soft bricks that would be held together with barbed wire.

Freedom School director George Moses said “Don’t complain about there being a lack of affordable sustainable quality housing.”

Democrat and Chronicle | Jul 11, 2009

Dirt eco-dome to rise in Rochester

by Erica Bryant

Call it an “eco-dome,” “moon cocoon,” or “modern mud hut,” an earthen structure of minimally processed local materials will soon be rising in Rochester.

The City Planning Commission approved North East Area Development Inc.’s application on Monday to construct a 30-foot diameter dome that will be made primarily of bagged dirt. The eco-dome is expected to be the first of its kind in the city.

NEAD plans to use a building technique designed by Iranian-born architect Nader Khalili. In the 1980s he presented it to NASA as a way to build lunar dirt structures. In the years before his death in 2008, Khalili promoted the process as a way to build affordable structures that aren’t harmful to the environment.

His wife, Iliona Khalili, was on site at NEAD’s Freedom School on Tuesday, teaching youth how to fill grain bags with dirt to create circular rows of giant soft bricks that would be held together with barbed wire. The students worked on a practice dome this week on the front lawn of their Goodman Street school.

As they worked, Khalili talked about humanity’s long history of building with earth and the value of rediscovering building materials that don’t have to be transported hundreds of miles and heavily processed.

“If people only knew what treasure lies under their feet,” said Khalili, a sustainable architecture instructor for the Albany-based Center for Sustainable Living. “Everything we need is right here.”

She estimates that builders have used her husband’s “earth bag” technique to construct more than 50 domes in the United States and about 3,000 worldwide.

NEAD’s plans for Melville Street include a central dome structure about 30 feet in diameter with some smaller dome offshoots. It will include a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

The organization will be aided by representatives from the Center for Sustainable Living and the California-based Peace Center for Youth and Family Advancement in its goal of maximum energy efficiency for the dome. Metin Vargonen, who works with sustainable energy for the Center for Sustainable Living, will help orient the eco-dome and its windows so the structure gets the maximum solar energy in the building during the winter and loses the least possible amount of heat.

Marsha Allen, of the Peace Center for Youth and Family Advancement, hopes these buildings become common around the city. Her organization trains Americans how to build eco-dome structures with the goal of sending them to Africa to share the knowledge with street children and other people in need of affordable shelter. “As these projects unfold, (Rochester) will be a strategic center for earthen architecture and the difference it can make for people who don’t have a lot of money,” she said.

The Baobab Cultural Center is also planning to build an eco-dome and will host a walk-a-thon on Sunday at Ellison Park to advance the project. Founder Moka Lantum said that he is looking for a plot of city land to accommodate a 1,200-square-foot dome cluster that will house a reception area, bathroom, workshop space, art gallery and gathering space for films and community dialogues.

Construction of the Melville Street eco-dome is expected to begin by the end of July. Freedom School director George Moses said he hopes this project is the first of many because such efforts fit the school’s mission of fostering civic engagement. “Don’t complain about there being high energy bills. Don’t complain about there being a lack of affordable sustainable quality housing,” he said Tuesday, a shovel in his hand and his red T-shirt dusted with dirt. “Do something about it.”

May 2009 was Coldest on record for New Zealand

Wairarapa Times | Jul 12, 2009

by Matt Stewart

Wairarapa certainly played its part in the record-breaking chill that gripped the country during May, with Martinborough plunged into gloom courtesy of a paltry 92 hours of sunshine.

Niwa senior climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said May “broke records from one end of the country to the other – it was the coldest May on record”, and there was nothing much to toast in the South Wairarapa wine village, which registered 69 percent of normal sunshine hours for May – the lowest figure for the town since records began.

“In May, Martinborough was gray, gloomy and depressing,” she said.

“In June, the east coast strips of both islands were gloomy while sun shone around the rest of the country, like Hamilton which had record sunshine hours,” Ms Griffiths said.

Below normal June sunshine (75 – 90 percent of normal) blighted coastal Otago, coastal Canterbury and the East Cape, she said.

It was wet too with double the normal rainfall for May (about 200 percent of normal) in Wairarapa, Canterbury and Otago while much of Northland, Auckland, Wellington and Southland got at least 150 percent of normal May rainfall.

June didn’t fare much better as Ngawi racked up a record low topping the mercury at just 6.6C on June 16 – the lowest daily maximum temperature on the books.

June 16 also marked the beginning of a 10-day anticyclone – a high that hung round the country with scant wind and clear skies; “all ingredients in a recipe for frost”, Ms Griffiths said.

Wairarapa, alongside most of the lower North Island, experienced the second-coldest June in recorded history, with monitoring equipment in Ngawi and Martinborough clocking average maximum daytime temperatures of 11.6C and 11.9C respectively.

Ms Griffiths said these temperatures were 1.5C lower than what is typical for June – a pattern that was repeated across the lower North Island.

However, Ms Griffiths said the future was looking brighter across Wairarapa, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay with Niwa predicting a return to normal temperatures and from July to September.

The highest temperature during June was 24.5C recorded at Henderson, Auckland, on the 29th. The lowest temperature during June was recorded at Hanmer Springs, with a minimum temperature of -8.9C.

The highest one-day rainfall total for June was 91.8 mm, recorded at Whitianga on the 28th.

The highest wind gust for June was 133kmh recorded at Stephens Island (Cook Strait) on the 28th.

Of the six main centres, Dunedin was the coldest and driest, Auckland was the warmest, Tauranga was the wettest, and Hamilton was the sunniest.

The highest temperature during May was 23.0C recorded at Christchurch on the 16th.

The lowest temperature during May was recorded at Hanmer Forest on the 12th, where the minimum temperature was -7C.

The highest 1-day rainfall total for May was 321 mm recorded at Mt Cook on the 16th (the highest May one-day total for this location, since records began in 1928).

The wind gust of 167kmh recorded at Brothers Island (Marlborough Sounds) on the 17th was the highest gust for May for New Zealand.

Humans could regrow their own body parts like some amphibians, claim scientists

Regenerating your own amputated arms and legs, broken spines and even damaged brains is the stuff of superheroes – but it could one day be a reality, claim scientists.
 
Telegraph | Jul 1, 2009

By Richard Alleyne

Researchers looking into how salamanders are able to to regrow their damaged bodies have discovered that the “almost magical ability” is closer to human healing then first thought.

They believe that one day they will be able to completely unlock the secret and apply it to humans, reprogramming the body so it can repair itself perfectly as if nothing had happened.

The amphibians are almost unique in that if they lose a limb, a small bump forms over the injury called a blastema.

Within about three weeks this blastema transforms into a new, fully functioning replacement limb without any scarring.

At first it was thought that the ability was so alien to human healing that, outside of science fiction novels, it could never be transformed into a useful treatment for damaged human bodies.

But researchers at the University of Florida have discovered that it is not as remarkable as first thought and we could learn how to replicate it in people.

“I think it’s more mammal-like than was ever expected,” said Professor Malcolm Maden, author of the paper. “It gives you more hope for being able to someday regenerate individual tissues in people.”

Scientists, studying the Axolotl salamander, native to Mexico, had long thought the amphibious creature’s capabilities were down to so-called “pluripotent” cells, which had the uncanny ability to morph into whatever appendage, organ or tissue happens to be needed or due for a replacement.

But a paper in the journal Nature debunks that notion, discovering that the regenerative process is like a much more sophisticated version of healing in humans and other mammals.

They found that repairs were down to much more standard stem cells – like those in mammals – but with the ability to reorganise themselves in the correct order to rebuild the body.

Standard mammal stem cells operate in the same way, albeit with far less dramatic results – they can heal wounds or knit bone together, but not regenerate a limb or rebuild a spinal cord.

The scientists says that what’s exciting about the new findings is the suggestion that harnessing the salamander’s regenerative wonders is at least within the realm of possibility for human medical science.

Also, the salamanders heal perfectly, without any scars whatsoever, another ability people would like to learn how to mimic, Prof Maden said.

He said the findings will help researchers “zero in” on why salamander cells are capable of such remarkable regeneration. “If you can understand how they regenerate, then you ought to be able to understand why mammals don’t regenerate,” he said.

13 doctors demand inquest into weapons expert Dr David Kelly’s death

He could not have died from loss of blood, say the experts

Daily Mail |  Jul 12, 2009

By Glen Owen and Miles Goslett

david kellyThe death of Government scientist David Kelly returned to haunt Labour today as a group of doctors announced that they were mounting a legal challenge to overturn the finding of suicide.

Dr Kelly’s body was found six years ago this week in woods close to his Oxfordshire home, shortly after he was exposed as the source of a BBC news report questioning the grounds for war in Iraq.

Unusually, no coroner’s inquest was held into his death.

The only official verdict has come from the Hutton Inquiry, commissioned by Tony Blair, which concluded that Dr Kelly, 59, died from loss of blood after cutting his wrist with a blunt gardening knife.

Critics regarded the report as a ‘whitewash’, and Mr Blair remains acutely sensitive to the accusation that he has ‘blood on his hands’ over the scientist’s death.

But now a team of 13 specialist doctors has compiled a detailed medical dossier that rejects the Hutton conclusion on the grounds that a cut to the ulnar artery, which is small and difficult to access, could not have caused death.

It will be used by their lawyers to demand a formal inquest and the release of Dr Kelly’s autopsy report, which has never been published. It will also be sent to Sir John Chilcot’s forthcoming inquiry into the Iraq War.

The 12-page opinion, a copy of which has been seen by The Mail on Sunday, concludes: ‘The bleeding from Dr Kelly’s ulnar artery is highly unlikely to have been so voluminous and rapid that it was the cause of death.

‘We advise the instructing solicitors to obtain the autopsy reports so that the concerns of a group of properly interested medical specialists can be answered.’

The doctors do not say how, or why, they believe Dr Kelly did die but they have worked closely with campaigning Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who believes that the scientist was murdered by enemies he made in the course of his work as a weapons inspector.

And two of the doctors have added to the sense of persistent intrigue surrounding Dr Kelly by claiming that thousands of emails relating to the case had ‘vanished’ from their computers, in what one claimed was an act of ‘state-sponsored sabotage’.

A coroner’s inquest into Dr Kelly’s death was suspended before it could begin by order of the then Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer. He used the Coroners Act to designate the Hutton Inquiry as ‘fulfilling the function of an inquest’, but as a judicial investigation it had no power to make witnesses give evidence under oath.

After taking evidence from – but not cross-examining – Dr Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination, Lord Hutton concluded that ‘the principal cause of death was bleeding from incised wounds to the left wrist’ combined with the consumption of painkillers and ‘silent coronary artery disease’.

The doctors also say that the level of the painkiller co-proxamol in Dr Kelly’s blood was about one third of that required to produce death and point to Dr Hunt’s comments at the end of giving evidence to Lord Hutton.

Asked if there was anything further he would like to say on the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly’s death, he said: ‘Nothing I could say as a pathologist, no.’

After the report was published, Dr Hunt added to the doctors’ suspicions by telling Channel 4 that he thought a full coroner’s inquest should be held.

The doctors have hired solicitor Martin Day, of Leigh Day and Co, and received advice from barrister Richard Hermer, QC, both of whom have a strong track record in civil liberties actions, including winning nearly ?3million in compensation from the British Government for the family of Iraqi Baha Mousa, who died while being detained by UK troops.

They intend to use the Coroners Act to challenge Lord Falconer’s suspension of the inquest.

One of the doctors, David Halpin, told The Mail on Sunday that they had argued their case in the legal document in ‘microscopic’ detail.
He said: ‘We reject haemorrhage as the cause of death and see no contrary opinion which would stand its ground. I think it is highly likely he was assassinated.’

Mr Baker said: ‘The fact that eminent medical experts feel so strongly that the official explanation for Dr Kelly’s death cannot be sustained and are now taking legal action against the Government to secure a proper inquest demonstrates both how suspect Lord Hutton’s conclusions were and how this dark chapter cannot be closed unless Sir John Chilcott’s inquiry into the Iraq war addresses this issue.

‘A proper inquest into Dr Kelly’s death must take place.’

Among the doctors is Christopher Burns-Cox, 71, the former senior consultant physician for the Frenchay Healthcare Trust, Bristol, and current co-chairman of the NHS consultants’ association.

Mr Halpin, 69, meanwhile, is a former lecturer in anatomy at King’s College, London, and a former consultant in orthopaedic and trauma surgery at Torbay Hospital. He continued in general practice until 2005.

Mr Halpin said that he lost more than 6,000 pieces of correspondence – many relating to Dr Kelly – during his investigation, explaining that the mystery began when the ‘firewall’ on his computer, which all similar machines are fitted with as a security measure, became inactive without warning.

His emails started disappearing as though they were being sifted remotely. ‘I believe this will have been done by a state-sponsored agency and not by an amateur acting singly,’ he said.

A close associate of Mr Halpin’s who has also taken an active interest in the case confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that at around the same time he, too, fell victim to what he believes was a rogue agent, losing ‘somewhere in the region of 2,000 emails’, many of which discussed Dr Kelly.

For professional reasons, the individual concerned, a civil servant, said that he could not be identified by name.

He said: ‘I have no doubt that my computer was hacked into and I also have reason to believe that both my mobile telephone and my landline have been bugged until fairly recently. It echoes on the end of the line, things like that.

‘But if I made an accusation like that in public without being able to prove it, it would compromise me and for the sake of my children I do not want to enter that territory. I cannot say any more about it at the moment.’

Mr Baker, who published a book about Dr Kelly’s death in 2007, also believes that his computer was hacked into remotely, leading to the loss of sensitive files about David Kelly from his constituency office in Lewes, East Sussex.

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And Mr Halpin added that Rowena Thursby, who helped establish the Kelly Investigation Group which has campaigned for the inquest into Dr Kelly’s death to be reopened on several occasions, has also lost scores of emails in a similar, suspicious manner.

The developments come as investigative journalist Bob Coen prepares to screen a 90-minute documentary, Anthrax War, in London on the sixth anniversary of Dr Kelly’s death, this Friday.

The film claims that Dr Kelly’s death may have been linked to the secret world of germ warfare research.

Until his death Dr Kelly was privy to some of the state’s most sensitive information and worked closely with the intelligence services of all the major industrialised countries.

Among notable claims in the film, which was made over four years, is Dr Kelly’s connection with Dr Walter Basson, whose work for the South African apartheid regime used chemical and biological weapons research destined for extrajudicial execution, and whose goals included ethnic cleansing.

The film also suggests that Dr Kelly was preparing to write a book that would have breached the Official Secrets Act.

The draft version of the doctors’ dossier – a final version, including diagrams and a copy of Dr Kelly’s death certificate, is being prepared for lawyers this week – concentrates on the ulnar artery, a blood vessel in the forearm.

The Hutton Report quoted Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist who examined Dr Kelly’s corpse, as seeing ‘evidence of a significant incised wound to his left wrist, in the depths of which his left artery had been completely severed…

‘The arterial injury had resulted in the loss of a significant volume of blood, as noted at the scene.’

But the doctors draw on their specialist knowledge of human anatomy to argue in detail that a wound to this artery could not have resulted in enough blood loss to cause his death.

‘This artery has the width of a matchstick in its constricted state,’ they write.

‘It is not easily felt on the little finger side of the wrist… on the contrary, the radial artery pulse is easily felt beneath the skin on the opposite side of the wrist. It is thus more difficult to cut the ulnar artery.’

They go on to argue that, according to the evidence given by Dr Hunt to Lord Hutton’s inquiry, Dr Kelly’s blood would have quickly clotted, thus stemming the flow and preventing his death.

They write: ‘Dr Hunt describes complete severance of this artery, ie transection. This means the elasticity of the artery would have caused it to retract within its sheath.

‘Contraction of the circular smooth muscle within the arterial wall would have narrowed the artery, thus reducing or stopping blood flow.

Blood clots would have formed in the wound, but also within the narrowed artery.

‘That clotting within the artery would have happened more speedily because the cutting was done with considerable trauma, thus causing more damage to the lining membrane, the intima.

Damage to the cells of the intima causes aggregation of blood platelets, thus hastening clotting within the vessel.’

The doctors cite a number of studies which they say prove for ‘all practical purposes’ that suicide using the means allegedly adopted by Dr Kelly ‘does not exist in Britain’.

Although the doctors do not believe the painkillers taken by Dr Kelly contributed to his death in any way – as argued by Lord Hutton – they have restricted the scope of their dossier to refute the reasoning he used on the question of haemorrhage.