Daily Archives: June 3, 2011

Amateur images are the only testimony of the revolt in Inner Mongolia

Police crackdown during a student protest in the region of Shilingol, in Inner Mongolia on May 23. Photo posted on SMHRIC.com

“When you do an internet search of Inner Mongolia, nothing comes up”

observers.france24.com | Jun 1, 2011

On May 11, a 35 year old ethnic Mongol herder called Mergen was crushed to death as he unsuccessfully tried to block a truck transporting coal. He was demonstrating against over-mining in his region, the Inner-Mongolia autonomous region in China. His death unleashed an unprecedented rebel movement in the isolated rural area, which was brutally repressed by authorities. A handful of amateur videos bear witness to the otherwise unreported violence.

All throughout the day of May 10, some 50 herders from Shilingol, a prefecture of Inner Mongolia, attempted to block a convoy of 100 trucks transporting coal. Just after midnight, several truck drivers decided to force  their way through the shepherds’ roadblock. According the South Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre (SMHRIC), Mergen’s body was dragged for 150 metres by one of the trucks before several other vehicles rolled over it.

Mergen’s body after the accident. Photo posted on SMHRIC.com.

The trucks’ two drivers were arrested the following day and charged with murder. The shepherd’s family were given compensation of more than 560,000 yuan (60,000 euros) by the state, a huge sum which government critics believe was intended to silence the family.

Nevertheless, several days later, thousands of Mongolians from several nearby towns took up Mergen’s struggle. On May 27, hundreds of protestors, most of which were students, clashed with anti-riot police in the regional capital Hohhot. Human rights organizations reported that over 40 people were arrested, although the authorities claim that there were only four arrests.

China has accused unspecified “foreign forces” of trying to exploit the protests – allegations similar to those it made following anti-Chinese unrest in Tibet in 2008 and northwestern Xinjang the following year. However the official party line contrasted with the words of a local Communist party leader who on Sunday assured students that he “understood their position” and promised that the truck drivers would be “severely and swiftly punished”.

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Have some bacon with those eggs: Higher-fat diets may not cause artery damage for obese people trying to lose weight

Eating foods higher in fat, such as bacon, may not be harmful to the arteries… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times | Jun 1, 2011

by Jeannine Stein

Rejoice, obese people trying to slim down. You may be able to occasionally indulge in steaks and bacon and eggs cooked in butter and still not damage your arteries, according to a study’s findings.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University randomly assigned 46 obese men and women age 30 to 65 and to one of two diet and exercise programs for six months. Participants in the low-carb group ate a diet consisting of no more than 30% of calories from carbs (pasta, bread and fruit), and 40% from fats (dairy, nuts and meats).

In the other group test subjects ate a low-fat diet made up of no more than 30% of calories from fat and 55% from carbs. Both groups did aerobic and resistance exercise three times a week.


High-Fat Diets Won’t Harden Arteries

In two tests (one of endothelial function, which may predict heart attack and strokes, and one of arterial stiffness) taken after the participants lost 10 pounds, neither group showed any adverse effects on vascular health. However, it took the low-fat group longer to lose ten pounds: an average 70 days, compared with an average 45 days for the high-fat group.

“Our study should help allay the concerns that many people who need to lose weight have about choosing a low-carb diet instead of a low-fat one, and provide reassurance that both types of diet are effective at weight loss and that a low-carb approach does not seem to pose any immediate risk to vascular health,” said study co-author Kerry Stewart. Stewart, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute, added, “More people should be considering a low-carb diet as a good option.”

However, Stewart cautioned making a habit of eating high-fat meals, since foods with a high fat and salt content could easily exceed what the American Heart Assn. and other organizations recommend.

The study will be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver.

Boy, 17, sells kidney to buy iPad 2

AsiaOne | Jun 2, 2011

By Paul Lim

ANHUI, CHINA – A student sold his kidney for 20,000 yuan (S$3,800) to buy an iPad 2.

The 17-year-old boy named Xiao Zheng, wanted the gadget but did not have money. He then found out online that he could sell his kidney for fast cash.

The person told the teenager he could get 20,000 yuan if he sold his kidney.

Three men, believed to be members of an organ selling syndicate, met the boy at a hospital in Chenzhou, Hunan, on April 28 to have his kidney removed.

They gave him an extra 2,000 yuan when they left.

Xiao Zheng’s mother found out what had happened three days later when he returned home with a laptop and an iPad.

After he told her what had happened, she brought him back to Chenzhou and lodged a police report. The men who had given him the money could not be contacted as their phones were switched off.

The boy has expressed regret over his actions, saying his health had deteriorated ever since his kidney was removed.

Pentagon may fight cyberwar with rockets

newscientist.com | Jun 1, 2011

by Duncan Graham-Rowe

Is it better to fight fire with fire, or just use a great big missile? When it comes to nation state responses to cyber-attacks, the answer appears to be both.

While the British government said this week that it is developing cyber-weapons to respond to debilitating attacks on critical national infrastructure, such as the electricity grid, the Pentagon says it may use traditional “kinetic” hardware to respond to such incursions.

The UK Ministry of Defence says cyber-weapons will soon be an integral part of the UK military’s arsenal. The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, the successor to the second world war code-breaking and intelligence centre at Bletchley Park, are in the vanguard of agencies developing these smart cyber-weapons, says the MoD.

But in the US, a far more aggressive approach is expected to be outlined in a cyberwar strategy document due for publication next month – doubtless fuelled by the online attacks on major US businesses like Mastercard and PayPal in 2010 and on aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin in the past week.
Act of war

According to details leaked to The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon is planning to treat any form of computer sabotage aimed at critical civilian or military infrastructure as an act of war and will respond accordingly. A Pentagon official told the newspaper: “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

The rationale seems to be that orchestrating an attack on a power grid would be hard to pull off without nation state support – and nation states make pretty big targets. But proving who is responsible for a cyberattack is far from easy. As New Scientist reported in 2009, it is easy to disguise the source of a cyberattack by spoofing internet packet source addresses. That means the smokestack being targeted by the Pentagon could actually be in an innocent country.

Or as lawyer Charles Williamson of the US air force in Europe put it in our 2009 report: “If Hamas hijacked a server in the US to attack Israel, could Israel hit the US server?” Unfortunately, he said, there is no cut-and-dried answer in international law.

Even the effectiveness of defensive and offensive cyber-weapons could be problematic. The UK government is particularly bad at managing IT-related projects, even by the standards of other developed nations, notes Ross Anderson, a computer security engineer at Cambridge University. “Don’t expect any magic answers,” he says.

Ban on Corexit Approved by Louisiana Senate Environmental Quality Committee

politics.gather.com | Jun 1, 2011

by Donald Pennington

In response to the volume of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last April 19th, 2010, oil company officials and federal authorities laced the Gulf waters with a dispersant called Corexit®—around 1.84 million gallons to be more precise. Environmental groups, Gulf shore residents, and state officials in Louisiana have expressed concern over the toxicity of the dispersant. And now, a few changes in state law may ban the substance from being used again in the event of another oil spill.

According to a report on NOLA.com, federal officials have not released toxicity reports regarding the use of the dispersant, in spite of numerous requests from various state concerns, including Republican A. G. Crowe, who proposed the ban. Various environmental and faith-based groups also report no response to their requests for documents pointing out potential health impacts of such chemicals.


Oil clean-up chemical dispersants more dangerous than oil itself?

Crowe suggests only the use of “practically non-toxic” dispersants in the event of a future oil spill. Just one of the highlighted standards to be met is that any dispersants have a “substantiated end-point of carbon dioxide and water.” But, is this feasible?

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