Daily Archives: December 6, 2011

Female scientist charged with child molesting and bestiality is back at work at the Centers for Disease Control

Daily Mail | Dec 1, 2011

Charged: Dr. Kimberly Quinlan Lindsey was charged with two counts of molestation and one count of bestiality.

The senior government scientist facing child molestation and bestiality charges has returned to her high-powered job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  

Dr Kimberly Quinlan Lindsey, 44, is accused of engaging in ‘immoral and indecent’ sex acts with a a six-year-old boy.

She and her live-in boyfriend, 42-year-old Thomas Westerman, were arrested in October and are both free on bail. Mr Westerman is charged with two counts of child molesting.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Dr Lindsey has returned to work at the government’s top research lab for communicable diseases and medical and health issues.

The CDC will not comment on her case, though officials said they are aware of the charges.

The acts are alleged to have taken place between January 2010 to August 2011, according to authorities.


An investigation was started into the child molestation charges after a medical professional alerted police.

During the investigation into the alleged molestation, authorities uncovered evidence Dr. Lindsey may have committed bestiality.

The bestiality does not involve the child.

Neighbors told the Atlanta NBC affiliate off camera that they do not believe the charges and spoke highly of both.

Lindsey is the deputy director for the Laboratory Science Policy and Practice Program Office.

In the last 12 years while working for the agency she has received 12 awards for outstanding performance on projects and programs.

Before this she was the senior health scientist in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response which oversees the allocation of $1.5billion for the preparation for terrorism.

She got a doctoral degree in immunology and molecular pathogenesis from Emory University.

Westerrman works at the CDC as a night watchman.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said Lindsey is a deputy director within the Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services at the agency, while Westerman is a resource management specialist in the same office.

A spokesman for the agency told CNN it was aware of the case, but said it could not comment on personnel issues.

DEA launders Mexican profits of drug cartels while facilitating their operations

Members of a forensic team stand among the slain bodies of six men at a crime scene in Monterrey on Nov. 30. Drug hitmen ordered six young men to line up against a wall and shot them, local media reported. Josue Gonzalez  /  Reuters file

As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years

Some of same concerns from Fast and Furious gun program arise in these operations

MSNBC | Dec 4, 2011


WASHINGTON — Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.

The agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders, those officials said, to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are.

They said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents.

The officials said that while the D.E.A. conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests.

Agency officials declined to publicly discuss details of their work, citing concerns about compromising their investigations. But Michael S. Vigil, a former senior agency official who is currently working for a private contracting company called Mission Essential Personnel, said, “We tried to make sure there was always close supervision of these operations so that we were accomplishing our objectives, and agents weren’t laundering money for the sake of laundering money.”

Another former agency official, who asked not to be identified speaking publicly about delicate operations, said, “My rule was that if we are going to launder money, we better show results. Otherwise, the D.E.A. could wind up being the largest money launderer in the business, and that money results in violence and deaths.”

Fast and Furious concerns

Those are precisely the kinds of concerns members of Congress have raised about a gun-smuggling operation known as Fast and Furious, in which agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed people suspected of being low-level smugglers to buy and transport guns across the border in the hope that they would lead to higher-level operatives working for Mexican cartels. After the agency lost track of hundreds of weapons, some later turned up in Mexico; two were found on the United States side of the border where an American Border Patrol agent had been shot to death.

Former D.E.A. officials rejected comparisons between letting guns and money walk away. Money, they said, poses far less of a threat to public safety. And unlike guns, it can lead more directly to the top ranks of criminal organizations.

“These are not the people whose faces are known on the street,” said Robert Mazur, a former D.E.A. agent and the author of a book about his years as an undercover agent inside the Medellín cartel in Colombia. “They are super-insulated. And the only way to get to them is to follow their money.”

Another former drug agency official offered this explanation for the laundering operations: “Building up the evidence to connect the cash to drugs, and connect the first cash pickup to a cartel’s command and control, is a very time consuming process. These people aren’t running a drugstore in downtown L.A. that we can go and lock the doors and place a seizure sticker on the window. These are sophisticated, international operations that practice very tight security. And as far as the Mexican cartels go, they operate in a corrupt country, from cities that the cops can’t even go into.”

Moving into Mexico

The laundering operations that the United States conducts elsewhere — about 50 so-called Attorney General Exempt Operations are under way around the world — had been forbidden in Mexico after American customs agents conducted a cross-border sting without notifying Mexican authorities in 1998, which was how most American undercover work was conducted there up to that point.

But that changed in recent years after President Felipe Calderón declared war against the country’s drug cartels and enlisted the United States to play a leading role in fighting them because of concerns that his security forces had little experience and long histories of corruption.

Today, in operations supervised by the Justice Department and orchestrated to get around sovereignty restrictions, the United States is running numerous undercover laundering investigations against Mexico’s most powerful cartels. One D.E.A. official said it was not unusual for American agents to pick up two or three loads of Mexican drug money each week. A second official said that as Mexican cartels extended their operations from Latin America to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, the reach of the operations had grown as well. When asked how much money had been laundered as a part of the operations, the official would only say, “A lot.”

“If you’re going to get into the business of laundering money,” the official added, “then you have to be able to launder money.”

Former counternarcotics officials, who also would speak only on the condition of anonymity about clandestine operations, offered a clearer glimpse of their scale and how they worked. In some cases, the officials said, Mexican agents, posing as smugglers and accompanied by American authorities, pick up traffickers’ cash in Mexico. American agents transport the cash on government flights to the United States, where it is deposited into traffickers’ accounts, and then wired to companies that provide goods and services to the cartel.

In other cases, D.E.A. agents, posing as launderers, pick up drug proceeds in the United States, deposit them in banks in this country and then wire them to the traffickers in Mexico.

Trying to seize money

The former officials said that the drug agency tried to seize as much money as it laundered — partly in the fees the operatives charged traffickers for their services and another part in carefully choreographed arrests at pickup points identified by their undercover operatives.

And the former officials said that federal law enforcement agencies had to seek Justice Department approval to launder amounts greater than $10 million in any single operation. But they said that the cap was treated more as a guideline than a rule, and that it had been waived on many occasions to attract the interest of high-value targets.

“They tell you they’re bringing you $250,000, and they bring you a million,” one former agent said of the traffickers. “What’s the agent supposed to do then, tell them no, he can’t do it? They’ll kill him.”

It is not clear whether such operations are worth the risks. So far there are few signs that following the money has disrupted the cartels’ operations, and little evidence that Mexican drug traffickers are feeling any serious financial pain. Last year, the D.E.A. seized about $1 billion in cash and drug assets, while Mexico seized an estimated $26 million in money laundering investigations, a tiny fraction of the estimated $18 billion to $39 billion in drug money that flows between the countries each year.

Mexico has tightened restrictions on large cash purchases and on bank deposits in dollars in the past five years. But a proposed overhaul of the Mexican attorney general’s office has stalled, its architects said, as have proposed laws that would crack down on money laundered through big corporations and retail chains.

“Mexico still thinks the best way to seize dirty money is to arrest a trafficker, then turn him upside down to see how much change falls out of his pockets,” said Sergio Ferragut, a professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico and the author of a book on money laundering, which he said was “still a sensitive subject for Mexican authorities.”

No change in drug traffic

Mr. Calderón boasts that his government’s efforts — deploying the military across the country — have fractured many of the country’s powerful cartels and led to the arrests of about two dozen high-level and midlevel traffickers.

But there has been no significant dip in the volume of drugs moving across the country. Reports of human rights violations by police officers and soldiers have soared. And drug-related violence has left more than 40,000 people dead since Mr. Calderón took office in December 2006.

The death toll is greater than in any period since Mexico’s revolution a century ago, and the policy of close cooperation with Washington may not survive.

“We need to concentrate all our efforts on combating violence and crime that affects people, instead of concentrating on the drug issue,” said a former foreign minister, Jorge G. Castañeda, at a conference hosted last month by the Cato Institute in Washington. “It makes absolutely no sense for us to put up 50,000 body bags to stop drugs from entering the United States.”

India to test new missile dubbed ‘the China killer’

blacktownsun.com.au | Dec 3, 2011


Given the incendiary moniker ”the China killer” by the more sensationalist press, India’s newest nuclear-capable missile will be its most powerful yet, and an unmistakable signal to its neighbours.

Agni V – formally named after the Hindu god of fire and acceptor of sacrifices – is set to be tested within three months.

It will be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead 5000 kilometres, meaning it can reach not only Beijing and Shanghai, but all of northern China. India’s existing arsenal can already reach every corner of Pakistan.

Indian officials are at pains to reiterate the country’s ”no first strike” policy, but the newly muscular armoury is feeding regional anxieties about an arms race. Foreign Policy magazine identified India’s military build-up as one of the major overlooked stories of 2011.

India was recently declared by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute as the biggest arms importer in the world – ahead of China – with 70 per cent of a $32.5 billion defence budget spent on buying hardware and weapons from overseas.

”But we are not looking at how many missiles China or Pakistan has,” says V. K. Saraswat, chief of the Defence Research & Development Organisation.

”With a ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy, we only want a sufficient number of missiles to defend the country in the event of a crisis. Ours is a defensive mode strategy, even if others have offensive postures.”

India’s muscle flexing comes at a sensitive juncture for Australia, too.

At the Australian Labor Party’s national conference this weekend, one of the pre-eminent agenda items is a motion to end the ban on selling uranium to India.

The move, publicly unveiled by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, a fortnight ago, is expected to win sufficient support to be adopted as Labor policy.

Australian uranium sales to countries with nuclear weapons programs come with strict provisos that Australian uranium is used only for civilian purposes.

But uranium is fungible. And a new market offering high-grade uranium ore for India’s civilian reactors frees up the country’s limited indigenous supplies for boosting its military program.

India has been developing its Agni-category ballistic missiles for nearly a decade, with each edition capable of greater range, and carrying a larger warhead, than its predecessor.

It was three years between the testing of Agni III and the first, failed, test of Agni IV.

But Agni IV was successfully fired on November 15, and already there are rumours Agni V will be ready to test before the end of the year.

”Agni V is presently undergoing integration and we may test-fire it by the end of February next year. It is right on schedule and the successful test of Agni IV will prove to be a building block in development of this missile,” Mr Saraswat says.

This new haste of missile development is of particular concern to China, which feels that the latter Agni iterations are being built specifically with it in mind.

The People’s Daily, official organ of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote scathingly of India’s build-up: ”India is expanding its military strength, but it is still uncertain whether India will realise its dream of being a leading power, because India’s weak economy is severely unmatched with the image of a leading military power.

”In addition, international communities and India’s surrounding countries are all suspecting and even being on guard against this kind of unbalanced development mode … international communities do not want to see a severe military imbalance in South Asia.”

China’s nuclear arsenal dwarfs India’s – it is believed to have about 410 nuclear warheads to India’s 70.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has long resented India’s Agni missile program, the first two instalments of which Pakistan felt were built specifically to target it.

Pakistan proclaims the superiority of its Shaheen missiles – despite international anxiety over their security – and often derides its neighbour’s attempts as ”incompetent”.

”It is interesting to watch that Indian missile program facing tragedies,” Samar Mubarakmand, chairman of Pakistan’s National Engineering and Science Commission, said when India’s first Agni III test failed. ”Indian technology has been exposed in clumsy manners.”

Pakistan officials are saying less now India’s missiles have a greater range than theirs.

Bayer covered up blood-clot risk with Yasmin birth-control pills

Bayer Withheld Yasmin Data From U.S., Former FDA Head Says

bloomberg.com | Dec 5, 2011

By Margaret Cronin Fisk and Jef Feeley

A Bayer AG unit’s researchers found increased reports of blood clots in users of its Yasmin birth- control pills and the company withheld the information from U.S. regulators, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration said.

David Kessler, the former FDA commissioner, in a document unsealed today in federal court in Illinois, said Bayer didn’t include an analysis “that demonstrated an increase in the U.S. reporting rate” for venous thromboembolism, or clots, in a 2004 review of Yasmin’s safety provided to the agency.

The report also didn’t include an earlier draft opinion by company researchers that “spontaneous reporting data do signal a difference in the VTE rates for Yasmin” compared with other oral contraceptives, Kessler said, quoting the draft.

“Bayer presented a selective view of the data, and that presentation obscured the potential risks associated with Yasmin,” Kessler said. The company also promoted the oral contraceptive for unapproved uses, particularly for treatment of premenstrual syndrome, Kessler said.

Kessler’s report and four other expert opinions were released today by lawyers representing former users of Bayer’s Yasmin family of contraceptives. The experts were paid by the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who submitted the reports to the FDA, which is considering safety findings on Yasmin and its sister product Yaz at a hearing Dec. 8.

‘Matters of Litigation’

Rose Talarico, a U.S.-based spokeswoman for Bayer, said the company doesn’t comment on ongoing lawsuits. “We have nothing further to add as these are matters of litigation,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “We expect them to be addressed further at trial.”

Morgan Liscinsky, an FDA spokeswoman, didn’t immediately comment on the unsealed documents about the drugmaker’s handling of the contraceptives.

The FDA didn’t accept the documents for the hearing, according to an e-mail sent to plaintiffs’ lawyer Ned McWilliams after business hours today.

“The deadline for all written submissions was on November 23, 2011,” Kalyani Bhatt, of the FDA’s Division of Advisory Committee and Consultant Management, wrote. “We will not be able to accept any written submission at this time.”

10,000 Lawsuits

Bayer faces more than 10,000 lawsuits over injuries allegedly caused by the contraceptives. Lawyers suing the drugmaker cited FDA reports of at least 50 deaths tied to the pills from 2004 to 2008. The first trials are scheduled for next month in federal court in Illinois and state court in Philadelphia.

Bayer’s contraceptives generated $1.58 billion (1.17 billion euros) in sales last year, making them the company’s biggest-selling drugs after Betaseron, a multiple sclerosis medication. The contraceptives, which contain the hormone drospirenone, have been the focus of regulators who question their safety. Bayer’s Yasmin was the No. 4 oral contraceptive in the U.S. this year as of September, with 4.6 percent of the market, according to data from IMS Health.

In October, the FDA warned that women taking the pills were 74 percent more likely to suffer blood clots than women on other low-estrogen contraceptives. The FDA examined data on 835,826 women who took pills containing the hormone, including Bayer’s Yasmin line of birth-control pills, according to the FDA report. The agency set the Dec. 8 hearing to discuss the findings.

Health Risks

The lawsuits claim Bayer didn’t sufficiently warn patients of the health risks of the Yasmin family of birth-control pills. They also claim Bayer’s Berlex Laboratories Inc., acquired in the 2006 purchase of Schering AG, marketed the drug for unapproved uses.

This marketing campaign, according to the documents unsealed today, included paying $450,000 to Los Angeles gynecologist Judith Reichman to sponsor a tour for a book she was writing on women’s health issues, among other items, Kessler said.

Kessler said the Bayer unit withheld information about Yasmin’s risks of clots before the drug was approved by the FDA in 2001.

Internal Study

Bayer didn’t report to the FDA details on the risks of clots from an internal study and two cases of clots in patients on the pill prior to the drug’s approval by the agency, Kessler said.

“Had I, or a medical review officer, known these facts prior to approval, further investigation would be warranted before a decision on Yasmin’s NDA could be made,” he said, referring to the company’s new drug application.

“These facts would impact the agency’s risk-benefit equation about the drug and whether it could be approved,” Kessler said.

The FDA told Bayer in June 2003 that it was “very concerned” about the number of adverse events, particularly deaths, reported in Yasmin users, Kessler said, citing an agency letter to the company. This included six deaths in the U.S., five of which were first reported to the FDA after April 2, 2003, the agency said.

“Because of these recent reports, we believe that a change in Yasmin labeling and possibly additional actions are now warranted,” the FDA wrote to Bayer, according to the Kessler report.

‘White Paper’

Bayer responded that its data didn’t show a higher risk for Yasmin. Internally, the company decided to produce a “White Paper,” to the FDA, which would be “a scientific write-up that lays out the issues,” according to a Bayer document quoted by Kessler.

The white paper would compare Yasmin to other oral contraceptives, or OCs, covering multiple adverse events including venous thromboembolism (VTE) and pulmonary embolism (PT).

In an early draft of that report, Bayer employees wrote, according to Kessler, “Compared to the three other OCs, Yasmin has a several fold increase in the reporting rates for DVT, PE, ATE and confirmed VTEs.”

In this draft, the employees added: “When considering only serious AEs (adverse events), the reporting rate for Yasmin was 10 fold higher than with the other products.” The total rate of confirmed VTEs per year was three or four times higher than the other three oral contraceptives reviewed, according to the data in the draft, Kessler said. The raw numbers were 6.9 per year for Yasmin and 1.5 for two of the other pills, according to the draft.

‘Spontaneous Reporting’

In a later draft, the Bayer employees said that “spontaneous reporting data do signal a difference in the VTE rates for Yasmin and other OC users.”

Such data wasn’t the “preferred approach to assess the safety of a single product,” the researchers wrote. They said data from a direct comparison, such as two then-ongoing studies “should provide more insight.”

“The spontaneous reporting do NOT signal a difference in VTE rates for Yasmin,” another Berlex employee wrote to company colleagues in commenting on the draft, Kessler said. “Those comments were not accompanied by any additional data,” Kessler said.

Media Attention

Kessler agreed that spontaneous reporting of incidents has limitations, because of the voluntary nature of the reports, effects of media attention, different times of introduction for drugs, among other factors. The information still should have been included, he said.

“Even with its limitations, analysis of spontaneous reporting data is an important, recognized and vitally used tool by the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry for detecting safety signals” Kessler said in his report.

“Bayer’s spontaneous reporting analysis demonstrated a safety signal about Yasmin and VTE risk,” he said. “Bayer had a duty to present a full and balanced view of all the data and analysis concerning Yasmin to the FDA and health-care professionals and failed to do so.”

Women suing Bayer over its line of birth-control pills contend the company and its units went to unusual lengths to market the medication for unapproved uses, according to court papers.

Marketing Drugs

Bayer’s Berlex unit came up with a plan to hire Judith Reichman, a Los Angeles-based gynecologist who writes a blog about women’s health issues, “to engage in off-label promotion” of the Yasmin line of contraceptives, Dr. John Abramson, a Harvard medical school professor, concluded in his report.

Abramson was hired by plaintiffs’ lawyers to review materials Bayer turned over about the marketing of the drugs. His report was also unsealed today by a federal judge in Illinois who is overseeing a consolidation of Yaz cases.

Berlex officials said in an e-mail they’d agreed to pay Reichman $450,000 in return for her willingness to “mention off-label benefits of our products,” Abramson noted. The doctor was planning an upcoming book on women’s health issues.

The company also planned to purchase 10,000 copies of the book, which contained “off-label claims” about the Yasmin line of contraceptives, the doctor noted. The purchase was part of a “strategy to have the book appear on the New York Times bestseller list,” Abramson added.

In her 2005 book, “Slow Your Clock Down,” Reichman wrote that Yasmin may help women with PMS-related symptoms such as “fluid accumulation and bloat,” or with depression.

The FDA approved Yasmin only as a contraceptive. The regulator hasn’t cleared it as a treatment for any form of PMS or other ailments, according to the agency’s website. Reichman was unavailable to comment about her work with Bayer because her husband died, her assistant, Deborah Cannon, said in an e-mail.

Berlex officials understood the value of such publicity, Abramson noted. For example, Talarico, a then-spokeswoman for Berlex, flagged a copy of a 2006 story about Yaz in Allure magazine that touted the benefits of Yaz for treating PMS.

Richard Salem, Berlex’s vice president for communications, congratulated Talarico for getting the article placed in the magazine.

“The value of these placements is astronomical,” Salem said in an e-mail, according to court filings.

Commercial Success

Internal e-mails also show officials of Bayer and its Berlex unit engaged in an extensive public relations campaign to market Yaz that was “designed to circumvent FDA restrictions on marketing” because they saw the limits “as a threat to the commercial success of Yaz,” Abramson said in his report.

The Kessler and Abramson reports were sent to the FDA by McWilliams, a lawyer with Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor PA in Pensacola, Florida.

“Although these reports were prepared for litigation, they contain relevant information obtained from Bayer that has not been previously provided to the FDA that will assist the committee and the FDA in its own evaluation of the benefits and risks of drospirenone-containing oral contraceptives,” McWilliams wrote to the agency.

The case is In re Yasmin and Yaz (Drospirenone) Marketing, Sales Practices and Product Liability Litigation, 09-md-02100, U.S. District Court, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis).

Kepler finds first ‘habitable’ planet orbiting distant star

zdnet.co.uk | Dec 5, 2011

By Rupert Goodwins

It’s 600 light years away, twice the size of Earth and has the unassuming name of Kepler-22b. But Nasa says that the planet is the first we’ve found, apart from our own, that could have liquid water on its surface — in other words, it orbits its star in a habitable zone.

Found by the Kepler project using the Spitzer orbiting telescope in conjunction with ground-based observations, Kepler-22b still has many mysteries. We don’t know whether it’s rocky like Earth, gaseous like Jupiter or Saturn, or even mostly liquid, but we do know it’s the first of more than a thousand candidate exoplanets — those orbiting other stars — that passes the first test for life support.

Others have come close: two other small planets orbiting stars cooler and smaller than our sun have been discovered, right on the edge of their systems’ habitable zones, rather like Mars and Venus are on the edge of ours. But Kepler-22b’s sun is G-type, very similar to our own Sol if slightly smaller and cooler, and the planetary orbital period is 290 days, again in line with our own.


A ‘major milestone’ in search for Earth’s twin

“Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet,” said team leader William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Center in California, in a news release. “The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season.”

After some debate, the Kepler team’s first definition of a habitable zone was adjusted and tightened up after the first list of 54 possibles was reported as part of a major project update in February 2011. However, longer observation periods have increased the number of potential Earth-sized planets known by more than 200 percent since then, raising expectations that many more will be categorised as potentially life-supporting.

“The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us that we’re honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect: those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially habitable,” said Natalie Batalha, deputy science team leader at San Jose State University, in the release. “The more data we collect, the keener our eye for finding the smallest planets out at longer orbital periods.”

A change in climate would do Britain’s growers good says Met Office

The UK could benefit the most with an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land becoming more suitable for crops by 2100 Photo: MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images

Climate change will be good for British farming, according to a new Met Office report, that found most agricultural will become more productive as temperatures rise.

Telegraph | Dec 5, 2011

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, in Durban

The report, which brings together for the first time climate change projections for 24 different countries, found that farmers in the UK, Germany and Canada could all benefit from global warming.

In these temperate climates, the increase in temperature will not kill plants but can make it easier to grow crops like wheat.

The UK could benefit the most with an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land becoming more suitable for crops by 2100.

However Australia, Spain and South Africa will all see their crop production fall as the plants die in the hotter climate. More than 90 per cent of the land in these countries will become less suitable for agriculture.


The report also estimated the likelihood of water shortages and floods in different countries across the world.

In the UK the number of households under ‘water stress’ will increase to almost a quarter of the population as the average temperature rises by up to 3C in the south.

This means that by 2100 18 million people will be at risk of ‘not having enough water to meet their daily needs’.

Water stress will be worse in South and South East, where there is already a problem providing the growing population with enough water.

This winter water companies in Anglia, South East Water and Severn Trent have declared themselves in drought and are asking consumers to limit water use. It is expected the South East and Midlands will face a hosepipe ban next summer following the driest 12 months on record in some areas.

At the other end of the scale the risk of costal and river flooding will also increase because of rising sea levels and more heavy bursts of rainfall.

The Met Office estimated that there will be a “general increase in flood risk for the UK”.

The projections ranged from a three and a half times greater risk of flooding to a decrease in flooding by a fifth.

This complex picture was also reflected in the impact on agriculture.

Although the maximum area of land that will increase in suitability was 99 per cent, there was one study that found it will decrease by a fifth.

Northern Ireland and Scotland are expected to see the biggest boost in crop production, while the south of the country may suffer from drought.

Overall the Met Office estimate that crop production in the UK will increase by 96 per cent, citing studies that predicted an increased production in wheat, soybean and sunflowers as temperatures rise.

However Jonathan Scurlock, of the National Farmers Union, said a number of other factors have to be taken into account such as the increased risk of droughts and floods.

The report admits that disease, pollution and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have also not been taken into account.

“The implications for agriculture generally are negative in the long term,” said Mr Scurlock. “If nothing is done now we are looking at significant impacts in a generation’s time.”

The report estimated that the production of staple food crops will decrease in parts of Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India Russia, Turkey and the USA.

A recent Oxfam have warned that food prices are already rising as a result of reduced crop yield around the world due to climate change and warned the problem could drive malnutrition in future.

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that overall the impact of climate change could be extremely damaging for the UK and the world.

“This report highlights some of the very real dangers we face if we don’t limit emissions to combat the rise in global temperature. Life for millions of people could change forever, with water and food supplies being placed in jeopardy and homes and livelihoods under threat. This makes the challenge of reducing emissions even more urgent,” he said.

The report warned that if the world does not limit temperature rise to 2C by cutting carbon emissions then the majority of countries are projected to see an increase in river and coastal flooding, putting 49 million more people in danger by 2100.

The Lib Dem minister arrived at the United Nations talks in Durban yesterday (Monday) to try and persuade the rest of the world to sign up to ambitious carbon emissions, despite the fact that his own Government is being criticised for rowing back from climate change back home.

Mr Huhne wants the world to agree to work towards a legally binding deal by 2015 that would commit all countries to cutting emissions.

But at the moment the US, China and India are refusing to sign up, raising fears that the talks could collapse.

“The UK wants a legally binding global agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2C,” he said. “If this is achieved this study shows that some of the most significant impacts from climate change could be reduced significantly. By the end of the week we need to see progress to move towards this goal.”


McDonald’s debuts light version of its French fries in Chicago: A laser light billboard that resembles New York’s 9/11 memorial

McDonald’s new ad campaign designed by Leo Burnett Chicago features giant yellow lights that look like fries beaming into the sky. Leo Burnett Chicago

The ‘Fry Lights’ billboard shoots yellow beams into the heavens to honor the French fry


BY Amanda Mikelberg

McDonald’s has reclaimed the Bush era catchphrase “freedom fries” with a light-beam tribute to the fried potato that looks remarkably like Tribute in Light, which shines annually at Ground Zero.

As part of its “Best Fries on the Planet” campaign, McDonald’s partnered with Chicago-based marketing giant Leo Burnett to design the “Fry Lights” billboard in the suburb Oak Brook, where it’s visible from a three-mile radius, McDonald’s said.

The billboard features a “giant box of fries with beacons of golden light illuminating the night sky,” says NBC Chicago, which called it “a beacon of hope for fast-food junkies and late-night drunks in downtown Chicago.”

Tribute McDonalds
On the left, the ‘Tribute of Light’ in New York City. On the right, McDonald’s ‘Fry Lights’ billboard in Chicago. (John Tracy for New York Daily News; Leo Burnett Chicago)

The marketing device’s apparent inspiration is New York City’s monument to the Twin Towers that has shone every year on September 11 since the World Trade Center bombings in 2001.

Although the McDonald’s team has yet to comment on the freedom-themed advertisement, Twitter users apparently approve of the marketing strategy.

“McDonald’s has a very creative and awesome new billboard in Chicago that you need to see,” posted Twitter user and media ethics PhD student Cory Weaver.

The Fry Lights billboard will reportedly be turned off on December 8.