Thursday, November 29, 2012

Six young people get 100 lashes in Mali for mingling

The Islamist extremists who took over northern Mali months ago are making progress in their enthronement of Sharia law in the region even as ECOWAS and allied forces are gearing up to re-unite the country.
The extremists publicly whipped six young people, males and females aged 16 to 22 years, who each received 100 lashes for having talked with each other on the streets
Timbuktu residents say that Islamist extremists controlling the region publicly whipped six young people, males and females aged between 16 to 22 years, who each received 100 lashes for having talked with each other on the city streets, according to the Associated Press.
Aboubacrine Yattara, who lives in Timbuktu and witnessed the whippings, told AP over the phone that the young people were arrested last week by the Islamists were convicted Wednesday of comingling. He said they were flogged Thursday in Timbuktu's small market.
The head of the Islamist brigade responsible for customs in Timbuktu, Mohamed Ag Mossa Intoulou, did not deny the whippings when contacted by AP but said he did not have authorization to speak to the press.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good sleep linked to improved vocabulary in children

Children who get good sleep at night are more likely to have good vocabulary as they can learn and retain new words better than kids who don't get enough sleep.
A new study has found that the mechanism that the adults use to learn is the same mechanism that enables children to develop vocabulary.
Children's ability to recall and recognise new words improved approximately 12 hours after training, but only if sleep occurs
"These are truly exciting results which open up a new dimension of research in our understanding of language development. Our work provides the first evidence that sleep is associated with the integration of newly-learned words into the mental dictionaries of children," said Dr Anna Weighall from the psychology research group at Sheffield Hallam.
Children with disturbed sleep or those who snore a lot while sleeping are more likely to have problems with learning and behavior
Researchers found that new words began assimilating with other words in the brain after a cycle of 12 hours. But, this process happens only if the child has slept during the period. Sleep provides an environment that helps the brain start consolidating learned material that it shifts from short-term memory to long-term memory.

Unemployed men are more likely to divorce - study

Once upon a time, men worked, women didn’t and that appeared to be the equation for a harmonious family life. Now, new research shows how much that truism has changed for women but stayed the same for men.
While attitudes about women working have evolved considerably, social pressure on men to be breadwinners is still strong, according to the study, which was published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Sociology. The study shows that unemployment, more than unhappiness in the relationship, predicts divorce — at least for men.
"For men, not having a job increases the risk he will initiate leaving the relationship, and it also increases the risk women will leave the relationship"
“It’s still unacceptable for men to stay home and take care of the kids,” says Liana Sayer, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
Sayer found that a woman who was very unhappy in her marriage was more likely to begin divorce proceedings if she was working than if she was unemployed. Whether or not a woman worked had no bearing on the chance that her husband would leave the relationship, however.

Job loss raises threat of heart attack

 Unemployment increases the risk of heart attack, a new study reports, and repeated job loss raises the odds still more.
In a prospective analysis from 1992 to 2010 with interviews every other year, researchers tracked job history and heart attacks among more than 13,000 people ages 51 to 75. The study, published online Nov. 19 in The Archives of Internal Medicine, recorded 1,061 heart attacks over the period.
After adjusting for well-established heart attack risks — age, sex, smoking, income, hypertension, cholesterol screening, exercise, depression, diabetes and others — the researchers found that being unemployed also increased the risk of a heart attack, by an average of 35 percent.
Losing one job was linked to a 22 percent increase in heart attack risk, losing two jobs with a 27 percent increase, three jobs with a 52 percent increase, and a loss of four or more jobs with a 63 percent increase.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Monday set to be the biggest online shopping day ever

Black Friday is a distant memory. Small Business Saturday is long gone. Now, it's Cyber Monday's turn.
Cyber Monday, coined in 2005 by a shopping trade group that noticed a spike in online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving when people returned to work, is the next in a line of days that stores are counting on to jump-start the holiday shopping season.
Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row
This year's Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row.
According to research firm comScore, Americans are expected to spend $1.5 billion, up from $1.25 billion last year on Cyber Monday, as retailers ramp up deals to get shoppers to click on their websites.

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Boko Haram dares the military, bombs St. Andrew Military Church, Jaji

A church bombed recently in Kaduna
Forty eight hours after it announced a ransom of $1.8 million for information that could lead to the capture of 19 leaders of the Boko Haram terrorist group, the Nigerian military became the latest victim of the group's suicide bombing activities.
Two cars loaded with explosives ran into a military church in Jaji, Kaduna state killing at least 12 people and injuring over 30 others.

This attack in Jaji on Sunday, however, happened inside a barracks home to the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, one of the country’s most important military colleges.

It also showed a new dangerous sophistication as the second explosion appeared timed to target responders rushing to aid the wounded 10 minutes after the first blast, officials said.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nigeria places $317,000 ransom on Boko Haram leader

Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader
Nigeria's military on Friday offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in rewards for information leading to the capture of leaders of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.
A statement listed 19 alleged senior members of the extremist group blamed for hundreds of deaths in connection with its insurgency in northern and central Nigeria.
The rewards ranged from 50 million naira ($317,000, 245,000 euros) for the suspected leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, to 10 million naira for various Boko Haram "commanders".
"They are wanted in connection with terrorist activities particularly in the northeast zone of Nigeria that led to the killings, bombings and assassination of some civilians, religious leaders, traditional rulers, businessmen, politicians, civil servants and security personnel amongst others," a military statement said.
"They are also wanted for arson and destruction of properties worth millions of naira."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Iron Dome: The technology that stops missiles like no other

 International news the last few days has been dominated with reports of renewed fighting between Isreal and Hamas.  Casualties are rising by the day as the two sides trade missiles and rockets.  At least 91 persons have been killed according to latest reports.  Tensions are rising as world leaders scramble to fashion last minute solution to the crisis before it spirals beyond control.
As the fighting continues, both sides voice fears about a full scale war.  According to Los Angeles Times, "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has signaled that a ground invasion could be imminent if cease-fire talks in Cairo falter. More than 45,000 reservists have been called up and troops are massing along the border area in southern Israel."
It is destroying about 90% of the rockets and missiles that Hamas, the Palestinian political party governing Gaza, is firing into southern Israel
One new technology that has been a feature of this latest uprising in the Middle East is the Iron Dome. It is the clear difference between the casualties in Hamas and Isreal.  Hamas fired 100 missiles on Israel Sunday, 30 of which Israel says it shot down.  "It is destroying about 90% of the rockets and missiles that Hamas, the Palestinian political party governing Gaza, is firing into southern Israel, Israeli officials say," reports Times magazine.

“In one of the recent exchanges, one of the batteries was 100% [successful]. That means, to me, that Iron Dome is capable of 100% [across the board] — I don’t think it was entirely a fluke,” Times quotes an Isreali official as saying. "The bottom line: the more rockets Hamas fires, it seems, the better at stopping them Iron Dome becomes," the magazine notes.
The system appears to be less effective at very close ranges. And the existence of Iron Dome seems to have prodded Hamas to increase the rocket launchings and expand its radius of attack to areas Israel would not have thought to deploy the missile battery, including Jerusalem
On the other hand, almost all missiles fired by Isreal have hit targets.  The Israeli military says its strikes are surgical, and are finding their targets. Attempts by Hamas to build and launch drone aircrafts is being checked by Isreal which clearly has the technology edge.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Losing belly fat can help you sleep better: study

A new study finds that not only can weight loss improve your sleep, but losing belly fat in particular enahnces the quality of your zzzs.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US enrolled 77 overweight or obese subjects who had type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes in a six-month program.
The subjects were then randomly assigned to one of two groups, one group went on a weight-loss diet with exercise training, while the second group only had diet intervention. Before the study, subjects also were interviewed about their sleep issues, such as insomnia, daytime fatigue, and sleep apnoea.
"We found that improvement in sleep quality was significantly associated with overall weight loss, especially belly fat"
After six months, both groups lost about 15 pounds/6.8 kilos and about 15% of their belly fat. Also, interestingly, both groups also improved their overall sleep score by about 20% with no differences between the groups.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sex addiction is a diagnosis-worthy disorder, study suggests

Is sex addiction a real disorder— or just an excuse for bad behavior?
The condition—now labeled “hypersexual disorder”— is up for consideration as a diagnosis to be included as a research topic in the next edition of psychiatry’s diagnostic manual, the DSM-5. A new study provides support for its inclusion.
In a paper published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine researchers studied 207 people who had visited outpatient clinics and reported problematic sexual behavior.  The clinics offered either specific counseling and treatment for sexual addiction or more general treatment for drug addiction or psychiatric problems. The participants were randomly selected among those seeking admission whose problems included at least some compulsive sexual behavior.
sex addiction may threaten health and social relationships: 28% of those diagnosed contracted an STD at least once, 39% had lost relationships and 17% had lost jobs because of their condition

Monday, November 5, 2012

In online poll, China votes Romney as the world prefers Obama

Most of the world — 81 percent — would vote for Barack Obama, according to a new MSN poll, which surveyed 570,000 people in 36 countries.
But perhaps the most surprising result is that Romney might have an unlikely international ally: The People’s Republic of China. Fifty-two percent of the online readers polled by MSN there preferred the GOP candidate, even after he accused the country of being a nation of “cheats” and of stealing intellectual property.
In 34 of the 35 countries where MSN quizzed its online readers, the current US president won well over half of the votes. 
The results of MSN's survey poses something of a dilemma for Romney, who would not want to be seen as being popular in China. Throughout this year's presidential campaign Romney has tried to talk tough towards the country, accusing it of being a nation of "cheats" and of stealing "intellectual property".

How Hurricane Sandy convinced Bloomberg to back Obama

 If scientists are right about the implications of human-caused climate change, almost every intelligent person will, sooner or later, undergo a eureka moment in which the magnitude of the problem sinks in. For some cerebral types, reading an IPCC report or watching Al Gore drone on over a series of glorified PowerPoint slides may have been sufficient. For others, it will take a more personal blow.
For Michael Bloomberg, it seems, that moment was Hurricane Sandy. The New York City mayor, whose backing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both sought, announced today that he was endorsing Obama. His No. 1 reason: the president’s stance on climate change.
Below are the first three paragraphs of his endorsement, which you can read in full here:
  1. The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast—in lost lives, lost homes and lost business—brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.
  2. The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work. And in the short term, our subway system remains partially shut down, and many city residents and businesses still have no power. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods—something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable.
  3. Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be—given this week's devastation—should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.

Bloomberg, whose business-friendly, tech-savvy, socially tolerant policies have made him one of the nation’s most influential centrists, is not new to the climate change bandwagon. But it seems that being forced to watch powerlessly as a freak storm brought his city to its knees prompted him to up the urgency a bit.
I don’t read Bloomberg’s endorsement primarily as an opportunistic or strategic act, as Klein seems to. Call me naive, but I read it as a genuine call to action from a man who has just been brought face-to-face with one of the most serious threats to the nation’s long-term security and prosperity

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bloomberg endorses Obama, citing climate change

 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today endorsed President Obama, citing the urgent need to address climate change.
"The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of Tuesday's presidential election into sharp relief," the mayor wrote in the opinion section of his eponymous news operation, Bloomberg News. "Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week's devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."
"We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption"
New York City was forced to evacuate neighborhoods twice in just 14 months because of hurricanes, Bloomberg noted. While the city has taken steps toward sustainability, the mayor said cities can't do it alone.
"We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption," he wrote, citing the higher fuel efficiency standards the president set, as well as the tighter controls for mercury emissions.
An independent known for backing centrist politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties, Bloomberg for months had declined to endorse a candidate. In an interview with The Atlantic magazine last month, Bloomberg said Mr. Obama's biggest accomplishment in his first term was "just getting elected" because it served as evidence of greater racial unity in the country.
After Sandy left millions without power and crippled New York City's transportation system, Mr. Obama offered to visit the city and assess the storm damage, but Bloomberg turned down the offer. The president instead toured storm damage in New Jersey with Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
Climate change has received little attention on the campaign trail, although Mr. Obama often pledges during campaign rallies to keep pursuing clean energy technology, declaring that climate change is "not a hoax."