Hot headlines

Oct 012012

And new problems arise for troubled Daichi nuclear power plants.

by  Takashi Sugimoto

The operator is having difficulty pumping water into destroyed reactors at the Fukushima No 1 plant, tanks are rapidly filling with radioactive water, and hundreds of potentially volatile uranium fuel assemblies remain in a precarious storage pool that some warn could collapse in another strong earthquake.

But Tokyo Electric Power Co is working on solving those problems, with plans to build new storage tanks, to erect an overhead crane to lift the fuel, and to decommission the destroyed reactors within 40 years.

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Sep 242012

Skewed studies, withheld unfavourable results, mislead physicians and patients.

by Brian Goldacre

Reboxetine is a drug I have prescribed. Other drugs had done nothing for my patient, so we wanted to try something new.

I'd read the trial data before I wrote the prescription, and found only well-designed, fair tests, with overwhelmingly positive results. Reboxetine was better than a placebo, and as good as any other antidepressant in head-to-head comparisons. It's approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (the MHRA), which governs all drugs in the UK.

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Sep 242012

"Innocence of Muslims" mobs a tempest in a teapot.

by Gwynne Dyer

One of the first scenes in the ridiculous but thoroughly nasty film Innocence of Muslims shows angry Muslims running through the streets smashing things and killing people. So what happens when a clip from the film dubbed into Arabic goes up on the Internet? Angry Muslims run through the streets smashing things and killing people.

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Sep 162012
Mitt Romney’s Muslim-baiting backers

Why was GOP candidate so slow to condemn "Innocence of Muslims"? 

by Wayne Barrett

…The Romney campaign’s foreign policy team of advisers is flooded with neocons from the Bush era, including Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who, as Ari Berman reported in The Nation, inserted the famous “sixteen words” in Bush’s State of the Union address in 2003 claiming that Iraq tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger.

Romney’s top national security adviser since 2007 is Cofer Black, the former Blackwater executive and CIA official who ran the “extraordinary rendition” torture program. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Super PAC donor for Romney, says “all the terrorists are Islamists,” Gingrich’s declaration that the Palestinians are “an invented people.” This is the context surrounding Romney’s most recent expedition into Middle East policy.

A Washington Post editorial echoed by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews pointedly raised the question of why Romney failed to condemn the fourteen-minute trailer, “Innocence of Muslims,” during his Wednesday press conference, though it ostensibly triggered the embassy attacks in Egypt and elsewhere.

His campaign later issued a muted criticism of “the reported message of the movie.” Finally, this morning, he said the “whole film is a terrible idea,” and that “making it, promoting it, showing it, is disrespectful to people of other faiths,” a statement it took him four days after the furor began to make.

The fact is that the film emerged from the same Islamophobic circles that celebrate Bolton and Boykin, and are now backing Romney….

Mitt Romney's Muslim-baiting backers

Sep 162012

Tables turned on imam who faked evidence.

by Gwynne Dyer

It was a welcome change from the usual dreary story: a Christian or a Hindu Pakistani accused of blasphemy on flimsy grounds, tried and sentenced to prison — or found innocent, set free and then murdered by some Muslim fanatic. This time was different.

The victim was a 14-year-old Christian girl, Rimsa Masih, who is believed to suffer from Down's syndrome. She was stopped by a young Muslim man who found the half-burned remnants of a book that allegedly included verses from the Qur’an in her carrier bag. He told the local imam, who called the police, and she was arrested.

This kind of story usually ends badly in Pakistan. Two years ago, for example, a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was arrested for insulting the Prophet Muhammad while arguing with fellow farm-workers. She was sentenced to death by hanging, but it was such a manifest injustice that the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, publicly called for the repeal of the blasphemy law. He was assassinated by his own bodyguard in January 2011.

The bodyguard was tried for murder and convicted, but he was treated as a hero by many Pakistanis, and the judge who sent him to prison had to flee the country. Two months later the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet, Shahbaz Bhatti, was also shot dead when he spoke out against the blasphemy laws. Since then, almost nobody has dared to criticize them….

Blasphemy in Pakistan

Sep 102012

Harperites banish hard data to accommodate their ideology.

by Allan Gregg

…I have spent my entire professional life as a researcher, dedicated to understanding the relationship between cause and effect. And I have to tell you, I’ve begun to see some troubling trends. It seems as though our government’s use of evidence and facts as the bases of policy is declining, and in their place, dogma, whim and political expediency are on the rise. And even more troubling …. Canadians seem to be buying it.

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Sep 082012

Youth welcomes prison as route to a good education.

by Carole Cadwalladr

Since 2008, the internet collective have hacked the CIA, the Sun newspaper, the Church of Scientology and a host of other large corporations, sparking a global police crackdown last year. But who and what are Anonymous? A radical new form of activism – or just bored teenagers? We talk to some of the 'hacktivists' and the experts who tracked them down in the deep web…

…. Anonymous suddenly had a face: and the face was of a furtive, greasy-haired youth, wearing a pair of dark glasses and carrying a book called Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science. If you had to imagine what a teenage computer hacker would look like, this was it.

The episode was front-page news on websites across the world, as a string of arrests were made: 19-year-old Ryan Cleary from Essex; 16-year-old Tflow from London; 27-year-old Jeremy Hammond from Chicago; a 25-year-old former soldier, Ryan Ackroyd, from Doncaster; 19-year-old Darren Martyn (or PwnSauce), from Galway, and Donncha O'Cearrbhail (or Palladium), also 19 and from Offaly, Ireland. The most recent arrest, 12 days ago, was of another American, 20-year-old Raynaldo Rivera of Arizona….

…What seems incredible, even now (and maybe, especially, to Jake), is how a slightly troubled teenager living on the two-sheep island of Yell, in the Shetland Isles – a place as isolated and remote as anywhere on Earth – came to find himself at the heart of a radical global political movement…

…What's surprising, at first, is that he's not unhappy that he was caught, or that he faces the prospect of several years in prison. "People say that prison is bad, but I lived in my bedroom with a computer for years. It's not going to be as bad as that. I just want to go and do my sentence and get my education in there. I want to get a really good education and just read loads of books."…

Anonymous: behind the masks of the cyber-insurgents


Aug 222012

Tom Flanagan's memoirs reveal Conservative tactics.

by Crawford Killian

…As a full-time professor and part-time dabbler in Reform politics, Flanagan clearly saw Reform as a vehicle for Hayekian [Austrian-British right-wing economist Friedrich Hayek] changes. His involvement with the young Stephen Harper was tentative at first, but before long they were close associates. They co-authored an important essay: Our Benign Dictatorship: Can Canada Avoid a Second Century of Liberal Rule?

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Aug 222012

Armed forces heads accept President's authority to depose them.

by Gwynne Dyer

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi's spokesman did not mince words. He said that the "retirement" of all the senior military commanders in the country represented the completion of the Egyptian revolution. And guess what? The rest of the officer corps accepted Morsi's decision.

Even as the spokesman was announcing that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the defence minister, and General Sami Enan, the army chief of staff, were being retired, state television was showing other military officers, Generals Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi and Sidki Sobhi, being sworn in by President Morsi as their successors.

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Aug 222012

Deep cuts to services aren't enough to balance Ryan's tax cuts.

by Paul Krugman

Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate led to a wave of pundit accolades. Now, declared writer after writer, we're going to have a real debate about the nation's fiscal future. This was predictable: never mind the Tea Party, Mr Ryan's true constituency is the commentariat, which years ago decided that he was the Honest, Serious Conservative, whose proposals deserve respect even if you don't like him. But he isn't and they don't. Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr Ryan joined the ticket.

Let's talk about what's actually in the Ryan plan, and let's distinguish in particular between actual, specific policy proposals and unsupported assertions….

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