Monday, January 28, 2008


Here's a parody of the country song "Jesus Take the Wheel". . .

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 10:29 PM   0 comments

Thursday, January 24, 2008

World's largest swimming pool

If you like doing laps in the swimming pool, you might want to stock up on the energy drinks before diving in to this one.

It is more than 1,000 yards long, covers 20 acres, had a 115ft deep end and holds 66 million gallons of water.

Yesterday the Guinness Book of Records named the vast pool beside the sea in Chile as the biggest in the world.

Here are some pictures:

To read and see more about this pool follow this link:

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 12:11 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Orthodox Church and the Crisis in Kenya

The Unfolding Crisis in Kenya

Where there is extreme poverty, riots and turmoil are very quick to rise... and what role is poverty, and the suffering of the people, and their frustration, playing in all of this?
Fr. Martin Ritsi

On this week's Come Receive the Light, Fr. Martin Ritsi of the OCMC will be discussing the emerging crisis in the Orthodox community in Kenya. Also, Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou and Dr. Aristotle Papanikolaou will talk about their upcoming book "Thinking through Faith." Join us for this and much more!
Listen now Real Audio or Listen Now (mp3)!

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 11:58 PM   0 comments

Gang rape spirals in violent Kenya

Today I was listening to the Africa Today podcast from the BBC. I heard the following story:

Gang rape spirals in violent Kenya
By Stephanie Holmes BBC News

Rape is on the rise in Kenya, troubled by violence which followed December's disputed elections.

Every day women turn up at the doors of Nairobi's hospitals and clinics telling the same story.
"I could not run away. They gagged my mouth and pinned me down," one woman remembers.

"After raping me they blindfolded me and led me to a nearby forest. That's where they left me."
Her experience - doctors, officials and the UN say - is echoed by hundreds of other women who have survived a spiralling number of sexual attacks.

Many are gang rapes, carried out by groups of armed men.

Staff in the Nairobi Women's Hospital - one of Kenya's leading centres for the treatment of rape and sexual violence - say they have seen double the number of cases affecting women, teenagers and girls since January.

"Since the beginning of the month, we have had 140 cases of rape and defilement," said Rahab Ngugi, patient services manager at the hospital.

"We were used to seeing an average of about four cases a day, now there is an average of between eight and 10."

Almost half of the cases at the hospital's specialised clinic are girls under the age of 18, Ms Ngugi said. One case was a two-year-old baby girl.

She knows that such a dramatic rise in numbers presenting at the clinic indicates that the reality beyond is far worse.

Tip of iceberg

Only a small percentage of women actually come to receive medical treatment and counselling in the immediate aftermath of a sexual attack, she said. It means they do not get access to the drugs which might prevent the onset of HIV.

It is the tip of the iceberg," Ms Ngugi said. "At any time of unrest, of violence, or rioting, women and children are targeted. It is revenge, it is war. People are fighting and the weakest ones get abused."

Clashes broke out across Kenya in late December after President Mwai Kibaki declared himself the winner of an election disputed by the opposition and labelled as flawed by the international community.

An estimated quarter of a million people have fled their homes to escape the unrest and some 85% of these are women and children.

Women's position of relative weakness in society is emphasised in times of conflict, Kathleen Cravero, Director of the UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery said.

"Battles are fought on women's bodies as much as on battlefields. It is not so much that women are targeted in some deliberate way but their vulnerability makes them easy targets for anger, for frustration, and for people wanting to cripple or paralyse other segments of the community in which they live."

She says there is no evidence as yet that Kenya's high levels of sexual violence are ethnically motivated rather than opportunistic and criminal.

But the doubling of rape cases, she says, is "a very, very strong indicator of a serious problem" adding that the actual numbers are without doubt far higher.


Women often have other concerns that prevent them seeking help after an attack, said Hadley Muchela, a Nairobi-based rape counsellor with NGO Liverpool VCT.

"If there is a woman who probably saw her relatives killed, she might push her own issues of violence to the periphery.

"There will be worries about property and the death of children. Their immediate needs are temporary shelter, safety and food."

He worries that although the gangs are not yet targeting makeshift, unregulated camps and shelters - in schools, churches and community centres - the women and their children sheltering there are increasingly vulnerable.

The UN says that in the capital alone some 12,000 people are living in public buildings after being driven from their homes.

Ms Cravero agrees that these shelters should be the focus of concern.

"Many of the internally displaced are not living in formal camps. They are just gathered around a school or church. Then you have the worst-case scenario - where you don't have that level of law and order and you have people living on top of each other."

The only way to prevent the almost inevitable spike in violence towards women in times of crisis, she said, is for governments to tackle the sense of impunity.

"Before violence breaks out, and during, and after, [governments must] really push the question of impunity, make sure that people know that rape visited upon innocent women and children will be treated for what it is - a crime."

Here is a link to the story: Rape

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 11:38 PM   0 comments

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Love him or hate, him no one can deny that Michael Jackson's album Thriller had a major impact on American culture.

It is hard to believe that it has been 25 years since thriller was released. I was a teenager and bought the album the first week it was released. I was so blown away by the album that I honestly listened to the entire album everyday for 2 years straight!

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 5:18 PM   0 comments


The BBC is reporting:

'Seven dead' in Kenyan protests

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga says police in Nairobi have shot dead seven people on the second day of fresh protests against disputed polls.

BBC correspondents reported Kenyan riot police firing into the air to disperse protesters in several cities.

They said at least two people had been shot in Nairobi's Kibera slum and there were clashes in Kisumu in the west as police tried to clear barricades.

The European Parliament has asked the EU to cut cash to Kenya's government.

On the first day of the protests on Wednesday, at least four people were killed.

The police have banned all public demonstrations.

Kenyan authorities say more than 600 people have died in violence since President Mwai Kibaki was declared the victor in elections held in December.

But Mr Odinga told reporters on Thursday that more than 1,000 people had died.

To read the rest of the report follow this link: Kenya

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:35 AM   0 comments

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Deadly new form of MRSA emerges

A deadly strain of the superbug MRSA which can lead to a flesh-eating form of pneumonia has emerged.

Research suggests it may be more prevalent among the gay community - the gay San Francisco district of Castro appears to have been hardest hit.

So far only two cases of the new form of the USA300 strain of the bug have been recorded in the UK.

It is not usually contracted in hospitals, but in the community - often by casual contact.

The new strain is resistant to treatment by many front-line antibiotics.

To read the entire story follow this link: MRSA

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 12:11 PM   0 comments

Would You Eat Meat From A Cloned Animal?

I have a simple question for the readers today. Would you eat meat or milk that came from a cloned animal?

If you would take the time and simply post a comment with a yes or no and give a reason, I would greatly appreciate it.

I am asking the question because of this story:

FDA says food from cloned animals is safe

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:04 AM   0 comments

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Exhume Bhutto's body is reporting the following:

3:39 MECCA TIME, 0:39 GMT

Musharraf: Exhume Bhutto's body

Pakistan's president has called for the body of Benazir Bhutto to be exhumed to confirm exactly how she died.

Pervez Musharraf's comments come amid growing accusations that the government was complicit in her assassination on December 27; but while he rejected the charges, he stopped short of ordering the exhumation.

Her supporters insist she was shot before a suicide bomber blew himself up, but the government says she died when she hit her head on her car's sun-roof as she waved to supporters after a campaign rally.

"Exhume it, 100 per cent," Musharraf told Newsweek magazine, "I would like it to be exhumed."
However he ruled out using his executive power to order a post-mortem examination without the agreement of Bhutto's family."Everything is not black and white here," he said. "It would have very big political ramifications."

"If I just ordered the body exhumed, it would be careless, unless [Bhutto's] people agreed; but they will not ... because they know it's a fact there is nothing wrong."

However Bhutto's family said it would only agree to an exhumation if Musharraf allows the UN to lead the inquiry into her murder, something he has ruled out. No autopsy was ever carried out.

"There cannot be a UN investigation," Musharraf said. "There are not two or three countries involved. Why should there be a UN investigation? This is ridiculous."

No trust

Benazir Bhutto's son backed the UN investigation, saying he does not trust officials in Pakistan.

"We do not believe that an investigation under the authority of the Pakistani government has the necessary transparency," Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told reporters in London. "Already so much forensic evidence has been destroyed."

The Oxford University student was chosen to succeed his mother as leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), but day-to-day leadership is currently in the hands of his father, Asif Ali Zardari.The party wants an international investiagtion similar to the probe into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Bilawal criticised the US administration's support of Musharraf as a key ally in its "war on terror".

He said: "I believe that the problem is that dictatorships feed extremism, and once the United States stops supporting dictators we can successfully tackle the extremist problem as well."
Bilawal pleaded for privacy as he pursued his studies at Oxford, where he is in his first year.

Musharraf's pledge

Meanwhile, Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, has said his government is committed to finding the truth behind the assassination of Bhutto and vowed to punish her killers.

At the beginning of January, Musharraf asked the UK to assist in the investigation of the murder and a team of British police officers was sent to Islamabad.

Musharraf met the Scotland Yard detectives and said the Pakistan government was committed to "unearthing the evidence, finding out the truth and bringing those responsible for this heinous crime to justice".

The British police said they were thoroughly sifting the evidence to ascertain the facts.
At the same time it was announced that the Pakistani detective who solved the 2002 murder of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, had joined the Bhutto killing inquiry.

A senior Pakistan government official said: "He has joined the investigation and will co-ordinate with the Scotland Yard team."

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 10:40 PM   0 comments

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I want to point everyone to some important world news that I think should be followed.

Kenya crisis talks end in failure

Pakistan suicide blast 'kills 22'

Iran airs video of navy stand-off

US launches massive Iraq air raid

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:05 AM   0 comments

Drug Reverses Symptoms of Alzheimer's


Study: Arthritis Drug Shows Promise in Reversing Symptoms of Alzheimer's

A patient with Alzheimer's disease had their condition improve hugely just minutes after receiving a special injection of a prescription drug approved to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions, according to a new study.

The drug, co-marketed in the U.S. by Amgen and Wyeth under the name Enbrel, dramatically reversed symptoms of an Alzheimer’s disease sufferer minutes after it was injected into the patient's spine, researchers in the U.S. discovered. The drug, sold in Australia as Etanercept, has also been used off-label for treating Alzheimer's.

A report on the new study appeared in the Journal of Neuroinflammation this week.

Click here for the full study

Journal editor Professor Sue Griffin from the University of Arkansas said the study was an “exciting” breakthrough, which provided a greater understanding of the disease. “It is unprecedented that we can see cognitive and behavioral improvement in a patient with established dementia within minutes of therapeutic intervention,” Griffin said.
“This gives all of us in Alzheimer’s research a tremendous new clue about new avenues of research, which is so exciting and so needed in the field of Alzheimer’s.

“Even though this report predominantly discusses a single patient, it is of significant scientific interest because of the potential insight it may give into the processes involved in the brain dysfunction of Alzheimer’s.”

Professor Edward Tobinick from the University of California and Professor Hyman Gross from the University of Southern California made the discovery while treating a patient who developed Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

“The efficacy of (Enbrel) … delivered by perispinal administration, for treatment of Alzheimer's disease over a period of six months has been previously reported in a pilot study,” the researchers said.

“(But) this report details rapid cognitive improvement, beginning within minutes, using this same… treatment modality, in a patient with late-onset Alzheimer's disease.”

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:51 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Man Cuts off Hand & Cooks it In Microwave

What does one hand plus a microwave oven plus a circular saw equal? A very srange news story!

Man Cuts off Hand & Cooks it In Microwave

HAYDEN, Idaho (AP)
-- A man who believed he bore the "mark of the beast" used a circular saw to cut off one hand, then he cooked it in the microwave and called 911, authorities said.
The man, in his mid-20s, was calm when Kootenai County sheriff's deputies arrived Saturday in this northern Idaho town.

He was in protective custody in the mental health unit of Kootenai Medical Center. "It had been somewhat cooked by the time the deputy arrived," sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said.
"He put a tourniquet on his arm before, so he didn't bleed to death. That kind of mental illness is just sad." It was not immediately clear whether the man has a history of mental illness.

Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson would not say whether an attempt was made to reattach the hand, citing patient confidentiality. The Book of Revelation in the New Testament contains a passage in which an angel is quoted as saying: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink the wine of God's fury." The book of Matthew also contains the passage: "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for you whole body to do into hell."
Wolfinger said he didn't know which hand was amputated.

Source Associated Press

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:08 PM   0 comments

New effort to solve Kenya crisis

New effort to solve Kenya crisis Ghana's President John Kufuor has held separate talks with both sides involved in Kenya's election crisis.

Mr Kufuor - who also heads the African Union - met President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Kibaki said at his meeting that his government was operational and would reach out to the opposition.

However there is no sign the two sides will meet for direct talks to resolve the violence, which has seen hundreds of people killed and displaced.

In a BBC interview, the new Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka - who came third behind Mr Odinga in the presidential election - acknowledged there were flaws during last month's election, but said there was no doubt that President Kibaki had won.

The opposition has called Mr Kibaki's announcement of a partial cabinet on Tuesday "a slap in the face".

Protests erupted in the capital Nairobi and in the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu following the announcement.

Some 600 people are feared to have been killed, and 250,000 displaced, by post-election violence in Kenya - previously seen as a beacon of stability in east Africa.

Tensions persist

After meeting the Ghanaian president, Mr Kibaki flew off to the western city of Eldoret, which has suffered some of the worst violence since the crisis began.

A statement by Mr Kibaki's office said he had assured Mr Kufuor he was initiating dialogue.

Kalonzo Musyoka: Vice-president, ODM- Kenya
Uhuru Kenyatta: Local government, Kanu
Moses Wetangula: Foreign affairs, PNU
Kiraitu Murungi, Energy, PNU
Martha Karua , Justice, PNU
George Saitoti: Internal Security, PNU
John Michuki: Road transport, PNU

"Now that peace was returning to these parts, his partially formed government would continue to reach out to Kenyan leaders who would also be encouraged to play their role in preaching peace among their followers," the statement said.

Mr Musyoka emphasised the need for peace and stability.

"What is important is that a government is in place," he said.

"What we want to do right now is to preach national healing and reconciliation."

Mr Kufuor's visit is expected to build on the mediation efforts of the top US diplomat on Africa, Jendayi Frazer, who has spent several days shuttling between the two sides.

Mr Kibaki's announcement of a cabinet appeared to deliver a blow to hopes of dialogue, with Mr Odinga on Tuesday rejecting a government offer of direct talks as "public relations gimmickry" that sought to divert attention from international efforts to broker a solution.

But Mr Kibaki insisted in a statement that there was room for members of the opposition in his new cabinet.

"When my government is fully constituted as a result of dialogue, it will be broad-based and represent the will of the people of Kenya," Mr Kibaki said in a statement, quoted by AFP news agency.

Violence returns

The cabinet announcement triggered protests in Kisumu, where police fired over the heads of hundreds of demonstrators who set up burning road blocks and stoned cars.

One man died, Reuters news agency reported.

In Nairobi, hundreds of opposition supporters came out in protest, some reportedly brandishing machetes. Gunshots were heard for the first time in days, reports said.

A spokesman for Mr Odinga has urged opposition supporters not to take part in demonstrations, saying they could imperil international efforts to find a solution.

Meanwhile, Ms Frazer is to extend her stay in Kenya to continue pushing for a resolution, said state department spokesman Sean McCormack in Washington.

Ms Frazer has been highly critical of events in Kenya - a close US ally - saying earlier in the week that Kenyans had been "cheated by their leadership and their institutions".

Story from BBC NEWS:

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:09 AM   0 comments

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Man-Eaters Visit Nairobi

The follwoing story is from

The best thing that people have going for them in the wild is that they don't taste very good.
That is, except in times of duress, says David Maschal. Maschal takes care of the lions at the Nairobi National Park Animal Orphanage.

"It is only extreme hunger and extreme circumstances that promote man-eating," he says. "Once a lion has done it a few times and realizes it can subsist — then, where [there] are not other options, why not continue?"

Two of the world most famous man-eaters will make their way to Nairobi, from their home at Chicago's Field Museum, in 2010 to illustrate this concept. Although they are now dead and stuffed, the lions are said to have eaten dozens of Indian rail workers and an untold number of African slaves over 100 years ago in Tsavo, Kenya.

The animals struck with impunity, walking straight into the workers' tents and dragging them out for dinner. They are said to have eaten leisurely, leaving men to hear the sound of their friends' bones breaking and their flesh sucked dry. The workers built thorn bush fences around their camp sites, but the lions found ways to get through.

Many theories abound about just what drove the lions to this unusual behavior. Some say it was partly that the railworkers had depleted the animals' natural food supply and partly that these were some very unusual creatures. Some say these type of lions have unusually high levels of testosterone, that they were following the instincts of their mother, or that their teeth weren't strong enough to eat other animals.

"Some research which has been done in Tsavo does suggest that Tsavo lions may have much higher levels of testosterone than lions elsewhere," says Samuel Kasiki, a scientist with the Kenya Wildlife Service who has extensively studied Tsavo lion behavior.

The man-eating lions of Tsavo may have also been in need of a good dentist.
"The reason they were eating people is because they had bad teeth. And if you have a bad tooth you are not able to kill strong and fast moving prey — so human beings happened, probably, to be slower prey, which they preferred," says Kasiki.

Hunting is now illegal in Kenya, but tensions between humans and beasts still run high. An estimated 3,000 lions are in the country, but that number is apparently dropping as humans move deeper and deeper into lion territory.

Perhaps the greater lesson of stories like, "The Man Eating Lions of Tsavo," is that when two or more species compete for the same resources neither comes away unscathed.

To hear an audio report on this story follow this link:

I found a book that tells about this event:

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo and Other East African Adventures (Paperback)by John Henry Patterson (Author)

Editorial Reviews
Book DescriptionPresident Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, "I think that the incident of the Uganda man-eating lions, is the most remarkable account of which we have any record. It is a great pity that it should not be preserved in permanent form." Now this timeless original account by Col. John Henry Patterson has been which was preserved over time is republished in this paperback edition. This is an excellent historical account of the African journey of Col. Patterson and his first-person account of interactions with man-eating lions, natives and other interesting stories.

To find more informaiton about the book and to order it follow this link: Man-Eaters

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 1:22 PM   0 comments

Who should you vote for president in 2008?

Answer 11 questions to find out which candidates are most aligned with your views and opinions. You may skip questions if you do not want them factored into the results. This quiz is not meant to pick your candidate for you. It is designed to inform the public of the various stances candidates make. Results are not scientific
You can take the quiz at this link: Quiz

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 10:31 AM   0 comments

Top violinist to release record for free online

LONDON (AFP) - A top violinist is to release her next record for free on the Internet, in a bid to break down the elitist image of classic music, a report said Tuesday.

Tasmin Little, whose "Naked Violin" record will be available for download from next week, is following a much-discussed online innovation by British band Radiohead last year.

The musician, well known in international classic music circles, said she wanted to open up her work to a new audience which otherwise might not listen to it, The Guardian newspaper reported.

"Classical music, for some reason or another, has this reputation that you need a certain kind of education to listen to it, you need to be a certain colour or live in a certain place and I'm a bit fed up with that," she said.

"I wanted to take away any possible barrier and see if it makes a difference," she told the daily.
Radiohead shook up the music industry in October, when they offered their seventh studio album, "In Rainbows", for download from their website with fans asked to pay whatever they thought the 10 tracks would be worth.

The hit British art-rockers' move followed an iniative by US pop idol Prince, who distributed an album free with a newspaper earlier in the year.

Little's new record, her first recording for four years, will comprise three works: Bach's "Partita No 3 in E Major"; a Polish folk music-inspired piece by British composer Paul Patterson; and "Sonata No 3 'Ballade'" by Belgian violinist and composer Eugene Ysaye.

It will be available for download free of charge on her website at

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:41 AM   0 comments

Monday, January 07, 2008

September Collective

A few days ago I downloaded the latest CD by September Collective from eMusic. It is amazing album that is hard to explain in words what it is like. The is the type of CD that must be listened to with the lights off and a few candles lit and you allow the music to transport you to other places.

Here is a review of the album

Overlooked Albums of 2007

September Collective is a supergroup of sorts; while member Paul Wirkus remains relatively obscure, Barbara Morgenstern and To Rococo Rot's Stefan Schneider have proven plenty successful in the indie/electronic world. That alone makes this album's radar-ducking obscurity curious. Swimming in warm analog glow, this is bath-and-candles music, rich with chest-caressing sub-bass, easygoing piano improvisations and a delicate froth of classical samples. But if the album is pellucid enough for the Body Shop set, it's also rigorous enough to reward the demands of close listening. Wirkus' stuttering sample work creates a complicated rhythmic interplay against Schneider's dub-inspired basslines and Morgenstern's drifting melodies, and even on the most lyrical cuts, brushed percussion and oblique accidentals lend an appealing sense of hesitation. Rich, unexpected, flat-out gorgeous -- you could live inside this record. -- Philip Sherburne

To learn more about the CD check out the following link: September

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 1:12 PM   0 comments


The eMusic Story

eMusic is the world’s largest retailer of independent music and the world’s second-largest digital music retailer overall, offering more than 2 million tracks from more than 13,000 independent labels spanning every genre of music. A subscription-based service that allows consumers to own, not rent their music, eMusic is the largest service to sell tracks in the popular MP3 format—the only digital music format that is compatible with all digital music devices, including the iPod®. eMusic targets and successfully direct-markets to consumers who are interested in music outside the commercial mainstream, dramatically expanding the sale of catalogue typically known as "the long tail." Since Dimensional Associates acquired eMusic in 2003, the company has more than tripled its subscriber base.

The eMusic Experience

eMusic caters to music lovers of all types in the underserved 25-54 demographic. It does so by cultivating a vast catalogue from the world’s top independent labels that spans every conceivable musical genre, by offering unrivaled music discovery tools and by providing tracks in a high bit rate (192K VBR) MP3 format with no DRM. It all adds up to a pro-consumer experience that gives subscribers the ultimate in flexibility, and just as importantly, ample opportunities to discover new, exciting music.

eMusic sells music in the universally compatible MP3 format — the most widely utilized digital music format, used by hundreds of millions of consumers, and the only one that offers all the functions of physical music products such as the CD. The MP3 format allows consumers to play tracks on any device, burn CDs and make as many copies as they like for personal use.

eMusic focuses on selling music beyond the commercial mainstream in every genre, including rock, jazz, comedy, hip-hop, blues, classical, country, folk, children's music, electronic, world, reggae and more. Unlike so much of today's commercial Top 40, independent music is simply about great music. Top independent artists include familiar names such as Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Bob Marley and Creedence Clearwater Revival, established rule-breakers such as the Pixies, Lucinda Williams and Black Flag, and breaking new artists like Neko Case, the New Pornographers and Ying Yang Twins.

eMusic has deep relationships with the world's most innovative independent record labels, enabling it to offer cutting-edge music to its subscribers on or before its release date. eMusic's label roster includes top sellers like Concord Music Group, Koch, Naxos and Beggars Group, and other well-known independents such as Touch and Go, Merge, Sun Records, Cooking Vinyl, Fantasy, Bloodshot, Blood and Fire, TVT, Nettwerk, Vice, Thrill Jockey, Fat Possum, Razor & Tie, Six Degrees, SST, Smithsonian Folkways, Stones Throw and more.

To help consumers navigate this wide-ranging catalogue, eMusic provides award-winning editorial created by a staff of more than 120 of the best music journalists and experts in the country, led by eMusic editor-in-chief Michael Azerrad, the acclaimed music journalist and best-selling author. The web site includes the Review of the Day, regular columns in every genre and the popular eMusic Dozen, which is a brief overview of a genre, era, place or artist, followed by concise, insightful reviews of the 12 best eMusic albums fitting the topic.

Other discovery tools include the eMusic Toolbar, which offers members a free MP3 download every day, and puts Internet search and quick search of eMusic's vast music catalogue at members' fingertips. "Neighbors," "Friends" and "Playlists" features allow members to share their discoveries with each other, and eMusic provides powerful technology that analyzes members’ download histories and ratings to suggest playlists and personalized recommendations of new arrivals. Members can further customize their eMusic experience by developing their own PowerCharts™ and subscribing to genre-specific newsletters.

eMusic is a subscription-based service, allowing members to download tracks for substantially less than they would pay with other download services. Various pricing plans allow customers to pay as little as 27¢ per track, encouraging them to sample new artists and as a result, purchase more music — eMusic customers typically buy more than 20 tracks per month, while iTunes users average only 1 – 2 tracks per month.

I am a subscriber to eMusic and I have downloaded a lot of music from them. If you are interested in eMusic let me know and I can get you 50 free downloads. I will need your name and your e-mail and that is it. You can e-mail me your information at

My next post will be on the last CD I downloaded from eMusic.

Here is the link to eMusic: Music

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 12:59 PM   0 comments

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The spectator sport China DOESN'T want you to see

The following was reported in the Daily Mail

The smiling children giggled as they patted the young goat on its head and tickled it behind the ears.
Some of the more boisterous ones tried to clamber onto the animal's back but were soon shaken off with a quick wiggle of its bottom.
It could have been a happy scene from a family zoo anywhere in the world but for what happened next.

A man hoisted up the goat and nonchalantly threw it over a wall into a pit full of hungry lions. The poor goat tried to run for its life, but it didn't stand a chance. The lions quickly surrounded it and started tearing at its flesh.
"Oohs" and "aahs" filled the air as the children watched the goat being ripped limb from limb. Some started to clap silently with a look of wonder in their eyes.
The scenes witnessed at Badaltearing Safari Park in China are rapidly becoming a normal day out for many Chinese families.

Here a few pictures of the event:

Children feed goats before the 'show' starts. One that has been 'bought' by a visitor is carried off

Once the goat is carried from its pen, it is swiftly thrown into the lion enclosure

Here are are a few of my comments about the story:
Why do some people find amusement in the watching of animals suffer or in the killing of an animal?

Why do some people wake up at 5:00 am, take a gun and go and kill an animal for sport?

What possible enjoyment can be gained by taking an animal's life? Yes, I know you do it for food. But I always find it ironic how people who claim they only do it for food talk about their hunting trips like someone who had a lot of fun.

The Daily Mail article went on to report:

Baying crowds now gather in zoos across the country to watch animals being torn to pieces by lions and tigers.
Just an hour's drive from the main Olympic attractions in Beijing, Badaling is in many ways a typical Chinese zoo.
Next to the main slaughter arena is a restaurant where families can dine on braised dog while watching cows and goats being disembowelled by lions.
The zoo also encourages visitors to "fish" for lions using live chickens as bait. For just £2, giggling visitors tie terrified chickens onto bamboo rods and dangle them in front of the lions, just as a cat owner might tease their pet with a toy.

The ravenous big cats quickly attack the goat and start to tear it limb from limb, all in the name of 'entertainment' for the Badaling zoo visitors

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 7:20 PM   0 comments

U.S. may boost covert actions inside Pakistan

The New York Times is reporting that President Bush's senior national-security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the CIA and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

I think this is an interesting development that should be followed.

Here is the link to the New York Times article: Pakistan

While the New York Times is reporting that the U.S wants to expand covert operations the
is reporting:

Pakistan rejects US media report on covert tribal area operation

Islamabad : Pakistan on Sunday rejected American media report that President Bush's senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The New York Times reported on Sunday the debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government.

Pakistan military spokesman Maj General Waheed Arshad said that Pakistani security forces are capable of maintaining peace in the country.

The spokesman described as baseless the report that the US is debating new strategy for Pakistan, according to a private TV channel.

The NYT reported that Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of President Bush's top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

There was also talk of how to handle the period from now to the February 18 elections, and the aftermath of those elections.

Several of the participants in the meeting argued that the threat to the government of President Pervez Musharraf was now so grave that both Musharraf and Pakistan's new military leadership were likely to give the United States more latitude, officials said.

But no decisions were made, said the officials, who declined to speak for attribution because of the highly delicate nature of the discussions.

Many of the specific options under discussion are unclear and highly classified. Officials said that the options would probably involve the CIA working with the military's Special Operations forces.

The Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said he is not aware of any meeting mentioned by the New York Times.

Sadiq said that writers some times based their stories on speculations, with unnamed sources. He added that every speculative story does not need reaction.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 7:01 PM   0 comments

Saturday, January 05, 2008


I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

-- Emily Bronte

Each night we lay down in our beds and as we slip into the world of sleep we are awakened when we arrive in the world of dreams. But why do we dream?

Psychology Today has the following story:

Dreams: Night School

A hundred years after Freud, one man may have figured out why we dream. You'll never think the same way about nightmares again.

What happens when a rat stops dreaming? In 2004, researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison decided to find out. Their method was simple, if a bit devilish.

Step 1: Strand a rat in a tub of water. In the center of this tiny sea, allot the creature its own little desert island in the form of an inverted flowerpot. The rat can swim around as much as it pleases, but come nightfall, if it wants any sleep, it has to clamber up and stretch itself across the flowerpot, its belly sagging over the drainage hole.
In this uncomfortable position, the rat is able to rest and eventually fall asleep. But as soon as the animal hits REM sleep, the muscular paralysis that accompanies this stage of vivid dreaming causes its body to slacken. The rat slips through the hole and gets dunked in the water. The surprised rat is then free to crawl back onto the pot, lick the drops off its paws, and go back to sleep—but it won't get any REM sleep.

Step 2: After several mostly dreamless nights, the creature is subjected to a virtual decathlon of physical ordeals designed to test its survival behaviors. Every rat is born with a set of instinctive reactions to threatening situations. These behaviors don't have to be learned; they're natural defenses—useful responses accrued over millennia of rat society.

The dream-deprived rats flubbed each of the tasks. When plopped down in a wide-open field, they did not scurry to the safety of a more sheltered area; instead, they recklessly wandered around exposed areas. When shocked, they paused briefly and then went about their business, rather than freezing in their tracks the way normal rats do. When confronted with a foreign object in their burrow, they did not bury it; instead, they groomed themselves. Had the animals been out in the wild, they would have made easy prey.

The surprise came during Step 3. Each rat was given amphetamines and tested again; nothing changed. If failure to be an effective rat were due to mere sleep deprivation, amphetamines would have reversed the effect. But that didn't happen. These rats weren't floundering because they were sleepy. Something else was going on—but what?

To read the rest of this fascinating report follow this link: dreams

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 11:25 PM   0 comments

Kenya on the brink of humanitarian disaster

A humanitarian crisis is building in Kenya in the aftermath of the violence that followed the country's elections. Aid agencies said the humanitarian crisis was getting worse, with at least 250,000 people displaced and more than 500,000 in need of emergency assistance. Kenyans, used to taking in refugees from other regional conflicts, are on the move themselves, with thousands fleeing into neighbouring Uganda.

To read the entire report follow this link: Kenya

SURVIVOR: A man hacked by machetes recovers at a hospital near Eldoret, in Rift Valley, where 100,000 people face starvation.

NAIROBI, KENYA -- Up to 100,000 people face starvation in western Kenya because of election-related tribal violence, the World Food Program warned Friday, as rivals in last week's disputed presidential vote showed no willingness to talk.

To read the rest of the story follow this link: Starvation

Kenya faces a health crisis within days if political violence in the country continues, a UK charity has warned.
"People are being forced to drink unsafe water, risking diarrhoeal diseases, infection and severe dehydration.
"The longer the crisis continues, the greater the risk to people's health. If peace isn't restored within the next few days, disease and severe dehydration are very real threats."

To read the rest of the story follow this link: Health

The scenes in one of the Kenyan refugee camps

Travellers' accounts

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 7:31 PM   0 comments


Cold case
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cold case refers to a crime or accident that has not been solved and is not the subject of current criminal investigation, but for which new information could plausibly arise. New technical methods developed since the case can be used on the surviving evidence to re-analyse the causes, often with conclusive results.

Cold Case also refers to a popular T.V. show:

Cold Case is an American police procedural television series revolving around a fictional Philadelphia Police Department division that specializes in investigating cold cases. The series first aired in September 2003 on CBS. Its fifth season began on September 23, 2007.

I have a real life cold case that has been reopened. It is a fascinating story:

On a cold November night 36 years ago, in the driving wind and rain, somewhere between southern Washington state and just north of Portland, Oregon, a man calling himself Dan Cooper parachuted out of a plane he’d just hijacked clutching a bag filled with $200,000 in stolen cash.

Who was Cooper? Did he survive the jump? And what happened to the loot, only a small part of which has ever surfaced?

It’s a mystery, frankly. We’ve run down thousands of leads and considered all sorts of scenarios. And amateur sleuths have put forward plenty of their own theories. Yet the case remains unsolved.

Sketches of the 1971 hijacking suspect known as Dan "D.B." Cooper. The FBI is asking the public to help solve the case. Federal Bureau of Investigation

Yesterday NPR reported the following:

The FBI launches a new effort to crack a case from 1971, when hijacker D.B. Cooper parachuted from a Seattle-bound plane, after extorting $200,000. An FBI agent, who was only 4 when Cooper jumped, hopes new DNA evidence and tips from the public will track down the mystery man.

The FBI is asking amateur detectives to help write the final chapter of a 36-year-old mystery.
Last month, the agency reopened the case of the airline hijacker known as Dan "D.B." Cooper, who bailed out of a Northwest Orient airplane with $200,000 in extortion money in 1971.
Cooper vanished after the jump, and his true identity has never been discovered. Now, the FBI is releasing sketches of the legendary hijacker, a map of the area where he could have landed and a handful of photos from the case. They've also unveiled a Web site dedicated to solving the crime.

I told you this was an interesting story!

If you have some time on your hand and you would like to solve this mystery here are links to information that could help:

FBI Reopens Very Cold Case of D.B. Cooper

Jan. 2, 2008
Hijacker Missing for 37 Years

Aug. 19, 2000
D.B. Cooper: A Death-Bed Confession?

FBI Web Site on D.B. Cooper

I found an interesting detail in this story. The Wikepedia entry has been vandalized:

This is what the entry reads:

Editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled until January 10, 2008 (UTC) due to vandalism.If you cannot edit this article and you wish to make a change, you can discuss changes on the talk page, request unprotection, log in, or create an account.

To read the entry yourself here is the link:
D. B. Cooper - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here is a link to a story in which a Florida widow believes she has found him:
D.B. Cooper - Mysteries of History - U.S. News Online

If you do find Mr. Cooper remember to share the reward with me since I did all the research for you!

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:43 AM   1 comments

Friday, January 04, 2008


Two large orange-coloured zones indicate where the worst of Kenya's rural post-election violence has occurred in a new UN map created by focusing civilian satellite cameras onto some of the country’s clash-hit areas and revealing the number of fires burning.

full report

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:12 PM   0 comments

Kenya's humanitarian crisis grows

The news from Kenya has been quiet but I just found the following report that once again is not good news.

Source: BBC
Kenya's humanitarian crisis grows

At least 180,000 people have been displaced by unrest as the humanitarian crisis grows after last week's disputed election in Kenya, say UN officials.

Some have been housed in makeshift camps while others have sought refuge in police stations or churches, fleeing violence that has claimed 350 lives.

In badly-affected western Kenya nearly all the refugees are hungry, and several children have died of exposure.

A top UN official in Nairobi says about 500,000 Kenyans need urgent help.

The UN World Food Programme said it was scrambling to bring food to 100,000 displaced people in the Rift Valley area.

'High hatred levels'
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is set to distribute the food, issued an international appeal for aid.

The level of hatred is very high. Violence of tribal origin is the worst - it knows no limits and is extremely difficult to quell," said Alexandre Liebeskind, deputy head of ICRC operations for the Horn of Africa.

Opposition protests appeared to falter on Friday while the government said it might accept a fresh election, but only if it was ordered by a court.

The officially-declared results of the 27 December presidential poll - giving victory to incumbent President Mwai Kibaki over opposition rival Raila Odinga - unleashed a wave of violence.

Protesters furious at alleged electoral fraud, went on the rampage, killing scores of people and torching churches, businesses and homes.

A statement by a group of independent UN rights experts on Friday said: "We are profoundly alarmed by the reports of incitement to racial hatred and the growing frictions between the different ethnic groups in Kenya."

The BBC's Karen Allen in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret says the Catholic Church is now spearheading a co-ordinated relief effort to get blankets, tents and food to around 30,000 local people who have been made homeless.


The secretary-general of Mr Odinga's opposition ODM party called on Friday for fresh polls within three months and said the current electoral commission should not be involved.

"The current crisis is not caused by the Kenyan people - it is caused by Kibaki and his henchmen, who messed up the result after the Kenyan people had voted," Anyang Nyongo told the BBC.

A Kenyan government spokesman, Alfred Mutua, said Mr Kibaki was not in principle opposed to fresh elections but said the opposition's three-month deadline smacked of "blackmail".

"We would accept even another election, as long as the constitution is followed," he told Reuters news agency.

The opposition had earlier dismissed the prospect of taking its complaints to the courts.


The BBC's Grant Ferrett in Nairobi says both government and opposition are now trying to show more flexibility.

After a meeting with Mr Kibaki, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the president seemed prepared to consider a national unity government.

"The president was not averse to the idea of coalitions - but clearly there has to be an acceptance that there is a governing authority," Mr Tutu was quoted as saying by Reuters.

In other developments:

Top US diplomat Jendayi Frazer arrived in Kenya for talks aimed at bringing the two sides together

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he believed the Kenyan elections had been rigged

In Nairobi on Friday, the security forces appeared to have succeeded for a second day in blocking a planned opposition rally from happening. They sealed off Uhuru (Freedom) Park, the venue for the proposed protests.

Thousands of police were deployed around the city, though fewer than on Thursday, when tear gas and water cannon were deployed against protesters.

And with traffic back on the streets, some shops and businesses have re-opened, as the city attempts to return to something like a normal life.

While the recent trigger for the troubles was the election, Kenyan politics has been dogged by ethnic tensions since independence in 1963.

Mr Kibaki depends heavily on support from the largest ethnic group, the Kikuyus, while the western Luo and Kalenjin groups - who are seeking greater autonomy - back Mr Odinga.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 3:02 PM   0 comments

Placebo use common

One of the most fascinating things in medicine is how someone can think they are taking medicine and in many cases get better when in reality they were not taking any medicine at all, in fact they were taking what is called a placebo!

A placebo is:
When referring to medicines, placebo is a preparation which is pharmacologically inert but which may have a therapeutical effect based solely on the power of suggestion. It may be administered in any of the ways in which pharmaceutical products are administered.[3]

To simplify this let me put it this way. A placebo is a pill that has no medicine! Yet someone taking it is made to believe that it is medicine.

Placebo use common, doctors say in U.S. survey

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Placebos are a surprisingly common prescription, according to a U.S. study in which nearly half of the doctors surveyed said they had doled out a dummy pill at some point.

Researchers at the University of Chicago said on Thursday the study raises ethical questions and suggests a need for greater recognition and understanding of placebo use.

"It illustrates that doctors believe expectation and belief have therapeutic potential," said Rachel Sherman, a medical student at the University of Chicago, whose study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The idea behind placebos is that when patients think they are getting an effective treatment, they sometimes feel better, even though the pill has no proven benefit.

They are often used in clinical trials to compare the benefits of drugs, and many times patients taking placebos show some improvement. But few studies have shown how doctors use placebos in routine practice.

Sherman and Dr. John Hickner, a family medicine professor at the University of Chicago, sent surveys to 466 internists at three Chicago-area academic medical centers. About half, or 231, responded.

Of those, 45 percent said they had used a placebo during their clinical practice, a number that surprised the researchers. But 12 percent of those surveyed said placebos should never be used.

"I think this shows that it strikes a chord among physicians. We may underestimate the body's natural healing potential," Sherman said in a telephone interview. "This shows that doctors may think that, too."

But Sherman said the practice brings up ethical issues, including whether a doctor has an obligation to provide patients with informed consent.

Of respondents who reported using a placebo in clinical practice, 34 percent said they told the patients the substance was something that "may help and will not hurt."

About a third gave other information to patients including, "this may help you but I am not sure how it works."

Nineteen percent said it was a "medication," and 9 percent called it "a medicine with no specific effect." Only 4 percent of the doctors said, "it is a placebo."

Part of the reason doctors are not forthcoming about giving a placebo is that in order for it to work, patients need to believe it can help, Sherman said.

One way around this dilemma is to ask all new patients for their consent in advance. "The patient could say no. Then you avoid any of these ethical questions," Sherman said.

Could this be a way to lessen the cost of health care? Simply give people cheap pills that have no medicine and watch them get better! Yes, that is a joke but I do find the story very interesting.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:23 AM   0 comments

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My 30-Day Crash Course In Presidential Politics

I know the Iowa Caucus is tonight! The only thing the new channels are covering today is the Iowa Caucus. If I never hear the word caucus again I will be perfectly happy. However since this is the topic of the hour I have to post something of a political nature. So I found an interesting article written by someone who worked 30 days for the Mike Huckabee campaign. It is an interesting read that let's you see behind the scenes.

Here is the link to the article: 30 days

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 3:16 PM   0 comments

CJD: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

The BBC is reporting A mysterious case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) has raised fears more people than thought could be at risk.

Before we look at the entire story let's answer the question of, What is Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease?

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative, invariably fatal brain disorder. Typically, onset of symptoms occurs at about age 60. There are three major categories of CJD: sporadic CJD, hereditary CJD, and acquired CJD. There is currently no single diagnostic test for CJD. The first concern is to rule out treatable forms of dementia such as encephalitis or chronic meningitis. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of CJD is by brain biopsy or autopsy. In a brain biopsy, a neurosurgeon removes a small piece of tissue from the patient's brain so that it can be examined by a neurologist. Because a correct diagnosis of CJD does not help the patient, a brain biopsy is discouraged unless it is need to rule out a treatable disorder. While CJD can be transmitted to other people, the risk of this happening is extremely small.

Is there any treatment?

There is no treatment that can cure or control CJD. Current treatment is aimed at alleviating symptoms and making the patient as comfortable as possible. Opiate drugs can help relieve pain, and the drugs clonazepam and sodium valproate may help relieve involuntary muscle jerks.

What is the prognosis?

About 90 percent of patients die within 1 year. In the early stages of disease, patients may have failing memory, behavioral changes, lack of coordination and visual disturbances. As the illness progresses, mental deterioration becomes pronounced and involuntary movements, blindness, weakness of extremities, and coma may occur.

What research is being done?

The leading scientific theory at this time maintains that CJD is caused by a type of protein called a prion. The harmless and the infectious forms of the prion protein are nearly identical, but the infectious form takes a different folded shape than the normal protein. Researchers are examining whether the transmissible agent is, in fact, a prion and trying to discover factors that influence prion infectivity and how the disorder damages the brain. Using rodent models of the disease and brain tissue from autopsies, they are also trying to identify factors that influence the susceptibility to the disease and that govern when in life the disease appears.

For more information about the disease check out the following links:

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -

MedlinePlus: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

WHO Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Now that you know what the disease is let'e look at the news story from the BBC:

CJD death 'is no cause for panic'

A mysterious case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) has raised fears more people than thought could be at risk.

New Scientist magazine reports the genetic make-up of a 40-year-old woman who may have died from variant CJD was different from all previous patients.

But the University College London study's lead researcher said it was too early to say for sure.

And a government advisor on CJD said many cases needed to emerge to confirm a new wave and people should not panic.

There's certainly no need to panic Professor Chris Higgins Chair, SEAC
CJD is a fatal brain condition, with dozens of cases every year.

However, the BSE crisis in cattle in the 1980s and 1990s coincided with the emergence of a new form of the disease, variant CJD.

It is thought that this new form - which has so far been confirmed in only a relatively small number of humans - may have been linked to eating meat infected with BSE, although the human illness often did not emerge until years later.

After a slaughtering programme removed infected cattle from the food chain, deaths from variant CJD were thought to have peaked in the first half of this decade, falling steadily since 2003.

However, the latest find opens a small possibility that the "incubation period" for some people may be longer, and that there could be a second upsurge in deaths to come.

Gene link

Every person who has died from variant CJD before this point has one thing in common - they carry a gene variant called MM.

About four in 10 people have this variant, and some experts believed it was possible that in humans, only these people may ever have been vulnerable to variant CJD.

The latest death is the first recorded involving a different variant - VV - found in approximately one in 10 Britons.

Lead researcher Dr Simon Mead, from the Prion Unit at University College London, whose work was originally published in the journal Archives of Neurology, said that at the moment it was too early to say whether this signalled the beginning of a rise in cases among other VV carriers exposed to BSE-infected meat.

He said: "We can't say for sure whether this is actually variant CJD, or simply a case of "sporadic" CJD in a younger-than-expected patient - it does not have all the features of either.
"It could be a new type of variant CJD affecting VV people, but we would need to see a lot more cases than at present to confirm this.

"What we are doing at the moment is asking people to stay alert and look out for other cases."

Evidence lacking

Professor Chris Higgins, the Chair of the government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), which advises on variant CJD, played down fears that cases could rise again.
He said: "There's certainly no need to panic. This could simply be a case of sporadic CJD, in which case the genetic makeup is irrelevant, as this is found in MM and VV people.

"At the moment there isn't enough evidence to conclude one way or the other.
"We know that it is possible to infect VV mice with variant CJD, but it is actually much harder than infecting MM mice, so even if there were to be a rise, it would not a big rise."

To date there have been 114 deaths from variant CJD in the UK, with another 47 deaths thought likely to be due to the disease.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 12:24 PM   1 comments

Global impact of bird flu

The following is from the BBC

Bird flu continues to hold much of the globe in its lethal grip, with more than 60 countries affected.

Millions of birds have died or been destroyed as a result of outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain as far apart as northern Europe and the Far East.

The number of cases among humans is also rising since the strain emerged in South-East Asia in 2003 before spreading to Europe and Africa.

By the end of 2007 a total of 14 countries had suffered human cases, with Burma and Pakistan added to the list in the last few weeks of the year.

Although the number of new human cases fell in 2007 to its lowest number for three years, the mortality rate continued to rise, topping 60% by the end of the year.

The 300th human case was confirmed in the spring and the 200th death occurred in September 2007.

In June 2007 Indonesia became the first country to have 100 confirmed cases of H5N1 among humans.

I have compiled a list of important links dealing with the Bird Flu:

View the spread of bird flu on an interactive map

Breakdown of confirmed human cases



French swans have deadly bird flu

Man dies of bird flu in Vietnam

WHO chief issues bird flu warning

Clues to pandemic bird flu found

Bird flu: Still a threat?

Q&A: Bird flu

Quick Guide: Bird flu

WHO Avian influenza (" bird flu") - Fact sheet

First Case of Human Infection With H5N1 Flu Virus Confirmed in Pakistan News Release>>

Eight Suspected Human Cases of H5N1 Flu Virus in Peshawar Area of Pakistan News Release>>

Myanmar Confirms First Human Infection With H5N1 Flu Virus News Release>>

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:38 AM   0 comments

KENYA: Rape on the rise in post-election violence

More disturbing news from Kenya:

NAIROBI, 2 January 2008 (IRIN) - Amid the violence that engulfed several residential areas of the Kenyan capital following the declaration of controversial results of the presidential elections, women in particular have been targetted, with at least one hospital reporting a rise in the number of rape victims seeking treatment. The Nairobi Women's Hospital said it had on 31 December received 19 rape cases, almost double the daily average.

You can read the entire report at this link: Kenya

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:29 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Revisiting the strange days of 2007

I came across a great story at

Revisiting the strange days of 2007

Salem News

News can be disturbing, heartwarming or sad, but some days it's just plain weird.

Following are some of our favorite oddball stories of 2007, in no particular order.

Most bizarre crime

In maybe the most bizarre crime of the year, a self-proclaimed high priestess and her housemate were arrested in August after allegedly leaving the beheaded and mutilated remains of two raccoons in the doorways of two downtown psychic shops in Salem.
The arrests of Sharon Graham and Frederick Purtz highlighted growing tension within the city's witch and psychic community. The bloody remains were left in front of Angelica of the Angels on Central Street and The Goddess' Treasure Chest on Essex Street. Both owners had taken public stands on the need to regulate fortunetellers and psychic fairs. Days later, the city issued a health alert over concerns that the raccoons may have been rabid.A few days after the arrests, one of the lead witnesses in the case returned home to find his apartment ransacked and a number of valuables, including his crystal ball, stolen. The witness, Richard Watson, said he believed it was retaliation for going to the police.The case is still winding its way through the courts.

Best secret revealed

Beverly's biggest political scandal in years originated in a 3-inch-long computer device.In June, Ward 3 City Councilor John Burke inadvertently left his flash drive in City Hall. Turns out the little piece of hardware contained a big bombshell - a letter that Burke had written, anonymously, to himself and his fellow councilors, accusing the Police Department of treating politically connected people with leniency and urging them to vote against police chief nominee Mark Ray.The discovery of the letter led to two dramatic nights of hearings in packed council chambers as councilors, stung by the deception, demanded Burke's resignation. Burke refused - then easily won re-election in November. Ray was unanimously endorsed by the council as the new police chief - including by Burke, who said he changed his mind.

Cutest animal story

Beating the odds when it comes to rescuing wild animals, Melissa Dolan successfully hatched two mallard duck eggs that were left in a nest when their mother was killed by a hawk. Once they opened their eyes, however, the vulnerable ducklings imprinted her into their minds and assumed she was there to raise them.
Lacking the ability to lead them to water and teach them to fly, Dolan decided the responsible thing to do would be to let them go in a secluded pond and hope one of the other duck families living there would adopt them. But when she returned later that night, they were still in the same place and began chirping wildly at the sound of her voice. She scooped them up and found a veterinary clinic in Pepperell that placed them with other orphaned ducks, and they grew up forgetting about the kindness of humans. In early fall, Dr. Michaela Krafve released them into the wild, and they began their journey south for the winter. Their chances of survival are very good, she said.

Most fortuitous rescue

Hamilton Patrolman Brian Shaw happened to be at the right place at the right time when he spotted a woman trying to climb her way out of the half-frozen pond at Patton Park in March. Susan Gribbell of Wenham was walking two West Highland terriers in the park when the dogs fell through the ice in the pond. Gribbell went to save them but soon found herself in trouble as her winter coat, hat and boots weighed her down and the ice broke around her.Shaw happened to be driving by the park at just that moment, saw the dogs running around "not acting normal" and decided to check it out. Gribbell was too weak to grab onto the rope he threw her, so he called for backup, slipped into a cold-water rescue suit and had the other officers pull them both to safety. Gribbell had been trapped in the water for about 20 minutes. Had she stayed in much longer, she would have died, police said. Instead, she recovered from hypothermia at Beverly Hospital in about 30 minutes, and Shaw became the man of the hour.

Dirtiest deed (done dirt cheap)

Rock 'n' roll may not be noise pollution, but it was enough to land a Salem man in jail after police said they found him rocking out - naked - to an AC/DC song next to an open window in his apartment in August.A nude Brian DeYoung of Washington Street was allegedly dancing around his apartment to the driving guitars of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long."A concerned neighbor told police they could see him dancing through an open window. He would have gotten away with just a warning, according to police, except for one problem - he was wanted on outstanding drug and motor vehicle charges.
With that, DeYoung was arrested, transported and booked without incident - after he put on some clothes. His case has since been turned over to Boston police, where the warrants originated.

Most surreal government meeting

This was the year of the paranormal City Council. Over several meetings that lasted hours, Salem city councilors clad in business suits shared the floor with self-proclaimed psychics and soothsayers dressed in black robes with pentacles dangling from their necks.Together, the two groups developed a set of guidelines to license dozens of the city's psychics - a process that produced plenty of unusual moments, even by City Council standards. At one point, the official witch of Salem even declared that the city's lack of regulations had created a psychic "free-for-all.""Anyone who says they're psychic can come into the city," Laurie Cabot said at one meeting. "We don't even know where they come from. We don't know their qualifications."That left many councilors scratching their heads, trying to find a way to weed out "real" psychics from fraudulent fortunetellers. "What are the criteria?" asked a baffled Councilor-at-large Joan Lovely. "Is there schooling?"

Most unusual public expenses

Gov. Deval Patrick started the year by spending $10,000 on damask drapes for his Statehouse office. A few months later, the Salem Retirement Board furnished its own office condo with nearly $5,000 worth of window blinds. The off-white Kirsch, textured-vinyl vertical blinds from Stacey's Home Decor of Danvers now hang in five rooms of the board's Central Street office.On the other end of the spectrum, someone on the Essex County Retirement Board needed fast cash during a trip to Las Vegas for a conference. So the member tapped a nearby ATM, got the money - and expensed the $3 transaction fee to taxpayers.Another member wanted reimbursement for a copy of the Chicago Tribune, bought during an out-of-state conference for a whopping 50 cents.

Best news leak

Peabody's Ed Nizwantowski wanted his coaching job back something bad.So the former coach and current School Committee member tried to cut a secret deal to get reinstated.E-mails circulated at a March 20 closed-door session of the School Committee - and were then leaked to The Salem News - revealed that Coach Niz had offered to drop his long-standing age discrimination suit in exchange for his return to the gridiron.
The e-mails generated a flurry of responses - outrage over the leak and calls to track down the culprit with a lie detector.Mayor Michael Bonfanti, the School Committee chairman, compared the newspaper's receipt of the documents to accepting stolen property. Then City Solicitor Daniel Kulak called on the Essex County District Attorney's Office and the state Ethics Commission to investigate.In the end, neither the district attorney nor the Ethics Commission took up the case.Nizwantowski, who had been elected to the School Committee in 2006, never responded to requests for comment. But his attorney, William Sheehan III, promptly filed a civil lawsuit in Salem Superior Court just days after the e-mails went public.The School Committee later released their votes and minutes of the secret session. They had turned down Nizwantowski's proposal.

Dirtiest political trick

Larry Craig wasn't the only politician arrested this year after an unfortunate bathroom incident.Ken Sawicki, a candidate for Salem City Council, spent two weeks of the campaign behind bars this fall for allegedly locking a man inside a portable toilet and knocking it over in an attempt to collect a $28 debt.Police said Sawicki confronted the man over the missing money at Riley Plaza one morning in October. The man said he needed a moment to use the bathroom and stepped inside the portable toilet. Sawicki then allegedly locked the man inside with a padlock and began rocking it back and forth. As a crowd began to gather, Sawicki allegedly tipped the whole thing over.He was arrested and spent two weeks in jail, but his campaign went on as the 54-year-old resorted to tactics that seemed to resemble, well, bathroom humor.Days before Election Day, Sawicki was seen on a Route 114 traffic island sitting on a toilet - a real one - that he had dragged across the street. At one point, he even held a fishing rod and dropped a hook into the toilet basin. A sign on the back read what most had already concluded: "My campaign is in the toilet."But Sawicki may have had the last laugh.He finished dead last in a seven-way race, but actually beat candidate James Willis in a few precincts. And 712 voters - 11 percent of voters - cast at least one of their votes for the alleged toilet-tipper.

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KENYA: A ‘national disaster’

Information about what is happening in Kenya is still coming out. A new report from IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN, does not look good.

They are reporting that:

Kenya is in the throes of a humanitarian “national disaster” amid post-election violence that has left scores dead, tens of thousands displaced beyond reach of immediate assistance and many more destined to be dependent on aid for several months to come, according to the Red Cross.

Here is the entire report:

NAIROBI, 1 January 2008 (IRIN) -

Kenya is in the throes of a humanitarian “national disaster” amid post-election violence that has left scores dead, tens of thousands displaced beyond reach of immediate assistance and many more destined to be dependent on aid for several months to come, according to the Red Cross.

“The country has been riddled with insecurity over the last few days and there are many areas we cannot access,” Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet told reporters in Nairobi on 1 January after conducting an assessment by helicopter to western parts of the country.

Video footage shot during this mission showed smoke billowing from homes and farms, crowds of displaced civilians seeking sanctuary in churches and police stations, and usually busy main arteries empty of traffic and dotted with roadblocks manned by gangs.

"Worst-case scenario"

Gullet said his organisation’s 48 branches had put in place contingency plans for the elections but that “no-one imagined the worst-case scenario we seem to be having now.”

In one of the most brutal episodes of violence since the incumbent Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the December 27 poll - amid cries of fraud by the opposition and international concern about the vote tallying process – at least 30 people who had sought sanctuary in a church in the western town of Eldoret died after a mob set the building ablaze, according to reports from the BBC and AFP, among other news outlets.

AFP, which estimated the overall number of dead in the wake of the polls at 300, quoted one senior police official as saying the events around Eldoret and nearby areas “looked very much like ethnic cleansing.”

Around the area of Burnt Forest in Rift Valley Province, according to Gullet, some 20,000 to 30,000 people, predominantly from Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group, were holed up in church and police premises.

An official government statement carried by local media estimated that there are 73,500 displaced people countrywide.

Most of the displaced have no access to food, water, health services or shelter, he said.
Families flee to eastern Uganda

The main road heading west from Eldoret leads to Uganda. A Ugandan immigrationofficial at the Malaba border post told IRIN that dozens of families, mostly Kikuyus, had entered Uganda on 31 December and 1 January.

The official said she thought many others had left Kenya crossing unmanned points of the unfenced and porous frontier. Another source at Malaba said he had seen only one car crossing from Uganda to Kenya on 1 January.

Members of Uganda’s parliament from constituencies in the border area have appealed to the government in Kampala to send aid to the region to meet the needs of any further refugees.

Fuel in Uganda arrives through Kenya and many petrol stations in Kampala had run dry while prices in other parts of the country had doubled.

Vigilantes and no-go areas

Of those still in Kenya, “a few hundred thousand will need [humanitarian] assistance for some time… many people who were food sufficient are becoming food dependent,” said Gullet.

Between Burnt Forest and Eldoret, 30km away, “around 30 checkpoints have been set up by vigilantes,” he said.

“If you are not of the right ethnic group, it’s no go,” explained the Red Cross official.

“People are being targeted and it is known which ethnic group is being targeted,” said Gullet.

When asked to clarify, he said in the areas he visited, “it’s largely the Kikuyu ethnic group that’s being targeted.”

Gullet said that in some parts of the country even Red Cross workers, clearly identifiable as such by the emblem on their jackets, had also been challenged to declare their ethnicity.

The Red Cross video showed hundreds of people at Eldoret airport, which lies 20km from the town itself, who had been there “for the last few days, surrounded by 3,000 people from one ethnic group,” he added.

During the brief assessment flight, Gullet estimated he saw “hundreds” of homes and farms on fire.

“The people need assistance, but we cannot access them by road and we cannot airlift because the only viable aircraft are helicopters and they can only carry two tonnes,” he said, adding that the road blocks had led fuel supplies to run out in many towns.

Visiting Moi University Hospital in Eldoret, the Red Cross team saw many patients with gunshot wounds and others who had been injured by arrows. Several doctors who live in the town were unable to reach the hospital because of fears for their safety.

“The hospital is overwhelmed with the number of casualties. They have set up tents outside to shelter the less serious cases,” said Gullet.

Plea to leaders

He went on to issue a plea to Kenya’s political leaders to provide security to ensure humanitarian access and to lift stringent restrictions imposed on the news media just after Kibaki’s victory was declared on 30 December.

He also called on presidential candidate Raila Odinga, the opposition leader from the Luo ethnic group who insists he was cheated of election victory, “to speak out to the masses and say that this senseless killing is unacceptable.”

Prices of basic food have shot up in some areas and The Red Cross has been distributing food to people displaced from some of Nairobi's slums thanks in part to donations from citizens responding to the agency's public appeal.

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