Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dear Maxy,
I work in an office with five other women . Our customers are primarily men . The problem is , all the other assistants dress provocatively , flirt and laugh loudly at our customers' lewd jokes . I am not like that , but every time I greet a customer with a smile , the girls say , "You must be in a good mood today," giving the impression that I'm otherwise a real witch .
Co-workers within earshot snort and laugh . This really rankles me , because I am always in a good mood . I just don't fawn over the guys like the other women do .
This is happening more and more , and I am tired of it .
Is there something I can say that will shut them up for good ?
Just about had it
Dear Had it ,
The co-workers tease you because they are guaranteed a flustered reaction . The best way to put a stop to it would be to laugh off these comments . That would not only defuse your anger , but also minimize their enjoyment .
Dear Maxy ,
One of my best friends is gay , but our other friend still uses the word "gay" to describe the things she think is stupid . She says our friend doesn't mind , but I think he does ... he would just never admit it . Should I act on my instinct and tell her she needs to stop , or should I just let it go ?
Keeping It PC
Dear Keeping It PC,
By all means speak up . Words are powerful , and how we use them is important . Being insensitive to the use of a word like "gay" is actually what is stupid. Talk to your friend about her choice of words and make it clear that you find her speech offensive . This is true regardless of whether she is in the company of your friend or not. By the way , it's important to acknowledge that wherever you are and no matter the company , using language like that is unwise because it continues a narrative of insensitivity that is unkind .
Your gay friend may or may not mind . But that isn 't the point . What's key here is for your friend to recognize that words have the ability to empower or hurt . Choosing empowerment is the way to go .
Dear Maxy ,
I made a silly and potentially costly mistake . I received an email from a friend suggesting that I look into a way to earn money from home . The link looked like a site from a television station , with articles and testimonials from a variety of people who said they earned money in this way . I found it intriguing . I did try to reach my friend to see if he had tried it , But I didn't hear back from him . (Later , he said his email was hacked .)
I got lured into the promise of earning extra money and signed up for it . Of course it required a small fee , which I paid . And then nothing > i didn't ever get to the place where I would earn money .
Now I;m worried that my credit card may be compromised . What can I do ?
Dear Hoodwinked ,
Usually , If something seems too good to be true , it is . Contact your credit card company and tell them that you believe the charge was fraudulent . Explain what happened and ask if they can stop payment and / or place an alert that the company you paid practices fraud . Credit card companies have departments set up to help customers with such things , so there's a good chance you will be reimbursed .
Dear Maxy ,
My parents recently met my boyfriend . They liked him well enough but thought he was too quiet . They mistook his quietness as lack of personality , even though I tried to explain that he is shy and nervous about making a good impression .
How can I get them to see what I see in him ?
Dear Misunderstood,
Time is the friend you need to embrace right now . Your parents may have misinterpreted your boyfriend's quietness primarily because they don't have enough information to figure out what they think about him . But what they want most is for you to be safe and happy .
Tell your parents that your boyfriend is shy , and describe what you like about him in detail . Ask them to give him a chance and allow time for him to share more of himself with them .
Schedule activities so your boyfriend can get to know your parents and vice versa . After a while , your boyfriend will relax , especially if your parents decide they want to get to know him .

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Roman Shipwrecks Found Nearly a Mile Deep

Two Roman era shipwrecks have been found in deep water off a western Greek island, challenging the conventional theory that ancient shipmasters stuck to coastal routes rather than risking the open sea, an official said Tuesday.  Greece's culture ministry said the two third-century wrecks were discovered earlier this month during a survey of an area where a Greek-Italian gas pipeline is to be sunk. They lay between 1.2 and 1.4 kilometers (0.7-0.9 miles) deep in the sea between Corfu and Italy.
That would place them among the deepest known ancient wrecks in the Mediterranean, apart from remains found in 1999 of an older vessel some 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) deep off Cyprus.
Angeliki Simossi, head of Greece's underwater antiquities department, said sunken ancient ships are generally found 30-40 meters (100-130 feet) deep.

Most scholars believe that ancient traders were unwilling to veer far offshore, unlike warships that were unburdened by ballast and cargo.
"There are many Roman shipwrecks, but these are in deep waters. They were not sailing close to the coast," Simossi said. "The conventional theory was that, as these were small vessels up to 25 meters (80 feet) long, they did not have the capacity to navigate far from the coast, so that if there was a wreck they would be close enough to the coast to save the crew."
Archaeologist Brendan Foley, who was not involved in the project, said a series of ancient wrecks located far from land over the past 15 years has forced experts to reconsider the coast-hugging theory. "The Ministry of Culture's latest discoveries are crucial hard data showing the actual patterns of ancient seafaring and commerce," said Foley, a deep-water archaeology expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Jeffrey Royal, director of Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation, said that in many cases — as when winds threatened to push ships onto rocks — ancient mariners made a conscious effort to avoid coastal waters. Royal, whose foundation has carried out a series of Mediterranean underwater projects, said the depth of such finds is immaterial from an archaeological standpoint.
"In antiquity, ships didn't sail around with depth finders and keep track of how deep they were," he said. "It was more how far they were on the surface in relation to land. After 30 meters of depth the boat's safe, so if it's 30 meters (100 feet) or 3,000 meters it's a little irrelevant."
The remains were located during an investigation that covered 200 square kilometers (77 square miles) of seabed off the islands of Corfu and Paxoi.
A Greek oceanographic vessel using side-scan radar and robot submarines took footage of scattered cargo — storage jars, or amphorae, used to carry foodstuffs and wine — cooking utensils for the crew, anchors, ballast stones and what could be remains of the wooden ships.The team also raised samples of pottery and a marble vase.The one ship was carrying the kind of amphorae produced in north Africa, and Simossi said it might have sailed from there and headed for Greece after a stop in Italy.
Foley said deep wrecks are very important because they are almost always more intact than those found in shallow water. "They contain far more archaeological and historical information than other sites," he said in an email. "As a result, the deep sea floor of the Mediterranean is the world's greatest repository for information about the earliest civilizations."

The discovery comes amid Greece's acute financial crisis, which has also taken a toll on funding for archaeology. Simossi said her department, which monitors a vast area rich in ancient wrecks and sunken settlements, had its staff reduced by half because of non-renewed contracts and retirees who were not replaced.
"There were 89 of us, and there are 45 left," she said. "We are fighting tooth and claw to keep afloat."

Obama's 'Kill List' Revealed: -Who Will Live and Who Will Die

President Obama has insisted on personally approving a 'kill list' of Al Qaeda terrorists who should be hunted down and executed, according to report.

The U.S. president requests that his advisers draw up 'baseball cards' with pictures and biographies that he pores over to see who should live and who should die.

As part of the bizarre ‘nomination’ process he then retires for personal reflection to work out whether or not to order a drone strike to take them out.

In the Oval Office: President Obama is pictured with Thomas E. Donilon, left, the national security adviser, and John O. Brennan, his top counterterrorism adviser in this March 2011 photo
In the Oval Office: President Obama is pictured with Thomas E. Donilon, left, the national security adviser, and John O. Brennan, his top counterterrorism adviser in this March 2011 photo

Attack: It's reportedly up to Obama to work out whether or not to order a drone strike to take out the terror targets
Attack: It's reportedly up to Obama to work out whether or not to order a drone strike to take out the terror targets

No president in history has taken such a singular role in deciding such matters.
The disclosures jar with Mr Obama’s past as a liberal law professor and show how his approach to terrorism has become significantly tougher since taking office.
The baseball cards also have a striking echo with the deck of 52 playing cards issued by the Bush era White House in Iraq for members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Mr Obama had already come under fire for ordering the killing last September of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen living in Yemen who was suspected of having links to the 9/11 plot.

Opposition: Obama had come under fire for ordering the killing last year of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen living in Yemen who was suspected of having links to the 9/11 plot
Opposition: Obama had come under fire for ordering the killing last year of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen living in Yemen who was suspected of having links to the 9/11 plot

Commentators said that it set a worrying precedent that the president could single-handedly decide to be 'judge, jury, and executioner' over an American.

According to reports in the New York Times however he has been making such decisions about non U.S. citizens on his own far more often than had been thought.

Sources describe how every week more than 100 members of the national security team gather to decide who should be put forward as a potential target for a drone strike.

Overseen by the Pentagon, Obama is shown PowerPoint slide and a book of mugshots and biographies of suspects that look like a high school yearbook.

In one instance they included several Americans and a girl who was just 17 years old, but looked far younger.

Obama also chairs meetings in the White House Situation Room with two dozen of his most senior security advisers before making the final decision all on his own.

The process however has not been without complications and the president has often asked how to be sure a target is a serious threat.

Recounting one such discussion William Daley, Obama's chief of staff in 2011, said: 'One guy gets knocked off, and the guy's driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?

'At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?'

He added that Obama 'realizes this isn’t science, this is judgments made from, most of the time, human intelligence.'

Rogues gallery: Overseen by the Pentagon, Obama is shown PowerPoint slide and a book of mugshots and biographies of suspects that look like a high school yearbook
Rogues gallery: Overseen by the Pentagon, Obama is shown PowerPoint slide and a book of mugshots and biographies of suspects that look like a high school yearbook

He said: 'The president accepts as a fact that a certain amount of screw-ups are going to happen, and to him, that calls for a more judicious process.'

Mr Obama’s national security adviser Thomas Donilon added that the president was 'determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go.'

He said: 'His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.
'He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.'

Mr Obama's record on human rights has caused even his most committed supporters to do a double take.

Campaigners have attacked him for refusing to close Guantanamo Bay despite promising to do so in his 2008 run for the presidency.

And when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2009, he had authorized more drone strikes than George W. Bush had approved during his entire presidency, author Daniel Klaidman writes.

Tense: The moment President Obama and his team watched the mission to find and kill Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011
Tense: The moment President Obama and his team watched the mission to find and kill Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011

In his new book Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency, which has been extracted on the Daily Beast, he tells how Obama 'had come a long way in a short time' after assuming office.

He writes: 'Schooled as a constitutional lawyer, he had had to adjust quickly to the hardest part of the job: deciding whom to kill, when to kill them, and when it makes sense to put Americans in harm’s way.

'His instincts tilted toward justice and protecting the innocent, but he also knew that war is a messy business no matter how carefully it is conducted.

'He saw the drones as a particularly useful tool in a global conflict, but he was also mindful of the possibility of blowback.

'In this overheated election season, Obama’s campaign is painting a portrait of a steely commander who pursues the enemy without flinching.

'But the truth is more complex, and in many ways, more reassuring. The president is not a robotic killing machine.'

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuna Off California Coast... Radioactive Contamination From Fukushima

Pacific Bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California have been found to have radioactive contamination from last year's Fukushima nuclear accident.  The fish would have picked up the pollution while swimming in Japanese waters, before then moving to the far side of the ocean.

Scientists stress that the fish are still perfectly safe to eat. However, the case does illustrate how migratory species can carry pollution over vast distances, they say.
"It's a lesson to us in how interconnected eco-regions can be, even when they may be separated by thousands of miles," Nicholas Fisher, a professor of marine sciences at Stony Brook University, New York, stated.

They examined the muscle tissues of 15 Bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) taken from waters off San Diego in August 2011, just a few months after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
These were animals whose parents would have spawned in Japanese waters and spent one to two years locally before heading to feeding grounds in the eastern Pacific.

Professor Nicholas Fisher was 'stunned' to find the radioactive signal in bluefin tuna. All the fish examined in the study showed elevated levels of radioactive caesium - the isotopes 134 and 137.

Caesium-137 is present in seawater anyway as a result of the fallout from atomic weapons testing, but the short, two-year half-life of caesium-134 means the contamination can be tied directly to Fukushima. There is no other explanation for the isotope's presence.

The measured concentrations were about 10 times the total caesium radioactivity seen in tuna specimens taken from before the accident. As a control, the team also examined Yellowfin tuna, which are largely residential in the eastern Pacific. These animals showed no difference in their pre- or post-Fukushima concentrations.

The research is likely to get attention because Bluefin tuna is an iconic species and a highly valuable fishery - thousands of tonnes are landed annually. But consumers should have no health concerns about eating California-caught tuna from last year, the team says.

Migration map

The levels of radioactivity are well within permitted limits, and below those from other radioisotopes that occur naturally in the environment, such as potassium-40.
"The potassium was about 30 times higher than the combined radio-caesium levels. If you calculate how much additional radioactivity there is in the Pacific Bluefin tuna caught in California relative to the natural background - it's about 3%," said Prof Fisher.

Tuna caught in the coming months will be subjected to new tests. These animals would have spent much longer in Japanese waters and so conceivably could have a very different pollution load.
The team also believes the investigation should be extended to other migratory species that frequent Japanese waters.

Brave Saudi Woman Confronts Religious Police

A brave Saudi woman confronted members of the country's religious police after they accused of breaking strict modesty rules with her freshly painted nails.
The woman, who has not been identified, refuses their demands that she leave the mall where she is shopping and tells them that her nails are 'none of [their] business'.
After she filmed the incident on her mobile phone and it was posted it to YouTube, her row with the members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) has gone viral.
It has ignited a debate in Saudi Arabia over the way that members of the commission should deal with people in public places.
The video shows several men in traditional Saudi dress, who have apparently stopped the woman to chastise her for the immodesty of her freshly manicured nails.
One of the men orders the woman to leave the mall, but she refuses and the pair become embroiled in a heated argument in the middle of the mall's concourse.
'The government didn't send you to follow me,' she yells at the men. 'The government said there would be no persecution [of women]
'Your job is to advise people and move on. You have no right to harass anyone.'
Known as the mutaween, or religious police, members of the CPVPV are granted power to enforce Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia by the order of King Abdullah himself.
They are known for their callous brutality and strict interpretation of Islamic law. In 2002 mutaween reportedly stopped girls from escaping their burning school because they were 'not properly covered'.
They locked the doors of the school from the outside and attacked firefighters to stop them from entering the building to rescue the girls.
Fourteen of the youngsters died of burns or smoke asphyxiation. Since then the powers of the mutaween have been curtailed but they still have a powerful hold over Saudi society.
Perhaps fearing she would come to a similar sticky end, the woman who took them to task in the recent film sought the help of the mall's security guards.
'I don't trust them,' she told the guards, according to the Saudi Gazette. 'They may hit me with their car.'

'You are not responsible for me and have no right to ask me why I have manicured nails!'

The security guards try to allay her fears and tell her to listen to the commission member, who they say is a good man, the Gazette reported.
Nevertheless, she tells them: 'I will publish this video on Twitter and Facebook so the Hai’a Chief Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh may see your behavior.
'You are not responsible for me and have no right to ask me why I have manicured nails!'
The woman's actions have incited a mini-revolution in Saudi Arabia, with many comments on YouTube in support of her stance.
An official investigation has been opened into the incident, the Gazette reported.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Propofol : Now Used to Kill People ..On Purpose "OMG"

Dr. Conrad Murray may have been ahead of his time ... because the drug that killed Michael Jackson will now be used to put people to death in Missouri .

The Missouri Department of Corrections has announced it has opted to ditch the previous 3-drug cocktail method for lethal injections ... and replace it with one giant helping of Propofol . Missouri will be the first state to use Propofol for the purpose of executing someone EVER .

So far , it's unclear when Missouri will begin using Propofol to kill people ... but there are 19 condemned men who could go on the chopping block in the very near future .
Stay tuned ... updates as they become available .

Climate Talks Stall With Nations 'Wasting Time'


Oil rigs on US coast
The latest round of UN climate talks has made little progress, observers say. The meeting in Bonn, Germany saw angry exchanges between rich nations, fast-industrializing ones and those prone to climate impacts. Campaigners spoke of a "coalition of the unwilling" including the US, China, India and several Gulf states. Developing countries are also concerned about the lack of firm pledges on finance beyond the end of this year.

This was the first negotiating meeting since last December's ministerial summit in Durban, South Africa. The key outcome there was an agreement to begin talks leading to a new global deal involving all nations. The "Durban Platform", as it is known, will see the agreement tied up by 2015 and coming into force by 2020.

Opening the Bonn session, UN climate convention (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres told negotiators that progress depended on ambition - "ambition to support developing countries, ambition to mobilize finance and... ambition to decisively and tangibly reduce emissions according to what science demands".
By the end, several observers including Tove Maria Ryding of Greenpeace International concluded that ambition had been largely absent.
"It's absurd to watch governments sit and point fingers and fight like little kids while the scientists explain about the terrifying impacts of climate change," she said.

While UN climate talks used to be characterized as a simple "rich versus poor" battle, the politics have become much more tangled in recent years. At the Durban meeting, dozens of the world's poorest and most climate-vulnerable nations teamed up with the EU to press for a new global deal with legal character - which eventually found form in the Durban Platform.

The main opponents of the move included developing countries such as India and China, as well as rich ones such as the US.  This split within the developing world bloc led to a spat in Bonn that more than one experienced observer described as "unprecedented". China's delegate Su Wei asked veteran Surinamese diplomat Robert van Lierop to step down as interim chair of the working group on the Durban Platform (ADP), alleging a possible conflict of interest. Conventionally, chairs of all sessions are supposed to behave impartially - and questioning their capacity to do so is highly undiplomatic.
Mr Wei was backed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait. But Barbadian Selwin Hart described the move as "unprecedented and alarming... we have crossed a very unfortunate line".

They fear this will help developed countries make the case that fast-industrializing nations such as China should face emissions cuts before too long. In turn, China points to the repeated failure of rich countries to cut their emissions as far as mainstream science indicates they should - particularly those such as the US, Japan, Russia and Canada that have opted not to take further emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol.

"Both sides are right," said Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"The US and Japan and Russia aren't taking their responsibilities seriously; yet the developed countries are right in that you can't rebuild the firewall and pretend that the future for China is the same as the future for Bangladesh."

Three years ago, developed countries pledged that by 2020 they would be providing $100bn per year for poor nations, to help them "green" their economies and prepare for impacts of climate change.
For the period 2009-12, they are provided $10bn per year in "fast-start finance". But that agreement comes to an end in December, and no developed nation has yet indicated what happens afterwards.

"No progress was made to deliver the financial support that the world's poorest and most vulnerable need to deal with the growing impacts of climate change," said Celine Charveriat, Oxfam advocacy and campaigns director. "It is now vital that, at the next UN climate summit in Qatar in November, rich countries commit to an initial $10-15bn... between 2013 and 2015."

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard complained that the meeting had discussed process rather than substance. "This week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported that global emissions have reached their highest ever level," she said.
"At the same time, in Bonn, some of the world's largest emitters have wasted too much energy in trying to move backwards rather than in securing progress".
"This is not just irresponsible; it is untenable for a UNFCCC process that wants to remain relevant."

While the coalition between the EU and its developing country allies appears to have held, the climate-vulnerable nations are not happy about the EU's repeated failure to pledge tighter emission cuts. It appears that Poland is the only EU nation holding things up - and there are indications that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will wield her country's considerable diplomatic muscle at the EU Council meeting next month.

We are trying to save the planet folks and time is wasting, emissions are higher and things are still heating up. Can we please act like grownups and get our priorities straight??

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,

My 10-year-old daughter constantly asks me to buy things for her . I have always been generous , but she's getting out of control . She wants to go shopping every weekend . She sees something she wants and frets if I don't buy it . I don't want her to become so greedy . How can I curb this behavior ?
Worried Mom
Dear Worried Mom .
This is what is called a teachable moment . While you may get attitude from your daughter for awhile , the solution is actually quite simple . Stop buying her stuff every week or every time she asks . If she whines , so what ?
Explain that you love her and are happy to purchase things for her sometimes but that she should scale back her shopping expectations . Establish times when you will shop for her ; for a special event , for holidays and birthday gifts , for accasional treats .
Give her a weekly allowance . Have her save part of it , and give her permission to spend part of it on herself . This will teach her how quickly money goes if you don't hold onto it .

Dear Maxy,
Invitations already have gone out for a graduation party for my granddaughter . She lives across country , and it will cost me $500 to travel there . I do not have a lot of money , but I promised I would give her $500 when she received her diploma .
There is now a good chance she won't pass one required subject and will have to go to summer school . I indicated that if she does not achieve her goals by the first of June , I will not go through the expense of coming to the party . I will , however give her the promised gift once she gets her diploma .
I'm sure my absence will raise questions and possibly cause resentment from her parents . Do you think I should go through the travel expense and attend the party ?
Dear Grandmother ,
If you consider the party to be a celebration of her diploma , rather than the four years she spent completing high school , you should not go . The parents will likely tell those who question your absence that it was too great an expense or inconvenience . However , if you would feel bad and later question your decision , you may as well attend . Consider the party an "early" graduation celebration , since your generous gift will undoubtedly provide an incentive for her to finish .

Dear Maxy ,
I am a high school teacher , but I look young enough to be a student . I think that because of this , lots of students treat me like I am their friend , not their teacher .
I like to think I am a progressive teacher , and I love my students and want them to feel comfortable with me .But I also want them to respect me and remember that there are boundaries between us as students and teachers that are not the same as between friends . How do I tell my students this ?
Looking Young
Dear Looking Young ,
\It is possible for you to have a congenial relationship with your students that remains professional . Regarding your appearance , you may want to change your style of dress . Instead of wearing casual clothing (if you do) , wear professional attire . That will make you look more mature and will say to the students that you mean business . I advocate for all teachers to dress professionally no matter what their age , because it shows students to respect you and the boundaries you have created . That means acknowledging them when they behave appropriately and making them suffer consequences when they don't . Let them know what boundaries are and how they should talk to you and one another . Over time , if you enforce your rules , they will follow .

Human Trafficking in Mexico

Trafficked: Sex slaves seduced and sold

Every year thousands of women, children and even young men are forced into prostitution and traded from Mexico to the United States.  The sex trafficking business makes some men very wealthy at the expense of children and  vulnerable young women.

Mexico has become the top provider of sex slaves to the Americas, according to the United Nations.
In an effort to tackle the problem, the Mexican government has now signed onto the UN's Blue Heart campaign, but so far it has had little success in prosecuting and convicting human traffickers.

One reason, according to some analysts, is confusion over which government agencies have jurisdiction over human trafficking cases.

Traffickers' town

Tenancingo is a Mexican town built on sex trafficking - with little alternative employment, it's become the only way to make money. Young women from across Mexico are duped into becoming sex slaves by wealthy men living in grand homes, offering them work or even marriage. Needing money for their families, the women discover too late they're being sold into prostitution, often in the US. One Mexican charity estimates there are 1,000 traffickers in Tenancingo, out of a total population of 10,000.

Sold for sex

"Maria" was 17-years-old when she was lured to Mexico with promises of a new life. Instead she was forced into prostitution and sold from one bar to another. For those women trafficked in Mexico, the capital, Mexico City, is a central hub. From there, many are smuggled to the US, or exploited in border towns and tourist resorts. The Mexican Congress has plans to crack down on trafficking; those accused will be jailed during trial and victims guaranteed anonymity. Corruption among Mexican officials at state level has hampered prosecutions in the past.

'Brothels on wheels'

Many trafficking victims are taken to New York, where they often work gruelling shifts of 10 hours or more. Some women live and work in a brothel, only leaving the building when their pimp moves them to a new location. Other women are advertised on "chica cards", distributed in the street. Customers call the number on the card and women are delivered by car to a customer's house or hotel room. The women live in fear, frequently assaulted by their pimps and customers.

Trafficking figures in Mexico
  • 100,000 Latin Americans trafficked across borders per year
  • 47 New prosecutions in Mexico City in 2010
  • 4 Trafficking offenders convicted
  • 4-17 years Length of sentences
'John School'

The US has a federal anti-trafficking law and New York state has its own tough penalties. Though strong laws are in place, the problem is enforcing them. Women who co-operate in trafficking investigations can receive special visas allowing them to work legally. But convicting pimps is still difficult as many of their victims are too terrified to give evidence against them.

Reducing the demand for prostitution is seen as one key to ending sex trafficking. In Brooklyn, New York, the district attorney's office runs a controversial programme to treat men convicted of using prostitutes. Called "John School" the men are taught that the women they are soliciting may be the victims of a sex trafficking operation

Skin Cells Turned Into Healthy Heart Muscle Cells

Heart Muscle  

Scientist say they have managed to turn patients' own skin cells into healthy heart muscle in the lab.
Ultimately they hope this stem cell therapy could be used to treat heart failure patients. As the transplanted cells are from the individual patient this could avoid the problem of tissue rejection, they told the European Heart Journal.

Early tests in animals proved promising but the experimental treatment is still years from being used in people.  Experts have increasingly been using stem cells to treat a variety of heart problems and other conditions like diabetes, Parkinsons disease or Alzheimer's. Stem cells are important because they have the ability to become different cell types, and scientists are working on developing ways to get them to repair or regenerate damaged organs or tissues.
 Heart failure means the heart is not pumping blood around the body as well as it used to. Researchers are looking at ways of fixing the damaged heart muscle.

In the latest study, the team in Israel took skin cells from two men with heart failure and mixed the cells up with a cocktail of genes and chemicals in the lab to create the stem cell treatment. The cells that they created were identical to healthy heart muscle cells. When these beating cells were transplanted into a rat, they started to make connections with the surrounding heart tissue.

Lead researcher Professor Lior Gepstein, said: "What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it's possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young - the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when just born."

The researchers say more work is needed before they can begin trials in humans.

Egyptians Vote in Landmark Presidential Election

Egyptians are heading to the polls in their first free presidential election, 15 months after ousting Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising. Fifty million people are eligible to vote, and queues are forming at some polling stations. The military council which assumed presidential power in February 2011 has promised a fair vote and civilian rule.

The election pits Islamists against secularists, and revolutionaries against Mubarak-era ministers.

The frontrunners are:
    Ahmed Shafiq, a former commander of the air force and briefly prime minister during February 2011 protests
    Amr Moussa, who has served as foreign minister and head of the Arab League

    Mohammed Mursi, who heads Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

    Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, an independent Islamist candidate
Until a new constitution is approved it is unclear what powers the president will have, prompting fears of friction with the military. Mr Mursi was originally the party's reserve candidate, but he was thrust into the limelight after its first choice, Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified by the Higher Presidential Electoral Commission (HPEC) over an unresolved conviction. The Brotherhood have nevertheless likened Mr Mursi, a US-educated engineer and MP, to an underrated football substitute.
"In any match there is the reserve who plays in the last 10 minutes, scores the goal and wins the match. Mursi is our reserve player," said cleric Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud while addressing a crowd of Brotherhood supporters on Sunday.

A run-off vote is scheduled for 16 and 17 June if there is no outright winner. There is also a potential clash waiting to happen with the military, which seems determined to retain its position as the power behind the president's chair. And the electorate does not know what powers the new president will have to do his job, as they are still waiting for them to be spelled out in a new constitution, our correspondent adds.

The election is being hailed as a landmark for Egyptians, who have the opportunity to choose their leader for the first time in the country's 5,000-year recorded history. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), worried about potential post-election unrest, has sought to reassure Egyptians that it will be the voters themselves to decide the next president.
"It is important that we all accept the election results, which will reflect the free choice of the Egyptian people, bearing in mind that Egypt's democratic process is taking its first step and we all must contribute to its success," it said in a statement on Monday. The 15 months since Mr Mubarak was forced from power has been turbulent, with continued violent protests and a deteriorating economy.

Egypt - and its next president - face huge challenges. He'll have to find a way to make people feel safe again. Egypt needs a reformed police service to deal with the rash of crime that followed the collapse of the old regime's brutal and corrupt force. The economy cannot satisfy the needs of a growing and young population. And there is the problem with the interim military government. The army wants to remain in a position of power and perhaps manipulate a puppet president. Also, the four men generally regarded as the front-runners are all either Islamists or former ministers who served in the old regime.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Goodbye Robin

R.I.P. Robin Gibb
Robin Requested this song be played at  his funeral.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ancient Methane Being Released in Artic Melt

Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere. The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts. Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change.

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability. There are many sources of the gas around the world, some natural and some man-made, such as landfill waste disposal sites and farm animals. Tracking methane to these various sources is not easy. But the researchers on the new Arctic project, led by Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF), were able to identify long-stored gas by the ratio of different isotopes of carbon in the methane molecules.

Using aerial and ground-based surveys, the team identified about 150,000 methane seeps in Alaska and Greenland in lakes along the margins of ice cover. Local sampling showed that some of these are releasing the ancient methane, perhaps from natural gas or coal deposits underneath the lakes, whereas others are emitting much younger gas, presumably formed through decay of plant material in the lakes.

"We observed most of these cryosphere-cap seeps in lakes along the boundaries of permafrost thaw and in moraines and fjords of retreating glaciers," they write, emphasizing the point that warming in the Arctic is releasing this long-stored carbon.
"If this relationship holds true for other regions where sedimentary basins are at present capped by permafrost, glaciers and ice sheets, such as northern West Siberia, rich in natural gas and partially underlaid by thin permafrost predicted to degrade substantially by 2100, a very strong increase in methane carbon cycling will result, with potential implications for climate warming feedbacks."

Graph of methane levels

 Quantifying methane release across the Arctic is an active area of research, with several countries despatching missions to monitor sites on land and sea. The region stores vast quantities of the gas in different places - in and under permafrost on land, on and under the sea bed, and - as evidenced by the latest research - in geological reservoirs.
"The Arctic is the fastest warming region on the planet, and has many methane sources that will increase as the temperature rises," commented Prof Euan Nisbet from Royal Holloway, University of London, who is also involved in Arctic methane research. "This is yet another serious concern: the warming will feed the warming."

Friday, May 18, 2012

200 Year Old wreck Found in Gulf

Sea explorers have discovered a shipwreck that could have sunk up to 200 years ago in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Experts with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the 19th-century wooden-hulled vessel was first flagged as a potential shipwreck site after an oil-and-gas survey for Shell Oil last year.Jack Irion, a maritime archeologist with the Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), said the ship's age was estimated with the discovery of a ceramic plate, popular between 1800 and 1830; glass bottles, some with the contents still sealed inside; cannons; and a stove.
"A rare ship's stove on the site is one of only a handful of surviving examples in the world and the second one found on a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico," Irion said.
Scientists travelled to the site, about 320 km off the coast of Louisiana, aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. A team of experts from the NOAA and BOEM used underwater robots with lights and high-definition cameras to explore the copper-lined ship — submerged under more than 1,200 m of water.
The discovery is one of four ships found on a recent 56-day expedition in the region in March and April, but experts said this ship is the most "interesting and historic."
"Shipwrecks help to fill in some of the unwritten pages of history," said Frank Cantelas, a maritime archeologist with NOAA's office of ocean exploration and research.
“This discovery was part of a larger mission to look at unknown or poorly-known areas in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Cantelas.
According to NOAA, “the 56-day expedition that ended April 29 was exploring poorly known regions of the Gulf, mapping and imaging unknown or little-known features and habitats, developing and testing a method to measure the rate that gas rises from naturally-occurring seeps on the seafloor, and investigating potential shipwreck sites.”
Using sonar technology, researchers had a first look last fall at the shipwreck.
According to Cantelas, Shell Oil Company was conducting an oil and gas survey required by the government to be sure none of its projects are disturbing anything sensitive in the ocean.
“The site is in over 4,000 feet of water and we knew nothing about it — we just had a fuzzy image from a sonar recording, which is like a camera but uses sound instead of light,” Cantelas said. “But we wanted to see what it was because it was shaped like it could be a shipwreck.”
So NOAA partnered with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which issues permits for bottom-disturbing activities related to oil and gas exploration, to find the 200-year-old shipwreck.

The ship used telepresence technology to transmit what was happening on the ship live.
“Telepresence provides the ability to bring a lot of different specialists, who have various expertise, to the table during the dive,” said Fred Gorell, public affairs officer for NOAA’s office of Exploration and Research. “They could actually look at the wreck sites while it was happening. And this way research is not limited by the number of people who are actually on the ship.”
“Artifacts in and around the wreck and the hull’s copper sheathing may date the vessel to the early to mid-19th century,” said Jack Irion in a NOAA statement.
“Archaeologically, this is a very significant find,” Cantelas said. “It appears to date back to the early 1800s and a lot was going on in the Gulf of Mexico around that time. You have the Louisiana Purchase, the Texas Revolution, the Mexican-American War — a lot of conflict in that region…So this research will hopefully help us fill in the blank pages of history. It will provide information hat we don’t really have about the history of the Gulf region.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My husband and I have been married for eight years , and we have two beautiful children . Recently , an ex-boyfriend called to let me know that his father had died . I hadn't heard from him in 12 years.
"Matt" and I began speaking regularly and even spent some time together . My husband knew all of this and was OK with it . One night , however , things went further than they should have , and we kissed several times . I don't know whether I should confess this to my husband or not . Other than getting it off my chest , what good would it do ?
The kissing isn't going to happen again . Do I follow the "honesty is always the best policy" philosophy ?
A Confused Wife

Dear Confused ,
You have betrayed your husband and should stop all contact with Matt immediately . You are playing with fire , risking your marriage and family for the thrill of feeling young and desired again . It's time to grow up and end this nonsense .

Dear Maxy,
I live in an exotic location , even though it's simple where I'm from and where I live . I went to school in the U.S. , and many of my friends from school like to come and visit me . When they come , they expect me to host them for their entire vacation . It's almost like they think my home is their hotel .
Don't get me wrong , I want to see my friends , but I am not a travel agent or a bed-and-breakfast . I can't really afford to host them the way they expect , and I also have to work . What should I say to them ?
Not A Hotel

Dear Not A Hotel,
It's time to speak plainly to your friends . Tell them how much you love them and appreicate them coming to visit , but state plainly that you are not a hotel . Tell them you hope they will continue to visit but that you need them to understand your parameters . Then lay them out .
Establish a length for visits . Describe how you hope the meals will go ... with everyone pitching in so that you don't become the sole cook or provider of meals . Talk about what you have to do while they are in town , especially if you have to work . Remind them that they are coming for vacation , but this is where you live and work . Be clear with them . You may find out that some of them may choose to stay in a hotel and visit with you rather than crashing at your place the whole time , especially if you make it clear that they cannot have free run of your house and refrigerator and time .

Dear Maxy ,
I had a misunderstanding with my next-door neighbor , who has been a dear friend for many years . I hosted an event for my colleagues at my home and did not invite her . She throught I was having a party for friends and got her feelings hurt .
When I reached out to her to talk the next day , I learned she was upset . I was really surprised , because as much as we like each other , neither of us invites the other to every event we have .
I don't think she should have been invited to this event , but I feel bad that she's upset . How can I help her to feel better ?

Dear Next-Door-Neighbor ,
Invite your neighbor over for tea and a chat . Tell her that you hosted a gathering of colleagues and tell her a bit about the event . Then tell her you think she's upset because she wasn't invited . Remind her that both of you host events for different groups . Sometimes it's right to be included , sometimes not . Assure her that you love her just as much . The end .

Afghan shrines last resort for Afghan mentally ill

In this Monday, May 07, 2012 photo, Jalaluddin, 23, a drug addict, is chained to a wall during his 40-day incarceration at the Mia Ali Baba Shrine in Jalalabad Afghanistan. The shrine is a holy place, and those who care for it say that spending 40 days here will, God willing, free Jalaludin from his personal prison: mental illness

In this Tuesday, May 8, 2012 photo, a man prays inside the Mia Ali Baba Shrine in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. For 300 years, the shrine keepers here have been taking in the mentally ill. They say they are upholding the legacy of their ancestor whom the shrine honors, a holy man by the name of Ali Baba who was known in this area outside Jalalabad city for caring for the mentally ill when they were shunned by others

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AP) — The young man sits nearly naked in a small concrete room, a thick, heavy chain fastened around his ankle and bolted to the wall. Flies swarm around a wound on his wrist where shackles have rubbed the skin raw. His own waste has pooled in the corner, turning the dirt floor into a pungent mud.
This is no jail, however, and 23-year-old Jalaludin has committed no crime. The Mia Ali Baba shrine in eastern Afghanistan is a holy place, and those who care for it say that spending 40 days here will, God willing, free Jalaludin from his personal prison: mental illness.
For 300 years, the shrine keepers here have been taking in the mentally ill. They say they are upholding the legacy of their ancestor whom the shrine honors, a holy man by the name of Ali Baba who was known in this area outside Jalalabad city for caring for the mentally ill when they were shunned by others.
"This is an obligation for my family, but it is also an honor," said Mia Subadar, one of the shrine's current guardians. "Since I have been here, hundreds of people have come here and become healthy."
Shrines such as Mia Ali Baba are frowned upon by health care professionals and other critics who say they are ineffective and that those who run them prey on vulnerable people's religious beliefs and superstitions to make a profit.
But in Afghanistan, wracked by poverty and decades of war, many don't have access to even basic health care, let alone facilities for the mentally ill. With the government saying that more than 60 percent of Afghans suffer from psychological disorders from anxiety to depression, that leaves a huge void to be filled.
Frustrated families often turn to places like Mia Ali Baba, hoping for a miracle.
The prescription is drastic.
Those sent here are chained to the walls of the small, windowless rooms. They are fed only water, black pepper and bread. They are not allowed to bathe anything except their faces, hands and feet. Speaking with others is prohibited.
If a shrine keeper decides their situation is improving, they may be unchained for a few minutes so they can pray, walk outside or visit a proper bathroom.
Mohammad Sadeq, 40, said he was sent to Mia Ali Baba by his brothers. He said he doesn't know specifically what is wrong with him, but he has wild mood swings.
"I am a normal person, but whenever I come out of the house in my village, the children start shouting 'Look at the crazy man' and they throw stones at me," he said. "And then I don't know anything and I really do become a crazy man. I don't even know if I am human."