Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

The miracles of the new world

I have long repeated that there is a change going on the world. Some people like to ignore it, another to put it in their conspiracy diary, but for me, this is just another cycle of the history. In our world nothing stays static and there is always a dynamical order-when a country is weak, another country gets strong.

We have seen already the Russian "Upgrade", so today, I will paste an article on Brazil. What I'm trying to say is simply that there are another players on the world's stage and it's important to see the trend in time.

More on the new world you can easily see by checking some articles on Dubai and other Arab countries, on China, even on India. One cannot but wonder what tomorrow will bring. Sure, you can think it can be solved by force, but I'm not so positive on that. It's not just ONE country and the world is no longer so easily manipulated place. Or it is even more, who knows. I can only hope that everything will fit in peacefully. The war may not be over, but it's definitely old-fashioned and useless.

Strong Economy Propels Brazil to World Stage


Published: July 31, 2008

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Desperate to escape her hand-to-mouth existence in one of Brazil’s poorest regions, Maria Benedita Sousa used a small loan five years ago to buy two sewing machines and start her own business making women’s underwear.

Today Ms. Sousa, a mother of three who started out working in a jeans factory making minimum wage, employs 25 people in a modest two-room factory that produces 55,000 pairs of cotton underwear a month. She bought and renovated a house for her family and is now thinking of buying a second car. Her daughter, who is studying to be a pharmacist, could be the first family member to finish college.

“You can’t imagine the happiness I am feeling,” Ms. Sousa, 43, says “I am someone who came from the countryside to the city. I battled and battled, and today my children are studying, with one in college and two others in school. It’s a gift from God.”

Today her country is lifting itself up in much the same way. Brazil, South America’s largest economy, is finally poised to realize its long-anticipated potential as a global player, economists say, as the country rides its biggest economic expansion in three decades.

That growth is being felt in nearly all parts of the economy, creating a new class of super rich even as people like Ms. Sousa lift themselves into an expanding middle class.

It has also given Brazil new swagger, providing it, for instance, with greater leverage to push for a tougher bargain with the United States and Europe in global trade talks. After seven years, those negotiations finally broke down this week over demands by India and China for safeguards for their farmers, a clear sign of the rising clout of these emerging economies.

Despite investor fears about the leftist bent of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva when he was elected to lead Brazil in 2002, he has demonstrated a light touch when it comes to economic stewardship, avoiding the populist impulses of leaders in Venezuela and Bolivia.

Instead, he has fueled Brazil’s growth through a deft combination of respect for financial markets and targeted social programs, which are lifting millions out of poverty, said David Fleischer, a political analyst and emeritus professor at the University of Brasília. Ms. Sousa is one such beneficiary.

Long famous for its unequal distribution of wealth, Brazil has shrunk its income gap by six percentage points since 2001, more than any other country in South America this decade, said Francisco Ferreira, a lead economist at the World Bank.

While the top 10 percent of Brazil’s earners saw their cumulative income rise by 7 percent from 2001 to 2006, the bottom 10 percent shot up by 58 percent, according to Marcelo Côrtes Neri, the director of the Center for Social Policies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro.

But Brazil is also outspending most of its neighbors on social programs, and overall public spending continues to be nearly four times as high as what Mexico spends as a percentage of its gross national product, Mr. Ferreira said.

The momentum of its economic expansion is expected to last. As the United States and parts of Europe struggle with recession and the fallout from housing crises, Brazil’s economy shows few of the vulnerabilities of other emerging powers.

It has greatly diversified its industrial base, has huge potential to expand a booming agricultural sector into virgin fields and holds a tremendous pool of untapped natural resources. New oil discoveries will thrust Brazil into the ranks of the global oil powers within the next decade.

Yet while exports of commodities like oil and agricultural goods have driven much of its recent growth, Brazil is less and less dependent on them, economists say, having the advantage of a huge domestic market — 185 million people — that has grown wealthier with the success of people like Ms. Sousa.

In fact, with a stronger currency and inflation mostly in check, Brazilians are on a spending spree that has become a prime motor for the economy, which grew 5.4 percent last year.

They are buying both Brazilian goods and a rising flood of imported products. Many businesses have relaxed credit terms to allow Brazilians to pay for refrigerators, cars and even plastic surgery over years instead of months, despite some of the highest interest rates in the world. In June the country reached 100 million credit cards issued, a 17 percent jump over last year.

At Casas Bahia, a modestly priced Brazilian furniture-store chain, the number of customers buying items on installment nearly tripled to 29.3 million from 2002 to 2007, said Sônia Mitaini, a company spokeswoman.

Other signs of new wealth abound. In Macaé, an oil boomtown near Rio de Janeiro, contractors are racing to finish new shopping malls and luxury housing to keep up with demand from oil-service firms. At a port in Angra dos Reis, a town known for its spectacular islands, some 25,000 workers have found jobs building oil platforms.

Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, shocked the oil world in November when it announced that its Tupi deepwater field offshore of Rio de Janeiro could hold five billion to eight billion barrels of oil. Analysts think there could be billions of barrels more in surrounding areas.

While the oil will be expensive and complicated to extract, Petrobras has said it expects to be producing up to 100,000 barrels a day from Tupi by 2010, and hopes to produce up to a million barrels a day in about a decade.

The new oil plays are setting off an investment boom in Rio de Janeiro, with an estimated $67.6 billion expected to flow into the state by 2010, according to the Rio de Janeiro State Federation of Industries, an industry group. Petrobras alone expects to invest $40.5 billion by 2012.

Some economists say a slowdown in the rest of the world’s economy, especially in Asia, which is soaking up much of Brazil’s exports of soybeans and iron ore, could crimp growth here. “But that probability is small,” said Alfredo Coutiño, the senior economist for Latin America for Moody’s Economy.com.

In fact, because Brazil’s economy has become so diversified in recent years, the country is less susceptible to a hangover from the struggling United States economy.

Brazil’s exports to the United States represent just 2.5 percent of Brazil’s gross national product, compared with 25 percent of G.N.P. for Mexican exports, according to Moody’s.

“What makes Brazil more resilient is that the rest of the world matters less,” said Don Hanna, the head of emerging market economics at Citibank.

The rest of the world certainly has helped. Soaring prices for minerals and other commodities have created a new class of super rich. The number of Brazilians with liquid fortunes exceeding $1 million grew by 19 percent last year, third behind China and India, according to a survey by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini.

At the same time, President da Silva has deepened many of the social programs begun 10 years ago under Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who as president ushered in many of the structural reforms that laid the foundations of Brazil’s stable growth today.

In Ms. Sousa’s case, for instance, she owes much of the success of her underwear business to loans she has received from the Bank of the Northeast, a government-financed bank that has awarded microloans to 330,000 people to develop businesses in this fast-growing region.

Other programs, like Bolsa Familia, give small subsidies to millions of poor Brazilians to buy food and other essentials. Bolsa Familia, which benefits 45 million people nationwide in distributing an annual budget of about $5.6 billion, has been far more effective at raising per-capita incomes than recent increases in the minimum wage, which has risen 36 percent since 2003.

The bottom-up nature of such social programs has helped expand formal and informal employment as well as the Brazilian middle class. The number of people under the poverty line — defined as those earning less than $80 a month — fell by 32 percent from 2004 to 2006, Mr. Neri said.

The programs have been particularly effective here in Brazil’s northeast, historically one of poorest parts of the country. Residents here have received more than half the $15.6 billion doled out in social programs from 2003 to 2006, according to Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica, an arm of the Energy Ministry.source

The rich and the death

Ok, since I'm very extremely busy, here's some food for your thought.
The title says it all about the article, so I won't comment on that.
However, I want to make a little explanation. There are many books on death and many of them are very informative. I particularly like some Tibetan books, since they have quite articulate mythology. So, my clarification is: read the stories, but always remember that one usually sees in his/her near-death experiences what they are taught to see. There are many such reasons, but in short, our mind interpret what it sees in known terms. So if it's familiar with Christian mythology, it will see angels.
What I want to say is to be careful with your conclusions about the nature of the "after-life". So, that's all, off to read.

P.S. Another clarification: I believe in reincarnation (believe isn't the right word, I know it's a fact), so for me the message of this article should be-don't be scared of Death, it's just a process that already happened to you so many time. Just try to enjoy your life more.

Near-Death Experiences of the Rich and Famous

By Kevin Williams

Excerpt from: Near-Death.com

The near-death experiences of rich and famous people are particularly interesting. They are known all over the world. They are often beautiful, articulate and very talented in what they do. With this in mind, why would such a person reveal to everyone that they were dead and came back to life? Money? They already got that. Fame? They are already famous.

In fact, by telling everyone they came back from the dead, they may be risking their own reputation. People who reveal such things to others often become the butt of jokes or thought to be crazy. Why would anyone rich and famous subject themselves to this when it might result in lost fame and fortune? The only rational reason that such people who have nothing to gain is that it really happened to them and they want to share it.

The following are rich and famous people who risked it all to tell the world about their near-death experience. Some of these accounts are documented in Jean Ritchie's excellent book, Death's Door.

Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour is an actress most noted for the cult classic movie, "Somewhere in Time," with actor Christopher Reeves, and the television series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." When Jane Seymour was 36 years of age, she had a severe case of the flu and was given an injection of penicillin. She suffered an allergic reaction which led to a near-death experience.

"I literally left my body. I had this feeling that I could see myself on the bed, with people grouped around me. I remember them all trying to resuscitate me. I was above them, in the corner of the room looking down. I saw people putting needles in me, trying to hold me down, doing things. I remember my whole life flashing before my eyes, but I wasn't thinking about winning Emmys or anything like that. The only thing I cared about was that I wanted to live because I did not want anyone else looking after my children. I was floating up there thinking, "No, I don't want to die. I'm not ready to leave my kids." And that was when I said to God, "If you're there, God, if you really exist and I survive, I will never take your name in vain again." Although I believe that I "died" for about thirty seconds, I can remember pleading with the doctor to bring me back. I was determined I wasn't going to die." She then suddenly found herself back in her body.

Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers was the comic genius of a generation of actors. He brought brilliant characterizations to numerous films, including "The Mouse That Roared" (1959), "Dr. Strangelove" (1964), "The Pink Panther" (1964), and "Being There" (1979).

Seated in a Hollywood mockup of a limousine's back seat while shooting his last great film, "Being There", he told Shirley MacLaine about his near-death experience, astonished that she did not consider him "bonkers." Shirley documents their conversation in her book, Out on a Limb. In 1964, during the first of a rapid series of eight heart attacks, when his heart stopped and he was clinically dead, he had an out-of-body experience and saw the bright, loving light:

"Well, I felt myself leave my body. I just floated out of my physical form and I saw them cart my body away to the hospital. I went with it ... I wasn't frightened or anything like that because I was fine; and it was my body that was in trouble."

The doctor saw that he was dead and massaged his heart vigorously, Meanwhile: "I looked around myself and I saw an incredibly beautiful bright loving white light above me. I wanted to go to that white light more than anything. I've never wanted anything more. I know there was love, real love, on the other side of the light which was attracting me so much. It was kind and loving and I remember thinking "That's God.""

Peter's out-of-body soul tried to elevate itself toward the light, but he fell short: "Then I saw a hand reach through the light. I tried to touch it, to grab onto it, to clasp it so it could sweep me up and pull me through it." But just then his heart began beating again, and at that instant the hand's voice said: "It's not time. Go back and finish. It's not time." As the hand receded he felt himself floating back down to his body, waking up bitterly disappointed.

What effect did his near-death experience have on Sellers? His biographer says that "The repeated act of "dying" became for Peter Sellers the most important experience of his life." Sellers said of death: "I'll never fear it again." Family and friends found him more spiritual and reflective than before.

Elizabeth Taylor
British actress Elizabeth Taylor spoke about her experience of having "died" on the operating table while undergoing surgery, and of passing through a tunnel towards a brilliant white light. Interviewed by Larry King on CNN's "Larry King Live," the legendary Hollywood star related how she had "died" for five minutes on the operating table.

"I was pronounced dead once and actually saw the light. I find it very hard to talk about, actually, because it sounds so corny. It happened in the late '50s, and I saw Mike (Todd, Taylor's third husband, who was killed in a plane crash in 1958). When I came to, there were about 11 people in the room. I'd been gone for about five minutes - they had given me up for dead and put my death notice on the wall. I shared this with the people that were in the room next to me. Then after that I told another group of friends, and I thought, "Wow, this sounds really screwy. I think I'd better keep quiet about this."

Robert Pastorelli
Robert Pastorelli is most noted for his starring role in the television series, "Murphy Brown." At the age of 19, he had a car accident which caused a near-death experience that literally changed how he was living, in a very dramatic way.

"It smashed right into the driver's door. It hit me so hard it actually knocked the shoes off my feet. My car rolled over about four times on this big highway and the next thing I knew I was in intensive care with a collapsed lung. Every one of my ribs was shattered. I had lacerations to my head and face, and my kidneys, spleen and gall bladder were all ruptured. I was a mess.

"I was in excruciating pain. Then, in the next second, there was no pain. Suddenly I realized I was out of my body. I was floating above myself, looking down at my unconscious body lying in the hospital emergency room with my eyes closed. I could see tubes down my nose and throat. I knew I was dying and I thought, "Well, this must be death." I even saw a priest giving me the last rites. But it was the most peaceful feeling in the world. Then I saw my father starting to faint out of grief. Two nurses grabbed him and sat him down in a chair across the room.

"When I looked down and saw my father's pain it had an effect on me. I firmly believe that at that moment I made a decision to live, not die. The next thing I knew I was waking up back in my body. Later, in the recovery room, when I was fully conscious, I told my father what had happened, his fainting and all. He was astounded."

Sharon Stone
"Basic Instinct" star, Sharon Stone, has told how she had a "white light experience" during her brain scare. Stone says she almost died after internal bleeding caused by a tear in an artery at the base of her skull. Sharon was interviewed by Katie Couric about her journey into the afterlife.

ìWhen it hit me I felt like I'd been shot in the head. That's the only way I can really describe it. It hit me so hard it knocked me over on the sofa. And Phil was out of town and I called him and said, "I think I had a stroke." But in all fairness, I'm a person who's always saying, " I think I've had a stroke, I think I've had a heart attack, I think I've had a brain hemorrhage ...

I had a real journey with this that took me to places both here and beyond that affected me so profoundly that my life will never be the same ...

I get to be not afraid of dying and I get to tell other people that it's a fabulous thing and that death is a gift. And not that you should kill yourself, but that when death comes to you, as it will, that it's a glorious and beautiful thing. This kind of giant vortex of white light was upon me and I kind of – poof – sort of took off into this glorious, bright, bright, bright white light and I started to see and be met by some of my friends. But it was very fast - whoosh! Suddenly, I was back. I was in my body and I was in the room.î

Gary Busey
Gary Busey, once Hollywood's "bad boy," was nominated for an Oscar for the movie, "The Buddy Holly Story." Busey, who fought addiction with drugs and alcohol for several years, was nicknamed "Gary Abusey" by his wife. Busey has had supernatural encounters in which he nearly died three or more times in his life ...a drug overdose, cancer, and an accident west of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

But the most tragic experience, and one that changed his life, was a motorcycle accident in 1988. Gary was going about 40-50 miles per hour riding on 750 pounds of cold steel. He was not wearing a helmet when he crashed. He was flung over the top of his cycle, head first into the curb and he cracked his skull. Busey had an NDE while he was dying on the operating table after having brain surgery. During his NDE, he was surrounded by angels. Busey stated that they didn't appear in the form that people see on Christmas cards. The angels he saw were big balls of light that floated and carried nothing but love and warmth - and this love is unconditional.

Larry Hagman
Larry Hagman, of "Dallas" and "I Dream of Jeanie" fame, underwent a liver transplant in 1995. Years of heavy drinking resulted in cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. He was only weeks away from certain death at the time of his liver transplant and near-death experience.

Larry describes what he experienced: "I was able to look over the edge. I got a little glimpse of what was the next step. I didn't see a light some people see, but I had a wonderful feeling of bliss and warmth. The bottom line is "love," that sounds corny, but it was just lovely, uplifting."

Rebecca DeMornay
Rebecca DeMornay starred in the movie thriller, "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle." When she was 7 years old, she was in Mexico City, Mexico, when she got ill from a peptic ulcer and had what she believes was a near-death experience.

"One night the doctors told my mother that there was only a fifty-fifty chance that I'd make it. I remember that I was tied to three IVs but I recall getting out of bed and looking out of the window: it was snowing. There was an old-fashioned lamppost and barefoot children were dancing around it, singing. I went back to bed and the next morning the crisis was over. In 1983 I started thinking about it: "Does it ever snow in Mexico City? Do they have these strange kind of lampposts there?" I went back to Mexico and I didn't see those lampposts anywhere. Nor does it ever snow there."

Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland, who played the character, Hawkeye Piece, in the movie version of "Mash", had a near-death experience when ill with meningitis in 1979.

"Suddenly the pain, fever and acute distress seemed to evaporate. I was floating above my body, surrounded by soft blue light. I began to glide down a long tunnel, away from the bed ... but suddenly I found myself back in my body. The doctors told me later that I had actually died for a time."

Eric Estrada
Eric Estrada became famous for his starring role in the television series, "Chips." While filming an episode of "Chips," he had a terrible motorcycle accident that led to a near-death experience.

"Suddenly I was in a long corridor with bright lights, beautiful music, and a feeling of great peace. But something seemed to be blocking my progress. A voice told me, "You've got to go back. You've a lot still to do. You've achieved success and stardom but you haven't achieved personal happiness and peace of mind." After hearing the voice, he returned to his body.

Eric Roberts
Internationally renowned actor Eric Roberts has starred in more than 70 films, including the Dannion Brinkley movie, "Saved by the Light." Eric has traveled all over the world encountering many colorful experiences. One of Eric's most dramatic moments took place in Westport, Connecticut. He was driving along, became distracted by his dog, and crashed. He was hospitalized in a coma and almost died. It was this state that Eric claimed to have had a surreal out-of-body experience.

Elvis Presley
People having near-death experiences are greeted by someone - usually someone they deeply love or the so-called "Being of Light". When Elvis Presley died, it seemed like the whole world mourned. He was truly loved by many people the world over. Since then, many people have reported having "Elvis sightings" where the spirit of Elvis appears as an apparition to people much in the same way that Jesus appeared to people after his death.

Not only this, many near-death experiencers find themselves greeted, not by a Being of Light, but by Elvis Presley. According to Dr. Melvin Morse in his book on near-death experiences entitled "Transformed by the Light," a 45-year old Mid-western teacher saw Elvis Presley in an intense light during her near-death experience. The woman had met Elvis when she was a child. The following is her near-death account:

"I entered into a dark tunnel and suddenly I was in a place filled up with love and a beautiful, bright light. The place seemed holy. My father, who had died two years earlier, was there, as were my grandparents. Everyone was happy to see me, but my father told me it was not my time and I would be going back. Just as I turned to go, I caught sight of Elvis! He was standing in this place of intense bright light. He just came over to me, took my hand and said, "Hi, Bev, do you remember me?"

Dr. Raymond Moody wrote an entire book on Elvis sightings, including near-death experiences, entitled Elvis After Life. Because of the large number of devoted Elvis fans, it should not be a surprise that people having NDEs should be greeted by the King. source

The plague

Well, the plagues, more likely.
But since I believe they represent the same attitude, let's put it in singular. THE PLAGUE!
The plague is the ignorance. The ignorance that stops us from making our kids run outside instead of stay home on the pc, the ignorance that told us that investing in abstinence before marriage is a better way to fight AIDS than investing in sexual education (even though it's obvious that it could never work in a country and society and specie where sex is fun). The ignorance that told us that just because we would like something to go our way, it will do it. Well, it won't.
In the real life, things are very banal and rarely surprising. They follow the law of reason and consequence. If you don't burn your calories, you'll get fat. If you are too afraid to confront your children on the health issues, they're likely to get sick. If you fail to educate your kids on the sex safety, they are likely to get infected while they do something that's hardly even sex.

And as we can very well see from the following articles, the problem is very very serious.
Ignorance is the biggest enemy of life and I sincerely ask you to stop for a moment and think in what parts of your life, your ignorance has hurt you or other people.

P.S. I don't judge anyone and I alone spend enough time on the PC. The key moment is the balance. Since everything in nature conserves (well, normally...), whatever you eat, you should burn it. So, it's obvious you can't eat and eat and eat and then expect to be fit. Oh, well, I don't want to be annoying with that. We all know how it goes. We just like to pretend we don't. And hope, "it" won't happen to us.
Enjoy...

Weight Drives the Young to Adult Pills, Data Says

July 26, 2008

A growing number of American children are taking drugs for a wide range of chronic conditions related to childhood obesity, according to prescription data from three large organizations.

The numbers, from pharmacy plans Medco Health Solutions, Express Scripts and the marketing data collection company Verispan, indicate that hundreds of thousands of children are taking medication to treat Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux — all problems linked to obesity that were practically unheard-of in children two decades ago.

The data, disclosed publicly in recent months or provided at the request of The New York Times, shows that concerns that children will be taking adult medications — heightened recently by a controversial recommendation by a national pediatricians group — are already a reality.

This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that more children, as young as 8, should be given cholesterol-lowering drugs. The recommendation was quickly attacked by some experts as a license to put children on grown-up drugs.

While the drugs do help treat the conditions, some doctors fear they are simply a shortcut fix for a problem better addressed by exercise and diet. Even so, some pharmaceutical companies are developing new versions, including flavored ones, of adult medications for children.

The data suggests that at least several hundred thousand children are on various obesity-related medications.

The greatest increase occurred in drugs for Type 2 diabetes, with Medco’s data showing a 151 percent jump from 2001 to 2007.

Medco’s data, released in May, showed that use of drugs to treat acid reflux problems in children, often aggravated by obesity, increased 137 percent over seven years. Its analysis also showed an 18 percent increase in drugs to treat high blood pressure and a 12 percent increase in cholesterol-lowering medications during the seven-year period.

Express Scripts found a 15 percent increase over three years in drugs to treat cholesterol and other fats in the blood, a category that is primarily statins.

“We were amazed at how quickly the rates of drugs used have climbed,” said Dr. Donna R. Halloran, an assistant professor at St. Louis University who worked on the Express Scripts analysis.

Doctors and some financial analysts have said that less pronounced increases in cholesterol drugs compared with some other medications — seen in all three analyses — reflect a wariness by some doctors about using those drugs in children.

Some experts have expressed concern that the increases in many of these obesity-related drugs reflect a systemic failure, with doctors and parents turning to them because they find lifestyle changes too difficult to implement or enforce.

“You see elevated blood pressure, or elevated sugars, or elevated cholesterol and you try exercise and diet and you don’t see any improvement,” Dr. Rothman said. “I worry that some providers and some families are looking for the quick fix, and are going to want to start medication immediately.” Some pediatricians say they have been treating children with statins for several years.

Dr. David Collier, director of a pediatric weight management center at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., an area where 45 percent of the children are overweight, is among doctors who support the recent recommendations that statins may be warranted in some children as young as 8. “We have been using statins for two or three years now,” he said.

One of his statin patients, he said, was a 6-year-old girl.

Diet and exercise are tried first, but “lifestyle is really tough,” Dr. Kaufman said. Some of her patients live in neighborhoods without grocery stores and attend schools that do not offer physical education programs.

“They deserve to be treated,” Dr. Kaufman said.

At Camp Pocono Trails, a weight loss camp in Reeders, Pa., that enrolls about 700 children each summer, owner Tony Sparber said that campers are arriving with medications, a pharmacopeia that include statins and diabetes medications.

Experts say that the trend could balloon health care costs. As many as 30 percent of children nationwide are overweight. And children who start such medication often rely on the drugs for a lifetime and are prone to health problems as adults.

Despite a push by the Food and Drug Administration to foster drug studies in children, many experts believe that many clinical studies in children have not been extensive enough. And adult doses are often not correct for children.

Hypertension medications present a particular challenge in dosing for children. “Even in clinical trials where adult pills were crushed and such, you often can’t even demonstrate that the medication works,” he added.source


H.I.V. Study Says Rate 40% Higher Than Estimate


Published: August 3, 2008

MEXICO CITY — The United States has significantly underreported the number of new H.I.V. infections occurring nationally each year, with a study released here on Saturday showing that the annual infection rate is 40 percent higher than previously estimated.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 56,300 people became newly infected with H.I.V in 2006, compared with the 40,000 figure the agency has cited as the recent annual incidence of the disease.

The findings confirm that H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, has its greatest effect among gay and bisexual men of all races (53 percent of all new infections) and among African-American men and women.

The new figures are likely to strongly influence a number of decisions about efforts to control the epidemic, said the disease centers’ director, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, and other AIDS experts. Timely data about trends in H.I.V. transmission, they said, is essential for planning and evaluating prevention efforts and the money spent on them.

Dr. Gerberding said the new findings were “unacceptable,” adding that new efforts must be made to lower the infection rates. “We are not effectively reaching men who have sex with men and African-Americans to lower their risk,” she said.

Dr. Kevin A. Fenton, who directs H.I.V. prevention efforts at the agency, said, “C.D.C.’s new incidence estimates reveal that the H.I.V. epidemic is and has been worse than previously known.”

Dr. Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist at Hunter College in Manhattan, raised questions about the validity of the findings. If they are true, Dr. Alcabes said in a statement, the agency has undercounted new H.I.V. infections by about 15,000 per year for about 15 years. “Therefore, there are roughly 225,000 more people living with H.I.V. in the U.S. than previously suspected,” he said. “The previous estimate was 1 million to 1.1 million.”

A C.D.C. spokeswoman said Dr. Alcabes’s estimates were incorrect because the new figures could not be used to calculate the total number of people with H.I.V. The C.D.C. does not know the total number but is expected to determine it later in the year.

The C.D.C., the federal agency responsible for tracking the AIDS epidemic in the United States, said its new monitoring system provided more precise estimates than were previously possible of new infections in specific populations. Infection rates among blacks were found to be seven times as high as for whites (83.7 per 100,000 people versus 11.5 per 100,000) and almost three times as high as for Hispanics (29.3 per 100,000 people), a group that was also disproportionately affected.

In an editorial on June 21, The Lancet, an internationally prestigious journal published in London, severely criticized the disease centers for failing to release the information and said, “U.S. efforts to prevent H.I.V. have failed dismally.”

Dr. Gerberding, in defending the decision not to release the data earlier, said: “This paper has been scrutinized by some of the best statisticians in the country and is much better now than when we started this process. It was so complicated that even I, who has some expertise in this area, could not stand by it without making sure we had gone through the review process.”

The delay, however, has also fueled criticism that the Bush administration, which has earned plaudits for spending tens of billions to fight AIDS in a number of highly affected countries, has not done enough to fight the disease at home.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was critical of the administration. “H.I.V. prevention has been underfunded and too often hindered by politics and ideology,” Mr. Waxman said in a statement released Saturday.

He said the administration had reduced domestic spending against H.I.V. “Since fiscal year 2002, when adjusted for inflation, C.D.C.’s prevention budget has actually shrunk by 19 percent. The president has recently requested decreases in funding for H.I.V. prevention at C.D.C.”

The revised figures are based on a new laboratory test that can distinguish between recent and long-standing H.I.V. infection, as well as on statistical measures and extrapolations.

The test is done in the laboratory on left-over serum from the standard H.I.V. test after it shows that a person is infected. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the test, known as BED.source

A flying miracle

A rather scary one (and late)! Especially for people like me who fear flying but however have to fly from time to time. I think it's an absolute miracle nobody got hurt. I mean, the plane actually decompressed and that's very very dangerous. I won't comment it since we've seen enough movies on such events. I just think it's amazing people stayed calm. I wonder whether they don't put some painkillers in the oxygen from those masks. Actually, if the concentration of oxygen in them is bigger than in normal air, it's possible to get the same effect-the brain tends to get very happy and calm in high oxygen environment (well, not all oxygen, because this is lethal, I think)

Hole in Fuselage Forces Qantas 747 to Land

Published: July 26, 2008

The Australian authorities opened an investigation on Friday into what caused a section of the fuselage of a Qantas airliner to burst open en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne, Australia, forcing the Boeing 747-400 to make an emergency landing in Manila.


Edwin Loobrera/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The jumbo jet, which carried 346 passengers and 19 crew members, landed safely on Friday and those on board left without injury. As a piece of fuselage the size of a sedan ripped from the plane, the jet, Qantas Flight 30, had been forced to descend steeply to 10,000 feet from 29,000 feet.

Passengers described hearing a loud bang and seeing debris fly into the cabin. As the plane depressurized, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and cabin crew members shouted to passengers to put them on.

“There was a terrific boom and bits of wood and debris just flew forward” into the first-class area, a passenger, Dr. June Kane, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

Another passenger, Phill Restall, of Chippenham, England, said that he was awakened by the sound of what the authorities said may have been an explosive decompression, but that there was no panic.

“It dawned on a lot of people that this was a major incident,” he told the British Broadcasting Corporation. “There was no screaming. It wasn’t your typical television movie.”

He said some passengers were shaking afterward, while, according to The Associated Press, others vomited.

Aviation experts said the hole might have appeared when a part of the plane meant to reduce wind resistance pulled away from the fuselage, although they cautioned it was too soon to draw conclusions.

Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States said Friday that they were sending teams to aid in an investigation by the Australian Air Transport Safety Bureau. Under international treaty, the United States, as the country where the plane was built, will be an official participant in the investigation.

The plane had recently undergone a major overhaul, in which engineers discovered a great deal of corrosion inside the cargo hold, The Daily Telegraph of Australia reported in its Saturday issue.

As the plane lost pressure, oxygen masks descended from the ceiling, and passengers reported seeing mist and debris in the cabin.

Video, apparently taken on a passenger’s cellphone and released by Reuters, showed passengers sitting calmly, wearing their yellow masks and watching the seat-back screens showing the plane’s altitude as the aircraft descended.

“Nobody had any idea what was going on,” George Kierans, of Drogheda, Ireland, told the BBC. “I think most people were in a state of shock.”

Many of those on board only realized how serious the situation was after they got off.

Photographs and video of the plane, which went into service in 1991, showed a gaping hole in the underside of the aircraft, just in front of its right wing.

The hole appeared to encompass a part of the plane called a fairing, which is meant to smooth out the surface of the fuselage and reduce wind drag.

Many airplanes are subject to cracking as they age as a result of the repeated stress of pressurization and depressurization, but a 747 typically flies for many hours between landings and has far fewer pressurization cycles.

Although metal fatigue has been blamed for similar emergencies in the past, fairings, which are installed on various parts of an aircraft, do not normally have that problem, said Robert W. Mann Jr., an industry consultant based in Port Washington, N.Y.

That raised the question of whether the aircraft might have been damaged on the ground or from inside the cargo compartment, possibly when bags were being loaded, Mr. Mann said.

He said passengers were not in danger from the depressurization because aircraft that fly above 10,000 feet are generally required to carry oxygen systems. The atmosphere is thin above that altitude, and people can function for only a few minutes without oxygen before becoming groggy and losing consciousness.

Pilots are trained to bring a plane down swiftly to 10,000 feet, where passengers and crew can breathe without assistance. Given that the Qantas jet was at 29,000 feet, the plane dropped roughly a mile a minute, “not the kind of descent you would normally subject passengers to,” Mr. Mann said.

The landing in Manila came only about 630 miles into the journey, a little over an hour after the plane took off.

Qantas has decades of experience flying the Boeing 747, a model it first ordered in the 1960s.

Qantas has also had some close calls. In 1999, a Qantas jet ran off a runway in Bangkok while landing in heavy rain. There were no reports of serious injuries.

More recently, a Qantas-operated Boeing 717 was damaged in February when it sustained a hard landing at Darwin, Australia. The landing gear, tires and fuselage of the plane, flown by QantasLink, the airline’s regional carrier, were damaged.

In 1988, a gash opened in a Boeing 737 belonging to Aloha Airlines at 24,000 feet on a flight from Hilo to Honolulu, Hawaii. A chunk of the plane’s roof and the cockpit door were blown out. One flight attendant was killed when she was swept out of the plane, and 65 passengers and crew members were hurt.

Federal investigators said the accident was caused by metal fatigue, exacerbated by corrosion caused by salt water. source

The censure of the War

The following article gives a very important side from the War in Iraq-the censorship.

Why I post it is because people still sign up for the army for various reasons, but mostly, false promises. And the US army obviously does what it can to protect those promises. Well, I don't think so. A soldier must know what to expect, especially if s/he is risking her/his life for this. And I don't think it's right to hide the horrifying details of a war, just because they are unpopular.
War is a serious thing, it cannot be popular. You don't go to war, because it's fun and pretty. You do it out of necessity and you accept the ugliness.
And since I don't see the need for a war in Iraq, as well as many other Europeans and even more Iraqi, Arab or whatever people, I consider it essential that people in USA know what is it like on a war. To know what their troops are doing. To know what their sons and daughters are enduring and to decide whether the risk is worthy. Yes, war isn't pretty, but you have always to see and remember what you're doing precisely for the same reason-war is ugly and should be done only when there REALLY isn't another option. Not because you're bored and annoyed with internal problems and wonder who to attack to distract the public attention.

Obviously, that's not in the agenda of the people that pour trillions of dollars in the Army coffin, but still, it's important for those millions of people that pay those money. I hope you read the article and really ponder on the question "why a justified war needs censure?"

4,000 U.S. Deaths, and a Handful of Images


Published: July 26, 2008

BAGHDAD — The case of a freelance photographer in Iraq who was barred from covering the Marines after he posted photos on the Internet of several of them dead has underscored what some journalists say is a growing effort by the American military to control graphic images from the war.


Chris Hondros/Getty Images

JAN. 18, 2005 An Iraqi girl after her parents were killed by American gunfire in Tal Afar. More Photos »

Zoriah Miller, the photographer who took images of marines killed in a June 26 suicide attack and posted them on his Web site, was subsequently forbidden to work in Marine Corps-controlled areas of the country. Maj. Gen. John Kelly, the Marine commander in Iraq, is now seeking to have Mr. Miller barred from all United States military facilities throughout the world. Mr. Miller has since left Iraq.

If the conflict in Vietnam was notable for open access given to journalists — too much, many critics said, as the war played out nightly in bloody newscasts — the Iraq war may mark an opposite extreme: after five years and more than 4,000 American combat deaths, searches and interviews turned up fewer than a half-dozen graphic photographs of dead American soldiers.

It is a complex issue, with competing claims often difficult to weigh in an age of instant communication around the globe via the Internet, in which such images can add to the immediate grief of families and the anger of comrades still in the field.

While the Bush administration faced criticism for overt political manipulation in not permitting photos of flag-draped coffins, the issue is more emotional on the battlefield: local military commanders worry about security in publishing images of the American dead as well as an affront to the dignity of fallen comrades. Most newspapers refuse to publish such pictures as a matter of policy.

But opponents of the war, civil liberties advocates and journalists argue that the public portrayal of the war is being sanitized and that Americans who choose to do so have the right to see — in whatever medium — the human cost of a war that polls consistently show is unpopular with Americans.

Journalists say it is now harder, or harder than in the earlier years, to accompany troops in Iraq on combat missions. Even memorial services for killed soldiers, once routinely open, are increasingly off limits. Detainees were widely photographed in the early years of the war, but the Department of Defense, citing prisoners’ rights, has recently stopped that practice as well.

And while publishing photos of American dead is not barred under the “embed” rules in which journalists travel with military units, the Miller case underscores what is apparently one reality of the Iraq war: that doing so, even under the rules, can result in expulsion from covering the war with the military.

“It is absolutely censorship,” Mr. Miller said. “I took pictures of something they didn’t like, and they removed me. Deciding what I can and cannot document, I don’t see a clearer definition of censorship.”

The Marine Corps denied it was trying to place limits on the news media and said Mr. Miller broke embed regulations. Security is the issue, officials said.

“Specifically, Mr. Miller provided our enemy with an after-action report on the effectiveness of their attack and on the response procedures of U.S. and Iraqi forces,” said Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, a Marine spokesman.

News organizations say that such restrictions are one factor in declining coverage of the war, along with the danger, the high cost to financially ailing media outlets and diminished interest among Americans in following the war. By a recent count, only half a dozen Western photographers were covering a war in which 150,000 American troops are engaged.

In Mr. Miller’s case, a senior military official in Baghdad said that while his photographs were still under review, a preliminary assessment showed he had not violated ground rules established by the multinational force command. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, emphasized that Mr. Miller was still credentialed to work in Iraq, though several military officials acknowledged that no military unit would accept him.

“During the invasion it got a lot of ‘Whoopee, we’re kicking their butts’-type of TV coverage,” Mr. Reid said.

Now, he said the situation is nuanced and unpredictable. Generally, he said, the access reporters get “very much depends on the local commander.” More specifically, he said, “They’ve always been freaky about bodies.”

The facts of the Miller case are not in dispute, only their interpretation.

On the morning of June 26, Mr. Miller, 32, was embedded with Company E of the Second Battalion, Third Marine Regiment in Garma, in Anbar Province. The photographer declined a Marine request to attend a city council meeting, and instead accompanied a unit on foot patrol nearby.

When a suicide bomber detonated his vest inside the council meeting, killing 20 people, including 3 marines, Mr. Miller was one of the first to arrive. His photos show a scene of horror, with body parts littering the ground and heaps of eviscerated corpses. Mr. Miller was able to photograph for less than 10 minutes, he said, before being escorted from the scene.

Mr. Miller said he spent three days on a remote Marine base editing his photos, which he then showed to the Company E marines. When they said they could not identify the dead marines, he believed he was within embed rules, which forbid showing identifiable soldiers killed in action before their families have been notified. According to records Mr. Miller provided, he posted his photos on his Web site the night of June 30, three days after the families had been notified.

The next morning, high-ranking Marine public affairs officers demanded that Mr. Miller remove the photos. When he refused, his embed was terminated. Worry that marines might hurt him was high enough that guards were posted to protect him.

On July 3, Mr. Miller was given a letter signed by General Kelly barring him from Marine installations. The letter said that the journalist violated sections 14 (h) and (o) of the embed rules, which state that no information can be published without approval, including material about “any tactics, techniques and procedures witnessed during operations,” or that “provides information on the effectiveness of enemy techniques.”

“In disembedding Mr. Miller, the Marines are using a catch-all phrase which could be applied to just about anything a journalist does,” said Joel Campagna, Middle East program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

New embed rules were adopted in the spring of 2007 that required written permission from wounded soldiers before their image could be used, a near impossibility in the case of badly wounded soldiers, journalists say. While embed restrictions do permit photographs of dead soldiers to be published once family members have been notified, in practice, photographers say, the military has exacted retribution on the rare occasions that such images have appeared. In four out of five cases that The New York Times was able to document, the photographer was immediately kicked out of his or her embed following publication of such photos.

In the first of such incidents, Stefan Zaklin, formerly of the European Pressphoto Agency, was barred from working with an Army unit after he published a photo of a dead Army captain lying in a pool of blood in Falluja in 2004.

Two New York Times journalists were disembedded in January 2007 after the paper published a photo of a mortally wounded soldier. Though the soldier was shot through the head and died hours after the photo was taken, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno argued that The Times had broken embed rules by not getting written permission from the soldier.

Military officials stressed that the embed regulations provided only a framework. “There is leeway for commanders to make judgment calls, which is part of what commanders do,” said Col. Steve Boylan, the public affairs officer for Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq. For many in the military, a legal or philosophical debate over press freedom misses the point. Capt. Esteban T. Vickers of the First Regimental Combat Team, who knew two of the marines killed at Garma, said photos of his dead comrades, displayed on the Internet for all to see, desecrated their memory and their sacrifice.

Mr. Miller, who returned to the United States on July 9, expressed surprise that his images had ignited such an uproar.

“The fact that the images I took of the suicide bombing — which are just photographs of something that happens every day all across the country — the fact that these photos have been so incredibly shocking to people, says that whatever they are doing to limit this type of photo getting out, it is working,” he said.source

The good and the bad USA

3 articles:

  • California Bars Restaurant Use of Trans Fats
  • Blacks in Congress Split Over Menthol Cigarettes
  • China Surpasses U.S. in Number of Internet Users
For me, they show the 2 sides of USA-the good, the one that stimulate life and health and innovations, the bad-the one that protects industries on the expense of people's health. And the third shows what China is doing meanwhile.
I won't elaborate much on this, since I believe people are intelligent enough to do the maths for themselves.
All I can say, is that I support the ban on trans fats, I oppose the exclusion of menthol since it's obviously a factor in the addiction of black Americans and I only admire the progress of China.
The rest is up to you: pick a side because sooner or later, you'll have to defend either life or death. As for China, no matter if we like it or not, they are getting big.

California Bars Restaurant Use of Trans Fats


Published: July 26, 2008

LOS ANGELES — California, a national trendsetter in all matters edible, became the first state to ban trans fats in restaurants when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Friday to phase out their use.

Under the new law, trans fats, long linked to health problems, must be excised from restaurant products beginning in 2010, and from all retail baked goods by 2011. Packaged foods will be exempt.

New York City adopted a similar ban in 2006 — it became fully effective on July 1 — and Philadelphia, Stamford, Conn., and Montgomery County, Md., have done so as well.

But having the requirement imposed on the most populous state’s 88,000 restaurants, as well as its bakeries and other food purveyors, is a major gain for the movement against trans fats. That movement has been led by scientists, doctors and consumer advocates who trace the largely synthetic fat to a variety of ailments, principally heart disease.

Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen into liquid oil at high temperature, a process called partial hydrogenation. The process results in an inexpensive fat that prolongs the shelf life and appearance of packaged foods and that, many fast-food restaurants say, helps make cooked food crisp and flavorful.

But trans fats have also been found in scientific studies to lower high-density lipoproteins, the “good” cholesterol, while increasing low-density lipoproteins, the “bad” cholesterol, high levels of which contribute to the onset of heart disease, the leading cause of death in California and the nation.

Dr. Yancy said a 2 percent increase in trans-fat intake could result over time in a 25 percent increase in the likelihood of developing coronary artery disease.

Under the new law, restaurants, bakeries, delicatessens, cafeterias and other businesses classified as “food facilities” will, in the preparation of any foods, have to discontinue use of oils, margarine and shortening containing trans fats.

Those purveyors will have to keep the labels on their cooking products so that the products can be inspected for trans fat, a process that will become part of the duties of local health inspectors. Violators will face fines beginning at $25 and increasing to as much as $1,000 for subsequent violations.

Trans fats are also linked to obesity, and the bill’s author, Tony Mendoza, a Democratic assemblyman and former fourth-grade teacher from Southern California, said he had been inspired by the number of obese children he saw in school.

California, which supplies a great deal of the nation’s specialty crops, already has some of the toughest food restrictions in the nation, including a ban on junk food and trans fats in school meals.

On Friday, Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican whose positions on consumer issues often align closely with those of Democrats who control the Legislature, praised the new statute, which the lawmakers passed last week. source

Blacks in Congress Split Over Menthol Cigarettes


Published: July 25, 2008

Free cigarettes are no longer handed out at Congressional Black Caucus functions. And it has been years since anyone referred to Edolphus Towns, Democrat of Brooklyn, as the “Marlboro Man” for his campaign contributions from the tobacco industry.

But the Congressional Black Caucus has not severed its financial ties to big tobacco. And that can complicate matters when the political discussion involves smoking’s impact on African-Americans.

A rift has opened in the 43-member caucus over a menthol provision in legislation that would enable the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. To reduce smoking’s appeal to teenagers, the legislation would outlaw flavored cigarettes — except for menthol cigarettes, which are specifically exempted.

With menthol brands making up about 28 percent of the $70 billion American cigarette market, the exemption was seen as a necessary compromise to win broad backing for the legislation.

But menthol has become a politically charged subject in Washington because an estimated 75 percent of black smokers choose mentholated brands.

Scientists have long wondered whether menthol might play a role in the disproportionate share of smoking-related cancer among African-Americans — if for no other reason than the additive may mask the harshness of the smoke, making it easier for teenagers to begin smoking.

Critics of the menthol exemption tend to denounce it as a sellout to the tobacco industry, and some members of the black caucus are pressing to narrow the exemption or ban menthol outright. But other caucus members oppose any changes, saying that pushing too hard now on menthol could endanger the legislation.

Concerns about the racial implications of menthol may have been heightened last week by a Harvard study stating that cigarette makers had deliberately manipulated menthol levels to attract young people.

As long as two decades ago, Brown & Williamson, then the maker of Kool cigarettes, concluded that the menthol cigarette was a “good starter product” because new smokers “already know what menthol tastes like, vis-à-vis candy,” according to a company memo.

The legislation in its current form, with the menthol exemption, has broad support in the House. It also has the backing of many health groups, as well as the nation’s biggest cigarette company, Philip Morris USA, whose support is considered crucial for passage. The company makes Marlboro Menthol, the second-biggest menthol brand.

Philip Morris over the years has been one of the biggest contributors to the caucus’s nonprofit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. That financial support, in some years exceeding $250,000, and lesser amounts at times from other cigarette makers, has been the reason some critics perceived an alliance between big tobacco and African-American members of Congress, some of whom were willing to help fend off antitobacco efforts.

Some caucus members have always seen tobacco money as a Faustian bargain and refused to take such donations, urging their colleagues to do likewise. One of them, John Lewis of Georgia, once told a reporter, “People are reluctant to criticize the giver, to bite the hand that feeds them.”

Last year the caucus unanimously supported legislation to finance the children’s health insurance program, Schip, with a 45-cent tax increase on tobacco products. Mr. Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sponsored the legislation. The caucus has sponsored college antismoking programs and smoking-cessation talks.

Ms. Kilpatrick, from Michigan, said the black caucus was drafting an amendment to the House tobacco regulation bill, possibly to call for a study of menthol. That is short of what some members had hoped for — a phase-out of menthol cigarettes.

Philip Morris declined to say whether the company would continue its support for the bill if menthol were banned.

Some supporters of the legislation in its current form argue that an outright ban on menthol may drive menthol smokers to contraband imported cigarettes.

The Bush administration opposes the tobacco legislation, saying it would do more harm than good by seeming to give an F.D.A. imprimatur to smoking. In the Senate, the issue is not expected to be taken up until after a House floor vote, which could come before the end of July.

Tobacco companies opposed to the legislation include Lorillard, maker of the leading menthol brand, Newport, the favorite of African-American smokers. The company, which says there is no scientific evidence that menthol is harmful, argues that the legislation’s marketing restrictions would place smaller companies at a competitive disadvantage against the giant, Philip Morris.source

China Surpasses U.S. in Number of Internet Users


Published: July 26, 2008

SHANGHAI — China said the number of Internet users in the country reached about 253 million last month, putting it ahead of the United States as the world’s biggest Internet market.

The estimate, based on a national phone survey and released on Thursday by the China Internet Network Information Center in Beijing, showed a powerful surge in Internet adoption in this country over the last few years, particularly among teenagers.

The number of Internet users jumped more than 50 percent, or by about 90 million people, during the last year, said the center, which operates under the government-controlled Chinese Academy of Sciences. The new estimate represents only about 19 percent of China’s population, underscoring the potential for growth.

By contrast, about 220 million Americans are online, or 70 percent of the population, according to the Nielsen Company. Japan and South Korea have similarly high percentages.

Political content on Web sites inside China is heavily censored, and foreign sites operating here have faced restrictions. But online gaming, blogs, and social networking and entertainment sites are extremely popular among young people in China.

The survey found that nearly 70 percent of China’s Internet users were 30 or younger, and that in the first half of this year, high school students were, by far, the fastest-growing segment of new users, accounting for 39 million of the 43 million new users in that period.

With Internet use booming, so is Web advertising. The investment firm Morgan Stanley says online advertising in China is growing by 60 to 70 percent a year, and forecasts that by the end of this year, it could be a $1.7 billion market.

China’s biggest Internet companies, including Baidu, Sina, Tencent and Alibaba, are thriving, and in many cases are outperforming the China-based operations of American Internet giants like Google, Yahoo and eBay.

One measure of the growth of the Internet here, and its social and entertainment functions, is the popularity of blogs.

The site of China’s most popular blogger, the actress Xu Jinglei, has attracted more than 174 million visitors over the last few years, according to Sina.com, the popular Web portal, which posts a live tally. According to Sina, 11 other bloggers have also attracted more than 100 million visitors in recent years.

While several organizations had projected that China would surpass the United States in Internet users this year, the new survey results were the first time a government agency had released figures showing China’s market to be larger than that of the United States. source

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