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

Another health post. This one, however, is far from any conspiracy theories. It's all about staying healthy and fit. I hope you enjoy it.

  1. Antioxidant found in berries, other foods prevents UV skin damage that leads to wrinkles
  2. Walnuts may prevent breast cancer
  3. Human lung tumors destroy anti-cancer hormone vitamin D
  4. Savant skills may be widespread in people with autism
It doesn't need a lot of comment. I personally adore walnuts, they are delicious and make me happy even when I'm depressed. If they have such a good influence over breast cancer, I think it's safe that we all eat a little bit of walnuts (2 ounces =60gm) every day. It sure won't harm us.
I'm sure you'll figure out a moral for yourself from the other articles, I hope you enjoyed them.

By the way- you can always put some mashed berries on your face. It may not be as effective as the gel in the article, but then, better than nothing.

(and the last article for autistic savants is quite interesting, don't you think? There is a suspicion growing in me, that autists might be the next evolutionary step if we find a way to bring them back to reality)

Antioxidant found in berries, other foods prevents UV skin damage that leads to wrinkles

April 21st, 2009

Using a topical application of the antioxidant ellagic acid, researchers at Hallym University in the Republic of Korea markedly prevented collagen destruction and inflammatory response - major causes of wrinkles -- in both human skin cells and the sensitive skin of hairless mice following continuing exposure to UV-B, the sun's skin-damaging ultraviolet radioactive rays.

Ellagic is an antioxidant found in numerous fruits, vegetables and nuts, especially raspberries, strawberries, cranberries and pomegranates. Earlier studies have suggested it has a photoprotective effect.

The Kang laboratory found that, in human skin cells, ellagic acid worked to protect against UV damage by blocking production of MMP (matrix metalloproteinase enzymes that break down collagen in damaged ) and by reducing the expression of ICAM (a molecule involved in inflammation).

The scientists then turned to young (four weeks), male, hairless mice - genetically bred types of mice often used in dermatology studies because of the physiological similarities of their skin to that of humans. For eight weeks, the 12 mice were exposed to increasing , such as that found in sunlight, three times a week, beginning at a level sufficient to cause redness or sunburn and increasing to a level that would have definitely caused minor skin damage to .

During these eight weeks, half of the exposed mice were given daily 10 microM topical applications of ellagic acid on their skin surface, even on the days in which they did not receive UV exposure. The other mice, also exposed to UV light, did not receive ellagic acid. (Another six mice served as controls, with neither UV exposure nor ellagic acid.)

What happened? First, as expected, the mice exposed to UV radiation without the ellagic acid treatment developed wrinkles and thickening of the .

Second, as hypothesized, the exposed that received topical application of ellagic acid showed reduced wrinkle formation.

Third, as suggested in the study of human cells, the ellagic acid reduced inflammatory response and MMP secretion due to protection from the degradation of collagen. The ellagic acid also helped prevent an increase of epidermal thickness.source

Walnuts may prevent breast cancer

April 21st, 2009

Walnut consumption may provide the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols that reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to a study.

Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Marshall University School of Medicine, said that while her study was done with laboratory animals rather than humans, people should heed the recommendation to eat more walnuts.

"Walnuts are better than cookies, french fries or potato chips when you need a snack," said Hardman.

Hardman and colleagues studied mice that were fed a diet that they estimated was the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts per day. A separate group of mice were fed a control diet.

Standard testing showed that walnut consumption significantly decreased breast tumor incidence, the number of glands with a tumor and tumor size.

"These laboratory mice typically have 100 percent tumor incidence at five months; walnut consumption delayed those tumors by at least three weeks," said Hardman.

Molecular analysis showed that increased consumption of contributed to the decline in tumor incidence, but other parts of the walnut contributed as well. source

Human lung tumors destroy anti-cancer hormone vitamin D

April 20th, 2009

Human lung tumors have the ability to eliminate Vitamin D, a hormone with anti-cancer activity, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) suggests.

"High levels of help the body produce proteins with anti-tumor activity," explained principal investigator Pamela Hershberger, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in UPCI's Department of Pharmacology and . "We've discovered that cells make an enzyme called CYP24, which counteracts the positive effects of Vitamin D."

According to Dr. Hershberger, it is possible that one day Vitamin D could be used as a chemopreventive agent to improve patient outcomes. source

Savant skills may be widespread in people with autism

Savant-like skills, such as astounding memory, perfect pitch or the ability to multiply very high numbers together, may be much more common among people with autism than previously thought.

A new study of about 100 adults with autism shows that one third have skills that stand out, both in comparison with their other abilities and with the skills of the general population. Previous studies put the prevalence of savantism in autistic people as around 1 in 10.

The notion of the savant – someone who has a skill that is exceptional both compared to the general population and to that person's other skills – has long captured the imagination of cognitive scientists and the general public alike. But despite this fascination, the connection between autism and savantism remains mysterious.

In an attempt to quantify this, Howlin's team looked at two different measures of exceptional ability in a group of people with autism – all now adults – who the team have been studying periodically since they were first diagnosed between 1950 and 1985. They found that 39 met criteria for either what they call a "savant skill" or an "exceptional cognitive skill".

To identify savant skills, the researchers sent the parents of the autistic adults a questionnaire asking them to identify and describe, using specific examples, any outstanding skills and talents that were present "at a level that would be unusual even for normal people".

Of almost 100 parents who replied, about half (45) claimed that their child had a special skill. But only 24 met the researchers' tough criteria for what constitutes a savant skill: both exceptional in terms of population norms and above the individual's overall level of ability.

Among those skills considered at the savant level were: being able to name the elevation of both the sun and the moon at any time of day, on any specified date; being able to name the day of the week for any date in the distant past or future; perfect pitch; and the ability to say, from a single chord, which piece of music it came from.

To identify exceptional cognitive ability, Howlin's team also examined the volunteers' scores on standard intelligence tests consisting of a range of subtests aimed at different aspects of IQ, such as arithmetic, spatial and motor skills and memory span. They found that 23 had an ability on at least one of these subtests that was well above the general population's average score on that subtest.

Eight of these 23 had also been identified as a mathematical or calendrical savant according to the first criteria, and the team concludes that overall 28.5% – or almost one third – of their volunteers had either a savant skill or an exceptional cognitive ability. source

Monogamy- do we really know it?

A very fun article that is a nice continuation from my previous post on the rights of couples. We tend to take for granted the idea of monogamy, when in fact, this is hardly the rule in Nature. True, some animals, like penguins choose only one mate for their life, but other animals have more promiscuous attitude. In the end, the more, the merrier. Plus polygamy (on both males and females) increases the chances of having healthy generation.

But back to humans, I'm hardly a defender of monogamy. Yes, I am in relationship and I don't cheat. But it's only because I feel obliged to hold to my promise, not because of other reasons. And on more than one occasion, I have asked-why do we keep monogamy, when most people simply are not monogamous. Take all the men who have affairs-secretaries, summer jams, team buildings. Take all the women who have affairs with their neighbours, hubby-best-friends, waiters, bar tenders, surfers and so on. Or think about all the couples who exchange partners and do other crazy and sometimes even nasty stuff. I simply cannot understand why do we continue to defend monogamy, when we do all those stuff. The fact that we hide them and presumably nobody knows about them doesn't remove the significance of what we're doing. I cannot even trust myself to guess a number of the people who are not faithful to their relationship. And if everyone does it, why do we have to pretend we're monogamous? Admit you're not, find a person who support you and enjoy your life.

Seriously, who needs all those complications! Let's be honest with ourselves and with each other. And once we changed the society model, a great deal of pressure to lie will be removed. We will be really free. As for the consequences, we have enough ways to protect ourselves from pregnancy and disease. Note, I'm not talking about generous promiscuity of getting laid with everyone you see. It's not about this. It's about having meaningful relationships with other people. Let's be honest, people don't cheat only because of the sex. They do it, because something is missing. Once they stop lying, their partners will know what's wrong and will try to fix it. Or they will find another person to add to the harmony. Or something like that. I don't think there's a lot of benefit of having sex with many people. The real benefit is to have good, healthy relationship with your partner. And I think lies are really spoiling that relationship.

Another question is whether we're ready not to be lied. Or are we ready to tell ourselves the truth. But watching movies with weddings and all the nonsense "until death set us apart" -be realistic, in most cases people either divorce or find a way to cheat for free. Very few couples are really faithful to each other. I don't know what the key to success is, but I'm not sure if we have to count for success 30 years of marriage, 15 of which the husband had a lover and the wife-occasional affairs.

Rethinking monogamy in Western Canada

May 27th, 2009 By Geoff McMaster
( -- You hear it all the time, especially in debates concerning same-sex marriage and polygamy: The biggest threat to the social order is the breakdown of monogamous marriage.

It's often assumed that this pervasive institution and its inherent values are ancient, universal, natural and unassailable. But University of Alberta historian Sarah Carter says nothing could be further from the truth, as she demonstrates in The Importance of Being Monogamous: and Nation Building in Western Canada to 1915.

Carter argues that in North America monogamous marriage was not a dominant world view until late in the 19th century and, far from taking root organically, was deliberately imposed on the Canadian frontier as a means of social control.

"The marriage 'fortress' was established to guard our way of life," writes Carter in the introduction to her study, which recently received an Alberta Book Publishing Award for best scholarly and academic book and was co-published by University of Alberta Press.

"Indeed it was considered vital to defend the 'fortress' of Canadian marriage in North America against the pernicious, corrupt and immoral influence of the United States, where it was understood that the marriage tie was loose and lax.

"Politicians, social reformers and judges widely agreed that marriage was a sacred institution that supported the whole social fabric and was essential to peace, order and good government in Canada."

The problem was, however, that prairie First Nations people had lived with diverse forms of marriage-including monogamy, polygamy and same-sex marriage-for centuries, to happy and harmonious effect. Divorce was easily obtained, remarriage was common and accepted, and, as Carter discovered, almost everyone had a spouse except those who didn't want to be married. In fur-trader society, many Métis marriages also followed this more flexible pattern.

But in order to build a new nation in its own image, British colonizers used the Christian marriage model to "maintain the new settlers' social and sexual distance from the Aboriginal population," argues Carter in her illustrated and meticulously researched book.

"The monogamous white husband-and-wife team was to be the basic economic and social building block of the West. They were to help produce not only crops, but also the future 'race' of Canadians who would populate the West.

"The health and wealth of the new region, and that of the entire nation, was seen as dependent on the establishment of the Christian, monogamous and lifelong model of marriage and family-the 'white life for two.'"

After the second Riel rebellion, the Métis were considered an especially pernicious threat to this way of life. Rumours circulating in London of rampant traffic in Aboriginal women was seen as sufficient justification for the Department of Indian Affairs to intervene in First Nations marriages, mainly as a strategy for keeping women on the reserve and under the control of Aboriginal men.

"The marriages or alliances that had created the Métis were seen as at the root of the problem, so there was in all sorts of ways all kinds of factions came together to try and discredit and discourage Aboriginal women and these marriages," said Carter.

Indian Affairs had enormous power to dictate terms of marriage, sanctioning matches they liked and prohibiting ones they didn't, says Carter. If faced with a match they considered unsavory, they would put the girl in residential school to prevent her marriage, a practice which only encouraged Aboriginal families to marry off their girls at an earlier age.

While all of this seems far removed from contemporary life, Carter's study serves as an important reminder that the definition of marriage can never be taken for granted and is always a reflection of a particular time and place, subject to the manipulations and abuses of state power. source

Ok, two articles today, the first is very dramatic. I hope you read them, because I simply cannot understand how people could be so cruel when it comes to a death of a partner-straight or gay. I mean, it's not about being married. I'm probably not going to marry even though I have a serious boyfriend and I love him more than anything. I don't believe in marriage as an institution or as a ritual. I don't like the idea that the state may have anything to say in my heart-affair. It's only my business and I don't want to involve anyone else in it. So I totally can relate to what happens in the article. What if anyone of us was in similar position, even though we're straight? What if after 10 or 20 or 30 years I have to decide for my boyfriend or he for me? How this is going to happen?

I don't understand why people want to make it so hard for the rest of us to love each other and to live together. You want to marry? Ok. I don't mind. I don't care! But why should you impose to me your life-style? How could a hospital official, seeing the gravity of the situation, decline a visit to the partner and their children! I don't want to even imagine it, because I choke. It is so sad! I hope those people go to jail. I hope the hospitals are sued for a hilarious amount of money. Because this is what they deserve. Since when being anti-gay, or anti-sex-outside-marriage is an excuse to be a bad person? This is horrible. Absolutely horrible.

This article isn't really about gay and lesbian couples. It is about all the couples on that Earth that cannot or would not marry. Why should we be considered outsiders? Why should we fight for our rights? If it's not wrong to have different religion, why should it be wrong to have different marital status? Please, think carefully and make up your mind.

Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside

Published: May 18, 2009
When a loved one is in the hospital, you naturally want to be at the bedside. But what if the staff won’t allow it?

That’s what Janice Langbehn, a social worker in Lacey, Wash., says she experienced when her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, collapsed with an aneurysm during a Florida vacation and was taken to a Miami trauma center. She died there, at age 39, as Ms. Langbehn tried in vain to persuade hospital officials to let her visit, along with the couple’s adopted children.

“I have this deep sense of failure for not being at Lisa’s bedside when she died,” Ms. Langbehn said. “How I get over that I don’t know, or if I ever do.”

The case, now the subject of a federal lawsuit in Florida, is being watched by gay rights groups, which say same-sex partners often report being excluded from a patient’s room because they aren’t “real” family members.

And lawyers say the case could affect the way hospitals treat all patients with nonmarital relationships, including older people who choose not to marry, unmarried heterosexual couples and single people who rely on the support of close friends rather than relatives.

One point of contention in the lawsuit is whether a hospital has a legal duty to its patients to always give visiting rights to their designated family members and surrogates.

Robert Alonso, a spokesman for the public trust that runs the Miami hospital, Jackson Memorial, said it typically did not comment on pending litigation, but added that the hospital grants visitation if it doesn’t interfere with other emergency care. “The primary legal point is that the amount of visitation allowed in a trauma emergency room should be decided by the surgeons and nurses treating the patients,” he said. ....

In both cases, the couples had prepared for a medical emergency, creating living wills, advanced directives and power-of-attorney documents.

As recounted by Ms. Langbehn, the details of the Miami episode are harrowing. It began in February 2007, when the family — including three children, then ages 9, 11 and 13 — traveled there for a cruise. After boarding the ship, Ms. Pond collapsed while taking pictures of the children playing basketball.

The children managed to help her back to the family’s room. Fortunately, the ship was still docked, and an ambulance took Ms. Pond to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial. Ms. Langbehn and the children followed in a taxi, arriving around 3:30 p.m.

Ms. Langbehn says that a hospital social worker informed her that she was in an “antigay city and state” and that she would need a health care proxy to get information. (The worker denies having made the statement, Mr. Alonso said.) As the social worker turned to leave, Ms. Langbehn stopped him. “I said: ‘Wait a minute. I have those health care proxies,’ ” she said. She called a friend to fax the papers.

The medical chart shows that the documents arrived around 4:15 p.m., but nobody immediately spoke to Ms. Langbehn about Ms. Pond’s condition. During her eight-hour stay in the trauma unit waiting room, Ms. Langbehn says, she had two brief encounters with doctors. Around 5:20 a doctor sought her consent for a “brain monitor” but offered no update about the patient’s condition. Around 6:20, two doctors told her there was no hope for a recovery.

Despite repeated requests to see her partner, Ms. Langbehn says she was given just one five-minute visit, when a priest administered last rites. She says she continued to plead with a hospital worker that the children be allowed to see their mother, even showing the children’s birth certificates.

Ms. Langbehn says she was repeatedly told to keep waiting. Then, at 11:30 p.m., Ms. Pond’s sister arrived at the unit. According to the lawsuit, the hospital workers immediately told her that Ms. Pond had been moved an hour earlier to the intensive care unit and provided her room number.

At midnight, Ms. Langbehn says, her exhausted children were finally able to visit their unconscious mother. Ms. Pond was declared brain-dead at 10:45 that morning, and her heart, kidneys and liver were donated to four patients. source

Study shows gay couples want legal rights, regardless of marriage

June 1st, 2009

New research from North Carolina State University shows that gay and lesbian couples are forming long-term, committed relationships, even in the absence of the right to marry. However, couples surveyed for the study overwhelmingly said they would get married if they could in order to secure legal rights - such as retirement and healthcare benefits.

"Our study indicates that marriage is both more and less important to gay and lesbian couples in long-term relationships than was perhaps previously understood - more important in terms of the legal rights it conveys, but less important as a symbol of commitment," says study co-author Dr. Sinikka Elliott, an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at NC State. "This research underscores the need for legal protections and rights for all couples."

The study found that, because these gay and lesbian couples could not marry in their state, there was no defining moment demarcating when they became "committed" in their own eyes or in the eyes of others. Instead, their commitment revealed itself over time, with different people having different ideas as to when a relationship became "committed." Elliott explains that this shows there are multiple ways that couples can form lasting, committed relationships outside the institution of marriage.

"The majority of the couples in the study said they would get married in order to gain legal rights," Elliott says, "but downplayed the symbolic value of marriage, because they were already in stable, committed relationships." One respondent in the study said, "What [our ] means to us, in our hearts and in our heads, I don't think it would be any different" if we got married.

However, the same respondent added that getting married would make life easier, explaining, "as it is now, we have to go outside to get medical power of attorney...and so for the legality of things, I would like to marry."

The study also notes that societal trends continue to transform the meaning of marriage and cohabitation, for straight and gay couples, and calls for additional research to be done to evaluate what commitment and marriage mean for people in all social groups, including heterosexual couples. source

Another health post. Sorry if I don't comment too much, but it's quite a busy week and the next two will be the same.

  1. Tons of released drugs taint US water
  2. Benefit of aspirin for healthy people is uncertain
  3. Is Alzheimer's the result of a burnt-out brain?
  4. Study: 7 key genes predict brain cancer survival
So, in short, we're still in the field of health conspiracy. Note-tons of drugs are being released in the water in US (and probably everywhere else if people there have access to drugs). Although humans are the greatest polluters, companies are not far behind us. And as you can see, nobody monitors those pharmaceutical compounds, no one cleans the water from them and in the end, it all comes back to us. With our water, our food, even our showers. And then, we wonder why bacteria mutate and become resistant or viruses change. Well, guess why? Because people like to close their eyes when the questions become to tough to answer. I suggest that you read the whole article, I cut it a big deal, but I think it's very interesting.
And this is only the beginning. There is much more. Take the second article-the benefits from Aspirin intake. I remember my grandparents tool it both. My grandpa had 2 heart attacks, so I guess it was a good idea to drink it. But my grandma had an insult! A condition which according to the article increase the risk related to the use of Aspirin. Then why our G.P. didn't warn us about it. Why did she continue taking it if it was so risky! My guess is that the doctor simply didn't know. But why they didn't know, if it's so logical that Aspirin cannot be safe for everyone. Why this research hasn't been done before?
What I see is that we're all victims to a system that doesn't care about human life. It cares only about profit. That is perfectly ok with me, as long as the authorities controlled the situation and made sure proper research is being done on every pill they encourage us to take. I'm perfectly aware that when you're sick, you don't have a choice, you take everything with the hope it would help. That's why it's not a business of the patience to evaluate risks, this should be done by the people we pay - the government. Why they don't do it? Ask them.

As for the other articles are more fun, since they deal with science and not with politics and economics. I'm not going to comment them, all I can say is that one day, we're really going to have personalised health care. And this is the day when finally health care won't be about treating the sick, but about keeping us healthy. Because if you can monitor how your medicine affects you, you won't have to take stuff that won't help you. Yup, I'm a dreamer. But what's left! Remember, the pandemic is here. The swine flu is going to turn us all into swines and then we'll all be slaughtered! Just kidding. As long as the death rate is the same as that of normal flu, we're perfectly safe.

P.S. By the way, the article relating Alzheimer to brain burn-out is very interesting and I think it gives one more good reason why people should learn to meditate. It definitely gives you a nice way to relax the brain and save those precious neurons.

Tons of released drugs taint US water

April 20th, 2009 By JEFF DONN, MARTHA MENDOZA and JUSTIN PRITCHARD , Associated Press Writers
(AP) -- U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water - contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Hundreds of active pharmaceutical ingredients are used in a variety of manufacturing, including drugmaking: For example, lithium is used to make ceramics and treat bipolar disorder; nitroglycerin is a heart drug and also used in explosives; copper shows up in everything from pipes to .

Federal and industry officials say they don't know the extent to which pharmaceuticals are released by U.S. manufacturers because no one tracks them - as drugs. But a close analysis of 20 years of federal records found that, in fact, the government unintentionally keeps data on a few, allowing a glimpse of the pharmaceuticals coming from factories.

As part of its ongoing PharmaWater investigation about trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, AP identified 22 compounds that show up on two lists: the EPA monitors them as industrial chemicals that are released into rivers, lakes and other bodies of water under federal laws, while the classifies them as active pharmaceutical ingredients.

The data don't show precisely how much of the 271 million pounds comes from drugmakers versus other manufacturers; also, the figure is a massive undercount because of the limited federal government tracking.

To date, drugmakers have dismissed the suggestion that their manufacturing contributes significantly to what's being found in water. Federal drug and water regulators agree.

Last year, the AP reported that trace amounts of a wide range of pharmaceuticals - including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones - have been found in American drinking water supplies. Including recent findings in Dallas, Cleveland and Maryland's Prince George's and Montgomery counties, pharmaceuticals have been detected in the drinking water of at least 51 million Americans.

Most cities and water providers still do not test. Some scientists say that wherever researchers look, they will find pharma-tainted water.

Consumers are considered the biggest contributors to the contamination. We consume drugs, then excrete what our bodies don't absorb. Other times, we flush unused drugs down toilets. The AP also found that an estimated 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging are thrown away each year by hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Researchers have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of drugs harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species. Also, researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Some scientists say they are increasingly concerned that the consumption of combinations of many drugs, even in small amounts, could harm humans over decades.

Utilities say the water is safe. Scientists, doctors and the EPA say there are no confirmed human risks associated with consuming minute concentrations of drugs. But those experts also agree that dangers cannot be ruled out, especially given the emerging research.

FDA spokesman Christopher Kelly noted that his agency is not responsible for what comes out on the waste end of drug factories.

Pharmaceutical makers typically are excused from having to submit an environmental review for new products, and the FDA has never rejected a drug application based on potential environmental impact. source

Benefit of aspirin for healthy people is uncertain

May 29th, 2009
( -- A new study has shown that, while taking aspirin is beneficial in preventing heart attacks and strokes among people with established cardiovascular disease (secondary prevention), its benefits don’t clearly outweigh the risks in healthy people (primary prevention).

Researchers at the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford analysed data from a number of primary and secondary prevention trials that had compared long-term use against controls.

In the primary prevention trials, aspirin reduced the risk of a non-fatal heart attack by about one fifth. This corresponds to five fewer such episodes each year for every 10,000 people treated. This is offset by a comparable increase in bleeds with long-term aspirin use. One extra stroke is caused by bleeding and three extra gastrointestinal bleeds occur each year per 10,000 treated.

In the secondary prevention studies, aspirin reduced the risk of a serious vascular event (a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death) by about a fifth. But the risk of an event is much higher among people with established , so that there were 150 fewer such events each year for every 10,000 patients treated. This large benefit greatly exceeds the risk of bleeding.

In both sets of trials, the risk of a serious vascular event was reduced to a similar degree in both men and women.

Professor Colin Baigent, an MRC scientist who led the work at the Clinical Trial Service Unit, says: ‘The primary prevention trials were completed some years ago, when modern drugs such as statins were not widely available. Nowadays, primary prevention with statins and other drugs can safely half the risk of heart attacks and strokes.’

‘When aspirin is added to such drugs, the further reduction in serious vascular events is only about half as large as when it is used alone, but the bleeding risks will remain about the same. This has important implications when judging the likely effects of aspirin in practice.’ source

Is Alzheimer's the result of a burnt-out brain?

Healthy young adults carrying a gene variant that is a major risk factor for the disease seem to have extra activity in brain regions related to memory, even when their brains are at rest.

The gene APOE codes for a protein thought to help create, maintain and repair neuronal connections. One variant, epsilon 4, is considered the biggest risk factor for getting Alzheimer's, increasing your risk by up to 4 times if you have one copy and up to 12 if you have two. It is not known exactly how epsilon 4 ups the risk, but in people who carry it and have developed Alzheimer's, the hippocampus, which is involved in memory functions, is usually smaller.

To figure out if epsilon 4 influences brain function earlier on in life, Clare Mackay of the University of Oxford and colleagues at Imperial College London scanned the brains of 18 healthy adults with epsilon 4 and 18 controls who did not have the variant. In the scanner, the volunteers spent time performing memory tests and also doing nothing.

During the memory task, the epsilon 4 carriers had more activity in the hippocampus compared with controls, even though there was no difference in their performance on the tests, suggesting that their hippocampuses expend more energy to achieve the same result.

For the scans when the volunteers did nothing, the researchers focused on the default mode network, a series of connected sites throughout the brain that are active even when the volunteer is resting. Parts of the DMN found in the hippocampus were more active in the at-risk adults than in controls. "The fact that we got differences in the hippocampus is very exciting," says Mackay.

One way to interpret this is that epsilon 4 causes brain regions responsible for memory to get overworked early in life, prompting them to "burn out" with age and leading to Alzheimer's. However, it's impossible to tell whether the extra activity contributes to Alzheimer's symptoms later on or is just a sign of inefficient brain circuitry in the hippocampus. source

Study: 7 key genes predict brain cancer survival

July 14th, 2009 By CARLA K. JOHNSON , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- Scientists have found seven key genes in the type of brain tumor affecting Sen. Edward Kennedy that together can predict how aggressive a patient's cancer will be.

The findings, appearing in Wednesday's , may eventually lead to tests that predict patient survival and drugs that target the culprit .

While hundreds of gene mutations may contribute to brain cancers, the researchers decided to search for the problem genes at the center of the interplay driving a tumor's growth.

The researchers looked at the gene profiles of brain tumor samples from more than 500 cancer patients. Most of the patients had high-grade gliomas and some had glioblastomas, the deadliest type of .

The researchers examined the interactions among genes. They found 11 "hub" genes and dozens of "hub-interacting" genes intricately connected to one another by biological functions.

The status of seven of those genes predicted the patients' survival when the researchers looked at glioblastoma samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas project, a government-funded effort that's building on the mapping of the human genome.

A risk prediction could be calculated for a patient from a sample of tumor, Bredel said, adding that the science of estimating risk isn't exact.


The end of privacy, july, 2009

In a series of posts, I'll continue to look on the war for internet privacy. I hope that little by little, I'll manage to convince even the most sceptic among you that this is important issue to fight for. So, here we go.

  1. US mulls stiffer sentences for common Net proxies
  2. Obama Sides With RIAA, Supports $150,000 Fine per Music Track
  3. Whole-Body Scans Pass First Airport Tests
  4. China Requires Censorship Software on New PCs
  5. Privacy May Be a Victim in Cyberdefense Plan
  6. French Council Defangs Plan to Crack Down on Internet Piracy
And an interesting NY Times article on the same issue you can find here:Should Online Scofflaws Be Denied Web Access

I suggest that you skim trough the articles. I cut them so extensively, they're all only 3-4 paragraphs long. And I think they all are extremely interesting. What do they tell us?

There is a major and ever-growing desire in every government around the world to limit our Internet freedom! You don't have to be a genius to see it. It's not hard to explain it neither. Internet, globalisation, cheap flights, they all offer what no time offered-ease of movement, ease of access to global goods and ultimately, ease of criminal offences, terrorist activities and other dangers to our "prosperous" society. They have to be countered in some way, that's obvious. After all, we all expect that our credit card information should be safe in paypal, we can expect quality stuff on ebay and we all want our flights to be safe. The problem is that governments so far use old-fashioned ways to fight a totally new type of crimes. And in the moment when they figure they have to do it in a brand new way, they still prefer to account to the old type of civil rights. And obviously, this cannot happen.

We desperately need to create a new set of rights, which will reflect the new society we're living in. It's not enough that our mail is safe, today. Because we don't use mail anymore. We use email. Not that the mail was safe during any period, but I'm making an analogy here. Police still needs a court order to enter your house and to search trough your stuff. They still need an order to listen to your phone. Isn't it logical that the police should need the same court order to check your email or your blog or your facebook? We have to understand that the boundaries between the individual and the society are no longer the same-if before our house was our castle, today, we have even more. We have our online friends, we have our blogs, emails, we have our work email and our private account. We have so many ways to contact each other and to work and to have fun. The authorities MUST respect these new boundaries. And they have to break into your private space, they have to do it for a VERY good reason.

I know I have written this many times, but we have to realise the importance of the principle "innocent until proven guilty". This is one of the most important premises of the free society. i hear more and more often, police at home to say- "we have to be able to track internet activities and phones without court order, so that we can put criminals in jail". Is this how the police is supposed to work-to harass innocent people in order to eventually find someone who is guilty. If the authorities don't respect our civil rights, then we are all guilty. Do you want your private emails to be read? Do you want people to know how you talk to your children, your wife/husband, your mistress/lovers? Because if one person knows it, then if there is no control, there's is no guarantee who else will find out. I think it is very very important to understand that people with power tend to abuse it, if they are not properly controlled. It happens everywhere. The problem is not in people, it's in power itself. And as long as there are no adequate procedures to be followed in such cases, you can be absolutely sure that problems will follow.

Imagine the simple example with my country-if the police has the right to monitor all emails without an order and thus without the need to account to someone, to ask permissions and so on, they can and will monitor corporative emails. These emails could and would include corporative secrets. If a police in a hard financial situation can, s/he will sell this information to the concurrence. How could a company ever prove and sue over this information the police? Who it can sue when nobody knows who monitored those emails. This is an example and you can happily extrapolate it to your own country. It's not about people being inherently bad or good. People are people, they tend to make mistakes, especially when they are in hard situations. The question is how we, as a society, should limit their ability to make mistakes.

For example, take article number 3- airports plan to use machines that make full-body scans instead of the metal detectors. The key moment here is that there is no software that could decide whether your body is ok or not, they have to use people. So, the machine will give you an X-Ray scan and provide an image of your naked body, which a person, somewhere in the airport will have to look at, make a careful examination and decide if it's ok. The problem comes from a) someone is going to look at your naked body without your permission b) someone can store this information for later reference c) someone could release the same information in youtube d) all other nasty stuff I cannot figure out yet. For me, the major problem is a). Because your body is your property. They don't have the right to strip search you just for the fun of it-they have to have a reason. And this image will do just that. It's not about concealing something, it's about showing it only when you want to do it. They rob you from one of your major rights-the right over your body. They will be able to see every imperfection, every scar. Do you want that? I don't want it. Can you imagine, police pulling you out, because the machine saw your tampon and decided you hid explosives in your vagina?Can you even imagine the humiliation of pulling the stuff out to prove you don't hide anything!

Here is where the new regulations should have come in force. We have to set the new boundaries in a way that will prevent humiliation and denial of basic rights. We have to say No to naked scans, No to email reading, No to phone listening, No to new ids with biometrics. We have to decide what we're willing to give up in order to secure our life. Because don't fool yourself-criminals will find a way to evade every odd measure you approve. But decent citizens won't have that opportunity. In the end, we'll be the victims of our own security.

I don't want ANYONE to track my internet activity, to check what sites I visit, what I do or say there, what kind of porn I prefer or what are my political views without my explicit consent. If and when I commit a crime, then the police may invade my privacy rights. Not before that!

And you can be sure, that if you have a firm position on your rights, police will find a way to work without offending your rights. Technology permits it! If you can have a nude scan, you can have a explosive search in other ways. You just have to request it!


US mulls stiffer sentences for common Net proxies

April 14th, 2009 By JORDAN ROBERTSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- "Proxy" servers are an everyday part of Internet surfing. But using one in a crime could soon lead to more time in the clink.

A key vote Wednesday on new federal sentencing guidelines would classify the use of proxies as evidence of "sophistication," increasing sentences by about 25 percent - which could mean years or even decades longer behind bars, depending on the crime. It's akin to judges handing down stiffer sentences when a gun is used in a robbery.

Yet digital-rights advocates are worried. Although they aren't absolving criminals, they complain that the proposal is so broad, it could lead to unnecessarily harsh sentences for tech neophytes who didn't know they were using proxies in the first place or who were simply engaging in a practice often encouraged as a safer way of using the Internet.

Proxies are computers that sit between a user and the Internet at large. They can be used to disguise that person's numeric Internet Protocol address, which is akin to a street address for a computer. Proxies are scattered around the Internet and are routinely used to relay , often unbeknownst to Internet users."

If the commission approves it, the change takes effect Nov. 1 unless Congress takes the rare step of blocking it beforehand.

The Justice Department pushed for the change as a way to exact a harsher punishment on criminals who set up extensive proxy networks in multiple countries to evade law enforcement. Investigators can spend months, if not years, unraveling the networks. Sometimes, it's impossible if they can't get cooperation from foreign governments.source

Obama Sides With RIAA, Supports $150,000 Fine per Music Track

By David KravetsMarch 23, 2009

The Obama administration for the first time is weighing in on a Recording Industry Association of America file sharing lawsuit and is supporting hefty awards of as much as $150,000 per purloined music track.

The government said the damages range of $750 to $150,000 per violation of the Copyright Act was warranted.

The position -- that the Copyright Act's monetary damages are not unconstitutionally excessive -- mirrors the one taken by the Bush administration and should come as no surprise.

Two top lawyers in President Barack Obama's Justice Department are former RIAA lawyers: Donald Verrilli Jr. is the associate deputy attorney general who brought down Grokster and fought to prevent a retrial in the Jammie Thomas case. Then there's the No. 2 in the DOJ, Tom Perrilli. As Verrilli's former boss, Perrilli argued in 2002 that internet service providers should release customer information to the RIAA even without a court subpoena.

Still, parts of the government's brief sounded as if it was taken from the RIAA's public relations playbook.

The RIAA has sued more than 30,000 individuals for file sharing the last five years. It is winding down the campaign and is lobbying internet service providers to discontinue service to copyright scofflaws. source

Whole-Body Scans Pass First Airport Tests

Published: April 6, 2009

IN a shift, the Transportation Security Administration plans to replace the walk-through metal detectors at airport checkpoints with whole-body imaging machines — the kind that provide an image of the naked body.

Initially, the machines were supposed to be used only on passengers who set off the metal detectors, to provide them with an option to the customary secondary physical pat-downs and inspections by electronic wand.

But Robin Kane, the agency’s acting chief technology officer, said that the initial results from pilot tests at some checkpoints at 19 airports in the United States had been so good that the idea of using the machines as the standard checkpoint detectors made sense. Those results included, he said, positive feedback from passengers.

The plan now is that all passengers will “go through the whole-body imager instead of the walk-through metal detector,” he said.

Still, the use of the equipment has its critics. Bruce Schneier, a security technology consultant, said the body-imaging machines are the equivalent of “a physically invasive strip-search.”

As to the question of additional X-ray exposure, the agency said the machines emit X-ray doses “equivalent to the ambient radiation received in two minutes of airplane flight.”

In interviews, agency officials stressed that the technology remained in a test phase.

The machines will cost about $100,000 to $170,000 each, depending on the model.

It is far less clear what the reaction will be once people realize they will be asked to pose in a machine that transmits a naked body image to a screener who, the agency says, is in a “remote location” and “unable to associate the image with the passenger being screened.”

In the airports where the whole-body imaging machines are being tested, less than 2 percent of passengers presented with the option of using them are choosing not to, Mr. Kane said.

Mr. Kane said that the machines, in tests, have moved people through at about the same rate as the metal detectors.

The agency says that the images can be adjusted to distort faces and private body parts. The images, which have been described as photolike, will not be stored, and current machines do not have the capability to do so, Ms. Payne said.

Mr. Schneier said he was not so sure. “How do we know they’re not going to be storing those images?” he asked. “We’re taking their word for it.” source

China Requires Censorship Software on New PCs

Published: June 8, 2009
BEIJING — China has issued a sweeping directive requiring all personal computers sold in the country to include sophisticated software that can filter out pornography and other “unhealthy information” from the Internet.

The software, which manufacturers must install on all new PCs starting July 1, would allow the government to regularly update computers with an ever-changing list of banned Web sites.

The rules, issued last month, ratchet up Internet restrictions that are already among the most stringent in the world.

But free-speech advocates say they fear the new software could make it even more difficult for China’s 300 million Internet users to obtain uncensored news and information.

Called Green Dam the software is designed to filter out sexually explicit images and words, according to the company that designed it. Computer experts, however, warn that once installed, the software could be directed to block all manner of content or allow the government to monitor Internet use and collect personal information.

This is not the first time that foreign companies have been enlisted in government efforts to police the Internet. Google already removes politically forbidden results yielded by its popular search engine, Microsoft allows censors to block content on its blog service, and Yahoo was widely criticized for turning over information that was used to jail a journalist.

The software will be provided free, paid for by the government, and according to the official Green Dam Web site, it has already been downloaded 3.2 million times. That figure includes thousands of schools that were required to install the software by the end of May. The site claims that Chinese manufacturers, including Lenovo, Inspur and Hedy, have already agreed to install 52 million copies of the software on new computers.

Even beyond ethical concerns, those who have tested the new software describe it as technically flawed. An American software engineer said it led machines to crash frequently. Others worry that it could leave tens of millions of computers vulnerable to hackers. So far, at least, there is no version for the Linux operating system and for Apple’s Macintosh system.source

Privacy May Be a Victim in Cyberdefense Plan

Published: June 12, 2009
WASHINGTON — A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries’ computer networks.

President Obama has said that the new cyberdefense strategy he unveiled last month will provide protections for personal privacy and civil liberties. But senior Pentagon and military officials say that Mr. Obama’s assurances may be challenging to guarantee in practice, particularly in trying to monitor the thousands of daily attacks on security systems in the United States that have set off a race to develop better cyberweapons.

Much of the new military command’s work is expected to be carried out by the National Security Agency, whose role in intercepting the domestic end of international calls and e-mail messages after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, under secret orders issued by the Bush administration, has already generated intense controversy.

There is simply no way, the officials say, to effectively conduct computer operations without entering networks inside the United States, where the military is prohibited from operating, or traveling electronic paths through countries that are not themselves American targets.

The cybersecurity effort, Mr. Obama said at the White House last month, “will not — I repeat, will not — include monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.”

Some administration officials have begun to discuss whether laws or regulations must be changed to allow law enforcement, the military or intelligence agencies greater access to networks or Internet providers when significant evidence of a national security threat was found.

Ms. Leed said that while the Defense Department and related intelligence agencies were the only organizations that had the ability to protect against such cyberattacks, “they are not the best suited, from a civil liberties perspective, to take on that responsibility.” source

French Council Defangs Plan to Crack Down on Internet Piracy

Published: June 10, 2009
PARIS — The highest constitutional body in France on Wednesday defanged the government’s plan to cut off the Internet connections of digital pirates, saying the authorities had no right to do so without obtaining court approval.

The decision, by the Constitutional Council, which reviews legislation approved by Parliament before it goes into effect, is a major setback for the music and movie industries, which had praised the French law as a model solution to the problem of illegal file-sharing.

The council rejected the core portion of the measure, under which a newly created agency, acting on the recommendations of copyright owners, would have been able to order Internet service providers to shut down the accounts of copyright cheats who ignored two warnings to stop.

The council said the proposal was contrary to French constitutional principles, like the presumption of innocence and freedom of speech. The latter right “implies today, considering the development of the Internet, and its importance for the participation in democratic life and the expression of ideas and opinions, the online public’s freedom to access these communication services,” the council said.source

What about the Uighurs?

Let's get back a couple of weeks. During the Iran post-election chaos, the international media were FULL with reports of the events in Iran. Twitter was all about Iran and helping the protesters. Everyone was very worried about democracy and life of innocent Iranian citizens!

Just two-three days ago (time difference really confuses me about dates), citizens in another country were killed and oppressed. Yet, I see very little coverage, very distant voices. Twitter is almost quite. I ask myself, what's going on? Why Iranian people are more important than Chinese Uighurs (Uyghurs)? Have you heard about the killed protesters in China? Probably yes. Then why everyone is so QUITE! That's a shame.

And if you read the comments on the articles I pasted in short here (if you wonder why I do that and do not only provide links, it's because sometimes articles disappear, I don't want to refer to missing content), you'll see that for people the Uyghurs( Uighurs) are the enemy, only because they are Muslim. What's even worst, for many people, Uighurs are Turks and thus linking them to Turkey! That is SO wrong. If you check the Wikipedia page on them, you'll stay with the impression that those people have some links to modern Turkey. They do not. No more than modern Bulgarians (or Bulgars) have links to Turkey. Turks are a vastly not understood tribes. They cover extremely big area and have so many differences. And what's even worst, they share a lot of historical cheating and disinformation. Just as the article on Huns I recently posted in TTFWL.

Modern Turkey is a huge mess of tribes and people, because during its Ottoman ages, people were massively dislocated, but all of them had to learn the language of Ottomans in order to survive in the Empire. However, that doesn't mean they became Turks-and note, Turks is a term referring to a language similarity.

From my point of view, if you seek a connection with certain tribe, you have to have a genetic connection with them. The language is too superficial (or complicated) - many countries share similar languages-like all the Slavic (Slavonic) countries, but they do not share any genetic connections - like what does Poland has to do with Bulgaria-our languages are from the same family, but genetically, we have only 14% in common with them. Bulgaria and Russia, on the other side, share the same 14% in common, but have much more complicated relationship, but still, as tribes, we're very different.

My point is-language cannot be the reason to connect modern Turkey with Altai or the Uighurs! If we could make a genetic test on say 40% of the populations of all those regions, I bet that Altai would match Uighurs (both are very isolated societies, so there shouldn't be differencies), maybe also part of Kazakhstan, Tatarstan and Kabardino-Balkaria. On the contrary they won't match Turkey at all. Of course, I could continues my thinking here to its logical end, but as I said the past of the Turks and especially some of them is covered with many lies. The Bulgars came from that region, but I'm not so convinced what this imply. What's even more, I don't seek political complications-I don't care which modern country will govern those people and regions-that's their own business and choice. However, I cannot stand the current efforts to once again steal the history and to call Uighurs part of Turkey. They are not part of Turkey. They are part of ancient tribes that had extremely interesting and rich history, that has nothing to do with modern Turkey. Because during the Russian-Ottoman war, the same Turks raised money and sent soldiers to help Bulgaria and Russia, not the Ottoman Empire. They were on our side, despite the fact we are not Muslim like them.

So, please, stop deforming the past. It cannot be changed, then why you always try to distort it. The past will be known and the Truth will emerge eventually. Genetic testing will become more and more common and you cannot hide the gens. Sooner or later, everything will be known.

As for China and the Uyghurs, I'd like to ask the very reasonable question-does the media silence in USA have anything to do with the fact that China is the lender of major part of the US debt? Or with the fact that China produces almost everything we use? Isn't it hypocrisy to claim you care about Iranian life, when all you care is what you could eventually get out of the Iranian new rulers, and in the same time, to be quite on the issue of freedom in your beloved partner China. On the other side, I can think of at least one other partner who is always under the no-question-asked directive.

  • Clashes in China Shed Light on Ethnic Divide
  • In Latest Upheaval, China Applies New Strategies to Control Flow of Information
  • China Locks Down Restive Region After Deadly Clashes

Clashes in China Shed Light on Ethnic Divide

URUMQI, China — Some women glared through their black veils at the paramilitary troops encircling them. Others held identity cards of missing relatives in the air. Fists raised, tears in their eyes, they demanded the release of sons and husbands seized by the police after Muslim Uighurs rioted in this western regional capital days earlier.

And as the group of several hundred Uighur women beseeched journalists on a government-sponsored tour here on Tuesday, they gave voice to broader concerns at the heart of the deadliest ethnic violence to strike China in decades.

“They don’t respect our lifestyle,” said one woman, a 26-year-old who gave her name as Guli. “We want our dignity. We just want fairness, and we want equality.”

A wide variety of government policies here in the western desert region of Xinjiang, a lightly populated area that covers about a sixth of China’s total landmass, has for years led many of the area’s 10 million Uighurs to believe their culture and livelihoods were under assault by the Han Chinese, the dominant ethnic group in China, according to local residents, foreign scholars and recent studies of the area.

The policies include limits on religious practice, the phasing out of Uighur-language instruction in schools and the reinforcement of better economic opportunities for the Han, from businesspeople to migrant workers.

Uighurs are the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang, but Han migration, encouraged in part by government incentives, is quickly changing the demographics here: census figures show that Han made up 40 percent of the population in 2000, a huge leap over the 6 percent in 1949. Under the Chinese Communist Party, Han have always held the power in Xinjiang. Wang Lequan, the party secretary of the region, is a Han whose hard-line policies have inspired systems of control in other ethnic minority regions of China, including Tibet.

That dynamic may have laid the foundation for the riot on Sunday in which 156 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured when angry Uighurs attacked Han civilians and battled with security forces across the city. Government officials declined Tuesday to give an ethnic breakdown of the dead. The riot began as a protest over government handling of a brawl between Uighur and Han factory workers in southern China.

On Tuesday afternoon, thousands of Han Chinese armed with sticks, shovels, pipes and meat cleavers tried to march to the Uighur quarter to exact revenge for those Han civilians who were killed on Sunday. Paramilitary troops fired tear gas at the mob, but not before the first wave got into a brick-throwing battle with Uighurs perched on rooftops near Erdaoqiao Market, where the rioting began on Sunday.

Many Han Chinese say the Uighurs, like China’s 55 other ethnic minorities, actually enjoy generous advantages under government policies. Uighur women, for example, can give birth to more than one child without having to pay a fine, unlike the Han. Uighur students have extra points added to their scores when taking the standardized tests that determine university placement.

But on issues that go to the heart of Uighur identity, the government takes a strict line, many Uighurs say.

The vast majority of Uighurs are Sunni Muslims, but the practice of Islam is tightly circumscribed. Government workers are not allowed to practice the religion. Imams cannot teach the Koran in private, and study of Arabic is allowed only at designated government schools. Two of Islam’s five pillars — the sacred fasting month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj — are also closely managed: students and government workers are compelled to eat during Ramadan, and passports of Uighurs have been confiscated to force them to join official hajj tours.

On Tuesday, Abudurehepu, a religious leader in Xinjiang who supports the government, said at a news conference here that “our religious freedom is respected,” noting that Xinjiang had more than 2,000 mosques.

He also said that “the party and the government have been doing very well on ethnic policy, like having Uighur kids going to Uighur-language schools.”

Chinese officials deny that government policies contribute to ethnic unrest. They place blame for the tensions on outside figures like the Dalai Lama or, in the case of the latest Xinjiang riots, Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman and former political prisoner who lives in Washington. source

In Latest Upheaval, China Applies New Strategies to Control Flow of Information

Published: July 6, 2009
BEIJING — In the wake of Sunday’s deadly riots in its western region of Xinjiang, China’s central government took all the usual steps to enshrine its version of events as received wisdom: it crippled Internet service; blocked Twitter’s micro-blogs; purged search engines of unapproved references to the violence; saturated the Chinese media with the state-sanctioned story.

It also took one most unusual step: Hours after troops quelled the protests, in which 156 people were reported killed, the state invited foreign journalists on an official trip to Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital and the site of the unrest, “to know better about the riots.” Indeed, it set up a media center at a downtown hotel — with a hefty discount on rooms — to keep arriving reporters abreast of events.

It is a far cry from Beijing’s reaction 11 years ago to ethnic violence elsewhere in Xinjiang, when officials sealed off an entire city and refused to say what happened or how many people had died. And it reflects lessons learned from the military crackdown in Tibet 17 months ago. While foreign reporters were banned from Tibet, then and now, Chinese authorities rallied domestic support by blaming outside agitators, but were widely condemned overseas.

As the Internet and other media raise new challenges to China’s version of the truth, China is finding new ways not just to suppress bad news at the source, but also to spin whatever unflattering tidbits escape its control.

Cellphone videos posted during the Tibet unrest led the government to block YouTube then, a tactic repeated in advance of the Tiananmen Square anniversary last month. YouTube remained blocked this week. Officials are systematically tearing down satellite dishes across the region, eliminating uncensored foreign television and radio broadcasts.

In Urumqi this week, the official response to one of the most violent riots in decades has taken two divergent paths. Internally, censors tightly controlled media coverage of the unrest and sought to disable the social networks that opponents might use to organize more demonstrations. Cellphone calls to Urumqi and nearby areas have largely been blocked. Twitter was shut down nationwide at midday Monday; a Chinese equivalent, Fanfou, was running, but Urumqi-related searches were blocked.

Chinese search engines no longer give replies for searches related to the violence. Results of a Google search on Monday for “Xinjiang rioting” turned up many links that had already been deleted on such well-trafficked Chinese Internet forums as Mop and Tianya.

State television has focused primarily, though not totally, on scenes of violence directed against China’s ethnic Han majority. Chinese news Web sites carry official accounts of the unrest, but readers are generally blocked from posting comments.

As in Tibet, blame for the violence has been aimed at outside agitators bent on splitting China — in this case, the World Uighur Congress, an exile group whose president, Rebiya Kadeer, is a Uighur businesswoman now living in Washington.

State news agency reports assert that Chinese authorities have intercepted telephone conversations linking Ms. Kadeer to the protests. The exile group has condemned the violence and denies any role in fomenting it.

In Urumqi, journalists were told that they could not conduct interviews on their own, away from government minders. Other details beyond approved news reports were scant. source

China Locks Down Restive Region After Deadly Clashes

Published: July 6, 2009
URUMQI, China — The Chinese government locked down this regional capital of 2.3 million people and other cities across its western desert region on Monday and early Tuesday, imposing curfews, cutting off cellphone and Internet services and sending armed police officers into neighborhoods after clashes erupted here on Sunday evening between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. The fighting left at least 156 people dead and more than 1,000 injured, according to the state news agency.

But hundreds of Uighur protesters defied the police again on Tuesday morning, crashing a state-run tour of the riot scene for foreign and Chinese journalists. A wailing crowd of women, joined later by scores of Uighur men, marched down a wide avenue with raised fists and tearfully demanded that the police release Uighur men who they said had been seized from their homes after the violence. Some women waved the identification cards of men who had been detained.

As journalists watched, the demonstrators smashed the windshield of a police car and several police officers drew their pistols before the entire crowd was encircled by officers and paramilitary troops in riot gear.

The confrontation later ebbed to a tense standoff between about 100 protesters, mostly women, some carrying infants, and riot police in black body armor and helmets, tear-gas launchers at the ready, in a Uighur neighborhood pocked with burned-out homes and an automobile sales lot torched during the Sunday riots.

The fighting on Sunday was the deadliest episode of ethnic violence in China in decades. The bloodshed here, along with the Tibetan uprising last year, shows the extent of racial hostility that still pervades much of western China, fueled partly by economic disparity and by government attempts to restrict religious and political activity by minority groups.

The rioting, which began as a peaceful protest calling for a full government inquiry into an earlier brawl between Uighurs and Han Chinese at a factory in southern China, took place in the heart of Xinjiang, an oil-rich desert region where Uighurs are the largest ethnic group but are ruled by the Han, the dominant ethnic group in the country.

Protests spread Monday to the heavily guarded town of Kashgar, on China’s western border, as 200 to 300 people chanting “God is great” and “Release the people” confronted riot police officers about 5:30 p.m. in front of the city’s yellow-walled Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China. They quickly dispersed when officers began arresting people, one resident said.

Internet social platforms and chat programs appeared to have unified Uighurs in anger over the way Chinese officials had handled the earlier brawl, which took place in late June thousands of miles away in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province. There, Han workers rampaged through a Uighur dormitory, killing at least two Uighurs and injuring many others, according to the state news agency, Xinhua. Police officers later arrested a resentful former factory worker who had ignited the fight by spreading a rumor that six Uighur men had raped two Han women at the site, Xinhua reported.

But photographs that appeared online after the battle showed people standing around a pile of corpses, leading many Uighurs to believe that the government was playing down the number of dead Uighurs. One Uighur student said the photographs began showing up on many Web sites about one week ago. Government censors repeatedly tried to delete them, but to no avail, he said.

A call for protests spread on Web sites and QQ, the most popular instant-messaging program in China, despite government efforts to block online discussion of the feud.

By Tuesday morning, more than 36 hours after the start of the protest, the police had detained more than 1,400 suspects, according to Xinhua. More than 200 shops and 14 homes had been destroyed in Urumqi, and 261 motor vehicles, mostly buses, had been burned, Xinhua reported, citing Liu Yaohua, the regional police chief.

Police officers operated checkpoints on roads throughout Xinjiang on Monday. People at major hotels said they had no Internet access. Most people in the city could not use cellphones.

At the local airport, five scrawny, young men wearing black, bulletproof vests and helmets stood outside the terminal, holding batons. The roadways leading into the city center were empty early on Tuesday, except for parked squad cars and clusters of armored personnel carriers and olive military trucks brimming with paramilitary troops. An all-night curfew had been imposed.

Residents described the central bazaar in the Uighur enclave, where much of the rioting took place, as littered with the charred hulks of buses and cars. An American teacher in Urumqi, Adam Grode, and another foreigner said they had heard gunfire long after nightfall Sunday.

Xinhua did not give a breakdown of the 156 deaths, and it was unclear how many of them were protesters and how many were other civilians or police officers. There were no independent estimates of the number of the death toll. At least 1,000 people were described as having protested.

Photographs online and video on state television showed injured people lying in the streets, not far from overturned vehicles that had been set ablaze. Government officials gave journalists in Urumqi a disc with a video showing bodies strewn in the streets.

Uighurs make up about half of the 20 million people in Xinjiang but are a minority in Urumqi, where Han Chinese dominate. The Chinese government has encouraged Han migration to many parts of Xinjiang, and Uighurs say that the Han tend to get the better jobs in Urumqi. The government also maintains tight control on the practice of Islam, which many Uighurs cite as a source of frustration. source

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