Doctor Reports 378 Dead in Sri Lanka
A government doctor in Sri Lanka’s war zone said Sunday that 378 civilians were killed and more than 1,100 wounded in the past day during intensive shelling of the tiny piece of land still controlled by Tamil rebels.
The Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tiger rebels traded accusations over who was responsible for the shelling, which the government doctor, V. Shanmugarajah, said was the worst carnage he had witnessed in the Sri Lankan military’s intensifying campaign to wipe out the rebels.
“We are doing the first aid and some surgeries as quickly as we can,” Dr. Shanmugarajah, who works from a field hospital in the combat zone, was quoted by The Associated Press as having said. “We are doing what is possible. The situation is overwhelming; nothing is within our control.”
Civilians trapped in the area have little food or potable water and only makeshift shelter, according to those who have managed to flee the combat zone. About 700 civilians escaped on Sunday alone, according to the military.
The Sri Lankan military has on at least two recent occasions declared that it would no longer use heavy weaponry against the Tigers, who are holding tens of thousands of civilians as human shields.
But skepticism over the government’s assertions has been publicly expressed by Western diplomats, including a recent high-level European delegation that unsuccessfully called for a pause in the fighting to allow civilians to escape.
In March, the United States accused the Sri Lankan government of breaking its promise to stop shelling areas where the civilians were being held. And Human Rights Watch said Saturday that the Sri Lankan military had “repeatedly struck hospitals in the northern Vanni region in indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks.”
“Patients, medical staff, aid workers and other witnesses have provided Human Rights Watch with information about at least 30 attacks on permanent and makeshift hospitals in the combat area since December,” the group said.
With territory controlled by the Tigers now down to just over 2 square miles, according to the Sri Lankan military, the government’s campaign has become as much as a propaganda war as a combat operation.
The Tigers, formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, declared a “unilateral cease-fire” two weeks ago. But they continue to hold civilians and fight government troops in sea and land battles. The government, for its part, declared April 27 that combat operations had “reached their conclusion.” It now describes its military campaign as a hostage rescue operation.
In a statement released Sunday, the military said radar systems had detected mortar fire coming from areas controlled by the Tigers.
“The L.T.T.E. terrorists carried out those attacks intentionally to tarnish the image of the security forces in the eyes of public nationally and internationally,” the military said.
These and other claims are difficult to verify because the government bans journalists from the area around the war zone and from refugee camps. On Sunday, the government deported three television journalists working for Britain’s Channel 4. News services reported from the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, that the journalists had been arrested Saturday for their reports on conditions in the refugee camps.
Nice going, mom! Right whales break birth record
The New England Aquarium said Friday that the birth surge breaks the old record of 31 and shows much improvement from 2000, when only one calf was born.
Each birthing season is important because right whales number fewer than 400 and are among the most endangered whales in the world.
Having a calf is no easy task for the 50-foot-long whales, who give birth off the Florida and Georgia coasts.
The moms travel nearly 1,000 miles down the East Coast to warmer waters for their babies, who weigh roughly 2,400 pounds at birth. And the moms can lose up to 30,000 pounds in the first year they are nursing.
Chinese too shy to say 'I love you'
Many Chinese people remain too shy to express love for their parents, a survey indicates.
China Daily reported Sunday that more than 74 percent of respondents said they knew their mothers' birthday, but just over 25 percent would like to actually tell her "I love you."
"This figure suggests mothers occupy an important place in most participants' mind. Yet, many people still find it 'embarrassing' to express their affection," the survey's organizer said.
The poll of about 6,000 people was conducted by Beijing-based recruitment Web site.
"I do love my mother deeply but I have never said 'I love you' that often. It just feels quite weird for me to say it to her in person," said Stella Wang, a 27-year-old office worker.
Hu Shoujun, a sociology professor from Shanghai's Fudan University said Chinese people are generally reserved.
"For Chinese, it's unnecessary and even regarded as 'weird' to display their affection for relatives and friends," Hu said.
Flight commander calls for fireproof bras (Im SORRY BUT its a news)
A Swedish helicopter fleet commander says his female crew members should be equipped with fireproof brassieres.
Group Captain Micael Byden says women are not being given the same safety consideration as men because the equipment furnished to them is not up to the standards of clothing designed with men in mind, the Swedish news agency TT reported Sunday.
"It is a question of basic safety," Byden told local newspaper Ostgota Correspondenten. "You can not have anything close to the body that can be set alight when you are flying."
TT reported that Byden also said he doubted if fireproof panties are being provided to female flyers, guessing they are probably being forced to serve while wearing male underwear.
The Claim: Tattoos Can Increase the Risk of Skin Cancer
As more and more Americans tattoo their bodies, some have wondered whether there may be a hidden risk (other than the risk of regretting the tattoo a few years down the road).
Many inks are made with metals; blue, for example, contains cobalt and aluminum, and red may contain mercury sulfide. That, along with the fact that tattooing can be traumatizing to the skin, prompted suspicion that tattoos might lead to skin cancer. Studies in recent years have documented a few cases of cancer at a tattoo site.
But Dr. Ariel Ostad, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, says that does not mean the tattoo caused the cancer. Indeed, he said, the ink is unlikely to do any harm because it is confined to cells in the skin called macrophages, whose job is to absorb foreign material.
More likely, he said, the tattoo was placed on an existing mole, making any changes in the mole hard to spot. Several case studies have dealt with melanomas that were overlooked because they arose from moles hidden by tattoos. Dr. Ostad says he is often asked whether tattoos can lead to cancer, and the answer “is unequivocally no.”
“But people should know that they should always leave a rim of healthy skin around a pre-existing mole.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
There is no evidence that tattoos lead to skin cancer.
Do a job or become a Patient
Even as the U.S. Labor Department released figures showing that the economy lost more than half a million jobs in April, researchers on Friday made public a large study with an unsettling finding: Losing your job may make you sick.
A researcher at the Harvard School of Public analyzed detailed employment and health data from 8,125 individuals surveyed in 1999, 2001 and 2003 by the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics.
Workers who lost a job through no fault of their own, she found, were twice as likely to report developing a new ailment like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease over the next year and a half, compared to people who were continuously employed.
Interestingly, the risk was just as high for those who found new jobs quickly as it was for those who remained unemployed.
Though it’s long been known that poor health and unemployment often go together, questions have lingered about whether unemployment triggers illness, or whether people in ill health are more likely to leave a job, be fired or laid off.
In an attempt to sort out this chicken-or-egg problem, the new study looked specifically at people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own — for example, because of a plant or business closure.
“I was looking at situations in which people lost their job for reasons that...shouldn’t have had anything to do with their health,” said author Kate W. Strully, an assistant professor of sociology at State University of New York in Albany, who did the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. “What happens isn’t reflecting a prior condition.”
Only 6 percent of people with steady jobs developed a new health condition during each survey period of about a year and a half, compared with 10 percent of those who had lost a job during the same period. It didn’t matter whether the laid off workers had found new employment; they still had a one in 10 chance of developing a new health condition, Dr. Strully found.
David Williams, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who was not involved in the research, said the study is a reminder that job loss and other life stressors have a tremendous impact on both mental and physical health and contribute to the development of chronic conditions.
"We know that stress affects health," said Dr. Williams, formerly director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. "It causes changes in physiological function in multiple ways, and it can lead to alterations in health behavior. People no longer exercise, they eat more, they drink more. People who smoke, smoke more on high stress days.”
“There is a lot of focus on the economic downturn, but there is not much attention being paid to the health consequences of the downturn,” he added. “This study shows that it does not take a long sustained period of unemployment to see health effects.”
Americans Lack Zeal For Probe of Bush-Era Interrogations
Americans seem to lack a strong appetite to investigate or prosecute people for interrogation methods used during the war on terror under the Bush administration, according to a new poll.
Forty-six percent of Americans were opposed to creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the interrogations of detainees who were captured during the war, said the Ipsos-McClatchy poll conducted April 30-May3. Forty-one percent favored such a commission, and 13 percent were unsure.
Similarly, 48 percent opposed prosecuting those who authorized the interrogations, with 43 percent saying prosecution would be justified, and 9 percent unsure.
Sixty-two percent opposed prosecuting the people who actually carried out the prosecutions authorized by others high in the government, while 30 percent favored prosecution, and 8 percent were unsure.
The poll was based on a survey of 1,004 adults nationwide and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.09 percentage points.
Nasa's most dangerous ever shuttle mission to fix Hubble Telescope due to blast off
Nasa is set to dispatch seven astronauts on its most dangerous ever shuttle mission as it attempts to rescue the $7 billion Hubble Space Telescope from meltdown.
Led by former US Navy fighter pilot Scott Altman, 49, a one-time stunt flier for actor Tom Cruise in the film Top Gun, the crew of Atlantis will repair and upgrade the orbiting observatory, risking a potentially deadly space-junk collision that could leave them stranded 350 miles above Earth.
The mission, which is costing Nasa $1.4 billion and is due to blast off from Florida tomorrow, is considered so perilous that it was once cancelled by space agency chiefs who feared that it could cost the astronauts their lives.
It was resurrected only after they agreed to place a second shuttle and crew on emergency standby, ready to blast into space to save their colleagues should a catastrophe occur. The move is unprecedented in the 28-year history of the shuttle fleet.
'It’s a belt-and-suspenders kind of approach - but when your suspenders fail, you’re glad to have the belt,' said Cdr Altman, who is due to launch with his crew from Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral tomorrow evening, returning in 11 days.
'I don’t know if I’ll be breathing comfortably until our wheels stop back at KSC,' he added. Should a rescue become necessary, it would provide the greatest space drama since the abortive Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970, say Nasa insiders, when three astronauts limped their crippled spacecraft home just hours from death, following an on-board explosion.
Among the greatest hazards facing Atlantis is the intense amount of space junk - such as broken satellites and dead rockets - that is cluttering the area where the shuttle will rendezvous with Hubble.
Shuttle flights usually only go to the International Space Station no more than 250 miles up - but at 350 miles, where Hubble flies, the hazards are far greater.
If Atlantis suffers damage, the crew would be marooned.
Hubble is considered the most valuable astronomical tool since Galileo first designed a telescope in the 17th century.
Since 1990, its high-precision lenses have peered deeper into space than any previous instrument, glimpsing back more than 13 billion years in time to provide scientists with breathtaking images of the cosmos under development, showing galaxies not long after they merged from the Big Bang.
Orbiting Earth 97,000 times and travelling around three billion miles, it has sent back nearly 600,000 photographs that have forced the rewriting of astronomy textbooks and unlocked some of the greatest mysteries of the universe.
On Wednesday Atlantis will catch up with the Hubble, where the astronauts will use the shuttle’s robotic arm to grapple it while both craft orbit Earth at 17,500mph. During five highly risky spacewalks, they will clamber aboard Hubble to repair and replace instruments contained inside, upgrading its capabilities and prolonging its life for another five years.
Without new cameras, gyroscopes and batteries, Hubble will otherwise burn out. But with the space shuttle fleet due to retire next year and its successor not due for completion until at least 2015, this is the last chance to fix its problems.
'The adrenalin is certainly pumping,' said Dr David Leckrone, Nasa’s senior Hubble scientist.
Astronaut John Grunsfeld likens the intricacy of the tasks he and his colleagues will perform to 'performing brain surgery in space.'
They will face major hurdles, such as unscrewing dozens of minute screws while wearing gloves five layers thick and removing razor-sharp circuit boards capable of piercing the $10 million spacesuits that keep them alive in the vacuum of space.
'I would consider this the climbing Mount Everest of spacewalking missions,' said Mr Grunsfeld, 51.
'The big unknowns are where we’re pushing the envelope further than its been done before in spaceflight…we’re trying some techniques that haven’t been done before.
'In training it’s been going very well…the only hesitation I have is that Hubble has a way of surprising us.' There have been previous servicing missions to the Hubble, but this will be the last – and the most risky.
'You could say "Oh it’s going to be a piece of cake, we’ve done this five times" - except on this mission we are going to be repairing instruments that were never designed to be repaired in orbit,' explained Ed Weiler, Nasa’s associate administrator for science missions.
He added: 'This is really going to be tough, the toughest servicing mission we have ever attempted.'
Nasa promises that, if successful, Atlantis’s mission will allow Hubble to once more 'push the boundaries of how deep in space and how far back in time humanity can see.'
Cdr Altman, who said: 'It’s going to be a busy time, it is challenging - and it’s going to be amazing.'
Nicolas Sarkozy chooses French Cup final over night with his wife
It is a dilemma with which many men are familiar: the football or the family? But when President Sarkozy let it be known he was to miss the French Cup final for an evening with Carla Bruni, his wife, it took on a new dimension.
As outrage greeted an announcement seen as an insult to tradition, to football and to Brittany, the region that provided the two finalists, Mr Sarkozy was forced to perform a last-minute U-turn.
He abandoned plans to spend the weekend with Ms Bruni at her family’s villa on the Côte d’Azur and returned to Paris in time to see the game and present the cup to Guingamp, the second-division side that beat Rennes, from the first division, 2-1 in the biggest Gallic cup upset for 50 years.
“I am passionate about football,” the head of state said as he tried to appease Breton anger. “It was important for me to be here.”
But by then the damage had largely been done. After travelling to southern France on Friday to pay homage to the soldiers from France’s African colonies who landed in Provence in August 1944 to open a second front against the Nazis, Mr Sarkozy stayed on under the Riviera sun.
Aides said that he wanted to spend Saturday in the nine-bedroom villa in Cap Nègre on the Côte d’Azur that belongs to his wife’s family before flying to meet Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in Berlin yesterday.
That meant breaking a tradition that dates from 1927, when Gaston Doumergue was the first French head of state to present the Coupe de France. Officials said that Bernard Laporte, the Sports Minister, would stand in for Mr Sarkozy.
But critics said that his planned absence highlighted his disdain for provincial France and for protocol. Le Télégramme de Brest, Brittany’s regional daily, said that the episode would damage relations between the Celtic region and head of state, who was born and brought up in an affluent Paris suburb and supports Paris Saint-Germain, the capital’s team.
It reminded readers that he was reported to have cut short a visit to Brittany during the 2007 presidential election campaign with the remark: “I don’t give a damn about Bretons.” Marilyse Lebranchu, a Breton opposition MP, said: “Either he’s on holiday and he should have said clearly, ‘I’m tired and I need time off’, or else there’s no major reason to miss the match and it’s shocking.”
She suggested that Mr Sarkozy was afraid of being booed and whistled, as he was during the French League Cup final between Bordeaux and Vannes.
In a sign that Mr Sarkozy is having to soften his headstrong character as the economic crisis bites into his popularity, he bowed to the pressure and gave up his Mediterranean evening with the supermodel-turned-singer who became his third wife last year.
Three hours before the final was due to start, he issued a statement to say that he would be at the Stade de France, forcing officials into a hasty rearrangement of the VIP seating. But he failed to uphold part of the presidential tradition by declining to shake players’ hands before the game.
Detractors said that he was concerned that his presence on the pitch would have provoked a chorus of boos from the fans.
Why are 30 percent AMERICANS Illiterate?????
For the first time, a detailed portrait of America's least literate adults is emerging. About 30 million people -- 14 percent of the US population 16 and older -- have trouble with basic reading and writing. Correlating factors that were explored in a new government report include poverty, ethnicity, native language background, and disabilities. Of these 30 million people, 7 million are considered "nonliterate" in English because their reading abilities are so low. When shown the label for an over-the-counter drug, for instance, many in this subgroup cannot read the word "adult" or a sentence explaining what to do in the event of an overdose.
Adult literacy "is a core social issue that if we could fix as a nation, we would make inroads into fixing many other social problems," says David Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy, an advocacy group based in Syracuse, NY "Low literacy levels are correlated with higher rates of crime, problems with navigating the healthcare system, problems with financial literacy. We know that some of the folks who signed subprime mortgages didn't understand what they were signing."
In the coming months, Congress is expected to retool and reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which includes a section to help fund adult literacy and basic education programs. Funding has steadily decreased in recent years, Mr. Harvey says. Since the original WIA in 1998, "we've had a radical change in the economy," he adds. "These folks who are on the lowest ends of the literacy scales are the first to lose their jobs ... Employers now require a higher level of reading, writing, math, and technology skills in order to do low-skilled jobs in America."
The government report, which was released Wednesday, looks at specific skills such as oral fluency (the ability to read out loud quickly and accurately) and decoding (the ability to break apart unfamiliar words and sound them out). It presents new analyses from a nationally representative survey conducted in 2003 by the US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
A main goal of the report is to shed light on the extent to which people's low-level reading is due to lack of basic skills such as decoding or to lack of vocabulary or comprehension. The findings suggest that a lack of basic reading skills is a key problem, says Sheida White, a project officer at NCES. "Teachers of adult basic education and other practitioners may [need to] provide diagnostic assessments to adults to see if they could benefit from explicit and systematic instruction in decoding and oral fluency," she said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Oral fluency is scored by the number of words read accurately per minute in word lists and longer passages. The average score among the general adult population is 98. By contrast, among the 30 million who have problems with basic literacy, 49 percent score below 60. Among the 7 million considered nonliterate, the average score is 34. As part of the government's study, people in the group of 7 million were given an alternative assessment: Interviewers asked them to read individual words or sentences they pointed to on everyday items. The interviewers could speak in Spanish to those who preferred it, but answers had to be given in English. The study treads in relatively new territory by interviewing people who primarily speak Spanish and getting more detail about their English literacy.
In this lowest-level, alternative-assessment group:
Language background clearly plays a role. Among those who spoke only English before starting school, 39 percent score below 60 in oral fluency. But among those who spoke Spanish before starting school, the percentage of slow readers is much higher: 72 percent.
Income and education are also correlated with literacy. People below the poverty line account for 58 percent of this group. Most have not obtained a high school diploma or GED.
Thirty-five percent of the English speakers and 12 percent of the Spanish speakers have disabilities (in categories such as learning, vision, and hearing).
Many community-based organizations that help adults learn English and improve their literacy report long waiting lists for their services. Yet there's still a stigma that makes some adults afraid to ask for help, says Harvey of ProLiteracy.
"We need anti-stigma campaigns like those in the public-health field," he says. He also urges a better continuum of local services so that when people do come forward, they don't get "bounced around."
ok i think thas all for today and sorry for the one day interruption i know that these news are too long but still are informative so plzzzz dont hmmmmm curse me if u dont like them
take carez and yeah '
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