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Friday, May 26th

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West Bank farce: Palestinian 'settlement' plan

Under the the Oslo Peace Accords signed in 1994, Israel has full control of about 60% of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians have full control and building rights in only a small proportion of the territory, about 17% of the total. The Oslo accords were only meant to be temporary, but their provisions have lasted 16 years. And therein lies a big problem with the Rawabi proposals.

The Palestinians control the land on which Rawabi will be built, but not the area through which its access road will have to go. Israel has yet to grant permission for the road, which will be essential for the project to succeed. At the moment, the only way to access the site is via a narrow and bumpy back road.

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Throw the Bible in the trash

Seriously, the Bible has caused more horror and trauma on this planet than any other text in history. The Koran, obviously, comes in a close second - although it's right up there neck and neck as concerns body count, some 250 million allegedly murdered in the name of Christianity, while some 270 million are claimed to have been killed in the name of Islam. As concerns looking at the Bible as some sort of "moral guide" from the very finger of God, it's time to toss the whole shebang into the circular file, the trash heap, the dustbin of history.

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Is the Person Exposing You to Radiation Qualified?

Every day in the United States, tens of thousands of patients are exposed to ionizing radiation through radiation therapy, CT scans, x rays, mammograms, and other medical imaging and therapeutic procedures. Patients need to have confidence that the technologists caring for them have the credentials and qualifications to safely administer radiation, and that the equipment they are using is properly calibrated and maintained to deliver radiation safely and within the proper dose parameters.

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Ahmed Chalabi's renewed influence in Iraq concerns U.S.

Ahmed Chalabi, the onetime U.S. ally, is in the limelight again, and his actions are proving no less controversial than they did years ago.

On the eve of Iraq's parliamentary elections, Chalabi is driving an effort aimed at weeding out candidates tied to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Chalabi is reprising a role he played after the U.S.-led invasion -- which many critics believe he helped facilitate with faulty intelligence -- and, in the process, is infuriating American officials and some Iraqis, who suspect his motive is to bolster his own political bloc.

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Inquiry sought into disappearance of e-mails in interrogations case

Senior Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups demanded Friday that the Justice Department investigate the disappearance of e-mail messages written by Bush administration lawyers who drafted memos blessing harsh interrogation tactics, saying their absence cast doubt on an ethics report that cleared the lawyers of professional misconduct.

The lost e-mails cover a critical period in 2002 when Justice Department attorneys labored under heavy pressure on a memo that gave the CIA a green light to use simulated drowning, sleep deprivation and other interrogation techniques against al-Qaeda suspects.

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Liberals and Atheists Smarter? Intelligent People Have Values Novel in Human Evolutionary History, Study Finds

More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history.  Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds.

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values.

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Obvious role for US investigators in Dubai murder case

Financial institutions based and incorporated in the United States have now been fingered by Dubai Police as having issued credit cards to some of the now dozens of suspected assassins of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.   The fraudulent cards were said to be used to book hotel rooms and pay for air travel.

The firms allegedly involved include Meta Financial Group Inc, based in Storm Lake, Iowa, and Payoneer, a New York-based online payment company that provides pre-paid Mastercards.
Payoneer also has a research and development centre based in Tel Aviv.

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Large Iceberg Breaks Off Antarctica's Mertz Glacier

A joint Australian-French study has discovered the calving of a large iceberg from the Mertz Glacier in the Australian Antarctic Territory. The iceberg -- 78 kilometres long with a surface area of roughly 2,500 square kilometres, about the size of Luxembourg -- broke off the Mertz Glacier after being rammed by another iceberg, 97 kilometres long.

The Mertz Glacier had a large crack in it for two decades. A second crack developed opposite the first in the early part of the 21st century. The collaboration studied whether these two cracks would eventually meet, and the processes that would lead to the calving of an iceberg.

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Whaling worsens carbon release, scientists warn

A century of whaling may have released more than 100 million tonnes - or a large forest's worth - of carbon into the atmosphere, scientists say. Whales store carbon within their huge bodies and when they are killed, much of this carbon can be released.

US scientists revealed their estimate of carbon released by whaling at the Ocean Sciences meeting in Portland, US. Dr Andrew Pershing from the University of Maine described whales as the "forests of the ocean". Dr Pershing and his colleagues from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute calculated the annual carbon-storing capacity of whales as they grew.

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