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Friday, Jan 20th

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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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Harvard Professor's Modest Proposal: Starve the Gazans into Having Fewer Babies

Martin Kramer revealed his true colors at the Herzliya Conference, wherein he blamed political violence in the Muslim world on population growth, called for that growth to be restrained, and praised the illegal and unconscionable Israeli blockade of civilian Gazans for its effect on reducing the number of Gazans.

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Senate votes to extend USA Patriot Act for 1 year

The Senate voted Wednesday to extend for a year key provisions of the nation's counterterrorism surveillance law that are scheduled to expire at the end of the month. In agreeing to pass the bill, Senate Democrats retreated from adding new privacy protections to the USA Patriot Act.

The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote with no debate. It now goes to the House. Three important sections of the Patriot Act are to expire at the end of this month.

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EU: West Bank goods can't be considered Israeli

In a ruling touching on the status of the West Bank, the European Union high court said Thursday the disputed area is not part of Israel and Israeli goods made there are subject to EU import duties.

The ruling has no immediate bearing on the Mideast peace process.
But for trade purposes, it argues Israel has no standing in the area where it has built settlements and where its companies make such products as cookies, pretzels, wines, cosmetics and computer equipment. The ruling opens the door to EU import duties on Israeli goods from the West Bank rendering those products less competitive.

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Judge rules against 2 at Guantanamo that Bush panel cleared for release

A federal judge Wednesday ruled that the Pentagon can continue to hold indefinitely at Guantanamo two Yemeni captives whom the Bush administration cleared for release two years ago.

The decisions bring to 11 the number of such cases that the government has won. In 32 other cases, judges have ruled that the Pentagon did not have sufficient evidence to hold the prisoners and have ordered that the detainees be released. Four of those are still at Guantanamo.

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