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September 19, 2009

UK study reveals smoking could shorten men\’s lives by 10–15 years

UK study reveals smoking could shorten men’s lives by 10–15 years

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

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A study carried out in the United Kingdom revealed that the life expectancy for men could be reduced by 10–15 years after the age of 50 due to smoking.

Two cigarettes.

The British Medical Journal carried out a study over a time period of 38 years in the United Kingdom which examined the health of 19,000 men aged 40–69. They were examined between 1967–1970. After tracing the history of the men, the survey revealed that smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol reduced the life expectancy of men by 10–15 years after they reached the age of 50. The research was published on the BMJ’s website on Friday.

The researchers from the University of Oxford in England were focussing on smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol due to the fact that they are the main cardiovascular risk factors. Dr. Robert Clarke from the university said: “We’ve shown that men at age 50 who smoke, have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can expect to survive to 74 years of age, while those who have none of these risk factors can expect to live until 83. It is precisely this kind of very prolonged follow-up study that is necessary to get these results — that modest differences in heart risk factors can accurately predict significant differences in life expectancy.”

“The results give people another way of looking at heart disease risk factors that can be understood more readily. If you stop smoking or take measures to deal with high blood pressure or body weight, it will translate into increased life expectancy.”



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UK seizes drugs worth £25 million in new record

UK seizes drugs worth £25 million in new record

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

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File photo: Heroin powder

The United Kingdom’s Border Agency has seized drugs worth £25 million (US$ 40.6 million) after heroin was discovered in a shipment from South Africa.

The discovery was made during an inspection of souvenirs shipped into London’s Heathrow Airport, where 165 kg of the drug was recovered. The Serious Organised Crime Agency raided a house in Maidstone, Kent, where a further 80 kg of heroin was discovered. A additional search brought the total to 360 kg, as well as 6,500 kg of herbal cannabis and resin. This includes drugs recovered in Durban, South Africa.

Three of those arrested in South Africa are from the UK and it is thought all of the drugs were for the domestic UK market. One of those arrested in the UK has been charged with possession of heroin with intent to supply.

The heroin was first discovered last week but the events have only now been publicised, as authorities were fearful that earlier revelations would damage their investigation. Five people in South Africa and two in the UK have been arrested. Heroin is a Class A drug in the UK.



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UK energy companies announce that prices for bills could increase

UK energy companies announce that prices for bills could increase

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Six energy companies in the United Kingdom have announced that it is likely that the prices for energy bills could increase over the course of 2010.

A cooker with burning gas.

The companies, which are nicknamed the “big six” in the United Kingdom, did not pass on information that there would be price cuts in energy bills despite increasing profits. However, the companies have in fact sent a message in response saying that the prices of bills may even increase over the course of the next year. Energy company watchdog the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) have estimated that energy companies will make gross margins of £170 ($276) per dual fual customer over the course of the next twelve months, due to the recent fall in wholesale energy costs.

Ofgem have said: “Our analysis shows that based on an 18-month hedging strategy and assuming that retail prices remain unchanged, projected gross margin is set to increase by around £80 for dual fuel customers over the next six months.”

The “big six” energy companies in the United Kingdom are British Gas, E-on, Npower, Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Power, and EDF Energy. British Gas stated: “Prices [are] likely to remain at historically high levels, and in fact likely to increase as non-commodity costs rise ever upwards.”

EDF Energy said: “[We] would of course be prepared to reduce tariffs if market conditions allowed.” Scottish Power stated: “There are no immediate signals that would indicate a fall in retail prices for this winter, and risks of an increase next year.” Scottish & Southern Energy commented: “With forward annual wholesale prices significantly higher, and with upward pressures in terms of distribution, environmental and social costs, seeking to avoid an increase between now and the end of 2010 is an important goal.”

Meanwhile, a study by Consumer Focus in early September 2009 suggested that “energy companies were overcharging customers by £100 ($162) every year. A spokesperson for Ofgem said that there was no evidence of any cartel in operation, or evidence of profiteering. The spokesperson commented: “It is up to the companies themselves to decide whether to cut their bills. Consumer Focus data suggests that Scottish Power has increased dual fuel prices by the most since 2003 – up 148% – while decreasing prices by 0.6% so far this year. RWE’s Npower has increased tariffs by 132% since 2003, but has reduced bills by 2.7% in 2009.”



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U.S. jobs picture not improving

Filed under: Archived,Economy and business,North America,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

U.S. jobs picture not improving – Wikinews, the free news source

U.S. jobs picture not improving

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

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Final August unemployment data was released yesterday with states indicating continued nonfarm payroll contraction going into the fall.

The Labor Department indicated an overall increase in unemployment in 27 states, a decrease in 16 and no change in 7. Record high jobless rates were reached in California (12.2%), Nevada (13.2%) and Rhode Island (12.8%); the highest since widespread state data was first reported in 1976. California’s rate was influenced by the state budget passed in July which closed a US$24 billion shortfall by cutting many state-provided programs which included many state jobs. Michigan, again, had the highest unemployment rate in August at 15.2% which is nearly double its August 2008 unemployment rate of 8.6%. North Dakota, again, had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.3%. The current national unemployment rate is 9.7%.

On the jobs-front, forty-two states lost jobs last month led by Texas, Michigan, Georgia, and Ohio, totalling over 216,000 jobs; eight states recorded increases in job positions. The biggest job gains were in North Carolina and Montana. Since the recession began in December of 2007, there have been nearly 7 million jobs lost nation-wide.

Data for September will be released in the first week of October.

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U.S. and China in trade dispute

U.S. and China in trade dispute – Wikinews, the free news source

U.S. and China in trade dispute

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

The United States (U.S.) and China this week initiated a trade dispute over tires, auto-parts, and poultry products just a week ahead of the 2009 G-20 trade summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The most recent trade policies enacted by the U.S. government includes a September 12 decision to impose a 35% trade tariff on Chinese tire imports as an anti-dumping measure. The trade policy came about as a result of a trade-complaint initiated by the United Steelworkers Union (USW) filed before the U.S. International Trade Commission. As reported by Steve Levine of BusinessWeek, “In [the USW’s] trade complaint to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the USW invoked a provision in China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that allows protection from surging imports from the country [China]. The union documented a tripling of Chinese tire imports from 2004 to 2008 […]” The Trade Commission initially recommended a 55% tariff however, President Obama agreed to only 35%. The trade tariff will be diminished by 5% per year for the next three years to 25%. The deadline for President Obama’s decision was September 17. The trade tariff will take effect on September 26, pegging rates at the new level from the current 4%. The dispute will now move to the WTO where it can take up to 18 months for adjudication.

To quantify the impact of the tariff, in 2008 China supplied US$1.8 billion in tires to the U.S. or about one-third of the U.S. market, with two-thirds of U.S. companies producing their tires in China. It’s likely that the effects of the suit will exceed $1 billion in trade costs, as reported by several other news agencies.

On the 14th of September, the Chinese government via its Ministry of Commerce website, announced that they would institute an investigation into the dumping of U.S. auto parts and chicken products; they are also filing a complaint at the WTO regarding this matter. A formal announcement of trade tariffs against U.S. goods has not occurred.

The two countries’ executive and economic teams will meet in Pittsburgh for the G-20 meeting on September 24 and 25 to discuss these and other economic issues.



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U.S. Senate releases version of Healthcare Bill

U.S. Senate releases version of Healthcare Bill

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

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On Wednesday the U.S. Senate released its version of the U.S. healthcare overhaul that has recently been advocated by President Barack Obama.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee released an 18-page summary of the 223-page bill that will, according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Baucus, cost US$856 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will cost US$774 billion over 10 years and will cover 94% of Americans. The Senate version was orchestrated by Senator Baucus, a Democrat from Montana. The bill was released without any Republican support from the committee. However, today, the bill received support from a bi-partisan group of Senators including the Republican Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Independent Joe Liberman. If the bill’s passage is determined along party lines, Democrats will need at least one Republican Senator to avoid a possible filibuster in the Senate.

The proposal mandates nation-wide individual insurance by 2013 and omits a government-run insurance clause as is included in the U.S. House version; instead, the plan calls for non-profit healthcare cooperatives. The healthcare cooperatives would be provided with US$6 billion in initial funding to cover start-up fees and costs. Individuals refusing to obtain coverage can be charged up to US$950 annually with families fined up to US$3,800 per year. Small businesses will not be mandated to provide healthcare to their employees but those who do will receive tax credits. Also, insurances companies that have more expensive individual plans will be taxed for 35% of the amount that that the plan exceeds the federal individual threshold of US$8,000 or the family threshold of US$21,000. The bill includes clauses for protection against coverage suspensions due to illnesses and protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. It will not pre-empt state laws on abortion and does not provide for abortion payments except in cases of rape or incest. The plan also mandates registration with the Social Security Administration as a means to avoid illegal alien use of the program.

The bill will reportedly be paid for by US$850 billion in spending reduction, taxes and fees to include reduction in Medicare benefits. The Senate Finance Committee is the last approval authority before the Senate or House bills can be considered for floor debate.



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International Talk Like A Pirate Day held on Saturday

International Talk Like A Pirate Day held on Saturday

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shiver me timbers!: The founders of the event

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is being celebrated today, as it has every September 19 for the last decade.

The tradition was started by John Baur and Mark Summers, known to fellow pirates as Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket. It became popular in 2002, when US author Dave Barry joined the support. Baur and Summers are both published authors themselves, as well as self-publishing books.

In Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom the Campaign for Real Ale has organised a pirate pub crawl, while a London pub is offering rum at £0.50 a time. There are several events linked to the cancer charity Marie Curie. A Los Angeles bar is offering a day of ‘sexy pirate talk’.

Australia’s Whitsunday Islands are holding an event organised by a man identified by ABC only as Captain Dan van Blarcom. “We’re the polite pirates and we always use our manners and say please and thank you and ensure our visitors always come first,” he said, adding that people caught not having fun may be made to walk the plank and that there are “some pirate hip hop music and other pirate songs” on offer.

Bauer and Summers started the day after deciding that raquetball was much more fun when various pirate sayings were mixed into the game. The picked today as it was one of the few dates Summers could remember that did not already have a major holiday, being his ex-wife’s birthday.



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At least two killed by gunman in Mexico City subway

At least two killed by gunman in Mexico City subway

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

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Entrance to the Balderas subway station

According to police reports, at least two people were killed and five more wounded on Friday after a gunman opened fire at a subway station in Mexico City, Mexico.

Witness reports say that two men were shouting slogans against the government in the Balderas station. One of them started drawing graffiti on a wall, and opened fire when a police officer tried to restrain him.

The police officer and a passerby who tried to stop the gunman were both killed.

Only one person was arrested after the incident, the El Universal newspaper reported. He was later identified as Luis Felipe Hernandez Castillo, 38.

Manuel Mondragon, the police chief, pledged to increase police presence in the subway system following the attack.



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12-year-old school boy has sex change in Sussex, England

Filed under: Education,England,Europe,Health,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A map of England with the Sussex region highlighted in red.

A 12 year old boy turned up to start the new academic year as a girl, at a school in England.

The boy, who will remain unnamed, arrived for his first day at secondary school in Sussex in southern England wearing a dress, and with long hair in ribboned pigtails. His parents have had his name changed to a girl’s by deed poll, and the boy is now preparing for hormone treatment and eventual surgery.

Former classmates from primary school noticed the change, and the boy was the subject of taunting, including being asked by other children if he was “gay“.

The school called an emergency assembly and ordered fellow pupils to treat the individual as female, and threatened tough disciplinary action if he wasn’t treated as a girl or if his new name was not used.

Many parents were outraged by the assembly. One of them stated, “They behaved appallingly by throwing this hand grenade into the room and then leaving the inevitable questions about it for unprepared parents. Maybe we could have explained sexual politics and encouraged our kids to be more sensitive if we’d had a chance to be involved.”

Cquote1.png Breaking news like this in a mass assembly without pre-briefing parents was crass and cruel Cquote2.png

—Deidre Sanders, The Sun

Deidre Sanders, an agony aunt for British tabloid The Sun, which broke the story, gave her view: “It’s ironic pupils will be disciplined if they fail to handle this child’s sex change ‘sensitively’ — when their school could hardly have handled it less sensitively. Breaking news like this in a mass assembly without pre-briefing parents was crass and cruel — and added to this child’s troubles.”

Because of the tauntings, the boy was absent from school on Thursday. The family have been receiving threats and the house is now under police protection.

The Sun does know the identity of the boy but has refused to reveal it. The boy had told his classmates that for years he had wanted to be a girl. It is understood that the boy was treated as a male by his primary school principal, despite “girlie” behaviour such as wearing a bikini instead of shorts at swimming lessons, drying himself on Barbie towels, wearing pink ribbons in his hair and riding a pink scooter to school.

In an interview with Sky News Online, a spokesperson for the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) said, “It is very unfortunate […] It needs a careful process of familiarisation, not the big bang approach. The proper way would have been to train all staff before the term started, to work with the child’s peer group and to prepare the teachers to be able to talk to the other pupils and their parents individually to answer their questions. What one school did was get the pupil to talk with peers in an interaction that was supervised by teachers. That kind of careful process is what’s required.”

Earlier this year, a German born by the name of Tim became Kim Petras after having medication at the age of 12 to suspend her puberty. She later had feminising hormone treatment and eventually gender confirmation surgery at the age of 16, making her the youngest transsexual in the world.

According to the Sun, this 12 year old boy is preparing to progress with hormone therapy and possibly undergo surgery that would make him one of the world’s youngest sex-change patients.



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Jordan Lloyd wins US Big Brother 11

Saturday, September 19, 2009

BigBrotherLogo.png

Jordan Lloyd has won the eleventh season of the American version of reality TV show Big Brother on Tuesday.

Lloyd, 22, from Matthews, North Carolina, was a waitress prior to entering the Big Brother house. In a twist she was in the Popular clique with fellow HouseGuests Braden Bacha and Laura Crosby who were evicted in the first two weeks. During the course of the show, she was very close to Jeff Schroeder from the Athletes clique.

On the finale night she won the final Head of Household competition securing her place in the final two. Lloyd won Big Brother US$500,000 with a five votes from the jury, beating Natalie Martinez’s two votes. Lloyd received the votes of viewing public, Jessie Godderz, Lydia Tavera, Schroeder and Michele Noonan to win. Due to Chima Benson’s expulsion earlier in the season, the viewing public voted during the final week for who should win the final jury vote. Executive producer Allison Grodner noted in a post finale interview that while she didn’t know the final percentage votes Lloyd was in the 90th percentile in both scenarios she was in.

CBS, the channel which has been showing Big Brother in the United States for the last ten years, recently announced the pickup of Big Brother 12 for the summer of 2010. Big Brother 11 has been the only summer show to grow over a previous season this summer and the finale of Big Brother 11 was extended to two hours. At the time of the announcement, Big Brother 11 averaged 7.1 million viewers up from Big Brother 10’s 6.6 million viewers.



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