2012 review: The year in health science









































Read more: "2013 Smart Guide: 10 ideas that will shape the year"











The first half of 2012 will be remembered for the saga over whether or not to publish controversial research involving versions of the H5N1 bird flu virus engineered to spread more easily in mammals. In the end openness won out, and both contentious studies did finally see the light of day.












This was also the year that saw the battle to eradicate polio reach its crucial endgame – just as another problem, in the form of totally drug resistant tuberculosis, reared its head.












Away from infectious disease, 2012 brought us a theory on the link between Tutankhamun, epilepsy and the first monotheistic religion, and an insight into the perils of premature ageing in Italy's ominously named Triangle of Death. Here are 10 more of the year's memorable stories.












Babies are born dirty, with a gutful of bacteria
Far from being sterile, babies come complete with an army of bacteria. The finding could have implications for gut disorders and our health in general












Forensic failure: 'Miscarriages of justice will occur'
Our survey of UK forensic scientists reveals that many are concerned that closure of the Forensic Science Service will lead to miscarriages of justice












Scandal of an underfunded and undertreated cancer
Lung cancer in those who have never smoked is on the rise – but they face the same stigma as their smoking counterparts












Ovarian stem cells discovered in humans
Stem cells capable of forming new eggs could promise limitless eggs for IVF treatments, and the rejuvenation of older eggs












Paralysis breakthrough: spinal cord damage repaired
An implant helping paralysed people stand unaided suggests the spinal cord is able to recover function years after severe damage












A real fMRI high: My ecstasy brain scan
Graham Lawton reports the highs, lows and psychedelic purple doors involved in taking MDMA while having his brain scanned












You may carry cells from siblings, aunts and uncles
Male cells found in the umbilical cord blood of baby girls with older brothers suggests fetal cells cross between mother and baby more than once thought












Can we deter athletes who self-harm to win?
The Paralympics may encourage a debate on a dangerous practice – and potential ways to prevent it












First non-hormonal male 'pill' prevents pregnancy
A non-hormonal drug that temporarily reverses male fertility appears to have few side effects in mice












Mining MRSA genetic code halts superbug outbreak
Whole genome sequencing of an MRSA outbreak has identified the person who unwittingly spread the bacteria around a hospital, stopping further infection

















































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Thousands to march against Hong Kong leader






HONG KONG: Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to rally in Hong Kong Tuesday, calling for the city's embattled new chief executive to quit and for greater democracy.

Organisers are expecting 50,000 people to turn up at the New Year day's march against Leung Chun-ying, while pro-government groups staged a separate and smaller rival rally in support of the Beijing-backed leader.

Since taking office in July, Leung's popularity ratings have tumbled and he has faced a no-confidence vote in the legislature amid a row over illegal structures at his luxury home -- a politically sensitive issue in the city.

Leung has acknowledged and apologised for the structures, which were built without planning permission and include a wooden trellis and a glass enclosure.

He became chief executive after his rival to the post, Henry tang, was brought down by a row over illegal structures at his home.

Protesters have used the scandal to press for universal suffrage in choosing the leader of the former British colony, which was returned to Beijing in 1997 but maintains a semi-autonomous status.

Leung was elected by a 1,200-strong election committee packed with a pro-Beijing elite in March, amid rising anger among the city's seven million inhabitants over what many perceive to be China meddling in local affairs.

Beijing has said the city's chief executive could be directly elected in 2017 at the earliest, with the legislature following by 2020.

"We want to push for Leung's resignation to further push for democratic elections in Hong Kong," Jackie Hung, a spokeswoman for protest organiser Civil Human Rights Front, told AFP ahead of the march through the streets to the government headquarters, due to start at 3pm (0700 GMT).

About 4,000 pro-government supporters held a separate rally ahead of the mass demonstration, chanting "support CY (Leung), support the government".

Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions honorary president Cheng Yiu-tong said: "We get together today to support the government in developing the economy, better the lives of people. This is the wish of all Hong Kong people."

In a bid to tackle discontent, Leung has banned mainland women from giving birth in Hong Kong and introduced policies to prioritise housing for locals, a move analysts say was a reaction to mainland buyers pushing up prices in the city, one of the world's most expensive.

The city's South China Morning Post newspaper said about 1,000 police will be deployed for Tuesday's marches, following scuffles over the weekend at a pro-government rally that saw two journalists assaulted.

-AFP/ac



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Weak offense costs Lovie Smith his job as Bears coach









It is not often NFL teams fire head coaches after 10-win seasons, but it is even rarer for coaches to retain their jobs after failing to reach the playoffs five times in six years.

So it was not surprising Monday morning when the Bears fired Lovie Smith less than 24 hours after his team defeated the Lions to finish 10-6 but still missed the postseason, becoming just the second team since the 12-team playoff format was established in 1990 to miss the playoffs after a 7-1 start.

The epitaph for Smith's tenure as coach of the Bears could read, "He couldn't fix the offense."

Smith spoke to his team in a brief but emotional meeting, and many players, fiercely loyal to Smith, were hurt. Some were angry. Smith was 81-63 in the regular season with three NFC North titles, four 10-win seasons, a 3-3 playoff record and one Super Bowl trip. Only George Halas and Mike Ditka won more games as coach for the NFL cornerstone franchise.

"It's a tough situation to be in to see a great man and a great coach have to stand in front of the room and do that," center Roberto Garza said. "But this is the NFL. It happens. Unfortunately, we forced that situation."

Smith has one year remaining on his contract at $5 million. His staff remains under contract through 2013 and multiple assistants said they have not been released from their deals, although all or nearly all or expected to depart.

General manager Phil Emery will speak publicly about the move at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and NFL sources confirmed the team has scheduled interviews with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, who held the same role for the Bears from 1997-2000.

Armstrong, who is expected to interview Tuesday, is African-American and the Bears must interview at least one minority candidate to satisfy the league's Rooney Rule. He also has interviews scheduled with the Eagles and Chiefs.

Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is expected to interview with the Bears on Wednesday.

Surely, Emery's vision includes a dramatically reshaped offense. For all the good things Smith did in his nine years in Chicago, his undoing was his inability to take care of the side of the ball in which he had no background.

Since Smith took over in 2004, the Bears have ranked higher than 23rd in offense only once. They have ranked 28th or lower four times and finished 28th in 2012.

Smith tried four offensive coordinators during his Bears career. Smith's first thought was to run a similar offense to the one he was familiar with when he was defensive coordinator of the Rams, so he hired Terry Shea, despite not having worked with him. It was an unmitigated disaster. The Bears finished last in the league in offense behind quarterbacks Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn and Rex Grossman, and Shea was dismissed after one season.

Smith then turned to Ron Turner for his second stint as Bears offensive coordinator, although some insist that the Smith-Turner pairing was an arranged marriage. Turner lasted five years in what was the heyday for the Bears offense under Smith.

Those days Smith talked frequently about how the Bears "get off the bus running," and the team achieved its offensive identity by pounding the ball with Thomas Jones, then Cedric Benson and finally Matt Forte.

But after the Bears traded two first-round draft picks and a third-rounder for Jay Cutler in 2009 and still finished 23rd in offense and missed the playoffs, Turner was made the scapegoat and fired.

An extensive job search led the Bears back to Smith's old friend Mike Martz, for whom he had worked in St. Louis. Going from the conservative Turner to the aggressive Martz was quite a philosophical shift for Smith.

Martz's offense sputtered in 2010 even as the team reached the NFC championship game but started to flourish the next season. Then Cutler broke his thumb in the 10th game and the team unraveled. The Bears lost five straight, and Martz was fired along with general manager Jerry Angelo, the man who brought Smith to Chicago.

Team President Ted Phillips mandated that Emery work with Smith for at least 2012, lauding the coach for his consistency. Speculation is the Bears chose not to fire Smith because he had two years remaining on his contract.

Smith's next move was to go conservative again, this time by promoting offensive line coach Mike Tice. A first-time play caller, Tice made great use of new acquisition Brandon Marshall but struggled to find other reliable targets or to overcome protection issues.

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Space Pictures This Week: Ice “Broccoli,” Solar Storm









































































































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Fiscal Cliff Deal Vote Likely in Senate













The so-called "fiscal cliff" came tonight -- but now there is a specific deal on the table to try to soften it after the fact, according to congressional sources.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the deal -- brokered by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- would get a vote in the Senate sometime after midnight. The House would not vote before Tuesday afternoon at the earliest, sources said.


"I feel really very, very good about this vote," Biden told reporters leaving the meeting with Senate Democrats, "but having been in the Senate for as long as I have there's two things you shouldn't do: You shouldn't predict how the Senate is going to vote before they vote....[and] you surely shouldn't predict about how the House is going to vote."


The proposal would extend Bush-era tax cuts permanently for people making less than $400,000 per year and households making less than $450,000, the sources said.


The steep "sequester" budget cuts scheduled to go into effect with the New Year would be postponed two months, said sources. They said half the money would come from cuts elsewhere, and the other half from new revenue.


The deal also would affect taxes on investment income and estates, and extend unemployment benefits for a year, the congressional sources added.


"The end is in sight," said a Democratic aide with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office. "If everyone cooperates, it's possible things can move pretty quickly."


After the Biden meeting, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said there was "strong" support for the plan among Senate Democrats.


"There is a feeling that it's not that this proposal is regarded as great or as loved in any way, but it's a lot better than going off the cliff," he said.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called the compromise the "best" that could be done.


Even with progress in the Senate tonight, the "cliff" deadline will pass without action by the House, where Republican leaders said they would "consider" the deal starting tomorrow.








'Fiscal Cliff': Lawmakers Scramble for Last-Minute Deal Watch Video









"Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members -- and the American people -- have been able to review the legislation," said House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers in a statement.


The failure of a deal to pass Congress by Jan. 1 technically triggers an income tax hike on all Americans and automatic spending cuts, though lawmakers could still prevent a tax hike by making retroactive any legislation that passes in the weeks ahead, experts said.


The deal at hand will not entirely solve the problem of the "fiscal cliff," however. In fact, it could set up a new showdown over the same spending cuts in just two months that would be amplified by a brewing fight over how to raise the debt ceiling beyond $16.4 trillion. That new fiscal battle has the potential to eclipse the "fiscal cliff" in short order.


Earlier, during a midday news conference, Obama said he was optimistic about compromise in the short-term.


"It appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year's tax hike is within sight, but it's not done," he said. "There are still issues left to resolve, but we're hopeful that Congress can get it done."


In addition to extending current tax rates for households making $450,000 or less, the latest plan would raise the estate tax from 35 to 40 percent for estates larger than $5 million; and prevent the alternative minimum tax from hammering millions of middle-class workers, according to sources familiar with the talks.


Capital gains taxes would rise to 20 percent from 15, according to a senior White House official.


The deal would also extend for one year unemployment insurance benefits set to expire Tuesday, and avert a steep cut to Medicare payments for doctors, congressional sources said.


"I can report that we've reached an agreement on the all the tax issues," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in an afternoon speech on the Senate floor.


At the time, McConnell said that federal spending cuts remained a sticking point. That hurdle later appeared to be cleared by postponing the debate two more months, though it is unclear whether House Republicans will go along.


"In order to get the sequester moved, you're going to have to have real, concrete spending cuts," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. Without that, he said, "I don't know how it passes the House."


Some Republicans also said Obama unduly complicated progress toward an agreement by seeming to take a victory lap on taxes at his campaign-style event at the White House.


"Keep in mind that just last month Republicans in Congress said they would never agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans," Obama said, raising the ire of several Republicans. "Obviously, the agreement that's currently discussed would raise those rates, and raise them permanently."


Those words drew a sharp retort from Republican Sen. John McCain.


Rather than staging a "cheerleading rally," McCain said, the president should have been negotiating the finishing touches of the deal.


"He comes out and calls people together and has a group standing behind him, laughs and jokes and ridicules Republicans. Why?" said McCain.


Several Democrats also voiced disappointment with the president and the emerging deal.






Read More..

Today on New Scientist: 28 December 2012







Best videos of 2012: Rare view of Challenger tragedy

Watch a rare amateur video of the Challenger explosion, our most-viewed video of the year



Strong jet stream super-charged US Christmas storms

Record snowfall and dozens of tornadoes snarled holiday travel as a powerful winter storm plowed across much of the US, while rainstorms battered the UK



2012 review: The year in life science

The year's biggest stories in life science, including James Cameron's descent into the Mariana trench and efforts to break into Antarctica's buried lakes



Superstorm lessons for adapting to climate change

As the post-Sandy rebuild gets under way, coastal cities around the world will be watching



Best videos of 2012: First MRI movie of childbirth

Watch a unique view of a baby's birth, at number 2 in our countdown of the year's top science videos



Fleadom or death: Reviving the glorious flea circus

The parasite-based sideshows were almost done for by the domestic vacuum cleaner - but they are bouncing back, finds Graham Lawton



Approval for gene-modified salmon spawns controversy

Apparently months late, US regulators have declared genetically engineered fish safe to farm and eat, but final approval could be some way off



Best videos of 2012: New aircraft flies inside out

Watch a novel flying machine use a unique mechanism to propel itself, at number 3 in our countdown of the top videos of the year



2012 review: The year in technology

The year's biggest stories in technology, including Kinect devices that may spot signs of autism and controlling a robot by the power of thought



Superdoodles: The science of scribbling

Far from being a distraction, doodling has an important purpose - and you can harness it



2013 Smart Guide: Wave goodbye to the mouse

The Leap, a 3D motion control device set to launch next year, will let you control your computer with touch-free hand and finger movements





Read More..

S'pore stocks close lower






SINGAPORE: Share prices in Singapore closed lower in line with other regional markets in a shortened pre-holiday session.

Markets were weighed down by the US fiscal deadlock, as hopes faded that a deal will be reached just a day before the deadline.

The Straits Times Index fell 24.72 points, or 0.77 per cent, to end at 3,167.08.

On the broader market, losers outnumbered gainers by 216 to 175.

Volume totalled 1.54 billion shares valued at S$957.6 million.

Among the declining issues, Great Eastern dropped 18 cents to $15.66, DBS lost 14 cents S$14.84, and SIA also moved down 14 cents to finish at S$10.75.

Ramba Energy rose 21.5 cents to 60 cents, Venture added 6 cents to S$8.06, while City Developments gained 4 cents to S$12.87.

- CNA/al



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Change could be coming after Bears miss playoffs









DETROIT — The Bears could spend between now and wild-card weekend counting the reasons they will be sitting at home with 10 wins.

A defensive meltdown in Week 13 against the Seahawks and a brutal loss at Minnesota the following week are good places to start. Their time will be better spent, however, compiling ways they can improve in 2013 after a second-half collapse could not be saved by road wins over the lowly Cardinals and Lions at the end of a season that began with great promise.

The Bears held on for a 26-24 victory over the Lions on Sunday at Ford Field, but their playoff dreams were dashed a little more than three hours later as the Vikings upset the Packers 37-34 on Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time expired.

The Bears join the 1996 Redskins as the only teams since the playoffs were expanded to 12 teams to miss the playoffs after a 7-1 start. An easy first-half schedule turned challenging, an opportunistic defense stopped scoring touchdowns and the offense again failed to blossom in the fourth season for quarterback Jay Cutler, who will enter the final year of his contract with scarce reasons for the franchise to guarantee him tens of millions of dollars.

Under first-year offensive coordinator Mike Tice, wide receiver Brandon Marshall rewrote the team record books, but far too often there was no semblance of balance, and an offensive line general manager Phil Emery did little to augment played a lot like the one he inherited. Whether the failures were due more to personnel, scheme or play calling, ultimately it's the offense of head coach Lovie Smith, who failed to guide his team to the postseason for the fifth time in six years.

Questions will persist about the future of Smith, who has an 81-63 regular-season record in nine seasons, until Emery announces his plan. It will be interesting to see what role Chairman George McCaskey takes; most believe it was his call to fire GM Jerry Angelo a year ago.

Smith is signed through next season, and Emery has been conspicuously silent this season, although he said on the WBBM radio pregame show Sunday that Smith "has done an outstanding job coaching the Bears."

"It is the full season and the whole body of work," Emery said of how he will judge Smith.

Bringing back Smith as a lame duck could be a disastrous distraction but would not be unprecedented. President Ted Phillips required Emery to keep Smith for this season, and Phillips lauded Smith for his "consistency" in explaining the decision.

Smith generally has avoided long losing streaks, but the Bears lost five of six before the final two wins. They also consistently have missed the playoffs since the 2006 Super Bowl season, and if Emery makes the unusual move of firing a coach coming off a 10-win season, it will condemn the organization's failure to clean house a year ago.

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, the face of the franchise for 13 seasons, has an expiring contract, and his future could be tied to Smith's. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton might be headed to free agency. The aging defense was solid for most of the season but needs more young firepower at a time when the offense must be upgraded.

The offense showed some life Sunday, even if it couldn't put the Lions away as four trips to the red zone resulted in only one touchdown — a 1-yard run by Matt Forte, who had a season-high 24 carries for 103 yards.

Cutler, who said during the week he didn't know how the offense would get more receivers involved besides Marshall, completed five passes for 109 yards to Earl Bennett, including a 60-yard touchdown that featured nice blocking by Marshall. Alshon Jeffery had four receptions for 76 yards, while Marshall was targeted 14 times but made just five catches for 42 yards.

The Lions clawed back with three 80-yard scoring drives, but the defense got a stop when it needed one as cornerback Tim Jennings deflected a pass for Kris Durham with less than four minutes to play before Forte helped run out the clock.

Asked how he would view a 10-win season with no playoffs, Forte said, "We'll have to look forward to next year."

First, we'll see what change a new year brings.

bmbiggs@tribune.com

Twitter @BradBiggs



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How to Banish That New Year's Eve Hangover


For those of us who enjoy the occasional cocktail, the holiday season would be incomplete without certain treats of the liquid variety. Some look forward to the creamy charms of rum-laced eggnog; others anticipate cupfuls of high-octane punch or mugs of warm, spiced wine.

No matter what's in your glass, raising one as the year winds down is tradition. What could be more festive? The problem is, one drink leads to two, then the party gets going and a third is generously poured. Soon, the music fades and the morning arrives—and with it, the dreaded hangover. (Explore a human-body interactive.)

Whether it's a pounding headache, a queasy stomach, sweating, or just general misery, the damage has been done. So now it's time to remedy the situation. What's the quickest way to banish the pain? It depends who you ask.

Doctors typically recommend water for hydration and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. Taking B vitamins is also good, according to anesthesiologist Jason Burke, because they help the body metabolize alcohol and produce energy.

Burke should know a thing or two about veisalgia, the medical term for hangover. At his Las Vegas clinic Hangover Heaven, Burke treats thousands of people suffering from the effects of drinking to excess with hydrating fluids and medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"No two hangovers are the same," he said, adding that the unfavorable condition costs society billions of dollars-mostly from lost productivity and people taking sick days from work.

Hot Peppers for Hangovers?

So what's the advice from the nonmedical community? Suggestions range from greasy breakfasts to vanilla milkshakes to spending time in a steamy sauna. A friend insists hot peppers are the only way to combat a hangover's wrath. Another swears by the palliative effects of a bloody mary. In fact, many people just have another drink, following the old "hair of the dog that bit you" strategy.

Whether such "cures" actually get rid of a hangover is debatable, but one thing's for sure: the sorry state is universal. The only people immune to hangovers are the ones who avoid alcohol altogether.

So for those who do indulge, even if it's just once in awhile, see our interactive featuring cures from around the world (also above). As New Year's Eve looms with its attendant excuse to imbibe, perhaps it would be wise to stock your refrigerator with one of these antidotes. Pickled herring, anyone?


Read More..

Hillary Clinton Hospitalized With Blood Clot


gty hillary clinton jt 121209 wblog Hillary Clinton Hospitalized With Blood Clot

(MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)


By DANA HUGHES and DEAN SCHABNER


Secretary Hillary Clinton was hospitalized today after a doctors doing a follow-up exam discovered a blood clot had formed, stemming from the concussion she sustained several weeks ago.


She is being treated with anti-coagulants and is at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital so that they can monitor the medication over the next 48 hours, Deputy Assistant Secretary Philippe Reines said.


Her doctors will continue to assess her condition, including other issues associated with her concussion. They will determine if any further action is required, Reines said.


Clinton, 65, originally fell ill from a stomach virus following a whirlwind trip to Europe at the beginning of the month, which caused such severe dehydration that she fainted and fell at home, suffering a concussion. No ambulance was called and she was not hospitalized, according to a state department official.


The stomach virus had caused Clinton to cancel a planned trip to North Africa and the United Arab Emirates, and also her scheduled testimony before Congress at hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.


According to a U.S. official, the secretary had two teams of doctors, including specialists, examine her after the fall.  They also ran tests to rule out more serious ailments beyond the virus and the concussion. During the course of the week after her concussion, Clinton was on an IV drip and being monitored by a nurse, while also recovering from the pain caused by the fall.


Medical experts consulted by ABC News said that it was impossible to know for sure the true nature or severity of Clinton’s condition, given the sparse information provided by the State Department. However, most noted that the information available could indicate that Clinton had a deep venous thrombosis,which is a clot in the large veins in the legs.


“A concussion (traumatic brain injury) in itself increases risk of this clot. Likely the concussion has increased her bed rest,” said Dr. Brian D. Greenwald, Medical Director JFK Jonson Rehabilitation Center for Head Injuries. “Immobility is also a risk for DVT. Long flights are also a risk factor for DVT but the recent concussion is the most likely cause.


“Anticoagulants are the treatment,” he said. “If DVT goes untreated it can lead to pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is a clot traveling from veins in legs to lungs which is life threatening. Many people die each year from this.


“Now that she is being treated with blood thinners her risks of PE are decreased,” he said. “Blood thinners carry risk of bleeding but are common and can be safely used.”


Dr. Allen Sills, associate professor of Neurological Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said it was most likely that the clot was not located in Clinton’s brain, since she is being treated with anticoagulants.


“This is certainly not a common occurrence after a concussion, and is most likely related to either inactivity or some other injury suffered in the fall,” he said.


Dr. Neil Martin, the head of Neurovascular Surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, said blood thinners are often given for blood clots in the legs, and it is “very unusual” for anticoagulants to be given for blood clots in the head.


But he cautioned about speculating too much about Clinton’s condition before more information is available.


“If we don’t know where it is, there is the possibility of several different indications,” he said. “I don’t know if there is any connection between what she’s got now and the concussion. All I can tell you is, at this point, it’s almost impossible to speculate unless we know what’s going on there.”

Read More..

Today on New Scientist: 28 December 2012







Best videos of 2012: Rare view of Challenger tragedy

Watch a rare amateur video of the Challenger explosion, our most-viewed video of the year



Strong jet stream super-charged US Christmas storms

Record snowfall and dozens of tornadoes snarled holiday travel as a powerful winter storm plowed across much of the US, while rainstorms battered the UK



2012 review: The year in life science

The year's biggest stories in life science, including James Cameron's descent into the Mariana trench and efforts to break into Antarctica's buried lakes



Superstorm lessons for adapting to climate change

As the post-Sandy rebuild gets under way, coastal cities around the world will be watching



Best videos of 2012: First MRI movie of childbirth

Watch a unique view of a baby's birth, at number 2 in our countdown of the year's top science videos



Fleadom or death: Reviving the glorious flea circus

The parasite-based sideshows were almost done for by the domestic vacuum cleaner - but they are bouncing back, finds Graham Lawton



Approval for gene-modified salmon spawns controversy

Apparently months late, US regulators have declared genetically engineered fish safe to farm and eat, but final approval could be some way off



Best videos of 2012: New aircraft flies inside out

Watch a novel flying machine use a unique mechanism to propel itself, at number 3 in our countdown of the top videos of the year



2012 review: The year in technology

The year's biggest stories in technology, including Kinect devices that may spot signs of autism and controlling a robot by the power of thought



Superdoodles: The science of scribbling

Far from being a distraction, doodling has an important purpose - and you can harness it



2013 Smart Guide: Wave goodbye to the mouse

The Leap, a 3D motion control device set to launch next year, will let you control your computer with touch-free hand and finger movements





Read More..

Suspected norovirus outbreak kills four in Japan hospital






TOKYO: A suspected norovirus outbreak has killed four people and infected almost 100 others at a hospital in the Japanese city of Yokohama south of Tokyo, officials said.

Four patients aged between 80 and 97 died of breathing problems and pneumonia between Wednesday and Friday after suffering vomiting and diarrhoea, officials at the city's Denentoshi Hospital said late Saturday.

A total of 72 patients including the four and 27 hospital staffers have been infected since Tuesday, they said.

The norovirus, which strikes in winter and causes vomiting and diarrhoea, killed six elderly patients at a hospital in Miyazaki in the south and two others at a hospital in the western city of Osaka earlier this month.

It is highly contagious and typically transmitted from person to person.

The virus has been detected in stool samples from 11 of the infected people in Yokohama, the hospital's director Seiji Shibuya told a news conference.

"Many patients are still suffering from the symptoms and we can't see an end to the situation," Shibuya said. "We apologise for our inability to prevent it."

- AFP/ck



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Belinelli scores 17 off bench in Bulls' 87-77 win









Marco Belinelli said he has repeated himself 100 times about how his love of basketball obviously means he would love to play as much as possible.

He got what he wanted Saturday night.

Despite returning to the bench as Richard Hamilton returned from injury to the starting lineup, Belinelli's playing time wasn't diminished much as he scored a game-high 17 points in 33 minutes in the Bulls' 87-77 victory over the Wizards before a crowd of 22,447 at the United Center.

"I think what's more important is confidence in myself," he said. "The first couple of weeks of the season I didn't have much. Now it's different."

The Bulls' belief in Belinelli is better than that. On a night when they shot only 39.1 percent as a team, his 7 of 16 marksmanship was essential.

"I thought Marco was terrific," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He has been playing well for a long time. He hit big shots and made big plays."

The Bulls needed a lift after losing back-to-back games. But they still struggled against the Wizards, the NBA's worst team with a 4-24 overall record, 1-13 record on the road.

The Wizards, playing without injured leading scorer Jordan Crawford, shot only 36.5 percent but kept the Bulls within reach most of the game. They led by eight points in the first quarter and trailed only 79-76 with 5 minutes, 19 seconds remaining.

After that, Belinelli hit a 3-pointer and the Bulls locked in defensively, holding the Wizards without a field goal.

"Right now, we're not playing our best basketball, but we just found a way," Joakim Noah said. "It was a good win for us."

Hamilton played after missing 12 games with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, finishing with nine points in almost 15 minutes.

"I thought he had a pretty good rhythm going," Thibodeau said. "That was a big plus."

Deng also returned from a right ankle injury that he sustained in the Christmas loss to the Rockets. He scored 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting.

The Bulls consider the victory a step forward after losing back-to-back games to the Rockets and Hawks. "The win was huge," Deng said.

Deng sat much of the fourth quarter, but Thibodeau said that was because he liked the lineup he at the time and not because of Deng's injury.

"It's good," Deng said of his ankle. "I'm glad I'm back on the court."

Belinelli's role going forward is undetermined, Thibodeau said. But it's clear he values Hamilton, a 14-year veteran, returning to the court.

"I am not sure yet," Thibodeau said of Belinelli's role. "We are going to go back and forth. 'Rip' was good today, taking everything into consideration. We need his minutes, we need his shots, and we need his points."

sryan@tribune.com

Twitter @sryantribune



Read More..

How to Banish That New Year's Eve Hangover


For those of us who enjoy the occasional cocktail, the holiday season would be incomplete without certain treats of the liquid variety. Some look forward to the creamy charms of rum-laced eggnog; others anticipate cupfuls of high-octane punch or mugs of warm, spiced wine.

No matter what's in your glass, raising one as the year winds down is tradition. What could be more festive? The problem is, one drink leads to two, then the party gets going and a third is generously poured. Soon, the music fades and the morning arrives—and with it, the dreaded hangover. (Explore a human-body interactive.)

Whether it's a pounding headache, a queasy stomach, sweating, or just general misery, the damage has been done. So now it's time to remedy the situation. What's the quickest way to banish the pain? It depends who you ask.

Doctors typically recommend water for hydration and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. Taking B vitamins is also good, according to anesthesiologist Jason Burke, because they help the body metabolize alcohol and produce energy.

Burke should know a thing or two about veisalgia, the medical term for hangover. At his Las Vegas clinic Hangover Heaven, Burke treats thousands of people suffering from the effects of drinking to excess with hydrating fluids and medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"No two hangovers are the same," he said, adding that the unfavorable condition costs society billions of dollars-mostly from lost productivity and people taking sick days from work.

Hot Peppers for Hangovers?

So what's the advice from the nonmedical community? Suggestions range from greasy breakfasts to vanilla milkshakes to spending time in a steamy sauna. A friend insists hot peppers are the only way to combat a hangover's wrath. Another swears by the palliative effects of a bloody mary. In fact, many people just have another drink, following the old "hair of the dog that bit you" strategy.

Whether such "cures" actually get rid of a hangover is debatable, but one thing's for sure: the sorry state is universal. The only people immune to hangovers are the ones who avoid alcohol altogether.

So for those who do indulge, even if it's just once in awhile, see our interactive featuring cures from around the world (also above). As New Year's Eve looms with its attendant excuse to imbibe, perhaps it would be wise to stock your refrigerator with one of these antidotes. Pickled herring, anyone?


Read More..

Woman Charged With Murder in NYC Subway Push













A woman who allegedly told New York City police she pushed a man onto the subway tracks because she hated Hindus and Muslims has been charged with murder as a hate crime.


Erica Menendez, 31, allegedly told police that she "pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I've been beating them up."


Menendez was taken into custody this morning after a two-day search, and when detectives were interviewing her she allegedly made the statements implicating herself in Thursday night's subway-platform death.


"The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter's worst nightmare -- being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train," Queen District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. "The victim was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself. Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant's actions can never be tolerated by a civilized society."


Menendez was due to be arraigned this evening. She could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the second degree murder charge.


On Thursday night, a woman shoved a man from a subway platform at Queens Boulevard, and the man was crushed beneath an oncoming train. Police had searched the area for her after the incident.










New York City Subway Pusher Charged With Murder Watch Video







The victim was Sunando Sen, identified by several media outlets as a graphic designer and Indian immigrant who opened a print shop, Amsterdam Copy, on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Sen was struck by the No. 7 train after the unidentified woman allegedly pushed him from the northbound platform at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard at 8:04 p.m. on Thursday.


Witnesses told police they had seen the woman mubling to herself, pacing along the platform. She gave Sen little time to react, witnesses said.


"Witnesses said she was walking back and forth on the platform, talking to herself, before taking a seat alone on a wooden bench near the north end of the platform. When the train pulled into the station, the suspect rose from the bench and pushed the man, who was standing with his back to her, onto the tracks into the path of the train," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said earlier today. "The victim appeared not to notice her, according to witnesses."


READ: What to Do If You Fall on the Subway Tracks


Police released brief surveillance video of the woman fleeing the subway station, and described the suspect as a woman in her 20s, "heavy set, approximately 5'5" with brown or blond hair."


It was New York's second death of this kind in less than a month. On Dec. 3, 58-year-old Ki-Suck Han of Queens was shoved onto the tracks at New York's Times Square subway station. Two days later, police took 30-year-old Naeem Davis into custody.


On Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was asked whether the attack might be related to the increase of mentally ill people on the streets following closures of institutions over the past four decades.


"The courts or the law have changed and said, no, you can't do that unless they're a danger to society. Our laws protect you," Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.



Read More..

Today on New Scientist: 28 December 2012







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Read More..

Japan's PM seeks security ties with Australia, India






TOKYO: Japan's hawkish new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to expand the Japan-US security partnership to Australia and India as it faces a bitter territorial row with China, a newspaper reported Saturday.

"The Japan-US alliance is the cornerstone," Abe, sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday, said in an interview with the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun.

"It's good to expand it to security co-operation among Japan, the United States and India. (Co-operation) among Japan, the United States and Australia will also contribute to stability in the region," Abe said.

"It is important to regain the region's power balance," he added without elaborating.

Abe won conservative support in national polls earlier this month with forthright pronouncements on the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, vowing not to budge on Japan's claim to them.

China also lays claim to the island chain, which it calls the Diaoyu.

Beijing has sent ships into the islands' waters many times since Tokyo nationalised the chain in September, with analysts saying China intends to prove it can come and go as it pleases.

- AFP/ck



Read More..

Chicago marks 500 homicides

Chicago police investigate the scene of a fatal shooting in the 1000 block of North Lavergne on Chicago's West Side. (Chris Sweda/ Chicago Tribune)









On the surface, Nathaniel Jackson fit the profile of the vast majority of Chicago's homicide victims in 2012 — he had a lengthy arrest record and alleged gang ties.


But when Jackson was shot and killed Thursday night, just months after getting out of prison, he also earned the unfortunate distinction of being the 500th homicide victim in Chicago this year, a grim milestone the city reached for the first time in four years.


While Chicago had almost twice as many slayings 20 years ago as it did this year, the number 500 is a largely symbolic threshold, a reminder of the year's escalated violence and a numerical bar the city had not reached since 513 were killed in 2008.








By mid-November the city already had tallied the most homicides in four years. As of Friday, Chicago had an estimated 17 percent increase in homicides over 2011, and an 11 percent increase in shootings, according to police.


The city's rising homicide tally has been a thorny issue for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy for much of the year.


"It was a milestone on those days when we had zero murders and zero shootings. Those are milestones. This is a negative one, something that we never wanted," McCarthy told the Tribune Thursday afternoon, hours before Jackson, 40, was killed. "But in perspective, there's no such thing as an acceptable murder number. Even if we cut it down to 300 next year, it's still … unacceptable."


The department went back and forth Friday over whether Jackson was the 500th homicide victim so far this year, at first confirming it and then denying it, saying a homicide last week had been reclassified as a death investigation, therefore making Jackson the 499th homicide. But by late afternoon, the department once again confirmed there had been 500 homicides.


"The city has seen its 500th homicide for 2012, a tragic number that is reflective of the gang violence and proliferation of illegal guns that have plagued some of our neighborhoods," McCarthy said in a statement. "Every homicide in Chicago is unacceptable to me and the hardworking men and women of the Chicago Police Department, who, this year, achieved a record drop in overall crime throughout our city."


Chicago's homicide rate also remains a major issue for Emanuel heading into the new year. Beyond the very real human cost, there's a perception problem for the city.


The homicide rate in Chicago far exceeds the rates in New York City and Los Angeles. While the homicide rate in LA has remained relatively flat and New York's has gone down — homicides there have fallen by more than 20 percent this year — Emanuel, known for carefully trying to craft the narrative of his tenure as mayor, has seen Chicago's violence attract national attention.


The mayor was on vacation Friday with his family but issued a statement to the Tribune:


"Chicago has reached an unfortunate and tragic milestone, which not only marks a needless loss of life but serves as a reminder of the damage that illegal guns and conflicts between gangs cause in our neighborhoods," Emanuel said, adding that his efforts to lengthen the public school day and provide before- and after-school programs for youths were part of the eventual solution.


Emanuel last week also noted that overall crime in Chicago was down about 8.5 percent for the year.


This previous winter was particularly violent. In the first three months of 2012, when the city experienced unseasonable warmth, homicides ran about 60 percent ahead of the 2011 rate. As the year went on, the increase in killings leveled out but still remained higher than in previous years.


In his statement Friday, McCarthy lauded the overall drop in crime in the city and said department efforts resulted in less violence in the latter part of 2012.


"CPD has put the right people in the right places to accomplish our long-term goal of reducing crime and ensuring that our streets and our neighborhoods belong to the residents of this city," McCarthy said in his statement. "Since the gang violence reduction strategy was adopted, we have seen drastic reductions in shootings and homicides that spiked early in the year."


Some within the department feel the disbanding of two specialized units that swooped into "hot spots" to reduce violent crime had a negative impact on this year's rate. After McCarthy was installed last year as the city's top cop, he eliminated those strike forces to move those officers to beat patrols, in the hope they would have more meaningful and positive interactions with the community. The department now uses cops who work all over the city to fulfill the same function as the strike forces, but these "area teams" comprise fewer officers.


McCarthy has blamed the proliferation of guns on Chicago's streets and the splintering of large street gangs into small factions as reasons for the homicide spike.


In October, the Tribune reported that 1 in 4 homicide victims this year were affiliated with the Gangster Disciples, the city's largest street gang, and one also riddled with internal conflict.


Jackson, who authorities described as being affiliated with the Four Corner Hustlers street gang, falls into a category shared by more than 80 percent of Chicago's 2012 homicide victims: those with criminal histories.





Read More..

How to Banish That New Year's Eve Hangover


For those of us who enjoy the occasional cocktail, the holiday season would be incomplete without certain treats of the liquid variety. Some look forward to the creamy charms of rum-laced eggnog; others anticipate cupfuls of high-octane punch or mugs of warm, spiced wine.

No matter what's in your glass, raising one as the year winds down is tradition. What could be more festive? The problem is, one drink leads to two, then the party gets going and a third is generously poured. Soon, the music fades and the morning arrives—and with it, the dreaded hangover. (Explore a human-body interactive.)

Whether it's a pounding headache, a queasy stomach, sweating, or just general misery, the damage has been done. So now it's time to remedy the situation. What's the quickest way to banish the pain? It depends who you ask.

Doctors typically recommend water for hydration and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. Taking B vitamins is also good, according to anesthesiologist Jason Burke, because they help the body metabolize alcohol and produce energy.

Burke should know a thing or two about veisalgia, the medical term for hangover. At his Las Vegas clinic Hangover Heaven, Burke treats thousands of people suffering from the effects of drinking to excess with hydrating fluids and medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"No two hangovers are the same," he said, adding that the unfavorable condition costs society billions of dollars-mostly from lost productivity and people taking sick days from work.

Hot Peppers for Hangovers?

So what's the advice from the nonmedical community? Suggestions range from greasy breakfasts to vanilla milkshakes to spending time in a steamy sauna. A friend insists hot peppers are the only way to combat a hangover's wrath. Another swears by the palliative effects of a bloody mary. In fact, many people just have another drink, following the old "hair of the dog that bit you" strategy.

Whether such "cures" actually get rid of a hangover is debatable, but one thing's for sure: the sorry state is universal. The only people immune to hangovers are the ones who avoid alcohol altogether.

So for those who do indulge, even if it's just once in awhile, see our interactive featuring cures from around the world (also above). As New Year's Eve looms with its attendant excuse to imbibe, perhaps it would be wise to stock your refrigerator with one of these antidotes. Pickled herring, anyone?


Read More..

Epic Journey: Did Moses' Exodus Really Happen?













In the Bible, he is called Moses. In the Koran, he is the prophet Musa.


Religious scholars have long questioned whether of the story of a prophet leading God's chosen people in a great exodus out of Egypt and the freedom it brought them afterwards was real, but the similarities between a pharaoh's ancient hymn and a psalm of David might hold the link to his existence.


Tune in to Part 2 of Christiane Amanpour's ABC News special, "Back to the Beginning," which explores the history of the Bible from Genesis to Jesus, on Friday, Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.


Christian scripture says Moses was content to grow old with his family in the vast deserted wilderness of Midian, and 40 years passed until the Bible says God spoke to him through the Burning Bush and told him to lead his people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. According to tradition, that miraculous bush can still be seen today enclosed within the ancient walls of St. Catherine's Monastery, located not far from Moses' hometown.


But there was another figure in the ancient world who gave up everything to answer the call from what he believed was the one and only true God.


Archaeologists discovered the remains of the ancient city of Amarna in the 1800s. Egyptologist Rawya Ismail, who has been studying the ruins for years, believes, as other archaeologists do, that Pharaoh Akhenaten built the city as a tribute to Aten, the sun.






G.Sioen/De Agostini/Getty Images











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She said it was a bold and unusual step for the pharaoh to leave the luxurious trappings of palace life in Luxor for the inhospitable landscape of Amarna, but it might have been his only choice as the priests from the existing religious establishment gained power.


"The very powerful Amun-Ra priests that he couldn't stand against gained control of the whole country," Ismail said. "The idea was to find a place that had never been used by any other gods -- to be virgin is what he called it -- so he chose this place."


All over the walls inside the city's beautiful tombs are examples of Akhanaten's radical message of monotheism. There is the Hymn to the Aten, which translates, in part, to: "The earth comes into being by your hand, as you made it. When you dawn, they live. When you set, they die. You yourself are lifetime, one lives by you."


PHOTOS: Christiane Amanpour's Journey 'Back to the Beginning'


Some attribute the writing of the hymn to Akhanaten himself, but it bears a striking resemblance to a passage that can be found in the Hebrew Bible: Psalm 104.


"If you compare the hymns from A to Z, you'll find mirror images to it in many of the holy books," Ismail said. "And if you compare certain parts of it, you'll find it almost exactly -- a typical translation for some of the [psalms] of David."


Psalm 104, written a few hundred years later, references a Lord that ruled over Israel and a passage compares him to the sun.


"You hide your face, they are troubled," part of it reads. "You take away your breath, they die, And return to dust. You send forth your breath, they are created, And you renew the face of the earth."


Like the psalm, the Hymn to Aten extols the virtues of the one true God.


"A lot of people think that [the Hymn to Aten] was the source of the [psalms] of David," Ismail said. "Putting Egypt on the trade route, a lot of people traveled from Egypt and came back to Egypt, it wasn't like a country living in isolation."


Ismail believes it is possible that the message from the heretic pharaoh has some connection to the story of Moses and the Exodus, as outlined in the Hebrew Bible.




Read More..

Today on New Scientist: 27 December 2012









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Read More..

Indian gang-rape victim fighting for her life






SINGAPORE: The condition of the Indian gang-rape victim continues to remain in an extremely critical condition.

Dr Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of Mount Elizabeth Hospital, said the patient is still receiving treatment in the intensive care unit.

Dr Loh said the medical team's investigations on Thursday showed that in addition to her prior cardiac arrest, the patient had infection of her lungs and abdomen, as well as significant brain injury.

Dr Loh said the patient is struggling against the odds and fighting for her life.

A multi-disciplinary team of specialists has been working tirelessly to treat her since her arrival on Thursday morning. The team is doing everything possible to stabilise her condition over the next few days.

The hospital added that the High Commission of India has been fully supportive in helping the hospital and her family, and ensuring that the best care is made available.

- CNA/ck



Read More..

Gulf War General Schwarzkopf dies










WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., the hard-charging U.S. Army general whose forces smashed the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War, has died at the age of 78, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

The highly decorated four-star general died at 2:22 p.m. EST (1922 GMT) at his home in Tampa, Florida, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Schwarzkopf, a burly Vietnam War veteran known to his troops as Stormin' Norman, commanded more than 540,000 U.S. troops and 200,000 allied forces in a six-week war that routed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait in 1991, capping his 34-year military career.

Some experts hailed Schwarzkopf's plan to trick and outflank Hussein's forces with a sweeping armored movement as one of the great accomplishments in military history. The maneuver ended the ground war in only 100 hours.

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who built the international coalition against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait, said he and his wife "mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation," according to a statement released by his spokesman.

Bush has been hospitalized in Houston since late November.

In a statement, the White House called Schwarzkopf "an American original" whose "legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service."

PHYSICAL PRESENCE

Schwarzkopf was a familiar sight on international television during the war, clad in camouflage fatigues and a cap. He conducted fast-paced briefings and reviewed his troops with a purposeful stride and a physical presence of the sort that clears bar rooms.

Little known before Iraqi forces invaded neighboring Kuwait, Schwarzkopf made a splash with quotable comments. At one briefing he addressed Saddam's military reputation.

"As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist," he said, "he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man, I want you to know that."

Schwarzkopf returned from the war a hero and there was talk of him running for public office. Instead, he wrote an autobiography - "It Doesn't Take a Hero" - and served as a military analyst.

He also acted as a spokesman for the fight against prostate cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 1993.

Schwarzkopf was born August 22, 1934, in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., the head of the New Jersey State Police. At the time, the older Schwarzkopf was leading the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh's infant son, one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century.

The younger Schwarzkopf graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1956. He earned a masters degree in guided-missile engineering from the University of Southern California and later taught engineering at West Point.

Schwarzkopf saw combat twice - in Vietnam and Grenada - in a career that included command of units from platoon to theater size, training as a paratrooper and stints at Army staff colleges.

CHESTFUL OF MEDALS

He led his men in firefights in two tours of Vietnam and commanded all U.S. ground forces in the 1983 Grenada invasion. His chestful of medals included three Silver and three Bronze Stars for valor and two Purple Hearts for Vietnam wounds.

In Vietnam, he won a reputation as an officer who would put his life on the line to protect his troops. In one particularly deadly fight on the Batangan Peninsula, Schwarzkopf led his men through a minefield, in part by having the mines marked with shaving cream.

In 1988, Schwarzkopf was put in charge of the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, with responsibility for the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In that role, he prepared a plan to protect the Gulf's oil fields from a hypothetical invasion by Iraq. Within months, the plan was in use.

A soldier's soldier in an era of polished, politically conscious military technocrats, Schwarzkopf's mouth sometimes got him in trouble. In one interview, he said he had recommended to Bush that allied forces destroy Iraq's military instead of stopping the war after a clear victory.

Schwarzkopf later apologized after both Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney fired back that there was no contradiction among military leaders to Bush's decision to leave some of Saddam's military intact.

After retirement, Schwarzkopf spoke his mind on military matters. In 2003, when the United States was on the verge of invading Iraq under President George W. Bush, Schwarzkopf said he was unsure whether there was sufficient evidence that Iraq had nuclear weapons.

He also criticized Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense at the time, telling the Washington Post that during war-time television appearances "he almost sometimes seems to be enjoying it."

Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, who he married in 1968, had two daughters and one son.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised Schwarzkopf as "one of the great military giants of the 20th century."

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he "embodied the warrior spirit," and called the victory over Hussein's forces the hallmark of his career.

(Reporting by David Alexander, Ian Simpson and Roberta Rampton; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Stacey Joyce and Todd Eastham)

Read More..

How to Live to a Ripe Old Age


Cento di questi giorni. May you have a hundred birthdays, the Italians say, and some of them do.

So do other people in various spots around the world—in Blue Zones, so named by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner for the blue ink that outlines these special areas on maps developed over more than a decade. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

In his second edition of his book The Blue Zones, Buettner writes about a newly identified Blue Zone: the Greek island of Ikaria (map). National Geographic magazine Editor at Large Cathy Newman interviewed him about the art of living long and well. (Watch Buettner talk about how to live to a hundred.)

Q. You've written about Blue Zones in Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; Nicoa, Costa Rica and Okinawa, Japan. How did you find your way to Ikaria?

A. Michel Poulain, a demographer on the project, and I are always on the lookout for new Blue Zones. This one popped up in 2008. We got a lead from a Greek foundation looking for biological markers in aging people. The census data showed clusters of villages there with a striking proportion of people 85 or older. (Also see blog: "Secrets of the Happiest Places on Earth.")

In the course of your quest you've been introduced to remarkable individuals like 100-year-old Marge Jetton of Loma Linda, California, who starts the day with a mile-long [0.6-kilometer] walk, 6 to 8 miles [10 to 13 kilometers] on a stationary bike, and weight lifting. Who is the most memorable Blue Zoner you've met?

Without question it's Stamatis Moraitis, who lives in Ikaria. I believe he's 102. He's famous for partying. He makes 400 liters [100 gallons] of wine from his vineyards each year, which he drinks with his friends. His house is the social hot spot of the island. (See "Longevity Genes Found; Predict Chances of Reaching 100.")

He's also the Ikarian who emigrated to the United States, was diagnosed with lung cancer in his 60s, given less then a year to live, and who returned to Ikaria to die. Instead, he recovered.

Yes, he never went through chemotherapy or treatment. He just moved back to Ikaria.

Did anyone figure out how he survived?

Nope. He told me he returned to the U.S. ten years after he left to see if the American doctors could explain it. I asked him what happened. "My doctors were all dead," he said.

One of the common factors that seem to link all Blue Zone people you've spoken with is a life of hard work—and sometimes hardship. Your thoughts?

I think we live in a culture that relentlessly pursues comfort. Ease is related to disease. We shouldn't always be fleeing hardship. Hardship also brings people together. We should welcome it.

Sounds like another version of the fable of the grasshopper and the ant?

You rarely get satisfaction sitting in an easy chair. If you work in a garden on the other hand, and it yields beautiful tomatoes, that's a good feeling.

Can you talk about diet? Not all of us have access to goat milk, for example, which you say is typically part of an Ikarian breakfast.

There is nothing exotic about their diet, which is a version of a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes vegetables, beans, fruit, olive oil, and moderate amounts of alcohol. (Read more about Buettner's work in Ikaria in National Geographic Adventure.)

All things in moderation?

Not all things. Socializing is something we should not do in moderation. The happiest Americans socialize six hours a day.

The people you hang out with help you hang on to life?

Yes, you have to pay attention to your friends. Health habits are contagious. Hanging out with unhappy people who drink and smoke is hazardous to your health.

So how has what you've learned influenced your own lifestyle?

One of the big things I've learned is that there's an advantage to regular low-intensity activity. My previous life was setting records on my bike. [Buettner holds three world records in distance cycling.] Now I use my bike to commute. I only eat meat once a week, and I always keep nuts in my office: Those who eat nuts live two to three more years than those who don't.

You also write about having a purpose in life.

Purpose is huge. I know exactly what my values are and what I love to do. That's worth additional years right there. I say no to a lot of stuff that would be easy money but deviates from my meaning of life.

The Japanese you met in Okinawa have a word for that?

Yes. Ikigai: "The reason for which I wake in the morning."

Do you have a non-longevity-enhancing guilty pleasure?

Tequila is my weakness.

And how long would you like to live?

I'd like to live to be 200.


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Gen. 'Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf Dead at 78













H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the retired general credited with leading U.S.-allied forces to a victory in the first Gulf War, died today at age 78.


The man who Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today called "one of the great military giants of the 20th century" died in Tampa, Fla., where he lived in retirement, the Associated Press reported.


"The men and women of the Department of Defense join me in mourning the loss of General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose 35 years of service in uniform left an indelible imprint on the United States military and on the country," Panetta said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family in this time of sadness and grief."


Schwarzkopf, called "Stormin' Norman" because of his reportedly explosive temper, led America to two military victories: a small one in Grenada in the 1980s and a big one as de facto commander of allied forces in the Gulf War in 1991.


"'Stormin' Norman' led the coalition forces to victory, ejecting the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and restoring the rightful government," read a statement by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War. "His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation."


WATCH: Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf to Saddam Hussein: 'Get Outta Town'


Schwarzkopf's success during that fight, also known as Operation Desert Storm, came under President George H.W. Bush, who through his office today mourned "the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."








Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf to Saddam Hussein: 'Get Outta Town' Watch Video









Gen. Schwarzkopf's '5 Minutes of Unimportant Questions' Watch Video









George H.W. Bush Hospitalized in ICU After 'Setbacks' Watch Video





"Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises," Bush said. "More than that, he was a good and decent man -- and a dear friend."


Bush's office released the statement though the former president, himself, was ill, hospitalized in Texas with a stubborn fever and on a liquids-only diet.


The current White House occupant, President Obama, also memorialized Schwarzkopf, declaring him "an American original" who "stood tall for the country and Army he loved."


The future four-star general was born Aug. 24, 1934, in Trenton, N.J.


Schwarzkopf's father, who shared his name, directed the investigation of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping as head of the New Jersey State Police, later becoming a brigadier general in the U.S. Army.


Schwarzkopf was raised as an army brat in Iran, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, following in his father's footsteps to West Point, earning an engineering degree and being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1956.


WATCH: Gen. Schwarzkopf's '5 Minutes of Unimportant Questions'


He earned three Silver Stars for bravery during two tours in Vietnam, gaining a reputation as an opinionated, plain-spoken commander with a sharp temper who would risk his own life for his soldiers.


"He had volunteered to go to Vietnam early just so he could get there before the war ended," said former Army Col. William McKinney, who knew Schwarzkopf from their days at West Point, according to ABC News Radio.


In 1983, as a newly-minted general, Schwarzkopf once again led troops into battle in President Reagan's invasion of Granada, a tiny Caribbean island where the White House saw American influence threatened by a Cuban-backed coup.


But he gained most of his fame in Iraq, where he used his 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame and fearsome temper to drive his forces to victory.


"He was known as a soldier's general," said retired Maj. Gen. Donald Shepperd, as he explained the "Stormin' Norman" nickname to ABC News Radio. "In other words, he really liked the troops and was soft on the troops. But boy, on his general officers, his officers, his NCO's, he was very, very tough and he had a real quick temper."


PHOTOS: In Memoriam: People We Lost in 2012


Gruff and direct, Schwarzkopf said during the Gulf War that his goal was to win the war as quickly as possible and with a focused objective: getting Iraq out of Kuwait.






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