Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas and the Islamic University of Gaza in Palestine

The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian election has generated interest in the leadership of the organization. There is one thing that may have passed unnoticed: Three of its leaders Mahmoud Zahhar, Ismail Haniya and Abdel-Aziz Rantissi (assassinated by Israel in 2004), were faculty of the Islamic University of Gaza in Palestine. ...continues here!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

California declares smoke 'toxic'

This is an additional reason why I like California!

California has become the first US state to classify second-hand tobacco smoke as a toxic air pollutant.

The decision by the California Air Resources Board puts drifting smoke in the same category as diesel exhaust, and could lead to tougher regulation. The agency said many scientific studies had linked passive smoking to a range of cancers and respiratory diseases. California pioneered smoking bans in the workplace, and later in restaurants and bars. ...continues here!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Choice increases segregation?

The following article appeared in the Guardian today (,,1694612,00.html?gusrc=ticker-103704) under the title: Choice increases segregation, schools research shows. I disagree with the title. The research quoted does not “show”. It merely indicates. To infer causality requires much more than establishing association. However, the findings presented in the article are strong evidence in support of the claim. ...continues here!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Update: Michael Ignatieff not only succeeded but he has a bright future ahead!

(see my earlier posting, two days ago).

Michael Ignatieff, the scholar and writer, was touted as a future Canadian prime minister when he left Harvard University last November to stand as a candidate for the ruling Liberal party in a suburban Toronto constituency. That scenario may yet come true. But the results of Monday’s general election have made Mr Ignatieff’s path to the top of Canadian politics more circuitous than he or his supporters might have imagined two months ago. Mr Ignatieff won in Etobicoke-Lakeshore by a comfortable margin, overcoming resistance among some local Liberal supporters. A group of Ukrainians protested that the party leadership had circumvented the rules to secure his nomination. Others noted that he had not lived in Canada for almost three decades in a career that included teaching in Britain at both Oxford and Cambridge universities, becoming a regular on BBC television programmes and reporting on the Balkan wars.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New report says climate action promotes economic growth in the state of California

George Bush thinks differently.

– A team of two dozen prominent experts led by professors from the University of California, Berkeley, released a new report today (Monday, Jan. 23) on the economic implications of meeting global warming emissions reduction targets established by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. ...continues here!

Dozens of federal agencies in the US track Web visitors illegally

Is this news?

Dozens of federal agencies are tracking visits to U.S. government Web sites in violation of long-standing rules designed to protect online privacy, a CNET investigation shows ( ...continues here!

Hamas: Talks with Israel not a taboo

Will it be Hamas that will make peace with Israel after all?

Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar raised the possibility on Monday of future negotiations with Israel through a third party. "Negotiations are a means. If Israel has anything to offer on the issues of halting attacks, withdrawal, releasing prisoners ... then 1,000 means can be found," Senior al-Zahar told reporters. As an example, he cited contacts Lebanese group Hizbullah held with Israel, via German mediators, for the release of Lebanese held in Israeli jails."Negotiation is not a taboo," al-Zahar said. "But the political crime is when we sit with the Israelis and then come out with a wide smile to tell the Palestinian people that there is progress, when in fact, there is not.

Israel officials have been debating recently how to react in the face of an expected Hamas gains in the elections. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert already appointed a special team to closely monitor security and diplomatic developments on that front.,7340,L-3205217,00.html


Podcasts spread their wings

How quick will politicians be to utilize this new way of communication?

Suddenly, it seems, podcasting has broken through to a new level. The BBC's first published podcast chart reveals that the Radio Four Today programme's main interview was downloaded more than 400,000 times last month, second only, among BBC programmes, to Radio One's Chris Moyles Show. But the real change is in the way other media groups are now using podcasts to challenge broadcasters such as the BBC. ...continues here!

Blair's education 'highwire act'

I think TB is right in what he is trying to do. Many people disagree. One thing is certain: He can deliver his political message in a very powerful way. ...continues here!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A well-known Professor, candidate in the Canadian election

It is never too late for a professor to fulfill his political ambitions! (Or is it a dream, never going to come true?) .

On the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario, in a former bank covered with posters screaming his name, one of the Western world's most-noted intellectuals is sitting down to a dinner of ham and potatoes. It is a long way from Harvard for Michael Ignatieff, former Carr professor of the Practice of Human Rights and director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at the university ( ...continues here!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bird flu researchers warn against drugs hopes

Big money is made when people panic and Governments bow to media pressure

A BIRD flu pandemic will not be stopped by mass stockpiling of antiviral drugs, according to an authoritative study. The review, published in The Lancet, warns there is no evidence Tamiflu, which the government is stockpiling, is effective against the virus. ...continues here!

Google defies US over search data

Who is right and who is wrong?

The internet search engine Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for. Google was asked for information on the types of query submitted over a week, and the websites included in its index. The department wants the data to try to show in court it has the right approach in enforcing an online pornography law. Privacy groups say any sample could reveal the identities of Google users indirectly. And they say the demand is a worrying precedent, because the government also wants to make more use of internet data for fighting crime and terrorism. ...continues here!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Doctor made up cancer study: hospital

Another case of falsification of data to produce “scientific” claims published in a prestigious journal (LANCET), this time from Norway! ...continues here!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Paper retraction by Science Magazine

The retraction by Science, of the 2004 paper by Hwang Woo-Suk reinforces my belief (see also: S Korea cloning research was fake in this blog), that data used to support scientific claims should by publicly available. ...continues here!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl named president of Association of American Universities

It is significant that a Professor (and a former chancellor) of a public University becomes the leader of the American Universities. This is an excerpt of his views. Is this an indication of a turn back to basic research? (as opposed to market-needs research). ...continues here!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dutch cannabis policy challenged

Things are taking a strange, though predictable, turn. Now Europe has to make a clear decision.
's Mayor Gerd Leers has told the Dutch parliament that the licensing system that allows coffee shops to sell 5g of cannabis to each customer should be extended, to allow them to grow their own plants. "They should have a permit to grow their own cannabis so that they can cut their ties with the criminals," the mayor says. "That way we can control things. At the moment our system is so hypocritical." ...continues here!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

France's 'pursuit of harmony' (Greece’s too?)

I read a piece about France, and the mentality of social cohesion. I don’t know how accurate it is (coming from a Briton), but I found it very interesting. I think that there exists a similar mentality in Greece. In theoretical terms, this mentality is wrong. However this is a case where one wonders whether the happiness of the people in a certain period of history counterbalances the negative economic indicators. ...continues here!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Clarke paves way for U-turn on cannabis

Is this the result of a careful study of the evidence or of giving in to electoral considerations?

Charles Clarke, the UK home secretary, was criticised yesterday from both sides of the debate on the misuse of drugs when he publicly indicated that he is considering restoring the class B status of cannabis in the light of medical evidence. In what the tabloids labelled a "humiliating climbdown" from the decision of his predecessor, David Blunkett, to downgrade the widely used drug to class C, Mr Clarke used media interviews to signal his approval of an imminent report, which he has already read, from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. ...continues here!