Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenkovi?

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Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenkovi?

November 20th, 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018

Vlada Stamenkovi? and his colleagues developed a new model which raises the possibility of oxygen-rich brines on Mars; enough, perhaps, to support simple animals such as sponges. One of our volunteer reporters for Wikinews caught up with him in an email interview to find out more about their research and their plans for the future.

The atmosphere of Mars is far too thin for us to breathe, or indeed, to extract any oxygen at all in our lungs. It has on average only around 0.6% of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, and it is mainly carbon dioxide; only 0.146% of that is oxygen. Yet the result of their modeling was clear, these minute traces of oxygen should be able to get into salty seeps of water on or near its surface, at levels high enough to support at least some forms of microbial life that require oxygen, and possibly higher life too, maybe even simple sponges.

As interviewed by Wikinews:

VS: Our work really opens up new possibilities for the Martian habitability, and that’s why it’s so exciting!

As previously interviewed by National Geographic (October 22):

Vlada Stamenkovi?: We were absolutely flabbergasted. I went back to recalculate everything like five different times to make sure it’s a real thing.

So, why is their research about briny seeps rather than fresh water? Mars is so dry because fresh water is not stable over most of its surface. Even with the higher pressure at the depths of the huge ancient impact crater of the Hellas basin, with a boiling point of 10 °C, it is close to boiling point already at 0 °C, and would evaporate rapidly.

However, salty brines can be liquid at much lower temperatures. Salts and very salty brines can actually take in water from the atmosphere at low temperatures. Curiosity discovered indirect evidence of this process (through humidity measurements). It found that brines form during winter nights in the top 15cm of the soil through deliquescence, taking up water from the atmosphere at around -70 °C. This water then evaporates again as the soil warms up through the day, and the process repeats every day – night cycle.

There is other indirect evidence that salty brines may exist, perhaps more habitable than the Curiosity brines, even though the atmosphere is so thin and the climate so cold. In their paper, the authors mention one of the lines of evidence, the hydrated magnesium and calcium salts associated with the Recurring Slope Lineae. These are seasonal streaks that form in spring on sun facing slopes, extend and broaden through the summer and fade away in autumn. These streaks are not thought to be damp patches themselves but may be associated with thin seeps of brine just below the surface.

If these habitats do exist, scientists have assumed up to now that any life on present day Mars had to be capable of growth without oxygen. Based on Mars simulation experiments, these could include certain blue-green algae such as chroococcidiopsis, some black fungi, and some purple salt loving haloarchaea found in salt ponds and hypersaline lakes on Earth.

The significance of oxygen is that it permits a more energy intensive metabolism and perhaps even true multicellular animal life such as simple sponges. Almost all complex multicellular life uses oxygen.

As previously interviewed by Scientific American (October 22):

VS: Our work is calling for a complete revision for how we think about the potential for life on Mars, and the work oxygen can do, implying that if life ever existed on Mars it might have been breathing oxygen

The authors cite research from 2014 that showed that some simple sponges can survive with only 0.002 molesper cubic meter (0.064 mg per liter) . Some microbes that need oxygen can survive with as little as a millionth of a mole per cubic meter (0.000032 mg, or 32 nanograms per liter). In their model, they found that there can be enough oxygen for microbes throughout Mars, and enough for simple sponges in oases near the poles.

This isn’t the first suggestion for multicellular life on Mars. Some lichens, such as Pleopsidium chlorophanum are able to survive in close to Mars-like conditions high up on Antarctic mountain ranges, and show promise in Mars simulation chamber experiments. However, they can do this because the algal component is able to make the oxygen needed by its fungal component. Even animal life is not completely ruled out in anoxic brines. These are not candidates for life on Mars, but three species of Loricifera, tiny animals about the size of a large amoeba, are able to survive without oxygen in deep extremely salty mud sediments in the Mediterranean.

However, this new research greatly expands the possibilities for complex life on Mars.

The paper includes a map of potential brine oxygen concentrations for the surface of Mars (their figure 4). These would be higher at the lowest points such as the floor of the Hellas basin, south of the equator, where the atmospheric pressure is highest, reaching around 1% of Earth’s atmosphere and lowest of all in the mountainous southern uplands.

However the highest oxygen concentrations of all, occur when the water is colder, which is most easily attained in polar regions. They studied mixtures of magnesium and calcium perchlorates, common on Mars. In simulation experiments these stay liquid as they are supercooled to temperatures as low as -123 to -133 °C before they transition to a glassy state. They do this even when mixed with the soil of Mars (regolith). It’s at these very low temperatures that the optimal oxygen concentrations can be reached.

They found that oxygen levels throughout Mars would be high enough for the least demanding aerobic (oxygen using) microbes, with around 25 millionths of a mole per cubic meter (0.0008 mg per liter) even in the southern uplands. However it is here at the polar regions poleward of about 67.5° to the north and about ? 72.5° to the south, that oxygen concentrations could be high enough for simple sponges. Indeed the paper suggests that in regions closer to the poles, concentrations could go even higher, right up to the levels typical of sea water on Earth, 0.2 moles per cubic meter (6.4 mg per liter). With their best case estimate and supercooling it could potentially go up all the way through to levels far higher than those in sea water, at two moles per cubic meter (64 mg per liter – a mole of oxygen is a little under 32 grams). . By comparison worms and clams that live in the muddy sea bed require 1 mg per liter, bottom feeders such as crabs and oysters 3 mg per liter and spawning migratory fish 6 mg per liter. Saturated sea water is about 9 mg per liter at 20 °C ranging up to 11 mg per liter at 0 °C.

Wikinews asked him whether their research suggests potential for life as active as this.

((Wikinews)) Does your paper’s value of up to 0.2 moles of oxygen per cubic meter, the same as Earth’s sea water mean that there could potentially be life on Mars as active as our sea worms or even fish?

VS: Mars is such a different place than the Earth and we still need to do so much more work before we can even start to speculate.

((WN)) (background information): In their model, Oxygen gets into the brines at the poles so readily because they may reach extremely cold temperatures. These are far below the usual cold limit of life. It is not a hard limit because life gets slower and slower at lower temperatures to the point where individual microbes have lifetimes of millennia. Such life is hard to study, to see whether it is active and able to reproduce at those temperatures or dormant. But the usual limit cited is -20 °C. That’s well above the lowest temperatures studied in the paper which go down to -133 °C.

Dirk Schulze-Makuch has proposed that Martian life might evolve an exotic metabolism with the perchlorates of Mars taking the place of the salts inside the cells of Earth life. This would have advantages on Mars, with the brines inside their own cells acting as an anti-freeze to protect them against extreme cold. Also with their salts being so hygroscopic, they may help them scavenge water from the atmosphere and their surroundings.

With this background, Wikinews asked:

((WN)) The temperatures for the highest levels of oxygen are really low -133 °C, so, is the idea that this oxygen would be retained when the brines warm up to more habitable temperatures during the day or seasonally? Or would the oxygen be lost as it warms up? Or – is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch’s life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze?

VS: The options are both: first, cool oxygen-rich environments do not need to be habitats. They could be reservoirs packed with a necessary nutrient that can be accessed from a deeper and warmer region. Second, the major reason for limiting life at low temperature is ice nucleation, which would not occur in the type of brines that we study.

((WN)) (background information): His first suggestion here is that the cool oxygen rich reservoirs could have warmer water come up through them from below. He doesn’t say where the warm water would come from, but one possibility is from geological hot spots. Our orbiting spacecraft have not yet found any, but Olympus Mons has been active as recently as 2.5 million years ago. If sources of warmer water could rise to the surface from below and encounter these cold oxygen-rich brines, life could make use of oxygen where the two mix.

The other possibility is an exotic biochemistry. He remarks that the brines he studies don’t form ice crystals when cooled. Indeed, as they explain in the paper, they smoothly transition to a glassy state after supercooling, which makes the conditions easier for life.

Their research also helps to explain the presence of some minerals on the Mars surface, such as manganese oxides which require conditions of water and oxygen to form. These could be evidence that the early Mars atmosphere was thick and oxygen rich (which doesn’t require life; it could for instance be oxygen rich due to ionizing radiation splitting water). However this new reseach shows that these minerals could form even without an oxygen rich atmosphere.

As previously interviewed by National Geographic (October 22):

VS: Our explanation doesn’t need any special magic — it works on Mars today,

((WN)) (background information): The idea that Mars had enough oxygen in the past for marine animals, billions of years ago, when the atmosphere was thicker, is not too surprising nowadays since the discovery of those manganese oxides. That it may have enough right now is what is so very surprising about this new research, given that it has such a thin atmosphere, with so little oxygen in it. The atmosphere is unbreathable, its trace amounts of oxygen can’t be used by any form of terrestrial animal life, but the brines may be another story.

The paper is theoretical and is based on a simplified general circulation model of the Mars atmosphere – it ignores distinctions of seasons and the day / night cycle. But it takes account of topography (mountains, craters etc) and the axial tilt. They combined it with a chemical model of how oxygen would dissolve in the brines and used this to establish predicted oxygen levels in the brines at the various locations on Mars.

Wikinews asked if they have plans to look into a more detailed model:

((WN)) and about whether there are any future plans for using a more detailed model with time variation diurnally or seasonally.

VS: Yes, we are now exploring the kinetics part and want to see what happens on shorter timescales.

((WN)) (background information): Their model took account of the tilt of the Mars axis, which varies much more than for Earth (our axis is stabilized by the presence of the Moon). They found that for the last five million years conditions were particularly favorable for oxygen rich brines, and that it continues like this for ten million years into the future, as far as they ran the model. For the last twenty million years, as far back as they took their modeling, oases with enough oxygen for sponges are still possible.

Remarkably, as they say in the paper, present day Mars would have more oxygen available for life than early Earth had prior to 1.4 billion years ago. On Earth, photosynthesis seems to have come first, generating the oxygen for the first animals. On Mars, with a different source for oxygen, oxygen breathers could arise before photosynthesis, which gives broader opportunities for oxygen-breathing life on other planets.

Wikinews asked Vlada Stamenkovi? if he had any ideas about whether and how sponges could survive through times when the tilt was higher and less oxygen would be available:

((WN)) I notice from your figure 4 that there is enough oxygen for sponges only at tilts of about 45 degrees or less. Do you have any thoughts about how sponges could survive periods of time in the distant past when the Mars axial tilt exceeds 45 degrees, for instance, might there be subsurface oxygen rich oases in caves that recolonize the surface? Also what is the exact figure for the tilt at which oxygen levels sufficient for sponges become possible? (It looks like about 45 degrees from the figure but the paper doesn’t seem to give a figure for this).

VS: 45 deg is approx. the correct degree. We were also tempted to speculate about this temporal driver but realized that we still know so little about the potential for life on Mars/principles of life that anything related to this question would be pure speculation, unfortunately.

((WN)) (background information): When the Phoenix lander landed on Mars in 2008, what appeared to be droplets formed on its legs. They grew, coalesced, and then disappeared, presumably falling off its legs. It was not able to analyze these droplets, but simulations since then in Mars simulation chambers have shown that such droplets can form within minutes when salt overlays ice on Mars. With this background then Wikinews asked him if he had investigated the timescale, and if so, whether these brines could become oxygenated.

((WN)) How quickly would the oxygen get into the brines – did you investigate the timescale?

VS: No, we did not yet study the dynamics. We first needed to show that the potential is there. We are now studying the timescales and processes.

((WN)) (background information): It is no wonder that this is a challenge. For instance, Curiosity measures temperature changes of around 70 °C between day and night. Also there are large pressure differences between summer and winter. In Gale crater it varied from under 7.5 mbar to nearly 9.5 mbar. There are also large pressure differences between day and night, varying by 10% compared to a tenth of a percent on Earth. On Earth we see such large pressure differences only during a major hurricane.

((WN)) Could the brines that Nilton Renno and his teams simulated forming on salt / ice interfaces within minutes in Mars simulation conditions get oxygenated in the process of formation? If not, how long would it take for them to get oxygenated to levels sufficient for aerobic microbes? For instance could the Phoenix leg droplets have taken up enough oxygen for aerobic respiration by microbes?

VS: Just like the answer above. Dynamics is still to be explored. (But this is a really good question ?).

Wikinews also asked how their research is linked to the recent discovery of possible large subglacial lake 1.5 km below the Martian South Pole found through radar mapping.

((WN)) Some news stories coupled your research with the subglacial lakes announcement earlier this year. Could the oxygen get through ice into layers of brines such as the possible subglacial lakes at a depth of 1.5 km?

VS: There are other ways to create oxygen. Radiolysis of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen can liberate oxygen in the deep and that O2 could be dissolved in deep groundwater. The radiolytic power for this would come from radionuclides naturally contained in rocks, something we observe in diverse regions on Earth.

((WN)) (ebackground information): There’s research by Möhlmann that suggests that fresh liquid water may form in the Martian polar region a few centimeters below clear ice, a process that happens regularly in Antarctica. If similar clear ice exists on Mars, this process should happen even at very low surface temperatures. Our reporter, referring to this research, asked him:

((WN)) Could it get into a layer of fresh water just 30 cms below clear ice melted by the solid state greenhouse effect, as in Möhlmann’s model (which forms subsurface liquid water at surface temperatures as low as -56 °C).

VS: See response above.

((WN)) (background information): So, his answer here is that it could be possible by the same process, radiolysis of the ice through radioactivity in the rocks.

If there are indeed biologically friendly oases dotted throughout the surface of Mars then this could make it harder to sterilize spacecraft sufficiently to explore Mars. They have to be sterilized in order to avoid introducing Earth life to the habitats and so confusing the searches. If the surface of Mars has these oxygen rich habitable brines then it makes the sterilization requirements more stringent. As the Scientific American article suggests, it might be necessary to sterilize robots completely of all micro-organisms, which would drive up the cost of missions to Mars.

Stamenkovi? as interviewed by Scientific American says

VS: I think there’s a sweet spot where we can be curious and we can be explorers and not mess things up, We have to go for that.

((WN)) (background information): NASA and ESA both have missions that they plan to launch to Mars in 2020 to search for life but both have the search for past life as their main focus. The last and only missions to search for present day “extant” life on Mars were the Viking 1 and 2 missions in the 1970s. Stamenkovi? would like that to change.

As interviewed by Space.com (October 22) he said.

VS: There is still so much about the Martian habitability that we do not understand, and it’s long overdue to send another mission that tackles the question of subsurface water and potential extant life on Mars, and looks for these signals

((WN)) (background information): There are many such instruments we could send. One example, the “Chemical laptop” or PISCES under development at JPL is shown to the right. A National Academy of Sciences report released 10th October 2018 emphasizes the need to include in situ life detection instruments on future missions:

“The report highlights the need to include in situ detection of energy-starved or otherwise sparsely distributed life such as chemolithotrophic or rock-eating life. In particular, the report found that NASA should focus on research and exploration of possible life below the surface of a planet in light of recent advances that have demonstrated the breadth and diversity of life below Earth’s surface, the nature of fluids beneath the surface of Mars, and the likelihood of life-sustaining geological processes in planets and moons with subsurface oceans.”

Vlada Stamenkovi? is working on a new instrument TH2OR to send to Mars on some potential future mission. It would search for potentially habitable brines deep below its surface using ultra low frequency radio waves. This is a frequency far lower than that of ground penetrating radar, in the range of a fraction of a Hertz up to kilohertz. Wavelengths are measured in kilometers up to tens of thousands of kilometers or more. Wikinews asked him for more details

((WN)) And I’d also like to know about your experiment you want to send to Mars to help with the search for these oxygenated brines

VS: We are now developing at “NASA/JPL-California Institute of Technology” a small tool, called TH2OR (Transmissive H2O Reconnaissance) that might one day fly with a yet-to-be-determined mission. It will use low frequency sounding techniques, capable of detecting groundwater at depths down to ideally a few km under the Martian surface, thanks to the high electric conductivity of only slightly salty water and Faraday’s law of induction. Most likely, such a small and affordable instrument could be placed stationary on the planet’s surface or be carried passively or actively on mobile surface assets; TH2OR might be also used in combination with existing orbiting assets to increase its sounding depth. Next to determining the depth of groundwater, we should also be able to estimate its salinity and indirectly its potential chemistry, which is critical information for astrobiology and ISRU (in situ resource utilization).

((WN)) (background information): Wikinews asked if this device would use natural sources of ultra low frequency radio waves, or if it would use TDEM – a method that involves setting up a current in a loop to generate a sine wave and then suddenly switching it off and observing the radio waves generated by transient eddy currents. The eddy currents have been compared to a smoke ring, they propagate downwards and outwards, a circular current that gets wider as it gets deeper, creating secondary radio waves in a broad band including ultra low frequency waves. The Russian Mars 94 mission, canceled during the break up of USSR, would have flown a TDEM device to Mars.

((WN)) Does your TH2OR use TDEM like the Mars 94 mission – and will it use natural ULF sources such as solar wind, diurnal variations in ionosphere heating and lightning?

VS: The physical principle it uses is the same and this has been used for groundwater detection on the Earth for many decades; it’s Faraday’s law of induction in media that are electrically conducting (as slightly saline water is).However, we will focus on creating our own signal as we do not know whether the EM fields needed for such measurements exist on Mars. However, we will also account for the possibility of already existing fields.

Contents

  • 1 Technical details – guide to paper
  • 2 Background information – why oxygen is so significant for multicellular life
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links

[edit]

Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenkovi?

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No people or animals hurt in rural Australian fire

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No people or animals hurt in rural Australian fire

November 20th, 2018

Saturday, January 30, 2010

According to local police chief Craig Van Breugel there were no injuries or loss of life to animals or local residents in the recent fire in the rural Australian town of Toongabbie. “There was no injury to persons or animals. That is all I have for you,” Detective Acting Sergent Van Breugel said in response to queries from Wikinews.

The fire began about 2:20 pm local time (UTC+11) between Humphrey and Eagle Hawk roads, north of the township proper. The local Country Fire Authority brigade managed to contain the blaze to approximately three to five hectares.

Victoria Police have recently indicated that the area around where the fire was started is only accessible by four wheel drives (4WD) or off-road motorcycles; it is popular with dirt bike riders and 4WD enthusiasts.

The local Country Fire Authority brigade managed to contain the blaze to approximately three to five hectares between Humphrey and Eagle Hawk roads.

Det.Act.Sgt Van Breugel confrimed that there wer some off road motor cyclists in the are that day. “[Police] know there was a number of off road motorcyclists in the area on the day. Some of [them] have already been spoken to by the Police” Det.Act.Sgt Van Breugel said.

The fire is being treated as suspicious and people with infomation that may help the investigation are encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers or the local police.

No people or animals hurt in rural Australian fire

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Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech addresses the economy

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Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech addresses the economy

November 20th, 2018

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke live on state television Monday in his annual state-of-the-nation address using high ideological rhetoric when calling on lawmakers and the public to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. His 50 minute address from the Kremlin’s Marble Hall only briefly touched on the “epidemic of collapse” , a reference to upheavals in Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan and the Ukraine, which was “a real drama” stranding millions of Russians beyond the borders of the Russian Federation.

Brushing off what was probably taken as criticism during last week’s visit by Condoleezza Rice who commented the Kremlin ran a “managed democracy”, Putin stressed that “Russia … will decide for itself the pace, terms and conditions of moving towards democracy.”

Putin was critical of the lack of progress in implementing his reform proposals. Calling for a crackdown on corruption, where treatment by tax inspectors are “terrorizing business”, he addressed concerns of the business community by condemning a series of back-tax bills like the ones that dismembered Yukos and face other major Russian corporations.

He was also critical of a bureaucratic attitudes that treat “state service as some type of business”. He made clear the need for investment must be met by “rules of the game” that are consistent, saying “Russia is certainly interested in the inflow of private investments on a large scale, including foreign investments. It is our strategic choice and our strategic approach.”

Putin called for proposals to index wages to inflation over the next two years, and for the introduction of a flat 13% tax on undeclared earnings in the shadow economy, a slice that represents nearly 35% of the nation’s economy, by legalizing what was previously defined as illegal income.

Putin supports the development of a strong state system with determination for Russia to avoid the disarray that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Saying, “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” He sees the need for strengthening the legal system and the political environment to assure a more just society in avoiding a replay of a Russian downfall.

On politics, he pointedly abandoned the much-used ‘stability’ catch phrase of the bureaucracy. Putin signaled to the bureaucratic caste who are on the eve of their upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections they should promote partisanship and civil society.

By studiously avoiding too many references to business, the thrust of his address sought to reassure the small property holder class, rather than big business and other elite investors.

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Bush Administration changes official position on legitimacy of Qur’an desecration allegations

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Bush Administration changes official position on legitimacy of Qur’an desecration allegations

November 20th, 2018

Saturday, June 4, 2005

After an investigation of allegations that Islam’s holy book the Qu’ran was mishandled in front of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Bush administration has acknowledged the credibility of some of these reports. According to Robert Burns of the Associated Press, U.S. military officials acknowledged that, “a Muslim holy book was splashed with urine,” and “a detainee’s Quran was deliberately kicked and another’s was stepped on.” The US government first denied a specific report that the Qu’ran had been flushed down a toilet at the prison facility, but on Friday agreed that similar allegations were indeed true.

On May 16, Newsweek magazine apologized to the victims of deadly riots that ensued due to a Newsweek article stating that U.S. officials defiled the Qur’an. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan criticized Newsweek’s initial response to the incident, saying it was “puzzling.” Later that day, Newsweek retracted the story, which the White House said was a “good first step”.

On May 20, the International Red Cross (IRC) revealed in a rare public announcement that it had documented and reported to the United States credible information concerning desecration of the Qur’an by Guantanamo Bay personnel. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, acknowledged that allegations were made on “rare occasions” but were uncorroborated. Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman, disputed the Pentagon’s denial saying, “All information we received were corroborated allegations.” He added that, “We certainly corroborated mentions of the events by detainees themselves,” and that “the ICRC considers such reports “very seriously, and very carefully, and [we] document everything.”

Scott McClellan explained in a press conference that the White House is not trying to tell Newsweek what to print. McClellan said, “Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying. But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.”

On May 25, Amnesty International called for the shutdown on Guantanamo Bay due to numerous human rights violations, saying “The ‘war on terror’ appeared more effective in eroding international human rights principles than in countering international ‘terrorism’.” Amnesty International’s view was shared by both the International Red Cross (IRC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The IRC has said it reported to the U.S. government detainee’s reports of desecration of the Qur’an. In the foreword of the report, written by Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan, Guantanamo was compared to a Soviet-era gulag in that it is “entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law”.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded saying the report’s allegations were “ridiculous and unsupported by the facts. The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. We have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have worked to advance freedom and democracy in the world so that people are governed under a rule of law and that there are… protections in place for minority rights, that women’s rights are advanced so that women can fully participate in societies where now they cannot”, as well as supporting the fight against AIDS in Africa.

About the allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, which McClellan has previously called isolated incidents, he said, “We hold people accountable when there is abuse. We take steps to prevent it from happening again, and we do so in a very public way for the world to see that we lead by example, and that we do have values that we hold very dearly and believe in.”

On May 31, U.S. President George W. Bush dismissed the human rights report as “absurd” for its harsh criticism of U.S. treatment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the allegations were made by prisoners “who hate America.” “It’s an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world,” Bush said of the Amnesty International report.

William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, defended the report, saying, “What is ‘absurd’ is President Bush’s attempt to deny the deliberate policies of his administration.” and “What is ‘absurd’ and indeed outrageous is the Bush administration’s failure to undertake a full independent investigation”. Irene Khan also responded saying, “The administration’s response has been that our report is absurd, that our allegations have no basis, and our answer is very simple: if that is so, open up these detention centres, allow us and others to visit them.”

And, on Friday, the U.S. military released the results of their investigation and confirmed that in 5 separate incidents, American guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison “mishandled” the Islamic holy book. However, they stress that guards were usually “respectful” of the Qur’an. One incident involved splashing a Koran with urine by urinating near an air vent while others involved kicking, stepping on and writing in Qur’ans.

Brigadier-General Jay Hood, the commander of the jail, looked into the allegations, published and then retracted by Newsweek, that American personnel flushed a Qur’an down a toilet. He said that the inquiry did not find any evidence supporting this particular allegation. “The inquiry found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Qur’an down a toilet. This matter is considered closed.”

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London Knights trade Steve Mason to Kitchener Rangers

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London Knights trade Steve Mason to Kitchener Rangers

November 19th, 2018

Sunday, January 6, 2008

On the morning of January 4, 2008, while at the 2008 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, 19-year-old goalie Steve Mason received a phone call from Canada informing him that he was traded by the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights to the Kitchener Rangers.

In a press release Friday, Kitchener Rangers Head coach and General Manager Peter DeBoer announced the trade to the Knights. In return for obtaining Mason, the Rangers have sent the Knights, Centre Phil Varone, Defenceman Steve Tarasuk along with 2nd, 3rd and 4th round draft picks in 2011 and a 2nd round pick in 2012.

Mason said that he had an enjoyable time playing for the London Knights, but nonetheless, he believes that he has a bright future playing for the Kitchener Rangers. He also notes that he doesn’t want the trade to distract him from playing in the Gold Medal Game, against Team Sweden.

Team Canada won the game in overtime 3-2.

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Blown for Good author discusses life inside international headquarters of Scientology

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Blown for Good author discusses life inside international headquarters of Scientology

November 19th, 2018

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wikinews interviewed author Marc Headley about his new book Blown for Good, and asked him about life inside the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base“, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California. Headley joined the organization at age seven when his mother became a member, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005.

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Dominican murder draws light to anti-Haitian sentiment

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Dominican murder draws light to anti-Haitian sentiment

November 18th, 2018

Thursday, February 12, 2015

They shouldn’t have to apply for residency. They are Dominicans.

Yesterday’s discovery of a bound man, believed to be of Haitian ancestry, hanged from a tree in Santiago, Dominican Republic has drawn attention to anti-Hatian sentiments in the nation.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti between them make up the island of Hispaniola and Dominicans have grown concerned by Haitian immigration in recent years. Police say they believe the man, known to his friends as Tulile, was murdered during a robbery. Police officers anonymously told reporters a winning lottery ticket may have been the motive.

Aged around 23, Tulile made his living shining shoes and taking commissions from money lending in the area he was murdered. Bound hand and foot, his body was found at dawn in Ercilia Pepín park, Sabana Larga street. The scene is close to the University Hospital Jose Maria Cabral y Báe, around which Tulile worked.

This week saw the public burning of Haiti’s flag in Santiago by local residents, saying it symbolised their rejection of Haitian immigration. The issue is a hot topic, with a court ruling two years ago retrospectively stripping Dominicans born to unregistered Haitian parents from 1930 onwards of their citizenship.

Only 7,000 of an estimated 200,000 eligible residents have signed up for residency cards, a scheme instigated by the government in the face of international pressure. The deadline to apply for the permits, which allow citizenship after two years, has passed.

“They shouldn’t have to apply for residency,” said Santiago Canton of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Human Rights in a Guardian interview. “They are Dominicans.” Canton said the murder should be viewed “in the context of constant discrimination and violence against Haitians”.

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After A Bulging Disc Diagnosis

November 18th, 2018

By Patrick Foote

Receiving a bulging disc diagnosis can mean different things to different people. Some patients may find relief simply in knowing what has been causing their discomfort. Others may learn that they have a bulging disc and weren’t even aware of the existence of the condition.

If symptoms are hindering a patient’s way of life, a treatment plan to help alleviate pain should be implemented as soon as possible. Oftentimes patients will find relief through a specific combination of non-surgical therapies; however, since every case is different, patients should expect a period of trial-and-error to occur before the ideal treatment regimen is determined.

Discussing a Treatment Plan with Your Doctor

For individuals who have received a bulging disc diagnosis, the next step is to discuss and determine a treatment plan with the diagnosing doctor or spine specialist. Typically, a course of conservative (non-surgical) methods are recommended first. Conservative treatments can include:

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— Physical therapy – Physical therapists can help to educate patients about proper body mechanics and correct posture, as well as exercises and stretching techniques that can prepare muscles to better support the spine.

— Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs are usually used as the first line of defense when it comes to bulging disc treatments. Naproxen and ibuprofen are two types of NSAIDs widely available to patients over-the-counter and in varying strengths by prescription. These medications work to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

— Heat and/or cold therapy – In most cases, the application of cold compresses or ice packs is recommended at the onset of symptoms. When cold is applied to a painful area several times a day in 20-minute increments, it can help to combat inflammation and numb pain. Heat may be more effective several days after the onset of symptoms, working to reduce muscle tension and promote blood flow.

— Low-impact exercise – Exercises such as walking or swimming can not only improve the overall health of a bulging disc patient, but can also increase blood circulation and promote the absorption of nutrients within the intervertebral discs.

A number of patients with a bulging disc diagnosis decide to attempt an alternative treatment plan. Such treatments are also non-surgical, but tend to take a more holistic approach to treatment than conservative methods. Massage, chiropractic adjustments, herbal supplements, acupuncture, and acupressure are all alternative methods that a patient may want to research after a bulging disc diagnosis.

It is helpful to know that no one treatment plan has to be set in stone; in fact, adjustment to some methods often is necessary over the course of several weeks or months to give a patient the best possible chance for pain relief.

The Possibility of Surgery

Surgery is rarely suggested immediately after a bulging disc diagnosis. In most cases, a doctor or spine specialist will only recommend that a patient undergo a surgical procedure if the individual’s symptoms have not responded well to conservative or alternative treatments and they continue to live in extreme pain. Additionally, if a doctor believes that a surgical procedure can be helpful for a particular patient, there will be several factors taken into account before suggesting a procedure, such as the patient’s age and overall health, as well as the severity, location, and frequency of symptoms experienced.

About the Author: Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for

bulging discs

and several other spinal conditions.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=776301&ca=Medical+Business

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One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak

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One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak

November 18th, 2018

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Across Egypt hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets for the day, marking exactly one year since the outbreak of protests leading to 83-year-old longstanding ruler Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. The country’s decades-long emergency rule was partially lifted this week; meanwhile, a possible economic meltdown looms and a newly-elected parliament held their first meeting on Monday.

Despite the new parliament, military rule introduced following Mubarak’s fall last spring remains. Echoing the demands from a year ago, some protesters are demanding the military relinquish power; there are doubts an elected civilian leader will be permitted to replace the army.

The brief unity against Mubarak has since fragmented, with Secularists and Islamists marking the revolution’s anniversary splitting to opposing sides of Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square and chanting at each other. Initial demonstrations last year were mainly from young secularists; now, Islamic parties hold most of the new parliament’s seats — the country’s first democratic one in six decades.

Salafis hold 25% of the seats and 47% are held by the Muslim Brotherhood, which brought supporters to Cairo for the anniversary. Tahrir Square alone contained tens of thousands of people, some witnesses putting the crowd at 150,000 strong. It’s the largest number on the streets since the revolution.

Military rulers planned celebrations including pyrotechnics, commemorative coins, and air displays. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces took power after last year’s February 11 resignation of Mubarak.

Alaa al-Aswani, a pro-democracy activist writing in al-Masry al-Youm, said: “We must take to the streets on Wednesday, not to celebrate a revolution which has not achieved its goals, but to demonstrate peacefully our determination to achieve the objectives of the revolution,” — to “live in dignity, bring about justice, try the killers of the martyrs and achieve a minimum social justice”

Alexandria in the north and the eastern port city of Suez also saw large gatherings. It was bitter fighting in Suez led to the first of the revolution’s 850 casualties in ousting Mubarak. “We didn’t come out to celebrate. We came out to protest against the military council and to tell it to leave power immediately and hand over power to civilians,” said protestor Mohamed Ismail.

“Martyrs, sleep and rest. We will complete the struggle,” chanted crowds in Alexandria, a reference to the 850 ‘martyrs of the revolution’. No convictions are in yet although Mubarak is on trial. Photos of the dead were displayed in Tahrir Square. Young Tahrir chanters went with “Down with military rule” and “Revolution until victory, revolution in all of Egypt’s streets”.

If the protestors demanding the military leave power get their way, the Islamists celebrating election victory face a variety of challenges. For now, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi — whose career featured twenty years as defence minister under Mubarak — rules the nation and promises to cede power following presidential elections this year.

The economy is troubled and unemployment is up since Mubarak left. With tourism and foreign investment greatly lower than usual, budget and payment deficits are up — with the Central Bank eating into its reserves in a bid to keep the Egyptian pound from losing too much value.

Last week the nation sought US$3.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF insists upon funding also being secured from other donors, and strong support from Egypt’s leaders. IMF estimates say the money could be handed over in a few months — whereas Egypt wanted it in a matter of weeks.

The country has managed to bolster trade with the United States and Jordan. Amr Abul Ata, Egyptian ambassador to the fellow Middle-East state, told The Jordan Times in an interview for the anniversary that trade between the nations increased in 2011, and he expects another increase this year. This despite insurgent attacks reducing Egyptian gas production — alongside electricity the main export to Jordan. Jordan exports foodstuffs to Egypt and has just signed a deal increasing the prices it pays for gas. 2011 trade between the countries was worth US$1 billion.

The anniversary also saw a new trade deal with the US, signed by foreign trade and industry minister Mahmoud Eisa and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. President Barack Obama promises work to improve U.S. investment in, and trade with, nations changing political systems after the Arab Spring. Details remain to be agreed, but various proposals include US assistance for Egyptian small and medium enterprises. Both nations intend subjecting plans to ministerial scrutiny.

The U.S. hailed “several historic milestones in its transition to democracy” within a matter of days of Egypt’s revolution. This despite U.S.-Egypt ties being close during Mubarak’s rule.

US$1 billion in grants has been received already from Qatar and Saudi Arabia but army rulers refused to take loans from Gulf nations despite offers-in-principle coming from nations including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Foreign aid has trickled in; no money at all has been sent from G8 nations, despite the G8 Deauville Partnership earmarking US$20 billion for Arab Spring nations.

A total of US$7 billion was promised from the Gulf. The United Kingdom pledged to split £110 million between Egypt and Arab Spring initiator Tunisia. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says G8 money should start arriving in June, when the presidential election is scheduled.

The African Development Bank approved US$1.5 billion in loans whilst Mubarak still held power but, despite discussions since last March, no further funding has been agreed. The IMF offered a cheap loan six months ago, but was turned away. Foreign investment last year fell from US$6 billion to $375 million.

Rights, justice and public order remain contentious issues. Tantawi lifted the state of emergency on Tuesday, a day before the revolution’s anniversary, but left it in place to deal with the exception of ‘thuggery’. “This is not a real cancellation of the state of emergency,” said Islamist Wasat Party MP Essam Sultan. “The proper law designates the ending of the state of emergency completely or enforcing it completely, nothing in between.”

The same day, Amnesty International released a report on its efforts to establish basic human rights and end the death penalty in the country. Despite sending a ten-point manifesto to all 54 political parties, only the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (of the Egyptian Bloc liberals) and the left-wing Popular Socialist Alliance Party signed up. Measures included religious freedom, help to the impoverished, and rights for women. Elections did see a handful of women win seats in the new parliament.

The largest parliamentary group is the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, who Amnesty say did not respond. Oral assurances on all but female rights and abolition of the death penalty were given by Al-Nour, the Salafist runners-up in the elections, but no written declaration or signature.

“We challenge the new parliament to use the opportunity of drafting the new constitution to guarantee all of these rights for all people in Egypt. The cornerstone must be non-discrimination and gender equality,” said Amnesty, noting that the first seven points were less contentious amongst the twelve responding parties. There was general agreement for free speech, free assembly, fair trials, investigating Mubarak’s 30-year rule for atrocities, and lifting the state of emergency. A more mixed response was given to ensuring no discrimination against LGBT individuals, whilst two parties claimed reports of Coptic Christian persecution are exaggerated.

Mubarak himself is a prominent contender for the death penalty, currently on trial for the killings of protesters. The five-man prosecution team are also seeking death for six senior police officers and the chief of security in the same case. Corruption offences are also being tried, with Gamal Mubarak and Alaa Mubarak accused alongside their father Hosni.

The prosecution case has been hampered by changes in witness testimony and there are complaints of Interior Ministry obstruction in producing evidence. Tantawi has testified in a closed hearing that Mubarak never ordered protesters shot.

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Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an ex-MP and real estate billionaire, is another death penalty candidate. He, alongside Ahmed Sukkari, was initially sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim. A new trial was granted on procedural grounds and he is now serving a fifteen-year term for paying Sukkari US$2 million to slit 30-year-old’s Tamim’s throat in Dubai. Her assassin was caught when police followed him back to his hotel and found a shirt stained with her blood; he was in custody within two hours of the murder.

The court of appeals is now set to hear another trial for both men after the convictions were once more ruled unsound.

A military crackdown took place last November, the morning after a major protest, and sparking off days of violence. Egypt was wary of a repeat this week, with police and military massed near Tahrir Square whilst volunteers manned checkpoints into the square itself.

The military has pardoned and released at least 2,000 prisoners jailed following military trials, prominently including a blogger imprisoned for defaming the army and deemed troublesome for supporting Israel. 26-year-old Maikel Nabil was given a three year sentence in April. He has been on hunger strike alleging abuse at the hands of his captors. He wants normalised relations with Israel. Thousands have now left Tora prison in Cairo.

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Thousands strike in UK over pensions

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Thousands strike in UK over pensions

November 17th, 2018

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

As many as 1.5 million government workers, members of 11 unions, went on strike on Tuesday in protest of a government decision to reduce their retirement benefits, a change which would take effect in October.

The strike closed thousands of schools, libraries and leisure centres, disrupted commuters, and reduced some facilities to emergency only staffing.

UNISON claimed that more than a million workers had joined the strike, with General Secretary Dave Prentis saying “this overwhelming show of strength from Lands End to John O’Groats has obviously taken the Local Government Association and some local councils by surprise”.

The benefits change, would effect the “85 year rule,” of the Local Government Pension scheme, which allows government employees to retire at 60 as long as the sum of their age and their years of employment sum to 85 or greater. According to union representatives, the new retirement plan is targeted at lower paid employees, leaving higher paid employees to enjoy the same benefits as before.

Ahead of the strike, the Local Government Association claimed that the changes proposed by unions “would add at least 2% a year to every council taxpayer’s bill”.

The participating unions point out this is likely to be the largest strike in Britain since 1926.

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