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November 11th, 2007

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say they will continue to pursue a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Merkel said the threat posed by a potential nuclear program in Iran is "a serious one." But she said she and Bush agreed the Iranian issue can be solved through diplomatic means. The next step, she said, will be a U.N. Security Council resolution, and work is under way to prepare for that.

If talks with Iranian representatives and Javier Solana, foreign policy chief for the European Union, are unsuccessful, Merkel said, "further steps will have to be made." Those might include further sanctions, she said.

Germany has reviewed its business ties with Iran, and may make further reductions in those if circumstances warrant, she said.

Hadley said later some steps have already been taken. "There have been steps taken by German banks, for example, to step away from Iran as the awareness has become more widespread that Iran is using banks, and sometimes its relationships with European banks, to basically launder funds that are used to support terror or for proliferation ... I think what she was saying is we may have -- that Germany may have to do more and call on its companies to do more in the future."

Bush said, "What the Iranian regime must understand is, we will continue to work together to solve this problem diplomatically, which means they will continue to be isolated.

"What the Iranian people must understand is, we respect their heritage, we respect their traditions, we respect their potential. It's their government that has made the decisions that are denying them a bright future."

Asked what will be done if diplomatic efforts are exhausted, Bush told a reporter he "didn't feel comfortable" answering a "hypothetical."

However, Merkel said, "I'm deeply convinced diplomatic possibilities have not yet been exhausted. We can solve this by using diplomatic means, and also we want to solve this by diplomatic means."

Both leaders said any Security Council action will require the support of China and Russia.

Bush said the two also discussed reforming the U.N. Security Council, an issue he acknowledged he has been "studiously noncommittal" on. The United States believes Japan should have a seat on the council, he said, and other than that, "we're for U.N. Security Council reforms, and I'm willing to listen to good ideas. Angela brought up some good ideas today."

For her part, Merkel pledged, "we're going to continue to work towards reform."

Bush and Merkel said they had discussed a variety of other subjects, including the Middle East, trade negotiations and climate change.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/10/bush.merkel/index.html

What are your thoughts about this?

For me, this is a great step in achieving world peace. Why?

Cause Bush is actually doing something!

November 9th, 2007

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A top Spanish Foreign Ministry official left Madrid early Friday in a jet bound for the impoverished central African country of Chad, where three Spanish flight crew members remained in detention for allegedly plotting to kidnap African children for adoption in Europe, a foreign ministry spokesman told CNN.

CNN's Spanish partner network CNN Plus reported a Chadian judge had signed a release order for the three Spaniards -- a charter airline pilot, first officer, and flight attendant -- and indicated their release was imminent.

Foreign ministry officials who spoke with CNN and CNN Plus were more cautious, saying only that they were working to achieve the release of the three, who have been held in Chad for two weeks.

The three Spaniards were among 21 people arrested as they tried to fly 103 children out of Chad on a plane bound for France. Chadian authorities said the group, organized by French-based charity Zoe's Ark, was kidnapping the children in an adoption scheme.

The charity said the group was on a mission to rescue orphans from Darfur, but aid agencies have said it appears most of the children were not orphans and were instead from Chad.

A Chadian judge released seven of the 21-member group on Sunday after French President Nicolas Sarkozy traveled to the country to press for their release. The seven included three French journalists and four other members of the Spanish flight crew, all female flight attendants.

Thursday, the head of Zoe's Ark testified before a judge in Chad that the three Spaniards who remained in custody from the charter plane company had no responsibility in the affair, the foreign ministry spokesman told CNN.

Early Friday, the foreign ministry's second-ranking official, Secretary of State Bernardino Leon, departed Torrejon air force base near Madrid for Chad, the spokesman said.

All seven members of the Spanish flight crew, who work for the Spanish charter company Gir Jet, had been charged with complicity in the alleged kidnapping plot, which they denied.

The three Spaniards who remained in Chad were being held along with the six French charity workers from Zoe's Ark, a Belgian pilot, and four Chadian nationals.

Sarkozy has said he hopes the French nationals would face trial in France, rather than in Chad.

Aid agencies were trying to reunite the children with their families, a difficult task because many of the children are so young and could provide few or no details about their families. The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta/+1-404-827-5872

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http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/africa/11/09/chad.spain/index.html

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Wow! A leader is actually doing something! Go Spanish Minister dude!

November 8th, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Millions of Chinese-made toys have been pulled from shelves in North America and Australia after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a powerful date rape drug when ingested. Two children in the U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

With only seven weeks until Christmas, the recall is yet another blow to the toy industry -- already bruised by a slew of recalls this past summer.

In the United States, the toy goes by the name Aqua Dots, a highly popular holiday toy distributed by Toronto-based Spin Master Toys. They are called Bindeez in Australia, where they were named toy of the year at an industry function earlier this year.

It could not immediately be learned whether Aqua Dots beads are made in the same factories as the Bindeez product. Both are sold by Australia-based Moose Enterprises.

The toy beads are sold in general merchandise stores and over the Internet for use in arts and crafts projects. They can be arranged into designs and fused together when sprayed with water.

Scientists say a chemical coating on the beads, when ingested, metabolizes into the so-called date rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate. When eaten, the compound -- made from common and easily available ingredients -- can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

Naren Gunja from Australia's Poisons Information Center said the drug's effect on children was "quite serious ... and potentially life-threatening."

The recall was announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Wednesday several hours after published reports about the recall in Australia.


http://money.cnn.com/2007/11/07/news/international/toys_drug.ap/index.htm

November 7th, 2007

TBLISI, Georgia (AP) -- Police on Wednesday forced dozens of opposition supporters from a site in the capital where five days of protests had drawn thousands, but demonstrators later returned and renewed their calls for the president's resignation.

Police charged into the street in front of parliament in the early morning and chased away more than 100 demonstrators who had remained overnight, Ivlian Khaindrava, a leader of the opposition Republican Party, told The Associated Press.

But hundreds of young people shouting anti-President Mikhail Saakashvili slogans occupied the area a few hours later, and the crowd grew fast, reaching at least 1,000 as protesters returned.

Opposition forces have gathered at the site every day since Friday, when more than 50,000 people rallied.

The protesters initially called for changes in the dates of planned elections and in the electoral system, but later made Saakashvili's resignation their central demand. The protests are the biggest challenge to Saakashvili since his landslide election after the Rose Revolution four years ago.

"Misha, you will soon fall," young men shouted as they ran toward parliament to occupy the site.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/11/07/georgia.clashes.ap/index.html

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This reminds me so much of the People Power Revolution during the Marcos regime in the 80s. Filipinos can pull a peaceful one though. This one is a little extreme.

To be honest, I'm a little angry at the fact that there has been much bloodshed and rallies made by the youth. It's really unbecoming of my generation. Sure, I understand that they know what's going wrong, but really, is a rally necessary? I believe that one group of young people who truly understand the situation should face their government leader. This is the period of diplomacy, that's why the UN was established.
http://sandiego.cox.net/cci/newsnational/national?_mode=view&_state=maximized&view=article&id=D8SODS0O3&_action=validatearticle

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Associated Press) --  The number of loggerhead turtle nests was substantially lower in 2007 than in past years, according to preliminary numbers from scientists statewide.

Scientists found 28,500 nests from 19 surveyed beaches, down from almost 50,000 last year. The number was so low that this could be the lowest nesting year on record for loggerheads, said Blair Witherington, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The turtles' nesting numbers have declined in at least four of the past seven years.

Green and leatherback turtles, however, surpassed scientists' expectations and may have made a record number of nests this year on Florida's Treasure Coast.

Scientists aren't sure what's behind the low numbers for loggerheads, but they have some theories. Erik Martin, a biologist who monitors nesting, said the answer could lie in an unknown event that happened 30 years ago when today's nesting females were hatchlings _ something like a disease or harmful algae bloom that affected only loggerheads.

A drop in nesting numbers may not correlate to a drop in population, said Pete Quincy, a scientist who monitors nesting for Jupiter Island. "Maybe there is a biological cycle among these turtles that we know nothing about."

Scientists have been tracking nesting for about 30 years.

This year, they counted about 9,450 green turtle nests _ up from the previous high of 7,180 in 2005 _ in addition to 517 leatherback nests, up from the previous high of 367 in 2001.


 

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This is just sad. Turtles, like any other animal, are needed for the ecological balance! I really wonder why people can be so greedy!
Whether it's in an election or just in a fun poll, what's getting your vote this week?
Anderson Cooper 360 gets my vote all the time. :)

November 5th, 2007

What?

Share
There is nothing write about these days. AC360 has not posted some blogs worth commenting.

November 3rd, 2007

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- A U.S.-based charity is hoping to fight the spread of AIDS with a unique product that appeals to coffee mania in the country that claims to have invented the drink: java-scented condoms for Ethiopia.

Washington D.C.-based charity DKT International says the novelty product addresses a serious issue.

Ethiopia has an AIDS rate of 2.1 percent, and in the capital Addis Ababa it is more than 7 percent, according to government estimates.

Andrew Piller, director of DKT's local chapter, said the aim of the coffee condoms was not to make money, but to make condom-users more comfortable.

DKT has noted some users' complaints about the latex scent of plain condoms, and has also tried to market condoms in other parts of the world tailored to local tastes, including those scented with the infamously stinky durian fruit in Indonesia and sweet-corn fragranced condoms in China.

In Ethiopia, consumers purchased some 300,000 coffee condoms during one week in September, the month the product was introduced here.

"Everybody likes the flavor of coffee," says a DKT spokeswoman, Emebet Abu. The condoms sell in packs of three for 1 birr, or about 11 cents -- about half the price of a cup of coffee in one of Addis Ababa's many sidewalk cafes, and much cheaper than unsubsidized condoms.

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/africa/11/02/ethiopia.condoms.ap/index.html

My Thoughts
Personally, I don't like the taste of coffee... for the record I like the smell of coffee... the taste makes me really sleepy. Anyway, at first I thought it was really comical, but then, yes, it is for a good cause.

After all they already invented a strawberry flavored condom, so why stop, right?

November 2nd, 2007

Randy and Augusta Roman planned on starting a family. Like many other couples, they turned to in vitro fertilization.

In 2002, three frozen embryos were fertilized. But on the night before the embryos were to be implanted, Randy had second thoughts, telling Augusta he did not want HER to go through the procedure.

Their marriage began to crumble. And in December, 2002 they divorced.

But who has control over the frozen embryos?

Randy wanted them destroyed. Augusta hoped to use them to have children. Their difference of opinion led to lawsuits.

A Texas trial court ruled in favor of Augusta. The court viewed the frozen embryos as community property and that awarding them to Augusta was "just and right."

But an appellate court reversed the decision, finding that Randy and Augusta signed an agreement with the reproductive center that said the embryos would be discarded in the event of divorce.

Now, after the Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Augusta is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case and rule in her favor.

Should a frozen embryo be considered community property, part of a contract, or a life?

http://edition.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/blog/2007/11/custody-battle-or-contract-dispute.html

My Thoughts

This is your typical science vs. morality question. To answer this question, it's all three. Why?
1. Community property: No matter what we say, we're still part of a community. We are owned by the government running our community. Though we own the life we have, we are still owned, protected and punished by the community. Those embryos are considered community property because they were brought into society by a married couple.
2. Part of a contract: Marriage contract, divorce contract... yes, those embryos are still part of a contract. According to my understanding, Augusta wanted to have kids and so she went and married Randy. They thought about vitro fertilization and signed a few papers. In the end Randy backed out of the whole idea and the couple divorced. It was all because of those embryos.
3. A life: Technically yes, they are alive. Their cells are working on the building up of a human being. Those embryos are alive, even if they are community property and part of a contract. They have the right to live.

The battle between morality and scientific advancement will never stop, and this one adds more to the battle.

November 1st, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US astronomers have discovered the biggest black hole orbiting a star 1.8 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia, with a record-setting mass of 24 to 33 times that of our Sun, NASA said Tuesday.

The massive newcomer beats the previous stellar-mass black hole discovered October 17 in the M33 galaxy that has 16 times the mass of our Sun, the US space agency said.

Like the much larger, supermassive black holes found at galaxy centers, stellar-mass black holes have such powerful gravity fields that not even light can escape them. Astronomers estimate their mass by measuring their gas emissions and the gravitational effect on the stars they orbit.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071031/sc_afp/usastronomy2_071031201428

My Thoughts

This is really great in the field of Astronomy! What can I say?
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