Sunday, 30 June 2013

BSkyB wins trademark case against Microsoft over SkyDrive name

BSkyB wins European trademark case against Microsoft over SkyDrive name

While many can tell the difference between Sky TV services and Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage, that's not necessarily true for everyone. A British court certainly thinks there's room for confusion: it has ruled that SkyDrive infringes BSkyB's trademarks on the Sky name in both the UK and the European Union. The presiding judge didn't believe that Microsoft's use of the "sky" prefix was absolutely necessary, and she showed evidence that at least some of the general public didn't understand which company made what. Microsoft says it plans to appeal the verdict, although there's no guarantee that it will have to relabel SkyDrive if the appeal falls through. Some past trademark lawsuits have led to fines instead of name changes, and we suspect Microsoft would rather pay out than lose brand recognition across a whole continent.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

DNP  Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review a toptier phone in a waterresistant package

After Samsung's latest product push in London, we have nothing short of a Galaxy S 4 franchise on our hands. While the company unveiled its expected Mini version along with a photography-focused variant, it also took a step in the rugged-device direction by announcing the Galaxy S4 Active. With IP67 water and dust protection, the phone promises to see you through 30 minutes of aquatic activity at a time. Ruggedness aside, though, this device is quite similar to the GS4, albeit in a slightly heftier -- and arguably more attractive -- package. We spent some quality time with Galaxy S4 Active on AT&T, which retails for the same $199.99 as the original S 4. So is this a better pick? You know where to find out.

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Lebanese troops disperse Sunni protesters

BEIRUT (AP) ? Lebanese troops fired in the air Friday to disperse dozens of Sunni Muslims demonstrating in support of a hardline cleric who has been on the run since the military crushed his fighters earlier this week.

Lebanon is grappling with rising tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims linked to the more than 2-year-old conflict in neighboring Syria, which has sparked deadly street fighting on several occasions in Lebanese cities between the rival sects.

The Lebanese military moved Friday to break up the demonstration in the southern port city of Sidon after protesters tried to reach the mosque complex where the Sunni cleric Ahmad al-Assir used to give his sermons. There were similar protests by Sunnis in the capital Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon's third largest.

Protesters briefly closed the highway linking Beirut with Tripoli Friday afternoon and damaged a Lebanese army statue near the northern city, the state-run National News Agency said.

Al-Assir's compound has been under army control since Monday following two days of fighting between troops and al-Assir's followers that left dozens of people dead.

The cleric's rapid rise in popularity among Sunnis underscored the deep frustration of many Lebanese who resent the influence Shiites have gained in government via the powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Al-Assir has been one of Hezbollah's harshest critics in Lebanon and had called on fellow Sunnis to go fight in Syria against President Bashar Assad's forces. His calls intensified earlier this year after Hezbollah fighters joined Assad's forces against the Syrian opposition, which is dominated by Sunnis.

Syria's conflict has increasingly taken on sectarian overtones. The rebels fighting to remove Assad are primarily Sunnis, and have been joined by Sunni fighters from other Muslim countries. Assad's regime, in contrast, is led by the president's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, and his forces have been bolstered by fighters from Hezbollah, a factor that has helped fan the sectarian nature of the conflict.

Lebanon and Syria share a complex web of political and sectarian ties and rivalries that are easily enflamed. Lebanon, a country plagued by decades of strife, has been on edge since the uprising in Syria against Assad erupted in March 2011.

Sidon, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Beirut, had largely been spared from violence plaguing Lebanon's border areas where Syria's civil war has been spilling over with increasing frequency.

On Friday, troops fired into the air with heavy machine guns mounted on armored personnel carriers to disperse the protesters. People ran in fear in the streets as cars sped away from the area.

Fighting in the Mediterranean city began Sunday after troops arrested an al-Assir follower. The army says the cleric's supporters opened fire without provocation on an army checkpoint.

Official reports said at least 18 soldiers were killed and 50 wounded in the fighting, while more than 20 of al-Assir's supporters died in the battle.

Some Sunni activists said the army was joined by Hezbollah fighters in the battle against al-Assir, a claim that the army denied.

Sidon's demonstration started after thousands attended Friday prayers in a mosque in the city center. The prayer was attended by a prominent ultraconservative Sunni Salafi cleric from northern Lebanon, Daia Al-Islam Al-Shahal, and the Sunni mufti of Sidon, Sheik Salim Soussan.

Soussan urged the army to open a "fair, objective and legal investigation" into the fighting in Sidon.

"We totally reject that some illegitimate armed groups take part in the raids, provocations and interrogation of people," Soussan said in an apparent reference to Hezbollah. "We put the state responsible for that."

Earlier in the day, a roadside bomb went off on a highway near the eastern city of Zahleh, in the Bekaa Valley, without causing casualties. Local TV stations said the morning bomb hit three SUVs carrying Hezbollah members.

There have been two other similar incidents in the eastern Bekaa Valley over the past weeks.


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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Violent birth of neutron stars: Computer simulations confirm sloshing and spiral motions as stellar matter falls inward

June 27, 2013 ? A team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics conducted the most expensive and most elaborate computer simulations so far to study the formation of neutron stars at the center of collapsing stars with unprecedented accuracy. These worldwide first three-dimensional models with a detailed treatment of all important physical effects confirm that extremely violent, hugely asymmetric sloshing and spiral motions occur when the stellar matter falls towards the center. The results of the simulations thus lend support to basic perceptions of the dynamical processes that are involved when a star explodes as supernova.

Stars with more than eight to ten times the mass of our Sun end their lives in a gigantic explosion, in which the stellar gas is expelled into the surrounding space with enormous power. Such supernovae belong to the most energetic and brightest phenomena in the universe and can outshine a whole galaxy for weeks. They are the cosmic origin of chemical elements like carbon, oxygen, silicon, and iron, of which Earth and our bodies are made of, and which are bred in massive stars over millions of years or freshly fused in the stellar explosion.

Supernovae are also the birth places of neutron stars, those extraordinarily exotic, compact stellar remnants, in which about 1.5 times the mass of our Sun is compressed to a sphere with the diameter of Munich. This happens within fractions of a second when the stellar core implodes due to the strong gravity of its own mass. The catastrophic collapse is stopped only when the density of atomic nuclei -- gargantuan 300 million tons in a sugar cube -- is exceeded.

What, however, causes the disruption of the star? How can the implosion of the stellar core be reversed to an explosion? The exact processes are still a matter of intense research. According to the most widely favored scenario, neutrinos, mysterious elementary particles, play a crucial role. These neutrinos are produced and radiated in tremendous numbers at the extreme temperatures and densities in the collapsing stellar core and nascent neutron star. Like the thermal radiation of a heater they heat the gas surrounding the hot neutron star and thus could "ignite" the explosion. In this scenario the neutrinos pump energy into the stellar gas and build up pressure until a shock wave is accelerated to disrupt the star in a supernova. But does this theoretical idea really work? Is it the explanation of the still enigmatic mechanism driving the explosion?

Unfortunately (or luckily!) the processes in the center of exploding stars cannot be reproduced in the laboratory and many solar masses of intransparent stellar gas obscure our view into the deep interior of supernovae. Research is therefore strongly dependent on most sophisticated and challenging computer simulations, in which the complex mathematical equations are solved that describe the motion of the stellar gas and the physical processes that occur at the extreme conditions in the collapsing stellar core. For this task the most powerful existing supercomputers are used, but still it has been possible to conduct such calculations only with radical and crude simplifications until recently. If, for example, the crucial effects of neutrinos were included in some detailed treatment, the computer simulations could only be performed in two dimensions, which means that the star in the models was assumed to have an artificial rotational symmetry around an axis.

Thanks to support from the Rechenzentrum Garching (RZG) in developing a particularly efficient and fast computer program, access to most powerful supercomputers, and a computer time award of nearly 150 million processor hours, which is the greatest contingent so far granted by the "Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE)" initiative of the European Union, the team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) in Garching could now for the first time simulate the processes in collapsing stars in three dimensions and with a sophisticated description of all relevant physics.

"For this purpose we used nearly 16,000 processor cores in parallel mode, but still a single model run took about 4.5 months of continuous computing," says PhD student Florian Hanke, who performed the simulations. Only two computing centers in Europe were able to provide sufficiently powerful machines for such long periods of time, namely CURIE at Tr?s Grand Centre de calcul (TGCC) du CEA near Paris and SuperMUC at the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum (LRZ) in Munich/Garching.

Many Terabytes of simulation data (1 Terabyte are thousand billion bytes) had to be analysed and visualized before the researchers could grasp the essence of their model runs. What they saw caused excitement as well as astonishment. The stellar gas did not only exhibit the violent bubbling and seething with the characteristic rising mushroom-like plumes driven by neutrino heating in close similarity to what can be observed in boiling water. (This process is called convection.) The scientists also found powerful, large sloshing motions, which temporarily switch over to rapid, strong rotational motions. Such a behavior had been known before and had been named "Standing Accretion Shock Instability," or SASI. This term expresses the fact that the initial sphericity of the supernova shock wave is spontaneously broken, because the shock develops large-amplitude, pulsating asymmetries by the oscillatory growth of initially small, random seed perturbations. So far, however, this had been found only in simplified and incomplete model simulations.

"My colleague Thierry Foglizzo at the Service d' Astrophysique des CEA-Saclay near Paris has obtained a detailed understanding of the growth conditions of this instability," explains Hans-Thomas Janka, the head of the research team. "He has constructed an experiment, in which a hydraulic jump in a circular water flow exhibits pulsational asymmetries in close analogy to the shock front in the collapsing matter of the supernova core." This phenomenon was named "SWASI" ("Shallow Water Analogue of Shock Instability") and allows one to demonstrate dynamical processes in the deep interior of a dying star by a relatively simple and inexpensive experimental setup of table size, of course without accounting for the important effects of neutrino heating. For this reason many astrophysicists had been sceptical that this instability indeed occurs in collapsing stars.

The Garching team could now demonstrate for the first time unambiguously that the SASI also plays an important role in the so far most realistic computer models. "It does not only govern the mass motions in the supernova core but it also imposes characteristic signatures on the neutrino and gravitational-wave emission, which will be measurable for a future Galactic supernova. Moreover, it may lead to strong asymmetries of the stellar explosion, in course of which the newly formed neutron star will receive a large kick and spin," describes team member Bernhard M?ller the most significant consequences of such dynamical processes in the supernova core.

The researchers now plan to explore in more detail the measurable effects connected to the SASI and to sharpen their predictions of associated signals. Moreover, they plan to perform more and longer simulations to understand how the instability acts together with neutrino heating and enhances the efficiency of the latter. The goal is to ultimately clarify whether this conspiracy is the long-searched mechanism that triggers the supernova explosion and thus leaves behind the neutron star as compact remnant.


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Friday, 28 June 2013

EU deal boosts prospects for banking union

BRUSSELS (AP) ? A hard-fought deal on how to pay for future bank bailouts gave European Union leaders a boost going into a summit Thursday, injecting credibility into their efforts to end the spiral of financial and economic troubles.

But other challenges await the 27 EU leaders, who will hold talks in Brussels through Friday.

Unemployment is at a record high across the bloc, particularly for the young, who have been disproportionately punished by years of crisis and recession. Germany has dashed hopes of investing any new money to ease the problem.

Meanwhile, a growing dispute between France and the EU leadership in Brussels is highlighting divisions between Europeans and their decision-makers.

The EU leaders will take stock of progress on the bloc's financial and economic policies just hours after their finance ministers reached a breakthrough, middle-of-the-night deal determining who will pay for future bank bailouts, so that taxpayers don't have to.

This is a key step toward establishing a so-called banking union for Europe, aimed at restoring stability after a tumultuous few years that have dragged down the global economy.

The set of rules determines the order in which investors and creditors will have to take losses when a bank is restructured or shut down, with a taxpayer-funded bailout being only a limited last resort.

"That's a major shift from the public means, from the taxpayer if you will, back to the financial sector itself which will now become for a very, very large extent responsible for dealing with its own problems," said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

A year ago, EU leaders pledged to tackle the eurozone's financial crisis by introducing a banking union. That would hand the supervision and rescue of banks to European institutions rather than leaving weaker member states to fend for themselves.

The project has stalled on many fronts, notably because richer countries fear they might have to pay for the banking woes of weaker countries. But Thursday's breakthrough offered new hope by establishing clear rules.

Following the 2008-2009 financial crisis, countries like Ireland, Britain and Germany each had to pump dozens of billions of fresh capital into ailing banks to avoid the financial system from collapsing.

To avoid that happening again, the new rules foresee for banks' creditors and shareholders to be the first to take losses. But if that isn't enough to prop up the lender, small companies and ordinary savers holding uninsured deposits worth more than 100,000 euros ($132,000) will also take a hit, officials said.

Those forced losses will go as high as 8 percent of a bank's total liabilities, only then would national governments kick in and top it up with a bailout possibly worth another 5 percent of the liabilities.

EU leaders are meant to focus at this summit on fighting youth unemployment ? which has topped 50 percent in some of southern Europe's crisis-hit economies and affects almost one in four youth across the EU.

The flagship policy touted since last year in Brussels remains that the 27 nations, forming a 13 trillion euro economy, have pledged to use 6 billion euros for the fight against youth unemployment starting in 2014. Half the money is being repackaged from other existing budget positions.

Germany, Europe's reluctant paymaster, again made it clear before the summit that those funds won't be increased. Berlin insists that the main responsibility lies with the member states themselves, saying they have to reform their economies to encourage growth.

With stimulus policies off the table in times of belt-tightening across the bloc, leaders were instead touting a previously agreed capital increase for the European Investment Bank, which should boost lending and foster job creation.

"The employment problems in some, and in most, European nations cannot alone be solved with European taxpayers' money," a senior German government official said Wednesday. "The precondition for a successful fight against youth unemployment must happen in the respective countries through necessary reforms, including on the labor market," he added. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was briefing reporters about the summit's closed-door talks.


Angela Charlton and Raf Casert also contributed to this report.


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Smarter in Minutes - Real Estate - Investor's CollegeReal Estate Investor?s CollegeDVD & Compact DiscThis is real estate investing for everybody with greater than 18 hours of productivity tools on 12 audio CDs and 6 DVDs featuring renowned real estate expert Dolf De Roos. Learn from the most productive with this unique series of audio and video titles considering harnessing and improving your individual potential. Transfer the Smarter in Minutes productivity CDs in your i Pod or MP3 player for learning at the go!

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Book Review : Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe by Mario Livio

Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe

Review by Allison Bohac

By Mario Livio

Web edition: June 28, 2013
Print edition: July 13, 2013; Vol.184 #1 (p. 30)

Even brilliant scientists have bad days. Consider chemist Linus Pauling, who described the alpha helix structure of proteins in 1951. When he attempted to do the same for DNA, however, he botched it ? badly. Among other problems, he flubbed the basic chemistry, proposing a structure for deoxyribonucleic acid that wasn?t an acid.

When asked about Pauling?s faulty DNA model, one of his contemporaries commented, ?You could not have written a fictional novel in which Linus would have made an error like this.?

Why Pauling stumbled is just one of the questions that astrophysicist Livio attempts to answer. Countless scientists have made major mistakes over the centuries, but Livio wisely focuses on gaffes from just five great minds: Pauling, Darwin, Einstein, astrophysicist Fred Hoyle and William Thomson, also known as Lord Kelvin.

Livio outlines the scientific context for each scientist?s work and pores
over personal correspondence and historical records to try to explain what went wrong. Hoyle, for instance, stubbornly dismissed the Big Bang model of the universe for decades, and Einstein failed to see the importance of his cosmological constant, which he had devised as a fix for general relativity. Though Livio can only speculate on the reasons behind these errors, his clear and compelling writing reinforces the important contributions each of these men made to their fields.

The double helix may have eluded Pauling, but his mistake helped to galvanize James Watson and Francis Crick into a concentrated effort to find the correct structure. Livio?s ultimate message is that blunders ? even big ones ? can play a role in scientific discovery.

Simon & Schuster, 2013, 341 p., $26


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Katekyo Hitman Reborn!: The new generation only two spots

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It's complicated: Lots to sort out on gay marriage

Renata Moreira, right, and partner Lori Bilella embrace at San Francisco's City Hall shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The couple plans to marry. The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits. The other was a technical legal ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court's declaration that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Renata Moreira, right, and partner Lori Bilella embrace at San Francisco's City Hall shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The couple plans to marry. The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits. The other was a technical legal ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court's declaration that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

(AP) ? Two landmark Supreme Court rulings that bolster gay marriage rights don't remove all barriers to same-sex unions by a long shot. Where gay couples live still will have a lot to do with how they're treated.

Some questions and answers about Wednesday's court rulings:

Q: Can you boil down these two big rulings ? 104 pages in all ? to the basics?

A: In one case, the court said legally married gay couples are entitled to the same federal benefits available to straight couples. In the other, it cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California, where voters banned them in 2008.

Q: What type of benefits are we talking about?

A: More than you'd expect. There are more than 1,000 federal laws in which marital status matters, covering everything from income and inheritance taxes to health benefits and pensions. In states where gay marriage is legal, same-sex couples may actually be looking forward to filing their income taxes next April ? married, filing jointly.

Q. Why does it matter where a gay couple lives?

A: Even with Wednesday's ruling, where legally married gay couples live still may affect the federal benefits they can obtain, at least for now. Social Security survivor benefits, for example, depend on where a couple is living when a spouse dies. If that happens in a state that bans or does not recognize the union, it's not for sure that the surviving spouse will be entitled to the payments. Immigration law, meanwhile, only looks at where people were married, not where they live. It's complicated.

Q: What does the U.S. marriage map look like right now?

A: It's a patchwork. Same-sex marriage is legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia ? representing 18 percent of the U.S. population. When gay marriage resumes in California, the figure will jump to 30 percent. Twenty-nine other states have constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage. Six states have laws that ban it. Two states neither allow gay marriage nor ban it.

Q: How many same-sex couples in the U.S. have been legally married?

A: The numbers are squishy. The Pew Research Center estimates there have been at least 71,000 legal marriages since 2004, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize them, but says there are almost certainly more. The Williams Institute, a UCLA-based think tank, says approximately 114,000 couples are legally married and more than 108,000 are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. In California alone, 18,000 same-sex couples were married during the 142-day period when gay unions were legal there in 2008.

Q: What's all this talk about DOMA?

A: DOMA is the federal Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996. The court on Wednesday struck down a section of that law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for purposes of federal law. That's what had denied legally married gay couples access to a host of federal benefits and programs that are available to straight couples.

Q: Why all of the focus Wednesday on California?

A: The second case that the court addressed related to a 2008 state ballot proposition that added a ban on gay marriage to the California Constitution. The court didn't rule on the merits of that ballot proposal, but it left in place a trial court's declaration that the proposition is unconstitutional. That means same-sex weddings are likely to resume there in about a month.

Q: What more could the Supreme Court have done?

A: Tons. It could have given gay Americans the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals. Instead, it sidestepped the looming question of whether banning gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Q: What's President Barack Obama's take on all of this?

A: He welcomed the ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and directed Attorney General Eric Holder to make sure federal laws are in sync with the ruling. (Obama, who endorsed gay marriage last year, broke with his Republican and Democratic predecessors and declined to defend the law in court.) Already, the Defense Department says it is beginning the process to extend health care, housing and other federal benefits to the same-sex spouses of members of the military.

Q: How does the public feel about gay marriage?

A: Public support has grown dramatically in the last few years, with a majority now favoring legal marriage for gay couples. There's even broader support for extending to gay couples the same legal rights and benefits that are available to married straight couples. An Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll last fall found 63 percent favored granting gay couples the same legal benefits straight couples had. And 53 percent favored legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Q: What happens next?

A: Supporters of gay marriage will keep pressing to legalize same-sex unions in all 50 states. That means more battles in individual states, and more visits to the Supreme Court.

Associated Press


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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Find out who won a Moga Pro controller from Android Central!

Moga Pro controllers!

If you're a registered member here at Android Central then you know our forums always have a contest happening. And if you're not registered, well -- now is as good a time as any. This week's winners are as posted below, and if you were chosen watch your email as we'll be following up to get your info. Stay tuned for more upcoming contests folks. Congrats to the winners!

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Markey wins Massachusetts Senate race (Washington Post)

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Weight loss's effect on heart disease risks

June 25, 2013 ? A landmark study investigating the long-term effects of weight loss on the risks of cardiovascular disease among patients with Type 2 diabetes has now concluded, with significant results to be published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and at clinical facilities throughout the United States, the multicenter clinical trial investigated the effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention program, intended to achieve and maintain weight loss in overweight or obese people with Type 2 diabetes, on rates of cardiovascular disease. Begun in 2001, the trial enrolled more than 5,000 people at 16 clinical centers across the United States and is the longest intervention study of its type ever undertaken for patients with diabetes.

John Jakicic, chair and professor in the Department of Health and Physical Activity in Pitt's School of Education and Director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, served as principal investigator for the University of Pittsburgh's role in the study. He, along with colleagues throughout the University, is among the researchers comprising the national Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) Research Group, which carried out the study and authored the New England Journal of Medicine paper.

Among the study's main findings is that weight loss among members of the study's Intensive Lifestyle Intervention group, provided with a program of weight management and increased physical activity, resulted in no difference in heart attacks and strokes when compared with the study's control group, the Diabetes Support and Education group, which was provided with only general health information and social support.

The effect of the intervention program on weight loss, however, was significant: Participants in the intervention group lost 8.7 percent of their initial body weight after one year of the study versus 0.7 percent among the control group's members; the intervention group also maintained a greater weight loss, 6 percent of their initial weight, versus 3.5 percent for the control group, at the study's conclusion.

The Look AHEAD study is the first to achieve such sustained weight loss. A weight loss of 5 percent or more in short-term studies is considered to be clinically significant and has been shown to improve control of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and other risk factors. Comparable weight loss can also help prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes in overweight and obese adults.

"While the findings from the Look AHEAD study did not support that engagement in a weight- loss intervention was effective for reducing the onset of cardiovascular disease incidence or mortality, this does not mean that overweight adults with diabetes should not lose weight and become more physically active," said Jakicic. "Rather, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence from this study to date that has shown that weight loss and physical activity were associated with numerous other health benefits.

"These include improving physical function and quality of life, reduction in risk factors such as lipids and blood pressure with less reliance on medication, better diabetes control with less reliance on medication, improved sleep, psychological and emotional health benefits, and many others," Jakicic said. "Thus, adults with diabetes can begin to realize many of these health benefits with even modest reductions in body weight and modest increases in physical activity."

The study sought to determine whether weight loss achieved with a lifestyle program would help individuals with diabetes live longer and develop less cardiovascular disease. While short-term studies had shown that weight loss improved control of blood sugar and mitigated risk factors for heart disease and stroke in overweight and obese individuals with Type 2 diabetes, the longer-term effects of weight loss were not well studied. In particular, it was unknown whether weight loss achieved with a lifestyle intervention alone could reduce the risk of heart disease in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, affecting approximately 25 million Americans over the age of 20. Complications of Type 2 diabetes include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, the nervous system disease known as neuropathy, and amputations. The total cost of Type 2 diabetes in 2012 was estimated to be $245 billion. This disease, for which there is no cure but which involves ongoing treatment, can be managed with diet, physical activity including regular exercise equal to at least 30 minutes of brisk walking each day, modest weight loss, and a variety of medications. The Look AHEAD study has shown that these lifestyle factors are effective for improving the management of Type 2 diabetes.

Study participants were individuals between 45 and 75 years of age with Type 2 diabetes and a body-mass index of 25 or greater. Sixty percent of the study participants were women, while 37 percent were from ethnic and racial minority groups.

The University of Pittsburgh's General Clinical Research Center and Clinical Translational Research Center served as participating clinical sites, with researchers here recruiting more than 330 participants over a three-year span. Jakicic credited the Division of Endocrinology within the Department of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry in Pitt's School of Medicine, and the Department of Epidemiology in Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, with the success of the local clinical trials.

Participants were assigned randomly to the Intensive Lifestyle Intervention group or the Diabetes Support and Education group. Members of the Intensive Lifestyle Intervention group were enrolled in a weight management program that provided individual and group support for making changes in eating behaviors and engaging in physical activity. The intervention program focused on home-based, functional activities including helping participants balance, climb stairs, and get out of a chair, among other examples. Diabetes Support and Education group members received what Jakicic called "usual care, with some very infrequent support on general health topics that were not related to diet, physical activity, or weight loss."

Participants were required to have their own health care providers manage their diabetes and other conditions. Look AHEAD did not provide medical care, but it did assist participants in finding a health care provider if they did not have one.

The Look AHEAD study was intended to run for 13.5 years, the maximum length of time researchers had determined might be required to see a difference in heart disease between two groups. After 11 years, however, the Look AHEAD Data and Safety Monitoring Board, an independent monitoring board that provides recommendations to the National Institutes of Health, reviewed the data the study had collected and determined that Look AHEAD could reach the definite conclusion that there were no differences in cardiovascular disease rates between the study's two groups.

Speculating on the failure of weight loss to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers suggested that even greater weight loss may be necessary to reduce cardiovascular risk in diabetes patients who are overweight or obese. They also suggested that by providing participants in both groups, and their health care providers, with annual feedback on the participants' blood pressure, lipids, and blood sugar control, the cardiovascular disease risks for all experiment participants may have been reduced at a comparable rate.

The paper is titled "Cardiovascular Effects of Intensive Lifestyle Intervention in Type 2 Diabetes." It appeared online in the New England Journal of Medicine today, June 24, 2013. Research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh's General Clinical Research Center and Clinical Translational Research Center was funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award and a National Institutes of Health grant.


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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

NIH to retire most chimps from medical research

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows two chimps walking together at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. The government is about to retire most of the chimpanzees who?ve spent their lives in U.S. research labs. The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday that it will retire about 310 chimps from medical research over the next few years, saying humans? closest relatives ?deserve special respect.?The agency will keep only 50 other chimps essentially on retainer _ available if needed for crucial medical studies that could be performed no other way. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows two chimps walking together at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. The government is about to retire most of the chimpanzees who?ve spent their lives in U.S. research labs. The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday that it will retire about 310 chimps from medical research over the next few years, saying humans? closest relatives ?deserve special respect.?The agency will keep only 50 other chimps essentially on retainer _ available if needed for crucial medical studies that could be performed no other way. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

(AP) ? It's official: The National Institutes of Health plans to end most use of chimpanzees in government medical research, saying humans' closest relatives "deserve special respect."

The NIH announced Wednesday that it will retire about 310 government-owned chimpanzees from research over the next few years, and keep only 50 others essentially on retainer ? available if needed for crucial medical studies that could be performed no other way.

"These amazing animals have taught us a great deal already," said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. He said the decision helps usher in "a compassionate era."

The NIH's decision was long expected, after the prestigious Institute of Medicine declared in 2011 that nearly all use of chimps for invasive medical research no longer can be justified. Much of the rest of the world already had ended such research with this species that is so like us.

Any future biomedical research funded by the NIH with chimps, government-owned or not, would be allowed only under strict conditions after review by a special advisory board. In five years, the NIH will reassess if even that group of 50 government-owned apes still is needed for science.

"This is an historic moment and major turning point for chimpanzees in laboratories, some who have been languishing in concrete housing for over 50 years," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "It is crucial now to ensure that the release of hundreds of chimpanzees to sanctuary becomes a reality."

What's unclear is exactly where the retiring chimps, which have spent their lives in research facilities around the country, now will spend their final years. NIH said they could eventually join more than 150 other chimps already in the national sanctuary system operated by Chimp Haven in northwest Louisiana. In that habitat, the chimps can socialize at will, climb trees and explore different play areas.

But NIH officials said currently there's not enough space to handle all of the 310 destined for retirement. They're exploring additional locations, and noted that some research facilities that currently house government-owned chimps have habitats similar to the sanctuary system.

The other hurdle is money: Congress limited how much the NIH can spend on caring for chimps in the sanctuary system. Negotiations are under way to shift money the agency has spent housing the animals in research facilities toward supporting their retirement.

"Everybody should understand this is not something that is going to happen quickly," Collins cautioned.

One chimp center, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, said keeping just 50 of the animals for ongoing research isn't enough and could hamper efforts to fight not just human illnesses but diseases that kill apes, too.

Moreover, moving retired chimpanzees to the federal sanctuary "would take them away from their caregivers, many of whom they have known all of their lives," said an institute statement that argued the animals would fare better if they stayed put.

The NIH's decision came two weeks after the Fish and Wildlife Service called for protection of all chimpanzees as endangered. Until now there was a "split listing" that labeled wild chimps as endangered but those in captivity as threatened, a status that offers less protection.

That move also would affect any future use of chimps in medical research, and NIH said it would work with its government counterpart to ensure compliance.

Chimps rarely have been used for drug testing or other invasive research in recent years; studies of chimp behavior or genetics are a bit more common. Of nine biomedical projects under way, the NIH said six would be ended early. Of another 13 behavioral or genetic studies involving chimps, five would be ended early. NIH would not identify the projects, but Collins said potential future need for chimps could be in creating a vaccine against hepatitis C.

Associated Press


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BlackBerry releases Secure Work Space for iOS and Android

Blackberry releases Secure Work Space for iOS and Android

Paranoid corporate types living in fear of bring-your-own-device employees can soon relax: BlackBerry has just launched its Secure Work Space app, right on schedule. It'll allow organizations to manage and secure Google and Apple devices through BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10, which forms the mobile backbone of many a company's internal network. By using it, personnel without BlackBerry devices like the Z10 or Q10 will gain a way to check their company's calendars, email and organizers without fear of snooping. At the same time, IT types will be able to securely see, manage and update all Android and Apple devices network-wide. For its part, the Waterloo outfit should gain another source of revenue through the software (which consists of a suite of apps and BES 10.1 update), even with companies that haven't invested in its devices. For more info about the software or to grab a trial, check the source.

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Via: Reuters

Source: Blackberry


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Aslan's Country: My Thoughts on Tennessee's Education Dilemma.

It would seem that many of Tennessee's public school teachers are upset about recent legislation regarding teacher pay. You can get the details

, and then read my comments below.

First off, let me begin by saying I am not an educator. I say this because I myself hold in contempt those who venture to comment on subjects they know nothing about. I try not to jest at wounds I have never suffered. If you choose to stop reading this upon those grounds, you are justified. In the past, I have been, de facto, offered positions in both the public and private sector to teach the skills of my own vocation (technical drawing and engineering graphics, like CAD, solid modeling, parametric modeling, etc) at higher education levels, but I have never actually taught. The point is, my qualifications for making some of the statements I am about to make are questionable at best.

Second, let me make clear at once that I am a libertarian who believes education would be better managed on a local level instead of being managed under the broad umbrella of State or Federal Bureaucracies. Better yet, I believe that education completely out of the hands of any government, at any level, and delegated to the private sector (private schools) would better educate our children. If you?re a proponent of government involvement in education, if you could kindly explain to me how a bunch of bureaucrats with I-Phones, briefcases, and Armani suits, typically hundreds of miles away are contributing to the education of your child, I will be glad to recant my stance on government regulated education. But until then, I think government and education make poor bedmates. In such a scenario, private schools would compete for children the way private colleges and universities do. Competition drives innovation. And in order to be competitive, schools would have to have a proven track record of top-notch education. In such a scenario, there would be no need for government standardized testing or government regulations. The competition would keep the stakes high. For years now? In fact, one can probably trace it all the way back to Bush?s ?No Child Left Behind? legislation, teachers in the public school system have been plagued with standardized testing. Now while I agree that teachers do bear some accountability, I think the grades of students are not good barometers for gauging a teacher?s abilities or effectiveness. Of course, if education was privatized, as stated in my second paragraph, teacher accountability would be cut-and-dried. Teacher evaluations would be handled in the same manner all employees of private companies are evaluated. But as it is, the majority of our childrens? education is conducted in the public sector, so we have the hurdle of how to properly gauge the performance of teachers. Let me give you my prescription on a possibility of how this can be done. I presume every public school has its own autonomous administrative staff. Why not let the local administrative staff determine how teachers are to be evaluated? Perhaps it could be done through live classroom monitoring. Or maybe it can be done through annual teacher evaluations based on parental complaints. There are myriads of ways for employees to be evaluated, just ask any company manager. True, this opens doors for greasy hands, lecherous liaisons, and various and sundry other corruptions to take place to preserve one position in the hierarchy. But hey, you are the one that wanted to work for the government. Political ousting is a time-honored tradition among the politically elite. And no government worker is immune. Think about it like this. How do the cafeteria ladies or the school nurse get evaluated? Are they graded on how fat the children are, or how sick the children are? Such an asinine notion, and yet this is precisely what standardized testing does. Evaluating teachers based upon test scores is like evaluating the cafeteria ladies on how fat the children are, or evaluating the school nurse on how sick the children are. The point being, too much of the result lies beyond the control of the teacher. A teacher can be the best of the best. But that doesn?t mean their students will pay attention, apply themselves, or do their homework at night. This is beyond the teacher?s control. In some ways, it is ironic. When I was in school, some of the best teachers were marked by students with low scores. It didn?t mean the teacher was bad. It meant the teacher was tough. The class they taught suggested that students that were genuinely interested only need apply. The classes these teachers taught were not mere time fillers, but required the whole of one?s intellect. It is funny when you think about it. If test scores determine a teacher?s performance level, and consequently, their pay level, what teacher in their right mind would want to teach advanced classes? Couple this with the fact that the Tennessee Legislature has removed all motivation for educators to further their job skills by acquiring additional degrees. How can we compete unless we challenge the students? Challenging the students can only be done with teachers with high degrees. Now that there is scarcely a reason for a teacher to pursue education beyond a Bachelor?s Degree, can students really be challenged? There is one aspect to all this that no one is talking about, but is actually quite prominent. When I was in school, I could always tell a good teacher from a bad one. There was something that I can only describe as a spark. This spark transcended all subject matter being taught. These teachers had the knack for taking the students beyond the subject material into realms of understanding that isn?t found on any test. The indomitable, ?Why?? and, ?What for?? of education. I had precious few of these teachers during my time in school (some of whom I daresay will read this), and I thank God for them. In fact, I could write an entire blog about some of them. I could mention my fifth grade teacher who was the first to undertake reading to us a little every day from a book. It is doubtful that I have been without a book on my person since. Or perhaps my freshman English teacher, who read us Greek Mythology, which nurtured my interest in ancient cultures. Or my Algebra teacher, who somehow kept me signing up for her classes, even though it seemed like a perpetual struggle just to get a passing grade. Or the seventh grade history teacher who brought history to life, instead of just giving us dates and events to memorize. We have all heard of the phenomenon called ?Teaching to the test?. This is what occurs when a teacher knows their job, and their pay grade, relies on the results of a test, so they simply emphasize those aspects of the subject matter to the children they know will be on the test, while leaving other aspects of the subject untouched, or breezed over. The product of this type of teaching is children with a head full of facts, but no real intellectual mechanism to parse and critically analyze those facts. In summary, standardized testing destroys the transmission of ?critical thinking?, which should be an intrinsic aspect of any subject. You can tell a child that 2+2=4. But what do you tell the child when he asks why 2+2=4, and what he is supposed to do with it? If you?re a teacher, and you teach a child that 2+2=4, are you teaching the child in such a way that he will commit it to memory so that when he sees ?2+2=? on a standardized test, he will know the answer, or are you teaching them in such a way as to lay the groundwork for higher mathematical and logical reasoning, which serves as the foundation for what?s to come in higher education and various vocational fields of study? Are you merely inputting data the way one might input data in a computer, or are you creating the ?spark?? None of the books read in the fifth grade, or the Greek Myths I learned in my freshman year, were on any standardized test. And I could have graduated just as easily, nay, easier, if I had only taken the required years of algebra instead of doubling up on it. And I cannot recall ever answering a question about Longstreet?s march through Bean Station to Knoxville on a standardized test. I doubt those ?long-in-the-tooth? old-fart bureaucrats know who Lee?s old warhorse even is. But, it is these things that nurtured me. That is because these teachers were not teaching to the test. They were attempting to create the spark. C. S. Lewis, the famous Christian apologist and literary author, wrote a small book based upon a series of lectures entitled ?The Abolition of Man?. I highly recommend it to any educator who hasn?t read it. In it, he outlines the necessity of taking education beyond the mere intellect. He argues that a proper education must pervade the intellect and the viscera of an individual. If you?ve never heard the word ?viscera?, it simply is in reference to man?s more instinctive ?animal? nature, symbolized in man?s stomach the way the intellect is symbolized by a man?s head. Lewis argues that education should saturate and stimulate both the head (intellect) and the stomach (viscera), and should have open and free commute between the two. The path connecting the two is through the chest, obviously. The most troubling aspect of the whole treatise is that he defines an education system where this isn?t the case, where educators essentially create ?men without chests?, or in other words, where education is confined, most often in the head, and not permitted to pervade the whole of the man. No critical thinking. No mechanism for utilizing an education. No way to incorporate an education into an adult life. A world of ?men without chests? is not a scenario for social stability in a world where education determines your place on the world?s totem pole. It brings about the true "Abolition of Man". What concerns me is that the actions of the past decade in regards our education is seemingly bringing Lewis? dystopian predictions to fruition. Even our institutions of higher education, which must meet Federal regulations to be ?accredited?, seem to be engaged in what I call ?shotgun? teaching. Today?s graduates of both high school and college seem to have heads crammed with more facts than even the graduates of my own generation had. But they seem so ill prepared in their proper use. ?Outside the box? thinkers are practically extinct. Critical thinkers are a dying breed. They know 2+2=4, but they don?t know why and what to do with it. Students are trained to parrot what schools teach them, and to never even test the tolerances of known rules. This will eventually kill true innovation. Consider, while we have grown rather adept at improving existing inventions and ideas, how long has it been since something new came down the pike? Something like the car, or the computer, or the telephone, or the light-bulb? Yeah, we have improved our cars and telephones and light-bulbs. But has there been anything new that isn?t simply an improvement or derivative of an existing design? I honestly cannot think of anything. Are we, perhaps, further into Lewis? dystopia that even I am willing to speculate? To end, I predict that as long as education lies in the power of government to regulate, things will not change and will only get worse. And with government, as with all ruling bodies of men, acquired power is not easily relinquished. In the end, it is up to educators to bind together and make a change. It may take something radical, like a mass walkout. Or, if principals and administrators are level-headed enough, it might only take a few good, well-informed, and eloquent people to really outline the problem and how Tennessee?s prescribed treatment will only perpetuate and worsen the problem. And then, most importantly, outline the real solution.

I admit I am not hopeful. This transition from educating to indoctrination seems to be close to complete. At risk of sounding conspiratorial, and sounding like an outright fruit-loop, it seems engineered. This erosion in our education seems to be on a fast track, and is a result of planning and design. I might have just discredited everything I said in saying that. But I?d rather be honest about how I feel about it.

But if I am right, the next question will be the indomitable, ?Why?? Why is our educational system being structured in this way? What is hoped to be accomplished? Conspiracy theorists call it the "dumbing down" of America, but I think it goes deeper. Our graduating students have never had more quantified facts in their brains, so you really cannot, objectively speaking, say they are dumber. I think they want people who don't think, at least, not for themselves. They want mainstream thoughts in the minds of people. Constrained thoughts, based on constrained facts. This paralyzes any intellectual dexterity the mind might have possessed. The mind loses its pliability, unable to process information outside the mainstream. Perhaps we have already seen the firstfruits. Creative television programming has given way to mindless "reality telelvision". Interesting and provocative movie plots have been forfeited to "remakes" and "reboots" with more pretty, and less plot. Our culture is giving us all the warning signs of this academic atrophy. But whose able to recognize it?

It is all somewhat reminiscent of Orwell's "Thought-Police". But will there be anyone around who will be able to ask, "Why?" when the time comes?


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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

So What's Nik Wallenda Going to Walk Across Next?

There's something, well, uncomfortable about watching a man walk a tightrope across a 1,500-foot-deep canyon gorge, live on television. Oh, and without a safety net or harness, and only a long pole for balance. And the wind's blowing (unpredictably, and potentially as strong as 30 mph). And a microphone's letting you in on his ongoing prayers to Jesus, and his jokes about not looking down, and his occasional conversation with his dad (who's also miked and back on land). 


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EU clears ICE's $8.2 billion takeover of NYSE Euronext without conditions

By Ethan Bilby

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission gave unconditional approval to IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) to buy NYSE Euronext for $8.2 billion on Monday, a deal that strengthens ICE's presence in the lucrative derivatives trading business.

The EU regulator said its investigation into the merger found it would not raise antitrust concerns as the two exchanges are not direct competitors. Reuters reported last week that approval would be given unconditionally.

"The market investigation revealed that they do not exert a greater potential competitive threat on each other compared to other exchanges. Any anticompetitive effects can therefore be excluded," the Commission said in a statement.

The acquisition gives ICE control of London-based Liffe, Europe's second-largest derivatives market, and will help it compete with U.S. rival CME Group .

The Commission said they especially examined the effect the merger would have on agricultural and soft commodity derivatives, as well as on U.S. equity derivatives, but that their investigation found no competition concerns.

New EU derivatives rules, to be gradually phased in this year, will dramatically expand the demand for clearing over-the-counter contracts. The deal also boosts ICE's presence in the interest rate futures business.

The combined ICE-NYSE Euronext would be the third-largest exchange group globally, behind world No. 1 Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and CME Group.

The Commission also said that the minor overlaps in the two companies' foreign exchange derivatives trading and bond trading businesses did not raise concerns.

ICE's announcement in March that it would cap its trading fees for Liffe soft commodities such as coffee, cocoa and sugar for five years and put product committees in place if the merger was approved, eased possible competition concerns, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Traders on NYSE Liffe's soft commodity markets had expressed concerns that the deal could lead to higher trading fees and give ICE a near monopoly in global cocoa, coffee and sugar derivatives trading.

(Writing by Ethan Bilby; Editing by Rex Merrifield)


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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Good guys and bad bond on 'The Killing'


16 hours ago

Image: Seward on "The Killing"

Carole Segal / AMC

Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard) bonded with Alton, which worked against him this week.

Three weeks into the third season of AMC?s "The Killing," the bond between Linden and Holder continues to strengthen as the two find themselves delving deeper into the mystery of Seattle?s shrinking teenage prostitute population. (Oh yeah: And the descent into darkness continues unabated, too.)

Indeed, Linden?s feelings toward Holder?s current partner, Carl Reddick, are decidedly solidified when she snaps at him, ?23 years of experience, and all you are is in the way.? But given the way he immediately hops outside to join her on a trip to visit a witness, he most likely agrees.

There?s more going on in the episode than just what happening between the two mainstays of the series, however.

Impromptu press conference

One of the reasons Carl?s in such a rotten mood this week is that after he and Holder spot Goldie the Limping Pimp racing off to parts unknown with an unidentified woman in his car, they follow him. Turns out there was no crime about to be committed, only a meeting with squadron of reporters and to mouth off about his treatment by Seattle?s finest and how other suspects are being ignored as a result. It?s a police department?s worst nightmare, and boss man Skinner doesn?t hesitate to express his feelings on the matter.

Death row beat-down

The relationship between the sociopathic Ray Seward and fellow prisoner Alton is one that?s kept viewers racked with tension, wondering if Seward?s finally going to decide he?s had enough of Alton?s mouth and just kill the guy. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, Seward seems to have taken a shine to Alton, and it?s one that their guards have picked up on: When Seward won?t take his meds, they start beating Alton?s ass until, amazingly enough, Seward decides to give in to save Alton. Alton?s only semi-grateful, telling Seward he shouldn?t have let them win, causing a dejected Seward to reply, ?They won a long time ago.?

Yo, Joe

Danette Lutz started out the season as the series? least likely candidate for Mother of the Year, but she managed to win a brief moment or two of sympathy when Linden paid her a visit and played her the video of her daughter. It?s still not enough to get her to completely change her tune, but she does at least manage to provide Linden with a little bit of assistance. Unfortunately, as we discover in the closing shot of the episode, her taste in terrible men has brought her into a liaison with Joe Mills, the creepiest cab driver in Seattle. There?s no way that?s going to end well.


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Legal experts query need for crime re-enactment - The Nation

Home ? national ? Legal experts query need for crime re-enactment

Opas Boonlom,
Patinya Iamtan,
Chanikarn Pumhirun
The Nation June 17, 2013 1:00 am

Courts are no longer allowed to accept as evidence suspects' accounts during their re-enactment of serious crimes after laws were amended to prevent a repeat of some high-profile criminal cases in which scapegoats were convicted.

A common scene at any crime re-enactment is police "dictating" to their suspects, such as carrying out actions as a sort of wrap up by police of their investigation. For instance, during a re-enactment, if the suspect hits a "victim" on his leg, police will instruct the suspect to also hit his head, if the victim had a head injury.

A Metropolitan Police specialist said a re-enactment is important for an investigation because each criminal or each gang behaves differently in committing a crime. Details on how criminals commit each crime help the police understand the pattern of a crime. This can help them track down other criminals showing the same behaviour pattern and help reduce the loss of life and property.

Crime re-enactments must be kept for future investigation, he said.

Jessada Anujari, a director of the Law Society of Thailand, disapproves of the practice, especially when police dictate to the suspects. He said a re-enactment is superfluous if suspects have already confessed to a crime.

Re-enactments are not common in foreign countries.

How much weight is given to re-enactments at trials?

Sri-amporn Salikup, chief justice of the Supreme Court, said a re-enactment provides an imaginative model of how the crime is committed.

For crimina l cases liable to over five years imprisonment, the court will not consider suspects' testimony during police investigations, whether confessions or denials. A confession is not enough for conviction and police must provide evidence to prove that suspects committed a crime. If a suspect reverses his confession during a trial, then the re-enactment is meaningless, he said.

Paiboon Warahapaitoon, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, said the independent organisation had asked police to consider human rights during re-enactments because suspects are regarded as innocent until proven otherwise.

The widely publicised murder of Thai-American teenager Sherry Ann Duncan in 1986 was an example of a miscarriage of justice. The court, under the old law, accepted confessions made during police investigations into its decision to convict four suspects.

The ill-conceived police investigation and the court's wrongful conviction of the four men in that that case have gone down in the country's history as a travesty of justice.

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