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Depression Ups Risk for Kidney Patients

DALLAS, May 20 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say complications may be more likely in kidney disease patients diagnosed with depression than among other kidney patients.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas find long-term hospitalization, long-term dialysis treatment or dying within the year were twice as likely to occur in chronic kidney disease patients diagnosed with depression as in patients without depression.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded chronic kidney disease patients with depression are more likely to have poorer health outcomes than those without depression — even after adjusting for age, race and other current medical conditions.

“Clinicians should consider screening chronic kidney disease patients for depression, especially since depression is also associated with poor quality of life,” study lead author Dr. Susan Hedayati says in a statement.

Hedayati and colleagues monitored 267 chronic kidney patients for one year. All were military veterans; all but two ere male; the mean age was 65 and slightly more than half were Caucasian. Fifty-six of the patients were diagnosed with a current major depressive episode.

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One-third Female Homicides Killed by Lover

ATLANTA, May 13 (UPI) — One in three homicides of U.S. women are committed by an intimate partner, while 5 percent of male homicides are by intimate partners, officials said.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System, federal health officials analyzed data on homicides and suicides from 16 states for 2007. The researchers said homicide rates were more than three times higher among males than females, with non-Hispanic blacks accounting for the majority of homicides.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released Thursday, said there are about double the amount of suicides — 9,245 — to the 4,563 homicides reported from the 16 U.S. states in 2007.

Suicide rates were highest among people ages 45-54, a shift from men age 80 and older — the age group that has typically had the highest rates of suicide.

Suicides among former or current military personnel — mostly males, non-Hispanic whites and age 45 and older — were precipitated by physical or mental health problems, intimate partner problems or a crisis in the past two weeks, the report said.

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Biofuel Used in Air Force Aircraft Test

VALPARAISO, Fla., March 25 (UPI) — The U.S. Air Force said a biomass-derived jet fuel blend was used to fuel the flight of an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft in Florida Thursday.

Air Force Maj. Michelle Coghill confirmed both of the military aircraft’s engines used the biofuel for Thursday morning’s flight at Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Fla., the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News reported.

The Air Force said the flight represented the first time all of a military or civilian airplane’s engines were fueled by a biofuels blend.

The test flight represents part of an ongoing Air Force effort to develop and test biofuels. The Daily News said officials from both the Air Force Research Laboratory and Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base oversaw the test flight.

Unlike conventional jet fuel, biofuels burn cleaner without compounds like sulfur. Yet without such ingredients, biofuels are less stable and provide limited engine lubricating capabilities.

University of Dayton Research Institute official Dilip Ballal, whose Ohio institute is working on fuels and combustion research, said a suitable solution was a blend of biofuels with conventional JP-8 jet fuel.

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Wind Energy Projects Receive Credit Boost

OTTAWA, March 25 (UPI) — Wind energy projects run by Wind Works Power Corp. received a boost with a $10 million credit facility that will go toward developing capacity in Canada, the United States and Europe.

Wind Works Power Corp. said it was pledged the line of credit after an investment agreement signed with Kodiak Capital Group LLC of New York. The agreement covers a

a $10 million equity line of credit that Wind Works will use to expand projects in its portfolio.

Wind energy received a major boost worldwide amid controversy over the impact of hydrocarbons use on climate change and also the volatile conditions in the crude oil market.

In the poorer countries hit by oil price spikes through 2009 renewable energy generation, including wind power, became an urgent priority. U.N. cash helped poorer countries start renewable energy projects in Africa and the Caribbean, though on a small scale compared to those countries’ energy needs.

However, the less-developed countries still lag behind industrial nations in optimum use of renewable energy because the technologies they apply in harnessing wind power and other renewable sources are often primitive. Lack of cash resources has come in the way of developing nations adopting renewable energies as efficiently as in the industrial world.

In North America and Europe, wind energy, wave energy and geothermal power have caught on with impressive results, attracting new investment.

Wind power development in North America received an unexpected setback as security authorities found that wind energy farms obstructed proper functioning of radar.

The most publicized obstacles to wind power expansion have been complaints over their visual impact and the potential for bird and bat deaths. Less known is the conflict with radar systems, highlighted by military authorities.

More than 9,000 megawatts worth of wind capacity, nearly as much as was installed in the United States in 2009, had to be canceled because of those security concerns.

Wind farms create “cones of silence,” making it difficult for primary radar systems to detect airplanes as they fly over them. Planes with transponders can communicate with air traffic control but many smaller planes don’t have transponders.

Analysts said the conflict over radar would need to be addressed for wind farms to thrive and attract more investment. The latest credit accord indicated that investment climate for wind farms could be improving.

Following the agreement signing, Wind Works filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to register 10 million shares of common stock. Wind Works will draw down on the credit facility, in amounts and timing at its sole discretion, and will issue common stock to Kodiak as the facility is utilized. The company won’t be able to draw down the equity line of credit with Kodiak until the registration statement is declared effective by the SEC.

Wind Works plans to use the funding from the equity line of credit to further develop its project portfolio. The company’s holding consists of equity interests in 23 wind energy projects in Canada, the United States and Europe for a total capacity of 367 megawatts.

Wind Works President and Chief Executive Officer Ingo Stuckmann said the credit facility facility “offers us access to the capital markets that we believe provides more flexibility, and ultimately less dilution, than traditional financing vehicles.”

The funds will enable the company to expand its operations and advance its project portfolio “to the point we can generate revenue in the near term, thereby adding value to the company and increasing shareholder value,” Stuckmann said.

Kodiak Capital Group, LLC, which was founded in 2009 and has headquarters in New York, assists growth companies in their long-term strategy by providing capital and business solutions.

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Whale Birth Imperils Navy Plans

VILANO BEACH, Fla., March 24 (UPI) — For only the second time, scientists in Florida videotaped the birth of an endangered whale — in waters earmarked by the U.S. Navy for a training range.

Derecha, a right whale, gave birth Saturday in the ocean off Vilano Beach five years after the only other recording of a live birth, the Jacksonville Times-Union reported.

The discovery of the whale shortly before she was about to calve was made within approximately 10 miles of the patch of ocean the Navy chose last year for constructing an undersea warfare range.

“It was near the box … but drawing a line in the ocean is a difficult thing,” said William McLellan, a University of North Carolina-Wilmington research associate in charge of the survey work being done with Duke University for the Navy.

Environmental advocates, some of whom have sued to halt the training range plans, said that ship traffic and sonar use at the location could harm the whales.

“The Navy needs to go back to square one and reconsider,” said Sharon Young, the Humane Society of the United States’ marine issues field director and a former marine scientist.

“The fact that there’s a birth was something a little unexpected. We all agree it’s a good thing,” said Jene Nissen, the training program manager.

Right whales from New England and Canada migrate each winter to the Florida-Georgia coast, which is the only known calving ground for the endangered whales, the newspaper reported. Of a total population of approximately 450, more than 100 whales went to the area this winter.

The Navy plans an installation of hundreds of devices on the ocean floor that can track training involving ships, submarines, helicopters and planes during combat. Onshore trainers would use the equipment to give crews almost immediate analysis and feedback on their performance. Advocates of the plan say the system would allow crews to quickly learn from their mistakes.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Nuke Review Underscores Opposing Views

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) — A White House nuclear policy review will likely highlight the opposing views of U.S. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, officials say.

While the Democratic president has opposed development of new nuclear weapons, his Pentagon chief, a holdover from the Bush administration, has advocated a new generation of warheads, Politico reports.

The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, more than two months overdue, is to be released before the president plans to host a nuclear safety summit for heads of state next month. The review is conducted by the White House every four years.

“Quite clearly, the secretary has been stating he sees a need for replacement warheads and new designs, and I’m not sure those are the words the president would want to use at this stage in the process,” said Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists.

“This is the big challenge of the Obama administration, that it has to find some common ground for those two relatively, I wouldn’t say contradictory, but what can be distant positions,” Kristensen said.

The review has been perceived as dividing senior officials, with Vice President Joe Biden representing those who favor arms control while Gates is seen as leader of the military and nuclear establishment advocating new weapons programs.

Liberal arms-control activists say Obama ceded too much to Gates’s wishes with funding for nuclear weapons labs in the 2011 budget.

Administration officials said it is too early to discuss differences between the president’s position and that of Gates.

Gates “still believes in the fundamental goals of ensuring warhead safety, security and reliability, and believes we need a modern infrastructure to support that. Those investments are in the budget,” said Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman.

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Chilean President Slams Quake Criticism

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 3 (UPI) — Chilean President Michelle Bachelet faces growing criticism that her government’s response to last week’s earthquake was too little, too late, observers say.

In a radio interview, Bachelet said she resented the allegations against the government, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

“Everyone claims to be a general after the war,” she said.

The military’s emergency response system failed to give timely warning a tsunami might strike, critics say, and they charge the government with being slow to utilize its relief resources, the Times reported.

Such accusations, Bachelet said, were inflaming public anxiety — which she called “collective psychosis” — threatening to create countrywide instability.

“I understand people’s pain and fear,” she said, “but in this period of emergency, unfounded rumors only add to the unease and fear.”

The death toll had exceeded 800 by Wednesday, and overall damage estimates have been as high as $30 billion, the Times reported.

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Aftershocks Rumble Through Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 4 (UPI) — Aftershocks rocked Chile Thursday but aid was reaching areas ravaged by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake during the weekend, officials said.

A 6.1-magnitude aftershock hit near Valparaiso, raising fears buildings already unstable from Saturday’s earthquake could collapse, CNN reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey said more than 120 aftershocks of at least a 5-magnitude have hit Chile since the earthquake struck.

The death toll rose to 802 Wednesday, with nearly 600 of those in the Maule region, Chile’s National Emergency Office said.

Aid was reaching some of the harder-hit areas Wednesday, but some residents said they hadn’t received food or water, officials said.

Security forces were moving into quake-damaged areas as well to stop looting, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said, urging calm and saying lawlessness would not be tolerated. About 13,000 soldiers had been sent to Concepcion and other cities to maintain order.

“Nobody can argue that taking a refrigerator is an act of survival,” Bachelet said. “That is simply vandalism and delinquency.”

In cities digging out from the earthquake’s destruction, military and federal police enforced nighttime curfews and guarded stores to prevent robberies. Residents did the same, The New York Times reported.

In Los Angeles, for example, neighbors erect barriers and guarded their homes with makeshift weapons against robbers they said were taking advantage of the chaos.

“We’re trying to take care of the little we have here,” Ana Beroiz, 34, told the Times.

The presence of gun-toting soldiers has been a difficult sight for Chileans who lived through the military rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, several people told the Times. Bachelet and her parents were imprisoned and tortured during Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Beroiz said this was the first time that children had seen the military in action, and “as parents, that makes us nervous.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Aftershocks Jolt Chile, Hamper Rescue Work

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 1 (UPI) — Three aftershocks rocked Chile Monday as rescue efforts pressed forward from an 8.8-magnitude weekend earthquake that killed more than 700 people.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said the death toll of 708 was likely to rise and ordered soldiers into the most devastated areas to provide security and help distribute aid, The New York Times reported.

The earthquake Saturday was “an emergency unparalleled in the history of Chile,” Bachelet said.

The National Office of Emergency said the number of displaced people was 2 million.

Bachelet said the government had struck an agreement with grocery store chains to give away food to needy residents. Her office also called on residents not to hoard staples.

Rescue workers used power tools and their bare hands to remove rubble to reach people who were trapped.

“It’s very slow, dangerous work because on top of it all it’s still shaking there,” said Victoria Viteri, a spokeswoman with Chile’s national emergency office in Santiago.

The first of the three aftershocks had a magnitude of 4.8, striking south of Valparaiso, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Within the next 90 minutes, two more shocks, registering 4.9 and 5.3, hit the Maule region south of Santiago, the Times said.

Bachelet, during a news conference Sunday, called on power companies to work quickly so service could be restored.

“We need energy first,” she said, noting that cell phone communications, medical care and water distribution depended on it.

The president said the majority of the known dead were in the Maule wine region and Bio-Bio, the Times reported. The military will handle emergency operations in those areas for the next month, Bachelet said. A limited curfew was imposed.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would go ahead with a visit to Chile that was planned as part of her mission this week to Latin America. Clinton is scheduled to meet with Bachelet, who leaves office this month, and President-elect Sebastian Pinera.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Death Toll at 700 in Shaken Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile, Feb. 28 (UPI) — The death toll from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile has risen to more than 700, President Michelle Bachelet said Sunday,

About 2 million people were hurt or without homes, and chaos reigned in some of the worst-hit areas, the Los Angeles Times said in a report from Bogota, Colombia. Power and telecommunications systems were disrupted, a condition that made search and rescue operations more difficult, The New York Times reported.

A spray of about 30 aftershocks hit the country Sunday, including one that registered 6.1, the National Office of Emergency said.

Bachelet said the death toll jumped to 708 Sunday as crews reached outlying areas, but untold numbers were missing following one of the worst earthquakes on record this century. She said Chilean military personnel will distribute basic necessities to affected areas.

Tsunami warnings were lifted Sunday, with waves not reaching expected heights across the Pacific, including the shores of Japan, Hawaii and Southern California.

The Los Angeles Times report said looting broke out Sunday in some of the most heavily damages areas, and crowds overran supermarkets in the port city of Concepcion. The crowds made off with food, water and diapers — but also television sets. Several banks were looted, the report said.

Police sprayed looters with water cannons from armored vehicles, the Times reported, and arrested several people.

Bachelet held an emergency meeting of her Cabinet Sunday, then said she would send army troops into the Concepcion area, about 70 miles south of the quake’s offshore epicenter. The troops would restore order and assist in recovering bodies and searching for survivors.

In the coastal town of Constitucion alone, 350 people were killed, state television reported.

In Concepcion, dozens of people were trapped in a flattened 14-story apartment building. A biochemical lab at the University of Concepcion caught fire and cars lay smashed and upended on streets littered with utility cables, The New York Times reported.

In Santiago, about 200 miles from the quake’s center, about 600 travelers escaped from the terminal at the main airport when much of the roof collapsed. The runways were intact but the airport was closed because of the internal damage, The Washington Post reported.

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