Archive | Occupational Health

Suicide Attack in Iraq Leaves 65 Dead

A suicide attack in northern Iraq has killed 65 people, officials say.

A suicide bomber detonated a vest full of explosives Tuesday in a crowd outside a police station in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

Hospital director Dr. Raied al-Ani raised the death toll from 50 to 65 Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. He said 150 people were wounded in the bombing.

The crowd of police recruits was gathered to submit applications for 2,000 newly created jobs.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but authorities suspect it may have been the work of a Sunni group with ties to al-Qaida.

On Wednesday, the violence was followed by a pair of additional suicide blasts in Diyala province, north of Baghdad.

A suicide bomber crashed an explosives-laden ambulance into an Iraqi security headquarters in the provincial capital of Baquba, killing 13.

Two more were killed in a nearby town when a person wearing an explosives-packed vest blew himself up near a convoy that included local authority Sadiq al-Husseini, AFP reports. Al-Husseini and 15 others were wounded.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

Ben Bernanke Says It Could Be 5 Years Before Unemployment Goes Back to Normal

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that the country won’t see “sustained declines in the unemployment rate” with the current rate of job creation, AP reports.

Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that a “self-sustaining” economic recovery seems to be taking hold, but that it could take four to five years for joblessness to return to the historically normal rate of 6 percent.

U.S. employers created 103,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent partly because people gave up searching for jobs.

Bernanke said the Fed’s $600 billion Treasury bond-buying program is still necessary to get the economy back on track by lowering interest rates and bolstering stock prices.

Posted in Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

William Daley to Be Tapped for Chief of Staff Post, Sources Say

William Daley, a banking executive and former commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton, will replace Rahm Emmanuel as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, sources said Thursday.

Daley hails from Chicago, where his brother, Richard M. Daley, is the mayor. Emmanuel resigned to run for that post.

CNN reported Thursday that two White House officials speaking on condition of anonymity announced that Obama has chosen Daley to replace interim chief of staff Pete Rouse. Rouse said he did not want to remain in the position and recommended Daley as his successor.

Obama is expected to make the news official later Thursday, AP said.

Posted in Policies, Politics & Politicians, U.S. Federal Government Agencies0 Comments

Cuomo Nominates Joe Martens for DEC Commissioner

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has nominated Joe Martens to serve as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Martens, who has served as president of the non-profit group the Open Space Institute since 1998, has played a key role in acquiring land for conservation, sustainable development and sustainable farming in the Adirondacks and elsewhere.

He will replace Peter Iwanowitz, who has held the post since late October after Gov. David Paterson dismissed Alexander B. Grannis.

Grannis was fired over a leaked memo condemning the agency’s layoffs. He has since been hired as first deputy comptroller in the office of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Martens, who will need to wait for Senate approval to begin his work, previously served as deputy state secretary of energy and the environment from 1992-94 under Cuomo’s father, Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Environmental groups like the National Resources Defense Council have praised Cuomo’s choice to appoint Martens. “Joe Martens’ experience, judgment, and temperament make him the right person at the right time to meet the challenges that DEC faces,” said Ashok Gupta of the NRDC, according to the New York Times. “He has the support and key relationships with the business and environmental community that will allow him to hit the ground running.”

Martens will take over as the DEC works to complete an analysis of the environmental impact of the controversial “hydro-fracking” process in New York State’s Marcellus Shale region.

Posted in Laws & Regulations, Natural Gas, Policies, Politics & Politicians, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

Navy Testing May Hurt Whales along Pacific Coastline

New U.S. Navy testing off the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts will pose a danger for orca whales, environmentalists say.

The Obama administration recently approved a plan to expand sailor training, weapons testing, and underwater training minefield for submarines in the 122,400 nautical square miles off the West Coast.

The Navy has been training in that range since  World War II, but environmentalists worry that new missile and sonar testing along with the dumping of depleted uranium could harm the population of 150 orcas known to live along the Pacific coast.

Howard Garrett, the president of the Washington-based nonprofit Orca Network, claims the hazardous materials could pose a serious risk for vulnerable orcas.

“They’re all very susceptible,” Garrett told AP. “The Navy is single-minded and they’re focused, and the whales are very much a secondary concern to them.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council also expressed concern over the new program, saying it “would pose a significant risk to whales, fish and other wildlife,” by releasing “thousands of rounds of spent ammunition and unexploded ordnance containing chromium, chromium compounds, depleted uranium,” and other hazardous materials, AP reported Saturday.

The Navy’s mid-frequency sonar testing could damage the orca navigation and communication skills and could even cause brain damage and affect reproductive rates, the NRDC said.

But Navy officials maintain that the expanded practices will have no effect on marine life.

“We are not even permitted to kill even one marine mammal. … What people don’t seem to understand is we share the environment with everybody,” Navy spokeswoman Sheila Murray said, according to AP. “It’s our environment, too. Of course we want to take care of it. The Navy goes to great lengths to protect the marine environment.”

Garrett remains skeptical. “I’m not convinced by the assurances that the Navy gives that there will be no effect,” Garrett said. “I can’t imagine there won’t be mortalities.”

Posted in Aquatic Life, Conservation, Ecosystems, Fish, Mammals, Noise Pollution, Oceans & Coastlines, Toxic Substances, Water Pollution0 Comments

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Senate Vote Set for Sunday

The fate of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” will be determined on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thursday called for a vote on ending debate on a repeal of the ban on open military service by gays and lesbians.

At least 60 members of the Senate have said they will support repeal of the policy — including Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

The House voted Wednesday in favor of a measure to repeal the ban.

A Democratic supporter of repeal, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, will not be available for the vote Saturday because he is scheduled to undergo surgery Monday to treat early-stage prostate cancer, The Hill reported Thursday. Wyden will miss Friday’s Senate session as well as parts of the Senate schedule next week, the Capitol Hill publication said.

“I scheduled the surgery for the Monday before Christmas anticipating that the Senate would have recessed by that time and that there would be no disruption to my work in Oregon or Washington,” Wyden said in a statement.

Wyden was diagnosed with cancer in November.

Posted in Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

Noisy Workplace Linked to Heart Disease

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 6 (UPI) — A study of more than 6,000 U.S. workers found a persistently noisy workplace more than doubled serious heart disease risk, Canadian researchers say.

Study leader Wenqi Gan of the University of British Columbia used data from employees ages 20 and older who were part of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004. The researchers had data involving household interviews on lifestyle and occupational health, medical examinations and blood tests.

The researchers compared two groups of workers — one employed where they heard persistent loud noise to the extent that it was difficult to talk at normal volume for at least three months, and a second group that worked in quieter places.

Twenty-one percent of workers said they put up with a noisy workplace for an average of almost nine consecutive months. Most were men with an average age of 40, tended to weigh more and smoke more — both risk factors for heart disease — than those who work in quieter places.

The study, published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, finds workers in the noisy workplaces were between two to three times more likely to have serious heart problems compared to their peers in quiet workplaces.

The blood tests of the workers who worked in nosier places, did not indicate particularly high levels of cholesterol or inflammatory proteins — both risk factors for heart disease — but diastolic blood pressure, was higher than normal, a condition known as isolated diastolic hypertension, an independent predictor of serious heart problems.

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.

Posted in Occupational Health, Other0 Comments

Optical Technique Could Spot Early Cancer

EVANSTON, Ill., Oct. 5 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say an optical scanning technology could detect early signs of lung cancer by examining cheek cells in human beings.

Researchers from Northwestern University say the pioneering “biophotonics” technology shows potential for pre-screening patients at his risk for the disease, a Northwestern release said.

“By examining the lining of the cheek with this optical technology, we have the potential to pre-screen patients at high risk for lung cancer, such as those who smoke, and identify the individuals who would likely benefit from more invasive and expensive tests versus those who don’t need additional tests,” said Dr. Hemant K. Roy, director of gastroenterology research at NorthShore HealthSystem, a partner with Northwestern in the research.

Vadim Backman, professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied science, developed the technique, called partial wave spectroscopic microscopy.

PWS can detect cell features as small as 20 nanometers, uncovering differences in cells not apparent using standard microscopy techniques, researchers say.

“Despite the fact that these cells appear to be normal using standard microscopy … there are actually profound changes in the nanoscale architecture of the cell,” Backman said. “PWS measures the disorder strength of the nanoscale organization of the cell, which we have determined to be one of the earliest signs of carcinogenesis and a strong marker for the presence of cancer in the organ.”

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.

Posted in Architecture, Engineering, Other0 Comments

Aluminum 'nanometal' is Strong As Steel

RALEIGH, N.C., Sept. 8 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve learned how make an aluminum alloy — a mixture of aluminum and other elements — that’s as strong as steel.

North Carolina State University scientists say the search for ever lighter yet stronger materials is important for everything from more fuel-efficient cars to safer airplanes.

Yuntian Zhu, professor of materials science at NC State, says nanoscale architecture within the new aluminum alloys give them unprecedented strength but also reasonable plasticity to stretch and not break under stress, a university release reports.

The new aluminum alloys have unique structural elements called “grains,” each a tiny crystal less than 100 nanometers in size, that make them super-strong and ductile, Zhu says.

Bigger is not better in materials, he says, as smaller grains result in stronger materials.

The technique of creating these nanostructures can be used on many different types of metals, Zhu says.

He says he is working on strengthening magnesium, a metal even lighter than aluminum, and is working with the Department of Defense to make magnesium alloys strong enough to be used as body armor for soldiers.

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.

Posted in Architecture, Cars, Other0 Comments

Ancient 'terror Bird' Lived Up to Name

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 (UPI) — An extinct 5-foot-tall South American bird nicknamed “terror bird” deserved the name, scientists say, for the way it attacked and killed its prey.

From the size and shape of the beak, researchers have always known Andalgalornis was a predator, but now they know exactly how the bird killed — by wielding its huge skull and hooked beak like a pick axe to chop at its prey until it died, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The 90-pound Andalgalornis steulleti, with a skull almost twice as big as a human’s, went extinct millions of years ago, but researchers have been using CT scans and biomechanical reconstructions to deduce how the flightless predators killed.

Andalgalornis lived in northwestern Argentina about 6 million years ago, one of a species known as phorusrhacids, but popularly called “terror birds” because of their size and fearsome skull.

Modern birds have light skulls with considerable internal flexibility, Vertebrate paleontologist Lawrence Witmer of Ohio University says.

But the terror birds had heavier, much more rigid structures, “really changing the architecture of the skull,” he said. “It was more rigid than anything we had anticipated.”

Computerized simulations of the skull showed it wouldn’t withstand the stress of grasping prey and shaking it from side to side, like a dog does a rabbit, he said.

The bird probably jabbed straight down with the skull to use its beak like a pickax, repeatedly driving the bill tip into the prey.

“It was using its powerful neck like the handle of a pickax,” Witmer said. The bird could then use its beak to pull meat off the carcass.

Considering all the strengths and weaknesses of the skull, he concluded, “this is the only strategy this animal could adopt.”

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.

Posted in Architecture, Birds, Other0 Comments

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