Today's news

February 13, 2007

Peace prize winner considers Dhaka politics
Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel peace prize winner, has announced he will consider starting a new political party in response to public pressure for him to intervene in Bangladesh's violently divided political arena. Bangladesh has been ruled by a military-backed administration since January 11 when the president declared a state of emergency and cancelled parliamentary elections scheduled for later that month. All political activities are banned and basic rights suspended under the state of emergency. The army-backed interim administration has initiated an anti-corruption drive, which has seen a significant proportion of Bangladesh's political class arrested on corruption charges, including many members of the last parliament.
The Financial Times

Cloning breakthrough with adult stem cells
Adult stem cells may provide a promising new source of cloning material, new research suggests. Scientists who succeeded for the first time in cloning healthy mice from adult stem cells found the technique was more efficient than when using ordinary cells. They believe in future it could have important clinical implications and assist research into stem cell treatments. Unlike normal cells, stem cells are "undifferentiated". Their path in life has not been mapped out yet, and they can develop in a number of different ways. Scientists at Rockefeller University in New York hope to coax laboratory-grown stem cells to become replacement tissue for damaged organs.
The Daily Telegraph

New cancer drug to save a thousand lives a year
More than a thousand women a year will survive breast cancer thanks to a type of drug that improves survival rates by 17 per cent, new research shows today. A study of 4,742 post-menopausal women found that switching from the present gold-standard breast cancer treatment tamoxifen to the new drug exemestane after two or three years resulted in the dramatic fall in death rates. The study followed the progress of women who were treated for a total of five years and monitored for a further three. Women were assigned randomly to a full five years of tamoxifen, or treatment with tamoxifen followed by exemestane. Giving women tamoxifen after surgery already reduced the risk of dying by 33 per cent.
The Times, The Independent

Chimps were using tools in the Stone Age
Mankind's closest relatives are even closer to us than we previously imagined, it would appear from scientific evidence being published today. Once, thinkers as diverse as Freud, Engels and Thomas Carlyle pointed to the use of tools as a defining characteristic of humans. Then it was found that many animals also used them, from the "fishing sticks" of apes, to the rocks dropped on ostrich eggs by Egyptian vultures. And now it has been discovered by Dr Huw Barton, of the University of Leicester, and colleagues in Canada that chimpanzees were using basic "tools" as long ago as the Stone Age.
The Daily Telegraph, The Independent

Afternoon naps cut risk of dying from heart attack by up to 64%
Taking a siesta could significantly cut the chance of dying from a heart attack, a major study has found. Researchers who examined more than 23,000 men and women in Greece found that the those who took a midday nap of 30 minutes or more at least three times a week had 37 per cent less risk of heart-related death, over a period of about six years, than those who did not nap. And among working men the health benefits appeared even more profound, with the chance of death from coronary heart disease some 64 per cent lower. The researchers suggested taking a siesta might have a "stress-releasing" effect which was particularly profound for those in hectic jobs.
The Scotsman, The Times, The Independent

One "bad apple" spoils the whole office
One "bad apple" can spread negative behaviour like a virus to bring down officemates or destroy a good team, according to a new study examining conflict in the workplace. Negative behaviour outweighs positive behaviour, so a bad apple can spoil the whole barrel, but one or two good workers can't "unspoil" it, researchers at the University of Washington said in the current issue of the journal Research in Organizational Behaviour . "Companies need to move quickly to deal with such problems because the negativity of just one individual is pervasive and destructive and can spread quickly," said co-author Terence Mitchell, a professor of management and organisation.
The Scotsman

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