Friday, July 27, 2007


• Terrorist accused is released
• Stock Market down $41 billion, Australian.
• Former heavyweight champ set to have doctors pull plug
• Space Shuttle Computer Sabotaged
• London study: Cannabis increases psychosis risk


Anonymous said...

Cannabis increases psychosis risk - study
By Michael Kahn in London
USING marijuana increases the risk of one day developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, according to a study that provides some of the strongest evidence yet linking the drug to a mental disorder.

Marijuana is one the most commonly used illegal substances in many countries with up to 20 percent of young people in places like Britain reporting either some use or heavy use, British researchers said, citing government statistics.

Many consider it on par with alcohol or tobacco but the results shows marijuana poses a danger many smokers underestimate, said Stanley Zammit, a psychiatrist at Cardiff University and the University of Bristol, who worked on the study.

The researchers found that marijuana users had a 41 percent increased chance of developing psychosis marked by symptoms of hallucinations or delusions later in life than those who never used the drug. The risk rose with heavier consumption.

"If you compare other substances like alcohol or tobacco it may not be as harmful, but what we are saying is neither is it completely safe," Dr Zammit said in an interview.

Other findings have highlighted the link between marijuana use and the risk of schizophrenia-like symptoms such as paranoia, hearing voices and seeing things that are not there.

But this study marks one of the most comprehensive, thorough and reliable reviews of its kind and should serve as a warning, two Danish researchers wrote in an accompanying comment in the Lancet medical journal, which published the study today.

They said the results mean an estimated 800 cases of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom could be prevented each year by ending marijuana consumption.

"We therefore agree with the authors' conclusion that there is now sufficient evidence to warn young people that cannabis use will increase their risk of psychosis later in life," they wrote.

The team did not look directly at people who used marijuana but instead conducted what is called a meta-analysis by reviewing 35 studies in search of a potential connection between psychotic illness and using marijuana.

They reviewed evidence from studies ranging from one year to 27 years and looked only at research that did not include people already showing signs of psychotic illness.

The researchers also adjusted for factors - like depression or a susceptibility to harder drugs - that could one day lead to a mental disorder to focus more directly on the links between marijuana and psychosis, Dr Zammit said.

"We have described a consistent association between cannabis use and psychotic symptoms, including disabling psychotic disorders," the team wrote.

But both Dr Zammit and the Danish researchers said ultimate proof to show a direct relationship would be have to come through a randomised trial of healthy young people and long-term follow-up.

Such a study, however, was unlikely given marijuana is illegal in most countries and the ethical questions given the drug's known harmful effects, they said.

Anonymous said...

Space shuttle computer sabotaged
From correspondents in Washington
A COMPUTER that was to have been installed on the US space shuttle Endeavour for an August mission was found sabotaged, the latest in a string of shocks concerning NASA.

"One of our subcontractors noticed that a network box for the shuttle had appeared to be tampered with,'' NASA spokeswoman Katherine Trinidad said.

"It is intentional damage to hardware.''

Endeavour is due to be launched on August 7 with seven crew members on board from the NASA base at Cape Canaveral in Florida, for a mission to continue construction of the International Space Station.

The workers who discovered the damage to the computer equipment intended for Endeavour notified NASA "several days ago", Ms Trinidad said.

Safety is a major concern in US shuttle missions after damage sustained by the Columbia craft on launching caused it to break up on re-entry in February 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board.

"The tampering occurred at a subcontractor's facility and not while the unit was at the Kennedy Space Centre,'' NASA's Cape Canaveral base, Ms Trinidad said of the damage to the Endeavour equipment.

"What we are trying to do now is repair that unit and try and fly it when possible.''

The shuttle Atlantis successfully completed a mission to the station in June, a welcome bit of good news for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after several embarrassing incidents in recent months.

The successful Atlantis mission was initially delayed by three months because the shuttle's external fuel tank was damaged during a freak hail storm as it stood on its launch pad.

The delay forced NASA to cut the number of planned shuttle flights this year from five to four.

On the August mission, astronauts are to deliver a giant truss to be attached to the ISS, along with an external stowage platform and a Spacehab module - a pressurised cargo carrier.

In February astronaut Lisa Nowak, a former crew member on the shuttle Discovery, was arrested, accused of a bizarre attempt to kidnap a love rival. NASA fired her in March.

Then in April, a NASA contractor Bill Phillips managed to sneak a revolver past security at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, and barricaded himself inside a building at the sprawling campus, police said.

He duct-taped a female co-worker to a chair and shot a male colleague dead before turning the gun on himself.

The agency also faced political bother in May when NASA chief Michael Griffin drew fire for comments on the hot topic of harmful climate change. He publicly questioned the need to tackle global warming.

Anonymous said...

Doctors to pull plug on boxer
From correspondents in London
DOCTORS are set to turn off the life support system of James Oyebola, a British former heavyweight boxing champion who was shot in the head at a London nightclub this week.

Oyebola, 46, will be declared legally dead at about 11.30am (8.30pm) Friday, his lawyer said, after his family had been given the opportunity to pay their last respects.

"James is now brain dead,'' Scott Ewing said.

"There will be a meeting ... (Friday) where two consultants will do legally required tests.''

Being kept 'artificially alive'

"He is being artificially kept alive for members of the family to pay their last respects. But there's no chance, none whatsoever.''

Oyebola has been at London's Charing Cross hospital since the close-range attack early on Monday.

The 2m tall former boxer was hit in the leg and head at the rear of the Chateau 6 nightclub, near English Premiership football club Chelsea's west London ground.

He had been there for a drink with the owner and was seriously injured after helping staff who had asked three men to stub out their cigarettes.

Smoking inside pubs, clubs and bars has been banned in England since July 1.

Black-on-black attack suspected

The men who attacked Oyebola, said to be black and aged between 19 and 25, then fled on foot.

The investigation is being handled by Scotland Yard's Operation Trident squad, which deals with so-called "black on black'' shootings.

Born in Lagos, Oyebola - known as "Big Bad'' during his career - won 18 of his 23 fights as a professional and was a bronze medallist at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.

Speaking to The Sun tabloid, Oyebola's ex-manager Frank Maloney had said: "James is a gentle giant. He hasn't got a violent bone in his body. This is truly shocking.''

He retired in 1996 after winning the WBC international heavyweight title in 1993.

Anonymous said...

Haneef out of jail, heads home
By staff writers and wires
GOLD Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef has left a Brisbane jail and was heading towards home after a terror charge against him was dropped.

Dr Haneef was accompanied by immigration officials when he left the Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane's southwest in a blue van in the middle of a three-vehicle convoy.

The former terror suspect will still have to report to authorities while Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews waits for more information following the collapse today of a terror case against the Indian national.

Mr Andrews is consulting the Commonwealth solicitor-general on the implications of the dropping of charges against Dr Haneef.

"That means that rather than being detained in immigration custody, namely in Villawood or some facility such as that, he will be released into residential detention which means that he can reside at his unit on the Gold Coast," Mr Andrews said.

"Or if he wishes to reside somewhere other than that unit on the Gold Coast, then any reasonable request in that regard will be taken into account and met."

Dr Haneef must also stick to other conditions such as reporting to authorities every day.

"The reporting obligations I envisage will be that he reports to the department of immigration by telephone once a day and that every few days or once a week he reports in person," Mr Andrews said.

"They won't be overly onerous but they will be conditions that do take into account that there should be a reporting mechanism in place."

Dr Haneef's visa was revoked when he was bailed on the terror charge but the charge was withdrawn today as the Commonwealth DPP said there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on the evidence.

Mr Andrews said he would seek further advice from the commonwealth solicitor-general about whether he would need to reverse his decision to cancel Dr Haneef's visa.

"I am taking the precaution of seeking the advice from the highest law officer in the commonwealth, namely the solicitor-general, as to whether or not there are any implications for my (visa) decision," Mr Andrews said.

"I have to act according to my responsibilities under the migration legislation.

"My decision, at the moment, stands."

The Gold Coast Hospital, where Dr Haneef was working before his arrest, said he remained suspended without pay because he did not have a work visa.

Prime Minister John Howard has distanced his Government from the collapse today of the terrorism case against Dr Haneef.

Mr Howard said it was up to Mr Keelty and the DPP to explain what happened.

"Bearing in mind that the detention of the man was undertaken by the police, and not at the request or direction or encouragement of the Government, and the case was prepared and presented by the DPP, I think that the right thing now is for those two men to explain the process, and explain the reasons," Mr Howard said from Bali where he is on a visit.

"Prime ministers don't conduct prosecutions, nor do attorneys-general - directors of public prosecutions do."

Mr Howard said it was too early to make any judgment on any implications for Australia's anti-terrorism laws.

However, he said they would likely be strengthened rather than weakened if any changes were made.

"It may well be that this case has no implication either way for the terror laws ... " he said.

"But I'm resolute in the view that if the terror laws of Australia need to be strengthened to better protect the Australian community, they will be.

"I don't believe any case exists for weakening those terror laws.

Anonymous said...

Stock market in one of biggest falls
By Ben Sharpley
THE stock market tumbled in one of its biggest falls since soon after the terrorist attacks on the US in 2001.

Today's steep drop followed sharp falls on Wall Street and weak metal prices overnight.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 175.6 points lower at 6082.9, while the all ordinaries shed 174.1 points to 6127.3.

At the close of day trading on the Sydney Futures Exchange, the September share price index contract was 176 points lower at 6065, on a volume of 40,975 contracts.

CMC Markets senior dealer Josh Whiting said the Australian stock market bore the brunt of a strong sell off after falls in the US overnight.

"Thursday night's steep fall in the US and European markets, coupled with weakness in metals prices, shocked the local market into free-fall at today's open," Mr Whiting said.

"Although there was a modest recovery towards the close, many investors were likely to be nursing sore heads and re-evaluating where support might be going into another nervous offshore trading session."

The big miners were weaker, with BHP Billiton dropping $1.33 to $35.97 and rival Rio Tinto losing $3.28 to $90.60.

Zinc and lead miner Zinifex lost 59 cents to $19.10 after the company delivered production broadly in line with expectations for its fourth quarter, while annual production dropped by five per cent.

The spot gold price was lower and it closed in Sydney trading at $US664 an ounce, down $US12.20 an ounce on yesterday's local close.

The gold miners were weaker, with Newcrest falling 85 cents to $24.75, Lihir losing 11 cents to $3.02 and Newmont dropping 12 cents to $4.81.

The energy sector was in negative territory, with Woodside dropping $1.43 to $43.01, Santos losing 39 cents to $13.45 and Oil Search retreating 12 cents to $3.88.

Woodside today gave the green light to the development of its $11.2 billion Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Western Australia.

The media sector was weaker, with News Corp dropping 25 cents to $26.40, its non-voting shares losing 26 cents to $24.61, PBL falling 48 cents to $18.26 and Fairfax dipping six cents to $4.91.

The Seven Network shed 49 cents to $10.91 after the Federal Court rejected claims that its pay television arm C7 was driven out of business when it was deprived of pay TV rights to the AFL and NRL in 2000.

Lion Nathan dropped 36 cents to $8.45 despite the Trans-Tasman brewer tipping an operating profit of $250 million to $260 million for fiscal 2007 as the beer market continues to grow.

AWB shed 13 cents to $3.40 after the wheat exporter said new export marketing arrangements meant it would be too costly and complex to demerge its international arm, AWB International.

The big banks were weaker, with ANZ retreating 61 cents to $28.17, the Commonwealth Bank losing $1.21 to $54.57, National Australia Bank shedding $1.28 to $38.20 and Westpac giving up 39 cents to $25.71.

The retailers were weaker, with Woolworths losing 66 cents to $26.24, Coles dropping 53 cents to $14.29, David Jones giving up four cents to $5.63 and Harvey Norman tumbling eight cents to $5.16.

IM Medical was the most traded stock on the market, with 162 million shares changing hands collectively worth $6.2 million.

IM Medical added 0.6 cents to close at 3.9 cents.

Market turnover was 2.81 billion shares worth $12.2 billion, with 239 stocks, 1,183 down and 233 unchanged.