Court Case Provides Rendition Details

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Details of the CIA’s rendition program became public because of a money dispute between two U.S. contractors involved in a flight to transport a terror suspect.

A British organization, Reprieve, discovered 1,500 pages of legal documents filed in Columbia County in upstate New York, The Washington Post reported. Reprieve alerted the Post and other news organizations to the information.

The legal dispute involved SportsFlight, a broker who contracted with the CIA to supply planes for the rendition program, in which terrorism suspects are sent to another country for interrogation, and Richmor Aviation, a company that arranges charters for planes owned by others, the Post said. In 2009, a judge ordered SportsFlight to pay Richmor more than $1 million.

The court documents detail a flight in a Gulfstream IV owned by Philip Morse, vice chairman of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox. The plane left Columbia County on Aug. 12, 2003, and returned four days later after a flight with stops that included Thailand, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Ireland and cost the CIA $339,228.05. During the flight, Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian terror suspect arrested in Thailand, was taken into U.S. custody, leading to three years in secret CIA prisons.

The documents also include phone logs of calls from the plane to CIA headquarters and a top CIA official, the Post said.

Woman Sues Over Jail Delivery 14 Years Ago

SEATTLE, Aug. 31 (UPI) — A Seattle woman suing King County is to soon get her day in court to air allegations she had a baby in 1997 while locked in a county jail cell by herself.

Her lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 12 in U.S. District Court, the online newspaper Seattlepi.com reported Tuesday.

Imka Pope, who has been diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder, waited more than 10 years to sue. A judge found this year that the statute of limitations did not apply in this case.

Pope, then 27, was pregnant and homeless when arrested for trespassing after she fell asleep on a bench. Her lawyers say she was both visibly pregnant and visibly mentally ill.

“Once booked, the jail engaged in a pattern of deliberate indifference towards Ms. Pope,” a brief filed last week said.

Pope said guards ignored her pleas for help when she went into labor on her sixth day in jail. A guard finally got involved when he heard her baby crying.

Lawyers for King County say Pope hid her pregnancy and was verbally abusive to jail staff.

An article published at the time she sued four years ago said Pope’s son was living in Washington.

Black Death Confirmed As Bubonic Plague

HAMILTON, Ontario, Aug. 30 (UPI) — The Black Death that decimated the population of Europe in the 14th century was definitely caused by bubonic plague, a DNA analysis of medieval bones has shown.

While some researchers have suggested the epidemic was in fact caused by a virus such as Ebola, the analysis of DNA from a London plague burial has confirmed the “plague” bacterium Yersinia pestis was responsible, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, looked for Yersinia DNA in the bones of Black Death victims, a task complicated by possibility of contamination, they said.

“When we extract DNA from the skeletons, we also get DNA from their environment,” researcher Hendirk Poinar said.

But careful sampling of bones and teeth using a molecular “probe” found DNA belonging to a strain of Y. pestis unlike any known today, and not found in skeletons buried elsewhere in London before the Black Death.

The findings are the first confirmation that these Black Death victims were infected with Y. pestis, Poinar said

Further study could uncover the full genetic sequence of the bacterial strain behind the Black Death, which could help explain both why it was so virulent and how it evolved, researchers said.

It might also predict if similarly devastating strains might appear in the future, they said.

Twin Spacecraft Prepared For Moon Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug. 30 (UPI) — NASA says final preparations are under way for a launch of twin satellites intended to study the moon in greater detail than ever before.

The space agency’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission is set for a scheduled Sept. 8 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a NASA release said. During a planned nine-month mission, the twin GRAIL spacecraft will explore Earth’s nearest neighbor in unprecedented detail, surveying its structure from crust to core.

The two satellites have sealed atop the launch rocket, ready for liftoff.

“Our two spacecraft are now sitting comfortably inside the payload fairing which will protect them during ascent,” said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.. “Next time the GRAIL twins will see the light of day, they will be about 95 miles up and accelerating.”

Once in lunar orbit, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them while regional gravitational differences on the moon expand and contract that distance.

GRAIL scientists will use the accurate measurements to define the moon’s gravity field to understand what goes on below the surface of our orbiting companion.

Britain Had Cool Summer

LONDON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — The summer of 2011 was the coolest in Britain in almost two decades, preliminary figures reported Tuesday by the Meteorological Office showed.

The summer was also wetter than usual, The Independent reported. Meteorologists said rainfall from Aug. 1 to Aug. 29 was at 126 percent of normal, while sunshine was 76 percent of normal.

The average temperature for the month was 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal, meteorologists said. This makes 2011 the chilliest summer since 1993.

The Met plans to release its full report on the meteorological summer of June, July and August Thursday.

Brian Gaze of TheWeatherOutlook said Britain’s last run of high temperatures occurred in 2006.

“During the 1990s and 2000s, summer heat waves were more frequent than usual, and perhaps some people began to think this was the norm,” he said. “During the last few years the run of poor summers has coincided with colder weather during the winter months.”

The summer now coming to an end was wetter than last year although drier than those from 2007 to 2009.

Gold Mine Backers Hail Romania President

ROSIA MONTANA, Romania, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Supporters of an effort to build a one of the world’s biggest gold mines in Romania say they’re encouraged by the public backing of President Traian Basescu.

A pro-mining industry and trade group said Monday it is thrilled with comments made last week by Basescu, who seemed to indicate the chronic waffling of the Romanian government on the controversial Rosia Montana Project is turning into qualified support more than a decade after the $1 billion project was announced.

“We hail the statements for support of the mining project in Rosia Montana made by the president of Romania,” a statement from the Group for the Support of the Rosia Montana Project said.

The Romanian group, composed of local public authorities, universities, non-governmental organizations, mining industry associations and trade unions, the project is needed in country’s Apuseni Mountains region, the English-language Romanian news Web site ACTMedia reported.

“The reality of Rosia Montana is that it is an underdeveloped area, with mining its only industry,” the group said. “(There is a large) unemployed population and 80 percent of its people live at subsistence levels, with youth lacking any perspective.”

The project, spearheaded by the Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources Ltd., has encountered stiff resistance from environmentalists and others, mainly because of its massive scale and the use of cyanide.

Rosia Montana, considered a world-class reserve, is estimated to hold gold resources of 10 million ounces and Gabriel has said it plans to produce an average 500,000 ounces a year at a cash cost of $400 an ounce, The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto reported.

With price of gold at an all-time high of $1,800 per ounce, the Romanian government is seeing its potential in a different light but is also responding to calls that it get a better deal from the investors.

A mine’s controlling company, Rosia Montana Gold Corp., is 19.3 percent-owned by Bucharest through its Minvest Deva while Gabriel Resources holds 80.5 percent and other minority with shareholders control 0.23 percent of the company.

Basescu told an audience at the Danube Delta town of Sulina last week he backed the Rosia Montana gold and silver mining project, given that the world gold prices had risen so high, but that the state’s profit-sharing arrangements with Gabriel need to be changed, ACTMedia said.

“I think the Rosia Montana project must be made,” he said. “Romania needs it, on condition that the terms relating the sharing of the benefits from the operation of the gold and silver reserves of Rosia Montana be renegotiated.”

Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc also has stated his preference to have the terms of the deal revisited, saying last week he’s awaiting the results of an environmental impact assessment as well as legal opinions on its EU aspects.

“I am no fan of this project for various reasons,” he told Radio Romania Actualitati Friday. “In my opinion, the benefits to the Romanian government are not yet sufficient within the project framework the government has negotiated with the entrepreneurs, and surely it should be revisited.”

Meanwhile, Gabriel Chief Executive Jonathan Henry said he’s encouraged Bucharest seems to be moving ahead with the project.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he told The Globe and Mail. “If the Romanian government did not want this project, we’d know by now.”

Keystone Rally Leaves Hundreds Arrested

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Phil Radford, executive directer of Greenpeace USA, was among hundreds of people arrested Tuesday in front of the White House protesting a heavy crude pipeline.

Radford, Hollywood actress Darryl Hannah, and hundreds of others were arrested while protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, planned by TransCanada.

Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, said last week Keystone XL could be developed without causing major damage to the environment. The pipeline would bring oil from tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas.

Despite several leaks on the existing Keystone network, TransCanada said Keystone XL would be among the safest pipelines in the world.

“Tar sands will mean the destruction of ancient Boreal Forests; poisoning of our environment; and human health hazards at all stages of extraction,” Greenpeace countered in a statement.

Pipeline company Enbridge is still working to clean up a spill of Alberta crude left over from a ruptured pipeline in southern Michigan more than a year after the initial accident.

Supporters of the project say it would go a long way toward reducing U.S. dependency on foreign oil. A recent campaign by EthicalOil.org adds human rights to the argument, saying opposition to Keystone XL is tantamount to supporting the repression of women in Saudi Arabia.

 

CO2 Oilfield Experiment Has Good Results

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — A study found that injecting a greenhouse gas into older oilfields could squeeze out millions more barrels of crude, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

The DOE said the results reported by the University of Kansas established the feasibility of using carbon dioxide to extend the productivity of U.S. oilfields while at the same time permanently keeping the gas out of the atmosphere.

The study focused on the Arbuckle Formation in Kansas, home to various mature oilfields where production peaked in the 1950s. The area is occupied primarily by small producers and typical of several other fields in the state.

Researchers used core samples from the Arbuckle to simulate a process in which carbon dioxide is pumped deep underground and where it mixes with crude oil. The result of the process, known as near-miscible CO2 flooding, is a swelling of the oil that pushes it toward the production well.

The DOE said in a written statement the results mean as much as 500 million barrels of crude could someday be recovered from Kansas fields.

The next phase of the project will be to better map the Arbuckle Formation.

Vitamin C May Help Children With Asthma

TANTA, Egypt, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Depending on a child’s age, exposure to molds or dampness and asthma severity, vitamin C shows varying degrees benefits, researchers in Egypt say.

Drs. Mohammed Al-Biltagi of the Tanta University in Egypt and Harri Hemila of the University of Helsinki in Finland analyzed the effect of 0.2 grams per day of vitamin C on 60 asthmatic children ages 7-10.

The effect of vitamin C on the forced expiratory volume per 1 second was modified by age and exposure to molds or dampness.

In the younger children, ages 7-8.2, with no exposure to molds or dampness, vitamin C administration increased the forced expiratory volume per 1 second level by 37 percent. In the older children, ages 8.3-10, with exposure to molds or dampness in their bedroom more than one year before the study, vitamin C increased the forced expiratory volume per 1 second level by 21 percent.

The effect of vitamin C on the asthma symptoms was modified by age and the severity of asthma symptoms. In the younger children, ages 7-8.2, with mild asthma symptoms, the benefit of vitamin C was greatest, but in the older children, ages 8.3-10, who had severe asthma symptoms, the benefit of vitamin C was smallest.

The researchers say they consider it is important to carry out further research to confirm their findings and to identify more accurately the groups of children who would receive the greatest benefit from vitamin C supplementation.

The findings are published in the Clinical and Translational Allergy.

College Students Tend To Sleep Badly

TUCSON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — A media campaign at the University of Arizona-Tucson helped increase awareness of sleep as a health issue, resulting in better student sleep, researchers say.

Freshmen sleep often suffers as new college students engage in social opportunities, card games, trips for late-night snacks, studying, parties, rehearsals, sports and watching TV.

Kathryn Orzech, a postdoctoral fellow in sleep research at Brown University, and student health officials at the University of Arizona, say the study indicates college students think their sleep is better than it is — they tend to get less than 7 hours of sleep a night.

“Students report a lot of issues with sleep quality and disturbed sleep,” Orzech says in a statement.

Orzech combined online surveys and more detailed in-person interviews to determine the state of student sleep at the large public university in Tucson.

Roommates, dormitory noise, fraternity activities and academic stress make college a novel sleeping environment, Ozech says.

The study, published in the Journal of American College Health, finds a campus-wide media intervention that

cost less than $2,500 was able to help nearly 10 percent of the university students find ways to sleep better.

The study found students often scored poorly on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a standardized measure. Average scores were consistently higher than 5, the level that indicates poor sleep — in 2005, male students scored 6.38 on average, while women scored 6.69.