Tuesday, May 31, 2011

10 Animals That Think at High Speeds

The animals on the planet that are considered to be the smartest and would naturally think the fastest are probably not as much of a surprise as some might think.  They often are the ones we know the best, although some could be unexpected. Which ones would you put on the list? Maybe you have some thoughts on the creatures before reading the list. Now you compare what you know with what the experts say.  See how well your opinions match up with those who supposedly have knowledge on the subject. Here are the ten animals they say fall into this category.
  1. Chimpanzees. Was this your first choice? Probably not that amazing they are listed as number one. This is based on studies done of their behavior and activities that demonstrate how they function.
  2. Dolphins. Number two would also be a normal expected choice. Everyone has seen them in movies and heard of their intelligence. Flipper deserves to be placed on the list and rightfully since they truly are smart enough to be number two.
  3. Elephants. There are many sayings associated with elephants, and they certainly have demonstrated abilities for thinking that gives them a spot on the list. We can remember it next time we see one at the zoo.
  4. Ants. We might have not thought about Ants and their brains very much. Still they have shown themselves to be organized and very committed to their purposes in a way that reveals their intelligence.
  5. Crows/Ravens. These are considered the most intelligent of all the bird species. They both function in ways that show how they can react quickly to many situations. It puts them at the top of the aviary list for their brains.
  6. Parrots. Just behind the crows and ravens are the parrots. They have the capacity to remember and repeat complicated phrases.  It conveys that quickness in their response to vocal stimulation.
  7. Cephalopods. They are more commonly known as Octopus.  We might not encounter them, like we would other animals, enough to appreciate why they would be on the list.  Still it is based on fact, and they are here because they deserve to be from how they think.
  8. Dogs. They are called “man’s best friend,” by accident. Their communication and social skills make them very adaptable and allows them to be expressive in their actions.
  9. Whales. As the largest of creatures they are also among the smartest. Their size doesn’t impede on them having their own special ways of communicating that we still don’t completely understand.
  10. Pigs. Some might be amazed to see the pig on this list. Yet they have revealed abilities to learn and even be housetrained that show how they are a quick learner.
How did you do? Did you pick all ten correctly? If you didn’t you probably are not the only one who learned something new. Whether you did or not at least you may be able to impress a friend or two with the answers.

Aspirin: A life saver.

Will taking an aspirin a day save YOUR life?

Last updated at 9:01 AM on 31st May 2011
    Aspirin is the most widely used drug in the world — 100 billion tablets are consumed annually. 
It was taken to the Antarctic by Captain Scott, to the top of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and to the Moon by the Apollo astronauts. 

Closer to home, you’ll also probably find it in every GP’s bag, since it is a known life-saver in the event of a heart attack.

Low-dose aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of a second heart attack and other conditions including Alzheimer's disease, depression and various cancers
Low-dose aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of a second heart attack and other conditions including Alzheimer's disease, depression and various cancers

For most of the 20th century, it was considered one of the most successful painkilling and anti-rheumatic drugs, yet many people seem reluctant to use it.

Sometimes this is due to reported side-effects such as gastric irritation and stomach ulcers.
For others, the fact that aspirin is so readily available without the need for a doctor’s prescription, and so cheap, has made them regard it as little more than a household remedy and assume it is of less benefit than a more expensive tablet. 

The fact is that this small, white, unassuming tablet could be a veritable life-saver. Low-dose aspirin has been shown not only to reduce the risk of a second heart attack, but also a variety of other conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, depression and various cancers.
It’s also thought to have a role in reducing the risk of complications in diabetes.

Aspirin appears to work by reducing inflammation in the body that damages cells and tissues. It does this by preventing the action of two enzymes in the body called COX-1 and COX-2, which normally spark inflammation. 

However, another role of COX-1 is to protect the stomach and intestines from stomach acid damage, hence the side-effects of aspirin which include gastric bleeding, stomach ulcers and heartburn.

So should you be taking a daily aspirin? 

To help you decide, I have looked at the research from more than 60 studies, covering hundreds of thousands of patients and a range of conditions. (Remember, you should never start taking a daily aspirin without first consulting your doctor.) Here is what I’ve found...


The idea that aspirin can play a part in preventing some cancers has emerged from several lines of research.

For instance, at the end of last year two major papers published in The Lancet (involving  more than 20,000 patients followed for 20 years) showed the overall cancer death rate was reduced by 34 per cent after five years of aspirin use.

Studies suggest the effect might be due to aspirin’s ability to reduce levels of inflammation and COX-2. Raised levels of COX-2 have been found in cancerous tissue, and animal studies have shown that treatment with COX-2 inhibitors reduced tumour formation and growth.
The risk reduction was greater in certain cancers, in particular gastrointestinal, for which death rates were reduced by 54 per cent.

The Lancet studies also found a 20 per cent drop in deaths from prostate cancer, 30 per cent for lung cancer, 40 per cent for colorectal cancer and 60 per cent for oesophageal cancer.
Another study, of 37,000 women and published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, suggested aspirin use could reduce the risk of breast cancer by 20 per cent.
A separate study of more than 4,000 women, published in 2010, suggested that in patients with breast cancer, aspirin reduces the risk of the cancer spreading by 43 to 60 per cent, and there was also a 64 to 71 per cent reduction in the risk of breast cancer-related death. 
The bottom line: Taking aspirin long term is linked to an overall reduction in the risk of several cancers, with the following points worth noting:

  • The effect takes five years to become apparent, though the longer the usage, the greater the reduction in risk: 20 to 25 years of usage gives the best protection. After that, there may be more risk of haemorrhages;

  • Low-dose aspirin — 75mg —  seems enough to produce the effect;
  • The peak time to start in order to reap the benefit seems to be when patients are in their late 40s and 50s;
  • When it comes to breast cancer, there is not yet enough research to suggest that well women should put themselves at risk of having an aspirin-related bleed in order to reduce their risk of breast cancer, nor is its use as a treatment for breast cancer patients recommended.


There is not yet enough evidence to say you should take aspirin to reduce the risk of depression, but the idea is certainly worthy of further research
There is not yet enough evidence to say you should take aspirin to reduce the risk of depression, but the idea is certainly worthy of further research

Some researchers believe depression and inflammation might be linked after small studies showed some people with depression have high levels of cytokines — naturally occurring inflammatory chemicals. 
As an anti-inflammatory drug, aspirin might, therefore, be able to prevent depression or reduce its intensity. 

One study followed 386 women for ten years — 22 developed depression after the age of 50. 
Only one of this depressed group had taken aspirin, said the researchers writing last year in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. But in the group who hadn’t developed depression, almost a third were taking it. The authors concluded that there is a highly significant reduction in risk of depression from taking aspirin.
The bottom line: There is not yet enough evidence to say you should take aspirin to reduce the risk of depression, but the idea is certainly worthy of further research. 
But never combine aspirin with antidepressants without first consulting your doctor, as they can interact and increase the risk of bleeds.


Aspirin is thought to help by reducing inflammation in the artery that supplies the heart, making the blood less likely to become sticky and form a deadly clot. 
In some studies, taking aspirin reduced the likelihood of a cardiovascular problem (heart disease, heart attack or stroke) in patients at high risk by as much as 44 per cent. 
In those who had already suffered a heart attack or an ischaemic stroke (caused by a blood clot in the brain), a daily low dose of aspirin cut the risk of having a further heart attack or stroke by as much as 33 per cent. 

The bottom line: Taking aspirin reduces the likelihood of a cardiovascular problem for patients at high risk — whether they’ve already had a heart attack or stroke or not.
For these patients, the risks of suffering from a side-effect of aspirin (such as a bleed) are less than the risks of non-treatment.

It is not clear if aspirin reduces heart attack risk in people who are only at low risk. Any benefit would have to be balanced against the risk of possible side-effects. 


Scientists have discovered that levels of the COX-2 enzyme are found to be raised in certain parts of the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest that Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, might be an inflammatory condition, so it makes sense that an anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin would be effective in treating it.

However, there is conflicting evidence about aspirin’s power against this disease.

Some, such as the 2002 Cache County Study of more than 3,000 people, is very positive and suggests that aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications could reduce the risk by 23 per cent. Others, such as The Women’s Health Study with 6,000 women monitored for ten years, suggest no effect.

The bottom line: Although we can’t draw a definitive conclusion from the research, there is certainly enough positive evidence for a discussion with a GP about whether aspirin would be a sensible drug for anyone who is concerned about their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

However, for any benefit it seems aspirin has to be taken long term, for at least five years, and before the onset of dementia.
Aspirin might also have a part to play in the prevention of vascular dementia (caused mainly by strokes) by reducing the risk of blood clots.


Aspirin can help skin complaints when its key ingredient — salicylic acid — is rubbed on to it in the form of a specially prepared cream or other product.
This compound softens the skin by breaking down the tough outer layer, allowing the dead skin to be shed. 
Salicylic acid also has a slight anti-inflammatory effect. Products for topical use that contain it include Lassar’s paste (a long-standing treatment for psoriasis) and salicylic acid and sulphur shampoo (used for dandruff and itchy scalp conditions).
The bottom line: It can help with a range of conditions, including psoriasis, corns, warts, verrucas, itchy scalp conditions and some types of eczema. But anyone with an allergy to aspirin or any other contraindications should not take it, even for external use.


Aspirin dissolved in water and applied to the skin has been said to help with the following problems.

DANDRUFF: A common cause of dandruff is a tiny yeast called Pityrosproum ovale which lives on the scalp. Aspirin is a mild anti-fungal and can reduce the numbers of this micro-organism. Dissolve one 75mg tablet in a little water and mix with your normal shampoo two or three times a week.

INSECT BITES/BLEMISHES: An aspirin paste (one 75mg tablet crushed with a teaspoon of water) may help soothe bites and shrink spots. Leave for two minutes then wash off with cool water. This can be repeated after four hours. However this treatment should not be used for those with acne; see your GP for more effective treatments.

HARD SKIN: Aspirin can soften skin, making calluses  easier to remove. Crush four 75mg tablets in a tablespoon of water to make a paste. Soak this onto a flannel and apply to the callus. Leave for about ten minutes, then remove, wash and dry. Gently pumice the area. Do this on a daily basis for a week.

note: Anyone with an allergy to aspirin or any other contraindications should not use aspirin, even for the above external uses.

Dr Souter worked as a GP in Wakefield for nearly 30 years. Adapted from An Aspirin A Day, by Dr Keith Souter, published by Michael O’Mara Books on Thursday, at £7.99. 

© 2011 Dr Keith Souter. To order a copy for £7.49 (incl p&p), call 0843 382 0000.

(source: dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1392566/Aspirin--taking-day-save-YOUR-life.html#ixzz1NzGdm0RR)


Unrest in the Arabworld---Yemen.

Violence erupts in Yemen cities after cease-fire fails

Heavy fighting erupts in Sana between Yemeni government forces and backers of a tribal rival to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and security forces fire on protesters in Taiz, adding to the death toll.

Tribesman injured in Yemen fighting
A wounded tribesman is brought to a hospital after clashes in Sana, the Yemeni capital, between security forces and armed tribesmen loyal to Sadiq Ahmar, a rival of beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh. (Yahya Arhab, EPA / May 31, 2011)
Yemen's capital and other cities again erupted into violent chaos Tuesday after a cease-fire collapsed between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and tribal fighters, who seized at least four government buildings.

The heavy fighting in Sana began late Monday evening as Saleh's Republican Guard troops and supporters of his rival tribal chief Sadiq Ahmar pounded each other in fresh clashes. Mortar-shell explosions and gunfire ripped the air early Tuesday.

South of Sana, security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the city of Taiz, bringing the death toll there since Sunday to 50, according to reports received by the United Nations. Yemen's opposition put the death toll at 100. In the southern coastal town of Zinjibar, government officials said five soldiers were killed in an ambush by Islamic militants.

The fighting in Sana centered around the northern district of Hasaba, where Ahmar lives. Black smoke filled the sky. Most of the neighborhood was deserted, but some Hasaba residents refused to leave their homes, fearing looters and armed men would take over their properties.

"This morning was the most intense fighting we've seen yet," said one local resident brandishing an AK-47, as he stayed to defend his property. "If I leave I will have no home to come back to. They will destroy everything."

The neighborhood had turned into a battle zone after Saleh refused to sign a regionally backed agreement to leave office after four months of pro-democracy protests. Shortly after plans for the signing collapsed, Saleh's troops traded fire with fighters loyal to Ahmar, the head of the powerful Hashid tribe, which counts Saleh as a member. The two sides battled all last week before agreeing to a cease-fire Saturday.

But Tuesday, Ahmar's tribesmen took control of the Interior Ministry, the Water Ministry, the ruling General People's Congress party building and Hasaba's police station.

Saleh's command over Sana is shrinking. The west of the capital lies under the control of the 1st Armored Division, whose commander, Gen. Ali Mohsen Ahmar, defected in mid-March after 52 antigovernment protesters were shot dead by snipers. Saleh maintains control of the southern neighborhood of Sabaeen, home to the presidential palace.

Yemen's state-run news agency denied accusations that the violence in Taiz was part of an organized crackdown against protesters, stating that "armed groups" from the opposition coalition had attacked a security station and kidnapped soldiers.

Craig is a special correspondent.

Pentagon Will Consider Cyberattacks Acts of War

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon, trying to create a formal strategy to deter cyberattacks on the United States, plans to issue a new strategy soon declaring that a computer attack from a foreign nation can be considered an act of war that may result in a military response.
Several administration officials, in comments over the past two years, have suggested publicly that any American president could consider a variety of responses — economic sanctions, retaliatory cyberattacks or a military strike — if critical American computer systems were ever attacked.
The new military strategy, which emerged from several years of debate modeled on the 1950s effort in Washington to come up with a plan for deterring nuclear attacks, makes explicit that a cyberattack could be considered equivalent to a more traditional act of war. The Pentagon is declaring that any computer attack that threatens widespread civilian casualties — for example, by cutting off power supplies or bringing down hospitals and emergency-responder networks — could be treated as an act of aggression.
In response to questions about the policy, first reported Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, administration and military officials acknowledged that the new strategy was so deliberately ambiguous that it was not clear how much deterrent effect it might have. One administration official described it as “an element of a strategy,” and added, “It will only work if we have many more credible elements.”
The policy also says nothing about how the United States might respond to a cyberattack from a terrorist group or other nonstate actor. Nor does it establish a threshold for what level of cyberattack merits a military response, according to a military official.
In May 2009, four months after President Obama took office, the head of the United States Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, told reporters that in the event of a cyberattack “the law of armed conflict will apply,” and warned that “I don’t think you take anything off the table” in considering a response. “Why would we constrain ourselves?” he asked, according to an article about his comments that appeared in Stars and Stripes.
During the cold war, deterrence worked because there was little doubt the Pentagon could quickly determine where an attack was coming from — and could counterattack a specific missile site or city. In the case of a cyberattack, the origin of the attack is almost always unclear, as it was in 2010 when a sophisticated attack was made on Google and its computer servers. Eventually Google concluded that the attack came from China. But American officials never publicly identified the country where it originated, much less whether it was state sanctioned or the action of a group of hackers.
“One of the questions we have to ask is, How do we know we’re at war?” one former Pentagon official said. “How do we know when it’s a hacker and when it’s the People’s Liberation Army?”
A participant in the debate over the administration’s broader cyberstrategy added, “Almost everything we learned about deterrence during the nuclear standoffs with the Soviets in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s doesn’t apply.”
White House officials, responding to the article that appeared in The Journal, argued that any consideration of using the military to respond to a cyberattack would constitute a “last resort,” after other efforts to deter an attack failed.
They pointed to a new international cyberstrategy, released by the White House two weeks ago, that called for international cooperation on halting potential attacks, improving computer security and, if necessary, neutralizing cyberattacks in the making. General Chilton and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James E. Cartwright, have long urged that the United States think broadly about other forms of deterrence, including threatening a country’s economic well-being, or its reputation.
The Pentagon strategy is coming out at a moment when billions of dollars are up for grabs among federal agencies working on cyber-related issues, including the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Each has been told by the White House to come up with approaches that fit the international cyberstrategy that the White House published in May.

Germany: E. coli Outbreak

FRANKFURT—Two more deaths were linked to Germany's outbreak of E. coli bacterial infections Tuesday, including the first outside the country, bringing the toll to 16 reported fatalities and around 400 severe cases.
Spanish cucumbers are being blamed for an E. coli outbreak that killed 10 people in Germany and sickened hundreds. Video courtesy of Reuters and photo courtesy of Getty Images.
The outbreak, centered in northern Germany, is costing farmers and retailers in Europe millions of euros as mountains of raw vegetables, suspected of being contaminated, sit uneaten— though it isn't clear what has caused the infections. The aggressive strain has now spread to six other European countries.
All the cases so far have been linked to northern Germany. A Swedish woman who died Tuesday who had recently traveled there. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, the disease is normally foodborne, but person-to-person transmission is possible. The strain, known as enterohemorrhagic E. coli, can cause bloody diarrhea and kidney failure.
Most of the deaths have been attributed to hemolytic-uremic syndrome, the result of a severe manifestation of the disease that shuts down the kidneys, though some of those who died didn't have the syndrome.
The strain has proved unusually resistant to treatment, and victims range from young to old, although most are women. According to the Robert Koch Institute, a research facility funded by the German health ministry, an additional 800 people have suffered from a milder version of the infection.
Around 1,000 people in Germany contract E. coli food poisoning in an average year, but most cases are minor.
Germany first reported a rise in E. coli cases on May 22. Similar cases have been reported in Sweden, the U.K., Denmark, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and several other countries. Those concerned had all traveled to northern Germany, the Robert Koch Institute said.
Tobias Schwarz/Reuters
Cucumbers at a market in Berlin's Kreuzberg district Friday.
Hamburg city health authorities reported last week that they had found traces of the E. coli bacteria on cucumbers imported from Spain. On Tuesday, however, Hamburg officials said the bacteria on the Spanish cucumbers didn't match the strain behind the human infections, increasing the mystery about what triggered the outbreak. German authorities also have identified shipments of cucumbers from Denmark and the Netherlands as potential sources.
The Spanish government said none of the country's products had been found to be contaminated. Nevertheless, many nations have put partial bans on Spanish vegetables, including tomatoes and cucumbers. This has been a huge hit to Spain, where agriculture makes up about 15% of gross domestic product. The crisis is affecting 70,000 jobs in Spain, Fernando Marcen, head of Spain's Agricultural Cooperatives, said Tuesday.
Spain's Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguilar on Tuesday said the country intends to ask for emergency funds from the European Union.
Farmers in El Ejido, southeastern Spain, dispose of cucumbers after failing to sell them. Imported Spanish cucumbers had been suspected in an E. coli outbreak in Germany, though Spain has denied contamination and German authorities on Tuesday said tests didn't show a connection.
Restaurants in Germany posted notices telling customers raw vegetables have been washed thoroughly. Several German grocery-store chains have stopped selling Spanish cucumbers.
"Consumer uncertainty is still quite strong," the German Farmers' Association said in a statement . "For vegetable growers, the collapse of the market is leading to a significant loss of income." Lidl, a grocery store with 3,200 locations in Germany, has stopped selling Spanish cucumbers, a spokesman confirmed. REWE, another German chain, offered refunds to customers who wanted to return Spanish cucumbers and also pulled the produce from its shelves.
Doctors at the University of Hannover's medical school say they may have discovered a treatment—an antibody from a U.S. firm that has proved effective in treating 17 cases in the past week.
While not intended for E. coli treatment, the antibody had been used a handful of times previously in E. coli cases, prompting the Hannover doctors to request the drug and use it in treating the German outbreak.
A university spokesman warned that more testing will be needed before the treatment is proven as a cure and that the measure is only used after all other treatment options have failed.
—David Roman and Ana Garcia contributed to this article.
Write to Laura Stevens at laura.stevens@wsj.com