State busybodies want to pry into your bedroom secrets

Government inspectors are to ask us intimate questions about our sex lives, it was revealed.

More than half a million people every year will be asked about their past and present sexual partners, contraception and how long couples have lived together before marriage.

The 2,000 questions are part of the Integrated Household Survey, and the responses will be logged with respondents’ names and addresses.

Civil servants insist that the sensitive personal information will be made anonymous once the files arrive at the Office of National Statistics, where they will then be held on a secure server.

But campaigners last night branded the survey “intrusive” and another example of Labour’s “surveillance state”.

The survey will cost £3.5 million to carry out each year and will see inspectors randomly visit up to 200,000 homes to question each occupant.

They will ask 35 questions on contraception alone, covering vasectomies, the pill and if respondents have ever used the “morning after” pill.

Other intimate questions include the exact dates when previous relationships ended, precise monthly earnings and details of any second jobs or bonuses.

Investigators will also ask about the health of any children in the household.

One insensitive question asks: “Have you ever had a baby – even one who lived for a short time?”

Interviewers are then told: “Exclude: Any stillborn; include: Any who lived for a short time.”

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Energy producers in driving seat at Rome talks

ROME: Consumer countries and international oil firms keen to gain greater access to the world’s energy resources are likely to walk away empty-handed from talks with producer nations in Rome.

Record high oil, which struck $117 a barrel on Friday, has helped to drive up the profits of oil majors, but it has also increased the spending power of national oil companies and made them ever more reluctant to grant access to their resources.

“The relative positions of international energy companies and national energy companies are changing — and not in our favour,” Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of Italian oil and gas company Eni said in a speech at the opening of the International Energy Forum (IEF).

OPEC member Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez, has spearheaded a global trend towards resource-holders seeking to maximise their returns from their energy wealth.

International firms have found themselves faced with tougher terms and shut out of the best energy territory.

During the 1970s, the international oil companies controlled nearly three-quarters of global oil reserves and 80 percent of production, Scaroni said.

Now, they control 6 percent of oil and 20 percent of gas reserves, and 24 percent of oil and 35 percent of gas production, he said. National oil companies hold the rest.

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Rearming America

The military’s plan to regrow body parts.

The regeneration of lost body parts has just moved from science fiction to U.S. military policy.

Yesterday the Department of Defense announced the creation of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which will go by the happy acronym AFIRM. According to DOD’s news service, AFIRM will “harness stem cell research and technology … to reconstruct new skin, muscles and tendons, and even ears, noses and fingers.” The government is budgeting $250 million in public and private money for the project’s first five years. NIH and three universities will be on the team.

The people who brought you the Internet are about to bring you replacement fingers.

If you’ve been following Human Nature for the past three years, you know that tissue regeneration is well underway. The military has been working on regrowing lost body parts using extracellular matrices. Scientists in labs have grown blood vessels, livers, bladders, breast implants, and meat. This year they announced the production of beating, disembodied rat hearts. At yesterday’s press conference, Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker explained that our bodies systematically generate liver cells and bone marrow and that this ability can be redirected through “the right kind of stimulation.”

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British dealers supply arms to Iran

Customs probe reveals sanctions-busting sales of arms, missile technology and nuclear components


Soldiers of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards march during an annual military parade to mark Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty

Investigators have identified a number of British arms dealers trading with Tehran, triggering alarm among government officials who fear Iran’s nuclear programme may be receiving significant support from UK sources.

The probe by customs officers suggests that at least seven Britons have been defying sanctions by supplying the Iranian air force, its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, and even the country’s controversial nuclear ambitions.

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Earth’s Hum Sounds More Mysterious Than Ever

Earth gives off a relentless hum of countless notes completely imperceptible to the human ear, like a giant, exceptionally quiet symphony, but the origin of this sound remains a mystery.

Now unexpected powerful tunes have been discovered in this hum. These new findings could shed light on the source of this enigma.

The planet emanates a constant rumble far below the limits of human hearing, even when the ground isn’t shaking from an earthquake. (It does not cause the ringing in the ear linked with tinnitus.) This sound, first discovered a decade ago, is one that only scientific instruments – seismometers – can detect. Researchers call it Earth’s hum.

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Holographic storage ships next month!


Even since astronaut Dave Bowman disconnected the HAL 9000’s holographic memory in 2001: A Space Odyssey techies have been wondering when we could buy real holographic storage. Now we know: May, 2008.

Promising super-high density and excellent media flaw resistance, holographic storage has been an ever-receeding technology for years. You can buy nifty 3D skull and crossbones holograms – technically a form of storage – but no one had figured out how to turn a lab project into a product. Until now.

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Pope blesses U.N. flag, calls for binding international rules

Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, warning nations against undermining the authority of the United Nations by acting unilaterally. The Pope also found time to bless the U.N. flag.

Reuters reports,

“Countries that act unilaterally on the world stage undermine the authority of the United Nations and weaken the broad consensus needed to confront global problems, Pope Benedict said on Friday.

The international community must be “capable of responding to the demands of the human family through binding international rules,” said the 81-year-old pope, who spoke after meeting privately with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He said the notion of multilateral consensus was “in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world’s problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the international community.”

The Pope’s comments are of little surprise, given the fact that he has previously called for a “new world order” to combat terrorism, environmental problems, as well as economic imbalances during his Christmas 2005 speech. Pope John Paul II also called for a new world order in a 2004 new years speech.

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Biologists join the race to create synthetic life

Researchers will gather in London this week to outline plans to promote one of the most audacious, and controversial, scientific ideas of the 21st century – synthetic biology.

The new discipline, established by scientists such as human genome pioneer Craig Venter, involves stripping microbes down to their basic genetic constituents so they can be reassembled and manipulated to create new life forms. These organisms can then be exploited to manufacture drugs and fuels or to act as bio-sensors inside the body.

However, some researchers warn that synthetic biology – which is accelerating at a dramatic pace – also poses dangers. In particular, they fear it may already be possible to create deadly pathogens, such as polio or smallpox viruses, from pieces of synthetic DNA ordered over the internet. In future, completely new – and highly dangerous – microbes could be made this way.

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Solar Cycle Heats Up and Threatens Satellites

Solarflare

Solar radiation reaches an 11-year high again in 2011, making things interesting for those reliant on satellites — the U.S. military included.

As Inside the Air Force notes this week, the solar cycle — “the frequency in which sun spots and solar flares occur” — waxes and wanes every 11 years. The last one reached its apex in April 2000, so it’s gonna get warm again soon. And while solar flares can and do damage satellites even in non-peak times, 2011 still looms big.

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Secret FEMA Plan To Use Pastors as Pacifiers in Preparation For Martial Law


Nationwide initiative trains volunteers to teach congregations to “obey the government” during seizure of guns, property, forced inoculations and forced relocation

A Pastor has come forward to blow the whistle on a nationwide FEMA program which is training Pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for a declaration of martial law, property and firearm seizures, and forced relocation.

In March of this year the Pastor, who we shall refer to as Pastor Revere, was invited to attend a meeting of his local FEMA chapter which circulated around preparedness for a potential bio-terrorist attack, any natural disaster or a nationally declared emergency.

The FEMA directors told the Pastors that attended that it was their job to help implement FEMA and Homeland Security directives in anticipation of any of these eventualities. The first directive was for Pastors to preach to their congregations Romans 13, the often taken out of context bible passage that was used by Hitler to hoodwink Christians into supporting him, in order to teach them to “obey the government” when martial law is declared.

It was related to the Pastors that quarantines, martial law and forced relocation were a problem for state authorities when enforcing federal mandates due to the “cowboy mentality” of citizens standing up for their property and second amendment rights as well as farmers defending their crops and livestock from seizure. It was stressed that the Pastors needed to preach subservience to the authorities ahead of time in preparation for the round-ups and to make it clear to the congregation that “this is for their own good.”

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