Wikinews Shorts: November 13, 2008

A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, November 13, 2008.

Contents

  • 1 Study shows that carrying excess fat around waist increases risk of early death
  • 2 EU abolishes rules banning oddly-shaped fruit
  • 3 Vase bought for £1 sells for £32,450
  • 4 Blackwater may pay financial penalties for improper arms shipments
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A new study has found that people storing extra fat around their waist have a strongly increased chance of early death, even if their overall weight is average. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine today, found that for each addition 5 cm on the waist, the chance of early death is increased by between 13% and 17%.

In the study, 360,000 people from across nine countries in Europe were surveyed.

One of the study’s authors, Professor Elio Riboli of Imperial College London, commented on the findings. “We were surprised to see the waist size having such a powerful effect on people’s health and premature death,” he stated.

Sources

  • “‘Love handles’ raise death risk” — BBC News Online, November 13, 2008
  • Ian Sample. “Waist, not just weight, shows risk of premature death, study says” — The Guardian, November 13, 2008
  • Tobias Pischon et al. “Abstract: General and Abdominal Adiposity and Risk of Death in Europe” — New England Journal of Medicine, November 13, 2008

The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has today lifted its ban on unusually shaped fruits and vegetables, in what the EU’s agriculture commissioner has called “a new dawn for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot”.

The regulation has previously been criticized as an example of the EU’s bureaucracy by critics of the organisation.

The products affected by the deregulation are apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons and witloof/chicory.

Sources

  • “EU slices up ‘ugly fruit’ rules” — BBC News Online, November 13, 2008
  • “Europe Relaxes Rules on Sale of Ugly Fruits and Vegetables” — New York Times, November 13, 2008

A vase purchased at a car boot sale for £1 has sold for £32,450, following advice from experts on the BBC‘s Antiques Roadshow television program. The vase was sold in an auction at Christie’s.

The vase was found to be a 1929 work made by the French designer Rene Lalique.

Sources

  • “Car boot sale vase nets £32,450” — BBC News Online, November 13, 2008
  • “£32,449 profit for car boot sale vase by Lalique” — Times Online, November 13, 2008

Recent anonymous press briefings by US State Department officials indicated that its arms control division may punish Blackwater Worldwide for improper paperwork.

The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls has the power to fine or agree voluntary penalties with exporters of certain weapons, who do not follow correct procedures. Blackwater Worldwide, a private military company, exported automatic weapons to Iraq that became the subject of a federal investigation first disclosed in 2007.Concern was expressed by the unnamed officials that paperwork errors may make the weapons untraceable, and that some reached Iraq’s black market.

Sources

  • “Blackwater Faces Millions in Fines for Weapons Shipments (radio show transcript)” — Democracy Now!, November 13, 2008
  • Knight Ridder / McClatchy Newspapers. “Blackwater faces Fines over Arms Deal” — Military.com, November 13, 2008
  • Dan Friedman, Congress Daily. “Blackwater could face sanctions for improper arms shipments” — Government Executive, November 7, 2008

US unemployment rate reaches 8.1%

Friday, March 6, 2009

The official unemployment rate in the United States increased to 8.1% (seasonally adjusted), the highest level in over 25 years, after the Labor Department reported that 651,000 jobs were lost in February. The U-6 unemployment rate, an alternative measure also published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that includes other categories of unemployed and underemployed workers, was reported to be 16%.

The US economy has now shed 4.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Half of the job losses have come in the last four months, and the unemployment rate has jumped by 3.3% in the past year.

The Federal Reserve says that it doesn’t expect the jobless rate to fall below seven percent until 2011.

The professional and business service sector lost 180,000 jobs last month, while manufacturing shed 168,000. The construction industry has lost 1.1 million jobs since January 2007 and 104,000 jobs last month. At the same time, the financial sector lost 44,000 jobs, bringing the total to 448,000 lost jobs since a peak in December 2007.

“The construction industry is in a near depression,” said the General President of LIUNA, Terry O’Sullivan.

“We are staring into the abyss. The recession is intensifying and the economy is rapidly shrinking,” said Steven Wood of Insight Economics.

US stock markets opened higher after the report.