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Exaggerated claims

"Exaggerated claims" Continued...

Issue: "Finding their way," Oct. 8, 2011


Ivar Giaever, a recipient of the 1973 Nobel Prize in physics, left the 48,000-member American Physical Society (APS) in protest of its position that global warming is "incontrovertible" and caused by human activity. The Norwegian-born physicist, an 82-year-old former professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, expressed frustration in a letter to the society: "In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"

Euro crisis

Early September saw the sharpest two-day drop in stocks in Europe since 2009. The cause? A defeat for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party in regional elections, the party's fifth election loss this year and this time in Merkel's home state. Merkel played a key role in developing plans to bail out Greece and other troubled nations, and defeat is a sign that voters lack confidence in her ability to handle Europe's debt crisis. Senior German officials now say that an orderly bankruptcy of Greece may be necessary. Once a taboo topic, bankruptcy talk has had a devastating effect on bank shares: On a single day in mid-September, the continent's leading financial stocks, including Deutsche Bank, were down by as much as 11 percent.

Deadly explosion

After a pipeline explosion killed at least 121 people in a Kenyan slum on Sept. 12, a Nairobi professor warned that Kenyans in packed slums across the city face the danger of other deadly disasters.

The September explosion in the densely populated Sinai slum erupted after fuel from a gasoline pipeline filled a sewer drain and ignited. Witnesses reported that body parts and burning shacks filled an area 1,000 feet around the blast.

Professor Peter Ngau of the University of Nairobi said government officials rarely act to move slum dwellers to more suitable land. And he warned that Nairobi's three largest slums-Kiberia, Mathare, and Mukuru-harbor deadly dangers for railway explosions, mudslides, and fires. "It's just disasters waiting to happen," he said. "It is just by the grace of God that they don't happen more."

Criminal behavior in decline

In a rebuke of the historical trend that higher crime rates accompany higher unemployment, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that violent crime was down 6 percent in 2010, a decline for the fourth year in a row. Property crime also dropped 2.7 percent for the eighth straight year. Overall, the rate of robberies fell by 10 percent, and in the property crime category, car thefts fell by 7.4 percent, the largest drop. Criminologists said the drops are the result of an aging population, better policing, and high rates of imprisonment, according to the Associated Press.


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