New Sun Newsbriefs

Monkeys Make Better Listeners

VITEBSK, Belarus - Young girls and middle-aged men flock to a Belarus zoo to tell their deepest secrets and desires to — long-tailed monkeys.

People are apparently lured by the monkeys in Vitebsk because the primates speak no evil — no matter what they are told in the zoo's special "psychological relief room," Interfax reported.

"Anyone can come into the room where the monkey family lives and tell them of their troubles and problems," Zoo Director Zhanetta Kochenovskaya said. "You can whine, tell your secrets and even cry out loud."

She said the most frequent visitors are young girls and men going through mid-life crises.

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Bill Calls for Oil Industry to Invest in Renewable Fuels

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced legislation that would require oil companies making in excess of $1 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2006 to invest no less than 1% of those profits into installing E85 or other alternative fuel pumps at gas stations across the U.S. It is estimated that Obama's bill would create more than 7,000 new E85 pumps in the country.

"It's time for the oil companies to give something back to America by investing just 1% of their record profits into the cheaper, cleaner renewable fuels like E85 that can finally free us from our dependence on Middle East oil." — U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)


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New Law Promotes Hybrid Cars

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has signed into law the nation's first law promoting plug-in hybrid, flexible-fueled vehicles.

The legislation sailed through both houses by a unanimous vote.

"Both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats understand that this is the only near-term strategy available that can cure us of our oil addiction," said David Morris, ILSR's Vice President, who testified as an expert witness before six legislative committees.

The law instructs the state to buy plug-in hybrids on a preferred basis when they become available.

The law also encourages Minnesota State University-Mankato to develop flex-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles, and creates a task force consisting of business, government and utility representatives to develop a strategy for using and producing such vehicles in Minnesota.

A plug-in hybrid can run primarily on electricity, which inherently reduces oil consumption.

"Only three percent of our electricity is generated from oil," Morris observed, "and many states are requiring an increasing percentage of renewable electricity." Renewable fuels like ethanol would provide the primary energy source for the vehicle's engine.

"Minnesota has the resources necessary to make flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid production a reality," said Frank Hornstein, the bill's chief House author. "We have the research at Minnesota State-Mankato. We have the corn and ethanol industry. We have a growing number of wind farms. And we have the Ford plant."

"Ford has said it will close the plant. The task force can help us develop new opportunities," notes Scott Dibble, the bill's chief Senate author. "We could have a technology developed in Minnesota and built at the Ford Plant, which already runs on renewable energy generated at the plant's hydroelectric dam on the Mississippi River."


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Archbishop Desmond Tutu
on Establishing a Department of Peace

"Go for it...let us put our massive investment that we are putting right now in instruments of death and destruction, let us put them into something that is creative, that is life-enhancing, teaching kids that there are ways of resolving differences that don't need to be violent. You can sit down and ultimately say, 'You know, actually, an enemy is a friend waiting to be made.'"
From an interview with Desmond Tutu by Mark Thompkins for the Peace Alliance at the "Quest for Global Healing," May, 2006, Bali, Indonesia.

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Wal-Mart Going Green

Last fall, Wal-Mart's president, Lee Scott, delivered a speech to employees filled with goals for a green and sustainable future.

He pledged that Wal-Mart stores will eventually be supplied with 100-percent renewable energy, create zero waste, reduce packaging materials across the board, create more recyclables, and replace PVC packaging in all Wal-Mart branded items with more eco-friendly materials.

Wal-Mart has already committed to selling 100-percent sustainable fish in its food markets. They are already experimenting with green roofs, corn-based plastics and green energy (which is now used to power four Canadian stores, amounting to what some estimate is the single biggest purchase of renewable energy in Canadian history).

Scott promised that Wal-Mart will double the fuel efficiency of their huge truck fleet within a decade. This will save $300 million in fuel costs per year. They plan to increase store efficiency and reduce greenhouse gasses by 20 percent across all stores worldwide.

Saving the planet is indeed good for business.

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Yoga Seen Helpful to Breast Cancer Patients

HOUSTON, TX - Texas researchers have shown that breast cancer patients who participate in yoga during treatment have improved quality of life.

Yoga offers a way for breast cancer sufferers to "ameliorate the treatment-related side effects that accumulate in cancer patients over time," said Lorenzo Cohen, associate professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas.

Cohen worked with India's largest yoga research institution, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana research foundation in Bangalore, India, on the research study.

After just one week of yoga and radiation, the patients reported significantly increased physical function, as well as general health, compared to the control group. The study participants also reported marginally better social functioning, significantly lower levels of sleep-related daytime dysfunction, as well as marginally lower levels of fatigue overall.

"It was gratifying to see that we could make a clinically significant difference in these quality of life of these women in such a brief program. Whether it's yoga or some other type of mind-body program, we believe this study shows how beneficial it is to participate throughout treatment to help with quality of life-based issues," says Kavita Chandwani, M.D., yoga instructor and co-investigator responsible for overseeing the trial.

Recently, Cohen and his team received a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the effects of Tibetan yoga in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy; the grant is the largest ever to study Tibetan yoga in cancer patients.

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U.K. Scientist Claims Egg Before Chicken

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND (UPI) - British scientists and a farmer say they have solved the question of what came first, the chicken or the egg, saying the egg definitely was the original.

Evolutionary genetics Professor John Brookfield of the University of Nottingham told The Independent the same DNA code of the chicken and the egg it came from proves the egg was first.

He said a living organism, in this case a chicken, keeps the same DNA structure as it did when an embryo in the egg, The Independent reports.

"Therefore, the first living thing that we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg," said Brookfield. King's College London Professor David Papineau and Charles Bourns, chairman of the Great British Chicken trade board, agreed.

They said the egg could be a mutant change from any other animal that then produced the chicken but not the other way around.

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Maui Beach Named U.S. Best

KAPALUA, Hawaii (UPI) - An erosion studies university professor and self-proclaimed beach expert has named D.T. Fleming Beach in Kapalua, Maui, the best beach in the United States.

Stephen Leatherman, the chair of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research, who also goes by the nickname "Dr. Beach," said the Fleming beach is the U.S. best this year because of the year-round sun, clean water and scenery. He also said the showers, grills, snack bar, picnic area and parking make it appealing to visitors, according to

Terryl Vencl, head of the Maui Visitors Bureau, said he was "thrilled" at the naming but not surprised because of how many people like the beaches on the island. Four Maui beaches are among the 11 in all of Hawaii that Dr. Beach has named the top beach since 1991.

Caladesi Island State Park in Florida received the runner-up spot on this year's list. The St. Petersburg Times reports the undeveloped area and the fact cars aren't allowed are why it's so popular.

The winner is retired and taken out of the running after they win to give other U.S. beaches a chance to win.

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New Orleans to Get New Internet Service

May 26, 2006, NEW ORLEANS, LA (UPI) - EarthLink has been given the go-ahead by the New Orleans City Council to build a WiFi broadband network in the hurricane-devastated city.

The WiFi mesh network was expected to provide affordable, high-speed Internet in New Orleans, the Atlanta Business Chronicle says.

EarthLink plans both a free-service tier and a paid-service tier. The limited-time free service will be offered during the city's rebuilding efforts. A higher speed paid service also will be offered.

* * * (Sara Lee)

Islam Scholar Hails Singapore's Religious Diversity

SINGAPORE (UPI) - One of Egypt's most influential Islamic scholars is praising Singapore's successful multi-religious society as a model for the rest of the world.

Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar University, lavished accolades on the tiny city-state in a lecture hosted by Singapore's Islamic Religious Council, Channel News Asia reported.

"Living in a country with a non-Muslim majority, you have to respect the rules of the state as the state respects your beliefs and your Islamic obligations," he said.

"All citizens of Singapore, regardless of race or religion, work together to promote peace and prosperity, to respect other creeds and cooperate, with respect for each other's religion and the law of the land. As long as the majority respects the minority and vice-versa, everyone will live in harmony."

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Selenium May Guard Against Prostate Cancer

CHICAGO, IL (UPI) - Selenium can act as an antioxidant when incorporated into proteins to reduce the incidence of lung, colorectal and prostate cancer, say U.S. researchers.

Alan Diamond, professor of human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues used specially bred transgenic mice that suggest it is the level of selenium-containing proteins in the body that is instrumental in preventing cancer. Dietary selenium plays a role in stimulating the body's level of these selenoproteins, according to Diamond.

The effectiveness of selenium may be due to its effects on a single selenoprotein or combinations of several members of this class, according to Diamond. One selenoprotein in particular, glutathione peroxidase, is of special interest to Diamond and his associates, and they plan to run new tests using new mice genetically modified to reduce levels of just this one selenoprotein, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"If reductions result in accelerated prostate cancer, then we have our player," he said.

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Muslim Runs for Congress

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (UPI) - An African-American Muslim from Minnesota has won the Democratic Party's endorsement for a Congressional seat.

Keith Ellison's endorsement is for the seat of retiring Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., in one of the safest Democratic districts in the country, The Hill newspaper reported.

If Ellison succeeds, he would be the first Muslim Congressman in the nation's history.

It's a big if: The 42-year-old two-term state representative still faces a September primary challenge in the Minneapolis-area district that could include Sabo's chief of staff, who also is a former state Democratic party chairman.

Ellison, who is pro-choice and supports an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, converted to Islam when he was 19 years old at Wayne State University in Detroit.

"My faith informs me. My faith helps me to remember to be gentle, kind, considerate, fair, respectful," he said. "But I don't make my faith something that other people have to deal with."

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