Friday, April 30, 2010

'Cuddle hormone' makes men more empathetic

Man counselling woman
Men are not as 'tuned' in to people's feelings as women

A nasal spray can make men more in tune with other people's feelings, say a team of German and UK researchers.

They found that inhaling the "cuddle hormone" oxytocin made men just as empathetic as women.

The study in 48 volunteers also showed that the spray boosted the ability to learn from positive feedback.

Writing in the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers said the spray may be useful for boosting behaviour therapy in conditions such as schizophrenia.

Oxytocin is a naturally produced hormone, most well-known for triggering labour pains and promoting bonding between mother and baby.

This study is the latest of several that suggest that intranasal oxytocin seems to 'sensitise' people to become more aware of social cues from other individuals
Professor Gareth Leng

But it has also been shown to play a role in social relations, sex and trust.

Study leader Professor Keith Kendrick, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University, said by giving the hormone nasally, it quickly reaches the brain.

In the first part of the study, half the men received a nose spray containing oxytocin and half were given a dummy spray.

They were then shown photos of emotionally charged situations including a crying child, a girl hugging her cat, and a grieving man, and were asked questions about the depth of feeling they had towards the subjects.

Those who had the hormone spray had markedly higher levels of empathy - of a similar magnitude to those only usually seen in women who are naturally more sensitive to the feelings of others.

Neither group were able to accurately guess whether they had received the oxytocin or the dummy spray.

Positive feedback

In a second experiment, the researchers measured "socially motivated learning" where the volunteers were asked to do a difficult observation test and were shown an approving face if they got the answer right and an unhappy face if they got it wrong.

In these types of experiments, people generally learn faster if they get positive feedback but those who had taken the oxytocin spray responded even better to facial feedback than those in the placebo group.

Professor Kendrick said the oxytocin spray may prove to be useful in people with conditions associated with reduced social approachability and social withdrawal, such as schizophrenia.

And other researchers are already looking at its potential use in autism.

"The bottom line is it improved the ability of people to learn when they had positive feedback and that is pretty important because this might help improve the effectiveness of behavioural therapy or even be useful in people with learning difficulties."

Professor Gareth Leng from Edinburgh University said the research used some cleverly-designed tests.

He added there has been a lot of interest recently on oxytocin and social behaviour.

"This study is the latest of several that suggest that intranasal oxytocin seems to 'sensitise' people to become more aware of social cues from other individuals - and more likely to be sympathetic to them."

Prostate cancer vaccine wins US approval

Prostate cancer vaccine wins US approval

Prostate cancer cell
The cancer vaccine is not a "cure" for prostate cancer

A "vaccine" which harnesses the body's own immune system to fight prostate cancer has been approved for use by US drug regulators.

Provenge - which is designed to be used in men with advanced disease - is the first of its kind to be accepted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Each dose has to be individually tailored and it is an expensive treatment at $93,000 per patient.

It will add to, rather than replace, existing treatments, said experts.

There are still questions to answer, even if the treatment fulfils its early promise
John Neate, The Prostate Cancer Charity

Doctors have been working on therapies that prompt the immune system to fight tumours for decades.

Potential success stories include an experimental vaccine for melanoma which is in the late stages of development.

This latest therapy is made by collecting special blood cells from each patient that help the immune system recognise cancer as a threat.

These are then mixed with a protein found on most prostate cancer cells and a substance which kick-starts the immune response.

Advanced disease

The drug is not a "cure" but is used in advanced prostate cancer that has spread to other sites in the body and is no longer responding to standard hormone treatment.

Clinical trials showed that the treatment extended the lives of patients by four months.

This compares with an average of three months with chemotherapy.

Dr Phil Kantoff, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who helped run the studies of Provenge said: "The big news here is that this is the first immunotherapy to win approval, and I suspect within five to ten years immunotherapies will be a big part of cancer therapy in general."

Prostate cancer accounts for about 12% of male deaths from cancer in the UK and is the second most common cause of cancer death in men.

In older men aged 85 and over, the disease is the most common cause of all deaths from cancer.

John Neate, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "The news that this type of immunotherapy may offer additional survival benefit is promising."

But he added: "There are still questions to answer, even if the treatment fulfils its early promise.

"At present, we believe there are currently no laboratories in Europe equipped to undertake this treatment.

"Furthermore, this treatment is not currently approved in the UK and it will still be some years before doctors know enough about its long term effectiveness and side effects to be confident about its potential place in the armoury against advanced prostate cancer."

Dr Chris Parker, Cancer Research UK's prostate cancer expert said: "We hope this approval will open new avenues of r

Mutinous troops attack south Sudan army near Malakal

Mutinous troops attack south Sudan army near Malakal

SPLM supporters celebrate election victory
The SPLM won a landslide across Southern Sudan

At least eight people have been killed when mutinous troops attacked an army base in south Sudan following this month's elections, officials say.

A southern army spokesman said the mutineers backed a former general who ran and lost in a Jonglei state poll.

George Athor denied leading the troops but told the BBC he sympathised with them and said the polls were rigged.

The ex-rebel SPLM party won a landslide victory to retain power in the south, amid widespread claims of intimidation.

The 11-15 April elections were the first in 24 years - and the first since the end of a two-decade conflict between north and south.

The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says there have been intense negotiations for several days to avoid just this sort of problem in Southern Sudan.

Several senior southern soldiers contested the elections as independents and all but one lost.

Mr Athor ran for governor of Jonglei state as an independent when he did not get the SPLM nomination.

'Weapons stolen'

The Delab Hill barracks, 12km (7 miles) south of Malakal, were attacked.

The army spokesman said weapons were stolen.


"We managed to push back the attackers, but there are seven dead and nine injured among the troops," southern army spokesman Malaak Ayuen Ajok told AFP.

"Several attackers also lost their lives."

Malakal was the scene of fierce fighting between rival militias in 2009, and in 2006, which left at least 150 people dead.

Our correspondent says it is too early to tell if this is an isolated incident, or the start of a much bigger problem.

He says the voting process itself was largely peaceful, but tensions rose, particularly in the south, as accusations of electoral fraud began to multiply.

SPLM leader Salvia Kiir won 93% of the vote in the southern presidential election.

A referendum is due in January 2011 in the semi-autonomous south on whether the region should secede from the mainly Muslim and Arab-dominated north.

Goldman Sachs 'facing criminal inquiry'

Goldman Sacks sign Goldman Sachs has been accused of defrauding investors

Goldman Sachs is under criminal investigation for the way in which it sold complex mortgage-backed products to clients, reports suggest.

Earlier this month, the US financial regulator brought civil charges against the bank for defrauding investors.

It alleged that Goldman failed to disclose a conflict of interest, in that a firm advising it on a product was betting it would decline in value.

Goldman denies the accusations and said it was "not surprised" by the reports.

"Given the recent focus on the firm, we are not surprised by the report of a [criminal] inquiry. We would fully co-operate with any requests for information," a Goldman spokesperson said.

Shares in Goldman fell by more than 5% in early trading in New York on the back of the reports.

'Burden of proof'

The investigation is being run from the US Attorney's office in New York, according to reports.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the criminal probe was underway before the civil charges were laid by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

To file charges, prosecutors would have to gather evidence that company employees knowingly broke the law.

The burden of proof is higher than in the civil case brought earlier this month by the Securities Exchange Commission, says the BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington.

Goldman executives were grilled earlier this week by a US Senate panel.

They were criticised for selling - and profiting from - complex derivatives based on mortgage investments that they knew were very risky, spreading the financial crisis.

Much of the questioning centred on whether Goldman had bet on these products falling in value. Though legal, the senators questioned the morality of such actions.

Bumper profits

Goldman boss Lloyd Blankfein denied that his firm had acted improperly, arguing that it was simply giving its clients what they wanted - exposure to the housing market.

Earlier in the session, Fabrice Tourre - the London-based bond trader named in the civil fraud case against the bank who helped to devise some of the complex derivatives offered by Goldman - said he "categorically" denied the SEC's allegations.

Goldman Sachs, the world's biggest investment bank, reported profits of $3.5bn (£2.3bn) in the first three months of this year, almost double the amount it made in the same period in 2009.

It was recently criticised for helping Greece mask the full extent of its debt problems by using complicated currency swap trades.

French ex-police boss and Chirac ally Pasqua convicted

French ex-police boss and Chirac ally Pasqua convicted

French senator Charles Pasqua, 30 Apr 10
Charles Pasqua plans to appeal against the sentence

French senator Charles Pasqua has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence for corruption while he was interior minister in the 1990s.

A close aide of the former centre-right President, Jacques Chirac, Pasqua was convicted of embezzlement over sales of police equipment abroad.

Pasqua, 83, was cleared of two other charges. He denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Chirac is to stand trial next year, accused of misuse of public funds when he was mayor of Paris in the 1990s.

'No regrets'

Pasqua was convicted of receiving "misappropriated funds" in the so-called Sofremi case.

Sofremi, an agency which sold police equipment abroad, was controlled by the interior ministry.

Pasqua was interior minister from 1986-1988 and again from 1993-1995.

"How could anyone imagine that I could have let myself be corrupted?" Pasqua asked after the verdict, adding that he "regretted nothing".

He was tried by the Court of Justice of the Republic, the only body with a mandate to try people for actions carried out while they served in government.

Prosecutors had asked the court to strip him of his right to hold office, as well as impose a two-year prison sentence and a 200,000 euro ($265,00 or £174,000) fine.

Pasqua was acquitted in two other corruption cases, one involving a lucrative casino license.

The former interior minister has faced a series of court cases in recent years.

In 2009, he was sentenced to a year in prison for his involvement in illegal arms sales to Angola in the 1990s. He has appealed against that conviction, AFP reports.

In the casino case, Pasqua had earlier been convicted in a regular court of illegal campaign financing.

A one-time ally of Mr Chirac, Pasqua grew increasingly anti-European in the 1990s and distanced himself from the former French president.

Pakistan campaigner Khalid Khawaja found dead

Pakistan campaigner Khalid Khawaja found dead

Khalid Khawaja
Mr Khawaja campaigned on behalf of missing people

The body of a Pakistani campaigner has been found in the North Waziristan tribal area, weeks after he was reportedly kidnapped by militants.

Officials said Khalid Khawaja's body was found in a ditch near the town of Mir Ali on Friday afternoon. He had been shot in the head and chest.

A note attached to the body claimed that Mr Khawaja - a former Pakistani intelligence officer - was a US agent.

It said that if "someone tries to spy for America this will be his fate".

Mr Khawaja, along with two other men, had been missing for several weeks after travelling into North Waziristan.

A group calling itself the Asian Tigers later said it had kidnapped all three.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that the group is thought to be a front for the Pakistani Taliban, who in effect control most of the Waziristan tribal region.

A video was released of Mr Khawaja before his death in which he was seen confessing that he was a CIA and Pakistani agent.

His captors had been demanding a ransom and the release of Taliban militants in exchange for the release of the men.

In recent years Mr Khawaja had campaigned for the release of dozens of people who have allegedly been taken into unofficial custody in Pakistan.


Barbaric' killing of murder suspect by Lebanese mob

Barbaric' killing of murder suspect by Lebanese mob

Residents at the scene of the hanging in Ketermaya village,  Lebanon, on 29/04/2010
Residents watched as the body was hung in the village square

Lebanese officials are investigating the lynching by angry villagers of an Egyptian man accused of killing a local couple and their two grandchildren.

The suspect was with police re-enacting the crime when he was seized by a mob in a village south of Beirut, according to Lebanese media reports.

The mob stabbed him to death and then hanged him with a butcher's hook from a pole in the village square.

Officials condemned the action by villagers as "barbaric".

Interior Minister Ziad Baroud ordered an investigation and said such vigilante action was "extremely dangerous".

'Army intervention'

Mohammed Muslem, a 38-year-old Egyptian reportedly working as a butcher in Ketermaya village, had been arrested on suspicion of shooting dead an elderly couple and their granddaughters aged seven and nine.

He is said to have confessed and was leading police officers through the events of the day when dozens of villagers dragged him away from police custody and began beating him with sticks and knives.


Some witnesses said police rescued him and took him to a nearby hospital, only for the crowd to break in to the intensive care unit, drag him out and continue to beat him.

After killing Mohammed Muslem, the mob is reported to have stripped him down to his underpants, driven his body through the streets on a car bonnet, and then hung him from a pole in the centre of the village with onlookers crying "Allahu Akbar" or God is Great.

The army was finally able to intervene after 30 minutes and took his body away.

"Whatever the feeling of the villagers, nothing can justify this type of reaction," Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar said.

"We have the names of at least 10 people who took part in this horrible crime and the courts must now do their work. No state of law can condone what happened."

But villagers were unrepentant. "This man came to this village and he did a big crime..." one villager was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. "And thank God the village took revenge with our own hands."

China opens World Expo 2010 in Shanghai

China opens World Expo 2010 in Shanghai


Highlights from the opening fireworks

The 2010 World Expo has opened in the city of Shanghai in what China hopes will be further proof of its rising global influence.

Almost 250 countries and international organisations are showcasing their culture in an event themed around sustainable development.

Many are doing so in pavilions with radical architecture.

World leaders, including France's President Sarkozy, are attending the lavish opening ceremony.

"Expo 2010 Shanghai is now open!" Chinese President Hu Jintao declared during the gala opening, in which 2,300 performers and musicians from all over the world took part.

They were celebrating the Expo slogan: "Better city, better life in music and dance".

Tens of thousands of fireworks and lasers then lit up the city's riverfront - in what organisers promised would be the biggest-ever multimedia event, the BBC's Chris Hogg in Shanghai says.

Some 70 million visitors - mostly Chinese - are expected to visit the Expo, which will be open for the next six months.

Chinese local media report that the cost of staging the event could be as much as $58bn (£38bn) - more than was spent on the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Some estimates say this figure could eventually be even higher.

Shanghai has increased security measures drastically in preparation for the event.

An additional 8,000 police officers have been brought in to help Shanghai's 46,000-strong police force to patrol the city, Chinese state media says.

'Oppressive' security

Residents living near the Expo site have complained about oppressive security measures.

"It's just not convenient to get in and out any more," Dong, a local resident, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Theme is "Better City, Better Life"
70 million visitors expected, mostly Chinese
192 countries and 50 organisations on show
20,000 cultural performances
First Expo in a developing country
Site is 5.3sq km, twice the size of Monaco
China says cost is $4.2bn - others say costs reached $58bn
Standard day ticket costs 160 yuan ($23: £15)
Runs from 1 May to 31 October

China's new showcase to the world

Markets have been closed down to build Expo car parks, he added.

Six people who protested about having their homes destroyed to make room for the Expo have been sent to labour camps, the Hong-Kong based Chinese Human Rights Defenders were quoted as saying by AP.

Last week police seized four computers belonging to activist Feng Zhenghu, who had been trying to set up an alternative online Expo, highlighting alleged miscarriages of justice, our correspondent says.

The Expo is seen as an opportunity for countries to try to win favour with the Chinese, he adds.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday, President Sarkozy - whose relationship with China has been testy after he criticized a Chinese security crackdown in Tibet in 2008 - said France and China would "think and work together".

Israeli-Palestinian talks to start next week - Clinton

Israeli-Palestinian talks to start next week - Clinton

Hillary Clinton April 2010
Mrs Clinton said she hoped that "ultimately" there would be direct talks

Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks are set to start next week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says.

Mrs Clinton told reporters in Washington that US special envoy George Mitchell would be returning to the region next week.

Plans to launch indirect negotiations failed last month over a row about Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since January 2008.

"We will be starting with proximity talks next week," Mrs Clinton said.

She added that "ultimately we want to see parties in direct negotiations".

America's top diplomat also said Washington expected that Arab foreign ministers meeting on Saturday would endorse the new talks.


The US has been trying to launch proximity talks between the two sides.

These were knocked off course by an announcement in March that Israel had approved plans for the new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo during a visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden.

Osnat Schwartz, Israeli citizen

The Palestinians - who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state - then pulled out of the scheduled indirect talks last month in protest.

Mr Mitchell's team has been actively trying to extract guarantees from the Israelis to bring the Palestinians back to the proposed talks.

Earlier this week, the US envoy said he had held "positive and productive" talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

A report in the Wall Street Journal last week quoted unnamed US officials as saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had offered measures including easing the blockade on Gaza, releasing prisoners, freezing the controversial 1,600 homes for two years, and agreeing to discuss borders and the status of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians were still seeking clarification, but hoped to be in a position to seek the Arab League's backing to re-enter talks at the meeting scheduled for 1 May.

"We were always in favour of the talks, and we still want them to go ahead," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

However, it is unclear what promises the US has made to the Palestinians to guarantee there will be no further unilateral Israeli actions that undermine the process, the BBC's State Department correspondent Kim Ghattas says.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967. It insists Jerusalem will remain its undivided capital.

Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements in the West Bank, among a Palestinian population of about 2.5 million.

The settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Oil spill sparks new drilling ban

Oil spill sparks new drilling ban


Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano: This is a spill of national significance

The US administration has banned oil drilling in new areas of the US coast pending investigations into the cause of the oil spill off Louisiana.

"No additional drilling has been authorised and none will until we find out what happened," White House adviser David Axelrod told ABC television.

Last month President Barack Obama eased a moratorium on new offshore drilling.

Up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day are thought to be spilling into the water after last week's rig explosion.

The slick has begun to reach the Louisiana shore, and the US Navy has been sent to help avert an economic and environmental disaster.

State of emergency

Mr Axelrod announced the ban on drilling in new areas in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America programme on Friday.

He also defended the administration's response to the 20 April explosion that destroyed the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig, saying "we had the Coast Guard in almost immediately".

The US government has designated the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an "incident of national significance". This allows it to draw on resources from across the country.

The wetlands off the coast of Louisiana sustain hundreds of wildlife species and a big seafood and fishing industry.

Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency and asked for federal funds to deploy 6,000 National Guard soldiers to help with the clean-up.

The states of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are also threatened, as oil continues to escape from the wreckage of the rig.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Underage gymnast costs China Sydney Olympics bronze Underage gymnast costs China Sydney Olympics bronze Yang Yun (left) and Dong Fangxiao Dong Fangxi

Underage gymnast costs China Sydney Olympics bronze

Yang Yun (left) and Dong Fangxiao
Dong Fangxiao (right) was 14-years-old when she won the bronze medal

China have been been stripped of the Olympic bronze medal won by the women's gymnastic team at the 2000 Games in Sydney for using an underage gymnast.

The International Olympic Committee acted after investigations determined that gymnast Dong Fangxiao was only 14 years old at the 2000 Games.

Gymnasts must turn 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible.

The United States women's team, who finished in fourth place in Sydney, will now take the bronze medal.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) carried out the investigation and subsequently recommended the IOC take the medal back.

The IOC executive board upheld the request and formally stripped the medal on the first day of a two-day meeting in Dubai.

Dong was also stripped of her sixth-place result in the individual floor exercises and seventh place in the vault.

The FIG had previously cleared five Chinese gymnasts suspected of being underage at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, after Chinese officials provided original passports, ID cards and family registers showing all of the gymnasts were old enough to compete.

But the FIG had said following that investigation it was not satisfied with "the explanations and evidence provided to date" for Dong and a second gymnast, Yang Yun from the 2000 Olympic team.

However, FIG investigators did not find sufficient evidence to prove Yang, who also won a bronze medal on uneven bars in 2000, was underage so she received only a warning.

Australia plans plain-packaging rule for cigarettes Australia plans plain-packaging rule for cigarettes Department of Health and Ageing image of a mo

Australia plans plain-packaging rule for cigarettes

Department of Health and Ageing image of a mocked-up cigarette  packet with the banding removed and graphic health warnings displayed
The law will require all tobacco products to be sold in a standard style

Australia is to announce new rules which will force tobacco companies to use plain packaging, reports say.

Manufacturers will be required to drop all colour and branding logos from cigarette packets within two years.

The move, which is being billed as a world-first, comes after recommendations were made by the World Health Organisation.

PM Kevin Rudd, who is to hold elections this year, aims to cut smoking-related deaths to under 10% by 2018.

The decision is expected to be confirmed by Australia's Health Minister, Nicola Roxon.

Smoking kills 15,000 Australians every year and is the largest preventable cause of disease and death in the country.

The law will require all tobacco products to be sold in a standard colour and style with government health warnings by 2012.

It follows regulations on tobacco advertising which have helped cut smoking significantly, from 30.5% of the population aged 14 and over in 1988 to 16.6% in 2007.

An Australian think-tank has said that the rules amounted to compulsory acquisition of physical property and warned that it could result in expensive compensation claims.

In 2008, the Australian tobacco market generated revenues of $7.6bn (£5bn).

NHS worst for data breaches - Information Commissioner

Doctor writing prescriptions Most of the breaches related to stolen data or hardware

The NHS has reported the highest number of serious data breaches of any UK organisation since the end of 2007, the Information Commissioner's Office says.

David Smith, deputy commissioner at the ICO told the Infosec security conference the NHS had highlighted 287 breaches to it in the period.

That accounts for more than 30% of the total number reported.

The NHS - the UK's largest employer with 1.7m staff - is in the process of rolling out digital patient records.

Most of the breaches (113) were the result of stolen data or hardware, followed by 82 cases of lost data or hardware.

Big fines

Mr Smith said the problems were not confined to the public sector and that results could be skewed because the public sector has a culture of reporting all breaches whereas not all private sector firms did.

Richard Vautrey, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association's GPs committee thinks the number of breaches reflect the size and complexity of the NHS as well as its culture of openness.

"So many people have access to data and often human error is to blame. There is an increased attempt to be open and honest about what happens to data," he said.

He added that he was not aware of a specific case where a data breach had affected patient privacy or care.

"We need to keep their breaches in perspective," he said.

As part of its plans to digitise patient records, the NHS is asking patients if they want their data stored on national databases. It is important that people are given the chance to opt out, said Mr Vautrey.

Currently the reporting procedure for data breaches in the UK is voluntary although the ICO is "moving towards" a compulsory system.

In April the ICO introduced fines of up to £500,000 for serious data breaches.

Warning signs

The European Union's Telecoms Package requires telecom firms to report data breaches and Mr Smith said he expected this requirement to expand beyond telcos.

Data encryption firm PGP welcomed the tough new approach to data security.

"Finally the ICO, which has long demanded greater powers, will be able to severely punish those in serious breach of the Data Protection Act. For too long, organisations have continued to ignore the warning signs - risking both the privacy of their customers and the reputations of their brands," said Jamie Cowper, European marketing director at PGP.

He anticipates "severe fines" for the next private sector company to be involved in a serious data breach although he does not imagine the ICO will pursue the NHS.

PGP calculated that data breaches cost companies, on average, £67 per piece of data lost.

Legality of raid on home of iPhone blogger raid queried

Jason Chen Jason Chen talked about the iPhone on his blog

The examination of computers belonging to a technology blogger who bought an iPhone prototype has been put on hold.

Gizmodo editor Jason Chen had computers and other equipment taken from his house after he paid $5,000 (£3,200) for the phone, which was found in a bar.

His lawyers argue that he is protected by California's shield law.

State lawyers are considering whether the raids in Fremont were legal, according to the San Francisco Chronice.

The shield law states that journalists have the right to protect their unpublished material from examination.

'Thief' found

San Mateo county chief deputy district attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he was considering the matter and expected to issue a legal memo later this week.

He told the Chronicle that the computers would not be examined until then.

The laptops, hard-drive and USB memory sticks that belong to Mr Chen are currently being held by the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (React), the state's high-tech crime taskforce that conducted the raid.

They ordered the search after Apple reported the phone stolen.

The prototype was left in a bar by Apple software engineer Gray Powell and details and pictures of it were subsequently published on the Gizmodo website.

Earlier, in an interview with technology news site CNet, Mr Wagstaffe had defended the raid, saying prosecutors had considered whether reporter shield laws applied to the case but decided to proceed.

He also said that police knew the identity of the person who took the phone and that they had talked to him.

Man stabs 28 children in China kindergarten attack

Man stabs 28 children in China kindergarten attack


Twenty-eight children and three adults have been injured by a man with a knife at a kindergarten in eastern China, the third such attack in a month.

Officials said five of the injured were in a critical condition in hospital after the incident in Jiangsu province.

It follows a knife attack on Wednesday in the south of the country, in which 16 pupils and one teacher were injured.

Earlier that day, a doctor convicted of stabbing eight children to death last month in Fujian province was executed.

The alleged assailant in Thursday's attack at the Zhongxin kindergarten, in the city of Taixing, Jiangsu province was detained afterwards.

Police said he was a 47-year-old unemployed local man and had been carrying a 20cm (8in) knife, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

"The gate-keeper, teachers, and students were attacked. The injured are receiving treatment in hospital. We don't have any reports of deaths yet," an official with the Taixing city government told AFP news agency.


The injured were attacked as lessons got underway this morning, reports the BBC's Shanghai correspondent Chris Hogg.

Most of the children were four year olds from the same class.

Chris Hogg
By Chris Hogg, BBC News, Shanghai
The spate of attacks on schools is unsettling for the Chinese. This kind of violent crime is usually quite rare here.

Already there are calls to step up security in and around educational institutions. But that would be expensive.

In reality there is probably little that can be done to prevent this kind of incident taking place.

"The injured have been sent here one after another," an unnamed official at the Taixing No 1 People's hospital told the Associated Press news agency.

"The doctors are now trying their best to save them."

China has witnessed several school attacks in recent years, most blamed on people with personal grudges or suffering from mental illness.

Since a spate of attacks in 2004, many schools have employed professional guards.

Our correspondent says the attacks on schools are unsettling in a country where such violent attack are rare, and have led for calls for increased security at schools.

Gulf of Mexico oil slick said to be five times bigger

Gulf of Mexico oil slick said to be five times bigger

A ship attempts to collect oil on the surface of the Gulf of  Mexico (28 April 2010)
Vessels swept some oil into a fire-resistant boom for a "test burn"

The US Coast Guard says five times as much oil as previously thought could be leaking from a well beneath where a rig sank in the Gulf of Mexico last week.

Rear Admiral Mary Landry said 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day were now thought to be gushing into the sea 50 miles (80km) off Louisiana's coast.

A third leak had also been discovered at the site, Adm Landry said.

Earlier, a Coast Guard crew set fire to part of the oil slick, in an attempt to save environmentally fragile wetlands.

The "controlled burn" of surface oil took place in an area about 30 miles (50km) east of the Mississippi river delta, officials said.

Weather forecasters have meanwhile warned that changing winds could drive the oil slick ashore by Friday night.

The leak now appears so great that it's calculated that in less than two months it could match the 11m-gallon spill from the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Alaska in 1989.

President briefed

Adm Landry said experts from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had increased their estimate for the leak based on aerial surveys, applying dispersants, studying the trajectory of the slick, local weather conditions, and other factors.

Andy Gallacher
Andy Gallacher, BBC News, Venice, Louisiana

Despite efforts to burn off the oil, the crews here are now battling against the odds.

The US Coast Guard's discovery of another leak spewing oil from the collapsed rig has many here bracing for an environmental disaster on a huge scale.

An estimated 5,000 barrels of oil a day are now pouring into the Gulf of Mexico and forecasters say a new weather front could push the slick towards this coastline at an even faster rate. The state of Louisiana is now asking for emergency assistance as the oil slick draws closer.

It now seems inevitable that Louisiana's coastline will be hit and at least another two states could be affected.

"This is not an exact science when we estimate the amount of oil. However, the NOAA is telling me now they'd prefer we use at least 5,000 barrels a day," she told reporters in New Orleans.

Adm Landry also said she had been told of "a new location of an additional breach in the riser of the deep underwater well", about 5,000ft (1,525m) under the surface.

President Barack Obama had been briefed on the new developments, and the government had offered to have the defence department help contain the spill, she added.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has requested emergency assistance from the federal government.

"Our top priority is to protect our citizens and the environment. These resources are critical to mitigating the impact of the oil spill on our coast," he said in a statement.

The oil slick currently has a circumference of about 600 miles (970km) and covers about 28,600 sq miles (74,100 sq km). Its leading edge is now only 20 miles (32km) east of the mouth of the Mississippi.

The first of the leaks causing it were found on Saturday, four days after the Deepwater Horizon platform, to which the pipe was attached, exploded and sank.

Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead after the worst oil rig disaster in almost a decade.

1991: 520m gallons were deliberately released from Iraqi oil tankers during the first Gulf War to impede the US invasion
1979: 140m gallons were spilt over nine months after a well blow-out in the Bay of Campeche off Mexico's coast
1979: 90m gallons leaked from a Greek oil tanker after it collided with another ship off the coast of Trinidad
1983: 80m gallons leaked into the Gulf over several months after a tanker collided with a drilling platform
1989: 11m gallons were spilt into Alaska's Prince William Sound in the Exxon Valdez disaster

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In pictures: Efforts to contain leak

On Tuesday Adm Landry, who is in charge of the clean-up effort, warned that work on sealing the leaking well using robotic submersibles might take months, and that the Coast Guard would attempt to set light to much of the oil.

With the spill moving towards Louisiana's coast, which contains some 40% of the nation's wetlands and spawning grounds for countless fish and birds, she said a "controlled burn" of oil contained by special booms could limit the impact.

Environmental experts say animals nearby might be affected by toxic fumes, but perhaps not as much as if they were coated in oil.

On Wednesday afternoon, two vessels dispatched by the Coast Guard and the British oil company BP - which had hired the sunken rig - swept the thickest concentrations of oil into a fire-resistant boom.

They then towed it to a five-mile "burn zone" set up inside the slick, where it was set alight shortly before nightfall and allowed to burn.

If the test is deemed successful, BP is expected to continue the controlled burns as long as the weather conditions are favourable.

Possible solutions

The move came after BP said it had not been able to activate a device known as a blow-out preventer, designed to stop oil flow in an emergency.

Doug Suttles, the chief operating officer for exploration and production at BP, said it had not yet given up on engaging the valve, but was considering other possible solutions.

These include placing a dome directly over the leaks to catch the oil and send it up to the surface, where it could be collected by ships. This has only been done in shallow water before and is still two to four weeks from being operational.

BP will also begin drilling a "relief well" intersecting the original well, but it is also experimental and could take two to three months to stop the flow.

Forty-nine vessels - oil skimmers, tugboats barges and special recovery boats that separate oil from water - were working to round up oil, BP said.