Churches In England Are Being Converted To Bars

At one church, the only thing being worshipped is beer -- at another, gleaming cars are on sale. Increasingly, it seems, a different kind of conversion is taking place at Britain's churches.
Thanks to a steady decline in religion and the high costs of maintaining these historic buildings, a rising number of churches are being given new lives that may have horrified their founders.
Behind the imposing red-brick facade of one Presbyterian church in north London's upmarket Muswell Hill district, throbbing pop music and barrels of Guinness are the first clues that there's a new congregation.
The soaring Gothic arches remain but instead of an altar there's a huge bar, while tables, stools and slot-machines stand in place of the pews. Built in 1902, the church's beautiful exterior remains unchanged. Inside, it's an Irish pub.
"If it was a church, there would be only two or three people here -- but on Fridays and Saturdays, it's packed," said John Earl, a construction worker, as he nursed a pint.
"It is weird," he admitted. "I feel I kind of have to respect it. I don't mind being drunk here, but I don't want people carving the pillars."

At another table, 33-year-old Yamini pronounced the pub "beautiful".
"It has a different look from the other pubs," she said as she sipped red wine with a friend. "And it's being used instead of being abandoned."
Religious worship has been declining in Britain for years, and church authorities are increasingly forced to rethink the management of their huge -- and very expensive -- estates.
Policy varies between denominations. The dominant Church of England has strict rules on conversions meaning a building can only be sold if a committee approves its future use, after a lengthy process.
"Churches can't be used for sex shops, gambling premises and things like that," explained Jeremy Tipping, manager of the Church of England's Closed Churches Team.
But a wide range of other church occupants have been given the nod -- a climbing centre in the city of Manchester; a circus school in Bristol, where trapezes hang from the rafters; a supermarket, a library, a Sikh temple.
"A church always looks like a church, no matter what it's used for," Tipping told AFP.
"When it has a tower and a spire and arched windows, the association will always be with the Church of England -- so they are very, very sensitive that any future use must be one which is appropriate."

Irreligious conversions? 

But tough regulations have not stopped conversions from throwing up a few embarrassments for the Church of England.
A display of "erotic" art at one church-turned-gallery prompted an outcry amongst some parishioners, Tipping recalled.
Nor is the Catholic Church immune to such predicaments -- its rules are less strict, leaving decisions about conversions up to local dioceses rather than a national committee.
In the northwestern city of Liverpool, St Peter's Church now houses a restaurant which hosts evenings celebrating that festival of all things ungodly, Halloween.
"It's deeply inappropriate and offensive for lots of Catholics," said Sophie Andreae, a committee vice-chairwoman at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
The Church of England knocked down nearly 500 churches between 1969 and 2011, while more than 1,000 were de-consecrated and sold or rented out -- bringing in a much-needed £47 million.
The most common fate of ex-churches is to be transformed into homes -- sometimes luxury ones, such as the ultra-modern seven-bedroom London house, complete with swimming pool, which went on the market for £50 million last year. 

Rachel Chudley, a 28-year-old interior designer, bought a flat in an east London church four years ago. It's far more modest than the £50 million mansion, but lacks none of the charm, with stone faces carved into the frames of her spectacular arched windows.
"We're right up at the top of the church, at the steeple," she said as she took AFP on a guided tour. "My family has joked and said, 'Rachel is closer to heaven now!'"
Chudley, an agnostic, admitted that she sometimes wonders if it's disrespectful to live in a church.
"Sometimes I feel a bit bad because I think, 'Oh God, am I being sacrilegious?" she laughed.
But she admits she has taken "some liberties" with the place. A sculpture of a pierced penis sits in pride of place in her living room.

US Air Force fires nine in nuclear missile cheating scandal

The US Air Force said Thursday it sacked nine nuclear missile officers and will discipline dozens of others over an exam cheating scandal that has sparked concerns about lax ethics.

The officers, including chiefs of four squadrons, were all working at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana, which has been rocked by cheating allegations that implicated up to 100 airmen.
"Nine officers in leadership positions at Malmstrom were recommended for removal," Air Force Secretary Deborah James told a news conference.

An internal investigation had found that the commanders had not engaged in any test cheating but had "failed to provide adequate oversight of their crew force," James said.
A tenth officer had submitted his resignation over the case, she said.

A top general overseeing nuclear forces said the cheating stemmed in part from a stifling atmosphere created by commanders who over-emphasized perfect test scores for the missile launch officers.

"Although the required test score is 90 percent, crew members felt pressure to score 100 percent on each and every test," Lieutenant General Stephen Wilson said at the same news conference.

"They felt compelled to cheat to get a perfect score," he said.

The "zero-defect" approach was unrealistic and unnecessary, as the rules for managing the ballistic missiles had redundancies and other automatic safeguards, Wilson said.

"Leaders lost sight of the fact that execution in the field is more important than what happens in the class room," he said.

The cheating was first uncovered in January during an unrelated investigation into illegal drugs. The outcome of that drug probe is still pending.

Out of 100 officers potentially linked to the cheating, nine have since been cleared in an investigation, James said.

Another nine cases were being examined separately by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Of those, eight could involve criminal charges related to mishandling classified information -- possibly the exam materials.

About 30 to 40 officers will be retrained and allowed to return to duty to the missile force, while the remainder will face disciplinary action that could include being discharged from the military, officials said.

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel has expressed deep disappointment over the cheating and voiced a wider concern over unethical conduct across the armed forces, after a spate of embarrassing scandals.

Hagel this week appointed a senior naval officer, Rear Admiral Margaret Klein, to serve as a special adviser looking at ethics and "character" issues.

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Deadly Ebola now ‘a regional threat’, as virus spreads to Guinea capital

The outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus said to have already claimed 63 lives in rural Guinea has now spread to the West African nation’s capital, Conakry, with the Health Ministry ringing the alarm and officials calling it a “threat to regional security.”
A total of four capital dwellers have fallen victim to the hemorrhagic fever – one of the deadliest viruses known to man. They are currently in quarantine, Reuters reports, citing local Health Minister Remy Lamah.
The origin of the outbreak in Conakry appears to be an old man who visited a place about 150km away from the previously-identified outbreaks. After his funeral, four of his brothers started showing similar symptoms, and were immediately quarantined.
Medical sources also confirmed two staff members at the Kipe University Hospital in Conakry are exhibiting signs of the hemorrhagic fever. This is where the initial victims were treated upon discovery of suspicious symptoms.
After the virus claimed 63 lives in the rural Forest region of Guinea, the spread to Conakry, with its population of 2 million – and an international airport – is seen as a serious escalation by officials. And the problem is beginning to affect the western region of Africa as well, with at least six Guinean arrivals dead in Sierra Leone and Liberia from symptoms closely resembling Ebola.
It is a very infectious disease whose symptoms involve diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding among other things, and it kills between 25 and 90 percent of those who fall victim to it, depending on the virus’s strain.
And the disease hadn’t been endemic to Guinea; it is more commonly witnessed in Congo, Uganda and Sudan – which is in the north-east. The first fatal outbreak in West Africa dates back to early February, when it took poorly equipped health authorities almost six weeks to identify the symptoms and scramble to contain them. But by then it was too late. The virus’s incubation period is three weeks.
The UN has now been brought in to help deal with the situation, as have a number of NGOs. This weekend saw Doctors without Borders (MSF) bring in 33 tons of aid to help treatment and containment efforts.
Local airline Gambia Bird has announced breaks and delays in services to Conakry to be in place by Sunday.
Sanitary controls in neighboring countries are being activated, and border crossings have been closed to the north, with Mauritania, who only left two border posts open with Senegal.
The search for any vaccine or drug has thus far been hampered by the disease’s rarity. But health experts warn against obvious dangers, such as eating fruit bats. The animal is a local delicacy, but is a widely-known potential carrier of the disease. Bush meat is another cause for concern. Both types of meat have now been banned – as are public funerals, where proximity to the body is often the cause for the infection of groups of people.
The virus is incredibly contagious. It can spread through contact with contaminated corpses – as in the case of the last outbreak involving the four men – as well as direct contact with blood, feces and sweat. It’s not hard to picture a nightmare scenario in a country prone to hot weather.
But the spread itself can come much more unexpectedly as well. All it takes is one infected plane passenger, and the prospects are truly harrowing: the local Health Ministry in Canada's Saskatchewan province put a man and his entire family in quarantine after he exhibited disturbing symptoms upon arrival from Africa by plane.
The virus first appeared in 1976 in the DRC (formerly Zaire), and has since killed 1,500 people. Its name takes from a river in northern Congo.

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North Korea test-fires mid-range missiles

It is the first launch of a Nodong missile since 2009 and marks a step up from the short-range rockets Pyongyang has fired in recent weeks.
The launches also came on the fourth anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean warship.
Washington and Seoul have condemned the launch, which violates UN resolutions.
The US State Department described the launch as "a troubling and provocative escalation".
"We urge North Korea to exercise restraint and refrain from further threatening actions," deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.
'Grave provocation'
The South Korean defence ministry said the missiles were fired from the Suckon region north of Pyongyang and flew for about 650km (400 miles) before falling into the sea off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula.
"This missile is capable of hitting not only most of Japan but also Russia and China," ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.
The ministry described it as a "grave provocation".
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched multiple short-range missiles - actions which have coincided with annual US-South Korea military exercises.
But this is the first launch of a Nodong missile - which has a range of about 1,000km - since 2009. A similar launch also took place in 2006.
Ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang are banned by the United Nations.
North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, the most recent in February 2013. It is also developing a three-stage missile that experts believe could be capable of hitting parts of the US.
But it is not yet believed to have the expertise to miniaturise a nuclear weapon so it could be delivered via a missile.
The US State Department said North Korea did not issue any maritime notification warning of its latest test.
"We are closely co-ordinating with our allies and partners, including in the UN Security Council, to take the appropriate measures in response to this latest provocation and to address the threat to global security posed by the DPRK's [North Korea's] nuclear and ballistic missile programmes," the statement said.
The launches took place in the early hours of Wednesday, which marks four years since South Korea's Cheonan warship sank with the loss of 46 lives near the disputed inter-Korean western maritime border.
South Korea says North Korea torpedoed the ship. North Korea denies any role in the incident.
They also came just hours after US President Barack Obama met his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the nuclear summit in The Hague for talks that focused on North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
It was the first meeting between Ms Park and Mr Abe since both took office, amid strained ties over historical and territorial issues.
Mr Obama pledged his "unwavering commitment" to Tokyo and Seoul in the face of North Korea's nuclear programme.
Pyongyang says its rocket tests are self-defence exercises and says the military drills by Washington and Seoul are invasion preparations.

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Death toll from large Washington mudslide raised to 16

Officials in Washington confirmed Tuesday evening that searchers had recovered an additional 8 bodies following a massive mudslide three days ago, reported the AP. 

The total number of deaths so far currently stands at 16, as authorities continue to comb through the debris field of the 49 structures devastated by the landslide in a rural area 55 miles north of the city of Seattle. 

So far search teams continue to operate off a list of 176 individuals who remained unaccounted for, though some of these may be duplicates. 

Another 8 bodies were believed located at the scene, which would bring the death toll to 24 once confirmed.

10,000 UK schools affected by teacher strike

A national teachers’ strike taking place across England and Wales on Wednesday is affecting 10,000 schools, including in London, Oxford city and Yorkshire, which have all been closed to their students. 

The National Union of Teachers is protesting working conditions, the potential introduction of performance-related pay and pensions, with UT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney labeling the industrial action a ‘last resort’, criticizing Education Secretary Michael Gove’s policies for ‘exhausting and demoralizing’ teaching staff.

Egypt prosecutor orders trial of 919 Muslim Brotherhood members

Egypt’s state prosecutor has ordered the trial of 919 Muslim Brotherhood supporters who are being charged with terrorism and murder, according to the country’s state news agency. 

The announcement was made shortly after 528 Morsi supporters were sentenced to death, having been charged with the killing of a policeman when a station was attacked last summer. 

On Wednesday protesters – the majority of whom were university students – took to the streets in anger at the death sentences. 

The rallies quickly became violent, and one 18-year-old was killed at Cairo University, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

Ebola fever that killed over 60 in Guinea stopped from spreading authorities say

Authorities in Guinea declared they have managed to stop an outbreak of deadly Ebola fever from spreading while the deaths from suspected infections rose to at least 63. 

In neighboring Liberia authorities also recorded eight suspected cases of Ebola, most of them were people who crossed the border from Guinea. 

Guinean authorities have put the suspected patients in quarantine in the districts of Guekedou, Macenta, Nzerekore and Kissidougou. 

It is believed that bats are the main source of the virus, but it is yet not clear how it crossed the continent from Sudan, Congo and Uganda.

Jordanian king vows to protect Jerusalem

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said his country will protect Jerusalem and stand up to “Israeli violations,” in a speech to the Arab Summit in Kuwait Tuesday.

Abdullah’s speech to the Arab League Summit in Kuwait came as tensions between Israel and Jordan have bubbled up over demands by Knesset lawmakers that Israel impose sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
Jordan “will work to help Jerusalem’s Arab population stay on their land, support their steadfastness, strengthen their presence and stand up to address Israeli violations and measures, particularly those targeting Al Aqsa Mosque, by all available means and in coordination with our brothers in the State of Palestine,” Abdullah said, referring to the mosque atop the disputed holy site.
A Knesset debate in February on Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount set off intense criticism in the Arab world, particularly from Jordan, where Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur warned that Amman might review its peace agreement with Israel.
Jordan considers itself custodian of the holy site, which is administered by the Islamic Waqf trust.
“Jordan will … continue to carry out its religious and historical duty of preserving Jerusalem and its holy Islamic and Christian sites,” he said.
Israeli lawmakers have raised objections to a restriction barring Jewish prayer atop the mount, considered the holiest site in Jerusalem, for fear that it would provoke a violent reaction from Muslims.
Religious Jews visiting the Temple Mount, March 27, 2013. (photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Religious Jews visiting the Temple Mount, March 27, 2013. (photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Abdullah also touted the importance of achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, calling it the basis for “achieving comprehensive peace and enrooting security and stability in the Middle East.”
He added that any peace agreement needed to “uphold Jordan’s higher interests.”
“Today the international community is required to assume its responsibilities, move immediately to compel Israel to stop its unilateral policies and measures and urge it to take advantage of the Arab Peace Initiative and the historic opportunity available now to achieve peace,” he said.


G7 countries snub Putin and refuse to attend planned G8 summit in Russia

Western countries and Japan have suspended their 16-year collaboration with Russia in the G8 group in response to the annexation of Crimea and have threatened sweeping sanctions in the event of any Russian military moves in the region.
The move, a clear and deliberate break from the post-Soviet status quo, was intended to underline Russian isolation. Leaders from the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan met in The Hague as the G7 for the first time since Russian was brought into the group in 1998 to seal east-west co-operation and lay the cold war to rest.
The G7 leaders issued a joint statement, under the title of the Hague Declaration,saying they would not attend a planned G8 summit in Sochi in June but would instead convene without Russia in Brussels. The group's foreign ministers would also boycott a planned G8 meeting in Moscow in April. The declaration said Russia's actions were not consistent with the "shared beliefs and shared responsibilities" that had made the formation of the G8 possible.
As Russian troops appeared to mass on Ukraine's eastern border, the G7 statement hinted at much broader sanctions if Russia made further expansionist moves.
"We remain ready to intensify actions including co-ordinated sectoral sanctions that will have an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy, if Russia continues to escalate this situation," the statement said.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, shrugged off the loss of G8 membership as being inconsequential. "The G8 is an informal club, with no formal membership, so no one can be expelled from it. If our western partners believe that such format is no longer needed, so be it. We aren't clinging for that format and we won't see a big problem if there are no such meetings for a year, or a year-and-half," said Lavrov after his first meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Andrii Deshchytsia, at the margins of the global Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands.
The Ukrainian embassy in The Hague said in its account of the meeting: "Lavrov stressed that Russia has no intention of using military force in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. The two sides agreed to hold emergency consultations at the level of the ministries of foreign affairs and the ministries of defence of both countries in the case of exacerbation of the situation."
Lavrov said little about the meeting but confirmed he had agreed to maintain contacts with the Kiev government.
Before arriving in The Hague, David Cameron has said that Britain and its Nato allies would help bolster the defences of the alliance's Baltic members, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, who have Russian minorities and which fear destabilisation by Moscow.
Obama also sought to deepen Russian isolation in a meeting in The Hague with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, in which he asked that Beijing at least maintain its stance of neutrality in the stand-off and continue to reaffirm its commitment to the rule of international law and non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states.
US officials acknowledged that Xi had given little by way of formal response to the request, but the Chinese leader appeared to go out of his way to emphasise a warm and personal relationship with Barack Obama, heaping praise on the US president's wife and daughters who have just visited China and jokingly conveyed Michelle Obama's greetings to her husband.
The US deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, stressed that the crisis was not a return to the cold war, because this time Moscow stood virtually alone. "The fact is Russia is leading no bloc of countries. There's no ideological entity, like communism, that Russia is leading that has global appeal," Rhodes said. "There's no bloc of nations, like the Warsaw Pact, that they're leading. They're isolated in what they're doing in Ukraine. And I think that's very much the message that we want to send at the G7, with the EU, with Nato over the course of the next several days."
Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, described the winding up of the G8 as a "huge blow" adding that Obama had made it clear that "it will then be hard to revive that in the immediate future".
Hague insisted that Britain would play a wholehearted part in the tightening of sanctions if the crisis escalated, despite potential economic costs to the UK.
He said tougher sanctions would mean that "many countries bear the cost of that in many ways" but "we have to be prepared to do that".
"Every country would have to do what is necessary if more far-reaching sanctions were applied, accepting that that would affect different economies in different ways," he said. "The United Kingdom is certainly prepared to do that. There is nothing that other countries in Europe have proposed that we have blocked. The United Kingdom is fully prepared to play its full part."
Shortly before his meeting with Lavrov, Deshchytsia, the acting Ukrainian foreign minister, had said his government had been seeking a peaceful settlement to a crisis that was in imminent danger of escalating.
"We wanted to find out what they are thinking about Ukraine and what they are thinking of their plans towards Ukraine," Deshchytsia said. "We want to live peacefully with Russia. We want our nations to coexist and they will coexist. So we wanted to sit down around the table and find a solution, maybe drink vodka. But since we don't know their plans, the possibility for a military intervention is very high taking into consideration the intel information about the deployment of a very big number of Russian troops on the eastern borders of Ukraine."
"We are very much worried about the concentration of troops on our eastern borders but at the same time we are ready to defend our homeland. Our military and civilians living in eastern Ukraine – Ukrainians, Russians other nationalities - are ready to defend their homeland, and our military is also ready to defend Ukraine."


Amateur fossil hunter accidentally discovers bone of prehistoric sea giant

At first, Gregory Harpel thought the dark-brown object he found was just a stone. But it was oddly placed, resting in an isolated spot on a grassy embankment along a creek in Monmouth County, N.J. A closer look confirmed he had found something much more interesting. 
"I started seeing the little holes in the bone that the blood vessels go through," said Harpel, an amateur fossil hunter who made this discovery in 2012. "I thought maybe it was a dinosaur of some sort."
The fossil didn't turn out to be from a dinosaur. But thanks to a number of coincidences, Harpel had just made an unprecedented discovery that would reveal the existence of an ancient ocean giant.  
At the New Jersey State Museum, David Parris, curator of natural history, was able to identify the mystery object: It was the lower half of an upper forelimb bone of a sea turtle that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. Parris remembered looking at another broken sea-turtle forelimb bone in a collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia.
"He said offhandedly, 'Maybe we ought to take it to the Academy [of Natural Sciences] and see if it fits," said Jason Schein, the assistant natural history curator at the New Jersey State Museum. "Dave was half joking, thinking that could never, ever happen."
Even so, Schein brought Harpel's bone to the Academy. They put the two pieces of fossilized bone together, and aside from a few chips around the edge of the break, they fit perfectly. Harpel's half would have attached to the turtle's elbow, while the Academy's half would have attached to its shoulder, forming a complete bone known as the humerus.
The history behind the Academy's piece of bone makes this story even more extraordinary. It's not clear when or how the 202-year-old Academy acquired the fossil, but the first scientific description of it in 1849 identified it as belonging to an ancient sea turtle. This means the first half of this sea-turtle fossil was discovered at least 163 years, and most likely more, before Harpel found the second half. [6 Strange Species Discovered in Museums]
"Unfortunately, things were not as well documented in those days," said Ted Daeschler, associate curator of vertebrate zoology at the Academy.
The first half of a humerus offered enough information that the species to which it belonged could be named Atlantochelys mortoni. For more than 160 years, it remained the only piece of this turtle ever found.
An unprecedented discoveryPaleontologists can sometimes return to the site where a specimen was removed and find other fossils missed by the earlier excavation. And pieces of museum specimens can be misplaced and then rediscovered many years later. "But no one has ever found another part of a single bone 163 years apart," Schein said. "To say this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience is shortchanging it, because it has never happened before."
The paleontologists think the bone was buried in one piece and then broke in two when it eroded from its original burial. Reunited, these halves tell paleontologists more about the turtle to which they belonged. "It turns out to be an amazing animal," Daeschler said.
Based on the size of the full humerus, the researchers can estimate the size of the turtle, which they put at about 9.8 feet from nose to tail. That makes the animal among the largest sea turtles ever to have lived. The loggerhead turtle appears to be its closest living relative, he said.
Because of the lack of records for the Academy's half of the fossil, paleontologists had no idea what rock formation produced it. Harpel's discovery made it possible for them to pinpoint the Mount Laurel Formation, which was deposited below a shallow sea, in which sharks and now-extinct marine reptiles called mosasaurs also swam, about 75 million years ago.
"It's all part of painting a picture of the past," Daeschler said. "I think those are the really important scientific discoveries here."
The researchers describe the discovery in the 2014 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

WHO: air pollution responsible for 1 in 8 global deaths

According to a World Health Organization report released today, around 1 in 8 of total global deaths - 7 million deaths annually - are as a result of exposure to air pollution.
The new data challenges previous information on air pollution. The figure of 7 million more than doubles the previous estimate of annual air pollution-caused deaths, making air pollution now the world's largest single environmental health risk.
"The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes," says Dr. Maria Neira, director of the World Heath Organization's (WHO) Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
"Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe," she adds.
Air pollution's contribution to the development of respiratory diseases is well known, but WHO's findings also emphasize a more robust connection than has previously been reported between air pollution and cardiovascular disease and cancer.

New data 'more accurate' than previous estimates

WHO claim that the new figures are more accurate than previous estimates, because not only is more now known about the diseases influenced by air pollution, but also improved technology allows for better measurements of human exposure to air pollution.
This new approach combined satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements, data on pollution emissions and modeling of how pollution drifts in the air.
Industrial factory pipes releasing pollution into the air
"Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry," say WHO experts.
The study found that the countries with the most air pollution were the low- and middle-income countries in the southeast Asia and western Pacific regions. A total of 3.3 million deaths were linked to indoor air pollution in these countries, and 2.6 million deaths were related to outdoor air pollution.
During 2012 - the year in which the data was collected - WHO estimate that 4.3 million global deaths were linked to cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves. They also estimated that 3.7 million global deaths occurred as a result of outdoor air pollution.
There is an overlap of indoor and outdoor pollution, with some people being exposed to both types of pollution. So rather than add the two mortality figures together, WHO estimated that 7 million deaths in total were as a result of air pollution.
"Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents noncommunicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly," says Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director-general of Family, Women and Children's Health.
"Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution," Dr. Bustreo continues, "since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves."

Breakdown of air pollution-related deaths by disease

The WHO assessment also included a a breakdown of deaths attributed to air pollution-influenced diseases, the key points of which are reproduced below.
Outdoor air pollution-caused deaths:
  • Ischemic heart disease - 40%
  • Stroke - 40%
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - 11%
  • Lung cancer - 6%
  • Acute lower respiratory infections in children - 3%.
Indoor air pollution-caused deaths:
  • Stroke - 34%
  • Ischemic heart disease - 26%
  • COPD - 22%
  • Acute lower respiratory infections in children - 12%
  • Lung cancer - 6%.
Dr. Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, hopes that the new evidence presented by the report will contribute to policy improvements that may reduce future air pollution-related deaths:
"Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health care cost savings as well as climate gains. WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives."

Colorado girl banned from school after shaving head to support cancer-suffering pal allowed back in class

A Colorado child's act of compassion got her kicked out of school. But she was allowed back in Tuesday after stories about her dismissal appeared around the country.
Kamryn Renfro, a 9-year-old whose dear friend is battling a rare childhood cancer, wanted to show support by shaving her own head to match her pal's bald pate.
Renfro's parents gave their approval and the young girl headed proudly to school Monday to show her classmates what she'd done. But once there, she was told she was in violation of the Caprock Academy dress code and that she would not be allowed in class.
The girls, playing outside Monday afternoon in a Grand Junction park, said they didn't understand the school's actions.
"It felt like the right thing to do," Kamryn told KUSA-TV.
Her friend, 11-year-old Delaney Clements, said she now feels less like an object of derision, and loves that Kamryn now looks like her.
"It made me feel very special and that I'm not alone," Delaney said.
Fox reported the girl was back in school Tuesday. Caprock Academy, a public charter school with guidelines about what can be worn at school, did not immediately return a phone message left by the Daily News.
In a statement released Monday, administrators said "shaved heads are not permitted."
"It makes me sad because she was really happy to go back to school and show people what she did, but now that she didn't get to, she's kind of sad," said Delaney.
Delaney's mom thought Kamryn had done a very courageous thing and should have been praised for it.
"For a little girl to be really brave and want to shave her head in support of her friend, I thought that was a huge statement and it builds character in a child," she told the station.
School officials later said they would hold a special board of directors meeting to Tuesday to review the incident.

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Obama Seeking to Abolish Tomahawk, Hellfire Missile Programs

The president is seeking to cut two highly successful missile programs, which defense experts say have helped the U.S. Navy maintain military superiority for the past several decades. Obama's proposal they say would leave us with no functioning Tomahawk missiles past 2018.
The Tomahawk missile program—known as “the world’s most advanced cruise missile”—is set to be cut by $128 million under Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal and completely eliminated by fiscal year 2016, according to budget documents released by the Navy.
In addition to the monetary cuts to the program, the number of actual Tomahawk missiles acquired by the United States would drop significantly—from 196 last year to just 100 in 2015. The number will then drop to zero in 2016.
The Navy will also be forced to cancel its acquisition of the well-regarded and highly effective Hellfire missiles in 2015, according to Obama’s proposal.
The proposed elimination of these missile programs came as a shock to lawmakers and military experts, who warned ending cutting these missiles would significantly erode America’s ability to deter enemy forces.
“The administration’s proposed budget dramatically under-resources our investments in munitions and leaves the Defense Department with dangerous gaps in key areas, like Tomahawk and Hellfire missiles,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), a member of House Armed Services Committee.