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Japan Urges Limit on Cell Phone Use by Kids

(quote)

TOKYO (AFP) — A Japanese government panel called on parents and schools Monday to help limit the use of mobile phones by children to prevent them from accessing "harmful" information on websites. The advisory council on education made the proposal to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda as children become more prone to crimes involving dating websites and bullying on Internet school bulletin boards. The panel said it would urge "parents, schools and other people concerned to cooperate in preventing elementary and junior high school students from using mobile phones unless it is necessary." It called for limiting mobile phone use just to calls.

These measures are necessary to "protect children from harmful information and other negative influence involving the use of mobile phones" including "crimes and bullying," the report said. Press reports have linked some crimes by children to dating websites. "It is true that the use of mobile phones causes various problems," Fukuda told reporters. "I think the panel has made timely discussions on the problem." He added: "First of all, I wonder if there is any need for children to possess mobile phones."

While about a third of Japanese primary school students aged 7-12 use mobiles, by the time they get to high school that figure rises to 96 percent, according to a government survey last December. There are fears for students' safety as only about one percent of them have blocks on potentially harmful material, meaning they could reveal personal information, making them prey for fraudsters and pedophiles. But even on protected sites such as school bulletin boards, bullies are able to anonymously post comments without teacher oversight or intervention.

(unquote)

Images Courtesy of AFP and blog.pcnews.ro

Japan panel urges children to use mobiles only when necessary

a third of Japanese primary school students aged 7-12 use mobiles

Original Source: AFP

Social Networks and Kicking Bad Habits - Quitting Smoking Can Be Contagious

Original Source: Reuters

(quote)

The same team of experts who found that obesity may be socially contagious said they found similar patterns among smokers, with people clearly influencing others in their social and family networks. In fact, the most isolated people are now those who remain the most addicted as their personal networks get pushed to the fringes, they wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School in Boston and Dr. James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, studied 12,067 people who have been taking part in the Framingham study -- a study of the health and habits of nearly an entire town in Massachusetts -- for the past 32 years. "We've found that when you analyze large social networks, entire pockets of people who might not know each other all quit smoking at once," Christakis said in a statement. "What appears to happen is that people quit in droves."

Smoking is becoming increasingly less common in the United States. In 1965, 42 percent of the population smoked, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has fallen to around 20 percent. When the Framingham study started, around 37 percent of adults smoked. Spouses had strong effects -- when someone quit, his or her spouse was 67 percent less likely to continue smoking. Quitters influenced their brothers or sisters -- siblings were 25 percent less likely to smoke if one of them quit, while the friend of someone who kicked the habit was 36 percent less likely to smoke. Even co-workers are influential -- in small firms, a quitter could decrease smoking among peers by 34 percent.

Richard Suzman, who directs behavioral studies at the National Institute of Aging, said the research could influence policy. "The results suggest new and probably more powerful approaches to changing health behaviors, such as smoking, by careful targeting of small peer groups as well as single individuals," he said.

(unquote)

Images courtesy of Reuters and iStockPhoto

kicking the habit may be contagious

social influence on healthy behavior

EU: Google Maps Street View vs. privacy laws - people walking in street captured by photos

Original Source: BusinessWeek

(quote)

Global search engine colossus Google has been warned by the EU data protection chief that the "Street View" feature on its Google Maps service could run up against European privacy laws if it launches in EU countries. Peter Hustinx, the EU data protection supervisor, told reporters while presenting his annual data protection report on Thursday (15 May) that if Google launched such a feature in Europe, the company would first have to comply with European privacy legislation, which in many member states is stricter than in the United States.

Street View allows users of Google's online map service to have a full-colour, 360-degree look around city streets. Users can digitally walk up and down the virtual street, which is built from composites of photographs taken by roaming Google cars with roof-mounted cameras. The service, already launched for many US and Canadian cities, has wowed users, who report that Street View allows them to digitally make a trip to cities they have always wanted to visit. At the same time, privacy concerns have arisen, as people walking down a street are also captured by the photographs.

"Complying with European data protection law is going to be part of their business success or failure," Mr Hustinx added. "If they would ignore it, it is likely to lead to [court] cases, and I think they would be hit hard." The company has not launched the service in Europe yet, although it has announced plans to do so next year, and Google cars snapping away photos of the vias and rues of Rome and Paris have already been spotted.  read more »

French President Sent Emotional Letter to Disabled Torch Carrier Attacked during Paris Relay

(quote)

PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent an emotional letter to a disabled Chinese woman who was attacked while carrying the Olympic torch in Paris, his office said Monday.

The letter to "Mademoiselle Jin Jing" hailed her courage and criticized the "inadmissible" attack on her by a pro-Tibet protester during the flame relay earlier this month.

"I want to tell you all my emotion over the way you were jostled in Paris on April 7 when you were carrying the Olympic flame," Sarkozy wrote in the letter, which was dated Saturday. The president of the French Senate gave the letter to Jin on Monday in Shanghai.

Sarkozy noted the "bitterness" in China over the attack, and insisted that several incidents by protesters during the Paris stopover "do not reflect the feelings of my countrymen toward the Chinese people."

Outrage over what is portrayed as foreign interference in Tibet fanned protests across China over the weekend - some directed at French supermarket chain Carrefour.

Sarkozy also is dispatching his top diplomatic envoy to Beijing this week, seen by some as a bid to limit the damage to France's reputation - and businesses - in China.

"I have the impression that the president and the government are trying to cling to the branches after the calamitous episode when the flame came through Paris," said opposition party legislator Andre Gerin.

"It's a way of restoring France's image when it comes to the respect that we owe China," added Gerin, who is also vice-president of the "Friendship China" group at the National Assembly.

Christian Poncelet, president of the French Senate, gave the letter to the Chinese torchbearer Monday as he arrived for a weeklong visit to China, the first of a string of high-level French visits to the country.

In the letter, Sarkozy said he would like Jin to return to Paris as his "personal guest" in the coming weeks "to try to erase this painful moment."

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Related Article:
(quote)

"I think this is damaging to the Olympic movement. I think it is very sad. I get angry," said IOC vice-president Gunilla Lindberg. "Using the torch this way is almost a crime."

"I will be telling people that for every protester, there are a million Americans who support the Games and want them to be a success," DeFrantz said.

"This is a day about sports and about peace. Why are they making this about politics?" said a 25-year-old economics student who lives in Paris.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of ChinaRen.com

Paris Police at Olympic Torch Relay

Olympic Torch Carrier in Wheelchair Attacked during Paris Relay

Original Source

47% of Canadians Want Their Soldiers To Leave Afghanistan Immediately

"The Bush Administration has praised Canada's conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, for his commitment to the war. But its toll has unnerved Canadian citizens and opposition leaders. A recent poll showed that 47% of Canadians wanted their soldiers to leave Afghanistan immediately, and only 17% supported maintaining a combat role.

The Afghan war had broad public support in Canada in 2002, but is now seen as one front in George W. Bush's hugely unpopular "war on terror." The discontent also has deeper roots.

Perhaps most important, Canadians do not see the Afghan conflict as directly relevant to their own security. Al-Qaeda has never staged an attack on Canadian soil…Canadians worry that fighting alongside the U.S. will increase--not decrease--the risk that they will become a target. "

Images courtesy of Time

poll shows 47% of Canadians want their soldiers to leave Afghanistan immediately

Canadian Foreign Minister talks with Canadian soldiers

Original Source

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