News briefs

Issue 

United States: Panetta admits Iran not developing nukes

“U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta let slip on Sunday the big open secret that Washington war hawks don’t want widely known: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons,” RawStory.com reported on January 9.

The article said: “Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Panetta admitted that despite all the rhetoric, Iran is not pursuing the ability to split atoms with weapons, saying it is instead pursuing 'a nuclear capability.'

“That 'capability' falls in line with what Iran has said for years: that it is developing nuclear energy facilities, not nuclear weapons.”

Panetta told the program: “I think the pressure of the sanctions, the diplomatic pressures from everywhere, Europe, the United States, elsewhere, it’s working to put pressure on them. To make them understand that they cannot continue to do what they’re doing.

“Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

United States: Growing numbers see rich-poor conflict

The issue of class conflict “has captured a growing share of the national consciousness” in the United States, PewSocialTrends.org said on January 11.

The site said: “A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are 'very strong' or 'strong' conflicts between the rich and the poor ― an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.

“Not only have perceptions of class conflict grown more prevalent; so, too, has the belief that these disputes are intense. According to the new survey, three-in-ten Americans (30%) say there are 'very strong conflicts' between poor people and rich people. That is double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009 and the largest share expressing this opinion since the question was first asked in 1987.

“As a result, in the public’s evaluations of divisions within American society, conflicts between rich and poor now rank ahead of three other potential sources of group tension ― between immigrants and the native born; between blacks and whites; and between young and old. Back in 2009, more survey respondents said there were strong conflicts between immigrants and the native born than said the same about the rich and the poor.”

United States: 'Occupy' named word of the year

The American Dialect Society (ADS) has voted “occupy” as its the word of the year for 2011 at its 22nd annual “word of the year” vote held in Portland, AmericanDialect.org said on January 6.

Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the ADS, said: “It’s a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement.

“The movement itself was powered by the word.”

Members in the ADS, a 122-year-old organisation, include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars.

The site said: “In a companion vote, sibling organization the American Name Society voted 'Arab Spring' as Name of the Year for 2011 in its eighth annual name-of-the-year contest.”

United States: Fracking blamed for earthquakes

A United States seismologist investigating a series of 11 earthquakes since last March says a well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling in north-eastern Ohio almost certainly caused the minor quakes in the Youngstown area, Associated Press.

John Armbruster said that, despite the well now being closed, it may take a year for the related rumblings to dissipate.

AP said the well's owner, Northstar Disposal Services, had agreed to stop as a precaution while authorities assessed any potential links to the quakes.

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