US lines up $2bn more aid to Pakistan

The Obama administration is lining up at least $2 billion in fresh, new military aid to Pakistan even as it is lobbying for billions of dollars in defence sales to India ahead of the US President’s visit to the region early November. Two weeks before the India trip however, the US is all set to shower yet another round of military largesse on its dubious ally, ostensibly to help it fight extremists, who by Washington’s own accounts are fostered, protected and promoted by Pakistan.

The aid package is set to be announced during the US-Pakistan “strategic dialogue” the second this year taking place this week in Washington DC. The arms bonanza comes two weeks after Indian defence minister AK Anthony conveyed New Delhi’s apprehensions to Washington that US arms to Pakistan are invariably lined up against India, something even the Obama administration has on occasions recognized.

It also comes amid stunning disclosures pointing to direct ISI (and therefore the Pakistani state’s) involvement in the 26/11 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, which sites President Obama is expected to visit on November 06. On top of this, a top Nato official said this week that Osama Bin Laden was living in “relative comfort” in Pakistan, protected by locals and some members of the country’s intelligence agencies, following up similar charges earlier by secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

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Hackers can turn plane hijackers

A new breed of cyber terrorists has the capability of breaking into a plane’s sophisticated onboard computer systems forcing it to crash, a new security document has warned.  They could also target critical infrastructure such as nuclear power stations and electricity supplies, reports the Daily Mail. These hackers can be engaged by terror cells and foreign states to cause maximum damage, British PM David Cameron’s long-awaited National Security Strategy report said. The cyber threat makes it possible for a potential hijacker to carry out his attack without boarding the plane.

Officials confirmed that these computer-generated assaults, which involve individuals creating software viruses or rogue computer programs and emails, could bring down passenger planes. “We do not want to wait until planes are falling out of the skies before the address the issue,” an official said. Attacks in cyberspace can have a potentially devastating real-world effect, the document said, adding that military, industrial and economic targets, including critical services, could feasibly be disrupted by a capable adversary.

The British government is not the only one to identify cyber attacks as a problem. Last year, the Australian government set up a Computer Emergency Response Team as a single contact point on cyber security issues. It has received attention in the US as well.

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Shock therapy to drive away the blues

A device that emits a mild electric shock to people’s forehead nerves during sleep could help away the blues.  The cellphone-sized gadget is wired up to two electrodes that are stuck to the user’s forehead at bedtime. The current generated is so mild that sleep is rarely disturbed. Throughout the night, the device that transmits weak electrical current through the electrodes and into a nerve running just beneath the skin above the eyes, researchers said.

Called the trigeminal nerve, it extends up to the brain and experiments show that applying a mild electrical charge can have powerful healing effects, reports the Daily Mail. The technique of trigeminal nerve, stimulation is already used to ease facial pain in patients affected by neuralgia, a condition where sudden stabbing pains can strike the nerves in the head and face.

But the latest research by a team of experts at the University of California in Los Angeles in the US suggests stimulating nerves in the forehead could help thousands more people affected by depression. At the end of the study, patients reported 70% reduction in their symptoms, including better moods, more energy, sharper memory and no suicidal thoughts. If the tests are successful, the device could be available in the next two to three years. Electroconvulsive therapy has the strongest supporting data among treatments tested to help patients who do not respond to medications for depression, according to guidelines published by the American Psychiatric Association.

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