The truth is out there: 31/10/2009

A weekly look at the world
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The Independent Online

Down Under, scientists have found 850 new species of subterranean animals. The team of 18 scientists found the mostly blind, colourless creatures in a series of underground lakes, caves and micro-caverns in the Australian outback according to National Geographic.

The mystery of the severed foot deepened this week as another unidentified appendage washed up on the shores of British Columbia – it is the seventh in two years. Two men found the foot on Richmond beach on Tuesday evening, reports the Vancouver Sun. Though some body parts have been identified since the first was found in August 2007, theories remain rife about the cause. Popular ones include boat and plane crashes, underworld dealings, serial killings and even the 2004 tsunami. marked the return of Halloween this week with a gruesome graph of global murder rates identifying Colombia, El Salvador and Ivory Coast as the most bloodthirsty, while Cyprus is the safest. Expounding on the subject, the Freakonomics blog for The New York Times noted that while many countries have low murder rates, they are very often those with the highest suicide rates (Japan) or vice versa (Jamaica).

America's very own George III made headlines this week as it emerged that the former president's nephew and fourth-generation family standard-bearer was off to fight the war his uncle started. Lt Junior Grade Bush, or George P, told the Daily Beast his tour of active duty was imminent. The 33-year-old son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been active on the Republican political scene in Texas since 2000 and has been widely rumoured as the next in line to pursue his grandfather's "legacy thing."

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have identified why our brains are sluggish after lack of sleep and believe they may be able to reverse the effects. By reducing the concentrations of the enzyme responsible for our inability to focus, learn or memorise after a late night, it may be possible to eliminate the effects of lethargy. The paper, published in Nature and reported by Science Daily, said tests on mice had so far proved successful.

Advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi this week took on the challenge of re-branding an entire country with a €5.7m contract to transform perceptions of Kosovo from "Europe's black hole" to "Europe's fountain of youth", according to The Tory party's favourite Mad Men started the makeover with adverts on international news channels under the slogan "Kosovo: the Young Europeans".

It was a mixed week for fast food colossus McDonald's who became the latest company to pull out of Iceland in the wake of the currency collapse, shortly before announcing a 12 per cent British sales boost in the three months to September and a 6 per cent global rise in profits. Iceland joins Albania , Armenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina on the list of European countries with no McDonald's.