Sunday, February 20, 2011

Libyan troops defect amid crackdown, as protests, massacre continue



Security forces have shot dead scores of protesters in Libya's second largest city, where residents said a military unit had joined their cause.

While Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attempts on Sunday to put down protests against his four-decade rule centred on the eastern city of Benghazi, eyewitness reports are coming in of "disturbances" in the capital Tripoli as well.

There were reports of clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters around the Green Square.

"We are in Tripoli, there are chants [directed at Gaddafi]: 'Where are you? Where are you? Come out if you're a man," a protester told Al Jazeera on phone. (Read more)

Many blackbirds found dead in Ukraine - 19th Feb 2011

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Mass deaths of blackbirds in the Crimea are puzzling Ukrainian scientists.

Dozens of the migratory birds have been found dead on the Kamyshovskoye highway in Sevastopol, along Kazachya Bay and in other coastal areas, ITAR-Tass reported Saturday.

Ornithologist Alexander Grinchenko of the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds said it is not yet known if the blackbirds died from infection or poisoned food. They probably flew from North Africa, where no bird epidemics are reported.

The first examinations by the Sevastopol state veterinary center suggest frost as a cause. A recent storm brought heavy snow and frigid weather to the Crimea.

Tissues from the dead birds have been sent to a veterinary clinic in Simferopol, and a diagnosis is expected within a week.

The mass bird death is the first reported in Ukraine, and it is not known if there is any connection to recent incidents in the United States and Europe. Source

Storm kills off fish at Lakeside, Pittsburg - 20th Feb 2011

PITTSBURG — Humans aren’t the only ones who have a hard time with ice and snow. Recent winter storms are the probable cause of a fish kill at Playter’s Lake in Lakeside Park.

Bill and Linda Morris, Pittsburg, noticed large numbers of dead fish at the lake Friday when they took a walk around the lake with their granddaughter.

“I’ve counted 236 so far,” Morris said.

“We were here just a few days ago, and only saw about three dead fish in the ice,” added his wife.

Morris reported the fish kill to the Pittsburg Recreation and Parks Department, and director Kim Vogel hurried to the lake. On the way she consulted by phone with Rob Friggeri of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department.

“He told me that this was probably caused by a lack of oxygen in the lake because of all the ice on top of the lake, and snow on top of the ice,” Vogel said. Read More

Iran Naval Ships to Cross Suez Canal on Monday - first time since 1979

Two Iranian naval ships will sail through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean on Monday, a Suez Canal official said, in what will be the first passage of Iranian naval ships through the canal since 1979.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has described Iran's plan to send the ships through the canal en route to Syria as a "provocation."

The official said the vessels would arrive at the southern mouth of the canal in the Red Sea's Gulf of Suez on Sunday. They would enter the canal in the northern convoy on Monday morning and complete the journey to the Mediterranean by evening. (Read more)

Bird Flu fears after 16 swan deaths in six weeks at Stratford-upon-Avon - 20th Feb 2011

HORRIFIED bird lovers demanded an urgent investigation last night after the mystery deaths of SIXTEEN swans in just six weeks.

The ‘unprecedented’ number of fatalities has wiped out around 30 per cent of the population along the River Avon in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Now wildlife

experts are calling for immediate tests on the dead bodies – after raising fears that Bird Flu may be responsible.

Swan rescue volunteer and former Stratford Mayor Cyril Bennis said: “This is the worst case of deaths I’ve seen in 30 years of working with swans in Stratford.

“I picked up three this week, two from Stratford and one from Luddington and it was quite distressing.

“I’ve collected all the dead birds, some young and some old, many have been very thin.

‘‘Is it lead poisoning or is it Bird Flu? We just don’t know – but the problem is not going away.

‘‘I think we are looking at a virus and have called for the river to be checked. But all this costs money.

“I have also had to be checked for Avian Influenza because I’ve been taking the birds to the vets.’’

He added: ‘‘Our swan population cannot sustain this many deaths, as we usually only experience about four deaths on average a year. Read More

South Korea atomic lab reports radiation leak, no casualties - 20th Feb 2011

(Reuters) - South Korea's state nuclear research institute reported a small radiation leak during an experiment Sunday, which led to a temporary warning but caused no casualties, an official said.

"It was a problem that happened in the middle of an experiment. It did not leak outside the building, nor lead to casualties," the official at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in Daejeon told Reuters. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Yonhap reported that a radioactive substance rose to the surface of a water tank when researchers were working to make a semiconductor wafter at a nuclear reactor, which set off an alarm.

Three staff were evacuated immediately due to the accident, the news agency said.

The official at the institute in Daejeon, south of Seoul, said the level of warning was the lowest and all staff were again working as normal. Source

Libya Protests: Tanks crushing peopled cars, mothers Jumping with children, defecting soldiers joining the people against African Mercenaries

Snipers shot protesters, artillery and helicopter gunships were used against crowds of demonstrators, and thugs armed with hammers and swords attacked families in their homes as the Libyan regime sought to crush the uprising.

Mourners leaving a funeral for protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi came under fire, killing at least 15 people and wounding many more. A hospital official said one of those who died was apparently struck on the head by an anti-aircraft missile, and many had been shot in the head and chest.

The hospital was overwhelmed and people were streaming to the facility to donate blood. "Many of the dead and the injured are relatives of doctors here," he said. "They are crying and I keep telling them to please stand up and help us." (Read more)

Protesters target Barclays over tax avoidance: 11 billion profits, but just 1% tax

Protestors have targeted more than 35 branches of Barclays bank with pickets, poetry readings and even children's colouring competitions, in another of a series of days of direct action organised by the UK Uncut group.

They were highlighting Barclays' admission that it paid just £113m in UK corporation tax in 2009 – a year when it rang up a record £11.6bn of profits.

Several branches were closed down to the public as protesters staged peaceful sit-ins, impromptu reading groups and creches in dozens of cities and towns across Britain including Edinburgh, Birmingham, Liverpool and Lewes. (Read more)

All is fair in war: Israel video shows Stuxnet worm as one of its successes

The video of Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi's operational successes included references to Stuxnet, a computer virus that disrupted the Natanz nuclear enrichment site last year, it was reported.

Although Israel has not officially accepted responsibility for the Stuxnet attack, evidence of its role has been mounting since the virus was first revealed in July. The virus, unprecedented in its sophistication, was designed to infiltrate the control systems at Natanz and make hidden, damaging adjustments to centrifuges.

Security researchers say factors including complexity of the operation point strongly to Israel as the source. It has also been reported that a special facility was set up with American co-operation in the Israeli desert to test the weapon. Read more

USA admits adding fluoride to water is damaging teeth and has been a big experiment

"Dead Peasant" Insurance: Corporate America making money off dead employees

US Government debt to exceed U.S. economy

President Obama‘s budget, released Monday, was conceived as a blueprint for future spending, but it also paints the bleakest picture yet of the current fiscal year, which is on track for a record federal deficit and will see the government’s overall debt surpass the size of the total U.S. economy.

Mr. Obama‘s budget projects that 2011 will see the biggest one-year debt jump in history, or nearly $2 trillion, to reach $15.476 trillion by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. That would be 102.6 percent of GDP — the first time since World War II that dubious figure has been reached.

And the budget projects the government will run a deficit of $1.645 trillion this year, topping 2009’s previous record by more than $230 billion. By contrast, 2007’s deficit was just $160 billion altogether. Read more

Clothing prices to rise 10 pct starting in spring

Shoppers looking to update their wardrobes may find their money won't stretch as far.

As the world economy recovers and demand for goods rises, a surge in raw material and labor costs is squeezing retailers and manufacturers who have run out of ways to pare expenses.

Clothing prices had dropped for a decade as tame inflation and cheap overseas labor helped hold down manufacturers' costs. During the recession, retailers and clothing makers cut frills and experimented with fabric blends to keep prices in check.

But cotton has more than doubled in price over the past year, hitting all-time highs. The price of synthetic fabrics has jumped roughly 50 percent as demand for alternatives has risen. Read more

North Korea's Tunnel digging sparks speculation of Nuke Test - 20th Feb 2011

North Korea has been digging special tunnels at a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in the northern Hamgyong province, sparking concerns that it may be preparing for new nuclear tests, South Korea's news agency Yonhap reported on Sunday, citing government and military sources.

The reclusive communist state conducted its two previous plutonium-fueled nuclear tests, one in 2006 and the other in 2009, at the site, the agency said.

"South Korea and U.S. intelligence authorities have spotted the North building a couple of additional tunnels in Punggye-ri," the agency cited a government source. "It's obvious that North Korea is preparing for a third nuclear test."

The source gave no further details on how many tunnels Pyongyang has built. Read More

Libyan Troops 'Machine Gun Protesters' 20th Feb 2011

Unconfirmed reports from Libya say troops have fired machine guns on crowds of anti-government protesters, with opposition groups claiming more than 100 people have been killed.

Exiled Libyan opposition groups estimate the number of deaths at 120, with up to 1,000 injured in clashes.

Other reports put the death toll as high as 200.

Although the capital of Tripoli is subdued, security forces allegedly shot dead dozens of protesters as they struggled to stamp out a revolt in Benghazi, as violence spread to nearby al Bayda and further west to Misratah.

The bloody crackdown prompted about 50 Libyan Muslim religious leaders to issue an appeal for the security forces, as Muslims, to stop the killing. Read More..

All the government and institutional buildings and a bank have been burnt, and the rebels have ransacked and destroyed everything
An Italian witness in the strife-torn eastern Libyan city of Benghazi