Monday, February 21, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: 6.3 Magnitude New Zealand - Fatalities - 22 Feb 2011

A powerful earthquake has caused "multiple fatalities" and major damage in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch, according to reports.

Buildings have collapsed and vehicles buried beneath debris, with rescue workers scrambling to help those trapped under rubble left by the 6.3 magnitude quake.

The fire service said the proximity of the quake to the city's centre meant it had caused more damage than the 7.1 magnitude tremor in Christchurch last September.

"The shake has been a lot worse, maybe not in intensity but as far as damage is concerned, and there are numerous people trapped," a spokesman said.

And although death toll remains unclear, a statement from police said "multiple fatalities" had been reported at several locations in the centre of the city.

It said: "Other reports include multiple building collapses, fires in buildings in the central (city) and persons reported trapped in buildings."

Those killed are thought to include the occupants of two buses that were crushed by falling debris.

Read More

Update: Iran warships to begin Suez Canal passage Tuesday

Suez Canal officials say two Iranian naval vessels are expected to start their passage through the strategic waterway early Tuesday.

Canal officials say the ships are expected to pay a fee of $290,000 for the crossing. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

If the ships make the passage, it would mark the first time in three decades that Iranian military ships have traveled the canal that links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

Israel has made clear it views the passage as a provocation. (read more)

Israeli PM: Crossing of Iranian ships a grave concern

The Israeli prime minister on Sunday accused Iran of trying to expand its influence in the region by planning to send naval ships through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.

Egypt has agreed to allow two Iranian warships to cross, in a move that puts the country's new military regime in a prickly position with its Israeli neighbor.

The post-Hosni Mubarak caretaker government gave the green light to the Iranian warships Friday. The move comes in the wake of the Egyptian president's ouster earlier this month.

"Iran is trying to take advantage of the situation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at a weekly Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said Israel views the crossing of the Iranian ships through the Suez Canal "gravely."

(Read more)

Revolt spreading to China? Chinese police crack down on "Jasmine Revolution"

Police in China showed up in force in several major cities after an online call for a "jasmine revolution".

Calls for people to protest and shout "we want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness", were circulated on Chinese microblog sites.

The message was first posted on a US-based Chinese-language website.

Several rights activists were detained beforehand and three people were arrested in Shanghai, but the call for mass protests was not well answered.

Reports from Shanghai and Beijing said there appeared to be many onlookers curious about the presence of so many police and journalists at the proposed protest sites, in busy city-centre shopping areas. (Read more)

What CNN won't show you: Bahraini protesters shot in cold blood (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

WARNING: The two videos you are about to see are graphic in nature, and depict Bahraini security forces firing upon unarmed, peaceful protestors.




Iran resident: Protests could lead to civil war

An Iranian supporter of the country's opposition movement has warned that continued anti-government street protests could lead to civil war.

The woman, a 34-year-old jewelry designer who lives in Tehran, issued the warning in a series of emailed answers to questions put to her by CNN.

The woman doesn't want her real name revealed due to fear of retribution so has asked that we call her Nastaran. Read more

Almost unbelievable: 10 US Economic Charts That Will Blow Your Mind


The 10 economic charts that you are about to see are completely and totally shocking. If you know anyone that still does not believe that the United States is in the midst of a long-term economic decline, just show them these charts. Sometimes you can quote economic statistics to people until you are blue in the face and it won't do any good, but when those same people see charts and pictures suddenly it all sinks in.

What is great about charts is that you can very easily demonstrate what has been happening to the economy over an extended period of time. As you examine the economic charts below, pay special attention to what has been happening to the U.S. economy over the last 30 or 40 years. The truth is that what is wrong with the U.S. economy is not a great mystery. All of the economic problems that we are experiencing now have taken decades to develop.

Hopefully the charts in this article will help people realize just how nightmarish our economic problems have become, because until people start realizing how incredibly bad things have gotten they will never be willing to accept the dramatic solutions that are necessary to fix our financial system. Read more and see all 10 charts

'Kill Switch' Internet bill alarms privacy experts

A raging debate over new legislation, and its impact on the Internet, has tongues wagging and fingers pointing from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C.

Just as the Egyptian government recently forced the Internet to go dark, U.S. officials could flip the switch if the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset legislation becomes law, say its critics. Read more

Tomato prices soar from $12 to $40(!) after cold weather kill-off


This winter's freezing weather is starting to have an impact at the grocery store.

"It's wreaking a little bit of havoc on the market," Oakes Farm Market Manager Eric Oakes said.

With so many crops killed off by the cold, produce shop owners are seeing tomato prices triple. Cases that usually cost $12-15 are up to $40.

Oakes says his market in Naples goes through 140 cases of tomatoes each week. He attributes the slow down in supply to freezing temperatures in Mexico.

"It doesn't look like this market is going to come down anytime soon" Oakes said. "I think it's going to be two or three weeks before we start maybe seeing a mild change in it."

Read more (with video)

Protests Spread to Libya; More Demonstrations in Bahrain, Yemen


The wave of protests rippling across the Middle East and North Africa has reached Libya, where hundreds of people took to the streets of the country's second biggest city, Benghazi.

The demonstration was a rare sign of unrest in the North African country, which has been tightly controlled by dictator Moammar Gadhafi for four decades but has recently been shaken by the overthrow of regimes in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia. Read More

Ben Ali in a Coma After Suffering Stroke, Report

Former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is in a coma after suffering a stroke, a French journalist says. Citing sources in Tunisia, Nicolas Beau said on his blog that Ben Ali is in a critical condition in a Jeddah hospital.

The hospital is said to cater for Saudi princes. For security reasons the ousted Tunisian leader is believed to have been admitted under a false name on Tuesday.

His wife Leila Trabelsi is no longer at his side, Beau reports. Read more

The shocking images that prove the bottom of the Gulf is STILL dead and coated in oil - despite BP claims all will be well - 21st Feb 2011

Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist.

Samantha Joye has video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn't degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.

That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012.

At a science conference in Washington today, Joye, a professor at the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site.

She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn't.

'There's some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn't seem to be degrading,' Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington. Read More

First cosmic census estimates there are 50 BILLION planets in Milky Way - 21st feb 2011

Scientists have estimated the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy and the numbers are astronomical - at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way.

And some 500 million of those planets are in what is known as the Goldilocks zone, where the climate is thought to be not-too-hot and not-too-cold, and life could exist.

The numbers were extrapolated from the early results of NASA's Kepler telescope, almost two years though a three-and-a-half year mission which has cost an estimated $600million.


epler science chief William Borucki says scientists took the number of planets they found in the first year of searching a small part of the night sky and then made an estimate on how likely stars are to have planets. Kepler spots planets as they pass between Earth and the star it orbits. Read More

120 cows found dead, owner suspects poisoning - 21st Feb 2011

BANTING, MALAYSIA: More than 100 heads of cattle were found dead at a farm in Sri Cheeding near here.

The owner, Suppiah Mariappen, believed the 120 cows valued at RM240,000 had been poisoned. He said he last fed the animals at about 5pm on Saturday and two hours later many of them were found dead.

“I was shocked to find them frothing from the mouth with blood oozing out of their anus. Some were already dead. Those which were still alive, died soon after.

“I suspect they were poisoned,” he said yesterday, adding that he had 200 heads of cattle and was now left with only 80.

His suspicion, he said, was based on the fact that the animals had not been let loose for the past three days as he was busy repairing the fence surrounding his farm.

All the cows were about four years old and they were to have been sold for RM2,000 each in August.

Suppiah said the land he occupied belonged to the Selangor Agricultural Development Corporation and on Jan 31, he had received an eviction letter to vacate the land before Feb 7, but he had disregarded the order. Read More

All members of pod of 107 pilot whales die in stranding on New Zealand's Stewart Island - 21st Feb 2011

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — All members of a pod of 107 pilot whales that stranded on a remote New Zealand beach have died, including 48 that were euthanized, the government's conservation department said Monday.

The stranded whales were discovered by hikers Sunday near Cavalier Creek on Stewart Island, off the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island.

Conservation department staff flew to the area and found that about half of the group were already dead and the others were dying, the agency said in a statement. The whales were well up the beach and the tide was receding, leaving little chance of keeping them alive until more rescuers could arrive.

"Euthanasia is a difficult decision, but is made purely for the welfare of the animal involved to prevent it from prolonged suffering," said Brent Beaven, the official who led the team at the site.

Pilot whales are about 13 feet to 20 feet (4 metres to 6 metres) long and are the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters.

Whale strandings are common in New Zealand. Last month, 24 pilot whales died after stranding on the North Island. In December 2009, more than 120 whales died in two separate beachings near Golden Bay and on the east coast of North Island. Source

Philippine volcano blast prompts hundreds to flee - 20th Feb 2011

MANILA, Philippines -- Hundreds of villagers fled to safety Monday after a restive volcano belched ash and smoke into the sky after a monthlong lull, officials said.

Despite Mount Bulusan's ash explosion, its 13th since November, there were no signs of an imminent eruption involving magma pushing out of the cone, said government chief volcanologist Renato Solidum.

The huge plume of grayish smoke shot up to more than a mile (2 kilometers) toward the blue sky, with the ash drifting southwest toward four farming towns in Sorsogon province, where about 1,200 villagers fled to emergency shelters and houses of relatives, said Benito Ramos, who heads the government's disaster-response agency.

Army trucks helped villagers move from communities hit by the ashfall and emergency teams handed out protective masks, Ramos said. Read More