Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Silted lake 'kills five pelicans', Wyong - 22nd Feb 2011

WYONG Council said the shire’s beaches and lakes were safe despite the discovery of five dead pelicans and an albatross at The Entrance North earlier this week.

Distressed Australian Seabird Rescue co-ordinator Jo Sealy made the grim discoveries on Monday.

One pelican and the albatross were washed ashore but Monday’s bad weather and gusting winds prevented Ms Sealy from getting to another two dead birds visible from the shoreline.

By Tuesday there were five dead pelicans and one very sick one.

Better weather conditions allowed Ms Sealy to retrieve the bodies with the help of the nearby Tuggerah Lakes Coastal Patrol.

Ms Sealy has no doubt the deaths were caused by botulism. Read More

Dead fish in River Derwent investigated - 22nd Feb 2011

Tasmania's Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating the death of thousands of juvenile barracouta at two sites in the River Derwent over the last two weeks.

The Director of the EPA, Alex Schaap says pollution is not thought to be behind the fish kills at Windermere Bay and New Norfolk.

He says no other fish species were affected, so it is likely the two events are related.

"Well we've done some water quality testing and found nothing odd about the water," he said.

"That, and that other fish in the area seem to be doing quite well, suggests that these marine fish have basically just gone too far upstream and ended up in low salinity water they couldn't handle.

"From time to time juvenile barracouta find their way into the estuaries and these fellas have just gone a bit too far up and found themselves in shallow low saline water which they can't cope with." Source

Slaughter of the swans: Eight birds shot dead and abandoned in field - 22nd Feb 2011

Eight swans have been found shot dead in what a wildlife rescue group described as 'one of the worst incidents' it had ever attended.

They were killed with an airgun and one of the swans must 'have suffered terribly' after it was shot three times, animal charity Secret World said.

The slaughtered animals were found by a passer-by in a field on West Ham road out of Blackford in Somerset.

The shooting is believed to have happened early yesterday morning.

The charity's founder Pauline Kidner said: 'It is hard to believe anyone would do such a callous thing.

'The only thing that we had hoped was that death would have been fairly instantaneous as they all appeared to have been killed by someone who was quite a good marksman, but the X-rays told us otherwise.

'One of the swans had been shot three times and must have suffered terribly. Read more

Oil shock fears as Libya erupts: Spectre of full civil war in oil-rich Libya looms

"This is potentially worse for oil than the Iran crisis in 1979," said Paul Horsnell, head of oil research at Barclays Capital. "That was a revolution in one country, here there are so many countries at once. The world has only 4.5m barrels-per-day (bpd) of spare capacity, which is not comfortable."

US oil contracts jumped $6 a barrel on Monday to over $95, chasing Brent crude, which traded as high as $108, as the global oil system is drawn into the vortex. While Egypt is a minor oil player, Libya's Sirte Basin holds Africa's largest reserves and supplies 1.4m bpd in exports, mostly to Italy, Germany and Spain. (read more)

Libya: Muammar Gaddafi's regime on the brink of collapse - has Gaddafi fled to Venezuela?

Planes from the Libyan air force launched bombing raids on military bases and, it was claimed, rebel areas in a final, bloody attempt by the regime to reassert control.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had seen information to suggest Col. Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela last night, though that was denied by spokesmen for the South American country’s president, Hugo Chavez and the remnants of the Libyan regime.

A source at Mitiga airport in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, said that he saw three planes, one with Col. Gaddafi on board, leaving early yesterday morning (mon).

Pro-democracy campaigners said they believed he was headed to the southern town of Sebha, where he grew up and which he turned into a desert stronghold, to make his last stand. (read more)

China rice laced with heavy metals: report

This week's edition of the New Century magazine cited studies showing that large amounts of Chinese have been tainted with like cadmium due to years of pollution stemming from the nation's rapid economic growth.

"During China's fast-paced industrialisation, activities such as mining have sprung up everywhere, releasing into the environment like cadmium, arsenic, mercury and other harmful heavy metals," the report said.

"These harmful heavy metals have spread through the air and water, polluting a rather large area of China's land... a complete chain of food contamination has existed for years."

The report cited academic studies since 2007 focusing on several rural villages in southern near mines and industrial areas where health problems such as bone diseases have emerged, mostly among the elderly. (Read more)

Canadian household debt surpasses six-figure mark ($100,000)

Canadian average household debt has hit the six-figure mark for the first time, according to a report released Thursday by the Vanier Institute of the Family.

The average household debt figure at the end of 2010 was $100,879, with the debt-to-income ratio at a record 150 per cent, the report says. That means for every $1,000 Canadian families earn after tax, they now owe $1,500. Mortgages account for two-thirds of that debt at $63,000 per household. The other third is made up of personal loans and credit card debt. Read more

Concern grows over N. Korean missile site

Concern mounted Thursday over North Korea’s reported development of a second launch facility, even as a Seoul official said Pyongyang has shown no signs of preparing a long-range missile test.

The remark came after Voice of America, citing satellite images, revealed that Pyongyang has almost completed a 100-foot-tall launch tower at a site in Dongchang-ri near the northwest border with China.

"There have been no signs," of preparations for a launch, the official said on condition of anonymity. "I don't think that there is a high chance of North Korea pushing ahead with a nuclear test or a missile launch at a time when it is asking for food aid."

The reports highlighted growing international concern over the North’s ongoing quest for intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability.

The communist nation is developing the Taepodong-2 missile, which would have an estimated range of 6,700 km, to couple its medium range arsenal capable of hitting targets within 3,000 km, which includes U.S. forces in Guam.
Read more

Analyst: Oil Will Hit $300 in a Decade, Regardless of Egypt

Weeden & Co. oil analyst Charles Maxwell says oil prices are bound to move steadily higher during the next decade, eventually hitting $300 a barrel, regardless of whatever happens in Egypt.

Oil now trades around $85 a barrel, only a few dollars higher than a year ago. It has ranged between $50 and nearly $150 during the past five years.

Demand will inevitably outpace the ability of oil companies to create supply, Maxwell tells Barron’s in an interview. Most people get that without an expert telling them so, he said.

“In three or four years, will the ability to produce the extra barrels needed be met? The answer is increasingly a question mark, and that pushes higher and higher the present values of the oil in the ground and the desire of holders of oil to add to their supplies,” Maxwell said. Read more

U.S. Government Shuts Down 84,000 Websites, ‘By Mistake’


(this picture was visible on the 84,000 shut down sites)

The US Government has yet again shuttered several domain names this week. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE office proudly announced that they had seized domains related to counterfeit goods and child pornography. What they failed to mention, however, is that one of the targeted domains belongs to a free DNS provider, and that 84,000 websites were wrongfully accused of links to child pornography crimes.

As part of “Operation Save Our Children” ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center has again seized several domain names, but not without making a huge error. Last Friday, thousands of site owners were surprised by a rather worrying banner that was placed on their domain.

“Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution,” was the worrying message they read on their websites. Read more

Foreign hackers attack Canadian government

An unprecedented cyberattack on the Canadian government, apparently from China, has given foreign hackers access to highly classified federal information and forced at least two key departments off the internet, CBC News has learned.

The attack, first detected in early January, left Canadian counter-espionage agents scrambling to determine how much sensitive government information may have been stolen and by whom.

Highly placed sources tell CBC News the cyberattacks were traced back to computer servers in China. Read more

Hypocrisy goes on: Cameron takes arms dealers with him on Egypt visit to promote democracy - 22nd Feb 2011

David Cameron was last night accused of using his Middle East tour to promote Arab democracy as a cover for arms sales.

The Prime Minister was branded a ‘disgrace’ after it emerged that he has taken eight defence firms with him on a four-day visit to the region.

Mr Cameron yesterday became the first world leader to visit Egypt since the historic overthrow of President Mubarak.

He said he wanted to offer Britain’s help in creating the ‘building blocks of democracy’ in the country and the wider Arab world.

But critics expressed amazement that Mr Cameron was promoting a mission to sell arms to Arab dictators shortly after Colonel Gaddafi may have used British weapons to kill hundreds of his fellow countrymen in Libya.

They accused Mr Cameron of using a high-profile visit to Cairo’s Tahrir Square – Ground Zero in the Egyptian popular uprising – as a fig leaf for peddling military equipment. Read More

Pakistan to overtake Britain as world's fifth largest nuclear power - 21st Feb 2011

Pakistan is on the verge of overtaking Britain as the world's fifth largest nuclear power at a time when the country faces an unprecedented threat from extremists.

American intelligence agencies believe that Pakistan now has more than 100 deployed nuclear weapons, an increase of nearly 40 per cent in two years.

It means that one of the countries considered the most unstable in the region is ahead of both Britain and, significantly arch-rival India, to own the fifth largest nuclear arsenal behind the United States, Russia, France and China.

The Pakistan military says it needs more nuclear weapons to counter and deter India's more conventional military might. The two countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998, and have fought three wars since partition and independence in 1947.

The U.S. analysis is based on the recent increase in the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium and some experts put the figure for nuclear weapons as high as 110. Read more

Drivers' miracle escape after their trucks plunge 23ft in Chinese motorway collapse 21st Feb 2011

Four lorry drivers are lucky to be alive today after they survived this road collapse.

Their trucks plunged to the ground and overturned when an overpass ramp collapsed in Shangyu, in east China's Zhejiang Province, on Monday.

The slip road fell 23 feet at about 3am in the morning, as the drivers switched from a local motorway to a national highway.

The truck drivers were taken to hospital.

Three of the drivers received minor injuries, but the condition of the fourth has not yet been released.

Luckily, no one was believed to be beneath the road when it collapsed. If anyone had been they almost certainly would have died.

Traffic on the main section of National Highway 104 has resumed and city authorities are investigating the collapse. Read More

NOTE: There have been unconfirmed earthquakes registered in China however it is not known how big or how many.