Saturday, February 26, 2011

South Korean military drops leaflets about Egypt protests into North Korea, NK warns they'll launch attack if continued - 26th Feb 2011

South Korea's military has been dropping leaflets into North Korea about pro-democracy protests in Egypt, Libya and other Arab countries, Reuters reports from Seoul.

As part of a psychological campaign, the South Korean military also sent food, medicines and radios for residents in a bid to encourage North Koreans to think about change, - something official Seoul was quick to dismiss as “rumors”.

Mass-scale clashes between protesters and police and army troops were earlier reported from several North Korean cities. Source

Libyan Soldiers 'Burned Alive' By Comrades - 26th Feb 2011

Dozens of Libyan soldiers who refused to fight protesters in the city of Benghazi were burned alive by their own forces, residents have told Sky News.

We were shown a room containing charred bodies which anti-government demonstrators claimed were the remains of 13 troops.

Residents added that there were a total of 67 bodies in the former military compound, which appears to be more evidence of crimes against humanity.

The city, in the east of the country, is Libya’s second largest and is now under the control of anti-regime groups after they overwhelmed dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

A soldier has admitted he opened fire on crowds. He said he and his comrades were threatened with death if they refused to shoot. Read More

1000s die in Libya, reports of poison gas used

Libya's deputy ambassador to the UN says thousands of people have been killed during protests, as unconfirmed reports have come in claiming the regime has used poison gas on demonstrators.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, who has turned against the Gaddafi regime, said the death toll is expected to rise as Muammar Gaddafi continues his bloody crackdown against the opposition.

"There are already thousands of people who have been killed, we expect more. They are gathering all the bodies and they are taking them to the desert or somewhere. No one knows where are the bodies of the victims," AFP quoted Dabbashi as saying.

His comments came ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the crisis in Libya.

Dabbashi said the "psychologically unstable” Gaddafi has the choice between being killed or committing suicide. “He might seek to send some of his family members abroad but I believe he prefers to die in Libya because of his narcissistic character, he wants to act like a hero." (read more)

Organizers call for second round of demonstrations across China

Nearly a week after calls for widespread pro-democracy protests fell flat in China, organizers are making another attempt at rallying support for the so-called "jasmine" demonstrations for this weekend.

Efforts to organize last Sunday were deemed largely unsuccessful after casual observers and police outnumbered the few protesters that showed up for the demonstrations.

On Friday, anonymous instructions on a site on Facebook, which is blocked in China, encouraged people to show up at central locations in about two-dozen major Chinese cities and "go for a walk" together this Sunday. Along with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube continue to be blocked, making calls for action available only to those outside mainland China or to Chinese who have access to virtual private networks with foreign IP addresses. (read more)

More peacocks found dead in Rajasthan, India - 26th Feb 2011

Jaipur, Feb 26 (IANS) Adding to the growing concern over peacock poaching in Rajasthan, at least seven more of the birds were found dead in Ajmer district's Bhaghera town.

The dead peacocks were found Thursday evening in an agriculture farm with wheat grains scattered around them.

The police said Saturday they suspected the grains were laced with poison.

The villagers informed the district authorities and the local police station in-charge and sub-divisional magistrate rushed to the spot.

The carcasses were taken to nearby Kekari town for autopsy.

The latest deaths came close on the heels of many incidents of poaching of peacocks, India's national bird, in the state.

Animal rights activists allege at least 10 birds are being killed every day.

Some non-government organisations (NGOs) have written letters to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot expressing concerns over peacock poaching and urging him to take stern action. Read More

Gaddafi secretly transfers £3bn to Mayfair-based fund as European leaders say 'brutality and intimidation will not be tolerated' - 26th Feb 2011

Colonel Gaddafi secretly deposited £3bn with a London-based private wealth manager, it emerged today.

As rebels began their uprising in eastern Libya last week, a Swiss intermediary working for the dictator brokered a deal to transfer the funds from the oil-rich nation.

But a similar attempt five weeks ago was rebuffed when senior staff at a separate City stockbroking firm learned of the source of the money, The Times reported.

The firm's chief executive told The Times: I said no, because personally I'm not comfortable dealing with murdering dictators with blood on their hands.'

However, the transaction went ahead with a Mayfair-based private wealth manager last week.

Treasury officials were today stepping up efforts to trace and freeze Gaddafi's assets in Britain, thought to include billions of pounds in bank accounts and commercial property. Read More

Libya oil production to shut down completely

Oil production in Libya is expected to shut down completely and could be lost for a prolonged period of time, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Thursday.

"We expect Libyan production to be shut down completely and we might lose sweet crudes from Libya for a prolonged period of time," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Sabine Schels told Reuters.

Schels said that the world faced the prospect of real supply shock in which the loss of 1.6 million barrels per day of sweet oil could potentially trigger a steep rise in prices and force a sharp reduction in demand to balance the system. (read more)

Fact or Fiction: Is Gaddafi Dead? Oil Settles Near $97 on Rumors Gaddafi Shot

Oil sank from 2-1/2-year highs near $120 a barrel Thursday in a late-day rout, dragged down by an unsubstantiated rumor Muammar Gaddafi had been shot and Saudi Arabia's assurances it can counter Libyan supply disruptions.

A U.S. official said Washington had no reason to believe the Libyan leader was dead after the rumor swept through oil markets and sent prices tumbling more than $2 a barrel just before settlement.

Prices surged in early activity on news the Libyan revolt had caused large disruptions in the OPEC nation's oil supplies — potentially up to three-quarters of output — though the scale of the loss could not be confirmed. (read more)

Education wars: Providence School Board plans to pink slip (that's right, fire) ALL teachers

The school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every one of its 1,926 teachers, an unprecedented move that has union leaders up in arms.

In a letter sent to all teachers Tuesday, Supt. Tom Brady wrote that the Providence School Board on Thursday will vote on a resolution to dismiss every teacher, effective the last day of school.

In an e-mail sent to all teachers and School Department staff, Brady said, “We are forced to take this precautionary action by the March 1 deadline given the dire budget outline for the 2011-2012 school year in which we are projecting a near $40 million deficit for the district,” Brady wrote. “Since the full extent of the potential cuts to the school budget have yet to be determined, issuing a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the School Board and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option, including reductions in staff.” State law requires that teachers be notified about potential changes to their employment status by March 1. (read more)

Agricultural Apocalypse #2: Agricultural chemicals interfere with testosterone

This anti-pesticide thing is on! We've known for a while that endocrine disruptors may be causing early-onset puberty in girls, but, in our male-centric culture, that's not really a big deal. But you know what is bad — like so bad I have no words and instinctively assume a stance protective of the family jewels?

Demasculinization, sissy men, men whose wieners — gasp! — don't work. Well, guess what? Agricultural chemicals might mess with those, too.

So says a new study that looked at pesticides humans are commonly exposed to (H/T Environmental Health News). It found that 23 of 37 compounds tested were anti-androgenic, or interfered with the effects of that all-important hormone, testosterone. Another 7 mimicked testosterone. (read more)

Agricultural Apocalypse #1: Two pesticides associated with Parkinson's disease, study

New research shows a link between use of two pesticides, rotenone and paraquat, and Parkinson's disease. People who used either pesticide developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than non-users.

The study was a collaborative effort conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

"Rotenone directly inhibits the function of the , the structure responsible for making energy in the cell," said Freya Kamel, Ph.D., a researcher in the intramural program at NIEHS and co-author of the paper appearing online in the journal . "Paraquat increases production of certain oxygen derivatives that may harm cellular structures. People who used these or others with a similar mechanism of action were more likely to develop Parkinson's disease. (read more)

US government shutdown "imminent" due to budget crisis



A second video on the subject may be watched by clicking here.

Santelli compares budget crisis to 9/11

CNBC's Rick Santelli on Sunday compared the budget crises affecting state and federal balance sheets to a Sept. 11-type attack on the nation.

"If the country is ever attacked as it was on 9/11, we all respond with a sense of urgency," Santelli said in a roundtable discussion on NBC's "Meet the Press" about the Wisconsin labor protests. "What’s going on on balance sheets throughout the country is the same type of attack.” (read more)

New Zealand Quake: Third Of Buildings Face Demolition - 26th Feb 2011

Engineers believe around a third of the buildings in the business district of Christchurch damaged by this week's earthquake will have to be pulled down and rebuilt.

Planners estimate that the central business district will be unusable for months.

Officials say at least 145 people are confirmed dead after Tuesday's 6.3 quake, with about 200 people from more than 20 countries still missing among the ruins.

Fresh aftershocks have sent masonry tumbling among rescuers.

The New Zealand authorities admit they expected the toll "to steadily rise" over the weekend.

Families were warned to prepare for the "worst type of news" after another day drew to an end with no sign of life beneath the rubble.

So far only six quake victims have been formally named,but police were continuing their attempts to identity the deceased. Read More