Saturday, March 19, 2011

Libya: "No fly zone" turns into massive multi-national pounding with missiles, planes and propaganda -- 110 tomahawk missiles launched by US alone

Hours after French, British and American military forces unleashed cruise missiles and fighter jets, a defiant Moammar Gadhafi said Libya will fight back against undeserved "naked aggression."

A coalition that includes Canada and Italy made good Saturday on international warnings to Gadhafi, hammering Libyan military positions in the first phase of an operation that will include enforcement of a no-fly zone.

More than 110 Tomahawk missiles fired from American and British ships and submarines hit about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets in western portions of the country, U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney said at a Pentagon briefing.

The U.S. will conduct a damage assessment of the sites, which include SA-5 missiles and communications facilities. A senior U.S. military official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said the cruise missiles, which fly close to the ground or sea at about 550 miles per hour, landed near Misrata and Tripoli, the capital and Gadhafi's stronghold. (read more)

Today's paradigm: Profit before humanity -- Delta Offers Owner of Dead Kitten $50

The owner of a kitten that died after being transported in the cargo hold on a Delta plane says the airline is only offering to refund her airfare plus $50.

The hairless kitten, named Snickers, froze after flying from Utah to Connecticut last month when a door latch malfunctioned in 10-degree weather. It took nearly an hour to unload the kitten.

Heather Lombardi says Delta initially told her she would get $2,900 for the cat and $290 for airfare, plus reimbursement for vet bills and a freezer where Snickers is being kept until the ground thaws for burial.

But on Tuesday, the airline changed its offer to airfare plus 50 cents per pound, although there is a $50 minimum payout.

Delta spokesman Anthony L. Black tells AP the offer is a standard cargo reimbursement and says talks are ongoing. (Source)

BREAKING NEWS: Gaddafi Threatens To Attack Mediterranean in Retaliation for Coalition Airstrikes

Colonel Gaddafi has threatened to attack military and civilian targets in the Meditarranean in a phone call to Libyan state radio.

The Libyan leader called the radio station to threaten retaliation for Western air and sea strikes on his country.

He declared the attacks "an assault against a sovereign state, an assault against Libya" and claimed the Mediterranean had been turned into a "real battlefield".

The leader went on to inform civilians that "arms depots" had been opened so they could defend Libya.

It had been rumoured that Colonel Gaddafi was to make a television address, but an appearance in person could reveal his location to UN allies.

The statement followed a television address by Libyan congress leader Mohamed Al-Zwai, during which he claimed UN forces had attacked civilian targets. (Source)

Syria unrest: Tear gas fired at Deraa funeral -- protestors call for national revolt

Syrian security forces have fired tear gas to disperse crowds at the funeral of two people killed in anti-government protests on Friday, witnesses say.

Thousands had gathered for the funeral in the southern city of Deraa, and began chanting anti-government slogans.

Rights activists said at least one mourner was arrested by secret police.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Baath party has dominated politics in the country for almost 50 years, tolerates no dissent.

Witnesses told Reuters news agency that the mourners began to chant: "God, Syria, Freedom. Whoever kills his own people is a traitor."

A rights activist told AFP news agency that several had been injured as the protesters struggled to run away from the security forces.

Rights groups say a fourth person died from his wounds on Saturday after the protests in Deraa on Friday.

They were killed by security forces as protesters demanded political freedom and an end to corruption, eyewitnesses and activists told foreign media. (read more)

1755 Libson 9.0 magnitude quake that killed 100,000 -- Tsunamis can strike the Atlantic as well

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, was a megathrust earthquake that took place on Saturday 1 November 1755, at around 9:40 in the morning.[1] The earthquake was followed by fires and a tsunami, which caused near-total destruction of Lisbon in the Kingdom of Portugal, and adjoining areas. Geologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake approached magnitude 9 on the moment magnitude scale,[citation needed] with an epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 km (120 mi) west-southwest of Cape St. Vincent. Estimates place the death toll in Lisbon alone between 10,000 and 100,000 people,[2] making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.

The earthquake accentuated political tensions in the Kingdom of Portugal and profoundly disrupted the country's eighteenth-century colonial ambitions. The event was widely discussed and dwelt upon by European Enlightenment philosophers, and inspired major developments in theodicy and in the philosophy of the sublime. As the first earthquake studied scientifically for its effects over a large area, it led to the birth of modern seismology and earthquake engineering. (read more)

Japan Death Toll from Quake and Tsunami Rises Above 7,000

As the world anxiously watches Japan's nuclear crisis, the death toll from earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country one week ago is still rising, and many hundreds of thousands remain homeless.

Japanese police said Saturday they have confirmed the death of 7,300 people, but nearly 11,000 more are still missing. The earthquake and especially the tsunami that followed minutes later wiped out entire communities in northeastern Japan on March 11.

Emergency crews have been unable to search the entire disaster zone thoroughly, but the hope of finding survivors is now nearly gone. In many ways, emergency crews' focus has now shifted to trying to care for survivors. Nearly a half-million people have been driven out of their homes - either by the natural disasters or the government's mandatory evacuation order for those living near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Gasoline shortages and damaged infrastructure have greatly hobbled relief efforts, and many shelters have at times run out of medical supplies, food and other essentials. Freezing temperatures across the northeast have put an extra strain on elderly and sick evacuees. (read more)

European governments “completely puzzled” about U.S. position on Libya

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meetings in Paris with the G8 foreign ministers on Monday left her European interlocutors with more questions than answers about the Obama administration's stance on intervention in Libya.

Inside the foreign ministers' meeting, a loud and contentious debate erupted about whether to move forward with stronger action to halt Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's campaign against the Libyan rebels and the violence being perpetrated against civilians. Britain and France argued for immediate action while Germany and Russia opposed such a move, according to two European diplomats who were briefed on the meeting.

Clinton stayed out of the fray, repeating the administration's position that all options are on the table but not specifically endorsing any particular step. She also did not voice support for stronger action in the near term, such as a no-fly zone or military aid to the rebels, both diplomats said.

"The way the U.S. acted was to let the Germans and the Russians block everything, which announced for us an alignment with the Germans as far as we are concerned," one of the diplomats told The Cable.

Clinton's unwillingness to commit the United States to a specific position led many in the room to wonder exactly where the administration stood on the situation in Libya.

"Frankly we are just completely puzzled," the diplomat said. "We are wondering if this is a priority for the United States." (read more)

Nuclear Apocalypse in Japan: Lifting the Veil of Nuclear Catastrophe and cover-up

As the sun set over quake-stricken Japan on Thursday 17 March 2011, we learned that four of six Fukushima nuclear reactor sites are irradiating the earth, that the fire is burning out of control at Reactor No. 4's pool of spent nuclear fuel, that there are six spent fuel pools at risk all told, and that the sites are too hot to deal with. On March 16 Plumes of White Vapor began pouring from crippled Reactor No. 3 where the spent fuel pool may already be lost. Over the previous days we were told: nothing to worry about. Earthquakes and after shocks, tidal wave, explosions, chemical pollution, the pox of plutonium, contradicting information too obvious to ignore, racism, greed -- add these to the original Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine and Death. The situation is apocalyptic and getting worse. This is one of the most serious challenges humanity has ever faced.

The U.S. nuke industry is blaming Japanese experts, distancing itself from the monster it created. Instead of sending nuclear or health experts to assistance the Japanese people in their time of desperate need, US President Barack Obama first sent teams of intelligence agents and FEMA trained military grunts with special security clearances. The Pentagon floated a naval strike force led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan off the coast of Japan: advertised as a 'humanitarian' operation, the strike force was repositioned after it was partially irradiated. Can we trust officials and the corporate news media to tell us what is happening in an honest, timely, transparent manner? Are there precedents to the nuclear crisis in Japan? What is the U.S. defense establishment really concerned with here?

Humanity now faces a deadly serious challenge coming out of Japan -- the epicenter of radiation. Intentional efforts to downplay or dismiss this catastrophe reveal the immaturity of western civilization and some of our most acute human pathologies, including our worship of technology and our psychopathology of denial. The widespread distortion and cover-ups to protect private profits, national and corporate interests, to fool and betray the people, are unacceptable. Here are some of the deeper whats and whys and hows -- some technical issues and the kinds of questions people need to ask -- about the nuclear apocalypse unfolding on planet earth. Prayers are not enough. It's time to question everything, to put politics aside, to take personal action to halt nuclear expansion and defend ourselves from this industrial juggernaut. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS - Libyan State Media: Western Warplanes Bombed Civilian targets in TRIPOLI - Civilian Casualties reported - 19th Mar 2011

A US warship fired Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya today, targeting Muammar Gaddafi's air defence sites, a senior US military official said.

The action in Libya, launched by France earlier this afternoon, has also been joined by British forces, Prime Minister David Cameron said.

"Tonight, British forces are in action over Libya. They are part of an international coalition that has come together to enforce the will of the United Nations and to protect the Libyan people," Cameron said.

Meanwhile, state media said that the western warplanes bombed civilian targets in Tripoli, causing casualties. Read Full Article

BREAKING NEWS: Hamas strikes Israel with 54 mortar shells; Israel retaliates with tank fire and air strikes, unknown number dead

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 50 mortar shells into Israel on Saturday, the heaviest barrage in two years, Israeli officials said, raising the prospect of a new Mideast flareup.

Also Saturday, Hamas police beat reporters and news photographers covering a rally in Gaza City, drawing a stiff condemnation from the reporters' association.

Israel invaded Gaza two years ago to put a stop to daily rocket barrages by Gaza militants, and Saturday's exchange showed how the conflict could quickly spiral out of control. Gaza's Hamas rulers are thought to be trying to avoid another Israeli invasion, after the last one caused widespread damage, killed more than 1,400 and left the territory under blockade, but Hamas claimed responsibility for some of the mortar rounds.

A Hamas official was killed and four civilians were wounded when Israel hit back with tank fire and air strikes, said Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia.

Israeli police spokesman Tamir Avtabi said Gaza militants fired 54 mortar shells at Israeli border communities within 15 minutes. He said two Israeli civilians were lightly wounded by shrapnel, and residents were advised to stay at home or in bomb shelters. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: British Forces In Action Over Libya - 19th Mar 2011

British forces are in action over Libya, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed.

Allied forces began military action against the country after leader Muammar Gaddafi apparently defied the UN's demand that he stop attacking his own people.

As strikes on the country began, loud blasts were heard east of the capital Tripoli and fireballs were reportedly seen on the horizon.

Around twenty French warplanes are patrolling the skies over Libya and have reportedly fired on at least one pro-Gaddafi vehicle.

The US Navy has fired Tomahawk missiles at Libyan air defences, according to reports, after defence officials earlier said three submarines were preparing for action in the Mediterranean.

British ships are also involved in a naval blockade of the country, sources told Sky News, as the world launched a co-ordinated response based on an earlier UN resolution to protect Libyan civilians. HMS Westminster is reportedly one of the ships involved. Read More

BREAKING NEWS - U.S. Launches Cruise Missiles Against Qaddafi's Air Defenses - 19th Mar 2011

The U.S. Navy fires the first U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles against Libyan leader's Muammar al-Qaddafi's air defenses Saturday, Fox News has learned.

The U.S. military strikes clear the way for European and other planes to enforce a no-fly zone designed to ground Qaddafi's air force and cripple his ability to inflict further violence on rebels, U.S. officials said.

Hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended an international conference in Paris that endorsed military action against Qaddafi, the U.S. was poised to kick off its attacks on Libyan air defense missile and radar sites along the Mediterranean coast to protect no-fly zone pilots from the threat of getting shot down.

"We have every reason to fear that left unchecked, Qaddafi will commit unspeakable atrocities," Clinton said. Read More

BREAKING NEWS: United States launches tomahawk cruise missile strikes against targets in Libya


DETAILS FORTHCOMING.

Tokyo water sample shows radioactive iodine: government

A sample of tap water from the Japanese capital shows a tiny level of radioactive iodine after an earthquake and tsunami damaged a nuclear power plant 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, the government said on Saturday.

The sample contained 1.5 becquerals per kg of iodine 131, well below the tolerable limit for food and drink of 300 becquerals per kg, the government added.

Jiji news agency said the presence of radioactive iodine in Tokyo tap water was rare. (read more)

Japan: "Radiation leak is serious enough to kill people"

The boss of the company behind the devastated Japanese nuclear reactor today broke down in tears - as his country finally acknowledged the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizens

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted that the disaster was a level 5, which is classified as a crisis causing 'several radiation deaths' by the UN International Atomic Energy.

Officials said the rating was raised after they realised the full extent of the radiation leaking from the plant. They also said that 3 per cent of the fuel in three of the reactors at the Fukushima plant had been severely damaged, suggesting those reactor cores have partially melted down.

After Tokyo Electric Power Company Managing Director Akio Komiri cried as he left a conference to brief journalists on the situation at Fukushima, a senior Japanese minister also admitted that the country was overwhelmed by the scale of the tsunami and nuclear crisis.

He said officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: 'The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans.

'In hindsight, we could have moved a little quicker in assessing the situation and coordinating all that information and provided it faster.'

Nuclear experts have been saying for days that Japan was underplaying the crisis' severity.

It is now officially on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. Only the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 has topped the scale. (read more)

Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Caps Decades of Faked Safety Reports, Accidents

The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and underestimated earthquake risk in Japan’s atomic power industry.

The destruction caused by last week’s 9.0 earthquake and tsunami comes less than four years after a 6.8 quake shut the world’s biggest atomic plant, also run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. In 2002 and 2007, revelations the utility had faked repair records forced the resignation of the company’s chairman and president, and a three-week shutdown of all 17 of its reactors.

With almost no oil or gas reserves of its own, nuclear power has been a national priority for Japan since the end of World War II, a conflict the country fought partly to secure oil supplies. Japan has 54 operating nuclear reactors -- more than any other country except the U.S. and France -- to power its industries, pitting economic demands against safety concerns in the world’s most earthquake-prone country.

Nuclear engineers and academics who have worked in Japan’s atomic power industry spoke in interviews of a history of accidents, faked reports and inaction by a succession of Liberal Democratic Party governments that ran Japan for nearly all of the postwar period.

Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismology professor at Kobe University, has said Japan’s history of nuclear accidents stems from an overconfidence in plant engineering. In 2006, he resigned from a government panel on reactor safety, saying the review process was rigged and “unscientific." (read more)

Japan food radiation above safety limit

Spinach and milk from two regions near Japan's stricken nuclear plant are showing radiation levels above the legal safety limit, a Japanese official said Saturday.

But Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said a person would have to drink the milk for a year to ingest as much radiation as in a CT scan. A year of the spinach would amount to about one-fifth of a CT scan.

"It's not like if you ate it right away you would be harmed," Edano told reporters in Tokyo as Japan's nuclear crisis entered its second week. "It would not be good to continue to eat it for some time."

It was the government's first report of food being contaminated by radiation since the March 11 quake and tsunami knocked out power to cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. Four of the plant's six reactor units have experienced fires, explosions or partial meltdowns.

The contaminated milk was found 30 kilometres from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, and the spinach was collected between 80 and 100 kilometres to the south, Edano told reporters in Tokyo. (read more)

Car industry and iPad 2 hit by Japan supply worries

Concerns that global manufacturing could be halted by damage to suppliers in Japan has spread to European car plants and the new iPad after a string of companies announced precautionary measures.

General Motors Europe said Friday that it was halting production at two European plants next week because of a shortage of electronic parts from Japan, while Renault is to cut back on weekend and overtime production at a factory in South Korea which normally produces 20,000 vehicles per month.

GM will cancel shifts at a plant in Eisenach, Germany on Monday and Tuesday, while Zaragoza in Spain will also be closed on Friday. Both plants produce the Corsa.

Car industry sources believe about 150 suppliers are based in the North East of Japan, the area worst affected by the earthquake, and even if factories survived the disaster, there is significant damage to roads, railways and ports that will delay deliveries.

Meanwhile, research firm IHS iSuppli warned that Apple may face shortages of parts for its newly released iPad 2, such as the battery and the flash memory used to store music and video. Spot prices for Nand flash memory chips have risen sharply this week, including 20pc on Monday, with manufacturers such as Toshiba closing plants. (read more)

Japan earthquake: 30 pictures of boats and ships swept ashore by the tsunami

Russia lifts ban on polar bear hunting -- even though they're still endangered

Russia has legalised the hunting of polar bears for the first time in more than half a century, a move that critics say will put further pressure on the endangered mammal.

Roman Kopin, the governor of Russia's remote Chukotka region, signed a decree allowing the area's indigenous people to hunt and kill 29 polar bears each year, including 19 females.

Russian wildlife campaigners condemned the move, saying the polar bear was already threatened by a shrinking habitat and rampant poaching.

Varvara Semonova, a wildlife campaigner, said the decision would "threaten the survival of the polar bear in the Russian Arctic and will have not only ecological but serious social and political consequences for us."

The authorities defended the partial lifting of the ban, arguing that hunting polar bears for their meat and their fur was a traditional part of local Chukchi culture in the Russian Arctic. They said hunters would not be allowed to export bear skins or to sell bear meat commercially.

Russia's decision to allow polar bear hunting for the first time since the Soviet Union banned the practice in 1957 was made possible after the Kremlin signed a treaty with the United States governing both countries' polar bear populations on either side of the Bering Strait. (read more)

As five are reported dead, will nuclear officials ever reveal the true heroics of Japan's 'Fukushima Fifty'? - 19th Mar 2011

They are an anonymous band of lower and mid-level managers who are risking their lives at the very heart of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

But as the stricken reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant appears to stabilise, plant owners are still remaining tight-lipped about the so-called 'Fukushima Fifty' - the heroes fighting to save Japan from nuclear catastrophe.

Fifty essential workers stayed behind to stop a catastrophic meltdown at the plant, as 750 of their colleagues were evacuated earlier this week when the over-heating seemed to be getting out of control.

Five are now believed to have died, 15 are injured and others have said they know the radiation will kill them as they battle to cool overheating reactors and spent fuel rods. Read More

Gaddafi battle tanks shot down by French fighters for flying too high over Libya -- absurd "no fly zone" in full effect

French forces have launched their first air strikes into Libya to enforce the UN-mandated "no fly zone". Absurdly, the first targets chosen where battle tanks, supposedly two to four of them according to CNN, which weren't attacking, moving anywhere, or threatening anyone.

Is this a true no fly zone, or a softening action for a subsequent invasion?

Why are countries so eager to line up and pound Libya with weapons that are far superior to anything Libya possesses?

Why aren't journalists and nations answering Libya's calls for open observation of the situation on the ground? Is the west lying? Are the rebels lying? What's going on here?

From a news report: "
A French military spokesman said his forces targeted a vehicle that was threatening civilians in Libya. But news reports say the French fighters destroyed four Libyan tanks near the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi."

BREAKING NEWS: French warplanes launch first attacks against Libya, destroy first target

DETAILS FORTHCOMING.

Fierce Thunderstorm Kills 15, Injures Dozens in East Pakistan - 19th Mar 2011

At least 15 people were killed and 30 others injured when a fierce thunderstorm hit the city of Sialkot in east Pakistan Saturday afternoon, according to a website report of a local Urdu TV channel ARY.

As most of the cable TV operators in the country are currently on a one-day strike against the country's Supreme Court decision to grant the broadcasting right of the on-going world cup cricket matches to a single local TV channel Geo, details about the thunderstorm are very scarce at this point.

Sialkot is a city located some 100 kilometers north of Lahore in Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab. Many roofs of houses in the area were blown away by the fierce wind coupled with heavy rains.

Most of the casualties were caused by the collapsed buildings, said local sources, adding that many people are still being buried under the debris of the collapsed buildings.

A rescue team has been dispatched to the area hit by the thunderstorm and some of the injured people have been shifted to hospitals.

A severe thunderstorm also hit the country's capital city Islamabad Saturday afternoon, but no casualties or damage have been reported.

The local meteorological department has not issued any forecast for the weather in the affected area in the coming days. Source

The moment Japanese coast guard crew went bow-first into the tsunami wave in the open ocean - 19th Mar 2011

The 175,000-tonne ship lifted up and dumped on the harbour--side like a bit of driftwood by Japanese tsunami - 19th Mar 2011

This is the 175,000-tonne ship that was lifted up by Friday's tsunami and dumped on top of a pier in Japan.

The cargo ship lies on the dock promenade Kamaishi, more than a week after the huge surge of water tossed it about like so much driftwood.

The stern of the Asia Symphony juts out several metres onto a road, as some survivors drive past on their way to see what remains of their belongings.

It is one of thousands of apocalyptic scenes that now provide the back drop to life for victims who managed to escape the wall of water. Read More

Radioactive particles found in Tokyo water supply as Japanese slap ban on food grown near wrecked nuclear plant - 19th Mar 2011

Japan today banned the sale of food grown in the area around the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant after milk and spinach was found to be contaminated with radiation.

As engineers worked to rewire a power supply to cooling systems, the government announced that the food grown up to 65 miles from the plant had levels of radioactive iodine that exceed official safety limits.

However they said there was no immediate risk to health, amid concerns about what effect radiation leaking from the stricken plant will have on the country.

Traces of radioactive iodine were also found in tap water in Tokyo, 135 miles from the plant.

Victims leaving the area near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have been told they should take iodine tablets to counteract the effects of radiation.

British Embassy officials are also distributing iodine tablets to Britons in Japan as 'a precaution' in case radiation levels increase. Read More

4 year old Polar Bear Knut dies in front of 600 visitors at Berlin Zoo, Cause unknown - 19th Mar 2011

Knut, the world-famous polar bear, collapsed and died in front of 600 visitors at Berlin Zoo this afternoon.

The bear rose to stardom when he was hand-raised by zoo keepers after being rejected by his mother at birth.

Bear keeper Heiner Kloes from the zoo said the four-year-old was alone in his compound. He says the cause is not yet clear.

'He was by himself in his compound, he was in the water, and then he was dead,' said Mr Kloes. ' He was not sick, we don't know why he died.'

A post mortem will be conducted on Monday to try pinpoint his cause of death, he said.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit called Knut's death 'awful'.

'We all held him so dearly,' he told daily newspaper B.Z. 'He was the star of the Berlin zoo.' Read More

"Libya is not yours, Libya belongs to all Libyans," - 19th Mar 2011

The latest statement from the Libyan regime - addressed to the French, British, the United States and the UN - signals another small shift. Just 24 hours ago, in the very same room where we heard today's statement, was an announcement of a ceasefire.

At that point, the Libyans said they were part of the United Nations and therefore recognised its authority.

But very different language this morning.

A pretty strong message is being sent to the West.

"Libya is not yours, Libya belongs to all Libyans," the regime said in a statement.

"The (UN) Security Council is invalid."

This essentially goes against what was said yesterday.

"The Security Council is not authorised to intervene in its internal affairs," the statement continued.

It went on to label the proposed UN intervention as "an injustice and a clear aggression".

What is pretty interesting is that the regime here is quite clearly setting the West up for a very big decision - whether to go ahead with its threat to use military force. Read More

Cameron: 'The Time For Action Has Come' - 19th Mar 2011

Leaders of nations supporting the UN-backed no-fly zone over Libya have warned Colonel Gaddafi that "the time for action" has come over because of ceasefire breaches.British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The time for action has come and it needs to be urgent.

"Colonel Gaddafi has made this happen - he lied to the international community."

French president Nicolas Sarkozy added that military force would be used "in the absence of an immediate ceasefire" because "the Libyan people need our help."

A source confirmed to the Reuters news agency that French aircraft were already operating within Libyan airspace.

Observers now believe selective targets in Libya will be hit within the next 24 hours. Read More

RED ALERT Mount Karangetang volcano -600 evacuated as Indonesian volcano erupts - 19th Mar 2011

Jakarta: At least 600 people have been evacuated to temporary shelters a day after Indonesian authorities issued a red alert for the Mount Karangetang volcano, a volcanologist said Saturday.

The volcano, located on Siau island off the coast of Sulawesi island, began spewing jets of hot clouds and lava Friday, prompting authorities to order the evacuations of three villages on its slopes.

Indonesia's chief volcanologist, Surono, said eruptions were continuing Saturday but there were no reports of casualties.

Surono's office Friday raised the alert level for the volcano two notches to the highest level after a series of eruptions.

'We have no choice but to order an evacuation because people were at risk of being affected by the hot clouds,' said Surono, who like many Indonesians uses one name. Read More

BREAKING NEWS: French military jets over Libya

French military jets have flown reconnaissance missions over "all Libyan territory" on Saturday, French military sources say.

Western and Arab leaders have been meeting in Paris to agree a course of action after the UN voted on Thursday for a no-fly zone over Libya.

Pro-Gaddafi forces launched an assault on the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi, a BBC journalist witnessed.

However, the Libyan government has denied it is attacking.

The rebels' leader has appealed to the international community to stop the bombardment by pro-Gaddafi forces.

Reports suggest hundreds of cars packed with people were fleeing the city eastwards as fighting spread.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the world must "speak with one voice" on Libya.

The new UN resolution authorised "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians. (Source)

Featured Editorial: Here we g(oil) again -- Is Iraq's history repeating itself in Libya? - 19th Mar 2011

Muammar Gaddafi: tyrant, pawn, or madman?

Whatever one's take on the besieged Libyan leader, his reign has suddenly taken on the dark, foreboding tone of another Arab dictator who just a few short years ago had his rule (and life) ignominiously punctuated by a hangman's rope.

Therefore, if there's stirrings inside observers of deja vu regarding this entire Libyan situation, such feelings are justified.

Once a stalwart ally of the Western powers against Iranian fundamentalism, Saddam Hussein's usefulness dried up. He was vilified, hunted down and unceremoniously executed while his country was reduced to rubble and sectarianism. And Iraq's oil, which remains one of the largest remaining reserves in the mideast, became for all intensive purposes the possession of the conquering powers. Iraq's people have yet to see a dime.

Was Saddam's end justified by his rule? No one would dare argue against that. However, his life, his rule and the events now transpiring in Libya suggest that a nefarious pattern of use-demonize-pillage is now in place for all nations possessing something the West considers of value, especially if that nation is run by a former geopolitical servant.

In 2003, an unforgettable year for many, the invasion of Iraq began with tears of 9/11 still stinging American eyes. However, a UN issued report dated September 20, 2006, stated that the cost of such an invasion, especially in terms of Iraqi civilian casualties, had been significantly under-reported. Such casualties were placed at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may in reality have been much higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian causalities at over 600,000.

Knowing this, could one say that American occupation was good for Iraqis? It's a matter of great debate. Nevertheless, we're starting to see the exact same events that surrounded Iraq's disassembly now occurring in Libya, and if history has taught us a lesson, these events could lead to tragic consequences for the Libyan people.

Fast forward to 2011, and a recent UN vote has paved the way for Western Military action against yet another Arab regime, this time Libya, which to no surprise brought cheers and celebratory gunfire from the anti-Gaddafi Libyans currently in rebellion.

At this point, it's necessary to outline where many similarities between Iraq and Libya start to show themselves:

1) Libya holds the largest oil reserves in Africa, and that oil is sweet crude and more highly prized than, say, Saudi oil

2) Libya has a rebellious contingent wanting to separate from the dictatorial regime, in its case tribes, much like the Kurds and Shiites of Iraq, or even the various tribes of Afghanistan

3) Gaddafi was once a useful anti-Islamist dictator, much like Saddam Hussein, that is, until he started funding -- and this is stated with a pinch of exaggeration -- half the terrorist operations in the world;

4) Gaddafi is now being vilified as oppressive against his people, which he's always been, but now seems the opportune time for Western powers to point out this fact, much as Saddam was painted with fangs and beady eyes once his utility expired

5) The United States and other Western powers are gathering a new "coalition of the willing" to assist the rebels in their efforts to remove Gaddafi from power, beginning with a no-fly zone, much like Iraq's dismemberment began with a no-fly zone

Libyan rebels, having faced a seemingly impossible uphill climb to overthrow their dictator, are cheering at the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya and the subsequent military assistance that no will doubt follow. But are the rebels also aware that the resolution has allowed Western Forces to use "any measures necessary" to complete their mission?

Surely Gaddafi must go, and surely his people deserve freedom. But will Western airstrikes hit their proper targets unlike in Iraq and Afghanistan? Will we once again be hearing of untold civilian casualties like in the two aforementioned countries? Will Libya be plundered of its oil like Iraq currently is, and like Afghanistan's vast mineral wealth soon will be? Will the rebellion be fertilized with the blood of women and children as in so many other Western operations of "democracy building"?

Who will lead the multitude of tribes in Libya once Gaddafi is gone, tribes that already despise one another? Why are only countries with oil and minerals assisted in their civil disputes, and not countries such as the Ivory Coast that is currently plunging headlong into an internal war? Are the people there of no value, or is it the country that's of no worth?

For other countries to enter into a civil conflict at this late stage with airstrikes over blurred front lines that could in turn main or kill innocent civilians is illegal, and if it may be said, no better than something Gaddafi would do due to the disruption and loss of life it would cause.

As one commentator aptly questioned, will a second no-fly zone be instituted to stave off a massacre of pro-government forces once the rebels seize power? Which side is the right side? Who determines that?

While the "coalition of the willing" is neither allowed to occupy the country, nor have they made calls for a land invasion, one can only eye the television set with suspicion when a Western leader makes a speech about securing the safety of freedom of the Libyan people while all that oil is bubbling below the surface.

If this no-fly zone is truly to help the Libyan people, and isn't simply a re-run of Iraq and Afghanistan, then the United Nations and Western powers need to start focusing their attention on the whole of Africa and the mideast where tyrannical events like those in Libya transpire on a daily basis, and whose peoples cry out for mercy and freedom just as loudly as those fearfully huddled in Benghazi.

Where Gaddafi is concerned, however, help and intervention needs to come without the overbearing price tag of blood, oil, and chaos, lest the Libyan episode becomes the third installation in a trilogy of tragedy and greed.

-- By Matt & Lynsey

Deadly attacks on protests in Yemen, Syria (Why no outcry about this from the United Nations?)

Security forces struck against unarmed demonstrators urging their leaders' ouster.

CAIRO - Violence shook the Middle East after security forces attacked protesters Friday in Yemen and Syria, leaving at least 46 dead in Yemen and three in Syria, as the region's authoritarian regimes turned to deadly force to stop pro-democracy uprisings.

President Obama condemned the Yemen violence, but his 110-word written statement issued to reporters was milder than the 1,257-word denunciation of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi that he delivered from the White House.

Human-rights advocates decried what they said was a double standard in the treatment of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally, and Gadhafi, a longtime villain in the West and a pariah in much of the Arab world.

"We're very surprised that the international community is turning away from what's happening in Yemen," said Khaled Ayesh Abdullah, 30, executive manager of the National Forum for Human Rights, a Yemeni nonprofit. "They're leaving us in the line of fire of a criminal." Read More

Turkey intercepts Iranian plane in mysterious incident - 19th Mar 2011

Turkey has intercepted an Iranian cargo plane flying to Syria, ordering it to land southeastern Turkey on suspicions the aircraft might have been carrying military supplies.

Turkish chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear search teams boarded the plane at the Diyarbakir airport and conducted a thorough search for hazardous substances. They reportedly only found 150 tons of food inside.

The Iranian plane was subsequently allowed to depart – allegedly for Aleppo, Syria.

But there are some confusing accounts surrounding the incident.

For one thing, Turkey's foreign ministry has denied reports the Iranian aircraft was forced to land by two Turkish F16 fighters.

The Iranian plane was reportedly operated by a private company, had two pilots and an unknown number of crewmembers on board.

The government of Iran has denied any links to the plane or its cargo. Tehran exports of arms or nuclear materials are subject to an embargo by the United Nations due to the government’s refusal to cease its uranium enrichment program. Read More

Fighter Jet shot down (video report) - 19th Mar 2011

Radiation In Japanese Milk And Spinach - 19th Mar 2011

Abnormal levels of radiation have been detected in milk and spinach near a nuclear power plant damaged after the northeast of the country was battered by a tsunami. The discovery came as engineers tried to restore power to vital cooling systems at the stricken Fukushima 1 site.

The contaminated milk was found in Fukushima prefecture, where the power station is located, while the tainted spinach was discovered in neighbouring Ibaraki prefecture, government spokesman Yukio Edano said.

He said the health ministry has ordered authorities in both prefectures to check where the products came from, how they were distributed and possibly suspend sales. Read More

Plane shot down over rebel-held city in Libya - 19th Mar 2011

Benghazi: Libyan rebels shot down a warplane that was bombing their eastern stronghold Saturday as the opposition accused Muammar Gaddafi's government of defying calls for an immediate cease-fire.

An Associated Press reporter saw the plane go down in flames outside Benghazi early on Saturday, sending up a black cloud of smoke after the city came under attack. The sound of artillery and crackling gunfire was heard in the distance.

Trying to outmaneuver Western military intervention, Gaddafi's government declared a cease-fire on Friday as the rebel uprising faltered against his artillery, tanks and warplanes. But the opposition said shells rained down well after the announcement and accused the Libyan leader of lying. Read More

Great Lakes phosphorus levels rising, report warns: Lake Erie 'poster child' for eutrophication

A mysterious resurgence of phosphorus in the Great Lakes is endangering the aquatic food chain and human health, says a binational agency that advises Canada and the U.S.

Fifteen years after the last programs to control phosphorus runoff ended, the International Joint Commission urged on Wednesday a renewed effort to get the oxygen-depleting chemical out of the water.

The call to action was one of 32 recommendations the commission made to both governments in its biennial report on the state of the Great Lakes at Detroit's Wayne State University.

The report specifically urges the two governments, which are currently renegotiating a binational water quality agreement, to include human health language in the agreement.

The report underlined a growing problem with phosphorous in the Great Lakes, especially in Lake Erie, which over the last few years has seen an increase in algal blooms caused by excessive nutrient runoff such as phosphorous.

Those blooms include blue-green algae — also known as cyanobacteria — which produce toxins that pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large quantities.

"We don't know where the phosphorous is coming from," Bill Bowerman, chair of the IJC's science advisory board and a wildlife ecologist at South Carolina's Clemson University, said during Wednesday's IJC news conference. (read more)

Disgusting: Small fish are ingesting plastic in Pacific garbage gyre -- "Entire food web being contaminated by plastic.”

Southern California researchers have found evidence of widespread ingestion of plastic among small fish in the northern Pacific Ocean in a study they say shows the widespread impact of floating litter on the food chain.

About 35% of the fish collected on a 2008 research expedition off the U.S. West Coast had plastic in their stomachs, according to a study to be presented Friday by the Long Beach-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project.

The fish, on average, ingested two pieces of plastic, but scientists who dissected hundreds of plankton-eating lantern fish found as many as 83 plastic fragments in a single fish.

Floating marine debris — most of it discarded plastic — has accumulated in vast, slow-moving ocean currents known as “gyres.” Researchers worry that the ingested plastic can kill marine life or work its way up the food chain to humans.

Though discarded bottles, containers and fishing line are slowly broken down into small fragments by pounding waves and sunlight, scientists don’t know if they ever totally dissolve. (read more)

Polar Ice Loss Is Accelerating, Scientists Say

One of the largest challenges in climate science is determining how the great ice sheets over Greenland and Antarctica will respond to the increase in temperatures expected from rising concentrations of heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere.

On Wednesday, a research team led by a NASA scientist unveiled a new study that is sure to stir debate on the topic. The paper concludes that ice loss from both Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating, and that the ice sheets’ impact on the rise in sea levels in the first half of the 21st century will be substantially higher than previous studies had projected.

The increasing ice loss means that, for the first time, Greenland and Antarctica appear to be adding more to sea-level rise than the world’s other reserves of ice — primarily mountain glaciers, which are also melting because of rising temperatures. In 2006 alone, the study estimated that the two ice sheets lost roughly 475 billion metric tons of ice.

“The big deal is that we did not expect ice sheets to catch up with mountain glaciers so soon,” said Eric Rignot, a climate researcher with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the lead author of the study. (read more)