Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Power company says smoke spotted at another Japanese nuclear plant

Smoke was spotted at another nuclear plant in northeastern Japan on Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The company said smoke was detected in the turbine building of reactor No. 1 at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant around 6 p.m. (5 a.m. ET).

Smoke could no longer be seen by around 7 p.m. (6 a.m. ET), a company spokesman told reporters.

The Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where workers have been scrambling to stave off a meltdown since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems there. (read more)

War drums beating: Ivory Coast: Pro-Ouattara fighters 'enter Yamoussoukro'

Forces loyal to UN-backed President-elect Alassane Ouattara have entered Ivory Coast's capital, residents of Yamoussoukro say.

His forces have been advancing from the north and incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo has appealed for a ceasefire.

Mr Gbagbo refuses to stand down despite the UN saying he lost November's poll.

Abidjan in Ivory Coast's main city, but a BBC reporter says Yamoussoukro's capture would be a major symbolic victory for the pro-Ouattara forces.

Some one million people have fled the violence - mostly in Abidjan - and at least 462 people have been killed since December, according to the UN.

In the western town of Duekoue, thousands of people have taken refuge in a church compound to escape the fighting this week.

In Abidjan, the UN says attacks on civilians by pro-Gbagbo youths have continued.

The BBC's John James in the northern city of Bouake, in territory held by the pro-Ouattara forces, says the enrolment of these youths into the army is due to start on Wednesday to replace soldiers who are not turning up for work or who have changed sides. (read more)

Woman uses 5-year-old son as shield against Taser

A domestic dispute that boiled over at a business led to a woman being arrested for disorderly conduct after she used her son as a shield against being Tasered.

According to Glendale police:

A 36-year-old Milwaukee woman was arrested for disorderly conduct/domestic violence at the service area at Andrew Toyota, 1620 W. Silver Spring Drive, at 12:15 p.m. March 24.

When police arrived, the woman was holding the hand of her 5-year-old son while shaking her finger in the face of her boyfriend, an employee of Andrew, while yelling, “Give me my weed back!” She also wanted her keys back.

The boyfriend, a 28-year-old Milwaukee man, gave her the keys but denied to her and police that he had her $5 bag of marijuana. She struggled with police, refused to give her name and held her son in front of her to avoid being Tasered. (read more)

Enraged Society, Broken Jaws: High School Hockey Players Will Be Held Accountable For Brawl

It’s the hockey fight that has a lot of people talking. They’re calling it “too violent – even for the pros.”

But there were no professional teams involved. These were high school kids playing at the Varsity State Championship Hockey game held at the Dr Pepper Star Center in Farmers Branch Sunday.

It ended with less-than-championship behavior. It turned into an all out brawl between the two high schools involved: Keller and Arlington Martin.

It happened near the end of the game when Keller was ahead 9 to 3.

“The ending ruined it to be honest with you, ruined a great weekend. Story should be about Keller winning the State Title. Not about this,” said Arlington Martin Coach Louie Greco.

Arlington Martin player Jeff SoRelle, who left the bench to hit another player, ended up with a broken jaw when Keller player Braxton Mills decked him from behind. (read more)

Japan nuclear crisis: evacuees turned away from shelters

Hundreds of people evacuated from towns and villages close to the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are being turned away by medical institutions and emergency shelters as fears of radioactive contagion catch on.

Hospitals and temporary refuges are demanding that evacuees provide them with certificates confirming that they have not been exposed to radiation before they are admitted.

The situation at the plant remains critical, with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency yesterday that radioactive iodine-131 at more than 3,350 times permitted levels has been found in a sample of seawater taken from near the facility.

The water is the most highly contaminated sample taken from the sea and indicates that radiation from the core of one or more of the reactors, where fuel rods have partly melted, is leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

A spokesman for the agency said the radioactivity poses no immediate threat to human health because fishing has been banned close to the plant and iodine will have been "significantly diluted" before it comes into contact with marine species and then enters the food chain for humans.

The eight-year-old daughter of Takayuki Okamura was refused treatment for a skin rash by a clinic in Fukushima City, where the family is living in a shelter after abandoning their home in Minamisoma, 18 miles from the crippled nuclear plant. (read more)

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.

Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel "lower head" of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said. (read more)

Near-record Sierra snow good news to parched California - 61 feet of snow so far!

Chris Rivest's father sent him from San Francisco to the family vacation cabin near the Sierra Nevada crest with a seemingly simple chore - clear it and the driveway of snow.

Easy for him to say. When Rivest arrived earlier this week at the cabin near Soda Springs, about 90 miles northeast of Sacramento, the snow was so deep it nearly touched the power lines crossing in front of the cabin. Snow was piled at least 10 feet high on top of the deck of the A-frame home.

"My dad wants me to clear the deck," the ponytailed 21-year-old said Monday, as he labored to clear the driveway with a snow blower. "How do I even begin to do that? Where would I put the snow? This is absurd."

Absurdly deep is how Sierra residents and travelers might describe this season's snowfall, which is setting records at some ski resorts and nearing records at official gauging stations.

The last round of storms that blew across much of the 400-mile-long range during the weekend added several feet to what has become a snowpack of historic proportions, and one that promises an end to California's lingering drought.

After state water officials release the results of their latest snow survey Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to officially declare the drought over, said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor's office. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought in June 2008 and a state of emergency because of low water levels in February 2009. (read more)

10 Days until US Government Shut Down?

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Tuesday "time is up" on the budget battle, indicating a government shutdown April 8 is increasingly likely.

Cantor ruled out further stopgap funding measures through additional continuing resolutions.

"I want to see a long-term CR here," The Hill quoted him as saying. "We've got bigger things to deal with. Time is up here."

Without further continuing resolutions, Congress has 10 days to come up with a deal that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September.

"We need to see [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and [Sen.] Chuck Schumer get serious," Cantor told reporters in his Capitol suite. "We need to see the president get involved." (read more)

First image of Mercury from orbit released

NASA released an image of the planet Mercury on Tuesday, the first obtained from a spacecraft orbiting the solar system's innermost planet.

The image is the first of many expected to come from the Messenger probe, the first space mission to orbit the planet closest to the sun. The Messenger spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury, started its historic orbit around Mercury on March 17.

The dominant rayed crater in the upper portion of the image is Debussy, according to NASA. The smaller crater, Matabei, with its dark rays, is visible to the west of Debussy. The bottom portion of the full image, which can be seen here, is near Mercury's south pole and includes a region of Mercury's surface not previously seen by spacecraft. (read more)

Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death

Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.

Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.

Hena dropped after 70.

Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.

Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena's family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter. (read more)

Oops: BP loses laptop with private info on 13,000 people

A BP laptop computer containing the private information of about 13,000 individuals who filed oil-related claims after last year's oil spill has been lost, according to the oil giant.

The laptop contained names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers for those who filed claims related to last year's Deepwater Horizon spill.

"There is no evidence that the laptop or data was targeted or that anyone's personal data has in fact been compromised or accessed in any way," BP spokesman Tom Mueller said in a written statement. "We have sent written notice to individuals impacted by this event to inform them about the loss of their personal data and to offer them free credit monitoring services to help protect their personal information."

The loss of the laptop, which can be remotely disabled, was reported to law enforcement authorities and BP security. Its loss came during business-related travel.

BP says they cannot release any information on where or when, the laptop computer was lost to prevent the investigation from being jeopardized. (read more)

Battle brewing? Palestinian dies in Israeli airstrike

Israeli airstrikes in southern Gaza killed one Palestinian and seriously wounded another Wednesday morning, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

"Israeli aircraft targeted and hit a terrorist squad in the Southern Gaza Strip, which had launched rockets towards Israeli communities yesterday," according to an Israeli military statement that also said a smuggler's tunnel was hit in a separate strike.

Hamas, the party that rules Gaza, confirmed the airstrikes.

"Israeli airplanes targeted one Palestinian citizen, injured other during raid on Rafah city south of Gaza strip," the faction's interior ministry website said. Palestinian medics said Mohammed Abu-Moa'amer, 24, died in the attack.

The Hamas statement also said Israel shelled a tunnel on the Palestinian-Egyptian border. No injures were reported.

The cross-border attacks come after a few days of relative quiet, following a week of heightened violence between the sides. (read more)

At least 11 killed in Thailand flooding

At least 11 people are dead after flash floods swept through eight provinces in southern Thailand, officials said Wednesday.

The flooding has affected more than 716,000 people, the country's disaster prevention agency said.

Villagers in one province, Krabi, have been asked to take shelter at temples or other areas, said a local official, Sombat Morakot.

"It rained severely in last couple of days," he said. "I have never seen something like this before. And when it rained, it flushed soil and logs down to villages."

Surat Thani, the largest of the southern provinces, has received 855 mm (2.8 feet) of rain since Saturday. The area typically gets 51 mm (0.16 feet) of rain during a typical March. (read more)

Psyche! Syria's al-Assad leaves state of emergency in place



Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defied expectations Wednesday when he made no mention of lifting a state of emergency in a national address.

He acknowledged that Syrians want reform and that the government has not met their needs in a rambling 45-minute speech to the National Assembly, but he made few concrete promises after weeks of anti-government demonstrations that have left 73 people dead, according to Human Rights Watch.

Al-Assad spoke a day after the Syrian cabinet resigned amid an unusual wave of unrest across the nation. Simmering tensions heightened after the speech in Damascus when a woman approached the president's car and waved her hand at its occupants.

Several people walking alongside the car -- apparently security officers -- took hold of and restrained the woman as others in the crowd surged forward. (read more)

Opec set for $1 trillion in export revenues

Opec, the oil producers' cartel, will reap $1,000bn in export revenues this year for the first time if crude prices remain above $100 a barrel, according to the International Energy Agency.

The cartel has been one of the main beneficiaries of high oil prices, which have soared in recent weeks amid the civil uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa.

Brent crude was trading at $115 a barrel on Tuesday.

Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said a new assessment by the rich nations' oil watchdog showed that the total number of barrels exported by Opec in 2011 would be slightly lower than in 2008, when cartel oil revenues reached $990bn. But if average prices remain around $100 a barrel, Opec's oil revenues will still reach a record of $1,000bn this year.

"It would be the first time in the history of Opec that oil revenues have reached a trillion dollars. It's mainly because of higher prices and higher production," Mr Birol said in a Financial Times interview. "However, Saudi Arabia has made substantial efforts to calm down the oil markets by increasing production and hinder prices from going higher." (read more)

Obama Ordered Secret CIA Missions In Libya

CIA agents have been authorised to carry out covert missions to help rebel forces keen to oust Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, according to reports.

President Barack Obama signed an order - known as a "finding" - for the secret operations in the past two or three weeks.

It came to light after US officials spoke to reporters following a briefing with senior members of the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The CIA and the White House have declined to comment.

However, it emerged after Libya's rebel forces were forced out of the key oil town of Ras Lanuf by a barrage of tank and artillery fire from troops loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.

Anti-government fighters retreated by 100 miles in just a few hours as Nato planes bombarded Col Gaddafi's forces. (read more)

UAE commits 12 planes to Libya despite Bahrain

The United Arab Emirates, a key US ally, said it has committed six F-16 and six Mirage fighters to help enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, despite reservations linked to unrest in Bahrain.

"UAE participation in the patrols will commence in the coming days," Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan announced, quoted by state news agency WAM late on Thursday.

"In support of UN Resolution 1973, the UAE is fully engaged with humanitarian operations in Libya," he said.

"As an extension of those humanitarian operations, the UAE air force has committed six F-16 and six Mirage aircraft to participate in the patrols that will enforce the no-fly zone now established over Libya."

A former UAE air force commander said earlier this week that his country had delayed its military deployment because of disagreements with the West over the unrest in Bahrain. (read more)

Supercell - Most Amazing Natural Phenomenon In The World - 30th Mar 2011

Supercell: Supercell is the name given to a continuously rotating updraft deep within a severe thunderstorm (a mesocyclone) and looks downright scary. They are usually isolated storms, which can last for hours.

Mechanical wonder: Robot bird mimics flight - Most Amazing Inventions In The World - 30th Mar 2011

One of mankind's oldest and most elusive dreams has been to recreate the effortless, swooping flight of a large bird.

Now scientists have invented a robot that not only perfectly mimics that flight, but could be mistaken for the real thing.

The SmartBird's revolutionary design allows it to start, fly and land autonomously. Read More


Catacomb of secret tunnels packed with mummified remains of EIGHT MILLION dogs is excavated in Egypt - 30th Mar 2011

A labyrinth of sacred tunnels packed with the mummified remains of millions of dogs has been excavated under the Egyptian desert.

The catacombs are estimated to contain the remains up to eight million dogs, many of which would have been offered to the gods when they were just hours old.

Others would have been treated as living representatives of the dog or jackal-headed god Anubis and would have lived out their lives in the nearby temple before being preserved and laid to rest in the network of tunnels.

The fascinating details come from Cardiff University scientists, who along with Egyptian colleagues are the first to examine the structure and contents of the complex underground network built 2,500 years ago under the Saqqara desert.

The catacomb, which lies ten to 12metres underground, consists of a long central corridor and a series of smaller passages that branch off it.

Sampling of small areas and bone examination of their contents suggest that the entire network is home to eight million dogs, as well as a handful of cats and jackals.

Some of the dogs were killed and mummified just days or even hours after birth.

With the need to mummify so many animals, perhaps thousands per year, it is likely the animals were bred in puppy farms dotted around the ancient capital of Memphis.

Pilgrims, who were not necessarily particularly well-off, bought the dogs, then paid for them to be mummified, in the hope of currying favour with the canine-headed god, Anubis. Read More

Huge snowfall on U.S. mountain resort set to break 60-year record - 30th Mar 2011

Mountain homeowners in California have been left stranded by blackouts and phone outages after huge snowfalls which look set to break a 60-year record.

More than 61ft of snow has fallen across the Sierra high country so far this season, second only to 1950-51 when a total of 65ft fell, according to official figures.

And, while spring has arrived, the Sierra typically gets some snow in April, bringing the prospect of an all-time record.

And the good news for Californians is the new storms promise an end to the state's lingering drought.

After state water officials release the results of their latest snow survey,Governor Jerry Brown is expected to officially declare it is over, said a spokesman.

Meanwhile,residents of Soda Springs, about 90 miles north-east of Sacramento, California, have had electricity or phone services only intermittently for the past 10 days after storms toppled power and telephone links. Read More

Threats claim nuclear bombs hidden all over U.S. -- investigation ongoing

The threats came in the mail and to date, there have been 25 letters that warn of nuclear bombs destroying America.

People who got them called the FBI and CBS 2′s Kristyn Hartman learned, the Bureau’s Chicago office is leading the investigation.

FBI Special Agent Andre Zavala said, “Yes, they alarmed a lot of people.”

The letter inside said, “The Al-Qaeda organization has planted 160 nuclear bombs throughout the U.S. in schools, stadiums, churches, stores, financial institutions and government buildings.” It also said, “This is a suicide mission for us.”

The writer, who claims to be Osama Bin Laden, tells the reader the nukes are remotely controlled. “It was clear the writer wanted to scare me,” said Rizzo, “Yes, it frightened me.” Rizzo was one of eight people in the Chicago area to contact the FBI.

Agencies in Oregon, California, Texas and Florida also got the letter with the Chicago postmark.
“There are items in the letter that lead us to believe it is a hoax,” said Zavala. “There are several demands documented that aren’t fully coherent.”

He said much of what’s in the message doesn’t add up, but in a post 9-11 world, the FBI can’t let it go – even if it does appear to be a hoax. (read more)

Japan pays 'suicide squads' fortunes to work in stricken nuclear plant as 'battle is lost for reactor two' - 30th Mar 2011

Four reactors at stricken plant to be decommissioned

  • Subcontractors offered £760 a day - 20 times going rate - to brave radiation levels but some refuse
  • One expert who designed reactor says race to save reactor two is 'lost'
  • Radiation levels in sea water 3,335 times higher than normal
  • Readings are almost three times worse than last week

  • Workers at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are being paid vast sums of money to brave high radiation levels - as experts warn that the race to save the facility has been lost.

    Subcontractors are reportedly being offered up to 100,000 yen a day (£760) - 20 times the going rate - but some are still refusing the dangerous work.

    Radiation levels are still extremely high at the plant, with water around the reactors emitting a highly dangerous 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

    There are also fears that the plant is leaking more radiation as sea water around the plant was found to contain levels 3,335 higher than normal - almost three times higher than last week.

    In a further development, an expert who helped design the plant said today that the race to prevent reactor number two melting down had been lost.

    The plant's operators also said today that the four reactors that suffered explosions will be shut down for good once they are under control - and could be sealed in special material to keep radiation in. Read More

    Workers endure austere conditions in averting Japan nuclear disaster



    They sleep anywhere they can find open space -- in conference rooms, corridors, even stairwells. They have one blanket, no pillows and a leaded mat intended to keep radiation at bay.

    They eat only two meals each day -- a carefully rationed breakfast of 30 crackers and vegetable juice and for dinner, a ready-to-eat meal or something out of a can.They clean themselves with wet wipes, since the supply of fresh water is short.

    These are the grueling living conditions for the workers inside Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They've been hailed as heroes risking their lives by braving high levels of radiation as they work to avert a nuclear meltdown.

    But until now, the outside world has known little about the workers' routine. (read more)

    Ex BP cleanup worker speaks: people are sick and dying in the Gulf



    This young woman, Jennifer Rexford, BP-hired oil cleanup worker, is documenting her illness from the toxins in the gulf with her video camera. If you think it’s just headaches or something like that, watch this. Severe neurological damage. Doctors and hospitals refuse to acknowledge this with anyone there who’s sick. And there are apparently tens of thousands now.

    Paul Doomm is mentioned twice in this video. He is a 22 year old who swam in and ate from the Gulf all summer, against his grandmother’s advice. He has been hospitalized after seeing 94 doctors who don’t know what to do for him. His blood had the highest amount of PAH’s ever documented.

    In this 2/21/11 video, Jennifer’s eye is swollen shut. She shows the results of a blood workup for Gulf chemicals and she is loaded with them. She also shows her hospital record, where she was diagnosed for stroke. The hospitals will not admit people are sick and dying from the chemicals in the gulf. (More info here)

    Mideast rebellion pushes on: Is it 'game over' in Yemen?

    Since snipers killed 52 Yemeni protesters a little over a week ago, events in the country have been progressing at a rapid rate. The shootings after Friday prayers drew nationwide condemnation and triggered a series of high profile defections – all of which served to increase the pressure on Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president.

    But the most dramatic development in the unfolding Yemeni saga has been the defection of Major General Ali Mohsin, the head of the northwestern military zone and the first armoured division. In a recorded speech aired on Al Jazeera, he declared that he was deploying army units to protect the protesting youth.

    Crumbling pillars

    Often branded Saleh's right-hand man, Mohsin was thought to have been behind the president's rise to power in 1978 as well as being considered responsible for the victory of the northern forces over separatists in 1994. His defection has removed one of the strongest pillars propping up Saleh's rule and threatens to split the army – the last card Saleh held.

    Mohsin's influence extends across many military institutions and it is widely believed that members of army units under his command are more loyal to him than to the president. But his clout is not limited to the military; he has built strong alliances with many tribal chiefs in northern and southern Yemen, as well as being close to the leaders of the Islamic Islah party. It is this network of connections that has enabled him to survive the eliminations that so many senior military figures have fallen victim to over the past two decades of Saleh's rule.

    Understandably, Yemenis greeted the news of his support for the youth movement with great enthusiasm, for it simultaneously opened the door for more people to join the protests, while adding to the cracks in the regime. (read more)

    Syrian Cabinet resigns amid mounting unrest

    Syria's Cabinet has resigned in an effort to quell a wave of popular fury that erupted more than a week ago, threatening one of the most authoritarian and closed-off nations in the Middle East.

    The country's state-run television service said Bashir al-Assad, Syria's president, had accepted the resignation of the 32-member Cabinet headed by Naji al-Otari, who has been in place since September 2003. The Cabinet will continue running the country's affairs until the formation of a new government.

    Mr al-Assad, whose family has controlled Syria for four decades, has been trying to calm the growing dissent with a string of concessions.

    The resignations will not affect Mr al-Assad, who holds the lion's share of power in the authoritarian regime, but he is expected to address the nation in the next 24 hours to lift emergency laws which have been in place since 1963 and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties.

    More than 60 people have died since March 18 as security forces cracked down on protesters, Human Rights Watch said.

    The announcement came hours after hundreds of thousands of supporters of Syria's hard-line regime poured into the streets on Tuesday as the government tried to show it has mass support. (read more)

    Holland: 12 year-old gives birth during school trip

    A 12 year-old Dutch schoolgirl gave birth to a baby girl during a school trip, according to local health services.

    "Neither the girl nor her family had realised she was pregnant, and there were no external signs to show it," a spokesman for the health services said, adding he did not know how many months pregnant the girl had been.

    The girl, from Groningen in the north of the Netherlands, was on a day out on Tuesday last week with her classmates where she began to feel violent stomach pains, the spokesman said.

    A supervisor thought the pains suspicious and alerted the emergency services.

    When ambulance staff arrived they saw the girl was on the point of giving birth and rushed her to a nearby building where she had her baby.

    Both "are doing well" in the maternity ward of a Groningen hospital, the spokesman said. (read more)


    Nick Clegg: Britain's proposed nuclear plants may not be built

    The next generation of nuclear power stations may never be built because they will be too expensive following the Japanese tsunami, Nick Clegg has suggested.

    The Deputy Prime Minister cast doubt on the future for nuclear power by predicting that a review into existing plants – ordered after the explosion at the Fukushima power station — would recommend higher and more costly safety standards.

    The Liberal Democrat leader insisted that no extra government money would be found to meet additional costs and suggested that energy firms would struggle to raise investment from the private sector as a result of the Japanese near-meltdown.

    His remarks, made in a briefing to journalists on a visit to Mexico, throw into doubt the future of Britain’s energy supply.

    The Government has given provisional approval to the building of at least 10 new nuclear reactors, costing around £50 billion each, at eight sites as part of the pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent in coming decades. Experts have cast doubt on the capacity of the oil, gas and coal sectors to fill the energy gap if the 19 existing reactors are not replaced as they age over the next decade.

    The Lib Dems had long opposed nuclear power but agreed in Coalition negotiations last year that existing power stations could be renewed as long as no public funds were involved. They demanded that energy firms no longer benefit from generous public subsidies and be self-funding. Now Mr Clegg believes the extra costs of protecting the new plants could prove unsustainable. (read more)

    $36 Silver- The Bankster’s Waterloo?

    March is setting up to be a very interesting month for silver. There is a tight and violent action between $36 and $34 silver. This is a battle between the Aware and the Banksters. Sooner or later someone is going to scream uncle, and the Silver Door will be shut for good.

    On the floor of $34 silver is the Aware that get the paper manipulation of silver. They include you and me, who no longer trust the dollar, stock market, bond market, ETFs, money market, 401k, IRA, pension, Social Security, FDIC, and any other piece of paper with counter party risk. Hell, even PIMCO does not seem to trust the US T bill anymore.

    The Aware also includes countries like China that have trillions in our fiat paper debt. China used to be the biggest exporter of silver 5 years ago, and now are the biggest importer of silver. In January, Chinese President Hu Jintao has said the international currency system dominated by the US dollar is a “product of the past”. In February, China imported 245 tons of silver. Follow the money folks.

    There are hundreds of reasons to buy silver and very few reasons to sell silver. And for every reason to buy silver, there are thousands of people who will buy and hold. The more physical silver in the strong hands of the Aware, the higher and stronger that floor goes.

    The ceiling of $36 silver consists of the banksters trying desperately to control the price of silver. The Elite have all of their power tied to the perceived value of their dollar. They use same old tactics of paper manipulation shorting, leasing and ETFs to keep the price under control.

    They also don’t want people to take physical delivery this month, which adds even more pressure to the battle. They only have 40,000,000 ounces in the registered category at the CRIMEX. $1.5 Billion takes away the whole ball of wax. That is literally nothing in this quadrillion-dollar dream world we live in. (read more)

    Will JPMorgan Now Make and Take 'Delivery' of Its Own Silver Shorts?

    There is nothing inherently wrong and certainly nothing "illegal" about J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) gaining a vault license for storing and taking delivery of gold/silver/platinum/palladium from the futures markets known as NYMEX/COMEX. However, the speed, timing and manner in which the exchanges just granted it troubles us.

    The process of being approved as a licensed vault or weigh-master/assayer for the NYMEX/COMEX futures exchange usually involves a careful security inspection of the vaults, a full report of that inspection, and a completely transparent package submitted to the U.S. Commodity Futures Exchange Commission (CFTC) for approval. This process will ordinarily consume considerably more than 45 days. Apparently, such correct and careful practices apply only to banks and independent storage facilities that are not J.P. Morgan Chase.

    Some vault operators are more equal than others. JPM appears immune from processes that everyone else must suffer through. On March 15, 2011, the Commodity Exchange (COMEX) and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) advised the CFTC that they had approved J.P. Morgan's application to become a licensed vault facility, using a "self-certification" process. The newly licensed vault, located at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, NY, NY, is ready to roll as both “weighmaster” and depository, for delivery of gold, silver, platinum and palladium contracts, as of March 17, 2011, two days later.

    As a smaller player, the NYSE-Liffe exchange uses COMEX licensed depositories for delivery and storage of its metals. The new JPM vault, therefore, will also qualify to accept delivery of metal coming from the maturity of NYSE-Liffe gold and silver futures contracts, including the smaller 1,000 ounce silver contract. (read more)

    US Approaching Insolvency, Fix To Be 'Painful': Fisher

    The United States is on a fiscal path towards insolvency and policymakers are at a "tipping point," a Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday.

    "If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt. "The short-term negotiations are very important, I look at this as a tipping point."

    But he added he was confident in the Americans' ability to take the right decisions and said the country would avoid insolvency.

    "I think we are at the beginning of the process and it's going to be very painful," he added.

    Fisher earlier said the US economic recovery is gathering momentum, adding that he personally was extremely vigilant on inflation pressures.

    "We are all mindful of this phenomenon. Speaking personally, I am concerned and I am going to be extremely vigilant on that front," Fisher said in an interview with CNBC. (read more)

    Property Taxes Reach the Breaking Point

    It really costs to own a home these days. Not only have home values fallen, leaving nearly one-quarter of residential mortgages under water, but also, local governments around the country have increased property taxes to make up for declining revenue from other sources.

    Homeowners now give a slightly bigger portion of their earnings to property taxes—which mainly go to public schools, with the rest going to government operations and other public services—than before the recession. The Tax Foundation, a Washington (D.C.) research organization that advocates for lower taxes, estimates that 3.5 percent of household income went to property taxes in 2009, compared with 2.9 percent in 2005. The median property taxes paid on homes increased to $1,917 in 2009 from $1,614 in 2005.

    How much is too much? In Miami-Dade County, taxpayers have had enough. Angered by a property tax hike amid plunging real estate values, as well as a pay raise to county employees and a new $600 million stadium for the Florida Marlins, 88 percent of 204,500 people voted to oust Mayor Carlos Alvarez in a recall election on Mar. 15.

    Miami-Dade residents pay the most property tax in Florida: a median $2,600 per year, according to the Tax Foundation, citing the average median real estate taxes paid annually from 2005 to 2009 in U.S. Census Bureau reports. Last year, Mayor Alvarez pushed for a 14 percent property tax rate increase to help fill a $444 million budget hole.

    "It's not proper to increase taxes by $178 million [in] this community—while over 50 percent or close to 50 percent of [homeowners] here owe more money than their homes are worth," Norman Braman, the billionaire car dealer who led the recall effort, told reporters. (read more)

    Libyan rebels flee east from Gaddafi Bombardment - 30th Mar 2011



    Libyan rebels fled in headlong retreat from the superior firepower and tactics of Muammar Gaddafi's troops on Wednesday, exposing the insurgents' weakness without Western air strikes to tip the scales for them.

    It took more than five days of allied aerial bombardment to destroy government tanks and artillery in the strategic town of Ajdabiyah before rebels rushed in and chased Gaddafi's troops 300 km (200 miles) west in a two-day dash along the coast.

    Two days later they are back close to where they started. Read More

    Five Libyan Diplomats Expelled From UK - 30th Mar 2011

    Five Libyan diplomats have been expelled from the UK, as Prime Minister David Cameron reveals that Britain has not ruled out arming rebels fighting against Colonel Gaddafi's troops.

    Foreign Secretary William Hague
    said if the diplomats remained in the country they could "pose a threat" to security.

    Sky sources say the five are regarded as the strongest supporters of the Libyan regime within the embassy.

    Speaking in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron said a decision had not yet been made on supplying anti-regime forces with weapons.

    However, he added that United Nations resolutions "would not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance to those protecting civilians in certain circumstances".

    His announcement comes after US President Barack Obama made similar comments in a series of TV interviews. Read More

    Pensioner died after teenage nurse 'set fire to her care home so she could be the heroine' - 30th Mar 2011

    A teenage care worker started a fire in a pensioner’s bedroom so she could be hailed as a heroine when she raised the alarm, a court heard yesterday.

    But the plan backfired tragically when bed-bound Irene Herring suffocated in her bed at Ancaster Court in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.

    Mrs Herring, 86, was rescued from the third-floor room by firefighters and rushed to Conquest Hospital in Hastings, but died the next day with husband David by her side.

    Nursing home assistant Rebecca Reasbeck, now 20, who denies murder and manslaughter, was working in the laundry room two floors down on the morning of the fire in February 2009.

    Prosecuting, Anthony Haycroft told Lewes Crown Court: ‘The defendant deliberately set fire to Irene’s bedroom in two separate places. She pretended she could smell smoke downstairs from the place where the fire was lit and she raised the alarm.

    ‘She did this so she could act the heroine, but unfortunately the flames got out of control, as well as the heat, and Irene died as a result.’ Read More

    Amateur skywatchers spot the Air Force's 'secret' space plane... AGAIN - 30th Mar 2011

    Its mission is shrouded in secrecy, a media blackout was enforced after its launch and there are fears it could be a space weapon.

    But whatever its purpose, the U.S. Air Force's latest space plane has met its match in a band of amateur satellite sleuths who tracked it down in the night sky - just as they did with its predecessor.

    The unmanned plane, known as the OTV-2, was caught on camera by an amateur skywatcher in Ontario.

    It had already been spotted two weeks before in the skies above Cape Town, by the same watcher who tracked down the OTV-1 last year.

    The Boeing-built X-37B robotic spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on March 9, inside an Atlas 5 rocket.

    The plane, which looks like a miniature version of a NASA space shuttle, is known officially as Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) and is the second to be launched by the U.S. Airforce in two years.

    USAF officials told Space.com the vehicle is being used to test out new spacecraft technologies, but the website reports countries such as Russia and China have raised fears it could be a secret weapon.

    Read More



    It's pathetic! Judge attacks 'ridiculously low' sentencing powers as she lets off benefits cheat who swindled £12,700 - 30th Mar 2011

    Sentencing laws that meant a £12,000 benefits cheat could not be sent to jail have been condemned as pathetic by a judge.

    Beverley Lunt said it was wrong that the maximum term she could impose on Darren Blagboro was 12 weeks behind bars.

    And because the double-glazing salesman had admitted fraud, she had to reduce that sentence and, in the end, suspend it completely.

    ‘Some may think it’s pathetic and that includes me,’ said Judge Lunt.

    The judge said the 12-week starting sentence was itself ‘ridiculously low’ for the theft of taxpayers’ money.

    But she complained she had to follow the Sentencing Guidelines Council, which advises the judiciary on what punishments to impose.

    She was obliged to give the 27-year-old credit – in this case a reduction of a third – for his guilty plea, which took the sentence down to eight weeks.

    Guidelines say that a jail term of a ‘question of weeks’ should normally be suspended, meaning Blagboro walked free from Burnley Crown Court. Read More

    Could this be the biggest find since the Dead Sea Scrolls? Seventy metal books found in cave in Jordan could change our view of Biblical history

    For scholars of faith and history, it is a treasure trove too precious for price.

    This ancient collection of 70 tiny books, their lead pages bound with wire, could unlock some of the secrets of the earliest days of Christianity.

    Academics are divided as to their authenticity but say that if verified, they could prove as pivotal as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.

    On pages not much bigger than a credit card, are images, symbols and words that appear to refer to the Messiah and, possibly even, to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

    Adding to the intrigue, many of the books are sealed, prompting academics to speculate they are actually the lost collection of codices mentioned in the Bible’s Book Of Revelation. Read More

    The invisible police: In worst forces, fewer than 10 per cent are actually fighting crime - 30th Mar 2011

    Fewer than one in ten uniformed officers in some police forces are available to man the front line at any one time, a damning report reveals today.

    There are also more officers on duty on a quiet Monday morning than at any other time of the week – and the fewest just after midnight on Friday when levels of drunken violence soar.

    Antiquated shift patterns, court hearings and training requirements mean that in two forces only 9 per cent of officers can actually tackle crime, the police inspectorate found.

    Bedfordshire, along with Devon and Cornwall, came bottom of a study into what proportion of officers in England and Wales are available to answer 999 calls or patrol the streets – the definition of front-line work.

    The watchdog found many other forces fared little better, with an average of 12 per cent of officers available to catch crooks and keep people safe.

    The findings come despite vast increases in police budgets over the past decade. Read More

    Watch out Gaddafi, this one could have your name on it! Allies' devastating air-strike near Libyan leader's Tripoli compound - 30th Mar 2011

    They are the images that must strike terror deep inside the dark heart of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

    Plumes of smoke and fire writhe in the air as the bullet-shaped bodies of missiles rain down over the Taiura suburb of Tripoli, near one of the Libyan dictator's residences, yesterday.

    Journalists risked their lives to get these incredible shots capturing the bombs mid-air in the impossible moment before they smashed into the ground, tearing new holes in Tripoli.

    While the regime focused on forcing rebels into a retreat, air strikes were launched against a highly-guarded residence of the Libyan leader in the suburb of Taiura late yesterday as Nato-led aircraft was reported to be seen flying past overhead.

    Getty images photographer Mahmud Turkia managed to snap pictures of the bombs falling on the ‘tightly-guarded residence of Muammar Gaddafi and other military targets.’

    Despite images like these, Barack Obama has sworn he and the rest of the Western coalition in Libya will not try to kill Gaddafi. Read More

    Girl, 5, in critical condition after being shot and injured by gunman 'firing indiscriminately' in a London street - 30th Mar 2011

    A five-year-old is in a critical condition after being gunned down in a London street last night.

    Officers were called to the Stockwell Food & Wine shop, in Stockwell Road, Brixton, South London, at around 9.15pm where they found the injured child and a man in his 30s also suffering from a gunshot wound.

    The pair - who police said are not related - were taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Detectives are continuing their hunt for the gunman.

    Both of the victims are understood to be Asian. The young girl is believed to have been shot in the chest.

    The parade of shops was cordoned off this morning and five police cars were parked outside.

    Stockwell Green Court, an access road behind the main road, was also sealed off by the police.

    Officers guarded the cordon and were taking the details of those who wanted to access the area.

    Shocked witnesses said that the gunman had opened fire indiscriminately hitting both of them.

    'The girl was shot in the chest. It's pretty bad. She went straight into the operating theatre. She was unconscious when she came in,' a source told The Sun. Read More

    Why haven't you called? Mars rover fails to phone Earth in over a year and now Nasa fears it is lost for ever - 30th Mar 2011

    It has been a little over a year since it failed to awake from winter hibernation.

    Now Nasa scientists are facing the increasingly likely prospect that they will never hear from the stuck Mars rover Spirit again.

    The U.S. space agency's mission controllers last heard from Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on March 22, 2010.

    Despite the dismal outlook, they will continue to make last-ditch efforts to communicate with the rover.

    If there's still no contact in the next month or so, Nasa will scale back its listening campaign for Spirit and focus on its healthy twin, Opportunity.

    Program manager John Callas, at the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, admitted that the fact Spirit has not called home suggests that something is more seriously wrong than just a power issue.

    The solar-powered rover became bogged in a sand trap in 2009 during a routine drive. Despite efforts to wiggle free, it remained stuck and could not tilt itself towards the sun as the Martian winter approached. Read More

    Ten-day 'punishment' of boy, 6, kept in squalid darkened room stained with dried blood and urine (and they get just 6 Months?)- 30th Mar 2011

    A six-year-old boy cowered in fear for at least 10 days in a darkened bedroom, surrounded by stale urine, a half-full potty and bloodstains on the bed and floor, a judge was told.

    The child was held in the squalid room at his home in Whitley Wood, Reading, Berkshire, as punishment meted out by his mother and her partner.

    As he sent them to jail for six months, a clearly shocked Judge Richard Parkes told the couple: 'It seems almost impossible to suppose that he [the boy] has not suffered psychological damage in being treated in such a manifestly unloved and neglectful fashion.'

    The couple kept the child a virtual prisoner in the blacked-out bedroom for 10 days without a wash as punishment for misbehaving. They allowed him out only for meals, to go to school and to see his natural father.

    A social worker tipped off by a concerned family member paid a surprise visit early on a Saturday afternoon in July and found the boy in bed, in the dark, with no toys, or pictures on the wall.

    There were large amounts of days-old blood on his bedding, his floor and his wall from a nosebleed Read More

    In search of aliens: New NASA picture shows 1,235 planets that could house extra-terrestrial lifeforms - 30th Mar 2011

    If aliens exist, these are what their planets look like, according to NASA.

    Astronomers at the U.S. space department have spent the last two years scouring the Milky Way for Earth-like planets in their quest for foreign life forms.

    And this is what they have come up with. The black spots represent 1,235 planets orbiting their suns, which have been arranged by order of size.

    As a point of reference, the lone planet on the right below the top row represents our sun, with Earth and Venus as tiny black silhouettes.

    Of these candidate planets, there are 54 where life could possibly exist in the 'Goldilocks Zone'.

    The 'Goldilocks Zone' is the distance from a star where an Earth-like planet can maintain liquid water and Earth-like life on its surface. Read More

    Drug Dealer MacDonald admitted five counts of possession with intent, and WALKS FREE - 30th Mar 2011

    A DRUG dealer was spared jail by a soft judge - even though he was caught with a massive stash worth £50,000.

    Colin MacDonald, 34, appeared for sentencing before Judge Stephen Holt after cops who raided his home found:

    90g of highly-addictive crystal meth rocks stuffed in a washbag;

    90g of powdered cocaine;

    100 ecstasy pills;

    85g of amphetamines, and THREE bin bags stuffed with dried cannabis leaves.

    Police also discovered seven boxes of Viagra, a large quantity of powerful painkiller Tramadol, self-seal bags and two sets of scales. MacDonald admitted five counts of possession with intent to supply Class A and Class B drugs at a magistrates' hearing. Yet Judge Holt gave him just a suspended 12-month jail term.

    And MacDonald, of Dollis Hill, North London, walked free.

    The case, which came to light a day after a panel of top judges recommended lenient sentences for dealers THEY regard as "small-time", caused dismay and anger among police. A source close to the case said: "MacDonald put his hands up early but no one was expecting him to walk out of court. Read More