Sunday, April 3, 2011

BP Set To Resume Drilling In Gulf Of Mexico

BP is planning to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a year after one of its wells exploded, causing a devastating oil spill.

The energy company has been negotiating with US regulators to restart deepwater drilling on 10 wells in the Gulf by the summer.

The Sunday Times are reporting that this deal has now been struck.

However, the move is likely to fuel public anger, as it comes a year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that sparked the worst oil spill in US history and killed 11 workers.

The April 20 blast leaked millions of gallons of oil from the well into the sea before finally being capped in July.

BP have spent around $41bn (£25.4bn) on cleaning up the devastation and paying damages. (read more)

S. Korea stages live-fire drill near tense sea border


South Korea's military Wednesday staged a live-fire artillery exercise on an island hit by a deadly North Korean bombardment last November, officials said.

The exercise on Yeonpyeong island near the tense Yellow Sea border began at 9.30 am (0030 GMT) and was scheduled to last about one hour, a defence ministry spokesman said.

Tensions along the disputed border have been acute since the shelling last November 23 killed two marines and two civilians and damaged dozens of homes. It was the first attack on a civilian area in the South since the 1950-53 war. (read more)

China's Hu warns Sarkozy on Libya strikes

Coalition military strikes on Libya could violate the "intention" of the UN resolution if civilians suffer, Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday told visiting French leader Nicolas Sarkozy.

The tough talk from Hu came during a meeting at the start of Sarkozy's mini-tour of Asia, which will include a G20 meeting on global monetary reform and a stop in disaster-struck Japan. (read more)

Choose dialogue or war, N. Korea tells South

North Korea told South Korea Thursday to choose between dialogue or war, as Seoul made its first concession on aid since the North's deadly bombardment of a border island last November.

The communist state accused Seoul "warmongers" of whipping up hysteria and confrontation over two deadly frontier incidents last year.

Relations have been icy since the South accused the North of torpedoing a warship in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives.

Tensions rose further after the shelling of the South's Yeonpyeong island, which killed four people including civilians.

The South demands its neighbour accept the blame for both incidents before relations can improve.

But Thursday's statement, from the inspection group of the North's most powerful body the National Defence Commission, repeated denials of involvement in the warship's sinking near the disputed Yellow Sea borderline. (read more)



BREAKING NEWS: 6.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF JAVA , INDONESIA - 4th Apr 2011

A POWERFUL earthquake which struck off Java in the early hours of today has stoked the lingering fears many Indonesians have years after a tsunami devastated much of the western coast of Aceh.

The quake, which hit at 3.06am local time (6.06am AEST), was felt across Java including in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, where buildings shook for more than 30 seconds, as well as in Denpasar on the island of Bali.

A tsunami alert was issued but later cancelled by Indonesian authorities who reported a magnitude-7.1 quake at a depth of 10 kilometres, with its epicentre in the Indian Ocean 293km southwest of Cilacap in central Java.

The US Geological Survey, however, registered the quake at magnitude-6.7, reporting it struck at a depth of 24km, 277 kilometres south of Tasikmalaya in West Java and 241km east-north-east of Christmas Island. Read More

Activists defy N. Korea, launch anti-Kim leaflets

South Korean activists Thursday launched tens of thousands of anti-regime leaflets across the border into North Korea, defying threats from Pyongyang to open fire on launch sites.

Members of Fighters for Free North Korea released gas-filled balloons which carried 200,000 leaflets containing news of Arab uprisings and calling for the overthrow of Kim Jong-Il's regime, the group leader said.

The 10 helium-filled balloons also carried hundreds of DVDs, USB flash drives and one-dollar bills, said Park Sang-Hak, the leader of the group of North Korean defectors in the South.

"We are not afraid of the North's threat and the village residents here have supported our activities for years," he told AFP, referring to Thursday's launch site at Gimpo on the western outskirts of Seoul. (read more)

Afghan riots against Qur'an burning spread

Raging protests over the burning of a Qur'an at a Florida church boiled over into Afghanistan's turbulent east and south on Sunday, as the Taliban joined the chorus of condemnation.

Pleas from the Western world for Afghans to show restraint in responding to the public desecration of Islam's sacred text overseas did little to stop the third day of demonstrations in the conflict-scarred country.

Clashes with police in Kandahar, in the south, left two officers and 18 civilians injured, provincial health director Oayum Pokhla said.

As news of last month's Qur'an burning trickled to other parts of Afghanistan, rallies swept into the east for the first time, flaring up in Jalalabad, where hundreds of people blocked the main highway and set fire to an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama. (read more)

Defiant Japanese boat captain rode out tsunami



Susumu Sugawara looks bemused and a little embarrassed at all the attention he's getting.

The 64 year old has become a local hero on the Japanese island of Oshima. Smashed boats adorn the coastline of this once-idyllic tourist spot, but Sugawara's pride and joy, "Sunflower" is intact and working overtime transporting people and aid to and from the island. It can hold around 20 people at a time.

When the tsunami came, everyone ran to the hills. But Sugawara ran to his boat and steered it into deeper waters. "I knew if I didn't save my boat, my island would be isolated and in trouble," he tells CNN.

As he passed his other boats, used for fishing abalone, he said goodbye to them, apologizing that he could not save them all. (read more)

French take control of key Ivory Coast airport

French peacekeepers in war-torn Ivory Coast took control of the airport in the main city late Saturday night, the French Ministry of Defense said Sunday, as a battle for Abijdan seemed to be looming.

An additional 300 French troops joined the United Nations peacekeeping mission overnight, the ministry added. There were about 7,500 troops already in the country under the U.N. mandate.

United Nations helicopters patrolled the skies over the city as a tense calm reigned Sunday morning, a local resident told CNN.

The uneasy peace came in the wake of claims of a massacre as fighters backing internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara battle forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to leave office. (read more)

Beijing church faces eviction in tense times

"God, we especially want to plead to you as we face these dangerous trials. Please find a way out for us."

China has arrested and detained dozens of lawyers, bloggers and dissidents after the online calls for pro-democracy "Jasmine" gatherings.

On Sunday, prominent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, a combative critic of Party censorship, was stopped by police from boarding a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong, his assistant told Beijing lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. Police also searched Ai's studio in Beijing, according to Pu and messages on Ai's Twitter account.

Ai could not be contacted on his phone.

In recent years, restrictions on "house" churches across China eased, allowing them to grow and become more settled.

These churches started as Bible study groups that often grew into large congregations, sparking fears in China's ruling Party that they could undermine its grip. But those fears eased in many areas in recent years, and many such churches are now much bigger than could fit into a normal house.

There are 40 to 60 million Protestants in China, divided between the official and unregistered churches, according to Carsten Vala, a Maryland-based professor at Loyola University who specializes in Chinese Christians.

The eviction is the latest chapter in a long series of restrictions on the Shouwang church, which started out as a "house church" in a rented apartment in 1993. It holds three services every Sunday, partly because even the restaurant cannot hold all the members at the same time. (read more)

China artist Ai Weiwei stopped from boarding flight -- has disappeared

Prominent Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has been stopped by the authorities from leaving the Chinese capital, Beijing, reports say.

There has been no contact with him since, and no comment from the police. One of his assistants told the BBC he had been held by border guards as he tried to get on a flight to Hong Kong.

She says police have searched his Beijing home, which is also his studio.

More than 20 dissidents and activists have been held in the past weeks.

China's authorities appear on edge over calls for a so-called Jasmine Revolution, partly inspired by pro-democracy movements in the Middle East. (read more)

Family dog kept watch over missing 2-year-old overnight -- while neighbours shut their doors and called off search



A missing 2-year-old boy in Elgin was found Saturday morning after Kershaw County deputies say the family dog kept him warm and safe all night.

Sheriff Jim Matthews said 22-month-old Tyler Jacobson was reunited with his family after he was found across the street behind a neighbor's home when someone reported hearing crying in the area.

Tyler was reported missing around 8:00pm Friday from a residence on Ashley Creek Drive. Matthews said the boy's mother, 25-year-old Jacklyn Marie Jacobson, and her boyfriend Jose Gloria told investigators Tyler went to get some juice and didn't come back.

Kershaw County deputies used a bloodhound tracking team and a SLED helicopter with infrared capabilities, but called the search off around 12:30am Saturday. The search resumed around 7:45am, and the boy was found shortly thereafter. "Just thinking that a dog would watch a baby over the night, it's kind of like a movie instead of real life," said Emily DuBose, who lives in the house outside which the baby was found.

DuBose had no idea a story of devotion and survival was playing out right outside her door. "When we saw the choppers last night, we just assumed a criminal was loose, so I locked the door," said Linda Harr, who also lives at the house. "The last thing I was gonna do is go outside." (read more)

FAA Records Show Previous Cracks In Southwestern Plane Grounded with Giant Hole -- 100 of them, in fact

More information is coming out about the Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737-300 that had a hole open up on its roof during flight Friday afternoon.

The flight was on its way from Phoenix to Sacramento when it had to divert to Yuma, Arizona.

CBS 11 looked through FAA records online and found more than 100 reports from 1999 through this year. (read more)

US: Census worker won't take no for answer -- John and Beverly Scott endlessly harassed

The first few requests were tolerable. A Census Bureau worker would knock on John and Beverly Scott's door and ask them to fill out an American Community Survey. The McKinley Park couple would politely decline.

But as the days passed, the visits became more frequent and the requests more urgent.

Some evenings, the doorbell would ring at dinnertime, then again at 10 p.m.

"I'm generally a nice guy. I didn't want to shut the door in her face," John Scott said. "I said, 'I'm not going to answer your questions.' She kept saying, 'You've got to, you've got to.' I shut the door, and she kept ringing the doorbell and tapping on the window." (read more)

Is this the first ever portrait of Jesus?

The image is eerily familiar: a bearded young man with flowing curly hair. After lying for nearly 2,000 years hidden in a cave in the Holy Land, the fine detail is difficult to determine. But in a certain light it is not difficult to interpret the marks around the figure’s brow as a crown of thorns.

The extraordinary picture of one of the recently discovered hoard of up to 70 lead codices – booklets – found in a cave in the hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee is one reason Bible historians are clamouring to get their hands on the ancient artefacts.

If genuine, this could be the first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ, possibly even created in the lifetime of those who knew him. (read more)

4 cases of dengue fever reported in Hawaii

The Department of Health says: it's an outbreak. There are now FOUR confirmed cases of dengue fever on Oahu – with results of 12 more suspected cases still pending. But, health officials are hoping this epidemic can be contained to small numbers.

Hawaii health officials have an all-points bulletin out for the aedes albopictus. It's a type of mosquito that has bitten at least four adults – three from the same family, plus their neighbor - who all live in Pearl City.

"I'd sent a medical alert to all Oahu physicians, letting them know about what we were investigating and to basically heighten their awareness," says state epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Park.

Health officials don't want to release the specific area in Pearl City because they don't want to give others a false sense of security that the outbreak can't happen elsewhere. In fact, the 12 suspected cases of dengue come from all over Oahu.

"We want them to be very aware that potentially we still don't know the scope of this outbreak," says Park. "It's not a matter of how far can mosquitos fly. It's actually a matter of how far infected folks may have gone." (read more)

Japan: Tepco fails to block Fukushima crack -- radioactive water pouring directly into Pacific

Tokyo Electric Power is struggling to block a crack discovered in a pit that is leaking highly radioactive water into the ocean at its Fukushima Daiichi plant, and said it had discovered the bodies of its two missing employees at the stricken plant.

Staff discovered the 20 centimetre-wide crack in a shaft storing supply cables close to reactor No 2. Tepco is making preparations to inject a type of polymer into the pit in its latest effort to block the leaking water, after Saturday’s attempts to plug the crack with concrete failed. (read more)

Mexico: Thousands missing in drugs war

A Mexican human rights organisation says thousands of people have disappeared in Mexico since 2006.

Mexico's human rights commission, CNDH, said 5,397 people had been reported missing since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels.

A United Nations study has suggested the security forces may have played a part in the disappearance of some of those missing.

Mr Calderon has deployed 50,000 troops as part of his war on the cartels.

The CNDH collated data provided by relatives and by state authorities and included all of those "reported missing or absent".

The commission said 3,457 of those disappeared were men and 1,885 women, while there was no data on the remaining 55 cases. (read more)

Delaware ripping down citizen's basketball hopes -- and one man who won't stand for it

The US recovery is little more than an economic 'sugar-rush'

Guess what! America is on the mend. That’s right, the world’s biggest economy is now forging ahead, escaping its sub-prime malaise.

Strengthening jobs data last week show the US has reached a “turning point”. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones share index just hit its highest level since June 2008.

As America cranks up, forecasts of higher energy use in the West are boosting oil prices. Brent crude extended gains to over $119 a barrel on Friday, a 32-month high. In London, the FTSE-100 joined the party, closing above 6,000 points for the first time since early March.

Equity markets are interpreting a slew of recent US data as “evidence” the global economy is on the road to a full recovery. Private employers hired 230,000 people in the States last month, building on the 240,000 new jobs created the month before. Forget America’s “jobless recovery”. Unemployment is now at a two-year low of 8.8pc, down from 8.9pc in February and 10.2pc in early 2010.

Survey results suggest industrial activity is leading the charge. The ISM manufacturing index has bounced back from last summer’s slump and is now at levels not seen since 2004. The index measuring hiring at US manufacturing firms is at its highest level in three decades.

American businesses finally seem to be “committing to the cycle” - indicating they intend to keep investing and employing. That’s why economists now predict the US will this year outpace the 2.9pc GDP expansion it registered in 2010. Consensus forecasts for 2011 growth have moved sharply upwards - from 2.6pc in December, to 3.1pc in February and 3.3pc today. (read more)

Safe? Genetically modified cows produce 'human' milk

Scientists have created genetically modified cattle that produce "human" milk in a bid to make cows' milk more nutritious.

The scientists have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk.

Human milk contains high quantities of key nutrients that can help to boost the immune system of babies and reduce the risk of infections.

The scientists behind the research believe milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.

They hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets. The research has the backing of a major biotechnology company.

The work is likely to inflame opposition to GM foods. Critics of the technology and animal welfare groups reacted angrily to the research, questioning the safety of milk from genetically modified animals and its effect on the cattle's health. (read more)

Gold Replacing Dollar as World’s Reserve Currency?

$105 per barrel oil. Cotton prices at record levels. Food prices at 2008 highs. Typically, such commodity price increases would send central banks running to the U.S. Dollar to secure the value of their savings. After all, the dollar has been the reserve currency since World War I.

But not this time.

Central banks are shedding dollars, reducing their holdings by about $9 billion in previous quarter, according to Nomura Securities’ Jens Nordvig, global head of G10 FX Strategy.

What are they buying instead? Gold.

The yellow metal hit a fresh record high this morning, while the dollar index dropped to a 15-month low. The news had Fast Money’s Brian Kelly looking to add more gold and silver longs to his portfolio Thursday morning.

“What is working is gold, silver and oil ,” said Kanundrum Capital’s Kelly. “I wish I had more.”

Gold and silver have become the inflation hedges of choice for some investors. Gold hit an intra day high today of $1,448 per ounce. Silver is trading at 31-year highs, hitting an intra day high of $38 per ounce. (Source)

Secret list of Obama's travel partners while on Brazil trip published by Brazillian journalist -- mostly CEO's and other Richie Riches

U.S. CEOs IN BRAZIL WITH OBAMA

JEFFREY R. IMMELT - CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC

Jeffrey Robert Immelt is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the U.S.-based conglomerate General Electric. He holds an A.B. in Applied Mathematics from DartmouthCollege where he currently serves on the board of trustees and was president of his fraternity, Phi Delta Alpha, and an M.B.A. from HarvardBusinessSchool. On January 21, 2011, President Obama announced Immelt's appointment as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers.. "Immelt will retain his post at G.E. while becoming "chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a newly named panel that President Obama is creating by executive order."

ARIS CANDRIS - CEO, WESTINGHOUSE

Aris Candris became president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company on July 1, 2008. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Candris served as senior vice president, Nuclear Fuel, providing fuel fabrication, components and services to commercial nuclear power plants worldwide. .He began his Westinghouse career in 1975 as a senior engineer in the former Advanced Reactor Division. Dr. Candris holds a B.A. from TransylvaniaUniversity in Lexington, Kentucky, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from CarnegieMellonUniversity.

JAMES T. HACKETT – CEO, ANADARKO PETROLEUM CORP

Mr. Hackett was named Chief Executive Officer in December 2003 and assumed the additional role of Chairman of the Board in January 2006. He also served as President from December 2003 to February 2010. Prior to joining Anadarko, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Devon Energy Corporation following its merger with Ocean Energy, Inc. in April 2003. He currently serves as a director of Fluor Corporation, Halliburton Company and The Welch Foundation. (read more)

Tell Your Lawmakers: Shut Down The New Debtors' Prisons


Americans are in more debt than ever before, and the banks are going to new extremes to squeeze us for every last penny: If you can't pay up, they'll try to get you locked up.

The Wall Street Journal has been investigating the disturbing resurgence of debtors' prisons throughout America -- here's one especially infuriating example of what the banks are up to: AIG got a $122.8 billion bailout from taxpayers. Jeffrey Stearns happened owed AIG $4,000 on a loan for his pickup truck. How'd the mega-corporation handle his debt? Did they forgive him because of the public's recent largess? No way: They had him arrested in front of his family.

After being handcuffed in front of his four children, Mr. Stearns, 29 years old, spent two nights in jail, where he said he was strip-searched and sprayed for lice. "I didn't even know I was being sued....It's the scariest thing that ever happened to me."

The Wall Street Journal's data reveals that across the country, banks are having tens of thousands of Americans arrested over their debts. What happened to Stearns could happen to almost anybody. Some state legislators are moving to outlaw the practice. Will you urge your lawmakers to join them? (read more)

China's workforce 'dries up'

The seemingly endless flow of young Chinese workers that helped to create the country's economic miracle has now finally "dried up", according to a leading economist.

For decades, China has been able to rely on its vast workforce to manufacture a host of goods more cheaply and efficiently than anywhere else in the world.

But now China's leaders are worrying that the country's one-child policy has begun to stem the tide of young workers ready to step forward into the country's factories.

"Each year, the number of new workers joining factories is smaller than the number of old workers who are retiring," said Zhang Zheng, an economist at the elite Guanghua School of Management at Peking University. "The supply has dried up," he added.

Last year, according to his calculations, only 154 million people under 30 were part of China's enormous 550 million-strong industrial workforce.

Mr Zhang added that it was not just demographics that was sapping the workforce of younger staff, but also the growing ambition of young Chinese to pursue further education and then white-collar jobs. (read more)

Scientists find waves are getting bigger

Ocean wind speeds and wave heights around the world have increased significantly over the past quarter of a century, according to Australian research that has given scientists their first global glimpse of the world's rising winds and waves.

Published in the journal Science today, the research – the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken – used satellite data collected from 1985 to 2008.

It shows the extreme wave height off the coast of south-west Australia today is six metres on average, more than a metre higher than in 1985.

"That has all sorts of implications for coastal engineering, navigation and erosion processes," said Alex Babanin, an oceanographer at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, and co-author of the paper. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 3rd Apr 2011


A 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake has hit the Fiji Region, 252 km (156 miles) West of Lambasa, Vanua Levu at a depth of 555.5 km (345.2 miles) today Sunday, April 3rd 2011 at 14:07 UTC

There have been no reports of Damage or injuries - No Tsunami warning issued at this time.

62 Zimbabwe Children Witness A Ufo And Aliens

Hundreds of Penguins Killed After Massive Oil Spill - 2nd Apr 2011

SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN -- On an island chain located halfway between Africa and Argentina, local authorities say a massive penguin rescue operation is under way.

A mix of island officials and resident volunteers are struggling to save tens of thousands of Northern Rockhopper penguins threatened by an oil spill in the remote stretches of the south Atlantic, roughly 1,500 miles west of Cape Town, South Africa.

The islands' conservation director said at least 300 penguins have died after a cargo ship leaked thousands of tons of heavy oil, diesel fuel and soya bean near Nightingale Island, a British territory part of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago.

"I've seen about 15 to 20 dead penguins just today," director Trevor Glass said.

Thousands more are covered in the ships' oil and diesel fuel, according to local officials and conservationists.

"The danger now is getting the rest of these penguins past that oil slick," Glass said. Read More

Space giant on the move: Russia prepares to launch mighty Soyuz into space ahead of 50th anniversary of Gagarin's first manned flight - 2nd Apr 2011

Russia is making its final preparations for the launch of its Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station ahead of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first manned journey into space.

The TMA-21 rocket is being moved into position at the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan before the scheduled blast off date on Tuesday.

The craft will have an international crew of US astronaut Ron Garan, and Russian cosmonauts Aleksander Samokutyaev and Andrei Borisenko.

The launch was originally delayed from March 30 so experts could resolve a communication problem with the Soyuz, raising fears over its reliability and whether the mission would begin in time to honour the April 12 anniversary of cosmonaut Gagarin's first manned flight into space.

The Soyuz TMA-21 is named after Gagarin, who went on to become Deputy Training Director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow.

However he died tragically in 1968 when his training jet crashed, with the actual circumstances of his death remaining a mystery. Read More

Facebook sued for $1billion over 'Intifada' page calling for violence against Jews - 3rd Apr 2011

Facebook and its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg are being sued for more than $1billion over a page that was on the social networking site that called for violence against Jews.

The page, entitled Third Palestinian Intifada, had more than 340,000 'likes' for its proposed May 15 uprising when it was removed earlier in the week.

The suit was filed by American attorney Larry Klayman in the D.C. Superior Court on Thursday.

He is also the founder of the conservative public interest group Judicial Watch.

In the lawsuit Mr Klayman describes himself as "an American citizen of Jewish origin" who is "active in all matters concerning the security of Israel and its people."

He alleges that Facebook did not take down the page that called for a intifada quick enough, keeping it up in order to 'further their revenues and the net worth of the company.'

The page was removed by the company on March 29, several days after various people complained, including Israeli Public Diplomacy minister Yuli Edelstein and the Anti-Defamation League.

A Facebook spokesman said that the claims were 'without merit,' adding that 'we will fight it vigorously.' Read More

Shaming the St George's Cross: Vile EDL thugs in 2,000-strong hate protest wear flag-coloured burkas to confront Muslims - 2nd Apr 2011

A demonstration by far-right group the English Defence League again descended into violence today as extremists began fighting among themselves.

Around 2,000 'protestors' - some wearing makeshift Burqas daubed in St George's Cross - took to the streets of Blackburn town centre, supposedly to demonstrate at the alleged spread of Sharia Law and militant Islamism.

The East Lancashire town, which has a large Asian population, was brought to a standstill by a huge police operation designed to segregate EDL marchers from a rival protest by Unite Against Fascism.

But trouble flared as skirmishes broke out among EDL supporters.

Thugs threw coins, a pint glass and exchanged punches. Police later confirmed they had made 12 arrests.

One man was knocked unconscious in the fighting. Read More

Ever wondered why Mars is red? One scientists thinks he knows (and it could happen on Earth, too) - 3rd Apr 2011

(Image) - Surface: Mars is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium.

Mars has not always been red.

At least that is the theory proposed by a scientist who has discovered a reason as to how the red planet got its rosy colour.

According to Dr John Brandednberg, about 180 million years ago, a planet-shattering yet naturally occurring nuclear reaction may have wiped out everything on Mars, sending a shockwave that turned the planet into dry sand.

He told Fox News: 'The Martian surface is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium - and this pattern radiates from a hot spot on Mars.

'A nuclear explosion could have sent debris all around the planet.

'Maps of gamma rays on Mars show a big red spot that seems like a radiating debris pattern ... on the opposite side of the planet there is another red spot.'

Dr Brandenburg, who is a senior propulsion scientist at Orbital Technologies Corp, said the natural explosion - the equivalent of one million one-megaton hydrogen bombs - occurred in the northern Mare Acidalium region of Mars where there is a heavy concentration of radioactivity.

This explosion also filled the Martian atmosphere with radio-isotopes, which are seen in recent gamma ray spectrometry data taken by NASA, he said.

The radioactivity also explains why the planet looks red. Read More

Find the Ritzkrieg 18: The suspects from the spending cuts riot who police want to identify - 3rd Apr 2011

Openly aggressive and filled with defiance, these are the 18 people Scotland Yard want to identify over the chaos in Central London last week after extremists hijacked a union protest against spending cuts.

Police said the pictures – from a range of sources, including CCTV – include young men and women sought in connection with violence against police officers as well as property in the Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly and Oxford Street areas.

During the protests, hundreds laid siege to The Ritz hotel, attacking it with paint and smokebombs – dubbed ‘Ritzkrieg’ in The Mail on Sunday’s front page headline. Read More

Fact or Fiction - Scientists develop genetically modified cows that produce 'human' breast milk - 3rd Apr 2011

Scientists in China have created genetically modified cows that produce 'human' milk, it is reported today.

They have introduced human genes into dairy cows to produce milk similar to human breast milk, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.

The researchers believe that milk from these herds of 300 cows can provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.

British scientists said the development had the potential to be of huge benefit, but the work is likely to inflame opposition to genetically modified foods, said the newspaper.

Researcher Professor Ning Li, director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University, said the milk would be as safe as milk from ordinary dairy cows.

He added: 'The milk tastes stronger than normal milk. Within ten years, people will be able to pick up these products at the supermarket.'

The rules on research into genetically modified food are more relaxed in China than in Europe, the newspaper reported. Read More

Libya's 'torturer-in-chief' offered asylum in Britain in return for help toppling Gaddafi - 3rd Apr 2011

Libya’s feared ‘torturer-in-chief’ has been offered asylum in the UK in return for his help to topple Muammar Gaddafi and his hated regime.

The secret offer to Libya’s former foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, was made while he was still in Tripoli and helped persuade him to seek sanctuary in Britain.

But any promise of special protection for one of Gaddafi’s most notorious henchmen has provoked anger from those who want Koussa, 62, put on trial for his alleged crimes.

MP Ben Wallace, parliamentary aide to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, said: ‘This man should not be granted asylum or any other special treatment; the only proper outcome is to bring him to justice.

‘Britain needs to make up its mind quickly. There will be no shortage of courts that will readily seek his extradition. The last thing the UK wants is for Koussa to languish, at taxpayers’ expense, in legal no-man’s-land.’

MI6 officers first made contact with Koussa, who has been linked with the Lockerbie bombing and the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan Embassy in London, in the first few days after the UN-sanctioned attacks on Gaddafi’s military machine on March 19. Read More

'Koran Burn Preacher' To Protest At US Mosque - 3rd Apr 2011

A militant preacher in Florida whose Koran burning triggered deadly riots in Afghanistan has vowed to lead an anti-Islam protest outside the biggest mosque in America.

Jones, a former hotel manager turned pastor who claims the Koran incites violence, said he will go ahead with a protest on April 22 in front of the US' largest mosque, in Dearborn, Michigan.The planned demonstration could further inflame tensions over the Koran burning, which led to two days of protests in Afghanistan that included the killings of UN staff and stoked anti-Western sentiment across the Muslim world.

"Our aim is to make an awareness of the radical element of Islam," pastor Terry Jones said at the church he leads in the college town of Gainesville, Florida.

"Obviously it is terrible any time people are murdered or killed - I think that on the other hand, it shows the radical element of Islam." Read More

Two Bodies Found At Stricken Nuke Plant - 3rd Apr 2011

The company that runs a stricken Japanese nuclear power plant says the bodies of two workers have been found, three weeks after an earthquake and tsunami struck the facility.

The announcement from Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco) is the first confirmation of deaths at the Fukushima plant, where the workers had been missing since March 11.

Spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said the bodies - of a 21-year-old and a 24-year-old - were not found until March 31 and had to be decontaminated.

"It pains me that these two young workers were trying to protect the power plant while being hit by the earthquake and tsunami," Tepco chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said in a statement.

The announcement of the death was delayed out of consideration for the families, Mr Tsunoda said.

The men sustained multiple external injuries and are believed to have died from blood loss, Mr Tsunoda added.

On Saturday, authorities said a source of at least some of the radiation was determined when a crack in a maintenance pit was found, but contaminated water still drained into the Pacific Ocean after attempts to seal it with concrete failed. Read More