Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Libya: Belarus mercenary 'paid £1,900 a month to help Gaddafi forces'

A mercenary from Belarus has spoken of getting paid £1,900 a month to help Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces fight against the rebels and said there were "several hundred" of his compatriots doing the same thing.

The mercenary, who only gave his name as Mikhail, said he and his colleagues did not take part in the actual fighting but acted as advisers and were always present on the frontline. He told Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that many of his fellow Belarusians were veterans of the Soviet Union's 1979-89 war in Afghanistan and often had Special Forces backgrounds.

The paper, which reported that Nato's tactics were being frustrated by Col Gaddafi's forces, claimed that the mercenaries from Belarus were responsible for the Libyan army's unexpected resilience.

"It looks very much like the Belarusian advisers have managed to keep the Libyan army disciplined and have told them how to use mobile tactics against the rebels and how to deal with Nato air activity," the paper wrote. "For now the Belarusian partisans are winning!"

Five hundred Belarusian advisers were in Libya before the war broke out though some had since been evacuated, it added. While the mercenary named as Mikhail said he was working for the Libyans as a private contractor, it was not clear whether some of the other advisers were on official secondment from the Belarusian armed forces or also hired guns. Witnesses in Libya claim to have spotted Belarusian mercenaries fighting on Col Gaddafi's side but the Belarusian foreign ministry has angrily dismissed the alleged sightings as false rumours designed to tarnish its reputation. (read more)

Afpak war drags on: Two tankers carrying fuel for U.S., NATO troops destroyed

Militants in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan torched two tankers carrying fuel for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, a police official said.

Abdul Aziz Bangulzai said armed militants initially opened fire on tankers and then set them on fire in the Bolan district.

"Four militants on two motorcycles attacked (the) NATO supply and managed to escape from the spot," Bangulzai said.

He said no one was injured, but the tankers were destroyed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but militants in the region have frequently targeted Pakistani security forces and supply trucks headed for Afghanistan in an effort to undermine U.S. and NATO efforts there. More than half of the supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan travels through Pakistan. (Source)

Gadhafi asks Obama to end NATO bombing in a lovingly written letter



As rebel and pro-government forces in Libya maneuvered on the battlefield Wednesday, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi urged U.S. President Barack Obama to end the NATO bombing of his war-torn country.

Gadhafi made the appeal in a letter to the American president, a senior administration official said.

But the official said there was "nothing new" in the letter, the thrust of which was an appeal for an end to the alliance's air operations. It contained no offers to negotiate or step down, and the official said the administration isn't taking the note seriously.

Gadhafi asked Obama to stop the "unjust war against a small people of a developing country" and said those in the opposition are terrorists and members of al Qaeda, the official said.

"We have been hurt more morally than physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you," Gadhafi wrote, according to the official. "Despite all this you will always remain our son."

The strongman expressed hope that Obama wins re-election next year, the official added. And he wrote that a democratic society cannot be built through missiles and aircraft.

"You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action," the leader wrote to the president. (read more)

Amnesty International: World needs to intervene in Yemen

The international community needs to step up and "play a more active role" in investigating the deaths of protesters in Yemen, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

Protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh have left 94 dead over the past two months, most of them during "Bloody Friday" protests on March 18, the human rights organization said. The United Nations has put the toll at more than 100.

Amnesty International cited an eyewitness who said most of the protesters killed that day last month were shot in the head, chest and neck, and they were left to die at the scene.

"The Yemeni government has an abysmal record of failing to investigate or prosecute those responsible for unlawful killings and torture or other ill-treatment," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for Middle East and North Africa.

In its report "Moment of Truth for Yemen," Amnesty International criticized the government for failing to release details about its investigation into the "scores" of protester deaths from the live ammunition used to break up demonstrations. (read more)

Illegal migration from North Africa to Italy reaching crisis levels

An estimated 100 or more would-be North African migrants remained missing Wednesday, a day after the boat they were in capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said. The incident is the latest of a number of tragic ends in what has become a steady flow of people who set sail from Tunisia to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Political unrest, increased enforcement in other areas and calmer waters have all contributed to what is becoming an issue that the European Union will have to face.

Under a European Union directive, the member countries are to distribute a mass of unauthorized immigrants through a yet-to-be determined formula among all the countries, said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute. According to this directive, temporary protection is triggered when there is a "mass influx" of displaced persons,

This directive remains untested, but the current crisis is such that they might be forced to face it.

According to Papademetriou, more than 22,000 migrants have landed on Lampedusa in the past few weeks. Though owned by Italy, Lampedusa's closest shore is Tunisia.

"Of course, it's a crisis, but the Europeans do not want to call it a migration crisis," he said. (read more)

Japanese Fisherman: Utility's actions in Japan nuclear crisis 'unforgivable'



Japanese fishermen have taken the offensive in their fight against the owner of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant, angrily calling the utility's actions insulting, incompetent and "unforgivable" over the course of the weeks-long nuclear crisis.

The National Fishery Corporative Joint Association, a trade group for Japan's fishing industry, issued a scathing statement Wednesday just hours after its members met with officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the crippled plant.

In it, the group demanded that the utility and the Japanese government "compensate all parties (that have) indirectly or directly suffered" as a result of the situation.

"Tokyo Electric has not been capable of understanding the damage at the plant and (contaminated) water. That led to this serious situation," the group said in the statement.

"Tokyo Electric and the government (share) responsibility for this situation. It is unforgivable," the message continues. "All those who are living and sustaining their lives on the sea are feeling strong rage against (the utility and the government's) irresponsible behavior." (read more)

Indian activist Anna Hazare says he is willing to die to end corruption

A veteran social activist in India has launched an indefinite hunger strike to seek tough, overarching laws to tackle corruption as a rash of scandals undermined the reputation of the country's government.

On Tuesday, activist Anna Hazare began his "fast-unto-death" at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar landmark.

His campaign, supported by numerous social reformists, has come in the wake of a series of high-profile alleged scandals that have rocked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's administration and investor confidence in Asia's third largest economy.

Hazare is demanding that a long-pending citizen ombudsman legislation, called the Lokpal bill, be widened in its scope.

Hazare and his supporters reject the bill in its present form because it does not empower the proposed bodies to prosecute corruption suspects.

Anti-graft crusaders have come up with their own draft of the legislation that seeks to create citizen ombudsman completely free from political influence and with wide-ranging jurisdiction.

"This fast-unto-death is a reflection of the people's anger at growing, all-round corruption ... at a time when the scourge is eating into the vitals of our society," said political commentator K.G. Suresh. (read more)

China blasts 'maverick' artist Ai Weiwei after reported arrest -- no one has seen him since Sunday

China's ruling Communist party unleashed a blistering attack Wednesday on dissident artist Ai Weiwei -- and on the West for criticizing his apparent arrest.

Ai has not been seen since Sunday, when he and an assistant said on Twitter that they had been taken into custody en route to Hong Kong.

China broke its silence Wednesday with a pair of articles in a Communist party newspaper.

One Global Times piece said he had been "detained by police, according to overseas media reports."

The other article, an editorial, said Ai "has been close to the red line of Chinese law... as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day."

"He will pay a price for his special choice, which is the same in any society," said the editorial, which called him "an activist," and "a maverick."

Ai, one of the country's best-known artists, helped design the iconic Bird's Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics, but later called for a boycott of the 2008 games because he said China was using them as propaganda.

The artist has also accused the Chinese government of trying to silence dissidents.

The Global Times editorial Wednesday blasted "Western governments and human rights institutions" for calling for his release. (read more)

Qurans can be burned, but don't dare speak against Obama, our Dear Leader: Man with anti-Obama sign attacked in San Francisco

A man who set up a table with political literature and a sign opposing President Barack Obama was attacked in San Francisco’s North Panhandle neighborhood, police and witnesses said Tuesday.

Initial police accounts had indicated that the man had a sign supporting Obama, but witnesses later said it was an anti-Obama sign with a Hitler mustache drawn over the president’s face.

The attack happened around 11:30 a.m. Monday in the 1200 block of Fell Street, where the victim, a 29-year-old Daly City man, had set up his table, said Capt. Denis O’Leary of the SFPD’s Park Station.

A man and woman approached the victim, tore the sign and shook the table, causing the political literature to fall to the ground.

The attackers also kicked the man in the hand, O’Leary said.

The SFPD captain said he did not know whether the victim was a supporter or opponent of Obama, but a witness who was in the area Monday said the victim was a supporter of Lyndon LaRouche, a left-wing political activist who opposes the president. (read more)

Tired of violence, Mexicans ready for mass protests -- an aside: 34,600 dead from drug wars

The murder of a well-known author's son in Mexico's out-of-control drug war has become a key catalyst for organizing nationwide protests set for Wednesday against crime and violence.

Juan Francisco Sicilia, 24, was found dead in a car along with four close friends on March 28 near Cuernavaca, 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Mexico City. Police also found the bodies of two close relatives of one of Sicilia's slain friends nearby.

Police said they found a message in the car signed CDG -- the initials of the Gulf drug cartel organization.

Juan Francisco was the son of Javier Sicilia, a poet and columnist for the daily La Jornada and the weekly Proceso, two of the country's leading publications.

The senior Sicilia was out of the country at the time of the killings, and called for the protests as soon as he returned to Mexico.

"We are sick and tired of you politicians... because in your struggle for power you have torn asunder the fabric of the nation," Sicilia wrote in an open letter released Monday.

"You have been incapable of creating the consensus that the nation needs to find unity," he wrote. (read more)

US Debt on Track to Hit 800 Percent of GDP; 'CBO Can't Conceive of Anyway' Economy Can Continue Past 2037

House Budget Chairman Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said President Barack Obama’s budget strategy is to “do nothing, punt, duck, kick the can down the road” while the debt remains on track to eventually hit 800 percent of GDP and the CBO is saying it "can't conceive of anyway" that the economy can continue past 2037 given its current trajectory.

Ryan also said that the House Republicans’ FY2012 budget, which he unveiled yesterday, would save Medicare and help the United States avoid a debt crisis. (Source)

Oklahoma sees driest 4 months since Dust Bowl

In most years, the dark clouds over western Oklahoma in the spring would be bringing rain. This year, they're more likely to be smoke from wildfires that have burned thousands of acres in the past month as the state and its farmers struggle with a severe drought.

Oklahoma was drier in the four months following Thanksgiving than it has been in any similar period since 1921. That's saying a lot in the state known for the 1930s Dust Bowl, when drought and high winds generated severe dust storms that stripped the land of its topsoil.

Neighboring states are in similar shape as the drought stretches from the Louisiana Gulf coast to Colorado, and conditions are getting worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The area in Texas covered by an extreme drought has tripled in the past month to 40 percent, and in Oklahoma it nearly doubled in one week to 16 percent, according to the monitor's March 29 update.

An extreme drought is declared when there's major damage to crops or pasture and widespread water shortages or restrictions.

While dozens of people in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas have lost homes to the hundreds of grassfires that have torn through the parched landscape in the past month, Oklahoma officials said more fires caused more damage as recently as 2009. This year, the biggest losses are likely to come from the drought's effect on the wheat farmers planted last fall and hoped to harvest in June, they said.

Almost all of Oklahoma is covered in some degree of drought. Only the far northeastern corner has escaped, thanks to a few big winter snowstorms. (read more)

Judge gives 'Juror No. 799' permanent jury duty after she makes racist remarks on questionnaire

An incensed federal judge sentenced a racist Brooklyn woman to indefinite jury duty on Tuesday after she trashed the NYPD and minorities.

"This is an outrage, and so are you!" Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis told the woman, holding up her bile-filled juror questionnaire.

Juror No. 799, an Asian woman in her 20s who said she works in the garment industry, was up for jury duty in the death penalty trial of Bonanno crime boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano.

It didn't take long for her to start looking worse than the defendant.

Asked to name three people she least admired, she wrote on her questionnaire: "African-Americans, Hispanics and Haitians."

When the judge asked why she answered the question that way, she replied, "You always hear about them in the news doing something."

She also declared that cops are all lazy, claiming that they sound their sirens to bypass traffic jams. (read more)

Rape of girl, 11, tears apart Texas town as many insist on blaming the victim

An 11-year-old Texas girl who accused 19 men of raping her was in foster care Tuesday, days after a raucous town meeting where she was outrageously blamed her for instigating the attacks.

"She lied about her age," Angie Woods told the Houston Chronicle. "Them boys didn't rape her. She wanted this to happen."

Speaking for many at the meeting in Cleveland, Tex., Woods insisted she was "not taking nobody's side."

"But if she hadn't put herself in that predicament, this would have never happened," she said.

The girl's parents were also blasted by many at the meeting last Thursday for failing to keep track of the girl.

"I also think the parents of that child needs to be held accountable," said Sheila Hightower, who lives in Cleveland. "You weren't even aware where she was."

The 11-year-old's mother suffers from a brain growth and the girl's dad is on disability, according to published reports. (read more)

Cops defend use of pepper spray on 8-year-old during tantrum; boy threatened to stab teachers

Colorado police are defending their decision to pepper spray a crazed 8-year-old after the boy threw a violent tantrum in his classroom and threatened people with a sharp weapon.

The boy, identified only as Aiden, had been threatening, spitting and cursing at teachers in his second grade classroom in Lakewood, Colo., on Feb. 22 when schools officials called the cops.

When police arrived, the pint-sized perp was wielding a sharp piece of wood trim he had torn off the wall and was trying to stab teachers with it, cops said.

"I wanted to make something sharp if they came out because I was so mad at them," the boy later told Colorado's KUSA television. "I was going to try to whack them with it."

Cops ordered the boy to drop the stick, but the boy refused, shouting, "Get away from me you f---ers!" police said.

Officer then sprayed the boy with two doses of pepper spray and handcuffed him. (read more)


Odds of US Government Shutdown Grow Due to Budget Talk Failures



The odds of a government shutdown appeared to grow Wednesday as expected face-to-face budget talks between President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and other top officials were not scheduled.

After meeting with the Republican speaker on Tuesday, Obama declared that he expected negotiators to return to the White House for further talks on Wednesday.

And "if that doesn't work, we'll invite them again the day after that," he promised. "There's no reason why we should not get this done."

Obama is scheduled to depart Washington for unrelated events in Pennsylvania and New York shortly after noon Wednesday.

One White House official told CNN it was still possible for a meeting to be scheduled.

"We're watching the modest progress that was made on the Hill last night," a senior White House official added. (read more)

US Gas prices: Up 20% from January

Gas prices have risen for 15 days straight days and are getting closer to the all-time high of $4.114 a gallon, reached in July 2008.

The average price of unleaded jumped 2.2 cents overnight to $3.707 a gallon, according to motorist group AAA. In the past three weeks alone, prices have jumped 4%. Year to date, gas prices are up a whopping 20%.

And it's not even summer driving season yet, when prices tend to peak for the year.

At this time last year, the nationwide average price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.83. That means that gas prices have gone up 87 cents, or 30%, over the last 12 months. (read more)

Sudan blames Israel for deadly airstrike

Sudan on Wednesday blamed Israel for an airstrike that killed two people near the coastal city of Port Sudan.

"This is foreign aggression," Foreign Minister Ali Ahmad Karti said. "We know that it was an Israeli strike."

Karti said Sudan will be lodging a complaint with the U.N. Security Council.

It wasn't clear who was the target of the strike, which occurred Tuesday. One of those killed in the attack was a Sudanese citizen picking up a passenger who had arrived at the Port Sudan Airport, Karti said. The passenger's identity is still unknown.

Authorities have begun an investigation, he said.

CNN got Karti's comments from the Sudanese Foreign Ministry. The same remarks were made at a news conference

"We have no information that it would indicate there was a Palestinian in the car, as had been implied," the foreign minister said.

The Israel Defense Forces had no comment on the report.

Israel has identified Sudan as one of the countries through which weapons are smuggled to Hamas and other militant groups operating in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, and to Hezbollah in Lebanon. (read more)

“Mortal Wound”: Japan Disaster Could Trigger Global Liquidity Crisis, Martenson Says

The ripple effects from Japan's crisis worsened considerably Monday.

First and foremost, engineers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant struggled to contain leakage of radioactive water into the sea.

Second, Toyota announced it will shut down all of its North America factories due to parts shortages while AutoNation warned "production disruptions will significantly impact product availability from Japanese auto manufacturers in the second and third quarters of 2011."

These announcements follow GM's temporary shutdown of its Shreveport plant and reports Apple is facing a shortfall of batteries for its iPad 2 as a result of the disaster in Japan.

Chris Martenson, author of The Crash Course, expects more "product shortages and associated work stoppages" in the coming weeks, and warns Japan's natural and nuclear disaster could inflict a "mortal wound" on the global economy.

As the title of his book and video series implies, Martenson has a proclivity to see events unfolding in a worst-case manner. But there is typically logic to his thesis, as is the case here.

In a nutshell, he sees Japan's economic crisis leading to a global liquidity crisis, which could trigger a series of "financial accidents," similar to what occurred in 2008.

If Japan needs to sell Treasuries to fund its rebuilding — or merely stops buying — it could be the first peg in the U.S. "funding crisis" Martenson, and many others, have long warned was coming. (read more)

Oil could hit $200-$300 on Saudi unrest - Sheikh Zaki Yamani

Oil prices could rocket to $200- $300 a barrel if the world's top crude exporter Saudi Arabia is hit by serious political unrest, former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Zaki Yamani told Reuters on Tuesday.

Yamani said he saw no immediate sign of further trouble following protests last month calling for political reforms but said that underlying discontent remained unresolved.

"If something happens in Saudi Arabia it will go to $200 to $300. I don't expect this for the time being, but who would have expected Tunisia?" Yamani told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference of the Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES) which he chairs.

"The political events that took place are there and we don't expect them to finish. I think there are some surprises on the horizon," he said in a speech. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: Ivory Coast -- Gbagbo forces hold off Ouattara troops, battle continues

Troops backing the internationally recognised president of Ivory Coast have been rebuffed in attempts to oust the country's incumbent leader.

Alassane Ouattara's forces launched an assault on the home of Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to stand down as president.

After hours of fighting, Mr Ouattara's men pulled back in the face of heavy fire from within Mr Gbagbo's residence.

Mr Gbagbo insists he won November's run-off vote, but election officials found Mr Ouattara was the winner.

That result was certified by the UN, but Mr Gbagbo has refused to leave office.

Mr Gbagbo and his family are believed to be sheltering in the bunker of his residence, in an upmarket area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast's main city.

He says Mr Ouattara's troops want to kill him, while they say they have strict orders to capture him alive. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: Portugal calls for EU Bailout, developing story

Portugal's prime minister has confirmed the country has called for a bailout from the European Union.

In a television statement, caretaker prime minister Jose Socrates said Portugal had requested financial aid from the European Commission.

For months Portugal has resisted increasing pressure to apply for help from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Until now Lisbon has said it could manage on its own, but its borrowing costs reached unsustainable levels after the collapse of the government in March.

Earlier in the day Portugal raised more than €1bn ($877m) on the bond markets with the offering more than two and a half times oversubscribed.

But the debt-laden country was forced to pay an interest rate 8.78% on its benchmark 10 year bonds.

The move makes Portugal the third country in the eurozone to ask for help, following Greece and Ireland. (read more)

Scientist finds a whole new 'domain' of life - 5th Apr 2011

Living things are currently split into three branches or domains – eukaryotes, or complex celled organisms such as animals, plants and humans – and two simple celled microorganism divisions – bacteria and archaea.

But now a researcher working with the laboratory of the maverick scientist Dr Craig Venter claims he might have discovered a fourth.

Professor Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, has used complicated gene sequencing techniques to look at DNA collected by Dr Venter on a round the world yachting trip.

He found that some of the genes did not fit into the three domains and that he could possibly have stumbled on a whole new domain.

Trying to classify the new DNA has proved impossible and so Prof Eisen has published his findings in the journal Public Library of Science in the hope others can help.

"The question is, what are they from?" said Prof Eisen.

"They could represent an unusual virus, which is interesting enough. More interestingly still, they could represent a totally new branch in the tree of life.

"Even though we did not have the story completely pinned down, we decided to finally write up the paper to get other people to think about this issue." Read More

Belgium UFO chased by Fighter Jets - Most Amazing UFO Sightings In The World - 6th Apr 2011

This is an old sighting from the early 90's, Belgium Experienced a huge spate of sightings all over Belgium during this period.

Project MK-ULTRA - Most EVIL HUMAN Experiments - 6th Apr 2011

Project MK-ULTRA

Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s, and it used U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects.

The published evidence indicates that Project MKULTRA involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate individual mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, sensory deprivation, isolation, and verbal and sexual abuse.

Project MKULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms' destruction order.

In 1977, a FOIA request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to project MKULTRA, which led to the Senate Hearings of 1977. In recent times most information regarding MKULTRA has been officially declassified.

Although the CIA insists that MKULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continued. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti specifically called the CIA claim that MKULTRA was abandoned a "cover story."

On the Senate floor in 1977, Senator Ted Kennedy said:

The Deputy Director of the CIA revealed that over thirty universities and institutions were involved in an "extensive testing and experimentation" program which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens "at all social levels, high and low, native Americans and foreign." Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to "unwitting subjects in social situations." At least one death, that of Dr. Olson, resulted from these activities. The Agency itself acknowledged that these tests made little scientific sense. The agents doing the monitoring were not qualified scientific observers. Source


Moeraki Boulders - Most Amazing Natural Phenomenon In The World - 6th Apr 2011


Moeraki Boulders - The Moeraki Boulders are unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave cut Otago coast of New Zealand between Moeraki and Hampden. They occur scattered either as isolated or clusters of boulders within a stretch of beach where they have been protected in a scientific reserve.


Why melting ice in the Arctic could cause temperatures in Britain to plummet - 6th Apr 2011

A massive pool of melted ice water in the Arctic Ocean is threatening to spill into the Atlantic and potentially alter the key ocean currents that give Britain its moderate climate, scientists have warned.

The average temperature in Britain could possibly fall by several degrees as a result, it is claimed.

Oceanographers yesterday said that the unusual accumulation has been caused by Siberian and Canadian rivers dumping more water into the Arctic and from melting sea ice.

Both are consequences of global warming, they pointed out.

If the meltwater flushes into the Atlantic, the infusion of fresh water could, in the worst case, change the ocean current that brings warmth from the tropics to European shores, said Laura De Steur of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

German researcher Benjamin Rabe, of the Alfred Wegener Institute, said the Arctic's fresh water content had increased 20 per cent since the 1990s - or about 8,400 cubic kilometres.

That is the equivalent of double the volume of water in Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake. Read More

Match made in heaven: Earth finds new companion as giant asteroid joins its path around the sun - 6th Apr 2011

Earth has found a new companion that has joined its orbit around the sun, scientists have revealed.

It may not have the most romantic of names, but Asteroid 2010 SO16 could pursue Earth for anywhere between the next 120,000 to a million years.

And at a few hundred metres across, it is the largest space rock ever discovered so close to earth.

But there is something unusual about SO16, say Apostolos Christou and David Asher who discovered the giant floating rock last September at the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland.

Rather than follow its new friend all the way round, SO16 orbits the sun in a horseshoe shape, playing a constant game of catch up with Earth, they say.

The closer to the sun an object is, the faster it will orbit.

So when SO16 entered the sun's orbit, it was further away than Earth and therefore slower.

When Earth finally caught up with the asteroid, instead of overtaking it, its gravitational pull drew it closer to the sun sending it back round at a faster pace. Read More

Is there a shark stalking the Norfolk coast? Alert after two savaged porpoises are washed up on beaches - 6th Apr 2011

Fears are growing that a giant shark or killer whale could be stalking the coast of Norfolk.

A second porpoise has been found washed up on a beach with chunks bitten out of it, raising fears of a large predator in the area.

Linzi Smith, 29, and fiancé Steve Hunt, 36, found the creature while walking on the beach at Winterton near the holiday resort of Great Yarmouth.

The savage bite marks suggest it could have been mauled by a shark or killer whale.

The find was made just days after walker Hollie Moran, 24, found another 5ft porpoise with chunks taken out of its head and tail on the beach two miles away at Horsey.

Administrative assistant Miss Smith of Long Stratton, Norfolk, said she only realised the significance of her find on March 14 after she read a report about the other porpoise.

She said: 'We love walking along the beach at Winterton because that is where we had our first date.

'When we spotted the dead porpoise it was a bit of a shock to the system.

'Close up, you could see its stomach was gashed open and there were obvious bite marks towards the tail as well. Read More

Summer's here early! Hottest day of the year as mercury hits 23C... and it will be a sizzler this weekend - 6th Apr 2011

Temperatures hotter than the Mediterranean

Millions of people packed into parks and beaches today to enjoy the hottest day of the year so far as temperatures reached almost 23C - and are set to continue over the weekend.

Record temperatures soared to 22.9C (73F) in Gravesend, Kent - hotter than parts of the Mediterranean including Malta, Athens and Barcelona.

The sizzling weather will continue over the weekend with thousands of Britons set to head for the coast to soak up the heat and up to 70,000 are expected at Aintree for the Grand National.

Britons will experience temperatures that are usually seen in the throngs of summer, at tournaments like Wimbledon.

Temperatures at this time of the year usually struggle to get above 12C (54F) and are accompanied by April showers.

But after the driest March on record for more than 100 years, this month looks set to continue the trend with soaring temperatures. Read More

Note: The same is happening in other European Countries, France, Nederland and Belgium also saw temperatures of 23C

Fukushima reactor no. 2 may have melted through containment, creating more problems -- but things "aren't clear"

A top official from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Wednesday it was not clear that Japan's Fukushima No. 2 nuclear reactor has melted through the reactor pressure vessel.

Earlier, Democratic lawmaker Edward Markey told a House of Representatives hearing on the nuclear disaster that the NRC had told him the core had melted through the vessel.

"That's not clear to us, nor is it clear to us that the reactor has penetrated the vessel," said Martin Virgilio, deputy executive director for reactor and preparedness programs at the NRC. (Source)

Ron Paul to Announce Presidential Bid Next Month



Congressman Paul said he will soon make a “token decision” if he will participate in a presidential debate to be held in South Carolina in May. Dr. Paul said he will likely agree to be included in the debate between potential presidential contenders without a commitment to run or officially filing legal papers declaring his candidacy.

“We’re getting awfully close,” Paul explained, “and there are just a few other things I have to iron out personally to make my final decision.” He noted no other hopefuls – with the exception of Obama – have announced their intention to run for president. (read more)

Obama leaving Washington to make campaign speeches even though entire US government about to shut down

A fiery President Obama insisted Tuesday that if he and congressional leaders couldn’t reach a deal to avert a government shutdown, “I want a meeting again tomorrow here at the White House.”

“I will invite the same folks that we invited today,” he added. “And if that doesn’t work, we’ll invite them again the day after that. And I will have my entire team available to work through the details of getting a deal done.”

Obama’s team may not include the president himself. Despite the impasse in Washington over federal spending, the president as of early Wednesday was scheduled to give two speeches outside of Washington: one on energy in the Philadelphia suburbs, then another Wednesday evening to a group of black political activists in New York.

If the schedule remains intact, it will be the president’s first trip outside the capital since he officially declared Monday he will seek a second term. And while Obama (D) and his aides have repeated said he will not focus on his campaign in the next few months, his schedule may contradict those words. (read more)

Thom Hartmann: 7 tons of radioactivity waste into the ocean hourly from Fukushima plant in Japan?

Unseen Japan tsunami pics: Newly-released pictures show people clinging on for their lives as the tsunami hit Japan

US considers probe into Google's internet search dominance

US authorities are said to be considering a competition investigation into Google's dominance of internet searches in America.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one of the two arms of government responsible for regulating competition, is considering a broad investigation, according to Bloomberg. Any decision by the FTC reportedly won't be made until the Department of Justice has decided whether to officially challenge Google's planned takeover of ITA Software, which develops software used in online travel bookings.

The possibility of an investigation by authorities in Washington DC comes less than a week after Microsoft added its name to a list of complaints already made by smaller companies in Europe and currently being considered by regulators there. Speculation about an incvestigation has grown since Thomas Rosch, one of the FTC's five commissioners, said last month that he backed a look at the internet search business in the US.

"It's very hard to go through a day without using Google," said Colin Ellis, an analyst at BGC Partners in New York. "Google is in the regulatory cross-hairs right now." A spokesman for the FTC declined to comment.

If the FTC decides to investigate, their focus is likely to be how Google generates its search results. Microsoft, which is trying to grow a competing search engine known as Bing, alleged last week that Google damages the ability of users to find YouTube videos through Bing.

"Since competition is one click away on the Internet, we work hard to put our users' interests first," a spokesman for Google said. "We built Google for consumers, not websites." (read more)

Corporate profits increasing due to reducing number of workers? Is unemployment a boon for profits?

Today we have another story typical of our times, another episode of our favorite daytime soap opera The Rich Get Richer. Corporations are piling up huge profits and sitting on huge piles of cash even as they lobby for lower taxes and avoid hiring new workers. McClatchy gives us the story in Strong corporate profits amid a weak economy - what's up with that?

WASHINGTON — U.S. corporations continue to post strong profits quarter after quarter, even as the unemployment rate remains high and the U.S. economic recovery plods along in fits and starts. What gives?

Corporate profits grew 36.8 percent in 2010, the biggest gain since 1950, according to Friday's latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. No sign could be more clear that U.S. companies see the so-called Great Recession in the rearview mirror.

The strong profits, however, mask the continued difficult terrain for businesses. Yes, profits are high, but that doesn't mean business is strong.

[U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief economist Martin] Regalia and other analysts think several factors are behind the strong profits, which seem to contradict other indicators of an underperforming economy, especially the 8.9 percent unemployment rate. These factors include record low interest rates since late 2008, muted demand for borrowing by companies and a surge in productivity that has allowed companies to do more with the same number of workers or fewer.

Profits aren't rising solely because companies are making and selling more widgets to keep up with customer demand, which would be the case in a healthy, booming economy. Instead, they're more profitable because it now costs less to make the same widget, often because there are far fewer workers needed to make it... (read more)

Cyberwar Between US And China In 2020?

As Iran's nuclear plant attack and Chinese-based hackers attacking Morgan Stanley demonstrate how the Internet can wreak havoc on business and governments, a new paper by a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy hypothesizes what an all-out cyberwar between the U.S. and China might look like.

To date, the cyberattacks in East Asia have been relatively benign, said Christopher Bronk, author of "Blown to Bits: China's War in Cyberspace, August-September 2020," published this month in the U.S. Air Force journal Strategic Studies Quarterly.

Bronk is a fellow in information technology policy at the Baker Institute and a former U.S. State Department diplomat.

"Web pages are defaced, allegations of espionage are leveled and, generally, a status quo of sorts is maintained. The threat politics of the cyberdomain, however, do not stand still," Bronk said.

"China has been deeply impressed by U.S. information dominance since the 1991 Gulf War. China has produced a considerable literature of strategic studies for cyberoperations while developing a national firewall system that shields the country from a considerable portion of Web content.

"The United States, too, has made strategic moves in cyberspace and is in the process of building a Department of Defense cybercommand that will manage the efforts of thousands of civilian and military 'cyberwarriors,'" Bronk said. (read more)

Russia planning to double strategic and tactical missile production by 2013: Putin

Russia plans to double the production of strategic and tactical missile systems from 2013, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, Russian news agencies reported.

"Already from 2013 production of missile systems should virtually double," Putin said, adding that Russian air-defence troops would receive the S-400, an advanced surface-to-air missile system, as part of a current army overhaul. (read more)

Iran only making slow nuclear progress: expert

Iran is not making fast progress towards acquiring a nuclear weapon, a US expert said Friday, adding he believed Tehran would still need another two years to achieve that goal.

"Iran is not moving as fast as it could. They've been at it since 25 years since they started the Iranian enrichment program in about 1985," said Mark Fitzpatrick, from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

He said Iran would still need "a little over two years to have a bomb."

Fitzpatrick also compared Tehran's slow progress to the 11 years it took Pakistan to acquire a nuclear capacity, as he presented an IISS report entitled "Iran's nuclear, chemical and biological capabilities: a net assessment."

But Fitzpatrick, a former State Department employee, added Iran had still not yet completely decided whether to press ahead with making a nuclear bomb. (read more)

Are whites racially oppressed?

They marched on Washington to reclaim civil rights.

They complained of voter intimidation at the polls.

They called for ethnic studies programs to promote racial pride.

They are, some say, the new face of racial oppression in this nation -- and their faces are white.

"We went from being a privileged group to all of a sudden becoming whites, the new victims,'' says Charles Gallagher, a sociologist at La Salle University in Pennsylvania who researches white racial attitudes and was baffled to find that whites see themselves as a minority.

"You have this perception out there that whites are no longer in control or the majority. Whites are the new minority group."

Call it racial jujitsu: A growing number of white Americans are acting like a racially oppressed majority. They are adopting the language and protest tactics of an embattled minority group, scholars and commentators say.

They point to these signs of racial anxiety:

• A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll found 44% of Americans surveyed identify discrimination against whites as being just as big as bigotry aimed at blacks and other minorities. The poll found 61% of those identifying with the Tea Party held that view, as did 56% of Republicans and 57% of white evangelicals. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: Final assault commences against incumbent Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo

Forces loyal to Ivory Coast's elected President Alassane Ouattara stormed the residence of his rival Laurent Gbagbo Wednesday, an Ouattara spokeswoman said, potentially heralding the end of a bloody conflict in the West African country.

The Ouattara forces are inside Gbagbo's residence but have not captured him yet, said Affoussy Bamba from the main city, Abidjan. They discovered heavy weapons inside the residence, she said.

A spokesman for Gbagbo, Ahoua Don Mello, confirmed the residence was under attack and expressed amazement at the assault.

Gbagbo is prepared to discuss African Union proposals for a handover of power, but cannot talk about surrender before discussions even begin, his spokesman said. (read more)

Strange Blue Light Spotted over Russia - 5th Apr 2011

US-Backed Regime In Yemen Carries Out New Slaughter Of Protesters - 6th Apr 2011

The regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, which continues to enjoy the support of the Obama administration and other Western powers, carried out another massacre of anti-government demonstrators Monday, in the southwestern city of Taiz.

The exact number of the dead is unknown, as police reportedly removed some of the bodies in their vehicles, but the head of a makeshift hospital in the city’s center told Agence France-Presse that at least 17 people were killed and dozens wounded when police and military opened fire on tens of thousands of protesters. Other sources indicated that 30 people remained in critical condition.

Monday’s incident was the worst atrocity carried out by the Saleh regime since the murder of at least 52 demonstrators in the capital city of Sanaa on March 18.

Photographs reveal an immense crowd flooding the streets of Taiz, a city of some 460,000 near the Mandab Strait that connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden. The protesters, demanding the departure of the dictator Saleh, were attacked near the provincial governor’s headquarters, as they marched toward Freedom Square.

A Washington Post reporter spoke to Yaser Alnusari, a medic in Taiz, who explained that the “first four of the protesters who were killed were shot by snipers at the governor’s office.… The protesters were in tens of thousands and were protesting on most of the main streets in Taiz. They were condemning the violent actions that took place against them yesterday.” On Sunday, security forces in Taiz killed two demonstrators and wounded several others.

The Post noted that televised images showed “police clutching guns, tear gas canisters and batons [targeting] unarmed protesters marching toward a provincial government building.” Read More

TEPCO's 12$ compensation Offer - Reaction - 6th Apr 2011

ANOTHER Southwest flight is forced to land as cracks are found in FIVE more planes after government ordered emergency checks on passenger jets 5th Apr

Southwest Airlines's woes show no signs of stopping as yet another flight was forced to land shortly after take off due to an unknown fault.

The flight carrying 103 passengers which was travelling from Oakland to Denver returned almost immediately after a wing slat warning light made the pilot decide it was safer to turn around.

The latest problem came at the same time the airline revealed the extent of the damage done to the Boeing 737-300 which was forced to land on Friday after a hole 'exploded' through the cabin, causing the pressure to drop radically.

During a news conference in Washington today, officials at the National Transportation Safety Board displayed the damaged panel which tore open at 34,000 feet, 20 minutes after take off.

A company official said Boeing was surprised that the section had ripped open in flight because the plane wasn't old enough to be worrisome.

The engineers did not expect to see the cracks because they thought they had designed the joints that hold the 737-300's aluminium skin in place to be more robust.

They believe the planes would not need inspections for at least 60,000 pressurization cycles, the number of times that a plane takes off and lands.

The company hadn't even issued inspection specifications because none of the planes involved were anywhere near that old. The jet on Friday was 15 years old and had logged 39,000 cycles.

Boeing chief 737 engineer Paul Richter said: 'I would say that it's regrettable that we had to accelerate our plans to recommend inspections based on an event of this nature. Read More

Operation overkill: £20,000, eight police, one helicopter, two dog units and three patrol cars to trap pair who stole 47p of scrap - 6th Apr 2011

It claims to have been hit hard by spending cuts, but one constabulary spared no expense in tackling the pilfering of scrap... worth 47p.

Alerted to two salvagers rummaging through a recycling centre, Gloucester Police sent a helicopter, two vans, three patrol cars and two dog units.

The crack squad managed to apprehend Owen Gray and Angela Cubitt, who had helped themselves to a games console and a power drill – with a combined scrap value of 47p.

The pair said they were told the operation, which involved eight officers, had cost £20,000.

Mr Gray, 50, said: ‘I am unemployed, so cannot go out and buy this stuff. I pick up whatever catches my eye and try to fix it. All they do with the stuff at the tip is crush it and burn the plastic.

‘I go around to the tip about once a month looking for things to salvage and fix up.
‘I have recovered television monitors and computers from there before. I know they have to catch criminals and what I did was wrong – but to send eight officers seemed a very over-the-top response.

‘It’s crazy that they sent out so many resources when they’re shouting about how much they need to save. When they let us out, a copper told me it had cost £20,000 to get us nicked and that the items cost only 47p scrap.’ Read More

Fish kills another legacy of long, snowy winter - 5th Apr 2011



Like a lot of Minnesotans, Bruce Wahlstrom was happy to see the ice disappearing from his lake he lives on.

Then, he noticed what was underneath.

"I actually saw it last night as the ice started to melt back," said Wahlstrom. "This morning, it's just tons of dead fish."

Hundreds of dead fish are washed up on Wahlstrom's property on Schmidt Lake in Plymouth, or floating in the shallow water. He knows the recipe for a fish kill: Early, heavy snow piles up on the ice, making it impossible for sunlight to reach the bottom of a lake. The lack of natural light then keeps plant life from creating oxygen. If the winter is long enough, and the heavy snow lasts, fish eventually run out of oxygen to breathe and die. Read More

15 Dead Horses: Mystery horse virus panics owners - Australia - 6th Apr 2011

A FATAL mystery equine virus has caused panic among Casey horse owners.

But local vets are urging people to remain calm.

The Australian Veterinary Association last week issued a warning to owners following the deaths of 15 horses from an unidentified neurological illness in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The cases are still under investigation, but AVA president Dr Barry Smyth said the deaths were believed to be the result of a mosquito-borne virus.

Symptoms included depression, mild colic and nervous signs including increased sensitivity to touch and sound, facial paralysis, difficulty chewing and exaggerated limb movement and weakness.

Dr Barry said blood tests on some of the infected horses had come back negative to the Hendra virus.

Cranbourne equine vet Graham Jeffrey said he had treated three cases of horses showing unusual neurological signs in the past month, with tests still being carried out.

“It is possible it is a mosquito-borne virus,” said Dr Jeffrey, adding that unusually high rainfall over summer had created an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“There is no need for horse owners to worry because I think we might be on the tail end of it.”

Dr Jeffrey urged owners to immediately seek veterinary help if their horse showed any of the symptoms. “We will have to take blood tests, which take six to eight weeks to come back.” Source

‘Child MURDER’ Brit freed in UK by cops - 6th Apr 2011

A BRITISH accountant wanted over the horrific murder and kidnap of a six-year-old girl in the Philippines was free in the UK last night.

Respected Ian Charles Griffiths, 50, was arrested in London by homicide detectives - but was later bailed pending further inquiries.

There is also a legal wrangle over whether he can be extradited back to the Far East over the alleged murder of Ellah Joy Pique.

Griffiths is claimed by Filipino cops to have snatched little Ellah in February to use her in child abuse movies.

Her body was found wrapped in a sheet tied with wire below a cliff, causing thousands to turn out on the streets to demand justice.

Warrants for the arrests of Griffiths and his 35-year-old local girlfriend Bella Santos were issued by the Filipino authorities last Friday. Read More

Note: Ellah Joy Pique, six The murder of little Ellah Joy Pique has sparked furious demands for justice by locals.

UK's £650m to Pakistan schools - 6th Apr 2011

PM David Cameron sparked a fresh defence row yesterday by splurging £650million he's saving in Forces cuts on schools in Pakistan.

He pledged the giant sum to pay for 90,000 new teachers and get four million poor Pakistani children into school.

It is the UK's biggest ever overseas aid education project.

The move will help tackle extremism in the conflict-riddled country AND Britain too, Mr Cameron insisted during a bridge-building trip to Pakistan's capital Islamabad.

But the cash is enough to have kept the RAF's Harrier jump jets flying for the next four years.

Or it could have saved some of the 17,000 Forces jobs being axed in a bid to save £5billion by 2015.

It also emerged that, while taking British cash saved by OUR defence cuts, Pakistan's leaders are spending a fortune building up THEIR military.

Face-to-face ... David Cameron and Pakistan PM in Islamabad
They are buying 36 Chinese J-10 fighter jets in a deal worth £860million, and ordering six submarines from Beijing aswell - at a cost of £140million each.

In total it comes to an eye-watering £1.7billion.

'Forgotten' volcano under Auckland - 4th Apr 2011

Scientists pulling together a computer model of past eruptions under what is now Auckland city have identified a "forgotten" volcano under the suburb of Grafton, less than 2km from the city centre.

Researchers identified the little-known volcano by analysing records from boreholes drilled for foundations of buildings, roads or water pipes.

Geologist Bruce Hayward, of Geomarine Research, used the samples to trace lava flows by measuring changes in the thickness of the lava flows and volcanic ash was able to identify a buried volcanic crater.

"The crater is about 1km across and filled with solidified lava flows," Dr Hayward said.

Auckland is built on the Auckland Volcanic Field, a group of about 50 volcanoes that have erupted over the last 250,000 years. Most of the volcanoes erupted only for a few months or years and then became extinct.

Checks on the second oldest geological map of the Auckland Volcanic Field, published by early explorer and geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter in 1864, showed four volcanic vents in the vicinity of the city's Domain.

"So although this find is exciting, it is clear that Hochstetter recognised the presence of a volcano in this locality before it was covered in houses," Dr Hayward said.

The Grafton volcano appeared to have erupted just before the neighbouring Domain volcano, more than 50,000 years ago, but traces of that eruption were buried by layer of volcanic ash from the Domain eruptions.

Lava is very magnetic, and airborne surveys of the city have revealed an area of high gravity and magnetism in the same area that Dr Hayward has identified the Grafton volcano.

The research is part of a project to prepare the city for a future eruption. Source