Friday, April 22, 2011

Electricity firms get £100m for nothing: UK

Major energy companies have been given free carbon allowances worth more than £100m this year for closed or mothballed power stations – despite the fact that the plants are producing little or no emissions.

Centrica, GDF Suez/International Power and Scottish & Southern Energy are among the UK companies to have reduced or switched off capacity at older plants.

And despite ceasing to produce electricity, the energy companies still receive the carbon credits which they can trade on international markets – giving substantial windfalls.

All the named companies announced temporary or permanent shut-downs in recent weeks – just after this year's carbon allowances were handed out by February 28.

Centrica has put four plants – Barry, Brigg, Peterborough and Kings Lynn – into "preservation mode", which means they are not producing but ready to be switched on.

Meanwhile, GDF Suez has reduced output at its Teesside plant to almost nothing – with the station expected to produce just 45 megawatts out of its 1875 megawatt capacity. (read more)

Buddhist Economics: More love and bikes



Sulak Sivaraksa, author of The Wisdom of Sustainability: Buddhist Economics for the 21st Centry, tells Robert Miller why Buddhism will help to conserve dwindling commodity reserves and how charges of treason for criticisms of Thailand's Royal Family will not deter him. (Source)

South Africa safari: Crisis in Kruger National Park

South Africa’s vast game reserves are known for their wildlife yet, as Graham Boynton discovers, its most famous national park is facing serious problems with a surge in rhino poaching, tourist development and an elephant population explosion.

It takes about 48 hours for the African bush to reclaim me. As with many Western travellers I arrive wound up as tight as a tourniquet and in no state of mind to relax and go with the flow.

On my first few drives into the bushveld I find myself sitting upright in the Land Rover, bottom-clenched, purse-lipped and all but demanding that the animals we pass by or stop to watch just get on with it. Hunt! Attack! Kill… anything! The impala, the buffalo, the elephant, even the pride of lions we encounter, all ignore my imprecations and carry on as if I were not there. Which is as it should be.

By the second morning I start to notice that Wilson Masiya, my tracker, who is perched right out on the front of the vehicle, is making almost imperceptible hand gestures, to which my guide and driver, the venerated Juan Pinto, is responding by changing the direction of the vehicle, slowing down, speeding up, or whatever is required.

Slowly the scales fall away and I begin to hear distant bird calls I was deaf to the previous day – the “tink tink tink” of a blacksmith plover and the dismissive call of a go-away bird. Then I pick up the fleeting movements of a female leopard in the thick undergrowth, camouflage on the move. (read more)

International Day for Street Children: special report on street children in Glasgow and Delhi

For children who live on the streets, location is not important - whether in Delhi or Glasgow their existence is surprisingly similar. Gill Martin reports.

The cities of Delhi and Glasgow are worlds apart but share one disturbing reality: street children. The slums of India, captured in the award-winning 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, can’t compare with Scotland’s largest city. But for children who sleep rough and spend their waking hours on the streets, the risks are as critical.

Against a background of gang fights, knife crime and drink-fuelled violence endemic in Glasgow, 15-year-old Jessica (not her real name) is an easy target for abuse, exploitation and drugs. She has been so drunk on vodka bought with her pocket money she was incapable of keeping herself from danger.

“I had to have my stomach pumped once,” she admits, from drinking too much to blot out the misery of her home life, and as a cry for help. She was also running away from family and school on a regular basis. She is just one face behind a welter of statistics of a global problem that affects an estimated 100 million children.

Jessica drops into the Aberlour Running Other Choices (ROC) offices to sort out a place to stay the night. She is living with her sister under an interim court order, but the pair have argued. She fell out with her mother years ago. “I ran away when I was 14. Mum puts the men in her life over her children.”

Jessica stopped going to school at 12, preferring to hang out with her mates. “I was a bad lassie at school. They hated me because I was mean. I whacked a teacher with a chair when he pointed at me. (read more)

Emails expose BP's attempts to control research into impact of Gulf oil spill

BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.

Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: "Can we 'direct' GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor's offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?".

The email was obtained by Greenpeace and shared with the Guardian.

The documents are expected to reinforce fears voiced by scientists that BP has too much leverage over studies into the impact of last year's oil disaster.

Those concerns go far beyond academic interest into the impact of the spill. BP faces billions in fines and penalties, and possible criminal charges arising from the disaster. Its total liability will depend in part on a final account produced by scientists on how much oil entered the gulf from its blown-out well, and the damage done to marine life and coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The oil company disputes the government estimate that 4.1m barrels of oil entered the gulf. (read more)

Google Android also guilty of tracking users everywhere they go -- data regularly reported back to Google

Apple Inc.'s iPhones and Google Inc.'s Android smartphones regularly transmit their locations back to Apple and Google, respectively, according to data and documents analyzed by The Wall Street Journal—intensifying concerns over privacy and the widening trade in personal data.

Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people's locations via their cellphones. These databases could help them tap the $2.9 billion market for location-based services—expected to rise to $8.3 billion in 2014, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier.

Google declined to comment on the findings.

Until last year, Google was collecting similar Wi-Fi data with its fleet of StreetView cars that map and photograph streets world-wide. The company shut down its StreetView Wi-Fi collection last year after it inadvertently collected e-mail addresses, passwords and other personal information from Wi-Fi networks. (read more)

State Lawmakers Debate ‘Birther’ Bills: US

Investigations have concluded that President Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii in 1961, as he has always said.

Just this week, on the news program “Good Morning America” on ABC, George Stephanopoulos produced a copy of the president’s Certification of Live Birth, causing a potential presidential aspirant, Michele Bachmann, the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, to say that the issue appeared settled. In 2008, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging that proof.

But the so-called birther controversy stubbornly refuses to go away.

The issue, which has simmered at the fringes of the nation’s political discourse for years, even got a recent burst of attention when it was adopted as a talking point by Donald Trump, a potential Republican presidential candidate. (read more)

Follow Reuters Facebook Twitter RSS YouTube Read Texas governor calls for prayers for rain amid fires

Texas Governor Rick Perry called on Texans to pray for rain as cooler temperatures on Thursday helped firefighters contain wildfires that have charred more than 1.5 million acres across the state.

Perry, a Republican, sought increased federal help in combating the blazes last weekend and urged Texans to ask the same from a higher power over the Easter holiday weekend.

"Throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer," Perry said in a statement.

"It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires."

A wave of moisture and cooler weather had already helped the roughly 1,800 firefighters and support crews contain nine fires and make headway against many more by Thursday morning.

But conditions fueling the fast-moving wildfires that killed two volunteer firefighters and destroyed 200 homes this month would not ease for good, officials warned. (read more)

Violence in another McDonalds almost kills customer



Here is another fine example of the trend of violence in fast food restaurants. Two black females beating the hell out of a white patron, while several black employees stand by and watch. One black male manages to provide the facade of assistance to the white victim in this brutal attack.

The two black females exit, then re-enter the store to continue the beating, until a an older white woman attempts to stop them from dragging the white victim outside into the parking lot. note: the black male employees have disappeared from camera view, even though they are plenty well capable of stopping the attack.

At the end, the white victim is beaten until she has a seizure, at which point the camera operator warns the black female attackers to flee, because the police are on the way. Note: he makes sure to repeatedly tell the criminal attackers to flee, instead of keeping them there for the police to apprehend. (Source)

Greek PM: Ratings agencies running our lives

Greece's prime minister has lashed out at credit ratings agencies, as borrowing rates in the crisis-hit country at record levels threaten plans to return to the bond markets next year.

George Papandreou in a written statement posted on a government website early Friday said the agencies, instead of elected governments, "are seeking to shape our destiny and determine the future of our children."

Major rating agencies have all relegated Greek bond status to below investment grade amid the continuing debt crisis. The move has angered the government which argues the fiscal benefits of its austerity program are being ignored.

Yields on 10-year Greek bonds rose above 15 percent, compared with the German benchmark rate of 3.27 percent, before the Easter long weekend. (Source)

Dollar plunges to 2.5-year low

The dollar dropped to its lowest level in more than two-and-a-half years on Thursday as buoyant risk appetite prompted investors to sell the currency to fund carry trades.

Analysts said robust corporate earnings figures had boosted hopes over global growth, while the prospect that US interest rates would remain at ultra-low levels was fuelling demand for carry trades, in which low-yielding currencies such as the dollar are sold to finance the purchase of riskier, higher-yielding assets elsewhere.

Market rumour that the People’s Bank of China was poised to implement of substantial, one-off revaluation of the renminbi also weighed on the US currency.

The dollar index, which tracks its progress against a basket of six leading currencies, fell 0.8 per cent to 73.785, its weakest level since August 2008. Traders said the stage could now be set for the index to target the record low of 70.698 it hit in March 2008.

The dollar also dropped 0.9 per cent to a 16-month low of $1.4641 against the euro, fell 1 per cent to a 16-month trough of $1.6560 against the pound, lost 0.8 per cent to a record low of SFr0.8817 against the Swiss franc and plunged 0.7 per cent lower to Y81.93 against the yen. (read more)

Nation’s Mood at Lowest Level in Two Years, Poll Shows: US

Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama’s first two months in office, when the country was still officially ensnared in the Great Recession, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Amid rising gas prices, stubborn unemployment and a cacophonous debate in Washington over the federal government’s ability to meet its future obligations, the poll presents stark evidence that the slow, if unsteady, gains in public confidence earlier this year that a recovery was under way are now all but gone.

Capturing what appears to be an abrupt change in attitude, the survey shows that the number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse has jumped 13 percentage points in just one month. Though there have been encouraging signs of renewed growth since last fall, many economists are having second thoughts, warning that the pace of expansion might not be fast enough to create significant numbers of new jobs.

The dour public mood is dragging down ratings for both parties in Congress and for President Obama, the poll found. (read more)

Killer Combo of High Gas, Food Prices at Key Tipping Point

The combination of rising gasoline prices and the steepest increase in the cost of food in a generation is threatening to push the US economy into a recession, according to Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners.

Johnson looks at the percentage of income consumers are spending on gasoline and food as a way of gauging how consumers will fare when energy prices spike.

With gas prices now standing at about $3.90 a gallon, energy costs have now passed 6 percent of spending—a level that Johnson says is a "tipping point" for consumers.

"Energy is not quite as essential as food and water, but is a necessity in today's economy, and when gasoline costs more than bottled water—like now—then it takes a huge bite out of disposable spending," he said, in a research note.

Of the six US recessions since 1970, all but the "9-11 year 2001 recession" have been linked to—of not triggered by—energy prices that crossed the 6 percent of personal consumption expenditures, he said. (During the shallow 2001 recession, energy prices had risen to about 5 percent of spending, which is higher than the long-term 4 percent share.) (read more)

3 Thai soldiers killed in clashes with Cambodian troops

At least three Thai soldiers were killed Friday in a new round of clashes with Cambodian troops in a disputed border region, a military official said.

Thirteen other Thai troops were injured, Lt. Col. Siriya Khuangsirikul said.

The fighting broke out near two temples in the Phanom Dong Rak of southeastern Thailand's Surin province, Thai army spokesman Col. Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said.

A Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Authorities evacuated between 7,000 and 10,000 residents to temporary shelters as clashes erupted, Ong-art Klarmpaibul of the Thai prime minister's office said in an interview with the Thai Public Broadcasting System.

Sunsern said the cause of Friday's clashes "is not yet known."

At least 10 people were killed when renewed fighting flared up in another disputed border area between the two nations in February, prompting the U.N. Security Council to issue a statement calling on both sides to implement a permanent cease-fire and "resolve the situation peacefully and through effective dialogue." (read more)

Welcome To The United "Waste" of America

'If he can't find his parents he can stay with mine and play with my toys': Heartbreaking letter to a tsunami-orphaned boy - 22nd Apr 2011

It is a letter that even the steeliest of people would struggle to find touching.

In fact, it was so touching that when eight-year-old Ashwin Cresswell's letter reached Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, she vowed to hand it to her Japanese counterpart.

Young Ashwin was moved by the story of Toshihito Aisawa, 9, who lost his parents when their car was engulfed by the Japanese tsunami.

A window in the car was smashed by a piece of debris and this provided the boy with an escape route. Sadly his parents did not survive and he also lost his grandmother and cousin in the town of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture.

His letter said: 'Dear Miss Julia Gillard, my mother said Prime Ministers can talk to other Prime Ministers. Can you please send this letter to the Japanese Prime Minister?

'I do not speak Japanese but I hope you speak Australian.

'I saw a picture of a boy named Toshihito Aisawa in our newspaper. My mother read me his story and she told me that he lost his parents in the Sunami (sic).

'Do you know this boy? Does he have any favourite thing to eat and drink? Does he have a favourite T-shirt? If he doesn't he can boro one of mine.

'If he can't find his parents he can stay with my family. He can also play with my toys and go to school with me. Would Toshihito like to stay with us?' Read More

Farce of our legal system: Taxpayer left with £6m bill after drugs case is tried in court FOUR times - 22nd Apr 2011

The taxpayer is to foot an incredible £6million bill following a massive court case which was tried four times because of farcical errors and a catalogue of legal delays.

Littered with judicial complications, it has become one of Britain’s longest drug prosecutions and involved more than 10,000 pages of evidence, 500 witnesses, 14 barristers, five juries and more than 160 days in court.

While the first trial was abandoned because of ‘jury fatigue’, the third fell apart as the verdicts were being delivered after a juror was accused of making contact with one of the defendants on Facebook.

The case in question, which first came before a judge in September 2009, involved the prosecution of an alleged gang of drug dealers and a corrupt police officer in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Almost 20 months later, it has still not been fully resolved.

To date, legal proceedings and the criminal investigation have cost an estimated £5.1million. With court security and police wages factored in, the total bill reaches almost £6 million.

The media had been prevented from publishing what happened at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court until now because of a related case involving a juror’s alleged contempt of court.

But now, that the Attorney General has been given permission to pursue a bid to have her prosecuted, the full series of costly set-backs can be revealed.

The painfully protracted process began when the first trial, lasting almost five weeks, stalled following legal argument over the disclosure of confidential information relating to police informants.

The process took so long that judge Bernard Lakin was eventually forced to start again because of ‘jury fatigue’. Jurors had been out of the courtroom for so long that it was ruled they could not be expected to remember the evidence they had already heard.

A second trial started on January 11 last year. This lasted about four weeks before the same confidential information problem re-emerged. Read More

Nearly 30 people killed as Syrian security forces open fire on biggest day of protests yet - 22nd Apr 2011

At least 27 people are reported to have been killed after Syrian security forces fired live bullets at thousands of people protesting for democracy.

Massive protests have been reported in Douma, the central city of Homs, southern city of Daraa and coastal town of Banias, as well as the capital Damascus.

Protesters flooded into the streets after prayers and security forces opened fire as tensions increased.

The protest movement has crossed a significant threshold in recent days, with increasing numbers now seeking the downfall of the regime, not just reforms.

The security crackdown has only emboldened protesters, who are enraged over the deaths of more than 200 people in the last five weeks.

Witnesses said crowds of people shouted: 'The people want the downfall of the regime!' as 40,000 took part in marches in Douma, a suburb of Damascus.

Activists promised that today's protests would be the biggest yet against the regime led by President Bashar Assad, who inherited power from his father 11 years ago in one of the most authoritarian countries in the Middle East.

The president has been trying to defuse the protests by launching a bloody crackdown along with a series of concessions, including lifting emergency laws that gave authorities almost boundless powers of surveillance and arrest. Read More

More than a dozen prolific crooks released early from prison... because of the Royal Wedding and Easter - 22nd Apr 2011

Families have been warned to be extra vigilant after a group of prolific crooks were released early from prison due to the series of bank holidays, it emerged today.

Police chiefs warned homeowners in Cambridgeshire to be on their guard after it was revealed the 16 crooks - serial burglars - were all freed from Peterborough Prison on Thursday.

The crooks got an early taste of freedom because the unusual amount of Bank Holidays meant their release dates fell on Easter, the Royal Wedding or May Day.

Det Chief Insp Chris Mead, of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said usually between 10 and 12 convicts are released every three weeks in the county.

He pledged police will 'monitor' the crooks fearing many homeowners have left their properties vulnerable and empty during the extended holiday period.

DCI Mead said: 'Looking to Easter, we have a number of offenders who are being released from prison, some of whom have extensive criminal records, much of which [is] for dwelling burglary. Read More

Fact or Fiction - Ancient Aliens "The Mission" - 22nd Apr 2011

Extraterrestrials have a mission plan for Earth and mankind, and cites as evidence, Sumerian tablets that allegedly describe the Anunnaki as a race of creatures that came to Earth to mine gold; the purpose of cattle mutilations; the mile-long "band of holes" near Pisco, Peru; Egyptian hieroglyphs that are said to depict hybrid creatures that are part man/part animal; and Crystal skulls and crop circles that are said to contain messages from aliens.

The Red Dust Bowl: Scientists reveal how hostile storms once raged across Mars - 22nd Apr 2011

Mars once had an atmosphere so dusty and stormy that its climate was a lot like the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but far worse, according to scientists.

The discovery of a huge underground reservoir of dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, at its south pole has forced a reassessment of the Red Planet's climate history.

Researchers suspect some of that store of carbon dioxide was in Mars' atmosphere around 600,000 years ago, making it denser, and therefore an extremely hostile environment.

Lead researcher Roger Phillips, of the Southwest Research Institute, said: 'It was an unpleasant place to hang out.'

In the recent geologic past, when Mars' axis tilted, sunlight reached the southern polar cap, melting some of the frozen carbon dioxide. Read More

Riot police bombarded and Tesco petrol-bombed as 160 officers swoop on house to arrest FOUR squatters - 22nd Apr 2011

A full-scale riot broke out on the streets of Bristol leaving eight police officers injured after an operation to arrest just four squatters dramatically escalated.

Around 160 officers in riot gear swooped on a house in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol at around 9.15pm last night to arrest four people they said were 'a real threat to the local community'.

The police targets were staying in a a three-storey building opposite a Tesco store and officers made their move after a court order was issued for their removal.

But the operation ignited local unrest over the opening of a new tesco store and for seven hours police fought running battles with more than 300 protesters, who dug up cobbles from the road surface to hurl at officers.

Video of the footage shows rioters attacking a police vehicle as well as the branch of Tesco Metro on Cheltenham Road with weapons.

The Tesco, which had opened six days ago, was later petrol-bombed and tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused.

Riot vans and police dogs were quickly despatched to the scene, with 66 officers drafted in from neighbouring forces. Read More


Dozens missing after Philippine landslide

At least three people have been killed and 21 more are missing after a landslide struck homes and destroyed mining tunnels in the Philippines.

Mud and rocks buried miners' houses in the remote village in Compostela Valley province on the southern island of Mindanao.

The landslide also caused the collapse of access tunnels used by small-scale miners to extract gold.

Rescue teams, troops and helicopters have been sent to the village.

The landslide struck the village at about 0300 (1900 GMT Thursday). Local officials said three bodies had been found and 10 people pulled alive from the rubble.

"There are at least 21 still unaccounted for. We do not know if they are dead or alive. They might have been buried," local mayor Celso Sarenas told AFP news agency. (read more)

Ozone hole has dried Australia, scientists find

The Antarctic ozone hole is about one-third to blame for Australia's recent series of droughts, scientists say.

Writing in the journal Science, they conclude that the hole has shifted wind and rainfall patterns right across the Southern Hemisphere, even the tropics.

Their climate models suggest the effect has been notably strong over Australia.

Many parts of the country have seen drought in recent years, with cities forced to invest in technologies such as desalination, and farms closing.

The scientists behind the new study - led from Columbia University in New York - added the ozone hole into standard climate models to investigate how it might have affected winds and rains.

"The ozone hole results in a southward shift of the high-latitude circulation - and the whole tropical circulation shifts southwards too," explained Columbia's Sarah Kang.

Of particular interest was the southward migration of the Southern Hemisphere jet stream.

These high-altitude winds are key to determining weather patterns, in both hemispheres. Much of the cold weather felt in the UK over the last couple of winters, for example, was caused by blocking of the Northern Hemisphere stream.

The Columbia team found that overall, the ozone hole has resulted in rainfall moving south along with the winds. (read more)

$400 silver incoming?

The Mysterious Deaths of Nine Gulf Oil Spill Whistleblowers

Gold: The Only True Standad of Value

The dollar is doing just what the Fed wants it to do -- it's sinking, sinking and sinking more. Sadly, the great American public doesn't understand what's happening, and if they were told they couldn't care less. Of course, what the public does notice is the painful result of the dollar's bear market. The result is seen every time Joe six-pack and his wife hit the neighborhood super-market. The rising prices are a shocker. And if the price of your favorite cold cereal has not been raised, there is less of the cereal in the box. Then when Joe has to fill up the buggy to get home, he groans as he sees the gasoline tab. "Sixty bucks to fill up this lemon. I'm going to get a motorized bike," growls Joey. "This country is going to hell in a hand-basket."

The US has been getting away with spending more than it takes in ever since World War II. It's a process that isn't sustainable, and if a process is unsustainable it will end. The US's habit of spending more than it's paying for has finally hit a brick wall. The wall is the demise of the famous "Yankee dollar." In order for the US to live over its head, it must borrow. Half of the US's borrowing comes from foreign sources. And that's a problem.

The fiat US dollar has no fixed value. It's worth must be measured against other currencies. "The dollar is worth so much in relation to the Brit pound -- or the dollar is worth so much in terms of the euro." Our foreign creditors, many of whom are loaded with dollars, keep a sharp eye on the comparative value of the dollar, and they're now frightened and mulling over the credit-worthiness of the US. The recent warning from the S&P rating agency heightened our creditors worries about both the US and the dollar. The disgraceful battle between Obama and the Democrats vs. Paul Ryan and the Republicans is further raising the fears of our creditors.

With commodity inflation now out in the open, Fed head Bernanke has a problem. His absurd defense is to refer to "core inflation" (without the cost of food and energy). Bernanke announces to the world that there's "no inflation," and besides if there is inflation the Fed can end it any time they want.

What Bernanke and the Fed can not control is the tell-tale price of gold. As I write the battle is on to keep June gold from closing above 1500. Yesterday June gold hit an intra-day high of 1500, but can it close there? "Ah," Bernanke must be thinking, "If I could only control the price of that damn gold." (read more)

Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing, Discusses Global Radiation Exposures and Consequences with Gundersen

Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing, Discusses Global Radiation Exposures and Consequences with Gundersen from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

TEPCO estimates 520-ton radioactive water dumped into sea

Tokyo Electric Power Company says radioactive substances that leaked into the sea at the damaged Fukushima plant over six days from April 1st are estimated at 4,700 terabecquerels. This is 20,000 times more than the annual allowable limit at the complex.

At a news conference on Thursday, Tokyo Electric said it calculated the total amount of leaked water assuming that the leak began on April 1st. The leak of contaminated water from a pit of the Number 2 reactor was found on April 2nd and was stopped four days later using liquid glass.

The utility firm said that 520 tons of the high-level radioactive water is likely to have leaked into the sea during the period.

The estimated level of radiation in the water is roughly one 100th of what the government announced on Tuesday of last week as the total amount of radiation released into the air from the Daiichi complex. The figure is about 10,000 times more than that released in the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. (read more)

Levels of iodine131 were found to be 7.5 million times the safety limit on April 2nd near the water intake of the Number 2 reactor. Tokyo Electric has since set up underwater barriers near the intake to prevent the spread of radioactive water in the sea.

Nitrogen pollution costs are revealed: Europe

Nitrogen pollution is costing every person in Europe up to £650 a year in damage to water, climate, health and wildlife, a major new study warned today.

Scientists behind the research said nitrogen was needed as fertiliser to help feed a growing world population - but suggested that eating less meat could reduce the amount of pollution caused by agriculture.

The report also suggests that with 60% of costs of the nitrogen damage stemming from fossil fuels burnt for energy generation and transport, more energy efficient homes and cutting long distance travel could also help tackle the problem.

More efficient use of fertilisers in food production is also needed, the report said.

However, the researchers stopped short of calling for a fertiliser tax to reduce the use of nitrogen in agriculture.

The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) chief scientist Professor Bob Watson, who welcomed the first assessment of the Europe-wide impacts of nitrogen, warned that higher costs as a result of a tax would be passed onto consumers.

The report by 200 experts from 21 countries warns that in Europe, the costs of nitrogen pollution on air, soils, water, increased greenhouse gases and damage to wildlife was between 70 billion euro and 320 billion euro a year (£62 billion-£282 billion).

The cost works out at between £130 and £650 a year for everyone in Europe. (read more)

Penguin and krill popluations in freefall

Numbers of Chinstrap and Adélie penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula region have dropped by more than 50 percent in the last 30 years, driven mainly by dramatic declines in supplies of tiny, shrimp-like krill, their main prey, says a new study.

Krill, meanwhile, have declined by 40 to 80 percent, due primarily to rapidly warming temperatures in the area -- the South Shetland Islands near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby sites.

This is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet with winter mean temperatures some 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than in pre-industrial times.

Researchers previously thought that chinstrap penguins would flourish as temperatures warmed because they winter in the open water near ice edges, unlike Adélie penguins, which winter on pack ice. In earlier years, chinstraps did better in warmer winters, while Adélie penguins grew their numbers in cold winters with lots of ice.

But since around 1980, both types of penguins have declined dramatically and now researchers believe that they can point to plummeting populations of krill. (read more)

Study Finds Public Relatively Unconcerned About Nanotechnology Risks

A new study finds that the general public thinks getting a suntan poses a greater public health risk than nanotechnology or other nanoparticle applications. The study, from North Carolina State University, compared survey respondents’ perceived risk of nanoparticles with 23 other public-health risks.

The study is the first to compare the public’s perception of the risks associated with nanoparticles to other environmental and health safety risks. Researchers found that nanoparticles are perceived as being a relatively low risk.

“For example, 19 of the other public-health risks were perceived as more hazardous, including suntanning and drinking alcohol,” says Dr. Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the study. “The only things viewed as less risky were cell-phone use, blood transfusions, commercial air travel and medical X-rays.”

In fact, 60 percent of respondents felt that nanoparticles posed either no health risk or only a slight health risk.

In the study, researchers asked a nationally representative panel of 307 people a battery of questions about how risky they believe nanoparticles are compared to 23 other public health risks – such as obesity, smoking, using cell phones and nuclear energy. (read more)

Satellites show effect of 2010 drought on Amazon forests

A new study has revealed widespread reductions in the greenness of Amazon forests caused by the last year's record-breaking drought.

"The greenness levels of Amazonian vegetation – a measure of its health – decreased dramatically over an area more than three and one-half times the size of Texas and did not recover to normal levels, even after the drought ended in late October 2010," says Liang Xu of Boston University and the study's lead author.

The drought sensitivity of Amazon rainforests is a subject of intense study. Computer models predict that in a changing climate with warmer temperatures and altered rainfall patterns, the ensuing moisture stress could cause some of the rainforests to be replaced by grasslands or woody savannas. This would release the carbon stored in the rotting wood into the atmosphere, and could accelerate global warming. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned similar droughts could be more frequent in the Amazon region in the future. (read more)

Shale Gas Isn't Cleaner Than Coal, Cornell Researchers Say

Cornell University researchers say that natural gas pried from shale formations is dirtier than coal in the short term, rather than cleaner, and "comparable" in the long term.

That finding -- fiercely disputed by the gas industry -- undermines the widely stated belief that gas is twice as "clean" as coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The gas industry has promoted that concept as a way for electric utilities to prepare for climate change regulations by switching from coal-fired plants to gas.

But if both gas and coal are considered plentiful and cheap, utilities would have little incentive to switch.

The lead author of the study, Robert Howarth, had previously stated the idea that shale gas production emits more greenhouse gases than coal production (ClimateWire, April 2, 2010). But now it is being published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

"Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20 percent greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years," states a pre-publication copy (pdf) of the study, which is slated to be published in the journal Climatic Science and originally obtained by The Hill newspaper. (read more)

Syria: 'Troops Fire Teargas At Protesters' - 22nd Apr 2011

Syrian security forces have used teargas to disperse protesters in the capital Damascus, according to reports.

It follows reports the Syrian army was deployed overnight in the city of Homs - ahead of Friday prayers.

Syria's protest movement has promised a day of demonstrations on what it is calling 'Great Friday'.

It comes despite the lifting of draconian emergency laws in a move intended to herald a new era in human rights.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has issued decrees ending nearly five decades of emergency law and abolishing state security courts.

State TV said citizens would be allowed to protest peacefully – but the pledges looked hollow after new pictures emerged of troops firing live rounds at demonstrators in Homs.

It is believed they were filmed early on Tuesday morning after demonstrators tried to stage an Egyptian-style sit-in in the main square.

Emergency law was imposed in Syria when the ruling Baath Party seized power in 1963.

It restricts many civil liberties, including public gatherings and freedom of movement, and allows the "arrest of anyone suspected of posing a threat to security".

The state security court exists outside the ordinary judicial system and usually prosecutes people considered to challenge the authority of the government.

A decree issued by President Assad said citizens would now be granted "the right to peacefully demonstrate", noting this was one of the "basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian constitution". Read More

Is this a Joke? - Easter reminder: Kinder Eggs banned in the United States - 22nd Apr 2011

Not all eggs are created equal in the eyes of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Kinder Eggs, a popular European chocolate egg that contains a toy inside, is banned from importation into the United States because it contains a "non-nutritive object embedded in it."

With the Easter holiday around the corner, the agency issued the reminder this week, warning that the candy is considered unsafe for children under 3. Last year, Customs and Border Protection seized 25,000 of them in 1,700 incidents.

The hollow egg, which is sold by the Italian confectioner Ferrero, is available in Europe, Canada, Australia and parts of Latin America under various names including Kinder Surprise and Kinder Sorpresa. It has taken on a cult status among adults who collect the toys, which vary from rings to animals and cartoon characters.

Kinder Eggs' scarcity in the United States has made them an object of desire: Various websites and online forums are dedicated to acquiring them.

Some are apparently hiding in plain sight. Earlier this week, DNAinfo.com, a New York City neighborhood guide, posted a story and slideshow showing stores where the coveted treats can be found.

"While there are some commercial-sized seizures that occur, most Kinder Eggs are seized in personal baggage or at mail and express consignment facilities," Customs and Border Protection said.

A Canadian woman reportedly learned her lesson the hard way.

The woman was selected for a random search at a border checkpoint in Minnesota when officials discovered she was carrying a Kinder Egg and took it from her, The Toronto Star reported.

A few weeks later, she received a 7-page letter asking if she wanted the egg back or if she was going to abandon rights to it, the Star reported.

"I was in disbelief," she told the newspaper. "It's a $2 egg." Source

Explosions, planes heard in Tripoli; rebels seize border crossing - 22nd Apr 2011



Large explosions and the sound of jets over Tripoli Thursday night indicated NATO has likely increased the intensity of its air strikes on Moammar Gadhafi's key command and control military sites.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, reporting from Libya, heard at least three major explosions.

The alliance has issued a new warning to Libyan civilians to stay away from military areas, foreshadowing plans for attacks on targets seen as strategically significant in stopping the government's attacks against civilians, a NATO military official said Thursday.

The next phase will largely involve increased air strikes on key Gadhafi command, control and communications sites in and around Tripoli, although targets in other areas could be hit as well, said the official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

NATO now has the use of armed U.S. Predator drones at its disposal.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates disclosed that the drones saw their first use in Libya Thursday, but poor weather forced them to return. Read More

A Neighborhood Frozen in time in the 12 mile Exclusion Hot Zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.

Wang Tianqing a Chinese Farmer Finds Bullet In His Brain 23 years after being shot - 22nd Apr 2011

A farmer from central China has discovered his mystery illness was caused by a bullet inside his brain 23 years after it lodged there.

Wang Tianqing was suffering from symptoms that had grown progressively worse over two decades, but when he finally visited the doctor, the cause came as a surprise.

CT scans showed a bullet inside his head.

The Chinese surgeon who removed it says Mr Wang cheated death by a matter of millimetres.

"The bullet penetrated his skull and then stopped near his temple," said neurosurgeon Wang Zhiming.

"If it had moved a bit further backward and to the right, he wouldn't have survived."

But what puzzled Mr Wang's doctors was exactly how the bullet got there, until the patient remembered a day in 1988.

Mr Wang recalled feeling a heavy blow to his head before losing consciousness.

"I thought I'd been hit by a slingshot," he said.

"I saw a man standing on a hill and thought he'd hit me."

He woke up in hospital, where the medical staff could find nothing wrong.

They gave him an anti-inflammatory and sent him home but shortly afterwards he began having occasional convulsions. Read More

Colin Atkinson's Easter victory wins battle to display cross in his van and Keeps his Job

Christian electrician Colin Atkinson has won his fight to display a cross in his van following a nationwide outcry.

The dramatic climbdown by Wakefield District Housing came after senior church figures were joined by Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders in condemning his employers.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey had described the 64-year-old grandfather’s plight as ‘scandalous’ and Housing and Planning Minister Grant Shapps said WDH’s action was ‘wrong’.

Last night Lord Carey said: ‘I’m so glad. All that was needed was a little bit of compassion and understanding. Where there is a bit of common sense we can find a resolution.’
WDH caved in and agreed to let Mr Atkinson display his cross in an effort to end the embarrassing row.

The U-turn came at a ‘confidential and unminuted’ meeting between Mr Atkinson, his Unite union rep Terry Cuncliffe, WHD executive director of people Gillian Pickersgill and a senior manager at the organisation’s headquarters in Castleford, West Yorkshire, on Wednesday.

During the hour-long meeting WDH managers put a series of proposals to Mr Atkinson – all of which would allow him publicly to display the cross.

Mr Atkinson has agreed with managers not to reveal the details of the compromise agreement. But he had maintained all along his right to display the cross publicly was ‘non-negotiable’. Read More

Jah-Nea Myles, just 16-months-old falls from fourth-floor hotel balcony and SURVIVES... after she drops into the arms of a passing British tourist

A baby girl survived a terrifying fall from a fourth-floor hotel balcony thanks to a Good Samaritan who caught her as she plummeted towards the ground.

Jah-Nea Myles, just 16-months-old, landed in the arms of British tourist Helen Beard, after she rushed to save the little girl when she spotted her dangling from the balcony railings at her Florida hotel.

She hit the third-floor railing on the way down, but miraculously survived without so much as a bruise. She was even described as 'playful' afterwards.

Her 20-year-old mother, Helena, said: 'I'm thanking the Lord above right now for saving my child's life. I'm also thanking that lady because she was an angel sent from heaven.'

A spokesman for Orange County Sheriff's Office described it simply as 'a miracle.'

Jah-Nea's narrow escape happened late on Wednesday night, when she was being looked after by her mother's friend Dominique Holt in an adjoining room at the Econo Lodge Hotel in Orlando.

Miss Holt, who admitted the door may have been left open a crack, said Jah-Nea must have crept out when she went to use the bathroom, then managed to slip through railings on the balcony. Read More

CIA tried to frame Bulgaria for shooting of Pope John Paul II to discredit Communism, new book claims - 22nd Apr 2011

The CIA tried to frame Bulgaria for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981 to discredit Communism, a new book has claimed.

The U.S. intelligence agency orchestrated the story that the eastern European country's regime was behind the shooting, two journalists suggest.

Their new book says the attempted killing was in fact masterminded by an extreme-right wing Turkish group called the Grey Wolves purely because of their anti-western ideology.

Pope John Paul II was shot four times by a sniper in St Peter's Square, Vatican City on May 13, 1981. Mehmet Ali Agca, 23, was arrested and jailed following the failed assassination attempt.

The Pope's life was saved after he underwent five hours of surgery. The gunman, using a 9mm weapon, had hit him twice in the stomach, in the arm and in his little finger.

But the new book - Kill The Pope: The Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II - claims Agca, a Turk, had no links to the Soviet cause. Read More

Has Holly Bobo's kidnapper struck before? Local woman says 'skinny man' tried to grab her too - 22nd Apr 2011

The hunt for kidnapped nursing student Holly Bobo took a new twist today as it emerged another young woman living nearby suffered a similar attempted abduction.

Heather Sullivan, 31, who lives only 45 minutes from the Parsons home where Holly was taken last week, said a 'tall skinny man' tried to grab her arm as she got out of the car at her home in January.

Mrs Sullivan was saved only after dropping a glass lamp she was carrying, which shattered - alerting her boyfriend who came running out and scared the attacker away.

Up to 1,300 volunteers are daily scouring the area near Holly's home, in rural Decatur County, Indiana, in a desperate bid to find the attractive student last seen being dragged into a wood by a man wearing camouflage clothing.

Speaking to NBC news about Holly's abduction, and a possible connection between the two, Mrs Sullivan said: 'When I heard about it, that's what I thought.'

Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, added he was not ruling out a connection.

He said: 'We're looking at all possibilities.'

Country singer Whitney Duncan, a cousin of Holly, has been actively campaigning for her return. Read More

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

10 dead, up to 40 missing in Mindanao landslide, authorities say , Philippines - 22nd Apr 2011

TAGUM CITY – At least 10 bodies have been recovered from the landslide that hit a mining village in Pantukan, Compostela Valley on Good Friday, police and military officials said.

But fears about more casualties have mounted as the number of missing persons could easily hit more than two dozen, sources said.

Senior Superintendent Aaron Aquino, Compostela Valley police chief, said poor visibility due to thick clouds prevented Air Force helicopters from landing at Panganason village.

“Rescuers have already accounted for 10 bodies and five rescued. The landslide occurred at a small-scale mining area,” Aquino told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by mobile phone.

Six people were also rescued by soldiers, policemen and civilians after a part of a mountain collapsed in Panganason, Kingking village around 2:30 a.m., according to Lieutenant Colonel Camilo Ligayo, commander of the army’s 701st Infantry Brigade.

The site of Friday’s disaster which sits on a gold-rich mountain was also hit by previous landslides, the most recent in 2010, which killed at least 26 people.

Ligayo told the Inquirer by phone that three helicopters from the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command have been dispatched to the site to help ferry possible survivors while sniffer dogs from the army were also sent in to help rescuers locate survivors.

“We feared at least 30 to 40 people missing. Our rescue efforts are concentrated in a collapsed mine in the area where five miners were reportedly trapped as voices were reportedly heard from the shaft, a possibility the victims are still alive,” Ligayo said, adding they were bracing for the worst. Read More

Dolphin Death Toll Rises, Experts Look for Answers - 22nd Apr 2011

Some suspect domoic acid, a biotoxin found in algae blooms off the California coast that was detected in sardines found dead in neighboring Redondo Beach's King Harbor.

In the past three days, five more common dolphins have washed up on Southern California beaches, dead or dying, bringing the total death toll to 16 dolphins and one Dall's porpoise since April 1.

"The dolphins that are washing up on the beaches are a window to what’s going on in the ocean's environment," said Joe Cordaro, a National Marine Fisheries wildlife biologist. "Undoubtedly more animals are dying at sea. It's just impossible to say how many."

Most have washed ashore from Malibu to Newport Beach, including recent strandings at Rat Beach, Manhattan Beach and here in Hermosa Beach.

Peter Wallerstein from the Marine Animal Rescue Team found a sick dolphin washed ashore next door in Manhattan Beach last weekend.

"When I got there, there were at least 100 people that had surrounded the sick animal," he said. "Kids were screaming, people were pulling the dolphin's flippers and others were poking at it while it was having seizures."

The public should stay away from any of the sick creatures they encounter, Wallerstein said. "All that commotion can be the thing that ultimately ends the dolphin's life," he said.

That particular dolphin died a short time later Read More

At least a Dozen Shark deaths in Redwood City spur search for cause - 21st Apr 2011

At least a dozen leopard sharks have been found dead or dying within the past several days in bayfront lagoons in Redwood City, putting local researchers on alert for some kind of infection or toxic discharge in San Francisco Bay.

The deaths, including both juvenile and adult sharks, appear isolated and far less serious than previous die-offs in 2006 and 2007, which left shark carcasses strewn all over the bay, officials said. Shark experts fear there may be more of the strikingly patterned creatures floundering in Bay Area waterways and succumbing to pollution and disease.

"In the last decade, we've seen an increase in the animals trapped in culverts and pumps that used to be tidal canals or poisoned by periodic pollution events," said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, a Santa Cruz group that tracks sharks in Monterey and San Francisco bays.

Beginning Monday, Van Sommeran received several phone calls from people who had seen leopard sharks stranded or dead in tide pools and sloughs just south of Foster City. Read More

Sonny Pierce, 27, 'battered teen to death and filmed himself having sex with her corpse' may have killed more than three - 22nd Apr 2011

Police fear a man who is accused of killing three teenage women and videotaping himself having sex with the corpse of one of the victims may have killed before.

Sonny Pierce, 27, is accused of luring Kiara Windom and Kimika Coleman, both 18, to his Chicago apartment before strangling them and dumping their bodies in alleys.

Prosecutors say that while they were searching the father of one's Blue Island home on the unrelated rape a 15-year-old girl, they discovered a recording of Pierce having sex with the dead body of Mariah Edwards, 17 - who was beaten to death by a gang of his friends.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, pointed to 'pattern' of behaviour that allegedly stretched for about a year before Pierce's arrest in July last year for the strangulation and sexual assault of the 15-year-old.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said: 'We would like to hear from anyone out there who has had previous contact with Pierce or any other young woman who may have been potential victims, or any families who are missing a loved one.

'It is our obligation to try to identify any other women who may have been victimised.'

Investigators said the body of one of the women Pierce is charged with killing has never been found, and it took nearly a year to identify the remains of a second victim.

This leads those working the case to think there might be additional victims.

According to police the killings once again underline concerns about the safety of young women who use social media websites and chat lines.

Chillingly Pierce apparently met two of his alleged victims on telephone chat lines, speaking to Windom up to 20 times.

Investigators first interviewed Pierce in 2009 in the slaying of Coleman. Read More

Brian Dickson Charged over the murder of Qian 'Nicole' Liu, witnessed by boyfriend over Web Cam 6,000 miles away - 22nd Apr 2011

A former university politician and international aid group worker has been charged with the murder of a college student which was witnessed by her boyfriend on a webcam in China.

Canadian-born Brian Dickson is charged with the first-degree murder of 23-year-old Chinese exchange student Qian ‘Necole’ Liu.

Miss Liu's semi-naked body was found in her flat near York University in northern Toronto after her boyfriend was forced to watch helplessly as she struggled with her attacker 6,000 miles away.

It is alleged Liu was chatting with her partner, Meng Xianchao, over the internet when there was a knock on the door at about one am last Friday.

He saw a man enter the room and ask Miss Liu if he could use her mobile phone and then try to hug her. However, it is reported that he became aggressive when she declined the embrace and a struggle broke out.

Mr Xianchao looked on helplessly from Beijing as the struggle continued before Miss Liu's webcam was turned off.

'At that moment my mind went blank and I was cursing him from my webcam, I was so far away I couldn't reach her.

'I felt so helpless and I couldn't calm down until in the end the guy closed the computer,' he told CTV.

He contacted friends in Toronto who called police who went round to the 'hard working' Miss Liu's basement apartment.

They found her body, naked from the waste down, although there were no obvious signs of sexual assault or trauma severe enough to kill her. Read More

FBI hunt suspect as bombs are found in Columbine mall on 12th anniversary of massacre - 22nd Apr 2011

Detectives are hunting a suspected terrorist after two propane tanks and a pipe bomb were found in a mall just two miles from Columbine High School on the 12th anniversary of the chilling massacre.

Investigators were today probing possible connections between the 1999 tragedy and yesterday’s discovery which came after a blaze broke out near the store's food court.

The FBI has now released two surveillance pictures of a 'person of interest' sought in connection with the fire which started at around noon at the Southwest Plaza Mall in Littleton, suburban Denver.

No arrests have yet been made in connection with the case, but dozens of law enforcement agents were scouring CCTV footage from the mall and following other leads to identify the man seen entering through a side door not normally used by the public.

The man pictured is white with greying hair. He has a silver moustache and was wearing a dark coloured cap with a light-coloured logo on the front.

He was also wearing a grey and white horizontally striped shirt, a dark jacket with silver buttons, blue jeans and dark coloured shoes. Video surveillance recordings showed a bag-toting man enter a private-access mall corridor.

The man is then seen inside the mall, at the top of an escalator.

Evidence found at the scene has been traced back to a Target furniture store across the street from the mall where potential witnesses were being questioned today. Read More

'They're the experts...': Police call in doctor to tell them headless Waldemar Drobig is dead - 22nd Apr 2011

When police pulled a headless body from a river, you would not have thought it needed a doctor to confirm the person was dead.

But there are rules and procedures to follow. And a medic was duly called in to declare that the man in question was actually ‘life extinct’.

Yesterday a coroner expressed surprise at why a doctor was summoned.

‘Even though there was no head, and the maggots, you had to call him in?’ Dr Shirley Radcliffe asked Det Insp Chuk Gwams.

The officer replied: ‘Yes Ma’am. They are the experts, we are not.’

The inquest heard that police were called to the River Wandle in Wimbledon, South-West London, last June.

Two Environment Agency contractors clearing Japanese knotweed from the bank had discovered the headless corpse floating in the water.

It was so badly decomposed, it was impossible to establish how the person had died.

And it was only through DNA tests that police identified him as Polish national Waldemar Drobig, 32, a former baker who slept rough and had previously been arrested for petty theft.

Mr Drobig was born in Sunechow, Poland, and was married with one son, although at the time of his death he had lost contact with his family.

'The area he was found in, a ledge under a bridge, in summer time is where the local street drinkers tend to congregate,' Det Insp Gwams said.

Recording an open verdict at Westminster coroner’s court yesterday, Dr Radcliffe said: ‘The cause of death in uncertain.

‘It is not possible to rule out foul play one hundred per cent.’ Read More

Alert on cancer chemical found in thousands of processed foods - 22nd Apr 2011

A chemical which causes cancer has been found in a huge range of foods including bread, crisps and baby food.

Scientists have identified high levels in thousands of cooked and processed products.

The substance, acrylamide, has been linked to several types of cancer including bowel, bladder and kidney, and is known to cause infertility and loss of muscle control.

Scientists have known since 2002 that the chemical exists in certain products and have urged the food industry to reduce levels.

But a major study by the European Union has confirmed that there are still large amounts in a range of items including chips, instant coffee, bread, biscuits, crisps, breakfast cereals and baby food.

Experts are now urging food producers to take stronger action, and are advising the public to cut down on processed food and eat as much fresh produce as possible.

Scientists do not know exactly what causes acrylamide to form but they believe it occurs as a result of a chemical process during baking, frying, grilling or toasting.

It appears to form when food is heated to above 120c. It is not found in uncooked or boiled food. Read More

Agnes Dupont de Ligonnes and Her Four Children Found Buried In French Garden, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes Remains Missing - 22nd Apr 2011

French police searching for a missing family have launched a murder probe after five bodies were found buried in the garden of their home.

The gruesome discoveries began with a severed leg being dug up at the house in Nantes.

Then officers found the corpses, which had bullet wounds.

Officials say the bodies are believed to be those of Agnes Dupont de Ligonnes, 49, and her four children: Arthur, 21; Thomas, 18; Anne, 16; and Benoit, 13.

Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, the father, remains missing and there are no signs of a struggle in the house.

The family disappeared on April 3 or 4. Police believe they were kidnapped and killed. Their two dogs were also found buried.

The case has been complicated further by strange notes and emails obtained by officers.

One letter suggests the family wanted to move to Australia, while an email sent by the father said he was a secret US agent about to testify in a drug case, and leaving to join a witness protection programme.

Post-mortem examinations are set to take place on the bodies on Friday. Source