Saturday, April 23, 2011
Amateur footage taken on Good Friday purports to show Syrian security forces in the city of Homs opening fire on anti-government protesters.
In the video protesters can be seen fleeing after gunfire halts their demonstration against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Two men, apparently shot, are carried off by the crowds as they retreat.
The clip is alleged to have been filmed on the bloodiest day yet in the five-week uprising against the Syrian leader.
Mr Assad had responded to growing popular pressure by lifting Syria’s draconian 1962 emergency laws. But the president’s apparently conciliatory gesture failed to signal a softening of the regime’s determination to crush dissent.
Across the country, protesters spilling out of mosques on Friday were met with live ammunition, sometimes within minutes of prayers ending.
In Damascus, the capital, and towns and cities to the east, west and south, every attempt to challenge the regime was met with the same remorseless vengeance. (read more)
Raymond Mitchell, 34, had only popped into the restaurant to buy a hot chocolate.
But he apparently caused offence after splitting up two men fighting in the queue.
One of them, who had several gold teeth, shouted at Raymond: “You are gonna die tonight, you are not gonna see the morning.”
Suncoast Energys, located near the Orlando International Airport, was charging $5.69 a gallon for regular gasoline on Friday. That's the highest of any gas retailer in the nation, according to price tracker gasbuddy.com.
By contrast, the average price in the city of Orlando is $3.78 a gallon, a few pennies below the state and national averages.
Patrick DeHann, senior analyst at gasbuddy.com, said many tourists use the station before returning rental cars on the way to the airport, without realizing how expensive the gas is until it's too late. (read more)
Either way, prayers in Europe this Easter holiday weekend are as likely to call for rain as anything else -- with serious fears over the wheat harvest, its impact on already sky-high global food prices and, of course, devastating brush fires.
A year ago, it was Russia that bore the brunt of global warming, and with the price of benchmark wheat futures jumping by more than a fifth since the spring in the global market hub of Chicago, farmers everywhere are busy scanning the skies for soothing signs.
Traditional Easter fairs in the east and the north of the Netherlands have been cancelled because of the risk of fires posed by the extraordinarily dry weather affecting northern Europe, Dutch news agency ANP said.
In the eastern half of the country, one of Europe's biggest traders, outdoor family barbecues, smoking and camp fires are a strict no-no.
In the Swiss canton of Zurich, officials began moving trout this week from the river Toess before their habitat dried up.
This year threatens to bring "one of the most significant droughts since 1864," the year when records began in Switzerland, said Olivier Duding, a climatologist from Swiss weather service Meteosuisse. (read more)
The controversial rumor is based on what appears to be a leaked internal note from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland. It's not entirely clear at this point if the memo is authentic, or what the data it refers to might mean — but the note already has researchers talking.
The buzz started when an anonymous commenter recently posted an abstract of the note on Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit's blog, Not Even Wrong. (read more)
It did not provide details on the target of the strike, saying only that it occurred in the early afternoon local time in Libya.
Gates announced on Thursday that the unmanned aircraft would be used in Libya for Hellfire missile attacks on the forces of leader Muammar Gaddafi.
General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. plan called for keeping two patrols of armed Predators above Libya at any given time, permitting better surveillance -- and targeting -- of Gaddafi's forces. The drones are based in the region but typically flown by remote control by pilots in the United States.
The U.S. military has been using other drones to target militants along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. The drones in Libya were not taken from Afghanistan, U.S. officials said. (read more)
They are working on a theory that James Cooper and James Kouzaris were confronted by the alleged gunman Shawn Tyson as they tried to find an all-night restaurant.
The 16 year-old is thought to have frogmarched the pair away from a well lit road and into the series of one way streets that make up the “no go” area of the Courts housing project in the Newtown, north Sarasota.
The men were shot multiple times as they ran for their lives after being made to turn out their pockets and hand over their wallets, phones and a camera.
One eye witness has claimed 25-year-old Cooper was shot three times in the chest before tripping over and slumping on the floor where he died.
The witness claimed Kouzaris was shot in the head but managed to stagger over 40 feet from his friend and died by the side of a parked car. (read more)
Regardless, since the beginning of the disaster, government regulatory agencies such as the EPA, USDA, CDC, and the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) have all claimed that there is no danger in the radiation coming from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plants. The mainstream media has obediently repeated these claims as fact. Some media pundits such as Ann Coulter even have promoted the Orwellian and absurd notion that radiation is actually good for you, and that it prevents cancer. (Coulter has yet to explain why she has not purchased an airline ticket for Japan so she can have the opportunity to bathe in it.) (read more)
The study, published in journal PLoS ONE, showed a "ketogenic diet" could reverse damage caused to tubes in the kidneys by too much sugar in the blood.
In the UK around a third of the 2.8m people with either type 1 or 2 diabetes go on to develop kidney damage.
Diabetes UK said it was "questionable" whether humans could sustain the diet. (read more)
Here's the "official" breaking news of the story that day:
This post was reader contributed.
Audit finds CDC misplaced $8 million in equipment: Bured but not forgotten, and eerily similar to NASA equipment "disappearance"
Agency officials said Wednesday they have corrected the lapses that led to that amount of waste.
The report was released this week by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, the parent agency of the CDC. In 2007, the auditors checked on 200 randomly sampled items and found 15 were lost or not inventoried, including a $1.8 million hard disk drive and a $978,000 video conferencing system.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden wrote the inspector general that the CDC agrees with the report's conclusions and has now instituted better controls. He wrote that 99 percent of the agency's property was accounted for in 2009. And the agency says all of its property this year is accounted for.
The agency still hasn't explained what happened to the 15 pieces of missing equipment from 2007, auditors said. But a CDC spokeswoman on Wednesday said all but four of the items — including the two most expensive ones — have since been accounted for.
CDC officials were tsk-tsked by Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
"It's just a good thing they haven't lost any diseases," Schatz said.
The Atlanta-based CDC often gets high marks for how well it does at its core mission of promoting health and investigating outbreaks of illness. But it has less incentive to keep track of its computer equipment or take care of other concerns that would seem important to a private business, Schatz said.
"There are a lot of agencies that do their job well, but they don't manage the 'little things' very well. The Defense Department is notorious for losing all kinds of equipment, but they do a pretty good job defending the country," Schatz said.
The CDC is the only HHS agency to have had such an audit — the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration have not.
This is the CDC's second audit. A 1995 audit found the agency was unable to account for more than $5.5 million in property, including computers, microscopes and even vehicles.
In 2007, two House Republicans — Joe Barton of Texas and Greg Walden of Oregon — asked the inspector general to take a new look at how CDC inventories and tracks its property, following allegations that as much as $22 million in CDC equipment had been lost or stolen. (read more)
Both Saleh and the Yemeni opposition have agreed to the deal in principle. But Saleh has yet to sign the agreement, which mandates that he leave office within 30 days and provides complete immunity for him and those who served in his regime, said the official. (Source)
Mass hysteria! Science world buzzing over rumours the elusive 'God particle' has finally been found - 23rd Apr 2011
The speculation is based on a leaked internal note, said to be from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17 mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland.
The rumours started when an anonymous post disclosed part of the note on Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit's blog, Not Even Wrong.
While some physicists are dismissing the note as a hoax, others say the find could be a huge particle physics breakthrough in understanding the workings of the universe.
Physicist Sheldon Stone of Syracuse University said: 'If it were to be real, it would be really exciting.'
The Higgs boson is predicted to exist by the particle physics theory known as the Standard Model. The Higgs boson, physicists believe, bestows mass on all the other particles and was crucial to forming the cosmos after the Big Bang.
It has long eluded physicists who believe it could explain why objects have mass. Read More
Solomon Islands- A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands at a depth of 81.6 km (50.7 miles), the quake hit at 11:16:55 p.m. CDT Friday.
The epicenter was 76 km (47 miles) W of Kira Kira, San Cristobal, Solomon Isl.; 173 km (107 miles) SE of HONIARA, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands; 184 km (114 miles) SSE of Auki, Malaita, Solomon Islands; and 2084 km (1294 miles) NNE of BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia.
No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect.
Specifically, the U.S. could produce enough of the algae-derived fuel to eliminate 48 percent of the fuel it currently imports for transportation needs, according to researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. But doing so would require 5.5 percent of the land area in the lower 48 states and consume about three times the water currently used to irrigate crops."The water use is significant," Mark Wigmosta, a hydrologist at the lab who led the study, told me today. (read more)
This month’s temperatures have been 3C higher than normal.
On Wednesday it was 26.5C at Heathrow, making it the warmest April day at the airport since 1949 – much hotter than many places holidaymakers were jetting off to.
Truck drivers at the Shanghai port of Baoshan are demanding relief from rising fuel costs and port fees, in a rare industrial action that will reinforce government fears about the destabilising impact of rising prices.
While localised labour and land disputes are common and usually contained, one of the government's greatest fears is that popular discontent over inflation could spark a wider protest movement.
"Every intersection has riot police," one Baoshan trucker interviewed by phone on Friday afternoon, who declined to be named, said. "I don't know how long it will last."
In an alert, a logistics company at the port warned clients that strikers had blocked traffic in a protest over "domestic fuel [costs] and the high handling fees charged by port terminal operators".
Wen Yunchao, a rights activist who has been monitoring the protests, said authorities had agreed to eliminate or reduce a range of port fees. However, the parties were still divided over the port's container fees, which management offered to cut from Rmb50-75 to Rmb20. (read more)
Tribes loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have said that if the army cannot drive rebels from the besieged port city of Misrata, they will, a senior official says.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said the army had tried to keep civilian casualties low but the tribes would not show the same restraint.
Colonel Gaddafi's forces have been pounding Misrata for weeks.
Meanwhile, Nato forces carried out more air strikes on the capital, Tripoli.
The Libyan government says three people were killed by the strikes.
Journalists were shown a concrete bunker near Col Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizia compound that received two hits early on Saturday. (read more)
But Ali Abdullah Saleh made no commitment to accept the plan.
Hundreds of thousands rallied in his support in the capital, Sanaa, while similar numbers of opponents met nearby and in the southern city of Taiz.
At least 120 people have died in two months of protests demanding the end of Mr Saleh's 32-year rule.Huge crowds gathered near the main mosque in the capital Sanaa, calling on President Saleh to retain power until his term ends in 2013.
In a very short speech, the 69-year-old leader said he welcomed the initiative of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) that proposes a transfer of power to the vice-president.
But he said any arrangements had to be "within the framework of the Yemen constitution" - language which could mask objections to the plan. (read more)
The Food Basics store in Listowel, Ont., about 160 km northwest of Toronto, was shut after needles were found on Thursday.
Ontario Provincial Police in Perth said employees at the store were still inspecting all food products Friday to ensure everything was safe for purchase.
Inspectors with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency were also expected to be on hand. (read more)
They said two people were killed in the southern town of Izraa, while another four died in the Damascus suburb of Douma, according to reports, which could not be independently confirmed because Syria has expelled foreign journalists.
Over the last five weeks, funerals of demonstrators have often turned into anti-government protests. During Saturday's procession in Izraa, thousands of people were shouting slogans against the Assad regime as they carried coffins through the streets.
Human rights groups estimate at least 75 people were killed Friday when security forces opened fire with live ammunition during unprecedented cross-country protests, calling for an end to President Bashar Assad's regime.
The shootings occurred in several locations as security forces tried to disperse crowds and regain control of the streets. (read more)
"We are experiencing the worst drought we have seen in decades; since the beginning of March, we have buried 54 people who died from the effects of the drought, seven of them today [20 April],” said Ali Barow, leader of the small town of Guulane, 220km northeast of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Barow said Guulane and the surrounding villages of Eil Barwaaqo, Hirka Dheere and Hagarey, with an estimated population of 20,000-25,000, were suffering the effects of a prolonged drought.
He said a local NGO had undertaken water trucking but it was not enough and “did not reach most of the residents. They did well but ran out of money before they could make much of a difference.”
Abukar Abdulahi Tifow, the country director of the Women and Child Care Organization (WOCCA), a local NGO, who visited some of the villages, told IRIN the situation was desperate. “What we saw was depressing; some of the villagers were eating wild berries and cooking 'garaz’ [a yellowish bean normally eaten by animals during drought]; that was all the food they had."
Tifow said his group trucked water for 1,420 families (about 8,520 people) in the four weeks they were there. “Unfortunately, there were many more we did not reach. We simply ran out of funds.” (read more)
How many times do the government officials and politicians of the world have to watch the crashing and burning of a Baghdad Bob (Saddam Hussein’s information minister Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, who achieved the standing of global idiot by proclaiming on TV that the US invasion of Baghdad had failed minutes before American tanks arrived at his studio) before they get the point? Refusing to convey bad news does not prevent panic, it causes panic; pretending everything is OK when it patently is not does not preserve your credibility, your job or your government, it is more likely to destroy them all at once.
At a time when its people desperately needed accurate information, the Japanese government provided bland assurances that everything was under control. Or was about to be. And then, over and over again, had to return to the podium a few hours later to admit that everything had just gotten much worse, but was almost under control. The resulting loss of public confidence will in all probability lead to the removal of the current government along with the other debris left in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. (read more)
These thoughts are occasioned by last night’s story on CBS’s 60 Minutes detailing the enormous sweat shops created to forge signatures on bogus documents for the country’s largest banks. In their zeal to rake in money quickly from the securitized, sub-prime mortgage frenzy that destroyed much of the financial world, the banks paid little attention to the legalities of dealing in real estate. Years later, after the bubble that they had blown up had burst, and the recession they had caused had decimated the middle class, those who got caught holding the mortgages when the music stopped found they had a problem. They couldn’t foreclose on a property they couldn’t prove they owned because they had been too cavalier to do the paperwork. So they simply started manufacturing bogus paperwork. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, all of whom have no doubt been sorely penalized by banks for missing a payment by a day or overdrawing an account by a dollar, have been put out of their homes by companies that had no evidence that they owned the mortgages.
Where is the outrage? Where are the street demonstrations, the burnings in effigy? Where are the platoons of bankers being perp-walked to prison? The street is empty. (read more)
A team of EU scientists said nitrogen emissions from cars, factories and farming was threatening biodiversity.
It's the second report this week warning of the on-going risks and threats linked to nitrogen pollution.
The Nitrogen Deposition and Natura 2000 report was published at a key scientific conference in Edinburgh.
Earlier this week, the European Nitrogen Assessment - the first of its kind - estimated nitrogen damage to health and the environment at between £55bn and £280bn a year in Europe, even though nitrogen pollution from vehicles and industry had dropped 30% over recent decades.
Nitrogen in the atmosphere is harmless in its inert state, but the report says reactive forms of nitrogen, largely produced by human activity, can be a menace to the natural world.
Emissions mostly come from vehicle exhausts, factories, artificial fertilisers and manure from intensive farming. (read more)
Researcher Evan Mills' study notes that cannabis production has largely shifted indoors, especially in California, where medical marijuana growers use high-intensity lights usually reserved for operating rooms that are 500 times more powerful that a standard reading lamp.
The resulting price tag is about $5 billion in annual electricity costs, said Mills, who conducted and published the research independently from the Berkeley lab. The resulting contribution to greenhouse gas emissions equals about 3 million cars on the road, he said.
Narrowing the implications even further reveals some staggering numbers. Mills said a single marijuana cigarette represents 2 pounds of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours.
"The added electricity use [to an average home] is equivalent to running about 30 refrigerators," Mills wrote. "Processed cannabis results in 3,000 times its weight in CO2 emissions. For off-grid production, it requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one indoor cannabis plant, or 140 gallons with smaller, less-efficient gasoline generators." (read more)
Heavy winds from a severe storm caused significant damage, shattered windows and sent debris raining down on passengers at an airport in St. Louis Friday night.
The Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is closed indefinitely while officials investigate the damage, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay told reporters.
"There was a reported sighting of a tornado. Although that has not been confirmed, that storm caused significant damage to the airport," he said.
The reported tornado twisted metal and blew out plate-glass windows in the airport's main terminal, CNN affiliate KSDK reported.
Four people were transported to nearby hospitals with injuries, Slay said.
Passengers were hit with flying glass and debris as winds ripped off part of the roof in the airport's C concourse, the station reported.
One witness described a chaotic scene outside the terminal as officials evacuated passengers from at least one aircraft.
"The plane was rocking back and forth," said Brett Knewitz of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who was on a plane that was about to take off from the airport when the storm hit.
Initially officials did not allow evacuated passengers into the airport, he said, because of concerns that the building's roof would collapse. Once he was allowed inside, Knewitz said he saw an injured gate agent.
"She was bleeding like crazy," he said. (read more)