Sunday, April 24, 2011

China broadens stress tests for banks indicates real estate sector is heading for crisis

China has ordered its banks to conduct stress tests to see how they would be affected if property prices fell by up to 50 per cent, in a sign of growing official unease about the overheated real estate market.

The tests are more stringent and factor in a larger drop in prices than earlier ones conducted in the past two years. This comes after predictions from prominent Chinese analysts of 20-30 per cent property price declines this year.

Analysts said previous tests looked only at the effect of housing price declines on loans to developers and mortgage borrowers, and disregarded the effect on loans collateralised by land and real estate. This resulted in an overly optimistic assessment of their exposure to a serious property market correction.

"If property prices drop 50 per cent we would be in big trouble; it would mean a hard landing for the economy," according to Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS Securities. UBS recently described the Chinese property market as the single most important sector in the entire global economy because of the overwhelming importance of real estate construction to China's growth model and, by extension, global commodity demand.

Ms Wang said a crash in the real estate market could have a huge effect on developers, cement companies, steel producers and consumer purchases of items such as cars and appliances, which are closely correlated to property sales. (read more)

St. Louis Airport tornado storm caught on camera



Lambert-St. Louis International Airport officials released surveillance video that shows debris swirling inside the airport as workers and passengers run to take cover when the EF2 tornado hit on Friday night.

The damage to the Lambert Airport is estimated to be in the millions of dollars as crews work around the clock to get it cleaned-up and reopened.

Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said the airfield and Terminal 2 were fully functional as of Saturday morning.

The worst damage happened in Concourse C of Terminal 1, which houses Air Tran, American, Cape Air and Frontier airlines. (read more)

Violence in Sichuan's Tibetan community: Chinese crackdown continues

For weeks, reports have been circulating of a growing crackdown on Tibetan areas in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

In counties of Aba Prefecture, a remote region on the Tibetan Plateau--at best, a full day’s drive from the provincial capital of Chendgu--police and other security officials are said to be detaining monks (and killing two residents in the process) from and around Kirti Monastery after a young monk set himself on fire last month to protest Beijing’s Tibet policies. Earlier this week, activists released footage of the self-immolated monk and widespread security.

It’s the same region that saw major unrest just over three years ago, when Tibetan monks tried to protest peacefully against China’s religious restrictions. The protests escalated into violent demonstrations that targeted ethnic Chinese and inflamed tensions throughout ethnic Tibetan communities in Chinese provinces outside Tibet—including Aba.

The Tibetan government-in-exile in India has expressed concern about the extent of the current crackdown, saying it could become “genocide.” The U.S. government, which said it’s monitoring the situation closely, has urged the Chinese to respect religious freedoms. (read more)

Builders of new homes see no signs of recovery: Sales down 80%

In this distant Chicago suburb, a builder has finally found a way to persuade people to buy a new house: he throws in a car.

Kim Meier’s spring promotion, which includes a $17,000 credit at a nearby General Motors dealer, has produced seven sales since the beginning of March, a veritable windfall of business for a builder who sold only 20 houses last year. “We needed to do something dramatic,” said Mr. Meier. “The market’s been soft.”

That is one way of putting it. The recession hurt a lot of industries, but it knocked the residential construction market to the mat and has kept it there, even as the broader economy has started to fitfully recover.

Sales of new single-family homes in February were down more than 80 percent from the 2005 peak, far exceeding the 28 percent drop in existing home sales. New single-family sales are now lower than at any point since the data was first collected in 1963, when the nation had 120 million fewer residents. (read more)

Mainstream Media Puts Good Spin on Bad Real Estate Market

More and more, I am finding stories produced by the mainstream media where the headline doesn’t jibe with the actual story that follows. A USA Today (newspaper) story from the “Money” section yesterday is a great example of what I am talking about. The headline read “Rising home sales point to a recovery.” On the very next line, just under the headline, the sub-headline read “Prices expected to keep falling 5% to 7% this year.” So we have a recovery but prices are falling? What kind of a recovery is that? The story goes on to say, “Sales of existing homes rose slightly in March but prices fell as the U.S. housing market continues to struggle.” (Click here to read the complete USA Today story.) What are the writer and editor at USA Today thinking or even trying to say? This sounds like a story about a struggling real estate market and, in fact, all the evidence says the market is struggling. It is certainly not recovering.

For evidence of a struggling real estate market, I look no further than the USA Today story. It said, “Yet median prices in March dropped 5.9% from March 2010 to $159,600. Distressed homes accounted for 40% of sales, up from 35% a year ago, the NAR says. Distressed homes, such as those in foreclosure, typically sell at a 20% discount and pull down market prices.” Let me get this straight, “median prices in March dropped 5.9% from March 2010,” and the USA Today story is projecting prices will fall another “5% to 7% this year.” How is this a recovery in real estate? On top of that, the “Rising home sales” are comprised of “40% distressed homes.” That’s up “35%” from last year. That means 4 out of every 10 home sales are a foreclosure, and that seems to account for much of the increase in sales. This is a recovery? (read more)

China should cap forex reserves at 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars: Pain ahead?

China should reduce its excessive foreign exchange reserves and further diversify its holdings, Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group, said on Saturday.

The amount of foreign exchange reserves should be restricted to between 800 billion to 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars, Tang told a forum in Beijing, saying that the current reserve amount is too high.

China's foreign exchange reserves increased by 197.4 billion U.S. dollars in the first three months of this year to 3.04 trillion U.S. dollars by the end of March.

Tang's remarks echoed the stance of Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of China's central bank, who said on Monday that China's foreign exchange reserves "exceed our reasonable requirement" and that the government should upgrade and diversify its foreign exchange management using the excessive reserves.

Meanwhile, Xia Bin, a member of the monetary policy committee of the central bank, said on Tuesday that 1 trillion U.S. dollars would be sufficient. He added that China should invest its foreign exchange reserves more strategically, using them to acquire resources and technology needed for the real economy. (read more)

TSA Screener Thomas Gordon charged in distributing child pornography

A passenger screener at Philadelphia International Airport is facing charges that he distributed more than 100 images of child pornography via Facebook, records show.

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.

Homeland Security agents arrested the TSA officer March 24, and he is being held without bail.

Although the case was unsealed Thursday, neither the indictment nor the news release mentioned Gordon's job searching airline passengers for TSA. (read more)

Mitchell Crooks police beating caught on tape

When Mitchell Crooks checked out of the county jail last month and checked into a Las Vegas hospital, the 36-year-old videographer knew he had a fight on his hands.

His face was bloodied and bruised. His $3,500 camera had been impounded by police, and he faced criminal charges for battery on a police officer.

One month later, things have changed for Crooks.

The Clark County district attorney's office has dropped all charges, and Crooks has retained an attorney of his own. The Metropolitan Police Department has opened an internal investigation into the Las Vegas police officer, Derek Colling, who Crooks says falsely arrested and beat him for filming police.

And his camera -- which captured the entire March 20 altercation between Crooks and Colling -- has been returned. (Read more and watch the actual beating video here)

Price of silver about to skyrocket because of China?

Flood threat prompts First Nation evacuation: Canada

A flood threat has prompted the evacuation of the Roseau River First Nation, 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg.

There are plans to relocate approximately 850 people. About 170 had left by Saturday afternoon, while the rest were expected to leave Sunday and Monday.

Flood co-ordinator Howard Nelson said the band council has determined the reserve could be cut off at any time. He's worried its permanent ring dike could breach, flooding the community in as little as 15 minutes.

"According to the water levels we've been getting, we probably will lose our remaining access on the east side, so we called a full evacuation," he said.

Across the province, more than 1,600 people have left their homes because of flooding or the threat of flooding. Many of the evacuees are First Nations residents.

The Red, Assiniboine and Souris rivers have overrun their banks in some places. Provincial officials say more than 600 roads are closed and there are states of emergency in 33 municipalities.

The flood fight along the Souris River is intensifying downstream of Melita, which is currently at crest.

Provincial flood officials say in the town of Souris, the Souris River and intersecting Plum Creek are likely to crest at the same time, which could be as soon as tomorrow. That would lead to water levels similar to the record- breaking flood of 1976. (read more)


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Solar “Farms” Keep us in the Dark

The relentless industrialization of renewable energy continues, now with the support of government at all levels. The case for solar “farms” and wind “farms” (note how the word “farm” summons bucolic images that have nothing to do with these immense factories), dripping with greenwash, obscures the fact that industrial renewables are no alternative for a petrochemical-addicted society, simply another industrial dead end. As an example, consider the solar “farm.”

In 2005, the US Congress got the memo that industrialists had figured out how to make millions from solar energy. As a consequence, Congress got religion on solar and passed, along with some minor individual tax credits for solar installations, a major assignment for the Interior Department: approve, within ten years, the construction on public land of projects that would generate 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy. (Industry didn’t care about the personal solar stuff, that represented chump change in comparison with the “farms.”)

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was overwhelmed by the hundreds of applications that immediately came in. Not until this fall — halfway through the ten-year time frame to get the job done — did they finally approve the first and second projects. (read more)

Police block Beijing Easter service: China



The site of a planned outdoor Easter service at one of China's largest independent "house" churches was eerily silent Sunday as police blocked more than 500 worshippers from leaving their homes and detained more than 36 for attempting to attend religious services in Beijing, church officials said.

The gathering place for worshippers was empty as church-like bells sounded in northwest Beijing. Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers swarmed the site of Shouwang Church and prevented CNN journalists from accessing the area.

Authorities confiscated credentials from CNN crew members and detained them for half an hour.

Worshippers spent several months preparing for the Easter service, according to members who spoke with CNN. Police on the scene told CNN they were stationed there for "security reasons."

Shouwang Church's senior pastor Jin Tianming is currently under house arrest by the authorities.

"More police have come to stand watch in front of my door in anticipation of Easter," Jin told CNN in a phone interview. "I've spoken to several of my fellow worshippers who attempted to attend our planned service this morning," but some were detained, Jin said.

"But we will not change our plans. We will not change our decision to worship as this is a matter of faith," Jin said. (read more)

New documentary investigates war being waged by biotechnology companies against scientists who expose the truth about GMOs

In order to maintain its massive charade of deception in claiming that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are the safe, practical solution to the world's food problems, the biotechnology industry has had to silence and destroy the lives of many in the scientific community. In the hard-hitting new documentary Scientists Under Attack - Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money, German filmmaker Bertram Verhaag explores the heavy hand of the biotechnology industry in steering "science" towards its own interests, and eliminating the actual, legitimate science that exposes genetic engineering (GE) as the fraud that it is.

In the film, Verhaag speaks to various experts in the industry, including two scientists in particular whose lives have been ruined as a result of their inquiry into GE. Going against the flow, Arpad Pusztai and Ignacio Chapela questioned the "science" being peddled by the likes of Monsanto about GE, and instead sought to discover the real truth. In the process, they both ended up being threatened by the biotechnology industry and essentially losing their careers.

"The attack on scientists is very well-structured by the biotech industry," says one scientist in the film. "It's systematic. It's worldwide. It's very coordinated. It's part of the way they do business."

According to the scientists interviewed, roughly 95 percent of the published research involving GMOs has been conducted and paid for by the biotechnology industry. This means that only five percent of the available research on the subject has been conducted by independent research firms that are much more likely to have an honest, unbiased approach. (read more)

Federal Reserve: An Enemy Of The People

There will never be a better time than the present to call a spade a spade. The central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve, has become an enemy of the people. I went to the grocery store yesterday, and was simply astonished—and frightened—by the price rises I saw in nearly everything I bought—coffee, meat, off-the-shelf pharmaceuticals, you name it. The Wall Street Journal sent me the following missive this morning, presumably to remind me of the ever-thinner justification behind the Federal Reserve's policies.

The consumer price index last month increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.5% from February as gasoline and food costs moved higher, the Labor Department said. On an annual basis, prices were up 2.7% in March, the highest level since December 2009.

But core inflation, which excludes energy and food prices that can be volatile, rose by only 0.1% in March from February. The annual underlying inflation rate stood at 1.2% last month, within the Fed's comfort zone of just under 2.0% and giving the central bank scope to keep its easy-money policies in place. (read more)

Unmanned aircraft are moving us towards a 'Terminator-like' world, says Ministry of Defence

Fearing that this could become a reality, the internal report says we must act now to decide what is 'acceptable machine behaviour'.

There is increasing unrest about the use of unmanned drones in Afghanistan - and the Ministry of Defence suggests there could be both legal and moral issues with using pilotless planes.

The drones have killed 124 people in the war-torn country since July 2008, David Cameron revealed in December.

Pakistan has recently called for the U.S. to stop using the unmanned aircraft. Every time a blunder is made Afghan insurgents are able to brand the West 'cowardly' for using them.

As unmanned aircraft become more sophisticated, the report calls for ethical questions to be addressed. (read more)


Industrial Food: Hazardous to your Species

It wasn’t a scientific study, just an exercise to test methods for a possible future study, yet its findings were so stunning and conclusive they have become the subject of widespread discussion and a major industrial damage-control effort. The sample, by common research standards, was infinitesimally small: five families, comprising ten adults and ten children. The duration was similarly minute: three days. And the methodology was hardly complex: don’t eat any packaged food. The results were amazing.

First, a little chemistry. The functioning of the living body — any living body — requires a symphony of tiny chemical reactions, thousands per second, whose complexity is far beyond our power to comprehend. How fast we grow, how much we weigh, when we mature, whether we reproduce, how we respond to a threat or an attractive potential mate — and how all these things are affected by a myriad of outside influences — are governed by a network of glands that send a constant stream of orders, in the form of hormones, to the outposts of the body to manage its long battle to survive. This network is called the endocrine system.

Industrial chemistry has unleashed on the world thousands of chemicals whose purpose ostensibly is to improve our lives, by killing bugs and weeds or by providing all manner of plastic gizmos. Many of these chemicals, we now know (now that they are in wide distribution throughout the world) are endocrine disruptors: they mimic, or interfere with, or distort the functioning of the endocrine system. (read more)

Is this equality? As a lawyer, I never thought I’d have to defend Christians in a Christian nation - 24th Apr 2011

I wanted to be a barrister for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be an advocate, to give a voice to those in society who could not help themselves.

I wanted justice to be done and believed that our great British legal system, founded on Christian principles, would secure such justice.

I never imagined that my skills as a lawyer would be used to defend Christians for
following their faith in 21st Century Britain.

In the UK, Christians are beginning to experience discrimination that leads to them being marginalised and losing their jobs. Over the past three years more than 100 have suffered after wearing a cross, sharing their faith, even offering a prayer.

Why is this? I believe it is because, as a nation, we have forgotten our history and Christian foundations – our very identity. The legal and political elite tell us that we have now ‘grown up’ and are a secular nation.

This rings hollow for many of us. Even those who might not attend church regularly still – the majority of them – identify with the great faith that shaped our nation.

Christian principles are clear-cut and easy to understand. They espouse life, joy, forgiveness, freedom, tolerance and justice. These principles are good for all and we are poorer as a society when we reject their source.

The social reformers of the 19th Century who made Britain great – Wilberforce, Fry, Peel and Rowntree, among others – were compelled by their love for Christ and built on the foundations of preachers such as Wesley and Whitefield of the 18th Century.

Most of the great advances in public life, in healthcare, education and social provision, came as a result of Christian conviction. Read More

Fact or Fiction - Ancient Aliens "The Return" - 24th Apr 2011

It is proposed that aliens have contacted man as recently as the 20th century, citing examples such as the Battle of Los Angeles and the Roswell UFO Incident. It also looks at the modernSETI project and speculates what would happen if aliens answered back; what protocols exist to determine who would speak on behalf of mankind, and how we would communicate.

Guiseppe Massaro, 80 and Caterina Massaro, 77 Murdered in their Own Home, Found by their 23 Year old Granddaughter on Good Friday

An elderly couple murdered in their home were found by their granddaughter when she came to visit on Good Friday.

The bodies of Guiseppe Massaro, 80, and his wife, Caterina, 77, were discovered by 23-year-old Lindsey Booth who had gone to their house with her mother after an aunt was unable to get in touch with the couple.

The mother and daughter found the terraced house in Wolverhampton ransacked and Mr and Mrs Massaro lying dead in their upstairs bedroom.

Miss Booth told the Sunday Mirror: 'When I got upstairs I opened their bedroom door and saw my granddad lying still on top of the mattress. I screamed to my mum to stay downstairs and walked over to touch the body. It was cold.

'That's when I noticed my gran lying next to him - her body was covered by the duvet. They were in their day clothes and I didn't see any blood or signs of a struggle.

'My grandparents were wonderful and loving people who worked hard all their lives and did not deserve to die like this.' Read More

Man Killed In Street Attack By Masked Men - 24th Apr 2011

A 29-year-old man has died after being attacked by a group of masked men in Derby last night.

Derbyshire Police said they were called to reports of a fight in Cummings Street at about 7.40pm.

The man was found unconscious with head injuries and he was pronounced dead at the Royal Derby Hospital.

A police spokesman said the victim was "set upon by five masked males who were wearing dark clothing and heavy jackets".

A murder investigation has been launched and anyone who may have been in the area between 7 and 8pm is urged to get in contact. Source

Libya: Misratah Fighting Rages Despite Claims - 24th Apr 2011

Besieged Misratah has continued to be bombarded by rockets and automatic weapons, despite claims Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's army had fled the Libyan city.

While rebels claim they have retaken 80% of the coastal town, which is hemmed in on three sides by Gaddafi forces, hostilities continue, according to Sky's Alex Crawford, who is reporting from Misratah.

"Whatever they claim the shelling goes on, despite the claims," Crawford said.

The country's deputy foreign minister had said the army suspended operations against rebels but not left the city as the regime negotiated with local tribes for a peaceful solution

"The armed forces have not withdrawn from Misratah," Khaled Kaim said.

"They have simply suspended their operations. The tribes are determined to solve the problem within 48 hours... We believe that this battle will be settled peacefully and not militarily."

Libyan expert Adel Darwish believes the next phase of fighting will involve more skirmishes between rebels and government forces, making it harder for Nato to assist with combat air support. Read More

Clashes with Tanginya’s forces left 57 dead among them three Major Generals

South Sudan’s army claimed today killing 57 militia members during Saturday’s clashes with Tanginya’s forces, in Jonglei state, adding three major-generals and several high ranking officers were among them.

SPLA forces who clashed today morning with the forces loyal to General Gabriel Tanginya. claim Tanginya’s force instigated the violence by launching an attack against them.

The militia forces were in the process of completing their reintegration into the South Sudan army – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) - in their designated assembly area of Kaldak, in Jonglei state, when the incident occurred.

After an agreement reached in October2010, Tanginya was due to integrate his forces into the SPLA before July 9 when the South will secede from the North after voting overwhelmingly to separate in a referendum.

In a press release read on South Sudan TV on Saturday evening by the head of the SPLA Information Department at the General Headquarters of Bilpam, Brig. Gen. Malaak Ayuen, said the forces of Gabriel Tanginya launched the attack against the SPLA forces at Kaldak at 8:30 am. Read More

U.S. fears overdue 'megathrust' earthquake will trigger tsunami and decimate unprepared cities on north-west coast - 24th Apr 2011

The north-west coast of the U.S. could be devastated by a huge movement of undersea plates known as a ‘megathrust’ earthquake, scientists say.

A review of the dangers posed by the Juan de Fuca plate released in the wake of the Japanese quake has raised fears that the Pacific seaboard could be similarly ravaged.

The horrifying possibilities have been brought to light by data researched by the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory at Oregon State University.

And the results are shown in a documentary, Megaquake: The Hour That Shook Japan, which is set to go out on the Discovery Channel in the UK this weekend.

The huge March 11 earthquake that sparked the tsunami off the coast of Japan may have been a ‘megathrust’ quake and now researchers fear the Cascadia fault line 50 miles off the U.S. coast could rupture and cause a quake and subsequent tsunami.

The average time along that fault between massive quakes above magnitude 8 is 240 years, said The Times, and the last 'megaquake' was just over 300 years ago. Read More

Mathew Nellessen was shown Mercy by Judge, and given Probation rather than Jail, is Charged with Brutal Murder of his Father Three weeks later

A 19-year-old man who was released from custody and put on probation is facing charges of murdering his father just three weeks after being set free.

Mathew Nellessen is accused of trying to rob his father George Nellessen before repeatedly hitting him with a baseball bat and stabbing him in the neck with a steak knife.

Mr Nellessen's body was discovered two days later.

Mr Nellessen had previously appeared in court on behalf of his son, who has been trouble for several minor offences, and had even posted his bail.

The teenager, from the Arlington Heights suburb of Chicago, Illinois, was released after court hearing on March 25.

He had been in custody for violating his probation.

Prosecutors allege that on April 12, Nellessen and three others - Marlon Green, 20, Armon Braden, 20, and Azari Braden, 19 - waited for Nellesen's father, George Nellessen, 55, to come home from work so they could rob him.

They allegedly duct-taped him to a chair and demanded his banking information.

After getting his father's chequebook, Nellessen allegedly wrote a $100,000 cheque to himself, then freed his father's hand to sign it, authorities said.

After Mr Nellessen Snr told his son he was going to call police, the teenager allegedly struck him repeatedly with a baseball bat. He then allegedly took a steak knife from the kitchen and stabbed his father in the neck. Read More

Susan Loper Murder Suspect, Terrance Deeing Black Arrested after Failed Grand Canyon Suicide Jump -24th Apr 2011

A Texas man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend was arrested after he leapt into the Grand Canyon, but only fell 25 feet.

Terrance Deering Black, 48, of Dallas, made the jump after police issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the death of his fitness instructor ex-girlfriend Susan Loper, 40.

When he was approached at the National Park he dived over the edge, but he did not fall far. He was arrested and taken by helicopter to hospital for treatment.

Park officials say once he's released from the hospital, he will be taken into custody.

On Friday, police issued a capital murder arrest warrant for Black for the death of Mrs Loper.

Her body had been found in woods on Wednesday, a day after she went missing from the country club where she worked in Plano, Texas.

Officers said there were signs of a struggle in the Gleneagles Country Club fitness room and that Mrs Loper's purse and mobile phone were left at the club.

Her car was missing from the car park but was found on Wednesday, shortly before the discovery of her body.

Police have not yet said how Loper died. Read More

Derek Fenton, 40, was fired for burning Koran near Ground Zero gets his job back AND $25,000 - 22nd Apr 2011

The transit worker fired for burning pages of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks is getting his job back, being given $25,000 and receiving back pay for every day he was out of work.

Derek Fenton, 40, from New Jersey, hit headlines last year when he ripped up the pages from the Muslim holy book and set them alight outside the site of the planned mosque near Ground Zero.

He was taken away by police but released without charge and a few days later he was sacked by NJ Transit.

But a settlement obtained by The Star-Ledger Newark shows that Mr Fenton has been given his $86,000-a-year job back, will receive $25,000 for 'pain and suffering caused' and receive back pay equal to the amount of $331.20 for every day since he was fired on September 13 last year.

The state will also pay $25,000 in legal fees to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit claiming Fenton's right to free expression was violated.

He said in a statement: 'Our government cannot pick and choose whose free speech rights are protected, based on whether or not they approve of the context of our statements or actions.

'This is the very essence of the First Amendment.' Read More

One way Ticket to Hell, Nicholas William Minerva, 52, Shoots Himself Dead in Church as Police arrive with Search Warrant for Luring young Girl aged 14

A pastor under investigation for inappropriate communications with a teen shot and killed himself inside the church.

Nicholas William Minerva, 52, of Tempe, near Phoenix, Arizona, had been served with a search warrant at the church moments before he ran back inside and pulled the trigger.

Police were probing his internet conversations with a 14-year-old girl.

The chats, that were with a teen and then unknowingly with detectives after police had been alerted, had been going on since last July.

Authorites say he had 'inappropriate conversations' with the 'girl' and once showed his genitalia via a webcam.

Minerva was married with four children and was respected by a loyal group of parishioners.

Detective Frank Mendoza, from the Chandler police department, said Minerva committed suicide on Thursday, shortly after officers arrived at the Trinity Baptist Fellowship Church in Phoenix.

He said: 'After we made contact, he ran away and retreated back into the church.

'A short time later, he shot himself to death.'

Minerva has been a Trinity Baptist pastor since January 2004.

Police say it’s possible there may be other victims in this case. Read More


Cruel Shoppers Stare, Laugh and Film as Family of Ducks get Trapped on Mall Escalator - 23rd Apr 2011

Surely your first instinct would be to grab them one by one and get them to safety.

But shoppers appeared to be memerised by this admittedly bizarre sight... a family of ducks trapped on a mall escalator.

The video, which first appeared on YouTube in 2008 but has gone viral in recent days, gives no explanation for how the ducks ended up inside the mall, much less trapped on the escalator, in the first place.

It shows them frantically hopping from step to step, sometimes flapping their wings, in an attempt to ascend the escalator - which is going down.

Meanwhile shoppers stand by watching, with many taking pictures, as one mystery person films the surreal scene.

At one point the person with the video camera hops on to the escalator to get a better view.

Shortly after the ducks - who all seemed to be adults - appear to suddenly fly into the air.

It's not clear from the videos exactly when or in what mall the incident took place, or what became of the ducks.

But they may not be able to shake off memories of their traumatic experience on the escalator as easily as they would water off their backs. Source


Aerial view of the devastation left by tornado which flattened dozens of homes and ripped roof off Missouri airport injuring four with flying glass

This was the scene of devastation today left by a tornado which hit several counties in St Louis and tore off the roof of the city's International airport.

Almost 50,000 homes had power cuts as the storm flattened dozens of homes in Maryland Heights and Bridgeton and threw cars into the air. Miraculously only three people suffered minor injuries.

Five were taken to hospital with cuts and many more treated at Lambert airport after half the windows in the main terminal were blown out sending debris raining down on passengers.

The airport - crowded with travellers heading home for Easter - was so badly damaged it was shutdown on Saturday but was planning to run a reduced flight schedule by Sunday morning. For More Images >>>>>


Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones jailed for refusing pay $1 'peace' bond at court hearing over mosque protest - 24th Apr 2011

Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones was jailed briefly for refusing to pay a $1 'peace' bond over his planned protest outside the largest mosque in America.

Jones was also banned from demonstrating and ordered him to stay away for three years from the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan.

The pastor and a supporter, Wayne Sapp, were later released from custody after the bond was paid.

Earlier, a jury decided his protest was 'likely to breach the peace' in the Detroit suburb with a large Muslim American population.

Jones had asked for a permit to stage a Good Friday demonstration on public land across from the mosque and four other churches where several thousand worshippers were expected.

Judge Mark Somers issued a preliminary ruling last Thursday in favour of prosecutors who sought the bond on the grounds that the appearance by Jones would require heavy police protection to prevent violence.

Meanwhile, Jones accidentally accidentally fired his gun in his car before his court appearance following an interview at Fox channel WJBK.

On its Facebook page, myFoxdetroit.com, the station said: 'Pastor Terry Jones just discharged his firearm in our parking lot. Read More

Now the Self-Styled 'superheroes' (NYI) step in to help protect prostitutes from the Craigslist killer - 24th Apr 2011

Self-styled superheroes have offered their help in fighting the serial killer thought to be behind the murders of over a dozen prostitutes in New York City.

The New York Initiative (NYI) - a group of vigilantes who model themselves on comic book superheroes - have posted an advert on classified ads website Craigslist offering 'rescue teams' for hookers whose clients' turn violent.

NYI, who identify themselves as a group of 'martial arts trainers, security specialists, emergency first responders, drug counsellors, former military police and former law enforcement', are also offering free martial arts and weapons training to the women.

The murderer stalking New York - dubbed the Craiglist Killer because he targets women selling sex through Craigslist - is thought to be behind the deaths up to 13 prostitutes.

Most of the bodies so far found had been dumped in scrub land on the southern coast of Long Island, New York. All had been strangled and stuffed in burlap sacks.

According to their advert, NYI have offered their help to prostitutes because 'apparently the law doesn't respect your personal choices and that means cops are slower to follow through when it comes to you.'

The group is offering 'a number to call and a few one-number or one-word codes you can say or text to us so that we can contact someone to assist you with a possibly violent date.'

They add: 'We will react quickly and without hesitation every time, using our considerable contacts to the full extent of their reach.' And they promise not to involve the police unless there is a risk of 'serious danger'.

The New York Initiative patrol the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan by night, attempting to deter crime. Read More

End of a dictatorship: Ali Abdullah Saleh President of Yemen agrees to step down within a month after 32 years in power - 24th Apr 2011

Yemen's embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has agreed to a proposal to step down within 30 days and hand power to his deputy in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The plan, negotiated by Gulf Arab mediators, is a major about-face for the autocratic leader who has ruled for 32 years - but whose regime has been rocked by months of violent protests.

But in a gesture of defiance, in a speech to supporters in the capital Sana'a Mr Saleh accused protesters of 'acts of riot and sabotage' and insisted that any handover of power would be orderly.

The protest movement demanding Mr Saleh's immediate departure said that it accepted the latest draft of the deal but with reservations.

The day before, protesters staged the largest of two months of demonstrations, filling a five-lane boulevard across the capital with a sea of hundreds of thousands of people. Read More

Failed Taliban suicide bomber shot dead in Afghanistan was 'sleeper from London' - 24th Apr 2011

A suicide bomber who was shot dead before he could detonate himself in Afghanistan's defence headquarters had travelled from London, it's believed.

The Times are reporting that Britain's intelligence services have been handed details of the militant who infiltrated the base on Monday.

Sources high up in Afghanistan said the would-be bomber's name and other personal information had been forwarded to London, suggesting that he had been living here in Britain.

In what's become an increasingly common practice amongst insurgent attackers, the dead man wore a sergeant-major's uniform to trick his way into the building.

He shot two guards and managed to make his way to the office of Defence Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, but he was shot dead by bodyguards before he could detonate his suicide vest.

The foreign office were unable to confirm the newspaper's claim but, if the attacker proves to have had British nationality, it will be the first known case of a suicide bomber from the country travelling to Afghanistan. Read More

Asylum seekers run up £2,500 taxi bill... even though the bus fare costs £1.80 - 24th Apr 2011

Asylum seekers are being ferried to and from court hearings by a private taxi company costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds - even though the local bus does the trip for £1.80.

Each five-mile trip from the train station to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Centre in Newport, Gwent costs £8.70 in a cab.

Around £2,500 a month is being spent to bring migrants to Columbus House - where applications to become British citizens are heard. It is paid by the Tribunals Service to a private taxi company.

Campaign groups have criticised yet another wasteful Government scheme.

Matthew Sinclair, from The Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Across the public sector, costs need to be properly kept under control and the taxpayer's money spent on front line services and not on more convenient journeys for asylum seekers to tribunals.

'If there are more are more affordable options other than taxis, they should be used wherever possible as one more way of minimising the burden on hard-pressed families.'

A spokesman for the Tribunals Service told The Sun: 'The service is provided for appellants as part of the conditions imposed by the local authority when planning permission was granted for the centre.'

She added that they do not pay for train fares. Source

New concerns over swine flu jab after children given it 'hit by sudden sleep syndrome' - 24th Apr 2011

A swine flu vaccine which has been given to thousands of children in Britain may cause the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

Symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness and nodding off suddenly without warning.

All packets of the vaccine Pandemrix will have to carry a warning about the risk following a ruling by the EU regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EMA, which is currently investigating the effects of the vaccine, has also told doctors to weigh up the potential risks before injecting children against the deadly H1N1 virus.

There have been seven reported cases of narcolepsy in the UK linked to the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine – four of them children.

The condition can also cause temporary muscle paralysis, hallucinations and problems concentrating.

Caroline Hadfield, of Frome, Somerset, believes her five-year-old son Joshua contracted narcolepsy after being vaccinated with Pandemrix last January.

Within weeks of having the jab, Joshua began sleeping 18 hours a day and Mrs Hadfield says his personality completely changed.

Mrs Hadfield, 40, said: ‘I believe this link will eventually be confirmed. I’m very angry about it.

‘I researched the vaccine carefully before agreeing to let Joshua have it and thought I was protecting him. Now he’s saddled with this for life.

‘There should have been more testing before it was rolled out and it should have been destroyed at the first suggestion of any problems.’ Read More

Britain gave £45m (which we haven't got) to India (which is spending £1bn on aircraft carriers sending a probe to Mars) - 24th Apr 2011

India's economy is booming - so why is the UK still sending millions of pounds in aid?

Britain gave £45m (which we haven't got) to India (which is spending £1bn on aircraft carriers sending a probe to Mars) for a scheme that planted this biofuel crop (which is poisoning their children, using up valuable grazing land and can't actually be used as biofuel). In this powerful dispatch, David Rose holds to account the sacred cow that is our £7.8bn foreign aid budget.

Within living memory, the Satpura hills in the southwest corner of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh were a kind of paradise. In the shade cast by teak forests, antelope roamed, together with deer and the occasional leopard, as well as abundant rabbits.

In summer, the intense, sweet scent of the trees’ white flowers filled the air, while pools and streams were full to the brim with fish and freshwater crabs. The local Adivasi tribespeople did not have much money, says Ram Das, a man in his sixties from the village of Chiklia, ‘but times were good and our diet was rich’.

Today the hills above Chiklia and the landscape for miles around are bare. The teak has gone to make construction beams and furniture. The climate has turned arid. The streams have dried up and in the long dry months from November to May the land supports little vegetation.

However, since the beginning of 2008, there has been a change. Thanks to a £45 million programme financed by British taxpayers via the Department For International Development (DFID), the villagers have covered thousands of acres with jatropha, a strange, pale-stemmed plant with livid green-and-yellow leaves, native to Central America. In other districts, the programme budget has also sponsored the cultivation of bamboo and the development of solar-powered lighting, but DFID workers promised the Adivasi that the jatropha would make them richer, because it could be turned into biodiesel. They were wrong.

‘This stuff is a menace,’ Ram Das says. ‘The wood is useless. Cattle can’t eat it because it’s highly poisonous, and that means that after the monsoon, when these hills turn green, we have to keep our animals away from what used to be good grazing. The plants also spread very fast. The wind blows the seed pods and it creeps into our wheat fields.’ Read More

Cellmate of Dubai cell-death Lee Brown says he was attacked by SIX guards then left for four days - 24th Apr 2011

A prisoner who shared a cell with a British tourist allegedly beaten to death by guards in a Dubai police station has revealed how he begged him to help save his life.

The witness said Lee Brown, 39, told him: ‘Please, please help me. Call my embassy, call my family . . . They beat me badly. Please help me otherwise I will die.’

His testimony includes the claim that after being attacked by six officers, Mr Brown was left alone for four days to die in his cell and that no officers checked on him. The officers, he says, even joked: ‘He’s crazy. Let him die in there.’

Mr Brown, a handyman from Essex, had flown first class to the Gulf city and was staying at a £1,400-a-night hotel when he was arrested after a row with a maid and jailed.

Reports from inside the notorious Bur Dubai police station claimed that his police guards had beaten him and smashed his head against the concrete floor. But no credible, in-depth testimony has surfaced from anyone who was inside the prison – until now.

The Mail on Sunday tracked down the one inmate who shared a cell with him – making him one of the last people to see and speak to him before his death. Read More

High Court judge 'sits' in Tenerife: Sensitive child protection cases will be heard by telephone in hotel room - 24th Apr 2011

High Court judge responsible for handling Britain’s most sensitive emergency court cases over Easter will be conducting hearings by phone from his holiday 1,800 miles away in Tenerife.

Sir Nicholas Mostyn, who earns £172,000 a year, is the duty judge for family hearings, often traumatic child care proceedings and bitter divorces.

He is understood to be with his new partner, fellow barrister Elizabeth Saunders, whose husband Mark was shot dead by police.

Last night the Judicial Communications Office (JCO) insisted Sir Nicholas could deal with cases by email and telephone.

But judges and lawyers expressed concern that it could cause a problem if an urgent matter needed to be dealt with in person and were surprised at the move by such a high-ranking duty judge.

Judges are already under scrutiny over the increasing number of privacy injunctions granted to celebrities who want to keep their misbehaviour out of the media.
When this newspaper contacted Sir Nicholas yesterday on his mobile phone he declined to comment.

Instead an officer from the JCO confirmed the judge went abroad after seeking permission from the head of the family division.

But one judge who specialises in family law cases said that not being in the country could be a problem if an urgent matter could not be dealt with over the telephone. Read More

Mystery surrounds Thousands of fish deaths on Marcoola Beach, Australia - 24th Apr 2011

MYSTERY surrounds the discovery of thousands of dead fish which littered Marcoola Beach on Friday.

Local woman Lisa Perry took several photographs of the dead fish, including some 18cm whiting.

The majority she found on her 2km walk past the surf club at 4pm were pilchards.

“There were thousands of them,” Ms Perry said.

“When people saw me start taking photographs they came up and asked me if I knew what they were and what had happened.”

Ms Perry said the incident was similar to one in March 2006 when by-catch from commercial trawlers left a trail of dead fish from Coolum Beach to Buddina.

On that occasion the EPA launched an investigation.

“It was terrible. The beach then was thick with fish, but this time there wasn’t as many,” she said.

“Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they had seen a trawler quite close in the morning and that is what they do when they are trawling for prawns, but I don’t know.”

Queensland Seafood Industry Association spokesman Paul Higginbottom said he was unaware of the latest incident but said it would be unusual for trawlers to be in the Marcoola area. Read More