Monday, April 25, 2011

Tornado Touches Down as Dallas Faces Fierce Weather -- 200 severe weather reports US-wide

Tornadoes were forming over Dallas late this afternoon, as the weather there turned ominous, threatened by a storm system that has brought 200 reports of severe weather across the country over the last 24 hours.

The threatening skies over Dallas prompted authorities to warn people to take cover just before a tornado touched down near the town of Cleburne, Texas. The same system that brought those twisters is also bringing torrential rain that has prompted flood warnings in 17 states.

The storms around Texas are part of a system expected to sweep across a broad part of the country including the southern Great Plains, the lower Mississippi Valley and into the Gulf Coast and the Tennessee Valley.

With all that activity and the storms that have already hit, Storm Prediction Center lead forecaster John Hart said we could see a record month.

So far, 292 tornadoes have touched down this April, killing 39 people.

"It may very well end up being more tornado reports in April than we've seen before," Hart said. "We do seem to be on track for a record in that respect."

Meanwhile, in the St. Louis area, people are recovering in the wake of a monster tornado -- the worst in nearly a half century -- that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and ripped through the major airport over the weekend.

In Missouri, new damage totals show some 2,700 buildings damaged and 100 homes destroyed around St. Louis, including Marcy Baker's house. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Syria: army uses tanks against the people in day of bloodshed

The Syrian army used tanks against its own people for the first time on Monday as President Bashar al-Assad resorted to overwhelming force in an attempt to crush the last vestiges of unrest against his rule.

Dozens of people were reportedly killed after troops and armour flooded into the southern city of Dera'a and opened fire on residential areas, apparently at random.

Amid growing international condemnation at the mounting death toll in Syria, where more than 100 protesters were killed on Good Friday alone, members of the UN Security Council are considering a statement being circulated by a British-led group of European countries, which condemned the killing of hundreds of Syrian protesters.

The statement, which was proposed with France, Germany and Portugal, called for an immediate restraint, an end to the state of emergency, and an independent investigation into the civilian deaths. It could be released on Tuesday if approved by China and Russia, a western diplomat at the UN said.

The diplomat said the measure was aimed at "putting Syria on notice" that the Security Council was closely monitoring developments. "There may be talk of sanctions," the diplomat said. "At present the focus is on releasing as strong a statement as is possible and securing the reforms that Syria has promised".

The diplomat's comments came as the United States threatened to impose sanctions on Mr Assad and his henchmen in a significant policy shift. (read more)

Nintendo profit slide casts shadow over Japan's recovery hopes -- 66% profit loss

Nintendo has deepened the gloom enveloping corporate Japan after profits hit a seven-year low because of stiff competition in the video games console market and a post-earthquake slide in consumer confidence.

The electronics company plans to introduce an updated second generation version of its best selling Wii console next year to provide stronger competition against Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Nintendo has already added to its product range with the 3DS, a glasses-free three dimension handheld device and is forecasting sales of 16m this year. However, initial sales have underperformed expectations.

Analysts say new products are urgently needed to contain the damage caused by the collapse in Wii sales, down 5m units to 15.1m last year, and expected to fall by another 2m in the current financial year.

Net profits in the year ending March 31 slumped 66pc to 77.6bn yen (£574m) while operating profits dropped 52pc to ¥171.1bn. Nintendo disappointed analysts looking for operating profits of ¥215.8bn for the year to March 2012 with its forecast of ¥175bn.

Spending apart Nintendo escaped the worst effects of the earthquake, unlike the motor industry. Car production at Toyota factories in Japan slumped 63pc to 129,491 last month after output and component supplies were disrupted by the natural disaster. (read more)

Chernobyl recovery officer criticises Japan's efforts at Fukushima

Soviet efforts to contain the Chernobyl nuclear disaster a quarter of a century ago were far better than Japan's "slow-motion" response to the disaster at Fukushima, a leading member of the 1986 recovery effort said.

In a rare interview on the eve of the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl on Monday, Col-Gen Nikolai Antoshkin said he was shocked at how poorly Japan had coped with its own nuclear disaster.

"Right at the start when there was not yet a big leak of radiation they (the Japanese) wasted time.

And then they acted in slow-motion," he said.

The Soviets had evacuated 44,600 people within two and a half hours and put them up in "normal comfortable conditions" on the same day, he recalled.

"Look at advanced Japan," he said. "People are housed in stadiums and are lying about on the floors of sports halls in unhygienic conditions."

Gen Antoshkin said he thought the Japanese were simply unable to cope on their own. "It is clear that they do not have enough strength or means. They need to ask the international community for help," he said. "I think the Japanese catastrophe is already more serious than Chernobyl. The main thing is that they do not allow it to become three, four or five times more serious." (read more)

The "real" recession is about to begin: UK Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter is announced on Wednesday

The waiting is nearly over. Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter is announced on Wednesday – rarely has the data caused so much anticipation.

Last quarter's surprise contraction has created confusion over the economy's direction of travel. With the austerity measures now biting hard, the figures are also seen as the first major test of the Government's fiscal strategy.

Will the squeeze, by damaging growth, prove self-defeating, or as the Chancellor anticipates, can the private sector be expected to step up to the plate and invest on the scale necessary to replace the jobs and demand being shed by a shrinking state?

Wednesday's data is unlikely to provide conclusive answers, but it ought at least to help us better understand whether the final three months of last year were indeed just a weather induced blip or a harbinger of something rather more ominous to come.

The forward looking indicators have been mixed. Some, such as the Composite Purchasing Managers Index have been consistent with relatively decent levels of economic growth of up to 1pc quarter-on-quarter. Anything less might be regarded as a disappointment, as you would expect something of a claw back in activity after the pre-Christmas snow.

Last week's retail sales data was also stronger than expected given the VAT rise and the squeeze on disposable incomes. Yet other data has pointed to continued weakness in construction activity and consumption. (read more)

WikiLeaks: Guantánamo Bay terrorists radicalised in London to attack Western targets

Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza, two preachers who lived off state benefits after claiming asylum, are identified by the American authorities as the key recruiters responsible for sending dozens of extremists from throughout the world to Pakistan and Afghanistan via London mosques.

The leaked documents, written by senior US military commanders at Guantánamo Bay, illustrate how, for two decades, Britain effectively became a crucible of terrorism, with dozens of extremists, home-grown and from abroad, radicalised here.

Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, is described as a “haven” for extremists. United States intelligence officials concluded the mosque served as “an attack planning and propaganda production base”.

The files will raise questions over why the Government and security services failed to take action sooner to tackle the capital’s reputation as a staging post for terrorism, which became so established that the city was termed “Londonistan”.

The documents show that at least 35 detainees at Guantánamo had passed through Britain before being sent to fight against Allied forces in Afghanistan. This is thought to be more than from any other Western nation. (read more)

"Revolution": Ron Paul's emotional speech -- everyone needs to watch this

IMF bombshell: Age of America nears end

For the first time, the international organization has set a date for the moment when the “Age of America” will end and the U.S. economy will be overtaken by that of China.

And it’s a lot closer than you may think.

According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now.

Put that in your calendar.

It provides a painful context for the budget wrangling taking place in Washington, D.C., right now. It raises enormous questions about what the international security system is going to look like in just a handful of years. And it casts a deepening cloud over both the U.S. dollar and the giant Treasury market, which have been propped up for decades by their privileged status as the liabilities of the world’s hegemonic power.

According to the IMF forecast, whomever is elected U.S. president next year — Obama? Mitt Romney? Donald Trump? — will be the last to preside over the world’s largest economy. (read more)

Military "Courtesy" Patrol Begins in Columbus, Georgia -- Martial Law Waves Hello to America

Don't Like a Weak US Dollar? Might as Well Get Used to It

Weakness in the US dollar, which is causing everything to go up—including gas prices, food and stocks—is unlikely to go away soon as a selling frenzy hits the currency market.

The greenback is approaching pre-financial crisis lows and threatening to smash through its all-time low when measured against the world's predominant national currencies.

A combination of factors accounts for the weakness, with the Federal Reserve's easy-money policies, huge national debts and deficits and the consequential possibility of a debt downgrade because of the financial mess in Washington leading the way.

In short, as trader Dennis Gartman noted Thursday, "the rout of the US dollar" is in full effect.

"Panic dollar selling is setting in," Gartman, a hedge fund manager and author of "The Gartman Letter," wrote in his daily commentary. "This may carry farther than any of us dream of or, worse, have nightmares of."

How low can it go?

Rick Bensignor, chief market strategist at Dahlman Rose in New York, said the dollar index [.DXY 74.18 0.07 (+0.09%) ], which measures the greenback against a basket of select other global currencies, has scant technical support "that has any meaning" between its present level and the historical low of 70.70. (read more)

"A Guide to Looting When SHTF" -- No really, someone has written this due to the seriousness and rapidity of America's decline

Law and order will be the first casualty when the shit hits the fan. Recent historical examples the world over, including New Orleans, Haiti, and Chile show that without policing, looting will become an immediate danger.

The following Guide to Looting When the SHTF by Thomas Northrop of No Bullshit Survival shows that survival and preparedness planning does not include just storing food, supplies, guns, and medicine, or creating tactical defense plans for your home and property. There will be organized gangs, whose sole method of acquiring necessities will be through looting. A friend recently mentioned that when discussing possible collapse scenarios at the water cooler, one of his office coworkers suggested that he would simply take what he needs from other people if it came down to it. Thus the looter mentality is not as isolated as we may think. In all likelihood, this person has already considered what he would do, how he would do it, and how far he was willing to go.

This is a reality, so understanding and accepting it as such is important now – so that you are fully prepared to deal with it if ever confronted by such a situation. (read more)

US Default Could Be Disastrous Choice for Economy

The United States has never defaulted on its debt and Democrats and Republicans say they don't want it to happen now. But with partisan acrimony running at fever pitch, and Democrats and Republicans so far apart on how to tame the deficit, the unthinkable is suddenly being pondered.

The government now borrows about 42 cents of every dollar it spends. Imagine that one day soon, the borrowing slams up against the current debt limit ceiling of $14.3 trillion and Congress fails to raise it. The damage would ripple across the entire economy, eventually affecting nearly every American, and rocking global markets in the process.

A default would come if the government actually failed to fulfill a financial obligation, including repaying a loan or interest on that loan.

The government borrows mostly by selling bonds to individuals and governments, with a promise to pay back the amount of the bond in a certain time period and agreeing to pay regular interest on that bond in the meantime.

Among the first directly affected would likely be money-market funds holding government securities, banks that buy bonds directly from the Federal Reserve and resell them to consumers, including pension and mutual funds; and the foreign investor community, which holds nearly half of all Treasury securities.

If the U.S. starts missing interest or principal payments, borrowers would demand higher and higher rates on new bonds, as they did with Greece, Portugal and other heavily indebted nations. Who wants to keep loaning money to a deadbeat nation that can't pay its bills? (read more)

Obama won’t produce birth certificate because it would reveal TRUE identity of his father: Hawaii senator Sam Slom

A member of the Hawaii State Senate has said he believes Barack Obama is not releasing his long-form birth certificate because he may want to hide the identity or citizenship of his father.

Republican Sam Slom said the 'real issue' behind the reluctance of the U.S. President, who says he was born in Hawaii, to release full details from his birth certificate was unlikely to be because he wanted to hide his place of birth.

'My particular point of view... is that [Obama] probably was born [in Hawaii] and that the real issue is not the birth certificate, but what's on the birth certificate,' Slom said in an interview on New York's WABC 770 AM radio station.

In recent months, the birthplace of Obama has become a burning issue, with detractors of the President questioning whether he was in fact born in Kenya - even though Hawaii officials have certified he was born in the U.S. state.

Slom, who said he once lived in the same building as Obama in Hawaii's capital, said: 'My belief is that there is a birth certificate, he was born here, but that there is information that for reasons known only to him he doesn't want released. (read more)


Second computer worm 'hits Iran'

Iran has been hit with new malicious software as part of cyber attacks against the country, a military officer told Mehr news agency on Monday without specifying the target.

"Certain characteristics about the 'Stars' virus have been identified, including that it is compatible with the (targeted) system," Gholam Reza Jalali, commander of the Iranian civil defence organisation, told the agency.

"In the initial stage, the damage is low and it is likely to be mistaken for governmental executable files," Jalali said, adding that Iranian experts were still investigating the full scope of the malware's abilities.

He did not say what kind of equipment the virus was targeting or when and how it had been spotted.

Tehran was hit with another computer worm, "Stuxnet," last year, reportedly designed to hurt the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear programme.

Iran has accused arch-foes Washington and Israel of launching Stuxnet, which was publicly identified last June and reportedly mutated and infected at least 30,000 computerised industrial equipment in the following months.

In December, Iran implicitly admitted its uranium enrichment plant in the central city of Natanz, which is regularly inspected by the UN nuclear watchdog, had been the victim of the worm.

Jalali urged the foreign ministry to take appropriate measures amid the ongoing "cyber attacks" against Iran, and said efforts to contain Stuxnet were still ongoing, Mehr reported.

"Confronting the Stuxnet virus does not mean that the threat has been fully removed, since viruses have a certain life span and it is possible that they continue their activity in a different form," he said.

Computer security firm Symantec said in November that Stuxnet might have been designed to disrupt the motors that power gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium -- the most controversial work of Tehran's nuclear programme. (read more)

$5,000 Gold And $300 Silver Are Credible Numbers

Q: What do CNBC, George Soros, Warren Buffet and every other mainstream investment commentator on the price of gold have in common for the last ten years?

A: They are all wrong.

All the time, every year, ten out of ten years in a row. If you continue to pay attention to such disinformation, you will lose money. Definitely. No question. Guaranteed.

Each and every year, their vapid comments on the future gold price prove to be complete bollocks, yet year after year, and day after day, millions of readers watchers and listeners tune in for another dose of horribly incorrect information.

These days, the number of perpetually inaccurate predictions forecasting an end to the gold boom are thoroughly drowned out by the now multitudinous voices screaming from the rooftops for gold to go much higher. About 90 percent of that is the herd mentality at work. Early predictions for $1,000 gold, which seemed extreme and outlandish just two years ago, turned out to be very conservative. So its easy now to lay claim to being "the one who predicted the gold bull market".

Bandwagon riders aside, there are compelling reasons to support a much higher gold price, and more importantly, a narrowing of the ratio between the gold price and the silver price. One year ago, the silver to gold ratio was 63 ounces of silver for every ounce of gold. Today that ratio is 35:1. Its fallen by nearly half in one year.

In terms of pure performance, whereas gold has delivered a solid gain of 26.51% in the course of the last year, silver has outshone gold spectacularly, turning in a gain of 123.55%, making it the commodity trade of the year by far. The effect of that performance is to dramatically alter the perception of investors in terms of its desirability as a precious metal. Its long been a psychological barrier to silver's progress, in my opinion, that a precious metal could be had so cheap. (read more)

Four women, teenage girl found stripped with throats slashed in Acapulco beauty parlor

Mexico was stunned by a shocking new massacre Monday after four women and a teenage girl who worked in an Acapulco beauty parlor were found stripped and slaughtered.

The 14-year-old and two of the women were found on the second floor of shop Sunday with their hands bound - and their throats cuts.

Two other victims were found elsewhere in the resort city - one dumped on a street behind a church and the other in an abandoned car.

None of the slain women was identified; police said the teen had worked at the salon for just five days.

A favorite stop for American tourists, Acapulco has been convulsed in recent months by violent turf wars between rival drug gangs that have left thousands dead in Mexico.

Still, mass murders of women are not the way traffickers usually settle scores, police said.

In this case, "a massage parlor was found where sexual acts may have been performed, although this is still under investigation," Fernando Monreal Leyva, chief of detectives for the Guerrero state police, told The Associated Press. (read more)


Thailand, Cambodia battle on border for 4th day -- casualties mount, temples damaged

Thai and Cambodian forces battled for a fourth straight day along their disputed border Monday, as Cambodia accused its neighbor of damaging two ancient temples in weekend clashes.

Southeast Asian diplomats are struggling to end the repeated deadly flare-ups, but Thailand's prime minister appeared to reject outside help Monday, saying the two countries have to resolve the dispute alone.

The fighting on land around temples and several other crumbling stone monuments is rooted in a long-running dispute over where the border should be drawn and has fueled profound nationalistic fervor in both countries for decades.

Field commanders on both sides reported heavy exchanges of fire after nightfall Monday around Ta Krabey temple. Cambodian Col. Suos Sothea said from the front that both sides had fired artillery, mortars and rifles. (read more)

Western leaders call for Nato to target Gaddafi

Senior western leaders called for Nato to adopt an assassination policy against Col Muammar Gaddafi to salvage the bombing campaign in Libya from a descent into stalemate.

The calls came as Col Gaddafi was reported to have strengthened his grip on power by repatriating billions of dollars in overseas assets that should have been frozen by UN sanctions.

On Sunday, there was growing pressure on Coalition forces to directly target Col Gaddafi with military strikes.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services committee, said that the quickest way to end the emerging stalemate was to "cut the head of the snake off". He said: "The people around Gaddafi need to wake up every day wondering, 'Will this be my last?'

Senator John McCain, who visited Libya at the weekend, also said that the Libyan dictator should be targeted but argued that it was more important to increase American firepower over Libya. He said: "It's pretty obvious to me that the US has got to play a greater role on the air power side. Our Nato allies neither have the assets, nor frankly the will - there's only six countries of the 28 in Nato that are actively engaged in this situation."

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, also on Sunday refused to rule out using remote-controlled American drones to assassinate Col Gaddafi. Mr Hague said "who and what is a legitimate target depends on their behaviour." However, he denied that there was a stalemate in Libya and ruled out proposals to partition the country. (read more)

rally planned to condemn McDonald's attack: Maryland

Advocates for transgender rights are planning a rally outside a McDonald's in Maryland where an attack against a transgender woman that was caught on video took place.

The rally condemning the attack is set for 7 p.m. Monday outside the restaurant in Baltimore County.

The video posted online shows a woman being beaten and then apparently having a seizure. Baltimore County police say a 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile and an 18-year-old woman, Teonna Monae Brown, faces assault charges in the case.

The victim, 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis, says she's the victim of a hate crime. Polis says before she was attacked, one teen said Polis was a man using the women's restroom and accused Polis of talking to her man. (Source)

Fact or Fiction - Ancient Aliens "Mysterious Places" - 25th Apr 2011

This episode examines locations around the Earth that are proposed "hot spots" of UFO activity; such as the Bermuda Triangle; Mexico's "Zone of Silence" an area of land said to naturally disrupt radio signals; the portal-like structure at Peru's Puerta de Hayu Marka; and the curious rock formations of the Markawasi Plateau.

Is this the fate of our solar system? The incredible Cat's Eye Nebula captured by the Hubble Telescope - 25th Apr 2011

These are the spectacular death throes of a distant star captured through the Hubble telescope.

The Cat's Eye Nebula may be three thousand light years from earth - but its fate is the one that likely awaits our own sun, albeit in about 5 billion years.

As a dying star nears the end of its red giant phase, its outer layers are expelled outwards forming the outer concentric circles seen in the image that stretch for millions of miles.

This explosion exposes the pulsating core of the star.

But the formation of the entrancing blue gas clouds at the centre of the image are not well understood, as the process stems from the inner nuclear reactions of a star that hold the secrets of the formation of the galaxy. Read More

Bewildered toddler calls for his mother after accidentally shooting her dead with gun he thought was a toy - 25th Apr 2011

A two-year-old boy keeps calling for his mother after he is feared to have shot and killed her while playing with a loaded gun.

Troy Bailey pointed a 9mm Glock pistol at his mother Julia Bennett after mistaking it for a toy gun.

The victim's ex-boyfriend claimed he watched in horror as the toddler accidentally pulled the trigger.

Troy Bailey Sr. admitted he had left the gun unattended when he visited his ex at her home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Mr Bailey Sr, who has permit for the gun, said his son picked up the loaded weapon and pointed it at 33-year-old Miss Bennett and pulled the trigger.

Police said Miss Bennett, a nursing assistant,died from a single gunshot wound.

Mr Bailey Sr is not listed as a suspect or person of interest in the investigation.

Family members are still trying to make sense of what happened and comfort the bewildered child.

'He just keeps calling her name, calling, "Mom, mom" ,' said Marva Anglin, Troy's aunt. Read More

Boy, 11, plunges to his death from 30ft-high zip-wire ride that had only been open a week - 25th Apr 2011

The adventure park where a boy of 11 died after falling from a 30ft high ‘zip-wire’ ride closed its doors today 'as a mark of respect' to the child's family.

The Easter Sunday tragedy happened as the boy was on an attraction called the SwampFlyer at Greenwood Forest Park in Snowdonia which had only been open for a week.

Visitors launch themselves off a cliff in a harness and travel at high speed on a cable over treetops and a swamp before finishing on the other side of a wooded valley almost 500ft away.

The ride, which spans the entire wooded valley in which the park lies, was described by one of the first participants to use it as ‘terrifying’. At its highest point the zip-wire is 30ft off the ground.

The boy, who was on holiday with his family, was severely injured after apparently falling from the ride part of the way across.

He was taken to hospital by air ambulance but was later pronounced dead.

Police and the Health and Safety Executive have now launched a joint investigation into the tragedy, which came as hundreds of families were enjoying the sunny weather at the popular theme park.

A spokesman for the theme park said: 'We have closed as a mark of respect to the boy's family.'

The park is expected to reopen tomorrow. Read More

Valery Tolmachev: 'Take me to Tripoli!': Knife-wielding passenger is overpowered by flight crew after taking stewardess hostage - 25th Apr 2011

A would-be hijacker armed with a knife tried to hijack an Alitalia passenger plane last night and demanded it be flown to Libya.

As 131 passengers looked on in terror, Valery Tolmachev, a 48-year-old Kazakh diplomat who lives in Paris, is said to have held a knife to the throat of an air stewardess and demanded the Paris to Rome flight be diverted to Tripoli.

The incident happened at around 7.30pm soon after flight AZ329 had taken off.

Tolmachev calmly walked up to a female flight attendant and then placed a Swiss Army knife with a 3in blade against her throat, said a police source.

He was dressed all in white and was apparently laughing uncontrollably at times, ordering the pilots to fly to Tripoli, he added.

Tolmachev, who works for a delegation from Kazakhstan which liaises with UNESCO, was then jumped from behind by four other flight attendants, supported by passengers.

They over-powered him and he was held on the floor of the plane. There was a doctor among the passengers and he was able to inject the man with a tranquiliser to calm him down and make him feel drowsy.

'The man grabbed the stewardess from behind her back and pointed the knife. She was in difficulty and tried to turn around,' a passenger named Sofia told reporters.

Stefanie, a French woman who lives in Italy, describing yesterday's incident said the man laughed when the stewardess asked him to go the front of the plane with her.

'He held her for just a few minutes and then the other flight attendants intervened and passengers helped hold the man to the floor,' she said.

After the 'knifeman' was subdued, flight AZ329 landed safely at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, where he was arrested by police. Read More


Three arrested over murder of grandparents found 'battered to death' in their bedroom - 25th Apr 2011

Three men have been arrested over the murders of an elderly couple found dead in their home in Wolverhampton.

The bodies of Giuseppe Massaro, 80, and his 77-year-old wife Caterina, were discovered by their granddaughter on Friday evening.

Today police confirmed they made the three arrests in the early hours of this morning.

Two of the men, aged 31 and 32, are from Wolverhampton while the third, aged 30, is from Birmingham. The three are currently being interviewed by detectives at separate stations in the West Midlands.

Post mortem examinations on Mr and Mrs Massaro will be carried out this afternoon.

Police say they are still appealing for witnesses to come forward with information.

Supt Mark Payne of Wolverhampton’s Local Policing Unit, said detectives want to discover what happened to the couple’s black Peugeot 307 car - which has since been recovered in nearby Wednesfield - in the days leading up to their deaths.

‘I am still appealing to anyone who may have seen this car or seen people coming or going from this address at Woden Road on Thursday or Friday,’ he said.

‘We want to hear from anybody who might have been offered a television or the car in Wolverhampton on Friday. Read More

Villagers employ security guard to catch cat killer after eight die from anti-freeze poisoning - 25th Apr 2011

Cat lovers paid thousands of pounds for security guards to patrol their neighbourhood after eight cats died from anti-freeze poisoning and another two vanished.

Families living in the village of Runwell, Essex, fear a killer is deliberately slaughtering their pets after the spate of deaths over an 18 month period.

Worried cat owners in the smart village have installed security fences to keep the animals off the streets.

Terry Lewis, 30, spent £10,000 on vets bills and dialysis trying to save his three cats Phoebe, Paige and Leo who were the first to be poisoned with anti-freeze in October 2009.

Mr Lewis put up warning posters in the area and spent £3,000 to hire security guards to patrol the area after they were torn down for five days running.

He said: 'I think the police should launch a murder inquiry. There is definitely someone behind this. If someone's prepared to hurt animals you don't know what else they might be prepared to do.' Read More

Cancer-sufferer Laura Gibson, 15, and friends dressed as Easter bunnies turned away from zoo over fears they would cause animals 'psychological damage

A group of teenagers dressed as Easter bunnies were turned away from a zoo - amid fears they would 'psychologically damage' the animals.

Cancer-sufferer Laura Gibson, 15, and her friends were told to change out of their costumes before entry into Edinburgh Zoo in case they upset the creatures.

The trip had been planned as a special treat for the teen, who was joined by friends Hannah, Kirsty and Becki Nicholson and her brother Cameron, who was dressed as a chicken.

But a Zoo employee told the group of four bunnies and a spring chicken that animals can get scared of people dressing up.

Miss Gibson, from the Scottish capital, wrote on her blog: 'Arrived at the zoo and went to the ticket desk where the manager said we weren't allowed in due to our inappropriate attire that would scare and upset the animals and cause them "psychological damage". OH PUH-LEASE.

'There are people with face paint and masks and we weren't allowed in wearing bunny costumes.' Read More

Chris Flintoff, 19 accidentally set his girlfriend, Lindsey Plant on Fire - 25th Apr 2011

A teenager accidentally set his girlfriend on fire while trying to light a disposable barbecue with a bowl of petrol.

Chris Flintoff, 19, had become frustrated that the barbecue wouldn't light so got a dish of petrol and poured it on the fire. But the flames shot back up and set to his hands on fire.

Desperate to put out the flames, he threw the bowl behind him not realising his 19-year-old girlfriend, Lindsey Plant, was walking there to fetch her mobile phone.

The burning petrol hit the law student's legs causing 36 per cent burns.

The emergency services were called and an ambulance, rapid response vehicle and air ambulance were then sent to the property in Walsall on Saturday afternoon.

She was treated at the scene before being airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Ronald Poole, 68, said his grandson had been trying to get a fire started when he poured petrol on it.

The grandfather-of-four said: 'They bought a disposable barbecue and tried to light it but it kept going out.

'He got this dish of petrol and poured a bit on the fire, but the fire travelled back up and his hands caught fire. Read More

BREAKING NEWS: Stuntman dies when safety nets fails in human cannonball show in front of huge crowd - 25th Apr 2011

A man has died after a safety net failed during a human cannonball stunt, police said today.

The accident happened during a show put on by Scott May's Daredevil Stunt Show at the Kent County Showground in Detling at about 3.30pm.

A Kent Police spokesman said: 'A man taking part in a human cannonball event this afternoon has died after it is believed a safety net failed to engage.'

He added that the man was aged in his 20s but it was not yet known where he lived.

The spokesman added: 'Kent Police is advising people due to travel to the evening daredevil stunt show that it has been cancelled.'

A statement on the Scott May website states: 'With our apologies, due to unforeseen circumstances all shows have been cancelled until further notice.'

Scott May's Daredevil Stuntshow has been touring in the UK since 1991 and features motorbike and monster trunk stunts. Read More

'I would rather die here than go back to Iran and be killed': Iranian asylum seekers sew their mouths together and go on hunger strike in deportation

In a desperate attempt to have their asylum claims accepted by the UK government, four Iranians have sewn their mouths shut with fishing wire and gone on hunger strike with two others.

The men have not eaten for 20 days and have set up a makeshift camp outside the Lunar House immigration centre in Croydon, south London.

The British government is planning on sending them back to Tehran, but the men claim that their lives would be in danger if that happened, as they all took part in protests against the Iranian regime in 2009 and were beaten, tortured and even raped as a result.

Mahyar Meyari, who is 17, explained how he was arrested and given brutal treatment after taking part in a demonstration.

‘I was blindfolded and taken to an unknown place where I was kept for a week,’ he told The Guardian.’ I was hit on the head by batons many times … and even raped. I prefer to die here than going back to Iran.’

Another protester, Keyvan Bahari, 32, says he feels their actions are a last resort to make the UK authorities take notice of their plight.

He told the paper: ‘We have sewn our mouths because there is no other way. Nobody in the UK hears us or cares what we say so we have no other option but to do this.’ Read More

Hundreds Of Taliban Prisoners Escape Jail - 25th Apr 2011

More than 400 prisoners, including members of the Taliban, have escaped a jail in Afghanistan after insurgents tunnelled in to free them.

The majority of the 476 prisoners who fled the 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison were Taliban militants, according to prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagi Mayar.

It is the second major jailbreak from the prison in Kandahar province, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, in three years.

It is supposed to be the most secure jail in the country.

The Taliban, known for exaggerating its successes, claimed that 541 prisoners, including many commanders, had escaped through an extensive tunnel which took months to create.

A Taliban statement said: "Mujahideen started digging a 320-metre tunnel to the prison from the south side, which was completed after a five-month period, by-passing enemy check posts and (the) Kandahar-Kabul main highway leading directly to the political prison."

The provincial governor's spokesperson Zalmay Ayoubi confirmed the jailbreak, saying: "We have the report that hundreds of Taliban managed to escape from the prison."

Waheed Mujhda, a Kabul-based expert on the Taliban, said it would have been impossible to dig the tunnel and free hundreds without collaboration with the guards.

"It is either a case of the jailers being financially motivated and being bribed or a case of them being politically motivated," he said. Read More

Bacteria scare closes popular Darwin beaches - 25th Apr 2011

Tests have found dangerous levels of harmful bacteria in the water at two popular Darwin beaches, causing their closure as tourists and locals flock to the recreation area of East Point.

Both Lake Alexander and nearby East Point beach are officially closed but many people are ignoring advice and taking the plunge.

Darwin City Council tests early last month found bacteria levels on the beach were seven times more than the amount considered dangerous.

The most recent test from the Lake Alexander spillway was nearly double the dangerous amount.

Council water testers say human or animal faeces are responsible for the bacteria but they do not know where it is coming from.

Darwin Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer wants the Northern Territory Government to test water in the harbour.

"Several times the sea has been way up above the acceptable limits and there have been people swimming in it," he said.

"We need testing regimes in the harbour that run right through the year."

Mr Sawyer says he wants to use DNA testing to work out what is causing dangerous levels of enterococci and E.coli bacteria in the water.

"We have got some really weird readings from the testing that we have been doing around Lake Alexander, including the control site which is in the sea," he said. Read More

Nuclear Event - Iran detects second cyber attack - 25th Apr 2011

Details added after the third paragraph (the first version was posted at 13:27)

Iranian specialists have found a second virus named "Stars" in the country’s Internet network, commander of civil defense Gholam Reza Jalali said in an interview with the Mehr news agency.

He said the specialists are studying the virus and the results will be announced in the coming days.

Last year the "Stuxnet" virus hit the Iranian Bushehr nuclear plant’s computers leading to the suspension of the plant’s work.

The Symantec company, operating in California, said in its report dated July 2010 that the "Stuxnet" virus has hit many countries in the world. According to the company’s report, 60 percent of the virus that infected the world is in Iran’s Internet network.

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization former head Ali Akbar Salehi said the "Stuxnet" virus has not affected main computers of the plant, but it infected some personal notebooks. Despite this, commander of civil defense Gholam Reza Jalali accused Germany’s Siemens company of a virus attack on Iranian nuclear plants.

According to BBC, SCADA software is produced by Germany’s Siemens. The software is used at large and complex industrial enterprises, including Iran’s nuclear enterprises.
Experts believe that the "Stuxnet" virus is produced only for enterprises operating on SCADA software.

Commenting on the "Stars" virus, Jalali said that the new virus works in accordance with the system and it is unlikely to be disinfected at the initial stage. "The virus can be confused with some state agencies’ files, therefore, our specialists are analyzing the virus," Jalali said. Source

Flooding Forces 29,000 Colombians from Their Homes - 25th Apr 2011

BOGOTA – More than 29,100 people have been forced from their homes by the latest round of torrential rains blamed for 93 lives so far this year, the Colombian Red Cross said Saturday.

“The situation remains difficult” as rain continues to fall in 24 of Colombia’s 32 provinces, CRC official Cesar Urueña said.

Worst affected are people living in the basins of Colombia’s two most important rivers: the Magdalena and the Cauca, Urueña said by telephone from the field.

In La Dorada, a town on the Magdalena River in the western province of Caldas, 4,200 families have fled rising floodwaters, he said.

Another 1,700 families were evacuated in Puerto Boyaca, a town on the northern stretch of the Magdalena.

More than a thousand residents of three towns in the northwestern province of Antioquia – Puerto Berrio, Puerto Nare and Puerto Triunfo – were forced to abandon their homes when the level of the Magdalena rose after dam operators began releasing water from a rain-swollen reservoir near the southwestern city of Neiva.

Flooding and mudslides have also blocked portions of 26 provincial and national highways, Urueña said, warning of likely problems as people begin to return from Easter-week vacations. Read More

BREAKING NEWS: 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Selawesi, Indonesia - Damage reported - 24th Apr 2011


KENDARI, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) -- A strong earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on early Monday morning, seismologists said, causing some damage but no casualties.

The 6.0-magnitude earthquake at 7.07 a.m. local time (2307 GMT Sunday) was centered about 75 kilometers (46 miles) south-southeast of Kendari, the capital of South East Sulawesi province. It struck about 18 kilometers (11 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to Indonesia's Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

The United States Geological Survey (USGS), which measured the strength of the earthquake at 6.2 on the Richter scale, estimated that some 16,000 people may have felt 'severe' shaking that could potentially result in heavy damage. It estimated that some 369,000 others may have experienced 'strong' to 'very strong' shaking.

As of Monday afternoon, the Jakarta Globe reported that some houses had been damaged on Sulawesi. "There are houses [which have been] damaged. People are panicking and have rushed out from their houses," one local official was cited as saying by the newspaper.

There were no reports of casualties.

Indonesia is on the so-called 'Pacific Ring of Fire', an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region. Read More

Bahrain government accuses Hezbollah of aiding opposition groups -- is a giant Mideast war brewing?

The militant group Hezbollah is actively plotting with the opposition in Bahrain to overthrow the country's ruling family, the government said in a confidential report to the United Nations.

"Evidence confirms that Bahraini elements are being trained in Hezbollah camps specifically established to train assets from the Gulf," the report reads. Bahrain has long made claims that Iran and Hezbollah have sought to fuel instability in the nation.

In the report sent to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bahrain's government claims Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been training opposition figures at its camps in Lebanon and Iran, in an effort to destabilize the Khalifa monarchy. The report also says the militant group has trained militants for activities in neighboring Gulf countries, according to diplomats who have reviewed it.

The government report urges the United Nations to curb Iran and Hezbollah's interference in the country. (read more)

Shanghai Pudong Airport Stabbing, Only A “Laowai” (Foreigner) Helped -- while other chinese filmed: The Real China #7

23-year-old Wang X who had been studying abroad in Japan for 5 years arrived at the arrival terminal of Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on the night of April 1st and stabbed Gu X, his mother who had come to pick him up, consecutively 9 times, causing her to lose consciousness on the spot. Afterward, Wang X was arrested by police on criminal charges and it wasn’t until the 8th that Gu X was transferred from the intensive care unit to the general ward. As for the reason for the violence, Wang X says his mother had indicated that she would not give him money, “[she said] something like if I continued to ask for money, there would only be one result, and all of a sudden my mind went blank and I charged up to her and stabbed her”. However, Gu X denies that they had quarreled over tuition. (read more)

“Beef Extract” Additive Used To Change Pork Into “Beef”: The Real China #6

Recently, the Hefei department of industry and commerce discovered a “beef extract” additive circulating widely on the market, allowing for chicken meat to be come “beef”. A city resident revealed that this “beef extract” is not only used in the production of meat floss, it is also used a “public secret” in some small eateries, with government departments claiming that if this is true, they will investigate. Doctors say long-term use of additives can cause slow poisoning, deformity, and even cancer. (read more)

Condom found in swill-cooked oil intended for Chinese diners: The Real China #5

Unscrupulous businesses fish out stinking hogwash from urban sewages and gutters, and with filtrating, heating, subsiding, and dividing, gutter oil turns out the clear-looking “edible” oil and end up on tables of Chinese restaurants. Unknowing, Chinese consume three million tons of swill-cooked dirty oil each year.

As if consuming poisonous and carcinogenic oil were not gross enough, a condom was found in unprocessed swill oil by law enforcers in Fuqing city of southern Fujian province. Users of Sina Microblog commented on the news: “We are eating sperms every day! Sick!” (Picked from Strait City Daily)

Read China Daily’s report on swill oil. (read more)

Turning point in Syrian uprising: 5000 soldiers moving in for the kill



The Syrian government launched a major military operation Monday, sending thousands of troops into the town where the country's uprising began to carry out what witnesses described as a brutal, wider-scale crackdown.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 members of the Army and security forces raided the southern city of Daraa just after 4 a.m., equipped with seven tanks, and began shooting indiscriminately, shooting into homes as people slept, according to an activist with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Seven people were confirmed killed in the city, the activist said.

Other witnesses described a trail of dead bodies in the streets.

"Ambulances could not help the injured because of the snipers and army officers who are deployed all over the city," one witness in Daraa said. "They shoot on anything that moves."

The Syrian government, meanwhile, said 12 "martyrs" killed "by armed criminal groups" around the country -- including several near Daraa -- were buried. The government has been arguing that its security forces are cracking down on such groups wreaking havoc on the nation.

Fear and panic coursed through the city. (read more)

Death toll rises in Thai-Cambodian clashes

Violent clashes over a disputed area along the Thai-Cambodian border erupted for a fourth consecutive day Monday, resulting in the death of a Thai soldier, a military official said.

Four other Thai soldiers have been killed since the fighting started on Friday, according to Col. Sansern Kaewkumnerd.

Authorities have evacuated thousands of people from nearby villages.

Each side blames the other for the violence, which first broke out last week near two temples in the Phanom Dong Rak district of Thailand's Surin province.

Cambodia's government has said three of its troops have been killed.

On Monday, Sansern accused Cambodians of trying to seize two ancient temples, Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom.

The fighting on the ground has been coupled by a war of words in recent days. (read more)

Wikileaks: Many at Guantanamo 'not dangerous' -- even innocent

Files obtained by the website Wikileaks have revealed that the US believed many of those held at Guantanamo Bay were innocent or only low-level operatives.

The files, published in US and European newspapers, are assessments of all 780 people ever held at the facility.

They show that about 220 were classed as dangerous terrorists, but 150 were innocent Afghans and Pakistanis.

The Pentagon said the files' release could damage anti-terrorism efforts.

The latest documents have been published on Wikileaks,the Guardian, the New York Times and in other newspapers, although it was not clear whether the papers had co-operated with Wikileaks in their release. The Times said they received the files through "another source".

The Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) also give details of alleged plots, revealed under interrogation, against US and European targets.

They included unverified claims that al-Qaeda had hidden a nuclear weapon in Europe for detonation should Osama Bin laden be captured.

Other alleged plots include plans to put cyanide into the air conditioning systems of US public buildings and attempts by al-Qaeda to recruit workers at London's Heathrow Airport.

But the files give little information on the allegations of harsh treatment and interrogation techniques at the camp.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Washington says many of the details have been heard before in various forms, but never from an official US source. (read more)