Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cynthina Freeman victim of Police Brutality at Atlanta IHOP -- but the bigger question: why did 50 people watch just 2 cops manhandle a woman?

Mainstream news video:



Video taken from the very table the incident occurred at:



An off-duty Atlanta police officer got into a scuffle with a woman and punched her in the face, and the early morning incident at an IHOP was captured on video, the Atlanta Police Department confirmed.

The woman, Cynthia Freeman, was among four arrested in the 4 a.m. Sunday incident, according to Atlanta attorney Bobby Aniekwu. He told the AJC he is representing three of the women in what he considers a case of "excessive force."

Freeman was charged with obstruction of justice, criminal trespass and simple battery, Aniekwu said. She is recovering from her injuries and weighing her legal options, he said.

"I have not received a copy of the police report, we have to review all those things," he said. "As I sit here today, there's a great likelihood we will start some litigation."

It was not clear what started the melee, but the incident started as a conflict between the officer, working a second job at the Buckhead restaurant, and another woman with the one who was hit.

According to several videos posted on YouTube.com, the officer, whose name was not known, shouted at a woman sitting in the corner of a booth near the door and then he lunged at her. A woman wearing a black dress appeared to be trying to separate the officer and her friend when the officer slapped her. The woman in the black dress hit him back, and he punched her in the face.

A second officer came up just as the struggle began. He got involved when it became physical between the first cop and the woman in the black dress, apparently trying to separate them. The first officer pulled the woman in a black dress away from the table, threw her onto the floor and laid on top of her while trying to get handcuffs on one wrist. The second wrist was cuffed when she turned over on her stomach.

Within moments, a female officer appeared to hold back the crowd while the woman in the black dress, shoeless, was led out of the restaurant. (read more)

Sword fight at NYC Sikh Temple -- is society falling apart?


In a turf dispute within a group of warring New York City religious factions turned into a out of control sword fight this weekend. Prayer services Sunday at the Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center in Queens were interrupted by a pack of men brandishing swords and cricket bats.

The interlopers charged in threw punches and issued death threats. One of the assailants lunged at the crowd and was waving a stick. The faith based intramural war is apparently over whether to open membership rolls at the temple.

Seven people were arraigned in court Monday and at least one police officer was hurt in the mêlée. A number of the sword fight participants were charged with disrupting a religious service. Temple President Jarnail Singh , “We tried to open membership, and a group didn’t want it,” in an understatement , “They want to fight it.” (Source)

Eight horses burned to death in barn fire in apparent anti-gay hate crime attack in Ohio

Eight horses - one just a week old and another ready to give birth - died in a raging barn fire in Ohio that lawmen think was set because of hatred for gays.

Brent Whitehouse of McConnelsville said an orange glow outside his home on Easter night drew him to the horror.

"I ran out there, but the doors of my barn wouldn't open and suddenly, flames were shooting up through the roof. That barn was gone in five minutes," he told the Zanesville Times Recorder.

The flames were so hot a tractor inside the barn melted.

Still visible on the remains of the gutted barn's walls Tuesday were spray-painted epithets such as "f-gs are freaks" and "burn in hell," the newspaper reported.

Because Whitehouse is gay and fire marshals determined the blaze was arson, the scrawlings were enough for authorities to launch an investigation into whether a hate crime had been committed.

The value of the horses was said to be in hundreds of thousands of dollars but Whitehouse, who owns an insurance company in the tiny village in southeastern Ohio, was hurt far more by the loss of Elvis, Barney, Love, Bella and Ethel, Floyd and Princess and her week-old foal, Buddy.

"The barn I can rebuild, but the bond I had with those horses can't be replaced," said Whitehouse

"Whoever did this had to walk right by all those horses, including the baby, and didn't care that they were killing a gentle, loving animal," he told the newspaper.

"I just don't understand someone wanting to kill innocent animals. It's like killing a child." (read more)

Syria to Join U.N.'s Human Rights Council, Despite Reports of Brutality Toward Civilians

The brutal crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad may finally be getting the attention of world leaders -- but apparently not enough to stop Syria from becoming the newest member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

And despite calling for an independent investigation into the crackdown, which has left hundreds dead, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apparently won’t do much about blocking Syria’s path to the human rights group.

"That's not really for the secretary general to suggest to a member state," said Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for the secretary-general, when asked if the U.N. chief would ask Syria to drop out of the running for the post. When asked if Ban had brought up the point during his telephone conversation April 9 with Assad, Nesirsky told Fox News, "that's not really something the secretary general would raise specifically, because it's for other member states to decide on the membership of the Human Rights Council." (read more)

France and Italy in call to close EU borders in wake of Arab protests

France and Italy have thrown down the gauntlet over Europe's system of passport-free travel, saying a crisis of immigration sparked by the Arab spring was calling into question the borderless regime enjoyed by more than 400 million people in 25 countries.

Challenging one of the biggest achievements of European integration of recent decades, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi also launched a joint effort to stem immigration and demanded European deportation pacts with the countries of revolutionary north Africa to send new arrivals packing.

The French president and the Italian prime minister, at a summit in Rome, opted to pile the pressure on Brussels and the governments of the other 25 EU states, demanding an "in-depth revision" of European law regulating the passport-free travel that takes in almost all of the EU with the exception of Britain and Ireland.

Prompted by the influx to Italy of almost 30,000 immigrants, mainly from Tunisia, in recent months, the two leaders warned that the upheavals in north Africa "could swiftly become an out-and-out crisis capable of undermining the trust our fellow citizens place in the free circulation within the Schengen area".

The passport-free travel system known as the Schengen regime was agreed by a handful of countries in 1985 and put into practice in 1995. Since then it has been embraced by 22 EU countries as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, but spurned by Britain and Ireland. It is widely seen, along with the euro single currency, as Europe's signature unification project of recent decades.

But like the euro, fighting its biggest crisis over the past year, the Schengen regime is being tested amid mounting populism and the renationalisation of politics across the EU. (read more)

US Banks Warn Obama on Soaring Debt

A group of the largest US banks and fund managers stepped up the pressure on Congress and the Obama administration to reach a deal to increase the country’s debt limit, saying that even a short default could be devastating for the financial markets and economy.

The warning over the debt limit is the strongest yet to come from Wall Street, highlighting growing nervousness among investors about the US political system’s ability to forge a consensus on fiscal policy.

The most pressing budgetary issue confronting Congress and the Obama administration is the need to raise the US debt ceiling, which stands at $14,300 billion.

That threshold will be reached by May 16 and the Treasury department has said that in the absence of congressional action, the world’s largest economy could default by early July.

Although such a scenario is still likely to be avoided, the looming deadline is stoking concerns within the financial industry.

“Any delay in making an interest or principal payment by Treasury even for a very short period of time would put the US Treasury and overall financial markets in uncharted territory and could trigger another catastrophic financial crisis,” said Matthew Zames, a JPMorgan executive, in a letter to Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, this week. (read more)

Affluent Kings Point, NY, Plans Extensive Surveillance Network -- Police State expanding?

If you visit Kings Point, big brother will be watching.

The affluent community is hoping to prevent crime by going high-tech — by setting up a sophisticated network to screen every vehicle that goes in or out of town.

Kings Point is one of the wealthiest villages on the North Shore, and residents want to keep it that way with the latest security.

“I think it’s great,” one resident told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

To protect its 3.3 square miles, Kings Point plans to install 44 cameras and license plate readers at each of the 19 points of entry. The devices will take pictures of every vehicle and license plate and compare them to data bases.

“It will alert us to suspended registrations, felonies, stolen cars, order of protection, sex offenders, things like that,” Kings Point Police Commissioner Jack Miller said.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs: It May Become The Most Extensive Municipal Surveillance System In The United States (read more)

PlayStation data theft hits 77m gamers -- giant centralized data networks become increasingly unsafe

Sony has warned users of its PlayStation Network that their personal information, including credit card details, may have been stolen.

The company said that the data might have fallen into the hands of an "unauthorised person" following a hacking attack on its online service.

Access to the network was suspended last Wednesday, but Sony has only now revealed details of what happened.

Users are being warned to look out for attempted telephone and e-mail scams.

In a statement posted on the official PlayStation blog, Nick Caplin, the company's head of communications for Europe, said: "We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network".

The blog posting lists the personal information that Sony believes has been taken.

  • Name
  • Address (city, state/province, zip or postal code)
  • Country
  • E-mail address
  • Date of birth
  • PlayStation Network/Qriocity passwords and login
  • Handle/PSN online ID

Mr Caplin added: "It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. (read more)

Voodoo Economics: Policy Responses to the Global Financial Crisis

The late twentieth century, US President Ronald Reagan discovered voodoo economics. In framing policy responses to the global financial crisis, central bankers and governments have increasingly embraced more exotic forms of voodoo.

Since the early twentieth century, economics has been preoccupied with the business cycle. Economists, from John Maynard Keynes to Milton Friedman, have developed theories to explain boom-bust cycles. Most importantly, they sought to develop tools to manage these cycles, fostering progress and the creation of wealth whilst reducing the disruption and high cost of periodic crises.

Despite complex doctrinal differences, Keynes’ and Friedman’s followers believe that the correct policy measures allow a high degree of control over economies. During Le Belle Epoque from the late 1980s to around 2007, economists and policy makers luxuriated in the belief that most major problems of economics and management of economies were well understood, if not entirely predictable and controllable. The global financial crisis exposed significant problems in the state of human economic knowledge and also the ability to control events. (read more)

How the Fed Could Kill the U.S. Dollar Tomorrow

Months or years from now, when analysts are studying the death of the U.S. dollar, they'll look back and see that the greenback's demise began on a specific day - Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

As in ... tomorrow.

At 12:15 p.m. tomorrow, at the conclusion of a two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, we'll find out whether U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his policymaking posse opted for a sharp increase in U.S. interest rates - which appears to me to be the only solution to a looming third-quarter crunch.

Unfortunately, I don't think that Bernanke & Co. will make the needed move.

And without that sharp rate increase tomorrow, investors can look forward to rampant inflation, an evisceration of the U.S. Treasury bond market and - in a worst-case scenario - the death of the dollar.

Let me show you why....

It's Time to Worry About the Death of the Dollar
For the last two years, the U.S. economy has been supported by the twin catalysts of fiscal and monetary stimuli.

Fiscal stimulus seems likely to continue for some time yet - even the most avid Tea Party budget cutters don't see their way to cutting more than $100 billion or so off this year's $1.6 trillion deficit.

But monetary stimulus is another matter.

The Fed's so-called "QE2" (quantitative easing/second round) purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds are supposed to come to a sharp end on June 30. That makes July a crucial month - for the American economy, for the country's bond markets and, most of all, for the performance of the dollar.

These crucial monetary-policy issues will be reviewed at the two-day policymaking FOMC meeting that begins today (Tuesday) and concludes tomorrow. Policymakers are expected to leave the benchmark Federal Funds target rate in its current range of 0.00% to 0.25%.

If Bernanke wants to devise a "QE3" to follow his QE2, he needs to do it now: The next FOMC meeting is in late June, which is far too close to the expiration of QE2. (read more)

Is Obama birth certificate a fake? -- Timing and specifics of released document show strange characteristics; investigation pending

URGENT UPDATE: New evidence has surfaced that suggests Obama's long form birth certificate is indeed a forgery, or has at least been tampered with or manufactured. Please click here for the disturbing news -- and for all those who still care, please pass this on to everyone.

This morning’s White House release of President Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate will, of course, do little to derail the “birther” movement, which will now analyze the document with the kind of verve previously directed toward those Texas Air National Guard memos faxed to CBS from that Kinko’s in Abilene.

So here’s a few nutty points about the birth certificate sure to be seized upon by the nonbelievers:

• If the original document was in a bound volume (as reflected by the curvature of the left hand side of the certificate), how can the green patterned background of the document's safety paper be so seamless?

• Why, if Obama was born on August 4, 1961, was the “Date Accepted by Local Reg.” four days later on August 8, 1961?

• What is the significance of the smudges in the box containing the name of the reported attendant?

• David A. Sinclair, the M.D. who purportedly signed the document, died nearly eight years ago at age 81. So he is conveniently unavailable to answer questions about Obama’s reported birth.

• In the “This Birth” box there are two mysterious Xs above “Twin” and “Triplet.” Is there a sibling or two unaccounted for?

• What is the significance of the mysterious numbers, seen vertically, on the document’s right side?

• Finally, the “Signature of Local Registrar” in box 21 may be a desperate attempt at establishing the document’s Hawaiian authenticity. Note to forgers: It is spelled “Ukulele.” (Source)

Post update: After some initial additional research, The Coming Crisis has concluded that there is a significant chance that this birth certificate may indeed have been forged or created, and is now conducting its own investigation. We will post up an update with our findings should any arise. Anyone with additional information should get in touch with us.

Simon Ledger, pub singer, arrested for singing "Kung Fu Fighting" -- simply because two Chinese were in the audience: political correctness gone mad?

A PUB singer was arrested for alleged "racism" after belting out the chart hit Kung Fu Fighting as two Chinese people walked past.

One of them complained to cops, who later nicked stunned Simon Ledger - in a Chinese restaurant.

Simon, 34, often performs the song in Sandown, Isle of Wight. He said: "I hadn't even seen these two."

Now he fears he could get a criminal record.

Cops sprang into action and arrested Simon despite the fact that he regularly features the 1974 No1 in his act at a seaside pub.

Simon, who has performed on TV with Michael Barrymore, was doing a spot with a pal at the town's Driftwood Beach Bar on Sunday afternoon.

All went well until he began the Carl Douglas disco classic, with its famous Chinese-sounding riff.

Simon said: "We were performing Kung Fu Fighting, as we do during all our sets. People of all races were loving it. Chinese people have never been offended by it before.

"But this lad walking past with his mum called us w*****s and did the hand sign before taking a picture on his mobile phone.

"We hadn't even seen them when we started the song. He must have phoned the police.

"They phoned me when I was in a Chinese restaurant that night. They arranged to meet me and I was arrested." (read more)

David Tepper, New York Billionaire, buys Hamptons mansion for $43.5million... then tears it down because it's not "big enough" --how many are jobless?

Set on more than six acres of oceanfront land, with palatial rooms, huge marble bathrooms, a tennis court and a swimming pool, this Hamptons mansion is a holiday home fit for any king.

But not for a hedge fund manager, apparently.

New York billionaire David Tepper, who took home more than $4billion in 2009, wanted something a bit bigger.

So he bought the 6,165sq-ft property for $43.5m last year in order to knock it down and rebuild in its place a mansion twice the size.

The home was bought from Joanne Dougherty, the former wife of Jon Corzine, once a Senator, Governor and Mayor of New Jersey.

Meanwhile, a grand East Side townhouse in New York has sold for $47million - as the US housing index announced that house prices have fallen for the eighth month in a row in February and are nearing lows reached in 2009 during the recession.

Tepper bought the Hamptons property, which rents for $900,000 each summer season, last year but authorities have now approved its demolition and the construction of a new 11,268sq-ft property.

Architect Jaquelin Robertson told officials the new home will be a cedar-shingled two-story Georgian Colonial-style home.

It will come with a sunken tennis court, a three car garage and second floor decks featuring a jacuzzi and covered porch.

The new property will also offer views of the ocean from the first floor that were previously blocked by sand dunes. (read more)



Saboteurs bomb Egypt gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan

Saboteurs bombed an Egyptian gas pipeline in the Sinai on Wednesday, sending flames shooting into the sky and cutting supplies to Israel and Jordan.

It was the second attack since February and came two weeks after Egypt's new government decided to review all contracts to supply gas abroad, including to neighbours Israel and Jordan, amid corruption probes.

Officials said the attack took place at dawn near Al-Sabil village in the El-Arish region.

On March 27, exactly a month earlier, six armed men stormed the gas terminal in the northern Sinai town and placed explosive devices which failed to explode.

Wednesday's bomb was activated remotely, a security official told AFP, while the state-run MENA news agency reported flames as high as 20 metres (65 feet) shooting from the ruptured pipeline.

MENA said armed forces rushed to the scene and quoted locals as saying they heard a "huge" explosion followed by a massive fireball.

There were no reports of casualties.

Several hours later, Gasco, the company responsible for the pipeline, said the fire had been brought under control.

MENA quoted Gasco president Majdi Tewfik as saying a technical committee was tasked with evaluating the damage. (read more)

S&P downgrades Japan's outlook to 'negative'

Standard & Poor's has revised Japan's credit rating outlook to "negative," blaming the crisis triggered by last month's earthquake.

S&P said late Tuesday that its revision to the nation's outlook, to "negative" from "stable," reflects the possibility of a downgrade, as Japan grapples with the specter of increased deficits in the wake of a deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster.

"Standard & Poor's expects costs related to the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster will increase Japan's fiscal deficits above prior estimates by a cumulative 3.7% of GDP through 2013," said the rating agency.

The rating agency also said its revision to the outlook was "to reflect the potential for a downgrade if fiscal deterioration materially exceeds these estimates in the absence of greater fiscal consolidation." (read more)

SETI project comes to end due to money woes

In the mountains of Northern California, a field of radio dishes that look like giant dinner plates waited for years for the first call from intelligent life among the stars.

But they're not listening anymore.

Cash-strapped governments, it seems, can no longer pay the interstellar phone bill.

Astronomers at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., said a steep drop in state and federal funds has forced the shutdown of the Allen Telescope Array, a powerful tool in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, an effort scientists refer to as "SETI."

The 42 radio dishes had scanned deep space since 2007 for signals from alien civilizations while also conducting hard scientific research into the structure and origin of the universe.

SETI chief executive Tom Pierson said in an email to donors last week that the University of California, Berkeley, had run out of money for day-to-day operation of the dishes.

"Unfortunately, today's government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found," Pierson wrote. (read more)

Japanese now threatened by asbestos

Japan's earthquake and tsunami has caused a health risk overshadowed by contamination from a leaking nuclear plant: the odourless and nearly invisible threat of asbestos.

Activists have found the cancer-causing, fibrous material in the air and debris collected from the devastated northeastern coast.

Levels in the air remain within Japan's safety range but are expected to rise significantly once cranes and cleanup crews begin their work in earnest, scraping and shaking loose the minuscule, white fibres from insulation and fireproofing layers.

Local officials are overwhelmed by the aftermath of Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami, including the swamped nuclear reactor that has leaked radiation as engineers struggle to restore its cooling systems. (read more)

Food inflation simmering in South Africa -- riots to come?

Food inflation in South Africa could be heading for 15 percent over the next year, Andre Louw, a professor of agribusiness at the University of Pretoria, said yesterday.

The sharp escalation is in line with global trends. The World Bank reported last week that global food inflation remained high at 36 percent year on year in March, compared with 37 percent in February.

Food inflation locally was 3.5 percent in February and, tomorrow, Statistics SA will provide an update for last month.

Louw said South Africa was exposed to global conditions because many crucial commodities, such as wheat, were imported. He cited in addition the “triple impact” of domestic cost push factors – rising electricity costs, higher fuel prices and looming toll road charges.

Electricity prices will rise nearly 26 percent in July.

The price of 95 octane unleaded petrol, which rose 54c this month to R9.96 a litre in Gauteng, is 16 percent higher than a year ago and likely to increase further as oil prices remain at elevated levels.

And vehicles transporting agricultural inputs and food will soon have to pay up to 66c a kilometre for using Gauteng highways. Mike Schussler, the chief economist at Economists.co.za, estimates that the planned toll road charges could push the price of milk from R7 to R10 a litre.

Food has a weighting of more than 14 percent in the consumer price index (CPI), electricity 1.87 percent and petrol nearly 4 percent. So increases in these components will have a significant effect on overall inflation, which was 3.7 percent in February. (read more)

More dead animals in the Gulf, April update (Reader contributed)






Contributor notes on the above photos:

-- The sick opossum had wandered out into the water for unknown purposes
-- The pink puffer exhibits signs of hemorrhaging consistent with Corexit side effects on both animals and people

Endangered sea turtles dying in high numbers along Mississippi Gulf shore (Reader contributed)

The BP spill hasn't been the environmental nightmare many thought, but it's still a nightmare in terms of the impact on locals trying to recover.

Local turtle activists Donald and Shirley Tillman say they have discovered 19 dead sea turtles in Mississippi in the month of April alone and suspect they are dying due to the effects of the BP oil spill. Endangered sea turtles and dolphins are still dying in high numbers in Mississippi, which continues to be impacted by tar balls and weathered oil. There have been 67 reported sea turtle deaths through April 11. April 20th marks the one-year anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. (Read and see more)

The Mountain from Torge Sorgjerd: Why the Earth is worth fighting for (Reader contributed)

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

(The contributor, Wit's End, pointed out that the trees are thin, and much of the plant life is either dead or drying out, or stunted or exhibiting other signs of stress or decline. Food for thought, and a good excuse for always keeping a keen eye on the world around you.)

The lowdown on topsoil: It's disappearing

The planet is getting skinned.

While many worry about the potential consequences of atmospheric warming, a few experts are trying to call attention to another global crisis quietly taking place under our feet.

Call it the thin brown line. Dirt. On average, the planet is covered with little more than 3 feet of topsoil -- the shallow skin of nutrient-rich matter that sustains most of our food and appears to play a critical role in supporting life on Earth.

"We're losing more and more of it every day," said David Montgomery, a geologist at the University of Washington. "The estimate is that we are now losing about 1 percent of our topsoil every year to erosion, most of this caused by agriculture."

"It's just crazy," fumed John Aeschliman, a fifth-generation farmer who grows wheat and other grains on the Palouse near the tiny town of Almota, just west of Pullman.

"We're tearing up the soil and watching tons of it wash away every year," Aeschliman said. He's one of a growing number of farmers trying to persuade others to adopt "no-till" methods, which involve not tilling the land between plantings, leaving crop stubble to reduce erosion and planting new seeds between the stubble rows. (read more)

Obama Releases Full Birth Certificate - 27th Apr 2011

US President Barack Obama has posted his full birth certificate on the internet, in an effort to finally kill speculation he was born abroad.

The issue of the leader's origins had become increasingly prominent, with recent opinion polls indicating one in four Americans believed he was born in another country.

Released on the White House website, the form says Barack Hussein Obama II was born at 7.24pm on August 4 1961, at Kapiolani Hospital, within the city limits of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Only 'natural born' citizens can become president according to a vague clause in the US constitution, which members of the so-called 'birther' movement contend disqualifies Obama.

Skeptics also suggested Obama was born in his father's home country of Kenya.

And potential election rival, Republican businessman Donald Trump, had repeatedly questioned whether the president was born in the US.

Obama's campaign team failed to put the matter to bed in 2008 when releasing the standard 'short form' birth certificate issued upon request from the state of Hawaii.

But the president said officials in Hawaii had been persuaded to make an exception and release the full, 'long form' version of the documents because the debate had become a sideshow.

More follows... Source

Syria Protests Crackdown Leaves '453 Dead' - 27th Apr 2011

A Syrian human rights group says at least 453 people have been killed in the crackdown on anti-government protests, as the army tightens its grip on the centre of a month-long uprising.

Witnesses reported the army was reinforcing its troops in the southern city of Deraa, where the demonstrations began in mid-March, with extra tanks and troops.

Mustafa Osso, a human rights activist in the capital Damascus, cited residents of Deraa as saying the extra troops arrived early on Wednesday from military bases in the area.

Tanks were also seen moving towards the Damascus suburb of Douma, which has also seen protests against the rule of President Bashar al Assad.

A witness told Reuters that at least 30 tanks were seen on the Damascus circular highway from the southwest of the capital near the Golan Heights frontier with Israel.

The Syrian Human Rights Observatory said it had collected the names of 453 civilians killed during the six weeks of protests against the regime.

"The names we have are from Deraa, Damascus, rural Damascus and the coast," Observatory director Rami Abdelrahman said.

The reports are impossible to confirm as the Syrian gocvernment is not allowing journalists into the country. Read More

Moriah hit by massive Lake Champlain fish kill - 26th Apr 2011

MORIAH — If it weren't for the dead fish clean-up effort under way now, public campgrounds in Moriah and Port Henry might not be opening this year.

A record number of a non-native fish called alewives washed ashore this spring at both facilities, including public beaches.

"It would have affected the opening of our campgrounds," Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said. "Also, any smell from the Port Henry Beach wafts back into the village. It would start stinking as soon as the weather got warmer."

MONEY SAVED

The little fish are being raked up in droves this week.

"We've had thousands of the alewives washed up on our beaches," Scozzafava said. "We spent last week trying to find some help getting rid of these dead fish before they start smelling."

The help came in the form of two large roll-off trash containers supplied by Serkil LLC, and inmate work crews from Moriah State Shock Incarceration Facility.

Serkil, the company under contract to operate the Essex County Transfer Station in Lewis, trucks the county's solid-waste to the Franklin County Regional Landfill after it's deposited at the Lewis site.

"We're going to have to fill them (the bins)," Scozzafava said. "Serkil will take care of the landfilling. It saved our community a lot of money. This could have been super expensive. Our appreciation and the community's appreciation goes to Serkil." Read More

Nuclear Event: Officials Investigating Perry Nuclear Power Plant Incident after Higher-than-Usual Levels of Radiation are Detected - 27th Apr 2011

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials are conducting an investigation after workers at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant made a mistake that exposed them to higher-than-usual levels of radiation.

Plant spokesman Todd Schneider said the incident happened on Friday when four contracted workers were doing refuelling work on a reactor in the plant’s containment building.

The workers were removing a part from under the reactor but did not use the proper length of cable to pull the equipment out.

As a result, the piece did not go into a protective covering as it would have had they used the proper cable, Schneider said.

While in the vicinity of the exposed equipment, the workers’ radiation monitors began to sound. They immediately left the area to avoid further contamination.

Schneider said that although the radiation levels were higher than usual, they were not dangerous.

“The highest level in any of the workers was equivalent to getting about three X-rays,” he said.

The incident also does not pose a health risk to the public since it happened in the plant’s containment building, Schneider said.

On Tuesday, officials worked to replace the equipment as the NRC began its investigation.

According to Schneider, the plant is conducting its own investigation into the incident as well. Source

Ecuador raises alert as Tungurahua volcano spews ash - 27th Apr 2011

Ecuador has declared an amber alert after the Tungurahua volcano started spewing ash again.

A plume more than 7km (4.3 miles) high could be seen emerging from the volcano in central Ecuador.

The authorities evacuated residents living near the volcano's rim and ordered local schools to close.

The Tungurahua has erupted periodically over the past 12 years, but this is its first significant activity this year.

Monitors said they detected six eruptions, ranging from moderate to large.

"According to our observations, damages to crops, pastures and small effects to the health of people are already evident," the Ecuadorean geophysics institute said. Source

Problem neighbours: The galaxies that are so close, they play havoc with each other's structure - 25th Apr 2011

These two neighbouring spiral galaxies were discovered by the English astronomer William Herschel in 1783.

More than 700million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Sextans, NGC 3169 and NGC 3166 sit extremely close together.

Now scientists at the European Space Observatory have gauged the distance between them as a mere 50,000 light-years.

While this might seem a huge distance, it is equal to just half the diametre of our own Milky Way.

In comparison, the nearest spiral galaxy of the Milky Way is Andromeda, which sits 2.5million light-years away.

And, in such tight quarters, gravity can start to play havoc with galactic structure.

Spiral galaxies tend to have orderly swirls of stars and dust rotating about their glowing centres. Read More

Trevonne Winn, 24, Executed on Camera in New York on Body-A-Week Avenue - 27th Apr 2011

A cold-blooded murder on a New York street was caught in graphic detail on a video from a nearby surveillance camera.

Trevonne Winn, 24, was gunned down as he stood outside his uncle's fast food restaurant in Brooklyn.

CCTV footage shows Mr Winn speaking into his mobile phone outside the Crown Fried Chicken shop when a black-clad man walks calmly over, pulls a pistol and shoots him twice.

As Mr Winn collapses and lies twitching on the ground, his attacker flees the scene and witnesses rush from local shops to see what is happening.

Despite Mr Winn's desperate efforts to get back on his feet, he is soon slumped on the pavement, immobile and apparently dying.

Soon a crowd surrounds the injured man as he lies bleeding to death on the pavement.

Seemingly unsure of what to do, or perhaps frightened the gunman might return, bystanders look around warily for several minutes before one approaches Mr Winn to see if he is still alive.

Shakeem Muhammad, a Flatbush resident who has since spoken to Mr Winn's family, told NYDailyNews.com the shooting was probably a case of mistaken identity. Read More

Mother Jailed for just 18 Months after Abusing Ten Children in same area as Baby P Scandal - 27th Apr 2011

A mother who abused 10 children in Haringey - the London borough where the Baby P and Victoria Climbié scandals happened - has been jailed for 18 months.

Police, who were tipped of by a member of the public, discovered the children starving, smelly, crawling with head lice and covered in dirt.

When they entered the property they discovered rotten food and a cockroach infestation.

Officers had been alerted by a member of the public who was concerned about the children’s condition and the adult nature of their conversations.

The situation was so bad that when a foster carer fed one of the children she pressed the milk bottle hard against her mouth, leaving a red mark.

The skin beneath her nappy was red-raw.

The abuse happened over four years, from 2005 to 2009. It will prompt renewed concerns about child protection standards in Haringey, where 17-month-old Peter Connelly — Baby P — died at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and her lodger in 2007, despite 60 visits by social services, police and health professionals.

Haringey was also the borough where eight-year-old Victoria Climbié died in 2000 after being beaten and starved by her aunt and the aunt’s boyfriend, who were jailed for life in 2001 for her murder.

There were 128 injuries on her body. Read More

Three Blunkett bobbies to watch a young tearaway on a day out fishing... but what about catching CRIMINALS? - 27th Apr 2011

Enjoying the sunshine, three police officers perch next to a lake while they supervise a teenager on a fishing trip.

Two of the officers seem more interested in checking their mobile phones and chatting than keeping an eye on the bored-looking tearaway.

Police say the publicly funded expedition was organised to help officers bond with the community and ‘get young people involved in positive activities’.

But this image, captured by a passer-by, has provoked outrage as the same force prepares to make £36million of cuts and close six police stations.

Cash-strapped Hertfordshire Police found the resources to send three police community support officers – nicknamed Blunkett bobbies after the Labour home secretary who introduced them – on the jaunt to a lake in Hemel Hempstead.

But while the PCSOs seemed to be having a good day, the teenager looked uninterested as the fishing rod sat on a stand by his side.

Last night one resident said: ‘Shouldn’t they be out catching criminals rather than fish?’

They also questioned whether officers should be enjoying a day out while crime figures in the area rose. Read More

Tracy St Clair Pearce Received death threats by gang of travellers dials 999... and police turn up to confiscate her shotguns - 27th Apr 2011

Having confronted travellers cutting down trees on her farm, terminally-ill Tracy St Clair Pearce found herself subjected to a terrifying ordeal.

Some of the group pelted her with rocks while a youth threatened to slit her throat and slaughter her cattle.

When she dialled 999 she expected the full weight of the law to be on her side.

Instead, however, police officers criticised her for inflaming the situation and confiscated her legally held shotguns – even though they had been locked away in a cabinet at home throughout the incident.

Yesterday, the 50-year-old accused police of causing her ‘harassment and distress’ when she should have been given protection.

‘I’ve been treated like a criminal,’ said Miss St Clair Pearce, who has been given months to live after breast cancer spread to her spine.

The incident blew up after around 18 caravans set up camp illegally in a field owned by Colchester Council last Thursday.

Miss St Clair Pearce, who lives on the adjoining Seven Saints Rare Breeds farm with her brother, Stuart, had a good-natured conversation with one traveller who assured her they would be no trouble and would move on within a couple of days.

But at 7pm on Good Friday she was spraying weeds on the 34-acre farm, where she has ten rare Shetland cattle and three horses, when she heard a chainsaw and found four boys felling trees for firewood.

‘I started shouting “Get out” but they just stood there in my field,’ she said. ‘I said I would spray them with the weed killer and one in a red T-shirt, who was about 14, went ballistic. The language coming out of his mouth was unbelievable. Read More

Matt Cranch, 24, had only been a human cannonball for one week after ditching 'mainstream' middle-class life - 27th Apr 2011

The human cannonball who died after he was fired 40ft into the air in front of hundreds of horrified children had been a stuntman for only a week.

Matt Cranch, 24, hit the ground head first as the net meant to break his fall collapsed.

Yesterday friends said Mr Cranch was a ‘thrill-seeker’ who opted out of his promising academic career and his conventional middle-class upbringing.

He was the son of company director Michael Cranch, 66, and his wife Pauline, a 62-year-old teacher, and grew up in Onchan on the Isle of Man.

Mr Cranch’s best friend said yesterday that he had set his heart on leading a life of danger.

Sam Waugh, 24, a bookmaker from Douglas, Isle of Man, said he was Mr Cranch’s best friend at Onchan Primary School and St Ninian’s High School.

‘He was clever at school particularly science but he hated the mainstream,’ he said. ‘He opted out. He was not interested in going into the sixth form or going to university.

‘He went through a phase when he had long hair and dreadlocks. He became obsessed with a PlayStation game called Stuntman.

‘When we were young if there was anything dangerous he was there. He would climb highest up the tree. He seemed to love the adrenaline.’

Another schoolfriend, trainee engineer Marc Caulfield, 23, said: ‘He was a thrill-seeker who was always up for a laugh.

‘He was into skateboarding and BMX riding and he would try to do the most daring stunts.’

The tragedy happened at the County Showground in Detling, Kent, on Easter Monday in front of a crowd of spectators.

The safety net that failed to break Mr Cranch’s fall was intended to collapse – but only after it had caught the stuntman.

A description from Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show’s website said: ‘The stunt performer climbs the ladder and slides down to the deep dark depths of the gigantic barrel.

‘Once in position they signal to the crew that they are ready and then remain braced for the explosive propulsion to shoot them out into the fresh air. They then have to turn whilst in flight and land in the safety net.

‘Within a few seconds of landing the performer must get down from the safety net before the poles holding the net in position crash to the ground.’

But witnesses said the net collapsed before the impact. Read More

Mail Bomb Plot: Police Find Fifth Package - 27th Apr 2011

Police investigating parcel bombs sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two high-profile supporters of the club have intercepted a fifth suspect package.

The parcel, believed to be a nail bomb, was discovered at a letter return centre in Belfast.

It was revealed last week that packages had been sent to Mr Lennon and two prominent fans

Strathclyde Police previously said those devices, which contained a combination of nails and explosives, were designed to cause "real harm".

Chief Superintendent Ruaraidh Nicolson said: "We'd like to stress that there is still no intelligence to suggest that these packages pose a threat to the wider public and we would urge people to remain calm."

The item, found on April 12, had been returned undelivered from an address in Scotland.

Police are not saying who the package was addressed to, but it ended up at the National Return Letter Centre in Belfast, where undelivered mail with no return sender address is held by Royal Mail.

It is understood the package did not originate in Northern Ireland and had no links to the region.

Mr Lennon said last week he was "baffled" to have been targeted. Read More