Tuesday, May 3, 2011

UK will 'utterly destroy' North Sea industry

Oil and gas leaders will on Wednesday make a last-ditch effort to persuade the Government to abandon a £10bn tax grab on North Sea energy companies, amid warnings the levy will "utterly destroy" the industry.

Chief executives are expected to tell the energy select committee that the tax will close down fields early and mean the majors find it difficult to sell older fields to new owners.

Meanwhile, Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, will have to defend the impact the tax is likely to have on oil and gas production at a time when Britain needs to bolster its energy security.

The hearing comes three days after Centrica warned it may partially shut the UK's biggest gas field as a result of the tax. The move has recently been criticised by John Whiting, head of the Office for Tax Simplification, Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, and numerous industry figures.

On Tuesday, Bill Transier, chief executive of Endeavour International, a major investor in the North Sea, said British governments had made doing business in the UK "more of a political risk than West Africa or the Middle East", after making four major tax changes within seven years.

"The North Sea is the second-largest oil-producing region in the world after Saudi Arabia. It's a national treasure for the UK. The government is utterly destroying that," he told The Daily Telegraph. "I wish people would step up and say you just can't do this. You're killing the industry. Capital is leaving the country and going elsewhere. The politicians seem to be ignorant of the facts and then they do something stupid as a political mechanism to offset a fuel tax. It's a critical time in the future of the North Sea and some of these reserves are going to be lost forever. They need to eat some humble pie and say they made a mistake." (read more)

Osama Bin Laden photo may not be released by White House: It's "too gruesome" -- are they for real?

David Cameron says al-Qaeda leader "must have had an extensive support network in Pakistan" in Commons statement. The White House is facing calls to release images of the al-Qaeda chief to prove that he is dead.

One of Barack Obama's most senior advisers said that a photograph of Osama bin Laden's corpse would be released. Leon Panetta, the outgoing director of the CIA, said he did not believe there was "any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public".

Mr Panetta, who will shortly move jobs to become the US Secretary of Defence, was asked in an interview with NBC if the pictures taken after bin Laden's assassination were too "gruesome" for publication, given the risk of inflaming those sympathetic to the late al Qaeda leader.

"There were concerns and there were questions that had to be debated about just exactly question kind of impact would these photos have," Mr Panetta said, according to a transcript published before the interview was broadcast.

"But the bottom line is that, you know, we got Bin Laden and I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him." (read more)

White House backtracks on how bin Laden died: Admits way Osama bin Laden died at the hands of US forces had been riddled with errors



The White House admitted last night that its initial account of the way Osama bin Laden died at the hands of US forces had been riddled with errors.

Claims that the al-Qaeda leader had died while firing an automatic weapon at commandos were withdrawn, with President Barack Obama’s spokesman admitting “he was unarmed”. A dramatic description of bin Laden using his wife as a “human shield” and forcing her to sacrifice her life also proved to be false. The woman was still alive and was taken into custody with several of the terrorist’s children.

In an embarrassing climb-down, Barack Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, admitted that the previous version of events — which came mostly from the chief US counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan — had been put out “with great haste”.

The about-turn left the US open to accusations of a cover-up and led to calls for video footage of the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and images of bin Laden’s body to be released to end conspiracy theories.

However, the White House suggested that pictures of bin Laden’s body were too “gruesome” to be made public because they could prove “inflammatory”.

Relations between the US and Pakistan, already strained by the fact that Pakistan was not told in advance about the raid, were put under renewed pressure by contradictory statements from Islamabad. (read more)

Israeli jets preparing in Iraq to strike Iran as reported by Iranian news? -- Investigation underway, details forthcoming

Israeli jet fighters have reportedly conducted drills at a military base in Iraq in order to strike targets inside Iran.

A considerable number of Israeli warplanes were seen at al-Asad base in Iraq, reported a source close to prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sader's group.

The aircraft reportedly included F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, and KC-10 jet fighters.

The warplanes carried out their week-long exercises at nights, the same source added.

The drills were reportedly aimed at preparing to strike Iran's air defense systems, disrupt Iran's radars and attack targets deep inside Iran.

Iraqi officials had not been notified of the exercises, which were conducted in collaboration with the US military. (read more)

The coming crisis is currently investigating this breaking news, and will offer more details as to the authenticity of the report as the story unfolds.

Was Bin Laden's Killing Legal? -- Der Spiegel (And a number of others are also beginning to ask this question)

Is this what justice looks like? Al-Qaida boss Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday in a secret military operation in Pakistan. Americans are celebrating, but there are serious doubts about whether the targeted killing was legal under international law and the laws of war.

US President Barack Obama gets precious few opportunities to announce a victory. So it's no wonder he chose grand words on Sunday night as the TV crews' spotlights shone upon him and he informed the nation about the deadly strike against Osama bin Laden. "Justice has been done," he said.

It may be that this sentence comes back to haunt him in the years to come. What is just about killing a feared terrorist in his home in the middle of Pakistan? For the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and for patriotic Americans who saw their grand nation challenged by a band of criminals, the answer might be simple. But international law experts, who have been grappling with the question of the legal status of the US-led war on terror for years, find Obama's pithy words on Sunday night more problematic.

Claus Kress, an international law professor at the University of Cologne, argues that achieving retributive justice for crimes, difficult as that may be, is "not achieved through summary executions, but through a punishment that is meted out at the end of a trial." Kress says the normal way of handling a man who is sought globally for commissioning murder would be to arrest him, put him on trial and ultimately convict him. In the context of international law, military force can be used in the arrest of a suspect, and this may entail gun fire or situations of self-defense that, in the end, leave no other possibility than to kill a highly dangerous and highly suspicious person. These developments can also lead to tragic and inevitable escalations of the justice process.

It is unfortunate. And it is certainly no reason for the indescribable jubilation that broke out on Sunday night across America -- and especially not for applause inside the CIA's operations center. (read more)

Bin Laden's Son: Worst Is Yet to Come -- "revenge attacks" coming?

ABC News' Lara Setrakian interviewed Osama bin Laden's son Omar bin Laden in early 2010 to discuss his book "Growing Up Bin Laden." Below are his thoughts on his father's life, what it was like to grow up the son of world's most wanted man, and a dire warning to the world about what might happen in the event that his father was killed:

Osama bin Laden's son had a chilling warning for those who were hunting his father with drones, secret agents and missile strikes.

From Omar bin Laden's up-close look at the next generation of mujahideen and al Qaeda training camps he says the worst may lie ahead, that if his father is killed America may face a broader and more violent enemy, with nothing to keep them in check.

"From what I knew of my father and the people around him I believe he is the most kind among them, because some are much, much worse," Omar bin Laden, who was raised in the midst of his father's fighters, told ABC News in an exclusive interview in February 2010. "Their mentality wants to make more violence, to create more problems." (read more)

US Debt Rating Should Be 'C': Independent Agency














There have been increasing concerns about the fate of United States' prized triple-A sovereign debt rating. While Standard and Poor's recently downgraded its U.S. debt outlook to negative from stable, implying that a ratings cut could happen in two years, one independent ratings agency has given the U.S. sovereign rating a "C".

"A 'C' is equivalent to approximately a triple-B on the S&P, Moody's and Fitch scales. It's two notches above junk and one notch above the equivalent of a single A," Martin Weiss, President of Weiss Ratings, told CNBC Tuesday.

Weiss was quick to add that while the rating seems weak, the debt situation is not in a danger zone that would trigger panic, noting that there was still broad market acceptance for Treasurys.

The grade reflects the U.S. massive debt burden, low international reserves and the volatility in the American economy, he said.

The U.S. government debt is fast approaching the $14.3 trillion ceiling, with the debt-to-GDP ratio close to 100 percent. And a downgrade of U.S. Treasurys - one of the most widely held assets - could theoretically raise borrowing costs and in a worst case scenario, trigger a default on the government's debt obligations. (read more)

Sony says 25 million more accounts hacked in new security breach -- is anything safe anymore?

Sony Corp. said Monday that hackers may have taken personal information from an additional 24.6 million user accounts after a review of the recent PlayStation Network breach found an intrusion at a division that makes multiplayer online games.

The data breach comes on top of the 77 million PlayStation accounts it has already said were jeopardized by a malicious intrusion.

The latest incident occurred April 16 and 17 -- earlier than the PlayStation break-in, which occurred from April 17 to 19, Sony said.

About 23,400 financial records from an outdated 2007 database involving people outside the U.S. may have been stolen in the newly discovered breach, including 10,700 direct debit records of customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, it said.

The outdated information contained credit card numbers, debit card numbers and expiration dates, but not the 3-digit security code on the back of credit cards. The direct debit records included bank account numbers, customer names, account names and customer addresses. (read more)

White House changes Osama bin Laden story... again: Osama now had no weapon, didn't use a human shield

The White House backed away Monday evening from key details in its narrative about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, including claims by senior U.S. officials that the Al Qaeda leader had a weapon and may have fired it during a gun battle with U.S. forces.

Officials also retreated from claims that one of bin Laden’s wives was killed in the raid and that bin Laden was using her as a human shield before she was shot by U.S. forces.

At a televised White House briefing Monday afternoon, Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan said bin Laden joined in the fight that several residents of the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound put up against the Navy SEALs during the 40-minute operation.

“He [bin Laden] was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don’t know,” Brennan said.

At a Pentagon briefing earlier in the day, a senior defense official said bin Laden used a woman as a human shield so he could fire shots. “He was firing behind her,” the official said.

In another background briefing early Monday morning, a senior administration official also said bin Laden put up a fight. “He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight,” the official said.

However, during a background, off-camera briefing for television reporters later Monday, a senior White House official said bin Laden was not armed when he was killed, apparently by the U.S. raid team.

Another White House official familiar with the TV briefing confirmed the change to POLITICO, adding, “I’m not aware of him having a weapon.” (read more)

Osama Bin Laden's wife NOT killed in raid, White House now says -- and the lies continue to mount a bizarre smear campaign

A woman killed during the U.S. raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was not his wife and was not used as a human shield by the al Qaeda leader before his death, a U.S. official said on Monday, correcting an earlier description.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counter- terrorism adviser, told reporters earlier that the slain woman had been one of bin Laden’s wives and may have been used – perhaps voluntarily – as a shield during the firefight.

However, a different White House official said that account had turned out not to be the case. Mr. bin Laden’s wife was injured but not killed in the assault.

U.S. officials have said a small U.S. strike team, dropped by helicopter to Mr. bin Laden’s hide-out near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad under cover of night, shot the al-Qaeda leader dead with bullets to the chest and head. He did not return fire. (Source)

Corporate Kingpins vaccuum up $26,000,000 worth of silver shorts in bizarre commodity rush

I hope precious metals newbies have not been emotionally derailed by last night's obvious ambush of silver by the corrupt Wall Street bullion bank cartel. It's funny because just yesterday I was chatting with my significant other, who happens to be from Las Vegas, about organized crime. She mentioned that Vegas is full of organized crime gangs, not just the casino mafia. I replied that any area that generates tons of cash flow is mired with organized crime and extreme corruption: Vegas, DC and Wall Street most prominently (obviously there are others but those are the biggest). Little did I know that several hours later the action in electronic silver trading would ironically highlight my point about Wall Street!

Make no mistake about it, what occurred last night right at the open of electronic futures trading in gold and silver was nothing more than a very aggressive attempt by the big Wall Street banks who are irrationally short paper silver to shake out weak hands in order to reduce the fraudulent short positions in paper silver. Anyone who thinks last night's action - as reported in the mainstream media - was connected to a feared slowdown in China or the Bin Laden thing or the Bolivian mining news is either hopelessly naive or pathetically ignorant of the facts.

So let's look at some facts. First, no other commodities were hammered. If China slowdown fears were the culprit, shouldn't all of the base metals used in industrial production have been hit hard along with silver? Seriously. Even more telling was the fact that the dollar barely moved in either direction last night - and it's below 73 right now. The media loves to explain movements in gold/silver with inverse movements in the dollar. How come the dollar was not doing a moonshot in response to the gold/silver cliff-dive? (read more)

Silver Forming Another Bullish Flag Formation as US dollar continues stumbling


With silver down just over 4%, the dollar continuing to grind lower and gold consolidating, today King World News interviewed James Turk out of Spain. When asked about gold and silver Turk responded, “Nearly all of Europe is closed today to celebrate May Day, and Asian markets are notoriously thin even in the best of circumstances. So when the news of Bin Laden's death hit the tape, the dollar bounced in an emotional knee-jerk reaction. Silver was pummeled, and gold ended slightly lower. The important point Eric, is that both metals are bouncing back.”

When asked about the violent action in the metals Turk replied, “The volatility scares a lot of people, which is understandable. It can be heart-stopping to see silver drop 10% like it did, but silver is not unique in this regard. Even blue-chip stocks or other high-quality assets drop in price during certain periods. Unfortunately, those big price drops can easily cause you to take your eye-off-the-ball or shake you out of a position. Don't let that happen to you in a bull market such as we are seeing in gold and silver.

What's worse is that these occasional price gyrations play into the hands of the anti-gold crowd, who claim that gold is a volatile commodity. Of course, the real volatility comes from central bank interventions that distort the market process as well as the huge amount of leverage used in the paper-gold market. The point is, Eric, long-term price trends are caused by underlying fundamental factors that determine the true value of an asset, not news items. And the underlying fundamentals for both gold and silver remain very bullish.

Look for example, at the US Dollar Index, which is trading at a new low as we speak. The trading day just ended, and the "Bin Laden bounce" is already history. (read more)

14 signs that the collapse of our modern world has already begun

A lot of people believe the world as we know it is going to end on December 23, 2012. Nonsense, I say. The far more honest answer is that the end of the world as we know it has already begun. And it doesn't mean the end of the world; it means the closing of one era and the birth of a new one. It is a transition between the ages. This particular transition, however, promises to be the most tumultuous and costly transition humankind has ever seen.

But don't wait around for December 2012 to look for the signs. Here are 14 signs that the world as we know it is unraveling right now. We are living through the end of one era and the birth of a new one. In the future, they'll look back and call this all one moment in history, but when you're living through it, it seems to move forward at almost a snail's pace. But make no mistake: We are living through the opening chapters of the end of the world as we know it, and on the other side of all this will emerge a new world that's very different from the one we know today.

#1 - Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis - At first it seemed like a fluke; but now it's a pattern. The weather is becoming increasingly extreme. Over 120 tornadoes recently struck the U.S. Midwest. Texas is on fire and suffering through an extreme drought. And where there aren't fires and droughts, there are floods. This is only the beginning... watch for more freak weather over the next 18 months.

#2 - The silence of the bees - Colony Collapse Disorder continues to accelerate across North America. We already know it's being caused in part by chemical pesticides (and possibly worsened by GMOs), but the chemical industry is engaged in a full-on cover-up to deny this truth while the pollinators of our world suffer a devastating population collapse. (http://www.naturalnews.com/028218_p...)

#3 - The failure of nuclear science - The Fukushima catastrophe proves one thing: Scientists are dangerously arrogant in their planning of large-scale projects, and they fail to account for the awesome power of Mother Nature. Nuclear science promised us clean, green energy -- but now it has delivered a silent, invisible poison that's infecting our planet. (read more)

NY Times Reports Osama Bin Laden dead in 2002 -- and the inconsistencies just keep on piling up on top an already absurd story...

Osama bin Laden is dead. The news first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan almost six months ago: the fugitive died in December and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan. Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, echoed the information. The remnants of Osama's gang, however, have mostly stayed silent, either to keep Osama's ghost alive or because they have no means of communication.

With an ego the size of Mount Everest, Osama bin Laden would not have, could not have, remained silent for so long if he were still alive. He always liked to take credit even for things he had nothing to do with. Would he remain silent for nine months and not trumpet his own survival?

Even if he is still in the world, bin Ladenism has left for good. Mr. bin Laden was the public face of a brand of politics that committed suicide in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, killing thousands of innocent people in the process. (read more)

Osama Bin Laden Photo's - White House to delay the release of 'gruesome' Osama bin Laden death photos due to Muslim 'sensitivities' - 3rd May 2011

The White House has delayed the release of photographs showing Osama bin Laden's body.

White House officials are afraid that releasing the images, described as 'gruesome' and thought to show the dead al-Qaeda leader with a massive head wound, would offend 'sensitivities' in the Muslim world.

It had been previously thought President Barack Obama had decided to release at least one photo showing Osama Bin Laden shortly after he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs.

The news came as a Taliban spokesman demanded to see photographic evidence of the assassination.

The White House says the photograph of a dead Osama bin Laden is 'gruesome' and that 'it could be inflammatory' if released.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the White House is mulling whether to make the photo public, but he said officials are concerned about the 'sensitivity' of doing so.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement emailed to journalists: 'This news is only coming from one side, from Obama's office, and America has not shown any evidence or proof to support this claim.

'On the other side, our sources close to Osama bin Laden have not confirmed or denied the news.

'Until there is news from sources close to Osama bin Laden it will be too early to provide any reaction.' Read More

Benazir Bhutto Said: "Omar Shaikh, the man who murdered Osama Bin Laden" -- she was assassinated shortly after... (Buried but not forgotten)


Start watching at 2:00 mark. The inconsistencies continue to pile up -- ask questions people. This post was reader contributed.

Abu Ahmad a Kuwaiti, the Courier who led U.S. to Osama bin Laden's Hideout - 3rd May 2011

A diplomatic source told CNN that the courier who was in close contact with Osama bin Laden and who eventually led the United States to him was a Kuwaiti named Abu Ahmad.

U.S. officials have said that when the identity of the courier -- who they have not named -- was established in 2007 the U.S. began a path to the house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the al Qaeda leader was living.

Analysis of assessments of detainees held at the U.S. Navy's detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, include several mentions of a man by the name of Abu Ahmad al Kuwaiti, who was reportedly close to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- also a Kuwaiti.

The information on the detainee assessments came from U.S. Defense Department documents published by WikiLeaks.

Since the operation that killed bin Laden, U.S. officials have described the courier they were tracking as a protege of Mohammed and another senior member of al Qaeda, Abu Faraj al Libi, a Libyan detainee who was named as al Qaeda's third most senior leader when he was captured in May 2005. Read More


HIV drug could prevent 'cervical cancer by killing off virus that causes disease' - 3rd May 2011

The cervical cancer vaccination is expensive and the HIV drug lopinavir is a far cheaper alternative for use in developing countries.

A simple treatment using a widely prescribed HIV drug could prevent cervical cancer, research suggests.

The drug lopinavir kills cells infected by the human papilloma virus (HPV) while leaving healthy cells relatively unharmed, scientists have found.

HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer, which affects 3,000 women in the UK each year and accounts for more than 900 deaths.

It also triggers significant numbers of mouth and throat cancers in both men and women.

Researchers from the University of Manchester, working with colleagues in Canada, made the discovery after carrying out laboratory tests on cell cultures.

Dr Ian Hampson, from the university's school of cancer and enabling sciences, said: ‘This is a very significant finding as these cells are not cancer cells but are the closest thing to being like the cells found in a pre-cancerous HPV infection of the cervix.

‘In addition we were also able to show that lopinavir kills these HPV-infected cells by re-activating a well-known antiviral system that is suppressed by HPV.’

To be effective as a treatment, the drug would have to be administered in doses 10 to 15 times that taken by HIV patients. This would mean applying it as a cream or pessary, rather than swallowing a tablet, said Dr Hampson.

The research is published today in the journal Antiviral Therapy.

Co-author Dr Lynne Hampson said: ‘These results are very exciting since they show that the drug not only preferentially kills HPV-infected non-cancerous cells by re-activating known antiviral defence systems, it is also much less toxic to normal non-HPV infected cells. Read More

A village of extremes: Wettest place in Britain has suddenly become the driest after no rainfall for a month - 3rd May 2011

Just two years ago, it was given the title of the wettest place in the UK after more than 300mm fell in the space of just 24 hours.

But now Seathwaite Farm in Borrowdale, Cumbria, is as dry as a bone after seeing no downpours for more than a month.

April was the hottest on record for England and Wales, according to the Met Office, with just 21 per cent of expected rainfall.

Temperatures have been the hottest on average since records began 353 years ago.
Seathwaite Farm earned its moniker for being the wettest place in the UK during the devastating Cumbrian floods in November 2009.

A massive 316.4mm of rain poured into the tiny village. The Met Office said it was the highest rainfall ever seen in the UK.

Now residents have contrasting fears - they are worried about a hosepipe ban as the sun continues to beat down on the Lake District hamlet.

Duncan Ellwood, 46, who owns the Grange Bridge Cottage Teashop, said: 'Customers have been chatting about the dry weather in the shop, and wondering if we may be facing another hose pipe ban.

'I have never known an April in Borrowdale to be this dry. In April you expect to be getting lots of showers, but it hasn't rained now in over a month. Read More

Julian Assange blasts Facebook as 'the most appalling spying machine ever invented' - 3rd May 2011

An official WikiLeaks page has attracted 1.72million 'likes' on Facebook.

But that hasn't stopped 'Leaks leader Julian Assange blasting the social networking site as 'the most appalling spying machine ever invented.'

In an interview with Russia Today Assange said Facebook was one of the top tools for the U.S. Government to spy on its citizens.

'Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other and their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. Intelligence,' he said.

'Facebook, Google, Yahoo, all these major U.S. organisations have built-in interfaces for U.S. intelligence.

'Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook they are doing free work for the United States intelligence agencies,' he added.

A spokesman for Facebook denied the company was doing anything they weren't legally obliged to do, in an email to the New York Daily News. Read More


New witness claims honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani 'arranged bride's killing to find a way out of his marriage' - 3rd May 2011

British businessman Shrien Dewani arranged his wife's murder on honeymoon in South Africa after confessing he needed to 'find a way out' of his marriage, a court heard today.

The South African authorities are seeking to extradite Dewani over the killing of his Swedish bride Anni, who was shot dead in the back of a taxi in Cape Town in November.

An unnamed witness, who is prepared to give evidence if Dewani stands trial, claims the wealthy care home owner revealed to him his true feelings about his marriage more than six months earlier, the court heard.

Hugo Keith QC, representing the South African authorities, said: 'Dewani told [the witness] in April 2010 how he was engaged and had to get married.

'He said although she was a nice, lovely girl who he liked, he could not break out of the engagement because he would be disowned by his family. He went on to say to the witness he needed to find a way out of it.'

Dewani, 31, is accused of arranging for Anni, 28, to be killed in a staged car-jacking in the dangerous Gugulethu township.

He is also wanted for offences of kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances, conspiracy to commit murder, and obstructing the administration of justice, Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south-east London heard on the first day of his extradition hearing.

As Mr Keith opened his case, Dewani, dressed in a dark tracksuit top, sat slumped in the dock, mumbling to himself with his eyes half-closed. Read More

Osama Bin Laden was Unarmed when he was Shot in the Face in front of his 12 year old Daughter, it is claimed

Osama Bin Laden's 12-year-old daughter was present when U.S. forces shot and killed her father at a Pakistani compound, it has emerged.

New details about the deadly Special Forces raid in Abbottabad emerged as U.S. officials backtracked on a claim made earlier that a wife of Osama Bin Laden acted as a human shield in an unsuccessful bid to save the Al Qaeda leader's life.

The fresh reports also revealed that Bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot in the face.

Officials had first said that Bin Laden had stood behind a younger woman - identified in some sources as one of his wives - while firing at U.S. troops with an AK-47.

But as fresh details emerged that up to 19 other people had been living inside the house, it was today unclear which woman had been killed.

Officials from Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI, today gave new details about the operation.

An ISI official told the BBC 17 or 18 people were inside the compound at the time of the attack.

One of those in the building was a daughter of Bin Laden's, thought to be 12, who saw her father fatally shot by U.S. forces, the official claimed.

Further details about the raid were revealed as U.S. officials corrected earlier remarks which suggested a wife of Bin Laden's had died after being used as a human shield.

Initially, counter-terrorism official John Brennan had said. 'There was family at that compound, and there was a female who was, in fact, in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield Bin Laden from the incoming fire.'

However, a different White House official said that account had turned out not to be the case. The youngest of Bin Laden's five wives, Amal Ahmed al-Sadah, 27, survived the raid but was wounded in the calf.

Mr Brennan has since told Fox News that, to his knowledge, Bin Laden's wife was injured rather than killed, adding it was unclear whether she and another female in the Abbottabad compound had been trying to attack U.S. personnel. Read More

Anxiang Du, a business associate of the Family stabbed to Death in Northampton is wanted for Questioning by the Police for their Murders -3rd May 2011

Detectives investigating the murder of a family of four found stabbed to death in Northampton have named a man they want to speak to in connection with the killings.

The suspect, 52-year-old Anxiang Du, is a business associate of the deceased family and of Chinese origin.

He was last seen at his herbal medicine shop in the Pallasades Shopping Centre, Birmingham, on April 29 wearing a white baseball cap, brown waist length coat and a blue woolen top.

Mr Du left what appears to be a suicide note at the shop saying goodbye to his family.

Detective Superintendent Glyn Timmins said: "Mr Du routinely wears a baseball cap as he has a bald patch at the back.

"We believe that he may have with him a rucksack which he wears across him. We would seek the public assistance in finding Mr Du so that we can question him."

Jifeng Ding (known as Jeff), his wife Helen, 47, and their two daughters Xing, 18, and Alice, 12, were found stabbed to death at the weekend at their home in Wootton, Northampton. Read More

Inside the heart of the volcano: Explorers descend 650ft into magma chamber for the first time, Iceland - 3rd May 2011

For the first time in history scientists have descended 650ft into the magma chamber of a volcano.

These incredible images show one explorer gently lowering himself into the heart of the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano in Iceland.

Known as a 'sleeping volcano' because it could come back to life at any time, Thrihnukagigur is credited with helping to create the Atlantic island we call Iceland when it last erupted 3,000 years ago.

Only now - 50 years since the first man went into space - have human beings visited the only magma chamber on the planet currently safe to explore.

University of Iceland volcano researcher, Dr Freysteinn Sigmundsson, 44, used the pioneering expedition to build on his work on Iceland's most notorious volcano, Eyjafjallajokull

Last March Eyjafjallajokull caused global chaos when it erupted, grounding aeroplanes and leaving hundreds of thousands of people stranded.

Dr Sigmundsson described the feeling of being the first scientist to witness a magma chamber from the inside - which was tinged an eerie red thanks to the rusted iron ore that lined the chamber walls.

'I felt small compared to the forces of nature,' he said.

'I was deeply touched by the beauty and tranquillity of the volcano interior.

'As a volcanologist, I felt privileged to be able to observe with my own eyes the interior of an active volcano, from within its active plumbing system.' Read More

Fact or Fiction - 'Monster' plagues Karoo town, South Arifca - 22nd Apr 2011

Steytlerville - Steytlerville, a small Karoo town, is being plagued by rumours of a shape-shifting monster, Eastern Cape police said on Thursday.

"The community says that the monster changes shape while you are looking at it," Warrant Officer Zandisile Nelani said.

He said one man had reported it changed from a man wearing a suit into a pig and then into a bat. The creature had been sighted on a number of occasions near a church and only appeared at night, Nelani said.

Local residents met with police last week to discuss the strange phenomenon.

Nelani said he had asked people to take a photograph of the alleged monster. Although some locals were frightened of it, it had not harmed any people or livestock. Source

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Update: 25th Apr 2011 - Johannesburg - A ‘monster’ plaguing the sleepy Karoo town of Steytlerville struck again over the Easter weekend, Eastern Cape police said on Monday.

Another two sightings of the "shape-shifting creature" were reported on Sunday evening, said Warrant Officer Zandisile Nelani .

“Two men were walking near a tavern when they saw another man wearing a black jacket. One of the men, identified only as Nozipho, went up to the stranger and asked him, “What is your problem?” said Nelani.

When the stranger did not respond, Nozipho went closer and saw that the man had no head. The man then turned into a dog that was “very angry” and “as big as a cow”, Nelani said.

He said that as Nozipho and his friend ran away, the monster allegedly turned on another group of people in the same road. “They said it turned into a big monkey, and then it was gone,” Nelani said.

He said that since the monster was spotted near the tavern, people were afraid to go there at night.

Last week police were told by residents that the monster changed shape while one looked at it. One man had reported that it changed from a man wearing a suit into a pig and then into a bat.

There had also been rumours that the monster could fly. Previously, the monster had only been spotted near the church. It had even been seen peering through the windows during a service, but had vanished by the time the congregation came outside.

Nelani said that the community had dubbed the monster “Bawokozi”, meaning ‘brother-in-law’.

Photograph

Sightings of the monster began over a month ago when it was seen by mourners attending two separate funerals, Nelani said.

He said that the community requested a meeting with police because they were frightened of it. Police agreed to work with residents, but asked them to try to take a photograph of it as evidence.

Nelani said that a photograph had since been taken of the monster resting under a tree.

He said that when the photo was taken the monster had been in human form but when the photo was developed an unknown animal was visible in the picture. Read More

Threat of revenge emerges after Osama bin Laden killed -- Hornet nest stirred? False flag?

A day after international exaltation over Osama bin Laden's death, questions remain about who might take over his terrorist group and whether a trove of material gathered from his compound might tip off U.S. officials to other al Qaeda leaders and plots.

But already, at least one threat of revenge has surfaced against the United States, which carried out the mission to eliminate bin Laden.

"We are proud on the martyrdom of Osama," Ahsan Ullah Ahsan, spokesman for Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, said late Monday. "We shall definitely take revenge (on) America."

When asked how the Pakistani Taliban organization would carry out revenge on America, Ahsan said, "We already have our people in America, and we are sending more there."

Earlier, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in a message to agency employees that terrorists "almost certainly" will attempt to avenge bin Laden's death.

U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world have been placed on high alert following the announcement of bin Laden's death, a senior U.S. official said, and the U.S. State Department issued a "worldwide caution" for Americans.

The travel alert warned of the "enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan." (read more)

Syria arrests more than 1,000 citizens as persecution and slaughter drags on

Syrian authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people and many more have been reported missing in the latest sweep aimed at crushing the uprising against President Bashar Assad, a human rights group said Tuesday.

Ammar Qurabi, who heads the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, said the 1,000 detentions were made since Saturday in house-to-house raids across the country.

"They are picking up people in an arbitrary manner," Qurabi told The Associated Press. In the southern city of Daraa, the epicenter of the protest movement, agents have been arresting men under 40, he said.

Assad is determined to crush the six-week-old revolt, which is the gravest challenge to his family's 40-year-old ruling dynasty.

Assad inherited power from his father in 2000, and has maintained close ties with Iran and Islamic militant groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Rights groups say at least 545 Syrians have been killed since the uprising began in March in Daraa, spreading quickly across the nation of some 23 million people.

Syria blames the unrest on a foreign conspiracy and "terrorist groups" that it says have taken advantage of protests to stir up unrest and destabilize Syria. (read more)

North Korea 'behind South Korean bank cyber hack'

Prosecutors in South Korea say North Korean hackers were behind an attack that paralysed a leading bank last month.

Banking operations at Nonghyup, a South Korean farm co-operative, were halted by the cyber intrusion, leaving customers unable to access their money.

The Seoul prosecutors' office called it "unprecedented cyber-terror deliberately planned" by North Korea.

It said the software used matched that used in earlier attacks by Pyongyang.

Prosecutors said that a laptop used by a subcontractor "became in September 2010 a zombie PC operated by the North, which... later remotely staged the attack through the laptop".

One of the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used to break into Nonghyup's system was the same as one used in March for a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that originated in North Korea, they added.

The software used in the incident was also similar to that employed in July 2009, when a number of South Korean government websites were attacked, the prosecutors said.

The latest attack caused a three-day service outage at the bank - also called the National Agricultural Co-operative Federation - and caused the records of some credit card customers to be deleted.

South Korean media outlets have in the past accused North Korea of running an internet warfare unit aimed at hacking into US and South Korean government and financial networks. (read more)

Google offices raided by South Korean police over new privacy violation

South Korean police say they have raided the offices of Google Korea and Daum Communications Corp. for allegedly collecting private information without permission.

Police say Daum and a subsidiary of Google Korea are believed to have collected information on the location of smartphone users for advertising purposes. Daum is South Korea's second-largest online portal service after Naver.

South Korean prosecutors are also investigating accusations that Google Inc. collected e-mails from unsecured wireless networks while photographing neighborhoods for its mapping service in 2009 and 2010.

A public relations firm working for Google says police came to the Seoul office and says the company will cooperate. (read more)


US tornado outbreak was 'biggest ever' -- it's official

The outbreak of tornadoes that ravaged the southern US last week was the largest in US recorded history, the National Weather Service has said.

The three-day period from 25-28 April saw 362 tornadoes strike, including some 312 in a single 24-hour period.

The previous record was 148 in two days in April 1974.

The tornadoes and the storm system that spawned them killed at least 350 people in Alabama and six other states. It was the deadliest outbreak since 1936.

The review by US meteorologists came as the southern US states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana and Kentucky continued the huge task of digging out from the destruction.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a university town that was the worst-hit single location, officials estimated debris removal alone would cost $70m (£42m) to $100m (£60m).

The storm tore down century-old trees, flattened farm buildings and downed power lines, leaving as many as one million people without electricity in Alabama alone.

On Monday, more than 400,000 people still had no power in that state, emergency officials said.

The most destructive tornado struck Tuscaloosa, killing at least 65 people between there and the city of Birmingham, the National Weather Service said in a statement. (read more)

The United States faces a crisis not seen since the Depression

Maybe it's because Boston is different, a semi-detached city in one of the US's most liberal states. But the news that the world's biggest economy had had its creditworthiness challenged for the first time by the upstart rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) hardly seemed to register with the locals.

No one I met fulminated about loss of economic sovereignty or that S&P, whose purblind approval of junk mortgage debt as triple A was one of the causes of the financial crisis, had finally over-reached itself. Bostonians seemed unconcerned. Perhaps this was because it was just one more surreal moment in the pantomime that is American economic and political life.

That was how the markets judged the news. There was a momentary tremor in the Dow Jones. Some analysts shrugged it off; others thought it profoundly serious. But soon the markets were on the rise again as if nothing had happened.

The Obama administration played it down. Tim Geithner, the secretary of state for the Treasury, said that S&P was behind the political curve; the prospects for a bipartisan deal were now better than they had been for months. If the hope was to provoke a change in the debate about the US's record budget deficit, S&P must have been disappointed.

The Republicans rehearsed their battle cry that Obama was mortgaging the future and that the only plan in town to respond to the agency's "wake-up call" was their own – to take federal spending back to pre-modern levels, while offering further tax relief to the rich. To all this Democrats are ferociously opposed. (read more)

Africans are asking whether China is making their lunch or eating it

ZHU LIANGXIU gulps down Kenyan lager in a bar in Nairobi and recites a Chinese aphorism: “One cannot step into the same river twice.” Mr Zhu, a shoemaker from Foshan, near Hong Kong, is on his second trip to Africa. Though he says he has come to love the place, you can hear disappointment in his voice.

On his first trip three years ago Mr Zhu filled a whole notebook with orders and was surprised that Africans not only wanted to trade with him but also enjoyed his company. “I have been to many continents and nowhere was the welcome as warm,” he says. Strangers congratulated him on his homeland’s high-octane engagement with developing countries. China is Africa’s biggest trading partner and buys more than one-third of its oil from the continent. Its money has paid for countless new schools and hospitals. Locals proudly told Mr Zhu that China had done more to end poverty than any other country.

He still finds business is good, perhaps even better than last time. But African attitudes have changed. His partners say he is ripping them off. Chinese goods are held up as examples of shoddy work. Politics has crept into encounters. The word “colonial” is bandied about. Children jeer and their parents whisper about street dogs disappearing into cooking pots.

Once feted as saviours in much of Africa, Chinese have come to be viewed with mixed feelings—especially in smaller countries where China’s weight is felt all the more. To blame, in part, are poor business practices imported alongside goods and services. Chinese construction work can be slapdash and buildings erected by mainland firms have on occasion fallen apart. A hospital in Luanda, the capital of Angola, was opened with great fanfare but cracks appeared in the walls within a few months and it soon closed. The Chinese-built road from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to Chirundu, 130km (81 miles) to the south-east, was quickly swept away by rains. (read more)

US risks war with China and Russia

While revolts in Tunisia and Egypt caught the US by surprise there is speculation that they are behind revolts in Libya and Syria. Russia and China are also see observing these developments.

Press TV talks with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary to US Treasury in Panama City who concisely provides insight as to the larger scope of American hegemonic strategy that seriously risks Russian and Chinese interests.

Press TV: There is talk about Washington being advised to arm the revolutionaries in Libya. Do you think this is a good idea?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: They are already arming them. That is what's unique about the Libyan revolt. It's not a peaceful revolt; it's not taking place in the capital; it's an armed revolt from the eastern part of the country. And we know that the CIA is involved on the ground and so they are already armed.

Press TV: How do you compare this military intervention to the one in Bahrain?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: We don't want to overthrow the government in Bahrain or in Saudi Arabia where both governments are using violence against protesters because they're our puppets and we have a large naval base in Bahrain.

We want to overthrow Gaddafi and Assad in Syria because we want to clear China and Russia out of the Mediterranean. China has massive energy investments in eastern Libya and is relying on Libya along with Angola and Nigeria for energy needs. This is an American effort to deny resources to China just as Washington and London denied resources to the Japanese in the 1930s.

The interest in the Syria protests, which Wikileaks shows the Americans are behind -- we are interested in that because the Russians have a large naval base in Syria and it gives them a presence in the Mediterranean. So you see that Washington is all for invading against Libya and is putting more and more pressure to intervene in Syria because we want to get rid of the Russians and the Chinese.
(read more)

"Deflation or Hyperinflation?" -- an either-or scenario is rapidly approaching

Chapter 84 – Bond salesmen's propaganda that "a dollar is a dollar" should be rewritten to say "a dollar is 3¢"

Since most ordinary people, bankers, and company presidents have never studied currency theory, they swallow it hook, line, and sinker when the bond salesmen tell them, "a dollar is a dollar." That piece of propaganda should be rewritten to say "a dollar is 3¢." The nominal dollar is officially worth no more than 14¢ of its 1940 value, unofficially only 3¢.

If computed in 1940 constant dollars, not more than $1,380 exists of the US $46,000 per capita gross public and private debt. More than $44,628 has been destroyed by inflation. But sadly, the owners of this debt do not want to hear about it. They do not wish to know that bonds are issued by governments with the sole purpose of debasement.

To my knowledge, no government in history has paid its debts in currency equal to the purchasing power of the currency lent to them. The people always lose their money on bonds.

It angers me. Bond salesmen should be thrown into the East River.


-The above was written in 1985 by Dr. Franz Pick, in the book "The Triumph of Gold" sent to me by one of my readers. The photos are from Time Magazine.
(read more)

Sociapitalism: How the Government Became the Next Bubble

In the last thirteen years, a new financial order replaced capitalism in America. With cat-like tread, this transformation has caught most Americans unaware, let alone some of country’s best financial minds (many of them fascist anyway).

This new order constitutes the socializing of risk, a concept I have termed: Sociapitalism. Sociapitalism is different than Social Capitalism – a European concept. Social capitalism is the redistribution of wealth through social programs, such as unemployment benefits, food stamps, and government housing. Sociapitalism is not a redistribution of wealth, but a redistribution of risk. The government transfers risk from one entity to the system, securing the safety of the entity.

Social capitalism allows corporate failure. Sociapitalism does not, reducing the only possibility of failure to the sovereign state.

For the most part, our country was founded on the principle that success or failure should be predicated on one’s own merits. The weak died, the strong survived. Depressions and recessions cleansed the system, firming up the foundation for the next economic advancement. Capitalism brought corruption – true - but that corruption was eventually punished with failure. Failure distinguishes capitalism from all other economic systems.

That model has changed, and it became visibly apparent in 1998 when the government orchestrated the bailout of Long Term Capital Management. In hindsight, this intervention may have been the biggest mistake in American financial history. If Long Term Capital Management would have failed, Lehman Brothers would have likely failed at that time, and the United States would have fallen into a recession. Positively, the United States would have averted an equity bubble, Glass Steagall would have never been repealed, and the system would have been cleansed from the froth of the late nineties. (read more)

Fact or Fiction - Ancient Aliens "Alien Tech" - 3rd May 2011

This episode proposes that some advanced weapon technologies currently in development, such as laser and sonic weapons, are rediscovered technologies used by advanced beings in the past. Also discussed are theories that aliens provided gravity manipulation devices to help man construct colossal stone structures around the world.

'Osama is alive!' mock Pakistanis outside bin Laden home - 3rd May 2011

Dozens of Pakistani youths on Tuesday demonstrated outside the upmarket compound where Osama bin Laden was killed, mocking the United States and shouting, 'Osama is alive!'

Unconvinced by news that the Al-Qaeda kingpin had been living in their leafy city of Abbottabad, one protester dressed up as the world's 'most-wanted' man, who was killed in a helicopter raid by US commandos.

"Osama is alive, here comes Osama!" he exclaimed jokingly, donning a white turban and hiding his face with a cloth.

Some children as young as four or five joined the spontaneous rally, which was full of laughter and held alongside a heavy police contingent guarding the scene of the now world-famous operation to kill the terror mastermind.

Another in the group, wearing a black turban similar to that sported by the Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Omar, suggested that the raid had been a fake.

"Long live Osama, here come Mullar Omar and Osama!" he proclaimed.

Conspiracy theories, propped up by distrust of the United States, have spread quickly among residents in the quiet, relatively well-to-do garrison town after the news emerged of bin Laden's death on their doorstep.

"We are really surprised about how this is possible," said Mohammad Anwar, another teenager at the gathering. Source

Mystery outbreak in 150 dogs at a local veterinarian in Colorado - 1st May 2011

DURANGO, COLO. — About 150 dogs in Durango, Colo., have fallen ill with what one local veterinarian can only call a "mystery."

"We're in a tourist town, so generally after the holidays, there's a little surge of kennel cough," says Dr. Stacee Santi, managing veterinarian at Riverview Animal Hospital in Durango.

But around mid-February, she started seeing a "skyrocketing" number of dogs presenting with a cough much thicker than those suffering from kennel cough and some that had progressed to pneumonia.

"It was really bizarre," she says, adding the dogs typically were not responsive to antibiotic treatment.

At a quarterly meeting of the Four Corners Veterinary Association, comprised of all the veterinary practices in Durango, Santi discovered that other veterinarians in town were seeing the same thing. About 150 in all—50 at her practice alone—are suspected to have succumbed to the mystery ailment, but none died and all have made full recoveries after about three weeks.

The primary complaint of clients was the dog's cough, but Santi says symptoms also included low-grade fever, nasal discharge varying from clear to thick and occasional conjunctivitis. The coughing ranged from a dry cough similar to that found with kennel cough turning into a more moist cough, Santi says.

About 75 percent of the dogs identified to be suffering from clinical symptoms of the same ailment had spent time at a local dog daycare facility, but a number of the center's "regulars" showed no symptoms. Santi says the owner's dogs—who regularly attend the daycare—have not gotten sick.

Veterinarians in neighboring towns have not seen any cases, either, Santi says.

"I don't know if we're dealing with a new virus that hasn't been isolated or a new form of the flu. At this point it's kind of up in the air," Santi says.

Samples were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other veterinary epidemiologists, but experts have not confirmed the ailment yet, she says.

About three-quarters of the samples were negative for everything, and others had some positives for more common infections, but the results were not consistent for any one particular problem, Santi explains. The samples have been negative so far for H3N8, canine influenza. Santi consulted with Dr. Cynda Crawford of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, who told her canine flu has not been found to mutate yet.

"She doesn't think we're dealing with a new strain," says Santi. "So at this point we're moving forward."

Testing is now being done for H1N1, "but everyone seems to pretty much think it's a long shot." Read More

US: Death Of Osama Was 'Shared Achievement' by the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan, a US - PAKISTAN'S PRESIDENT: We had No Part in the Operation

The death of Osama bin Laden was a "shared achievement" by the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan, a US official has said.

"All three countries had this commitment to an end to extremism," Marc Grossman, US special representative to Pakistan, told a news conference in Islamabad. "This effort is far from over."

He said the al Qaeda leader was an enemy of both the US and Pakistan, as thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers had died at the hands of terrorists.

Asked about various conspiracy theories surrounding bin Laden's death, he said: "You can have as many conspiracies as you wish. He's dead, it's good, we still have to fight extremism." Read More

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(Reuters) - Pakistan's president acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that his security forces were left out of a U.S. operation to kill Osama bin Laden, but he did little to dispel questions over how the al Qaeda leader was able to live in comfort near Islamabad.

The revelation that bin Laden had holed up in a compound in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, possibly for years, prompted many U.S. lawmakers to demand a review of the billions of dollars in aid Washington gives to nuclear-armed Pakistan.

"He was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone," Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, without offering further defense against accusations his security services should have known where bin Laden was hiding.

"Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world." Read More

After the sun, the firestorms: Record-breaking dry spell leads to huge heath blazes in England, Ireland and Scotland - 3rd May 2011

Oubreaks of huge heath fires in England, Scotland and Ireland were a reminder that the recent hot spell has a downside to it.

Hundreds of firemen have been called into action as infernos raged from woods near Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire to the highlands of Scotland and Ireland.

The fires have thrived on bone-dry wood and foliage - and forecasters say there won't be any rain to ease the situation for another 24 hours.

The massive forest blaze near Broadmoor top-security psychiatric hospital saw around 100 firemen in action.

Fierce flames were whipped up by strong winds as two separate blazes took hold - one a mile square.

Roads were closed and hundreds of residents were advised to keep their windows closed because of the dense choking smoke.

The blaze was just half a mile from Broadmoor Hospital which is surrounded by woodland in Crowthorne, Berkshire. It was being tackled by firefighters from Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey, using at least 12 appliances.

It was believed the fire started at saw mill in Swinley, Ascot, last week and travelled underground through peat, emerging in two places in Swinley Forest this yesterday afternoon.

Crews remained at the scene near Woodlands Ride, South Ascot, where the flames were now under control.

A spokesman for the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said the second fire had been contained in an area measuring 300m by 300m surrounded by tracks. Read More

Guantanamo torture was the key: Detainees led the CIA to Bin Laden's hideout - 3rd May 2011

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay provided the crucial breakthrough in hunting down Osama Bin Laden, American officials said last night.

Senior officials in the Obama administration said intelligence gained from interrogations at the U.S. base was directly responsible for helping security forces track down and kill Bin Laden.

The claim will fuel the international row about the Guantanamo camp – one of the most controversial legacies of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. – and whether torture can ever be justified.

Hundreds of suspects rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan were subjected to techniques such as water-boarding, sleep deprivation, white noise and stress positions at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba.

Human rights groups claim the techniques amounted to torture, and that many of the detainees had no link to terrorism.

But U.S. officials said interrogations had produced crucial information about a trusted courier who provided support to Bin Laden after he fled Afghanistan.

A senior source said detainees had provided the courier’s nickname and indicated he could be living with Bin Laden – although it took years to track down his true identity and location.

The official said: ‘Detainees flagged for us individuals who may have been providing direct support to Bin Laden and his deputy after their escape from Afghanistan. One courier in particular had our constant attention.’

Documents released by the Wikileaks organisation appear to confirm that detainees provided information about a courier operating out of the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, where Bin Laden was eventually tracked down – although it is unclear whether the individual involved is the one who eventually led U.S. intelligence to the lair of the terrorist mastermind. Mike Blakemore, of the human rights group Amnesty International, last night said torture could not be justified in any circumstances. Read More

Five men arrested on suspicion of terror offences at Sellafield nuclear power station - 3rd May 2011

Five men from London are being held under the Terrorism Act after being arrested close to the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, police said today.

The arrests came as the U.S. CIA and State Department warned there was 'enhanced potential' for violence against the country's citizens and assets.

Police departments were warned that the killing will likely inspire homegrown extremists in the U.S. to carry out revenge attacks.

The FBI cautioned that U.S. cities, airports, public transport and government buildings continued to be attractive targets for terrorists.

New York's Port Authority announced there would be a heightened police presence at the city's airports and bridges - and at Ground Zero. Read More

Two dead as tornado strikes Auckland shopping mall - 3rd May 2011

Two people were killed while 20 others were injured after a tornado smashed Auckland, New Zealand. According to police reports, the twister destroyed the roof of Albany Megacentre shopping mall in North Shore City around three o’clock in the afternoon.

The victims of the catastrophe were brought to North Shore Hospital. Spokesman Paul Patton accounted that at least 20 were injured while another two were sent to Auckland Hospital.

The whirlwind, averaging 200 kilometers per hour, damaged a great number of houses and cars.

Rebel Sports’ Martin Sibrits said the tornado was huge."It was simply unbelievable, it was huge. I could set pieces of iron flying through the air, 100 meters up," he said.

Sibrits related that from his position it seemed as if the Placemakers Hardware Store gained the biggest hit. "That place is looking like a bomb site," he recalled.

Mainline Music’s Ross Sims said the tornado sounded like a jet engine."I thought, 'geez that plane is low' but when I looked outside it was this giant big black cloud," Sims said. Read More


EU considers reinstating national border controls - 1st May 2011

Brussels said on Sunday that national passport controls might be reintroduced across Europe to allow the "temporary" re-erection of borders between 25 countries.

Responding to intense pressure from Italy and France to tighten the no-borders system known as the Schengen regime, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, said he was looking at ways of satisfying the two countries' concerns. Paris and Rome are alarmed at an influx of migrants fleeing revolutionary north Africa.

In a letter to French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Barroso said that the commission would unveil new proposals on Wednesday on immigration policy, common European asylum procedures, and reform of the Schengen system.

The commission's proposals are to go to a summit of EU leaders next month, with France and Italy leading the charge for a partial renationalisation of border controls, a trend the commission would like to resist but looks too weak to counter.

The Franco-Italian push to place greater restrictions on the Schengen regime, launched last week after a furious row between Paris and Rome over refugees from Tunisia, has already won support from a handful of other EU countries, including Germany.

The Schengen system, introduced in 1995 after being agreed a decade earlier, abolished frontier checks between 22 EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, and is viewed by many of the 400 million Europeans concerned as one of the more tangible benefits of the EU. Britain and Ireland are not part of the system, insisting on retaining their national border controls. Read More

Fukushima parents dish the dirt in protest over radiation levels - 2nd May 2011

Furious Fukushima parents dump school playground earth that may have radiation levels well above the old safety level.

Furious parents in Fukushima have delivered a bag of radioactive playground earth to education officials in protest at moves to weaken nuclear safety standards in schools.

Children can now be exposed to 20 times more radiation than was previously permissible. The new regulations have prompted outcry. A senior adviser resigned and the prime minister, Naoto Kan, was criticised by politicians from his own party.

Ministers have defended the increase in the acceptable safety level from 1 to 20 millisieverts per year as a necessary measure to guarantee the education of hundreds of thousands of children in Fukushima prefecture, location of the nuclear plant that suffered a partial meltdown and several explosions after the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

It is estimated that 75% of Fukushima's schools may have radiation levels above the old safety level of 1 millisievert. The local authorities in Koriyama have tried to ease the problem by digging up the top layer of soil in school and day centre playgrounds, but residents near the proposed dump site have objected.

The new standard of 20 millisieverts a year – equivalent to the annual maximum dose for German nuclear workers – will mean those schools remain open, but parents and nuclear opponents are angry that safety concerns are being ignored. Read More