Monday, May 9, 2011

Libyan Capital Rocked By New Blasts -- largest NATO bombardment of the war; Breaking News

Five large explosions have rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli in what is the heaviest night of Nato bombing for over a week.

Shortly after 2am local time there were three loud explosions followed a few minutes later by two more blasts.

Windows in the hotel where international journalists are staying shook from the blasts.

The intended target or targets of the airstrikes is not yet clear, although early reports suggested the compound of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was targeted.

However Moussa Ibrahim, the Libyan government spokesman, told Sky News that he did not believe the Gaddafi’s compound had been hit.

“The strikes were in the centre of the city. They were administration buildings and official government buildings.” he said.

“These targets are not military. Why are they targeting them?” (read more)

Evacuations in Memphis as River Nears Crest

The Mississippi River was approaching levels it has not reached in over 70 years as it rolled through here on Monday, attracting a festive crowd of spectators to its banks but also sending residents out of their homes in some parts of the city as the river shoved its tributaries aside to make way.

By Tuesday morning, the level of the Mississippi is expected to reach 48 feet, which is 14 feet above flood stage, said Susan Buchanan of the National Weather Service. It will stay at or near this level for several days before receding as the crest moves downriver. (read more)

Hello Fascism! Security Checkpoints Near "Soft Targets" May Soon Become The Norm -- Day May Come When You'll Be Patted Down Going Into Stores

Counter terrorism experts say a retaliation attack for Osama bin Laden’s death is inevitable. Terrorists are expected to aim for more vulnerable soft targets like shopping malls or museums.

They are places jam-packed with people — pedestrian malls, shopping centers and stadiums.

“Yeah, I feel safe. But of course in the back of my head I know that things can happen,” one person told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

Counter terrorism expert Juval Aviv said terrorists seeking revenge for Osama bin Laden’s death will turn to attacks less dramatic than the destruction on Sept. 11 — focusing instead on soft targets like hotels, places of worship and mass transit hubs.

“It’s easier and less complicated to carry out,” Aviv said. “What they’re going to achieve if they’re successful is to kill as many people as possible.”

Security consultant David Boehm said the future could include security check points entering all soft targets — like your local department store. Boehm said even with a police presence, the areas are vulnerable.

“The reason they’re called ‘soft’ is because it’s so easily accessible to anyone. There has to be security checks for the safety of all people,” Broehm said.

Added security is a turn-off for some New Yorkers.

“There’s a police presence and they search someone with a backpack. Somebody that looks suspicious, but it’s random. I would go if that if that is the case; not if everybody is being searched,” one New Yorker said.

“It’s better to be safe than to be sorry,” another person said.

(read more)

Boehner demands not billions, but trillions in cuts as US Debt ceiling rapidly approaches -- an impossible deal?

Speaker John Boehner will call on Congress to offset a debt ceiling hike with spending cuts of a greater amount, an ambitious proposal that puts House Republicans on a collision course with Democrats who want much more modest spending restrictions attached to the vote.

“Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase,” Boehner plans to tell the Economic Club of New York here this evening, according to remarks obtained by POLITICO. “And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given. We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.”

Under Boehner’s vision, for example, Republicans would have to find more than $2 trillion in cuts if they wanted to raise the debt ceiling by that amount through 2012 — which is in line with Treasury’s estimates on the debt limit. But Republicans could also go for a more incremental increase in the debt ceiling, coupling that with a smaller offsetting cut in spending. Boehner’s preference is for immediate cuts, not promises to pare back spending in the future.

But by mentioning “trillions” in long term cuts, Boehner is clearly putting entitlement reform in play — including Medicare — since it would be near impossible to cut trillions without affecting entitlement spending.

Boehner will say that “everything is on the table … that includes honest conversations about how best to preserve Medicare, because we all know, with millions of Baby Boomers beginning to retire, the status quo is unsustainable. If we don’t act boldly now, the markets will act for us very soon.” (read more)

US house price drop accelerates as financial crisis deepens

US house prices have suffered their biggest quarterly fall since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, underlining the scale of the headwinds still facing the world's biggest economy.

Average house prices slumped 3pc in the first three months of this year, a decline that pushed the number of homeowners in negative equity – where a mortgage is higher than the value of a property – to 28pc from 22pc a year earlier, according to new research from Zillow, a major US property website.

American homeowners are enduring the first national drop in prices on record after the most recent boom drove up values and fuelled a boom in homebuilding. Average prices are 33pc below the peak they reached in July 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Schiller Index.

As in Britain, the outlook for prices remains uncertain.

That excess of supply has left repossessed homes accounting for between 30pc and 40pc of current sales, which is in turn driving prices lower.

"Home value declines are currently equal to those we experienced during the darkest days of the housing recession," said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. "Rising foreclosures and high negative equity rates make it almost certain that we won't see a bottom in home values until 2012 or later." (read more)

Misrata battle: 'Oh God, it's like a horror movie' -- Libya civil war grinds onward



NATO's secretary-general told CNN on Monday that Moammar Gadhafi and his regime "have no future," but refused to predict how long the Libyan leader could hold on.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen denied that the situation in Libya had devolved into a "stalemate," insisting that NATO was "making progress" and had "taken out" a substantial part of Gadhafi's military capability.

"I'm not going to guess about a timeline. I want a solution sooner rather than later," Rasmussen said.

"It's hard to imagine an end to the violence as long as Gadhafi remains in power," he said, stressing that a political solution was required.

Gadhafi's forces have been inflicting a heavy toll on rebels in the port city of Misrata, survivors there have told CNN.

Survivors in Misrata -- the only city in western Libya held by rebels -- described what the carnage inflicted by indiscriminate shelling has wrought: crushed bones, burns and amputations.

"They are shelling the port and civilian neighborhoods. It has become an operation of revenge, not just taking over the city of Misrata," said Ibrahim al-Neairy, a rebel who was injured in the fighting and evacuated to Benghazi.

Mostafa Bozen, a spokesman for the rebels, said fighters attacked Gadhafi's forces about 22 kilometers (14 miles) from Tripoli, killing 12 and hitting a tank. (read more)

TSA pats down baby and inspects diaper -- madness?

US Senator Schumer Calls For ‘Do Not Ride’ List For Amtrak

Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for better rail security now that the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound has turned up plans to attack trains in the U.S.

“Anyone, even a member of al-Qaida could purchase a train ticket and board an Amtrak train without so much as a question asked,” Schumer said. “So that’s why I’m calling for the creation of an Amtrak no ride list. That would take the secure flight program and apply it to Amtrak trains.”

Schumer said Sunday that he will push for the creation of a “do not ride” list for Amtrak. The list would be similar to the no-fly list that keeps those suspected of terrorism from flying into or out of the United States. (read more)

Greece suffers new downgrade amid debt fears

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has lowered Greece's bond grade further into junk status, citing risks that the country will have to negotiate an extension on its debt repayments.

S&P lowered Greece's bond long-term bond grade on Monday by two notches to B from BB-, with "negative implications" for future efforts to improve public finances. It cut the short-term rating to C from B.

The agency says Greece's creditors in the eurozone will likely extend the repayment period of the bailout loans, and that loans to commercial investors risk facing the same treatment.

European authorities have conceded they may need to do more to help Greece with its massive debts more than a year after it was first bailed out, but robustly denied the country wanted to leave the common currency.

Experts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are in Greece to check on the implementation of the economic reforms promised in return for euro110 billion ($160 billion) in rescue loans a year ago. They will also examine whether the current program will be enough to allow Athens to stand on its own feet again when the loans run out in 2013 — a scenario most investors think unlikely. (read more)

Will Osama Bin Laden cause another war even after death?

There has never been such an opportunity for the U.S. government to stage a false flag event in order to start yet another war as there is today. The set up is obvious to libertarians and some sane others, but it eludes most all Americans who are busy dancing in the street after the so-called killing of Osama bin Laden.

Consider the timing of this attack by U.S. Navy SEALs, and then consider recent events. First, the economy is in shambles, unemployment is sky high, price inflation is excessive, and the U.S. military has been bombing civilians in an attempt to assassinate Gaddafi, including murdering innocent little children. Our money is being destroyed before our eyes. The wars are not going well for the ruling elite, and Obama’s ratings are horribly low at the beginning of his presidential crusade. One very important factor is that criticism of these wars has been growing at an accelerated pace. Hatred of the insidious TSA is also becoming much more evident. While civil liberty destruction is still rampant, it is being questioned more often, and with increased intensity.

What better reason then for an event to solidify the masses, and put them on guard for the now coming "terrorist" attacks due to the death of bin Laden. This stone kills a lot of birds it seems, and in my opinion this is no coincidence. In a matter of a few hours, the serfs were in the streets carrying flags, and screaming "God bless the U.S.A." All the media was abuzz with fervent displays of renewed patriotism.

But what came next should have been expected. We were told that the scourge of the east was dead. One would think that the head of the monster had been forever severed, and that the war would end, but that would not be the case. The politicians and talking heads in the media immediately went on the offensive, and stated that we should be even more vigilant in the war on terror because there will be more attacks due to bin Laden’s death. Hillary Clinton began her talk this morning by praising the troops for their "courage and commitment." Yes, the troops had once again become our saviors, literally pulling us from the mouth of the beast. In her next statement she strongly exclaimed "we will continue taking the fight to al Qaeda and their Taliban allies." She next talked about even more massive interference and imperialistic goals. "All over the world we will press forward, bolstering our partnerships, strengthening our networks, investing in a positive vision of peace and progress, and relentlessly pursuing the murderers who target innocent people." (Emphasis added) Really! The U.S. killing machine is going after all those who target innocent people, and all over the planet? That is hypocrisy beyond understanding. (read more)

The Financial Doomsday Scenario

Consider this doomsday scenario:

Catastrophic impacts felt by every American.

A broad range of government payments stopped, limited, or delayed, including military salaries, Social Security, and Medicare payments, interest on debt, unemployment benefits, and tax refunds.

Sharply higher interest rates and borrowing costs, declining home values, and reduced retirement savings for Americans.

In sum, a financial crisis more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover.

My words? Not a single one!

They are all taken directly from a widely distributed Treasury Department letter dated exactly one week ago.

The letter is addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner.

The signer is Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

And his single purpose is absolutely clear:

To implore Congress to act urgently — to raise the nation’s debt limit and let the federal government continue borrowing to its heart’s content. As long as Congress can agree to that one piece of legislation, goes the appeal, the United States can avoid the doomsday scenario with no further ado. (read more)

Breaking News: 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake WEST OF MACQUARIE ISLAND - 9th May 2011

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck West of Macquarie Island at a depth of 1 km (0.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:54:42 p.m. UTC Monday.
The epicenter was 730 km (453 miles) WSW of Macquarie Island, Australia

No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. - No reports of damage

Ratings agencies hammer Greece Further into Junk Territory to B in EU chaos - 9th May 2011

Credit ratings agencies hammered Greece on Monday after senior euro zone policymakers acknowledged that Athens will need a second bailout package soon to avert a disorderly overhaul of its debt obligations.

Officials said the European Union was also looking to lower interest rates on rescue loans to Ireland within weeks and eyeing easier bailout terms for Greece as the common currency area floundered deeper into crisis.

But ratings agency Standard & Poor's suggested far more radical measures would be required to make Greece's 327 billion euros ($470 billion) debt mountain sustainable, saying Athens may have to reduce the face value of its bonds by up to 70 percent, implying big losses for investors.

S&P downgraded Greece's credit rating further into junk territory to B, just one notch above Pakistan's, hitting Greek bank stocks as investors sought safety in German bonds. The euro slid to its lowest level in three weeks against the dollar.

Moody's Investor Service threatened to downgrade Greece by several notches, placing Athens' B1 sovereign rating on review due to increased worries that it might seek to impose losses on private bondholders. Read More

The Psychedelic Majesty of the Lagoon Nebula Displayed in all its Multi-Coloured Glory - 6th May 2011

Things have come a long way since the late '60s re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey promised a hippy audience 'the ultimate trip'.

Quite what they would have made of an image as psychedelic and, more importantly, as real as this is anyone's guess.

The Lagoon Nebula - aka Messier 8 - is among the most striking examples of a stellar nursery in Earth's region of the Milky Way.

Its fuzzy glow reveals the type of chaotic environment where new stars are born.

And the nebula is so close, it is visible using a small telescope or even a pair of binoculars.

Argentine astronomers Julia Arias and Rodolfo Barbá constructed this dramatic new image of Messier 8 using the Gemini South Telescope in Chile.

It is located 5,000 light-years away. The region is sometimes referred to as the Southern Cliff, because it resembled a sharp drop-off.

Beyond the cliff, light from a spattering of young background stars in the upper-left of the image shines through the cloudscape.

Arias and Barbá obtained the imaging data to explore the evolutionary relationship between the newborn stars and what are known as Herbig-Haro (HH) objects.

HH objects form when young stars eject large amounts of fast-moving gas as they grow.

This gas ploughs into the surrounding nebula, producing bright shock fronts that glow as the gas is heated by friction and surrounding gas is excited by the high-energy radiation of nearby hot stars.

The researchers found a dozen of these HH objects in the image, spanning sizes that range from a few thousand astronomical units - about a trillion kilometres - to 4.6 light-years, a little greater than the distance from the sun to its nearest neighbour Proxima Centauri.

The picture is a composite of individual images obtained with two narrow-band optical filters sensitive to hydrogen (red) and ionised sulphur (green) emission, and another that transmits far red light (blue).

It reveals in dramatic detail a glorious cloudscape of dust and gas surrounding this nursery of intermediate- and low-mass stars. Read More

Electrocuted and beaten with hooks: Shocking new video shows mistreatment of Water For Elephants star Tai - 9th May 2011

She stars alongside Resse Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in the latest Hollywood film Water For Elephants.

But as this shocking video shows, Tai the elephant has been mistreated by the trainers that made her a star.

In the secret footage, released by charity Animal Defenders International (ADI), the elephant is seen being given electric shocks with hand held stun guns and being beaten with bull hooks.

She can be heard crying out in pain when she is shocked into performing a headstand. Tai is not the only elephant that is mistreated in the video.

Others are shown having their tusks sawn off - apparently without anaesthetic - while a baby is dragged around by its trunk.

ADI claim the baby later died of its injuries. Another young elephant is shown being hooked through the lip.

The charity alleges the abusive trainers in the video worked on the set of Water for Elephants and has sent copies of the footage to the film's stars and makers.

The charity's CEO Jan Creamer said that the video was truly shocking and that the public had been 'duped'.

She said: 'I believe that Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson will be horrified to learn what Tai went through. Read More

Movie star electric shocked from Animal Defenders on Vimeo.


Elzie Warren, 70, and 54-year-old Phyllis Ridings die in plane wreck... four years after they narrowly escaped death in air crash - 9th May 2011

A father and daughter who only just escaped death four years ago when they suffered a plane wreck have now tragically died in another air crash.

Elzie Warren, 70, and 54-year-old Phyllis Ridings were on their way to the Central Texas Airshow in Temple when they noticed smoke in the cockpit and the plane crashed.

They had only just taken off in their single-engine Ravin 500 plane when, a minute later, there were problems and the aircraft exploded near to Montgomery Country Airpark near Conroe.

According to Federal Aviation Administration reports, the aircraft crashed and blew up while trying to make it back to the airport.

FAA investigators will work with National Transportation Safety Board staff to determine the reason for Saturday morning's crash.

Erik Burse from the Department of Public Safety told Chron, in Houston, Texas: 'They requested an emergency landing and turned the aeroplane around.

'They tried to make it back to the runway, but crashed at 8.55am.'

The Ravin 500 kit plane crashed in a heavily wooded area and to reach the wreckage local firefighters and the Texas Forestry Service had to bulldoze a path, Mr Burse said.

Friend of the family John McFarling said: 'He put it down the best place he could.

'A good pilot like Bud kept it out of somebody's house. He did exactly what he was supposed to.' Read More

Rageit Almurisi tackled for battering on cockpit as aeroplane comes in to land at San Francisco - 9th May 2011

Crew members and passengers wrestled a 28-year-old man to the cabin floor after he began pounding on the cockpit of a plane approaching San Francisco.

The man was yelling unintelligibly as he brushed past a flight attendant about 10 minutes before American Airlines Flight 1561 from Chicago was due in on Sunday night, police said.

Rageit Almurisi, 28, carried a Yemen passport, but his nationality wasn't clear, a spokesman said. The incident is the third scare of the weekend for U.S. air passengers.

The motive was unknown but the suspect had no known ties with terrorism, he said.

It was a male flight attendant who tackled the suspect, and other crew members aided as the suspect banged on the cockpit door.

'He asked for help; a couple of passengers joined in,' said the spokesman. 'They were able to get him to ground and a flight attendant put him in plastic handcuffs.'

The Boeing 737 carrying 162 people landed safely at 9:10pm and Almurisi was taken into police custody.

He was charged with interfering with a flight crew - a federal offence.

During the scuffle, Almurisi sustained some bruises and was checked at a hospital before being transported to San Mateo County Jail, the officer said.

It was the third terrifying incident for air passengers over the weekend. Read More

TWO OTHER SCARES IN THE AIR PAST 3 DAYS

A 34-year-old Illinois man went berserk aboard Continental Airlines Boeing 737 from Houston to Chicago and tried to open the door at 35,000ft, but Vietnam veteran and martial arts expert tackled him from behind.

A Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit to San Diego was diverted to Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a flight attendant found a note in the lavatory with the word 'bomb'. FBI agents ushered the passengers and crew to safety.

OTHER U.S. SECURITY SCARES

  • A man slipped into the PATH tunnel at the World Trade Center in New York and walked all the way to Jersey before saying he had left a bomb in the tunnel
  • Police blocked off several streets in the Bronx, New York, as the NYPD bomb squad investigated a parked SUV
  • The Mockingbird DART station and the surrounding area in Dallas, Texas, were evacuated on Saturday after a police dog alerted authorities to suspicious packages
  • Four people were arrested at Denver International Airport after staff noticed someone videotaping security lines
  • A picture of a little baby being patted down by security staff at Kansas City Airport was posted on Twitter

Fact or Fiction - Ancient Aliens "Alien Contacts" - 9th May 2011

Extraterrestrials may have contacted various humans throughout history, such as Moses and Joan of Arc, to help guide and inspire them to achieve great things; or to pass on important messages for humanity; such as a supposed binary message given to a UFO-contactee during the 1980 Rendlesham Forest incident who believes it is the coordinates to a mythical island called Hy-Brazil.




Syrian forces use soccer stadiums as prisons, human rights groups say - 9th May 2011

Syrian security forces were using soccer stadiums as makeshift prisons in at least two cities Monday after raiding homes and arresting hundreds of residents, the directors of two human rights organizations said.

In addition, security forces burst into homes and took residents into custody in the Damascus suburb of Modemiyah, where there were reports of gunfire Monday, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, state media reported that 10 people were killed and three were wounded Sunday when gunmen attacked a bus in Homs, a province where clashes broke out between security forces and protesters over the weekend. The state-run Syrian news agency called the attackers an "armed terrorist group."

More than 400 people have been arrested in Banias since Saturday, Abdul-Rahman said, adding that authorities had converted the Mediterranean city's soccer stadium into a prison to house them.

In the southern city of Daraa, the hub of Syria's six-week uprising, another human rights organization observed a similar situation.

"In Daraa, there have been so many arbitrary arrests in recent days that the army and security forces are using schools and the city's soccer stadium as makeshift prison facilities," said Ammar Qurabi, chairman of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.

CNN could not independently confirm the reports. The heads of both organizations are not in Syria but remain in close contact with activists and protesters there. Read More

Earthquake shifted Japan’s land mass, leaving coastal areas under water at high tide

ISHINOMAKI, Japan — When water begins to trickle down the streets of her coastal neighborhood, Yoshiko Takahashi knows it is time to hurry home.

Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by her front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle.

“I look out the window, and it’s like our houses are in the middle of the ocean,” says Takahashi, who moved in three years ago.

The March 11 earthquake that hit eastern Japan was so powerful it pulled the entire country out and down into the sea. The mostly devastated coastal communities now face regular flooding, because of their lower elevation and damage to sea walls from the massive tsunamis triggered by the quake.

In port cities such as Onagawa and Kesennuma, the tide flows in and out among crumpled homes and warehouses along now uninhabited streets.

A cluster of neighborhoods in Ishinomaki city is rare in that it escaped tsunami damage through fortuitous geography. So, many residents still live in their homes, and they now face a daily trial: The area floods at high tide, and the normally sleepy streets turn frantic as residents rush home before the water rises too high.

“I just try to get all my shopping and chores done by 3 p.m.,” says Takuya Kondo, 32, who lives with his family in his childhood home.

Most houses sit above the water’s reach, but travel by car becomes impossible and the sewage system swamps, rendering toilets unusable. Read More

Man Killed In West London Shooting - 9th May 2011

Police are investigating the killing of a man who was shot on Monday afternoon in Kensington in west London.

The shooting happened in broad daylight at Lakeside road at around 4pm.

Police officers and an air ambulance were called to the scene but the man was already dead.

Though the victim has yet to be identified detectives believe he was in his 20s.

No arrests have been made yet and police have appealed for anyone with information to call 0300 123 1212.

More to follow... Source

Major polluters say 2011 climate deal "not doable"

The world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters do not expect a legally-binding deal to tackle climate change at talks in South Africa in December, two leading climate envoys said on Wednesday.

U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern and European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard played down the chance of a breakthrough after a meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF), an informal group of 17 countries including the world's top polluters, China and the United States.

"From what I've heard in these last two days, the conclusion must be that it is highly unlikely that the world will see a legally binding deal done in Durban," Hedegaard told reporters.

"Not that they do not think it's important -- but there is just this feeling that it's simply not doable for Durban." (read more)

Skirmish shuts down Beijing Apple store -- where's the anger that half the population is enslaved to work? Are modern priorities skewed?

In China, Apple products are hot. Long lines of eager customers and swarms of lurking scalpers are typical each time Apple launches a new product here.

The release of the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 last weekend was no exception. However, sales on Saturday hit a speed bump when foreign Apple employees and Chinese customers were caught in a scuffle outside one of Apple's Beijing stores.

According to witnesses, a Chinese man thought to be a scalper -- a buyer who makes multiple purchases to resell at higher prices -- tried three times to cut into a long line of customers waiting to buy the newly-released white iPhone 4 in Beijing. Three Apple security guards and an Apple manager attempted to escort the individual away from the store. Two of the employees were foreigners.

As the man was taken away, witnesses said a shoving match erupted, involving an Apple employee and a member of the alleged scalpers' family. When the situation escalated, Apple security guards shut and locked the front door of the store.

In protest, a group rushed the entrance and shook the glass door until it shattered. A metal hinge was seen falling from the door, hitting a security guard on the head. Two men and two women suffered minor injuries in the clash, state media reported. (read more)

U.N.: About 68 bodies found in more Ivory Coast mass graves

Forensic experts have unearthed about 68 bodies from another cluster of mass graves in war-torn Ivory Coast, a United Nations spokeswoman said Monday.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, said human rights investigators found a total of 10 mass graves in the Yopougon district, near the country's commercial capital of Abidjan, over the weekend.

According to U.N. investigations, the Yopougon killings appear to be related to an April 12 massacre in which supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo staged an attack on supporters of Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo's unwillingness to hand over power to Ouattara after last year's presidential election -- even after Ouattara was recognized internationally as the winner -- resulted in months of violence.

In April, U.N. teams found more than 200 bodies buried in a mass grave in the western town of Duekoue.

More than 1,000 people have died following the contested 2010 presidential election that pitted Ouattara against Gbagbo.

Ouattara was sworn in Friday as president of Ivory Coast, ending the months-long political standoff.

Shamdasani said the Ivory Coast government has been cooperative in helping investigators search for clues, some of which may incriminate Outtara supporters as well as Gbagbo supporters.

"When we apply pressure, they do respond," she said. (read more)

Syrian forces use soccer stadiums as prisons, human rights groups say

Syrian security forces were using soccer stadiums as makeshift prisons in at least two cities Monday after raiding homes and arresting hundreds of residents, the directors of two human rights organizations said.

In addition, security forces burst into homes and took residents into custody in the Damascus suburb of Modemiyah, where there were reports of gunfire Monday, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, state media reported that 10 people were killed and three were wounded Sunday when gunmen attacked a bus in Homs, a province where clashes broke out between security forces and protesters over the weekend. The state-run Syrian news agency called the attackers an "armed terrorist group."

More than 400 people have been arrested in Banias since Saturday, Abdul-Rahman said, adding that authorities had converted the Mediterranean city's soccer stadium into a prison to house them. (read more)

Army Corps battles to keep Mississippi floodwaters out of New Orleans



Waging war on a flood of historic proportions that has already affected thousands in eight Midwestern and Southern states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flooded a spillway Monday north of New Orleans in an effort to calm the rising Mississippi River.

A crowd gathered near the entrance to the Bonnet Carré Spillway to watch cranes slide open the gates to the flood control system, which was built beginning in 1929 after a devastating flood.

Upstream in Memphis, Tennessee, residents and authorities anxiously waited for the Mississippi to crest at a near-record 14 feet above flood stage.

And in between, their counterparts in Mississippi and Louisiana continued to prepare for the flooding under the protection of a system of levees and flood gates that Corps' officials said were holding up well considering the unprecedented pressure they are enduring.

"This water that we're seeing coming by is moving 2 million cubic feet per second," said Corps of Engineers Col. Vernie Reichling of the situation on Sunday outside Memphis. "To use an analogy, in one second that water would fill up a football field 44 feet deep."

That means there's no time to relax, said Col. Ed Fleming, commander of the Corps' New Orleans District.

"There is no doubt that we are stressing the system," he said. "These are historic flows." (read more)

Flooding in Brandon prompts evacuation notice: Canada

A mandatory evacuation notice has been issued for 900 homes in Brandon, Man., due to the threat of severe flooding that has sent Canadian troops to areas in western Manitoba.

"The evacuation notice has been issued, and now they should start preparing to leave because it's not a drill," said Mayor Shari Decter Hirst.

Evacuations will begin immediately in the area from 4th Street North to 26th Street North, from McDonald Avenue to the Assiniboine River, said a City of Brandon news release on Monday morning.

The area is on the city's north side, but south of the river.

All residents are expected to vacate their properties by 8 p.m. local time.

"They have until 8 o'clock tonight on the 'Flats' of Brandon, which is what we're doing right now first because it's the lowest area," said Decter Hirst.

"And the folks on the north side of the river will be there probably tomorrow [Tuesday], but they might as well start making those arrangements now."

While it's a precautionary evacuation, there is great concern about the coming crest, which is expected to arrive on Thursday. (read more)

China's Ghost Cities -- Impending real estate bubble and credit crunch? The Real China #8

Banks don't look at names, signatures on cheque -- lax Canadian banks security puts Canadians at risk

A group of B.C. condominium owners is upset Canada's largest credit union allowed the treasurer of their complex to cash about $50,000 in cheques that were payable to others.

"It just upsets me that this much money could be taken … that one person could do this over the years and get away with it," said Don Wright, the current treasurer of the strata, or condo association.

Records suggest Vancity credit union allowed the treasurer to deposit numerous cheques into his personal account.

Some of the cheques were written to the Maple Ridge, B.C., association. Some were written to other parties, on the association's chequing account.

None of the cheques was payable to the treasurer, but all were deposited into his account over a 10-year period.

"He endorsed them as if they were written to him — and put his own bank account number on the back," Wright said. "The longer he got away with it, the larger the amounts of money that he stole." (read more)

New Madrid Fault Line: The Edge of Potential Disaster

It holds more power than an atomic bomb, yet it rattles little more than a tea cup these days.

Centered beneath the sandy soil near the Mississippi River, the New Madrid earthquake fault stretches across five states.

Its namesake is a sleepy town of 3,000 in southeast Missouri at the heart of the fault. Its claim to fame: a series of violent earthquakes that happened 200 years ago.

New Madrid takes its notoriety in stride. Just talk to some of the locals.

You'll learn while some admit to praying every night, they don't plan on budging from the edge of potential disaster.

Anchored to the Mighty Mississippi, this town often mimics the river's way of life: quiet, lazy, but not without a fault.

Tucked mostly unnoticed, and thousands of feet below the southeast Missouri town, is one of the country's most destructive forces.

"It's basically a fault line from St. Louis to Memphis," says Bob Hedgepeth.

The New Madrid Historical Museum holds the best historical account of the quakes that rattled the country's midsection in 1811 and 1812..

"The river flowed backwards," says Julia York.

"It rang church bells in Boston and shook homes in New Orleans," adds Virginia Carlson.

Witness accounts described four violent eruptions that changed the landscape. Each one topped 7 on the Richter Scale -- nearly as powerful as those that rocked Japan.

No one knows when it might shake again. (read more)


New Rural Sales Pitch: Work Outside Washington D.C.'s Fallout Zone ; 2008, a premonition? -- Buried but not forgotten

Winchester and its neighbors along Interstate 81 in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley have much to recommend themselves to potential employers, including a low cost of living, access to a major highway and views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.

More recently, though, the area has been successfully trumpeting another attribute: It is just outside the "blast zone."

In a little-noticed migration with implications for both greater Washington and the valley, several federal agencies, including the FBI, are relocating operations to the I-81 corridor. Helping drive the shift is the government's emphasis on security in a post-Sept. 11 world, which turns Winchester's location 75 miles from Washington into a geographic ideal. It is far enough from the capital to escape the fallout of a nuclear explosion -- a distance often estimated at 50 miles -- but still close enough so that employees can get to the District relatively easily when they need to.

"There's a certain distance they need to be out from the strike zone -- and Winchester is outside of that," said Jim Deskins, economic redevelopment chief for the 26,000-person city.

The moves represent a level of dispersal even beyond other recently announced federal moves, including the military's planned relocation of 22,000 jobs from the District and inner suburbs to Fort Belvoir in southern Fairfax County and the FBI's relocation of its Northern Virginia field office from Tysons Corner to Manassas. Local officials and planners have criticized those moves, saying they will worsen sprawl and traffic congestion by moving jobs away from downtown and mass transit.

Whether the moves to the I-81 corridor raise similar concerns is a matter of debate. Federal officials argue that the valley is not only more secure, it's preferable for planning and budget reasons. The cost of land and labor are lower in the valley, and with workers moving into the fringes of Northern Virginia and even West Virginia in search of affordable homes, moving operations to a place such as Winchester could mean shorter commutes for many. That, in turn, could mean lower turnover and a more productive workforce.

Leading the shift is the FBI, which chose Winchester over other towns of similar distance from the District as the site for a big centralized archive that by 2009 will employ at least 1,200 people, many of them now working in Washington and Baltimore. Some employees already are working in a temporary facility outside Winchester, a nondescript building that used to hold a printing firm and is now studded with security cameras and bollards.

FEMA has chosen a farm just outside town for an operations center that will employ 700 people. Local officials say this would include positions moved from Mount Weather, the government's hilltop emergency center on the border of Loudoun and Clarke counties, so that that facility could be devoted to national security instead of natural disasters. (read more)

Newt Gingrich To Bid For Obama's Job and the list of opponents continue to grow as America enters into greater unrest - 9th May 2011

Newt Gingrich To Bid For Obama's Job and the list of opponents continue to grow as America enters into greater unrest is to launch a bid to become the Republicans' candidate for the 2012 presidential election, his spokesman has confirmed.

The former speaker for the US House of Representatives is set to formally announce his candidacy on Twitter and Facebook before speaking at a Republican Party gathering in his home state of Georgia on Friday.

To kick-off his campaign, Mr Gingrich will give an interview to television station Fox News on Wednesday, followed by a speech on Saturday at Eureka College in Illinois, where Ronald Regan studied.

"We're all in," said his spokesman Rick Tyler.

Mr Gingrich led the "Republican revolution" during the 1994 midterm elections, which came up with a series of promises, dubbed the "Contract with America".

The pledge led to the Republican Party gaining control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate while Democrat Bill Clinton was still president.

However, Mr Gingrich later resigned in 1998 after the Republicans failed to make big gains in the congressional elections, despite the sex scandal engulfing Mr Clinton at the time.

The 67-year-old has remained an influential Republican voice, even working as a paid analyst for Fox News, many believe his presidential bid will be unsuccessful. Read More

Hurricane hits South China, killing 4 - 9th May 2011

A hurricane has swamped south China in the past two days. The hurricane which struck Foshan City in Guangdong Province led to the collapse of a 2,000 square meter food factory, killing 4 people and injuring 17 others.

Heavy rainfall also hit the tourist city of Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Sunday, flooding farmland, cutting off roads and trapping travelers.

Local officials have ordered enhanced monitoring over potential reservoir breaches, landslides and mud flows. The Central Meteorological Observatory said on Sunday that most parts of China will have rainfall and it will last until Thursday. Source

Emily Longley, 17, Found Dead just Three Days after she Revealed she had a Stalker - 9th May 2011

A pretty blonde teenager has been found dead three days after revealing she had a stalker.

Emily Longley, 17, told friends on Facebook: ‘I have a stalker!’ before adding she had been bombarded by calls from a mystery man who wanted to date her and that she was ‘really scared’.

The student, from Auckland, New Zealand, wrote: ‘Someone just called me. They were like “You don’t know me but I know everything about you”.

‘He kept asking me out. I hung up and they won’t stop calling.’

‘And I was like “how did you get my number?” and he was like “I’ll tell you when I see you”.'

Emily, who had previously worked at TopShop, was found dead on Saturday morning at home of her former boyfriend.

A spokesman for Dorset police said: 'A 19-year-old man was arrested at the scene in connection with the death.

'A 17-year-old man was also arrested on Saturday night at another address in Bournemouth. We can confirm that both men were known to the dead girl.

'They have both been released without charge on police bail.'

Emily’s father Mark says his daughter apparently died in her sleep but the cause of her death remains a mystery, the New Zealand Herald reported.

‘It is a huge shock to us, and Caroline [Emily’s mother] and I are going to England to try and find out what happened,’ he said.

‘She was a beautiful girl and full of life, it is so tragic.’

The Brockenhurst College student had just flown back to the UK after enjoying an Easter holiday with her parents in New Zealand. She had been living with a relative in Bournemouth for eight months.

Facebook tributes have been pouring in, with her sister Hanny writing: ‘RIP beautiful big sis xx.’

Her friend Hannah O’Gilvy said: ‘I need her so badly right now and she’s gone. I just wish I could have been there for her. I want her to come back. I wish she didn’t go to England.’

Dorset police have described the death as ‘unexplained’. Read More