Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kim Jong-Il heads for Beijing for third secretive meeting this year -- what is going on behind the scenes?

A special train carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il headed southwest Saturday after passing through this industrial city, raising speculation that he may have a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing, sources said.

Kim, who left Changchun, an industrial city in northeastern China, earlier Saturday, had been expected to stop over in Shenyang for inspection of industrial facilities. However, his train passed through the city's train station at around 7 p.m. and sped away in the direction of Beijing, said multiple sources, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A train trip between Shenyang and Beijing usually takes six to seven hours, which means that the reclusive North Korean leader may arrive in the Chinese capital early Sunday morning, if it is his next destination.

Kim toured a car plant Saturday morning in Changchun, the second stop on his secretive trip to China.

In what appears to be a trip with focus on economic cooperation with China, the 69-year-old North Korean leader began the secretive journey on Friday after crossing the border. On early Saturday, he toured a car plant in Changchun of China's second-largest automaker by sale, FAW.

Kim's trip, his third in one year, has been shrouded in secrecy. Although his presence in China has been photographed by media, neither China nor North Korea has confirmed it. The two countries usually confirm the leader's trip only after it's over apparently due to security concerns. (read more)

North Sudan army takes control of Abyei as two Sudans drift towards war

North Sudan's army appears to have gained control of the main town in Sudan's disputed Abyei region after fierce fighting with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), UN and rebel sources said.

UN officials saw 15 tanks of the Sudanese Armed Forces, the northern army, on Saturday in parts of the key town Abyei where earlier mortars slammed against a UN base, Hua Jiang, the UN spokeswoman said on Saturday.

One of those mortar rounds exploded, but there were no casualties among UN personnel, Jiang said.

"The SAF have entered (the town) Abyei, there is still fighting but they have come with tanks, they are shooting and shooting," said SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer.

"Our police have been fighting but the SAF have sent many soldiers in," he added, speaking by phone from Juba, the capital of southern Sudan.

He said northern forces bombed at least four villages on Saturday afternoon in continuation of last week's attacks.

Aguer added that two of the bombed villages were Todach and Tagalei which had been already hit on Friday - a reference to the southern army's allegations that the northern army had begun bombing Abyei that day after previous clashes on Thursday.

Sudanese state television’s news bulletin said the SAF expelled "enemy forces" to the south on Saturday evening. (read more)

George W. Bush: Set world on fire, now makes $15 million is speaking tours; didn't visit 9/11 but had time for speaking tours in same week

Former U.S. President George W. Bush racked up at least $15 million by delivering nearly 140 paid speeches since leaving office in Jan. 2009, according to reports.

Bush spokesman David Sherzer told local news that he earned average fees of between $100,000 and $150,000 per speech.

Though the numbers are high, Bush’s predecessor, former President Bill Clinton, earned even more.

By the end of 2009 -- nine years after Clinton’s final term -- the former president had earned $65 million in speaking fees, which included $7.5 million for 36 paid speeches in 2009 alone, according to CNN’s analysis of wife Hillary Clinton’s 2010 financial disclosure report. Clinton earned $208,000 per speech on average for 2009.

Bush’s relatively high income on the speaking circuit comes after he declined to visit Ground Zero on May 5 with Barack Obama following the death of Osama bin Laden.

Bush gave three paid speeches that week, according to reports. (read more)

The Venezuelan Missile Crisis: The Parallels Hold Up

If one checks on stories dealing with Venezuela, the most prominent item concerns an autographed guitar by the Colombian singer Shakira. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan strongman, claims that the guitar was dedicated to the Venezuelan ruler by the singer. Not so, claim Shakira's entourage. 6 guitars were signed and given to the concert organizers and one of them found its way back to Chavez without any intention on Shakira's part of dedicating a guitar to him.

There are other topics of concern, such as the Venezuelan economy, the electricity shortage and the view from the Caracas slums.

All these stories and particularly the Shakira guitar are undoubtedly of major importance, but it is still perplexing to see that the scoop published by the reputable German newspaper Die Welt last Thursday is not making more waves. According to the German paper, the Iranian Revolutionary guards are constructing missile bases on Venezuelan territory 120 miles from the Colombian border. These missile bases will be deep below ground to protect them against a potential strike. The story is exciting conservative bloggers and has been picked up by several news sites.

The story should be read in the context of reports that the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr built by Russia is operational and that Iran and North Korea have collaborated on nuclear programs. (read more)

May 21st brings nothing but disappointment and suffering to hundreds of thousands -- follow no one, and always ask questions and seek the truth!

The May 21st doomsday prophecy by Harold Camping, the man who should be ashamed of himself for bilking hundreds of thousands of people out of their money (and faith), has amounted to absolutely nothing.

What will become of the hundreds of thousands of honest believers who followed him, sold all their property and gave to him all their hope? Will they start over? Will he use some of his $72 million in wealth to help reconstruct their lost lives? Will we see a wave of suicides?

We posted many questions on The Coming Crisis regarding this supposed Judgement Day event. Not one -- not a single one -- of this group even bothered to answer a single one of those questions. Will any come forward now to admit they were wrong?

What should become of Harold Camping for misleading so many? Should he be stripped of his assets, jailed, or worse for what he's done to so many innocent lives? What will become of these people's faith? Will they give up the Bible because of one man's erroneous and self-serving teachings? Maybe it's time to stop listening to Harold, and start listing to what Jesus actually said, even if one isn't a believer.

We call upon any of his defenders to come forward and answer for what has been done. We also call upon each and every one of our readers to reaffirm our cause: that we must never follow any suspicious leaders, belong to any cults, and always, always keep our minds open and full of questions lest we fall into the same trap. Religious events aren't the only ones that cause false and disastrous followings.

For those who did take the wrong path and now feel they have nothing left -- the Coming Crisis is more than willing to take your letters should you need someone to talk to. We don't mind at all.

Keep your eyes and ears open everyone: there's a million other Harolds lurking in the shadows and ready to snatch up your next donation dollar, and perhaps your very life.

-- Matt & Lynsey



Drought leaves 1,400 reservoirs 'dead' in China

A lingering drought in Central China's Hubei province has rendered 1,392 reservoirs virtually useless as only dead water remains in them, said the local water authority Monday.

Known as the "land of a thousand lakes" and a major producer of grain and cotton in the country, Hubei is suffering from a drought that has lasted for five months.

As of Sunday, water in four medium-sized and 1,388 small-sized reservoirs had dropped below the allowable discharge level for irrigation and other purposes, said Yuan Junguang, director with the reservoir management office of Hubei Provincial Water Resources Department.

One fourth of all small-sized reservoirs in Hubei were unusable with just dead water remaining in them which could only be pumped for use in an emergency, he said.

The water level of the Danjiangkou Reservoir, which is part of China's massive south-to-north water diversion project, was also extremely low, measuring 134.77 meters on Saturday, 4.23 meters below its dead water level.

Also as of Saturday, the drought had left about 315,000 people and 97,300 livestock in the province short of drinking water. About 12.45 million mu (about 830,000 hectares) of farmland has been affected by the drought, according to a survey conducted by the Hubei provincial agricultural department.

"Ever since Spring Festival in February, we've had no drinking water in the village. It's now a routine for us to carry water in from about two kilometers away," says Yu Youqing, 73-year-old farmer in the village of Huashan in Hubei. (read more)


France in crisis as drought deepens: Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet

France has imposed limits on water consumption in 28 of its 96 administrative departments, the environment ministry said Monday, amid signs that a prolonged dry spell that has hit grain crops would continue.

"We are already in a situation of crisis. The situation is like what we would expect in July for groundwater levels, river flows and snow melting," Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told a press conference.

The government had previously put 27 departments under water consumption limits, and Kosciusko-Morizet said Monday that similar measures could be extended to three more -- effectively affecting a third of the country.

One of the hottest and driest Aprils on record in France has parched farmland and cut water reserves, stoking worries of a drought similar to that experienced in 1976 and fuelling concern harvests will suffer in the European Union's top grain producer.

No substantial rainfall is expected in the next two weeks, weather expert Michele Blanchard told Monday's press conference.

In an interview with Reuters Insider, Meteo France forecaster Michel Daloz said that temperatures would also rise sharply in the next week, boosting groundwater evaporation.

"It would really need a miracle, which is three weeks of heavy rain after the coming 8-10 days (of a dry spell), to hope to make up for some of the deficit," Daloz said. (read more)

Vast Mongolian shantytown now home to quarter of country's population

t is a supreme irony in a country once known as the land without fences. Stretching north from the capital, Ulan Bator, an endless succession of dilapidated boundary markers criss-cross away into the distance.

They demarcate a vast shantytown that sprawls for miles and is now estimated to be home to a quarter of the entire population of Mongolia.

More than 700,000 people have crowded into the area in the past two decades. Many are ex-herders and their families whose livelihoods have been destroyed by bitter winters that can last more than half the year; many more are victims of desertification caused by global warming and overgrazing; the United Nations Development Programme estimates that up to 90% of the country is now fragile dryland.

Yet with limited education, few transferable job skills and often no official documents, most end up simply waiting, getting angry with the government and reminiscing about nomadic lives past. Many take to alcohol.

"More and more people arrive every year and there are so few jobs available," said Davaasambuu after queueing for 30 minutes to collect his family's daily drinking water from one of 500 water stations that dot the slum. "Nothing has changed in my neighbourhood since the last election [in May 2009]. There have been no new jobs or improvements. One little bridge has been added in the last four years, that's it," he said. (read more)

Big Agriculture doesn’t want you to care about pesticides

The produce lobby is livid that consumers might be concerned about pesticides. They are taking their fury out on the USDA for its annual report on pesticide use (via The Washington Post):

In a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 18 produce trade associations complained that the data have "been subject to misinterpretation by activists, which publicize their distorted findings through national media outlets in a way that is misleading for consumers and can be highly detrimental to the growers of these commodities."

This report happens also to be the basis for the Environmental Working Group's popular "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists of fruit and vegetables with the most and least pesticide residues. The produce lobbyists are pretty steamed about those, too:

"There are some organizations with agendas that do want to scare people away from fresh produce," said Kathy Means, a vice president at the Produce Marketing Association, a major industry group. "We don't want anyone eating unsafe foods, of course. But for those products that are grown legally and the science says [the pesticide] is safe, we don't want people turning away."

Never mind that many consumers want this information. As with labels for genetically modified food, the industry's position is that ignorance leads to bliss (or at least profits!). The industry maintains that even the Dirty Dozen show pesticide residues beneath EPA limits, and to them, the letter of the law is what matters. Of course, if you believe that pesticides are more dangerous than government scientists are willing to admit then these limits are insufficient. Then there's the whole concept of synergistic effects -- combinations of several pesticides in small amounts can deliver a greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts toxic punch. (read more)

Fisheries collapse in a pattern unlike that seen on land

Conservationists desperately want to minimize the impact of overfishing on the oceans and their inhabitants. Doing so requires defining which species are most at risk, and so far, that has not been done on a global level. In terrestrial ecosystems, large-bodied species and top predators seem to be the most susceptible to human impacts; it has been assumed that the same holds true in the water. However, a recent report in PNAS indicates that this is not the case.

Pinsky et al. analyzed two independent fisheries databases, collectively describing 578 species over 60 years, to figure out which life-history traits might correlate with population collapse. They looked at a number of traits that had previously been shown to cause vulnerability to human activity in the seas, including large body size, late maturity, long lifespan, low fecundity, high parental involvement in offspring (large egg diameters), and high trophic levels (being at the top of the food chain).

Contrary to what they expected, they found that almost twice the percentage of smaller, low trophic-level fish stocks had collapsed compared to large top predators. They could not find a correlation between collapse and any of the life history traits they examined, in any combination.

Small fish that live near the surface tend to have rapid growth rates and are highly catchable, so are particularly at risk of being overfished. They can also have a "fast" life history strategy that led people to erroneously believe they were less vulnerable to overfishing. Perhaps this disparity with the situation on land is precisely because fisheries had been targeting these smaller fish, assuming that their populations were more resilient than they actually are.

The fast growth rates and short generation times might also render these short-lived species particularly sensitive to environmental variability. There are plenty of these examples. Summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) and Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) are two short-lived species with stocks that collapsed; herring (Clupea pallasii) is a small, fast growing species with a stock that collapsed. Winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) and chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) are other delicious species low in the food chain that also collapsed. (read more)

You Have No Idea What Mowing Your Lawn Is Doing To The Planet

Imagine a scenario where tens of millions of Americans are condemned by their own illusions to hours of hot, sweaty, grueling unpaid labor every week involving expensive and potentially dangerous chemicals, ear-shattering machines and fuels that pollute the air and water.

This isn't some nightmarish dystopian science-fiction plot. It's happening right now as this nation's suburban homeowners renew their unending and damaging war against nature to preserve, protect and pamper the foreign organisms that make up the American lawn.

“It's a constant battle to keep a lawn a lawn,” says Judy Prill, an analyst with the state Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Pollution Prevention. “If you let it go, it will grow back into a forest. … That's what it wants to do here in New England.”

If you're skeptical about the potential harm this lawn obsession can do, consider the following: Americans reportedly dump more than 80 million pounds of pesticides and other chemicals onto their lawns and gardens every year. Aside from the potential risks for people and animals coming into direct contact with this toxic crap, pesticides get washed into streams and rivers, ending up as marine pollution in vital places like Long Island Sound.

The EPA also estimates that 5 percent of all air pollution in the U.S. is caused by lawnmowers and leaf blowers, and that Americans spill something like 17 million gallons of gasoline every year while attempting to fill up their lawn machines. That's more than the Exxon Valdez spilled up in Alaska. (read more)

Brazil: Amazon rainforest deforestation rises sharply

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has increased almost sixfold, new data suggests.

Satellite images show deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011, Brazil's space research institute says.

Much of the destruction has been in Mato Grosso state, the centre of soya farming in Brazil.

The news comes shortly before a vote on new forest protection rules.

Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the figures were "alarming" and announced the setting up of a "crisis cabinet" in response to the news.

"Our objective is to reduce deforestation by July," the minister told a news conference.

Analysts say the new figures have taken the government by surprise.

Last December, a government report said deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had fallen to its lowest rate for 22 years.

However, the latest data shows a 27% jump in deforestation from August 2010 to April 2011.

The biggest rise was in Mato Grosso, which produces more than a quarter of Brazil's soybean harvest. (read more)

Mississippi River Flooding: Pollution, Fertilizers, Sewage in the Flood Waters; ABC News Does its Own Testing



The great Mississippi River flood of 2011, cresting south of Memphis today, carries a mix of fertilizer, oil, pesticides, trash and farm runoff as it flows toward the Gulf of Mexico, say public health officials.

Some of it is nasty stuff, and officials say people are wise to be careful. They urge people not to touch the water unless they're wearing rubber boots and gloves, and wash thoroughly if they get wet.

"There could be a lot of untreated sewage coming downstream," said Wilma Subra, an environmental scientist and activist in Louisiana who has tangled with oil and chemical companies. "People need to be aware."

ABC News arranged some testing of its own, taking water samples from two places along the river to a laboratory near Memphis. E. coli and coliform -- commonly found in untreated waste water -- were 2,000 times acceptable limits. The lab did not find gasoline, oil or chemical toxins. There were trace levels of heavy metals, but no more than would be found ordinarily, the lab reported.

Subra said she would be concerned if the giant Morganza Spillway were opened upriver from New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It would protect the cities, but flood the wetlands of southern Louisiana. And it could be a health issue as people return to flooded homes to clean up. (read more)

Ocean Acidification: Killing Marine Life

The acidification of the world's oceans could have major consequences for the marine environment. New research shows that coccoliths, which are an important part of the marine environment, dissolve when seawater acidifies.

Associate Professor Tue Hassenkam and colleagues at the Nano-Science Center, University of Copenhagen, are the first to have measured how individual coccoliths react to water with different degrees of acidity.

Coccoliths are very small shells of calcium carbonate that encapsulate a number of species of alga. Algae plays an important role in the global carbon-oxygen cycle and thus in our ecosystem. Our seawater has changed because of our emissions of greenhouse gases and therefore it was interesting for Hassenkam and his colleagues to investigate how the coccoliths react to different types of water.

"We know that the world's oceans are acidifying due to our emissions of CO2 and that is why it is interesting for us to find out how the coccoliths are reacting to it. We have studied algae from both fossils and living coccoliths, and it appears that both are protected from dissolution by a very thin layer of organic material that the algae formed, even though the seawater is extremely unsaturated relative to calcite. The protection of the organic material is lost when the pH is lowered slightly. In fact, it turns out that the shell falls completely apart when we do experiments in water with a pH value that many researchers believe will be the found in the world oceans in the year 2100 due to the CO2 levels," explains Tue Hassenkam, who is part of the NanoGeoScience research group at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. (read more)

Egypt on brink of bankruptcy and starvation as revolution fails to take hold

Egypt is running out of food, and, more gradually, running out of money with which to buy it. The most populous country in the Arab world shows all the symptoms of national bankruptcy - the kind that produced hyperinflation in several Latin American countries during the 1970s and 1980s - with a deadly difference: Egypt imports half its wheat, and the collapse of its external credit means starvation.

The civil violence we have seen over the past few days foreshadows far worse to come.

The Arab uprisings began against a background of food insecurity, as rising demand from Asia priced the Arab poor out of the grain market (Food and failed Arab states, Asia Times Online February 2, 2011). The chaotic political response, though, threatens to disrupt food supplies in the relative near term. Street violence will become the norm rather than the exception in Egyptian politics. All the discussion about Egypt's future political model and its prospective relations with Israel will be overshadowed by the country's inability to feed itself. (read more)

Breaking News: 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND - 21st May 2011

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake has struck Kermadec Islands, New Zealand at a depth of 19.8 km (12.3 miles), the quake hit at 21:17:01 UTC Saturday 21st May 2011.
The epicenter was 103 km (64 miles)
L'Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand
No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. No reports of Damage as yet.

Harold Camping, the FALSE Prophet, with Millions in donations: Has he gone into Hiding?

In a few hours May 21, 2011 6 p.m., the appointed time for Doomsday, will have passed, irrespective of whichever time zone we are in, thereby proving that the prediction made by Harold Camping is false. No wonder Camping has gone into hiding and it is improbable that he will be showing himself to the public anytime soon without a good excuse.

Camping, the president of a popular Christian broadcasting company Family Radio, made public announcements that on May 21, 2011, 200 million people will disappear into heaven and series of earthquakes that would make the Japan’s earthquake “look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison” would strike various parts of the world, signaling the beginning of the End. Those left behind are predicted to suffer the disasters until October 21, 2011 when the world would be totally destroyed.

Although Camping has been denounced countless times – both by Christian leaders and atheists – Camping continued his belief that “without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen.”

Camping claimed to have based his calculations on Bible verses. Combining Genesis 7:4 ("Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth") and 2 Peter 3:8 (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”), he came to the conclusion that the Doomsday – May 21, 2011 – will take place 7000 years after the Great Flood (4990 B.C.).

4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7000 (the subtraction of “1” from the equation is due to the fact that there is no year 0 between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D.).

However, nothing that signifies Camping’s End Time prediction is taking place.

The world is expecting to hear something soon from Camping or he risks being branded as a false prophet. Especially Camping’s followers will be demanding an explanation as they had put all their faith in Camping’s prediction, quitting jobs, selling their possessions and donating all their money to support the Doomsday campaign. Others are probably going to simply shrug and dismiss him as a mad man, which probably many of them have already started doing.

Is Camping going to turn up and say he made a mathematical error again, just like when his earlier prediction on the End Time failed in 1994? (Camping made a prediction in 1994 that the world will end in September 1994, but he said he made a “mathematical mistake” and delayed the Doomsday to May 21, 2011)

But there is no way around of saying there is a “mathematical” mistake in “4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7000” Source

Volcanic Eruption has started in Grímsvötn, Iceland - 21st May 2011

It is now confirmed that an eruption has started in Grímsvötn in Vatnajökull Glacier. The smoke from the eruption can be seen from many places in south Iceland according to RÚV television.

Geologists have been expecting an eruption in Grímsvötn this year and hence the eruption will not be a surprise. Sveinbjörnsson said that a flood in Skeidarársandur was to be expected following an eruption. Before any further predictions would be made on a flood, the exact location of the eruption would have to be figured out.

The public safety commission has been notified. “We have sent a warning to England so that flight routs can be adjusted if necessary.”

Eruptions in Grímsvötn are quite frequent, every ten years on the average and are generally short and small. Source

Update: For the Person who left the Comment about this not being true:

Reuters: 21st May 2011 A volcano erupted under Iceland's biggest glacier Saturday, but geologists played down the likelihood it would cause the same disruption to air traffic as one that exploded in a different area last year. Link

News New Zealand 22nd May 2011- Stuff - Iceland volcano erupts, flight risk played down
Link

UPI 21st May 2011- Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano erupts Link

ABC News 21st May 2011 - Powerful volcano erupts in Iceland Link

Washington Post 21st May 2011 - Scientists say new eruption starts at Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano Link

After Months of Calm, Iceland Seismic Swarm is Back with a Vengance with 76 Earthquakes registering in Past few Hours - 21st May 2011

Omer Ninham, now 27 Life Sentence Upheld as Judges tell him, 'Society thinks you got what you deserve' - 21st May 2011

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld a decision to send a man to prison for life after he was convicted of throwing a boy off a parking ramp when he was 14 years old.

Omer Ninham, now 27, had appealed his sentence, calling it 'cruel and unusual'.

Society, the judges declared today, does not agree.

The Supreme Court ruled that neither the state nor the U.S. has any statue prohibiting life sentences without parole for 14-year-olds in homicide cases.

The lack of homicide life sentences for children across the country doesn't mean society thinks its wrong, judges said - only that juveniles rarely kill people.

In Ninham's case, the punishment fit a crime that 'cannot adequately be reduced into words,' the opinion said.

It's a decision closely watched by psychiatrists, family advocates and defence attorneys.

'We... confirm what objective evidence already informs us: Contemporary society views the punishment as proportionate to the offence,' Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler wrote for the majority.

Ninham was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide for his role in the death of 13-year-old Zong Vang in Green Bay in 1998. Ninham was 14 at the time.

Ninham and four others between the ages of 13 and 14 accosted Vang while the boy was riding his bike home from the grocery store with a bag of tomatoes for his family.

According to court documents, Ninham and another member of the group started teasing Vang, then punched him. Vang ran into a nearby hospital parking ramp, where the group cornered him on the top floor.

Ninham and a friend seized Vang by the wrists and ankles. As Vang cried and screamed, they threw him over the edge. He fell five stories to his death. Read More

Theron Wayne Johnson, 'drags his girlfriend to death after tying her to his truck by a rope around her neck' - 21st May 2011

A Texas man has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after she was allegedly dragged behind his car by a rope around her neck.

Theron Wayne Johnson is alleged to have sped off after his girlfriend placed the noose over her head and tied it to the bumper of his pickup truck.

The 47-year-old told police he and his girlfriend, who has not been named, had been arguing.

Police found the victim in a field in the rural town of Weston in Collin County with the rope still attached to her and to the bumper of a vehicle.

Johnson claimed the victim had placed the rope around her neck, but police have yet to determine if he is telling the truth.

It is unclear how far the woman was dragged, or the extent of her injuries.

A medical examiner is determining the cause of death but it is thought likely to be strangulation or blunt-force trauma caused by the dragging.

'We're not sure exactly,' said Collin County Sheriff John Norton.

'We're sure they were involved in an argument prior to her death, but we're still not sure what occurred.'

Norton said investigators are in the process of contacting the victim's next of kin and cannot release her identity or information that might reveal her identity.

Jaeson Thornton, a neighbour, said of the victim, 'A great loss. She was a good person.'

Police received two emergency calls regarding the woman's horrific death. One was from Johnson and the other was from a relative.

Johnson was charged with first-degree murder and held without bail at the Collin County Detention Center. Read More

Timmothy Pitzen, 6, Goes Missing after mother commits suicide in hotel room - 21st May 2011

A desperate hunt is underway for a six-year-old boy who went missing after his mother committed suicide.

Timmothy Pitzen, from Aurora, Illinois, has not been seen for a week after he and his mother left for a road trip.

They were heading to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, but the boy's mother Amy, 43, killed herself at a hotel in Rockford, Illinois, last Saturday.

She had left behind a suicide note, saying her son was 'okay' and with people 'who care about him'.

However, she did not specify who the individuals looking after him were.

Now the FBI are involved in the nationwide search for the little boy.

Timmothy, described as 4ft 2 and weighing 70 pounds, lived with Amy and his father Jim.

Mr Pitzen told Fox 8: 'I don't know why my wife did what she did.

'I don't know where my son is. It's just terrifying for me to know he is there with somebody I don't know.'

The boy's grandmother added: 'We believe he's alive. We believe that she told someone to watch him and that she would be back.'

Timmothy, who has brown hair and brown eyes, was last seen wearing green shorts and a Spider-Man backpack.

Anyone with information is being urged to call the Aurora Police Department on (630) 256-5500. Read More

Jose Guerena a Former Marine Shot SEVENTY-ONE Times by Swat Team in front of his Wife - 21st May 2011

Jose Guerena, 26,survived two tours of duty in Iraq as a marine, only to be gunned down in a hail of 71 bullets in his own Tucson, Arizona home, while his wife and four-year old son hid in a nearby closet.

Mr Guerena's wife, Vanessa, said she heard her husband moaning as he lay dying, his body struck by 60 of the bullets.

Ms Guerena told ABC News: 'I saw his stomach, all the blood on the floor'.

She said her goal now is to 'clear his good name'. Ms Guerena said their son Joel keeps asking about his deceased father, 'Is he a bad guy?'

The Tucson SWAT team responsible for the May 5 house shooting defends its actions, saying the team was conducting a multi-house drug investigation based on a search warrant when they saw Mr Guerena aiming an assault rifle at them.

At first, the SWAT team had said Mr Guerena fired first, but then they retracted that statement, saying he had left the safety on. Read More


China Arnold, narrowly escapes death penalty after conviction for 'cooking' her month-old baby to death in microwave oven - 21st May 2011

LinkAn Ohio woman convicted of killing her month-old baby daughter in a microwave oven was spared the death penalty and sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman sentenced China Arnold, 31, of Dayton, who psychologists testified showed no signs of serious mental illness.

Arnold declined to make a statement during her sentencing.

Arnold was convicted last week of aggravated murder by the same jury that recommended her punishment. Jurors deliberated about six hours Thursday and Friday.

Prosecutors say Arnold intentionally put 28-day-old Paris Talley in a microwave and turned it on after a fight with her boyfriend. The couple had argued over whether the boyfriend was the infant's biological father.

Defense attorney Jon Paul Rion argued that the evidence pointed as much to the boyfriend as it did to the child's mother, who Mr Rion said was drunk at the time.

After Friday's hearing, Mr Rion told the Dayton Daily News he would appeal. He did not immediately return a message left at his office by The Associated Press.

The prosecutor's office had no immediate comment.

Medical experts testified that the baby died quickly after her temperature reached between 107 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. They said she probably was in the microwave for more than two minutes.

Dr. Marcella Fierro, retired chief medical examiner for Virginia, said: 'She died because she was overheated. She was cooked'.

It was Arnold's third trial in her daughter's 2005 death. Her first trial ended in a mistrial when new witnesses surfaced just before closing arguments. Read More

Girl, 11, becomes pregnant and contracts STD 'after being raped in YMCA sauna by day camp counsellor' - 21st May 2011

An 11-year-old girl became pregnant after allegedly being raped in a YMCA sauna by a day camp counsellor who had been supervising her.

The girl, who went on to give birth to the child, also contracted a sexually-transmitted disease in the alleged attack last July.

She was allegedly assaulted twice by a 17-year-old worker and gave birth in March. Her mother had no idea of the pregnancy or the alleged rape until December, when she noticed her daughter's stomach had grown.

The family of the girl, who is now 12, claim the YMCA was negligent, especially because the second assault was witnessed and reported by a lifeguard working there.

The family have now filed a civil lawsuit in state Supreme Court.

Attorney John Elmore said: 'The lifeguard reported it to management. The management did not report it to police.

'They believed the perpetrator, who claimed he didn't do it.'

Elmore said the girl's parents were only told by the YMCA that there had been an incident but did not know it involved sexual contact.

'Her mother did not know she was pregnant until December, when she noticed her stomach was large,' the attorney said.

Elmore said the girl, from New York State, went months without prenatal care and contracted a sexually transmitted disease, which also went untreated.

He added that a criminal case is pending against the counsellor, but declined to identify him.

A statement from the YMCA to WIVB-TV, which first reported the case, said an employee had been removed because of inappropriate conduct between a camper and the worker.

'There was no report of rape or pregnancy to the YMCA until late April 2011 upon the arrival of a summons from the law firm,' the statement said. Read More

People power: Thousands defy Spanish protest ban as demonstrations go on into the night - 21st May 2011

An order by the Spanish government banning protests after midnight last night was held up to ridicule when tens of thousands of demonstrators continued protesting after the curfew supposedly kicked in.

Yesterday was the last day for candidates to campaign for the election for municipal and regional government positions in much of the country. Citing the mandatory end of campaigning, the national election commission banned protests today and tomorrow - voting day.

But as city clocks chimed the beginning of a new day, thousands of demonstrators condemning government spending cuts - stood their ground. Some kept quiet, many with sticky tape over their mouths in a gesture to illustrate they were being gagged by the ban.

The government avoided saying if it would order police to break up the crowds in the early hours of this morning, but at the stroke of midnight officers kept a discreet presence on the edges of the demonstrations.

People are angry over Spain's high unemployment rate and what they see as the national political parties' ineptitude in dealing with a deep economic crisis.

Protesters built a camp in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square last Sunday, a week ahead of nationwide elections. Since then good-natured, peaceful and colorful gatherings have sprung up and grown around the country under the banner of 'Real Democracy Now'. Read More

Astronauts carry out inspection of space shuttle after Nasa photos reveal damage to critical heat shield tiles - 21st May 2011

Nasa has ordered Endeavour's crew to take a close look at a damaged tile on the space shuttle's delicate heat shield this morning.

Using a robotic arm, astronauts are now scrutinising a gouge on the shuttle's underbelly with a camera and laser attached to a boom.

The location and size gives engineers some confidence that the damage is not the type that caused the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. They also note that similar damage on Endeavour in 2007 - coincidentally commanded by Scott Kelly, brother of current commander Mark Kelly - turned out not to be a problem.

LeRoy Cain, chairman of the shuttle mission management team that decided to order what's called a 'focused inspection', said the operation was being conducted out of an abundance of caution and will not cause any disruption to the crew or its 16-day mission to the International Space Station.

The damaged tile was spotted in photos snapped by the station crew just before the shuttle linked up on Wednesday. Initially, the photos showed seven sites with dings or gouges, but six of them were further analysed and turned out not to be a problem.

The one site that remains a concern is the size of a deck of cards, just below the rear landing gear, but Cain said it is so unlikely that the gouge will be problematic that Nasa is not even considering a plan to fix the tile in flight. NASA can repair damaged tiles using a souped-up version of a caulking gun during a spacewalk.

'There's nothing alarming here and we're not really concerned,' Cain said. Read More

Dutch Catholic Church launches investigation after revelation priest, 73, worked for group that promotes paedophilia - 21st May 2011

The Dutch Catholic Church and the Salesian order are investigating revelations that a Salesian priest served on the board of a group that promotes paedophilia with the full knowledge of his boss.

The order's top official in the Netherlands, Delegate Herman Spronck, confirmed in a statement that the priest - identified by RTL Nieuws as 73-year-old 'Father Van B.' - served on the board of a group that campaigns to end the Dutch ban on adult-child sex.

The group is widely reviled but not outlawed.

'Of course we reject this and distance ourselves from this personal initiative' on the part of the priest, Spronck said in a statement.

'Membership in such organizations does not fit with the ethos of the Salesian order.'

However, Spronck's own superior in Belgium said he will investigate both Spronck and Van B., after both men were quoted by RTL Nieuws as saying such relationships aren't always harmful.

Superior Jos Claes told Belgian television on Saturday he 'couldn't imagine' that both men would not be disciplined, but said he must make sure of the facts first.

'Society thinks these relationships are harmful. I disagree,' RTL quoted Van B. as saying. He served on the organisation's board from 2008 until 2010, when its founder was arrested for alleged possession of child pornography, a case that is ongoing.
Van B. told RTL he remains a member of the group and now lives in a retirement home in eastern Netherlands.

In a second interview, RTL quoted Spronck as saying he was aware of Van B.'s paedophilia and membership, and even of two instances where the priest had been fined by police for exposing himself in public. But he said he didn't think that was sufficient reason to ban him from the order. Read More

Bomb goes off outside building society in Londonderry, Northern Ireland - 21st May 2011

There has been an explosion on a shopping street in Northern Ireland, police said.

It happened at Shipquay Street, Londonderry, this afternoon.

The area was evacuated at the time and there are no reported injuries, a Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said.

Northern Ireland has been on high alert for dissident republican attack for some time.

Last month Constable Ronan Kerr, 25, died when a booby trap device exploded under his car in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

There have been a series of attacks on police officers and police stations in the North West, including Derry.

The Queen has just finished a four-day state visit to the Irish Republic which was heavily policed.

Sinn Fein Cllr Gerry MacLochlainn said it was a bomb attack on a building society.

'Thankfully this was a small device and no injuries and no serious damage was caused and the people who carried out the attack need to realise that they have been rejected by the republican community and should desist immediately,' he added.

Councillor MacLochlainn condemned the attackers.

'The attack on a building society will not affect the global financial institutions nor the constitutional position of the North of Ireland but will seriously jeopardise jobs in the local economy,' he added.

'Not only are the jobs in the local branch now at risk but we will also have an effect on the tourism industry with people feeling Derry is unsafe to travel to.

'The city centre will now be closed for the rest of the day on what is the busiest shopping day of the week and the only people being disrupted by this attack are the citizens of this city.'

A police spokesman said: 'There has been an explosion in Shipquay Street in Derry.

'The area was evacuated at the time and there are no reports of any injuries.

'The security operation is continuing.' Read More

New Al-Qaeda chief pledges major attack on London to avenge Bin Laden's death - 21st May 2011

Osama Bin Laden's replacement as leader of Al-Qaeda is planning a major terrorist attack on London, ordering his followers to 'crush' the city.

Soon after being officially appointed caretaker chief of the terrorist group, Saif al-Adel vowed to avenge the death of his former boss.

'Our new leader has asked for a big plan for London,' Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said. 'He believes the UK is the backbone of Europe and must be crushed.'

Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders met near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan to confirm the new role for al-Adel, 51, who was once Bin Laden's security chief, The Sun reported.

In response to the heightened threat on London, British Transport Police (BTP) are to be given the power to carry weapons on the capital's trains, stations and the underground for the first time.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will next week announce the plan, which is aimed at deterring the threat of another terrorist attack.

The BTP, which protects the rail, tube and urban metro system, has 2,900 officers and the proposals involve giving around 100 of them firearms training.

Security officials are particularly concerned about the possibility of an attack like that in November 2008 in Mumbai when gunmen attacked hotels and the city's main railway stations, killing nearly 200 people.

The news comes as the Manchester 'Easter shopping' bomb plot has been linked directly to Bin Laden for the first time. Read More

NATO fuel tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 15 - 21st May 2011

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Militants in northwest Pakistan blew up a tanker carrying oil for NATO forces in Afghanistan on Saturday, and a secondary explosion killed 15 people as a group gathered to try to siphon off some of its fuel. Another bombing damaged 14 NATO tankers in a nearby border town, but no one was hurt.

A Pakistani Taliban group claimed responsibility for both attacks, underscoring the threat to vehicles that carry non-lethal supplies for Western troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan — a threat that could grow more acute in the wake of the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden in northwest Pakistan.

The explosions coincided with the publication of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables indicating that U.S. Special Forces provided intelligence and other assistance to the Pakistani army as it fought Taliban forces in 2009. It was the latest evidence that the U.S. troops did more than just train Pakistanis, as was publicly claimed.

The explosions occurred overnight in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region, an area that numerous trucks carrying supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan must traverse, local administrator Abdul Nabi Khan said.

In the Landi Kotal area of Khyber, a tanker caught fire after a bomb blast. Once it seemed the blaze was controlled, people tried to take the tanker's fuel. Another blast then occurred, killing 15 people and wounding one, Khan said.

The 14 tankers damaged in the other bombing were parked at Torkham, a town along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Torkham has witnessed many attacks on the U.S.-NATO supply line.

A man who claimed to be a spokesman for the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, a Taliban group, called journalists in the northwest city of Peshawar to say the group was behind the attacks. The goal was to stop the U.S. from launching more missile strikes in Pakistan's northwest, said the man, who declined to give his name in line with his group's policy.

U.S. and NATO commanders insist the attacks in Pakistan barely affect their operations. But in recent years, the military units have tried to reduce their dependence on Pakistan routes, increasingly using roads running through Central Asian countries and relying on supplies to be flown in.

U.S.-Pakistani relations are at a low point over the unilateral May 2 American raid that killed bin Laden in the northwest Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad. Pakistan is angry that it was not told in advance of the raid and says it did not know the al-Qaida chief was hiding in the area.

In the wake of the raid, Pakistan's parliament has demanded that the U.S. stop its missile strikes, and warned that the government may cut off the supply route altogether if the strikes don't end. On Saturday in Karachi, around 5,000 Pakistanis led by former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan protested the missile strikes.

But there have been multiple missile strikes since the bin Laden slaying, a sign that the U.S. is unwilling to abandon what it considers a highly effective weapon against insurgents that hide in Pakistan and threaten Western troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistani leaders' positions on the missile strikes and other U.S. involvement in the region are murky, with growing evidence that officials condemn any such "violations of sovereignty" in public while privately backing them. Read More

Barney Frank: U.S. government default likely

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Newton) says America might have to default on its bills for the first time ever because Democrats and Republicans can’t agree to raise the government’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

“I’m pessimistic about anything reasonable (winning congressional approval) in the near term,” Frank, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, told the New England Council in a Boston speech today. “It may be that we’re going to have to see some failure to raise the debt limit and some temporary hiatus in our ability to pay our bills (for lawmakers to act).”

The U.S. government officially hit its congressionally mandated debt ceiling on Monday when the nation’s red ink reached $14.3 trillion.

Uncle Sam only avoided defaulting on his debts because U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner used accounting tricks to keep the government solvent until Aug. 2.

But unless Congress raises the debt ceiling by then, the government will run out of money to pay its bills — including principal and interest on Treasury bonds, which investors have long considered risk-free.

Geithner and others have warned that markets the world over could melt down if America skips payments on its bonds. (read more)

Spain protests continue despite court ban -- tens of thousands enraged as country heads for chaos

Spanish youths on Saturday protested across the country for a seventh day over the economic crisis, in defiance of a 48-hour ban ahead of local elections.

Thousands of people crammed into the center of Madrid, as well as many other cities, angry over soaring unemployment rates.

As a ban ordered by Spain's election commission took effect at the chimes of midnight, the protesters chanted: "Now we are all illegal" and "the people united will never be defeated," according to Agence-France Presse.

The supreme court's decision to overturn an appeal against the ban came two days ahead of local and regional elections that are scheduled across the Iberian nation. The ruling meant no such protests could legally occur on Saturday.

This follows a ruling from late Thursday, when Spain's electoral board said that the demonstrations, organized largely via social media networks, would be banned on Saturday. That day is supposed to be a "day of reflection" for voters -- the idea being that there should be no campaigning immediately preceding Sunday's balloting -- the board said. (read more)

Libya says NATO causing humanitarian crisis

Libyan officials sounded alarm Saturday over NATO bombings of three ports which they said would trigger a crisis by limiting the movement of supply ships carrying critical supplies in and out of the war-torn nation.

NATO jets destroyed eight Libyan warships in the ports of Tripoli, Al-Khums and Sirte after concluding that Col. Moammar Gadhafi had started using naval assets to lay mines and international hamper humanitarian aid, said Mike Bracken, NATO's military spokesman.

Libyan officials said, however, that the airstrikes violated the United Nations resolution mandating the protection of civilians, said Amran al-Forjani, Libya's chief coastguard commandant. He called the operation a "crazy attack."

No deaths or injuries were reported.

Bracken said at a Friday news conference that the NATO strikes were justified. (read more)

Texas politicians knew agency hid the amount of radiation in drinking water



Newly-released e-mails from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality show the agency’s top commissioners directed staff to continue lowering radiation test results, in defiance of federal EPA rules.

The e-mails and documents, released under order from the Texas Attorney General to KHOU-TV, also show the agency was attempting to help water systems get out of formally violating federal limits for radiation in drinking water. Without a formal violation, the water systems did not have to inform their residents of the increased health risk.

“It’s a conspiracy at the TCEQ of the highest order,” said Tom Smith, of the government watchdog group Public Citizen. “The documents have indicted the management of this commission in a massive cover-up to convince people that our water is safe to drink when it’s not.”

Smith is talking about what happened to residents who live in communities served by utilities like Harris County Municipal Utility District 105. For years, tests performed by the Texas Department of State Health Services showed the utility provided water that exceeded the EPA legal limit for exposure to alpha radiation. (read more)

All Around The World, People Are Screaming For DEFAULT: Why bank stocks are getting hammered


The fact that people in Spain are chanting about wanting to be more like Iceland emphasizes something profound that's happening all around the world.

At all levels, people are talking about now wanting to pay their debts. People want bondholders haircutted in Ireland, the Greeks want to screw the banks, and yes... even in the United States of America, where debt costs are anything but onerous, there are politicians who think that a default and a crisis would be a good thing for the country.

Between that, and growing regulatory scrutiny, the huge underperformance of financial stocks (here's the XLF vs. SPY) is not hard to understand. (Source)

Scientists Discover Bedbugs Carrying MRSA Germ In Study

Hate insects? Afraid of germs? Researchers are reporting an alarming combination: bedbugs carrying a staph “superbug.”

Canadian scientists detected drug-resistant staph bacteria in bedbugs from three hospital patients from a downtrodden Vancouver neighborhood.

Marie, who was visiting from Kentucky, said the thought of bedbugs made her skin crawl.

“I thought..why should they scare us? Maybe I should start getting scared,” she said.

Sofia said looking for the creepy, crawly critters was all a part of her routine, which includes checking bedding carefully before her head hits the pillow.

“I think about them, but we haven’t encountered any. We haven’t found any, but I think about them when we go,” she said.

Bedbugs have not been known to spread disease, and there’s no clear evidence that the five bedbugs found on the patients or their belongings had spread the MRSA germ they were carrying or a second less dangerous drug-resistant bacteria.

However, bedbugs can cause itching that can lead to excessive scratching. That can cause breaks in the skin that make people more susceptible to these germs, noted Dr. Marc Romney, one of the study’s authors. (read more)

US official: growing threat from solar storms

A senior official at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says solar storms pose a growing threat to criticial infrastructure such as satellite communications, navigation systems and electrical transmission equipment.

NOAA Assistant Secretary Kathryn Sullivan says the intensity of solar storms is expected to peak in 2013 and countries should prepare for "potentially devastating effects."

Solar storms release particles that can temporarily disable or permanently destroy fragile computer circuits.

Sullivan, a former NASA astronaut who in 1984 became the first woman to walk in space, told a U.N. weather conference in Geneva on Tuesday that "it is not a question of if, but really a matter of when a major solar event could hit our planet." (Source)

Doctors Refusing to Treat Overweight Patients: US

Fifteen obstetrics-gynecology practices out of 105 polled by the Sun Sentinel said they have set weight limits for new patients. Some of the doctors said the main reason was their exam tables or other equipment can't handle people over a certain weight, but at least six said heavy women run a higher risk of complications.

"People don't realize the risk we're taking by taking care of these patients," the newspaper quoted Dr. Albert Triana of South Miami as saying. "There's more risk of something going wrong and more risk of getting sued. Everything is more complicated with an obese patient in GYN surgeries and in [pregnancies]," he told the newspaper.

It is not illegal for doctors to refuse overweight patients, but it has medical ethicists worried. So far, the weight cutoffs have been enacted only by South Florida ob-gyns, who have long complained about high numbers of lawsuits after difficult births and high rates for medical-malpractice insurance. (S0urce)

How the US government will seize your retirement account

Following in the footsteps of a rather ignominious list of nations like Argentina and Hungary, the government of lreland is set to take its ‘fair share’ of private retirement funds.

Drowning in debt and faced with unpopular, unrealistic, ridiculously unpopular austerity measures, the government has announced that it will now tax private pension savings in order to raise 470 million euros (roughly $675 million) per year… a lot of money in a country of only 4.4 million people.

Somehow, the government expects to be able to create 100,000 jobs to bring down an unemployment rate at 14.7%. Perhaps they plan on hiring 100,000 new workers to go around the country and collect the tax.

It reminds me of what I saw in Bolivia a couple of weeks ago– there’s a tax or toll or fee for nearly everything you do. Driving on the highway (if you can call it that) outside of Santa Cruz, you pay a toll… obviously not for the maintenance of the road, but to pay the salary of the toll collector.

At the airport, you have to pay an airport tax before departure… obviously not for the upkeep and efficiency of the airport (it took 2-hours to make it to my gate), but to pay the salaries of the guys who collect the airport tax.

This is what politicians consider ‘job creation,’ yet these positions only serve to destroy value. That they would stick up the retirement funds of hard working people is even more immoral.

Here’s the best part, though. If you are a government worker in Ireland, your pension is exempt. They’re only going after people in the private work force. It’s truly disgusting logic to force private workers to pay for years of political incompetence while absolving government employees. (read more)

The Fluoride Deception exposes the truth about water fluoridation



he Fluoride Deception is the latest mini documentary from Mike Adams, executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center. Through the use of animation and motion graphics, it exposes the truth about where fluoride really comes from: The toxic byproducts of the phosphate mining industry!

Here is the transcript of this documentary:

Fluoride. Dentists say that drinking it can protect your teeth against cavities. Cities and towns all across the world actually dump it into the water supply, hoping to indiscriminately medicate the population through their tap water faucets.

The official story on fluoride sounds wonderful: Drink the stuff, and you won’t get cavities, we’re told. It’s a nice story. But there’s another side to this story — the side you’re never told. And it starts with the astonishing but verifiable fact that nearly all the fluoride dripped into municipal water supplies isn’t naturally occurring fluoride at all.

In fact, it’s actually a combination of hexafluorosilicic acid and sodium silicofluoride. (read more)

Thirty dead as thunderstorm lashes Utter Pradesh, India - 21st May 2011

Saturday morning thunderstorm left over 30 people dead in west and central parts of Uttar Pradesh. The storm lashed many parts of UP including Noida, Ghaziabad, Shahjahanpur, Badayun, Meerut, Bulandshahr, Lakhimpur Kheri and Lucknow.

While 15 persons were reported to have died in Shahjahanpur in various accidents due to uprooting of trees and wall collapse during thunderstorm, 11 deaths were reported from Lakhimpur Kheri and five from Bdayun.

The thunderstorm also hit the power supply at many places. Electricity poles were damaged and power lines were snapped. Traffic was also badly affected due to uprooting of trees. The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each for the families who lost their kin.

The thunderstorm followed by rains and hails has also damaged mango and wheat crops at many places. The death toll so far due to thunderstorms in UP has crossed 70-mark. The storms on Wednesday and Thursday had left nearly 50 people dead in different districts of east and central UP.

The state MET department said that an upper air cyclonic circulation which was hovering over east UP till Friday has now also covered west UP. As a result, west UP and central parts of the states were lashed by thunderstorms. According to Met officials the weather will be clear by Monday. Source

Two bodies retrieved from landslide-hit orphanage, Malaysia - 21st May 2011

KAJANG, MALAYSIA: A landslide hit an orphanage and the bodies of two children from the Rumah Anak Yatim Hidayah, Madrasah Al-Takwa, FELDA Semungkis, 14th mile, Hulu Langat, near here have been pulled out.

Four, believed to be caretakers, are still trapped in the building.

Firemen and villagers managed to pull out several others who were critically injured and have been rushed to the Kajang Hospital, said Fire Department Chief Asst Comm Morni Mamat.

According to initial reports, the orphanage, with about 30 residents, was partially buried by a landslide at about 2.30pm on Saturday. Source

Nuclear plant workers suffer internal radiation exposure after visiting Fukushima - 21st May 2011

The government has discovered thousands of cases of workers at nuclear power plants outside Fukushima Prefecture suffering from internal exposure to radiation after they visited the prefecture, the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Most of the workers who had internal exposure to radiation visited Fukushima after the nuclear crisis broke out following the March 11 quake and tsunami, and apparently inhaled radioactive substances scattered by hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

The revelation has prompted local municipalities in Fukushima to consider checking residents' internal exposure to radiation.

Nobuaki Terasaka, head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told the House of Representatives Budget Committee on May 16 that there were a total of 4,956 cases of workers suffering from internal exposure to radiation at nuclear power plants in the country excluding the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and 4,766 of them involved workers originally from Fukushima who had visited the prefecture after the nuclear crisis. Terasaka revealed the data in his response to a question from Mito Kakizawa, a lawmaker from Your Party.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it received the data from power companies across the country that measured the workers' internal exposure to radiation with "whole-body counters" and recorded levels of 1,500 counts per minute (cpm) or higher. In 1,193 cases, workers had internal exposure to radiation of more than 10,000 cpm. Those workers had apparently returned to their homes near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant or had moved to other nuclear power plants from the Fukushima No. 1 and 2 nuclear power plants. Read More

Public Warning - Cougar spotted eating a deer in Lithia Park, Oregon - 20th May 2011

City of Ashland officials are warning residents and tourists to take precautions after a man walking his dog spotted a cougar feeding on a deer carcass on a Lithia Park trail at about 7 a.m. today.

"This is a the fifth kill of a similar nature in the past few weeks, but the first in which a confirmed sighting was associated with a kill," Ashland Parks and Recreation Department Director Don Robertson said.

The man walking his dog this morning saw the cougar on a dirt trail that links the end of Pioneer Street near the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to the parks department office in the middle of Lithia Park. He reported the cougar sighting to parks staff. An Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division trooper examined the remains of the deer and confirmed that it had been killed by a cougar, city officials said.

Other recent kills in the park include deer and a few turkeys, officials said. Robertson said city workers aren't sure whether the other dead animals recently found in Lithia Park were all killed by cougars, or by other animals such as dogs, coyotes or bobcats.

"People need to be aware and alert when they're out there in Lithia Park," Robertson said. "It is part of the forest interface, just like many homes in town. As we are approaching Memorial Day weekend, we thought the prudent thing was to let people know what they should do in Lithia Park."

Children and adults should not run away if they see a cougar.

"That will trigger the chase instinct in a cougar," Robertson said.

Although there have been no confirmed reports of cougars injuring or killing humans in the past 100 years in Oregon, officials offered these safety tips for dealing with cougars:

  • Be especially cautious at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
  • Hike in groups and make noise to avoid surprising a cougar.
  • If you spot a cougar, stay calm and back away slowly from the cougar while talking to it. Leave it an escape route.
  • Do not crouch down or turn your back.
  • Make yourself appear bigger through actions like raising your arms.
  • Pick up any small children and hold them.
  • If the cougar becomes aggressive, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks to convince the animal that you are a potential danger.
  • Fight back if attacked. Do not "play dead."

If another dead animal is found, officials want to determine as quickly as possible whether it was killed by a cougar, Robertson said. Anyone spotting a dead animal should leave the area immediately and contact the Ashland Police Department at 541-488-5211 and the Ashland Parks Department at 541-488-5340. Both numbers are monitored 24 hours a day, so leave a message if a someone doesn't answer the phone in person. Source