Tuesday, May 24, 2011

China seen as the candidate for 'next catastrophe' -- is the China bubble about to burst?

Beware the China bubble because until hedge funds have found a way of directly shorting the soaring economy it will remain unchecked, says Greg Zuckerman, author of The Greatest Trade Ever.

Mr Zuckerman's book was one of the first to reveal the billions in profits which hedge funds and banks from taking bets against the sub-prime market just before the housing bubble burst.

China, where the economy has expanded 10.1pc a year on average since 1978, is reminiscent of the housing market before credit default swaps allowed hedge funds to make bets against the entire market, according to Mr Zuckerman.

When China's growth will decelerate or come to an abrupt stop is probably the most critical question facing the world economy. But predictions of a hard landing on everything from bad loans to investment-led overheating or inflation has yet to derail the country's expansion.

This is because the government-controlled economy is insulated from speculators testing the true voracity of the market, claims Mr Zuckerman. "We need short sellers," he said.

"The problem with the housing bubble was that for a long time people couldn't bet against it. Credit default swaps gave hedge funds specific tools to short the entire market. That pricked the housing bubble." (read more)

Greece crisis worsens amid political stalemate

A damaging political stalemate is threatening to plunge Greece deeper into crisis as hopes of cross-party support for further austerity measures were dashed on Tuesday by the main opposition leader.

Antonis Samaras, head of New Democracy, the conservative party that earlier this month called for a renegotiation of the original €110bn (£95bn) bail-out, said he would not support additional austerity measures, totalling €6bn, to reduce the country's budget deficit.

His refusal to back the government could jeopardise both payment of the rescue package's next instalment, of €12bn due in June, as well as ongoing talks over a second bail-out, of as much as €60bn.

The political wrangling came as Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, became the first UK politician to admit openly that Greece has no option but to restructure its €330bn of public debt.

"What they are going to have to do is to have a rescheduling of their debt and it can be done in a soft way or a hard way, and that's what the current debate is about," he said in a newspaper interview. "I think in practice what will happen, people are already discussing this, is a negotiated rescheduling.

"You can't just deal with this by cutting, cutting, cutting – it does not work." (read more)

Mexican police seize "Monster Zeta" tank from drug gang as drug related gang violence worsens



Police in Mexico seize a three-tonne homemade tank from the Zetas gang amid an escalation in drug-related violence.

Police found the tank during a raid on a remote ranch in Jalisco, western Mexico.

The armour plated vehicle, dubbed "Monster Zeta" has a revolving gun turret and welded metal sheeting designed to withstand explosions.

Drug violence has been increasing across Mexico since President Felipe Calderon deployed the army to fight the cartels in December 2006.

The Jalisco region had been spared the worst of the mass killings and beheadings, but drug-related murders more than doubled last year to 600. (Source)

Plastic surgery boom as Asians seek 'western' look -- parents even foist surgery on young children



Lee Min kyong stretches on the ballet bar in the dance studio. The 12-year old is a little awkward and nervous in front of strangers, until the music begins.

Min-kyong moves to the classical tune, springing easily onto her toes, the very picture of childhood grace and poise. But when the music stops, she falls back into an awkward stance.

She lacks confidence, explains Min-kyong's mother, a problem she hopes will be solved when her pre-teen undergoes plastic surgery, to westernize her eyes.

"If I get the surgery, my eyes will look bigger," explains Min-kyong. Everyone, she says, points out her small eyes. It's why she doesn't think she's a pretty girl. A surgery which cuts a fold into her eyelid to create a double fold will widen her eyes. The effect will also be to give her a slightly more western look. (read more)

"US Worse Off Financially Than Euro Nations"

The US is spending $4 billion a day more than it is taking in, putting the country on an unsustainable fiscal path perpetuated by both Democrats and Republicans, according to David Walker, head of the Comeback America Initiative.

Solving America's problems will require a combination weighted toward spending reductions but one that also will require spreading the taxation burden around more evenly, said Walker, the former US comptroller general.

"We're not growing enough and we're not going to grow our way out of this problem," he said in a CNBC interview. "We would have to have double-digit real GDP growth for decades to grow our way out of this hole."

Walker's organization promotes fiscal stability and is warning that the US is trailing many other developed nations in terms of getting its fiscal policies in order. Comeback America is a conservative think tank funded mostly through a grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, named for the founder the Blackstone Group private equity firm.

In fact, according to an index that Comeback America developed, the US is in worse shape from a fiscal standpoint than debt-plagued nations such as Italy or Spain, he said.

With the nation hitting its $14.294 trillion debt ceiling and in need of an extension, Congress is debating the proper mix of tax increases and spending cuts so that the US does not end up like weaker euro zone nations such as Greece, Spain and Portugal that are in danger of debt defaults. (read more)

"QE3 Has Already Started"

Most analysts have missed the fact that QE3 has already started in earnest. Of course, it would have been easy to miss. Ben Bernanke has not made any grand pronouncements. He hasn’t done some public thinking out loud, as he did among friends at Jackson Hole, Wyoming last August. It is not even called “QE3”. Think of it as a “stealth QE3”. But make no mistake. A new variety of quantitative easing has already begun in a big way, and is generating its desired effect.

The new QE3 is the “RISK OFF” trade. QE2 ended up pouring $600 billion into stocks, commodities, oil, gold, and silver. Since April 29, the prospect of slowing economic growth has prompted this hot money to take flight and bail from these assets classes. Think of it as the same $600 billion stampeding into risky markets, doing a 180, and then stampeding right back out against.

Where is all this money going? Into the Treasury bond market. We have in fact been in new bull market for bonds since February, taking the yield on the ten year Treasury down from 4.10% to 3.10%. If the current “RISK OFF” trade continues, or even accelerates, we could see ten year yields down to 2.0%-2.5% by the end of the summer.

In the ultimate irony, we might even see bonds peak and risk assets bottom on June 30, the day QE2 ends. Given the way that events compress and accelerate these days, I would not be surprised to see things unfold this way. This is why I have been selling short puts on the long bond ETF (TLT), and avoiding bearish bets on bonds, like the plague, such as the (TBT). It is also why I have been piling on shorts in oil and stock at every opportunity.

There is no doubt that this is Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s plan, and they have voiced as much to Washington confidents in recent weeks. The beauty of this plan is that it has no government fingerprints on it. They are getting private investors to do the heavy lifting for them. That will make them immune from attacks from anti-interventionists, like the Tea Party, and anti-Federal Reservists, like Ron Paul. Bernanke can just sit back and let natural market forces do his handiwork for him.

Clever Ben, clever. (read more)

White House adds media position to combat unfavorable stories

The White House is stepping up its rapid response media operation, creating a communications position to respond to unfavorable stories on the Web, the Huffington Post reports.

HuffPo’s Sam Stein writes that Jesse Lee, a member of the Obama administration’s new media department, will take on a new role in replying — at times aggressively — to stories that paint the administration in a bad light.

In a preview of what his duties may be, Lee blasted Fox News commentator Glenn Beck in a White House blog post, accusing Beck of lying and engaging in a “partisan attack to boost ratings.”

“This week, Jesse Lee will move from the new media department into a role in the communications department as Director of Progressive Media & Online Response,” said Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer in an internal memo obtained by the Huffington Post.

“For the last two years, Jesse has often worn two hats working in new media and serving as the White House’s liaison with the progressive media and online community,” the memo read. “Starting this week, Jesse will take on the second role full time working on outreach, strategy and response.” (Source)


Unruly Teens wrecking a Dunkin Donuts at 75 christopher street in Manhattan, New York



It's like a flash mob gone bad. Security footage from a Manhattan Dunkin' Donuts shows a group of youths climbing on counters, throwing chairs and throwing tables in a violent attack on workers.

It happened at the Dunkin' Donuts on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. A $2,000 hot chocolate machine was reportedly destroyed in the attack.

Similar attacks have targeted other stores in the neighborhood in the previous weeks.

The video shows one of the teens throwing a chair and then running up to grab a donut.

A few of the attackers also grabbed drinks out of a refrigerator near the door, and they all quickly ran from the store.

Some businesses and even residents recently have complained about violence in the area. Most of the business owners didn't want to give their names for fear of retribution.

One store owner told Fox 5's Lisa Evers that some kids did something similar at his business about a week earlier than the incident at Dunkin' Donuts.

He said, "It's not safe around her."

The NYPD said it was examining the Dunkin' Donuts security footage but has not made any arrests. (read more)

Woman accused of trying to sell girl's virginity in Utah, US

A Salt Lake City woman has been charged with offering her 13-year-old daughter's virginity to a man for $10,000.

The 32-year-old woman was charged Monday in Utah's 3rd District Court with two first-degree felony counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child and two second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

If convicted, the woman faces a lifetime prison sentence for each first-degree felony and a zero to 15 year sentence for each second-degree felony.

In court papers, prosecutors allege that the woman had discussed letting her daughter perform oral sex and other sex acts with an adult male. The negotiated offer and an arrangement to exchange the teen's virginity for money were detailed in a string of text messages which were seen by the woman's boyfriend, who called police, court papers say.

In a police affidavit also filed with the court, investigators say the woman acknowledged the agreement and said she and the girl had been modeling lingerie for the man in a local store and at their home near the Utah State Capitol. Investigators say the woman said she had also taken pictures of her daughter wearing only a bra and skimpy, thong underwear and sent them to another adult male.

In the same affidavit, the girl told police she initially agreed to the sex-for-money arrangement, but later told her mother that she did not want to go through with it.

The Associated Press is not naming the woman to avoid identifying the daughter. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: Massive tornado touches down in Oklahoma, 2 dead

At least two people were killed and many more injured Tuesday afternoon after tornadoes and severe storms punished counties west and south of Oklahoma City, officials said.

Canadian County Sheriff Randall Edwards told CNN a large tornado that crossed I-40 near El Reno destroyed homes and caused a gas leak at an energy plant west of the state capital.

County Emergency Management Director Jerry Smith told CNN the storm, which moved past Calumet and Edmond, north of Oklahoma City, killed two and caused numerous injuries.

The twister injured motorists on Interstate 40 and U.S. 81, Smith said. Deputies were attending to the injured, and there were reports of property damage in the area.

Another tornado was seen at Chickasha, about 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. It later reached Newcastle, closing in on Moore and Norman, suburbs of Oklahoma City. (read more)

Is a mutated fungus killing American bats? - 24th May 2011

A fungus blamed for killing more than a million bats in the US since 2006 has been found to differ only slightly from an apparently harmless European version. The minor genetic differences could hold the key to preventing future deaths.

Alternatively, European bats may have been exposed to the virus longer and evolved resistance.

Jeffrey Foster at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and colleagues, compared the genomes of strains of Geomyces destructans infecting US and European bats and found that the strain thought to cause lethal "white nose syndrome" (WNS) in the US is almost identical to one that is harmless to bats in Europe.

"There were very few mutational differences between the North American and European samples, strongly suggesting they're related," says Foster. The team presented their preliminary results last week at a conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.

If it is the DNA differences making the US version of the fungus virulent, then finding a treatment will be easier than if the reason for the transatlantic difference is that European bats have evolved resistance, says Foster.

The answer should come from Craig Willis at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, who is currently testing both strains on little brown bats from the US, to see if both versions cause WNS.

Irrespective of whether it is the nature of the fungus or evolved resistance, researchers in Europe told the meeting that they are trying to find out why European bats are not getting sick. "We've been taking wing-punch samples in the field for analysis to see if there are clues to survival in the genetics," says Natália Martínková of the Institute of Vertebrate Biology in Brno, the Czech Republic. Source

Swiss government freezes assets of Syria's President Bashar Assad - 24th May 2011

GENEVA — The Swiss government says it has extended an asset freeze for senior Syrian officials to include the country's President Bashar Assad.

The Swiss Cabinet says banks must now declare any assets belonging to Assad that are in Switzerland.

The government said Wednesday that Assad is also banned from travelling to or through Switzerland.

The decision follows similar sanctions announced last week against 13 senior Syrian officials that didn't affect the president.

The revised Swiss sanctions list now comprises 23 people.

They were taken in response to Syria's brutal crackdown of anti-government protesters in recent weeks. Source

'The dollar is as good as gold': Utah becomes first state to legalise gold and silver as currency - 24th May 2011

Crossing someone's palm with gold or silver could soon become more than just a figure of speech.

It has already become a reality in one state as Utah legislators became the first in the country this month to legalise gold and silver coins as currency.

The law will also exempt the sale of the coins from state capital gains taxes.

Craig Franco hopes to cash in on it with his Utah Gold and Silver Depository, and he thinks others will soon follow.

The idea is simple: Store your gold and silver coins in a vault, and Franco issues a debit-like card to make purchases backed by your holdings.

He plans to open for business June 1, likely the first of its kind in the country.

He said: 'Because we're dealing with something so forward thinking, I expect a wait-and-see attitude. Once the depository is executed and transactions can occur, then I think people will move into the marketplace.'

The idea was spawned by Republican state Republican Brad Galvez, who sponsored the bill largely to serve as a protest against Federal Reserve monetary policy.

Mr Galvez says Americans are losing faith in the dollar. If you're mad about government debt, ditch the cash. Spend your gold and silver, he says.

His idea isn't to return to the gold standard, when the dollar was backed by gold instead of government goodwill. Instead, he just wanted to create options for consumers.

He said: 'We're too far down the road to go back to the gold standard. This will move us toward an alternative currency.'

Earlier this month, Minnesota took a step closer to joining Utah in making gold and silver legal tender. Read More

Ryan Giggs: reporters' cars attacked by Masked Gang - 24th May 2011

Cars belonging to journalists and photographers camped outside the home of Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs have been vandalised.

A group of masked men pulled up in a transit van to the street in Worsley, Salford, and attacked six vehicles.

Reporters said tyres were slashed, while cars were kicked and covered in flour and eggs.

Greater Manchester Police were called to the scene earlier and said inquiries were continuing.

On Monday, Giggs was named in Parliament as the married footballer exposed on Twitter as having an injunction over an alleged affair with reality TV star Imogen Thomas.

The 37-year-old midfielder is United's most senior player, having appeared in 613 games for the club, since 1990.

Giggs was absent from an earlier open training session in front of the world's media, as part of United's preparations for the Champions League final against Barcelona at Wembley on Saturday.

Lib Dem MP John Hemming named Giggs during an urgent Commons question on privacy orders.

Using parliamentary privilege to break the court order, he said it would not be practical to imprison the 75,000 Twitter users who had named the player. Source

Finally, the full truth about Fukushima? Japanese nuclear bosses admit meltdown of THREE reactors after tsunami - 24th May 2011

The operator of Japan's damaged nuclear power plant said today that fuel rods inside three of the facility's reactors probably melted in the days immediately after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The clearer picture of the extent of the damage came as UN nuclear experts planned to meet Japan's trade minister later today at the start of a fact-finding trip.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said last week that repaired water gauges showed that fuel rods in Unit 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had mostly melted and fallen into a lump at the bottom of the pressure vessel - a state Tepco officials have described as a 'meltdown' - after the complex's cooling system was knocked out by the tsunami.

Fresh data from Units 2 and 3 indicate that fuel rods in those reactors are in a similar state, spokeswoman Aya Omura said today.

In all three reactors, the melted fuel is mostly covered with water and remains at temperatures far below dangerous levels, officials said.

'We have analysed data, which showed that it was highly likely that most of the fuel rods have melted. But it is unlikely that melting fuel rods could worsen the crisis because the melted fuels are covered in water,' said company spokesman Takeo Iwamoto.

The disaster at the Fukushima plant, the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, has raised questions about the lax oversight of Japan's nuclear industry.

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency will tour the facility, about 140 miles (230km) north-east of Tokyo, during a visit expected to focus on safety issues. Read More

Visible from outer space: Incredible satellite footage captures the moment Iceland's volcano erupted - 24th May 2011



Source & More Images >>>>>

The Bin Laden backlash: Angry Muslims demonstrate outside Downing Street as Obama visits Britain - 24th May 2011

Muslim activists descended on Downing Street today in protest at Barack Obama's state visit to London.

As the president met David Cameron in Whitehall, an angry crowd of burka clad women as well as protesters from Muslims Against Crusades gathered on the streets outside.

They were joined by a number of prominent campaigners, including Anjem Choudary.The radical cleric said that President Obama has made himself a 'legitimate target' for Muslim extremists after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

He called for Mr Obama to be dragged before a sharia court over his role in the war in Afghanistan.

Speaking before the march on Downing Street Choudary said Mr Obama was enemy number one for Muslims.

Choudary said Obama was an 'even greater killer of Muslims' than his predecessor George Bush.

He said: 'Just like Osama Bin Laden is the number one enemy for the west, Obama is for Muslims.

'He is a war criminal, it goes without saying. He has slain more Muslims than even his predecessor George Bush and has overseen the escalation of the war on Islam.

'He must be arrested and face a sharia court for his crimes.' Read More

Lorraine Mbulawa A Teenager who Claimed to be 'Possessed' as she stabbed her own mother five times is allowed to walk free - 24th May 2011

A student who stabbed her mother five times said she was 'possessed' by her grandmother has been allowed by a judge to walk free from court.

Teenager Lorraine Mbulawa was convicted of unlawful wounding after stabbing her mother as she slept in her bed in Braunstone Firth, Leicester.

The 19-year-old was released when Mr Justice Keith accepted her arguments that her beliefs in witchcraft and evil led her to carry out the act.

Despite being stabbed five times, Mbulawa's mother, Sisbsisiwe, did not blame her for what she did because they both believe in the occult.

In delivering his sentence at Leeds Crown Court, the judge said: 'She believed spirits can enter the body and make you do things that otherwise you would not have done.

'Her beliefs could have made her thi8nk she was possessed by evil spirits at the time.'

The jury cleared the A-level student of attempted murder during a trial at Leicester Crown Court earlier this year but she was convicted of the lesser charge of unlawful wounding.

Justice Keith added: 'In convicting Lorraine of unlawful wounding the jury must be treated as having rejected her claim of being in a dissociative state.

'The jury treated Lorraine as if she knew what she was doing at the time of the attack.'

Before stabbing her sleeping mother once in the face and four times in the arm, Mbulawa put on dark clothes, gloves and a self-fashioned balaclava. Read More

Plagues - Locust ravages China's Xinjiang region - 24th May 2011

Large swarms of locusts have laid waste to vast tracts of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with authorities expecting the plague to worsen as the weather heats up.

The locust plague began in the pastureland of the Ili River Valley and Taer Basin in late April, said Wang Xinchang, an official with the animal husbandry bureau in Tacheng Prefecture, on Tuesday.

"Locusts have infested nearly 100,000 hectares of pastureland in Tacheng Prefecture," he said.

As the summer heat persists, the situation might still worsen next month. At least 400,000 hectares of pastureland could become infested, he said.

Xinjiang's regional headquarters of locust and rodent control said an estimated 15.7 million hectares of pastureland would suffer from the locust plague this summer.

The local governments in Ili and Tacheng have stepped up monitoring of the plague and have launched a pesticide spraying campaign to stop it spreading.

Xinjiang has more than 100 kinds of locusts, one of the major menaces to the health of its grassland. It has a history of using chickens, ducks and other birds to fight the insects. Source

Joplin, Missouri braces for more dangerous weather as second onslaught looms

In the aftermath of the deadliest tornado to strike the United States in almost 60 years, hard-hit Joplin, Mo., is bracing for a possible second punch Tuesday.

A single twister in Joplin on Saturday killed at least 116 people. That's the highest toll since 1953, and the figure is expected to rise. Preliminary estimates say the twister was EF4 on the Fujita scale — the second-highest rating assigned to tornadoes based on the damage they cause.

Though the storm has passed, danger was by no means over. Fires from gas leaks burned across Joplin on Tuesday. The smell of ammonia and propane filled the air in some damaged areas. Unstable buildings also posed threats, as whipping winds threaten to finish them off.

And the forecast looks grim: a mix of warm and cold air meeting has raised the possibility of more storms in the area Tuesday night, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., says.

The centre expects a possible large tornado outbreak in the Midwest on Tuesday and bad weather potentially reaching the East Coast by Friday.

"This is a very serious situation brewing," centre director Russell Schneider said. The Storm Prediction Center also issued a high-risk warning before the deadly outbreak in the south in April. (read more)

More soldiers called as Quebec river flooding hits new peak: Canada

The number of Canadian soldiers helping flood victims along Quebec's Richelieu River doubled to about 500 in the past day as water levels hit a record high.

Winds from the south of up to 80 kilometres an hour forced water from Lake Champlain to spill into the Richelieu southeast of Montreal.

Premier Jean Charest toured the region Monday afternoon for a third time since the flooding began five weeks ago. He then asked the Canadian Armed Forces for more help.

"They will be used for different tasks," Charest said. "Be it security, sandbagging … we will be responding to requests as quickly as possible."

About 3,000 homes have been flooded and nearly 1,000 people have been forced out since the start of the floods. (read more)

Facebook should allow under 13s says Mark Zuckerberg; No, no it shouldn't

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he wants the social networking site to let children under the age of 13 use it.

At the moment that age limit is dictated by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act which was made Federal Law in America in 1998.

But Zuckerberg says he's willing to fight to change the law.

He says it's a battle worth taking on because of the educational benefits of using the site.

"That will be a fight we take on at some point.

"My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.

"Because of the [legal] restrictions we haven't even begun this learning process.

"If they're lifted then we'd start to learn what works." (read more)

Volcanic ash heads for Heathrow, threatening to snarl travel



Airlines and air traffic controllers across Europe watched and waited nervously Tuesday as a cloud of volcanic ash spread east and south from Iceland, threatening to disrupt flights on a wide scale.

The ash cloud began to reach London's Heathrow airport -- the world's busiest international air travel hub -- around lunchtime, a computer model map indicated.

Concentration of ash at Heathrow remained low and had not led to widespread cancellations, but about 500 flights in British airspace will be canceled Tuesday, said Eurocontrol, Europe's air traffic control organization. That is more than double the expected number of flight cancellations announced earlier in the day.

A volcanic ash cloud a year ago forced the cancellation of thousands of flights per day at the peak of the problem. (read more)

EU fisheries reform would 'privatise oceans'

The European Commission is planning to reform the EU's fishing industry by giving vessels quota shares guaranteed for periods of at least 15 years.

The commission will issue a proposal on reforming the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in July, to take effect in 2013.

But a draft obtained by BBC News outlines moves that some environmentalists describe as "virtual privatisation of the oceans".

Final decisions on fishing quotas will stay with politicians, not scientists.

The 28-year-old CFP is intended to keep catches within sustainable limits, but has often been criticised for doing the opposite.

One of the central planks of the proposed reforms is to eliminate discards.

Currently, up to half the catch of some species has to be discarded because vessels have exceeded their quota, or because the fish are undersized.

In the new scheme, boats would have to land all the fish they caught, and the whole catch would count against quotas. (read more)

Rare colour photographs of Depression Era: For study purposes, so that you know what to expect in round 2 (beautiful photography)

It was an era that defined a generation. The Great Depression marked the bitter and abrupt end to the post-World War 1 bubble that left America giddy with promise in the 1920s. Near the end of the 1930s the country was beginning to recover from the crash, but many in small towns and rural areas were still poverty-stricken. These rare photographs are some of the few documenting those iconic years in colour. The photographs and captions are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color. The images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, shed a bleak new light on a world now gone with the wind. (See the amazing photos here)

Meet Janice Tunnicliffe, who is allergic to electricity -- are power towers and other gadgets causing us harm?

Janice Tunnicliffe spends every night playing Scrabble by candlelight with her husband because she claims to have a rare condition called electrosensitivity.

She cannot bear to be anywhere near electromagnetic fields of any kind and, as a result, she cannot watch television, listen to the radio or talk on a mobile phone and has been left completely isolated from the modern world by her condition.

Mrs Tunnicliffe, 55, was struck down with the illness after receiving chemotherapy for bowel cancer three years ago.

Since then she has suffered constant headaches, chest pains, nausea and tingling in her arms and legs whenever she is near electrical devices or items that emit a signal.

Her only relief in this time was when her village, near Mansfield in rural Nottinghamshire, suffered a temporary power cut. (read more)

Third of Berlin university students consider sex work

One in three university students in the German capital would consider sex work as a means to finance their education, a study from the Berlin Studies Center said Wednesday.

The figure in Berlin, where prostitution is legal, was higher than students surveyed in Paris (29.2 percent) and in Kiev (18.5 percent), the three cities the report looked at.

The study found some 4 percent of the 3,200 Berlin students surveyed said they had already done some form of sex work, which includes prostitution, erotic dancing and Internet shows.

The number of men who said they would consider sex work was about equal to the number of woman, the study found.

The results surprised the study's authors, who said they undertook the study because student prostitution had been often reported but little was known about its relationship to education policy.

"The main motivation of students to turn to prostitution were the financial incentives, namely the high hourly wages," Eva Blumenschein, one of the study's authors and a 26-year-old student at Berlin's Humboldt University, told Reuters.

Blumenschein said recent educational reforms aimed at speeding up students' time at university may play a role in them seeking out sex work. (read more)

"It's possible that because educational reforms have increased student workloads, they have less time to earn money," she said. "Coupled with higher student fees, in this instance, leads students into prostitution."

Thirty percent of students working in the sex industry were in debt, the study found.

"Dismantlement of Israel is necesary for the fight against global terrorism" -- The alternative world opinions you don't hear on the news

Ryanair: Michael O'Leary has claimed there was "no volcanic ash material over Scotland - 24th May 2011

The boss of Ryanair has claimed there was "no volcanic ash material over Scotland" after one of the airline's planes was flown through a "high concentration zone" and returned unaffected.

The Irish airline said an inspection of the plane found "no evidence of volcanic ash on the airframe, wings or engines".

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary told Sky News said it proved there was "no volcanic ash material over Scotland".

It comes as disruption to flights due to the volcano ash cloud spreads beyond Scotland, with delays to transatlantic services and the ash forecast to reach Heathrow later today.

Eurocontrol, the European air traffic control agency, said a total of 252 flights - mostly affecting Scottish airports - have been cancelled so far.

It said low-density ash from the Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano was expected to reach LinkLondon's largest airport by 1pm today.

Also by that time, air traffic control company Nats said ash was expected to Linkaffect other UK airports.

Services from Londonderry, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwick, Newcastle, Carlisle, Durham Tees Valley and Cumbernauld may be disrupted.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency team later today as part of efforts to tackle the upheaval. Read More

LATEST TRAVEL INFORMATION >>>>>>>>>>>>

Explosion At Venezuela's Cardon Oil Refinery - 23rd May 2011

According to a local Venezuelan news agency, an explosion took place Monday at the state-owned Cardon oil refinery, which has been offline since a power outage in mid-May.

The blast took place in a furnace of the facility's catalytic cracking unit but did not start a fire or result in injuries, the Notifalcon news service reported citing anonymous sources.

It was unknown what was the cause of the explosion or the extent of the damage. The state-run Petroleos de Venezuela has not confirmed the incident or released comment as of late Monday.

The complex at Paraguana, located in the northwestern state of Falcon, is home to the 640,000-barrel-a-day Amuay refinery, the country's largest, and the 305, 000-barrel-a-day Cardon refinery.

A May 12 power failure forced a complete shutdown of Cardon while Amuay was partially affected. Cardon was expected to resume operations this past weekend but had yet to restart as of Monday, according to a representative of Venezuela's petroleum workers' union.

Accidents, power outages and technical problems at a number of Venezuela's oil facilities have contributed to the country's declining oil production. Source

Explosion at Iran gas plant before Ahmadinejad visit - 24th May 2011

TEHRAN, Iran - An explosion has rocked Iran's largest oil refinery as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was about to arrive at the site for a scheduled visit.

The semi-official Fars news agency says the explosion took place Tuesday morning shortly before the president's arrival. Ahmadinejad was expected to inaugurate an expansion project at the refinery in the southwestern city of Abadan.

The report says at least 20 people were injured from the blast, which set of a fire at the site. The explosion was blamed on a "gas leakage."

A live broadcast by state TV later showed Ahmadinejad addressing local officials at the site in Abadan. Source

HAROLD CAMPING the False Prophet who cried WOLF names a NEW Date AGAIN!!, Donations Welcome before OCTOBER 21ST 2011- 24th May 2011

The preacher who predicted the end of the world has taken to the airwaves to reveal why we are all still here.

Harold Camping, 89, said he was 'astounded' when May 21 came and went without the Rapture.

But he is already examining new theories... including the possibility that God, being merciful, did not want mankind to suffer for five months, and so will end the world all at once on October 21 instead.

He also claimed that God did visit Earth on May 21 - but that he did so 'spiritually'.

Speaking on Family Radio tonight, he said: 'Last weekend became a very interesting weekend because May 21 came and has gone and all the dire predictions that have been talked about did not come to pass.

‘I can tell you when LinkMay 21 came and went it was a very difficult time for me – a very difficult time. I was truly wondering what is going on. In my mind I went back through all of the promises God had made. What in the world was happening? I really was praying and praying: “Lord, what happened” because all through this I’d been astounded how God opened door after door.

‘It was marvellous how everything was going until May 21 came. I stayed away from home for one night because the pressure from that phone ringing and people knocking on my door for an interview was more than I could stand. So my wife and I went to a motel and spent the night there.’ Read More

Some listeners of Family Radio have quit their jobs and sold their possessions - but Camping said the radio station never told people to do that.