Saturday, June 4, 2011

Death toll rises in E. coli outbreak as Europe continues to panic



An outbreak of a virulent strain of E. coli has killed 19 people in Europe and infected more than 2,000 in at least 12 countries, the World Health Organization said on Saturday.

All but one of the fatalities were reported in Germany, where officials say it's still too early to determine whether the peak of the outbreak has passed. One person in Sweden also died.

In Germany, there have been 573 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) -- a form of kidney failure -- in the current European outbreak, according to WHO. That's more cases of HUS than in any other recorded outbreak, worldwide.

Twelve patients in Germany have died of HUS, according to WHO, while six died of enterohemorrhagic E. coli, EHEC, a strain that causes hemorrhaging in the intestines and can result in abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. (read more)

Chain Reactions Reignited At Fukushima After Tsunami, Says New Study

Radioactive byproducts indicate that nuclear chain reactions must have been burning at the damaged nuclear reactors long after the disaster unfolded.

Nuclear reactors produce radioactive by-products that decay at different rates. One common by-product is iodine-131 which has a half life of about 8 days while another is cesium-137 with a half life of about 30 years.

When a reactor switches off, the iodine decays more quickly so the ratio between these two isotopes changes rapidly over a period of days. That's why measuring this ratio is a good way to work out when the nuclear reactions terminated.

There are some complicating factors, however. The most important of these is that the ratio of iodine-131 and cesium-137 to start with depends on how long the reactor has been operating and so is not constant.

That's because, after a reactor has been switched on, the levels of iodine-131 reach an equilibrium on a timescale similar to its half life of about 8 days.

But cesium-137, with a half life of 30 years, takes much longer to reach equilibrium. To all intents and purposes, the levels of cesium-137 in a reactor continue to grow steadily during the timescales over which reactors are usually operated. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Greeks protest after nation pledges 'significant cuts' to secure €12bn IMF bail-out

Greece has been hit by protests in central Athens, after its prime minister agreed to strict new austerity measures in return for the next €12bn instalment of the International Monetary Fund’s bail-out.

Demonstrations led by the country’s two most powerful unions broke out, after George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, said the country would embark on extra asset sales and cut-backs totalling €78bn before 2015.

He agreed to make “significant” cuts in public-sector employment and establish an agency to manage accelerated asset sales to get an immediate €12bn lifeline released.

Greek bonds were immediately boosted, with the yield on two-year notes falling 172 basis points to 22.8pc on Friday – their lowest in six weeks. However, Moody’s, the credit rating agency rated the probability of default at 50pc and doubts still remain about whether Greece will be able to stick to its financial cuts in the face of popular unrest.

Europe is also offering a new aid package for Greece that includes a “voluntary” role for private investors. This will amount to €60bn, partly funded by banks rolling over existing Greek government debt holdings due for redemption.

“I expect the euro group to agree to additional financing to be provided to Greece under strict conditionality,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg. (read more)

Thousands evacuate as volcano erupts in southern Chile

A volcanic eruption in southern Chile Saturday shot smoke and ash miles into the sky and forced the evacuation of some 3,500 people.

"We are taking all necessary precautions," said Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, announcing the government's evacuation orders.

An explosion in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex sent plumes of smoke more than six miles into the air, the state emergency office said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Video from the area showed white smoke drifting against an otherwise bright blue sky.

Hinzpeter said ash from the eruption could spread quickly with the wind and warned it had already reached parts of neighboring Argentina.

Chile is located on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. (Source)

Thousands gather to mark anniversary of Tiananmen Square crackdown

Thousands of people filled Hong Kong's Victoria Park on Saturday to mark the 22nd anniversary of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.

The candlelight vigil comes after recent efforts by the Chinese government to quash would-be demonstrators from holding anti-government protests. About 26 people were arrested between February and March, according to a Hong Kong-based human rights group, when an anonymous group began an internet campaign calling for anti-government protests in China similar to ones that have taken hold in the Middle East.

In response to the campaign, authorities deployed heavy security along major thoroughfares, especially in Wangfujing, a busy shopping street in downtown Beijing that had been designated by the online group for protests. The government also tightened rules on foreign reporters, explicitly warning them that they risk detention, suspension of press cards and expulsion if they show up at planned demonstrations.

Saturday's protest is an annual event organized by the Hong Kong Alliance, a pro-democracy group. Hong Kong police called it a "peaceful gathering." (read more)

Julian Assange claims FBI tried to bribe Wikileaks staff

Julian Assange appeared at The Telegraph Hay Festival to defend Wikileaks' “enviable record” and claimed that the FBI had tried to bribe the organisation’s staff.

The founder of the whistle-blowing website disclosed his group would publish more leaked documents in the future. He also threatened to break controversial super-injunctions if the details were leaked to him.

During an hour-long appearance, Mr Assange insisted that “the internet does not give you free speech”.

He said that those revealing secrets online were “hounded from one end of the earth to the other”. His speech was watched by a series of well-known personalities including Vanessa Redgrave and Ralph Fiennes.

Mr Assange added that his group had faced numerous recent challenges, including attempts by the FBI to try and bribe employees. (read more)

Fukushima mutant rabbit: Earless bunny born near radiation zone sparks online panic in Japan -- is radiation already causing defects?



The Coming Crisis is investigating the authenticity of this situation, and will report when more information is available. This post was reader contributed.

Arnie Gunderson: The Dangers of Fukushima Are Worse and Longer-lived Than We Think

"I have said it's worse than Chernobyl and I’ll stand by that. There was an enormous amount of radiation given out in the first two to three weeks of the event. And add the wind blowing in-land. It could very well have brought the nation of Japan to its knees. I mean, there is so much contamination that luckily wound up in the Pacific Ocean as compared to across the nation of Japan - it could have cut Japan in half. But now the winds have turned, so they are heading to the south toward Tokyo and now my concern and my advice to friends that if there is a severe aftershock and the Unit 4 building collapses, leave. We are well beyond where any science has ever gone at that point and nuclear fuel lying on the ground and getting hot is not a condition that anyone has ever analyzed."

So cautions Arnie Gundersen, widely-regarded to be the best nuclear analyst covering Japan's Fukushima disaster. The situation on the ground at the crippled reactors remains precarious and at a minimum it will be years before it can be hoped to be truly contained. In the near term, the reactors remain particularly vulnerable to sizable aftershocks, which still have decent probability of occuring. On top of this is a growing threat of 'hot particle' contamination risk to more populated areas as weather patterns shift with the typhoon season and groundwater seepage. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Armchair astronaut discovers Mars 'space station' using Google earth: Fact or fiction?



We have all heard of little green men from Mars.

But now an American 'armchair astronaut' claims to have discovered a mysterious structure on the surface of the red planet - by looking on Google earth.

David Martines, whose YouTube video of the 'station' has racked up over 200,000 hits so far, claims to have randomly uncovered the picture while scanning the surface of the planet one day.

Describing the 'structure' as a living quarters with red and blue stripes on it, to the untrained eye it looks nothing more than a white splodge on an otherwise unblemished red landscape.

He even lists the co-ordinates 49'19.73"N 29 33'06.53"W so others can go see the anomaly for themselves.

In a pre recorded 'fly by' video of the object, Mr Martines describes what he thinks the station might be.

He said: 'This is a video of something I discovered on Google Mars quite by accident.

'I call it Bio-station Alpha, because I'm just assuming that something lives in it or has lived in it.' (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Is Obama's long form birth certificate 'fake but accurate'? -- an alternate theory

The document released yesterday by the White House has been demonstrated to have been electronically compiled -- in other words digitally altered. There are "layers" buried within the code, indicating that it is not a simple copy of a real document. See this, this, this, and this, for instance.

The notion that the White House would release a fraudulent document boggles the mind. Unless one is dealing with a student of Saul Alinsky. Having watched the Rathergate computer-based debunking of a fake document, Obama knew that his long form COLB would be similarly analyzed.

My strong suspicion is that the data on the document released by the White House is accurate, but that the document was digitally altered precisely to bait the so-called birthers into disputing it, thus continuing the controversy and further marginalizing his opponents. After the controversy continues, at the proper moment, the actual vault copy can be unearthed in Honolulu, and the data examined (perhaps with live coverage by Geraldo Rivera), and his opponents utterly discredited.

As has already happened, the "respectable" conservatives are appalled at those who insist on the trust but verify approach to the document. The conservatives are thereby fractured, with the establishment wing embarrassed by and angry at the grassroots wing that continues to question the provenance of the document released b y the White House.

In other words, Obama is baiting his enemies with the red meat of a fake-but-accurate document. (Source)

This post was reader contributed.

BREAKING NEWS: Yemen's Vice President takes over duties for wounded president as chaos threatens to engulf country

MORE AS SITUATION DEVELOPS.

Are Nuclear Reactions Still Occurring at Fukushima?

You know that Fukushima reactors 1, 2 and 3 all melted down within hours of the Japanese earthquake.

You also know that at least some of the subsequent explosions could have been caused by small-scale nuclear reactions called "prompt moderated criticalities".

But you might not know that nuclear reactions may still be ongoing.

Specifically, it is well-known by nuclear scientists that the ratio of iodine 131 to cesium 137 tells a lot about when nuclear reactions have stopped. For example, on May 2nd, University of Tokyo physics professor Tetsuo Matsui published a scientific paper with the following summary:
We calculate the relative abundance of the radioactive isotopes Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 produced by nuclear fission in reactors and compare it with data taken at the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The ratio of radioactivities of these two isotopes can be used to obtain information about when the nuclear reactions terminated. (read more)

US: We've Now Got Depression-Level Unemployment

The commonly-accepted unemployment figures for the Great Depression are overstated.

Specifically, government workers were counted as unemployed by Stanley Lebergott (the BLS economist who put together the most widely used numbers) ... even though gainfully employed and receiving a pay check.

If we're trying to compare current unemployment figures with the Great Depression, the calculations of economists such as Michael Darby are more accurate.

...

Unemployment is currently underreported. Even government officials admit that their "adjustments" to unemployment figures are inaccurate during recessions.

In addition, the most widely-cited statistics use the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' "U-3" methodology. But "U-6" figures are more accurate, because they include people who would like full-time work, but can only find part-time work, or people who have given up looking for work altogether. U-6 is also is closer to the way unemployment was measured during the Great Depression than U-3

Current levels of unemployment are Depression-level numbers, especially when compared to Darby's figures.

For example, economist John Williams puts current U-6 unemployment at 15.9%. That's higher than 9 out of 12 years charted by Darby. (read more)

China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills

China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury.

Treasury bills are securities that mature in one year or less that are sold by the U.S. Treasury Department to fund the nation’s debt.

Mainland Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bills are reported in column 9 of the Treasury report linked here.

Until October, the Chinese were generally making up for their decreasing holdings in Treasury bills by increasing their holdings of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, until October, China’s overall holdings of U.S. debt continued to increase.

Since October, however, China has also started to divest from longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, as reported by the Treasury Department, China’s ownership of the U.S. national debt has decreased in each of the last five months on record, including November, December, January, February and March. (read more)

No Money to Pay 70,000 Employees In Castilla-La Mancha Region of Spain: Situation a "Total Failure"

After the power change in the Castilla-la Mancha community, the new People's Party governorship effectively declares it bankrupt, with 2 billion EU unpaid service bills and 7 billion EU in debt.

70,000 state workers are only guaranteed one month's wage now.

The PP will have to find ways to pay from next month's payroll of 70,000 employees of the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, because the situation is "total failure", with a debt to suppliers of 2,000 million euros , has secured the regional secretary of the PP, Vicente Tirado.

The PP leader said that this month other officials charged by the payroll but no money for months, but has sent a message of peace because the PP, he added, will find the mechanisms to pay thereafter, and cited, for example, privatization of public television.

PP general secretary of Castilla-La Mancha has criticized Barreda have "paralyzed the administration" and that since his "irresponsibility want to mount a minefield" that cannot pay anything.

He will be remembered, he added, as the "worst" president of an autonomous region that has more than 7,000 million euros of debt owed ​​on unpaid invoices more than 2,000 million, which is leading to the ruin of small entrepreneurs as well to lead the ranking of communities deficit. (read more)

Ichiro Ozawa, Japan MP: "The situation at the nuclear reactors is still out of control."

The following is a partial transcript from The Wall Street Journal Interview with Japan senior political figure Ichiro Ozawa, who is calling on Prime Minister Naoto Kan to step down. Ozawa is a long-time rival within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and is facing charges of improprieties over his fund-raising organization.

Q: By and large, how would you assess the government's response to the earthquake and nuclear crisis?

A: It's been two months, actually 70 days, but the situation at the nuclear reactors is still out of control.

The Kan administration's handling of the situation has been extremely slow. (read more)

Muslim Group Offends Some Christians With Jesus Advertisements

“Jesus: A prophet of Islam” states the provocative tagline in a “public awareness” advertising campaign launched by a Muslim group in Australia’s largest city.

The group, calling itself Mypeace, says its aim is to inform, not offend – but offend it has, with one Catholic bishop calling the assertion about Jesus “a direct assault on Christian beliefs.”

Roadside billboards in the metropolitan Sydney area carry one of four simple slogans: “Jesus: A Prophet of Islam,” “Holy Qur’an: The Final Testament,” “Muhammad: Mercy to Mankind” and “Islam: Got Questions? Get Answers.”

Each banner invites people to get in touch by phone or online, for literature and a free copy of the Qur’an. Mypeace says the ads will stay up for four weeks, and later this year will be run on scores of public buses in the city.

One of the billboards featuring the Jesus slogan was vandalized a day after it was erected.

Mypeace says its aim is to “address the many misconceptions on Islam, to educate fellow Australians on Islam, invite them to ask any questions that they may have.”

Islamic awareness campaigns are not new, but the slogan referring to Jesus is causing a stir. Muslims and interfaith advocates sometimes invoke Jesus to assert some sort of commonality with Christians, implying that Muslims, too, “believe in Jesus.” (read more)

Greenspan 'Scared' Over Deficit; Calls for Debt Ceiling Rise

The debt and deficit problem in the US is so serious that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan finds himself in the position of recommending the highest tax rates in more than a decade.

In an interview with CNBC, the former central bank chief described himself as a "small government, free-market economist" who nonetheless believes that in order to raise revenue and close the debt gap, 1990s-era taxes must be reinstituted.

It's a measure, he said, of how serious the problem has become.

"The fact that I am in favor of going back to the Clinton tax structure is merely an indicator of how scared I am of this debt problem that has emerged and its order of magnitude," he said.

The marginal tax rates fell in the early 2000s under former President George W. Bush, who instituted sweeping cuts that last year were renewed in a deal between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans.

But the rates, particularly those on Americans earning more than $200,000 a year, have been the focus of intense debate and are considered in peril depending on how next year's elections go. Congressional Democrats see higher taxes as a key to raising revenue to close the budget gap. (read more)

Boy, 11, arrested for breaking teacher's nose in Adelanto

A fifth-grader is behind bars after he assaulted an Adelanto teacher and broke her nose Thursday morning at the Adelanto Community Day School, an alternative education school for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, officials said.

The alleged assault took place at about 9 a.m. between the teacher and an 11-year-old student in one of the classrooms in the school located at 11824 Air Expressway when the teacher asked the student to move to another seat, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Adelanto station officials.

“There was an incident that took place at the Adelanto Community Day School,” Christine McGrew, spokeswoman for the county Superintendent of Schools, said. “At this time, my understanding is that the teacher’s nose is broken." (read more)

Tables Turn: Deputies and movers show up at bank to seize property for homeowner

A bank foreclosure story you've got to see to believe. A Collier County couple turns the tables on Bank of America, the bank that tried to foreclose on their home. Now, the family is foreclosing on the bank! Even bringing trucks and deputies ready to seize property.

The foreclosure nightmare started when Warren and Maureen Nyerges paid cash for a home owned by Bank of American in the Golden Gate Estates. They never had a mortgage whatsoever. But, the bank fouled it up and wound up issuing a foreclosure through their attorney.

The couple took their case to court and after a year and a half nightmare the foreclosure was dropped. A Collier County judge said Bank of America has to pay the couple's $2,534 legal fees for the error. After more than five months the bank still hadn't paid up. So, the homeowners' attorney did just what the bank would do to get their money, legally seize their assets.

"I instructed the deputy to go in and take desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets, including cash in the drawers," Attorney Todd Allen told WINK News.

Outside the Bank of America on Davis Boulevard, several deputies stood by with movers ready to start hauling out the bank's office supplies and furniture.

Inside, the homeowners' attorney was locked out of the bank manager's office by deputies while the bank manger tried to figure out what to do.

Allen says the manager was visibly shaken, "Having two Sheriff's deputies sitting across your desk, and a lawyer standing behind them, demanding whatever assets are in the bank can be intimidating. But, so is having your home foreclosed on when it wasn't right." (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

MORE Incidents of fish kill reported in Bulacan and Ilocos Sur, Philippines - 4th June 2011

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan; CAO-AYAN, Ilocos Sur, Philippines – Fish kill incidents widened this weekend with reports of dead fish floating in some parts of Angat Dam in Bulacan and Mestizo River in Ilocos Sur, authorities said Saturday.

The Sagip Sierra Madre Environment Society Inc. (SSMSI) reported that dozens of dead freshwater fish surfaced in some parts of the giant reservoir of Angat.

SSMI officials said their group began monitoring the fish kill parts of Angat Dam in Sitio Maputi, Barangay Kabayunan, Doña Remedios Trinidad.

Dumagat tribesmen living near the area were the first to report a variety of freshwater fish like “tilapia”, “kanduli,” “dalag” (mudfish) and “hito”(catfish) turning up dead.

Bro. Martin Franscisco of SSMSI quoted experts as saying that this might have been caused by a lack in oxygen and rise in ammonia levels in the water.

Francisco explained that this happens when rotten logs and other organic materials such as falling leaves, fruits, twigs and branches crowd the river.

SSMSI personnel have already been deployed to remove rotting logs, driftwoods and other organic materials from the river.

Meanwhile, a large volume of milkfish began to surface along the Mestizo River in Barangays Callaguip and Don Lorenzo, in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur.

“We are still in the process of consolidating the total value of killed fish species in the fish kill incident,” said Caoayan Mayor Germelina Singson Goulart, as she clarified that only 13 fish cages have been affected so far.

Local agriculturist Marilou Factor said either an abrupt change in climate or an overcrowding of fish might have caused the incident.

“These two factors had caused the suffocation of fishes along the river leading to their death,” Factor said.

“Although the effect of fish kill in our river was not severe, I advised our fish cage owners to limit the fish content of their fish cages floating along the water in Mestizo River,” she added. Source

Nuclear Event - Egypt is saved from a nuclear disaster - 3rd June 2011

"This post was reader contributed."

Computer Translation from Original Article >>>
A leak of radioactive water occurred the last few hours in the small nuclear facility Anshas, ​​Egypt, after the explosion of a reactor pump. An anonymous source in the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority told the local newspaper Rose el Youssef, which ran the headline "Egypt is saved from a nuclear disaster."
The source recalled that the first research reactor Anshas was recently put into operation without the permission of the Centre for Nuclear Safety and without respecting the safety of the reactors. The source told the newspaper that an explosion took place yesterday in the pump of the reactor and caused the loss of ten cubic meters of radioactive water.

The officials added that «disaster» third degree is classified according to the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Article Egypt >>>>
Article Italy >>>>>

Fukushima: Steam, high radiation detected at No.1 reactor -- is meltdown still ongoing?

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says steam was observed coming out of the floor of the No.1 reactor building, and extremely high radiation was detected in the vicinity.

Tokyo Electric Power Company inspected the inside of the No.1 reactor building on Friday with a remote-controlled robot.

TEPCO said it found that steam was rising from a crevice in the floor, and that extremely high radiation of 3,000 to 4,000 millisieverts per hour was measured around the area. The radiation is believed to be the highest detected in the air at the plant.

TEPCO says the steam is likely coming from water at a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius that has accumulated in the basement of the reactor building. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Earthworm plague sweeps Cincinnati as thousands of dead worms blanket streets

People across the Tri-State awoke to an unusual sight Thursday — thousands of earthworms lying dead on sidewalks and porches.

WLWT was first alerted to the issue by Rick in West Chester.

"This appears to have started sometime yesterday afternoon, as I do not remember seeing them yesterday morning," Rick wrote.

Shortly after Rick's email, WLWT reporter Brian Hamrick began taking photos from his home in Florence, where thousands of worms coated the sidewalks of his neighborhood.

After one post on FB, more than 90 people said they had seen the same thing, from Fairfield, to Mount Airy, Pleasant Ridge, Independence and Sardinia. We even got confirmation from our sister TV station in Louisville that they had a few hundred dead worms on their sidewalk.

WLWT went in search of an answer as to why so many worms died all at once.

Lee Townsend, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky, said there could be three reasons: the recent heavy rains, mating season or acidic soils. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Palestinians storm gate at Rafah Crossing as Gaza embargo lifted, Arab-Israeli tensions rising

Palestinians traveling to Egypt stormed a gate at the border crossing on Saturday after waiting for hours in buses, Gaza officials told CNN.

It is the first kink in cross-border travel after Egypt reopened the crossing with Gaza last week, a symbolic move that signaled the Cairo government's greater support of Palestinian aspirations.

The Rafah Crossing had been subject to frequent closures by Egypt after the Islamic militant group Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

The closure of the border had been part of an embargo policy by Egypt and Israel aimed at cutting off Hamas, but the embargo created an economic hardship on the Palestinian territory by limiting shipments of goods in and out of the country.

Saturday's incident occurred when a few busloads of Palestinians arrived at the main crossing but couldn't get through.

Egyptians were doing maintenance on the vehicle crossing from Gaza into Egypt and had to close it down for the repairs. But Egyptians didn't inform Gaza officials about the work.

Some of the passengers on the four buses at the gate became agitated after waiting for hours, got out of their buses, and forcibly pushed the gate until they broke the chain on it and went across the border. (read more)

Rain raises fear of more contamination at Fukushima, Japan

Radioactive water that has accumulated inside the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant could spill to the outside if heavy rains come before new decontamination equipment can be installed, the semi-official Kyodo news agency reported.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to start activating the decontamination equipment on June 15, but there is a possibility it will be delayed, company officials said.

Substantial rainfall that has fallen on the complex has brought the total amount of contaminated water that may be leaking from reactors No. 1 and No. 3 to 105,100 tons, TEPCO said, according to Kyodo. (Source)

Robert Gates warns of possible clashes in the South China Sea

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Saturday warned that clashes could occur in the South China Sea if nations in the area do not agree on ways to deal with disputes.

"Without rules of the road, without agreed approaches to deal with these problems, then there will be clashes. I think that serves nobody's interest," Gates said at an annual Asia security meeting hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Gates statement comes amid tensions as China stakes claims on sovereignty in the South China Sea and other nations disputes these claims.

Despite an economic downturn and budget cuts, the United States will keep its commitments and "robust military engagement" in Asia, Gates said.

Gates told the audience of defense ministers and military leaders that there has been significant growth in U.S. engagement in Asia in recent years, "even at a time of economic distress at home and two major military campaigns ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The U.S. record in Asia shows, "irrespective of the tough times the U.S. faces today, or the tough choices we confront in the years to come, that America's interests as a Pacific nation -- as a country that conducts much of its trade in the region -- will endure," Gates said. (read more)

Prepare for More Money Printing: Analyst -- Dollar dive to continue

Investors should prepare themselves for a third round of quantitative easing, Simon Maughn, co-head of European equities at MF Global, told CNBC Wednesday.

“The bond market is going in one direction which is up-falling yields which is telling you quite clearly the direction of economic travel is downwards. Downgrades. QE3 (a third round of quantitative easing) is coming,” said Maughn. “The bond markets are all smarter than us, and that’s exactly what the bond markets are telling me.”

“What’s interesting in the bond markets over the last couple of sessions is, you’ve seen human traders trying to step in and call this turn in the market the same way that equities have done … and they have just been mowed down by the quant funds which are all about leverage, all about momentum and are betting on bond prices going up,” added Maughn.

Once again, the United States will step up as the marginal buyer of bonds, said Maughn. (read more)

Gold, Silver Becoming Legal Currency in More States Read more: Gold, Silver Becoming Legal Currency in More States

A weak dollar, mounting inflationary fears and skyrocketing gold and silver prices are prompting some states to convert precious metals into currencies.

Utah is now allowing gold and silver coins to be used as legal tender, and others may follow suit.

South Carolina lawmakers are proposing a bill that would do just that based in part on concern that present monetary policies may be undermining the national economy.

"I'm no financial expert but I am smart enough to know that you can't keep printing money when it has no backing," says Republican Rep. Mac Toole, according to WACH, the Fox News affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina. (read more)

"War is a racket" -- Yes, yes it is

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out. (read more)

Beijing steps up TV censorship as part of China's nation-wide crackdown against dissent

The Chinese government has stepped up censorship of local television in a sign of the broadening of a political crackdown that has landed many dissidents in jail.

Hunan Broadcasting System, the most commercially successful state broadcaster which also has ambitions to expand overseas, told the Financial Times that it was overhauling its programming to comply with new government censorship demands.

"We must raise the quality of our programs and make them in a way that they're acceptable to the government, the market and the audience," Ouyang Changlin, the director of the HBS, said in a rare interview.

The Chinese broadcasting regulator recently warned TV stations not to focus exclusively on "entertainment". While the order was vague, it was seen as a crackdown as Chinese censors often mix campaigns against political dissent with those against vulgar content.

The tougher line comes as the government tries to strengthen its grip on power in the face of increasingly open dissent and power struggles within the party. Liberal and hardline members of the party are jockeying for position ahead of the 2012 leadership transition when the party will select members for the politburo.

China has severely clamped down on activists since February when an anonymous online appeal called for demonstrations along the lines of the "jasmine revolution" sweeping north Africa and the Middle East. (read more)

Give Brussels power to veto Britain's tax policies, urges Euro bank chief - 4th June 2011

The boss of the European Central Bank sparked anger yesterday after demanding the right to veto the economic policies of EU governments.

Jean Claude Trichet put himself on a collision course with George Osborne after he called for the creation of a European finance ministry with sweeping powers to meddle in tax and spending policy.

The Frenchman said he wanted to see central control from Brussels ‘well over and above the reinforced surveillance that is presently envisaged’.

Britain has already rebuffed attempts by the European Commission to see details of the Chancellor’s budgets before they are delivered.

Now Mr Trichet says an EU finance ministry is vital for ‘strengthening the institutions of economic union’.

He said that the authorities could have ‘the right to veto some national economic policy decisions’. He added: ‘It would be not only possible, but in some cases compulsory, for the European authorities... to take themselves decisions applicable in the economy concerned.’

The European Central Bank is effectively the overlord of the troubled Euro currency and has no say over British interest rates.

But, crucially, Mr Trichet made no distinction between Eurozone countries and the wider European Union – a clear indication that he wants to dictate policy in countries such as Britain.

He admitted that his plan would require a treaty change.

But senior government officials called it a ‘non starter’.

David Cameron has vowed to halt attempts to further erode British sovereignty and pledged to put any future treaty changes to a referendum.

Stephen Booth, of the Open Europe think-tank, said: ‘Greater fiscal union in the Eurozone would have a big impact on the UK — if decisions on competition or specific sectors were made in Europe, it would affect us.’

Mr Trichet’s intervention will fuel concerns in the Tory party that the Government is on the back foot against a tidal wave of centralising initiatives by power-hungry Brussels bureaucrats.

They are likely to be further unnerved by reports that Eurozone countries are on the verge of agreeing a new bailout for the near-bankrupt Greek economy.

While Britain will not have to contribute to the cash pot through its membership of the EU, the country could face liabilities of more than £1billion through its membership of the International Monetary Fund. Read More

Ilyas Kashmiri 'Global Terrorist' Killed In US Drone Strike in Pakistan - 4th June 2011

A man considered one of the world's most dangerous militants has been killed in a US drone missile strike in Pakistan, an intelligence official has said.

Suspected senior al Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri was the leader of Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI).

There was speculation he was the mastermind behind last month's rebel siege at a Pakistani naval base.

In that operation in Karachi, a small number of militants held off around 100 security forces, including commandos, for 16 hours.

HUJI carried out a suicide bomb attack on the US consulate in Karachi which killed four people and wounded 48 in March 2006, the US State Department said.

It has labelled Kashmiri a "specially designated global terrorist", and he was on a list of high-profile militants.

The US claimed HUJI has provided fighters for the Afghan Taliban, which is involved in an insurgency against Nato troops in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani's death was another intelligence coup for America after US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in a town close to the capital Islamabad on May 2.

Kashmiri was reportedly seen in a village in the South Waziristan region shortly before five of his supporters were killed in a US drone strike there.

A Pakistani official said of the latest operation: "We are sure that he (Kashmiri) was killed.

"Now we are trying to retrieve the bodies. We want to get photographs of the bodies." Read More

Wallow Fire Burns Over 100k Acres, Remains Out of Control - 3rd June 2011

Wallow Fire Burns Over 100k Acres, Remains Out of Control: MyFoxPHOENIX.com



The most dangerous wildfire in years is still out of control. Now more towns are on notice that they need to be ready to get away from this monster.

Overnight, the Wallow fire more than doubled in size, growing to more than 100,000 acres or about 165 square miles.

900 people are fighting this fire, most of them on the ground.

In addition, four air tankers, two planes and six helicopters are fighting the flames from the air.

Despite all that, after five days, there is no containment on the fire as it continues to march to the north and northeast.

It started Sunday afternoon to the west of Hannagan Meadow and burned 1,400 acres by Tuesday.

Then the windy, dry conditions took hold on Wednesday as the fire expanded to some mountainous patches to about 6,700 acres.

On Thursday, it really exploded - growing to 40,000 acres.

On Friday, it shot up to 106,000 acres and it's right on the outskirts of the town of Alpine, where 2,000 people were evacuated. Read More

Arizona fires burn tens of thousands of acres - 4th June 2011

A mountain community is evacuated, and smoke and ash blowing into New Mexico alarm many residents of Albuquerque.

Wildfires raged in eastern Arizona, burning tens of thousands of acres and sending smoke more than 200 miles away to New Mexico, where thousands of residents woke to find a fine layer of ash on their cars and a heavy haze hanging in the air.

Calls from panicky residents flooded Albuquerque's 911 emergency center Thursday night when strong winds blew smoke from the blazes into the metro area, dramatically limiting visibility. Many thought there was a fire in the Sandia Mountains foothills or in the cottonwood forest along the Rio Grande, said Darren White, the city's public safety director.

"We were dispatching firetrucks throughout the city," said White, who described seeing ash drifting like snowflakes in his headlights as he drove to an evening news conference.

"You could cut it with a knife," White said. "It felt like the conditions at the perimeter of a large fire."

Officials on Friday issued an air quality alert and urged people — particularly those with respiratory problems — to stay indoors, keep their windows closed and not run their swamp coolers, White said.

The Wallow fire, a 106,000-acre blaze burning in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona, was the prime culprit. That fire forced the evacuation of the town of Alpine, according to an incident Web page maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. According to statistics kept by the Forest Service, the blaze was the fourth-largest wildfire in state history.

Satellite pictures showed a long plume of smoke stretching diagonally across northern New Mexico and into eastern Colorado, said Dan Porter, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Prevailing upper-level winds blowing from southwest to northeast were pushing the smoke into the Albuquerque area from the Wallow fire and the 86,000-acre Horseshoe fire, burning farther south near the Arizona-New Mexico border, Porter said.

A nighttime inversion — a layer of warm air — effectively "put a lid on the atmosphere," trapping the particulates close to the ground, he said. Read More

Joe Simons Oxbridge hopeful, 16, who died after taking Ecstasy in a nightclub - 4th June 2011

The father of a teenager who died after taking Ecstasy has blamed his son's death on the 'hedonistic and destructive culture of drug-taking'.

Tom Simons, a 51-year-old deputy head teacher, said his son Joe was underage and should not have even been allowed into the nightclub where he took the class A drug and later died.

Joe SImons, a 16-year-old GCSE student who dreamed of going to Oxbridge, allegedly dabbled with Ecstasy for the first time while on a night out in Bristol.

He was let into the popular dance night with a group of friends - despite being underage and having no valid ID.

The bright teenager, who was awarded nine A* grades in his GCSEs, collapsed and died hours after taking Ecstasy, thought to have been bought from a club reveller.

Authorities suspended the license of club Lakota, in Bristol, last month after his death - but after a police investigation made no arrests - it has been allowed to re-open.

Heartbroken Mr Simons, who lost his wife - Tom's mother - to cancer three years ago, said his son's death was 'totally avoidable' and criticised the club's security staff for letting him inside.

He also blasted the 'hedonistic and destructive culture of drug-taking' allowed to flourish in nightclubs.

Mr Simons said: 'Joe's death is a terrible tragedy, but it was not a random act of God. His death was totally avoidable.

'Joe should never have been allowed admittance to the Lakota club that night, and had his ID been checked it would have been very clear that he was underage. Read More

Yemen slides towards all-out war after President Saleh survives rocket attack - 4th June 2011

Government claims attack on presidential compound was 'attempted coup' as fighting intensifies in Sana'a.

Yemen's embattled president survived an apparent attempt to kill him on Friday as fighting intensified in Sana'a amid warnings that the country is sliding inexorably into all-out war.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 32 years, emerged lightly injured but defiant from his compound in the capital after shells or a missile hit a mosque inside, killing three guards and a cleric and injuring two other senior government figures.

The incident fuelled growing anxieties that the Arab uprisings, which have brought dramatic changes to Egypt and Tunisia, are turning Yemen – the Arab world's poorest country – into something far more volatile and dangerous.

The government accused Saleh's bitter rival, Hamid al-Ahmar of the opposition Islah party, of launching the attack, and government forces immediately shelled his mansion in Sana'a.

"The al-Ahmars have committed a great crime, and crossed a red line," said Tareq al-Shami, a government spokesman. "This was an attempted coup, and the government will take all necessary measures."

Sadeq al-Ahmar, head of the powerful Hashid tribal federation, blamed Saleh himself for the shelling, saying it was carried out to help justify the government's escalation of streetfighting in the capital.

Saleh, who was treated at a military hospital, was reported to be preparing to give a press conference later. An opposition TV station initially reported him dead, which made headlines around the world.

Abdul Ghani al-Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst, told al-Jazeera TV it was "quite reasonable to assume" that Ahmar's fighters were behind the palace attack. "[The tribesmen] probably wanted him to know that [Saleh] can no longer attack them with impunity, and that they can reach him as he can reach them," Iryani said.

Other regional analysts say the chances for a democratic or peaceful transition of power in Yemen are slim. Read More

Sino-German research finds new E. Coli bacteria resistant to 8 classes of antibiotics - 4th June 2011

Chinese scientists who have fully sequenced the genome of the new E. Coli spreading through Europe said Saturday they found genes in the bacteria that gave it resistance to eight classes of antibiotics.

Researchers with the Beijing Genomics Institute, the world's largest DNA sequencing center, have found genes in the newly identified 0104 strain of E. Coli bacteria that made it resistant to major classes of antibiotics including sulfonamide, cephalothin, penicillin and streptomycin.

This helped explain why doctors in Europe had difficulties in fighting the bug that has killed 18 people and sickened nearly 2,000, BGI's major research arm in Shenzhen said on its website Saturday.

This would help doctors choose right medicines for the treatment, it said.

The researchers are developing a diagnostic kit which will be used to detect the bacteria and prevent the epidemic from spreading further.

The Chinese researchers obtained DNA samples of the bacteria from collaborating scientists in Germany and fully sequenced its genome in three days this week.

They announced on Thursday the E. Coli spreading through Europe was "a new strain of bacteria that is highly infectious and toxic".

The 0104 strain of E. Coli was not previously involved in any E. Coli outbreaks. However, it has 93 percent sequence similarity with the EAEC 55989 E. Coli strain which was isolated in the Central African Republic and known to cause seriously diarrhea, BGI said.

The source of the outbreak is unknown, but scientists say it is highly likely to have originated in contaminated vegetables or salad in Germany. Source

Authorities seize 350 kilos 'tainted' fish in Divisoria, Manila - 4th June 2011

At least 350 kilos of "tainted" fish were seized near a market in Manila's Divisoria district Saturday, during a inspection by the city's veterinary office.

A Balitanghali report said not all the fish may have been from areas affected by a fish kill, as the spoiled fish included sea species such as tuna, tulingan and tambakol.

The report said authorities seized some 200 kilos of tambakol ang 150 kilos of tuna.

Dr. Jose Diaz from the Manila City Hall Veterinary Inspection Board was quoted as saying that the spoiled fish his team seized is no longer safe for human consumption.

"Eating spoiled fish can develop allergy or ma-aggravate ang allergy and isang taong meron na nito. Pangalawa, siguradong kontaminado na ito ng salmonella at iba pang mga bacteria na pedeng maging sanhi ng pagtatae, lagnat at pananakit ng tiyan," Diaz said.

The inspection was conducted amid recent fish kill incidents in Batangas and Pangasinan, to thwart unscrupulous vendors from selling "double dead" fish.

Meanwhile, a report on dzXL radio said that the Manila City Hall inspection team also seized 75 kilos of tainted bangus (milkfish) mixed with fresher bangus.

Authorities also seized some 70 kilos of pork they said were not fit for human consumption.

Diaz said the team planned to bury the confiscated items. Source

Five Years On, Indonesian Mud Volcano Still Erupting - 4th June 2011

A mud volcano that began erupting five years ago, near a drilling site on the eastern portion of Indonesia’s Java island is still spewing out toxic sludge.

Entire villages, towns, business districts, and even a cemetery has been swamped with mud, forcing residents to evacuate and live somewhere else.

"My whole life is buried here. I've lost everything: my house and the warung (streetside food stall) I opened just before the disaster," Harwati, a 35-year-old widow, told AsiaOne. "Since then, life has been really hard. It's difficult to find a job."

At least 40,000 people have been forced from their homes due to the encroaching mud from Sidoarjo volcano, also known as “Lusi."

On May 29, 2006, the mud began spewing in the middle of a rice field and never stopped. In all, a dozen villages, 30 factories, and even more businesses have been destroyed due to the ever-pouring sludge, according to AsiaOne.

Scientists have predicted that the volcano will continue to erupt for many more years, according to news reports published several months ago.

“Our estimate is that it will take 26 years for the eruption to drop to a manageable level and for Lusi to turn into a slow bubbling volcano," Richard Davies, a professor of Earth sciences at Durham University, told AFP in February.

"In the middle of the lake, or the volcano, is a vent that is 50 meters (164 feet) wide, but there are 166 other vents that have popped up over the last four-plus years,” he added. Source

Family's fury as widow leaves most of her fortune in her will to False Prophet Harold Camping - 4th June 2011

A widow from New York who died last year has caused outrage among her relatives by giving the bulk of her estate to doomsday 'prophet' Harold Camping.

Doris Schmitt left the bulk of her roughly $250,000 estate to Mr Camping, who said the world would end on May 21 2011.

In her final years, Doris Schmitt told her nieces she planned to give the massive gift to his Family Radio World Wide.

But it wasn't until last month that they realised who Camping was.

Eileen Heuwetter, 64, who was bequeathed $25,000 along with her sister, said: 'My whole family was mad and upset.'

'If it had been a cancer organisation, fine. God bless them.

'But Camping's just not a good person.'

Mrs Schmitt's life was marked by tragedy.

One of her sons died of cancer at the age of 16 and the other struggled with drugs and alcohol.

The widow from the Rosedale area of Queens turned to Family Radio for comfort, Mrs Heuwetter said.

'It became her entire life,' Mrs Heuwetter, of Jupiter, Florida, said on Friday.

Mrs Schmitt told Mrs Heuwetter she planned to give most of her estate away to the station because her closest nieces were well-off.

They initially did not object to that plan, the New York Daily News reports.

But after they learned about Camping's zany beliefs, they spoke to her lawyer who said nothing could be done.

Mrs Heuwetter said: 'It's what she wanted.' Read More

Adam Gadahn : 'What are you waiting for': U.S. born Al-Qaeda spokesman calls on Americans to 'buy guns and start shooting people'

In a chilling new video, U.S. born Al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn calls on American Muslims to buy weapons from gun shows and carry out random, lone-wolf attacks.

The video, called 'Do Not Rely on Others, Take the Task Upon Yourself', was produced by al Qaeda's as Sahab media team and shows 32-year-old Gadahn speaking alongside old clips of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin laden.

The proposed switch in tactics from organised bombings to lone-wolf style attacks will worry the security services who find tracking individuals much harder than uncovering pre-planned plots.

In a calm voice, California-native Gadahn tells Muslims it is easy to get weapons from gun shows and carry out random attacks.

He said: 'America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms.

'You can go down to a gun show at the local convention centre and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card.'

In one section of the video the logos of Exxon, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America are shown as possible targets.

Gadahn then goes on to give encouraging words for any would be terrorists.

He continues: 'Getting to these criminals isn't as hard as you might think.

'I mean we've seen how a woman knocked the Pope to the floor during Christmas mass, and how Italian leader Berlusconi's face was smashed during a public appearance.

'So it's just a matter of entrusting the matter to Allah and choosing the right place, the right time, and the right method.

'Target major institutions and public figures.

'Do Not Rely on Others, Take the Task Upon Yourself.

'What are you waiting for?'

Gadahn, the grandson of a Jewish urologist, was born Adam Pearlman.

In a bizarre twist, his parents became fundamentalist Christians and changed their name to Gadahn.

The Al-Qaeda figurehead, on the FBI's most wanted list, moved to Pakistan in 1998 where he became a senior commander in al Qaeda. Read More


'We can live the American dream' says Obama as jobs take massive hit... and almost half those created are at McDonald's - 4th June 2011

President Barack Obama flew to the Midwest today in an attempt to promote his economic agenda - the same day a damning report revealed the number of jobs plunged in May making it the weakest month this year.

Far fewer workers than expected were hired last month painting a bleak picture for the U.S. economy while the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 per cent.

The U.S added a minuscule 54,000 new jobs in May and of that 20,000 were created by McDonald's.

The President visited the Chrysler plant in Ohio today to highlight the auto industry's rebound, a rare bright spot in an otherwise sluggish economy.

He told plant workers: ''We can live out the American dream again… that’s what drives me every day I step into the Oval office.

We’ve got to live within our means, everybody’s got to do their part. Middle-class workers like you, though, shouldn’t be bearing all the burden. You work too hard for someone to ask you to pay more so that somebody who’s making millions or billions of dollars can pay less.'

The President added: 'We are people who will forge a better future because that is what we do… when we come together, no-one can stop us.

'We’re still feeling the sting of the recession… even though the economy is growing, even though it has created more than two million jobs in the last 15 months.'

Republicans mocked Mr Obama’s speech and economic record.

Former GOP Rep. Fred Grandy told Fox News: '[The speech] was political response to an economic question… an attempt to distract our attention from the looming financial crisis that we’re capable of handling.' Read More

Abiah Jones, 11, died in horror 100ft plunge from moving Ferris wheel during school field trip -

An 11-year-old girl has died after falling 100 feet from a Ferris wheel during a school trip.

Horrified classmates watched as Abiah Jones, from Pleasantville, New Jersey, fell from the upper half of the big wheel at just after midday on Friday as the ride at the Wildwood boardwalk, also in New Jersey, was still moving.

Police said the girl was over half-way up the ride when she fell from her Ferris wheel car.

She plunged into the area in front of the ride where children were getting on and off.

Police said there was no sign that it was an intentional jump or horseplay.

The ride owners said it appeared that the girl was alone in one of the car's passenger gondolas, which is secured with a double latch.

The door of the car opens inward, making it difficult to climb out of, the company said.

The tragic accident happened during the boardwalk's annual Education Extravaganza - a day for students from grades three to 12 and their teachers to enjoy the park and nearby beach and amusement pier.

The girl was on a trip with her school, the Pleasant Tech Academy. Read More


Craig Wyatt dials 911 after he's bitten on the thumb by a KITTEN (it was angry because he tried to tie a string around its neck...) 3rd June 2011

A man has managed to avoid caution for wasting police time after he called 911 when a tiny kitten bit him on the thumb.

Craig Wyatt, 24, from Indiana, desperately called authorities yesterday after a cat he found in a woodpile left a small puncture in his skin.

It is little surprise the kitten was so vicious - when police arrived Wyatt told them he had been attacked after trying to tie a piece of string around the animal's neck.

The cat had been tied to a tree by Wyatt by the time officers responded to his call.

Officer Chris Helmer told the Indianapolis Star the cat was 'very calm and nonaggressive unless it was provoked.'

While cat bites can be dangerous if the animal has rabies, this kitten was not a threat, according to the officer.

Helmer, who promptly removed the kitten from Wyatt's custody, said he had a small puncture through his right thumbnail and a puncture on the bottom of his thumb.

The officer did not report Wyatt for wasting his time but instead filed a bite report.

'He should be locked up,' one commenter wrote on the IndyStar website. 'What a moron.'

'Will he be fined for abuse of the 911 system?' wrote another.

A sceptical commenter added: 'A kitten's teeth are so small they can barely break a man's skin.' Source

How worms are helping scientists understand the human health risks of space travel - 3rd June 2011

Sending millions of worms into space may not sound like it would reap many rewards.

But scientists who examined the effect of sending the microscopic creatures into orbit found they could help us understand the threats posed to human health by space travel.

They have also given experts an insight into how to stop the muscles of elderly and sick people from degrading.

The Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) worms, from The University of Nottingham, were taken from a Bristol rubbish dump and flown into space onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

They spent 11 days in orbit onboard the International Space Station more than 200 miles above the earth.

The type of worm, which feeds on bacteria on decaying vegetable matter, was chosen because many of its 20,000 genes perform the same functions as those in humans.

Experts in human physiology from the School of Graduate Entry Medicine wanted to study the effectiveness of feeding them RNA interference (RNAi).

It is a tried and tested technique which regulates gene expression in diseased tissue.

They wanted to see whether the same method could be used to reduce or control the dramatic muscle loss experienced by astronauts during spaceflight.

The results of the research, published in the PLoS ONE journal, showed RNAi functions normally in space flight.

It also revealed it could be used as a viable option to treat and control muscle degradation suffered by astronauts during space trips. Read More

Woman takes dog for early morning walk without a lead - and a 10-foot alligator eats it! - 3rd June 2011

A Florida woman was taking her dog for an early morning walk yesterday, when she rounded a corner only to see an alligator eating her beloved pet.

Palm Beach Gardens Police said the woman did not have the 80-pound dog on its lead when she went out at 7am, on a popular walking route at the PGA National Resort & Spa.

Local resident Marc Ennis said he saw the moment the unlucky pooch disappeared. Mr Ennis said the dog jumped into some water but was immediately snatched by a 10-foot alligator.

He told WPBF 25 News: 'It had the dog in its mouth, the remains of a dog. It happened so quick.'

Today the dog's owner was too distraught to speak about the incident.

News of the dog-eating alligator spread quickly among the neighbours of Ryder Cup Boulevard.

It's not uncommon for residents to walk their dogs near the pond where the alligator was lurking. Neighbours said there is still a paw print from where the dog went in the water.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers were called, and a trapper removed the gator.

'I saw him trap it,' Mr Ennis added. 'He caught it. He snagged it, then he brought it to shore, and basically came up from behind it and grabbed it from the mouth from the top.'Link

Local residents said they were pleased that the alligator has been caught but wildlife authorities warned dog-walkers to always have their animals on a leash.

Neighbour Don Mcaliley said he'll be more alert while walking his dog. He said: 'I'm glad it's caught, but I'm going to make sure that that's the right one," Mcaliley said.

Wildlife said the alligator was caught and euthanised. Source

Paul Lambeth a Cyclist killed motorist 'Tony Magdi' in road rage attack after driver opened his car door in front of him and gets JUST 18 Months

(Image) Jailed: Cyclist Paul Lambeth punched motorist Tony Magdi, who later died from his wounds.

A cyclist was jailed for 18 months today after he killed a motorist who opened his car door in front of him.

Tony Magdi, 52, died three weeks after being assaulted outside his greengrocer's shop in Hove, East Sussex, on November 7 last year.

Paul Lambeth, 36, was originally charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, but this was changed to manslaughter following Mr Magdi's death at Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre in Haywards Heath on November 28.

Sentencing him at Hove Crown Court, Judge Michael Lawson QC said he had given Lambeth credit for pleading guilty at the first available opportunity.

But he added that the fact that he did not give himself up straight away - and only did so after he had already been identified as a suspect and police were looking for him - was a strong aggravating factor.

Outlining the circumstances of the case, prosecutor Amy Packham said Lambeth had been cycling with two friends, James Jones and Michael Wilson, eastbound along Portland Road towards central Hove at around midday when the incident happened.

The three men were cycling in a line with Mr Jones in front when they approached Mr Magdi's Jaguar which had just pulled up and parked. Mr Magdi then opened his door before the cyclists had passed.

'The door struck a passing cyclist. There was a collision between the cyclist and the door,' Miss Packham said.

'This cyclist was not the defendant, it was his friend Mr James Jones, and they collided, causing Mr Jones to lose control of his bike and fall on to the road.'

Miss Packham said the collision forced Lambeth and Mr Wilson to brake and swerve, while a fourth passing cyclist, Anthony Randles, fell off his bike.

The court heard that, although all four cyclists were initially angry with Mr Magdi - with Lambeth hurling insults at the apologetic driver - 'the immediate confrontation and anger had passed'.

Miss Packham continued: 'It was at this point that the defendant suddenly punched Mr Magdi without provocation' and he fell hard on to the pavement.'

The prosecutor said Mr Jones then shouted at Lambeth, asking him why he had landed the punch, to which he replied: 'I'm not wearing it.'

Lambeth then mounted his bike and cycled away with Mr Wilson.

Mr Jones and Mr Randles tried to assist Mr Magdi by putting him in the recovery position, but when it became clear that he was unconscious and unresponsive, Mr Jones too panicked and fled the scene.

A passing doctor came to Mr Magdi's aid and he was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton by ambulance.

However, a CT scan showed he had significant bleeding on his brain and he was transferred to Hurstwood Park where he died three weeks later. Source