Friday, June 10, 2011

Crop Circle at The Sanctuary, Avebury, Wiltshire -- 28 May 2011

Syrian army filmed beating elderly prisoner, civillians



The unverified footage, reportedly shot in Jobar near Homs in the west of the country, was uploaded on June 9.

It shows two men forced to lie face down on the ground with their hands bound behind their backs.

Soldiers repeatedly kick and taunt them. One shouts: “This is for insulting the regime," and “this is for collaborating with Israel”.

Homs has been the scene of continuing clashes between Syrian security services and anti-government protesters who are calling for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad.

In the northwest of the country people are fleeing across the border into Turkey as Syrian government forces attack the town of Jisr al-Shughur, where authorities say 120 police and troops were massacred. (read more)

Syria: Turkey condemns violence as Assad's helicopters open fire

Syria's former ally Turkey cut off the regime of President Bashar al-Assad as his tanks crashed into a key northern city and shelled rebel villages, killing more than 28 people.

Reports in Ankara said Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was planning to create a buffer zone to prevent its instability spilling into Turkish territory.

Mr Erdogan, who once said he would be a "brother" to President Assad, condemned the Assad regime's use of violence to put down protests as "savagery" and in a key move said he could support intervention by the United Nations.

His turn against the Syrian regime, coming as ever more detailed reports emerged of a bloody mutiny against the regime in the city of Jisr al-Shughour, near the Turkish border, and of massacres nearby, leaves President Assad isolated apart from support from neighbouring Iran.

Almost 3,000 Syrian refugees have poured into Turkey, and authorities there are preparing room for 10,000 more as fighting continues.

Regime tanks and troops, answering to President Assad's brother Maher, moved into the town on Friday, arresting men they found there. (read more)

Poor China export figures pull down markets

Markets on both sides of the Atlantic took a turn for the worse on Friday amid fears the global economic reocvery could be stumbling after data showed China's export growth slowed in May.

In London, the FTSE 100 plunged 90.54 points to a two-and-a-half-month low of 5,765.8, while on Wall Street, the benchmark index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, tumbled 172 points to 11952.

Over recent weeks, investors have been fretting over data showing that the US economy has hit a soft patch.

On Friday, they were further rattled by figures showing that China's exports rose 19.4pc in May from a year earlier, slowing from the 29.9pc pace in April, while import growth accelerated to 28.4pc from 21.8pc in April. The Nasdaq closed down 41 points at 2643.73 – below its trading level at the beginning of the year.

Slowing copper imports sent the price of the metal down 1.3pc in London and took their toll on mining stocks, which helped to drag down the FTSE.

Traders described it as a "very tough week" for the markets. (read more)

Starlite, the nuclear blast-defying plastic that could change the world

Two decades ago amateur scientist Maurice Ward invented a material that could resist the force of 75 Hiroshimas. So why haven't we all heard about it?

The gentleman feels for something in his jacket pocket. It's a nice suit, and it is accompanied by a suitably gentlemanly bow-tie. The effect is sartorially unusual but not too much. What will come out of the pocket, though, is more than unusual. It is unparalleled and almost unbelievable. 'Here,' says Maurice Ward, handing over a creamy small square. 'That's Starlite.' It's a piece of plastic that bends in all directions, with a charred mark the size of a coin on one side. 'That's from the nuclear blast,' says Ward. 'Don't worry, there's no nuclear stuff on it. I wouldn't have given it to you otherwise.'

It feels and looks like nothing much, but holding this nondescript piece of plastic would be, to the world's defence and scientific community, somewhat of a privilege. Starlite, invented by the white-bearded, suited Ward, has been described as astonishing; impossible; miraculous. It has changed assumptions about thermodynamics and physics. It can resist temperatures that would melt diamonds, threefold. 'If it is what it seems,' says Toby Greenbury, a partner at law firm Mischon de Reya and Ward's lawyer for 20 years, 'it will be of enormous benefit to mankind. It's very difficult to think of another invention that is bigger in its implications.' As a fire-retardant, thermal barrier or heat-resistant coating, Starlite could change the world. Except that it hasn't, and that's as much of a mystery as the secret, unheard of properties of the material Ward invented 23 years ago. (read more)

Why are South China Sea tensions rising?

Imagine an exchange of fire between Chinese and Vietnamese navies in the South China Sea.

Or just an accidental bump between Chinese and American warships, as high-stakes manoeuvring gets out of hand.

Or the arrest by China's navy of hundreds, not just dozens, of Vietnamese fishermen in disputed waters, sparking US voices to support Hanoi against Beijing - or the other way around.

Fanciful scenarios? Certainly.

But the impact of a conflict over a storm-tossed and otherwise unremarkable stretch of water south of China and bordered by most South East Asian states would be far-reaching.

The shipping of Middle Eastern oil to Japan would be at risk, north-east Asian economies could stall, trade between China and South East Asia could be blocked in tit-for-tat recriminations and much more if the world's two biggest powers became locked in combat. (read more)

E.Coli blammed on sprouts, but data suggests otherwse -- Sprouts data complicate outbreak investigation

An epidemiologic report from German investigators yesterday said the initial case-control study found that just 28% of patients reported they had eaten sprouts, the lead suspect in Europe's Escherichia coli outbreak, pointing up a factor can be difficult to interpret in foodborne illness situations.

Though German public officials seem to be zeroing in on sprouts, interviews comparing the food consumption patterns of sick patients and healthy people still suggest that several types of vegetables could be the source, and a third study is under way to focus more on salad ingredients. The full report, posted on the Robert Koch Institute's Web site, appears in German. (CIDRAP News obtained a professionally translated version of the findings.)

The RKI said a trace-back investigation conducted by Lower Saxony state's department of agriculture suggests that E coli patients ate sprouts that came from a specific farm, a development that was announced on Jun 5. It said the country's national laboratory at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment was still conducting tests on the farm's sprout samples.

Yesterday Lower Saxony officials announced two new clues—more case clusters that pointed to sprouts and the identification of two sick farm employees—that cast stronger suspicion on sprouts, even though officials in neighboring Saxony Anhalt state found the E coli O104:H4 outbreak strain on a piece of cucumber from a sick family's compost bin. (read more)

Deadly Fungus Strikes Joplin Tornado Survivors, Volunteers

The Greene County (Mo.) Health Department has issued a memo to health care workers who are treating injured victims of May's deadly Joplin tornado, warning them that a powerful fungus has infected patients' wounds.

The Springfield News-Leader reports as many as nine cases have been reported in tornado victims across the area in various hospitals. Once the aggressive fungus -- called zygomycosis -- enters the body, it causes the death of infected cells. Three or four patients, who otherwise would have survived their wounds, have died from it.

If the fungus stays in a limb, like an arm or leg, some treatments have necessitated amputation to save the patient. Others with wounds near the head weren't so lucky -- as soon as brain tissue started dying, it was too late to save the patient.

The National Institutes of Health says this rapid form of infection most often occurs in patients with suppressed immune systems. One study in 2009 noted a diabetes patient who died of the fungal infection at age 48. Despite being treated early, the man's health rapidly declined as the fungus spread through his lungs.

Infections spread through the blood and affects blood circulation. It is unknown how many people may be suffering from infections, but the problem doesn't stop with those injured by the tornado.

KYTV in Springfield reports those helping with cleanup efforts may become scratched by nails or splinters and any fungus residue on those objects may infect someone. (read more)

This post was reader contributed by our neighbour blog, Wit's End.

'I'm a Marxist,' Dalai Lama tells Chinese students

Usually what we hear from the Dalai Lama is an insistant yet soothing voice for compassion and peace.

So Tsering Namgyal, a journalist based in Minneapolis, was jolted by the Dalai Lama's talk to 150 Chinese students this month at the University of Minnesota. Writing at Religion Dispatches, he says:

Midway through the conversation, His Holiness, much to their surprise, told them "as far as socio-political beliefs are concerned, I consider myself a Marxist ... But not a Leninist," he clarified.

After all, China is constantly pressing to legitimize its takeover of Tibet in world opinion. Meanwhile, the Buddhist spiritual leader is the global symbol of Tibetan opposition and what the opposition considers the obliteration of its independence and religious culture.

The Dalai Lama, who withdrew from his political position as head of the Tibetan government in exile earlier this year, is still the face of the cause to most Americans.

When one student asked if this didn't contradict the Dalai Lama's philosophy, he replied:

Marx was not against religion or religious philosophy per se but against religious institutions that were allied, during Marx's time, with the European ruling class. He also provided an interesting anecdote about his experience with Mao. He said that Mao had felt that the Dalai Lama's mind was very logical, implying that Buddhist education and training help sharpens the mind. He said he met with Mao several times, and that once, during a meeting in Beijing, the Chinese leader called him in and announced: "Your mind is scientific!" -- an assessment that was followed by the famous line, "religion is poison."

According to Namgyal, two other speakers pointed out that both Buddhism and Christianity, perhaps riding in with the surge in Western-style capitalism in China, are both on the rise there today. (read more)

Wheelchair For Boy With Cerebral Palsy Stolen In Lawrence

Police are looking for a suspect or suspects who stole an 8-year-old’s wheelchair from the family’s front yard in Lawrence on Wednesday.

Heeclif de la Rosa’s 8-year-old son Isaiah has cerebral palsy. He can’t sit, stand or walk, and the very thing he needs the most was stolen from him: his wheelchair.

“I cant beleive anyone would do this. We are parents who do anything we can for him and this just hurt us,” said Isaiah’s mom Meilene Velazquez.

When WBZ-TV initially ran the story Thursday evening, all Isaiah had left is his broken wheelchair, which he also out-grew. The one that was stolen is the one the family used to transport him in everyday.

“You have to think someone needs it to get around. So it’s pretty hard to think someone would blatanly come up and take it,” said Heeclif. (read more)

US States so broke they're considering online lottery sales

Going to the local convenience store to buy a lottery ticket might be the next common practice to give way to technology.

Minnesota began offering online lottery sales in November, and a bill to allow online sales has passed through an Assembly committee in New Jersey. Other states are exploring the idea.

"All gaming operations, including state lotteries, are trying to move toward Internet gambling," says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

A total of 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands offer lotteries according to www.usa.gov.

Republican New York Assemblyman Clifford Crouch is sponsoring a bill that would allow online sales of Quick Draw and other games, with a goal of expanding the market.

Edwin McGuinn, chief executive officer of eLottery of Stamford, Conn., projects that a state with online lottery sales would increase revenue 15% within five years and attract "a demographic who doesn't traditionally go into a convenience store to buy a ticket," at a time when many states are grappling with budget deficits. He said that, in Britain and Finland, the online portions of government lottery sales are 15% and 25%, respectively. (read more)

West Miami-Dade brush fire consumes over 50,000 acres and still going

The brush fire battle in West Miami-Dade isn't getting any easier for firefighters as it continues to burn Friday morning.

The fire has now consumed over 50,000 acres and is 50 percent contained, according to the Florida Division of Forestry.

On Thursday, firefighters evacuated homes in the Miccosukee Tiger Trail complex after the fire came as close as 40 feet to the homes. Miami Dade Fire Rescue along with The Florida Division of Forestry teamed up to knock down the flames

"We knew that we couldn't stop it," said Scott Peterich with the Division of Forestry. "So, Miami Dade Fire Rescue and us decided to go ahead and do this counter fire. We created a back fire, and now we have a black area making it safe for the structures."

Officials say the area near the homes is secure and the residents are no longer in danger. Fire rescue and Division of Forestry workers remain at the scene, and Krome Avenue between Tamiami Trail and Okeechobee Road remained closed Friday due to poor visibility from smoke.

It's unknown how the fire, which has been burning since Sunday, began. It's possible it may have been sparked by an ATV, officials said. (Source)

Dope-Smoking, Menstruating Monkey Study Got $3.6 Million in Tax Dollars

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), has spent $3,634,807 over the past decade funding research that involves getting monkeys to smoke and drink drugs such as PCP, methamphetamine (METH), heroin, and cocaine and then studying their behavior, including during different phases of the female monkeys’ menstrual cycles.

The study also uses “interventions” as “treatment models” for monkeys who have been taught to use drugs.

NIDA wins CNSNews.com's "What Were They Smoking Award"—symbolized by The Golden Hookah (see video)—for sponsoring an outrageous government spending program that sends taxpayer dollars up in smoke. (read more)

Scientists: ‘Super’ Wheat To Boost Food Security

Scientists say they’re close to producing new “super varieties” of wheat that will resist a virulent fungus while boosting yields up to 15 percent, potentially easing a deadly threat to the world’s food supply.

The research is part of a global drive to protect wheat crops from the Ug99 strain of stem rust. It will be presented next week at a conference in St. Paul that’s part of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, based at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., organizers said Thursday.

Scientists will also report that Ug99 variants are becoming increasingly virulent and are being carried by the winds beyond Uganda and other East African countries where they were first identified in 1999. Once infected with the deadly fungus, wheat plants become covered in reddish-brown blisters.

According to a news release issued by the initiative ahead of the symposium, the fungus has now spread across all of eastern and southern Africa, and it might just be a matter of time before it reaches India or Pakistan, and even Australia and the Americas. (read more)

Jim Rogers: The Fed Will Return With QE3, "But They May Disguise It"

China ratings house says US defaulting: report

A Chinese ratings house has accused the United States of defaulting on its massive debt, state media said Friday, a day after Beijing urged Washington to put its fiscal house in order.

"In our opinion, the United States has already been defaulting," Guan Jianzhong, president of Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. Ltd., the only Chinese agency that gives sovereign ratings, was quoted by the Global Times saying.

Washington had already defaulted on its loans by allowing the dollar to weaken against other currencies -- eroding the wealth of creditors including China, Guan said.

Guan did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.

The US government will run out of room to spend more on August 2 unless Congress bumps up the borrowing limit beyond $14.29 trillion -- but Republicans are refusing to support such a move until a deficit cutting deal is reached.

Ratings agency Fitch on Wednesday joined Moody's and Standard & Poor's to warn the United States could lose its first-class credit rating if it fails to raise its debt ceiling to avoid defaulting on loans.

A downgrade could sharply raise US borrowing costs, worsening the country's already dire fiscal position, and send shock waves through the financial world, which has long considered US debt a benchmark among safe-haven investments. (read more)

Glenn Beck and Jim Rogers: The US is the world's biggest debtor

NATO faces 'dim' future: U.S. defence secretary

America's military alliance with Europe — the cornerstone of U.S. security policy for six decades — faces a "dim, if not dismal" future, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Friday in a blunt valedictory address.

In his final policy speech as Pentagon chief, Gates questioned the viability of NATO, saying its members' penny-pinching and lack of political will could hasten the end of U.S. support. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in 1949 as a U.S.-led bulwark against Soviet aggression, but in the post-Cold War era it has struggled to find a purpose.

"Future U.S. political leaders — those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me — may not consider the return on America's investment in NATO worth the cost," he told a European think-tank on the final day of an 11-day overseas journey.

Gates has made no secret of his frustration with NATO bureaucracy and the huge restrictions many European governments placed on their military participation in the Afghanistan war. He ruffled NATO feathers early in his tenure with a direct challenge to contribute more front-line troops that yielded few contributions.

Even so, Gates' assessment Friday that NATO is falling down on its obligations and foisting too much of the hard work on the U.S. was unusually harsh and unvarnished. He said both of NATO's main military operations now — Afghanistan and Libya — point up weaknesses and failures within the alliance. (read more)

Toyota forecasts $1.6 billion profit drop

Toyota Motor Corp. forecast that it could lose more than $1 billion in profits in the current fiscal year because of disruptions from the tsunami and earthquake that ravaged Japan in March.

Toyota released its forecast Friday for the fiscal 2012, projecting that net profit will drop about $1.6 billion compared to the current year.

The Japanese automaker forecasts that consolidated net income will drop 31% to $3.4 billion in the fiscal year ending next March 31. That's compared to $5 billion in net income in the current fiscal year. (read more)

U.N. official calls for investigations in rising Ivory Coast violence

A U.N. human rights official is calling for "immediate, impartial" investigations over reports of attacks by armed forces of Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara against civilians in areas known to support former President Laurent Gbagbo.

The mission is "particularly concerned about the increase of violent incidents and attacks carried out by elements of the RFIC (Republican Forces of Ivory Coast) against several villages," Guillaume Ngefa, acting director of the Human Rights Division of the U.N. Mission in Ivory Coast, said at a press conference Thursday.

"The alleged perpetrators of these serious human rights violations must be identified, pursued and punished in accordance with the law."

Recent attacks in southern and western Ivory Coast have left at least two people dead and dozens hurt. The United Nations denounced the use of heavy weapons to maintain order and called for the RFIC to be given sufficient and appropriate means to maintain law and order.

"The government and the RFIC authorities should initiate training for RFIC elements, especially on human rights and the basic principles on the use of force and the use of firearms by those responsible for applying the law," Ngefa said.

Nina Toure, spokesperson for the Ministry of Homeland Security, said the government is taking note but expressed some reservations about allegations of human right violations. (read more)

Helicopter gunships fire at Syria protest - witnesses - 10th June 2011

Syrian helicopter gunships fired machineguns to disperse a large pro-democracy protest in the town of Maarat al-Numaan on Friday, witnesses said, in the first reported use of air power to quell protests in Syria's uprising.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that helicopters fired at the town after security forces on the ground killed five protesters, but said no killings were reported in the assault by the helicopters.

Two witnesses said they saw at least five helicopters. Source

Washington state warned of ‘bloodthirsty’ roving wild dog pack after they kill 100 animals… including a 350lb Llama - 10th June 2011

Residents in a small mountain town are on high alert after a pack of 'bloodthirsty' dogs killed 100 animals.

The killings started in late March and animal corpses have been found over a wide area of mountains and valleys.

County sheriff Lavonne Webb said: 'Trying to figure out where they are going to hit is next to impossible. Nobody is claiming ownership of any animals involved in the pack.'

The animals have been spotted roaming near to Deer Park, a small town 40 miles north of Spokane, Washington.

Most recently, the dogs killed a 350-pound llama. They have also destroyed goats and other farm animals.

So far, there have been no attacks on people but authorities are warning residents to take 'whatever steps are necessary' to protect their families and pets.

Sheriff Webb said: 'We have this pack that is out there killing for the sake of killing. What is going to happen if they come across a small child?'

Officers and volunteers have searched for the pack but had little success because the dogs mostly roam at night.

The sheriff added: 'We've only had one or two sightings during daytime hours.'

One resident did manage to photograph the pack which appears to include at least four or five large dogs.

It's not clear if they are wild or go home to owners during the day. Their breeds are unknown.

Sheriff Webb said that she has worked in the town since the Seventies and never encountered such a problem.

Deer Park resident Temma Davis told local station KXLY-TV that neighbours were worried about dogs attacking their children walking to school and riding their bikes.

She said: 'They're bloodthirsty.'

Mrs Davis compared the experience to the Stephen King horror film Cujo about a vicious killer dog. Source

Are we aliens on our own planet? Meteorite suggests life's building blocks evolved in space - 10th June 2011

A meteorite that exploded above Canada 11 years ago has provided strong evidence that life's building blocks came from space.

Fragments of the rock that landed on Tagish Lake, British Columbia, yielded a mix of organic compounds.

They included amino acids and monocarboxylic acids, both essential to the evolution of the first simple life forms on Earth.

Analysis of the chemicals revealed information about their history on the asteroid from which the meteorite came, and lent weight to the theory that organic material originates in gas and dust clouds between the stars.

If the theory is right, the building blocks of life would have been spread throughout our developing solar system.

They may, for example, also have provided a foothold for life on Mars.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Herd, of the University of Alberta, said: 'The mix of pre-biotic molecules, so essential to jump-starting life, depended on what was happening out there in the asteroid belt.

'The geology of an asteroid has an influence on what molecules actually make it to the surface of the Earth.'

The findings were published today in the journal Science.

Experts are confident that the chemicals they analysed were not the result of contamination from the Earth. Read More

Triple-barrelled cannon found in Croatian fort is 'machine gun' forerunner designed by Da Vinci - 10th June 2011

When an ancient three-barrelled cannon was discovered by schoolchildren, museum officials would have known they had stumbled on a rare find.

But now, 40 years after the discovery of the unique weapon, they have learned just how important it is - the gun is a prototype designed by Leonardo Da Vinci himself.

The cannon was discovered in a Croatian fort, but only now has it been confirmed it was designed more than 500 years ago by the artist and inventor.

Da Vinci was famous for his weapons of war which were hugely in demand among the rival factions in the northern Italian cities.

He was the first to invent a breech-loading machine gun with several cannons in rotation which meant soldiers could be firing one, loading another and cooling the third.

The triple-barrel cannon, apparently one of his less successful designs, had been dumped in the Klicevica border fortress near the southern town of Benkovac.

A group of schoolchildren discovered it and told museum officials in the town - but its 15th century origin remained a mystery until today.

The original Da Vinci designs are regarded as forerunners for the modern machine gun. Until now the only Da Vinci cannons on display in Italy have been replicas.

A spokesman for the Benkovac museum said: 'We have only recently confirmed the age of our cannon and that it was one designed by Da Vinci.

'As far as we know this is the only original cannon designed by [him] left in the world.'

The Da Vinci bronze triple barrel canon will now be exhibited in in Benkovac.

The archaeologists believe it was probably brought to the Croatian area of Dalmatia from Venice as Venetians ruled the area at that time and fought Turks for control. Source

Is 'Gay Girl in Damascus' blogger really a student at Edinburgh University Hoaxer? - 10th June 2011

A blogger who has become an internet sensation with her tales of the Syrian uprising could in fact be an Edinburgh-based hoaxer.

Amina Arraf won support for her outspoken criticism of the Syrian regime after she began posting under the name 'A Gay Girl in Damascus'.

But after a letter claiming to be from her cousin said she had gone missing in the Syrian capital Damascus, having possibly been arrested by the authorities, questions began to be asked about how genuine the blog is.

Reports in the U.S. suggest that Miss Arraf, who claims to have been born in the States, has been sending emails from a computer with an Edinburgh IP address.

One commentator has suggested she may even be a student at Edinburgh University, having previously hinted at plans to study there.

During an interview she gave in April, Arraf wrote: 'I've been trying to write a slightly fictionalised autobiography for some time (fictionalised as in other people have their names changed) and when the Arab revolutions began, I realised I wanted to get my voice out there.

'The force of events has meant that my blog is more about events than anything else right now.'

However, suspicions were raised earlier this week when photographs supposedly showing Arraf were, in fact, revealed to be taken from the Facebook page of a young London woman, Jelena Lecic.

American blogger Paula Brooks said she started communicating with Arraf via email in February but became suspicious about her identity when she saw the Edinburgh IP address.

Arraf reportedly told Miss Brooks she occasionally used proxy web addresses to protect her safety in Syria.

An email that Arraf sent to Brooks in February read: 'On another subject, do you have any opinions regarding graduate schools for history/classics/archaeology in the UK?

'I'm applying for Masters' programs (at Edinburgh, St Andrews, Oxford, Cambridge and Kings) with the intention of doing a PhD afterwards (as I can ''commute'' from here for the majority of the time) and wonder if it is a good idea.'

Since Arraf's IP address is in Edinburgh, Brooks has suggested that Arraf could have been blogging from the Scottish capital all along. Read More

Ashley Alford was 'hit on the head with boss's genitals' is awarded $95 million in largest sex harassment award ever

A woman has been awarded a staggering $95 million in compensation in a sexual harassment case against her former employers - believed to be America's highest ever payout.

Ashley Alford, in her mid 20s, won the award from her former employers, Aaron's of St Louis, after a manager in the furniture and electrical store allegedly attacked her in a stockroom, lifting her shirt and masturbating over her while holding her down.

Prosecutors alleged Richard Moore - who is still awaiting trial - would pinch Miss Alford and make inappropriate comments before the 2006 attack.

They say on two occasions he hit her on the head with his penis.

On the second occasion, in October 2006, he was also said to have held her down on the warehouse floor, lifted her shirt and masturbated until he ejaculated on her.

Miss Alford's lawyer David Ratner said: 'From what we can tell, this is the absolute largest sex harassment verdict in the country for an individual plaintiff.'

Miss Alford claimed the assault came after almost a year of escalating harassment in a work environment, 'rife with sexual jokes and lewd propositions.'

In court documents, Miss Alford said Mr Moore sought 'sexual favours in return for her continued employment, her ability to leave for lunch or take a longer lunch hour and her ability to take a vacation.

'For example, Alford testified that Moore gave her unsought gifts for which he demanded 'sucky-sucky.''

She testified that in September 2006, Mr Moore grabbed her by her ponytail, unzipped his trousers, pulled her head back and hit her in the head with his penis.

The papers continued: 'On October 12, 2006, Moore again grabbed Alford, pulled her head against his pants, pulled out his penis and hit her on the head with it.'

In a second attack that day, he was said to have held her down, lifted her shirt and masturbated until he ejaculated on her.

Mr Moore's semen and DNA were later found on paper towels collected by the police.

Despite the massive $95 million award, it is understood a federal cap on harassment damages will limit the total to around $41.6 million.

The court heard how Miss Alford called an internal harassment hotline in May 2006 to report the alleged abuse, but said the complaint was never properly followed up. Read More

Sarfaraz Shah is forced to his knees, Unarmed and is shot at point blank range by military police who casually watch as he bleeds to death - 10th June

After pleading for life on his knees, an unarmed man is shot at point blank range by a military police officer before being left to bleed to death in the street.

In the footage, a plain-clothed man grabs the victim, who allegedly robbed someone, by the hair and drags him over to a group of paramilitary rangers.

He is forced to his knees with his hands behind his back. He pleads for mercy, then one of the soldiers shoots him twice - once in the leg and again in the arm.

The man, identified as Sarfaraz Shah, falls to the ground and screams in pain. He then tips over and passes out as blood spurts from his gaping wounds.

In the horrifying footage the man dies in front of crowds of uniformed officers, as they chat and look on, standing in a street in Karachi, Pakistan.

He died next to a park named after late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was seen around the world as a symbol of democracy.

It is likely to erode what little public confidence remains in Pakistan's security forces who have been on the defensive since Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid. Read More

Back from the dead: Astonishing pictures show how Japan is recovering just three months after tsunami - 10th June 2011

Just three months ago Japan was plunged into chaos after a cataclysmic earthquake sent a merciless tsunami crashing through towns and cities up and down the east coast.

The unforgiving tide of water obliterated tens of thousands of buildings, devouring almost anything in its path. Thousands of people died and hundreds of bodies have never been recovered.

The heart-breaking images of families desperately searching for loved ones amid the rubble of their homes sent shockwaves around the world.

Now, three months on, these images show the Japanese people remain undaunted by the havoc nature has wreaked on their homeland as step by step they rebuild their nation.

But despite their progress, stark reminders of the work left to do means the resilience of this Asian country is still being tested.

Headway in the clean-up has been made in the town of Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture where the pleasure boat ''Hamayuri'', which was remarkably washed up on the rooftop of an inn, has been removed, along with a building shattered by the the wall of water.

Further down is an image of a Shinto shrine gate in the town three days after the March 11 disaster.

The same spot on June 3 which shows thousands of tonnes of rubbish, which had lay smouldering in an almost post-apolcalyptic landscape, has been cleared, roads re-laid and power lines restored.

Civilisation appears to have returned in Natori in Miyagi prefecture too. The first image shows a towering wall of ocean crashing through trees devastating homes and businesses lining the coast, tearing down power lines and drowning anything in its path. Read More

Strong Thunderstorms Fueling Hurricane Adrian - 10th June 2011

The first hurricane of the season, churning off the Pacific coast of Mexico, has all the ingredients to keep going strong, NASA satellite observations show.

Strong thunderstorms are the life's blood of tropical cyclones (the collective name for tropical storms and hurricanes), and infrared and radar satellite data from NASA confirms that the eastern Pacific Ocean's first hurricane has plenty of them — and they're over 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) high.

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Hurricane Adrian yesterday morning (June 9) at 1:59 a.m. EDT (8:29 GMT), and its Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument took an infrared snapshot of the storm's many strong thunderstorms and warm ocean water below. [Related: How Are Hurricanes Named?]

The infrared and other data shows that Adrian has a well-defined eye, the roughly circular, calmer area at the center of a storm that typically forms when a storm is well-developed. The data also show the cold, high cloud tops (colored red in the satellite images) that correspond to the strong thunderstorms in the hurricane.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite captured rainfall and cloud data from Hurricane Adrian when it passed directly above on June 9 at 3:14 a.m. EDT (0714 GMT). The increasingly powerful hurricane had sustained winds estimated to be close to 92 mph (148 kph) at the time of this pass. TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) instrument revealed that beneath the clouds there were intense thunderstorms dropping rain at a rate of over 2 inches (50 mm) per hour in a nearly circular eye wall.

As of 5 a.m. EDT today (June 10), Adrian had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph), making it a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength. Read More

70 students hit by food poisoning, Thailand - 10th June 2011

More than 70 students from Horwang School in Bangkok were hospitalised on Friday morning after suffering from symptoms of food poisoning, including diarrhoea and vomiting.

Vibhavadi Hospital director Prompong Peerabool said their teachers believed the food poisoning was caused by the food they ate on Thursday evening.

Dr Prompong said the students' conditions were not serious.

"They are not likely caused by E. coli but stool samples from the students will be tested for confirmation," the physician said. Source

Measles alert at two Perth hospitals, Australia - 10th June 2011

Perth parents are being warned to watch for signs of measles in their children because of fears four infected people may have spread the highly contagious disease at several locations, including two hospital emergency departments.

The WA Health Department confirmed late today that a large number of people had potentially been exposed to the viral illness, including people attending emergency departments at Princess Margaret and Joondalup hospitals.

There was also a risk the infection had spread at several GP surgeries in the northern suburbs where the patients were seen, and at schools and clubs they attended.

The known cases are an adult who returned from the Philippines with the disease, and an unvaccinated chid who was infected in Thailand and then passed the infection on to his two younger unvaccinated siblings.

Complications from the measles can be very serious, particularly in babies and people with poor immune systems.

Many patients need to be hospitalised and one in 1000 develops encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes followed by a red blotchy rash about three days later. The rash usually breaks out on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Director of communicable disease Paul Armstrong said public health staff were contacting people who had been exposed to the virus to provide advice. Source

Bird flu claims 6th victim this year in Cambodia - 10th June 2010

The Health Ministry said Friday the girl from Prey Veng province died June 7 of respiratory complications. Cambodia has now had 16 cases, and 14 victims have died. Its previous annual high was four deaths in 2005.

The ministry and the World Health Organization say 555 cases of bird flu have been confirmed since 2003 globally and 324 were fatal.

The H5N1 virus first raged across Asia in 2003, devastating poultry stocks. Many countries have improved farm hygiene to attack the virus at its source. Most human infections have been linked to close contact with sick birds. Source