Thursday, June 16, 2011

Greek debt crisis is Europe's 'Lehman moment'

Stock and bond markets lurched on Thursday amid fears that the Greek sovereign debt crisis was about to unleash a "Lehman-like" shock on the global financial system.

Traders feared that the political chaos and riots across Greece would cause a default, which in turn would trigger a tsunami through the financial system – as the collapse of Lehman Brothers did in 2008.

Neil Mackinnon, an economist at VTB Capital in London and a former Treasury official, said: "The probability of a eurozone Lehman moment is increasing. The markets have moved from simply pricing in a high probability of a Greek debt default to looking at a scenario of it becoming disorderly and of contagion spreading to other economies like Portugal, like Ireland, and maybe Spain, Italy and Belgium."

London's FTSE 100 closed down 0.76pc at 5698.81, following a 1pc drop on Wednesday. Major exchanges in Germany and France plunged as well. Asian stock markets had already fallen overnight on Wednesday and US markets followed in early trading yesterday.

The euro hit an all-time low against the Swiss franc and fell 0.1pc against the dollar to $1.4161. The cost of insuring Greek debt against default also hit a fresh record. Five-year credit default swaps on Greek government debt rose by 124 basis points to 18.5pc. Greek debt is the most expensive in the world to insure, with the next closest being Venezuelan debt.

At the same time, yields on Greek and Portuguese benchmark 10-year debt hit new highs, up 27 basis points to 17.42pc for Greece and 18 points to 10.28pc for Portugal. Two-year Greek debt is paying 27.55pc annual interest as investors expect it to default. Spain was also caught up in the scare, with yields on 10-year debt hitting an 11-year high of 5.7pc. (read more)

Syrian tanks ring restive northern towns of Maarat al-Numan and Khan Sheikhun

Syrian tanks and armoured vehicles have reportedly reinforced their positions around the northern town of Maarat al-Numan, prompting more residents to flee President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown on dissent.

Residents and a Syrian rights group said on Thursday dozens of tanks and personnel carriers also deployed around Khan Sheikhun, a town about 30km south of Maarat al-Numan on the main north-south highway linking Damascus and Aleppo.

"Dozens of tanks, armoured cars, personnel carriers and army trucks have been deployed at entrance points to Khan Sheikhun, and soldiers have started going in" to the northwest town near Hama, said rights activist Rami Abdulrahman.

Despite being globally condemned, al-Assad has continued to send troops to flashpoint cities and towns to suppress protests against his one-party rule.

Syrian rights groups say 1,300 civilians and more than 300 soldiers and police have been killed since the protests, inspired by Arab uprisings which toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, broke out in March against 41 years of rule by the Assad family. (read more)

At least 5 dead in attack on police headquarters in Nigeria

A bomber whose blast Thursday killed at least five people, including himself, at police headquarters in Nigeria's capital was probably targeting the inspector-general of police, a security source who has spoken to investigators told CNN.

The incident occurred at 11 a.m. in Abuja, when the car carrying the bomb followed the convoy of Inspector-General Hafiz Abubakar Ringim as it entered police headquarters. It detonated less than two minutes after Ringim had left the convoy and entered the building, the source said.

The source questioned Ringim's official characterization of the blast as a suicide attack, suggesting instead that the detonation may have been triggered by accident.

Emergency workers used body bags, ambulances, a hydraulic spreader and cutters to deal with the aftermath of the bombing. Thick, black smoke billowed, and flames melted cars in the parking lot.

"It's serious, very serious, as so many cars are on fire," said Umar Mariga, the National Red Cross spokesman. (read more)

Pelosi's wealth grows by 62 percent

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saw her net worth rise 62 percent last year, cementing her status as one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

Pelosi was worth at least $35.2 million in the 2010 calendar year, according to a financial disclosure report released Wednesday. She reported a minimum of $43.4 million in assets and about $8.2 milion in liabilities.

For 2009, Pelosi reported a minimum net worth of $21.7 million.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also remained a multimillionaire. He reported that his minimum net worth in 2010 was close to $2.1 million, with zero liabilities. His 2009 minimum net worth was more than $1.8 million.

Forms disclosing the assets and liabilities of lawmakers for the 2010 calendar year were released Wednesday. The forms give a good estimate of lawmaker wealth, though they show ranges and not precise values for stocks, pension plans, vacation homes and other assets of lawmakers. (read more)

Ron Paul's Answers at the CNN GOP Debate in New Hampshire

Greek politics in turmoil over austerity measures

Greece faced an escalating political crisis Thursday, with critics in the governing Socialist party in open revolt over harsh austerity measures despite assurances from the European Union that Athens would a receive rescue loan money needed to avoid a summer default.

The party feud was the latest crisis to heighten worldwide concern that danger of a Greek financial collapse could trigger panic elsewhere in the 17-nation eurozone — a fear that saw borrowing costs in vulnerable EU countries surge and stock markets come under pressure.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was forced to delay a planned Cabinet reshuffle and convene an emergency party meeting Thursday after two Socialist deputies resigned and others openly questioned his leadership.

"The political system is rotting ... The country is not being governed the way it should be," said Socialist deputy Nikos Salagianis. "A reshuffle will not resolve the country's problems."

Papandreou is trying to push through a five-year austerity program worth euro28 billion ($39.5 billion) that has been demanded by international creditors. The new spending cuts and taxes have spurred violent street protests as well as the party rebellion. (read more)

World outrage boils over Syrian crisis



Syrian refugees continue to flee across the Turkish border to escape violence, as world powers amplify their outrage over the Damascus regime's tough crackdown on peaceful demonstrators.

The number of Syrian refugees now in Turkey stands at 8,904, Turkish emergency officials said on Thursday.

This increase comes as Turkish government officials, including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, met with a special Syrian envoy to help stem the growing tide of refugees.

Violence in the country and an offensive in and around the town of Jisr al-Shugur spurred thousands to hightail it to the border region, and Turkish officials are worried that the crisis could deteriorate and destabilize the area. (read more)

France recalls hamburgers after E. coli scare

French health authorities have ordered a recall of hamburger patties sold by a German supermarket chain after five children were infected by the E. coli bacteria.

The regional health agency said there was no immediate sign of a link with the deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany in recent weeks.

The health agency for the Nord Pas-de-Calais region said the five children were hospitalized with infections stemming from E. coli. The infections cause severe diarrhea.

It said that four of the children ate frozen ground beef patties made in French factory and sold by German supermarket chain Lidl. Authorities ordered the patties recalled pending further investigation.

The beef for the patties came from farms in France, Germany and the Netherlands, said the French manufacturer that supplied the meat for the patties, SEB.

The recall affects about 10 tons of meat, Guy Lamorlette of SEB told The Associated Press. He said the patties were analyzed before being delivered to supermarket distributors.

The family of one of the hospitalized children brought a box of the patties to health authorities for analysis,said Jerome Gresland, the co-director of Lidl France.

Elsewhere in Europe on Thursday, Germany's disease control centre reported one more patient died in Germany's E. coli outbreak. (read more)

E.coli breaks out in France, 5 children in hospital

Five children admitted to hospital in northern France after eating beefburgers infected with a strain of E.coli bacteria are seriously ill, health officials said on Thursday, fanning fears of a wider outbreak.

The officials said the bacteria did not appear to be related to the lethal strain of E.coli that has killed 37 people and made 3,000 ill, most of them in northern Germany.

Privately owned German discount chain Lidl withdrew boxes of the frozen beefburgers believed to be behind the French infections. The boxes were sold under the brand "Steaks Country" and had expiry dates of May 10, 11 and 12, officials said.

On Wednesday six children, aged between 20 months and eight years and from different towns in the Pas de Calais region, were taken to a hospital in the city of Lille after suffering bouts of bloody diarrhea.

One was released, but five are in a "serious condition" and still being treated at the hospital. Three are being treated with hemodialysis, a method of removing waste products from the blood in the case of kidney failure. (read more)

Russia, China warn West against Arab interference

Russia and China oppose outside interference in the unrest in the Arab world, the two presidents said on Thursday in a declaration, as the West seeks their support for increasing pressure on Syria.

"The sides believe that the search for settling the situation in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa should take place in the legal field and through political means," said the declaration signed by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao.

"Outside forces should not interfere in internal processes in the countries of the region."

Rather, the conflicts should be solved by "launching broad national dialogue about rebuilding stability and social order and the promotion of democratic and economic reforms," the statement said.

The two presidents also expressed concern over the situation in Libya, calling for an end to hostilities between the forces of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and the rebels.

Russia has said it opposes the UN Security Council adopting any resolution on Syria, risking a major dispute with the West over the response to the crackdown on Syrian protestors.

China has backed Russia's cautious stance although, as is customary, it has allowed its fellow permanent UN Security Council member to do most of the public talking on the issue.

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich confirmed in Moscow that Russia "as before" was opposed to a UN Security Council resolution on Syria. (read more)

Man sets self on fire in front of New Hampshire courthouse -- suicide protest?

Police in Keene said a man found on fire in front of the Cheshire County Superior Courthouse on Wednesday night has died.The call came in to the Keene Police Department at 5:30 p.m., according to Lt. Todd Lawrence.Police said the man was thoroughly burned when they arrived at the scene.

The victim has not been identified, and it's not known why he was on fire, police said.There was a strong smell of gasoline at the scene, Lawrence said, and police believe an accelerant was involved.Police said they're not classifying the situation as a suicide or a homicide at this time; however, they said evidence so far suggests the man set himself on fire.

Witnesses said what they saw in front of the courthouse almost defied belief."I saw a man standing on fire. He walked around a little bit, walked on to the grass, collapsed on all fours and literally sat there and burned," said witness Dan Koski."(The flames were) over his head, and when he was on the ground, they were probably a good foot over his body," said witness Jerry Goodrich.

Several men said their attempts to help the burning man proved ineffective, partly because it appeared he did not want to be helped. (read more)

NYC geese to be slaughtered to (probably) feed needy in Pennsylvania

New York City plans to send geese captured around its airports to a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse and then distribute them to food banks there.

The decision by the city Department of Environmental Protection was made following criticism that the gassed geese were dumped into landfills.

A department spokesman tells The New York Times that it wanted its efforts to enhance public safety but also help those in need.

Goose eradication was authorized after U.S. Airways Flight 1549 made a miraculous landing in the Hudson River in 2009 after geese were caught in its engines.

The agency said that next year the meat will probably be fed to needy New Yorkers. (read more)

Thieves now targeting abandoned cars at funerals -- America is in decline

Cheltenham police have released surveillance photos of two women whom they say used a credit card that was stolen from a car at a local cemetery over the weekend.

And investigators say these two women may have struck before.

According to police, the two women used the stolen credit card to make purchases totaling more than $700 from several gas stations and three stores at the Cheltenham Mall.

They say the card had been in a purse taken from the unlocked car of a visitor to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Sunday morning.

Police chief John Norris says there was a rash of this type of thefts from the same cemetery around the same time last year.

“People were in the cemetery — a couple were funerals where people were actually at the funeral for a deceased relative or friend — and somebody broke into their cars,” he told KYW Newsradio. (read more)

Al-Qaida Hit List Targets Specific Americans

An al-Qaida-linked website has posted a potential hit list of targets that include names and photos of several U.S. officials and business leaders, calling for terrorists to target these Americans in their own homes, NBC New York has learned.

The FBI has sent out a new intelligence bulletin to law enforcement agencies, warning that this new web-based threat, while not a specific plot, is very detailed. The bulletin said the list includes leaders "in government, industry and media."

The FBI has notified those individuals who are named.

NBC New York will not identify them or their companies. The list includes Wall Street firms, political leaders, leaders with think tanks and contractors who do business with the military.

The websites contain 40 specific names, 26 of them with photos attached, and they call for posting home addresses. One jihadist called for sending package bombs to any listed address as just one possibility. (read more)

China military paper urges steps against U.S. cyber war threat

China must boost its cyber-warfare strength to counter a Pentagon push, the country's top military newspaper said on Thursday after weeks of friction over accusations that Beijing may have launched a string of Internet hacking attacks.

The accusations against China have centered on an intrusion into the security networks of Lockheed Martin Corp and other U.S. military contractors, and deceptions intended to gain access to the Google e-mail accounts of U.S. officials and Chinese human rights advocates.

But the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army said it was Beijing that was vulnerable to attack, in a news report that surveyed the Pentagon's efforts in cyber security.

"The U.S. military is hastening to seize the commanding military heights on the Internet, and another Internet war is being pushed to a stormy peak," concluded the report in the Chinese-language Liberation Army Daily.

"Their actions remind us that to protect the nation's Internet security, we must accelerate Internet defense development and accelerate steps to make a strong Internet army," said the Liberation Army Daily article. (read more)

Russia, China edge closer to strategic gas deal - 16th June 2011

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia edged closer on Thursday to an elusive 30-year gas supply deal with China that could be worth up to $1 trillion to help power Beijing's booming economy and allow Moscow to diversify its exports away from Europe.

An agreement on the gas project would be a big trophy for Chinese President Hu Jintao, who has courted Russia as a way of boosting energy security as robust economic growth increasingly forces China to look abroad for oil and gas.

For Russia, the deal offers state-controlled gas export monopoly Gazprom an alternative market, assuaging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's concern of over-reliance on European customers.

While Hu has made securing energy for the world's second-biggest economy a diplomatic priority, relations with Russia, the world's largest energy producer, have not been smooth.

The two sides have been bogged down in disagreements on pricing for the gas that Gazprom would pump to China.

"At the moment, documents on gas supplies to China are being finalized," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told reporters in the Kremlin after meeting Hu. "This is a strategic document, meant for the decades ahead."

Hu made no direct mention of the price dispute, but said Russia and China viewed energy as a "key area" for cooperation.

"Both sides are willing to keep pushing forward this cooperation on a mutually beneficial, win-win basis," Hu said.

Hu later met Putin at Gazprom's headquarters. Before they went into talks, Putin used a laser pointer in the central dispatch room to show off to his Chinese guest two pipeline projects that are to deliver Russian gas to Europe. Read More

Nebraska Nuclear Plant: Emergency Level 4 & Getting Worse -- Arnie Gundersen; Why isn't this being reported in mainstream?



Fort Calhoun near Omaha, Nebraska

"On June 6, 2011, the Fort Calhoun pressurized water nuclear reactor 20 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska entered emergency status due to imminent flooding from the Missouri River. A day later, there was an electrical fire requiring plant evacuation.

Then, on June 8th, NRC event reports confirmed the fire resulted in the loss of cooling for the reactor's spent fuel pool. The discussion includes specific details of the technical failures at Fort Calhoun, the risks of coolant loss at overcrowded "spent" fuel pools, and the national hazards of nuclear facilities along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and other water sites during the current period of floods and climate change."

==

June 15, 2011

Alexandra Bruce note:

In January 2010, the NRC cited the plant for failure to maintain procedures for combating a significant flood as recommended by Regulatory Guide 1.33, Appendix A, section 6.w, "Acts of Nature."

===

June 15, 2011

Tom Burnett writes on Rense.com on that: "Ft. Calhoun is the designated spent fuel storage facility for the entire state of Nebraska...and maybe for more than one state.*

"Calhoun stores its spent fuel in ground-level pools which are underwater anyway - but they are open at the top. When the Missouri river pours in there, it's going to make Fukushima look like an x-ray. But that's not all. There are a LOT of nuclear plants on both the Missouri and Mississippi and they can all go to hell fast...

"This could be nothing...or, it could wipe out the middle of America." (read more)

Greek PM Reshuffle Plan in Doubt as Deputies Quit -- Severe crisis looming

A string of parliamentary resignations on Thursday threatened to thwart Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's plan to reshuffle his cabinet and pass austerity measures needed to save the nation from default.

The political turmoil raised uncertainty over the Socialist cabinet's five-year plan for tax hikes, spending cuts and state property selloffs demanded by its bailout lenders, spooking investors who fear the problems will infect global markets.

Analysts said it was increasingly unclear whether Papandreou would be able to form a new governing team and get the deeply unpopular measures approved amid the political chaos, which follows nationwide strikes and violent protests in Athens on Wednesday.

"It will be very hard now to find good people to form a government now. They don't trust (Papandreou) after all the flip-flops he has made," said former finance minister Stefanos Manos. "Who will make privatisations now in all this turmoil?" (read more)

"Delete Facebook"

You maybe surprised to learn that I had four Facebook accounts. The main one was for my wife so that she could have a husband in the Facebook world. The other three were accounts I had set up for the Dont-Tread-On.Me and Sons of Liberty Academy. I never really used them,but they were there. The only high point to the whole experience was my first birthday with Facebook,when I received 40 happy birthdays from people all over the country. The reality of the whole Facebook experience is that it never really seemed real.

Despite how many “friends”you have on Facebook,the fact is,we are only lucky to have a handful of real friends in our lives. Having more superficial electronic contact with others,does not improve our lives. If anything it detracts from it as life becomes less human. LOL pales in comparison to a real laugh out loud of sharing an experience with a friend. The more LOL’s we share,the less it means. Soon or later everything is just an electronic dance of acronyms trying to fulfill some missing part of your soul.

When consumerism was first sold to the world,it was designed to get us to buy stuff we don’t really need in an effort to feel better than others. Soon everyone determined their worth not on the strength of our relationships,but by what we were able to consume. You gave up relationships,to work more,to have a better life. The more we worked,the more we bought,the further in debt we went. The combination of work and debt made our real relationships worse,which compelled us to work more,to buy more. This self fulfilling loop spun out of control in our society for decades as people worked harder and harder to “look or feel good”. (read more)

Greece debt crisis sends financial markets falling

Financial markets have fallen further as investors sold shares on fears about the impact of Greece's economic crisis.

Every European market opened lower, with London, Paris and Frankfurt initially down more than 1%.

The sell-off followed falls in Asian markets, with investors worried that the Greek economy has reached a tipping point and that contagion will spread.

Greece's prime minister will try on Thursday to form a new cabinet and push through a debt restructuring plan.

In midday trading, London's FTSE 100 index was down 1.22%. In Germany, the Dax 30 shed almost 1%, and in France, the Cac 40 was down more than 1% down.

The euro hit a three-week low at $1.4090.

"The clock is counting down. The financial markets are worried about a disorderly Greek debt default," said VTB Capital economist Neil MacKinnon.

"The risk of a 'Lehman Moment' for the eurozone is increasing," he added, referring to the collapse of the Wall Street bank in 2008, which caused panic and a global credit crunch. (read more)

Fish Turn Up Dead After Substance Spills Into Ohio River - 16th June 2011

Officials are trying to determine the substance that leaked or spilled into the Ohio River on Wednesday night, killing Asian carp.The leak happened near Rubbertown, but investigators aren't sure where the chemical came from.

Metropolitan Sewer District officials said test results back from water samples showed no high levels of toxins. They're now waiting for analysis on tissue samples taken from the fish. The Lake Dreamland Fire Department said it got a call Wednesday night from Dow Chemical.

One of its cameras noticed a sheen on the river, out in the middle of the Ohio, not by the banks. Lake Dreamland crews went down to investigate and requested help from MSD, the Coast Guard and health department. They sent out a boat to get a better look.

"Physical observation from the boat last night was there was a sheen on the water which could be a petroleum product. Petroleum and oil tends to be on the top. That could be the culprit, but there's also the pollution factor with the river," said MSD executive director Bud Schardein They also found a fish kill.

Several dead Asian carp were found downstream and upstream from Rubbertown, making investigators believe the chemical plants are not to blame."I don't think based on the physical evidence of seeing fish upstream and downstream from the Rubbertown area and the MSD plant that it could have been them because the flow would have been on the downstream," Schardein said. Schardein said the culprit is likely a leaking barge or towboat, something he has seen happen a number of times.

Wednesday night, the Lake Dreamland Fire Department designated the site a level one hazmat situation, the lowest threat level.Officials said there was no danger to the public."We took readings to monitor the level of explosiveness or fire and there never was anything that could have caused harm to anyone but obviously it did affect one particular species of fish," said Schardein.

Schardein said fish kills for the most part are usually caused on smaller bodies of water -- creeks and streams -- when it is very hot, basically because most of the oxygen is drawn out of the water.Lack of oxygen could have something to do with this situation. Tests will be done for the presence of a certain algae that can deplete oxygen.

Test results are expected back in the next day or two. Source

150,000 fish die in power failure $14,000 generator switch might have averted $1.3 million hatchery loss. - 15th June 2011

A power loss at Jackson National Fish Hatchery on June 5 killed roughly 150,000 cutthroat trout.

The power failure, which shut off pumps used to keep fresh water flowing to 10 outdoor raceways at the hatchery, resulted in the loss of an estimated $1.3 million worth of fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat trout, hatchery manager Kerry Grande said Monday.

About 200,000 trout in the raceways survived the power failure along with hundreds of thousands of eggs and smaller fish that remained safe in the hatchery’s new main building, which was not affected by the outage.

The incident occurred around 11 p.m. after one of three transformers serving the hatchery blew. The damaged transformer didn’t completely cut power, but it did limit the flow of electricity so the pumps no longer functioned.

The fish kill might have been averted had government officials provided a timely replacement for a blown generator switch, Grande said.

The loss of power automatically turned on a backup generator, but the $14,000 switch that connects the generator to the pumps burned out months ago.
“We’ve been telling [officials in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Denver office] for two or three months that we need one of these [switches],” he said. “Now that I sent them pictures [of the dead fish], they’re in a great big rush to buy one.”

Because the hatchery is located at the end of the power line, officials with Lower Valley Energy were not immediately aware of the outage, Grande said.

Hatchery employees are normally warned of a power outage by an alarm, but there was still some power coming from the burned out transformer, and the alarm never sounded.

Without power going to the pumps that provide fresh water to the raceways, the fish died from a lack of oxygen, Grande said. Read More

Thousand Dead Fish Found floating in Ridley Park Lake, Philadelphia - 15th June 2011

LinkAuthorities say water samples found nothing strange despite fish kill in Ridley Park Lake and Swarthmore’s Crum Creek.

Nearly 1,000 dead fish were found floating in Ridley Park Lake last weekend, and more dead fish were found in Crum Creek in Swarthmore Monday, authorities say.

With water samples showing no sign of a problem, the multi-species fish kill remains a mystery.

“Whatever killed them could be gone by now,” Department of Environmental Protection Water Quality Specialist Michael Brenner told the Delaware County Times in the case of Crum Creek. “We could be a little too late. We can’t point to any particular cause.”

According to Ridley Park Police Chief Tom Byrne, authorities were first notified of the hundreds of dead fish cropping up 8:15 p.m. Saturday. Byrne says the Pennsylvania DEP responded and took water sample but everything was found to be fine.

More water samples have been sent to the state laboratory for more testing, according to Byrne. He says that at this time there is no danger to anyone visiting the lake, but authorities are discouraging fishing until further notice.

The Ridley Park Highway Department began cleaning up the fish early Sunday morning, Robert Bonfitto told the Delaware County Times that he found about 15 to 20 fish along the banks of Crum Creek when he went there Monday morning.

“I could smell them,” Bonfitto told the Delco Times. “I had heard about what happened at Ridley Lake and I thought, ‘Oh, no. It’s happening here, too.’”

Like Ridley Park Lake, in the case of Crum Creek DEP officials found nothing strange in the oxygen, pH or chlorine levels in the water samples.

The causes for both fish kills are still under investigation. Source

Six children seriously ill after eating beefburgers (made from Cows slaughtered in Germany) infected with rare strain of the E.coli Bacteria

Six young children have been left seriously ill in hospital after eating beefburgers infected with E.coli from German meat.

The youngsters, one of whom is just 20 months old, had all eaten defrosted hamburgers made by the French company SEB before being taken to hospital in Lille, in the north of the country.

The city is less than two hours-drive from Dover, via the Channel Tunnel, and just over an hour away from London via high-speed train.

SEB uses beef from cows slaughtered across the border in Germany, where 38 people, including a child, have died because of separate outbreaks of the bacteria.

All of the children suffered from bloody diarrhoea – a similar symptom to the German victims, who had mainly eaten vegetables infected with E.coli.

A spokesman for the regional health authority in Lille said: ‘All of the children are in a very serious state, but their lives are not in danger.

'They are being monitored constantly.’

He said the infection was a rare strain of the E.coli bacteria, and not believed to be related to the cases in Germany.

The ‘Steak Country’ burgers were all sold in French branches of the German supermarket chain Lidl.

After the outbreak in Lille, the company removed all of the products from its shelves.

The burgers have a May 2012 use-by date.

Guy Lamorlette, chief executive of SEB, confirmed that the meat had been slaughtered in Germany before being imported to France.

He said all of it had now been recalled. Read More

Iran plans to send MONKEY into space after successful mapping satellite launch raises fresh security fears in the West - 16th June 2011

Iran plans to send a monkey into space after yesterday sparking massive security fears by launching a missile to carry a second satellite into orbit.

The country's top space official Hamid Fazeli announced the disturbing plans at the launch of the Rassad-1 satellite to produce detailed maps of the earth.

'The Kavoshgar-5 rocket will be launched during the month of Mordad (July 23 to August 23) with a 285-kilogramme capsule carrying a monkey to an altitude of 74 miles,' said Fazeli, head of Iran's Space Organisation.

In February, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a space capsule designed to carry a live monkey into space, along with four new prototypes of home-built satellites the country hopes to launch before March 2012.

At the time, Fazeli touted the launch of a large animal into space as the first step towards sending a man into space, which Tehran says is scheduled for 2020.

Iran sent small animals into space - a rat, turtles and worms - aboard its Kavoshgar-3 rocket in 2010.

Fazeli also announced plans for the launch in October of the Fajr reconnaissance satellite with 'a life span of a year and a half, and to be placed at an altitude of 400 kilometres,' the website reported.

Yesterday, the Islamic republic successfully put its Rassad-1 (Observation-1) satellite into orbit 260 kilometres above the Earth.

The move raised fears surrounding Iran's nuclear activity as the technology could also be used to fire powerful nuclear warheads. Read More

Belgian police probe murders of ten internet daters who died after emptying bank accounts and flying to Africa to marry - 16th June 2011

Ten men who drained their bank accounts and flew to Africa to find love and marry an internet bride may have been murdered.

Belgian Police are investigating the sudden deaths after families received calls from a sobbing woman telling them that their loved one had died.

The victims - who didn't know each other - all flew to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, to meet a dark African beauty.

They gave up their lives in Belgium to marry her after forming an attachment to her over the net.

But shortly after their departure for the African country families received a phone call from Cameroon informing them that their missing relative had suddenly died from a mysterious illness.

Belgian prosecutors suspect that the lovelorn Belgians were tricked out of the money they had brought to start a new life in Africa with their 'brides' and then poisoned by a gang of fraudsters.

One of the victims was named yesterday as 30 year-old Mikael Pietquin from Brussels who vanished after falling in love with an internet girl who has been nicknamed the African Bomb by the Belgian press.

Mikael's father has told the police that his son had phoned home before he disappeared to say that his future bride had made him eat vast quantities of a 'love plant' which was supposed to improve his performance in bed.

He said: 'We heard nothing more until the sobbing woman phoned us.

'The bride said my son was sick when he arrived in Yaounde. She claimed he lost 30 kgs in weight within a few days and took an overdose of medicine he brought from Belgium. We did not believe her.'

Another victim was reported to be a former Belgian airline pilot from Hastiere in Southern Belgium. Source