Monday, June 20, 2011

Homeless man, Max Melitzer, receives "life changing inheritance" after brother's death

Max Melitzer, who pushed his possessions around Salt Lake City in a shopping trolley, has been left a "significant" amount of money by his brother, who died of cancer, said the detective, David Lundberg.

Mr Lundberg found Mr Melitzer, who is in his 60s, in a park on Saturday afternoon. "He'll no longer be living on the street or in abandoned storage sheds," he said.

"He'll be able to have a normal life, and be able to have a home, provide for himself, and purchase clothing, food and health care".

Mr Lundberg had been searching for Mr Melitzer for the past two months, on behalf of his brother's family's New York lawyers. He declined to name the family or give the precise sum involved.

He said that after news of his search was broadcast on local radio, he received a tip-off that the homeless man was in Pioneer Park. He broke the news to him while the pair sat on a bench and chatted. (read more)

UK Treasury drawing up emergency contingency plans for collapse of Euro and Greek default: Details pending

Treasury ministers have admitted that the Government is drawing up contingency plans for a Greek bankruptcy after being warned by a former foreign secretary that the euro “cannot last”.

Jack Straw, the former Labour foreign secretary, said that a “quick” end to the single currency was now better than a “slow death”.

In an emergency debate, senior MPs from all parties demanded that Britain stand aside from a new rescue package for Greece and push for the country to leave the euro.

Mark Hoban, a Treasury minister, admitted that “many scenarios were being considered”. He said it would “not be appropriate” to discuss the detail, but added he would be “guilty of not stepping up to the responsibilities of his office” if plans had not been made to cope with a default.

He said British banks had about £2.47billion in outstanding loans to Greek institutions and individuals.

Last night, after leaving a meeting with eurozone ministers in Luxembourg, George Osborne, the Chancellor, insisted that he did not want to see Britain dragged into providing money for a second bail-out. (read more)

Heavy rain and flooding in China affect millions with many dead or missing -- Photo gallery

Future RAF missions under threat if Libyan intervention continues: UK

Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant has told MPs that intense air operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East are placing a “huge” demand on equipment and personnel.

In a briefing paper delivered to senior politicians and obtained by The Daily Telegraph, the RAF’s second in command said morale among airmen was “fragile” and their fighting spirit was threatened by being overworked.

Many areas of the RAF were “running hot”, he warned, while the servicemen’s sense that the nation valued their efforts was being undermined by the Coalition’s defence cuts.

The air force was also now finding it difficult to recruit staff, he said, with many specialities understaffed by up to a quarter.

In his conclusion, Air Chief Marshal Bryant — whose full title is Commander in Chief (Air) — warned that the ability of the RAF to deal with unforeseen emergencies would be rapidly “eroded” if the Libyan campaign went beyond September. “Two concurrent operations are placing a huge demand on equipment and personnel,” he said (read more)

War powers debate erupts over Libya war between US Congress and Senate

Two influential Republican senators said Sunday they oppose any effort by House Republicans to cut funding for U.S. participation in the Libya military mission.

The comments by conservative Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came on the 90th day of the Libya campaign -- which House Speaker John Boehner says is the deadline in the War Powers Resolution for the Obama administration to get congressional authorization it has yet to seek.

Boehner, R-Ohio, said last week that cutting funding for the mission was an option that the Republican-controlled House will consider when it takes up a defense appropriations bill this week. He contended that President Barack Obama has failed to comply with the War Powers Resolution, and that the main tool Congress has to respond is to control the spending.

However, McCain and Graham told Sunday talk shows such a move would send the wrong signal and undermine NATO allies leading the Libya mission with U.S. support.

"If we do not continue this effort in Libya, if (Moammar) Gadhafi remains in power, it could have profound consequences," McCain said on the ABC program "This Week."

Graham, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," adhered to longstanding conservative dogma by declaring that the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which limits the ability of the president to unilaterally engage U.S. forces in combat, is unconstitutional. (read more)

War Evolves With Drones, Some Tiny as Bugs -- and they just as easily can be used on you

Two miles from the cow pasture where the Wright Brothers learned to fly the first airplanes, military researchers are at work on another revolution in the air: shrinking unmanned drones, the kind that fire missiles into Pakistan and spy on insurgents in Afghanistan, to the size of insects and birds.

The base’s indoor flight lab is called the “microaviary,” and for good reason. The drones in development here are designed to replicate the flight mechanics of moths, hawks and other inhabitants of the natural world. “We’re looking at how you hide in plain sight,” said Greg Parker, an aerospace engineer, as he held up a prototype of a mechanical hawk that in the future might carry out espionage or kill.

Half a world away in Afghanistan, Marines marvel at one of the new blimplike spy balloons that float from a tether 15,000 feet above one of the bloodiest outposts of the war, Sangin in Helmand Province. The balloon, called an aerostat, can transmit live video — from as far as 20 miles away — of insurgents planting homemade bombs. “It’s been a game-changer for me,” Capt. Nickoli Johnson said in Sangin this spring. “I want a bunch more put in.” (read more)

Common Ground On Climate

Preface: I studied global warming in the 1980s at a top university. My environmental credentials are solid by any measure. I have no dog in the climate debate, other than to do what is best for the people and the planet.

The American people are deeply divided on climate change.

An April Rasmussen poll found:

When it comes to global warming, 47% of voters say climate change is primarily caused by long-term planetary trends. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and believe human activity is more to blame. Ten percent (10%) are undecided. While more voters have blamed planetary trends since January 2009, this is the widest gap between the two since July of last year.

There is a huge and perhaps unbridgeable gap between global warming activists and skeptics (using the terms the various groups themselves use). Each side continues to make arguments about how the other is uninformed, corrupt or plain stupid (just look at the comments to this article). Counter-productive measures are being contemplated, but we are too busy arguing to notice ... or to take effective action to demand something smarter.

Unless we agree on common ground and demand that our politicians take constructive actions, no positive policy changes will be made and - instead - ineffective or even harmful policies will be enacted.

A few weeks ago, one of the largest coronal mass ejections ever observed reinforced dire predictions by NASA and other government agencies that heightened solar activity in the next couple of years could knock out power grids throughout many parts of the world and lead to numerous nuclear meltdowns.

Many scientists were also worried that increased solar output could warm the Earth. (read more)

Antioch Copper Wire Thieves Reach New "High" -- entire transformer now stolen from power pole

Just days after Pacific Gas and Electric lamented the ongoing and widespread theft of copper wire from its Antioch power poles, the utility is now revealing that a particularly brazen thief – or thieves – stole an entire transformer from a power pole.

This is in addition to the knocking down of an estimated 300 power poles, stripping them of their lucrative copper wiring.

There is copper wiring in the transformer, as well.

It’s a risky move, the utility warned, because it’s energized electrical wiring that’s being taken. In fact, people have been electrocuted or otherwise seriously injured attempting to lift the wiring.

It will cost PG&E tens of thousands of dollars to replace the downed power poles and stolen transformer. The price tag to replace just one power pole and its missing transformer: $12,000. (Source)

Hold it! Congressman Weiner not gone despite tearful story -- every extra day increases his pension


Congress waited for Anthony Weiner to say he's leaving -- and now it's waiting for him to clean out his desk.

Although the randy rep. announced Thursday that he was quitting after seven terms, he still has to submit a resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner that says which day will be his last serving his Brooklyn-Queens constituents.

Even after that happens, his staff will stay on, and his offices -- in the Capitol and New York -- will be run by the House clerk, officials said.

"Our offices will be open and fully staffed on Monday," Dave Arnold, who has served as Weiner's congressional spokesman, said yesterday.

Weiner resigned after he admitted to having online liaisons with six women while married -- sending them photos of his crotch and exchanging steamy messages over Facebook and e-mail.

Every day Weiner puts off his official departure date enlarges his congressional pension.

But so far no one has pushed for Weiner to clear out of the Capitol. (read more)

Brazilian soldiers and police raid slums overrun by drug trafficking gangs as they clear the way for 2014 football World Cup


Hundreds of Brazilian soldiers and police officers have swooped on a crime-ridden slum this morning as part of an operation to rid Rio De Janeiro of gangs ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

A group of marines, backed by helicopters and armoured vehicles, were joined by around 800 armed police and other officers during the raid in the Mangueria neighbourhood, one of Rio de Janeiro’s most populous neighborhoods.

The shantytown is a key part of the city as the Maracana stadium located nearby will host both the 2014 World Cup final and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games.

The operation is an attempt to drive from the area the drug traffickers that have held sway there for decades, Brazilian officials said. (read more)

America flirts with a fate like Japan’s

The stalling of the US recovery raises big, scary questions. After a recession, this economy usually gets people back to work quickly. Not this time. Progress is so slow, the issue is not so much when America will return to full employment but what “full employment” will mean by the time it does.

The administration thinks the pace of recovery will pick up soon. Last week President Barack Obama called the pause a “bump in the road”. Others think the slowdown will persist and might get worse, fears that cannot be dismissed. One alarming possibility is that the traits the US has relied on to drive growth in the past – labour market flexibility, rapid productivity growth – might have become toxic. If the US is unlucky, traits seen as distinctive strengths are now weaknesses, and a “lost decade” of stagnation, like Japan’s in the 1990s, might lie ahead.

The mainstream view is more optimistic and goes as follows. The recovery in the first half of the year was weak but special or temporary factors were to blame: bad weather, the timing of defence expenditures, the phasing out of fiscal support, the Japanese earthquake, the oil-price surge, worries over Europe’s debt, and so on. Together these could have cut 1.5 percentage points from growth in the first half of this year, yielding a feeble 2 per cent – too slow to put a dent in unemployment. (read more)

Japan builds "K Computer", world's most powerful supercomputer

A Japanese computer has taken first place on the Top 500 supercomputer list, ending China's reign at the top after just six months. At 8.16 petaflops, the K computer is more powerful than the next five systems combined.

The K computer's performance was measured using 68,544 SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs each with eight cores, for a total of 548,352 cores, almost twice as many as any other system on the Top500 list. The computer is still under construction, and when it enters service in November 2012 will have more than 80,000 SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs according to its manufacturer, Fujitsu.

Japan's ascension to the top means that the Chinese Tianhe-1A supercomputer, which took the number 1 position in November last year, is now in second spot with its 2.57 petaflops. But China continues to grow the number of systems it has on the list, up from 42 to 62 systems. The change at the top also means that Jaguar, built for the US Department of Energy (DOE), is bumped down to third place. (read more)

Disgruntled neighbour kills 2 dogs with poisoned meatballs, allowed to walk


Two dogs belonging to a Concord woman were found dead after police said they ate poisoned meatballs. A disgruntled neighbor is accused in the case.

On June 4th, DJ, the woman’s black Scottish terrier was suffering from seizures. Despite a visit to the vet, the dog died the same day. Two days later, the owner’s second dog, Coco, died.

Tom Tarbill lives next door to the victim and believes the suspect may have gained access to his neighbor’s yard through his backyard.

“I was pretty shocked,” he said. “This guy, apparently, he just doesn’t like dogs for one, and that kind of reflects on his character, I believe.”

The owner of the dogs, who is currently out of town and did not want her identity revealed, told CBS5 by phone that she found four meatballs in her yard, and had received three threatening letters this year. (read more)

Rolling blackouts hit Greece as protests grow

Greece was hit by rolling blackouts Monday as employees at the main power utility began 48-hour rolling strikes to protest the company's privatization, part of austerity plans needed to avoid a national debt default.

The sell-off of state assets in the power company is a major step in a euro50 billion ($71 billion) privatization drive that must be completed by 2015. It is part of highly unpopular austerity plans, including more tax hikes and spending cuts, that must be passed by Parliament by the end of the month if Greece is to get the next euro12 billion installment of its euro110 billion bailout next month. The troubled Socialist government is also struggling to make up for ongoing budget shortfalls.

Without the funds, Greece will be unable to pay its debts as of the middle of July, triggering a default that would rock financial markets in Europe and abroad.

The power company, known by its acronym DEH, said nine small and large thermoelectric units were already offline as of Monday morning due to the strike, and appealed to consumers to limit their use of electricity, particularly during the midday heat, when air conditioning use is at its peak.

It said it was preparing hour-long power cuts in several areas if that became necessary. (read more)

Citibank says Greek debt may be contagious

Greece's debt crisis may be contagious and poses one of the biggest risks to global financial markets alongside Middle East uprisings, Citigroup's Chief Risk Officer told Reuters.

Greece, on the verge of a debt default following Portuguese and Irish bailouts, is being pressured by European finance ministers to introduce harsh austerity measures before they agree to 12 billion euros ($17 billion) in emergency loans.

"In Europe, you have to think about whether there will be contagion beyond (Greece)," Brian Leach, told Reuters Insider Television in an interview on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg.

"I think it will be tough to constrain (the debt crisis) to Greece, (but) other countries have made remarkable progress," he added.

Another significant market risk comes from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Leach said.

"The regime changes that are taking place (in MENA) are quite significant. Depending on where those regime changes take place you could imagine a very different world," he said. (read more)

German Giant Says US Workers Lack Skills

A mismatch in the US labour market between the skills of unemployed people and the jobs available is making it hard for some companies to find the right staff despite an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent, one of the country’s largest manufacturing employers has warned.

Eric Spiegel, chief executive in the US for Siemens [SI 130.88 -0.35 (-0.27%) ], the German engineering group, said the problem exposed weaknesses in education and training in the US. Siemens had been forced to use more than 30 recruiters and hire staff from other companies to find the workers it needed for its expansion plans, even amid an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent

“There’s a mismatch between the jobs that are available, at least in our portfolio, and the people that we see out there,” Mr Spiegel told the Financial Times. “There is a shortage (of workers with the right skills.)”

He said Siemens was having to invest in education and training to meet its staffing needs, including apprenticeship programmes of the kind it uses in Germany.

His comments, made before Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, visits a Siemens plant in Ohio on Monday, suggest better education and training could help reduce the persistently high US unemployment rate. (read more)

No Appreciation for Yuan's Anniversary -- Floating Yuan doesn't fix world's trade deficit problems with China

It's been a year since the yuan's peg to the dollar ended. So what's been achieved?

First the good news. The yuan has reached 6.4696 to the dollar, up 5.5%. Factoring in higher inflation in China, the real impact on the competitiveness of Chinese exports, has been more marked. That has opened space for other Asian currencies to make up ground against the dollar. The Singapore dollar, Korean won, and Taiwanese dollar are all up significantly in the last year.

Now the bad news. A rising yuan has done little to dent the competitiveness of China's exports. Data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the price of U.S. imports from China in May up just 2.8% year on year.  That's higher than past years, but still means only a fraction of the yuan's gains are being passed through into higher prices. China's trade surplus with the U.S. is larger in the first four months of 2011 than it was in the same period of 2010. The brutal truth for U.S. manufacturers is that improvements in productivity in Chinese firms, and willingness to accept lower margins, are counterbalancing the impact of a rising yuan on their competitiveness.

As important, the yuan's gains against the dollar have not been enough to compensate for the dollar's fall against most other currencies. The yuan has actually fallen 3.7% on a trade weighted basis in the last year, and is down 8.4% against the euro. That is especially bad news for the manufacturing sectors of crisis-afflicted Greece, Spain and Portugal. Those who find themselves competing with Chinese manufacturers will find life even tougher. (read more)

Russia to Lower U.S. Debt Holdings

Russia will likely continue lowering its U.S. debt holdings as Washington struggles to contain a budget deficit and bolster a tepid economic recovery, a top aide to President Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday.

"The share of our portfolio in U.S. instruments has gone down and probably will go down further," said Arkady Dvorkovich, chief economic aide to the president, told Dow Jones in an interview on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Russian holdings of U.S. Treasury securities fell to $125.4 billion in April 2011 from $176.3 billion in October 2010, Treasury Department data showed.

Asked if U.S. debt was as solid an investment now as it was 10 years ago, Mr. Dvorkovich said: "On an absolute basis, yes. On a relative basis, compared to other investments, of course not."

"When we take decisions and compare, we're not thinking in absolute terms," he said.

Russia's financial reserves—which stood at $528 billion as of June 10—are the world's third largest, after China and Japan's. As of May, according to Russia's central bank, 47% of reserves were in dollars and 41% in euros, compared with 45.2% in dollars and 43.1% in euros on Jan. 1.

The central bank recently diversified the stash to include the Canadian dollar, which makes up 1% of the total, and plans to put 0.8% into the Australian dollar starting in September. (Source)

Athens protests: Syntagma Square on frontline of European austerity protests

Athenians used to stop off at Syntagma Square for the shopping, the shiny rows of upmarket boutiques. Now they arrive in their tens of thousands to protest. Swarming out of the metro station, they emerge into a village of tents, pamphleteers and a booming public address system.

Since 25 May, when demonstrators first converged here, this has become an open-air concert – only one where bands have been supplanted by speakers and music swapped for an angry politics. On this square just below the Greek parliament and ringed by flashy hotels, thousands sit through speech after speech. Old-time socialists, American economists just passing through, members of the crowd: they each get three minutes with the mic, and most of them use the time alternatively to slag off the politicians and to egg on their fellow protesters.

"Being here makes me feel 18 again," begins one man, his polo shirt stretched tight over his paunch, before talking about his worries about his pension.

The closer you get to the Vouli, the parliament, the more raucous it becomes. Jammed up against the railings, a crowd is clapping and chanting: "Thieves! Thieves!"

There is another mic here, and it's grabbed by a man wearing a mask of deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos: "My friends, we all ate together." He is quoting the socialist politician, who claimed on TV last year that everyone bore the responsibility for the squandering of public money. Pangalos may have intended his remark as the Greek equivalent of George Osborne's remark that "We're all in it together", but here they're not having it."You lying bastard!" They roar back. "You're so fat you ate the entire supermarket." (read more)

River falls short of Nebraska nuke plant shutdown

The bloated Missouri River rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska but stopped and ebbed slightly Monday, after several levees in northern Missouri failed to hold back the surging waterway.

The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet, Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said.

Flooding is a concern all along the river because of the massive amounts of water that the Army Corps of Engineers has released from six dams. Any significant rain could worsen the flooding especially if it falls in Nebraska, Iowa or Missouri, which are downstream of the dams.

The river is expected to rise as much as 5 to 7 feet above flood stage in much of Nebraska and Iowa and as much as 10 feet over flood stage in parts of Missouri. The corps predicts the river will remain that high until at least August.

Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday morning. The National Weather Service said the Missouri River set a new record Sunday at Brownville when its depth was measured at 44.4 feet. That topped the record of 44.3 feet set during the 1993 flooding. (read more)

Dog joins Greek protests, nicknamed "Sausage"

Church of England clears way for gay bishops -- Thieves, murderers keep fingers crossed

The Church of England cannot refuse to appoint bishops simply because they are gay, but it can insist that they remain celibate, the denomination's lawyers have told it.

It would be wrong for boards appointing bishops to take account "of the fact that a candidate had identified himself as of gay sexual orientation," says the legal advice, which the Church of England published Monday.

But church rules do bar anyone in a sexual relationship outside marriage from becoming a bishop - which implies that a gay man can become a bishop only if he is celibate.

The compromise is unlikely to satisfy either conservatives or liberals in the global church, which is deeply torn over the role of women and gay men in church leadership.

Canon Chris Sugden, a leading voice in the conservative group Anglican Mainstream, told CNN that the insistence on celibacy made sense, drawing a distinction between orientation and practice.

"There's no discrimination on the basis of orientation, nor should there be," he said, arguing that it was behavior that mattered.

"This applies in many areas - gambling, drink, marital infidelity," he said. "One wouldn't condone the promotion of someone who advocates adultery."

He said gay candidates for bishop posts would have to be honest about whether they were celibate. (read more)

175 killed from China floods; more than 1.6 million evacuated

At least 175 people have died from flooding this month in southern and eastern China, the country's Ministry of Civil Affairs said Monday.

Another 86 people are missing from the flooding that began with rainfall on June 3. The ministry said 13 provinces have been affected, more than 1.6 million people have been evacuated, and the direct economic losses has reached 32.02 billion yuan ($4.9 billion).

The flooding has destroyed at least 8,400 houses in Zhejiang province alone, a provincial agency said.

More than 4.4 million have been affected by the flooding in Zhejiang of Monday morning, according to the Zhejiang Flood Control Office. About 292,000 have been evacuated, according to the agency's website.

The direct economic loss in Zhejiang has reached 7.69 billion yuan ($1.18 billion), the agency said. (read more)

More than 43 million worldwide forced from homes, U.N. says



The number of people forced from their homes worldwide has risen to 43.7 million, the highest level in 15 years, according to a U.N. refugee agency report released Monday.

That's up from 43.3 million people a year earlier, said UNHCR's 2010 Global Trends report, which was released to coincide with World Refugee Day.

Of those displaced, the report classified 15.4 million people as refugees forced to flee their country and 27.5 million as displaced persons within their own country, forced to leave their home because of conflict or natural disaster, the report said.

The release of the annual report comes amid ireports of people fleeing conflict in Syria, Sudan and Libya. In recent days, thousands have begun fleeing to refugee camps set up along the Syria-Turkey border to accommodate those attempting to escape a Syrian military crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

"Four-fifths of world refugees are in the developing world, and it is the developing world that needs international solidarity to cope with this challenge," Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Monday.

A woman, who identified herself as Nour, said she fled to the camps because she believed she would die if she stayed in Syria.

"I come here. This circumstance is so difficult," she said. "I am pregnant. I cannot bear such things. " (read more)

Singapore urges China to clarify South China Seas claim

Singapore has called on China to clarify its claims in the South China Sea following recent confrontations with Vietnam and the Philippines.

Singapore said China's "ambiguity" had caused international concern.

Singapore has no territorial claims in the area, but said it had an interest "in anything affecting freedom of navigation in international sea lanes".

Several Asian nations claim parts of the strategically important waters that may also contain oil and gas deposits.

Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia have competing claims to the Spratly Islands, while Beijing and Hanoi are in dispute over the Paracels. (read more)

Floods displace hundreds in Saskatchewan, Canada - 20th June 2011

Flood-battered residents of southeast Saskatchewan fled their homes Sunday after another night of heavy rain.

About 400 people were ordered to leave the Willow Park Greens trailer park at Estevan, about 200 kilometres southeast of Regina, amid new flood threats after water was released from dams and 27 millimetres of rain fell overnight.

Holly Boreski said she received a knock on the door at around 11 p.m. CST and was told she had to leave immediately.

"You know, grab a duffle bag of clothes and go. I have four children so it's most important just to get out," she said.

Some evacuees ended up staying at an emergency shelter in the city while others were staying with family.

On Monday, when she returned to salvage some frozen food, there was about 60 centimetres of water on the roads around homes in the park, Boreski said.

Meanwhile, the flooding situation was much worse for some farmers downstream of the Rafferty and Boundary dams.

The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority said late Sunday it would increase combined floods from the dam reservoirs to 550 cubic metres per second — enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every five seconds. Read More

Nato bomb 'kills nine Libyan civilians' as stray air strike is blamed on 'system failure' - 20th June 2011

A Nato air strike hit a civilian house in Tripoli and killed nine residents, the Libyan regime said yesterday.

Nato admitted on Sunday that its weapons destroyed a house in Tripoli in an incident likely to sow new doubts inside the alliance about its mission in Libya.

The strike on the house was the clearest case yet of a bombing causing multiple civilian casualties, and comes at a time when the alliance is already under strain from a campaign that is taking more time and resources than its backers had expected.

Nato last night admitted that a ‘weapons system failure’ may have been responsible for a missile going astray.

Nato spokesman Wing Commander Mike Bracken said: 'The intended target was a military missile site.

'However from our initial assessment of the facts it appears that one weapons did not strike the intended target due to a weapons system malfunction.

‘Nato regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens.

‘Although we are still determining the specifics of this event, indications are that a weapons system failure may have caused this incident.’

Nato did not disclose which country’s aircraft were involved, although the Ministry of Defence said RAF warplanes were not operating in the area at the time. Read More

Sohana Jawed, 9, Terror of 9-year-old Pakistani girl as she is kidnapped by militants and forced to wear suicide vest - 20th June 2011

With a look of fear in her eyes, this tiny girl sits next to a police officer as he recounts the ordeal which she endured.

Sohana Jawed, nine, was on her way to school when she was kidnapped by militants in Peshawar, Pakistan.

They forced her to wear an explosives-laden suicide bomb vest and made her approach a paramilitary checkpoint.

Jawed, who is in third grade, was on her way to school when she was grabbed by two women and forced into a car carrying two men, she said during a news conference.

One of the kidnappers put a handkerchief on her mouth that knocked her unconscious, Jawed said in an interview with a local TV station.

When she woke up and started crying, one of the women gave her cookies laced with something that again knocked her out, the child said.

The next time she woke up she found herself in a strange home.

'This morning, the women and men forced me to put on the heavy jacket and put me in the car again,' said Jawed.

The suicide vest contained nearly 20 pounds of explosives and seemed to be designed to be set off remotely, Lower Dir police chief Salim Marwat said.

'Most likely it had to be detonated through a remote control since a minor was wearing it,' he said.

The kidnappers brought her to a checkpoint run by the paramilitary Frontier Corps located about 6 miles outside Timergarah, the main town in Lower Dir district.

When they got out of the car, she sprinted toward the paramilitary soldiers to show them what she was wearing, said Marwat.

'I got the chance to release my hand from the woman and run,' said Jawed.

By the time the paramilitary soldiers realised what was happening, the kidnappers had escaped, said Marwat.

Police have launched a search operation to find them, he said. Read More

Ryan Dunn, 34, Jackass Star killed in 'high-speed' crash after Porsche explodes into fireball

Reality TV daredevil and Jackass star Ryan Dunn was killed in a car accident in the early hours of this morning.

The 34-year-old died in a one car collision near his home in West Goshen, Pennsylvania at around 2.30am following a night out with friends.

Upon arrival to the scene, police found a 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 'off the road and in the woods that was fully engulfed in flames.'

Dunn was the registered owner of the vehicle and its driver, according to police.

An official report states that 'preliminary investigation revealed that speed may have been a contributing factor to the accident.'

A male passenger was also pronounced dead at the scene 'a result of injuries sustained in the accident.'

Police are awaiting positive identification before releasing the passenger's identity.

Just hours before the accident, Dunn tweeted a picture of himself with two male friends, all of whom were holding what appeared to be alcoholic beverages.

A photograph taken on the scene shows a tow truck removing the charred wreckage car from the side of the road.

“We are devastated by the tragic loss of Ryan Dunn – a beloved member of the MTV family for more than a decade,' President of MTV Networks Music/Films Group Van Toffler said in a statement.

'He made us all laugh and had the tireless enthusiastic approach to life of your favourite middle school friend,' the statement continued.

'Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Ryan’s family and friends. The Jackass brotherhood will never be the same.' Read More


Wyoming 3.0 Magnitude Earthquake removed from USGS today...WHY? - 20th June 2011

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW

Within the past hour a earthquake appeared on USGS in Wyoming, registered at 3.0 Magnitude with a depth of just 10.6km (6.5 Miles)

The Earthquake struck at 15:55:03 Monday 20th June 2011
Epicentre 2.3 Km South of Thayer Junction, Wyoming

Why was this earthquake removed?

6.5 Magnitude Earthquake ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - 20th June 2011

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake has struck Antofagasta, Chile at a depth of 117 km (72.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:35:59 UTC Monday 20th June 2011.
The epicenter was 87 km (54 miles) North East of Calama, Antofagasta, Chile
No reports of Damage as yet.

Hundreds of St. Louis residents fled a five-alarm fire that broke out after tanks caught fire at a chemical plant in the early hours Monday 19th June

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



The fire started at Chemisphere Corp. at around 2:30 a.m., KSDL reported. The area reportedly contains some 30 chemical tanks and a building full of alcohol-based solvents.

"We had a tremendous amount of solvents involved," St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson told reporters at the scene, KSDK reported.

Firefighters battled the blaze, which caused the closure of part of Interstate 44 and forced some 500 residents from their homes, into the morning, according to KSDL.

The residents, who lived within three blocks of the plant, returned home at around 7:30 a.m., according to KSDL.

Four railroad cars carrying a kind of solvent and seven tractor-trailers were involved in the fire, Jenkerson told reporters.

"We've got it under control," he said.

Experts were on the scene evaluating air quality, he told reporters.

Three firefighters were taken to a nearby hospital after being injured in an explosion, the station reported. Source

Deported Immigrant Slashes Throat On Virgin Plane Bound from Gatwick, London to Jamaica - 20th June 2011

Sky sources have said that an illegal immigrant who was being deported from the UK has slashed his throat soon after boarding a Virgin flight to Jamaica at Gatwick Airport.

The flight was held on the ground and has now been cancelled and delayed until Tuesday.

The man, who was from Jamaica, was being returned to the country after overstaying his visa.

He is apparently being treated in hospital for what have been described as non-life threatening injuries.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said an investigation has been launched into how the man was able to inflict the "superficial" injuries on himself.

There were 449 passengers and 17 crew on board the plane.

Those who saw what happened have been offered counselling.

Emergency services apparently glued his throat together.

The airline said: "The safety and welfare of our crew and passengers is Virgin Atlantic's top priority.

"All passengers on board the plane have been provided with hotel accommodation, refreshments and meals until the flight departs tomorrow."

More to follow ...

50 injured after two school coaches crash on M62 at Eccles interchange - 20th June 2011

Two coaches carrying schoolchildren have been involved in an accident on the M60.

Police were called to the eastbound carriageway of the M60, close to the Eccles Interchange, at about 3.10pm this afternoon.

They found a four-vehicle collision involving two transit-style vans and two coaches.

Police say there were as many as 50 injuries, though none of them are thought to be serious.

When officers arrived, the vehicles had been moved to the hard shoulder, although part of one lane was blocked.

There are reports of delays on the M62 Eastbound approaching the Eccles interchange and also on the M60. Source

Greece prepares to sell off state assets to get loans



Greece is preparing to sell off billions of dollars worth of state assets including airports, highways, state-owned companies as well as banks, real estate and gaming licenses to meet international lenders' demands that it raise funds.

European finance ministers said Sunday that they were on track to give Greece a second huge bailout to keep the government afloat, but reiterated that Athens had to take tough measures to get it.

Greece has to raise 50 billion euros ($71 billion) through privatization by 2015, Eurogroup members said.

It also has to push through tough budget-cutting measures, they said, despite widespread protests in the country that forced a government reshuffle last week.

Prime Minister George Papandreou faces a vote of confidence in his new ministers this week as his party clings on to a wafer-thin majority in parliament.

European finance ministers Sunday made an understated reference to the weeks of protests on the streets of Athens and the political crisis that ensued. (read more)

China flooding threatens to top city's dikes Heavy rains forecast to continue

More than 70 kilometres of dikes are close to overflowing in a city in eastern China, the country's flood authority said Monday, a day after a senior official warned a critical point had been reached in battling seasonal floods.

Heavy rains pounded Zhejiang province over the weekend and the level of a river that passes through Lanxi city has risen sharply, said Zhao Fayuan, deputy director of the flood control headquarters.

The level of Lanjiang river has now hit 34 metres, the highest since 1966, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Several sections of the dikes in Lanxi city are barely holding, Zhao said, according to Xinhua. More than 20,000 people could be affected if the dikes are breached, he said.

The country's flood control headquarters advised Lanxi officials to relocate all residents near the dikes that are at risk of overflowing, and to repair them immediately.

Flooding in eastern and southern China this month has triggered landslides, cut off power and telecommunications and left more than 180 people dead or missing. Another five people were killed Sunday and one remains missing after surging floodwaters swept them away in their southwest villages, Xinhua said Monday.

China's minister for water resources said Sunday that the country was entering a crucial period for flood control as severe floods triggered by heavy rains threaten southern areas. (read more)

Shanghai to ration electricity due to power shortage

Offices and shopping malls in the Chinese city of Shanghai will be urged to close their doors on the hottest days of the year this summer.

The power rationing is necessary due to the country's shortage of electricity.

The electricity grid serving China's financial hub does not have the capacity to meet peak demand the authorities say.

China has been coping with power shortages since March, because of coal supply problems and a drought.

When the mercury in the thermometer hits 37C (98.5F) - not that unusual in summer here in Shanghai - power rationing will get under way.

Some 24,000 businesses - mainly factories and other industrial plants - will face mandatory power cuts.

But this year, in what the Chinese newspapers are describing as an unprecedented move, 3,000 non-industrial businesses - mainly shopping malls and office blocks - will be asked to close their doors too.

When power is running out, households are the priority for the authorities here.

The shops and offices will not be forced to close but they will be encouraged to do so.

So far the reaction from those likely to be affected has not been that positive. (read more)

UFO spotted in Pennyslvania: Changes shape, colours, mimics human airplane, silent, lands, rises -- What is it, and what is it up to?

Many of us won’t be able to retire until our 80s

We all think it’s a panacea. If you don’t have enough money saved for retirement, you’ve got a few ways to close the gap between what you have and what you need in your nest egg: Save more, invest more aggressively, and/or work longer.

Well, it turns out that working longer is indeed an option, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute latest study. The only problem is that the latest research shows that you’ll have to work much longer than you anticipated. In fact, many Americans will have to keep on working well into their 70s and 80s to afford retirement, according to the study, titled “The Impact of Deferring Retirement Age on Retirement Income Adequacy.”

What’s more, it’s even worse for low-income workers, according Jack VanDerhei, one of the co-authors of the study. Those who earned (on average over the course of their careers) less than $11,700 per year, the lowest income quartile, would need to defer retirement till age 84 before 90% of those households would have just a 50% chance of affording retirement.

Those who earned between $11,700 and $31,200 will need to work till age 76 to have a 50% chance of covering basic expenses in retirement. Those who earned between $31,200 and $72,500 will need to work to age 72 to have a 50% chance and those who earned more than $72,500, those in the highest income quartile, catch a break; they get stop working at age 65 to have a 50/50 chance of funding their retirement. (read more)

China Wants To Construct A 50 Square Mile Self-Sustaining City South Of Boise, Idaho

Thanks to the trillions of dollars that the Chinese have made flooding our shores with cheap products, China is now in a position of tremendous economic power. So what is China going to do with all of that money? One thing that they have decided to do is to buy up pieces of the United States and set up "special economic zones" inside our country from which they can continue to extend their economic domination. One of these "special economic zones" would be just south of Boise, Idaho and the Idaho government is eager to give it to them. China National Machinery Industry Corporation (Sinomach for short) plans to construct a "technology zone" south of Boise Airport which would ultimately be up to 50 square miles in size. The Chinese Communist Party is the majority owner of Sinomach, so the 10,000 to 30,000 acre "self-sustaining city" that is being planned would essentially belong to the Chinese government. The planned "self-sustaining city" in Idaho would include manufacturing facilities, warehouses, retail centers and large numbers of homes for Chinese workers. Basically it would be a slice of communist China dropped right into the middle of the United States.

According to the Idaho Statesman, the idea would be to build a self-contained city with all services included. It would be modeled after the "special economic zones" that currently exist in China. (read more)

Gerald Celente - '"The sell off of the American People"

Is the debt problem as bad as they say? (Spoiler: Yes, yes it is)

On the rare occasion that I’m bored, I like to watch 24-hour news television for entertainment. It’s hilarious watching the talking heads spin out of control in apoplectic fits when they’re essentially arguing the same point; they might be from different parties, but they’re merely battling over small details of the same government-sponsored solution.

Recently I caught one of these talking head financial experts on TV arguing about debt levels in the United States. He was saying that the US debt doesn’t matter all that much because the US government has so many assets to offset its debt.

For example, he suggested that things like the highway system, national parks, and strategic petroleum reserve would more than offset America’s liabilities, so the looming national debt isn’t such a big deal after all.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) puts out an annual financial report that looks and feels like corporate financial statements… of course, the US government doesn’t have to abide by the same accounting principles as the private sector, so they get to cheat quite a bit in overstating their position.

The most recent report is signed off by Tim Geithner and includes oodles of newspeak from the Ministry of Plenty about how dazzling their economic recovery measures have been. Needless to say, the numbers paint a different picture.

Even when you add up -all- of the assets, right down to every desk, chair, and lifeguard stand, and even if you throw in a healthy boost to the asset column to account for premiums in the market value for land and “gold” in Fort Knox, the government is still in the hole to the tune of over $10 trillion. It would take more than 300,000 years to count that high.

And yet, the fake recovery is vanishing, the dollar keeps falling against anything of real value, and the average guy on the street is realizing limited benefit for his share of the debt and inflation burdens. How is this possible? (read more)

Bashar al Assad Syrian President Calls Unrest 'A Conspiracy' - 20th June 2011

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has accused foreign conspirators of unleashing a wave of violence across his country, but concedes reforms are necessary within his authoritarian regime.

Mr Assad called the violence a "conspiracy designed abroad and perpetrated in our country."

But Mr Assad added that authorities in Syria must differentiate between legitimate protesters and terrorists.

Mr Assad said gunmen carried out massacres in the strife-torn northern town of Jisr al Shughour, and claimed they had sophisticated weapons and communication systems.

However, he did admit that some protesters have legitimate concerns that must be addressed

"Who is opposing reform? I have not met a single person opposing reforms," he admitted.

The embattled president said "saboteurs" are trying to exploit the legitimate demands for reform in the country.

He said the agitators are "a small faction" but they are causing a lot of damage and have infiltrated peaceful protests.

He revealed that 64,000 people are wanted by regime authorities over the violence across the geopolitically important nation. Read More

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake MYANMAR-CHINA BORDER REGION - 20th June 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Myanmar - China Border Region at a depth of 35.2 km (21.9 miles), the quake hit at 10:16:54 UTC Monday 20th June 2011.
The epicenter was 136 km (84 miles) ESE Myitkyina, Myanmar
No reports of Damage as yet.

Zombies invade city centre for 'mass shamble' after council admits it was 'unprepared' for an attack of the undead - 20th June 2011

'Zombies' descended on a city centre after its council was forced to admit it was unprepared for invasion by the living dead.

Up to 200 people in make-up and torn clothing staged a 'mass shamble' for half a mile through the streets of Leicester, to the bemusement of Saturday shoppers.

The groaning mob pressed their blood-stained faces against the windows of Leicester City Council's offices to make their political point - their city has no plan to counter such an event.

It follows a mischievous request, made under the Freedom of Information Act, which was sent to the council last week, asking what preparations the city had made for a zombie invasion.

It read: 'Can you please let us know what provisions you have in place in the event of a zombie invasion?

'Having watched several films it is clear that preparation for such an event is poor and one that councils throughout the kingdom must prepare for. Read More


New fish deaths sighted in Taal Lake - 20th June 2011

Just days after authorities declared that fish from Taal Lake were already safe to eat following a massive fishkill that spawned an industry nightmare, hundreds of dead “bangus” (milkfish) were seen floating anew off three lakeside villages in Batangas on Monday, police said.

SPO3 Larry Aala, team leader of the Philippine National Police Maritime Group in Batangas, said his men estimated the volume of the latest fish deaths at two tons off Barangay Sampaloc in Talisay town and two tons off Barangays Balakilong and Birinayan in Laurel town.

“We counted only a few sacks full of affected fish this time,” Aala said, comparing it to the hundreds of tons of fish that had died the previous weeks and buried for safety reasons.

National officials have blamed the first wave of fishkills on abnormal levels of dissolved oxygen in the lake due to overstocking by fish cage operators and weather changes. As a result, fish cage owners, including those operating illegally, suffered millions of pesos from the mortality and as consumers shied away from buying their harvests.

On Saturday, Paz Manalang, acting regional head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the current level of dissolved oxygen in the lake water had stabilized but was still below the optimum limit set by the government.

The latest test conducted by the BFAR showed that the DO level in the Sampaloc area was 4.5 parts per million (ppm), or below the allowable level of 6 ppm, Manalang said. It was 3.8 ppm in Buso and 4.9 in Barangay Banaga in Agoncillo town, she added.

To avoid further losses, the operators have moved their fish cages to areas where the DO level in the water is normal or not below 6 ppm.

This was agreed upon by the fish cage operators and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said Aala.

“Those ready for harvest were collected by the operators while those which could not be harvested were pulled to parts of the lake where there is sufficient oxygen,” he said.

Ginette Segismundo, Batangas information officer, said that in areas where the fish were “half-dead,” compressors were provided to supply them with oxygen.

Segismundo said that as of June 17, authorities have dismantled 281 illegal fish cages in Taal Lake–29 in Laurel town; 117 in Talisay; 69 in Agoncillo; and 66 in San Nicolas. Source