Monday, June 27, 2011

Charlie Chaplin's forgotten speech from "The Great Dictator": The Coming Crisis asks you to stop what you're doing and watch this short video



Reader contributed.

Rick Perry: Pro-TSA molestation, endorses Gardisil that kills young girls, and also an attendee of the 2007 Bilderberg Group conference; what next?



Reader contributed.

Ron Paul Slams Absurd Libya War Powers Debate



Reader contributed.

Monju Nuclear Reactor in Japan now dangerously unstable and verging on meltdown, joins Fukushima in nuclear crisis -- why isn't this on the news?



Reader contribution.

Update on Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant and flood -- New photos, berm breach, rising waters, and more



Reader contributed.

"Corporatism is killing democracy in US" -- and killing civilization and nature in general



Reader contributed.

"North Korean Hell March" -- With all the other wars America is starting, will this be the next army we have to face off against?

Two police dogs 'bake' to death in back of handler's car

Two police dogs, including a puppy, have died after being left in the back their handler's car with the windows shut on one of the hottest days of the year.

The fully grown Belgian Shepherd dog and the German Shepherd puppy were found by other officers in a "state of collapse"in the back of the vehicle on Sunday morning.

They broke in and rushed them to an emergency vet but they were too ill to survive.

The Metropolitan police's Department of Professional Standards yesterday launched an investigation into the incident.

However, the handler, who was said to be "distraught" has not been suspended and the Independent Police Complaints Commission has not launched an inquiry.

The two dogs were found on Sunday in the back of the trainer's own car at the Met's dog training centre in Keston, Kent. (read more)

Greek minister warns of 'catastrophe' if parliamentary revolt leads to austerity bill being blocked

A Greek minister warned on Monday of "catastrophe" if parliament blocked a €28bn (£25bn) package of tax increases and spending cuts after signs of revolt by some deputies in the ruling PASOK party.

A Greek minister warned on Monday of "catastrophe" if parliament blocked a €28bn (£25bn) package of tax increases and spending cuts after signs of revolt by some deputies in the ruling PASOK party.

Greece's conservative opposition has rejected EU leaders' calls for national unity, forcing Prime Minister George Papandreou to rely on his slim parliamentary majority to push through the package.

Without approval for the measures, the European Union and International Monetary Fund say they will not disburse the fifth tranche of Greece's €110bn bailout programme.

Athens needs the €12bn to pay its bills next month and avert the euro zone's first sovereign default, which would send shockwaves through a jittery global financial system.

"I believe (the austerity plan) will pass. There are concerns, there is anguish, but above all there is common ground among PASOK's parliamentary group to assume a common responsibility," Defence Minister Panos Beglitis told Skai TV. (read more)

US consumer spending weakest for a year as claims of recovery appear increasingly ludicrous by the day

US consumer spending has slumped to its weakest in almost a year, underscoring the slowdown the economy has endured in 2011.

Spending was flat in May, the Commerce Department said on Monday, and, once adjusted for inflation, showed a decline of 1pc.

Hopes that 2011 would see the US recovery strengthen have so far been dashed as higher gasoline and food prices erode the spending power of millions of Americans.

The Commerce Department also said that average incomes climbed 0.3pc in May, which, alongside the recent decline in gasoline prices, provides some optimism for the second half of the year.

Average prices have dropped just over 10pc since reaching a three-year high of $3.99 at the start of May.

"Consumer spending and confidence has soured," said Chris Christopher, an analyst at IHS Global Insight. "The one piece of good news is that gasoline prices have started to fall offering some relief to a very fatigued consumer." (read more)

UK: Flash flood warning issued following heatwave

Flash floods could hit parts of the country as heavy showers follow the hottest day of the year so far, the Environment Agency and Met Office warned today.

The EA and Met Office warned communities in parts of southern, central and eastern England that they were at risk of flash flooding today and tomorrow.

Heavy and thundery showers are expected to develop through this afternoon and into the evening which could result in localised flooding, the agencies said.

While the risk of flooding from rivers remains low, surface water flooding could occur as between 25mm and 50mm (1-2in) of rain may fall in some places.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Environment Agency staff are on 24-hour alert and teams are monitoring river levels as the band of rain moves across the country.

"The public are encouraged to tune in to local media for weather forecasts for their area and to keep an eye out for signs of surface water flooding." (read more)

Unruly teen mob at Cleveland Heights street fair causes chaos

About 40 Cleveland Heights police officers had to control a crowd of unruly teenagers in the last hour of the Coventry Street Arts Fair Sunday, an event hat closes Coventry Road every summer from Mayfield Road to Euclid Heights Boulevard.

There were no reports of injuries, but Cleveland Heights police were expected later today to release the number of arrests made Sunday.

About nine people were arrested in 2010 at the street fair.

The teens, who other kids said were from "all over the place -- Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights -- were starting fights, screaming and throwing punches in the crowded streets, according to witnesses and shop owners.

Sarah Corcoran, 21, of Cleveland Heights, said she saw about 75 people run through the street, some yelling, just before the fair was scheduled to end at 6 p.m. Police showed up shortly after to clear the streets.

"It was a big commotion," said Shalai Melton, 15, of Garfield Heights.

"When somebody sees one person run, everybody runs," said Melton's 16-year-old friend, India Jackson.

Reactions to news coverage of the unrest has been mixed, with some eyewitnesses saying that the incidents were limited to a handful of teens over a short period of time, with others claiming it was a frightening scene. (read more)

Iran to stage missile wargames from Monday

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are to launch military exercises on Monday with the firing of different range ballistic missiles, the state news agency IRNA reported.

The exercises, codenamed Great Prophet-6, are to start on Monday, said a Guards commander, General Ami Ali Hadjizadeh, quoted by IRNA, without specifying how long the manoeuvres will last.

"Short-, medium- and long-range missiles will be fired, especially the Khalij-Fars, Sejil, Fateh, Ghiam, and Shahab-1 and -2 missiles," he said.

The general, whose force carries out wargames each year in the Gulf region, said the latest exercises were "a message of peace and friendship to the countries of the area."

In late May, Iran said it had equipped the Revolutionary Guards with a new surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam-1, which was built locally and test-fired last August.

Iran says it has a wide range of missiles, some capable of striking targets inside arch-foe Israel as well as US bases in the Middle East.

The Islamic republic regularly boasts about developing missiles having substantial range and capabilities, but Western military experts cast doubt on its claims.

Iran's missile programme is under the control of the Guards. (read more)

Floodwater seeps into Nebraska nuke plant building

Missouri River floodwater seeped into the turbine building at a nuclear power plant near Omaha on Monday, but plant officials said the seepage was expected and posed no safety risk because the building contains no nuclear material.

An 8-foot-tall, water-filled temporary berm protecting the plant collapsed early Sunday. Vendor workers were at the plant Monday to determine whether the 2,000 foot berm can be repaired.

Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson said pumps were handling the problem at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station and that "everything is secure and safe." The plant, about 20 miles north of Omaha, has been closed for refueling since April. Hanson said the berm's collapse didn't affect the shutdown or the spent fuel pool cooling.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks described the situation as stable. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko plans to inspect the Fort Calhoun plant on Monday as part of a pre-arranged visit to Nebraska.

Hanson said OPPD fired up generators and cut the power supply after water surrounded the main electrical transformers on Sunday. (read more)

Italy government tensions rise over austerity plans as Europe begins to crumble

Tensions increased in Italy's government on Sunday over an austerity plan to be approved next week, with one senior coalition member accusing Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti of trying to cause the government's collapse.

Defense Undersecretary Guido Crosetto told news agency ANSA he was "fed up" with Tremonti's autocratic style, saying he was imposing indiscriminate cuts on every ministry but his own.

"It's clear that the economy minister just wants to find a way to upset everything and bring down the government," said Crosetto, a former economic spokesman for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party.

The austerity budget aimed at eliminating the budget deficit in 2014 is due to be approved by the cabinet on Thursday, following a meeting of ruling coalition leaders on Tuesday to find political agreement over the measures.

Economy Ministry sources say the package will be worth some 43 billion euros, with deficit cuts of around 3 billion euros this year, 5 billion in 2012, 20 billion in 2013 and 15 billion in 2014.

Tensions within the center-right coalition have been running high for weeks, with some members pushing for tax cuts even as the government readies the deficit cuts that markets and ratings agencies are watching closely. (read more)

European leaders prepare for a Greek default

European leaders have admitted they are preparing for a Greek default as the eurozone debt crisis enters a pivotal week.

Greek politicians will vote on a radical €28.4bn (£25.2bn) austerity package in the coming days that they must pass if the country is to receive the vital fifth tranche of a €110bn bail-out agreed last year. The outcome is expected to go down to the wire as the ruling party's slim majority is pushed to the limit by the opposition's refusal to support the deal, a wave of national strikes, and another round of public protests.

Werner Faymann, the Austrian Chancellor, said on Sunday he "can't rule out" a Greek default and Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, revealed that Europe is preparing "for the worst".

"We are doing everything we can to prevent a perilous escalation for Europe but must at the same time be prepared for the worst," Mr Schaeuble said. "If things turn out differently than everyone expects that would of course be a major breakdown. But even in 2008, the world was able to take coordinated action against a global and unpredictable financial market crisis."

If the austerity package is passed, Greece has been promised a second bail-out of up to €120bn. Private sector creditors are being urged to participate on a voluntary basis but evidence is mounting that their involvement will be less than the €30bn officials at the European Union and International Monetary Fund hope.

German banks were reported over the weekend to be pushing for state guarantees in return for voluntarily "rolling over" the debt, but the demands were rejected by Chancellor Angela Merkel as they would increase the German taxpayers' exposure. In Britain, the Treasury said there were "no specific proposals" for the UK private sector to be involved. (read more)

Enter the dragon 'to save the euro’: China begins buying Europe

It is in the interest of cash-rich China to help resolve the eurozone debt crisis, but Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, who is visiting Britain and Continental Europe, will want a share of the West’s buying power in return.

As Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, stepped off his plane in Birmingham on Saturday, it was difficult to avoid the feeling that the UK, and Europe, have never looked weaker in Chinese eyes.

In private, senior Chinese diplomats are now openly scornful of Britain’s economic prospects and have even asked why Mr Wen should grace such a weak trading partner with three days of his time.

Indeed, it is telling that the first stop on Mr Wen’s tour is Longbridge, the old MG Rover car factory that passed into Chinese hands in 2005. Once a byword for poor productivity, wildcat strikes and trade union power in its British Leyland and Austin Rover days, the plant is now host to China’s biggest industrial presence in the UK. Owned by Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation, the factory designs and assembles MG cars in the UK made from car parts manufactured in China.

However, the Longbridge site remains the only major example of Sino-British co-operation, something that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, whose advisers have helped co-ordinate the visit, is determined to change.

On Mr Cameron’s visit to China last year, a target was announced for increasing bilateral UK-China trade to $100bn by 2015, from its 2010 total of $63bn and Number 10 sources said yesterday that they believe that “progress has been made” on hitting that figure. (read more)

Greek mess may cause second global financial crisis

THE dire situation in Greece has the potential to cause a second global financial crisis and we all need to factor in that possibility along with the impact of the fallout on our finances.

In recent months we've been keeping you up to date with the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain). These are the economic cot cases of Europe that need bailing out of their financial woes.

Greece is the most at risk of failing and global financial markets are on tenterhooks at the risk of this triggering a domino-style collapse of the rest of the PIIGS.

We're being bombarded with questions about Greece, so here are the answers.

Basically, Greece is full of tax cheats. Its workers are overpaid and can't be fired. In other words, Greece has been living beyond its means for years. The Government has borrowed heavily and been on a spending spree it couldn't afford. (read more)

Woman's leg broken, others hurt in Spring Garden mob attack

A WOMAN'S leg was broken and several other people were injured Saturday night when a large group of teens accosted pedestrians in Spring Garden, police and witnesses said.

Philadelphia police responded to two reports of pedestrians being assaulted by a large group of young people along Broad Street about 9:30 p.m.

One of those reports came from Emily Guendelsberger, 27, city editor for local arts and entertainment content for the Onion, the satirical newspaper and website. She was walking with seven friends on Green Street near Broad when they were accosted, she said. Guendelsberger, who remained hospitalized with a broken leg yesterday, declined to comment further.

A friend who was with her at the time, Daily News staff writer Molly Eichel, said that they were walking down Green Street when a group of teens was walking down Broad. "We heard kids yell, 'Run, run,' " Eichel said. "Some kid just came out of nowhere and punched my friend Charlie in the face."

Eichel said that when her group tried to run, about 20 teens chased them down the street. "They were kicking kids down and punching them when they were down," she said. (read more)

Egypt: Muslim extremists 'surround church and threaten to kill priest'

Hundreds of Muslim extremists surrounded a church in central Egypt and threatened to kill the local priest, the Assyrian International News Agency reported. The extremists began targeting the church in a village 7 kilometres south of the city of Minya in March after renovation work began, threatening to demolish the church.

AINA Friday cited eyewitnesses as saying that the Muslim mob, dressed in white robes and long beards, chanted: "We will kill the priest, we will kill him and no one will prevent us."

One of their leaders was cited as saying they would "…cut him to pieces," AINA reported.

The priest Father George Thabet, who was holding morning mass and was locked in the church with several parishioners. Security forces arrived five hours later and escorted the priest away in a police car to the Coptic Diocese in Minya.

Coptic youths who were attending mass remained inside St George's church to defend it from Muslim attacks.

No police or security of any kind was present during the standoff, according to reports.

The archdiocese of Minya issued a statement deploring the incident and the "return of the Salafists to besiege St. George's church again, some carrying weapons, threatening to kill the priest unless he leaves the village."

The statement called on government officials and security authorities uphold rule of law and maintaining security in the country.

On 23 March, hardline Muslims had surrounded the 100-year old church, which was granted a renovation licence, and ordered the church officials to stop construction immediately and undo what they had completed, threatening to demolish the church if their demands were not met. (read more)

2nd Dolphin Calf Dies at Baltimore's National Aquarium -- mystery continues

2nd Dolphin Calf Dies at Baltimore's National Aquarium: MyFoxDC.com



The second of two bottlenose dolphin calves born in April at the National Aquarium has died.

The calf died Saturday -- less than a week after the first baby dolphin died.

Aquarium officials say the unnamed female calf's health began failing on Friday, and it died Saturday evening. The cause of death is unknown. Lab results are expected in the next two weeks.

Up to one-third of baby dolphins don't survive their first year, whether they're born in the wild or in captivity. Of the 14 calves born at the aquarium since 1992, five died within their first year, and two more died as juveniles.

Sue Hunter, the aquarium's director of animal programs, says in a statement that "this has been an extremely sad and difficult week." (Source)

Delware County in State of Emergency due to gun violence



Darby Borough, Delaware County is under a State of Emergency due to a recent uptick of gun violence.

Five shootings in three days led to the announcement Friday night.

Mayor Helen Thomas announced the state of emergency telling residents the gun violence had to stop.

“I Mayor Helen R Thomas declare a state of emergency.”

Officials say the shootings were not fatal and they seem unrelated, but something had to be done to curb the violence (see related story).

An 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew is in effect for adults and juveniles for at least 10 days.

Anyone outside during that time can be stopped and questioned by police, though Police Chief Bob Smythe says they’re more concerned about groups loitering or causing trouble.

“You’re in a group of more than three people and you are causing a disturbance. You’re going to be stopped and you’re going to be cited,” says Smythe. (read more)

"Japan still on high radiation alert" -- despite Media boredom with the crisis

Threat of $100 billion hit if US top rating lost

Investors in the US government bond market could face losses of up to $100bn if the largest economy loses its triple A rating, according to a research arm of McGraw-Hill, the parent of Standard & Poor’s.

A ratings downgrade that results in higher bond yields and lower prices could also mean the US Treasury paying $2.3bn-$3.75bn a year more in interest on financing a $1,000bn annual budget deficit. (Source)

This week, Greece's fate hangs in the balance

The next week could decide the outcome of the debt crisis in Greece -- and the financial future of Europe along with it.

On Wednesday, the Greek Parliament is scheduled to vote on a raft of new painful austerity provisions, on top of the belt-tightening measures implemented last year.

The stakes are high, because Greece must approve the additional belt-tightening in order to win the last $17 billion of a $156 billion debt crisis relief package that was granted last year by its European neighbors.

The European Commission is hoping that the Parliament will approve the plan. "These measures, once fully implemented, will enable Greece to meet the agreed targets and remain on track," said the Commission on Friday.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a vote of confidence last week, but his hold on power is tenuous as he tries to convince Parliament to pass the measures.

The new austerity measures include reductions in the pay of public workers and an increase in the attrition of public jobs, according to Marko Mrsnik, the lead analyst in the Standard & Poor's downgrade of Greek debt on June 13. The new austerity measures are worth an estimated $112 billion to the Greek economy, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Jim Reid.

On July 3, finance ministers of the European Union will vote on whether to approve the fifth and final tranche of funding from the bailout. (read more)

Pakistan asks British military trainers to leave country as rift with west grows

Pakistan asked the British government to pull at least 18 military trainers from the country, British officials in Islamabad and London told CNN Monday.

The trainers were withdrawn from Balochistan and were not expelled, the Ministry of Defence said.

George Sherriff, a spokesman for the British High Commission in Islamabad, told CNN Pakistan had cited "security concerns" in its request. He said the British "understood" the concerns, but did not say what they were.

Pakistan asked the United States last month to reduce the number of military trainers it has in the country after the raid by U.S. Navy SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden.

A Pentagon spokesman said at the end of that the United States had begun to comply and is removing some of the more than 200 personnel who are posted there.

The British experts were assigned to train Pakistan's Frontier Corps, the paramilitary force that is taking on various militant groups along Pakistan's western border, the British High Commission said.

The team was asked to withdraw "in the last couple of weeks," the Ministry of Defence said. (read more)

More than 100 Hospitalized after Chemical Leak at Berry St. Tyson Plant, State of Arkansas - 27th June 2011



Springdale, Ark. - More than 100 people have been taken by ambulance to several Northwest Arkansas hospitals for medical attention after a chlorine gas leak at the Tyson Plant at 600 Berry Street in Springdale.

The Fayetteville Fire Department has set up a decontamination tent at the Emergency Room entrance of Washington Regional Medical center to patients from the Tyson leak.

Pat Driscoll with Northwest Health says a hospital in Bentonville has taken in eight patients. Two of them are in serious condition. Northwest Health's Springdale location is treating 21 patients, one of which is in the intensive care unit.

By 10:45 a.m., Washington Regional had received at least 30 employees of a Tyson facility in Springdale. They are expecting more patients. Family members of the workers are asked to check in at the Washington Regional Emergency Department, where they will be directed to a patient family area.

As of 11:45am, 46 patients have been transported to Mercy Medical Center in Rogers and are being decontaminated and triaged.

According to Gary Michelson with Tyson, the chlorine gas came from an 'accidental mixture' around 9:15 a.m. A hazmat team was called and about 300 workers were evacuated from a section of the plant called “the chiller.” Michelson says many plant employees began to have difficulty breathing and a burning sensation in their lungs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, other symptoms of chlorine exposure include burning in the eyes, nose and throat, nausea and vomiting, and burning, redness and blisters on the skin.

Chlorine is often used as a sanitizer at poultry plants. The Berry St. plant employs more than 1,200 people and produces fresh and processed chicken. Source

Daniel Moore a British Tourist is Fighting for his Life in Sydney after being found in the Street with Horrific Injuries - 27th June 2011

A British tourist is fighting for his life after mysteriously being found in a critical condition, lying in the middle of a Sydney street on Sunday morning having suffered severe injuries.

Daniel Moore, a 21-year-old who had been living in Australia for two years, was discovered with a fractured skull, broken ribs and internal bleeding in Manly, a suburb of Sydney.

New South Wales state police said they do not know how Mr Moore was injured and have appealed to the public for information - though they want to talk to a taxi driver, who is believed to have been one of the last people to see the victim.

Inspector Bob Bell of Manly police said: 'It's a bit of a mystery, although we're following a certain line of inquiry.'

Inspector Bell said he hoped Mr Moore would be able to communicate with officers soon and added: 'He's the one bloke who can throw light on the whole thing.

'We haven't been able to speak to him because of his condition.'

Inspector Bell indicated that shops in the area did have security cameras installed, but none were pointed to the area where Mr Moore was found.

While police refused to rule out a hit-and-run, Mr Moore's parents are flying from the UK to be at his bedside, at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital.

After being found on the road at the intersection of Pittwater Road and Collingwood Street in Manly, he is suffering from a fractured skull and ribs and internal bleeding. Read More

Desperate screams of boy, six, killed in house blaze after being 'too frightened to jump to safety' - 27th June 2011

A six-year-old boy died in a house fire after being too scared to jump to safety.

Onlookers last saw Aiden Owens screaming from a bedroom window before the floors collapsed underneath him at his end-terrace home in Milton, near Invergordon, in the Scottish Highlands.

Despite neighbours throwing a mattress to the ground outside the window, the boy would not jump to safety after being trapped upstairs.

Firefighters recovered his body from the kitchen below the bedroom, while his mother and 11-year-old sister managed to escape the huge blaze.

Aiden's sister Chloe had escaped the fire from a first floor window at the back of the house following the fire which started at 2.30am on Sunday morning.

The boy's mother did not appear for 15 minutes after that, as neighbours said she 'didn't want to leave without her little boy'.

She eventually jumped to safety, but the six-year-old was left inside as flames engulfed the house.

Neighbours had raised the alarm after hearing a massive explosion 'like dynamite' before the blaze tore through the house.

Firefighters are yet to establish what caused the explosion and fire.

Mrs Davidson's eldest son, Dylan, 10, was luckily staying with his grandmother when the fire happened, according to the Scottish Daily Record.

Ambulance and fire services went to the scene at in Milton shortly after the fire broke out.

Police said the neighbouring property was evacuated, but the emergency services were unable to enter the burning building because the fire was so severe. Read More

Gaddafi becomes world's most wanted as International Criminal Court issues crimes against humanity arrest warrant - 27th June 2011

An international arrest warrant was issued against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as rebels fighters battled to within 50 miles of his Tripoli stronghold.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court accused Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi of crimes against humanity.

They are said to have orchestrated the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising.

The warrants turn the three men into internationally wanted suspects, potentially complicating efforts to mediate an end to more than four months of intense fighting in the North African nation.

Anti-Gaddafi forces said yesterday they had launched a new push towards Tripoli and made their biggest breakthrough in weeks in the Western Mountains region southwest of the Libyan capital to reach the strategic town of Bir al-Ghanam, where they are now fighting pro-Gaddafi forces for control.

With world leaders stepping up calls for Gaddafi to end his four-decade rule, Nato war planes again pounded targets in Tripoli, including the leader’s compound. Read More

Hunt for the 'Burka Bandit': Man armed with knife and umbrella dressed as Muslim woman to rob travel agents - 27th June 2011

A man who holds up travel agents with a knife while dressed as a woman in a burka has been caught on CCTV.

The man, who travels from shop to shop taking 'substantial' amounts of money, was filmed twice in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

Dressed head-to-toe in the Muslim women's outfit, he first threatened two women with a knife on a raid at First Choice travel agents.

He was also seen carrying an umbrella but it is unknown if this was another form of disguise or if he used it to threaten his victims.

He forced them into a back room where he demanded cash from the safe.

The first incident happened in July 2009 and the second in May last year but these images were released last week as part of the Crimewatch Roadshow which is currently touring the country.

The second robbery happened at a branch of Thompsons where he threatened a member of staff and a customer, again with a knife.

As with the first robbery, which took place just around the corner from the second, he took the women into a back office and escaped with cash from a safe.

Detective Sergeant Terry David from Bedfordshire police said: 'Witnesses are sure [it was a man] because of the voice, build and mannerisms.'

He added it was difficult for police because officers can't go around lifting people's burkas. Read More

Trains delayed because there's too much SUN on the tracks (and even the pavements are melting) - 27th June 2011

Britain was in meltdown today as the hottest day of the year caused chaos around the country and thousands of fans queued for Wimbledon.

As tennis fans cheered on Andy Murray to victory, the searing heat caused a funeral parlour to catch fire, pavements to melt and delays on the railways.

Weather officials issued health warnings as temperatures trumped the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and eastern deserts and reached a heady 33c.

At Wimbledon where Murray won his last 16 game, hundreds of sweltering fans had to lie down on the grass as they battled the immense heat.

The heat seems to have done little for the struggling Williams sisters who both made a shock exit from the tournament.

Venus Williams' attempt to win a sixth Wimbledon title ended in the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.

The 23-year-old Pironkova beat Williams at Wimbledon last year by the same score to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal. She also won their first-round match at the Australian Open in 2006.

Williams' defeat came shortly after younger sister Serena also went out in the fourth round, losing to Marion Bartoli. It is the first time since 2006 that neither sister has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

The crashing defeats for two of tennis's biggest names came as forecasters said that the blistering heatwave would continue throughout the day, but in a dramatic twist, thunderstorms are expected to lash down from the sky tonight.

But already the unexpected heat has caused problems, with speed restrictions on a busy rail commuter route as the sun overheated rails and overhead power lines. Read More

Billy West Jailed for 2 Years 5 Months for smashing wine bottle over diner's head for complaining that his baby would not stop crying

A young father smashed a wine bottle over a diner’s head when he complained that his baby would not stop crying.

Company director Clive Merrifield, 45, was enjoying an evening meal with partner Idalina Lucas when he politely suggested Billy West, 20, and his girlfriend to put the wailing seven-month-old to bed.

West approached the couple’s neighbouring table, pulled a bottle of white wine from their ice bucket and brought it down at ‘full force’ onto Mr Merrifield’s skull in front of stunned customers.

He has been jailed for two years and five months for the sickening attack.

The victim was left with a ‘four inch ragged scar’ on his scalp following the brutal assault at Parveen, an Indian Restaurant in Theberton Street, Islington, north London.

The former soldier fears the wound makes him look like a thug and is anxious about his image with employees and clients, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.

Karen Robinson, prosecuting, said the clash took place shortly after 10pm on October 9 last year after the baby had been crying for up to half an hour.

West was sitting at a table with his young family and another man, and Mr Merrifield and Ms Lucas were at the next.

‘The baby was crying and the lady was seen to get up and down and make moves in an effort to comfort the baby,’ said the barrister.

‘It was described as consistent and persistent and went on for about 15 to 30 minutes.

‘Other customers were looking in the direction of the baby during the course of this period.

‘Mr Merrifield said he had had a couple of drinks but describes himself as sober.’

The prosecutor said Mr Merrifield became ‘frustrated by the crying and put his head in his hands’, and told Ms Lucas: ‘I’ve had enough.’

The victim stood up, approached West’s party and said: ‘It’s a quiet restaurant. We’re trying to have a quiet dinner and your baby’s not stopped crying.

‘Maybe your baby is tired?’

Witnesses described his tone as ‘polite and reasonable’, but nontheless West’s girlfriend held the child aloft and said sarcastically: ‘It’s a baby.’

Mr Merrifield suggested the child ‘ought to be in bed’, prompting West and the second man to stand up and invite him to settle the matter ‘outside’.

Staff asked them to leave the restaurant and West was ushered towards the door.

But they ‘continued to remonstrate with staff’ and CCTV shows West returning to Mr Merrifield, who had stayed sitting down.

‘He took a glass wine bottle from its ice bucket and hit him to the back of the head, smashing it on impact,’ said the prosecutor. Read More

Two police dogs 'boil to death' in car at Met training centre as temperatures soar - 27th June 2011

Two police dogs - one of them just a puppy - have died after being left in a locked car with the windows shut as temperatures soared yesterday.

An inquiry has been launched by Scotland Yard after the two animals were found inside a private vehicle belonging to a Met police officer.

The dying Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd were discovered at the Met's dog training centre in Keston, Kent, by a member of staff as temperatures reached 29C.

The animals were rushed to a vet after staff smashed the car's windows but they later died.

The officer, in whose car the animals were found, worked for Central Operations which includes police dog handlers.

A source told The Sun: 'It was a horrible way to die. They literally boiled to death.

'Everyone is terribly upset about what has happened.'

The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the RSPCA have been informed about the deaths.

Sources said an internal inquiry would consider a possible criminal prosecution. Read More

D.C. Caribbean Festival 2011 Brawl captured on camera



But wait! The police have things under control... on their Segweys!
*Cue "The Good, Bad, and the Ugly" theme music*

Syrian general: Hundreds of soldiers, police killed by armed gangs



Syria's military spokesman says more than 400 members of security forces have been killed in the months-long unrest that has taken hold in the country, a charge that came as videos surfaced allegedly showing children killed in the violence.

In an interview with CNN in Damascus, Maj. Gen. Riad Haddad said that 1,300 security personnel also were wounded, and that 300 soldiers, 60 security officials and 50 police died in the violence.

He also has said 700 people, whom he described as terrorists, and their families had fled Syrian authorities for Turkey.

Haddad offered no details about the killings of the security forces other than to blame the deaths on armed gangs. CNN cannot independently verify the claim.

President Bashar al-Assad has faced growing criticism from leaders in the United States, Europe and elsewhere over his government's violent clampdown on demonstrators. Al-Assad has repeatedly blamed "armed gangs" in explaining its military crackdowns, which have pushed thousands of Syrians to flee to Turkey.

Security sources in Lebanon told CNN that about 1,000 Syrians have crossed into Lebanon near the town of Hermel. (read more)

Radiation discovered in Fukushima residents

Japanese researchers have found radiation in all 15 people tested last month from the area near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Cesium was found in the participants, ranging from 4 to 77 years old, through two rounds of testing conducted by Nanao Kamada at the Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine of Hiroshima University.

Kamada insisted that the cesium numbers are minute and do not represent a health threat.

The people tested lived in the towns of Iitate and Kawamata, located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the nuclear plant.

The participants were also tested for radioactive iodine, which was found in the urine of six Fukushima prefecture residents.

The urine samples from a 77-year-old man in the first round of tests indicated radioactivity as high as 3.2 millisieverts. (read more)

California ban on sale of 'violent' video games to children rejected

The Supreme Court has struck down a California law that would have banned selling "violent" video games to children, a case balancing free speech rights with consumer protection.

The 7-2 ruling Monday is a victory for video game makers and sellers, who said the ban -- which has yet to go into effect -- would extend too far. They say the existing nationwide, industry-imposed, voluntary rating system is an adequate screen for parents to judge the appropriateness of computer game content.

The state says it has a legal obligation to protect children from graphic, interactive images when the industry has failed to do so.

The case is Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Assn. (08-1448). (read more)

International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, accusing him of crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, accusing him of crimes against humanity.

The court had grounds to believe he had ordered attacks on civilians during Libya's four-month uprising, it said.

The Hague-based court also issued warrants for two of Col Gaddafi's top aides - his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the conflict.

Anti-Gaddafi forces said on Monday they had launched a new push towards Tripoli, with heavy fighting near the strategic town of Bir al-Ghanam, to the south-west of capital.

The rebel defence minister told the BBC that forces opposed to Col Gaddafi may also make a move on the capital from the east. (read more)

Zombie apocalypse warning in St. John's

Commuters in the St. John's area who might have been expecting a heads-up about construction delays were instead warned about something else: zombies.

"Zombie invasion! Run!" said one of the messages that appeared on an electronic traffic sign positioned near Windsor Lake, one of the main water supplies in St. John's.

The sign, which had been expected to advise motorists of construction that started Monday on Portugal Cove Road, had been programmed with other messages, including "Expect apocalyptic doom!"

A final message said, "Rule #2: Double tap!", a line from the 2009 Woody Harrelson comedy Zombieland.

City crews later arrived to turn off the sign, and then carted it away. (read more)

Greece: French banks ready to roll over Greece loans (the can still has some kick left in it yet)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says his country's banks would help Greece by giving it 30 years to repay.

France's Figaro newspaper said banks are ready to relend - or roll over - 70% of loans they hold.

The plan is being worked out by the French government and bankers.

Greece, which has not yet exhausted all its first 110bn-euro (£98bn, $158bn) bail-out, is already standing by for further rescue loans expected to be up to 120bn euros.
Losses

However, the German government and others have been pressing for banks and other private-sector lenders to Greece to be involved this time round.

German banks are reported to be very interested in the French model being discussed.

A group of international bankers are currently meeting eurozone officials in Rome to discuss the crisis.

The matter is fraught because credit rating agencies, who determine the credit-worthiness of borrowers, have already said they will view any roll-over of loans by banks as a technical default, something that is tantamount to bankruptcy. (read more)

Los Angeles Dodgers file for bankruptcy as pro sports teams begin feeling economic downturn

The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday, blaming the refusal of Major League Baseball to approve a multibillion-dollar TV deal that owner Frank McCourt was counting on to keep the troubled team afloat.

The Chapter 11 financing permits the Dodgers to use $150 million for daily operations and buys time for the team to seek a media deal, the team said in a news release.

"There will be no disruption to the Dodgers day-to-day business, the baseball team, or to the Dodger fans," the statement said.

Bankruptcy protection will provide the Dodgers with a process to address its immediate financing requirements and obtain the capital necessary to ensure the baseball franchise's long-term financial stability, the team said.

McCourt said the Dodgers have tried for almost a year to get Selig to approve the Fox transaction. The deal would have provided him with $385 million up front and was vital to a binding settlement reached between him and his ex-wife and former Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt last week. McCourt now faces the potential of missing a June 30 team payroll without the TV funds and that could lead to a MLB takeover.

The McCourts have been embroiled in a contentious divorce where their lavish spending habits were detailed in court documents. The former couple took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodger-related businesses, records show. (read more)

Hotel photography scams that lure in tourists: 'The sexy lady' and other hotel photo tricks

The official hotel photos showed off a sparking pool, lush palm trees and a stunning waterfront location, but the online review from a recent guest wasn't so pretty.

"Travelor27" felt that the resort in San Diego, California, just didn't live up to the lovely pictures.

"We couldn't believe it when we pulled up. Where was the hotel in the photos?" Travelor27 wrote in a review titled "Website Photos VERY Misleading" and posted last month on TripAdvisor.com.

Another poster let loose about a hotel in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

"The pictures on the internet look rather appealing, however, they are EXTREMELY MISLEADING. THIS PLACE IS A DUMP," fumed Summer228.

All travelers have been there at one point or another, because it's hard not to fall in love with the gorgeous marketing photos that hotels use to entice guests. Who can resist swaying palm trees, pristine beaches and luxury decor?

But buyer beware: That resort advertising itself as an oasis of peace may turn out to be next to a noisy construction site. Or you may find that the beautifully appointed room in the photos is just another generic hotel space when you get there. (read more)

1.6 million British Children In Extreme Poverty

A growing number of children in the UK are living in extreme poverty because of huge increases in the cost of energy, petrol and food, according to a leading charity.

Save the Children says the figure has risen to 1.6 million, with 290,000 in London.

The rising cost of living and a slow economic recovery has left thousands of families struggling to pay for even the basics.

A family of four has seen their weekly food bill of £100 increase by £5 since last year, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Julie Henry knows the real cost of rising food and fuel prices, with four hildren and just £108 a week in benefits to cover all the family bills.

She is constantly on the look out for bargains and sadly that means no money left to give the children treats. (read more)

Treating Drug Addicts Costs £3.6bn: UK Report

It costs £3.6bn a year to treat problem drug users and keep them on benefits, a report has revealed.

The study by the think tank the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has criticised government plans to change the way authorities tackle drug addiction.

It said the plans for payment-by-results schemes are "doomed to failure".

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke wants to divert people with drug problems away from prison and into treatment, as part of a "rehabilitation revolution".

But the CPS said that that rewarding addicts who have improved their health and employment prospects, but who are not being treated for drug addiction was "seriously misguided".

Kathy Gyngell, the author of the report, said measures like prescribing methadone to drug addicts delays their recovery.

"Solving the drug problem means recognising the problem for what it is: one of addiction," the report said. (read more)

Nauru, the paradise island being swallowed by the ocean



Endless hours of travel have left me more than a little raw.

The 12-hour layover in Australia's Brisbane International Airport is a whiz-bang. I find myself shopping for crystal unicorns and staring at duty-free liquor. Two entire shifts of employees come and go while I down 14 shots of espresso.

It's 14 hours from California to Australia, then one more flight to Nauru.

Where? Exactly. It's a tiny island nation about 1,800 miles from eastern Australia. It's in the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, beyond Papua New Guinea, beyond the Solomon Islands. If the world were flat, this might be the last stop before you fell off.

Nauru first hit my radar as the last country that CNN iReport waited on to complete its Global Challenge, a race to net an iReport story from every nation on the planet.

Soon, Nauru will also hold the chair of the U.N. Alliance of Small Island States, a group of 43 countries working together to slow climate change.

It's a new role for Nauru and its 9,000-some inhabitants. They'll be the voice of places like Tuvalu and Kiribati, tiny islands that might well be erased by rising oceans; tiny islands trying to make the case to the world at large to cut emissions and extend the Kyoto Protocol, lest the ocean swallow them up. (read more)

Gas station explosion kills one, wounds 12 in Turkey - 27th June 2011

A powerful explosion blamed on a gas leak ripped through a gas station in southeast Turkey on Monday, killing one person and injuring 12, a senior official said.

Television footage showed serious damage caused by the blast at the scene in Karakopru, Sanliurfa province, where aid workers were seen carrying wounded people on stretchers among the debris as firefighters scrambled to extinguish burning vehicles.

"According to the initial impression of the fire-fighting brigade and technical personnel, (the explosion) was not an act of terrorism but originated from a LPG leak . . . There is a large LPG tank at the spot," Sanliurfa Governor Nuri Okutan said on the NTV news channel.

"Twelve citizens were injured, including two in serious condition with burns. We have one dead," he said.

The governor said both the owners of the gas station and residents had recently reported an apparent gas leak, but experts who visited the gas station failed to detect a problem.

Dozens of buildings and 19 vehicles in the area were damaged, he said.

Accidental gas explosions are frequent in Turkey, where respect for safety regulations is often minimal.

In February, 17 people were killed in two separate blasts that ripped through workshops in Ankara's main industrial district. Source

How to Protect yourself from E.Coli

Oyster harvesters remain wary after Mississippi River flooding - 26th June 2011

LinkThe dire fear that Mississippi River floodwater would decimate the already much-beleaguered Louisiana oyster crop has, thus far, not come to fruition.

But with the Bonnet Carre Spillway just shuttered last week and one remaining gate open on the Morganza Floodway, some oyster fishers still have a wait-and-see approach, hoping large amounts of pocketed fresh water don’t move into their grounds. Yet the brackish balancing act between fresh and saltwater isn’t a zero sum game, as a little fresh water could be extremely helpful to oysters by decreasing predators and preventing disease.

Tidal cycles and wind have helped move water around, generally pushing it north and helping to mix Gulf and fresh water and restore some salinity levels.

But extreme drops in salinities have killed a significant number of oysters on some private and public oyster grounds throughout the state, and as July rolls forward state officials and oyster fishers will tally the dead and acknowledge their luck, a commodity few and far between in recent years.

Mike Voisin, owner of Motivatit Seafood and a member of the Governor’s Oyster Advisory Committee, pointed out the flood is the sixth hit in the last six years to the nation’s richest oyster grounds. He called it “weird” and prays that “weird is not the new normal.”

From Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Gustav and Ike to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Voisin anticipates “the great flood will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some farmers, perhaps 3 to 4 percent of the people out there, as I see the worry lines on foreheads are just a little deeper.” Read More

Mexico Authorities Find Bodies in 11 Mass Grave Pits - 26th June 2011

The violent struggle continues in Mexico after more bodies were found Saturday.

Mexico's army dug up human remains in 11 pits at an abandoned ranch in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, a state prosecutor's official said.

Authorities believe the graves contain at least 11 bodies, the official said, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk on the record.

State police investigating the site along with the army said there might be dozens of bodies buried at the ranch, but because only small bones were found it was difficult to determine the number, the official said.

The mass grave was discovered Friday by soldiers patrolling in the municipality of Juarez, about an hour's drive from the wealthy state capital of Monterrey. This is the fourth time remains have been uncovered in Juarez this year.

Authorities also found in separate rooms at the site mattresses riddled with bullets, spent AK-47 cartridges, large metal barrels and empty containers with gasoline traces, the official said. This led police to believe the bodies were burned in the barrels before being buried, he said.

Near the graves, soldiers found metallic rods nailed to trees that may have been used to tie victims' hands so they could be tortured, the official said.

Nuevo Leon has been a scene of constant killings and reprisals among rival drug traffickers since a rupture between the Gulf and Zeta cartels in late 2009.

Mass graves sometimes containing hundreds of corpses have been found across the U.S.-Mexico border region, where cartels are engaged in bloody turf battles. More than 400 bodies were found in a series of clandestine graves in Tamaulipas and Durango states since April. Read More

Record 'dead zone' predicted in Gulf of Mexico - 17th June 2011

The so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico — a region of oxygen-depleted water off the Louisiana and Texas coasts that is harmful to sea life — is predicted to be the largest ever recorded when it develops later this summer, scientists report.

The unusually large size of the zone is due to the extreme flooding of the Mississippi River this spring, which equaled or surpassed the historic floods of 1927 and 1937, according to the National Weather Service.

The dead zone occurs at the bottom of the Gulf when there is not enough oxygen in the water to support marine life. Also known as hypoxia, it is created by nutrient runoff, mostly from over-application of fertilizer on agricultural fields.


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees the dead zone research, 41% of the contiguous USA drains into the Mississippi River and then out to the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of the land in the Mississippi's watershed is farmland.

Excess nutrients such as nitrogen can spur the growth of algae, and when the algae die, their decay consumes oxygen faster than it can be brought down from the surface, NOAA says. As a result, fish, shrimp and crabs can suffocate.

The entire depth of the Gulf is not a dead zone, only the bottom two meters, says Steve DiMarco, an associate professor of oceanography at Texas A&M.

What happens to the sea life in that dead zone? Don Scavia, a professor of natural resources at the University of Michigan, says that most anything that can swim away leaves, but that anything that can't leave, such as the bottom-dwelling bugs that fish and shrimp feed on, will die. Read More

Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico getting bigger - 26th June 2011

There was a story reported this week that should be alarming to all of us here along the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say the dead zone in the Northern Gulf this year will be the largest ever.

This is an area where oxygen depleted water makes it hard for any sea life to survive. It is created by all the rich nutrients that come down the Mississippi River and cause microscopic plants like algae to bloom and when they die and decay they consume the oxygen in the water.

The record flood on the Mississippi River is believed to be causing the increase this year. So far most of the dead zone is located off of the mouth of the Mississippi River stretching toward the western Louisiana and Texas shore line. However, what is to keep the dead zone from moving more into our part of the Gulf?

The good news is that the dead zone can be reversed. But to do so we must have the help of the folks who live up river where fertilizer run offs are allowed to flow into the Mississippi River.

We urge our congressional delegation along with Louisiana's to take action and create laws to regulate waste runoff. Residents along the Mississippi should also be educated about the effect of their runoffs.

If nothing is done, the dead zone will most likely continue to grow and one day our local fishermen and shrimpers will have to travel miles before they will ever be able to catch the first shrimp or fish. Source