Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hekla: Ash cloud fears as Icelandic volcano 'ready to erupt'

One of Iceland’s most feared volcanoes looks ready to erupt, experts said on Wednesday, raising fears of a new ash cloud halting flights over Europe.

The Hekla volcano is close to the ash-spewing Eyjafjallajökull, which last year caused the biggest closure of airspace shut down since the Second World War, affecting more than 100,000 flights and eight million passengers.

“The movements around Hekla have been unusual in the last two to three days,” University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson said.

While this might not necessarily mean an immediate blast, “the volcano is ready to erupt,” he stressed. “The mountain has been slowly expanding in the last few years because of magma buildup.”

Another geophysicist, Ari Trausit Gudmundsson, also said the measurements around Hekla were very “unusual” and that the volcano looked ready to blow. “Something is going on,” he said.

The volcano, dubbed the “Gateway to Hell” by Icelanders in the Middle Ages, is one of the country’s most active, having erupted some 20 times over the past millennium, most recently on February 26, 2000. (read more)

Europe declares war on rating agencies after "destabilising" Portugal downgrade

A chorus of policy-makers from Europe and across the world have denounced Moody's drastic downgrade of Portuguese debt as an act of financial vandalism, accusing the "Anglo-Saxon" rating agencies of driving states into bankruptcy and destabilising the global system.

Wolfgang Schauble, German finance minister, said there was no justification for the four-notch downgrade or for warnings that Portugal might need a second bail-out. "We must break the oligopoly of the rating agencies," he said.

Heiner Flassbeck, director of the UN Office for World Trade and Development, said the agencies should be "dissolved" before they can do any more damage, or at least banned from rating countries.

Moody's downgrade late on Tuesday set off immediate contagion to Ireland, with dangerous ripple effects across southern Europe. Yields on Irish two-year bonds surged above 15pc of the first time. Italian borrowing costs reached levels not seen since the aftermath of the Lehman crisis in late 2008. Yields on Spain's 10-year bonds jumped 12 basis points to 5.59pc.

The renewed jitters chilled the torrid summer rally on global bourses. The FTSE 100 slipped 21 points to 6,002, while Milan fell 2.4pc. A quarter-point rate rise in China added to the mood of caution, capping commodity gains.

David Owen, of Jefferies Fixed Income, said concerns are growing the crisis could spread to bigger economies as growth falters across Europe's southern arc. "The risk of cross-over into Spain and Italy is very serious. The fear is what will happen if Spanish 10-year yields rise above 5.7pc and stay there for a few weeks. Spain also has €2.5 trillion of private sector debt, and a rise in rates risks pushing the country into recession." (read more)

Exxon oil spill on Yellowstone River disrupts farms

Governor Brian Schweitzer vowed on Tuesday to cling to Exxon Mobil like "the smell on a skunk" for as long as it takes to get the company to clean up a weekend oil spill that fouled an otherwise pristine stretch of the Yellowstone River in Montana.

A 12-inch Exxon pipeline ruptured on Friday night about 150 miles downstream from Yellowstone National Park near the town of Laurel, Montana, southwest of Billings, dumping up to 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, of crude oil into the flood-swollen river.

Toxic fumes from the oil overcame a number of people who reported breathing problems and dizziness and were taken to local hospitals. But state and federal officials on Tuesday said they lacked a tally of health problems or the number of riverside homes that were evacuated after the accident.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday ordered Exxon to re-bury the pipeline underneath the Yellowstone river bed to protect it and conduct a risk assessment on the 69-mile long pipeline where it crosses any waterway. It must then submit a restart plan before operations can resume.

"The investigation into this incident is ongoing," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "When companies are not living up to our safety standards, we will take action. We will continue to work with the EPA, while ensuring that those responsible are held accountable."

Exxon officials said shoreline oil contamination extended at least 25 miles downstream but appeared to be confined mostly to scattered pockets along the river. (read more)

US Congress: Libyan War Unconstitutional, About Oil



Reader contributed.

Greek Austerity and Greece's bailout: Max Keiser, Nigel Farage, Gerald Celente weigh in



Reader contributed.

NASA's Orion: Is This The Future Of Space Travel?

Sky News has been given rare access to the vehicle Nasa believes could be the shuttle's replacement, ahead of the space shuttle Atlantis' final mission.

Ever since that "one small step" America has had a love affair with space travel. After Apollo, the shuttle became the spacecraft for a new generation.

But as it approaches its final launch, what next for manned space flight?

The Orion, or Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle looks much like the Apollo, that familiar cone-shaped capsule which rides on top of a rocket.

However, it is much more advanced technically, and, most importantly for Nasa, is cheaper, safer and more flexible than the shuttle.

Tests are already being carried out on Orion in the desert ready for a possible launch by 2015 or 2016. (read more)

The Real Chinese Black Swan: No Matter What China Does, It's in Trouble

Party rulers in China are trapped in a position that chess players deeply fear — zugzwang — where any move made puts you at disadvantage. In China, the potential cost of both action and inaction is economic collapse.

China is slowly starting to face the consequences of its actions — loans grew over 30% a year over the last few years — and inflation is rising fast. Inflation in developed countries is unpleasant, but it is tolerable. For a developing country — and China, despite its size, is still a developing country — it can be catastrophic. In developed countries, we spend two or three times less on food as a percentage of our income as do people in developing countries. Therefore, though food inflation is unpleasant, we have a much greater tolerance (margin of safety) for it. While food inflation the US can mean fewer trips to restaurants or no summer vacation, food inflation in China leads to hunger.

The Chinese government is desperately trying to put the brakes on the economy. It is shutting off lending to land developers and has raised bank reserve requirements five times this year. However, its success on the inflation front will likely lead to a slowdown of the economy and high unemployment. Ironically, those were the issues party planners tried to cure when they stimulated the hell out of the economy over the last few years. (read more)

Did Obama's Failure to Stand Up to Wall Street Doom the Recovery?

Columnists occasionally suffer from a bias against the obvious. For writers with lots of space and an expectation to surprise their audience, there arises a natural prejudice against simple explanations.

It is simple to say that unemployment is high today because we suffered a catastrophic financial collapse. It is simple to say that Wall Street profits are high today because financial firms, having been bailed out by Washington, understand how to mint money in a global economy with ferocious foreign growth. It is less simple, and also quite surprising, to argue that 9 percent unemployment is the stepchild of Wall Street's enduring power.

Thus, this: "Obama's Original Sin" is the first column by Frank Rich for his new employer, the redoubtable New York magazine, four months since his left his plum gig on the New York Times Sunday op-ed page. In the sub-header of the article, or what journalists would call the dek, it's clear that Rich's gunpowder has spent the last 100 days generating kinetic heat, because the top-line accusation is explosive: "The president's failure to demand a reckoning from the moneyed interests who brought the economy down has cursed his first term, and could prevent a second."

Later Frank settles on a thesis: "[Obama's] failure to push back against the financial sector, sparing it any responsibility for the economy it tanked, empowered it to roll over his agenda with its own. He has come across as favoring the financial elite over the stranded middle class even if, in his heart of hearts, he does not. There are at least three reasons to question the idea that Obama's failure to rein in Wall Street, punish Wall Street, and fine Wall Street, is what's fundamentally hurting Main Street.

First, there is little evidence that money on Wall Street hurts job creation. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the correlation, whatever its strength, goes the opposite way. When banks have more money, they have more money to lend, and companies have more money to spend. Wall Street was fabulously profitable in the 2000s when unemployment was below 5%. Then financial firms saw profits plunge in 2008, and the economy went into a tailspin. Job losses accelerated into January 2009. By July that year, financial profits had stabilized and six months later, unemployment hit a plateau. The unjust reality of things is that when Wall Street falls, the economy falls; but when Wall Street picks itself up, the workforce doesn't necessarily follow. (read more)

US and Russia stir up political tensions over Arctic: New "Cold War" looming?

The seventh ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in May looked like it would be a mundane affair with its focus on signing a new search-and-rescue agreement and handover of the chairmanship to Sweden.

But the atmosphere in Nuuk, Greenland, was electrified by the first appearance at such a forum of the United States courtesy of secretary of state Hillary Clinton, secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, and a host of other heavy-hitting politicians.

The message was loud and clear. The US is putting itself at the centre of a debate about the future of the far north at a time when a new oil and mineral "cold rush" is under way as global warming makes extraction more easy.

And being the US, the soft diplomacy was backed up with a bit of symbolic hardware. A few weeks earlier two nuclear-powered submarines were sent to patrol 150 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Meanwhile the Russians – also part of the eight-nation Arctic Council – were happy to push off the agenda any look at whether countries such as China could gain observer status.

The appearance of the US navy comes as the Russians are said to have increased missile testing in the region and its neighbour Norway has moved its main military base to the far north.

Meanwhile China has started to make political and commercial overtures to countries such as Greenland which are rich in rare Earth minerals needed for mobile phones and other hi-tech equipment.

The competing commercial and other opportunities on the Arctic continental shelf are complicated by the lack of a comprehensive agreement on who owns what. Many countries are in the middle of submitting competing land claims to the United Nations as part of its Law of the Sea Convention – a treaty as yet unsigned by America. (read more)

Chief calls looting, beatings in Riverwest barbaric: Black youths mercilessly attack and rob gathering of white neighbours; once again, no retribution

Shaina Perry remembers the punch to her face, blood streaming from a cut over her eye, her backpack with her asthma inhaler, debit card and cellphone stolen, and then the laughter.

"They just said 'Oh, white girl bleeds a lot,' " said Perry, 22, who was attacked at Kilbourn Reservoir Park over the Fourth of July weekend.

Though Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn noted Tuesday that crime is colorblind, he called the Sunday night looting of a convenience store near the park and beatings of a group of people who had gone to the park disturbing, outrageous and barbaric.

Police would not go quite as far as others in connecting the events; Flynn said several youths "might" be involved in both.

"We're not going to let any group of individuals terrorize or bully any of our neighborhoods," Flynn said.

Perry was among several who were injured by a mob they said beat and robbed them and threw full beer bottles while making racial taunts. The injured people were white; the attackers were African-American, witnesses said.

Store video of the BP station at E. North Ave. and N. Humboldt Blvd. shows the business being ransacked. A clerk at BP confirmed to the Journal Sentinel that he was busy waiting on customers when one or two people held the door open to let others rush in and steal snacks and candy.

Not far away, 20 to 25 friends from Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood had gathered at the park shortly before midnight to watch some fireworks set off by a neighbor. In interviews with 11 people who said they were attacked or witnessed the attack, a larger group of youths appeared in another section of the park around midnight and were joined by more young people running up the park's stairs.

At some point the group of friends and the group of youths intersected; those interviewed said the attack appeared to be unprovoked.

"I saw people dancing and I figured they were just having a good time," said Riverwest resident Jessica Bublitz, 28.

Minutes later Bublitz saw a male friend hit in the temple and fall down. Her fiancé told her to run to safety. James Zajackowski, 28, said things suddenly turned chaotic.

"Within 30 seconds to a minute, bottles were flying and people started getting punched. I was in shock. I thought, 'Really? Is this really happening?' I was on the ground, people were trying to get into my pockets, I could feel their hands but I held on to my cellphone and my wallet," said Zajackowski, a census worker.

Emily Mowrer, 27, was not hurt but saw her friends beaten and punched and full beer bottles thrown at them. Her boyfriend was punched. She saw Perry lying with blood on her face, not moving. She called 911 on her cellphone.

"I saw some of my friends on the ground getting beat pretty severely. They got away with one of my friends' bikes. Some people had their wallets stolen," said Mowrer, who owns a house with her boyfriend in Riverwest. "It didn't seem like it was a mugging - it seemed like an attack. Like they weren't after anything - just violence." (read more)

Phoenix Dust Storm: Video of Doomsday Scenes in Arizona

Chicago teen on Life Support After Beach Brawl -- And once again, the culprits walk away freely

Friends and classmates of a Chicago-area high school senior were tight-lipped Tuesday evening as they walked into a service to pray for a teen left on life support after a brawl on an Indiana beach.

The 17-year-old, who NBC Chicago is not publicly naming, was caught up in a fight Monday on Long Beach, just northeast of Michigan City, Ind. There's word the clash may have erupted over an ethnic slur related to Independence Day and that the teen was trying to quell the violence.

"They taught their son to be a peacemaker," said neighbor and family friend Peg Sullivan outside St. Barnabas Church, at 10134 S. Longwood Ave., in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood.

She said the boy's parents were very involved in his life. Another neighbor said family members are all in Indiana.

The incident reportedly occurred at a section of beach known as "Stop 26," a location notorious for underage drinking, especially on Independence Day. (read more)

Will Fiscal Austerity Lead to a Depression?

In the video at the end of this post I speak to RT Television about fiscal austerity in the UK and the likelihood of fiscal austerity in the US.

A few thoughts here:

Barack Obama says:

Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.

Wrong on every single count. This is why the US is probably headed for a repeat of 1938. The President knows better, but he’s saying this stuff anyway. If you have the President spouting this nonsense, you know the Republicans will use it to force cuts that will weaken the economy.

The key here is that it does no good for the Republicans politically to compromise with President Obama. His policies are rightfully seen as failed. The right thing to do politically (but not morally) is to try and strike as much contrast to the President as you can, especially if it makes him look more failed. So that means favouring gridlock and pushing deficit reduction, looking for spending cuts and so on – even if it leads to a government shutdown stare-down as it did under Clinton. Is this the right thing to do? I don't think so, if only because it reduces the number of potential positive economic outcomes. But I am speaking now more from a forecasting perspective than one of advocacy.

-A few comments about Tuesday's election's impact on the economy, Nov 2010

The cuts are coming. The President has assured as much through his misguided rhetoric. We’ll just have to see whether the economy in the US is weak enough that they cause a double dip.

On the UK:

the US has resisted austerity while the UK has embraced it. In my mind, this is the best real-time economic experiment we can have on what does and doesn't happen as a result of government spending.

The UK is noticeably weaker than the US. They have failed. Expansionary fiscal consolidation is nonsense. It didn’t work in Ireland, Greece or Spain. And it won’t work in the US or the UK either. (read more)

Darbe Pitofsky, 83, chased and fined... for throwing away newspapers... into garbage can...

An elderly Upper East Side woman claims a sanitation agent chased her, threatened her with arrest and slapped her with a ticket for putting day-old newspapers in a city trash can.

Darbe Pitofsky, 83, said she was on her way for a cup of coffee around 6:30 a.m. on June 25 when she threw a brown bag filled with old papers in a city litter basket near her apartment on East 71st Street.

She said a sanitation worker quickly jumped out of his vehicle and demanded her information to write a summons.

“I froze,” Pitofsky told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “He just frightened the hell out of me, scared me to death, I was terrified.”

She said the worker demanded a form of identification and threatened to “put her away” if she didn’t comply.

Pitofsky said it took the worker 25 minutes to write the summons and when she complained that it would cost her $100, she said he threatened to make it $300.

A representative for the Sanitation Department said street baskets are for pedestrian use only but added Pitofsky can challenge the ticket if she thinks there has been a mistake. (read more)

Atlanta Public Schools held "cheating parties" to artifically boost student scores

Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes.

Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.

Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.

For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

In the report, the governor’s special investigators describe an enterprise where unethical — and potentially illegal — behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy, allowing district staff to reap praise and sometimes bonuses by misleading the children, parents and community they served.

The report accuses top district officials of wrongdoing that could lead to criminal charges in some cases. (read more)

More "medical" marijuana dispensaries in Denver now than there are Starbucks

The Mile High City is getting higher all the time.

There are now more medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks. Glossy guidebooks list nearly 300 locations where Colorado’s 125,000 residents who have been prescribed medical marijuana can get their “medicine.” Many offer a free joint to new customers, allowing them to sample exotic strains like Jah Kush, Golden Goat and Romulan Cotton Candy.

Local smokers even have a professional critic to help them navigate the gauntlet of bongs, pipes and vaporizers, or make that essential choice between Super Silver Haze and Purple Passion.

The critic’s pen name is William Breathes; he keeps his real identity secret to ensure he gets the same treatment as any other patient.

His weekly weed purchase is paid for by the Denver Westword, the popular alternative weekly that hired Breathes after its editors realized they were serving one of the most stoned readerships in America.

“It’s a fun new writing area,” Westword editor Patricia Calhoun told The Daily, “and if your publication prides itself on doing strong cultural coverage of art, theater and food, then why not do pot, too?”

Unlike his fellow smokers, Breathes does not follow his puffs with a Pauly Shore marathon or prolonged mediation over the contents of his pantry.

Instead, he powers up his desktop and crafts a detailed review of both the grass and the medical marijuana dispensary that sold it to him. (read more)

7.8 Magnitude Earthquake KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION- Tsunami ALERT ISSUED - 6th July 2011

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake has struck Kermadec Islands Region at a depth of Just 1 km ( - .0 .6miles), the quake hit at 07:03:15 UTC Wednesday 6th July 2011.
The epicenter was 163 km (101 miles) East of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands

No reports of Damage as yet.

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 001 PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS ISSUED AT 1912Z 06 JUL 2011  THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS...EXCEPT ALASKA...BRITISH COLUMBIA... WASHINGTON...OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.  ... A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT ...  A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR   KERMADEC IS / TONGA / NEW ZEALAND  FOR ALL OTHER AREAS COVERED BY THIS BULLETIN... IT IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY AT THIS TIME.

Andrew Castle built electric chair in garage in attempt to kill wife

A jilted husband built an electric chair in his garage in an attempt to kill his wife after she shocked him by asking for a divorce.

Andrew Castle, 61, was so furious at the crumbling of his 18 year marriage he planned to rig a metal armchair to the mains - and invited wife Margaret in ''for a chat.''

Castle asked unwitting Margaret to sit in the chair so he could knock her her out with a cosh and throw on the switch.

But Margaret, 61, got up out of the seat and the couple then got caught up in a violent struggle. Castle landed several blows on his wife's head with the rubber cosh but she escaped through a side door.

The fight then carried on outside their £110,000 seaside bungalow in Knott End-on-Sea in Poulton-Le-Fylde, Lancs, before a passer-by intervened and called police.

Margaret was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary to be treated for minor head injuries. Her husband was found in the back garden with self inflicted knife wounds to his wrists after grabbing a blade from the kitchen in a bid to commit suicide. (read more)

Iceland volcano Hekla could erupt soon: scientists

Scientists are monitoring unusual underground activity that could signal an eruption at the Hekla volcano in southern Iceland.

University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson said Wednesday that magma appears to be moving deep beneath the volcano.

He says that does not necessarily mean an eruption is imminent.

But scientists expect Hekla, one of Iceland's most active volcanoes, to erupt soon.

In the past few decades, Hekla has erupted about every 10 years, most recently in February 2000.

Iceland, in the remote North Atlantic, is a volcanic hotspot.

In April 2010, ash from an eruption of its Eyjafjallajokul volcano grounded flights across Europe for days, disrupting travel for 10 million people.

In May, the Grimsvotn volcano erupted, causing minor disruption to air travel. (source)

North Dakota: Feeding the hungry in a land of plenty

North Dakotans like to think they feed the world. But right now they are being encouraged to feed themselves.

Aided by its recent oil boom, North Dakota has weathered the recession better than many other states. But government officials say one in 11 of the population does not have enough to eat. Many of these people are children.

In response, the state is promoting the Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project, urging farmers and gardeners to grow and donate fruit and vegetables to food pantries and community programmes.

"Over 95% of our land is given over to fields, ranches, crops and animal production," says Karen Ehrens, a dietician and consultant to North Dakota's Department of Agriculture, which is helping to co-ordinate the project.

Susan Martin, director of a food pantry in Bismarck, North Dakota:

"Last summer we had a lady bring in fresh strawberries. And the residents were just delighted because they hadn't had fresh strawberries for years.

"And even here in our own state there were people not getting enough to eat, which was a great irony."

The scheme is in its second year. In 2011 it brought in 350,000lb (160,000kg) of fresh produce. This year, the target is 500,000lb. (read more)

Terrorists planning to blow up planes with bombs INSIDE their bodies, authorities warn - 6th June 2011

Security at airports across the world is to be beefed up because terrorists may be using bombs surgically implanted inside their bodies to try to blow up planes, officials have warned.

Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, trains, buses and shopping centres by hiding bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection.

But in a bid to foil airport scanners, the militants may have taken the most drastic measures, cutting themselves open and planting bombs within their bodies, leaked U.S. intelligence suggests.

Authorities have already been on high alert since the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in May, ramping up security at airports, government buildings and other facilities in case of a retaliatory strike.

And security will now be boosted further at airports after Homeland Security officials warned air carriers and other world leaders about the possibility of the ‘body bomber’ attacks on commercial flights.

Security services believe the move by terrorists to surgically implant explosives was prompted by the introduction at airports of body scanners, designed to catch them before they board flights.

It is thought male bombers would have the explosive secreted near their appendix or in their buttocks, while females would have the material placed inside their breasts, in the same way implants are inserted. Read More

NO JUSTICE FOR CAYLEE as 'Team htCasey' gives America the finger: How defense celebrated win with champagne, dances and hugs all round - 6th July 2011

Casey Anthony's defence team have been branded insensitive and loutish after they were spotted celebrating their court victory with a lavish champagne party.

In an unapolagetic display many have slammed as inappropriate considering the serious nature of their case, Jose Baez and his team were seen downing drinks as they watched reaction to their client being found not guilty of brutally murdering her two-year-old child, Caylee.

Stunned onlookers gasped and shouted abuse to protest the scenes, while high-profile commentators were clearly outraged, with one comparing the scenes to the work of the devil.

The sensational acquittal of Casey Anthony after a dramatic six-week trial has stunned America, with angry spectators comparing the trial’s outcome to the infamous verdict in the OJ Simpson case.

Anthony, 25, is poised to walk free tomorrow morning and sell her story for millions, after the jury failed to find her guilty of the murder of her daughter Caylee. Read More


Reader Contribution

Anonymous said...
READ THIS AND GO TO WEBPAGE!!!!! Caylee's Law, contact your Senator and Representative: there should be a new federal law created called Caylee's Law that will make it a federal offense for a parent or guardian to not notify law enforcement of a child going missing in a timely manner. Let's keep another case like Caylee Anthony out of the courts. SIGN PETITION HERE>>>>>>

High-hazard radioactive waste found off Dounreay, Scotland - 6th July 2011

High-hazard fragments of reactor fuel have been discovered on the seabed off Dounreay.

The latest trawl of the contaminated seabed recovered 38 high-hazard fragments of reactor fuel.

Each has over one million bequerels of radioactivity and has the potential to cause significant harm to human health. They have been detected and retrieved by a remote control robot launched from a barge anchored just off the shoreline.

Contractor Land and Marine left at the weekend after completing a nine-week operation.

In all, 351 particles of reprocessed fuel were found and brought back to the atom plant for analysis.

It is the high-hazard ones which plant contractors DSRL is targeting in its multi-million pound drive to help clean up the local coastline.

The pollution stems from historic sloppy waste practices at the former fast reactor site.

A 22-strong team worked round-the-clock, scanning an area the size of 36 international football pitches. The robot - the size of a small bulldozer - worked at depths of up to 30 metres.

Last year’s survey unearthed over 400 particles, including 74 in the high-hazard category. The latest trawl brings the total of seabed particles recovered to 1884.

A further 481 have been recovered, nearly all from the Dounreay foreshore and Sandside each, near Reay. A two-mile fishing exclusion zone has been in place since the seabed pollution was detected in 1997. Source

5.9 Magnitude Earthquake near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan - 6th July 2011

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 18.2 km (11 miles), the quake hit at 15:15:01 UTC Wednesday 6th July 2011.
The epicenter was 103 km (64 miles) South East Iwaki, Honshu, Japan

No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. No reports of Damage as yet.

USGS Has it registered as a 5.6 Magnitude Earthquake but The Japanese Seismic Monitors Registered it as a 5.9M See here >>>

Cancer Society spends more on fundraising than research -- of course they do, Cancer has become big business

An Ontario cancer researcher is concerned that the Canadian Cancer Society has proportionally shifted funding away from research and is spending more of its dollars on fundraising and administration costs.

"Most scientists don’t realize that the budget has been going up and up, and donations have been growing, but the budget for research has been shrinking," said Brian Lichty, a researcher at McMaster University who is looking into treating cancer with viruses that kill tumours. "So they are surprised and disappointed when they find out that this is the case, and the trend."

CBC's Marketplace analyzed the Canadian Cancer Society’s financial reports dating back a dozen years. It discovered that each year, as the society raised more dollars, the proportion of money it spent on research dropped dramatically — from 40.3 per cent in 2000 to under 22 per cent in 2011.

The amount of money spent on research has increased slightly over the years, but as a portion of the Cancer Society’s growing budget, it's almost been cut in half.

Lichty and some of his colleagues set up an information booth at this year's annual Relay for Life fundraiser in Ancaster, Ont., to raise awareness about the drop in funding for research at the Canadian Cancer Society. Over the years, his research team has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the society, but he’s not afraid to criticize it now.

"Cancer researchers are spending a lot of their time, or most of their time, trying to figure out how to get the money to fund their research, rather than actually doing research," Lichty said.

"And it has become a much bigger portion of what our day-to-day activities amount to." (read more)

Syrian siege may be crime against humanity, Amnesty says

Syrian security forces may have committed crimes against humanity during a deadly siege in May, Amnesty International said Wednesday, citing witness accounts of deaths in custody, torture and arbitrary detention.

The London-based rights group called on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The security sweep in Talkalakh, which lasted less than a week, contributed to a growing sense of desperation over the government's brutal crackdown on protests as the nationwide uprising against President Bashar Assad's authoritarian regime gained traction.

At the time of the operation, The Associated Press interviewed residents who told of a catastrophic scene in the town of about 70,000, including sectarian killings, gunmen carrying out execution-style slayings and the stench of decomposing bodies in the streets.

Some activists have said the death toll from the May siege was as high as 36 people.

"The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in [Talkalakh] paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.

The report issued Wednesday said the attacks "appear to be part of a widespread, as well as systematic, attack against the civilian population," which would constitute crimes against humanity.

Talkalakh is just across the border from Lebanon. (read more)

Nova Scotia beached whale remains a mystery

A necropsy at Charlottetown's Atlantic Veterinary College has been unable to determine why a pygmy sperm whale beached itself and died in Nova Scotia last week.

The whale was found high and dry on a beach in Shelburne Harbour, on Nova Scotia's south shore. Pygmy sperms are amongst the smallest of whales, usually about three metres long fully grown. This was a particularly large one — almost four metres long and weighing more than 200 kilograms.

With the help of members of the Nova Scotia Marine Animal Response Society, fisheries officers rolled the whale back into the water half-a-dozen times. Eric MacIntosh of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said he was hopeful as he watched the whale gain strength swimming across the harbour.

"In this case we were kind of thinking we had done the right thing and got the whale rescued," said MacIntosh.

"The next day it was dead. It was disappointing." (read more)

Mauritanian military attacks al Qaeda group, "kills 20"

The Mauritanian army responded to an attack Tuesday by a terrorist group aligned with al Qaeda by mounting a counterattack in northeastern Mauritania that killed about 20 members of the group and captured nine others, military sources told CNN.

The incident occurred Tuesday afternoon, when 25 vehicles carrying fighters belonging to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb attacked the Mauritanian military base in the city of Bassiknou along the border with Mali, the sources said.

The clash lasted 45 minutes, area residents said.

Afterward, the Mauritanian army pursued AQIM fighters into Mali, the sources said.

"We heard violent explosions and gunfire near the military base here in Bassiknou; a state of panic was prevailing," a witness told CNN. "It seems that al Qaeda decided to retaliate after losing many of its fighters in the clashes of Wagadou forest ... when Mauritanian troops destroyed their camps."

He was apparently referring to an incident that occurred last month, when Mauritanian special forces joined troops from Mali in launching an offensive targeting what they called an al Qaeda base camp.

According to Mauritanian army officials, 15 al Qaeda militants were killed in the offensive. Two Mauritanian soldiers were killed and another five were wounded. (read more)

Tests in Leicester show silver helps kill bacteria... something Naturopaths have already known for years

Products containing a silver antimicrobial agent helped kill bacteria at a Leicester nursing home, studies have shown.

A series of tests at Arbour residential home compared the amount of bacteria found in a treated room compared to a room that was not treated.

Microbiologists said they found an average reduction of 94% in bacteria in five months of testing.

Hospitals already use silver for wound dressings and in operating theatres.

The testing was carried out on light fixtures, call systems, curtains, furniture, sinks and beds in the two rooms.

Leicester City Council has trialled the use of the new technology with the cooperation of BioCote Ltd, which produces the silver coating, in a bid to reduce MRSA, E.coli and salmonella.

"Working alongside Leicester City Council, tests have shown that antimicrobial treated products are effective when used as part of infection prevention and control strategies, complementing cleaning to dramatically reduce the risks of cross-contamination," BioCote microbiologist Richard Hastings said.

Silver is already used in some household products because it is highly toxic to a wide range of bacteria. (read more)

New solution can help 'permanently get rid of germs'

A new anti-microbial treatment that can make clothing - including smelly socks - permanently germ-free has been developed by US scientists.

The spray-on solution can be applied to existing garments, according to the team from the University of Georgia.

It is designed to offer low cost protection for healthcare facilities, such as hospitals.

Chemical impregnated materials already exist, but have to be added during the manufacturing process.

The new solution can be applied to natural and synthetic textiles including clothes, home carpets, shoes and even plastics.

In a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces, Dr Jason Locklin and his colleagues state that the treatment kills a wide range of dangerous pathogens, including staph, strep, E. coli, pseudomonas and acetinobacter.

Many of these can cause disease, break down fabrics, create stains and produce odours.

When the scientists tested the product, they found that a single application was enough to stop all further bacterial growth at up to 37 degrees Celsius.

And the solution did not degrade even after multiple hot water laundry cycles. (read more)

Next for Casey Anthony: Freedom, book deals, analysts say



Don't be surprised if Casey Anthony walks out of jail a free woman after her sentencing Thursday, legal experts say.

And, they add, there is nothing stopping her from cashing in on book or movie deals -- as her acquittal on serious charges now means she is free to profit off her story.

With Tuesday's not guilty verdict on murder charges behind her, Anthony -- and the thousands riveted by every twist in the case -- now turn their attention to Thursday when the 25-year-old will learn her fate.

A jury on Tuesday found Anthony not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter in the 2008 death of her daughter Caylee.

But she still faces sentencing on four counts of lying to police regarding a missing person case.

Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail, for which Judge Belvin Perry has the option of sentencing her consecutively or concurrently.

Many legal experts believe Anthony will be freed on time-served because she has already been jailed for about three years. (read more)

Ocean currents speed melting of Antarctic ice

Stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, speeding the melting of the glacier as a whole, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed more warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say – a process that feeds back into the ongoing rise in global sea levels. The glacier is currently sliding into the sea at a clip of four kilometers (2.5 miles) a year, while its ice shelf is melting at about 80 cubic kilometers a year – 50% faster than it was in the early 1990s – the paper estimates.

"More warm water from the deep ocean is entering the cavity beneath the ice shelf, and it is warmest where the ice is thickest," said study's lead author, Stan Jacobs, an oceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

In 2009, Jacobs and an international team of scientists sailed to the Amundsen Sea aboard the icebreaking ship Nathaniel B. Palmer to study the region's thinning ice shelves – floating tongues of ice where landbound glaciers meet the sea. One goal was to study oceanic changes near the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf, which they had visited in an earlier expedition, in 1994. The researchers found that in 15 years, melting beneath the ice shelf had risen by about 50%. Although regional ocean temperatures had also warmed slightly, by 0.2 °C or so, that was not enough to account for the jump.

The local geology offered one explanation. On the same cruise, a group led by Adrian Jenkins, a researcher at British Antarctic Survey and study co-author, sent a robot submarine beneath the ice shelf, revealing an underwater ridge. The researchers surmised that the ridge had once slowed the glacier like a giant retaining wall. When the receding glacier detached from the ridge, sometime before the 1970s, the warm deep water gained access to deeper parts of the glacier. Over time, the inner cavity grew, more warm deep water flowed in, more melt water flowed out, and the ice thinned. With less friction between the ice shelf and seafloor, the landbound glacier behind it accelerated its slide into the sea. Other glaciers in the Amundsen region have also thinned or widened, including Thwaites Glacier and the much larger Getz Ice Shelf. (read more)

New Cold War: South China Sea - Asia's most dangerous waters

The South China Sea -- a 1.3 million square mile patch of the Pacific Ocean bracketed by China and several Southeast Asian nations -- is dotted with hundreds of largely uninhabited islands and coral atolls that are home to some of the world's most diverse marine life.

Also under its waves lie potentially huge reserves of natural gas and oil. A Chinese estimate suggests as much as 213 billion barrels of oil lie untapped in the South China Sea which, if true, would make it the largest oil reserve outside Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That prospect has cross-stitched the sea with competing claims from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. A recent spate of incidents between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in the sea has fueled a growing rift between the communist neighbors, creating strange bedfellows as Hanoi embraces closer military ties with historic foes in Washington.

The South China Sea has now become a petri dish for swirling changes churning the geopolitical landscape, analysts say, as the rising power of China butts up against the established economic and military might of the U.S.

"How these disputes are resolved will tell us how politics in Asia is going to play out in the next 20 to 30 years," said Mark Valencia, a fellow at the National Asia Research Program and expert on the South China Sea dispute. "This will be the blueprint." (read more)

Indians pay surgeons to turn girls into boys

Indian doctors have been accused of conducting sex change operations on young girls whose parents want son to improve the family's income prospects.

Madhya Pradesh state government is investigating claims that up to 300 girls were surgically turned into boys in one city after their parents paid about £2,000 each for the operations.

Women's and children's rights campaigners denounced the practice as a "social madness" that made a "mockery of women in India".

India's gender balance has already been tilted in favour of boys by female foeticide – sex selection abortions - by families who fear the high marriage costs and dowries they may have to pay. There are now seven million more boys than girls aged under six in the country.

Campaigners said the use of surgery meant that girls were no longer safe even after birth.

The row emerged after newspapers disclosed children from throughout India were being operated on by doctors in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. (read more)

Five biggest threats to the US economy

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. Here are the five biggest threats faced by the world's largest economy:

The petrol station is as reliable a place as any to take America's economic pulse. The sharp rise in gasoline prices in the first few months of the year knocked the confidence of consumers, who still account for about 70pc of the country's gross domestic product.

That squeeze has been all the more painful because the majority of Americans have not enjoyed pay rises since the crisis. Indeed, inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings fell 1.6pc in the past 12 months. Like Sir Mervyn King at the Bank of England, Fed chief Ben Bernanke insists that inflation will prove short-lived.

The good news for the bulls is that gasoline prices have dropped by almost 10pc since reaching a three-year high at the start of May. While the news is improving, the Fed and The White House know their control over such a key variable is very limited. (read more)

Warming oceans cause largest movement of marine species in two million years

Swarms of venomous jelly fish and poisonous algae are migrating into British waters due to changes in the ocean temperatures, a major new study has revealed.

Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists.

In the Arctic, melting sea ice during recent summers has allowed a passage to open up from the Pacific ocean into the North Atlantic, allowing plankton, fish and even whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific.

The discovery has sparked fears delicate marine food webs could be unbalanced and lead to some species becoming extinct as competition for food between the native species and the invaders stretches resources.

Rising ocean temperatures are also allowing species normally found in warmer sub-tropical regions to into the northeast Atlantic.

A venomous warm-water species Pelagia noctiluca has forced the closure of beaches and is now becoming increasingly common in the waters around Britain. (read more)

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake Near the North Coast of PAPUA, INDONESIA - 6th July 2011


A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck near the North Coast of Papua, Indonesia at a depth of 29 km (18 miles), the quake hit at 08:00:04 UTC Wednesday 6th July 2011.
The epicenter was 249 km (154 miles) WNW of Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia

No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. No reports of Damage as yet.

Unusual Activity Around Mount Hekla Volcano, Iceland - 5th July 2011

Meters around Mt. Hekla in southern Iceland have shown “unusual activity” in recent days. The Public Safety Commission has been alerted.

According to RÚV Public Radio there is no reason for action as of now.

The movements have been recorded in five very precise meters that have been placed around Mt. Hekla in recent years. Professor Páll Einarsson says that these movements are seen in all five meters and even though the evidence is not conclusive they are thought to show magma movement under the volcano.

It has now been eleven years since Mt. Hekla, Iceland’s most famous volcano, erupted. In the years since then the mountain is said to have slowly expanded because of magma buildup.

The last eruption in Hekla came on February 26 2000 and then earthquakes started an hour and a half before the outbreak of the magma.

As of now there is no cause for any activity on behalf of the Public safety commission. Source

The council that sacked all 6,500 staff... and will only re-hire them if they agree to take a pay cut - 6th July 2011

A council is firing all 6,500 of its employees, with a promise to re-hire them if they agree to a pay cut.

Dismissal letters have been sent by Shropshire Council informing all staff they will lose their jobs on September 30.

The letters go on to say employees can return the following day – but only if they consent to a 5.4 per cent salary reduction and changes to sickness benefits and holiday entitlement.

The authority said the action, which is legal, would amount to £7million of the £76million of savings it needs to find, while safeguarding services.

It also said the move would stave off the need for 400 redundancies.

Staff who do not accept the new terms will be dismissed without compensation, the letter states. Read More

Shootings, stabbings, looting: Wave of violence across the country during July 4 celebrations - 5th July 2011

It should have been a time for celebration when people across the nation were proud to say they were American.

But instead the July 4 weekend was plagued by spates of violence all over the country.

Six men died and 28 others were wounded in a number of shootings and stabbings across Chicago between Friday afternoon and this morning.

Police have been unable to make any arrests connected with the shootings and other spates of violence over the holiday weekend.

Despite the deluge of shootings and other violent crimes, Mayor Rahm Emanuel congratulated the city's public safety agencies for making fewer arrests at the city's festivals. Read More


Nathaniel Fujita 'cut his ex-girlfriend's throat and strangled her with a bungee cord' - 5th July 2011

An 18-year-old student cut his ex-girlfriend's throat, strangled her with a bungee chord and dumped her body in a marsh, according to authorities.

Nathaniel Fujita, 18, from Wayland, Massachusetts, has been charged with the murder of Lauren Astley who he recently broke up with after a three-year relationship.

In what prosecutors believe was an act of teenage domestic violence, Fujita - who is the son of a Berklee College of Music professor - was arrested after a search of his family's home found blood in the garage and his clothing - which was stained with blood - stashed in the attic.

He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said: 'We do believe this to be a case of teen dating violence. Lauren broke off the relationship…It’s a classic fatal paradigm that we see around teen dating relationships.'

According to Boston.com, Fujita remained on friendly terms with Lauren in the weeks after the relationship ended and they say it is not clear what would have prompted him to attack her.

A court heard today that Lauren had a 'gaping incision to her neck and her body was bound with at least one bungee cord, which was around her neck'.

Middlesex Assistant District McGovern said that through interviews, phone records and an examination of the Fujita family home, investigators pieced together a strong case linking the 18-year-old to the slaying.

Fujita admitted that his ex-girlfriend came to his home but insisted she was alive when she left. Read More

China building an army of unmanned military drones 'to rival the U.S.' - 5th July 2011

America's success with unmanned military drones has sparked a 'global rush' for weaponised and surveillance aircrafts, according to a new report.

Over 50 countries have purchased surveillance drones or started their own development programmes to step up military capacity in recent years.

And experts say China, having only unveiled its first drone at an air show five years ago, is on the fast track to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that rival U.S. technology.

Experts told the Washington Post America's 'cheap weapons, reconnaissance abilities, and ease of use, could make drones the standard for many application.'

The recent spike, they say, is 'because no nation is exporting weaponised drones beyond a handful of sales between the United States and its closest allies.' And China is seeking to take a piece of the market.

Twenty five UAVs were unveiled the Zhuhai air show in southern China last November, designed and produced by China's ASN Technology Group, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC), and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC). Read More


Sea creatures shut down ANOTHER power station amid claims population surge is due to climate change - 6th July 2011

Another power station was shut down by jellyfish today amid claims that climate change is causing a population surge among the species.

A huge swarm clogged up the Orot Rabin plant in Hadera, Israel, a day after the Torness nuclear facility in Scotland was closed in a similar incident.

Hadera ran into trouble when jellyfish blocked its seawater supply, which it uses for cooling purposes, forcing officials to use diggers to remove them.

The creatures also wreaked havoc in the U.S. during the country’s big holiday weekend.

Almost 2,000 beach-goers were stung as they celebrated Independence Day weekend in the surf at Volusia County, Florida.

Beach Patrol spokeswoman Captain Tamara Marris reported the staggering statistics but stressed that no victims were seriously injured.

Amid soaring temperatures in the sunshine state, Jellyfish targeted sunseekers along a 20-mile stretch from Ormond Beach to New Smyrna Beach.

The influx was thought to be down to onshore winds bringing more jellyfish into contact with bathers. Read More

'The jury failed - just like the OJ case': State prosecutor attacks Casey Anthony verdict comparing it to Simpson trial - 6th July 2011

A former state prosecutor has claimed the jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial 'failed' to reach the right decision - just like in the infamous OJ Simpson case.

Former Michigan Prosecutor Carl Marlinga said tonight the verdict was: 'Like the O.J. Simpson case - a clear failure of the jury system.'

'Just because we say the jury system we have is the best, that doesn’t make it perfect.'

Casey Anthony smiled with delight as she was today sensationally cleared of the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee in one of the most controversial verdicts in recent history.

Crowds gasped outside the courtroom as the 25-year-old mother was found not guilty of drugging her young daughter, suffocating her and dumping her body in overgrown woodland after a compelling six-week trial, which has seen a family torn apart by accusations of rape and incest.

Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Mr Marlinga said he was 'shocked.....stunned and a little bit sickened,' by the jury's decision.

'I’ve probably never seen a better circumstantial case.

'Juries have to find guilt beyond a reason doubt.That doesn’t mean beyond all doubt.

He added the prosecution overplayed Casey Anthony as a party girl.

He said: 'A guilty person would have kept a low-profile, would have immediately reported the supposed kidnapping and immediately disposed of the body.

'They tried to pretend that the weakness was a strength. Sometimes the prosecution tries to whistle past the graveyard.

'They could have painted a more coherent case that the girl died as the result of child abuse.'

Stunned Anthony hugged defence attorney Jose Baez when the jury's verdict was read after only ten hours of deliberation. As the jury left, a relieved Anthony, who had been facing the death penalty burst into tears of delight.

In a verdict that shocked America, the jury accepted Casey's account of events that Caylee drowned in the Anthony's family pool on June 16. Read More

Adders kill two pet dogs: Vets blame warmer weather for surge in deadly snake attacks - 6th July 2011

Pet lovers were warned yesterday to be on the lookout for snakes after two dogs died from adder bites.

Vets have reported an increase in attacks, saying the hot weather has encouraged adders out into the open.

One of the canine victims, a King Charles spaniel called Daisy-May, was put down after being bitten in a garden in Canvey Island, Essex.

‘It was really nasty,’ said Carol Toplis, 57, who was looking after the dog for its owners.

‘The venom attacked her organs. She became very sleepy, it was as though she’d had major surgery.’

Vets decided to put the ten-year-old dog down when its kidneys started to fail last week.

Mrs Toplis added: ‘I didn’t realise adders would be around in residential areas. Daisy-May was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

Another dog, border collie cross Shadow, was attacked last month by an adder while she was being walked in a nature reserve near Maldon. Read More

Fined £500k for not flying EU flag: Brussels penalises UK museums, firms and councils - 6th July 2011

Fines for failing to display the EU flag and logos should be scrapped, a government minister said yesterday.

Brussels has imposed financial penalties of almost £500,000 on councils, museums, universities, travel firms and business groups.

Each had breached rules that require display of EU symbols in return for grant money – a system Eric Pickles said was unfair.

‘It defies common sense that the EU can hammer public bodies with huge fines for merely not flying their flag,’ said the communities and local government secretary.

‘This is a prime example of bureaucracy taking over, with organisations being hit for the most minor breaches for over-complicated rules.

‘The end result is British taxpayers’ money being wasted on design guidelines, form-filling and millions of pounds of red tape. These fines should be axed.’

The fines relate to money given to the UK by the European Regional Development Fund since 2000. The fund has contributed to dozens of schemes including the Eden Project, in Cornwall, the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead and the redevelopment of Liverpool’s King’s Dock. Read More