Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Australia flash floods threaten Brisbane - 11th Jan 2011

Australia's third largest city is now threatened by the flooding which has already brought devastation to large parts of the north east of the country.

Evacuations are underway in Brisbane - torrential rain may cause rivers to rise by 16m.

The latest threat follows a flash flood which hit a town just to the west - at least eight people were killed in Toowoomba by a wall of water.

More than a month of rain in the state of Queensland, a resource-rich region, is likely to hurt the Australian economy.

The BBC's Nick Bryant reports from Sydney. (watch news video from source here)

Reader contributed.

Countdown to US Financial Collapse: Just Weeks Away From Default



Reader contribution.

Mayor Claims Quartzsite, Arizona Under Martial Law After State Of Emergency Declared During Secret Meeting

Quartzsite, Arizona, the town now infamous for arresting a citizen for speaking during a public city council meeting, has apparently declared martial law.

This, according to Quartzsite Mayor Ed Foster, happened after a secret meeting was held during which the city council voted in favor of declaring a state of emergency.

Jennifer Jones, the woman who has gone on a full scale crusade against corruption in the small town of 3,600, posted an urgent update on here blog The Desert Freedom Press.

“At about noon today, the town council, at the request of the police chief, declared an official state of emergency. Sgt Xavier Frausto was dressed in tactical gear when he and the police chief demanded the mayor get in their car,” wrote Jones.

That’s right, according to this report, police in tactical gear ordered a sitting mayor to a potentially illegal secret meeting.

The Mayor instead drove himself to the meeting which he himself later called illegal.

Jennifer Jones is Arrested at City Council Meeting

World Net Daily spoke with Jennifer Jones who now fears for her safety in the small town 2 hours outside of Phoenix.

“They’ve got their tactical gear on, the police chief and his sergeant,” Jones said. “I don’t know what that means. I need to get the word out in case they come here. I am very concerned for my safety.”

An Arizona Republic report confirms that Quartzite Mayor Ed Foster has indeed called the situation in his town a form of martial law but also quotes the Vice Mayor as saying that while she condemns the meeting, martial law is not necessary the right word to use. (read more)

Wife Calls Cops On Man Preparing For Martial Law In Massachusetts



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Darren T. Ring: Handcuffed, repeatedly kicked, beaten, and tasered by police while in handcuffs -- and the police brutality is all caught on tape

A Tennessee man sustained a punctured lung and cracked ribs following a brutal beating from a team of police deputies - while he was already in handcuffs.

After being stripped naked, the man was kicked and shocked repeatedly with a Taser gun. The January 23 incident was caught on tape by video equipment fixed to the vehicle of a Humphreys county sheriff deputy.

The victim, Darren T. Ring, 34, of New Johnsonville is requesting to be released from jail where he has been held in lieu of bond for more than five months.

Humpreys County deputies descended on Ring after responding to a report of gunshots in Waverly.

Ring was not arrested for firing the shots but was drunk when the deputies arrived, reports show.

In a grand jury indictment, Ring was charged with three counts of assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, and a parole violation.

However, the video footage shows deputies repeatedly telling Ring to stop resisting arrest while he is incapacitated laying facedown in the snow with at least two deputies on top of him. (read more)

Reader contributed.

An areal view of how they are flooding the US Midwest



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"Laughter Truly is the Best Medicine" -- Especially when it comes to government promises



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Moody's cuts Irish debt rating to junk status -- Europe's credit ratings are being ripped apart

Ratings agency Moody's has cut the Republic of Ireland's debt rating to junk status.

Moody's said its decision was based on the "growing possibility" that Ireland would need a second bail-out before it can return to capital markets.

The current European Union and International Monetary Fund support programme is due to end in late 2013.

It comes at a time when markets fear the debt crisis in the eurozone could spread to Italy and Spain.

Ireland, Greece and Portugal have all been downgraded by ratings agencies several times in recent months.

Last week, the European Commission raised the issue of the "appropriateness of behaviour" of agencies, and Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis said the agencies had exacerbated an already difficult situation.

In its latest downgrade, Moody's cut Ireland's ratings by one notch to Ba1 from Baa3.

And the agency warned that further downgrades were possible if the Irish government failed to meet its deficit reduction targets, or if Greece were to default, thereby causing further market disruption. (source)

Reader contributed.

At least 5 killed in Yemen, tribal leaders say as civil strife continues

Five Yemeni civilians were killed and 18 others were injured Tuesday in government air raids just outside Sanaa, tribal leaders and eyewitnesses said.

But two government officials said those killed were tribesmen who were taking up arms against the government.

The fighting, which occurred in Arhab province just north of Sanaa, is the latest to erupt in Yemen, which has been wracked by insurgent activity and anti-government ferment.

One of the government sources, a security official in Arhab, said that clashes erupted when the government ordered the tribes to hand over wanted criminals in the district. When the tribes refused, the government responded with force.

"The tribes are harboring criminals who stand behind the attacks on soldiers," the official said.

A Defense Ministry official said slain militants "put law in their own hands and looted governmental property. They were not civilians."

Eyewitnesses said that guards raided most of the villages in the district, damaging many homes, and residents estimate that more than 240 homes have been destroyed over the last month.

"We were sleeping in our houses when governmental rockets hit our house. We did not raise arms against the government but are still being attacked," said Abdul Kareem Mubarak, a resident in Barman village.

Republican guards have been clashing with tribesmen in Arhab over the last month.

The government also claims that the tribes attempted to seize the military compounds in the district. (read more)

Libya's Gaddafi prepared to leave, says Alain Juppe

France says it has had contacts with envoys from Muammar Gaddafi who say the Libyan leader is "prepared to leave".

"The Libyan regime is sending messengers everywhere, to Turkey, to New York, to Paris" offering to discuss Col Gaddafi's exit, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told French radio.

But he added that such contacts did not constitute negotiations.

France played a key role in launching Nato-led strikes in Libya, under a UN-mandated mission to protect civilians.

Mr Juppe told France Info radio on Tuesday: "We are receiving emissaries who are telling us: 'Gaddafi is prepared to leave. Let's discuss it.'

"There are contacts but it's not a negotiation proper at this stage."

Mr Juppe did not say who the emissaries were.

French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said: "These are emissaries who say they are coming in the name of Gaddafi. What is important is that we send them the same message and stay in close contact with our allies on this." (read more)

Reader contributed.

"Europe's Real Problems": Gordon Brown

When the history of the 21st century is written people will ask why it was that Europe was found wanting during its most intractable economic crisis. They will ask why Europe slept as an undercapitalized banking system floundered, unemployment remained unacceptably high, and the Continent’s growth and competitiveness plummeted.

Worse still, if a reconstruction plan does not come soon, Europe’s leaders will be charged with “the decline of the West” and then face accusations for being, in the words of Winston Churchill about the 1930s, “resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity and all-powerful for impotence.”

There is, of course, no shortage of meetings. Hardly a day goes by without a summit of European leaders discussing the latest crisis facing a member state. But each time they talk as though they are dealing with a calamity confined to the nation in the headlines — the Greek problem, or the Irish problem, sometimes the Portuguese or the Spanish problem — without an agreement on the true nature of the emergency that is pan-European.

By wrongly analyzing Europe’s woes, they end up implementing the wrong remedies, too. Because Europe’s deficit crisis, while a real concern, is just one of its concerns. There are in fact three deep-rooted problems, each entwined with the others, and each reaching systemically into every corner of the Continent. Alongside the deficit problem is also a banking problem — not confined to a handful of banks or countries — and a chronic growth problem. (read more)

China’s ‘eye-in-the-sky’ nears par with US

China’s rapidly expanding satellite programme could alter power dynamics in Asia and reduce the US military’s scope for operations in the region, according to new research.

Chinese reconnaissance satellites can now monitor targets for up to six hours a day, the World Security Institute, a Washington think-tank, has concluded in a new report. The People’s Liberation Army, which could only manage three hours of daily coverage just 18 months ago, is now nearly on a par with the US military in its ability to monitor fixed targets, according to the findings.

“Starting from almost no live surveillance capability 10 years ago, today the PLA has likely equalled the US’s ability to observe targets from space for some real-time operations,” two of the institute’s China researchers, Eric Hagt and Matthew Durnin, write in the Journal of Strategic Studies.

China’s rapidly growing military might has unnerved its neighbours, many of whom are US allies, while a series of disputes this year with Vietnam and the Philippines have added to the concerns. (read more)

Russia divers find dozens of dead children in ship

Divers searching a tourist boat that sank on Sunday in Russia's Volga river discovered the bodies of some 50 people, many of them children, an Emergencies Ministry official said on Tuesday.

The news will deepen anguish over a disaster that tore families apart, killing up to 129 people and underscoring concerns about the negligence, corner-cutting and corruption that troubles Russia.

The official death toll rose to 83, including 16 children.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who may seek re-election next March, vowed harsh punishment for violators of transport safety rules and said tougher legislation was needed.

The Bulgaria, an ageing, overcrowded riverboat on a weekend Volga cruise, sank in minutes 3 km (2 miles) from shore after listing onto its right side in a thunderstorm. Authorities said 79 of the 208 people on board were rescued.

One of the survivors said the boat, built in 1955, swiftly turned into a "metal coffin" after it got into difficulty.

Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Smirnykh said divers working their way through the wreck saw the bodies when they reached a recreation area, where survivors had said some 30 children gathered shortly before the boat went down.

"By their visual estimates, the bodies of about 50 people are there. Most of them are children," Smirnykh told Reuters. (read more)

Europe considers Greek default as leaders meet

European Union leaders are poised to hold an emergency summit after finance ministers acknowledged for the first time that some form of Greek default may be needed to cut Athens' debts and stop contagion to Italy and Spain.

"There will be an extra summit this Friday," a senior euro zone diplomat told Reuters, suggesting policymakers have been seized with a new sense of urgency after markets started targeting Italian assets.

A French government source said Paris was in favor, although the timing was not yet fixed, and in Spain, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said he had not ruled out a meeting.

Earlier, Germany's finance minister had said a second Greek rescue package could wait until September after euro zone finance ministers effectively accepted that private creditor involvement meant a selective debt default was likely, despite the European Central Bank's vehement opposition to such a move.

"We have managed to break the knot, a very difficult knot," Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager told reporters.

Asked about whether a selective default was now likely, he replied: "It is not excluded any more. Obviously the European Central Bank has stated in the statement that it did stick to its position, but the 17 (euro zone) ministers did not exclude it any more so we have more options, a broader scope."

Participants said a buy-back of Greek debt on the secondary market and a German proposal for a bond swap for longer maturities were under consideration after a complex French plan to roll over bonds made no headway. (read more)

Geithner wants debt limit deal within 48 hours: US

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday said that time is running out for a deal to raise the debt limit, and wants a broad agreement with Congress in place by the end of next week at the latest.

Speaking at a finance symposium at the Treasury Department, Geithner vowed that Congress would raise the debt limit ahead of an August 2 deadline when the government will risk default, adding, "Failure is not an option."

He said President Barack Obama will keep meeting with congressional leaders until a deal to raise the debt limit and slash future deficits is reached.

"We know we don't have a lot of time," Geithner said. "I think the leaders understand we don't have a lot of time, and we want to wrap up the broad outlines of an agreement by the end of this week -- certainly by the end of next week -- so that we have time to legislate it and put it in place."

He told the Women in Finance Investment -- a group whose members manage some $700 billion in U.S. savings assets -- that it was important for investors to know that "the U.S. will act in advance of the limit that we face when our borrowing runs out on August 2."

Thus far, Treasury yields have reflected little concern about default among investors and have benefited from safe-haven capital flows amid continuing financial turmoil in Europe and weak economic data. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield was well below 3 percent, dipping to its lowest point since early December early on Tuesday.

That could change as the August 2 deadline approaches if no deal is in place. (read more)

Debt-ceiling talks hit brick wall as President Obama, GOP trade jabs

President Obama and GOP leaders traded accusations Monday over who was to blame as talks to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling stalled over the size and scope of the package.

Both sides pointed to the other as inflexible as the odds increased that Congress will not raise the nation’s borrowing limit by an Aug. 2 deadline.

Obama said Republicans were refusing to allow any tax hikes in the deal, including provisions aimed at the wealthiest taxpayers, while Republicans said the White House’s insistence on tax increases and resistance to meaningful Social Security and Medicare reforms was the problem.

Obama said during a late morning press conference that he had “bent over backwards” to meet the GOP halfway. “I do not see a path to a deal if they do not budge. Period,” Obama said.

Less than two hours later, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) retorted: “It takes two to tango.

“I understand that this is going to take sacrifice, and is going to take political capital on both sides,” Boehner said. “I’m certainly willing to take my fair share of it, but if we’re going to take political capital, then let’s stand up and do the big thing, the right thing for the country.”

Obama reiterated that he will not sign a short-term deal into law, citing election-year politics: “It’s not going to get easier. It’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now — pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas.” (read more)

Drought Spreads Pain From Florida to Arizona: 14 states now affected

The heat and the drought are so bad in this southwest corner of Georgia that hogs can barely eat. Corn, a lucrative crop with a notorious thirst, is burning up in fields. Cotton plants are too weak to punch through soil so dry it might as well be pavement.

Farmers with the money and equipment to irrigate are running wells dry in the unseasonably early and particularly brutal national drought that some say could rival the Dust Bowl days.

“It’s horrible so far,” said Mike Newberry, a Georgia farmer who is trying grow cotton, corn and peanuts on a thousand acres. “There is no description for what we’ve been through since we started planting corn in March.”

The pain has spread across 14 states, from Florida, where severe water restrictions are in place, to Arizona, where ranchers could be forced to sell off entire herds of cattle because they simply cannot feed them.

In Texas, where the drought is the worst, virtually no part of the state has been untouched. City dwellers and ranchers have been tormented by excessive heat and high winds. In the Southwest, wildfires are chewing through millions of acres.

Last month, the United States Department of Agriculture designated all 254 counties in Texas natural disaster areas, qualifying them for varying levels of federal relief. More than 30 percent of the state’s wheat fields might be lost, adding pressure to a crop in short supply globally.

Even if weather patterns shift and relief-giving rain comes, losses will surely head past $3 billion in Texas alone, state agricultural officials said.

Most troubling is that the drought, which could go down as one of the nation’s worst, has come on extra hot and extra early. It has its roots in 2010 and continued through the winter. The five months from this February to June, for example, were so dry that they shattered a Texas record set in 1917, said Don Conlee, the acting state climatologist.

Oklahoma has had only 28 percent of its normal summer rainfall, and the heat has blasted past 90 degrees for a month.

“We’ve had a two- or three-week start on what is likely to be a disastrous summer,” said Kevin Kloesel, director of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. (read more)

Christian Lopez: Fan Who Caught Jeter's 3,000th Hit May Owe IRS Thousands

The tax man may be on the hunt for the super fan who caught Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit.

Christian Lopez, 23, recovered the prized ball his father fumbled after The Captain hammered it into their section of the stands in the third inning of the Yankees' win over Tampa Bay on Saturday.

The Verizon salesman from Highland Mills, N.Y., gave the ball back to Jeter, whom he called an "icon," and the Yankees lavished a slew of prizes, including luxury box seats for every remaining home game this season and post-season and some signed memorabilia.

Now the IRS wants a piece. The prizes Lopez received are estimated to be worth more than $32,000 -- and, like game show contestants, Lopez may have to pay taxes on the gifts and prizes because the IRS considers them income.

Some estimate the IRS will put Lopez on the hook for anywhere between $5,000 and $13,000. (read more)

Keith Carmickle: "Idiot nearly falls from the stands chasing a ball at the Home Run Derby"

Just days after Shannon Stone died from a fall while reaching for a baseball at a Texas Rangers game, a fan at last night’s Home Run Derby nearly fell out of the outfield stands while lunging for a home run ball hit by Prince Fielder. He was spared serious injury or death only because his friends grabbed him by his feet, held him and then pulled him back as he dangled over the railing above a concrete deck 20 feet below.

That’s him to the right. His name is Keith Carmickle, and common sense is not his forte. His fall came after he stepped up onto the narrow metal table which abutted the railing — the kind you stand in front of and set your drink on while watching the game — and then, while still standing on it, reached down low to catch the ball as it came in. (read more)

Hassan Muse Farah Robbed Bank, Waited In Lobby To Be Caught... so that he could be deported



Police say a man robbed a Minneapolis bank with the hopes of being caught.

Minneapolis Police were called to a Wells Fargo Bank on 800 Park Ave. just before 6:30 p.m. on July 7.

A bank employee said the robber, Hassan Muse Farah, had walked through the front entrance and gave one of the tellers a threatening hand written note.

The teller gave him money from the register. Then Farah, 20, walked over to a chair in the business lobby and sat down to wait until police arrived and he was arrested.

Police said Farah waived his Miranda rights, admitted to robbing the bank, and has been charged with second degree aggravated robbery.

They say he robbed the bank and waited for them to arrive just so he could be sent to prison or deported.

Farah remains in custody. Bail is set at $50,000. (source)

Central Falls, R.I., struggles to step back from financial abyss -- city after city in US falling into bankruptcy

At the community center, the subsidized lunch for seniors is no longer being served. The pool has been drained. Health screenings have been cancelled. The locks to the building were changed last week, and not even the acting director is allowed inside.

The public library has gone dark too, a sign on the door at the top of the stone steps telling patrons to return books elsewhere - indefinitely.

Central Falls, one of New England’s most distressed cities, is on the cusp of filing for bankruptcy protection - a relatively rare step for municipalities even in tough financial times. Since 1980, only about 46 cities or towns in the United States have sought such protection, according to James Spiotto, an attorney in Chicago who is an expert in municipal bankruptcies.

Last year, the state took over Central Falls - a city of 19,000 residents with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 15 percent - stripping the mayor of his keys to City Hall and the rest of his authority. That move came after every teacher was fired at the underperforming high school, with most of them rehired later.

As state officials try to dig Central Fall out of its financial hole, negotiations are ongoing with labor unions and retirees and cuts are being sought from every corner of the budget. Without major concessions, bankruptcy is a very real possibility. Bankruptcy can take a toll on a city’s reputation and put stress on neighboring communities, which might have to step in to provide services.

“It’s a difficult, painful, and wrenching process,’’ said Richard Levin, an attorney who has been advising the city council in Harrisburg, Pa., which has been flirting with bankruptcy because of more than $280 million in debt on its trash incinerator, several times the size of the city’s annual budget. “Some people think bankruptcy is like a bath or a free pass. That’s not it at all.’’ (read more)

Pakistan could "pull troops from Afghan border" if U.S. cuts aid

Pakistan could pull back troops fighting Islamist militants near the Afghan border if the United States cuts off aid, the defense minister said on Tuesday in an interview with Pakistani media.

The United States Monday said it would hold back $800 million -- a third of nearly $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan -- in a show of displeasure over Pakistan's removal of U.S. military trainers, limits on visas for U.S. personnel and other bilateral irritants.

"If at all things become difficult, we will just get all our forces back," Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said in an interview with the Express 24/7 television to be aired later on Tuesday.

The television aired excerpts of the interview Tuesday.

"If Americans refuse to give us money, then okay," he said. "I think the next step is that the government or the armed forces will be moving from the border areas. We cannot afford to keep military out in the mountains for such a long period."

In Pakistan, the defense minister is relatively powerless. Real defense and military policy is made by the powerful Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, and the head of the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

Monday, the military said it could do without U.S. assistance by depending on its own resources or turning to "all-weather friend" China. (read more)

Casey Anthony juror, 60, quits work and flees town in fear of her life

A juror in the Casey Anthony trial has told how she received death threats and has been unable to work since she was cleared of murder.

The woman, known only as juror number 12, left her job and went into hiding fearing co-workers would 'want her head on a platter'.

Her husband said before leaving she told him: 'I’d rather go to jail than sit on a jury like this again.'

He told NBC News he was worried for her health and had his bags packed ready to leave if his 60-year-old wife's name gets released.

The woman, who moved to Florida from Michigan, fled the area, retiring from her job working at Publix Grocery over the phone because she didn't feel safe.

While the court record of all the jurors’ names remains sealed, the couple who have been separated for 44 days said they face vitriol from those unwilling to accept the verdict.

The sensational trial of Casey Anthony sparked outrage across the U.S. when she was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee. (read more)

Owl leaves imprint on Kendal woman's window

A woman returned to her Cumbrian home to find a near perfect imprint of an owl on her window.

The bird had apparently crashed into the window of Sally Arnold's Kendal home, leaving the bizarre image - complete with eyes, beak and feathers.

Experts said the silhouette was left by the bird's "powder down" - a substance protecting growing feathers.

Mrs Arnold said she could find no sign of the owl, so assumed it had flown off without serious injury.

She said: "Our first concern was for the welfare of what we suspected was an owl and we opened up the window to check if it was still around.

"Fortunately, there was no sign of the bird and we can only assume that it had flown away probably suffering from a headache." (read more)

5.8 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA - 12th July 2011

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck in the Banda Sea Region at a depth of 126.5 km (78.6 miles), the quake hit at 21:06:13 UTC Tuesday 12th July 2011.
The epicenter was 239 km (149 miles) NNW from Saumlaki, Tanimbar Islands, Indonesia

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

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake near the EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 12th July 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:47:11 UTC Tuesday 12th July 2011.
The epicenter was 31 km (20 miles) NNE from Iwaki, Honshu, Japan

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

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake COSTA RICA - Update another 5.1 Magnitude has hit Costa Rica - 12th July 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Costa Rica at a depth of 59 km (36.7 miles), the quake hit at 20:18:01 UTC Tuesday 12th July 2011.
The epicenter was 47 km (29 miles) from San Carlos, Nicaragua
No reports of Damage as yet.

UPDATE: Another 5.1 Magnitude earthquake has hit Costa Rica much shallower this time at a depth of 30.9 km (19.2 miles) at 20:51:27 UTC Tuesday 12th July 2011
The epicenter was 43 km (27 miles) North East of Liberia, Costa rica

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake COSTA RICA - 12th July 2011

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck Costa Rica at a depth of 62.4 km (38.8 miles), the quake hit at 20:11:08 UTC Tuesday 12th July 2011.
The epicenter was 47 km (29 miles) from San Carlos, Nicaragua
No reports of Damage as yet.

Giant crocodile gives tourists a shock as he leaps from water - 12th July 2011

This monster crocodile soared out of the water in northern Australia to grab a chunk of meat offered on a stick by a ranger.

Tourists on the boat, cruising along the Adelaide River near Darwin, reared back as the giant 80-year-old crocodile suddenly leaped up to grab the titbit.

Feeding the crocs is a daily tourist attraction but usually they're much smaller than this 18ft fellow, nicknamed Brutus by rangers who have been aware of his presence over the years.

The picture was taken by Katrina Bridgeford, a photographer with the Northern Territory News, who was on the cruise with sons Jordan, 14, and Dylan, 11.

She recalled that when Dylan saw the massive creature rise out of the water he had only two words to utter - 'Holy crap!'

Brutus is missing his front leg following what is believed to have been a confrontation with a shark in the river's estuary - leaving many people to wonder just how big the shark was. Read More

'F**K YOU': Who'd have thought this burglary suspect would ever end up in trouble? - 12th July 2011

Most people choose tattoos that give others some idea of their character.

But this man wanted to leave nothing to chance with this less than subtle tattoo.

Patrick Brooks had the words 'F**K YOU' tattooed in the centre of his forehead in large thick black block capital letters.

The 21-year-old from California was arrested yesterday for burglary, forgery and receiving stolen property.

He had also violated the terms of his parole from a previous conviction.

His police mugshot shows him glum-faced showing off his vulgar tattoo.

The man was picked up by Redding Police Department.

He is being held without bail in the Shasta County jail, where his tattoo is no doubt endearing him to his fellow inmates. Read More

Jaren Hare and Charles Darnell face 35 years in jail after hungry eight-foot pet python kills two-year-old daughter - 12th July 2011

A mother is facing up to 35 years in jail for third-degree murder after the pet python she treated 'like a puppy' squeezed her two-year-old daughter to death.

Jaren Hare, 21, and her boyfriend Charles Darnell, 34, went on trial in Florida today, two years after they found Hare's daughter Shaianna dead in her cot in July 2009, with their albino Burmese python, Gypsy, coiled tightly around her and its fangs embedded in her forehead.

Investigators say that the 8ft 6in serpent had not been fed for a month and was kept in a tank at their rural home in Oxford, Florida, with only a duvet thrown over the top, tethered loosely with bungee cords and safety pins, to try to prevent it from escaping.

Prosecutors say that the episode was more than just a macabre accident and that Shaianna died as a result of criminal neglect by the couple.

Though the snake was the 'instrument of death', Darnell and Hare were responsible for ensuring the child's safety but showed 'reckless disregard', they assert. Read More

3 die, 18 hospitalized in Kebbi, Nigeria due to Food Poisoning - 12th july 2011

Three people lost their lives while 18 others were hospitalized in Duhuwa village of Maiyama Local Government of Kebbi State after consuming Bambara groundnut purchased in order to use the seeds for sowing.

According to a close relative of the affected, Alhaji Abubakar Dangaladima, the incident which occurred in the early hours of yesterday, left panic in the village as the nuts which were purchased at the market for the purpose of sowing were used by some community members as food.

He said after consuming the food prepared with the nuts three people instantly died while some including children were rushed to hospital over complaints of ailment such as fever, stomach ache and diarrhoea.

Governor Saidu Usman Dakingari paid a visit to the village where he commiserated with the families of the deceased and gave a donation of N400,000 to them. Source

China offers rare glimpse of military HQ



When it comes to China's military relationship with the United States, U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen is not one to mince his words.

"We don't have a relationship, it was stopped," the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says after climbing down from one of China's high-tech combat planes during a rare visit to the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army in Shandong province.

But he stresses the two countries better build one, and high level contact like this, he hopes, will create closer ties that will benefit not just the region, but the world.

During his visit, Mullen, a former Navy jet pilot, watched an aerial display by two Russian-designed SU-27 fighter jets -- considered a match for any other combat aircraft.

It was a carefully orchestrated display by China's military bosses, designed to impress.

As would be expected from a trip behind the normally closed doors of a PLA military base, everything about this trip has been scripted.

But for the international media, including CNN, this is rare access indeed, even if our every move is scrutinized.

Mullen remains largely off-limits except for one moment when I am able to throw a couple of questions. He answers fully and willingly, but within minutes he is ushered away.

Mullen says China is not a rising military power -- it has already risen. He says that military might carries great responsibilities and the need for more openness. (read more)

'South California' proposed as 51st state

Thirteen mostly conservative California counties would break away to create a 51st state known as South California under a proposal by an elected official that would have to clear major hurdles to succeed.

Republican Jeff Stone has asked fellow members of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to support a motion to bring together officials from the 13 counties to discuss the idea.

A vote on the proposed meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

Stone said California is too big to govern, a situation that has led the state to raid local government coffers because of runaway spending. He knows it will be a challenge to create another state but doesn't believe it's an impossible task.

"We are sending a message," Stone told the Los Angeles Times.

The effort marks the latest in scores of secession movements in California dating back to the 1850s that aimed to cleave the state and split counties and cities.

Even if leaders from the 13 counties got serious about secession, the U.S. Constitution says no new state can be formed without the consent of Congress and the state legislature.

An email message left by The Associated Press for Stone's chief of staff, Verne Lauritzen, was not immediately returned.

Gil Duran, a spokesman for California Gov. Jerry Brown, said Stone's proposal is "a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody's time."

"If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there's a place called Arizona," Duran told the newspaper. (read more)

13 killed in suspected drone strike in Pakistan

A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region killed 13 alleged militants Tuesday, intelligence officials said.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the suspected drone fired four missiles at an alleged militant hideout in the area of Shawal of South Waziristan, one of the seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

On Monday, a similar attack killed 10 suspected militants in North Waziristan.

The overwhelming majority of drone strikes have targeted areas in North and South Waziristan. Analysts say the areas are havens for militants fueling the insurgencies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The United States does not comment on suspected drone strikes. But it is the only country in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones -- which are controlled remotely. (source)

Asia stocks sink as Europe debt jitters mount

Shares in Asia sank Tuesday as fears that Europe's debt crisis could infect Italy and Spain added to recent pessimism about the global economic recovery.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 2.2 per cent to 21,854.91, South Korea's Kospi retreated 2.1 per cent to 2,111.05 and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.2 per cent to 2,768.28.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average shed 1.5 per cent to 9,915.00.

Expectations that Japan's central bank may end a two-day policy meeting with a downgrade of its growth estimate for fiscal 2011 following the March earthquake and tsunami disasters deepened the gloom.

In Australia, the European debt worries overshadowed dissatisfaction with the government's new carbon tax proposal. The S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.9 per cent to 4,495.40.

"What I think is really upsetting people is what's happening in America and Europe," said RBS Morgans private client adviser Bill Bishop. "The European credit situation has got worse and the European and U.S. banks took a big shellacking in the stock market," he said.

One bright spot was Macarthur Coal shares, which surged 37 per cent in Sydney after U.S. mining giant Peabody Energy made a takeover bid for the Queensland company in tandem with the world's largest steel maker, ArcelorMittal.

News Corporation's main stock continued its downward spiral, shedding 4.1 per cent in reaction to the News of the World phone hacking scandal. (read more)

Afghan officials: Up to 16 civilians killed in NATO strike

Afghan officials say a NATO airstrike in Logar province Monday killed at least nine and up to 16 people.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed Tuesday that it had carried out an attack in the Azra district of the province, but "I cannot confirm if there are any civilians killed," said Capt. Justin Brockhoff.

Brockhoff said the joint NATO-Afghan operation was looking for Taliban militants in the area and troops returned fire when they came under attack.

Sifatullah Haqmal, a district lawmaker, said four Taliban militants were killed but the rest were civilians.

Civilian casualties in the war between coalition forces and militants have generated grass-roots anger toward the combatants, and ISAF has been working for years to tackle the problem. (source)

22 police hurt in Northern Ireland riots

At least 22 police officers were injured and fire and ambulance personnel were attacked in Northern Ireland overnight, police said Tuesday, on the eve of a date often marked by sectarian violence.

Police fired more than 50 plastic bullets and used a water cannon to disperse rioters, who threw more than 40 petrol bombs, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. A number of arrests were made, they added, without specifying how many.

The violence was mainly in Catholic areas of Belfast ahead of the main day of the Protestant marching season, when loyalists parade through the streets.

A spokeswoman said the trouble started late Monday and continued until the early hours of Tuesday.

The most serious disorder was in the Broadway area of west Belfast and involved between 100 and 200 people.

Police are investigating reports gunshots were fired during the disturbances.

Police said several vehicles were hijacked and set alight in the area, while crowds attacked officers with missiles "including masonry and petrol bombs."

At one point a bus was hijacked and driven at police lines but crashed a short distance away.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Dave Jones called for community restraint ahead of Protestant Orange Order parades on the Twelfth of July.

"We would appeal for everyone to do everything they can to help ensure all areas are calm and peaceful over the next 48 hours. Violence does not need to be inevitable," he said after Monday night's rioting. (read more)

Widening scandal at Japan's Kyushu nuclear firm

Dozens of workers at Japan's Kyushu Electric Company posed as citizens and lobbied for a power plant to be reopened, an internal inquiry says.

A whistleblower last week revealed that some 50 workers had sent e-mails to a televised debate backing a plan to restart Kyushu's Genkai plant.

But the firm's internal inquiry has found more than 100 employees may have been involved.

Two-thirds of Japan's 54 reactors have been idle since the 11 March quake.

The 9.0-magnitude tremor, and the massive tsunami it triggered, wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi plant and sparked a review of the country's nuclear industry.

All the nuclear plants that were closed for routine inspections were ordered to stay closed until their safety could be guaranteed.

The plant at Genkai, in the south, was one of the first plants scheduled to be reopened.

But the government's announcement last week of more rigorous tests across the board scuppered the firm's attempts to have the reactors restarted. (read more)

Obama urged to investigate Bush torture claims

A campaign group has said the US president should order a criminal investigation into alleged torture sanctioned by the Bush administration.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says there is "overwhelming evidence" of torture ordered by George W Bush.

The former president has defended some of the techniques, saying they prevented attacks and saved lives.

The Obama administration has launched inquiries into deaths in CIA custody and other "unauthorised actions".

But HRW argues these inquiries will not cover the activities which were specifically authorised as legal by officials within the Bush administration.

The former president, vice-president, defence secretary and head of the CIA should all be investigated, the group says.

"There are solid grounds to investigate [George] Bush, [former vice-president Dick] Cheney, [former defence secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, and [former CIA director George] Tenet for authorising torture and war crimes," said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director.

"President Obama has treated torture as an unfortunate policy choice rather than a crime.

"His decision to end abusive interrogation practices will remain easily reversible unless the legal prohibition against torture is clearly re-established." (read more)

5 Inventions That Prove 'The Terminator' Is Upon Us Read more: 5 Inventions That Prove 'The Terminator' Is Upon Us

We recently chronicled ways that robots are already becoming human and subtly hinted that this would someday lead to the destruction of humanity.

"But Cracked!" some of you said, "The development of intelligent, humanoid robots doesn't mean that they're actually dangerous or Terminator-like in any way! ERROR! ERROR! MUST REBOOT." (Note: We are implying that you are secretly a robot.)

Well, let us now detail five real technologies that, according to our calculations, are 100 percent certain to drag us into a nightmare future infested with killer machines shaped like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

#1. Drones Can Think

You've probably heard about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like Predator drones, the pilotless aircraft the CIA loves sending to places like [REDACTED], [REDACTED] and of course [REDACTED]. The evolution of the UAV's role is similar to that of all robots -- they were originally created for noncombat reconnaissance missions, but over time we just couldn't resist strapping missiles onto them and teaching them how to kill. President Obama alone has ordered at least 192 targeted drone attacks during his term. (read more)

Mountaintop Removal Mining Birth Defects: New Study Suggests Controversial Coal Operations Linked To Adverse Health Effects

Researchers found "significantly higher" rates of birth defects in babies born near mountaintop removal mining sites than those in non-mining areas, according to a new study released last week.

Mountaintop removal mining is a particularly environmentally destructive type of resource extraction that involves using explosives to blow the tops off of mountains to expose coal underneath the soil and rock. The unusable dirt and gravel are then disposed of in adjacent valleys and streams. MTR is used prominently in the Appalachian region of the eastern United States.

The mining study, published in the journal Environmental Research, examined over 1.8 million live birth records from 1996 to 2003 using National Center for Health Statistics data from the central Appalachian states of West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

It found that rates for six out of seven types of birth defects -- circulatory/respiratory, central nervous system, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, urogenital and "other" -- were increased near MTR sites. The research suggests that contaminants are released into nearby environments from MTR, and that many of the contaminants are known to impair fetal development.

"Rates for any anomaly were approximately 235 per 100,000 live births in the mountaintop mining area versus 144 per 100,000 live births in the non-mining area," the study says. Although not as high as near MTR sites, it also found increased incidences of birth defects in communities near underground mines.

"This is monumental," said Bob Kincaid, the president of Coal River Mountain Watch (CRMW). He told The Huffington Post that this latest research is just one more among a dozen or so earlier studies "that shows that the coal industry, especially mountaintop removal, is engaged in the wholesale poisoning of Appalachia." (read more)