Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why is Saif al-Islam Gadhafi free after rebels said he had been arrested? (And why is the Libyan war turning into a farce?)

Bees on a plane panic as two hives swarm business class cabin

Terrified airline passengers panicked when two hives of bees smuggled onto a plane for a flight across Russia escaped in mid-air and began swarming around the cabin.

The bees - sneaked on board in cardboard boxes - are understood to have become agitated in the pressurised cabin during the 10-hour Yakutia Airline flight to Moscow from Blagoveshchensk near Russia’s border with China.

The trafficker - who has not been named by the airline - claims an airport official at Blagoveshchensk had asked him to carry the boxes to Moscow where he would be met at the airport.

Official airport documents quoted a passenger as saying that the trafficker was “slightly drunk.”

Air hostesses eventually managed to seal the bees inside the wardrobe in the flight’s business section by sealing it with sticky tape.

But when the plane arrived at its next destination, Barcelona, a new crew discovered that the fumigation had not been completely successful with five bees still on the plane, Russian newspapers reported. more

NATO Preparing “Humanitarian” Occupation Of Libya?

Preparing to head off any potential counter-attack by Gaddafi forces, NATO powers are readying a “humanitarian” occupation of Libya with thousands of British and American soldiers, risking the possibility that troops could be sent into yet another quagmire to rival Afghanistan and Iraq.

Eager to control the country’s vast oil resources and its 144 tons of gold bullion, a plan to send in troops would represent a complete violation of the UN’s own resolution authorizing military intervention, unless of course the soldiers were labeled “peacekeepers” and inserted under humanitarian cover.

Recall that the EU ground invasion force that was proposed back in April was similarly couched in humanitarian rhetoric and yet would have been empowered to “secure sea and land corridors inside the country,” a transparent military objective.

“Hundreds of British soldiers could be sent to Libya to serve as peacekeepers if the country descends into chaos, Downing Street indicated last night,” reports the Daily Mail. more

Charinez Jefferson, pregnant teen, begged for her life before Timothy Jones shot her in the head

Moments before she was slain last week on Chicago's Southwest Side, 17-year-old Charinez Jefferson begged the gunman not to shoot because she was pregnant, prosecutors said today.

Despite her plea, Timothy Jones, 18, opened fire on Jefferson anyway, yelling an expletive at her as he shot her in the head, prosecutors said. He then stood over her as she lay on the ground and fired several more times, striking her in the chest and back.


Jefferson was pronounced dead a short time later, but doctors were able to successfully deliver her baby boy, who remained in critical condition today, Assistant State's Attorney John Dillon said.

"Tests are expected to be performed to determine whether the child has any brain activity, as there are concerns over the child possibly suffering from oxygen deprivation after the victim had been shot," Dillon told Judge Laura Sullivan.

Sullivan denied bond for Jones, 18, who was charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 16 slaying.

“I’m happy that he’s been caught before we even put her in the ground,” said Jefferson’s aunt, Devorah Hope. “This young man sent a message on the streets that an unarmed pregnant woman that’s not violent to nobody, it’s not safe.” more

Teacher pension fund joins California auditor's risk list as $56 billion shortfall realized

The state auditor's office on Thursday added teacher pensions to the list of high-risk issues facing California government.

The report by State Auditor Elaine Howle added the nation's largest teacher pension fund because it can't meet the costs of retirement benefits beyond the next 30 years. The pension funding problem was added to a list of risks that includes California's chronic budget deficit, unfunded retiree health costs and prison crowding.

It's a well-known problem. The California State Teachers' Retirement System reported in March that it had 71 percent of the assets needed to cover retirement costs for its 852,000 members and family members. The estimated shortfall is $56 billion.

School districts and educators pay a percentage of each employee's salary into the pension fund to pay for benefits, but the percentage has not changed for decades. As recently as 2001, the fund had 98 percent of the assets it needed, but benefit changes and economic slumps that hurt asset values have reduced that number.

Both the pension board and Gov. Jerry Brown have called for funding changes to shore up long-term finances at CalSTRS. The board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, which covers state and local government workers, can change contribution amounts on its own, but changes to CalSTRS funding require action by the state Legislature. more

NYPD: Crime Spikes Dramatically In Parts Of Big Apple

New York City’s overall crime rate could increase for the first time in decades, driven by alarming spikes in murder, rapes and robberies in many neighborhoods.

A 400 percent increase in murders in tony Williamsburg; a 400 percent increase in rapes in Sheepshead Bay and a 250 percent increase in killings in Washington Heights are all troublesome statistics that have Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police officials concerned.

“We worry every day about trying to make this city safer,” Mayor Bloomberg said Monday. more

Man Asks Pedestrian for $1, Then Stabs Him Repeatedly

Police are looking for a man who stabbed a pedestrian on Long Island after asking him for a dollar.

Nassau County police say the 27-year-old victim was walking on Nassau Road in Roosevelt Monday evening when the suspect approached and asked him for one dollar.

The victim said he didn't have any money and continued walking.

Police say the suspect followed him and then pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the stomach and hand multiple times.

A passing motorist scared the suspect off. He fled, empty-handed, in an unknown direction.

The victim was taken to a local hospital where he was listed in stable condition.

The suspect is described as a black man about 5'7" with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a red and black New York Yankees hat, black hoodie and blue jeans, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous. source

FCC finally kills off fairness doctrine

The FCC gave the coup de grace to the fairness doctrine Monday as the commission axed more than 80 media industry rules.

Earlier this summer FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski agreed to erase the post WWII-era rule, but the action Monday puts the last nail into the coffin for the regulation that sought to ensure discussion over the airwaves of controversial issues did not exclude any particular point of view. A broadcaster that violated the rule risked losing its license.

While the commission voted in 1987 to do away with the rule — a legacy to a time when broadcasting was a much more dominant voice than it is today — the language implementing it was never removed. The move Monday, once published in the federal register, effectively erases the rule.

Monday’s move is part of the commission’s response to a White House executive order directing a “government-wide review of regulations already on the books” designed to eliminate unnecessary regulations. more

Six injured in shooting at Kingsessing basketball game: US

Six people were injured during a shootout - one critically - at a local league basketball game attended by 500 people in the city's Kingsessing section Monday night, police said.

The game was being held by the Eggy Taylor and Pick Brown League, which is run by the city, said Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson.

The victims were "innocent bystanders," Slawson said. One man was in critical condition.

The apparent target was among the bystanders. "It didn't have anything to do with the basketball game," Slawson said.

Police responded at 8:49 p.m. to reports of shots being fired at the Kingsessing Recreation Center's outdoor basketball courts and found three of the victims at the scene.

During halftime, a man entered the area near the intersection of Chester Avenue and 49th Street and became involved in a gun battle with another man, said Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives. All victims were adults, and one was a woman. more

Mount Dora police discover entire family living in trash-filled Walmart car converted into dumpster

Justin Hamilton, 31, of Paisley, and Kristin Harris, 26, of Eustis, were arrested and charged with child neglect.

According to Mount Dora police, officers were called around 7:40 a.m. to the Walmart on U.S. Highway 441 in connection with a suspicious vehicle.

Police said they found two adults and three children inside a 1987 Cadillac Coupe Deville. According to Mount Dora police, Hamilton and Harris said they had been living in the car for about three days.

Police said the car was full of belongings and garbage that included a container of spoiled milk and days-old chicken bones.

One of the children had second-degree burns from a sunburn, and paramedics said the injuries had not been treated, according to police. The child was taken to a hospital. more

''Big John'' kidnapped from Cape Coral! (How is that even possible?)

The big man is missing, but where is he?

The longtime, downtown symbol of Cape Coral, Big John, has popped his bolts. He is gone with the wind, but where?

Standing 28 feet tall and tipping the scales at a hefty 6,000 pounds, Cape's most famous landmark, with his big smile and welcoming arms, has vanished without a trace.

He was there in the plaza named for him on Wednesday, gone on Thursday.

Cape Coral police have launched a full scale investigation, going house to house, recycling bin to recycling bin to try to find our leader. They are asking other statues in the area, but they remain stone-faced.

The big man's owner, a distraught Elmer Tabor, has filed a missing person's report. He barely got through it, tears flowing over the fiberglass wonder.

"I have never lost a family member like this," a heavily medicated Tabor said. "He is an icon. If not for the medication I would not be able to sleep. I hurt bad over it." more

US National Debt growing $3 million a minute

Swallow all liquids in your mouth before reading any further.

Updated numbers for the national debt are just out: It's now $14,639,000,000,000.

When Barack Obama took the oath of office twice on Jan. 20, 2009, CBS' amazing number cruncher Mark Knoller reports, the national debt was $10,626,000,000,000.

That means the debt that our federal government owes a whole lot of somebodies including China has increased $4,247,000,000,000 in just 945 days. That's the fastest increase under any president ever.

Remember the day the Democrat promised to close the embarrassing Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility within one year? That day the national debt increased $4,247,000,000. And each day since that the facility hasn't been closed.

Same for the day in 2009 when Obama flew all the way out to Denver to sign the $787 billion stimulus bill that was going to hold national unemployment beneath 8% instead of the 9.1% we got today anyway? Another $4,247,000,000 that day. And every day since, even Obama golfing and vacation days. more

US Military Intervention in Libya Cost At Least $896 Million

The cost of U.S. military intervention in Libya has cost American taxpayers an estimated $896 million through July 31, the Pentagon said today.

The price tag includes the amounts for daily military operations, munitions used in the operation and humanitarian assistance for the Libyan people.

The U.S. has also promised $25 million in non-lethal aid to the Libyan Transitional National Council, half of which the Defense Department has already on MRE’s (military lingo for Meals, Ready to Eat).

The military delivered 120,000 Halal MRE’s to Benghazi in May and a second shipment that included medical supplies, boots, tents, uniforms, and personal protective gear in June.

While Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appears on the way out, NATO says flight missions over Tripoli will continue, with the U.S. playing a role in helping to keep a tight window over the area that’s been in effect for weeks.

Over the past 12 days, U.S. planes have flown 391 sorties for a total of 5,316 since April 1, according to figures provided by the Defense Department. That total includes 1,210 airstrike missions over the same three and a half month period. The U.S. has also conducted 101 Predator drone strike missions in Libya. more

Long Island Winery Selling 9/11-Themed Merlot And Chardonnay (And yes, they're charging $9.11 for it)

The sale of 9/11-themed alcohol by a Long Island winery is likely to raise some eyebrows and draw ire despite some monetary benefit to charity.

Lieb Family Cellars of Mattituck says it has produced the 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Chardonnay and 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Merlot to mark to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the opening of the 9/11 Memorial.

The company says it has 247 cases of the Chardonnay and 251 cases of the Merlot and that each will sell for $19.11 per bottle if purchased directly through the winery. more

Martin Luther King memorial... made in China



The 30ft-tall statue, which forms the centrepiece of a $120 million (£73 million), four-acre memorial to Dr King, opened to the public on Monday on the National Mall in Washington. It is the only memorial on the Mall that does not honour a president or fallen soldiers.

Standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument, the statue shows Dr King emerging from a mountain of Chinese granite with his arms crossed and is called The Stone of Hope.

However, there has been controversy over the choice of Lei Yixin, a 57-year-old master sculptor from Changsha in Hunan province, to carry out the work. Critics have openly asked why a black, or at least an American, artist was not chosen and even remarked that Dr King appears slightly Asian in Mr Lei's rendering.

Mr Lei, who has in the past carved two statues of Mao Tse-tung, one of which stands in the former garden of Mao Anqing, the Chinese leader's son, carried out almost all of the work in Changsha.

More than 150 granite blocks, weighing some 1,600 tons, were then shipped from Xiamen to the port of Baltimore, and reassembled by a team of 100 workmen, including ten Chinese stone masons brought over specifically for the project. more

Fukushima radioactive seawater plume spreading across Pacific ocean?

Eurozone services, factories hit as Germany weakens

The eurozone's dominant service sector was effectively stagnant this month after two years of growth while manufacturing activity shrank for the first time since September 2009, key surveys showed on Tuesday.

The surveys point to flat quarterly GDP growth and adds to signs that an economic slowdown is spreading beyond the periphery and taking root in core members of the bloc, including Germany.

"There is a weakness in the core countries, Germany in particular. The eurozone is losing its main motor of growth," said Chris Williamson at data provider Markit.

The Flash Markit Eurozone Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 51.5 this month from 51.6 in July, its lowest level since September 2009 but confounded expectations for a larger fall to 50.9.

The index, which measures activity of firms ranging from restaurants to banks, has now been above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction for two years.

Some of that growth was driven by firms fulfilling old orders, with the backlogs of work index falling to 48.8 from 49.6, its lowest since October. more

The British government’s Work Programme is under threat of financial collapse

The Government’s flagship back to work scheme, the Work Programme, is in peril. The bold new scheme, which pays private and not-for-profit providers by results for getting the long-term unemployed into work, looks likely to substantially undershoot the Government’s expectations, putting it at risk of financial collapse.

That’s according to new research published by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) today. Our paper, Will the Work Programme Work? examines the viability of Work Programme by forecasting the likely performance of the providers during its first three years, based on the actual performance achieved under Labour’s welfare to work scheme and the forerunner to the Work Programme, the Flexible New Deal (FND).

The analysis suggests that providers won’t hit the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) minimum expectations in years one and two of the Work Programme, and even by year three, 22 out of 24 FND contractors would have failed to meet the minimum requirements of the new flagship scheme. As the Department has threatened to terminate the contracts of providers who do not meet these challenging benchmarks, this threatens the viability of the policy. The likely performance levels also mean that funding per jobseeker on the scheme will be significantly less than anticipated, creating real problems for private and voluntary sector providers already operating on extremely tight funding. more

20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012

If you thought that 2011 was a bad year for the world economy, just wait until you see what happens in 2012. The U.S. and Europe are both dealing with unprecedented debt problems, the financial markets are flailing about wildly, austerity programs are being implemented all over the globe, prices on basics such as food are soaring and a lot of consumers are flat out scared right now. Many analysts now fear that a "perfect storm" could be brewing and that we could actually be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012. Hopefully that will not happen. Hopefully our leaders can keep the global economy from completely falling apart. But right now, things don't look good. After a period of relative stability, things are starting to become unglued once again. The next major financial panic could literally happen at any time. Sadly, if we do see an economic apocalypse in 2012, it won't be the wealthy that suffer the most. It will be the poor, the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry that feel the most pain.

The following are 20 signs that we could be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012....

#1 Back in 2008 we saw major rioting around the world due to soaring food prices, and now global food prices are on the rise again. Global food prices in July were 33 percent higher than they were one year ago. Price increases for staples such as maize (up 84 percent), sugar (up 62 percent) and wheat (up 55 percent) are absolutely devastating poverty-stricken communities all over the planet. For example, one expert is warning that 800,000 children living in the Horn of Africa could die during this current famine.

#2 The producer price index in the U.S. has increased at an annual rate of at least 7.0% for the last three months in a row. We are starting to see huge price increases all over the place. For example, Starbucks recently jacked up the price of a bag of coffee by 17 percent. If inflation keeps accelerating like this we could be facing some very serious problems by the time 2012 rolls around.

#3 The U.S. "Misery Index" (unemployment plus inflation) recently hit a 28 year high and many believe that it is going to go much, much higher. more

Bad financial news keeps rolling in from across the world

The bad news about the economy just keeps rolling in. If this is an economic recovery, what in the world is the next "recession" going to look like? Today there was another huge truckload of bad economic news. The stock market had another 400 point "correction", applications for unemployment benefits are up again, inflation is higher than expected, home sales have dropped again and Europe is coming apart at the seams. The financial markets have been in such a state of chaos recently that days like today don't even seem "unusual" anymore. But we should all be alarmed at what is happening. We haven't seen anything quite like this since the darkest days of 2008 and 2009. If more bad news keeps pouring in, we may soon have a very real panic on our hands.

I would have thought that my article yesterday, "20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012", would have contained enough bad economic news to last for a while. But today there was another huge bumper crop of depressing numbers.

Are you ready for the carnage?

*The Dow fell 419 points today. That was a 3.7% drop. The S&P 500 shot down 4.5% and the Nasdaq plummeted by a whopping 5.2%.

*European bank stocks got absolutely hammered.

*The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits jumped back above 400,000 last week.

*The recent inflation numbers have really taken analysts by surprise. The consumer price index rose at a 6.0% annual rate during the month of July. As I mentioned yesterday, the producer price index in the U.S. has increased at an annual rate of at least 7.0% for the last three months in a row.

So now we have high unemployment and high inflation. Oh goody! All of this stagflation is almost enough to make one nostalgic for the 1970s. more

Analysis: Could Libya split along tribal lines?

Libya's fledgling National Transitional Council (NTC) -- a Benghazi-based political grouping of anti-Gadhafi rebels -- stands on the cusp of power.

But are skeptics justified in arguing that the NTC is incapable of holding together serious tribal and regional divisions to the point where political order will simply collapse?

Consider the tribal question first. This requires some nuance. Libya has roughly 140 tribes and clans, and some traverse the country's borders with Egypt and Tunisia. But only a couple of dozen tribes are politically consequential.

Moreover, decades of urbanization have seen a dilution in tribal identity to the point where many in a large city like Tripoli would see little political significance in their membership. more

Germany forced to make a choice: Stable money or one Europe?

The imposing but sometimes difficult-to-fathom edifice of Germany since the Second World War has been built on a central foundation of international politics: that the Germans should never have to take hard decisions in choosing between intrinsically contradictory alternatives.

As a result of the growing, perhaps terminal strains in economic and monetary union (EMU), that foundation is now starting to crumble. In coming months, Germany may have to make an agonizing choice: stable money or European integration.

Combining several different policy objectives in one over-arching strategy has been a pivotal tenet of successive German chancellors. As Yogi Berra once recommended, whenever they saw a fork in the road, they simply took it. more

Sea lice linked to wild salmon mortality

A new study has found that sea lice infections at B.C. fish farms are linked to increased mortality among wild pink and coho salmon, contradicting the conclusion of a previous study of pink salmon that found no link.

"Our works suggests that when one looks at all the available evidence there is indeed good reason to minimize lice on farmed salmon and the potential for their transmission to wild fish," said Brendan Connors, a Simon Fraser University researcher who co-authored the study to be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sea lice are parasites that infect many salmon species and some studies have suggested that young wild salmon can become infected with sea lice as they swim past salmon farms, where large numbers of salmon are kept in a confined space.

Some studies have also suggested that when young wild salmon are infected with large numbers of sea lice, the infection can have a negative impact on their health, behaviour and survival. more

Tax Solution? "Don't raise taxes... on anyone!"

"Will there be a new recession?"

The American economy is in deep trouble again; so is the world economy. Over the last century, whenever there has been a global financial crisis, events show that it started in the United States.

In 1929, the stock market was almost totally wiped out by a free-fall loss of 89 per cent of its assets. It started when the US Congress proceeded to impose wide-scale punitive duties on 20,000 items of import. Sensing that there would be retaliation by the imposition of similar duties on exports to other countries from America, Wall Street stockholders embarked on a panic sell-off which eventually created the Great Depression.

The impact created massive unemployment which reached as high as an unbelievable 26 per cent. This condition lasted for the entire decade of the 1930s until President Franklin Roosevelt strategised the US entry into World War II. The intervention cranked up the idle production capacity of the American economy, wiping out unemployment created by the Great Depression and restoring economic growth.

From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, another financial crisis emerged. This was caused by the reaction of Washington to the drying up of capital as a result of a massive transfer of finance to oil-producing countries to meet a dramatic increase in the price of oil (more than 300 per cent). To revive the consumer-driven American economy, it was necessary to increase money supply, capital and credit. more

In Baltimore, homes sell for $10,000 — and less

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 23rd August 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 198.6 km ( 123.4 miles), the quake hit at 19:53:30 UTC Tuesday 23rd August 2011.
The epicenter was 183 km (113 miles) WSW of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake MINAHASA, SULAWESI, INDONESIA - 23rd August 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia at a depth of 30 km ( 18.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:01:50 UTC Tuesday 23rd August 2011.
The epicenter was 97 km (60.3 miles) Northwest of Baolan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN NEW GUINEA REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 23rd August 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Eastern New Guinea Region, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 30.8 km ( 19.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:29:52 UTC Tuesday 23rd August 2011.
The epicenter was 110 km (68 miles) NNE of Lae, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Virginia 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake: Pentagon in Washington is evacuated as an earthquake hits the East coast in the States - 23rd Aug 2011

A huge earthquake ripped through the East Coast of America this afternoon, causing terrifying tremors from Washington D.C. to New York.

Buildings in the major cities throughout the north east - including the Pentagon and the White House - had to be evacuated with the 5.9 magnitude earthquake, which originated in Virginia, shaking areas from as far north as Boston all the way to Anderson in South Carolina.

In Virginia there were reports of damage caused by the quake, while the streets of downtown Washington and New York were filled with thousands of people hauled out of buildings for fear they could collapse.

There were also fears of a nuclear disaster of the kind seen in Japan's Fukushima because the epicentre was just a few miles from an old nuclear power plant, the North Anna, in Richmond.

At the Pentagon, it has been reported that staff ran from the building fearing they were under attack.

The 5.9-magnitude tremor struck at about 2pm local time with shallow tremors of about 3.7 miles deep, which is thought to explain why the shaking was so widespread.

It is though to have been the strongest quake to hit the Virginia area since 1897.

The previous record for an earthquake in the Washington, D.C. area was on July 16, 2010, when a 3.6 magnitude struck. Read More


2.8 Magnitude Earthquake VIRGINIA - 23rd August 2011

A magnitude 2.8 earthquake has struck Virginia at a depth of just 0.1 km ( 0 miles), the quake hit at 18:46:03 UTC Tuesday 23rd August 2011.
The epicenter was 9 km (5 miles) SSW of Mineral, Virginia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Virginia 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake is the Largest Earthquake to strike the area since 1897 - 23rd August 2011

This earthquake was the largest in intensity and aerial extent in Virginia in historical times. MM intensity VII to VIII extended over an elliptical area - from near Lynchburg, Virginia, west to Bluefield, West Virginia, and from Giles County south to Bristol, Tennessee. The MM intensity VIII assigned to this earthquake is based on "many downed chimneys" and "changes in the flow of springs."

The shock was felt severely at Narrows, about 3 kilometers west of Pearisburg. Here, the surface rolled in an undulating motion, water in springs became muddy, and water in some springs ceased to flow. The flow of water in springs also was disturbed in the area of Pearisburg, about 70 kilometers west of Roanoke, and Sugar Run.

The shock was strong at Pearisburg, where walls of old brick houses were cracked and many chimneys were thrown down or badly damaged. Many chimneys also were shaken down at Bedford, Pulaski, Radford, and Roanoke, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee; many chimneys were damaged at Christiansburg, Dublin, Floyd, Houston, Lexington, Lynchburg, Rocky Mount, Salem, Tazewell, and Wytheville, Virginia; Charlotte, Oxford, Raleigh, and Winston, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Bluefield, West Virginia. Felt from Georgia to Pennsylvania and from the Atlantic coast westward to Indiana and Kentucky. Aftershocks continued through June 6, 1897. Source

Yousseff Wahid an airline steward caught on CCTV preparing to dump the butchered body of his flatmate, Fatima Kama, 28 - 23rd Aug 2011

This image of a man pushing a suitcase on a trolley through a deserted concourse at Heathrow appears to show nothing out of the ordinary.

But it is in fact the grisly moment airline steward Yousseff Wahid, 42, was caught on CCTV preparing to dump the butchered body of flatmate Fatima Kama - which he had stuffed inside.

Wahid, from Lebanon, was today convicted of murder, 11 years after going on the run.

He fled the country after slashing the aspiring singer's throat after having sex with her in their central London flat in 1999.

Moroccan-born Kama, 28, was a 'Holly Golightly' character who worked as a cabaret singer and dancer entertaining Arabs in the area around Edgware Road.

The day before her murder, July 17, 1999, she was due to fly home to her family who lived in Montreal, Canada. Read More

Virginia EARTHQUAKE felt in Washington, New York City, North Carolina - 23rd Aug 2011



5.9 Magnitude Earthquake VIRGINIA - 23rd August 2011

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake has struck Virginia at a depth of just 1 km ( 0.6 miles), the quake hit at 17:51:03 UTC Tuesday 23rd August 2011.
The epicenter was 6 km (4 miles) SSE of Louisa, Virginia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time more to follow......

Thomas Fischer\s hadcuffed victim dives headfirst through barbed wire window to escape from DIY torture chamber rigged with eight bombs , Germany

A woman escaped from a DIY torture chamber rigged with eight bombs designed to detonate when her German captor had finished with her.

Despite being handcuffed the unnamed woman, 26, made her escape by diving head-first through a window that had been covered over with barbed wire.

She spotted her opportunity to run for freedom when Thomas Fischer, 30, forgot to lock the door to her 'cell' - a modified telephone box which had been soundproofed to absorb her screams.

When police arrived at Fischer's apartment in Wachtelstrasse, Hamburg, they discovered a scene that could have come straight from the script of a horror film.

A police spokesman said: 'The whole two-roomed apartment was rigged up as one massive torture chamber, with this big old-fashioned telephone kiosk soundproofed as the cell for his victim.'

Fischer had a 'vast array' of medical implements - scalpels, needles, gynaecological instruments and syringes - that he practised with on a mannequin. Read More

Camelot Theme park horror as boy, 12, with special needs plunges from white-knuckle ride - 23rd Aug 2011

A 12-year-old boy with special needs is in hospital after plunging from a theme park ride.

The unnamed boy fell from the Excalibur 2 ride at the Camelot Theme Park in Chorley.

The incident occurred at 1pm today and the boy was airlifted to Wigan Royal Infirmary.

His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening, and a joint police and Health and Safety Executive investigation is now underway.

One eye-witness told the Lancashire Evening Post he had seen the boy 'hanging' from the ride.

A spokesman for the theme park said: 'At this stage we do not know the full extent of the injuries sustained and our thoughts are with the young boy and his family.

'Until we have more information to hand, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.' Read More

Great white sharks making presence known off Cape Cod - 23rd Aug 2011

Evidence of sharks spotted in Chatham: MyFoxBOSTON.com



Recent sightings of great white sharks close to shore in the Chatham area of Cape Cod have resulted in the closure of some beaches, while swimming restrictions are in place at others.

White sharks are in the area to prey on harbor and gray seals, and that became glaringly apparent over the weekend when a large seal washed ashore with a bite wound believed to have been inflicted by a 14- to 16-foot white shark.

The seal may have escaped after the attack, which occurred off Monomoy Island, because of its proximity to to shore. But the pinniped ultimately succumbed to the gaping wound. Fox 25 has more on the story below (thanks to The Dorsal Fin for the tip): Source

Libya: rebel fighters take control of Gaddafi compound -- But no one is there...

Speaking over a very crackly line CNN's Matthew Chance is reporting that there is gunfire inside of the Rixos Hotel, where around 35 international journalists are being kept. He says the mood "is getting very ugly" and that reporters are trying to avoid the loyalist gunmen who are apparently still in the lobby. They have hung white flags from the windows and are apparently running low on food.

Quote We're pretty frightened to be honest, there's a slience that's come over us. We don't know what to expect. There's a sense that we've been used, we feel like we're being kept here against our will. Live coverage here

Newport shooting: Widow, 92, tried to stop gunman Darren Williams

A 92-year-old widow was shot trying to confront a gunman who opened fire in a Newport hairdresser's, it has emerged.

The woman got up from her chair after 45-year-old Darren Williams opened fire at Carol-Ann's salon in Malpas Road.

His estranged wife Rachel Williams, 37, was shot in the knee. Rebounding shots injured the widow and another customer.

After a six-hour search, armed police found the gunman's body at nearby Brynglas woods on Friday night.

He had opened fire with a double-barrelled shotgun in the salon, intent, according to Gwent Police, on targeting his estranged wife.
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The gun was right there next to me. It was an antique shotgun and looked very elaborate”

Peter Heathcote Vet

Vet Peter Heathcote described how he ran to the salon after hearing gun shots.

Mr Heathcote, who works nearby, said: "I have never seen anything like it. I did not know what I was going in to - whether people had been shot and whether they were still alive. more

'Smart' CCTV could track rioters (and absolutely everything else you do): UK

CCTV that can automatically monitor criminal behaviour and track suspects is being developed by UK scientists.

Researchers at Kingston University have created a system that uses artificial intelligence to recognise specific types of behaviour, such as someone holding a gun.

The technology is capable of following a person across multiple cameras.

Privacy campaigners warned that it might be used to target groups such as political protesters.

However, the developers insisted that their invention would allow police to focus on law breakers and erase images of innocent civilians.

The technology works by teaching a computer to recognise specific types of public behaviour, known as "trigger events".

"In riot situations, it could be people running - a crowd might converge in a certain place," said Dr James Orwell of Kingston University

"If somebody pulls out a gun, people tend to run in all sorts of directions. These movements can be detected." more

Is the mosquito menace growing in the UK?

Complaints of mosquito bites are on the rise in the UK. So should Britons brace themselves for a future mosquito menace?

Hovering perfectly at ear level with a lingering, bothersome whine, mosquitoes leave you with bites that lead to itchy, swollen welts.

In much of the world, affected by malaria, repelling them is a matter of life and death. In the UK they are a mere annoyance, interrupting summer holidays and barbecues.

Based on a survey of UK local authorities, reports of mosquito bites over the last 10 years are 2.5 times greater than in the 10 years up to 1996.

NHS Direct statistics show 9,061 calls in England complaining of bites and stings from early May this year to now - up nearly 15% from last summer. Not all bite complaints are due to mosquitoes - many can be attributed to bedbugs, midges and fleas.

But conditions in the UK, particularly in southeastern England, are increasingly hospitable to mosquitoes.

"The wet weather through May and June this year, along with a warm summer, has affected the population because mosquitoes like the standing breeding water," says zoologist Michael Bonsall at Oxford University. more

Trinidad declares state of emergency in crime hot-spots

A limited state of emergency is in force in several areas of Trinidad and Tobago, as the government moves to tackle a recent spike in violent crime.

The measures, announced on Sunday by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, include an overnight curfew.

Ms Persad-Bissessar said they were taking action in what she called "hot spots" as part of a wider effort to tackle "wanton acts of lawlessness".

The opposition said it was a "panic response" by the government.

The declaration of emergency rule in six areas, which will last 15 days, came after the country saw 11 murders in just a couple of days.

Ms Persad-Bissessar said the killings were a reaction by drug gangs to recent major seizures by the police of consignments worth millions of dollars.

"These large sums of money simply do not disappear from the drug trade without consequences," she said. more

Syrian death toll tops 2,200, U.N. says



More than 2,200 people have been killed since the start of mass protests in Syria in mid-March, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Monday.

Navi Pillay spoke in Geneva, Switzerland at a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which met to discuss allegations of human rights violations in Syria.

The meeting comes after the United Nations sent a humanitarian mission to Syria this weekend to look for effects of President Bashar al-Assad's protest crackdown.

Pillay said that more than 2,200 people have been killed in the crackdown so far, with more than 350 people reportedly killed since the start of Ramadan. more

Turkey says it has killed 90 to 100 Kurdish rebels in Iraq

Ninety to 100 Kurdish rebel fighters have been killed during Turkey's incursion on northern Iraq, the Turkish military said Tuesday.

The military carried out more than 130 airstrikes and nearly 350 artillery strikes between last Wednesday and Monday in an offensive against fighters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in neighboring Iraq. Around 80 people have been wounded in the push, the military said.

On Sunday night, a PKK spokesman said no rebels had been killed.

Turkish armed forces are striking what the country calls PKK "safe havens" and "attack bases" in the region. Targets included rebel barracks, caves, ammunition depots and anti-aircraft positions in the region, part of Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region. more

China, Libya’s fair-weather friend: "When the going gets tough, China gets going"



When the going gets rough, China gets going. After six months of attempted neutrality between Moammar Gadhafi loyalists and rebel forces, Beijing now appears to have chosen sides. This, as the end-game seemingly nears for Libya’s leader of 42 years, whose hold on power wanes by the day.

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry now says the country “respects the choice of the Libyan people” and wants “to play a positive role in rebuilding China”.

The translation? Beijing thinks Moammar Gadhafi is about to be booted out and it’s switching allegiance to the folks that may eventually run the country.

Looking at this move through the prism of an oil-sprinkled lens, Beijing’s motivation comes into focus a bit more. China is the world’s second largest consumer of oil after the U.S. And Libya, at peak production, was pumping out a total of 1.5 million barrels a day. And 11% of that went where? You guessed it - China.

Since the conflict in Libya started in mid-February, that oil production has all but dried up. With the potential dawn of a new peace, it stands to reason that China wants to be best positioned with Libya’s leaders, whoever they turn out to be. Ah China, you fair-weathered - albeit very logical - friend. more

Libya Rebels launch siege on Gadhafi compound (or so we're told)



Libyan rebels surrounded Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli Tuesday, entering one of the gates and "attacking furiously," a rebel official told CNN.

As rebel fighters battled forces loyal to the Libyan leader, NATO also "hit some targets," said Mahmoud Shammam, minister of information for the National Transitional Council.

A CNN crew at a hotel nearby heard ferocious clashes and loud explosions coming from the compound, likely the sound of artillery shells being exchanged.

NATO would not comment on specific actions it was taking.

It was unknown whether Gadhafi himself was in the compound. Col. Roland Lavoie, a NATO spokesman, said Tuesday he doesn't have a clue" where Gadhafi is. He added that the 42-year-long regime is coming to an end, and that Gadhafi is "not a key player anymore." more

Once again, there's no footage. Just 10 guys walking around with guns doing nothing, and all reporting based upon "what the rebels have told us". Shoddy journalism.

South Korean employees leave resort after North Korean threat

The last South Korean employees have left Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea resort Tuesday morning, as the struggle over the scenic mountain resort continues.

Fourteen South Koreans and two Chinese workers left after 11 a.m.. Tuesday, the South Korea's Unification Ministry said. The ministry said it had no idea when the workers will return.

The move comes a day after North Korea announced it would seize all assets in the area.

The joint project at Mount Kumgang was started in 1998 to boost reconciliation and to give North Korea a chance to earn money.

Operations were suspended by Seoul after the 2008 shooting of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier after the shooting victim walked into an off-limits area.

North Korea says it will seize the South Korean properties under North Korean law after Seoul unilaterally suspended the tours and gave South Korean employees 72 hours to leave Monday.

South Korea has rejected the North's threats. more

Hurricane Irene threatens U.S. after hitting Caribbean

Emergency officials across the southeast United States were closely watching Irene Tuesday as the first hurricane to seriously threaten the country in three years churned over energizing tropical waters. The storm has already cut a destructive path through the Caribbean.

Forecasters say the hurricane could grow to a monstrous Category 4 storm with winds of more than 211 kilometre before it's predicted to come ashore this weekend on the U.S. mainland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami expected Irene to reach Category 3 strength on Tuesday, said spokesman Dennis Feltgen.

For now, the first Atlantic hurricane of the season had maximum sustained winds early Tuesday around 160 kph and was centred about 90 kilometres northeast of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. The hurricane was moving west-northwest near 17 kph. more

New Californian data spill shows risk of online health records: 300,000 medical files "spilled"

Until recently, medical files belonging to nearly 300,000 Californians sat unsecured on the Internet for the entire world to see.

There were insurance forms, Social Security numbers and doctors' notes. Among the files were summaries that spelled out, in painstaking detail, a trucker's crushed fingers, a maintenance worker's broken ribs and one man's bout with sexual dysfunction.

At a time of mounting computer hacking threats, the incident offers an alarming glimpse at privacy risks as the nation moves steadily into an era in which every American's sensitive medical information will be digitized.

Electronic records can lower costs, cut bureaucracy and ultimately save lives. The government is offering bonuses to early adopters and threatening penalties and cuts in payments to medical providers who refuse to change.

But there are not-so-hidden costs with modernization.

"When things go wrong, they can really go wrong," says Beth Givens, director of the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, which tracks data breaches. "Even the most well-designed systems are not safe. ... This case is a good example of how the human element is the weakest link." more

Gold tops $1,900, looking 'a bit bubbly'

Gold prices have been on a tear lately, topping a fresh record high above $1,900 an ounce late Monday-- just two weeks after rising above $1,800.

While experts aren't too worried about each new milestones, they are starting to freak out about the rapid speed at which prices are hitting them. Gold started the year just above $1,400 an ounce.

Gold prices rose 2.4% during the regular trading session to settle at $1,891.90 an ounce. In after hours electronic trading, prices topped $1,900 an ounce for the first time.

"Gold could keep working its way higher, but it is starting to look a bit bubbly," said Matt Zeman market strategist at Kingsview Financial in Chicago. "The run-up reminds me of what silver did a few months ago. It climbed steadily week after week, sucked everyone in, and then the whole deck of cards came crashing down."

With investors plowing into gold in droves, the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD), one of the most popular funds for investors seeking exposure to gold, is now the world's largest ETF with nearly $77 billion in net assets. Since 1993, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) held the top spot. It boasts about $75 billion in assets, accord to State Street Global Advisors. more

Libya timeline: the battle between rebels and Gaddafi's forces, in 50 pictures


'Clueless' households paying £400 too much for energy: UK

British households could be paying over the odds for their gas and electricity as new research show that nearly 40pc of us are clueless of our monthly usage costs.

Despite the rising year on year costs of our energy bills, the survey by moneysupermarket.com show that 16pc us have no idea at all as to how much we are coughing up towards energy bills every year, and a further 20pc of monthly bill payers have no idea of the total cost of their yearly bill.

This could mean that households may be unnecessarily paying higher bills, especially after this summer where we will see gas prices rise by 16pc to 19pc and electricity prices by 7pc to 16pc this summer.

Scott Byrom, utilities manger at moneysupermarket.com said: “With the current spate of price hikes taking the average bill to record highs, customers should be on their game and know exactly how much they are paying in gas and electricity charges each year. The message is simple – for a medium user, if you pay more than £37 for your electricity and more than £51 for your gas per month, then you are potentially paying too much and should be looking to switch to a better tariff.”

For many households, gas and electricity costs are the second largest monthly outgoing following a mortgage or rent payment and being unaware of the price you pay for your gas and electricity could mean that you are paying £411 more than you need to with the most expensive tariff coming in at over £1,391 compared to the current cheapest at around £980. more

"Relax, central banks can still save us"

Even if Europe and America slide back into recession with fiscal deficits already dangerously stretched and interest rates on the floor, financial authorities still have the means to prevent a spiral into debt-deflation.

Whether they have nerve to use those means if necessary, and whether they can overcome deep rifts to act in unison and with overwhelming force, is another matter. It would help if China and other reserve powers stopped sniping from their clay towers. They will suffer just as badly, or worse, if the damn breaks.

Perhaps oddly, I am not as uber-bearish as some at this juncture. It is far from clear to me that the US is crashing into a second slump. While the Philly Fed’s manufacturing index for August was catastrophic at minus 30.7, it is a twitchy index.

Paul Dales at Capital Economics says it flashed false warnings in 1995 and 1998. The US Conference Board’s leading indicators are more reliable. They are signalling sluggish growth.

Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s financial stability chief, says global banks have raised equity by $500bn since the bubble burst. They have slashed assets by $3 trillion, and halved leverage ratios from 40:1 to a long-run average of 20:1. “UK and US banks’ cash ratios are at their highest levels for several decades,” he said. more

Is Europe facing a credit crunch like 2008?

The sovereign debt problems in Europe have roiled financial markets around the world.

With little relief in sight, investors are growing worried about the possibility of a credit crunch similar to the one that gripped the international banking system three years ago.

"We're seeing signs of it starting already," said Patrick Bolton, a professor of finance at Columbia University. "The mechanism and the players are different but there's a very similar dynamic to what we saw in 2008."

Shares of European banks came under attack last week following reports that an unnamed bank borrowed billions of dollars from an emergency facility at the European Central Bank.

The fear is that banks are having trouble obtaining short-term funding from sources such as commercial paper and money market funds. In 2008, those pools of liquidity dried up and lending ground to a halt as banks reported massive losses on mortgage-backed securities. more

Fukushima radiation impact all of humanity: Michio Kaku

Evacuation orders to remain in effect in Fukushima, Japan

The government has decided to have Prime Minister Naoto Kan explain to municipalities near the Fukushima Daiichi plant that exclusion orders in some areas will remain in effect due to high levels of radiation.

The government had planned to consider lifting exclusion orders within 20 kilometers from the plant after cold shutdown of the reactors has been achieved.

However, it has decided to keep off-limits the areas where it is not safe for people to return home for a long time.

Areas subject to the measure are those quite close to the plant and where radiation levels remain very high.

The government will arrange for Kan to explain to affected municipalities that exclusion orders will likely remain in effect for a long time and about how the government will support the former residents. more

"Don't talk to the police, even if you're innocent" -- Is the 5th Amendment the only way now for citizens to stay out of jail?

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PART TWO:


PART THREE:

Layoffs sweep Wall Street, along with low morale

In early summer, before layoffs began sweeping across Wall Street, billboard-sized photos of employees were plastered on the walls, pillars and elevator banks of Credit Suisse Group AG's offices in the United States and abroad.

The museum-quality prints, depicting workers from administrative assistants to senior executives, were emblazoned with motivational words like "Proactive" and "Partner." By mid-July, however, the photos disappeared and the Swiss banking giant began laying off 2,000 employees.

Security guards prevented employees from taking cell-phone pictures as the posters were stripped away, according to one employee who was present.

"It sent an entirely wrong message," said an employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly. "Management literally threw away that kind of money on something so trivial, while planning to cut thousands of jobs."

A bank spokeswoman declined to comment on the internal campaign or the employee's comments. more

Couple sued by neighbour Foroozan Panahandeh for £20,000 over 'minor accident' outside house (and now are bankrupt and have to sell their home)

Victim care worker Foroozan Panahandeh, 45, claimed she was floored by a two foot length of plastic guttering which fell three feet onto her as she put out her bins.

She then took out a negligence claim against next door neighbours Brendan Hodgkiss and his partner Cynthia Parker, both 52, who had bought their local authority property in Prestwich, Manchester under the right to buy scheme - four months after the incident.

In a misspelt letter to Mr Hodgkiss, solicitors for Essex-based Holmes and Hills said: ''It is alleged that the accident was caused my (sic) the negligence of yourself, your servants or agents. My client suffered an injury to her neck, left shoulder and knee.''

In a series of medical reports Mrs Panahandeh, an Iranian married mother of two who arrived in the UK in 1992 to complete a chemistry Masters degree then told how she suffered ''moderate to severe'' pain over three years after the incident.

She said the injury meant she had problems working on a computer, was unable to go jogging or play volleyball again and had even been forced to abandon her weekly hobby of knitting.

She said she was unable to apply makeup or wash her hair a week after the accident and claimed she found it ''too much trouble'' washing in the shower.

Mrs Panahandeh initially sued Mr Hodgkiss, Mrs Parker and also Salford City Council which owned the property at the time of the incident claiming negligence and ''breach of statutory duty.

The civil action was discontinued against the local authority for undisclosed reasons in May 2010 at Salford County Court but a judge later ordered the couple to pay damages and costs totalling £20,254.81 plus interest. more

'India using 9/11 as excuse for stirring up trouble in Balochistan'

Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on Sunday said the only issue he had with New Delhi was related to Kashmir and reiterated that terrorism was “un-Islamic”. In an exclusive interview to Geo News, a Karachi-based news channel, he charged India with using 9/11 as a pretext to enter Afghanistan and use its territory to stir trouble in Balochistan.

Mr. Saeed said he favoured the resolution of the Kashmir issue through dialogue, but that New Delhi had time and again displayed its unwillingess to resolve the matter under any circumstances.

“Our issue with India is specific to Kashmir and the way it has treated the Kashmiri people. From the Kashmir issue stems the water problems facing Pakistan and the construction of dams by India on rivers running into Pakistan. And, we speak openly against it,” the JuD chief said. He said the world recognised Kashmir to be a flashpoint. more