Thursday, September 1, 2011

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake GREATER LOS ANGELES AREA, CALIFORNIA - 1st September 2011

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the Greater Los Angeles Area, California at a depth of 7.3 km (4.5 miles), the quake hit at 20:47:07 UTC Thursday 1st September 2011.
The epicenter was 6 km ( 4 miles) Southeast of Newhall, California
No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU- 1st September 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 95.6 km (59.4 miles), the quake hit at 20:08:58 UTC Thursday 1st September 2011.
The epicenter was 76 km ( 47 miles) South of Port-Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Chinese General: China Could Be Planning Surprise Missile Attack on United States

A retired Chinese general recently revealed that his country might be planning a surprise missile attack on the United States. The public comment of Xu Guangyu came in response to WikiLeaks revelations that last year Washington had warned its allies beforehand of China’s test of a missile interceptor.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a classified cable sent last January 9th, instructed American embassies in Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand to notify those countries of upcoming Chinese launches two days later. The cable included details of the launch sites for the interceptor and the target, the models of the missiles, the purpose of the test, and the test date.

Yesterday, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post carried comments from Xu, now at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, to the effect that American satellites would have detected activity at the launch sites but that some of the information in the cables—specifically the types of missiles and the day of the test—must have come from a source on the ground. WikiLeaks’s release of this cable, revealing one or more American spies in China’s strategic missile corps, is perhaps the website’s most significant compromise of US security to date.

The Hong Kong paper noted that Xu said that “if China could no longer keep secret its missile launches, it would not be able to launch a surprise attack on the US.” more

Please note: original article is receiving so much traffic that we've switched to the Prison Planet article. The original story can be found at the link at the bottom of the Prison Planet page.

3 Pakistani soldiers killed in cross-border firing with India

Three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers were killed this week in a cross-border firefight between Pakistan and India, officials said Thursday.

The soldiers were moving from one post to another along the border when they came under fire by Indian forces, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, Pakistan army spokesman.

Since a cease-fire is in effect, the firing by Indian forces was unprovoked, Abbas said. But Pakistani forces retaliated after the shots were fired, he said.

It was unclear whether the incident took place late Tuesday or Wednesday, as Pakistani and Indian officials provided different times.

Lt. Col. J.S. Brar, Indian defense spokesman for the disputed Kashmir region, said there were two violations of the cease-fire on the Line of Control, the de facto border between Indian- and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. In the first, fighting continued for about an hour, he said. A second violation took place Thursday morning, he said, and one Indian soldier was injured. Brar said he could not comment on Pakistani casualties. more

WikiLeaks: Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head -- Evidence mounting that US troops engaging in random executions in Iraq

A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.

The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks' website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.

But Philip Alston, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a communication to American officials dated 12 days after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies performed in the Iraqi city of Tikrit showed that all the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children. The children were all 5 years old or younger.

Reached by email Wednesday, Alston said that as of 2010 — the most recent data he had — U.S. officials hadn't responded to his request for information and that Iraq's government also hadn't been forthcoming. He said the lack of response from the United States "was the case with most of the letters to the U.S. in the 2006-2007 period," when fighting in Iraq peaked. more

Las Vegas City Officials leave Sin City like Rats fleeing the Ship

At least 18 upper-level employees have resigned or have taken buyouts in the past couple of years, including a city attorney, a city manager, a utilities director and both the director and assistant director of finance.
The city hasn't replaced some of those staffers; it can't afford to.

Instead it has consolidated departments and named some lower-tier employees "acting" department heads who are expected to assume the duties of several people.

"It's stressful," Mayor Shari Buck said. "The loss is to the citizens and the services we're able to provide."

It also results in a sort of professional "brain drain" as executives with strong résumés, skills and connections leave the city, said Christine G. Springer, a North Las Vegas resident and director of UNLV's executive master's degree program in crisis and emergency management. more

"Where are the 2.5 Million Jobs, Mr. President?"

A job is not something you defer thinking about, when you don't have one, Mr. President. Now that you're back from vacation, I'm not looking forward to your jobs speech. I lie awake at night worrying about my two cousins and a friend of thirty years -- one lost a small business, the second is watching his business go down the tubes, and the third, who supports her handicapped daughter, can't find a job. Another friend tells me her son who graduated college a year ago can't find work. He feels like a total failure in life as only a 22-year-old can, and she is worried about him. One of his jobless college friends recently committed suicide. None of these people I love and worry about show up in the unemployment statistics.

Unemployment at 10% barely indicates the number of people in serious trouble, and the depth of the trouble they are in.

I also know two people who benefitted from the stimulus project. A mentally ill woman in my writers group received a grant to fly to California and lead a creativity workshop for schizophrenics. She was thrilled. The staff geologists in the nearby national park got a chunk of taxpayer money which they used to erect some monitors in the wilderness, part of an existing research project on seismic activity. The extra monitors weren't necessary, but they were pleased to have them.

Do you know anyone whose job was created or saved by the $800 billion in government spending? It's only likely if you're friends with a teacher, since more than two thirds of the stimulus funds went to schools, where they propped up unsustainable salary packages for one short year. At the end of the year the school districts were facing bankruptcy again, and forced to do teacher layoffs. It would have been healthier for the economy, and avoided layoffs, if all states had followed Governor Walker's reforms in Wisconsin instead of wasting half a trillion dollars. more

Germany Acts Alone: Self-Important Approach Worries Berlin's Allies

Germany's neighbors and allies are growing increasingly concerned about Berlin's foreign policy direction. Some even fear that efforts to export its fiscal ideas could mean the prosperous country has lost sight of the European idea. Or worse yet, that it wants to dominate the currency union.

The euro has failed, though more politically than economically, according to an article in the September edition of US magazine Vanity Fair. "Conceived as a tool for integrating Germany into Europe, and preventing Germans from dominating others, it has become the opposite," financial journalist and author Michael Lewis writes. "For better or for worse, the Germans now own Europe."

The fact that a reunited Germany has weathered the Western world's financial crisis with ease, at least so far, has made its neighbors and friends uneasy. In the political salons of Washington and Paris, from Brussels to Madrid, and inside political broadsheets and think tanks, people are asking whether the new Germany is altering its foreign policy. Is Berlin turning away from the European Union, or is it the opposite, that it wants to use the currency to gain control of the entire continent -- something it couldn't do with weapons?

Geostrategists point to the emergence of a power imbalance, along with possible new conflicts between rival countries. In a guest commentary published by The New York Times last week, Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticized Germany's approach. "Germany's recent failure to act from a position of strength endangers not only the country itself, but the entire euro project that Germany has spent decades developing," he wrote. Other commentators complain that Germany is once again veering towards unilateralism, and some, mainly in Britain, are even referring to a "Fourth Reich." But at the heart of this debate remains the question: Where is Germany headed? more

"Italy Is Burning and No One Is Putting It Out": Der Spiegel

With a players' strike currently occupying the thoughts of soccer-mad Italians, it's perhaps appropriate that Silvio Berlusconi has moved the goalposts over the debt-ridden country's austerity package. The Italian prime minister and his coalition have agreed to a raft of changes to the proposed budget, including scrapping a tax on the rich, in a move which has led to confusion in the financial markets and could well result in a confrontation with the European Central Bank.

Berlusconi and his allies issued a revision of the proposed austerity measures late on Monday following widespread public anger over the original plans. There were already more than 1,000 amendments by Tuesday morning. The changes include reducing cuts to municipalities, decreasing the amount of lawmakers and changing the way pensions are calculated, which would delay retirement for many Italians.

The Bank of Italy warned on Tuesday that the revamped austerity package must not result in a reduction to the original €45.5 billion ($65.9 billion) of belt-tightening measures, and said that the plan could send Italy into economic stagnation. The bank's deputy chief Ignazio Visco told parliament committees that he was hoping the response to the changes in the markets "isn't too penalizing." He also warned that regardless of the measures, growth might be less than 1 percent this year and even lower in 2012, meaning achieving a balanced budget might be even more difficult. more

Some US firms paid more to CEOs than taxes: Study

Twenty-five of the 100 highest paid US CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax, a pay study said on Wednesday.

It also found many of the companies spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

At a time when lawmakers are facing tough choices in a quest to slash the national debt, the report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a left-leaning Washington think tank, quickly hit a nerve.

After reading it, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, called for hearings on executive compensation.

In a letter to that committee's chairman, Republican Darrell Issa, Cummings asked "to examine the extent to which the problems in CEO compensation that led to the economic crisis continue to exist today."

He also asked "why CEO pay and corporate profits are skyrocketing while worker pay stagnates and unemployment remains unacceptably high," and "the extent to which our tax code may be encouraging these growing disparities." more

U.S. lost billions to waste and fraud in war spending, panel says

The U.S. has lost billions of dollars to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and stands to repeat that in future wars without big changes in how the government awards and manages contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction projects, independent investigators said Wednesday.

The Wartime Contracting Commission urged Congress and the Obama administration to quickly put in place its recommendations to overhaul the contracting process and increase accountability. The commission even suggested that the joint House-Senate debt reduction committee take a close look at the proposals.

“What you're asking for is more of the same,” said Dov Zakheim, a commission member and the Pentagon comptroller during President George W. Bush's first term. “More waste. More fraud. More abuse.”

The bipartisan commission, created by Congress in 2008, estimated that at least $31 billion and as much as $60 billion has been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning, inadequate competition and corruption. “I personally believe that the number is much, much closer to $60 billion,” Mr. Zakheim said. more

Canadian firms look to restart Libyan operations: Add another vulture to the overhead circle...

Canadian companies are plotting their return to Libya as the revolution that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi takes hold and the world plans its support for the new rebel authority.

The first hurdle to international firms wishing to capitalize on Libya’s oil could fall toward the end of this week when economic sanctions put in place in February to choke off the regime could be lifted.

Flowing from that will be a careful political and security assessment by multinationals to ensure it’s safe to send tens of thousands of foreign workers back into the war-ravaged country.

When the crisis began in Libya, multinational firms scrambled to get their employees to safety in Egypt and Tunisia. Refugee camps sprung up in the country and western militaries were called in to run evacuation flights.

“As I’m sure you would expect, we’re watching the situation extremely carefully and waiting to see how it all unfolds,” said Kelli Stevens, a spokesperson with Calgary-based Suncor.

“The biggest thing is that if we were to go back we would want to do so safely, responsibly, in compliance with sanctions.”

The energy firm, working in partnership with the state-owned National Oil Corporation, was producing about 50,000 barrels of oil a day before the uprising. more

Strong Quake Aftershock Shakes Virginia

Central Virginia has been shaken by another aftershock from last week's earthquake that rattled the East Coast.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports a 3.4 magnitude aftershock at 5:09 a.m. Thursday. The epicenter was 4 miles south-southeast of Mineral.

Mineral was the epicenter of last Tuesday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake. More than 20 aftershocks ranging from 4.5 to 1.8 have followed the earthquake.

Aftershocks are smaller tremors that take place in the weeks and possibly months following a major earthquake like the one centered in Virginia. source

Richard Bialczak Accused of Assault With a Live Power Line

While danger from Mother Nature’s fury was blowing away from the region Sunday, police said a man-made act of road rage took place in Silver Spring, Md.

A College Park man was accused of attacking a motorist with a live power line knocked down by Hurricane Irene. According to authorities, on Sunday a 32-year-old Richard Bialczak tailed a man with his car and then got out and attacked him.

Derek Edwards, 28, was driving home from work when Bialczak's car came up closely behind him. Edwards said he tried to get away from Bialczak, but the suspect matched him turn for turn, until they reached a downed power line, still charged with electricity, which had been blown into the road by the poweful storm.

Police said Edwards got out of his vehicle to warn Bialczak in the car behind him of the danger. When he did, authorities allege the College Park man got out of his car and threatened the victim, who quickly retreated back into his car. Bialczak was heavily intoxicated, according to investigators.

Police said Bialczak then got back into his car and started ramming the victim's vehicle repeatedly, seemingly in an attempt to push the victim's car closer to the downed power line. Police said the suspect then got out and started hammering Edwards' car with both his feet and his fists. In the assault, police said Bialczak tore off the car's antenna and then wrestled off the victim's bumper. more

Hope and despair at a Los Angeles job fair

The Faith Dome at Crenshaw Christian Center was the perfect venue for Wednesday's For the People job fair initiative.

It's not just that it holds 10,000 people — and almost half of those seats were filled. It's that something more than logic and reason is required to stoke hope in times like these.

The hopefuls began lining up along Vermont Avenue hours before the church doors opened for the job fair at 9 a.m. Men in pressed slacks and sports jackets, women with high heels peeking from their purses and flip-flops on their feet for standing. A few folks were pushing babies in strollers; one guy was holding the front wheel of the bicycle he had ridden there from Inglewood.

Almost everyone in line was black; all of them clutching briefcases, clipboards or binders, with resumes they hoped to exchange for business cards from would-be employers.

I weaved through a queue that stretched for blocks, asking how they felt and why they had come. One woman seemed to sum it up best: "To fill out applications, leave our resumes and let them know we're hungry."

Hungry in a literal way, for some — those who have been out of work so long, they need food banks and donated clothes to get by.

But I sensed a different kind of hunger in the crowd too — a need for reassurance that, as a preacher would promise from the pulpit that morning, "You are not going to stay down!"

It was impossible to stand among these folks and not feel profoundly grateful for a job that, most days, I enjoy. I could feel desperation vibrating from the crowd like heat waves from a sun-scorched sidewalk. more

US productivity falls in spring, labor costs rise

Worker productivity in the United States fell this spring more quickly than previously estimated while labor costs were rising at a faster clip. Both developments could pose threats to a fragile economic recovery.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the April-June period, a bigger drop than the 0.3 percent decline reported a month ago. Labor costs rose at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, faster than the 2.4 percent increase originally reported.

The changes reflected downward revisions made last week to overall economic growth which showed the economy's output barely growing in the spring. Declining productivity, if it persists for a prolonged period, would represent a serious economic threat while rising labor costs would cut into corporate profits.

Economists are forecasting that productivity will slow over the next couple of years while labor costs will increase. However, they don't see these developments as worrisome during the current period of high unemployment and weak income growth. more

Phil Ray Gage: 4:30 a.m. mowing leads to Oklahoma City man's arrest

An Oklahoma City man said he was doing a good deed when he was arrested and cited for mowing his yard and a neighbor's yard Friday morning.

Phil Ray Gage, 40, was arrested on a complaint of disturbing the peace after a neighbor called police to report him for mowing a lawn at 2529 NW 33 at 4:30 a.m., Oklahoma City police said.

He was released by police at the scene after he signed a citation for disturbing the peace.

But Gage said he's been mowing in the early morning hours for 10 years, and nobody has complained before.

He said when he was arrested he was in the process of finishing up mowing his neighbor's yard.

“When the officer came up to me she asked me if I knew it was illegal to mow at that time of day,” Gage said. “I thought she was cracking a joke. Then she told me to get up against the car, and she put cuffs on me.”

Gage said he mows in the early morning hours because of the heat and because it fits his work schedule best.

Gage said the light from his neighbor's yard and his yard provides enough light for him to mow.

“I'm a carpenter, so I have to mow when I can,” he said. “That time is just what works best because of the heat and my job.” more

Los Vegas Unemployment now 20%: Poverty crisis in US gambling paradise

The first people arrived when it was still dark and by 7.30am more than 150 of them were queuing outside the church in north-east Las Vegas, waiting for the food bank truck to unload its cargo of fruit, vegetables and tinned goods.

The crowd was predominantly Latino and African American: many of them elderly, the rest women with young children. With the temperature approaching 35C (95F), most sought refuge in the shade. Some fanned themselves with baseball caps or carried umbrellas to protect themselves from the desert sun.

Debate is raging in Washington about how to bring jobs back, with President Barack Obama to outline a new plan before a joint session of Congress on September 7. But in Las Vegas, the tourist town and gambling paradise, an alarming number of people are focused on where their next meal will come from.

Nevada leads the US in unemployment – 12.4 per cent of its working population have no job – and in mortgage foreclosures, which has sparked a poverty crisis. The state has the highest rate of children whose parents are unemployed, according to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It also has a larger proportion of children affected by foreclosures than anywhere else in the US: about 13 per cent of all children in Nevada have been evicted from their homes with their families. more

Michael Allison Faces Life In Jail For Recording Police



41-year old Illinois mechanic Michael Allison faces life in jail for recording police officers after authorities hit him with eavesdropping charges based on the hoax that it is illegal to film cops, a misnomer that has been disproved by every other case against people filming police officers being thrown out of court.

The state of Illinois is trying to charge Allison with five counts of wiretapping, each punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Allison refused a plea deal which would have seen him serve no jail time but would reinforce the hoax that it is illegal to film police officers, as well as acting as a chilling effect to prevent other Americans from filming cases of police brutality.

Allison has chosen to reject the plea bargain and fight to clear his name via a jury trial, arguing, “If we don’t fight for our freedoms here at home we’re all going to lose them.” more

Hear, hear.

2 out of 3 Americans feel Obama has failed to fix US Economy

Only a third of all Americans approve of how President Barack Obama is handling the economy, according to a new national survey.

And with a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicating that more than three-quarters of the public say the country is in bad shape right now, there's little wonder why the president is getting such low marks.

According to the poll, released Wednesday morning, 28% of people questioned say things are going well in the country today.

"That may be a slight uptick from early August but it still represents a double-digit drop from earlier this year," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And it's clear that economic jitters are a drag on President Obama's standing with the voting public." more

Iranian nuclear bid could provoke attack: France

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy warned on Wednesday that Iran's alleged attempts to build long-range missiles and nuclear weapons could lead unnamed countries to launch a pre-emptive attack.

"Its military nuclear and ballistic ambitions constitute a growing threat that may lead to a preventive attack against Iranian sites that would provoke a major crisis that France wants to avoid at all costs," he said.

Sarkozy did not say which country might launch such a strike, but it has been reported that Israel -- perhaps with US support -- has considered bombing Iranian nuclear sites if it believes Tehran is close to building a weapon.

The French leader placed the blame for the crisis on Iran, which insists it has no intention of building a nuclear weapon, and is merely enriching nuclear fuel for medicial research and a domestic atomic energy programme.

"Iran refuses to negotiate seriously," he told an annual meeting of French diplomats. "Iran is carrying out new provocations in response to the challenge from the international community for it to provide a credible response."

Sarkozy said France would work with its allies to build support for tougher international sanctions against Tehran's Islamist regime, in a bid to force it to back down over its enrichment programme. more

Second giant ice island set to break off Greenland glacier: Scientists "astonished"

New photographs taken of a vast glacier in northern Greenland have revealed the astonishing rate of its breakup, with one scientist saying he was rendered "speechless."

In August 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier about four times the size of Manhattan island broke off , prompting a hearing in Congress.

Researcher Alun Hubbard, of the Centre for Glaciology at Aberystwyth University, U.K., told msnbc.com by phone that another section, about twice the size of Manhattan, appeared close to breaking off.

In 2009, scientists installed GPS masts on the glacier to track its movement.

But when they returned in July this year, they found the ice had been melting so quickly — at an unexpected 16-and-a-half feet in two years — that some of the masts stuck into the glacier were no longer in position.

China confronts Indian navy vessel

A Chinese warship confronted an Indian navy vessel shortly after it left a Vietnamese port in late July in the first such encounter between the two countries’ navies in the South China Sea.

The unidentified Chinese warship demanded that India’s INS Airavat, an amphibious assault vessel, identify itself and explain its presence in what it said were Chinese waters, shortly after it completed a scheduled port call in Vietnam.

Indian officials said the ship was 45 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast, considered to be within Vietnam’s economic zone, when it was hailed by the Chinese vessel on July 22. It was travelling from the southern Vietnamese port of Nha Trang to the northern city of Hai Phong.

Vishnu Prakash, the top foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday said the Indian ship had been “contacted on open radio channel by a caller identifying himself as the ‘Chinese Navy’ stating that ‘you are entering Chinese waters’”. more

FEMA'S use of term 'federal family' for government expands under Obama

Don’t think of it as the federal government but as your “federal family.”

In a Category 4 torrent of official communications during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has repeatedly used the phrase “federal family” when describing the Obama administration’s response to the storm.

The Obama administration didn’t invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights.

“Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast,” a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.

The G-word — “government” — has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local “partners” as well as “offices” and “personnel.”

“'Government’ is such a dirty word right now,” says Florida State University communication professor Davis Houck. “Part of what the federal government does and any elected official does is change the terms of the language game into terms that are favorable to them.”

“Family” can evoke favorable thoughts of motherhood and security. But it can also conjure images of Big Brother and organized crime. more

Eurozone manufacturing output shrinks in August

Manufacturing activity in the eurozone shrank in August by more than initially thought, a survey has indicated.

Final data for the Markit Manufacturing PMI index fell to 49 from 50.4 in July, below initial estimates of 49.7. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

August's figure is the lowest recorded in two years.

Markit said new orders fell across all 17 countries in the bloc, while job creation grew at its slowest rate for almost a year.

Germany's manufacturing sector was the strongest in the eurozone at 50.9, while Greece's was the weakest, at 43.3.

The French, Italian and Spanish manufacturing sectors all contracted. Outside the eurozone, UK factory activity also shrank.

"Final PMI data for August were even worse than the earlier disappointing flash numbers, signalling an end to the manufacturing recovery which began in 2009," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

"Worryingly, Germany saw new export orders fall at the fastest rate of all countries surveyed, meaning the eurozone can no longer rely on export-led growth in its largest member state to help sustain even a lacklustre recovery for the region as a whole." more

New Stealth Boat Glides Over Gas Layer

A new kind of boat is designed to move quickly and stealthily through water by generating a layer of gas around its underwater surfaces.

The design reduces friction by a factor of 900, according to the New Hampshire company that produced the boat. Its smooth speed makes it ideal for special operations. It could also revolutionize shipping.

Juliet Marine recently unveiled the Ghost, a ship it says can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. The shape of the craft is similar to earlier attempts at making watercraft less visible to radar -- notably the Navy's "Sea Shadow" project of the 1980s.

Gregory Sancoff, President and CEO of Juliet Marine, says this boat is a quantum leap beyond those early designs. "The Sea Shadow was an 11-knot craft," he said. "This is much faster." more

Banks lying to get homeowners to sign on, and destroying the American Dream in the process

Saadi, one of Gaddafi's sons, might join the Libyan rebels' leadership?

Muammar Gaddafi played his part of humble nomad achieving dubious dignity and fame with aplomb. Not so, his third son Saadi.

Saadi turned coat in a twinkling. Few Gaddafi names are as familiar and, yet, oddly as unimportant as that of Saadi. He is neither an academic nor has he intellectual pretensions like his elder brother Seif Al-Islam. Neither is he a generalissimo and militaristic freak like Khamis. His passion is the football pitch.

Alas, Saadi did not excel at the beautiful game even though he became captain of the Libyan national football team and president of the Libyan Football Federation. He was also on the board of the Italian team Juventus and played with the Libyan team Al-Ahly Tripoli and signed for the Italian Serie A team Perugia in 2003. However, he did not participate in a single game.

Still, Saadi was commander of Libya's Special Forces under his father's regime and INTERPOL issued an arrest warrant against him. But news that he is negotiating surrendering to the National Transitional Council (NTC) and joining forces with them, and even hinting at notifying his father's adversaries as to his whereabouts, came as a complete surprise to everyone, including the NTC leadership who welcomed Saadi's daring overtures as a coup de grace and an unanticipated manna from heavens above.

Saadi will undoubtedly fill in a lot of map, especially if he discloses the whereabouts of his father to the NTC and s head of his father's special forces will no doubt supply Libya's new rulers with precious intelligence and military information. more

Ernest Vassell Mentally disabled since he was a child shot dead by police while playing with a TOY GUN after 911 calls from terrified neighbours

A mentally disabled man has been shot dead by police because he was playing with a toy gun.

Police gunned down Ernest Vassell after residents, who saw a man carrying what appeared to be a rifle, called 911.

Authorities said they had to fire as Vassell was terrorising the neighbourhood in North Miami Beach, Florida.

But devastated family members say the 56-year old, who had been mentally disabled since he was a child, had been had never been violent.

Police spokesman Sgt. Warren Hardison said there was an encounter with the man and officers and shots were fired. He was taken by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Vassell's devastated family is now demanding answers. Older sister Claire Harding said that her bortehr was autistic. She said: 'They murdered him in cold blood for a toy gun. That's no reason for you to kill somebody.' Read More

What if the Nazis had invaded America? Maps in 1942 Life issue imagined nightmare scenario of Hitler invasion of the U.S. - 1st Sept 2011

They are nightmare scenarios which, with hindsight, offer interesting insight into the fears of those living through World War Two.

For those in 1942 who first viewed these imagined Nazi plans for the invasion of America, though, the threat would have been all too real.

Detailed maps have emerged online showing how experts at the time predicted Nazi forces might try to annex the U.S.

Created in the months after Pearl Harbor, they were published in the March 2 issue of Life as a warning to readers that America was no longer an observer of the Second World War.

The varied diagrams show different options which would have been available to the Germans - from invasion across the Atlantic to the East Coast to the imagined bombing of the Panama Canal before launching at attack via Japan from the West. Read More

Black farmers in South Africa cash in by selling land given to them by the government... back to whites who originally owned the farms

South Africa's black farmers are cashing on their once white-owned farmland - by selling it back to its original owners.

The South African government has spent a fortune trying to redistribute the country's land wealth from the white minority to the black majority.

It has bought thousands of hectares of white owned farm land and either given it or sold it on to poor blacks.

But yesterday the country's minister of land reform admitted that many of the new black farmers have simply resold the land back to the original owners.

Gugile Nkwinti said black farmers have resold nearly 30 per cent of the white farmland bought for them by the government.

He said: 'The government bought land and handed it over to aspirant farmers who then sold it again, in many instances back to the original owner.'

Land economists say that the redistribution policy is highly inefficient as the white-owned land is often bought at above its market value by the government.

After the land has been given, or sold at a discount, to the new black owner, he is able to simply then able to sell it on.

This means that both farmers - black and white - are able to turn a profit from the government's involvement. Read More

North Korea launches its first Cruise liner (where cabins are shared and the ship is rusty) - 1st Sept 2011

The liner is rusty, the cabins are cramped and the Captain's Table is a help yourself buffet.

But though the surroundings are less than glamorous, North Korea hopes to launch itself into the world of cruising with ageing liner the Mangyongbong.

The former cargo ship set sail on its maiden tour yesterday carrying about 130 passengers from the rundown port of Rajin, near the China-Russia border.

Some 500 North Koreans, about half dressed in dark workers clothes and the others in office and traditional attire, waved off the ship in a choreographed performance on the pot-holed dock.

The spectators waved North Koreans flags and fake flowers, and let off a blast of paper fireworks to mark the occasion. Carnival music blared from two minivans with speakers on their roofs.

Before the launch, vice mayor Hwang Chol-nam of Rason City, of which Rajin port is a part, gave a speech lauding the venture as part of the region’s push to attract tourism.

Hwang hailed his city’s rule which allows any nationality to visit the area visa-free. They must, however, arrange the trip through a designated tour companies. Mobile phones must be left behind in China. Read More

Ex-NHLer Belak committed suicide: sources -- Why are hockey players suddenly committing suicide?

A sad off-season in the National Hockey League continued with the death of former Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames tough guy Wade Belak, who took his own life, multiple sources told CBC News late Wednesday.

Belak, who played parts of 14 seasons in the NHL with five teams and had retired on March 8, was found in the 1 King West Hotel and Residence, just blocks from the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto at about 1:40 p.m. ET, according to local police. He was 35.

Born in Saskatoon and raised in Battleford, Sask., Belak is the third NHL player to die in less than four months.

In mid-May, New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, 28, was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment from a drug overdose, while forward Rick Rypien was found in his Alberta home earlier this month. The one-time Vancouver Canuck, who was suffering from depression, took his own life. more

102 die in Nigeria after dam collapse, flooding

Flooding has claimed 102 lives in southwestern Nigeria, where a dam burst and a river overflowed near the city of Ibadan, officials said Wednesday.

A rain deluge from Friday night to early Saturday caused the Odo Ona River to overflow and the Eleyele dam to collapse, said Yushau Shuaib of the government's National Emergency Management Agency.

Several homes were swept away and temporary camps were set up, Shuaib said.

The Nigerian Red Cross, which is helping in the crisis, said earlier this week that more victims could still be found in remote areas that rescue teams have not reached.

The government is delivering aid to people displaced by the flooding in Ibadan and surrounding areas in Oyo state, the National Emergency Management Agency said.

Thousands of people have been displaced, and about 1,500 of them are being looked after in centers run by government officials and the Red Cross in the Ibadan area, Red Cross spokesman Umar Mairiga told CNN on Tuesday. more

Bahrain streets tense after boy's death and funeral: Reignition of the Arab Spring?



Thousands of people took to the streets in Bahrain Thursday as the funeral took place for a 14-year-old boy whose death a day earlier sparked wide anger, witnesses say.

Clashes broken out overnight between Shiite Muslim protesters and police, after witnesses said they saw Ali Jawad al-Sheikh collapse after riot police fired a tear-gas round at him and other protesters in Sitra, southwest of the capital Manama.

But Nabeel Rajab, president of Bahrain's Center for Human Rights, who was at the funeral, said the procession had remained calm, with no outbreaks of violence.

He told CNN crowds of people had gathered from the early morning but that police had pulled out from the entire area, using helicopters instead to monitor the situation.

Rajab predicted larger protests demanding political reform would take place later Thursday.

"We expect to see protesters out tonight. The February 14 Movement called for a protest tonight in Manama and places around Manama," he said, adding that tensions had been building in the past three to four weeks, as people lost hope of achieving a political solution to the country's problems. more

Rights group details death, torture in Syrian detentions

Amnesty International released a report Wednesday documenting the deaths of at least 88 detainees in Syria during this year's uprising against the government, including many who were apparently tortured.

At least 52 of the victims' bodies showed evidence of torture, the human rights group said.

"Injuries on many of the victims' corpses indicate that they may have suffered horrendous beatings and other abuses," Amnesty said. "Signs indicating torture include burns, blunt force injuries, whipping marks and slashes."

All the victims were male, with some as young as 13, the group said.

"The accounts of torture we have received are horrific," said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty's Syria researcher. "We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale."

Syrian government officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the allegations.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, had done "irreparable" damage in his government's crackdown on anti-government protests.

Speaking to French diplomats in Paris, Sarkozy pledged that France and its allies will do everything legally possible to help the Syrian people achieve freedom and democracy. more

Residents review 'devastating' damage as waters recede in Vermont



Ten-foot-high flood waters poured through Eileen Ranslow's 40-year-old flooring business in Wilmington when Irene struck Vermont over the weekend.

The family business, where revenue has dwindled in the economic downturn, now faces at least $300,000 in damage.

"It's devastating. It's devastating," Ranslow said, her voice cracking.

She is not alone, as the effect of Irene continues to be felt in flood-ravaged communities along the U.S. East Coast.

Irene killed 43 people from Florida to New England as it marched up the Eastern Seaboard over the weekend, dumping torrential rain. Some of the worst flooding struck Vermont, New Jersey and upstate New York.

Flood advisories remained in place Thursday for portions of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina.

The extent of the damage in upstate New York has become more evident in the days since Irene, where the storm battered a cluster of communities 50 miles southwest of Albany. more

Apple attacked over pollution in China

Chinese environmental groups have accused Apple suppliers in the country of systemic pollution, underscoring the pressures on one of the world's biggest companies as opposition grows in China to environmental degradation as the cost of economic growth.

In a report released on Wednesday, five Chinese non-governmental organisations said the US technology company was using suppliers with public records of environmental violations and taking "advantage of the loopholes in developing countries' environmental management systems".

The accusations escalate a standoff between Apple and Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a co-author of the report, which is threatening to damage Apple's image. The groups have sought to persuade 29 big electronics brands over the past year to work with them on containing pollution in their supply chain, but singled out Apple as unresponsive. more

Foul play unlikely in B.C. foot find: Canada -- So why are all these feet appearing?

Foul play is not suspected in the case of the latest foot to wash ashore in B.C., the provincial Coroners Service says.

“These human remains did not show any evidence of trauma whatsoever,” coroner Stephen Fonseca told a news conference Wednesday.

An 11-year-old boy spotted a left running shoe attached to a foot and part of a leg floating off a marina dock in Vancouver’s False Creek Tuesday evening.

The youngster notified Ron van Streun, who runs harbour cruises out of the marina.

Van Streun said he didn’t believe the boy at first but then retrieved the remains from the water and called police.

“The only thing we have ever seen in False Creek Marina is seals, the occasional sea otter and one whale,” van Streun said.

Fonseca said his job now is to try to figure out who the remains belong to and how they got there. more

Gulf of Mexico seabed one year after BP disaster

It has been about a year since BP sealed the oil well that had been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Renewed exploration and drilling is in the news this week with deals being discussed in Russia, Alaska, India, and even off the shores of Cuba. But has the international business community learned enough from the Gulf Oil Spill one year later?

A U.S. biochemist and scholar says no way, and argues that more protections and protocols must be put in place.

Dr. Samantha (Mandy) Joye and a group of scientists from the U.S. states of Georgia and Florida are studying the sea-floor in the same area where the Deepwater Horizon well blew out. With specialized robotic cameras, the scientists have been able to get a clear look at what lies beneath, and it's a slimy, soupy mess.

While her favorite place has to be on board the research vessel, I caught up with Dr. Joye in her Athens, Georgia office at the University of Georgia's Department of Marine Sciences to talk about her research.

Her team has found that a lot of the oil from the spill has settled to the seafloor and the result has been devastating to some of the smallest components of sea life. more

Gadhafi's foreign minister surrenders to rebels



As Libya's National Transitional Council meets Thursday with international leaders in Paris, the rebels chalked up another victory at home: the surrender of a key member of Moammar Gadhafi's circle.

Gadhafi's foreign minister, Abdel Ati al-Obeidi, had been contacting the council for the past few days and surrendered Wednesday night, council member Elamin Belhaj told CNN.

"He is in a safe location now and al-Obeidi is satisfied with it," Belhaj said.

Earlier, Abdulraheem El-Keib, another council member, had said rebels captured al-Obeidi.

But the big question remained: Where is Gadhafi himself?

The Algerian foreign minister said Thursday that the fugitive leader was not in his country. And a man claiming to be Gadhafi's son said "the leader is fine."

"We are fighting and we are drinking tea and drinking coffee and sitting with our families and fighting," said an audio message from a man who identified himself as Saif al-Islam Gadhafi on Syria's Rai TV. more

Dog boom as China's attitudes on pets, palates change (although gross animal abuses still take place)

When Shenzhen housewife Zhang Lin was growing up in rural Guangdong province, her family kept guard dogs, some of which were slaughtered for meat during the Lunar New Year.

Now she is the owner of Dou-dou, a high-energy miniature poodle she bought for 4,000 yuan ($626), more than triple this southern Chinese city's monthly minimum wage. She never eats dog meat and treats Dou-dou like her child.

"Growing up, we always had dogs around, but their purpose was [for] meat and guarding the house," Zhang said. "Dou-dou is my companion."

Zhang regularly takes Dou-dou to King Glory Plaza, a large public square dominated by an upscale shopping mall, where the Shenzhen middle class come out to play. At night, the square is filled with children whizzing by on roller-skates and couples relaxing on benches, as well as with China's newest beneficiaries of economic growth: dogs. Poodles, huskies, Labradors run off leash, tails wagging and tongues flailing, as their owners share health and grooming tips. Despite Shenzhen's tiny apartments, most of the dogs at the square are large breeds. more

Children victims of violence in Mexico



Walt Disney World: The Government's Tomorrowland? Why do theme parks need fingerprint, facial recognition technology?

Walt Disney World, which bills itself as one of the happiest and most magical places anywhere, also may be one of the most closely watched and secure. And control over park entrances is getting even tighter: the nation's most popular tourist attraction now is beginning to scan visitor fingerprint information.

For years, Disney has recorded onto tickets the geometry and shape of visitors’ fingers to prevent ticket fraud or resale, as an alternative to time-consuming photo identification checks.

By the end of September, all of the geometry readers at Disney’s four Orlando theme parks, which attract tens of millions of visitors each year, will be replaced with machines that scan fingerprint information, according to industry experts familiar with the technology.

“It’s essentially a technology upgrade,” said Kim Prunty, spokeswoman for Walt Disney World. The new scanner, like the old finger geometry scanner, "takes an image, identifies a series of points, measures the distance between those points, and turns it into a numerical value." She added, "To call it a fingerprint is a little bit of a stretch."
Prunty said the new system will be easier for guests to use and will reduce wait times. The old machines required visitors to insert two fingers into a reader that identified key information about the shape of the fingers. The new machines scan one fingertip for its fingerprint information. Prunty said the company does not store the entire fingerprint image, but only numerical information about certain points. more

Fukushima Is Continually Blasting All Of Us With High Levels Of Cesium, Strontium And Plutonium And Will Slowly Kill Millions For Years To Come

Fukushima is now far and away the worst nuclear disaster in all of human history. Chernobyl was a Sunday picnic compared to Fukushima and the amount of cesium-137 released at Fukushima this year so far is equivalent to 168 Hiroshima bombs. The crisis at Fukushima is far, far worse than you have been told. We are talking about multiple self-sustaining nuclear meltdowns that will not be fully contained for years. In an attempt to keep people calm, authorities in Japan (and around the rest of the world as well) have lied and lied and lied. Over the months that have passed since the disaster began, small bits of the truth have slowly started to come out. Authorities are finally admitting that the area immediately surrounding Fukushima will be uninhabitable indefinitely, and they are finally admitting that the amount of radioactive material that has been released is far higher than initially reported. It is going to take the Japanese years to fully contain this problem. Meanwhile, Fukushima will continue to blast all of us with high levels of cesium, strontium and plutonium and will slowly kill millions of people around the globe for years to come.

These days, the mainstream media does not talk about Fukushima much. The reality is that there have been a whole lot of other disasters for them to talk about.

But just because Fukushima is a nightmare that is playing out in very slow motion does not mean that it does not deserve our full attention.

To get an idea of just how nightmarish Fukushima has turned out to be, just consider the words of nuclear expert Steven C. Jones....

By way of comparison, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occured in 1986 in the Ukraine, Russia- heretofore the worst nuclear disaster on record- burned for 10 days and cumulatively killed an estimated 1 million people worldwide. The Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster has 5 nuclear reactors burning, 2 in partial meltdown and 3 in full meltdown- and they've ALL been uncontrollably burning since March 11th. Its been over 3 months and this nuclear disaster remains completely out of control. In fact, some industry estimates cite the possibility that these meltdowns will be contained (optimistically) in 1-3 years, at the very earliest.

The amount and intensity of the radioactive fallout from this particular nuclear disaster will assuredly kill hundreds of millions of people worldwide over time. Japan itself is, of course, the epicenter of this radioactive contamination that has spread out from these reactors.

Keep in mind that radioactivity from the Chernobyl disaster deeply contaminated 77,000 square miles.

So if Fukushima is many times worse, what does that mean for us? more

Solyndra fades away: Solar panel maker, one of America's most intensive, files for bankruptcy due to inability to beat China's slave wages

Solar panel maker Solyndra today said that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after failing to successfully compete against lower-cost Chinese manufacturers. It is one of largest failures ever suffered by venture capitalists, and a major black eye for a U.S. Department of Energy that loaned the company more than $500 million.

The company has not yet filed its bankruptcy papers, but did say in a press release that it plans to evaluate options that could include a sale of its business and licensing of its technology. It also said that 1,100 full-time and part-time employees will be laid off, effective immediately.

Since being founded in 2005 to build solar panels for commercial rooftops, Solyndra had raised nearly $1 billion in private equity financing. The biggest backer was the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which was listed as holding more than a 35% equity stake when Solyndra filed for a $300 million IPO in late 2009 (it would later cancel the offering, due to "adverse market conditions). Other significant shareholders included Madrone Partners, a VC firm affiliated with Wal-Mart's Walton family, with an 11% stake, U.S. Venture Partners (10.19%), RockPort Capital Partners (7.5%), CMEA Ventures (6.81%) and Redpoint Ventures (5.94%). more

Mentally ill sisters freed from chains in West Bank



We first met Mohedeye and Nedaa Dawabsha sitting quietly on the floor of a small room in their family's modest house in the dusty West Bank village of Duma. Neither of the sisters were able to leave the room.

Connected to harnesses around their waists was a meter-and-a-half of chain links, binding them to a heavy metal locker in the corner of the room.

According to their family Nedaa, 21, had been confined like this for the past 10 years and her sister Mohedeye, 25, for the past two.

Mohedeye and Nedaa suffer from severe mental disability, their older sister Intesar Dawabsha told us, and are incapable of functioning without constant care. Mental illness ran in the family, Intesar explained, but her sister's condition was particularly severe.

"They need someone to take care of them 24 hours, to give them food because they cannot eat properly, they cannot do their basic needs, they cannot change their clothing, they cannot clean themselves, they need someone 24 hours," Intesar told CNN.

The sister's parents, Uthamn and Houda Dawabsha, are both battling illness and are not up to the task of caring for Nedaa and Mohedeye, according to Intesar.

Houda is laid up in bed most of the time and Uthman, who works as an itinerant farmer, says jobs are few and far between and that he's lucky if he makes over fifteen dollars a day. more

China Developing 'Star Wars' Missile Defense Shield

China is developing a missile defense system in the highest layer of the atmosphere and outer space using high-end technologies like laser beams and kinetic energy intercept.

In 2007, China successfully tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon against a weather satellite, demonstrating its ability to attack satellites in low-Earth orbit. It has also been developing other kinetic and directed-energy technologies for ASAT missions like lasers, high-powered microwave, and particle beam weapons, according to a report released by the U.S. Defense Department last week.

With its manned and lunar space programs, "China is improving its ability to track and identify satellites -- a prerequisite for effective, precise counterspace operations," the report said.

The Defense Department speculates that China already has the technology to counter low-flying cruise missiles or short-range ballistic missiles. It is believed to be using Russian-made SA-20 ground-to-air missiles or its own homegrown HQ-9 long-range SAM missiles.

"China is proceeding with the research and development of a missile defense 'umbrella' consisting of kinetic energy intercept at exo-atmospheric altitudes (>80 km), as well as intercepts of ballistic missiles and other aerospace vehicles within the upper atmosphere," the report says. more

Careful Aid for N.Korea Is the Best Policy (How about better aid that would let the citizens be free?)

North Korea recently lobbed artillery rounds south of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, even after the government informed Pyongyang it would send food and medicine to the North amid plans to ease sanctions that were imposed after the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan in May 2010. And effective Aug. 21, the regime froze South Korean property in the North's scenic Mt. Kumgang resort. That raises the question whether it is wise to resume aid to the North, and whether there is any point in trying to engage with it.

There has been a lot of debate in the country over the past few years. Former president Kim Dae-jung, who spearheaded the "Sunshine Policy," claimed that generous support to North Korea would lead to rapprochement and peace on the Korean Peninsula and eventually reunification through inter-Korean exchanges and reforms in the North. His successor Roh Moo-hyun went further by saying North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons program if its economic situation improved and its security concerns were addressed. As a result, the Kim and Roh administrations gave the North a total of W8 trillion (US$1=W1,075) over their combined 10 years in office.

Critics point out that aid to the North ended up bolstering its military power and prolonged the Kim Jong-il regime, thus making reunification more difficult. They therefore suggest that the government minimize support for North Korea and implement a quid-pro-quo method for all aid. If the government can achieve its policy objectives by providing a certain degree of benefits to North Korea, most people would probably support it. But the problem is what objectives it is pursuing and what benefits it is willing to provide. more

World population control ideas being floated on Fox News?

Big Government Kills the Family Farm



Big government isn’t just bad because it is so costly. Big government is toxic because it becomes an over reaching nanny state that tries to protect us from ourselves. Eventually, government reaches its tentacles into our lives and curbs our freedom.

I am going to see this movie, Farmageddon. I am always interested in the plight of the family farmer. One of the reasons I enjoy going to Europe is to eat their fabulous raw milk cheeses. If you haven’t had one you are missing something. America could have a new vibrant industry of raw milk cheese making if we got better and smaller regulation.

Consider it a jobs program!

We have lost a lot of family farmers over the past twenty years in all kinds of farming because government regulations make it too expensive for them to farm. The organic farming movement is NOT the way to feed the world. However, shouldn’t we as citizens be free to choose what we put into our mouths? more

"Beware of coming police state" warns Senior Lawyer

China calls for crackdown on 'toxic' internet rumours

China's official news agency has called for a crackdown on the spread of "toxic rumours" on the internet, in the latest sign of the government's desire to rein in the country's rumbustious and fast-growing microblogs.

"Concocting rumours is itself a social malady, and the spread of rumours across the internet presents a massive social threat," Xinhua said.

It is the latest in a series of state media reports about the dangers of information spread via microblogs. A leading official also warned of the need to "strengthen administration" on a recent visit to Sina, which runs the hugely popular Weibo service, China's domestic rival to Twitter. The firm last week suspended user accounts for spreading rumours.

China has a vast and complex censorship system, but microblogs have played an increasing role in spreading news, developing public debate and uncovering scandals.

Although sensitive posts are deleted and search terms blocked, information often spreads faster than monitors can remove it. Users shared outrage at the way officials handled June's high-speed train crash in Wenzhou and spread the news of a mass protest in Dalian.

"Through microblogs, local news becomes national news," said Hu Yong, an expert on Chinese social media. more

European economic sentiment plunges for sixth month

The European Commission's closely-watched Economic Sentiment Indicator has dropped for the sixth straight month. The fall of nearly five points was the worst month-to-month drop since December 2008.

Consumer and economic confidence in Europe has dropped further, according to the results of a survey released by the European Commission on Tuesday.

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) fell more than expected, from 103.2 in July to 98.3 this month. This represents the biggest month-on-month drop since the onset of the global financial crisis in December 2008.

It's also the sixth straight month the ESI has registered a drop.

Among individual nations in the eurozone, Germany recorded the sharpest drop in consumer confidence, falling from 112.7 to 107. Outside the eurozone, Britain had the biggest drop in the greater European Union, from 98.5 to 92.9.

The drop in consumer confidence likely means the European Central Bank will leave interest rates unchanged. They currently stand at 1.5 percent. more

FSA plans first product "health alert"

The markets watchdog will issue its first "health alert" shortly to warn about risky financial products in a bid to halt the string of costly mis-selling scandals in recent years.

"I expect us to start issuing warnings soon," Margaret Cole, Financial Services Authority's interim managing director of business conduct, told Reuters.

Alerts to firms as well as to consumers will be public and financial lawyers are already warning clients the regulator is keen to make an example of a company.

The latest mis-selling scandal involves wrongful sales of insurance policies to cover people's potential inability to repay debts - known as payment protection insurance (PPI). Many customers were never able to make a claim, and banks now face a bill of over 6 billion pounds in compensation.

Cole said she was not going to wait for anticipated tougher consumer protection powers from Britain or the European Union over the next two to three years to introduce its "product intervention" blueprint.

The crackdown has already begun, she said. more

New HIV Case Causes LA Porn Industry Shutdown: Surprise?

An adult film performer has tested positive for HIV, causing porn producers to shut down shoots in Southern California as the diagnosis is confirmed through re-testing, according to an industry group.

Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke told The Los Angeles Times on Monday that her group became aware of the HIV case Saturday.

A series of tests were being conducted on the performer to confirm the case before anyone the performer might have spread the illness to will be notified to get tested, Duke told The Associated Press.

She didn't know how long that would take.

Duke declined to release the performer's name, age or gender, citing the person's federal right to medical privacy. She also declined to say how her group learned of the case.

The case was found in an out-of-state clinic that doesn't report to California health officials, said Duke. more

Falcon HTV-2 Footage released "Don't Blink, you will miss it" - 1st Sept 2011






Maddy Jackson aged just FOUR made to wear fake Breast in Beauty pageant by her mother - 1st Sept 2011

Barely out of nappies, four-year-old Maddy Jackson is already on the road to womanhood.

Sporting fake C cup breasts and padding on her bottom, she is the latest shock contestant on Toddlers and Tiaras, the U.S. reality show revealing the surreal world of beauty pageants.

In an attempt to mimic her curvaceous icon, country singer Dolly Parton - who is known for her ample cleavage - the toddler is shown sporting detachable bust and butt enhancements, before performing live on stage.

With the extra padding concealed under her Barbie pink Lycra catsuit, Maddy's tiny frame is transformed into an hourglass silhouette.

Barely able to string a sentence together, many will be shocked by the images of the peroxide blonde trying to emulate the appearance of a woman in her late 20s.

When questioned on NBC's Today show, her mother Lindsay, who entered her first pageant contest when she was nine months old, defends the enhancements used by her daughter.

She tells presenter Savannah Guthrie: 'To some people, it's over the top, to us it's just what happens... It's just normal. When she wears the fake boobs and the fake butt, it's just like extra bonus.'

But others seems less convinced and Maddy's stylist Michael Booth believes the attire is a step to far.

Interviewed backstage at the competition, where hundreds of young hopefuls battle it out to be crowned beauty queen, Michael said: 'I wasn’t a big fan of the outfit with the boobs in it. She’s very young, but hopefully the judges will perceive it in good taste.' Read More

Vandals scrawl 'they were flammable' at spot where hundreds of Jews were burned alive during World War II - 1st Sept 2011

Vandals have desecrated a monument marking the spot in Poland where hundreds of Jews were burned alive during World War II.

They defaced the stonework, scrawling 'they were flammable' and also daubing a swastika on the memorial.

The monument in the eastern town of Jedwabne honours the victims of July 10, 1941, when about 40 Poles hunted down Jews, closed them in a barn and set it alight. It is estimated between 300 and 400 Jews were killed.

The incident is one of the better known cases of local people collaborating with the Nazis in the killing of Jews during the occupation of Eastern Europe.

The vandals used green paint to spray the symbols of a swastika and 'SS' - the name of an elite Nazi force - on the monument, as well as the phrases 'I don't apologise for Jedwabne' and 'they were flammable'.

Police discovered the desecration on Wednesday during a patrol and have since started an investigation.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said: 'I utterly condemn these acts of criminality, alien to Polish tradition.

'There is no room for such behavior in Polish society - even if it is the work of but a small group of extremists.' Read More

Colin Adlard bludgeoned his wife to death after row over quality of her mashed potato - 1st Sept 2011

A husband killed his 'nagging' wife by clubbing her to death with a lump hammer after a row about mashed potato.

Colin Adlard, 61 snapped and repeatedly struck his wife Wendy with the hammer while she was in bed because she would not stop shouting at him and berating him.

The 59-year-old had been dozing in bed at about 5.30am - the morning after the argument about mashed potato - when Adlard went berserk and delivered the fatal blows.

He then called police and was arrested at the bungalow they had recently moved to in the quiet Northamptonshire village of Yardley Hastings.

Adlard later told officers he attacked her on January 7 because she would not stop nagging at him. Read More