Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lynwood Earl Artis has leg broken by police officer, who then drags him into court in contempt for not standing on said broken leg when commanded

A man who was eating a taco at a Raleigh bus stop says a cop swept-kicked him to the ground, broke his leg and arrested him, then hauled him before a judge who sentenced him to 30 days in jail for contempt, because he could not stand on his broken leg.

Lynwood Earl Artis sued Raleigh police Officer James Rollins, Wake County and its sheriff, and others, in Federal Court.

Artis said that after buying his dinner at the Armadillo Grill, he "quietly began to eat his taco, waiting for the bus," when Rollins "approached Artis on foot ... and asked if a beer was his."

"Artis leaned forward and saw what appeared to be a discarded can of beer that had been concealed from his view" by a newspaper rack. He says he told Rollins, "'Why, Officer, if that beer were mine, I would be enjoying it with my meal.'" And he resumed eating his taco.

He says Rollins asked him for ID, then "Without either warning or being told he was under arrest, Rollins grabbed Artis by his still taco-laden arm, and spun Artis around with great force, which pivoted Artis on his left leg and sent the hapless taco flying.

"Rollins twisted Artis' arm behind his back and then swept-kicked Artis' legs from the side and threw him to the ground.

"All of Artis' weight was still on his left leg from being spun by Rollins, and Artis felt and heard his lower left leg sicken[ing]ly crack when Rollins swept-kicked him." more

Alien worm invasion 'threat to forests'

Invasive earthworms can alter the carbon and nitrogen cycles in woodland, as well as undermining native plant species, a study has said.

US researchers found that the presence of non-native worms also accelerated the breakdown of forest litter, increasing the risk of soil erosion.

The worms are spread to new areas by horticulture and land disturbance, they add, as well as on vehicles' tyres.

The findings have been published in the journal Human Ecology.

"The presence of earthworms in temperate hardwood forests may accelerate decomposition of forest litter, which potentially reduces habitat for forest-floor animals, (increases) soil erosion... and affects carbon and nitrogen cycles," the researchers from Colgate University, New York, wrote.

Quoting a previous study, the scientists said that invasive earthworms could reduce the amount of carbon stored in soil by up to 28% as a result of the animals eating fallen leaves, which had a knock-on effect on the temperature of the forest floor. more

Huge 'New Zealand swell' hitting California: 1 dead, millions of dollars in damage done

Massive waves slamming into California's coast - killing at least one person and causing millions of dollars in damage - are being labelled the "New Zealand surf" because of where they are coming from.

In a rare event, a big weather system between New Zealand and Antarctica has generated a heavy Pacific wide swell, bringing the waves to California.

Sean Collins, chief forecaster and president of Surfline, told news website Patch.com he warned Californian authorities over the swell.

"Extra caution is urged to keep the public aware and safe from these large waves and associated rip currents."

He said it was one of the biggest swells to hit with some waves coming ashore at six to seven metres.

Collins said southern hemisphere storms routinely produced waves in California, but this latest one was in the top 10 percent of known waves. more

Offshore mud volcano erupts in Azov Sea in Ukraine



The term mud volcano or mud-dome is used to refer to formations created by geo-excreted liquids and gases, although there are several different processes which may cause such activity. Hot water mixes with mud and surface deposits. Mud volcanoes are associated with subduction zones and about 700 have been identified. Temperatures are much cooler in these processes than found at igneous volcanoes. The largest mud volcano structures are 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) in diameter and reach 700 meters (2,300 ft) in height. About 86% of the gas released from these structures is methane, with much less carbon dioxide and nitrogen emitted. Ejected materials are often a slurry of fine solids suspended in liquids which may include water, which is frequently acidic or salty, and hydrocarbon fluids. There are generally few mud volcanoes in Europe, but dozens can be found on the Taman Peninsula of Russia and the Kerch Peninsula of southeastern Ukraine. more

A Privately Owned Nuclear Weapons Plant in …Kansas City?

In Kansas City, Missouri, a local zoning fight is going nuclear, literally: A Monday-morning courtroom showdown between activists and politicians could determine whether the city becomes host to the world's first privately owned nuclear weapons plant.

The proposed plant, a 1.5 million-square-foot, $673 million behemoth, would replace an aging facility, also in KC, where 85 percent (PDF) of the components for nation's nuclear arms are produced. The new plant would be run by the same government contractor as the old one—Honeywell—and proponents say the only major change will be more jobs and city infrastructure. But there will be another big difference: The federal government will sublease the property from a private developer, who in turn will lease it from the city for 20 years…after which the developer will own it outright.

The developer that could ultimately own its very own nuclear weapons plant, Centerpoint Zimmer (CPZ), didn't even exist until the deal for the Kansas City facility. It's the product of a union between Zimmer Real Estate, a big swinger in local properties—"Their red signs are all over town," says Ann Suellentrop, a local anti-nuclear activist—and Chicago-based builder Centerpoint, which just happens to own a new 1,000-acre industrial park across the street from the planned production facility. In what it called a "competitive bidding process," the US General Services Administration awarded CPZ a contract to build the new plant—on a soybean field that the company already owned. The Kansas City Council, enticed by direct payments and a promise of "quality jobs," approved the deal and agreed to exempt CPZ from property taxes on the plant and surrounding land for 25 years. It also agreed to $815 million in bond subsidies to build the plant and needed infrastructure. more

Gulf coast braces for more rain, one dead: US

MOBILE, Ala (Reuters) - Gulf Coast residents from Texas to Florida struggled with a third day of severe weather on Monday with one man dead and a teenager missing in rough waters as remnants of Tropical Storm Lee lashed the region.

The tail end of the storm is expected to produce rain accumulations of up to 15 inches across the central Gulf coast, the National Weather Service said on Monday. Flash flood watches were in effect in along the coast until 7 p.m.

Tornadoes spawned by the system have also touched down in Gulf coast states and are likely to threaten the Southeast through Tuesday, forecasters said.

A Corinth, Mississippi man drowned late Sunday. Tishomingo County coroner Mack Wilemon said Howard Anderson, Jr., 57, was swept into floodwaters and drowned around 11 p.m. while awaiting rescue from a vehicle.

Heavy rains will continue to expand northeastward into the Tennessee Valley and southern Appalachian mountains through Tuesday, with rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches likely and isolated amounts of 12 inches possible, according to the National Weather Service.

"These may cause life threatening flash floods and mudslides," the weather service said. more

Obama criticised for continuing civil rights 'violations' introduced by Bush (Where's that change again?)

The Obama administration has disappointed civil rights campaigners who had expected him to reverse most of the post-9/11 restrictions introduced by the Bush administration.

On becoming president in January 2009, Obama promised to close Guantánamo Bay within a year. He did order an end to waterboarding but Guantánamo remains open and almost all the rest of the Bush era anti-terrorism apparatus, from the Patriot Act through to increased surveillance is still in place.

Measures once considered only for emergency use are being consolidated.

"I did not like it when the violations of rights were temporary but now, because of Obama going along with the changes, they are becoming a permanent fixture of our legal landscape," said Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which has been battling since the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s.

Ratner, who was among the first, small group of lawyers to fight on behalf of the Guantánamo detainees, said Obama had the chance to close Guantánamo but became weak-kneed about it. "Indefinite detention, restrictions on habeas corpus, rendition, all these continue under Obama. We still have military commissions under Obama." more

Famine spreads to sixth region of Somalia



Famine has spread to a sixth area of Somalia and tens of thousands of people have died as a result of severe food shortages, the UN has said.

A statement from the UN Somalia Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) in Nairobi, Kenya, said on Monday that data gathered in August suggested the Bay Region had been hit by famine in addition to several areas already declared famine zones by the UN.

"August survey results indicate that the prevalence of acute malnutrition and the rate of crude mortality have surpassed famine thresholds in Bay Region of southern Somalia," the statement said.

"Tens of thousands of people have already died, over half of whom are children."

Famine was first declared in the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of southern Somalia in July.

It later spread to three further areas, including into the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and the Afgoye corridor, the world's largest camp for displaced people. more

Storm Lee brings flash floods to Louisiana

Tropical Storm Lee brought torrential rains and flash flooding to the US Gulf Coast on Sunday after making landfall near New Orleans, officials said.

The storm struck as US President Barack Obama prepared to fly to Paterson, New Jersey to view damage from Hurricane Irene and be briefed on response and recovery efforts. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency, saying flooding was the state’s “primary concern.”

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency in several counties, urging residents to prepare well in advance. “Do not underestimate the impact of this system of tropical weather,” he said. Tornado warnings were also issued from Louisiana to Florida as the storm’s powerful winds knocked down power lines and blocked roads with fallen trees.

Oil companies evacuated workers from offshore rigs ahead of the arrival of Lee, a disorganised but major rainmaker. Lee came ashore just 80-km southwest of Lafayette, packing sustained winds of 75-km per hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre said.

The slow-moving but massive storm was expected to continue to draw moisture from the Gulf as it gradually drifted north to drench the Appalachian mountains and Tennessee River valley.

With some areas forecast to receive up to 20 inches of rain over the Labor Day holiday weekend, officials warned residents of coastal states as well as landlocked Kentucky and Tennessee to prepare themselves for extensive flooding. more

Equities hammered by euro zone and banking worries

European stocks tumbled 4 percent on Monday, with banks plumbing a more than two year low, as fears for the future of the euro zone bubbled up against a background of weak economic growth and threats to the banking sector.

The euro fell across the board, with peripheral euro zone debt concerns and political uncertainty in Germany prompting rises in both the dollar and safe-haven Swiss franc.

Worries about public deficits in Greece and Italy and a regional election rout for Germany's ruling party cast fresh doubt on the euro zone's ability to tackle its debt crisis.

Wall Street was closed for a holiday but it was unlikely that U.S. investors would have been in any more of a positive mood given data ahead of the long weekend that showed U.S. employment growth halted in August.

That fueled concerns that the world's biggest economy is slipping back into recession.

It prompted oil to sell off on Monday, with benchmark Brent dropping below $110 a barrel.

The euro zone, meanwhile, faces a week packed with political and legal risks, beginning with a German constitutional court ruling on Wednesday on claims that Berlin is breaking German law and European treaties by contributing to bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. more

1 sperm donor, 150 brothers and sisters: Without limits for number of kids a donor can father, some parents, doctors have fears about negative consequ

Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings — an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son’s group grow.

And grow.

Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way. “It’s wild when we see them all together — they all look alike,” said Ms. Daily, 48, a social worker in the Washington area who sometimes vacations with other families in her son’s group.

As more women choose to have babies on their own, and the number of children born through artificial insemination increases, outsize groups of donor siblings are starting to appear. While Ms. Daily’s group is among the largest, many others comprising 50 or more half siblings are cropping up on Web sites and in chat groups, where sperm donors are tagged with unique identifying numbers. more

Byron Andre Womack arrested on I-65 in Indiana, shirtless and marching like a drum major with a samurai sword

Call it the showdown with the samurai.

Indiana State Police say they encountered a shirtless man wielding a 35-inch-long samurai sword on the inner shoulder of Interstate 65 on Sunday afternoon near U.S. Highway 30. Police say farther north, a Toyota had been abandoned in the middle lane of southbound I-65 at 61st Avenue.

The swordsman, who wore plaid knee-length shorts, was marching “like a drum major, holding the sword, moving it up and down in rhythm with his marching cadence,” the state police said in a news release.

When a state trooper approached him, the man swung the sword “in a defensive manner,” police said.

The swordsman, dressed only in plaid shorts and slip-on shoes, then tried to gain entrance to a 2010 Chevrolet sport-utility vehicle that was pulled over on the expressway to avoid a responding Merrillville police car, state police told the Sun-Times Media wire.

Finally, the suspect was handcuffed by Merrillville police, who ordered him to the ground at gunpoint. more

Teen's legs severed trying to 'hop' train in Longmont

A 17-year-old girl lost both of her legs after trying to climb aboard a moving train with three friends on Monday, authorities said.

The incident happened in Longmont just after 1 p.m. when, according to Longmont Police commander Jeff Satur, four people ages 17 to 25 attempted to board a Burlington Northern freight train at 3rd Ave. and Atwood St.

The 17-year-old student at Colorado State University fell and slipped underneath the train.

She was transported to Longmont United Hospital by ambulance and then flown to Denver Health Medical Center.

Doctors say the teen is in stable condition, but she needed to have both legs amputated below the knee.

Satur says no alcohol or drugs are suspected in this incident.

A witness says a nurse who was in a car and saw what happened may have saved the girl's life. "She was like the real hero in the whole thing," Brian Elwanger says. "She took control and if it wasn't for her, I don't think it would've went down the way it did." more

1,000 Texas homes burned in past week in 57 wildfires

More than 1,000 homes have burned in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze close to Austin that's still raging out of control, officials said Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference near one of the fire-ravaged areas, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said more than 100,000 acres (40,469.5 hectares) have burned in the drought-stricken state.

Perry, who interrupted his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination to rush home, said more than 1,000 houses have burned since Monday, but Texas emergency management chief Nim Kidd subsequently said that number of homes has actually been lost in the past week.

The Texas Forest Service says nearly 600 of the torched homes were in Bastrop County, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Austin. The agency said that blaze was still uncontained Tuesday.

Calmer winds Tuesday were expected to help in the battle against wildfires that flared up when strong winds fed by Tropical Storm Lee swept across Texas over Labor Day weekend. more

Spaceport America: Phase one of world's first commercial spaceport is now 90% completed - in time for first flights in 2013

Phase one of the world's first commercial spaceport, which will be the hub for Virgin's consumer spaceflights, is now 90 per cent complete.

The 1,800-acre Spaceport America site, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is the home base for Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's most ambitious business venture yet.

It already boasts a runway stretching to nearly two miles long, a futuristic styled terminal hanger, and a dome-shaped Space Operations Centre.

The work is now just months away from completion, according to a spaceport spokesman, and is set to be done by the end of the year, well in time for the first expected Virgin Galactic spaceflights in 2013.

Christine Anderson, the newly appointed executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, told SPACE.com she was 'jazzed' about the progress made so far. more

City sewer engineer Gerald Mistretta paid $775k in 2010, more than any NYC employee

A city sewer worker made more last year than the police commissioner, the schools chancellor and the mayor - combined.

Senior engineer Gerald Mistretta's pay was $771,841 - and six of his co-workers raked in nearly as much - thanks to a wage settlement with the city.

His bottom line for the fiscal year that ended in June included a base salary of $109,850 a year, $173,000 in overtime - and nearly half a million dollars in back pay.

The Brooklyn father of three said the one-shot windfall - which made him the top earner among city employees last year - made up for 16 years he went without a raise.

"I know it looks like a whole lot of money," Mistretta told the Daily News. "But people don't realize the hardships we went through.

"It was a very difficult period. We have families, and colleges to pay for, and mortgages." more

Decomposed body found in suitcase on Bronx block: New York City

A decomposed body was found stuffed inside a suitcase on a Bronx street Sunday, sources said.

The unidentified body was discovered by cops on Needham Ave. near Wilson Ave. in Williamsbridge after a neighbor called about 3:30 p.m. to report the luggage appeared suspicious, the sources said.

It was not clear how long it had been since the suitcase had been dumped on the block, but the body was decomposed, a source said.

The city medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to try to identify the body and find the cause of death. source

Nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffer mental illness

Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden -- measured in the hundreds of billions of euros -- as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

"Mental disorders have become Europe's largest health challenge of the 21st century," the study's authors said.

At the same time, some big drug companies are backing away from investment in research on how the brain works and affects behavior, putting the onus on governments and health charities to stump up funding for neuroscience. more

Fears rise again over Europe debt crisis

German benchmark borrowing costs fell below 2 per cent to all-time lows while Italy’s shot up as worries about the eurozone debt crisis and the fragility of banks once more intensified.

European lenders bore the brunt of a broad-based sell-off across equity markets while the cost of insuring bank and government debt hit record highs as investors fled from risky assets to safer ones.

German 10-year Bund yields fell 16 basis points to 1.85 per cent, their lowest ever. The move below 2 per cent tracked that of US Treasuries, which closed below that level for the first time since 1950 on Friday and were not traded on Monday due to a public holiday.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, told parliamentary colleagues that the situation in Greece and Italy was “extremely fragile”, Reuters quoted a party official as saying.

Investors’ intense concerns about the likelihood of a Greek default were underlined by Greek 1-year bond yields rising to a record 82.1 per cent. more

Israeli general: Likelihood of regional war growing

Senior IDF officer warns of 'radical Islamic winter' that may lead to regional war, could prompt use of WMDs; new, more lethal weapons discovered in hands of terrorists during latest round of fighting in Gaza, Major General Eisenberg says.

Recent revolutions in the Arab world and the deteriorating ties with Turkey are raising the likelihood of a regional war in the Middle East, IDF Home Front Command Chief, Major General Eyal Eisenberg warned Monday.

"It looks like the Arab Spring, but it can also be a radical Islamic winter," he said in a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

"This leads us to the conclusion that through a long-term process, the likelihood of an all-out war is increasingly growing," the IDF general said.

"Iran has not abandoned its nuclear program. The opposite it true; it continues full steam ahead," he said. "In Egypt, the army is collapsing under the burden of regular security operations, and this is reflected in the loss of control in the Sinai and the turning of the border with Israel into a terror border, with the possibility that Sinai will fall under the control of an Islamic entity." more

New York City: 2 Cops Among 47 Shot in Weekend Violence; Teen and 56-Year-Old Bystander Killed

Three people were killed and two police officers were wounded in a shooting a few blocks from the annual West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, capping a violent holiday weekend in which 47 people were injured by gunfire.

Bullet fragments hit one police officer in the left arm and chest Monday night. He was hospitalized but was expected to survive. Another officer was grazed by a bullet.

One shooters was killed along with a bystander, 56-year-old Denise Gay, who was shot while sitting on a stoop with her daughter nearby just two doors down from the exchange of gunfire. Another shooter was in serious condition at the hospital.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday the city should not consider shutting down the parade, which often sees violence and had fatal shootings in 2003 and 2005.

"It's our biggest parade," Kelly said. Because of the density of people, he said, "you can't watch everything." more

Chicago: 8 Killed In Holiday Weekend Violence

An 18-year-old boy who lost his life to gunfire in the North Lawndale neighborhood has brought the total number of deaths caused by violence in the city this Labor Day weekend to at least eight.

Sadarius Sims was shot and killed around 9:15 p.m. Monday in the 1300 block of South Kildare Avenue, authorities said. Someone approached on foot and fired shots, hitting him in the shoulder, according to police.

Sims was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital at 10:23 p.m. Monday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

On Sunday night, a 29-year-old man was shot and killed in a street fight in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the city’s Far South Side.

The latest happened about 10:25 p.m. in the 600 block of East 133rd Street. Nicholas Jackson, 29, of 640 E. 133rd St. was pronounced ded at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn at 11:37 p.m. after being shot in the chest, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said. more

Obama ratings sink to new lows as hope fades and country nosedives

Public pessimism about the direction of the country has jumped to its highest level in nearly three years, erasing the sense of hope that followed President Obama’s inauguration and pushing his approval ratings to a record low, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy and, what has become issue No. 1, the stagnant jobs situation. Just 43 percent now approve of the job he is doing overall, a new career low; 53 percent disapprove, a new high.

As part of a reinvigorated effort to regain momentum as he heads toward the 2012 election year, Obama traveled to Detroit on Monday for a Labor Day appearance that served as a prelude to his speech Thursday to a joint session of Congress in which he will unveil new proposals to create jobs.

The urgency for Obama to act is driven not just by the most recent unemployment report, which on Friday showed no job growth in August and the unemployment rate stuck at 9.1 percent, but also by the depth of the political hole in which the president finds himself. Even more than two-thirds of those who voted for Obama say things are badly off course.

By this time in their presidencies, approval ratings for both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — who also suffered serious midterm setbacks during their first term — had settled safely above the 50 percent mark. Both then stayed in positive territory throughout their reelection campaigns.

When ratings for George W. Bush slipped into the low 40s during his second term in office, they remained there or lower for the remainder of his presidency. more

Death in dolphins: do they understand they are mortal?

REPORTS of dolphins interacting with dead members of their pod are raising questions about whether cetaceans understand the concept of death. Bottlenose dolphins in western Greece have been seen reacting to death differently depending on whether a pod member has died suddenly or after a longer period of illness, New Scientist has learned.

Interpreting animal behaviour after the death of a companion is fraught with difficulty. Death is rarely observed in the wild, and it is easy to erroneously attribute human emotions to animals. Nevertheless, several species of intelligent, social animals, such as gorillas, chimpsMovie Camera and elephants can display particular behaviours when an animal dies - behaviours which some have interpreted as akin to mourning. Taken together with a growing number of reports of cetaceans interacting with dead animals and the discovery that they have specialised neurons linked to empathy and intuition, the Greek study suggests dolphins may have a complex - and even sophisticated - reaction to death.

Joan Gonzalvo of the Tethys Research Institute based in Milan, Italy, has been observing the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population in the Amvrakikos gulf since 2006. In July 2007, he and his team of Earthwatch Institute volunteers saw a mother interact with her dead newborn calf. She lifted the corpse above the surface, in an apparent attempt to get it to breathe (see photo). "This was repeated over and over again, sometimes frantically, during two days of observation," says Gonzalvo. "The mother never separated from her calf." The team heard her calling to it while she touched it with her snout and pectoral fins. more

Services growth slows at fastest pace since 2001: UK

Alarm bells were sounded over prospects for the British economy after growth in Britain's dominant services sector slowed last month at its fastest pace since the 2001 foot and mouth crisis.

The decline in growth increased the likelihood of further stimulus from the Bank of England, economists said.

Activity was much weaker than economists had expected, falling to 51.1 in August from 55.4 in July on the Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers' Index (PMI).

It was the second-biggest fall on record, and confounded forecasts for a gentler drop to 54, although it remained above the crucial 50-mark that divides growth from contraction.

Paul Smith, senior economist at survey compiler Markit, said: "The UK service sector suffered a steep deterioration of activity growth in August, with the drop in the headline index the worst since the foot and mouth crisis of 2001.

"Although the slowdown may reflect a reaction to a solid expansion in July and minor impacts from riots and public disorder in early August, there can be little doubt that the underlying growth profile of the sector has weakened in recent months," he said. more

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake ALASKA PENINSULA - 6th September 2011

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck the Alaska Peninsula at a depth of 12.1 km (7.5 miles), the quake hit at 17:54:20 UTC Tuesday 6th September 2011.
The epicenter was 93 km (58 miles) Southeast of False Pass, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Piglet born with two noses - 6th Sept 2011

Meet Babe, the pig who was born with not one but two snouts. And while it might sound like a joke, it's no laughing matter.

The two-month-old - part of a litter born on a farm in Deshengtang, Jilin province, northern China - can use both his mouths to eat and appears otherwise normal, say his owners.

Farmer Li Zhenjun and his wife Yu Wanfen named the piglet Xiaobao - or 'Babe' in English - after the movie about an extraordinary talking pig.

Li explained: 'The mouths aren't much of an advantage because his head is very heavy and he gets pushed around by the others.

'I'm feeding him with a bottle now and he's doing very well.' Source

Beached 15-tonne baby whale is saved and returned to its mother after gruelling EIGHT hour rescue - 6th Sept 2011

A 15-ton Minke whale calf has been successfully saved by rescuers after becoming beached in a shallow dock this morning.

The 30ft mammal became beached in Immingham Docks, near Grimsby, Lincolnshire, after it became startled and lost its mother.

The distressed whale was spotted by a passing ship, which alerted authorities at 8am this morning and kick started the eight-hour rescue mission.

Over 50 emergency personnel descended on Immingham Docks, including the RSPCA, Coastguard, RNLI, fire services and British Marine Rescue, to try and free the trapped marine mammal.

Rescuers believe it was swimming with its mother when it was startled and went off course - becoming trapped in the shallow dock. Read More

Anthony Lloyd who left British judo team training to join rioting is jailed - 6th Sept 2011

A teenage judo star was jailed for eight months today after taking part in looting during last month's riots, court officials said.

Anthony Lloyd, 17, was found by police with his pockets 'bulging' with stolen cigarettes and jewellery during disturbances in Manchester, the city's youth court heard.

Lloyd, of Audenshaw, Greater Manchester, previously pleaded guilty to burglary of a non-dwelling property and handling stolen goods.

Earlier today he was sentenced to eight months' detention and training for each count, to serve concurrently, a spokesman for the court said.

At the earlier hearing, District Judge Jonathan Taaffe heard Lloyd was stopped by police at 9.30pm at the height of the disorder which struck the city on August 9. Read More

Colin McRae blamed for helicopter crash which killed him, his son and two others - 6th Sept 2011

The deaths of Colin McRae and three others in a helicopter crash were caused by the former world rallying champion's 'imprudent' flying, a sheriff has ruled.

McRae, 39, his five-year-old son Johnny, the boy's friend Ben Porcelli, six, and Graeme Duncan, 37, all died when the aircraft came down near McRae's home in Lanark on September 15, 2007.

Sheriff Nikola Stewart concluded that the deaths could have been avoided if McRae had not engaged in low-level flying 'when it was unnecessary and unsafe to do so'.

However, McRae's father Jimmy said the family believe they will never know what caused the crash and said they were never in any doubt of Colin's 'prowess as a fine pilot'. Read More

Note: How can they say he engaged in low-level flying? there was no flight recorder so know-one knows what happened in the final minutes. They are assuming that he engaged in low-level flying, his helicopter could of been in trouble which caused him to fly that low, it is far too easy to blame a man that can't defend himself.

IHOP Shooting rampage leaves THREE Dead and SIX wounded - 6th Sept 2011

Three people were killed and six others were wounded Tuesday in a shooting at a Carson City, Nevada, IHOP restaurant, police said.

Those six victims did include the shooter, who police said turned a gun on himself.

It "appears its going to be difficult for him to survive," Ken Furlong with the Carson City's Sheriff's Office said about the gunman.

"He was still breathing," he added.

Furlong said that currently the situation appears to be contained to the one strip mall.

"Right now it appears as though there was one shooter," Furlong said. "There does not appear to be safety concerns outside of this area."

Furlong confirmed reports that a semi-automatic weapon was used during the shooting. Some of the victims "appeared to be military folks," he said.

Officials are still investigating any possible motive. Source

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 6th September 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 27.9 km (17.3 miles), the quake hit at 17:54:52 UTC Tuesday 6th September 2011.
The epicenter was 78 km (49 miles) ESE of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Gabriel Alberto Conde beats up teenager on camera... after organizing a Fight Club style rumble between son and opponent

Millions of Italians launch general strike against austerity

Millions of Italian trade union members are thought to be taking part in a day-long strike against the government's latest austerity measures.

Flights have been cancelled, trains and buses are stationary, and government offices have been shut across Italy.

The government has faced criticism over a 45bn-euro (£40bn) austerity package, and has been scrambling to revise it.

"We are on the edge of the abyss, we need responsible government," said CGIL union leader Susanna Camusso.

"We are striking against measures that are irresponsible, and which put all of the burden on public sector workers," she told strikers in Rome.

CGIL, which called the general strike, is Italy's largest union federation.

It is demanding stronger action against tax dodgers and continuing job protection.

It has been infuriated by a new clause that will make it easier to dismiss workers. more

South Korea 'in missile deal to fortify border islands' (Missiles seem to be originating from Israel)

South Korea is to buy precision-guided missiles from Israel to strengthen defences on islands vulnerable to attacks from North Korea, reports say.

About 50 missiles would be deployed on two islands near the border with North Korea, said Yonhap news agency.

The missiles, which use GPS technology, could be used to target North Korean artillery hidden in caves.

Last year, four South Koreans were killed when North Korea fired artillery at one of the islands.

Two civilians and two military personnel died in November's attack on Yeonpyeong Island, which lies in the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula close to the disputed maritime border.

North Korea said the attack was provoked by South Korean military exercises.

The other island to be fortified is Baengnyeong, further to the west and close to where a South Korean warship sank with the loss of 46 lives in March 2010.

North Korea has been blamed for sinking the ship but denies any role in the incident.

The two countries technically remain at war following the Korean War of 1950-53. more

Libyan convoys pass through Niger: Are Gaddafi's armies reforming in other countries for a counter attack?



Two Libyan convoys have passed through Niger this week, officials there said Tuesday -- fueling renewed speculation about the whereabouts of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

One convoy was on its way Tuesday to Niger's capital, Niamey, said a Nigerien military captain.

Another convoy reached Niamey a day earlier, a Nigerien Interior Ministry official said. That convoy included six high-ranking Libyan officials close to Gadhafi, including Gen. Mansour Daw, the source said. Daw is said to be the head of the Revolutionary Guard and is responsible for the security of Gadhafi and his family.

The sources did not want to be identified because neither is authorized to speak to the media.

Abdallah Kenshil, chief negotiator for Libya's National Transitional Council, said Tuesday a convoy left the pro-Gadhafi stronghold of Bani Walid three days ago. more

Hail of bullets strikes Syrians fleeing to Turkey



A deadly hail of bullets struck Syrian refugees as they tried to flee across the border to Turkey on Monday, killing one man and wounding another, the Turkish government said Tuesday.

"Yesterday there was a bunch of people trying to cross the border to Turkey," said a Turkish Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity according to diplomatic protocol. "While one of the groups tried to pass, there were shots fired from the Syrian side, I assume from the Syrian soldiers... two people were shot, one died on the Syrian side of the border, and (his body) was also carried with a wounded guy to the Turkish side."

A video emerging on YouTube showed an apparently dead man lying on the floor with blood leaking from his head. Off camera, a man says in Arabic "they shot him, the snipers." The video identified the victim as Abdul Salam Hasoon.

The description of the incident and the name of the victim were both confirmed by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"He was killed by snipers from the Syrian side while he was crossing the border," wrote the Observatory's Mousab Azzawi, in an e-mail to CNN.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, at least 330 Syrians fled on Monday through an old border checkpoint at the Turkish village of Belengoz. more

Bangladesh's 'golden fibre' Jute comes back from the brink: Is old technology the way to revitalize the world economy?

Jute, a vegetable fibre that can be spun into sackcloth, used to be the 'golden fibre' of Bangladesh.

It brought much-needed foreign income to the impoverished nation.

But it lost its lustre in the 1980s after synthetic materials like polythene and plastics were introduced.

Now the natural fibre has made a spectacular comeback.

Exports of jute and jute products from Bangladesh this fiscal year crossed a record billion dollars as demand for the natural fibre is steadily increasing.

With growing environmental awareness, jute, which is bio-degradable, has become the preferred alternative to polluting synthetic bags.

Jute is considered to be the second most important natural fibre after cotton in terms of cultivation and usage. It is mainly grown in eastern India, Bangladesh, China and Burma.

Until recently the fibre was used mostly as a packaging material. With a diversification of jute products, the demand for jute has increased. more

31 killed in South Yemen in airstrike

At least 31 people were killed and more than 23 injured when government airstrikes hit a mosque and other buildings in downtown Jaar on Monday, a security official said.

A senior security official in Jaar confirmed the air attacks but called it a mistake. He confirmed that wanted militants were at the area of the attack one hour earlier.

"The air raids were targeting extremists in the area. We give our condolence to the families who lost a loved one," said the official, who is not authorized to talk to media.

The air raid hit a governmental compound, which comprises a mosque, residential area, a hospital, and governmental offices.

Eyewitnesses said that at least three aircraft were seen flying over the skies of Jaar just minutes before the attack took place.

An air strike hit a side of a mosque causing damages to neighboring shops as well. Also hit was school, a court building and a government complex.

Locals in Jaar were angered at why government forces were attacking areas where civilians reside and not targeting places were militant's control. "All those who died were civilians who we know and were never involved in any violence," said Nasser Attaf, a resident of Jaar. more

Wildfires rip through sun-scorched Texas



Firefighters southeast of Austin, Texas, battled strong winds Monday as they struggled to gain ground against a fast-moving wildfire that has so far scorched some 25,000 acres and destroyed close to 500 homes.

Another fire in eastern Texas killed a mother and her 18-month-old child when flames engulfed their mobile home Sunday near Gladewater, the Gregg County Sheriff's Department said.

"We got a long way to go to get this thing contained," Gov. Rick Perry said about the fire raging near Austin. "I have seen a number of big fires in my life. This one is as mean looking as I've ever seen."

Dozens of fires are burning across the parched state, the Texas Forest Service said Monday.

Earlier, the governor issued a statement in which he called the wildfire situation in Texas "severe" and said that all state resources were being made available to protect lives and property. more

Is the euro doomed?

After a summer fraught with uncertainty, investors in Europe returned this week from holiday to find the eurozone sovereign debt crisis may actually be getting worse.

The European Union made a grand gesture in July, promising more bailout money for Greece and pledging additional support for other nations with massive debts and weak economies.

But the situation has deteriorated since then. In August, stock markets across Europe went into a tailspin thanks to a deteriorating global economic outlook.

The pain did not let up on Monday, with stocks plunging in London, Frankfurt and Paris. European shares briefly rebounded Tuesday after the Swiss National Bank moved to stabilize the nation's currency.

But stocks in Europe turned lower again as the day wore on. Investors remain worried that the 12-year-old euro currency may not survive the crisis in its current form. more

Are Palestinians ready for statehood?

The offices of the Palestinian Ministry of Planning, in Ramallah's upscale al-Masyoun neighborhood, were all abuzz last week. The civil servants on staff were just finishing a much anticipated report due to be submitted at the end of September, just in time for the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.

The report is an assessment of what is known as the Fayyad plan, named after the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad. This middle-aged man is well liked by Western government leaders, who never miss the opportunity to praise his talents and integrity. In August 2009, Fayyad had announced that he would give himself two years to build the foundations of a legitimate nation, which could then be promptly proclaimed to the international community.

"The main message of this report is that we are ready to run our own country," explains Bashar Juma'a, a senior executive at the Ministry of Planning. "We follow the lines of the reports made by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which have acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority made progress and which have concluded that we deserve to have a real state." more

Youths on the economic scrap heap

A cold economic freeze has taken control of the economies of the Caribbean countries as the recession has tightened its hold on the economies of Western Europe, the USA and North America. Several European Nations are struggling for economic and social survival as their economies flounder on the brink of disaster. The Caribbean economies are small with a narrow or non-existent manufacturing base. Most, like St. Kitts and Nevis are overly dependent on a fickle industry called tourism. The tourism industry has been declining in this Federation since 2004. The negative impact was felt from 2008 to the present. Unemployment in that sector has increased and there is no visible end in sight.

The harsh economic realities of the Recession which is crippling the Federation must be faced. Principle amongst these is unemployment and a reduction in the level of investment as aggregate demand in the economy falls. Youth unemployment has been rising at a pace that threatens social stability in the short run and poses serious economic as well as social problems for the future. During a Recession in this Federation, history suggests that the least skilled and experienced workers are always the first to lose their jobs in tough times. Young people and older workers are twice as likely to be laid off. With hundreds leaving the High Schools and the College every summer, the negative economic and social effects are alarming. Those most severely affected are the young unskilled males in the poorest sectors of the country. The CDB Poverty Assessment Report (2008) commented that this segment of the population has no savings or career prospects and live in overcrowded housing. This accounts for 24% of the population who are unable to afford a plate of food daily. The report commented that the poor live in overcrowded conditions and their children are denied the relevant amount of calories which will enable them to learn properly in school. more

German endgame for EMU draws ever nearer

For fifty years Germany has invariably stumped up the money required to keep Europe’s Project on track, responding to unreasonable demands with grace and generosity.

It bankrolled French farmers through the Common Agricultural Policy, that disguised tithe for war reparations. It then bankrolled Spanish farmers as well.

It funded each new wave of EU expansion, though reeling itself from the €60bn annual cost of its own reunification. It gave up the cherished D-Mark, the anchor of German economic stability.

We are so used to German self-abnegation for the sake of Europe that we can hardly imagine any other state of affairs. But the escalating protest against EMU bail-outs by Germany’s key insistutions go beyond the banalities of money. The fight is over German democracy itself.

Those who talk of a Fourth Reich or believe that EMU is a "German racket to take over the whole of Europe" – as Nicholas Ridley famously put it -- have the matter backwards.

Germans allowed their country to be tied down with "silken chords". They are the most reliable defenders of freedom and parliamentary prerogative in Europe, precisely because they know their history. more

European banks face collapse under debts, warns Deutsche Bank chief Josef Ackermann

Josef Ackermann, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest bank, has warned that "numerous" European lenders would collapse if they were forced to book their losses on stricken sovereign bonds.

Mr Ackermann said that the value of billions of euros of loans has plunged to a level that could overwhelm smaller banks.

He told a conference in Frankfurt: "Numerous European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels."

Mr Ackermann said market conditions were as febrile as the height of the banking crisis. "We should resign ourselves to the fact that the 'new normality' is characterised by volatility and uncertainty," he said. "All this reminds one of the autumn of 2008."

The volatility was demonstrated as Deutsche Bank shares tumbled 8.9pc as banks led a stock markets lower across Europe.

Deutsche Bank's shares closed at €23.79, valuing the company at €21.6bn (£18.9bn) - its lowest level since it completed a €10.2bn rights issue last October. The Stoxx Europe 600 banking index fell to its lowest level for 29 months. The DAX fell to its lowest level in two years. more

Tourist David Copp complained about sight of fish in harbour... that was meant for fishing... then went to newspaper over disrespected holidaymakers

Most holiday makers taking a stroll around a working harbour might expect to see the odd fish.

But when David Copp came across a fishing trawler moored in Ilfracombe Harbour he took great offence and complained about the “disgusting” smell.

The 46-year-old was outraged that his children, aged seven and nine, had been forced to endure the sight of 12 crates of dead fish and crabs, piled up on the quayside.

He said the ordeal had left them “quite distressed” and demanded to know why the harbourmaster was not more considerate to tourists.

“There were flies flying around and the smell was awful,” he said. “The ship was just sat there not doing anything, and there were 12 crates of dead crabs and fish just lying there covered in flies.

“It’s not the sort of thing you want to see on holiday, there was a real stench." more

IMF: global economy faces a 'threatening downward spiral'

The International Monetary Fund has called on the US and Europe to abandon fiscal austerity and switch to stimulus measures, warning that the global economy faces a "threatening downward spiral".

Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing-director, said the outlook had darkened suddenly over the summer.

"There has been a clear crisis of confidence that has seriously aggravated the situation. Measures need to be taken to ensure that this vicious circle is broken," she said.

"The spectrum of policies available is narrower because a lot of ammunition was used in 2009. But if governments, institutions and central banks work together, we'll avoid recession," she told Der Spiegel.

The comments come at the start of a dramatic week for the eurozone as Italy prepares to roll over record sums of debt and Germany's constitutional court issues its long-awaited verdict on the legality of the EU's bail-out machinery.

Markets are already tense after the EU-IMF 'Troika' withdrew abruptly from Athens on Friday, accusing the Greek government of failing to comply with rescue terms. more

When it comes to the crunch with the euro, economics will trump law

As the euro crisis has intensified, so the previously unthinkable has become the subject of widespread discussion. People have woken up to the idea that the euro could break up.

But everywhere you hear the same refrain: how do you break up a monetary union? And if it cannot be broken up then surely it must hold together.

There is no provision in any European Treaty for a country to leave the eurozone. That was deliberate. It was intended to make it clear that the eurozone was forever – like the Soviet Union and the Holy Roman Empire. But in fact you cannot legislate for changing economic conditions or changes in peoples' attitudes.

Countries have left monetary unions before. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, several new currencies had to be invented out of nowhere. Yes, there was chaos – and there would surely be chaos for a time in the eurozone. But it could be done. When it comes to the crunch, what is and is not in the European Treaties will become irrelevant. Economics will trump law.

There is, though, a critical problem. For an exit from the euro by a single member country, or the split of the euro into two or more parts, not to be extremely messy, you need planning and careful forethought, requiring discussion and the exploration of possibilities.

Yet, to avoid precipitating a banking collapse, never mind other sorts of economic dislocation, you need absolute secrecy and surprise. After all, if people thought that such a change was coming they would try to withdraw money from vulnerable countries' banks and this could prompt a banking collapse and a serious economic crisis. more

Russia successfully tests veteran missile with new warhead that can penetrate missile shields

Russia on Saturday successfully tested its Topol strategic missile with a new warhead designed to breach missile shields, Russian news agencies reported, citing the defence ministry.

"The experimental warhead of the missile hit the designated target with high precision at the testing site on Kamchatka peninsula," a spokesman for the strategic rocket forces told the Interfax news agency.

The Topol intercontinental missile used has been operational for 23 years and was being tested to check its durability in extended use, the spokesman said.

The missile was fired from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region to its target area around 6,000 kilometres (3,730 miles) to the east. source

Sub-prime crisis returns to haunt banks with a £121 billion lawsuit

Four years after the collapse of sub-prime mortgages turned a market that had been a matter of interest to just a couple of thousand highly paid traders and investors into the starting gun of a global financial meltdown, they are back and threatening to wreak new damage on the banking system.

On Friday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) filed a $196bn (£121bn) lawsuit against 17 banks it alleges sold toxic mortgage-backed securities to government-supported mortgage banks Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fannie Mae, which was founded in the 1930s to supply home loans in the midst of the Great Depression, and Freddie Mac, formed in the 1970s to provide competition to Fannie, bought hundreds of billions of dollars of complex debt securities consisting of sub-prime loans from banks, including several of the largest lenders in the US.

All fairly predictable, of more surprise to the British reader might have been the naming of three UK-based banks by the US authorities: Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Together the three banks are accused of selling securities worth $41.5bn to Fannie and Freddie that they knew to be of poor quality.

Of these, by far the largest claim is against RBS, which through its US-based investment banking arm RBS Securities was hit with a $30.4bn claim, compared with $6.2bn for HSBC and $4.9bn for Barclays. more

1 in 4 Americans can't name a living scientist

Embedded in a New York Times story today on groups calling for scientists to take a more active role in public life is a statistic that caught our eye: When asked to name a scientist, 47 percent of Americans picked Albert Einstein, who has been dead for 56 years. The second most well-known scientist? Yeah, we're not sure either--23 percent answered "I don't know." Another survey revealed that only 4 percent of Americans could name a living scientist. (Stephen Hawking! Come on, people.)

The Times summoned these stats to illustrate the disconnect between the realms of science and politics. Several groups in the U.S. are prodding scientists, who are generally well-informed on energy and global warming and other heavily debated topics in politics, to speak out in their areas of expertise and even run for political office. Only a handful of members of the U.S. House of Representatives--31 of 435--are "technically trained" in a field of science, according to The Times. source

Japanese official: Fukushima nuclear plant stabilization ahead of schedule (Say what?!)

Efforts to stabilize Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, crippled by a March tsunami which triggered a nuclear crisis, are running ahead of schedule, according to the president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant.

Toshio Nishizawa told CNN Monday he hopes to achieve the second phase of the shutdown before a January deadline.

"I cannot promise you, but if things go smoothly with careful control, it is possible to bring the cold shutdown forward," said Nishizawa.

Cold shutdown requires a stable winding down of the operations of the reactors at a temperature under 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).

Cooling systems at Fukushima Daiichi, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, were knocked out by the tsunami which followed a massive earthquake March 11.

The disaster triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, as the cores of reactors 1-3 overheated and spewed huge amounts of radioactive contamination across the surrounding area. more

Leaked Cables Offer Glimpses Into Relations of U.S. and China

This capital city’s skies were clogged with pollution, as is often the case, and China’s government was concerned. So it summoned officials of the American Embassy here to a meeting.

But the session had nothing to do with hazy skies. Rather, Chinese officials were peeved that the Americans were monitoring pollution themselves, and posting on Twitter for anyone to read, their more precise findings, which usually judged the smog far worse than official Chinese readings.

Chinese officials feared the conflicting information “might lead to ‘social consequences,’ ” an American Embassy cable quoted the officials as saying. So could the Americans please block Chinese citizens from visiting the Web site?

That July 2009 cable, posted on the WikiLeaks Web site on Friday, is one of hundreds from the American Embassy in Beijing that offer a glimpse into the depths, and heights, of relations between the United States and Chinese governments. The cables, involving secret but not very diplomatically delicate correspondence between the two powers, cover topics ranging from China’s claims on the South China Sea to the daily exercise regimen that the Chongqing Communist Party secretary, Bo Xilai, designed for himself.

Their revelation appears unlikely to ruffle diplomatic relations. But they could lead to serious consequences for Chinese academics, students and others who talked frankly to American officials, and who are identified, either by name or by precise description, in cables dealing with analyses of Chinese positions. more

Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs: Incredibly interesting video and analysis

Dwarf Planet Mysteries Beckon to New Horizons

At this very moment one of the fastest spacecraft ever launched - NASA's New Horizons - is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and still has four more years of travel to go.

New Horizons headed for the lonely world of Pluto on the outer edge of the solar system.

Although astronomers now call Pluto a dwarf planet, "it's actually a large place, about 5,000 miles around at the equator," says Alan Stern, principal investigator for the mission. "And it's never been explored."

Indeed, no spacecraft has ever visited Pluto or any dwarf planet.

"This is a whole new class of worlds," says Stern. "To understand the solar system, we need to understand worlds like Pluto."

Pluto is a resident of the Kuiper Belt, a vast region beyond the orbit of Neptune. Stern believes "the Kuiper Belt contains a thousand dwarf planets or more - a whole zoo of them! Dwarf planets are, in fact, the most numerous class of planets in the solar system, and probably in the whole universe."

Pluto is a world of mysteries. For one thing, Stern wonders, what are the molasses-colored patches on Pluto's surface seen by the Hubble Space Telescope? Some scientists think they could be deposits of primordial organic matter. "New Horizon's spectrometers will help us identify the kinds of organic molecules on Pluto. We expect to find something pretty interesting." more

Alien Life More Likely on Dune Planets

Desert planets strikingly like the world depicted in the science fiction classic "Dune" might be the more common type of habitable planet in the galaxy, rather than watery planets such as Earth, researchers suggest.

Their findings also hint that Venus might have been a habitable desert world as recently as 1 billion years ago.

Nearly everywhere there is water on Earth, there is life. As such, the search for life elsewhere in the universe has largely focused on "aqua planets" with a lot of liquid water on their surfaces - either terrestrial planets largely covered with oceans, such as Earth, or theoretical "ocean planets" completely covered by a layer of water hundreds of miles deep, somewhat like thawed versions of Jupiter's moon Ganymede.

To be habitable, aqua planets must orbit their stars in a so-called "Goldilocks zone" where they are neither too hot nor too cold. If they are too far from the Sun, they freeze; if they are too close, steam builds up in their atmospheres, trapping heat that vaporizes still more water, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect that boils all the oceans off the planet, as apparently happened on Venus. more

Arms manufacturer investigates how Gadhafi got German rifles

Libyan rebels captured a stockpile of rifles, made by Heckler & Koch, in Gadhafi's compound last month. Both the company and the German government maintain that they never sold such rifles to the Gadhafi regime.

German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch plans to send an investigative team to Libya in order to find out how a cache of its assault rifles ended up in the ends of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

"We are in close contact with the authorities and plan to send a diverse team of experts to Tripoli in order to investigate the matter with the relevant authorities on the ground," managing director Martin Lemperle told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Libyan rebels seized a stockpile of G36 KV model rifles after storming Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli last month. The G36 is the standard issue weapon for the German armed forces and is also used by many foreign militaries.

Markings on the G36 KV rifles indicate that they were manufactured in 2003. Although every weapon made by Heckler & Koch can be traced by its serial number, the numbers on the rifles found in Gadhafi's compound had been filed off and replaced with different ones. more