Thursday, September 8, 2011

California Blackout shuts down San Onofre nuclear reactors and leaves 1.4 Million without power - 8th Sept 2011

The blackout affecting large swaths of San Diego County led to a shutdown of two reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, said the power outage did not cause any safety issues. Alexander said a fluctuation in power caused the reactors to shut down at 3:38 p.m. but that the overall plant continues to have power.

He said the system worked as it was supposed to during a loss of power.

Across San Diego, businesses are closed, traffic is snarled and the trolley system is down. San Diego International Airport was on backup generators.

There were reports that power was also out in southern Orange County, Imperial County, Tijuana, Arizona and Palm Springs.

The city of San Diego has set up its emergency operations center. Source

Note: Article from earlier 8th of September

Solar Eruption Tuesday 6th Sept 2011 to reach earth Friday 9th of September 2011

Could this have caused the blackouts? Read More

Massive blackout hits California, Arizona and Mexico
- Leaving over 2 Million without Power. Read More

The Coming Crisis' official response to Obama's $300 billion dollar jobs plan

Syrian government pursuing defectors -- 5 soldiers recently killed, dozens arrested

The column of military vehicles rolled into the village of Ibleen shortly after dawn on Thursday. Residents said artillery fire and machine gun fire followed soon after.

The troops left a path of destruction in their wake.

A video distributed on the internet by opposition activists shows several burned-out cars, the charred carcass of a motorcycle and a torched pick-up truck. Empty bullet casings litter the ground outside a home that has clearly been ransacked. A thick trail of blood leads from a discarded plastic sandal up a set of crude earthen stairs.

The target of the raid, residents said, were a group of at least eleven soldiers who had taken shelter in Ibleen after defecting from the Syrian army.

"This is the village of Hussein Harmoush," said a resident who only gave his first name Yousuf, to protect himself from government retribution. He was referring to a Syrian army officer who defected months ago and began broadcasting video statements denouncing the Syrian government, before eventually fleeing to neighboring Turkey.

In a phone call with CNN, Yousuf said at least five defector soldiers were killed in the Ibleen raid. more

20 Quotes From European Leaders That Prove That They Know That The Financial System In Europe Is Doomed

The financial crisis in Europe has become so severe that it has put the future of the euro, and indeed the future of the EU itself, in doubt. If the financial system in Europe collapses, it is going to plunge the entire globe into chaos. The EU has a larger economy and a larger population than the United States does. The EU also has more Fortune 500 companies that the United States does. If the financial system in Europe breaks down, we are all doomed. An economic collapse in Europe would unleash a financial tsunami that would sweep across the globe. As I wrote about yesterday, the nightmarish sovereign debt crisis in Europe could potentially bring about the end of the euro. The future of the monetary union in Europe is being questioned all over the continent. Without massive bailouts, there are at least 5 or 6 nations in Europe that will likely soon default. The political will for continued bailouts is rapidly failing in northern Europe, so something needs to be done quickly to avert disaster. Unfortunately, as anyone that has ever lived in Europe knows, things tend to move very, very slowly in Europe.

If the bailouts end and Europe is not able to come up with another plan before then, mass chaos is going to unleashed. Most major European banks are massively exposed to European sovereign debt, and most of them are also very, very highly leveraged. If we see nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy start to default, we could have quite a few major European banks go down in rapid succession. That could be the “tipping point” that sets off mass financial panic around the globe. more

Many in U.S. slip from middle class, study finds

Nearly one in three Americans who grew up middle-class has slipped down the income ladder as an adult, according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Downward mobility is most common among middle-class people who are divorced or separated from their spouses, did not attend college, scored poorly on standardized tests, or used hard drugs, the report says.

“A middle-class upbringing does not guarantee the same status over the course of a lifetime,” the report says.

The study focused on people who were middle-class teenagers in 1979 and who were between 39 and 44 years old in 2004 and 2006. It defines people as middle-class if they fall between the 30th and 70th percentiles in income distribution, which for a family of four is between $32,900 and $64,000 a year in 2010 dollars.

People were deemed downwardly mobile if they fell below the 30th percentile in income, if their income rank was 20 or more percentiles below their parents’ rank, or if they earn at least 20 percent less than their parents. The findings do not cover the difficult times that the nation has endured since 2007. more

Hartmann with Dr. Helen Caldicott: Should Northwest Japan be Evacuated?

Was Fed Raid on Gibson Guitar Company Enforcing Policy, or a Push to Target 'Made in the USA'?

They are among the most sought-after musical instruments in the world. Everyone from Chet Atkins to Les Paul to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin to Slash of Guns n’ Roses played them. A vintage 1959 Les Paul guitar can go for as much as $400,000. Almost every kid who has dreams of music stardom wants a Gibson guitars.

Gibson is also a company that is proud to put the “Made in the USA” label on its instruments. While the company has lower-end lines that are made overseas, every guitar that bears the “Gibson” label is made in the U.S. by American workers.

On August 24, armed agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Homeland Security raided the corporate headquarters and two factories of the Gibson Guitar company. The agencies took away 24 pallets of Indian rosewood and ebony, as well as a number of guitars and computer files.

The federal agents’ contention is that Gibson had illegally imported the exotic wood, which is used to make fretboards and bridges for their high-end instruments. Under the 1900 Lacey Act, which was amended in 2008 to include wood products, American companies must abide by the laws of source countries when importing products. The intent of the law is to protect endangered species of wildlife and plants. U.S. Fish and Wildlife claims that the Gibson wood – in the form of fingerboard ‘blanks’ -- was illegal to export from India and therefore illegal to import into the United States. more

NRC Increases Oversight At Fort Calhoun Nuke Plant -- Why has it disappeared from the news?

Tripoli: Law And Order Left To 'Vigilantes'

The collapse of Libya's old regime has left a power vacuum, as ordinary citizens, including lawyers, accountants and footballers, take up arms to protect their neighbourhoods.

His eyes hidden behind dark glasses, Muhannad leads us into the backstreet headquarters of his rebel group.

These are not just fighters who have taken up arms to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi - they are now running their community.

They show us around the building. Room after room has men carrying out assigned duties.

Two men sit behind a desk making identity cards.

In another we are shown stockpiles of food to be handed out to the community. more

Japan Reaps An All-time High FX Reserves Record After Yen Intervention In August

Driven by fears that its soaring yen may thwart its economic recovery following a destructive earthquake and tsunami in March, the Japanese government has played a hand in the currency market on August 4.

Jun Azumi, minister for Japanese Ministry of Finance told Reuters reporters that on August 4, the government spent a record high of 4.5129 trillion yen, resulting in an August foreign reserves value of $1.22 trillion, a 0.07 trillion difference from July's $ 1.15 trillion foreign reserves.

The huge expenditure also provided a brief lift to dollar as it traded above 80 yen. But after two weeks, the U.S. dollar went down to 75.941 per yen.

Azumi was quoted on the report that the amount spent was the biggest expenditure of the government in the currency market compared to 2.125 trillion spent on Sep 15, 2010. On Wednesday, the U.S. dollar traded with yen at 77.50 after the Swiss National Bank put an exchange rate cap on its skyrocketing franc, a move that shocked the whole markets. more

Weird Quantum Effect Can Make Materials Transparent

When you shine light on a substance, part of the light is reflected, part is transmitted and part is absorbed. If you choose the color of light and the substance sensibly, you can arrange things so that all the light is absorbed. Nothing special about that, right? OK, but what if you could shine a second light on the substance and make it transparent for the first light field? That would be a bit strange, wouldn’t it?

Electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT), as it is called, is a bizarre phenomenon all by itself. But there is nothing like taking the bizarre and making it even more so. A group of researchers has shown that, under the right conditions, this second light field doesn’t have to hit the substance to make EIT work—it only has to have the potential to be there. My response: OMFG, that is too cool to be true.

EIT occurs due to an interaction between two light fields that is mediated via an atom. Atoms absorb light in discrete chunks. Normally, an atom would be sitting in a single ground state, but some atoms have two states that are at about the same energy and are about as stable. In this case, we can think of the atom as having two ground states. Through careful preparation, we can generate a group of these atoms so that they are all in just one of the two ground states. If I turn on a light field (called the probe light) with the right color, it will be absorbed by the atoms, putting them into an excited state. more

Massive Hack Attack Forces Dutch Return to Paper and Pencil

The Dutch government Tuesday sought to contain a hacking scandal officials believe originated in Iran that has forced segments of the country to return to the fax and paper age.

Prosecutors said they would investigate the company that was providing digital security for DigiD, a Dutch government site that allows citizens to access a large number of services, including filing taxes, signing up for university and donating organs. The provider—U.S.-owned, Netherlands-based DigiNotar—was dismissed by the government last week as officials disclosed the hacking.

In July, DigiNotar suffered the theft of hundreds of certificate codes used to prove a website's authenticity to viewers. Armed with these codes, hackers can secure security authentication for bogus websites, from which they can steal data and personal information entered by users. more

Man in Gumby costume attempts to rob 7-11 store, fails



Cartoons are now resorting to a life of crime.

San Diego police say a suspect, dressed up as Gumby, tried to rob a 7-Eleven on Labor Day.

The botched robbery happened just after midnight Monday in Rancho Penasquitos.

Surveillance tape shows the costumed bandit telling the clerk he is being robbed and reportedly demands a pack of cigarettes and cash. The flexible suspect then tried to pull out what he said was a gun from his costume.

Apparently flustered, Gumby dropped 27 cents on the floor and left the convenience store empty-handed. more

Mary Coleman, elderly woman, left to die after falling: Relatives decided they couldn't do anything, so went for a pizza instead

When Mary Coleman died in May 2009, two days after she fell to the floor at her sister's house, her sister and nephew decided there was nothing they could do about it and went out for pizza.

Then, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Veronica King and her son, Steven King, kept Coleman's death a secret, hiding her body in the basement and then the garage of the house on Whenona Drive until Madison police found her mummified remains more than three months later.

Steven and Veronica King told police that Coleman, 70, had fallen down in a bedroom on May 7, 2009, then lay there, talking now and then, until her death. "I told her quite frankly to shut up because that old woman in the backyard" would call the police, Steven King told police, according to the complaint.

After Coleman died, Veronica King told police, they didn't call to have her body removed "because we had other things to do that day," the complaint states. more

Mayo Study: Widespread Burnout Among New Doctors

A Mayo Clinic study finds that “burnout” and financial debt are widespread among doctors-in-training.

The survey involved more than 16,000 internal medicine residents and provides a disturbing diagnosis.

“Burnout and reports of low levels of quality of life were very common,” said lead researcher Dr. Colin West.

He said more than half of graduate medical students reported symptoms of burnout. Equally troubling was a finding that burnout — and high student debt — caused lower test scores.

“One theory is that the chronic stress that leads to burnout is inhibiting learning,” West said. more

US falls to 5th in global competitiveness

The U.S. has tumbled further down a global ranking of the world's most competitive economies, landing at fifth place because of its huge deficits and declining public faith in government, a global economic group said Wednesday.

The announcement by the World Economic Forum was the latest bad news for the Obama administration, which has been struggling to boost the sinking U.S. economy and lower an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent.

Switzerland held onto the top spot for the third consecutive year in the annual ranking by the Geneva-based forum, which is best known for its exclusive meeting of luminaries in Davos, Switzerland, each January. more

UK GPs ordered to ration cancer scans: Lives 'being put at risk' by bureaucrats' new cost-saving directive

Family doctors have been ordered to ration the number of patients they send for life-saving cancer scans to save money.

They are being told to slash the number they refer to hospital for tests including ultrasounds, MRIs and CT scans commonly used to spot tumours.

Last night experts warned the cost-saving measures increased the risk of patients being diagnosed too late and dying unnecessarily.

Britain has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe, and experts say late diagnosis is to blame.

The cuts are being brought in despite Government pledges to give GPs better access to cancer tests in the hope of saving 5,000 lives a year. more

500 Longshoremen union members storm Washington State Port, damage railroad and hold guards hostage

Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.

Six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, he said.

No one was hurt, and nobody has been arrested. Most of the protesters returned to their union hall after cutting brake lines and spilling grain from car at the EGT terminal, Duscha said.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that's staffing a workforce of other union laborers.

Thursday's violence was first reported by Kelso radio station KLOG.

Police from several agencies in southwest Washington, the Washington State Patrol and Burlington Northern Santa Fe responded to the violence to secure the scene that followed a demonstration Wednesday. more

Duck: Huge Defunct Satellite to Plunge to Earth Soon, NASA Says

Heads up! That's the word from NASA today (Sept. 7) given the impending re-entry of a 6.5-ton satellite through Earth's atmosphere.

The huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October. Much of the spacecraft is expected to burn up during re-entry, but some pieces are expected to make it intact to the ground, NASA officials said.

The U.S. space agency will be taking measures to inform the public about the pieces of the spacecraft that are expected to survive re-entry.

"It is too early to say exactly when UARS will re-enter and what geographic area may be affected, but NASA is watching the satellite closely and will keep you informed," NASA said in a statement released today (Sept. 7). more

No Paper Or Plastic? LA Shoppers Wary Of Proposed ‘Nightmare’ Ban (Sounds pretty good for the environment, though)

An effort to allow only reusable bags at Los Angeles grocery stores may sound like a political long-shot, but one city councilman thinks the public will eventually warm up to the initiative.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports just the suggestion of such a ban raised the eyebrows of several Southland shoppers.

The measure introduced by City Councilman Paul Koretz would prohibit all single-use plastic and paper bags in L.A. supermarkets and would require stores to sell or provide complimentary reusable or fiber bags only or risk a fine.

Koretz said that while banning plastic bags helps reduce land and ocean pollution, the single-use paper bag still contributes significantly to the local waste stream.

Some local shoppers, however, were less than enthused about the proposal.

“I think they can find a different way to make improvements to the city,” one man said.

“It’d probably be good for the planet in the long run, but short-term I could see it being a nightmare,” another shopper said. more

Montgomery County police dogs get bulletproof vests

Dogs in the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office will be getting four new bulletproof vests, thanks to a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, founded by the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.

The dogs receiving the vests are trained to detect explosives, as well as to help officers on their regular patrols.

"The grant funds will provide our dogs with vests that protect them from attacks with firearms and knifes while engaged in their duties," said Sheriff Darren Popkin.

The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is distributing grants like this one to police and fire departments in Pittsburgh and the cities and surrounding communities of each Steelers regular season away game. more

In burning Texas county, a collection spot for displaced animals

The wildfire relief effort and national media presence at the Bastrop Convention and Exhibit Center look very much like those I've seen at other natural disasters.

Volunteers directing cars and people, truckloads of bottled water arriving like clockwork, residents poring over message boards for scarce nuggets of information, and a parking lot full of television trucks make this scene feel much like those during other wildfires and even recent tornadoes.

But 15 miles up the road, in Elgin, Texas, you'll find a decidedly Texas scene behind the Elgin VFW, where the Texas Lost Pines Riding Club rodeo arena has been converted into a triage center for horses, donkeys, mules, cows, goats, chickens, rabbits, geese and other animals that have been evacuated from the path of the deadly fire.

There's no pavement in the arena parking lot. A dry and dusty gravel road leads into the property, and the few journalists who are here parked their trucks in the grass. Pickup trucks roll in every few minutes – some with horse trailers, others with bails of hay.

The animals are off-loaded from trailers, placed into pens constructed with donated fence panels, documented and eventually sent to nearby areas that can house them until the danger passes. more

OECD urges fast action to avoid recession

he U.S. and rich nations in Europe need to take action to shore up confidence in their economies as their recoveries are set to stagnate or go into reverse, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Thursday.

The Paris-based watchdog for the world's most developed economies slashed its forecast for growth in the U.S. and the eurozone this year due to government belt-tightening and falling consumer and business confidence.

The agency's head economist said governments need to take urgent steps to restore confidence and break the vicious circle in which they are trapped.

"We are seeing a huge drop in confidence both in business and households, which for us reflects perceptions that markets have about how policymakers are responding, both in long and short term," OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan told the Associated Press.

The U.S. will grow by only 1.4 percent this year, the agency said, down sharply from a forecast of 2.6 percent only three months ago. The combined economies of Germany, France and Italy, the three largest members of the eurozone, will grow by under 1 percent this year, less than half the OECD's May forecast of 2 percent growth. more

Millions Homeless After Floods Hit Pakistan

Millions of people in Pakistan have been forced from their homes by a tide of floodwater after five days of heavy monsoon rains.

The authorities said the country is once again on the brink of a national "calamity" and that the flooding is comparable to a similar disaster in 2010.

In flooding last year, 2,000 people were killed and 11 million lost their homes.

The worst affected area is Sindh in the south of Pakistan.

Provincial chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said more than five million people have been made homeless and thousands of villages have been swallowed up by the rising waters.

It is now a desperate time for the displaced as they struggle to find higher ground to build shelter and stay safe. more

Paradox: The world's most economically prosperous countries in pictures (And yet, why are these countries among those in greatest financial trouble?)

New Tech Gives Soldiers Predator-Style Heat Vision

When hunting for terrorists, seeing them before they see you is a must.

Regular night-vision goggles are good, but not good enough. Sure, they let a soldier see at night as well as he would by day -- but they don't let him see any better. That just changed.

A new device developed over seven years by Optics1 gives warfighters "Predator"-style vision to better tag those terrorists and other threats. Only recently made available, the COTI (Clip On Thermal Imager) adds the ability to see thermal signals to to existing night-vision devices.

The human eye sees light with a wavelength between 400 and 700 nanometers, while a night-vision device may see up to around 900, closing in on the infrared range. The COTI amps the warfighter's vision into a whole different spectrum -- giving the soldier souped up, super vision.

COTI's long-wave infrared technology allows a warfighter to "see" even in pitch-black or no light conditions. By using an 8- through 10-micron range, it can give the user "sight" in spite of smoke, foliage, fog, rain and other conditions where standard devices provide only limited capability.

While basic camouflage can defeat ordinary night-vision devices, it can't fool the COTI's ability to detect thermal sources. It can even identify whether a vehicle or a room has been recently occupied by "seeing" residual heat signatures. Arguably even cooler, it can spot hand- and footprints invisible to the naked eye. more

Magnitude 4.2 quake - THE NETHERLANDS

Magnitude4.2
Date-Time
Location51.779°N, 5.960°E
Depth14.3 km (8.9 miles)
RegionTHE NETHERLANDS
Distances
  • 49 km (30 miles) S (179°) from Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
  • 50 km (31 miles) NE (39°) from Eindhoven, The Netherlands
  • 69 km (43 miles) NW (306°) from Duisburg, Germany
  • 96 km (60 miles) SE (131°) from AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 16.3 km (10.1 miles); depth +/- 9.9 km (6.2 miles)
ParametersNST= 49, Nph= 62, Dmin=236 km, Rmss=1.59 sec, Gp= 68°,
M-type=local magnitude (ML), Version=5
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusc0005r6w

Unsolved Mysteries Poison Rain - 10th Nov 2009

Stabbing In Same Spot As Conker Row Murder - 8th Sept 2011

A teenager has been stabbed in the same spot where a man was killed after remonstrating with conker-throwing youths, police have said.

The 15-year-old boy was attacked near Silver Street railway station in Edmonton, north London.

He was taken to hospital and is in a serious but stable condition.

Two people have been arrested over the stabbing, Scotland Yard confirmed.

Detectives were said to be "unaware" of any direct link with the murder of 21-year-old Steven Grisales last week.

Mr Grisales was stabbed on the evening of August 31 after a confrontation with a group of youths throwing conkers as he walked past.

He died the following day in hospital after suffering a single stab wound to the heart.

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with his murder and appeared in court on Wednesday.

The deceased man's father, Andres Grisales, said his son was a "great boy" whose brothers and sisters were "devastated" by his death.

:: Anyone with information relating to either attack can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Source

Mandatory Evacuation Ordered For 100,000 In Northeastern Pennsylvania - 8th Sept 2011

Officials in northeastern Pennsylvania called for a mandatory evacuation of more than 100,000 residents living along the Susquehanna River on Thursday due to expected flooding. The area was inundated in the historic Agnes flood of 1972.

Luzerne County Management Agency official Frank Lasiewicki told The Associated Press Thursday the river is projected to crest at 41 feet between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday - the same height as the levee system protecting riverfront communities including Wilkes-Barre and Kingston.

Residents were ordered to leave by 4 p.m.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said residents should prepare for an extended evacuation of 72 hours and advised them to take clothing, food and prescription medicine. He also asked city businesses to close their doors by noon.

The evacuations come as the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped heavy rain and caused havoc around the Northeast on Thursday, bringing floods that cut off major highways and caused some schools to open late or not at all.

Flood watches and warnings were in effect from Maryland to New England.

Roads and highways were closed around the region. In Philadelphia, flooding and a rock slide closed the eastbound lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway, a major artery into the city, and it could take hours for the road to reopen. In New York, the Thruway Authority expected Thursday to close a 105-mile stretch of Interstate 90 where it runs along the Mohawk River, which had overflowed its banks in some areas. It's the state's most heavily traveled east-west highway.

In eastern New York, thousands of people were expected to evacuate the flood-battered Binghamton area Thursday, and some schools were closed in the surrounding area. Read More

Milwaukee child hospitalized with measles, health department reports - Officials urge vaccinations as investigation begins - 7th Sept 2011

A Milwaukee child is hospitalized with a confirmed case of highly contagious measles, the Milwaukee Health Department reported Wednesday afternoon.

The child is a refugee whose family moved to the city at the end of August, according to Health Commissioner Bevan Baker and Paul Biedrzycki, disease control and environmental health director.

The child was not contagious while traveling to Milwaukee by plane, Biedrzycki confirmed. A person infected with measles is considered contagious four days before symptoms appear and four days after symptoms disappear. Measles, one of the most contagious airborne diseases, has an incubation period of seven to 21 days.

No other information about the child - his or her country of origin, age, gender or location of hospitalization - was released, as the investigation just began. Health officials said they are working to identify and contact anyone who came into contact with the child during the contagious period.

Baker said the health department has notified health care providers to be on the lookout for patients with measles symptoms.

The virus that causes measles spreads easily and rapidly through the air from coughing and sneezing. Symptoms are cold-like, followed by a red, blotchy rash that first appears at the hairline and then proceeds down the trunk to the arms and legs.

The first symptom usually is fever. The measles rash doesn't usually appear until about 14 days after exposure and two to three days after the fever begins. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake MINDORO, PHILIPPINES - 8th September 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Mindoro, Philippines at a depth of 93.4 km (58 miles), the quake hit at 15:19:47 UTC Thursday 8th September 2011.
The epicenter was 32 km (19 miles) WNW of Calapan, Mindoro, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Pennsylvania flooding forces 100,000 out of homes

Officials in northeastern Pennsylvania called for a mandatory evacuation of more than 100,000 residents living along the Susquehanna River on Thursday due to expected flooding.

Luzerne County Management Agency official Frank Lasiewicki told The Associated Press Thursday the river is projected to crest at almost 12.5 metres between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET Thursday — the same height as the levee system protecting riverfront communities including Wilkes-Barre and Kingston.

Residents were ordered to leave by 4 p.m.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said residents should prepare for an extended evacuation of 72 hours and advised them to take clothing, food and prescription medicine. He also asked city businesses to close their doors by noon.

The evacuations come as the remnants of tropical storm Lee dumped heavy rain and caused havoc around the Northeast on Thursday, bringing floods that cut off major highways and caused some schools to open late or not at all.

Flood watches and warnings were in effect from Maryland to New England. more

Canadians living paycheque to paycheque (welcome to the club!)

Most Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque and would be in financial difficulty if their pay was even one week late, a new survey suggests.

A poll commissioned by the Canadian Payroll Association released Thursday found that 57 per cent of respondents couldn't deal with a one-week delay in their pay. The figure jumped to 63 per cent among workers between 18 and 34 years old. For single parents, it jumped to 74 per cent.

Financial planners recommend having an emergency fund with enough money to fund three months' worth of expenses, should the need arise.

Almost three quarters of respondents said they have saved less than a quarter of their retirement savings goal.

"This is particularly troubling when you realize that 71 per cent of the respondents are over the age of 35, with the bulk in their main saving years between 35 and 54," CPA chair Dianne Winsor said. more

Karabo: New fossils revise human evolution theories

A pair of two-million-year-old fossils with a mish-mash of human and ape characteristics have changed the way scientists think human-like features evolved.

A detailed analysis of an adult female and a young male of a species known as Australopithecus sediba reveals they had the most human-like pelvis and hand ever found, and a grapefruit-sized brain and an ape-like heel built for tree climbing, said a series of studies published Thursday in Science.

The species is "uniquely positioned… to be a good candidate ancestor for the earliest members of the genus Homo," said Lee Berger, the researcher at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, who led the project, in a podcast interview with Science.

"But if it is, the evolution… probably didn't happen the way we thought it did."
more

Philippines a forgotten front in war on terror: Video

CBC's Adrienne Arsenault visits the southern islands of the Philippines for an inside look at the lush, remote jungles that have become the forgotten front in the global fight against terrorism.

The islands are where the plans for the Sept. 11 attacks were hatched, and where al-Qaeda has deep roots, Arsenault reports in this exclusive documentary.

"In the Philippines, al-Qaeda had found the perfect incubator," she says.

The area had such strong links to international terror that after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. sent thousands of special forces to the area to help local forces deal with al-Qaeda and the Abu Sayyaf, an insurgency group that al-Qaeda helped train and fund.

"This became the second front in the global war on terror — really, the forgotten front — and the fight is far from over," Arsenault says. watch video here

Is the West losing Africa to China?

With Chinese yuan and Indian rupees increasingly finding their way into Africa's economies, Western powers are worried that they are losing influence in the resource-rich continent, according to analysts.

Driven by their appetite for natural resources, trade opportunities and political alliances, emerging powers such as China and India are moving from the sidelines to the center stage in Africa -- a region the West has long considered to be its own trading partner.

While Western countries are still important players in Africa's energy sector, the deepening engagement of China in Africa's infrastructure, mineral sector and telecommunications is creating "deep nervousness" in the West, says David Shinn, the former U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

The competition in these areas, he explains, usually pits big Chinese enterprises that are financially backed by Beijing's deep pockets against Western companies that often have shareholders to consider and are by-and-large acting independently of their governments' desires. more

Bad time to be a banker: More layoffs (...cue violins?)

The summer bloodletting from multinational banks isn’t over.

HSBC, a huge employer in Hong Kong and an anchor in a city known as Asia’s financial hub, announced that 3,000 people – roughly 10% of its workforce – will be out of a job by 2013.

The cuts are part of HSBC’s plans to eliminate 30,000 positions worldwide.

HSBC employees won’t be alone hitting the bricks with resumes in hand. This week, the Charlotte Observer – the hometown paper for Bank of America – wrote the largest bank in the U.S. plans to shed between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs.

Last week, Dutch bank ABN Amro said it will cut 2,350 jobs. In Stockholm, Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic region, plans to cut 2,000 workers. The week before Swiss bank UBS announced 3,500 job cuts. more

Missiles looted from Tripoli arms warehouse as ammo disappears from across Libya: New dangers?



A potent stash of Russian-made surface-to-air missiles is missing from a huge Tripoli weapons warehouse amid reports of weapons looting across war-torn Libya.

They are Grinch SA-24 shoulder-launched missiles, also known as Igla-S missiles, the equivalent of U.S.-made Stinger missiles.

A CNN team and Human Rights Watch found dozens of empty crates marked with packing lists and inventory numbers that identified the items as Igla-S surface-to-air missiles.

The list for one box, for example, written in English and Russian, said it had contained two missiles, with inventory number "Missile 9M342," and a power source, inventory number "Article 9B238."

Grinch SA-24s are designed to target front-line aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and drones. They can shoot down a plane flying as high as 11,000 feet and can travel 19,000 feet straight out. more

Tropical Storms Nate, Maria form and take aim at US

Tropical Storm Nate has formed less than 150 miles from Mexico's coast in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and it could become a hurricane by Friday, the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday afternoon.

The storm, which formed near the Bay of Campeche, is the 14th named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, and the second to form on Wednesday. Tropical Storm Maria formed Wednesday morning in the open Atlantic Ocean.

Nate, whose center as of 5 p.m. ET was 125 miles west of Campeche, Mexico, has prompted Mexico to issue a tropical storm warning for the country's coast from Chilitepec to Celestun, according to the hurricane center.

Tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area by Wednesday night, the center said. Already, tropical storm force winds extended up to 105 miles from the center by 5 p.m. Wednesday. more

The dark side of Tripoli: Harbor sanctuary for Gadhafi's migrants



Away from Tripoli, away from the fighting and largely away from any aid, hundreds of immigrants are living in an abandoned harbor.

They are living on scraps, in poor sanitary conditions, and fearful of being mistakenly identified as mercenaries who fought for the ousted Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

In one cooking pot a chicken lies at least a quarter covered in flies. Until recently there has only been salt water available. And there are dark tales of women being dragged away in the middle of the night to be raped by armed gangs.

An estimated 1,200 men, women and children have turned the upturned fishing boats at Janzour harbor into a makeshift camp of tents and boats.

Pretty much all of them are black Sub-Saharan African immigrants who moved to Libya for casual or manual jobs, from places like Chad, Ghana, Nigeria or Mail.

Now their skin color is making them a target for the new power in town who say black Africans also came to Libya to fight as mercenaries for Gadhafi. During the fighting CNN has interviewed such fighters on several occasions.

Under Libya's searing daytime heat they wait at Janzour for help and a way out. more

Unemployment filings show weak jobs picture in US

More Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, reflecting continued weakness in the job market.

The number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits rose to 414,000 in the week ended Sept. 3, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number was up 2,000 from a revised 412,000 the week before.

"It's just more of the same," said John Canally, investment strategist and economist at LPL Financial. "We're not seeing much hiring, but not any massive layoffs either."

Economists typically say initial claims need to fall below 400,000 to reduce the unemployment rate, and they were expecting claims to hit that level in the latest report.

Jobless claims have remained around or above 400,000 since early April. more

Libya conflict: Rockets fired from Bani Walid

Forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi have fired rockets from Bani Walid, one of the last strongholds of the fugitive Libyan leader.

Rockets landed near those surrounding the town ahead of a Saturday deadline for loyalists to surrender.

Earlier, Col Gaddafi gave a defiant message dismissing speculation that he had fled to Niger.

The central bank, meanwhile, said 1.7bn Libyan dinars ($1.4bn; £875m) worth of gold had been sold during the conflict.

Col Gaddafi's whereabouts remain the subject of speculation - though both the National Transitional Council (NTC) and Western officials have said they have no reason to believe he has left Libya.

The NTC has been trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution to stand-offs in a handful of Libyan towns or cities still controlled by Gaddafi loyalists.

These include Bani Walid, Jufra, Sabha and Col Gaddafi's birthplace of Sirte. more

"Free speech is in retreat throughout the West"

There's a sizzling piece by Mark Steyn in the current issue of National Review, which reveals quite how far democracies have gone in restricting free speech.

Citing, among many, the example of a musician on the Isle of Wight who was charged with racism after performing Kung Fu Fighting in the hearing of a Chinese couple, he makes the point that it is no longer possible to infer the legal status of words from the words themselves:

“There were funky Chinamen from funky Chinatown” is legal or illegal according to whosoever happens to hear it. Indeed, in my very favorite example of this kind of thinking, the very same words can be proof of two entirely different hate crimes. Iqbal Sacranie is a Muslim of such exemplary moderation he’s been knighted by the Queen. The head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal was interviewed on the BBC and expressed the view that homosexuality was “immoral,” was “not acceptable,” “spreads disease,” and “damaged the very foundations of society.” A gay group complained and Sir Iqbal was investigated by Scotland Yard’s “community safety unit” for “hate crimes” and “homophobia.” more

If America can't even reform its post office we're all in trouble

Doomsday clocks. Don't you just love them? It's hard to remember life without them because they've become so ubiquitous since the financial crisis. You can't fault their versatility: they can count both up and down while always managing to point firmly in the direction of economic armageddon.

The US has had plenty to choose from. There's the national debt clock in Manhattan that manages to tick relentlessly higher whatever the weather. Then last month's debt ceiling debacle saw a fresh line in these clocks break out on newspaper websites like a rash – all competing to count down to an unprecedented and ugly default by the US government.

Now September has handed Americans yet another. It sits on a website called postal.oversight.house.gov that was established by Darrell Issa, a Republican Congressman from California. At the time of writing, it tells readers that there are 23 days, 11 hours, nine minutes and 20 seconds until the US Postal Service defaults. So what, you might ask. As apocalypses go, a financial headache at America's post office doesn't have much on, say, the collapse of the euro or a second meltdown on Wall Street. more

Threat to cars from hackers, claims report

On-board computers in cars could be targeted by hackers aiming to steal vehicles, track their movements or disrupt safety systems, security researchers have warned.

New vehicles are increasingly reliant on so-called “embedded systems”, small but sophisticated computers that control an array of functions including door locking, engine ignition, navigation, brakes and communications.

These systems are in turn increasingly reliant on connectivity via cables, WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G networks to work together, meaning they are ripe for exploitation by hackers, according a report by the security firm McAfee.

Researchers have already proved that it is possible to breach the security of on-board computers. Last year, a team from the University of Washington demonstated CarShark, a software programme that allowed them to take control of the Control Area Network, a standard system in modern cars that allows moving parts to communicate elecronically.

The researchers were able to disable the brakes in a moving car, lock the doors and shut down the engine. However, the CarShark team emphasised that their attacks were not easy to carry out.

“Many examples of research-based hacks show the potential threats and depth of compromise that expose the consumer,” said Stuart McClure from McAfee, “It’s one thing to have your email or laptop compromised but having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety.” more

London property bubble 'about to burst' (along with the rest of housing and commercial property?)

The London property bubble could be about to burst, with the number of "distressed" sellers in the capital rising for the first time, according to one property company.

PPR Estates said it had seen rising number of inquiries from property owners in London looking for a quick sale below the current market price. It said rising unemployment, an increase in the number of company liquidations and a collapse in buyer interest – particularly in areas hit by the recent riots – were to blame.

Nick Hopkinson, the director of PPR Estates, said that over the past few years there had been a rising number of "distressed" sellers in other parts of the country, but London had appeared to be immune as prices continued to rise.

This has changed though within the past two months, with the company now reporting a jump in the number of inquiries from both residential and commercial property owners in the capital who need to access the equity in their home quickly.

"Two very different property markets have emerged in London and across the rest of the UK in the last year," Mr Hopkinson said. "London has been the one area of the UK to buck the downward house price trend. Prime London prices, limited supply and cash-rich international buyers have masked the real state of the housing market by propping up the national statistics.

"And our company has had relatively few distressed inquiries from London sellers as a result of the unique dynamics in the capital." more

Santa Muerte: A Mexican death cult is fuelling America's anti-immigration backlash -- "This is about crime, not race"

In September 2008, 11 decapitated bodies were discovered in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. When police arrested the killers, they found an altar in their home dedicated to Santa Muerte – the patron saint of death for Mexican drug cartels. One year later, an illegal immigrant called Jorge Flores Rojas was arrested in North Carolina for running a sex ring. He, too, had built a shrine in his east Charlotte apartment to Santa Muerte. Flores forced his girls to have sex with as many as 20 men a day while he knelt in his living room praying to the skeletal figure of death. In August 2011, the Mexican army stumbled upon a tunnel that ran right under the US border for 300 metres. It was six feet high and equipped with lights and ventilation. It also housed – you guessed it – an altar to Santa Muerte.

Europeans complain mightily that Muslim immigration has introduced fundamentalism to their secular continent. Yet they tend to look upon Middle America’s fear of illegal Hispanic immigration with contempt, as if its paranoia was motivated entirely by racism. Reporting on new legislation designed to drive illegal immigrants out of the Deep South, The Guardian’s Paul Harris writes that it heralds, “The prospect of a new Jim Crow era – the time when segregation was law – across a vast swath of the old Confederacy. [The legislation] will ostracise and terrorise a vulnerable Hispanic minority with few legal rights.” more

Affirmative action for "ugly" people?

Islamic finance spreads in Nigeria (because it works, charges no interest, and is often safter than western banking)



Home to some 70 million Muslims, Nigeria is stepping up efforts to capitalize on the growing popularity of the one of the world's fastest-growing financial sectors: Islamic banking.

Earlier this year the Central Bank of Nigeria announced a final set of regulations which introduced Islamic banking to the country.

CNN's Christian Purefoy discussed the sector's potential with Hajara Adeola, managing director of Lotus Capital, one of the groups helping to pave the way for Islamic finance in Nigeria.

Adeola says there is a growing appetite for this form of banking.

"It is working in Nigeria and there is a lot of interest in doing Islamic banking, in West Africa in particular," she says.

Spread across the Middle East and other parts of the world, a slew of Islamic financial institutions have been offering interest-free services that advocates say can provide a more sustainable alternative to conventional banking practices.

The industry, which exists in more than 50 countries, is estimated to be worth around $1 trillion and has the potential to eventually be worth $5 trillion, according to ratings agency Moody's.

Charging and paying interest is not allowed in Islamic finance because it is prohibited under Sharia law. Instead, if a bank is providing finance for an infrastructure project, for example, the bank and customer agree to share the risk of investment and divide any earnings. more

What teachers really want to tell parents

This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future. more

Are you a teacher? Weigh in! We'd love to know what you'd like to be honest about to parents if you were able to. Leave your thoughts and stories in the comments section below.

Are jobs obsolete? Has technology finally replaced the need for human work? If so, what happens to us?

The U.S. Postal Service appears to be the latest casualty in digital technology's slow but steady replacement of working humans. Unless an external source of funding comes in, the post office will have to scale back its operations drastically, or simply shut down altogether. That's 600,000 people who would be out of work, and another 480,000 pensioners facing an adjustment in terms.

We can blame a right wing attempting to undermine labor, or a left wing trying to preserve unions in the face of government and corporate cutbacks. But the real culprit -- at least in this case -- is e-mail. People are sending 22% fewer pieces of mail than they did four years ago, opting for electronic bill payment and other net-enabled means of communication over envelopes and stamps.

New technologies are wreaking havoc on employment figures -- from EZpasses ousting toll collectors to Google-controlled self-driving automobiles rendering taxicab drivers obsolete. Every new computer program is basically doing some task that a person used to do. But the computer usually does it faster, more accurately, for less money, and without any health insurance costs. more

AIPAC Pays For 81 US Lawmakers Vacation In Israel



While the US continues to struggle with its economic issues Congress is on vacation. Many are upset at the news reports that 81 members of Congress have chosen to spend a week relaxing in Israel. These vacations are being paid for by AIPAC. Adam Shapiro, an activist, tells us his thoughts on the matter. source

Radar Helps Locate a Roman Gladiator School

It remains underground, but archaeologists in Austria believe they know what lies below. Some 40 kilometers (28 miles) east of Vienna they have mapped out the ruins of a Roman gladiator school using a special radar, the team announced on Monday.

The facility, in what was then the Roman Empire's outpost of Carnuntum, is likely the best-preserved of its kind, comparable to gladiator schools found in Rome and Pompeii, according to the geophysicists, computer specialists and archaeologists from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology. Still, no plans are in place for excavations to begin. Officials are trying to agree on how to best preserve the site, first.

"We know what is under the ground," Franz Humer, head of the Carnuntum Archeological Park, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "We can wait." The non-invasive radar technology provided by the institute enabled them to detail the structures without undertaking a costly and time-consuming dig.

Geophysicists had already discovered evidence of a promising structure in 1996, Humer said. "But the prospecting methods weren't as good back then. Only in the last few years as they became more detailed were we able to begin understanding what we were dealing with." more

Tick-Borne Infections Infiltrate U.S. Blood Supply (But wait, Lyme disease and all that is just in people's heads, right?)

Allow me a tiny I Told You So. In February, I wrote a story for SELF Magazine about the rising incidence of diseases other than Lyme that are caused by tick bites. (And told you about it here, of course.) The story highlighted one particular tick-borne parasite, Babesia, and a serious problem with the infection it causes, babesiosis: that it was moving into the blood supply. We dug through FDA transcripts and CDC field reports in order to reveal that federal health authorities were very concerned about this prospect, and that more than 100 babesiosis infections caused by transfusions had already occurred — not just in the few states where the tick species carrying Babesia are found, but throughout the United States because blood products are shipped nationwide.

Ours was the first reporting we could find about babesiosis in the blood supply, and it didn’t get the attention it should have, probably because women’s magazines tend to be dismissed as not-serious — even though SELF’s health and medical reporting has won prizes and been turned into books. But based on research released this morning, our story at SELF wasn’t hyping the problem. If anything, we understated it.

OK, enough infomercial. Here’s the news: In a paper released ahead-of-print by the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island and New York State report that 159 cases of babesiosis were caused by transfusions in the past 30 years and “the risk may be increasing.” Twenty-seven of the patients died. more

Ritalin abuse on campus akin to cheating

University and college students who abuse stimulants like Ritalin are often unaware of the risks, a medical journal editorial says.

Campus administrators need to do more to protect young adults and educate them about the dangers of illicit stimulant use, editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal said Tuesday.

Students may abuse prescription drugs such as methylphenidate or Ritalin and atomoxetine or Strattera for a perceived boost in academic performance through enhanced attention and alertness, Dr. Daniel Rosenfield of the University of Toronto and SickKids Hospital and co-authors said.

But evidence suggests no boost in cognition among those using the stimulants compared with a placebo, the editors said.

"We must remember that the majority of students who inappropriately use these medications have good intentions but may simply need reliable information or resources to make good choices," the editorial team wrote.

"Like doping in sports, abuse of stimulants by our best and brightest students should be denormalized by being viewed as cheating or substance abuse, pure and simple." more

Restaurants want a piece of food stamp pie (and now look to focusing on getting food stamp customers)

The number of businesses approved to accept food stamps grew by a third from 2005 to 2010, U.S. Department of Agriculture records show, as vendors from convenience and dollar discount stores to gas stations and pharmacies increasingly joined the growing entitlement program.

Now, restaurants, which typically have not participated in the program, are lobbying for a piece of the action.

Louisville-based Yum! Brands, whose restaurants include Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver's and Pizza Hut, is trying to get restaurants more involved, federal lobbying records show.

That's a prospect that anti-hunger advocates welcome, but one that worries some current food stamp vendors and public health advocates.

Federal rules generally prohibit food stamp benefits, which are distributed under the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), from being exchanged for prepared foods. Yet a provision dating to the 1970s allows states to allow restaurants to serve disabled, elderly and homeless people, USDA spokeswoman Jean Daniel said. more

50 fall ill due to food poisoning, India - 8th Sept 2011

Fifty people were taken ill due to food poisoning after they ate a rice meal at a marriage function at Babri village in the district, an official said.

Fifty people complained of headache, vomiting and stomach disorder yesterday after they had the rice meal during the function, they said.

They were admitted in a hospital from where they were discharged this morning.

In another incident, at least 90 people fell ill after they had a meal at a marriage at Saba Kheri village in Bagpat district last evening.

The victims have been admitted in hospital at Baraut town. Source

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF MARIANA ISLANDS - 8th September 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck South of Mariana Islands at a depth of 40 km (24.9 miles), the quake hit at 16:00:52 UTC Thursday 8th September 2011.
The epicenter was 249 km (154 miles) SSW of Hagatna, Guam
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Ammonia spill forces evacuation of Atlanta warehouse - 8th Sept 2011

An ammonia spill at an Atlanta warehouse shortly after midnight Thursday forced 40 employees to evacuate.

Fulton County fire crews and a hazmat team from Atlanta worked to contain the spill at the Americold Logistics warehouse at 1740 Westgate Parkway SW.

The location is listed as a training center for Americold, a cold storage company.

There were no injuries reported.

The spill's cause was not disclosed. Source