Friday, September 9, 2011

Egypt declares state of alert in wake of attack on Israeli Embassy

Egypt declared a state of alert as the country's Cabinet prepared to meet in emergency session Saturday to discuss an attack on the Israeli Embassy, a government spokesman said.

Mohamed Hegazy, the spokesman for the prime minister, announced the alert and the canceling of police holidays after Egyptian protesters tore down a wall surrounding the building that houses the Israeli Embassy and entered its offices.

Once inside, the protesters threw papers bearing Hebrew from the windows and into the streets. The offices were empty because Friday is a weekend day in Egypt.

Police fired tear gas into the crowd and gunshots into the air outside the building, which is across the Nile River from Cairo. A police car in front of a nearby police headquarters was set afire.

Earlier, as demonstrators destroyed the wall that had protected the high-rise building, police and military forces took no action.

But 450 people were injured in clashes as protesters hurled bottles at police in back streets, the minister of health told MENA, Egypt's official news agency.

One man died of a heart attack after the protests, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Amr Imam. more

Libyans Find Mass Grave of Slain Detainees

In a grove of pine trees near this mountain village, residents have dug up the remains of 35 bound and blindfolded men who they say were shot at close range by Muammar Gaddafi's military.

Dozens of miles away, a search team has exhumed the bodies of 18 detainees who died on a hot summer day while locked in a shipping container by Gaddafi guards.

As Libyans cope with the aftermath of their six-month civil war, more evidence is emerging that loyalists of the former regime savagely abused and in some cases killed detainees just before fleeing from advancing rebel troops.

There's no proof of systematic killings ordered from above, but Gaddafi's incitement against the rebel fighters he called rats "opened the door for this kind of barbaric conduct," said Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch.

A warrant for Gaddafi's arrest, issued in June by the International Criminal Court, focuses on killings and arrests during the initial phase of the uprising that began in February and eventually toppled the regime.

If Gaddafi is ever caught and tried, whether in Libya or abroad, any new evidence of atrocities might buttress the case against him. more

Group Calls to Ban Pledge of Allegiance at Massachusetts Schools, Citing "No Educational Value"

Days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11 a leader from a group in Massachusetts is calling on public schools in one town to ban students from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, saying it has no educational value and the pressure it places on children to participate makes his “skin crawl,” The Boston Globe reported.

Martin Rosenthal, the co-chair of Brookline Political Action for Peace, or Brookline Pax, told the paper the pledge puts “kids in an uncomfortable situation” and doesn’t belong in schools.

The group, therefore, will ask town meeting voters in November to pass a nonbinding resolution on the ban in area public schools.

The pledge is recited once a week in Brookline public schools. It is said during morning announcements and children are afforded the opportunity to not participate.

Supporters of the ban say these children are often criticized by classmates and the ban would help stop the bullying.

But the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 is nearing, and criticism for the resolution has been swift.

Christie Coombs, a mother whose husband died on American Airlines Flight 11 during the attacks of Sept. 11, told The Boston Herald that the idea makes her “sick to her stomach.” more

China turns up the heat on its smaller neighbours, and even Japan: When is enough, enough?

As Chinese President Hu Jintao greeted his Philippine counterpart Benigno Aquino in Beijing recently at the start of a state visit, the official Xinhua news agency laid out terms for a sustained improvement in relations between the world's second biggest economy and its much smaller and weaker Southeast Asian neighbor.

The agency said it had to be acknowledged that a stable and sound bilateral relationship should be underpinned not only by strong trade ties but also by commitment to a proper settlement of maritime disputes in the South China Sea, where Beijing's sweeping claims are disputed not only by the Philippines but also by Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

"China has always made itself loud and clear that it has indisputable sovereignty over the seas's islands and surrounding waters, which is part of China's core interests," Xinhua said. "That is based on unambiguous and undeniable historical facts."

Two days earlier, on Aug. 29, as Yoshihiko Noda awaited confirmation as Japan's new prime minister, Xinhua had set out China's terms for better relations with Tokyo. more

About 100,000 told to flee Northeast flooding of Susquehanna River, US: Worst flooding in 40 years

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee poured water on top of the already saturated Northeast on Thursday, closing off inland cities and interstates as about 100,000 people in three states were ordered to flee the Susquehanna River's worst flooding in nearly 40 years.

Lee's remnants also turned fatal for two people, including a child, swept away separately in rain-swollen waters Thursday night in Fairfax County, Va., NBC station WRC reported.

Most of the evacuations were ordered in and around Wilkes-Barre, where the levee system is just high enough to hold back the river if it crests at the predicted level. Even if the levees hold, 800 to 900 unprotected homes were in danger. If they fail, thousands of buildings could be lost.

"This is a scary situation," said Stephen Bekanich, Luzerne County's emergency management director. He said officials were confident the levees would work but were seeking volunteers to lay sandbags on both sides of the river. more

Greece rules out quitting euro as GDP shrinks further

Greece ruled out quitting the euro on Thursday, shrugging off warnings by its biggest creditor Germany and yet another set of bad economic figures showing it is struggling under the weight of EU/IMF-imposed austerity.

Anger at Greece’s failure to meet fiscal targets that are a condition for its international bailout is nearing breaking point in Berlin and other European capitals, with senior German politicians now talking openly about the possibility of Athens exiting the euro zone.

But Athens ruled out any chance of quitting the single currency, pledging to make every effort to qualify for a 109-billion euro bailout agreed by euro zone leaders in July, the second rescue package for the debt-laden country in little more than a year.

“There is no threat of Greece exiting the euro zone,” government spokesman Ilias Mosialos said. “We are proceeding with reforms quickly.” more

Swirly Moon Markings Remain Mysterious

Peppered around lava flats and mountaintops all over the moon are strange sinuous shapes known as lunar swirls. Their winding, dusty curves are brighter than the surrounding area and, so far, their formation remains a mystery to scientists.

“They look like someone took a white paintbrush and painted across the moon,” says Catherine Neish, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. She helped organize the 2011 Lunar Swirls Workshop Without Walls, an online conference dedicated to these puzzling features. At the meeting Sept. 7, scientists presented new data that may help finally determine the cause of the swirls.

Known about since the Renaissance, lunar swirls came under increased scrutiny after orbiting satellites in the 1960s noticed that they tended to be associated with magnetic fields. Unlike the Earth’s large global magnetic field, these lunar magnetic fields are small local phenomena that are strewn more or less randomly on its surface. Wherever researchers find lunar swirls, they find these magnetic fields. more

Standford University patient data posted online in major breach of privacy: 20,000 ER patient records revealed

A medical privacy breach at Stanford University’s hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., led to the public posting of medical records for 20,000 emergency room patients, including names and diagnosis codes, on a commercial website for nearly a year, the hospital has confirmed.

Since discovering the breach last month, the hospital has been investigating how a detailed spreadsheet made its way from one of its vendors, a billing contractor identified as Multi-Specialty Collection Services, to a website called "Student of Fortune," which allows students to solicit paid assistance with their school work. Gary Migdol, a spokesman for Stanford Hospital and Clinics, said the spreadsheet first appeared on the site on Sept. 9, 2010, as an attachment to a question about how to convert the data into a bar graph.

Even as government regulators strengthen oversight by requiring public reporting of breaches and imposing heavy fines, experts on medical security said the Stanford incident spotlights the persistent vulnerability posed by legions of outside contractors who gain access to private data. more

Elephants and livestock battle for water in East Africa

As the Horn of Africa suffers its worst drought for 60 years, there are reports of growing conflict between people and wildlife over the region's limited resources.

Conservationists say that in Kenya livestock herders and their animals are encroaching on water sources in protected areas, which is having a potentially devastating impact on the wildlife there -- particularly elephants.

With the region getting hotter and dryer the battle for water is going to become even more of a problem in the future, says Angela Sheldrick, director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), an organization that protects animals in Kenya.

"The incursion of livestock into Kenya's protected areas in search of pasture has in recent years put additional strain on the wildlife numbers," Sheldrick said.

"Areas that in the past might have sustained the wildlife through the tougher years no longer can, with the added impact of domestic stock," she continued. more

Canadians with mental illnesses denied U.S. entry: Data entered into national police database accessible to American authorities -- WikiLeaks

More than a dozen Canadians have told the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office in Toronto within the past year that they were blocked from entering the United States after their records of mental illness were shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Lois Kamenitz, 65, of Toronto contacted the office last fall, after U.S. customs officials at Pearson International Airport prevented her from boarding a flight to Los Angeles on the basis of her suicide attempt four years earlier.

Kamenitz says she was stopped at customs after showing her passport and asked to go to a secondary screening. There, a Customs and Border Protection officer told Kamenitz that he had information that police had attended her home in 2006.

“I was really perturbed,” Kamenitz says. “I couldn’t figure out what he meant. And then it dawned on me that he was referring to the 911 call my partner made when I attempted suicide.”

Kamenitz says she asked the officer how he had obtained her medical records. more

Should approval for new Arctic oil drilling licences be suspended?

An environmental group is urging Ottawa to suspend all new licences for offshore oil drilling in the Arctic until reforms are made to protect the ocean habitat.

Pew Environment Group says there are gaps in Canada's system of licensing and regulating Arctic offshore oil and gas. The group says that recommendations of a review board from 1990 on shallow-water drilling in the Beaufort Sea have not been implemented.

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development issued three new offshore Arctic oil licences in 2010 and 2011. Oil and gas companies that want to drill in the Arctic must also get regulatory approvals from the National Energy Board (NEB).

The Pew Environment Group also recommended an environmental assessment of the proposed drilling area and that Inuit groups be consulted in such an assessment and in preparing for possible future oil spills.

On Thursday, the World Wildlife Fund filed a report to the NEB saying that any cleanup of a possible offshore oil spill in the Arctic would be severely hampered by Arctic ice, lack of daylight, high winds and low temperatures.

During the potential Arctic drilling season, it would be impossible to deploy an emergency oil-spill response up to 84 per cent of the time, the WWF filing says. more

7 surprising discoveries at the Gadhafi compound

When rebels overran Moammar Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, the deposed Libyan leader was nowhere to be found. But a number of items from the sprawling compound have since emerged, ranging from sensitive political documents to a photo album of Condoleeza Rice. The following are seven surprising discoveries made at the compound.

1. Political Secrets?: Documents appear to show America's CIA and Britain's MI6 had a somewhat cozy relationship with the regime and that both countries were involved in the rendition of Libyan terror suspects. China is also under scrutiny for its relationship with Libya, after the Globe and Mail reported that documents revealed Libyan officials recently met with Chinese weapons manufacturers. The meeting reportedly took place even though a United Nations resolution banned military assistance to Libya.

2. Gadhafi home videos: Reuters has recovered video of Gadhafi, dressed in a white track suit top, playing with his grandchild in one of his tents inside the compound in 2005.Gadhafi repeatedly asks the girl: Do you love me?" The girl replies "No" prompting Gadhafi to ask:"Then do you hate me? Am I not good? Am I not sweet?" Again, the girl replies, "No," Reuters reported. Gadhafi then asks the girl 'who is sweet,' and she then points toward the camera. The girl can also be seen putting her hand over Gadhafi's mouth, touching his nose and forehead and giggling as he babbles through her hand. more

Switching to Natural Gas Power May Not Slow Climate Change

Though burning natural gas produces much less greenhouse gas emissions than burning coal, a new study indicates switching over coal-fired power plants to natural gas would have a negligible effect on the changing climate.

Tom Wigley​, a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, reports that if natural gas were substituted for coal in energy production, climate change trends would not slow down and may, in fact, accelerate. His findings are due to be published in the journal Climatic Change Letters.

"People saying that coal is bad and natural gas is much better are only looking at a small part of the picture," said Wigley, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

His research, based on simulation data, incorporated effects from sulfur particles, a byproduct of coal combustion, and methane leaks. Methane is a major component of natural gas and can leak from coal and gas mining operations. The gas is also a substantially more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, said Wigley. more

Josephine Smith, Female "Vampire", Busted In Bloody Biting Attack on Elderly Man

A Florida woman who claimed to be a “vampire” last night attacked an elderly man, biting him on the face and arm and tearing away chunks of his skin, according to police.

Josephine Smith, 22, was arrested today and charged with felony aggravated battery on an elderly person. Smith, seen in the mug shot at right, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where she is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

“I’m a vampire, I am going to eat you,” Smith announced before allegedly attacking Milton Ellis, according to an arrest affidavit.

Ellis, 69, received stitches to close up wounds suffered during the assault, which occurred in front of a vacant Hooters in St. Petersburg. Cops says Ellis, who uses a motorized wheelchair, was asleep when Smith pounced on him, commenced biting, and announced that she was a vampire.

The bleeding Ellis escaped his attacker’s clutches and called 911 from a nearby gas station. more

World Entering 'Dangerous New Phase': Lagarde

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned that the global economy is entering a "dangerous new phase" on Friday, ahead of the G7 summit in Marseilles, France.

She warned that both advanced and emerging economies faced key economic challenges, and that governments must "act now" to stop further contagion.

"Policymakers should stand ready, as needed, to take more action to support the recovery, including through unconventional measures," Lagarde said.

"The world is collectively suffering from a crisis of confidence, in the face of a deteriorating economic outlook and rising concerns about the health of sovereigns and banks."

Her speech at Chatham House in London came after a turbulent week for the markets, with the focus on sovereign debt issues in the euro [EUR=X 1.3687 -0.0194 (-1.4%) ] zone and job creation in the US. more

Germany Said to Ready Plan to Help Banks If Greece Defaults

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is preparing plans to shore up German banks in the event that Greece fails to meet the terms of its aid package and defaults, three coalition officials said.

The emergency plan involves measures to help banks and insurers that face a possible 50 percent loss on their Greek bonds if the next tranche of Greece’s bailout is withheld, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are being held in private. The successor to the German government’s bank-rescue fund introduced in 2008 might be enrolled to help recapitalize the banks, one of the people said.

The existence of a “Plan B” underscores German concerns that Greece’s failure to stick to budget-cutting targets threatens European efforts to tame the debt crisis rattling the euro. German lawmakers stepped up their criticism of Greece this week, threatening to withhold aid unless it meets the terms of its austerity package, after an international mission to Athens suspended its report on the country’s progress.

Greece is “on a knife’s edge,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told lawmakers at a closed-door meeting in Berlin on Sept. 7, a report in parliament’s bulletin showed yesterday. If the government can’t meet the aid terms, “it’s up to Greece to figure out how to get financing without the euro zone’s help,” he later said in a speech to parliament. more

Woman bit by rat in rare attack while waiting for train at MTA station: New York

A hungry rat chomped on a straphanger's foot as she waited for a train in a downtown subway station, transit sources said.

The woman was sitting on a bench on a J train platform inside the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station about 9:30 a.m. Monday when the rodent skittered up to her and bit down on her flesh, the sources said.

Bleeding from the wound, the woman ran to a nearby service booth and asked for help - completely freaking out.

"She was pretty frantic and upset," a transit worker said. "You could actually see the bite."

The woman, who is in her 20s, was taken to New York Downtown Hospital, where she was treated and released, authorities said.

The subway rat attack was unusual, the sources said, particularly because the J train platform at the station has a low rodent population. The platforms in the station for the 4, 5, 6 trains, however, are a complete "rat fest," one source said.

"I've heard of rats running over people's feet," the transit worker said, referring to the 4, 5, 6 platforms. "But I've never heard of anyone actually bit." more

Janet Hardt dies after injecting hot beef fat into face

A Homewood woman died Thursday after apparently injecting heated beef fat into her face at her south suburban home.

Janet Hardt, 63 of the 1000 block of W. 186th St. in Homewood, was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

A source said shortly before Hardt died she injected heated beef fat into her face around her mouth and chin, which she had done before on several occasions.

Hardt went to the hospital after complaining that her face became singed and felt like it was burning, according to the source.

She has previously undergone multiple facial surgeries, the source said. more

Federal Reserve's last option to save economy: A 50-Year Bond?

With the Federal Reserve widely expected later this month to unveil the latest weapon in its easing arsenal, expectations are ranging from Operation Twist, a variation called Operation Torque, and to a 50-year Treasury bond.

A 50-year bond? While the idea seems radical even for a central bank carrying a $2.8 trillion balance sheet, the idea of the Fed going that far out on the yield curve in a desire to stimulate the economy is drawing market chatter.

The purpose of the bond would be to extend the duration of the Fed's otherwise short-term debt portfolio. In theory it would take the pressure off the central bank from having to roll over its debt on a continual basis.

Buyers would be the Fed and perhaps pension funds and those who desire a higher yield and longer-term debt. Rumors have floated before about a possible 100-year bond but one has never come to fruition.

"This is a viable option for them," insists Jeff Kilburg, senior development director at TreasuryCurve, an online trading platform. "They're able to extend that debt, that's the whole key. Clearly the global economy is an open wound. This is an important tactic that would instill some confidence, clarity and vision and provide a template for the European problems." more

Bank of America to slash 40,000 more jobs

Bank of America Corp officials have discussed slashing roughly 40,000 jobs during the first wave of a restructuring, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the plans.

The number of job cuts are not final and could change. The restructuring aims to reduce the bank's workforce of 280,000 over a period of years, the Journal said.

BofA could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.

The Journal said BofA executives met Thursday at Charlotte, North Carolina, where the bank is headquartered, and will gather again Friday to make final decisions on the reductions, putting the finishing touches on five months of work.

Investors are pressing BofA to improve its performance after it lost money in four of the last six quarters and its stock has fallen by half this year.

The Journal said the proposed job cuts may exceed BofA's last big cutback in 2008 when it called for 30,000 to 35,000 job cuts over three years. That move was triggered by an economic slowdown and the planned takeover of securities firm Merrill Lynch & Co.

Earlier this month, the Charlotte Observer reported that BofA executives were discussing plans to potentially shed 25,000 to 30,000 jobs over the next several years.

BofA had earlier planned to cut 3,500 jobs, its Chief Executive Brian Moynihan had said in a memo to staff on August 18, as it tries to come to grips with $1 trillion of problem home mortgages. more

Abbas pushes for vote on Palestinian state: War coming?

Mahmoud Abbas has said he is determined to force a vote on Palestinian statehood at the UN later this month, regardless of the fierce diplomatic pressure being put upon the veteran Palestinian leader by Israel and the US.

“Whatever the pressures are, I think we are going to the UN . . . this month to submit our application for membership of the UN,” he told foreign journalists late on Thursday. The Palestinian president said he was not looking for “confrontation” with the US or Israel, but conceded the two allies could end up imposing a “boycott” or “sanctions” on the Palestinian Authority as a result of the UN move.

US diplomats are in the region in a last-ditch attempt to get Palestinian and Israeli leaders back to the negotiating table – and so prevent a divisive vote at the UN later this month. Mr Abbas made clear, however, that he would agree to a new round of peace talks only after a UN vote: “We will go to the UN and then we will return back to talks,” he said. more

Google Details, and Defends, Its Use of Electricity: Uses enough energy daily to power 200,000 homes, or a quarter of a nuclear power plant's output

Google disclosed Thursday that it continuously uses enough electricity to power 200,000 homes, but it says that in doing so, it also makes the planet greener.

Every time a person runs a Google search, watches a YouTube video or sends a message through Gmail, the company’s data centers full of computers use electricity. Those data centers around the world continuously draw almost 260 million watts — about a quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant.

Up to now, the company has kept statistics about its energy use secret. Industry analysts speculate it was because the information was embarrassing and would also give competitors a clue to how Google runs its operations.

While the electricity figures may seem large, the company asserts that the world is a greener place because people use less energy as a result of the billions of operations carried out in Google data centers. Google says people should consider things like the amount of gasoline saved when someone conducts a Google search rather than, say, drives to the library. “They look big in the small context,” Urs Hoelzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, said in an interview. more

Grab Your 'Murse,' Pack a 'Mankini' And Don't Forget the 'Mewelry': How men are slowly being transformed into women (Deliberate pacification?)

The fashion industry has its knickers in a twist over "manties."

A contraction of "man" and "panties," the wordplay is meant to describe certain undergarments for males.

It's part of a special lexicon that has emerged, over the past decade, as a sort of shorthand for men's fashion. Men can also wear "mandals" (male sandals), "murses" (purses), "mantyhose" (pantyhose) and "mankinis" (swimsuit variants)—though not necessarily all at the same time.

At first, the neologisms were a kind of secret language among the fashion industry, etymologists say. Yet they're going mainstream. Now, editors of the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary are tracking them for possible inclusion.

The men's collection shows at New York Fashion Week, which kicks off Thursday, could give rise to more neologisms. Fashion editors often lack the words to describe wacky runway concoctions.

At Herm├Ęs' women's fashion collection in March, for example, "poots" was coined to identify a pair of leather pants that segue into boots.

But not everyone is thrilled about the emerging vocabulary. Some fashion types complain that it's emasculating.

"Manties is pretty high on the repellent meter," says Glenn O'Brien, author of "How To Be A Man" and a style advice columnist at GQ magazine. more

‘Batmanning’: The newest way for stupid people to kill or seriously injure themselves

Planking or Owling? Forget about it.

Now, it’s “Batmanning.”

While the planking trend involved taking your picture in various places lying flat, “batmanning” is much more difficult–and possibly more dangerous. It involves hanging upside down, only by your feet.

A group of Purdue University freshmen claim to have started the trend late last month. They made a video that shows them hanging from various locations on campus–from parking garages, stadium gates and statues.

While it clearly requires much more athleticism than planking, some fear it could lead to serious injury. There were reports of people hurting themselves while lying flat, while planking. One can only imagine what could happen if people fall while hanging upside down.

A video posted by the Purdue students has gone viral, with over 400,000 views and has inspired numerous imitations. more

"The Coming Chaos"

America is about to be destroyed by debt. And we're acting like it's business as usual.

In the push to resolve America's impending debt crisis, much has been done to ensure politically favorable positions for those engaged in the debt talks, and the possibility of a default has been addressed in largely academic terms, with complete disregard for the gruesome realities a default implies. Our leaders are living in a fantasy world, indulging in partisan gamesmanship, concerned only about their reelections. The time has come for our leaders to be Americans first, and do what needs to be done to save us from collapse.

Default has been discussed as a valid option, even by some at American Thinker. But its effects will be cataclysmic. Default must not be viewed in either political or strategic terms. Default spells one word for America: death, and death not only to the pocketbooks of the consistently demonized richest one percent (coincidentally also the tax bracket that creates jobs), but death to the thin veneer of "civilization" keeping the aging, post-Christian American culture from wanton acts of violence. Hyperbole? Ask our British friends.

It won't happen tomorrow, and the day after we default the sun will rise, and that's why it's so easy to deceive ourselves. But once we cross that line, there will be no going back. The slide toward disaster will be inexorable, the consequences irreversible.

Then why not just keep raising the debt ceiling? Simple: if I've maxed my credit cards to pay for the "necessities" of my family, I can't go to my credit card companies and demand they increase my limits. No matter how much my family "needs" things. And any debt counselor will immediately have me look at ways to cut my expenses. Why should government never have to live within its means? And why is it such an outrage when Republicans suggest even modest cuts? more

NYPD Has Its Own Army, Navy, Tanks & Soon A Submarine: Have security fears gone mad?

The latest terror threat has come out just as a brand new CBS/New York Times poll shows 1 out of 3 New Yorkers still thinks about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks at least once a week.

CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer has an exclusive look at the city’s post-9/11 security.

There are radiation detection boats in the waters, cameras that have been placed all over lower and Midtown Manhattan and there are cops with guns and tanks and all kinds of weapons, because in New York a terror attack could come from anywhere, and anyone.

“There’s no shortage of people who are willing to give up their lives for the cause,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

It’s been 10 years but our concerns about terrorism are still staggering and constant. Even the death of Osama bin Laden didn’t lessen the fear.

Two thirds of Americans, 67 percent in a stunning CBS/New York Times poll say killing the al Qaeda mastermind didn’t make them feel safer.

But that’s not all. A majority – 57 percent — say subway security measures are insufficient. more

Vancouver Island 6.7 Magnitude Earthquake hits within the Cascadia Subduction Zone - 9th Sept 2011

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake off the west coast of Vancouver Island at 12:41 p.m. today was felt in Metro Vancouver.

The epicenter was located 135 kilometers south-southeast of the town of Port Hardy on the island, the USGS said in its assessment.

The USGS reported it was at a depth of 25.9 kilometres, revising its original assessment that it was only two kilometres below the surface.

No tsunami warning has been issued.

The website said no there's no "destructive widespread tsunami threat" but earthquakes of this size sometimes generate locate tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within a hundred kilometres of the earthquake epicentre. "Authorities in the region of the epicentre should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action."

In the Vancouver Sun newsroom, lights swayed for a half-minute when the quake struck. There were no immediate signs of damage in downtown Vancouver.

The earthquake shook buildings in the tiny Vancouver Island community of Zeballos, but there appeared to be no damage and there were no injuries.

The power went down but came back quickly, said Arlene Coburn, a 38-year resident of the remote west coast community.

Coburn was at the school when the earthquake hit. She said that it felt like the whole building was going to topple over, but nothing fell off the walls. "One big one, and a little tremor, and that was it," she said. "It gave [the school] a good sway."

The 60 or so children that attend the Zeballos Elementary Secondary School were ushered out and across a bridge, a measure used when there's a concern of a Tsunami, said Coburn, a part-time janitor at the school.

Arlene's husband Geoff said there were no injuries and no damage as far as he knew in the community of about 200 people. "There was no cause for panic," said Geoff.

The quake created a slight rattling as far away as Seattle, Washington, but police in the U.S. city said there were no reports of damage.

The list of cities where the quake was felt includes San Francisco and Edmonton. Read More

Coming Crisis Alert -- Large Quake in Cascadia Subduction Zone, Possible Precursor to Major Quake -- September 9, 2011


WARNING AREA AND DURATION:

ALERT LIFTED, September 10, 2011: No further major quake activity in the region, as well as calmed world seismic monitors have prompted us to lift the alert.

West coast of Canada and United States within the Cascadia Subduction Zone, until Monday, September 12, 2011 at midnight, EST.

EVENT INFORMATION:

A major 6.7 quake has taken place within the Cascadia subduction zone. This zone is possibly hundreds of years overdue for a major quake event, and we have concluded that this quake may be a possible precursor for a much larger quake in the days to come. We will continue observing the zone and its seismic activity and give instructions and updates when available.

EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS:

1) If you live in the Cascadia subduction region (see map), please remain away from coasts, off of beaches, and on elevated positions.

2) Please remain close to your TV or radio should Tsunami alerts or emergency instructions be issued by your government or emergency authority.

3) In the event of a large quake event, immediately abandon any low-lying positions and seek elevation: do NOT return to fetch items until the Tsunami warning has been lifted.

4) Many buildings within the Cascadia subduction zone are not built to withstand a quake event of the magnitude that would result from the plate slipping and relieving its pressure. At the very first sign of quake activity, go outside immediately into an open area, and stay aware of power lines and other hazards.

6.7 Magnitude Earthquake VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA REGION - 9th September 2011

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake has struck Vancouver Island, Canada Region at a depth of 25.9 km (16.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:41:35 UTC Friday 9th September 2011.
The epicenter was 138 km (86 miles) WSW of Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake AUCKLAND ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND REGION - 9th September 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Auckland Islands, New Zealand Region at a depth of 29.3 km (18.2 miles), the quake hit at 19:26:03 UTC Friday 9th September 2011.
The epicenter was 181 km (112 miles) Northwest of Auckland Islands, new Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

US Military Plane Forced Down By North Korean Electronic Attack

A US military reconnaissance plane came under electronic attack from North Korea and had to make an emergency landing during a major military exercise in March, a political aide said Friday.

The aide said the plane suffered disturbance to its GPS system due to jamming signals from the North's southwestern cities of Haeju and Kaesong as it was taking part in the annual US-South Korea drill, Key Resolve.

The incident was disclosed in a report that Seoul's defense ministry submitted to Ahn Kyu-baek of parliament's defense committee, the aide to Ahn said.

Spokesmen for the defense ministry and US Forces Korea declined to comment.

Jamming signals -- sent at intervals of five to 10 minutes on the afternoon of March 4 -- forced the plane to make an emergency landing 45 minutes after it took off, the aide quoted the report as saying.

The signals also affected South Korean naval patrol boats and speedboats, as well as several civilian flights near Seoul's Gimpo area, according to the report.

Seoul mobile users also complained of bad connections, and the military reported GPS device malfunctions as the South and the US were staging the drill, which was harshly criticized by the North. more

Elizabeth Escalona glued 2-year-old daughter's hands to wall and beat her nearly to death; child now on life support

A 22-year-old Dallas mother is in jail after police say she glued her toddler daughter's hands to a wall, kicked her in the stomach and beat her over a potty training issue.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the 2-year-old child was on life support Thursday. A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press she had no information on the girl Friday.

The newspaper, citing police records, said glue and paint were stuck to the girl's palms, with skin torn away in places.

The mother, Elizabeth Escalona, faces an injury to a child charge that carries a sentence of up to life in prison. Her attorney didn't immediately return a phone call.

According to police, Escalona's mother found the child unresponsive after her daughter called Wednesday morning. source

Crash Affects Millions Of Microsoft Users

The world's largest email provider, Microsoft, was struggling to restore its services Friday after outages that reportedly affected up to 365 million users worldwide.

The service disruptions affected a variety of Microsoft email products including Office 365, MSN.com, Live@edu and Windows Live Hotmail. The extent of the disruption was unclear, but Microsoft confirmed problems in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

"We're rolling out a fix that we believe will resolve issues with Hotmail, SkyDrive, and our other Live properties," the company tweeted around 2:00am ET.

At about 5:00am ET, the company announced that its Office 365 service, a cloud computing product with email capabilities, had been restored.

Other services, including Windows Live Hotmail, appeared to be coming back online, but online forums and blogs were still reporting issues at 5:00am ET.

While it was unclear what caused the outage, there was speculation that Microsoft was caught in a power blackout that hit large parts of America's southwest late Thursday. source

Bank shares lead falls on US and European stock markets

Sharp falls in banking shares have led US and European stock markets lower as concerns continue about the strength of the world economy.

The US Dow Jones index dropped 1.3%, which in turned pulled European shares lower. German shares fell 2.7% while UK shares declined 1.6%.

This was despite President Barack Obama's new $450bn (£282bn) jobs plan.

The resignation of the European Central Bank chief economist also rattled investors.

Reports suggest that Juergen Stark's departure was over disagreements about the central bank purchasing the debt of struggling eurozone economies.

The ECB has recently been buying up the debt of Spain and Italy - something historically opposed by many of the German policymakers as it may increase the potential risk on the ECB's own balance sheet.

Some argue that bond buying also discourages governments from taking action on their deficits.

Analysts suggested his departure could indicate a potentially damaging split at the central bank at a crucial time for the global economy.

"Evidently there are more and more ECB council members against the controversial purchase of bonds," said Marco Bagel, an analyst at Postbank. more

Canada unexpectedly loses 5,500 jobs: Jobless rate rises to 7.3% in August

Canada's unemployment rate in August inched up to 7.3 per cent, rising by 0.1 percentage points from 7.2 per cent in July.

The country lost a total of 5,500 jobs in August — the second consecutive month that employment picture was little changed.

Economists had been expecting overall job growth last month to increase by 21,000 to 25,000. However, the loss of more than 31,000 part-time jobs overwhelmed the addition of 25,700 full-time positions.

The Canadian dollar took an immediate hit, dropping about half a cent to below 101 cents US.

Statistics Canada said job losses in the construction, transportation and warehousing, as well as natural resources sectors offset gains in health care and social assistance.

The private sector lost 20,600 positions, while public-sector employment rose by 22,000.

Employment increased by 4,100 in Nova Scotia in August, but declined by 3,400 in Newfoundland and Labrador and by 3,000 in Saskatchewan.

Economists said in an early reaction that Canadians should prepare for a tough jobs market going forward.

"Jobs momentum has clearly been lost in Canada," Scotiabank economists said in a note to clients. more

Giant crocodile caught in Philippines has no appetite, under stress watch (How about putting it back where it belongs?)

A 6.1-metre saltwater crocodile that may be the world's largest in captivity has not eaten for six days since its capture in a southern Philippine creek drew worldwide attention.

Wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who led the hunt for the croc nicknamed Lolong, said Friday that the reptile is under close observation for signs of stress.

But he said it's normal for crocodiles to be stressed after being trapped and handled. Even in the wild, they don't normally eat daily, and a crocodile as huge as Lolong can go without food for up to six months, Sumiller said.

Lolong has been placed in an 800-square-metre pen secured by 1.22-metre-tall concrete walls topped by welded wire in Bunawan township, where he was caught last weekend.

"We came here to take a look, because it was reported that on the first few days of his capture ... there were big crowds and some would throw stones to make him move, so we were afraid he might become stressed," said Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the government's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

She flew from the capital to southern Agusan del Sur province Friday to talk with local officials about guidelines for onlookers and to inspect the crocodile's new home 830 kilometres southeast of Manila. more

More protests demand ouster of Yemen's leader as demonstrations spread throughout country

More than a million anti-government youth gathered for protests in virtually all of Yemen's provinces, witnesses said Friday, a day the protesters dubbed "Friday of victory from God."

The largest protest was in Taiz, where more than 500,000 went into Freedom Square, numerous eyewitnesses estimated.

"We will not stop marching and protesting. We feel that victory for the Yemeni revolution is near, and our patience will pay off very soon," said Mansoor al-Mukbili, a youth protester in Sanaa, the nation's capital.

He said the regime is gasping its last breath and the protesters will continue seeking peaceful change and denounce any sort of violence.

Fuad Himyari, the head of prayers in Sanaa's Change Square, called on youth protesters to stand firm, saying the battle against the oppressive regime is coming to an end.

Pro-government protests were also witnessed in the capital as President Ali Abdullah Saleh's followers continue to gather, though in small numbers.

More than 50,000 supporters showed up in Sabeen Square, 2 kilometers from the Presidential Palace. Pro-Saleh chants were repeated for more than two hours. more

Report: Syrian forces snatched operating room patients

Syrian security forces barged into a hospital and snatched 18 wounded patients, including five from an operating room, the Human Rights Watch reported, citing witness accounts.

The action occurred Wednesday at al-Barr hospital in the restive western city of Homs during a major military operation there. Human Rights Watch also reported that security forces prevented medical personnel from reaching wounded people in several Homs neighborhoods.

The report was issued Thursday as Syrian security personnel continued their unrelenting crackdown on protesters who take to the streets daily to rail against the Bashar al-Assad regime and its policies.

Human Rights Watch says Syria's actions violate its obligation "to respect and protect the right to life and the right to health and not to subject anyone to inhuman treatment." more

Thousands turn out in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand reforms: Arab Spring now the Arab Autumn

Thousands of Egyptians converged on Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to demand reforms in a turnout dubbed "correcting the path of the revolution."

Protesters -- who gathered in a festive atmosphere -- are critical of the performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the government after President Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power in February.

The Interior Ministry announced on Thursday the square would be cleared of police and soldiers for 24 hours to allow for a smooth protest. Its forces will intervene, however, if government or public property is destroyed.

"We cleared the square to avoid any confrontations but we expect violence within the groups and hope thugs don't take advantage of the situation," said Lt. Col. Amr Imam, armed forces spokesman.

Protesters want military tribunals abolished, the establishment of minimum and maximum wages, permitting Egyptians abroad to vote in the coming elections, and announcing specific dates for those elections.

They are also calling for the removal of former ruling party members from banks, schools, universities and government institutions. more

Pentagon: Gaddafi's troops still fighting

Foreigners take flight from Japan

Texas wildfire destroys 1400 homes with "potential for growth"

The wildfire raging near Austin, Texas, has destroyed nearly 1,400 homes and has "potential for growth," a fire official said Thursday.

The 34,000-acre Bastrop County fire remained 30% contained late Thursday afternoon, said County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Fisher. "There's still some potential for growth in size," he said.

The fire has killed two people. A search team is helping local officials scour the area for other potential victims.

A line crew working to restore electricity in the area became trapped and wound up being rescued from advancing flames by helicopter, Fisher said.

Victoria Koenig, spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service, said the fire has destroyed 1,368 homes -- more than double the estimate officials gave Wednesday. more

Weather experts: U.S. summer hottest in past 75 years

The summer of 2011 was the second hottest on record for the United States, and the hottest in 75 years, government weather experts said Thursday.

Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas experienced their warmest summers ever, with several states seeing an average of more than 86 degrees, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

For meteorological purposes, summer consists of the months of June, July and August.

At least 22 people died as a result of the heat wave that swept the nation earlier this summer, according to the National Weather Service.

For 15 states, the average temperature ranked among their top 10 warmest, while overall, 46 of the lower 48 states saw average to above-average temperatures. Oregon and Washington were the only exceptions.

Texas had the distinction of experiencing the warmest summer on record of any state in America, with an average of 86.8 degrees. Dallas residents sweltered for 40 consecutive days of grueling 100-plus degree temperatures. Oklahoma, at 86.5, also topped the previous record, of 85.2 degrees, set in Oklahoma in 1934, amid what became known as the Dust Bowl. more

Libya: 'civil war not over' warns "new" Prime Minister -- They have a Prime Minister already?

Libya's new prime minister has warned that the country's civil war is not over, as new figures estimated that 30,000 people had already been killed in the conflict.

Mahmoud Jibril, whose formal title is chief executive of the National Transitional Council, spoke publicly for the first time in Libya's capital Tripoli since rebel forces seized it from the Gaddafi regime last month.

He gave an explicit warning to rebel leaders not to start "political games" until the war was over – a key concern as different rebel factions jockey for position in the new Libya. He threatened to step down if the rebels did not unite around the mission to defeat the regime remnants.

Mr Jibril's failure to arrive in Tripoli and his decision to spend much of the last month meeting foreign leaders abroad had attracted much criticism, including from his own NTC colleagues.

A former planning and economy minister under Col Muammar Gaddafi, he has many enemies in the "new Libya". But he said the rebels should stick together while Gaddafi forces still control large parts of the country. "Our biggest challenge is still ahead," Mr Jibril said at a press conference. "The battle of liberation is not finished."

Earlier, officials indicated the full measure of the damage that the war, which started as a series of protests against police abuses, had inflicted on the country. more

US needs a deficit-reduction plan or risk long-term economic damage, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warns

The US economy's long-term potential will be damaged unless policy-makers take steps now to address the country's challenges, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has warned.

Politicians on Capitol Hill must lay out a plan to tackle America's long-term deficit without jeopardising the fragile recovery, Mr Bernanke told the Economic Club of Minnesota on Thursday.

Last month's debacle over raising the country's $14.3 trillion (£8.9 trillion) debt ceiling and the European debt crisis have combined to undermine growth in the world's biggest economy, the Fed chief said.

"I do not expect the long-run growth potential of the US economy to be materially affected by the financial crisis and recession if – and I stress if – our country takes the necessary steps to secure that outcome," he added.

The speech from the Fed chairman came just hours before President Barack Obama urged Congress to adopt a fresh, $447bn stimulus plan designed to get American companies hiring again.

Mr Obama will say in a speech at midnight (UK time) that his jobs plan will give tax breaks to workers and companies and create jobs for construction workers and teachers. more

Prince Charles warns of 'sixth extinction event'

Mankind faces extinction, the Prince of Wales has warned, unless humans transform our lifestyles to stop mass consumption, run away climate change and destruction of wildlife.

In his first speech as the new President of the Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK, Prince Charles suggested 'surviving ourselves' should be a priority.

Referring to himself as “an endangered species”, he warned that the world is already in the “sixth extinction event”, with species dying out at a much faster rate than at any time since the death of most of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Despite campaigning for years on global warming, he said climate change was not the only problem but merely speeding up the “rapacious” destruction of natural resources like water, land and food that humans need to survive.

The Prince said if the world carries on “business as usual” then the human race itself could be in danger.

“We are, of course, witnessing what some people call the sixth great extinction event – the continued erosion of much of the Earth’s vital biodiversity caused by a whole host of pressures, from the rising demand for land to the corrosive effects of all kinds of pollution," he said. more

UK: 1.7m home owners face negative equity

Up to 1.7m home owners face the spectre of negative equity according to new housing data.

Currently more than 800,000 home owners – 7.3pc of all households with a home loan – have a mortgage that is bigger than the market value of their property.

But thanks to lax lending during the credit boom, and several years of house price falls, this number could double if property prices dip a further 10pc. This would mean that almost as many home blighted by negative equity in the early 1990s after the last housing crash.

The data, by mortgage administrators Homeloan Management Limited (HML), was based on 250,000 mortgage accounts across the country. It shows that home owners in Northern Ireland and the North West of England are likely to be worst hit by further property price falls.

With this price fall, one in three home owners in Northern Ireland could be trapped by negative equity.

Not surprisingly, this problem will adversely affect those under 40, who have moved onto the property ladder more recently. more

Downturn heightens pension crisis: one in six people stopped paying into to their pension in the wake of the recession in UK

More than a million people pulled out of making personal pension contributions due to a squeeze on household finances, according to the Office of National Statistics, wiping billions from pension pots.

The ONS also raised concerns that a generation of pensioners would not have enough money in their old age because of the demise of gold-plated final salary schemes.

The figures led to warnings that Britons were falling into a “vicious spiral” of reducing their savings when the need to prepare for retirement was growing.

In its Pension Trends report, the ONS said that many people who had been making regular contributions had simply stopped paying money into their scheme as a result of the recession.

Rising inflation, pay freezes and high utility bills have eroded disposable household incomes, meaning that people have had to prioritise what they spend their money on, he said. more

After Fukushima: Japan’s energy crisis

Working at the weekend in sweltering offices and meager use of electrical devices in a country known for its gadgets: This is the new reality in Japan.

Six months after the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, Japan is still struggling to get back to pre-quake power generation.

Across the country energy production is down 7% on last summer; in greater Tokyo power generation has fallen by 20%. To avoid blackouts, the government told big industrial energy consumers to cut their power usage by 15% over the summer.

Nearly all companies hit their targets or exceeded them, but it's been tough on everyone.

No one knows that better than Nissan Motors' Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga, who's had to implement the measures. He talks of the "sacrifices" made by his thousands of employees. more

European Central Bank cuts growth forecasts to "near standstill"

The European Central Bank cut its economic growth forecast and said there is a risk that growth will slow to a near standstill next year, but stopped short of warning of a new recession.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said at a press conference following the bank's regular meeting that the central bank's forecast is now for growth of only 1.4% and 1.8% in 2011, and between 0.4% and 2.2% in 2012.

oth are down from earlier forecasts, and the risks to that gloomier outlook are now to the downside, rather than balanced as the ECB had previously said.

When asked if that meant that the 17 nations of the eurozone are at risk of falling into recession, Trichet dodged the question, saying it is difficult to make forecasts in the current situation.

"There is an enormous level of uncertainty," he said, adding that the uncertainty extends beyond Europe to other major economies around the globe. more

What has gone wrong with the Chinese university system? Read more: What has gone wrong with the Chinese university system?

The gaokao may have finished for this year, but the spotlight is back on the Chinese university system as British career and education research company QS releases its report of Asian University Rankings. Hong Kong has a strong showing, with three of the top four spots, as does Japan with five of the top 10. But China's top two universities have fallen in the rankings compared to last year. Peking University (aka Beida) dropped two places to 12 and Tsinghua dropped one place to 16.

This has set many tongues wagging about the state of China's higher education system. One prominent member of the 'establishment', Yang Yuliang, chancellor at Fudan University, has lambasted those who expressed outrage at the QS report, claiming that the poor results from China's universities simply reflect reality.

Yang told China Youth Daily in a recent interview that the major reasons that China does not have first-class universities is because its higher educational system does not give universities enough autonomy, and the schools' lack 'real' academic, intellectual and moral spirit.

“The university spirit in China is really lost,” says Yang. “It's a reflection of the whole society, which has gotten lost in utilitarianism. It's in a state of spiritual dehydration.” more

How the modern day tomato came to be (and how it was destroyed)

In the sultry summer heat, there are few flavors more welcome than that of a burstingly fresh, sloppy, sweet, tangy, locally grown tomato. In the winter, though, their grocery store equivalent is barely recognizable as the same fruit. They're hard, uniformly round and almost inevitably taste-free.

They're also mostly trucked in from Florida, where they're grown in some challenging agricultural conditions, and where the industry has come under scrutiny for their labor practices.

Barry Estabrook, author of 'Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit' spoke with Eatocracy about this came to be.

Eatocracy: How did you become invested in telling the story of the modern day tomato?

Estabrook: I became interested in tomatoes when I was in fact attacked by a group of tomatoes. I was driving down an interstate highway in Southwestern Florida and come up behind what I thought at first was a gravel truck. As I got closer, I saw what I took for Granny Smith apples - and I thought, "Those don't grow in Florida." When I got really close, I saw it was full of bright green tomatoes. No pink - just green.

I was mesmerized, and then the truck hit a bump. Three tomatoes came flying off and nearly went through my windshield. I noticed that they hit the pavement on I-75, bounced and then rolled into the ditch.

They didn't shatter, they didn't splatter; they stayed intact. I thought, "My God! What have they done to this wonderful fruit?" more