Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Comet Elenin, Sun and Earth alignments have been occuring during massive earthquakes: Coincidence? More than coincidence?

Unions announce November strike date and threaten 'biggest action for generation': UK

Union workers will go on strike on November 30, it was announced today, as Brendan Barber warned the public to expect the biggest action for a decade.

Up to three million workers, ranging from firefighters and school dinner ladies, to social workers and driving test examiners, are set to take part in the action, including stoppages, meetings, rallies and joint events with community groups.

The walk out, a day after the Chancellor makes his autumn statement on the economy, will herald months of industrial unrest in a major challenge to the Government.

Ministers accused unions of "rushing" into action while negotiations were continuing, and business leaders urged the Government to "stick to its guns" in the face of the threatened disruption to public services.

One union leader said the action would not be just one day, but would run "through the winter, into next year and following the legislative programme right into the summer".

More than 20 unions are set to be involved in the action, including those representing council workers, NHS staff, teachers, civil servants, firefighters and nurses in secure hospitals. more

Russia's Shiveluch volcano erupts, spews 10-km ash column

A volcano has erupted on Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East, with ash rising to an altitude of 10 km above sea level, RIA Novosti news agency reported Tuesday.

During the eruption, a crevice with a depth of about 30 meters was formed on top of the volcano. An earthquake that lasted seven minutes was also recorded, a representative from the Russian Academy of Sciences was quoted as saying.

The volcano's 10-km ash column was the highest during the past month, breaking the record of 8200 meters.

Currently there is no danger for local communities near the Shiveluch volcano, though the ashes may spread to nearby villages, the representative said.

The activities of the Shiveluch volcano, which rises 3283 meters above sea level, have increased since 2009. Since the volcano first erupted in 1980, its activities have been continuously monitored by local authorities.

There are more than 150 volcanos on the Kamchatka Peninsula, and 29 of them are active. more

Federal deficit totaled $1.23 Trillion through August

The federal budget deficit reached $1.23 trillion in August. The third straight $1 trillion-plus deficit adds pressure on Congress and the White House to reach agreement on a long-term plan to trim government spending.

The Treasury Department said the deficit grew by $134.2 billion last month. At that rate, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the deficit will total $1.28 trillion when the budget year ends in September. That would nearly match last year's $1.29 trillion imbalance and come in below the record $1.41 trillion hit in fiscal 2009.

A congressional panel is seeking agreement on $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf warned the committee on Tuesday that spiraling interest payments could swamp the government's ability to pay for its operations and could spark a financial crisis if nothing is done.

President Barack Obama is expected to send the committee his recommendations to trim the deficit later this month. They will also include a series of tax hikes to pay for his $447 billion job-creation proposal. more

Rising poverty rate shows holes in safety net: Stubbornly high jobless rate leaves more Americans in dire straits

The worst economic downturn since the 1930s has left a record number of Americans in poverty and created strains on the government’s safety net not seen in decades, according to a report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Clearly the safety net has helped, but it’s got holes in it,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former White House economist.

With the unemployment rate stuck stubbornly over 9 percent, the poverty rate in the United States climbed to 15.1 percent last year — the highest level since 1993 — as the number of impoverished Americans swelled to a record 46.2 million, the Census report said. more

British parents resent their children for interfering with their precious 'me' time

After the riots, the UN: British parenting is under attack from all sides. A report by UNICEF, the children's fund, accuses parents here of trying to buy their children's love by showering them with toys and designer clothes. The same parents who give lavishly of Nintendo and Nike are sadly the ones who can hardly find a window in their busy schedule for a glimpse of the small fry.

We didn't need a report to tell us this, of course. Gross materialism has become so prevalent that a survey found more women in their 30s wanted to own a house than have a baby. Sales of designer goods continue to rise despite the recession (Burberry's had a bumper year). Meanwhile, Britain has the longest working hours of the EU – ensuring that children with two working parents risk feeling Mummy and Daddy are strangers rather than supporters.

But neither bribery nor work are ruining Britain's children. It's parents' "me" time that has hollowed out the family, leaving it vulnerable to total destruction.

"Me" time is a notion completely alien to our forefathers – and explains why, although it is true that today's parents spend as much (or even more) time with their children as their own parents did, children feel starved of parental attention. "Me" time is about placing the individual above the family. The need to look after Numero Uno is particularly acute among the middle classes, where Mummy's need for de-stressing or self-esteem building means yoga classes, a latte at Starbuck's and a book-club evening every week; Daddy instead gets a personal trainer, goes to the football and may dabble in bridge. Too bad if these activities rob the kids of precious hours with their parents. "Me" always comes before "mini me". more

Youth unemployment surge triggers worst jobless rise in two years

An unexpected surge in the number of jobless youths in Britain has contributed to the largest increase in unemployment in almost two years, official figures revealed today.

Economists warned official growth forecasts may have wildly underestimated the number of job cuts needed to achieve drastic spending cuts, piling further pressure on George Osborne to justify "plan A" amid a deteriorating economic outlook.

Unemployment rose by 80,000 to reach 2.51m in the three months to July, according to the Office for National Statistics. But 77,000 of the newly unemployed were 18 to 24 year-olds - an 11pc rise compared to the previous quarter, the figures showed.

Worryingly, the number of young people out of work for more than a year rose by 35,000 on the quarter to reach 219,000, while the total number of youths out of work for two years or more surged by 12pc on the quarter to 93,000.

The total number of 16 to 24 year-olds without a job rose to 972,000 in the three months to July, the figures showed. The number of students fell by 46,000 on the quarter to 2.2m, the figures showed, which could explain the rise in youth unemployment.

Employment experts say the figures serve as a huge wake-up call to ministers to do more to create private sector jobs and tackle youth unemployment before tens of thousands of young people become increasingly detached from the labour market and consigned to a life on benefits. more

Cycle of 'compulsive consumerism' leaves British family life in crisis, Unicef study finds

British parents are trapping their children in a cycle of "compulsive consumerism" by showering them with toys and designer labels instead of spending quality time with them, a UN report has found.

The report by Unicef, the UN children's agency, warns that materialism has come to dominate family life in Britain as parents "pointlessly" amass goods for their children to compensate for their long working hours.

While parents said they felt compelled into buying more, the children themselves said spending time with their families made them happier.

Unicef UK said the obsession was one of the underlying causes of the riots and widespread looting which gripped the UK last month, as teenagers targeted shops for the designer clothes and goods.

The study, which was jointly funded by the Department for Education, was commissioned after an earlier Unicef report ranked Britain as the worst country in the industrialised world to be a child.

It prompted David Cameron to coin the expression “broken Britain” and fuelled calls for a raft of new family friendly policies.

In its latest study Unicef commissioned researchers from Ipsos Mori interviewed hundreds of children in Britain, Sweden and Spain, asking them about their ideas of happiness and success. more

OECD: UK student tuition fees 'third highest in the world'

The UK is the third most expensive place in the world to go to university, it emerged today, with fears it could top international league tables when fees soar next year.

Figures show that undergraduates in just two other countries – the United States and Korea – currently pay more for a degree than in the UK.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that students were charged the equivalent of almost £3,100 a year for a university course in 2008/9.

It put the UK above Japan and Australia and significantly higher than European competitors such as France, the Netherlands and Sweden, where tuition is free.

Separate figures show that UK students currently contribute two-thirds of the cost of a degree course – more than double the OECD average and around twice the proportion a decade ago.

The findings come before the cap on tuition fees almost trebles to £9,000 for students starting courses in 2012, which could lead to the UK topping the table in coming years. more

According to the OECD, a sharp rise in the cost of higher education in the US has already led to a relative stagnation in the number of people going on to university.

OECD: UK has more jobless teenagers than Slovenia

More teenagers in the UK are out of work and without a college place than in most other developed nations, according to international data published today.

Figures show that school-leavers are more likely to be classed as “Neet” – not in education, employment or training – than in countries such as Estonia, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.

It emerged that the UK was ranked ninth out of 32 nations judged by the number of 15- to 19-year-olds with effectively nothing to do.

The data – from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – will fuel fears that a generation of young people have been failed despite billions of pounds invested in education under Labour.

Figures show almost one-in-10 school-leavers were without a job or college place in 2009 – the latest comparable data – above the international average. Only Spain, Italy and Ireland had higher rates among EU nations. more

Tanker stolen with over 3,000 gallons of fuel



The evidence is gone. The chain-link fence that the Kent County Sheriff's Office says was cut by a thief is now repaired. But the tanker with 10 wheels and more than 3,000 gallons of gasoline is still missing from Alger Oil in Worton.

"If 9/11 had not happened 10 years ago, you would just think wow someone is stealing the gas because gas prices are high," said Rhonda Cataldo, who lives nearby in Chestertown.

A spokesman with the sheriff's office says someone hot wired the missing truck sometime between 4:30 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday. Sgt. Glenn Owens says following the recent threat around the 10th anniversary of 9/11 "…there's greater concern it may be connected to terrorism."

Cataldo moved her family to the Eastern Shore to escape the worries of big city living.

"I actually moved from Northern Virginia because I felt safer living in Chestertown on the Eastern Shore after 9/11," said Cataldo. more

Daphne Melin, mother, Fights Girl, 12, on Long Island

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.



A Long Island mom has been arrested and charged with allegedly encouraging two 12-year-old girls to duke it out during a dispute outside an elementary school -- and then participating in the fight herself.

Daphne Melin of Shirley has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and attempted assault.

Mary Jones, 11, goes to school with the two girls.

She said she saw "hair tugging and ripping and pushing and then the mom just started beating up the girl."

Police said the fight on Sunday lasted several minutes.

Melin "spit in the girl's face and then grabbed her by the hair and kneed her in the head several times," Suffolk police said. more

NAU officials stop students from handing out American Flags: "Permit needed"

Northern Arizona University students who were passing out American flags Friday in remembrance of 9/11 got a bigger response than they expected.

No fewer than four university officials and a police officer descended on the group, accusing them of hindering foot traffic and lacking an advance permit.

"9/11 is very important to me," said student Stephanee Freer. "That's why I do the event. Every year, I do something for 9/11 and it's never been disrupted like this."

University spokesman Tom Bauer said it had nothing to do with what they were saying and everything to do with keeping traffic moving.

"I don't think that this is a freedom of speech issue. We were not asking them to be quiet. We were not asking them to leave," he said. "We were asking them to move to a different location within the same area. This is basically clearing the walkways."

Freer said she meant to pass out flags all weekend but canceled the rest of her plans after the dust-up. more

Computer-based attacks emerge as threat of future, general says

The general in charge of U.S. cyberwarfare forces said Tuesday that future computer-based combat likely will involve electronic strikes that cause widespread power outages and even physical destruction of thousand-ton machines.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the new U.S. Cyber Command, also said that massive losses of private and public data in recent years to computer criminals and spies represent the largest theft in history.

Threats posed by cyber-attacks on computer networks and the Internet are escalating from large-scale theft of data and strikes designed to disrupt computer operations to more lethal attacks that destroy entire systems and physical equipment.

“That’s our concern about what’s coming in cyberspace — a destructive element,” Gen. Alexander, who is also the director of the National Security Agency, the electronic spying agency, said in a speech at a conference on cyberwarfare.

Gen. Alexander said two cases illustrate what could happen in an attack.

The first was the August 2003 electrical power outage in the Northeast U.S. that was caused by a tree damaging two high-voltage power lines. Electrical power-grid software that controlled the distribution of electricity to millions of people improperly entered “pause” mode and shut down all power through several states. more

Moody's cuts ratings of French banks yet again

Moody's cut the credit ratings of two French banks on Wednesday because of their exposure to Greece's debt, highlighting growing risks to Europe's financial sector from a deepening euro zone sovereign debt crisis.

But the euro and European stocks were lifted by an announcement by the head of the European Commission that it would soon present options for issuing a common euro zone bond, despite huge political hurdles especially in Germany.

The ratings agency's one-notch downgrade of Societe Generale and Credit Agricole came hours before the leaders of Greece, France and Germany were to hold a video conference on measures to head off a potential Greek default, which has prompted rising global alarm.

China added its voice to U.S. concerns over Europe's apparent inability to stop debt contagion spreading, while Indian and Brazilian officials said major emerging economies were discussing increasing their euro sovereign holdings. more

Europe's banks are staring into the abyss

Where now for European banks? Sir Howard Davies, former chairman of Britain's Financial Services Authority, said on BBC Radio's Today programme on Tuesday morning that he thought the French government was only days away from having to recapitalise the country's banking system for a second time. It's hard to disagree.

The panic seems to have been temporarily stemmed by a statement from BNP Paribas to the effect that it wasn't having the problems widely reported of finding dollar funding. There was also an emphatic denial of discussions over state intervention. But no-one is kidding themselves. Italy had to pay the highest spread since joining the euro to sell its bonds on Tuesday. There are growing fears over whether Europe's largest borrower can stay the course.

The eurozone sovereign debt crisis is meanwhile exacting a devastating toll on the European banking system as a whole, the UK included. With their high exposure to eurozone debt, the problem is particularly acute for the French banking goliaths, BNP Paribas and Societe Generale.

BNP alone has a eurozone sovereign debt exposure of some €75bn, amounting to roughly 6pc of total assets, including €14bn of Greek debt and €21bn of Italian government bonds. And that's just BNP. The other two major French banks, SocGen and Credit Agricole each have exposures of a similar order of magnitude. Collectively, French banks have €56bn of Greek sovereign bonds alone. They've so far only written down this Greek debt by around 20pc, or in line with the restructuring agreed at the time of the last bailout. more

International alarm over euro zone crisis grows

International alarm over Europe's debt crisis hit new heights on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama pressing the bloc's big countries to show leadership as talk of a Greek default escalated and markets heaped pressure on Italy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to quash talk of an imminent Greek default or exit from the euro zone, but confusion over whether she would issue a joint statement on Greece with French President Sarkozy sent markets gyrating up and then down.

Confidence in the 17-nation currency area was further dented when Italy was forced to pay the highest interest rates since joining the euro in 1999 to sell 5-year bonds.

"I think there is a possibility, if the wrong steps are taken, that the system goes off the rails," Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Italian carmaker Fiat, told reporters in Frankfurt when asked if the euro's survival was at risk. more

Teonna Brown Sentenced To 5 Years In McDonald’s Transgender Attack



It was a scandalous hate crime caught on camera that grabbed national headlines. Now one of the two young women accused of beating a transgender woman at a McDonald’s learns her punishment.

Derek Valcourt has details on the sentencing.

Teonna Brown was convicted of a hate crime and first-degree assault. She will spend five years in prison.

Over and over again, two teenage girls attack and beat Chrissy Polis inside a Baltimore County McDonald’s until she goes into a seizure — all while a laughing McDonald’s employee records the vicious attack on his cell phone.

The YouTube video sparked community outrage and landed Brown, 19, and her 14-year-old accomplice in jail. Brown is now sentenced to five years in prison. more

Hanging corpses carry threat to Mexico Internet users

The bloodstained bodies of a man and a woman were found hanging from a bridge in northeast Mexico Tuesday, along with threatening messages to people who report drug violence on social networks.

The messages lay near the two bodies, found half naked, alluding to websites set up for people to report drug violence in the area, police said.

"That will happen to all of them," read the text of one message signed with the letter 'Z' usually associated with the Zetas drug gang.

Nuevo Laredo lies in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, on the US border, where the Zetas are blamed for many violent attacks.

The Zetas started as ex-elite army officers working as hitmen for the Gulf cartel in the 1990s. A split between the two is blamed for some of the country's most gruesome drug violence in recent years.

Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists and reporters have been silenced by threats or violence in some areas.

Citizens in those areas often rely on social networks for information about shootouts or other drug violence. source

Scott T. Shover, Carlisle man, accused of eating raw meat at Walmart and putting it back on shelves

A Carlisle man is accused of eating raw meat at the borough's Walmart and putting the opened packages back on the shelves.

Employees told police they saw Scott T. Shover, 53, of the 100 block of Noble Avenue, eat from several packages without paying about 2:40 p.m. Monday. The meat was valued at $24.53, police said.

Loss prevention staff and a manager followed Shover out of the store and notified a nearby police officer.

Shover was taken into custody, police said. Because of four prior retail theft convictions, Shover was charged with felony retail theft. source

Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, readying forces: spokesman

Muammar Gaddafi is still in Libya and in good spirits, with a powerful army behind him, the ousted leader's spokesman said on Wednesday.

Gaddafi's whereabouts have been unknown for months and most of his entourage have fled or gone into hiding after forces backed by Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) overran Tripoli on August 23 and seized power.

"The leader is in good health, in high morale ... of course he is in Libya," Moussa Ibrahim told Reuters via a crackling satellite telephone line.

"The fight is as far away from the end as the world can imagine. We are still very powerful, our army is still powerful, we have thousands upon thousands of volunteers," he said.

"We have huge areas of Libya under our control -- on the northern coast, in the western areas of the country and the whole south belongs to us," he said.

"We are gathering our forces and we will liberate every single Libyan city even if we have to fight street-to-street, house-to-house, for years to come." more

Israeli officials: Jordan hanging by a thread

As the US steps up its effort to prevent a Palestinian unilateral bid to declare statehood, Israeli officials fear a new eastern front in the form of Jordan. State officials warn that Jordan is in an extremely precarious state and effectively "hanging by a thread."

Jerusalem is also considering causing significant damage to the Palestinian economy. The Palestinian Authority, however has no plans to withdraw its statehood campaign.

In the backdrop of US and European efforts to stop the Palestinian move, the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday. more

U.S. Scrambles to Avert Palestinian Vote at U.N. as War Potential Grows

The United States faced increasing pressure on Tuesday as the Palestinian quest for statehood gained support from Turkey and other countries, even as the Obama administration sought an 11th-hour compromise that would avoid a confrontation at the United Nations next week.

With only days to go before world leaders gather in New York, the maneuvering became an exercise in brinkmanship as the administration wrestles with roiling tensions in the region, including a sharp deterioration of relations between three of its closest allies in the region: Egypt, Israel and Turkey.

Nabil el-Araby, secretary general of the Arab League, said after meeting with the Palestinians that “it is obvious that the Palestinian Authority and the Arab countries are leaning towards going to the General Assembly,” where a successful vote could elevate the status of the Palestinian Authority from nonvoting “observer entity” to “observer state,” a status equal to that of the Holy See.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey ratcheted up pressure on the United States and Israel by telling Arab League ministers that recognition of a Palestinian state was “not a choice but an obligation.”

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that American negotiators would return to the region on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in a final effort to avert a vote on the matter. more

Amish men jailed for not displaying buggy safety signs

Eight members of a traditional Amish sect were behind bars on Tuesday after refusing to pay fines for failure to display orange-red safety triangles on their horse-drawn buggies.

The eight were being held in the Graves County Jail, serving sentences ranging between three and 10 days for failing to pay the fines on religious grounds.

Graves District Judge Deborah Hawkins ordered the men jailed Monday in Mayfield, about 200 miles from Louisville in western Kentucky. The defendants contend that paying the fines would amount to complying with a law that violates their religious restrictions against wearing or displaying bright colors or relying upon man-made symbols for their safety.

Graves County Jailer Randy Haley said Tuesday that the men brought Bibles with them when they reported to jail late Monday night and were given dark-colored jumpsuits and sandals to wear instead of the standard orange coveralls. All were placed together in a large holding cell, Haley said.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals denied an appeal of the men's misdemeanor convictions in June. The case has been appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has not ruled on whether it will hear the case. more

Shoshana Hebshi was cuffed, searched over 'appearance' at airport

A U.S. woman said Tuesday that she endured nearly four hours in police custody that included being forced off an airplane in handcuffs, strip-searched and interrogated at Detroit's airport on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks—all, she believes, because of her Middle Eastern appearance.

Shoshana Hebshi, 35, told The Associated Press she was one of three people removed from a Denver-to-Detroit Frontier Airlines flight after landing Sunday afternoon. Authorities say fighter jets escorted the plane after its crew reported that two people were spending a long time in a bathroom—the two men sitting next to Hebshi in the 12th row.

Hebshi said she didn't notice how many times the men went to the bathroom. "I wasn't keeping track," she said.

"I really wasn't paying attention," said Hebshi, a freelance writer, editor and stay-at-home mother of twin six-year-old boys who lives in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio. "I was minding my own business—sleeping, reading, playing on my phone."

The FBI has said the three didn't know each other. One man felt ill and got up to use the restroom and another man in the same row also left his seat to go to the bathroom. The FBI said they never were inside together.

Hebshi has written extensively on her blog about the incident, saying she felt "violated, humiliated and sure that I was being taken from the plane simply because of my appearance." more

Lord Hanningfield released early from expenses jail sentence is arrested again over more alleged fraud - 14th Sept 2011

A peer who was jailed for fiddling expenses has been dramatically rearrested as part of investigation into fraud when he worked at a council.

Lord Hanningfield was this week freed early from prison after serving only a quarter of his sentence for fiddling their parliamentary expenses.

But within days of his release the shamed peer is understood to have been arrested as part of investigation into expenses claims at Essex County Council.

The former Tory peer was questioned over allegations he put in fraudulent claims while leader of Essex County Council, sources said.

A statement from Essex police said: 'A 70-year-old man from the Chelmsford area has been arrested today ... for fraud as part of an investigation into expenses claims at Essex County Council.'

Police said that the man had been released on bail until January 18.

Lord Hanningfield was a former frontbench opposition spokesperson and leader of Essex county council.

He was jailed in July this year after a jury at Chelmsford crown court found him guilty of £13,379-worth of expenses fraud.

The 70-year-old former pig farmer claimed parliamentary travel expenses to London when Essex county council was already paying for him to be chaffeur-driven to the capital.

He was found guilty of six counts of false accounting which included falsely claiming for overnight hotel accommodation when he was actually sleeping at his home 50 miles away. Read More

Debt-Ridden Greece 'Integral' Part Of Eurozone - 14th Sept 2011

The leaders of Greece, France and Germany have said the debt-ridden country is an "integral" part of the eurozone.

During an emergency phone summit the leaders said additional austerity measures Athens announced recently will ensure the country achieves its fiscal targets.

Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Greek prime minister George Papandreou spoke after days of fears that Greece was heading towards a chaotic default and even that it may leave the euro.

In a joint statement, the French and German leaders said: "Putting into place commitments of the (bailout) programme is essential for the Greek economy to return to a path of lasting and balanced growth."

Their comments came after the International Monetary Fund held an informal board meeting on the situation.

The meeting was not a "decision-making" one, the IMF said, but was held to update board members of the latest developments. Read More

Two Taiwan military jets 'crash' - 13th Sept 2011

Two Taiwanese fighter jets are missing and may have crashed while on a training flight, reports from the island say.

The defence ministry said that the two aircraft disappeared off radar shortly after taking off from an air base in Hualien, eastern Taiwan.

Witnesses told local media they had seen two aircraft crash into mountains and burst into flames.

Troops were searching the area, the defence ministry said.

The aircraft - one RF-5 surveillance plane and a two-seater F-5F trainer - took off at 19:39 (11:39 GMT) and disappeared 13 minutes later, a defence ministry spokesman said.

"We were fishing at the seaside when suddenly airplanes flew over our heads, and a moment later we heard a loud bang and the whole mountain was set on fire," one witness told the Taipei Times. "The explosion was very loud."

Local media said what appeared to be wreckage had been found on a highway.

Taiwan is currently seeking to upgrade its ageing air fleet.

It wants the US to sell it 66 F-16 C/D fighter jets, but China has warned Washington not to proceed with the deal.

The US is due to make a decision by October. Source

Poison fears as dead fish found, China - 14th Sept 2011

ENVIRONMENTAL watchdogs yesterday began an investigation after hundreds of dead fish were found floating in a local river.

A photograph, believed to have been uploaded online yesterday afternoon by a witness, showed the bodies of many small fish in Pujiang Town of Minhang District.

This raised concerns of pollution or poisoning among nearby residents.

Some witnesses said around 133,000 square meters of the waterway were affected.

"We have sent investigators on the scene to collect water samples to determine whether the fish deaths are a result of poisoning," Liu Jiaxin, deputy director with the district's environmental watchdog, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The creek attracts fishermen who are mostly migrants, said nearby residents.

Some residents claimed they witnessed a man putting a substance into the water several days ago, after which fish quickly came to the surface.

They said he collected only the bigger ones, leaving behind the smaller fish.

Illegally fishing and deliberately polluting local waterways are punishable.

The river is not used as a source of tap water. Source

At least 30 killed including 3 Generals in Angola air crash - 14th Sept 2011

At least 30 people were killed, including three generals, when an Angolan military aircraft crashed on Wednesday at an airport in Huambo, local media said.

The plane with 36 people on board belonged to the air force and authorities were trying to reach the crash site, 550 kms (330 miles) southwest of the capital Luanda, Radio Nacional de Angola and news agency Angop said in reports monitored in Johannesburg. Source

6.1 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 14th Sept 2011

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake has struck near Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of just 1 km (0 miles), the quake hit at 18:10:10 UTC Wednesday 14th September 2011.
The epicenter was 26 km (16 miles) Southwest of Attu Station, Aleutian Islands, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Mind blowing unseen footage of Japan tsunami as wave overtakes road full of drivers

WARNING: Portions of this video may be frightening to viewers, and include scenes of trapped people and an oncoming wave of water and debris.

Democrat Schakowsky: Americans don't deserve to keep all of their money

A lot of reaction Wednesday morning to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's interview with Don Wade and Roma.

Schakowsky said that Americans don't deserve to keep all of their money because we need taxes to support our society.

“I’ll put it this way. You don’t deserve to keep all of it and it’s not a question of deserving because what government is, is those things that we decide to do together. And there are many things that we decide to do together like have our national security. Like have police and fire. What about the people that work at the National Institute of Health who are looking for a cure for cancer,” Schakowsky said.

Schakowsky also says one reason the 2009 stimulus bill did not succeed was because it was not large enough.

Schakowsky also admitted there are questions about the Obama administration's connection to the now bankrupt Solyndra solar panel company.

The administration approved nearly $528 million in federal loans to the company, before Solyndra filed for bankruptcy. more

Eurozone crisis could rip EU apart: officials

The eurozone crisis could wreck the European Union, top EU officials warned on Wednesday as the leaders of Germany and France held talks with Greece to avoid a default and widespread chaos.

The pressure rose on all fronts with United States again expressing great concern, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner saying European states "now recognise they are going to have to do more" to resolve to the crisis.

Highlighting the threat to the global economy, Geithner is to exceptionally attend talks between European Union finance ministers and central bankers in Poland on Friday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou were to hold a teleconference late Wednesday as markets price in a default by the government in Athens, and credit rating giant Moody's downgraded two major French banks given their exposure to Greek debt.

"Europe is in danger," Polish Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski, whose country currently chairs EU meetings, told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. more

Abuse victims seek international court case against pope

Clergy sex abuse victims upset that no high-ranking Roman Catholic leaders have been prosecuted for sheltering guilty priests have turned to the International Criminal Court, seeking an investigation of the pope and top Vatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity. The Vatican called the move a "ludicrous publicity stunt."

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based nonprofit legal group, requested the inquiry Tuesday on behalf of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, arguing that the global church has maintained a "long-standing and pervasive system of sexual violence" despite promises to swiftly oust predators.

The Vatican's U.S. lawyer, Jeffrey Lena, called the complaint a "ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes" in a statement to The Associated Press.

The complaint names Pope Benedict XVI, partly in his former role as leader of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which in 2001 explicitly gained responsibility for overseeing abuse cases; Cardinal William Levada, who now leads that office; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state under Pope John Paul II; and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who now holds that post.

Attorneys for the victims say rape, sexual violence and torture are considered a crime against humanity as described in the international treaty that spells out the court's mandate. The complaint also accuses Vatican officials of creating policies that perpetuated the damage, constituting an attack against a civilian population. more

Dangerous tuberculosis spreading at alarming rate in Europe

Multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB) are spreading at an alarming rate in Europe and will kill thousands unless health authorities halt the pandemic, the World Health Organisation(WHO) said on Wednesday.

Launching a new regional plan to find, diagnose and treat cases of the airborne infectious disease more effectively, the WHO's European director warned that complacency had allowed a resurgence of TB and failure to tackle it now would mean huge human and economic costs in the future.

"TB is an old disease that never went away, and now it is evolving with a vengeance," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO's Regional Director for Europe.

"The numbers are scary," Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership told a news conference in London. "This is a very dramatic situation."

TB is currently a worldwide pandemic that kills around 1.7 million people a year. The infection is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and destroys patients' lung tissue, causing them to cough up the bacteria, which then spreads through the air and can be inhaled by others. more

Geithner: Economy In "An Early Stage" Of Crisis

Jim Cramer, CNBC host: "Now let's talk about the fact that you said the economy is weak. You put out a jobs plan. The New York Times today basically gives its obituary. 'Tax plan for jobs bill.' Familiar ring. Meaning the GOP will not back this. Is this dead on arrival?"

Tim Geithner, U.S. Secretary of Treasury: "Absolutely not. I think that there's no reason now for the Congress of the United States not to act to help strengthen growth in the near term. It's the conservative, prudent, responsible thing to do. You can think of it as protection against Europe."

Cramer: "Okay."

Geithner: "You can think of it as insurance against weaker growth going forward. And you got to think about the alternatives. If Congress or Washington is incapable of acting, then policy will be damaging to growth because what you'll have is a deeper, steeper contraction in fiscal support than is prudent for an economy at this early stage of the crisis given the shocks we face. You know, life is about choices. Life is about alternatives."

Mr. Geithner said we have "some ways to go" to heal the country from the crisis that we are in. more

Income Slides to 1996 Levels

The income of the typical American family—long the envy of much of the world—has dropped for the third year in a row and is now roughly where it was in 1996 when adjusted for inflation.

The income of a household considered to be at the statistical middle fell 2.3% to an inflation-adjusted $49,445 in 2010, which is 7.1% below its 1999 peak, the Census Bureau said.

The Census Bureau's annual snapshot of living standards offered a new set of statistics to show how devastating the recession was and how disappointing the recovery has been. For a huge swath of American families, the gains of the boom of the 2000s have been wiped out.

Earnings of the typical man who works full-time year round fell, and are lower—adjusted for inflation—than in 1978. Earnings for women, meanwhile, are a relative bright spot: Median incomes have been rising in recent years and rose again last year, though women still make 77 cents for every dollar earned by comparably employed men. more

Huge Surge in Bank of America Foreclosures See 200% Rise in August

Bank of America is ramping up its foreclosure processing, sending out far more notices of default to borrowers in August than in previous months, well over 200 percent more month-to-month.

A notice of default is the first stage of the foreclosure process in non-judicial foreclosures states, that is, where foreclosures do not go before a judge.

The notice of default is usually sent when a borrower is 90 days or more overdue in payments, but that timeline has been extended significantly during this housing crisis, due to the so-called "robo-signing" processing scandal and the sheer volume of troubled loans.

Mortgage and housing analyst and strategist Mark Hanson alerted me to unusually high legal default filing activity, and his research points to Bank of America [BAC 7.005 0.005 (+0.07%) ] as the primary driver. more

Eurobonds seen as way to save European Union from financial collapse

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has said he will put forward moves to tackle the eurozone debt crisis, which he called "the most serious challenge of a generation".

He said he would urge the 17 eurozone nations to issue joint bonds, allowing them to borrow money collectively.

Eurobonds have been backed by Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti and investor George Soros.

However, Germany has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the idea.

His comments came ahead of an emergency conference call between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou due later on Wednesday.

The three are expected to discuss how to address recent market turmoil, prompted by fears of an imminent Greek debt default. more

Axe attack in Chinese city of Gongyi kills six outside kindergarten

A man armed with an axe has killed two young girls and four adults in a Chinese city, media reports say.

The attack happened early on Wednesday on a street near a kindergarten in Gongyi city, Henan province.

A 30-year-old local farmer, who is suspected of being mentally ill, has been detained, officials said.

The incident is the latest in a spate of similar attacks across China, several of which have targeted schools and young children.

One local media report said that the group in Gyongi had been taking their children to nursery school when the attack happened.

Four people died at the scene and two more later in hospital, local officials said in a statement.

Suspect Wang Hongbin "has a history of mental health illness", it said. more

UK critical systems cyber warning

The UK government is failing to take a strong lead in protecting critical systems such as power and water from cyber attack, according to a leading think tank.

Chatham House said there was a reluctance to share information with institutions that might be targeted.

It also criticised those same institutions for putting up with an "unacceptably high level of risk".

The government said that it ranked cyber security as a top priority.

Last year it announced £650m of additional funding to help tackle computer-based threats.

Around £130m or 20% is specifically earmarked for critical infrastructure projects.

The Chatham House report questions what that money will be used for given that "the vast majority of critical infrastructure in the UK is privately owned."

There have been numerous warnings in recent years about the risk of computerised systems being vulnerable to attack. more

Europe's debt crisis: 5 things you need to know

It's been about 18 months since the sovereign debt crisis in Europe began attracting attention in global financial circles.

In that time, the crisis has grown into the biggest challenge the European Union has faced since the adoption of the euro as its single currency 12 years ago.

Greece, Portugal and Ireland are on life support. Italy and Spain are exhibiting worrying symptoms. Germany and France, the healthy ones, are suffering from a global economic malaise.

As the situation appears to be coming to a head, again, here are five key issues to keep an eye on.

1. Stability fund is not very stable

In July, European political leaders announced a set of proposals to address the crisis, including a second bailout for Greece, which was teetering on the verge of default.

The centerpiece of the July 21 agreement was the proposed expansion of the European Financial Stability Fund. The fund was set up last year to facilitate low-cost loans for struggling EU members including Portugal and Ireland. more

16 'super-Earths' found outside solar system

It's not like aliens put up a welcome banner or anything, but scientists now have newly identified at least one planet that could potentially sustain life.

The European Southern Observatory has just announced the discovery of more than 50 new exoplanets (planets outside our solar system), including 16 super-Earths (planets whose mass is between one and 10 times that of our own planet).

One of these planets in particular could theoretically be home to life if conditions are right. It's called HD 85512 b, and scientists say it's about 3.6 times the mass of the Earth. This planet is about 35 light years from Earth. Its location with respect to its star suggests that this planet could have liquid water under certain circumstances.

Don't get too excited, though; there's a lot more work to be done to explore whether this planet is truly fit for life, in addition to whether there are alien life forms there. more

Fears increase of Greece sovereign default

China's Wen to West: Get house in order

As China once again is getting calls to bail out a European nation, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told a group of business leaders that “countries must first put their own house in order.”

While “willing to extend a helping hand,” China is working on its own woes with inflation and structural reforms, Wen told the audience at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, on Wednesday. “Developed countries must take responsible fiscal and monetary policies. What is most important now is to prevent the further spread of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe,” said Wen, according to Bloomberg.

His comments come after reports that Rome is in talks with Beijing to buy Italian debt bonds and invest in some key Italian companies. That report sent stocks higher Tuesday, as the equity markets continued a roller-coaster ride over fears that a Greek default is imminent, sparking a debt contagion as investors lose appetite to buy other European bonds.

Wen said China was willing to invest more in Europe, but EU nations should recognize China’s status as a market economy, Dow Jones reported. more

Robert Porter, 85, wrote goodbye note before rescue

An elderly Texas man who was trapped in his car for two days wrote what he thought was a farewell message on the car's armrest, saying he wasn't trying to kill himself and suggesting the road he was on should be fixed.

Robert Porter, 85, drove his car down a steep rural road near his Kerrville home in central Texas early last week to look at a pond. He couldn’t get the two-wheel-drive vehicle back up the soft caliche road, and the car rolled off the path and became stuck near the bottom of a ravine, CNN affiliate KENS reported. more

Haze spreading across Southeast Asia from hundreds of fires

Israel warns against unilateral Palestinian move for independence

he unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would have "dire consequences," Israel's foreign minister warned Wednesday, a day after Palestinians said they would take the proposal to the United Nations.

Avigdor Liberman did not elaborate in his comments on Israel Radio, but said previous Israeli concessions like the withdrawal from Gaza had not resulted in peace.

Frustrated with stalled negotiations with Israel, Palestinians plan to appeal to U.N. member states to recognize their territories as an independent country.

But a United Nations report warned Wednesday that the Palestinians are not yet ready politically for statehood, even while it said the government did carry out basic functions.

"Government functions are now sufficient for the functioning government of a state," the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said, calling it "considerable achievement."

But Israeli occupation has contributed to keeping Palestinian politics "stagnant," Robert Serry's office warned. more

Heavy rains, floods kill 233, affect 5.5 million in Pakistan

Heavy rains and flooding have killed at least 233 people in Pakistan, a disaster agency spokesman said Wednesday, as a weather forecast calls for more rain over deluged parts of the country.

Seven people have died in the past 24 hours, said Irshad Bhatti, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority.

At least 5.5 million people have been affected by the flooding since August, said Zafar Iqbal Qadir, chairman of the disaster authority.

Kristen Elsby, spokeswoman for the United Nations children's fund, or UNICEF, said 2.7 million children are among the affected. She said half of the 300,000 people in camps are children. more

9 die in attacks on Iraqi security forces

A string of attacks targeting Iraq security forces killed at least nine people, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Two Iraqi soldiers died and 10 others were wounded when a bomb attached to a military bus exploded inside a base in al-Habaniya, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Baghdad in Anbar province.

South of Baghdad, five people died and 41 others were wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in Hilla, which is frequented by Iraqi security forces.

The blast damaged the restaurant and other nearby buildings.

In Baghdad's al-Qahira neighborhood, gunmen opened fire at a police checkpoint, killing two officers and wounding a bystander.

In addition to the attacks, a raid on a house by a military counter-terrorism unit left a man dead in al-Habaniya. Three of his family members were wounded during the raid. more

European public debt at a glance

Fourteen out of 27 countries in the European Union had public debt exceeding 60% of their gross domestic product at the end of 2010, according to official statistics.

The report by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, showed that the ratio of government debt to GDP across all 27 member states increased from 74.4% in 2009 to 80.0% in 2010.

For the 17 euro zone countries, the debt is even higher, increasing from 79.3% in 2009 to 85.1% last year.

Topping the European debt league is Greece with 142.8% government debt to GDP ratio, followed by Italy (119.0%), Belgium (96.8%) Ireland (96.2%), Portugal (93.0%), Germany (83.2%), France (81.7%) Hungary (80.2%) and the United Kingdom (80.0%). more

Nine die in India train collision, 100 injured

This sleepy village in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district woke up to the sound of a big bang caused by collision of two trains here with locals initially mistaking it to a ‘bomb blast’

“We all first thought it was a bomb blast. The sound was so deafening. But later we realised that it was a train accident.

When I reached the spot, it was dark and smoke had engulfed the area,” Chidambaram, a local resident, who was among the first to reach the spot, said.

For daily commuters who travel by the two trains, the accident turned out to be shocking experience last night as none would have expected that a routine halt at a signal could shatter their return home and land them in hospital.

Nine persons were killed and 100 others injured when the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) train crashed into the stationary Arakonam-Katpadi passenger from behind while it was waiting at the signal here.

The impact of the collision was so powerful that three coaches of the stationary train and two of the MEMU train were thrown off the track. more

Another day of raids, deaths in Syria



Syrian security forces kept up an offensive against anti-government protesters Wednesday, six months since the popular uprising started against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Security personnel launched raids in the provinces of Homs, Idlib, Damascus and Hama, and deaths were reported by activists.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an activist group, said authorities arrested two uncles of Ghiyath Mattar, a protest organizer who was killed after being arrested recently in the Damascus suburb of Daraya. One was released and the other remains in custody.

The group said gunfire killed two people in a Hama village. The committees and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a death in Homs during a raid. more

BP oil disaster largely blamed on "cement failure"

A key federal report puts ultimate responsibility on BP for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history and the deaths of 11 rig workers, especially regarding the cement seal that was put in place the day before the explosion that triggered the spill.

The report, released Wednesday, said in the days leading up to the disaster, BP made a series of decisions that complicated cementing operations, added risk, and may have contributed to the ultimate failure of the cement job.

Other companies also shared some of the blame, according to the report, which noted that rig owner Transocean, as owner of the Deepwater Horizon, was responsible for conducting safe operations and for protecting personnel onboard.

The details were contained in the final report from an investigation team of the U.S. Coast Guard and the agency that regulates offshore drilling. The panel held hearings in the year following the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon tragedy. The Coast Guard-Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement investigation was among the most exhaustive. more

Fears of a Greek default are ripping through the European banking sector

GREEK DEFAULT FEARS HITS EUROPE AND US - Fears of a Greek default are ripping through the European banking sector and French bank shares were the main losers yesterday, with SocGen dropping to a 20-year low. Its shares are now 70% lower than in February, largely because of its exposure to Greek debt. Meanwhile, in Greece there is growing unrest and unhappiness with new austerity measures announced at the weekend.

Nikola Zirganos, an editor with Eleftherotypia Newspaper and Antena TV in Athens, says that Greeks feel that they are reaching a dead end with no solution to the country's problems in sight. He says the future continues to look uncertain and people 'feel that disaster is at their gate'. Mr Zirganos says that as well as an economic disaster, Greece is facing a moral disaster and people do not see any leader or political party that can give them hope. As time goes on, this becomes an even bigger problem. On the street protests and strikes, the journalist says that people feel it is better to protest than stay at home and watch dishonest and corrupt politicians on the television.

Nikola Zirganos says that Greece has had and continues to have a very corrupt public sector and political elite, who have used the state for their own benefit. He says the recent austerity measures have hit the lower and middle classes, while the rich continue as they did with bank accounts in Switzerland and tax avoidance measures. more

Rebecca Zahau's Family demands reopening of case after rope used in hanging is not visible in video - 14th Sept 2011

The anguished family of Rebecca Zahau is hoping the sheriff's office will take another look at the case after the pink rope cops said she used to hang herself is not visible in a newly released video.

The department ruled the death of the woman found hanging at billionaire Jonah Shacknai's mansion a suicide on September 2. The body was found two days after her boyfriend's son died in her care.

But in an overhead video obtained by RadarOnline.com, the stills of which were posted on the site, the rope in police images that authorities said Miss Zahau used to kill herself is strangely not visible.

The 'pink rope' mystery is not the only reason for doubt. Last week, medical examiners revealed that she had blood on her inner thighs when her body was discovered.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department said they would be willing to reopen the case if a new lead came to light. The 32-year-old's family says this is such a lead.

Miss Zahau's family, who strongly denies she killed herself, has hired high-profile lawyer Anne Bremner to push for a reexamination of the case.

Ms Bremner said: 'This is another reason to reopen the case. The fact that the door is closed and the rope isn't there raises more questions in the investigation where they incorrectly found Rebecca's death to be a suicide.

She added: 'There are more questions raised everyday and it is startling - assuming that the police made these changes after they arrived at the scene - then why is her body still on the ground if they were collecting evidence?' Read More