Thursday, September 15, 2011

Earthquakes becoming more frequent and severe over last 3 years? The charts say "yes"



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Erdogan warns Israel: Turkey can send warships to east Mediterranean at any time

urkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday Israel could not do whatever it wanted in the eastern Mediterranean and that Turkish warships could be there at any moment.

Erdogan's comments, made during a visit to Tunisia as part of a tour of Arab countries, were the latest in a war of words between the two regional powers, whose relations have deteriorated since Israel killed nine Turks aboard an aid ship headed for Gaza last year.

"Israel cannot do whatever it wants in the eastern Mediterranean. They will see what our decisions will be on this subject. Our navy attack ships can be there at any moment," Erdogan told a news conference shortly after arriving in Tunis. more

"Outside threat imminent" -- A short film encapsulating all the mega-disasters hitting us as of late

Turkey prepares to send 'Flotilla of Freedom-2'

Turkey is in talks with the countries-organizers of the ‘Flotilla of Freedom-2’to send a second humanitarian convoy to the Gaza Strip, the Representative of the ‘Flotilla of Freedom’ and board member of the Foundation for Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid - IHH , Huseyin Oruc, said.

"Some 22 non-governmental organizations will join the ‘Flotilla of Freedom-2’. The humanitarian aid will be sent to Gaza as soon as the Turkish side agrees with the countries-organizers of the ‘Flotilla of Freedom’," Oruc told Trend over the telephone.
He also noted that date of sending the second humanitarian goods to Gaza has not been defined.

"The exact date of sending the ‘Flotilla of Freedom-2’ has not been set yet," he added.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos raided a humanitarian aid flotilla heading for Gaza, killing nine Turkish nationals one of whom was a U.S. citizen. Turkey said after the attack that it expected Israel to make a formal apology, pay a certain compensation to the families of the victims and to end its blockade over Gaza. more

Israeli diplomats evacuate embassy in Amman after Jordanians’ call to protest

Israeli diplomats evacuated the embassy in Amman after Jordanians scheduled to stage a protest outside the building, Alarabiya correspondent reported on Thursday.

Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, Danny Navon, remained behind to be in charge of the evacuated embassy, but later received orders from his government to immediately return to Tel Aviv.

Navon was returning to Israel with his staff on Thursday, fearing a large demonstration planned outside the embassy later in the day, Israeli public radio reported.

Jordanian activists have posted calls for a mass rally on social networking site Facebook under the banner “No Zionist embassy on Jordanian territory.”

The Israeli foreign ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jordanian opposition groups, including Islamists, leftists and youth activists, have said they plan to hold their demonstration at around 6:30 pm (1530 GMT). more

Britons 'clueless' on the cost of long-term care

The Chartered Insurance Institute says that four in five people have no idea of how much they will have to pay for care, while 50pc think long-term care is free.

A recent report by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), entitled “Who cares?”, highlights that despite the recent Dilnot Commission, the public remains unaware of the real cost of long-term care and the necessity to make personal provision to meet this cost.

The current average long-term care bill is £26,000 per annum and the average length of stay in a care home is two years, creating an average care bill of £52,000.

The current average pension provides an income of only £10,000 per annum, leaving a huge annual deficit.

David Thomson, director of policy and public affairs at the CII, said: “There is clearly a massive disconnect between public perception and reality. 80pc of the public have no idea of how much their long-term care will cost and consequently are unlikely to be making any provision to meet that cost. Even more worrying is that 50pc of the public think long-term care is entirely free at the point of use. The reality is starkly different.

“Our research shows MPs have very little appetite for a model that is fully funded by the state, over 50pc preferring instead a partnership model similar to that outlined by the Dilnot Commission. Yet even with a model as outlined by the Dilnot Commission the funding deficit still remains significant, meaning people will have to consider using capital tied up in non-pension assets such as property. more

China to 'liquidate' US Treasuries, not dollars

A key rate setter-for China's central bank let slip – or was it a slip? – that Beijing aims to run down its portfolio of US debt as soon as safely possible.

"The incremental parts of our of our foreign reserve holdings should be invested in physical assets," said Li Daokui at the World Economic Forum in the very rainy city of Dalian – former Port Arthur from Russian colonial days.

"We would like to buy stakes in Boeing, Intel, and Apple, and maybe we should invest in these types of companies in a proactive way."

"Once the US Treasury market stabilizes we can liquidate more of our holdings of Treasuries," he said.

To my knowledge, this is the first time that a top adviser to China's central bank has uttered the word "liquidate". Until now the policy has been to diversify slowly by investing the fresh $200bn accumulated each quarter into other currencies and assets – chiefly AAA euro debt from Germany, France and the hard core.

We don't know how much US debt is held by SAFE (State Administration of Foreign Exchange), the bank's FX arm. The figure is thought to be over $2.2 trillion.

The Chinese are clearly vexed with Washington, viewing the Fed's QE as a stealth default on US debt. Mr Li came close to calling America a basket case, saying the picture is far worse than when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher took over in the early 1980s. more

UK 'can't cope with new shock from eurozone crisis'

Mr Goodhart, of the London School of Economics, told MPs that while the Bank and the UK Government should have been making contingency plans for a second downturn, in reality there would be little more they could do.

"In 2008 the fiscal positions of most governments was considerably stronger than they are now, and interest rates as of the beginning of October 2008 were considerably higher than they are now," he said.

He said therefore the policy tools available in better times - including cuts in interest rates - had already been used up.

"You have got the potential for another grave shock with less in the way of Government instruments to offset it and protect communities against it."

Addressing the Treasury Select Committee, Mr Goodhart said a severe recession in the eurozone combined with sluggish growth in the US would lead to lower growth in the UK and potentially see it stripped of its triple-A rating. more

Hurtigruten fire: how safe is your cruise?



Ships do sink, as was graphically illustrated in November 2007, when the Gap Adventures’ ship Explorer went down in the ice waters of Antarctica, thankfully in calm conditions and with no loss of life.

But for captains, the greatest fear is what happened earlier today on board a Hurtigruten ship as it was sailing off the coast of Ålesund in Norway earlier today. A fire.

It’s why during the safety drill held before each cruise – the one people complain about, and talk through – passengers are told never to throw lighted material over the side of the ship and to make sure cigarette butts are extinguished. A smouldering cigarette caused a fire on Star Princess in April 2006 that killed one passenger, injured 11 others and damaged a huge section of the ship.

It is too early to know what caused the fire on Nordlys but unconfirmed reports suggest it started in the aft engine room. Tragically two crew have died and eight others have been taken to hospital - four with serious injuries. All other passengers and crew have been evacuated to Ålesund’s Rica Parken Hotel. more

Canadians: The government is trying to ram through an anti-Internet set of electronic surveillance laws that will invade your privacy, cost you money



The government is trying to ram through an anti-Internet set of electronic surveillance laws that will invade your privacy and cost you money. The plan is to force every phone and Internet provider to surrender our personal information to "authorities" without a warrant.

This bizarre legislation will create Internet surveillance that is:

--Warrantless: A range of "authorities" will have the ability to invade the private lives of law-abiding Canadians and our families using wired Internet and mobile devices, without a warrant or any justification.
--Invasive and Dangerous: The laws leave our personal and financial information less secure and more susceptible to cybercrime.
--Costly: Internet services providers may be forced to install millions of dollars worth of spying technology and the cost will be passed down to YOU.

If enough of us speak out now the government will have no choice but to stop this mandatory online spying scheme. Sign the petition now, and forward it to everyone you know.

EU officials sound alarm on credit crunch

The EU's top finance officials are urging ministers to reinforce banks' capital while warning that a "systemic" crisis in sovereign debt is hurting banks and risks a new credit crunch, according to EU documents.

In a series of bluntly worded reports prepared by officials for a meeting of finance ministers this week, they highlight a "risk of a vicious circle between sovereign debt, bank funding and negative growth" spurring a fresh freeze in lending.

"While tensions in sovereign debt markets have intensified and bank funding risks have increased over the summer, contagion has spread across markets and countries and the crisis has become systemic," officials write in the documents obtained by Reuters.

The reports, which raise concerns in unusually emphatic language and make pointed criticism of some countries for failing to help weak banks, highlight a sense of alarm in European capitals about the financial crisis. more

Ulterior motives seen behind China's offer of help to US, Europe?

As both Europe and the United States continue to struggle to find solutions to the escalating debt crisis, China has positioned itself as a potential savior. But will Beijing's reward for help be a price worth paying?

China's offer to help the US and European nations through their debt crises may on the surface appear to be just a tactic designed to extract the full market economy status which it so desires. But officials in both the US and EU are wary of what geopolitical motives may lie behind Beijing's flinging of a financial lifeline to the West.

China holds just over $3 trillion (2.2 trillion euros) in foreign currency reserves - almost 30 per cent of the global total - with 65 percent held in dollars and 26 percent in euros. As the debt crisis ravages the euro zone, Beijing has already committed to investing in Greece, Spain and Portugal while engaging in preliminary talks with Italy to provide Rome with financial assistance.

With leaders in both Europe and the United States running out of options as the debt crisis escalates, China has picked its moment to ride to the rescue and use some of its huge financial clout to offer relief - once western powers "first put their own house in order." more

Trio of violent attacks strike Iraq



A trio of attacks targeting Iraqi security forces have killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens more in locations near the capital Baghdad, officials have said.

The deadliest incident was near the southern town of al-Shumali where a car bomb exploded in front of a restaurant frequented by security officers, killing 13 people and wounding many more, officials and medics said.

Al-Shumali is just south of Hillah, located about 90km south of Baghdad. It is also a popular resting place for Shia Muslim pilgrims headed to the holy shrine of the Imam al-Hamza, located 4km south of the town.

Later on Wednesday morning, two soldiers were killed and 11 were wounded in a blast at a military camp near the town of Habbaniyah, 80km west of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said on condition of anonymity.

Explosives were detonated on a minibus that was carrying soldiers to a training area in western Iraq's Anbar province, they said.

"The soldiers finished their academic training and a bus took them to have breakfast at the restaurant in the base. When the bus reached the restaurant it exploded," an Iraqi army source told the Reuters news agency.

In the dawn attack, gunmen opened fire on a security patrol in a mixed Sunni-Shia neighbourhood in northeastern Baghdad, killing two policemen and wounding a third, according to a police official and a medic at Baghdad city hospital. more

Pirates a Growing Threat to Tourists, Corporate Travelers

High seas pirates, which have preyed on tankers and cargo ships, are expanding and becoming an increasing menace to tourists and corporate travelers.

The most jarring example of growing boldness of modern day pirates is a tactic that is a throwback to the days of sea raiders. Last weekend, wealthy British publisher David Tebbutt and his wife Judith were vacationing at a coastal Kenyan resort when they were attacked from the sea.

Tebbutt was shot dead and his wife was taken away by boat and is still missing. While the attackers have not been caught, some fear a Somali pirate gang could be responsible.

"Piracy is something that people should be worried about, especially if they are going for tourism," said Michelle Bernier-Toth, the managing director for overseas citizens service at the U.S. Department of State.

"It does happen and it is not something that people should take lightly. Incidents have been increasingly violent, very brutal and people are literally taking their lives in their hands when they set off on what could be a very unfortunate adventure," Bernier-Toth said. more

Europe, U.S. in Mideast peace push before U.N. showdown: Could this be the beginning of a massive confrontation?

U.S. envoys raced on Wednesday to try to revive Middle East peace talks and avert a Palestinian bid for United Nations membership, but a U.N. official said it was probably too late to stop the move opposed by Israel and the United States.

U.S. Middle East peace envoy David Hale and senior White House aide Dennis Ross, who met both sides last week, planned to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday.

Their visit appeared to be a last-ditch effort to persuade Abbas to abandon plans to seek to upgrade the Palestinians' U.N. status, a step the Western-backed leader has said he is taking in the absence of peace negotiations.

"There is a lot of intensive diplomacy on a formula that could avoid a diplomatic train wreck, and it is still going on," a senior Israeli government official said.

Israel and the United States have urged Abbas to return to talks rather than pursue unilateral steps at the world body during the General Assembly session that begins on Monday.

Abbas broke off those U.S. .-sponsored negotiations soon after they began last September, after Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month partial moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, land Israel occupied in a 1967 war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state. more

Regulation Nation: Farmers Worry Over Crop of New Rules in America

Farmers are concerned that some new, tighter federal regulations on agriculture are stunting the growth of their businesses and say regulatory uncertainty makes it difficult for them to plan for the future.

Steve Baker owns a small hog farm in Shenandoah County Virginia and while many of the federal standards that apply to larger operations wouldn’t normally apply to him, similar Environmental Protection Agency rules intended to cut down on runoff into the Chesapeake Bay do. He has a professionally developed nutrient plan that governs his manure management and he closely monitors and documents where and how each load of manure is spread on his fields.

“Thirty years ago, it wasn't as big of an issue as today but today it is right in the forefront but, you know, we've just got to address it,” Baker said. “It does take additional effort but we do what we have to and yeah, we do keep diligent records.”

The EPA says it works with farmers when it develops regulations to find a balance between fulfilling its mission and being burdensome to agriculture.

“EPA is in close consultation with America’s farmers and ranchers,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We have listened to their concerns and made them a part of the work we do.” more

'Naked' scanners may soon be on the way out -- Seems a little too easy, doesn't it?

The House Subcommittee on Transportation Security on Wednesday unanimously approved an amendment to the annual TSA Authorization Act of 2011 that would put an end to "naked" full-body images currently produced by Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines at U.S. airports.

The scanners, which were first deployed at U.S. airports beginning in 2007, have been widely criticized, with privacy advocates arguing the images are too revealing.

Under the amendment, introduced by Rep. Chip Craavack (R-Minn.), a former airline pilot, the Transportation Security Administration would have 90 days to install automated target recognition software on all AIT machines. The new software produces a generic, stick figure outline of a person being screened rather than a detailed, passenger-specific image. If a traveler has a suspicious item on their body, it shows up as a red box on a specific area of a stick figure outline. more

Slavery still rife in the USA, claims Al Jazeera doc

Slavery persists in The United States of America and there are more slaves worldwide than ever before, according to a shocking new documentary series premiering on Al Jazeera English on 10 October 2011.

Oscar and Emmy winning executive producer Jon Blair says, "Slavery: A 21st Century Evil has been a year in the making and represents one of Al Jazeera's most important global investigations. Shot onthree continents, this is the most in-depth study undertaken by any broadcaster of how and why modern day slavery persists.”

250 years after President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery, Slavery: A 21st Century Evil suggests there are up to 50 000 slaves in America – with 17 000 new slaves arriving every year.

The series investigates the largest slave labor case in legal history, in which a California company is charged with enslaving more than 900 Thai child laborers on farms across America. The groundbreaking case goes to court next year.

Presented by Somali-born British journalist Rageh Omaar, Slavery: A 21st Century Evil also highlights a number of other current incarnations of 21st century slavery, including prison slaves; sex slaves; “restavek” child slaves in Haiti; and American brands benefiting from forced slave labor in Brazil.

America is not unique: slavery is flourishing all over the world. “Today 27 million men, women and children are held, sold and trafficked as slaves throughout the world,” says Rageh, who also investigated sex slaves in Europe, bonded labor slaves in Pakistan, and bridal slaves in India, among other horrors. “That’s more than double the 12.5 million Africans who were taken into slavery during the several centuries of the Atlantic slave trade. This is atrade worth $32 billion a year – a trade that refuses to die and remains the most prolific evil in the world today.”

Series producer Tim Tate says, “Slavery: A 21st Century Evil" reveals uncomfortable truths about the role of slave labor in modern life, like the way some of the food on the shelves of American supermarkets has been harvested by slaves, or the use of slave labor in producing many of the goods consumers throughout the world take for granted.”

He adds, “It’s also a challenge to the American government itself. There has never been an easier time to rid the world of slavery but we live in a world where a top lawyer charges £3 000 per hour and a slave can be bought for £55 or less. Despite its self-appointed role as the world’s anti-slavery police, the US devotes precious few resources to its own part in the 21st century slave trade.”

The final episode will be an open public, debate which will discuss how the modern slave trade can be targeted and will assess the efforts of the USA and the United Nations – the two major agencies involved.

The seven 30-minute and one 60-minute episodes begin on 10 October 2011. Watch a compilation of excerpts at http://www.vimeo.com/29040905.

For more information, visit: http://english.aljazeera.net

LA Porn Studio Begins Construction On ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ Underground Bunker: Is our society worth saving?

A San Fernando Valley adult entertainment studio began construction this month on what it calls a “post-apocalyptic” underground bunker in anticipation of a global catastrophe rumored to take place in late 2012.

A spokesman for Van Nuys-based Pink Visual said the bunker will be “far more than a mere bomb shelter or subterranean survivalist enclave” with amenities such as multiple fully-stocked bars, an enormous performing stage and a sophisticated content production studio.

“Our goal is nothing less than to survive the apocalypse to come in comfort and luxury,” said Pink Visual spokesman Quentin Boyer, “whether that catastrophe takes the form of fireballs flung earthward by an all-seeing deity, extended torrential rainfall, Biblical rapture, an earthquake-driven mega-tsunami, radioactive flesh-eating zombies, or some combination of the above.”

The studio’s website will also be maintained and updated throughout any potential disaster “even if those websites are only available on the bunker’s self-contained local network by that time,” Boyer added.

He declined to give the exact location of the bunker over “security concerns”. more

Nigeria government dismisses 'killer' phone number: Why do societies fall for mass hysteria and propaganda?

Nigeria's government is assuring people in Africa's most populous nation: a phone call can't kill you.

A text message has spread across the oil-rich country in recent days, warning that people will die if they answer mobile phone calls from 09141. The widespread fear forced the Nigerian Communications Commission to issue a statement Wednesday saying it is "unimaginable that somebody will die while receiving a call."

Commission spokesman Reuben Muoka says: "It is only very gullible people that will believe such a rumor."

Text message panics in Nigeria have included rumors of bombings and rumors that acid rain from seasonal dust storms can burn people alive. The campaigns are aided by poor education and lack of faith in the government.

A call to the number Thursday resulted in no fatalities. more

Angie Gomez, teen who faked cancer, faces theft charges after "raising" $17,000 for herself

The good news is she doesn't have cancer.

The bad news is she faces criminal charges.

The Horizon City Police Department has filed criminal charges against a young woman who raised the sympathy of a community along with thousands of dollars in donations by claiming she was dying from cancer.

Police officials said Tuesday that a three-month investigation found that Angie Gomez, 18, had no record of having leukemia, as she claimed while allegedly collecting about $17,000 in donations.

Gomez is accused of theft by deception over $1,500, a state jail felony. The case has been sent to the district attorney's office as a non-arrest, meaning she has not been taken into custody.

"There is nothing to indicate she had cancer. There is no medical records, no doctors," Detective Liliana Medina said. The investigation determined there were no other suspects in the case, Medina said. more

Reports: China driver fatally runs over meter maid as road rage incidents in China go on the rise

A man determined to escape paying a parking fee in downtown Shanghai ran over and killed a meter maid in the latest in a spate of road rage incidents in China.

The uniformed parking attendant was standing in front of the man's car trying to prevent him from leaving when she was run over, the Xinmin News and other local reports said Thursday. Parking in the area costs 15 yuan (about $2.35) an hour.

The reports said the man drove into the woman and that she was dragged under the Audi sedan until he stopped a short while later, and that passersby pulled her from beneath the car. She died after she was taken to a nearby hospital.

Police, who reportedly took the man into custody, did not respond to phone calls after office hours Thursday.

A search for the vehicle involved in the incident in a police traffic website revealed 22 records, including for speeding and parking and other alleged violations.

Reports of road rage and drunk driving incidents in China have been on the rise, reflecting the boom in auto sales. Many drivers hit the streets with little more than cursory training and show scant regard for traffic lights and other basic rules.

Last week in Beijing, a prominent singer associated with the military apologized publicly after his son attacked a couple in their car when they blocked his way while he was driving a BMW reportedly given to him by his father, although he was too young to have a license. source

8-year-old girl arrested for allegedly punching vice principal

An 8-year-old girl was arrested for punching the vice principal at her school in the chest this morning in Ewa Beach, police said.

Police said the girl punched the 61-year-old man about 8:15 a.m., causing pain. The girl was arrested for investigation of second-degree assault. source

Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Dr. Ivar Giaever Resigns Over Global Warming

The global warming theory left him out in the cold.

Dr. Ivar Giaever, a former professor with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the 1973 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, Sept. 13, from the premier physics society in disgust over its officially stated policy that "global warming is occurring."

The official position of the American Physical Society (APS) supports the theory that man's actions have inexorably led to the warming of the planet, through increased emissions of carbon dioxide.

Giaever does not agree -- and put it bluntly and succinctly in the subject line of his email, reprinted at Climate Depot, a website devoted to debunking the theory of man-made climate change.

"I resign from APS," Giaever wrote.

Giaever was cooled to the statement on warming theory by a line claiming that "the evidence is incontrovertible."

"In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?" he wrote in an email to Kate Kirby, executive officer of the physics society.

"The claim … is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this 'warming' period," his email message said. more

Will German indecision on the euro drag the whole world down?

Monetary union hasn’t worked, but Germany, Europe’s strongest nation, won’t face the consequences.

Does Germany sincerely want to be European? I pose this seemingly silly question because, as has long been apparent, Europe’s fate lies in that country’s hands. As the great engine room of the European economy, it has the power to save or break the euro.

Germany could also choose to stop inappropriately imposing its own monetary disciplines on others, and leave the euro itself. In the spirit of altruism, this might indeed be the best thing it could do for its fellow Europeans.

Yet torn between two constituencies – a policy elite that remains wedded to discredited ideas of European solidarity, and the great mass of the German people who do not see why they should be required to subsidise the profligacy of their ill-disciplined fellow travellers – Germany has become paralysed.

Trapped by their history, the country’s leaders seem incapable of facing up to the choices that need to be made to bring the chaos of today’s related sovereign debt and banking crises to any kind of meaningful resolution.

In its indecision, Germany threatens not just the future prosperity of Europe, including its own, but as is clear from the growing alarm of American and Chinese policymakers, that of the world economy as a whole. more

Magnitude 5.1 - SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 2011 September 15

Magnitude5.1
Date-Time
Location56.308°S, 26.820°W
Depth105.3 km (65.4 miles)
RegionSOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
Distances49 km (30 miles) NNE of Visokoi Island, South Sandwich Islands
303 km (188 miles) N of Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands
2078 km (1291 miles) ESE of STANLEY, Falkland Islands
3413 km (2120 miles) SE of BUENOS AIRES, D.F., Argentina
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 18.1 km (11.2 miles); depth +/- 10.7 km (6.6 miles)
ParametersNST= 24, Nph= 25, Dmin=654.6 km, Rmss=0.55 sec, Gp= 68°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=3
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusc0005vhb

7.3 Magnitude earthquake rocks Fiji -- September 15, 2011

Magnitude7.3
Date-Time
Location21.596°S, 179.270°W
Depth593 km (368.5 miles)
RegionFIJI REGION
Distances120 km (74 miles) SSW of Ndoi Island, Fiji
425 km (264 miles) W of NUKU`ALOFA, Tonga
453 km (281 miles) SSE of SUVA, Viti Levu, Fiji
1788 km (1111 miles) NNE of Auckland, New Zealand
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 17.2 km (10.7 miles); depth +/- 18.7 km (11.6 miles)
ParametersNST= 49, Nph= 49, Dmin=511 km, Rmss=0.85 sec, Gp= 79°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=6
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusc0005vcv

Weekly Annoucements: September 15, 2011

Hello everyone,

Today's announcements are a day late due to the important alert being posted yesterday. We didn't want to distract from people paying their full attention to it. If you haven't already read it, please do so from time to time to check for updates. It's very important.

1. The Coming Crisis Dollar Drive is about to get a revamp! We've heard you and appreciate that you want to get something in return for your dollar donation. That's reasonable. If this is your first time and you don't know what the Dollar Drive is, it's basically a monthly donation drive that asks all of our readers to contribute just one dollar a month to help keep this website running and news coming.

Starting today, every dollar you donate will give you a free entry into a monthly prize draw stocked up by sponsors, and will include things like survival supplies, free dinners for two, and similar items that will take place at the end of the month (with the first draw happening in October). So if you donate one dollar, you'll receive one free entry into the draw. If you donate 5 dollars, you'll receive 5 free entries, and so on. Get it? We record all the names, so make sure you include your contact information when you make your donation so that we can enter you into the draw.

But wait, there's more! If we meet the fundraising goal for that month, we're going to toss in a mega-prize in addition to the sponsor prizes! It will be something awesome like an iPad to view our website with, a digital camera to take snapshots of crazy weather, etc. It's our special thanks to our readers for helping us stay funded and alive. Details about the New Dollar Drive will be coming soon on the usual Dollar Drive info page, so bear with us as we update it. Remember, all donations starting today earn entries into the draw. Everyone wins!

2. Swearing: Yes, we know our website is viewed by many passionate readers who care about our cause, and we think you're all great because of it. However, it must be stated that children and students (yes, they actually write in to us to help them with their research) also visit this website, as well as people who find swearing offensive, so we kindly ask you to review our commenting requests on the About/Contact page and to keep your comment posts clean. Thanks, guys.

That's it for this week. Stay safe, stay elevated, and stay alert.

Take care,

-- Matt & Lynsey

Zahra Baler's stepmother finally admits she murdered her and cut up her body to hide the evidence - 15th Sept 2011

The stepmother of a disabled 10-year-old girl, whose remains were found scattered across her home state, has pleaded guilty to murder.

Elisa Baker, 42, could spend up to 18 years behind bars after admitting second-degree murder in the death of the child as part of a plea deal. Baker also pleaded guilty to attempting to thwart investigators by planting a fake ransom note at the family home.

The deal comes nearly a year after the Australian girl was reported missing from her home in the western North Carolina town of Hickory.

The disappearance of the freckle-faced girl captivated communities both in the US and in Australia. Zahra's father had moved to the United States to marry Elisa after the two met online.

Zahra had a prosthetic leg after losing her limb aged five, and wore two hearing aids after an early battle with bone cancer.

The child's head, hands and parts of her arms and legs have never been found, the court heard on Thursday.

Her prosthetic leg was discovered during a mammoth search for her remains that spanned three counties.

For the first time, police said they think Zahra died on Sept. 24, 2010, weeks before Elisa and Adam Baker originally reported her missing. Read More

Cassius Clay - the world's biggest captive crocodile - 15th Sept 2011

As the name suggests, he is a powerful heavyweight with a bit of bite.

But this Cassius Clay will not be going into the Guinness Book of Records for his killer uppercut - weighing in at close to a tonne and measuring 18ft in length, he is the biggest captive crocodile in the world.

The saltwater croc is believed to be at least 100-years-old and has lived in Marineland Melanesia on Green Island in Australia, for 24 years.

And this photograph shows the croc’s brave owner George Craig watching over Cassius’s pool being drained so he could be officially measured for the title.

Fellow Marineland Melanesia keeper Toody Scott said he was ‘ecstatic’ about Cassius claiming the record.

He told Cairns.com.au: ‘It confirms our belief that we’ve got the biggest croc, and it’s good that he’s got a bit of recognition for it.’ Read More


UK's Answer to unruly and Shy Children: Drug them... with 650,000 youngsters already on Ritalin - 15th Sept 2011

Children who are shy or considered moody run the risk of being diagnosed with mental illnesses and given powerful drugs like Prozac, psychologists have warned.

Experts said mental health diagnoses are likely to increase from 2013 as new guidelines on the definition of mental illness are being drawn up in America and are likely to be replicated in Britain.

Psychologists in the UK fear school-age children could be diagnosed with mental illnesses like 'social anxiety disorder' if they are quieter among their peers, or depression if a child is temporarily sad or is battling bereavement.

Meanwhile, youngsters who appear to lose their temper easily or answer back to adults could be classed as having 'oppositional defiant disorder'. (are they for real?)

Once diagnosed, psychologists say children are likely to be treated with powerful drugs like Prozac or Ritalin to curb their behaviour - without fully understanding the long-term impacts.

Ritalin is already used to help control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in youngsters under six and about 650,000 children aged between eight and 13 have also been prescribed the drug or an equivalent. Read More

Unusually heavy rains at the Delhi airport, India - 15th Sept 2011

Unusually heavy rains at the Delhi airport on Thursday reduced visibility, leading to disruption in flight operations.

According to Airport Met d
epartment, airport witnessed 117 mm of unprecedented rains between 1435 to 1540 hours.

"It was a cloudbrust like situation. Since 1959, this was the highest rainfall recorded at the IGI airport," said RK Jenaman
i, director Airport Met department.

The intensity of rain was s
uch that the visibility at runway dropped to 250 metres.

This led to diversion of one flight while a few were asked to hover over Delhi airspace by the ATC, airport sources said.

However, since it was not the peak hour, many flights were not affected, they said, adding rains also disrupted the services of Airport Metro Express line.
Source

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake BOUVET ISLAND REGION - 15th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Bouvet Island Region at a depth of 14.9 km (9.3 miles), the quake hit at 16:54:50 UTC Thursday 15th September 2011.
The epicenter was 322 km (200 miles) West of Bouvet Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Newly discovered comet dives into the Sun on ill-fated maiden voyage through the solar system

SUNDIVING COMET: A comet is diving into the sun today. Just discovered by comet hunters Michal Kusiak of Poland and Sergei Schmalz of Germany, the icy visitor from the outer solar system is expected to brighten to first magnitude before it disintegrates on Sept. 14th. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory is monitoring the comet’s death plunge. source

Aside from a comet crashing into the sun being interesting from a cosmic point of view, this goes to show just how easy objects can slip in and out of our solar system while going mostly unnoticed, or noticed only at the last minute. The universe contains an incredible amount of objects and events we know very little about or whose existence we've never even contemplated, which offers a good reason for all of us to keep our minds as open.

PLO official: Palestinians, Israelis must be totally separated

The future independent Palestinian state will not include a Jewish minority, a top Palestinian official told USA Today on Wednesday, adding that it was in the best interest of both peoples to "be separated."

Maen Areikat, PLO Ambassador to the United States, made the comment just as the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, was preparing to offer up Palestinian statehood to a vote in the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

Answering a question about the legal status of a Jewish minority in the future state, Areikat apprently rejected the issue, saying: "I believe, I still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated," adding "I think we can contemplate these issues in the future."

"After the experience of the last 44 years, of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interest that the two peoples should be separated," Areikat added.

Former U.S. National Security Council official Elliot Abrams responded to the Palestinian official's comment, saying to USA Today that the Palestinian demand was "a despicable form of anti-Semitism," adding: "No civilized country would act this way." more

Wait a second: wasn't Israel the country that "acted this way" by turning Gaza into a concentration camp for the last several decades?

Women Carjack, Beat 80-Year-Old Man In Englewood

An 80-year-old man was carjacked and beaten by four women whom he gave a ride Wednesday evening in the Englewood neighborhood.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the man offered a ride to the four young women, but after they were in his car, they turned on him.

Around 6:50 p.m. in the 6900 block of South Parnell Avenue the women beat the man with the cane he uses to walk, and took his wallet and cell phone, police said. The man ended up getting out his 1999 Toyota Camry, and the women drove off in the car.

The man was slightly hurt in the attack and was treated at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.

Police say they have not found the car, nor the women carjackers. more

Solyndra the 'tip of the iceberg'? More corruption and wastefulness to be revealed?

The White House deflected criticism that it put pressure on officials to get major stimulus funding through for bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra.

The FBI and officials from the U.S. Department of Energy last week raided Solyndra's offices in San Francisco. The raid was apparently in connection with $535 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. Energy Department, though the FBI didn't offer details about the raid.

Republican critics of U.S. President Barack Obama claim e-mail messages from 2009 suggest his administration used political pressure to get the loan through to showcase his commitment to a green economy, something Obama trumpeted in his State of the Union address in January. more

Jobless Claims, Inflation Rise, Manufacturing Gets Weaker

Applications for unemployment benefits continued to rise in the past week, while inflation pushed higher and a key manufacturing index weakened.

The weekly jobless claims number, which is closely watched as an indicator for employment trends, unexpectedly rose 11,000 to 428,000, well ahead of estimates of 411,000.

The consumer price index, meanwhile, gained 0.4 percent when including volatile food and energy prices, after an increase of 0.5 percent in July. The so-called core CPI, though, gained 0.2 percent, which was in line with expectations.

Consumers paid more for a range of goods and services last month, pushing up inflation and squeezing Americans' purchasing power.

For the 12 months ending in August, the core index surged 2 percent, the biggest year-over-year increase in nearly three years. That's at the top end of the Federal Reserve's informal inflation [cnbc explains] target. It could limit the central bank's ability to take further steps to try to revive the economy. more

Attackwatch.com -- Obama creates website to track all "smear campaigns" against him (Kind of scary)

Do your part by reporting in any attacks against the Golfer-in-Chief here.

Supper snow in forecast for mountains around Aspen, Colorado

A slow-moving storm is expected to bring the mountains surrounding Aspen an early taste of snow on Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency has issued a winter weather advisory for the central and southwest mountains of Colorado, including the Elk Mountains surrounding Aspen. Snow is expected to begin accumulating above 12,000 feet in elevation at around 9 p.m. Wednesday. Snow levels could drop as low as 9,000 feet, the weather service said. By Thursday morning, 2 to 6 inches of snow are possible above 10,000 feet.

Hazardous overnight driving conditions are possible on mountain passes, cautioned the weather service.

“Places such as Vail and Independence passes, Monarch Pass and Red Mountain Pass will experience some snow and slush accumulation, creating hazardous, early season winter-driving conditions,” the weather service said.

Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen, remains open. It closes for the winter in early November unless winter weather forces the Colorado Department of Transportation to lock the gates early. more

China states "price" for Italian rescue

China has called for major strategic concessions from Europe before agreeing to rescue the eurozone, chilling hopes for immediate purchases of Italian bonds.

Premier Wen Jiabao said his country and will play its part to "prevent the further spread of the sovereign debt crisis," but warned that China will not sign a blank cheque for states that have failed to carry out full reform.

"Countries must first put their own houses in order," he told the World Economic Forum in Dalian.

Mr Wen said he had spoken to José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, laying the conditions for Chinese intervention.

"I made clear to him that we are confident Europe will overcome its difficulties and make a full recovery. We have on many occasions expressed our readiness to extend a helping hand, and that we are willing to invest more in European countries."

"At the same time, we need bold steps to give redirection to China's strategic objective. We believe they should recognise China’s full market economy status," he said, referring to World Trade Organisation rules. more

Mortgage default warnings surged in August

Banks have stepped up their actions against homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, setting the stage for a fresh wave of foreclosures.

The number of U.S. homes that received an initial default notice -- the first step in the foreclosure process -- jumped 33 percent in August from July, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

The increase represents a nine-month high and the biggest monthly gain in four years. The spike signals banks are starting to take swifter action against homeowners, nearly a year after processing issues led to a sharp slowdown in foreclosures.

"This is really the first time we've seen a significant increase in the number of new foreclosure actions," said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. "It's still possible this is a blip, but I think it's much more likely we're seeing the beginning of a trend here."

Foreclosure activity began to slow last fall after problems surfaced with the way many lenders were handling foreclosure paperwork, namely shoddy mortgage paperwork comprising several shortcuts known collectively as robo-signing. more

China 'losing edge' as low-cost manufacturer

China is losing its edge as the world's cheapest place to manufacture goods, a new report suggests.

Indonesia and Bangladesh are benefiting most as rising costs in China force firms to switch production, it says.

The report by consultants KPMG says that minimum wage levels in China are now four times greater than other places in South and South East Asia.

However, the report says China can defend its position because of its productivity and infrastructure.

China is still dominant in the production of goods such as consumer electronics and furniture.

But the report says that production of clothing and footwear is now more widely dispersed across Asia, with Indonesia and Vietnam specialising in the production of footwear and India developing a niche in hand-stitched fabrics and metalware.

According to KPMG estimates, Indonesia's footwear exports grew by 42% in 2010 to $2.1bn (£1.3bn), while Bangladesh saw textiles exports grow by 43% to more than $18bn in the year to July 2011.

"Sourcing goods in China purely because of ultra-low costs is a thing of the past," said Nick Debnam, KPMG's Asia-Pacific chair. more

Women's cancers reach two million

Two million women were diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer last year, according to global figures.

A sharp rise in cases was seen in women under 50 in low-income nations, say US experts.

Women in richer countries fared better due in part to screening, medicines, anti-smoking policies and vaccines, they report in the Lancet.

The research backs calls for world leaders to make cancer prevention a priority in the developing world.

The new global statistics from hundreds of cancer registries worldwide found there were about 2 million new cases of breast and cervical cancer in 2010, and 625,000 deaths.

The analysis, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Seattle, highlighted a sharp rise in breast and cervical cancer among younger women in developing countries. more

Pakistan floods: Two million hit by disease in Sindh

More than two million people in Pakistan are suffering from flood-related diseases following torrential rain in Sindh province, officials say.

More than 7,000 people are being treated for snake bites.

Aid agencies estimate that six million people have been affected by the floods and that cases of malaria and diarrhoea are increasing.

The UN's refugee agency says that the flooding is so bad that some areas will remain submerged for six months.

However the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Pakistan says that the situation in the southern port city of Karachi is showing some sign of limping back to normal after three days of heavy downpours.

Our correspondent says that some schools whose premises were not flooded have managed to reopen after being closed for two days. more

Can China save Europe? (More importantly: Should we let it?)

In the late 1980s, developed nations helped bail out Latin America and other emerging markets.

The issuance of so-called Brady bonds (named for the former Reagan/Bush-era Treasury secretary) enabled Brazil and other debt-laden countries to find a way out of the fiscal abyss.

Oh, how the tables have turned.

With Europe's credit and banking crisis seeming to get worse by the day, there are now several reports that Brazil -- as well as Russia, India and China -- may look to buy up a portion of sovereign debt from troubled European nations. You could a call it a BRIC Brady bond plan for the 21st century.

"Capital is flowing from lesser developed countries to higher per capita income countries. We are not used to that," said Jeffrey Bergstrand, a professor of finance with the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame." But it makes sense because of the dramatic shift in global wealth."

Although China premier Wen Jiabao confirmed at a World Economic Forum meeting Wednesday that it may step up its purchase of European debt, nothing is set in stone (or BRICs if you will.) more

Default or departure: Greece’s dangerous dilemma

Endless political rhetoric and billions in bailouts have left Greece no closer to solving the dangerous dilemma it is facing today.

Should the country give up trying to pay its bills and incur the wrath of its creditors? Or leave a monetary union that has brought a decade of comparative prosperity and stability?

So, how much is at stake?

Greece has $370 billion of outstanding debt - equal to around 3% percent of the eurozone’s total obligations. Compare that with 23% percent for Italy, whose debt pile stands at a whopping $1.9 trillion - and you can see that a Greek default would be less extreme than for other, larger eurozone partners.

But Greece is grabbing the headlines because its predicament exposes potentially fatal errors in the common currency project.

The 17 countries that share the euro are a disparate bunch with no fiscal union to back up their monetary marriage.

The legal framework is also inadequate and does not provide for the scenario Greece is now facing.

To make matters worse, aside from playing puppet and paymasters extraordinaire, Germany and France are obliged to support their poor cousin because they have the most to lose if it does go under.

Germany's banks holds the lion share of the world’s exposure to Greece with an eye watering $22.65 billion held in Greek sovereign debt and $2.24 billion of holdings in Greek bank bonds.

France's banks are exposed to more than $17 billion. This is one of the reasons why Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are the ones calling the shots on Greece’s fate. more

Angry activists say Turkey handed deserted officer Lt. Col. Hussein al-Harmoush to Syria

Syrian activists are denouncing the Turkish government in the wake of the Syrian regime's announcement that it has a deserted army officer in custody.

The officer is Lt. Col. Hussein al-Harmoush, one of the first Syrian army officers to publicly desert and begin making online declarations denouncing the Damascus regime.

"The Turks handed him to the Syrian secret police," said Omar al-Muqdad, a prominent Syrian opposition activist who is now in exile in Turkey applying for refugee status.

"The Turkish government is directly responsible for Harmoush's destiny, because Harmoush was a refugee on their territory. They have to be honest about him. ...under international rules, any country that receives him has to protect him," al-Muqdad said. more

Hot weather forces blackouts in South Korea

South Koreans found themselves sweltering in the heat, stuck in elevators and even without cell phone service Thursday as power outages affected hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

The South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy said high demand for air conditioning during a heat wave, together with reduced supplies as power plants were shut down for maintenance, likely led to the blackouts, the country's Yonhap news agency reported.

The country's sole electric service provider, Korea Electric Power Corp., said it was forced to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to prevent the electrical grid from falling below reserve levels that could lead to a nationwide blackout that could take days or weeks to recover from, according to the Yonhap report.

The power company instituted rolling blackouts that lasted about four hours, ending at about 8 p.m. local time.

The power cuts led to 100 reports of people trapped in elevators and shut down banks and schools, The Korea Herald reported. No injuries were reported.

Temperatures went as high as 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) in Seoul on Thursday, about 10 degrees higher than average. more

Chinese "innovation" – paper tiger or king of the hill?

Two narratives are in play these days with regard to China’s innovation future. They could not be more polar opposite. One is openly dismissive of China, while the other sees a massive threat from the East on a scale that makes the Japan of the 1980’s seem like a tea party. The truth as always lies somewhere in between. But there is value in deconstructing these current perceptions because the future of China is definitely in play, and with it the world’s response.

Perhaps the most obvious example of narrative #1 is a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal, titled Chinese Innovation, A Paper Tiger. It argues that China’s innovation prowess has been misleadingly marked up because of the number of patents it has filed. The authors, respected management academics, contend that the quality of those patents is low, more related to incremental improvement than groundbreaking innovation and therefore, China is not an innovation force to be reckoned with.

While this may be an argument for teaching logic in business schools, it is typical of a more general thesis - that the Chinese are imitators, that they will always remain “downstream” from us who are the “upstream” wellspring of world-changing innovation. The “paper tiger” reference itself suggests a kind of pejorative payback, in that it was originally used by Mao Zedong to describe America’s lack of military will during the Korean war era. more