Tuesday, September 20, 2011

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 20th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck South of the Fiji Islands at a depth of 131.3 km (81.6 miles), the quake hit at 22:44:42 UTC Tuesday 20th September 2011.
The epicenter was 162 km (100 miles) Southwest of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time.

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 20th Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 209.9 km (130.4 miles), the quake hit at 21:28:28 UTC Tuesday 20th September 2011.
The epicenter was 81 km (50 miles) North of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time.

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 20th Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 57.5 km (35.7 miles), the quake hit at 20:59:05 UTC Tuesday 20th September 2011.
The epicenter was 82 km (50 miles) ENE of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time.

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 20th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 18.1 km (11.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:24:59 UTC Tuesday 20th September 2011.
The epicenter was 168 km (104 miles) SSE of Yunaska Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time.

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Al-Shabab radio gives weapons prize to Somali children (an AK-47)

A radio station run by Somalia's al-Shabab Islamist group has awarded weapons to children who won a Koran-reciting and general knowledge contest.

Andulus radio, based near Mogadishu, gave the group which won first prize in the Ramadan competition an AK-47 rifle and the equivalent of $700 (£450).

The second prize-winners received an AK-47 and $500, while the third prize was two hand grenades and $400.

Al-Shabab, linked to al-Qaeda, controls much of southern and central Somalia.

It recently withdrew from the capital, Mogadishu, where the UN-backed government is in charge.

Four children, aged 10-17, were chosen to represent each district in the competition held during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended in August.

"Youths should use one hand for education and the other for a gun to defend Islam," senior al-Shabab official Mukhtar Robow told the prize-giving ceremony in Elasha, 20km (12 miles) from Mogadishu.

The winners were also given religious books.

The BBC's Mohamed Moalimu in Mogadishu says this is the third year the contest has been held.

In previous years, when the competition was organised in the southern port of Kismayo, the first prize included an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade launcher). more

Thieves steal 1,400 pairs of sunglasses from mall: Windsor, Canada

Windsor Police say thieves stole more than 1,000 pairs of high-end sunglasses from a specialty store overnight Friday.

Police say thieves entered the Sunglass Hut through the roof of Devonshire Mall and made off with between 1,200 and 1,400 pairs of sunglasses.

The store manager made the discovery early Saturday morning and called police.

The manager led investigating officers to a rear storage room where they found a hole had been cut through the roof in order to gain access to the store.

Police say thieves gained entry sometime after the store closed at 9 p.m. Friday and before the store manager arrived to open the store at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

Citing the ongoing investigation, police declined to estimate the worth of the stolen merchandise.

However, investigators are also probing the possibility that the crime may have been linked to similar occurrences which took place at the same franchise in Waterloo, Ont. in 2007 and London, Ont. in 2008. more

Yemen street battles escalate, 50 dead in two days as civil war threat looms

Rapidly escalating street battles between opponents of Yemen's regime and forces loyal to its embattled president spread to the home districts of senior government figures and other highly sensitive areas of the capital on Tuesday. A third day of fighting, including a mortar attack on unarmed protesters, killed nine people, medical officials said.

The latest deaths took to at least 60 the number of people killed since Sunday, as anti-regime protesters step up their campaign to topple President Ali Abdullah Saleh and a key military unit supporting them is drawn deeper into the fighting. Saleh's forces have hit back with attacks by rooftop snipers and shelling of protest encampments.

In Geneva, the United Nations said Tuesday that four children were killed by live ammunition during the unrest on Sunday and Monday. Marixie Mercado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. children's' fund, also said that 18 minors were injured.

Mercado told reporters in Geneva that the casualties were confirmed by UNICEF's local partners in Yemen.

Yemen's turmoil began in February as the unrest spreading throughout the Arab world set off largely peaceful protests in the deeply impoverished and unstable corner of the Arabian Peninsula that is also home to an al-Qaida offshoot blamed for several nearly successful attempts to attack the United States.

The government has responded with a heavy crackdown. more

Ennis High School: Dozens Test Positive for Exposure to Tuberculosis

At least 80 students, teachers and staff at Ennis High School have tested positive for exposure to tuberculosis.

The skin tests were ordered because a teacher now on medical leave was diagnosed with the bacterial infection just before the first day of school.

Dr. Brian Smith of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said people who a positive skin test normally are not sick and are not infectious.

"What a positive skin test means is that a person has been exposed to the disease and they have picked up a tiny bit of the bacteria that has caused their body to react to the skin test, so in those persons you can kill the bacteria by giving a single medication for nine months," he said.

Those who tested positive are now being told to get chest X-rays at Baylor Medical Center in Waxahachie. more

Italian Scientists Go On Trial For Failing To Predict L'Aquila Earthquake: Absurdity? Or obligation?

A group of Italian scientists went on trial Tuesday for failing to predict an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in central Italy in 2009 despite signs of increased seismic activity in the area.

The seven defendants -- six scientists and one government official -- are accused of manslaughter in a case that some see as an unfair indictment of science.

Prosecutors say residents around the city of L'Aquila in the mountainous Abruzzo region should have been warned to flee their homes in the days before the quake.

"We simply want justice," L'Aquila prosecutor Alfredo Rossini said. The injured parties are asking for €50 million ($68 million) in damages.

The defendants were members of a panel that had met six days before the earthquake to assess risks after hundreds of tremors had shaken the medieval university city. At that meeting, a committee analyzed data from the low-magnitude tremors and determined that the activity was not a prelude to a major earthquake.

The only one of the seven defendants present at Tuesday's hearing was Bernardi De Bernardinis, a former senior official in the Civil Protection Agency. The other defendants include top scientists like Enzo Boschi, former director of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, as well as Claudio Eva, a physics professor at Genoa University in northern Italy.

"This is a trial which opens on very shaky foundations. You cannot put science on trial," Alfredo Biondi, Eva's lawyer, said. more

Ah, but why can't we? Isn't science all-knowing as it claims? Isn't that why most people aren't allowed to ask questions or challenge conventional wisdom because science is more informed and knowledgeable than the rest of us?

Contaminated cantaloupes leave four dead and 35 sick: US

The number of people killed by a contaminated batch of Colorado cantaloupes has risen to four, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said Monday.

The victims were from Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico where there were two deaths. Public health officials in New Mexico are also in the process of investigating two additional deaths, which they say may be linked to the same strain of listeria.

In addition, 35 people, aged between 35 and 96, were infected with the disease across ten different states since the outbreak on August 4. Twelve cases were reported in Colorado, six in Oklahoma, five in New Mexico, four in Nebraska, three in Texas, one in California, one in Illinois, one in Indiana, one in Montana, and one in West Virginia. The CDC warned more victims were likely to appear due to the incubation period of the bacteria.

The contaminated melons were traced to the Rocky Ford cantaloupes produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed Monday that listeria was found in samples taken from a Denver-area store and the Jensen Farms' packing facility. more

25 Pakistani Shia pilgrims killed in gun attack on bus

At least 25 Shia Muslim pilgrims have been killed after gunmen opened fire on a bus in western Pakistan, officials said.

The pilgrims had been travelling through Mastung in Balochistan province on their way to the Iranian border when the attack happened.

Several other people were injured, some critically, Pakistani media reported.

No group has admitted carrying out the attack but police say they believe the motive was sectarian.

Sunni and Shia extremists have frequently clashed and launched attacks on each other over the past 20 years.

Police said the bus, carrying more than 30 Shia pilgrims, had come from the provincial capital Quetta and was heading for the border town of Taftan.

Two motorcycles blocked its path as it travelled though Mastung and three gunmen stormed the vehicle, local tribal policeman Dadullah Baluch told the Associated Press news agency.

Shia Muslims are a minority in Pakistan.

It was the deadliest attack against Shias in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed at least 57 people at a Shia rally in Quetta in September 2010. source

Siemens 'withdraws 500m euros from French bank'

German industrial firm Siemens has withdrawn 500m euros (£436m) from a French bank and put it in the European Central Bank, according to reports.

According to the Financial Times, it withdrew the cash over concerns about the unnamed bank's stability.

It was also reportedly drawn to the higher rate of interest at the ECB.

Siemens has deposited about 6bn euros in the ECB, in one-week deposits, giving it the option to withdraw the cash with seven days' notice.

Last year, Siemens filed a request with regulators for a banking licence to help it expand financial services.

It is one of a limited number of companies that have a banking licence which allows them to deposit cash directly with the ECB.

The claims add to mounting fears of the impact of the eurozone debt crisis on confidence in the region's banks. more

Japan defence firm Mitsubishi Heavy in cyber attack

Japan's top weapons maker has confirmed it was the victim of a cyber attack reportedly targeting data on missiles, submarines and nuclear power plants.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) said viruses were found on more than 80 of its servers and computers last month.

The government said it was not aware of any leak of sensitive information.

But the defence ministry has demanded MHI carry out a full investigation. Officials were angered after learning of the breach from local media reports.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Japan's defence minister Yasuo Ichikawa said the cyber attackers had not succeeded in accessing any important information but MHI would be instructed "to undertake a review of their information control systems".

"The ministry will continue to monitor the problem and conduct investigations if necessary," Mr Ichikawa added. more

Violence stokes fears of civil war in Yemen



A violent crackdown by Yemeni authorities has left dozens dead at protests, witnesses and medical officials said Monday.

Bloody violence raged Monday in the capital, Sanaa, triggering a new wave of international pressure on Yemen. The United States and the United Nations called for an end to the violence.

An official with the human rights group Amnesty International said Yemen is on a "knife edge" and the situation could spiral into a civil war.

Officials from the United Nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council were in Sanaa, hoping to help organize a peaceful transfer of power.

Thirty-one people were killed Monday in clashes in Yemen, 28 in Sanaa, and three in Taiz, according to medical officials.

On Sunday, at least 26 protesters were killed and more than 550 were wounded -- hundreds of them by gunshots -- when security forces fired live bullets and tear gas at a massive demonstration in the city, a medic said. The death toll was expected to rise because some were in critical condition, witnesses said.

"The situation is getting very tense," said a resident of downtown Sanaa who asked not to be named for safety reasons. "We can hear gunshots, explosions, RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) constantly." more

India's burning issue with emissions from Hindu funeral pyres

Draped in a white shroud, the body of a man is engulfed in flames atop a massive pile of wood, the insatiable fire churning out ashes for hours.

A few yards away, a group of mourners chants prayers as the stench of burning flesh guides a billowing cloud of black smoke high into the Indian sky.

This is a traditional Hindu funeral pyre -- an ancient ritual that goes back thousands of years in which devotees cremate bodies by burning firewood in an open ground.

"The smoke is all around the ground," said Ankur Agrawal, a 31-year-old iron merchant who recently attended the final rites of his uncle at a cremation ground in the city of Moradabad in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. "There is a lot of consumption of wood," he added. more

Britain sees 'two autumns' as trees turn at different times

Autumn has come twice this year, according to the Woodland Trust, after the dry spring and invasive pests caused some trees to drop their leaves early.

Traditionally the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness” falls in late September as trees begin to turn gold and shed foliage.

But this year many species lost their leaves early due to one of the warmest and driest springs on record.

The Royal Horticultural Society recorded leaves turning yellow on hazelnut, acer and laburnum at the beginning of August.

Horse chestnuts, or conker trees, lost their leaves early due to the leaf miner moth, from Turkey, that has been spreading across the country. Autumnal flowers like winter hellebores, viburnum and magnolia also came out early.

But this was a “false autumn” caused by a lack of water rather than cold weather, explained Professor Tim Sparks, nature adviser to the Woodland Trust. more

China begins to purge 'vulgar' shows from television

Super Girl, one of China's most popular talent shows, has become the first major casualty of a new campaign to cleanse Chinese television of "vulgar" programming.

The show, produced by Hunan Satellite Television, attracted as many as 400 million viewers in its heyday to watch would-be pop stars sing off against each other.

However, a spokesman for the station said it would cancel Super Girl from next year's schedule and instead replace the programme with "shows that promote moral ethics and public safety, and provide practical information for housework".

The latest run of Super Girl began at the end of March with regional heats and finished last Friday with a three-hour finale.

However, the epic broadcast broke regulations banning entertainment shows from running for longer than two hours and from being screened during prime time.

Chinese state media said the State Administration of Film, Television and Radio (SARFT) was punishing Super Girl for overrunning its time slot by banning the show. more

Alliance Trust chief Katherine Garrett-Cox compares European debt crisis with botox

Katherine Garrett-Cox, chief executive of Alliance Trust, has dismissed Europe's attempts to solve its debt crisis as "economic cosmetic surgery", warning there is "more pain" to come over the next few months.

The head of Britain's largest investment trust said the company had reduced its exposure to equities during the first half of the year and invested in higher yielding, defensive stocks ready for a prolonged period of uncertainty.

Her comments came as the company said its net asset value had climbed 0.7pc in the six months ending July 31, with its share price rising 3.1pc.

"It's a bit like botox," she said, referring to efforts to bail out debt-ridden countries. "It looks good for a while but will eventually start to sag again."

Alliance Trust - which defeated a resolution from rebel investor Laxey Partners in May to set up an automatic buyback policy aimed at boosting its share value - has bought back almost 40m shares, 6pc of issued share capital, since the start of February. Ms Garrett-Cox said the company was on course to pay a full-year dividend of 8.5p, representing a 45th consecutive year of dividend growth.

Reflecting on the shareholder disupte, she added: "It certainly cast the spotlight on the company for a while - but has helped focus minds. I think this is reflected in our first-half results." more

German forest boy's first words: 'I'm all alone in the world, please help me' -- who is he?

An english-speaking boy who claims he lived rough for five years in a German forest walked in off the street and told staff at Berlin's City Hall: "I'm all alone in the world, I don't know who I am. Please help me."

Two weeks after his arrival in capital, German police are still baffled as to the true identity of the teenager, who is now being cared for by social services, and are preparing to launch a public appeal.

But it emerged Monday that after telling his incredible story to City Hall staff he was shown the door and instructed how to reach a youth support centre using public transport.

A civil servant who was the first to speak at length with the boy on his arrival at the administrative centre has told the Daily Telegraph that he was a "normal looking teenager" but said it quickly emerged that he had an extraordinary story to tell.

"He didn't look like at all like a vagrant – he didn't smell, he was clean, his clothes were clean but he simply didn't know anything about who he was," said the female office worker who was called to front desk at the Rathaus by security guards because she speaks English.

Carrying a rucksack and sleeping bag, the teenager called Ray walked through the doors at the impressive red brick building near Alexanderplatz in the centre of Berlin around 4pm on Monday 5 September. more

Greece: Is this the end game? Money is about to run out, and no more seems to be coming

Greece is quickly running out of the cash it needs to keep the lights on as the latest lifeline from the rest of Europe remains just out of reach.

Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek finance minister, discussed his country's plight with officials from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank during a conference call Monday.

In a statement, the Greek finance ministry said talks were "productive and substantive." Discussions are set to resume Tuesday with technical experts expected to provide additional details on certain unspecified issues.

A source told CNN that the officials were close to a deal but needed to reach a final agreement on remaining sticking points.

The call came on the same day that representatives from that so-called troika were originally scheduled to return to Athens to review Greece's progress on reforms needed to obtain its latest installment of emergency funding.

After abruptly leaving the country earlier this month, officials from the troika delayed a decision on whether to pay out the next portion of Greece's loan until October. more

A Greek tragedy: How the debt crisis spread like a virus in 'Contagion'

A look at the plot of the No. 1 film at the box office, “Contagion,” shows a striking thematic resemblance to the debt crisis in Greece.

“’Contagion’ follows the rapid progression of a virus that kills within days. As the epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself.” That’s what the film’s website says.

So how exactly does that relate to Greece, you ask?

In a theoretical movie that followed the "Contagion" effect in Greece, the plot would follow the rapid progression of debt that is crippling economies. As the debt drives up interest rates and sends financial markets plunging, the worldwide political and financial communities race to find the public money to stabilize markets and control the financial panic that spreads faster than the debt itself.

More than a year ago, Michael Shulman, writing on Time.com, told how this script played out in the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and how Greece might be the latest sequel.

That is in part because the crisis in Europe has turned into an epidemic of sorts as it spreads from country to country. It's left the European Union struggling and the eurozone's financial health hanging in the balance, and it threatens prospects for a U.S. recovery if the global economy is in shambles. Which is part of the reason that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner huddled with European finance ministers in search of a way out of the debt crisis. more

Bank woes could stymie France's recovery

A French banking system shaken by a crisis of confidence and hobbled by the need to deleverage and write down assets could choke off credit to consumers and businesses and shatter France's fragile recovery.

France's economy was already stuttering, with zero growth in the second quarter, before alarm over its banks' exposure to Greece and their reliance on short-term wholesale funding battered banking sector share prices and jolted global markets.

Buffeted by a Moody's downgrade of Societe General and Credit Agricole, and the increasing unwillingness of U.S. money market funds to lend dollars to fund their short-term operations, France's banking sector now seems set for a period of retrenchment.

While an agreement among central banks last week to offer three-month U.S. dollar loans to commercial banks staved off fears of Europe's money markets freezing, as they did during the 2008 credit crunch, Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer warned that French banks would have to shrink their balance sheets to adjust to tougher funding conditions. more

Greece braces for more austerity to avert default

Greece on Sunday pledged to take the tough decisions needed to avoid default but announced no new austerity measures to secure international bailout funds next month.

Prime Minister George Papandreou canceled a visit to the United States to chair a cabinet meeting on Sunday, a day before European Union and International Monetary Fund inspectors hold a conference call with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos to hear how Greece will plug this year's budget shortfall.

Venizelos told reporters after the meeting Greece needed to fully meet 2011 and 2012 budget targets, stop generating debt and start producing surpluses next year, but did not outline how these would be achieved.

"If we want to avoid default, to stabilize the situation, to remain in the euro zone ... we must take big strategic decisions," he said. more

Mother of slain cop says execution of Troy Davis will give her peace -- but what if it's the wrong man?



As crowds marched through Atlanta in support of a death row inmate, the slain Savannah police officer's mother said Saturday she remains convinced of Troy Davis' guilt.

"I will never have closure," said Anneliese MacPhail. "But I may have some peace when he is executed."

Her son, Mark MacPhail, was gunned down in a 1989 shooting that Davis was convicted for. The former Army Ranger left behind his wife and two then-young children.

The case has drawn international attention for what Davis' advocates say is a conviction based on flimsy evidence.

They include his sister Kimberly Davis, who told CNN on Saturday that she is "emotionally prepared" for an execution but does not think it is warranted.

"My brother, he is innocent," she said. "(MacPhail's family) won't have closure if an innocent man is executed."

Since his 1991 conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing.

Yet the slain officer's mother insists she "never had any doubts." more

Officials Race to Avert Palestinian Statehood Vote Amid Warnings of Renewed Violence

The looming showdown at the United Nations this week over Palestinian statehood could be either a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to restart peace talks or the spark that inflames a new wave of violence in the region, officials said Sunday.

U.S. and European officials are scrambling to avoid or delay the vote. Senior diplomatic figures were holding a round of talks Sunday to at least minimize the fallout from the Palestinians' push to seek recognition at the U.N.

So far, Palestinians are not backing down. A top Palestinian envoy said in an interview Sunday that the delegation will move forward unless they're presented with a "viable alternative."

Absent a compromise, analysts and officials warn that the statehood push will have dire consequences for all parties. The United States would be compelled to veto the proposal in the Security Council, potentially harming U.S. credibility in the Arab world. Though the bid is unlikely to pass the Security Council, a separate affirmative vote in the General Assembly would give the Palestinians "observer" state status and access to the International Criminal Court, as a vehicle to pursue charges against Israel. The chances for renewed peace talks could further erode. more

British Airways faces €50m bill for carbon emissions: Here comes the "Global Warming" tax

British Airways faces a bill of nearly €50m, the highest of any airline, when carriers around the world are brought into the European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme next year, a new study estimates.

But BA and other large European carriers will face a relatively smaller burden than their rivals in the US and China, because they should get an average of 81 per cent of the carbon allowances needed under the scheme for free. The Chinese and American carriers will only get an average of up to 64 per cent, says the report by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, the energy research firm.

The airline industry’s total bill is expected to be €1.1bn ($1.5bn) at today’s carbon prices, the study says. The whole sector may only make a $4bn profit this year, the International Air Transport Association has forecast.

“Compared to airlines’ annual fuel bills, these additional costs are minor, but compared to profits they are considerable,” said Andreas Arvanitakis, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon associate director. “The question is how much of the cost can be passed to passengers and cargo clients.”

The findings come amid a fierce row over the EU’s move to make any airline flying into and within the bloc pay for pollution. more

US Retiree Benefits for the Military Could Face Cuts

As Washington looks to squeeze savings from once-sacrosanct entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, another big social welfare system is growing as rapidly, but with far less scrutiny: the health and pension benefits of military retirees.

Military pensions and health care for active and retired troops now cost the government about $100 billion a year, representing an expanding portion of both the Pentagon budget — about $700 billion a year, including war costs — and the national debt, which together finance the programs.

Making even incremental reductions to military benefits is typically a doomed political venture, given the public’s broad support for helping troops, the political potency of veterans groups and the fact that significant savings take years to appear.

But the intense push in Congress this year to reduce the debt and the possibility that the Pentagon might have to begin trimming core programs like weapons procurement, research, training and construction have suddenly made retiree benefits vulnerable, military officials and experts say.

And if Congress fails to adopt the deficit-reduction recommendations of a bipartisan joint Congressional committee this fall, the Defense Department will be required under debt ceiling legislation passed in August to find about $900 billion in savings over the coming decade. Cuts that deep will almost certainly entail reducing personnel benefits for active and retired troops, Pentagon officials and analysts say.

“We’ve got to put everything on the table,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said recently on PBS, acknowledging that he was looking at proposals to rein in pension costs. more

Obama announces debt plan built on taxes on rich to the tune of $1,500,000,000,000

In a blunt rejoinder to congressional Republicans, President Barack Obama called for $1.5 trillion in new taxes Monday, part of a total 10-year deficit reduction package totaling more than $3 trillion. "We can't just cut our way out of this hole," the president said.

The president's proposal aims to reduce spending in mandatory benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, by $580 billion and counts savings of $1 trillion over 10 years from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama's recommendation to a joint congressional committee served as a sharp counterpoint to Republican lawmakers, who have insisted that tax increases should play no part in taming the nation's escalating national debt. The new taxes would predominantly hit wealthy Americans, ending their Bush-era tax cuts and limiting their deductions.

"It's only right we ask everyone to pay their fair share," Obama said.

Responding to a complaint from Republicans about his proposed tax on the wealthy, Obama added: "This is not class warfare. It's math." source

Tampon left schoolgirl, 15, in coma with toxic shock -- Are we poisoning ourselves with our creations?

A teenage girl almost died in a million-to-one case of blood poisoning caused by her tampon.

Paige Roffey, 15, collapsed at her home in Rayleigh, Essex with toxic shock syndrome after using a tampon for just four hours.

She was initially sent home from hospital by doctors who thought she had a virus. But Paige was then rushed back to Southend Hospital after collapsing in the shower.

Paige's mother Sarah, 39, said doctors warned her that Paige was in a critical condition and put her into a coma for two days.

She said: 'I sat beside my daughter's bed and planned her funeral. I didn't think she would make it.'

Thankfully, Paige's condition improved and she was able to leave hospital after 10 days. Now both mother and daughter are keen to highlight the potential dangers of tampons.

Toxic shock syndrome is an extremely rare but severe illness caused by bacterial toxins. It affects as few as 20 people a year and is caused by a trauma such as a burn or an insect bite. Only around two cases a year have a possible tampon link.

Most warnings about the dangers of TSS risk are about leaving tampons in place for too long,

But experts say the condition can develop in some young women after just a few hours if they don't have enough antibodies to fight any infection they cause. more

3.1 Magnitude Earthquake GREECE - 20th Sept 2011

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake has struck Greece at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:02:48 UTC Tuesday 20th September 2011.
The epicenter was 1 km (0 miles) Southeast of Ayios Vasilios, Greece
No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time.

Dwarf galaxies suggest dark matter theory may be wrong - 16th Sept 2011

Scientists' predictions about the mysterious dark matter purported to make up most of the mass of the Universe may have to be revised.

Research on dwarf galaxies suggests they cannot form in the way they do if dark matter exists in the form that the most common model requires it to.

That may mean that the Large Hadron Collider will not be able to spot it.

Leading cosmologist Carlos Frenk spoke of the "disturbing" developments at the British Science Festival in Bradford.

The current theory holds that around 4% of the Universe is made up of normal matter - the stuff of stars, planets and people - and around 21% of it is dark matter.

The remainder is made up of what is known as dark energy, an even less understood hypothetical component of the Universe that would explain its ever-increasing expansion.

Scientists' best ideas for the formation and structure of the Universe form what is called the "cosmological standard model", or lambda-CDM - which predicts elementary particles in the form of cold dark matter (CDM).

These CDM particles are believed to have formed very early in the Universe's history, around one millionth of a second after the Big Bang, and they are "cold" in the sense that they are not hypothesised to be particularly fast-moving.

The existence of the particles has not yet been proven, as they are extremely difficult to detect - they cannot be "seen" in the traditional sense, and if they exist, they interact only very rarely with the matter we know. Read More

Robert Raecke "Silver skydiver", 60, detached chute at 8,000ft to kill himself after leaving a suicide note - 20th Sept 2011

Renowned: Robert Raecke carries an American Flag with him while jumping from an aeroplane at the Schenectady Airshow in 2001.

A veteran skydiver killed himself by shedding his parachute mid-air and freefalling 8,000 to his death.

Horrified bystanders watched as Robert Raecke, 60, hurtled to the ground on Sunday afternoon, after unbuckling his parachute above a New York field.

He had left a suicide note, police said, although the reason for him wanting to kill himself remains unclear.

His body was found in a New York field in the Saratoga County town of Northumberland, 35 miles north of Albany.

Mr Raecke, who was known as SeƱor, had skydived more than 9,000 times before and was an instructor at Saratoga Skydiving Adventures in Northumberland.

Saratoga County Sheriff's Investigator Rick Capasso said an investigation by the sheriff’s department concluded the death was a suicide. Read More

Strong winds drive blazes started by arsonists in the Blue Mountains - , Sydney, Australia - 20th Sept 2011

BUSHFIRES started by arsonists in the Blue Mountains will take days to extinguish after strong winds yesterday brought down power lines and fanned dozens of blazes across NSW.

Two blazes threatened homes in the Blue Mountains and several grass fires spread in parts of western Sydney.

Firefighters also worked to contain larger blazes in the Hunter and the state's central west. Residents in parts of the Hunter, as well as on Sydney's north shore and northern beaches, were left without power for several hours due to high winds.

Police said arson was suspected in Leura and Katoomba, with extra officers called to search for culprits.

Wind gusts of up to 80km/h hampered efforts to extinguish the main blaze, which dropped off cliffs into the Jamison Valley.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the actions of arsonists were "disgraceful" and "sickening". Read More

'Bizarre' earthquake trial has scientists worried - 20th Sept 2011

Seismologists around the world watch trial of officials who have been charged with manslaughter for not warning the public aggressively enough of an earthquake that killed more than 300 people.

Six Italian scientists and one government official are set to go to trial today in Italy on charges of manslaughter for not warning the public aggressively enough of an impending earthquake that killed more than 300 people in 2009.

While such a trial is unlikely on U.S. soil, experts say, American geologists and seismologists are watching closely, surprised at a legal system that would attempt to criminalize something as uncertain as earthquake prediction.
"Our ability to predict earthquake hazards is, frankly, lousy," said Seth Stein, a professor of Earth sciences at Northwestern University in Illinois. "Criminalizing something would only make sense if we really knew how to do this and someone did it wrong."
Henry Pollack, a professor of geology at the University of Michigan, echoed Stein's concerns.
"The whole thing seems bizarre to me," Pollack told LiveScience. Read More

Elephants die as poachers poison Zimbabwe waterholes - 20th Sept 2011

Poachers in Zimbabwe have poisoned waterholes in five game reserves to kill animals, say wildlife officials.

Nine elephants were found dead with their tusks removed from the carcasses.

Five lions also died but officials said their skins were not taken, suggesting they were accidental victims of the poisoning.

The incidents are the first of their type on record and tests are being carried out to determine the nature of the chemicals used.

A spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Caroline Washaya Moyo, said two buffalo were also killed, as were vultures that had eaten the dead animals.

Ms Washaya Moyo said the parks authority had deployed teams in the affected game reserves to investigate the poisoning.

Zimbabwe has been battling to curb poaching, which has mainly targeted rhinoceros and elephants for their horns and tusks.

Ten rhinos have been killed in Zimbabwe by poachers so far this year.

The crime is driven by booming demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is believed to have medicinal properties, despite ample scientific evidence to the contrary.

Conservationists have warned that rhino populations are facing their worst poaching crisis for decades, especially in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

In May, authorities in Kenya seized more than one tonne of ivory at Nairobi's international airport.

About 115 elephant tusks were found inside metal containers by sniffer dogs. Source

Mysterious Fish Kill Arkansas River - 20th Sept 2011

Little Rock -The view of the Arkansas River enjoyed by bicyclists and walkers using the new Two Rivers Bridge is currently being marred by hundreds of dead fish.

Investigators with both the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology are looking into what caused the death of the fish...which appear to be white bass or freshwater drum fish.

Game and Fish will be working to count the dead fish Tuesday afternoon. They are easily seen at the base of both sides of the pedestrian bridge.

A PC&E spokesperson says it appears all of the dead fish belong to the same species, which limits but does not eliminate the possibility that pollution or toxins are to blame for the kill.

So far PH levels and dissolved oxygen levels in the water have tested at normal levels.

We will have more information on this developing story on our evening newscasts. Source

Global debt crisis: Waiting for Superman

Markets continued their now familiar nosedive Tuesday on news that Italy, the eurozone's third largest economy, was downgraded by credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

The second paragraph of S&P’s report on the downgrade speaks volumes about the debt-laden tumult spreading across developed economies:

“In our view, Italy's economic growth prospects are weakening and we expect that Italy's fragile governing coalition and policy differences within parliament will continue to limit the government's ability to respond decisively to domestic and external macroeconomic challenges.”

It’s a script torn from the same page as the U.S. – the gold standard of debt worthiness – when it watched its debt rating reduced by S&P in August , as partisan brinkmanship put Washington near the edge of defaulting on its credit card bill.

The Greek debt drama will turn two years old this December, and still the European Monetary Union appears to lack the leadership to get chart a clear solution out of the debt contagion that has hit Ireland, Portugal, Spain and now Italy.

Meanwhile in Japan, the world’s third largest economy just elected its sixth prime minister in five years. more

1.3 million urged to flee as typhoon Roke bears down on Japan

About 80,000 residents have been ordered to flee and more than 1 million people were urged to evacuate Nagoya, a city in central Japan, Tuesday as a typhoon was expected to hit the area.

Despite the evacuation warnings, a little more than 60 people had evacuated the city by Tuesday afternoon, the city government said. More were expected to leave in the evening as the storm came closer.

Typhoon Roke was packing winds of 185 kph (115 mph) and was predicted to make landfall with heavy rain some time Wednesday, said CNN meteorologist Jennifer Delgado.

The storm was expected to hit south of Osaka and could drench some areas with about 250 mm (10 inches) of rain, Delgado said.

Two areas in the Nagoya were ordered to evacuate because of the threat of flooding from the Shonai River, officials said. source

Baby deaths spark fears over antidepressants: Effexor labelled as culprit

Two B.C. families whose infants died inexplicably are sounding the alarm about mothers taking antidepressants while pregnant.

Both mothers took Effexor, which Health Canada has warned can have adverse effects on babies.

“I took the pills. I didn’t question. I trusted my doctor,” said Christiane Shultz, whose son Matthew died shortly after his birth in Kamloops in 2009.

An autopsy did not determine a cause of death. However, it listed the antidepressant drug taken by his mother as a contributing factor.

“Since there was venlafaxine [Effexor] exposure, this is a consideration as a contributor to death,” the report said.

Matthew’s father Amery Shultz said his son was blue at birth and stopped breathing in his arms.

“I had rocked him to sleep and I made the assumption he was still breathing. That was not the case,” Shultz said. “Imagine … watching your child die before your eyes, very traumatically. We still relive it every day.” more

Ralphs, Albertsons Supermarkets Could Close if Grocery Workers Strike: All 62,000 of them

The "Big Three" Southern California grocery chains are bracing for a strike and possible shut down after the union representing grocery workers canceled their contract with the stores.

About 62,000 workers in the United Food and Commercial Workers union at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons could walk off the job as soon as Sunday night.

The union's qualms are health-care centric.

The union is asking for the companies to shoulder more of the costs.

In the current offer from the companies, workers would have to pay $9 a week for solo coverage and $23 per week for a family, union and company officials told the Los Angeles Times.

The supermarket chains say that these measures are needed to help offset rising healthcare costs. more

The Economic Recovery Failed Us: Food Shortages, High Unemployment Rates, 43.6 Million On Food Stamps

Food shortages, unemployment, 43 million on food stamps… and they say we are in a recovery period? People, it is just beginning.

In, Now is the Time to Redouble Your Families Preparedness Efforts an article written for SHTF Plan, I urged readers to begin preparing for harder times. Despite, sneers and snickers by disbelieving friends and family members, many of us continue to press on with our preparedness efforts. We see the signs and know that hard times are on the horizon.

In the above mentioned article, economic signs of a failing economy were discussed, and instead of acceptance of the problem at hand, many citizens turned a blind eye because they did not want to end their complacent existence.

Our terminally ill economy is just another symptom of the much larger problem that looms in the distance. We have all heard whispers of a global food crisis. In fact, in the past 3 months food prices such as wheat, sugar, and coffee have all increased exponentially due to failed crop seasons and the monetary stimulus being pumped into the economy by the Federal Reserve. These symptoms that have reared their ugly heads are the beginning of the end – the end of the carefree American existence and the birth (and reality) of harder times…

You must begin preparing for your family’s future. Investing in hard assets such as sugar, flour, silver will sustain a family in times when they may need it the most. Start researching to understand the basic premise of preparing for disasters. Most American households are feeling the effects of the Great Recession… ahem Depression. A large percentage of households are already living below poverty line, and more are to follow… more

Lawless America: 20 Examples Of Desperate People Doing Desperate Things

All over America today, desperate people are doing desperate things. As the economy continues to crumble, the American people are starting to become very frustrated. Millions have lost their homes and millions have lost their jobs. As hopelessness and despair rise, an increasing number of Americans are turning to crime or are lashing out in unpredictable ways. Many parts of America are rapidly turning into lawless hellholes. In some of the areas that have been the hardest hit by the declining economy, police forces are being severely cut back and desperate criminals are being given a lot of freedom to roam. In fact, in some major cities (such as Oakland, California), the police have announced that there are certain types of crime that they will not even respond to any more. For a couple of decades, crime had been steadily declining in the United States, but now we are seeing very disturbing reports from all over the nation of desperate people doing desperate things as they scramble to survive or as they vent their frustrations. If the examples that you are about to read are any indication, then America is headed down a very dark path.

Today, there are a whole lot of young people that feel as though all hope is gone. Less than 30 percent of all teens had a job this summer. Only 14 percent of Americans that are 28 or 29 years old are optimistic about their financial futures.

As Gerald Celente always says, when people lose everything that they have, they tend to lose it.

The very fabric of American society is starting to come apart, and it is frightening to even think about what is going to happen if the economy gets even worse. more

Would Obama Retaliate against a Nuclear Attack?

What if a Muslim country, such as Iran, launched a nuclear attack against us, or if agents aligned with Pakistan using dirty bombs were to attack America? Would Barack Hussein Obama retaliate with nuclear force, as has been our stated policy since the 1950s? Would he even unleash a barrage of non-nuclear shock and awe that would level those countries so that they'd be incapable of striking a second time?

When queried in Japan in November 2009, Mr. Obama declined to defend President Harry Truman's nuclear attack on Hiroshima, despite it having saved hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who would have otherwise died trying to defeat the recalcitrant Japanese. Many on the left and in academia have gone so far as to characterize it as a display of American racism, questioning if we would have done so had the victims been British. They ignore the efficacy of how that one-time use of a nuclear weapon spared this country from ever being a victim of nuclear attack.

This is a question the president needs to be asked, given how he is a proponent of a doctrine labeled Responsibility to Protect, "R2P." The question is, though, what is Mr. Obama's conceptual understanding of the term "responsibility" and how will it influence the manner in which he wages war? more

U.S. census highlights financial toll recession has claimed

The American dream has given way to a rude awakening.

The financial crisis and recession have eroded the wealth and hopes of the U.S. middle class and swelled the ranks of the impoverished, leaving a legacy of declining income and high unemployment.

Data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the first to capture the post-recession year of 2010, show a middle class laid low by the slump. Median income, adjusted for inflation, fell last year to $49,445 (U.S.). That marks a drop of 2.3 per cent from 2009 and more than 7 per cent from the 1999 peak of $53,252.

The report also showed one in six Americans living below the poverty line, or a record 46.2 million people, and a growing number of “doubled up” households, where those with the bleakest of outlooks have to band together to make ends meet.

The statistics paint a picture of post-recession United States facing a deep climb back from the persistently high unemployment and underemployment that have been hallmarks of the slow and halting recovery. With projections for economic growth slowing, companies are sitting on cash instead of hiring, and the unemployment rate remains at more than 9 per cent. That means many Americans will struggle to regain the ground they’ve lost, and without wage growth, they will have less to spend at a time when spending would provide a badly-needed boost to the economy. more

Maxine Waters is Right: Obama’s Jobs Plan Stinks

Of California’s 12.1 percent unemployed, not many of them are teachers. Teachers here, thanks to their powerful public employee union, are doing pretty good, pulling down well above average wages and excessive pension rights that taxpayers really cannot afford, which contribute mightily to our state government’s perpetual debt crisis, itself a huge drag on the economy in general. Yet of the unemployed in California, almost 35% are young people in the recent high school graduate age category who are without work. Of those, about half of young black males are unemployed in California – three years into Barrack Obama’s presidency. Over 21% of black Californians in general are unemployed. Where is their hope in Obama’s plan for a job? Well, they have very little hope under Obama.

The Obama national jobs plan outlined this week is pretty simple: hire more teachers. But of course unemployed young black men in California don’t have the college education to qualify for the necessary teaching credential. Oh, and Obama’s plan calls for continuing to pour more concrete in government road projects. However, unemployed young black men, being new to the workforce, don’t have the skills to get admitted into the construction trade unions that might benefit from more stimulus spending on road construction, let alone the seniority in the union to actually get hired to work on a project. Obama’s plan for small business is to offer more loan programs through the Small Business Administration. However, what small businesses need is tax relief incentives to do more hiring, not bureaucratic loan programs that take weeks to apply forandcomplete the application forms and even then are impossible to meet the qualification regulations. Not much hope there for any employment boost, including for black and Hispanic youth, where the unemployment problem is worst. more

Saudi Arabia warns off US on Palestinian veto

A FORMER head of Saudi Arabian intelligence and ex-ambassador to Washington, Turki al-Faisal, has warned that an American veto of Palestinian membership of the United Nations would end the ''special relationship'' between the two countries, and make the US ''toxic'' in the Arab world.

The warning comes as Washington is scrambling to avoid a scenario where it alone casts a veto in the UN Security Council against the Palestinian bid for recognition of statehood, which is expected to be formally requested next week.

The US is putting considerable pressure on the Palestinians not to submit the request, and on Britain - the only other permanent member of the Security Council that has not publicly supported the Palestinian request - to also exercise its veto if necessary.
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Mr Faisal says in an article in The New York Times that the US will jeopardise its close ties with Saudi Arabia and further undermine its position in a changing Arab world if it again sides with Israel. more

Business Regulation: When is Enough, Enough?

Tonight Regulation Nation week continues. It's our look at how the regulatory culture of this country is impacting businesses - and consumers.

And it turns out the public is growing more and more frustrated with the red tape! A survey conducted by the polling firm The Tarrance Group was given to the non-partisan organization Public Notice. It showed three-quarters of American voters believe there are too many regulations coming from Washington.

Not surprisingly the survey shows nearly all Republicans feel that way... but also more than half of Democrats are complaining about overregulation.

What has them the most concerned is the impact all of these new rules will have on jobs, which of course is the number-one issue for Americans and lawmakers.

Nearly half of those polled say increased regulations will lead to further job losses, and seven in ten feel they will force American businesses to send more jobs overseas.

While the impact on businesses is worrisome, consumers are not unscathed by the growing number of regulations. According to the survey, three-quarters believe every time the government imposes another rule, prices for American shoppers go up, whether its fuel, food, etc. more

In face of Iran threat, Saudi Arabia mulls nuclear cooperation with Pakistan

For a former high-level official in Israel's security services, the news this week was not upsetting - that Iran on its own had produced new, advanced nuclear centrifuges.

According to a report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has begun to install the centrifuges in its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. But the high-level source noted that development and production of the new centrifuges began more than seven years ago. That does not speak of a great technological capability on Iran's part.

Israeli intelligence, like its American counterpart, views 2014 or 2015 as the date when Iran will be able to build nuclear weapons, says the source - if it wants to and no one blocks it. In Saudi Arabia, in contrast, they are a bit more disturbed by the developments in Iran. An American Department of Energy delegation visited Riyad and met with Dr. Hashim Yamani, who heads the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. The talks followed a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries that was signed in August 2008. more

US behind massive Indian uprising?

A decade of close ties with the US is now showing its side effects in Delhi. Kissnger said it best when he cliamed that “it was dangerous for countries to be America’s enemies, but even more dangerous for countries to be America’s friend.” This is certainly true for Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Indian National Congress politicians blamed the ‘foreign hand’-a euphemism for the USA.the INC after the party had dubbed the JP movement as a handiwork of external forces.

Leaders of the Congress hinted at a US hand behind Anna Hazare-led protests. The INC feared a hidden hand in the destabilizing the country. The US media was calling it India’s “Arab Uprising”. The politicians were asking why had the US spoken in favor of an agitation in the country for the first time since Independence. It urged the Indian government to probe the angle of the hidden hand trying to destabilize the country.

Analysts were surprised that the INC was propounding the conspiracy theory. What was amazing was that the accusatory finger at Washington was made by AICC spokesman Rashid Alvi. The charge was drawn PM Singh’s statement in Parliament where he said India should not fall prey to the forces envious of country’s rise.

PM Singh’s hint was taken up by the Congress spokesperson who said the sophisticated nature of the orchestrated campaign called for urgent attention to the hidden hand while recalling in the same breath the surprise statement from the US State Department urging the Indian government to respect democratic protests. more

Ron Paul: Time to stop spending trillions on war (Hear, hear)

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said Monday that America could save trillions of dollars if the country cut funding from wars - "and all the nonsense that we do around the world."

The Texas Representative argued in Monday's Republican presidential debate that, rather than eliminating programs like Social Security and prescription drug benefits for seniors, America could reduce trillions' worth of spending in conflicts abroad .

"I agree that Social Security is broke. We spent all the money and it's on its last legs unless we do something," Paul said, when asked if he thought Social Security was a "Ponzi scheme" - a phrase his GOP contender and fellow Texan Rick Perry has used to describe the entitlement program. more

More Waste: US Government Spends $4 Million to House 12 Homeless

In yet another display of government inefficiency, government officials in Bethesda, Maryland, located just outside of Washington, D.C., have decided to spend $4 million to house 12 homeless people for a single year. That averages out to approximately $330,000 per person, a figure that grows even more absurd when one observes that the average price of a single family home in the United States is just over $170,000.

The story was first reported by the Washington Examiner:

Owned and operated by Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission, the "permanent supportive housing" facility will be at 4913 Hampden Lane — between Woodmont Avenue and Arlington Road in downtown Bethesda — and will house six studio and six one-bedroom apartments.

The project received $1 million in federal stimulus money, as well as $944,829 from the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs and $2.1 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the state.

The home contains a community room, fitness center, computer center, laundry facility, outdoor enclosed courtyard, and storage space for each of the new tenants. A counselor will be available during the weekdays to work with the residents, and seminars and workshops will be hosted to help them find and maintain jobs. more

Greece Has 98% Chance of Default on Euro-Region Sovereign Woes

Greece has a 98 percent chance of defaulting on its debt in the next five years as Prime Minister George Papandreou fails to reassure investors his country can survive the euro-region crisis.

“Everyone’s pricing in a pretty near-term default and I think it’ll be a hard event,” said Peter Tchir, founder of hedge fund TF Market Advisors in New York. “Clearly this austerity plan is not working.”

It costs a record $5.8 million upfront and $100,000 annually to insure $10 million of Greece’s debt for five years using credit-default swaps, up from $5.5 million in advance on Sept. 9, according to CMA. Greek bonds plunged, sending the 10- year yield to 25 percent for the first time.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she won’t let Greece go into “uncontrolled insolvency” as politicians try to limit contagion to other euro members. Papandreou’s pledge to adhere to deficit targets that are conditions of the European Union and International Monetary Fund’s bailout were undermined by data showing his country’s budget gap widened 22 percent in the first eight months of the year. more