Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nasa Satellite 'To Hit Earth Within Hours' - 23rd Sept 2011

A defunct six-ton satellite is hurtling towards earth and is expected to crash within the next 24 hours, but experts have no idea where it will land.

The Nasa Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (Uars) could shower debris anywhere over the six inhabited continents - from as far north as Alaska to the bottom tip of South America.

Satellites as large as Uars re-enter Earth's atmosphere about once a year and Nasa said there have been no reports of any deaths or injuries to people from falling debris.

But space expert Doug Millard at London's Science Museum thinks this one is worth watching.

He said: "This is one of the largest satellites up there.

"It's about the size of a double-decker bus. Most satellites when they come down, they are smaller, they burn up and no one notices. Because of the size it's a little more significant."

Nasa has said the odds of a piece of the Uars debris striking a person is about one in 3,200.

The agency insists most of the 20-year-old probe will burn up in the atmosphere and that the debris will most likely fall into an ocean or land in an uninhabited region of Earth.

The probe is being tracked by radar stations and experts around the world. Read More

6.9 Magnitude Earthquake SIKKIM, INDIA death toll hits 106 as Rescuers reach remote village

Rescuers on Thursday finally reached some of the villages in India's remote northeast that were cut off by a powerful earthquake in the Himalayan region last weekend, as the death toll in the disaster climbed past 100.

Rescue efforts following Sunday's magnitude-6.9 quake, which also struck parts of Tibet and Nepal, were slow-going because heavy rains kept helicopters grounded and mudslides triggered by the disaster blocked roads leading into remote, mountainous terrain.

As the weather improved Thursday, with no rain, helicopters were able to ferry relief workers to some inaccessible areas for the first time, said R. Sahu, an Indian air force spokesman. Other workers moved forward on the ground, using heavy machinery and dynamite to clear roads.

Sahu said nine villages with a combined population of nearly 1,000 were still cut off, but that aircraft had been able to drop rice and other supplies to stranded residents.

India's Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram on Thursday visited some of the hardest-hit areas and said the army assured him that by Friday at the latest they would be able to access the nine villages by road.

Two injured people from Chungthang, one of the worst-hit villages, were taken by helicopter to a hospital, Sahu said.

Nearly 200 homes were damaged in Chungthang, which has a population of nearly 2,000 people. Fearing aftersLinkhocks, most residents, especially women and children, have been spending the nights in a Sikh shrine that also provides them with food.

Police said seven bodies were found in the Mangan area close to the epicenter of the quake. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake GUERRERO, MEXICO - 23rd Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Guerrero, Mexico at a depth of 42.1 km (26.2 miles), the quake hit at 02:59:23 UTC Friday 23rd September 2011.
The epicenter was 40 km (24 miles) North of Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

6.4 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 22nd Sept 2011

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 23:07:03 UTC Thursday 22nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 388 km (241 miles) NNW of Neiafu, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO - 22nd Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.54 earthquake has struck offshore Chiapas, Mexico at a depth of 57.9 km (36 miles), the quake hit at 22:50:02 UTC Thursday 22nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 124 km (77 miles) SSW of Tonala, Chiapas, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA - 22nd Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Kamchatka, Russia at a depth of 64.4 km (40 miles), the quake hit at 22:43:12 UTC Thursday 22nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 55 km (34 miles) Southeast of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 22nd Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 13.8 km (8.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:59:18 UTC Thursday 22nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 62 km (38 miles) Northeast of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake PAKISTAN - 22nd Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Pakistan at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 22:28:14 UTC Thursday 22nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 117 km (73 miles) WSW of Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan
No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

26 Incoming Objects Coming from Space? Is Comet Elenin merely a distraction?

Fukushima Workers Expose Nightmare Working Conditions

America Riots! Complete Media Blackout on Wall Street?

Federal Reserve takes new tack to avoid U.S. economic slump

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday warned of significant risks to the already weak U.S. economy and launched a new plan to lower long-term borrowing costs and bolster the battered housing market.

The U.S. central bank said it would sell $400 billion (257 billion pounds) of short-term Treasury bonds to buy the same amount of longer-term U.S. government debt, its latest attempt to kickstart growth that slowed to a crawl over the first half of the year.

Apparently spooked by the central bank's dismal outlook for the economy, U.S. stocks sold off. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed down nearly 3 percent.

Prices for long-term government debt rose, pushing yields lower -- a sign the measures were more aggressive than some investors had expected. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note dropped as low as 1.856 percent, the lowest in more than 60 years.

"Recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labour market conditions, and the unemployment rate remains elevated," the Fed said in a statement after a two-day meeting. "There are significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets." more

Officers Manuel Ramos, Jay Cicinelli charged with murder, manslaughter in death of homeless man

Two Fullerton police officers have been criminally charged in the violent confrontation that left a homeless man dead, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas announced Wednesday.

Officer Manuel Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man. Officer Jay Cicinelli has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

Rackauckas said the department reviewed 151 witness statements, videos of the beating, medical reports and police statements.

The district attorney's office had been awaiting the coroner's determination on the cause of death before deciding whether to file charges.

Officers approached Kelly Thomas on July 5 at the bus depot in downtown Fullerton while responding to a report of someone trying to break into cars. According to witness accounts, Thomas ran when officers attempted to search his bag. Exactly what happened next is unclear, but witnesses said they saw multiple officers hitting Kelly and shooting him with a Taser while he was on the ground. more

Greece sharpens austerity; IMF warns on banks

Greece adopted yet more austerity measures on Wednesday to secure a bailout instalment crucial to avoid running out of money next month, as the IMF warned that Europe's sovereign debt crisis risks tearing a giant hole in banks' capital.

The Greek cabinet agreed to cut high pensions by 20 percent, put 30,000 civil servants in a "labour reserve" on a road to redundancy, lower the income threshold for paying tax and extend a real estate tax, a government spokesman said.

"The measures taken today allow us to comply with the bailout plan through 2014," the spokesman, Ilias Mossialos, said.

The new package is designed to ensure Greece gets an 8 billion euro rescue loan vital to pay state salaries and bills in October. Senior European Union and International Monetary Fund officials are to arrive in Athens early next week to review progress, Mossialos said.

Greece is on the front line of the euro zone debt crisis that has engulfed Ireland and Portugal and now threatens Italy, Spain and some of Europe's biggest banks, risking plunging the West back into recession. more

France imposes first niqab fines (but of course, shirts with curse words on them and nude beaches are completely fine)

Two French Muslim women who continue to wear the full-face veil in defiance of a new law banning it in France have been issued fines by a court.

Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali were arrested wearing the niqab in public outside Meaux town hall, eastern Paris, soon after the law came in in May.

The women say they will appeal against their punishment all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

Meanwhile another woman said she would stand for president in her niqab.

Thursday's sentencing in Meaux was closely followed not just in France but right across Europe, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris.

Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland all have - or are planning - similar legislation. more

Court halts Texas execution of ex-Army recruiter Cleve Foster -- Why him and not Troy Davis?

A former Army recruiter who for the third time this year was hours away from his scheduled execution for the rape-slaying of a woman in Fort Worth nearly 10 years ago was granted yet another reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Cleve Foster, 47, was set to die Tuesday evening in Huntsville.

The high court twice earlier this year stopped Foster's scheduled lethal injection. The latest court ruling came about 2½ hours before Foster could have been taken to the Texas death chamber.

Foster was meeting with one of his lawyers in a small holding cell a few feet from the death chamber when a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman delivered the news.

"He thanked God and pointed to his attorney, saying this woman helped save his life," prison spokesman Jason Clark said.

He also said Foster repeated his insistence that he was innocent.

"I did not do this crime," Foster told him. "I know there are those out there who have hard feelings against me, but I did not do this." more

Planning changes 'will make gipsy camps easier'

Gipsies and travellers could find it easier to set up legal camps under the Government’s proposed changes to planning rules, campaigners warn.

Until now, gipsy and traveller groups tend to buy land, move in illegally and then apply for retrospective planning permission for any homes built there. However, experts say that changes to planning rules in the draft National Planning Policy Framework open a new legal route that will allow gipsies and travellers to settle on old factory sites and quarries in the green belt.

Ministers disputed the claims last night, insisting that separate guidance enhanced protection of the countryside.

Ministers are pushing through plans to reduce more than 1,000 pages of planning regulations to just 52 pages.

The framework writes into the rules a new “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

Andy Boddington, an environmental campaigner, said the change to the planning rules “opens a legal route for gipsy and traveller sites in the green belt”. more

Greece accelerates austerity cuts in return for aid

The Greek government is to impose tougher austerity measures in a move to persuade international lenders to give it more bailout funds.

A cabinet meeting on Wednesday agreed to further cuts in pensions, to extend a property tax, and to put tens of thousands of public workers on notice.

It follows two days of tough talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European authorities.

Some state pensions will be cut by up to 20%, a government official said.

The Greek cabinet met for more than six hours to discuss further austerity measures in return for an 8bn-euro (£6.9bn) tranche of aid needed to avoid default.

Athens has been in two days of negotiations with the so-called troika of the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank over the terms of its bailout.

The new measures include raising the number of civil servants to be suspended on partial pay to 30,000 by the end of this year from 20,000. more

Obama urges U.N. to stay out of Israel-Palestinian conflict

President Obama urged world leaders Wednesday morning to stay out of the conflict over Palestinian statehood as American diplomats pushed to delay a vote on the question during this week's general assembly of the United Nations.

Speaking to the full assembly, Obama argued that the two sides will never live in peace unless they work it out themselves.

"Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N. – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now," Obama said. "Ultimately, it is the Israelis and Palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them, on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem."

Obama was scheduled to meet privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately after his morning address, and then to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late in the afternoon. more

Woman Hit by Space Junk, Lives to Tell the Tale

And you thought lightning strikes were rare.

A defunct NASA satellite is set to plunge to Earth, with a 1-in-3,200 chance that someone could get hurt, according to the space agency. That has many wondering: What’s it like to get hit with a piece of space junk?

Lottie Williams -- perhaps the only person in history to ever get hit by falling space junk -- knows the answer. Back in January of 1997, she and two friends were walking through a park in Tulsa, Oklahoma around 3:30 a.m. when they saw a huge fireball streaking from the skies.

“We were stunned, in awe,” Williams told FoxNews.com. She thought she’d just witnessed a shooting star. “It was beautiful.”

Less than thirty minutes later, that awe turned to fear.

“We were still walking through the park when I felt a tapping on my shoulder,” Williams explained. With no one near her at the time, she started to run, thinking a stranger had appeared out of the shadows. Then she heard something hit the ground behind her.

“The weight was comparable to an empty soda can,” Williams told FoxNews.com. “It looked like a piece of fabric except when you tap it, it sounded metallic." Williams was sure she’d found a piece of a shooting star. more

The World's Most Powerful Laser You Can Legally Own

How cutting edge can you get?

If you've got the bucks, there's a world of awe-inspiring gadgets and goodies out there for you. From hundred thousand dollar watches to speakers that sound so good they'll make an audiophile weak in the knees, The Big Ticket is your weekly peek into the best goods gobs of money can buy.

Under review by the Guinness Book of World Records, The new S3 Krypton Series from Wicked Lasers is already being touted as the most powerful handheld laser in the world.

With 1,000 mW of power, this baby produces 86 million lux of blinding brightness. Just how bright is 86 million lux? About 8,000 times brighter than looking directly at the sun. In fact, given an astronomical range of 85 miles, the laser is powerful enough to reach space and theoretically block orbiting satellites. more

Robots gear up for the farm (and get ready to take away even more jobs)



For the past 10,000 years or so, farmers have been waking at the crack of dawn to tend their fields. Such a bleary-eyed chore could become a thing of the past thanks to robots geared up for the farm.

Among the tools getting a robotic makeover is the tractor. In recent days, a pair of research projects aimed at automating the mechanical workhorses have worked their way into the news.

The Wall Street Journal reported on a partnership between Kinze Manufacturing and Jaybridge Robotics that has produced an autonomous planter that allows a driverless tractor to sow seeds without hitting any unexpected obstacles. At harvest time, a flesh-and-bone farmer would drive the combine, but a robotic cart next to it receives the grain and, when full, heads off to a waiting truck to drop its load.

These robots would cut down on labor costs and allow farmers to get their plants sowed and harvested in a timely fashion, but some farmers are likely to keep an eye on the machines.

For example, instead of catching a few extra Z's, a farmer could program multiple machines to work at once and then keep an eye on the mechanical workforce, hands firmly grasping a cup of coffee. more

Bacteria Make Hydrogen Fuel From Water (Shh, don't tell anyone)

Most of the renewable energy sources that are under consideration involve an obvious source of energy — light, heat, or motion. But this is the second time this year there has been a paper that has focused on a less obvious source: the potential difference between fresh river water and the salty oceans it flows into. But this paper doesn’t simply use the difference to produce some electricity; instead, it adds bacteria to the process and takes out a portable fuel: hydrogen.

The process is still fundamentally electrochemical. Sea water and fresh water are placed on opposite sides of a membrane that allows ions through, but prevents the passage of water molecules. The ions will move to the fresh water to balance osmotic forces, which will create a charge difference that can be harvested for various purposes. The voltage produced in a single one of these cells is small, but the source of the power is essentially unlimited and is available 24 hours a day.

The small voltage per cell, however, makes this an impractical method of producing hydrogen by splitting water. It’s possible to reach the requisite voltages if enough of these cells are placed in series, but this requires dozens of them, and so many membranes that the cost of this sort of apparatus is prohibitive. more

U.S. Establishes New Drone Bases for African Shadow Wars

Washington is quietly setting up at least two new East African drone bases, plus one on the Arabian Peninsula, to support the expanding U.S. shadow war against Islamic militants in Somalia and Yemen. An apparently new facility has been built in Ethiopia. In the island nation of Seychelles, a defunct airfield is being reactivated. A third base is being set up in or near Yemen.

The news, first reported by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, should come as no surprise to close observers of America’s shadow war on the borders of the Indian Ocean. But the base expansion could be met with outrage by the people most directly affected, especially Africans themselves. For years, Washington has insisted that it wouldn’t build new bases in Africa.

The new drone facilities are a small step for a Pentagon and CIA already heavily invested in the Indian Ocean region. While mercenaries and U.S. allies — “proxies” — do most of the fighting in Somalia and Yemen, American warships, aircraft and special operations forces also play an important role. U.S. Reaper or Predator drones have struck militants in Yemen at least six times total in 2010 and 2011. In Somalia, drones have attacked at least twice since 2007. U.S. forces have also hit Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic group a total of six times, that we know of, using cruise missiles and Special Forces helicopters.

The American base in the tiny country of Djibouti, north of Somalia, provides food and fuel to the warships and serves as a launching pad for the unmanned vehicles and choppers. The Djibouti base has been around since 2001. U.S. Special Forces operated from a small base in Kenya beginning “a few years” prior to 2007, according to military consultant Tom Barnett. American commandos also launched attacks from an unspecified Ethiopian location in early 2007. The Seychelles drone base was open for business in 2009 and 2010 before temporarily shutting down. more

Is Mold in Winslow School Making Kids Sick?

Woman Who Slashed 2 in Face on New York Subway Sought by Cops

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



Police are searching for a woman accused of slashing two subway passengers in the face two separate times.

The incidents both happened on the 4 train in the Bronx, and the victims in both cases were young women.

Police said they did not know why the woman attacked the subway riders. The lack of an apparent motive was enough to set off concern among other young female passengers on the 4 train Wednesday.

"That's unbelievable, now everyone has to worry about riding the train," said Lauren Gunn. "That shouldn't be. Everyone should feel safe on the train."

The first slashing incident happened at about 4:20 p.m. last Tuesday, Sept. 6, on the northbound 4 train near East 170th Street, according to police.

The alleged slasher approached a 19-year-old woman sitting on the train and cut her in the face with an unknown object, causing serious physical injury.

The other incident happened at about 3:55 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, on the southbound 4 train near Mount Eden Avenue. Police said the attacker approached an 18-year-old woman sitting on the train and slashed her in the face with an unknown object, again causing serious injury. more

Feds Probe Possible Arabic-Type Markings On Southwest Jets



Federal agencies were working with Southwest Airlines on Thursday to determine who has been vandalizing their aircraft with mysterious markings.

KNX 1070 investigative reporter Charles Feldman has learned that since February, several Southwest jets have been vandalized with mysterious writings that show up on the underbelly of their 737 passenger aircraft.

The writings — which some have interpreted as being either Arabic or Arabic-type symbols — appeared to have been done with a chemical process that reveals the text once an auxiliary power unit is turned on and heats up the outside skin of the aircraft, according to Feldman.

While it remains unclear how many aircraft are involved, the trend has reportedly increased in recent weeks.

Southwest Airlines has ordered its employees not to discuss the matter with the media, Feldman said. more

GM's OnStar now spying on your car for profit even after you unsubscribe?

If you're the owner of a fairly new General Motors product, you may want to take a close look at the most recent OnStar terms and conditions. As it turns out, the company has altered the parameters under which it can legally collect GPS data on your vehicle.

Originally, the terms and conditions stated that OnStar could only collect information on your vehicle's location during a theft recovery or in the midst of sending emergency services your way. That has apparently changed. Now, OnStar says that it has the right to collect and sell personal, yet supposedly anonymous information on your vehicle, including speed, location, seat belt usage and other information.

Who would be interested in that data, you ask? Law enforcement agencies, for starters, as well as insurance companies. Perhaps the most startling news to come out of the latest OnStar terms and conditions is the fact that the company can continue to collect the information even after you disconnect the service. If you want the info to be cut off all together, you'll have to specifically shut down the vehicle's data connection. If that sounds scary, you should check out a full breakdown of the new policies here. source

Lindsay Coleman, Rick Postetter charged for letting their 4-year-old son weight drop to just 19 pounds

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



Two Berks County parents are facing felony child abuse charges after their 4-year-old son was admitted to Reading Hospital over the summer weighing just 19.5 pounds.

According to the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, 26-year-old Lindsay Coleman and 27-year-old Rick Postetter of the 300 block of West Green Street in Reading are responsible for the neglect and malnutrition of their 4-year-old son.

A pediatrician at the hospital examined the boy and told police that his condition was a result of child abuse and medical neglect, the D.A .said.

The boy is on the road to recovery in stable condition at another medical facility, officials said. more

91-year-old Albert Einsig threw urine on sidewalk to keep kids away



A 91-year-old Pennsylvania man is cited for throwing urine on the sidewalk to keep neighborhood kids off his property.

Our sister station WHP CBS 21 talked to this man, who admits to doing this. But he says he feels like he had no other choice.

Albert Einsig says he has never had problems this bad with teenagers in his neighborhood. He also says he just wants those teens to leave him alone.

"You know how long I live in this house? 63 years! 63 years!" Einsig explained.

Until recently, Einsig was happy in his East Clark Avenue home. But lately, he says he's been kept up all night by neighborhood teens hanging out on his porch. He put up sheets to stop them from peering in, but still they antagonize him.

"They bang on the door, bang bang, to get me out of bed," Einsig stated.

He says the handicap sign in front of his home is what's behind the taunting. So that's why, at his wits end, the 91-year-old dumped a bucket with urine in it on his porch and down to the sidewalk. more

One-day rehiring nets former Chicago labor leader Dennis Gannon a $158,000 city pension

Most city workers spend decades in public service to build up modest pensions. But for former labor leader Dennis Gannon, the keys to securing a public pension were one day on the city payroll and some help from the Daley administration.

And his city pension is more than modest. It's the highest of any retired union leader: $158,000. That's roughly five times greater than what the typical retired city worker receives.

In fact, his pension is so high that it exceeds federal limits and required the city pension fund to file special paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service to give it to him.

Gannon's inflated pension is a prime example of how government officials and labor leaders have manipulated city pension funds at the expense of union workers and taxpayers. Like other labor leaders, he was able to take a long leave from a city job to work for a union and then receive a city pension based on a high union salary.

But in a new twist, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found that Gannon is eligible for the lucrative pension deal only because City Hall rehired the former Streets and Sanitation Department worker for a single day in 1994, then granted him an indefinite leave of absence. more

Downtown Pittsburgh Macy’s To Downsize Space from 12 floors to 6 due to recession



First built in 1887 and expanded in 1913 as Kaufmann’s, the downtown building now known as Macy’s hasn’t changed much until now.

“What we’re doing is reorganizing the merchandise and departments in that store in a way a more concise physical space so that it’s easier to shop for the customer and easier to find merchandise,” Macy’s senior vice president Jim Sluzewski told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.

Nine floors of shopping will become six – still double the size of the suburban Macy’s.

“I don’t think it will have any effect, if they still have the same selection,” says Macy’s shopper Rachel Hawili of Hampton. “I’ll still shop here.” more

Global economy hits new 'danger zone'

News from the world economy in the past 48 hours has dealt a severe blow to hopes that a second global recession can be avoided. It has been so bad that European markets fell by around 5pc on Thursday.

The huge fall reflected the overwhelmingly gloomy mood of investors, who, bombarded with nasty data from key economies around the world, may be suffering from a sense of déjà vu.

Memories of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent global recession are fresh in the mind and a second downturn looks increasingly unavoidable.

First we had a gloomy assessment of the US economy from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, which ignited fresh fears among investors who were left underwhelmed by the central bank's latest stimulus plans.

With the Fed having already deployed most of its ammunition since the crisis erupted in 2008, investors were left to focus on the deteriorating outlook that's provoked Ben Bernanke to act.

The Fed's use of the word "significant" to describe the risks to the US economy, spooked investors. The Fed had not used the word in previous statements, which are minutely scrutinised by investors even when growth is buoyant. more

Chuck and Stephanie Fromm Threatened With $500-Per-Meeting Fines For Home Bible Study



An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.

That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple’s legal representation.

The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to PJI.

“We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word.” Stephanie Fromm told CBS2. more

Study: Most new Texas jobs went to immigrants

With both jobs and immigration likely topics of sharp debate at tonight's Republican debate here in Florida, a new report suggests that newly-arrived immigrants have filled a majority of new jobs created in Texas, home to Republican frontrunner Gov. Rick Perry.

"Of jobs created in Texas since 2007, 81 percent were taken by newly arrived immigrant workers (legal and illegal)," says the report from the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates reduced levels of both legal and illegal immigration. The report estimates that about 40 percent of the new jobs were taken by illegal immigrants, while 40 percent were taken by legal immigrants. The vast majority of both groups, legal and illegal, were not American citizens.

Native-born Americans filled just 20 percent of the new jobs in Texas, the report says, even though "the native born accounted for 69 percent of the growth in Texas' working-age population." "Thus, even though natives made up most of the growth in potential workers, most of the job growth went to immigrants," the report concludes.

The report is based on analysis of the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

The study notes that 56 percent of newly-arrived immigrants in Texas since 2007 have had a high-school degree or less. But it also notes that "More than one out three…of newly arrived immigrants who took a job had at least some college." It would be a mistake, the report concludes, "to assume that immigrants are only competing for jobs at the bottom end of the labor market." more

Michelle Obama wears $42,000 diamond cuffs around New York (while you starve)

That was no ordinary bling on the wrist of First Lady Michelle Obama at the DNC fundraiser in New York Tuesday night. Those fancy diamond cuffs were the creation of 23-year-old Katie Decker, whose namesake jewelry line has been making a serious splash since her graduation from Texas A&M two years ago.

The native Houstonian is over the moon with the fab pub that photos of the first lady in Katie Decker are already providing. Michelle Obama's stylist picked up the bracelets at Katie's showroom in Fragments in Soho. The bracelets were on loan for the evening; a common practice in the fashion industry. You can see more photos of the Obamas from the evening here by checking out the Gotham Hall event.

If you've been saving your nickels and dimes, the cuffs are available locally at Judith Ann Jewels. The First Lady wore Katie's Lotus cuff priced at $15,000 with 2.9 carats of diamonds, her Gothic cuff at $15,350 with 2.17 carats in diamonds and the Quatrefoil bracelet at $11,800 with 1.73 carats in diamonds.

As Katie continues her rise in the ranks of jewelry design she has participated in Couture, the trade show for jewelery designers, in Las Vegas and has now been accepted for the Centurion Jewelry Show in Scottsdale, Ariz. more

Jeremy Combs doesn't get hot sauce with Taco Bell order, returns with shotgun

Angered that his Taco Bell drive-thru order failed to include hot sauce, a Missouri man returned to the fast food restaurant and allegedly pulled a shotgun on an employee, who fled in fear from the takeout window.

The bizarre incident Saturday evening resulted in the arrest of Jeremy Combs, a 30-year-old convicted felon, on both state and federal charges. Combs is pictured in the below mug shot.

According to a U.S. District Court complaint, investigators with the Lee’s Summit Police Department interviewed Combs Sunday afternoon about the incident. Combs admitted that he had purchased several items from Taco Bell, only to return home to discover “the Taco Bell employee had failed to include his…hot sauce.”

While Combs told cops that he “became upset and drove back to the Taco Bell to confront the employee,” he denied brandishing a shotgun at the drive-thru worker. He said the item was actually a tire iron, a claim police say is belied by Taco Bell surveillance footage showing Combs in his Ford F-150 truck.

During a subsequent search of Combs’s residence, police discovered a Mossberg shotgun with live rounds of ammunition affixed to its side (the weapon was hidden under the mattress in Combs’s bedroom). In a conversation Monday with a Lee’s Summit detective, Combs reportedly copped to possessing the shotgun at Taco Bell, adding that he bought the weapon--which did not have a serial number--“from ‘Mark’ at a drug house in Independence, Missouri.” more

Global Meltdown: Investors Are Dumping Nearly Everything

With no solution in sight for Europe and new fears of a global recession, investors dumped stocks and commodities and ran to the safety of U.S. Treasurys.

reasury yields [cnbc explains] , as a result, slipped to historic lows with the 10-year yielding 1.75 percent and the 30-year at 2.86 percent.

The dollar was also a beneficiary of a massive fear trade that sent U.S. stocks sharply lower, on the heels of steep sell-offs in equities markets around the globe.

The worst performing stock market sectors mirrored the sell-off in global commodities markets, with materials down 4.6 percent and energy stocks down 4.1 percent.

Copper, hit by concerns of a Chinese slowdown, tumbled 7 percent to a 1-year low. Gold, usually a safety play, was sold into the maelstrom as investors raised cash. The euro [EUR=X 1.3494 -0.0083 (-0.61%) ], broke below 1.35, a recent bottom of its range. It was trading in the 1.346 area, an eight-month low against the dollar. The dollar index [.DXY 78.32 0.98 (+1.26%) ] was 1.4 percent higher.

"People are finding it really isn't gold. It isn't precious metals. It's not currencies. U.S. Treasurys are where people are flocking to at a time of extreme concern about risk, and we continue to see Treasurys continue to get bid up," said Zane Brown, fixed income strategist at Lord Abbett. more

Census: Recession taking toll on young adults

Call it the recession's lost generation.

In record-setting numbers, young adults struggling to find work are shunning long-distance moves to live with Mom and Dad, delaying marriage and buying fewer homes, often raising kids out of wedlock. They suffer from the highest unemployment since World War II and risk living in poverty more than others - nearly 1 in 5.

New 2010 census data released Thursday show the wrenching impact of a recession that officially ended in mid-2009. It highlights the missed opportunities and dim prospects for a generation of mostly 20-somethings and 30-somethings coming of age in a prolonged slump with high unemployment.

"We have a monster jobs problem, and young people are the biggest losers," said Andrew Sum, an economist and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. He noted that for recent college grads now getting by with waitressing, bartending and odd jobs, they will have to compete with new graduates for entry-level career positions when the job market eventually does improve.

"Their really high levels of underemployment and unemployment will haunt young people for at least another decade," Sum said.

Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard University, added, "These people will be scarred, and they will be called the `lost generation' - in that their careers would not be the same way if we had avoided this economic disaster." more

Deadly bird disease trichomonosis 'spreads to Europe'

A disease that is killing greenfinches and chaffinches in the UK has now spread to Europe, scientists report.

A paper in the journal Ecohealth confirms that the disease has been found in Finland, Norway and Sweden and is at risk of moving further afield.

The disease, called trichomonosis, is caused by a parasite and was first seen in finches in the UK in 2005.

Since then, the country's greenfinches have declined by 35% and chaffinch populations have fallen by 7%.

Becki Lawson, a wildlife veterinarian at the Zoological Society for London (ZSL) and lead author of the paper, said: "Trichomonosis has emerged as a very serious threat to these birds, so it is very important that vets and ornithologists collaborate to determine whether we might see further spread and to monitor the impact of the parasite on wild bird populations across Europe." more

Barack Obama 'will veto' Palestinian UN bid

Barack Obama has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he will veto his bid for UN membership, as he tried to persuade him to drop the plans.

But Mahmoud Abbas vowed to press ahead during a meeting with the US president, the White House said afterwards.

Mr Obama had told the UN General Assembly a Palestinian state could only be achieved through talks with Israel.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned a veto could spark another cycle of violence in the region.

Diplomatic efforts for Palestinian UN membership have intensified, with Mr Abbas preparing to submit a written application to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday.

Thousands of people rallied in the West Bank on Wednesday in support of the move. more

09:28 AM ET Share Comments (32 comments) Permalink Slavery in Europe: How big a problem is it?



British authorities recently rescued 24 men that they said were kept as slaves – some for as long as 15 years. The men, from England and parts of Eastern Europe, are "all believed to be victims of slavery," police said.

So, how big a problem is slavery in Europe? CNN's Max Foster talks to Anti-Slavery International's Aidan McQuade about the fight against modern-day slavery there and around the world.

FOSTER: We keep hearing how shocked people are that it's happening in their country, and it's often in the Western hemisphere that we hear that shock. But should we be shocked that it's going on?

MCQUADE: Yes. It is human beings doing this to other human beings and ... there's something like at least 12 million people enslaved in the world today. It's just an appalling, appalling carnage upon people's lives and hopes.

FOSTER: And in terms of the prevalence, are we right to say it's more or less prevalent in Western Europe, for example, than parts of Asia, where we've had lots of really horrific reporting?

MCQUADE: I think unquestionably in terms of absolute numbers, we're talking about South Asia being the largest numbers of people in the world.

But if you look at the International Labor Organization analysis of the problem, slavery in Europe and in North America - while it's smaller numbers, it's the high-value slavery. It's the thing that was making millions of dollars for people who are trafficking other human beings. more

Ontario wind farm health risks downplayed: documents

Ontario's Ministry of the Environment is logging hundreds of health complaints over the province's 900 wind turbines but has downplayed the problem, according to internal ministry documents obtained by CBC News.

According to 1,000 pages of internal government emails, reports and memos released under Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act, the government scrambled to figure out how to monitor and control noise pollution.

The documents were released after a lengthy and costly battle waged by Barb Ashbee. Ashbee and her husband Dennis Lormand say they suffered a series of ailments after wind turbines began operating near their home in Amaranth, near Shelburne, northwest of Toronto. The area is now home to 133 wind turbines — the largest industrial wind farm in the province.

After being told theirs was the only complaint in the area, Ashbee and Lormond learned that MOE officials at the Guelph District Office had been tracking more than 200 complaints dating back to 2006 when the wind farm first started operating.

Their home was bought out by Canadian Hydro Developers (now Transalta) in June 2009, one of six homeowners who sold their houses to the utility company. more

5 chemical threats to the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes have faced various threats for years, from industrial pollution to invasive species, but another challenge worries many researchers these days — the emerging chemical threat.

It’s not just pesticides, as scientists are finding worrying levels of pharmaceutically active compounds such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, anti-epileptics, and beta blockers in lake water. As well, hormones, pesticides and alkylphenols have been identified as threats.

These products and medicines flushed down toilets and dumped into sinks are not stopped at water treatment plants, which are not geared to deal with them.

A new report prepared for the International Joint Commission by two Windsor, Ont., researchers has outlined the threats the chemicals pose. The International Joint Commission was formed by the U.S. and Canadian governments to find solutions to problems in the Great Lakes Basin.

The compounds “are receiving attention due to their potential adverse effects on animals and humans at low levels of exposure,” said the report, co-authored by Merih Otker Uslu and Nihar Biswas of the University of Windsor. They sound a warning later in the report, which is a review of data collected from 2007-11. more

Pakistan 'supported Kabul embassy attack'

The most senior US military officer has accused Pakistan's spy agency of supporting the Haqqani group in last week's attack on the US Kabul embassy.

"The Haqqani network... acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency," Adm Mike Mullen told a Senate panel.

Some 25 people died in last Tuesday's 20-hour attack on Kabul's US embassy and other official buildings.

Pakistan's interior minister earlier denied links with the Haqqani group.

Rehman Malik told the BBC Pakistan was determined to fight all militants based on its border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have consistently denied links with militant groups. more

UARS satellite: New images of tumbling US spacecraft

An amateur astronomer has recorded images of the out-of-control US satellite as it tumbles back to Earth.

Theirry Legault, from Paris, captured the video as the satellite passed over northern France on 15 September.

The six-tonne, 20-year-old spacecraft has fallen out of orbit and is expected to crash somewhere on Earth on or around 24 September.

The US space agency says the risk to life from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is 1 in 3,200.

Mr Legault, an engineer, used a specially designed camera to record the tumbling satellite through his 14-inch telescope, posting the footage on his Astrophotography website.

UARS could land anywhere between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the equator - most of the populated world.

Nasa says that most of the satellite will break or burn up before reaching Earth.

But scientists have identified 26 separate pieces that could survive the fall through the atmosphere. This debris could rain across an area 400-500km (250-310 miles) wide. more

Poisoned school lunch kills Peru children

Three children have died and more than 50 others are seriously ill in Peru after eating a school meal contaminated with pesticide, officials say.

The children were being fed by a government nutrition programme for the poor, at a remote mountain village in the north of the country.

It is thought the meal of rice and fish was prepared in a container which may have previously held rat poison.

At least three adults have also been taken ill.

The mass poisoning happened in the village of Redondo in the Cajamarca region, about 750km (470 miles) north of the capital, Lima.

The three dead were between six and 10 years old.

The food had been donated by the National Food Assistance Programme, which gives food to schools in the poorest parts of the country.

The mother of one of the children who died said they showed signs of having been poisoned.

"I think it was poison because all the kids are purple, from all parts of the school," said the mother, who was not named.

"My little boy has died. My nine-year-old boy, Miguel Angel, has died." more

Google denies 'cooking' search results

Google's executive chairman has denied that the company fixes its search results to promote its own websites and services.

Eric Schmidt told a congressional hearing in Washington: "May I simply say that I can assure you we're not cooking anything."

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on anti-trust is looking at whether Google abuses its market position.

The US Federal Trade Commission is also investigating the same issue.

The website search giant faces a further continuing investigation by the European Commission.
'Extraordinary advantage'

Mr Schmidt told the senators: "Google does nothing to block access to any of the competitors and other sources of information."

When asked whether Google was a monopoly company, Mr Schmidt said the search engine giant was "in that area", adding that it recognised it had a special responsibility because of its market power. more

Troy Davis executed: Was the right man put to death?

Moody's cuts ratings on 3 banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup

Moody's has declared the era of "too big to fail" over.

In yet another blow to the financial sector, Moody's Investors Services announced the downgrade of Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America -- three of the United States' top banks.

Among the primary reasons: the U.S. government is less likely to step in to save a troubled financial institution.

"It is more likely now than during the financial crisis to allow a large bank to fail should it become financially troubled, as the risks of contagion become less acute," Moody's wrote in its downgrade note of Wells Fargo's stock.

Moody's downgraded Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500)'s long-term debt two notches to Baa1, Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500)'s long-term one notch to A1, and Citigroup (C, Fortune 500)'s short-term debt one notch to Prime-2. Moody's offered a negative outlook for all three.

"While we disagree with their conclusions and we believe our ratings should be higher, to minimize any potential impact of this decision on our business, we have been managing our liquidity carefully and we have prefunded our planned borrowing needs for the year," said a Bank of America spokesman. more

Series of blasts kill 1, injure dozens in Russia's Dagestan

A series of attacks against police hit the Russian North Caucasus region of Dagestan on Thursday, killing several officers and injuring dozens more, authorities said.

An unidentified person set off a bomb equivalent to about 3 kilograms (more than 6 pounds) of TNT shortly after midnight near the police headquarters in the regional capital of Makhachkala.

No one was hurt, the local police department reported on its website.

Fifteen minutes later, when investigators arrived at the scene, a more powerful car bomb went off, killing a police officer. It injured 39 people, including 32 officers, police said.

Dagestan police said on its website that the second bomb had the power of 35-40 kilograms of TNT.

The Russian Interior Ministry reported on its website that the blast killed one police officer and injured 60 people, including 44 officers. more

Death toll climbs as Roke leaves Japan

The death toll climbed to 10 in Japan as the remnants of former Typhoon Roke raced into the northern Pacific on Thursday, government officials said.

Four people are missing, according to local government officials.

Roke hit the Japanese mainland Wednesday morning as a powerful Typhoon, packing winds of up to 167 kph (103 mph).

The storm caused widespread flooding and disrupted transportation throughout the island nation a day earlier.

The storm hit as Japan is still recovering from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in March, killing more than 15,000 people.

Ahead of the storm, there were fears that it would affect Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant, which went into a nuclear crisis after the March disaster. TEPCO officials canceled outdoor construction at the plant. more

Roadside Bomb Kills 5 in northwestern Pakistan

Five people were killed and 13 others were injured Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded near a passenger van in militant-plagued northwest Pakistan, officials told CNN.

The blast occurred near a village in Bajaur, a district in Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan, local government official Islam Zeb said.

Bajaur had emerged as a base for the Pakistani Taliban until the Pakistani military launched an offensive against the insurgents in 2008.

The Pakistani army has twice declared that it has defeated the Taliban in Bajaur, but sporadic militant attacks continue to afflict the area.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, officials said. more

The dark, dangerous journey from Niger to Libya: Will civil war destabilize another country?

Dark shadows were lifting themselves off the sidewalk, slowly stretching, shaking the slumber from their limbs.

It was 6:15 a.m. in Niger's capital, Niamey, and I was setting off on a 12-hour drive, leaving its lush boulevards for Agadez, the sands of the Sahara, the desert trails to Libya, and the chaos Moammar Gadhafi's war there is causing.

The sun had yet to raise itself over the roofs but already the first hints of day were breaking the sleep of the destitute at the roadside.

I have seen poverty before, but even shrouded in the predawn gray, there is no mistaking it: People with little of anything save a public place to lay their heads.

Despite tough lives, the people here are warm, welcoming and hospitable.

"Bonjour," they say, hinting at their recent French colonial past. It seems to have overlaid, in part at least, their far earlier conversion to Islam. "As-Salaamu Aleikum," the Arabic greeting, is rarely used. Long French loaves -- not Arabic flatbread -- are on sale at tiny stalls.

We've already passed through the checkpoint on the outskirts of the capital before the countryside begins to take shape. more

Libya military site yields possible radioactive material



A military site containing what appears to be radioactive material has been uncovered by revolutionary forces near the southern Libyan city of Sabha.

The site, not far from Sabha in the Sahara desert, has two warehouses containing thousands of blue barrels marked with tape saying "radioactive," and plastic bags of yellow powder sealed with the same tape.

The material has not been confirmed as being radioactive, but in 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the Libyan government had yellowcake stored in Sabha.

Yellowcake is processed uranium ore that can be used to produce enriched uranium for nuclear purposes.

Fighters entered Sabha, long regarded as a pro-Gadhafi stronghold, on Wednesday afternoon and initially met no resistance, officials said.

About a dozen lightly armed revolutionary fighters are now guarding the military site outside the city. more

Yemen sees fresh clashes as mediation fails, several dead

Government security forces fired on protesters in Yemen's capital Thursday, killing at least three people and seriously injuring at least three others, medical sources in Sanaa said.

A protester was killed by a sniper near the entrance of Change Square, which has been the center of months of demonstrations against long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Two women were shot in the square earlier, five witnesses said, and died of their injuries, according to a medical source at the scene.

Nine other protesters were shot by Republican Guard forces using artillery outside the square, with three of the injured in critical condition, medics on the scene said. more

Federal Reserve launches Operation Twist: The Next Stimulus Begins

The Federal Reserve announced "Operation Twist" Wednesday, a widely expected stimulus move reviving a policy from the 1960's.

The policy involves selling $400 billion in short-term Treasuries in exchange for the same amount of longer-term bonds, starting in October and ending in June 2012.

While the move does not mean the Fed will pump additional money into the economy, it is designed to lower yields on long-term bonds, while keeping short-term rates little changed.

The intent is to thereby push down interest rates on everything from mortgages to business loans, giving consumers and companies an additional incentive to borrow and spend money.

"This program should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help make broader financial conditions more accomodative" the Fed said in its official statement.

It's controversial to say the least, especially following a high-profile letter from Republicans earlier this week, urging the central bank not to intervene in the economy more than it already has.

And even within the Fed, three regional bank presidents, Richard Fisher of Dallas, Narayana Kocherlakota of Minneapolis and Charles Plosser of Philadelphia, dissented against the decision. Those same three dissented in August.

While the launch of Operation Twist was widely expected, experts still question its effectiveness. Interest rates have already been at record lows since 2008, and that has yet to entice consumers to take out loans. more

Palestinian leader: Why our occupation must end now

I have lived my entire adult life under Israeli military occupation. I snatch an approximation of freedom only when I travel and even then I know I am not truly free because my homeland remains controlled by a foreign power.

This week Palestinians will apply for United Nations membership in an attempt to secure freedom and statehood. Notably, it is the self-proclaimed democratic leader of the world, the United States of America under President Barack Obama, which will veto our aspirations. The vast majority of the world's states and people stand with us. The United States and Israel are only isolating themselves in this year of the Arab Spring by rebuffing the hopes of Palestinians.

The objections of the Obama administration and U.S. Congress are a bitter pill. It is morally wrong-headed to tell Palestinians repeatedly -- as has been done for a score of years since negotiations began in 1991 in Madrid -- to wait. Alternatively, we are told to wait and to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But he has made clear over his career -- and his Knesset allies have too -- that he has no interest in a viable Palestinian state. To expect us to continue to do what has failed for two decades is to assume insanity on our part. more

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - 22nd Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the Dominican Republic at a depth of 156.5 km (97.2 miles), the quake hit at 16:33:10 UTC Thursday 22nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 6 km (4 miles) East of Higuey, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic
No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

US and France Walk Out of UN general assembly as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed the "arrogant cowards" who are leading the world.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stuck a familiarly anti-Western, incendiary tone in his speech to the UN general assembly Thursday, prompting several delegations to exit the room.

As part of a long series of rhetorical questions, he asked who used the "mysterious" events of September 11 as a pretext to attack Middle Eastern nations. In a swipe at the United States, he also slammed the "arrogant cowards" who are leading the world.

His remarks prompted several delegations, including the United States and France, to walk out of the chamber. Source

Radioactive Materials in LIBYA? - 22nd Sept 2011



A military site containing what appears to be radioactive material has been uncovered by revolutionary forces near the southern Libyan city of Sabha.

Military forces loyal to the country's National Transitional Council took a CNN crew Thursday to the site, not far from Sabha in the Sahara desert. The crew saw two warehouses there, containing thousands of blue barrels marked with tape saying "radioactive," and two or three plastic bags of yellow powder sealed with the same tape.

The material has not been confirmed as being radioactive, but in 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, confirmed that the Libyan government had yellowcake stored in Sabha.

Yellowcake is processed uranium ore that can, after extensive refining, be used to produce enriched uranium for nuclear purposes. Read More

Dale Farm travellers are being paid housing benefit - by the council that's trying to evict them - 22nd Sept 2011

Families camped illegally at Dale Farm are still being paid thousands of pounds in housing benefits by the council that is in an ongoing legal battle to have them evicted.

Basildon Council pays as much as £53,625 a year for 25 families at the 51-pitch site which the authority says they are entitled to, even though they have not got planning permission.

Leader, Tony Ball, said two years ago that benefits for mobile home rent paid to families on the illegal site had been stopped but yesterday it was confirmed that was not the case.

Mr Ball said, however: 'I don’t remember saying all claims had stopped, but was advised a number of claims were stopped. If I did say that, it was based on the information I was given at the time and said in good faith.

'Of course if payments are stopped individuals can appeal or new claims be made and I would not necessarily be notified.' Read More

U.S. 'no' on Taiwan arms seen as sign of China clout - 22nd Sept 2011

A U.S. decision not to sell Taiwan new F-16 fighter jets is being seen by many U.S. allies in Asia as a sign of China's growing clout.

The pre-eminent military power in East Asia for a half-century, the U.S. has explicitly and implicitly provided a security umbrella for countries from Singapore to Japan, helping to keep the peace that has fostered stunning economic growth.

While few of these allies believe the U.S. is lessening its commitment to the region, they still see Washington's refusal to make the F-16 sale -- privately confirmed by congressional aides Sunday and then made public Wednesday -- as showing a new deference to Chinese interests.

China is a "big factor ... that can't be discounted," Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told The Associated Press. "All things are always considered in a decision and China is a world player now."

The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Kurt Campbell, publicly confirmed in New York on Wednesday that the Obama administration will upgrade Taiwan's existing fleet of F-16s, postponing for now the sale of new models that Taipei sought. The decision brought a swift, angry denunciation from Beijing, where Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to warn that exchanges between the militaries, security cooperation and overall ties will suffer.

After reducing its footprint in East Asia during the administration of President George W. Bush, the U.S. began pushing back in last year. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered strong support to Asian allies in response to their unease about a more assertive Chinese naval posture in the South China Sea, and the U.S. military conducted high-profile drills with Japan and South Korea.

But doubts about American staying power in the region persist, and Washington's refusal to sell the new F-16s to Taiwan could serve to deepen them. Read More

Typhoon hits quake-ravaged regions, floods temporary housing community, Japan - 22nd Sept 2011

Powerful Typhoon No. 15 has caused major floods in temporary housing units here, bringing disaster once more to this city still suffering from the effects of the March 11 earthquake and ensuing nuclear disaster.

The fast-moving typhoon smashed into the Tohoku region late in the evening of Sept. 21, leaving two dead, several missing and affecting tens of thousands more as strong winds and heavy rain pounded the entire area.

Temporary housing units in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, were flooded when the river running through the park hosting the units overflowed due to heavy rains. According to unit residents, at one point the water reached their waists.

At around 6:50 p.m. on the same evening an evacuation advisory was issued to all 58 households -- a total of 138 people -- residing in the units.

"We were just beginning to return to normal life and we had to evacuate again," one of the residents of the units said as they returned to clean the mud out of their temporary homes the morning after the storm.

The typhoon hit the temporary housing community only a day after residents from the city of Tamura -- one of the municipalities within the 20 kilometer no-go zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant -- were allowed to briefly return to their homes. Read More