Monday, September 26, 2011

Libyan campaign 'could cost UK £1.75billion' (after politicians told us it would be a few million) "What!! you mean they Lied?" - 27th Sept 2011

The cost of Britain’s military mission in Libya could hit £1.75billion – seven times what the Government predicted it would spend.

The sum, calculated by one of the UK’s leading defence specialists, is an embarrassing blow to Liam Fox who said in June the operation to stop Colonel Gaddafi attacking civilians would cost £260million.

Originally the Treasury believed the cost would be no more than ‘tens of millions’ of pounds.

Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, claims the real bill will far exceed this because of the sheer number of strikes carried out by the RAF and Royal Navy.

His analysis, using MoD figures, gave two estimates of the cost until the end of last month - between £1.38billion and £1.58billion using one method, and £850million to £1.75billion using another.

He added: ‘Where there has been doubt, I have underestimated in my calculations.’ Read More

Another three terrorists to dodge deportation by using Human Rights Act to stay in Britain - 27th Sept 2011

A trio of foreign terrorists convicted of plotting mayhem in Britain are poised to use human rights laws to dodge deportation.

The three fanatics will claim they could face ill-treatment if they return to their homelands because of the notoriety of their crimes.

They are among dozens of dangerous fundamentalists jailed since the September 11 attacks set to be released on to the streets.

It comes the day after the Mail told how July 21 bomb plot supporter Siraj Yassin Abdullah Ali has avoided deportation to his native Eritrea because it would breach his human rights.

Despite being graded as the highest possible risk, he now mingles freely with the Londoners his co-plotters tried to kill on the capital’s transport network six years ago. Read More

UK Families face £5,000 bill to bail our debt-stricken Euro nations, "what does Europe do for us again? oh yeah they gave us Human Rights Act

Britain could be asked to find £115billion to rescue debt-stricken countries – nearly £5,000 per household.

Fears were growing last night that the International Monetary Fund might not have enough cash for a global bailout of struggling economies.

Its crisis fund may need to grow ten-fold – meaning a huge increase in contributions from the UK.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, said the current war chest of around £250billion ‘pales in comparison with the potential financing needs of vulnerable countries’ and needs to be expanded to deal with ‘worst-case scenarios’.

Sources in Washington said the IMF’s pot of cash could be expanded to £2.6trillion although officials in London said that figure looked ‘incredibly high’.

Mrs Lagarde’s warning came as U.S. President Barack Obama said the debt crisis in Europe was ‘scaring the world’ and that eurozone leaders were not dealing with the issue quickly enough.

And a top Bank of England economist urged leaders around the world to stop the world plunging back into recession. ‘It’s doing something rather than just saying something that counts,’ said Ben Broadbent, a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee charged with setting UK interest rates.

Britain is liable for 4.5 per cent of IMF funding – meaning it would have to contribute around £115billion to an enlarged bailout fund, or £4,600 per household. Read More

Powerful Typhoon Nesat hits Philippines - 27th Sept 2011

A powerful typhoon has struck the Philippines, triggering floods, cutting power and halting work in the capital Manila.

Typhoon Nesat also forced the closure of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the US embassy in the city.

At least one person was killed and another four were reported missing.

As the storm approached, the authorities ordered the evacuation of more than 100,000 people in the central Albay province.

The typhoon is expected to continue across the country, before blowing across the South China sea towards southern China on Thursday.

Nesat made landfall just before dawn in the eastern Isabela and Aurora provinces on the Pacific coast.

The storm - with wind gusts of up to 170km/h (105mph) - is now making its way across the island of Luzon, which is home to more than half the Philippine population, the BBC's Kate McGeown in the Philippines reports.

Many roads have been flooded and flights cancelled, and local media are urging people against non-essential travel, our correspondent says. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 27th Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 198.6 km (123.4 miles), the quake hit at 01:36:16 UTC Tuesday 27th September 2011.
The epicenter was 264 km (164 miles) North of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 27th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the New Britain Region, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 65 km (40.4 miles), the quake hit at 00:46:17 UTC Tuesday 27th September 2011.
The epicenter was 47 km (29 miles) Southwest of Taron, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 27th Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 528.3 km (328.3 miles), the quake hit at 00:37:34 UTC Tuesday 27th September 2011.
The epicenter was 295 km (183 miles) ESE of Lambasa, Vanua Levu, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 26th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Andreanof Islands, Aleutian Islands Alaska at a depth of 203.5 km (126.5 miles), the quake hit at 20:08:46 UTC Monday 26th September 2011.
The epicenter was 56 km (34 miles) NNE of Atka, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Ben "Big Brother" Bernanke Goes Watergate, Prepares To Eavesdrop On Everything Mentioning The Federal Reserve: Your Websites, Comments, Profiles...

Two weeks ago, the media's heart went aflutter when it learned that the president had borrowed a page right out of ole' Joe McCarthy's communist witch hunt book with the launch of Attack Watch. The response by everyone, even fans of Obama, was immediate and brutal. Yet where Obama took about 24 hours to crash and burn, someone else has stepped in with a far stealthier method of ferreting out the traitors amongst us: none other than our old friends, the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, which in a Request for Proposals filed to companies that are Fed vendors, is requesting the creation of a "Social Listening Platform" whose function is to "gather data from various social media outlets and news sources." It will "monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria."

The Fed's desired product should be able to "determine the sentiment [ED:LOL] of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document"... "The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube. It should also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc." Most importantly, the "Listening Platform" should be able to "Handle crisis situations, Continuously monitor conversations, and Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers." Said otherwise, the Fed has just entered the counterespionage era and will be monitoring everything written about it anywhere in the world. After all, why ask others to snitch for you and anger everyone as Obama found out the hard way, when you can pay others to create the supreme FIATtack WatchTM using money you yourself can print in unlimited amounts. And once the Internet is completely "transparent", the Fed will next focus on telephone conversations, and finally will simply bug each and every otherwise "private" location in the world. Because very soon saying that "printing money is treason" will be treason, and such terrorist thoughts must be pre-crimed before they even occur.

All we can say is we welcome our new Chairsatan Voldemort overlord. For it is truly he who must not be named henceforth.

From the key section of the RFP, presented in its entirety below:

I. Introduction

Social media platforms are changing the way organizations are communicating to the public Conversations are happening all the time and everywhere.

There is need for the Communications Group to be timely and proactively aware of the reactions and opinions expressed by the general public as it relates to the Federal Reserve and its actions on a variety of subjects.

II. Social Listening Platforms

Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources. They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria. They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.

The information gathered can guide the organizations public relations group in assessing the effectiveness of communication strategies.

Here are some of the services it can offer:

o Track reach and spread of your messages and press releases
o Handle crisis situations
o Continuously monitor conversations
o Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers
o Spot emerging trends, discussions themes and topics more

Radioactivity in Japan Rice Raises Worries

Government officials on Saturday ordered more tests after detecting elevated levels of radiation in rice crops near the crippled nuclear power plant at Fukushima.

Radioactive substances have already been discovered in beef, milk, spinach and tea leaves, leading to recalls and bans on shipments. But officials have been especially worried about rice, a staple that makes up a significant part of the Japanese diet. Japan grows most of the rice that it consumes.

Preliminary tests on rice from paddies in the city of Nihonmatsu, about 35 miles from the Fukushima plant, showed the crops contained 500 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium, prefectural officials said. Under recently adopted Japanese regulations, rice with up to 500 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium is considered safe for consumption. (A becquerel is a frequently used measure of radiation.)

As a result of the latest findings, officials in Fukushima have ordered further checks on rice from the area, and they may ban shipments if similarly high levels of radiation are found again, prefectural officials told reporters.

Rice from more than 400 locations in Fukushima Prefecture has been tested, and the highest level of radioactive cesium previously detected was less than 150 becquerels per kilogram. Some experts have criticized the Japanese government for not doing enough to keep dangerous radioactive substances out of the food supply, threatening the health especially of children and pregnant women, who are thought to be more sensitive to radiation. more

Kids run for cover as gunman fires shots near Issaquah High: US

A witness says kids ran for cover under bleachers as a guman fired shots near Issaquah High School.

Police shot and killed the lone gunman. No one else was hurt.

The man, said to be in his 50s and from Maple Valley, was driving his car on Front Street when he stopped in the middle of the street, got out and started shooting, King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Urquhart said.

“A bullet went between me and my friend Tony. We started running and we could hear bullets bouncing off the concrete behind us,” said Shanae Hover.

The man proceeded to walk toward the elementary school and high school, where a youth football game was going on.

“Where we were alongside the elementary school we got shot at about nine times,” said Jason Gerth.

Police emptied the field and evacuated the stands filled with young football players and their families.

“They're huddled under the bleachers staying close together, scared out of their minds,” said Chase Hawkins.

“In my whole life I've never seen anything like this,” said Jack Hover. more

Six Turkish soldiers killed in clashes in the southeast

Alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, attacked a Turkish army outpost on Saturday, killing six soldiers and wounding 11 in the southeastern province of Siirt.

Three PKK militants were also killed.

The militants attacked a post near the town of Pervari in Siirt. Authorities were not immediately available for comment.

The PKK planted mines in the area to prevent or slow down army reinforcements, and also were firing on helicopters taking troops to the area, the Hurriyet newspaper said on its website, citing unidentified local sources. more

Yemeni government troops kill 40

In one of the bloodiest days of Yemen's uprising, government troops backed by snipers and shelling attacked a square full of Yemeni protesters and battled with pro-opposition forces in the capital, killing at least 40 people and littering the streets with bodies.

The violence signalled an accelerated attempt by President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his loyalists to crush their rivals and tighten his grip on the country after his return a day earlier from Saudi Arabia, where he has been undergoing treatment for the past three months for wounds suffered in an assassination attempt.

One of Saleh's top rivals Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar called for international help, asking the US and other regional powers to rein him in. He warned that Saleh is pushing the country into civil war and compared him to the Roman emperor Nero, burning down his own city.

In a strongly worded statement, al-Ahmar called Saleh a "sick, vengeful soul" who treats Yemen like his personal estate.

"With his return, Yemen is experiencing sweeping chaos and the harbingers of a crushing civil war which this ignorant man is determined to ignite," said al-Ahmar, who was once a close ally of Saleh but early on in the uprising joined the opposition along with the 1st Armored Division he commands.

Sanaa has become a city divided between rival gunmen, with barracks and roadblocks manned by men in different uniforms indicating their loyalties. The city's streets have become too dangerous for the residents to venture out. Many took cover in basements because of the ongoing thuds of mortars during fighting that has killed at least 140 people the past week. more

Iran Running Drone Competitions to Upgrade Unmanned Air Force

Drones: every military wants ‘em. But if you’re a country like Iran, sanctions can put a bit of a crimp in your efforts to build an unmanned aerial vehicle fleet. To get around the problem, Iran is turning inward, using drone development competitions to gin up new ideas for homebrew UAVs.

Today America enjoys a distinct military advantage, thanks to its unmanned air force. Tomorrow, that advantage is likely to vanish, thanks to contests like Iran’s Div-e-Sepid. Competitors from up to 65 teams square off by racing their homemade drones around Mount Damavand, Iran’s highest mountain peak.

In the Homa Sazan competition, sUASnews.com notes, drone makers test their designs against a series of increasingly complex real-life missions. Their UAVs, equipped with small cameras, fly over patches of land and sea looking to see who can spot hidden markers, relay their precise coordinates and accomplish other tasks.

The missions are supposed to get increasingly more complex as the annual contests continue. From a military perspective, the competitions’ goals are fairly anodyne: finding wood smugglers and spotting those in need of rescue on land and sea and dropping small packages of rescue supplies. But like just about any kind of technology, the capabilities can be used for a variety of purposes. A UAV able to spot that wood smuggler might also be useful for identifying targets on a battlefield.

Just this week, Iran bragged about a new drone designed by students at Tabriz University. The Sharapah (meaning “butterfly”) is a high-altitude drone, according to an official Iranian mouthpiece, capable of reaching heights of 15,000 feet. It reportedly can hover for up to three hours and has a range of about 12 miles. The report comes as part of Iran’s chest-puffing for the “Week of Sacred Defense.” The occasion, marking Iran’s grueling eight-year war with Iraq, came complete with a Thursday parade, showing off Iran’s drone fleet and other weaponry. more

EU given six weeks to protect itself against 'inevitable Greek default'

European Union governments will spend the next six weeks building a financial firewall to protect their fragile banking systems against what is now seen as an inevitable Greek default.

G20 sources said that up to 50% was likely to be wiped from the face value of Greece's €350bn debt – but not until Europe had put into place a war chest to prevent the contagion spreading.

More money will be disbursed by the International Monetary Fund and the EU next month to keep the Greek government afloat, but this is seen as a short-term fix while Europe's leaders beef up the eurozone bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility.

Europe came under ferocious pressure at this weekend's IMF meeting in Washington to contain the spiralling crisis, which is blamed for dragging the global economy to the brink of a double-dip recession. The IMF is reportedly willing to continue bailing out Greece in the short-term, provided that Europe uses the time to tackle the issue of debt once and for all. The Washington-based lender believes the 18-month delay since Greece was first bailed out last spring has exacerbated the crisis.

Tim Geithner, the US treasury secretary, said: "The threat of cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk must be taken off the table, otherwise it will undermine all other efforts, both within Europe and globally.

"Decisions as to how to conclusively address the region's problems cannot wait until the crisis gets more severe." more

A Case for Redistributing $5 Trillion to the Poor

The U.S. economy is sick right now because there is over $5 trillion of dead money.

Five trillion dollars is a big amount. It dwarfs the size of the 2009 U.S. economic stimulus package and the Federal Reserve's two rounds of quantitative easing. It's about one-third the size of the U.S. GDP.

The dead money I'm talking about is the $2 trillion U.S. corporations are hoarding and the $3 trillion the Chinese are hoarding in their foreign exchange reserves.

Not all of that money came from U.S. consumers and not all of it needs to be redistributed. But a large chunk of it did and should be.

Companies have accumulated their cash hoard partly through technological advances, which allowed them to replace humans with machines that do a better job at a fraction of the cost.

The Chinese have accumulated theirs through cheap labor (they're not spending a lot of it because a big chunk of the profits goes to the government instead of to workers).

Many economists will be quick to point out that technological advances and access to cheap foreign labor produce a net gain for a society. more

World’s First Anti-Magnet to Serve as 'Magnetic Shield'

X-men’s Magneto isn’t the only who can shield magnetic fields.

Spanish researchers have designed what they call the world's first "anti-magnet," a magnetic cloak that can act as a shield they envision helping the military and saving lives. For example, some types of mines in the ocean are set to detonate upon detection of magnetic fields from ships passing above them. Military ships could use an anti-magnet to stop their magnetic fields from tripping the mines.

“It was a big explosion in science [in 2008] -- the possibility of cloaking electromagnetic waves,” professor Alvar Sanchez from from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain and the lead author of the design told FoxNews.com. “So we came up with the idea of trying to make something similar with magnetic fields, and now we have come up with a device we hope can be constructed eventually that will have these properties of an anti-magnet.”

An anti-magnet could protect medical patients as readily as military ships, the researchers theorize. Potentially, those using pacemakers could interact more readily with medical equipment.

“For example, in magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], in principal, you can protect the pacemaker from the field, but often you would need to distort the magnetic field, so then the quality of the images is bad,” Sanchez told FoxNews.com. “We hope in the future our device can be put on the chest of the patient to prevent the magnetic field from entering, while at the same time not causing any distortion.” more

Mortgages at risk if U.S. flood program expires

The federal program that insures homes against flood damage expires next Friday and is at risk of not being renewed, even as an early fall storm threatens to inundate much of the northeastern United States yet again.

Industry executives say that if the National Flood Insurance Program lapses, it would become all but impossible to get a mortgage in flood zones across the country until the program is revived.

Insurers and lobbyists are due to meet Friday to strategize on getting an extension passed by next week, though there is little optimism something would happen in time.

The NFIP has 5.57 million policies in force nationwide, insuring $1.25 trillion in property, which would remain in place even if the program is not extended.

Yet the program is also struggling with an unsustainable debt load. A bill to reform the NFIP overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives this summer, but a competing reform bill has made little headway in the Senate.

In the meantime, the program has continued on a series of annual extensions, the last of which expires September 30. A short-term extension is part of the broader government funding bill the House passed early Friday, but Democrats have said the bill has no chance in the Senate.

"I would have thought surely we wouldn't be going down this path again," said Patty Templeton-Jones, vice president of operations and principal NFIP coordinator at Fidelity National Indemnity Insurance Co., which is the largest writer of flood insurance policies in the United States. The NFIP uses private insurance companies to write and administer policies on its behalf, paying them a fee for the service.

"This is absolutely getting ridiculous," she said. "We are at this point preparing for a lapse." more

Pope warns Lutherans of "Christian challenge", that is, the spread of Evangelical churches

Pope Benedict, visiting the German monastery where Martin Luther lived before launching the Reformation, warned his Lutheran hosts on Friday that what he called "a new form of Christianity" posed a challenge to mainline Protestants and Catholics alike.

While not naming them, it was clear that the pope, whose visit to this small city south of Berlin was sparsely attended, was referring to the evangelical and Pentecostal churches which have been attracting converts from more established churches, especially in Third World countries.

"Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss," the pope said on the second day of his third trip to his homeland as pontiff.

"This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability. This worldwide phenomenon poses a question to us all: what is this new form of Christianity saying to us, for better and for worse?"

The pope's visit to Germany has come at a time when record numbers of the faithful have quit the pews in the past year, in part to protest against clerical sex abuse of youths. About 181,000 disenchanted Catholics left the German Church in 2010.

Benedict appealed for unity between Roman Catholics and Protestants, who began their split from the church in the 16th century with the posting by Luther, who lived in Erfurt as a Catholic monk, of his 95 Theses in 1517.

At the same time, he deflected appeals from Protestants for a relaxation of rules barring them from participating in Catholic communion. more

IDF issues urgent terror warning along Israel-Egypt border

The Israel Defense Forces has significantly boosted its presence along Israel's border with Egypt due to urgent warnings that Hamas was planning on carrying out a terror attack in Israel, through the Sinai Peninsula.

The new warning comes on top of several other previous warnings that Islamic Jihad plans and other smaller Gaza factions plan on carrying out terror attacks on Israel's southern border.

Israeli defense officials believe the planned terror attack may be an attempt to distract public attention from the happenings at the United Nations General Assembly, which improved Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' public standing on the Palestinian street. more

ATM Thieves Skimmed $1,000 From A U.S. District Attorney

After being robbed of $1,000, U.S. District Attorney Jenny Durkan--the chair of the Justice Departments Cybercrime Committee--is taking the hard line on ATM skimming.

In a video with Western Seattle news station King5, Durkan admits she didn't take the proper precautions when withdrawing her money. Though she noticed the "door" to the ATM had been tampered with, against her better judgment she went ahead and took out the money away because she was in a hurry and on the way to a trip.

"I thought of all people it wouldn't happen to me because I take extra precautions and we process these people," Durkan explains. "I of all people knew better."

Before Durkan visited the ATM, a thief had mounted hardware to read her card's magnetic strip. The thief also installed a pinhole camera to videotape Durkan as she entered her PIN. After taking this crucial data, the thief manufactured a card identical to her ATM card, then withdrew around $1,000 from Durkan's account. more

Five misconceptions about poverty in America

In the midst of a ballooning deficit, an unbalanced federal budget and the upcoming presidential election, Congress doesn’t need to be worried about poverty in America, right?

Wrong.

Poverty is an all-too-familiar struggle for many Americans, and they have a stake in how these issues play out over the next months.

I believe God is calling us to change the politics that render our friends, neighbors and co-workers hungry and poor. To do so, we have to first tackle some common misconceptions about poverty.

1. “Poverty doesn’t exist in the United States.”

Although poverty often appears less extreme in the United States than in other countries, it is nonetheless real. There are 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The poverty rate increased to 15.1% in 2010, from 14.3% in 2009. That's nearly one out of every six Americans — the highest rate since the Census began tracking poverty data in 1959.

Children and multicultural groups were hit hardest. The poverty rate increased for those under 18, from 20.7% in 2009 to 22% in 2010. Among Hispanics, the rate went to 26.6% in 2010 from 25.3% in 2009. And for African-Americans, the rate soared to 27.4% in 2010 from 25.8% in 2009. more

Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11

As a Muslim, I’m sick of people asking me how I feel about 9/11. What do you want me to say, seriously?

Do you want me to say, “It was a great plan, mwahahaha!” before I fly off on a magic carpet?

I was born and raised in this country and was just as shocked as everyone else to learn there were people on this earth so vile as to commit such a horrific attack - or to even think about doing it.

But I didn’t do it. Neither did 99.999999999 percent of the roughly 1.5 billion people in the world who also call themselves Muslims. So why should I or any other Muslim apologize for what happened?

Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?

Just like Christianity and Judaism, Islam unequivocally condemns terrorism. Don’t take it from me, though. Grab a copy of the Quran from a library and find out for yourself.

Don’t rely on some cherry-picked crackpot interpretation of the Muslim holy book that you read on some Islamophobic hack’s poorly designed website. Speaking of which, Islamophobes need to put down the Quran and pick up a book on HTML programming and Flash. more

More youngsters having unsafe sex: global study

Young people across the globe are having more unprotected sex and know less about effective contraception options, a multinational survey revealed on Monday.

The "Clueless or Clued Up: Your Right to be informed about contraception" study prepared for World Contraception Day (WCD) reports that the number of young people having unsafe sex with a new partner increased by 111 percent in France, 39 percent in the USA and 19 percent in Britain in the last three years.

"No matter where you are in the world, barriers exist which prevent teenagers from receiving trustworthy information about sex and contraception, which is probably why myths and misconceptions remain so widespread even today," a member of the WCD task force, Denise Keller, said in a statement with the results of the study.

"When young people have access to contraceptive information and services, they can make choices that affect every aspect of their lives which is why it's so important that accurate and unbiased information is easily available for young people to obtain," Keller said.

The survey, commissioned by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and endorsed by 11 international non-governmental organizations, questioned more than 6,000 young people from 26 countries including Chile, Poland and China, on their attitudes toward sex and contraception.

The level of unplanned pregnancies among young people is a major global issue, campaigners say, and the rise in unprotected sex in several counties has sparked concern about the quality of sex education available to youngsters. more

New York audit reveals city paid $11.8 million in housing subsidies to dead people

Even the dead are scamming the city.

A shocking new audit from city Controller John Liu discovered that city bureaucrats paid out $11.8 million in rent subsidies in recent years to nearly 4,000 people too dead to enjoy them.

Instead, their landlords or relatives cashed in.

"There's no excuse for losing this much money - management lapse, willful fraud or otherwise," Liu said in a statement.

His office turned its findings over to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to determine if any crimes were committed.

City officials say they've already recouped $3.3 million of the posthumous profit - and vowed to collect the rest as soon as possible.

They say they had spotted some of the errors even before Liu flagged the screwups - and began implementing safeguards to make sure the dead are never again on the city dole.

"For more than a year and a half, Finance has been engaged in a comprehensive effort to overhaul the entire ... process," said Owen Stone, a spokesman for the city Finance Department. more

Amos Wayne Richards: 64 year-old-man with broken leg survives 4 days in Utah desert

A North Carolina man crawled four days across the Utah desert after breaking his leg on a solo hike, inspired by a Hollywood movie about a man who cut off his own arm to save himself after being trapped by a boulder in the same canyon.

Amos Wayne Richards, 64, of Concord, N.C., is now recovering at home. He said he was inspired to hike Little Blue John Canyon after he saw the Oscar-nominated movie "127 Hours" but fell 10 feet during his trek on Sept. 8.

Canyonlands National Park rangers found Richards four days later. Along with the leg injury, he dislocated his shoulder but was able to work it back into place.

"It took me about 3 or 4 minutes to work my shoulder and get it back in place, and once I got it back in place, I stood up and realized my ankle hurt a little bit," Richards told WBTV in Charlotte last week after his story started getting the attention of national TV news networks.

Without cellphone service and only two protein bars to eat, Richards began crawling back to his car across the rocky terrain. He filled his water bottles with rain as he painstakingly retraced his steps, eventually dragging himself almost five miles.

"I was actually following my GPS, crawling right on top of my feet print that I had hiked in on," Richards said. more

NYPD chief: Police could take down plane if needed

he chief of the New York Police Department says city police could take down a plane if necessary.

Commissioner Ray Kelly tells CBS' "60 Minutes" that after the Sept. 11 attacks, he decided the city couldn't rely on the federal government alone. He set about creating the NYPD's own counter-terrorism unit. He says the department is prepared for multiple scenarios and could even take down a plane.

Kelly didn't divulge details but said "obviously this would be in a very extreme situation."

Other measures include sending NYPD officers abroad, using radiation detectors and creating a network of surveillance cameras in Manhattan.

The interview airs Sunday evening. It comes two weeks after the tenth anniversary of 9/11, when hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. source

Americans Express Historic Negativity Toward U.S. Government

A record-high 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, adding to negativity that has been building over the past 10 years.

Majorities of Democrats (65%) and Republicans (92%) are dissatisfied with the nation's governance. This perhaps reflects the shared political power arrangement in the nation's capital, with Democrats controlling the White House and U.S. Senate, and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. Partisans on both sides can thus find fault with government without necessarily blaming their own party.

The findings are from Gallup's annual Governance survey, updated Sept. 8-11, 2011. The same poll shows record or near-record criticism of Congress, elected officials, government handling of domestic problems, the scope of government power, and government waste of tax dollars. more

'Massive jobs shortfall' predicted for global economy

The world's major economies are heading for a "massive jobs shortfall" by the end of next year if governments do not change their tack on policy, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in a study published on Monday.

In the report, prepared with the OECD for G20 labour ministers meeting in Paris on Monday, the ILO said the group of developing and developed nations had seen 20m jobs disappear since the financial crisis in 2008.

At current rates it would be impossible to recover them in the near term and there was a risk of the number doubling by the end of next year, it said.

"We must act now to reverse the slowdown in employment growth and make up for the jobs lost," ILO director general Juan Somavia said in a statement.

"Employment creation has to become a top macroeconomic priority."

The number of people in work in the G20 has risen by 1% since 2010, but 1.3% annual growth is needed to return to pre-crisis employment levels by 2015, the ILO said.

"However, employment growth of less than 1% cannot be excluded given the slowdown of the world economy and the anaemic growth foreseen in several G20 countries," the report said. "Should employment grow at a rate of 0.8% until end 2012, now a distinct possibility, then the shortfall in employment would increase by some 20m to a total of 40m in G20 countries."

India and China, the world's most populous countries, were both laggards with less than 1% annual growth in total employment, the report said, so an extra push for jobs could have a major impact on the G20. more

Greek default would destroy faith in Europe: Merkel (But there's so little left to destroy!)

Allowing Greece to default on its debt now would destroy investor confidence in the euro zone and might spark contagion like that experienced after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday.

"We need to take steps we can control," Merkel said, drawing a parallel between the Greek situation and that of Lehman, whose bankruptcy helped trigger the global financial crisis.

"What we can't do is destroy the confidence of all investors mid-course and get a situation where they say that if we've done it for Greece, we will also do it for Spain, for Belgium, or any other country. Then not a single person would put their money in Europe anymore."

In a one-hour interview on the euro zone crisis with the popular German talk show host Guenther Jauch, Merkel said she relied on the view of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when assessing how to handle Greece.

As long as the IMF was convinced Greece's debt was sustainable, then she supported that position, she said.

Merkel also made clear that she did not view a parliamentary vote in Germany on Thursday on the euro zone's rescue mechanism as "make-or-brake" for her government. more

Marisol Macias Castaneda: Woman decapitated in Mexico for web posting

Police found a woman's decapitated body in a Mexican border city on Saturday, alongside a handwritten sign saying she was killed in retaliation for her postings on a social networking site.

The gruesome killing may be the third so far this month in which people in Nuevo Laredo were killed by a drug cartel for what they said on the internet.

Morelos Canseco, the interior secretary of northern Tamaulipas state, where Nuevo Laredo is located, identified the victim as Marisol Macias Castaneda, a newsroom manager for the Nuevo Laredo newspaper Primera Hora.

The newspaper has not confirmed that title, and an employee of the paper said Macias Castaneda held an administrative post, not a reporting job. The employee was not authorized to be quoted by name.

But it was apparently what the woman posted on the local social networking site, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, or "Nuevo Laredo Live," rather than her role at the newspaper, that resulted in her killing.

The site prominently features tip hotlines for the Mexican army, navy and police, and includes a section for reporting the location of drug gang lookouts and drug sales points - possibly the information that angered the cartel. more

Hundreds sell their own burial plots in order to stay afloat



Holly Purkey, 28, is one of many Floridians trying to sell her pre-purchased burial plots for some quick cash. She is selling two burial plots in Forest Hills Memorial Park in Palm City. "This is new to me. Kind of a weird investment," said Purkey, of Port St. Lucie.

The side-by-side plots belonged to her grandparents, who had moved out of state. She bought them seven years ago. Now Purkey, a stay at home mother, wants this cemetery real estate off her hands. She would like $3,000 for the pair of plots in return. "The money would help. That's the reason why I should get these on Craigslist and do something about it," she said.

Sellers are posting online, using burial plot brokers, and also funeral homes to market the real estate. Some of those advertisements show single plots starting at about $1,000, while family plots can go for up to $50,000.

Julian Almeida owns Palms West Funeral Home and Crematory in Royal Palm Beach. When money gets tight in life, Almeida says many people begin to cut costs when it comes to planning for death. "The cemetery is the part of the funeral that really has gone up drastically," said Almeida.

Almeida has been seeing more people trying to sell off their pre-purchased plots as well as veterans looking into government-financed burials. More of Almeida's customers are skipping the burial altogether and opting for cremation, which makes up about 68% of his business. "It's sort of doubled in the past ten years," he said. more

Plan B: Flood the markets

Meeting halls A and B in HQ1 of the International Monetary Fund’s concrete plaza of buildings in Washington are a drab affair. Bare walls, muted browns and hovering interpreters’ booths perfectly capture the characterless functionality of the world’s economic watchdog.

For the finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s leading 20 countries who were dining in the hall that night, however, the 1970s minimalism was wholly appropriate. Talk could turn to austerity without the jarring distraction of vaulting chandeliers and priceless art.

For George Osborne and Charlie Bean, the Bank of England deputy Governor who was standing in for Sir Mervyn King, there was an added poignancy. The construction of meeting hall A and B was reputedly financed by the interest payments Britain made on the £3.9bn IMF loan the country took in the dark days of 1976 – the era of the three day week and 25pc inflation.

Some 35 years on, though, and it wasn’t the UK that was the focus of attention, but the eurozone. As the 40 delegates round the table tucked into their goats cheese tart starter, main of poached fish and dark chocolate tart with crème anglaise dessert, policymaker after policymaker voiced their frustration about the lack of political will in Europe to resolve the sovereign debt crisis.

Time is running out, they said, and patience is wearing thin. Sitting opposite Osborne was Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, who had been feeling the pressure personally.

Two days earlier, he had unveiled “operation twist” – a quantitative easing-lite operation to switch $400bn of central bank funds from short-dated government debt into long-dated treasuries. The idea was to bring down long-term interest rates and so ease the pressure on US homeowners, one quarter of whom are in negative equity. more

piranhas sunk their teeth into about 100 beachgoers, Terezina, Brazil - 25th Sept 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO — Authorities in a state in Brazil's northeast are scrambling to take the fright and the bite off the beach after piranhas sunk their teeth into about 100 beachgoers, UOL Noticias reported.

The problem -- rather fearsome given piranhas' horror-movie teeth and ability to sink them into human flesh -- has been the biggest at the main beach area in Piaui state; authorities said they need to act fast to reduce a piranha overpopulation situation.

Last weekend, at least 100 bathers were treated at the hospital in Jose de Freitas not far from Terezina, Piaui's capital, after being bitten on the heels or toes at the local beach.

"Since they have no predators, piranhas have started attacking people on the beach," said Romildo Mafra, a local environment official.

Environmental officials so far have added tilapia to the piranhas' local food chain hoping to quell some of the predators' hunger. Source

Article from Brazil>>>>>>

Libya's interim justice minister has said Lockerbie Bombing Case 'Is Closed' - 26th Sept 2011

Libya's interim justice minister has said the Lockerbie bombing case "is closed" following a request by British lawyers for help with their inquiries.

The Scottish Crown Office said on Monday afternoon that it had asked the newly-ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) to make available any evidence and witnesses.

A spokesman for the Scottish prosecutors said it accepted Megrahi "did not act alone".

It was hopeful recent political developments would mean Libya would now assist in further investigations.

But Mohammed al-Alagi told a news conference the case will remain closed.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in which 270 people were killed over Lockerbie, Scotland.

He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 and sent home to Libya.

It was believed that his advanced terminal prostate cancer meant he had just months to live.

However, he received a hero's welcome in Tripoli in scenes which angered many in the UK and the United States - home to most of the victims.

The 59-year-old is currently residing in Tripoli where he reportedly remains in very ill health. Source

103 Cases of Leptospirosis disease have been reported from various parts of Goa - 26th Sept 2011

Cases of Leptospirosis disease have been reported from various parts of Goa and neighbouring states. For the year 2011 till date, 1172 samples of suspected patients have been tested and of these 103 are positive for Leptospirosis, with 11 deaths said a press communiqué issued by .

Similarly, for the year 2010 total number of samples tested were 1818, of which 129 were positive with 8 deaths. These cases are scattered in and around the state, and not to be considered as an epidemic.

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Leptospirosis can be transmitted by many animals such as rats, skunks, opossums, raccoons, foxes, and other vermin. It is transmitted though contact with infected soil or water. The soil or water is contaminated with the waste products of an infected animal. People contract the disease by either ingesting contaminated food or water or by broken skin and mucous membrane (eyes, nose, sinuses, mouth) contact with the contaminated water or soil.

Meanwhile general public has been requested in the press communiqué to take following measures to protect from this disease avoid contact with Animal Urine, do not enter unused water ponds, do not dump garbage into water, do not enter water where garbage is dumped, cover any wound on the body with water-proof adhesive/bandage, before entering the contaminated water bodies, have bath after contact with the dirty water and proper hand wash after handling Domestic Animals, keep animal shelters clean, report any sick animal to the veterinary services and proper disposal of animal dead bodies by burning or deep burial. Source

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 26th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:30:36 UTC Monday 26th September 2011.

Time (JST)
Lat.
Long.
Depth Mag. Region
02:30 JST 27 Sep 11
36.8N 140.7E 20 km 4.0
Ibaraki
Ken - Hokubu

No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Christine Lagarde: IMF may need billions in extra funding -- Wait, so the IMF needs its own bailout now?

Christine Lagarde has signalled that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may have to tap its members – including Britain – for billions of pounds of extra funding to stem the European debt crisis.

The head of the IMF has warned that its $384bn (£248bn) war chest designed as an emergency bail-out fund is inadequate to deliver the scale of the support required by troubled states.

In a document distributed to the IMF steering committee at the weekend, Ms Lagarde said: "The fund's credibility, and hence effectiveness, rests on its perceived capacity to cope with worst-casescenarios. Our lending capacity of almost $400bn looks comfortable today, but pales in comparison with the potential financing needs of vulnerable countries and crisis bystanders."

The suggestion came after European officials revealed they were working on a radical plan to boost their own bail-out fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), from €440bn (£384bn) to around €3 trillion.

The plan to increase the EFSF firepower is the crucial part of a three-pronged strategy being designed by German and French authorities to stop the eurozone's debt crisis spiralling out of control. It also includes a large-scale recapitalisation of European banks and a plan for an "orderly" Greek default.

Although Britain is not involved in the large-scale eurozone bail-out projects, it is liable for 4.5pc of IMF funding. more

Cancer cost 'crisis' warning from oncologists

The cost of treating cancer in the developed world is spiralling and is "heading towards a crisis", an international team of researchers says.

Their Lancet Oncology report says there is a "culture of excess" with insufficient evidence about the "value" of new treatments and technologies.

It says the number of cancer patients and the cost of treating each one is increasing.

It argues for reducing the use and analysing the cost of cancer services.

About 12 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year. That figure is expected to reach 27 million by 2030.

The cost of new cancer cases is already estimated to be about £185bn ($286bn) a year.
Rising costs

A group of 37 leading experts from around the world say the burden of cancer is growing and becoming a major financial issue.

Their report says most developed countries dedicate between 4% and 7% of their healthcare budgets to dealing with cancer.

"The issue that concerns economists and policymakers is not just the amount of money spent on healthcare, but also the rate of increase in healthcare spending or what has become known as the cost curve."

It says the UK's total spend on breast cancer has increased by about 10% in each of the past four years.

"In general, increases in the cost of healthcare are driven by innovation. We spend more because we can do more to help patients."

For example, the number of cancer drugs available in the UK has risen from 35 in the 1970s to nearly 100, but the report warns they can be "exceedingly expensive".

It adds: "Few treatments or tests are clear clinical winners, with many falling into the category of substantial cost for limited benefit."

The cost of drugs is not the only target for criticism.

Lead author Prof Richard Sullivan told the BBC: "It's not just pharmaceuticals. Biomarkers, imaging and surgery are all getting through with very low levels of evidence - the hurdles are set too low." more

China's richest man Liang Wengen may join ruling elite: So long, communsim, hello facism

China's richest man is set to join the ruling Communist Party's Central Committee, media reports say.

If Liang Wengen, 55, is chosen by the party's 2012 congress, he will be the first entrepreneur to join the body, which in effect rules the country.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing says this would be a hugely symbolic shift in the party's view of business.

Construction magnate Mr Liang topped both the Forbes and Hurun rich lists with a wealth of more than $9bn (£6bn).

The media reports said he had completed a vetting procedure for the 300-strong body and was on track for approval by the congress in October next year.

Our correspondent says China's wealthy are increasingly being courted by the party, which only started allowing businessmen into its ranks a decade ago.

Mr Liang's company Sany, which manufactures cranes and excavators, has benefited in recent years from China's building boom. source

Syria unrest: 'Tanks bombard central town of al-Rastan'

Syrian tanks have bombarded a strategic town in the restive central province of Homs overnight, injuring three people, activists and residents say.

Troops fired with machine guns mounted on tanks in the town of al-Rastan on the main road north to Turkey.

Homs province is a major flashpoint in the seven-month conflict, with army defectors backing protesters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

More than 2,700 people have died in the crackdown, the UN says.

A resident of al-Rastan told Reuters news agency there were about 60 tanks and armoured vehicles to the east of the town.

Activists have reported an offensive on towns and villages in Homs province, where a large number of soldiers are said to have defected to the opposition.

Reports on Sunday said security forces killed 12 people in Qusseir, another town in the province. more

India floods situation worsens in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa

More than two million people have been affected by floods in India as torrential rains lash Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states.

Heavy monsoon rains have been battering parts of India for the past fortnight.

More than 80 people have died in flood-related incidents, and some areas have been cut off by rising waters.

Heavy rains in Uttar Pradesh (UP) have killed more than 30 people across the state. A flood alert has been issued in eight districts in Bihar.

In Orissa, the worst affected state, vast parts of 10 districts have been inundated by flood waters, officials say.

Special Relief Commissioner PK Mohapatra said 55 people had died - some drowned, while others died from snakebites and in wall collapses.

More than 10 people who had gone missing after the boat in which they were travelling overturned in the Brahmani river in Dhenkanal district were rescued on Monday, officials say.

Some areas have been cut off because of breaches to river banks and embankments. Helicopters are the only way to bring food and water to people stranded there.

Officials said that more than 130,000 in Orissa alone have been evacuated to safety as the relief and rescue operation moves into full swing. more

Greece faces more strikes as default looms

As the prospect of a disastrous debt default hung over Greece, the government faced more strikes and protests against its new austerity measures needed to appease the country's rescue creditors.

Athens commuters faced more misery as metro, tram and suburban rail workers were on a 24-hour strike, while buses and trolleys were to stop operating for several hours in the middle of the day. Airline passengers also faced delays as air traffic controllers implemented work-to-rule action, refusing to work overtime. A 48-hour strike by all transport workers is expected later this week.

Greek police held their own protest, with the force's Special Guards unit hanging a giant black banner from the top of Lycabettus Hill in the capital reading "Pay day, day of mourning." more

Alternatives to antibiotics for farm animals sought

The federal government is funding a team of 16 scientists to try to figure out how farmers can use fewer antibiotics in the chickens, pigs and cows Canadians eat.

Antibiotics are used in animal feed to prevent disease and promote growth.

In one experiment, scientists are replacing antibiotics with mixtures of antioxidants and probiotic bacteria. Other experiments include giving animals cranberry extract to treat intestinal necrosis, and trying essential oils as immune boosters.

Gabriel Piette, a researcher with Agriculture Canada who is involved in the experiment exploring alternatives to antibiotic use, told CBC-TV's Marketplace that the Treasury Board is spending $4 million on various projects across the country.

The research will wrap up in 2013.

The experiments on alternative treatments are revealed in a letter signed by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, and sent to members of the public who wrote letters of concern to the federal government after viewing a Marketplace episode about the overuse of antibiotics in chickens.

In that episode, Marketplace tested 100 samples of chicken from major grocery stores across Canada and found widespread contamination with superbugs — bacteria resistant to antibiotics crucial to human health. more

WikiLeaks uncovers Canadian detainee mystery: Mentally disabled man held in detention for 18 months in US-run Afghani prison

U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks have exposed a troubling case of a mentally ill Canadian-Egyptian held in a U.S.-run Afghanistan prison for more than 18 months.

Khaled Samy Abdallah Ismail, an Egyptian-born engineer, was captured in April 2006 and held at the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the cables say.

The American military held Ismail at Bagram — a prison dubbed the "other Guantanamo" — until at least October 2007 and often relegated him to segregation despite "largely circumstantial" evidence against him, while they debated whether to send him to Egypt or Canada. Ismail is the only known Canadian to be held in Bagram for that length of time.

Canadian consular officials paid their first visit to the dual citizen eight months after his capture, but another nine months passed before Canada suddenly refocused on the case and hatched a plan to bring him to Ontario, according to the cables from March and October of 2007.

Then the paper trail goes cold, shrouding his case in mystery and leaving unanswered questions about how he ended up in Afghanistan and what happened to him.

Through sources, court documents and the two leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, CBC News has pieced together a partial picture of Ismail's life in Canada and strange journey to war-torn Afghanistan. more

Oilsands pipeline protest on Parliament Hill: Canada

Hundreds of protesters flocked to Parliament Hill Monday to voice their displeasure with TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project, a $7-billion plan to ship crude oil from Alberta to Texas.

Protest organizer and Greenpeace Canada spokesman Peter McHugh promoted the event as "a historic mass act of civil disobedience over the tarsands," which also included members from the Council of Canadians.

As of 10:10 a.m., there were approximately 300 people at the protest, according to the CBC's Kathleen Hunt.

The civil disobedience was inspired by action in Washington, D.C., in late August where Canadian actress Margot Kidder and dozens of others were arrested.

Protesters, who signed up at a website called Ottawa Action, arrived around 10 a.m. for a sit-in around the Centennial Flame.

Dozens of RCMP officers and security guards are also patrolling Parliament Hill to prevent protesters from entering the Centre Block. more

'Tent city' still providing refuge for Whitehorse homeless: Canada

As workers suck up leaves covering the Yukon government building lawn and drain the sprinkler system before freeze-up, residents of Whitehorse's first 'tent city' are doing their best to fend off the bitter autumn winds.

The cluster of tents, some swaddled in tarps for extra protection, sprouted up right below the premier's office in June and slowly grew over the summer.

This week a travel trailer joined the collection.

Forty-seven-year-old Piroska Szucs and her boyfriend bought the trailer to park at tent city because they had nowhere else to go. Szucs works at a local restaurant while her boyfriend has a job at the remote Cantung mine, just across the Yukon border in the Northwest Territories.

Originally from Hungary, Szucs lived in London, Ont. before coming to the Yukon. She was shocked by the lack of affordable housing Whitehorse and the extent of homelessness.

She's not sure how long they'll camp beside the government building, but they bought a generator for the trailer so they'll have heat and power as the temperatures drop.

The encampment is a glaring example of the Yukon's housing crisis, an issue that's front and centre for all political parties during the territorial election campaign. more

Should all bullfighting be banned?

A sold-out crowd of nearly 20,000 recently gathered to see the last bullfight in Barcelona.

Though a bullfighting ban doesn't take effect until January 1, 2012, three of Spain's top matadors executed their final show for a Catalan audience on Sunday, September 25.

The Catalan government instituted the ban after a petition was circulated calling the sport barbaric.

The ban divided opinion in Catalan and the rest of Spain, as supporters of bullfighting likened it to the loss of a storied tradition.

"For a city like Barcelona to close this arena is like throwing a Picasso painting into the garbage," a fan at the final show told the AFP news agency.

Animal rights advocates would like to see the ban extend into the rest of mainland Spain, though they anticipate a tougher battle in areas like Madrid and Andalucia where a history of bullfighting permeates large parts of the culture. more

Putin once again seeks presidency, with possible negative outcomes says Gorbachev

Ex-USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned Russia risks wasting six years if PM Vladimir Putin returns to the presidency in March as expected.

Reacting to the news Mr Putin will run for office in 2012, Mr Gorbachev said Russia was at an "impasse" and that he doubted Mr Putin could bring change.

Mr Putin told a ruling United Russia party congress on Saturday he would stand again.

If he is elected, current President Dmitry Medvedev may replace him as PM.

Mr Putin served two terms as president before Mr Medvedev took over in 2008. He was barred by the constitution from running for a third consecutive term.

Mr Gorbachev said he hoped Mr Putin's move would provide an incentive for the leadership to get Russia out of the "impasse" it was in, but that this was unlikely as it was he who had created the current situation.

"We can assume that there will be no movement forward if there are not serious changes along the lines of a replacement of the entire system," he wrote in the opposition Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which he partly owns.

"Without this we could lose six years. I think that the future president needs to think about this very seriously." more

Virtual monkeys write Shakespeare (not quite)

A few million virtual monkeys are close to re-creating the complete works of Shakespeare by randomly mashing keys on virtual typewriters.

A running total of how well they are doing shows that the re-creation is 99.990% complete.

The first single work to be completed was the poem A Lover's Complaint.

Set up by US programmer Jesse Anderson the project co-ordinates the virtual monkeys sitting on Amazon's EC2 cloud computing system via a home PC.

Mr Anderson said he started the project as a way to get to know the Hadoop programming tool better and to put Amazon's web services to the test.

It is also a practical test of the thought experiment that wonders whether an infinite number of monkeys pounding on an infinite number of typewriters would be able to produce Shakespeare's works by accident.

Mr Anderson's virtual monkeys are small computer programs uploaded to Amazon servers. These coded apes regularly pump out random sequences of text.

Each sequence is nine characters long and each is checked to see if that string of characters appears anywhere in the works of Shakespeare. If not, it is discarded. If it does match then progress has been made towards re-creating the works of the Bard.

To get a sense of the scale of the project, there are about 5.5 trillion different combinations of any nine characters from the English alphabet. more

Dozens arrested in 8th day of 'Occupy Wall Street' protests

About 80 people were arrested on the eighth day of protests in New York on Saturday, the greatest number since demonstrations started near Wall Street.

Earlier arrests in the week totaled about 20 on previous days for similar charges, according to New York City Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne.

The latest arrests include disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and assaulting a police officer, according to Browne.

The protests started September 17 in lower Manhattan and are aimed at drawing attention to the role powerful financial interests played in America's spiraling economy.

"We've got a whole bunch of people sitting in Washington that can't figure it out," said organizer Bill Csapo.

The mission is for " 20,000 people to flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months," the official "Occupy Wall Street" website read.

By Saturday, the site had a series of updates on arrests, including the exact location of a police van holding arrestees. One was described as having a "very bad concussion, possibly life threatening" and urged participants to demand medicare care for those affected.

"It's just letting people know that it's going on," Csapo said on the website. "We need to call the police and tell them to let these people go." more