Monday, October 3, 2011

Amanda Knox heads back to the U.S. as murder conviction is quashed after four year Italian ordeal - 4th Oct 2011

Amanda Knox is today on her way back to the U.S. after an appeal court sensationally cleared her of murdering Meredith Kercher.

Staring ahead towards a lucrative future of million-dollar TV and book deals, Knox was spotted yesterday evening being driven away from Capanne Prison outside Perugia, four years after she was convicted of murder.

She is thought to have been reunited with her family in Perugia for the night before flying in the morning back to their home in Seattle.

Earlier her closest relatives had cried with joy and hugged in court as an Italian judge told her the prosecution had failed to prove she and her boyfriend killed 21-year-old British student Meredith.

There were screams in court as Knox burst into tears and hugged her parents Curt and Edda Mellas - as just feet away the family of Meredith Kercher could only look on in amazement.

Meanwhile, as the 24-year-old was escorted away a near riot erupted on the streets outside the courthouse in Perugia.

Her victorious defence team were surrounded by the mob who yelled: ‘Shame! Assassins! Justice has been sold down the river!’ Read More

Underground pipe leaking radioactive water beneath a nuclear power plant Hatch in Baxley, Georgia - 4th Oct 2011

Workers have identified an underground pipe leaking radioactive water beneath a nuclear power plant in Georgia.

Southern Co. spokeswoman Amoi Geter said Monday that workers were seeking to determine if that pipe below Plant Hatch in Baxley is the sole cause of a leak of radioactive tritium that was first discovered Wednesday.

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that is created inside nuclear reactors. So far, the utility and state environmental officials say the water containing tritium has not spread beyond a small area on the grounds of the nuclear power plant. They say it is not a threat to the public.

Southern Co. officials have said they hope to have the leak repaired early this week. Source

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake ROMANIA - 4th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Romania at a depth of 128.4 km (79.8 miles), the quake hit at 02:40:48 UTC Tuesday 4th October 2011.
The epicenter was 57 km ( 35 miles) NNW of Buzau, Romania
No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 4th Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck the Bonin Islands, Japan Region at a depth of 437.5 km (271.9 miles), the quake hit at 01:37:27 UTC Tuesday 4th October 2011.
The epicenter was 177 km ( 109 miles) West of Chichi-Shima, Bonin Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake WEST CHILE RISE - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the West Chile Rise at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:22:12 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 670 km ( 416 miles) WSW of Castro, Los Lagos, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake BERMUDA REGION - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Bermuda Region at a depth of 14.9 km (9.3 miles), the quake hit at 22:36:30 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011
The epicenter was 131 km ( 81 miles)South of Hamilton, Bermuda
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake BERMUDA REGION - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Bermuda Region at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 22:18:04 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 131 km ( 81 miles) SSW of Hamilton, Bermuda
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SUMBA REGION, INDONESIA - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Sumba Region, Indonesia at a depth of 69.9 km (43.4 miles), the quake hit at 22:08:05 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 41 km ( 25 miles) North of Waingapu, Sumba, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Police Hunt 'Dangerous' Men Hiding In UK - 4th Oct 2011

Ndrieim Sadushi, Wojciech Glowacki and Dariusz Glowacki

Murderers, rapists and robbers are among more than a dozen "dangerous" men wanted abroad and thought to be hiding in the UK.

One suspect is wanted for three murders, while two are brothers who police believe raped a young girl.

Another one of the 14 men being hunted as part of Operation Sunfire is said to have cut the throat of his victim with a beer bottle.

Det Sgt Pete Rance, of Scotland Yard's extradition squad, said: "We are hoping the public's vigilance can help us trace these men.

"They are dangerous and not to be approached. Read More

Details and images of all 14 of those wanted can be found at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

'US budget cuts won't affect military aid to Israel' -- Yay.

White House, Congress officials clarify that financial crisis won't affect aid; "Obama authorized sale of bunker bombs to Israel," 'Newsweek' reports.

Senior US officials clarified during a series of meetings with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz Washington has no intention of downsizing military aid to Israel, despite the drastic cuts in the US budget, according to a Finance Ministry statement Friday.

Steinitz met with the senior White House and Congress officials in Washington, where he was attending an International Monetary Fund conference, during which he was expected to meet with finance ministers from all over the world.

The announcement comes as a report said that US President Barack Obama secretly authorized significant new aid to the IDF in 2009, including the sale of 55 deep-penetrating bombs known as bunker busters.

The GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators were delivered to Israel in 2009, according to American weekly magazine Newsweek.

According to the report, the military sale was arranged behind the scenes when political ties were tense as Obama tried to stop settlement building in the West Bank. more

Russia pins hopes on its Arctic riches: Coming conflict with other nations? Environmental disaster ahead?

An international forum, devoted to exploring the Arctic, in now under way in the city of Archangelsk in Russia’s north. The forum is named “The Arctic – a Territory of a Dialogue”.

Among the participants, there are Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Iceland’s President Olafur Grimsson and the Chairman of the Arctic Council Gustaf Lind.

Most of the forum’s participants agree that in the near future, the way over the Arctic Ocean will become one of the world’s major trade routes. However, they also agree that, while exploring the Arctic, people must be very careful not to damage its unique nature.

It is not for nothing that Archangelsk was chosen as the site of the forum. This city lays in the entry of the Northern Dvina River, which falls into the White Sea. This may make Arkhangelsk, among other Russian northern cities, an important port on this international route via the Arctic Ocean.

The way through the Arctic Ocean is the shortest way between Europe and Asia, shorter than the traditional southern routes by one third. It would be profitable for all if it becomes a constant international trade route which would link northern countries. more

NASA Video: The shrinking Artic Ice

US lawmakers target China with new currency bill

US senators unveiled legislation to punish China over its alleged currency manipulation, promising angry American voters to put an end to Beijing's "economic murder" of US jobs.

The measure aims to make it harder for the US Treasury Department to avoid labeling Beijing a currency cheat, triggering various sanctions, while making it easier for US companies to seek retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods.

China's leaders "get away with economic murder" by keeping the yuan, and thereby the country's exports, artificially cheap, charged Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, a key backer of the bill and similar efforts in past years.

Schumer, his party's number three in the Senate, said US President Barack Obama opposed the measure but predicted "China will change its own behavior once this bill passes the Senate" in a vote expected in October.

The bill, which had support from several Republicans, would empower US businesses and, in some cases, labor unions to trigger a US Commerce Department investigation into alleged currency manipulation.

It also rewrites the law to make it harder for the US Treasury Department to stop short of declaring China a currency manipulator and makes manipulation punishable with countervailing duties on the offending country's goods. more

BRICS to save the markets?

U.S. to provide drones to Turkey in fight against Kurdish rebels

The United States has agreed in principle to deploy U.S. Predator drones on Turkish soil to aid in the fight against Kurdish separatist rebels, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said.

The U.S. military flies unarmed surveillance Predators based in Iraq and shares images and vital intelligence with Turkey to aid Ankara as it battles Kurdish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels who have camps in northern Iraq.

Erdogan, speaking to reporters in New York on Friday where he attended a U.N. General Assembly, said Turkey has offered to buy or lease the drones and that details are being worked out.

U.S. troops are due to leave Iraq at the end of 2011. Turkish officials have expressed concern the PKK, which has bases in northern Iraq, might exploit any security vacuum left by the departure of the U.S. military from Iraq.

Security experts say Turkey is very dependent on the Predators and other spy aircraft in its fight against the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Turkey, a NATO ally for the United States, agreed earlier this month to host a NATO early-warning radar system as part of the defenses of the Western military alliance. more

North Koreans eye aid in rare trip to Ankara, Turkey

With North Korea suffering from a famine, a Foreign Ministry delegation from that country has asked Ankara for humanitarian aid during a secret visit. Turkish organizations, however, are refraining from providing North Korea ‘multiple-use food,’ i.e. anything that could be used by the North Korean military.

A senior North Korean delegation visited Ankara secretly earlier this month mainly to seek humanitarian relief aid on an extremely rare visit marking the second such contact in 10 years, a source familiar with the event said Friday.

The three-man North Korean delegation came on Sept. 7 and 8, the source said, adding that the visit was requested by the North Korean Foreign Ministry and the delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Kung Seok-Woong.

The team met with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials and a Turkish non-governmental organization specialized in foreign aid, one diplomatic source said. In addition to asking for aid, the team gave information about North Korea’s policy on nuclear weapons.

North Korea presently is suffering from a strong famine affecting the nation, and the Turkish non-governmental organization agreed to send baby food to North Korea. Along with several other Western nations, Turkey refuses to send general-purpose food, like rice, fearing that the military will take it in accordance with the country’s “military first” campaign. more

What Caused the Recession of 1937-38?

The swift policy response to the recent financial crisis helped the world economy avoid a replay of the Great Depression of 1929-32. But can we avoid a replay of 1937-38? With the world economy weakening once again, this column addresses the question with a renewed urgency and comes up with an oft-overlooked explanation – the Treasury Department’s decision to sterilise all gold inflows starting in December 1936.

The recession of 1937-38 is sometimes called “the recession within the Depression.” It came at a time when the recovery from the Great Depression was far from complete and the unemployment rate was still very high. In fact, it was a disastrous setback to the recovery. Real GDP fell 11% and industrial production fell 32%, making it the third-worst US recession in the 20th century (after 1929-32 and 1920-21).

The recession is often attributed to a tightening of fiscal and monetary policy. Christina Romer (2009) and others have argued that it is relevant to today’s situation because it illustrates the dangers of a premature withdrawal of stimulus when the economy is still weak.

But the recession remains somewhat of a mystery because the two most frequently mentioned causes – the reduction in the fiscal deficit and the Federal Reserve’s decision to double reserve requirements – do not appear to have been powerful enough to generate a recession of the magnitude seen. For example, Romer (1992) herself has argued that “it would be very difficult” to attribute much of the decline in output to changes in fiscal policy.1 And most studies of the Fed’s doubling of reserve requirements – most recently, Calomiris et al (2011) – have concluded that it had little impact on banks because they held abundant excess reserves, which they did not seek to rebuild after the new requirements took effect. more

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner blasts China for 'systematically stealing' US intellectual property

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has accused China of “systematically stealing” American companies’ intellectual property in an unusually blunt attack.

“They have made possible systematic stealing of intellectual property of American companies and have not been very aggressive to put in place the basic protections,” Mr Geither said on Friday at a conference in the US capital, where finance chiefs from the G20 countries are meeting this weekend.

The directness of Mr Geithner’s comments reflect the administration’s rising frustration with some of China’s politics, as well as the pressure Congress is exerting on the White House to act on the issue.

Earlier this week, Gary Locke, the US Ambassador in China, told an audience in Beijing that the Chinese government must accelerate its reforms. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in turn, said this month that the country has reformed enough to merit “market economy status” under World Trade Organisation rules.

Mr Geithner said China’s approach was “you want to sell to our country, we want you to come produce here. If you want to come produce here, you need to transfer your technology to us.”

With the US and several European economies coming close to recession again, policy­makers, including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, have warned of the dangers of protectionism as countries battle for a share of a shrinking pie. more

Jim Rogers: The next global recession will be worse than 2008

AWOL and Hungry Soldiers Making Trouble

The North Korean authorities have stepped up attempts to stop soldiers in and around Hyesan from going AWOL and stealing from local people to supplement their increasingly inadequate rations, according to information provided by a source yesterday.

The source from the Yangkang Province capital told The Daily NK, “They are hungry and the weather is getting colder, and so the number of soldiers deserting their posts is rising. Therefore, Military Police (MPs) have been stationed here and there on the streets to deal with it. They work from 8AM to 7PM, checking the identification documents of soldiers coming and going one by one.”

“In particular, a lot of soldiers from the Driver Training School under Area Command in Gapsan are going AWOL,” the source also claimed, adding, “They are going to local houses stealing from them and attacking passers-by.”

“There have been many incidents (muggings and robberies) around the rarely-frequented ‘Ollokgul’ (a railway tunnel next to the Yalu River) between Hyesan and Weeyeon, so they decided to focus the crackdown there and MP soldiers are doing so now,” the source added. Due to its location, Ollokgul has long been a place known for muggings and robberies. A necessary part of transit through the area, it is dark and inhospitable, a perfect place for such crimes.

Meanwhile, the fundamental cause of the rising number of soldiers leaving their posts is a fundamental lack of state distribution to the military. The Chosun People’s Army is supposed to provide soldiers with 800g of food per day. However, that has reportedly shrunk to only around 540g, while the quality of side dishes has dropped drastically too, to just salted radish. more

Greece on Edge of Biggest Insolvency 24 Centuries After First City Default

History’s first sovereign default came in the 4th century BC, committed by 10 Greek municipalities. There was one creditor: the temple of Delos, Apollo’s mythical birthplace.

Twenty-four centuries later, Greece is at the edge of the biggest sovereign default and policy makers are worried about global shock waves of an insolvency by a government with 353 billion euros ($483 billion) of debt -- five times the size of Argentina’s $95 billion default in 2001.

“There is a monstrously large amount of uncertainty and a massive range of possibilities,” said David Mackie, chief European economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in London. “A macroeconomic disaster could be averted but only by aggressive policy action” by central banks and governments, he said.

After two international-bailout deals, three years of recession and budget-cutting votes that almost cost him his job, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou says throwing in the towel now would be a “catastrophe.” Potential consequences of a national bankruptcy include the failure of the country’s banking system, an even deeper economic contraction and government collapse.

The fallout may echo the days following the 2008 implosion of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. when credit markets froze and the global economy sank into recession, this time with the prospect that the 17-nation euro zone splinters before reaching its teens. The International Monetary Fund, whose annual meetings start in Washington today, reckons the debt crisis has generated as much as 300 billion euros in credit risk for European banks. more

Five Banks Account For 96% Of The $250 Trillion In Outstanding US Derivative Exposure; Is Morgan Stanley Sitting On An FX Derivative Time Bomb?

The latest quarterly report from the Office Of the Currency Comptroller is out and as usual it presents in a crisp, clear and very much glaring format the fact that the top 4 banks in the US now account for a massively disproportionate amount of the derivative risk in the financial system. Specifically, of the $250 trillion in gross notional amount of derivative contracts outstanding (consisting of Interest Rate, FX, Equity Contracts, Commodity and CDS) among the Top 25 commercial banks (a number that swells to $333 trillion when looking at the Top 25 Bank Holding Companies), a mere 5 banks (and really 4) account for 95.9% of all derivative exposure (HSBC replaced Wells as the Top 5th bank, which at $3.9 trillion in derivative exposure is a distant place from #4 Goldman with $47.7 trillion). The top 4 banks: JPM with $78.1 trillion in exposure, Citi with $56 trillion, Bank of America with $53 trillion and Goldman with $48 trillion, account for 94.4% of total exposure.

As historically has been the case, the bulk of consolidated exposure is in Interest Rate swaps ($204.6 trillion), followed by FX ($26.5TR), CDS ($15.2 trillion), and Equity and Commodity with $1.6 and $1.4 trillion, respectively. And that's your definition of Too Big To Fail right there: the biggest banks are not only getting bigger, but their risk exposure is now at a new all time high and up $5.3 trillion from Q1 as they have to risk ever more in the derivatives market to generate that incremental penny of return. more

"Trigger" Defense Cuts, Cue Apocalypse

American War Machine with Peter Dale Scott

PART ONE:



PART TWO:

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito CLEARED OF MURDER AND WALK FREE

This evening Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito walk free as the judgement is overturned for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Amanda Knox was found guilty of Slander against the police for which she received 3 years in Jail (already served) She also has to pay compensation to Patrick Lumumba

Cries of joy rang around the courtroom with little consideration for the Kercher Family, may they find peace.

Two more decapitated Heads Found in Mexican Capital - 3rd Oct 2011

Authorities found two decapitated heads along a highway in Mexico City on Monday morning, the city prosecutor's office said.

The heads were near the border dividing the city from neighboring Mexico state, the attorney general's office said.

Police searched the area for bodies Monday.

One head was on the roof of a pickup truck and the other was on a sidewalk, the prosecutor's office said. Messages left nearby mentioned drug gangs, authorities said.

Last week authorities in the beach resort city of Acapulco made a similar discovery, finding five severed human heads inside a small wooden crate, Guerrero state authorities said.

Beheadings have become a signature sign of the brutally violent turf battles between drug cartels that have plagued cities across Mexico. But such violence is rare in the country's capital. Read More

Roseanne Barr: Behead Bankers, Rich Who Won't Give Up Wealth

Actress, comedienne and now author Roseanne Barr shares her solution for dealing with the rich and how the banks could repay the money the U.S. government bailed them out with in 2008.

"Part of my platform is, of course, the guilty must be punished and that we no longer let our children see their guilty leaders getting away with murder. Because it teaches children, you know, that they don't have to have any morals as long as they have guns and are bullies and I don't think that's a good message," Barr told Russia Today (RT).

"I do say that I am in favor of the return of the guillotine and that is for the worst of the worst of the guilty.

"I first would allow the guilty bankers to pay, you know, the ability to pay back anything over $100 million [of] personal wealth because I believe in a maximum wage of $100 million. And if they are unable to live on that amount of that amount then they should, you know, go to the reeducation camps and if that doesn't help, then being beheaded," Barr said with a straight face. source

Reasonable.

Man uses bow and arrow in road rage incident

One man was arrested over the weekend for threatening another man with a bow and arrow during an apparent road rage incident in Montcalm County.

Sheriff's deputies say that the incident began Saturday evening on Vickeryville Road near Tamarack Road. A 24-year-old Vestaburg man attempted to pass a 23-year-old Shepherrd man, but the Shepherd man swerved toward the passing driver causing him to run off the road. At the corner of Vickeryville and Tamarack Road, both drivers left their vehicles and began arguing.

During the argument, the Shepherd man retrieved a bow from his pickup truck, loaded it with a mechanical broadhead (hunting tip) arrow, pulled the bow back at full draw and came back at the Vestaburg man. He retreated to his vehicle, left the scene and called police. Sheriff's deputies later found the suspect and he has been arrested for felonious assault.

No one was injured and names are being withheld until after arraignment. source

Mental hospital wants to release failed Reagan assassin John Hinckley Jr.

The government mental hospital where John Hinckley Jr. has spent most of the last 30 years since he shot and tried to kill President Ronald Reagan is asking a federal court to allow Hinckley's eventual release to live with or near his aging mother in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The prosecution, in its own filing with the court on Friday, described Hinckley as "a man capable of great violence" and said his mental condition has not improved to the point of eliminating concerns "that this violence may be repeated."

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman has scheduled up to a week of court hearings on the issue to start November 28, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Hinckley is now 56. He was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in 1982 after a jury found him innocent by reason of insanity in the shooting of President Reagan and three others, including the president's severely wounded press secretary, James Brady.

The hospital's lawyers and doctors filed their motion under seal, withheld from the public, when they asked at the end of this past July that Hinckley eventually be placed on "convalescent leave."

But government lawyers quoted the hospital's proposal, making it part of the court's public record, in their response Friday in opposing his release. more

Police On Alert As String Of Hotel Robberies Grows



Police across the metro area are investigating a string of hotel robberies.

There have been 11 robberies in the past month. The latest, like the others, was captured on surveillance video. It happened Thursday night in Westminster at the Comfort Inn at Highway 35 and Sheridan.

When the masked gunman held up the hotel, he jumped the front counter and ripped the camera off the wall. But he didn’t realize that cameras were everywhere at that particular Comfort Inn, including outside..

“We think he came in on foot,” Trevor Materasso with Westminster police said. more

Dozens arrested after foreclosure protesters target Bank of America

Police have arrested two dozen protesters for trespassing during a demonstration against Bank of America’s foreclosure practices at the banking giant’s offices in downtown Boston.

The Boston Herald reports that the event was an act of civil disobedience that the organizers intended to send the message that the lender’s practices were unfair.

'They wanted to be arrested, and we obliged,' Boston police Commissioner Edward F. Davis told the newspaper. more

Reports of Hispanic Students Vanishing From Alabama Schools After Immigration Ruling

Hispanic students have started vanishing from Alabama public schools in the wake of a court ruling that upheld the state's tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

Education officials say scores of immigrant families have withdrawn their children from classes or kept them home this week, afraid that sending the kids to school would draw attention from authorities.

There are no precise statewide numbers. But several districts with large immigrant enrollments -- from small towns to large urban districts -- reported a sudden exodus of children of Hispanic parents, some of whom told officials they planned to leave the state to avoid trouble with the law, which requires schools to check students' immigration status.

The anxiety has become so intense that the superintendent in one of the state's largest cities, Huntsville, went on a Spanish-language television show Thursday to try to calm widespread worries.

"In the case of this law, our students do not have anything to fear," Casey Wardynski said in halting Spanish. He urged families to send students to class and explained that the state is only trying to compile statistics. more

Hundreds of peaceful protesters arrested on Wall Street, including 13 year old child and even a journalist for the New York Times: Police State here?

Occcupy Wall Street soldiers on: "Signs of our times"

South Korea’s debt risks rise on global woes

South Korea’s sovereign default risks went up last week as the Korean won and the main stock index confronted a selling spree amid growing concerns over the country’s wobbly financial market battered by the deepening fiscal crisis in Europe.

The spread on credit default swaps, or CDS, for South Korea closed at 202 basis points on Friday, a level higher than France’s 197 basis points.

Although it’s arguably premature to conclude that Korea’s financial market is in worse shape than France’s based on CDS premium data only, the country’s financial authorities and investors alike appeared deeply concerned on Friday over the recent events that shook the country’s stock, bond and foreign exchange markets.

The CDS premium, the cost of insuring Korea’s sovereign debt against default, hit 206 basis points on Thursday, a 28-month high, before gaining a bit to close at 202 basis points last week. A basis point is 0.01 percentage points.

France is also struggling with higher CDS premiums after the European nation saw credit rating cuts of its two major lenders, Credit Agricole SA and Societe Generale SA.

The sovereign debt woes in Europe have been affecting Korea’s financial market. In August alone, European funds withdrew a total 4.7 trillion won (US$4 billion) from Korea’s stock and bond markets. They cashed out an additional 1.7 trillion won from September 1-20 while European policymakers failed to contain the crisis, according to the Financial Supervisory Service data.

The Korean won tumbled 4.7 per cent last week, ending at 1,166.0 won against the US dollar. On Friday, the won gained 13.80 won, thanks largely to a major intervention by the country’s financial authorities. more

Chinese army targets students in modernisation push

China's People's Liberation Army is on a major charm offensive to attract a booming student population as the world's biggest fighting force targets the skills its needs to modernise.

The 2.3 million-strong PLA saw a budget increase of 12.7 percent to around $90 billion in 2011, according to official figures, and Beijing has said the extra funds will be channelled primarily into modernising ageing technology.

"Modernisation involves two main challenges: mechanisation and computerisation", said senior colonel Geng Yansheng -- chief press officer for China's defence ministry.

"It's about going from a quantitative army to a qualitative one, going from high human density to high technological density," he said, referring to a process that started in the 1990s.

As the number of graduates in China grows -- up from 3.38 million in 2005 to 6.3 million in 2010, according to colonel Jiang Jiping, in charge of recruitment -- they represent a rich source of talent.

"The army is looking to recruit students in order to adapt to the needs of modernisation and take account of the cultural changes among young people", Jiang told members of the French Association of Defence Journalists.

What they "bring to the modernisation of the army is very visible", he said. more

Just smile! Anti-nuclear demonstrators demand plant in Tokyo to demonstrate sincerity about nuclear safety

Dozens of demonstrators rallied in Tokyo on Sunday, challenging Japanese authorities to build an atomic power plant in the capital to demonstrate their sincerity about nuclear safety.

About 50 anti-nuclear power demonstrators shouted: "Let's build a nuclear power plant in Tokyo!"

"If they are not lying about nuclear safety, they might as well bring a nuclear power plant to Tokyo, right?" said organiser Angelo De Rosa, a 45-year-old Italian language teacher based in Tokyo.

"In this rally, I also want to question if the government has provided people correct information on nuclear safety."

The rally came a week after tens of thousands held one of the biggest anti-nuclear demonstrations in Tokyo, calling for an end to nuclear energy after the March 11 disaster sparked the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl.

Demonstrators at Sunday's rally carried banners showing remarks of authorities, politicians and professors that organisers said promoted nuclear power.

The crowds also mocked several politicians and scientists, including a Fukushima Medical University professor who reportedly said that radiation does not affect people who smile. more

Ahmadinejad calls for western navies to leave Gulf

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday called on NATO naval forces to withdraw from the Gulf, calling them a threat to security.

Ahmadinejad was asked about the potential for conflict in the Gulf at the final press conference of his trip to New York for the annual UN General Assembly.

"Any tool that can prevent clashes and potential conflict will be welcome. And I don't think there is any need for confrontation," he said.

"But I think the best long term solution to this problem is for the foreign forces to leave the Persian Gulf. There is no need in the Persian Gulf for the presence of the NATO forces," the Iranian leader told journalists.

Iran is in a mounting diplomatic conflict with western nations over its nuclear program. The west accuses Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb. Ahmadinejad denies his country is trying to build an atomic weapon.

The United States and European navies have stepped up their presence in the Gulf in recent years. The United States has a naval base in Bahrain and France opened a base in Abu Dhabi, within 250 kilometers (155 miles) of Iran's coastline, in 2009.

"The nations of the region are fully capable of establishing and providing their own security," said Ahmadinejad. more

Flammable gas detected in Fukushima pipe: TEPCO

Flammable gas has been detected inside a pipe linked to a nuclear reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima atomic power plant, its operator said Saturday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) was unable to identify the gas but nonetheless said it was unlikely there would be an explosion in the reactor.

The company has been injecting nitrogen into the reactor so that the level of oxygen inside becomes low enough to prevent blasts.

But a TEPCO spokesman said workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant measured a 100-percent flammable gas in a pipe connected to the power station's reactor number one.

"It is not clear exactly where and how this gas was created," the spokesman told AFP. "We are considering ways to deal with it.

"It is likely that we will continue the survey the gas to identify it and use nitrogen to bring its level low enough" to avoid explosions, he said.

There were explosions at the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant after they went into meltdown following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which hit its cooling systems.

In the world's worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl, the Fukushima plant has since sent radiation into the air and sea, forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate and consumers to avoid food from the region. more

US sold bunker-busting bombs to Israel: report

President Barack Obama secretly authorized the sale of 55 powerful bunker-busting bombs to Israel, Newsweek magazine reported Friday.

Israel first asked to buy deep-penetrating GBU-28 bombs in 2005, but were rebuffed by then-president George W. Bush. At the time the Pentagon had frozen joint US-Israeli defense projects, fearful that Israel was transferring advanced military technology to China, Newsweek said.

However in 2007 Bush informed then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert that the bombs would be ready for delivery in 2009 or 2010, even though the Israelis wanted them immediately.

Obama released the bombs in 2009, the magazine reports, citing unnamed officials familiar with the still-secret decision.

Newsweek, citing unnamed US and Israeli officials, said in its online edition that Israel has developed its own bunker-buster technology, but that it was cheaper to buy the US weapons.

The 2,000-pound bombs are designed to destroy hardened targets, which could be used to strike Iranian nuclear sites. more

Russian military might worries region: Estonian general

A rise in Russia's military operations in the Baltic Sea region is cause for concern among Baltic states Finland, Sweden and Poland, Estonia's military chief said.

"Russia has significantly increased its military presence in the western region (Baltic) and has created a new west strategic command that is -- to believe its own military head -- much more powerful than was the Leningrad military district," General Ants Laaneots, head of Estonia's defence forces, said in an interview on Estonia's public ETV website Friday.

"This is causing worries in Finland, Sweden, Baltic State and Poland," Laaneots said.

Ex-communist Poland became a NATO member in 1999 while the three ex-Soviet Baltic states joined in 2004. Neutral Finland and Sweden remain outside the Western military alliance.

"Russia has carried out military exercises all summer. What has alarmed me quite a lot is that they strongly emphasize cooperation between various types of military forces and command staffs," he observed.

"In August, they had 2,000 communication soldiers testing and practicing cooperation between their communication systems," Laaneots added. more

Flying microrobot takes steps toward full autonomy (Cue Terminator theme music)

With the goal of designing an insect-inspired flying microrobot capable of sustained autonomous flight, researchers have demonstrated for the first time a microrobot that achieves vertical flight using closed-loop control. The researchers predict that the approach they use for controlling flight on this one axis could also be used for controlling flight on all three axes.

The team of researchers, Dr. Néstor Pérez-Arancibia, Kevin Ma, Dr. Kevin Galloway, Jack Greenberg, and Prof. Robert Wood from the Harvard Microrobotics Lab at Harvard University, has published their study on the first controlled vertical flight of a biologically inspired microrobot in a recent issue of Bioinspiration & Biomimetics. The methods they used could provide a key step toward developing completely autonomous flying microrobots.

“Basically, a fully autonomous flying microrobot would do similar things to what natural bees and flies can do: take off, land, and navigate through difficult environments,” Pérez-Arancibia told PhysOrg.com. “In the long term, I can also envision microrobots that can adapt to their environments, coordinate with other robots to accomplish difficult tasks, and interact with natural insects (this would be very cool, I think).”

As the researchers explained in their study, designing a microrobot with total autonomy is a complex problem for which aerodynamics, sensing, actuators, and other factors must be considered simultaneously. To tackle the problem, the researchers focused on just one degree of freedom: altitude. more

Russia believes US, Israel behind Iran worm attack: official

Russia believes Israel and the United States were responsible for unleashing the malicious Stuxnet computer worm on Iran's nuclear programme last year, a top official said Friday.

"We are seeing attempts of cyberspace being used by some states to act against others -- of it being used for political-military purposes," said the foreign ministry's emerging challenges and threats department chief Ilya Rogachyov.

"The only case in which experts believe the actions of states have been proven in this area ... is the Stuxnet system that was launched in 2010 against the centrifuge control system used to enrich uranium in Iran," he said.

"Experts believe that traces of this lead back to the actions of Israel and the United States," Rogachyov told reporters. "This is the only proven case of actual cyber-warfare."

Most of the Stuxnet infections have been discovered in Iran, giving rise to speculation it was intended to sabotage nuclear facilities there. The worm was crafted to recognize the system it was to attack.

Tehran has also blamed Israel and the United States for the killing of two of its nuclear scientists in November and January.

Russia picked up the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant from Germany in the 1990s and the unit was hooked up to the power grid system for the first time this month.

Worried by the rapid rise of advanced technology, Moscow has spent several years pushing the United Nations into adopting new guiding principles for the Internet age that prohibit countries from engaging in so-called cyber-warfare. more

Bill Clinton: World must prepare for climate refugees

Some of the most dramatic impacts of climate change will be felt by the millions of people who will be forced to leave their homes: Climate refugees will flee island nations rendered inhospitable by rising sea levels, arid regions increasingly wracked by drought, and wet, low-lying areas that grow ever more prone to flooding.

The international system that currently works to find refugees new homes will likely be overloaded as this occurs -- we won't be able to deal with so many mass exoduses at once. That's why Bill Clinton thinks we need to overhaul the current system to deal with climate refugees.

At a roundtable meeting with Clinton and a handful of other writers as part of the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative, I asked the 42nd President what he thought of current refugee policy in the face of our changing climate.

"I think that you have to assume that because of climate change, there are going be a lot more refugees," Clinton said.

"And that the laws which exist, and the systems of support that exist, not just the US but elsewhere, were basically built for a different time when you might have a surge of refugees from this country or a surge from that country, because of a particular political upheaval or a particular natural disaster. And that's almost certainly going to not work now." more

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake TARAPACA, CHILE - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Tarapaca, Chile at a depth of 90.5 km (56.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:35:52 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 123 km ( 76 miles) East of Iquique, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Honeybee apocalypse: Up to 12 million bees found dead and dying in Florida and no one knows why - 3rd Oct 2011

Honeybee carcasses coated the ground around hundreds of Florida beehives after a mysterious massacre claimed millions of bees and mutilated a way of life for local bee keepers.

Experts have ruled out 'colony collapse disorder' and the bee keepers suspect that their bees were poisoned with pesticide. Florida agriculture officials and the local sheriff's office are both investigating.

No one can tell yet what killed as many as 12 million bees from 800 hives this week in Brevard County, on central Florida's Atlantic coast.

The massive bee die-off has stung Charles Smith, whose Smith Family Honey Company lost $150,000 worth of bees.

'I'm a pretty tough guy but it is heart wrenching,' he told News 13 in Orlando. 'Not only is it a monetary loss here, but we work really hard on these bees to keep them in good health.'

Smith scooped up handfuls of dead bees that littered the ground around his hives. The bees he raises go to farmers around the country to pollinate numerous crops, he said. Read More

Don Lapre 'commits suicide' in prison just two days before $52m fraud trial - 3rd Oct 2011

A renowned TV pitchman who allegedly defrauded at least 220,000 people of nearly $52million is believed to have committed suicide in jail.

Don Lapre, 47, of Phoenix, Arizona, was charged with running a nationwide scheme to sell essentially worthless Internet-based businesses.

The father-of-two was found dead in his prison cell in Florence, Arizona, on Sunday - just two days before his trial was due to begin on Tuesday.

The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed he died in an apparent suicide while in federal custody but the death remains under investigation.

However there was a 'large amount of blood' in the cell where he was found and so it appears he cut himself, law enforcement sources told TMZ.

A grand jury had indicted him in June on 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and promotional money laundering. Read More

Eighteen passengers injured as two flights experience 'extreme turbulence' after flying through tail end of hurricane in Boston - 3rd Oct 2011

Passengers from two flights were taken to hospital with head, back and neck injuries and burns last night after the aircraft they were on suffered extreme turbulence.

The two commercial aircraft landed in Boston after 18 passengers sustained injuries while in the sky.

A Lufthansa flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Munich was diverted to Boston after it experienced problems when it flew through the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia. Read More

Turbulence causes injuries on 2 flights at Logan Airport: MyFoxBOSTON.com


4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Offshore Bio-Bio Chile at a depth of 31 km (18.9 miles), the quake hit at 16:03:18 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 31 km ( 18.9 miles) West of Talcahuano, Bio-Bio, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Police accused of luring Brooklyn Bridge protesters into trap before arresting 700 as Occupy Wall Street demonstrations go global - 3rd Oct 2011

New York police are today facing fresh accusations they entrapped and intimidated demonstrators during the Brooklyn Bridge storm at the weekend.

Protesters allege police allowed them onto a road reserved for vehicles and were then able to round up as many as possible, arresting 700. Meanwhile major U.S. cities are bracing themselves for more protests against corporate America as the Occupy Wall Street campaign enters its third week.

Protesters in the ever-growing movement are dressing as corporate zombies in New York and greeting Wall Street workers as they head into the office. A police brutality protest is planned after the 700 people were arrested this weekend for blocking Brooklyn Bridge traffic in the unauthorised protest.

The demonstrations, which began in New York two weeks ago, have already spread to Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Seattle. The arrests of 700 people have only strengthened the resolve of protesters in New York, who have been camped out for the past fortnight and held mass gatherings.

It’s all been sparked by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has seen thousands of protesters camped out in New York's Financial District for the past fortnight and mass gatherings started nationwide, with the unified purpose of voicing anger at the U.S. banking and political systems. Read More

Pennsylvania Bear Attack: Couple attacked by black bear that wandered into their home - 3rd Oct 2011

A bear attacked a couple inside their central Pennsylvania home, sending both people to a hospital.

According to Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser the couple's dog was chased inside the house by the bear, who followed shortly after.

The attack happened Monday morning in Oliver Township.

Feaser says the man inside the home was scratched and bitten and a woman was attacked as she tried to chase the animal away.

Emergency dispatchers say both were taken to Harrisburg Hospital with unspecified injuries.

State police in Newport directed inquiries to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Oliver Township is near Newport in largely rural Perry County, about 20 miles northwest of Harrisburg.

Last June another woman was also attacked by a bear in the same area.

After spotting the animal she ran away and played dead. The bear then attacked her leg. Read More

Dramatic rescue of boy, 16, trapped up to his waist in mud while the tides rushes in - 3rd Oct 2011

A teenager is lucky to be alive after becoming trapped waist-deep in sand as he went to rescue two children from the rising tide.

The 16-year-old boy had waded out to reach two younger members of his family off Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, Cleveland, when he began to sink in soft sand and his foot became stuck under a rock.

He then remained there - stuck up to his waist with the tide coming in - for an hour and 15 minutes as a huge rescue operation was launched.

Family members had tried to help him escape but with the tide coming in fast, emergency services were called.

After coastguards and fire officers managed to work the youngster out of the sands he was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.

The teenager escaped without serious injuries, but was treated for mild hypothermia. Read More

Baby found wrapped in a Union Jack towel and dumped in a stream - 3rd Oct 2011

The badly decomposed body of a baby girl wrapped in a Union Jack bath towel and abandoned in a stream may have been there for up to a month, police said.

Tests showed the infant had probably been in the water in Kirkham, Lancashire for between two and four weeks.

Detectives believe the badly decomposed body is that of a full-term white girl.

The alarm was raised on Saturday afternoon when a dog walker found the child in fields in a rural location about half a mile from the town centre.

The officer leading the investigation said he could not rule out foul play at this stage as the death remains unexplained but it was more likely a case of child abandonment. Read More

Dale Farm D-DAy.. Judge rules that caravans CAN now be taken away from the Dale Farm site - 3rd Oct 2011

The majority of caravans can now be taken away from the illegal travellers' site at Dale Farm, a High Court judge has ruled.

Basildon Council was told it could remove 49 of 54 plots along with the majority of concrete pitches on the site in Crays Hill, Essex.

However, an injunction preventing any removal from the site is expected to remain in force until tomorrow.

The injunction was put in place when the travellers brought their own legal case against the council in a bid to avoid eviction.

Basildon Council has been attempting for a decade to remove travellers from the Dale Farm site, which is on green belt land and is thought to currently house about 400 people on the pitches.

It was revealed today that the cost of clearing the illegal camp would be more than £21million.

Anarchists and left-wing students who are supporting the travellers built more barricades on Dale Farm yesterday to strengthen the defences.

The activists are once again preparing to launch ‘operation lockdown’ if bailiffs try to enter. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck South of the Fiji, Islands at a depth of 553.1 km (343.7 miles), the quake hit at 15:24:00 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 644 km ( 400 miles) South from Suva, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Meredith Kercher 'Forgotten' As Knox Vhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giferdict Nears -

Meredith Kercher's family have said she has been "forgotten" - as an Italian court decides whether or not to quash the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for her murder.

"I think Meredith has been hugely forgotten in all of this. It has been nearly four years now," her sister Stephanie said at a news conference in Perugia.

"It is very difficult to keep her memory alive, so we can find the truth and justice."

American student Knox and her then boyfriend Sollecito were convicted over the sexual assault and murder of Miss Kercher in the university town in 2007. Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake LUZON, PHILIPPINES - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Luzon, Philippines at a depth of 83.1 km (51.6 miles), the quake hit at 15:30:51 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 57 km ( 36 miles) Southeast from Laoag, Luzon, Philippines
No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS REGION - 3rd Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Santa Cruz Islands Region at a depth of 64.3 km (40 miles), the quake hit at 14:18:58 UTC Monday 3rd October 2011.
The epicenter was 95 km ( 59 miles) West of Lata, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Israeli 'Price Tag' Vandals Set Mosque Alight - 3rd Oct 2011

A mosque in northern Israel has been set on fire by suspected Jewish extremists in the latest of a series of incidents known as "price tag" attacks.

The interior of the mosque in the Upper Galilee was destroyed along with many holy books. It's thought the arsonists arrived in the early hours of Monday morning.

Graffiti including the slogan "price tag" was spray-painted on walls.Link

The slogan has been used in several similar attacks in the Palestinian West Bank. It refers to the "revenge" Palestinian and Israeli Muslims will suffer for every attack on Jews, and for every Jewish settlement which is demolished by the Israeli government.

Residents in the village of Tuba Zangria where the incident took place described the attack as "very serious". About 300 people clashed with security forces during the morning throwing stones and setting tyres alight. Read More