Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The moment a giant comet plunged into the Sun and sparked an awe-inspiring flare - 5th Oct 2011

It's not Fireworks Night yet - but a spectacular explosion HAS lit up the night sky after a giant comet smashed into the Sun.

Our star was hit by an unusually large sungrazer caught on camera careering towards it seven hours before impact.

Then, when the comet hit on Sunday, the Sun was seen letting out an X-class flare that ripped out through space around it.

A clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms burst out through the corona into space lighting it up like a Catherine Wheel.

Scientists expect the cloud - which could disrupt long-range radio communications - to arrive at Earth in the next few days. Read More


Man hurled to ground in latest attack by a rutting stag - 5th Oct 2011

Targets have already included a female walker, a young girl and a swan.

Now a man in his 50s has become the latest victim of rutting stags running rampant round a London park.

The unidentified man was knocked off his feet by the red male deer, who charged him from 200 yards away with its 16-point antlers, leaving him on his back and sending the bottle of water he was carrying flying.

He was saved by passers-by, who ran to his aid and scared the animal away. Read More

Sonia Marra 'celebrating her 40th birthday with parents' dies after tourist helicopter crashes into New York river - 5th Oct 2011

An English woman has died and four other people were rescued after the helicopter they were flying in crashed seconds after take-off.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that the woman who died was Sonia Marra, while the injured British passengers were Paul Nicholson, believed to be her stepfather, and his wife Harriet.

He said: 'We can confirm that three British nationals were involved in the helicopter crash in New York City. Read More


Increased Seismic Activity Katla, Iceland - 5th Oct 2011



3.9 Magnitude Earthquake MOUNT KATLA, ICELAND - 5th Oct 2011

tA magnitude 3.9 earthquake has struck Katla Volcano, Iceland at a depth of just 1 km (0 miles), the quake hit at 02:50:38 UTC Wednesday 5th October 2011.
The epicenter was 63 km ( 39 miles) East of Vestmannæyjar, Iceland
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHEAST OF THE LOYALTY ISLANDS - 4th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Southeast of the Loyalty Islands at a depth of 67.9 km (42.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:00:28 UTC Tuesday 4th October 2011.
The epicenter was 219 km ( 136 miles) East of Tadine, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

US groups say hunger worsening in N.Korea

Relief groups on Monday made a new plea to the United States to offer food assistance to North Korea, warning that hunger was worsening and could develop into a major crisis next year.

The United States earlier this month gave flood relief to North Korea, with which it has tense relations, but it has held off from approving food shipments due to concerns that the communist regime will use the aid for political ends.

The five US aid groups which delivered the flood aid said they monitored distribution to civilians and were alarmed at what they saw in North Korea as heavy rains and winds had destroyed buildings, crops and roads.

"Health and food security, always fragile in North Korea, are deteriorating and people are vulnerable," Matt Ellingson of Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse said in a joint statement by the five organizations.

"Already hungry children have been pushed over the edge by continued food shortages and diarrhea caused by dirty water and poor hygiene," he said.

"Without immediate and direct intervention there is significant risk for a far greater crisis to unfold in the coming six to nine months," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans died in a famine in the 1990s.

The relief groups said they did not understand why President Barack Obama's administration has not given a response to their calls made months ago for a food aid program focused on women and children.

"Many innocent people are at risk today, and we know that food aid can save lives," said Jim White of Mercy Corps.

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/US_groups_say_hunger_worsening_in_NKorea_999.html

2,700 hacking attempts on South Korea military in year (by North Korea)

South Korea's military has seen more than 2,700 attempts to hack into its websites over the past year, a lawmaker said Wednesday, amid growing concern over North Korea's cyber warfare capability.

Kim Ok-Lee of the ruling Grand National Party said the military's websites had seen 2,772 hacking attempts from July 2010 to last month, according to data from the defence ministry.

The monthly average number of attacks has grown from some 170 last year to more than 200 in 2011, the ministry said in a report submitted to Kim.

The origins of the attacks were unknown since hackers could easily disguise Internet Protocol addresses, it added.

"All attempts were blocked and there was no damage...there was no hacking or cyber terror on our defence intranet that is operated separately (from the websites)," the ministry said.

The South's military said in July it would expand its cyber warfare unit, launched in January last year, to better combat growing Internet attacks from the communist North.

North Korea reportedly maintains elite hacker units.

Seoul accused Pyongyang of staging cyber attacks on websites of major South Korean government agencies and financial institutions in March this year and in July 2009.

It also blamed Pyongyang for a cyber attack that paralysed operations at one of its largest banks for more than a week in May.

Pyongyang rejected those allegations, accusing Seoul of inventing the charges to raise tensions.

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/2700_hacking_attempts_on_SKorea_military_in_year_999.html

Feathered friends are far from bird-brained when building nests

Nest-building is not just instinctive but is a skill that birds learn from experience, research suggests. Scientists filmed male Southern Masked Weaver birds in Botswana as they built multiple nests out of grass during a breeding season. Their findings contrast with the commonly-held assumption among scientists that nest-building is an innate ability.

The researchers found that individual birds varied their technique from one nest to the next. They also saw that some birds build their nests from left to right, and others from right to left.

Also, as the birds gained more experience in building nests, they dropped blades of grass less often, implying that the art of nest building requires learning.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews and Glasgow together with scientists from Botswana say their findings may help to explain how birds approach nest-building and whether they have the mental capacity to learn, or whether their skills are developed through repetition.

Researchers chose the colourful African bird because they build complex nests, which is potentially a sign of intelligence. More importantly, Weaver birds build many nests - often dozens in a season, allowing the team to monitor differences in nests built by the same bird.

http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Feathered_friends_are_far_from_bird_brained_when_building_nests_999.html

Israeli bunker-busters cause Mideast alarm

The disclosure that U.S. President Barack Obama approved the sale of 5,000-pound bunker-buster bombs to Israel, which wants them for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear installations, has sent ripples of alarm across the Middle East, including Israel itself.

Fears that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a right-wing hawk who has vowed to eliminate what hard-liners view as an existential Iranian threat to the Jewish state, could order a pre-emptive strike, have been emblazoned in headlines run by the liberal daily Haaretz in recent days.

"Netanyahu's messianism could launch attack on Iran," said one.

"Netanyahu must be stopped from attacking Iran," declared another.

Fifty-five U.S.-made bunker-busters, designated GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators, were secretly delivered to Israel in 2009.

But despite his determination to defang Iran, Netanyahu hasn't launched an attack on Iran, even though he had the weapons needed to blast underground nuclear facilities.

However, concerns he could unleash them remain. For one thing, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, himself a former prime minister and chief of staff, have in recent months carried out command changes on an unprecedented scale in Israel's military and intelligence arms.

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Israeli_bunker-busters_cause_Mideast_alarm_999.html

Outside View: America's most testing epoch

In life, people inexorably move from infancy to adulthood and on to old age in a series of significant chronological milestones. Countries are obviously not people but states also pass through stages that mark fundamental transition points and new epochs in their histories, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not. And sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

The United States is arguably at one such transformative period in its history. Few recognize the presence of this decisive and transformative stage. Fewer have speculated on what this could mean for the United States and Americans.

The signs are unmistakable if one looks carefully enough: a profound and unprecedented decline in American influence and relative power; a political process currently incapable of governing exacerbated by critical absence of effective leadership at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue; and a dearth of good ideas for rectifying the nation's ills.

Given this diminishment in power and influence, paralyzed government and paucity of leadership and ideas, America seems in suspended animation, unable or unwilling to comprehend and hesitant to respond. That it remains the world's strongest economic and military power hasn't been put to any real positive effect.

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Outside_View_Americas_most_testing_epoch_999.html

Does Germany Owe Greece $95 Billion from WW II?

In the debate about the possible bankruptcy of the Greek state, one largely dormant argument has resurfaced with increasing frequency: the widespread damage inflicted by the Nazi regime during World War II means that Germany still owes Greece major wartime reparations.

While the claims for payment of damages are based on very real facts, one could argue that over the course of 60 years or so, those claims have been satisfied under international law. (See pictures of protesters in Athens.)

What is at stake? Without having been provoked, the Wehrmacht — the Third Reich's armed forces — took over both Greece and Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. In both countries, German soldiers set up a brutal occupation regime. As was usually the case in European nations invaded by the Germans, the high cost of the occupation was borne by the occupied country — and the Greek economy was plundered through forced exports.

This resulted in galloping inflation and a radically lower standard of living for Greeks. Additionally, the Third Reich forced the Greek National Bank to lend Hitler's Germany 476 million reichsmarks interest-free.

After Germany's surrender, the Allied powers organized the Paris Conference on Reparations in the fall of 1945. Greece laid claim to $10 billion, or half the total amount of $20 billion the Soviets suggested that Germany pay.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2093990,00.html#ixzz1ZMimr0bp

Shanghai Struggles to Save Itself From the Sea

Some 1,000 years ago, the Chinese named this city "Shanghai" based on its location. It literally means "above the sea." Those pioneers probably never imagined the situation that confronts this city today: Shanghai is on its way to being below the sea.

Climate change is pushing up the sea level globally. While in Shanghai, such rise is roughly the length of a rice grain in each of recent years, the low-lying city with a population of more than 20 million has had to pour billions of dollars into rebuilding infrastructure to protect against potential floods. It is also revising its growth plans, hoping to reduce its vulnerabilities.

It has used its perch on the Yangtze River Delta to become one of the world's prime financial and shipping centers, but now it also finds itself being menaced by other hazards rooted in climate change. During the past years, the city has suffered more extreme weather, missed rain during the normal wet season and seen a temperature hike almost four times higher than the global level.

Climate change threatens Shanghai's economy in various ways. Because global warming is heating up the sea, local fisheries are expected to see their business drop. Scientists have discovered that fish here do not flourish in hotter water. Typhoons and other forms of extreme weather are scaring away tourists and giving large cargo ships reasons to seek other ports.

But the city's biggest concern remains the slow, steadily mounting threat that comes from sea level rise. Higher tides are washing away the precious delta soil upon which the city's foundations are built, and water supplies are becoming more tainted as seawater intrudes more deeply into the fresh water of the Yangtze.

What stands between Shanghai and drowning is an average 13 feet of land. Construction of thousands of high-rise buildings, combined with the pumping of groundwater, is making the soil subside. The removal of groundwater is now under tighter controls, and water is actually being pumped back to wells, a move that has slowed the city's slump into the East China Sea.

http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/09/27/27climatewire-shanghai-struggles-to-save-itself-from-the-s-43368.html?pagewanted=print

South Korea to students: Stop studying!

On a wet Wednesday evening in Seoul, six government employees gather at the office to prepare for a late-night patrol. The mission is as simple as it is counterintuitive: to find children who are studying after 10 p.m. And stop them.

In South Korea, it has come to this. To reduce the country's addiction to private, after-hours tutoring academies (called hagwons), the authorities have begun enforcing a curfew — even paying citizens bounties to turn in violators. (See pictures of Seoul, the world's most connected city.)

The raid starts in a leisurely way. We have tea, and I am offered a rice cracker. Cha Byoung-chul, a midlevel bureaucrat at Seoul's Gangnam district office of education, is the leader of this patrol. I ask him about his recent busts, and he tells me about the night he found 10 teenage boys and girls on a cram-school roof at about 11 p.m. "There was no place to hide," Cha recalls. In the darkness, he tried to reassure the students. "I told them, 'It's the hagwon that's in violation, not you. You can go home.'"

Cha smokes a cigarette in the parking lot. Like any man trying to undo centuries of tradition, he is in no hurry. "We don't leave at 10 p.m. sharp," he explains. "We want to give them 20 minutes or so. That way, there are no excuses." Finally, we pile into a silver Kia Sorento and head into Daechi-dong, one of Seoul's busiest hagwon districts. The streets are thronged with parents picking up their children. The inspectors walk down the sidewalk, staring up at the floors where hagwons are located — above the Dunkin' Donuts and the Kraze Burgers — looking for telltale slivers of light behind drawn shades.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2094427,00.html#ixzz1ZMglucDB

Amid Paeans to Energy Efficiency, the World Is Getting Less Efficient

The watchword for the week at the Clinton Global Initiative's (CGI) annual summit in Manhattan this week has been "efficiency." (It narrowly beats out "traffic," which is what you'll be caught in trying to get anywhere in the city for the next few days.) I wrote about an industry consortium led by the Carbon War Room that will channel hundreds of millions of dollars towards retrofitting existing buildings, and today the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Goldman Sachs and several real estate companies announced a three-year project under CGI that will hep tenants thorough the country identify the savings of energy efficiency improvements and implement them. Peter Malik, NRDC's Director of Market Innovation, explained the benefits of the deal:

By participating in a portfolio of high-profile efficient build-out projects and by approaching the savings in a quantitative manner we are developing an open-source, best-in-kind blueprint for both implementation and financial measurement of the benefits of high performance build-outs. And we don't stop there. By adopting a true life-cycle metric we go beyond a snapshot of performance. We measure the performance of the tenant spaces and / or the building across 10, even 15 years. In short, the goal is a long-term market shift.

Energy efficiency should be a no brainer—after all, who wants to waste? The savings help the environment and the bottom line as well. You can have political quibbles with renewables or natural gas or imported oil. But who would be against getting lean and mean?

http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/09/21/amid-paeans-to-energy-efficiency-the-world-is-getting-less-efficient/#ixzz1ZMgIyHjJ

Dan Rather: Bee Aware -- More bee deaths and collapses of colonies














There have been numerous reports, including on our program, Dan Rather Reports, about the decline of the honeybee. They've been dying off in huge numbers. The cause has been lumped under a title called "Colony Collapse Disorder" or CCD. But now scientists are telling us the danger is worse than they feared.

We were researching an update on how honey bees were faring after years of unexplained colony deaths. Beekeepers are now losing an average of 30-50% of their hives each year from all kinds of symptoms. But our investigations found evidence that has led all the way back to the people who regulate our country's pesticide program at the Environmental Protection Agency.

OK, so we all like honey, but why should we care exactly? To paraphrase scientists: the entire food chain is at risk. One in three bites of food we eat is directly dependent on insect pollination: apples, cucumbers, pumpkins, avocado, almonds, zucchini and blueberries to name a few. And it's not just here in the United States. With losses being reported from all over Europe, the Middle East and some parts of Asia, the worldwide economic value of pollinators to agriculture, estimated to be over $200 billion dollars, is in the balance.

So what's going on? One of the suspects, according to beekeepers and scientists, is relatively new on the market. Remember these words: systemic pesticides. Systemics work differently than any other pesticide. These chemicals, derived from nicotine, are called neonicotinoids. How they got onto the market illustrates, according to several scientists we spoke to both inside and outside the EPA, the real deficiencies of pesticide regulation in this country, and the questionable role of industry in these decisions.

Systemic pesticides have changed the game of insect control since they were introduced in the mid-90s. They have since become the fastest growing class of any insecticide in history, and among the most widely used in the world, now approved for use on three quarters of all U.S. farmland.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-rather/honeybees-pesticides-food-chain-_b_975934.html

Bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians

You've decided to help your health and the environment by riding your bike to work. Good for you! Sorry to have to deliver the bad news: you may be inhaling more soot.

The amount might be more than twice as much as urban pedestrians, says a pilot study presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress. The study involved five cyclists who regularly biked to work and five pedestrians from London. They ranged in age from 18 to 40 and were healthy nonsmokers.

Researchers analyzed airway microphage cells from the participants' sputum samples. Airway microphage cells guard the body against foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria. The cyclists were found to have 2.3 times the amount of black carbon in their lungs compared with the pedestrians.

"The results of this study have shown that cycling in a large European city increases exposure to black carbon," said co-author Chinedu Nwokoro in a news release. "This could be due to a number of factors including the fact that cyclists breathe more deeply and at a quicker rate than pedestrians while in closer proximity to exhaust fumes, which could increase the number of airborne particles penetrating the lungs."

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-cyclists-pollution-20110926,0,3792100.story

Climate Change and the Exodus of Species

To most humans, so far, climate change is still more of an idea than an experience. For other species, it is an immediate reality. Many will be left behind as the climate alters, unable to move quickly enough or with nowhere to move to. Others are already adapting. An iconic example of these swift changes is the recent discovery that Atlantic and Pacific populations of bowhead whales — long kept apart by the frozen Arctic — are now overlapping in the open waters of the Northwest Passage.

A team of scientists from the University of York examined the movement of 2,000 animal and plant species over the past decade. According to their study, published in Science last month, in their exodus from increasing heat, species have moved, on average, 13.3 yards higher in altitude — twice the predicted rate — and 11 miles higher in latitude — three times faster than expected. These changes have happened most rapidly where the climate has warmed the most.

Chris Thomas, an author of the study, says, these changes “are equivalent to animals and plants shifting away from the equator at around 20 centimeters per hour” for the past 40 years. This rate will increase as the pace of climate change increases, bringing with it rapid adaptation but also a rate of extinction and a loss of genetic diversity surpassing anything the fossil record shows us.

A rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is tragically unlikely. We are holding the future of every species on this planet — including ourselves — hostage.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/27/opinion/climate-change-and-the-exodus-of-species.html?_r=2

Organic farming reduces antibiotic resistant bacteria

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were less common on chicken farms that had recently switched to organic farming practices when compared to those that continued to use conventional farming practices, finds a study of organic poultry farms in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The results are published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The results show that reducing nontherapeutic use of antibiotics also reduces antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chickens and their waste materials. It is one of the first to examine the changes on farms in the United States. The findings agree with prior studies from Europe and Asia that report similar results: less antibiotic use means fewer resistant bacteria in the animals and food products.

In conventional chicken farming, antibiotic use goes beyond just treating sick chickens. The drugs are often added to feed to promote the growth of chickens living in crowded poultry houses. Antibiotics use increased during the 1990s and a large portion of that increase was due to these so-called nontherapeutic uses.

However, this kind of overuse can increase antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the facilities. The bacteria can then spread to people by either direct contact with the animals, through the handling and eating of meat products and via manure spread on crops and farmland.

This can be a problem because medical complications due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more commonplace in hospitals. An infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria generally means a longer and more serious illness for the patient, as well as more complicated and often more expensive treatments.

Demand for organic chicken is increasing at a time when the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is gaining more attention from scientists and the public. Sales of organic chicken quadrupled between 2003 and 2006, making poultry one of the fastest growing organic products. The demand is due in part to consumers' preference and perception that organically-grown poultry is safer than conventionally-raised poultry. This demand has also prompted more farmers to switch from conventional to organic methods.

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/2011/09/2011-0925-organic-farm-resistant-bacteria/

9/11 refresher: Hijackers still very much alive, shady financial airline transactions and other unresolved questions

Solar storms and renewed interest in bunker building, 2012 -- Hype or real reason to start preparing?

Culprit sought after whale shot, washes up in New Jersey - 4th Oct 2011

Federal wildlife officials are looking for whoever shot a whale at sea, leaving the animal to wander the ocean in agony for a month or more before it beached itself in New Jersey and died. The culprit could get a year in prison and a hefty fine.

Scott Doyle, an agent in charge of the National Marine Fisheries Service's New Jersey shore office, said his agency is hoping someone comes forward to report the shooter.

"Sometimes what we find is months down the road, you get a disgruntled crew member on a boat, or someone who had an argument with someone else, and then you get a phone call," Doyle said.

The nearly 11-foot-long short-finned pilot whale, which was near death, weighed about 740 pounds but should have tipped the scales at more than 1,000 pounds. It died shortly after police responded, but it wasn't until a necropsy was performed that the cause of death was revealed.

Someone had shot the whale.

The wound near its blow hole had closed and faded somewhat, indicating the animal had been wounded as long as a month ago, said Bob Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. The bullet lodged in the whale's jaw, causing an infection that left it unable to eat.

"This poor animal literally starved to death," Schoelkopf said. "It was wandering around and slowly starving to death because of the infection. Who would do that to an innocent animal?"

That's what federal law enforcement authorities want to know, as well. Whales are among the species protected by the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. Violators can be fined up to $100,000 and sent to prison for a year.

The whale washed up on the beach at Allenhurst, a small Monmouth County town just north of Asbury Park, on Sept. 24. Read More

Blaze leaves thousands of fish dead, Wolverhampton - 4th Oct 2011

Thousands of fish have died after a canal in Wolverhampton became polluted following a huge fire that destroyed two warehouses.

Up to 5,000 dead fish have been pulled out of the Birmingham Canal Main Line after the water became contaminated.

And British Waterways today warned they expected the problem to get worse before they could get it under control.

The deaths are believed to have been caused by chemicals running into the water after an arson attack at Residual Brand Management, in Ettingshall, last Monday, reducing the oxygen content in the water.

The arson-hit buildings, in Millfields Road, contained aerosols, paints, oils, thinners and detergents as well as shampoos.

The contamination has already travelled more than three miles, from Ettingshall to Wednesfield.

Environment Agency officers have been pumping oxygen into the stretch of polluted water in a bid to control the contamination. Source

Shark Attacks Man in Central Florida - 4th Oct 2011

The attack happened Sunday afternoon while the man and his children were in the water at Anna Maria Island.

That's when officials say a shark suddenly attacked the man, biting him in the back of the leg.

Click here to find out more!

The man and his family flagged down a passing boater for help.
A family friend explains what the man was doing when the attack happened.

"He was just going down there with his kids because there's a bunch of pelicans and seagulls there that stop at the sandbar, so they wanted to see the seagulls and pelicans," said Melvin Velez.

The man was taken to the hospital. Family members say the shark left a gash about five-to-six inches long Source

More carcasses wash up on beaches, Australia - 4th Oct 2011

WHILE the Queensland Government yesterday said it had no plans to extend the Gladstone fishing ban, dead marine life continued to wash up on Capricorn Coast beaches.

Adding to local concerns, Yeppoon's Daniel Spyve told The Morning Bulletin he threw two fish he caught at Coorooman Creek on the weekend back in the water when he suspected they were unhealthy.

"We caught two in one crab pot and that was up closer to the mouth of Coorooman Creek," Daniel said.

"All were legal size and we were going to keep them, but then when we had a look at them and two of them had these really fluorescent green eyes and down underneath their eyes where the whites are, they were very milky."

Daniel said there were also parts of the fish that appeared very red and looked like decaying flesh.

"They didn't look like a local cod that we'd caught in the creek before," Daniel said.

Daniel's discovery comes as Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace refuted claims from LNP shadow minister Dr Mark Robinson that warnings from Gladstone and Yeppoon fishermen were initially swept under the carpet. Read More

Scuba divers left behind in Shark invested Waters, Florida - 4th Oct 2011

The US Coast Guard said Tuesday it was investigating a Florida tourism company that left behind two tourists while they were scuba diving.

The tourists -- Paul Kline and Fernando Garcia Puerta -- were rescued by a private yacht which found them clinging to a buoy in shark-infested waters.

"The incident is under investigation," Coast Guard spokeswoman Sabrina Elgammal told AFP.

"We got a call that the two people were picked up in the sea and there was no medical harm and they went back to port," she said.

RJ Diving Ventures of Miami Beach took a group of 30 people, including Kline and Garcia, in a boat to scuba dive in the open ocean, the Miami Herald reported.

When Kline and Garcia surfaced, however, they found that the boat had gone.

"We were in shock," Kline, 44, told the newspaper. "We could easily have died."

RJ Diving Ventures did not respond to requests for comment.

The two said they clung to a fishing buoy and around 6:00 pm as it was getting dark they were spotted by passengers on a yacht.

"We could see two divers with all their equipment and an inflated red tube," the yacht's capitan Elie Trichet told the Herald.

"You could notice a strong feeling of relief" Trichet said. "They had been clinging to that buoy for two hours hoping somebody would rescue them." Source

Raymond Davis: CIA contractor fights man over bagels (and yes, it's the same guy who killed two other Pakistanis earlier)

Eight months after he killed two allegedly armed men in Pakistan, CIA operative Raymond Davis is facing legal troubles again. This time for being very, very hungry.

Davis made headlines earlier this year after an incident in Lahore, Pakistan which ended with two supposed robbers dead. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted Davis had diplomatic immunity and be freed immediately, but it took two months for Davis to be released from a Pakistan prison. In the meantime, it was revealed that he was a government operative orchestrating clandestine operations in Pakistan.

In the months before the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the January incident was one of the first events of 2011 that led to increasing disagreements between Pakistan and the US over America’s ongoing military presence in the Asian country.

Now Davis is at it again, but time the event took place in the parking lot of an Einstein’s Bagel store in Colorado. According to media reports, Davis began brawling with another man in the town of Highlands Ranch over the matter of an empty parking spot.

Jeffrey Maes, 50, was pulling into a parking spot on Saturday morning only to be met by an enraged Davis, who insisted the spot was his. Maes’ wife tells The Daily Beast that Davis got out of his car behind them, cursing, claiming the spot for himself. From there, Davis punched Maes once in the face, knocking him unconscious.

When Maes regained consciousness, his wife says that Davis continued to fight him, screaming “You’re done. I’m going to get you.”

“I’ve never seen a man so full of rage,” Davis’ wife told reporters. more

Fukushima Update for Today

Massive Fire at Texas Magnablend Chemical Plant in Waxahachie

A massive fire is burning at Magnablend Inc, a chemical manufacturing plant in Waxahachie. The fire broke out around 11 a.m Monday, sending huge plumes of black smoke and explosions into the air.

The company has three facilities in Waxahachie. The fire is burning at the company's Central Facility, located near West 287 and I-35E.

Nearby areas have been evacuated, including the Navarro College campus in Ellis County and Wedgeworth Elementary School. Wedgeworth students are being bussed across town to Waxahachie 9th Grade Academy. more

Greece Falls Into 'Death Spiral': Rising Debt, No Growth

Drowning in red ink, Greece has nowhere to turn to revive the economic growth that might put its debt on a sustainable trajectory, reassure angry foreign creditors and offer hope to its recession-weary citizens.

Instead, the country finds itself in a vicious circle—a death spiral, some would say—in which it is borrowing ever more to keep up on its existing debts, crushing growth in the process and thereby worsening its all-important ratio of debt-to-gross domestic product.

Springing the debt [cnbc explains] trap would not be a miracle cure either: a manageable level of borrowing is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for Greece to start restoring competitiveness and resume growth after three years of economic contraction.

"If there was a deus ex machina tomorrow and you halved Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio overnight, there'd obviously be a huge benefit in terms of cash flow," said George Magnus, senior economic adviser to UBS in London.

"So you can alleviate the financial stress on Greece quite quickly and effectively, but I don't think that in and of itself means the economy is going to grow," he said.

New figures dramatize Athens's bind. As recently as July, the International Monetary Fund [cnbc explains] was forecasting that Greece would eke out 0.6 percent growth next year. Just 10 weeks later, it reckons the economy will in fact shrink 2.5 percent in 2012 after a 5.5 percent slump this year. more

Obama impeachment a possibility, says Ron Paul (Good)

Ron Paul said Monday that President Barack Obama’s targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki might be an impeachable offense.

Asked at a Manchester, N.H. town hall meeting about last week’s killing of the American-born Al Qaeda leader, the Texas congressman said impeachment would be “possible,” but that he wants to know more about how the administration “flouted the law.”

Paul called the killing a movement toward “tyranny.”

“I put responsibility on the president because this is obviously a step in the wrong direction,” Paul said. “We have just totally disrespected the Constitution.”

The comments once again put Paul at odds with his Republican rivals over foreign policy and the war on terror in the latest indication of how his foreign policy views stray far from Republican orthodoxy even in a GOP that’s taken on an increasingly isolationist bent. Candidates like Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney — who included the president in a list of people he commended in a statement released Friday — have generally been supportive of the killing. No one else in the field has spoken out against it.

But Paul’s stuck with the civil libertarians who’ve criticized the targeted killing of an American citizen without public due process. more

China warns of trade war if U.S. bill passes

An angry China warned Washington on Tuesday that passage of a bill aimed at forcing Beijing to let its currency rise could lead to a trade war between the world's top two economies.

China's central bank and the ministries of commerce and foreign affairs accused Washington of "politicising" currency issues and putting the global economy at risk after U.S. senators voted on Monday to start a week of debate on the bill.

The response suggested China sees a greater risk from the proposed bill than it has in the past when U.S. lawmakers attempted to put forward similar legislation to speed up the pace of appreciation in the yuan, or renminbi.

Beijing made similar remarks last year after the House of Representatives passed a currency bill that later failed to make any further progress in Congress.

Tuesday's coordinated salvo and the central bank's warning of a trade war and a slowdown in China's exchange rate reforms indicated Beijing was taking the latest currency bill more seriously.

"It is very rare for three different ministries of the country to refute something so quickly and strongly, showing how deeply the Chinese government is concerned about the yuan bill," said Wang Zihong, a researcher at the China Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank. more

Blake Wimberly: Autistic Man’s ‘Acting Odd’ Lands Him In Jail



Blake Wimberly lives in the dark, gripped by paranoia.

The 28-year-old hides inside his small Dallas apartment because of fear that police will arrest him wherever he goes.

“I see a cop right there, so that tells me that I should not be going outside not for nothing.”

Wimberly is both autistic and schizophrenic, so he struggles with self-control.

Despite his condition, Blake has progressed enough to live on his own. But his mother, Lori Lux, says a trip to a grocery store started a downward spiral. “I see a man who has shut down,” she said.

The incident happened on April 28 at a Whole Foods store on Park Lane.

Police reports say Blake was ‘acting odd,’ leading to customer complaints.

Officers were called, and Blake was told to get out of an unauthorized area or be arrested. His response to officers was: “No, I have to call my mom.”

That refusal led to Wimberly’s arrest for criminal trespassing even though he wore a medical alert bracelet and told officers about his condition.

“I told them I had autism and he told me basically I was a liar.”

“I asked them repeatedly, was he violent? Did he ever threaten? No, they all told me no he was just odd,” Lux said. more

Mind The Pay Gap? Tube Drivers 'To Get £55k' (after 2000 soldiers, at half this pay, are laid off): UK

London's tube drivers are set to see their wages rise 5% this year, more than double the national average, to hit £55,000pa over the next four years.

year

The latest pay offer by London Underground (LU) has been put to leaders of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) who are now consulting their members' representatives.

LU said the deal offered the prospect of no industrial action over wages until at least 2015.

Under its terms, staff would get a 5% increase this year followed by RPI inflation plus 0.5% in the subsequent three years.

It is a marked improvement on national salary increase averages. more

The dangerous subversion of Germany's democracy

Optimism over Europe’s "grand plan" to shore up EMU was widely said to be the cause of yesterday’s torrid rally on global markets, lifting the CAC, DAX, Dow, crude and copper altogether.

This is interesting, since Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has given an iron-clad assurance to the Bundestag that no such plan exists and that Germany will not support any attempt to "leverage" the EU’s €440bn bail-out plan to €2 trillion, or any other sum.

"I don’t understand how anyone in the European Commission can have such a stupid idea. The result would be to endanger the AAA sovereign debt ratings of other member states. It makes no sense."

All of this was out in the open and widely reported. Markets appear to be acting on the firm belief that he is lying to lawmakers, that there is indeed a secret plan, that it will be implemented once the inconvenience of the Bundestag’s vote on the EFSF tomorrow is safely out of the way, and that German democracy is being cynically subverted.

The markets may or may not right about this. Mr Schäuble has a habit of promising one thing in Brussels and stating another in Berlin.

But it is surely an unhealthy state of affairs. One of the happiest achievements of the post-War era is the emergence of a free, flourishing, and democratic Germany under the rule of law.

Carsten Schneider, finance spokesman for the Social Democrats, spoke for many last week, denouncing the shabby back-room dealings as a scandal. "A new multi-trillion programme is being cooked up in Washington and Brussels, while the wool is being pulled over the eyes of Bundestag and German public. This is unacceptable."

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100012245/the-dangerous-subversion-of-germany-democracy/

Green Bay Packers' security personnel to use TSA-style safety measures on all spectators at Lambeau Field

Green Bay Packers fans should arrive early and expect some delays for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos as the team implements heightened security measures for the games at Lambeau Field this season.

The National Football League is pushing for enhanced security, and starting with Sunday's game at Lambeau, all fans will be subject to a hand-held, metal-detecting wand test before being admitted.

The procedure would be similar to wand inspections at the airport, but this process would be less invasive than the full-body exam, said Doug Collins, Packers director of security.

"We think it's a more thorough process, without having the hands-on in particular. We understand there has been some negativity out there from what the (Transportation Security Administration) has done. … This just eliminates that process," Collins said. "Pretty much the whole body will be scanned with the hand wand."

http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20110928/APC0101/109280515/Packers-security-use-TSA-hand-held-wands-boost-Lambeau-safety

Even Those Cleared of Crimes Can Stay on F.B.I.’s Watch List

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.

The files, released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.

Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.

The database now has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans, according to the statistics released in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. About 16,000 people, including about 500 Americans, are barred from flying.

Timothy J. Healy, the director of the F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center, which vets requests to add or remove names from the list, said the documents showed that the government was balancing civil liberties with a careful, multilayered process for vetting who goes on it — and for making sure that names that no longer need to be on it came off.

“There has been a lot of criticism about the watch list,” claiming that it is “haphazard,” he said. “But what this illustrates is that there is a very detailed process that the F.B.I. follows in terms of nominations of watch-listed people.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/us/even-those-cleared-of-crimes-can-stay-on-fbis-terrorist-watch-list.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

Bank of America's 'nuclear option': Countrywide bankruptcy

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) chief executive Brian Moynihan recently would not rule out the idea of putting Countrywide Financial into bankruptcy to cap its mortgage-related losses, but on Friday Bloomberg news reported that such a move is considered a "nuclear option" inside the bank.

Bank of America's 2008 takeover of Countrywide is now considered a financial disaster because of Countrywide's exposure to subprime loans. But Countrywide has remained a separate legal entity, giving Bank of America the option of putting it in bankruptcy, a move that could protect BofA from greater losses.

Bloomberg reported that a bankruptcy filing is not imminent and "executives recognize the danger that it could backfire by casting doubt on the financial strength of the largest U.S. bank."

During a recent presentation, Moynihan got direct questions about putting Countrywide into bankruptcy. Moynihan didn't rule it out.

"There are a ton of options around all that stuff that we continue to work on. So that's all I will say," Moynihan said during his presentation earlier this week.

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2011/09/16/bank-of-americas-nuclear-option.html

Luxury foreclosure auctions snowball in Bay State

The economy’s prolonged malaise, now stretching into its fourth year, is having a lopsided effect on the ultra high-end home owner.

Since 2008, payment delinquencies and foreclosure activity for $1 million-plus mortgages have skyrocketed nationally, rising to roughly double the rates recorded for home loans below that pricey threshold. The reversal of fortunes was captured in a recent analysis by CoreLogic, a housing research and services provider base in California, which found that until around three years ago, the million-dollar mortgage crowd had a superior payment and credit record relative to the rest of the market. The recession and late-2008 credit crisis altered those metrics, as mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure activity spiked among luxury homeowners.

Their footing has only worsened in the years since.

According to CoreLogic, the 90-day delinquency rate for million-dollar mortgages stood at 13.8 percent in July, rising from less than 1 percent roughly five years ago. By comparison, the delinquency rate for all other mortgages has failed to top 8.5 percent since the crisis began, and as of July it held at 7.1 percent, according to CoreLogic.

The market's changes have rippled through many of Greater Boston's wealthier suburbs.

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/real_estate/2011/09/high-end-foreclosure-auctions-snowball.html

UK Police Forces, Councils, Courts and Politicians are all listed as registered trading "companies" -- Strange, why?

UFO "fleet" witnessed in Pennsylvania around Sept 24, 2011 -- Did you witness it?

"Raise Taxes on Hollywood Celebrities"

Iran planning to send ships near U.S. waters

Iran plans to send ships near the Atlantic coast of the United States, state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday, quoting a commander.

"The Navy of the Iranian Army will have a powerful presence near the United States borders," read the headline of the story, in Farsi.

"Commander of the Navy of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran broke the news about the plans for the presence of this force in the Atlantic Ocean and said that the same way that the world arrogant power is present near our marine borders, we, with the help of our sailors who follow the concept of the supreme jurisprudence, shall also establish a powerful presence near the marine borders of the United States," the story said. The reference to the "world arrogant power" was presumably intended to refer to the United States.

IRNA cited the force's website as saying that the announcement was made by Adm. Habibollah Sayari on the 31st anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war.

State-run Press TV said Sayari had announced similar plans in July. In February, two Iranian Navy ships traversed the Suez Canal in the first such voyages by Iranian ships since 1979. more

Will the Euro survive?

Rebels kill scores in Somali capital blast - 4th Oct 2011

Somalia's al Qaeda-linked rebels struck at the heart of the capital on Tuesday, killing scores of people with a truck bomb in the group's most deadly attack in the country since launching an insurgency in 2007.

Mogadishu's ambulance coordinator Ali Muse said at least 70 people had been killed by the blast. The African Union force in Somalia (AMISOM) said the attack had claimed "scores of lives."

The AU force said a truck laden with drums of fuel rammed a checkpoint outside a compound housing government ministries in the K4 (Kilometer 4) area of Mogadishu, where students had gathered to register for scholarships offered by Turkey.

The al Shabaab insurgents who carried out the attack later warned Somalis to stay away from government buildings and military bases. "More serious blasts are coming," spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told reporters.

The twisted axle from the exploded truck lay on blackened soil. A body draped with a red shawl lay nearby. People used corrugated iron, rugs and white sheeting to carry corpses away from the devastation at a normally bustling junction. Read More

Magnablend Chemical Plant burns out of Control prompting nearby schools evacuated - 4th Oct 2011

A raging fire at a chemical plant south of Dallas sent black smoke billowing into the sky and prompted area schools to evacuate students.

Officials at the scene told WFAA-TV there are contaminates in the air that are dangerous to breathe in as a result of the fire.

Huge orange flames and plumes of smoke were seen at the Magnablend Chemical Plant facility in Waxahachie, about 30 miles south of Dallas.

Several large explosions were also reported from the facility.

Ellis County emergency management officials issued an evacuation order for an apartment complex, an elementary school and a junior college.

Waxahachie Independent School District spokeswoman Nicole Mansell said Wedgeworth Elementary School students had been safely bussed to another school's gymnasium by 12:25pm. Read More

Riddle of the fallen giant seqouias as two 245ft giants come crashing down in national forest - 4th Oct 2011

Standing up to 245 feet tall and with diameters of 18 feet, the sequoia is one of the hugest trees on the planet.

And when they come down, it's best that nothing gets in their way.

Happily, no visitors were in the Trail Of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, in California, when two of the towering trees fell side by side.

The Forest Service has been forced to close the trail after the downed monsters were spotted for the first time.

Officials are still working to determine the ages of the trees and why they fell.

Clearly there is no way the tourist spot can be reopened with even the remote possibility that another of the trees will come down.

A firefighter is dwarfed in pictures taken of the crash scene which show mighty root wads that are three times the size of him.

Forest Service officials said tourists can still see giant Sequoias at Freeman Creek Grove along Lloyd Meadow Road and other areas of the park. Read More

Is space tourism over? Alan Walton, 75, asks Virgin Galactic for refund on $200,000 ticket after waiting seven years to fly into space - 4th Oct 2011

Venture capitalist Alan Walton has trekked to the North Pole, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and skydived over Mount Everest. A hop into space to enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness would have been the ultimate adventure.

After waiting seven years to fly aboard Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceline, Walton gave up on the dream and asked for a $200,000 ticket refund on his 75th birthday this past spring.

Walton, who was among the first 100 customers to sign up, is not as spry as he used to be, and he's concerned about the project delays.

'This was a decision I wish I didn't have to make,' he said recently. But 'it was time.'

Promises of space travel for the masses reached a euphoric pitch in 2004 when the experimental SpaceShipOne air-launched over the Mojave Desert and became the first privately financed, manned spacecraft to dash into space. It won the $10 million Ansari X Prize on Oct. 4, 2004, for accomplishing the feat twice in two weeks.

The flights were hailed by space enthusiasts as a leap toward opening the final frontier to civilians.

Virgin Galactic, which licensed the SpaceShipOne technology, began taking reservations before a commercial version was even built. Branson predicted back then that the maiden passenger flight would take off in 2007. Read More

Putin bids to return to Russia's glory days with 'Eurasian Union' of former Soviet empire states - 4th Oct 2011

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today raised the spectre of a second USSR after he proposed forming a 'Eurasian Union' of former Soviet states.

The former president said the proposed alliance could compete for influence with the United States, European Union and Asia.

Russia has already formed stronger economic ties with Belarus and Kazakhstan, but Putin has suggested forming a group seen by some as rebuilding the former Soviet Union.

Prime Minister Putin made the proposal today in the Russian daily newspaper Izvestia, adding that the new group should emerge as 'one of the poles of the modern world, serving as an efficient link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.'

However, given Putin's previous views, his current proposal will be seen by many as an indirect attempt to rebuild the Soviet Union.

The single-party socialist state ruled by the Communist Party from 1922 until its collapse 20 years ago gave rise to Joseph Stalin and the Cold War political conflict from 1946 onwards.

During the height of the Soviet Union, the USSR stood alongside the USA as one of the world's two major superpowers. Read More

ABDUCTED: Police frantically search for baby snatched from her crib by intruder as her parents slept, Kansas - 4th Oct 2011

Police across the country are frantically looking for a 10-month-old infant snatched from her crib by an intruder who came in her bedroom window.

Little Lisa Irwin, who weighs just 26 pounds, was last seen at 10:30pm Monday when her parents put her to bed.

They called Kansas City police about 4am when they woke up to check on their baby and she was gone.

Police said they are still investigating the scene, but believe someone came in the window and grabbed the infant.

'I realise that some of these Amber Alerts involve parents or parental abductions, but we have both the parents here. So that puts us on a little higher state of alert,' Sgt. Stacey Graves told MSNBC. Read More