Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rena oil spill: crack seen in ship (and it seems about to split entirely) -- New Zealand Oil Spill Update

What you need to know:

* A large crack has been spotted in the side of the stricken container ship

* PM says ship could break up

* Soldiers called out to clean up beaches

* Ship's captain granted name suppression in court

* About 70 containers have fallen off the ship

* Masks may be issued to Tauranga residents near toxic oil leak

* Port of Tauranga is on standby to shutdown operations

* Environment Minister Nick Smith says this is NZ's "worst maritime environmental disaster"

A "massive crack" running down the side of the stricken Rena cargo ship has been spotted by TV camera crews, a report says.

Aerial footage shows the hull of the vessel grounded on Astrolabe Reef off the coast of Tauranga has split, TVNZ reported this afternoon.

It also showed a container from the vessel emitting bright blue smoke as it floated in the ocean.

Prime Minister John Key has announced the stricken Rena cargo ship has "stress fractures" in its hull and may break up.

In a press conference at Maketu this afternoon, he told media the boat has sustained more damage to its hull.

"We have identified stress fractures along the boat so we can't rule out the risk of the ship breaking up."

Hundreds of dead birds have been found dead on the beaches around Tauranga as the oil from the container ship continues to cause environmental havoc.

Maritime New Zealand is considering issuing face masks to people living near beaches affected by the oil and New Zealand soldiers are now clearing up the Tauranga beaches affected by oil from the stricken container ship Rena.

The "world's best" navy architects are preparing reports on the damage to the Rena, while the ship's captain - who turned 44 on the day of the accident - has had his name suppressed during a brief appearance in court. more

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 12th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck South of the Fiji Islands at a depth of 56.7 km (35.2miles), the quake hit at 03:00:47 UTC Wednesday 12th October 2011.
The epicenter was 281 km ( 174 miles) North of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake BULGARIA - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Bulgaria at a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles), the quake hit at 19:49:08 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 6 km ( 3.7 miles) Northwest of Abla, Bulgaria
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR NORTH COAST OF PAPUA, INDONESIA - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck near the North Coast of Papua, Indonesia at a depth of 8 km (4.9 miles), the quake hit at 18:36:38 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 178 km ( 110 miles) West of Aberpura, Papua, Indonesia
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

FBI, DEA thwart terror plot in U.S. involving Iran, officials say - 11th Oct 2011

Attorney General Eric Holder, when asked how Iran would be held "accountable" in an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, said he expected action from the White House, the State Department and Treasury within the next few hours.

A US official expanded more about how the U.S. might hold Iran accountable. The official told CNN's Elise Labott that there are likely to be more sanctions and the U.S. will be taking this up with to the United Nations Security Council and other members of the international community.

One of the suspects, Manssor Arbabsiar, allegedly discussed bombing a restaurant in the United States that the Ambassador frequented, according to the complaint.

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said Tuesday there had been a "discussion of using explosive devices" to carry out the the alleged Iranian-linked terror plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Read More

Occupy Boston: Zero tolerance as Police arrest 100 protesters and 'throw their tents and belongings into bins' - 11th Oct 2011

A huge crackdown on Occupy Boston’s second campsite by hundreds of police officers saw around 100 protesters arrested and their tents and personal belongings reportedly thrown into bins.

They were arrested early this morning around 1:30am after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown greenway near where they have been camped out for more than a week, police said.

The protesters, part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, had tried to expand from their original site in Dewey Square to a second site across the street, along the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

A local conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage. The arrests were mostly for trespassing.

Police had warned protesters for hours they would have to return to Dewey Square, where a tent city has been steadily growing, and issued leaflets saying protesters could not occupy the greenway. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake EASTER ISLAND REGION - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Easter Island Region at a depth of 13.6 km (8.5 miles), the quake hit at 17:13:43 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 21 km ( 13 miles) Northeast of Hanga Roa, Easter Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Man, 42, 'falls to death trying to hang flyers' near Occupy San Diego protesters... but police say he committed suicide - 11th Oct 2011

A 42-year-old man plunged to his death in an eight-storey fall from a car park near where Occupy San Diego demonstrators were gathered.

He was trying to hang flyers from the outside of a multi-storey car park in the California city on Monday, the San Diego Medical Examiner said.

It’s not known if he identified with protesters and whether the flyers in his pockets were political tracts or had some other content, police said.

Police had reported the death as a suicide, but the Medical Examiner said he was trying to hang fliers from the outside of the car park and fell.

Protesters held a candlelight vigil on Monday hours after the death at around 3:15pm, instead of a protest march that was due to take place. Read More

China can't confront truth of century-old revolution

On this day 100 years ago, troops in the city of Wuchang, in China's Hubei province, launched a coup against local authorities. The coup ignited a civil war that ended in the collapse of China's 2,200-year-old imperial system.

When a republican government established itself in 1912, it designated October 10 as the national holiday. Even now, "Ten-Ten Day" remains the equivalent of the Fourth of July of the island of Taiwan and for many overseas Chinese communities.

On the mainland, however, the Ten-Ten holiday has always been a more ambiguous affair, and so it remains on this centenary.

The Los Angeles Times reported: "The government held low-key celebrations Sunday marking the centennial anniversary of the revolution that ended thousands of years of imperial rule and set the stage for the birth of today's China. Chinese President Hu Jintao and other dignitaries gathered in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, under a giant portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Republic of China -- the name still carried by modern-day Taiwan. Hu called for the peaceful reunification of China and Taiwan and reiterated his opposition to Taiwanese independence."

Beyond this political lecture, however, the anniversary was observed in remarkably muted style. A new museum opened in Wuhan. A historical movie was aired on state TV.

Some events will be held in the hometown of Sun Yat-Sen, the revolution's moral leader and the first president of the Chinese republic. But there's nothing remotely on the scale of the 2010 Shanghai Expo, let alone the 2008 Olympics.

And after all, that diffident approach should come as no surprise. Although the present government of China touts its nationalist credentials, it was born in rebellion -- not against imperial overlords, not against colonialist oppressors, not against Japanese invaders, but precisely against the inheritors of the republic established by the events of 1911: the Kuomintang party created by Sun Yat-Sen. more

Seattle's self-styled superhero arrested

Instead of the traditional bad guys, it was the costumed, self-styled superhero that ended up behind bars after an altercation Sunday in Seattle.

Phoenix Jones, the moniker used by a man who dons a skintight black-and-gold rubber suit and mask, was arrested on four counts of assault after allegedly trying to break up a fight with pepper spray, the Seattle Police Department said.

According to the statement, a group of men and women were leaving a downtown Seattle club at 2:32 a.m. Sunday and "were dancing and having a good time" when an "unknown adult male suspect came up from behind and pepper sprayed the group," the statement said.

"He inserted himself and sprayed them with pepper spray," Seattle Police spokesman Mark Jamieson told CNN. Jones was arrested and charged with four counts of assault, Jamieson said.

But Jones claimed he used the pepper spray only to break up a fight and to protect himself. "I would never hurt or harm another person if they were not causing harm to another human being," read a message from Jones on his Facebook page.

For about a year, the masked Jones has patrolled the streets of Seattle, often with a film crew in tow, looking for crime and generating international headlines.

Jamieson said it is unclear how many -- if any -- crimes Jones has assisted police with. Police urge people to call 911 rather than take the law into their own hands, he added.

On a video released by Jones of the incident that led to his arrest, Jones is heard telling the film crew to call 911, then rushes into a crowd of people who appear to be engaged in an altercation.

A spokesman for Jones said he had no recourse but to get involved. "The fight was a huge group of people against a smaller group," said Peter Tangen. "It was an unfair fight, he went there to break it up." more

Deborah Bradley preparing to be arrested as police order local TV stations to hand over footage of interviews with Baby Lisa's family

Police are searching a well behind a vacant house a few blocks away from missing 10-month-old Lisa Irwin's home, one week after the baby disappeared from her bed.

Police squad cars have surrounded the house in Kansas City, Missouri, and officials have confirmed they are searching a well in a wooden backyard deck.

A neighbour said the house has been vacant for three or four years.

The mother of the missing girl is preparing to be arrested, her family have revealed today.

Deborah Bradley is reported to be getting ready to be taken into custody and charged in connection with her 10-month-old baby's disappearance.

It comes as local TV stations have been ordered to hand over footage of all interviews with the missing baby's parents and friends so they can be compared for consistency. Read More

All eyes on Slovakia after Malta greenlights eurozone rescue fund

There is just one hurdle left in the process of gaining approval for new powers to rescue the euro. After Malta gave its approval on Monday evening, only Slovakia has yet to approve the scheme.

The Maltese parliament voted unanimously to approve the new powers for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) after two marathon sessions and a week's delay over a legal objection.

"This shows Malta's commitment towards European financial security," Finance Minister Tonio Fenech told the German news agency dpa after the vote.

Under the new rules agreed to by eurozone leaders this summer, the fund will be allowed to buy states' debt and recapitalize banks facing solvency troubles. The changes must be approved unanimously by the legislatures of all eurozone states, however, an example of how difficult policymaking can be across the 17-member currency union. more

Distressed homeowners join anti- corporate movement



The Occupy demonstrations we are seeing in cities throughout the US have encouraged diverse groups to march in the streets.

­In Los Angeles, homeowners facing foreclosure loudly expressed their shared grievances of the Occupy Wall Street movement and are planning to fight back.

Ten protesters took over the lobby of a Bank of America branch in Los Angeles and were willing to get arrested in order to send a clear message to Wall Street.

“We’re here to let the banksters know, you’ve stolen all the money from the land and we want it back,” said Peggy Mears, a protester yelling through a microphone.

More than a thousand people took to the streets of Los Angeles to speak out against the nation’s biggest banks and the role they played in the financial crisis. Protesters from Occupy Los Angeles joined the demonstration in solidarity with foreclosed homeowners and union workers, demanding that banks pay up.

Dozens of police officers, many in riot gear, were called to keep the crowd under control.

The anti corporate mobilizations, which started in New York, are spreading and now some of those most affected by the nation’s economic crisis are joining in.

Rose Gudiel received an eviction notice after falling behind on her mortgage payments.

“I’m a state worker and due to that I was furloughed and they lowered my hours so they also lowered my pay,” said Gudiel. more

Falls Church Tree House May Get The Ax -- Fathers need "permits" to make treehouses for children now, apparently



A tree house is causing controversy in one Falls Church neighborhood after a father built it for his two young boys. Fairfax County officials are considering tearing it down because the tree house violates county rules because it was built in the front yard. He needed a permit first to build the tree house.

Mark Grapin says he didn't know about that rule until after he built it. He spent nearly $2,000 trying to make it legal. His sons helped him build the treehouse.

Last month he says the board voted against him in a hearing, meaning the tree house will have to come down. The family will appeal. The boys are making their plea to the board. Their next hearing is November 30th and many neighbors are hoping that the tree house will get to stay put. more

US crime predicting technology tests draw Minority Report comparisons

The US Department of Homeland Security has begun testing crime predicting technology that is drawing comparisons to the science fiction film Minority Report.

Using cameras and sensors the "pre-crime" system measures and tracks changes in a person's body movements, the pitch of their voice and the rhythm of their speech.

It also monitors breathing patterns, eye movements, blink rate and alterations in body heat, which are used to assess an individual's likelihood to commit a crime.

The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) programme is already being tested on a group of government employees who volunteered to act as guinea pigs.

The first test was carried out at an undisclosed location in the north-eastern United States.

According to the Department of Homeland Security it was not at an airport, but was at a "large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting". more

California Governor Veto Allows Warrantless Cellphone Searches

California Gov. Jerry Brown is vetoing legislation requiring police to obtain a court warrant to search the mobile phones of suspects at the time of any arrest.

The Sunday veto means that when police arrest anybody in the Golden State, they may search that person’s mobile phone — which in the digital age likely means the contents of persons’ e-mail, call records, text messages, photos, banking activity, cloud-storage services, and even where the phone has traveled.

Police across the country are given wide latitude to search persons incident to an arrest based on the premise of officer safety. Now the nation’s states are beginning to grapple with the warrantless searches of mobile phones done at the time of an arrest. more

Government Orders Google to Turn Over WikiLeaks Info

Google and a smaller Internet provider are being forced by the federal government to turn over information from email accounts associated with a WikiLeaks volunteer.

A secret court order will require the Mountain View-based search company and Santa Rosa-based Sonic.net to provide data from the email accounts of Jacob Appelbaum, who was a volunteer for the controversial site WikiLeaks.

The government is reportedly after information about who Appelbaum associated with. Applebaum is one of the few people who is being investigated by the U.S. government for leaking classified documents.

Google declined comment when asked but Sonic.net said it tried to fight the order but could not afford to keep up the legal battle. source

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake PAKISTAN - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Pakistan at a depth of 34.8 km (21.6 miles), the quake hit at 16:46:13 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 201 km ( 125 miles) WNW from Nawabshah, Pakistan
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

NATO: Continued resistance in Libya 'surprising'



NATO says the continuing resistance by pro-Gadhafi forces in Sirte and other locations in Libya is "surprising" because they are fighting a losing battle.

NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie said on Tuesday that instead of opting for a political solution, the former strongman's troops have chosen to continue fighting and "to inflict pain on the rest of the population in Libya." But, he says they can no longer mobilize significant forces or command those forces.

Lavoie says that Gadhafi loyalists can no longer be resupplied in the battle for Sirte after the new government's units won control of key parts of the town's center.

He says, "so from that perspective, it just does not make sense to see what these few remaining forces are doing." source

Eating Puppy Meat Is the Same as Eating Pork, British TV Chef Says

British TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall claimed that eating puppy meat is no more morally objectionable than consuming pork.

The celebrity chef previously shocked viewers by eating placenta pate, curried fruit bat, giraffe and calf testicles and now claims that he would not be against a "high-welfare organic puppy farm."

Fearnley-Whittingstall, the star of Channel 4's "River Cottage," was asked by British magazine Radio Times whether he would try loin of Labrador or cat liver.

"Not unless I was on the point of starvation," he replied. "In principle, but not in practice, I have no objection to a high-welfare organic puppy farm."

He added, "You can't object, unless you also object to the farming of pigs. It's an artificial construct of our society, a cultural decision, to make pets out of dogs and meat out of pigs. Both animals could be used the other way round, although pigs probably do make better meat than dogs and dogs better pets than pigs, but it's not a foregone conclusion." source

Inmates could staff fire stations in Georgia county

Officials in southeast Georgia are considering a money-saving program that would put inmates in fire stations.

The program would put two inmates in each of three existing firehouses in Camden County.

Officials say the inmates would respond to all emergencies - including residential fires - alongside traditional firefighters.

The inmates would have no guard, but would be monitored by a surveillance system and by the traditional firefighters, who would undergo training to guard the inmates. Authorities say one traditional firefighter with correctional training can supervise up to three inmates.

Authorities say the inmate firefighter program could save the county more than $500,000 a year by some estimates. Inmates charged with crimes such as drug offenses and thefts would be eligible. source

Occupy Chicago: Thousands in Chicago protest financial industry

Thousands of people including teachers, religious leaders and union workers marched in downtown Chicago on Monday to voice mounting anger over joblessness and income inequality in protests that snarled rush-hour traffic.

Chanting "We are the 99 percent" and "Tax, tax, tax the rich," some demonstrators marched on Michigan Avenue and gathered outside the Chicago Art Institute where a U.S. futures industry trade group was holding an evening cocktail reception.

Others marched outside a luxury hotel near to where the American Mortgage Bankers Association was holding a meeting downtown.

Five separate "feeder marches" -- which converged into one giant march up Michigan Ave -- were inspired by, but not formally affiliated with, the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York last month and sparked smaller protests nationwide.

Police estimated a crowd of around 3,000 protesters at the events, organized by the "Stand Up Chicago" coalition with the stated goal of reclaiming "our jobs, our homes and our schools," according to the group's website.

"We really want to highlight the role the financial industry has played," said Adam Kader of Arise Chicago, an interfaith workers' rights group and part of the coalition. more

Thailand Record Floods has killed at least 269 People and untold amounts of Damage- 11th Oct 2011


A reclining stone Buddha smiles serenely as a boat drifts past with smiling occupants paddling happily in the Thailand sunshine.

In a second image, a golden statue wearing a traditional robe stands partially submerged in the grounds of an ancient temple.

And in the final image, a child appears unconcerned as he swims near another Buddha statue in a world heritage historical park in Ayutthaya province.

These pictures could almost be holiday snaps taken by enthusiastic backpackers spending a few months travelling through Thailand.

But the picturesque photographs belie the fact the popular tourist destination is reeling from the human and financial toll of nationwide flooding. Read More

NYPD Fights Teenage Girls in Subway



A group of teenage girls caught fare-beating got into an all-out brawl with police who pulled them off the subway Friday night, and one bystander captured the frenetic fight on video.

The newly released YouTube video (seen below) shows a few of the girls, ages 14 to 16, talking and fighting back against the two cops as they tried to arrest them for jumping the turnstile at the 125th Street station.

At one point, it appears one of the girls almost gets into a boxing match with one of the cops. Another one whacks one of the police officers with her yellow-checkered bag.

The brazen brawl continues for a few minutes until the police call in reinforcement, and what appears to be a dozen police officers, some in plainclothes, show up brandishing nightsticks. more

U.S. oil tanker sunk by Japanese in revenge for Pearl Harbor STILL poses threat to California coast as three billion gallons of oil is trapped

Two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese submarine shot a torpedo at an American oil tanker just off the California coast, sinking the ship and sending three million gallons (11.36 million litres) of crude to the ocean bottom.

All 38 people on board were rescued in what remains an overlooked chapter of World War II - it was one of several attacks by Japanese and German forces on the U.S. mainland during the war.

The SS Montebello has sat mostly intact 900 feet below the surface with the oil remarkably still on board after seven decades.

A mission to see how much of the oil remains in the hold of the 440-foot ship launches this week to help officials determine how to prevent the crude from leaking and marring the celebrated central California coastline.

A catastrophic release, such as an earthquake, could crack the hull of the wreck and send the crude spewing into the ocean. Read More


New Zealand says leaking ship environmental disaster

Rough weather has jostled a cargo ship stuck off New Zealand's coast and worsened its oil leak fivefold to make it the country's worst-ever maritime environmental disaster, the government said Tuesday.

Clumps of heavy oil from the Liberia-flagged Rena have washed up on pristine beaches near Tauranga on New Zealand's North Island, and environmental officials said 53 birds were found dead and 17 were getting emergency treatment to remove oil from their feathers.

"This event has come to a scale where it is New Zealand's most significant environmental maritime disaster," Environment Minister Nick Smith told reporters in Tauranga, adding that the clean-up would take weeks.

The ship has been foundering since it ran aground Oct. 5 on the Astrolabe Reef, about 22 kilometres from Tauranga Harbour, and the government has demanded to know why the ship crashed into the well-charted reef in calm weather. The ship owner has given no reason for the grounding, but says it is co-operating with authorities.

Rough weather in recent days has kept salvage crews away.

Late Monday, the 236-metre ship shifted significantly, spilling hundreds of tons of oil from an unidentified rupture in the hull, said Nick Bohm, a spokesman for Maritime New Zealand which is managing the emergency response.

Up to 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil spilled from the hull Tuesday, a rate about five times worse than during the initial days of the spill, Smith said. more

'Significant' oil leakage from ship aground off New Zealand

A "significant" amount of oil is leaking from a container ship that ran aground on a reef off the pristine east coast of New Zealand's north island, officials said Tuesday.

New Zealand's oil spill response agency, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ), said in a statement that the ship has sustained "some damage from current movement and there is a significant amount of oil leaking from the vessel."

MNZ estimates that 130-350 tonnes of oil have leaked from the vessel, which was carrying 1,700 cubic meters (450,000 gallons) of fuel.

The agency said that the vessel was still intact, but was being moved around by strong seas.

Clumps of oil from the leaking ship have been found on Mount Maunganui beach in the Bay of Plenty.

MNZ is advising people to avoid the beach for health reasons.

Oil began leaking from the Rena, a Liberian-flagged vessel, after it struck the Astrolabe Reef, about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Tauranga, on the North Island, on Wednesday, creating a five-km (three-mile) slick.

Efforts to recover oil from the grounded ship, now heading south down the coast, are being hampered by high winds and strong swells.

Approximately 10 tonnes of fuel oil was transferred to tanks on board a barge before the recovery operation was suspended on Monday. more

California revenues down by $705 million

Revenues flowed into state coffers at a lower rate than projected in September, short about $302 million, putting California a total of $705.5 million below expectations for the first three months of the fiscal year, Controller John Chiang said Monday.

Department of Finance officials cautioned that the controller's numbers count revenues in a way that may not show all the actual money on hand and that they may not be the most accurate picture of California's finances. Still, Chiang said the numbers were of concern.

As part of the budget deal signed in June, automatic trigger cuts would take place if revenues are projected to fall short of expectations by more than $1 billion. A second round of triggered cuts would take place if the revenues are short by $2 billion or more.

"For better or worse, the potential for revenue shortfalls is precisely why the governor and Legislature included trigger cuts in this year's state spending plan," Chiang said. "September's revenues alone do not guarantee that triggers will be pulled. But as the largest revenue month before December, these numbers do not paint a hopeful picture."

H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance, said the decision about trigger cuts will be made based on an updated revenue forecast for the next year that will be made in December, not on cash reports.

"We've said it before and we'll say it again, you can't build a long-term trend off of just one month's cash receipts," Palmer said.

The Finance Department will release its report on September revenue receipts in the coming days. source

Highland Park in dark after 1,400 street lights removed to settle bill

Most of the city's street lights have been repossessed because officials failed to pay a multimillion-dollar utility bill, giving rise to concerns about safety and crime in darkened neighborhoods.

DTE Energy crews have removed about 1,400 light poles from Highland Park as part of a settlement that allowed the city to avoid paying $4 million in unpaid bills going back several years. DTE, which says the work will be completed by Oct. 31, has replaced 200 lights with newer models on street corners, but most neighborhoods remain in the dark.

Highland Park, plagued by financial trouble, was able to reduce its monthly utility bill from $62,000 to $15,000, an amount officials say fits the city's budget.

But residents and business owners complain that the resulting darkness is like a welcome mat for criminals.

"After they took the street light from in front of my business, someone climbed onto my roof and stole an air conditioning unit," said Bobby Hargrove, owner of Hargrove Machinery Sales on Oakland Avenue, who also claims a police officer asked him for money to beef up his protection. "I feel like I'm being punished — I've always paid my bills on time, but they took the street light anyway."

Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp insists that crime has not increased since the lights were removed.

"I had the police chief work up the crime stats, and found that most of our burglaries are taking place during the daylight hours," Yopp said.

But resident Robert Davis, secretary of the city's school board, said three schools were broken into at night, right after the street lights were removed. "Thankfully, DTE agreed to put new lights in front of the schools, although they're not all up yet," he said.

DTE spokesman Len Singer said Highland Park is "a unique situation."

"We did everything we could to try to help the city come to a level of service they could manage," Singer said. "We wanted to work with the city to maintain some level of service, and do so in a way that would allow the city to cover the bill each month. They simply weren't able to maintain the costs for having all the previous lights." more

Cash-Strapped Topeka May Stop Prosecuting Domestic Violence

Cash-strapped Topeka, Kansas, has decided to stop prosecuting domestic violence casses in order to save money.

The City Council announced the proposal Oct. 4, after the Shawnee County District Attorney's office announced it could no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases. The city's maneuver may even require repealing the part of the city code that bans domestic battery. Mayor Bill Bunten told the Topeka Capital-Journal city officials take domestic violence seriously, and it would be "dead wrong" to assume offenders won't be prosecuted. But the dispute is over who would pay for it, he said.

Shawnee County has already dropped 30 domestic violence cases since it stopped prosecuting the crime on Sept. 8. Some 16 people have been arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery charges and then released after charges were not filed.

County District Attorney Chad Taylor has reportedly offered to review all misdemeanor cases filed in Topeka for potential prosecution, including those now handled by the city's municipal court, in exchange for a one-time payment of $350,000 from the city.

The Topeka YWCA said the problem must be resolved. more

German push for Greek default risks EMU-wide 'snowball'

Germany is pushing behind the scenes for a "hard" default in Greece with losses of up to 60pc for banks and pension funds, risking a chain-reaction across southern Europe unless credible defences are established first.

Officials in Berlin told The Telegraph it is "more likely than not" that investors will suffer fresh losses on holdings of Greek debt, beyond the 21pc haircut agreed in July.

The exact level will depend on findings by the EU-IMF "Troika" in Athens.

"A lot has happened since July. Greece has fallen back on its commitments, so we have to assume that the 21pc cut is no longer enough," said one source.

Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that the original haircuts were "probably" too low, saying banks must have "sufficient capital" to cover greater losses if need be. Estimates near 60pc have been circulating in Berlin.

The shift in German policy has ominous echoes of last year when Chancellor Angela Merkel first called for bondholder haircuts, setting off investor flight from Ireland and a fresh spasm in the EU debt crisis. more

Occupy Wall Street... mansions

Occupy Wall Street is on the move ... uptown.

Why uptown? Because that's where the rich folks live!

Community groups and progressive organizations that have been working with the broader Occupy Wall Street movement are planning a march on Tuesday that will visit the homes of JP Morgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) CEO Jamie Dimon, billionaire David Koch, hedge fund honcho John Paulson, Howard Milstein, and News Corp (NWSA, Fortune 500) CEO Rupert Murdoch.

The millionaires and billionaires are being targeted for what event organizers called a "willingness to hoard wealth at the expense of the 99%."

So far, protesters have not strayed too far from downtown, where a home base of sorts has been established at Zuccotti Park.

Tuesday's march -- organized by UnitedNY, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, the Working Families Party and New York Communities for Change -- will cover quite a bit of ground if successful. more

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Andaman Islands, India Region at a depth of 91.5 km (56.9 miles), the quake hit at 13:40:41 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 331 km ( 205 miles) WNW of Myeik (Mergui), Myanmar
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Afghan opium production 'rises by 61%' compared with 2010

Opium production in Afghanistan rose by 61% this year compared with 2010, according to a UN report.

The increase has been attributed to rising opium prices that have driven farmers to expand cultivation of the illicit opium poppy by 7% in 2011.

Last year opium production halved largely due to a plant infection which drastically reduced yields.

Afghanistan produces 90% of the world's opium - 5,800 tonnes this year - the main ingredient of heroin.

Analysts say that revenue from the drug has helped fund the Taliban insurgency.

Farmers who responded to the survey described economic hardship and lucrative prices as the main reasons for the increase.

Nearly 80% of the opium grown in Afghanistan is being produced in provinces in the south, including Helmand and Kandahar, which are among the most volatile in the country.

The UN says this demonstrates that there is a clear link between insecurity and opium cultivation. more

Why the recovery feels worse than the recession

America feels a gloomier place today than when I arrived two years ago.

It is not hard to work out why. Most, including the president and the White House, expected people would be feeling the effects of the recovery by now.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein has written a fascinating analysis of what went wrong.

"The promised recovery was always just around the corner, but it never quite came. Eventually, the American people stopped listening. A September poll showed that 50% of Americans thought Obama's policies had hurt the economy."

But a report from Sentier Research out today suggests the gloom isn't just down to punctured expectations.

People are actually poorer.

The report says that household income has gone down more in the period officially labelled as a recovery than in the recession itself.

The authors, Gordon Green and John Coder, who used to work for the US Census bureau, write that during the official recession, the real median annual household income fell from $55,309 (£35,287) to $53,518, a difference of 3.2%

But between June 2009 and June 2011 - a time when the US economy was in recovery - that same indicator of household income fell by an additional 6.7%, from $53,518 to $49,909.

Not surprisingly the figures indicate the unemployed suffered the largest drop in income (18.4% decline in median average income), but single-parent families (7.3%) and African-Americans (9.4%) also did badly.

The report found from the entire period of December 2007 to June 2011, real median annual household income has declined by 9.8%. more

UK seeing a big rise in poverty, says IFS

Falling incomes will mean the biggest drop for middle-income families since the 1970s, says a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The IFS forecasts two years "dominated by a large decline" in incomes, pushing 600,000 more children into poverty,

By 2013 there will be 3.1 million children in poverty in the UK, according to the IFS projections.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said benefits changes would tackle poverty by "making work pay". more

Vitamins linked with higher death risk in older women (the picture says it all)

When it comes to vitamins, it appears you could have too much of a good thing, say researchers who report a link between their use and higher death rates among older women.

Experts have suspected for some time that supplements may only be beneficial if a person is deficient in a nutrient.

And excess may even harm, as the study in Archives of Internal Medicine finds.

All of the women, in their 50s and 60s, were generally well nourished yet many had decided to take supplements.

Multivitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron in particular appeared to increase mortality risk.

The researchers believe consumers are buying supplements with no evidence that they will provide any benefit. more

50 Occupy Boston protesters arrested

The national Occupy Wall Street movement has been heating up again, resulting in about 50 arrests in Boston early Tuesday and plans for a Manhattan "Millionaires March" to the homes of some of New York City's wealthiest residents.

The protesters from the Occupy Boston movement were arrested after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown greenway near where they have been camped out for more than a week, police said.

Police spokesman Jamie Kenneally said the arrests began about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and were mostly for trespassing. A conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage.

Hundreds of college students marched through downtown Boston on Monday and gathered on Boston Common, holding signs that read "Fund education, not corporations." The protesters are angry with an education system they say mimics "irresponsible, unaccountable, and unethical financial practices" of Wall Street. more

U.N. peacekeepers killed in Darfur -- why is this situation still unresolved?

Three United Nations peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in a camp for displaced people in Sudan's Darfur region, the global body said Tuesday.

Two of the dead were soldiers; the third was a police adviser for the joint U.N. and African Union mission in the troubled region. Another six peacekeepers were injured in the incident.

They came under attack at 10:15 Monday night in the Zam Zam camp in North Darfur while the security unit was on patrol. One of the assailants was also killed, a statement from the joint mission said.

It was unclear why the attack occurred.

The peacekeeping mission in Darfur is the world's largest at 20,000 authorized troops. Since it began in 2008, 33 peacekeepers have been killed.

"I condemn in the strongest terms this attack on our peacekeepers who have worked selflessly to bring security to the internally displaced persons of Zam Zam camp where so many Darfuris have sought refuge," said Ibrahim Gambari, head of the mission. "An attack on international peacekeepers is a war crime and we will ensure that justice will be served."

Darfur is among the most dangerous areas of operation for U.N. personnel. The region remains a tinderbox. At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others driven from their homes as a result of fighting between Sudanese rebel groups and the Khartoum government and its allied armed militia. source

Occupy Wall Street moves uptown



A group of Wall Street demonstrators is expected to leave the confines of Lower Manhattan on Tuesday and head uptown, organizers said, as the loosely defined movement approaches a fourth consecutive week.

An afternoon march will take protesters past the homes of well-to-do folks like JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, billionaire David Koch, and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Demonstrators typically have not strayed too far from downtown, where a home base of sorts has been established at Zuccotti Park, a privately owned park in New York's financial district.

Protesters plan to hop on the subway, emerging at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street near Central Park, where they will hold a press conference at noon before starting their tour.

It remains unclear how many people will take part.

On Monday, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, music star Kanye West and the Rev. Al Sharpton added their celebrity to the Occupy Wall Street cause.

Their visits came as the burgeoning movement continued to echo from coast to coast, voicing impassioned sentiments on a range of topics while railing against what protesters describe as corporate greed, political ineptitude and the inordinate power wielded by America's wealthiest people. more

Thai capital braces for flood disaster

Thailand's capital was braced for unprecedented flooding Tuesday, amid the monsoon rains that have overwhelmed much of the country and neighboring Cambodia in recent weeks.

So far 269 people have been killed in Thailand, according to the country's Flood Relief Operations Command. Some 60 of the country's 76 provinces have so far been affected, impacting some eight million people.

In Bangkok officials beefed up flood prevention measures as waterways, including the main Chao Phraya River, became bloated by rising water.

On Monday, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered canal dredging and reinforcement of flood-prevention embankments to protect the city, state-run news agency MCOT reported. In addition, three new flood-prevention walls were being built at two locations in Rangsit, in northern Bangkok, and in Taling Chan, in the western part of the city. more

China warns of trade war ahead of U.S. currency vote

A bill that will penalize China for allegedly manipulating its currency to gain a trade advantage is headed for a vote in the U.S. Senate Tuesday, adding pressure on China to appreciate the yuan.

China opposes the bill and warns of a trade war if the bill is passed.

"Should the proposed legislation be made into law, the result would be a trade war and that would be a lose-lose situation for both sides," said Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai.

"It would be detrimental to the development of economic ties and might have an adverse impact on bilateral relations."

Vice Minister Cui spoke in a press briefing one day before a high-level meeting in Beijing with his American counterpart, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell. The two senior diplomats are expected to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues.

Even if the bill passes in the Senate, it still needs to go through deliberation and vote by the U.S. House of Representatives. more

Yemen: Thousands of women demonstrate, dozens injured



Days after a prominent Yemeni human rights activist became the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, dozens of women were injured after gangs attacked during a march in her honor, witnesses in the city of Taiz said Monday.

Thousands of women gathered in the southern Yemeni city to celebrate Tawakkol Karman's honor Sunday. Demonstrators also called on the international community to support a revolution in Yemen, witnesses said.

At least 38 women were injured by rocks and batons when pro-government gangs attacked at Sunday's march, said Yasser al-Nusari, a medic in Taiz's Freedom Square. Abdulhaleem Al-Madashi, a spokesman for the protest movement there, corroborated that account.

The Yemeni government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Abdullah Sabri, a youth activist in Taiz, said that pro-government thugs using batons and rocks attacked.

"It's a shame to attack women.... Rocks were randomly thrown directly towards the female marchers," Sabri said. more

Sectarian tensions on the rise in Egypt

Greece: One step closer to more bailout funds (and default)

International monitors in Greece completed a review of the nation's finances, and said the latest installment of the nation's €10 billion bailout could be disbursed in early November.

The European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- known as the troika -- said they had completed their fifth review of Greece and agreed "on the economic and financial policies needed to bring the government's economic program back on track."

The officials said they believe Greece will be able to meet its 2011-2012 fiscal targets, citing a rebound in exports "albeit from a low base." The troika noted that rebound could lead toward "more balanced and sustainable growth over the medium term."

But the officials offered a dismal outlook on the fiscal future for Greece, noting that "the recession will be deeper than was anticipated in June and a recovery is now expected only from 2013 onwards." more

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake PAPUA, INDONESIA - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck Papua, Indonesia at a depth of 20.3 km (12.6 miles), the quake hit at 13:05:48 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 209 km ( 129 miles) West of Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Oil spill disaster New Zealand's 'worst in decades' - 11th Oct 2011

An oil spill from a stranded cargo ship off New Zealand is the country's worst environmental disaster in decades, the government says.

Officials say 350 tonnes of oil may have leaked from the 775ft (236m) Rena, which ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off the port of Tauranga on Wednesday.

Bad weather has halted work to pump oil off the ship.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the situation was going to get "significantly worse" in coming days.

"This event has come to a stage where it is New Zealand's most significant maritime environmental disaster," he told a news briefing in Tauranga.

Mr Smith said the rate at which oil was gushing out of the ship had increased "fivefold" since it ran aground.

"The government is determined to throw everything possible at minimising the environmental harm of what is now clear to be New Zealand's worst environmental disaster in many decades."

Warning to shipping

The Rena, which was heading to Tauranga port, is still intact but is now listing at 18 degrees.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ), which is managing the emergency response, said an estimated 200 to 350 tonnes of oil had been released. Read More

Tracy Lyons who was jailed for FOUR Years is Freed after just ten months: for her part in Colin Blanchard paehttp://www.blogger.com/img/dophile ring

"Just when you think our justice system couldn't get any worse"

A child abuser who was jailed in January for four years for her role in a national paedophile ring was released yesterday, it has been claimed.

Tracy Lyons, 41, admitted sexually abusing a two-year-old boy and sending the video to a man she met online.

The mother-of-nine was released from HMP Bronzefield in Surrey just ten months after her sentence was handed down, the Sun reported.

Mr Justice Royston jailed her alongside Colin Blanchard and Tracey Dawber at Bristol Crown Court in January.

He told the trio: ‘It is beyond the ken of decent people how any of you could stoop so disgustingly low as you did.’

Lyons, a former nursery worker, has been in custody since she was first arrested in October 2009 - so has now served half the sentence. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL PERU - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Central Peru at a depth of 38.7 km (24 miles), the quake hit at 11:36:50 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 195 km ( 121 miles) Northeast of Huancayo, Peru
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Kermadec Islands Region at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 11:16:24 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 468 km ( 291 miles) East from Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHWEST OF SUMATRA, INDONESIA - 11th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Southwest of Sumatra, Indonesia at a depth of 5.6 km (3.5 miles), the quake hit at 10:25:12 UTC Tuesday 11th October 2011.
The epicenter was 277 km ( 172 miles) Southwest of T.-Telukbetung, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Mountain Biker gets taken out by a Antelope - 10th Oct 2011

2 arson attacks in Germany aimed at rail services - 10th Oct 2011

An attack at Berlin's main train station was thwarted on Monday when workers found a hidden device before it could explode, police said.

Earlier Monday, a similar device exploded near a high-speed train line west of Berlin, causing some damage but no casualties, and halting train traffic there for the day.

An unknown leftist group claimed responsibility for the device that exploded, saying it wants to protest Germany's role in the war in Afghanistan.

Police were examining the message's authenticity and trying to determine if the same group was responsible for both attacks.

At the train station near Germany's Chancellery in central Berlin the explosive device discovered by railway employees was set to explode soon, police said. Experts secured seven bottles filled with flammable liquid bundled together and linked to a fuse, Federal Police spokeswoman Nadine Marschner said.

Railway employees alerted authorities at midday after detecting suspicious items at the north end of one of the station's tunnels, 100 yards (meters) from train platforms, she added. Read More

Hurricane Jova Heads for Mexico Coast as Warnings Issued - 11th Oct 2011

Hurricane Jova prompted Mexico’s government to issue storm warnings as the Category 3 weather system moved toward the nation’s southwestern Pacific coast.

Jova, with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour, is expected to come ashore today as a major hurricane, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in an advisory at 2 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Storm warnings were issued for the area north of Cabo Corrientes northward to San Blas, and north of San Blas to El Roblito.

“The concern right now is we have a seaport in Manzanillo that faces south, and if this hurricane comes up right into the harbor, it can bring a powerful storm surge,” Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, said yesterday. “Jova is a small hurricane and that is one positive thing about it.”

Jova’s hurricane-strength winds of 74 mph or more extend only 15 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds of 39 mph reach out 90 miles from the core, according to the hurricane center. That size will limit the impact. Read More

Occupy 2011