Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reconstructing the Black Death: World first as DNA experts sequence genome of the plague - 13th Oct 2011

DNA experts have sequenced the entire genome of the bubonic plague in a bid to help understand the spread of infectious diseases.

It is first time scientists have been able to reconstruct an ancient pathogen and it will allow researchers to track changes in its evolution and virulence over time.

The work by an international team of researchers from Germany and Canada., published in the journal Nature, could lead to a better understanding of modern infectious diseases.

In a separate recent study, the team also described a novel approach to pulling out tiny degraded DNA fragments of the causative agent of the Black Death, and showed how a specific variant of the Yersinia pestis bacterium was responsible for the plague that killed 50 million Europeans between 1347 and 1351.

After that success, the next major step was to attempt to 'capture' and sequence the entire genome, said geneticist Hendrick Poinar of the University of Tubingen. Read More

Website News: Oct 12, 2011 (New posts below)

Hello everyone,

1. Important events:
The El Hierro situation, New Zealand oil spill and a possible upcoming quake in the pacific region are keeping us busy here at the Coming Crisis. We may be issuing an alert in the coming days regarding any one of these three events, so please stay tuned.

2. Elenin update: If you haven't read our editorial on the 4th Elenin alignment event, please click here to do so. We strongly feel that a 4th event did in fact occur, and will be observing the situation as we proceed into November, which is when the 5th alignment event is to take place.

3. October giveaways: There's still time to make a donation and enter yourself into our free giveaway draw (remember that this is an October-only event to thank all our readers). There's great prizes from generous sponsors, and all contributions go towards supporting this website and our work. We write a person letter of thanks to all who give.

Take care and keep those eyeballs open,

-- Matt & Lynsey

'Mars was earthlike for a few hours a day': Martian landscape was warmer than thought... could it have supported life? - 13th Oct 2011

Mars once had earthlike conditions for at least a few hours a day, according to new research.

The findings make it more plausible that the planet could have supported life, though if the warm temperatures were only temporary that still remains unlikely.

Nonetheless, the pioneering findings were described as 'remarkable' and 'really cool' by one of the study's authors.

The research, which analysed the minerals in a four billion-year-old Martian meteorite, provides the first strong evidence that Mars used to be warmer and wetter than it is now.

The minerals seem to have formed at around 18c (64f). Read More

Mis-selling warning on new plan for pensions as millions could be victims of Government-sponsored rip-off

Millions of workers could be the victims of a Government-sponsored pensions rip-off which could halve the value of their investment, a leading fund manager warned yesterday.

David Pitt-Watson said plans to force all bosses to set up pensions for their workers are riddled with major problems.

Questioned by MPs, he predicted ‘headline after headline after headline about pensions that have been mis-sold’.

He fears Britain is storing up another disaster on a par with the mis-selling of payment protection insurance which triggered a £5billion compensation bill.

His concerns surround the introduction of rules which for the first time will oblige employers to set up pensions for their workers, which both they and the employee will contribute to.

At present only a third of private sector workers are paying into a pension, which means the majority do not have a single penny in a nest egg to pay for their retirement. Read More

6.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF BALI, INDONESIA - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake has struck South of Bali, Indonesia at a depth of 35.1 km (21.8 miles), the quake hit at 03:16:32 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 100 km ( 62 miles) Southwest of Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

'It's an act of war': U.S. vows action over bizarre Iranian plot to hire Mexican drugs cartel to kill Saudi ambassador in D.C. restaurant blast

House Speaker John Boehner today called on Obama to 'hold Iran's feet to the fire' in the wake of the thwarting of a 'significant terrorist act' by agents working for the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to America in Washington DC.

The Republican leader led calls for the President to take swift and decisive action against the Ahmadinejad administration after the discovery of the plot, which Mr Boehner called 'a very serious breach of international behaviour'.

Vice President Joe Biden this morning said that 'nothing has been taken off the table' as the U.S. discusses possible sanctions and military action. He said the consequences for Iran will be 'serious'.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old U.S. citizen who also holds an Iranian passport, appeared in court in New York last night accused of trying to hire a Mexican drugs cartel to carry out the killing. Read More


Top judge's furious attack on courts for using human rights laws to defy Parliament

British courts are using Human Rights legislation to knock down laws rightly made by Parliament, a Supreme Court judge said yesterday.

Lord Brown launched a furious attack on other judges for making ‘highly contentious’ rulings and ‘frustrating’ Government policy decisions.

His comments came as his court, against his wishes, overturned a ban on marriage visas for foreign nationals wanting to marry a Briton when either is under 21.

The rule was designed to protect against forced marriages involving vulnerable young women.

But by a four to one majority, the Supreme Court judges said it was a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a ‘private and family life’. Read More

Occupy London: Thousands plan camp in London's financial centre inspired by 'Occupy Wall Street' campaign - 13th Oct 2011

Hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters marched on the Chase Bank headquarters in New York yesterday waving placards and chanting slogans attacking corporate greed and social inequality.

The march came a day after members of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which has been camping in a square in Manhattan’s financial district for more than three weeks, protested outside the homes of billionaires including Rupert Murdoch and banker Jamie Dimon.

There have been more than 100 spin-off protests in U.S. cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle, and UK supporters plan a similar march near the London Stock Exchange on Saturday.

UK protesters have been inspired by the growing 'Occupy Wall Street' movement in the U.S and are planning to establish a tent city in London's financial district this weekend. Read More

Eight Killed In US Hair Salon Shooting, California - 13th Oct 2011

Eight people have been killed and one is critically injured after a gunman opened fire in a packed hair salon in California.

The shooter reportedly had several weapons and was wearing body armour, although this has not been confirmed.

Police said a man was arrested without incident a short time after the attack in the small town of Seal Beach, 30 miles south of Los Angeles.

Six were initially reported dead but the figure later rose to eight.

Officers are not looking for anyone else in connection with the shooting on Wednesday afternoon. The motive is still unclear.

Police responded to a 911 call reporting gunfire at the salon.

A police spokesman said: "Upon arrival we found six confirmed deceased people, along with three critically injured parties, which were transported to a local hospital.

"The officers identified the (suspect's) vehicle as it was leaving the location.

"They followed it and made a traffic stop and took the driver into custody."

Police are investigating what links, if any, the gunman had to the salon.

"At this point in time we do not know what he said, or if he said anything at all during the shooting or what his relationship with this salon (was)," the spokesman said. Source

Nasa Gives Glimpse Into Heart Of Milky Way - 12th Oct 2011

The most detailed image of the Milky Way has been captured by Nasa scientists.

A new image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope reveals swirls of super-hot gas and previously undiscovered stars at the centre of our galaxy.

To the bottom right of the image there is a bright spiral of ionized gas surrounding the massive black hole that lies at the galactic core, 27,000 light years from Earth.

Nasa used infrared instruments to cut through the gas and dust clouds that would normally obscure the view.

The panorama covers around 35,000 square light years of space.

The ghostly shapes of hydrogen gas clouds are created by the strong magnetic fields from massive stars. Source

Six volcanoes on high alert, but no evacuations for now: BNPB

Despite increasing activity at six volcanoes across the country, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) says there is no need to evacuate residents for now.

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Sunday that the volcanoes on high alert were Mount Tambora in West Nusa Tenggara, Anak Ranakan in East Nusa Tenggara, Papandayan in West Java, Karangetang and Lokon in North Sulawesi, and Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait.

“These volcanoes are on alert level III, which means all volcanic parameters show that activities could develop into an eruption or disaster,” he told The Jakarta Post via text message.

He said that Anak Krakatau was producing five thousand tremors per day. A 2-kilometer exclusion zone has been set up around the volcano.

Sutopo said the volcanoes were being monitored 24 hours a day. source

Chemical leak in Saudi port city contained: authorities - 12th Oct 2012

A chemical leak in Dammam, in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province, has forced some schools to shut down and sent 13 people to hospital with breathing problems, sources and civil defense authorities said on Wednesday.

The leak has been brought under control, officials said. The civil defense authority said in a statement that it was notified of the leak late on Tuesday.

"There's a cloud over the industrial city," Major General Mohammed al-Ghamdi, director of civil defense in the Eastern Province, told al-Ekhbariya television.

The port city of Dammam is the third-largest in the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

A civil defense official said the toxic gas leaked through a safety valve following a reaction between three chemical components; nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon.

Local media said the civil defense identified the company affected by the leakage as Middle East Engineering Limited. Calls to the company by Reuters went unanswered.

All government schools were ordered shut while the civil defense did not allow anyone to the area, local media said.

The gas is expected to remain in the air for 48 hours, the civil defense authority statement said. Source

Global warning: climate sceptics are winning the battle

Climate sceptics are winning the argument with the public over global warming, the world's most celebrated climate scientist, James Hansen of NASA, said in London yesterday.

It is happening even though climate science itself is becoming ever clearer in showing that the earth is in increasing danger from rising temperatures, said Dr Hansen, who heads NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, and is widely thought of as "the father of global warming" – his dramatic alert about climate change in US Senate hearings in July 1988 put the issue on the world agenda.

Since then he has been one of the most outspoken advocates of drastic climate action, and yesterday he also publicly criticised Germany's recent decision to abandon its new nuclear power programme, formerly a key part of German climate measures, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan earlier this year. more

Orlando Unveils Barack Obama Parkway: 1 mile just cost YOU $10,000,000

On the same day President Barack Obama will visit Orlando, the city unveiled the first part of a roadway project named after him.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony that showcased President Barack Obama Parkway, near the Mall at Millenia.

Phase I connects President Barack Obama Parkway north of Conroy Road to Metrowest Boulevard, a mile-and-a-half stretch that includes lighting, sidewalks and on-street bike lanes. Shingle Creek Trail, used by pedestrians and bicyclists, was also extended.

Dyer said 150 jobs were created in Phase I of construction, which cost $10.5 million. The city will hire 150 more workers when Phase II begins, he said.

"One of the things that we have done in the city is some of the capital construction projects that we have the funding for that have been on the books, we moved them forward -- expedited them -- so we could create the jobs when we need them," Dyer said.

When the project is completed, the parkway will extend from Conroy Road to U.S. Highway 441 in Apopka, a nine-mile stretch. The roadway will provide an alternate to Kirkman Road and John Young Parkway. more

HURT: Is U.S. ready for second black leader?

Is America ready to make history by electing the first black president to replace a black president?

That is the question latest polls increasingly raise these days that show Herman Cain jetting to the front of the GOP pack.

Not since the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court has a black conservative so disrupted the order of things at the highest levels here in Washington.

Who could forget the blood-thirsty “high-tech lynching” the left assembled to thwart him from becoming the only sitting black member of the U.S. Supreme Court?

Twenty years on, the left still harbors a special hatred for Justice Thomas. Meanwhile, his accuser returns to Washington and is feted all over town like a conquering hero who somehow stood up for racial justice by trying to derail the Thomas nomination.

Liberals tolerate blacks and they endure conservatives. But they cannot abide a successful, independent-minded black who dares to step out of line and reject the enslavement of the Plantation Party.

There is no class of people more openly loathed around here than black conservatives. Truly, it is the Mark of Cain among the liberal intelligentsia who dominate the press and corridors of power. more

Arrests in female rapists probe: Men used for "ceremonies"

DETECTIVES investigating a spate of kidnappings and sex attacks on male hitchhikers by female rapists have made three arrests.

Police seized 31 used condoms with semen after a chance breakthrough when a suspect vehicle was involved in an accident in Lower Gweru.

More than a dozen attacks, thought to be for ritual purposes, have been reported mainly in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces. A few more attacks have been reported in Harare and Mashonaland West.

Midlands police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Charles Makono said officers at an accident scene had their suspicions aroused when three women, including the girlfriend of the vehicle’s driver, approached them with an odd request.

“They wanted the officers to allow them to collect a stash of used condoms which were located in the boot of the vehicle,” said Chademana.

The three women, named as Rosemary Chakwizira, 24, Sophie Nhokwara, 26, and Netsai Nhokwara, 24, all from Mkoba 4, Gweru, were immediately arrested along with the male driver on suspicion of multiple counts of indecent assault. more

David Miles Arrested After Allegedly Stomping 17-year-old Parrot To Death

Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputies arrested a Santa Cruz man on Sunday on suspicion of throwing a 17-year-old parrot onto the ground and stomping it to death.

David Miles, 32, was arrested after deputies found him near a home in the 100 block of Madrona Road in unincorporated Boulder Creek where, at about 11:40 p.m. Sunday, they discovered a dead parrot after responding to a disturbance call.

Detectives said Miles killed the parrot, named Huey, after the parrot landed on Miles and began biting him. The parrot died at the home, which Miles had been visiting at the time.

Miles was not injured in the attack.

He was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail on suspicion of animal cruelty. source

Thug punches mentally handicapped person: Video Shows Brutal Attack At Sacramento Strip Mall



A video shot in south Sacramento has gone viral and, in a word, it’s brutal.

It shows a mentally disabled woman being mocked, spit on, then punched in the face at a Sacramento strip mall on Mack Road.

Regular customers and neighbors weren’t surprised by the video. They say this type of disrespect, and abuse, goes on all the time.

But it’s difficult to watch. A woman who appears mentally impaired is punched in the face.
It all started while she stood in front of a doughnut shop where she is taunted by a group of guys who sound as if they’re spitting on her.

Then she’s shoved in the face and laughed at.

After that she snaps and chases her attackers, asking why they’re hurting her.

“Why you slapping me, huh?” she can be heard asking.

After that a man punches her in the face, knocking her to the ground, where she can be heard moaning.

“This is just appalling to see this, and it’s a shame that this happens,” said Jonathan Johnson of Sacramento as he watched the video.

“Especially an older lady like that, man, that could’ve been somebody’s grandma,” another man said.

Regulars at the shopping center say they’ve seen the suspects — and the victim — many times. more

Occupy L.A. Speaker: Violence will be Necessary to Achieve Our Goals (What everyone else is thinking but afraid to say?)



Citizen journalist Ringo captured this speaker at the Occupy Los Angeles camp a few days ago letting the cat out of the bag: After dismissing nonviolence as a dead end, he admits that for the Occupiers to achieve their goals, violence and bloodshed will be necessary.

Occupy L.A. Speaker: “One of the speakers said the solution is nonviolent movement. No, my friend. I’ll give you two examples: French Revolution, and Indian so-called Revolution.

Gandhi, Gandhi today is, with respect to all of you, Gandhi today is a tumor that the ruling class is using constantly to mislead us. French Revolution made fundamental transformation. But it was bloody.

India, the result of Gandhi, is 600 million people living in maximum poverty.

So, ultimately, the bourgeoisie won’t go without violent means. Revolution! Yes, revolution that is led by the working class.

Long live revolution! Long live socialism!”

Crowd: [Cheers.] more

Michael Scott Wilson: TSA Agent Charged With Child Porn

A Transportation Security Administration security officer is out on bail after he was arrested and charged with child pornography.

Michael Scott Wilson, 41, has been suspended from his job following the arrest.

Wilson was charged Monday with possession and distribution of child pornography after agents searched his Perry Hall home.

Neighbors said he's married with no children. They said they're stunned and disturbed by the charges, especially since most of them described Wilson as a straight-laced federal worker who took pride in his position and the trust that comes with it.

"As a parent, it's disturbing to find out that someone is living so close, especially employed in his capacity," said neighbor Malik Kelly.

"I travel sometimes twice a week, so to think that one of those screeners could live in your neighborhood and face charges like this is alarming. Definitely alarming," said neighbor Brian Ryerson.

The TSA released a statement regarding Wilson's arrest, saying, "The TSA holds its security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards and aggressively investigates allegations of misconduct. The allegations against this individual in no way reflect on the outstanding job our more than 50,000 security officers do every day to ensure the security of the traveling public." source

San Francisco Bankers Become First TARP Recipients To Be Charged With Fraud

The occupy Wall Street movement may finally have a poster boy or two to point the finger at.

Three San Francisco bank executives became the first senior executives to receive federal bailout money to be criminally charged with trying to defraud the government.

United Commercial Bank CEO Thomas Wu and vice presidents Ebrahim Shabudin and Thomas Yu are being charged with cooking their books and lying to auditors before accepting a $298 million taxpayer bailout, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

"Shabudin and Yu are the first senior executives of a TARP bank charged in connection with a scheme to defraud investors, which included the Treasury, and by extension the American taxpayer," acting TARP Special Inspector General Christy Romero said in a statement.

In 2008 the bank received $298 million from then President George W. Bush's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

A year later, the bank filed for bankruptcy and now the government is alleging its executives hid the true state of United Commercial Bank from the government in the lead up to receiving a bailout. more

Eduardo Valdes: TSA Employee Brings Gun To Airport

A Transportation Safety Administration employee was taken into custody Tuesday after he unlawfully tried to bring a handgun into the secured area of Miami International Airport, police said.

Just before noon, Eduardo Valdes, 29, a screener for TSA was reporting for duty on the sterile side of the airport. He was passing through an employee security checkpoint when another screener noticed a handgun in his bag.

According to the police report, Valdes admitted he knew it was illegal to bring a firearm into the airport and that he just "forgot." He also said the gun was not registered and he did not have a concealed weapons permit.

Valdes was taken to the Miami-Dade County Jail. source

Harrisburg, Pa., Votes to File for Bankruptcy

Pennsylvania's capital city voted to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday as it faced a state takeover, according to media reports.

The City Council voted 4-3 to seek bankruptcy protection for Harrisburg, which has a debt burden five times its general-fund budget "because of an overhaul and expansion of a trash-to-energy incinerator that doesn’t generate enough revenue," Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

The bankruptcy means the city will lose state aid, but that is better than the proposed recovery plans, Councilwoman Susan Brown-Wilson said, according to Bloomberg.

Patty Kim, who voted against bankrupcy protection, said the city cannot afford the high cost of litigation that will likely ensue.

“The problem still exists that we still don’t have money, and we still haven’t moved one foot forward,” Kim said. source

Apologies Not Accepted: Japan refuses Obama's apologies for atomic bombs in WW2

Leaked cables show Japan nixed a presidential apology to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for using nukes to end the overseas contingency operation known as World War II. Will the next president apologize for the current one?

The obsessive need of this president to apologize for American exceptionalism and our defense of freedom continued recently when Barack Obama's State Department (run by Hillary Clinton) contacted the family of al-Qaida propagandist and recruiter Samir Khan to "express its condolences" to his family.

Khan, a right-hand man to Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed along with Awlaki in an airstrike in Yemen on Sept. 30. We apologized for killing a terrorist before he could help kill any more of us.

It's yet another part of the world apology tour that began with Obama taking the oath of office to protect and defend the United States and its Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, something he immediately felt sorry for.

One stop on his tour was Prague in August 2009. There he spoke of "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," ignoring that before 1945 we lived in such a world and it was neither peaceful nor secure. more

UK unemployment total reaches 17-year high

UK unemployment rose by 114,000 between June and August to 2.57 million, a 17-year high, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the unemployment rate also increased to 8.1%.

The jobless total for 16 to 24-year-olds hit a record high of 991,000 in the quarter, a jobless rate of 21.3%.

The number of people out of work and claiming benefits rose 17,500 to 1.6 million in September.

Other figures showed a record cut in the number of part-time workers, down by 175,000, and there was also a record reduction of 74,000 in the number of over-65s in employment.

The Employment Secretary, Chris Grayling, said that what the UK was now seeing was "the impact of the international financial crisis".

Speaking in the Commons at Prime Minister's questions, the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, said: "A year ago ... the prime minister justified his economic policy by saying unemployment would fall this year, next year and the year after. Isn't it time he admitted his plan isn't working?" more

Rat Race: America's commutes start earlier and last longer

Working in the city and living on one's own land far out in the countryside has always been a goal for many Americans. The recession has turned hours of commuting to and from work into a reality that's hard to escape.

Every morning, Catherine Fortney's alarm rings at 03:30 and by the time the clock strikes 06:00, she must be at the nearby bus stop.

Her commute to a law practice in downtown Washington DC will take 90 minutes to two hours each way.

Ms Fortney is far from alone on the road at that time. Almost every third working person in Southern Maryland commutes over an hour. In the last 10 years no other state grew faster in this category, according to US Census data.

As a single mother, Ms Fortney jumped on the chance to double her salary as a legal assistant when her former boss opened an office in Washington. The bus she takes is often cold and crowded, she says, and it broke down entirely not too long ago.

But the $10 (£6.48) round-trip bus ticket is cheaper than the $20 for gasoline per trip and the $13 for parking her car in the city, she says. more

Is the alcohol message all wrong?

Many people think heavy drinking causes promiscuity, violence and anti-social behaviour. That's not necessarily true, argues Kate Fox.

I am a social anthropologist, but what I do is not the traditional intrepid sort of anthropology where you go and study strange tribes in places with mud huts and monsoons and malaria.

I really don't see why anthropologists feel they have to travel to unpronounceable corners of the world in order to study strange tribal cultures with bizarre beliefs and mysterious customs, when in fact the weirdest and most puzzling tribe of all is right here on our doorstep. I am of course talking about my own native culture - the British.

And if you want examples of bizarre beliefs and weird customs, you need look no further than our attitude to drinking and our drinking habits. Pick up any newspaper and you will read that we are a nation of loutish binge-drinkers - that we drink too much, too young, too fast - and that it makes us violent, promiscuous, anti-social and generally obnoxious.

Clearly, we Brits do have a bit of a problem with alcohol, but why?

The problem is that we Brits believe that alcohol has magical powers - that it causes us to shed our inhibitions and become aggressive, promiscuous, disorderly and even violent.

But we are wrong. more

Is necklacing returning to South Africa?

Earlier this year, South African townships were rocked by incidents of necklacing - mob-justice punishment in which tyres are forced over victims' shoulders and set alight. Is this notorious form of killing from the 1980s in danger of making a comeback?

Angelina Maholwana, 74, felt that justice was being done as she watched two young men burn to death.

Tyres had been forced over their shoulders, doused in petrol and set alight.

She had just identified Mabhutana Siwisa, 19, and Mloza Gqomfa, 20, as the men who had broken into her home, killed her son, tried to sexually assault her and stolen their belongings.

It was the second incident of necklacing in one month, in New Brighton township, in the industrial city of Port Elizabeth.

The practice dates back to the 1980s, when it became the punishment of choice among supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) for alleged collaborators with the apartheid regime - though the ANC leadership said it did not condone it.

It was also used against common criminals.

But necklacing appeared to die away in 1987. There had only been recorded case in more than a decade - until June this year. more

India encephalitis outbreak kills 400, mainly children

More than 400 people, mainly children, have died in an outbreak of viral encephalitis in northern India, health officials say.

So far 2,300 patients have been admitted to a hospital in the affected Gorakhpur area of Uttar Pradesh state.

A doctor told the BBC that it was a "tragedy beyond imagination" with children dying every day.

Nearly 6,000 children have died of encephalitis in the hospital since the first case was detected in 1978.

Most of the deaths this year have happened since July, doctors say.

The disease occurs regularly during the monsoon in the Gorakhpur region bordering Nepal in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The low-lying areas are prone to floods and water-logging. Lack of sanitation provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes and leads to contamination of water supplies.

This happens because most people defecate in the open in villages of the area, while water is consumed mainly using shallow hand pumps. more

El Hierro is Kept in Suspence about risk of Volcanic Eruption, Government calls for Calm as they prepare to meet the Media - 12th Oct 2011

The president of the Canary Islands Paulino Rivero said there is no accurate data on the reorientation of the Magma which has resulted in the evacuation of La Restinga.

He has asked for the people of El Hierro to remain calm on Wednesday during uncertain times as the Alert remains on RED for a possible eruption on La Restinga.

At an earlier press conference at the Plenary Hall of the City of El Hierro, Rivero assured people that the situation remains the same and said "there is no accurate data on the reorientation of the magma, which remains the same as in the last hours.

Note Update: The government has in the past hour called upon media to meet at 18:30 this evening as they have an announcement, I will Update this once it has gone live.

Uganda: Where child sacrifice is a business

The villages and farming communities that surround Uganda's capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear.

Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.

The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country's economy.

Many believe that members of the country's new elite are paying witch doctors vast sums of money for the sacrifices in a bid to increase their wealth.

At the Kyampisi Childcare Ministries church, Pastor Peter Sewakiryanga is teaching local children a song called Heal Our Land, End Child Sacrifice.

To hear dozens of young voices singing such shocking words epitomises how ritual murder has become part of everyday life here.

"Child sacrifice has risen because people have become lovers of money. They want to get richer," the pastor says. more

iPad turned into Braille keyboard

A team of US researchers has devised a way for people with impaired vision to use the touchscreen of an iPad as a Braille keyboard.

It turns some previously fundamental thinking about how to make technology accessible to blind people on its head.

Instead of using a keyboard or mechanical writer, users type directly onto the flat glass.

The inventors used a novel design for the keyboard to overcome the lack of tactile features.

"Instead of having fingers that find the buttons, we built buttons that find the fingers," said Stanford's Sohan Dharmaraja, one of the researchers on the project.

Users place eight fingers on the screen and the keyboard appears. Shaking the device activates a menu, and further interaction is achieved by regular touch gestures. more

Shooting moose from vehicles lazy: RCMP (Sigh)

RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador Police say they are receiving many complaints about dangerous hunters who aren’t bothering to get out of their vehicles or leave roads before taking a shot at a moose.

Sgt. Boyd Merrill says most hunters do things by the book, but others are trolling for moose on secondary highways and woods roads all around the province. “It's just extreme laziness,” he said.

“Too lazy to get out of the car and go into the woods and hunt like you're supposed to. Stopping on the highway, erratic driving, driving without due care and a attention, standing in the rear of half-tonne trucks.”

Merrill says hunting from a vehicle is not only dangerous; it's illegal under the Criminal Code and provincial laws. more

Iraq bombs: Police targeted in capital Baghdad, 28 dead

Car and roadside bombs in Baghdad have killed at least 28 people, including police officers, officials say.

Two suicide bombers detonated explosives-laden vehicles minutes apart in north-western Hurriya district and central al-Wiya district, reports said.

They killed 22 and at least another six died in other bombs, police said.

The resurgence of suicide attacks inside the capital is a worrying development even by Iraqi standards, says the BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad.

It comes as the last US troops prepare to withdraw by the end of the year. more

Republicans block Obama jobs bill: Here we go again

Republicans in the US Senate have blocked President Barack Obama's jobs bill in a procedural vote.

Forty-six Republican senators joined with two Democrats to filibuster the $447bn (£287bn) package.

Reacting to the vote, Mr Obama said: "Tonight's vote is by no means the end of this fight."

Republicans oppose the measure citing its spending to stimulate the economy and its tax rise on millionaires. The US unemployment rate is jammed at 9.1%.

The package failed by a vote of 50 to 49, short of the 60 votes it needed to advance in the 100-member Senate.

The president has spent several weeks promoting the jobs bill in a campaign-style tour across the country.

But despite his efforts, he did not pick up a single Republican vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday.

Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana, facing re-election next year in conservative states, also voted against the measure.

The American Jobs Act includes $175bn in infrastructure spending and aid for local governments to avoid layoffs, as well as Social Security payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses. more

'Occupy Canada' plans take shape

Canadian cities are expected to get their first taste of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement this weekend amid questions about what reception the north-of-the-border version of demonstrations against corporate greed, wealth concentration and other grievances will get.

While the mass demonstrations enter their fourth week in the United States, it is unclear how much public support the Canadian events will draw — or how long the planned "occupations" will last.

Toronto and Vancouver, the two Canadian cities expected to attract the largest amount of participants, are still coming to terms with June's post-Stanley Cup violence and the G20 summit protests in 2010 — two highly different crowd events that nonetheless have triggered intense debate over how they were policed.

Organizers in Vancouver have called for people to gather at the city's art gallery on Saturday morning to form a base of operations, where marches on other downtown locations can be organized. Student activists have told local media that they expect to occupy the site for several weeks.

In Calgary, activists have already set up camp on St. Patrick's Island ahead of the official event. The city said it will assess the Occupy Calgary camp on a daily basis to ensure there are no health or safety issues. Similar events are also being organized for Montreal and Edmonton. more

Deer kills N.B. farmer with repeated antler blows: Canada

A deer farmer in New Brunswick has apparently been killed by an animal in his herd, police say.

The 55-year-old man was found with multiple antler wounds Sunday evening inside his enclosed field in Saint-LĂ©onard, near the Quebec border.

The victim's wife phoned police Sunday afternoon after he went out to feed the deer and never returned, RCMP Sgt. Marc Violette said.

Officers discovered the man's body in the field at about 8 p.m. Sunday. His body had numerous piercings that appear to have been caused by deer antlers, Violette said.

Deer have the capacity to inflict severe damage, he said.

"They would do this to small prey in the wild. They would do it, maybe, to small foxes or to small coyotes that were attacking them," Violette said.

"They put all their weight on the antlers and, for lack of a better term, they try to suffocate the prey with their antlers. They push hard on the antlers and the antlers will pierce flesh, and pierce body tissue." more

Market's biggest risk: Europe

It's been on and off the back burner for a year and a half, but the European debt crisis is finally nearing a boiling point.

In fact, more than 80% of the experts surveyed by CNNMoney agree that the money problems across the Atlantic are the most challenging hurdle for stocks, which have been struggling to claw back from the lows they hit earlier this month.

"Europe's debt crisis is the No. 1 risk facing the market right now," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. "Each step made toward solving the sovereign debt or bank reserve issues seem to raise new question, and the news suddenly changes from being very negative to very positive and vice versa."

Investors first became troubled by the eurozone's fiscal woes in early 2010, as worries about Greece defaulting on its debt spread to the other so-called PIIGS, including Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain.

Policymakers were able to ease those concerns with bandages of bailouts and austerity measures, and events like the Arab Spring helped distract investors, at least temporarily. But the crisis continued to escalate and has gripped investors' attention for months. more

Earnings: Banks bracing for pain

August and September's see-sawing stock market may have induced nausea among investors, but for Wall Street's major investment banks, this volatility has most likely taken a huge toll on profits.

As banks' third quarter earnings season kicks off Thursday with JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), investors are bracing to see how much damage was wrought by the expected steep drop in investment banking and trading revenue.

Those businesses have slowed considerably as the market volatility has caused merger and acquisition activity, initial public offerings and corporate debt deals to skid to a near standstill.

On top of that, analysts expect JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500), Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) to announce new layoffs, in addition to the thousands they've already disclosed.

So far this year, Bank of America said it would cut 30,000 jobs and Goldman announced 1,000 layoffs. To a lesser extent, Morgan Stanley said it would cut 300 'underperfoming financial advisors.' The other big banks have so far avoided any big layoff announcements. more

What Slovakia's 'No' Means for the Euro

In almost 19 years as an independent nation, Slovakia has never attracted world attention as it does now. But the Slovakian Parliament's vote late Tuesday to reject plans for the euro zone's bailout fund guarantees global headlines for the country at the heart of the European continent. And it means a new, Slovakia-sized headache for the leaders attempting to resolve the whirling debt crisis that threatens to engulf the euro zone.

With the other 16 euro-zone countries having already said 'yes' to the new measures, Slovakia's was the deciding vote. The result — just 55 of the 124 votes cast in Parliament backed the motion — did not come as a surprise: one of the four parties in the coalition government, the Freedom and Solidarity Party (SaS), was implacably opposed to the fund, with its leader Richard Sulik arguing that Slovakia is too poor to pay for the fiscal mistakes of debt-ridden nations like Greece. The vote also reflects the growing hostility Slovakians now feel towards the rest of Europe, in contrast to their enthusiasm upon joining the European Union in 2004, and becoming euro members in 2009.

Slovakia already underwent a gruelling overhaul of its centrally planned economy in the 1990s. Those reforms reaped benefits, with big name foreign companies setting up plants across the country. Slovakia has proven particularly adept at car-making, with VW, Porsche, Audi, Kia and Peugeot all moving in: dubbed the Detroit of Europe, the country now leads the world in cars produced per capita and earns about a quarter of its economic performance from the automobile industry. more

Fears mount in Bangkok as Thailand flood waters rise



Thailand's capital was braced for unprecedented flooding Wednesday, amid the monsoon rains that have overwhelmed much of the country as well as Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines in recent weeks.

"It's going to be clearer over the next couple days" whether Bangkok can be spared the brunt of the flooding said Matthew Cochrane, spokesperson for the International Red Cross in Bangkok.

So far, 281 people have been killed and four people are missing 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.

"It's really quite serious, these are the worst floods in Thailand since 1949," Cochrane said.

"These floods started in June really and started to move south and have really caused huge damage the whole way down," Cochrane said. "They've affected hundreds and hundreds of villages and towns, they've wiped out 2.5 million acres of farmland. This is a very, very serious disaster." more

Iran and Saudi Arabia's 'hate-hate' relationship

Iranian outbursts towards the United States and Israel are nothing new, but the Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington surprised many people. Iran's animosity toward Saudi Arabia, however, should have surprised no one.

Perhaps the only thing longer than Iran's animosity toward the United States is its hatred of Saudi Arabia. The two are divided not only by the Persian Gulf, but also by a Shiite-Sunni sectarian split and a Persian-Arab divide that goes back centuries.

Before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran and Saudi Arabia had a love-hate relationship. On one hand, religious and ethnic differences plagued the two regional powers. On the other hand, both were traditional monarchies who found themselves on the same side of the Cold War, opposing communism and the radicals who threatened the status quo.

The fall of Iran's shah and his replacement by a radical Shiite regime, however, transformed the love-hate relationship into a hate-hate relationship.

Throughout the 1980s, the predecessor to Iran's elite Quds Force, the special operations unit that U.S. intelligence has fingered in the Washington plot, sought to undermine Saudi stability, often coordinating attacks and insurrection during the hajj, the holy Muslim pilgrimage which Saudi Arabia hosts.

During the same decade, Iran fought an eight-year battle with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a war that killed close to a million people. What no Iranian forgets is that Saudi Arabia largely financed Iraq during the war. more

BlackBerry outage spreads to North America -- Have we become too dependant on our gadgets?



Millions of BlackBerry users remained without service on Wednesday as a three-day outage spread to North America.

"BlackBerry subscribers in the Americas may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning," Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry smartphones, said in a statement. "We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience. We will provide a further update as soon as more information is available."

The service outage started on Monday with customers in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, before spreading to South America on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning it appeared to hit the United States and Canada. The outage appears primarily to affect text messaging and Internet access from the mobile phones, not necessarily their ability to place calls.

"BlackBerry users in Canada have been cut off from their smartphone's messaging, e-mail and Internet services," the Canadian news site CP24 wrote. Those sentiments were echoed by the CBC, the Canadian broadcaster, which put out a breaking news tweet saying e-mail and texting services had been interrupted in some parts of Canada. more

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake MOLUCCA SEA, INDONESIA - 12th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Molucca Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 32 km (19.9 miles), the quake hit at 14:51:15 UTC Wednesday 12th October 2011.
The epicenter was 155 km ( 96 miles) Southeast of Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Domestic violence is now legal: Kansas's capital repeals law… to save police time - 12th Oct 2011

Domestic violence is now legal in Kansas's capital after the city changed the law - to save police time.

In a shocking move yesterday, Topeka's mayor and council repealed the ruling banning domestic violence and released 18 suspects from jail without charge.

Victims of domestic abuse appear to have become pawns in an argument between county and city politicians over who should pay for prosecutions.

Shawnlee County's district attorney last month handed over responsibility for prosecuting crimes including domestic abuse and battery to the city.

But Topeka's leaders say they cannot afford to provide services for domestic abuse victims as well as rent jail space from the county for suspects.

Domestic violence support groups were horrified at the move, saying that 'people could die while they're waiting to straighten this out'.

'I absolutely do not understand it,' said Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

'It's really outrageous that they're playing with family safety to see who blinks first. People could die while they're waiting to straighten this out.' Read More

Shinmoedake volcano in Kyushu may become active again soon claim experts, Japan - 12th Oct 2011

Mount Shinmoedake in the central part of the volcanic Kirishima mountain range in southern Kyushu could resume its volcanic activities within several months as magma continues to be piled up deep underground, the Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions said on Oct. 11.

Within about four months, the amount of accumulated magma is likely to increase close to levels registered in late January when the volcano became active, the committee said.

According to the group, GPS monitoring found that the 1,421-meter volcanic mountain has been swelling steadily -- an indicator of the increasing size of accumulated magma. If the amount of accumulated magma reaches levels registered in late January, Mount Shinmoedake, which straddles Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, could resume its volcanic activities on a scale comparable to that for late January, the committee said. Mount Shinmoedake has erupted seven times since mid-June after remaining quiet for about two months since mid-April.

Committee chairman Toshitsugu Fujii said, "There could be various scenarios. It is hard to think the volcanic activities will stop quickly." He said the mountain could erupt on a scale larger than that for late January, and other craters in the Kirishima mountain range could also erupt.

The Meteorological Agency maintained its volcanic alert at level 3, banning people from entering the mountain. Source

Radioactive strontium found in Yokohama, 250 km from Fukushima plant - 12th Oct 2011

Radioactive strontium exceeding normal quantities has been detected in sediment from atop an apartment building in Yokohama, some 250 kilometers from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, city officials said Wednesday.

While the discovery of 195 becquerels of strontium 90 in the rooftop sediment has fueled concerns that leaked radiation may have spread further than the government had expected, the officials said the city office is carefully examining where the material came from.

This is the first time strontium at a concentration of over 100 becquerels per kilogram has been found beyond 100 km from the Fukushima plant. The strontium 90 was detected in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, by a private agency that conducted the test upon the request of a resident.

Strontium 90, with a half-life of 29 years, has been detected at concentrations roughly between 10 to 20 becquerels at various places across Japan prior to the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Read More

Japanese Government unveils plan to expand decontamination project areas; local reactions mixed

The government has unveiled plans to sharply expand a government-funded decontamination project to areas with annual radiation emissions of 1 millisievert or more, prompting mixed reactions from local government officials and residents.

Under the plan, the Environment Ministry is to designate those areas with annual radiation exposure of 1 millisievert or more as "priority contamination inspection areas" by the end of November. In collaboration with the central government, local governments are supposed to decide on areas which need to be decontaminated and ways of decontaminating them. The central government will shoulder all the costs.

According to monitoring conducted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, there are locations with annual radiation exposure of more than 1 millisievert in Tokyo, Fukushima, Miyagi, Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Chiba and Saitama prefectures. Drawing on the findings and results of other tests carried out by local municipalities, the Environment Ministry is expected to designate contaminated municipalities as "priority inspection areas".

Relatively high levels of radiation have been detected in the northwestern part of Chiba Prefecture. Read More

Fukushima starts thyroid check-ups for children, but many problems are still unsolved

Fukushima Prefecture, home of the crippled Fukushima No.1 Nuclear power plant, began long-term health check-ups of children for thyroid abnormalities on Oct. 9, but many problems are yet to be solved, sources reveal.

The health check-ups apply to about 360,000 children who were under the age of 18 as of April 1, and focus on thyroid abnormalities -- a health risk associated with radiation exposure.

The children will undergo the examinations once every two years until they turn 20, and then every five years throughout their lives.

The thyroid examination, which lasts no longer than five minutes, intends to relieve residents' fears over the possible risk of contracting thyroid cancer, a disease that hit many children after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear crisis in the Ukraine.

"It is highly unlikely that we will detect any thyroid abnormalities at this stage," says professor Shunichi Yamashita, a radiation expert and the vice president of Fukushima Medical University Hospital in Fukushima Prefecture, where the thyroid health check-ups are currently conducted. "However, we hope that this program will relieve many residents." Read More

Hurricane Jova lashes Mexican resorts, villages - 12th Oct 2011

Hurricane Jova slammed into Mexico's Pacific coast as a Category 2 storm early Wednesday, swamping beach towns and causing floods in the mountains above.

The extent of damage was still unclear before dawn Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of deaths.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Jova's maximum sustained winds were near 100 mph (160 kph) when it hit, but it was expected to weaken steadily as it moves inland and winds were by 4 a.m (5 a.m. EDT; 0900GMT).

As the storm's leading rain bands began swatting at the coast Tuesday night, heavy rain fell in the city of Manzanillo, Mexico's second-biggest non-oil cargo port. It was closed to navigation because of the storm.

The Hurricane Center in Miami warned that the storm surge could cause significant coastal flooding along the 210-mile (340-kilometer) stretch between Manzanillo and Cabo Corrientes, which is southwest of the resort city of Puerto Vallarta.

Up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain could fall on isolated areas as Jova moves inland, the center said.

Before nightfall Tuesday, marines visited flood-prone areas in Manzanillo to advise people to leave. They found a home for elderly people whose homes were already flooded and evacuated dozens of people to stay with relatives, Adm. Jaime Mejia said. Forty others were evacuated in the nearby town of Tecoman, he said.

Some people vowed to ride out the storm, while others took refuge at shelters in towns like Jaluco, just inland from the beach community of Barra de Navidad. Read More