Thursday, October 13, 2011

6.7 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN NEW GUINEA REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 14th Oct 2011

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake has struck the Eastern New Guinea Region, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 45.4 km (28.2 miles), the quake hit at 03:35:17 UTC Friday 14th October 2011.
The epicenter was 104 km ( 65 miles) East of Lae, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

More to Follow

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck South Atlantic Ocean at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:27:31 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 708 km ( 439 miles) West of Grytviken, South Georgia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 28.1 km (17.5 miles), the quake hit at 21:05:15 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 166 km ( 103 miles) ESE of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Thailand flood leaves elephants stranded

Ben Fodor: Seattle superhero walks free, vows to continue fighting crime

Self-styled superhero Phoenix Jones unmasked himself before cameras Thursday and vowed to keep fighting crime after prosecutors delayed a decision on whether to press assault charges against him.

Jones -- who told reporters his real name is Ben Fodor -- routinely patrols downtown Seattle streets decked out in a rubber suit and mask. He was arrested early Sunday on four counts of assault after police said he used pepper spray on a group of people leaving a nightclub. A spokesman for Fodor said he was trying to break up a fight.

Video shot by a documentary crew and posted on Phoenix Jones' Facebook page showed a chaotic scene, with the self-styled super hero being chased by a purse-wielding woman and then shooting what appeared to be pepper spray at a group of people. Fodor was the only person arrested in the incident.

Seattle Police said Fodor overreacted, and asserted that the city is not in need of vigilante crime fighters.

"If you see something that warrants calling 911, call 911. You don't need to dress up in a costume to do that," police spokesman Mark Jamieson said.

In court Thursday, Fodor appeared wearing a hood, which a judge's assistant asked him to remove. Told charges had not been filed against him, Fodor put the rubber hood back on and left the court with a swarm of media cameras following him.

Outside the courthouse, Fodor told reporters he would continue his anti-crime patrols and then removed his hood.

"In addition to being Phoenix Jones," he said. "I am also Ben Fodor, a father and brother. I am just like everybody else. The only difference is that I try to stop crime." more

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 40 km (24.8 miles), the quake hit at 18:09:05 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 171 km ( 106 miles) East of Namie, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake MARIANA ISLANDS REGION - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the Mariana Islands Region at a depth of 34.9 km (21.7 miles), the quake hit at 17:53:22 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 153 km ( 95 miles) ESE of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

BlackBerry outage blamed on 'extremely critical' network failure -- How precarious are our tech-based lives?



Millions of BlackBerry users remained without service on Wednesday as a three-day network outage spread to North America, causing massive frustrations for people who rely on these smartphones for business and personal communications.

"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 outage now impacts people on nearly every continent, according to the company's statements.

An "extremely critical issue" on the BlackBerry network caused the outage, Stephen Bates, RIM's managing director in the U.K., told CNN's Richard Quest. He added: "We're putting all of our focus with all of our engineers and all of our network specialists on trying to understand the nature of why this backup system didn't work as it should have ..."

The service outage started on Monday with customers in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, before spreading to South America and Asia 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.

No customer e-mails have been completely lost, and they will be delivered eventually, RIM said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, according to CNNMoney's Julianne Pepitone. more

The fast and furious plot to occupy Iran

No one ever lost money betting on the dull predictability of the US government. Just as Occupy Wall Street is firing imaginations all across the spectrum - piercing the noxious revolving door between government and casino capitalism - Washington brought us all down to earth, sensationally advertising an Iranian cum Mexican cartel terror plot straight out of The Fast and the Furious movie franchise. The potential victim: Adel al-Jubeir, the ambassador in the US of that lovely counter-revolutionary Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

FBI Director Robert Mueller insisted the Iran-masterminded terror plot “reads like the pages of a Hollywood script”. It does. And quite a sloppy script at that. Fast and Furious duo Paul Walker/Vin Diesel wouldn’t be caught dead near it.

The good guys in this Washington production are the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In the words of Attorney General Eric Holder, they uncovered “a deadly plot directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign Ambassador on US soil with explosives”.

Holder added that the bombing of the Saudi embassy in Washington was also part of the plan. Subsequent spinning amplified that to planned bombings of the Israeli embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires.

The Justice Department has peddled quite a murky story - Operation Red Coalition (no, you can’t make that stuff up) - centered on one Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old holding both Iranian and US passports and an Iran-based co-conspirator, Gholam Shakuri, an alleged member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps's (IRGC) Quds Force. more

Nakhon Sawan totally submerged as Thailand floods worsen

Nakhon Sawan municipality's last defence collapsed. The city is now totally submerged.

The province governor has declared the disaster area so that emergency fund can be immediately used to repair the damages and help evacuuate residents to high grounds.

Meanwhile the run-off water has breached nearly all dykes in Pathum Thani. The flood is 1-1.5 metres deep in some areas. If all the dykes and flood gates in Pathum Thani are totally breached, the torrent will rage into Pakkret, Nonthaburi worsening the already bad situation there.

On the eastern front, several areas of Nong Chok, Lat Krabang and Min Buri are seeing rising water and within a day the flood will be out of control. Already some housing estates are under the water. source

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake CYPRUS REGION - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the Cyprus Region at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:14:14 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 74 km ( 45.8 miles) Southwest of Gazipasa, Cyprus
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Passenger Plane crashes in Papua New Guinea with 32 on board, Many feared Dead

A passenger plane carrying 32 people crashed near the Papua New Guinea coast, officials said Thursday, with witness reports saying only four people on board had survived.

The Airlines PNG Dash-8 was flying from the mountain gateway city of Lae to coastal Madang when it crashed around 5pm local time (0800 GMT), killing a number on board, the Australian Accident Investigation Commission said.

"There has been an aircraft accident here involving Airlines of Papua New Guinea," AIC investigator Sid O'Toole told AFP.

O'Toole was unable to confirm the number of casualties, but witnesses told local media only four on board had survived

"There were 32 people on board and there are some survivors and some fatalities," he said.

O'Toole said there had been "adverse weather around the area at the time" but could not confirm witness reports of a violent and sudden storm ahead of the crash, 20 kilometres south of Madang near the mouth of the Gogol river.

Most on board were believed to be the families of local university students travelling to a weekend graduation ceremony, according to media reports, which also cited witnesses seeing flames.

"It was hard to get there. Very dense," local firefighter Joe Dunar told the AAP news agency.

The inland site, reportedly in dense forest, had been secured by police and ambulances had arrived on the scene, with local emergency authorities and hospitals on standby, O'Toole said.

A crash investigator was already on the ground in Medang and Australian transport accident officials had also been contacted for assistance, he added. Read More

Sony PlayStation Network Hacked Again, Closes 93,000 Accounts

By Ned Potter
Oct 12, 2011 2:32pm
Sony PlayStation Network Hacked Again, Closes 93,000 Accounts
Email 3 Smaller Font Text Larger Text | Print

Sony Corp. says its PlayStation online gaming network has been hit by hackers again, and it’s suspended about 93,000 users’ accounts while it figures out how to protect itself.

In a statement from its Tokyo headquarters, the company said it had “detected a large amount of unauthorized sign-in attempts” between Oct. 7 and Oct. 10, and had temporarily locked 93,000 accounts whose sign-on IDs and passwords had been copied by whoever made the attacks.

“Credit card numbers associated with these accounts are not at risk as a result of these unauthorized attempts,” the company said, adding that there had been little activity on most of them between the attack and Sony’s decision to lock the accounts.

It said it would email account holders with instructions so they can reset their passwords.

This all matters because it has happened before, and has had Sony struggling to recover in the past. After an attack in April (the shadow group Lulz Security took credit) the PlayStation network was offline for 44 days, and spent about $170 million to restart, and try to restore its relationship with its customers. more

U.S. Challenged to Explain Accusations of Iran Plot in the Face of Skepticism

The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to reconcile what it said was solid evidence of an Iranian plot to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States with a wave of puzzlement and skepticism from some foreign leaders and outside experts.

Senior American officials themselves were struggling to explain why the Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, would orchestrate such a risky attack in so amateurish a manner.

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, would not go further than to say the plot “clearly involved senior levels of the Quds Force.” But other American officials, armed with evidence such as bank transfers and intercepted telephone calls and with knowledge of how the covert unit operated in the past, said they believed that Iran’s senior leaders were likely complicit in the plot.

“It would be our assessment that this kind of operation would have been discussed at the highest levels of the regime,” said a senior American official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the government’s analysis.

American officials offered no specific evidence linking the plot to Iran’s most senior leaders. But they said it was inconceivable in Iran’s hierarchy that the leader of the shadowy Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, was not directly involved, and that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was not aware of such a plan.

Iran’s leaders marshaled a furious formal rejection Wednesday of the American accusations, calling the case a cynical fabrication meant to vilify Iran and distract Americans from their severe economic problems. A senior member of Iran’s Parliament, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said he had “no doubt this is a new American-Zionist plot to divert the public opinion from the crisis Obama is grappling with.” more

Bloomberg tells Occupy Wall Street protesters to clear Zuccotti Park by Friday

Wall Street may not be occupied for much longer.

Two days after Mayor Michael Bloomberg said protesters could stay in Zuccotti Park "indefinitely" if they followed the law, the mayor visited them tonight to say they had to be out of there by Friday, according to the mayor's office. The reason given by the mayor tonight was that the park needs to be cleaned.

The request to clean the park is coming from the company that owns it, Brookfield Office Properties, on whose behalf the chief executive wrote a two-page letter to the NYPD asking for help "to clear the Park" and to "assist" on an "ongoing basis" to keep the area safe and clean.

In the Oct. 11 letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Brookfield's C.E.O., Richard B. Clark, said the four-week old "trespassing of the protesters" has created "a health and public safety issue that must be addressed immediately." more

Slovakia NO Vote magically changed to a YES Vote.... neat trick or dirty trick?

Slovakian lawmakers on Thursday approved expanding the size and powers of the EU bailout fund, overcoming an earlier rejection and removing the last hurdle to the fund's use as the continent's main weapon against the debt crisis.

Slovakia is the last of the 17 eurozone nations to approve boosting the bailout euro440 billion ($600 billion) fund, called the European Financial Stability Facility. The fund will be able to lend quickly to governments before they are in a full-blown crisis and help them boost banks' health.

The country's parliament had rejected the changes to the bailout fund on Tuesday because a junior coalition partner, the Freedom and Solidarity party, was against it. In a desperate effort to force that party to vote in favor, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova had tied the vote on the bailout fund to a confidence vote in the government. When the vote failed, her 1-year-old government collapsed.

The main opposition party, Smer-Social Democracy, then agreed to help the outgoing coalition approve the expanded fund in a second vote in exchange for early elections.

On Thursday, parliament voted in favor of holding early elections in March, with 143 in favor and 3 against. Just a half hour later, they approved boosting the bailout fund — 114 were in favor, while only 76 votes were needed.

"I'm satisfied that the fund has been approved," said Robert Fico, chairman of the leftist Smer-Social Democracy and former prime minister. "Slovakia is back on the map of Europe." Read More

US Military: Computer Virus Wasn't Directed At Drones

The Air Force says the computer virus that hit the unmanned drone program last month was not directed at the military systems, but was common malware used to steal log-ins and passwords used in online gaming.

Air Force officials said the virus infected ground systems that are separate from drone flight controls and did not affect operations.

An Air Force Space Command spokeswoman, Col. Kathleen Cook, says the infection was found on a small, portable hard drive used to transfer information between systems at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

The Air Force says the virus did not log computer keystrokes, but instead was designed to steal passwords from people who gamble or play games like Mafia Wars online. more

Surfer Stood on back of Great White Shark and Lived -- "I thought it was a rock"

An Oregon man surfed on more than just his board Monday - he actually stood atop a thrashing Great White shark for several terrifying seconds.

Doug Niblack was surfing off the coast of Seaside, Ore., when his board hit what he initially thought was a rock. But when he looked down, he saw a dorsal fin and soon realized he was directly on top of the world's most fearsome shark. Then, the beast's tail began thrashing and Niblack jumped off and paddled to shore.

"It was pretty terrifying just seeing the shape emerge out of nothing and just being under me," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "And the fin coming out of the water. It was just like the movies."

Jake Marks, an off-duty Coast Guard officer who was nearby, said he saw Niblack suddenly standing up, with water churning around him. Although he didn't see the shark, he did see a large shape swimming off between them just beneath the surface.

"I have no reason to doubt there was a shark out there," said Marks. "With the damage to his board, the way he was yelling and trembling afterwards — there is no other explanation for that." more

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Baja California, Mexico at a depth of 6.8 km (4.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:57:13 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 47 km ( 30 miles) East from Maneadero, Baja California, Mexico
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Google Tax Probe to Focus on Offshore Units: IRS says Google snuck money away to avoid paying taxes

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is auditing how Google Inc. (GOOG) avoided federal income taxes by shifting profit into offshore subsidiaries, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The agency is bringing more than typical scrutiny to how the company valued software rights and other intellectual property it licensed abroad, said the person, who requested anonymity because the audit isn’t public. The IRS has requested information from Google about its offshore deals after three acquisitions, including its $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube, the person said. The transfer overseas of these kinds of rights has enabled Google to attribute earnings to foreign units that pay lower taxes, Bloomberg News reported a year ago.

While Google’s potential liability isn’t clear, similar deals between companies and offshore arms are often the subject of disputes over hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, said Daniel Frisch, an economist at Horst Frisch Inc. which advises businesses on transfer pricing -- the allocation of income between units in different countries. In 2006, the IRS settled a case with drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) for $3.4 billion.

“The very biggest transfer-pricing tax disputes are over transfers of intangibles to offshore subsidiaries,” said Frisch, whose firm is based in Washington. more

Egypt: Planes patrol Sinai without Israel's consent -- "We don't need permission"

Egypt's air force chief said on Thursday that Egyptian warplanes are patrolling Sinai without Israel's consent, despite a 1979 peace treaty limiting Egypt's military presence in the peninsula.

"Sinai is our land, and we do not need permission to increase our forces on our land," General Reda Hafiz told the official MENA news agency.

"Egyptian planes conduct patrols to secure all Egypt's borders, including the eastern border," he said.

Parts of Sinai have been restricted to Egyptian troops under the terms of the 1979 treaty, by which Israel agreed to withdraw from the territory. In recent months, however, the Egyptian army has deployed reinforcements with Israeli consent to tackle suspected Islamist militants.

The government had approved an increase in Egyptian army deployment to Sinai in August after a series of deadly attacks on the south were blamed on militants operating out of the territory.

On August 18, terrorists armed with heavy weapons, guns and explosives launched four attacks in quick succession in southern Israel near the border with Egypt, killing seven people and wounding dozens more. more

Who's behind the Wall St. protests? George Soros, perhaps?

Anti-Wall Street protesters say the rich are getting richer while average Americans suffer, but the group that started it all may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world's richest men.

There has been much speculation over who is financing the disparate protest, which has spread to cities across America and lasted nearly four weeks. One name that keeps coming up is investor George Soros, who in September debuted in the top 10 list of wealthiest Americans. Conservative critics contend the movement is a Trojan horse for a secret Soros agenda.

Soros and the protesters deny any connection. But Reuters did find indirect financial links between Soros and Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada which started the protests with an inventive marketing campaign aimed at sparking an Arab Spring type uprising against Wall Street. Moreover, Soros and the protesters share some ideological ground.

"I can understand their sentiment," Soros told reporters last week at the United Nations about the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, which are expected to spur solidarity marches globally on Saturday.

Pressed further for his views on the movement and the protesters, Soros refused to be drawn in. But conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh summed up the speculation when he told his listeners last week, "George Soros money is behind this." more

Hattie Yvonne Branch, 70, beats down 14 year old kid on school bus



A recently released video shows a former Polk County bus attendant hitting, pushing, biting and pulling the hair of a 14-year-old on the bus.

The incident happened at the end of last school year. Today the bus attendant is facing a child abuse charge.

As the school bus sat in the loading zone at Lakeland High School on June 2nd, the 14-year-old student flipped a 5-year-old boy over the seat. When he did so, the boy's legs hit the bus attendant, and she thinks it was done intentionally.

"He done hit me!" Hattie Yvonne Branch is heard saying on the school bus video. Branch, the bus attendant, is then seen lashing back at the teen.

"Stop, Yvonne! He didn't mean to do that!" pleaded Charlene Wimes, the school bus driver. Wimes tried to stop it, but Branch is seen the video striking the teen and pushing the student into the seats.

"He didn't mean to do it!" Wimes shouted.

"Yes he did!" is Branch's response.

In the video, Branch continues to hit the teen, reportedly biting him twice on his back, leaving teeth marks. She is seen pulling his hair and finally grabbing ahold of him by the neck, before letting go.

We tried speaking to Branch at her home. "I have no comment. Talk with my lawyer," Branch tells 10 News.

"Ms. Branch is sorry about her behavior, that this child got under her skin," says Julia Willamson, Branch's attorney. more

US Postal Service’s ‘welcome kit’ raises privacy concerns -- are they selling your address?

It might have been the first piece of mail you got after your recent move. And if you’re still unpacking, look for it. You can’t miss it. It’s the “welcome kit” from the U.S. Postal Service — stuffed into the mailboxes of tens of millions of Americans who have filled out change-of-address forms.

The change-of-address confirmation letter comes in an official-looking USPS envelope with the words “verification required” and “do not discard,” but it contains mostly ads and coupons from companies selling cellphone service, insurance, home security systems, appliances, mattresses, bottled water, banking services, electronics and other move-related products and services.

“Double bonus! Free use of a dispenser,” one ad for bottled water declares.

While these welcome kits may provide a targeted marketing opportunity for advertisers and much-needed revenue for the USPS, federal agencies aren’t allowed to sell or rent personal information such as names and addresses under the federal Privacy Act.

For years, the USPS has given a Massachusetts company, Imagitas, exclusive rights to manage its change-of-address process, called MoverSource. As part of the deal, which was based on an unsolicited proposal sent to the USPS in the 1990s, the company sells advertising to major retailers. The ads then are sent to millions of homes along with the change-of-address letter. more

France: Math teacher immolates herself at school

France's education minister says a high school math teacher in southern France sprayed herself with a flammable product and set herself alight in the school yard during recreation.

Luc Chatel said the motives behind the incident, which took place early Thursday in the Mediterranean city of Beziers, were not immediately clear.

The teacher, whose name has not been released, was flown via helicopter to nearby Montpellier and hospitalized with serious burns.

Chatel added that a psychological support unit would be set up in the school. source

Two girls suspended after attack during Sullivan High biology class last Thursday

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.



A pair of female Chicago Public High School students violently assaulted a fellow female student during class last week while at least four other students stood by and the teacher looked on in shock.

"They got angry and went ghetto on her," the victim's best friend, a freshman at the school, told NBC Chicago on Wednesday. "Every day there's a fight. Today there was a fight in algebra."

The attack, which was caught on tape, took place during a biology class last Thursday at Roger C. Sullivan High School, at 6631 North Bosworth Avenue.

In the video, 14-year-old Jillian Salgado struggled to fend off her two attackers. A fourth woman appears to make an attempt to break up the fight before backing away. At one point, the assailants appear to slam the victim's head off a table.

"I could not feel anything but my adrenaline was pumping so much," she recalled. more

30 girls assault another girl in Jersey City park (and steal her cell phone)

A 15-year-old Hoboken girl was assaulted in a Downtown Jersey City park Friday night by a group of roughly 30 girls who stole her cellphone, police reports said.

Police were called to the park on Wayne Street between Barrow Street and Jersey Avenue at 9:57 p.m. on the report of a large, disorderly group and after dispersing the group of up to 30 people, police noticed the 15-year-old girl standing at the corner of the park with a bloody nose, swollen lip and bloody ear, reports said.

The victim said she was walking in the park with her cousin when the pack of teenage girls swarmed around her and assaulted her before stealing her cellphone, reports said.

The girl’s mother, who was called to the scene, told police that just as she was arriving, she came across the group, asked for the phone back and one of the girls returned it to her, reports said. source

Fremont Orders Teen To Dismantle Haunted House Over Permit Issue (That's right... permit issue)

Halloween is still weeks away, but already a popular Haunted House in Fremont is being forced to close its doors after the city called it a public safety hazard.

For the past seven years, Chris Stelle has transformed his parents backyard into an elaborate haunted house for Halloween. Thousands of friends and neighbors have been through the annual freak show.

But this year, the city of Fremont got wise to the house, constructed mostly out of wood pallets, and declared it a safety hazard.

”We just don’t want to stop,” said Stelle. “We want to continue on with the spirit of Halloween and make people happy.”

Stelle is hoping to move the entire house to a local church, if he can get a permit from the city.

“I think it’s stupid, I really do,” said neighbor Helen Marquez. “I think they should just let it go.”

The city is giving the family until the 26th to have the house dismantled, or face daily fines. source

Smuggled Libyan weapons flood into Egypt

Large caches of weapons from Libya are making their way across the Egyptian border and flooding black markets in Egypt’s already unstable Sinai Peninsula, according to current and former Egyptian military officials and arms traders in the Sinai.

Egyptian security officials have intercepted surface-to-air missiles, most of them shoulder-launched, on the road to Sinai and in the smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip since Moammar Gaddafi fell from power in Libya in August, a military official in Cairo said. Arms traders said the weapons available on Sinai’s clandestine market include rockets and antiaircraft guns.

The seizures raise fresh concerns about security along the sensitive area that borders the Gaza Strip and Israel, at a time when unrest is roiling the region. The addition of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to arsenals of Palestinian fighters in Gaza could add significantly to the threat against Israel, whose helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft frequently patrol the strip, which is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas.

“We don’t want to see Egypt as a pathway to smuggle weapons,” said Sameh Seif el-Yazal, a retired Egyptian general in military intelligence who said several surface-to-air missiles have been intercepted on the desert road from Libya to the Egyptian city of Alexandria and north on to Gaza. “We believe some Palestinian groups made a deal with Libyans to get special weapons such as shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.”

Concerns about security in the Sinai have been growing in Egypt and among Israeli and American officials, who have called on Egypt to do more to protect the sensitive area, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel. In the months since Egypt’s January-February revolution, the pipeline that feeds natural gas to Israel has been attacked seven times by militants. A cross-border attack by assailants in August killed eight Israeli civilians and prompted an Israeli counterstrike that killed six Egyptian troops, including three who later died of their wounds

Palestinian militants in Gaza command a potent arsenal that includes surface-to-surface missiles capable of striking deep inside Israel. But they are not known to have employed more than rudimentary antiaircraft weapons. more

Sharp rise in foreclosures as banks move in

More U.S. homes are entering the foreclosure process, but they're taking ever longer to get sold or repossessed by lenders.

The number of U.S. homes that received a first-time default notice during the July to September quarter increased 14 percent compared to the second quarter of the year, RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

That increase signals banks are moving more aggressively now against borrowers who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments than they have since industrywide foreclosure processing problems emerged last fall. Those problems resulted in a sharp drop in foreclosure activity this year.

The surge in default notices means homeowners who haven't kept up their mortgage payments could now end up on the foreclosure path sooner. more

Applications for unemployment aid barely changed as American works remain idle

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, a sign the job market isn't getting much better.

Applications ticked down by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 404,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The four-week average declined for the third straight week to 408,000. That's the lowest average in eight weeks.

Still, applications are higher than they would be in a healthy economy. They need to fall consistently below 375,000 to signal sustainable job growth. They haven't been below that level since February.

The report suggests that layoffs have declined in recent weeks. But other data show hiring hasn't picked up.

Ellen Zentner, senior economist at Nomura Securities, said applications around 400,000 indicate a neutral job market, "one that's neither picking up, nor deteriorating."

Only a few weeks ago some had feared the risks of another recession had grown. So "even neutral readings are good," she said, because they signal that conditions aren't worsening.

Employers pulled back on hiring this spring, after rising gas prices cut into consumer spending and Japan's March 11 earthquake disrupted supply chains, which slowed U.S. auto production. more

Are Gibson guitars killing the rainforest?

Iconic US guitar maker Gibson is facing a criminal probe over claims it broke environmental laws while importing wood. So is music the next threat to the world's forests?

"Up here you grow up liking Fenders or you grow up liking Gibsons," says Billy Jack, 55, sat in a Nashville music store eyeing up a trio of shiny new Gibson guitars.

Cradling a $3,800 (£2,413) Gibson Les Paul, Mr Jack, a veteran guitarist, recalls riffs gone by as he explains his fondness for one of rock's iconic instruments.

"You can hear it in your ear. It's how quickly you can run through your chops. It's the tone. You just can't go wrong."

But things have gone wrong. On 28 August federal agents raided Gibson's Nashville and Memphis premises, seizing shipments of Indian rosewood and leaving the venerable guitar maker more than a little off-key.

The agents brandished search warrants issued amid suspicions that Gibson had violated the terms of the Lacey Act, an environmental law that requires imports to the US to comply with laws in the country of origin as well. more

Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue turns 80

Rio de Janeiro's world famous landmark, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, will turn 80 on Wednesday.

The monument was inaugurated on 12 October 1931, and the anniversary will be celebrated with concerts, exhibitions, religious services and social events.

On 28 October, replicas of the figure will be taken to cities around the world including Buenos Aires, New York, Rome and Jerusalem. watch video here

5 billion excess calories a day in UK diet

British health officials say the country needs to slash 5 billion calories from its collective daily diet to slow the obesity epidemic.

In a report issued Thursday, the department of health said most adults in the nation of about 60 million people are already eating far more than they need. The average Briton eats about 10 per cent more calories than necessary, the report said.

The U.K. has one of Europe's fattest populations: more than 60 per cent of adults and one third of children aged 10 to 11 are overweight or obese. The new report aims to change diet and exercise habits enough so that the number of heavy Britons begins to fall by 2020.

Britain's chief medical officer, Sally Davies, said people need to be more honest with themselves about just how much food they're eating every day. "We are still too heavy as a nation," she said at a press conference. "Not enough of us are getting it right."

Obesity raises the risk of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Experts said treating fat patients costs the national health service $8 billion US every year. more

Slowdown in the German economy is predicted

Eight leading European economic institutes have forecast a steep slowdown for Germany's economy.

The eight think-tanks make a twice-yearly aggregate forecast of German growth.

Six months ago they predicted 2% growth for next year, but they have now cut that to 0.8%, blaming the debt crisis in the eurozone.

Slow growth in Germany makes it much harder for the rest of Europe to avoid a return to recession.

The German economy grew 3.6% last year.

"The debt crisis in Europe is threatening to become a banking crisis, which is increasingly weighing on the German economy too," the institutes said in a statement.

The forecasts come from six German think-tanks: IWH, Kiel Economics, Ifo, IfW, RWI and ZEW as well as Zurich's KOF and Vienna's IHS.

They attribute the deterioration in their forecasts to a "clear rise in uncertainty", which will "dampen domestic demand".

They are also concerned that economic problems among Germany's trading partners will hit its exports.

Strong exports have allowed Germany to fare better than its European partners in the downturn so far. source

Tokyo radiation hotspot 'not linked to Fukushima' (Hmm)

Elevated levels of radiation found in a residential area of Tokyo are almost certainly not connected to the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, say officials.

The reading, taken on a small area of pavement in Setagaya ward, had fuelled fears about the possible effects of radiation from the plant.

But Japan's science minister said the radiation had been traced to material stored in the basement of a house.

Local residents had been told the radiation was no threat to health.

The hotspot was detected at height of about one metre above the pavement, after Setagaya residents who had been monitoring radiation levels alerted the authorities.

The ward is more than 200km (124 miles) from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March, so the discovery led to fears that radiation from the damaged plant had spread further than previously thought and at higher levels.

"I've been measuring radiation levels throughout the metropolitan Tokyo areas, but I have never seen such a high level of radiation [as] I found here," one member of a nuclear action group told reporters. more

16th firebomb found by German police

German police say they have found another firebomb set to go off next to train tracks in southwest Berlin.

Federal police spokesman Meik Gauer said Thursday that experts were on hand to defuse the device.

Sixteen firebombs have been found in nine locations since Monday and hundreds of trains have been delayed because of partial shutdowns, but there have been no injuries.

Two have gone off — one damaging a track west of the city and another igniting but not exploding in Berlin with little effect.

Gauer says it is not known when the most recent bomb was placed — and authorities have said that all of the devices could have been planted at the same time over the weekend.

A previously unknown leftist group has claimed responsibility for one of the firebombs. source

China-U.S. trade wars: What's at stake

China and the United States are the world's two largest economies and arguably each other's most important trading partners.

And now, it seems the two countries find themselves on the brink of a trade war.

The U.S. Senate, in a rare show of bipartisan agreement, passed a bill Tuesday that would slap steep taxes known as tariffs on imports from nations with undervalued currencies. It is a provision aimed squarely at China's yuan, and it prompted harsh attacks from Chinese officials.

"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."

But despite overwhelming support in the Senate, the bill might never become law as House Speaker John Boehner has signaled his opposition to it.

"I think it's pretty dangerous to be moving legislation through the United States Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency," Boehner said.

President Obama has also questioned whether he would sign the bill, saying he didn't want to pass "symbolic" laws that would be slapped down by the World Trade Organization. more

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN PERU - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Northern Peru at a depth of 22.8 km (14.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:06:17 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 179 km ( 111 miles) ESE of Moyobamba, Peru
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

China tech companies have army-linked 'cybermilitias'

Nanhao Group is, in many ways, an ordinary technology company. Its staff make online scoring systems, exam-mark scanners and other educational hardware and software.

But many of its 500 employees in Hengshui, just south-west of Beijing, have a second job. Since 2005 Nanhao has been home to a cybermilitia unit organised by the People's Liberation Army.

"All staff under the age of 30 belong to the unit," said Bai Guoliang, Nanhao vice-president. It is unclear what exactly the unit does, but according to a local government announcement when it was set up, it consisted of two groups tasked with cyberattack and cyberdefence.

The Nanhao operation is one of thousands set up by the Chinese military over the past decade in technology companies and universities around the country. These units form the backbone of the country's internet warfare forces, increasingly seen as a serious threat at a time of escalating global cybertensions.

Governments, companies and internet security experts around the world have blamed China for many of the past year's global hacking attacks. US officials point to the Chinese government or its supporters for the theft of neutron bomb designs, the defence secretary's emails and private sector intellectual property worth many billions of dollars. more

Bhutan's beloved king marries commoner in a nation that measures itself by "Gross National Happiness": A lesson for us all

The beloved king of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan married his commoner bride Thursday in an ancient Buddhist ceremony at the country's most sacred monastery fortress.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, wearing the raven crown, came down from his golden throne in front of a huge statue of Buddha to place a smaller, silk brocade crown upon the head of his bride, Jetsun Pema. Monks chanted in celebration as she took her seat beside him as the new queen of the country.
Bhutan

The wedding has captivated the nation, which had grown impatient with their 31-year-old bachelor king's lack of urgency to wed. Children composed poems, flight attendants practised celebratory dances and posters of the couple were nearly ubiquitous.

The celebrations began at 8:20 a.m. local time — a time set by royal astrologers — when the king, wearing the royal yellow sash, walked into the courtyard of the 17th century monastery in the old capital of Punakha and proceeded up the high staircase inside. A few minutes later, his 21-year-old bride arrived at the end of a procession of red-robed monks and flag bearers across a wooden footbridge over the wide, blue river beside the fort and followed him inside.

Singers chanted songs of celebration amid the clanging of drums and the drone of long dhung trumpets.

She wore a traditional wraparound skirt with a gold jacket with deep red cuffs.

Inside, the nation's top cleric, who presided over the wedding, performed a purification ceremony for the couple in front of a massive, long Thongdal tapestry of Bhutan's 17th century founder. more

Security forces storm Syrian city

Security forces raided a northern Syrian city amid explosions and gunfire early Thursday and casualties have been reported, activists said.

The forces clashed with gunmen believed to be dissidents in the city of Binnish in Idlib province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Oudai al Sayed, an opposition activist, said seven people have been killed, including a two-year-old boy.

"Syrian military forces supported by tanks and armored personnel carriers stormed the city early this morning," the group said. "Heavy machine guns and shelling have been heard around the city."

The group said some houses were damaged and casualties have been reported.

Explosions rang out as forces pounded the city, according to the group, which said military forces also stormed the village of Taoum east of Binnish. more

China signals weaker currency after U.S. Senate vote

For the second consecutive day after a U.S. Senate vote aimed at penalizing China for undervaluing its currency, Beijing lowered the range at which the yuan could trade against the dollar.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) first lowered the band at which the yuan is allowed to trade against the dollar just hours after the U.S. Senate approved a bill that pressures China to allow its currency to rise faster. The bill also faces a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, where its approval faces an uphill battle.

The PBOC -- which sets daily limits on how much China's currency can appreciate or depreciate against the dollar -- again set Thursday trading guidelines slightly lower, although on both days currency traders continued to push the value of the yuan higher, suggesting investors don't believe this signals a weak yuan policy.

Yet the moves by the PBOC are against the wider trend of the yuan rising in value. China's currency has risen 3.25% in value against the dollar this year and more than 20% since Beijing started loosening its tight peg to the U.S. dollar in 2005. The PBOC set the midpoint trading value of the yuan at RMB6.3737 on Thursday, the highest level since September 27. more

Libyans battle to protect ancient treasures from looting

Walking along the tree-lined gravel track towards one of the Roman Empire's greatest architectural legacies, little can prepare you for what you are about to experience.

As you emerge from the shade of the tall poplars the towering stone edifice that guards Leptis Magna's approaches appears. It is simultaneously stunning and evocative. Like a blow to the sternum, it quickens the heart.

Septimus Severus's gate, a tribute to the Roman emperor responsible for much of what remains today, stands astride great Roman roadways.

Severus, like the country's most recent modern day ruler Moammar Gadhafi, spent lavishly on his hometown transforming it reputedly into the third greatest city in Africa, rivaling Carthage and Alexandria.

Here that empire feels real. The roads east and west marched alongside Africa's coast, and the roads south to the desert deeper in to African continent and the road north to the harbor, the Mediterranean sea and the wealth of the Roman empire beyond.

To stand at the gates today is for me at least to be transported back in time. So clear are the carving on the great archway, so real the roads radiating outwards and so vast the town struggling out of the sand all around it feels almost alive. more

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake AEGEAN SEA (MEDITERRANEAN SEA) GREECE - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Aegean Sea, Greece at a depth of just 2 km (1.2 miles), the quake hit at 14:44:41 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 28 km ( 17.3 miles) Southwest of Kamariotissa, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Radiation spikes in Tokyo neighborhood, officials say

An extraordinarily high level of radiation was detected in one spot in a central Tokyo residential district Thursday, prompting the local government to cordon off the small area, local officials said.

Radiation levels were higher in Tokyo's Setagaya ward than in the evacuation area around the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, according to ward Mayor Nobuto Hosaka.

"We are shocked to see such high radiation level was detected in our neighborhood. We cannot leave it as is," Hosaka told reporters.

But the tsunami-struck Fukushima plant may not be the source of the radiation, Hosaka said later on state television.

Officials searching for the cause found "glass bottles in a cardboard box" in the basement of a house in the neighborhood which sent radiation detectors off the charts, he said on NHK.

"We suspect these bottles in basement could be the cause of the high radiation reading and we are hastily working to confirm it," he said.

Radiation experts are now checking what contaminated the bottles, a Setagaya ward official told CNN, declining to be named in line with policy. more

Warning over dangerous new viruses that look 'identical' to online banking pages

Criminals are using sneaky new viruses that imitate internet banking pages to trick customers into leaking sensitive details, security experts warn.

A dangerous hacker scam busted in Spain is one of a nasty new breed of viruses set to invade the UK, software firm Trusteer says.

Britain's 25million internet banking users are at risk despite huge improvements in online security at big banks.

The roll-out of card readers at the likes of Lloyds, Barclays, and NatWest, one-time mobile phone passcodes at Santander, and a new 'Secure Key' by HSBC have helped drastically reduce online fraud in recent years.

Total cash stolen from bank accounts online fell by 32 per cent over the last twelve months, thanks to new technology.

But experts are now warning that these high-tech safeguards are being cracked by old-school con artists using new and supremely camouflaged viruses.

And, worryingly, a leading software tester has told This is Money that even internet banking users with top-level security software like McAfee, Norton or Trusteer's own Rapport download – used by 7million bank account holders – are at risk. Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF SUMBA, INDONESIA - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck South of Sumba, Indonesia at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 12:16:33 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 263 km ( 163 miles) South of Waingapu, Sumba, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake MINAHASA, SULAWESI, INDONESIA - 13th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia at a depth of 11 km (6.8 miles), the quake hit at 11:25:08 UTC Thursday 13th October 2011.
The epicenter was 38 km ( 23.5 miles) North of Palu, Indonesia
No reports of Damage or Injuries r
eported at this time

Pro-Gaddafi Rabbit Captured as Governments and media continue the War of Propaganda.. Meanwhile .....

Al Qaeda leader urges Libya to adopt Islamic law, beware of the West.

In his latest video, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri congratulated the Libyan people on their victory against dictator Moammar Gadhafi but warned them against Western manipulation as they forge ahead in building a new nation.

Osama bin Laden's successor said Libyans should move quickly to establish Sharia, or Islamic law.

"Be careful of the plots of the West and its agents as you are building your new state and do not allow them to trick you and steal your sacrifices and suffering," al-Zawahiri said in the video posted on Islamist websites. "And be sure to take the first, most important step for reform and apply Sharia.

"If the West talks about extremists and militants, they are talking about the honest and the free who defend their religion, sanctities, families and countries," he said.

Appearing in white robes in front of a green backdrop, al-Zawahiri urged Algerians to follow the examples of their neighbors and rise up against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

"I call upon the Algerian people to follow in the footsteps of your brothers in Libya and Tunisia and to revolt against your tyrant," he said. Read More

Death toll jumps to 43 in Vietnam’s worst seasonal floods in a decade - 13th Oct 2011

AP: Vietnam says nine more deaths have brought the toll from the Mekong Delta’s worst flooding in more than a decade to 43 people, mostly children.

The government said Thursday that the seasonal floods have submerged nearly 70,000 homes. The waters have damaged an estimated $55 million in crops and infrastructure in the south since late August.

The high water levels also prevented more than 234,000 students from attending schools. Source