Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tax row sparks riot in China - 27th Oct 2011

Hundreds of business owners have clashed with riot police in an eastern Chinese city after a row over taxation, reports on official media say.

The unrest was sparked when the owner of a children's clothing firm in Huzhou city refused to pay his tax bill.

Reports say the man gathered friends to attack the local tax collector, and the row snowballed into a riot where people threw stones and overturned cars.

China has thousands of riots every year, often sparked by minor rows.

Analysts say the riots - or "mass incidents" as Chinese officials call them - are often fuelled by economic pressures such as the rapidly rising cost of basic goods. Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of just 1 km ( 0.6 miles), the quake hit at 03:23:30 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 24 km ( 14.8 miles) Southeast of Ercis, Turkey

550 Dead - 2300 Injured and hundreds more Missing
over 200 Prisoners have escaped after setting fire to their cells as the guards refused to let them out.

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck the Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 53.3 km ( 33.1 miles), the quake hit at 01:35:30 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 53 km ( 32 miles) SSW of Amulta Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 10 km ( 6.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:25:35 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 9 km ( 5 miles) WSW of Van, Turkey

550 Dead - 2300 Injured and hundreds more Missing
over 200 Prisoners have escaped after setting fire to their cells as the guards refused to let them out.

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 27th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 621 km ( 385.9 miles), the quake hit at 21:25:57 UTC Thursday 27th October 2011.
The epicenter was 36 km ( 22 miles) West of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Fractured Catholicism? Did Cardinals and Bishops refuse to shake Pope Benedict's hand? Or video blown out of proportion?



Official response, as discovered by a reader:

Vatican spokesman rejects claim German bishops disrespected Pope
.- Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., dismissed what he called “ridiculous” claims circulating online that the German bishops disrespected Pope Benedict during his recent visit to the country.

Fr. Lombardi said that a YouTube video showing the Pope and German president Christian Wulff has been misconstrued by bloggers and other members of the media.

Some have claimed that as the Pope moved down the line and extended his hand to introduce the members of his entourage, he was ignored by a number of German bishops.

But Fr. Lombardi told CNA that “the interpretation given to that video that the German bishops were disrespectful to the Pope is absolutely unfounded.”

In fact, he added, the video “obviously shows the moment in which the Pope was introducing his entourage—not the German bishops—to the German president at his residency.”

“The Pope was gesturing with his hand to each member of the entourage, who greeted the President,” Fr. Lombardi said. “The Pope does not expect the members of his entourage, who travel with him, to extend their hands to him on that occasion.” more

It just goes to show how important it is to interpret everything from two sides, even when one is sure they have the right answer. Keep those eyes open everyone!

London cleric resigns amid Occupy cathedral protest over plans to evict protestors

A senior figure at London's landmark St. Paul's Cathedral stepped down Thursday, apparently over concerns that it planned to evict anti-capitalist protesters camped outside.

Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser had been supportive of the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest camp, the presence of which led the cathedral to close its doors last week for the first time in decades.

"It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St. Paul's Cathedral," Fraser said on Twitter Thursday, but did not give a reason why.

However, he told the London Evening Standard newspaper he was stepping down from a post he had held since 2009 because he believed the cathedral was set on a course of action that "may lead to violence."

The Dean of St. Paul's, the Right Rev. Graeme Knowles, said the cathedral would be "very sorry to see him go" but did not elaborate on his decision.

Cathedral leaders announced Thursday that St. Paul's, a major tourist attraction and historic center of worship in the heart of London's financial district, will reopen Friday with a service at 12:30 p.m.

A statement on the Occupy London website said the protesters were "deeply moved" by Fraser's resignation.

"From the moment Occupy London arrived at St. Paul's Churchyard he respected our right to protest and defended it," it said.

"For that we are very grateful, as he ensured that St. Paul's could be a sanctuary for us and that no violence could take place against peaceful protesters with a legitimate cause -- challenging and tackling social and economic injustice in London, the UK and beyond." more

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 27th Oct 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu at a depth of 42.6 km ( 26.5 miles), the quake hit at 18:06:25 UTC Thursday 27th October 2011.
The epicenter was 329 km ( 204 miles) ESE of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Huge 'waterworld' where a year lasts just 18 hours and has boiling oceans hundreds of times as deep as Earth's - 27th Oct 2011

A planet where a year lasts just 18 hours is a waterworld with a radius around twice the size of Earth, a team of astronomers have discovered.

55 Cancri E is the innermost planet in orbit around a sun-like star known as 55 Cancri A that is around 40 light years from Earth.

Now a team from The University of Liege in Belgium have revealed further details about the planet after conducting a new study.

The team, led by Michael Gillon, observed the planet using both NASA's Spitzer space telescope and Canada's MOST space telescope.

The use of the telescopes is significant as the astronomers could analyse the amount of light the planet blocks from its parent star as it passes.

This allowed them to measure the planet's radius which determined that it was twice that of Earth. Read More

Pluto has a twin: Icy dwarf planet Eris is almost exactly the same size - 27th Oct 2011

It was the discovery of Eris in 2005 that led to Pluto’s loss of planethood – and now astronomers have calculated that the two are doppelgangers.

Eris, which lies three times further from the Sun than Pluto, has finally been accurately measured by telescopes in Chile.

It turns out that its diameter is 1,445 miles, which is very similar to Pluto’s girth - between 1,429 and 1,491 miles.

The readings were made possible by Eris passing in front of a star – known in the business as a stellar occultation - which allowed astronomers to get a good look at it.

Until this happened it just appeared as a faint light, even using powerful equipment. Read More

100,000 turtles sacrificed in ritual slaughter to celebrate Hindu festival - 27th Oct 2011

A Hindu festival that celebrates light has been shrouded in darkness following the sacrificial slaughter of up to 100,000 turtles.

Shown in these horrifying images, critically endangered species including the northern river terrapin and the black soft-shell turtle, are sacrificed in the name of religion.

The ancient ritual takes place during the celebration of Kali Puja, which started in Bengal yesterday.

Held once a year, and corresponding with the festival Diwali, sacrifices are made to Kali, the Hindu goddess of power.

During Kali Puja, market streets are teeming with devotees who purchase and consume thousands of turtles.

One of the species found on Dhaka's markets is the northern river terrapin.

Around 25 individuals are known to exist, making it one of the rarest animals on earth.

On paper it is offered the same level of protection as a tiger. Read More

Life on Earth bubbled out of a volcano in Greenland 3.8 billion years ago, say scientists - 27th Oct 2011

Life on earth began in a mud volcano in the sea near Greenland 3.8 billion years ago, scientists believe.

Researchers say they have discovered the chemical elements crucial to the formation of life in mud volcanoes at Isua in south-west Greenland.

The new find shows an environment with the perfect chemical 'mix' and temperature for life to begin.

Researchers from the Laboratoire de Geologie de Lyon Marie-Laure Pons said: 'Mud volcanoes at Isua have been identified as a possible birthplace for life on earth.'

The volcanoes have been picked out because their unique chemical make-up would allow amino acids - the building blocks of life - to stabilise and form organic compounds deep under water.

The rocks at Isua are some of the oldest in the world - 3.8 billion years old.

The scientists analysed the rocks to work out whether they would be a favourable location for the birth of life. Read More

Osborne warns Britain may become 'second-tier European state' as Eurozone nations create their own president after hammering out trillion euro deal

Britain could become one of Europe's 'second-tier countries' following a decision by those signed up to the single currency to form a tight inner circle, George Osborne said this afternoon.

The Chancellor said he feared the development of a 'two-tier' Europe after the 17 countries who use the euro decided they would have their own president and twice-yearly summits.

Britain will not be invited to take part as it is not part of the single currency.

The dramatic move towards closer fiscal union was announced as eurozone leaders thrashed out a deal they hope will convince markets they have an effective response to the growing economic crisis.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Osborne said: 'We have to be alert to the danger of caucusing ... in areas that should legitimately be the preserve of the 27.'

It confirmed fears that the eurozone is taking on the trappings of a state within a state and that the 17 will starting coordinating decisions on business and social policies, to the detriment of Britain and the other non-euro countries.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said a two-tier EU was 'one of the big issue we have to address in due course'. Read More

Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant WILL NOT be having a retaining wall to stop Radioactive water seeping into Ground Water as TEPCO Scraps plans

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, has given up a plan to install a land-side retaining wall aimed at preventing radioactive water from permeating into the ground water, the utility has announced.

The utility, however, will construct an ocean-side retaining wall to prevent contaminated water from leaking into the sea, starting on Oct. 28.

TEPCO had initially planned to build a land-side retaining wall (an underground dam) as well, thereby surrounding all four sides of the reactor buildings and turbine buildings of the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors at the plant, in order to prevent highly radioactive water from coming into contact with the ground water. Read More

US media on Gaddafi: In praise of lynching



The mainstream US media has reacted to Muammar Gaddafi's brutal lynching with a tidal wave of cheers and approval, trumpeting the Colonel’s death as the start of a new era for Libya.

­US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the triumphant celebrations of Gaddafi’s death with her immortal line, “We came, we saw, he died!” - words which are sure to be remembered far beyond America’s shores.

Joy at the killing of the killing of the African leader spread like wildfire through the US media.

“It cost us a trillion dollars to get Saddam and a billion dollars to get Gaddafi,” remarked television host Bill Maher.

“And Libya says they’re going to pay back the billion that we spent, too. So it’s going to end up being sort of free for nothing,” cheered the host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

Senator Lindsey Graham gave it to us straight:

“Let’s get in on the ground, there is a lot of money to be made in the future in Libya, there is a lot of oil to be produced,” he said.

Not a single American soldier killed and great opportunities ahead – it seems like the perfect new warfare, and one that serves as a sharp lesson to others. more

China names its "price" for EU help

China, as the country with the world’s biggest financial reserves, has thrown its weight behind the EU’s efforts to contain its financial crisis, offering European countries its broad financial shoulder to lean on.

However, bargaining over the price of its support is already underway.

Beijing's biggest trading partner – the EU – would like to boost the value of the yuan. But the financial crisis in Europe means China is calling the shots, and has repeatedly told the EU to get its house in order.

Beijing’s top brass have made it crystal clear that China will not sit on the sidelines and watch Europe fall, says Professor Liu Baocheng, from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

China is waiting for the results of the latest EU summit which is expected to adopt further measures to curb the economic crisis in the form of additional austerity measures or new budget cuts.

In lending money to European capitals, “China wants to be sure that this money will be effective, will have purpose and will be returned,” affirms Professor Baocheng.

China is also considering helping the EU through other means than direct financial injections, explains the professor. It will offer aid “through collaboration, through more of a direct investment from Chinese businesses instead of simply loaning money to [European] government bond – that could be a better solution in the meantime,” he argues. more

Occupy Oakland: Tear gas & flashbang grenades



Police used tear gas on at least three separate occasions to disperse more than 1,000 demonstrators who took to the streets of Oakland, California Tuesday evening as running street battles engulfed the city for more than six hours.

­Thick billows of smoke and exploding projectiles filled the streets of downtown Oakland as television footage showed a man who was bleeding after reportedly being hit in the head by a tear gas canister, the Oakland Tribune reports.

"We had to deploy gas to stop people from throwing rocks and bottles at police," said Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan, as cited by the daily.

However, other unconfirmed reports indicate that flash-bang grenades and wooden dowels – solid, cylindrical rods – were used against protesters. more

Anti-TPP rallies around Japan

Agricultural and medical groups in Japan have held rallies to oppose the country's participation in the talks for a free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.

About 3,000 demonstrators from across the country gathered in Tokyo on Wednesday. The government plans to decide whether it will participate in the talks before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum early next month.

Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives chief Akira Banzai said no key information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, or TPP, has been disclosed, although the agreement may decide the country's future.

He added the government's haste and high-handed process is contrary to the people's will and is not acceptable in Japan's democratic system.
Participants said that if Japan takes part in the TPP the domestic farm industry would be disastrously affected by inexpensive imports. They noted this may jeopardize the stability of the country's food supply.

A doctors' lobby group also opposes the country's participation in the free trade agreement. more

Japanese cyber security in question after data stolen from government, defense contractor - 27th Oct 2011

The cyber security of Japan has fallen into serious doubt after revelations that viruses carried in targeted e-mails have stolen sensitive data from a Japanese defense contractor, the Foreign Ministry and overseas diplomatic missions. Infections were also recently discovered on the work computers of House of Representatives members and its servers.

As the virus-laden e-mails have all been targeted at core government institutions and the defense industry, law enforcement authorities are increasingly viewing the infections as a potential threat to national security and Japan's foreign relations.

In August this year, the National Police Agency (NPA) set up a cyber attack information system including some 4,000 companies dealing with sensitive high tech info. According to a study by the participating firms, between April and September there were 890 assaults on their systems -- essentially becoming a chronic, everyday problem. The attacks are particularly dangerous because off-the-shelf anti-virus programs cannot detect the exotic infections being used. Read More

Government expects more than 30 years to decommission Fukushima nuclear reactors - 27th Oct 2011

Japan is expected to take more than 30 years to fully decommission crippled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to a draft report compiled by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan obtained by the Mainichi on Oct. 26.

It is the first time for the government's body to officially state that it is expected to take "more than 30 years" to decommission the troubled No. 1 to 4 nuclear reactors. According to the draft report, the work to remove spent nuclear fuel from nuclear fuel pools would begin sometime after 2015, while the work to remove melted nuclear fuel from the reactors would start sometime after 2022. The draft report is expected to be endorsed at a study meeting on Oct. 28 of experts on medium- and long-term measures.

At the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, there are a total of 1,496 spent nuclear fuel rods in the No. 1 to 3 reactors, while there are 3,108 fuel rods in the spent nuclear fuel pools of the No. 1 to 4 reactors. In order to actually decommission the reactors, those fuel rods must be recovered, cooled down and stored under stable conditions for a long time. Read More

Thai floods may disrupt global electronics supply chain for several quarters

Global electronics firms expect supply disruption caused by flooding in Thailand to continue for several quarters and the Thai operations of Japan's Toshiba Corporation are expected to resume in January at the earliest, executives said.

Toshiba has had to halt operations at nine production plants at the Bangkadi Industrial Park and another plant at the Nava Nakorn estate, both in badly flooded Pathum Thani province to the north of Bangkok.

Bangkadi Industrial Park is the major production center in Southeast Asia for Toshiba Corporation. Its factories make home appliances, semiconductors and lighting products.

“We expect to resume operations in January at the earliest,” Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairwoman of Toshiba Thailand, told Reuters. “We're talking about 45 days after the water recedes. But whether we achieve that is still in question.” more

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 27th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of just 2 km ( 1.2 miles), the quake hit at 12:05:16 UTC Wednesday 26th October 2011.
The epicenter was 31 km ( 19.22 miles) Northeast of Van, Turkey

534 Dead - 2300 Injured and hundreds more Missing
over 200 Prisoners have escaped after setting fire to their cells as the guards refused to let them out.

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake AEGEAN SEA, GREECE - 27th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the Aegean Sea, Greece at a depth of 13.6 km ( 8.5 miles), the quake hit at 15:15:39 UTC Thursday 27th October 2011.
The epicenter was 93 km ( 58 miles) South of Kavalla, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Occupy Wall Street Launching First Nationwide General Strike In America Since 1946

Rumors have been flying for a week that the Occupy protesters will be launching a nationwide general strike. We have been biting our tongue waiting for a formal decision.

Mother Jones tweets:

From our reporter at #occupyoakland General Assembly just now MT @timmcdonnell: General strike passes with 1184 votes of approval

JackalAnon tweets:

STRIKE APPROVED FOR NEXT WEDNESDAY! GENERAL STRIKE FIRST TIME IN THE USA SINCE 1946!

(The last American general strike was also in Oakland).

The strike will occur on November 2nd.

Occupy Wall Street in New York has also been considering a proposal for a general strike. And there are also rumors of a global general strike next year. source

U.S. border agent jailed for "improper arrest" of suspected drug smuggler

A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been sentenced to two years in prison for improperly lifting the arms of a 15-year-old drug smuggling suspect while handcuffed — in what the Justice Department called a deprivation of the teenager’s constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force.

Agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr. was named in a November 2009 federal grand jury indictment with deprivation of rights under color of law during an October 2008 arrest near the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, in response to a report that illegal immigrants had crossed the river with bundles of drugs.

In a prosecution sought by the Mexican government and obtained after the suspected smuggler was given immunity to testify against the agent, Diaz was sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Alia Moses Ludlum in San Antonio. The Mexican consulate in Eagle Pass had filed a formal written complaint just hours after the arrest, alleging that the teenager had been beaten.

Defense attorneys argued that there were no injuries or bruises on the suspected smuggler’s lower arms where the handcuffs had been placed nor any bruising resulting from an alleged knee on his back. Photos showed the only marks on his body came from the straps of the pack he carried containing the suspected drugs, they said.

Border Patrol agents found more than 150 pounds of marijuana at the arrest site. more

Snowflakes Gathering Over the Northeast US for October Snow Storm

On Thursday, the season's first minor but appreciable snowfall is expected over parts of the Northeast.

When everything is said and done, the highest snow totals will likely be found over the higher elevations of upstate New York and the mountains of central New England.

A dominant area of low pressure is taking shape along a frontal boundary over the Northeast. This area of low pressure will quickly move out to sea by Thursday night.

As a result, a wet day with light to moderate rainfall is expected over much of the region on Thursday.

However, as colder air works its way into the picture behind the developing area of low pressure, rain will change to snow over portions of the interior as the day continues. Snow will fall into Thursday evening before tapering off in New England. more

Cops Hunt Man Who Firebombed Taco Bell Because His Chalupas Had Too Little Meat

Georgia police are hunting for the aggrieved Taco Bell customer who threw a Molotov cocktail at the restaurant’s drive-thru window after phoning in a complaint that there was not enough meat in the chalupas he had purchased.

The bizarre incident occurred around 5 AM Sunday at a Taco Bell on North Slappey Boulevard in Albany. The small blaze did not cause injuries or damage to the building.

According to a police report, Taco Bell manager Cynthia Thompson told cops that, shortly before the firebombing, a man called the restaurant to complain about a reported meat shortage in his “two XL Chalupas.” The caller told Thompson that “after getting home realized that there was not enough stuffing inside of his chalupas, and demanded his order be corrected.”

When Thompson explained that she “could not accommodate him because the business was closing,” the man replied, “You must be one of them niggers up there.” He added, “That’s alright, I’ll just come and redecorate the place.”

Thompson said that shortly after the call she and other Taco Bell employees “could smell gasoline but was unaware of where it was coming from. They then realized the fire outside of the drive thru window.” more

Gap between rich, poor is widest in Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia, has widest income gap between rich and poor of all the major U.S. cities, the U.S. Census reported on Wednesday.

New Orleans ranks second, followed by the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C.

Areas with the highest income inequality "tend to be found in cities, with older housing on average, while the most income-segregated areas ... tend to be found in the suburbs," the Census said.

Rounding out the list of 10 big cities with the largest gaps between high and low income are Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville, in Florida; Athens, Georgia; New York; Dallas, Texas; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The major cities with the lowest income inequality were almost all in the west, and all had much smaller populations.

West Jordan, Utah, had the smallest gap; it has a population of 101,727. Thornton, Colorado, and Norwalk, California, followed.

The U.S. recession that began in 2007 took a steep toll across the country, with only a few places spared from a rise in jobless rates and a decline in incomes. Nearly two years after the recession officially ended in 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate remains above 9 percent, and the poverty rate tops 15 percent.

Anger over the widening gap between rich and poor has stirred protesters who identify themselves as "The 99 Percent" who are occupying a park near New York's Wall Street and other locations across the country. They say they want to "end the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1 percent of America," according to the website www.occupytogether.org. more

Occupy Wall Street kitchen staff protesting fixing food for freeloaders

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday -- because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day. more

Occupy Oakland Regroups as Iraq Vets Remains Critical: More protests coming -- keep up the fight!

Hundreds of "Occupy Oakland" protesters remained peaceful Wednesday night at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

By Thursday morning, two tents were placed on the plaza grass with overnight campers inside. Police allowed them to stay.

Hundreds gathered on the plaza Wednesday night and forceably took down a fence that had been placed around the grassy area to keep people out. Police did not stop that effort.

By morning people had turned the fencing into a tower and called it art.

Also during Wednesday's marches, protesters called for a citywide strike next Wednesday, where workers and students would leave their positions to join a march in downtown Oakland. more

'Rogue websites' bill introduced in US House

US lawmakers introduced a bill on Wednesday that would give US authorities more tools to crack down on websites accused of piracy of movies, television shows and music and the sale of counterfeit goods.

The Stop Online Piracy Act has received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is the House version of a bill introduced in the Senate in May known as the Theft of Intellectual Property Act or Protect IP Act.

The legislation has received the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the Business Software Alliance, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups.

But it has come under fire from digital rights and free speech organizations for allegedly paving the way for US law enforcement to unilaterally shut down websites, including foreign sites, without due process.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, said the bill "helps stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.

"Rogue websites that steal and sell American innovations have operated with impunity," Smith said in a statement.

"The online thieves who run these foreign websites are out of the reach of US law enforcement agencies and profit from selling pirated goods without any legal consequences," he said.

"The bill prevents online thieves from selling counterfeit goods in the US, expands international protections for intellectual property, and protects American consumers from dangerous counterfeit products," Smith said.

Howard Berman, a Democrat from California who co-sponsored the legislation, said it is "an important next step in the fight against digital theft and sends a strong message that the United States will not waiver in our battle to protect America's creators and innovators."

The House Judiciary Committee is to hold a hearing on the bill on November 16.

The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said the House bill "raises serious red flags. more

Moammar Kadafi's family reportedly will sue NATO for war crimes

The family of deceased Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi reportedly plans to file a war-crimes complaint against NATO for the role they believe the international military alliance played in the former leader’s death, a lawyer for the family told Agence France-Presse news service.

Marcel Ceccaldi, a French lawyer who previously worked for Kadafi's regime and now represents his family, told AFP on Wednesday that the complaint would be filed with the International Criminal Court in the Hague because the family believes a NATO strike on Kadafi’s convoy led directly to his death.

Kadafi, who ruled Libya for more than four decades, was captured alive by revolutionary fighters on Thursday in his hometown of Surt, ending an eight-month war that cost more than 30,000 lives. The circumstances of his death remain unclear. more

Pakistan drone attack 'kills' top militants

A US drone strike in north-west Pakistan has killed two top commanders of one of Pakistan's most influential Taliban groups, officials say.

They say that among the four people killed is the brother of top Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir.

Maulvi Nazir's Taliban faction is based in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region where the drone attack on Thursday took place.

His forces are blamed for attacks on Nato troops in nearby Afghanistan.

The militants were killed when four missiles were fired at a pick-up truck they were driving in Azam Warsak, 20km (13 miles) west of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan.

Correspondents say that the strike is a sign that US intelligence has penetrated the close family circle of Maulvi Nazir. more

US confused by 'power struggle' in Iran: Huh? What power struggle? Libya the sequel?

US efforts to reach out to Iran have been hurt by confusion over who is running the country, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told BBC Persian.

"We're not quite sure who makes decisions anymore inside of Iran," she said.

Mrs Clinton said that she believes the country is morphing into a military dictatorship.

The door remains open, however, for talks with Tehran on its nuclear program.

She said the State Department was planning to open a "virtual embassy" by the end of 2011, to give Iranians online information about visas and student exchange programs.

The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Iran, broke formal ties with the country in 1980. more

Kenya-Somalia border attack: Al-Shabab suspected

Gunmen have ambushed a vehicle in Kenya near the border with Somalia, killing four people, reports say.

A school teacher and a government official were among the dead as the attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade, police said.

Kenya blames Somalia's militant Islamist group al-Shabab for a spate of abductions on its territory.

Al-Shabab denies the allegations and has vowed to take revenge against Kenya for sending troops into Somalia.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent Will Ross says heavily armed gunmen ambushed a four-wheel-drive vehicle in Mandera district in north-east Kenya.

Two security guards who were in the vehicle exchanged fire with the gang which then launched a rocket-propelled grenade, he says.

It completely destroyed the car and killed all four passengers - among them a secondary school headmaster and a local government official. more

Arthritis costs $33B a year, and is a growing plague

Arthritis has been called the invisible disease, but there's nothing imperceptible about its painful impact on patients' lives or the economic fallout for Canadian society.

A new report by the Arthritis Alliance of Canada says more than 4.6 million Canadians are affected by arthritis. And it calculates that the two major forms of the joint-destroying disease cost the Canadian economy a staggering $33 billion last year in health-care expenditures and lost productivity.

The report, entitled The Impact of Arthritis in Canada: Today and Over the Next 30 Years, predicts that figure could rise exponentially in the coming decades as a higher percentage of Canada's aging population is afflicted by the disease.

"I think people will be surprised by this, yes," Dr. Dianne Mosher said of the $33-billion price tag. "But if you look at the sheer number of people who have osteoarthritis — there's 4.4 million Canadians with osteoarthritis and in the next 30 years there will be 10 million — it's a significant portion of the population."

Mosher, a Calgary rheumatologist who co-authored the report, said the pain of both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to a loss of mobility and an inability to perform everyday tasks most people take for granted.

"Certainly some of it is because the joints are affected that they would have difficulties walking, they'd have difficulties standing," she said, adding that chronic pain can disturb sleep and lead to fatigue and depression. more

Occupy Oakland seeks strike after Scott Olsen injury

Activists taking part in the the Occupy Oakland protests have called for a general strike in the city next week.

The call to strike on 2 November emerged as protesters gathered late on Wednesday, one day after clashes with police left an Iraq veteran badly hurt.

On Tuesday evening police used tear gas and baton rounds to force protesters to leave their camp. Many have now called for the mayor of Oakland to resign.

Occupy Wall Street protests are now in their sixth week.

On Wednesday night up to 1,000 people filled the plaza outside Oakland's City Hall to continue the protest, groups of people marched down the streets, reports said.

There were no clashes with police on Wednesday night, and the numbers on the streets were smaller than the previous night. more

Shell and Exxon see profits up sharply on oil prices

Higher gas and oil prices have pushed up profits at ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell during the three months to the end of September.

Current cost of supply net income at Shell doubled to $7.2bn (£4.5bn), compared with $3.5bn during the same period a year ago.

At Exxon, meanwhile, profits increased by 41% to $10.3bn.

The cost of Brent crude was 48% higher in the quarter compared with the same period last year.

Higher oil prices also increased the price of gas in Europe and Asia. Shell produces almost as much gas as oil.

"Our profits pay for Shell's substantial investments in new energy projects, to ensure low-cost, reliable energy supplies for our customers and to create value for our shareholders," said Shell chief executive Peter Voser.

"Our third quarter results were higher than year-ago levels, driven by higher oil prices and Shell's performance," he added.

In the UK, the company recently announced it was investing in the deep-water Clair oil field west of the Shetland Islands, in a scheme operated by rival BP.

The company also completed the sale of the Stanlow refinery for a total of $1.2bn. more

China's internet users targeted in online rumour probes

China is intensifying restrictions on internet use after official reports revealed that three people have been "punished for spreading false rumours" online.

Authorities say they are carrying out inquiries into other suspected cases.

The news comes just over a week after Communist Party leaders agreed a list of "cultural development guidelines".

They include increased controls over social media and penalties for those spreading "harmful information".

The Xinhua news agency quotes regulators as saying that efforts will be stepped up "to stop rumours and punish individuals and websites spreading rumours".

It says a university student was detained after being accused of posting a fake news story about a man killing eight village chiefs in the south-western province of Yunnan.

It goes on to report that a website editor was issued with a warning after publishing a story about an air force fighter crash without confirming the facts.** more

(**Facts = CCP Dictations)

Footage of extinct woodpecker posted online



A snippet of film shot by an amateur ornithologist in 1956 is providing researchers and bird enthusiasts with a rare opportunity to observe the behaviour of the imperial woodpecker, a giant resident of Mexico's Sierra Madre now presumed extinct.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology released the colour film to the public on its website Wednesday. The 85-second film shows the bird foraging for insects on several giant pines and flying from tree to tree. It is the only known photographic record of the 60 centimetre-tall bird in the wild.

"It's the last confirmed sighting of an extinct species. It's a point in geography and time where you can document the species existed," said Joel Cracraft, curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

The film was shot by the late William Rhein, a Pennsylvania dentist who made three expeditions to find the bird in Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental before he finally captured one on film. Cornell woodpecker specialist Martjan Lammertink learned of the film through an old letter in Cornell's archives.

"It is stunning to look back through time with this film and see the magnificent imperial woodpecker moving through its old-growth forest environment. And it is heartbreaking to know that both the bird and the forest are gone," said Lammertink, lead author of a paper about the film published in this month's edition of The Auk, the journal of the American Ornithologist's Union. more

Occupy Wall Street protesters support injured war vet savagely attacked by police

More Occupy Wall Street protests were scheduled in New York on Thursday, a day after demonstrators marched to support an Iraq war veteran who was hurt in California.

Hundreds packed the streets near Manhattan's Union Square on Wednesday in a march in support of veteran Scott Olsen. At least 10 people were arrested in clashes with officers, a New York police spokesman said.

Olsen suffered a skull fracture Tuesday night after allegedly being shot in the head with a police projectile in Oakland, California, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The former Marine has become another rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street protests spreading throughout the country. more

Saudi oil production cut looms

Saudi Arabia, one of the world's largest oil producers, may soon cut oil production.

The move, which some analysts believe may have already begun, comes in response to additional supplies coming online from elsewhere.

The country, which had ramped up production earlier this year in response to the Libyan crisis, has been eyeing the resumption of Libyan oil exports as well as gradually rising oil exports from Iraq.

Those rising exports, as well as the sluggish global economy, have caused crude prices to fall over the last few months, and Saudi Arabia's own budgetary constraints at home require the kingdom to support the price of crude at close to $100 a barrel.

Brent crude -- which the price of most oil is now pegged to as a result of an oversupply in the U.S. benchmark WTI -- has been trading in the $105 to $110 range for the last month. That's down from over $125 a barrel in April.

U.S. drivers have gotten a bit of a reprieve as a result. Gas prices have fallen from around $4 a gallon this spring to under $3.50 currently.

But for the Saudis, who promised $130 billion in housing subsidies and other social spending this past spring to help ward off Arab Spring protests at home, this is a dangerous trend. more

Four dismembered bodies found in Mexican city of Juarez

Mexican officials found four dismembered bodies scattered in two neighborhoods in Ciudad Juarez on Tuesday, with a message by a "new" drug cartel at one of the scenes.

In the first scene, an ice cooler with two heads was left on street next to a sign by a group calling itself the "new cartel de Juarez," according to Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutor.

The sign issues a warning for those against the new group.

A few hours later, two other mutilated bodies were found in another neighborhood with a sign threatening the culprits of the first attack, according to the municipal police.

The new Juarez cartel is most likely a fusion between the Sinaloa cartel and its rival the Juarez cartel, local journalists said.

Juarez , just across the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso, Texas, is one of Mexico's deadliest cities and an epicenter of drug cartel violence. The Juarez cartel and the Sinaloa cartel are fighting a bloody turf war in the region for lucrative smuggling routes, and for drug-dealing territory in the city.

Authorities found a graffiti message signed by the new drug cartel two months ago in Chihuahua city, but have disclosed little information about the group.

"We know in principle ... of an alleged group, but we have no hard information in relation to it. We are working. We are investigating," Cesar Augusto Peniche, a spokesman for the federal Attorney General's office, told reporters this month. more

PETA lawsuit alleges SeaWorld enslaves killer whales (Agreed.)

Can killer whales sue SeaWorld for enslavement?

A lawsuit filed Wednesday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other "next friends" of five SeaWorld killer whales takes that novel legal approach.

The 20-page complaint asks the U.S. District Court in Southern California to declare that the five whales -- Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises -- are being held in slavery or involuntary servitude in violation of the 13th Amendment.

A PETA statement said the lawsuit is the first of its kind in contending that constitutional protections against slavery are not limited to humans. more

Does debt deal solve euro woes?



European leaders have thrashed out a deal they hope will resolve the problems that threaten the stability of world markets and the very existence of the euro currency.

Marathon negotiations at EU headquarters in Brussels resulted in a deal that will slash Greek debt, recapitalize European banks and more than double the EU bailout fund's resources to handle future sovereign defaults.

While questions still remain over whether Greece will be able to meet their debt obligations, the fact that leaders were able to finally put concrete numbers to what had previously been little more than vague promises bolstered financial markets.

"It's great news that we've got an agreement," said Deutsche Bank economist Gilles Moec. "When Europe puts its heads together, they do actually begin to cooperate." more

GMO salmon egg sales plan alarms environmentalists: Producer hopes to sell eggs to approved fish farmers

Environmentalists are alarmed that a U.S.-based company with a plant in P.E.I. plans to sell its genetically modified salmon eggs to any approved fish farmer if the company gets U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

Ron Stotish, CEO of AquaBounty Technologies, said the company has always planned to sell its genetically modified eggs to fish farmers willing to grow them in land-based facilities.

The AquaBounty experimental fish plant in Bay Fortune produces the genetically modified Atlantic salmon eggs. Implanted genes make the fish grow at twice the natural rate. AquaBounty has asked the FDA to approve the fish for commercial sale as food.

If the company is successful, the salmon would be the first genetically modified food animal on the market. more

Rick Mercer's passionate rant on bullying and teen suicide

From Tahir Square to Wall Street: Humanity's uprising continues

3.9 Magnitude Earthquake SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA - 27th Oct 2011

A magnitude 3.9 earthquake has struck San Francisco Bay, California at a depth of 9.7 km ( 6 miles), the quake hit at 12:36:44 UTC Thursday 27th October 2011.
The epicenter was 2 km (1.2 miles) East of Berkeley, California
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's son seeks aircraft to surrender - National Transitional Council source - 27th Oct 2011

Muammar Gaddafi's fugitive son Saif al-Islam wants an aircraft to take him out of Libya's southern desert so he can turn himself in to The Hague war crimes court, a source with Libya's National Transitional Council said on Thursday.

A fearful Saif al-Islam, 39, went on the run at about the time his father met a grisly death a week ago, apparently at the hands of vengeful Libyan fighters. He has indicated he is ready to surrender to justice, as has ex-intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, NTC officials have said.

Both men are the subject of arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court, where officials have not been able to confirm any approach. They face charges of crimes against humanity for their response to February's uprising.

Conflicting reports of Saif al-Islam's whereabouts have circulated since he vanished from the Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid in the north of the country, with some accounts putting him, and Senussi, in Niger.

Confirmation from Gaddafi's surviving entourage has not been available. One international lawyer who says he represents a member of the family questioned the reliability of NTC accounts but declined comment on the report of a proposed surrender. Read More

Occupy Wall Street protesters support injured war vet - 27th Oct 2011

More Occupy Wall Street protests were scheduled in New York on Thursday, a day after demonstrators marched to support an Iraq war veteran who was hurt in California.

Hundreds packed the streets near Manhattan's Union Square on Wednesday in a march in support of veteran Scott Olsen. At least 10 people were arrested in clashes with officers, a New York police spokesman said.

Olsen suffered a skull fracture Tuesday night after allegedly being shot in the head with a police projectile in Oakland, California, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The former Marine has become another rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street protests spreading throughout the country.

Demonstrators have typically railed against what they describe as corporate greed, arrogance and power, as well as repeatedly stated their assertion that the nation's wealthiest 1% hold inordinate sway over the remaining 99% of the population.

The movement seems to be growing despite a recent crackdown in several cities. Read More

Robert Black Found Guilty of Killing a Fourth Child - 27th Oct 2011

A 64-year-old van driver, already convicted of killing three schoolgirls, has been found guilty of a fourth child murder.

Robert Black now ranks among Britain's most prolific serial killers.

Scotland-born Black had denied murdering Jennifer Cardy in August 1981.

The 9-year-old disappeared after leaving her home at Balinderry in County Antrim to cycle the short distance to a friend's house.

The discovery of her red bicycle sparked a six day search.

Two young fishermen found her body floating in McKee's Dam near Hillsborough, off the main Belfast to Dublin road, 15 miles from her home.

A retired policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity, recalled the tragic events: "It was the height of 'The Troubles' here but the case of Jennifer Cardy left a lasting impression."

The prosecution presented a fuel receipt, a bonus paid to drivers and billboard poster deliveries as evidence that Black, a London-based driver, had been in Northern Ireland at the time.

Jurors heard audio recordings of police interviews, during which he admitted touring swimming pools and beaches to spy on children. They were also given chilling details of his previous convictions.

Susan Maxwell (11) was abducted from Cornhill on Tweed in Scotland in July 1982; Caroline Hogg (5) from Portabello in Edinburgh in July 1983; and Susan Harper (10) from Morley in Leeds in March 1986. Read More

Chile begins evacuations as the Hudson volcano Stirs - ALERT STATUS RED - 27th Oct 2011

Chile said on Wednesday that it was evacuating residents from around a volcano in the country's far south after it spewed a jet of steam a kilometre into the air and seismic activity triggered an avalanche.

However, the government said the Hudson volcano, which lies around 1 600km south of the Chilean capital Santiago, comes in the wake of a string of eruptions at other volcanoes in Chile.

The Hudson volcano last erupted in 1991, melting part of the glacier that sits on the crater and triggering mud flows.

“We can't rule out that this volcanic activity could increase in the coming hours and produce an eruption,” said Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter.

He said state emergency office ONEMI was on red alert and the government was evacuating around 100 residents from the sparsely populated area as a precaution.

In June, a volcano in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 920km south of Santiago, erupted. It had been dormant for decades.

It belched an ash cloud kilometres high that blew over the Andes, carpeted a popular ski resort in neighbouring Argentina and caused havoc for air traffic for months, hurting airline profits. The ash grounded planes as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

That eruption in turn came after Chile's Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere. The ash swelled a nearby river and ravaged a nearby town of the same name.

Chile's chain of about 2 000 volcanoes is the world's second largest after that of Indonesia. Between 50 and 60 are on record as having erupted, and 500 are potentially active. Source

Turkey Quake: Teen Found Alive After 4 Days - 27th Oct 2011

Image; A school teacher is rescued after nearly three days trapped under rubble.

A 19-year-old has been pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building four days after an earthquake struck eastern Turkey.

The teenager, a student called Mohammed, was found by rescuers searching for survivors in the town of Ecris.

Gozde Bahar spent 67 hours under a collapsed building before she was freed by emergency workers.

Doctors managed to revive the English language teacher after her heart stopped en route to hospital in the town of Ercis.

Just five hours earlier, 18-year-old student Michael Erdem was found with only minor injuries.

The Disaster and Emergency Administration said 185 people had now been rescued alive.

At least 523 people have died and 1,650 Injured. Read More

Port of Brisbane, Australia: Second leaking container found - 27th Oct 2011

Authorities have found a second leaking container on a ship docked at the Port of Brisbane, prompting a chemical spill scare this morning.

Crew from aboard the ship were evacuated this morning when a container was found to be leaking zinc dithiophosphate.

After fire crews safely removed the leaking container from the ship, firefighters discovered a second container, which contained organic phosphate packages, was releasing fumes.

The second container was resealed after the spill was found inside.

The Department of Community Safety said no chemicals were leaked into waterways during either incident and no injuries have been reported.

According to the department the consignee, a Lytton business, will manage the spill clean-up. Read More

HazMat Scare in Indio Due to Noxious Fumes, California - 26th Oct 2011

A half dozen people were treated for inhaling "noxious fumes" in Indio Wednesday, which turned out to be bug spray.

Jody Hagemann of the Riverside County Fire Department says around 5 p.m., six people reported they "were overcome by noxious fumes in the area of their home."

Nineteen firefighters were sent to the house on Lahinch Court, near Avenue 42 and Golf Center Parkway to treat the people. The cause of the fumes was determined to be insect spray, and no one was hospitalized, according to Hagemann.

Indio Police Spokesman Ben Guitron tells KPSP Local 2 that police did receive some calls for the incident, but did not respond when the cause of the fumes was pin-pointed. Source

Tornado hits 2 Negros, Philippines destroying 67 Houses with a further 167 Damaged - 26th Oct 2011

A tornado hit two central Negros towns Tuesday afternoon, destroying houses and toppling power lines and trees, although there was no casualty or injury, according to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office.

As of 5 p.m., 67 houses were destroyed while 167 were damaged.

PSWDO chief Liane Garcia said the number of damaged houses may increase as they are still consolidating their report.

The whirlwind hit barangays San Isidro, M.H. del Pilar, Miranda, Canroma and Buenavista in Pontevedra, as well as Gargato, Anahao and Cambaog in Hinigaran.

Pontevedra Mayor Jose Benito Alonzo said the tornado flattened five houses in Pontevedra, toppled trees and power lines, and plunged the town into darkness Tuesday night.

The 97 affected families who were housed in different day care centers, schools and barangay halls, received assistance from the provincial and local governments, as well as Philippine National Red Cross. Read More