Friday, October 28, 2011

Syrian protesters call for no-fly zone: Sound familiar? It should.



Braving gunfire and security checkpoints, Syrian protesters marched Friday against the government and in support of opposition calls for an internationally enforced no-fly zone, opposition groups said.

In a massive demonstration in Hama, Syrians demanded an end to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as well as his prosecution, according to the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group that organizes and documents protests in Syria.

Security forces responded harshly, opposition groups said, putting neighborhoods and mosques in the Salhyeh neighborhood of Damascus under siege, conducting security sweeps and firing on crowds elsewhere in the country.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces fatally shot 35 civilians during protests across Syria. At least 100 others were wounded and 500 arrested in several provinces, the opposition group said. more

U.S. and South Korea see more North Korean provocations looming

South Korea's defense minister said Friday he expects more provocations from North Korea in 2012, during a session with his American counterpart.

"Next year, I believe that the possibility of North Korea conducting additional provocations is ... very high," Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told reporters at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The regime is planning a nationwide, year-long celebration in 2012 to show North Korea is "strong and prosperous" and also to honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Song, the founder of the communist nation. The current regime is run by his son Kim Jong Il.

That event, along with the ongoing transition from Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong Un, is why the South Korean defense minister is worried about more problems from the North in the new year.

A senior U.S. defense official said Panetta is "concerned that threats from North Korea will be elevated next year."

Friday's news conference was the final event of Panetta's week-long tour of Asia that also took him to Indonesia and Japan.

While he promised the U.S. military will remain committed to all three countries and the Asian region in general, in South Korea he spelled out specific steps of how the United States would prove its commitment. more

Somalia: Vaccination campaign suspended due to fighting; disease running rampant

After heavy fighting erupted on 20th October in Dayniile, on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was forced to suspend its measles vaccination campaign in the area.

The campaign had been scheduled to last three weeks and to reach 35,000 children. Measles is currently wreaking havoc in Somalia. Sixty thousand have been already vaccinated against measles over the last two months.

"Combined with malnutrition, measles is now the main killer of children in Somalia,” says Duncan McLean, head of MSF programmes in Somalia. “Only vaccination can stop the spread of the epidemic.”

During the first five days of the campaign, 4,831 children aged six months to 15 years were vaccinated in different parts of Dayniile. But clashes between the forces of the Transitional Federal Government, supported by AMISOM (the African Union Mission in Somalia), and Al Shabaab, put a stop to the vaccinations.

"As long as the security situation is not stabilised, it will not be possible to resume the vaccination campaign,” observes McLean.

“And when this happens, we will have to completely rethink our strategy because many people have fled the combat zones. Tens of thousands of displaced people were living in camps in Dayniile, many for a long time and some who had arrived recently from drought-affected regions.”

In addition, many people were wounded during the clashes. On 20th ctober and the day after, MSF teams at Dayniile Hospital received 83 patients who had been injured by gunshots or explosions. Forty one were hospitalised and eleven surgical procedures were performed. more

Geologists closely monitoring surge in central Arkansas quakes: Layout of quakes might suggest larger tremor coming

The Arkansas Geological Survey says it is stepping up its monitoring of seismic activity in central Arkansas after dozens of small earthquakes in the region.

Six minor quakes were recorded Friday near Quitman, the latest of more than 50 temblors in October. The Friday tremors began with a 2.0-magnitude quake around 7:45 a.m. and peaked with a 2.5 quake later in the morning.

The shaking follows more than 1,000 earthquakes centered between Guy and Greenbrier from September 2010 to July of this year, when the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission ordered four gas disposal wells shut down and voted to create a large moratorium area in which no future disposal wells could be drilled.

Geologists said the activity - which involves injecting pressurized liquid into the ground - was likely contributing to the shaking.

The quakes between Guy and Greenbrier tailed off significantly in August, but more quakes began occurring in October closer to Quitman. It sits about 10 miles northeast of Guy.

That distance is potentially concerning, warned Scott Ausbrooks, geohazards supervisor for the Arkansas Geological Survey. The Quitman quakes are occurring along the same line as the Guy-Greenbrier ones, but there's a miles-long gap between Guy and Quitman in which no quakes have been recorded.

That might suggest that the tension is building, possibly leading up to a larger quake centered on that gap along the fault. A similar-sized gap occurred on the southern end of the Guy-Greenbrier fault and it in February unleashed a 4.7-magnitude quake, the largest of any of the recent tremors.

Anytime there is a gap in seismicity along an active fault, it "bears watching," Ausbrooks said. more

7.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL PERU - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake has struck near the Coast of Central Peru at a depth of 15 km ( 9.3 miles), the quake hit at 18:54:32 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 52 km ( 32 miles) South from Ica, Peru
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

More to Follow...

NOTE UPDATE: When the earthquake hit, the data from several stations pointed towards this earthquake being lower, since then much more data has come though and many of the stations measure this earthquake between a 7.0 - 7.6 Magnitude Earthquake.

Station data can be viewed here >>>>>>

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

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 101.5 km ( 63.1 miles), the quake hit at 18:19:50 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 32 km ( 20 miles) NNE Akutan, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time.

The Greeks are revolting again: German flag burned on the streets as they react angrily to historic Eurozone deal

First came the cartoons of Chancellor Merkel dressed up in a Nazi uniform.

Now angry Greeks are venting their fury over austerity measures being introduced as a result of their country's debt crisis by burning the German flag.

Thousands of anti-austerity protesters flocked into Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city forcing the cancellation of an annual military parade commemorating the nation's entry into the Second World War.

The demonstrators heckled President Karolos Papoulias and other attending officials, calling him a traitor, and some anarchists spat at retired military officers. Read More

Vincent Tabak Guilty Of Yeates Murder and is Jailed for a Minimum of 20 Years - 28th Oct 2011

Vincent Tabak has been found guilty of the murder of Joanna Yeates and jailed for at least 20 years.

A jury of six men and six women at Bristol Crown Court returned a majority verdict after two days of deliberation.

Miss Yeates' parents were not in court but her boyfriend Greg Reardon was in the front row of the public gallery.

As the verdict was read out, Tabak looked down at his feet but showed no emotion. He then sat down and put his head in his hands.

Mr Justice Field immediately proceeded to sentencing and jailed the Dutch engineer for life, with a minimum term of 20 years.

It can now be revealed that police believe the 33-year-old throttled Miss Yeates, 25, after watching violent videos of women being strangled during sex. Read More

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

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 104 km ( 64.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:19:49 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 21 km ( 13 miles) East of Akutan, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Mars Feels Sun's Wrath - 27th Oct 2011

The sun battered the Earth's magnetosphere with an "epic" geomagnetic storm over the last couple of days, generating beautiful auroral displays at low latitudes. Now it's Mars' turn.

On Saturday (Oct. 22), a large bubble of solar plasma was blasted from the Sun's surface. Unlike the coronal mass ejection (CME) that struck us on Monday, Saturday's CME was sent in a different direction -- toward the Red Planet.

As per simulations carried out by NASA's Goddard Space Weather Laboratory, the CME should have arrived in Mars orbit by now (Oct. 26). However, its impact on Mars will be very different than a CME's impact on Earth.

For starters, Mars doesn't have a protective global magnetic field -- instead it has a "patchy" magnetic field distributed all over the planet. One of the many problems future Mars explorers will face is the increased radiation environment on the Martian surface -- the lack of a protective magnetic "shield" and a thin atmosphere means CME impacts and solar flare events are a health risk. Read More

Radioactive equipment lost in Abu Dhabi, says regulator - 28th Oct 2011

A radioactive piece of industrial equipment has been lost in Abu Dhabi and could cause injuries, the UAE's nuclear regulator has said.

The warning was issued after a company based in Abu Dhabi's Mussafah industrial area notified the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) of the loss, a statement published by state news agency WAM said.

"The Iridium source (Ir-192) ... has been unaccounted for since the late hours of Tuesday 25 October," the company said, giving no further details about how it was lost.

FANR said police are searching for the lost radioactive equipment. Source

Monticello nuclear plant automatically shuts down, Minnesota - 26th Oct 2011

Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant automatically shut down safely this afternoon when a transformer locked out, briefly interrupting non-safety-related power from the grid to part of the site. Operators were still investigating what caused the transformer lockout.

All plant safety systems functioned as designed, and the situation posed no danger to the public or plant workers. The shutdown was not expected to be lengthy.

The 600-megawatt plant, which is about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis, generates enough electricity to power nearly 500,000 homes.

Earlier today, operators restored Unit 2 at Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant near Red Wing to full power after replacing seals on two reactor coolant pumps during an outage that started Oct. 4. The two-unit Prairie Island plant generates enough electricity to power about 1 million homes. Source

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 50 km ( 31 miles), the quake hit at 17:11:25 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 299 km ( 186 miles) Southeast of Attu Station, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Exotic pets: Why do Americans keep dangerous animals?

There are more tigers in captivity in the US than in the wild in the whole of Asia, according to some estimates. But the trade in exotic pets has dangerous consequences for man and beast alike, writes Louis Theroux.

I was in the back garden of an elegant home in rural Missouri with a ticklish question hanging in the air. Should we let the big chimpanzee out of his cage?

For several weeks I'd been on a kind of suburban safari, on the trail of America's large and growing population of exotic wild animals that are kept as pets.

In Indiana, I'd had a close encounter with a baboon called Tatiana. I'd also spent several days getting to know a few of the more than 150 tigers at an "Exotic Animal Sanctuary" in Oklahoma, though mostly through the bars.

But this chimpanzee, called Cooper, was a step up on the exotic animal danger-scale. He belonged to a couple called Jill and Brad James.

The owners of a funeral home, they'd raised two daughters when they decided to take on Cooper. Later, to give Cooper some company, they added a second, younger chimp called Tucancary into the mix.

Even in the world of exotic animals, chimps are considered somewhat controversial. more

Population control: the rich controlling the poor?

As the world population reaches seven billion people, the BBC's Mike Gallagher asks whether efforts to control population have been, as some critics claim, a form of authoritarian control over the world's poorest citizens.

The temperature is some 30C. The humidity stifling, the noise unbearable. In a yard between two enormous tea-drying sheds, a number of dark-skinned women patiently sit, each accompanied by an unwieldy looking cloth sack. They are clad in colourful saris, but look tired and shabby. This is hardly surprising - they have spent most of the day in nearby plantation fields, picking tea that will net them around two cents a kilo - barely enough to feed their large families.

Vivek Baid thinks he knows how to help them. He runs the Mission for Population Control, a project in eastern India which aims to bring down high birth rates by encouraging local women to get sterilised after their second child.

As the world reaches an estimated seven billion people, people like Vivek say efforts to bring down the world's population must continue if life on Earth is to be sustainable, and if poverty and even mass starvation are to be avoided.

There is no doubting their good intentions. Vivek, for instance, has spent his own money on the project, and is passionate about creating a brighter future for India.

But critics allege that campaigners like Vivek - a successful and wealthy male businessman - have tended to live very different lives from those they seek to help, who are mainly poor women.

These critics argue that rich people have imposed population control on the poor for decades. And, they say, such coercive attempts to control the world's population often backfired and were sometimes harmful. more

Psychologists: 9/11 official story a lie, denial and ramifications of that are hard to accept and hampering the truth movement

Occupy Oakland: Flashbangs USED on protesters at point blank -- Severe police brutality erupting all over US

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 48 km ( 29.8 miles), the quake hit at 16:55:54 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 96 km ( 59 miles) South of Kiska Volcano, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck New Guinea, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 10 km ( 6.2 miles), the quake hit at 16:50:34 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 107 km ( 66 miles) SSW of Mount Hagen, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 5 km ( 3.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:34:11 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 43 km ( 26 miles) Northeast of Van, Turkey

575 Dead - 2608 Injured and hundreds more Missing
over 200 Prisoners have escaped after setting fire to their cells as the guards refused to let them out.

** Over 550 aftershocks since the Initial earthquake

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake LAKE BAYKAL REGION, RUSSIA - 28th Oct 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the Lake Baykal Region, Russia at a depth of 15 km ( 9.3 miles), the quake hit at 15:33:21 UTC Friday 28th October 2011.
The epicenter was 24 km ( 14.8 miles) South of Khuzhir, Russia
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Cantaloupe listeria outbreak continues to rise - 27th Oct 2011

A further five people have died from the cantaloupe listeria outbreak in the US, bringing the total dead to 28.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday (26 October) provided an update on the outbreak, which originates from cantaloupes sold under Jensen Farms' Rocky Ford.

The US government agency also reported that 133 people had been infected with the four strains of listeria monocytogenes, up from 116 in the last update on 11 October.

One pregnant woman had a miscarriage after becoming ill, the CDC added.

The affected cantaloupes should no longer be on sale but more illnesses could emerge as up to two months can elapse between eating contaminated food and developing listeriosis. Source

E. coli Outbreaks Sicken 23 in Missouri, 21 in North Carolina - 28th Oct 2011

Health officials are struggling to find the cause of an E. coli food poisoning outbreak that has sickened at least 23 people in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not yet released an identity on the possible cause of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has rapidly spread through the area, but say they are fairly certain that it is food-related. Out of the 23 illnesses reported so far, at least six people have been hospitalized.

One local Schnucks grocery story in Richmond Heights has voluntarily pulled some of its fresh produce and restocked its salad bar, but store officials say that it was done as a precautionary measure and say they have received no indication that food from the store is linked to the illnesses.

Hospitals in the St. Louis, Missouri, metropolitan area began reporting a high number of E. coli illnesses earlier this week and local officials became concerned. In 2010 there was a total of 10 E. coli food poisoning infections reported in the area. Reports this week alone are more than twice that number.

Another 21 possible E. coli food poisoning illnesses are being investigated in North Carolina. That outbreak has left at least four children hospitalized. Of the nine cases that have been confirmed, eight of the victims had attended the state fair. That outbreak is not believed to have any link to the St. Louis area illnesses. Read More

Deluge sweeps Thais out of Bangkok



People are fleeing from Bangkok, following fears that the entire city could be flooded by the worst deluge Thailand has seen in 50 years. In less than a week, the death toll has topped 360, with hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes.

The entire capital with its population of some nine million people could flood in coming days, the authorities warned on Thursday. More than a thousand displaced people taking refuge at Bangkok's second airport had to move out as water inched closer to the terminal.

Residents poured out of the Thai capital by bus, plane and train, after the government announced a special five-day holiday to evacuate parts of the flood-threatened metropolis before a weekend deluge rushes through the city.

Fifty thousand troops with special equipment were involved in the evacuation, after waist-high water turned roads into rivers and swamped homes. Panic has gripped parts of the city, with many supermarket shelves already empty, and stores posting notices that flooding is disrupting supply chains and leaving them unable to restock certain items.

Locals in affected areas who didn’t manage to catch a military truck got out in any way they could: using paddle boats, plastic tubs, inner tubes and rubber rafts. The floods have caused billions of dollars in damage. source

NCEG’s Illegal Appointments: An Ongoing Investigation

In Pakistan it is very common for government departments and also private offices to employ people against rules and regulations. When a candidate has recommendation from a person in a high position, he uses influence to provide job to his relatives, friends, or even a favorite student. The following incident is an example of corruption by illegal appointment in government. This story is supported by documented proof straight from the concerned university’s administrative department.

In 2005, the National Center of Excellence in Geology (NCEG) advertised 12 vacancies for the post of research associate. Of these 8 of were in the field of geology, 2 in environmental science, one in geophysics and one in GIS/Remote Sensing. A total 12 positions were advertized and after test, shortlisted candidates were called for interview. But then an unusual thing happened even though not unusual in Pakistani universities, when the geophysics candidates were interviewed. One influential member of the committee chose one candidate while another group, also part of the committee, selected another one. There was only seat available as per advertisement. But both sides in the committee became determined that their favorite candidate must be given the job. To keep everyone happy, they employed both candidates i.e. Asher Samuel Bhatti (http://nceg.upesh.edu.pk/asher.html) and Khaista Rehman (http://nceg.upesh.edu.pk/khaista.html). Instead of 12 new employees, 13 new appointments were made only because the influence of the committee members could not be denied. This was a big fraud and a very open fraud. By rules, you cannot employ two or more people on a single seat. The lawful process is to advertise the posts again, or advertise the new post separately, for which test and interview must be conducted again. But that was not done. These two persons were employed on a single seat, violating all rules and regulations.

For six years, both Bhatti and Rehman remained employees of NCEG. During this term Rehman was sent abroad for PhD in geophysics while Bhatti held the office at NCEG in Peshawar. Then Bhatti recently got a job as a faculty member at another university in a city near Peshawar in the same province and he resigned from his job at NCEG. Mr. Rehman has returned to occupy his office. But no accountability of the fraud has been made because in a system which is corrupt from the top, no one cares to what happens and at what cost.

Proofs of other illegal appointments in NCEG and other departments are being sought and will be reported as they become available.

Ron Paul Does Not Rule Out A Third-Party Run: Could this be what America needs?

Ron Paul would not pledge to rule out a third-party run for president if he did not get the Republican nod. Paul said he is running for the Republican nomination and to make such an announcement now would undermine his current campaign.

Paul was discussing his candidacy with the panel on FOX News' "Special Report."

However, Ron Paul hinted several times during the interview that the thought is in his mind. Paul noted that there are more registered Independents than Republicans or Democrats in the state of New Hampshire.

When asked if he would pledge not to run as a third candidate Paul dodged giving a direct answer. "I pledge that I have no intention of doing it," Paul said cheerfully.

"Well, you know, I have to vacillate a little bit in my life," Paul said when pressed more about his opinion. more

French far-right Christians besiege Jesus excrement play

Paris police have arrested around 20 Christian fundamentalists who burst into a theatre and threw stink bombs to protest against a play featuring the face of Christ drizzled with fake excrement.

Police made the arrests at the Theatre de la Ville, on the banks of the Seine near Notre Dame cathedral, during a performance of "On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God", directed by Italian Romeo Castellucci.

The play, which runs until October 30, is the story of an incontinent man being looked after by his son.

A copy of a huge portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina hangs at the back of the stage and appears to be covered in excrement towards the end of the performance.

After days of trying to get in, the protesters on Wednesday "entered the theatre and threw stink bombs into the auditorium, shouting: 'Enough Christianophobia!'" a police source told AFP.

France's ministry of culture blamed the demonstration on members of the Institut Civitas, which in April protested US artist Andres Serrano's renowned "Immersion Piss Christ" photograph in the southern papal city of Avignon.

Civitas head Alain Escada said: "Our mission is to spread the word about this performance and to organise a response."

A spectator described the protesters as "very young people who are very angry but very well dressed." Faced with a police cordon, they throw eggs and oil at the theatre and those going in, chanting in Latin or praying on their knees.

The association of French Roman Catholic bishops on Tuesday condemned "the violence perpetrated during recent performances... France's Roman Catholic Church is neither fundamentalist nor obscurantist (opposed to enlightenment)." more

Adrienne Moton, Sherry West plead guilty to murder: Worked at abortion clinic and killed live, viable babies

Two employees of a Philadelphia abortion clinic where live, viable babies were allegedly killed and a patient died after being given on overdose of painkillers pleaded guilty on Thursday to murder.

Guilty pleas to third-degree murder were entered by Adrienne Moton, 34, and Sherry West, 52, who both worked for Dr. Kermit Gosnell at what prosecutors have described as a decrepit and unsanitary clinic known as Women's Medical Society in West Philadelphia.

Due to a court-issued gag order, attorneys declined to comment on reports that no plea agreement was reached in the case.

Sentencing was set for December 2 by Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner. The maximum penalty for third-degree murder is 40 years in prison.

Seven more defendants face charges in the case, including Gosnell, who a grand jury in January said, "killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy -- and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors."

The grand jury said that a clinic co-worker of Moton's testified that a woman gave birth to a large baby at the clinic, delivering the child into a toilet. The jurors identified the newborn as "Baby D."

The jurors said the co-worker told them that the baby was moving and looked like it was swimming.

"Moton reached into the toilet, got the baby out and cut its neck," the grand jury said in its report.

West was accused of murder in the death of a 41-year-old patient, Karnamaya Mongar. more

Dwight Bennett arrested for horse cruelty; authorities discover "horse graveyard" on Whispering Pines Ranch



A Northern California animal rescue group may need some rescuing of its own after helping save dozens of horses in what some are describing as the worst cases of animal cruelty they’ve witnessed.

Volunteers from The Grace Foundation in El Dorado Hills were not prepared for the conditions it found on a Northern California ranch in April, where the carcasses of 25 horses littered the property, many just the skeletal remains.

“It was just a graveyard for horses,” said Beth DeCaprio of The Grace Foundation. “It was the worst case I had ever seen.” more

Be sure to click on the "more" link, as the Horse Rescue Foundation has issued a call out for help to help the surviving animals.

China suspect in US satellite interference: report

NASA satellites were interfered with four separate times in 2007 and 2008, possibly by the Chinese military, according to a draft of an upcoming report for the US Congress.

The latest draft of the report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said the computer hackers behind the interference gained the ability to issue commands to one of the satellites on two occasions.

The targeted satellites are used for observation of the earth's climate and terrain, according to the report to be submitted to Congress on November 16. A copy of the latest draft of the report was obtained by AFP on Thursday.

It said the account of the interference with the satellites came from a May 2011 briefing for the Commission by the US Air Force.

The hackers appear to have exploited the information systems of the Svalbard Satellite Station (SvalSat), a commercially operated satellite ground station in Spitsbergen, Norway, to gain access to the satellites, the report said.

SvalSat relies on the Internet for data access and file transfers, it said, citing a recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration report.

On October 20, 2007, Landsat-7, a US earth observation satellite jointly managed by NASA and the US Geological Survey, experienced 12 or more minutes of interference, the report said.

Landsat-7 experienced another 12 or more minutes of interference on July 23, 2008, the report said.

It said that on June 20, 2008, Terra EOS AM-1, a NASA-managed program for earth observation, experienced two or more minutes of interference, it said.

It said the hackers behind the interference with Terra EOS AM-1 "achieved all steps required to command the satellite but did not issue commands." more

Police In Riot Gear Remove 'Occupy San Diego' Protesters

Police in riot gear cleared Occupy San Diego protesters out of Civic Center Plaza early Friday, making some arrests in the process, a police officer said.

The operation began about 2 a.m. after officials declared the three-week- old event an unlawful assembly, said San Diego police Officer David Stafford. It lasted about 45 minutes, and there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Protesters plan to reassemble at 8:45 a.m. for a solidarity march from Civic Center Plaza to the Wells Fargo Building downtown.

During the plaza-clearance sweep, some protesters scattered around downtown San Diego while others were arrested, Stafford said without saying how many.

The operation was carried out by some 20 police officers assisted by a score of San Diego County sheriff's deputies, also in riot gear, witnesses said. They reported seeing about a half-dozen protesters being arrested for refusing to leave.

Protesters first converged on Civic Center Plaza on Oct. 7, decrying the conduct of banks, corporations and politicians. The Occupy movement began in New York last month and has since spread nationwide.

Before Friday, the local protest had been largely confrontation-free, with the exception of Oct. 14, when two protesters were arrested for allegedly delaying police officers. On Oct. 14, protesters were ordered to take down makeshift camp sites that they had erected. more

Obama Has Declared Record-Breaking 89 Disasters So Far in 2011

From Hurricane Irene, which soaked the entire East Coast in August, to the Midwest tornadoes, which wrought havoc from Wisconsin to Texas, 2011 has seen more billion-dollar natural disasters than any year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

And as America’s hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires set records this year, so too has President Obama in his response to them.

During the first 10 months of this year President Obama declared 89 major disasters, more than the record 81 declarations that he made in all of 2010.

And Obama has declared more disasters — 229 — in the first three years of his presidency than almost any other president signed in their full four-year terms. Only President George W. Bush declared more, having signed 238 disaster declarations in his second term, from 2005 to 2009.

But while the sheer number of bad weather events played a big role in the uptick in presidential disaster declarations, Obama’s record-setting year may have something to do with politics as well.

“There’s no question about it that the increase in the number of disaster declarations is outstripping what we would expect to see, given what we observe in terms of weather,” said Robert Hartwig, the president and economist at the Insurance Information Institute. “There’s a lot of political pressure on the president and Congress to show they are responsive to these sorts of disasters that occur.” more

Botulism confirmed in Ontario bird die-off (Reasonable explanation for event killing thousands of birds?)

Preliminary testing confirms that the thousands of dead birds that washed ashore along a stretch of Ontario’s Georgian Bay appear to have died of botulism.

The first bird to be tested, at the University of Guelph, came back positive for Type E botulism, a spokesperson for the provincial Natural Resources Ministry said Thursday.

The birds would have eaten fish laced with botulism toxin, the ministry said.

Thousands of dead loons, ducks and gulls washed ashore along a three-kilometre stretch around Wasaga Beach, on the southeast part of Georgian Bay.

Ministry spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski said other samples of the thousands of dead birds have been sent for testing, with more results expected next week.

Such die-offs are common in the fall and residents shouldn't be concerned if dead birds wash ashore, she said. "It could continue for a few more weeks depending on water temperature, waves," Kowalski added.

Type E botulism toxin is produced by a bacterium that lives in lake bottom sediment, and under certain conditions it begins producing the toxin, which then enters the aquatic food chain, according to the ministry. Birds who eat affected fish can die.

Botulism toxins are easily destroyed by heat, meaning fish and birds that people catch pose no risk provided they're properly cooked. However, residents in the area are being warned to keep a tight rein on their pets and prevent them from getting near the dead birds and fish on the beaches. more

US flies drones from Ethiopia to fight Somali militants

The US military has begun flying drone aircraft from a base in Ethiopia, as part of its fight against Islamist militants in neighbouring Somalia.

US officials have confirmed to the BBC that the base, in the southern city of Arba Minch, is now operational.

But they stressed that the remotely-piloted drones were being used only for surveillance, and not for air strikes.

It is part of a growing counter-terrorism presence in the region as the US pursues groups with al-Qaeda links.

The US military has reportedly spent millions of dollars upgrading the remote, civilian airport - from which Reaper drones are now being flown.

The remotely-piloted aircraft can be equipped with missiles and satellite guided bombs.

But officials have told the BBC the drones are flying unarmed because their use is considered sensitive by Ethiopia's government.

Their role is surveillance of the al-Shabab militant group - based in Somalia, and already the focus of drone missions flown from other bases in the region. more

7 killed after flooding ravages parts of northern Italy, officials say

Seven people have died and seven others are missing after rains triggered severe flooding in northern Italy, civil protection officials said Friday.

Especially hard hit was the tourist-popular Cinque Terre region on Italy's northwest coast.

The Italian Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency in the flood region, which means 65 million euros ($91 million) will be put aside to deal with the disaster, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

A special cabinet meeting was called Friday to discuss the situation, the Italian government said.

Heavy rains continued to fall Thursday night in Milan and other spots across the southern European nation, according to the Servizio Meteorologico, Italy's official weather agency. The agency gave an alert about intense, widespread rainfall -- potentially with strong wind gusts and hail -- in the regions of Calabria and Basilicata in southern Italy, as well as the eastern part of Sicily.

Meanwhile, Monterosso al Mare -- between Genoa and Pisa in the Cinque Terre region of Liguria -- has been "isolated, accessible only by sea" because of earlier rains and floods, Mayor Angelo Betta told the news agency ANSA.

So, too, is the nearby town of Vernazza, with even bulldozers and cranes still not able to reach it. more

Tunisian troops try to disperse Sidi Bouzid protesters

Tunisian troops have fired in the air to disperse hundreds of protesters in the town of Sidi Bouzid, reports say.

Violent protests erupted in the central town on Thursday after the results of the country's first democratic elections in decades were announced.

The protests flared after candidate lists of a party contesting the elections were disqualified because of alleged financial irregularities.

Islamist party Ennahda, which won the poll, is holding coalition talks.

The BBC's Chloe Arnold, in North Africa, says the protests have marred what was otherwise praised by international observers as a peaceful, free and fair election last Sunday. more

Pakistan suicide bomber kills two policemen in Nowshera

A suspected suicide bomber has killed two policemen and injured seven others in northwest Pakistan, police said.

The attack took place in the Nowshera area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Police said one of the dead policemen, Ajmeer Shah, may have been the target.

Mr Shah had killed a prominent local Taliban commander, Jannat Gul, in a shootout a month ago.

Police said he had received threats from the Taliban and survived several attempts on his life.

Bits of the exploded suicide vest and parts of the limbs of the suspected suicide bomber have been recovered from the scene of the attack, police said. more

Iraq bomb blasts: Toll in Baghdad rises to 36

At least 36 people are now known to have died in the twin bomb blasts which hit Baghdad on Thursday.

The first blast occurred in Ur, a mainly Shia district of northern Baghdad. The second went off as rescuers were evacuating the wounded.

At least 78 people are said to have been injured in the roadside attacks.

There has been a resurgence in militant violence in Baghdad in recent weeks. The last US troops are preparing to leave Iraq by the end of the year.

After Thursday's attacks, eyewitness Ahmed Jalil, 27, told the Associated Press news agency: "I stood outside my shop and saw burning cars and dead bodies on the ground."

No group has said it carried out the bombings.

Official have blamed al-Qaeda for recent violence - which includes a string of car and roadside attacks that killed at least 28 people in Baghdad on 12 October.

The increase in attacks has raised concern that violence might increase once the American military departs. more

Kenyans in first al-Shabab battle in Somalia

Kenyan troops have clashed with Islamist militants inside Somalia for the first time since crossing the border nearly two weeks ago.

Kenya army spokesman Maj Emmanuel Chirchir told the BBC a convoy came under attack between the southern towns of Tabda and Bilis Qoqani.

Each side said the other had suffered casualties.

Kenya sent troops into southern Somalia earlier this month, blaming al-Shabab for a spat of kidnappings.

Al-Shabab, which controls much of central and southern Somalia, denies the allegation and has threatened reprisal attacks in Kenya.

Meanwhile, a Kenyan man, who confessed to being a member of al-Shabab, has been sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to being responsible for Monday's twin grenade attacks in the Kenyan, capital, Nairobi.

The BBC's Noel Mwakugu in court says Elgiva Bwire Oliacha smiled at the cameras and said he had no regrets and would not appeal his sentence.

One person was killed and 29 other wounded in two attacks in the city on a nightclub and bus stop. more

Courtney Followay, Gavin Aldridge arrested after giving away their neglected toddler

A Cleveland couple faces child endangerment charges after giving away their neglected 2-year-old girl, authorities said.

The parents were arrested Thursday after authorities learned that they gave away the toddler 10 days earlier, according to Cleveland police reports.

Police got a tip Thursday and went to the parents' home, where they found an emaciated pit bull and fecal matter. The child was nowhere to be found, police said.

Officers learned the suspects had given the child away to friends in their neighborhood, who said they agreed to take custody of her if the couple agreed to get help for their alleged drug addiction, according to police reports.

The parents, Courtney Followay, 23, and Gavin Aldridge, 24, face charges of child endangering, obstructing official business and cruelty to animals.

When the child was given away, she had bug bites and her eyes were crusted shut, police reports said.

Officers gave the child to her maternal grandmother after she was taken to a hospital. more

Opposition group reports 25 killed in Syria, including 3 children



Three children were among 25 people reported killed Thursday in Syria, an opposition group reported, in the apparent latest round of violence to rattle the turbulent Middle Eastern nation.

The Syrian government, meanwhile, continued to refute reports -- including one alleging abuses and assaults in its prisons -- according to the state-run SANA news agency. It also documented the funerals of what it called three "martyrs" killed by "armed terrorist groups (outside) Hama and Damascus."

The Local Coordinating Committees, an opposition group that organizes protests, reported in a statement released Friday morning that 11 people were killed in the suburbs of Hama -- including seven in Kernaz, two in Qalat Madeq and one apiece in Latamnah and Kafranbodah.

Another seven people died Thursday in Homs, which has been a hotbed of anti-government sentiment and subsequent government-led crackdowns, the group claimed.

This followed a powerful explosion that rocked the city's Bayada neighborhood, with the coordination committees further claiming that security forces fired on that and another neighborhood with heavy machine guns. more

Legal action coming to remove Occupy protest at London cathedral

Authorities in London agreed to take court action Friday to remove anti-capitalist protesters who have spent two weeks camped outside St. Paul's Cathedral.

The City of London Corporation, which runs the capital's financial district, said it had legal grounds for action because the 200 or more tents were impacting roads in the area.

Stuart Fraser, the City of London Corporation's chairman of Policy and Resources, said: "We have no problem with a peaceable 24-hour protest by people without tents -- provided the highway is fully usable -- but campsites and important highways don't mix."

He told CNN it could take three to four months for the legal process to unfold.

A statement from St. Paul's said it had asked the protesters to leave peacefully but that legal action "has regrettably become necessary" given their refusal to move on.

"The Chapter only takes this step with the greatest reluctance and remains committed to a peaceful solution," it said.

Protester Spyro Van Leemnen told CNN: "We are very disappointed to see that the church decided to take the legal route.

"The church should stand by (us). Jesus himself kicked out the moneylenders from the temple and now we see this system of Christianity collaborating with the moneylenders to evict people from their doorstep."

He said the Occupy London group was consulting a lawyer on how to respond with its own legal action. more

Bangkok facing 'perfect storm'



Thailand is facing its worst flooding since 1942, with 373 people dead, more than nine million affected and 28 -- or more than a third -- of the nation's provinces at least partially flooded after a series of strong seasonal storms that brought exceptional rainfall.

More than a billion cubic meters of runoff are expected to pass through some of the northern parts of Bangkok on its way toward the Gulf of Thailand, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) away, as high tides are set to peak on Saturday.

CNN takes a look at what the low-lying Thai capital, which straddles the Chao Phraya River, is experiencing, with insights from Craig Steffensen, Asian Development Bank's country director for Thailand.

Q. What do high tides mean for the city?

"Picture the equivalent of 480,000 Olympic-sized pools of water trying to make their way through Bangkok at the moment," Steffensen said Friday. "Combined with the floodwaters trying to get out and the tides coming in...we could see a perfect storm in Bangkok. "

The capital lies barely above sea level and is already sinking within the Chao Phraya delta, as sea levels in the Gulf of Thailand rise.

The city is protected by dikes, but they may not be high enough to cope with the current flooding. "Barriers on the north side of Bangkok are 3 to 3.5 meters (10 to 11.5 feet) high, and water is penetrating these barriers," Steffensen pointed out. more

Insurgents attack bases in Afghanistan

Insurgents launched attacks Thursday on a Provincial Reconstruction Team base and a military outpost in Afghanistan, Afghan and NATO officials said.

Three insurgents took positions in a home near a PRT base in Kandahar, said the region's police chief, Salim Ahsas.

Officials killed two of the attackers, but one was "still resisting in the building," Ahsas said.

Residents reported heavy gunfire in the area.

The PRT base is about 800 meters (half a mile) from the three-floor building the insurgents are in, said Haji Ahsan, acting head of the Kandahar Provincial Council.

"We can say that this a failed attack by the Taliban," Ahsan said. "The Taliban have always been trying to do symbolic attacks to get more attention."

Haji Agha Lali, a member of the Kandahar provincial council, said insurgents were firing small guns and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) toward the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

There were no casualties among PRT or military personnel, Ahsas said.

The Taliban brought in two cars full of explosives, possibly to use in the attack, but authorities gained control of them and were working to defuse them, Ahsas said. more

Transgenic salmon: coming soon to a store near you?

AquaBounty Technologies, an American company with operations in Prince Edward Island, is awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for commercial sale of its genetically modified salmon. If approved, it would be the first genetically modified animal to reach our dinner plates. John Buchanan, director of research and development for AquaBounty, told CBC News that its AquAdvantage salmon is "the most studied line of fish ever." The fish grows at about twice the natural rate, reaching maturity in 1 1/2 to two years. Both salmon are about the same size when fully grown. more

Canada may buy nuclear submarines -- Is a conflict coming, perhaps over the north?

CBC News has learned the Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines to replace its problem-plagued fleet of diesel-powered subs, all of which are currently awash in red ink and out of service for major repairs.

The four second-hand subs Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government bought from the British navy in 1998 for $750 million were portrayed at the time as the military bargain of the century.

Instead, they have spent almost all of their time in naval repair yards, submerging Canadian taxpayers in an ocean of bills now totalling more than $1 billion and counting.

One of the subs, HMCS Chicoutimi, has been in active service of the Royal Canadian Navy exactly two days in the 13 years since it was purchased from the Brits.

The Chicoutimi caught fire on its maiden voyage from the U.K. to Canada, killing one sailor and injuring a number of others.

It has been in the repair shop ever since, and isn’t expected back in service for at least another two years and $400 million more in repairs and retrofits. more