Saturday, October 29, 2011
The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, said her government would help the Commonwealth leaders fly home. "They took it in good spirits when I briefed them about it," she said.
The Australian government called for an emergency arbitration hearing, which was ajourned early Sunday after hearing evidence from the airline and unions, who are protesting planned job cuts. It will resume on Sunday afternoon when the government will argue that the airline be ordered to fly in Australia's economic interests.
The strike is estimated to cost the Australian airline A$20m (£13.3m) a day. Among those who may be affected are British passengers heading to Australia on British Airways, which has a joint services agreement with the airline.
"British Airways-operated flights between the UK and Australia are not expected to be disrupted at this time," said a BA spokesman. more
The violence began when two Islamic Jihad commanders were among seven militants killed Saturday by Israeli strikes targeting a training camp in Rafah, Gaza, a spokesman for the militant group and medical sources reported.
The Israel Defense Forces said that more than 20 mortars and rockets were subsequently fired into their territory. A 55-year-old man was killed in the rocket attacks and 20 others were injured, according to Zaki Heler, an emergency services spokesman in Israel.
Palestinian medical sources told CNN that two people were killed in a second wave of Israeli airstrikes, launched in response to these rocket attacks.
According to Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad, the original Israeli strikes occurred during a graduation ceremony. Two other members of his organization were injured in that attack, he said. Witnesses reported that at least 10 other people were wounded.
Afterward, Ahmed promised a "response ... inside Israel very soon." more
The epicenter was 9 km ( 5 miles) WNW of Van, Turkey
Estimated 582 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 650 aftershocks since the Initial earthquake
The epicenter was 57 km ( 35 miles) West of Nueva Loja, Ecuador
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time
The epicenter was 220 km ( 136 miles) South of Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time
The epicenter was 17 km ( 10.2 miles) Northeast of Quito, Ecuador
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time
An interior ministry official said the suspect left his upper-floor apartment in the eastern city of Valencia late on Friday and went downstairs knocking on doors at random as he descended.
As residents answered the door he reportedly launched an attack on them.
A 50-year-old father and his 13-year-old son were among those killed, while the boy's mother, 48, suffered serious injuries after being knifed in the chest and abdomen.
A 77-year-old woman was also stabbed to death when she answered her apartment door.
Another resident, a 44-year-old man, is recovering in hospital with stab wounds to his back and head.
A local ambulance service spokeswoman said the three victims died at the scene.
Police, who are yet to determine a motive for the attack, have arrested a 33-year-old man, who was reportedly caught nearby covered in blood. Source
Syrian forces pounded the western city of Homs Saturday with jets and tanks, sustaining fire with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, activists told CNN.
At least seven people were killed in the clashes, six of them in Homs, according to the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) of Syria, an opposition group that organizes and documents protests in Syria.
Rami Abdel Rahman, president of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported at least four deaths in Homs Saturday.
He said the fierce fighting has been ongoing between armed military defectors and loyalist forces.
For weeks, the military has parked tanks at the entrance to Bab Amer, a Homs neighborhood known as the epicenter of anti-government activity, an activist told CNN Saturday. After the Saturday morning crackdown, the military established new checkpoints and a much heavier presence, the activist said. more
Five troops and eight civilians were killed in central Kabul when a suicide bomber struck a vehicle in a military convoy, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Saturday.
A U.S. military official earlier said they were Americans, but an ISAF spokesman could not confirm that.
The U.S. official emphasized details are continuing to unfold. A heavily damaged vehicle was believed to be an armored bus that was carrying U.S. troops from one base to another. A senior NATO official identified it as a custom-built, heavily armored Rhino.
The attack caused a "number" of NATO and local Afghan casualties, ISAF said in a statement. Four Afghans, including two students, were also killed, said Hashmat Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul's police chief. more
The safety measure will allow authorities to decide whether to retain any portion of the city’s most well-known building, which was seriously damaged by a strong earthquake in February. The Anglican church said it plans to construct a new cathedral that incorporates parts of the old one.
In the next few months, crews will begin the painstaking task of taking down unstable parts of the building while trying to save artifacts and shore up more stable parts of the structure, a church statement said. Crews will assess how much — if any — of the building can be saved as they proceed, a church spokeswoman said.
The Anglican church’s beauty, central location and climbable spire made it a popular tourist draw before the magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck in February, killing 182 people and destroying much of Christchurch’s downtown area. In an enduring image, the quake toppled the cathedral’s spire. Nobody died in that collapse. more
The euro-zone, it would seem, has managed to convince investors that it might be on the path to solving the common currency area's debt problems after all. In addition to the Greek debt haircut, the 17 euro-zone members also agreed on a requirement that European banks increase their core capital ratios to 9 percent, a move that will, it is hoped, help buffer them against the hefty write downs of Greek debt that some will have to swallow.
In addition, the EFSF is to be boosted, transforming the fund with a current lending capacity of €440 billion into one with firepower worth €1 trillion. At that size, it is hoped, investors will no longer be overly concerned about investing in euro-zone sovereign bonds, particularly those from larger area economies like Italy and Spain.
Still, despite the apparent investor euphoria over the deal, there are, for the moment, precious few details about how exactly the new EFSF fund will work. There are two competing models -- one involving an insurance scheme guaranteeing a portion of investments in euro-zone sovereign bonds against loss and another envisioning the creation of an investment fund to attract money from outside the euro zone. But euro-zone leaders won't be making a final decision until November. more
This documentary is being pulled from its many online sources, and we have no idea as to how long it will remain online, so watch this as soon as possible if you plan on doing so.
The policeman’s hand slapped the woman’s face with an audible crack. Standing only five feet tall in her trainers, barely the height of her assailant’s epaulettes, she took the blow without a cry.
This scene was witnessed by The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday in a small police station near a village in Shandong province, north-east China, that has become a magnet for activists of all stripes protesting against a dark corner of the Chinese state that operates beyond the law.
The woman who took the slap, 30-year-old Wang Xuezhen, is one of a stream of people who have marshalled themselves over the internet and travelled to Dongshigu village to support a man they believe is being persecuted, a blind lawyer named Chen Guangcheng.
Stumbling out of the police station and holding her stinging face, Miss Wang bitterly observed a truth about contemporary China: the country’s lawlessness begins with the law itself.
Then she turned on her mobile phone and asked a friend to post a message on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, relaying the news of the assault to the world. more
My friend J grew up in Chicago, but spent his summers in a small town on a Michigan lake. His family, because they came from the city and because they were “summer” visitors, were slightly more privileged than those who lived in the town. Nevertheless, the town considered itself “middle class” and the children observed no social distinctions playing together. J told me recently that he had been back to that town and found it utterly changed: shops were boarded up, houses were being repossessed, cars were old. He no longer had much in common with people he had known as children, some of whom were now unemployed, all of whom had far lower incomes than he.
J isn’t a hedge-fund manager or a plutocrat, but he is a member of the American upper-middle class, a group which is now sociologically and economically very distinct from the lower-middle class, with different politics, different ambitions and different levels of optimism. Thirty years ago, this wasn’t the case. A worker in a Detroit car factory earned about the same as, say, a small-town dentist, and although they might have different taste in films or furniture, their purchasing power wasn’t radically different. Their children would have been able to play together without feeling as if they came from different planets.
Now they couldn’t. Despite all the loud talk of the “1 per cent” of Americans who, according to a recent study, receive about 17 per cent of the income, a percentage which has more than doubled since 1979, the existence of a very small group of very rich people has never bothered Americans. But the fact that some 20 per cent of Americans now receive some 53 per cent of the income is devastating. more
Italy sold €8bn (£7bn) of 10-year bonds at 6.06pc, a level seen as unsustainable by analysts, in the first major test of market appetite since European leaders agreed steps to tackle the crisis.
Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi is seen as critically weakened and there are doubts he will be able to push through the austerity measures demanded by markets.
"[Italy] is still the bête noire of the whole eurozone problem," said Monument Securities strategist Marc Oswald.
In comments that appeared unlikely to calm concerns, Mr Berlusconi issued an extraordinary outburst against the single currency, blaming it for the scrutiny on Italy's finances. He described the euro as a "strange currency" that "has convinced nobody" and claimed that after Germany, Italy had the eurozone's strongest economy.
The outburst came just hours after Klaus Regling, chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), arrived in Beijing to try to persuade China to help finance the eurozone's bail-out vehicle. China has said there will be no "charity" and Mr Regling warned it would likely take "several weeks" to hammer out a deal. more
Rising food prices, record gas bills landing on doormats and stubbornly high petrol prices has combined with steadily increasing unemployment and low wage growth to create a miserable few months for many. The eurozone crisis and plunging stock markets made matters worse, knocking confidence, according to Alliance Trust, which analyses a number of official data sources to compile its Financial Reality Index.
This index fell from 79.6pc to 56.7pc between the second and third quarter, its largest quarterly fall since it started compiling its index in 1997. Despite the sharp deterioration, it is some way off its nadir, which it hit in the final quarter of 2008, when many were reeling at the shock of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The sudden fall in economic confidence has been confirmed by many high street retailers, which have suggested that shoppers drastically cut back their spending after the summer. A number have issued dire profit warnings, including Carpetright, Mothercare and SuperGroup.
Linsey Thomson, senior economic analyst at the Alliance Trust Research Centre, said: “The record decline in our index in Q3 highlights just how tough conditions facing households are. During the quarter, the decline in the net wealth index was particularly marked, mainly as a result of the large stock market losses. Higher inflation continues to cause higher basic goods prices and a loss of real spending power which is hitting household budgets. On top of this, economic activity has slowed and we have seen a rise in the unemployment rate which makes conditions even tougher. The combination of these factors suggests that consumer spending will slow further in the coming months." more
Data released by the European Central Bank show that real M1 deposits in Portugal have fallen at an annualised rate of 21pc over the past six months, buckling violently in September.
"Portugal appears to have entered a Grecian vortex and monetary trends have deteriorated sharply in Spain, with a decline of 8.4pc," said Simon Ward, from Henderson Global Investors. Mr Ward said the ECB must cut interest rates "immediately" and launch a full-scale blitz of quantitative easing of up to 10pc of eurozone GDP.
The M1 data - cash and current accounts - is watched by experts as a leading indicator for the economy six months to a year ahead. It has been an accurate warning signal for each stage of the crisis since 2007.
A mix of fiscal austerity and monetary tightening by the ECB earlier this year appear to have tipped the Iberian region into a downward slide. "The trends are less awful in Ireland and Italy, suggesting that both are rescuable if the ECB acts aggressively," said Mr Ward.
A shrinking money supply is dangerous for countries with a high debt stock. Portugal’s public and private debt will reach 360pc of GDP by next year, far higher than in Greece. more
The delivery of the 19 top-of-the-range executive cars has raised eyebrows at a time when the country is meant to be shaving billions off its public spending.
Opposition MPs said it was it was an outrageous indulgence at a time when the defence ministry is supposed to be reducing its budget by €2.5bn (£2.2bn) over the next three years.
The matter was raised in parliament by Emanuele Fiano, an MP from the opposition Democratic Party. "At a time when millions of Italians are being affected by a very serious economic crisis, is there good reason for the defence minister to feel it necessary to add 19 armoured Maseratis to the ministry's car park?" he said.
Italian officials are notorious for their attachment to what are known colloquially as "auto blu" - vast fleets of dark blue and black limousines which carve through traffic with flashing lights and police outriders.
Ignazio La Russa, the defence minister, dismissed the row as a "witch hunt" by the opposition and said the cars had been paid for with money out of the 2008-2009 budget, before swingeing cuts were announced in the summer by Silvio Berlusconi's government. more
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised its key rate to 8.5% from 8.25%, the 13th increase since March last year.
The increase comes amid a high rate of inflation that saw consumer prices rise 9.72% in September from a year ago.
The RBI also cut its growth forecast to 7.6% from 8%, citing worsening global economic conditions.
"Slower global growth will have an adverse impact on domestic growth, particularly on industrial production, given the rising inter-linkages of the Indian economy with the global economy," the central bank said in a statement.
There is a risk of sharp deterioration if a credible solution to the euro area debt and financial problems is not found, in which case it will impact domestic growth through trade, finance and confidence channels”
Consumer price growth has become a hot political issue for the government and a major threat to the country's economic growth.
Despite efforts by the central bank, the rate of inflation has continued to remain high.
"Of larger concern is the fact that even with the visible moderation in growth, inflation has persisted," the bank said.
The RBI warned that it expected consumer prices to remain high in the short term.
"Inflation is broad-based and above the comfort level of the Reserve Bank. Further, these levels are expected to persist for two more months."
Analysts said that, given the high rate of inflation, the central bank had no other choice but to increase the cost of borrowing.
"Inflation has taken a bad shape for the economy. And if the central bank would have paused right now, there could have been a bubble formation somewhere in the economy." said Arun Singh of Dun & Bradstreet. more
Recent polls prove that when Americans hear this band, they dig it. Here’s a round-up:
Oct. 9-10 Time Magazine/Abt SRBI: This poll showed a 54 percent favorable rating of OWS, compared to a mere 27 percent thumbs up for the Tea Party. The same poll revealed a strong support for grievances associated with the movement. 86 percent of Americans polled thought that "Wall Street and lobbyists have too much influence in Washington"; 79 percent said that "the gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. is too large"; 71 percent wanted prosecutions for "executives of financial institutions responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008"; and 68 percent believed that "the rich should pay more in taxes." Echoing the sense of alienation expressed by OWS protesters, 60 percent of respondents said that "the political debate in Washington and the media" does not represent their concerns. more
For those who have spent their entire lives in the previously quiet farm towns that dot the northwestern corner of North Dakota, the discovery of oil in the Bakken formation has been anything but fortuitous.
The thousands of people from around the country flocking to these boomtowns has led to a housing shortage and an increase in traffic, crime and frustration among the locals who feel like their small, close-knit towns are now gone forever.
"At first, we were excited about the prospect of bringing in new people and money ... but it slammed us so hard, in such a little time that a lot of locals now are kind of resentful," said Deone Lawlar, a 57-year-old native of Watford City, which is located in the middle of the oil play. "Now we want our town back."
The land Lawlar's home is built on has belonged to her family for generations. Last year, the dirt trail that led to her house was extended past her home by an oil exploration company to build two oil rigs, a pipeline company and housing facilities for oil workers. Now, the once-solitary road plays host to semi trucks at all hours of the day.
Many drivers throw trash out their windows as they speed by. Lawlar said she even came home one evening to find a truck driver urinating on her lawn.
"The quiet peaceful country life as we know it is a thing of the past," said Lawlar. She and her husband used to joke that their next move would be to the cemetery. Now, it looks like it might be Bismarck. more
It was the ultimate Cold War weapon, the one that Major Kong would have ridden into Armageddon at the end of Dr. Strangelove. And on Tuesday, it will no longer exist.
Out at the Energy Department’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, the last of America’s B-53s is in storage. Come Tuesday, it will be dissected: The 300 pounds of high explosives will be separated from its enriched uranium heart, known as a “pit.” The pit will be placed into a storage locker at Pantex, where it will await a final, highly supervised termination.
“It’s the end of the era of monster weapons, if you will,” says Hans Kristensen, who directs the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of the American Scientists.
First brought into the U.S. nuclear stockpile in 1962, the B-53 was so big because it was so dumb. With poor precision mechanisms for finding a target — “Its accuracy was horrendous,” Kristensen says — what it lacked in smarts it made up in strength. The nukes that vaporized Hiroshima were a mere 12 kilotons; the B53 provided nine megatons — 9,000 kilotons — of destructive power. more
When is a plane not a plane? When it's a telescope, of course.
NASA has recently launched SOFIA -- The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy -- which lives onboard a modified Boeing 747. At $500 million, the former commercial Pan Am passenger airliner comes with a 17-ton telescope, an oversized window in the fuselage, and a cabin full of instruments carefully studying the view.
"SOFIA is the world's largest airborne observatory," S. Pete Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center, told FoxNews.com.
"Light enters the instruments and scientists on board are actually able to analyze that data in real time as it comes in through their computers," SOFIA project scientist Pamela Marcum said.
SOFIA can see things ground-based telescopes cannot see. That's because most infrared energy from space never reaches the ground: It gets absorbed by moisture in the Earth's lower atmosphere. SOPHIA gets around, (or rather above) that astronomical challenge by flying at 45,000 feet -- above most atmospheric moisture.
There, SOFIA's telescope analyzes spectrums of this particular light. Images captured by SOFIA show the core of M82, a nearby galaxy. Another pink and orange image shows the glow of heat from Jupiter's interior.
Scientists say infrared wavelengths hold valuable clues about the births of stars and planets, even our own. more
The world's population grows by some 83 million people each year - more than the population of Germany. Even if population growth slows, it is expected that there will be nine billion people on the planet by the year 2050 and ten billion at some point this century.
In order to satisfy their requirements, about 2,400 kilocalories per head would be necessary. Agricultural production, as a result, would have to be doubled or even tripled in the next 40 years.
Given the limited resources of the earth, the question arises as to whether this is even possible. In essence, it is, says Harald von Witzke, professor of agricultural sciences at the Humboldt University of Berlin. But there is one major requirement.
The enormous growth in agricultural production of past decades, Witzke says, is a result in an increase in productivity of the land. Only 20 percent was down to an expansion in the amount of land set aside for agricultural use. more
It is a skill the newborn will be fortunate to maintain as he has been born in Henan, the most crowded province in the world's most populous nation as the human family edged closer to the 7 billion mark.
Yet he will probably grow up alone. Although Henan last year became the first province in China to register its 100 millionth resident – giving it a population bigger than any country in Europe – it also claims some of the greatest successes in taming demographic growth through its family planning policies.
This has not happened by accident. Henan is one of the most environmentally stressed areas of China with a quarter of the water and a fifth of the land per capita compared to the already low national average.
Senior family planners say this justifies rigid restrictions. "The large number of people has put very big pressure on all resources, especially water," said Liu Shaojie vice director of the Population Commission in Henan. "Over 30 years of effort, we have put in place a systematic procedure for controlling the population. That has eased the impact on the environment. We are doing glorious work."
Many environmentalists agree that population control is essential if humanity is to move on to a more sustainable track, but how can this be done? China has gone further than any nation in trying to answer this question over the past 30 years. But both the means and the ends remain the subject of fierce controversy. more
Unfortunately, NATO on Tuesday once again refrained from putting its money where its mouth is, offering Moscow cheap words, as opposed to priceless action when it comes to a genuine partnership in the construction of a European missile defense system, which the US says is needed to protect Europe from a 'rogue' missile strike.
Russia was assured, once again, that the system was no cause for alarm.
The US missile defense shield slated for Europe “does not pose any threats to Russia's defense capabilities,” James Appathurai, NATO's Deputy Assistant Secretary General, told his Russian hosts at a press conference in Moscow.
"The shield lacks the technical capabilities to disrupt Russia's potential to fend off a nuclear strike," he said, while failing to mention the system's potential for spatial and technological growth in the near future.
As for providing written "legal guarantees" that the system – situated just miles from the Russian border – would not be aimed at Russian territory, Appathurai balked, saying they were not needed.
The “ultimate guarantee” for Russia is to connect its system to NATO's, he said. When pushed for specifics, the NATO official only offered vague suggestions, like providing “data exchanges and coordination” between the two systems. more
Japan was nearly lost due to a 100% core meltdown at Fukushima: No, really -- the entire north was nearly uninhabitable
"The Wave" -- 1981 Documentary on just how easy it is for Fascism to take hold (This is a true story)
"The accumulated industrial chemicals cause diseases in the polar bears which do not lead to their immediate deaths. On the other hand, the toxins damage the bones and organs of the polar bears, their immune systems and not least their reproductive systems. However, the harm suffered by the population of polar bears in eastern Greenland is not yet fully understood," says Christian Sonne.
Together with researchers from LIFE – the Faculty of Life Sciences and Aarhus University, Christian Sonne has undertaken the first meta study of ten years of research conducted up until 2010 into the effects of contaminants on the health of the species. At the same time, he has analysed tissue and bone samples from about 100 east Greenlandic polar bears. more
Refugees forced to leave their homes because of floods, droughts, storms, heatwaves and other effects of climate change are likely to be one of the biggest visible effects of the warming that scientists warn will result from the untrammelled use of fossil fuels, according to the UK government's Foresight group, part of the Office for Science.
But many of those people are likely to move from areas affected by global warming into areas even worse afflicted - for instance, by moving into coastal cities in the developing world that are at risk of flood from storms and rising sea levels.
"Millions will migrate into, rather than away from, areas of environmental vulnerability," said Sir John Beddington, chief scientific advisor to the UK government, and head of the Foresight programme. "An even bigger policy challenge will be the millions who are trapped in dangerous conditions and unable to move to safety." more
Shark massacre reported in Colombian waters: 2,000 hammerhead, Galápagos and whale sharks were slaughtered for their fins
Sandra Bessudo, the Colombian president's top adviser on environmental issues, said a team of divers who were studying sharks in the region reported the mass killing in the waters surrounding the rock-island known as Malpelo, some 500 kilometres from the mainland.
"I received a report, which is really unbelievable, from one of the divers who came from Russia to observe the large concentrations of sharks in Malpelo. They saw a large number of fishing trawlers entering the zone illegally," Bessudo said. The divers counted a total of 10 fishing boats, which all were flying the Costa Rican flag.
"When the divers dove, they started finding a large number of animals without their fins. They didn't see any alive," she said. One of the divers provided a video that shows the finless bodies of dead sharks on the ocean floor.
Calculating an average of 200 sharks per boat, "our estimates are that as many as 2,000 sharks may have been killed," Bessudo said. more
More scientists in Washington started talking, and 24 hours later everyone is asking more questions. As word spread that infectious salmon anemia, a deadly virus that has devastated farmed fish in Chile, had been found for the first time in prized wild Pacific salmon, there remained much uncertainty about the finding and what its potential impact could be.
So far it has been found in just two wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia and not in an active state. Nevertheless the reaction from fishermen has echoed that of some scientists: this is the last thing salmon need.
“On top of everything else, that would just be murder here,” said Mr. Tremain, aboard his 40-foot boat, Heidi, at Fishermen’s Terminal here.
Multiple species of wild Pacific salmon, which migrate between freshwater rivers and the saltwater ocean, are listed as endangered species, their numbers threatened by declining river habitat, hydroelectric dams, rising water temperatures and other factors.
“Now we have something in the salt water that can kill them, too,” said Mr. Tremain, referring to the newly found virus. “With all of the other threats, the ocean has been what’s saving them.”
Infectious salmon anemia is not contagious to humans, but it has many people here worried. Wild salmon are a cultural symbol, a political wedge, a marketing phenomenon and good eats. A bumper sticker seen often in the region mocks their farmed foils: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon: support your local commercial fisherman.” more
The Cold War is not over - it has shifted into the hawkish minds of some influential American lobbyists and politicians, who have envision battles rattling on with a vengeance.
It is true that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says ties between Moscow and Washington have significantly improved since she was appointed America's top diplomat, but despite a warming in relations, some political groups in the US are actively pushing for a more aggressive stance. And not only against Russia.
The Salon web magazine has looked into the expense records of one lobby group in Washington and revealed that for years it has courted journalists who adopt distinct anti-Russian standpoints by arranging interviews for them, and paying for their trips and dinners.
One of those reportedly wooed by the lobby, called Orion Strategies, is a journalist named Eli Lake from the Washington Times. He wrote a series of pieces undermining the reset between Russia and the US. One of his articles focused on allegations that Russia masterminded last year’s explosion near the US embassy in Georgia – accusations he took from Georgian investigators, of course. And as it turns out the lobby that approached Mr. Lake is officially contracted by the Georgian government. more
Twenty years since Kazakhstan abandoned its nuclear test site, country’s atomic arsenal has gone from being the world's fourth-largest to nothing. Decades on from seeing hundreds of explosions, the environmental and human cost is still being felt.
Years later, Kazakh people who live in the area still remember the nuclear tests that tore their lives into “before and after”.
“More than 1.5 million people were affected by the nuclear tests. The combined power of all the explosions at the Semipalatinsk Test Site was equivalent to around 2,500 Hiroshimas,” says President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev.
The Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS) was the largest in the world. To get an idea of how vast it actually is, it must be seen from the air. Affecting an area of around 300,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Germany, Semipalatinsk stretches out further than the eye can see in every direction.
The Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk between 1949 and 1989 on the Kazakh steppe. One hundred and sixteen of those took place above the ground, 340 underground (borehole and tunnel) shots and 116 atmospheric (either air-drop or tower shots), including the testing of the first Soviet hydrogen bomb. The full impact of radiation exposure on people and environment was hidden for many years by Soviet authorities.
The site was chosen by the political head of the Soviet atomic bomb project, Lavrenty Beria, in 1947. Beria falsely claimed that the vast steppe area was uninhabited. more
Based on internal FBI documents [PDF] obtained under Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU accuses the bureau of targeting Americans “based on false stereotypes ascribing criminal propensity to minority communities.”
The group cites a 2009 Detroit FBI field office memo [PDF] as an example. The memo states that many of the 40 groups the State Department has designated as terrorist organizations originate in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and says that “because Michigan has a large Middle-Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalizationand recruitment by these terrorist groups.” The ACLU asserts that the Detroit FBI sought to collect information about these communities without any evidence of wrongdoing.
“It’s counterproductive because it alienates local communities from their government, and it also sends the message that the government views prejudice as acceptable,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, in a conference call.
In a letter [PDF] to U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, the ACLU argued that the documents show that the FBI is targeting Americans ”based upon their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion and political activities protected under the First Amendment,” and called for the Justice Department to tighten FBI restrictions. more
Newcastle City Council, and others around the country bearing the brunt of enormous maintenance costs, say it is unfair they are being forced to take on a "national burden".
Council lawyers argued at the High Court that, as central Government has an "overlapping" duty to save immigrant families from "destitution", the Home Office should have to pay.
But two top judges today dealt local authority budgets a blow when they ruled councils cannot escape their legal obligations and local taxpayers must nearly always foot the bill.
The dispute - acknowledged as "a test case" by Lord Justice Munby - revolved around an immigrant mother, referred to in court as "K", who arrived in the country almost seven years ago and has since given birth in this country to two children, now aged three and one.
Although refused asylum, the family has since been granted indefinite leave to remain under the Government's "legacy" scheme which favours immigrants who arrived in the country before March 2007. more
Assumptions that the Great Republic must inevitably spiral into economic and strategic decline - so like the chatter of the late 1980s, when Japan was in vogue - will seem wildly off the mark by then.
Telegraph readers already know about the "shale gas revolution" that has turned America into the world’s number one producer of natural gas, ahead of Russia.
Less known is that the technology of hydraulic fracturing - breaking rocks with jets of water - will also bring a quantum leap in shale oil supply, mostly from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, Eagle Ford in Texas, and other reserves across the Mid-West.
"The US was the single largest contributor to global oil supply growth last year, with a net 395,000 barrels per day (b/d)," said Francisco Blanch from Bank of America, comparing the Dakota fields to a new North Sea.
Total US shale output is "set to expand dramatically" as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009. more
Overall applications for university courses starting in 2012 have fallen by 9 per cent but the subjects worst hit are those which students may consider would offer the least reward and which tend to be offered by the less prestigious institutions.
Applications for 'mass communication and documentation' subjects, such as media studies and PR, have been hit the hardest, falling 40.6 per cent compared to this time last year.
Education courses have also suffered, with applications dropping by 30 per cent while interest in creative arts has dropped by 27.1 per cent and business and administration studies by 26.1per cent.
By comparison, applications for Oxford or Cambridge and for any medicine, veterinary or dentistry courses, for which the deadline was October 15, are down by just 0.8 per cent.
The number of 18-year-old Oxbridge applicants is up by 1.1 per cent on last year, despite a population of 2 per cent fewer 18-year-olds this year compared to last. more
Exam results are expected to fall as a result of the cuts, leaving future generations with lower grades and struggling to secure well-paid jobs, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Its study concluded that schools with higher numbers of children from affluent backgrounds would fare worse than those in the poorest neighbourhoods, which would receive more money under the Coalition’s plans.
The budget for renovating school buildings would fall by more than half in real terms over the next four years, while universities would see their funding cut by 40 per cent. However, the most severe impact on children’s education would be in nurseries and playgroups, as “early years” education funding is reduced by a fifth, the IFS warned.
Teachers said the report undermined promises from Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to protect the education budget from cuts. However, the Government stressed that it had been forced to make “tough decisions” and blamed Labour’s inefficiency for wasting money over the past decade.
At the Comprehensive Spending Review a year ago, ministers announced that state funding for schools would be maintained in real terms. However, official forecasts of inflation have risen sharply since. The IFS said the result would be a cut in “real terms” of 13.4 per cent across the UK between 2010-11 and 2014-15.
After the largest increases in education spending since the 1970s under the previous Labour government, the next four years would see the largest reductions in state spending on education over any four-year period since records began in 1955, the IFS said. more
It revealed that 27 per cent of those who feel "trapped" in the rental system are over the age of 40.
As a result, by the time these tenants are able to afford their own home, they could still be paying off their mortgages in their 70s.
The majority of those who rent fall into this category of "trapped renters", the survey revealed, with 55 per cent of tenants unable to afford to buy a house.
If people in this group are ever able to buy their own property, they face paying off their mortgage in a shorter time or becoming an "OAP mortgagee", the study by property website Rightmove found.
"Over half of those in rented accommodation would like to buy but can't make the sums add up and, as a result, are trapped," said Martin Shipside, Rightmove director. more
But the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are standing by their victory in a U.S. circuit court decision that states even "a solitary reference to Jesus Christ" in invocations before the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners' meetings could do "violence to the pluralistic and inclusive values that are a defining feature of American public life."
Furthermore, wrote Judge James Harvie Wilkinson III in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals majority opinion, legislative invocations offered in Jesus' name are inherently "sectarian" and thus should be censored lest they make some attendees feel "uncomfortable, unwelcome and unwilling to participate in … public affairs." more
NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed 13 deaths within its force, but did not identify their nationalities.
The U.S. official emphasized details are continuing to unfold. A heavily damaged vehicle is believed to be an armored bus that was carrying U.S. troops in the convoy.
The attack caused a "number" of NATO and local Afghan casualties, ISAF said in a statement. Four Afghans, including two students, were also killed, said Hasmat Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul's police chief.
The attack severely damaged one of its vehicles, ISAF said.
It was unclear how many people were wounded, said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
The deaths were the largest single-day U.S. loss in Afghanistan since the August crash in Afghanistan's Wardak province that killed 38 people, including 17 Navy SEALS. That aircraft was brought down by an insurgent rocket-propelled grenade.
A Taliban spokesman confirmed Saturday's attack in a text message, saying it killed "16 foreign soldiers, one civilian" and injured many others.
Taliban casualty counts are often inflated; there was no other reliable indication 16 foreigners were killed. Read More
News Report from Lima, Peru: At least 17 were wounded and 35 houses Collapsed in the 6.9 Magnitude earthquake that struck south of Peru on Friday 28th Oct 2011 according to the Institute of Civil Defense.
A house collapsed in Palpa, 2 in Parcano, 12 near Ica and a further 18 Imperial Tinguina.
Preliminary reports have confirmed 14 people were injured near Ica and 3 People injured District of Imperial, they are all being treated in nearby Health Centers.
Four years ago, Ica was hit by a devastating 8.0 Magnitude that left the city in ruins and killed over 500 people.
Aftershocks have continued with one of them measuring 6.0 Magnitude.
The Peruvian President, Ollanta Humala has called for calm and has assured support will be available for those affected by this earthquake. Source
Initial signs of the problem were discovered ten years ago in small numbers. The phenomenon was first noticed by Menachem Lev, a fisherman from Kibbutz Ein Gev, a local expert on everything that happens in the Kinneret. The plague first affected St. Peter's Fish, which is considered sacred by Christians (from the story of the bread and the fishes). About a million Christian pilgrims visit Israel every year. Most of them visit the Kinneret and eat St. Peter's fish; the Ein Gev restaurant alone serves more than 300,000 fish dinners to pilgrims every year.
The problem has worsened since then, and it is not only St. Peter's Fish that are affected by the disease, but also the Jordan River tilapia raised in fish ponds in the Hula Valley, silver carp, carp, and mullet. 12-15% of the fish in the lake have already contracted the disease. Read More
Officials with the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region have been investigating reports of a noxious odour in the area, which was first noticed in July.
The smell, described as akin to ammonia, has left staff and patients complaining of burning and itchy eyes, sore throats and a metallic taste.
In some cases, affected nurses stayed home sick.
The unit has been shut down to allow health officials to investigate.
"They've been testing the air quality, they've been testing the water supply," Rosalee Longmoore, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, told CBC News Friday. "[The water] has been tested fairly far along the pipes out to the street and to date, as far as I know, they haven't found anything ."
More than 100 patients receive dialysis treatment each day. Source
The epicenter was 32 km ( 19.8 miles) Northeast of Van, Turkey
Estimated 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 600 aftershocks since the Initial earthquake
The Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety said the amount of the isotope that flowed into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant between March 21 and mid-July reached an estimated 27.1 quadrillion becquerels. A quadrillion is equivalent to 1,000 trillion.
Of the amount, 82 percent had flowed into the sea by April 8, according to the study, which noted that the amount released as a result of the disaster triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami was unprecedented.
The report also said the Pacific was polluted at an exceptional speed because the plant stands in a coastal area with strong currents, though it said the impact of the contamination on marine life in remote waters is likely to wane from autumn.
But the institute warned that a significant degree of pollution would remain in waters off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. Radioactive cesium-137 has a half life of around 30 years. Source
At around 5:20 p.m. on Oct. 28, police received a call from a resident in the Sekimachi-kita district of Nerima Ward, reporting having been bitten by a monkey at a parking lot.
A man in his 40s and a woman in her 70s were slightly injured after being bitten on the ankles by the monkey.
A vegetable shop employee nearby said he witnessed the monkey -- he referred to as being "huge like a large dog" -- attacking the woman. The woman, according to the witness, was attacked by the animal as she was riding her bicycle.
Police captured the monkey approximately five hours later.
According to residents and police, it is highly possible that the monkey is a runaway pet of a resident in the area. Read More
The Setagaya ward office had earlier detected 110 microsieverts per hour of radiation on the same spot in Setagaya Ward's Hachimanyama area. But the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry used more sophisticated measuring instruments called "ionization chambers" to measure the levels of radiation and detected much higher levels of radiation there than those measured by the Setagaya ward office.
The science ministry also detected 110 microsieverts per hour of radiation on the premises of the supermarket, about 25 meters away from the first spot, where the ward office had earlier detected 30 to 40 microsieverts per hour of radiation. The science ministry asked the supermarket and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is in charge of managing the sidewalk, to dig up the ground to find the cause of the abnormally high levels of radiation.
Because rain or mud does not easily accumulate on the two spots measured for radiation, the science ministry believes that there is only a small possibility that the high levels of radiation came from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Read More
Note: I am lost for words..... well maybe not. "it is a HIGH possibility that the Abnormally High Levels of Radiation came from the Fukushima Melt Down"
Hudson Volcano Ash cloud rises above the Chilean volcano, officials warn large eruption possible - RED Alert Activated - 29th Oct 2011
The steam and ash was coming from three craters, ranging from 650 feet (200 meters) to 1,600 feet (500 meters) wide, and with earthquakes shaking the mountain, a major eruption could occur within hours or days, Chile’s national geology service said. Already, a plume of ash and steam spread 7.5 miles to the southeast, toward Argentina.
The Hudson Volcano has erupted twice in the last 60 years, most recently in August 1991, when it piled ash 18 inches (45 centimeters) high and killed an estimated 1.5 million sheep on the Argentine side of the Andean mountain chain. Read More
The volcanic cone off El Hierro Island has reached a height of 300 feet with a lava tongue still flowing down its side, even though its activity has slowed in the past few days, a release from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology said Friday.
"This is probably the first time that such a young underwater volcano has been mapped in such high resolution," Juan Acosta of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography said.
Within 15 days of the first signs of eruption on Oct. 9, scientists on the institute's research ship Ramon Margalef completed mapping the seabed and the growing volcano with unprecedented precision, he said.
"It is spectacular to see how what was once an underwater valley is now a volcanic cone with its descending lava tongue," Acosta said.
The base of the volcano lies at a depth of almost 1,000 feet. It is conical, 300 feet high with a base diameter of 2,200 feet and a crater width of 400 feet, the researchers said. Source
Proof police fired rubber bullets at Occupy Oakland battle? Protester who tried to help Iraq war veteran reveals awful bruise - 28th Oct 2011
Shamus Collins showed off his bruise to other protesters yesterday at the demonstrators’ new camp - and it is clear evidence to suggest the police did fire rubber bullets, despite their consistent denials.
He rushed to the aid of former Marine Scott Olsen, 24, who was left in a critical condition after being hit by a projectile believed to have been thrown by police on Tuesday at the California protests.
Mr Olsen, who won medals in Iraq, has become a rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement across the U.S. - and the picture of Mr Collins at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza will only heighten their anger.
Officials are investigating exactly where the projectile that hit Mr Olsen came from, but police have denied using rubber bullets to calm the protests - although admitted firing bean bags. Read More
Black holes are surrounded by a 'dust cloud' of smashed-up worlds - which shields luckier planets (like ours) from harm - 28th Oct 2011
But the vast, doughnut-like dust clouds around them have never been fully understood. Now scientists, led by Dr Sergei Nayakshin of Leicester University, believe that the dust is formed of the remnants of broken worlds.
Around 50 per cent of supermassive black holes are hidden from view by huge clouds of dust.
Nayakshin's team theorise that the origins of these clouds is the same as the 'zodiacal dust' in our solar system - created from collisions between asteroids and comets.
The team think that the central regions of galaxies contain asteroids and planets, as well as the huge black holes.
The collisions between them would happen at speeds of up to 1,000km per second.
The fragments would keep colliding until they were dust. Read More
Shocking abuse at California boot camp under 'sergeant' who 'posed as police officer to kidnap children' - 28th Oct 2011
Kelvin 'Sergeant Mac' McFarland was arrested in May after he allegedly kidnapped a 14-year-old schoolgirl while pretending to be a police officer, before demanding money from her parents in exchange for her return.
Videos which have been leaked since his arrest appear to show instructors at his 'boot camp' abusing children - intimidating them by screaming abuse inches from their faces before heckling them as they vomit due to exhaustion. Read More
At least 25 equines died when their owner failed to feed them or take basic steps to ensure their survival, police claim.
Three dogs also perished including one which was found hanging from a tree in what appears to have been a deliberate killing. Read More
The epicenter was 77 km ( 48 miles) SSW of Ica, Peru
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time