Monday, November 7, 2011

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 8th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Izu Islands, Japan at a depth of 35.9 km ( 22.3 miles), the quake hit at 03:13:53 UTC Tuesday 8th November 2011.
The epicenter was 298 km ( 185 miles) Southeast of Hachijo-Jima, Izu Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

7.2 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHEAST OF TAIWAN - 8th Nov 2011

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake has struck Northeast of Taiwan at a depth of 209.5 km ( 130.2 miles), the quake hit at 02:59:06 UTC Tuesday 8th November 2011.
The epicenter was 215 km ( 133 miles) Northwest of Naha, Okinawa, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Note: This earthquake is listed on USGS as a 6.9 Magnitude, Highest magnitude measured by the stations closest to the epicenter was 7.4 Magnitude

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OKLAHOMA - 8th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Oklahoma at a depth of 5 km ( 3.1 miles), the quake hit at 02:46:57 UTC Tuesday 8th November 2011.
The epicenter was 28 km ( 17 miles) NNE of Shawnee, Oklahoma
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SAVU SEA, INDONESIA - 8th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Savu Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 79.8 km ( 49.6 miles), the quake hit at 02:41:52 UTC Tuesday 8th November 2011.
The epicenter was 128 km ( 79 miles) ESE of Ende, Flores, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake NICARAGUA - 7th Nov 2011

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck Nicaragua at a depth of 183 km (113 miles), the quake hit at 22:35:26 UTC Monday 7th November 2011.
The epicenter was 13 km ( 8 miles) Northwest of Moyogalpa, Nicaragua
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Joe Frazier dead at 67 from Cancer - 8th Nov 2011

More to follow

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 7th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 7 km ( 4.3 miles), the quake hit at 22:14:16 UTC Monday 7th November 2011.
The epicenter was 32 km ( 19.8 miles) Southeast of Ercis, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake SUMBAWA REGION, INDONESIA - 7th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Sumbawa Region, Indonesia at a depth of 40 km ( 24.8 miles), the quake hit at 22:04:33 UTC Monday 7th November 2011.
The epicenter was 56 km ( 34.7 miles) Northwest of Sumbawa, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Flood warnings as storm fronts cross city: Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne this morning got a taste of severe weather to come when a line of intense thunderstorms created problems from central Victoria to Gippsland.

More storms are expected this afternoon amid fears of flooding in the state's north-east tomorrow as days of settled, balmy weather give way to tropical-like turbulence.

The State Emergency Service responded to 40 calls for help from Bendigo to west Gippsland and metropolitan suburbs in between as downpours caused minor flash flooding.

"Probably the larger challenge was the actual effect on the roads," said an SES spokesman. "We saw a number of accidents between 6am and 8am from people not quite adapting to the wet conditions.’’

Paramedics across the state also treated 30 people with severe breathing problems between 3.30am and 6.30am. more

Dr Conrad Murray Guilty of Involuntary manslaughter - 7th Nov 2011

Dr Conrad Murray has been found guilty of the Involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson

France's New Austerity Measures: Is It Too Late to Put Out the Fire?

French Prime Minister Fran├žois Fillon unveiled another batch of debt-reduction measures Monday—and in so doing officially removed the word “austerity” from the blacklist of political correctness to which it had been banished. Instead Fillon rehabilitated the term as the weapon capable of preventing contagion of the euro zone crisis from spreading to France--and brandished it in the form of cost cutting worth $26 billion over the next two years, and nearly $90 billion in total savings by 2016. Fillon said the painful steps, just six months ahead of an already uphill general election, had become inevitable, saying the word "bankruptcy" was "no longer an abstract."

Monday's measures were announced just three months after Fillon and his boss, conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, announced an initial cost-cutting (never “austerity”) package worth $16.8 billion in August. It also reflected just how keen Paris had become to halt the spreading flames of Europe's debt crisis from engulfing France as well. Earlier Monday, market concerns over Italy's ability to finance its public debt caused short-term borrowing rates Rome pays to shoot to 6.64%--a record high since Italy's membership in the euro, and agonizingly close to a 7% levels some analysts think could push Italy to default. Similarly, Spain saw the interest rates it pays on new bonds increase last week, marking renewed market concern about Madrid's financing capacities amid spreading fears sparked by economic and political chaos in Greece.

With rating agencies having already warned they're reviewing the heavily indebted France's AAA note, Sarkozy and Fillon are desperate to halt the spread of the euro crisis at French boarders. In delivering his speech Monday, Fillon sought to present the looming pain of the government's austerity measures as a curative response to growing danger for which the ruling right should be rewarded, not resented. “Voters entrusted us with the mission and duty to get France out of a crisis that would only get worse if we allowed things to continue as they had before…and as previous governments allowed,” Fillon said. more

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake BALLENY ISLANDS REGION - 7th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck Balleny Islands Region at a depth of 10 km ( 6.2 miles), the quake hit at 16:51:25 UTC Monday 7th November 2011.
The epicenter was 1926 km ( 1197 miles) South of Dunedin, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN - 7th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Eastern Honshu, Japan at a depth of 16.4 km ( 10.2 miles), the quake hit at 14:42:02 UTC Monday 7th November 2011.
The epicenter was 63 km ( 39 miles) NNE of Maebashi, Honshu, Japan
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake POTOSI, BOLIVIA - 7th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Potosi, Bolivia at a depth of 275.9 km (171.4 miles), the quake hit at 14:30:38 UTC Monday 7th November 2011.
The epicenter was 103 km ( 64 miles) SSW of Uyuni, Bolivia
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 7th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 114 km ( 70.8 miles), the quake hit at 13:56:20 UTC Monday 7th November 2011.
The epicenter was 66 km ( 41 miles) NNE of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

NY mayor talks tough on OWS as momentum grows



As clouds gather over the Occupy movement, with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowing to prevent Oakland-style violence, protesters told RT that momentum is growing for the cause and they are determined to stay.

A peaceful protest descended into fresh violence in the Californian city of Oakland, as police moved in to break up an Occupy rally there. At least 100 demonstrators were arrested.

The tough police action has also left another US army veteran badly injured, the second such incident in just over a week.

In Washington, DC, police arrested three Occupy protesters. RT’s Lucy Kafanov says it came as police actions have sparked fury after a driver who injured three protesters was allowed to leave the scene.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the Oakland-style violence will not be repeated in his city, though adding that some of the behavior seen at Zuccotti Park will not be tolerated.

That has left protesters fearing that New York police could be preparing to shut down the camps, as RT's Marina Portnaya reports. more

Top FARC leader killed in military raid

Colombians rejoiced at the killing of top FARC rebel leader Alfonso Cano and hoped the biggest blow yet against Latin America’s longest insurgency could herald an end to nearly five decades of war.

In a triumph for President Juan Manuel Santos’ government, forces bombed a FARC jungle hideout in southwestern Cauca region on Friday, killing several rebels, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said.

Troops then rappelled down from helicopters to search the area, killing Cano in a gun battle a short time later.

Pictures of his dead body—with his trademark beard shaven off—were broadcast on television.

The death of the former student activist, who had a $3.7 million bounty on his head, is unlikely to spell a quick end to a war that has killed tens of thousands in the Andean nation.

But it will further damage the drug trade-funded rebels’ ability to coordinate high profile bombings, ambushes and kidnappings that have brought it worldwide notoriety.

“It is the most devastating blow that this group has suffered in its history,” Santos said in a brief televised address to the nation. more

Fukushima Japan Critical? Radioactive Mushrooms, Update 11/4/11

Money movers and Occupy Wall Street shakers rattle US banking world



In a national effort to make the so-called one per cent listen, hundreds of thousands of people have withdrawn money from leading banks in the United States. National Bank Transfer Day may be a grassroots movement – but it’s definitely making a move.

The idea behind the movement is simple: close accounts with the big guns and move your money to smaller players like credit unions. And it’s catching on as statistics show that since September 2011, over 650,000 people have made the swap, tired of hidden charges, poor customer service and overall corporate greed. Many say that despite the large number of people switching to credit unions, the impact of Move Your Money will not be felt by giants such as Chase, which holds nearly 30 million accounts nationwide.

America’s largest bank, as well as fellow fat cats Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, is keeping the exact number of recent account closures close to their chest. But even the recent decision made by Bank of America to back out of a proposed $5debit-card fee shows that the movement is making an impact. And the reports made by credit unions and community banks certainly support that story.

Neil Spoka, press secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign, told RT that it is not at all a surprise that people are making a change because there are a lot of better options out there. “There are a lot of safer bets, all over the country”, Spoka said. “In the United States, we have credit unions – and they’re a great alternative, they’re connected to the community and they’re a great way for the folks to get out from under the foot of the big corporate banks that are responsible for ruining the economy.”

Spoka also explained just why community banking is more efficient in the long run. “Your money stays in the community – and you don’t have to worry about increased banking fees in order to pay some fat cat’s salary.”

­With bankers insisting they have “a right to make profits,” Kristen Christian, the person who is spearheading the entire Bank Transfer Day, says that is exactly why she started the movement. more

Mississippi attempts to define the start of personhood

Gail Giaramita was walking door-to-door in this old cotton town on a recent afternoon, genially informing voters about the simple choice they faced when it came to Initiative 26, the statewide ballot measure that would define personhood as beginning at the moment of fertilization.

"If you believe that the unborn are human beings, you need to vote yes," Giaramita explained to W.L. Wilkins, proprietor of Big Mama's grocery store. "If you believe that women should continue to have the right to abort their babies, you need to vote no."

If that's all there was to it — if Initiative 26 would simply ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest — this proposed amendment to the state Constitution would be controversial enough. But opponents of the measure are warning of other potential consequences, including a ban on many birth control pills and a severe hampering of popular infertility treatments.

Proponents call these charges untrue "scare tactics."

Either way, the measure's passage would count as an unprecedented attempt to nullify the abortion right granted under Roe vs. Wade. Personhood USA, the main supporter of the Mississippi measure, says a victory here could "change [the] abortion debate," as part of a "larger, global movement to define when life begins in an effort to undercut the case for legalized abortion." more

‘Politicians can’t control Euro crisis’



As Greece awaits the formation of a new "unity" government, Arjo Klamer, chair of economics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, told RT that even if the new coalition is formed, it is unlikely to make any difference.

­“The big problem the Greek government has is to get its population behinds its plan. And it doesn’t seem that the people in Greece are willing to put up with all the measures that are being taken,” he explained.

The Greek PM must resign – that is the demand of the country’s opposition, if the political deadlock is to come to an end. The head of Greece's main opposition party said George Papandreou was "dangerous" and has called for early elections.

According to senior government officials, Papandreou could announce his resignation later on Sunday, hoping it will pave the way for the formation of a coalition government. Meanwhile Athens is fast running out of time to implement a crucial EU bailout plan intended to save the country from bankruptcy.

If George Papandreu resigns in the next few hours, this political solution will not do much good for the situation in Europe as a whole, believes Klamer.

“The Greek are rather disturbed, even though they say they want to hold on to the euro, they do not want to put up with the measures being imposed on them. The new government can create some sort of solution for some time, but the resistance is building up and then I see that the same thing is happening in Italy where they also have to take measures that the Italians are not willing to live with,” he stated. “I don’t think the politicians have the measures and instruments to control this crisis,” he added. more

Occupy Wall Street to attack banks with spam?



As the OWS movement continues to grow, the reports of arrests and violence in the streets have become a regular thing. And poet and editor Artie Moffa told RT about a new way for a protest message to get heard without any risk of violence.

­“I continue to get, like most people in America, these credit card mailers from the nation’s big banks,” Moffa said. “These are the same banks that ruined our economy by speculating and gambling on the housing market.”

Artie Moffa says that the companies which people are protesting against on the streets are the same ones that are clogging up their mailboxes.

“Inside these mailers is business reply mail envelopes,” he explained. “So I thought, rather than send back a credit card application, which is the last thing I want, I could communicate with the banks in this way.”

And because the banks pay more in postage for heavier envelopes, he suggests putting all junk mail inside the envelope together with a cheap wooden shim that will make the letter too rigid to be processed by the mail-folding machine.

“I can also put in a pro-union message for the people in the mailroom, letting them know that the 99 per cent includes them as well,” he added. source

Federal Agent arrested in shooting at Hawaii McDonald's

Authorities say a federal agent has been charged in a fatal shooting at a McDonald's in Hawaii.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/uI5TQZ) reported Sunday night that 27-year-old Christopher Deedy has been charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Bail was set at $250,000.

Honolulu Police Lt. Dwight Rodrigues says the victim has been identified as 23-year-old Kollin Elderts, a resident of Windward Oahu.

The shooting early Saturday in Waikiki comes as security is ramped up in the area ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which starts Tuesday. It was unclear whether Deedy was in Hawaii for APEC.

Rodrigues says Elderts suffered a single gunshot wound.

It was unclear whether the victim and suspect new each other.

Police say Deedy was arrested a short distance from the restaurant. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported he is a special agent with the U.S. State Department.

It remained unclear whether the two men knew each other. source

Ronald Reagan Statue Vandalized In Newport Beach: Thieves attempt to seize bronze statue with truck



A bronze statue of former President Ronald Reagan was vandalized early Sunday, according to officials.

Police received a call at approximately 5:30 Sunday morning about a possible vandalism in progress at the Bonita Canyon Sports Park.

A witness saw a suspect tie something around the top of the statue and the other end to the front of his vehicle. The witness said the suspect then got into his vehicle and put it in reverse in an attempt to pull the statue down.

The suspect, described as a male in dark clothing, fled the scene before officers arrived.

Police said the vehicle was a tan pickup with an extended cab, circa early 2000s.

It’s not known if the suspect was trying to simply cause damage to the statue or steal it, but officials believe the vandal may be a thief who hoped to take off with the statue and sell it as scrap.

City workers were called to assess the damage to the statue and decide it had to be removed because it was compromised.

There is no word from officials on when the statue can be replaced and put back on its pedestal.

The statue debuted last month during a dedication memorial to celebrate the former president’s 100th birthday. It is reportedly worth $60,000. more

Brazen Thief Snatches Gold Necklace From 93-Year-Old Woman Using A Walker



Norwalk police confirm to KCAL9 that the latest victim in a rash of snatch-and-run gold chain robberies was a 93-year-old woman.

A 14k gold necklace with a gold pendant – priceless to the victim because of its sentimental value — was stolen from the elderly woman’s neck as she walked near her home Thursday evening.

The pendant contained a picture of the victim and her late husband Anthony. Her husband of seventy years, who recently died.

Rose Veiga told KCAL9′s Serene Branson that the necklace obviously “meant a lot.”

The theft occurred, around 5 p.m., at the cross streets of Excelsior Drive and Corby Avenue. Veiga was taking a leisurely stroll — using her walker “so I’m slow” — near the house she has called home for sixty years.

She told Branson, “This guy comes so quick he didn’t yank the chain off my neck or he would have hurt me. He took it over [my] head.”

The pendant was given to her by the mortuary who conducted the funeral services for her husband. On one side there was a picture of the couple, on the other the words, “Always in my heart.”

Branson also spoke to a neighbor who was out walking his dog. Said Frankie, “All of a sudden I hear this scream and this guy was taking something from our neighbor.”

The teen says he gave chase but the thief hopped into the passenger side of a black sedan (possibly a Lexus) and sped off. He walked Veiga home and he said “she seemed scared. It was hard for her to walk back home.” more

Gang sets fire to newspaper office in Mexico

More than a dozen people barged into the offices of a newspaper in central Mexico on Sunday, dousing it with gasoline and setting it aflame.

Veracruz state Deputy Attorney General Enoch Maldonado said no injuries have been reported following the attack on the newspaper El Buen Tono in Cordoba, about 125 miles (210 kilometers) east of Mexico City. About 20 employees were inside the building at the time.

The newspaper, which began publishing a month ago, has sharply criticized some local authorities, but the motive for the attack is unclear and the state Attorney General's Office announced it was investigating the incident.

Veracruz state has seen an upsurge in violence recently as gangs battle over smuggling routes and extortion revenues.

The newspaper's telephone numbers rang busy Sunday and its website made no mention of the attack. source

Boy, 15, Charged With Murdering Off-Duty Officer: Chicago

A 15-year-old boy was charged with murder Saturday for allegedly beating to death an off-duty Chicago Police officer during a domestic dispute Friday morning at the South Side home she shared with several grandchildren.

The teen boy, 15, was charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery, police said. His name was not being released because he is a juvenile.

The boy is accused of killing an off-duty Chicago Police officer, identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office as 55-year-old Hester Scott.

Scott, of the 8800 block of South Wallace Avenue, was pronounced dead at her home at 4:25 p.m. Friday, the medical examiner’s office said. A Saturday autopsy determined she died of multiple injuries from an assault and her death was ruled a homicide.

Police said the woman was killed at 11:51 a.m. Friday, and responding investigators found an opened door when they arrived at the scene. She was off-duty at the time, police said.

A police source said the victim served as a police officer for 25 years. more

Italy: Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Save?

Italy's economic problems took center stage Monday as its government, led by increasingly threatened Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, faced yet another key vote.

The health of the euro zone's third-largest economy has come into focus despite Berlusconi accepting IMF monitoring and surviving several confidence votes in recent months.

Italy's size makes the potential consequences if it were to fail more wide-ranging than the much smaller Greece.

"Italy has much more systemic implications," Thanos Vamvakidis, Head of European G10 FX Strategy, BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, told CNBC Monday.

"It's too big to fail, too big to save."

The problems facing Italy include the euro zone's second-highest debt-to-GDP ratio, and the lack of a credible alternative to Berlusconi's government.

Italian MPs will vote Tuesday on the country's public finances, with a number of rebel MPs from Berlusconi's party threatening to vote against the government in protest at the way it has managed the country's finances.

Yields on Italian 10-year bonds surged last week, and are now dangerously close to the unsustainable 7 percent level. Other euro zone countries such as Portugal and Ireland had to seek bailouts after their yields rose to over 7 percent. more

North Texas Researchers Creating "Ultimate Flu Shot"



North Texas researchers are on the brink of revolutionizing the way we fight the flu.

Every year, scientists try to guess which strain of the flu will cause the most people to get sick. They use that particular flu bug to make a flu vaccine. But what if you could get one shot that would tackle every single type of flu?

Dena Rushing from Little Elm has not had the flu in years. “Overall, we’re a very healthy family, and very active,” she said. But it is not because she gets the flu shot. She used to get it, but said that she would always get sick. “I can’t remember a year I didn’t, and then I stopped taking it and I stopped getting the flu.”

Rushing believes that the inactive virus – which makes up the shot – is what is responsible for making her sick. Most doctors say that is not the case. But for her, experience speaks volumes. “We haven’t got it and we haven’t got the flu,” Rushing said.

Now, researchers in North Texas say that this fear could soon become a thing of the past.

“We are in the front line of discovery,” said Dr. Beatrice Fontoura. She and her team at UT Southwestern have discovered a compound that works to fight multiple strains of the flu, including the deadly Spanish Flu that killed millions of people around the world in 1918.

“What we are doing is something different,” said Fontoura, explaining her research. “We are actually stimulating our own response which is already there – boost it – to fight an infection.” more

IAEA says foreign expertise has brought Iran to threshold of nuclear capability

Intelligence provided to U.N. nuclear officials shows that Iran’s government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon, receiving assistance from foreign scientists to overcome key technical hurdles, according to Western diplomats and nuclear experts briefed on the findings.

Documents and other records provide new details on the role played by a former Soviet weapons scientist who allegedly tutored Iranians over several years on building high-precision detonators of the kind used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction, the officials and experts said. Crucial technology linked to experts in Pakistan and North Korea also helped propel Iran to the threshold of nuclear capability, they added.

The officials, citing secret intelligence provided over several years to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the records reinforce concerns that Iran continued to conduct weapons-related research after 2003 — when, U.S. intelligence agencies believe, Iranian leaders halted such experiments in response to international and domestic pressures.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog is due to release a report this week laying out its findings on Iran’s efforts to obtain sensitive nuclear technology. Fears that Iran could quickly build an atomic bomb if it chooses to has fueled anti-Iran rhetoric and new threats of military strikes. Some U.S. arms-control groups have cautioned against what they fear could be an overreaction to the report, saying there is still time to persuade Iran to change its behavior.

Iranian officials expressed indifference about the report.

“Let them publish and see what happens,” said Iran’s foreign minister and former nuclear top official, Ali Akbar Salehi, the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported Saturday.

Salehi said that the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program is “100 percent political” and that the IAEA is “under pressure from foreign powers.” more

'Cyborg' yeast genes run by computer

Scientists have succeeded in forming a "feedback loop" between a computer and a common yeast to precisely control the switching on and off of specific genes.

The computer controlled flashes of light to start and stop this gene expression, "learning" how to reach and maintain a set value.

The groundbreaking approach could find use in future efforts to control biological processes, such as the production of biofuel from microbes.

It appears in Nature Biotechnology.

The approach is a comparatively simple means to take control of fantastically complex biochemical processes to achieve a desired result.

"The neat thing about this is that there are many people who have tried to do things like this by, for example, coding in the cell itself a synthetic circuit, putting genes and mechanisms in the cell," said senior author John Lygeros, of the Automatic Control Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

"That's had limited success up to now."

Prof Lygeros and his colleagues started with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae - a well-studied strain of yeast familiar since ancient times in brewing and baking. more

Africa's ecological concerns in photographs

Russia: Israeli threat of strikes on Iran 'a mistake'

Military action against Iran would be a "very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences", Russia's foreign minister has warned.

Sergei Lavrov said diplomacy, not missile strikes, was the only way to solve the Iranian nuclear problem.

His comments come after Israeli President Shimon Peres said an attack on Iran was becoming more likely.

The UN's atomic watchdog is expected to say this week that Iran is secretly developing a nuclear arms capability.

Diplomats say the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, due for release on Tuesday or Wednesday, will produce compelling evidence that Iran will find hard to dispute.

Iran has always insisted that its nuclear programme is exclusively to generate power for civilian purposes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said the alleged evidence is a fabrication and part of a multi-pronged US smear campaign against his country. more

Thailand floods: Bangkok evacuation widens

Residents in more districts of the Thai capital have been warned to evacuate as flood water continues to move south towards the sea.

The water has now reached the outskirts of the inner city, although the authorities are still battling to keep the commercial heart of Bangkok dry.

Two more industrial estates are threatened, as well as the relocated flood emergency headquarters.

More than 500 people have lost their lives as a result of the floods.

Humanitarian organisations are now concerned about communities living among the increasingly dirty water, reports the BBC's Rachel Harvey in Bangkok. more

Japan detains China boat captain off Goto Islands

Japan's coast guard has arrested the captain of a Chinese fishing boat after his vessel strayed into Japan's waters.

The coast guard said the captain had refused to stop for an inspection near the south-westerly Goto Islands.

The Japanese authorities said the vessel then tried to flee, and was stopped only after a four and a half hour chase ended with a collision.

The arrest of another Chinese skipper last year caused a high-level spat between the two countries.

The latest incident took place about 100 miles (60km) from the Goto Islands on Sunday. The islands lie off the west coast of Nagasaki prefecture in the southern island of Kyushu.

The captain, named as Zhang Tianxiong, 47, reportedly faces up to six months in jail if convicted.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura played down any possible ramifications of the arrest, saying it was a "regular case" to be dealt with according to domestic law. more

Jerome Stephenson, Toronto man, charged after pushing his children and their mother out highrise window

A woman and two young children are in hospital after plunging from a fourth-floor apartment balcony in Toronto's east end.

A tearful 27-year-old man appeared in court on Sunday. Jerome Stephenson has been charged with attempted murder and other offences, police said.

Police went to the highrise apartment building at 550 Scarborough Golf Club Rd. around 4:30 p.m. Saturday after a report of trouble.

They found the girls — two years old and eight months old — conscious but in serious condition. The girls were taken to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, where by Sunday their condition had improved to fair. Doctors are hopeful both will survive, police said.

The woman, who was taken to Sunnybrook hospital, also suffered serious injuries but they were not considered life-threatening. more

Gift catalogue for homeless issued: Canada

A Charlottetown church is working with Grandmother's House women's shelter to make a few people's Christmases happier.

Calvary Church has issued a small catalogue of gifts for women at Grandmother's House. Using the catalogue people can purchase personal gifts, such as pajamas or a night at the movies, or practical gifts such as a hair cut or heating oil.

The house is run by the Native Council of P.E.I. for women who are temporarily homeless. Up to eight women can live there at any one time. Sherri Russell of Calvary Church visits there regularly.

"Most of us in the general population, we love Christmas. We love spending time with family, we love the presents, we love everything about it," said Russell.

"It's hard to know that some other people don't have that, so we want to give back a little bit of that to others."

Pam O'Neill, one of the home's managers, said the shelter, which receives no government funding, has been struggling financially. She believes the women staying at the shelter over Christmas will appreciate the gifts. more

South Korea to consider sending aide again to North, despite repeated attacks, despite North Korea's treatment of its people

Signaling South Korea may be attempting to cool tensions with its neighbor, Seoul has vowed to actively review sending humanitarian aid to North Korea through third channels.

In a meeting with the U.N. Secretary General in New York, South Korea's unification minister said he would consider the move amid growing concern over widespread malnutrition in North Korea.

"I will actively look into sending medical supplies to begin with and provide food aid for the young and vulnerable upon my return," said South Korea's Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik in a Friday meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Yu added the aid would be sent through international agencies.

Yu came into office in September vowing to create dialog with North Korea with a "firm but flexible" approach. more

Gadhafi's final moments in Sirte as described by an aide



Mansour Daou is known as the "Black Box" of Moammar Gadhafi's regime -- like an aircraft's data recorder, he knows some of Libya's darkest secrets.

And as one of Gadhafi's top security officials, who remained at his side until the final hours, Daou has a unique insight into the astonishing downfall of Africa's longest-serving leader.

Now in an interview with CNN he describes how the dictator, who was once of the world's most feared leaders, was forced to scavenge for food and hide in abandoned houses in the coastal city of Sirte.

"He was very worried and erratic -- this could be because he was afraid," Daou said.

According to Daou, Gadhafi became desperate to travel to his birthplace, the village of Jaref, 20 kilometers west of Sirte, a journey that Daou feared was "suicide."

"He wanted to go to his village, maybe he wanted to die there or spend his last moments there," he said.

Finally, after NATO jets attacked his convoy, Gadhafi tried to escape on foot through drainage pipes, but was caught. He was later killed in circumstances that are still far from clear. more

Italy is "the elephant in the room" -- the next country in Europe to collapse?

International Atomic Energy Agency report to detail efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon - 7th Nov 2011



In a report to be released early this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency will make the most detailed charges to date that Iran's nuclear program is geared toward weapons development and military use, several Western diplomats briefed on the report told CNN.

The diplomats said that the report will include more data than the organization has previously released on clandestine efforts by Iran to develop technologies to build a nuclear weapon, including computer models of a nuclear warhead. They argue the IAEA studies offer no other explanation for those efforts beyond Iran seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

Although previous IAEA reports have cited concerns by the organization that Iran has been seeking to develop nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles to deliver them, the diplomats said the upcoming report is expected to make the charges more explicitly. Read More

Russia warns against air strike on Iran - 7th Nov 2011

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavov has warned that a military strike on Iran would be a “very serious mistake” with “unpredictable consequences”, after Israel’s president Shimon Peres said that an attack was increasingly likely.

In comments published in the Israeli daily Hayom, Mr Peres said that “the possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option”.

"We must stay calm and resist pressure so that we can consider every alternative," he added.

The drumbeat of war is expected to grow louder this week when United Nations nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, issues its most detailed report to date on nuclear research in Iran.

It will provide what Western officials and experts regard as irrefutable evidence that Tehran is compiling the capacity and skills to build a bomb. It will be used as leverage for a fifth round of sanctions at the UN, but could also provide Israel, with the tacit support of Washington, to finalise plans for an air strike. Read More

Iran says: United States is using the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a tool against Iran - 7th Nov 2011

A senior member of Iran's Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami said Monday that the United States is using the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a tool against Iran.

Khatami said "the United States is using international organizations, including IAEA, as tools" to pressure Iran over its nuclear program, the state IRIB TV website reported on Monday.

Khatami, also the leader of Tehran's Friday prayers, made the remarks Monday when he led Tehran's Eid al-Adha prayers.

If the IAEA is turned into a tool at the hands of the United States against Iranians, it will discredit itself, he was quoted as saying.

Khatami made the remarks referring to the United Nations nuclear supervision agency IAEA's report on Iran's nuclear program which is expected to be released this week.

The report is likely to hint at Iran's engagement in nuclear weapons work despite UN sanctions.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano had said at the UN General Assembly that while it was too early to make conclusions just yet, the report might possibly exacerbate Middle East tensions.

Amano urged Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to prove that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Read More

Dead Seals tested positive for the Influenza A virus, New England - 6th Nov 2011

Federal officials are stepping up an investigation into the deaths of 146 harbor seals along the New England coast since September after samples of five of them tested positive for the Influenza A virus, authorities say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the deaths have been declared "an unusual event," enabling the agency to pour more resources into the probe. The declaration came after consultations with a panel of international experts established under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to monitor and investigate sea animal health concerns.

The 146 seals generally were less than a year old and had healthy appearances. They were found in Maine, New Hampshire — and across northern Massachusetts, including along Cape Ann.

At least two young seals were found dead in Rockport on Oct. 14 and 16.

The Whale Center of New England, based on Harbor Loop in Gloucester, has responded to calls to pick up the bodies of harbor seals that have washed up in Massachusetts, and interim executive director Dale Brown said her organization has brought the seals' bodies to the New England Aquarium to be necropsied.

NOAA officials had previously ruled out human involvement in the stranding — both direct involvement, including attacks on the animals, and indirect involvement, such as fishing entanglements. Read More