Friday, November 18, 2011

CERN: Second set of scientists find that particles can travel faster than light - but they still don't understand how

When physicists at CERN registered a result in September that showed tiny particles travelling at above the speed of light, they were so stunned that they tested the data for months before releasing it to the public.

The result - if true - would violate what Einstein considered the ultimate speed barrier for matter - in the process turning the world of physics upside down.

Many physicists scoffed, claiming that errors in the experiment must have distorted the result. One - Jim Al-Khalili - even promised to eat his own boxer shorts if the experiment was correct.

Now, a repeat of the experiment has shown the same result.

The Geneva-based body said today that in re-runs of the test between October 21 and November 6 scientists used 'tighter' bunches of neutrinos and changed the way their departure time was measured and got the same results, 'ruling out one potential source of systematic error'.

CERN said in a statement today: 'The new measurements do not change the initial conclusion (that the neutrinos broke the light barrier).

'Nevertheless, the observed anomaly in the neutrinos' time of flight from CERN to Gran Sasso still needs further scrutiny and independent measurement before it can be refuted or confirmed.' Read More

Adrian Prout: 'I confess, I’ll show you where I buried my wife': Millionaire murderer arrives in cuffs to lead police to woodland grave - 18th Nov

A businessman who was convicted of murdering his wife today took police to the spot where he had buried her body.

Officers faced the task of searching land at Red Hill Farm in Redmarley, Gloucestershire, after Adrian Prout, 49, finally confessed.

He is believed to have first told his fiancee, Debbie Garlick, on Wednesday that he killed Kate Prout. Ms Garlick then went to police to tell them about his admission. Yesterday two detectives visited him in prison where he confessed to the murder.

They hope they can find the body of Mrs Prout swiftly so her family - which has suffered from years of anguish - can find some form of closure.

While at the farm, Prout was removed from a green people carrier and put into a marked police 4x4 that drove him across a ploughed field towards woodland where he spent about 25 minutes.

Prout, who owned a successful pipe-laying business and ran a commercial pheasant shoot, and his retired teacher wife had a row and after killing her buried her body on his farm. Read More

Slaves freed in Sinai after CNN documentary airs



Hundreds of African refugees have been released from captivity in the Sinai Peninsula and allowed to cross from Egypt into Israel, shortly after a CNN documentary aired detailing the horrendous conditions the migrants face.

The report, "Death in the Desert," which was first broadcast on CNN International on November 5, showed evidence that African refugees, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, were being held captive by Bedouin human traffickers in Sinai, who try to extort massive sums of money from the refugees’ families for their release.

While in captivity the refugees are enslaved, many of the women raped and some even killed. The CNN crew even found evidence that some victims had organs extracted, a practice known as organ harvesting, and were later found dead in the desert.

Shortly after the documentary aired, more than 600 African refugees were released in Sinai, says Hamdi al Azzazy, an activist for the New Generation Foundation for Human Rights who has worked for years in the region, fighting to improve the plight of the African refugees.

His account was backed up by a press release from the EveryOne Group, an Italian non-governmental organization, which has also been raising public awareness about the refugees.

It said that after the CNN documentary aired "many chief-traffickers were afraid of being pursued by the authorities and on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 decided to release most of the groups of refugees they were holding prisoner." more

Middle-class families lose £2,000 of savings since the summer due to inflation, unemployment

Savings of middle-class families have fallen by £2,000 in just three months because of rising inflation and unemployment, a new survey has found.

Middle-income families have seen their savings drop at almost three times the rate of other social groups, as middle-aged people with children are disproportionately hit by the rising cost of groceries, utility bills and childcare.

Although official figures out earlier this week showed that the cost of living fell slightly in October, families are having to dip into their savings to pay for high heating bills, rising petrol prices and the cost of the weekly food shop.

According to ING Direct, the bank, a typical middle-class family with one parent earning over £47,000 has seen its bank savings fall from £5,570 to £3,621 since the summer, a decline of £1,949.

“Mid-life parents are losing out to the greatest degree,” said Richard Doe, the chief executive of ING Direct.

ING Direct’s quarterly Consumer Savings Monitor said that people aged between 35 and 54 with children are struggling to meet higher living costs because this age group spends more on food and fuel bills than other social groups. more

House prices to slump as mortgage lending falls: UK

House prices on course to fall by up to 5pc in 2012 as mortgage lending fails to recover amid the economic uncertainty.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said that gross mortgage lending was an estimated £13.1bn in October, a 4pc decrease from £13.7bn in September although it was 13pc higher than the £11.6bn lent in October 2010.

Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight said:” Mortgage lending is still very low compared to long-term norms; and, with the economic environment looking decidedly worrisome, we believe that house prices are headed downwards over the coming months. We currently see house prices falling by around 5pc by mid-2012.”

Last week Savills said that it expect prices to fall by 2pc in 2012 and to drop 11pc in "real" terms in the next five years, leaving them back at 2002 levels when the impact of inflation is stripped out.

CML chief economist Bob Pannell said: "The underlying picture in the housing and mortgage markets has not changed dramatically over recent weeks. The immediate direction of house purchase activity is a little unclear, although the story for remortgages, with strong year-on-year increases in activity this year, is for the time being more straightforward." more

We'd better get used to living with the euro crisis: It's the new normal

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to fixing the eurozone debt crisis at the moment. The first is that matters will come to a head around Spring and a solution will be found. The second is that matters will come to a head around Spring and the euro will implode, pitching the world into another great recession. As the second scenario is so unpalatable – and as we have repeatedly been told that it is entirely within the wit of Europe’s leaders to prevent it – hope quietly prevails.

That was certainly the message I got from John Cridland, directior general of the CBI, yesterday. “I think the least likely outcome is paralysis," he said. "I don’t think the eurozone crisis can rumble on forever. Europe’s politicians are edging towards a statisfactory resolution.” The CBI’s bleak UK growth forecasts, he said, are based on the assumption there is a solution of sorts by the Spring.

Cridland is not alone. IMF head Christine Lagarde has repeatedly said “there is a path to recovery” albeit “narrower than three years ago”, George Osborne this week claimed “the eurozone has the financial capacity to restore stability”, US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has argued “when France and Germany agree on a plan together and decide to act, big things are possible”. All clearly believe there is a way out.

But there is a third scenario. That the current stalemate persists throughout the year and deep into 2013, when the permanent European rescue mechanism is finally launched (that’s the ESM for lovers of acronyms). Stalemate would mean permanently elevated bond yields across the eurozone, with the sole exception of Germany. It would mean very weak growth across Europe, if any at all. It would mean markets in a constant state of anxiety, pitching back and forth on the whims of confidence.

If recent history has anything to teach us, it’s that the third scenario is the most likely – and Europe will revert to “kicking the can down the road”. Consider the recent past. The crisis flared up again earlier this year with Greece. Bond markets panicked and the panic spread to Spain. After some prevaricating, a deal was struck on July 21 for a second Greek bail-out and to beef up the bail-out fund. more

Scrap the Pound and join the sinking Euro! German minister claims Britain WILL join single currency as Merkel tries to scupper OUR vote - 18th Nov

Germany's Chancellor today denied the British people the chance for an EU referendum as as she said the eurozone crisis would be resolved without the UK's involvement.

Angela Merkel called for a 'limited treaty change' for further eurozone integration - exactly as spelled out in a leaked German memo which outlines an attempt to prevent a British referendum that could lead to powers being clawed back from Brussels.

Her extraordinary announcement came on the day that finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble predicted that the UK will have to adopt the euro 'faster than people think', despite the ongoing crisis in the single currency.

Germany's attempts to impose EU control on Britain, and the minister's astonishing outburst, will have increased the tensions between David Cameron and Mrs Merkel as they met in Berlin this morning.

The leaders are have clashed over German plans for a new tax on bank transactions and treaty change to shore up eurozone finances.

But at a press conference this afternoon, the pair ignored their differences and insisted that Britain and Germany will work together in a spirit of 'strong friendship'. Read More

A strong argument for elected governments

The past twenty years have witnessed a revolution. It has been carried out quietly and bloodlessly, but it is, in its way, as far-reaching a revolution as those of 1789, 1917 or 1979. The rule that had governed relations between states since the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 – the principle that each government was responsible for its internal affairs, and that crimes were the responsibility of the state on whose territory they were committed – has been overturned. A new legal order has been established, outside and above the nations.

The new order does not take its authority from a single treaty or charter. It is protean, residing in the hundreds of international accords, conventions and declarations that national courts treat as precedent. Nor is it limited in scope. Far from restricting itself to international questions, it presumes to regulate all manner of internal matters: the rights of refugees, the status of children, employment law, religious freedom and so on.

A corpus of law has been created without debate, without ratification by national legislatures, without democratic approval. Its motive force has been the activism of judges and the intimidating fervour of the human rights professionals.

So far, supra-nationalists have had it almost all their own way. In plush conference venues around the world, out from under the public eye, they have enlarged and developed their jurisdiction. Funded by the global NGOs and by UN agencies, they have had time and resources, motive and opportunity. Hardly anyone, by contrast, has much incentive to speak up for the majority. more

New Hampshire lawmakers challenge Obama's birth certificate, call it "forged"

Don't pencil in a victory for President Obama in New Hampshire's Democratic primary just yet. Today, the incumbent president must withstand a legal challenge that again questions his eligibility to seek the country's highest office.

At 2 p.m. in Room 307 of the legislative office building, the state's Ballot Law Commission is set to hear a complaint filed by Orly Taitz, a California lawyer who has continued to question the validity of Obama's birth certificate and Social Security number since his 2008 election.

Backing her complaint, Taitz said, are four Republican members of the New Hampshire House: Harry Accornero of Laconia, Larry Rappaport of Colebrook, and Lucien and Carol Vita of Middleton.

"There's sufficient controversy that I want it investigated," Rappaport, a Ron Paul supporter, said yesterday. "Every time this is brought up . . . we get a lot of flak, but we've never gotten an answer."

Obama released his birth certificate in response to media inquiries in 2008, but the document did little to quiet skepticism from the so-called "birther" movement. In April, in response to continued interest in the president's nationality - fueled by statements by real estate mogul Donald Trump as he toyed with a presidential run - Obama also released a copy of his long-form birth certificate. more

North Highlands Residents Angered By Broken Street Lights and Insatiable Copper Thieves



Copper thieves shut down street lights across North Highlands in recent weeks, and residents who have been living in darkened neighborhoods for nearly two months are losing patience with city officials.

Two North Highlands residents, Dorothy McEachern and Dauna Garton said their street has remained without lighting for seven weeks, and the fear that the darkened neighborhood could attract criminals is building.

“It’s scary, because you lay in bed at night and you hear things,” McEachern said. “You look out and you can’t see what’s going on out there.”

Sacramento County officials said 1,000 street lights have been affected by wire theft in recent weeks, and the county has already spent $160,000 repairing street lights this year.

Dorothy and Dauna said that doesn’t excuse the length of time they’ve remained in the dark.

“I’d like to see some lights back on,” Garton said. “This is getting ridiculous.” more

Online Hookups Blamed For Jump In Sexually Transmitted Disease

The accelerated pace of cyber courtship is getting part of the blame for an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

“You don’t have to spend a week in a bar to find somebody your comfortable with,” said St. Louis Health Director Pam Walker, “People are doing it online and they’re doing it faster.”

Walker says 90 percent of the some 400 new cases of gonorrhea and 126 new cases of chlamydia are African Americans between the ages of 15-to-24.

New numbers released today by the CDC also show 18 new cases of syphilis. Gay men who know they are HIV positive account for the all of the new syphilis cases, Walker said.

“Two people who know their status and know they are positive for HIV feel like they can have sex without a condom, because they’re already infected,” Walker said, “And what they’re doing is giving each other syphilis.”

With syphilis up 46 percent, gonorrhea up 31 percent and chlamydia up three-percent, Walker says none of the increases appear linked to any cutbacks in health department spending. more

Cameron And Merkel Agree To Disagree Over Eurozone - 18th Nov 2011

:: Mrs Merkel wants a new tax on financial transactions in Europe, claiming it will raise billions, but Mr Cameron is opposed to it
:: Mrs Merkel wants a treaty change to encourage closer eurozone integration but Mr Cameron has pledged to take powers back from Brussels
:: Mr Cameron wants the European Central Bank to be able to bail out debt-ridden countries, but Mrs Merkel has said "no":

David Cameron and Angela Merkel have said that Britain and Germany will work together in a spirit of "strong friendship" despite their differences over the way forward in the eurozone debt crisis.

Speaking after talks in Berlin, the two leaders stressed areas of agreement over measures to improve competitiveness in Europe economies, hold down the EU budget and encourage member states to deal with their debts and deficits.

But they admitted they had failed to narrow substantial differences over Germany's demand for treaty change to prevent a repeat of the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.

No progress was made on the issue of a Financial Transaction Tax, which Britain opposes.

The Prime Minister said: "It is obvious that we don't agree on every aspect of European policy, but I am clear that we can address and accommodate and deal with those differences."

The German Chancellor added: "The UK and Germany need each other in the European Union and we need to stand together in these challenging times.

"Whatever problems David and I have had we have always found a solution to them." Read More

Gary Brown: Detroit could run out of cash in December, plan must include layoffs

With Detroit Mayor Dave Bing preparing to explain the city's fiscal crisis tonight in a rare televised address, Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown says the situation is even worse than anyone has let on.

Bing is expected to discuss a confidential Ernst & Young report obtained by the Detroit Free Press that suggests Detroit could run out of cash by April without steep cuts to staff and public services.

That's a grim prognosis, but according to Brown, the city actually could be unable to make payroll "as early as December."

"I know the report says April, but there are certain risk assumptions that when you take those into consideration, worst case scenario you could run out (of cash) in December," Brown said this morning on WJR-AM 760.

In his speech tonight, Bing is expected to propose privatizing the city's public bus system and lighting departments, both of which have have been failing residents but reportedly cost them $100 million a year in subsidies.

Brown supports that long-term plan, but he is hoping the mayor will couple it with a short-term strategy to lay off up to 2,300 city workers if unions fail to agree to long-discussed concessions.

If Bing doesn't, City Council will.

"If the mayor tonight comes out with a plan that does not address the short-term and long-term issues, the Council is going to come out with a plan. We're going to put it in a resolution, send it to the governor and say 'We're willing to make these cuts.'" source

GE Filed 57,000-Page Tax Return, Paid No Taxes on $14 Billion in Profits

General Electric, one of the largest corporations in America, filed a whopping 57,000-page federal tax return earlier this year but didn't pay taxes on $14 billion in profits. The return, which was filed electronically, would have been 19 feet high if printed out and stacked.

The fact that GE paid no taxes in 2010 was widely reported earlier this year, but the size of its tax return first came to light when House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan (R, Wisc.) made the case for corporate tax reform at a recent townhall meeting. "GE was able to utilize all of these various loopholes, all of these various deductions--it's legal," Ryan said. Nine billion dollars of GE's profits came overseas, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. tax law. GE wasn't taxed on $5 billion in U.S. profits because it utilized numerous deductions and tax credits, including tax breaks for investments in low-income housing, green energy, research and development, as well as depreciation of property.

"I asked the GE tax officer, 'How long was your tax form?'" Ryan said. "He said, 'Well, we file electronically, we don't measure in pages.'" Ryan asked for an estimate, which came back at a stunning 57,000 pages. When Ryan relayed the story at the townhall meeting in Janesville, there were audible gasps from the crowd.

Ken Kies, a tax lawyer who represents GE, confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD the tax return would have been 57,000 pages had it been filed on paper. The size of GE's tax return has more than doubled in the last five years. source

Hungary likely source of elevated radioactivity levels: IAEA

Elevated levels of the radioactive element iodine-131 that were detected in several nations have been identified as likely originating at a Hungarian research institute, nuclear authorities said Thursday.

Hungarian officials said the leak probably came from the Budapest-based Institute of Isotopes, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

The institute has acknowledged emitting higher quantities of iodine-131 than normal but denies being the source of any elevated radiation.

"Radiation levels in Hungary were only a little higher in Budapest than elsewhere," said Institute of Isotopes director Mihaly Lakatos.

"If the source of heightened radioactivity had been Budapest, the levels measured here should have been much higher."

On November 11, several countries including Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and the Czech republic warned the IAEA that they had detected an increase in iodine-131.

France's nuclear watchdog also reported on November 15 that very small concentrations of iodine 131 had been detected in the air.

The international agency said the levels detected were low and that there was no risk to human health.

Officials said the amount of the radioactive element released was equivalent to 0.01 microsieverts. The average person is exposed to 2,400 microsieverts annually through background radiation. more

How America should adjust to the Pacific century

How many ways are there to say you’re back? In 2010, Hillary Clinton grabbed Beijing’s lapels when she declared the South China Sea, claimed in its entirety by China, was also a vital American interest. A few weeks ago, the secretary of state published a lengthy piece in Foreign Policy magazine in which she laid out the terms of what she called America’s Pacific Century. And this week, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Honolulu, Barack Obama talked about hardly anything else. “The US is a Pacific power and we’re here to stay,” he said. The message is clear. America is back. And by the way, it never left.

In her essay, Mrs Clinton elaborates on what kind of engagement she favours. “We must create a rules-based order – one that is open, free, transparent and fair.” America, she says, is uniquely placed to create such an order and to police it. “We are the only power with a network of strong alliances in the region, no territorial ambitions, and a long record of providing for the common good.” more

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:39:41 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 47 km ( 29 miles) Northeast of Van, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOLOMON ISLANDS - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Solomon Islands at a depth of 62.4 km (38.8 miles), the quake hit at 16:46:53 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 90 km ( 55 miles) SSW of Arawa, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

EU says water no healthy: No water sold in EU can claim to fight dehydration (No, really)

THE EU was ridiculed last night after it took three years to issue a new rule that water cannot be sold as healthy.

In a scarcely believable ­ruling, a panel of experts threw out a claim that regular water consumption is the best way to rehydrate the body.

The bizarre diktat from Brussels has far-reaching implications for member states, including Britain, as no water sold in the EU can now claim to protect against dehydration.

Any producer breaching the order, signed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, faces being jailed for up to two years. It took the 21 scientists on the panel three years of analysis into the link between water and dehydration to come to their extraordinary conclusion. more

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake KAMCHATKA PENINSULA, RUSSIA - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia at a depth of 109.6 km (68.1 miles), the quake hit at 14:00:10 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 65 km ( 40 miles) Southwest of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Antibiotic-resistant infections spread through Europe

The world is being driven towards the "unthinkable scenario of untreatable infections", experts are warning, because of the growth of superbugs resistant to all antibiotics and the dwindling interest in developing new drugs to combat them.

Reports are increasing across Europe of patients with infections that are nearly impossible to treat. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) said yesterday that in some countries up to 50 per cent of cases of blood poisoning caused by one bug – K. pneumoniae, a common cause of urinary and respiratory conditions – were resistant to carbapenems, the most powerful class of antibiotics.

Across Europe, the percentage of carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae has doubled from 7 per cent to 15 per cent. The ECDC said it is "particularly worrying" because carbapenems are the last-line antibiotics for treatment of multi-drug-resistant infections.

Marc Sprenger, the director, said: "The situation is critical. We need to declare a war against these bacteria."

In 2009, carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae was established only in Greece, but by 2010, it had extended to Italy, Austria, Cyprus and Hungary. The bacterium is present in the intestinal tract and is transmitted by touch. more

Germany's secret plans to derail a British referendum on the EU

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is today expected to tell David Cameron that Britain does not need a referendum on EU treaty changes, despite demands from senior Conservatives for more powers to be repatriated to Britain.

The leaked memo, written by the German foreign office, discloses radical plans for an intrusive new European body that will be able to take over the economies of beleaguered eurozone countries.

It discloses that the EU’s largest economy is also preparing for other European countries, which are too large to be bailed out, to default on their debts — effectively going bankrupt. It will prompt fears that German plans to deal with the eurozone crisis involve an erosion of national sovereignty that could pave the way for a European “super state” with its own tax and spending plans set in Brussels.

Britain would be relegated to a new outer group of EU members who are not in the single currency. Mr Cameron will today travel to Brussels and Berlin for tense negotiations with Mrs Merkel amid growing disagreement between the leaders over how to deal with the eurozone.

The Prime Minister is increasingly exasperated that Germany refuses to provide more financial help for Italy and other struggling countries amid concerns that the crisis is having a “chilling effect” on the British economy. Mrs Merkel yesterday said she expected Mr Cameron to “examine a stronger involvement with other countries” once the eurozone crisis had been resolved. more

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 38.3 km (23.8 miles), the quake hit at 13:55:03 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 106 km ( 65 miles) East of Morioka, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Pentagon successfully tests hypersonic flying bomb -- can hit anywhere on Earth within an hour

The Pentagon on Thursday held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than a hour.

Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT, the "Advanced Hypersonic Weapon," or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific "at hypersonic speed" before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said.

Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii. The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which unlike a ballistic missile is maneuverable.

Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those that exceed Mach 5 -- or five times the speed of sound -- 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) an hour.

The test aimed to gather data on "aerodynamics, navigation, guidance and control, and thermal protection technologies," said Lieutenant Colonel Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman. more

Adapt to extreme weather or pay price, expert warns

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set to release a report Friday examining the risks posed by the extreme weather events that are becoming increasingly frequent around the world. We talked to one of the report's co-ordinating lead authors about what general trends he and his colleagues found when drafting the report and how these trends might impact Canada.

Gordon McBean is a professor of geography and political science at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., and the director of policy studies at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. He is also chair of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Studies and president-elect of the International Council for Science. more

Worst extinction ever linked to massive CO2 spill

Scientists finally know the date — and hence the likely cause — of a massive extinction that wiped out 95 per cent of life in the oceans and 70 per cent of life on land more than 200 million years ago.

The end-Permian mass extinction — the most severe mass extinction ever — peaked 252.28 million years ago, reports a new study published Thursday in Science.

Most affected species met their demise within 20,000 years — a blink of an eye on the geological timescale. In all, the mass extinction lasted less than 200,000 years, wiping out huge forests of conifer trees, tree ferns, big amphibians, large reptiles such as dimetrodons, mammal ancestors called synapsids and a huge diversity of fish and shellfish. more

China warns US on South China Sea dispute

China has warned "external forces" not to get involved in its maritime disputes with neighbouring countries over the South China Sea.

In comments apparently directed at the US, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the disputes should be resolved by "relevant sovereign states".

Mr Wen spoke at a regional summit in Bali that US President Barack Obama is also attending.

But other nations want the contentious issue to be tackled at the forum.

The South China Sea contains some of the world's busiest shipping lanes, as well as oil and gas reserves.

China claims a huge U-shaped area of the sea - a claim that overlaps areas which Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei say belong to them.

China's increasingly assertive behaviour over its claim in recent months has alarmed several of its neighbours.

They are keen to negotiate with China as a bloc - but China prefers to tackle the issue through bilateral negotiations, and it does not want the US involved at all. more

Egypt: Thousands protest in Cairo against military

Tens of thousands of Egyptians are holding a rally in Cairo to protest against Egypt's military rulers.

Demonstrators from across the political spectrum have gathered in Tahrir Square after the military council proposed controversial constitutional changes.

Many Egyptians fear the military is trying to entrench its power.

Egypt has been ruled by a military council since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February. Parliamentary elections are due this month.

The protest, and another in Egypt's second city, Alexandria, are demanding the withdrawal of proposals for constitutional change by the military authorities. more

Myth that antibiotics cure coughs and colds still rife -- contributing to abuse?

A quarter of people wrongly believe antibiotics work on most coughs and colds, a Health Protection Agency survey has found.

However antibiotics cannot treat viruses, which cause most respiratory tract infections.

The HPA poll of 1,800 people in England also found one in 10 people keep leftover antibiotics - and many would self-medicate next time they got ill.

A leading GP said antibiotics were not a "cure all".

An expert in immunity and infection is also warning that the misuse of antibiotics, and drug companies' failures to develop new ones, could lead to a rise in untreatable infections.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said that antimicrobial resistance "is one of the most serious public health challenges that we face in the EU" and could cost at least 1.5bn euros.

Speaking on European Antibiotics Awareness Day, the HPA's Dr Cliodna McNulty said self-medicating was unsafe and could fuel drug resistance.

Dr McNulty, head of primary care for the HPA, said: "The majority of people can treat themselves at home using over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms." more

Taiwan moves to legalize oldest profession

In Taiwan, legislation is moving towards legalizing the world’s oldest profession, but in practice the trade remains largely underground.

Under the revised Social Order Maintenance Act, which went into effect in early November, prostitution is legal in designated red-light districts, but so far no local governments have been willing to create these zones, rendering prostitution anywhere illegal.

“You [the government] tell us that both the sex worker and the client would not be penalized within the district, but where is it?” Chung Chun-chu, secretary general of the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters told the Taipei Times. “So far, none of the local governments have any plans to create red-light districts.”

All 22 county and city mayors have expressed concern that creating prostitution districts would lead to increased crime and plummeting property values, according to an Apple Daily survey.

“We will not consider opening a sex trade zone because there is no public consensus on this highly controversial issue,” Edward Zhang, spokesman for the Taipei City Government, told the Taipei Times.

The new amendment also overturns Article 80 of the act which criminalized prostitutes but not their clients based on its unconstitutionality.

Now, both sex workers and their customers could be fined up to NT$30,000 ($994) for engaging in prostitution outside of these designated areas. Brothel owners operating outside the red-light districts would also face fines of up to NT$50,000 ($1,655). more

Alarm in China as real estate prices fall



As China's cooling real estate sector shows no sign of easing, some struggling companies are taking creative measures to attract buyers with promotions such as free iPhones, name brand bags and even luxury cars.

The promotions are desperate measures as China's housing prices continue to plummet.

In one of the biggest dips this year, October home prices fell across China in 33 of 70 cities like Shanghai, Wenzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou year-on-year, according to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday.

In Wenzhou in China's eastern province of Zhejiang, property prices dropped the most among 70 cities with a 4.4% dip compared to 0.5% in Beijing and 0.2% in Shanghai. It's a significant blow to developers that have experienced years of prosperous growth in the wealthy coastal city of Wenzhou.

The downturn has forced developers to get creative. Buyers are flocking to one real estate company in Wenzhou that's giving away free BMWs with every purchase to its first 150 buyers. The promotion has already attracted 130 buyers in the past two weeks , the company said.

"Because of the current cooling real estate market, we want to sell these homes faster," said Lin Jianzhong, a sales agent at Central Palace, a new 900-unit housing complex being built in the suburb of Yueqing in Wenzhou. more

On this, deficit committee members agree: "Time is running out": US

Republican and Democratic members of the special congressional committee tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion from the national budget deficit over the next 10 years haven't agreed on much since they began their work in September.

But there is one thing on which they do agree now.

"Time is running out," Democratic Rep. Chris van Hollen and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey each said in separate Friday morning appearances on CNN.

The committee has until Wednesday to come to an agreement on cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the nation's deficit over the next 10 years. Failure would result in $1.2 trillion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts starting in 2013, evenly divided between defense and non-defense spending.

"It's not going to be easy," Toomey, R-Pennsylvania said. "Time is running out, but it hasn't run out yet. So we're here. We're working. We're talking. It's difficult, but it's still possible."

Democrats led by President Barack Obama are seeking a comprehensive agreement that includes equal portions of new tax revenue, spending cuts and reforms to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. more

China air pollution: 'Slightly polluted' or 'hazardous'?

As I type this week's column, I look out of my office window and stare at a depressing sight. A heavy blanket of smog and dust hangs over the sky. Buildings nearby are barely visible. Air is barely breathable.

I checked the website of the China National Environmental Monitoring Center. It rated Beijing's air quality for the day as "slightly polluted".

On Twitter, however, the U.S. Embassy's BeijingAir, an air-quality monitoring app, rated the air pollution level as "hazardous."

What gives?

I visited the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center (BMEMC) to find out. "We've been using equipment imported from the U.S. to monitor air quality ever since we set up in 1987," Vice Director Hua Lei tells me. "We use the same techniques as the American system." more

8 months of violence in Syria

German Army Glorifies Violence in their New Advertising on Youtube - 18th Nov 2011



The German Government has removed an informative advertising video about their forces from Youtube, as the creators of the video were accused of glorifying violence.

This has not been the official reason given for the withdrawal in Berlin today. The short advert does not have any text which contrary to the rules of the German Government Information according to a government spokesmen.

Instead the video was accompanied by a German Hard Rock anthem. Source

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake WASHINGTON - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Washington at a depth of 5.1 km (3.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:09:00 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 9 km ( 5 miles) WSW of Riverside, Washington
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Note: Unconfirmed reports suggest this could of been a 4.6 magnitude, I am unable to get access to the stations at the moment so will check this when they become available.

UPDATE: Confirmed the earthquake which stuck Washington today at 13:09:00 UTC was a 4.6 Magnitude.

Violence flares as demonstrations against economic crisis spread around the globe - 18th Nov 2011

Confrontation and violence marked street demonstrations against the economic crisis across the globe yesterday, as showdowns between police and protesters flared in Italy, Greece and the US, while London's demonstrators prepared for battle in the courts.

Italian students armed themselves with firecrackers, rocks, eggs and smoke bombs as widespread disturbances broke out across the country. Police in Milan used pepper spray to counter protests against the "bankers' government" of the new Prime Minister Mario Monti, while anarchists clashed with officers in Turin, authorities charged students in Palermo, and Bari and Rome saw their own demonstrations.

Fire bombs and tear gas left clouds hanging above Athens last night, after between 20,000 and 50,000 protesters marched through the Greek capital only to come up against 7,000 police officers. In a country where street clashes sparked by rage at government austerity measures have become commonplace this year, yesterday's march was even more angry than usual due to the anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic uprising, when Greece's military junta sent in troops to put down a student demonstration in 1973.

There were 60 arrests, but no injuries were reported despite the police's use of stun grenades. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck South of Java, Indonesia at a depth of 40 km (24.8 miles), the quake hit at 12:23:55 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 314 km ( 195 miles) SSW of Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Veracruz, Mexico at a depth of 139.9 km (86.9 miles), the quake hit at 11:56:42 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 69 km ( 43 miles) SSW of Las Choapas, Veracruz, Mexico
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

EL Hierro, Restless volcano a ticking time bomb - 18th Nov 2011

Steaming magma is bubbling onto the sea surface. The earth shakes, and a smell of sulphur floats in the air.

For over a month, residents of the Spanish Canary Island of El Hierro have lived with an active underwater volcano that not only poses a security threat, but also scares off tourists and endangers the inhabitants' livelihoods.

Volcanic eruptions could continue for weeks, civil protection science representative Carmen Lopez said this week.

However, the situation has been deemed safe enough for the 550 evacuated residents of the fishing village of La Restinga to return home, though the island was still being hit by earthquakes.

The earth began trembling on El Hierro on July 19, in a sign that magma was rising towards the surface of the smallest Canary Island.

The island of 11,000 residents has a large volcano and more than 250 craters. But its volcanic power had been dormant for centuries, with the last eruption reported in 1793.

El Hierro has now experienced more than 11,000 earthquakes since July. The vast majority were not noticed by the population, but grew in intensity.

Dozens of people were evacuated for fear of rockslides in September, and an army unit was put on standby to help in the event of a mass evacuation.

An underwater eruption occurred on October 10, following an earthquake of a magnitude greater than 4. Scientists observing seismic activity confirmed the eruption. Dead fish were seen floating on the water.

Volcanic activity has since continued intermittently, with witnesses reporting jets of gas and ash spewing several metres above sea level.

The eruptions have sent a large volume of greenish magma spilling into the sea. Read More

North Korea tried to export banned chemical protective suits to Syria - 18th Nov 2011

A North Korean ship apparently headed for Syria was found to have been carrying a large number of protective suits for handling chemical weapons, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning it from exporting arms-related material, U.N. diplomats said Thursday.

Greek authorities submitted two reports about its seizure of the shipment to the Security Council in September of this year, although the incident occurred almost two years ago, the diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

A diplomat close to the investigation confirmed that the shipment appeared to have been bound for the principal port city of Latakia in Syria and was not concealed as other seized items have been in the past.

Multiple sources said that during a closed-door meeting held Wednesday, several countries expressed concerns over the incident and called for the U.N. committee on North Korean sanctions to continue its investigation. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake MOLUCCA SEA, INDONESIA - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck the Molucca Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 81.5 km (50.6 miles), the quake hit at 10:54:19 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 153 km ( 95 miles) Southeast of Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

3.2 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 18th Nov 2011

A magnitude 3.2 earthquake has struck Northern California at a depth of just 2.6 km (1.6 miles), the quake hit at 10:59:48 UTC Friday 18th November 2011.
The epicenter was 5 km ( 3.1 miles) Northwest of The Geysers, California
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Syria Ready To Allow Arab Observers Into Country - 18th Nov 2011

Syria is ready to allow a senior Arab League mission into the country to try to help end the bloodshed, Sky sources say.

The Arab League suspended Syria earlier this week over its deadly crackdown on an eight-month-old uprising that the UN says has killed some 3,500 people.

The 22-member body gave Syrian president Bashar al Assad three days to halt the violence and allow in observers to monitor the situation.

It also pledged to introduce economic sanctions if the deadline is not met.

A Sky source said: "Syria has agreed to allow a senior Arab League mission into the country.

"It has taken 36 hours of frantic discussions between Damascus and the Arab League to reach this agreement.

"The deadline by the Arab League is Saturday. Syria is confident it has fulfilled all demands by the Arab League and is ready to sign as soon as the Arab League are ready."

The country's foreign minister is expected to make the announcement later.

It comes a day after Sky revealed that Britain, France and Germany are pushing for a UN vote to condemn the Syrian regime for its ongoing military crackdown against civilians.

Speaking on Friday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that tougher sanctions were needed on Syria and that France was ready to work together with the Syrian opposition.

More follows...

Six dead, including three-year-old girl, and dozens injured after 25 ferocious tornadoes rip through southern states - 18th Nov 2011

Six people have been killed, including a three-year-old girl, and dozens injured after 25 tornadoes tore across the Southeast.

In North Carolina, the toddler was found buried under a pile of shattered furniture along with her 50-year-old grandmother. Their small house in a rural area of Lexington had been ripped clean from its foundations.

The storms left at trail of debris that stretched for at least seven miles, with a dozen people taken to hospital.

Firefighters and volunteers in Lexington searched for the child, whose name wasn't immediately released, for more than two hours. Read More

U.S. Special Agent Christopher Deedy in Hawaii for work 'shot dead unarmed man in McDonald's because he was bullying people' - 18th Nov 2011

Attorneys for a federal agent charged with killing a man in a McDonald's restaurant in Hawaii says his client was protecting himself and others, despite his victim being unarmed.

State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy made his first court appearance Thursday on charges of second-degree murder in the November 5th shooting of 23-year-old Kollin Elderts of Kailua.

The 27-year-old agent from Arlington, Va., was in Honolulu to help with security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Attorney Brook Hart told The Associated Press the early-morning incident started because Elderts 'was harassing and bullying another person' at the McDonald's.

Hart says Deedy has been staying in Honolulu with his wife since he was released on $250,000 bond. Read More

Anonymous - Fawkes Virus, Initiated - 17th Nov 2011

New York uprising: Thousands of Occupy protesters storm Brooklyn Bridge as 300 arrested in clashes with police - 18th Nov 2011

Occupy protesters invaded New York City's Brooklyn Bridge last night marking two months since the birth of the movement that has rocked Wall Street and spread to the rest of the world.

Activists, led largely by banner-carrying union members, marched under the backdrop of a powerful light projection on the side of a nearby skyscraper that read: 'We are the 99 percent' - a reference to the Americans who aren't super-rich. At least a dozen were arrested during the demonstration.

It came after a day of clogged streets and tied up traffic across Manhattan, as thousands jammed into Foley Square before and marched into the subway as part of a planned 'day of national action'.

The protest continued into the early hours of this morning - but now just 100 people are left in Zuccotti Park. A rally is planned for 12noon today, at Foley Square, against the oppression of the Muslim community in the city. Read More

Russian allies urge Syria to end deadly crackdown before full-scale 'civil war' breaks out - 17th Nov 2011

Syrian allies China and Russia expressed serious concern Thursday over the spiraling crisis in Syria and called for immediate talks as pressure mounted on President Bashar Assad to end the deadly crackdown on dissent.

Assad is facing severe international isolation stemming from his crackdown on an 8-month-old uprising, which the U.N. estimates has killed 3,500 people. The Arab League suspended Damascus on Wednesday and threatened economic sanctions if the violence continues.

China and Russia have kept up their long-standing ties with Damascus, however, in October they vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that threatened sanctions against Syria.

But on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin appeared to suggest China might support a resolution in the future.

'It depends on whether these actions will help to resolve the tensions in Syria and facilitate the resolution of disputes through political dialogue,' he said.

He called on both sides in the conflict to work together. Later in the day, Russia urged Syria and the opposition to start talks.

'We think that it is necessary to start talks on the peaceful settlement in Syria by all parties,' Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. He said the talks should be held at Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

The development came after the renegades who have taken on the Syrian forces were pictured for the first time.

Gripping AK-47s and with their faces covered, the troops made public a picture of themselves as they struggle against the government.

The hardened group of Arab fighters are believed to be army defectors who have this week turned the tide on president Bashar Assad. Read More

Springtime for Merkel, starring in no particular order... - 18th Nov 2011

The crisis in the Eurozone goes from bad to worse, with two democratically-elected national leaders deposed already on the orders of the shadowy, federalist Frankfurt Group. Other countries teeter on the brink of financial and political turmoil.

Greek newspapers are depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel as Adolf Hitler, after she warned menacingly that unless the whole of Europe takes orders from Germany, the peace which has been maintained since the end of World War II cannot be guaranteed.

This seems like a good time to revive Mel Brooks’ masterpiece, The Producers.

In the movie, theatrical impresario Max Bialystock and his accountant Leopold Bloom set out to stage a musical, Springtime For Hitler, which will be a sure-fire flop. That way, Max can defraud his investors and make a fortune.

The euro, on the other hand, was designed to be a sure-fire success and has ended up defrauding an entire Continent. Source

The Eurozone is having trouble, what a sad, sad story, Europe needs a leader to restore its former glory,

Where, oh where, is she? Right here, in Germany.

She’s the one we need right now, The original Iron Frau.

And so it’s . . .

Springtime for Merkel and Germany, Meltdown for Ireland and Greece, We’re marching forward to bankruptcy,

Watching the death of democracy . . .

**

Showtime for President Sarkozy, The markets are downgrading France, Bang goes the doomed single currency,

Come on Germans, go into your dance. In East Berlin, the volk are hurtin’ Should have stayed behind the Iron Curtain.

Don’t be stupid, be a smarty, Forget the Bunga Bunga Party.

Springtime for Merkel and Germany, Riots in Lisbon and Spain, Berlusconi is toppled in Italy,

And Deutschland is rising again . . .

**

Springtime for Merkel and Germany, Bail-outs for Europe’s bust banks, Billions of euros gone down the drain,

Come on Germans, start revving your tanks. Listen to Angela’s sermon. All of Europe’s speaking German.

Springtime for Merkel and Germany, Doomsday for Athens and Rome, You don’t want to make us your enemy,

We’re creating a brand new hegemony . . .

**

Crunch time for Britain and Cameron, Protests on the steps of St Paul’s, The Tories want out of the Union,

But Cleggy’s got Dave by the . . .

Springtime for Merkel and Germany, Panic on Wall Street and the DAX, The Bundesbank’s final solution is,

Make the City of London pay tax.

**

Come on Mervyn, be a honey, Give us all the City’s money.

Springtime for Merkel and Germany, We’re building a new Fourth Reich, This shouldn’t come as a mystery,

Not if you study your history . . .

**

(Grand finale)

And so it’s . . .

Springtime for Merkel and Germany, The euro is dead on the floor, Frankfurt is dictating policy,

And soon we’ll be going, Yes, we are going,

It looks like we’re going to war!

German plot to block OUR euro referendum as Cameron flies to Berlin - 18th Nov 2011

A Picture is worth more than a thousand words

Germany has drawn up secret plans that could prevent Britain holding a referendum on moves to transfer more powers to Brussels, it was revealed today.

The shock memo will increase the tensions between David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they meet in Berlin this morning, with the Prime Minister trying to head off plans for a 'two-speed' Europe.

The leaders are set to clash over German plans for a new tax on bank transactions and treaty change to shore up eurozone finances.

Berlin is hoping to create an intrusive body that could take over the economies of beleaguered eurozone countries.

A leaked memo by German foreign office officials reveals that Berlin is bracing itself for other EU nations, which are too large to be bailed out, to default on their debts, effectively going bankrupt.

The six-page document says Germany wants to set up a European Monetary Fund to take over failing economies.

Entitled The Future of the EU, it calls for closer ‘political union’ while examining ways to limit treaty changes in an attempt to prevent countries such as Britain from holding a referendum. Read More

Note: Throughout history the Germans seem to have had a fanatical fascination about Uniting Europe, has anything really changed?

"The hand of God is creating a new world & working miracles...We are becoming the United States of Europe under German Leadership, a United European Continent"

- Wilhelm II - 1940

"The year 1941 will be, I am convinced, the Historical year of the Great European New Order"

- Adolf Hitler


"Whoever Dominates Europe will thereby assume the leadership of the world"

- Joseph Goebbels 8th May 1943

Article daily mail 17th Nov 2011:

Germany has not been so powerful since 1941 when most of Europe was under her sway and her army was carving its way through the Soviet Union. I obviously do not mean to suggest the country is again hell-bent on that kind of world domination. My point is that post-war Germany has finally come of age.

Over recent days, a European cabal led by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has effectively engineered the removal of prime ministers Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and George Papandreou in Greece, and ensured their replacements by so-called technocrats who are supposed to o what they are told.

A pro-active and confident Germany is making the running, and unashamedly so, in a way she has not presumed to do since World War II. Nor is the German government any longer reticent about publicly instructing other European countries, including Britain, about how to behave. Read More

Arkansas fault could trigger magnitude 7 Earthquake - 22nd Jan 2009

Reader Contribution;

A previously unknown fault in eastern Arkansas could trigger a magnitude 7 earthquake with an epicenter near a major natural gas pipeline, a scientist said Wednesday. Haydar Al-Shukri, the director of the Arkansas Earthquake Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the fault is separate from the New Madrid fault responsible for a series of quakes in 1811-12 that caused the Mississippi River to flow backward.

Acres of cotton fields cover the fault west of Marianna, about 100 miles east of Little Rock, but stretches of fine sand mixed with fertile soil gave away the fault's location, Al-Shukri said. Liquefied sand bubbled up through cracks in the earth, while ground radar and digs showed vents that let the sand reach the surface, he said.

The fault, likely created in the last 5,000 years, sparked at least one magnitude 7 earthquake in its history. Such temblors cause massive destruction in their wake. Source

UPDATE 22nd OCT 2011 -

Researchers have found new evidence of earthquakes in the Mid-South. They say the quakes could be the result of a new fault line, a little sister, or big sister, of the New Madrid.

"It's opened up to ancient history down here," geophysicist Rob Williams tells abc24.com as he looks down into a pit made to study evidence of earthquakes in Marianna, Arkansas.

"We're looking back 4,000 to 10,000 years down in this pit," he says.

The pit may seem like a simple hole in the ground, but to Williams it's much more.

"What this shows," he says, "is that we've had at least two large earthquakes in the last 10,000 years about as big as the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812."

Williams tells abc24.com those earthquakes were huge.

"Magnitude seven plus," he says, "but probably less than an 8."

Williams says it isn't a fault line in Marianna, but rather the effects of strong ground shaking. He say's when the ground shakes cracks will open up and sand that's under pressure from all the shaking water wants to escape and that sand and water will flow onto the ground surface.

Scientists are in the area to study earthquakes in the region. Source