Monday, November 21, 2011

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake ROMANIA - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck Romania at a depth of 150 km (93 miles), the quake hit at 04:17:35 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 7 km ( 4.3 miles) East of Siriu, Romania
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 8 km (5 miles), the quake hit at 03:30:36 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 20 km ( 12 miles) WSW of Van, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN PERU - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Southern Peru at a depth of 113.4 km (70.5 miles), the quake hit at 02:18:06 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 67 km ( 41 miles) Southwest of Arequipa, Peru
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NIAS REGION, INDONESIA - 21st Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Nias Region, Indonesia at a depth of 30 km (18.6 miles), the quake hit at 23:32:12 UTC Monday 21st November 2011.
The epicenter was 86 km ( 53.3 miles) Northwest of Gunung, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake FLORES SEA, INDONESIA - 21st Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Flores Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 552.2 km (343.1 miles), the quake hit at 21:20:28 UTC Monday 21st November 2011.
The epicenter was 157 km ( 97 miles) NNE of Ende, Flores, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 21st Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles - Poorly Constrained), the quake hit at 21:00:35 UTC Monday 21st November 2011.
The epicenter was 24 km ( 14 miles) NNW of Van, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Gunman barricaded in building at SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, COLORADO - 21st Nov 2011

AP: Air Force officials say an airman armed with a pistol has barricaded himself in a building at an Air Force base in Colorado that controls dozens of military satellites, but no one has been injured and satellite operations haven't been disrupted.

Schriever (SHREE'-ver) Air Force Base spokeswoman Jennifer Thibault (THEE'-balt) says the building was evacuated after the standoff began on Monday.

She says the airman is a member of a security squadron and is armed with his own handgun. Officials haven't determined his motive.

His name, rank and service history haven't been released.

Schriever is about 60 miles south of Denver. Thibault says the airman is in a building where servicemen and women prepare for deployments. Source

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake OFF EAST COAST OF THE NORTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 21st Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck off the Coast of the North Island, New Zealand at a depth of 2.5 km (1.6 miles - Poorly Constrained), the quake hit at 19:38:29 UTC Monday 21st November 2011.
The epicenter was 154 km ( 95 miles) Northeast of Gisborne, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

2 hurt in Syrian attack on Turkish buses, news agency reports - 21st Nov 2011

Two people were injured Monday when Syrian soldiers attacked a convoy of Turkish citizens who were passing through Syria on their way home from a hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, Turkey's state news agency reported.

Three buses were damaged in the attack, which involved shooting, the Anatolian Agency reported.

The incident happened at a military checkpoint between the towns of Hama and Homs after a driver took a wrong turn and asked Syrian soldiers for directions, the report said.

The injured men, who included one of the drivers, were taken to a hospital in Antakya, Turkey, the report said.

"We were shocked, didn't know what was happening," the injured driver told the news agency. "All passengers hit the floor of the bus."

Turkish consulate officials advised them to drive non-stop to the border, he said.

"We drove with one flat tire and reached the Cilvegozu border town," he said. Read More

Egypt's Cabinet Offers To Resign Amid Clashes - 21st Nov 2011

Egypt's ruling military council is considering whether to accept the resignation of the cabinet amid a third day of violence between police and pro-democracy protesters.

The entire cabinet reportedly submitted its resignation on Sunday, according to state TV.

At least 33 people have died as protesters demanding the military council make way for an interim civilian administration have clashed with security forces in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

The government expressed "deep regret over the painful events," cabinet spokesman Mohammed Hegazy said in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency.

"The government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has handed its resignation to the(ruling) Supreme Council of the Armed Force.

"Owing to the difficult circumstances the country is going through, the government will continue working" until the resignation is accepted, he said. Read More

Nine skinned pigs' heads found lined up on a pavement in grisly 'ritual' - 21st Nov 2011

Nine pigs heads complete with teeth and eyes have been found, dumped in a street, after being skinned.

They were found on a pavement in King Edwards Road, Middlesbrough, by builder Mark Waters as he arrived for work on Saturday morning.

Environmental health teams are now looking into the grisly find and they are looking into the possibility that it was part of an odd sport's club initiation ceremony.

A spokesman said: 'Our officers were made aware of a number of discarded animal heads on Saturday morning which are believed to have been dumped in a nearby skip.

'Investigations are on-going as to the source of the animal parts and how they came to be in the road.'

The remains were cleared by Middlesbrough's area care team.

A student who lives close by said: 'There have been a lot of initiations into sports clubs recently so maybe it was something to do with that.'

Although there are no butcher's shops in the immediate vicinity, a number of restaurants and takeaways back onto the road on which the pigs' heads were found.

Another theory that is circulating around the area is that they were being used for the meat in their cheeks then put into a nearby skip.

A source said: 'I suspect that someone, or a group of people, has had a bit to drink, gone past the skip and seen the heads and thought it would be funny to do something like this. Read More

Taxi driver ran down his own passenger in row over £8 fare - 21st Nov 2011

This is the moment a taxi driver deliberately ploughed into a passenger after a row about an £8 fare.

Muhammed Javed, 45, drove straight into Huw Lloyd, who was left clinging to the bonnet for 80ft, before suffering head injuries and a fractured hand.

Javed, from Bristol, was jailed for six months after admitting using the cab as a weapon last April.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Javed, who moved to the UK from Pakistan 21 years ago, drove off after the incident, leaving the injured man in the street. Read More

Berlin issues tax demands to Belgians deported to Germany in WWII to work as slaves for Nazis

Belgians deported to Nazi Germany in World War II to work as slaves for the Third Reich have now received tax demands from Berlin.

Belgium's finance minister Didier Reynders has vowed to confront Germany over the 'morally indefensible' tax demands which have been arriving in the mailboxes of elderly war survivors over the past few weeks.

'It is shocking that people who during World War II were forced to work by the Nazis have now received tax demands from the authorities related to the compensation eventually paid for that work,' he said.

Several dozen former victims of the forced labour regime imposed by the Nazis after they conquered Belgium in May 1940 have received the demands. Read More

Britain cuts banking ties to Iran over nuclear concerns - 21st Nov 2011

Britain cut all financial ties Monday with Iran over concerns about Iran's nuclear program, the first time it has ever cut an entire country's banking sector off from British finance, the British Treasury announced.

The move comes days after an International Atomic Energy Agency report highlighted new concerns about "the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," the Treasury statement said Monday.

The IAEA's governors approved a resolution last week expressing "deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and has called the U.N. watchdog's report "unbalanced" and "politically motivated."

"The IAEA's report last week provided further credible and detailed evidence about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. "Today we have responded resolutely by introducing a set of new sanctions that prohibit all business with Iranian banks." Read More

Egyptian Security Forces Beat Protesters - 21st Nov 2011

Texas Wildfire Season Hits One-Year Mark With No End In Sight

The devastating Texas wildfire season reaches the one-year mark on Tuesday, and there appears to be no end in sight as officials brace for large blazes that could ignite anywhere across the drought-stricken state.

Despite a recent lull in fire activity statewide, the threat remains in parts of Texas, so the Texas Forest Service is not declaring an end to the wildfire season that started Nov. 15, 2010.

"This year is a little harder to call (for an ending point) because we're still picking up some fire calls daily," said Tom Spencer, director of the Texas Forest Service's predictive services department. And officials are expecting some large fires this winter and next spring because of dead trees and pastures across the bone-dry state, he said.

The exact starting and ending dates of wildfire seasons vary each year and do not affect the state fire agency's resources or finances, said agency spokeswoman April Saginor.

Another devastating season ran more than a year, from April 2005 through September 2006, when blazes charred about 2 million acres, left 12 people dead and destroyed more than 400 homes. But the 2008 and 2009 seasons each lasted less than a calendar year, according to Texas Forest Service records.

In the past year, wildfires statewide have destroyed nearly 4 million acres and more than 2,900 homes, killing 10 people. more

Spain rejects socialism – only three per cent of EU citizens now have Left-wing governments

Congratulations to Mariano Rajoy, whose Partido Popular has won a thumping victory in Spain: nearly eleven million votes to the Socialists' seven million, 186 seats to their 110. It's not often that you get the same headline in ABC and El País , but a result on such a scale allowed no room for interpretation: the two old rivals agreed that Spain had entrusted her future wholly to the conservatives.

The achievement is all the more remarkable because, while the Socialist Party (PSOE) picks up votes from Left-of-Centre voters across Spain, Right-of-Centre voters in Catalonia and the Basque Country tend to support local autonomist parties. This means that, in order to win an overall majority, the PP traditionally has to outpoll PSOE by a large margin in the rest of the country. It did so on this occasion. Four of Spain's 50 provinces are in Catalonia, and three in the Basque lands. Of the remaining 43, the PP won 42 (plus Álava in the Basque Country for good measure). In Castilian-speaking Spain, only the citadels of orange-scented Seville poke out above the blue tide.

Thank Heaven the result was decisive. In Greece and in Italy, elected premiers have been toppled in favour of Brussels placemen, and a hung parliament might have opened the door to an eventual Euro-putsch in Spain. Both sides in Spanish politics have, in the past, been equivocal about the verdict of the ballot box. Everyone knows that Spanish conservatives refused to accept the Left's narrow victory in 1936. What is often forgotten is that republicans were every bit as reluctant to accept the Right's victory two years earlier. A long history of uprisings and pronuncamientos meant that democracy was widely seen as a means to an end rather than as a desirable system in its own right. more

Duke study offers seven "safeguards" for hydraulic fracturing (Uh-huh.)

A new report by Duke University researchers offers several health and environmental measures for North Carolina lawmakers to consider as they debate legalizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

The study, which has been accepted for publication in the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum journal, looks at potential environmental hazards and how lawmakers in other states are factoring health and environmental risks into regulatory approaches targeting the natural gas extraction method.

"If North Carolina legalizes shale gas extraction, we need to consider what's worked best in other states and avoid what hasn't," said Rob Jackson, Nicholas professor of global environmental change at the Nicholas School of the Environment. "That's the only way to get it right."

Legislation passed earlier this year has moved North Carolina closer to producing shale gas, and is directing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to complete a study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing, often called "fracking," by May, 2012. more

Thousands strike at China factory: rights group

More than 7,000 workers went on strike at a southern Chinese factory making New Balance, Adidas and Nike shoes, clashing with police in a protest over layoffs and wage cuts, a rights group said.

Dozens of workers were injured on Thursday as police tried to break the strikers' blockade of the main road in the factory town near Dongguan in Guangdong province, China Labor Watch said in a statement late Friday.

The strike at the Yucheng factory in Huangjiang township took place in the wake of layoffs last month of 18 managers, a move seen by workers as a preparation for the factory's relocation, the New York-based group said.

One of the fired managers told the China Business News his departure was part of a plan to shift production north to Jiangxi province to save on rising costs in the Pearl River Delta around Dongguan, a key manufacturing centre.

The strike was the latest in a series of incidents involving labour disputes and perceived social injustices in Guangdong, known as the workshop of the world for the tens of millions of migrant workers who toil in factories there.

Workers at the Yucheng factory were also angered by the recent elimination of performance bonuses and a ban on the overtime they said they need to meet the cost of living. more

Gunmen torch three NATO trucks in Pakistan

Gunmen on Sunday torched three trucks carrying supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, officials said.

Gunmen on a motorbike fired at the vehicles and then set them on fire after pouring petrol on them in the Dasht suburb of the provincial capital Quetta, local police official Ismail Sumalani told AFP.

There were no casualties in the attack, which happened when the trucks had stopped at a roadside tea stall, he said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban has in the past said they carried out similar attacks to disrupt supplies for more than 130,000 US-led international troops fighting in Afghanistan.

Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants frequently launch attacks on NATO supply vehicles in the northwest and southwest regions of Pakistan, which border landlocked Afghanistan.

Most supplies and equipment required by foreign forces in Afghanistan are shipped through Pakistan, although US troops increasingly use alternative routes through Central Asia. more

China could overtake US economy by 2027

Jim O'Neill, the head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, has predicted that China could overtake the United States as the world's largest economy by 2027 and urged a fundamental rethink of the operation of the G7 which he believes is too dominated by the West.

In his long awaited update to his seminal 2001 paper on the BRIC economies of Brazil, India, Russia and China, Jim O'Neill says that the economies he highlighted have exceeded even his expectations in the way they have become global powerhouses.

Mr O'Neill says that the four countries should no longer be considered "emerging" economies but rather "growth" economies and should be given their rightful place as the top table of power.

A decade ago, Mr O'Neill sparked a new way of looking at the global economy when he coined the term BRIC. A decade on, his new book The Growth Map reveals the next stages in the progress of the non-Western economies which have come to dominate corporate life across the world.

The book is serialised in The Sunday Telegraph today with further extracts in tomorrow and Tuesday's Daily Telegraph and online at telegraph.co.uk. "Our updated research suggests that China's economic output – its gross domestic product – could match that of the US as early as 2027, and perhaps even sooner," he writes.

"Since 2001, China's GDP has risen fourfold, from $1.5 trillion to $6 trillion [£949bn to £3.7trillion] Economically speaking, China has created three new Chinas in the past decade. And it's likely that the combined GDP of the four BRIC nations will exceed that of the US sometime before 2020." more

Depleted Texas lakes expose ghost towns, graves

Johnny C. Parks died two days before his first birthday more than a century ago. His grave slipped from sight along with the rest of the tiny town of Bluffton when Lake Buchanan was filled 55 years later.

Now, the cracked marble tombstone engraved with the date Oct. 15, 1882, which is normally covered by 20 to 30 feet of water, has been eerily exposed as a yearlong drought shrinks one of Texas' largest lakes.

Across the state, receding lakes have revealed a prehistoric skull, ancient tools, fossils and a small cemetery that appears to contain the graves of freed slaves. Some of the discoveries have attracted interest from local historians, and looters also have scavenged for pieces of history. More than two dozen looters have been arrested at one site.

"In an odd way, this drought has provided an opportunity to view and document, where appropriate, some of these finds and understand what they consist of," said Pat Mercado-Allinger, the Texas Historical Commission's archeological division director. "Most people in Texas probably didn't realize what was under these lakes." more

12,000 feral cats roam Southern Los Angeles

The 90037 ZIP Code in South Los Angeles has about 60,000 residents.

And by some estimates, almost 12,000 feral cats.

Colonies of the strays roam the alleys and backyards of these low-income neighborhoods.

L.A.'s mild weather means the cats come into season frequently, breeding like wild. Add to that residents' inability to seek veterinary care when most are struggling to make ends meet, rescue groups say.

"I can hear them right outside my window when they're fighting and mating," said Cydney Fellows, a retired high-rise window washer who lives near Vermont Avenue and 22nd Street.

Sometimes she is awakened in the middle of the night by the dozen or so cats that frequent her apartment building. "I've been living here for almost 10 years. I've never seen so many stray animals in my life."

Officials say that the city's Animal Services Department is stretched too thin to trap any cats and that when residents take them into city shelters, many are euthanized. more

Shoppers ‘Occupying’ St. Pete Best Buy For Black Friday Doorbuster Deals Since Last Week -- Sad, very sad.

On Monday, November 14, nearly two weeks before days Black Friday, Christine Orta and nine others from three different families pitched a tent and started “occupying” a Black Friday line at a St. Petersburg Best Buy.

While most of us haven’t the slightest clue where we are going to get the best deals yet, “Team Occupy Best Buy” had it all planned out.

By day five, the guard had changed, and Tito Hernandez, a college student originally from Brazil, took hold of the front of the line status for his Black Friday team.

“There are 10 of us, and we take turns according to our work and school schedules,” he said.

What are each of them doing to pass the time? “Studying,” Hernandez said.

And what is worth camping out on cold concrete in front of a Best Buy store for nine days? Savings on what every college student or most Americans can’t do without: flat screen TVs and laptops. more

China vice premier sees chronic global recession

A long-term global recession is certain to happen and China must focus on domestic problems, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan has said.

"The one thing that we can be certain of, among all the uncertainties, is that the global economic recession caused by the international financial crisis will be chronic," Wang was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying at the weekend.

Wang's comments were the most bearish forecast ever by a top Chinese decision-maker about the world economy, and Beijing's worry about a worsening global environment could translate into an impetus for pro-growth policies at home.

China launched a massive fiscal stimulus package with a price tag of 4 trillion yuan ($650 billion) in late 2008 to avert a big impact from the global financial turmoil.

According to Xinhua, Wang did not speak this time about any major policy change but reiterated that banks should be more flexible lending to the agricultural sector and small firms.

"As for our country, which relies highly on external demands, we must see the situation clearly and get our own business done," Xinhua quoted Wang as saying, referring to exports. more

Richard Branson: Unemployed youth risk becoming a lost generation

Sir Richard Branson is to warn George Osborne that he will create a "lost generation" of young people who will never know work unless he takes radical steps in next week's Autumn Statement to kick-start the economy.

The Virgin tycoon, who writes overleaf, is calling for a three-point blueprint for growth to create more jobs – particularly for the young – and fund new businesses. His wish list includes making it easier for companies to employ workers on a part-time and flexible basis, cutting the time spent at university in half and the creation of a new government body to underwrite micro-finance for people who want to start their own businesses, modelled on the Student Loan Company.

The businessman, whose Virgin Money bought the taxpayer-owned Northern Rock for £1bn last week, will set out his blueprint in a letter this week to Mr Osborne, before the Autumn Statement on 29 November.

The Chancellor is under pressure to come up with radical ideas for stimulating growth when he addresses the Commons. In a parallel move, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has told Mr Osborne he must use any additional funding in the growth review to tackle youth unemployment after the tally rose above one million last week. Aides say the issue has become "toxic" for the coalition.

A wide-ranging panel of economic experts today sets out suggestions for a much-needed "Plan B" for growth, amid criticism the Chancellor is refusing to acknowledge that Britain's precarious economic position is not solely due to the eurozone crisis. more

'Time has come' to act on Iran, Israel says

The "time has come" to deal with Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday, refusing to rule out military action to curb the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions.

Barak, speaking on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS program, indicated that Israel's patience was wearing thin -- and provided an ominous response when asked about the growing speculation of an Israeli military strike.

"I don't think that that is a subject for public discussion," he said. "But I can tell you that the IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world, leaders as well as the publics, and people understand that the time has come."

The International Atomic Energy Agency published a report on November 8 saying there was "credible" information that Iran was carrying out "activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

On Friday the IAEA's board passed a resolution condemning Iran's nuclear activities, but stopped short of reporting Tehran to the United Nations and issuing no deadline for compliance.

"People understand now that Iran is determined to reach nuclear weapons," said Barak. There is "no other possible or conceivable explanation for what they have been actually doing. And that should be stopped." more

Occupy Oakland Calls For Shutdown Of ALL West Coast Ports

Vandalism, violence, burning and shutting down the nation’s fifth busiest port weren’t enough for Occupy Oakland. On Friday, the General Assembly for the group voted unanimously for “a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on December 12."

According to a statement from Occupy Oakland, this move is in “response to coordinated attacks on the occupations and attacks on workers across the nation.” “We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port.”

Occupy Los Angeles had already called for action against one shipper at that port, stating, “occupation will take place at at least one facility owned by SSA Marine, a shipping company belonging to Goldman Sachs, (coordinated with a possible port shut down by the port truck drivers).”

The Occupy Oakland statement also complained about “continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview Washington.”

Longview has been the site of some nasty union action already. According to the Sept. 8 New York Times, “About 500 longshoremen stormed the new $200 million terminal in Longview before sunrise Thursday, carrying baseball bats, smashing windows, damaging rail cars and dumping tons of grain from the cars, police and company officials said.” more

Prison inmates harass victims via Facebook

Lisa Gesik hesitates to log into her Facebook account nowadays because of unwanted "friend" requests, not from long-ago classmates but from the ex-husband now in prison for kidnapping her and her daughter.

Neither Gesik nor prison officials can prove her ex-husband is sending her the messages, which feature photos of him wearing his prison blues and dark sunglasses, arms crossed as he poses in front of a prison gate. It doesn't matter if he's sending them or someone else is - the Newport, Ore., woman is afraid and, as the days tick down to his January release, is considering going into hiding with her 12-year-old daughter.

"It's just being victimized all over again," she said.

Across the U.S. and beyond, inmates are using social networks and the growing numbers of smartphones smuggled into prisons and jails to harass their victims or accusers and intimidate witnesses. California corrections officials who monitor social networking sites said they have found many instances in which inmates taunted victims or made unwanted sexual advances. more

American spies outed, CIA suffers in Lebanon

The CIA's operations in Lebanon have been badly damaged after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of U.S. spies recently, current and former U.S. officials told The Associated Press. The intelligence debacle is particularly troubling because the CIA saw it coming.

Hezbollah's longtime leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, boasted on television in June that he had rooted out at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group closely allied with Iran. Though the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon officially denied the accusation, current and former officials concede that it happened and the damage has spread even further.

In recent months, CIA officials have secretly been scrambling to protect their remaining spies - foreign assets or agents working for the agency - before Hezbollah can find them.

To be sure, some deaths are to be expected in shadowy spy wars. It's an extremely risky business and people get killed. But the damage to the agency's spy network in Lebanon has been greater than usual, several former and current U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about security matters. more

Future cancers from Fukushima plant may be hidden

Even if the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the worst accident in 25 years, leads to many people developing cancer, we may never find out.

Looking back on those early days of radiation horror, that may sound implausible.

But the ordinary rate of cancer is so high, and our understanding of the effects of radiation exposure so limited, that any increase in cases from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster may be undetectable.

Several experts inside and outside Japan told The Associated Press that cancers caused by the radiation may be too few to show up in large population studies, like the long-term survey just getting under way in Fukushima.

That could mean thousands of cancers under the radar in a study of millions of people, or it could be virtually none. Some of the dozen experts the AP interviewed said they believe radiation doses most Japanese people have gotten fall in a "low-dose" range, where the effect on cancer remains unclear.

The cancer risk may be absent, or just too small to detect, said Dr. Fred Mettler, a radiologist who led an international study of health effects from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. more

Japan's exports decline for first time in three months

Japan's exports have fallen for the first time in three months, reinforcing worries that the strong yen and global debt crisis are affecting the economy.

Shipments dropped 3.7% in October from a year earlier, said the Ministry of Finance.

This pushed the balance of trade into a deficit, as imports jumped on high fuel costs.

The Bank of Japan warned last week that the debt crisis in Europe was stifling demand and hurting Japanese exporters. more

Polio in Nigeria 'shows big increase'

A four-fold increase in polio has been reported in Nigeria, with the disease spreading to other countries, a World Health Organisation official says.

Forty-three cases were reported in Nigeria this year, compared to 11 last year, the official, Thomas Moran, said.

Curbing the polio virus in Nigeria is key to eradicating the crippling disease in Africa, he said.

In 2003, northern Nigeria's Muslim leaders leaders opposed vaccinations, claiming they could cause infertility.

Nigeria is one of four countries in the world - along with Pakistan, India and Afghanistan - where polio is still a major health risk. more

Syria strife keeps Canadian navy in Mediterranean

The Royal Canadian Navy, its mission in Libya completed, will continue to patrol the Mediterranean Sea for another year, increasing speculation that the situation in Syria could lead to NATO intervention.

The move was announced by Defence Minister Peter MacKay on Sunday, the final day of a weekend gathering of international security and defence officials.

The deteriorating situation in Syria, which was the main topic of discussion during the Halifax International Security Forum, was a factor in the decision, MacKay said, but not the only one: Canada has also committed to participate in a NATO counter-terrorism campaign in the Mediterranean, he said.

As for NATO intervention in Syria, where the government of President Bashar Assad has turned its military's guns on a widespread protest movement, MacKay reiterated that it is too early to say whether military action in Syria will be required.

"I think it's fair to say that a lot of dictators are on notice that this type of behaviour isn't going to be tolerated," he said. "How we go about it and what comes next is done on… an escalating scale before making any final decisions around intervention." more

Aides: 'Super Committee' likely to announce failure to reach debt deal



A weekend of talks among members of the congressional committee charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts appeared to produce no last-minute compromise ahead of Monday's practical deadline.

Democratic and Republican aides told CNN on Sunday that discussions had turned to how to announce the failure to reach a deal.

A senior Democratic aide said talks are focused on a Monday announcement.

Another senior Democratic source said, "No decisions or agreement has been reached concerning any announcement or how this will end. But, yes, the likely outcome is no agreement will be reached."

A Republican aide added, "I don't think they've decided when they will do it."

Members of the 12-member bipartisan debt committee said Sunday a wide chasm remains.

A late Monday deadline looms for some kind of plan to move forward, with a vote required by Wednesday.

The mood on the morning news shows was somber, with just a glimmer of hope. more

Al-Assad: 'Syria will not bow down'

Officials sparred Sunday over a proposed plan to send observers into Syria as the nation's president warned against military intervention.

In an interview with the Sunday Times in the United Kingdom, President Bashar al-Assad warned that any potential military intervention against his country would lead to "very dire" repercussions, and said that Syria "will not bow down" despite international threats of economic sanctions over the government's crackdown on protesters.

He accused the Arab League, which recently suspended Syria's membership, of helping pave the way for western intervention.

"If they are logical, rational and realistic, they shouldn't do it because the repercussions are very dire," he said. "Military intervention will destabilize the region as a whole, and all countries will be affected."

Meanwhile, Syria's foreign minister said an Arab League plan to send observers into his country needed clarification before Syria would sign on. more

15 Pakistani paramilitary troops killed in clashes

Fifteen Pakistani paramilitary troops were killed when militants ambushed their camp in southwestern Pakistan Monday, a military spokesman said.

Attackers fired rockets at the camp and opened fire on a patrol vehicle in the southwestern province of Balochistan, military spokesman Murtaza Beg said.

A senior military official was among those killed, Beg said, and eight troops were injured in the attack.

Militants were also killed in clashes, he said, but authorities were still trying to confirm the casualties.

No one had claimed responsibility for the attack Monday, but authorities suspect militants fighting against security forces in the area are responsible. Paramilitary troops began an operation to search for suspects in nearby mountains, Beg said.

The clashes occurred in the coal-rich Chamalang area of district Loralai, where security personnel are frequently attacked, Beg said. source

AIDS epidemic 'still at a scary level'

The AIDS epidemic is levelling off and the number of people newly infected with the virus that causes it has remained unchanged since 2007, the United Nations said in a report.

Critics say that the body's aim of wiping out the disease is overly optimistic, however, considering there is no vaccine, millions remain untreated and donations have slumped amid the economic crisis.

There were 2.7 million new HIV infections last year, approximately the same figure as in the three previous years, said Monday's report from UNAIDS, the joint United Nations program on HIV and AIDS. The figures largely confirm earlier findings released by the group in June.

At the end of last year, there were about 34 million people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. While that is a slight rise from previous years, experts say that's due to people surviving longer.

Last year, there were 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths, down from 1.9 million in 2009.

The outbreak continues to hit hardest in southern Africa. But while the number of new infections there has fallen by more than 26 per cent since the peak in 1997, the virus is surging elsewhere.

In eastern Europe and central Asia, there has been a 250 per cent jump in the number of people infected with HIV in the past decade, due largely to the spread among injecting drug users. In North America and western Europe, the outbreak "remains stubbornly steady," according to the report. more

Occupy Toronto protesters must leave park, as protests are crushed and dismanted across North America

A judge has ruled that Occupy Toronto protesters must end their five-week long encampment at a downtown park.

Superior Court Justice David Brown’s ruling, issued just after 9 a.m. on Monday, upholds eviction notices issued last week by city bylaw officers to protesters who have been camping at St. James Park since Oct. 15.

Protesters had argued in court they had a constitutional right to camp in the park, which is located near the corner of King Street East and Church Street.

However, Mayor Rob Ford and his allies on Toronto city council have said occupiers have had their say and that neighbours and businesses in the area want the protesters to leave.

In submissions to the court, city officials have also pointed to damage to park grounds caused by the encampment and the need to prepare the park for winter.

Protesters had argued the encampment was essential to ensuring their right to expression guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Justice Brown, however, rejected this argument in his ruling and said the city's trespass order was "constitutionally valid." more

Risk of European financial "contagion" very serious

Egyptian protestors attacked in Tahir Square as revolution reignites

Egypt: '35 Killed' In Clashes With Police - 21st Nov 2011

Thirty-five people have reportedly been killed in clashes between police and protesters in Egypt as calls intensify for military rulers to quickly transfer power to a civilian government.

AP news agency reported the increased death toll, while the country's Health Ministry said another 1,750 people had been wounded.

It was not specified whether the dead and injured were protesters, or whether they included policemen and army soldiers.

Power is due to be transferred by military leaders in 2012 or early 2013, but protesters are demanding a firm date.

As demonstrations grow, more people are calling for the military to step down immediately in favour of an interim civilian council.

Protesters reportedly thwarted an attempt by police to evict them from Cairo's central Tahrir Square on Monday morning after officers fired tear gas and attacked a makeshift field hospital.

Witnesses also said protesters broke up pavements and hurled chunks of concrete at police. Read More