Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Live Chat Room is now up!

We now have a live chat room that all of you can visit and discuss what you like in. But don't worry, you can still leave your posts on the same page if you'd like to leave a message for someone else who isn't present. Lynsey and I will be hanging out in the chat room from time to time when we have a spare moment, but mostly it's for you guys to use and enjoy.

Check it out by clicking on the chat banner in the left column!

-- Matt

Libya will descend into conflict in weeks, predicts captured Saif as 'hero' tribesman claims he forsook a million euros to betray Gaddafi's son

Colonel Gaddafi’s captured son Saif predicted Libya would slide back into conflict within weeks.

The 39-year-old former playboy spoke out as the country unveiled its new government last night.

The key job of defence minister went to an obscure army commander from Zintan – the remote mountain town where Saif was captured on Saturday.

Leaders in the area had refused to hand over their trophy prisoner for trial unless they received a top post in the new cabinet.

None of the cabinet positions announced last night went to prominent Islamists, which will come as a relief to David Cameron and his Western allies who helped oust Colonel Gaddafi.

But the defence appointment of Osama Jueili from Zintan, a town with 16,000 inhabitants, was a major surprise.

His appointment means Islamist Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former Guantanamo Bay inmate who plans to sue MI6 over torture claims, has been cut out of the secularist government.

Mr Jueili denied he won the job as a reward for catching Saif. He said: ‘It is an insult to suggest a deal was done.’ Read More

Egypt's military agree to speed up presidential elections as protesters pour into Tahrir Square demanding a 'second revolution' - 23rd Nov 2011

Tens of thousands of protesters poured into central Cairo yesterday, calling for a ‘second revolution’ and the immediate removal of Egypt’s military rulers.

The increasingly confident crowd stepped up their demands after apparently dismissing an offer from the military to form a ‘national salvation government’.

It was the first time the leadership had bowed to the pressure – but with their numbers swelling by the day, the demonstrators were not in a mood to compromise.

The generals agreed to speed up presidential elections, a key demand of the protesters.
Head of the military council, Field Marshal Tantawi, said on national TV they would go ahead by July 2012.

He said parliamentary elections due next week would go ahead and a referendum on an immediate transfer of power would be organised if necessary. Read More

Woman, 55, dies after setting herself on fire at petrol pumps, Bath, England - 22nd Nov 2011

A woman died after setting herself on fire at a petrol pump.

The 55-year-old from Bath, Somerset, was seen at the Sainsbury's filling station strolling across the forecourt and dousing herself with fuel and setting herself alight.

Two workers staff tried to put the fire out by spraying her with bottles of water.

Two fire engines were called to the store in Green Park, Bath, and the woman was rushed to hospital with severe burns.

She later died at the nearby Royal United Hospital from her injuries.

The Avon Coroner's office is now investigating the horrific incident with police but there are said to be no suspicious circumstances. Read More

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90

FBI Investigates 'Foreign Cyber Attack' from Russia -

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are investigating what could be the first known foreign cyber attack to damage an American industrial system.

Federal investigators confirmed to Sky News that they were examining reports that a foreign hacker or hackers managed to remotely gain access to a water facility in Illinois and shut down a pump on November 8.

The incident came to light after prominent cyber security expert Joe Weiss obtained a report written by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Centre.

According to Mr Weiss, who specialises in protecting industrial control systems from electronic threats, the report confirms the cyber attack was traced back to a computer in Russia.

He told Sky News: "The report says 'An information technology services and computer repair company checked the computer logs of the system and determined the computer had been hacked into from an internet provider address located in Russia.'"

DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said: "At this time there is no credible corroborated data that indicates a risk to critical infrastructure entities or a threat to public safety."

Mr Weiss, a control systems cyber security consultant and managing partner at Applied Control Solutions based in California, said hLinke did not understand the equivocation from DHS, and that the report was definitive, even if it did not explain the attacker's motives.

He said: "The title of the report is Public Water District Cyber Intrusion. That's kind of hard to work around. Something happened."

The cyber attack reportedly targeted a water facility in a rural area west of the state capital, Springfield. Read More

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - 23rd Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck Antofagasta, Chile at a depth of 141.2 km (87.7 miles), the quake hit at 01:43:47 UTC Wednesday 23rd November 2011.
The epicenter was 103 km ( 64 miles) ESE of Calama, Antofagasta, Chile
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 4.9 km (3 miles), the quake hit at 23:48:14 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 37 km ( 22 miles) Northeast of Van, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake WEST CHILE RISE - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the West Chile Rise at a depth of 10.3 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 23:09:47 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 786 km ( 488 miles) West of Castro, Los Lagos, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL PERU - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Central Peru at a depth of 72.5 km (45.1 miles), the quake hit at 23:02:11 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 88 km ( 54 miles) Southwest of Cusco (Cuzco), Peru
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

High level of arsenic found in Thames soil: New Zealand

Arsenic levels far exceeding national safety levels have been found in the soil underneath a suburb in Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Moanataiari, which is built on land reclaimed using mining tailings, has been found to have arsenic levels 235 times over the National Soil Contaminant Standard in preliminary tests undertaken in the past month.

Thames Coromandel District Mayor Glenn Leach has called a public meeting in Thames tonight, with district council, Waikato Regional Council and Waikato District Health Board experts present to advise concerned residents.

Twenty-eight soil samples across the suburb were tested for antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium.

The National Soil Contaminant Standard for arsenic - 20 mg/kg for residential soils - was exceeded in all locations tested, apart from the Moanataiari School playing field, with the level ranging from "marginal" to "substantial".

The top surface sample was 350 mg/kg, while at a depth of 1 metre the two highest readings were 1020 mg/kg and 4700 mg/kg.

The arsenic is believed to have come from the mining tailings dumped at the site in the mid 20th Century, although is not an introduced chemical in the mining process but rather a naturally occurring trace element often found in higher concentrations around elements such as gold. more

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake NEW ZEALAND - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck New Zealand at a depth of 40 km (24.8 miles), the quake hit at 08:24 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 20 km ( 12.4 miles) North of Raupunga, New Zealand
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.8 Magnitude Earthquake MATO GROSSO, BRAZIL - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck Mato Grosso, Brazil at a depth of 33 km (20.4 miles), the quake hit at 18:57:40 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 128 km ( 79.3 miles) Southeast of Aripuanã, Brazil
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake FRANCE - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck France at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:58:54 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 1 km ( 0.6 miles) North of Saint-cyr-du-doret, France
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

6.9 Magnitude Earthquake BENI, BOLIVIA - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 6.9 earthquake has struck Beni, Bolivia at a depth of 553 km (343.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:48:16 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 195 km ( 121 miles) SSE from Santa Ana, Bolivia
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

More to follow

Update: USGS has just downgraded this earthquake to a 6.2 Magnitude and EMSC has downgraded this earthquake to a 6.7 Magnitude.

Of 10 stations nearest the epicenter, 5 stations measure this earthquake between 6.9 and 7.4 Magnitude

3.0 Magnitude Earthquake YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 3.0 earthquake has struck Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming at a depth of 0.8 km (0 miles - Poorly Constrained), the quake hit at 18:09:41 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 25 km ( 16 miles) SSE from Wets Yellowstone, Montana
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Search for alien life expands further out of the galaxy as new criteria proposed - 22nd Nov 2011

The phrase 'E.T phone home' became synonymous with alien life in popular culture.

And now it has emerged an alien 'home' could be further away from the Earth-like planet criteria than was previously thought.

Astronomers want to expand the habitability zone of a planet to include a larger set of criteria.

In the 1970s the concept of a habitable zone was coined by astronomer Michael Hart.

He claimed the Earth was the only possible home for life in the galaxy as this habitable zone, or the Goldilocks zone, is the area where a planet is just hot enough for liquid water to exist on the surface.

But astronomers report that there are already more than 700 exoplanets discovered with only a few in the habitable zone. Read More

South Korean opposition MP sets off TEAR GAS in parliament during a row over a trade deal with the United States - 22nd Nov 2011

Like the Taiwanese and even the Italians, South Korean politicians are famous for resolving disputes with the occasional parliamentary punch-up.

But opposition MP Kim Sun-Dong took things to a whole new level today when he set off a tear-gas grenade during a row over a trade deal with the United States.

In extraordinary scenes, smoke filled the chamber and MPs were forced to dive for cover.

The bizarre incident happened after the ruling party announced a surprise vote over the controversial deal infuriating their rivals. Read More


Syria's ambassador to the UN accuses Britain of declaring 'a diplomatic war' - 22nd Nov 2011

Syria's ambassador to the UN accused Britain of declaring political and diplomatic war against his country by sponsoring a resolution that condemns its human rights abuses.

Bashar Ja'afari said Britain, France and Germany were 'suffering from Syria-phobia' at a meeting of the UN General Assembly's human rights committee.

The non-binding resolution is expected to be adopted when all 193 member states vote later today and was also con-sponsored by Syria's fellow Arab nations Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Bahrain.

Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to the UN, told the committee the international community must respond to the 'terrible atrocities' in Syria, where an estimated 3,500 people have been killed.

Last week, the 22-member Arab League decided to suspend Syria over its brutal crackdown and threatened economic sanctions if the regime continued to violate a peace plan.

Mr Ja'afari said the resolution was introduced 'in the context of declaring a political and media and diplomatic war on my country'. Read More

Two Babies Die After E.coli Infection - Singleton Hospital South Wales - 22nd Nov 2011

Two babies have died of an E.coli infection in south Wales - one in hospital and one in the community, health officials have confirmed.

The cases of ESBL E.coli are under investigation at Singleton Hospital in Swansea.

One of the babies was "very premature" and died in hospital.

The second case involved a baby who died in the community but whose mother is suspected of contracting the infection at the hospital.

Dr Bruce Ferguson, medical director, ABM University Health Board, said: "These appear to be isolated incidents which have been contained, and there is no evidence of the infection spreading further."

"The two cases of ESBL E. coli transmissions currently under investigation are linked to three other confirmed cases of ESBL E. coli where the infection was contracted outside hospital.

"Sadly, one of these cases, also a very young baby, has died. Everyone associated with the unit also regrets the tragic loss of this baby."

Health chiefs at the hospital stressed that ESBL E.coli is not the same as E.coli O157 which causes food poisoning.

In most people ESBL E.coli does not cause harm but in vulnerable individuals it can cause serious infections. Read More

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the Kepulauan Mentawai Region, Indonesia at a depth of 30.7 km (19.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:54:06 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 179 km ( 111 miles) Southwest of Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Kepulauan Mentawai Region, Indonesia at a depth of 27.5 km (17.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:45:19 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 171 km ( 106 miles) Southwest of Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 545.9 km (339.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:30:22 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 149 km ( 92 miles) ESE of Lambasa, Vanua Levu, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

101-year-old Georgia man robbed in home... twice... in just three months...

A 101-year-old Georgia man has been robbed of his wallet for the second time in three months, and police are seeking the public's help in their investigation.

The latest incident occurred during a burglary at Edward Vaughn's Savannah home early Sunday.

Authorities tell the Savannah Morning News (http://bit.ly/ufpx99) that officers responded to Vaughn's home around 2:45 a.m.

Vaughn told police that someone entered his bedroom while he was sleeping and demanded money. Police say the intruder took his wallet and left. Vaughn was not injured in the burglary incident, but did suffer minor abrasions in the earlier theft in August in which a man attacked him as he walked to his porch after getting off a bus.

Police are seeking the public's help in their investigation. Both thefts remain unsolved. source

Occupy L.A. receives offer to decamp: Protesters could get downtown office space and farmland if they leave City Hall

Los Angeles officials have offered Occupy L.A. protesters a package of incentives that includes downtown office space and farmland in an attempt to persuade them to abandon their camp outside of City Hall, according to several demonstrators who have been in negotiations with the city.

The details of the proposal were revealed Monday during the demonstration's nightly general assembly meeting by Jim Lafferty, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild who has been advocating on behalf of the protest since it began seven weeks ago.

Lafferty said city officials have offered protesters a $1-a-year lease on a 10,000-square-foot office space near City Hall. He said officials also promised land elsewhere for protesters who wish to farm, as well as additional housing for the contingent of homeless people who joined the camp.

A spokesman for the mayor would not comment on the proposal, saying only: "We are in negotiations with organizers of Occupy L.A."

Los Angeles has been one of the most accommodating cities in the nation for its Occupy encampment. more

Vindicated Seismologist Says Japan Still Underestimates Threat to Reactors (He also warned about quake, but no one listened)

Dismissed as a “nobody” by Japan’s nuclear industry, seismologist Katsuhiko Ishibashi spent two decades watching his predictions of disaster come true: First in the 1995 Kobe earthquake and then at Fukushima. He says the government still doesn’t get it.

The 67-year-old scientist recalled in an interview how his boss marched him to the Construction Ministry to apologize for writing a 1994 book suggesting Japan’s building codes put its cities at risk. Five months later, thousands were killed when a quake devastated Kobe city. The book, “A Seismologist Warns,” became a bestseller.

That didn’t stop Haruki Madarame, now head of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission, from dismissing Ishibashi as an amateur when he warned of a “nuclear earthquake disaster,” a phrase the Kobe University professor coined in 1997. Ishibashi says Japan still underestimates the risk of operating reactors in a country that has about 10 percent of the world’s quakes.

“What was missing -- and is still missing -- is a recognition of the danger,” Ishibashi said, seated in a dining room stacked with books in his house in a Kobe suburb. “I understand we’re not going to shut all of the nuclear plants, but we should rank them by risk and phase out the worst.”

Among Japan’s most vulnerable reactors are some of its oldest, built without the insights of modern earthquake science, Ishibashi said. It was only in the last four years that Japan Atomic Power Co. recognized an active fault line running under its reactor in Tsuruga, which opened in 1970 about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Osaka and close to a lake that supplies water to millions of people in the region. more

In Iowa, farmland boom means end of an era for many: Soil now a commodity

It took just 31 minutes for Donald Ellingson's family to end an agrarian tradition that had survived more than a half-century, by auctioning off 153 acres of rich Iowa farmland.

Five years after their father's death, Ellingson's three children had grown weary of the demands of running a farm. Their tenant farmer had retired, and finding a new one was tough. The youngest of them was 60 -- too old, they agreed, to return to a life of risky finances and long work days.

Combines and corn were not part of the lives of Donald's eight grandchildren or his 14 great-grandchildren. They live far from here. And given land prices these days, the family agreed it was the right time to let the past go.

"I think dad would be fine with us selling the land," said Diane Guerrttman, 60, who lives in Wyoming and works with at-risk children.

Across the Midwest, the dizzying surge in rural land prices is accelerating a fundamental reshaping of the farm sector in the world's biggest food exporter. Instead of digging in to benefit from the boom in grain prices, the next generation is opting to cash out of the small, family-owned farms that harbor centuries of rural wisdom and deep tradition.

The bidding wars that are now common at farm auctions and inside attorney offices, resulting in a 25 percent jump in land values last quarter, are bittersweet for heirs and aging farmers alike, whose children have fled to the city, leaving them unable or unwilling to shoulder the rising financial risk of a farm. more

Egypt’s Secret Police Renames Itself “Homeland Security”

Egypt’s infamous state security apparatus, notorious for spying on political activists and torturing dissidents, has renamed itself “homeland security,” presumably in homage to its American namesake, which has also been used as a tool of political repression.

As part of the re-branding of dictatorship in Egypt, the same security force implicated in the imprisonment and torture of anti-Mubarak activists is busy reorganizing itself while maintaining intimidation and spying campaigns targeted against parliamentary candidates by bugging phone calls and harassing prominent critics of the ruling military regime’s bloody crackdown on protesters.

“After some initial moves to purge the security forces, attempts at systemic reform were halted, say analysts and political observers. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior, the 100,000-strong state security service has been renamed homeland security and personnel moved around,” the Financial Times reports today (emphasis mine).

Should we be concerned that a dictatorship which refuses to bow to the will of the people and allow democratic elections to proceed while engaging in savage attacks on demonstrators is re-naming itself after America’s foremost post-9/11 federal agency?

Like the Egyptian secret police, the Department of Homeland Security has reinvented its role to serve as a tool of political repression in recent years. Under the Federal Protective Service (FPS), the DHS tracks the political activities of peaceful advocacy groups. The FPS was seen arresting photographers in Portland last week during an OWS rally. In 2004, the FPS arrested a veteran for the crime of complaining to his local VA office in Des Moines. more

Anonymous targets pepper-spraying policeman

The online "hacktivist" group Anonymous published the personal contact details on Monday of a California university policeman who used pepper spray on protesters, and it urged supporters to flood him with phone calls and emails.

YouTube videos of Friday's incident on the campus of the University of California, Davis have gone viral and led to the suspension of the college police chief, two police officers and calls for the chancellor to step down.

In the YouTube videos, one of which has received 1.44 million views, two university police officers in riot gear are seen spraying an orange mist on protesters sitting peacefully on the ground.

Following the spraying, the crowd begins chanting "Shame on you!"

A YouTube video on Monday purportedly from Anonymous published the home address, the home telephone number, the cellphone number and the email address of one of the policeman who allegedly used the pepper spray on protestors.

In the video, an artificially altered voice tells the "police forces of the world" that "brutalization of our citizens is both unjust and uncalled for." more

CIA Spies Caught, Fear Execution in Middle East

In a significant failure for the United States in the Mideast, more than a dozen spies working for the CIA in Iran and Lebanon have been caught and the U.S. government fears they will be or have been executed, according to four current and former U.S. officials with connections to the intelligence community.

The spies were paid informants recruited by the CIA for two distinct espionage rings targeting Iran and the Beirut-based Hezbollah organization, considered by the U.S. to be a terror group backed by Iran.

"Espionage is a risky business," a U.S. official briefed on the developments told ABC News, confirming the loss of the unspecified number of spies over the last six months.

"Many risks lead to wins, but some result in occasional setbacks," the official said.

Robert Baer, a former senior CIA officer who worked against Hezbollah while stationed in Beirut in the 1980's, said Hezbollah typically executes individuals suspected of or caught spying.

"If they were genuine spies, spying against Hezbollah, I don't think we'll ever see them again," he said. "These guys are very, very vicious and unforgiving." more

Screening Still a Pain at Airports, Fliers Say, and Could Destroy Air Travel

The lines will still be long and the screening still invasive at airport checkpoints this Thanksgiving.

While the government has made some changes to security procedures, many passengers and travel executives contend that the moves do not go far enough.

Since last November, the Transportation Security Administration has adopted a policy to reduce pat-downs of children 12 and under, altered some body scanners to display a generic outline of a human figure and begun testing programs that offer expedited screening to pilots and select frequent fliers.

Still, some travelers are bothered by a screening process that has become increasingly time-consuming and intimate, and industry representatives say they are worried that these frustrations are contributing to a decline in air travel.

The Air Transport Association expects 2 percent fewer people will fly this Thanksgiving week compared with last year, while AAA projects a 4 percent increase in automobile travel.

As the T.S.A. observes its 10th anniversary, it also faces lawsuits over the legality of its passenger searches, growing scrutiny of the cost-effectiveness of its screening measures, questions about security lapses and complaints that some agents continue to make travelers feel humiliated or harassed.

At a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing about the agency in early November, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, described her own discomfort with a particular agent at a St. Louis airport and expressed sympathy for passengers who complain. more

Harold Rodman, TSA worker, arrested for sexual assault



A Transportation Security Administration employee is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Manassas.

The suspect, Harold Glen Rodman, 52, allegedly was wearing his uniform and displayed a badge to the victim, a 37-year-old woman.

Police arrested Rodman on Nov. 20. He is charged with aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration, forcible sodomy and
abduction with intent to defile.

A TSA spokesperson confirmed that Rodman works for the agency but wouldn’t say in what capacity or where. more

US retail madness takes a bite out of Thanksgiving: May become "National Shopping Day"

t's one of the biggest US holidays, but some Americans are wondering if Thanksgiving, and the shop-until-you-drop Black Friday that follows it, might be getting a bit out of control.

Some 38.2 million Americans will hit the highway for the four-day holiday weekend that begins Thursday, with another 3.4 million taking to the air, the AAA motorists' association says.

Most will go back to their home towns for a family Thanksgiving dinner, with 88 percent of them tucking into roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, according to the National Turkey Federation.

Americans go through 46 million turkeys at Thanksgiving, more than double the 22 million consumed a month later at Christmas.

Once they've polished off their pumpkin-pie desserts, many will be off to the shopping malls for the pre-Christmas shopping melee known as Black Friday, when retailers slash prices on clothing, toys and consumer electronics.

"The amount of Black Friday shoppers will increase from 212 million last year to 225 million this year," says blackfriday2011.com, a kind of WikiLeaks for consumers looking to see Black Friday advertisements before publication.

So important is Black Friday to retailers -- potentially more than $20 billion in sales, according to market analysis firm SpendingPulse -- that many big-name outlets are opening earlier than ever. more

Flash Mob of 50 Black Youths Shoplifts at Silver Spring 7-Eleven





About 50 people simultaneously shoplifted from a Silver Spring, Md., 7-Eleven Saturday night.

Officers arriving at the store in the 12200 block of Tech Road after 11:20 p.m. saw several people gathered in surrounding parking lots and on side streets, police said. They began to disperse when police arrived.

The shoplifters -- described as teens and young adults -- took items including snacks and drinks, police said

Police stopped a group of six people ages 16-18 near Tech Road and Broadbirch Drive. Each had items from the 7-Eleven but no receipts, police said.

Detectives are investigating whether the shoplifters had attended a birthday party in the area, police said.

In August, a flash mob of dozens of young people entered a 7-Eleven in Germantown and took items without paying, police said.

Flash mob crime in the county has prompted lawmakers to consider teen loitering legislation and a teen curfew.

Anyone with information about the case should call Montgomery County police at 301-565-5835. source

Carbon nanotube 'space camouflage' coating invented

Tiny carbon tubes can be used to hide three-dimensional objects from view, according to a team of researchers.

The nanotubes are one-atom thick sheets of graphene wrapped into cylindrical tubes.

Engineers from Michigan University found they could be used to obscure objects so that they appeared to be nothing more than a flat black sheet.

The team suggest "forests" of the material may one day be used to cloak spacecraft in deep space.

The group says the technology works because the nanotubes' "index of refraction [is] very close to that of air".

This means they slow down light to a similar degree.

As a result there is very little scattering of light as it passes from the air into the layer of nanotubes. more

South Africa MPs pass controversial 'secrecy bill': Journalism and whistleblowing now under threat

South African MPs have overwhelmingly approved a controversial media bill despite widespread criticism of it.

Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu called it "insulting" and warned it could be used to outlaw "whistle-blowing and investigative journalism".

South African journalists wearing black have staged a protest against the so-called "secrecy bill" outside the headquarters of the governing ANC.

The ANC says the law will safeguard state secrets and national security.

The African National Congress has a two-thirds majority in 400-seat National Assembly - and the bill passed with 229 votes to 107, with two MPs choosing not to vote.

The bill has be passed by the upper house - likely to happen next year - and signed by the president before becoming law.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance told parliament that it would petition the Constitutional Court to have the bill declared unconstitutional if the president signed it in its current form. more

Chinese dog refuses to leave dead owner's graveside

A dog in China who was the only companion to a single resident has refused to leave him even after his death.

Lao Pan, 68, died earlier this month in the village of Panjiatun.

His dog was found later at his grave, refusing to leave even after seven days without food. Watch the BBC video here

Battlefield 3 nuclear plot angers Iranian gamers -- Is it propaganda preparation?

The Americans are invading Iran in search of missing nuclear warheads in 2014 - that is the scenario for a new video game which has sold millions of copies.

But amid international concern over Iran's nuclear programme, Battlefield 3 has angered young gamers in Iran itself, and many have signed a petition calling for an apology. Watch the BBC video here

Economist: Without big reforms, Detroit will default in 4 months, file bankruptcy

It's a race against the clock in Detroit.

The home to America's Big Three automakers has until spring to straighten out its budget problems or the city could face bankruptcy or, worse, potential default on its largest debt obligations.

"Without change, the city could run out of cash by April, with the potential cash shortfall of $45 million by the end of the fiscal year," Mayor Dave Bing said in an address to Detroit residents Wednesday night.

The mayor said $40 million could be saved in the city's budget through pension reform, cuts to medical care costs, and strategic layoffs -- all key points in the budget reform proposal he announced in the televised speech.

While many government jobs are on the chopping block under the mayor's proposal, many more could be lost if major changes are not made to the government's deficit, warns David L. Littmann, senior economist with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. more

"Let's end the global food waste scandal"

On Friday in London's Trafalgar Square, 5,000 members of the public were served a free hot curry, free apple juice and an array of fresh groceries.

The lunchtime feast, dished up by volunteers -- including the Bishop of London and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and -- was made entirely from ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted, such as fresh but cosmetically imperfect "wonky" fruit and vegetables that fail to meet the supermarkets' strict cosmetic standards.

The event demonstrated how easy it is to reduce the unimaginable levels of food waste both in the UK and internationally, and how governments, businesses and individuals can all help to change the way waste has become rife in our globalized food chain.

Putting on an event of this scale has involved hundreds of volunteers and numerous partner organizations and charities. Before the event, over 300 volunteers have given their time to wash, peel, chop, cook and serve the delicious curry. more

West Coast storm cuts power to 50,000: Canada

It is another wet and windy fall day on the West Coast, with a storm knocking down trees and power lines, dumping snow on mountain highways and forcing BC Ferries to cancel some sailings.

The storm has knocked out power to about 50,000 BC Hydro customers on the South Coast.

BC Ferries has cancelled several early-morning sailings between Tsawwassen and Duke Point near Nanaimo.

TransLink was reporting at 6 a.m. that the heavy wind and rain were causing stop-and-go service on some SkyTrain routes.

The first West Coast Express train has been delayed by a fallen tree and is expected to to be one hour late arriving in Vancouver, making the second train half an hour late as well.

In Delta, Highway 10 Eastbound was closed by a fallen tree around 6 a.m.

The storm also knocked out CBC Radio's FM transmitter on Mount Seymour for a short while. more

Occupy Toronto protesters defy eviction order

Occupy Toronto protesters awoke Tuesday morning in St. James Park, their presence largely unchanged despite a judge’s ruling a day earlier that deemed the camp illegal.

On Monday, Justice David Brown issued a ruling that upholds city-issued eviction orders that demand protesters take down their tents and stop camping in the park.

At midnight, many residents showed up to support protesters in the park, which is at the corner of King Street East and Church Street. Most supporters left when it became clear that protesters would not be evicted from their camp, which has been in place since an international day of protest Oct. 15.

Police told CBC News on Tuesday they want to give protesters more time to leave, but CBC’s Trevor Dunn said most plan to stay.

“It really looks like any other day here at Occupy Toronto,” Dunn reported. “The only difference was that last night’s stay here was illegal. It looks like police are in no hurry to evict these protesters and the protesters are in no hurry to leave.” more

South Korea pulls plug on late-night adolescent online gamers: Is video game addiction a worldwide problem?

In its effort to curb game addiction among adolescents, South Korea pulled the plug this weekend on young gamers after midnight by blocking access to game websites, putting a hotly debated law into practice.

The new system called the "shutdown law," also referred to as the "Cinderella law," blocks those under the age of 16 from accessing gaming websites after midnight and has fueled heated anger among younger gamers and avid game fans. The new rule does not affect mobile games or certain games used on social networking websites.

As South Korea, which has one of the richest online gaming cultures in the world, tries to battle gaming addiction that has led to serious consequences, it struggles to find effective means to selectively help those in need. Roughly 8% of the population between the ages of 9 to 39 suffers from Internet addiction, according to a study conducted in 2010 by the National Information Society Agency (NIA), which runs a national Internet addiction counseling center. The addiction rate for those between 9 and 12 was highest at 14%, according to the NIA.

The government is heavily involved in treating people for gaming addiction by holding workshops on prevention education at schools and offering counseling for students with an addiction.

However, internet users have flooded the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, which initiated the policy, website with postings calling the new measure "a waste of money," "idiotic" and "useless," and questioning whether it will prevent young gamers from playing into late hours. more

Clashes erupt in Egypt ahead of 'million man' event

Fresh violence broke out near Cairo's Tahrir Square Tuesday, a day after Egypt's Cabinet offered to resign.

For several hours, protesters hurled stones at police and chanted, calling for the downfall of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. The military-led government began leading the country after protesters ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Demonstrators apparently tried to defend Tahrir Square as they faced off with police on a connecting street. The square was once a hub for the movement that led to Mubarak's ouster and is now a center for the protests against Egypt's military rulers.

Egyptian police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, forcing protesters to retreat briefly before they returned with renewed intensity. Violence also spread to other parts of Egypt. more

Bid to program new life forms with 'operating system' for cells: Going too far?

No doubt, it is difficult to design operating systems for computers that simultaneously run numerous applications, while managing interactions between multiple types of hardware and responding to a multitude of commands from users.

Now imagine trying to design a similar operating system not for a laptop, a PC or even a smartphone, but rather for something much, much tinier -- a living biological cell.

This is exactly what a group of scientists at the University of Nottingham, in England, will attempt to do as part of a five-year, $1.58 million research project that has been aptly named AudACiOus -- which, according to researchers is derived from "towArds a Universal BiologicAl-Cell Operating System" with an extraneous "D" and "U" thrown in.

It is undoubtedly an audacious and ambitious initiative, but if the researchers are successful it could result in a major breakthrough for synthetic biology -- a relatively new and somewhat controversial interdisciplinary field.

It combines biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and engineering to program genetic components of a cell to perform new biological functions -- such as bacteria that could produce biofuel or vaccines. more

Russia slams new sanctions against Iran

Russia called new sanctions against Iran "unacceptable," saying the new punishments would hurt efforts to talk with Tehran.

The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a statement Tuesday, a day after the United States announced tougher sanctions against Iran -- joining Britain and Canada in a coordinated effort to tighten the screws around the country's suspected nuclear weapons program.

"Russia sees such extraterritorial measures as unacceptable and against international law," the statement says. "Such a practice seriously obstructs advancement toward a constructive dialogue with Tehran. Stronger sanction pressure, which some of our partners see almost as a goal in itself, will not encourage Iran to sit down at the negotiating table."

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the new measures target Iran's petrochemical industry and its oil and gas business. The United States also said Iran is a "primary money laundering concern."

Clinton said she expects additional sanctions by other international partners and that taken together "these measures represent a significant ratcheting up of pressure on Iran, its sources of income and its illegal activities." more

7 missing, 14 rescued after South Korean ship sinks; Cause for sinking remains unknown

Seven crew members from a South Korean cargo ship remained missing Tuesday after the boat sank Monday in the South China Sea, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

Fourteen people have been rescued, according to the ministry.

The ship was headed from Penang, Malaysia, to China and disappeared after sending out an emergency signal Monday afternoon. While six South Koreans and eight crew members from Myanmar were rescued by nearby vessels, seven seamen are still missing.

The Foreign Ministry said it is still hopeful, as one crew member was rescued at noon on Tuesday -- almost 20 hours after the ship requested assistance.

Hong Kong rescuers have deployed two helicopters and seven ships to help with the search and rescue operation, while two Chinese naval vessels were en route to the scene, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The 15,000-ton sunken vessel is the same ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2008 when eight sailors were held captive for 37 days, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. The cause of the sinking so far is unknown. source

Electric 'Multicopter' takes to the sky

It may lack the grace of an airship, or the class of Concorde, but the "Multicopter" has a style all of its own.

This somewhat awkward looking vehicle is the work of German company e-volo and a prototype has just made its first manned flight, after completing unmanned trials.

With e-volo's Thomas Senkel strapped into the center of its four-limbed frame, it flew for one minute and 30 seconds over a field in Southern Germany, powered by 16 small rotor blades.

E-volo says its creation is powered entirely by lithium batteries and can carry a load of around 80kg -- about as much as it weighs. more

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 22nd Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Kuril Islands at a depth of 200 km (124 miles), the quake hit at 13:19:04 UTC Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
The epicenter was 47 km ( 29.1 miles) North of Sentyabrskiy, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

7 missing, 14 rescued after South Korean ship sinks - 22nd Nov 2011

Seven crew members from a South Korean cargo ship remained missing Tuesday after the boat sank Monday in the South China Sea, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

Fourteen people have been rescued, according to the ministry.

The ship was headed from Penang, Malaysia, to China and disappeared after sending out an emergency signal Monday afternoon. While six South Koreans and eight Myanmarese were rescued by nearby vessels, seven seamen are still missing.

The Foreign Ministry said it is still hopeful, as one crew member was rescued at noon on Tuesday -- almost 20 hours after the ship requested assistance.

Hong Kong rescuers have deployed two helicopters and seven ships to help with the search and rescue operation, while two Chinese naval vessels were en route to the scene, according to the Foreign Ministry. Read More

Russia new sanctions against Iran "unacceptable" - 22nd Nov 2011

Russia called new sanctions against Iran "unacceptable," saying the new punishments would hurt efforts to talk with Tehran.

The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a statement Tuesday, a day after the United States announced tougher sanctions against Iran -- joining Britain and Canada in a coordinated effort to tighten the screws around the country's suspected nuclear weapons program.

"Russia sees such extraterritorial measures as unacceptable and against international law," the statement says. "Such a practice seriously obstructs advancement toward a constructive dialogue with Tehran. Stronger sanction pressure, which some of our partners see almost as a goal in itself, will not encourage Iran to sit down at the negotiating table."

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the new measures target Iran's petrochemical industry and its oil and gas business. The United States also said Iran is a "primary money laundering concern."

Clinton said she expects additional sanctions by other international partners and that taken together "these measures represent a significant ratcheting up of pressure on Iran, its sources of income and its illegal activities." Read More

3 Americans arrested in Egypt as clashes continue - 22nd Nov 2011

Three Americans were arrested Monday outside the Interior Ministry in Cairo's Tahrir Square and are accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during the protests in Egypt, a local prosecutor said.

"The three boys were throwing Molotov cocktails and had no passports on them when they were picked up," said Adel Saeed, a spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor's office.

David Lynfield, deputy press officer in the U.S. Embassy said the "claims are being currently investigated."

Authorities described the three Americans as students and said one had an Indiana driver's license.

"They have been questioned by the police and will be further investigated today by the Cairo prosecutor," Saeed said.

Tuesday marked the fourth consecutive day of clashes between protesters and police in and around Tahrir Square. Demonstrators are calling for the downfall of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, Egypt's current ruling body. Source

Passing Cloud is the plane of the future... except for the fact you'd freeze solid, then plunge to your doom - 21st Nov 2011

With passengers able to walk along its roof while floating serenely in the sky, this futuristic plane looks too good to be true.

But the Portuuese designer of the world's first cloud plane is confident that his revolutionary idea could soon go into production.

Passing Cloud is an idea for a novel mode of transportation designed for the traveller less bothered about the destination than the journey.

Propelled and steered by wind alone the plane would travel around the USA allowing customers a unique insight into life above the chimney tops.

The revolutionary airbus would be constructed from a series of spherical balloons with an inner stainless steel structure covered with nylon fabric. Read More