Saturday, November 26, 2011

Widow Dies After Muggers Take Husband's Ashes

An elderly widow has died after muggers stole her handbag containing her husband's ashes - which she had carried for 17 years.

Nellie Geraghty, 79, suffered fatal head injuries as she desperately tried to cling onto the bag during the robbery in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Police have launched a murder inquiry after she died in Royal Oldham Hospital at around midnight on Friday. Two youths, aged 14 and 17, have been arrested on suspicion of robbery.

Mrs Geraghty was found collapsed in an alleyway near her home in Shaw just before noon on Thursday.

Inside her handbag was a blue velvet bag she made herself containing the ashes of her husband, Frank, which she had carried with her since he died 17 years ago.

She was also carrying £200 in cash. The black handbag was missing at the scene but the strap was still in the pensioner's hand.

A statement issued by the victim's family said: "Nellie is much loved and will always be remembered by all her friends and family.

"We have lost the best mum in the world, the best sister, grandmother, auntie and friend a person could ever have.

"The world would be a better place if there were more people like you. Heaven will be blessed with your presence. Our sad loss is heaven's gain.

"We will miss you terribly, until we meet again, my mum, my sister my friend rest in peace." more

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 26th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:22:32 UTC Saturday 26th November 2011.
The epicenter was 10 km ( 6.2 miles) Southwest of Van, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time.

Zakaria: Why all of South Korea went silent -- Is this why so many South Korean children are killing themselves?



Those of you who watched our recent education special saw the exhausting study habits of South Korean students. The culmination of that pressure was last week when almost 700,000 South Korean high school students took the test they had spent all those hours working toward.

It was a wild scene outside test centers as younger kids cheered on the heroic test-takers as they arrived. Police motorcycles even whisked the late ones to school.

But when it came time for the high schoolers to begin the grueling nine-hour exam, silence was the order. Planes were grounded, honking was banned and teachers refrained from wearing squeaky shoes for fear of distracting the students. Relatives prayed outside the school gates for good results.

Why all the fuss? Well, it's widely believed in South Korea that this test determines which college a student will go to, which company they will then work at, the size of their eventual paycheck and even whom they will marry. That's pretty intense pressure.
source

Ai Weiwei supporters post nude photos to protest porn allegations

Fans of China's outspoken artist Ai Weiwei are not shy when it comes to posing nude.

The nude photos are part of an effort by Ai fans to show their support for the controversial artist who says he's being investigated on porn charges. The latest allegations come after Ai was slapped with tax evasion charges, which he says is punishment for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government.

Beginning this month, thousands of Ai supporters have donated money to help him pay an estimated 15 million yuan ($2.3 million) fine that the Beijing tax bureau says his design company Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. owes in back taxes. Ai paid $1.3 million last week to prevent his wife, who runs the company, from going to jail and to appeal the charges. more

China spending big money to avoid Arab spring fever

China's ruling Communist Party is looking within for threats to its control over the country, spending more money on securing its population of over one billion than it did on its military last year, according to a new report to the U.S. Congress.

Conflicts in the Middle East with the popular Arab Spring movement have done nothing to assuage the government's fears, according to the report from a Congressional advisory panel.

"The party has created an extensive police and surveillance network to monitor its citizens and react to any potential threat to stability," the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated in the report.

The 12-person expert panel, which was created in 2000 to advise Congress on the U.S. policy toward China, said when you add up spending on police, state security, armed militias, as well as courts and jails, China invested $83.5 billion in domestic security in 2010, surpassing their reported military budget of $81.2 billion. According to the report China's domestic security budget is going up, scheduled to grow faster than military spending in the years to come.

"China doesn't really perceive any external threat. It does recognize the possibility, but it's not imminent," said James Dobbins an analyst with the Rand Corporation. more

Many similarities in Arab Spring, European chaos

The victory of the opposition Popular Party in Spain's general election means that seven leaders or governments around the Mediterranean have been thrown out within the last year, amid an explosion of popular protest. Several more are fighting for their survival. Places often perceived as the cradle of civilization have become bywords for political chaos. The causes are various, but there are common strands that suggest the fallout from 2011 will be with us for many years to come.

In the Arab world, a younger (urban) generation rebelled against authoritarian dynasties and a stifling lack of opportunity. Young Tunisians and Egyptians saw that their contemporaries elsewhere -- in countries like India, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil -- had opportunity, the oxygen of free expression, growing income. Meantime, young Arabs were still trapped under the heel of unresponsive, corrupt regimes in stagnant economies.

In Europe, the consequence of bloated state spending within the straitjacket of the eurozone -- the 17 countries that use the single European currency -- was a contradiction bound to end in tears. Former British Prime Minister John Major wrote in the Financial Times this month, "The root of the present chaos can be traced back to bad politics taking precedence over sensible economics." If the Arab protests were motivated by a "crisis of comparison," Europe's was a "crisis of entitlement" built on false expectations. more

Can Italy be saved? If not, what happens next?

As the economist Mario Monti’s new government takes office in Italy, much is at stake – for the country, for Europe and for the global economy. If reforms falter, public finances collapse and anemic growth persists, Italy’s commitment to the euro will diminish as the perceived costs of membership come to outweigh the benefits. And Italy’s defection from the common currency – unlike that of smaller countries, like Greece – would threaten the eurozone to the core.

Italy is a large economy, with annual GDP of more than $2 trillion. Its public debt is 120% of GDP, or roughly $2.4 trillion, which does not include the liabilities of a pension system in need of significant adjustments to reflect an aging population and increased longevity. As a result, Italy has become the world’s third-largest sovereign-debt market.

But rising interest rates are causing the debt-service burden to become onerous and politically unsustainable. Furthermore, Italy must refinance €275 billion ($372 billion) of its debt in the next six months, while investors, seeking to reduce their financial exposure to the country, are driving the yield on Italian ten-year bonds to prohibitively high levels – currently above 7%.

The need to refinance outstanding debt is not the only challenge. Domestic and foreign bondholders, especially banks, have experienced capital losses, which have damaged balance sheets, capital adequacy, and confidence. The trade and current-account deficits are large and rising, probably reflecting a loss of competitiveness and productivity relative to Germany and France, two of Italy’s largest trading partners. Moreover, economic growth has been slow for the past decade, and is not accelerating, which will make it difficult to lower the public-debt burden even with fiscal consolidation. more

Zakaria: Will the North Koreans rise up?



I noticed a strange item in the news this week. An estimated 200 North Koreans are stranded in Libya right now, among them doctors and nurses whose services are much needed back home. Why are they there? Why can't they go back?

Well, it turns out that they were sent to Libya to earn desperately needed hard currency for North Korea's tyrant, Kim Jong-Il. But now, despite Gadhafi's death and the changing circumstances, he'd rather these essential workers stay away. The same goes for hundreds of other doctors, nurses, technicians and other workers in Tunisia and Egypt.

Why? The Arab spring.

The Dear Leader doesn't want these people, who have seen street protests succeed and dictatorships fall, to return and talk about it. In fact, editorials in South Korean newspapers say that only 1% of North Koreans have even heard of the Arab spring. But how you would have such an exact figure beats me.

What we can say for sure is that the North Korean press has simply not reported on any of the popular uprisings of 2011, obviously for fear of sparking protests within North Korea. In fact, Pyongyang issued a statement in March simply saying Libya's dismantling of its nuclear weapons program made it more vulnerable to western intervention. In other words, 'We, the North Koreans, will keep our nukes as our insurance policy against regime change.' So don't expect Pyongyang to disarm anytime soon. The regime interprets the fall of Gadhafi as a cautionary tale. Don't disarm; don't try to talk to the west; don't open up. more

Egypt’s dire economy



Some eight months after the ouster of its long-serving strongman, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s revolution remains the most prominent byproduct of the so-called “Arab Spring.” But where, exactly, is Cairo headed? While there remains no shortage of optimism about Egypt’s future in many quarters, a close look at the economic indicators suggests that the country may not be moving toward post-revolutionary stability at all. In fact, it is rapidly heading in the opposite direction.

Since this spring, in a development largely unnoticed by the outside world, the Egyptian economy has virtually imploded. Between February and June of this year, the country’s stock exchange shrank by nearly a quarter, sending shock waves through the region’s jittery financial markets. Worried over the Egyptian government’s post-revolutionary solvency, the International Monetary Fund proffered some $3 billion in preferential financing to the new government to stabilize the economy. But Cairo chose to reject the offer, believing that Middle Eastern nations would step in and fill the void with the necessary investment and aid.

Unfortunately, they haven’t. Despite lofty pledges of assistance, tangible help from the Persian Gulf’s wealthy monarchies has been exceedingly slow in coming. (Egypt is still in negotiations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE for a notional $5 billion in loans, while Qatar has delivered on a grant of $500 million, but only in recent days.) more

Great Plains water pumping imperils fish

Great Plains river basins are threatened by pumping of groundwater from aquifers, risking a bleak future for native fish in many streams, U.S. researchers say.

Unlike alluvial aquifers, which can be replenished with rain and snow, these regional aquifers were created by melting glaciers during the last Ice Age, the researchers say, and when that water is gone, it's gone for good.

"It is a finite resource that is not being recharged," Jeffrey Falke, a researcher at Oregon State University and lead author on the study, said.

"That water has been there for thousands of years, and it is rapidly being depleted. Already, streams that used to run year-round are becoming seasonal, and refuge habitats for native fishes are drying up and becoming increasingly fragmented."

In a three-year study of the Arikaree River in eastern Colorado, researchers concluded that during the next 35 years only slightly more than half of the current fish refuge pools would remain.

Falke and his colleagues say it would require a 75 percent reduction in the rate of groundwater pumping to maintain current water table levels and refuge pools, which is "not economically or politically feasible," the study said.

Pumping of regional aquifers is done almost entirely for agriculture, Falke said, with about 90 percent of the irrigation aimed at corn production, along with some alfalfa and wheat. more

The Electric Car Paradox: Can We Switch To Electric Cars? Sadly, no...

The simple answer is no - and the complicated answer is also no.

Consumers in almost any motorized car loving country, now including China and India whose car industries have until recently shown straight-line upward growth (with China already vastly outdistancing the USA by car output) have a common complaint at the fuel filling station. They whine and complain about oil prices because they buy gasoline and diesel fuel almost daily, at least regularly, and are keenly aware of price changes. These are usually upward.

The "problem of Peak Oil" has been dusted off in 2011, and has started becoming an almost respectable theme for the elected, and self-elected political and corporate guardians of consumer society and civilization (if we can call it a civilization). Their answer is now: Electric cars and vehicles, collectively called EVs.

It sounds neat on paper, and leading editorialists - myopic visionaries with rose coloured glasses - quite regularly beat the drum for "switching" from oil-fuelled mass car fleets, to electrically propelled mass car fleets. In their most delirious flights of fancy, The Switch is presented as being possible and able to operated "almost overnight". Leading politicians who defend the all-electric road transport future, such as France's Sarkozy and Germany's Merkel, gaily talk about millions, even a low number of tens of millions of EVs on the roads of their countries by about 2021. Ten years is an awful long way in the future for politicians who, with luck, might cling on to power another 6 months! more

J&J to nix baby-product contaminant within 2 years (Wait, within two *years*?!)

Johnson & Johnson, responding to complaints about a potentially carcinogenic chemical in its baby shampoos, said it plans within two years to eliminate formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from hundreds of its baby products.

Chief Executive William Weldon made the pledge on Wednesday in a letter to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a consumer group which earlier this month urged J&J to remove from its baby shampoo a preservative called quaternium-15.

The chemical is considered by the government to be a possible trigger for some cancers and skin allergies. It is added to many cosmetic products to prevent spoiling and contamination, and works by releasing formaldehyde to kill bacteria.

J&J previously said it had been phasing out formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from its baby products since 2009, when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics first raised its concerns with the company about its baby shampoo.

But Weldon, in his letter to the group, provided a more-concrete timetable, saying J&J has begun providing "alternatives to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and expect(s) to finish this process in our hundreds of baby products around the world within about two years, and sooner for our baby shampoos." more

Triple threat paints grim future for frogs

Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians may eventually have no haven left on the globe because of a triple threat of worsening scourges, a new study predicts.

Scientists have long known that amphibians are under attack from a killer fungus, climate change and shrinking habitat. In the study appearing online Wednesday in the journal Nature, computer models project that in about 70 years those three threats will spread, leaving no part of the world immune from one of the problems.

Frogs seem to have the most worrisome outlook, said study lead author Christian Hof of the Biodiversity and Climate Research Center in Frankfurt.

Meanwhile, federal scientists in the United States are meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, this week to monitor the situation and figure out how to reverse it.

Several important U.S. amphibian species — boreal toads in the U.S. Rocky Mountains and the mountain yellow legged frog in the Sierra Nevada Mountains — are shrinking in numbers, said zoologist Steve Corn, who is part of the U.S. Geological Survey's Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. The western part of the United States has the problem worse than does the East. more

UN warns of staple crop virus 'epidemic'

UN scientists are warning that a virus attacking the cassava plant is nearing an epidemic in parts of Africa.

Cassava is one of the world's most important crops providing up to a third of the calorie intake for many people.

The food and agriculture organisation of the UN says the situation is urgent and are calling for an increase in funding for surveillance.

None of the varieties of cassava being distributed to farmers in Africa appears to be resistant to the virus.

Cassava is a global food source of particular importance in Africa as it does well on poor soils with low rainfall.

But like many crops it is threatened by a number of pests and diseases that hinder its production. Viral infections have periodically wiped out the crop in some regions leading to famine.

Now the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that another virus is threatening the crop in large parts of East Africa.

The scientists say the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) is on the verge of becoming an epidemic. It first appeared in Uganda in 2006 but in the past few months has been found in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time. more

Erratic, extreme day-to-day weather puts climate change in new light

The first climate study to focus on variations in daily weather conditions has found that day-to-day weather has grown increasingly erratic and extreme, with significant fluctuations in sunshine and rainfall affecting more than a third of the planet.

Princeton University researchers recently reported in the Journal of Climate that extremely sunny or cloudy days are more common than in the early 1980s, and that swings from thunderstorms to dry days rose considerably since the late 1990s. These swings could have consequences for ecosystem stability and the control of pests and diseases, as well as for industries such as agriculture and solar-energy production, all of which are vulnerable to inconsistent and extreme weather, the researchers noted.

The day-to-day variations also could affect what scientists could expect to see as the Earth's climate changes, according to the researchers and other scientists familiar with the work. Constant fluctuations in severe conditions could alter how the atmosphere distributes heat and rainfall, as well as inhibit the ability of plants to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, possibly leading to higher levels of the greenhouse gas than currently accounted for.

Existing climate-change models have historically been evaluated against the average weather per month, an approach that hides variability, explained lead author David Medvigy, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton. To conduct their analysis, he and co-author Claudie Beaulieu, a postdoctoral research fellow in Princeton's Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, used a recently developed computer program that has allowed climatologists to examine weather data on a daily level for the first time, Medvigy said. more

Study links Parkinson's disease to industrial solvent

An international study has linked an industrial solvent to Parkinson's disease.

Researchers found a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson's in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene (TCE).

Although many uses for TCE have been banned around the world, the chemical is still used as a degreasing agent.

The research was based on analysis of 99 pairs of twins selected from US data records.

Parkinson's can result in limb tremors, slowed movement and speech impairment, but the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, and there is no cure.

Research to date suggests a mix of genetic and environmental factors may be responsible. A link has previously been made with pesticide use. more

Greenhouse Gases Hit Record Levels; Concentrations Exceed Scientists' Worst-Case Scenarios

Global warming gases have hit record levels in the world's atmosphere, with concentrations of carbon dioxide up 39 percent since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the U.N. weather agency said Monday.

The new figures for 2010 from the World Meteorological Organization show that CO2 levels are now at 389 parts per million, up from about 280 parts per million a quarter-millenium ago. The levels are significant because the gases trap heat in the atmosphere.

WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jeremiah Lengoasa said CO2 emissions are to blame for about four-fifths of the rise. But he noted the lag between what gets pumped into the atmosphere and its effect on climate.

"With this picture in mind, even if emissions were stopped overnight globally, the atmospheric concentrations would continue for decades because of the long lifetime of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," he said.

Negotiators from virtually all the world's nations will gather later this month in South Africa to try to agree on steps to head off the worst of the climate disruptions that researchers say will result if concentrations hit around 450 parts per million.

That could happen within several decades at the current rate, though some climate activists and vulnerable nations say the world has already passed the danger point of 350 parts per million and must somehow undo it. more

Estrogen In Drinking Water: Prostate Cancer Deaths Linked In New Study

Researchers suggest there may be a link between estrogen from oral contraceptives that has found its way into the environment and rising rates of prostate cancer among men around the world.

In a study in the online publication BMJ Open, researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto looked at the percentage of women using the pill, intrauterine devices, condoms and vaginal barrier contraceptives in 87 countries, then examined the incidence and deaths from prostate cancer.

"Looking at these percentages, we find a strong correlation between female use of oral contraceptives at a population level and both new cases of prostate cancer and mortality from prostate cancer," said lead author Dr. David Margel, a urologist and fellow in uro-oncology.

"This was not found among other contraceptive modes," he said. "We also checked the percentage use of intrauterine devices or condoms or vaginal barriers and the same relation was not found."

The research team used data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the UN World Contraceptive Use report to determine rates of prostate cancer and associated deaths as well as the proportion of women using common methods of contraception in 2007. more

Two Degrees of Disaster: The world inches dangerously close to a catastrophic 2C change in temperature

Two years ago, at a meeting in Copenhagen, world leaders agreed on the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, or roughly three and a half degrees Fahrenheit. The so-called Copenhagen Accord, which Barack Obama personally helped negotiate, contained no mechanism for meeting this goal, so even though the President called it a “meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough,” many others questioned whether it was worth the proverbial paper it was printed on. Unfortunately, it now seems, the many others had a point.

On Wednesday, the Paris-based International Energy Agency released its annual “World Energy Outlook.” Among the report’s key findings is that, in spite of a shaky economy, global carbon-dioxide emissions rose by five per cent last year, to more than thirty billion metric tons. Meanwhile, energy efficiency—defined as the amount of energy used per unit of economic output—declined for the second year in a row. According to the I.E.A., “The door to 2°C is closing.” The group warned that unless dramatic action is taken by 2017, so many additional billions of tons of emissions will effectively be “locked in” that a temperature increase exceeding two degrees will become inevitable.

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re heading,” the report said. more

Winter in Massachusetts undergoing redefinition due to warming climate

The “change of seasons” used to mean something different.

Winter in Massachusetts is undergoing a redefinition due to a warming climate.

Already, the mean temperature in Amherst in winter - for December, January and February - has risen about 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, according to a study by a University of New Hampshire researcher.

And, average winter temperatures throughout Massachusetts may rise an additional 2 to 5 degrees by 2050 and 4 to 10 degrees by 2100 due to continued global warming, according to a new report prepared for the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. more

Dead Sea turning into massive environmental disaster

Here at the lowest place on earth, in 75 degree sunshine, Olga Alexarkin is sitting on a deckchair in bathing suit and gazing eastwards across the radiantly blue, imponderably deep, Dead Sea towards the Jordanian cliffs 11 miles away.

In a moment she will plunge into the little waves thrown up by the desert breeze, and bob effortlessly on her back supported by the planet's most buoyant water, so saturated with salt that it will sting scratches she never knew she had.

But first, she talks about why she has come here once a month since emigrating to Israel in 1998; for the view, little changed since pre-historic times, for the air, with its abnormally low pollen and high oxygen count; for the unique health giving minerals of the sea itself, and for the steep walks through the acacia trees and herds of agile ibex along the nearby David spring. This is simply, she sighs, "the best place in the world".

The government of Israel is hoping enough people will agree with Mrs Alexarkin to have voted for the Dead Sea to be one of the "New 7 Wonders of Nature" when the results of an international contest run by a website of the same name are announced this morning. more

Dirty air fosters precipitation extremes

Even clouds can suffer from inhaling air pollution, a new study finds, resulting in extreme rainfall patterns that appear to be altering climate across the globe.

Farmers, municipal water authorities and others who depend on rainfall prefer moderate, dependable precipitation. But as soot and other minute airborne particles — a class of pollutants known as aerosols — get sucked into clouds, the pollution can dramatically alter when clouds deposit rain. The discovery emerged from analyzing every one of thousands of clouds passing over federal monitoring instruments at a site in the western United States over a 10-year period, explains Zhanqing Li of the University of Maryland in College Park.

“Haze, storms, drought and flood: We found very strong evidence that they are well connected,” he said in Washington, D.C., on November 10 at the Symposium on Stratospheric Ozone and Climate Change. He and colleagues published the findings online November 13 in Nature Geoscience.

“This is the first study to clearly establish the link between aerosols, precipitation and climate,” says Renyi Zhang of Texas A&M University in College Station.

The effects Li and his colleagues saw depended not only on pollution concentrations but also on moisture levels and cloud types. In relatively low-lying clouds where the moisture is liquid in the form of tiny droplets, increasing aerosol concentration tended to suppress precipitation, especially when relative humidity was low.

In clouds, water molecules latch onto aerosols and continue to grow until they collect enough moisture and form rain. But Li and his colleagues found that if there were too many aerosols in a cloud, not much water attached to any individual aerosol. That left water droplets that were too small to fall as rain. more

Can the oceans continue to feed us?

Far out on the Pacific Ocean, the world's industrial fishing fleets pursue one of the last huge wild hunts — for the tuna eaten by millions of people around the world.

Yet tuna still aren't fished sustainably, something that conservationists and big U.S. tuna companies are trying to fix. This illustrates one part of the pressure on the world's oceans to feed a growing global population, now 7 billion. It also underscores the difficulties people have in balancing what they take against what must be left in order to have enough supplies of healthy wild fish.

"It's serious. On a global basis, we've pretty much found all the fish we're going to find," said Mike Hirshfield, chief scientist at the advocacy group Oceana. "There's not a lot of hidden fish out there. And we're still heading in the wrong direction, taken as a whole." more

Monarch butterflies decline at wintering grounds in Mexico, Texas drought adds to stress to migration

Every fall, millions of monarch butterflies travel south to Mexico and take refuge in twelve mountain sanctuaries of oyamel fir forests. Now, declining numbers of the overwintering butterflies expose the migration’s vulnerability and raise questions about threats throughout the monarch’s lifecycle.

A study published online last spring in Insect Conservation and Diversity shows a decrease in Mexico’s overwintering monarch butterflies between 1994 and 2011. The butterflies face loss of wintering habitat in Mexico and breeding habitat in the United States. Extreme weather, like winter storms in Mexico and the ongoing drought in Texas, adds yet another challenge.

The seeds of the decline date back more than 40 years as commercial and subsistence logging—now illegal in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve—have fragmented the forest on which the butterflies depend for winter survival. Between 1971 and 1999, logging degraded 44 percent of the high-quality overwintering habitat within the reserve. more

Self-serving myths of Europe’s neo-Calvinists

If you have half an hour, read this paper (pdf) by Philip Whyte and Simon Tilford for the Centre for European Reform.

It is a forensic look into the deeper causes of Europe’s crisis and why the reactionary policies being imposed on two thirds of the eurozone by Germany’s Wolfgang Schauble and the northern neo-Calvinists – with input from 1930s liquidationists at the ECB – will lead to certain disaster.

It has been out for a week, but I have only got round to reading it. Better late than never. The CER is a pro-EU group with a broadly free-market leaning.

Here are a few extracts:

European policy-makers have been reluctant to concede that the eurozone is institutionally flawed. Even now, many assert that the crisis is not one of the eurozone itself, but of errant behaviour within it. If certain countries had not broken the rules, they argue, the eurozone would never have run into trouble. The way to restore confidence, it follows, is to ensure that rules are rigorously enforced.

These claims are wrong on almost every count. It is now clear that a monetary union outside a fiscal union is a deeply unstable arrangement; and that efforts to fix this flaw with stricter and more rigid rules are making the eurozone less stable, not more.

The reason the eurozone is governed by rules is that few of its member-states – least of all its wealthier North European ones – have any appetite for fiscal union. Crudely, rules (gouvernance) exist because common fiscal institutions (gouvernement) do not. But rules are no substitute for common institutions. And tighter rules do not amount to greater fiscal integration.

The hallmark of fiscal integration is mutualisation – a greater pooling of budgetary resources, joint debt issuance, a common backstop to the banking system, and so on. Tighter rules are not so much a path to mutualisation, as an attempt to prevent it from happening.

This course of action is more likely to precipitate the euro’s disintegration than its survival. more

Syria's Assad faces Kadhafi's fate: Barak

Syria's president has reached "a point of no return" and faces the same fate as former despots in Libya and Iraq, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday.

"I think that he went beyond the point of no return, no way that he will he resume his authority or legitimacy," Barak told a defense summit, predicting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime could fall within months under growing international and internal pressures.

"And it's clear to me that what happened a few weeks ago to Kadhafi... and what happened ultimately to Saddam Hussein, now might await him," he said.

Former Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi was killed on October 20 when forces of Libya's new regime captured his hometown of Sirte. Saddam Hussein was hanged in December 2006 after being sentenced for the deaths of 148 Iraqi Shiites in the early 1980s.

The UN says a crackdown in Syria has killed more than 3,500 people since mid-March.

Across the country on Saturday, at least 17 people were killed, according to activists, as an Arab League deadline for Damascus to stop its lethal crackdown on dissent was set to expire. more

Scientists Find Evidence for Subsurface 'Great Lake' on Europa

In a finding of significance in the search for life beyond Earth, scientists have discovered what appears to be a body of liquid water the volume of the North American Great Lakes locked inside the icy shell of Jupiter's moon Europa - which could represent a new potential habitat for life.

Many more such lakes exist throughout the shallow regions of Europa's shell, the researchers predict in an online article in the journal Nature.

Further increasing the potential for life, many of these lakes are covered by floating ice shelves that seem to be collapsing, providing a mechanism for transferring nutrients and energy between the surface and a vast ocean already thought to exist below the thick ice shell.

"The potential for exchange of material between the surface and subsurface is a big key for astrobiology," says Wes Patterson, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and a co-author of the study.

"Europa's subsurface harbors much of what we believe is necessary for life but chemical nutrients found at the surface are likely vital for driving biology."

"One opinion in the scientific community has been, 'If the ice shell is thick, that's bad for biology - that it might mean the surface isn't communicating with the underlying ocean," adds Britney Schmidt, the paper's lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Geophysics. more

Pakistan asks U.S. to vacate Shamsi Airbase in Southwest of the Country within 15 days - 26th Nov 2011

Pakistan to review ALL diplomatic, military & Intelligence Activities with U.S. and NATO

At least 3 dead and scores injured as Indonesia's 'Golden Gate Bridge' collapses - 26th Nov 2011

Report says 100 people taken to hospital; bus, cars and motorcycles went into water.

A busy bridge collapsed Saturday in central Indonesia, killing at least three people and injuring many more as a bus, cars and motorcycles crashed into the river below, police and witnesses said.

Capt. Syafii Nafsikin said search and rescue teams rushed to the scene.

The death toll could climb, he said, adding that many people were believed to be injured.

The bridge linking the towns of Tenggarong and Samarinda in East Kalimantan province was clogged with traffic when the accident occurred, Syaiful, a witness, told local TV station TVOne Read More

Lowry hotel, Manchester Poisons at least 80 guests with their Chicken Pate - 25th Nov 2011

A LUXURY five-star hotel is at the centre of a major food poisoning probe after 80 guests fell ill after a fundraising dinner.

Diners at Salford's Lowry Hotel reported fever, dizziness and vomiting after attending an event at what has been dubbed Manchester's most fashionable hotel.

The outbreak is being linked to chicken pate served at a charity dinner and is now being investigated by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and officers from Salford council.

It is the first incident of its kind at the hotel since it opened 10 years ago. The Lowry, part of the Rocco Forte hotel group, was recently awarded the highest five-star hygiene rating. Read more

Snow Avalanche Kills 3 in Kyrgyzstan - 26th Nov 2011

A snow avalanche killed three people in Kyrgyzstan, two of them were Chinese citizens, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Emergency Situations told Xinhua Friday.

The avalanche, carrying a snow volume of 105,000 cubic meters, occurred Thursday morning on the Bishkek-Osh highway, which has seen several avalanches recently.

During search and clean-out Friday evening, rescuers found a Lexus car buried under the snow rubble, in which the bodies of a Kyrgyz citizen and two Chinese citizens were found.

All three worked in the Chinese gold mining company Kaidi, confirmed the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan.

Earlier, the Ministry of Emergency Situations had recommended that people avoid traveling on the Bishkek-Osh highway. Source

Earthquake swarm: over 700 Earthquakes hits El Salvador within 24 hours, damaging homes - 25th Nov 2011

More than 700 slight to moderate earthquakes hit an area in eastern El Salvador in a 24-hour period, damaging dozens of homes but hurting no one.

The brief quakes, which started Thursday and ranged from 1.8 to 4.6 in magnitude, have occurred in the municipality of El Carmen, some 163 km (101 miles) east of the capital of San Salvador, the country's National Territory agency said.

Jorge Melendez, in charge of civil protection, said on Friday that 80 homes were damaged by the tremors, known as an earthquake swarm. A hospital in the area showed cracks on the walls but no structural damage so far, he said.

Army troops were sent in to monitor the damaged areas. While authorities have not ordered evacuations yet, many residents of El Carmen chose to sleep in the open and the army was handing out tents.

El Salvador suffered two powerful earthquakes ten years ago: one of 7.6 magnitude in January 2001 and another of 6.6 magnitude a month later. The quakes killed more than 1,150 people and left about one million others homeless. Source

'163 Bangladeshi Workers missing in trawler capsize on their way to Malaysia' - 26th Nov 2011

A trawler carrying Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia has capsized in the Bay of Bengal and 163 passengers are missing, a survivor says.

The boat sank in the early hours of Friday near Myanmar's Naikkhangdiya coast, Mohammad Rafiq, a worker from Shahparir Dwip, told bdnews24.com.

According to Rafiq, there were 180 passengers on board, all intending to cross illegally into Malaysia in search of work. An agent, Sharif Hossain, was with them.

The boat had headed off from Teknaf around 3.30am.

Near Naikkhangdiya, the boat capsized and only 17 were able to swim ashore, Rafiq said.

The Coast Guard, Border Guard Bangladesh and local police were contacted but could not confirm the incident. Source

CO2 climate sensitivity 'overestimated' - 25th Nov 2011

Global temperatures could be less sensitive to changing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels than previously thought, a study suggests.

The researchers said people should still expect to see "drastic changes" in climate worldwide, but that the risk was a little less imminent.

Previous climate models have tended to used meteorological measurements from the past 150 years to estimate the climate's sensitivity to rising CO2.

From these models, scientists find it difficult to narrow their projections down to a single figure with any certainty, and instead project a range of temperatures that they expect, given a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from pre-industrial levels.

The new analysis, which incorporates palaeoclimate data into existing models, attempts to project future temperatures with a little more certainty. Read More

Results >>>>>>>>


Arab League prepares for Syria sanctions - 26th Nov 2011

Syrian forces killed four people in Homs city on Saturday, activists said, shortly before Arab ministers were due to draw up sanctions against Damascus over its crackdown on protests and failure to let observers into the country.

Damascus missed a Friday deadline to agree an Arab League proposal to send monitors to Syria, where the United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed in the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Despite Syria's pledge this month to withdraw its army from urban areas and let in the monitors, the violence has continued, prompting reprisals from the Arab League, stinging rebukes from Turkey and French proposals for humanitarian intervention.

Damascus, where the Assad family has ruled for 41 years, says regional powers helped incite the violence, which it blames on armed groups targeting civilians and its security forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people, including a 10-year-old child, were killed on Saturday in separate incidents across Homs, a centre of increasing opposition to Assad and deepening sectarian violence. Read More

Nato: 'Highly likely' we caused Pakistan troop deaths - 26th Nov 2011

It is "highly likely" that Nato aircraft were behind a deadly overnight raid on a Pakistani border checkpoint, a Nato spokesman has told the BBC.

Brigadier-General Carsten Jacobson said Nato was investigating how the incident occurred and sent condolences.

Pakistani officials have responded with fury to the incident, which they say killed at least 24 soldiers.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called it "outrageous" and convened an emergency meeting of the cabinet.

Pakistan's government promptly closed supply routes across its territory to Nato in Afghanistan. There are reports of some trucks on the main routes being told to turn back. Read More

Grandpa Arrested After Black Friday Brawl: Police brutality? Society gone wild?

Grandpa Arrested After Black Friday Brawl: MyFoxPHOENIX.com



Police swarmed a Buckeye Walmart Thursday night after a man inside was tackled to the ground during a rush to grab video games -- and there are differing stories about what led up to his arrest.

Some witnesses told Fox 10 that the actions taken by a police officer during a fight at that Walmart were wrong, but Buckeye police have a different story.

Witnesses told Fox 10 Friday morning that a grandfather was with his grandson and wife looking at video games. They said that people were tearing the box of games apart, trying to get to the videos, and a woman ended up getting punched.

"You literally would have thought there was a cure for cancer in this box, people were going insane," said witness Skylar Stone, who saw the whole thing and called it 'uncalled for.'

The grandson was trampled on in all the mayhem -- even cutting his lip. His grandpa put the game in his waistband so that he could lift the boy out of the crowd, according to some witnesses.

Witnesses said that's when a police officer grabbed the man and slammed him to the ground – possibly thinking he was stealing the game. more

Dow, S&P Log Worst Thanksgiving Week Since 1932

Stocks closed in negative territory in thin, shortened trading Friday as investors were reluctant to go long ahead of the weekend and amid ongoing worries over the euro zone.

The Dow and S&P posted their worst Thanksgiving week since the Great Depression on a percentage basis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average erased their gains to finish lower, led by H-P [HPQ 25.39 -0.39 (-1.51%) ] and Chevron [CVX 92.29 -1.46 (-1.56%) ].

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ended lower, logging a seventh consecutive decline. Some traders are watching for 1,150 on the S&P as the next key level.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended above 34.

Among key S&P sectors, consumer staples and utilities led the gainers, while energy and techs lagged.

"Again, we're trading on very thin volume—You're going to have continued downward pressure over the next 30 days," said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt Trading. "It's very difficult to be long this market because you have so many issues—there's more potential for negative headlines than positive ones."

In Europe, S&P downgraded Belgium one notch to AA from AA-plus, further underscoring worries over the euro zone debt contagion. more

Has the Bank Run Begun in Europe?

In many ways, the answer to that question is obviously yes.

Money-market funds [cnbc explains] in the United States have quite dramatically slammed shut their lending windows to European banks. According to the Economist, Fitch estimates U.S. money market funds have withdrawn 42 percent of their money from European banks in general.

And for France that number is even higher — 69 percent. European money-market funds are also getting in on the act.

Bond issuance by banks has seized up because buyers have gone on strike.

From the Economist's Free Exchange Blog:

In the third quarter bonds issues by European banks only reached 15 percent of the amount they raised over the same period in the past two years, reckon analysts at Citi Group. It is unlikely that European banks have sold many more bonds since.

Corporate depositors are also pulling their cash. more

Ginger Seal Shunned by Colony becomes a Russian Star


Things are looking up for the little ginger-coloured seal pup whose fate touched the world after being rejected by the rest of its sleek black family.

Left as an outcast, the vulnerable creature was found huddling under a pile of logs on Tyuleniy Island in the far east of Russia.

Photographer Anatoly Strakhov, 61, took heartbreaking pictures of the world's loneliest seal, which would have been unable to survive in the wild.

Two months on and Russians have taken the rare albino seal - who turns out to be female - to their hearts.

Named Nafanya - after a lookalike Soviet cartoon character - the seal was given VIP treatment and has now moved into a plush new home at the country's leading aqauarium.

Nafanya was taken on a 7,890-mile odyssey to the Russian mainland and then by special plane to Adler, near Sochi on the Black Sea coast, where she is rapidly becoming a star attraction.

Yulia Frolova, head of the Akvatoria dolphinarium - Nafanya's new home, said: 'She now has a special enclosure with a pool, and two weeks after her arrival, people are already coming to see her.

And, quickly adapting to life among humans, the seal has her own live webcam so her worldwide fans can follow her. Read More

Steven King a Paedophile with HIV caught in police sting after he arranged to meet children five, six and ten for sex (jailed just 4 years)

A paedophile with HIV who arranged online to have sex with three young children has been jailed after not realising he was talking to an undercover policeman.

Steven King, who worked in the accounts department in a solicitors' office, made the two hour journey from his home thinking he was going to abuse the children aged five, six and 10.

The sick 30-year-old also bragged to the undercover officer that he had already raped a young boy aged just 13 years.

In a twisted message he told the policeman: 'Any age, younger the better.'

King was jailed for four years after admitting arranging the commission of child sex offences and two further counts of possessing indecent images.

The judge, sitting at Southwark Crown Court, was told how King began talking to the undercover officers in July this year when the officer claimed to have three young children. Read More

Belgium Downgraded by Credit rating agency Standard & Poor - 26th Nov 2011

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Belgium Friday as the sovereign debt crisis continues to spread across the continent.

The rating change put Belgium's rating down one notch to AA. That's the S&P's fourth-highest rating is still investment grade. But the rating agency warned it is considering further cuts, assigning it a negative outlook.

S&P cited "renewed funding and market risk pressure" in the downgrade announcement, saying those risks are "increasing the perception of difficulties in the Belgian financial sector and in our opinion raising the likelihood that the sector will require more sovereign support."

Worries about the European economy falling into a new recession and what it means to Belgium's budget situation was also cited by the agency.

"With exports of over 80% of GDP, Belgium is one of the most open economies in the eurozone and is therefore in our opinion highly susceptible to any weakening of external demand," it said.

S&P says it expects Belgium's debt will equal about 93% of its gross domestic product at the end of this year and could soon top 100%. Read More

Egyptian official: Police truck trying to leave chaos strikes, kills protester - 26th Nov 2011



A protester was killed in Cairo after a police truck trying to retreat from chaos in the city struck him, Egypt's Interior Ministry said Saturday.

"We issued a statement of apology for the death and expressed our condolences" to the family of 19-year-old Ahmed Suroor, said Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Marwan Mustapha.

The most recent clashes started when police tried to remove protesters who were blocking the entrance of the Parliament building in anticipation of the arrival of newly-appointed Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri, according to Sarah Abdelrahman, an activist at the scene.

Many of the protesters participating in the sit-in were sleeping at the time. At least one Molotov cocktail was seen flying from the protesters, and police fired tear gas amid the unrest. Read More

Kilauea Volcano Erupts in Hawaii - 25th Now 2011

Chance for big tsunami in eastern Japan within 30 yrs revised up to 30% - 26th Nov 2011

The probability of a major earthquake occurring and triggering a massive tsunami in the Pacific Ocean off eastern and northeastern Japan within the next 30 years has been revised up to 30 percent from 20 percent, a government panel said Friday.

The Earthquake Research Committee has reexamined its long-term estimate of killer temblors after the March 11 quake and tsunami and found that a quake that triggers a tsunami as powerful as the one caused by the 1896 Meiji-Sanriku Earthquake, which killed more than 20,000 people, is more likely to happen in the sea zone stretching 800 kilometers north-south.

The panel stopped short of predicting the magnitude of the possible quake but said past records suggest it would be magnitude 8 or stronger.

The tsunami triggered by the 1896 quake reached as high as 38.2 meters, according to the records. The quake's estimated magnitude ranges from 6.8 to 8.5 among experts.

Meanwhile, the committee said the likelihood a quake with a magnitude of up to 9 occurs within the next 50 years in a sea area off Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which is closer to the shore than the 800-km zone, is almost zero percent. Source

Syria Denies Violent Crackdown - 25th Nov 2011

Egyptian officer suspected of being 'The Eye Hunter,' shooting protesters - 26th Nov 2011

Egypt's general prosecutor on Friday ordered a police officer to submit to questioning regarding his suspected role in shooting protesters in the eyes during recent clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"The Ministry of Interior is preoccupied by the latest events, but he will come in for questioning soon," Adel Saeed, a spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor, said about the suspect, 1st Lt. Mahmoud Sobhi El Shinawi.

The evidence offered against El Shinawi includes videos recorded by protesters and posted on Facebook, Saeed said. At least five demonstrators have been shot in the eye, according to authorities.

They are among hundreds of casualties over the past week. Some 41 people have died -- 33 of them in Cairo -- while an additional 3,250 had been wounded as of Friday, Health Ministry spokesman Hisham Shiha has said. Read More

Nasa to launch Curiosity, its latest rover to roam Mars to discover if life ever existed on the red planet - 25th Nov 2011

Nasa describes its Mars Rover vehicle as 'locked and loaded' in preparation for its Saturday lift-off, when a 500-tonne Atlas rocket will carry the car-sized, plutonium-powered vehicle towards Mars.

Curiosity, which is the pride of Nasa's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission, will be launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday at 10.26AM ET.

'This is a Mars scientist's dream machine,' Ashwin Vasavada, MSL deputy project scientist at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, told reporters at a press conference on November 10.

'This rover is not only the most technically capable rover ever sent to another planet, but it's actually the most capable scientific explorer we've ever sent out.'

Curiosity started it's life designed in 2004 and at one ton it weighs five times more than its Mars rover predecessors Spirit and Opportunity. Read More

Gliese 581g, Newly discovered planet is just like Earth and could contain liquid water - 25th Nov 2011

Scientists have discovered a planet which could have the most Earth-like environment ever found - raising a 'very compelling case' for life there.

Gliese 581g, located around 123trillion miles away, orbits a star at a distance that places it squarely in the habitable - or Goldilocks - zone, Nasa said.

The research, the product of more than a decade of observations at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii, suggests the planet could contain liquid water on its surface.

It means it tops the league of planets and moons rated as being most like Earth.

With our planet rated at 1.0 on the Earth Compatibility Index, Gliese 581g, found in the Libra constellation, scored 0.89, ahead of Mars on 0.7.

But U.S. experts believe Saturn's moon, Titan, is still the most likely so far to support life based on surface conditions and whether vital chemical reactions are possible. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 26th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 180.2 km (112 miles), the quake hit at 09:16:25 UTC Saturday 26th November 2011.
The epicenter was 89 km ( 55 miles) North of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time.

No snow in Sweden where start of winter has been delayed by a month - 25th Nov 2011

This year Scandinavia is not its frozen self, with unusually warm weather delaying the onset of winter in northern areas normally decked in white.

The lack of snow has been bad news for winter sports — World Cup ski races have been dropped, or held on artificial snow, and mountain ski resorts are unable to open.

There are even reports of bird song and blooming gardens in some places typically entering the winter freeze at this time of year.

'Some flowers, like roses, have actually begun to blossom for a second time,' said Mats Rosenberg, a biologist in Orebro, south-central Sweden.

Weather experts say this autumn is on track to become one of the warmest on record in northern Scandinavia, where the start of winter has been delayed by more than a month in certain locations.

In the Finnish town of Sodankyla, north of the Arctic Circle, snow cover started November 17, the latest date in 100 years, said Pauli Jokinen, spokesman at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Read More

Will World War III be between the U.S. and China? - 26th Nov 2011

China's vast military machine grows by the day. America's sending troops to Australia in response. As tension between the two superpowers escalates, Max Hastings warns of a terrifying threat to world peace.

On the evening of November 1, 1950, 22-year-old Private Carl Simon of the U.S. 8th Cavalry lay shivering with his comrades in the icy mountains of North Korea.

A patrol had just reported itself ‘under attack from unidentified troops’, which bemused and dismayed the Americans, because their campaign to occupy North Korea seemed all but complete.

Suddenly, through the darkness came sounds of bugle calls, gunfire, shouts in a language that the 8th Cavalry’s Korean interpreters could not understand. A few minutes later, waves of attackers charged into the American positions, screaming, firing and throwing grenades.

‘There was just mass hysteria,’ Simon told me long afterwards. ‘It was every man for himself. I didn’t know which way to go. In the end, I just ran with the crowd. We ran and ran until the bugles grew fainter.’

This was the moment, of course, when the armies of Mao Tse-tung stunned the world by intervening in the Korean War. It had begun in June, when Communist North Korean forces invaded the South.

U.S. and British forces repelled the communists, fighting in the name of the United Nations, then pushed deep into North Korea. Seeing their ally on the brink of defeat, the Chinese determined to take a hand.

In barren mountains just a few miles south of their own border, in the winter of 1950 their troops achieved a stunning surprise. The Chinese drove the American interlopers hundreds of miles south before they themselves were pushed back. Eventually a front was stabilised and the situation sank into stalemate.

Three years later, the United States was thankful to get out of its unwanted war with China by accepting a compromise peace, along the armistice line which still divides the two Koreas today.

For most of the succeeding 58 years the U.S., even while suffering defeat in Vietnam, has sustained strategic dominance of the Indo-Pacific region, home to half the world’s population.

Yet suddenly, everything is changing. China’s new economic power is being matched by a military build-up which deeply alarms its Asian neighbours, and Washington. The spectre of armed conflict between the superpowers, unknown since the Korean War ended in 1953, looms once more. Read More

UK faces a £5bn bill to bail out Spain... as ministers plan for euro collapse - 26th Nov 2011

Britain was last night planning for the collapse of the eurozone as Spain weighed up a bailout that could cost UK taxpayers £5billion.

The Government is preparing for the biggest mass default in history and the break-up of the single currency bloc.

Analysts warned that euro meltdown would wreak havoc in the banking system and plunge the global economy back into recession.

Whitehall sources said contingency plans are being drawn up – and indicated that the longer the euro limps on, the more time Britain has to prepare.

Fears are mounting that Greece will be forced to default on its debts as the crisis threatens to sink Spain and Italy.

The storm hit Belgium last night as the country’s credit rating was cut from AA+ to AA by Standard & Poor’s amid tumbling confidence in the region.

And a leading French economist, Jacques Attali, the former president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said there was only a 50-50 chance of the euro surviving until Christmas. Read More

E.Coli Bug found in THIRD BABY at the Maternity Unite, Singleton Hospital, South Wales - 26th Nov 2011

A third baby at a hospital where two babies died in an E.coli outbreak is also suspected of having contracted the deadly infection.

The maternity unit at Singleton Hospital, in Swansea, South Wales, continues to be restricted to full-term babies following the deaths.

Hopes that it could reopen in full to all pregnancies on Friday have now been put on hold.

The latest case is a baby who is carrying the bacteria without any signs of infection, health chiefs confirmed

"A third case of ESBL E.coli cross infection is unfortunately suspected at the maternity/neonatal unit at Singleton Hospital," a spokeswoman said.

"The baby has been a patient in the neonatal unit at the hospital within the past month. Further tests are now under way to confirm the cross infection."

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (ABM) University Health Board, which runs the hospital, announced that two babies had died from an ESBL E.coli infection, on November 22. Read More

Pakistan Blocks Nato Supplies To Afghanistan - 26th Nov 2011

Pakistan has blocked the vital supply route for Nato troops fighting in Afghanistan after Pakistani troops were killed in an attack allegedly by alliance aircraft.

Up to 25 soldiers died and 14 others were wounded in the strike on a checkpoint near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, according to Pakistan's military.

A military spokesman confirmed the attack in the Baizai area of the Mohmand tribal area, where Pakistani troops are fighting Taliban militants.

"The latest attack by Nato forces on our post will have serious repercussions as they, without any reasons, attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep," an unnamed senior Pakistani officer said.

Trucks and fuel tankers were being stopped at Jamrud town in the Khyber tribal region near the city of Peshawar, hours after the raid, officials said.

The attack comes as relations between America and Pakistan, its ally in the war on terror, are already badly strained following the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US special forces in a secret raid on the Pakistani town of Abbottabad in May.

Pakistan called that raid a flagrant violation of its sovereignty.

More to follow...

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake GALICIA, SPAIN - 26th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck Spain at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 08:11:56 UTC Saturday 26th November 2011.
The epicenter was 5 km ( 3.1 miles) Northwest of Fornelos de Montes, Galicia, Spain
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time.