Monday, November 28, 2011

Three-year-old dies after father 'puts him in washing machine and turns it on as punishment for throwing nursery classmate's drawing down toilet'

A 33-year-old man has been charged with murder after allegedly killing his three-year-old son by locking him in a washing machine and turning it on.

Christophe Champenois, from Meaux, near Paris, allegedly stripped Bastien naked and shut him in the machine to punish him for a prank at nursery school - throwing a classmate's drawing down a toilet.

He is then said to have run the cold cycle wash for a few minutes at their house, in the village of Germigny-l'Eveque.

The child, whom neighbours described as blond and angelic, died of head injuries on Friday night, French police said.

His mother Charlene, 25, recovered him from the machine, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake CRIMEA REGION, UKRAINE - 29th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has the Crimea Region, Ukraine at a depth of 30 km (18.6 miles), the quake hit at 02:17:42 UTC Tuesday 29th November 2011.
The epicenter was 24 km (14.8 miles) Southwest of Vityazevo, Ukraine
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.9 Magnitude Earthquake NORTH OF ASCENSION ISLAND - 29th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake has struck North of Ascension Island at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 00:30:29 UTC Tuesday 29th November 2011.
The epicenter was 708 km (439 miles) North of Ascension Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake AEGEAN SEA, GREECE - 28th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the Aegean Sea, Greece at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:22:52 UTC Monday 28th November 2011.
The epicenter was 57 km (35.4 miles) Northeast of Patitirion, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake CARLSBERG RIDGE - 28th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Carlsberg Ridge at a depth of 33 km (20.4 miles), the quake hit at 20:58:30 UTC Monday 28th November 2011.
The epicenter was 1033 km (620.4 miles) West of Maalhos, Ari Atill Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 28th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Bonin Islands, Japan at a depth of 40km (24.8 miles), the quake hit at 19:16:06 UTC Monday 28th November 2011.
The epicenter was 962 km (596.4 miles) Southeast of Katsuura, Bonin Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Large explosion rocks Isfahan, Iran near nuclear facilities; will update as more info arrives

Conflicting reports have emerged from Iran over an explosion heard in the central city of Isfahan, close to the country's sensitive nuclear facilities.

Iran's semi-official Isna news agency quoted a judiciary official in Isfahan, saying that an explosion had been heard.

"We heard a sound similar to that of an explosion but we have received no reports about its causes and the consequences so far," said Gholamreza Ansari, in quotes carried by Isna. He said the explosion did not appear to be of any significance.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency was one of the first media organisations to report the explosion, saying it was heard at 2.40pm local time (1110 GMT). Fars quoted the deputy governor, Mehdi Ismaili, as confirming a sound that the news agency reported was loud enough to be heard across the city. The agency, however, removed the article from its website sometime later.

Ismaili then spoke to another semi-official agency, Mehr, denying his quotes as reported by Fars. "I have heard no sound whatsoever in Isfahan," he said. Ismaili also told the Irna state news agency that he had not spoken to Fars in the first place.

Several residents of Isfahan told the Guardian that they had heard a loud blast. One said that it rattled the windows of their home. more

Rockets fired from Lebanon land in northern Israel

Several rockets fired from southern Lebanon landed in northern Israel, the Israeli army has said.

There were no casualties from the strikes, the first across the border since 2009. Two buildings were damaged.

The rockets fell in the Western Galilee region and the Israeli army returned fire into Lebanon.

In 2006, a war was fought between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas based in Lebanon.

"The Israeli army considers that it is a serious incident and believes that it is the responsibility of the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army to avoid these kind of attacks," the Israeli army statement added. more

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4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 28th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:53:33 UTC Monday 28th November 2011.
The epicenter was 22 km (13.6 miles) East of Kesennuma, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 28th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:56:34 UTC Monday 28th November 2011.
The epicenter was 122 km (75.6 miles) East of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

William Hague warns Iran of international backlash - 28th Nov 2011

William Hague has warned Iran that it would face an international backlash if it expelled Britain's ambassador to Tehran after the Islamic regime ratified legislation to downgrade UK ties.

Mr Hague said the expulsion of Dominick Chilcott, who has been in Tehran just one month, would damage its ties with Europe and other Western states.

"If the Iranian government confirms its intention to act on this, we shall respond robustly in consultation with our international partners," Mr Hague said.

"It will do nothing to repair Iran's international reputation. To respond in this manner to pressure from the international community to engage is entirely counterproductive and yet another sign of Iran's continued unwillingness to enter into dialogue."

The Foreign Ofice was weighing its direct response, as the bill demands relations to be reduced to charge d'affair level but Iran does not have an ambassador in London.

The previous envoy left last year. Read More

Syria says Arab League declared economic war - 28th Nov 2011

Syria said on Monday the Arab League had declared economic war on Damascus by announcing sanctions against its Central Bank, but said it had already withdrawn most funds targeted by a freeze on government assets.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem also accused the Arab League of ignoring armed groups Damascus blames for the violence during the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, displaying graphic pictures of bloodied corpses during a televised news conference in Damascus.

Syria made every effort to find a way out of the crisis, in which the United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed by Assad's crackdown, Moualem said. "Yesterday, with the decision they took, they closed these windows," he said.

It was clear the Arab League wanted "to internationalize the crisis ... I never felt their intentions were honest," he said.

Damascus insists it has started to implement a November 2 agreement to withdraw its military from urban centers, release political prisoners and launch a dialogue with the opposition, and Moualem said it had not rejected outright an Arab League monitoring mission.

"Sanctions are a two-way street. I am not warning here, but we will defend the interests of our people ... We have to defend the interests of our people," the minister said. Read More

The eurozone really has only days to avoid collapse

In virtually all the debates about the eurozone I have been engaged in, someone usually makes the point that it is only when things get bad enough, the politicians finally act – eurobond, debt monetisation, quantitative easing, whatever. I am not so sure. The argument ignores the problem of acute collective action.

Last week, the crisis reached a new qualitative stage. With the spectacular flop of the German bond auction and the alarming rise in short-term rates in Spain and Italy, the government bond market across the eurozone has ceased to function.

The banking sector, too, is broken. Important parts of the eurozone economy are cut off from credit. The eurozone is now subject to a run by global investors, and a quiet bank run among its citizens.

This massive erosion of trust has also destroyed the main plank of the rescue strategy. The European Financial Stability Facility derives its firepower from the guarantees of its shareholders. As the crisis has spread to France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria, the EFSF itself is affected by the contagious spread of the disease. Unless something very drastic happens, the eurozone could break up very soon.

Technically, one can solve the problem even now, but the options are becoming more limited. The eurozone needs to take three decisions very shortly, with very little potential for the usual fudges. more

Iran: We'll fire 150,000 missiles at Israel if attacked

Iranian Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi said Israel would be attacked with 150,000 missiles if it launches any military action against the Islamic Republic, the Iran Independent News Service reported Sunday.

Speaking before 50,000 army volunteers in Bushehr, the minister said "Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan, if the Americans make the mistake and attack Iran, we will show them how to fight,” adding “Israel has to be punished for what it has done to the Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon."

However, according to Iranian news outlets Vahidi did not specify if the missiles would be fired from Iran or other locations.

On Saturday a senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said the country would target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey if the US or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' aerospace division, was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what it sees as an increase in threats from the US and Israel. more

From Arab Spring to American Fall

The leaves have come off the Arab Spring, and now we see, perhaps, the colors of an American Fall. The people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria are still poor, still hungry, still imprisoned, tortured and dying despite their revolutions begun this spring. Now, in the fall, in numbers and diversity not seen since the Vietnam War era, American people are in the streets, railing against their economic overlords. Walking like Egyptians (in the phrase coined by supporters of Wisconsin public-employee unions). To what end?

For many, the first question that comes to mind is, Why now? (Although many of us have been asking, Why not five or ten years ago? Where have they been?) It is the same question asked about Tunisia, Egypt and the rest; their people had endured oppression and poverty for decades. What touched them off just now?

For the Arab countries and now for America, the answers offered by pundits and politicians have been unsatisfactory. Tunisia’s dictator did not fall because an oppressed merchant set himself on fire, any more than the sun came up this morning because a rooster crowed. Egypt did not rise because of its longing for democracy, any more than terrorists attack because they hate our freedom. People go into the streets when they are hungry, and they have lost hope.

So why Occupy Wall Street, and why now?

First, let’s back up and see where this thing came from. “Occupy Wall Street” is the name of the demonstration in the financial district of New York City that started on September 17. The impetus was apparently a call from a Canadian (!) group called Adbusters urging people to go to Wall Street to demand separation of money from politics. The idea went viral on the Internet and gathered adherents like lint.

The different folks who showed up at Zuccotti Park (predictably, named for a super-rich real-estate developer) had many different strokes. Some condemned the disparity between rich and poor; some the greed and corruption of the big corporations and investment banks; some, globalization; others, the lack of regulation of financial institutions., Some advocated taxing the rich, strengthening the social safety net, investing in infrastructure; and on, and on. ON the first Saturday there were about a thousand of them there, in what they insisted on calling “Liberty Park,” and 200 spent the night. more

Facebook and texting 'exposing girls to cruelty 24-hours a day’

The popularity of Facebook, Twitter and text messaging means many girls are now exposed to a 24-hour-a-day barrage of bullying, England’s communications champion warned yesterday.

Jean Gross said social media and texting had given girls more ways of excluding each other. She said she was concerned that such behaviour was too often dismissed because of the pervading belief that “girls will be girls and will always be mean to each other”.

She called for young girls to be shown films and encouraged to discuss books that dealt with the issue.

Speaking ahead of her address to the Girls’ Schools Association’s annual conference in Bristol today. Mrs Gross said: “Girls can often make each other’s lives a misery in school through communication; through this business of forming of cliques and of being one minute 'you’re my best friend’ and the next day, suddenly, 'you’re not my best friend, I’ve got another best friend’. It happens to every girl, and it’s really cruel.

“Now girls have got even more ways of excluding each other through communication … they used to do it just through verbal language, now they can do it through texting and de-friending and all of those things.’’

Mrs Gross said she believed that girls knew when they were being mean to each other, but added: “I don’t think they know quite how much it hurts, because the people who may be doing it, it may not happen to them.’’ Research suggests that girls are less confident when it comes to speaking out and saying “no” to their friends, Mrs Gross said. “Hence, this is why they’re so vulnerable to exclusion and inclusion … they’re much more conforming, more subject to peer pressure than boys are.’’ more

Nearly a third of schools 'not good enough': UK

Almost a third of schools are failing to provide children with a good standard of education, Ofsted warned today.

Inspectors said some 30 per cent of primaries and secondaries in England were no better than satisfactory.

In its annual report, the watchdog also warned that too many schools were "stubbornly" under-performing.

According to figures, around one-in-seven have been judged merely "satisfactory" - Ofsted's second-lowest rating - twice in a row, with little capacity to get better.

The conclusion comes just weeks after David Cameron warned that hundreds of schools in England were "coasting".

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister said there was a “shocking gap” between the best and worst schools and that the “secret failure” of comprehensives in wealthy shires and market towns was as significant as the problems facing schools in deprived, inner-city areas. more

Russian newsreader Tatyana Limanova makes insulting gesture at Obama -- Has America become a laughing stock?

Online footage of the incident, which occurred earlier this month during an afternoon news bulletin on the privately held REN TV channel, is being avidly viewed in both Russia and the United States.

In the footage, Tatyana Limanova, an award-winning senior newsreader at the channel, can be seen briskly reading out an item about how Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has just assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Cooperation organisation.

She is then heard to say that the post "has (previously) been held by Barack Obama" before mechanically and unambiguously raising her left arm and showing the camera her raised middle finger in an offensive gesture that is sometimes known as "flipping the bird."

The channel, which goes out to 120 million people across Russia, has declined to comment. But sources close to it have tried to defuse the row by claiming that the newsreader had believed she was off camera at the time and merely providing a voice-over for a report. According to the same storyline, the rude gesture was intended for studio technicians who had been trying to put her off her stride.

REN TV has traditionally been perceived as a more liberal channel in a country where TV content is tightly controlled by the state. But it is now controlled by structures owned by a close ally of Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, and has been criticised for allegedly becoming more slavish to the Kremlin. more

Women's pay to overtake men's by 2020

Women’s pay will overtake men’s within a decade if current trends in the labour market continue, new figures from the Government show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the “gender pay gap” – the difference between average salaries of men and women – has fallen to under 10 per cent for the first time ever.

Its figures show that women in full-time work are seeing their wages grow at more than twice the rate of men. If the growth continues at current levels, women could start to earn more than men in 2020, over 50 years ahead of some recent forecasts.

The ONS said that earnings for a man in full-time employment, excluding over-time, stood at £13.11 an hour in April 2011, an increase of 0.8 per cent on the year before. Equivalent earnings for a woman were £11.91 an hour, an increase of 1.9 per cent on the year before.

If women’s hourly pay continues to grow at over double the rate of men’s pay, women will start to earn more than men in nine years’ time. On the current trajectory, a woman will earn £14.09 an hour in 2020, compared to £14.06 for a man.

Economists and union leaders welcomed the shrinking gender gap, particularly as it suggests that equal wages will be reached at a far earlier date than previously thought. A report last year published by the Chartered Management Institute suggested that it will be 2067 before women’s take-home pay is equal to men’s. more

War bombs cause chaos on Rhine after drought

A draught in Germany has brought water levels in the Rhine to dangerous lows, exposing ships to unexploded Second World War munitions.

Bomb disposal experts have already had to blow up an incendiary bomb near Cologne and have yet to decide how to deal with a larger bomb spotted lying in 16 inches of water near Koblenz.

River traffic was also disrupted earlier this week after a hand grenade was spotted on the banks of the Rhine near Bonn, and authorities along the course of the river have asked people to report any suspicious objects.

During the Second World War the Rhine saw intensive fighting as German troops used it as a barrier to stem the eastern advance of Allied forces.

The danger posed by the munitions has added to the woes of Rhine shipping, which is having to deal with water levels five feet below average as Germany and much of Central Europe feel the effects of one of the driest autumns on record.

At Duisburg the water level on the Rhine fell to 6.4 ft, its lowest level for 100 years, while in Bonn it fell to just 3.8ft. more

South-west Sydney suffers greatest housing stress, entire streets foreclosing: Australia

Shocking new data has revealed that a whole street of New South Wales families lose their home every month.

A report by the Australians for Affordable Housing revealed areas where renters and home purchasers are experiencing housing stress, meaning they spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing costs — and the figures are dire. (More From Yahoo!7 Finance: Australia's Most Expensive Suburbs)

AAH research shows that a whopping 80 houses are confiscated each month while up to a third of people in the hardest hit areas are struggling to cover rent and pay for "essential items".

"Housing is the single biggest cost of living issue in Australia. When low income households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing costs they are officially in housing stress. This means they have very little left over to cover other costs like food, transport, bills or money for emergencies" said AAH Campaign Manager Sarah Toohey. (More From Yahoo!7 Finance: How Thieves Steal Your Credit Card Data)

The study shows the worst hit areas in NSW are Sydney, Wyong the mid north coast, the Hunter and far north coast. more

Analysts: Egyptian civil unrest to escalate despite military's efforts



The showdown between Egyptian street demonstrators and the military-led government will likely escalate in the countdown to next week's parliamentary elections despite the military council's pledge Tuesday to speed up the transition to civilian rule, analysts said.

The impasse bears upon how angry protesters -- gathered once again in Cairo's Tahrir Square as they were during the revolution earlier this year -- are demanding that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) withdraw immediately from power, analysts said.

At stake is the military's longtime role in Egyptian society -- controlling swaths of the economy from agriculture to bottled water to silverware production -- as well as the integrity of next Monday's first parliamentary elections since the February revolution, analysts said.

On Tuesday, the military council accepted the resignations of the country's cabinet in the wake of protesters' demand for change. The council also said presidential elections will be held by June. more

Ron Paul Ambushed by Journalist, Emerges Victorious

Understanding Russia’s interest in Syria’s conflict

Syria is at war and the country is literally on the verge of disaster as we saw in Libya for eight months. The Syrian conflict has lasted for the same period and now things seem to have come to a boiling point with the emergence of the Free Syria Army, made up of military defectors from government forces that have killed over 3,500 people going by the unofficial figures provided by aid agencies and opposition groups.

Hama, Homs and Deraa seem to be the centre of the resistance against the government of Bashar Al Assad, who is unwilling to accommodate the demand of his people to allow democracy to thrive. Assad took over from his late father Hafiz for almost a decade now and has maintained the same dictatorial philosophy of the Baath Party as we saw in Iraq under the Saddam Hussein leadership. The growing calls for Assad’s ouster are a severe setback for the family dynasty that has ruled Syria for four decades. Any change to the leadership could transform some of the most enduring alliances in the Middle East and beyond. The United States has been eyeing Syria for regime change since at least 2001.

The Arab League suspended Syria last week while Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Qatar have openly condemned the killing of Syrians accused by government of being agents of the West. Turkey especially is bearing the weight of the repression in Damascus as thousands of fleeing Syrians have crossed over to its border with Syria. more

Is Detroit in its end times?

My grandmother used to talk about the end times, and would scour current events and the weather for evidence of the Biblical signs foretelling the Earth's final days.

I find myself doing the same thing with the city of Detroit.

Last week, Mayor Dave Bing provided a clear signal of the city's coming apocalypse. Faced with an existential moment demanding life-or-death decision making, the mayor instead stalled for time.

Detroit is out of time, and Bing's failure to act decisively to turn back the cash flow crisis makes it inevitable that an emergency manager will be appointed by the state to make the hard decisions and common sense reforms that should have been made decades ago.

It won't be pretty. And it may not save the city.

Bing won't slash the 2,300 employees, including 800 police and firefighters, that need to go now to replenish the city's coffers because he's rightly fearful that the impact on services and safety will accelerate the exodus from Detroit. His counter is to promise 1,000 layoffs soon. Not enough. The emergency manager will mail far more pink slips.

Bing is hoping he can avoid mass privatization of city services, including the bus system, by bringing in outside managers to make them more efficient. It's too late for that. The emergency manager will outsource any service that can be provided cheaper by someone else, and buses likely will go.

Bing hasn't put any of the city's "jewels" on the auction block. The emergency manager will hold a fire sale. Say goodbye to City Airport, the city's power plant, and anything else that isn't nailed down. Selling assets to clean up the balance sheet will be Job One.

Bing has been overly patient with the city's unions, hoping they'll ultimately come to Jesus on giving concessions on health care, pensions and pay. They won't. The emergency manager will tip over the bargaining table and achieve those savings with the stroke of a pen. more