Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Has the UK lost It's will to Fight? On the day of the big strike, picket lines are quiet, but shopping centres are packed

Militant union leaders failed in their campaign to bring Britain to its knees yesterday.

David Cameron dismissed as a ‘damp squib’ a strike billed as the biggest for a generation.

With picket lines sparsely populated, only a quarter of civil servants took action, the NHS suffered minimal disruption and Britain’s borders operated more smoothly than normal. JobCentres remained open, courts were sitting, rubbish was collected and driving tests went ahead.

However, schools were severely affected, with almost two in three in England closing their doors, forcing many parents to take a day off work or make emergency childcare arrangements.

Union barons insisted the strike, over reforms to generous public sector pensions, had been a ‘historic’ success and claimed two million joined the action. That figure was rubbished by the Cabinet Office, which said it was a wild exaggeration and probably only half that. Read More

Britain joins the multi-billion-pound global bailout as key banks face new credit crunch

Britain has been sucked into a second credit crunch that threatens the stability of the world’s banking system, Downing Street warned last night.

Central banks from around the world – including the Bank of England and China’s equivalent – yesterday launched a dramatic rescue bid worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

It was agreed to head off a repeat of the 2008 crash when banks simply stopped lending to each other, bringing the world economy to a halt.

The operation, led by the U.S. Federal Reserve, came amid fears that at least one major European bank may be teetering on the brink of collapse and that the eurozone countries could not be trusted to act swiftly enough to solve their problems. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN XIZANG (TIBET), CHINA - 1st Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Western Xizang (Tibet), China at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 03:50:57 UTC Thursday 1st December 2011.
The epicenter was 56 km (34 miles) SSW of Lumaringbo, Xizang (Tibet), China
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake BALLENY ISLANDS REGION - 30th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Balleny Islands Region at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 22:40:44 UTC Wednesday 30th November 2011.
The epicenter was 751 km (466 miles) Northwest of Young Island, Balleny Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 30th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India region at a depth of 35.8 km (22.2 miles), the quake hit at 19:49:06 UTC Wednesday 30th November 2011.
The epicenter was 82 km (50 miles) East of Mohean, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 30th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India region at a depth of 4.9 km (3 miles), the quake hit at 19:42:32 UTC Wednesday 30th November 2011.
The epicenter was 78 km (48 miles) East of Mohean, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Great White caught on Tape off the North Carolina coast - 30th Nov 2011

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake ZACATECAS, MEXICO - 30th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Zacatecas, Mexico at a depth of 15 km (9.3 miles), the quake hit at 18:07:07 UTC Wednesday 30th November 2011.
The epicenter was 25 km (15.5 miles) NNE of Sombrerete, Zacatecas, Mexico
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Snowless Scandinavians wonder ‘where's winter?’ This fall on track to become one of the warmest on record

For some reason, Scandinavia is not its frigid self, with unusually warm weather delaying the onset of winter in northern latitudes 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 fall is on track to become one of the warmest on record in the northern part of 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 Nov. 17, the latest date in 100 years, said Pauli Jokinen, spokesman at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Animals — such as stoats, hares and willow grouse — that change color with the season turned white weeks before the snows came, bringing an eerie feeling to the snowless wilds of Lapland. more

World on track for nearly 11-degree temperature rise, energy expert says

The chief economist for the International Energy Agency said Monday that current global energy consumption levels put the Earth on a trajectory to warm by 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, an outcome he called “a catastrophe for all of us.”

Fatih Birol spoke as as delegates from nearly 200 countries convened the opening day of annual U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

International climate negotiators have pledged to keep the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels. The Earth has already warmed 0.8 degrees Celsius, or 1.4 Fahrenheit, so far, according to climate scientists.

According to the IEA’s most recent analysis, heat-trapping emissions from the world’s energy infrastructure will lead to a 2-degree Celsius increase in the Earth’s temperature that, as more capacity is added to the system, will climb to 6 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100.

Unless there is a shift away from some of the fossil fuel energy now used for electricity generation and transportation, Birol said, “the world is perfectly on track for a six-degree Celsius increase in temperature. more

Occupy LA protesters arrested as riot police raid camp - 30th Nov 2011

More than 200 people were arrested at the Occupy L.A. camp today as 1,000 riot police stormed the site and cleared the tents.

Officers swept through the camp under darkness to drive out some of the longest-lasting protesters since crackdowns ended similar occupations across the country.

In a move identical to the one carried in New York two weeks ago, the mayor ordered an eviction of the protesters who have camped outside City Hall for the past eight weeks.

Police Chief Charlie Beck said that the arrests were mainly peaceful and that there had been no injuries. He added that an initial search of the camp turned up no drugs or weapons.

About 50 protesters were arrested in Philadelphia.

Overnight, hundreds of Occupy LA activists, joined by supporters streaming into the area in a show of solidarity, crowded the lawn, sidewalks and streets around City Hall as helmeted officers moved into the encampment. Read More

Helicopter Pilot Blows Whistle On Tuna Industry: Tuna Fishing Film Shows Whales, Dolphins And Manta Rays Slaughtered (GRAPHIC VIDEO)



A shocking Greenpeace video has revealed the appalling slaughter of marine life during tuna fishing. A tuna industry whistleblower spoke out to expose the routine killing of whales, dolphins and manta rays.

The never-before-seen footage shows graphic images shot aboard a Pacific fishing vessel. The ship uses fishing aggregated devices, man-made floating objects used to attract fish.

UK tuna giants, John West and Princes have agreed to not source tuna from operations using FADs, as well as all major British supermarkets. However Greenpeace warns this is not enough.

“This shocking video is a wake-up call: we as consumers, can demand that retailers give shelf-space only to responsibly-caught tuna. Without significant changes to global fishing practices and more protected marine reserves across the world’s seas, we will literally fish away future tuna supplies, jobs and healthy oceans.” said Casson Trenor, Greenpeace USA oceans campaigner. source

The median British household will be 7.4 per cent worse off by 2013

Today's Institute of Fiscal Studies briefing was a grim affair. The headline figures are about real household disposable income, the money in your pocket to spend on fun stuff like food and clothes each week.

Between 09/10 and 12/13, the IFS says, the median household will see disposable income drop 7.4 per cent. For a couple with two children, that's the difference between £638 a week and £590. It's the biggest fall since the 1970s, and equal to the biggest fall since records began.

Worse, disposable income in 15/16 will be no higher than it was in 02/03. That's 13 lost years, a period when we have become no better off. That, the IFS says, is "easily" the longest period without growth ever. In essence, the long historic trend towards ever-rising prosperity has been broken by recent events.

Other than being gloomy, what does this mean? Well, keen students of Ed Miliband will note that his "broken British promise" argument was essentially a warning about just this: we can no longer assume our children will be better off than us. For balance, I should note that Conservatives, including David Willetts (read The Pinch), have also worried about such things.

How much does this matter? Yes, some politicians can say "I told you so". But will voters thank them for their foresight? I suspect not much, not least because most people already know things are tough; they don't need Westminster types to tell them that. more

Arthur Morgan III, who 'killed daughter, 2, by tossing her into a creek still strapped into her car seat' is Captured - 30th Nov 2011

This is the dramatic moment a father was arrested on suspicion of murdering his two-year-old daughter by tossing her into a creek still strapped into her car seat.

Arthur Morgan III was captured yesterday afternoon at a home in San Diego, California, a week after he allegedly murdered Tierra Morgan-Glover in a New Jersey park while on a court-approved visit.

New Jersey prosecutors today said they will move quickly to extradite Morgan, who had sparked a nationwide manhunt after fleeing the state.

He was being held early today in California, but it was not clear when an extradition hearing would be scheduled.

His arrest came just hours after Tierra's funeral at the Cathedral International in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Morgan, of Ocean Township, New Jersey, had been due to take his daughter to see the animated film Happy Feet Two on Monday, November 21. Read More

China's nuclear arsenal could be up to FORTY times bigger than thought, three-year study of secret documents reveals - 30th Nov 2011

China's nuclear arsenal may be many times larger than estimates suggest, a group of students have claimed after three years of painstaking researching through restricted documents.

Led by a former top Pentagon official, the students at Georgetown University, in Washington DC, have scrutinised satellite imagery, translated Chinese military documents and filtered through thousands of online files.

The focus of their extensive research has been the thousands of miles of underground tunnels dug by the Second Artillery Corps to hide China's missile arsenal.

After the massive earthquake which struck the Sichuan province in 2008, news reports showed that thousands of radiation technicians were rushing to the region and images of collapsed hills led to speculation of the existence of an extensive tunnel network - which the Chinese later admitted did exist. Read More

Racist Ranter the Second Coming - WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - 30 Nov 2011



Police are hunting a woman who was secretly filmed appearing to hurl racist abuse at passengers on a train just days after another woman allegedly ranted at travellers.

In the latest YouTube clip filmed on a train between London and Manchester, the woman is seen yelling at a group of passengers: 'You're in my country now, talk my language. Don't f****** talk your ****, talk my language. You ****, ****'

The video has been viewed thousands of times and follows outrage over the alleged racist rant by a woman on a tram in Croydon, South London earlier this week.

Yesterday, Emma West, 34, of New Addington, London, was remanded in custody on a racial harassment charge after a video showing her allegedly abusing passengers aboard a tram while balancing a toddler on her knee appeared on the internet.

In the latest video a dark-haired woman is seen jabbing her finger towards passengers, thought to be Middle Eastern, while several people are heard trying to get her to stop. Read More

Financial regulator 'urges British banks to prepare for the collapse of the euro' - 30th Nov 2011

British banks must brace themselves for the chaotic break-up of the euro, the City watchdog has warned.

The head of the Financial Services Authority told the UK’s biggest lenders to draw up contingency plans for the collapse of the single currency.

Hector Sants, who is in charge of regulating the banking system, gave the order during crisis talks with senior executives from high street players including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander.

City sources said big insurance companies were also urged to prepare for the exit of one or more countries from the eurozone.

It is feared that the meltdown of the 17-nation club would wreak havoc in the UK financial system because of the network of relationships between British and European banks.

Andrew Bailey, a senior executive at the FSA, last week said: ‘We must not ignore the prospect of the disorderly departure of some countries from the eurozone.’

Latest figures showed that UK banks had £290 billion tied up in European banks at the end of June including £100 billion in the so-called PIIGS of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Read More

Mystery Iran Blast More Devastating Than Reported

The mysterious explosion at an Iranian military base west of Tehran earlier this month was far more devastating than initially reported, reports the New York Times. Satellite images of the site reveal destruction across a sprawling complex of some dozen buildings. “It was pretty amazing to see that the entire facility was destroyed,” said the author of a report by the private Institute for Science and International Security. “There were only a few buildings left standing." The explosion killed at least 17 servicemen. Iran's military chief of staff said that the blast occurred while researchers were working on weapons capable of delivering a “strong punch in the mouth" to Israel. ISIS experts believe the explosion occurred during a "volatile procedure" involving a new missile. source

'It's a damp squib strike': Thousands of public sector workers take to the streets... but Prime Minister says action has had little effect

Thousands of public sector workers took to the streets today in response to the bitter row over pensions.

But if they were hoping to disrupt the country, it appeared they had failed, with Prime Minister David Cameron branding their efforts 'something of a damp squib'.

The 24-hour walkout by two million workers is being staged amid union fury over plans to reform pensions which will involve members working longer and having to pay more.

It is the biggest strike for over 30 years, with schools, hospitals, courts, transport and government all set to be hit by the walkout.

But Mr Cameron told the House of Commons: ‘So far the evidence would suggest that 40 per cent of schools are open.’

He also said the country had full ambulance service cover and that just 18 out of 900 job centres were closed.

With picket lines outside Parliament, Labour leader Ed Miliband asked: 'Why do you think so many decent, hard-working public sector workers, many of whom have never been on strike before, feel the Government simply isn't listening?' Read More

Former Philadelphia Schools Chief Arlene Ackerman Files Unemployment Claim… after receiving a million dollar buy out

Former Philadelphia schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who was given a nearly $1-million buyout earlier this year, has applied for unemployment.

School District spokesman Fernando Gallard today confirmed that Ackerman wants to collect state unemployment benefits.

“The former superintendent did apply for unemployment,” Gallard told KYW Newsradio today.

This comes after taxpayers funded a $905,000 buyout when she was shown the door in August (see related story).

As part of her separation agreement, the School Reform Commission agreed not to contest any unemployment claims she might file.

The news isn’t going over well with Michael Lodise, the head of the school police officers’ union who fought for several months to get unemployment compensation – and eventually succeeded – for 120 school police officers laid off in June.

“These people were really hurting, really needed it,” Lodise recalls. “And here’s a woman with almost a million dollars, and she wants unemployment besides. I just don’t understand it.”

Based on her former salary, Ackerman would be eligible for the state maximum of $573 a week. more

Movers, deputies refuse to evict 103-year-old woman



A 103-year-old woman and her 83-year-old daughter were just moments from being evicted from their home Tuesday, when sheriff's deputies and the moving company hired by the bank decided not to go through with the action.

Channel 2's Ryan Young was there when the family started thanking God for the miracle.

At justthree weeks shy of her 104th birthday, Vita Lee has shared her home on Penelope Road in Northwest Atlanta with her daughter for 53 years.

"I love it. It's a mansion," Lee said about her house.

Fulton County sheriff's deputies and movers showed up at Lee's home Tuesday after Deutsche Bank planned to kick the two women out.

The moving company and the deputies took one look at Lee and decided that would not happen.

"I saw the sheriffs, who came to put them out, take off and leave. I gave all glory to God," community activist Michael Langford said.

"This family has been waging a war against Deutsche Bank," community activist Derrick Boezeman said. more

Hague Orders Closure Of Iranian Embassy - 30th Nov 2011

Foreign Secretary William Hague has ordered the immediate closure of Iran's embassy in London and all diplomatic staff must leave the UK within 48 hours.

It comes a day after protesters stormed the British mission in the capital Tehran.

Mr Hague told the House of Commons the British embassy has been closed and all staff have safely left the country.

Workers were forced to flee to safety after dozens of hardline students smashed windows, torched cars and burnt Union flags as they attacked the British Embassy and another British compound in Tehran on Tuesday.

Mr Hague said Tehran should be "ashamed" of the events that took place.

He added: "If any country makes it impossible for us to operate on their soil they cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here.

"This does not amount to the severing of diplomatic relations in their entirety.

"It is action that reduces our relations with Iran to the lowest level consistent with the maintenance of diplomatic relations." Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 30th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck South of the Fiji Islands at a depth of 178.8 km (111.1 miles), the quake hit at 14:57:46 UTC Wednesday 30th November 2011.
The epicenter was 189 km (117 miles) Southwest of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Apple iTunes flaw 'allowed government spying for 3 years'

A British company called Gamma International marketed hacking software to governments that exploited the vulnerability via a bogus update to iTunes, Apple's media player, which is installed on more than 250 million machines worldwide.

The hacking software, FinFisher, is used to spy on intelligence targets’ computers. It is known to be used by British agencies and earlier this year records were discovered in abandoned offices of that showed it had been offered to Egypt’s feared secret police.

Apple was informed about the relevant flaw in iTunes in 2008, according to Brian Krebs, a security writer, but did not patch the software until earlier this month, a delay of more than three years.

“A prominent security researcher warned Apple about this dangerous vulnerability in mid-2008, yet the company waited more than 1,200 days to fix the flaw,” he said in a blog post.

"The disclosure raises questions about whether and when Apple knew about the Trojan offering, and its timing in choosing to sew up the security hole in this ubiquitous software title." more

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 30th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 264.7 km (164.5 miles), the quake hit at 10:14:05 UTC Wednesday 30th November 2011.
The epicenter was 115 km (71 miles) ESE of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in US

Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month.

Slaughter opponents pushed a measure cutting off funding for horse meat inspections through Congress in 2006 after other efforts to pass outright bans on horse slaughter failed in previous years. Congress lifted the ban in a spending bill President Barack Obama signed into law Nov. 18 to keep the government afloat until mid-December.

It did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending.

The USDA issued a statement Tuesday saying there are no slaughterhouses in the U.S. that butcher horses for human consumption now, but if one were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed. USDA spokesman Neil Gaffney declined to answer questions beyond what was in the statement. more

Whooping Cough Outbreak Spreads On Long Island; More Than 200 Cases Reported



An alarming rise in a potentially fatal bacterial infection known as whooping cough has prompted a warning from the Suffolk County Health Department.

It’s a tell-tale sign winter is coming — children and their colds.

But what’s going around this year is a potentially fatal bacterial cough known as pertussis or whooping cough, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith.

It’s a chronic cough, almost a barking sound, that can last more than three months, and it is spread easily through droplets.

“My wife is on a bus, educational bus, so she is with kids all the time every day. But she hasn’t been sick yet,” local resident Steven Piering said Tuesday. more

S&P Downgrades Dozens of Global Banks

Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday cut its credit ratings for many of the world’s largest banks, including Citigroup (NYSE: C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC).

The move follows S&P’s shift, announced earlier this month, in the methods it uses for rating the banks.

Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp. each had their long-term credit rating downgraded a single notch to A- from A. Similar cuts were applied to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

Dozens of other banks were also affected by S&P’s new criteria and many of the downgrades stemmed from the affected banks’ exposure to the European debt crisis. S&P cited weaker confidence in governments' ability to bail out struggling banks.

The new criteria for rating banks comes in the wake of criticism leveled at all three major rating firms – Moody’s and Fitch’s are the other two -- that they rubber stamped their highest ratings on investment products loaded with subprime mortgages in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

Congress has considered reforming ratings system to remove perceived conflicts of interest. more

Declassified Memo Hinted of 1941 Hawaii Attack

Three days before the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt was warned in a memo from naval intelligence that Tokyo's military and spy network was focused on Hawaii, a new and eerie reminder of FDR's failure to act on a basket load of tips that war was near.

In the newly revealed 20-page memo from FDR's declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval Intelligence on December 4 warned, "In anticipation of open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii."

The memo, published in the new book December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World went on to say that the Japanese were collecting "detailed technical information" that would be specifically used by its navy. To collect and analyze information, they were building a network of spies through their U.S. embassies and consulates.

Historian and acclaimed Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, author of the just released December 1941, doesn't blame FDR for blowing it, but instead tells Whispers that it "does suggest that there were more pieces to the puzzle" that the administration missed. The 70th anniversary of the attack is next month. more

Clean running water still a luxury on many native reserves: Canada

For most Canadians, an unlimited supply of clean water flowing freely from a tap and imperceptibly whisking away their waste at the simple push of a lever is a given; for many First Nations, it's a luxury their communities can't afford.

"We have water fountains in the community store; for sewage, we still use outdoor washrooms," said Ian Knott, a band councillor who oversees water and sewer projects for the Wasagamack First Nation in northern Manitoba.

The Cree community, which is on the western shore of Island Lake, about 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, built a water treatment plant five years ago and installed water mains in one part of the reserve, but progress since then has been slow, says Knott.

About 60 per cent of the 1,500 residents there still have no indoor plumbing and must resort to using outhouses, slop pails or cisterns, whose contents are periodically hauled away by sewage trucks. Water is retrieved from communal standpipes or delivered to households by truck. more

Foreign hackers targeted Canadian firms

A leading cyber-crime expert says foreign hackers who launched a massive attack on Canadian government computers last fall also broke into the data systems of prominent Bay Street law firms and other companies to get insider information on an attempted $38-billion corporate takeover.

Daniel Tobok, whose international cyber-sleuthing company was called in by a number of the firms hit by the attacks, says the hacking spree from computers in China were all connected to last year's ultimately unsuccessful takeover bid for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.

"All those different attacks on companies, law firms and government were all interconnected — they weren't isolated incidents," he said in an interview with CBC News. more

Worms reveal effects of long space voyages

Worms can be sent into space and monitored remotely for many generations, a new study shows, providing a way to research the effects of long space voyages such as those required to get to Mars.

"While it may seem surprising, many of the biological changes that happen during spaceflight affect astronauts and worms and in the same way," said Nathaniel Szewcyzk, a physiologist at the University of Nottingham in the U.K., who led the study published Wednesday in the journal Interface.

"Given the high failure rate of Mars missions, use of worms allows us to safely and relatively cheaply test spacecraft systems prior to manned missions."

Szewcyzk and colleagues at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Colorado sent 4,000 microscopic Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) worms aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station in December 2006. The space station is located in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 400 kilometres. The worms lived there for three months and produced 12 generations of descendants.

The researchers had developed a system that automatically regulated the temperature, oxygen and relative humidity of their environment and allowed them to remotely control the amount of food the worms received. They were monitored and measured daily by scientists from Earth using miniature cameras, with the help of grade and high-school students in Canada, the U.S. and Malaysia. more

Engineers pioneer use of 3D printer to create new bones

A 3D printer is being used to create "bone-like" material which researchers claim can be used to repair injuries.

The engineers say the substance can be added to damaged natural bone where it acts as a scaffold for new cells to grow.

It ultimately dissolves with "no apparent ill-effects", the team adds.

The researchers say doctors should be able to use the process to custom-order replacement bone tissue in a few years time.

Prof Susmita Bose helped carry out the work at Washington State University and co-authored a report in the Dental Materials journal.

"You can use the bone-like ceramic powder as a feed material and it can make whatever you draw on the computer," she says.

"It is mostly [suitable for] low load bearing applications. However, what we are trying to develop is the controlled degradation... of these scaffolds where as the scaffold dissolves in the body the bone tissue grows over it." more

Eurozone unemployment rate rises to 10.3%

The eurozone unemployment rate rose slightly to 10.3% in October, up from a revised 10.2% in September, official figures have shown.

The number of people unemployed rose by 126,000 from September to 16.3 million.

The rate in Germany fell to 5.5% from 5.7%, while that in Spain rose to 22.8% from 22.5%, Eurostat said. Youth unemployment in Spain rose to 48.9%.

Separate figures also released by Eurostat showed the eurozone inflation rate unchanged at 3% in November.

Earlier this month, the European Central Bank cut eurozone interest rates to 1.25% from 1.5%, and at the time said the inflation rate would remain at "elevated levels" for a number of months.

However, the bank forecast that inflation would fall to below 2% next year. more

EU entering 'critical period' to resolve debt crisis

EU finance ministers are meeting in Brussels after a top official said the region had just days to take decisive action to resolve the crisis.

EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said: "We are now entering the critical period of 10 days to complete and conclude the crisis response".

The meeting comes a day after eurozone ministers agreed measures to expand the region's bailout fund.

But they said it was unlikely to hit its 1tn euro ($1.3tn; £860bn) target.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy also warned of the growing seriousness of the crisis.

"The trouble has become systemic. We are witnessing a full-blown confidence crisis," he said in the run-up to the finance ministers' meeting.

"Some may blame it on the irrationality of the market, but it's a fact and we need to confront it." more

US must stop jailing minors for life, says Amnesty

Amnesty International has called for the US to stop sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole.

More than 2,500 adults are in US jails for crimes committed as a child - under current rules they will never be freed.

In its new report, Amnesty says the practice is incompatible with the basic principles of juvenile justice.

The US and Somalia are the only two countries not to have ratified a UN convention that bans life in jail without parole for under-18 year olds. more

Long Lines For Free Holiday Food Vouchers



Hundreds of South Floridians lined up in Little Havana overnight for a chance to feed their families this holiday.

As part of the Latin Chamber of Commerce’s annual holiday basket giveaway, representatives from the organization handed out food vouchers on Flagler Street between 14th and 15th Avenues in Little Havana.

Some people began to line up last Friday. Many of those who waited in line for hours were either unemployed or they live on a fixed income and can’t afford any extras.

“It’s very, very hard,” said Mosas Hernandez. “We need something free because right now, I lost my job, I need to pay my rent, so believe me it’s very hard.”

The line wrapped around the block outside the voucher distribution location. Concerned about safety, the City of Miami Police Department was in attendance to keep order and look after the sick and elderly.

Those who received a voucher Wednesday will have to return on December 15th and exchange it for bags of food. more

Fed, ECB offer aid to global financial system (Too little, too late?)

Europe's hurting for cash, and central banks around the world are stepping in to give it a boost.

The Federal Reserve, along with five other central banks, acted Wednesday to make it cheaper for banks around the world to borrow U.S. dollars.

The Fed -- along with central banks of the eurozone, England, Japan, Switzerland and Canada -- announced a coordinated plan to lower prices on dollar liquidity swaps beginning on Dec. 5, and extending these swap arrangements to Feb. 1, 2013.

A swap takes place when the Fed provides U.S. dollars to a foreign central bank in exchange for the equivalent amount of foreign currency from that central bank.

Overall, these efforts are meant to "ease strains in financial markets and thereby mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses and so help foster economic activity," the Federal Reserve said in a press release.

World stock markets surged on the news, pushing the Dow (INDU) back into positive territory for the year. more

World powers lean on Syria amid unrest: War coming?



World pressure on the Syrian regime escalated Wednesday as Turkey announced tough economic sanctions and a leading U.N. body announced a Friday meeting on the human rights situation.

The Organization of Islamic Conference, a worldwide alliance of Muslim nations, met on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia to discuss the bloodshed in Syria, whose government has been widely condemned for its fierce crackdown against protesters.

"Collective punishment methods, besieging cities, bombing mosques, using excessive violence against peaceful demonstrators and killing tens of people every day pointing weapons to their own people with army units following armed gangs such as shabiha are the manifestations of the Syrian administration's lack of understanding of legitimacy," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who announced a series of sanctions against Syria.

Turkey plans to stop selling and providing weaponry to the Syrian army. It also will prevent the transfer of munitions from third countries to Syria via Turkey, Davutoglu said.

The government is halting transactions with Syria's Central Bank and freezing Syrian government financial possessions in Turkey. It is suspending a credit agreement to finance infrastructure projects in Syria and credit relations with the Syria government. more

Police clear Occupy camps in Los Angeles, Philadelphia



Police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia dismantled tents and arrested Occupy protesters who refused to leave city property early Wednesday.

Los Angeles police moved in at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday (3:30 a.m. ET). About an hour later, the City Hall lawn was cleared and closed for cleanup. About 200 people were arrested in the operation, utilizing some 1,400 officers, said Police Chief Charlie Beck.

Police described the operation as fairly peaceful. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa early Wednesday praised officers' professionalism.

The Los Angeles encampment, which has been in place for some 60 days, had become the largest remaining one after police raided New York's Zuccotti Park on November 15 and dismantled the nearly two-month-old camp. more

Businesses plan for possible end of euro

International companies are preparing contingency plans for a possible break-up of the eurozone, according to interviews with dozens of multinational executives.

Concerned that Europe's political leaders are failing to control the spreading sovereign debt crisis, business executives say they feel compelled to protect their companies against a crash that can no longer be wished away. When German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy raised the prospect of a Greek exit from the eurozone earlier this month, it marked the first time that senior European officials had dared to question the permanence of their 13-year-old experiment with monetary union.

"We've started thinking what [a break-up] might look like," Andrew Morgan, president of Diageo Europe, said on Tuesday. "If you get some much bigger kind of ... change around the euro, then we are into a different situation altogether. With countries coming out of the euro, you've got massive devaluation that makes imported brands very, very expensive."

Executives' concerns are emerging as eurozone finance ministers weigh ever more radical options to tackle the sovereign debt crisis, including the possibility of funnelling European Central Bank loans to struggling countries via the International Monetary Fund.

Car manufacturers, energy groups, consumer goods firms and other multinationals are taking care to minimise risks by placing cash reserves in safe investments and controlling non-essential expenditure. Siemens, the engineering group, has even established its own bank in order to deposit funds with the European Central Bank. more

China steps on the economic accelerator -- but will it be enough?

China is cutting the amount of money banks need to hold in reserve, freeing those funds to stimulate the Chinese economy.

The People's Bank of China said Wednesday it will lower its reserve requirement ratio for financial institutions by half a percentage point. It was the first such cut in the ratio since 2008, and a change in course after the ratio was raised five times this year.

The cut is effective Dec. 5.

The move is intended to increase liquidity, ramping up the flow of money into the economy to make up for concerns about slackening demand for Chinese products both domestically and abroad, particularly from Europe.

China has experienced rapid growth recently, leading many to worry that the economy could be overheating and runaway inflation could take hold. In response, the government had taken several steps to control soaring inflation without stifling growth.

Since last year, China has lifted interest rates five times and bank reserve requirements nine times, and has also imposed limitations on homebuyers.

Today's move was seen as a reversal of that policy, indicating that the Chinese economy could be at a tipping point. more

Nine dead in fire at popular Hong Kong market - 30th Nov 2011

The death toll from a deadly fire that swept through a popular tourist market in Hong Kong Wednesday morning has risen to nine, officials have said.

The blaze broke out at a hawker stall close to the Ladies' Market in the city's Mong Kok district, the Hong Kong government said in a statement.

Eight charred bodies were removed from the scene, while 30 people were taken to hospital for treatment -- four are in a critical condition.

Fire crews with breathing apparatus battled the fire in the city's Fa Yuen Street for several hours, with up to 30 fire trucks on the scene at one point.

"I vaguely heard people shouting for help and I went to the window to see what was happening," local security guard So Kwok Suen told CNN.

"I saw a big fire close by and I woke my family up. We live at the top of the building on the 7th floor, so we went to the next building and went down because it was safer." Read More

Los Angeles police put on tactical alert against Occupy protesters - 30th Nov 2011

More than 100 Los Angeles police officers, including dozens in white protective suits, surrounded the Occupy L.A. camp on the City Hall lawn early Wednesday and began to dismantle tents and other shelters.

Officers in riot gear and armed with night sticks closed off streets around City Hall.

Police used bullhorns to threaten protesters with arrest.

"This has been declared to be an unlawful assembly. You have seven minutes to gather your belongings and decide to leave," one officer said.

Officers were met with profanity but no violence.

Dozens of Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics and firefighters were also standing by on sealed off downtown streets.

"This is what a police state looks like!" Occupy protesters chanted at the officers in riot gear. Read More

Tahrir Square battles wound dozens after Egypt votes - 30th Nov 2011



Egyptians reveled in their chance to vote in a post-Hosni Mubarak era during a second day of parliamentary elections, but nightfall brought new clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square that stretched into Wednesday.

At least 88 people had been hurt, 28 of them seriously enough to go to a hospital, a Health Ministry official, Dr. Adel Adawi, told the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram. The rest were treated at makeshift clinics in the square, Adawi said, but hospitals expected more people to be brought in.

The victims had been hit by rocks, glass bottles, birdshot and Molotov cocktails, Dr. Hisham Sheeha, another Health Ministry official, told CNN. At least a dozen gunshots rang out across the plaza, and ambulances darted in and out of the square as the fighting continued.

Tahrir Square was the epicenter of the protests that drove Mubarak from power in February and the ongoing demonstrations against the military council that succeeded him. The state-run Middle East News Agency, citing a military source, said there were no police or troops in the square at the time. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SUMBAWA REGION, INDONESIA - 30th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Sumbawa Region, Indonesia at a depth of 191km (118.4 miles), the quake hit at 04:26:22 UTC Wednesday 30th November 2011.
The epicenter was 25 km (15.5 miles) Northwest of Bima, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Britain Evacuates Embassy Staff From Iran - 30th Nov 2011

Britain is evacuating all its embassy staff from Iran a day after protesters stormed its mission in the capital Tehran, Western diplomatic sources have told Reuters.

The workers were forced to flee to safety after dozens of hardline student protesters smashed windows, torched cars and burnt Union flags as they attacked the British Embassy and another British compound in Tehran on Tuesday.

The Foreign Office confirmed reports that "some" diplomatic staff were leaving.

In a statement, the office said: "The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have made clear that ensuring the safety of our staff and their families is our immediate priority.

"In light of yesterday's events, and to ensure their ongoing safety, some staff are leaving Tehran."

World leaders were quick to condemn the actions of the demonstrators, including a strongly worded statement from the UN Security Council.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called the attack "outrageous and indefensible".

He warned Iran's leaders of "serious consequences" following the breach of international law.

The attack was also criticised by the European Union and the White House, which urged Iran to prosecute the offenders.

Tehran police chief General Hossein Sajadinia said several protesters had been arrested and would face the courts. Read More

Kidnapper sues his hostages for $235,000 to cover emotional stress and hospital bills after he was shot by police

A man who held a Kansas couple hostage in their home while fleeing from authorities is suing them, claiming they broke an oral contract made when he promised them money in exchange for hiding him from police.

The couple has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Jesse Dimmick, of suburban Denver, is serving an 11-year sentence after bursting into Jared and Lindsay Rowley's Topeka-area home in September 2009.

He was wanted for questioning in the beating death of a Colorado man and a chase had begun in Geary County, the Associated Press reports.

Dimmick contends he told the couple he was being chased by someone, most likely the police, who wanted to kill him.

In his hand-written court documents, Dimmick said: 'I, the defendant, asked the Rowleys to hide me because I feared for my life. I offered the Rowleys an unspecified amount of money which they agreed upon, therefore forging a legally binding oral contract.'

He wants $235,000 in total, including $160,000 for his hospital bills after he was shot in the back by police and an additional $75,000 for emotional stress.

Neighbours have said the couple fed Dimmick snacks and watched movies with him until he fell asleep and they were able to escape their home unharmed. Read More

Gary Giordano is released from Aruba jail after four months inside over missing Robyn Gardner,, But remains PRIME Suspect

A U.S. businessman held over the disappearance of his travelling companion during a holiday on the island of Aruba has been released from jail.

Gary Giordano, 50, was taken into custody on August 5 after Robyn Gardner vanished during a five-day trip to the Dutch Caribbean island.

He was free to leave the island tonight but has been told that investigators still consider him a suspect in Ms Gardner's disappearance.

Giordano left prison in an SUV with his lawyers and was hidden from view. His immediate destination was unclear as it was too late to catch a direct commercial flight back to the U.S.

Prosecutors said they were still trying to build a case against him and will seek his extradition if an appeal's court ruling, expected tomorrow, issues a reversal and orders the businessman back to jail.

Aruba's solicitor general Taco Stein said: 'The case does not end here. Mr. Giordano will remain our prime suspect.' Read More

Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador Eruption: Four villages evacuated - 30th Nov 2011

Four Ecuadorean villages are being evacuated after a volcano close to the country's capital began spewing smouldering rock and billowing columns of ash.

The government is urging 700 people living beside the Tungurahua volcano near Quito to leave the area as soon as possible.

Tungurahua - which means 'Throat of Fire' in the indigenous Quechua language - has been active since 1999 but began erupting violently on Sunday, sending red-hot clouds of gas up into the atmosphere.

Those living in the farming communities around the mountain and on its slopes have been warned to abandon their homes.

The volcano's eruptions were triggered by a build-up of lava at Tungurahua's core, according to Ecuador's Geophysical Institute.

The South American country's authorities are concerned at the volcano's pyroclastic flow - fast-moving boulders and gas that can reach speeds of up to 450mph and temperatures of up to 1000c (1,830f). Read More

Two Corvettes plus one set of lights and two idiot drivers equals . . . one nasty accident

Driver caught out as floods hit the North following rain, gales . . . and even a tornado, United Kingdom - 30th Nov 2011

Sitting atop his taxi surrounded by flood waters, this man was one of hundreds caught out as Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland were hit by heavy rain yesterday.

This scene was captured in a car park in Greenock, Scotland as some parts of Scotland were battered by a fortnight's rain in just 24-hours.

The deluges forced roads to close and train cancellations, while several schools were forced to close due to the rising waters.

Elsewhere, an elderly woman was rushed to hospital after being injured by what was described as a 'tornado' which ripped through a northern suburb.

A shop window was smashed by debris and two trees toppled in the Heaton Moor area of Stockport, Greater Manchester, after a cloud-burst and sudden strong winds hit the area at around 2pm yesterday.

Firemen were called and an 84-year-old woman was treated by paramedics, then taken to hospital suffering from cuts and bruises.

It is thought she was hit by debris from a falling chimney, a spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said. No other injuries were reported.

The spokesman said the damage was localised and firemen were at the scene to secure the area underneath the chimney. Read More