Monday, December 5, 2011

Skeletal horses abandoned in Texas after worst ever drought ravages crops, leaving desperate owners unable to afford hay - 6th Dec 2011

These are the distressing images of horses left by the side of the road after a year-long drought meant their owners could no longer afford to feed them.

After a year without rain in Texas, coupled with rocketing temperatures, crops have been sparse and the price of a bale of hay has doubled.

The effect on the horse population has been devastating. The number of animals being abandoned is ten times greater than in previous years, according to Richard Fincher of Safe Haven Equine Rescue in Gilmer, in east Texas.

Mr Fincher said: 'We get 20 to 40 calls a week that horses are alongside the road and left; nobody's claimed them. Sheriffs are calling us all the time.'

The problem, according to Dennis Sigler, a horse specialist at Texas A&M University in College Station, is that the drought has dried up the hay fields. Read More

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Flakes blanket Europe's ski resorts after fears pre-Christmas holidays would be ruined - 5th Dec 2011

Ski companies let out a collective sigh of relief as up to 30cm of snow finally fell across France, Switzerland and Austria today after what had been a worryingly mild start to the season.

In France, Val Thorens, Tignes and Courchevel all received fresh dumps of snow with Val D’Isere reporting a fall of 20cm.

And it is hoped that the snow will continue to fall with a number of French resorts expecting to receive anything between 10cm to 40cm of snowfall later this week.

In Switzerland, it was snowing in both Andermatt and Arosa, which allowed riders on their slopes for the first time last weekend. Davos had 5cm of fresh snow and Zermatt received 10cm of fresh snow.

Samnaun also had a good day on Monday, and received one of the highest amounts of fresh snow in Switzerland with around 30cm. Read More

Russians call for revolution as monitors reveal fear of ballot box stuffing in poll which saw Putin narrowly cling on to power - 5th Dec 2011

Up to 10,000 Russians took to the streets in Moscow last night to protest against what they said was a fraudulent election.

Shouting 'Revolution!' and calling for an end to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's rule, demonstrators accused the ruling party of stuffing ballot boxes and intimidating voters to rig the parliamentary poll.

The election result proved a humiliating setback for Mr Putin, whose United Russia party's support fell from 64 per cent four years ago to just below 50 per cent, leaving him with a smaller majority in the Duma.

In one of the biggest opposition demonstrations in Russia in years, protesters gathered in the rain on a tree-lined boulevard where they had permission for a rally.

They denounced the vote as shameful and shouted 'Russia without Putin!' Many tried to march on to a major street and were confronted by a chain of police officers who locked elbows and divided the surging crowd into two parts. Read More

Michelina Lewandowska dug herself out 'against all odds after boyfriend buried her alive in cardboard box and shallow grave' (England) - 6th Dec 2011

A terrified mother was buried alive in a cardboard box by the boyfriend who wanted rid of her, a court heard yesterday.

Michelina Lewandowska, 27, was shot with a 300,000-volt Taser stun gun by Marcin Kasprzak, 25, who was allegedly bored with her and thought she was not pretty enough.

She was bound and gagged with parcel tape and put in a box with two small air holes, a jury was told.

She was put in the boot of a car, driven to a wooded area and buried in a ‘shallow grave’.

Kasprzak and a friend, Patryk Borys, 18, used shovels to pile soil on the box and then put a tree branch weighing more than six stone on top of it, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Fearing the consequences of crying out, Miss Lewandowska kept quiet throughout the ordeal and as far as the men were concerned she could have been unconscious, the jury was told.

They ‘simply left her there’ and drove to a supermarket cashpoint where they used her bank cards to withdraw £500 of her money.

Over the next hour their victim, ‘with great difficulty’, managed to get out of the box and escape from the makeshift grave.

She stumbled to a nearby road and raised the alarm by flagging down a motorist. Read More

Eurozone Countries Face Credit Downgrade - 6th Dec 2011

The eurozone debt crisis has deepened with Germany, France and 13 other members of the single currency facing a credit rating downgrade.

In a move that will pile pressure on eurozone leaders and is likely to hit markets, it emerged that ratings agency Standard & Poor's had put all but two euro nations on credit watch.

The only two not named were Cyprus, which was already under review, and Greece, which holds the world's worst rating.

The bombshell came as eurozone leaders frantically tried to prevent the break-up of the single currency and restore stability after weeks of mounting crisis.

After emergency talks in Paris on Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed calls for an EU Treaty change to solve the single currency crisis.

They said they wanted change to be carried out by all 27 member states if possible - or at least the 17 eurozone countries. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 6th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 7.5 km (4.7 miles), the quake hit at 02:56:01 UTC Tuesday 6th December 2011.
The epicenter was 33 km (20 miles) NNE of Van, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

BP says Halliburton 'intentionally destroyed evidence' after Gulf oil spill

BP is accusing Halliburton of having "intentionally destroyed evidence" related to the explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The accusation comes in court papers filed by BP Monday in federal court in New Orleans as part of a lawsuit aimed at having sanctions imposed on Halliburton Energy Services Inc., which was a contractor for BP on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. An explosion on the rig on April 20, 2010, killed 11 people working on the rig and injured 16 others. The explosion led to more than 200 million gallons of oil being released into the Gulf.

BP alleges in its filing that Halliburton destroyed evidence on cement testing and violated court orders by not bringing forth "inexplicably missing" computer modeling results.

"Halliburton has steadfastly refused to provide these critical testing and modeling results in discovery. Halliburton's refusal has been unwavering, despite repeated BP discovery requests and a specific order from this Court," the documents state.

"BP has now learned the reason for Halliburton's intransigence -- Halliburton destroyed the results of physical slurry testing, and it has, at best, lost the computer modeling outputs that showed no channeling. More egregious still, Halliburton intentionally destroyed the evidence related to its nonprivileged cement testing, in part because it wanted to eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial," the BP papers say. more

Ratings Agency S&P to put all 17 Eurozone countries on downgrade watch -- EMU collapse may be imminent

DETAILS FORTHCOMING.

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Mindanao, Philippines at a depth of 92 km (57 miles), the quake hit at 19:09:44 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 102 km (63.2 miles) Southeast of Pundaguitan, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake XIZANG-QINGHAI BORDER REGION - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck the Xizang-Qinghai Border Region at a depth of just 2 km (1.2 miles - Poorly Constrained), the quake hit at 18:55:44 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 360 km (223.2 miles) Northwest of Along
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE SOUTH COAST OF PAPUA, INDONESIA - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck near the South Coast of Papua, Indonesia at a depth of 10.8 km (6.7 miles), the quake hit at 19:28:35 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 129 km (80 miles) NNW of Dobo, Aru Islands, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN AUSTRALIA - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Western Australia at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:10:03 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 224 km (138.8 miles) Southwest of Karratha, Australia
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Kepler 22-b: Earth-like planet confirmed - 5th Dec 2011

Astronomers have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in the "habitable zone" around a star not unlike our own.

The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and has a temperature of about 22C.

It is the closest confirmed planet yet to one like ours - an "Earth 2.0".

However, the team does not yet know if Kepler 22-b is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid.

During the conference at which the result was announced, the Kepler team said that it had spotted some 1,094 new candidate planets.

The Kepler space telescope was designed to look at a fixed swathe of the night sky, staring intently at about 150,000 stars. The telescope is sensitive enough to see when a planet passes in front of its host star, dimming the star's light by a minuscule amount.

Kepler identifies these slight changes in starlight as candidate planets, which are then confirmed by further observations by Kepler and other telescopes in orbit and on Earth. Read More

U.S. Military Sources: Iran Has Missing U.S. Drone - 5th Dec 2011


Iran appears to be in possession of one of America's most sophisticated weapons, a super-secret spy plane whose stealth technology is the same as the drone used to monitor the compound during the raid that killed Usama bin Laden, U.S. military sources told Fox News on Monday.

Military sources confirmed that the Iranians have the RQ-170 drone, which is so advanced that the U.S. Air Force has not distributed even a photo of it. However, they did not say that the Iranians shot down the spy plane, as was reported by Iran's official IRNA news agency.

IRNA quoted an unidentified Iranian military official saying Sunday that the spy plane was shot down by Iran's armed forces and suffered minor damage.. The official also warned of strong and crushing response to any violations of the country's airspace by American drone aircraft.

Earlier, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan issued a statement saying the aircraft may have been a drone that operators lost contact with last week while it was flying a mission over neighboring western Afghanistan. Read More

Sydney Morning Herald Britain and US express 'concern' over Russia election - 5th Dec 2011

Britain and the United States have expressed "serious concern" about the conduct of Russia's parliamentary elections, which election monitors said had stifled competition and shown a "lack of fairness".

Thousands of protesters meanwhile converged in Moscow rallying against Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, called for an investigation into the polls, which saw United Russia party narrowly gain a majority of seats but lose nearly 15 per cent of its support from the previous election.

In remarks sure to antagonise Russia's most powerful man, she said monitors from the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe had raised questions about the possible stuffing of ballot boxes, manipulation of voter lists "and other troubling practices".

She said Washington was also concerned that internal Russian election monitors were harassed, including by cyber-attacks on their websites.

"Russian voters deserve a full investigation of all credible reports of electoral fraud and manipulation and we hope in particular that then Russian authorities will take action" said Mrs Clinton, attending an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn. Read More

Franco-German budget plan demands EU treaty change - 5th Dec 2011

* Pressure to agree proposals before EU summit

* Euro zone must tell world it pays its debts -- Sarkozy

* EU treaty change might involve only euro zone members

* Italian austerity plan cheers market

The leaders of France and Germany agreed a master plan on Monday for imposing budget discipline across the euro zone, saying the EU's basic treaty will need to be changed in the search for a sweeping solution to its debt crisis.

President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel said their proposal included automatic penalties for governments that fail to keep their deficits under control, and an early launch of a permanent bailout fund for euro states in distress.

They said they wanted treaty change to be agreed in March and ratified after France wraps up presidential and legislative elections in June. "We need to go fast," Sarkozy said.

Italy, the biggest euro zone nation in trouble, offered a glimmer of hope that the bloc could halt a crisis that is threatening the survival of the common currency. Its borrowing costs tumbled after its new technocrat government announced an austerity programme.

"What we want, with the (German) chancellor, is to tell the world that in Europe the rule is that we pay back our debts, reduce our deficits, restore growth," Sarkozy told a joint news conference after about two hours of talks in Paris. Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN SANGIHE, INDONESIA - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Sangihe, Indonesia at a depth of 293 km (181.6 miles), the quake hit at 17:11:25 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 68 km (42.1 miles) Southwest of Sarangani, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHWESTERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Southwestern Siberia, Russia at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 17:43:22 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 39 km (24.8 miles) East of Onguday, Siberia, Russia
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Argentina flirts with Iran as West worries - 5th Dec 2011

Argentina is quietly reaching out to Iran, worrying key Western powers and Israel as they try to tighten Tehran's international isolation over its nuclear program, U.N. diplomats told Reuters.

Argentina's ties with Iran have been virtually frozen since Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians and a Lebanese in 2007 in connection with a 1994 attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people.

Tehran denied links to the bombing but in July offered talks with Argentina to start "shedding light" on the case.

The 1994 attack came two years after a group called Islamic Jihad Organization, which was believed to be linked to Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, claimed responsibility for bombing the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29.

For more than a decade Argentina appeared to do little to investigate the attacks. But when Nestor Kirchner became president in 2003 he vowed to reopen the cases, calling the neglect "a national disgrace." Several years later former Iranian President Ali Rafsanjani was among those indicted by Argentine prosecutors and sought by Interpol.

But there have been signs of a thaw in the two nations' frosty ties. Read More

International Monetary Fund says it has approved 2.2. billion euro tranche for Greece - 5th Dec 2011

The International Monetary Fund said on Monday its board had approved a 2.2. billion euro loan disbursement to Greece, part of a three-year IMF-EU bailout package to help the country from going bankrupt .

"The executive board of the International Monetary Fund today completed the fifth review of Greece's economic performance under a program supported by a three-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) for Greece," the IMF said in a brief statement. Source

US says strike on Iran could miss nuclear sites

Pentagon chief Leon Panetta on Friday warned there was no guarantee a US military strike on Iran would hit intended targets linked to Tehran's nuclear program, saying the sites are "difficult to get at."

The US defense secretary has recently voiced his misgivings about bombing Iran in a series of public remarks, amid speculation Israel may take pre-emptive action to prevent Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.

But for the first time Friday, Panetta -- the former director of the CIA -- appeared to suggest Iran's underground nuclear facilities might survive air strikes.

"The indication is that at best it (military action) might postpone it (Iran's nuclear program) maybe by one or possibly two years," he said in remarks at an event organized by the Brookings think-tank in Washington.

"It depends on the ability to truly get at the targets that they're after. Frankly, some of those targets are very difficult to get at," Panetta said. more

Commentary: Black swans galore in Pakistan

For Pakistanis, arguably the world's most anti-U.S. population in the world, the NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a military post at Salala in the Mohmand Tribal Agency on the Afghan-Pakistan border, was deliberate.

The U.S. and NATO command immediately said they regretted the loss of life but held back any formal apology pending a thorough investigation as they say the Pakistanis -- who may have been mistaken for Taliban partisans -- were the first to open fire.

The suspicion is that the Pakistanis were harboring the insurgents who first opened fire and then retreated into the army base appropriately named Camp Volcano.

The latest crisis in the rocky Pak-U.S. relationship escalated quickly on the Pakistani side. Islamabad demanded that the only CIA drone base in the country pack up and leave, which the United States was preparing to do anyway since the May 2 U.S. Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The elimination of the al-Qaida leader in Abbottabad, where he had been in hiding for several years in a compound a short walk from Pakistan's military academy, proved to be an acute embarrassment for the Pakistani high command.

The twin NATO supply routes from Karachi into Afghanistan that supply 30 percent of Afghan war requirements, were closed, immobilizing hundreds of tanker trucks over two 1,000-mile routes to Kandahar and Kabul. more

China's workers flex their muscles as growth slows

Faced with lay-offs and wage cuts as falling demand in the West hits the country's vast manufacturing sector, the workers who have powered China's breakneck growth are refusing to go quietly.

Over the past month, thousands of factory workers in China's southern manufacturing heartlands have wrested concessions from employers facing shrinking exports and rising costs in a wave of labour unrest.

In the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, workers recently gathered at the office of labour rights organisation Little Bird to debate a possible strike at a factory that employs them to demand better overtime pay and compensation.

"We have never experienced this situation. We want to learn the different methods for protecting our rights," said Ran Lin, 30, who spends 11 hours a day, six days a week testing thousands of circuit boards on an assembly line.

Ran, who supplements his 2,000 yuan ($315) monthly wage by working overtime at the Hong Kong-invested Yong Jie Electronics factory, said the company had reduced perks such as meals and housing, even as the cost of living rose.

"We made contributions to economic development. We gave so much to the company. I hope they can give us suitable compensation," said Ran. more

India's uranium mines cast a health shadow

Gudiya Das whines as flies settle on her face, waiting for her mother to swat them while she lies on a cot in Ichra, one in a cluster of villages around India's only functioning uranium mines.

The 12-year-old, whose skeletal frame makes her look about half her age, was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy when she was a year old.

"Back then there were 33 disabled kids here, now there are more than a hundred," her father, Chhatua Das told AFP in his home in Jaduguda valley in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

For Das and his wife Lakshmi, who have lost six children before the age of one, there is only one possible culprit -- the nearby mines run by the state-owned Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL).

"I know there is some connection between the mining and what's happened to my daughter," Lakshmi told AFP. "It's because of the uranium in the water here." more

Syria Keen To Agree Arab League Peace Plan - 5th Dec 2011

Syria has said it "would like" to agree soon to an Arab League peace plan to end its eight-month crackdown on popular unrest - but is demanding a number of conditions.

The country wants the removal of sanctions and its reinstatment to the regional bloc, while repeating its rejection of foreign interference.

The conditions were set out in a letter to the League by foreign minister Walid al-Mualem, and described by his spokesman as a "positive" response requiring an Arab League reply.

An Arab diplomat in Cairo said the group was consulting member states and considering its response.

Meanwhile, Syria has retaliated against northern neighbour Turkey for the sanctions imposed by its former friend.

In a display of military might that could be intended to deter foreign military intervention in a crisis which has killed at least 4,000 people, the army staged a big exercise with missiles, rockets, tanks and helicopters.

Activist website Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said five civilians were killed by security forces in Homs, the country's third largest city. Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF JALISCO, MEXICO - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck off the Coast of Jalisco, Mexico at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:57:39 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 311 km (193 miles) WSW of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL MONGOLIA - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Central Mongolia at a depth of 28 km (17.4 miles), the quake hit at 15:32:42 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 206 km (128 miles) WNW of Bayandalay, Mongolia
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NIAS REGION, INDONESIA - 5th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Nias Region, Indonesia at a depth of 44.2 km (27.5 miles), the quake hit at 14:28:05 UTC Monday 5th December 2011.
The epicenter was 190 km (118 miles) West of Sibolga, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

"Fiskalunion" is worst of all worlds for Europe

Be careful of the German term 'Fiskalunion', the next phase of Europe’s misadventure. What Chancellor Angela Merkel means is increased powers to police the budgets of EMU sinner states.

She means prior vetting of fiscal plans. She means automatic fines, cuts in EU development funds, and loss of EU voting rights for alleged violators, all justiciable before the European Court.

The correct term is 'Stability Union', as the Chancellor calls it at home. It certainly entails unprecedented intrusion into the internal affairs of sovereign states, but in one direction only: discipline, without transforming help.

The Greeks have had a taste of this with EU commissars lodged in each ministry under the occupation terms of their loan package, and it may come back to bite Germany itself one day as the economic cycle plays its trick.

Nor is the idea going down well in France, where Leftist MP Jean-Marie Le Guen compared President Nicolas Sarkozy’s kowtowing to the Iron Chancellor with Daladier’s capitulation at Munich in 1938, and where Le Front National’s Marie Le Pen is running near 20pc in the polls with calls to “let the euro die a natural death.”

“The time has come to take on the political confrontation with Germany and defend our values,” said socialist doyen Arnaud Montebourg, equating Mr Sarkozy’s epic humiliations with French defeat at Sedan in 1870. more

Federal Reserve may give loans to IMF to help euro zone

The Federal Reserve, along with the 17 euro zone national central banks, may help provide the International Monetary Fund with funds that could be used to aid debt-ridden states, a German newspaper said.

Die Welt cited sources close to the negotiations as saying the euro zone central banks could pay at least 100 billion euros ($134.2 billion) into a special fund that could be used for programs for nations struggling to control their debts.

"Also other central banks, for example the U.S. Federal Reserve, are apparently prepared to finance a part of the costs," the paper said in an advance copy of an article to appear on Monday.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may discuss the idea in the coming weeks when he visits Europe, the paper said.

Officials had said on Saturday that talks on the size of loans from euro zone central banks were starting at a technical level after finance ministers from the currency union gave the go-ahead to explore the idea.

The idea is for the IMF to be able to match the new firepower of the euro zone bailout fund, which is being leveraged.

One senior euro zone official has said that no amount had been discussed at the political level. more

Mysterious blasts, slayings suggest covert efforts in Iran

At an Iranian military base 30 miles west of Tehran, engineers were working on weapons that the armed forces chief of staff had boasted could give Israel a "strong punch in the mouth."

But then a huge explosion ripped through the Revolutionary Guard Corps base on Nov. 12, leveling most of the buildings. Government officials said 17 people were killed, including a founder of Iran's ballistic missile program, Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam.

Iranian officials called the blast an accident. Perhaps it was.

Decades of international sanctions have left Iran struggling to obtain technology and spare parts for military programs and commercial industries, leading in some cases to dangerous working conditions.

However, many former U.S. intelligence officials and Iran experts believe that the explosion — the most destructive of at least two dozen unexplained blasts in the last two years — was part of a covert effort by the U.S., Israel and others to disable Iran's nuclear and missile programs. The goal, the experts say, is to derail what those nations fear is Iran's quest for nuclear weapons capability and to stave off an Israeli or U.S. airstrike to eliminate or lessen the threat.

"It looks like the 21st century form of war," said Patrick Clawson, who directs the Iran Security Initiative at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington think tank. "It does appear that there is a campaign of assassinations and cyber war, as well as the semi-acknowledged campaign of sabotage." more

Iran: "Why we need a Start the War coalition"

The Stop the War campaign is gaining momentum. Tonight those jihadists of peace, George Galloway, Tony Benn and Lindsay German, launch their latest bid to stay the hand of the warmongers threatening the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their public meeting, “Don’t attack Iran”, starts at 7 pm in Red Lion Square. It’s the future of mankind we’re talking about, so please don’t be late.

Of course not everyone will be able to make it. David Miliband has a prior engagement. So does Meir Dagan, the former head of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad. But over the past week both have, in their own ways, sent their apologies.

Last Tuesday, Dagan told Israeli TV an attack on Iran risks the start of a devastating regional conflict. Then on Thursday Britain’s former foreign secretary penned an article in the Financial Times warning of the “risk of sleepwalking into a war”. “Nature abhors a vacuum”, he said, “and so does international politics. It cannot be filled by nudges and winks about military options. A concerted diplomatic effort on Iran is needed now to prevent the world sleepwalking into another war in the Middle East.”

When it comes to opposing military intervention, neither Dagan nor Miliband could be described as the usual suspects. In fact, they’ve never so much as had their fingerprints taken. A willingness to bomb people formed an important part of Dagan’s former job description. And David Miliband’s support of the invasion of Iraq, a vote which went some way to costing him this leadership of his party, showed that politically he’s only too happy to place his boots on the ground. more

Astonishing accident involving eight Ferraris 'world's most expensive car crash'



A fleet of high-performance cars, including eight Ferraris, has been involved in one of the most expensive accidents in history after an astonishing multi-car pile-up in Japan.

Police said three Mercedes Benz cars and a Lamborghini Diablo were also involved in the massive crash at the weekend on the Chugoku Expressway, in the country’s south-west.

Witnesses reported hearing a “tremendous noise” just a few moments before the accident on the Yamaguchi prefecture highway amid terrible driving conditions.

While the majority of the 14 vehicles – which also included a Japanese supercar Nissan GT-R Skyline and a Toyota Prius – were travelling along the Osaka Prefecture-bound bended lane at least one Mercedes CL600 was driving in the opposite direction. more