Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stand up for BRITISH rights! Cameron flies to make-or-break Euro summit with message from mutinous Tory MPs ringing in his ears - 8th Dec 2011

David Cameron was rocked yesterday by a Tory mutiny over Europe and a stunning put-down from Germany’s Angela Merkel.

The Prime Minister faced open defiance from Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson and London Mayor Boris Johnson over his refusal to offer a referendum on Britain’s future in the EU.

Even some of Mr Cameron’s closest Cabinet allies are understood to be shifting to a much more Eurosceptic position, with a five-strong group of ministers planning to visit the Prime Minister as early as today to urge him to toughen his stance.

Several senior figures doubt privately that the euro will survive – with hopes receding of a significant breakthrough at ‘do or die’ talks between EU leaders in Brussels tonight.

In the Commons, Conservative MPs lined up to urge the Prime Minister to adopt a ‘bulldog spirit’ and block any EU deal which threatens Britain’s interests.

To add to his woes, Mrs Merkel made it clear she intends to say ‘nein’ to Mr Cameron’s attempts to extract special safeguards for Britain as the eurozone countries move to create a single economic government. Read More

Vegas Tourist Helicopter Crash, 5 Killed - 8th Dec 2011

Five people have been killed in a helicopter crash on the border of Nevada and Arizona in the US.

The aircraft came down in the River Mountains surrounding Lake Mead, according to National Park Service spokesman Andrew Munoz.

The crash site is about 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip and is not accessible by road.

The helicopter, operated by Sundance Helicopters, was on a sightseeing tour of the Hoover Dam before heading back to Las Vegas, a company spokesman said.

He told FOX5 News there were five people on board, including the pilot.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene of the accident by a water treatment plant near Lakeshore Road, south of Lake Mead's Las Vegas Bay.

Police spokesman Bill Cassell told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the first reports of the crash came in at 4:54pm local time.

"We have reliable information that a bird is on the ground out there," Mr Cassell said, adding that the pilot had not been heard from. Read More

Pygmy Elephant has Killed Australian veterinarian student, Jenna O'Grady Donley, 25, Borneo, Malaysia - 8th Dec 2011

A pygmy elephant has gored an Australian veterinarian student to death in a remote wildlife park on the Malaysian island of Borneo.

Jenna O'Grady Donley, 25, from New South Wales, was trekking with a friend and a Malaysian guide in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah state when they were attacked by the rare elephant.

State wildlife department director Laurentius Ambu said the bull may have been startled and charged when the two tourists tried to take its photo.

While the guide and one woman managed to get away, the elephant's tusk pierced the other woman's body, and she died instantly, he said.

Ambu said that the women earlier trekked to a mud volcano but were disappointed that they did not see much wildlife, so the guide took them back another way and not on the main path.

Police are questioning the guide.

Mr Ambu said fatal attacks were rare, though single elephant bulls are known to be aggressive.

Jenna Donley's mother Liz Donley told ABC: "Bull elephants are fast, they can move with unpredictability, and they're aggressive and they're protective.

"This was an animal by itself and they startled it. This is an accident that's happened, a very tragic accident." Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 8th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Bonin Islands, Japan Region at a depth of 35 km (21.7 miles), the quake hit at 03:17:49 UTC Thursday 8th December 2011.
The epicenter was 184 km (114 miles) NNW of Chichi-Shima, Bonin Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE ATACAMA, CHILE - 8th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck offshore Atacama, Chile at a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles), the quake hit at 01:13:22 UTC Thursday 8th December 2011.
The epicenter was 85 km (52 miles) NNW of Vallenar, Atacama, Chile
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA - 8th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Banda Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 385.5 km (239.5 miles), the quake hit at 00:49:17 UTC Thursday 8th December 2011.
The epicenter was 227 km (141 miles) Northeast of Dili, Timor-Leste
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

6.1 Magnitude Earthquake ATACAMA, CHILE - 7th Dec 2011

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake has struck Atacama, Chile at a depth of 15.6 km (9.7 miles), the quake hit at 22:23:09 UTC Wednesday 7th December 2011.
The epicenter was 79 km (49 miles) NNW of Vallenar, Atacama, Chile
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 7th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honsu, Japan at a depth of 40.2 km (25 miles), the quake hit at 22:11:42 UTC Wednesday 7th December 2011.
The epicenter was 59 km (36 miles) East of Mito, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake NEW ZEALAND - 7th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the Wellington Region, New Zealand at a depth of 30 km (18.6 miles), the quake hit at 21:16:39 UTC Wednesday 7th December 2011.
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) North of Wellington, New Zealand
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake ATACAMA, CHILE - 7th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Atacama, Chile at a depth of 24.8 km (15.4 miles), the quake hit at 16:21:55 UTC Wednesday 7th December 2011.
The epicenter was 45 km (27 miles) West of Vallenar, Atacama, Chile
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Cloaked UFO next to Mercury? - Giant object the size of a planet next to Mercury has astronomers baffled

A gigantic object the size of a planet has appeared on astronomers screens lurking near Mercury, with UFO hunters around the world wondering whether it’s an alien ship.

The object appears from nowhere in a sequence of images of a coronal ejection from the Sun, taken by a Nasa telescope.

As the flare races past Mercury, a huge round object appears next to it – but Nasa scientists insist that the object is merely a result of the way the images are processed. Read More

Hundreds Evacuated as a result of a six-hour sieged in Paget, Australia - 7th Dec 2011

MORE than 100 employees were evacuated as a result of a six-hour sieged in Paget yesterday.

Police set up a 700 m exclusion zone around the Central Park and John Vella drives area, while Queensland Fire and Rescue Service crews worked within a second exclusion zone, which was 200 m from the site.

Mackay Truck Parts and Repairs storeman Brett Brown was one of many who were evacuated and watched the action unfold from East Boundary Rd.

"We were at work; we saw the road blocks. Police came in and told our office staff we must evacuate the building. They said it was a bomb scare up the road," Mr Brown said.

"I just thought 'wow'. We came across the road and waited."

He said the shutdown would cause delays to the normal operation of the business. Read More

Two suffer injuries in fire, explosions at Wyoming natural gas site - 7th Dec 2011

A fire at a natural gas compressor station in southwest Wyoming on Tuesday set off two explosions, sent smoke billowing into the sky and caused two people to be taken away by ambulance, authorities say.

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office received calls shortly after noon reporting a fire, thick black smoke and venting natural gas at the Falcon compressor station, part of a system in the Upper Green River Basin that gathers and transports gas produced from the Jonah and Pinedale Anticline fields.

Reports indicated that venting gas ignited and set off two explosions, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. Firefighters, medical personnel and sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.

All employees and contractors at the station south of Pinedale were accounted for, said Rick Rainey, spokesman for Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, which owns and operates the station.

Two people were taken by ambulance after the incident triggered “pre-existing medical conditions,” the sheriff’s office said.

The fire would be allowed to burn out on its own under firefighters’ supervision, the sheriff’s office said.

Rainey said he was unsure if it is accurate to call the incident an explosion.

“There was obviously a fire that occurred on some equipment inside the compressor station,” Rainey said. Read More

Nathan Allen Jailed for NINE Years for Killing his 14 Month-old son - 7th Dec 2011

A man who killed his 14-month-old son by punching him in the abdomen because he would not stop crying has been jailed for nine years.

Nathan Allen attacked Fletcher with both fists as he lay in his cot - and the toddler died from internal bleeding and damaged kidneys in January.

Allen, 27, had been left with the youngster for less than 30 minutes while his partner Danielle Hands, 19, went to see her family.

After the incident, Allen denied hurting his son, who the court said was suffering from nappy rash, but he admitted manslaughter at the start of his trial.

At the Old Bailey, the defendant, who was cleared by a jury of murder, had demonstrated hitting the child with his two clenched fists in a downward motion.

He said: "He was screaming and clinging to my arm. I hit him twice in the stomach. I didn't know what else to do.

"As soon as I'd done it, I realised it was wrong and I said 'Sorry, Fletcher' and I picked him up and cuddled him. Read More

Explosives from UK Found at Bahrain's Airport - 7th Dec 2011

Bahrain's Ministry of Interior said on Wednesday it had found a package containing explosives in the Gulf kingdom's airport.

On its official Twitter account, the ministry said authorities had carried out a controlled explosion of the package which had come into Bahrain on a flight from Britain, via Dubai.

It added that investigations were continuing into the incident, without giving further details. Source

German Pessimism Hits Euro - 7th Dec 2011

The dollar edged up against the euro following reports that Germany is rejecting the latest proposal to boost the euro zone's ability to bail out larger debtors.

"Germany appears to be downplaying expectations for the summit," said Andrew Busch, global currency and public policy strategist at BMO Capital Markets. "The news flow from Europe suggests more struggles for a fiscal union agreement."

The shared currency was under pressure already after banks aggressively took advantage of the European Central Bank's first dollar-liquidity operation since major central banks last week moved to cut the cost of dollar funding. Read More

Syrian president Bashar al Assad has denied ordering the killing of anti-regime protesters, saying only a "crazy person" would do so - 7th Dec 2011

Speaking in Damascus, Mr Assad told ABC News' Barbara Walters that he did his "best to protect the people" and that he gave "no command to kill or to be brutal".

"There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference," he said.

"They're not my forces. They are military forces (who) belong to the government. I don't own them. I'm president. I don't own the country."

In his role as president, Mr Assad is the commander of Syria's armed forces.

The president also dismissed a recent UN report which estimated that more than 4,000 people have died since uprisings began.

"Who said that the United Nations is a credible institution?" he said.

"Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa." Read More

Occupy Wall Street movement takes over abandoned and foreclosed homes in New York - 7th Dec 2011

Wary U.S. uncertain of Israel's Iran plans - 7th Dec 2011

The Obama administration does not know Israel's intentions regarding potential military action against Iran, and the uncertainty is stoking concern in Washington, where the preferred course for now is sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

Although Israel remains one of the United States' closest allies and the two countries' officials are in regular contact, U.S. officials have a "sense of opacity" regarding what might prompt an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear sites, and about when such an attack might occur, according to a senior U.S. national security official.

Two key U.S. senators acknowledged on Tuesday that there are gaps in U.S. knowledge about Israeli leaders' thinking and intentions.

"I don't think the administration knows what Israel is going to do. I'm not sure Israel knows what Israel is going to do ... That's why they want to keep the other guys guessing. Keep the bad guys guessing," said Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Read More

Hu Jintao tells China navy: Prepare for warfare

China's navy should speed up its development and prepare for warfare, President Hu Jintao has said.

He told military personnel they should "make extended preparations for warfare".

China is locked in territorial disputes with several other nations in the South China Sea. Political tension is also growing with the US, which is seeking to boost its presence in the region.

After Mr Hu's comments, the US said China was entitled to defend itself.

"Nobody's looking for a scrap here," said Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby in quotes carried by the AFP news agency.

"Certainly we wouldn't begrudge any other nation the opportunity to develop naval forces."

Senior US and Chinese officials are currently holding talks on military issues.

The one-day meeting takes place every year, with the stated aim of ensuring there are no misunderstandings between the two nations. more

Nasa's Voyager 1 in 'cosmic purgatory' on verge of entering Milky Way

Nasa's Voyager 1 has entered a new region of space between the Solar System and interstellar space in what Nasa has described as a 'cosmic purgatory'.

The spacecraft is close to leaving the Solar System and into the uncharted territory of the Milky Way after more than three decades in space.

Voyager 1 was launched with its twin, Voyager 2, by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in 1977.

Voyager 1 is travelling at just under 11 miles per second and sending information from nearly 11 billion miles away from the sun.

It is about to become the first man-made object to leave the Solar System, although Nasa expects it to take between several months and years before it completely enters interstellar space. Voyager 2 will follow later.

Ed Stone, the Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said: "Voyager tells us now that we're in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system. Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. more

US sources: Downed CIA drone made previous trips over Iran

The RQ-170 stealth drone that crashed in Iran last week has been used by the CIA in the past to spy on Iran's nuclear facilities and Hezbollah training camps inside Iran, U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

Its stealth technology has allowed the drone to operate in Iranian air space, feeding streaming video to the CIA of targets and activities on the ground, undetected by Iranian air defense radars -- just as it did when it circled over Osama Bin Laden's compound, undetected by the Pakistani military.

The sources, however, did not know what specific mission was involved in this case when CIA operators on the ground lost control of the drone and it eventually ran out of fuel and crashed in Iran's mountainous terrain last Thursday.

The wreckage is now in the hands of Iran’s military, and the U.S. is concerned that the Iranians could salvage highly sensitive technology used in the drone for cameras or sensors or even the stealth technology, and try to develop it for themselves. more

More Hypodermic Needles Found Hidden In Clothing At Walmart In Georgia: US

Police are continuing to recover hypodermic needles that have been hidden inside garments at a Walmart in Georgia.

Yesterday morning, Bartow County Sheriff's Office deputies again arrived at the store in Cartersville, this time in response to a shopper discovering a syringe inside a pocket in a pair of men’s pajamas (seen at right). The woman who found the needle was not stuck, according to a sheriff’s report.

While at the store, cops and Walmart officials met to “devise a plan to locate other syringes.” After settling on using “metal detector wands” to search for syringes, investigators realized that this approach was not working due to “the small amount of metal in or on them.”

Plan B, however, was more successful. While lightly tapping or touching garments, a Walmart worker discovered a syringe inside the pocket of a “pair of men’s lounging pants.” The exposed needle was facing outward. more

More Americans Go Abroad for Economic Opportunities (As the ship sinks)

Derek Capo was living the high life. He was in his early 20s, an analyst at hedge fund Everest Capital monitoring international equities, and soaking up the weather and nightlife of his hometown of Miami.

But looking ahead, as he'd been trained to do, Capo didn't like what he saw. The housing bust was starting to strangle the Florida economy, the stock market was looking increasingly erratic and he didn't want to pursue a pricey MBA in the middle of an economic crisis.

He also wanted to test his entrepreneurial muscles, by starting his own business, ideally in a locale that felt economically vibrant, with seemingly limitless possibilities. To do that, Capo left the U.S. in 2007.

He now lives in Beijing, having founded Next Step China. The firm offers Chinese-language immersion programs, and arranges opportunities for foreigners to teach, intern or volunteer in China.

"I wanted to take the next step in my life and career," says Capo, now 29. "I connected the dots and decided that I should go somewhere different and learn something new, like Mandarin, to challenge myself. I picked China because it was growing so fast." more

Patty White: Accused Of Leaving Dead Friend’s Body Under Christmas Presents (After killing her first... for her ATM card)

Police say a York County woman admitted to killing a 67-year-old family friend in Florida and leaving the woman’s body underneath a pile of Christmas presents in her own home.

Patty White, 40, has been arrested for allegedly killing 67-year-old Michele O’Dowd in her Jacksonville home Friday. Jacksonville police indicated to CBS Charlotte that while no charges have been filed to this point, the case against White will be a homicide case.

Jacksonville police said White stole two of O’Dowd’s charge cards following her death, attempting to take money out of her account from at least two area ATMs. Police added that O’Dowd let White, a family friend, stay with her when she fell on difficult times.

WTEV reports that O’Dowd’s body was discovered by her twin brother that same day.

“There is nothing worse than when you walk inside and find your own sister brutally murdered over a stupid debit card,” the brother told WTEV. more

Toilet paper restrictions imposed on schoolchildren in Spain in latest austerity cuts

Schoolchildren in Catalonia are the latest victims of austerity cuts with authorities instructing them to limit their use of lavatory paper in a bid to save money.

The northeastern region has been ordered to rein in its deficit and has embarked on a series of stringent austerity cuts.

The latest edict issued by the region’s ministry of education instructs state schools to cut “excessive consumption” of toilet roll among pupils and limit the quota to a maximum of 25 metres per child per month.

This most recent penny saving measure comes amid widespread cuts to education budgets across Spain that has led to regular protests in the streets by teachers.

Doctors in debt laden Catalonia have also been called out on strike in recent weeks angry at health budget cuts that have left public hospitals over stretched.

Spain’s autonomous regions have been forced by the central government to reduce their spending to help meet the nation’s budget deficit reduction target. more

'Silent coup' rumors swirl as Zardari leaves Pakistan

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has traveled to Dubai after falling ill, fuelling rumors Wednesday of his possible resignation.

Close associates of the president told the Associated Press he is currently "unwell," but did not provide specifics. His condition did not appear to be life-threatening, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Zardari's office said he was undergoing routine medical tests and a check-up "as planned."

However, Reuters cited a source in Dubai as saying that Zardari had suffered a minor heart attack.

"Two days ago, he had chest pain," the source added. more

China warns of 'severe challenges' to exports to West

China faces "severe challenges" to its exports due to economic difficulties in key Western markets, the country's commerce ministry has warned.

Data due to be released on Saturday will show a sharp slowdown in export growth in November, the ministry said.

Sales to Europe and the US, which comprise about 40% of total exports, were not expected to recover next year.

The ministry said China would instead target exports to developing markets in Asia and Latin America. more

Over 40% of cancers due to lifestyle, says review (and of course, not from a catastrophically polluted environment)

Nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year - over 130,000 in total - are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, a review reveals.

Tobacco is the biggest culprit, causing 23% of cases in men and 15.6% in women, says the Cancer Research UK report.

Next comes a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in men's diets, while for women it is being overweight.

The report is published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Its authors claim it is the most comprehensive analysis to date on the subject.

Lead author Prof Max Parkin said: "Many people believe cancer is down to fate or 'in the genes' and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it.

"Looking at all the evidence, it's clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change." more

Israel kills militant in Gaza Strip air strike

One Palestinian militant has been killed and at least two others injured in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics say.

Islamic Jihad confirmed the dead man had been a member of its military wing.

The Israeli military said its aircraft had targeted two groups of militants east of Gaza City, which had been preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

Witnesses said they had earlier clashed with Israeli troops who crossed the Gaza border and entered a buffer zone.

Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, said it had dispatched forces to the area and that they had exchanged fire with the Israeli soldiers.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not comment on the reported ground operation, but said it would "continue to take action against those [who] use terror against the State of Israel".

Islamic Jihad has been involved in a number of clashes with Israeli forces.

Last month, nine members of the group, as well as an Israeli civilian, were killed during several days of fighting. more

Eurozone: France and Germany urge common taxes

The leaders of France and Germany have called jointly for eurozone countries to have common corporation and financial transaction taxes.

The tax policy would apply only to the 17-member eurozone. France has long complained about Ireland's low corporation tax rate of 12.5%.

The proposal came in a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, on the eve of a key EU summit.

Both countries want changes to the EU treaties to enforce budget discipline. source

China children rescued in swoop on traffickers

Police in China say they have rescued nearly 200 children after uncovering two child-trafficking gangs.

More than 600 people were arrested in raids in 10 Chinese provinces.

A BBC correspondent in Beijing says the staggering numbers in the investigation reveal the scale of the country's child-trafficking problem.

Critics blame China's one-child policy and lax adoption laws, which they say have created a thriving underground market for buying children.

Thousands missing:

The Ministry of Public Security said 178 children had been rescued in the joint investigation. It did not give their ages and said they were being cared for while officials sought to trace their parents.

The ministry described the crackdown as "one of the biggest victories for anti-trafficking".

A statement said 5,000 police had co-operated for six months before arresting suspects last week.

"Police departments will continue to crack down on child trafficking and ensure that involved children are kept out of the reach of buyers," the statement said.

9 arrests in wild Staten Island incident, as unruly crowd overruns cops, police say

Firefighters came to the rescue of two police officers outnumbered in Mariners Harbor today, in a scene so chaotic that New York’s Bravest employed a truck-mounted deluge gun -- a water cannon -- to fend off the marauding group of teens.

The scene unfolded at about 3:30 p.m. in front of 83 Harbor Rd., where a large group of teenagers had amassed to confront a teenage girl who lives in the residence.

By the time it was over, two officers were sent to Richmond University Medical Center, West Brighton, for treatment, and nine teens ended up under arrest, said Inspector John Denesopolis, the 120th Precinct's commanding officer. Police also recovered a starter pistol, he said.

The officers were OK, but "banged up," Denesopolis said.

"It was chaos," said one neighbor, who lives across the street but declined to give his name, stating that he feared retaliation. "The yelling got louder and louder and louder... There was probably 50 to 55 kids out here, and they were challenging one girl."

The group was threatening the girl, yelling at her to come out and fight, witnesses told the Advance. That sparked calls to 911, and two officers, one male, the other female, arrived at the scene. more

Bill Gates, China jointly developing nuclear reactor (Wait, what?)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates confirmed Wednesday he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor.

"The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste," said the billionaire during a talk at China's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Gates has largely funded a Washington state-based company, TerraPower, that is developing a Generation IV nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium.

The general manager of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation, Sun Qin, was quoted in Chinese media last week saying Gates was working with it to research and develop a reactor.

"TerraPower is having very good discussions with CNNC and various people in the Chinese government," said Gates, cautioning that they were at an early stage. more

Canada's fossil-fuel powerplants rapped for polution

Canada's fossil fuel-powered generating plants average higher greenhouse gas emissions for the same amount of electricity than American or Mexican stations, an international report has found.

The figures, compiled by the commission that oversees the environmental portions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), found that Canadian plants release an average of 0.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for every megawatt-hour generated.

That compares with 0.8 tonnes for U.S. plants and less than 0.7 tonnes for those in Mexico.

"It's an issue that has to do with the plant age, the technology, the fuel," said Orlando Cabrera, one of the authors of the report for the Commission on Environmental Co-operation.

While the commission has released data on power generation in the three countries before, it's the first time it has compiled data on greenhouse gas efficiency. The report considers more than 3,100 fossil fuel-powered electricity generating plants using 2005 data, the latest available internationally comparable information.

However, the U.S. still generates far more greenhouse gas from electrical generation than either of its NAFTA partners. The report finds that the 16 largest American emitters released more greenhouse gases than the combined output of all Mexican and Canadian plants.

However, the report adds that Canada provides the least information on its power plants. more

Attawapiskat leader threatens civil disobedience over Canada's treatment of Native population

A regional chief who represents Attawapiskat says that a number of his counterparts in other First Nations are prepared to engage in civil disobedience over Ottawa's handling of a housing crisis in the northern Ontario community.

"There's people who are ready to stand up and be counted... to stand up and do civil disobedience so that we are heard," Stan Louttit told Evan Solomon on CBC-TV's Power & Politics.

"If the minister does not want to work with us, you may see that sooner than later," said Louttit, who presides over the Mushkegowuk Council, which represents Attawapiskat and six other First Nations.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has ordered an independent audit of Attawapiskat's finances and has appointed a third-party manager to oversee spending, after local leaders declared an emergency over substandard housing conditions.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence declared an emergency in October as winter approached, while some members of the community of about 1,800 huddled in unheated tents, condemned housing and portable trailers. more

Blind China activist Chen Guangcheng recovers amid call for his release

The condition of a prominent blind Chinese legal activist, whose nearly 15-months of house arrest and alleged mistreatment by local authorities have drawn international criticism, has slightly improved, a family friend told CNN Wednesday.

"Chen Guangcheng's health has gotten better after his guards allowed our medicine to be delivered and it proved effective in treating his chronic problem of having blood in the stool," said friend and activist He Peirong, from the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing.

Chen, who turned 40 last month, has been confined to his home along with his wife, mother and daughter since he was released from prison in September 2010. A local court had sentenced him to four years in prison for damaging property and disrupting traffic in a protest.

His supporters maintain authorities used trumped-up charges to silence Chen, a self-taught lawyer who rose to fame in the late 1990s thanks to his legal advocacy for what he called victims of abusive practices by China's family-planning officials.

The apparent positive development regarding Chen's health came after activists in China and around the world intensified their campaigns for his freedom in the past few months. Amid rumors of his death, four photos recently surfaced online, showing Chen, his wife and mother smiling and waving goodbye to an unseen guest outside their house. more

Floods, landslides, fire and drought: Extreme weather the norm in 2011

Global mean temperatures this year might not have scaled the record-equaling heights of 2010, but it's been another tumultuous 12 months.

According to the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) provisional status report, issued at the United Nations climate talks in Durban, 2011 was the 10th warmest year on record and warmer than any other year with a La Nina event.

La Nina -- an opposite weather pattern to El Nino which cools surface waters in the eastern and central Pacific -- occurs two to three times a decade on average, says climatologist and scientific coordinator of the WMO statement Blair Trewin.

This most recent one -- which started in the second half of 2010 and continued until May this year -- has been one of the strongest in the past 60 years, says the WMO, and was "closely associated" with many of the regional weather events that have dominated the headlines throughout the year.

January saw floods in northeast Australia -- the worst in Queensland's capital, Brisbane since 1974 -- and deadly landslides caused by a deluge of rain in Brazil.

The appalling disaster in a mountainous region around 60 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro claimed at least 900 lives, according to the WMO, making it the single most deadly weather event of the year. more

Teen suicides rock Pembroke, eastern Ontario city: Canada

Residents of Pembroke, Ont., are devastated and looking for answers after three teenagers committed suicide over the last four months.

Community members, including many parents and students, met Tuesday evening in Pembroke, about 150 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, to discuss how to tackle concerns surrounding teen suicide.

The issue has reached its peak in the city of just under 15,000 people, according to many, and the biggest obstacle is finding treatment once a problem is identified.

Monique Yashinskie’s son Robbie Dean, 18, committed suicide on Aug. 19.

Yashinskie said her son struggled with depression, but she could not find the right help.

"We were looking for help and we couldn't find it, and nobody had answers for us, and it seems sometimes we were just shrugged off," Yashinskie told the CBC’s David Gerow.

The mother even called in mental-health experts from Ottawa's Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to help her son. She called them again to help lead the Tuesday discussion.

Yashinskie said she wanted other parents and community members to be educated about suicide, and the discussion attracted hundreds of interested parents and teens. more

Gorbachev calls for new Russian elections



Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, called Wednesday for new parliamentary elections in Russia over concerns about vote fraud.

"Mikhail Gorbachev is very concerned about how the situation in Russia is developing," spokesman Pavel Palezhchenko told CNN. "People don't believe that the will of the people is reflected in the results."

He confirmed a report by the Russian news agency Interfax, which quoted the former Communist party general secretary as saying the elections were unfair and new elections were needed.

Demonstrators have been protesting against what they describe as electoral fraud in Sunday's national vote, which kept Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party in power but significantly decreased the number of seats it holds in Parliament. more

The rise and fall of the euro

Just one decade after the European single currency was launched amid fanfare and fireworks, its future is now in doubt as the debt crisis that has engulfed Greece, Ireland and Portugal threatens the entire bloc.

As European leaders prepare to meet in Brussels Friday for a summit aimed at hammering out a solution, Olli Rehn, Europe's commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, last week warned there were just 10 days left to solve the crisis.

And unless the politicians reach a consensus, many economists believe there is a serious risk the eurozone crisis could trigger a global slump. Some even go further -- Alain Juppe, ex-French prime minister, told French media last week that the crisis "raises the spectre of a return to violent conflict on our continent."

Many analysts saw it all coming of course, arguing that one fiscal system could never work for 17 countries and more than 330 million people. more