Saturday, December 17, 2011

At least 436 dead after storm pummels Philippines



At least 436 people are dead after Tropical Storm Washi pummeled the Philippines, Red Cross Secretary General Gwen Pang said Saturday.

The vast majority of the bodies were found in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, according to military officials and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Five people were killed in a landslide, but all others died in flash flooding.

The provinces of Compostela Valley and Zamboanga del Norte were also hit, added Benito Ramos, chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

About 400 people remain missing after the storm, which is called Sendong locally. More than 2,000 have been rescued, the country's military reported.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said officials are investigating reports that an entire village was swept away. more

Rapper Slim Dunkin gunned down outside Atlanta recording studio before video shoot - 17th Dec 2011

Slim Dunkin, a rapper who had appeared on a number of songs with Waka Flocka Flame, was gunned down Friday evening in an Atlanta music studio as he was preparing to record a video.

Police say the Detroit native, whose real name is Mario Hamilton, was shot in the chest in after getting into an argument before the shoot.

Investigators said there were at least 20 people at the scene, each one with a different story.

MTV.com reported that the Brick Squad Monopoly rapper was on a solo track and had recently released a 20-track mix tape that featured Gucci Mane, Roscoe Dash and Pastor Troy.

He lived in Atlanta and was in his early 20s, an officer said.

Slim Dunkin was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Read More

Woman contracts first case of rabies in South Carolina in 50 years after likely being bitten by bat in her house - 17th Dec 2011

A middle-aged woman in South Carolina has contracted the state's first case of human rabies in more than 50 years.

Though her name and age have not been released, doctors do not sound optimistic about her condition.

'Tragically, rabies almost always ends in death,' said Dr. Eric Brenner, epidemiologist with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control's Bureau of Disease Control.

'There are only about one to three cases of human rabies each year in this country,' he continued.

Mr Brenner said health officials believe the woman likely was bitten by a bat that entered her home a few months ago. Read More

Iran claims to arrest CIA agent - 17th Dec 2011

Iran's Intelligence Ministry claimed it had arrested an Iranian-American working as a CIA agent, state media reported Saturday.

The alleged spy is a CIA analyst who has served in American military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, state-run Press TV reported, citing a statement from the Intelligence Ministry.

The suspect was "tasked with carrying out a complex intelligence operation and infiltrating the Iranian intelligence apparatus," Press TV reported.

CNN could not independently confirm the report, and there was no immediate response from the United States. From time to time, Iran announces the capture of CIA agents without further detail.

Last month, an Iranian legislator said the Intelligence Ministry had arrested 12 CIA "spies." Source

Sewage not to blame in mass fish death in Buffalo Creek, Australia...it was too much RAIN - 17th Dec 2011

RAW sewage was the first suspect in the hunt for the killer.

But authorities say a sea of dead fish that yesterday scared hook-wielding locals at Buffalo Creek was probably the result of too much rain.

The NT News was alerted to the demise of hundreds of small water dwellers like salmon, white bait and mullet.

Nightcliff resident Peter Clipsy said he was leaving a nearby inlet when he saw the pontoon of death.

"There are masses," he said.

"The place is usually busy with fishermen - today there was nobody."

But NT Amateur Fishermen's Association chief Chris Makepeace said the "fish kill" often came with the first big rains of the Wet when fresh water flushed out oxygen.

"In billabongs there can be thousands of dead fish - big ones like barra.

"Here is sounds like just the smaller fish were affected.

"The storms are stirring up the water - there's heaps of rain coming off banks and depending what's happening in creek it can reduce the oxygen level." Read More

Norovirus outbreaks closes hospital wards at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, England - 17th Dec 2011

An outbreak of the norovirus winter vomiting bug has closed beds and wards at two hospitals.

Officials at Northwick Park in Harrow closed a 82 beds in two wards – a sixth of the beds at the 500-bed hospital – after patients developed the diarrhoea and vomiting illness.

The Richard Wells Ward at Bedford Hospital was also closed to stop the spread of the virus among patients, visitors and staff.

Mark Purcell, of Northwick Park, said 14 patients were confirmed as having norovirus and two more probably had it but were awaiting test results.

One ward is scheduled to reopen tomorrow after beds were deep cleaned. Visiting to the ward has been restricted to one visitor per patient per day.

Eiri Jones, Director of nursing and patient services at Bedford Hospital, said: "It is vital visitors observe the restrictions, as limiting visiting to affected areas really does help to stop the highly contagious norovirus infection spreading. Read More

Libyan scramble for £100bn in assets fractures the peace at Tripoli airport - 17th Dec 2011

Militias and army clash over control of runways after UN decides to fly newly printed currency into the capital.

The unfreezing of £100bn in Libyan assets by the UN this weekend has fired the starting gun for a fierce battle for influence being waged by the country's militias, in which the frontline is set to be Tripoli's international airport.

The glittering prize immediately in prospect is a consignment of several billion dinars, printed in Germany, which is due to be flown into Libya on board five cargo planes. Whoever controls the airport when the cash arrives will be able to levy a hefty security fee for delivering it to the country's central bank. But the fight to control the airport is part of a far wider battle for political and economic dominance in the new Libya; one that pits the various factions who united to overthrow the Gaddafi regime against each other, as well as remnants of the dictator's defeated military.

In theory the decision on Friday by the UN Sanctions Committee and the US to release frozen assets marks, in the words of British foreign secretary William Hague, "another significant moment in Libya's transition". Those sentiments were echoed on Saturday by Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, on a visit to Tripoli. But the reality is considerably more complicated.

Tripoli airport is currently held by the militia from Zintan, a mountain town 90 miles to the south, who captured it on the way to liberating Tripoli in August. But the Libyan national army, controlled by Gaddafi-era generals, is determined to take control, in what is shaping up to be a defining power struggle. Meanwhile, amid the growing tension the ruling National Transitional Council has become a target for mass protests across the country and the object of deep suspicion outside its Benghazi power base. Read More

Merkel strives to mend fences with UK - 17th Dec 2011

As French ministers and central bankers hurl insults across the Channel, Angela Merkel, the German chan­cellor, has been busy trying to rebuild relations with David Cameron after the prime minister’s controversial use of the veto at the European Union summit last week.

For Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, that was the moment Britain parted company with the rest of the EU.

“There are clearly now two Europes,” he told Le Monde. “One that wants more solidarity and regulation between its members, and the other that is attached to the sole logic of the single market.”

That is not how Ms Merkel sees it. She may be irritated that Mr Cameron’s veto prevented her from enshrining eurozone fiscal discipline in an EU treaty change approved by all 27 members, but she does not want the UK drifting further to the margins.

On Friday she tracked down Mr Cameron in his Oxfordshire constituency and spoke to him by phone to talk about the next steps, including how to progress with the new treaty – endorsed by up to 26 EU countries but not Britain. Read More

Ticket inspector is stabbed in the back on a suburban train, East Tilbury station in Essex - 17th Dec 2011

Image: Who are these cowards?

These are the two suspected fare dodgers who police are seeking after a ticket inspector was stabbed in the back on a suburban train.

The 42-year-old inspector had asked two youths, who were running up and down carriages to avoid paying for a ticket, to get off the train at East Tilbury station in Essex.

British Transport Police said an “altercation” followed and the inspector was stabbed.

The incident, on the 20.20 Southend to London train, happened at around 8.50pm on Friday, which left the victim needing stitches. It comes just days after a financial manager dubbed “Big Man” threw a suspected teenage fare dodger off a train in Scotland.

British Transport Police and train operator c2c have condemned Friday’s attack. He was due to be released from Basildon University Hospital last night.

The police have also released a series of CCTV pictures of two men they want to speak to in connection with the incident. Both men are white and aged in their late teens. One was wearing a black hooded top. The second was wearing a grey top and a grey flat cap. Read More

Britons have been urged not to travel to parts of the Philippines ravaged by deadly flash floods which have claimed more than 430 lives - 17th Dec

Britons have been urged not to travel to parts of the Philippines ravaged by deadly flash floods which have claimed more than 430 lives.

Many people were asleep when a tropical storm reached landfall at night and hit southern cities including Iligan and Cagayan de Oro on Mindanao Island.

It brought 12 hours of sustained rainfall, causing landslides, rivers to burst their banks and sending walls of water crashing down mountain slopes into homes.

Before the floods struck the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had already advised Britons against travelling to the region due to terrorist and insurgent activity, and in the wake of the disaster they urged anyone in the area to contact friends and relatives.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said: "The loss of life by flooding in the Philippines is tragic. Read More



People remain afraid of returning to homes near Fukushima plant - 17th Dec 2011

People who were evacuated from their residences near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remain concerned about the huge obstacles to their returning home despite the government's declaration Friday that the nuclear crisis has been brought under control nine months after its outbreak.

Taisuke Hori, 27, who has fled to Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, said, "I don't think we will return." His home is located in a no-entry zone set within a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima plant damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

"I doubt if kids can live safely without concerns no matter how thoroughly the local tracts of land are cleaned up," said Hori, who has children aged 6, 2 and less than one.

Soichi Sampei, 31, who has evacuated to Komoro, Nagano Prefecture and is also from a no-entry zone, angrily questioned how the government could make such a declaration "while radioactive substances remain" in areas around the plant. Read More

Turkish mosque collapse kills 1, injures 9 - 17th Dec 2011

The dome of a mosque under construction collapsed on Saturday, killing one worker and injuring nine others, who were pulled from the rubble by rescuers, an official said.

The dome of the mosque being built at an industrial area in the central Turkish town of Acigol tumbled down during construction, trapping 10 workers under a pile of iron, Mayor Hasan Unver told NTV television.

Nine of the workers were rescued with injuries while the other was pulled out dead, he said.

State-run TRT television showed images of rescuers, some carrying a bright orange stretcher, scrambling to rescue one trapped worker amid a pile of rubble and iron rods.

The images were a mini-replay of a series of televised rescues in October after a pair of powerful earthquakes buried hundreds of people in eastern Turkey.

The cause of Saturday's accident was under investigation. Read More

Homeowners evacuated after large landslide, New Zealand - 17th Dec 2011

A large landslide caused several clifftop homeowners to be evacuated in Oakura this morning.

An estimated 400 cubic metres of dirt came down onto the Taranaki town's holiday camp about 5.30am, following heavy overnight rain.

In the Oakura Beah Holiday Park, three cabins, one of them occupied, and several motor vehicles were dislodged by the slide. Nobody was injured.

New Plymouth District Council contractors were on the scene cleaning up debris and assessing the safety of clifftop homes on Jans Tce this morning.

Homeowners were asked to leave their properties while safety tests were carried out but are now allowed back in their homes.

Fulton Hogan contract manager Wayne Murray said he expected clean up work would take a couple days before any remedial work could be carried out.

Holiday park lessees Al and Jan Rawlinson said there had been torrential rain overnight, the heaviest they could remember in 10 years in the town. Read More

Nine Dead As Cairo Clashes Enter Second Day - 17th Dec 2011

At least nine people have been killed and more than 300 injured as clashes involving anti-military protesters in Cairo entered a second day, Egyptian officials have said.

Hundreds of soldiers swept into Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday chasing demonstrators, beating them with sticks and destroying journalists' cameras.

Troops armed with batons retaliated after protesters threw missiles at security forces in the capital. It followed a police decision to seal off streets around the country’s parliament building.

Soldiers on rooftops pelted the crowds below with stones, prompting many of the protesters to pick up helmets, satellite dishes or sheets of metal to use as shields.

Stones and shattered glass littered the streets in the city centre, while flames were seen at the windows of a two-storey building set ablaze near parliament, sending out thick plumes of black smoke.

Soldiers set fire to tents inside Tahrir Square - which was the focus of the uprising that toppled the former leader Hosni Mubarak - and swept through buildings where television crews were filming from and confiscated their equipment and briefly detained journalists. Read More

Jenny Olenick dies from wisdom tooth surgery, parents sue: Is this operation just a money-grubbing scheme that puts lives at risk?

The parents of a Maryland teen who died earlier this year during wisdom tooth surgery have sued the oral surgeon and the anesthetist for medical malpractice.

Jenny Olenick, a 17-year-old junior at Marriotts Ridge High School in Woodstock, Md., died in April from complications during the outpatient procedure performed on 5 million Americans each year.

"It's so hard," Cathy Garger, Olenick's mother, told ABCNews.com. "She was the only one we had."

The civil suit, filed in Howard Country Circuit Court, claims the oral surgeon, Dr. Domenick Coletti, and the anesthiologist, Dr. Krista Michelle Isaacs, were negligent and failed to resuscitate Olenick after her heart rate and blood oxygen level dropped.

Garger and Olenick's father, John, declined to comment on the pending case, but a spokeswoman for the family said they hope to highlight the surgery's risks and the need for better emergency training among dentists and oral surgeons. Read More

China trims holdings of US Treasury debt

China bought less U.S. Treasury debt in October and total foreign holdings dipped for the first time since July.

Total foreign holdings of Treasury debt edged down 0.1 percent to $4.66 trillion, the Treasury Department reported Thursday.

China, the largest foreign holder, bought 1.2 percent less to bring its total holdings to $1.13 trillion. China had increased its holdings 1 percent in September after a reduction of 3.1 percent in August.

The small decline in overall holdings still left them at high levels that suggest foreign demand for U.S. debt remains strong. That strength comes despite a prolonged debate this summer over increasing the nation's borrowing limit. Investors don't appear to be concerned that Standard & Poor's downgraded the credit rating on long-term U.S. debt in August. Read More