Friday, December 30, 2011

Jim Morrison's home goes up in flames as Hollywood burns after arsonist starts NINETEEN blazes in five hours

An arsonist struck across Hollywood this morning, torching vehicles and setting homes ablaze in 19 separate fires over a four-hour period.

Firemen in Los Angeles, California, were scrambling to put out the fires that lit up parked cars and then spread to nearby homes and flats.

Dozens of Hollywood residents were forced out of their homes and power was disrupted in several neighbourhoods shortly after midnight.

‘It was a long, tough night,’ a Los Angeles County fire spokesman said, adding that the department does not yet have any suspect description.

One of the blazes happened at the former home of late Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, who died in Paris in 1971 aged just 27. Read More

Seventeen dead as Syrians stage mass protests

Syrian security forces opened fire at protesters on Friday, killing at least 12, as hundreds of thousands filled the streets of restive cities to demonstrate against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, opposition activists said.

Five members of the security forces were also killed in a shooting in the city of Homs, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Assad, 46, has signed up to an Arab League plan for a verifiable withdrawal of his heavy weaponry and army from cities, where more than 5,000 people have been killed since March - many shot during peaceful anti-government protests but also many killed in rebel attacks and local defense actions.

But the presence of Arab League monitors in hotspots across Syria since Monday has, if anything, energized the protesters. Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU REGION - 30th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Vanuatu Region at a depth of 26.2 km (16.3 miles), the quake hit at 18:49:59 UTC Friday 30th December 2011.
The epicenter was 165 km (103 miles) West from Isangel, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Stratfor hackers publish email, password data - 30th Dec 2011

Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous group published hundreds of thousands of email addresses they claimed belong to subscribers of private intelligence analysis firm Strategic Forecasting Inc.

The list, published late on Thursday, includes email addresses appearing to belong to people working for large corporations, the U.S. military and major defense contractors - information that hackers could potentially use to target them with virus-tainted emails in an approach known as "spear phishing."

The Antisec faction of Anonymous last weekend disclosed that it had hacked into the firm, which is widely known as Stratfor and is also dubbed a "shadow CIA" because it gathers open-source intelligence on international crises.

The hackers had promised to cause "mayhem" by releasing stolen data from the private group.

Stratfor issued a statement confirming that the published email addresses had been stolen from the company's database, saying it was helping law enforcement probe the matter and conducting its own investigation. Read More

Spain sets out painful spending cuts

Spain's new government announced a series of spending cuts Friday intended to bring down the country's soaring deficit amid concerns over the European debt crisis.

The conservative Popular Party, which was only sworn in last week, has said it will set out its full budget by March 2012 but urgent action is needed to reduce borrowing.

Among the austerity measures ahead are a continued freeze on public sector salaries and hiring, as well as a freeze, for the first time, on the minimum wage, said Budget and Public Administration Minister Cristobal Montoro Romero after a Cabinet meeting Friday.

The only public spending increase next year will be on pensions, which will rise by about 1%, he said. Pension payments were frozen under the Socialists, who led the previous government, amid much public outcry.

Welfare payments for the unemployed will be maintained, Montoro said, while those earning the most will face higher taxes. Read More

Mirror.co.uk Freak foam storm swamps seaside resort of Cleveleys

Oxford Street stabbing prompts south London police raids



Met police arrest 13 after raids on addresses following Boxing Day killing of Seydou Diarrassouba.

Thirteen people have been arrested across south London amid "rising tensions" after the Oxford Street stabbing of 18-year-old Seydou Diarrassouba on Boxing Day.

In co-ordinated raids, Metropolitan police detectives targeted addresses in Merton, Wandsworth, Southwark and Westminster after monitoring social networking sites after the death during a confrontation in a Foot Locker store.

Diarrassouba, from Mitcham, whose street name was "Nutz", died from a single stab wound to the heart after collapsing on the street near Bond Street underground station in front of horrified shoppers at 1.45pm. Police are investigating whether the incident was gang-related.

Several weapons, including a 7.5cm lock knife, were recovered nearby. Eleven people, aged between 16 and 22, were arrested at the scene and later bailed pending further investigations.

Scotland Yard said the 13 people arrested during Friday's raids were for offences including grievous bodily harm, robbery, affray, intent to supply drugs, burglary, forgery and handling stolen goods. A large amount of cash was also seized. Those arrested remain in custody at various London police stations. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE KERMADEC ISLANDS - 30th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck South of the Kermadec Islands at a depth of just 1 km (0.6 miles - poorly constrained ), the quake hit at 17:29:51 UTC Friday 30th December 2011.
The epicenter was 129 km (80 miles) SSE of L'Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 30th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Izu Islands, Japan Region at a depth of 397.9 km (247.3 miles), the quake hit at 17:07:21 UTC Friday 30th December 2011.
The epicenter was 287 km (178 miles) SSW from Hachijo-jima, Izu Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

China unveils ambitious plan for space exploration: China's first space laboratory module left for Space in September 2011

China plans to put laboratories in space, collect samples from the moon and prepare to build space stations over the next five years, according to an ambitious plan released this week aimed at putting the country on the global map for space exploration.

China also plans to launch manned-vessels and freighters into space during the coming half-decade, according to a government white paper. The country's eventual goal in the longer term is a manned lunar landing.

"With economic progress, also comes the need for scientific development and exploration," said Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Sciences at Beijing University. "By investing in space exploration, China wants to contribute and be a major player in the world on more than one level."

The Chinese plans announced this week come as the United States has been scaling back its ambitions and funding for space exploration.

Since 2003, China has made major breakthroughs in its space program, including becoming the third country after Russia and the United States to put a human in space. It successfully completed a spacewalk in 2008.

In November, the successful automated docking and return of an unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou-8, paved the way for the creation of China's future space laboratory. The spaceship blasted off from a launch facility in the Gobi Desert in northwest China, one month after the first space laboratory module Tiangong-1 was launched into space. Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 30th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the South Sandwich Islands Region at a depth of 106.2 km (66 miles), the quake hit at 16:34:34 UTC Friday 30th December 2011.
The epicenter was 55 km (34 miles) North of Visokoi Island, South Sandwich Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO - 30th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck Baja California, Mexico at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:34:29 UTC Friday 30th December 2011.
The epicenter was 23 km (14 miles) Southwest of Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Satellite Photo Shows New Island Rising from Earth's Red Sea

The Red Sea has a new inhabitant: a smoking island.

The island was created by a wild eruption that occurred in the Red Sea earlier this month. It is made of loose volcanic debris from the eruption, so it may not stick around long.

According to news reports, fishermen witnessed lava fountains reaching up to 30 metres tall on Dec. 19, which is probably the day the eruption began, said Erik Klemetti, a volcanologist at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Ash plumes were seen emanating from the spot Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite detected elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, further indicating an eruption.

By Dec. 23, what looked like a new island had appeared in the Red Sea off the west coast of Yemen.

"I am surprised about how quickly the island has grown," Klemetti, who writes Wired's Eruptions Blog, told OurAmazingPlanet.

The volcanic activity occurred along the Zubair Group, a collection of small islands that run in a roughly northwest-southeast line. The islands rise from a shield volcano (a kind of volcano built from fluid lava flows) and poke above the sea surface.

Scientists will keep a close eye on the new island to see if it has staying power. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake GUAM REGION - 30th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Guam Region at a depth of 19.1 km (11.9 miles), the quake hit at 13:17:58 UTC Friday 30th December 2011.
The epicenter was 149 km (92 miles) Southwest from Hagatna, Guam
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Stuxnet weapon has at least 4 cousins: researchers

The Stuxnet virus that last year damaged Iran's nuclear program was likely one of at least five cyber weapons developed on a single platform whose roots trace back to 2007, according to new research from Russian computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Security experts widely believe that the United States and Israel were behind Stuxnet, though the two nations have officially declined to comment on the matter.

A Pentagon spokesman on Wednesday declined comment on Kaspersky's research, which did not address who was behind Stuxnet.

Stuxnet has already been linked to another virus, the Duqu data-stealing trojan, but Kaspersky's research suggests the cyber weapons program that targeted Iran may be far more sophisticated than previously known. Read More

Economists estimate a '30% to 40% chance of a break-up of the euro in 2012'

A majority of economists put the possibility of a eurozone break-up at 30-40 per cent in 2012, according to the results of a BBC poll - and 20 per cent even state the eurozone will not exist in its current 17-member form next year.

Nearly all of those polled predicted that Europe would return to recession in the new year as the continent struggles to get to grips with its debt crisis.

Most economists surveyed also expect UK interest rates to remain at historic lows of 0.5 per cent throughout 2012 – the same level it has been since March 2009.

The poll questioned 34 UK and European economists who advise the Bank of England on a regular basis, and of the 27 who responded, 25 predicted recession for Europe next year - a damning verdict by the experts on the future of European economy. Read More