Friday, January 13, 2012

Major Rescue After Cruise Ship 'Runs Aground' in Italy

A major rescue operation is under way after a luxury cruise ship carrying 4,200 passengers and crew is said to have run aground off the coast of Italy.

The Costa Concordia had left the port of Savona at 7pm at the start of a seven-day cruise of the Mediterranean and was sailing to Civitavecchia, its first port of call, when disaster struck.

After just two hours, the ship ground to a halt near the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast.

A harbour master said it looked like it ''ran aground'', but Costa Cruises, which owns the liner, said it was ''too early to say what caused the incident".

Coastguards were immediately dispatched to the scene as passengers were ordered to put on life vests and man life boats as the ship began to list heavily to one side.

There were reports of people having jumped into the water but no injuries were reported.

Passenger Luciano Castro told Italian media: ''We were having dinner when all of a sudden the lights went out. It seemed as if the ship struck something and then we heard a load bang and everything fell to the floor.

''The captain immediately came on the tanoy and said that there had been an electrical fault but it seemed very strange as the ship almost immediately began to list to one side. The glasses just slid off the table.

''We were then told to put on our life vests and head to the life boats just to be safe but there was a real panic onboard you could see it in the faces of the people especially those with young families.

''Then a few minutes later there were seven whistles which meant everyone had to get in the lifeboats.'' more

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND - 13th Jan 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck South of the Kermadec Islands, New Zealand at a depth of 31.1 km (19.3 miles), the quake hit at 20:25:28 UTC Friday 13th January 2012
The epicenter was 424 km (264 miles) South from Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands - 717 km (444 miles) Northeast of Tauranga, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SIMEULUE, INDONESIA - 13th Jan 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Simeulue, Indonesia at a depth of 46.9 km (29.1 miles), the quake hit at 20:03:47 UTC Friday 13th January 2012
The epicenter was 285 km (177 miles) WNW of Sibolga, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Friday 13th Nightmare For The Eurozone

You can say a lot of things about Standard & Poor's, but the one thing you cannot question is their sense of timing.

Last month, they could have chosen almost any day to warn that they were placing the entire eurozone on watch for a possible downgrade; but they elected to make the announcement just hours after Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel used an emergency summit to promise to safeguard the euro.

And now they have chosen Friday the 13th to confirm that the majority of those 15 nations put on negative watch have now been downgraded.

And, as if to twist the knife, it also emerged on Friday that talks between Athens and private sector investors aimed at voluntarily reducing the total amount of Greek debt had fallen through.

And, to top it all off, clearing house LCH Clearnet raised its margin requirement for those using it to buy Italian debt from 8.15% to 8.3%. Read More

France, Austria and Italy have all had their credit ratings downgraded by ratings agency Standard & Poor's.



France, Austria and Italy have all had their credit ratings downgraded by ratings agency Standard & Poor's.

France and Austria now both hold AA+ ratings, while Italy, which formerly held a BBB+ rating, now finds itself on BBB.

More countries are expected to be downgraded in the next few hours.

Speaking on France 2 television, Francois Baroin said his country's notification was a "half-surprise".

"It is not good news," he said, but insisted the country was taking the right direction.

"The markets had perhaps anticipated the move, which is why their reaction was moderated this afternoon."

The euro fell to a 17-month low on the currency markets amid early reports of the news - the latest in the eurozone crisis - and stock markets across the world also declined.

It is understood the agency will confirm the announcement after markets close in the US. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION, CANADA - 13th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Queen Charlotte Islands Region at a depth of 15 km (9.3 miles), the quake hit at 16:46:09 UTC Friday 13th January 2012
The epicenter was 210 km (131 miles) WNW of Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Turrialba Volcano Eruption, Alert YELLOW, Costa Rica

The emanation of a gray cloud, possibly containing ash, at the Turrialba Volcano was confirmed Thursday afternoon by the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de CostaRica (OVSICORI), that resulting in the closure of the park.

The eruption of smoke was confirmed at 3pm Thursday, preceded by rumblings that were detected by locals and confirmed by the OSVICORI.

Almost immediately the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) - national Emergency Commission - issued a "yellow" alert for the area as a preventive measure.

The alert takes in the areas of Turrialba, Jiménez and Alvarado. For the areas Oreamuno and Cartago, the alert is at "green", according to Vanessa Rosales, president of the CNE.

Experts will be meeting today to discuss the risk and review technical reports to determine possible preventive measures. Source

20 wounded in Iraq double bombing

At least 20 people were wounded, some critically, in a double bombing Friday in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, police said.

The two car bombs targeted the homes of police officers in different parts of the city and detonated within half an hour of each other, said Gen. Torhan Abdulrahman, the deputy police chief in Kirkuk.

One targeted an officer's home in the center of the city, close to the governorate building. The other was in the northern part of Kirkuk.

Most of the wounded were civilian bystanders, Abdulrahman said. The explosions also caused severe damage to nearby buildings.

Kirkuk is an ethnically mixed oil-rich city about 150 miles (240 km) north of Baghdad. Source

U.S. general warns troops to treat dead with 'dignity and respect'



The deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan ordered troops Friday to treat the corpses of slain insurgents and civilians with "appropriate dignity and respect."

The order follows a video that appears to show four U.S. Marines urinating on bodies, images that sparked swift condemnation from the United States and Afghanistan at a particularly crucial period in the U.S.-led war.

"We must treat the living and the dead with dignity and respect," Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said in the directive, which was published Friday on the website of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan. He said troops must follow the rules of armed conflict and "act honorably at all times."

"In order to prevail, for the good of the coalition nations and the Afghan people, we can do no less."

The video surfaced as the United States and the Taliban have taken tentative steps toward peace negotiations and as the U.S. and its allies plan to withdraw troops by the end of 2014. Read More

Joran Van der Sloot Jailed for 28 years for Peru murder


Peruvian judges on Friday sentenced Dutch national Joran van der Sloot to 28 years in prison and ordered him to pay thousands of dollars in reparations for the killing of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman in 2010.

Van der Sloot, who was visibly upset after the decision was issued, admitted this week to killing Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room. The judges said they took his confession into account, but they still gave him a sentence two years short of the 30-year maximum.

With time served, it means van der Sloot is scheduled to be released June 10, 2038.

The defendant, 24, stood for much of the more than two-hour session and perspired through his green t-shirt. He drank three cups of water and frequently wiped his face.

The judges ordered van der Sloot expelled from Peru at the end of his sentence and ordered him to pay 200,000 Peruvian new soles, or about $74,500, in reparations to Flores' closest relatives. Read More

Iran denies shipping weapons to Syria through Turkey



Iran's embassy in Turkey has issued a formal statement denying reports Tehran was shipping weapons through Turkey to Syria.

"We deny such claims and we would like to state that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees people's demands to be paid attention to as a way of providing domestic security and stability and believes that dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition is the way out from the current situation," the Iranian embassy announced in a written statement obtained Friday by CNN.

The statement came after Turkish officials said they stopped four trucks that arrived from Iran at the Turkish border with Syria because they were suspected of carrying military cargo.

The spokesman for Turkey's Foreign Ministry told CNN customs officials were currently investigating the trucks. Read More

Peter Rowell a Former BBC Radion Presenter admits12 counts of indecent assault, six counts of making indecent images and one count of possessing them

A BBC radio presenter has admitted a string of sex attacks against five underage girls, a court heard today.

Father-of-one Peter Rowell, 53, admitted 12 counts of indecent assault, six counts of making indecent images and one count of possessing them.

The sexual assaults - all on girls under the age of 16 - took place between 1989 and the early 1990s.

Rowell, who presented BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Somerset shows until his arrest last year, denied one charge of rape against a girl aged under 16.

Prosecutors accepted the not guilty rape plea as Rowell had admitted a linked sexual assault on the same victim.

The presenter, dressed in a dark grey suit, blue shirt and blue tie, stared ahead and clearly answered 'guilty' as 19 counts against him were read at Bristol Crown Court.

He admitted possessing 464 indecent photographs on January 22 last year and making images - including a movie - on January 19 2009.

The images are classed across categories one, the lowest level, to four, the second most severe. Read More

Massacre in the hive: Amazing footage of 30 giant Japanese hornets slaughtering 30,000 tiny honeybees to eat their young

Tens of thousands are dead, hundreds more of the dying lie writhing on the battlefield, powerless to protect their children.

These horrifying and yet fascinating scenes are the highlights of a three-hour battle between just 30 giant Japanese hornets and 30,000 European honeybees.

The video, from a National Geographic documentary called Hornets From Hell, shows a full-scale attack on the honeybees' comb in order that the hornets can get at their larvae. Read More

Julie Jones: Single mum adopts best friend's FIVE children after they lose both parents in 6 months

Julie Jones describes the day her best friend died as 'the worst day of my life'.

But she didn't have time to grieve.

The single mum-of-three had agreed to adopt Caroline Atkin's three boys and two girls who had been orphaned by the loss of both their parents within six months of each other.

Caroline was given 12 months to live when she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in April 2009.
Tragically, her husband, David, 44, died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage just nine months later in January 2010.

When an increasingly ill Caroline, 45, was left worrying about what would happen to her children when she too passed away, she asked Julie if she would care for her children - an agreement they dubbed their 'Plan B'.

Caroline passed away a few months later in June, and Julie kept to her word and took all five children into her home - putting the three boys in a tent in the garden until she could get her house re-organised and turning her dining room into an extra bedroom. more

Global markets plunge as ratings agency prepares to downgrade eurozone countries and Greece teeters on edge of bankruptcy

Fears are rising that the credit ratings of several eurozone countries could soon be downgraded - prompting global markets to fall and the euro falling to a 16-month low.

Analysts today said that ratings agency Standards & Poor was finally going to deliver the downgrades it had threatened for much of the 17-nation eurozone just over a month ago.

It comes because of concerns of Europe's inability to get a grip on a debt crisis that has raged for around two years.

And it is on the same day that Greece was revealed to once again be teetering on the edge of a catastrophic bankruptcy - as negotiations on a bond swap to slash its public debt by 100 billion euros stalled. Read More

Marcin Kasprzak Jailed for 20 Years for attempted Murder when He Buried his Fiancee Alive



A man who buried his fiancee alive in a cardboard box has been given a 20-year prison sentence for attempted murder.

Marcin Kasprzak used a taser on 27-year-old Michelina Lewandowska before binding and gagging her with tape and burying her in woodland near their home in Huddersfield.

The judge sentencing him, Recorder Peter Collier QC said: "The death you intended would have been long and slow.

"It is mind numbingly awful to imagine the sort of death you intended her to die." Read More

Richard O'Dwyer Can Be Extradited To The US



A British student accused of breaching US copyrigh
t could face trial in the US after a judge ruled that he can be extradited.

A judge at Westminster Magistrates Court agreed with US prosecutors that 23-year-old Richard O'Dwyer should face trial in America rather than in the UK.

The Sheffield Hallam University undergraduate has been fighting extradition since he was arrested for setting up a website which allowed people access to films and TV shows for free.

He immediately announced he would appeal the latest ruling in the High Court.

Speaking outside court, Mr O'Dwyer said: "I'm obviously disappointed with the judge's decision today. I think I've got faith in the High Court in making the right decision." Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND - 13th Jan 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck South of the Kermadec Islands, New Zealand at a depth of 25 km (15.5 miles), the quake hit at 17:49:13 UTC Friday 13th January 2012
The epicenter was 132 km (82 miles) SSE of L'Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands - 777 km Northeast of Auckland, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 13th Jan 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the South Sandwich Islands Region at a depth of 54.2 km (33.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:02:28 UTC Friday 13th January 2012
The epicenter was 176 km (109 miles) South of Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.