Thursday, January 19, 2012

European Commission Takes Hungary to Court

"No More Belt-tightening!", Greeks Protest Austerity Cuts

Admitting Cocoa Slavery Exists

Shopkeeper in England upsets jobseekers by demanding Polish language skills

Shopkeeper Naveed Hassamin has infuriated jobseekers in Cornwall by turning away anyone who doesn't speak Polish.

Mr Hassamin placed an advert in the window of Costcutter in Bodmin, Cornwall, stating that a "knowledge of Polish" was "preferable" for the position.

But he has been forced to withdraw the advertisment after a string of complaints from unemployed local people desperate for work.

Paul Baynon, 23, a jobseeker from Bodmin, said: "They asked me if I spoke Polish, and when I said no, they said that is what they were looking for, so I didn't have a chance.

"They didn't say in the ad that they wanted a translator."

Unemployed local Robert Mill, 27, said: "I would have liked the job at Costcutter because jobs are hard to come by in the town.

"I enquired about the position but I can't speak Polish."

The supermarket has a Polish food section and sells the Poland Express newspaper.

Store manager Mr Hassam said he had a lot of Polish customers and required someone who could order the products for him.

The number of Polish migrant workers living in Bodmin - population 13,000 - is not known. Read More

Hungary faces ruin as EU loses patience

The European Commission has launched legal action against Hungary's Fidesz government for violations of European Union treaty law and erosion of democracy, marking a dramatic escalation in the war of words with the EU's enfant terrible.

Hungary's defiant premier Viktor Orbán has no hope of securing vital funding from the EU and the International Monetary Fund until the dispute is resolved, leaving him a stark choice of either bowing to EU demands or letting his country slide into bankruptcy.

Yields on Hungary's two-year debt jumped to 9.17pc on Tuesday, an unsustainable level for an economy in recession with public debt of near 80pc of GDP. Hungary's debt was cut to junk status by rating agencies last week.

Capital Economics said Hungary must repay €5.9bn (£4.9bn) in EU-IMF loans and raise external funds equal to 18pc of GDP this year, the highest in Eastern Europe. Two-thirds of household debt is in Swiss francs, leading to a lethal currency mismatch as capital flight weakens the forint.

"Hungary is playing with fire," said Lars Christensen from Danske Bank. "The EU is not bluffing. Read More

Ofsted: one million children stuck in coasting schools

As many as one million children are being allowed to languish in coasting schools for at least six years, Ofsted warned today. Pupils across England are being failed after spending their entire primary or secondary education in schools rated no better than “satisfactory”, it was claimed.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, said the standard of education in these schools was not good enough and a “massive shift in attitude” was needed to accelerate progress.

The comments were made as Ofsted outlined new plans to crack down on schools given the lowest rankings.

Schools can currently be judged as outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate following visits by Government inspectors.

But under new plans, the "satisfactory" rating will be replaced by "requires improvement" to mark out concerns over sustained weaknesses. Read More

Obama sunders the constitution, and Congress lets him do it

Chinese village chief arrested for burning down government buildings in protest of corrupt officials

500-million Chinese Using the Internet: How long before rebellion spreads?

Petitioners Rescued from Beijing Black Jail

Chinese Dissident Charged for Writing "Subversive" Poem

World Bank Warns Developing Countries of Further Economic Slowdown

Stop rewarding celebrities, and start rewarding those who matter!

Central America's bloody drug problem



San Pedro Sula, Honduras (CNN) -- Flanked by police officers with assault rifles, and riding down a highway in the back of a police pickup, police commissioner Julian Hernandez explains the difficult task of fighting crime.

"The United Nations recommends that a city of this size have 4,000 officers," he says. "But I only have 1,000."

Overrun by drug violence, San Pedro Sula is the second-largest and most violent city in Honduras -- a country that's the current murder capital of the world.

At the end of the first day of shooting for CNN's "Narco Wars" report, we had arranged to meet the commissioner, expecting a quick interview. Instead, Hernandez jumped into the back of the police truck, taking correspondent Kaj Larsen and the rest of the CNN team onto the streets of San Pedro Sula, a manufacturing city with relatively good infrastructure. Read More

Rancid baby food from President's Choice recalled

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning people that some President's Choice Organics baby food may be rancid.

Loblaws, which distributes the PC infant cereal products through its national grocery store chain, has recalled some of the baby food.

The products were made with mixed grains, oat, rice and wheat, and were sold across the country.

Consumers should check the cereal for a rancid smell, CFIA is advising.

If the cereal smells off or has an unusual odour, you should stop using it.

If your baby has already eaten any of these products, watch for nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Go to a doctor if you have concerns. Read More

Britain spied on Russia with 'fake rock'

Russia knew about it 'for some time,' ex-government official says.

Electronic equipment hidden inside a fake rock in a Moscow park helped the United Kingdom spy on Russia, according to a former official with the British government.

Tony Blair's ex-chief of staff Jonathan Powell has acknowledged that Russia's accusations against Britain over the 2006 affair were correct, the first official acknowledgment of the espionage plot that soured ties between London and the Kremlin.

At the time, Russian state television broadcast footage which appeared to show four British officials placing or retrieving the fake rock, and exposed the sophisticated communications equipment inside the plastic boulder.

Blair — then the British prime minister — declined to comment on the issue and Britain's government has never confirmed the Russian allegations, citing a long standing policy not to discuss intelligence issues. Read More

Neil Macdonald: Is the Tea Party losing its oomph?

South Carolina Tea Partiers don't much like Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts moderate, but they seem willing to vote for him.

If 300-plus black political activists held a convention in the Deep South, and the invited speakers were black, it would inevitably, and correctly, be referred to as a black political event.

So I'm going to call the Tea Party convention I just covered in Myrtle Beach, S.C., what it was: a white political event.

The attendees were friendly, polite and deeply committed to the cause of imposing a no-compromise conservative agenda on the U.S. government and the Republican party in particular.

But, in a state that's 30 per cent black, there wasn't a single black face at the event. Or any young faces that I could see.

That sort of homogeneity at least partly explains why the Tea Party is running out of steam in this heterogeneous nation. Read More

U.S. ambassador: Political situation in China “very, very delicate”— Government "Unstable"

The Chinese people are increasingly frustrated with the Chinese Communist Party and the political situation in China is "very, very delicate," U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said on Wednesday.

"I do believe that there is a power of the people, and there is a growing frustration among the people over the operations of government, corruption, lack of transparency, and issues that affect the Chinese people on a daily basis that they feel are being neglected," Locke told NPR's Steve Inskeep during a Wednesday interview, part of a media blitz Locke is conducting during his visit to Washington.

"Do you think that the situation is fundamentally stable in China right now?" Inskeep asked Locke.

"I think, very delicate -- very, very delicate," Locke responded. "But there were calls earlier this year for a Jasmine Revolution and nothing came of it. I think it would take something very significant, internal to China, to cause any type of major upheaval." Read More

Saudi Arabia being watched by US Intelligence after conducting nuclear deal with China

China fired a ground-based anti-satellite missile into space in January 2007, destroying a weather satellite and causing tens of thousands of pieces of debris to threaten orbiting spacecraft. A U.S. and Russian satellite collision in 2009 also has been mentioned as a reason for seeking space operations guidelines.

SAUDI NUCLEAR WATCH

U.S. intelligence agencies are closely watching Saudi Arabia for signs that the oil-rich kingdom will seek to develop nuclear weapons, amid tensions in the region centered on Iran’s nuclear program.

One key warning sign was the cooperation agreement signed Sunday in Riyadh by China and Saudi Arabia. Read More

Iran Threatens U.S., Persian Gulf Cities with Missile Attacks

Iran might pound Persian Gulf cities with ballistic missiles and use swift boats to attack American war ships in an attempt to dissuade a U.S. attack on its nuclear arms sites, a new report states.

Tehran likely would employ a mixed game plan against the U.S. military consisting of "advanced technology" and "guerilla tactics," according to a research organization with close ties to the Pentagon.

Before that, Iran would first lean hard on weaker Middle Eastern nations to convince those states to deny Washington access to bases on their soil, it states.

Some of the report's grimmer scenarios predict Iranian ballistic missile launches on Gulf cities in an attempt to convince other nations to resist providing support to an American military operation. Read More

The Slow Death of 'Asian Values'

Why the latest news from Malaysia helps to undermine authoritarianism throughout the region.

Something remarkable is happening in Malaysia, and the rest of the world should take note.

Malaysia, you ask? Really? It's only 28 million people, and it's just one part of Southeast Asia, a region fragmented into a variety of cultures and systems -- and largely off the radar of people in the West, except when it comes to planning honeymoons on the beach. So why should non-Malaysians care?

Last week, a Malaysian court acquitted Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the country's main opposition movement, of sodomy charges. (Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia.) Anwar's supporters have long maintained that the case against him was actually political, cooked up by the government to prevent him from mounting a credible challenge to the system that has ruled the country for decades. Anwar was arrested on similar charges back in 1998 and spent six years in jail before a court finally overturned his conviction. Many understandably expected the same thing to happen again this time around.

But it didn't. To general astonishment, the court dismissed the accusations, saying that the DNA evidence cited by prosecutors didn't hold up to scrutiny. The judges, it seemed, had actually assessed the case on its own value. And with that ruling, Anwar can now continue his campaign against the government, one that is likely to culminate in a general election within the next year or so. Read More

Saddam Statue Buttock: Man Arrested in UK on suspicion of breaching the 2003 Iraqi Sanctions Order

A 66-year-old man has been arrested over claims a buttock from a Saddam Hussein statue was illegally brought back to the UK after the Iraq War.

Detectives from Derbyshire Police said the man was detained on suspicion of breaching the 2003 Iraqi Sanctions Order.

The order governs the importation of "Iraqi cultural property" - including items of archaeological, historical or religious importance.

The buttock - a 2ft lump of bronze - was saved from being melted down as scrap metal by 52-year-old former SAS soldier Nigel 'Spud' Ely after he witnessed Saddam's statue being toppled by US Marines in Baghdad in 2003.

It is understood that the arrested man is connected to Derby-based war art relic company Trebletap, which is attempting to find a buyer for the souvenir on behalf of Mr Ely.

As well as expressing shock at the arrest, Mr Ely described the Iraqi authorities' claim to be rightful owners of the bronze as "like the Elgin Marbles with attitude".

The London-born veteran, who lives in Herefordshire, recovered the memento of Saddam's downfall while working alongside a TV crew in April 2003 and unsuccessfully tried to auction it off in aid of injured troops last year. Read More

Sarah Burke Olympic Ski Hope Dies After Training Crash

Canadian skier Sarah Burke has died from injuries she suffered in a crash during training earlier this month, a family spokesman has said.

The Canadian had remained in a critical condition after suffering a serious head injury in Park City, Utah.

Reports said she landed on her feet after a trick, but then "bounced onto her head".

Following the accident, the 29-year-old had to be airlifted to hospital in nearby Salt Lake City.
Burke, described as a pioneer of her sport, was preparing for this month's Winter X Games when she crashed during a run on the resort's eagle superpipe.

She was a four-time ski superpipe champion at the Winter X Games and was preparing to defend her 2010 and 2011 titles.

Burke had been tipped to take gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics, being held in the Russian city of Sochi, after she was instrumental in getting the event included in the Games for the first time. Read More

Costa Concordia: New Recording Reveals Crew Initially refused offers of Help


Dramatic new pictures have emerged of the panicked, final moments of the Costa Concordia as a damning new audio recording reveals the crew initially refused offers of help.

A taped ship-to-shore call, which took place 30 minutes after the liner hit a rock, reveals how senior officers on board were slow to act and intially denied there was anything seriously wrong.

The crew member was recorded telling the coastguard that the ship had suffered a power outage and said there was no emergency on board.

The conversation began at 10.12pm local time.

By then, many of the 4,200 passengers and crew had called relatives on their mobile phones asking them to alert the police, who in turn asked the coastguard to check on the state of the ship.

When asked by the coastguard if there are problems on board, the crew member replies: "We've had a blackout, we are checking the conditions on board." Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake KAMCHATKA PENINSULA, RUSSIA - 20th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia at a depth of 258.8 km (160.8 miles), the quake hit at 01:37:30 UTC Friday 20th January 2012
The epicenter was 162 km (100 miles) NNW of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 20th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 624.6 km (388.1 miles), the quake hit at 00:42:01 UTC Friday 20th January 2012
The epicenter was 246 km (152 miles) Southeast of Lambasa, Vanua Levu, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA REGION - 19th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Tonga Region at a depth of 30.1 km (18.7 miles), the quake hit at 23:35:37 UTC Thursday 19th January 2012
The epicenter was 174 km (108 miles) ENE of Neiafu, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Nigeria police have 24 hours to find terror suspect Kabiru Sokoto who masterminded Christmas bombings



The head of Nigeria's police has been given 24 hours to produce a terror attack suspect who escaped police custody under suspicious circumstances, a government minister said Thursday.

Minister of Police Affairs Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade said he and Police Inspector General Hafiz Ringim had been summoned to see President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday over the escape.

The fugitive, identified by police as Kabiru Sokoto, is suspected to be the mastermind of a series of deadly church bombings on Christmas Day.

The bombings were claimed by Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group frequently blamed for sectarian violence in Nigeria.

A 50 million naira ($307,000) reward was offered by police Thursday for any information leading to Sokoto's capture and a photograph of him in custody has been distributed to all police stations in the country. more