Friday, February 3, 2012

Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake - TAIWAN REGION

Violence rages in Syria: "Opposition" reports 200 dead, including women in children -- but is it the truth?

The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet Saturday and will likely vote on a draft resolution intended to pressure Syria to end its months-long crackdown on anti-government demonstrators, diplomats said, as violence rages on the ground.

The meeting is expected to start at 10 a.m. ET.

"Plan is to vote on Syria resolution," the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations wrote on Twitter. The German Mission, also on Twitter, said the meeting was called "with a view to vote on the draft resolution."

Meanwhile, more than 200 people, including women and children, have been killed in Homs, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said early Saturday. Of the 217 killed, 138 were in the neighborhood of Khaldiya, it reported.

"A massacre happened in Homs today," said Abu Abdo Alhomsy, a resident. "There are so many people on the streets that are wounded and they need help, but we can't reach them to help them."

He described "continuous bombing" and said that snipers were set up to stop people from moving.

"They're ready to kills us all. They have no problem with doing that. Please, we call (on) the international community for help," Alhomsy told CNN. more

Note: What's going on in Syria is eerily similar to what went on in Libya shortly before the invasion began. We're now seeing mysterious opposition groups and "rebels", armed with heavy weapons that materialized seemingly out of thin air, accusing the government of atrocities while the UN wags a finger. Yet, when reporters on the ground interview citizens, they say it's the opposition they're most afraid of, and it's the opposition actually doing the killing. What's really going on in Syria?

Bears kept in tiny cages by Chinese for their bile 'commit suicide' with hunger strikes to escape barbaric torture

Bears kept in tiny cages by the Chinese who harvest their bile have been witnessed starving themselves to death to escape the misery of their captivity.

An estimated 12,000 bears are kept in captivity in China and Vietnam for their bile, a digestive juice stored in the gall bladder, which is prized in traditional Chinese medicine.

The bears are often penned in 'crush cages', measuring about 2ft 6ins by 4ft 2ins, forcing them to lie permanently on their backs and making it easier for the 'farmer' to draw the bile through a tube inserted into the bear's stomach.

Bears kept in tiny cages by the Chinese who harvest their bile have been witnessed starving themselves to death to escape the misery of their captivity.

An estimated 12,000 bears are kept in captivity in China and Vietnam for their bile, a digestive juice stored in the gall bladder, which is prized in traditional Chinese medicine.

The bears are often penned in 'crush cages', measuring about 2ft 6ins by 4ft 2ins, forcing them to lie permanently on their backs and making it easier for the 'farmer' to draw the bile through a tube inserted into the bear's stomach. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 49.9 km (31 miles), the quake hit at 18:18:06 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 366 km (228 miles) ESE of Attu Station, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Southern Sumatra, Indonesia at a depth of 61.2 km (38 miles), the quake hit at 17:40:01 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 146 km (90 miles) WNW of Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 68.5 km (42.6 miles), the quake hit at 17:36:42 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 143 km (88 miles) ESE Morioka, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anonymous hackers 'TAPPED' Top Secret Scotland Yard Phone Call with the FBI

A confidential call between the FBI and Scotland Yard was recorded by hacking group Anonymous - the very people they were trying to catch, it was revealed today.

The group released a 15-minute tape of what appears to be a conference call last month about tracking and prosecuting the group’s members.

The top-secret conversation begins with a bizarre exchange between the U.S. and British agents, where they talk about cheese and eating 'McDonald's at the Pentagon'. Read More


Egypt Kidnapping; 2 American Tourists Released according to Authorities

Two American tourists who were kidnapped in the southern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula were freed Friday, a security official said.

They had been abducted by unknown Bedouins, said Gen. Mohamed Naguib, head of security in the region.

The kidnappers had demanded that some detainees be released and retried, but it is unclear if these calls were met.

Earlier Friday, the country's tourism minister said on Al Hayat Egyptian TV that authorities had located the kidnappers and were negotiating with them.

The abductions came several days after kidnappers held a larger group for a day. Read More

Iran's leader: War would be detrimental to U.S.



The supreme leader of Iran issued a blunt warning Friday that war would be detrimental to the United States -- and that Iran is ready to help anyone who confronts "cancerous" Israel.

"You see every now and then in this way they say that all options are on the table. That means even the option of war," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during Friday prayers in Tehran. "This is how they make these threats against us.

"Well, these kinds of threats are detrimental to the U.S.," he said. "The war itself will be 10 times as detrimental to the U.S."

Khamenei's rhetoric is hardly new. But the timing of his comments could prove critical with nuclear talks around the corner.

Tensions between Iran and world powers have been ratcheted up in the aftermath of an alarming nuclear watchdog agency report in November that said Tehran was likely developing nuclear weapons. Read More

Hackers Intercept FBI Cybercrime Call

Met officers and the FBI discussed details of investigations into ongoing cases against Anonymous and other groups.

The FBI has confirmed that hackers intercepted and leaked a sensitive conference call between the bureau's cybercrime investigators and Scotland Yard.

Hacking group Anonymous published on the internet a 15 minute-long recording of what appears to be a confidential phone conversation on January 17.

Investigators are heard discussing the tracking and prosecuting of the loose-knit group's members.
Link
The recording appears to have been edited to bleep out the names of some of the suspects being discussed.

The hackers also published an email purportedly sent by an FBI agent, giving details of the access code for the call and the email addresses of those invited to take part.

"The FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms (communications) for some time now," the group wrote on its AnonymousIRC Twitter page.

The FBI has said in a statement the information "was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained". It added that it is hunting those responsible. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEW ZEALAND - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Northwest of New Zealand at a depth of 190 km (117.8 miles), the quake hit at 16:16:23 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 70 km (43.4 miles) Northeast of Collingwood, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 34.9 km (21.7 miles), the quake hit at 15:05:59 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 41 km (25 miles) WSW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 32.9 km (20.4 miles), the quake hit at 14:25:31 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 58 km (36 miles) WSW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Chen Rong-yu, 23 Dies At Web Cafe - But No-One Notices, Taiwan

A Taiwanese man who died while playing video games at an internet cafe was left for hours after fellow gamers failed to notice his death.

The body of Chen Rong-yu, 23, was found slumped in a chair at a cafe in New Taipei city on Tuesday night, according to local reports.

He was rigid on a chair with his hands stretched out towards the keyboard and mouse, police said.

He had been playing League of Legends.

Mr Chen's body had apparently been sitting there for up to nine hours without any of the 30 other people in the cafe noticing.

He was last seen by a waitress talking on the phone around noon on Wednesday.

An initial police investigation found he might have died of a cardiac arrest triggered by low temperatures.

The man's family said he had been treated for a heart problem in September of last year.

Police are still looking into the cause of the death.

They say they suspect that a combination of tiredness, lack of movement and the cold weather could have caused blood clots and a heart attack. Source

Peregrine falcon and black-headed gull test positive for H5N1 virus‎, Hong Kong

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (February 3) that a dead peregrine falcon found in Tung Chung and a dead black-headed gull found in Yuen Long were confirmed to be H5N1 positive after a series of laboratory tests.

The dead peregrine falcon was found in the park of Seaview Crescent, Man Tung Road, Tung Chung, on January 30 and the dead black-headed gull was collected at Chun Yin Square Playground, Yuen Long, on the same day.

Peregrine falcons are rare winter visitors to Hong Kong, while the black-headed gull is a common visitor.

The AFCD will continue to conduct inspections of poultry farms to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented.

The spokesman reminded people to observe good personal hygiene.

"They should avoid personal contact with wild birds or live poultry and clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them," he said. Source

Bird flu mutation sparks fears of deadly pandemic

A GROUP of US scientists warns that current research runs the risk of releasing a virus that could kill half the world's population.

At a public meeting at the New York Academy of Sciences on Thursday night, some of the country's leading virus experts debated the censorship of research into bird flu.

Scientists are observing a 60-day moratorium on research into the virus, after two groups found a way to make it infectious by airborne transmission.

An outbreak of this virus could be worse than the 1918 Spanish flu that killed tens of millions of people, warned Professor Michael Osterholm, who has led research into previous dangerous outbreaks.

"Frankly, I don't want a virus out there that, even if it was 20 times less lethal, would still be the worst influenza pandemic in history," he said. Read More

Queensland town braces for worst flood

A REGIONAL Queensland town is enduring its worst-ever flood and eight more are bracing as the deluge in the state's sodden southeast shows no sign of letting up.

The swollen Maranoa River has risen and inundated 15 homes in Mitchell, west of Roma.

Dozens more houses and businesses are expected to be flooded as the river rises to a predicted peak of 9m overnight.

A disaster situation has been declared and about 50 residents are spending the night at a makeshift evacuation centre at a council depot.

Maranoa Mayor Robert Loughnan says up to 45 homes may be inundated.

"We've never had a flood of this magnitude in Mitchell before," he told ABC Radio.

The river was at 8.8m and steady at 8.30pm (AEST), but could reach 9m overnight as more rain threatens.

Mitchell has copped 94mm of rain in the past two days as a monsoonal trough hovers over central and southern Queensland.

It is threatening to dump over 100mm of rain on the region between Charleville and Roma in the next 24 hours.

Eight other regional towns are bracing for flooding, including St George, downstream from Mitchell. Read More

Western floods worsen as Queensland emergency services move into disaster mode

A critical situation is unfolding in Queensland, as the south-western town of Mitchell experiences its worst flood in history.

Hundreds of jobs to go at Westpac

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) claims that 560 jobs are set to go at Westpac Bank, with 150 of those roles going offshore.

The union says the departments affected by the job cuts are technical services, administration, legal, retail and business banking and administration.

FSU national secretary Leon Carter says it is a disgrace.

"These are the hardworking bank workers who are behind the scenes making sure that settlements occur and that people can buy and rent houses, and this is an organisation that continues to make a multi-billion-dollar annual profit," he said.

Mr Carter says the bank has an obligation and capacity to retain all the jobs and keep them in Australia.

He says sacked Westpac workers will struggle to find re-employment in the sector.

"Times are tough out there and the only people who aren't doing it tough are big banks like Westpac that are making multi-billion-dollar annual profits," he said.

"Rather than do the right thing by their workforce, their reward is only about making more money for their shareholders at the expense of Australians." Mr Carter urged the Federal Government to step in. Read More

Contoversial studies show how H5N1 can jump natural barrier, advisory board says

The core of a US biosecurity advisory board’s concern about two controversial, as-yet-unpublished studies on H5N1 viruses is that the studies have shown how to remove the apparent natural barrier that keeps the viruses from spreading efficiently in mammals, members of the board said in statements published today.

Removal of this barrier creates the potential for a catastrophic pandemic if such mutant viruses were released by bioterrorists or by accident, said members of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which has focused mainly on the perceived risk of bioterrorism. The board has recommended withholding details of the studies from publication.

“The artificial evolution of a new mammal-adapted H5N1 virus, as reported in these two papers, has removed the natural barriers that might have existed. Accomplishing this in the lab, however, doesn’t mean that it can occur naturally,” said Paul Keim, PhD, acting chair of the NSABB, in a question-and-answer interview published in Nature. Read More

Policy: Adaptations of avian flu virus are a cause for concern

Members of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity explain its recommendations on the communication of experimental work on H5N1 influenza.

We are in the midst of a revolutionary period in the life sciences. Technological capabilities have dramatically expanded, we have a much improved understanding of the complex biology of selected microorganisms, and we have a much improved ability to manipulate microbial genomes.

With this has come unprecedented potential for better control of infectious diseases and significant societal benefit. However, there is also a growing risk that the same science will be deliberately misused and that the consequences could be catastrophic.

Efforts to describe or define life-sciences research of particular concern have focused on the possibility that knowledge or products derived from such research, or new technologies, could be directly misapplied with a sufficiently broad scope to affect national or global security.

Research that might greatly enhance the harm caused by microbial pathogens has been of special concern1, 2, 3. Until now, these efforts have suffered from a lack of specificity and a paucity of concrete examples of 'dual use research of concern'3. Dual use is defined as research that could be used for good or bad purposes.

We are now confronted by a potent, real-world example. Read More

Flu on the Rise in Missouri

January and February is usually the peak season for flu and some parts of Missouri are seeing a large increase in flu numbers. Several schools in Mid-Missouri and the Kansas City area were closed this week due to an outbreak of the flu. Although flu numbers continue to remain low in the Ozarks.

The Springfield- Greene County Health Department reported one new case of the flu this week and have reported four confirmed cases of the flu since January 1st. Taney and Lawrence County Health Departments have not had any new cases of the flu.

Dr. Michael Ball with Ozark Family Health in Mountain Grove, Mo. tells KSPR he's seen a couple of elementary school age patients with the flu in the last few weeks. He's also treating a large amount of viral upper and lower respiratory infections, some leading to pneumonia. Read More

Hubble snaps stunning barred spiral galaxy image

The Hubble space telescope has captured an image of a "barred spiral" galaxy that could help us better understand our own Milky Way.

Most of the known spiral galaxies fall into this "barred" category - which are defined by the pronounced bar structure across their centres.

The presence of this structure may be an indication of a galaxy's age.

Two-thirds of nearby, younger galaxies have the bar, while only a fifth of older, more distant spirals have it.

The new picture also continues the Hubble space telescope's long heritage of striking astronomical images.

In the upper left of the image is a cluster showing recent star formation that is just visible to Hubble's cameras.

But it is a bright source in X-ray light; astronomers believe that this IXO-5 X-ray source is actually a "binary" system comprising a star and a black hole in mutual orbit. Read More

Iran: We will help 'cut out the cancer of Israel'

Iran will help anyone willing to "cut out the cancer" of Israel, its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said today.

The religious leader also told worshippers at Friday prayers that the country will continue its controversial nuclear programme.

He warned that any military strike by the West would only make Iran stronger.

"From now on, in any place, if any nation or any group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear expressing this," said Khamenei.

He said Israel is a "cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut".

Iran has been repeatedly defiant to hints that the US and Israel may at some point launch military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. Read More

Nagano village hit by heavy snow as it struggles to recover from big quake

SAKAE, Nagano -- This village in landlocked Nagano Prefecture, struggling to recover from a big earthquake on March 12 last year, is now fighting against heavy snow this winter.

Prefabricated temporary housing units accommodating earthquake refugees and capable of withstanding up to 2 meters of snow are blanketed with over 3 meters, forcing the village to hire temporary workers to remove snow from the roofs.

Even residents living in their own houses are worried whether their houses, damaged by the magnitude 6.7 quake on March 12, 2011, one day after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, can remain standing.

"Unlike houses with triangle-shaped roofs, we have to remove snow to the edge of roofs of the makeshift houses. It requires a lot of physical strength," said Mitsutoshi Saito, 30, one of the village's temporary staffers, as he removed snow from the roofs. Read More

Frozen pipe halts thermal power generators in Oita, Japan

OITA -- Piping in a fuel-supply system at a thermal power station here was frozen early on Feb. 3 as the temperature fell below freezing, causing all three power generators at the plant to halt, the plant operator said.

The trouble forced operator Kyushu Electric Power Co. to buy 2.4 million kilowatts from six other utilities, including 500,000 kilowatts from Tokyo Electric Power Co. and 700,000 kilowatts from Chubu Electric Power Co.

Also, Kyushu Electric Power asked 46 companies with which it has signed agreements to cooperate in saving power in case of a power shortage to reduce their electricity consumption, and about 30 of them complied.

The power supplier gradually resumed operations at the three units at the plant later in the day after fixing the system.

A company official said the halt of thermal power generators as a result of freezing of piping is unheard of, at least in its service area. Read More