Sunday, February 5, 2012

Corpse Sits Among Oblivious Video Gamers For Nine Hours In Taiwan Internet Cafe

NEW TAIPEI, Taiwan - A Taiwanese man who died while playing video games at an internet cafe appeared to have gone unnoticed by fellow gamers for up to nine hours, police said Friday.

The 23-year-old checked in at the cafe in New Taipei city on Tuesday night and was found dead but still sitting rigidly on a chair with his hands stretched out the following night by a waitress, police said.

The waitress last saw him talking on the phone around noon on Wednesday and his body had apparently been sitting there for up to nine hours without any of the 30 other people in the cafe noticing.

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

Who is Xi: China's next leader

Beijing (CNN) -- Anyone interested in world affairs, Chinese diplomacy and China's future should know more about Xi Jinping.

Xi (pronounced "shee"), China's vice president, will be visiting the United States this month for meetings at the White House in Washington and will travel to other cities.

"The visit is important to boost his stature at home -- here is the man the U.S. takes seriously, and he can deal with them on our behalf," says Anthony Saich, a China expert at the Harvard Kennedy School. "For the U.S., it provides an opportunity to introduce him to key U.S. politicians and the American public. The same approach was taken with Hu Jintao before he took over."

Xi, 58, is in line to be China's next paramount leader. He is expected to succeed Hu when his second term ends in autumn this year and could rule China for 10 years.

But who is Xi? Some key information about him:

• He comes from a clique known as "princelings," sons and daughters of revolutionary veterans. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was a revolutionary hero who was banished during the Cultural Revolution.

• When his father was in limbo, Xi spent time as a teenager doing manual labor in China's countryside and went on to become a local party chief. Read More

Israel will not pull out of the next Middle East war until Hizbollah is annihilated

The tension on the Lebanese border is palpable as sworn enemies flex their military muscle.

It is the front line of Israel’s deepening conflict with Iran, and beneath the snow-capped peaks of Mount Hermon the final preparations are taking shape for a conflict that promises to change the landscape of the modern Middle East.

On one side, amid the foothills of southern Lebanon, is Hizbollah, the Iranian-backed Shia militia that is busily stockpiling thousands of missiles in readiness for the next round of hostilities against its sworn enemy, Israel.

On the other side stand the men and women of Israel’s armed forces, the defenders of the Jewish state who are working on their own plans to defeat the Tehran-controlled militia that is committed to Israel’s destruction.

The last time these two combatants clashed was in the summer of 2006, when Israel launched a full-scale onslaught against Hizbollah after it kidnapped two Israeli soldiers while they were patrolling the south Lebanon border. The Second Lebanon War, as it is known in Israel, lasted for 33 days and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people. Read More

"Black Collars" China's 10 Most Powerful Business People

Villagers Hold Election in China's Wukan Protest Town

12 Tibetans Killed, Chinese Regime Blocks Journalists

Hong Kong Looks Ahead to Tough Economic Forecast

Human Cost of Producing an iPad in China: Apple Consumer's Reactions

Why Russia protects Syria's Assad

(CNN) -- As casualties mount before the brutal onslaught of Bashar al-Assad's forces against Syria's pro-democracy protesters, the Russians are being unhelpful again. In Washington and Brussels, even habitually cool diplomats have been showing frustration.

On January 31 Russia joined with China to block a plan presented to the U.N. Security Council by Morocco and supported by the Arab League that called on Assad to hand power to his deputy, who would then call a general election. If Assad did not comply within 15 days, the resolution threatened undisclosed "further measures."

Moscow already had vetoed one resolution denouncing Assad's use of force in October. As Western leaders sought to pry the Syrian dictator from power, his old friends in Moscow sent an aircraft-carrying missile cruiser to Syrian waters in a show of support last month and shipped his troops a consignment of Yakhont cruise missiles. Read More

Opinion: We must avoid Facebook's 'creepy' cult of transparency

(CNN) -- Just as the Netscape IPO inaugurated the dotcom mania of the 90s, so Facebook's imminent IPO will trigger a hysteria with the social web. But the most interesting question isn't whether Facebook is actually worth $100 billion or how many billions of dollars Mark Zuckerberg will personally bank -- but whether or not Facebook really will make the world a better place for its close to a billion users.

Zuckerberg certainly thinks it will. "Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission -- to make the world more open and connected," he wrote in a letter to shareholders that Facebook filed with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission yesterday. This social mission, Zuckerberg explained, has been designed to give people a voice, to change how society is organized and to bring us closer together as a species. Read More

Are nuisance jellyfish really taking over the world's oceans?

A new assessment questions the notion that jellyfish and similar gelatinous creatures will dominate the seas

In recent years, media reports of jellyfish blooms and some scientific publications have fueled the idea that jellyfish and other gelatinous floating creatures are becoming more common and may dominate the seas in coming decades. The growing impacts of humans on the oceans, including overfishing and climate change, have been suggested as possible causes of this apparently alarming trend.

A careful evaluation of the evidence by Robert H. Condon of Dauphin Island Sea Lab and his 16 coauthors, however, finds the idea that jellyfish, comb jellies, salps, and similar organisms are surging globally to be lacking support. Rather, Condon and his colleagues suggest, the perception of an increase is the result of more scientific attention being paid to phenomena such as jellyfish blooms and media fascination with the topic. Also important is the lack of good information on their occurrence in the past, which encourages misleading comparisons. Condon and his coauthors describe their findings in the February issue of BioScience.

Such fossil and documentary evidence as is available indicates that occasional spectacular blooms of jellyfish are a normal part of such organisms' natural history, and may be linked to natural climate cycles. But blooms drew less attention in decades and centuries gone by. Read More

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEGROS - CEBU REGION, PHILIPPINES - 6th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck the Negros - Cebu Region, Philippines at a depth of 34.6 km (21.5 miles), the quake hit at 04:20:03 UTC Monday 6th February 2012
The epicenter was 68 km (42 miles) SSE of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines
Local Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEGROS - CEBU REGION, PHILIPPINES - 6th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Negros - Cebu Region, Philippines at a depth of 34.8 km (21.6 miles), the quake hit at 04:03:28 UTC Monday 6th February 2012
The epicenter was 62 km (38 miles) North of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

6.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEGROS - CEBU REGION, PHILIPPINES - 6th Feb 2012

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake has struck the Negros - Cebu Region, Philippines at a depth of 46.6 km (29 miles), the quake hit at 03:49:16 UTC Monday 6th February 2012
The epicenter was 70 km (44 miles) North of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines
Local Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

More to follow.

Tsunami Bulletin

THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. ONLY
NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE
DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND
ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0349Z 06 FEB 2012
COORDINATES - 10.0 NORTH 123.2 EAST
DEPTH - 33 KM
LOCATION - CEBU PHILIPPINES
MAGNITUDE - 6.8

EVALUATION

NO DESTRUCTIVE WIDESPREAD TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS BASED ON
HISTORICAL EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI DATA.

HOWEVER - EARTHQUAKES OF THIS SIZE SOMETIMES GENERATE LOCAL
TSUNAMIS THAT CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE ALONG COASTS LOCATED WITHIN
A HUNDRED KILOMETERS OF THE EARTHQUAKE EPICENTER. AUTHORITIES
IN THE REGION OF THE EPICENTER SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS
POSSIBILITY AND TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION.

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake HALMAHERA, INDONESIA - 6th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Halmahera, Indonesia at a depth of 114.5 km (71.2 miles), the quake hit at 02:14:26 UTC Monday 6th February 2012
The epicenter was 102 km (63 miles) North of Ternate, Moluccas, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 521 km (323.7 miles), the quake hit at 23:50:41 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 87 km (54 miles) ENE of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 22:05:45 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 25 km (15 miles) Northeast of Mito, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN PERU - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Southern Peru at a depth of 189 km (117.4 miles), the quake hit at 20:58:46 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 71 km (44 miles) WSW of Juliaca, Peru
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

D-FOX: Please contact us if you can read this.

To D-fox: if you're reading this, please contact us at thecomingcrisis@gmail.com. It's important -- we believe.

Kremlin Calls Protesters Puppets of the US

MOSCOW—With Russians defying sub-zero cold over the weekend to demonstrate for unfettered elections, the Kremlin is employing a familiar tool—anti-Americanism—to defuse support for opposition leaders, casting them as puppets of the U.S.'s CIA and State Department.

The question now, though, is whether the tactic could backfire among the millions of Russians who in recent years have come to identify themselves as pro-Western in their thinking, and who get their news from Internet websites instead of state-controlled television.

The Kremlin's line—proffered by high officials and television programming beamed over state-run channels—will certainly continue until elections March 4, when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is hoping to officially return to power, Kremlin watchers say.

That will continue to muddle U.S. efforts to isolate Syria in the U.N., where Russia joined China in vetoing a resolution over the weekend calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, saying the resolution was biased, illegal and would promote "regime change." Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN KAI, INDONESIA - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Kai, Indonesia at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 19:08:56 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 133 km (82.4 miles) East of Tual, Kepulauan Kai, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHWESTERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Southwestern Siberia, Russia at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:52:44 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 42 km (26 miles) Northeast of Saryg-sep, Siberia, Russia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Kamchatka, Russia at a depth of 80 km (49.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:00:59 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 38 km (23.5 miles) Northeast of Klyuchi, Kamchatka, Russia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Europe cold snap claims 260 lives, causes ferry scare

ROME — The death toll from the vicious cold snap across Europe has risen to more than 260, with hundreds having to be rescued after a ferry caught in a snow storm hit a breakwater off Italy.

Ukraine has suffered the heaviest toll with 122 deaths, including many who froze to death in the streets as temperatures plunged to as low as minus 38.1 degrees Celsius (minus 36.5 Fahrenheit).

Airports were shut, flights and trains delayed, and highways gridlocked as emergency services raced to clear falling snow.

In Italy, the ferry Sharden hit a breakwater shortly after setting off from the port of Civitavecchia near Rome.

It caused panic among the 262 passengers who feared a repeat of a cruise ship tragedy in the area last month that is thought to have killed 32 people.

Coastguard spokesman Carnine Albano said the accident, which tore a 25-metre (80-foot) hole in the ship's side above the waterline, happened after the vessel was buffeted by a violent snow storm from the north-east.

All passengers were evacuated and no injuries reported.

The heaviest snowfall in 27 years in Rome caused the capital, better known for its warm sunshine, to grind to a halt with taxis and buses unable to navigate through the icy streets without snow chains.

Parts of the Venice lagoon also froze over. Read More

Iran raid likely to drag in U.S. and hurt global economy

An Israeli raid on Iran's nuclear facilities would deliver a painful shock to the global economy, revive flagging Islamist militancy and possibly drag the United States into a regional war whether it backed its ally's attack or not.

As if that prospect was not alarming enough, any doubts Tehran entertained about the wisdom of building a nuclear weapon would vanish the moment the strike occurred.

These longstanding U.S. and European assumptions about the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran are being re-examined with greater urgency in Western capitals after repeated warnings by Israel that the chance of a peaceful resolution may be closing.

There is concern that Israel may attack in coming months to disrupt the transfer of parts of Iran's nuclear development work to an underground site south of Tehran that may be invulnerable to conventional bombing.

Western experts want Israel to think long and hard before embarking on a raid many suspect would spark a broader conflict. Read More

ET, the new alien scaring global markets

(Reuters) - The United States is coming to be seen as a global threat, acting unilaterally with aggressive new market rules that critics say will hurt U.S. firms, foreign banks, and international markets in one swoop.

The new buzzword in the financial world is "extraterritoriality", or ET. The idea that a government can exercise its authority beyond its borders.

The fear is that after the 2007-2009 financial crisis that roiled global markets, some countries will engage in an arms race of tough financial reforms in order to be seen as the safest capital markets, and will haphazardly foist their own rules on other nations.

Despite its talk of a global level playing field, the United States is being portrayed as a rogue country, with its unmatched Volcker rule to curtail banks' risky trades and its accelerated timetable to put in place new derivatives reforms.

The backlash has gained force in recent weeks. Read More

Eurozone insists no Greek rescue without reforms

Euro zone finance ministers told Greece it could not go ahead with an agreed deal to restructure privately held debt until it guaranteed to implement reforms to secure a second financing package from the euro zone and the IMF.

Euro zone ministers had hoped to meet on Monday to finalize the second Greek bailout, which has to be in place by mid-March if Athens is to avoid a chaotic default, but the meeting was postponed because of Greek reluctance to commit to reforms.

Instead, the ministers held a conference call on Saturday to take stock of progress on the second financing package, which euro zone leaders set at 130 billion euros back in October.

"There was a very clear message that was conveyed from all participants of the teleconference ... to the Greeks that enough is enough," one euro zone official said. "There is a great sense of frustration that they are dragging their feet. Read More

Vetoes leave Syria headed for a bloody stalemate

The double veto cast by Russia and China at the United Nations Security Council on Saturday represents a clarifying moment in the Syrian uprisings.

At the 2012 Munich Security Conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted, "We don't know what the endgame will be until we start the game." Well, fasten your seatbelt -- the game over Syria has started.
Link
The Syrian conflict is no longer just about a brutal dictator repressing peaceful protesters who are demanding what every Arab desires: dignity, freedom, and an opportunity at a decent life. The Syrian revolution is now the fault line in Middle Eastern politics, through which U.S.-Russian competition, the U.S.-Iran conflict, the Iran-Saudi regional rivalry, and the Shiite-Sunni ages-old conflict will play out.

The Syrian conflict is no longer just about a brutal dictator repressing peaceful protesters who are demanding what every Arab desires: dignity, freedom, and an opportunity at a decent life. The Syrian revolution is now the fault line in Middle Eastern politics, through which U.S.-Russian competition, the U.S.-Iran conflict, the Iran-Saudi regional rivalry, and the Shiite-Sunni ages-old conflict will play out. Read More

Syria violence grows after U.N. resolution vetoed



The death toll from fighting between Syrian government forces and civilians rose Sunday, a day after the United Nations Security Council failed to approve a plan seeking to halt the violence.

The Arab League said Sunday it would continue to work with the Syrian government and opposition to stop the killing despite the Security Council vote, and it urged the government to "heed the people's demands."

At least 22 people were killed Sunday, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists. The group said 16 of the deaths happened in Homs, where hundreds have been killed in recent days in violence that opposition groups blame on the government. Read More

2.7 Magnitude Earthquake OREGON - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 2.7 earthquake has struck Oregon at a depth of 14.8 km (9.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:27:52 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 12 km (8 miles) ESE of Maupin, Oregon
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake MICHOACAN, MEXICO - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Michoacan, Mexico at a depth of 51 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:01:10 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 33 km (20.4 miles) Northwest of Zirándaro, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck Mindanao, Philippines at a depth of 504.8 km (313.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:46:44 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 116 km (72 miles) West of General Santos, Mindanao, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 5th Feb 2012


A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 4.3 km (2.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:40:38 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 122 km (76 miles) West of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake JAVA, INDONESIA - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Java, Indonesia at a depth of 81 km (50.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:52:02 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 79 km (49 miles) South of Kawalu, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Assad supporters celebrate Following Veto from China and Russia

Supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad take to the streets to thank Russia and China for U.N. resolution veto. Masako Iijima reports.

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake MOLUCCA SEA, INDONESIA - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Molucca Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 114 km (70.6 miles), the quake hit at 14:44:49 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 214 km (132.6 miles) Northeast of Bitung, Sulawesi, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake EL SALVADOR - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck El Salvador at a depth of 81 km (50.2 miles), the quake hit at 14:19:40 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 4 km (2.4 miles) Southwest of El Rosario, El Salvador
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Tapas Seven to be interviewed by Scotland Yard in review of Madeleine McCann abduction

Scotland Yard detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are set to interview the so-called Tapas Seven.

The group are friends of Kate and Gerry McCann who dined with them at a tapas restaurant on the night of Madeleine's disappearance five years ago and are central witnesses in the case.

The team of detectives has been analysing every scrap of evidence that was gathered when the little girl first went missing and interviewing key witnesses again.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood has three detective chief inspectors, five detective sergeants and 19 detective constables who are being supported by six civilian staff and three officers from the specialist murder review group.

By April they will have managed to rack up a bill of nearly £2m after Prime Minister David Cameron called in the force to review the case last May.

So far they have made at least four trips to Portugal and Spain to gather evidence, including a file of leads from private investigators.

Now, after nine months, they are set to check the statements of the McCann's friends, the Sunday Express said. Read More

Iran vows to hit any country that stages attack

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A Republican Guard commander warned that Iran will target any country where an attack against it is staged.

Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard, Iran's most powerful military force, didn't elaborate. His comments appeared to be a warning to Iran's neighbors not to let their territory or airspace be used as a base for an attack.

"Any place where enemy offensive operations against the Islamic Republic of Iran originate will be the target of a reciprocal attack by the Guard's fighting units," the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Salami as saying Sunday.

Tensions have been rising over Tehran's nuclear program. The U.S. and its Western allies charge Iran is producing atomic weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes like producing electricity. Source

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck offshore Chiapas, Mexico at a depth of 46.8 km (29.1 miles), the quake hit at 13:18:58 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 102 km (63 miles) WSW of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake MARIANA ISLANDS REGION - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Mariana Islands Region at a depth of 129.5 km (80.5 miles), the quake hit at 13:02:24 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 260 km (161 miles) WSW of HAGATNA, Guam
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 5th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 596.7 km (370.8 miles), the quake hit at 12:15:58 UTC Sunday 5th February 2012
The epicenter was 119 km (73 miles) SSW of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Military aircraft dispatched in Australia floods

Authorities were using military helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane Sunday to evacuate thousands of residents stranded by rising floodwaters in the eastern Australian state of Queensland, the government said.

Heavy rains in recent weeks have swollen rivers beyond their banks, threatening a number of communities in Queensland and New South Wales.

Authorities were using the plane and helicopters to evacuate patients from a hospital in particularly hard-hit Queensland town of St. George, where officials were warning about 4,000 residents to get out of the path of what officials say will be a record-breaking flood.

"This is a very serious situation and I urge people to cooperate,'' Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told CNN affiliate Nine Network.

The Balonne River is expected to crest Monday at 15 meters (49.2 feet), swamping the town of St. George.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said authorities were coordinating calls for assistance.

""Emergency Management Australia has liaison officers in flood-affected regions to ensure that requests for any further assistance can be actioned immediately," Gillard said in a statement. Read More

Tunisia "to withdraw recognition" of Syria government

Tunisia has started the procedure for withdrawing its recognition of the Syrian leadership under President Bashar al-Assad and for expelling the Syrian ambassador, the Tunisian president said on Saturday.

Soon after the decision was announced, staff at Syria's embassy in the Tunisian capital lowered their national flag over the building, prompting a cheer from about 200 people protesting outside over the Syrian government's crackdown on opponents.

Tunisia's decision to sever ties with Damascus carries moral weight because the north African country's revolution last year started off the "Arab Spring" upheavals which later spread throughout the Middle East, including to Syria.

A message posted on the Facebook page of President Moncef Marzouki said: "Tunisia has announced the launch of procedures for the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador in Tunisia and the withdrawal of all recognition of the regime in power in Damascus." Read More

Egypt clashes rage into fourth day

CAIRO — Protesters and riot police fought pitched battles in Cairo on Sunday as clashes sparked by the perceived failure of Egypt's military rulers to prevent deadly football-linked violence raged into a fourth day.

Hundreds of riot police blocked roads leading to the interior ministry headquarters in the centre of the capital, firing tear gas to keep dozens of rock-throwing protesters at bay.

Police erected a concrete block wall on Mansur Street, which has become the nerve centre of the deadly clashes, while entrenching themselves behind coils of barbed wire on other roads.

Demonstrators hurling stones and petrol bombs at the police lines cheered when their comrades brought back a captured man they said was a plain-clothes officer. Others tried to shield him from the protesters' kicks and punches.

As noon approached the fighting decreased, but threatened to escalate as it had over the past three days, when the violence picked up towards the evening.

Earlier on Sunday, the police had moved on protesters' positions in the rock-strewn streets, firing birdshot and arresting medics at a field hospital, one doctor, Mustafa Nabil, told AFP. The medics were later released, he said.

The protesters denied they intended to storm the ministry, several hundred metres (yards) from Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak a year ago but left the military in charge. Read More

UN veto gives Assad 'licence to kill' - opposition

Russia and China have handed Syria's government a "licence to kill", say opposition activists, after the two countries vetoed a UN resolution.

The Syrian National Council, an opposition umbrella group, urged Moscow and Beijing to change their minds.

The veto caused anger among Western diplomats. Activists earlier attacked Syrian embassies across the world.

In Syria, dozens were reported killed on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days since protests began last March.

Rebel groups and opposition activists said the regime launched an assault on the city of Homs on Friday night using mortar and tanks to bombard civilian areas.

One opposition group said it had confirmed 62 deaths in Homs, while other organisations gave death tolls in excess of 200.

US anger

In a statement, the Syrian National Council condemned Moscow and Beijing for obstructing the passage of the draft resolution.

"The SNC holds both governments accountable for the escalation of killings and genocide, and considers this irresponsible step a licence for the Syrian regime to kill without being held accountable," the statement said. Read More

Colosseum Shut As Heavy Snowfall Hits Rome



The first major snowfall in Rome for 26 years has led to the closure of the world-famous Colosseum over fears that tourists could slip on the icy ruins.

The cold weather also left buses struggling to drive up the Italian capital's slushy hills, and cars without tyre chains were temporarily ordered off the road.

Scores of vehicles were blocked for hours on the ring road around the city after cars skidded and crashed.

Drivers frustrated at waiting for accidents to be cleared ended up abandoning their cars.

About 6cm (2.5in) of snow fell in many areas of the capital.

Authorities stopped visitors from entering the Colosseum, the adjacent Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors. Read More

Magnitude 5 Earthquake Strikes Near Iran’s Bushehr Nuke Plant

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck near the Bushehr nuclear power plant in south Iran, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website on Sunday.

The earthquake struck at 9:40 a.m. local time (06:10 GMT) on Sunday some 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Bushehr, with its epicenter registered at a depth of 10 km.

There were no reports of any casualties or damage to the nuclear power plant caused by the quake.

The deadliest quake in Iran was in June 1990, which measured 7.7 points on the Richter scale. About 37,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured in the northern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan. The quake devastated 27 towns and about 1,870 villages, according to IRNA news agency.

Bushehr, Iran’s first nuclear power plant, is expected to go online on March 20, 2012.
The plant’s construction began in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high-technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy siege in Tehran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 to complete the plant. Source