Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Safer Internet Day: almost half of under-12s using Facebook

Nearly half of UK children under the age of 12 are using Facebook despite being too young to do so, according to a new piece of research.

Facebook requires its members to be at least 13 years-old to use the site. However, 44 per cent of British children aged between eight to 12 years-old are routinely flouting this age limit and logging onto the popular social networking site.

New research, which surveyed 2,000 children aged between six and 14, across the UK and the US, found that British children who are under the Facebook age limit, were using the site more than their American counterparts. In the US, 37 per cent of eight to 12 year-olds access the site on a regular basis.

The study, compiled by Dubit, a youth research specialist, also found that by the age of 12, 58 per cent of children in the UK and the US have a Facebook account. Additionally 23 per cent of eight-year olds regularly access Facebook – with 10 per cent of them getting their first taste for the social network by using their parents’ accounts. Read More

An orderly EMU break-up, à la Française

Salut souverainistes. For those wanting more details on the euro break-up plan drafted by French economists, here is the link to the L’Observatoire de L’Europe website.

A few extracts, loosely translated: "The obstinate determination of governments to take us by forced march deeper into the euro impasse can only lead to the general aggravation of the economic situation in Europe."

"Even though our American and Chinese competitors have an interest in the survival of the single currency, the euro is condemned to an uncontrollable explosion sooner or late". (A nice twist that one, inverting the false and widely believed conspiracy theory that the US is trying to destroy the euro.)

"National currencies should be recreated in each eurozone country". There will be a short transition period of dual notes as old euros are stamped by country ('U' for France) until new francs etc are printed. (This is what happened when the Austro-Hungarian monetary union fell apart in 1919.) Read More

Maryland Mall Evacuated & Locked Down After Sneaker Fight… involving 150 people, some with knives



About a dozen officers responded and moved all customers outside. They say the problem was a classic dilemma: supply and demand. There were 150 customers, but only 90 pairs of shoes for sale. They sold out in minutes.

“What we did is we brought in five customers at a time, let them get their shoes and just kept rotating like that,” said Sheriff Doug Mullendore.

According to reports, the Nike Foam sneakers sell for more than $200 at places like Foot Locker, but they’re so popular they can double in price, selling for as much as $500 on the Internet. Read More

Marines 'assault' US beaches in amphibious drill

With beach landings, 25 naval ships and an air assault, the United States and eight other countries are staging a major amphibious exercise on the US East Coast this week, fighting a fictional enemy that bears more than a passing resemblance to Iran.

After a decade dominated by ground wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the drill dubbed Bold Alligator is "the largest amphibious exercise conducted by the fleet in the last 10 years," said Admiral John Harvey, head of US Fleet Forces Command.

About 20,000 US forces, plus hundreds of British, Dutch and French troops as well as liaison officers from Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Australia are taking part in the exercise along the Atlantic coast off Virginia and North Carolina.

An American aircraft carrier, amphibious assault ships including France's Mistral, Canadian mine sweepers and dozens of aircraft have been deployed for the drill, which began on January 30 and runs through mid-February.

Monday was "D-day" for Bold Alligator, with US Marines stepping on to the beach from hovercraft, near the Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina. Read More

Senate Passes Bill Allowing Airports To Evict TSA Screeners

The Senate has passed legislation that includes a provision allowing airports to replace TSA screeners with private security, opening the door for the widely loathed federal agency to be marginalized from aviation security altogether.

The bill was primarily concerned with how the Federal Aviation Authority would be funded for the next four years, but also included measures that would force the TSA to reconsider applications from airports to replace TSA workers with their own privately hired screeners.

“Security companies would have an easier time winning contracts to operate airport checkpoints,” reports Businessweek.

Following a massive nationwide backlash against the TSA’s invasive groping policies and its use of radiation-firing naked body scanners, linked by many prestigious health bodies to cancer, an increasing number of airports attempted to take responsibility for their own screening procedures by replacing TSA workers with privately hired personnel. Read More

China buys up Saudi, Russian oil to squeeze Iran

(Reuters) - China is scouring the world for alternative oil supplies to replace a fall in its imports from Iran, as it seeks to negotiate lower prices from Tehran, and has been drawing heavily on Saudi Arabia.

Industry sources told Reuters that Beijing had bought the bulk of an increase in crude oil supplies from top oil exporter Saudi Arabia in the last few months.

The world's second-largest oil consumer is also importing more cargoes from West Africa, Russia and Australia to replace reduced supplies from Iran.

China is the top buyer of Iranian oil, taking around 20 percent of its total exports, but since January it has cut purchases by around 285,000 barrels per day (bpd), or just over half of the total daily amount it imported in 2011.

Saudi Arabian output reached 9.76 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, up 360,000 bpd from October, OPEC data show, and has remained near that level in January, according to a Reuters survey. Several sources in the oil industry said China has bought a good part of the extra oil. Read More

Jesus loves the giants: The screwed up priorities values of Americans

74% of Americans don't support Israel's wanton aggression… and are now therefore "anti-semite"

Cristina Kirchner says Britain 'militarising' South Atlantic

Argentine president, Cristina Kirchner, has announced Argentina will appeal to the United Nations over the Falklands Islands, claiming Britain had militarised the South Atlantic in a speech in Buenos Aires.

"The sending of a destroyer to accompany the Royal heir is a militarisation of the South Atlantic," Mrs Kirchner said.

"We will present a complaint to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, as this militarisation poses a grave danger to international security."

Mrs Kirchner said the Falklands was not only a "regional issue" but had become a “global cause”.

Announcing the founding of a mental health hospital for Falklands war veterans, Mrs Kirchner said: “I want the Prime Minister of England to give peace a chance and ‘no’ to war.” Read More

Court to decide if SeaWorld whales are illegal 'slaves'

A California federal court is to decide for the first time in US history whether amusement park animals are protected by the same constitutional rights as humans.

The issue arises from a lawsuit filed by rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a San Diego court on behalf of five orcas named Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises.

The whales perform water acrobatics at the SeaWorld amusement parks in San Diego and in Orlando, Florida.

PETA argues that continuing the whales' "employment" at SeaWorld violates the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits slavery.

District Judge Jeffrey Miller heard arguments in the complaint Monday and reviewed the response from SeaWorld, which asked that the lawsuit be dismissed. His ruling is expected to come later. Read More

GOP lawmakers protest removal of 'God' from Air Force unit's patch

A group of Republican lawmakers is protesting the removal a reference to God in the patch logo for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).

The 35 lawmakers, led by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), wrote a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz urging them to restore the logo with a reference to God.

Forbes warned that the action taken by the RCO could set a “dangerous precedent” when it comes to religion and the military.

"The action taken by the RCO suggests that all references to God, regardless of their context, must be removed from the military,” Forbes wrote. “As we are confident that your legal advisors would not suggest that censorship is required for compliance with the First Amendment, we ask that you reverse this perplexing decision.”

The patch logo was changed after a military atheist group, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, protested the reference to God on the patch. The patch has a saying on it in Latin, which is common for military patches, that tranlates to: “Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money.” Read More

Caddo commissioner continues push for public pajama ban



CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) -

The Caddo Parish Commissioner pushing for a ban on pajamas in public is not backing down.


Michael Williams' proposal hasn't even been introduced yet, but it stirred up a lot of controversy when he first confirmed his intentions in mid-January. It also prompted a pajama protest of sorts.

On Monday Williams announced to fellow commissioners his plans to introduce an ordinance, and to start a letter-writing campaign.

"I'm going to do a national letter writing campaign to major department stores, to Targets to Best Buys, to Wal-marts," said Williams outside of Government Plaza in downtown Shreveport. Read More

Pakistan to America: Stop the drones, or we'll stop them for you

PAKISTAN yesterday warned Britain to help stop the American "Drone Wars" that are slaughtering hundreds of its innocent civilians.

The nuclear power chillingly declared it "has the means" to retaliate unless the carnage ceases.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to Britain Wajid Shamsul Hasan told The Sun in an exclusive interview that his country's relations with America are at their lowest ebb.

He said: "Patience is definitely reaching exhaustion levels." Mr Hasan said Pakistan backs the War on Terror waged by Britain and the US.

But he urged PM David Cameron to condemn US drone attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban training camps in the north west of his country — dubbing them as "war crimes" and "little more than state executions".

Tough-talking Mr Hasan also declared Pakistan would have no choice but to support Iran if "aggressive" Israel attacks it. Read More

Wisconsin sisters accused of sexually assaulting man with pliers, forcing him to drink urine

Two sisters have been charged in St. Croix County Court with sexually assaulting a man with a pliers and giving him urine to drink.

Valerie M. Bartkey, 24, and Amanda L. Johnson, 17, both of Somerset are each charged with a felony count of second-degree sexual assault by force and misdemeanor counts of battery and criminal damage to property. Johnson is also charged with a misdemeanor count of intimidating a victim.

The felony has a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. They each are scheduled to make their initial court appearances April 12.

According to court records:

An 18-year-old man told police he was at a Somerset residence Oct. 1 when the sisters punched and kicked him, and later put one of the man's shoes in the toilet and soaked the other in a sink. Read More

Assad's gunmen 'murder three entire families in Homs'

Gunmen loyal to President Bashar al Assad murdered three entire families in Homs on Tuesday night, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The families were shot dead in their homes by members of a pro-regime militia, known as the Shabiha, which has been blamed for numerous atrocities since the conflict began 11 months ago.

The Ghantawi family, including a girl of 15 and two boys aged seven and five, lived near al-Firdaos square in the city. The al-Tirkawi family, with seven members, and the al-Zamal family, with eight members, both lived in the al-Nazirheen area of Homs. In total, the three incidents claimed 20 lives. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake KYUSHU, JAPAN - 9th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Kyushu, Japan at a depth of 44.5 km (27.7 miles), the quake hit at 03:55:21 UTC Thursday 9th February 2012
The epicenter was 43 km (27 miles) SSE of Miyazaki, Kyushu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

3.3 Magnitude Earthquake SPAIN - 9th Feb 2012

A magnitude 3.3 earthquake has struck Spain at a depth of 8 km (5 miles), the quake hit at 02:51:301 UTC Thursday 9th February 2012
The epicenter was 1 km (0.6 miles) Northeast of Yeste, Albacete, Castile-La Mancha, Spain
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SERAM, INDONESIA - 9th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Seram, Indonesia at a depth of 9.4 km (5.8 miles), the quake hit at 02:39:37 UTC Thursday 9th February 2012
The epicenter was 268 km (166 miles) South of Sorong, Papua, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 8th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 25.3 km (15.7 miles), the quake hit at 21:30:37 UTC Wednesday 8th February 2012
The epicenter was 333 km (206 miles) East of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO - 8th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck offshore Chiapas, Mexico at a depth of 29 km (18 miles), the quake hit at 21:24:59 UTC Wednesday 8th February 2012
The epicenter was 143 km (88 miles) SSW of Tonala, Chiapas, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS, RUSSIA - 8th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the Kuril Islands, Russia at a depth of 160 km (99.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:57:17 UTC Wednesday 8th February 2012
The epicenter was 297 km (184.1 miles) East of Vostok, Kuril Islands, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN TURKEY - 8th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Western Turkey at a depth of 9 km (5.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:57:26 UTC Wednesday 8th February 2012
The epicenter was 21 km (13 miles) Northeast of Kirkagaç, Turkey
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION - 8th Feb 2012


A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Hokkaido, Japan Region at a depth of 167 km (103.5 miles), the quake hit at 19:022:29 UTC Wednesday 8th February 2012
The epicenter was 51 km (31.6 miles) Northwest of Goshogawara, Hokkaido, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Greeks lose faith in politicians: poll

A public opinion poll of Greek citizens show they've lost patience with their political leaders and want new elections, as Greek party leaders continue their delayed talks on a second EU/IMF bailout. Joanna Partridge reports.

A380 wing checks extended to entire fleet

(Reuters) - European air safety officials extended checks for Airbus A380 wing cracks to the entire superjumbo fleet on Wednesday and said the widespread defects could pose a safety risk if left unremedied.

The move to inspect all 68 A380s in service came as Qantas Airways (QAN.AX) grounded one of its planes for up to a week following the discovery of 36 separate cracks in wing parts.

The new measures by the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) "reflect the results of a first round of checks, which found cracks in almost all of the planes inspected," spokesman Dominique Fouda said.

"This condition, if not detected and corrected, may lead to a reduction of the structural integrity of the aeroplane," the EU agency said in its directive to airlines.

By signaling that the flaws are thought to be structural and widespread, the fleet-wide inspection order will refocus attention on faults recently found in flagship jets from both of the world's dominant aircraft makers. Read More

Turks seek world action as Syria's Homs bleeds



(Reuters) - Syria's army pounded the rebel city of Homs on Wednesday as Turkey sought international action to protect civilians from former ally President Bashar al-Assad, a move that risks the wrath of Russia and China.


Dozens more were killed during the day, according to the opposition, drawing comparison with the plight of Benghazi which triggered Western attacks on Libya last year and accelerating a global diplomatic showdown whose outcome is far from clear.

"I've seen whole families killed this week," an activist called Ahmed told Reuters from Homs, the scene of one of the bloodiest government onslaughts in the 11-month-old revolt against Assad. "Now I feel like I'm just waiting to be the next to die," added the accountant aged 28. Read More

U.S. enlists 5 EU nations in offshore tax crackdown

(Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday enlisted five EU nations to help crack down on offshore tax evasion by Americans and ease the burdens the effort has imposed on many banks and financial institutions.

After complaints from the global financial industry about costs and legal issues, Treasury announced a new multilateral approach to implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

Enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2010, FATCA is intended to help the U.S. Internal Revenue Service gather information about Americans' accounts with more than $50,000 in assets in foreign banks and other institutions.

Scheduled to take effect in 2013, the new law as drafted calls for banks and financial institutions worldwide to gather the information and directly disclose it to the United States' Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax collection agency.

Under Treasury's proposed "new government-to-government framework for implementing FATCA," the governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom will work together to create a means to collect the information from their banks and send it to the United States. Read More

VIETNAM: BIRD FLU OUTBREAK THREATENS

HANOI, Feb 8 (NNN-VNS) — Vietnam’s Department of Animal Health has warned that there is a high risk of a large-scale outbreak of bird flu without drastic preventive measures in the near future.

Bird flu has been reported in four communes in three provinces of Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa and Soc Trang over the past month, affecting nearly 1,700 poultry and forcing the killing of more than 4,000 domestic fowls, said the department’s deputy head Pham Van Dong at a meeting of the Steering Committee for Bird Flu Prevention and Control Tuesday.

A number of poultry suspected of catching the disease have started to appear in other localities such as Nghe An, Bac Lieu, Kien Giang, Ha Noi and Thai Nguyen.

Bird flu has so far killed two people this year in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta’s Soc Trang and Kien Giang Provinces.

The Health Ministry warned of a possible large-scale outbreak of bird flu if the three affected provinces could not keep the disease under control while unfavourable weather conditions, transport and slaughtering of poultry posed a high risk. Read More