Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Tibetan Sets Himself on Fire in China's Sichuan Province

North Korea: 'Before the storm'

WASHINGTON — Kim Jong-un’s North Korea is muddling along. So far so good. The instinct for survival shared by the Kim family and the dynastic element of the key leadership is keeping things in check. But the devil is in the details, according to Jack Pritchard, a well-known expert on North Korea and a former key U.S. negotiator who often flew to Pyongyang.

“It’s exactly what you would expect to see: a very smooth transition — on the surface,” said Pritchard, president of the Korea Economic Institute (KEI), at his office that overlooks K Street in downtown Washington.

Established in 1982 as a non-profit organization, KEI is a “Korea hub” in Washington whose scope of activity embraces all aspects of the U.S.-Korea relationship.

Pritchard believes there’s nothing strange about the apparent composedness. “It’s in the interest of all the power base now in North Korea to ensure that the public face of North Korea under the new young leader looks stable and the post-Kim Jong-il North Korea displays continuity of appearance to the late leader.”

He dismisses the current “calm” as interim in nature as if it were in the eye of a storm center — a total serene state before a big shock. Read More

Gold mine contamination kills 400 Nigerian children

The hunt for gold in northern Nigeria has left 400 children dead of lead poisoning and many more ill in the past two years, a human rights organization says.

Human Rights Watch said in a release Tuesday thousands of Nigerian children need immediate medical treatment and dozens of villages are contaminated by pollution from artisanal gold mines throughout Zamfara state.

The organizations says children are exposed to lead dust when they process ore in the mines, when relatives return home from working in the mines covered with lead dust and when the lead-filled ore is manually or mechanically crushed at home. Children can also come in contact with lead in contaminated water and food.

Healthcare workers in Zamfara state say there also have been high rates of infertility and miscarriage among adults, the rights group said.

"Zamfara's gold brought hope for prosperity, but resulted in death and backbreaking labor for its children," said Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. "People living in Zamfara state should not have to trade their lives, or their children's lives, for the chance to mine gold and make a living."

The group said more than 1,500 children have been treated for acute lead poisoning but thousands more have gone without the chelation therapy treatment that removes lead from the body. Read More

US to raise trade, rights, and Syria with China VP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said Friday it would raise concerns about trade, human rights and Syria during a closely watched visit by China's likely next leader next week, despite hopes to improve ties.

White House officials said they would seek to send a message to Vice President Xi Jinping that the United States welcomes China's rise, but that Beijing was testing the patience even of supporters of the relationship.

"China needs to recognize that it needs to continue to take steps to live up to the rules of the road that all nations abide by, particularly economically, in order to maintain support for the relationship in the United States," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on a conference call.

With elections approaching in November the United States has been pressing China over trade policies seen as unfair, including what lawmakers call a disregard for intellectual property rights and an artificially weak currency.

Human rights groups say that China has also stepped up curbs on dissent, with dozens of government critics detained since last year. Democracy activist Zhu Yufu was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison, his wife said. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Southern East Pacific Rise at a depth of 13.4 km (8.3 miles), the quake hit at 04:12:23 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 2987 km (1856 miles) SSE from ADAMSTOWN, Pitcairn Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 9.3 km (5.8 miles), the quake hit at 03:27:47 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 85 km (52 miles) ESE of Mito, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake TARAPACA, CHILE- 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Tarapaca, Chile at a depth of 131.7 km (81.8 miles), the quake hit at 02:15:38 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 72 km (44 miles) ESE of Tacna, Peru
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake GREECE - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Greece at a depth of 16.7 km (10.4 miles), the quake hit at 01:34:41 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 93 km (57 miles) SSW of Kavalla, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 13th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Bonin Islands, Japan at a depth of 35.3 km (21.9 miles), the quake hit at 23:07:09 UTC Monday 13th February 2012
The epicenter was 141 km (87 miles) Northeast of Chichi-shima, Bonin Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 13th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck Northern California at a depth of 32.9 km (20.4 miles), the quake hit at 21:07:02 UTC Monday 13th February 2012
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) WSW of Weitchpec, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

More to Follow

CERN ramps up LHC energy for Higgs boson search

The search for the elusive Higgs boson is to be turned up a notch, with more energy poured into the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

CERN scientists will be able to say whether or not the Higgs boson exists by November, after scientists crank up the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to smash streams of particles together at an intensity of four tera electronvolts (TeV) per beam, CERN head of communications James Gillies told ZDNet UK on Monday.

"One of the reasons [to increase beam intensity] is, if Higgs exists, we'll get data more quickly at 4 TeV," Gillies said. "It will also increase sensitivity to supersymmetry."

The Higgs boson is a hypothetical elementary particle, postulated to help explain mass under a set of theories known as the Standard Model of physics. Supersymmetry predicts a partner particle for every particle in the Standard Model. These particles could help deduce the mass of the Higgs boson. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 13th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 33.1 km (20.6 miles), the quake hit at 16:55:10 UTC Monday 13th February 2012
The epicenter was 171 km (106 miles) ESE of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Syria: The lies of the media — Do we ignore these people's statements?

Pakistanis protest U.S. drone strikes

Feb 13 - Hundreds of tribesmen rally in northwestern Pakistan's Bannu against U.S. drone strikes in the region. Travis Brecher reports.

Suspect arrested in death of U.S. student in Spain

Madrid (CNN) -- The death of an American college student last month, which investigators in Barcelona initially considered to be accidental, is now under investigation as a homicide and a suspect has been arrested, the Catalan regional police said in a statement.

A 41-year-old Ecuadorian man has been arrested in the Esplugues de Llobregat suburb of Barcelona, according to the police statement released Saturday. The body of 20-year-old Dartmouth College student Crispin Scott was found January 7 in the same suburb.

Scott was on a study-abroad program in Barcelona that was run by Oregon's Portland State University, Charles Inman, the coordinator of the program, told CNN on Monday by telephone from Barcelona.

A judge has ordered the case sealed. Police did not provide the suspect's name. Read More

Greece from Middle Class to Soup Kitchens

Danny Abdul Dayem, is alive and well and has escaped Syria

NASA camera tracks rolling boulder

You would be forgiven for thinking that this solitary boulder on the Moon had recently rolled down a sloping wall, leaving a track behind it.

But NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) is able to zoom in so closely that it is possible to see craters along the route of the 9-meter boulder, which is thought to have bounced off the rim of the Schiller crater.

The tracks are in almost perfect condition and it looks as though this journey has just happened. Read More

Dara Lee Watson: Search for accountant, 30, who disappeared after argument with fiance is called off two days after he is found dead

The search for a 30-year-old accountant who went missing after an argument with her fiance has been called off after investigators found no leads in a forest where her burnt-out SUV was found.

Dara Lee Watson was reported missing on Friday, just hours before her fiance David Hedrick, 34, was found dead in their Mount Pleasant, South Carolina home by police officers.

Neighbours had reported hearing loud bangs before the business owner's body was found.

Hedrick had previously told Mount Pleasant police officers the pair had argued on Monday night and Watson had left their home on Tuesday morning, and he had not seen her since.

Police found Hedrick dead inside the home on Saturday at 12.45 a.m. The coroner's office will not confirm how he died, telling WCIV the incident is under investigation. Read More

E.coli discovered Stored in apartment in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Vials of 'medical-grade' E.coli bacteria which were found in the fridge of an apartment have been safely removed, authorities have confirmed.

Marked 'E.coli', the 25 containers were found in a foam box inside the refrigerator by a maintenance man cleaning out the unit in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Officials from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were called in and the Arkansas National Guard hazardous material crew spent most of Friday afternoon and night safely removing the bacteria from the apartment.

Marty Hamrick, fire battalion chief, said vials were of medical-grade quality but there wasn't enough danger for officials to evacuate the complex, it was reported.

He told the Jonesboro Sun that firefighters washed their boots and equipment as a precaution, while they were dealing with the incident. Read More

Ali Dizaei a Scotland Yard commander jailed AGAIN for Corruption

Britain's most controversial police chief was returned to jail today after being found guilty of corruption for a second time.

Scotland Yard commander Ali Dizaei will never wear police uniform again after being convicted unanimously at his retrial of misconduct and perverting the course of justice.

He received a three-year prison sentence at London's Southwark Crown Court today, although this will be reduced by the 15 months he has already spent behind bars.

Dizaei was first convicted of framing Waad al-Baghdadi in a street row in 2010 - but he walked out of Leyhill open prison a year later after the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction.

Guilty verdicts for a second time mean there is now no way back for the senior officer, who created a web of lies to cover his tracks. Source

Wesley Shermantine: US Serial Killer's Map Leads To More Remains

More than 300 human bones have been found in a well after a serial killer revealed the burial spot of at least 10 more of his victims.

Skull fragments, as well as clothes, a purse and jewellery, were discovered by police after they were drawn a map by death row inmate Wesley Shermantine.

The remains were found 45 feet deep in the well on an abandoned cattle ranch near Linden, California.

Shermantine and childhood friend Loren Herzog became known as the “Speed Freak Killers” for a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree that claimed as many as 15 lives.

Victims were often strangers who were raped and then shot or stabbed to death, prosecutors said. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA, INDONESIA - 13th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Banda Sea. Indonesia at a depth of 31.6 km (19.6 miles), the quake hit at 14:47:04 UTC Monday 13th February 2012
The epicenter was 215 km (133 miles) ESE of Baubau, Sulawesi, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Western Troops 'Unlikely' In Syria



William Hague has said Western troops are unlikely to join the peacekeeping mission in Syria, despite saying he backs the idea of a joint Arab League-UN plan.

The Arab League's calls for a joint UN peacekeeping force for Syria are unlikely to be heeded so long as Russia and China continue with their policy of no outside interference in Syrian affairs. Read More

Israel envoys 'target of attacks' in India and Georgia

An explosion hit an embassy car in Delhi, injuring one diplomat. Police said there had been an "incident" but could not confirm an attack.

Israeli and Georgian officials said a bomb had been found beneath a diplomat's car in Tbilisi but was found and defused before it could go off.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was behind the two incidents.

"In all those cases, the elements behind these attacks were Iran and its protege Hezbollah," he told a meeting of his Likud party members of parliament. Read More


Israel links Iran, Hezbollah to embassy bombers

(Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel's arch-foe Iran "stands behind" bombers who targeted Israeli embassy cars in India and Georgia on Monday.

Netanyahu linked the incidents to reports of foiled attacks in Thailand and Azerbaijan last month for which, he said, Iran and its Lebanese guerrilla "proxy" Hezbollah were responsible.

"Iran, which stands behind these attacks, is the largest exporter of terror in the world," Netanyahu said, addressing his Likud party faction in parliament. Source