Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Photoessay of Greek Riots, Destruction





Greek MPs last night voted in favour of a controversial austerity bill as rioters again took to the streets and set buildings alight.

The punishing cuts to wages and pensions are fiercely stoking tensions in the near-bankrupt country.

Yet if the bill was not passed, Greece would have been denied a £110billion EU bailout package and finally run out of money. Read More

An India-China Military Conflict? Part-I

There have been projections among some Indian experts and think tanks that a limited Chinese attack along the unresolved Sino-Indian border may be imminent. This view cannot be totally faulted. They are based on China's aggressive official and semi-official postures and warning to India, especially on the sovereignty of Tawang, an important Buddhist pilgrim town in India's north-east state of Arunachal Pradesh.

China claims officially the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory. The official Chinese media, have started referring to Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet. This is a very important shift in China's nomenclature of Arunachal Pradesh. This is an effort to now make this Indian state a historical part of Tibet which China militarily occupied in 1950. With India among other countries in the world having acknowledged the original Tibet as a sovereign part of China, extension of Tibet to Arunachal Pradesh may give China an opening into its sovereignty claim on Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing believes it as another instrument to pressure India.

Although historically and according to international law China's claim on Tibet is legally tenuous and questionable, the political and economic importance of China have won them the battle. Read More

Mortgage Settlement as Attorney General Sellout: Deal is Not Done, and Final Version Guaranteed to be Worse Than Advertised

You know it’s bad when banks are the most truthful guys in the room.

Remember that historical mortgage settlement deal that was the lead news story on Thursday? It has been widely depicted as a done deal. The various AGs who had been holdouts said their concerns had been satisfied.

But in fact, Bank of America’s press release said that the deal was “agreements in principle” as opposed to a final agreement. The Charlotte bank had to be more precise than politicians because it is subject to SEC regulations about the accuracy of its disclosures. And if you read the template for the AG press release carefully, you can see how it finesses where the pact stands. And today, American Banker confirmed that the settlement pact is far from done, and the details will be kept from the public as long as possible, until it is filed in Federal court (because it includes injunctive relief, a judge must bless the agreement).

This may not sound all that important to laypeople, but most negotiators and attorneys will react viscerally to how negligent the behavior of the AGs has been. The most common reaction among lawyers I know who been with white shoe firms (including former partners) is “shocking”. Let me explain why.

Negotiating of large, complex deals (or even little deals) does not happen in one fell swoop. Even when the two sides have outlined the major terms, and in sone cases hammered out the really important ones in some detail, there is still a great deal of negotiating that takes place in finalizing the text of the contract. Read More

Greece 'a breath away from ground zero', PM warns

Greece is a "a breath away from ground zero", Prime Minister Lucas Papademos warned as he urged politicians to back an unpopular international bailout on Sunday that may have to be raised to €145bn to save the country from collapse.

He told the nation in a televised address on Saturday that a rejection of the deal today would lead to “uncontrollable economic chaos and social explosion”.

“This agreement will decide the country’s future,” he said. “We are just a breath away from ground zero.”

Amid scenes of continued mounting social unrest, politicians must today decide whether to sign off fresh austerity measures demanded by the country’s international lenders in order to release a second €130bn aid package to Athens.

The rescue must be secured by March 20 in order to stave off bankruptcy. It is on that date that the Greek government has to pay back €14.5bn of its debt to holders of its bonds. Read More

Could NATO get pulled into Syrian intervention by Turkey under the collective defense initiative?

One of the most fundamental principles of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the principle of collective defense, wherein an armed attack on a NATO Ally constitutes an attack against all members of the alliance.

This concept could possibly be utilized by Turkey in the event of a large stream of refugees departing from Syria to Turkey in order for Ankara to call upon NATO to come to their defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

This possibility was outlined in a recent article published in Turkey’s Sunday’s Zaman, in which it is said that the political will of NATO members will be the decisive factor in whether or not Article 5 is invoked in a situation where Turkey is not able to handle a refugee crisis without outside assistance. Read More

Anonymous vows ‘crusade’ against Israel

Online collective Anonymous has pledged a “crusade” against Israel. Claiming the country is committing “crimes against humanity” and gearing for “nuclear holocaust”, the group promised a campaign against the Israeli government.

In their statement issued early on Friday, Anonymous accused Israeli leaders of creating false democracy, serving the interests of a “select few” while “trampling the liberties of the masses.” The group said that Israel manipulates public opinion with a combination of “media deception” and “political bribery”.

Addressing the Israeli leaders, Anonymous stated that their “Zionist bigotry” is to blame for killings and displacements, adding that “as the world weeps” they are planning their “next attack”. The group pledged not to allow the attack to happen. Read More

Belarus supplies weapons to Darfur

Weapons from China, Russia and Belarus are fueling are fuelling serious human rights violations in Sudan's Darfur region.

It was stated in a report by Amnesty International.

In this situation, human rights defenders call on governments to strengthen the existing ineffectual UN embargo on arms supplies to war-torn Sudan and agree an effective Arms Trade Treaty, Radio Svaboda reports.

In a report Sudan: No end to violence in Darfur, The Amnesty International refers to UN documents and reveals how China, Russia and Belarus “continue to supply weapons and munitions to Sudan despite compelling evidence that the arms will be used against civilians in Darfur”. Read More

Brazil readies 14.000 troops in case Rio de Janeiro police strike extends

Brazil prepared to deploy troops on the streets of Rio de Janeiro on Friday, as a strike by the state's police force threatened to disrupt upcoming carnival festivities and raised new questions about security before the 2014 World Cup.

The strike, for higher wages, began early Friday and follows an ongoing walkout by police in the north-eastern state of Bahia. There, police stopped work on January 31, unleashing a crime wave with more than 150 homicides, looting, and vandalism mostly concentrated in the capital city of Salvador.

In Rio, the police job action is not expected to cause similar chaos because strike leaders agreed to a minimum level of service despite the protests.

However, the willingness of Brazil's police to stage walkouts when they are most needed has unsettled many and called into question the overall state of preparedness in a country with increasing first-world ambitions. Read More

Argentina Accuses Britain of Sending Nukes to Falklands

UNITED NATIONS – Argentina upped the rhetoric in its long-running dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands, accusing the British navy of sending nuclear missiles to the South Atlantic.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman lodged a formal protest Friday at the United Nations over the alleged increased British military presence in the region, saying that country has brought nuclear submarines to the waters off Argentina’s coast on several occasions in recent years.

Timerman, who said Argentina wants to resolve the dispute through dialogue, accused Britain of violating the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean and refusing to “give explanations” for its actions.

“The information Argentina has is that they have introduced nuclear weapons into the South Atlantic and it’s not the first time,” Timerman said at a press conference.

He said Britain sent a nuclear submarine to the region “in the context of the recent British military deployment in Malvinas,” the Argentines’ name for the archipelago.

The foreign minister lodged the protest with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the rotating president of the Security Council, Togo’s Kodjo Menan, and the president of the General Assembly, Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. Read More

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF OREGON - 15th Feb 2012

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck off the Coast of Oregon at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 03:21:20 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 256 km (159 miles) West of Coos Bay, Oregon
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 15th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 316.5 km (196.7 miles), the quake hit at 01:49:36 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 207 km (128 miles) Northeast of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the Central Mid-Atlantic Ridge at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:39:16 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 632 km (392 miles) Northeast of Fernando de Noronha, Pernambuco, Brazil
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

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

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 29.7 km (18.5 miles), the quake hit at 22:55:23 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 131 km (81 miles) Southeast of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA REGION - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Vancouver Island, Canada Region at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 22:54:40 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 191 km (118 miles) SSW of Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

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

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 18.6 km (11.6 miles), the quake hit at 22:34:39 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 108 km (67 miles) ESE of Mito, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF PANAMA - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck South of Panama at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 21:46:24 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 320 km (198 miles) South of David, Panama
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake GREECE - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Greece at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 21:45:59 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 11 km (6.8 miles) Northeast of Sárti, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

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

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 35.6 km (22.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:15:13 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 96 km (59 miles) SSE of Mito, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Bonin Islands, Japan at a depth of 15.2 km (9.4 miles), the quake hit at 18:24:27 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 155 km (96 miles) ESE of Chichi-shima, Bonin Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Eurozone leaders 'call off Greece crisis talks'

The head of the eurozone countries has downgraded an eurozone finance ministers meeting on Wednesday, saying Greece has not yet given the necessary assurances about its austerity plan.

Ministers, who had demanded Greece find an extra 325m euros of savings, had been set to meet in Brussels.

But Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said the talks would be replaced by a conference call.

He said technical work with Greece was still needed "in a number of areas".

Finance ministers had not received assurances from leaders of Greek political parties on a programme of proposed cuts, Mr Juncker was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 26.6 km (16.5 miles), the quake hit at 18:07:55 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 131 km (81 miles) WSW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake COSTA RICA - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Costa Rica at a depth of 22.1 km (13.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:46:08 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 80 km (49 miles) South from SAN JOSE, Costa Rica
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Kendall L. Reid extradited from New Jersey after Kenner drive-by shooting (because he apologized for shooting the wrong car... to the driver)

One of Kenner's Most Wanted fugitives, a LaPlace man accused of firing a gunshot at a car on Interstate 10 on Christmas Eve, was held under $250,000 bond Monday after being arrested in New Jersey and extradited to Louisiana. Kendall L. Reid, 36, of 120 Bedford faces charges of assault/driveby shooting and aggravated criminal damage to property.

No one was injured in the attack, in which Reid allegedly shot out a window of a car carrying two Hammond women while aiming for another vehicle, said Lt. Wayne McInnis, Kenner Police Department spokesman.

The women, ages 39 and 27, were eastbound on I-10 between the Loyola Drive and Williams Boulevard when they passed a white vehicle that was swerving on the road. They heard a loud "bang" or "pop" and saw that their back window had been shattered, McInnis said.

They pulled over to the side of the highway, and a man, later identified as Reid, stopped his red Corvette in front of them, McInnis said. He exited his car, approached the women and said, "Sorry, wrong car."

He then got back into his vehicle and continued driving east.

Police traced his license plate, and one of the victims identified Reid's picture from a photographic lineup, McInnis said. more

Thomas Haigh who gunned down two IRA enforcers who wanted him to become a drugs-mule is jailed for life

A former cage-fighter who gunned down two gangland enforcers linked to an IRA drugs gang has been jailed for life.

Drugs mule Thomas Haigh, 26, killed David Griffiths and Brett Flournoy on a remote Cornish farm because they were demanding he go to Brazil for a second time and bring back cocaine.

He has been told he must serve a minimum of 35 years for the shootings.

Accomplice Ross Stone, 28, was cleared of the men's murders, but will serve five years after admitting helping dispose of the men.

He burned the bodies before burying them in their van following the shooting at his home, Sunny Corner Farm, in Trenance Downs near St Austell. Read More

Iranian bomber blows off his legs in Bangkok as grenade he hurled at police bounces off tree and explodes at his feet

A bungling Iranian bomber blew off his own legs when he hurled a grenade at Thai police outside a Bangkok school - which bounced off a tree and then exploded at his feet.

A bizarre sequence of explosions in the capital of Bangkok started this morning when a stash of explosives blew off the roof of a house occupied by three Iranians.

Two of the men quickly ran away while Saeid Moradi, who was seriously wounded, staggered out and tried to wave down a taxi.

Covered in blood, the driver refused to take him, and so he hurled a grenade at the vehicle. When police arrived on the scene he then tried to throw another at officers - but it bounced off a tree, landed at his feet, and blew off his legs. Read More

'US backs Al-Qaeda to mutually destroy Syria'

15,000 elite Iranian special-ops 'head' to Syria

'Six More Dead' In Intense Homs Shelling



At least six people have died in the besieged Syrian city of Homs after it came under renewed attack by regime forces, according to pro-democracy activists.

Rami Abdel Rahman of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: "Six civilians died in the continuous shelling of Baba Amr neighbourhood this morning.

"The shelling began at dawn and is the most intense in five days." Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEGROS- CEBU REGION, PHILIPPINES - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Negros - Cebu Region, Philippines at a depth of 50 km (31 miles), the quake hit at 15:40:06 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 8 km (5 miles) Southeast of Padre Zamora, Negros, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

U.S. carrier enters Strait of Hormuz...Nothing to do with Tensions with Iran

Feb 14 - U.S. carrier USS Abraham Lincoln sails through the Strait of Hormuz near the Iranian coast, but an official says this has nothing to do with tensions with Iran.

Yemeni attacker dies in grenade explosion

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- A man attempting to attack a voting center in the southern town of Crater died Tuesday when the grenade he was handling blew up in his hands, Yemeni security officials said.

The unidentified assailant was the only one harmed in the attack, which appeared to be an effort to derail the country's upcoming presidential voting, according to three security officials who could not be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Residents in Crater told CNN that the man had been asking people for directions to the voting center in the hour prior to the attack.

The incident, which remains under investigation, prompted authorities to raise security alerts and put up checkpoints on main roads in Aden.

Voting to replace President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's longtime ruler, begins February 21 under terms of a power transfer deal signed by Saleh after months of violent unrest seeking his ouster. Read More

3 dead, two dozen wounded in Iraq explosions

Baghdad (CNN) -- Gunmen assassinated an Iraqi army general on Tuesday in one of several incidents that left at least four people dead and 28 wounded, according to government officials.

Gen. Aziz Hamzah died after being attacked while driving in western Baghdad, Iraqi police said.

In the other incidents, two roadside bombs exploded in Baghdad on Tuesday, one in the al-Mashtal neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad and the other in the al-Bayaa neighborhood in the southwestern part of the city.

Six people were injured in the al-Mashtal explosion, police said. Two suffered injuries in the al-Bayaa bombing

In addition, gunmen fired on a Health Ministry official in the al-Dora district of southern Baghdad, police said. The official was wounded, police said. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 132.4 km (82.3 miles), the quake hit at 14:20:19 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 366 km (228 miles) ESE from Attu Station, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake TARAPACA, CHILE - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Tarapaca, Chile at a depth of 126.1 km (78.4 miles), the quake hit at 14:08:40 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 93 km (57 miles) ESE of Tacna, Peru
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake GREECE - 14th Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Greece at a depth of 17.1 km (10.6 miles), the quake hit at 13:21:45 UTC Tuesday 14th February 2012
The epicenter was 1 km (0.6 miles) East of Zakynthos, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Third common dolphin dies in South Jersey, after beaching in Stafford Township

A common dolphin found stranded but alive Monday in Barnegat Bay died soon after it was removed from the beach, making it the third dolphin death in recent days.

Two other dolphins died this weekend, one in the Delaware Bay in Lower Township, the other in the Venetian Bayou Lagoon in Ocean City.

Examinations have been scheduled for all three dolphins to determine whether their deaths are related to a mass stranding last month in Cape Cod, Mass., Marine Mammal Stranding Center Director Bob Schoelkopf said.

The Stranding Center in Brigantine had tried to save the dolphin, Schoelkopf said.

The Ocean City dolphin is believed to be a juvenile, perhaps the calf of a common dolphin seen swimming freely in the lagoon Friday. No dolphins were seen in the lagoon Monday.

The dead animals were trucked to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine in New Bolton, Pa. A spokeswoman at the lab said getting results from the necropsies - the animal equivalent of autopsies - could take a week or more. Read More

Horrific images show how ocean debris is maiming and killing seals and sea lions


The devastating effects of debris on sea lions and seals has been highlighted in a video by fishing authorities in Alaska.

Horrific images show the marine animals with their necks tightly bound and cut with bands and fishing nets and others with fishing lures hanging from their mouths.

In one of the more gruesome images a dead sea lion can be seen pinned by her flippers in a windsock, which led to her drowning.

It is thought that many of the animals become trapped in plastic bands when they are young.

But as they get older and grow, the bands slowly cut into their bodies, which can lead to strangulation.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released the video to highlight the effects of fishing gear and other debris on the animals. Read More

Hanford Nuclear Reservation; Small Radiation Leak Contained - Washington

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers say they have contained a few drips of radioactive condensation found near a waste container. Federal Department of Energy officials say the contamination did not get off site, and is not a danger to workers at the southeast Washington facility.

The condensation slipped down a 12-foot-high steel and concrete container in central Hanford. That box holds radioactive waste dug up from Cold War-era trenches. It's destined for a long-term storage facility in New Mexico.

Last week, someone doing routine monitoring recorded some gamma radiation from the area. The Department of Energy has applied a fixative to drips to prevent any of the radioactive particles from moving or becoming airborne.

"Our job is to make sure that the waste is stored safely and to test it all the time to make sure we are not seeing anything out the ordinary," says Cameron Hardy, a spokesman for the Department of Energy. "So this is a very routine thing for us to do and everything got taken care of." Read More