Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gambling Operations Win as Crisis Bites, South Korea

The Korea Racing Authority predicts that this year's horse racing revenues will grow by 13 percent to W7.4 trillion from last year as people dream of the jackpot in difficult economic times. An official at Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries explained that the increase is part of a balloon effect where people flock to horse racing due to a crackdown on illegal gambling parlors.

Casino Kangwon Land is also seeing a boom. Revenues until September this year rose by 9.6 percent from last year, and the trend did not stop with the financial crisis in October. "VIP revenues decreased slightly but an increasing number of people gamble standing up because there are not enough seats," a spokesman for the casino said. He said revenue growth will "easily" reach 10 percent by the end of year. Lotto sales are up since November.

Some W44 billion worth of tickets are selling nationwide, a 7 percent jump from the same period of last year. Sportstoto's revenues from its foreign sports lottery sales have increased a whopping 48 percent from last year. Read More

3.95 Million Gambling Addicts Have Nowhere to Turn: South Korea

Gambling addiction is becoming a serious social problem. According to a 2008 study by the Korea Culture & Tourism Institute, 9.5 percent of Korean adults had experienced trouble as a result of their gambling addiction.

That translates into 3.95 million who are addicted to gambling. Among them, 7.2 percent were classified as "serious" addicts who need immediate attention and 2.3 percent or around 870,000 people were "problematic" cases needing medical treatment.

Korea's prevalence rate compares to 2.9 percent in Canada, 2.4 percent in Australia and 4.1 percent in Singapore. It is even higher than the 6.4 percent in the U.S. state of Nevada, which includes Las Vegas.

"There is a strong tendency in our society to think of casinos and horse racing as ways to make money rather than leisure activities," said Cho Hyun-seob, head of the Korea Prevention and Cure Center for Gambling Problem. Another problem is the proliferation of illegal gambling sites on the Internet and off-line gambling parlors. "Many people, both men and women, become habituated to gambling through the Internet," said Park Eun-kyung, a counselor at the center. Read More

UK: Although the age of consent is 16, the state colludes in pumping younger teenagers full of contraceptive hormones

It used to be that schools were institutions in which one learnt to read, write and wield a hockey stick. Now, at least in nine schools in Southampton, school is also the place where 13-year-old girls can be fitted with contraceptive implants without their parents’ knowledge.

The implant is a plastic tube that continuously releases hormones that prevent pregnancy, and requires a minor surgical procedure to insert it beneath the skin. Its effectiveness lasts for three years: in the case of a 13-year-old, just long enough to bump her neatly up to the age of consent.

Ah yes, the age of consent. Remember that? It currently stands at 16, which makes it illegal to have sex with anyone under that age. If a boy has sex with a girl between the ages of 13 and 15, he could theoretically go to prison for two years, and if she is under 13, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment. In such cases I presume that the name of the boy concerned would be entered on the sex offenders register, and seriously damage the remainder of his life. Read More

Video games 'more creative than reading'

Middle-class parents should not be afraid of letting their children play computer games because the experience is more creative than reading, one of the country's leading playwrights claimed yesterday.

Lucy Prebble, who is best known for her financial satire Enron, attacked the popular stereotype of teenage gamers as "chubby automatons" who spend their days shooting virtual enemies and eating crisps.

The award-winning writer said playing video games requires more involvement and creative input than reading a book or watching a film - and also offers more opportunities to be active and sociable.

Rather than being vilified, video games should be recognised as an art form appreciated for the way they tugged at our emotions and stimulated creativity, Prebble said.

She warned that a "middle-class terror" of raising fat and idle children has led to an unfair perception of gamers as sedentary, adding that fears about the violent content of some games are patronising and misguided. Read More

Where do all the stolen motorcycles go?

Bike thefts have dropped to about 22,000 per year, but at least half are never recovered.

I owned a beautiful Triumph 650cc Bonneville for three weeks before it was stolen. Recently I saw one similar to it, which made me wonder where all the old stolen bikes that are never found end up.

Research in Police National Computer (PNC) archives, Home Office documents, rider group statistics and information from insurance companies, ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service and general police records revealed that between 1971-81, nearly 45,000 motorcycles were annually reported stolen to the police and, to date, only half of them have been recovered.

There was a spike between 1981-91, culminating in 115,000 machines being recorded as stolen on the PNC in November 1991.

It was another decade of 30,000-40,000 motorcycles and scooters being reported stolen annually before it was no longer considered an epidemic. However, half of these machines would never be seen again. Read More

Would you eat food cooked over a volcano?

It would take a daring barbeque lover to look at a volcano and think, "I bet I could grill a nice steak on that sucker."

That thought has erupted into a tourist-attracting business on the Spanish island of Lanzarote.

El Diablo restaurant offers a range of items cooked over a volcano vent in Yaiza's Timanfaya National Park.

The park area is entirely made up of volcanic soil, and restaurant cooks the food by placing a cast-iron grill over a large hole in the ground, through which geothermal heat rises. Read More


How China May Use US Business for Intelligence Collection

“Chinese human-intelligence operations primarily rely on collecting a small amount of information from a large number of people”, said Peter Grier, “Spy case patterns the Chinese style of espionage”.

Although China has been suspected as having a long history of espionage in the U.S. in order to gain knowledge and insight about military and industrial secrets, in recent years the belief that the Chinese government is conducting espionage activities in other countries is becoming increasingly widespread.

According to an annual report made in 2009 to the U.S Congress by the China Economic and Security Review Commission, China’s espionage and cyber-attacks against the U.S. government and business organizations are now a major concern. Read More

Where Next for North Korea's Foreign Policy?

How will North Korea pursue foreign relations in the post-Kim Jong-il era? It is not an easy task to predict at a time when it remains uncertain exactly who will take power and through what process. But it is possible to estimate what policy choices North Korea will be given based on the behavior the Kim Jong-un regime has shown so far and from the responses of neighboring countries.

North Korea held talks with the U.S. over the resumption of the stalled six-party nuclear talks until just a few days before the announcement of Kim Jong-il's death on Dec. 19. During talks in Beijing on Dec. 15 and 16, the North apparently accepted Washington's requirements for the resumption of the six-party talks, including the freezing of its uranium enrichment facilities in Yongbyon and allowing the return of IAEA inspectors to verify this. In return, the U.S. is believed to have pledged 240,000 tons of nutritional supplements and other food aid to the North. Kim's death scuppered the deal, but the possibility has not disappeared completely. Read More

Teen Runaways a Main Source of School Violence

Juvenile school dropouts and runaways are emerging as a main source of school violence.

According to the National Police Agency, there were only 9,390 runaways between 14 and 19 until 2006 but their number crossed the 15,000 mark in 2008, and jumped to 20,438 last year.

Data released by nationwide education offices shows that 16,320 middle schoolchildren and 33,782 high school students had dropped out or been expelled from school as of February.

Many of them then run away from home and go completely outside the control of teachers or parents. Police believe that the easiest way for them to get money is to hang around near schools and beat up pupils and extort money from them.

"Many runaways and dropouts tend to use violence to rob students of money so they can support themselves," a police officer said. "They tend to become more violent now that they are out of school." Read More

Nearly 20% of Korean Salaried Workers Moonlighting in Attempt to Stay Afloat

About one out of five salaried workers has a second job, according to a recent survey of 1,074 salaried workers released by jobs website Incruit on Wednesday. The proportion of moonlighters has been rising steadily to 18.2 percent from 12.9 percent in 2008 and 15.5 percent last year.

When asked why they are working two jobs, most respondents or 49.2 percent said extra income, followed by self-improvement (12.3 percent), a preparatory step for opening their own business (11.3 percent), provision for retirement (10.3 percent), and hobby or recreational activities (7.2 percent).

Some 35.9 percent said the income from their second job amounts to between 11 and 20 percent of that from their main job, while 8.2 percent said it is as high as between 51 and 60 percent.

"Rather than jumping into a second job to make extra money quickly, prospective moonlighters should take a cautious approach, taking into consideration their heath, biorhythm, interests and skills," Incruit advised. Read More

Syrian Activists Claim 100 Deaths In One Day

Syrian activists say 100 people have been killed by government troops in a single day, as the Red Cross calls for ceasefires.

Women and children were among those killed, according to monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Local Coordination Committees said 100 had died in Homs and in raids on towns and villages in the province of Idlib, near Turkey.

Washington, which is preparing for a "Friends of Syria" meeting of Western and Arab states opposing President Bashar al Assad, declined to rule out eventually providing arms to rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Activists said the regime appeared to be sending infantry reinforcements including tanks to Homs, with the aim of storming rebel-held neighbourhoods. Read More

UN Nuclear Inspectors Barred From Iran Nuclear Site

UN nuclear inspectors have been stopped from visiting a key military site Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said its officials are now leaving the country after failing to reach a deal to inspect the Parchin military site, near Tehran.

"Intensive efforts were made to reach agreement on a document facilitating the clarification of unresolved issues in connection with Iran's nuclear programme," the IAEA said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, agreement was not reached on this document."

The team requested access both during this visit and during a first trip in January to the Parchin site where it believes explosives testing is being carried out.

"It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin during the first or second meetings," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in the statement.

Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was quoted by the Iranian news agency ISNA as saying the talks had been intensive and covered "cooperation and mutual understanding between Iran and the IAEA". Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN GREECE - 22nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Southern Greece at a depth of 15 km (9.3 miles), the quake hit at 02:23:16 UTC Wednesday 22nd February 2012
The epicenter was 1 km (0.6 miles) Southeast of Kr├ęstena, Greece
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 22nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 35 km (21.7 miles), the quake hit at 00:50:41 UTC Wednesday 22nd February 2012
The epicenter was 130 km (80 miles) West of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

2.9 Magnitude Earthquake OKLAHOMA - 22nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 2.9 earthquake has struck Oklahoma at a depth of 5.9 km (3.7 miles - Poorly Constrained), the quake hit at 00:30:34 UTC Wednesday 22nd February 2012
The epicenter was 23 km (14 miles) ENE of OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 22nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 544 km (338 miles), the quake hit at 00:07:47 UTC Wednesday 22nd February 2012
The epicenter was 245 km (152 miles) Southeast of Lambasa, Vanua Levu, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION - 21st Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Hokkaido, Japan at a depth of 54.1 km (33.6 miles), the quake hit at 20:35:42 UTC Tuesday 21st February 2012
The epicenter was 113 km (70 miles) ESE of Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake KASHMIR-XINJIANG BORDER REGION - 21st Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Kashmir-Xinjiang Border Region at a depth of 69.7 km (43.3 miles), the quake hit at 19:55:40 UTC Tuesday 21st February 2012
The epicenter was 199 km (123 miles) South of Shache, Xinjiang, China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake ASCENSION ISLAND REGION - 21st Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Ascension Island Region at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:40:59 UTC Tuesday 21st February 2012
The epicenter was 465 km (288 miles) Northeast of Ascension Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake - VANUATU

Scores of Civilians Killed in the past 24 Hours in Libya as Tribal Warfare Continues

JALO, Libya (AP) — Scores of civilians have been killed in the past 24 hours in tribal warfare in southern Libya, witnesses said on Tuesday.

Moussa Bazama, an ambulance worker driving north taking injured to the coast, said 50 people had been killed by the rockets, mortars and gunfire rocking residential areas in the desert town of Kufra. Hundreds of families are fleeing toward northern cities.

Phone and other communications to the remote region, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from Libya's main population centers on the coast, are sporadic.

For more than a week, the powerful Arab tribe of al-Zwia has clashed with the African Tabu tribe near Kufra, a border area where Libya, Chad and Sudan meet. The region is a hub for the smuggling of African migrants, goods and drugs.

The two groups are old rivals. The Tabu had long complained of discrimination under former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Since Feb. 11, the fight has descended into an all-out confrontation with other smaller Arab tribes joining al-Zwia against the Tabu, residents of the area say.

On Tuesday, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the leader of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council said that Gadhafi's regime loyalists are "seeding sedition" in Kufra but declined to elaborate on which of the tribes are connected to the former regime.

NTC leaders often blame problems in post-revolutionary Libya on remnants of Gadhafi's regime, usually without proof. Read More

Note: Seems the Media has plenty of Doubt and questions about the recent Version of events following the assassination of Gaddafi, but were not willing to question or investigate before his death....What changed?

Japan, U.S. near deal on Iran oil import cut

(Reuters) - Japan is close to agreement with Washington on the size of cuts refiners must make in imports of Iranian crude oil to win waivers from U.S. sanctions, two ministers said Tuesday after a media report the two sides would settle on an 11 percent cut.

The Yomiuri newspaper, citing unidentified sources, said Japan and the United States reached an agreement at talks last week about the size of cuts to crude imports from Iran, with a formal deal expected by the end of this month.

Avoiding sanctions is essential to protect the Japanese financial sector's operations abroad, but cutting oil imports could pose a risk to Japan's economy.

Reliance on oil imports has grown since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima radiation crisis, leading to most nuclear reactors at Japanese power plants being shut down.

"We are closely negotiating with the United States and are moving forward toward mutual understanding, but it is not the case that we have reached a conclusion," Trade Minister Yukio Edano told reporters.

Washington is pushing ahead with sanctions because it fears Iran might use its nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons. Read More

Red Cross seeks Syria ceasefires; more than 60 killed

(Reuters) - Syrian government forces killed more than 60 people on Tuesday in assaults on villages and an artillery barrage in the restive city of Homs, activists said, and the Red Cross called for daily ceasefires to let in urgently needed aid.

Activists said at least 30 people died in the bombardment of the Baba Amro neighborhood of Homs city, and at least 33 were killed when forces trying to crush opposition to President Bashar al-Assad stormed villages in northern Idlib province.

In Damascus, security forces opened fire on demonstrators overnight, wounding at least four, activists said. Violence in has hit the capital over the past week, undermining Assad's assertion that the 11-month-old uprising against his rule is limited to the provinces and the work of saboteurs.

Activist accounts of the violence could not be confirmed. The government bars most foreign journalists from Syria. Read More