Friday, March 2, 2012

Is Syria fated to be a second Bosnia?

f the guns have fallen silent in Homs, they have done so only in the sense described by the Roman historian Tacitus: “They created a wasteland and called it peace.” After a savage bombardment lasting more than three weeks, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces claimed to have subdued the city’s rebel-held areas yesterday. Their “victory” may prove illusory – experience suggests a futile sequence whereby the army moves on to suppress the next outbreak of unrest, while insurgents return behind its back.

The harsh reality is that Syria now risks an agonising descent into prolonged Bosnia-style blood-letting: an ethnic and religious civil war, in which each side’s allies (and co-religionists) channel arms and support to their proxies as the world wrings its hands on the sidelines. As during the turmoil in Yugoslavia, the world’s response is hampered by division and self-interest. And once again, beguiling but deeply flawed solutions are on offer: arm the rebels, say some, despite the fact that a European Union embargo bans any export of weapons to Syria and that the insurgents are an unknown quantity, with objectives and methods that we may profoundly oppose. Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese opposition has effectively ruled out a full-scale intervention to stop the slaughter. more

Spain planning to breach EU budget targets, warns prime minister Mariano Rajoy

Mariano Rajoy, prime minister of Spain, said the budget deficit would be 5.8pc of GDP in 2012 - more than 30pc higher than the 4.4pc target agreed by Brussels.

In a move that was heralded in Spain as defiance against the German-led austerity drive, Mr Rajoy said he had decided to set a new target rather than extract €44bn (£36.6bn) from the budget at a time of economic crisis. Mr Rajoy said it was now a "sensible and reasonable" target. "This is a sovereign decision made by Spaniards," he said.

Spain's appeals to Brussels to relax the targets have been rebuffed in recent days. The European Commission has reportedly insisted on investigating the reasons for Spain missing its previous targets first.

At the EU summit in Brussels this week, leaders said the targets were non-negotiable. Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt said: "The first thing that we do after the new rules [on budget stability] should not be to relax them."

Mr Rajoy insisted the slippage was just on an interim target and Spain would still honour its commitment to bringing its deficit down to 3pc of GDP by 2013. But the announcement was seen as rebuffing other European leaders since the figures do not have to be confirmed until April. more

8 dead as 'enormous outbreak' of tornadoes tears through U.S.



A powerful severe storm system moved across the United States on Friday, spawning a slew of tornadoes from Alabama to Indiana that contributed to at least eight fatalities and threatened even more death and destruction as the night wore on.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Gordon reported Friday afternoon the agency had about "half a dozen reports of tornadoes on the ground," as well as reports of "significant damage," his comments coming before some of the worst twisters were reported in Kentucky and Indiana.

"This is an enormous outbreak that's going on right now across Kentucky and the South," Gordon said. "It's crazy. It's just nuts right here." more

Aid trucks turned away from Syrian neighborhood amid reports of executions (But is it true?)



A day after Syrian forces overran the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, opposition groups said Friday that government forces had executed 14 civilians there and the Red Cross said an aid convoy seeking to deliver food and medical care was turned back.

"It is unacceptable that people who have been in need of emergency assistance for weeks have still not received any help," said International Committee of the Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger. "We are staying in Homs tonight in the hope of entering Baba Amr in the very near future. In addition, many families have fled Baba Amr, and we will help them as soon as we possibly can."

Amid claims by opposition groups that Syrian officials were keeping aid workers out of Baba Amr to conceal atrocities, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture and called for an immediate end to the violence and for humanitarian aid agencies to be granted unfettered access.

Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, said his government has been the victim of "extremely virulent rhetoric" based on "hearsay" from the opposition.

"We are not claiming that the situation in those regions is perfect; we do not deny that there has been a deterioration in the quality of services provided by the state in those regions, but the primary reason for this is the armed attacks," he said, alluding to repeated government assertions that foreign terrorists are behind the violence. more

Killer Bacteria which caused the Death of 3 Babies in Belfast has been found at the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital

More tests are to be carried out at the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital following the discovery of a bacteria blamed for 3 babies' deaths in Belfast.

Higher than normal levels of Pseudomonas have been found in the water supply of the intensive care unit for babies.

No child is showing any signs of infection, hospital managers said. Source

AFP Ocean acidification may be worst in 300 million years

WASHINGTON — High levels of pollution may be turning the planet's oceans acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the past 300 million years, with unknown consequences for future sea life, researchers said Thursday.

The acidification may be worse than during four major mass extinctions in history when natural pulses of carbon from asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions caused global temperatures to soar, said the study in the journal Science.

An international team of researchers from the United States, Britain, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands examined hundreds of paleoceanographic studies, including fossils wedged in seafloor sediment from millions of years ago.

They found only one time in history that came close to what scientists are seeing today in terms of ocean life die-off -- a mysterious period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum about 56 million years ago.

Though the reason for the carbon upsurge back then remains a source of debate, scientists believe that the doubling of harmful emissions drove up global temperatures by about six degrees Celsius and caused big losses of ocean life.

Oceans are particularly vulnerable because they soak up excess carbon dioxide from the air which turns the waters more acidic, a state that can kill corals, mollusks and other forms of reef and shell organisms.

"We know that life during past ocean acidification events was not wiped out -- new species evolved to replace those that died off," said lead author Barbel Honisch, a paleoceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Read More

Scores Are Killed as Pakistan Battles Militant Groups

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Gunfights, military airstrikes and a large suicide bombing on Friday killed as many as 70 people in the tribal agencies bordering Peshawar, the provincial capital of northwestern Pakistan, in some of the worst violence in months in a strategic corner of the country.

In Khyber Agency, along the border with Afghanistan, a suicide bomber set off an explosion at the gates of a militant base, killing 23 people and wounding at least three others, said the local administrator, Mutahirzeb Khan. Many of those killed belonged to Lashkar-e-Islam, a local militant group that has imposed Taliban-style strictures on the local population.

Lashkar-e-Islam itself had been on the offensive only hours earlier, with a pre-dawn assault by dozens of fighters on a Pakistani military post, Mr. Khan said. That attack killed ten soldiers and wounded three, he said.

A senior security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said that 23 militants were also killed in the fighting, but that could not be independently confirmed. Read More

Mediterranean fish under threat from gruesome 'Alien' parasite which eats their tongues then lives in their mouths

A gruesome ‘Alien-like’ parasite which eats the tongues of bream and then 'replaces' them in its victims mouths is spreading in the Mediterranean.

Almost half the fish in some areas are infected with the parasite, which swims in through the gills of young fish, then takes up position on top of the tongue, feeding on blood and growing.

Researchers found that the 'cerathotoa italica' parasite - named 'Betty' by the scientists - is spreading fastest in heavily fished waters.

Though the parasite poses no risk to humans, it stunts the growth of the fish, and lowers their life expectancy.

The researchers found that 'Betty' thrived in overfished areas. In a protected area near Spain, only 30% of fish were infected - in heavily fished Italian waters, 47% had fallen victim to the parasite.

Dr Stefano Mariani of the University of Salford said: ‘This is further evidence that human over-exploitation of fish stocks has adverse and far-reaching effects. Areas with poor regulation have smaller, younger fish and, as we’ve now demonstrated, higher and more harmful parasite infestations.' Read More

Atlas Moth: Photographer meets FOOT-WIDE moth in the Himalayas

Imagine if this scary customer turned up in your wardrobe.

Meet the world's largest moth, known as Attacus or Atlas, as it serenely sits on a road in north-east India.

With its astonishing 25cm or one foot wingspan, Sandesh Kadur was heading straight for this giant insect as he drove round the bend in the heart of the eastern Himalayas.

Mr Kadur, who described the moth as 'ginormous', admitted it looked like it was about to attack him as it opened its wings and took a defensive position.

Putting aside his fear he ushered it to the side of the road and then began to photograph it.

But anyone who comes across one in Asia should not be scared as it is completely harmless, despite its gigantic size.

Atlas moths are named after the intricate, colourful map-like patterns on their wings. Read More

Tornadoes strike northeast Alabama



(CNN) -- Residents in northeast Alabama assessed the damage Friday caused by at least two apparent tornadoes in the area, including blows to a high school and a prison.

There were no immediate reports of injuries at either Buckhorn High School in Madison County or the Limestone County Correctional Facility in an adjacent county.

But there was widespread damage in Madison County, according to the National Weather Service, and some injuries were reported, according to a local ambulance service.

The storm brought golf-ball-size hail, strong winds and rain into the two northeast Alabama counties before continuing on a northeastward path into Tennessee.

"The key thing that let me know it was serious was the loud wind," said Hovet Dixon of Harvey, Alabama. "It almost seemed like it was trying to lift my roof off." Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN XIZANG (TIBET), CHINA - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Western Xizang (Tibet), China at a depth of 15 km (9.3 miles), the quake hit at 17:12:33 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 184 km (114 miles) NNW of Lumaringbo, Xizang (Tibet), China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Syria: Aid Blocked Amid 'Revenge Killings'


The Syrian government has blocked the Red Cross from entering the stricken Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr amid reports of revenge killings by government forces.


A convoy of seven trucks loaded with emergency medical aid, blankets and food has been attempting to reach the area since early on Friday.

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was "unacceptable" that the relief operation had been halted by the Syrian authorities which had originally pledged to allow access.

Local activists claim government troops have been going from house to house inside Baba Amr arresting young men. Read More

Marie Colvin's Body Released to the Red Cross

The bodies of Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and a French photographer have been handed over to the Red Cross by Syrian authorities.

Ms Colvin and Remi Ochlik were killed in a rocket attack in the besieged Baba Amr area of the city of Homs last week.

The charity said the bodies were en route to the Syrian capital.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokeswoman said: "We have been in touch with The Sunday Times and they are making arrangements for repatriation with the relevant authorities."

Meanwhile, two French journalists who were smuggled out of Syria have arrived in France after being trapped for nine days in the war-torn country.

Edith Bouvier, 31, who was injured, and William Daniels were caught up in the Syrian government's siege of a rebel-held neighbourhood in Homs.

More to follow...

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 168.4 km (104.6 miles), the quake hit at 16:48:31 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 36 km (22 miles) North of Little Sitkin Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 195 km (121.2 miles), the quake hit at 16:48:25 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 384 km (238 miles) ESE from Attu Station, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Obama Responds to Heckler: 'As president of the United States, I don't bluff,' Obama says to Iran



WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama warned that he is not bluffing about attacking Iran if it builds a nuclear weapon, but in an interview published Friday, Obama also warned U.S. ally Israel that a premature attack on Iran would do more harm than good.


In his most expansive remarks on the issue thus far, Obama told The Atlantic magazine that Iran and Israel both understand that "a military component" is among a mix of many options for dealing with Iran, along with sanctions and diplomacy. That is the most direct threat he has issued during months of escalating tension with Iran over its disputed nuclear development program.

His comments appeared aimed more at Israel and its supporters in the United States than at Iran. Obama addresses the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday and meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday at the White House. Netanyahu will also address AIPAC.

"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff," he said in the interview. "I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake MINAHASA, SULAWESI, INDONESIA - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia at a depth of 145.4 km (90.4 miles), the quake hit at 16:00:28 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 84 km (52 miles) Southeast of Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

NASA Laptop Stolen With Command Codes That Control Space Station

NASA’s inspector general revealed in congressional testimony that a space agency computer was stolen last year with the command codes to control the International Space Station.

In a statement given to a House committee on the security challenges facing NASA, Paul K. Martin said that an unencrypted NASA computer stolen last year was one of 48 taken between April 2009 and April 2011.

“The March 2011 theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook computer resulted in the loss of algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station,” Martin said in his written testimony. “Other lost or stolen notebooks contained Social Security numbers and sensitive data on NASA’s Constellation and Orion programs.” more

Kenneth J. Konias: Killed fellow armoured truck security guard then dashes with $2,000,000

A Dravosburg man killed his fellow security guard, stole more than $2 million from their armored vehicle after picking up money at a casino, visited his parents' home, then took off, authorities said on Wednesday.

"Our belief is that he planned to rob the company, and if he had to kill a guard, he planned to do that," said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. "He shot the guy from close range in the back of the head. That's pretty cold-blooded."

As the manhunt continued, Pittsburgh police charged Kenneth J. Konias Jr., 22, with homicide, robbery and theft in the heist and killing of armored truck guard Michael Haines, 31, of East McKeesport.

Shortly after the slaying, Konias phoned a friend and admitted he killed someone, saying he had enough money so they could both live the rest of their lives without working, the criminal complaint states.

"Konias made statements such as, 'My life is over.'... Witness No. 1 then said to Konias, 'What? Did you kill someone?' ... Konias was silent for several seconds and then he answered, 'Yes,' " according to the complaint. more

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN XINJIANG, CHINA - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Southern Xinjiang, China at a depth of 50.5 km (31.4 miles), the quake hit at 13:40:13 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 94 km (59 miles) Northeast from Karakul, Tajikistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

North Korean citizens tell AP of skepticism over nuclear deal as North Korea’s military repeated threats of a “merciless sacred war” Against S.Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea — A nuclear deal with the United States may have raised hopes that tensions on the Korean peninsula could ease soon, but rare interviews Friday by The Associated Press with Pyongyang residents suggest deep cynicism of U.S. intentions.

North Korea’s military, meanwhile, repeated threats of a “merciless sacred war” against South Korea — highlighting the lingering animosity between the divided Koreas despite the North’s diplomatic breakthrough with Washington.

The U.S.-North Korea announcement of an agreement to freeze North Korea’s nuclear activities in exchange for food aid was seen in Washington as a promising first step toward discussing nuclear disarmament. But in North Korea’s capital, where citizens are taught from childhood to hate Americans, skepticism ran deep.

“I heard the news, but I’m not very excited,” Jong Yun Hui, 43, told the AP. She said many rounds of talks over the years have failed to result in food or much-needed energy.

“I have no faith in the U.S.,” she said. North Koreans are subject to daily propaganda, and the views of those interviewed often reflected what is said by the government. Read More

Thousands Evacuated and at least 99 Hospitalized due to Chemical Leak in the Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Ninety-nine people were hospitalized for suffocation, nausea and eye irritation, while thousands of residents were evacuated after a chemical leaked from an ice plant in a west coast village here.

The ammonia gas leak occurred around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday at the E & L Ice Plant located in Sitio Dumagasa, Ayala village, 16 kilometers west of the city, said the police.

Most of the victims were workers of the ice plant and members of the United Visayan Homeowners Association who are living nearby.

Renwel Balili, a checker of the E & L Ice Plant, said the ammonia gas leaked when an ice molder fell and hit one of the plant's cooling system pipes.

He said they were scheduled to produce ice for different fishing firms that are set to resume operation since the closed season for commercial fishing ended Wednesday when the incident happened.

The E & L Ice Plant has stopped operations and would only resume once the damaged cooling system pipe will be repaired or replaced, Balili said. Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Kamchatka, Russia at a depth of 29.8 km (18.5 miles), the quake hit at 12:18:38 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 112 km (69 miles) ESE from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India Region at a depth of 35.1 km (21.8 miles), the quake hit at 12:11:30 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 96 km (59 miles) Southeast from Misha, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Netanyahu and Obama play high-stakes poker over Iran

Haaretz's editor-in-chief Aluf Benn says PM's planned trip to Washington will be the most fateful of his political career.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington will be the most important one in his long career as ambassador, politician and national leader. On Monday, Netanyahu will meet President Barack Obama in the White House for a game of diplomatic poker, where the greatest gamble of all will be right on the table: an attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

Each of the two players will try to push the other to act. Netanyahu would prefer to see the American superpower, with its vast range of military capabilities, pulverize Iran's nuclear project. For his part, Obama would prefer, if an attack must be launched, that the job be done by Israel, while the United States would serve as the "responsible adult" who comes in afterward to make order in the Middle East. Source

London riots: Pair guilty over Malaysian student robbery

Two men have been found guilty of stealing from a Malaysian student as they pretended to help him during last summer's riots in London.

Ashraf Rossli, 20, had been in the UK for just a month when he was attacked on 8 August in Barking.

As he lay injured, John Kafunda, 22, of Ilford, and Reece Donovan, 24, of Romford, stole items from his bag.

Kafunda was found guilty of robbery while Donovan was convicted of theft at Wood Green Crown Court.

They were also found guilty of violent disorder.

The jury is still deliberating whether Donovan is guilty of robbery.

Footage of the incident, which was recorded on a mobile phone and posted on YouTube, caused widespread anger. Read More

Red Cross convoy arrives in Homs bringing Baba Amr aid

A Red Cross convoy has arrived in the Syrian city of Homs and is set to deliver supplies to the Baba Amr district after a month-long siege.

The Red Cross and Syrian Red Crescent have organised the seven-lorry aid convoy, and are also planning to evacuate the wounded.

The area has suffered heavy bombardment by government forces in recent weeks.

The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said on Thursday it was leaving the district in a "tactical withdrawal".

Of the 100,000 people who normally live in Baba Amr only a few thousand remain, with the FSA saying it had pulled back to save those still there from an all-out assault.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had received reports of "a particularly grisly set of summary executions" in Homs. Read More

Istanbul police 'targeted' by blast

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) -- A bomb appearing to target police officers exploded Thursday in an Istanbul neighborhood near the ruling Justice and Development Party headquarters in the city, authorities said.
The blast left 15 officers and one civilian injured, Istanbul's police chief, Huseyin Capkin, said. It occurred in the Sutluce neighborhood in Beyoglu district.

"It seems the explosion was done by remote control, as a police van with 21 policemen in it was passing by," Capkin told reporters on the scene.

"Their conditions are all good," Capkin said. "There is no one in a life-threatening condition."
Istanbul Gov. Huseyin Avni Mutlu said the bomb was mounted on a motorcycle that was left by the side of the road. He said plastic explosive was used.

"We do not have clear information about the perpetrators," he said, promising an investigation and vowing that such attacks could not harm Istanbul's security. Read More

Sudan minister wanted for war crimes

(CNN) -- The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's defense minister for 41 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in the Darfur region.

Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein is wanted for actions ranging from August 2003 to March 2004 in Darfur, where rebels have fought government forces and allied militiamen such as the Janjaweed since 2003.

The United Nations estimates as many as 300,000 people have been killed and almost 3 million people have been displaced from their homes.

Hussein was at the time the country's interior minister "during attacks upon the towns and villages of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala in the Wadi Salih and Mukjar localities of West Darfur," the court said.

The court said "there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Hussein is criminally responsible for 20 counts of crimes against humanity (persecution, murder, forcible transfer, rape, inhumane acts, imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty and torture) and 21 counts of war crimes (murder, attacks against civilian population, destruction of property, rape, pillaging and outrage upon personal dignity)." Read More

Christchurch's quake-hit cathedral to come down

(CNN) -- The remains of what was Christchurch Cathedral, whose shattered spire became a symbol of the New Zealand city's quake devastation, is to be dismantled after Anglican church officials said the earthquake had damaged the structure of the iconic church beyond repair.

Bishop Victoria Matthews said the existing church walls would be brought down to about 3 meters and the base of the church kept for use as a prayer garden.

Officials had thought part of the building could be saved but said on Friday that recent aftershocks had made the existing structure unsound.

"What we need to do is bring the walls down to a safe level which is probably about 2-3 meters," Bishop Matthews said. "There will be no bulldozers, no wrecking ball. This will be done with deep respect and love."

The cathedral -- one of the city's best-known historic buildings -- was severely damaged in the earthquake on February 22, 2011, its neo-gothic spire crashing to the ground. The quake destroyed many buildings in Christchurch's central business district and killed 185 people. Read More

British warns of 'day of reckoning' for Syrian regime



(CNN) -- The opposition accused Syrian forces of executing 10 people Friday in a shattered rebel stronghold in Homs as Britain's leader warned President Bashar al-Assad's regime will face a "day of reckoning."

The harsh rebuke by British Prime Minister David Cameron came the same day an aid agency said truckloads of food and medical supplies arrived in Homs and was bound for Baba Amr, the flashpoint neighborhood in a nearly yearlong uprising that has left thousands dead.

"Above all, what I think matters is building the evidence and the picture so we hold this criminal regime to account, and to make sure it is held to account for crimes that it is committing against its people," Cameron told reporters outside a meeting of leaders of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.

"And one day, no matter how long it takes, there will be a day of reckoning for this dreadful regime."

Cameron described a growing humanitarian crisis as "absolutely appalling" and demanded that humanitarian aid be allowed into Homs and elsewhere. Read More

Journalist: Rebels are finished in Homs



(CNN) -- Spanish photographer Javier Espinosa painted a harrowing picture of life inside the shattered center of Syrian resistance in Homs in the days before a full-scale assault by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Espinosa, who works for the Spanish daily El Mundo, was one of four journalists who escaped this week from Baba Amr, a neighborhood of about five square miles that was shelled for 26 consecutive days before Syrian forces began an assault.

"It's an enormous tragedy," Espinosa told Anderson Cooper during an interview that aired Thursday on CNN's "AC360."

"And the latest news I have is that it is almost finished because they don't have any more ways of resisting the advance of the army." Read More

Wanted alive: Endangered ibis escapes from Tokyo zoo

A female northern bald ibis has fled Tokyo's Tama Zoo and remains on the loose, the zoo's operator revealed on March 1.

The zoo in the capital's Hino district was alerted to the escape when it received a call from a nearby university saying that a rare bird had been spotted in front of the school's entrance.

When zoo officials counted their birds, they discovered that one of their 26 northern bald ibises -- a critically endangered species -- was missing from its cage.

The runaway ibis, according to zoo officials, is 40 to 50 centimeters tall with a black body and red beak and legs. It has blue identification rings on both of its legs.

Zoo staff believe the mesh on the upper part of the cage may have been loosened by accumulated snow, opening the escape route. Read More

Tsunami could have flooded areas along Tokyo Bay at high tide: officials

Had the March 11 tsunami struck at high tide, it likely would have overcome tidal barriers in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, the Mainichi has learned.

The astronomical tide level at high tide in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture on March 11 was 1.7 meters at 7 a.m. If the tsunami had struck then, it would have added up to a height of 4.53 meters.

Tidal barriers at Kisarazu, which faces Tokyo Bay, stand between 3.7 and 4.1 meters high.

"If the tsunami had come during high tide, it would have definitely overcome the tidal barriers," a Kisarazu Municipal Government official commented.

The water level at a sluice gate in Kisarazu hit 3.78 meters at 5:46 p.m. during the tsunami -- almost twice as high as the two meter tsunami warning issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency at the time for Tokyo Bay. Read More

Tainted water still major problem at Fukushima nuke plant 1 year after meltdowns

As Japan prepares to mark the first anniversary of the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the facility remains plagued with problems despite Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's declaration that the crisis has been brought under control.

In order to decommission reactors No. 1 through 4 at the crippled plant, it is imperative to improve the work environment by draining and decontaminating areas submerged in radioactive water as much as possible. The flow of ground water into these areas, however, means making such operations a reality is a long way off.

According to plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the amount of radioactive water at the plant, inclusive of treated water, has reached as much as some 200,000 cubic meters. The utility has managed to secure 165,000 cubic meters worth of temporary tanks and has been building tanks that can hold another 40,000 cubic meters of water, on top of a 4,000-cubic-meter underground "reservoir" being built. However, all of these facilities are expected to be full by this fall, making the utility's efforts look like a shoestring operation even almost a year after the onset of the nuclear crisis. Read More

EU Leaders Sign Fiscal Treaty Rejected By UK



EU leaders - except those from the UK and Czech Republic - have signed a new fiscal treaty to enforce tougher economic scrutiny.


The Treaty for Stability, Co-ordination and Governance was signed by 25 of the bloc's 27 leaders at an EU summit in Brussels.

The deal is the culmination of months of effort to demonstrate tighter financial discipline and calm market fears about the euro.

It was forged after UK Prime Minister David Cameron dramatically vetoed plans for a 27-nation treaty change to beef up eurozone rules.

The resulting accord sees him sitting - contentedly - on the sidelines with only his Czech counterpart for company.

Mr Cameron was in a separate room while the treaty was signed. Read More

Suicide squads, blind panic and secret plans to evacuate Tokyo: The behind-the-scenes story of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Chilling new details have emerged revealing the shocking scale of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the incredible bravery of the technicians, firemen and soldiers who risked their lives to avert a total meltdown.

For his new documentary - Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown - American reporter Dan Edge talked to many of the workers who stayed behind at the stricken plant after the tsunami hit and find how the crisis unfolded.

While the outside world was being briefed on the dangers of radiation being released into the atmosphere, the technicians were battling to prevent something far more serious - a reactor exploding and scattering nuclear fuel over the surrounding area.

As the Japanese Government played down the seriousness of crisis they were secretly drawing up plans to evacuate everyone within 125 to 190 miles of the plant, which includes the capital Tokyo.

At one point plant manager Masao Yoshida told Japan's then Prime Minister Naoto Kan that if need be he would send a suicide squad into the reactor room to try to fix the problem. Read More

Watch Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.


Ryan Giggs Loses Court Case Against the Sun over Affair Claims...He even used the Human Rights Angle



A damages claim by footballer Ryan Giggs against the Sun newspaper over an alleged affair was thrown out by a High Court judge today.


The Manchester United footballer claimed that The Sun "misused" private information and argued that he was entitled to claim damages.

He argued the damages were for distress and breach of a right to privacy enshrined in human rights legislation. Read More

Mystery as scientists find more DNA differences between chimps from two sides of the same river than humans from different continents

Chimpanzee populations that live as neighbours have more genetic variation than humans from different continents, a study has found.

The findings are believed to have important implications for chimp conservation.

Scientists studied DNA from 54 African chimpanzees looking for variations between different populations.

Even though the chimps lived in relative close proximity, with two groups separated only by a river, their populations were substantially more different genetically than humans from around the world.

The research is published today in the online journal Public Library of Science Genetics.

Professor Peter Donnelly, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University, who co-led the study, said: ‘Relatively small numbers of humans left Africa 50,000-100,000 years ago. All non-African populations descended from them, and are reasonably similar genetically.

‘That chimpanzees from habitats in the same country, separated only by a river, are more distinct than humans from different continents is really interesting. Read More

Kathryne Fuller pleads guilty to drug charges in Uganda

An assistant to an American television producer who died after taking contaminated cocaine in Uganda faced cameras on Thursday for the first time since her arrest.

Kathryne Fuller, 29, who remains paralysed on her right side, pleaded guilty to drug possession, paid a fine and was freed - wheeled out of the courthouse in her hospital gown by her father.

She was charged with possession of cocaine after taking drugs with producer Jeff Rice, who was found dead in a Kampala hotel on February 18.

An official toxicology report confirmed the drug was in Mr Rice's blood, dispelling initial suspicions that the father-of-two known for his work on the U.S. show 'The Amazing Race' had been poisoned by attackers.

In the presence of her father and lawyer, Paul Rutisya, she told the court: 'Yes your Worship, I plead guilt.'

'She was given the option of a fine of 1 million shillings ($420) or six months' imprisonment,' Mr Rutisya said. 'We (paid) the fine.' Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 2nd Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 25.6 km (15.9 miles), the quake hit at 10:11:43 UTC Friday 2nd March 2012
The epicenter was 128 km (79 miles) ESE of Tokyo, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Greek terror alert as homemade bomb is left on subway by left-wing extremists amid anger over cuts

A homemade bomb was left on a Greek subway train by left-wing extremists amid rising public anger over spending cuts.

Police immediately shutdown the station in Athens after a man phoned two television stations and said he had left the explosive.

A previously unknown terror group called the Urban Guerrillas claimed they were responsible for leaving the device on a train.

Today police released pictures of the explosive which was made out of two small gas canisters with about one and a half litres of petrol, a timer, wires and batteries.

The device, which was not activated, was discovered inside a bag by a metro driver on Saturday on his empty train.

It was planted amid public fury over the scale of spending cuts the Greek government are making to secure a second bailout package from the other eurozone members. Read More

Joyce Hardin Garrard who made granddaughter, 9, 'run until she DIED' faces the death penalty

A woman accused of running her 9-year-old granddaughter to death as punishment for eating chocolate was captured on a school bus videotape saying she planned to run the child ''til she can't run no more,' a prosecutor told a judge Thursday in announcing capital murder charges.

Joyce Hardin Garrard, who faces a potential death penalty if convicted, made the threat as she yanked Savannah Hardin off a school bus that was equipped with a surveillance system, said Marcus Reid, an assistant district attorney in Etowah County.

Angered by a supposed lie the child told, Garrard told the driver: '"I gonna run her `til she can't run no more,"' Reid said.

'That's exactly what she did,' said the prosecutor, calling Garrard a 'drill sergeant from hell.'

Garrard, 46, and Savannah's stepmother, 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, are both charged in the child's death last month.

Authorities say the older woman made the child run for three hours carrying 10 pounds of wood as punishment, and the younger woman - who was nine months pregnant at the time and has since given birth - did nothing to intervene. Read More

Russia's fury after neighbour Latvia plans to hold rally to commemorate SS

Russia today accused its tiny neighbour Latvia of making 'attempts to whitewash Hitler’s flunkeys' by allowing a parade which honours the role of the Baltic state’s veterans who fought for the Nazis in the Second World War.

In a furious outburst, Moscow accused the country’s president of seeking to 'justify the crimes' committed by 'collaborators' in the Latvian legion of the Waffen SS, and warned of the risk of 'glorification of the Nazi movement'.

The blast from the Russian foreign ministry against the EU and NATO state came after the go-ahead for an annual rally on March 16 to commemorate the 140,000-strong Latvian unit of Germany’s Waffen SS.

Latvian President Andris Berzins claimed the veterans deserved respect not condemnation, arguing that the Second World War recruits fought on the Nazi side in a bid to regain independence for their own country, which had been overrun by Stalin’s USSR.

'They were conscripted into the fascist German Legion. They went with the ideal of defending Latvia. Latvians in the Legion were not war criminals,' he said. Read More

Barbaric torture of 83 children branded witches: Case of boy beaten to death over four days exposes horrifying crimewave fuelled by medieval beliefs

More than 80 children have suffered appalling abuse after being branded as witches in a crimewave fuelled by medieval beliefs imported from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

The scale of the problem – with many youngsters being beaten, starved and kept in cages – was revealed as a football coach was found guilty of torturing a boy to death.

Eric Bikubi, 28, faces life in prison after murdering 15-year-old Kristy Bamu in a four-day orgy of almost unimaginable violence. Read More



Tree lobster thought to be extinct for 80 years found alive clinging 500ft up on remote Pacific rock taller than Empire State Building

A narrow and forbidding rock that stands higher than the Empire State Building, it does not look like the most welcoming place to set up home.

But that did not stop an insect which was thought to be extinct for 80 years from building its last known colony on the 1,844ft high Ball’s Pyramid.

Scientists have discovered 24 of the creatures living 500ft above the South Pacific Ocean around the single plant that had survived on the rock.

The ‘tree lobster’ insect, which is as large as a human hand, had somehow made its camp despite the lack of food and the harsh conditions.

Nobody could say how they got there in the first place - but four have now been taken off and have bred thousands more to ensure their species survives.

The astonishing discovery was made on Ball’s Pyramid which emerged from the sea seven million years ago off the coast of Australia near Lord Howe Island. Read More

Scandal of the transplant patients having to have chemo after being given cancerous kidneys by the NHS

Two transplant patients were forced to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy after a botched NHS operation gave them kidneys infected with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

Robert Law and Gillian Smart ended up with the diseased kidneys after a nurse failed to check the donated organs.

The near-fatal error was made at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in November 2010.

The kidneys had belonged to a woman who died at another hospital – but somehow they were used as donor organs.

The pair are to receive compensation packages after the NHS yesterday admitted negligence.

Its body that oversees transplants said ‘human error’ by a specialist nurse who had not completed her training was partly to blame for the mistake.

Lynda Hamlyn, from NHS Blood and Transplant, yesterday offered ‘sincere and unreserved apologies’ to the pair who were told of the error days after their operations. Read More