Monday, March 5, 2012

Spain on collision course with Brussels over budget deficit targets

European commission accuses Spain of 'serious deviation' after PM Mariano Rajoy sets deficit target of 5.8% rather than 4.4% agreed

Spain is on a collision course with the European commission after Brussels fired a warning shot at the austerity wracked country for planning to overshoot its budget deficit targets.

In an early test for the EU's new fiscal regime, the commission said Madrid was engaged "in a serious deviation" from previous pledges after Mariano Rajoy, Spain's new conservative prime minister, confirmed the government would fail to meet a budget deficit target this year of 4.4% of gross domestic product agreed earlier with Brussels. Rajoy has set a new target of 5.8% for this year after revealing that last year's deficit was 8.5%.

The stand-off between the European authorities and Spain, a vulnerable party in the eurozone's debt crisis, came as Greece raced against the clock to sign up willing creditors for writing down half of its debt to private lenders.

Athens has until Thursday evening to conclude a debt swap with its private creditors, reducing its obligations by €100bn as a central element in its new €130bn bailout accord with the eurozone.

It remained unclear on Monday night whether some 90% of Greece's private creditors would volunteer for the deal by Thursday, casting uncertainty over the prospects for the bailout. Read More

Thousands evacuate NSW towns as floods continue in Australia

Aerial view from a helicopter of flooded areas in Wagga Wagga in southwest NSW, Australia Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

Sixteen river systems have flooded in NSW, with Queensland and northern Victoria also facing serious flood threats.

Vast areas of Australia's east and southeast are facing devastating flooding after weeks of heavy rain.

In NSW alone – Australia's most populous state – an area the size of France is either under water or at risk of going under, after 16 river systems have flooded. Southeast Queensland and northern Victoria also face serious threats of flooding.

"This is devastating for small businesses, for farmers and for those whose houses have been flooded," said NSW state premier, Barry O'Farrell, who toured the state's affected region.

Attention has focused on the NSW town of Wagga Wagga, 475kms south west of Sydney, as it faces its biggest flood in 150 years.

Around 9,000 residents have been evacuated from the city centre amid fears the town's levee banks may not withstand the flood coming down the Murrumbidgee river.

It brings to 13,000 the number of people evacuated from their homes across the state.

The levee surrounding Wagga Wagga is 11m high and the river is expected to peak at 10.9m later on Tuesday. It's NSW's biggest inland city with 50,000 residents and it is an important agricultural, military and transport hub. Read More

China: Immolations Are Terrorism In Disguise



Following the self-immolation of more than 20 Tibetans in the last year, the Chinese authorities say they are preparing for "a war against secessionist sabotage".

At least 21 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in a spate of suicides and attempted suicides that began early last year.

Most of the self-immolations were carried out by Buddhist monks and nuns, some of them believed to be as young as 17.

Tibetan exile groups say that several of those who set themselves alight chanted slogans calling for greater religious freedom as they burned.

Many Tibetans in China complain of heavy-handed government interference in their religious practices, including forced "political education" sessions in monasteries. Read More

North Korea's Kim visits DMZ, orders high alert

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the heavily armed border with rival South Korea and ordered troops to be on high alert, state media reported Sunday, just days after Washington and Pyongyang agreed to a nuclear deal after years of deadlock.

Kim's visit to Panmunjom village in the Demilitarized Zone, his first reported trip there since the December death of his father, Kim Jong Il, comes amid escalating militaristic rhetoric aimed at U.S. ally South Korea.

Recent North Korean threats, including vows of a "sacred war" against Seoul over U.S.-South Korean military drills, appear to be aimed at a domestic audience, analysts say, and could be an effort to bolster Kim Jong Un's credentials as a military leader after showing off his diplomatic skills on the U.S. nuclear deal. Read More

Obama Warns Israel Against Attack On Iran



US President Barack Obama has promised his "rock solid" commitment to Israel's security - but warned against any pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear capability.

Mr Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the US "will always have Israel's back", during a meeting at the White House.

But, while Mr Obama confirmed military action remains an option, he insisted diplomacy and sanctions have to be given time.

He said: "When I say all options are on the table I mean it. Having said that, I know both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically.

"We understand the costs of any military action.

"My policy here is not one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons." Read More

Anti-Putin Protesters Cleared by Riot Police, Hundreds Arrested



Russian riot police have detained hundreds of protesters at rallies challenging Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory.

The arrests came as a Downing Street spokesman said British Prime Minister David Cameron called Mr Putin to say he looked forward to working with him to overcome obstacles between the two countries.

"The leaders agreed on the importance of building a stronger relationship, without disguising differences and areas of concern," the spokesman said.

In Moscow, officers detained opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny along with fellow opposition leaders Sergei Udaltsov and Ilya Yashin.

"They robbed us," Mr Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger, told a crowd of protesters in the capital's Pushkin Square. Read More

Christopher Tappin Denied Bail as Judge declares "he may be a danger to the community"

The wife of a retired British businessman accused of arms dealing charges has described a US judge's decision to refuse him bail as an "outrage".

Christopher Tappin's wife Elaine said the move to remand her 65-year-old husband in custody was "heartbreaking".

Judge Robert Castaneda ruled Tappin must remain in custody after US prosecutors told the federal court in El Paso, Texas, he may be a "danger to the community" if released.

The judge agreed measures could be imposed to ensure Tappin is monitored if released, but he said a discrepancy in the Briton's financial statement led to him being denied bail.

Tappin lost his two-year battle against extradition to America in February and denies attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles which were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands.

Mrs Tappin, 62, of Orpington, Kent, said: "This is an outrage. God only knows how he'll bear up. It's heartbreaking.

"He's a man of his word and is certainly not at risk of fleeing - where would he go? He doesn't have his passport or access to money. Read More

Anthony Paul Grainger Died in Fatal Police Shooting: NO Weapons Found at the Scene

An "initial visual search" inside a car in which a man was shot dead by police has failed to locate any weapons, the police watchdog has said.

Anthony Paul Grainger, from Bolton, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest after the car he was in was stopped in the village of Culcheth, Cheshire.

The vehicle was stopped on Saturday evening in what police described as a "pre-planned operation". Mr Grainger was shot by an armed officer.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) deployed investigators to the scene and took over the investigation following the shooting at around 7.20pm.

Initial evidence collected suggests two police firearms were discharged during the incident, the IPCC said.

However, a full ballistic examination needs to be undertaken on the recovered police weapons to confirm this. Read More

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 6th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India at a depth of 41.7 km (25.9 miles), the quake hit at 02:52:45 UTC Tuesday 6th March 2012
The epicenter was 90 km (55 miles) Northeast of Mohean, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake REVILLA GIGEDO ISLANDS REGION - 6th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Revilla Gigedo Islands Region at a depth of 40.8 km (25.4 miles), the quake hit at 02:32:04 UTC Tuesday 6th March 2012
The epicenter was 229 km (142 miles) ENE of Socorro Island, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 6th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the Andreanof Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 25.6 km (15.9 miles), the quake hit at 00:47:23 UTC Tuesday 6th March 2012
The epicenter was 104 km (65 miles) Southwest from Atka, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake MASBATE REGION, PHILIPPINES - 5th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the Masbate Region, Philippines at a depth of 42 km (26.1 miles), the quake hit at 23:06:31 UTC Monday 5th March 2012
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) ESE of Masbate, Masbate, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake MONA PASSAGE, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - 5th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Mona Passage, Dominican Republic at a depth of 180 km (111.9 miles), the quake hit at 22:52:53 UTC Monday 5th March 2012
The epicenter was 40 km (24.8 miles) SSE from Hig├╝ey, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN XINJIANG, CHINA - 5th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Southern Xinjiang, China at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:57:53 UTC Monday 5th March 2012
The epicenter was 138 km (85.5 miles) West of Kashi, Xinjiang, China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Bird Flu Bangladesh: 3 Market Workers infected

Dhaka, Mar 5 (bdnews24.com)—Detection of three new human infections with the deadly H5NI strain of bird flu in a week has set alarm bells ringing as scientists have found evidence of the virus in the live-bird market in crowded Dhaka.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed a human case on Feb 26 when a worker of a live-bird market in southern part of the capital was tested H5N1 positive at the IEDCR's surveillance site.

Its director Prof Mahmudur Rahman told bdnews24.com that they had informed the government's Department of Livestock right away and suggested 'immediate' steps to disinfect wet markets.

bdnews24.com saw no cleaning drive but learned the livestock department fixed a technical committee meeting for Wednesday instead of beginning to disinfect the market.

In the meantime, the IEDCR that oversees human infections of bird flu disclosed on Monday that another two cases were confirmed on Sunday night in their lab.

"They are also live-bird market workers," Prof Rahman told bdnews24.com and added that they expected the livestock department to move quickly for the sake of public health safety.

"The virus's presence in live-bird market means it is now even closer to people," he added. Read More

Obama Reassures Netanyahu Over Iran Threat



US president Barack Obama has promised his “rock solid” commitment to Israel’s security - but warned against any pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear capability.

Mr Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US “will always have Israel’s back” during a meeting at the White House.

But while he confirmed military action remains an option he insists diplomacy and sanctions have to be given time.

He said: “When I say all options are on the table I mean it. Having said that, I know both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically.

"We understand the costs of any military action.

“My policy here is not one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.”

Mr Netanyahu added: “Israel and America stand together.” Read More

McCain calls for US to lead on Syria airstrikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arizona Sen. John McCain is calling for the United States to lead an international effort to begin air strikes on Syria.

McCain says that the Syrian government's brutal crackdown on its opponents has resulted in war crimes and that its neighbors in the region will intervene militarily, with or without the U.S. From the Senate floor on Monday, McCain said the United States has a moral and strategic obligation to force out President Bashar Assad and his loyalists.

Last month, McCain urged international cooperation to help supply the anti-Assad rebels with weapons and other aid. At the time, he stopped short of endorsing direct U.S. military involvement. Source

Suicide attack hits base where Korans burned

(Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least two civilians Monday after detonating explosives at the gates of the NATO base where copies of the Koran were burned, Afghan officials said.

The bomber targeted a vehicle belonging to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said district governor Kabir Ahmad Rahil, adding there could be foreign casualties, although a NATO spokeswoman said no coalition troops had been harmed in the attack on Bagram airfield.

Four more civilians were wounded in the attack, Rahil said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was "revenge" for the Koran burning, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message to media. He added that "a number of Americans" were killed and their tanks destroyed in the attack, although the Islamist group often exaggerate casualties.

Afghanistan's army chief has said the burning of Korans last month at the NATO base an hour north of Kabul advanced the Taliban's cause and warned that any repeat of such "negligence" by Western forces could be disastrous. Read More

Riot Police Clear Anti-Putin Protesters



Riot police are clearing protests against Russia's new President Vladimir Putin after his disputed election win, with opposition leaders being seized.


Opposition figureheads Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov have been detained in Moscow. Earlier, police held Eduard Limonov, the leader of the Other Russia movement, and about 50 of his supporters after they held an "unsanctioned protest".

"They robbed us," Mr Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger, told a crowd of protesters in Moscow's Pushkin Square.

"We are the power," he said to cheers, before being detained and taken away by police.

A few hours before, in Russia's second city of St Petersburg, police reportedly arrested dozens of protesters from a demonstration of about 1,500 people, including local deputies from the liberal Yabloko party.

Opposition leaders have accused the authorities of widespread fraud and claim many people were allowed to cast multiple votes. Read More

Greek factory worker, 52, shoots boss and colleague after being laid off

A crazed man shot his boss and a co-worker after being laid-off from the Greek rubbish bin factory he had worked at for 30 years.

Distraught Dimitris Manikas, 52, barged into the Helesi factory in Komotini, northern Greece brandishing a hunting rifle and demanded to know why he had been fired.

After shooting the two men he took three other people hostage and only surrendered after 11 hours of tense negotiations with police.

His former boss Sakis Andrianopoulos - a man who he had known for decades and who was the best man at his wedding - is recovering in hospital after being shot in the neck and the chest.

The co-worker is also expected to make a full recovery.

Officials have played down the shooting as an isolated incident, but many Greeks also see it as a cautionary tale of the human toll of an economic crisis that has left more than one in five Greeks jobless. Read More

Mysterious sounds coming from the sky that are so loud they set off car alarms?



Chinese hackers 'had full control' over Nasa lab that commands 23 spacecraft

Chinese hackers gained 'full access' to the computer network in one of Nasa's key control centres, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

JPL manages 23 spacecraft conducting active space missions, including missions to Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.

The hackers, operating from an internet address in China, gained full system access in November 2011, allowing them to upload hacking tools to steal user IDs and control Nasa systems, as well as copy sensitive files.

The hackers were also able to modify system logs to conceal their actions.

‘The intruders had compromised the accounts of the most privileged JPL users, giving the intruders access to most of JPL's networks,’ said National Aeronautics and Space Administration Inspector General Paul Martin.

The cyber attack was one of 'thousands' of computer security lapses at the space agency.

Martin said the hackers gained full system access, which allowed them to modify, copy, or delete sensitive files, create new user accounts and upload hacking tools to steal user credentials and compromise other NASA systems. Read More

IAEA seeks access to key Iranian military base, director says

Vienna (CNN) -- Evidence of ongoing activities at an Iranian military base suspected of being involved in testing related to nuclear weapons makes inspectors eager to get there as soon as possible, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday.

Speaking to reporters during the agency's board of governors meeting, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano declined to provide details on whether the activities at the Parchin military base involve ongoing testing or efforts to remove evidence.

"But I can tell you that we are aware that there are some activities at Parchin and it makes us believe that going there sooner is better than later," Amano said.

IAEA inspectors had asked to visit the facility during a February trip to Iran but were rebuffed, according to the agency. Inspectors believe Iran may have used Parchin to test high explosives that could be used to detonate a nuclear weapon. Read More

What would a second Obama term bring?...........hmmm.......Is it Golf?

Amir Mirzaei Hekmati Death Sentence Annulled By Iranian Court

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- An Iranian court has canceled the death sentence for an American accused of espionage in Iran, semi-official news agencies there reported Monday.

Iran's intelligence ministry sentenced Amir Mirzaei Hekmati to death in January, but the nation's Supreme Court annulled that sentence, ISNA news agency reported Monday.

The overturned verdict means that a lower court will review the case, Fars news agency said, citing Iran's attorney general.

Another lower court previously had convicted the 28-year-old of "working for an enemy country," as well as membership in the CIA and "efforts to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism," the news agencies have reported. Read More

Do we take Iran at its word on nukes?....Do we take U.S. Word on Nukes? Remember Iraq?



(CNN) -- What is at stake in the meeting between the leaders of the United States and Iran?

U.S. President Barack Obama was meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, in what could be one of the most difficult yet significant encounters with a foreign leader since his inauguration. Nothing less than another war in the Middle East is at stake, and administration officials tell me Obama will again try to urge Israeli patience and restraint when it comes to military action over Iran's nuclear program. He previewed his stance when he spoke at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington DC on Sunday, making his own tough stance against Iran's nuclear program clear and insisting that he "[has] Israel's back."

"I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say," Obama said. Read More

Thousands Evacuated In Deadly Oz Floods

A second person has died as communities across south and east Australia battle a flood crisis which has seen almost 5,000 people evacuated from their homes.

Heavy rain, especially in rural areas, has caused flash flooding, cut off many isolated home, and so far claimed the lives of two men.

The worst of the flooding so far has been in the state of New South Wales, but the states of Queensland and Victoria have also been hit by unseasonably large downpours.

Emergency officials said they were concerned about an area in southwest New South Wales, where the Murrumbidgee River has burst its banks and inundated homes near the city of Wagga Wagga. Read More

Arrests At Protests After Putin Election Win



Opponents of Vladimir Putin are gathering in Moscow for a mass protest after his disputed victory, with reports of arrests both in the capital and in St Petersburg.


The news agency AFP reports that Eduard Limonov, an opposition leader of the Other Russia movement and 50 of his supporters were arrested at a demonstration outside the central election commission in Moscow.

Meanwhile, in Russia's second city of St Petersburg, police have reportedly arrested dozens of protesters from a demonstration of about 1,500 people, including local deputies from the liberal Yabloko party.

Opposition leaders have accused the authorities of widespread fraud and claim many people were allowed to cast multiple votes. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN ITALY - 5th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck Northern Italy at a depth of just 2 km (1.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:15:07 UTC Monday 5th March 2012
The epicenter was 6 km (3.7 miles) Northwest of Rezzoaglio, Italy
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anthony Garcia, Convicted killer, got unemployment while in Los Angeles jail: US

A convicted killer who got caught because he'd tattooed a graphic mural of the murder scene on his chest raked in more than $30,000 in unemployment benefits while he sat in the Los Angeles County jail system, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Anthony Garcia, 26, had family and friends cashing his $1,600-per-month checks while he served time, said Capt. Mike Parker, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. His accomplices would then deposit a portion of the money into Garcia's jail account. They also shared the cash with Garcia's fellow incarcerated gang members.

Police arrested Garcia's father, 47-year-old Juan Garcia, and girlfriends 45-year-old Sandra Jaimez and 25-year-old Cynthia Limas on unemployment fraud and related charges Thursday, Parker said.

"It's pretty appalling when you think about somebody sitting in jail collecting unemployment," Parker said. more

Rebecca Motley sues AMC Livonia theater over extortionate prices of snacks (Hear, hear)

Joshua Thompson loves the movies.

But he hates the prices theaters charge for concessions like pop and candy.

This week, the 20-something security technician from Livonia decided to do something about it: He filed a class action in Wayne County Circuit Court against his local AMC theater in hopes of forcing theaters statewide to dial down snack prices.

"He got tired of being taken advantage of," said Thompson's lawyer, Kerry Morgan of Wyandotte. "It's hard to justify prices that are three- and four-times higher than anywhere else."

American Multi Cinema, which operates the AMC theater in Livonia, wouldn't comment on the suit. A staffer at the National Association of Theatre Owners in Washington, D.C., angrily hung up the phone when asked about industry snack pricing practices.

Although consumer experts predicted that the case will be dismissed, it struck a chord Friday with area moviegoers, who said they're tired of being soaked on movie munchies.

"The prices are ridiculous," Rebecca Motley, 55, a self-employed Southfield physician, said while leaving the AMC Star Southfield 20.

Motley said she and her office manager spent $5 each for morning movie tickets and $11 each for soft drinks and popcorn.

"When I was a kid, $1 could get you into the movies and buy you a pop and popcorn. But not anymore," Motley said. "I don't know how kids can go on their own to a movie anymore." more

Frenchman Sues Google for Posting Peeing Picture

A Frenchman claiming that a Google Maps' Street View picture of him peeing in his front yard has made him a "laughingstock" is suing the tech giant for 10,000 euros.

"Everyone has the right to a degree of secrecy," his lawyer, Jean-Noel Bouillard, told Reuters. "In this particular case, it's more amusing than serious. But if he'd been caught kissing a woman other than his wife, he would have had the same issue."

The man, who was not identified but referred to as in his 50s and living in a village of 3,000 in the Maine-et-Loire region, "He discovered the existence of this photo after noticing that he had become an object of ridicule," Bouillaud told AFP, asking that the name of the village not be published.

The Street View photo has the man's face blurred out, but villagers figured out who the man was immediately, according to Bouillaud. Bouillaud did not explain why his client was peeing in his front yard instead of his home, only that the man was on his own property with the gate closed. The man is suing Google for 10,000 euros (around $13,000) in damages.

Google's Street View has a collection of unusual photos and peeing isn't the half of it -- apparently it captures lots of prostitutes, drunkenness and public nudity, as well as a some very beautiful landscapes. more

Steve Bridges as President Obama (Steve Bridges has passed away)



And as George W. Bush...

Mike Baynes's home 'invaded' by government search of fish tanks

A B.C. man who raises tropical fish said his home and privacy were invaded when local enforcement agencies knocked on his door while looking for a marijuana grow operation, and then forced him to pay for an electrical inspection and upgrade his fish-tank operation.

“I felt violated,” said Mike Baynes, 67, from Surrey, B.C. “When they came in here and saw no grow-op, I think they should have said ‘I’m sorry Mike,’ and then turned around and walked out.”

Baynes is one of 128 Surrey residents who don’t have grow operations, but were nevertheless subjected to searches and electrical repair orders in recent months because they use a lot of hydro.

“I think that is an invasion of privacy,” he said. “I don’t think that the City of Surrey has anything to do with my hydro consumption.”

Seven B.C. municipalities, including Surrey, are registered with BC Hydro to get monthly lists of all customers who use more than three times the daily average amount of power. more

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA - 5th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the San Francisco Bay Area, California at a depth of 9.2 km (5.7 miles), the quake hit at 13:33:20 UTC Monday 5th March 2012
The epicenter was 1 km (0.6 miles) North from El Cerrito, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - 5th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Mindanao, Philippines at a depth of 37 km (23 miles), the quake hit at 13:59:31 UTC Monday 5th March 2012
The epicenter was 5 km (3.1 miles) Southwest of Sarangani, Mindanao, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Republic of Congo fire threatens second arms depot; first explosion killed hundreds

BRAZZAVILLE, REPUBLIC OF CONGO—International experts fought Monday to prevent a fire from reaching a second arms depot in the capital of the Republic of Congo, a day after a blaze set off a series of explosions so violent they flattened buildings, killing hundreds and trapping countless others under the falling debris.

Small detonations continued to shake Brazzaville, though the blasts were not nearly as loud as those that had convulsed the city on Sunday, splitting beams, buckling numerous buildings including two churches, and causing windows to explode in a 3-mile (5-kilometre) radius of the depot. Houses trembled as far away as the south of the country, and across the mighty Congo River in the heart of Kinshasa, the capital of the neighbouring Central African nation of Congo.

“For the time being, there are Russian, French and Congolese experts in the field who are trying to put out the fires. Their goal is to avoid that the fires reach a second depot of even heavier weapons,” said Delphin Kibakidi, the spokesman of the local chapter of the Red Cross.

It’s unclear how far the second depot is from the first, with some officials saying it is located in the same army barracks. A large crowd had gathered outside the municipal morgue, which along with a nearby hospital had registered 206 deaths hours after the first blast on Sunday. Read More

Henryville twister caught on tape

Etna has its Third Major Eruption of 2012

Etna just keeps on rolling. The Italian volcano had its third paroxysm of 2012 (see above) on March 4 and first since early February. This new eruption was a short event that was preceded by 18 days worth of small strombolian activity.

The event may have been only ~2 hours, but it produced some spectacular explosions, aiding in some part by interaction with snow and a pyroclastic flow was spotted as well. Osservatario Etneo reported that even a small lahar was produced during this paroxysm as a result of volcanic material mixing with snow.

Air traffic around Sicily was not effected by this paroxysm. As usual, Eruptions readers were all over the event, capturing web cam captures images and Boris Behncke snapped a few shots of the action as usual. Read More

BREITBART CONSPIRACY: YASHA LEVINE GOES TO WESTWOOD TO INVESTIGATE BREITBAGGERS’ CLAIMS OF WHITE HOUSE ASSASSINATION PLOT

It didn’t take long after Andrew Breitbart’s death was reported for the Baggertarian Believers to start ominously tweeting out some of the craziest (and funniest) conspiracy theories this side of the John Birch Society.

Part of the blame goes to the official “Breitbart died of natural causes” story they put out—no one believes he died of “natural causes,” neither his fans nor his detractors. But if you’re a fan of Breitbart, you can’t face the awful reality of what everyone knows did kill him—degenerate personal habits, and bile.

So naturally, Breitbart’s abandoned hate-junkies turned to wild conspiracy theories and plots that did everything to avoid his obvious drug addictions and swollen arteries, and instead externalized the cause to the usual list of villains: George Soros, Media Matters, Jihadis, liberals, #OWS, the Illuminati, One World Government, and so on. And of course, the “socialist” “Islamic” “Kenyan” is the Breitbart-Bircher crowd’s number one favorite as the guy running the conspiracy…because you know, Andrew Breitbart knew too much, man! He flew too high!

“Did President Obama or the criminal interests that put him in office have Andrew Breitbart killed?” Read More

Death toll in south Yemen attacks rises to 85

(Reuters) - At least 85 soldiers were killed in twin suicide bombings and ensuing clashes with al Qaeda-linked fighters in south Yemen Sunday, medical sources said Monday.

Militants detonated two vehicles laden with explosives at two army posts outside the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar early Sunday, sparking heavy clashes between Islamist fighters and the military.

Medics Sunday had put the number of army personnel killed at 35. A military source said some soldiers were also missing.

The attacks, which were claimed by al Qaeda, are the latest since president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office last month.

The violence highlights the challenges he faces as he tries to stabilize Yemen after a year of protests against his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Source

South Koreans react to North's threats

Mar. 5 - South Koreans are not worried about North Korea's threats. Sophia Soo reports.

Koran burning breeds Afghan suicide bombers

(Reuters) - Matihullah, 24, had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Then news spread that Western soldiers had burned many copies of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base in Afghanistan.

He gave up his studies and embarked on a new mission in life -- to become a suicide bomber.

"Since the desecration and burnings of holy books of the Koran, I have been burning with the desire of revenge. It is running in my blood," said Matihullah, wearing the traditional white skull cap worn by many Afghans.

"I have two other brothers to take care of our family and I feel very proud to get my revenge."

The desecration of the Korans, which the United described as unintentional, triggered widespread protests in which 30 people were killed. Afghan security forces turned their weapons on American soldiers.

Two senior U.S. officers were shot dead at their desks in the heart of the Interior Ministry by what Afghan security officials said was a police intelligence officer, stunning NATO and the Kabul government. Read More

U.S. to offer legal backing for "targeted killing": source

(Reuters) - The Obama administration on Monday plans to outline how U.S. laws empower the government to kill Americans overseas who engage in terrorism against their home country, a source familiar with the matter said, months after a drone strike killed a U.S.-born cleric who plotted attacks from Yemen.

Civil liberties groups have been pressuring the administration to offer justification for what has been described as a top-secret "targeted kill" program in which Americans who have joined al Qaeda or other militants are deemed legitimate targets to be killed overseas.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to address the issue and the underpinning legal principles for using lethal force during remarks at Northwestern University School of Law on Monday afternoon in Chicago, the source said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

The Obama administration has stepped up using unmanned aerial drones against terrorism suspects including the September killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born cleric who went into hiding in Yemen who had been directing al Qaeda militants to launch several attacks against the United States. Read More

Syrian troops pursue crackdown in Deraa, Homs

(Reuters) - Syrian forces flooded the city of Deraa on Monday after overnight clashes there and pursued "clean-up" operations in Homs, where the Red Cross was still struggling to gain access to a former rebel bastion.

China said it would send an envoy to Syria to try to halt a conflict that has divided Beijing from Western and Arab powers demanding stronger action against President Bashar al-Assad.

Hundreds of troops and security men fanned out in Deraa, where the anti-Assad revolt flared nearly a year ago, on a scale not seen for months, a resident of the southern city said.

The clampdown followed attacks on security checkpoints in the city centre that were also the most extensive for months. At least one person was killed, the Deraa resident told Reuters.

Outgunned rebels have multiplied hit-and-run assaults across Syria in the last few days to signal their defiance after the military overran the Baba Amr district of Homs. Read More

Growth worries send world shares, euro lower

(Reuters) - World stocks fell and the euro traded near two-week lows on Monday after fresh economic data raised expectations of a recession in Europe, and China signaled it would accept a slower growth rate.

Nervousness over whether Greece will complete a bond exchange with private creditors by March 8, to secure a 130 billion euro ($172 billion) bailout deal and avoid a messy debt default, also undermined demand for riskier assets.

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street with January factory orders data and a key index of non-manufacturing activity in February, due at 1500 GMT, likely to extend the focus on the outlook for the global economy. Read More

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA - 5th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the San Francisco Bay Area, California at a depth of 8.8 km (5.5 miles), the quake hit at 13:33:12 UTC Monday 5th March 2012
The epicenter was 2 km (1.2 miles) North from El Cerrito, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

NOTE: A second earthquake followed this one slightly shallower with a depth of 5,5 km measuring 4.0 Magnitude, for some unknown reason USGS decided to remove this one altogether.

Please if you are in the Area could you confirm the 2nd Earthquake, Much appreciated, thank you.

Just noticed that one of my Maps has not been refreshed since the 2 quakes hit, so took a screenshot to show the quakes how they
originally appeared on USGS before they removed 1.

Witchcraft Torture Couple Jailed For Life for the Murder of Kristy Bamu, with a Minimum Term of 30 Years



A couple convicted of torturing and drowning a teenage boy they accused of being a witch have been jailed for life.

Kristy's sister Magalie, 29, was given a minimum term of 25 years and her partner Eric Bikubi, 28, a minimum term of 30 years.

They were sentenced at the Old Bailey in London following their convictions last week for the murder.

Judge David Paget told the couple that they were guilty of "prolonged torture involving metal and physical suffering being inflicted before death."

Kristy, 15, died in a bath at a tower block flat in Newham, east London, on Christmas Day 2010 after days of brutal abuse. Read More

Tibetans take their lives in protest of Chinese rule

(CNN) -- The unrest among Tibetans in western areas of China appeared to take another macabre turn over the weekend with reports that a mother of four and a middle school student died after setting themselves on fire in separate protests against Chinese rule.

The acts -- which the Chinese government has not confirmed -- would bring the total number of reported self-immolations by Tibetans in China during the past year to more than 20, according to estimates from advocacy groups.

They follow an increase in security measures by the Chinese authorities in the region in response to the unrest of recent months and ahead of the sensitive anniversary of protests by Tibetan monks four years ago that ended in bloodshed.

The mother of four, a 32-year-old woman named Rinchen, set herself alight Sunday in front of Kirti Monastery in the county of Aba, which Tibetans call Ngaba, in Sichuan Province, the Tibetan advocacy group Free Tibet said in a statement. Read More

U.S. NAVY rescues Iranian in capsized boat

(CNN) -- The U.S. Navy rescued a survivor from an Iranian cargo vessel that sank in the Persian Gulf, killing at least three other crew members, the military said Sunday.

It was the latest incident in a string of rescues since the beginning of the year, against a backdrop of high tensions between the United States and Iran.

The coastal patrol boat USS Firebolt and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maui conducted a search and rescue mission for survivors of the capsized Iranian dhow -- a sailing vessel typically used to haul cargo -- on Saturday and Sunday, the Navy said in a statement. The Firebolt's crew also recovered the remains of three of those who had died in the sinking, the Navy said.

One survivor was recovered and treated for shock and hypothermia. He said the dhow sank in bad weather Friday night with six mariners aboard. The sailor reported that four of his shipmates died and one was missing, according to the Navy. Read More

U.S.-Afghan tensions threaten strategic talks

(CNN) -- The United States appeared Monday to raise the possibility there may be no long-term strategic agreement with Afghanistan after American troops withdraw in 2014, a move that comes amid heightened tensions over the burning of Qurans by U.S. soldiers.

The sticking point in negotiations over a Strategic Partnership Agreement, which would provide support and aid to Afghanistan, appears to be an end to night raids and speed up a timeline to hand over U.S.-run detention facilities.

No one in Washington or Kabul has publicly said the two countries are at an impasse, though the negotiations have dragged on for nearly a year.

Over the weekend, the United States released a brief statement that for the first time appeared to question whether an agreement could be reached. Read More

Checkpoint attacks kill 23 Iraqi police

(CNN) -- Gunmen in SUVs opened fired on numerous checkpoints in iraq's Anbar province early Monday, killing at least 23 police, authorities in Ramadi and Baghdad said.

One of the attackers was killed in the shootouts with officers, according to police officials, who said the rest of the gunmen -- dressed in Iraqi security forces uniforms -- fled to unknown locations.

The gunmen opened fired on each checkpoint after claiming to have papers for the arrest two officers from the city.

The shootings took place in Haditha, a predominantly Sunni town about a 360 kilometers (225 miles) west of Baghdad. Source