Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pope Shenouda III: Egypt's Coptic pope dies at 88

Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian community for nearly four decades, died Saturday, according to the head of the Egyptian General Coptic Association. He was 88.

"Shenouda III suffered renal failure ... due to the diabetes he endured for years," Sheif Doss told CNN.

The leader of the Coptic Christian community for 38 years, Shenouda was in poor health off and on for many years. He traveled to the United States to undergo medical tests last year.

Egypt's population is roughly 9% Coptic Christian, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Christian minority has been the target of a number of high-profile attacks in the past several years, including the bombing of a major church in Alexandria last January that left at least 21 people dead.

"The funeral is expected to take place in two days, as massive preparations must take place first. It is a historical event and 2 million people are expected to attend the prayers. I don't expect violence though," Doss said. more

Cyclone batters Australian coast

Mar 17 - Tropical Cyclone Lua makes landfall in Western Australia, packing winds of more than 250km per hour and raising fears of widespread flooding.

Fire breaks out in one of Kenya's biggest forests

Mar. 17 - Villagers and Kenya Wildlife Service rangers toil for days to put out a massive forest fire.

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Southern East Pacific Rise at a depth of 12 km (7.5 miles), the quake hit at 19:50:22 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 853 km (530 miles) SSE of Hanga Roa, Easter Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Fabrice Muamba 'Stable' After Collapse



Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba is stable and breathing again in a London hospital after collapsing on the pitch during a game with Tottenham.

He was rushed to hospital, where a spokesman said he is currently in stable condition after medical staff managed to restore his breathing.

Earlier, reporters at White Hart Lane had said Muamba's breathing had stopped.

It is still not clear what caused the footballer's collapse. There was no action going on around him when he collapsed 41 minutes into match. Read More

'Kony 2012' Honcho Jason Russell's NAKED MELTDOWN VIDEO

Uganda responds to Kony 2012 video with own video

(Reuters) - Uganda's government has taken to the Internet to correct a "false impression" about the country it says was created by a U.S. celebrity-backed online campaign to hunt down fugitive warlord Joseph Kony.

Uganda, which is spearheading efforts to find the suspected war criminal whose global profile soared after a YouTube video went viral, wants to show the world Kony is not in the country and it is doing all it can to find him.

Wanted by the International Criminal Court, Kony is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves and is said to have a fondness for hacking off limbs.

After founding his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the 1980s, Kony terrorized large parts of Uganda but his reign of terror has subsided since 2005 and he is now believed to command only a few hundred followers, scattered in remote jungle hideouts in neighboring countries.

"The Kony 2012 campaign fails to make one crucial point clear. Joseph Kony is not in Uganda," Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said in a 9-minute video posted on YouTube. Read More

Russian opposition stages new protests, over 20 held

(Reuters) - Russian police detained more than 20 people near the Kremlin on Saturday as the opposition staged two new anti-government protests following Vladimir Putin's presidential election win.

About 300 people attended the main demonstration at Pushkin Square in central Moscow where they listened to prominent opposition leaders condemning Putin's allegedly fraud-ridden election victory. A police spokesman said two people had been detained at the rally.

"There are not that many people here today but there are millions of us against Putin," 54 year-old businessman Vladimir Uralov told Reuters. "There was a majority against Putin in Moscow in the election. I think a lot of people are afraid now."

A wave of anti-Putin protests began over allegations of fraud in a parliamentary election won by his ruling United Russia party on December 4. But the protests have ebbed since Putin won a new, six-year presidential term on March 4 with almost 64 percent of the vote. Read More

Libya says Gaddafi spy chief arrested in Mauritania

(Reuters) - Mauritania arrested Muammar Gaddafi's ex-spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, after he arrived on an overnight flight, officials said on Saturday, triggering a three-way tussle for his extradition.

Senussi, who for decades before the late dictator's fall inspired fear and hatred in ordinary Libyans, is sought by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity during last year's conflict.

But Libya's new rulers insisted he would have a fair trial there, while France - confirming it played a role in his arrest - stressed his alleged role in the 1989 bombing of an airliner over Niger in which 54 French nationals died.

"Today we confirm the news of the arrest of Abdullah al-Senussi," Libyan government spokesman Nasser al-Manee told a news conference in Tripoli.

"He was arrested this morning in Nouakchott airport and there was a young man with him. We think it is his son," he said, confirming a Mauritanian state news agency report earlier that Senussi had been arrested with a false Malian passport arriving from Casablanca, Morocco. Read More

Iraq militia frees U.S. hostage after 9 months

(Reuters) - A militia loyal to Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr freed an American former soldier on Saturday after holding him captive in Baghdad for nine months.

The American, identified as Randy Michaels, was shown on television in a U.S. military uniform with no insignia, flanked by two members of parliament from Sadr's movement, including the parliament's first deputy speaker.

He was handed over to the United Nations mission in Baghdad, which said it was in touch with the U.S. embassy.

The Sadrist lawmakers described him as an American soldier, but Michaels said he was a former service member working in a civilian capacity at the time he was captured, last June.

The former captive said he had been held by the Yom al-Maoud, or Promised Day Brigade, an offshoot of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia which remained armed after Sadr disbanded most Mehdi Army units in 2008. Read More

'This American Life' retracts Foxconn report after Reporter Fabricated Some Information (He Lied)

Acclaimed Public Radio International program "This American Life" has retracted an entire episode about working conditions inside Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer that builds much of Apple's most popular hardware, after learning the reporter "partially fabricated" information about his visit to the factories.

In the episode, PRI aired a monologue from reporter Mike Daisey, a self-proclaimed performer whose one-man show, "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," detailed alarming labor practices which he claimed to witness during his time visiting Foxconn.

Among the many facts Daisey fabricated, according to PRI, were the number of Foxconn factories he visited, the number of workers he spoke with, as well a major lie about meeting with a number of workers who claimed to have been poisoned by chemicals used on iPhone assembly lines.

"Daisey lied to me and to "This American Life" producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast," the show's host, Ira Glass, wrote in a blog post on Friday. "That doesn't excuse the fact that we never should've put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake."

The retraction came even as consumers lined up Friday to buy Apple's latest iPad amid protests over its treatment of workers -- protests that did little to dampen sales. Read More

Al Qaeda calls for revolt in Pakistan

(CNN) -- Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is calling on Pakistanis to join the Arab Spring uprisings and revolt against their government, saying the country's leaders are "slaves of America," according to a recent video posted on jihadist forums Friday.

"Cannot a million free and noble people rise from amongst the Muslims of Pakistan to stage a protest against the generals of Pakistan army so as to force them to stop their treachery ... by participating with America in its war against Islam, compel them to stop drone strikes and pressurize them to bring an end to army operations in the tribal areas?" al-Zawahiri says in the video, according to a translation by the Site Intelligence group, which monitors jihadi forums.

The video is not dated, but al-Zawahiri makes a reference to a U.S. airstrike in late November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the border with Afghanistan. The airstrike further eroded fragile relations between the United States and Pakistan.

Al-Zawahiri seizes on that relationship to argue for a countrywide revolt in Pakistan, pointing out that "partnership with America only leads to loss in this world and the hereafter." Read More

North Korea invites foreigners to satellite launch

(CNN) -- North Korea will invite foreign space experts and journalists to witness the launch of a satellite that the United States and other nations see as a provocation, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday.

The apparent attempt at North Korean transparency comes amid a flurry of condemnations of its planned launch because it uses ballistic missile technology.

Pyongyang is set to launch next month an "Earth observation" satellite using a carrier rocket, a move that would potentially violate a United Nations Security Council ban on nuclear testing.

The planned launch has put at risk a deal struck last month between the United States and North Korea in which Pyongyang agreed to halt nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and enrichment activities in exchange for food aid. Read More

Deadly Damascus bombings blamed on 'terrorists'

(CNN) -- A series of deadly explosions rocked parts of Damascus Saturday with some of the targets being Syrian government facilities, witnesses and state television reported.

At least 27 people were killed and 97 others were wounded in two blasts, state TV reported, quoting Syrian Health Minister Wael Halki.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said early indications were that two booby-trapped cars exploded in crowded areas. It put the death toll at 24, with 140 people injured and serious damage caused to surrounding buildings.

One explosion occurred near the customs criminal investigations department, witnesses said. Another struck near the Air Force intelligence headquarters in Tahrir Square in a different area of the city.

State TV reports blamed the explosions on "terrorists." Read More

Fukushima evacuees upset over gov't plan for set compensation amounts

Residents evacuated from their nuclear disaster-hit hometowns in Fukushima Prefecture have expressed discontent over the government's plan to compensate them in set amounts.

"I can't accept the uniform compensations," said Ichiro Shiga, 64, a farmer from the Fukushima Prefecture town of Futaba, which hosts the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, after a government panel for screening nuclear disaster reparation disputes presented a compensation policy on March 16.

Shiga, whose wife and grandchild went missing following the March 11, 2011 tsunami, was forced to leave Futaba due to the nuclear disaster without being able to search for his loved ones. He is currently evacuated in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture.

"I'm given up on the idea of returning to my hometown, as a temporary storage facility (for contaminated soil and waste) is likely to be built there," he said. "I can't easily accept the government's compensation policy, which is to make up for our ancestral assets to be lost forever at the same price as before the quake disaster. Our psychological pain would not be compensated for by uniform reparation of 100,000 yen a month (as long as evacuation continues)." Source

No. of foreigners overstaying visas in Japan hits all-time low...Wonder why?

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The number of foreigners overstaying their visas as of Jan. 1 in Japan declined 14.6 percent from a year earlier to 67,065, hitting an all-time low since 1990 when comparable data became available, the Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau said Friday.

The number marked the 19th consecutive yearly fall. The bureau said the collection of fingerprints when entering Japan as part of a biometric authentication system has mainly contributed to the decline in the number of overstayers.

Of the total, South Koreans accounted for 16,927, Chinese 7,807 and Filipinos 6,908, it said. By status of visa, overstaying of the short-period stay for up to 90 days accounted for 70 percent, or 46,845.

The number of foreigners overstaying visas in Japan has been falling since it came to roughly 300,000 in 1990, according to the bureau. Source

Fabrice Muamba Collapses On Pitch during during a an FA Cup quarter-final

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba has collapsed on the pitch during a game with Tottenham.

He has now been rushed to hospital. Reporters at the scene said the player had stopped breathing.

There was no action going on around him when he collapsed 41 minutes into match.

Players rushed to his aid and looked on in horror as medics worked to resuscitate him using CPR and a defibrilator.

The crowd fell silent Bolton manager Owen Coyle ran on to the pitch to see what had happened.

The former England Under-21 star was taken off on a stretcher as fans held their heads in their hands, with some in tears.

Referee Howard Webb called off the match, an FA Cup quarter-final, after the incident.

As a message was relayed around the stadium that the game was off, the fans applauded and chanted Muamba's name before solemnly filing out of the stadium.

The player, born in Zaire, is just 23 years old. He came to Britain as a political refugee, and has also played for Arsenal and Birmingham City. Read More

Pakistan parliament in chaos over relations with America

Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake - CARLSBERG RIDGE


Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Magnitude5.5
Date-Time
Location 3.898°N, 63.403°E
Depth9.7 km (6.0 miles)
RegionCARLSBERG RIDGE
Distances1123 km (697 miles) W of MALE, Maldives
1188 km (738 miles) WNW of Hithadhoo, Maldives
1256 km (780 miles) SW of Kavaratti, Lakshadweep, India
3012 km (1871 miles) E of NAIROBI, Kenya
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 16.1 km (10.0 miles); depth +/- 4.9 km (3.0 miles)
ParametersNST=193, Nph=193, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=1.29 sec, Gp= 50°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=5
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusb0008j0s

Magnitude 5.0 Earthquake - CARLSBERG RIDGE


Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Magnitude5.0
Date-Time
Location 3.738°N, 63.452°E
Depth10 km (6.2 miles)
RegionCARLSBERG RIDGE
Distances1118 km (694 miles) W of MALE, Maldives
1175 km (730 miles) WNW of Hithadhoo, Maldives
1262 km (784 miles) SW of Kavaratti, Lakshadweep, India
3015 km (1873 miles) E of NAIROBI, Kenya
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 21 km (13.0 miles); depth +/- 2.8 km (1.7 miles)
ParametersNST= 74, Nph= 74, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=1.05 sec, Gp=112°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=3
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusb0008izt

Angelica Houston: "US has returned to Dark Ages"

Aspartame: The product to die for? (Have you researched the food you're consuming?)

Syria: Hama Explosion Caught on Camera (But what is it really showing?)

We need a revolution, not an election (Hear, hear)

Base jumper and skydiver Felix Baumgartner hurls self from edge of space (Awesome)

Occupy Miami raided by SWAT teams

Asahi TV: “Unbelievable” — If Unit 4 pool gets a crack from quake and leaks, it would be end for Tokyo -Expert — Doesn’t have to be large tremor

Most discussion of the No. 4 spent fuel pool has focused on an earthquake causing the pool to collapse. This video is different because it reveals:

1) A crack, rather than the collapse of the pool itself, can be the end of Tokyo

2) The quake that could put a crack in the pool and be the end of Tokyo does not have to be a large one

3) The sense of shock when people in Japan are made aware of this information for the first time more

Russian fighter jet buzzes Panetta, Kyryg Republic base

Old habits die hard.

As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta early Wednesday prepared to take off from this remote outpost in Central Asia for a visit to Afghanistan, the deafening sound of a war plane flying low and fast was heard directly overhead.

One of the US fighter planes escorting his Air Force C-17 to the war zone?

Nope.

It was a Russian military jet buzzing the airfield in a Cold War-style flyover to let the American defense chief know that Moscow was watching him – and a stark reminder of the Russian government’s displeasure with the US military presence in its backyard.

"They have never done that before," said a senior defense official traveling with Panetta, who was told of the incident by the air base commander. more

This American Life iPad doc had 'numerous fabrications'

An artist admitted Friday to taking shortcuts in crafting an often harrowing tale about Apple Inc.'s operations in China after the veracity of his one-man theatrical show was challenged by a public radio program that had based a broadcast on his work.

But writer Mike Daisey said he stands by his monologue and called what he does theatre, and not journalism.

"It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity," Daisey said in a statement posted on his website.

Citing what he called "numerous fabrications," Ira Glass, the host of the popular public radio show This American Life, said he could not vouch for the truth of a Jan. 6 broadcast excerpted from Daisey's critically acclaimed one-man show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

The public radio program also airs on CBC Radio.

Later Friday, The New York Times said it had removed a questionable paragraph from the online archive of an op-ed piece Daisey wrote for the newspaper in October. more

Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake - CARLSBERG RIDGE


Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Magnitude5.2
Date-Time
Location 3.862°N, 63.387°E
Depth10 km (6.2 miles)
RegionCARLSBERG RIDGE
Distances1124 km (698 miles) W of MALE, Maldives
1188 km (738 miles) WNW of Hithadhoo, Maldives
1258 km (781 miles) SW of Kavaratti, Lakshadweep, India
3011 km (1870 miles) E of NAIROBI, Kenya
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 20.6 km (12.8 miles); depth +/- 2.8 km (1.7 miles)
ParametersNST= 48, Nph= 48, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=1.38 sec, Gp=101°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=5
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusb0008izd

Magnitude 4.7 Earthquake - NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN


Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Magnitude4.7
Date-Time
Location38.166°N, 141.525°E
Depth56.4 km (35.0 miles)
RegionNEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
Distances57 km (35 miles) E of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
103 km (64 miles) ENE of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
104 km (64 miles) E of Yamagata, Honshu, Japan
318 km (197 miles) NNE of TOKYO, Japan
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 23 km (14.3 miles); depth +/- 10.6 km (6.6 miles)
ParametersNST= 78, Nph= 79, Dmin=345.1 km, Rmss=1.08 sec, Gp=122°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=7
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusb0008iyt

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEW ZEALAND - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck New Zealand at a depth of 110 km (68.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:05:19 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 20 km (12.4 miles) South of Waitotara, Whanganui, New Zealand
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck near Christchurch, New Zealand at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 11:55:23 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 17 km (10 miles) ESE of Christchurch, New Zealand
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 30.6 km (19 miles), the quake hit at 11:24:43 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 41 km (25 miles) WSW of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck the Virgin Islands Region at a depth of 86 km (53.4 miles), the quake hit at 11:09:31 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 98 km (61 miles) North from Settlement, Anegada, British Virgin Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Tom Gieryic: Business Owner Threatened with Jail Time for Flying American Flag

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake LUZON, PHILIPPINES - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Luzon, Philippines at a depth of 35.4 km (22 miles), the quake hit at 10:25:05 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 65 km (40 miles) ENE of Laoag, Luzon, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

North Korea rocket launch plan sparks US threat

North Korea announced Friday it would launch a rocket carrying a satellite next month, sparking widespread condemnation and US threats that it could put much-needed food aid in jeopardy.

The United States, Japan and South Korea said the plan, announced just 16 days after Pyongyang agreed to suspend long-range missile tests in return for the US food aid, would breach a UN ban imposed after previous launches.

Blast-off will be between April 12 and 16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-Sung, the communist state's official news agency and state television said.

The US State Department called the proposed launch "highly provocative" and a threat to regional security.

And it voiced doubt over whether it could move ahead with providing food aid to North Korea if Pyongyang followed through with its threat.

"Were we to have a launch, it would create obviously tensions and that would make the implementation of any kind of nutritional agreement quite difficult," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Nuland said that US diplomats told their North Korean counterparts prior to the February 29 agreement that a missile launch would be a "deal breaker." more

Department of Homeland Security Terror Document Lists Yawning, Goose Bumps As Suspicious Behavior

The document (PDF), entitled Terrorism Awareness and Prevention, is presented as a guide for both “residents and workers of New Jersey,” along with employees of federal, state and local agencies, on how to “assist in combating terrorism” by identifying “unusual or suspicious activities and behaviors.”

The guide encourages participants to “look for signs of nervousness in the people you come in contact with.” “Signs will become particularly evident in a person’s eyes, face, next and body movements.”

The document then lists examples of suspicious behavior indicative of terrorism, which include, “Exaggerated yawning when engaged in conversation,” “glances,” “cold penetrating stare,” “rigid posture,” and “goose bumps”.

Of course, any of these behaviors could be explained by a million other circumstances and the likelihood that they are indications of terrorist activity is virtually zero.

However, as we have seen from recent literature put out by the DHS or related law enforcement bodies, the standard for being characterized as a potential terrorist is getting broader and broader all the time. more

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN- 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 10.3 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 10:16:26 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 241 km (149 miles) SSE of Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Foot-and-mouth disease spreads in Egypt

Egypt's veterinary authorities say foot-and-mouth disease has left more than 2,000 young cattle dead.

Egypt's local press on Friday quoted veterinary official Essam Abdel-Shakour as saying that 24,500 livestock have been infected with the disease over the past two weeks. Most of the infections have come in the Nile Delta provinces in northern Egypt.

Agriculture Minister Mohammed Ismail told parliament this week that the ministry has ordered the isolation of infected animals, the closure of cattle markets across the country and is working on providing a new vaccine for the highly contagious disease.

Egyptian farmers have accused the government of incompetence, and have thrown dead cows in front of the governors' offices during protests. source

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS, RUSSIA - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Kuril Islands, Russia at a depth of 43 km (26.7 miles), the quake hit at 09:09:59 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 125 km (77 miles) SSW of Severo-Kuril'sk, Kuril Islands, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anchorage, Alaska, eyes snow record for this year

A near-record snowfall this winter has buried Anchorage neighborhoods, turning streets into snow-walled canyons and even collapsing some roofs.

But some residents are hoping for more, at least another 3.3 inches. Then they could say they made it through the winter when the nearly 60-year record of 132.6 inches was broken.

"I want it destroyed," resident Melissa Blair said. "I want to see another foot and knock that record out of the park."

Even by Alaska standards, this winter is unusual for the hardy residents of the state's largest city. But extreme weather isn't just affecting Alaska, it has also hit the Lower 48. more

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 17th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck South of the Fiji Islands at a depth of 545.5 km (339 miles), the quake hit at 06:21:02 UTC Saturday 17th March 2012
The epicenter was 311 km (193 miles) SSW of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

NYPD uses facial recognition software on Facebook to catch suspect: You're next

New York City detectives have used cutting-edge facial recognition software to capture a man suspected in a shooting at a barbershop.

The bullet grazed the 39-year-old man's head. He required stitches, but will survive.

Police say the man was beaten and shot on March 10 over a neighborhood dispute as he tried to get a haircut.

The victim knew the shooter but not his name, pulled up a Facebook photo and gave it to police. Authorities at the Real Time Crime Center fed the photo through the system and a match appeared: The suspect's prior mug shot.

The center has a database of mug shots, names and nicknames.

Authorities arrested the 37-year-old suspect about a day later in Brooklyn. source

Sarah Butler and three of her children disrobe outside Pennsylvania School, chanting "God is great" -- and were then arrested

Authorities say four family members were arrested after stripping naked outside a suburban Philadelphia high school and chanting "God is great."

Upper Darby police say it happened around 1 p.m. Friday in a parking lot outside school.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood says investigators don't know why 44-year-old Sarah Butler and three of her children — 23-year-old Joanne Butler, 22-year-old Bessie Butler and a 14-year-old son — decided to disrobe.

He says the mother had gone there around 10 a.m., demanding to see a student. After she was denied admission, Chitwood says the family lay on the ground and began chanting, eventually shedding their clothing.

Chitwood says the adults will be charged with defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and open lewdness. A telephone listing for them could not be found. source

Bonobos, the closest species to humanity, on brink of extinction

A species of ape is on the brink of extinction in central Africa, even though the animals are addicted to sex.

Bonobo apes live in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and often have sex every few minutes.

But because they have quite low fertility, are hunted for their meat and their babies are stolen as pets, their numbers are now perilously low.

The bonobos -- the closest species to humans -- are now classified as "endangered."

Evelyne Peteolot, from Lola Ya Bonobos Sanctuary near Kinshasa, said, "We know that the number of animals is diminishing in dramatic proportions."

Before the years of brutal civil war in the DRC, it was estimated there were around 100,000 bonobo apes. Now it is feared there are around 5,000, along with those housed in a handful of zoos around the world.

Peteolot said the exact number was unknown. more

Lori Anne Sedlacek Becicka: Teen Calls 911, Reports Mom As Drunk Driver (While they were driving!)

An Iowa woman was arrested for drunk driving last night after her 15-year-old daughter--who was a passenger in her mother’s car--called 911 to contemporaneously report that her parent was “impaired” behind the wheel.

As a result, cops busted Lori Anne Sedlacek Becicka, a 47-year-old Oxford resident, for operating a vehicle under the influence, child endangerment, and resisting arrest, all misdemeanors.

According to District Court criminal complaints, Becicka’s daughter, “who was in the car with her,” called 911 to “report defendant was impaired and driving.” A Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputy subsequently contacted Becicka after she pulled her vehicle into a parking lot.

Becicka, the cop reported, “smelled heavily of ingested alcohol. Her speech was slurred. Her eyes were bloodshot and watery.” The wobbly Becicka copped to drinking and failed a series of field sobriety tests. Additionally, a Breathalyzer test recorded her blood alcohol level at .235, nearly three times the state limit.

Becicka’s daughter told Deputy Matt Hendricks that her mother “was even consuming while driving with her in the car.” The investigator reported discovering “open containers in the car.” more

Assange to run for Senate: Wikileaks

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange plans to run for a seat in the Australian Senate, despite being under house arrest in the United Kingdom, the whistleblower group has tweeted.

Wikileaks announced its intentions on Saturday, saying the organisation also planned to field a candidate to run against Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her seat of Lalor at the next election.

"We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian Senate while detained. Julian has decided to run," the Wikileaks website tweeted.
Assange is being detained in England facing possible extradition to Sweden, where police want to question him over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in 2010. source

Severe Tropical Cyclone Lua crosses Australian coast

Reports of extensive damage are emerging from Western Australia's Pilbara region, as Tropical Cyclone Lua continues to batter communities.

The cyclone crossed the coast north of Port Hedland as a category four system about 3pm AWST on Saturday.

Jim Cahill from the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) says the township of Port Hedland seems to have avoided any damage.

But he says it is a different situation in Pardoo, which was directly in Lua's path.

"The report from Pardoo Roadhouse is that they have some damage to the property. It seems to be extensive but they can't be sure because there's a lot of water in the area and it's getting pretty dark," he said.

FESA crews will fly to Pardoo on Sunday to assess the damage.

Steve Bunce is a ranger at Cape Keraudren, an area that was in the cyclone's firing line.

"The house... If I was in a boat I would say I was sinking, I'm taking water pretty badly, the winds are just horrendous outside," he said. more

Explosions rock Syrian capital, 27 dead, 97 wounded

A series of deadly explosions rocked parts of Damascus Saturday with some of the targets being Syrian government facilities, witnesses and state television reported.

At least 27 people were killed and 97 others were wounded in the two blasts, state TV reported, quoting Syrian Health Minister Wael Halki.

One explosion occurred near the customs criminal investigations department, witnesses said. Another struck near the Air Force intelligence headquarters in Tahrir Square in a different area of the city.

A third explosion occurred in a bus belonging to the Palestine Liberation Army camp in another part of Damascus, witnesses said. Syrian state TV did not confirm that that blast happened.

State TV reports blamed the explosions on "terrorists." more

Note: Strangely, these tactics are very similar to those used by other terror groups, such as Al Queda, or what has been seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although, perhaps not so strangely once we carefully think about it.

Hundreds of elephants slaughtered at African wildlife park as horseback riding poachers kill HALF the population

These heartbreaking photos show the extent of an elephant slaughter in the troubled nation of Cameroon.

At least half the elephant population in Bouba N'Djida reserve have been slaughtered because the west African nation sent too few security forces to tackle poachers, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Thursday.

In what was described as one of the worst poaching massacres in decades, and at least 200 elephants have been killed for their tusks since January by poachers on horseback from Chad and Sudan.

'WWF is disturbed by reports that the poaching continues unabated,' Natasha Kofoworola Quist, WWF's representative in the region, said in a statement.

About 20 fresh elephant carcasses were discovered last week, a spokesperson for the organisation said from Cameroon. Read More

The government has commissioned a report to assess the impact of a potential terror attack on Washington, D.C. - and the results are frightening

It is perhaps unsurprising that a nuclear bomb set off in the nation's capital would cause devastating and widespread damage.

Yet the simple conclusion did not put the government off, and they commissioned a report to assess the impact of a potential terror attack on Washington, D.C.

The results are far from comforting: the half-mile radius around the bomb would have a low chance of survival and most buildings - including that of the federal government - would be destroyed.

The study simulated a nuclear strike on 16th and K streets, which is the heart of the city and just a couple of blocks from the White House.

Buildings including the White House, the Capitol, Treasury Department, Old Executive Office Building and many along the National Mall would be instantly destroyed.

The next half mile would suffer extensive damage, fires and serious injuries, and those within three miles could suffer minor injuries and slight damage to their homes.

But it was the fallout which the National Capital Region: Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism study - held last year - suggested could be the most fearful aspect. Read More

Shaquan Duley confesses to suffocating her two toddlers, strapping them in car seats and dumping vehicle in river because she 'wanted to be free'.

An unemployed and mentally ill South Carolina mother pleaded guilty on Friday to suffocating her two toddlers and then leaving their bodies in car seats in a vehicle she dumped in a river.

Shaquan Duley, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder.

She faces 30 years to life on each count when she is sentenced later this month, prosecutor David Pascoe said.

'She accepted criminal responsibility for what she did,' Mr Pascoe said.

The case was similar to that of another South Carolina mother, Susan Smith, who drowned her two sons, three-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alexander in a vehicle in 1994.

Duley suffocated her two children, two-year-old Devean and 18-month-old Ja'van, in August 2010. Read More

Japan using overseas food aid to help dispel contamination fears

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and the U.N. World Food Program exchanged notes Friday on using certified-safe food products from disaster-hit eastern Japan as overseas aid as a way to dispel fears over radioactive contamination.

Using 1 billion yen in a supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 ending this month, the WFP will procure canned fish products made in Aomori, Iwate, Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures and provide Cambodia and four other developing countries with these products for school lunches and other purposes, Japanese officials said.

The official development aid plan has come under fire from some citizens' groups, which are concerned about radioactive contamination of food products as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

"We would like to break down deep-rooted fears overseas by exporting food products that are certified as safe after being tested for radiation," a senior Foreign Ministry official said. Read More

Iran sanctions seen spurring more Saudi oil sales to U.S.

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is preparing to extend this year's unexpected jump in oil sales to the United States, adding to speculation about the response of the world's top oil exporter to sanctions against Iran and a rally in prices.

The kingdom's shipments to the United States have quietly risen 25 percent to the highest level since mid-2008, according to preliminary U.S. government data, a sizeable leap that appears at least partly related to the imminent completion of a major expansion at its joint-venture Motiva refinery in Texas.

But some say the scale of the increase, plus other U.S. data showing Gulf Coast inventories are still subdued, suggest the potential for a political dimension as well, evoking comparisons to 2008 when the OPEC kingpin was driving up production to knock oil prices off record highs near $150 a barrel.

The surge appears set to continue. Vela, Saudi Arabia's state oil tanker company, has booked at least nine very large crude carriers (VLCCs) capable of carrying 2 million barrels of crude each from the Middle East Gulf to the U.S. Gulf since the start of March, the biggest such wave of fixtures in years, analysts say.

The pivot to the U.S. market, which bore the brunt of Saudi output curbs after 2008, is a surprise for two reasons. Read More

Anti-virus experts in red alert over new breed of cyber attack on Windows PCs

A new cyber attack found on Chinese websites can overwhelm Windows PCs - and the only way to stop it is to ensure your machine has the latest security 'patch'.

Security experts Sophos say that all PC users should be on 'high alert'.

So far, the code is 'proof-of-concept' - and affected machines will simply crash.

But security experts warn that the hackers who built it - exploiting a vulnerability in Windows that Microsoft warned about earlier this week - could swiftly move on to create a fast-spreading internet worm.

The vulnerability - described by Microsoft as 'critical' - is known as MS12-020 or the RDP flaw.

The critical vulnerability could be exploited to spread a worm automatically between vulnerable computers.

'The hackers worked quickly on this particular vulnerability and we've already seen attempts to exploit the flaw which exists in a part of Windows called the Remote Desktop Protocol,' said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

'Affected Windows computers will 'blue screen', but I wouldn't be surprised if whoever is writing this code tries to develop the attack further to produce a fast spreading internet worm.' Read More