Monday, March 26, 2012

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE - 27th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck offshore Bio-Bio, Chile at a depth of 22.5 km (14 miles), the quake hit at 02:46:12 UTC Tuesday 27th March 2012
The epicenter was 27 km (17 miles) Southwest from Concepcion, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

China Asked To Probe Death Of UK Businessman

The Government has asked China to investigate the mysterious death of a British businessman which may be linked to a political scandal that has engulfed the Communist Party.

Neil Heywood, who was in his early 40s, died in a hotel room in the city of Chongqing in November last year.

Chinese police said it was the result of "excessive alcohol consumption" and cremated his body without performing an autopsy.

But British officials now say they have received new information about the case.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, that information includes questions raised by friends of Mr Heywood, who say that he was teetotal.

"We are aware of suspicions and rumours surrounding his death," said a statement from the Foreign Office. Read More

Austrian Man Saws Off His Own Foot To Avoid Work

An unemployed Austrian man has sawed off his left foot, apparently to avoid being found fit enough to go back to work.

Police said the "desperate" 56-year-old man deliberately sliced it off above the ankle with a mechanical saw and threw it into an oven.

The man, from Mitterlabill in southern Austria, then hobbled into his garage and called an ambulance.

He sliced his foot off just a few hours before he was due to have a health check with the labour department on whether he was fit to work, Austrian broadcaster ORF reported.

When police arrived, the man was still conscious but had lost a lot of blood, local police chief Franz Fasching said.

Emergency services "looked in the oven and were able to recover the foot," Mr Fasching said.

"The foot was taken the hospital but it was so badly burned that it cannot be sewn back on."

The man was flown to hospital in Graz, where he was said to be in a stable condition. Source

Blunders at UK Border Agency allowed up to 50,000 bogus students to enter Britain illegally

More blunders by the under-fire UK Border Agency allowed up to 50,000 bogus students to enter Britain illegally, a damning report has revealed.

Flaws in the student visa system were exploited by migrants coming to the UK for work, according to the public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO).

Now furious MPs are calling on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) - already condemned by ministers after a catalogue of blunders - to "get a grip" and fix the way it deals with student visas.

"This is one of the most shocking reports of poor management leading to abuse that I have seen," said ex-Labour minister Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee of MPs.

The NAO report reveals the points-based system was set up without key controls, potentially leading to tens of thousands of migrants entering the UK without any checks as to whether they were attending a college.

The auditors also found the agency did little to ensure foreign students leave the UK when requests to extend their stay are refused. Read More

Tibetan Protester Sets Himself On Fire

A Tibetan man who set himself on fire in New Delhi to protest against this week's visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao will be lucky if he survives, according to doctors.

The 27-year-old doused himself in kerosene before torching himself at a city centre rally.

He has been identified as Janphel Yeshi by fellow protesters and was living in exile in the Indian capital.

Witnesses described how they saw the man screaming in pain as he ran down the street engulfed in orange flames leaving a trail of black smoke.

Nyimi Tashi, a 39-year-old Tibetan businessmen, described the shock of the crowd.

He told the AFP news agency: "One of the supporters threw a coat on him to try to put out the flames and then the police took him away to hospital. He was heavily burned. Read More

Obama's Open Mic Medvedev Missile Gaffe



Barack Obama's rivals for the White House have pounced on controversial comments he thought he had made in private to the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The US President was overheard on an open microphone telling Mr Medvedev that he could be more flexible in negotiations on the issue of missile defence if he is re-elected in November.

He said: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."

The exchange happened on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in South Korea and Medvedev is heard to respond positively in English.

He said: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

The president's comments triggered criticism from Republicans at home, including White House frontrunner Mitt Romney who called them "an alarming and troubling development".

"President Obama signalled that he's going to cave to Russia on missile defence but the American people have a right to know where else he plans to be 'flexible' in a second term," he said.

"President Obama needs to level with the American public about his real agenda." Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake NKEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA - 26th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Talaud, Indonesia at a depth of 64.4 km (40 miles), the quake hit at 22:21:06 UTC Monday 26th March 2012
The epicenter was 266 km (166 miles) SSE from General Santos, Mindanao, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Magnitude 5.0 Earthquake - BANDA SEA

Magnitude5.0
Date-Time
Location 4.056°S, 130.292°E
Depth55.7 km (34.6 miles)
RegionBANDA SEA
Distances237 km (147 miles) E of Ambon, Moluccas, Indonesia
367 km (228 miles) SSW of Sorong, Papua, Indonesia
720 km (447 miles) NE of DILI, Timor-Leste
932 km (579 miles) N of DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 14.6 km (9.1 miles); depth +/- 8.8 km (5.5 miles)
ParametersNST= 51, Nph= 51, Dmin=251.6 km, Rmss=0.86 sec, Gp= 58°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=6
Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusc0008qku

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE - 26th Mar 2012

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck the Northern East Pacific Rise at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:12:54 UTC Monday 26th March 2012
The epicenter was 863 km (536 miles) SSW from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake GUAM REGION - 26th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Guam Region at a depth of 55.1 km (34.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:09:29 UTC Monday 26th March 2012
The epicenter was 97 km (60 miles) South of HAGATNA, Guam
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Inovio Receives US Patent for SynCon® H1N1 Influenza Universal Vaccine.....2012 New Pandemic?

BLUE BELL, Pa., March 26, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. INO +4.88% announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted U.S. Patent No. 8,133,723, covering Inovio's SynCon® universal vaccine related to H1N1 influenza. The patent granted to the Trustees of The University of Pennsylvania has been licensed exclusively to Inovio under its existing license agreement with the university.

The patent includes claims that cover the synthetic consensus H1 antigen and DNA constructs and vaccines that include this antigen, including universal influenza vaccine INO-3510. This patent also covers methods of treating a patient using the SynCon® universal influenza vaccine.

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and CEO, said: "This patent is significant for Inovio. It validates the patentable novelty of our SynCon® technology and vaccines created using this technology. We have filed for additional patents to protect our broad emerging portfolio of SynCon vaccine products against multiple diseases. Furthermore, this issued patent covers an important component of our universal influenza vaccine, which is in clinical development. Inovio's universal flu vaccine is designed to protect against many if not all strains within multiple selected subtypes--most importantly against the perpetually emerging new strains for which there has never been truly preemptive protection."

Inovio researchers have previously shown that its H1N1 influenza SynCon® vaccine provided 100% protection of animals challenged with the 2009 swine origin H1N1 virus and, separately, the H1N1 virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu that killed over 40 million people. Additional animal studies have also shown that the vaccination generated protective HAI titers against other important H1N1 strains. The first H1N1 human data from Inovio's phase I study of VGX-3150, which consists of SynCon constructs against H1N1 and H5N1, is expected in Q2 2012. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE - 26th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Northern East Pacific Rise at a depth of 10.3 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:58:27 UTC Monday 26th March 2012
The epicenter was 541 km (336 miles) East of Clipperton Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE - 26th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Northern East Pacific Rise at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 17:58:27 UTC Monday 26th March 2012
The epicenter was 570 km (354 miles) East of Clipperton Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

8‚500 chickens culled in Lalitpur, India due to Bird Flu

LALITPUR: Some 8,500 chickens have been culled and 1,500 eggs destroyed in Lalitpur, following the detection of the avian influenza (H5N1) causing bird flu there.

The bird flu virus was detected in chickens of a poultry farm owned by one Dhiren Gurung of Sainbu-5 some five days ago. This was the first bird flu case in the district.

Similarly, lab test of the sample extracted from chickens of the poultry farm adjoining Gurung's farm turned out to be positive on Sunday. The farm was owned by one Kamal Ghimire.

The District Livestock Service Office, however, had faced problems to destroy chickens excreta following the obstruction from Gurung. Gurung wanted compensation for destroying the chicken excreta in his farm.

But, later he was agreed to have it destroyed following a meeting held among the bodies concerned on Monday. Chief of the District Livestock Service Office, Department of Animal Health Services, representatives from police administration and poultry entrepreneurs were present at the meeting. Read More

Swine flu case detected in Gujarat, India

Anand: A confirmed case of swine flu (H1N1 influenza) was reported in Rampura locality of Bakrol in Anand -- the first in Gujarat after the previous nation-wide outbreak of the epidemic.

"Ghanshyam Rathore (26) tested positive for swine flu, and his wife, mother and father are being given prophylactic treatment," District Health Officer SB Shah said.

The health officials have also started administering Tamiflu to the family members as a precautionary measure, he said.

Rathore, who got married on March 12, developed fever, cough and cold soon thereafter. He got admitted to a private hospital three days ago. Source

Fire along Highway 91 in northern New Mexico

CHIMAYO, N.M. (AP) - A 20-acre wildfire near Chimayo yesterday forced the evacuation of some residents. The New Mexico State Forestry Division said the fire along Highway 91 in northern New Mexico threatened about 100 homes but no other evacuations were reported.

Investigators believe the fire was deliberately set.
Source

Heavy rain leads to flooding, crashes, damp Ferraris in San Fernando Valley, California

A heavy, winter-like storm dumped showers across Los Angeles County Sunday, soaking the San Fernando Valley, causing fender benders on the freeways, flooding at intersections, and curtailing a popular supercar event.

Weather forecasters issued flood advisories for much of the county and predicted about a quarter of an inch of rain would fall on Los Angeles every hour since starting up around 9 a.m.

Heavy rain hopscotched around the area, bearing down on Malibu, where rockslides were reported. Showers also drenched the Conejo, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. Read More

North Sea gas leak: sea 'bubbling' under platform

A gas leak at Total's Elgin oil and gas platform in the North Sea, which led to the evacuation of all 238 workers, continued on Monday with observers claiming the sea looked as if it was "boiling".

Workers on a standby ship at the Elgin field reportedly saw vapour clouds forming and gas bubbling on the surface of the water under the platform, triggering the emergency evacuation on Sunday afternoon.

The Rowan Viking drilling rig was also evacuated and workers taken to other nearby installations before being taken onshore.

A core crew of 19 people initially remained on board the platform but were evacuated in the early hours of Monday morning "as a precautionary measure, due to the ongoing nature of the situation offshore", Total said.

They had arrived back in Aberdeen at 3.28am, leaving the Elgin Processing Utilities and Quarters platform "unmanned and powered down" - a situation that some in the industry claimed was "unprecedented". Read More

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHWEST INDIAN RIDGE - 26th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck the Southwest Indian Ridge at a depth of just 3.1 km (1.9 miles), the quake hit at 16:58:09 UTC Monday 26th March 2012
The epicenter was 1144 km (711 miles) SSE from PORT LOUIS, Mauritius
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF AISEN, CHILE - 26th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck off the coast of Aisen, Chile at a depth of 42.4 km (26.3 miles), the quake hit at 14:04:13 UTC Monday 26th March 2012
The epicenter was 431 km (267 miles) WSW of Castro, Los Lagos, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Union Votes In Favour Of UK Fuel Strike

Petrol tanker drivers have voted to go on strike, bringing the prospect of fuel shortages across Britain a step closer.

The Unite union, which represents the drivers, said its members voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action in a row over terms and conditions and safety.

Some 61.1% voted to press ahead with the walk-out in the ballot.

Unite has warned that it could bring chaos to the country's forecourts within 48 hours of any action going ahead.

But the Government has vowed to keep fuel supplies flowing and ministers say they will use emergency powers to bring in the army.

It is expected that soldiers would be used to drive tankers and that the police will try to prevent blockades at oil refineries and distribution plants.

Fuel deliveries last ground to a halt in 2000, denting the reputation of Tony Blair's government.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the Government had "learned the lessons" of the past.

Before the ballot result was announced he appealed to the union and employers to avert industrial action but said contingency plans were in place involving extra training for an estimated 300 soldiers over the next few weeks. Read More

British Soldiers Shot By Afghan Army Gunman



Two Nato soldiers shot dead by an Afghan National Army gunman at a base in southern Afghanistan were British, the defence secretary has confirmed.

Philip Hammond told the Commons that details of the incident at the British HQ in Lashkar Gar, Helmand province, are still emerging and next of kin are being informed.

"Our thoughts, as ever, are with their families, for whom this will be a deeply personal tragedy," said Mr Hammond.

"Details of the incident are still emerging but it appears that a member of the Afghan National Army opened fire at the entrance gate to the British headquarters in Lashkar Gar city, killing the two British service personnel.

"The assailant was killed by return fire."

A joint Afghan and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) team is investigating the incident. Read More

Japan to deploy Patriot missiles in Tokyo to guard city from North Korean rocket

Japan is to deploy surface-to-air missiles in central Tokyo in readiness for North Korea's planned rocket launch next month, its defense minister said Monday.

The preparation of an anti-missile battery in the densely packed capital city would be in addition to facilities on the southern island chain of Okinawa, Naoki Tanaka told lawmakers.

"We are working on procedures to deploy the Patriot in the Tokyo metropolitan area, acting on precedent," Tanaka told upper house members, referring to the PAC-3 surface-to-air missile defense system.

"We are also preparing to deploy the Patriot in the Nansei [southwestern] islands including Okinawa," as the second stage of North Korea's rocket is expected to fly over Japan's southernmost island chain, Tanaka added.

The announcement came as South Korea announced Monday that it is also preparing to shoot down the North Korean rocket if it strays into the South's territory during a launch planned for next month, the defense ministry said.

The South Korean and US military are closely monitoring activity at the Tongchang-ri base, a ministry spokesman said, a day after Seoul confirmed the main body of a rocket had been moved to the site in the North's northwest.

Seoul is concerned that the first stage of the rocket, scheduled to drop into the Yellow Sea between South Korea and China, may fall onto the South's territory, the spokesman said.

"We are preparing measures to track the missile's trajectory and shoot it down if it, by any chance, deviates from the planned route and falls into our territory," he said without elaborating.

The North has announced it will fire the rocket to put a satellite into orbit between April 12-16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il Sung. more

Astronauts scramble for escape pods as space junk threat gets serious

The six earthlings – three Russians, two Americans, and a Dutchman – aboard the International Space Station were stirred from their slumber Saturday morning to jump into emergency escape pods, once again drawing into focus the growing dangers of hurtling space junk.

The astronauts, orbiting 200 miles above the planet, were told by ground control to scramble into two docked Soyuz spacecrafts in case a piece of a wrecked Russian satellite should smash into the ISS, which could have heavily damaged the platform as both objects were traveling at orbital speeds – 17,500 miles per hour. The emergency was called off after the chunk passed by at an approximate distance of nine miles – which in space terms is a near-miss.

"Everything went by the book and as expected, the small piece of cosmos satellite debris passed the international space station without incident,” said a NASA spokesman.

Ground controllers did not believe the ISS was in extreme danger, but ordered the emergency maneuver after determining that the trajectories could intersect.

NASA says there are about 22,000 pieces of sizable space junk – primarily bits of old satellites – orbiting the earth and has in the past ordered the ISS crew to adjust the craft's path to avoid collisions. In all, NASA tracks nearly half a million pieces of space junk. more

Six players from a South African rugby club feared dead after ocean swim

Six players from a South African rugby club are feared dead after being swept out to sea during a post-practice ocean swim, officials have said.

One player from the Motherwell Rugby Football Club has already been declared dead in the weekend incident in the south-eastern coastal city of Port Elizabeth and the other five are classified as missing.

"The five are definitely presumed to be dead by now," Gordon Smart of the Coastal Water Rescue Squad told Reuters on Monday.

Authorities dispatched helicopters and boats to search for the missing players, who were preparing for an Easter tournament. They were thought to have been swept out to sea by a rip current.

"To have their afternoon turned into a day of tragedy is shocking for the whole rugby community and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families," the president of the South African Rugby Union, Oregan Hoskins, said in a statement. Read More

Extreme weather events increased over past decade, study says

Planet hit by more storms, heatwaves and floods than ever before as evidence points to human-induced climate change.

Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were "very likely" caused by human-induced global warming, according to a study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Scientists at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heatwaves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear.

"It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming," said the study. The past decade was probably the warmest globally for at least a millennium. Last year was the eleventh hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organisation said.

Extreme weather events were devastating in their impacts and affected nearly all regions of the world. They included severe floods and record hot summers in Europe; a record number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic in 2005; the hottest Russian summer since 1500 in 2010 and the worst flooding in Pakistan's history. In 2011 alone, the United States suffered 14 weather events which caused losses of over $1bn each.

The high amount of extremes is not normal, the study said. Even between 13 and 19 March this year, historical heat records exceeded in more than 1,000 places in North America. Read More

Baleen whale washed ashore at the Dehiwala beach outside the city of Colombo

The carcass of a 58ft long Baleen whale washed ashore at the Dehiwala beach outside the city of Colombo yesterday.

With more and more whales being sighted along the southern seas of the island nation and attracting whale watchers the flipside is the sights like these where carcasses are washed ashore at intervals.

Baleen whales are different to the other whales since instead of the normal teeth this species possess baleen plates to filter its food from the water. Source

Schmallenberg virus: alert over midges as weather warms

Common midges are likely be spreading a disease which has caused thousands of lambs and calves to be born dead or horribly deformed, scientists have found.

Schmallenberg virus, which has caused devastation across Europe, has now been confirmed on 209 farms in southern and eastern England, with cases stretching as far north as Lincolnshire.

Scientists examining the virus, which appears to be an entirely new disease, now believe they have identified how it is spread.

Researchers in Belgium, where hundreds of farms have been hit since December, have found three species of midge that carry the virus and so are likely to be responsible for passing the virus between animals.

All three species of midges – Culicoides obsoletus, Culicoides dewulfi and Culicoides pulicaris – are native to Britain.

Culicoides obsoletus is one of the most abundant species found on farms in the UK and is also responsible for transmitting the Bluetongue virus, which caused widespread disease in livestock in 2007 when insects were blown across the channel. Read More

Eight killed in fresh ethnic clashes in Kenya

Eight people, among them a Kenya Police reservist, were killed and thousands of animals stolen in separate attacks by Pokot raiders in Turkana County at the weekend.

Six herdsmen and a police reservist were shot dead when raiders from Pokot West and Pokot North districts attacked Kapelipok village in Turkana South District before escaping with goats and cattle.

Turkana South district commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said the more than 200 raiders also made away with the police reservist’s gun.

“The raiders ambushed the herdsmen while watering their animals, killing six of them on the spot,” said Mr Kanyiri, adding that the attack was well- coordinated.

A woman was killed when another team of raiders attacked Kotaruk in Loima District in renewed armed conflict between members of the Pokot and Turkana pastoral communities.

“The woman was watering the animals when she was shot dead by the raiders, who escaped towards Pokot North District,” said Loima district commissioner Moses Ivuto. Read More

2 leopards found dead in cane field‎, India

Two adult leopards were found dead in a cane field at Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary on Sunday. Authorities suspected it to be a case of poaching. The carcasses were found in Daulatpur village of the district here, divisional forest officer R K Singh said.

“The post-mortem report of the animals has revealed that they had died about four days back. The reason behind their death could not be ascertained,” the officer said.

The poaching dog squad of SSB was also called. Owner of the cane field has been detained for interrogation. Source