Friday, March 30, 2012

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NORTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND - 30th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the North Island of New Zealand at a depth of 29.5 km (18.3 miles), the quake hit at 18:47:38 UTC Friday 30th March 2012
The epicenter was 63 km (39 miles) ENE from WELLINGTON, New Zealand
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO - 30th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck offshore Chiapas, Mexico at a depth of 49.3 km (30.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:16:15 UTC Friday 30th March 2012
The epicenter was 88 km (55 miles) West from Suchiate, Chiapas, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Transpower battens down for sun storms

Transpower is brushing up plans to avoid South Island power cuts caused by massive storms on the Sun.

As the Sun heads towards its 11-year sunspot maximum - a result of its magnetic field switching between north and south - solar-storm activity is increasing.

Solar flares from sunspots eject radiation towards Earth in the form of X-rays and other charged particles, which can cause havoc with power and telecommunication systems and produce stunning auroral displays.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States says solar activity will peak this year and could be the most intense for 50 years.

National grid companies around the world are swinging into action to prepare for the worst.

In New Zealand, power networks in South Canterbury, Otago and Southland are most likely to be in the firing line.

The Spaceweather.com website says solar-storm activity in the past few days has been "quiet" to "unsettled", with a maximum of magnitude four.

A huge sunspot, AR1429, which caused flares and storms this month, generated a massive flare two days ago but it has missed Earth.

However, the Sun and sunspot AR1429 will start turning back towards Earth next week, raising the potential for solar storms directed this way. Read More

CCTV reveals mystery man taking Shoes and Handbag of woman who was hit by lorry and decapitated

Police investigating the decapitation of a woman by a lorry have revealed CCTV images of the victim before she was hit and a what appears to be a man seen walking off with her shoes and handbag afterwards.

Witnesses claim they saw an Asian man calmly bending down and picking up the possessions as pandemonium broke out in the aftermath of the tragedy near Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Police are still battling to identify the victim, who was dressed in in traditional Muslim attire, after no one reported a missing woman who matches her description.

She died instantly when she stepped into the path of the articulated lorry as it was being driven through the rush hour.

The ensuing impact propelled her handbag and shoes up to 100 yards from the rest of her body.

The grisly nature of the incident led to ghoulish onlookers taking sick pictures of the gruesome scene and posting them on Twitter.

Police want to track down the man who was captured on CCTV carrying objects including shoes. Read More

Outbreak of bird flu in pheasant flock near Clonakilty, Co Cork, Ireland

THE Department of Agriculture has confirmed an outbreak of avian flu in a small flock of pheasants near Clonakilty, Co Cork..

Preliminary results show the H5 strain is not the most pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus with further tests being carried out.

As a precautionary measure, the 100 birds on the affected premises are being slaughtered.

And in line with EU regulations, a 1km temporary restriction zone has been put in place around the premises.

The department also noted that there are no concerns relating to the consumption of poultry meat or poultry meat products and there are no restrictions on poultry movements outside the zone.

While the Department has ruled out the most highly pathogenic strain of Avian Influenza in this case, they persons having contact with birds should nonetheless ensure that appropriate biosecurity measures are in place, as set out in Government guidelines.

They advise that birds should be checked regularly and if an unusually high number of sick or dead animals are noticed they should notify their Regional Veterinary Office. Source

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN BARAT DAYA, INDONESIA - 30th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Barat Daya, Indonesia at a depth of 521.9 km (324.3 miles), the quake hit at 17:39:55 UTC Friday 30th March 2012
The epicenter was 168 km (104 miles) NNW from DILI, East Timor
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 30th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 34.5 km (21.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:21:09 UTC Friday 30th March 2012
The epicenter was 49 km (30 miles) East of NUKU`ALOFA, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Dolphin death mystery

TWO more dead dolphins have been found in the Mandurah estuary.

One of the dolphins was found near Parkridge on the weekend of the Crab Fest.

The cause of the adult female’s death is not known. A blubber sample was sent to Murdoch University for analysis.

The deaths follow carcasses of a mother dolphin and calf found at the Novara boat ramp in December.

Post-mortem results from the mother were inconclusive, but Murdoch University pathologist for the marine mammal project Nahiid Stephens suspects they died from birth complications.

Sea Bird Rescue volunteer Craig Lester suspects that dolphins are dying from eating contaminated fish.

“My investigations point to pesticides and heavy metals such as lead and cadmium as the culprits,” he said.

“These substances have built up in the estuary over many years and they are impossible to remove from the environment.”

Ms Stephens said there was no funding to check for contaminants during autopsies of dead dolphins.

She said the molecular work for one dolphin would cost several thousand dollars. Source

Grizzly deaths on the increase in B.C. along with threats to habitat: report

A total of 381 grizzly bears were killed year in B.C., 87 per cent of them by trophy hunters, according to statistics released Friday by the David Suzuki Foundation.

The figures include grizzlies killed by conservation officers due to threats to people and property, poaching, and collisions with cars, trains, and other vehicles.

The foundation said the 381 grizzlies killed in 2011 - almost one-third of them females - compare with a 30-year average of 340 grizzlies killed and a high of 443 in 2007.

Faisal Moola, the foundation's director of terrestrial conservation, said the increase in grizzly deaths occurs while the species' habitat is at risk from massive private-sector development projects.

He cited Enbridge's planned Northern Gateway dual-pipeline project running from Alberta to Kitimat on B.C.'s north coast, Taseko's New Prosperity resubmitted gold-copper mine proposal at Fish Lake in the

Chilcotin, and the recently approved Jumbo Glacier Resort in the East Kootenay. Read More

Ten more dolphins stranded on the Cape; annual total rises to more than 200

At least 10 more dolphins stranded themselves on the beaches of Cape Cod this week, a Cape-based animal welfare group said. The strandings raised the annual total to more than 200 in just three months, an unusually high number that has left scientists scrambling to find a cause.

“This week we had 10 common dolphins strand in various locations including Brewster, Wellfleet, and Orleans,” Michael Booth, spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said. “We had four strand on Monday – one in Wellfleet and three in Brewster.”

Six more dolphins stranded Tuesday -- two in Wellfleet, three in Brewster, and one in Orleans, Booth said.

Nine of the 10 were released to the ocean; the 10th had to be euthanized because it had already sustained some injuries, he said.

In addition to rescuing and treating stranded dolphins, Booth said, the group has helped to lead nearly 100 dolphins out of dangerous situations since Jan. 1, including six that were herded out of the Herring River in Wellfleet on Monday. Read More

Two Whales Rescued after being Caught in Nets, Issue Raises Worries, California

According to sources, it has been revealed that a gray whale was spotted near the Redondo Beach, entangled in fishing nets, on Thursday morning.

It was not possible for the whale to get freed until a team of rescuers came into action. The whale was attached with buoys to trace the movements of the whale. After tiring hours of rescue and dozen failures, the team was able to cut the fishing trap, lines and debris wrapped around its tail. And hence, they succeed in liberating the whale.

However, Kurt Lieber is very annoyed of the incidents as witnessing two in a row, and that too in less than a week, is much an important issue to be considered.

Lieber, who heads up The Ocean Defenders Alliance, said “He's sick and tired of seeing Southern California’s marine life needlessly getting caught in fishing nets. I don’t want to get emotional, but it’s heartbreaking”. Read More

Volcanic plumbing exposed

Two new studies into the 'plumbing systems' that lie under volcanoes could bring scientists closer to predicting large eruptions.

International teams of researchers, led by the University of Leeds, studied magma chambers on the Earth's mid-ocean ridge system – a vast chain of volcanoes along which the Earth forms new crust.

They worked in Afar, Ethiopia, and Iceland – the only places where mid-ocean ridges appear above sea level. Volcanic ridges, or spreading centres, are caused by tectonic plates rifting, or pulling apart. Molten rock, or magma, then pushes into weaknesses in the brittle upper crust, erupting as lava and forming new crust when it cools.

It's a bit like a plumbing system, with pressurised magma moving through networks of underground 'pipes'.

The studies, published in Nature Geoscience, reveal new information about where magma is stored and how it moves through this geological plumbing, which can help identify early warning signs of impending eruptions. In fact the scientists detected that the ground at Afar started 'uplifting' four months before an eruption in 2008, due to new magma increasing pressure in one of the underground chambers. Read More

Fiery tornado five times the size of Earth is captured on sun's surface


Superheated gases as hot as 50,000 to 2,000,000 Kelvin were sucked from the root of a dense structure called a prominence, spiralling up into the high atmosphere.

A huge tornado five times the size of Earth erupted on the sun's surface, with superheated gases whirling at more than 100,000 miles per hour.

The tornado is up to two MILLION degrees centigrade.

Dr. Huw Morgan, co-discover of the solar tornado, adds, ‘This unique and spectacular tornado must play a role in triggering global solar storms.’

‘This is perhaps the first time that such a huge solar tornado is filmed by an imager,’ says Dr. Xing Li, of Aberystwyth University.

Superheated gases as hot as 50,000 to 2,000,000 Kelvin were sucked from the root of a dense structure called a prominence, and spiral up into the high atmosphere and travel about 200,000 kilometres for at least three hours.

The tornadoes were observed on 25 September 2011.

The hot gases in the tornadoes have speeds as high as 300,000 km per hour. Gas speeds of terrestrial tornadoes can reach 150 km per hour. Read More

Tornado hits Bacolod; floods strike Capiz, Philippines

Bacolod City — A tornado swept through parts of this city, destroying trees and two sidewalk eateries, and causing a three-hour blackout at around 12:20 Thursday afternoon. No one was reported hurt, killed or missing, so far.

The tornado, which also ripped off the roof of a warehouse and knocked down fences, was first spotted near the San Antonio IT Park in barangay Mandalagan.

The tornado also broke the glass windows of the Bacolod Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building before it hit the eateries along Ipil Street, said Joemarie Vargas, head of the Bacolod City Risk Reduction Management Council.

Argie Artus, 40, who was at one of the eateries said they heard breaking glass and saw swirling dark funnel approaching and ran for safety in front of the Banco de Oro branch across the street.

The tornado with leaves swirling around it slammed into two carinderias, toppling them along with trees and a cement wall in its path, Artus said. Read More

Food poisoning sends Maracana workers to hospital, Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Nearly 140 workers renovating Maracana Stadium for the 2014 World Cup went to hospital because of food poisoning this week.

The construction companies renovating the famed stadium said on Thursday the workers suffered diarrhea and vomiting after a meal on Tuesday.

They were treated for dehydration in local hospitals and were released on the same day.

The companies said in a statement that sanitary officials were at the construction site after the incident and approved hygiene conditions for workers.

Local media said the workers got sick after eating a bad salad. Source

Honduran prison fire started by riot, 13 Dead

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- At least 13 people died during an uprising by armed inmates at a Honduran prison Thursday, one of them decapitated and the others killed by a fire started by the rioters, authorities said.

Varying reports of local and national authorities said as many as 18 inmates were killed, but national police chief Jose Ramirez said only 13 bodies had been sent to the morgue by late afternoon.

The unrest came six weeks after a fire at another prison in Honduras killed 361 inmates.

Yair Mesa, police commissioner of the rough northern city of San Pedro Sula, said Thursday's riot had been brought under control.

"The uprising has been put down without the need to fire shots," Mesa said by telephone from inside the prison.

San Pedro Sula Bishop Romulo Emiliani arrived outside the prison, saying he had been asked to serve as a negotiator with the inmates. Read More

Robert Wilkinson: Arrested Drunk Guy Sings Bohemian Rhapsody



As musical protests go, this one is pretty entertaining.

Robert Wilkinson, of Edson, Alta., was arrested by RCMP last November and placed in the back of a police cruiser. In a video taken by security cameras in the cruiser, Wilkinson, 29, is heard using some choice words to berate the officer for saying he’s intoxicated. Wilkinson then launches into an a cappella version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

He manages to lustily belt out nearly the entire song, plus the musical interludes, complete with hand gestures.

Wilkinson, who is unemployed, tells The Smoking Gun website that he’s a karaoke singer and also has 118 songs by the Beatles in his repertoire. He told the website that he’d received the tape from prosecutors when he opted to defend himself in court on a drunk-driving charge.

He then posted it — swearing, singing, scatting and all — to YouTube to amuse his friends. It has, however, gone viral, with the cleaned-up version above garnering 1.2 million hits alone.

It’s worth it to listen to his entire song for the boisterous finale: “Nothing really matters . . . even the RCMP!” source

Hundreds of dead dolphins found off Peru (10th Feb 2012)

Feb. 10 - At least 260 dolphins wash ashore in Chiclayo, Peru in over a week. Sophia Soo reports



Note: Another Dolphin washed ashore 19th March 2012

Note: Another Dolphin washed ashore 24th March 2012

Alabama McDonald's Customers Possibly Exposed to Hepatitis A

Customers who ate at a McDonald's in Northport, AL between February 28 and March 14 may have been exposed to hepatitis A through an infected employee, according to the Alabama Department of Health.

In a news alert, state health officials advised customers who visited the McDonald's at 2000 McFarland Blvd. in Northport any time on March 14, 2012, or during breakfast hours on March 16, 2012 to contact a health care provider as soon as possible.

They said customers who do not have a health care provider should contact the Tuscaloosa County Health Department at 205-562-6900.

"Hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin can prevent hepatitis A virus infection, but only when given within 14 days of exposure," explained Dr. Donald Williamson, State Health Officer, in the news release. Therefore, individuals exposed on March 14 or 16, 2012, should receive treatment no later than this Friday, March 30.

People who have previously received hepatitis A vaccine are considered protected from this exposure.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection appear 2 to 6 weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine, light stools, and jaundice (yellowness of eyes or skin). The disease varies in severity, from mild cases lasting 2 weeks or less to more severe cases lasting 4 to 6 weeks or longer. Read More

Cleveland volcano upgraded again, Alaska

It's hard to believe that volcanic activity can come to seem routine, but Mount Cleveland, an active volcano located in Alaska's Aleutian island chain, is almost becoming just that. On Wednesday, the volcano was again upgraded by the Alaska Volcano Observatory to alert level "Orange," meaning the volcano is showing "heightened or escalting unrest" and could potentially erupt at any time.

It's become a regular song-and-dance for the volcano, which had been downgraded less than a week before after a series of small explosions earlier in March appeared to settle the steady activity that had been occurring over several weeks. In all, the volcano has been upgraded to "orange" five times in the last year, with a month or two of lessened activity before a sudden spike takes it back up.

The most significant eruptive activity to actually occur at the peak in since 2010 was a minor eruption on Dec. 29 of last year, which launched an ash cloud to 15,000 feet but signalled the end of further eruptive activity. The three small explosions detected by remote seismic sensors earlier in March 2012 followed. Read More

BRICS summit: Tibetans taken into preventive custody

$540M lottery has states anticipating tax jackpot

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - People queuing up for Mega Millions tickets aren't the only ones salivating over the record $540 million jackpot that could be won Friday — some state governments struggling through lean times know a hometown winner would bring a tax bonanza.

Taxes on a lump-sum payment option to a single winner could mean tens of millions of dollars of badly needed revenue that could go to restore entire social service programs on the chopping block, pay for hundreds of low-income housing units, forestall new taxes or hire more state troopers.

So many tickets have been sold that the jackpot climbed Thursday to the largest in U.S. lottery history, according to officials in Rhode Island, one of 42 states where Mega Millions is played. If a lone winner took the lump-sum payout on the jackpot's current amount, it would be an estimated $389.8 million. source

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 30th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Veracruz, Mexico at a depth of 136.7 km (84.9 miles), the quake hit at 14:38:53 UTC Friday 30th March 2012
The epicenter was 46 km (28 miles) SSW from Las Choapas, Veracruz, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 30th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 10.3 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 12:54:53 UTC Friday 30th March 2012
The epicenter was 238 km (148 miles) South from Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Zimmerman's brother: Medical records will prove George Zimmerman's story (We'll soon find out)



George Zimmerman's brother said medical records will prove that his brother was attacked and his nose was broken by Trayvon Martin before he fatally shot the teen.

Robert Zimmerman Jr. spoke to CNN's Piers Morgan Thursday night saying he wanted to correct some of the "mythology" and untruths that have been spread about the controversial shooting.

"We're confident the medical records are going to explain all of George's medical history," Zimmerman Jr. said. "His nose looks swollen in that video. I'm his brother."

George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, said he shot Martin in self defense after the teen attacked him last month. Martin, who was walking through the gated community back to the house of his father's fiancee, was wearing a hoodie in the rain and carrying Skittles candy and a can of iced tea he had purchased from a nearby convenience store. more

Flight Crew Calls Police Due To 2 Unruly Children On Skywest Plane From Long Beach

A Skywest crew radioed authorities Tuesday when two children refused to fasten their seat belts on a flight from Long Beach to Portland, Ore.

Officers with the Port of Portland Police Department were called to meet the Skywest-operated Alaska Airlines plane when it landed at Portland International Airport at 7:20 p.m., Alaska spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey told CBS2.

“During the flight, the children became disruptive and wouldn’t stay in their seats and wouldn’t fasten their seat belts, which is against federal regulations,” she said in a statement.

It was unknown if they were seated at the time of the landing.

“Following this, an Alaska Airlines supervisor meet with the family (of four), talked with them about the need to comply with Federal Air Regulations that the children must be in their seats and remain buckled when asked,” Lindsey added. “Our supervisor then personally escorted the family to the gate for their connecting flight Alaska Airlines Flight 2056 from Portland to Seattle which departed at 8:30 p.m.” more

10-Year-Old Charged With Felony After Stealing Bicycle

A 10-year-old child was arrested and charged with felony burglary after stealing a bicycle while leaving his tricycle at the scene of the crime in order to get away successfully.

According to the Fort Walton Beach Police Department, a local woman had her bicycle stolen, along with her son’s air rifle.

Responding officers found the suspect, Daryl Pitts, near the victim’s home and in possession of a bicycle whose serial numbers matched those of the one that was stolen.

Daryl had returned to the scene of the crime on his tricycle after first taking the gun, which he left there in order to ride away on the bike. more

Two men torch themselves in Italy as hardship bites

A Moroccan worker in Italy set himself on fire on Thursday in protest at not being paid for months, a day after an Italian businessman set himself alight over a tax dispute, police said.

The 27-year-old construction worker is recovering in hospital after dousing himself in petrol and lighting it outside Verona city hall in northern Italy, police said.

Police said the man told them he was desperate after not being paid for four months and running out of money.

On Wednesday, a 58 year-old businessman tried to commit suicide by setting himself on fire in his car outside a tax office in nearby Bologna. His appeal against a demand for thousands of euros in allegedly unpaid taxes had been rejected, according to Italian media reports.

He is being treated in hospital for severe burns. more

MasterCard warns of possible security breach, Visa also reportedly affected

MasterCard is investigating a possible breach of cardholder account data involving a U.S.-based payment processor, the company said Friday.

"As a result, we have alerted payment card issuers regarding certain MasterCard accounts that are potentially at risk," the Purchase, N.Y., credit-card company said in a statement.

Law enforcement officials have been notified of the matter and an "independent data security organization" is conducting an ongoing forensic review.

The company is alerting card-issuing banks regarding "certain MasterCard accounts that are potentially at risk."

"MasterCard's own systems have not been compromised in any manner," the statement continued.

A MasterCard spokesman declined to say how many cards may have been compromised or how many banks it is notifying, the Wall Street Journal reports. more

Diane Hill suffered burns after petrol she was storing in her kitchen ignited

A woman has accidentally set fire to herself after transferring petrol in her home, while the union representing tanker drivers rules out the threat of Easter strikes in the ongoing fiasco over fuel.

The woman, named locally as Diane Hill and thought to be in her forties, suffered 40% burns after the petrol caught fire in the kitchen of her home in York last night, firefighters said.

She was attempting to decant the fuel from one container to another using a jug.

It comes two days after Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told Sky News that people should avoid petrol shortages by putting extra fuel in a jerrycan in the garage.

Sky's North of England correspondent Gerard Tubb, in York, said: "Ms Hill was tipping petrol from a plastic petrol container for which she did not have a spout into the jug because her daughter, in her late teens or early twenties, needed petrol for her car.

"The vapour from the petrol in the open-topped jug was ignited by the gas cooker which was on.

After Ms Hill's daughter raised the alarm, paramedics and firefighters arrived at the house within minutes. Ms Hill was subsequently taken to hospital. Read More

Syrian army must pull back first under Annan plan

(Reuters) - Syrian artillery hit parts of Homs city and at least five people were killed in clashes around the country on Friday, opposition activists said, as peace envoy Kofi Annan urged President Bashar al-Assad to order his troops stop shooting first.

"The deadline is now," Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in Geneva. "We expect him to implement this plan immediately."

Removing any ambiguity about the ceasefire terms of a six-point peace plan that Assad has said he accepts, Fawzi said it was up to the Syrian military to move first and show good faith by withdrawing tanks, big guns and troops from cities.

The plan also requires lightly-armed rebels to stop shooting. But the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has not said whether it accepts Annan's proposals and political opposition groups have not explicitly endorsed his call for a dialogue with Assad. Read More

Note: Lightly-armed indeed as you will notice from the Image.

Greek PM does not rule out THIRD bailout package...Well that was quicker than expected

(Reuters) - Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said on Friday Greece may need a third bailout package if the sweeping austerity measures demanded by its international creditors fail to stabilize its shattered economy and restore market confidence.

It was the first time Papademos publicly confronted his people with the risk, already mooted by wary EU, IMF and German officials, that the austerity program might fall through if they don't try hard enough.

His remarks were seen as an encouragement to support pro-bailout parties in a snap election expected on May 6.

"Greece will do everything possible to make a third adjustment program unnecessary," Papademos told Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, according to a transcript of his remarks. "Having said that, markets may not be accessible by Greece even if it has implemented fully all measures agreed on.

"It cannot be excluded that some financial support may be necessary, but we must try hard to avoid such an outcome." Read More

North Korea 'missile test'

Mar 30 - South Koreans are worried over reports that North Korea has launched two short range missiles. Paul Chapman reports.

Islamists find foothold in Syria revolt

(Reuters) - Sheikh Abu Abdullah Zahed, a Lebanese Muslim cleric with influence amongst radical youth, is part of a growing effort to push the uprising in Syria towards militant Islam.

Hardline Sunni Muslims in Lebanon are maneuvering for influence over Syrians across the border who have spent the last year fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

"At first Syrians called on the West and NATO. Now they are calling on God," said Zahed, sitting in his library, where black Islamic flags hang on the walls.

As opposition groups abroad squabble over politics and Assad's army pounds rebellious cities, Muslim hardliners want to make religion the unifying basis of the revolt.

Radical Islamist elements are still on the fringe, but that's enough to make a headache for opposition activists who are struggling to convince Syrian minorities to support a revolt led mostly by the country's Sunni majority.

Foreign powers joining exile opposition leaders at a "Friends of Syria" meeting in Istanbul this week will also want proof of whom exactly they are making friends with, if they are ever to consider arming rebel forces. Read More

Prostate cancer vaccine Provenge, New Suspicions Arise

(Reuters) - Prostate cancer vaccine Provenge has long incited passions unlike any other cancer therapy.

Doctors who raised doubts about it received death threats. Health regulators and lawmakers faced loud protests at their offices. A physician at the American Cancer Society was so intimidated by Provenge partisans that he yanked a skeptical discussion of it from his blog.

The vitriol dissipated in April 2010, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Provenge for advanced prostate cancer, satisfying investors in manufacturer Dendreon and patients who for years had demanded it be put on the market.

But the bell on Round Two sounded when Marie Huber, a trained scientist and former hedge-fund analyst, made it her mission in the last year to analyze what she believes are deadly flaws in the studies that led to the approval of Provenge by the FDA.

She argues that the main reason Provenge seemed to extend survival - a crucial factor in the FDA's decision - was that older men in the study who did not receive Provenge died months sooner than similar patients in other studies.

She raises the possibility the "placebo" they received was actually harmful and made Provenge, known scientifically as sipuleucel-T, look better by comparison. Source