Monday, April 2, 2012

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE SOUTH COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 3rd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck near the South Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 88.9 km (55.2 miles), the quake hit at 03:12:47 UTC Tuesday 3rd April 2012
The epicenter was 27 km (17 miles) North from TOKYO, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

British Embassy In Buenos Aires Attacked by Rioters

Demonstrators have attacked the British embassy compound in Buenos Aires on the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Falklands War.

Members of the extremist Quebracho movement charged the compound in the Argentine capital after smashing through a protective barrier.

Riot officers forced them back before some demonstrators launched missiles and flares at police, who returned fire with rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas.

In the minutes prior to the attack, extremists had set fire to a Union Jack flag and an effigy of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

Speaking to Sky News Online, Quebracho leader Fernando Esteche, said: "The burning of the flag and effigy symbolised our disgust at this British invasion of our national territory. Read More

Huan Goh Arrested Following Oakland's Oikos University Shooting leaving 7 Dead

A gunman killed seven people and wounded three others at a Christian college in California after telling witnesses: "Get in line… I'm going to kill you all."

The sole suspect in the shooting was arrested at a shopping centre about three miles away and was named by police as Huan Goh, 43.

He is believed to be a resident of Oakland, about 10 miles outside San Francisco, and a former student at Oakland's Oikos University, the scene of the shooting.

Police said they were still investigating the motive for the killings. Goh has not been charged. Officers said they believed the attacker had acted alone. Read More

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF NORTHERN PERU - 3rd Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck near the Coast of Northern Peru at a depth of 74.5 km (46.3 miles), the quake hit at 03:08:09 UTC Tuesday 3rd April 2012
The epicenter was 6 km (3.7 miles) Northeast from Piura, Peru
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE VALPARAISO, CHILE - 3rd Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck offshore Valparaiso, Chile at a depth of 8.3 km (5.2 miles), the quake hit at 02:11:06 UTC Tuesday 3rd April 2012
The epicenter was 58 km (36 miles) WSW of San Antonio, Valparaiso, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

FARC, Colombian rebels, free 10 hostages



Ten hostages held by a leftist rebel group in Colombia for more than a decade were freed on Monday.

They arrived in the central city of Villavicencio, where they stepped off a helicopter and walked across the tarmac, video from CNN affiliate Caracol TV showed.

One of the former captives jumped joyfully, hoisting the Colombian flag. Others walked with the assistance of what looked to be nurses or doctors.

"We are extremely pleased with the success of the operation," said Jordi Raich, head of an International Committee of the Red Cross delegation. The hostages are headed next to Bogota, the country's capital, Caracol reported.

The leftist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, had pledged to hand over the hostages. It had not previously been clear all 10 would be released at one time.

Kidnapping government forces and civilians has been a key strategy of the rebel group in its war against the Colombian government.

Dramatic rescues, escapes and hostage hand-overs have revealed harsh conditions in jungle camps, including stories of prisoners chained to trees, grueling marches between hideouts, torrential rain and blistering sun.

Two Brazilian helicopters arrived in Villavicencio earlier on Monday for the scheduled hand-over. more

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake GUERRERO, MEXICO - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Guerrero, Mexico at a depth of 56.4 km (35 miles), the quake hit at 23:55:06 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 147 km (91 miles) ESE of Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake JUJUY, ARGENTINA - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Jujuy, Argentina at a depth of 220.8 km (137.2 miles), the quake hit at 22:47:47 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 85 km (52 miles) West of Abra Pampa, Jujuy, Argentina
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Oaxaca, Mexico at a depth of 10.3 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 19:38:10 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 141 km (87 miles) SSW of Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 517 km (320.5 miles), the quake hit at 19:29:49 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 58 km (35.9 miles) Northwest of Tubou, Lakeba, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Oakland university Shooting: Police Confirm Deaths

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Police have confirmed that there are fatalities in a shooting at an Oakland Christian university that also left at least four people wounded.

Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson confirmed the deaths Monday at Oikos University, but could not say how many.

Officials at a nearby hospital say they're treating four people from the shooting.

Authorities are looking for the suspect, described at a Korean man in his 40s with a heavy build and wearing khaki clothing. Source

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Oaxaca, Mexico at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 18:39:13 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 160 km (99 miles) SSW of Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF JALISCO, MEXICO - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck off the Coast of Jalisco, Mexico at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:28:29 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 313 km (194 miles) Southwest of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Shooting at Oikos University in Oakland: At least 1 death reported, several more Injured - Shooter Still at Large

OAKLAND, CA (RNN) - At least one is dead and several more were injured after a shooter opened fire at Oikos University in Oakland, CA according to KGO-TV.

The shooter is still on the loose and has been described by police as an Asian man wearing tan or khaki clothing. He has a heavy build and may be armed.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the shooting happened around 10:40 a.m. Police and SWAT officers are surrounding the building.

The Chronicle also said at least five ambulances have been requested, citing the Oakland Fire Department. Source

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Oaxaca, Mexico at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:17:30 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 149 km (92 miles) SSW of Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Oakland Christian medical school Shooting: 5 Injured

CBS/AP) OAKLAND, Calif. - Police say they're responding to reports of five people hurt in a shooting at a Christian medical school in east Oakland.

The shooting happened Monday morning at Oikos University. The Oakland Tribune reports that wounded people have been brought out of the building, and more gurneys are being brought in.

CBS San Francisco reports that police are at the campus, which houses nursing and religious courses.

According to its website, Oikos University offers studies in theology, music, nursing and Asian medicine. Source

Youth unemployment passes 50pc in Spain and Greece

Youth unemployment now exceeds 50pc in both Spain and Greece as the number of people out of work in the eurozone as a whole hit a 15-year high of 17.2m.

The unemployment rate among Spain's under-25s rose to 50.5pc in January, and to 50.4pc in Greece in December, according to the latest available data from Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office. It compared with an average eurozone youth unemployment rate of 21.6pc.

One of the lowest rates of youth unemployment is in Germany, where it remained at 8.2pc in February.

The rise in Spain and Greece reflects the deep financial woes of both countries, which are in the midst of far-reaching and highly unpopular austerity programmes, considered necessary by the broader EU to reduce huge deficits.

Spain's unemployment rate now stands at 23.6pc, compared with a eurozone average of 10.8pc. The extent of Spain's problems are further underlined by a housing market in crisis, with prices expected to fall the most on record this year. One-in-four homeowners in the country owes more than their property is worth.

Andrea Broughton, Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, said EU policymakers were facing an "uphill struggle" to reverse rising unemployment. Read More

George Zimmerman Will Turn Himself in if Charged with the Killing of Trayvon Martin, his Lawyer has Said

A neighbourhood watch volunteer who shot dead unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin will turn himself in to authorities if charged over the killing, his lawyer has said.

George Zimmerman insists he acted in self-defence after being attacked by the 17-year-old in a gated community outside Orlando on February 26.

He was taken into custody immediately after the shooting but was never formally arrested or charged with any offence.

Defence lawyer Craig Sonner said: "However it goes, he's not hiding from the authorities. If he is asked, he will turn himself in. There's not going to be a manhunt or anything like that.

"We're preparing for trial. We've done all we can except ask for discovery (evidence-sharing) from the state, which is not available to us yet." Read More

8 Creepy Spy Technologies That Can Be Hitched to Your Neighborhood Drones

America's cities may soon be swarming with surveillance drones equipped with high-tech snooping tools.

Last fall, the Montgomery County Sheriff's department got together for a photo op showing off a new unmanned surveillance craft. The $300,000 drone did not have an auspicious debut. Minutes after take-off, the UAV lost touch with the control console and plummeted to earth, crashing into the police officers assembled for the launch. No one was hurt, because police were hanging out in their armored car ("the Bearcat") another warzone weapon that has crept into the arsenals of local cops around the country (the Bearcat came out alright).

Civilians, however, don't ride around in armored vehicles Mad-Max-style, so the FAA has been charged by Congress to come up with safety regulations that would prevent drones from raining from the sky or colliding with airplanes. Read More

6.3 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake has struck Oaxaca, Mexico at a depth of 12.3 km (7.6 miles), the quake hit at 17:36:43 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 27 km (17 miles) SSE from Ometepec, Guerrero, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

More to Follow...

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake CERAM SEA, INDONESIA - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Ceram Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 49.9 km (31 miles), the quake hit at 16:32:28 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 126 km (78 miles) Northwest from Ambon, Moluccas, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Argentina: UK's Falklands Stance Is 'Absurd'

Argentina's president has called Britain's stance on the Falkland Islands "ridiculous and absurd" on the 30th anniversary of her nation's invasion of the archipelago.

"Every day that goes by it looks more ridiculous, more absurd to the eyes of the world," Cristina Fernandez Kirchner said.

"It is unjust that in the 21st century there are still colonial enclaves such as the one we have here."

President Kirchner was speaking at a memorial service in Ushuaia for the 649 Argentine soldiers who died in the 74-day conflict on the islands they call Las Malvinas.

Tensions have been rising ahead of the anniversary, with Buenos Aires accusing Britain of militarising the South Atlantic.

The war of words has also been intensified by Prince William's deployment to the islands in his role as an RAF serach and rescue helicopter pilot, the threat of legal action over oil exploration and Argentina's decision to prevent British-linked ships from docking in its ports.

Britain has refused to start talks with Argentina on sovereignty unless the 3,000 residents of the self-governing British Overseas Territory want them to. Read More

Asteroid flies past Earth - so close it flew UNDER the moon

Earth had a near-miss on Sunday from an 150-foot asteroid that was detected only two weeks ago, it was revealed today.

The space rock, 2012 EG5, flew past earth closer than the moon, at a distance of just 143,000 miles.

The asteroid has a diameter of around 150 feet - and would have exploded with the force of an atomic weapon had it hit our planet.

Nothing is known about its likely composition. The asteroid flew past Earth on Sunday at 9.32am GMT.

An impact with an asteroid of that size would not cause a planet-wide disaster similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago - but would hit Earth's surface and explode.

The asteroid was spotted by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii on March 13 this year.

'Asteroid 2012 EG5 will safely pass Earth on April 1,' said scientists at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory via a Twitter post. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake TAJIKISTAN - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Tajikistan at a depth of 143 km (88.6 miles), the quake hit at 15:30:13 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 58 km (35.9 miles) Northeast of Khorug, Tajikistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Laura Palmer escapes jail term for leaving three young children under 7 so that she could go clubbing

A mother abandoned her three children in 'vile' conditions so she could go clubbing with friends.

Although Laura Palmer, 26, spent a lot of money on hair extensions, false nails, expensive make-up, stylish clothes and drinks, her children lived in squalor, a court heard.

Concerned neighbours called police after the children, aged three, four and seven, were spotted outside running around naked and covered in faeces by a busy road in Hull, East Yorkshire.

When officers attended the house, they found a drunken Palmer hiding in the garden sheds - still dressed in her clubbing gear.

Social worker Jacqueline Feeney told Hull Crown Court of the appalling condition of the house in Jendale, Sutton, east Hull.

The home was covered in excrement, rubbish and decaying food. Mattresses had no covers on them and the bath was full of rubbish.

Feeney said: 'The home conditions were in a poor state and it was uninhabitable for children.'

Palmer, who dressed up for her court appearance in a bright pink dress with matching pink shoes, pleaded guilty to three counts of child cruelty and neglect between December 31, 2010, to June 14 last year. Read More

Total to send helicopter to Elgin platform

(Reuters) - Total faced rough seas and heavy winds on Monday as the oil and gas company prepared to send men and machines to battle a leak at its Elgin platform in the North Sea that has spewed gas into the air for over a week.

The French company, which is spending $1 million per day on efforts to plug the leak, plans to move drilling rigs from two nearby fields, fly staff to the platform if it is deemed safe and send two underwater inspection vehicles to check where best to drill relief wells, Total said on Monday.

"Both (inspection) vessels are currently awaiting optimum sea conditions before they can be deployed," Total said, raising concerns that relief operations will be delayed as Met Office forecasts showed even stronger wind levels for Monday afternoon.

The company is expected to fly its own staff to the platform within the next few days, industry sources told Reuters.

If a first visit to the platform is successful, Total plans to fly out more engineers by the end of the week to begin injecting mud into the well to stop the gas leak, the industry sources said. Read More

House Collapsed in Clacton, Essex in Suspected Gas Explosion



A man has been pulled from the rubble of house which collapsed following an explosion in the early hours of the morning.

He was freed by firefighters after a rescue dog found him trapped under the debris of the property in Clacton, Essex.

A family of four was also rescued from the roof of the building and firefighters also saved a woman from inside who was treated for serious burns.

Police and fire crews were called to the house, divided into three flats, in the early hours of the morning.

The road was closed and some 60 residents evacuated from their homes.

Assistant Divisional Officer Martyn Hare, of Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We believe there has been a gas explosion which has caused substantial collapse in a house which has been converted into flats. Read More

Russian Police Detain 55 Protesters Near Moscow's Red Square



Russian police say they detained 55 opposition supporters near Moscow's Red Square in order to prevent an unauthorized anti-government rally there.

Activists had called for supporters to walk around the square, located outside of the Kremlin, wearing white ribbons as a symbol of the protest movement.

But police closed the square and blocked off its access roads, preventing the gathering.

Russian opposition activists have criticized the government for violating their right to freedom of assembly.

Tens of thousands of activists have rallied in recent months against widespread fraud in the parliamentary election and against Vladimir Putin's election as president last month. source

Mirlande Wilson: Wins Mega Millions after pooling with coworkers, now refuses to share the winnings witih them

Mega Millions mania has plunged a Maryland McDonald’s into a bubbling cauldron of controversy hotter than a deep-fried apple pie.

Workers at the fast-food joint who pooled their cash for tickets are furious at a colleague who claims she won with a ticket she bought for herself and has no intention of sharing.

“We had a group plan, but I went and played by myself. [The ‘winning’ ticket] wasn’t on the group plan,” McDonald’s “winner’’ Mirlande Wilson 37, told The Post yesterday, insisting she alone bought one of the three tickets nationwide that will split a record $656 million payout.

“I was in the group, but this was separate. The winning ticket was a separate ticket,” the single mother of seven said as she and her fiancé left her home in the squalid Westport neighborhood to attend church.

The Haitian immigrant refused to show what she said was the winning ticket, claiming she had it hidden in another location and would present it to lottery officials today.

Pressed as the day went on, she became more cagey.

“I don’t know if I won. Some of the numbers were familiar. I recognized some of [them],’’ she said. “I don’t know why’’ people are saying differently. “I’m going to go to the lottery office [today]. I bought some tickets separately.”

With winning tickets also sold in Illinois and Kansas, a single Maryland winner would get an after-tax lump sum of $105 million, or $5.59 million a year for 26 years.

If Wilson won, and if it was with a pooled work ticket, the situation would be shockingly similar to that of New Jersey lottery louse Americo Lopes, who tried to screw five former colleagues after hitting a $24 million jackpot before a jury ordered him to spread the wealth.

Wilson’s co-workers — who make little more than $7.50 an hour — are sizzling with anger over the notion. more

Australian Car Crash Victim Declared Dead Survives

The motorist was left inside the upside down car for up to an hour after being declared dead at the scene (Pic: 9 News)

An investigation has been launched after a car crash victim declared dead by paramedics in Australia was found to be alive an hour later.

The motorist was found trapped upside down in the wreckage of a Porsche and was pronounced dead by an ambulance crew at the scene.

The 30-year-old man from Melbourne was reportedly left in the car for up to an hour as police began their investigation.

It was only when State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers were preparing to cut the driver free from the mangled sports car that they became concerned the man was still alive.

They found he had a weak pulse and appeared to be twitching but were assured by paramedics that movement by a corpse is not unusual.

SES spokesman Lachlan Quick said: "They mentioned it to the ambulance guys, who said that it [movement] can be attributed to this sort of effect when there's a spinal injury.

"It was raised and addressed and discussed and then put to one side, and they went about their business."

Tow-truck driver Trevor Oliver told the Australian Associated Press: "The SES got the driver out of the car, wrapped him in a tarp and sat him on the side of the road, and for about 40 minutes we sat there watching his feet move.

"It was only when the coroner's representative turned up to pick up the body, and the SES and the coroner's representative went to pick up the body and they noticed that something was odd and (discovered) he still had a very weak pulse." Read More

Oil Could have caused death of 3000 dolphins this year in Peru

In Lambayeque. Worrying figure belongs to the first three months of the year and attribute it to the 'bubble marina' that is formed by using sonar to search for oil.

So far this year, more than three thousand dolphins have been found dead in various parts of the coast of Lambayeque , according to the president of the Association of Fishermen of Puerto Eten, Niquen Francisco.

The representative of the Ecological Reserve Chaparrí , Heinz Plengue, indicated that only in recent days, 481 copies appeared stranded along 36 kilometers of the beach of Palo Parado area, opposite the island Lobos de Tierra, in Mórrope.

Yaipen Carlos Llanos, Director of Science of ORCA , said the death of mammals is due to the 'bubble marina' that occurs during mining exploration . Refers to a stock sound that forms when using sonar depth to the search for oil.

"Oil companies use different sound wave frequencies , and the effects of these bubbles are not visible to the naked eye, they generate after effects in animals. That can cause death, noise impact, not only dolphins, but also sea lions and whales, "he said. Read More

Dead horse dumped in Swilly stream, Donegal County

Animal welfare groups have appealed to Donegal County and Letterkenny Town Councils for urgent action to deal with a dead horse which has been dumped just off the Neil T Blaney Road this week.

The full sized animal has been lying in a tributary just off the River Swilly between Bonar Engineering and new Aldi premises.

Indeed it has become something of a weird visitor attraction with vehicles pulling up on this busy road to view the remains. The smell alone has attract much adverse comment too with several callers ringing ‘Donegal on Sunday’ to complain about it.

It is not known if anyone has come forward to claim the carcass but animal welfare groups have expressed concern and annoyance that the authorities have left the animal rotting all week.

One source, who did not wish to be named, said not only did the animal pose a health threat but it was unsightly and not a great advertisement for the town. Read More

Egypt: foot and mouth disease spreading among cattle stocks

Up to 100,000 Egyptian cattle are suspected to have been infected by a new strain of foot and mouth disease that is sweeping the country, according to Agence France Presse. Based on numbers provided to AFP by Egyptian farm authorities, about one tenth of the suspected infected population has already died.

Foot and mouth disease affects cloven-hooved animals such as cows, sheep, and pigs. It does not spread to humans, but it does render animal milk and meat unfit for consumption, threatening regional food supplies and the livelihood of the farmers who depend on animal husbandry for their income.

"Although foot-and-mouth disease has circulated in the country for some years, this is an entirely new introduction of a virus strain known as SAT2, and livestock have no immune protection against it," the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in Rome, according to Reuters. Read More

Tons of fish die as contractors poison water bodies in Badin, Pakistan

Fishermen in Badin are complaining about some influential contractors who have sprayed toxic material in freshwater bodies. Around 35,000 small scale fishermen, depending on these waters for their livelihood, have been affected directly. The number of affected families is even more as the impact of poison is spreading in the nearby ponds and drains.

Ghulam Hussain Mallah, a local fisherman, said when they reached the nearby ponds and drains linked to the main Left Bank Outfall Drain near Kadhan town on Thursday morning, they found hundreds of kilogrammes of dead fish on the banks of the canal. However, some outsiders were busy collecting the dead fish to sell it in the local markets.

A villager of the Seengari Sim Nali, Mallah said, “It is shocking that fishermen from the neighbouring villages had experienced the same and had started inquiry. It is yet to be ascertained how much fish has perished due to poison and how many fishermen have been affected.” Read More

Large numbers of dead fish wash up on N. Lhohi beach, Maldives

Large numbers of dead fish have been washing up on the shore of Noonu Atoll lhohi.

Lhohi council Vice-President Hussain Niyaz said that many dead fish have been gathering in the lagoon and are being washed up ashore polluting the beach for the past two days.

Councilor stated that some fish are not dead when they wash up ashore but are injured and he added that many species of dead fish are being observed out in the ocean.

“We have travelled to some nearby islands to observe, but very few amounts of dead fish are washed up the shores in other islands. Lhohi beach is completely polluted by the dead and rotting fish.” Niyaz said.

He added that the issue had been notified to the Marine Research Centre and that similar issues came up from time to time. Read More

Meteor 'Glowing ball' seen in New Zealand skies‎

A bright and colourful object that flew across the sky tonight, and was spotted by hundreds of people across the country, is thought to be a meteor.

Police and the MetService received dozens of calls this evening about an object described as looking like a "crashing satellite".

Earth and Sky senior observer Matt Hall said it was "most likely" a meteor which had broken away from a comet or asteroid.

"As it enters the Earth's atmosphere, it burns up into smaller pieces. They saw quite a bright light shooting from northeast to east with what looked like bright sparks coming off the back of it."

Meteors often looked like they were overhead when in fact they were a long way away, he said.

Police earlier said the line left in the sky was possibly a contrail, the water vapour that trails a plane's flight path.

Police received more than 20 calls around 7pm from people concerned about what the object is, a communications spokesman said.

MetService received numerous calls from residents in the lower North Island and upper South Island.

Calls had been mainly from Wellington, Kaikoura and Otaki. Read More

New Zealand says it's ready to help Fiji

New Zealand will assist flood-ravaged Fiji, which is bracing for a tropical depression tracking towards the main island of Viti Levu.

A state of natural disaster has been declared for most of Fiji's Western Division, where heavy flooding has killed four people and forced about 5000 people into evacuation centres.

NZ Prime Minister John Key says the situation is very serious, and New Zealand will provide support if needed.

"It's people in rural parts of Fiji - we've already had a number of lives lost, people's homes devastated - so that's really where support would come in, and emergency food and blankets and the like," he said.

The government will get New Zealanders out of Fiji if "absolutely required", although many in tourist spots will be in "quite stable" conditions, he says. Read More

Hailstorm destroys cassava, damages houses in Mpulungu, Zambia

HEAVY rain has wreaked havoc in Mpulungu’s Kasakalawe Village in the Northern Province destroying more than seven hectares of cassava fields.

Mpulungu District Agriculture Co-operative Officer Kennedy Sinkamba confirmed the development in a telephone interview yesterday.

Mr Sinkamba said on Thursday last week, Kasakalawe village, which is made up of 189 peasant farmers experienced torrential rain which left most of the fields submerged.

“On Thursday last week, we experienced heavy rains in Kasakalawe village. Most of the crops were submerged. About seven hectares of cassava fields were also destroyed after the torrential rains,” he said.

Mr Sinkamba said people in Kasakalawe are peasant farmers who depend on cassava for their livelihood. Read More

Bird flu leaves one child dead, Cambodia

A six-year-old girl from Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Tralach district died on Friday in the year’s second H5N1 fatality, Health Ministry and World Health Organisation officials said yesterday.

Morm Malay, deputy director of the provincial health department, said officials from the Health Ministry’s communicable disease control department had confirmed that Noy Makara had died of the virus, otherwise known as bird flu.

Noy Makara had fallen ill after eating the meat of a sick chicken, and her family had attempted to treat her with medicine and injections, he said.

“She did not get better and her family sent her for treatment at the Kuntha Bopha hospital on March 28, and she died on March 30,” he added.

This was the first case of H5N1 influenza ever recorded in Kampong Chhnang province, he said. Read More

Hill Air Force Base defends handling of mercury‎, Utah

HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Base officials are defending the response after mercury was discovered hidden in unmarked plastic bottles on the base last fall.

Robert Elliott, chief of the base's environmental management division, said the base went above and beyond ordinary requirements to clean up the mercury.

But the base could face millions in fines after a whistleblower last fall told regulators that base officials failed to report a 2007 mercury spill and instead ordered untrained workers to remove the hazardous material with vacuum cleaners. The mercury had leaked from discarded boiler parts.

Elliott told The Salt Lake Tribune that he responded Thursday by letter to a notice of violation sent by the Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste.

"Our response not only addresses the violations (alleged by regulators), but also seeks to ensure that alleged violations such as this do not occur in the future," he said. Read More

Sandstorm hits Gansu, China

Northwest China's Gansu Province was hit by the biggest sandstorm in 2012 so far on Sunday due to the shortage of rainfall in March, local meteorological officials said.

The sandstorm first hit Dunhuang city in western Gansu at 2 p.m. and then blanketed cities like Jiayuguan and Jiuquan in central Gansu and reduced visibility to less than 900 meters, according to the provincial meteorological center.

This is the first regional sandstorm to hit the province this year and also so far the biggest one in terms of the affected area.

A blue wind alert was issued by the Lanzhou center observatory at 10 a.m., which then upgraded the alert level to yellow, the third-highest in the four-tier wind alert system. The wind speed reached 75 km per hour in the affected area, the observatory said.

The regional sandstorm occurred 24 days before the first regional sandstorm in 2011.

The sandstorm is still under way and is expected to weaken and end on Monday. Source

North Korea talks ahead of satellite launch

Hong Kong (CNN) -- North Korea said Monday that a special conference of its ruling Workers' Party would take place next week, an event expected to solidify the authority of its new leader ahead of a controversial rocket launch.

The meeting of party delegates, announced by state media, also comes just ahead of a significant anniversary for the secretive, nuclear-armed state -- the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea.

At the conference on April 11, Kim Il Sung's grandson, Kim Jong Un, is likely to be named secretary-general of the Workers' Party, a key post that would underline his status as "supreme leader" of the insular regime, said Chung-In Moon, professor of political science at Yonsei University in Seoul.

That appointment would be "a very important signal that he's consolidating power and positions from an institutional point of view," Moon said.

It would also mean that Kim Jong Un would ex officio become chairman of the party's central military committee, following in the footsteps of his father, Kim Jong Il, who died in December.

The expected conferring of the new titles on Kim Jong Un is scheduled to happen just before the planned launch of a satellite by Pyongyang between April 12 and 16, using a long-range rocket. Read More

Fiji floods leaves 4 Dead and Hundreds Displaced

(CNN) -- Severe flooding in the Pacific island nation of Fiji has killed four people and left 800 people seeking shelter in evacuation centers, a government official said Monday.

Tropical Cyclone Daphne has lashed Fiji's largest and most populous island, Viti Levu, with strong winds and heavy rain.

The Fiji Meteorological Service said Monday that it was maintaining its severe flood warning for "all major rivers, streams and low lying areas" on the island.

Sharon Smith Johns, the Fiji government's information secretary, said she was touring the affected areas with the prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama. She said some people had started to try to move back to their homes.

The extreme weather has disrupted both internal and external travel. Authorities on Sunday suspended inbound flights to Nadi International Airport because nearby roads were flooded. The suspension was lifted Monday but remained subject to review. Read More

Arab Nations Pledge $100 million to pay opposition fighters in Syria.....Does anyone not see a Problem with this?



(CNN) -- Dozens of international leaders have bolstered support for a Syrian opposition group that is vowing to pay rebel fighters.

The international Friends of the Syrian People group formally recognized the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people at a conference in Istanbul on Sunday.

That effectively makes the SNC, which includes many Syrian exiles, the main opposition group with which other nations plan to work.

The 83-member Friends group -- which includes representatives from Turkey, the Arab League, United States, France and the United Kingdom -- declared its "support for legitimate measures taken by the Syrian population to protect themselves" -- but stopped short of agreeing to send weapons to the poorly armed rebels.

The Syrian National Council committed Sunday to paying salaries to rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army, which consists largely of defectors from Syria's military and is now the chief force challenging President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Read More

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ISTANBUL — The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here. Read More

Obama campaign fundraiser faces fraud allegations

(Reuters) - A top fundraiser for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has been accused of fraud, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Abake Assongba, who runs the Africa-focused charity Abake's Foundation with her husband Anthony J.W. DeRosa, has raised more than $50,000 for Obama's re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to the campaign's list of top "volunteer fundraisers."

She is accused of defrauding a businessman out of $657,000, the Washington Post reported.

She also faces a court order to pay more than $10,000 in back rent for her former New York apartment, according to court records.

Assongba, who was born in West Africa, has given thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates in recent years, according to Federal Election Commission records. Read More

Fishermen saved in Russian Far East.

April 1 - 675 stranded fishermen carried away to the sea on ice are saved in a massive emergency operation in the Russian Far East.

Colombian hostage release preps underway

Preparations underway for the anticipated release of hostages held by Colombian rebels for more than 10 years. Julie Noce reports

Muslim Brotherhood candidate stirs up Egypt race

(Reuters) - A deft businessman and politician tempered by years in Hosni Mubarak's prisons, Khairat al-Shater is aiming to bring Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to the pinnacle of power for the first time in its 84-year history. But his candidacy for the presidency has exposed rifts in the Islamist group's ranks, worried liberals and could turn up the heat in a row with Egypt's ruling army.

Without even a day of campaigning under his belt but by virtue of the Brotherhood's broad grassroots network, Shater, 61, moves straight into the ranks of frontrunners for the job Mubarak held for 30 years until he was ousted last year.

It marks a dramatic shift for the Brotherhood which has U-turned on its earlier pledge not to field a candidate to avoid charges of monopolizing power in post-Mubarak Egypt. It is also a big change for Shater, a respected strategist for the group who until a little more than a year ago worked in a prison cell. Read More

China wrestles Mao's ghost after political storm

(Reuters) - Former Red Guard leader Tang Dahua says memories of the fanatical bloodshed that tore apart the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing return to him with startling clarity.

Decades after Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution made Chongqing a bloody ideological battleground, the riverside megacity, China's largest, is at the heart of a different political storm - one that has exposed rifts inside the ruling Communist Party after the ouster of the city's charismatic leader, Bo Xilai.

Tang was a prominent leader in the late 1960s battles between Red Guard factions in Chongqing that killed many hundreds in ferocious fighting, and he dismissed the idea that the violence that ravaged China then could return.

But Bo's downfall has exposed ideological fault lines in the government and the public that could trouble the party months before a delicate reshuffle of top leaders.

"I think the centre has a real problem on its hands," said Joseph Fewsmith, a professor of Chinese politics at Boston University, referring to central leaders' handling of Bo. Read More

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHWESTERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Southwestern Siberia, Russia at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 10:50:30 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 34 km (21 miles) East Saryg-sep, Siberia, Russia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR SOUTH COAST OF WESTERN HONSHU, JAPAN - 2nd Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck near the South Coast of Western Honshu, Japan at a depth of 358.9 km (223 miles), the quake hit at 10:35:08 UTC Monday 2nd April 2012
The epicenter was 116 km (72 miles) SSE of Tsu, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Austerity resistance builds in southern Europe

(Reuters) - Most of the people of southern Europe have stayed surprisingly stoical up to now in the face of some of the most painful budget cuts in living memory, but signs are stirring that patience may soon run out.

An unexpectedly broad general strike in Spain on Thursday and mounting opposition to Prime Minister Mario Monti in Italy are among indicators that resistance is growing in a region at the center of concerns about a resurgence of the euro zone debt crisis.

Portugal remains very subdued for the moment and even Greece, scene of repeated violent street protests, has quietened recently. But there are signals that political leaders will soon be directly in the firing line across Europe, especially if more cuts are required to reduce sovereign debt.

The atmosphere seems a combination of two opposite tendencies - acceptance of the message that deep cuts are the only way to save their countries from economic catastrophe, and a mounting feeling that greater pain cannot be borne by populations suffering deprivation and misery. Read More

Euro zone unemployment reaches near 15-year high

(Reuters) - Unemployment in the euro zone reached its highest level in almost 15 years in February, with more than 17 million people out of work, and economists said they expected job office queues to grow even longer later this year.

Joblessness in the 17-nation currency zone rose to 10.8 percent - in line with a Reuters poll of economists - and 0.1 points worse than in January, Eurostat said on Monday.

"We expect it to go higher, to reach 11 percent by the end of the year," said Raphael Brun-Aguerre, an economist at JP Morgan in London. "You have public sector job cuts, income going down, weak consumption. The economic growth outlook is negative and is going to worsen unemployment."

February's level - last hit in June 1997 - marked the 10th straight monthly rise and contrasts sharply with the United States where the economy has been adding jobs since late last year. Read More