Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bird flu can transmit in mammals, study finds

The results, showing an engineered flu strain can spread easily between ferrets, derive from a controversial study that stirred debate over doing research with the potential to cause harm.

In a long-awaited study that helped prompt a contentious debate over the wisdom of conducting research that has the potential to help as well as harm, scientists reported Wednesday that they had engineered a mutant strain of bird flu that can spread easily between ferrets — a laboratory animal that responds to flu viruses much as people do.

That means that bird flu has "the potential to acquire the ability to transmit in mammals," said University of Wisconsin virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka, who led the study.

Only a few mutations were necessary for the transformation, he added, which suggests that a more contagious strain of bird flu could emerge on its own without targeted prodding by scientists in the lab.

Kawaoka's discovery, published online after a months-long delay by the journal Nature, dampens hopes that the deadly H5N1 virus simply wasn't capable of becoming a highly contagious bug in mammals, including humans.

He and his team developed a hybrid bird flu virus that combined an H5 hemagglutinin gene — which helps viruses bind to host cells — with genes from 2009's pandemic H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu. Read More

Banks slash their lending to firms by £100billion ....Easy to Understand Why Iceland Refused to Finance and Reward their Banks

Britain's banks have slashed their lending to firms by almost £100billion, damning figures revealed yesterday.

Experts accused lenders of 'sucking the lifeblood out of business', which is crippling their ability to invest and, most crucially, to create new jobs.

Since the banking collapse in 2008, net lending in the form of loans to firms has been negative almost every single month. Read More

Chen Guangcheng told CNN from his hospital room in Beijing. "We are in danger"



Beijing (CNN) -- The Chinese activist who walked out of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday after what officials said was a decision he had made on his own said Thursday that he regrets the move and now wants U.S. officials to help get him and his family to the United States.

"I want them to protect human rights through concrete actions," Chen Guangcheng told CNN from his hospital room in Beijing. "We are in danger. If you can talk to Hillary, I hope she can help my whole family leave China."

Chen was referring to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived Wednesday for trade talks and found herself in the middle of a diplomatic firestorm.

Last month, the 40-year-old blind, self-taught lawyer escaped house arrest in the eastern China province of Shandong and fled to Beijing, where he took refuge in the embassy for six days but left Wednesday for a hospital. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF WESTERN TURKEY - 3rd May 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck near the coast of Western Turkey at a depth of 12.5 km (7.8 miles), the quake hit at 01:57:50 UTC Thursday 3rd May 2012
The epicenter was 45 km (27 miles) WNW of Izmir, Turkey
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 3rd May 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Andaman Islands, India Region at a depth of 79.4 km (49.3 miles), the quake hit at 01:18:09 UTC Thursday 3rd May 2012
The epicenter was 181 km (112 miles) SSE of Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NIAS REGION, INDONESIA - 2nd May 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Nias Region, Indonesia at a depth of 37.6 km (23.4 miles), the quake hit at 23:54:27 UTC Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The epicenter was 191 km (118 miles) WSW of Sibolga, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 2nd May 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 6 km (3.7 miles), the quake hit at 23:38:03 UTC Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The epicenter was 190 km (118 miles) ESE from Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA - 2nd May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:06:43 UTC Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The epicenter was 507 km (315 miles) Southwest of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 2nd May 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the Kuril Islands at a depth of 50 km (31 miles), the quake hit at 19:50:07 UTC Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The epicenter was 654 km (405.8 miles) Southwest of Petropavlovsk-kamchatskiy, Kuril Islands, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHEAST OF EASTER ISLAND - 2nd May 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Southeast of Easter Island at a depth of 33 km (20.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:06:09 UTC Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The epicenter was 2591 km (1606.4 miles) West of Ancud, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Four ways the euro could fail

All courses of action appear to lead to an eventual financial crisis of some sort. But moderate progrowth policies are the best bet to minimize the damage

The euro will not die overnight, but it seems increasingly unlikely that the common currency will survive in its present form. European countries and international financial institutions insist that they still expect the euro zone to remain intact, but they are already preparing contingency plans for some sort of breakup. The European Investment Bank, for example, recently required Greek borrowers to agree to a mechanism for repaying loans if Greece abandons the euro.

No one knows, of course, precisely when a fatal euro-zone crisis will occur or exactly what might trigger it. And although the ultimate failure of the euro would cause immense economic and financial shocks worldwide, in the short run the U.S. economy might actually benefit. Read More

Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng left U.S. Embassy after threat

Beijing (CNN) -- Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing under duress Wednesday, a friend of the activist's told CNN, contradicting reports that he departed of his own volition.

Zeng Jinyan, a close friend of Chen and his wife, said that contrary to statements by U.S. and Chinese officials, Chen was forced to leave the embassy after local authorities threatened his wife with violence if he chose to stay.

The human rights activist is at the center of a controversy between the United States and China. He escaped house arrest, took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for six days and left for a hospital Wednesday.

Chen's presence in the U.S. Embassy prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity between the United States and China. Read More

Afghans uneasy over U.S. security pact

May 2 - Afghan residents voice their concerns following the signing of a long-term security pact between the U.S. and Afghanistan. Simon Hanna reports.

A warning from Boko Haram in Nigeria

May 2 - Islamist group Boko Haram releases video claiming it attacked This Day newspapers last week and warns of more attacks. Deborah Lutterbeck reports

Stocks rattled by weak jobs data

May 2 - Just days ahead of the government's monthly jobs report, private data shows weakness on the employment front- putting the stock market on edge. Bobbi Rebell reports

Blind activist believed to be inside Beijing hospital

May 2 - Crowds gather outside a Beijing hospital, where activist Chen Guangcheng is believed to be receiving medical attention. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

Shale boom causes rise in waste gas pollution

(Reuters) - The shale energy boom is fuelling a rise in the burning of waste gas after years of decline, a World Bank source told Reuters ahead of the release of new data, giving environmentalists more ammunition against the industry.

Global gas flaring crept up by 4.5 percent in 2011, the first rise since 2008 and equivalent to the annual gas use of Denmark, preliminary data from the World Bank shows.

The increase is mostly due to the rise in shale oil exploration in North Dakota, propelling the United States into the top 10 gas flaring countries along with Russia, Nigeria and Iraq.

The preliminary data - which will be released in detail later in May - shows that global gas flaring crept up to around 140 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2011, up from 134 bcm the previous year.

Flaring is used to eliminate gas at mineral exploration sites, and is released via pressure relief valves to ease the strain on equipment. Read More

Pirate Bay blockade begins with Virgin Media

Filesharing website is now blocked to millions of UK customers after high court rules that it flouts copyright laws.

The filesharing website The Pirate Bay has been blocked to millions of UK internet users following a high court ruling earlier this week.

Customers of the country's second-biggest internet service provider (ISP), Virgin Media, were on Wednesday denied access to site. Other internet providers, including BT and Sky, are expected to follow suit within weeks.

Britain's ISPs were on Monday ordered to block access to the The Pirate Bay after the court ruled that it flouted copyright laws.

Virgin Media provides internet access to about 4.1 million cable customers in the UK, and more users who opt for its high-speed fibre-optic service. It has 21.5% of the market share, behind BT with 27.5%.

Customers for Virgin Media's rivals said they could still access the filesharing website on Wednesday afternoon. Read More

COMING CRISIS ALERT: MULTIPLE ALERTS ISSUED -- May 2, 2012

ALERT LIFTED: NORTH KOREA JAMMING SOUTH KOREAN FLIGHTS

UPDATE, MAY 8TH: No signs of confrontation or further provocation have taken place, and therefore the alert will be lifted until such time that new information may be provided or the situation changes.

UPDATE, MAY 7TH: The US and South Korea have begun conducting air force exercises with dozens of aircraft. Neither side seems provoked at this point, and this alert will likely be lifted soon if such is the case.

UPDATE, MAY 6TH: Over one hundred shipping vessels have now been targeted for GPS jamming by North Korea. No accidents have been reported as of yet. The reason for the jamming continues to remain unknown.

UPDATE, MAY 4TH: Hundreds of planes from various countries, and also including internal South Korean flights, have now been affected by North Korean jamming.

North Korea has begun its 5th consecutive day of jamming South Korean civilian flights in a provocation aiming to disrupt the South's transport system. We are uncertain at this time of the South Korean reaction, if it's already under way, or will be taking place shortly, and what it might entail.

Due to the growing instability on the Korean Peninsula, and the coming 3rd nuclear test, the Coming Crisis recommends that those in South Korea become familiar with national emergency planning, and to have an escape plan in effect should hostilities erupt. We recommend those in Japan also keep an eye on regional news. 

**********

ALERT LIFTED: MIDDLE EAST GIRDING FOR WAR

UPDATE, MAY 7TH: No further information has surfaced, and no further troops have been called up. For the time being, this alert will be lifted until new developments can be reported. The CC will keep a close eye on the situation.

UPDATE, MAY 4TH: The Israeli military is suspected of conducting chemical warfare drills near Tel-Aviv, and is suspected to be behind the "chlorine smell" throughout the city. It is uncertain if these drills are connected to any imminent military activity.

UPDATE, MAY 3RD: The Prime Minister of Israel has cancelled a trip to China, purportedly due to upcoming Israeli elections. A plausible reason. However, note that this trip was to make up for the last trip to China Israel cancelled 2 years ago -- a great affront unless under exceptional circumstances. What could such conditions be?

Reports out of Israel have verified that the Knesset has approved the call up of 6 reserve battalions to be placed on the borders with Syria and Egypt, with 16 more reserve battalions in the waiting for their own call up. Normally, reserves would not be called up for rotation until year's end, making this an unusual circumstance, especially due to the sheer numbers of soldiers being summoned.

The Coming Crisis, after careful analysis, believes that a war may be imminent, perhaps within a matter of weeks, and will closely monitor the situation in the Middle East.

We recommend those in the following countries begin making plans to leave, or at minimum begin stocking up on necessary supplies:

Israel
Lebanon
Egypt
Syria
Iran
Saudi Arabia
Qatar
Bahrain
UAE
Iraq
Kuwait

Please stay alert to the news in your area, and keep close to the Coming Crisis for more updates on this unfolding situation.

**********

ALERT LIFTED: RUSSIA WARNS OF PREEMPTIVE STRIKES ON EUROPE

No further updates on this situation have emerged. Talks between the US and Russia will likely be ongoing for the next months, and the CC will keep a close eye on the situation. The alert has been lifted not do to its passing, but for a lack of any further information, and could be reinstated at any time.

Russia today warned NATO that it will conduct preemptive strikes on missile defense systems in Eastern Europe should talks break down. The immensity of such a scenario requires little further explanation. There are no preparation instructions, since they would likely do little good in any case, and it is merely to inform that such an alert is being raised.


Israel: Six army battalions called up under emergency orders

The IDF has issued emergency call up orders to six reserve battalions in light of new dangers on the Egyptian and Syrian borders. And the Knesset has given the IDF permission to summon a further 16 reserve battalions if necessary, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.

An IDF spokesperson said intelligence assessments called for the deployment of more soldiers.

According to 2008′s Reserve Duty Law, combat soldiers can be called for active reserve duty once every three years, and for short training sessions during the other two. Rising tensions between Israel and Egypt and the ongoing unrest in Syria caused the army to ask the Knesset for special permission to call up more soldiers, more often.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the request recently, enabling the IDF to summon up to 22 battalions for active duty for the second time in three years. Already, the army has called up six of them.

“This signifies that the IDF regards the Egyptian and Syrian borders as the potential source of a greater threat than in the past,” the former deputy chief of staff, Dan Harel, said on Wednesday night. more

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN IRAN - 2nd May 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Northern Iran at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 16:44:33 UTC Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The epicenter was 65 km (40.3 miles) East of Shahrud, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake PAPUA, INDONESIA - 2nd May 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Papua, Indonesia at a depth of 36.6 km (22.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:39:28 UTC Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The epicenter was 97 km (60 miles) NNW of Enarotali, Papua, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Bird Flu Outbreak in Bali

Officials Cull Hundreds of Bird and Close Markets After Death of Bali Child Initially Linked to H5N1 Virus Outbreak.

Bali Animal Health Officials have again recorded a new outbreak of Bird Flu among Bali’s poultry populations. Officials warn that Bali, as area endemic to the H5N1 Virus, can expect the disease to sporadically present itself at any location around the island from time to time.

Quoted by Beritabali.com, the head of the Livestock and Animal Health Department for Bali, Putu Sumantra, blamed the appearance of Bird Flu in Bali over the past year on low levels of bio-security, particularly at bird and traditional markets where traders place little importance on following guidelines to eliminate the disease.

“The implementation of bio-security measures, by both traders and consumers, is little considered. Because of this, the disease is sporadically appearing, with 12 cases identified to date,” explained Sumantra. Read More

Toddler is Indonesia's seventh bird flu fatality this year

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A 2-year-old boy has died of bird flu in western Indonesia, becoming the country's seventh fatality from the disease this year.

The Health Ministry says the boy died last week in Riau province.

The ministry said Wednesday that the boy may have had contact with quails' eggs sold by his father.

Bird flu, which began ravaging poultry in 2003 and has killed more than 350 people worldwide, is still present in some areas of Asia and the Middle East.

Indonesia has been the hardest-hit country, accounting for 157 of the deaths. Source

Europe plans mission to Jupiter

The European Space Agency (ESA) has approved a roughly €1-billion (US$1.3 billion) mission to Jupiter. On 2 May, ESA's Science Programme Committee endorsed the Jupiter Icy moons Explorer, or JUICE, as its next ‘large class’ space probe. JUICE was favoured over two other missions — the space-based New Gravitational-wave Observatory, and an X-ray telescope called ATHENA.

If all goes well, JUICE will launch in June 2022 on an 11-year mission to explore the giant planet and several of its moons, snapping photos of Jupiter's aurora and hunting for liquid oceans beneath the surfaces of Ganymede and Europa.

JUICE beat competing spacecraft in part because it has a lower risk of cost overruns and technical problems, says Michele Dougherty, the lead scientist on the JUICE study team and a researcher at Imperial College London. But, she adds, the probe also has broad appeal. "The strength of JUICE is that it's of interest to a diverse community of scientists," she says. Read More

China: Family end up living in the middle of a main road after refusing to move out of their home for developers

A property owner has ended living in the middle of a new main road after she refused to move out when developers started construction.

Hong Chunqin, 75, and her husband Kung, who live in the two dilapidated buildings with their two sons, had initially agreed to sell the property in Taizhou, in east China's Zhejiang province and accepted £8,000 in compensation.

But then she changed her mind and refunded the money once work on the road had started.

She and her family are insisting they be allowed to choose where they are relocated to and have installed CCTV cameras to stop the developers from trying to demolish the building illegally.

In the People's Republic of China, during most of the Communist era, private ownership of property was abolished, making it easy for residents to be moved on - but now the laws have been tightened up and it is illegal to demolish property by force without an agreement.

Property owners in China that refuse to move to make way for development are known as 'Nail Householders' referring to a stubborn nail that is not easy to remove from a piece of old wood and cannot be pulled out with a hammer.

A number of high-profile 'nail houses' have already received widespread attention. Source

Astonishing satellite image reveals how 1.5million tons of debris from Japanese tsunami is being swept towards the US

It's brought stories of some bizarre finds - from the reunion of a boy and his football washed up on a uninhabited island to the discovery of a Harley-Davidson.

And more could be coming thick and fast in the coming months as scientists are now saying the wreckage washed into the sea from the Japanese tsunami will reach North American shores far sooner than previously thought.

The latest computer models estimate that thousands of tonnes of the debris, which now stretches 4,000 nautical miles across the north Pacific, will start washing up this October and continue to do so into late 2013. Read More

Kevin Satterfield, from Florida, shot dead his wife, and left his eight-month pregnant daughter Heather in a critical condition

A man is on the run after shooting his eight-month pregnant daughter and killing her boyfriend and his wife.

Kevin Satterfield, 55, from Florida, is wanted by police on two counts of first-degree murder and a count of attempted murder.

The bodies of Satterfield's wife, Vicki, and 27-year-old Christian Martinez, were found at the family home with his daughter, 21-year-old Heather rushed to hospital.

She was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition where she gave birth to a baby girl and is now recovering from emergency surgery.

Family friend, Liz Keiffer admitted she was stunned by the events having know the family for 15 years.

Keiffer told reporters: 'Kevin was very quiet. Read More

Duck Boat Crash in Delaware River

Horrifying new footage was seen for the first time today of the moment a barge slammed into a tour boat drowning two college students.

Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, died when a barge collided with a duck boat on the Delaware River in July 2010, causing 37 people to be thrown into the water.

The video - released days before a wrongful death suit goes to court - shows the 80-yard-long barge moving toward the duck boat, which had broken down, and then driving over the smaller vessel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Read More

David Cook freed from prison early to kill a second time is told he will never be released as judge jails him again

A brutal murderer freed early from prison to kill a second time was today put back behind bars - and a judge told him: ‘You will never be released again.’

David Cook, 65, was jailed for life in 1987 for strangling a woman Sunday school teacher with a dressing gown cord in a robbery.

But he was released after 21 years of his life sentence to move to a village 100 miles away - only to kill again.

Cook strangled neighbour Leonard Hill, 64, by using a TV flex in his own home during another robbery in a desperate search for cash. Read More