Friday, May 11, 2012

"Euro and Democracy at Risk" Say Greek Politicians in Wake of Elections

US spy agency can keep mum on Google ties: court

The top-secret US National Security Agency is not required to reveal any deal it may have with Google to help protect against cyber attacks, an appeals court ruled Friday.

The US Court of Appeals in Washington upheld a lower court decision that said the NSA need not confirm or deny any relationship with Google, because its governing statutes allow it keep such information secret.

The ruling came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from a public interest group, which said the public has a right to know about any spying on citizens.

The appeals court agreed that the NSA can reject the request, and does not even have to confirm whether it has any arrangement with the Internet giant.

"Any information pertaining to the relationship between Google and NSA would reveal protected information about NSA's implementation of its information assurance mission," Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote in the appeals opinion. more

Seven days that shook Europe

Luis de Guindos had one last clandestine mission before unveiling his plan to the public and jittery financial markets. The Spanish finance minister had just won a furious backroom battle to oust Rodrigo Rato, a favourite son of his ruling centre-right Popular party, from the helm of Bankia and nationalised the faltering year-old assemblage of savings banks that had collapsed after betting wrongly on the country’s housing bubble.

But the most critical stage of his still-young tenure was facing him on Friday. He needed to convince the world that his government finally had a scheme to shore up its sinking banking sector, which bond traders were betting would force Madrid to seek EU aid, making it the fourth in a rogue’s gallery of eurozone governments to succumb to foreign management.

Before he could convince the markets, however, he had to convince the people who ran Europe. First on his list was Olli Rehn, the ruddy-faced EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner. But the increasingly powerful Finn was not in Brussels, having flown off to meet Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister. A compromise was agreed: Mr De Guindos would fly under cover of night to Milan on Wednesday, away from the prying press corps in Madrid and Brussels. more

Chinese media warns of war with Philippines

China warned its citizens in the Philippines to "stay indoors" on Thursday as its state media warned of war over a month-long dispute in the South China Sea

Territorial rivalry has escalated throughout the seas around China as regional and international navies seek to establish rights of passage against an expanding Chinese presence.

Chinese and Philippine vessels have been locked in a high seas stand-off since the PLA Navy prevented a Philippine warship from arresting crews of Chinese fishing boats near the Scarborough Shoal on April 8.

Both countries claim the fish rich shoal as their own and protests by Philippine fishermen over their loss of livelihood have drawn mass support in the south-east Asian country.

China International Travel Service, the state-owned tourism operator, yesterday suspended ties with the Philippines after organisers announced plans to demonstrate outside Chinese embassy buildings and property today.

Beijing also issued a travel advisory warning its citizens to keep a low profile. "Avoid going out at all if possible, and if not, to avoid going out alone," it said. "If you come across any demonstrations, leave the area, do not stay to watch." more

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 11th May 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck the Izu Islands, Japan Region at a depth of 384.1 km (238.7 miles), the quake hit at 20:34:24 UTC Friday 11th May 2012
The epicenter was 288 km (179 miles) SSW from Hachijo-jima, Izu Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake SALTA, ARGENTINA - 11th May 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Salta, Argentina at a depth of 543.8 km (337.9 miles), the quake hit at 19:26:30 UTC Friday 11th May 2012
The epicenter was 228 km (142 miles) ENE from San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Second Arrest Over Fatal Derby House Fire



A 38-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with a house fire in Derby which killed five children, according to Sky sources.

It follows the arrest of a 28-year-old woman on suspicion of murder, who remains in police custody.

The brothers and sisters who died in the blaze were earlier named by police as Jade Philpott, aged 10, nine-year-old John, Jack, aged seven, Jessie, six, and Jayden, who was five.

Their 13-year-old brother, Duwayne, remains in a critical condition in hospital in Birmingham. Police say his parents are by his bedside.

Post-mortems will be carried out during the weekend to determine the exact cause of the children's deaths. Read More

Washington Post secretly corrects anti-Romney article without admitting mistake or letting anyone know (Is this journalism?)

On Thursday, Breitbart's Retracto, the Correction Alpaca asked the Washington Post to correct its anti-Mitt Romney hit piece wherein it included an inaccurate and misleading statement about his past. The error was exposed when Stu White contradicted WaPo's reporting in an interview with ABC.

The publication reported that White had "long been bothered" by the Romney bullying incident, when in fact, he wasn't witness to it, and wasn't aware of the story until contacted by the Washington Post. The Post changed its piece after we made our request without informing its readers of the change.

The original copy:

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and has long been bothered by the Lauber incident. "But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks."

The changed copy, my emphasis:

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and said he has been "disturbed" by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by the Washington Post. "But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks."

We appreciate the correction and would have appreciated it even more if the Washington Post had alerted its readers to the change. source

U.S. worried that Israel's new unity government could result in an attack on Iran at any given moment

The United States is worried that Shaul Mofaz and his Kadima party’s joining a unity government with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could result in an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities at any given moment, according to a report on Channel 10 News on Thursday.

U.S. government officials told Channel 10 News that they believe a Likud-Kadima joing government could make a decision about an Israeli attack on Iran at any moment and perhaps even before the U.S. presidential elections in November.

The report said that when the Americans believed early elections would be held in Israel on September, they thought it meant the attack in Iran would be postponed at least until after the election. Now, with the stabilization of Israeli politics and the current government likely to end its term on schedule, the situation has changed and the Americans are concerned.

According to the Channel 10 report, in order to try and prevent or at least postpone the Israeli decision on the issue, the Americans recently held marathon talks with Israeli officials at all levels. more

Japan 'faces extinction' in 1,000 years

Japanese researchers on Friday unveiled a population clock that showed the nation's people could theoretically become extinct in 1,000 years because of declining birth rates.

Academics in the northern city of Sendai said that Japan's population of children aged up to 14, which now stands at 16.6 million, is shrinking at the rate of one every 100 seconds.

Their extrapolations pointed to a Japan with no children left within a millennium.
"If the rate of decline continues, we will be able to celebrate the Children's Day public holiday on May 5, 3011 as there will be one child," said Hiroshi Yoshida, an economics professor at Tohoku University.

"But 100 seconds later there will be no children left," he said. "The overall trend is towards extinction, which started in 1975 when Japan's fertility rate fell below two." Read More

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake CYPRUS REGION - 11th May 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck the Cyprus Region at a depth of 19.8 km (12.3 miles), the quake hit at 18:48:30 UTC Friday 11th May 2012
The epicenter was 87 km (53.9 miles) Southeast of Perivolia, Cyprus
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 11th May 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Kuril Islands at a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles), the quake hit at 18:37:24 UTC Friday 11th May 2012
The epicenter was 546 km (338.5 miles) Northeast of Nemuro, Hokkaido, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Facebook Co-Founder Saverin Gives Up U.S. Citizenship Before IPO (The rich do what they please, of course)

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.

Facebook plans to raise as much as $11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for an Internet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website Who Owns Facebook. At the high end of the IPO valuation, that would be worth about $3.84 billion. His holdings aren’t listed in Facebook’s regulatory filings.

Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship, a move that can trim their tax liabilities in that country. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dorm and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world’s largest social network holds its IPO.

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an e-mailed statement.

Saverin’s name is on a list of people who chose to renounce citizenship as of April 30, published by the Internal Revenue Service. Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship “around September” of last year, according to his spokesman. more

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN - 11th May 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Eastern Honshu, Japan at a depth of 111.4 km (69.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:59:29 UTC Friday 11th May 2012
The epicenter was 58 km (36 miles) West of Koriyama, Honshu, Japan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Monks caught gambling, drinking and partying



Six leaders from South Korea's largest Buddhist order have quit after a video surfaced showing several monks playing high-stakes poker, drinking and smoking, Reuters reports.

"The stakes for 13 hours of gambling were more than 1 billion won ($875,300)," Seongho, a senior monk who uses one name, told Reuters. "Basically, Buddhist rules say don't steal. Look at what they did, they abused money from Buddhists for gambling."

In the video, which aired on South Korean TV networks, men are seen sitting cross-legged on a floor playing cards, some smoking and drinking. The incident allegedly happened after a gathering at a luxury lakeside hotel in late April for a fellow monk's memorial service. Read More

U.S., NATO apologize for Afghan deaths as Suspected Militants turned out to be Innocent Civilians

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- NATO and the U.S. military apologized Friday to the families and loved ones of Afghans killed in coalition airstrikes this month in two villages.

"Unfortunately, the preliminary investigations into these events have determined that our actions have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries to Afghan civilians," said a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

"The coalition takes full responsibility for these tragic and regrettable incidents, and we will meet with the family members of those who died or were injured to express our sincere condolences," the statement said.

The deaths occurred May 4 in the village of PanKalay and May 6 in Nowbar, the coalition said. Read More

Who's really behind bombings?

British Man Held In China After Sex Attack



Chinese police have detained a British man for sexual indecency after an online video that appears to show a woman woman being assaulted prompted widespread outrage.

A statement from the Beijing police said that late at night on May 8 "a foreign man was acting in a sexually indecent manner towards a woman in public after consuming alcohol."

He is now in detention and being "questioned according to the law."

The statement confirmed that the man is British and is in China on a tourist visa.

A spokesperson from the Foreign Office told Sky News: "we are aware of the detention of a British national in China. Read More

Police Staff Fined Over Prisoner 'Torture'



Two members of Durham Constabulary staff who held and twisted the arms of a prisoner to make him answer their questions have been fined by magistrates.

CCTV footage taken in the custody suite of Peterlee police station last March shows David Healer screaming in pain during the assaults by Sergeant Stephen Harvey and civilian detention officer Michael Mount.

The pair, who have not been suspended but have been moved to other duties, were each found guilty of two counts of common assault in March.

Mr Healer, a 48-year-old DIY store manager, claims he was suffering an angina attack during his time in custody, and at one stage thought he was going to die. Read More

Greece Fails To Form Coalition Government

Greek politicians have failed in their latest attempt to form a coalition government to deal with the country's economic crisis.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Greece's anti-bailout Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party, has said he will not join a national unity government with Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos.

"It is not the Left Coalition that has refused this proposal, but the Greek people who did so with their vote on Sunday," Mr Tsipras said.

More to follow...

Taiwan confirms highly pathological H5N2 bird flu case in Yunlin County

An outbreak of avian flu in Yunlin County has been confirmed as caused by the highly pathological type of H5N2, reports said Friday, with the culling of chickens scheduled to start later in the day.

More than 3,500 chickens died at a farm in Peikang over the past four days, leading to strong suspicions that bird flu was behind the outbreak. According to test results finalized on Friday, the fears were confirmed that the chickens died of H5N2.

As a result, all 18,000 birds at the farm will have to be slaughtered, reports said. The culling was expected to begin Friday afternoon and to be completed by the end of the day.

The Yunlin County Government said that since the outbreak started on May 7, no chickens reached the market so there was no danger to consumers. The military had been called in to clean up the surrounding areas and more than a dozen farms in the neighborhood had been put under close watch, officials said. Yunlin County reportedly counts 900 poultry farms with a total of 13 million chickens, but no problems had been detected at other farms, the local government said. Read More

Mysterious disease claims two more dead in Vietnam

HANOI - The skin disease in Vietnam's central province of Quang Ngai has left two more dead, said Dang Thi Phuong, director of the affected Ba To district's Healthcare Center on Friday.

So far, the disease has left 21 dead in the province, some 730 km south of capital Hanoi, among 201 infected victims.
Late April, the provincial health department reported 14 out of 26 blood samples from patients were positive for the Rickettsia Virus which is transferred from animals to people by lice or fleas.

Recently, the Vietnam's Ministry of Health has sent a delegation of 70 experts to Ba To district to train local healthcare staff on the syndromes of the disease.

After the training, the delegation is scheduled to conduct studies on the disease in the district for five days and carry out research on clinical syndromes, micro-organisms, the living environment and epidemiology to identify the real cause of the disease. Source

Fifteen cattle dead after train crash in Oxfordshire

Fifteen cattle were killed and several others injured after colliding with a high-speed train in Oxfordshire.

More than 200 passengers were aboard the Crosscountry Trains service between Bournemouth and Manchester yesterday (10 May) when it struck the animals after they had wandered onto the tracks near the village of Tackley.

Passengers were left in tears after the collision, which left a lot of blood spilled on the tracks.

A spokesman for the train company said the train had not been derailed and none of the passengers were injured. Read More

Wildlife officials probe mysterious brown pelican deaths in Brevard

PALM SHORES – State wildlife officials are investigating a spate of sudden brown pelican deaths along the Indian River Lagoon.

Four brown pelicans were reported dead on May 3 in a private pond in Rockledge.

Remains of the birds have been sent to a state research laboratory in Gainesville for testing.

The Florida Fish and Wildlilfe Conservation Commission laboratory will examine the birds for disease, toxic exposure and other causes of death.

“The birds had no external signs of injury,” said Kevin Baxter, spokesman for the state’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. Read More

The mystery of the dead sand eels

THE appearance of thousands of dead sand eels washed up on beaches across Jersey and Guernsey at the weekend has left experts scratching their heads.

The small, translucent fish, which are a favourite food of puffins and larger fish, were found by members of the public on the sand and in rock pools in St Ouen’s Bay, Ouaisné and in bays along the north coast.

Calls then flooded in to the Environment department to report the unusual finds.

A number of possible theories have now been put forward to explain the mass beaching, including high tides, unusual lunar activity and very heavy rain. Read More

Hundreds of dead shad in creek baffle York campground owner‎

o/2012-05/69834012.jpg">
The unsightly pile of dead fish causes a stench, and often forces her to close a portion of the campground. Source


Dead fish washing up on Lake Simcoe's shores



Residents at the south end of Lake Simcoe are holding their noses after thousands of dead fish washed up on the shore near Keswick over the past week.

Environment officials are trying to determine what is causing the fish to die. Source

Dead fish found along shoreline of Rock County lake

EVANSVILLE, Wis. - A Rock County lake is being monitored after several dozen dead fish were discovered along the shoreline.

Jim Ark and his high school friend were catching and releasing memories on Thursday afternoon on Lake Leota.

"Every fish we've caught today have been real nice and fat. They look real healthy," said Ark.

Things at the Evansville lake hit a snag last Friday when city workers discovered dead fish along the shoreline of the lake.

"I got a call there were some fish floating in the water. I came up here to look," said Rock County Streets Department worker Brian Roberts. "They were around the spillways and along the north shore here, probably three dozen or so (dead fish)."

A group of residents working to preserve the lake notified Department of Natural Resources officials, who believe the fish kill was likely an isolated incident. Read More

Volcano monitoring equipment stolen during eruption threat in Colombia‎

Thieves stole scientific instruments used to monitor the highly active Nevado del Ruiz volcano in central Colombia, said scientists Wednesday.

Seismologic and Volcanic Observation Director Gloria Patricia Cortes told local media, "Wednesday morning we noticed there was no signal [from the equipment] and sent out a team to carry out maintenance and repair. Unfortunately when they arrived the discovered the equipment had been stolen."

The instruments in question monitored mud flows near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Scientists said the stolen equipment was not of great monetary value, but was a crucial part of the monitoring systems which allow scientists to give the local population an advanced warning in case of eruptions.

The volcano has been fluctuating at high activity levels for the past several months and is currently at alert level yellow.

The last eruption of the volcano in 1985 wiped out the town of Armero and killed around 25,000 people. Source

Ash from Popocatepetl volcano closes airport in Mexico

Mexican authorities have closed the airport serving the country's fourth-largest city after ash from the nearby Popocatepetl volcano fell on runways.

A federal airport services spokesman says the international airport serving the city of Puebla was closed as a precautionary measure, forcing the cancellation of single flight to the northern city of Monterrey.

The airport is about 30km from the 5450-metre volcano.

Spokesman Herbert Lopez Palma said on Thursday the ash could have posed a risk in takeoff and landing. Read More

Flash flood in north Afghanistan kills at least 27

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A flash flood swept through villages in a mountainous area of northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 17 people, authorities said.

It was the second major flood reported this week in the north.

Abdul Jabar Taqwa, the governor of Takhar province, said flood waters broke through a dam early Friday, washed down a valley and damaged several villages in Ishkamish district.

"It was a very powerful flood. It hit around midnight," Taqwa said. "Dozens of villages have been hit. I'm worried that the death toll will go up." Read More

Landslide kills dozens in China

At least 24 people died, while 33 others have been listed as missing as a result of a hailstorm and a landslide in China’s northwestern province of Gansu.

Six urban areas are suffering blackouts, and dozens of homes, hospitals and schools have been destroyed. Almost 2,000 people have been evacuated from the worst-hit areas. Economic damage is estimated at 137 million dollars. Source

Jet plunges in turbulence, hurting 11 crew, passengers, China

Eight China Southern Airlines Flight CZ3525 passengers and three crew members suffered fractures and bruises yesterday when their Boeing 777 jet encountered severe turbulence on route from Guangzhou to Shanghai.

One passenger suffered a cervical fracture; another broke an arm. Others had bruises in their faces, Guangzhou-based air carrier said.

Some passengers who did fasten their seat belts were thrown out of their seats. Food and drinks also spilled on passengers during the sudden turbulence 20 minutes after taking off.

"I had a horrible feeling that I was going to die at that moment because I suddenly felt being weightless," a passenger said on his microblog.

"The plane was plunging for several seconds that made things fly all about and some passengers were thrown out of their seats," said Hou Jinlin, another passenger on the flight.

A stewardess who was serving food and drinks when the turbulence happened was tossed in the air along with her dining cart.

"A laptop flew up and dropped on my head," a Guangzhou passenger said.

Ambulances waited on the runway in Shanghai Hongqiao Airport to send injured passengers directly to the Changning District Center Hospital as soon as the plane landed at 15:30pm. Doctors said none of them suffered serious injuries. Read More

MI-6 gave Brit passport to al Qaeda double agent

WASHINGTON — Officials say a double-agent who fooled al Qaeda's terror group in Yemen possessed a British passport that was provided by that country's intelligence agency, MI-6, as part of the ruse.

The would-be suicide bomber's British citizenship would have made him an attractive terror recruit, because he could travel more freely to Western countries.

Instead, he sneaked al Qaeda's underwear bomb out of Yemen, delivering it to the CIA in a major intelligence coup.

The two officials talked on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the plot.

The operation shows the close co-operation among the U.S., Britain, and Saudi Arabia, whose intelligence service played a major role in infiltrating the organization, and helping communicate with the agent.

The British intelligence role was first reported by NBC News. Source

China issues warnings on Philippines, hints two nations are on brink of war

China told its citizens Thursday they were not safe in the Philippines and its state media warned of war, as a month-long row over rival claims in the South China Sea threatened to spill out of control.

Chinese travel agencies announced they had suspended tours to the Philippines, under government orders, and the embassy in Manila advised its nationals already in the country to stay indoors ahead of planned protests.

"Avoid going out at all if possible, and if not, to avoid going out alone. If you come across any demonstrations, leave the area, do not stay to watch," the embassy's advisory said.

The safety alerts came as government-controlled media in China warned the country was prepared to go to war to end the stand-off over Scarborough Shoal -- small islands in the South China Sea that both nations claim as their own.

"No matter how willing we are to discuss the issue, the current Philippine leadership is intent on pressing us into a corner where there is no other option left but the use of arms," the China Daily said in an editorial.

"Manila is living in a fantasy world if it mistakes our forbearance for timidity." more

Syrian army thwarts 1200kg car bomb attack by Soulless Terrorist Rebels (And I'm being nice about this)

Syrian forces foiled an attempted suicide car bombing in the northern city of Aleppo on Friday, state television said, a day after two bombs in the capital killed at least 55 people.

Security forces say they killed the bomber, who had 1,200 kg of explosives in the car. (more)


Massive fault found beneath Japan's Mount Fuji

Japan's Mount Fuji may be sitting on a large, active fault that could trigger a magnitude-7 earthquake, changing the shape of the mountain and devastating nearby communities, the education ministry said on Thursday.

A survey commissioned by the ministry found a 30-km fault beneath Japan's highest mountain, believed by many to be sacred, and research results indicate it was likely to be active, a ministry official said.

If the fault sets off an earthquake, it could lead to a major landslide and hit communities at the foot of the 3,776-metre-high mountain. Further research was required, the official said.

A magnitude-9 earthquake and massive tsunami hit northern Japan last year, leaving nearly 19,000 people dead or missing and causing the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

An earthquake in 1707 caused Fuji to erupt and killed an estimated 20,000 people. Source

Earthquake measuring 5.4 hits North-East India, tremors felt in Guwahati, Kolkata

Guwahati: An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook Guwahati in Assam and Shillong in Meghalaya at about 6.15 this evening. Tremors were felt in other parts of the North East and some mild ones even in Kolkata. (Tweets on the earthquake)

The epicenter of the quake has been reported to be in Naogaon in Assam. No major damage has been reported yet from Guwahati or Shillong. But people in Guwahati rushed out on to the roads when it happened and many said they had not felt such a major quake in a long time.

"I was sitting in my room and was working on a laptop. Suddenly I felt the tremors and I immediately got down," said a resident of Guwahati.

In Kolkata, the tremors felt were mild, but some people in high-rise buildings rushed out. Source

Final Nail in Euro: 'It's a programmed crisis'

Alleged UN abuse victim testifies in Uruguay

Questioning US-Israel relations

Protests in Philippines over China dispute

Political Activists to be Pacified by PSYOP Officers in Govt Prison Camps

Revenge against Chen Guangcheng's Family

Human flesh capsules found in S Korea customs

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemns Syria bombings during China visit

'Syria messy civil war distorted by Annan plan'

Banks prepare for the return of the drachma

(Reuters) - Banks are quietly readying themselves to start trading a new Greek currency. Some banks never erased the drachma from their systems after Greece adopted the euro more than a decade ago and would be ready at the flick of a switch if its debt problems forced it to bring back national banknotes and coins.

From the end of the Soviet Union - which spawned currencies such as the Estonian Kroon and the Kazakh Tenge - to the introduction of the euro, they have had plenty of practice in preparing their systems to cope with change.

Planning behind the scenes has been underway since Europe's debt crisis erupted in Greece in 2009, said U.S.-based Hartmut Grossman of ICS Risk Advisors who works with Wall Street banks.

"A lot of the firms, particularly in Europe and also here, have been looking at that for a long time," said Grossman, who added that the latest Greek political crisis had brought matters "to a little bit of a head".

"But there really has been contingency planning at all of the financial institutions for that to happen ... Greece leaving the euro zone is not a new idea," he said. Read More

U.S.says attacks in Syria could be work of 'spoilers'

May 10 - Washington condemned the double car bombings in the Syrian capital, the worst attack in Damascus since the uprising began. Deborah Gembara reports.

China economy shows unexpected signs of weakness

(Reuters) - China's economy stuttered unexpectedly in April with lower than expected output data, softening retail sales and easing prices suggesting economic headwinds might be stiffer than thought, requiring more robust policy responses to counter them.

Industrial output expanded at its slowest annual pace in April in nearly three years, while fixed asset investment growth dipped to its lowest in almost a decade.

The weak growth in fixed asset investment signaled that the impact of a prolonged credit crunch in China's real estate sector, and of flagging demand from export markets, was more severe than first thought.

In fact, new loans in April were well below what most market observers had expected, helping to explain continued tight conditions for businesses and developers despite the gentle easing espoused by Beijing.

"The data suggests further deceleration of the economy at the start of Q2, with all segments of private demand weak," Dariusz Kowalczyk, economist at Credit Agricole-CIB in Hong Kong, said. Read More

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake ASSAM, INDIA - 11th May 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Assam, India at a depth of 11.5 km (7.1 miles), the quake hit at 12:41:31 UTC Friday 11th May 2012
The epicenter was 114 km (71 miles) East from Gauhati, Assam, India
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Red Cross suspends work in Pakistan after staffer's killing

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday it was suspending its work in Pakistan pending a review of its presence in the South Asian country.

The decision comes after the killing of Khalil Rasjed Dale, a 60-year old health program manager who was abducted four months ago in Balochistan. His body was found last month.

The 900 national staff members of the Red Cross have been placed on paid leave, and 80 foreign staffers have been flown to Islamabad, said spokesman Christian Cardon.

"Over the last few years unfortunately, it has become very dangerous not only in Pakistan but all over the world with the ICRC staff being targeted and coming under attack," Cardon said.

Jacques de Maio, the head of Red Cross operations for South Asia, said the aid agency was compelled to "completely reassess the balance between the humanitarian impact of our activities and the risks faced by our staff." Read More