Thursday, May 17, 2012

Iran threatens to sue Google for not labeling Persian Gulf

(CNN) -- Iran is taking on one of the world's biggest Internet giants, threatening to sue over something that is not on its maps.

On state-run Press TV, the Iranian regime warns it may take legal action against Google for not labeling the Persian Gulf.

It's the latest volley in what one expert calls a "war of words" that has raged for decades over the waterway that borders Iran and several Arab countries.

Iran previously lashed out against the U.S. military for calling the waterway the Arabian Gulf.

In a statement Thursday, the Iranian regime accused Google of carrying out efforts of Iran's enemies. Read More

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake GREECE - 17th May 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Greece at a depth of 2 km (1.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:22:05 UTC Thursday 17th May 2012
The epicenter was 13 km (8.6 miles) Southeast of Paramithiá, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS - 17th May 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Santa Cruz Islands at a depth of 57.7 km (35.9 miles), the quake hit at 19:49:33 UTC Thursday 17th May 2012
The epicenter was 215 km (133 miles) South of Lata, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN IRAN - 17th May 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck Southern Iran at a depth of 2 km (1.2 miles), the quake hit at 19:32:13 UTC Thursday 17th May 2012
The epicenter was 64 km (39.6 miles) South of Gerash, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake TAJIKISTAN - 17th May 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck Tajikistan at a depth of 13.5 km (8.4 miles), the quake hit at 15:00:12 UTC Thursday 17th May 2012
The epicenter was 57 km (35 miles) South of Guliston, Uzbekistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Rocks Found At Trestles Beach Ignite In Woman's Pocket, Causing 3rd Degree Burns (Rocks from an area with a nuclear plant, interestingly)

How rocks collected from a southern Orange County beach caught fire in the pocket of a San Clemente woman's cargo shorts, landing her in a hospital with third-degree burns, remained a mystery Thursday.

The 43-year old woman's children picked up the seven orange and green rocks on Saturday at San Onofre State Beach, which is popular with surfers and known locally as Trestles.

The rocks combusted and set the woman's shorts on fire and continued to burn the wood floor of her Avenida Estrella house, according Capt. Marc Stone of the Orange County Fire Authority.

The woman, whose name was not released, was hospitalized at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana with third-degree burns to her right thigh and knee, Stone said. He added that the victim "stopped, dropped and rolled" in an effort to douse the flames, and her husband suffered second-degree burns to his hands as he tried to help.

The Orange County Health Care Agency is running tests on the rocks, but results could be days away, Stone said.

Two of the rocks were found to contain phosphorous, which can burn like a road flare when ignited, but the other five were cross-contaminated while in the woman's pocket, according to ABC7.

The rocks were smooth and some were the size of a hamburger patty, while others were small enough to fit in a coffee cup, according to news reports.

"There is phosphorous that naturally occurs on the sand at the beach, but no one has ever heard of pants catching fire," Stone told the Orange County Register. more

Note: Interestingly, San Onofre is home to a often-malfunctioning nuclear power plant that the Coming Crisis regularly reports on. Coincidence? Who knows, but it's a strange correlation for such a mysterious incident.

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Obama's Literary Agent: 'Born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii'

Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

The booklet, which was distributed to "business colleagues" in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.

It also promotes Obama's anticipated first book, Journeys in Black and White--which Obama abandoned, later publishing Dreams from My Father instead.

Obama’s biography in the booklet is as follows (image and text below):

Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation. He served as project coordinator in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group, and was Executive Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago’s South Side. His commitment to social and racial issues will be evident in his first book, Journeys in Black and White. more

Note: How much more is needed for people to start looking into this seriously?

'Grexit: Army on streets & border shutdown'

'UN must take action on Bahrain'..Not sure the U.S. Would allow this

Libyan women struggle for political empowerment

Deadly Lebanon clashes intensify over Syria conflict

'US played right into Al-Qaeda hands in Yemen'

Cameron slams Euro bosses as people pull the plug

Tehran warns West ahead of Iran-P5+1 talks

Fitch warns of mass eurozone downgrades as frontrunner to lead Greece rails at 'barbaric' austerity

All eurozone countries face downgrades to their debt ratings if the risk of a Greek exit rises following next month's elections, a leading credit agency warned last night.

Fitch Ratings downgraded Greece's sovereign rating to CCC from B- and sounded a wider alert for the rest of the currency bloc. It said it would put the entire zone on downgrade watch if after June 17's poll, "Fitch assesses that the risk of a Greek exit from European Monetary Union is probable in the near term."

The agency said it had cut Greece's rating to reflect "the heightened risk that Greece may not be able to sustain its membership of EMU"

It said "the strong showing of 'anti-austerity' parties in the May 6 elections and subsequent failure to form a government underscores the lack of public and political support for the EU-IMF €173bn programme".

Should the voters once again reject austerity and structural reform, Fitch said "an exit of Greece from EMU would be probable". That would be expected to trigger "a widespread default on private sector as well as sovereign euro-denominated obligations".

The agency's warning came as the front runner to become Greece's next leader, Alexis Tsipras, vowed that he would never yield to European demands to impose "barbaric" austerity. Read More

Greek euro exit could cost hundreds of billions

(Reuters) - A Greek exit from the euro zone could expose the European Central Bank and the currency bloc it seeks to protect to hundreds of billions of euros in losses, landing Germany and its partners with a crippling bill.

A Greek departure would take Europe into uncharted legal waters. The size of the burden other euro zone states could bear gives them a powerful incentive to keep Greece in the currency club.

With most of Greek's private creditors having taken heavy writedowns as part of the country's second, 130 billion euros bailout, it is estimated that the ECB, International Monetary Fund and euro zone nations hold approaching 200 billion of its debt.

"In the event of an exit, they (Greece) will default. And the loss given default will probably be very high, high enough to eliminate the ECB's capital," said Andrew Bosomworth, senior portfolio manager at asset manager Pimco.

"They might need recapitalization from governments, who are not exactly in the best position to provide additional capital." Read More

Spain returns to recession amid bank crisis....If you ask the Public they will say they never left Recession

(Reuters) - Spain's borrowing costs shot up at a bond auction on Thursday, after economic data confirmed the country is back in recession and reports of an outflow of deposits from nationalized Bankia hammered its share price.

The Spanish Treasury had to pay around 5 percent to attract buyers of three- and four-year bonds. The longer-dated paper sold with a yield of 5.106 percent, way above the 3.374 percent the last time it was auctioned.

"This ... fits the pattern of recent sales, with the Spanish treasury successfully getting its supply away but at ever-higher yields," said Richard McGuire, rate strategist at Rabobank in London. "This unfavorable trend looks set to remain firmly in place ... Ultimately, this ratcheting up of yields will likely require some form of outside intervention."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Wednesday his government, struggling to reduce its budget deficit, could soon find it difficult to fund itself affordably on the bond market unless the pressure eases.

On Thursday his finance minister, Cristobal Montoro, met finance chiefs from all of Spain's 17 devolved regions, most of which missed their deficit targets last year, to review their budgets which are crucial in the drive to lower public debt. Read More

Mexican battle to identify decapitated

Monterrey, Mexico (CNN) -- Mexican authorities are asking for DNA samples from families of missing persons nationwide in their efforts to identify 49 decapitated bodies, an official said Wednesday.

That will be the only way to identify the victims -- whose killers cut off their heads, hands and feet -- Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene told reporters three days after investigators found the remains abandoned along a highway.

Officials in El Salvador may also request access to the DNA data authorities in Nuevo Leon have compiled, to compare it with samples from family members of Salvadoran migrants who have gone missing in Mexico, Domene said.

While investigators work to identify the victims behind closed doors, parts of the case have played out quite publicly.

Banners hanging in locations throughout the country, purportedly from the Zetas, claim that the notoriously ruthless cartel had nothing to do with the gruesome crime. Read More

Bacteria a 'good bet' for alien life

Forget the bug-eyed green aliens with advanced technology. Life on other planets may exist in forms too tiny to see, if mysterious tiny organisms like those found under our oceans live elsewhere.

Scientists have discovered bacteria living in 86 million-year-old red clay under the ocean floor, cut off from sunlight and all other life, that may be subsisting on the minimum bit of energy required to sustain life. They use up oxygen extremely slowly, and are still recycling material that fell from the ocean's surface millions of years ago.

"If you wanted to look for life for another planet, I think this is a really good bet," said Hans Røy, biologist at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark. Røy is the lead author of a new study about the bacteria that appears in the journal Science.

Røy and colleagues found the microscopic organisms about 30 meters (100 feet) below the ocean floor in the northern Pacific Ocean. Most of the genes from the bacteria don't look like anything we know on the surface. Read More

French finance minister says no EU fiscal pact without growth

Paris (CNN) -- Newly appointed Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said Thursday that France would not ratify a European pact on budget discipline if it does not include measures to boost growth.

Moscovici said an "ambitious" strategy for growth was needed, in an interview with CNN affiliate BFM-TV.

The fiscal pact was signed by most European leaders late last year, and Germany, the economic powerhouse of the region, has said it is not up for renegotiation.

Moscovici said French President Francois Hollande, sworn into office two days ago, was well aware of the gravity of the crisis facing Europe.

But the new Socialist government would stick to the campaign promises made by Hollande, he said, including his pledge to incorporate a "growth dimension" into the fiscal compact. Read More

1 Billion Euro run on a recently nationalised Spanish bank has sparked further fears that the 17-nation eurozone is about to implode.

A €1billion run on a recently nationalised Spanish bank has sparked further fears that the 17-nation eurozone is about to implode.

European markets fell as fears of a continent-wide contagion from goverment-less Greece's economic crisis also spread.

Shares in Bankia, Spain's fourth biggest bank formed in 2010 through a merger of seven struggling regional savings institutions, today plummeted by 27 per cent.

The pan-European FTSE 300 index was down 0.9 per cent at 984.22 points by 10.26.am, close to a four-and-a-half-month low of 983.95 points reached yesterday.

Spain's benchmark IBEX index fell nearly 2 per cent to its lowest level since mid-2003.

It came following a report in El Mundo newspaper that its customers had withdrawn more than €1billion from their accounts over the past week. Read More

America reaches racial tipping point: Babies born to ethnic minorities outnumber white births for first time in history

For the first time, racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the U.S., in what has been described as an 'important landmark' in the evolution of the country's demographic.

New census estimates for 2011 highlight sweeping changes in the nation's racial makeup, capping decades of heady immigration growth that is now slowing.

It also reveals the prolonged impact of a weak economy, which is resulting in fewer Hispanics entering the U.S.

Minorities made up roughly 2.02 million, or 50.4 per cent of U.S. births in the 12-month period ending July 2011. That compares with 37 per cent in 1990.

Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau who is now a sociologist at Howard University, said: 'This is an important landmark. This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders.' Read More

Green Tap Water in New Jersey: Officials insist it's safe to drink



Running the tap in Toms River, New Jersey, has some people turning green, but not in the way you might think.

The water in the coastal town has actually become green thanks to an overabundance of iron, though water experts insist that despite its hue, it's safe to drink.

The tinted tap is unnoticeable in small amounts, such as a glass of water, but in larger pools and tubs, the disturbing coloration comes out loud and unclear.

Two weeks ago, Toms River resident Ed Lefebvre started to fill up his pool for the summer season.

He told CBS that he cleaned, drained and refilled it several times, even pouring in a variety of chemicals, but could not figure out what was causing the coloration.

'The water is green coming out of the tap,' Mr Lefebvre said to CBS.

Several other residents are experiencing the same problem and are afraid to drink, cook, or water their lawns with the funky water.

But New Jersey American Water (NJAM), the utility that provides the water, maintains that there's nothing wrong with the quality, it's just a bit of discoloration. Read More

Have scientists finally found fragments of the meteorite which set off the mysterious 1908 Tunguska catastrophe?

At 7.17am on June 30, 1908, an explosion like a detonating hydrogen bomb erupted in the forests of Siberia - and until now, scientists have offered no conclusive explanation for the event.

Now Italian scientists claim to have found chunks of a meteorite which might have caused the blast - from seismic and magnetic scans of nearby Lake Cheko.

Lake Cheko, they claim is an impact crater for the blast - which devastated nearly 1,000 square miles of forest and was detected hundreds of miles away.
'This “Tunguska Event” is probably related to the impact with the Earth of a cosmic body that exploded about three to six miles above ground, releasing in the atmosphere 10-15 megatons of energy,' say the researchers.

Fragments of the impacting body have never been found, and its nature (comet or asteroid) is still a matter of debate.

'We report here results from a magnetic and seismic reflection study of a small lake, Lake Cheko, located about 8 km NW of the inferred explosion epicenter, that was proposed to be an impact crater left by a fragment of the Tunguska Cosmic Body,' say the researchers, from the University of Bologna in a paper published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. Read More

Cavernous limestone bowl is so beautiful it's become a tourist attraction as the world's most stunning sinkhole

They usually hit the headlines for swallowing cars, houses and occasionally whole streets.

But this particular sinkhole in Oman is so stunning it has been turned into a tourist attraction.

The beautiful limestone hollow, in Bimmah, boasts the kind of clear waters normally only seen on holiday postcards.

While similar holes engulf residential streets or open up in front of despairing home owners, the Bimmah sinkhole has long been attracting tourists eager for a picturesque swim.

Visitors are regularly spotted at the Oman site taking a dip in the vibrant emerald-tinted waters of its 20m-deep pool.

Sinkholes are found worldwide, and can form suddenly or over time, ranging in size from just one metre wide. Read More

Diego Maradona scrubbing floors for England football fans in Carlsberg Commercial, angers Argentina

A fleeting two-second appearance of a Diego Maradona lookalike washing floors in an English beer advert has sparked outrage in Argentina.

Argentinians say they have been 'insulted' by Danish firm Carlsberg's 90-second promo video, which shows the back of their World Cup winning Hand of God legend with mop in hand.

The advert, aimed at the English market for the national football team's 'official beer', has sparked anger on social networks - with many demanding a boycott of the firm's products. Read More


4183 Cuno Giant Asteroid Will approaches the Earth on May 20th 2012

Last visit to a similar distance was the December 22, 2000

Giant Asteroid 4183 Cuno (1959M) with an estimated diameter between 3.5 and 7.8 km approaching the Earth and will have its closest approach on 20 May.

According to Programme International Near-Earth Objects NEO, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, NASA, May 20 is expected to Cuno asteroid reaches a distance of 0.14 AU from Earth a speed of 14.3 km / s.

Considering that 1 AU is the distance Earth-Sun and is 150 million km, Cone will be on 21 million km from Earth .

The asteroid was discovered on June 5, 1959 by astronomers Cuno Hoffmeister and Bloemfontein , and since then know their repeated approaches to our planet.

On March 18, 2012 recorded its closest approach to Venus at a speed of 17.5 km / s.

On December 22, 2000 approached the Earth at a distance similar to the 20 of May, ie 0.14 AU. Read More

Earth threatened by 6,200 potentially hazardous asteroids, new Nasa study shows

As many as 6,200 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) are orbiting close to Earth, a new survey by Nasa has revealed.

The PHAs are considered robust enough to survive the passage through Earth's atmosphere. If they were to collide with Earth they could cause damage on a large scale, experts warn.

In the most detailed study of PHAs yet researchers used infrared scans from Nasa’s 16-inch WISE telescope to identify 4,700 asteroids – plus or minus 1500 – that come within five million miles of Earth’s orbit.

An image released by Nasa shows the distribution of the PHAs - with every orange dot representing an asteroid measuring 330 feet (100 metres) or more that is in orbit.

Only 20% to 30% of these objects have previously been charted. Read More

Iqbal Singh an illegal immigrant who killed father-of-four in motorway crash is jailed for just two years

A widow has reacted with fury after an illegal immigrant who killed her husband in a motorway crash was jailed for just two years.

Van driver Iqbal Singh, who was on the run from the UK Border Agency, was driving without a licence when he crashed into Malcolm Anderson's car after falling asleep at the wheel.

The 54-year-old father-of-four suffered a heart attack and died at the scene after his car hit a concrete post on the M6 near Coventry.

Singh, 39, then gave police a false name and address to avoid being caught by immigration officers.

Mr Anderson's widow Deborah hit out after the Indian illegal immigrant was jailed at Warwick Crown Court.

She said: 'In my opinion he should swing for his crime because he is a murderer.

'Singh will walk free in a few months while we have been given a life sentence as we will never get my husband back.' Read More

Donna Summer Dead at 63

Donna Summer -- the Queen of Disco -- died this morning after a battle with cancer ... TMZ has learned.

We're told Summer was in Florida at the time of her death. She was 63 years old.

Sources close to Summer tell us ... the singer was trying to keep the extent of her illness under wraps. We spoke to someone who was with Summer a couple of weeks ago ... who says she didn't seem too bad.

In fact, we're told she was focused on trying to finish up an album she had been working on.

Summer was a 5-time Grammy winner who shot to superstardom in the '70s with iconic hits like "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls." more

Plaques found among haul of scrap metal worth tens of thousands seized in police raids

Memorial plaques worth thousands were seized during police raids as part of a crackdown on the illegal scrap metal trade.

A bronze statue of Christ, 150 plaques from churches and graveyards, an Oriental dragon, children’s playground slides and fire escape stairs were among other stolen items recovered in raids throughout the capital.

Officers recovered the £3,500 Chinese dragon and plaques from a scrapyard in south west London.

The ornament, which was listed on the Metropolitan Police's stolen arts database, had been taken from a residential garden in Teddington, south west London, and was one of a pair.

There are at least 100 metal-theft related offences reported to police in London alone every week - and the cost of thefts nationally to the economy is estimated at £770million a year. Read More

Sara Ege reveals how she burned seven-year-old son's body after 'battering him to death'

A mother told how she set fire to her seven-year-old son with barbecue lighter fuel as he lay on the floor outside his bedroom, a court heard today.

Sara Ege, 31, is accused of beating her son to death before setting fire to his body to cover-up his murder. Yaseen Ege was originally thought to have died in a tragic accident in the house fire.

But a post mortem examination revealed the boy had suffered 'a catalogue of systematic physical abuse', with his mother accused of using a stick to beat him.

Ege told how she found the lighter fuel from their garden barbecue to set fire to his body as he lay on the landing of their family home.

His mother told police: 'I put most of the barbecue liquid on the rug where he was lying and lit it.

'It was all dark in the room and I dragged him to the doorway and put more on the carpet then I lit the carpet on two or three of the stairs.

'I think I pulled him to the fire.' Read More

Economists warn Britain faces depression lasting a DECADE

David Cameron today set the UK up for a dramatic clash with France as he insisted that austerity is the only way through the financial turmoil gripping the continent.

The Prime Minister warned of 'perilous economic times' as he pledged to use spending cuts to 'keep Britain safe from the storm' that economists say could be the start of a decade-long depression.

The stark comments put Britain on a collision course with new French president Francois Hollande who has promised voters yet more spending - despite debt levels spiraling out of control.

Mr Cameron delivered the verdict on the eurozone crisis a speech in Manchester before holding what is likely to be a tense conference with other European leaders, including Mr Hollande.

‘The eurozone is at a crossroads – it either has to make up, or it is looking at a potential break-up,’ the Prime Minister said in the speech today.

He dismissed Labour's calls for more spending - as promised by Mr Hollande - as a 'cop-out', adding: 'As prime minister, I will do whatever it takes to keep Britain safe from the storm.' Read More

Iran attack decision nears, Israeli elite locks down

(Reuters) - A private door opens from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office in central Jerusalem directly into a long, modestly furnished, half-paneled room decorated with modern paintings by Israeli artists and a copy of Israel's 1948 declaration of independence. It contains little more than a long wooden table, brown leather chairs and a single old-fashioned white projector screen.

This inner sanctum at the end of a corridor between Netanyahu's private room and the office of his top military adviser, is where one of the decade's most momentous military decisions could soon be taken: to launch an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program.

Time for that decision is fast running out and the mood in Jerusalem is hardening.

Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of international pressure, saying it needs the fuel for its civilian nuclear program. The West is convinced that Tehran's real objective is to build an atomic bomb - something which the Jewish state will never accept because its leaders consider a nuclear armed-Iran a threat to its very existence.

Adding to the international pressure, U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said this week American military plans to strike Iran were "ready" and the option was "fully available". Read More

Euro stocks slump, euro hits four-month dollar low

LONDON — Europe's main stock markets tumbled Thursday and the euro hit a new four-month dollar low as worries spiked over the eurozone debt crisis that is plaguing Greece and now circling Spain.

In afternoon deals, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dropped 0.92 percent to 5,355.57 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 slid 0.45 percent to 6,355.84 points.

In Paris, the CAC 40 shed 0.92 percent to 3,020.55, while Milan's FTSE Mib tumbled 1.44 percent and Madrid's IBEX 35 slumped 1.39 percent.

In foreign exchange deals, the European single currency nosedived to a new four-month low at $1.2667. It later recovered to $1.2696, still down from $1.2715 late in New York on Wednesday.

"Markets are worried about eurozone bank deposit runs and an escalating banking crisis," VTB Capital economist Neil MacKinnon told AFP.

Shares in Spain's state-rescued lender Bankia plunged Thursday on the back of newspaper reports that clients had withdrawn more than one billion euros in the past week, while Greeks have also reportedly stepped up pulling funds out of their banks.

Spain's daily newspaper El Mundo reported that Bankia managers told the board the bank had lost a "similar amount" of deposits this week as the 1.16 billion euros withdrawn by clients in the first quarter of the year.

Spain's fourth-largest bank had 112 billion euros in deposits from clients at the end of the first quarter. Read More

Bank runs begin in Spain

Shares in Bankia, the Spanish bank that was part-nationalised last week, plunged by more than a quarter on Thursday morning, after a report that customers had withdrawn €1bn from the bank over the past week.

The shares fell 27 per cent in morning trade to €1.21 in an initial reaction to reports in El Mundo, a national Spanish newspaper, that customers had withdrawn the large amount, citing information from a recent board meeting.

Spain’s stock market regulator placed the shares “under auction”, a process used to allow market participants to better cope with heavy trading volumes.

The bank later issued a regulatory filing, which said the evolution of deposits in the first half of May was seasonal.

“Bankia’s depositors can be absolutely calm about the security of the savings they have in the bank,” José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, president, said yesterday to 300 executives of the bank, according to the filing.

The statement added the bank did not expect substantial changes in the deposits balance in coming days. By mid-afternoon trading, the shares had pared losses to trade 11.2 per cent lower at €1.47. more

Military activities reported near Israel-Gaza border

(CNN) -- Israeli tank fire wounded seven Palestinians in a farm field east of Gaza City on Thursday, Palestinian medical and security officials said.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces initially denied tank fire was used in an operation against suspected terrorists approaching the border fence near the Karni crossing. However, the IDF later confirmed that an initial investigation "suggests" that tank shells were fired.

Separately, Israeli forces carried out small operations in or near Gaza on Thursday morning, with officials on both sides giving conflicting accounts of events.

According to Palestinian officials, Israeli forces crossed into the town of Beit Lahiya, detaining at least a dozen Palestinians and injuring one. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed military activity at the location but described it as "routine," adding that no injuries were reported and that there was no confirmation of arrests. Read More

Schoolkids sit their exams, then flee gunfire for Rwanda refugee camp



Nkamirah Transit Camp, Rwanda (CNN) -- Tumsifu Gilaine was at school when she first heard the gun battles. The teenager said she and her friends were taking their final exams and every day from their classrooms they could hear the army and rebel soldiers battling it out for dominance.

Tumsifu and her family stuck it out until she finished the exams. Then they fled.

They followed thousands of others making their way from their homes in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo into the Nkamirah Transit Camp across the border in Rwanda.

After three years of fragile peace, the government of Joseph Kabila last month announced its intention to capture Bosco Ntaganda, a notorious warlord who calls himself "the terminator" and has been charged by the International Criminal Court with war crimes including the slaughter of civilians. Read More

Fears push up Spain borrowing costs

Spain has paid sharply higher interest rates to raise 2.5 billion euro (£2 billion) in a medium-term debt auction, reflecting fears it will be caught up in the fallout of the Greek crisis.

Meanwhile a recently nationalised Spanish bank's shares plummeted after a newspaper said depositors were rushing to withdraw money.

Investors worry that a messy Greek exit from the currency bloc could destabilise Spain's financial sector. The concern is that the banking sector might not be able to meet tough new provisioning requirements and require bailouts if concerns about their stability worsen.

The government, meanwhile, risks needing a bailout itself if it needs to rescue the banks. It is already struggling to meet deficit-reduction targets during a painful recession, with austerity measures draining money from the economy.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has warned that the country risked being frozen out of capital markets because of the sky-high interest rates, or yields, it would have to pay to maintain its debt. Read More

Sam Hallam Conviction For 2004 Murder Is Quashed

A man who spent more than seven years behind bars for a murder he maintained he did not commit has had his conviction quashed by judges.

Sam Hallam, now 24, was at the Court of Appeal in London to hear the announcement by Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Spencer that his conviction was "unsafe".

Mr Hallam, of Hoxton, east London, said: "I don't want anyone else ever to suffer what I've been through."

He was released on bail by the three judges on Wednesday after prosecutors said they were not opposing his appeal.

He sat in the public gallery with his mother Wendy Cohen as the judges gave their reasons for their decision.

The conviction was overturned in the light of fresh evidence relating to his alibi and identification.

There was applause and shouts of "justice" as the announcement was made.

Mr Hallam was 18 when he was found guilty at the Old Bailey in October 2005 of the murder of 21-year-old trainee chef Essayas Kassahun.

Mr Kassahun died after being attacked by a group of youths on the St Luke's estate in Clerkenwell, London, in October 2004. Read More

Emma Winnall: Two Held Over Horrific Attack On Pensioner

Police have arrested two people in connection with the horrific attack on 93-year-old Emma Winnall in the West Midlands.

A woman, 56, and a 28-year-old man, were arrested at their home in the Hall Green area of Birmingham just before 6.30am, on suspicion of assault.

They have been taken to a police station in the West Midlands. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 17th May 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 111.8 km (69.5 miles), the quake hit at 10:00:01 UTC Thursday 17th May 2012
The epicenter was 72 km (44 miles) East from Santo (Luganville), Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Nick Stahl Terminator Star Missing Since 9th of May as Fears grow for his safety

Police in Los Angeles are searching for Terminator 3 star Nick Stahl after his wife Rose told officers he had disappeared.

She apparently filed a missing person's report with the LAPD on Monday, saying she last saw him on May 9.

The 32-year-old actor, who played John Connor alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, is believed to have been seen in the run-down Skid Row area of downtown LA recently, according to TMZ.

The actor's representative has declined to comment on the situation. Read More

New French Government To Get 30% Pay Cut

A pay cut for ministers in France will be on the agenda when the country's new cabinet meets for the first time today - even though it is a public holiday.

Francois Hollande, who was sworn in as president on Tuesday, unveiled who would be filling the government's key posts - including Jean-Marc Ayrault as prime minister.

Mr Ayrault, a former German language teacher, has vowed to work quickly to get the country "back on its feet".

That promise includes acting promptly on a campaign pledge made by Mr Hollande - a pay cut of 30% for his ministers.

"What's essential, and that's why the cabinet will meet as soon as Thursday, is to get quickly to work to allow France to get back on its feet in a just way," Mr Ayrault said.

"This is about setting an example... I will also propose a code of conduct. Read More

Ratko Mladic War Crimes Trial halted indefinitely Over 'Errors'

The war crimes trial of Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic has been halted indefinitely after prosecution "errors".

The presiding judge said the adjournment - on day two of the hearing - was because prosecutors failed to fully disclose all their evidence to Mladic's defence team.

"The hearing is adjourned sine die," said judge Alphons Orie.

"(The court) has decided to suspend the start of the presentation of the prosecution evidence."

More follows...

Protesters dispersed from Moscow park

North Korea 'resumes work on nuclear reactor'

Euro in ER as cash & patience run out in Greece

'US talks peace while arming rebels via Gulf allies'

Assad warns countries that "sow chaos" in Syria

May 16 - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tells Russian Television that countries that ''sow chaos'' in Syria could suffer from it themselves. Deborah Lutterbeck reports

Plans to strike Iran "ready", says U.S. Israel envoy

(Reuters) - U.S. plans for a possible military strike on Iran are ready and the option is "fully available", the U.S. ambassador to Israel said, days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers which suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear arms.

Like Israel, the United States has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.

"It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force," Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel's Army Radio on Thursday.

"But that doesn't mean that option is not fully available - not just available, but it's ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready," said Shapiro, who the radio station said had spoken on Tuesday.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany have been using sanctions and negotiations to try to persuade Iran to curb its uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for reactors, medical isotopes, and, at higher levels of purification, fissile material for warheads.

New talks opened in Istanbul last month and resume on May 23 in Baghdad. Read More

Greece slides on bailout targets in political paralysis

(Reuters) - Prolonged electoral uncertainty has put Greece into a state of deep freeze, meaning whoever finally emerges as the new leader will take over a country already falling behind on its promises to lenders.

The European Union and International Monetary Fund demanded extensive cuts and reforms as part of a 130 billion euro bailout package agreed in March.

But Greece has had no elected government since an inconclusive election on May 6, and paralysis will continue for at least another month, even as funds dry up in the treasury.

Senior judge Panagiotis Pikrammenos was sworn in as interim prime minister on Wednesday, but he will not be empowered to take any political decisions - only to steer the country to a new vote on June 17.

"The only thing we are doing is waiting," said a government official who declined to be named. Read More

Solar eclipse to project 'ring of fire'

(CNN) -- Thousands of people are planning viewing parties in the western United States for Sunday's annular solar eclipse, a rare event in which the sun will appear as a thin ring behind the moon.

The eclipse will be visible on a path from northwestern Texas through New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, southern Utah, Nevada, northern California and southwestern Oregon late in the day on May 20.

As the sun continues its path, the eclipse will then be visible over the North Pacific, in southern Japan and southern China on the morning of May 21.

"I recommend anyone who has the chance to see this, because while they do happen occasionally, it's a fairly rare event," said Jeffrey Newmark, a solar physics specialist with NASA. "It's a neat thing to see."

The last annular eclipse appeared in the United States in 1994. Read More

Kodak confirms it had weapons-grade uranium in underground lab



(CNN) -- Kodak -- the company known for decades for its cameras and film -- this week confirmed it used weapons-grade uranium in an underground lab in upstate New York for upwards of 30 years.

A company spokesman and a former scientist for the firm say there was not enough material to sustain a nuclear chain reaction.

Former Kodak researcher Albert Filo said the uranium was alloyed with aluminum in plates sealed in sleeves that were not moved for three decades. The amount of fuel was about 3½ pounds, which experts say is less than one-tenth of the amount necessary to make a crude nuclear device.

The alloyed material "could not be readily converted to make a nuclear weapon," said Eastman Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda. "Disassembling the device and removing these plates was a process that took highly trained experts more than a day to perform."

But advocates for preventing nuclear proliferation say it highlights the risk that terrorists could obtain enough fuel to build a nuclear device. Read More

200-year-old shipwreck discovered in northern Gulf of Mexico

(CNN) -- A wooden ship believed to be over 200 years old was discovered during a recent exploration of the northern Gulf of Mexico, according to a press release from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Scientists were able to view the remains of "anchors, navigational instruments, glass bottles, ceramic plates, cannons, and boxes of muskets" aboard the ship, NOAA stated.

"Artifacts in and around the wreck and the hull's copper sheathing may date the vessel to the early to mid-19th century," said Jack Irion, a maritime archaeologist with the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Read More

Workers plug gas leak in North Sea after 7 Weeks

London (CNN) -- Energy giant Total said Wednesday it was able to plug a well that had been leaking gas for seven weeks at a North Sea platform.

Nearly 240 people were evacuated from the Elgin platform and an adjacent drilling rig after the leak was reported March 25, about 150 miles (240 km) east of the Scottish city of Aberdeen.

Workers Tuesday began pumping heavy mud into the Elgin platform well, plugging the leak 12 hours later, according to Total. The well will be monitored to ensure the operation was a complete success. Read More

Mary Kennedy Autopsy to Take Place today

(CNN) -- A New York medical examiner will begin an autopsy Thursday on Mary Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who was found dead at her Westchester County home. She was 52.

Her death is the latest for a family that has seen its share of tragedy.

"We know from a history of this family, it's very hard being a Kennedy, either being a blood Kennedy or being married to one," Laurence Leamer, a Kennedy biographer, said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "The overwhelming celebrity, the attention, the obligations, the expectations that you're supposed to do something with your life. It's very, very hard."

In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy Sr. was assassinated in California while making a run for the White House. His death came more than four years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, also died at the hands of an assassin. Read More

Pakistan air force jets collide in midair

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two Pakistani Air Force planes collided in midair Thursday, killing the pilots and injuring people on the ground, according to local police.

The crash occurred during a routine flying exercise near an air force base in the country's northwest, said police spokesman Mohammad Hussain.

Each plane was carrying two pilots. All four died, Hussain said.

Debris from the collision fell on the village of Rakashai, inflicting serious injuries on 11 residents, and triggered a fire, he said.

Two children were among the injured. Source

Ehud Barak on Iran and a nuclear threat

Al-Qaeda's leader is calling for the Yemeni people to rise up against the country's new president

(CNN) -- Al-Qaeda's leader is calling for the Yemeni people to rise up against the country's new president, portraying him as the stooge of the unpopular former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the United States.

"So, Ali Abdallah Saleh is gone, and his successor Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has taken over," al Qaeda's chief commander Ayman al-Zawahiri says in a video posted this week on jihadist forums.

The message -- "Yemen between a Departing Agent and a Deputy Agent" -- protrays both men as agents of the U.S. government.

Saleh relinquished power after an extended popular uprising, in a transition agreement that was supported by the United States. But because Hadi was Saleh's vice president, al-Qaeda has exploited the connection to stir resentment against the new government.

The video also plays up the U.S. angle. A web banner linking to the video shows Saleh then adds Hadi and uses graphics to dress up Yemen's new president in an Uncle Sam suit. Read More

7 dead in attack on Afghan governor

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Suicide attackers with explosives stormed a governor's compound in southwestern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing themselves and seven people, officials said.

The attack took place at the compound of the provincial governor of Farah, said Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, a regional police spokesman.

The governor and the deputy governor were unharmed, he said.

When the attackers raided the compound, they met with resistance from police and were forced to detonate their explosives before they could reach the governor's office, Ahmadi said.

Six police officers and a civilian died in the attack. Twelve others, including three policemen, were wounded, he said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. But the Taliban is active in Farah province, which borders Iran. Read More

U.N. report: Iran shipping arms to Syria

(CNN) -- A confidential U.N. report reveals Iran is exporting arms to the Syrian government in violation of a ban on weapons sales, the same day President Bashar al-Assad blamed the violence in his country on the work of foreign-backed fighters.

The draft report describes three seizures of Iranian weapons shipments, including two bound for Syria, within the last year, a Western diplomat told CNN on Wednesday on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to release details to the media.

The report was drafted by a panel of experts and submitted to the U.N. Security Council's committee that monitors sanctions against Iran, the official said. Read More

High stakes: Preparing for 'Grexit'

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE - 17th May 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Dodecanese Islands, Greece at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 09:41:58 UTC Thursday 17th May 2012
The epicenter was 39 km (24.2 miles) Northwest of Kárpathos, Dhodhekanisos, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

'Superflare' on sun could cause power outages on Earth: researchers

A "superflare" that would cause widespread disruptions on Earth such as power outages could occur on the sun, a group of researchers has determined using satellite data.

The group, including Kyoto University professor Kazunari Shibata, defines a superflare as a solar flare that releases 100 to 1,000 times the energy of the largest solar flares known on the Sun. Researchers examined 2009 data from the United States' planetary exploration satellite Keplar on changes in the brightness of around 83,000 stars. They confirmed that 365 superflares had occurred on 148 stars.

Until now, it was thought that superflares would not occur without the presence of a hot gas giant near a star. As the sun does not have such a star near it, it was thought that superflares would not occur on the sun. However, for the 148 stars confirmed to have had superflares, none had hot gas giants near them.

Professor Kazunari Shibata of Kyoto University, part of the research group, said, "It can no longer be said that superflares will not occur at all on the sun." Read More

Syrian Opposition Faces Fractures, Infighting

A key activist group threatened Thursday to withdraw from Syria's main opposition umbrella grouping, saying the council has drifted away from the spirit of the Syrian revolution.

A pullout by the Local Coordination Committees from the Syrian National Council would be a blow for the group, which is already facing political and organizational challenges in its quest to oust President Bashar Assad.

And if the SNC continues to deteriorate, it could complicate efforts for the West and others to get behind the opposition.

Fifteen months into the uprising, Syria's opposition is still struggling to overcome infighting and inexperience, preventing the movement from gaining the traction it needs to present a credible alternative to Assad. Its international backers have repeatedly appealed for the movement to pull together and work as one unit. Read More