Friday, May 18, 2012

Supervolcano Campi Flegrei caldera Drilling Plan Gets Go-Ahead

ROME—A project to drill deep into the heart of a “supervolcano” in southern Italy has finally received the green light, despite claims that the drilling would put the population of Naples at risk of small earthquakes or an explosion. Yesterday, Italian news agency ANSA quoted project coordinator Giuseppe De Natale of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology as saying that the office of Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris has approved the drilling of a pilot hole 500 meters deep.

The Campi Flegrei Deep Drilling Project was set up by an international collaboration of scientists to assess the risks posed by the Campi Flegrei caldera, a geological formation just a few kilometers to the west of Naples that formed over thousands of years following the collapse of several volcanoes. Researchers believe that if it erupted, Campi Flegrei could have global repercussions, potentially killing millions of people and having a major effect on the climate, but that such massive eruptions are extremely rare.

The project’s organizers originally intended to bore a 4-kilometer-deep well in the area of the caldera late in 2009, but the plan was put on hold by then-mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino after scientists expressed concerns about the risks. Read More

Facebook hit with $15bn privacy lawsuit ahead of stock market debut

Facebook has been hit with a class-action lawsuit over privacy, just hours before the social network is due to make its $104bn Wall Street debut.

The company is being sued for $15bn - almost as much as the $16bn raised in its record breaking initial public offering - for tracking users against their wishes, even after they have logged out of their Facebook accounts.

The lawsuit, filed today in a Federal Court in San Jose, California, combines 21 separate cases across the US and could have far-reaching ramifications for the social network at a critical time.

Facebook priced its flotation at $38 a share last night, valuing the company founded by 28-year old Mark Zuckerberg at $104bn. It will begin trading at 4pm today, shortly after the opening of the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York.

As a public company, Facebook will be expected to grow its advertising revenues very rapidly, putting it under considerable pressure to collect more and more user data to help it target its ads.

The company made 85pc of its $3.71bn of revenues from advertising last year but that figure appears paltry in the context of Facebook’s extraordinary reach. The social network has 900m users worldwide. Read More

Greek-German row erupts on referendum talk

(Reuters) - A Greek-German row broke out on Friday after Greece's government spokesman said Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the idea of Athens holding a referendum about its euro zone membership next month, which Berlin vehemently denied.

The confusion arose after a telephone call earlier on Friday between Merkel and Greek President Karolos Papoulias, in which Merkel conveyed her hope for a functioning government in Greece after repeat elections on June 17.

Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras said after the call that Merkel also raised the idea of a referendum. "(Merkel) relayed to the President thoughts about holding a referendum in parallel with the elections on the question whether Greek citizens wish to remain in the euro zone."

A German government spokesman rejected the idea that Merkel had proposed a referendum. "This is false and we completely dismiss this," the spokesman said. Read More

Anti-gay protesters attack activists in Russia

May 18 - Several gay activists are injured as anti-gay protesters attack them after a gay rights demonstration in Russia's second city, St Petersburg. Sunita Rappai reports.

Mass Protests in Aleppo

Greek Banks Downgraded Amid Markets Woe



Rating agency Fitch has downgraded five Greek banks, as the FTSE 100 takes a hit over expanding eurozone uncertainty.

The banks, including the National Bank of Greece, have been dropped from 'B-' to 'CCC' - matching the downgrade of state-guaranteed issues on May 17.

The uncertainty in Greece and expanding fears in the Spanish bank sector hammered world stock markets in Friday's trading. A total of 16 Spanish banks were also downgraded.

In London, the FTSE 100 lost 1.3% or 70 points to close at 5267- meaning it had suffered five consecutive days of falls.

Part-nationalised banks Lloyds and RBS, were the biggest losers, dropping 6.15% and 5%, respectively. Read More

John Fiala a 'Evil' ex-priest who plotted murder of teen who accused him of rape at gunpoint is jailed for life

A former Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a boy at gunpoint and then hiring a hitman to kill him has been given life imprisonment.

John Fiala met with the alleged hit man in November 2010 and offered to pay him $5,000 to murder the youth, instructing him to 'chop his head off'.

The allegations of abuse were made by a 16-year-old boy in April 2010.

The teen alleges that the abuse took place during private catechism classes at the Sacred Heart church, Rocksprings, where Fiala was an administrator, and in a hotel room in 2007 and 2008.

Scottie Fisher, Fiala's neighbour, told the jury that his brother had been approached by Fiala to do the killing.

Mr Fisher had first alerted Sheriff Don Letsinger of Edwards County to the accused claiming that the ex-priest was talking about killing a young man.

The sheriff called Fiala 'an evil man'. Read More

Is this the biggest Chinese rip-off ever? People's Republic unveils stealth fighter... but it looks remarkably similar to U.S. jet

Flying over the skies of Chengdu in southwest China, the Chinese's latest stealth plane - the J-20 Might Dragon - is a testament to China's growing prowess in military technology.

The debut flight of the plane may serve as a warning to the U.S. air force, which has been plagued by a list of problems in their jets - including the revelation that some of their jets have a faulty oxygen system which have slowly been poisoning their pilots.

Sightings of the black plane taking off have again led to claims that the plane was developed off the back of stolen U.S. or Russian plans, a claim strongly denied by China.

Wired claims that the current batch of U.S. fighter jets are struggling due to labour disputes, cost over-runs, and lethal design flaws.

First off, the U.S.'s Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor - the latest stealth fighter which cost $66.7 billion to develop - have been poisoning its pilots owing to a faulty oxygen system. Meanwhile, workers at Lockheed’s F-35 factory have gone on strike, with no end in sight. Read More

Thai police arrest man with suitcase full of gold plated babies set to be used in black magic ritual

A British man was arrested today with a suitcase full of dead babies thought to have been used in a black magic rituals in Thailand.

Chow Hok Kuen, 28, a British citizen born in Hong Kong of Taiwanese parents, was arrested in Bangkok's Chinatown and was being held for possession of human remains, police said.

It is thought he was trying to smuggle the corpses into Taiwan.

'The bodies are of children between the ages of two and seven months. Some were found covered in gold leaf,' Wiwat Kumchumnan, sub-division chief of the police's Children and Women Protection unit, said.

It was not clear where the bodies came from.

Police said the corpses had a number of religious threads and tattoos on them.

In Thailand there is a grisly ritual known as 'Kuman Thong', where dead babies are surgically removed from their mother's womb and undergo a ceremonial ritual. Read More

Vince Li allowed to leave mental hospital for a stroll, just four years after he beheaded and ate sleeping bus passenger in Canada

A man who beheaded and cannibalized a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Canada four years ago won his bid to leave the grounds of the mental hospital where he has been kept, a criminal review board ruled on Thursday.

The Criminal Code review board said Vince Li's treatment team may grant him short escorted trips into Selkirk, Manitoba. The review board said the passes will start at 30 minutes and increase incrementally to a maximum of full days.

Li, 44, was found not criminally responsible for the July 2008 death of 22-year-old Tim McLean, a carnival worker who was sitting next to Li on a bus. Read More

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN BARAT DAYA, INDONESIA - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Barat Daya, Indonesia at a depth of 67.6 km (42 miles), the quake hit at 17:38:23 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 273 km (170 miles) ENE from DILI, East Timor
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

'Bailed out but not burned out or booted out': How taxpayer-backed Lloyds sent top bosses to luxury celebrity spa for anti-aging tips

Bankers at bailed-out Lloyds relaxed from the strains of Britain's worst economic downturn for a century by escaping to a luxury spa.

A dozen senior executives were sent on breaks at Champneys to show them how to be better 'hunter-gatherers in the corporate jungle', it emerged today.

The resort, more commonly associated with Premier League footballers and celebrities, created a 'bespoke programme' to protect the bosses from 'bail out, burn out or being booted out'.

The executives were advised on the latest techniques used in 'physique management', the skills needed to be 'alpha males and females' and even anti-ageing methods.

It is unknown how much the break at Champneys' Tring resort in Hertfordshire cost, but comparable stays start at £995 per person.

The shocking revelations will outrage millions of hardworking Britons, who learnt the grim news this week that the UK has plunged into the first double-dip recession since 1975. Read More

Two British 'terrorists' killed in Syrian conflict

Two British citizens have been killed in the uprising in Syria, according to Syria's UN envoy.

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he thought al Qaeda was behind two deadly suicide car bombs which killed at least 55 people, UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari has reportedly told Mr Ban that ten foreigners are among the dead in the ongoing conflict.

The Times named the two - who Mr Jaafari claimed in the leaked letter were 'engaged in terrorist activity' - as Hassan Blidi and Walid Hassan, who are both believed to be of Algerian origin.

The letter said the ten died 'while engaging in terrorist armed operations against the Syrian Army'. The letter also included citizens from France, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt, who apparently entered the stricken country illegally and were killed in the flashpoints of Idlib and Homs. Read More

Isabel Taylor, 16, hanged herself after becoming convinced the world would end in 2012 after researching doomsday scenarios on the internet

Schoolgirl Isabel Taylor, 16, turned to Buddhism after becoming fed up with the 'complications and injustice' of the modern world.

But while searching for answers she began researching doomsday scenarios - becoming convinced a nuclear reactor meltdown would end civilisation in the coming months.

She had researched on the internet how to overdose but was found hanged in her bedroom by her mother.

Yesterday her parents Gary, 51, and Ingrid, 48, said in a statement: 'We have questioned and searched our hearts to try to find an answer to why Isabel went down this devastating path.

'She yearned for an uncomplicated and perfect world where every living thing would be valued and at peace.

'But the simple and perfect world she sought, where all living things would be treated with compassion and equality, was never going to materialise. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake CELEBES SEA - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Celebes Sea at a depth of 539.1 km (335 miles), the quake hit at 17:06:05 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 289 km (179 miles) Northwest from Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Sundee Spaulding a criminal with 100 theft offences walks free AGAIN after judge fails to enact suspended prison sentence

A career criminal with more than 100 offences has again walked free from court, despite getting a 'last chance' from the same judge two years ago.

Judge Carol Hagen decided it was ‘not in the interests of justice’ to enact the suspended sentence drug addict Sundee Spaulding had been serving during her shoplifting spree.

The mother-of-one, 25, already has 33 convictions for more than 100 theft-related and dishonesty crimes.

But Judge Hagen gave her one ‘final chance’ and let her walk free – even though she had broken her supposed ‘last chance’ given after her last conviction.

She told Spaulding: ‘You present me with a real problem Sundee Spaulding. You commit offence after offence and always there is some excuse on your part.

‘The question for me is do I send you to prison or not. I am persuaded that it is in the interests of justice that I do not activate that suspended sentence.

‘It seems to me to offer the best chance at this point in time to dissuade you from committing further criminal offences.

‘I’m giving you a final chance. If any of these conditions I impose are breached you are going to prison for 12 months. Read More

Alwyn Kelly dies after she contracts 'undetectable' food poisoning from home-made fish pie but husband survives

A woman was killed by her home-made fish pie when she contracted a lethal and 'undetectable' bout of food poisoning - which her husband survived.

Both Alwyn and Frank Kelly were left with upset stomachs after eating the pie but her symptoms worsened while he made a full recovery.

Mrs Kelly, 66, eventually died three weeks later of multiple organ failure, an inquest heard.

Gloucester Coroner's Court was told how she had made the pie herself on July 8 last year with fresh ingredients and the couple ate it that same day. Read More

Bomb disposal experts have been called to a property in a fishing town in Aberdeenshire.

A member of the public raised the alarm on Friday afternoon and police are currently evacuating residents from the Low Shore area of Banff.

A spokesman for Grampian Police said: “Grampian Police can confirm that officers are attending at an address in the Low Shore area of Banff following concerns raised by a member of the public.

“Officers have been carrying out investigations at the scene and have called in the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) as a precaution, following the discovery of materials.

“There have been no injuries as a result of this incident, however, Grampian Police is now carrying out a controlled evacuation of the surrounding area as a precautionary measure to ensure the continued safety of the wider public.” Read More

Merkel 'suggests Greek referendum on euro membership'

German leader Angela Merkel has suggested that Greece could hold a referendum on continued use of the euro when it votes in national elections next month, Greek officials say.

A Greek government spokesman said Chancellor Merkel had broached the subject during a phone call with the Greek president on Friday.

The news came as US and French leaders held talks in Washington focusing on the economy.

The meeting came ahead of a G8 summit.

The crisis in the eurozone is expected to dominate talks at the US president's Camp David retreat this weekend. Read More

Chinese entities world's biggest economic spies-Pentagon

(Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Friday it believes China spent up to $180 billion on its military buildup last year, a far higher figure than acknowledged by Beijing, and it accused "Chinese actors" of being the world's biggest perpetrators of economic espionage.

The Pentagon, in its annual report to Congress on China's military, flagged sustained investment last year in advanced missile technologies and cyber warfare capabilities and warned that Chinese spying threatened America's economic security.

"Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage," the report said.

"Chinese attempts to collect U.S. technological and economic information will continue at a high level and will represent a growing and persistent threat to U.S. economic security."

David Helvey, acting assistant secretary for defense, stopped short of saying the Chinese government was behind cyber intrusions, and instead repeated that they were "from China." Read More

Collapsing Euro, Nigel Farage vs Denis MacShane (18May12)

China cries foul after U.S. sets solar panel tariffs

(Reuters) - The United States imposed punitive tariffs on solar panel imports from China, the latest in a series of trade disputes between the world's two biggest economies and sparking accusations by Beijing of protectionism.

The new tariffs of around 30 percent, much bigger than had been expected, were set on Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department after it ruled in favor of local firms which said Chinese exporters were dumping cut-price panels on their market.

The size of the tariffs is larger than Chinese companies had expected and some analysts said it might prompt them to manufacture elsewhere or look for alternative markets. Read More

Did White House "spin" tip a covert operation?

(Reuters) - White House efforts to soft-pedal the danger from a new "underwear bomb" plot emanating from Yemen may have inadvertently broken the news they needed most to contain.

At about 5:45 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 7, just before the evening newscasts, John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top White House adviser on counter-terrorism, held a small, private teleconference to brief former counter-terrorism advisers who have become frequent commentators on TV news shows.

According to five people familiar with the call, Brennan stressed that the plot was never a threat to the U.S. public or air safety because Washington had "inside control" over it.

Brennan's comment appears unintentionally to have helped lead to disclosure of the secret at the heart of a joint U.S.-British-Saudi undercover counter-terrorism operation. Read More

EU, ECB working on Greece exit contingency: trade commissioner

(Reuters) - The European Commission and the European Central Bank are working on scenarios in case Greece has to leave the euro zone, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht has said.

Speculation about such planning has been rife, but the comments in a newspaper interview, confirmed by a person close to De Gucht, appear to be the first time an EU official has acknowledged the existence of contingency plans being drawn up in case Greece has to drop out of the currency bloc.

"A year and a half ago there maybe was a risk of a domino effect," De Gucht told Belgium's Dutch-language newspaper De Standaard, referring to the threat of Greece leaving the euro.

"But today there are in the European Central Bank, as well as in the Commission, services working on emergency scenarios if Greece shouldn't make it."

He added: "A Greek exit does not mean the end of the euro, as some claim." Read More

Iran may seek "tactical gain" with U.N. nuclear deal

(Reuters) - Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog are making headway towards a framework deal on how to tackle concerns about its atomic activity, diplomats say, a potential bargaining chip for Tehran in next week's negotiations with world powers.

Iran says such an agreement is needed before it can consider a request by U.N. inspectors to visit the Parchin military site where they believe explosives tests relevant for developing nuclear weapons may have been carried out.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran held talks this week in Vienna and are due to meet again on May 21, two days before Tehran and the six global powers discuss the future of its disputed nuclear program in Baghdad.

Western diplomats accredited to the U.N. agency said Iran seemed keen to agree a so-called "structured approach" - an outline of how to address the IAEA's questions - ahead of Baghdad in the apparent hope of gaining leverage there.

They say they would welcome any sign that Iran is prepared to stop four years of stonewalling an IAEA investigation based on Western intelligence suggesting the Islamic state has researched ways to acquire the ability to produce nuclear bombs. Read More

Rare Calico lobster is now at a Rhode Island aquarium after being rescued from a Massachusetts restaurant

Blackface 2nd Grader Dresses as Martin Luther King Jr for Class Project Stirs Controversy

James D. Willie Arrested in Mississippi highway slayings

(CNN) -- The suspect in the shooting deaths of two motorists in Mississippi will be charged with capital murder Friday, a police spokesman said.

Police arrested James D. Willie, 28, of Sardis, Mississippi, after tests concluded that a gun he had was used to kill two people along roadways in the northwestern part of the state, according to a statement from the sheriff's office in Tunica County, near the Arkansas and Tennessee state lines.

The killings stirred panic and fear for drivers across the state.

Willie is "no stranger to law enforcement" and will make an initial appearance before a judge in the next day or so, Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Warren Strain said.

Formal capital murder charges are forthcoming, he said. Read More

Does Spain deserve market bashing?

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake AZERBAIJAN - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Azerbaijan at a depth of 21.7 km (13.5 miles), the quake hit at 14:46:37 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 14 km (8 miles) ESE of Zaqatala (Zakataly), Azerbaijan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Purbeck Isle Fishermen Missing Off Dorset Coast



A major search operation is continuing for three missing fishermen, as attempts to identify an object seen on the sea bed get underway.

Rescue agencies are involved in the hunt for the missing vessel and its three crew members, which was reported missing on Thursday evening after it failed to return from a trip off the Dorset coast.

The Weymouth-based fishing boat, named the Purbeck Isle, cannot be contacted, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said, and attempts are underway to identify an object on the sea bed.

"A coastguard rescue helicopter is currently undertaking a search of sea surface area, along with an RNLI lifeboat," Fiona Warren, a MCA spokeswoman, said.

"There is an object on the sea bed that has not been chartered and both agencies are working closely with a survey vessel that has offered assistance.

"It is attempting to provide sonar images of the object to help identify it and discover whether it could be the Purbeck Isle boat," she said.

Dorset police is continuing to support the families involved, she added. Read More

Kara Hurring the 'Accidental Millionaire' is found guilty of 30 counts at Rotorua District Court, New Zealand

A New Zealand woman who went on the run after a bank mistakenly deposited millions of dollars into her partner's account has been convicted of theft, dishonesty and money laundering.

"Runaway millionaire" Kara Hurring disappeared when $10m (£4.89m) was paid into partner Hui 'Leo' Gao's account by Westpac Bank in April 2009 after he requested a $100,000 (£48,000) overdraft.

The error was discovered within days but by then $6.78m (£3.26m) had already been transferred into other accounts and the couple had fled the country for China.

The pair were running a petrol station in the tourist destination of Rotorua at the time and were dubbed the "Accidental Millionaires" in the global media.

Hurring was arrested after she returned voluntarily to New Zealand in February last year. Read More

Baroness Warsi Slams 'White Fair Game' Muslim Views



Britain's most senior Muslim politician has claimed white women are sexual abuse targets for "a small minority" of Pakistani men.

Cabinet minister Baroness Warsi's comments come after nine Muslim men in Rochdale were jailed for plying white girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs so they could "pass them around" and use them for sex.

Lady Warsi, the Conservative Party co-chairman, told the London Evening Standard: "There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game.

"And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first.

"This small minority who see women as second-class citizens, and white women probably as third-class citizens, are to be spoken out against." Read More

Nigel Farage the only British Politician with a Back bone fighting for our Country



Note: Not 2 years ago Nigel Farage was shouted down, now he is being Applauded and his views are exactly the same as they were two years ago.

Why is he Not Prime Minister?

UKIP Nigel Farage Insults EU President with nothing But the TRUTH - 27th Feb 2010

HOAX: Surveillance Drone Spotted Near Chicago For NATO Summit



Reasons why this is most likely a hoax:

-- Software/edited, vs actual human/camera pans
-- Drones don't make jet engine sounds
-- Very short clip for something so important
-- Only video of its kind: why didn't anyone else film it?
-- Drone carrying hellfire missile, a bit too obvious
-- Likely a flyover clip from Afghanistan / Middle East layered over regular video
-- Drone flying way too low
-- Voice reaction doesn't match seeing a missile carrying drone right above

Europe thinks the unthinkable on Greece

(Reuters) - European officials are working on contingency plans in case Greece bombs out of the euro zone, the EU's trade commissioner said on Friday, while Berlin said it was prepared for all eventualities.

European shares were on course for their steepest weekly decline since November and are now in the red for the year, spooked by the prospect of a Greek euro exit sparking a wave of contagion in the currency bloc which could engulf much larger economies such as Spain's.

Policymakers insist they want Greece to remain in the euro zone but European Union trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said the European Commission and the European Central Bank were working on scenarios in case it has to leave.

"A year and a half ago there maybe was a risk of a domino effect," De Gucht told Belgium's Dutch-language newspaper De Standaard, in comments confirmed by a person close to him.

"But today there are in the European Central Bank, as well as in the Commission, services working on emergency scenarios if Greece shouldn't make it. A Greek exit does not mean the end of the euro, as some claim." Read More

Chow Hok Kuen Arrested after SIX Babies' Bodies are Found In Luggage

A British citizen has been arrested in Thailand after the bodies of six babies thought to have been used in a black magic ritual were found in luggage in a Bangkok hotel room.

Chow Hok Kuen, who was born in Hong Kong of Taiwanese parents, was detained in the city's Chinatown area and is being held for possession of human remains, police said.

He faces one year in prison and a 2,000 baht (£40) fine if he is found guilty.

Authorities believe the 28-year-old was trying to smuggle the bodies to Taiwan. It was not clear where they came from.

Wiwat Kumchumnan, of Bangkok police, told reporters the suspect planned to sell the remains to clients who believed they would become "lucky and rich".

"The bodies are of children between the ages of two and seven months," he said. "Some were found covered in gold leaf." Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake SALTA, ARGENTINA - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Salta, Argentina at a depth of 131.7 km (81.8 miles), the quake hit at 13:29:57 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 68 km (42 miles) West of San Antonio de los Cobres, Salta, Argentina
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN ALGERIA - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Northern Algeria at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:12:12 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 26 km (16.2 miles) Southwest of Aflu, Nigeria
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Hindu Kush Region, Afghanistan at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 12:45:53 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 38 km (23 miles) East of KABUL, Afghanistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Kuril Islands at a depth of 82.3 km (51.1 miles), the quake hit at 11:46:26 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 92 km (57 miles) South of Severo-Kuril'sk, Kuril Islands, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 47.1 km (29.3 miles), the quake hit at 11:21:34 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 64 km (39 miles) SSE of Mito, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Kamchatka, Russia at a depth of 57.4 km (35.7 miles), the quake hit at 11:17:51 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 132 km (82 miles) Southeast of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake AZERBAIJAN - 18th May 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Azerbaijanat a depth of 9.7 km (6 miles), the quake hit at 10:04:09 UTC Friday 18th May 2012
The epicenter was 55 km (54 miles) Southeast of Zaqatala (Zakataly), Azerbaijan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Moscows military exercise plan worries Georgia

Saudi troops in Bahrain a warning to Iran?

Syria unrest hits border trade with Turkey

Anti-war protesters march at Obama campaign headquarters

(Reuters) - A small group of anti-war demonstrators staged a peaceful "die in" on Thursday at President Barack Obama's election campaign headquarters in Chicago to demand an end to the war in Afghanistan and unmanned drone aircraft attacks overseas.

Despite calling ahead, some of the roughly 50 protesters said they were unable to deliver a letter to the Obama campaign calling for the United States to leave NATO and its "violent mission of protecting the 1 percent in the global economy who represent 99 percent of corporate wealth in the world."

The 99 percent slogan has been the signature of the anti-Wall Street Occupy movement, which says 1 percent of the population holds too much economic wealth.

The Obama campaign did not respond to requests for comment about the protest. It was the second small protest at Obama's campaign headquarters this week in the run-up to the two-day NATO summit starting on Sunday in Chicago. Read More

Senate Republicans block new Iran sanctions

(Reuters) - Senate Republicans blocked legislation for new economic sanctions on Iran's oil sector on Thursday saying they needed more time to study the bill, a surprise move that drew anger from Democrats who wanted approval ahead of nuclear talks next week.

"I feel I've been jerked around," Democratic leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor after Republicans said they could not immediately approve the bill.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said his staff did not receive a draft of the bill until late on Wednesday night, and needed more time to make sure it was as strong as possible.

"I don't think there is anything to be outraged about," he told Reid on the floor. "Why don't we get to work - work out the differences - and pass the resolution?"

Iran sanctions are politically popular and draw broad support from both sides of the political spectrum. The delay on the bill is one of many examples of partisan sniping that has stalled work in Congress ahead of November's presidential and congressional elections.

Senators from both parties said they still expect the sanctions will pass, although the timeline was not immediately clear. Read More

U.N. probes North Korea arms trade with Syria

(Reuters) - A U.N. panel of experts that monitors compliance with sanctions on North Korea is investigating reports of possible weapons-related deals between Pyongyang and Syria and Myanmar, the panel said in a confidential report seen by Reuters on Thursday.

"The DPRK (North Korea) continues actively to defy the measures in the (U.N. sanctions) resolutions," the panel said in the report, which it submitted to the U.N. Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee earlier this week.

"Member states did not report to the committee any violations involving transfer of nuclear, other (weapons of mass-destruction)-related or ballistic missile items," it said. "But they did report several other violations including illicit sales of arms and related materiel and luxury goods."

U.N. panel of experts' sanctions reports are highly sensitive. China, which is named in the report as a transit hub for illicit North Korean arms-related breaches, has prevented the 15-nation Security Council from publishing past reports and may do so with the latest one, U.N. envoys have told Reuters. Read More

China "bars" blind dissident's family choice of lawyers

(Reuters) - The nephew of blind activist Chen Guangcheng has been denied his family's choice of lawyers to defend a charge of "intentional homicide" in what one said was an attempt to manipulate a case that has focused world attention on China's human rights.

The decision by police in Yinan in northeastern Shandong province is the latest in a series of moves to deny Chen Kegui legal representation and underscores the hardline stance taken against the family of Chen Guangcheng.

Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest last month and subsequent refuge in the U.S. embassy caused huge embarrassment for China and led to a diplomatic crisis in Sino-U.S. relations.

The ruling Communist Party has always been wary of lawyers, who officials suspect could challenge its power through their advocacy of the rule of law. Authorities have frequently sought to prevent lawyers from taking up politically sensitive cases by suspending their licenses or threatening them. Read More

Lai Changxing a Chinese tycoon jailed for Life for smuggling and Bribery

(CNN) -- A Chinese court on Friday sentenced Lai Changxing, a tycoon who spent more than a decade as a fugitive in Canada, to life in prison for smuggling and bribery, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Lai, 53, was sentenced by a court in the southeastern port city of Xiamen in Fujian Province, where the Chinese authorities say he ran a multi-billion dollar smuggling operation in the late 1990s.

Born into a peasant family, Lai received little in the way of education. He nonetheless rose to become one of China's richest and most flamboyant businessmen.

His company's interests included products as varied as cigarettes, cars, luxury goods and oil. Read More

Al Qaeda: Rise against Yemen president

(CNN) -- Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged people in Saudi Arabia to follow the example set by popular revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and rise up.

"Why don't you rise up, for you are the sons of the strong and proud tribes that look down upon death in order to lift up humiliation and oppression? Are you afraid of the forces of the Saudi regime and its security and army?" al-Zawahiri said in a video posted Thursday on jihadist forums, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

It's the latest video message from al-Zawahiri, who took over as leader of the terror network after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. In recent days, al-Zawahiri has made a similar call on the people of Yemen, saying the government was a puppet of the United States.

In the 6-minute, 19-second video, al-Zawahiri called on the people of Saudi Arabia to overthrow their rulers, saying they committed criminal and un-Islamic activities, said SITE, an organization that tracks the online activity of terror groups.

Al-Zawahiri questioned how people could watch the Arab Spring revolutions and do nothing. Read More

Baghdad pet market Explosion kills five and wounds at least 31

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Three roadside bombs exploded Friday in quick succession at an outdoor pet market in Baghdad, killing five people and wounding 31 others, police officials said.

The bombings took place at a market where young men buy and sell pigeons in Husseiniya, a poor Shiite neighborhood in southeastern Baghdad. This type of market, popular in less affluent neighborhoods, tends to be very busy on Fridays.

In February 2008, 99 people were killed by bomb attacks at two other pet markets in Baghdad.

Daily violence has dropped drastically across Iraq since 2008, but sporadic attacks continue. Read More

U.N.: Observers dampen Syria violence


(CNN) -- Syrian forces opened fire Friday on anti-government demonstrators in Aleppo, the opposition claimed, a day after thousands purportedly took to the streets calling for an end to the regime in a city widely considered a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad.

Security forces were attempting to break up a demonstration that began after dawn prayers in the mixed, upper middle class city in northern Syria, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition network that counts casualties and organizes anti-government protests.

While there have been a number of demonstrations in Aleppo since the Syrian uprising began, the number of people publicly calling for al-Assad's ouster has increased significantly. It culminated this week with thousands of predominantly university students demonstrating, according to opposition groups, who posted videos of the protest outside Aleppo University on YouTube. Read More

Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks positive amid global market rout

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has talked up Australia's strong economic fundamentals after concerns over Europe caused a rout in global sharemarkets and sent the Australian dollar to a six-month low.

Some $35 billion was wiped off local shares on Friday when the market fell almost three per cent.

Investors were rattled when credit agency Fitch Ratings cut Greece's sovereign debt rating to a low-ranking CCC and warned there was a "heightened risk" the country would be forced out of security of the euro zone.

Despite global market volatility, the prime minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan said Australians could be confident. Read More

Boys avoid detention after sex attacks...Yep Soft Justice has arrived in Australia as well

Two boys who admitted sexually assaulting women in Perth's southern suburbs last year have avoided detention.

The boys, who cannot be named, were aged 11 and 13 years when they and two others attacked six women near the Murdoch train station and at a shopping centre in March last year.

The boys were today sentenced to conditional release orders of eight and six months and have been ordered to undergo counselling.

The District Court judge said the offences were extremely serious and had the boys not already spent time in detention awaiting trial, it is likely they would have been sentenced to another period of detention today. Source

Shares dive as spooked investors run for cover

The Australian share market has hit a six-month low, wiping $32 billion off the All Ordinaries Index, as investors headed for the exits amid fears about the ongoing instability in the eurozone.

Investors are following their overseas counterparts and pulling out of the share market, with the benchmark ASX 200 index losing 2.7 per cent to 4,047 and the broader All Ordinaries giving up 2.6 per cent to close at 4,099.

After a relatively flat close yesterday, investors hit the sell button at the start of trade, and Patersons Securities analyst Marcus Padley says there was nowhere to hide today.

"One of our advisors got asked by a client this morning what they should be buying, and she said 'the only thing I'll be buying you today is lunch'," Mr Padley said.

A Greek exit of the eurozone appears increasingly likely as the country lurches towards a new round of elections in mid-June, and the country was further downgraded overnight, this time by Fitch Ratings, from B- to CCC.

Eyes also are on Spain amid concerns about the health of the country's banks. Read More