Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jacob Zuma 'The Spear' painting defaced ahead of court action

A controversial painting showing South African president Jacob Zuma in Soviet revolutionary pose and with his genitals on display has been defaced with black paint at a gallery in Johannesburg.

Two men, one white, one black, gained entry to the prestigious Goodman Gallery, which had increased security in the wake of threats from Mr Zuma's supporters, and launched the attack in full view of television cameras and other visitors.

The attack came as the ANC went to court in a bid to get the painting, by local artist Brett Murray, removed from the gallery's display, part of an exhibition titled Hail to the Thief. The ANC had appealed to supporters to rally at the court to "defend the dignity" of their president. Read More

FOREX-Euro nears 21-month low on Greek worries; Aussie falls

SINGAPORE, May 23 (Reuters) - The euro edged ever closer to hitting a 21-month low on Wednesday while the safe haven dollar reached a 20-month peak against a basket of currencies on fears of a messy Greek exit from the euro zone.

The euro dipped to as low as around $1.2643, just barely above last week's trough of $1.2642 and not far from its 2012 low of $1.2624 set in January. A drop below the January low would take the euro to its lowest level since August 2010.

The euro's drop had accelerated the previous day after Dow Jones quoted former prime minister Lucas Papademos as saying Greece had no choice but to stick with a painful austerity program or face a damaging exit from the euro zone, a risk he said was unlikely to materialize but was real.

"The (Papademos) comments were like very strong poison, and the market got flung around by them," said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore. Read More

Syria rebels kidnap 13 Lebanese Shi'ites...Hmm Thought the Rebels were Protecting Civilians in Syria?

(Reuters) - Syrian rebels kidnapped 13 Lebanese Shi'ites in the northern province of Aleppo on Tuesday as they returned home from a pilgrimage, triggering protests in Beirut in the latest unrest to spill over from Syria's 14-month-old uprising.

The abductions follow street fighting in the Lebanese capital sparked by the killing of a Lebanese Sunni Muslim cleric opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - the worst clashes in Beirut since 2008 sectarian fighting that brought back memories of Lebanon's 15-year civil war.

The kidnappings also underscored how far Syria is from finding a way out of the chaos and bloodshed that has marked the uprising against Assad, which a U.N. peace plan hopes to resolve through talks based on a ceasefire that has yet to take hold.

Families of the kidnapped men blocked roads including the airport highway in the Shi'ite Muslim southern suburbs of Beirut - a stronghold of the Hezbollah political movement and guerrillas who are Syria's allies - to demand their release.

"The Free Syrian Army (FSA) said they took them. They let women go and kept the men. Read More

Iran criticizes Saudi-Bahrain union plan

(Reuters) - Iran criticized on Tuesday plans by Gulf Arab leaders to form a closer political, economic and military union to counter Shi'ite Muslim discontent in Bahrain, warning such move would "deepen the wounds" in the island state.

Gulf Arab countries held a summit in Riyadh on Monday to establish closer union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which sent troops in March last year to help squash the uprising in Manama, but failed to agree on further integration.

The meeting was also a part of a strategy by the wealthy Sunni Muslim monarchies to counter Shi'ite Muslim Iran's growing influence.

"The solution to the Bahrain crisis is to fulfill the legitimate demands of the people and any foreign intervention or non-normative plans ... will only deepen the wounds in Bahrain," Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying. Read More

Keiser Report: Countdown to Armageddon

Canada's butterfly migration is largest on record

300 million red admiral butterflies estimated from Windsor to New Brunswick

Butterflies have migrated across Eastern Canada this spring in unprecedented numbers, reflecting the warm winter throughout North America and raising alarm bells about what it might mean for other species.

"It's probably the most exciting year for butterflies that Canada has ever seen," said Jeremy Kerr, a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa.

Estimates from the field suggest there are 300 million red admiral butterflies from Windsor to New Brunswick — more than 10 times what would be seen in a typical year. Numerous other butterfly species have also arrived or appeared in greater numbers, Kerr said. Read More

Huawei: Chinese firm's Canadian contracts raise security fears

Barred by the U.S. and Australia, tech giant Huawei makes inroads in Canada

The former head of U.S. counter-espionage says the Harper government is putting North American security at risk by allowing a giant Chinese technology company to participate in major Canadian telecommunications projects.

In an exclusive interview in Washington, Michelle K. Van Cleave told CBC News the involvement of Huawei Technologies in Canadian telecom networks risks turning the information highway into a freeway for Chinese espionage against both the U.S. and Canada.

Huawei has long argued there is no evidence linking the company to the growing tidal wave of international computer hacking and other forms of espionage originating in China. Read More

High Blood Pressure Affects 1 in 3

One in three adults suffers from high blood pressure, a key cause of strokes and heart disease, according to World Health Organization figures released on Wednesday.

Canada and the United States have the fewest patients, at less than 20 percent of adults, but in poorer countries like Niger the estimated figure is closer to 50 percent, the UN body said.

While wealthier countries have seen their cases drop thanks to effective, low-cost treatment, in Africa many remain people undiagnosed and are not getting help, according to the WHO. Read More

Prisoners must be given the right to vote, EU Dictates.... Another Case of EU Telling Cameron Jump to which he Replies "How High"

The court in Strasbourg said that banning inmates from taking part in elections was a breach of their human rights.

Britain was yesterday ordered by European judges to give thousands of prisoners the vote.

The court in Strasbourg said that banning inmates from taking part in elections was a breach of their human rights.

The ruling sets the stage for a showdown with Parliament after MPs last year voted overwhelmingly to keep the ban in place.

David Cameron now faces the prospect of having to pass a law giving prisoners the vote – or risk being sued by thousands of convicts. Read More

Fighter Jets Scrambled After Implant Bomb Threat

Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a passenger plane after a French woman claimed to have a surgically implanted bomb in her body.

US Airways flight 787 was carrying 188 passengers and crew from Paris to Charlotte, North Carolina, in the US.

But two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane as it approached the US coast after the woman passed a note to a flight attendant saying she had a device sewn into her body.

The crew reported that the cockpit was secure before landing in Bangor, Maine, and taxiing to an isolated area away from the airport terminal, according to a recording of air traffic control communication with the plane.

The female passenger, described as a French citizen born in Cameroon, was removed from the aircraft and was questioned by Customs and Border Protection and taken into custody by the FBI.

The device was not identified but two doctors on the flight reportedly examined the woman and did not find any sign of recent scars.

Officials said there are no indications that the incident was connected to terrorism. Read More

Hollande To Take Stand On Eurozone Austerity

The new French president is expected to flex his political muscles at a meeting of European leaders later, as he pushes back against austerity in the eurozone.

Francois Hollande will propose a series of measures to promote growth when he meets the EU's 26 other leaders, including David Cameron, at an informal dinner organised by the European Council.

They will discuss ways to fund large-scale projects in Europe, including jointly backing bonds for specific schemes and pumping more capital into the European Investment Bank, which is the lending arm of the European Union.

But senior diplomatic sources say Mr Hollande also wants to bring more controversial proposals to the table including so-called eurobonds, jointly backed by all eurozone countries, which Germany adamantly opposes. Read More