Thursday, May 24, 2012

Asteroid Survey: NASA Says 4,700 Space Rocks 'Possibly Hazardous'

Know that space rock that wreaked havoc on the world in the 1998 action movie Armageddon? Well, that might have been fiction--but a new NASA study identifies about 4,700 “potentially hazardous” asteroids near Earth. Deja vu?

The asteroids are on astronomers’ radar because they are headed dangerously close to Earth—within five million miles—and are big enough to pass through our planet’s atmosphere and cause major damage. In the image above, the bright space rocks have diameters of more than about 330 feet (100 meters).

The study of potentially hazardous asteroids is part of NASA’s wide-field infrared survey explorer mission, or WISE for short.

"We've made a good start at finding those objects that truly represent an impact hazard to Earth," Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA's near-Earth object observation program, said in a written statement. "But we've many more to find, and it will take a concerted effort during the next couple of decades to find all of them that could do serious damage or be a mission destination in the future." Read More

Autism's Rising Rates Increasingly Blamed On Toxic Chemicals

While pregnant with her son Edgar, Melissa Wolfe followed the lead of many a cautious woman before her. She took prenatal vitamins and ate organic vegetables. She avoided dyeing her hair and using hairspray. She even went as far as to leave the kitchen whenever someone turned on the microwave.

"I was very vigilant. Perhaps a little crazy," said Wolfe, of Brentwood, N.H.

Yet Wolfe still fears that her 4-year-old's autism may have resulted from chemicals infiltrating her womb, whether components of her migraine medicine, contaminants brought home from her husband's work installing rubber flooring, or remnants of the remodeling the couple did on their house.

The remodeling "created even more chemicals that I was breathing while pregnant," she said. Wolfe also wonders if her father's exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, which the government has now blamed for his prostate cancer, might be somehow connected to her son's disability. Read More

Creatively resisting occupation

Algeria: The revolution that never was

Does 'progressive leadership' or something more complex and sinister explain why Algeria's 'Spring' never materialised?



The 'Arab Spring' of 2011 brought down autocratic governments across North Africa and the Middle East. But, despite widespread street protests that initially threatened to spark a Tunisian or Egyptian style revolt, an expected uprising in Algeria failed to materialise.

President Abdelazziz Bouteflika's regime - often accused of being one of the most repressive in the region - promised modest political reform and managed to hold onto power. Earlier this month it claimed to have delivered on these promises when parliamentary elections were held, in which the ruling National Liberation Front (or FLN) won an overwhelming majority of the votes. Although opposition groups were quick to deride the poll as a sham and to accuse the government of manipulating the results, European and American observers called the poll a step toward democracy.

So what has been going on in Algeria for the last year? Did it genuinely, as the government would claim, avoid the upheaval that swept through the rest of North Africa last year because of the Bouteflika regime's 'progressive leadership'? Or has something darker and more complex been going on - a story that opponents and human rights activists say has more to do with a wary population traumatised by the country's violent past and living in fear of its secret police? Read More

Plutonomy and the precariat: On the history of the US economy in decline

Cambridge, MA - The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development. Unprecedented, in fact. There's never been anything like it that I can think of. If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead - because victory won't come quickly - it could prove a significant moment in American history.

The fact that the Occupy movement is unprecedented is quite appropriate. After all, it's an unprecedented era and has been so since the 1970s, which marked a major turning point in American history. For centuries, since the country began, it had been a developing society, and not always in very pretty ways. That's another story, but the general progress was toward wealth, industrialisation, development and hope. There was a pretty constant expectation that it was going to go on like this. That was true even in very dark times.

I'm just old enough to remember the Great Depression. After the first few years, by the mid-1930s - although the situation was objectively much harsher than it is today - nevertheless, the spirit was quite different. There was a sense that "we're gonna get out of it", even among unemployed people, including a lot of my relatives, a sense that "it will get better". Read More

Belo Monte: Brazil's damned democracy

The Belo Monte dam project shows the government's failure to respect indigenous rights and reform energy policy.

Quito, Ecuador- It's rather ironic to find commonalities between President Rousseff's government and past Brazilian military regimes. Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is particularly emblematic of democracy's victory over dictatorship.

Not only has she consolidated democratic politics and overseen continued growth in the world's sixth largest economy, Brazil's first female head of state was once a guerrilla jailed and tortured by the military regime. She has pushed for a Truth Commission, forcing the military to bend to accountability and transparency.

Simultaneously, however, she is pushing forward the Belo Monte Dam, the largest in Brazil and the third largest in the world, thus following in the footsteps of the developmental policies the military regime once pursued in the Amazon.

Belo Monte perpetuates military strategies to develop the country by modernising the Amazon. Despite widespread opposition against the social and environmental costs of this huge hydroelectric plant, Rousseff has stubbornly advanced with little respect for national and international norms. Read More

Bosnia: The haunting legacy of Ratko Mladic

Unless Mladic's legacy is addressed in the rest of Bosnia, the outcome of his trial in The Hague may be merely symbolic.

New York, New York - On May 12, 1992, Radovan Karadzic, president of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented a document titled "Six Strategic Goals of Serbian People in Bosnia and Herzegovina" to the Bosnian Serb assembly. One of the goals, which included the division of Sarajevo to establish a corridor to Serbia, read: "Separation from other ethnic groups on the territory rightly claimed by Serbs, by force if necessary." In a country as ethnically mixed as Bosnia, the implementation of such a goal could mean only one thing - a bloodbath of unfathomable proportions.

While most deputies applauded Karadzic's vision in a moment of nationalist frenzy, they were nevertheless stunned by the words spoken by the newly appointed commander of the Bosnian Serb army. Ratko Mladic, a general who had commanded Yugoslav army troops in Croatia, bluntly confirmed with the assembly the implications of their strategic plan:

"Do you know what this means? Who will have to implement this goal but the army? Do you think you can just move people like that, as if they were a set of keys? What you are asking me to do, gentlemen, is called genocide." Read More

Occupy Wall Street versus American military might

The United States' standing as "mediator" of international protests is a major obstacle for OWS to have to overcome.

Cambridge, United Kingdom - Where a state stands on the international scale impacts the fate of that state's social movements. The United States' position as a global military power puts the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement at a particular disadvantage.

In The Green Movement's Regret and OWS' Red Ink Problem, I illustrated some of the domestic political dynamics influencing the OWS as it moves to reassemble anew. While domestic and international formations influence one another, it's worth focussing on the interplay between international configurations and locally grounded social movements. Social movements have a better chance of achieving their political objectives in states that depend on patrons for protection. In other words, the chances of success multiply for social movements operating in states that are unable to dominate their global security networks.

Security networks are some of the most enduring international networks. Saudi Arabia, for instance, started its integration within Washington's security apparatus in the early 1930s; a process facilitated by ARAMCO, the State Department and Al Saud clan. The Saudis are not alone. After the Soviets refused to rescue Egypt's Third Army during the Yom Kippur War, Cairo too switched protectors and joined Washington's security network in the late 1970s. Read More

Public support slips for steps to curb climate change

From gas-mileage standards to tax breaks for windmills, public support for "green" energy measures to tackle global warming has dropped significantly in the past two years, particularly among Republicans, a new poll suggests.

Majorities still favor most such tax breaks or restrictions on industry, finds the Stanford University poll to be released today. It shows 65% support gas-mileage standards and 73% support tax breaks for wind and solar power. But just 43% support tax breaks for nuclear power, 26% support increasing gasoline taxes and 18% support hiking taxes on home electricity.

Overall, support for various steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions has dropped an average of 10 percentage points since 2010, from 72% to 62%, lead researcher Jon Krosnick says. "Most Americans (62%) still support industry taking steps aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions," Krosnick says, "but they hate the idea of consumer taxes to do it." His group's nationwide polls compared responses from 1,001 people in 2010 to 1,428 people this year. Read More

U.S. completes warmest 12-month period in 117 years

As far back as records go (1895), never has the U.S. strung together 12 straight months warmer than May 2011 to April 2012 according to new data released today by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .

The record-setting 12-month period edged out November 1999-October 2000, the 2nd warmest 12-month period, by 0.1°F. The average temperature was 2.8 degrees F above the 20th century average.

In the last year, the U.S. has experienced its second hottest summer, fourth warmest winter (December through February) and warmest March on record. And NCDC announced April 2012 was third warmest on record.

Twenty-two states experienced their warmest May 2011-April 2012 (12-month) period, including Maryland, much of the Northeast and the Upper Midwest. Virginia and several other states had their second warmest May-April period on record. Read More

An Inconvenient Lawsuit: Teenagers Take Global Warming to the Courts

Industry giants say their case is misguided. But that isn't stopping a group of high school students from using the legal system to make environmental demands.

Alec Loorz turns 18 at the end of this month. While finishing high school and playing Ultimate Frisbee on weekends, he's also suing the federal government in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The Ventura, California, teen and four other juvenile plaintiffs want government officials to do more to prevent the risks of climate change -- the dangerous storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, and food-supply disruptions that scientists warn will threaten their generation absent a major turnabout in global energy policy. Specifically, the students are demanding that the U.S. government start reducing national emissions of carbon dioxide by at least six percent per year beginning in 2013. Read More

Game Over for the Climate

GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. Read More

Great Pacific Garbage Patch 'has increased 100-fold since the 1970s'

The vast swirl of plastic waste floating in the North Pacific has grown 100-fold over the last 40 years, according to a research paper published on Wednesday.

US scientists warned the killer soup of microplastic – particles smaller than five millimetres – threatened to alter the open ocean's natural environment.

In the period 1972 to 1987, no microplastic was found in the majority of samples taken for testing, said the paper in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Today, scientists estimate the swirling mass of waste known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is roughly the size of Texas.

"The abundance of small human-produced plastic particles in the NPSG has increased by 100 times over the last four decades," said a statement on the findings of researchers from the University of California. Read More

American livestock get extra dose of antibiotics from spent ethanol grain, report says

As the battle wages on over the safety of feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion, a new report reveals yet another source of unregulated antibiotics in American animal feed--spent ethanol grain.

The new report by advocacy group the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy suggests that a relatively new source of food for livestock may contain levels of penicillin, erythromycin and other antibiotics. Both of these are medically important drugs whose effectiveness in treating humans can be compromised by overuse in animal feed for non-sick animals.

When the Food and Drug Administration discovered the antibiotic residues in the grain in 2008, it started requiring ethanol/distiller grain producers to get approval for their presence as a food additive. Read More

Scientists sound acid alarm for plankton

The microscopic organisms on which almost all life in the oceans depends could be even more vulnerable to increasingly acidic waters than scientists realised, according to a new study.

Previous experiments have given an unduly optimistic view of the impact of acidifying oceans on plankton; it turns out that the methods used may have biased their results.

"Plankton often grow in clumps or aggregates," says Professor Kevin Flynn of Swansea University, lead author of the study. "But the way they are handled tends to break these clumps up. When a scientists starts working on a plankton sample in the lab, the first thing they do is give it a good shake."

How acidity affects microbes depends greatly on the size of the aggregate they're in, so studying plankton whose intricate communities have been disrupted doesn't give an accurate picture of the conditions they will face in the wild. Read More

Sick From Fracking? Doctors, Patients Seek Answers

Kay Allen had just started work, and everything seemed quiet at the Cornerstone Care community health clinic in Burgettstown, Pa. But things didn't stay quiet for long.

"All the girls, they were yelling at me in the back, 'You gotta come out here quick. You gotta come out here quick,' " said Allen, 59, a nurse from Weirton, W.Va.

Allen rushed out front and knew right away what all the yelling was about. The whole place reeked — like someone had spilled a giant bottle of nail polish remover.

"I told everybody to get outside and get fresh air. So we went outside. And Aggie said, 'Kay, I'm going to be sick.' But before I get in, to get something for her to throw up in, she had to go over the railing," she said.

Nothing like this had ever happened in the 20 years that Allen has been at the clinic. After about 45 minutes, she thought the coast was clear and took everyone back inside.

"It was fine. But the next thing you know, they're calling me again. There was another gust. Well, the one girl, Miranda, she was sitting at the registration place, and you could tell she'd had too much of it. And Miranda got overcome by that and she passed out," she said.

'It's The Unknown I Think That's The Scariest Thing'

This sort of thing has been happening for weeks. Mysterious gusts of fumes keep wafting through the clinic.

In fact, just the day before being interviewed by NPR, Allen suddenly felt like she had been engulfed by one of these big invisible bubbles.

"And all of a sudden your tongue gets this metal taste on it. And it feels like it's enlarging, and it just feels like you're not getting enough air in, because your throat gets real 'burn-y.' And the next thing I know, I ... passed out," Allen said.

Half a dozen of Allen's co-workers stopped coming in. One old-timer quit. No one can figure out what's going on. For doctors and nurses used to taking care of sick people, it's unnerving to suddenly be the patients. Read More

A Tour of Drought as it Unfolds Across the U.S.

Last year at this time, all eyes were on Texas, where drought conditions were intensifying into what became that state’s worst single year drought on record, causing nearly $8 billion in economic losses.

Recently, though, Texas has gone from famine to feast in the precipitation department, and drought concerns for the upcoming summer are focused farther to the west, as drought tightens its grip across a broad swath of the interior West and Southwest

In addition to the West, drought conditions are also prevalent in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the Northeast as well, along with a small pocket in the Upper Midwest. In all, 56 percent of the Lower 48 states were experiencing drought conditions as of May 8, almost twice the area compared to last year at this time, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - 25th May 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Christchurch, New Zealand at a depth of 8.8 km (5.5 miles), the quake hit at 02:44:49 UTC Friday 25th May 2012
The epicenter was 24 km (14 miles) ENE of Christchurch, New Zealand
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NORWEGIAN SEA - 25th May 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Norwegian Sea at a depth of 10.3 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 00:25:56 UTC Friday 25th May 2012
The epicenter was 604 km (375 miles) Northwest of Tromso, Norway
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NORWEGIAN SEA - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Norwegian Sea at a depth of 9.7 km (6 miles), the quake hit at 23:46:17 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 604 km (375 miles) Northwest of Tromso, Norway
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

6.2 Magnitude Earthquake NORWEGIAN SEA - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has struck the Norwegian Sea at a depth of 8.8 km (5.5 miles), the quake hit at 22:47:46 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 601 km (373 miles) Northwest of Tromso, Norway
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Andaman Islands, India Region at a depth of 46.3 km (28.8 miles), the quake hit at 19:39:28 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 301 km (187 miles) SSW of Pathein (Bassein), Myanmar
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake NEUQUEN, ARGENTINA - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Neuquen, Argentina at a depth of 151 km (93.8 miles), the quake hit at 19:18:55 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 57 km (35 miles) NNW of Chos Malal, Neuquen, Argentina
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

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4.7 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 67 km (41.5 miles), the quake hit at 18:19:44 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 46 km (28.5 miles) East of Wau, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Obama administration is preparing a plan to Arm Syrian Rebels

WASHINGTON (AP) — As one diplomatic effort after another fails to end more than a year of brutal violence in Syria, the Obama administration is preparing a plan that would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.

The effort, U.S. officials told The Associated Press, would vet members of the Free Syrian Army and other groups to determine whether they are suitable recipients of munitions to fight the Assad government and to ensure that weapons don't wind up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked terrorists or other extremist groups such as Hezbollah that could target Israel.

The plan, which has not yet been finalized, reflects U.S. frustration that none of the previous efforts — including diplomatic rhetoric from the United Nations and the multinational Friends of Syria group, and special envoy Kofi Annan's plan for a cease-fire — has even begun to nudge President Bashar al-Assad from power. The vetting would be the first tiny step the U.S. has made toward ensuring that the Syrian opposition uses the weapons to fight Assad and not to turn it into a full sectarian conflict. Read More

Pedro Hernandez Admits to the Murder of Etan Patz who went Missing in 1979

NEW YORK (AP) — A law enforcement official said Thursday that a man has told police that he suffocated Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy whose disappearance on his way to school in 1979 helped give rise to the missing-children's movement that put youngsters' faces on milk cartons.

Pedro Hernandez was picked up late Wednesday in New Jersey, according to a law enforcement official, and was being questioned Thursday by the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Hernandez, who is believed to be in his mid-60s, worked at a convenience store in the neighborhood where Patz lived, and moved to New Jersey shortly after the boy disappeared 33 years ago, according to a second law enforcement official. He has been tied to the case in the past, and investigators recently received a phone call that tipped them off to him, the officials said.

Hernandez said he suffocated the boy, then put the body in a box, walked down the street and left the box in an alley, the first official said. No body or box has been recovered, and Hernandez has not been charged. Read More

Police Seize Record £4m Of Counterfeit Coins

More than £4 million worth of fake pound coins have been seized by detectives.

The haul is thought to be the biggest ever in the UK and follows raids on properties around London.

The Metropolitan Police received information from a member of the public that led to raids at addresses in Enfield, Hertfordshire and Essex.

The vast majority of the coins were found in a 40ft freight container in Waltham Abbey, north London and a further £107,000 was also recovered.

Detective Inspector Bruce South said: "This seizure is a significant blow to the network behind it - individuals clearly intent on undermining the UK monetary system by producing counterfeit currency on an industrial scale.

"It is yet another example of the work this team is carrying out on a daily basis to tackle organised criminal networks."

Three men have been arrested and are being questioned on suspicion of making counterfeit money, money laundering and fraud. Read More

3.4 Magnitude Earthquake COLORADO - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 3.4 earthquake has struck Colorado at a depth of 0.4 km (0 miles), the quake hit at 17:43:11 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 24 km (14 miles) West of from Naturita, Colorado
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE ATACAMA, CHILE - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck offshore Atacama, Chile at a depth of 25.9 km (16.1 miles), the quake hit at 15:33:49 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 67 km (41 miles) West of Copiapo, Atacama, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Euan Craig injured in 'fight' at school dies in hospital

A 14-year-old boy who collapsed after an alleged fight at a Glasgow school has died.

Police were called to Rosshall Academy in the Crookston area of the city at 11:45 on Wednesday.

Euan Craig was taken to the Southern General Hospital. Police said he died shortly after 12:00 on Thursday.

Another 14-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the incident and is expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court later. Read More

Amnesty International denounces Canada, and everyone else too...No Pleasing Some People

As an organization, Amnesty International is hard to please. Very hard.

You thought your parents were demanding, your boss unreasonable and your spouse unrealistic? They’re the picture of tolerance next to Amnesty, buddy. On his best day ever, Jesus couldn’t please these people.

The latest report, issued Wednesday, makes clear that the world has let Amnesty down. Again. The world — yes, the whole thing, all seven billion of us — is a constant disappointment to the people at Amnesty International, who just can’t figure out why we can’t measure up to a few simple rules.

The United Nations is denounced as essentially useless because it hasn’t managed to halt the bloodshed in Syria. Canada is condemned because we didn’t arrest George W. Bush when we had the chance. It has no time for the United States, because it keeps using drones to kill terrorists, without asking permission. The raid that finally ended the life of Osama bin Laden was illegal. Israel is, as always, a favourite target, accused of continuing its brutal treatment of Palestinians, and imposing a “blockade” of Gaza and its 1.6 million residents. Mexico makes the list for failing to protect human rights in its war against drugs. Even Switzerland gets a cuffing for its treatment of asylum-seekers, especially a pair of Nigerians who were treated badly when they landed in the country.

Much of this is the usual fare for the London-based organization, which tried to get Ottawa to arrest Bush when he appeared at a British Columbia forum in October. Read More

Pakistan rejects US criticism over CIA doctor's imprisonment

Pakistan on Thursday rejected U.S. criticism over a court verdict to jail a Pakistani doctor accused of treason for helping the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) collect information about Osama bin Laden's whereabout.

A court in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region on Wednesday handed down a 33-year jail term to Dr Shakil Afridi, who ran a fake vaccination campaign to get DNA samples of the children of the former al-Qaida chief in Abbotabad, Pakistan, where Bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos in May 2011.

Islamabad condemned the covert U.S. raid on Bin Laden's house as a violation of its sovereignty.

The U.S. state department angrily reacted to the verdict, saying Pakistan has no basis to hold or charge the doctor.

Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan asked the U.S. to respect the Pakistani court verdict. Read More

Real US deficit last year actually $5 TRILLION, dwarfing official tally

The typical American household would have paid nearly all of its income in taxes last year to balance the budget if the government used standard accounting rules to compute the deficit, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Under those accounting practices, the government ran red ink last year equal to $42,054 per household — nearly four times the official number reported under unique rules set by Congress.

A U.S. household's median income is $49,445, the Census reports.

The big difference between the official deficit and standard accounting: Congress exempts itself from including the cost of promised retirement benefits. Yet companies, states and local governments must include retirement commitments in financial statements, as required by federal law and private boards that set accounting rules.

The deficit was $5 trillion last year under those rules. The official number was $1.3 trillion. Liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs rose by $3.7 trillion in 2011, according to government actuaries, but the amount was not registered on the government's books. more

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR NORTH COAST OF NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck near the North Coast of New Guinea, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 35.2 km (21.9 miles), the quake hit at 12:55:14 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 199 km (123.4 miles) North from Madang, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anders Behring Breivik 'Won't Appeal If Found Sane'

Anders Behring Breivik has said he will not appeal if he is declared "of sound mind" at his trial in Oslo, and admitted he has been affected by witness statements.

He made the comments following yet another day of court testimonies from survivors of his terror attacks.

Breivik has admitted responsibility for a bomb blast that killed eight people in the Norwegian capital and shooting dead 69 people on Utoya island last summer.

But he has pleaded not guilty to murder, claiming he acted in self-defence.

The trial will decide whether he receives a prison sentence or is declared legally insane and sent to a psychiatric facility. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 24th May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 32.2 km (20 miles), the quake hit at 12:35:43 UTC Thursday 24th May 2012
The epicenter was 201 km (124.6 miles) East of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Hundreds of Endangered Antelope Die in Kazakhstan

A new massive wave of deaths among the extremely endangered saiga antelope has been registered in northern Kazakhstan, the Agriculture Ministry’s press service said on Thursday.

The ministry said earlier that 540 saiga carcasses had been found in the Kostanai region of Kazakhstan.
“Aviation monitoring today … discovered a new concentration of saiga deaths with the approximate number of dead animals reaching beyond 400,” the ministry said.

Last year, at least 12,000 saiga died in western Kazakhstan, presumably from pasteurellosis infection and from overeating. In November 2010, Kazakhstan introduced a ban on saiga hunting.

The latest statistics put the number of saiga in Kazakhstan at 85,500. The country spends $800,000 annually to prevent the animals’ deaths. Read More

Baby beluga born at Georgia Aquarium has died

(CNN) - A baby beluga whale born at the Georgia Aquarium last week has died.

The aquarium said the baby and its mother were getting around-the-clock care since the birth, but that wasn't enough to save the young whale.

The calf needed divers to bring it to the surface to breathe when it was born Friday.

Officials said the calf was underweight and had major health issues.

This was the mother's first birth and aquarium officials say it is common for female belugas to have unsuccessful first pregnancies.

Right now, the beluga whale exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium is closed to the public. Source

Mount Paektu: Japanese forecasts major volcanic eruptions in North Korea

CHIBA, Japan (Yonhap) -- A volcanic eruption of North Korea's Mount Paektu could be similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in the United States, a Japanese expert said, after he claimed last week such an explosion was highly probable.

Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State in May 1980 following a large earthquake, killing 57 people in the deadliest volcanic event in U.S. history. The eruption was rated as 5 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI).

The VEI scale ranges from 0 to 8 with an increase of 1 index point indicating an eruption 10 times more powerful.

Eruptions designated as having a VEI of 5 or higher are considered "very large" explosive events, and occur worldwide on an average of only about once every two decades, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, a scientific agency of the U.S. government.
Hiromitsu Taniguchi, a professor emeritus at Tohoku University and a renowned volcanologist, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency Wednesday that an eruption of Mount Paektu could reach 4 or 5 on the VEI, if it occurs.

He dismissed concerns a possible nuclear test by North Korea could trigger an eruption of the mountain near the border with China, saying a possible nuclear test is unlikely to affect the activity of underground magma. Read More

Hurricane Bud Forms Off Mexico's Coast

The first eastern Pacific hurricane of the 2012 season - named Bud - has formed off the southwestern coast of Mexico.

The US National Hurricane Centre said the storm is packing sustained winds of 75mph (120kph) and is located in the Pacific Ocean about 385 miles (620km) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico.

It is moving to the north at a speed of six miles (9km) per hour and is expected to reach the Mexican coast by late Friday local time.

The Miami-based hurricane centre predicted "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions" to form along southern and southwestern coastal areas.

Mexico's government issued a tropical storm watch yesterday along the coast from Punta San Telmo westward to La Fortuna. Read More

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1 dead in explosion 12 hurt in accident at Arlington Hts. firm, Ohio

Investigators will be back today at Arens Controls in Arlington Heights to try to determine what caused the explosion Tuesday that killed one employee and injured 12 other people, including three police officers and two firefighters.

Neil Nicholson of Itasca suffered serious injuries in the explosion and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. None of the other injuries were life-threatening, Arlington Heights Fire Chief Glenn Ericksen said.

The blast happened around 8:30 a.m. in the company's electronics testing area inside the two-story building at 3602 N. Kennicott Ave., just north of Dundee Road and east of Route 53.
So far, authorities say the explosion appears to be accidental, but investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, and the Arlington Heights Police Forensics Unit have not made any final ruling.

"There's a lot of damage inside, so it's hard to tell right now if it was the chemical itself or the machine," Arlington Heights Police Cmdr. Ken Galinski said.

"There's a lot of destruction and devastation in there from the equipment that exploded." Read More

Zambo dengue death toll now 12, Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/23 May) — Efforts of the local government to contain the spread of dengue hemorrhagic fever, which has reached the outbreak level, appeared to be an uphill battle as the number of cases continues to rise.

City Health Officer Dr. Rodelin Agbulos disclosed that a child died on Monday bringing the total death toll to 12 out of 864 cases recorded from January to May 21 this year.

The latest recorded death was the third for the month of May, Agbulos said, adding. 130 of the total 864 cases were also recorded during the same month.

The death toll from January to May 21 this year was six more than that of January until May of last year, he further said.

Mayor Celso Lobregat has declared a dengue outbreak following the report from the city health office that as of April, there were already 732 cases with nine deaths.

Agbulos said the outbreak threshold for the month of April was 225 cases, but the actual reported cases for the period reached 234.

The number of dengue cases from January to April this year was higher by 426 cases compared to the figure for the same period last year. Read More

8 killed in drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles at a militant hideout in Pakistan's tribal region on Thursday, killing eight people, a senior local official said.

The attack took place in the area of Hesokhel in North Waziristan, one of the seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan, said Muhammad Amin, the top government official in North Waziristan.

The drone strike was the second in Pakistan in 24 hours and follows the NATO conference in Chicago about Afghanistan's future. At least four militants were killed Wednesday after a suspected U.S. drone strike on a compound in the Datakhel area of North Waziristan, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan were one of the key themes underlying the Chicago meeting, which both President Barack Obama and Pakistani President Ali AsAsif Ali Zardari attended. Read More