Monday, July 16, 2012

Japan Floods: Thousands Cut Off As Toll Rises

Thousands of people in southern Japan remain cut off by floods and mudslides triggered by torrential rains that have killed at least 26 people.

Evacuation orders issued a day earlier for a quarter of a million people were lifted in most areas on Sunday as the rains subsided, allowing many people to return home.

But thousands remained cut off by landslides or fallen trees that blocked roads in mountainous areas.

More than 3,000 people have been left stranded in Yame, in Fukuoka Prefecture in southwestern Japan, where roads were cut off to seven districts.

The Japanese military airlifted food by helicopters to isolated areas.

Local officials raised the death toll from the torrential rains in the northern parts of the Kyushu region to 26 and six people remain missing in Kumamoto, Oita and Fukuoka prefectures.

Most of the victims were in their 70s and 80s.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said that the worst was over, but predicted more rain and thunderstorms in some areas today. Source

Kim Jong-Un Appoints New North Korea Army Chief

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un has named Hyon Yong Chol as his new military chief, the state news agency has said.

Mr Hyon replaces Vice Marshall Ri Yong Hon who was dismissed from several powerful posts due to illness on Monday.

The surprise announcement came just days after he last appeared in public, where he did not appear to be unwell.

The move has fuelled speculation abroad that Kim Jong-Un removed him from his numerous posts to stamp his own mark on the nation he inherited from his father Kim Jong-Il in December.

On Tuesday the official Korean Central News Agency announced that the title of vice marshall had been bestowed on Mr Hyon. No details were provided about him or his military background.

It was not immediately clear if he would receive any of Mr Ri's other titles and powers, including chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army.

The appointment was made by the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea and the National Defense Commission of North Korea, the agency said. Read More

Great White Attack Deaths Spark Call For Cull

A fifth fatal shark attack off Australia's West coast has re-opened the debate about culling great whites.

On average there are 15 shark attacks on humans each year in Australia with one fatality.

But in the last 10 months five people have been killed and local marine scientists say the region is the world's deadliest.

The latest victim was surfer Benjamin Linden, 24, who was bitten in half by a great white shark last Saturday. His body still has not been found.

He was surfing with a friend near Wedge Island, north of Perth, when he was mauled by the huge shark, said to be up to five metres (16ft) long.

Western Australia Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has expressed concern at the trend of fatalities.

"We have allocated some $14m (£9m) extra to get a better understanding of the great white sharks and the reasons why the fatalities are occurring," he said. Read More

Nasa: Mars Mission Risky But Not Crazy

Nasa scientists have given more details about their Mars mission which is searching for life beyond Earth.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), a wheeled rover nicknamed Curiosity, is due to arrive on the Red Planet on August 6.

If it touches down safely, scientists expect to have around two years to collect information about Mount Sharp and the surrounding area.

Mount Sharp is a mountain in the centre of Gale Crater, which is one of the lowest places on the island.

Its name pays tribute to geologist Robert P Sharp (1911-2004), a founder of planetary science, influential teacher of many current leaders in the field, and team member for Nasa's first few Mars missions.

Nasa hopes to land the rover on a flat surface as close as possible to the base of the mountain using a first-of-a-kind, rocket-powered sky crane.

The exact landing spot will depend on the craft's final steering manoeuvres as it races toward Mars.

The planet, which is about 1.5 times as far away from the sun as Earth, is a cold, dry and acidic desert today.

Mars programme director Doug Mccuistion said the landing was not without its risks. Read More

US Drought Is Worst For 50 Years

The drought gripping the United States has been confirmed as the worst in more than 50 years.

Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say 55% of the continental US was suffering moderate or extreme drought by the end of June.

It is the highest percentage since December 1956 when 58% of the country was covered by drought

This summer 80% of the country is abnormally dry and the report said the drought expanded in the west, the Great Plains and mid-west last month with the 14th warmest and 10th driest June on record.

The report said that America's corn and soybean belt has been especially hard hit over the past three months, suffering its seventh warmest and 10th driest April-to-June period.

Forecasters say there is no end in sight for the region with minimal rainfall expected and soaring temperatures set to continue in the coming week. Read More

US Security Agents 'At Heathrow For Olympics'

US security agents are to be based at Heathrow and some other UK airports for the duration of the ‪Olympic‬ Games, according to Sky sources.

The Department for Transport has reached an agreement with the US Transportation Security Administration for specialist agents to be work at several UK airports.

They will arrive one week before the Olympics, and leave around a week after the end of the Paralympics.

Sky's Home Affairs correspondent Mark White said: "This is an added security layer that has been done to help boost and aid the American airlines in particular that fly in and out of the likes of Heathrow and other airports.

"Nonetheless it is a very unusual occurrence and is significant."

The move is aimed at helping US carriers in particular, but also UK airlines flying in and out of America. Read More

"PROPAGANDA": A North Korea Documentary Feature Film, Presented By The Coming Crisis (New posts below until Monday night)





PROPAGANDA (2012) is a documentary film purportedly smuggled out of North Korea and focused upon analyzing and attacking the use of propaganda in the West to control its citizens. The Coming Crisis presents it here in its entirety. Viewer discretion is definitely advised.


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4.6 Magnitude Earthquake TARAPACA, CHILE - 17th July 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck TARAPACA, CHILE at a depth of 94.1 km (58.5 miles), the quake hit at 02:35:34 UTC Tuesday 17th July 2012
The epicenter was 124 km (77 miles) East of Iquique, Chile
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake MYANMAR-INDIA BORDER REGIONA - 16th July 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the MYANMAR-INDIA BORDER REGION at a depth of 55.2 km (34.3 miles), the quake hit at 23:16:23 UTC Monday 16th July 2012
The epicenter was 81 km (50 miles) ESE of Tuensang, India
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE HONDURAS - 16th July 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck OFFSHORE HONDURAS at a depth of 17.6 km (10.9 miles), the quake hit at 22:49:09 UTC Monday 16th July 2012
The epicenter was 36 km (22 miles) North of Savannah Bight, Honduras
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - 16th July 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE at a depth of 92.7 km (57.6 miles), the quake hit at 21:18:10 UTC Monday 16th July 2012
The epicenter was 69 km (42 miles) WSW of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake GUATEMALA - 16th July 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck GUATEMALA at a depth of 123.2 km (76.6 miles), the quake hit at 21:03:10 UTC Monday 16th July 2012
The epicenter was 3 km (1.8 miles) Northeast of Pueblo Nuevo Vinas, Guatemala
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Iran's "abnormal drought" part of "soft war" by West according to Iranian Vice President: Is the US using weather weapons against Iran?

The drought in southern Iran is part of a "soft war" launched against the Islamic republic by the West, the Fars news agency quoted an Iranian vice president as saying on Monday.

"I am suspicious about the drought in the southern part of the country," Hassan Mousavi, who also heads Iran's cultural heritage and tourism organisation, said at a ceremony to introdue the nation's new chief of meteorological department.

"The world arrogance and colonist (term used by Iranian authorities to label the West) are influencing Iran's climate conditions using technology... The drought is an acute issue and soft war is completely evident... This level of drought is not normal."

Iran has experienced several droughts in recent years, especially in the south where it was hit in recent weeks by violent sand storms that engulfed several cities.

Sand storms particularly enter Iran from neighbouring Iraq where desertification has increased over the last two decades due to wars.

Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Western countries of devising plans to "cause drought" in Iran, adding that "European countries are using special equipment to force clouds to dump" their water on their continent. more

Mystery Woman Likely Kim Jong-un's Wife: What? He's Human?

The mystery woman who has appeared three times with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in public since July 7 is likely to be his wife, experts and government officials here believe.

North Korean state TV on Sunday broadcast footage of Kim paying a visit to a kindergarten in Pyongyang with the woman next to him. She first appeared next to Kim at a performance on July 7 and was spotted the following day at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang paying tribute to the embalmed corpse of nation founder Kim Il-sung.

On Sunday she was wearing a polka dot dress with a cardigan and stood smiling next to Kim as he was holding the children in his arms or talking to them. "They looked like a happy couple," said one North Korea watcher.

Given North Korea's strict protocol, the woman is unlikely to be anyone other than his wife, pundits say. Except for Kim Il-sung's second wife Kim Song-ae, no woman has ever been spotted standing next to the leader. Kim Jong-il had several wives, but they never appeared with him in public.

But it remains unclear who exactly the woman is, if indeed she is Kim Jong-un's wife. According to informed sources, she is 27 years old, graduated from Kim Il-sung University and married Kim Jong-un in 2009. She hails from Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province and her father is said to be a university professor and her mother a doctor. South Korean intelligence say they have no concrete information about her yet. source

Thoughts: ...so I became a millionaire doctor in the span of a week for nothing? Great. Just great. In all seriousness, there have been a number of odd "changes" in North Korean policy and action lately. One can only wonder what's going on behind the scenes.


How Close Are We to New Great Depression?

The risk of a new depression — a sustained, severe recession — has struck fear into the heart of markets and driven monetary policy in developed economies since the current financial crisis began.

“We’re in a very unfortunate position to be here,” Richard Duncan, author of The New Depression, warned on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Monday.

“When we broke the link between money and gold, this removed all constraints on credit creation. This explosion of credit created the world we live in, but it now seems that credit cannot expand any further because the private sector is incapable of repaying the debt it has already, and if credit begins to contract, there’s a very real danger that we will collapse into a new Great Depression,” he argued.

“If this credit bubble pops, the depression could be so severe that I don’t think our civilization could survive it.”

The explosion in cheap credit has been widely blamed for the global financial crisis, but the debate about how to fix the problem continues. more

San Fransisco to pay homeless $75 a week to "stop panhandling" and to "help raise stray puppies"



A creative proposal to find homes for needy dogs is facing some strong opposition from an unlikely source, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Beginning in August, the city is set to offer panhandlers up to $75 a week to stop begging and foster problem puppies from city animal shelters until the pups are ready for adoption.

The pilot program is called Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos, or WOOF. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the country. The program will pair ten dogs with people living in city housing, allowing the dogs to be socialized.

But PETA claims that the program would put the animals at risk. They issued a statement which read, in part:

“The city is in essence experimenting with the lives of homeless animals and people. Many chronic panhandlers battle with addiction and mental health issues; dogs won’t be able to tell us if they were harshly scolded, randomly screamed at, smacked, scruffed, locked in a bathroom or closet, or otherwise mistreated.” more

EU Farce Continues, with No Solid Solutions in Sight

Germany's mighty constitutional court let it be known on Monday that it will not decide until September 12 whether to give a green light to the European Stability Mechanism - the eurozone's €500bn permanent rescue fund

Clinton warns Iran during Israel visit

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, top US diplomat says Tehran 'still has chance to make the right decision,' but adds US will 'use all elements of its power' to prevent Iran from obtaining nukes.

The US will "use all elements of American power" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters in Jerusalem Monday night.

The veiled threat was delivered at the end of a day of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The comments come at a time when the US and Israel debate how best to deal with Iran's nuclear program. The US is seeking more time for negotiations and sanctions, while Israel has repeatedly hinted at military action. Read More

US Navy fires on fishing boat near UAE; 1 killed (no Iran Link Story prepared yet)

(Reuters) - One person was killed and three others injured on Monday when a U.S. Navy ship fired at an approaching fishing boat off the United Arab Emirates, but officials did not immediately blame terrorism or cite an Iran-link to the still-murky incident.

Why the boat approached the U.S. refuel ling ship, the USNS Rappahannock, was still unclear, U.S. officials said. But the U.S. Navy said the small motor boat ignored repeated warnings to halt its approach before a security team fired rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun.

Even small boats dwarfed by the size of the U.S. vessel can still pose a threat. Two suicide bombers rammed an explosives-laden boat into the USS Cole in 2000, blowing a massive hole in its side and killing 17 U.S. sailors.

But the incident was also reminder of how quickly a confrontation can turn deadly in the Gulf, where tensions with Iran have triggered military buildup by the United States and its allies. Read More

Drought-weakened animals dying in Niger

'Bahrain people want power back, protests to swell in face of crackdown'

US citizens journalism killing mainstream...Could it be Because True Investigative Journalism is a thing from the Past?

Radioactive sludge being moved away from Columbia River, Washington

The U.S. Energy Department has begun moving highly radioactive sludge away from the Columbia River in Richland, Wash., the agency announced.

At the Hanford Site, a former nuclear production facility, workers transferred the first large container of sludge from a basin next to a former plutonium production reactor to dry storage in the center of the site, the agency said.

CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company is doing the work. The recent transfer of materials is the first of six shipments expected this summer to move the sludge away from the Columbia River. A separate system is being built to remove the rest of the sludge from the basin by the end of 2015, the agency said. Read More

Fire at East Village Hotel put out, 11 injured, Singapore

SINGAPORE: Eleven people were injured and sent to hospital after a fire broke out at East Village Hotel in Marine Parade on Monday morning.

Some 80 Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers with about 20 vehicles were sent to fight the blaze, which started at 8.30am in the building’s basement — a retail annex — where construction work was ongoing.

They evacuated 50 people and took five hours to put out the fire.

The blaze was confined to the basement of the building, which is now closed until further notice.

The 11 injured were four children, five adults and two fire—fighters. They were sent to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

The SCDF said one of the fire—fighters suffered heat exhaustion, while the other sustained burns to his hands after he tripped and fell.

Channel NewsAsia understands the four children and two of the adults who were injured are from the same family who came to Singapore from Pakistan for a holiday and were due to leave in two days.

Channel NewsAsia spoke to the friend of the family and was told he was taking care of the children while the parents were being treated. He said all four children are in good spirits and are fine. Read More

Flash flood affects 337 families in Cotabato, Philippines

At least 337 families were affected by flash floods that hit Tulunan town in North Cotabato Saturday afternoon, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Sunday.

In a report posted on its website Sunday night, the NDRRMC said the incident occurred at 4 p.m. due to continuous rain.

The NDRRMC said the flood waters were knee- to waist-deep, although the flood waters had subsided by Sunday.

It also said there was no initial report of missing or dead residents due to the floods. Read More

"Evacuate” Dam threatens to burst in Huonville Australia

About 100 homes are being evacuated in Huonville, south of Hobart, as a dam threatens to burst.

Police have confirmed one of the dam’s walls is leaking and could break, spilling up to 10 megalitres of water down Scenic Hill Road, on the town’s outskirts.

The State Emergency Service and police have blocked roads in the area and have begun door knocking residents, asking them to evacuate.

The private dam is about one hectare in size and the damage is being assessed by the local council and the state water department. Residents have taken to social media networks saying they are nervously waiting and watching to see if the dam will hold. A recovery centre has been set up at the local youth club. Source

Heavy rain plagues South, East China - Xinhua

BEIJING, July 16 (Xinhuanet) – Heavy rain has swept across central and southern China, killing dozens and forcing thousands to evacuate. Rain-triggered floods have killed 10 people and affected over 2 million others in central China’s Hubei province.

Recent rainstorms in Guizhou Province left at least 11 people dead and affected nearly a million others. And east China’s Anhui Province and central Hunan have also been badly affected by extremely heavy rain over the past few days.

It‘s not easy to live a normal life here when your whole city has been mired in floods for days.

Here in Anyang City in Anhui Province, hundreds of people are still trapped in their houses, waiting to be taken to safety.

Meters-high water forced rescuers to try different ways of reaching to those trapped.

Families’ belongings are also passed out, one thing at a time. Read More