Thursday, July 19, 2012

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 20th July 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the KURIL ISLANDS at a depth of 22.2 km (13.8 miles), the quake hit at 03:40:13 UTC Friday 20th July 2012
The epicenter was 144 km (90 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 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 20th July 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the EASTERN NEW GUINEA REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA at a depth of 155.6 km (96.7 miles), the quake hit at 01:26:05 UTC Friday 20th July 2012
The epicenter was 112 km (69 miles) ESE of Madang, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 20th July 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the KURIL ISLANDS at a depth of 15.2 km (9.4 miles), the quake hit at 01:19:57 UTC Friday 20th July 2012
The epicenter was 143 km (88 miles) South of Severo-Kuril'sk, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHEASTERN IRAN - 20th July 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck NORTHEASTERN IRAN at a depth of 31.4 km (19.5 miles), the quake hit at 00:16:56 UTC Friday 20th July 2012
The epicenter was 28 km (17 miles) Northwest of Kashmar, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE NORTH COAST OF PAPUA, INDONESIA - 19th July 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck NEAR THE NORTH COAST OF PAPUA, INDONESIA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:26:18 UTC Thursday 19th July 2012
The epicenter was 160 km (99 miles) NNE of Enarotali, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Canadian Nuclear Association Congratulates the Government of Canada on the Signing of a Canada-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement Protocol

OTTAWA, July 19, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's nuclear industry congratulates Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the Government of Canada on the signing of a supplementary protocol to the long-standing Canada-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. This supplementary protocol will allow Canadian uranium companies to increase their exports to China.

"This is good news for Canada's nuclear industry," said Denise Carpenter, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association. "Canada produces 18% of all global uranium, making us the second largest producer in the world. Our uranium industry directly employs about 5,000 people across Canada and is the leading employer of Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan."

The signing of the supplementary protocol means new jobs and new investments in Canada, and greater security of nuclear fuel supply for China. The agreement will allow increased uranium exports to meet China's growing nuclear energy industry while continuing to uphold Canada's long-standing commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.

"This agreement between Canada and China will generate even more jobs and revenue in Canada, and contribute to the use of clean, low-carbon energy in China, which is the world's largest energy consumer," added Ms. Carpenter. Read More

Deutsche Bank, HSBC Traders Investigated in Libor Probe

Traders at Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Societe Generale SA (GLE) and Credit Agricole SA (ACA) are under investigation for interest-rate manipulation in a global probe that led to a record fine for Barclays Plc (BARC) last month, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Regulators are examining the possible roles of Michael Zrihen at Credit Agricole, Didier Sander at HSBC and Christian Bittar at Deutsche Bank, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the probe is continuing. Investigators are focusing on their links to Philippe Moryoussef, an ex-trader at Barclays, which was fined $451 million for rigging the euro and London interbank offered rates, the person said.

Barclays employees tried to manipulate Euribor and Libor for profit, while managers instructed rate-setters to make artificially low submissions to avoid the perception the lender was under stress amid turmoil in credit markets in 2007 and 2008. At least a dozen banks are being probed by regulators worldwide for rigging the rate, and regulators from Stockholm to Seoul are re-examining how benchmark rates are set amid concern they are just as vulnerable to manipulation as Libor. Read More

Syria Rebels Take Over Border Crossings

Rebels have attacked Syrian forces along the border with Iraq, killing 21 soldiers and seizing control of two major border posts, a senior Iraqi army official said.

Iraq has closed the main border post with Syria and sent troops to the frontier after the rebels took control of the Abu Kamal crossing, the mayor of the Iraqi town of Qaim, Fahan Fitaihan, said.

Amateur video posted online also showed rebels taking over the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, where they tore up portraits of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Sky's Foreign Affairs Editor Tim Marshall said: "It is a significant development...If a country's leader no longer controls the passage in and out of his country, then you are in a different phase."

The developments on the borders come as activists say 250 people were killed in Syria on Thursday - the highest daily number since the revolt against Assad began 16 months ago.

And nearly 19,000 Syrians, many from the capital, have fled from violence at home across the border into Lebanon since Wednesday, a Lebanese security source said.

The Free Syrian Army is also saying that all border points between Iraq and Syria are under their control, but this has not been confirmed. Read More

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4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 19th July 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 5.9 km (3.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:11:35 UTC Thursday 19th July 2012
The epicenter was 71 km (44 miles) East of Namie, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Bulgaria bus bomber in attack on Israeli tourists was ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Mehdi Ghezali: reports.....But Israel still Blames Iran

BURGAS, Bulgaria — Bulgarian and Israeli media have reported that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee was the suicide bomber behind a deadly bus blast that killed five Israeli tourists and the local driver on Wednesday.

These has been no official confirmation, but The Times of Israel and a number of other online news sites reported that the bomber was Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish citizen, with Algerian and Finnish origins, who was detained in Guantanamo in Cuba from 2002 to 2004.

The reports, which have been denied by Swedish officials, came after a news agency Sofia said Ghezali had been identified by fingerprints found at the scene. Ghezali was detained during the battle at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in late 2001, and handed over to the American military.

Bulgarian officials released security camera footage of the bomber on Thursday. The pictures show a lanky, long-haired man wearing a baseball cap and plaid shorts, who was carrying a fake Michigan driver’s licence. He carried a large backpack with wheels.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stuck by his claim that the attack was carried out by Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite Muslim guerrilla group, and threatened retaliation. Israel made no comment on the latest reports. Read More

Oldham Hairdresser Guilty On Terrorism Charge

A 38-year-old hairdresser has been convicted of planning a terror attack in the Jewish neighbourhood of a city.

Shasta Khan and her husband, Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, bought substances and equipment from supermarkets to assemble an improvised explosive device.

Police found a cache of terror-related material after being called to a domestic dispute at the couple's home in Oldham, Greater Manchester, last July.

Beheading videos, propaganda glorifying Osama bin Laden and bomb-making guides were seized along with peroxide and bleach, used by Shasta Khan in her hairdressing work, which together with electrical equipment were being readied to make a bomb.

A satnav from her Peugeot 305 vehicle showed they had been on multiple trips to mainly Jewish areas around Manchester, looking for targets to attack.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court found Shasta Khan guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and two counts of possessing information useful for committing or preparing for an act of terrorism. She was cleared of a third count of the latter charge.

Her husband pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism Both will be sentenced at 2pm on Friday. Read More

Amateur video appears to capture Damascus clashes

Jul 19 - Rebel fighters and government forces clash in Damascus, with amateur video purportedly showing burnt out armoured vehicles and fighting near Syrian government headquarters. Simon Hanna reports

Assad reportedly flees to Syria coastal town of Latakia as regime forces strike back against rebels

As Syrian forces retaliate against rebels in Damascus a day after a deadly bombing attack that killed three regime leaders, reports Thursday suggest President Bashar Assad has fled to the coastal city of Latakia.

Assad, who was noticeably absent after Wednesday's bombing, is directing the government response to his top lieutenants' deaths from the Mediterranean sea resort, Reuters reports, citing opposition sources and a Western diplomat.

"Our information is that he is at his palace in Latakia and that he may have been there for days," a senior opposition figure told Reuters.

The whereabouts of his wife and their three young children were not known.

Thousands of Syrians streamed across the Syrian border into Lebanon, fleeing as fighting in the capital entered its fifth straight day, witnesses said. Residents near the Masnaa crossing point -- about 25 miles from Damascus -- said hundreds of private cars as well as taxis and buses were ferrying people across. more


SpongeBob coins seized by FBI from Peregrine

(Reuters) - Silver SpongeBob SquarePants coins minted by a private company in New Zealand were among assets seized by FBI agents from Peregrine Financial Group after its chief confessed to nearly 20 years of fraud last week.

Ira Bodenstein, the trustee in Peregrine's bankruptcy case in Chicago, said the coins were in a vault at the firm's Cedar Falls, Iowa, headquarters. The value of the takings was not immediately clear.

The coin disclosure adds a new twist to the case of Peregrine Finiancial Group's CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr., who was arrested last Friday after he confessed to doctoring bank statements to make regulators think his futures brokerage had nearly twice the assets that it did, leaving customers with an estimated shortfall of over $200 million.

Peregrine, which operated as PFGBest, filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

Peregrine ran a unit called PFG Precious Metals Inc., which offers investors "whole sale prices, fast & fully insured shipping" for gold, silver, and platinum coins, as well as novelty items created through a partnership with the Auckland-based minting firm. Read More

USDA partnering with Mexico to boost food stamp participation

he Mexican government has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.

USDA has an agreement with Mexico to promote American food assistance programs, including food stamps, among Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals and migrant communities in America.

“USDA and the government of Mexico have entered into a partnership to help educate eligible Mexican nationals living in the United States about available nutrition assistance,” the USDA explains in a brief paragraph on their “Reaching Low-Income Hispanics With Nutrition Assistance” web page. “Mexico will help disseminate this information through its embassy and network of approximately 50 consular offices.”

The partnership — which was signed by former USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista in 2004 — sees to it that the Mexican Embassy and Mexican consulates in America provide USDA nutrition assistance program information to Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals working in America and migrant communities in America. The information is specifically focused on eligibility criteria and access. more

Spain, France auctions show widening gap in euro zone

(Reuters) - Spain's five-year borrowing costs hit new euro-era highs at an auction on Thursday while France paid less than 1 percent for similar bonds as investors increasingly marginalize southern economies from what they see as the euro zone's safer core.

Spain is struggling to convince investors it can control its finances and meet strict deficit guidelines by slashing spending and hiking taxes while also dragging its economy out of a prolonged recession.

Madrid detailed additional austerity measures on Friday but they have done little to soothe investor nerves. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble knocked the euro on Thursday when, urging lawmakers to approve Berlin's contribution to a euro zone aid package for Spain's ailing banks, he said the slightest perceived risk of Spanish insolvency could trip up the entire 17-nation bloc.

The 6.459 percent yield on Spain's July 2017 bond was almost 40 basis points higher from the previous sale just a month ago, at levels not paid by the Treasury in 16 years, with investors preferring French paper even at rock-bottom returns. Read More

U.S. Navy helicopter crashes in Oman, fate of crew unknown

(Reuters) - A U.S. Navy helicopter crashed in Oman on Thursday and the fate of its five crew members was unknown, the U.S. military said, even as it ruled out hostile activity.

The helicopter, a MH-53E Sea Dragon, manufactured by United Technologies Corp's Sikorsky Aircraft unit, crashed 58 miles southwest of Muscat while flying a heavy load in support of the Omani government.

"The crash was not due to any sort of hostile activity and the status of the five crew members is still being determined," said the statement from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, adding the crash was under investigation. Source

Syrian rebels take over Abu Kamal border crossing with Iraq: opposition activists

Russia And China Veto Syria Resolution

Foreign Secretary William Hague leads international outcry, branding Russia and China's UN veto "inexcusable and indefensible".

Russia and China have again vetoed a UN resolution threatening sanctions against President Bashar al Assad's government if it did not stop using heavy weapons.

The 11-2 vote, with two abstentions from South Africa and Pakistan, was the third double veto of a Syria resolution by Damascus' most important allies.

The UK, United States and France all said the UN had failed the people of Syria by failing to act.

Foreign Secretary William Hague denounced the Russian and Chinese vetoes as "inexcusable and indefensible" and said both countries will "pay a serious price" for their stance.

Mr Hague said: "When it came to the time to turn agreements which they have supported into action to end the violence, they stood aside from that.

"They have turned their back on the people of Syria in their darkest hour."

The vote also leaves in limbo the future of the 300-strong UN observer mission in Syria, whose mandate expires on Friday.

Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who sponsored the Western-backed draft, said he was "appalled" at the third double veto by Russia and China. Read More

First spiral galaxy in early Universe stuns astronomers

Astronomers have spotted the earliest known spiral galaxy, dating to just three billion years after the Big Bang.

Theories of galaxy formation held that the Universe was still too chaotic a place to allow such a perfectly formed or "grand-design" spiral to form.

It should take far longer for gravity to bring matter into thin, neat discs.

But a team reporting in Nature says the galaxy BX442 got the gravitational "kick" it needed to form a spiral from a smaller "dwarf galaxy" orbiting it.

They first spotted BX442 as the one and only spiral-looking object in a survey of 300 galaxies carried out by the Hubble space telescope, when they were shocked to see what looked to be a spiral galaxy.

"What we've learned when we look at galaxies at that epoch is that they're very dynamically hot," explained lead author of the study David Law from the University of Toronto's Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

"Even though we see some discs existing at that time, they're very thick and puffy, whereas the Milky Way has an... amount of random motion only about a tenth or so the amount of ordered rotation, giving rise to a very thin disc," he told BBC News. Read More

Riots murder trial: Senior officer 'lied under oath'

A trial of eight men accused of murder during the Birmingham riots almost collapsed when a judge declared a police officer had "invented a story".

Haroon Jahan, 20, Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, died on 10 August after being hit by a car.

The eight defendants have been found not guilty at Birmingham Crown Court.

The jury heard Det Ch Insp Anthony Tagg had been found to have "invented" evidence given under oath during a hearing held in their absence.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the officer's conduct. Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN ALASKA - 19th July 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN ALASKA at a depth of 14.3 km (8.9 miles), the quake hit at 17:02:13 UTC Thursday 19th July 2012
The epicenter was 41 km (26 miles) Southeast from Pope-Vannoy Landing, Alaska
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

US to work outside UN Council to confront Assad: envoy

UNITED NATIONS — The United States said Thursday that the UN Security Council has "utterly failed" on Syria and that it will now work outside of the council to confront President Bashar al-Assad.

"We will intensify our work with a diverse range of partners outside the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need," US ambassador Susan Rice said.

"The Security Council has failed utterly in its most important task on the agenda this year," Rice added, as she slammed Russia and China for vetoing a resolution threatening sanctions against Assad.

Highlighting Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, Rice said the Syrian government will be "held accountable" if it is used against the opposition.

"As the situation deteriorates, the potential that this regime could consider using chemical weapons against its own people should be a concern for us all," she said.

Fears over the chemical weapons have increased in recent days. Read More

Sizewell B nuclear reactor has unplanned shutdown, Suffolk, England

Sizewell B nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast has had its second automatic shutdown in four months.

Owner EDF Energy said electricity production had ceased at 17:11 BST on Wednesday and it was investigating the cause of the stoppage.

A spokesman said: "The reactor was safely shut down, with the plant responding as expected and at no time was anyone's safety at risk."

The plant had an 11-day automatic stoppage in March.

EDF said it was not predicting when the plant would begin generating again. Read More

About 3000 people ordered to evacuate again in Japan's Kyushu, Japan

OSAKA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- About 3,000 people in a city of southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu were forced to evacuate their homes again on Thursday due to threats of landslide and flood caused by heavy rain, local press reported.

According to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, the residents in Aso City where landslides hit houses last week were ordered to evacuate their houses on Thursday morning as heavy rain continued to fall on the area covered with volcanic ash soil which is very fragile.

In Aso City and its surrounding region of Kumamoto Prefecture, at least 23 people were found dead and two went missing after landslides hit houses last week in more than 60 places.

Heavy rain caused by Tropical Storm Khanun poured in several areas of northern Kyushu which saw hourly rainfall between 40 and 50 mm in the morning hours.

The Japan Meteorological agency warned as the tropical storm moves north, heavy rainfall may trigger further floods and landslides in Kyushu till Friday. Source