Sunday, July 29, 2012

Downpour bypasses Beijing, batters neighbor

TIANJIN, July 26 (Xinhua) -- A much expected downpour bypassed Beijing Wednesday but battered the neighboring city of Tianjin, flooding many downtown streets and vehicles.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, the maximum precipitation had exceeded 300 millimeters, Tianjin's meteorological center said in a press release.

It said the city proper received an average rainfall of 147 mm, while the outer Xiqing district, one of the worst-hit areas, received 309.8 mm.

No cases of drowning had been reported as of Thursday afternoon. Four people suffered from electric shock due to the flood and are receiving treatment at hospital, according to the Tianjin Emergency Medical Center.

The local fire prevention bureau sent 190 fire engines and 1,140 rescuers to help rescue vehicles and pedestrians stranded by flooding.

The rain had largely stopped by midday, but the center issued another orange alert at 11:10 a.m., warning residents of another rainstorm. Read More

Jack Black's Tenacious D Stabbing in the audience, Shuts down Concert

Jack Black had to stop a concert with his comedy band, Tenacious D, midway through a Vegas gig last night after an audience member was stabbed.

Police found out that a man had lost a huge amount of blood due to a wound sustained in a fight and notified the stage manager.

The concert at the Mandalay Bay's House of Blues in Vegas on Saturday was then halted when the man, who was left bloodied from a wound in the knee, was treated.

Another man was held in custody after the incident, which happened around 15 minutes into the band's show.

According to a witness who attended, some shoving and pushing started at 'stage-left-side bar on the venue's downstairs level and the short staircase to the floor.' Read More

In Himalayan arms race, China one-ups India

(Reuters) - It has all the appearance of an arms race on the roof of the world.

Asia's two great powers are facing off here in the eastern Himalayan mountains. China has vastly improved roads and is building or extending airports on its side of the border in Tibet. It has placed nuclear-capable intermediate missiles in the area and deployed around 300,000 troops across the Tibetan plateau, according to a 2010 Pentagon report.

India is in the midst of a 10-year plan to scale up its side. In the state of Arunachal Pradesh, new infantry patrols started on the frontier in May, as part of a surge to add some 60,000 men to the 120,000 already in the region. It has stationed two Sukhoi 30 fighter squadrons and will deploy the Brahmos cruise missile.

"If they can increase their military strength there, then we can increase our military strength in our own land," Defence Minister A.K. Anthony told parliament recently.

Reuters journalists on a rare journey through the state discovered, however, that India is lagging well behind China in building infrastructure in the area. Read More

Israel Border Police shoot Palestinian dead in East Jerusalem

The police says the border policeman called out for the vehicle to stop and were forced to fire when the car failed to comply.

Israeli troops opened fire at a Palestinian car at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank early on Monday, killing one person and wounding two others, Palestinian officials said.

A spokesman for Israel's border police, which is stationed at checkpoints in the area, said that the border policeman stationed at the checkpoint called out for the vehicle to stop and were forced to fire when the car failed to comply.

One of the policemen was hospitalized after sustaining light wounds from shrapnel.

According to Palestinian medical workers, the man in his 40s who was shot dead and the two others were traveling to pray in Jerusalem. Read More

Wallace Weatherholt who lost hand charged with feeding gator in Florida

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. – A Florida airboat captain whose hand was bitten off by a 9-foot alligator faces charges of feeding of the animal.

Collier County Jail records show 63-year-old Wallace Weatherholt was charged Friday with unlawful feeding of an alligator and later posted $1,000 bond. His next court date is Aug. 22.

The arrest was first reported by the Fort Myers News-Press.

Weatherholt was attacked on June 12th as he was giving an Indiana family a tour of the Everglades. The family said Weatherholt hung a fish over the side of the boat and had his hand at the water's surface when the alligator attacked.

Wildlife officers tracked and euthanized the gator. Weatherholt's hand was found but could not be reattached.

A criminal investigation followed. Feeding alligators is a second-degree misdemeanor. Source

talian Embassy Guard Abducted in Yemen

A guard at the Italian Embassy in Yemen was kidnapped on Sunday in broad daylight in the capital, Sana, an official from Italy’s Foreign Ministry said.

The official, who asked to remain unnamed, said the guard was an Italian citizen and a member of the Carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police force. The official did not provide more details, saying discretion was imperative while the man’s location was being determined.

News agencies and local news outlets reported that armed men grabbed the guard, who was not immediately identified, close to the Italian Embassy in the diplomatic neighborhood of southwest Sana, and drove off with him in a car. No one immediately took responsibility for the kidnapping.

The episode underscored the continuing deterioration of security in Yemen, where the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took office in February, has struggled to assert its authority in the face of rampant gangsterism, tribal skirmishes and encroachment by militants linked to Al Qaeda. Read More

Mars Curiosity rover success depends on 'crazy' landing

"The average person on the street thinks it's crazy. Even the team that's working [on] it - sometimes we think it's crazy."

Adam Steltzner is responsible for getting Nasa's $2.5bn Curiosity rover mission to the surface of the Red Planet on Monday 6 August.

This mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) should bring about a revolution in our understanding of the geological history of the planet… provided it can land safely.

Steltzner and his team have devised a breathtaking approach to the problem that involves a rocket-powered crane.

"It's so ambitious, it's so audacious, it's so unconventional. It doesn't feel like there's a lot of shelter," he tells the BBC's Horizon programme.

"You can't say, 'Oh, I'm doing what they did before and, oh, it just didn't work out; I didn't get lucky'.

"No, we're not doing what we did before. We're doing something completely novel, hanging it way out there. You feel exposed."

But although Steltzner admits to the odd moment of panic in the middle of the night, he and his team actually have high confidence they can pull this one off. Read More

Nathan Vaughan-Jones Found Hanged at Lewes prison in East Sussex

A man who knifed his "controlling" stepfather to death after a long-running family feud boiled over has been found hanging in his cell.

Nathan Vaughan-Jones, 34, was found at Lewes prison in East Sussex at about 8.30pm on Friday and pronounced dead about half-an-hour later, said the Prison Service.

He was jailed for 11 years in March after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 63-year-old Nigel Ross on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He stabbed Mr Ross 41 times in the garden of his sister's home in Mill Lane, South Chailey, near Lewes, East Sussex, on March 29 last year.

Days earlier, Vaughan-Jones had returned to Britain from Bermuda, where he lived with his wife, to hear of Mr Ross's "dominating" attitude towards other family members, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "HMP Lewes prisoner Nathan Vaughan-Jones was found hanging in a cell at approximately 8.30pm on Friday July 27. Read More

Saturn moon Iapetus' huge landslides stir intrigue

Saturn's moon Iapetus frequently plays host to a huge type of landslide or avalanche that is rare elsewhere in the Solar System, scientists report.

Sturzstroms or "long-runout landslides" move faster and farther than geological models predict they should.

They have been seen on Earth and Mars, but there is debate about their causes.

Now, images from the Cassini space mission, reported in Nature Geoscience, suggest that heating of icy surfaces helps the landslides keep going.

On Earth, landslides typically travel a horizontal distance that is less than twice the distance that the material has fallen.

Long-runout landslides, by contrast, can travel as much as 30 times the vertical falling distance. Read More

Jordan's desert camp for Syrian refugees

A dry, hot wind blows across the Jordanian desert, coating a freshly pitched city of tents with a fine film of dust.

"No-one would want to live in a tent here," admits Andrew Harper, head of the UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, in Jordan.

But for hundreds of Syrians fleeing across the border every day, Jordan's first official refugee camp is their only safe haven from the growing violence at home.

On Saturday night, nearly 2,000 Syrians are reported to have made the increasingly dangerous escape to Jordan, marking what officials describe as a dramatic increase in the exodus. Read More

Panetta Sidesteps Issue of Israel's Plans on Iran

TUNIS — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Sunday that he did not think Israel had yet made a decision to strike Iran, but that his goal in meeting with the Israeli leadership this week was to strengthen ties with the United States “so that we can be fully prepared to deal with any contingency that may happen.”

Mr. Panetta made his comments to reporters on his plane as he headed to Tunis, Tunisia’s capital, the first stop on a five-day trip to North Africa and the Middle East. He is to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Mr. Panetta sidestepped questions on whether he would urge Israel not to attack Iran, as Obama administration officials have privately counseled Israel over many months. He instead cast the Obama administration’s consultations with Israel over how to stop Iran’s nuclear program as close and unified. Read More

'Scientists understand only 4% of universe'

'West armies not going to intervene Syria, proxy war more likely'

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - 30th July 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE at a depth of 136.4 km (84.8 miles), the quake hit at 01:47:53 UTC Monday 30th July 2012
The epicenter was 104 km (64 miles) NNE of Calama, Chile
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 29th July 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck OAXACA, MEXICO at a depth of 15.8 km (9.8 miles), the quake hit at 23:10:31 UTC Sunday 29th July 2012
The epicenter was 25 km (15 miles) SSE of Santiago Jamiltepec, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 29th July 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 42.7 km (26.5 miles), the quake hit at 22:05:09 UTC Sunday 29th July 2012
The epicenter was 135 km (84 miles) ESE from Morioka, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

"A Day in the Life" of North Korea, a documentary containing rarely-seen footage

Chinese destroyer enters Mediterranean via Suez, heading for Syrian coast

A Chinese destroyer sailed through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, Egyptian daily Al-Shuruk reported on Sunday.

The destroyer could be on its way to the Syrian coast, the Egyptian newspaper reported, adding that the warship is planning to hold naval maneuvers in the area.

Al Shuruk daily further claimed that the canal authority authorized the Chinese ship's crossing through the canal following permission from the Egyptian armed forces.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Al-Wafd website reported that high security measures were taken during the ship's crossing of the canal.

Beijing, an ally of Syria, has repeatedly blocked Western-backed Security Council attempts to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to end the violence sparked by a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Last month reports claiming that the armies of Iran, China, Russia and Syria are planning to hold naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea were circling the media outlets. According to the report, 90,000 soldiers from the four countries will take part in the large-scale maritime war games, which will be held off the Syrian coastline. more

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'After 9/11 National Security Agency had secret deal with White House' - 9th July 2012

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake MARIANA ISLANDS REGION - 29th July 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the MARIANA ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 66.9 km (41.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:33:32 UTC Sunday 29th July 2012
The epicenter was 96 km (59 miles) Northeast of Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL PERU - 29th July 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL PERU at a depth of 61.1 km (38 miles), the quake hit at 17:35:50 UTC Sunday 29th July 2012
The epicenter was 16 km (9.9 miles) SSW of Callao, Peru
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Syria has expanded chemical weapons supply with Iran's help, documents show

Syria has expanded its chemical weapons arsenal in recent years with help from Iran and by using front organizations to buy sophisticated equipment it claimed was for civilian programs, according to documents and interviews.

The buildup has taken place despite attempts by the United States and other Western countries to block the sale of precursor chemicals and so-called dual-use technology to Damascus, according to the documents.

As recently as 2010, documents show that the European Union provided $14.6 million in technical assistance and equipment, some intended for chemical plants, in a deal with the Syrian Ministry of Industry. Diplomats and arms experts have identified the ministry as a front for the country’s chemical weapons program.

Recognizing the potential for Syria to divert equipment to the weapons program, the E.U. stipulated that it be allowed to conduct spot checks on how it was used. But the inspections were halted in May 2011 when the organization imposed sanctions on Syria after the crackdown on opposition groups. Read More