Sunday, August 5, 2012

Syrian General: We Have Retaken Damascus

The Syrian army claims it has seized the last rebel-held strongholds in the capital, Damascus, as regime forces continue to bombard the northern city of Aleppo.

A brigadier general, who did not give his name, is reported to have told journalists in Damascus that the district of Tadamun had been retaken and the military was in control of all of the capital.

"We have cleansed all the districts of Damascus, from al Midan to Mazzeh, from al Hajar al Aswad to Qadam ... to Tadamun," he said.

An anti-regime activist, Lena al Shami, was quoted as saying the rebel Free Syrian Army had withdrawn from Tadaman and would focus on "hit-and-run tactics against important regime targets".

As the violence continued, 47 Iranian pilgrims were abducted by gunmen just outside Damascus.

No group has yet claimed responsibility, although Iranian state media blamed the rebels fighting the Assad regime. Read More

Uttarakhand flash floods: Death toll mounts to 34

DEHRADUN/JAMMU: The ITBP and the local police on Sunday searched the remains of flattened homes for more bodies in rain-hit Uttarakhand where the toll due to relentless downpour reached 34.

"In Uttarkashi alone, 31 people have been killed and six are still missing following heavy rains," district magistrate R Rajesh Kumar said. Twenty three workers of the state-run UJVN Ltd's Assi Ganga hydel project, missing following a cloudburst in the upper hills of Uttarkashi district have been declared dead. "We are now counting these 23 workers in the list of dead people," said Kumar.

In the past two days, incessant rains battered the hill state resulting in landslides, cloudbursts and flash floods which flattened homes and stranded hundreds of pilgrims with the Char Dham yatra coming to a halt. Read More

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN - 6th August 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN at a depth of 36.6 km (22.7 miles), the quake hit at 03:28:22 UTC Monday 6th August 2012
The epicenter was 235 km (146 miles) South from Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Egypt closes Rafah crossing with Gaza after deadly checkpoint attack

CAIRO, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Egypt closed Rafah crossing with Gaza Strip after a security checkpoint attack left at least 16 soldiers dead and seven others injured.

"Egypt closed Rafah crossing indefinitely" after masked gunmen attacked a checkpoint south of Rafah on Sunday evening, official MENA news agency quoted a security source as saying late Sunday.

Egyptian President Morsi held an urgent meeting with the army leaders, the interior minister and the head of the intelligence service to discuss the situation.

"This cowardly attack will not go unpunished," said a statement released by the Egyptian presidency. "Those who carried out the attack will pay heavily."

Morsi also offered condolences to the families of those who were killed in the attack. Egypt's security forces are still working to identify the attackers. Read More

Flood alerts remain in parts of UK

Flood alerts remain in place after heavy rain caused flooding and disruption in some areas on Sunday.

A flood warning is in place for Brough Beck at Catterick, North Yorkshire, with 26 flood alerts across Britain.

Thirteen areas are on flood alert in England and Wales, 11 of which are in south-west England.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has 13 flood alerts in place across the whole of Scotland, for Sunday into Monday.

The affected areas include Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders and South Lanarkshire.

On Sunday parts of south-west England and the Scottish borders were badly affected by two overnight storm fronts, while parts of Wales were hit by heavy rain. Read More

Syrian Rebels Hold Iranians

BEIRUT—Iran has requested help from Turkey and Qatar to secure the release of 48 Iranians captured over the weekend in the Syrian capital by rebels who insist the group are undercover spies and not innocent pilgrims caught up in the continuing conflict.

A bus carrying the men was attacked on Saturday as it drove through Damascus, according to Iranian state-controlled media. Iranian officials described the group as Shiite devotees intending to visit one of their religion's most holy shrines in the city before inadvertently getting caught up in Syria's internal conflict.

The Syrian rebels who seized the Iranians released a video Sunday saying that the group had been conducting surveillance in the capital. The rebels accused at least one of the Iranians of having ties to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, a charge the rebels said was supported by an Iranian gun permit held by one of the men.

"We received information about the Iranians and started tracking them for two months," Capt. Abdel Nasser al-Shumair, a commander for a previously unknown Syrian rebel battalion called the al-Baraa Brigade, said on the video distributed to Arab-language news stations and posted on YouTube. Read More

Sinai attack proves Islamist terrorists are targeting Egyptians as well as Israelis

How will the attack affect the ties between Egypt and Israel, in light of the already weak relations with the new Egyptian government.

Sunday night's attack of the Egyptian military post and cross-border incursion was the largest attack carried out in Sinai by Global Jihad operatives against both an Egyptian target and an Israeli target.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi called for a meeting of the Supreme Military Council to discuss steps to be taken, following the killing of the Egyptian soldiers.

The attack took place while the Egyptians were breaking the daily Ramadan fast. Two armed groups whose members are identified with Al-Qaida raided the post, a few kilometers from Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, in two off-road vehicles.

They fired RPG rockets and machine guns at the position, one of the Egyptian army's key posts on the border. There were an estimated 20 soldiers at the post at the time of the attack. It is believed th attackers killed approximately 15 soldiers and abducted the others. Read More

Obama denounces Wisconsin temple shooting as "senseless act of violence"

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday denounced the shooting incident at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin as a "senseless act of violence," and expressed condolences for the victims.

The president called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi, and trustees of the Sikh temple on Sunday afternoon, expressing his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured, according to a White House statement.

During an earlier briefing with administration officials, Obama was informed that the situation at the Sikh temple was under control, and that "the lone gunmen was killed by an Oak Creek police officer," the statement added.

Obama was notified of the Wisconsin shooting early in the afternoon by his Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, and then received updates through a phone call with FBI Director Bob Mueller and Chief of Staff Jack Lew.

The president issued a statement earlier, saying that he was deeply saddened by the tragic incident. Read More

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake DENMARK - 6th August 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck DENMARK at a depth of 5.8 km (3.6 miles), the quake hit at 02:57:14 UTC Monday 6th August 2012
The epicenter was 51 km (31.6 miles) Southwest of Falkenberg, Sweden
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 6th August 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 56 km (34.7 miles), the quake hit at 02:34:11 UTC Monday 6th August 2012
The epicenter was 33 km (19.4 miles) Southeast of Kujukuri, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 5th August 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 55.7 km (34.6 miles), the quake hit at 22:40:48 UTC Sunday 5th August 2012
The epicenter was 57 km (35 miles) South of Hihifo, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

At least seven dead in shooting at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee

Aug. 5 - Police say a shooting at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee Sunday left at least seven people dead, including a gunman. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

Italy's Monti warns Europe of 'psychological break-up'

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti has warned of a "psychological break-up" of Europe that must be contained.

In an interview with Germany's der Spiegel magazine on Sunday, he said the eurozone crisis was creating national resentments that could damage the EU.

Separately, the head of Italy's central bank, Ignazio Visco, insisted his country did not yet need a bailout.

Meanwhile, negotiations between Greece and its rescue lenders made "good progress" and will resume in September.

Inspectors from the troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) left Athens on Sunday following several days of talks with Greece's new coalition government. Read More

Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover set for high risk landing

One of the most daring space missions ever undertaken is nearing Mars.

In the next few hours Nasa will attempt to land its one-tonne Curiosity rover on the Red Planet to study the possibility that this world may once have hosted microbial life.

The vehicle is packed with scientific instruments, including a laser that can zap rocks to determine their make-up.

Curiosity is currently hurtling through space, close to the end of a 570 million km journey from Earth.

Engineers describe its trajectory as near-perfect and they have passed up the last two opportunities to make course corrections.

The rover, tucked inside a protective shell, is due to begin its descent to the surface at 05:24 GMT, Monday (06:24 BST; 22:24 PDT, Sun). Read More

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - 5th August 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC at a depth of 71.4 km (44.4 miles), the quake hit at 21:51:24 UTC Sunday 5th August 2012
The epicenter was 6 km (3.7 miles) Southwest of Sanchez, Dominican Republic
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Helicopter rescue: 25 saved from floods in China

House falls into river during Indian floods

Israelis protest over austerity measures

Wildfires purge US midwest

Syrian rebels say hostages 'Iranian soldiers'

Thousands of Israelis turn up for anti-govt demo

Why is once-friendly Iran now US foe number-one?

'Germany will die to make Euro live'

'Scrap banks or they'll bring chaos' - Nobel Economist

About 3000 fish killed in River Valley lake, Arkansas

HAVANA (AP) — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said about 3,000 fish have been found dead on the Petit Jean River near Blue Mountain Lake.

The commission said the fish kill was located near the Logan-Yell county line in western Arkansas.

Officials said it appears the combination of high water temperatures, numerous fish in the pool below the lake’s dam and low dissolved oxygen levels in the water contributed to the kill.

Commission biologists have been monitoring the species and fish size of the kill. District Fisheries Biologist Bob Limbird said there was a large number of fish in a small area and too much oxygen demand by too many fish combined with the hot water.

Most of the fish were gizzard shad, sunfish, freshwater drum, minnows and crappie.

Read more: The Courier - Your Messenger for the River Valley - About 3 000 fish killed in River Valley lake. Source

4 inmates at Arizona State Prison in Florence hospitalized with suspected botulism poisoning

FLORENCE, Ariz. — Four inmates from the Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman in Florence are hospitalized with suspected botulism poisoning.

Pinal County authorities say the source is believed to be contraband prisoner-made alcohol.

They say the process to confirm botulism takes time, but proactive treatment can begin after consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Once the CDC receives preliminary confirmation that botulism poisoning may have sickened individuals, the CDC authorizes the release of anti-toxin to the state.

The CDC has released the anti-toxin to the Arizona Department of Health Services, which is delivering it to the medical providers who are treating the affected inmates whose names haven't been released.

Authorities say three of the four inmates are reported to be in stable condition with the condition of the fourth undisclosed. Read More

Israel says "group of terrorists" attack Egypt border post

(Reuters) - Israel said a group of militants who tried to storm its border on Sunday had commandeered two Egyptian vehicles and driven them through a crossing on the Egyptian-Israeli border.

One of the vehicles exploded and the second was targeted by Israeli aircraft, military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said, adding that about 15 people had been killed in the attack. Source