Thursday, August 9, 2012

Egypt plagued by massive blackouts

A massive blackout hit many parts of the Egyptian capital on Thursday, briefly halting traffic on much of its crowded subway and delaying the start of trading on the stock exchange.

Egypt has been beset by frequent power outages across the country since the hot summer months began. The blackouts, together with water cuts, have enraged Egyptians, sending many to the streets to protest.

The decline in basic services have also led to criticism of the country's new President Mohammed Morsi, who is facing a slew of festering economic and social problems and a crippling budget deficit.

Morsi had promised to tackle during his first days in office problems affecting daily life, such as fuel shortages, lack of security and heaps of garbage that are piling up. Many of his critics say he has failed to deliver after 40 days as president.

Authorities have been hard pressed to explain the rising number of power outages, which have been particularly hard since the July 20 start of the holy month of Ramadan when devout Muslims fast dawn-to-dusk while coping with soaring temperatures. Read More

North Sinai violence flares again


(CNN) -- Masked gunmen on motorbikes fired early Friday at a police station in North Sinai in the latest in a string of violent acts in the area, a police official who is not authorized to speak to the media told CNN.


No one was hurt and the gunmen fled, the official said.

Al Reissa had been the scene of an hours-long battle between militants and Egyptian security forces on Wednesday, when it was one of six locations targeted by masked gunmen in a coordinated series of attacks in North Sinai in which five security officers and a civilian were wounded, according to Gen. Ahmed Bakr, head of North Sinai security.

Egyptian Army Apache helicopters fired rockets Wednesday, resulting in numerous casualties, Bakr said. State-run Nile TV reported that the strikes killed at least 20 in the port town of El Arish.

CNN has not been able to confirm the number of deaths. Read More

US offers no comment on Iran intelligence reports...That's a first

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — The White House Thursday declined to respond to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's comment that new US intelligence warns the Iranian nuclear threat has become much more "urgent."

Barak had suggested that a new US intelligence assessment on Iran had brought the Obama administration's position much closer to that of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that he would not comment on "intelligence matters or intelligence ... the president may or may not have received."

He said Obama remained committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and was leading an international effort to impose what Iran has described as "the most stringent" sanctions imposed on any country.

Carney also demurred when asked whether Washington was irked that Barak had been commenting publicly on such sensitive matters.

Barak had told Israeli public radio that "it seems there really is a report by US intelligence agencies. I don't know if it's by the National Intelligence Estimate or a different agency circulating between senior chambers." Read More

Iranian FM says Annan's peace plan still alive despite his resignation

TEHRAN, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Thursday that the peace plan for Syria put forward by Kofi Annan is still alive although he has resigned from the post of the UN and Arab League's special envoy to the unrest-torn country.

Salehi made the remarks at a press conference after a meeting on Syria held here Thursday.

The meeting was aimed at finding a way within the framework of Annan's six-point peace plan to settle the Syrian crisis, said the Iranian foreign minister.

"The peace plan of Mr. Annan is still alive and with his resignation it (the plan) will not become extinct," he added.

Iran hopes that Annan's successor will be an "independent person like him," said Salehi.

Iran thinks that international community has the responsibility to solve Syria's crisis, provide assistance to the Syrian people in this regard and prepare the ground for dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition groups, he maintained.

"We hope countries concerned about the Syrian situation can gather together to settle the crisis in the country," he said, adding that regional countries and international community should join hands to solve the Syrian crisis through peaceful and diplomatic ways. Read More

NASA's Morpheus lander in fiery crash at Cape Canaveral

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug 9 (Reuters) - A small NASA lander being tested for missions to the moon and other destinations beyond Earth crashed and burned after veering off course during a trial run at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, officials with the U.S. space agency said.

There were no injuries after the prototype, known as Morpheus, burst into flames near the runway formerly used by NASA's space shuttles.

The insect-like vehicle, designed and built by engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, had made several flights attached to a crane before Thursday's attempted free-flight.

Morpheus' engines, which burn liquid oxygen and methane, appeared to ignite as planned, lifting the 1,750-pound (794 kg) vehicle into the air. But a few seconds later, Morpheus rolled over on its side and plummeted to the ground.

NASA video showed the vehicle engulfed in flames and then rocked by a spectacular explosion, presumably due to the fuel tanks rupturing. Read More

War of Words and Arms Amid Assault in Syrian City

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian rebels in embattled Aleppo tried to maintain morale on Thursday by highlighting small gains in the midst of a withdrawal from the most contested area of the city, as government forces fired on their positions with jets, helicopters, artillery and tanks.

On the second day of a ground offensive that could signal a decisive turn in the battle for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, rebels said they continued to fight in new neighborhoods and with new tactics, as the authorities bragged of heavy losses for foes of President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr. Assad, after appearing this week on television for the first time since a bomb killed four members of his inner circle last month, also sought to project an appearance of political control and strength by appointing a new prime minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi, to replace Riyad Farid Hijab, who defected to Jordan this week. SANA, the state news agency, reported the appointment in a brief announcement that did not refer to the defection. Read More

James Holmes Lawyer's: Batman Shooting Suspect 'Mentally Ill'

Lawyers for the suspect in the deadly shootings at a Batman screening say he is mentally ill and have asked for more time for him to be assessed.

James Holmes has again appeared at a Colorado court with the same dazed demeanour he had at previous hearings.

The 24-year-old former PhD student at the University of Colorado is accused of the July 20 rampage at a midnight showing of the latest Batman film in Aurora.

Twelve people were killed and 58 injured.

Defence attorney Daniel King argued lawyers need more information from prosecutors and investigators to assess their client.

"We cannot begin to assess the nature and the depth of Mr Holmes' mental illness until we receive full disclosure," he said.

Mr King said Holmes had sought out a university psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, for help but there were no further details. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake MOLUCCA SEA - 10th August 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the MOLUCCA SEA at a depth of 61.6 km (38.3 miles), the quake hit at 02:19:20 UTC Friday 10th August 2012
The epicenter was 83 km (51 miles) Nortwest of Kota Ternate, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 10th August 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck VANUATU at a depth of 200 km (124 miles), the quake hit at 00:33:07 UTC Friday 10th August 2012
The epicenter was 43 km (26.6 miles) Southwest of Sola, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake MOZAMBIQUE CHANNEL - 10th August 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the MOZAMBIQUE CHANNEL at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:30:09 UTC Friday 10th August 2012
The epicenter was 318 km (197 miles) West of Morondava, Madagascar
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC at a depth of 46 km (28.6 miles), the quake hit at 23:45:58 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 13 km (8 miles) WSW of El Valle, Dominican Republic
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN IRAN - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck EASTERN IRAN at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 23:45:01 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 62 km (39 miles) NNE from Birjand, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE ATACAMA, CHILE - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck OFFSHORE ATACAMA, CHILE at a depth of 42 km (26 miles), the quake hit at 21:51:47 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 50 km (31 miles) Northwest from Andacollo, Atacama, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NORTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the NORTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND at a depth of 58.9 km (36.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:31:30 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 46 km (28 miles) East of Opotiki, New Zealand
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE GUATEMALA - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck OFFSHORE GUATEMALA at a depth of 56 km (34.8 miles), the quake hit at 19:15:39 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 84 km (52 miles) SSW of Puerto San Jose, Guatemala
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Ship crash causes oil spill off Incheon‎, South Korea

INCEHON (Yonhap News) ― A Chinese cargo vessel crashed into a docking facility in the Incheon harbor on Wednesday, causing an oil spill, the South Korean Coast Guard said.

About 600 liters of bunker C fuel oil have spilled into waters off Incheon on the west coast when the 40,000-ton ship struck the docking facility at about 9:20 p.m. and a big hole was torn in the right side, they said on Thursday.

The spill has been contained around the port area and no casualties have been reported, they added.

“The spill is expected to not spread as the harbor is situated in an inner area that is less affected by tidal currents,” an official said.

The Coast Guard said it has deployed nine ships and helicopters, and set up a floating fence to keep oil from dispersing.

Meanwhile, the officials will question the Chinese sailors to determine the exact cause of the accident. Source

Anthrax found in Colorado cattle‎, 1st Case in 31 Years

A deadly disease that hasn't been seen in Colorado for 31-years has been found in the northeast part of state.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is currently investigating an anthrax case in Logan County; one deceased cow is confirmed to have been infected with the disease, approximately 50 dead cattle are suspected to have been exposed. One location has tested positive and adjacent ranchers are being notified. No cattle left the location prior to the quarantine. No cattle entered the food chain.

"The risk is minimal outside the affected ranch. We believe, at this point, that anthrax is confined to that specific premises," said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. "Colorado has not had an anthrax case in 31 years but anthrax outbreaks are not uncommon in the Western United States. We are dedicated to providing the necessary response to ensure that the investigation works quickly to limit the spread of this disease."

The premises has been quarantined and people, cattle, and equipment that may have come into contact with anthrax are being monitored during this investigation. Read More

Jiangsu villagers hospitalized with anthrax after butchering sick bull, China

Two villagers are being treated at a local hospital for anthrax, an infectious disease, in Ganyu county, Lianyungang, East China's Jiangsu Province.

"There are indeed two villagers who have diagnosed of anthrax in the county, but we are not very clear on the details," an unidentified staffer at the disease control and prevention center of Lianyungang, told the Global Times.

The two villagers were sent to the Lianyungang No.4 People's Hospital with swollen, festering and blackened skin. Laboratory tests confirmed they are suffering from the highly infectious disease. Five other villages with skin irritations have been quarantined.

The seven villagers, along with three others, slaughtered a sick bull that had been transported from another province. The three villagers who have not shown any symptoms are taking preventive medication.

The source of anthrax infection is herbivores including cattle, sheep and mules. It is listed as a Grade-B infectious disease by Chinese authorities.

Anyone who comes in close contact with an animal stricken by anthrax will be infected. Read More

Possible rabid cat attacks four people in Cornelia, Georgia

CORNELIA – Cornelia officials are urging people who live within about one-half mile of Irvin and Hoyt streets to exercise extra caution as a possibly rabid cat is loose in that area.

“At approximately 7:30 [Wednesday] morning, I received a call from dispatch alerting me of a person that had called in on Irvin Street … and reported that a cat had attacked her at the addresses around 356 and 367 Irvin Street,” said Cornelia Animal Control Officer Corey Palmer. “She advised dispatch that the cat just came out and attacked her. It had no provocation.”

“That’s a tell-tale sign of rabies,” said Cornelia Chief Marshal Jeff Barron.

Palmer and Animal Control Officer Richard Burton responded to Irvin Street. Upon pulling up near the old Fleming Foodservice building, Palmer said another vehicle stopped and told him she had been bitten as well, but had not had a chance to report it yet. Read More

4 injured after bee attack in Pflugerville, Texas


A swarm of Africanized bees attacked four people and shut down a business park in Pflugerville Wednesday morning. The intersection around Rowe Ln. and FM 685 was shut down for nearly four hours while emergency crews worked to round up the buzzing pests.

The colony of bees, which reportedly numbered between 100 and 200 thousand, had built their hive in some old office furniture that was disposed of in front of a local business in the area. As an employee walked into his place of employment, located on Rowe Ln., the bees became agitated and started to attack.

The man was taken to the hospital with more than 300 bee stings, according to Austin/Travis County EMS. A Pflugerville motorcycle patrol officer was stung upon first arriving on the scene, and two other men who were also working at the site were attacked.

According to bee expert Keith Huddle, the situation could have been a lot worse. Read More

Obama seeks to bail out every single industry in the United States (with what?)

President Obama, while villifying Mitt Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout, bragged about the success of his decision to provide government assistance and said he now wants to see every manufacturing industry come roaring back. “I said, I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,” he said. “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry. “I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China, I want those jobs taking root in places like Pueblo,” Obama told a crowd gathered for a campaign rally at the Palace of Agriculture at the Colorado State Fairgrounds here. more

Yuksel Aytug: 'The Olympics has destroyed womanhood': Columnist provokes storm of criticism after attack on 'chestless, manlike' competitors (What do you guys think about his reasoning?)

A Turkish newspaper columnist has been heavily criticised after writing an article which said the Olympic Games is destroying the female figure.

The piece - called Womanhood is dying at the Olympics' - was written by Yuksel Aytug and was published in the daily newspaper Sabah and on the paper's website.

However, it soon spread around the world by saying the Games was distorting women's bodies and that extra points should be given to female athletes based on how feminine they looked.

According to Hurriyet Daily News, he said: 'Broad-shouldered, flat-chested women with small hips; [they are] totally indistinguishable from men.
'Their breasts – the symbol of womanhood, motherhood – flattened into stubs as they were seen as mere hindrances to speed. more

Tropical Storm Ernesto regains its punch in the Gulf

(CNN) -- Tropical Storm Ernesto hugged the southern edge of the Bay of Campeche Thursday morning as it prepared to make final landfall on the Mexican coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

Once Ernesto makes landfall -- forecast for Thursday -- the the storm is expected to continue its western direction, cutting a path across southern Mexico like a belt at the country's waist.

The storm is expected to weaken once it hits land near Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, but hurricane conditions were still possible in some areas of Mexico Thursday morning, the center said.

As of 8 a.m. ET, the storm was about 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Coatzacoalcos, the hurricane center reported. Ernesto was moving west at 13 mph, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

The tropical storm will decrease in speed as it moves across Mexico in the next day or two, the center said.

A hurricane warning remained in place along the coast from Veracruz to Chilitepec in the extreme southwest Gulf of Mexico. Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN ALASKA - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN ALASKA at a depth of 10.7 km (6.6 miles), the quake hit at 16:43:25 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 41 km (25 miles) Northeast from Chenega, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF NORTHERN PERU - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck NEAR THE COAST OF NORTHERN PERU at a depth of 37.9 km (23.6 miles), the quake hit at 16:14:43 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 71 km (44 miles) SSE of Sechura, Peru
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Car bomb kills eight in Iraq

Aug. 9 - A car bomb southeast of Baghdad kills at least eight people and wounds around 30. Travis Brecher reports

New virus can spy on financial transactions

(Reuters) - A new cyber surveillance virus has been found in the Middle East that can spy on financial transactions, email and social networking activity, according to a leading computer security firm, Kaspersky Lab.

Dubbed Gauss, the virus may also be capable of attacking critical infrastructure and was built in the same laboratories as Stuxnet, the computer worm widely believed to have been used by the United States and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear program, Kaspersky Lab said on Thursday.

The Moscow-based firm said it found Gauss had infected personal computers in Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. It declined to speculate on who was behind the virus but said it was related to Stuxnet and two other cyber espionage tools, Flame and Duqu.

"After looking at Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame, we can say with a high degree of certainty that Gauss comes from the same 'factory' or 'factories,'" Read More

Egypt troops move into Israel border zone

(Reuters) - Gunman fired shots towards a police station in the main administrative centre of Egypt's North Sinai on Thursday, underscoring lawlessness in the desert region bordering Israel as a Egyptian military offensive there entered its second day.

Hundreds of troops in armored cars drove out of the town to hunt Islamist militants blamed for killing 16 Egyptian border guards on Sunday, the biggest spike in violence which has been growing steadily since last year's overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

The gunfire in al-Arish, the nerve centre of the government's otherwise shaky control of the North Sinai region, showed how difficult it will be for Egypt to impose order. It followed attacks on checkpoints in the town on Wednesday.

Israel has welcomed Egypt's offensive while continuing to express worries about the deteriorating situation in Sinai, home to anti-Israel militants, Bedouin tribes angered by neglect by Cairo, gun-runners, drug smugglers and al Qaeda sympathizers. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck OFFSHORE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 2.5 km (1.6 miles), the quake hit at 15:24:24 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 83 km (52 miles) WNW from Ferndale, California
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck the SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 150.2 km (93.3 miles), the quake hit at 15:03:07 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 129 km (80 miles) Southwest from Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anthony 'Leech' McGivern who shot his best friend by mistake in drive-by is jailed for 30 years

A drug dealer who accidentally shot his best friend in the head during a drive-by attack on a rival gang was jailed for a minimum of 30 years.

Anthony 'Leech' McGivern shot front seat passenger Kevin Gott in the back of the head at point blank range while trying to shoot members of the Larkhill Crew on August 30 last year.

The pair had a falling out with the street gang over drugs and, Liverpool Crown Court heard, there was also resentment over the murder of Edward Pybis who was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Walton area of the city a few months earlier.

Although it was McGivern, 25, who had most to fear from reprisals the pair got hold of a 9mm gun and a stolen Ford Fiesta with fake plates to carry out the attack.

But when they entered Larkhill Lane, Clubmoor, and saw their intended victims it was Mr Gott, also 25, who was shot as McGivern tried to both drive and fire at the same time - hitting him in the back of his head.

Despite that he made a second attempt to shoot the Larkhill targets even while his friend’s dead body lay slumped in the seat next to him. Read More

Victorious Pentecostal Church slammed for selling blackcurrant cordial and olive oil drink as a 'miracle cure' for cancer and HIV

Cancer and HIV patients have been told to buy bottles of ordinary blackcurrent squash and olive oil for £14 by a church claiming the blessed goods are a 'miracle cure' for their illnesses.

The Victorious Pentecostal Assembly (VPA) sells the over-inflated goods with the claim that once blessed by a pastor they can cure a host of serious health conditions.

Undercover reporters found members of the VPA congregation in Manchester were told that if a terminally-ill person drank a mixture of the specially blessed litre of squash and 500ml bottle of olive oil, which were being sold at double their real value, their ailments would disappear.

A church leader who identified himself as Pastor Mbenga also claimed to have previously cured diabetes and a brain tumour using the concoction.
He said the mixture would 'do what no man can do' through divine intervention and guaranteed the cancer would be cured.

'God will take over with divine intervention and the cancer will disappear,' Pastor Mbenga told the reporters from Manchester Evening News.

The church’s founder, Pastor Alex Omokudu, who lives in a £1.8million mansion in Hornchurch, Essex, has also regularly appeared in television adverts claiming, 'doctors do not have the answer - we have got the answer. We have got the answer to healing'. Read More

Jason Young and Tyrell O’Donnell who crippled woman in high speed car crash Jailed for just 18 months...All thanks to our Parliament

Image: Injured: Jackie Stretton suffered 'appalling injuries' as she broke her back and suffered bleeding to her brain in the crash

A judge has launched a stinging attack on the justice system after he was powerless to hand longer sentences to two men who left a young woman crippled in horrific car crash as they fled from police.

Judge Rodger Hayward-Smith QC had to sentence Jason Young, 21, and Tyrell O’Donnell, 20, to less than 18 months after they stole a car and fled police in a 100mph chase across two counties.

Their reckless high-speed chase ended when the pair lost control of the Fiat Stilo and smashed into Jackie Stretton’s VW Beetle leaving her severely injured.

Judge Hawyard-Smith stunned Chelmsford Crown Court, Essex, when he said the pair deserved much longer behind bars.

Directing his comments to the two men, he said: 'You will get out of prison and will get your life back but Jackie Stretton will never get over this, physically or mentally.

'It is absurd - if I just pass sentence and allow credit for your guilty pleas, because I have to - it will not be enough.

'It is awful. I am stuck with it because of what the law says, and I can’t abide it.

'Jackie Stretton has suffered a very great deal and both defendants are in their twenties with appalling previous records.

'You deserve, both of you, to go to prison for a very long time and I greatly regret that I am restricted in what sentence I can give you because of what Parliament has decided. Read More

French red Lake: beauty spot turns blood RED



It might look like a scene from a horror film but this is the breathtaking natural phenomenon which has met tourists at a popular French beauty spot.

The stunning scenes in Camargue, southern France, may look very dramatic but are actually thought to be caused by the high levels of salt within the water.

The bizarre sight was captured by photographer, Sam Dobson, from Moscow in Russia. Read More

Police force didn’t bother to investigate 36,000 crimes which they didn’t think they could solve... including 7,700 thefts and burglaries

A police force didn't bother to investigate 36,000 crimes which they didn't think they could solve, representing 40 per cent of all reported cases, it has been revealed.

Devon and Cornwall Police shelved 11,000 incidents of criminal damage and 7,700 thefts and burglaries because they weren't deemed worthy of further investigation after an initial assessment.

The revelation further fuels fears that the government's swingeing budget cuts to forces across the country are stifling their ability to keep Britain safe.

Last year it was revealed that one in three crimes were 'screened out' of further investigation across England and Wales because officers thought there was little chance of success and needed to focus limited resources elsewhere.

The shock statistics were a result of an investigation under the Freedom of Information Act. Read More

** Of a total of 824,495 crimes for 2010, 463,315 were 'screened in', while 361,180 were 'screened out'.

MP Nick Boles Learns lover's language and claimed it on expenses whilst Calling for pensioners to be stripped of their winter fuel payments

A Tory MP has been learning Hebrew at the taxpayers' expense following his civil partnership to his Israeli partner, it was revealed today.

Nick Boles, who has called for pensioners to be stripped of their winter fuel payments, free prescriptions and bus passes, claims he is 'entitled' to grasp the ancient Jewish language even if he has got hitched to Shay Meshulam.

Instead of putting his hand in his own pocket he put £678.80p on his MP's expenses to cover the cost of his learning.

Mr Boles met Mr Meshulam on a Conservative Friends of Israel trip and they had a civil ceremony in London last March.

Critics said today the decision to take Hebrew lessons is simply to help him 'make conversation around the breakfast table'.

'Language instruction is a service available to Members of Parliament. I took some Hebrew lessons,' he said in a statement to MailOnline.

'It is something I’m entitled to do,' he said, 'I’ve done it and that’s that,' he added to the Mirror.
Mr Boles, who is MP for Grantham and Stamford in the East Midlands, is believed to be in David Cameron's inner circle.

But this expenses claim could be embarrassing for the Prime Minister, as the MP has been accused of wasting precious cash. Read More

James Holmes jail booking report: Judge accused of creating ‘unusual shroud of secrecy’ in movie theater shooting case

Image: James Holmes' jail booking report



The former grad student charged in last month's deadly shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theater gave his religion as "agnostic" and his occupation as "laborer" when booked into jail, according to a document released to Yahoo News this week.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office booking report provides few other details about James Eagan Holmes or his motive for allegedly opening fire during a midnight showing of "Dark Knight Rises." Twelve people were killed and 58 others wounded.

The 24-year-old suspected gunman gave jailers his mother's name as an emergency contact.

The redacted two-page report was obtained by Yahoo News under a Colorado public records request. A request for additional records was denied.

"In weighing the public interests versus the private interests, the public interest would not be served by disclosing additional records," Arapahoe County Sheriff J.

Grayson Robinson wrote in a response to Yahoo News.

"Mr. Holmes could potentially be significantly impacted by the release of his records and any corresponding publicity," he continued.

Grayson said part of his decision was based on a pretrial gag order issued by Chief District Judge William Sylvester. Read More

Typhoon Haikui kills three in China

Aug. 9 - Three people killed, more than a million evacuate as Typhoon Haiku hits eastern China. Travis Brecher reports

Greek jobless rate hits new record...and it's about to get Worse

(Reuters) - Greece's jobless rate climbed to a new record in May, underlining how austerity prescribed to slash deficits and keep bailout funds flowing is hitting the economy on which recovery depends.

Latest data on Thursday showed the jobless rate climbed to 23.1 percent, with nearly 55 percent of those aged 15-24 out of work, a desperate situation that fed into the popularity of anti-bailout parties in Greek elections this year.

The gloomy data coincided with news that the government plans to revive a labor reserve measure targeting 40,000 public servants for eventual dismissal, in a drive to achieve 11.5 billion euros in savings promised to international lenders.

Government officials citing this scheme said Athens also intends to shed tens of thousands of temporary contract workers by streamlining its needs across ministries and state entities.

Unemployment in Greece is already more than twice the average rate in the 17 countries sharing the euro and nearly as bad as in Spain where the jobless rate registered 24.6 percent in the second quarter. Read More

Belarus police arrested two journalists for posing for photographs holding teddy bears

Minsk (Reuters) - Belarus police arrested two journalists for posing for photographs holding teddy bears after hundreds were dropped by air on the country in a pro-democracy stunt that embarrassed authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

One of the two, Irina Kozlik, who works for Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, was fined 3 million Belarussian roubles (about 256 pounds) by a Minsk court on Thursday, while Yulia Doroshkevich, a press photographer, was to appear in court later in the day.

An official for the ex-Soviet republic's journalist association said on Thursday that Kozlik, 27, and Doroshkevich, 31, were detained on Wednesday evening in the capital Minsk.

They were accused of "carrying out an unsanctioned protest," deputy association head Andrei Bastunets told Reuters. "This the fine) shows that Kozlik was recognised as guilty of violating laws on protest." Read More

Facebook is gambling with its members' trust....Nothing new there then!

Facebook's move into gambling is a distasteful one which prioritises commercial gain over user benefit, writes Emma Barnett.

British Facebook users can now gamble on the social network using cash for the first time.

Bingo Friendzy, a gambling app created by British gaming company Gamesys for Facebook, was unveiled earlier this week, provoking outcry from Christian groups, who charge that its cartoon branding breaches rules designed to protect children.

Indeed the protest does have merit – with the design of the app bearing a striking resemblance to digital children’s game Moshi Monsters.

However, children’s safety aside, the introduction of essentially Facebook’s first gambling shop, does very little to enhance to experience of the social network.

An awful lot of people are not opposed to gambling, but do not have the desire to hang out with their friends in a virtual betting shop. Read More

Nigel Farage on BBC HARDtalk, world service radio - 6th August 2012

European Central Bank cuts growth forecasts for 2012 and 2013

LONDON (SHARECAST) - The European Central Bank (ECB) gave a gloomy outlook for the Eurozone economy on Thursday in its monthly report, dampening sentiment on equity markets as it downgraded its growth prospects for this year and the next.

The Governing Council also said that it may undertake "outright open market operations", suggesting that the Bank would follow through on last week's hint by President Mario Draghi at further bond-buying.

The ECB now expects the region to contract by 0.3% this year, slightly worse than the 0.2% fall originally estimated, while 2013 growth will be 0.6%, under the previous forecast of 1%.

"Looking beyond the short term, the Governing Council expects the euro area economy to recover only very gradually, with growth momentum being further dampened by a number of factors," the ECB said.

"In particular, tensions in some euro area sovereign debt markets and their impact on financing conditions, the process of balance sheet adjustment in the financial and non-financial sectors and high unemployment are expected to weigh on the underlying growth momentum, which is also affected by the ongoing global slowdown." Read More

Syria crisis: Rebels lose key district of Aleppo

Image: Rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters capture a policeman who the FSA allege is a “Shabiha” or pro-regime militiaman, on July 31, 2012, as the rebels overran a police station in Aleppo

A horrifying amateur video from Syria emerged online, showing an apparent mass execution of Assad supporters in Aleppo at the hands of rebels from the Free Syria Army.


Article BBC: Syrian rebel commanders say they have lost control of the strategic Salah al-Din district in the northern city of Aleppo after a government offensive.

The city has come under fresh bombardment, as the government attempts to recapture areas seized by rebel fighters.

The fighting comes as Iran is hosting its own international meeting on the Syrian crisis.

A new PM has been appointed to replace Riad Hijab who defected on Sunday.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has confirmed it has retreated from Salah al-Din, a densely packed area of narrow streets on the south-west side of Aleppo, where rebel fighters had been heavily dug in.

State media had reported the army was now in full control of the district, saying it had inflicted heavy losses on hundreds of "terrorist mercenaries". Read More

Greek Outlook 'Negative' As S&P Downgrade...Does the EU Really need any more Clues?

A leading credit rating agency has downgraded Greece giving the debt-ridden country a "negative" outlook.

Changing the status from "stable", Standard & Poor's (S&P) said the economy in the crisis hit nation was worsening and it was likely to need yet more funding.

S&P also stated political challenges could soon force another downgrade.

"The negative outlook reflects the potential for a downgrade if shortfalls in Greece's 2012 deficit and arrears targets established under the current EU/International Monetary Fund program are not met by new funding or other relief," S&P said in a statement.

It added: "We see the likelihood of shortfalls, owing to election-related delays in the implementation of budgetary consolidation measures for the current year, as well as the worsening trajectory of the Greek economy."

The cut in Greece's already junk-level rating comes following comments from eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker that a Greek exit from the eurozone would be "manageable". Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN XIZANG - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck WESTERN XIZANG at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:12:03 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 97 km (60.1 miles) Northeast of Bhimeshwar, Xizang, China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Stock futures hold flat after data

(Reuters) - Stock index futures held near the unchanged mark after data showed weekly jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week and the trade deficit was the smallest in 1-1/2 years.

S&P 500 futures dipped 0.6 points and were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures were flat and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.75 points. Source

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE EL SALVADOR - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck OFFSHORE EL SALVADOR at a depth of 73.4 km (45.6 miles), the quake hit at 12:36:29 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 55 km (34.1 miles) Southwest from Sonsonate, Sonsonate, El Salvador
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

2.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 2.9 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 7.8 km (4.8 miles), the quake hit at 12:09:32 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 6 km (3.7 miles) NNW from Goldstone Lake, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN COLOMBIA - 9th August 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck NORTHERN COLOMBIA at a depth of 27.9 km (17.3 miles), the quake hit at 12:00:58 UTC Thursday 9th August 2012
The epicenter was 26 km (16 miles) West of Tame, Colombia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Syrian army launches ground operation in Aleppo

DAMASCUS, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army has started a ground operation and entered several key districts in the northern Aleppo province, local media reported Thursday.

The Syrian troops started at dawn Wednesday the wide-scale ground operation, during which they have managed to regain control of the Salahuddien neighborhood of Aleppo, pro-government al-Watan daily said.

The paper said hundreds of armed insurgents have been killed and their hideouts in the troublesome district have also been knocked out.

It added that purging the Salahuddien district completely would probably take a few days, given the sprawling structure of the area and its very narrow alleys. The army is facing great challenges in Salahuddien due to the intense presence of snipers, it said. Read More