Monday, August 20, 2012

EU to work with Belarusian minister despite sanctions.......Because they secretly envy them

The European Union has said that it will work with the new Belarusian foreign minister despite the fact that he is subject to EU sanctions.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko dismissed his foreign minister Sergei Martynov earlier Monday and appointed head of his presidential administration Vladimir Makei for the post.

“The EU will continue to work with the new foreign minister along the same lines as it did with the former minister Mr. Martynov,” the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said.

“Mr. Makei is currently subject to EU restrictive measures. In the context of the upcoming review of restrictive measures [in the autumn of this year], the EU will assess his situation,” Sebastien Brabant said.

The dismissal of Martynov, who had held the post since 2003, follows a recent diplomatic row between Belarus and Sweden over an incident in which a Swedish light plane dropped hundreds of teddy bears bearing pro-democracy slogans over Belarus. Read More

Young Israelis Held in Attack on Arabs

JERUSALEM — Seven Israeli teenagers were in custody on Monday, accused of what a police official and several witnesses described as an attempted lynching of several Palestinian youths, laying bare the undercurrent of tension in this ethnically mixed but politically divided city. A 15-year-old suspect standing outside court said, “For my part he can die, he’s an Arab.”

The police said that scores of Jewish youths were involved in the attack late Thursday in West Jerusalem’s Zion Square, leaving one 17-year-old unconscious and hospitalized. Hundreds of bystanders watched the mob beating, the police said — and no one intervened.

Two of the suspects were girls, the youngest 13, adding to the soul-searching and acknowledgment that the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the moral compass of youths growing up within it. Read More

Eight killed, 60 injured in Turkey blast

At least eight people were killed and 60 injured in a powerful blast in Turkey's Gaziantep province on Monday, an official statement said.

The incident occurred, near Syrian border, after a truck full of explosives halted near the Karsiyaka police station and the bombs were detonated, setting two buses and a car ablaze, Xinhua quoted a statement issued by Gaziantep governor's office as saying.

Any group was yet to claim responsibility for the blast on Monday night. Source

Japanese Journalist killed by the Rebels in Syria

TOKYO — A female Japanese reporter has been killed after being caught in gunfire in the conflict-torn north Syrian city of Aleppo, Japan's foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The death of 45-year-old Mika Yamamoto takes to four the number of foreign journalists who have lost their lives in the country since the uprising began against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Reports from the US-funded Arabic language broadcaster Al Hurra said four journalists had been travelling in a car that was attacked by fighters dressed like those from the Free Syrian Army, citing the vehicle's driver.

The rebel group subsequently denied any involvement, blaming pro-regime forces, the station reported.

An NGO working in Syria said in addition to Yamamoto's death, three journalists were also missing, two Arabs -- one of them a Lebanese woman -- and a Turkish reporter. Read More

Obama Threatens Force Against Syria

WASHINGTON — President Obama warned Syria on Monday that it would face American military intervention if there were signs that its arsenal of unconventional weapons was being moved or prepared for use. It was Mr. Obama’s first direct threat of force against Syria, as he has resisted being drawn into the bloody 18-month rebellion.

The president’s warning raises the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, whom Mr. Obama again called on to relinquish power. And it underscores the deepening alarm among American officials that, as Syria sinks further into civil war, its unconventional weapons could be seized by radical forces tied to terrorist groups like Hezbollah or Al Qaeda.

The warning brings Mr. Obama, who has brushed aside calls to impose a no-fly zone or to arm the Syrian rebels, a step closer to direct American engagement. The specter of unconventional weapons being loosed in the heart of the Arab world, he said, would upend his calculation that military intervention would only worsen the situation. Read More

South Korea to strengthen retaliation against North Korea attack

South Korea will mount a much deeper and stronger counterstrike than any before in the event of North Korea launching an artillery attack, a senior military official said Tuesday, as Pyongyang toughens its rhetoric against ongoing annual military drills in the South.

South Korea and the United States on Monday began an annual military exercise that will run through Aug. 31, mobilizing some 56,000 South Korean troops and about 30,000 U.S. soldiers.

TheCombined Forces Command said it informed the North the UlchiFreedom Guardian exercise is “defensive in nature,” but Pyongyang decries it as “drills for a war” against the North.

During the largely computer-simulated exercise, the joint forces practice counterattack procedures that have been strengthened in the wake of the North‘s deadly artillery attack on a South Korean border island in 2010, the senior official said.

“The military will immediately strike the sources of attack, its supporting and commanding forces as well as corresponding targets in the event of an attack,” the official said, asking anonymity as he is not authorized to talk about military information. “It is an expression of our intention to devastate the source of attacks and its surroundings if the North provokes again, in a bid to prevent it from launching an additional attack.”

South Korea has strengthened its rules of engagement after two deadly attacks by the North in 2010, and now calls for an immediate strike against “the sources of attack as well as its supporting forces” if attacked. more

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA - 21st August 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA at a depth of 76.8 km (47.7 miles), the quake hit at 03:09:40 UTC Tuesday 21st August 2012
The epicenter was 91 km (56 miles) WNW of Kuripan, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Hack Attack On UK Websites Over Assange

British Government websites have been attacked by hackers angered by the country’s stance on the extradition of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange to Sweden.

Last night activists used Twitter to spread code to overload websites of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), 10 Downing Street, the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions.

One automated programme allowed users to automatically bombard the Prime Minister’s official website with 1,000 service requests per second – launching the programme with a “Fire!!!” button.

The software attack on the website servers was announced on Twitter by hackers by using the phrase "Tango Down".

Most sites proved resilient to the so-called denial of service assaults and appeared to be working normally on Tuesday morning, however the MOJ admitted it had been affected.

An MOJ spokeswoman told Sky News: "The Ministry of Justice website has been experiencing some disruption - this is a public information website and no sensitive data is held on it. Read More

Venezuela Prison Riot: 25 Dead

At least 25 people have been killed and dozens injured in a gun battle between rival gangs at a Venezuelan prison.

Some of the dead and wounded are believed to be relatives of inmates who were caught in the crossfire while visiting.

The violence erupted at Yare prison, south of Caracas, on Sunday - and inmates were still in control of the jail on Monday night.

It is one of the deadliest clashes yet in Venezuela's overcrowded prisons, a major problem for President Hugo Chavez's government.

Prison minister Iris Varela said that 17 of the 25 dead had been identified so far. She said some of them had been shot in the head. Read More

Netanyahu ‘determined to attack Iran’ before US elections, claims Israel’s Channel 10

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is determined to attack Iran before the US elections,” Israel’s Channel 10 News claimed on Monday night, and Israel is now “closer than ever” to a strike designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive.

The TV station’s military reporter Alon Ben-David, who earlier this year was given extensive access to the Israel Air Force as it trained for a possible attack, reported that, since upgraded sanctions against Iran have failed to force a suspension of the Iranian nuclear program in the past two months, “from the prime minister’s point of view, the time for action is getting ever closer.”

Asked by the news anchor in the Hebrew-language TV report how close Israel now was to “a decision and perhaps an attack,” Ben-David said: “It appears that we are closer than ever.”

He said it seemed that Netanyahu was not waiting for a much-discussed possible meeting with US President Barack Obama, after the UN General Assembly gathering in New York late next month — indeed, “it’s not clear that there’ll be a meeting.” In any case, said Ben-David, “I doubt Obama could say anything that would convince Netanyahu to delay a possible attack.”

The report added that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe Obama would have no choice but to give backing for an Israeli attack before the US presidential elections in November. more

66 Year Old Texan Vic Stacey Puts Four 357 Magnum Pistol Rounds into a Killer Rifleman at 165 Yards (and saves a cop's life)

Charles Ronald Conner got into a dispute with a neighbor about his dogs. By the time it was over, the dogs, the neighbor and his girlfriend were all dead, shot with Conner’s 9mm.

Conner then grabbed a lever action, scoped 30-30 rifle and took up a position to add a few of the responding police officers to the bad day he was having.

Sgt. Means, the first responding officer, despite his having an AR-15 was pinned down in a bad position.

Despite the distance Vic Stacey knew he had to take the clear right flank shot that he had with his 5″ barrel 357 magnum. Vic estimated he was 165 yards out.

But as you are about to hear, that was not a problem for ole Vic.

His first round got the double murderer in the thigh and put him down, but the guy amazingly chambered another round and got a shot off at Vic that almost got him. Vic fired four more times, got four more hits as the officer got the range and finally killed the shooter. more

Thoughts: i) Why gun ownership must remain legal and unrestricted. ii) A prime example of what bad people, and good people do with their weapons, and why punishing everyone won't stop the bad people. iii) What probably is the most important and prescient paragraph in the entire article goes as follows: "And yes, the shooter killed two people because their dogs were pooping in his yard. He had a clean record, but obviously some coping problems. And as more Americans find themselves living in RV parks we may see more senseless killings like this."

Europe close: Bundesbank draws a line in the sand

LONDON (SHARECAST) - -Bundesbank monthly bulletin criticises ECB bond plans
-Bundesbank bulletin says unified regulator no short-term solution to crisis
-German Finance Ministry says ECB plans theoretically problematic-Bbg
-ECB says wrong to speculate on shape of future interventions
-Greece again in the spotlight


FTSE-100: -0.17%
Dax-30: -0.10%
Cac-40: -0.22%
FTSE-Mibtel: -1.01%
Ibex 35: -1.21%
Stoxx 600: -0.49%

The main European indices finished today´s session slightly lower, more so in the case of periphery stocks, after the German Bundesbank -the country´s previous monetary authority- warned of the “substantial stability policy risks, not least,” which the European Central Bank´s bond buying proposals entail. Furthermore, the Bundesbank went on to indicate that such greater communitisation of risks should be channeled through national governments and parliaments.

Furthermore, the Buba -as it is known by some in the markets- stated that the creation of a single supervisory mechanism for financial institutions could be an important and positive step but that it is not apt as a short or medium-term solution for the currency area´s current sovereign debt and banking crisis. Read More

Syria: Barack Obama 'red line' warning over chemical weapons

President Barack Obama has warned that the use or movement of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would be a “red line” that could trigger an American intervention.

Mr Obama said that Bashar al-Assad would face “enormous consequences” if he deployed chemical weapons as he battles to put quell the 17-month uprising against his regime.

The threat of chemical weapons could “change the calculus” on the need to intervene, Mr Obama warned.

“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” he said. “We’ve been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is if we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised.”

Last month, Mr Assad’s government shocked the West by openly threatening to use its significant chemical weapons stockpiles, although it insisted they would only be deployed against foreign troops and would not be used in Syria’s internal conflict.

Mr Obama said that given the volatile situation on the ground he could not be “absolutely confident” that Syria’s weapons were still secure but said the US and its allies were closely watching sites where they are known to be stored. Read More

Attention financial terrorists: Wall St. is hiring!

'West wants Libyan oil, country set for ruin like Iraq and Afghanistan'

Anyone a militant in Pakistan? 'US droning a mockery of human rights'

Gaziantep Car bomb: 7 Dead

At least seven people have been killed after a remote control bomb exploded near a police station in the city of Gaziantep, security sources have said.

The explosion was caused by a remote-controlled car bomb, Turkey's Dogan news agency reported quoted Gaziantep's governor Erdal Ata as saying.

Turkey has opened a centre in Gaziantep to receive international aid for Syrian refugees fleeing the uprising against President Bashar al Assad.

The country is struggling to cope with an influx of almost 70,000 Syrian refugees.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but southeastern Turkey has seen frequent attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

The group launched a separatist insurgency in the region 28 years ago.

More follows...

Hurricane Gordon passes Portugal’s Azores Islands, causes little damage as it weakens

LISBON, Portugal — Authorities say Hurricane Gordon has passed Portugal’s mid-Atlantic Azores Islands without causing major damage and is losing strength.

The head of the Azores Civil Protection Service, Pedro Carvalho, says there were no reports of significant damage as Gordon passed by Santa Maria and Sao Miguel, two of the archipelago’s nine islands, Sunday night.

He told public broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa on Monday that emergency services responded to some calls about localized flooding amid torrential rain. Nobody was reported hurt.

Authorities had warned locals to take precautions ahead of the arrival of the hurricane, which formed Saturday. Read More

Heavy rains trigger landslides in Himachal Pradesh, India

Shimla: Several parts of Himachal Pradesh experienced heavy rainfall during the past 24 hours, triggering landslides at various places and disrupting vehicular traffic in the state.

The Kullu-Manali-Rohtang highway was blocked for several hours due to landslides while hundreds of tourists remained stranded in tribal Kaza area as landslide blocked the roads linking the tribal valley from other parts of the state.

However, all the roads in tribal areas and also the national highways were opened later.

"The traffic which was suspended since last night due to landslides was cleared this afternoon," Rakesh Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kaza said.

Meanwhile, the traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali highway which remained suspended for several hours due to massive landslide near Mandi town was resumed this evening after clearing the debris from the road.

"The highway was closed due to massive landslides triggered by incessant rain in the region for the past two days," a police official said. Read More

Storms flood streets, collapse buildings in Dallas

DALLAS -- Strong thunderstorms dumping as much as 4 inches of rain have flooded streets, trapped drivers and collapsed buildings in Dallas.

The storms rolled over the city on Saturday night. National Weather Service meteorologist Jesse Moore says some areas got as much as 4 inches of rain.

Authorities have not confirmed any deaths related to the storms, but people told WFAA-TV they saw a man fall into a creek and get swept away about 7 p.m.

The Dallas Morning News says two building collapses have been reported, including a partial cave-in at the Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas.

The newspaper also says Dallas Fire-Rescue rescued one driver trapped in high water near the city's downtown, and several were stranded in flooded streets near Baylor University Medical Center. Source

Bomb Kills Seven In Turkey City Of Gaziantep

At least seven people are reportedly killed after a remote control bomb explodes near a police station in the city of Gaziantep.

More follows...

Morsy takes a detour to China and Iran...Oh dear without US Permission

Egypt’s President, Mohamed Morsy is heading for China and Iran — a path-breaking visit that is unlikely to please the United States that has gone overboard to cultivate the recently elected new leadership in Cairo.

Mr. Morsy will land in Beijing on Monday, before heading for Tehran to attend the summit of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) there. This will be the first visit by an Egyptian President to Iran, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The importance of the visit has not been lost on the Iranians. “Since long time ago, Egypt and Iran as two big Muslim countries have had close ties and played key roles in the Islamic civilization,” observed Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Majlis, Iran’s parliament.

The Iran-Egypt relationship had been deeply soured during the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak — evident from the absence of the two embassies in their respective capitals.

Analysts point out that the region’s geopolitical map may fundamentally realign if the Egyptian President’s visit to Tehran leads to a process of robust re-engagement between the two heavyweights. Read More

Bomb hits car of Egyptian diplomat in Libya

BENGHAZI, Libya — A bomb exploded under the car of an Egyptian diplomat in Libya's second city Benghazi on Monday without causing any injuries, a security source in the city told AFP.

"Unidentified people in a vehicle that passed in front of the home of the first secretary at the Egyptian consulate threw a home-made device at his car which was parked outside," the security official said on condition of anonymity.

"The car exploded but no one was hurt," he said.

Abdelhamid al-Rafii, the diplomat, declined to comment about the incident.

The blast came after calls on social networking site Facebook for anti-Cairo protests over the allocation of frequencies on Egypt's Nilesat to officials from the toppled regime of Moamer Kadhafi who now live there.

Benghazi was the cradle of the revolt that toppled the long-time dictator last year.

Monday's incident also came after authorities in the capital Tripoli said they had arrested the key suspect behind two deadly car blasts on Sunday and three of his accomplices, identifying them as Kadhafi loyalists. Read More

Activist Chinese Group Plans More Anti-Japan Protests

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong-based group that set off heightened tensions between China and Japan by unfurling flags on a disputed island last week plans to try to keep the issue in the news by seeking to organize protests outside Japanese embassies and consulates around the world on Sept. 18, a representative of the group said on Monday.

A boatload of 14 activists from the pro-China group, the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, reached the largest of the islands, Uotsuri, on Wednesday. The activists were detained and then deported on Friday by the Japanese authorities. That led to protests in Chinese cities over the weekend, and a retaliatory landing by Japanese activists on the same island on Sunday may cause further friction.

Japan rejected China’s protests on Monday but sought a conciliatory note, emphasizing the priority it places on the relationship between the two countries. Osamu Fujimura, the chief cabinet secretary, was quoted by news agencies as saying that “the Japan-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral ties for Japan.” Read More

Pakistani Christians, fearing backlash, flee community after girl accused of blasphemy

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan— Everyone in the teeming, tense community of Muslims and Christians just outside Islamabad seems to have a different story about the young girl and the Koran.

The 12-year-old Christian deliberately burned the Muslim holy book, some say. No, she innocently put pages from a non-sacred teaching text into the trash, say others, and nothing was burned. Still another version holds that an older Muslim boy planted pages of the Koran for the cleaning girl to find, and leveled the accusation of desecration because she had spurned him.

Amid the conflicting claims, this much is certain: As many as 600 Christians have fled their colony bordering the capital, fearing for their lives, officials said, after a mob last week called for the child to be burned to death as a blasphemer.

The girl, whom authorities have described as mentally challenged, now sits in jail in Rawalpindi, charged by police with blasphemy, while her family has been put in federal protective custody. Read More

Syria rebels aided by Germany intel ship in fight against Assad forces, report says

According to the German Bild am Sonntag, information on Syrian troop movements were passed on to U.S. and British secret services, who then give it to the Free Syrian Army.

Germany is helping Syrian rebels by providing them with information gathered by a German navy vessel off the coast of Syria, a newspaper said on Sunday, without citing sources.

Germany's Bild am Sonntag said the boat had spying equipment from the German intelligence service on board, enabling it to observe Syrian troop movements up to 600 km inland.

Information on the military operations of President Bashar Assad's troops that is collected by the ship is passed on to U.S. and British secret services, who then give it to the Free Syrian Army, Bild said.

A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry said a German navy ship equipped with telecommunications and reconnaissance technology that normally patrols the international waters of the eastern Mediterranean was in a harbor in Sardinia. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 20th August 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 32.3 km (20.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:42:52 UTC Monday 20th August 2012
The epicenter was 45 km (28 miles) ESE from Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Dwindling volumes suggest European Central Bank depo cut backfired

LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Dwindling money market trading volumes suggest the European Central Bank's cut to zero in its overnight deposit rate may have backfired, leaving the market's slim expectations of further easing looking overdone.

The ECB cut the rate it pays for overnight deposits to zero from 25 basis points on July 5 in a bid to encourage banks to lend to one another rather than park cash at the central bank.

But total volume for trades on which the Eonia overnight rate is calculated has fallen to about 20 billion euros a day since the ECB's move, according to Thomson Reuters data.

This is the first time it has been so consistently low since at least mid-2007. Even accounting for the "summer lull", that is around 5 billion euros a day lower on average than over the same period in 2011.

"It's backfired massively, there's no volumes going through the market," one trader said.

"A lot of the funds can't trade without making a return so they're just closing and while the ECB may have hoped banks would lend for longer time periods, you can't expect them to just reinstate credit lines."

Part of the problem, the trader said, was that any bank's credit rating is directly tied to that of its sovereign, with rating agencies typically downgrading banks within a couple of days of cutting a country's ratings. Read More

Russia launches hunt for other Pussy Riot members

MOSCOW — Russia warned the West against "hysterics" over the Pussy Riot sentencing Monday as police said they were hunting members of the punk band still at large after the stunt mocking President Vladimir Putin.

"There is still the possibility of filing an appeal and the lawyers for the young girls plan to do so," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a visit to Helsinki in his government's first official reaction to the sentencing.

"Let's not draw any rash conclusions and go off into hysterics," the country's top diplomat said.
On Friday three members of Pussy Riot were found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and handed two-year jail terms after they performed an anti-Putin song in Moscow's leading cathedral in February.

The West decried the court ruling against Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, calling it disproportionate and excessive. Read More

Eurozone Bank Quashes Intervention Rumours

Markets slipped after the European Central Bank (ECB) distanced itself from reports that it was preparing to step in and help troubled eurozone members.

There was speculation that the ECB was planning to intervene if a country's borrowing costs got too high.

A German magazine reported that the Bank was considering setting interest rate thresholds for bond purchases - meaning it would buy debt issued by vulnerable countries if their interest rates exceeded a premium over Germany's Bunds.

But an ECB spokesman later said it was misleading to report on views which have not yet been discussed by the ECB's Governing Council - prompting Spanish bond yields to gradually come off the day's lows.

There was also limited reaction on the markets to a statement by Germany's Bundesbank reiterating opposition to the ECB buying the bonds of countries like Spain and Italy. Read More

Illegal Immigrant Jailed For Stealing and trying to Claim £1m Jackpot

A shop worker has been jailed for 30 months for trying to claim a winning £1m lottery ticket belonging to a pensioner couple.

Farrakh Nizzar, 30, told Maureen Holt her EuroMillions ticket was a loser - and asked her if she wanted the ticket back.

Mrs Holt, 78, and her husband Fred, 80, told him to bin the seemingly worthless ticket.

In fact, when Nizzar scanned the ticket at his cousin's Best One shop in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where he worked, the terminal told him the holder should contact Camelot.

Nizzar, whose visa had expired and who is due to be deported to Pakistan, kept the ticket and later called the lottery company himself in an attempt to keep the prize.

But the firm became suspicious when he was unable to answer questions about the winning ticket.

Camelot checked CCTV and traced the rightful owners of the ticket using Mr Holt's Tesco Clubcard to unite the couple with their £1m prize. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 20th August 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 39.1 km (23.4 miles), the quake hit at 11:42:45 UTC Monday 20th August 2012
The epicenter was 62 km (39 miles) ENE from TOKYO, Japan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake OFF WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA - 20th August 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck OFF WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 11:18:26 UTC Monday 20th August 2012
The epicenter was 372 km (230.6 miles) Southwest of Banda Aceh, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Clashes expose India divide as elections loom

(Reuters) - The anonymous text message on Bhumidhar Das' mobile phone was chilling: "Muslims will attack and kill our people after Ramadan. Return home."

Within hours, Das, a Hindu working at a car factory in the city of Pune, joined tens of thousands of fellow migrant workers returning to hometowns in the remote northeast after getting or hearing of similar messages.

Nearly 80 people have been killed and 400,000 displaced in fighting between Muslims and mostly Hindu Bodo tribesmen in northeastern Assam state in recent weeks. The mass flight was sparked by rumors that Muslims, a big minority in predominantly Hindu India, were seeking revenge for the Assam violence.

Normally, there is little fallout in the rest of India from bouts of violence in Assam, which borders Bangladesh and is one of seven states connected to the main bulk of the country by a 'chicken neck' of land. This time, however, the grisly scenes unfolding in the far-flung northeast may fan communal politics in a country where simmering tensions between Hindus and Muslims have often been exploited for electoral gain. Read More

Food Smuggling Causes Outbreak of Bird Flu in Mexico‎

(KCEN) -- In South Texas, an outbreak of bird flu in Mexico has caused the price of eggs and chicken to spike in that country which means many are heading north of the border to pay less for those items.

The issue is that some food items from the U.S. are banned in Mexico to prevent the spread of animal or plant diseases.

Inspectors have seen more U.S. eggs since that outbreak cause the price in Mexico to spike above $3 a dozen.

People stash food in spare tires, under seats, and in other hiding places. Source

Swine Flu: More H3N2 influenza cases surface‎ in America

As of the end of last week 159 people in nine states had been identified with H3N2 influenza virus infections this year. Most of the recent cases have occurred after contact with pigs at county or state fairs.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH) reports four confirmed and six probable human cases of influenza due to the H3N2v strain. The Pennsylvania cases occurred among youth participants in the Huntingdon County Fair, Aug. 5-11. PDH reports no hospitalizations, and although the investigation is ongoing, there is no evidence of the strain spreading from person-to-person.

This is the same virus that recently caused illness in several other states, particularly in Indiana (138 cases) and Ohio (72 cases), mostly among children who were exhibitors at or attended agricultural fairs.

Also last week, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene confirmed the first two cases of H3N2v influenza virus infection in that state. One case involved a teenager exhibiting pigs at the Wisconsin State Fair; the other involved a state fair worker.

H3N2 influenza viruses occur in pigs but usually do not infect humans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read More