Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Tofu" Bridge Collapses in Harbin, China

"Hundreds of Thousands" Victim of Psychiatric Abuse in China: Report

Mysterious booms in California plague El Dorado County



People from all over El Dorado County say they’re hearing loud booms several times a week, but there are many theories on what is causing them.

“I thought it was thunder,” said one person.

“It’s definitely not thunder; too consistent. I thought it was just mining,” said another person.

“I always considered them to be sonic booms from flying aircrafts for years,” said Loring Brunius, owner of Sierra Rock Diamond Quarry.

People who live near Pleasant Valley say their days have been interrupted by loud booms, shaking the floor beneath them.

“You can feel it in the ground, no question about it. But no one’s been able to figure out why,” said Pleasant Valley resident Peter O’Grady. “I tend to hear somewhere between four to six of these things during the weekdays usually between 11 p.m. and 2 p.m.

“Boom, boom, boom, boom just like that,” said Lorren Gonzales, who lives near Pleasant Valley.

And the rolling foothills of El Dorado County make it difficult for them to even tell where it’s coming from.

We asked the owner of Sierra Rock Diamond Quarry what he knew about it. He says they havent blasted since last year. And any miners or quarry owners would need government permission before they can set off any explosives. more

Astronaut Neil Armstrong Dies Aged 82

Astronaut Neil Armstrong has died aged 82, according to reports in the US.

Armstrong had heart-bypass surgery earlier this month to relieve blocked coronary arteries.

As commander of the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, he became the first human to set foot on the moon.

More follows...

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 25th August 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 81.9 km (50.9 miles), the quake hit at 18:36:59 UTC Saturday 25th August 2012
The epicenter was 19 km (11 miles) Southeast of Iwaki, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

U.S. navy firepower passes Suez

Aug. 25 - A U.S. navy convoy, including a warship and submarine, pass through Egypt's Suez Canal on way to Mediterranean sea.

Empire State shooting Video Released by the Police

Aug. 25 - Police video shows the moment officers fatally shot the man police say killed former co-worker outside the Empire State Building.

Three Dead As Tropical Storm Isaac Hits Haiti

Tropical storm Isaac has swept across the shores of Haiti, damaging hundreds of homes and killing at least three people, with the impoverished Caribbean country still struggling in the wake of a massive earthquake two years ago.

A woman and child died in the town of Souvenance, and a 10-year-old girl in Thomazeau when a wall fell on her, officials said.

As many as 5,000 people have been evacuated because of flooding, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's Civil Protection Office.

The storm was pushing into eastern Cuba, which has declared a state of alert in six provinces, and weather experts have warned it also poses a threat to the US naval base and Guantanamo Bay prison, as well as Florida early next week.

Forecasters said Isaac was near hurricane strength when the eye of the storm landed in Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people are still living in squalid, makeshift camps with nothing but sheets of metal or tarpaulin as roofs. Read More

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 25th August 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 12.8 km (8 miles), the quake hit at 17:14:14 UTC Saturday 25th August 2012
The epicenter was 72 km (44 miles) SSW of Puerto Penasco, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Curiosity photos show Mars teeming with UFOs

According to the fringe sector of the Internet, Mars is practically teeming with aliens.

Since NASA's Curiosity rover touched down on the Red Planet two weeks ago and powered up its cameras, it has already managed to photograph several alleged UFOs and other "anomalies" in the surrounding landscape.

From classic flying saucers to an absurdly out-of-place fossilized human finger, here's a rundown of what UFO believers claim to have found in Curiosity photos so far.

Speculation about Martians in Curiosity's midst got off to a running start when the very first sequence of photos taken by the rover raised questions. A hazy, distant object mysteriously appeared and then disappeared in consecutive images of the Martian horizon, perplexing even NASA scientists at first.

But the much-discussed "anomaly" turned out not to be a sign of alien activity, but rather the plume of dust kicked up by the sky crane that delivered the rover close to the Martian surface, then veered off and struck the ground some 2,000 feet (600 meters) away.

"We believe we've caught what is the descent stage impact on the Martian surface," said NASA engineer Steven Sell, sky crane specialist on the Curiosity mission. more

5.8 Magnitude Earthquake HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION - 25th August 2012

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION at a depth of 44.6 km (27.7 miles), the quake hit at 14:16:15 UTC Saturday 25th August 2012
The epicenter was 53 km (32 miles) East of Shizunai, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Gambia 'executes nine prisoners'

Amnesty International said it had received credible reports that Gambia executed nine death-row prisoners on Friday.

The human rights organisation said eight men and one woman were removed from their prison cells and killed, and warned that dozens more executions could be imminent.

The Civil Society Associations of Gambia said it was not clear how inmates were killed. "What is however clear is that inmates were rounded up at 9.30pm on Thursday 23 August and that by the morning of 24 August, the bodies were actually lying in the Mile Two Prison yard," it said.

The Gambian government has not officially confirmed reports but a statement issued late on Friday said: "All persons on death row have been tried by the Gambian courts of competent jurisdiction and thereof convicted and sentenced to death in accordance with the law. They have exhausted all their legal rights of appeal as provided by the law."

It added: "The peace and stability of our beloved nation as regards to protection of the lives, liberty and property of individuals must at all cost be preserved and jealously guarded." Read More

Thousands demonstrate in Egypt in first sizable protest against Morsi regime

Opposition to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to cause the new president to step up pressure on Egyptian media, despite his recent move to ban arrests for 'publishing crimes.'

Thousands demonstrated Friday in Cairo against President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, in the first protest of such scope since the new Egyptian president took office in June. The protesters marched from Tahrir Square to the president's office in Cairo, while a similar procession took place in Alexandria. Both demonstrations ended in clashes between supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Despite declarations by the leadership of the protest movement and Morsi's representatives that citizens have the right to stage peaceful protests, including those against the president, certain Muslim Brotherhood members decided to stage counter-protests. Clashes and stone throwing ensued between the groups, leaving 13 people wounded. Read More

19 Killed in Explosion at Refinery in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela — An explosion at Venezuela’s biggest refinery early Saturday killed at least 19 people and injured more than 50 others in the deadliest disaster in years for the country’s crucial oil industry.

Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, one of the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by residents who were nearby at the time.

Those killed included a 10-year-old boy, and at least 53 people were wounded, the governor of Falcon State, Stella Lugo, said on state television. She said firefighters had controlled the flames at the refinery, on the Paraguana Peninsula in western Venezuela, where large clouds of smoke were rising.

“The areas that had to be evacuated were evacuated,” Ms. Lugo said, according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency. “The situation is controlled. Of course there is still a fire rising very high,” she said, but added that “specialists tell me there is no risk of another explosion.”

The blast occurred after 1 a.m. when a gas leak created a cloud that ignited, the oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, said. Some nearby houses were damaged in the blast, he said. Read More

Hollande: Greece 'must stay in the eurozone'

French president says Greece 'must stay' in the eurozone following talks with the country's prime minister, but stressed Greece needed to prove its commitment to economic reform.

Francois Hollande, the French president, said that Greece must stay in the eurozone but must first prove it is determined to overhaul its economy so Europe can do its part and move on from the debt crisis.

Following talks with the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, on Saturday, Mr Hollande said that "Greece is in the eurozone and Greece must stay in the eurozone".

But, he cautioned: "It still has to demonstrate the credibility of its programme and the willingness of its leaders to go the whole way, while doing it in a way that is bearable for the population."

“Once these commitments, which are not only financial but about structural reforms that the Greeks want, have been ratified by parliament and confirmed, Europe must do its part,”
the French president added.

He said that both Greece and Europe needed to put the turmoil behind them as quickly as possible, adding: "It's now been two and a half years. There's no more time to be lost." Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 25th August 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 12:26:59 UTC Saturday 25th August 2012
The epicenter was 103 km (64 miles) Southeast from San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Tiger Kills Keeper At German Zoo

A tiger has killed a female keeper after escaping from its enclosure at Cologne Zoo, according to German media reports.

The dapd news agency cited a police spokesman as saying the tiger was later shot dead by staff at the zoo in western Germany.

Visitors were not harmed during the incident on Saturday

More follows...

Greek PM In Paris To Plead With Hollande

The Greek Prime Minister has arrived in Paris in a bid to buy more time to carry out the spending cuts demanded by the eurozone.

Antonis Samaras' pleas to German chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday appear to have gone unheeded.

He will now try and persuade French President Francois Hollande that his country needs an additional two years to carry out the reforms.

Speaking after a meeting betwen Mr Hollande and Mr Samaras in Paris, the Greek PM said his country intended to remain in the Eurozone.

He said: "I came here today to tell them that Greece will make it, it will remain in the Eurozone and it will play an important role in the European Union. Read More

''Chinese imports cost 2.7 million jobs in the United States since 2001''

A new report from a liberal think tank says Chinese imports caused the loss of 2.7 million jobs in the United States, including 96,300 in the Mid-South, since the industrializing nation joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

The study by the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute was released Thursday. It contends West Tennessee alone lost 15,300 jobs due to imports from China, including about 4,400 in greater Memphis.

"The United States is piling up foreign debt and losing export capacity, and the growing trade deficit with China has been a prime contributor to the crisis in U.S. manufacturing employment," said report author Robert Scott, EPI's manufacturing policy research director.

EPI issued the report amid a growing debate about the trade relationship between the United States and China. Notes China Trade, an arm of pro-trade Arizona think tank Kearny Alliance: "From Microsoft and Motorola to Wal-Mart and KFC, there are a number of American and multinational companies that operate in China and are more successful because of it. (And while these companies benefit from manufacturing in China for export elsewhere, they also benefit from selling to China's consumer market.)" Read More

Tomgram: ''Greg Muttitt, Whatever Happened to Iraqi Oil?''

It was never exactly rocket science. You didn’t have to be Einstein to figure it out. In early 2003, the Bush administration was visibly preparing to invade Iraq, a nation with a nasty ruler who himself hadn’t hesitated to invade another country, Iran, in the early 1980s for no purpose except self-aggrandizement. (And the Reagan administration had backed him in that disastrous war because then, as now, Washington loathed the Iranians.)

There was never the slightest evidence of the involvement of Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 9/11 attacks or in support of al-Qaeda; and despite the Bush administration’s drumbeat of supposed information about Saddam’s nuclear program (which was said, somehow, to threaten to put mushroom clouds over American cities), the evidence was always, at best, beyond thin and at worst, a potage of lies, concoctions, and wishful thinking. The program, of course, proved nonexistent, but too late to matter.

There was only one reason to invade Iraq and it could be captured in a single word, “oil,” even if George W. Bush and his top officials generally went out of their way to avoid mentioning it. (At one point, post-invasion, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz did point out that Iraq was indeed afloat “on a sea of oil.”) Unfortunately, oil as a significant factor in invasion planning was considered far too simpleminded for the sophisticated pundits and reporters of the mainstream media. They were unimpressed by it even when, as the looting began in Baghdad, it turned out that U.S. troops only had orders to guard the Oil Ministry and Interior Ministry (which housed Saddam’s dreaded secret police).

Mind you, far more than Iraqi oil was in the administration’s crosshairs, though that country, with its then-crippled energy sector, was considered a giant oil reservoir just waiting for Big Oil to set it free. To conquer and garrison -- “liberate” -- Iraq would put the U.S. in a position of ultimate domination in the oil heartlands of the planet, or so thought the top officials of the Bush administration, a number of whom had been in or associated with the energy business before scaling the heights of Washington. As Dick Cheney put it to the Institute of Petroleum Engineers in 1999, when he was still running the energy company Halliburton, "The Middle East, with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies." Read More

''113 arrested in Chile student protests''

AFP - Over a hundred students were arrested in Santiago in clashes between police and demonstrators demanding better public education, after the occupation of several schools.

Some 4,500 students, mostly from high schools and universities, took to the streets to demand improvements in Chile's public education system, said to be among the most expensive and unequal in the world.

Santiago authorities said 113 people were arrested in various parts of the city, including 39 adults and 74 minors.

Near La Moneda, hooded protestors brandished sticks, stones and bottles filled with paint at police guarding the presidential palace.

Police used water jets and tear gas against protesters, who paralyzed traffic in the Chilean capital for roughly two hours.

One week ago, police arrested 139 people when they stormed three Santiago high schools that had been taken over by students demanding educational reforms. Read More

''Barack Obama asks eurozone to keep Greece in until after election day''

US officials are worried that if Greece exits the eurozone, it will damage President's election hopes

The Obama administration will pressure European governments not to let Greece fall out of the eurozone before November's Presidential elections, British Government sources have suggested.

Representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission are due to arrive in Athens next month to assess Greece's reform efforts.

They are expected to report in time for an 8 October meeting of eurozone finance ministers which will decide on whether to disburse Greece's next €31bn aid tranche, promised under the terms of the bailout for the country.

American officials are understood to be worried that if they decide Greece has not done enough to meet its deficit targets and withhold the money, it would automatically trigger Greece's exit from the eurozone weeks before the Presidential election on 6 November. Read More

''Scared and Silent: Censoring the Truth Under Obama''

"This administration has punished so-called whistleblowers – those who reveal certain illegal actions by US government agencies – more than any other in US history."

This past weekend, while giving a televised speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange directed a segment of his comments towards US president Barack Obama.

Assange demanded that the Obama administration stop its unprecedented "war on whistleblowers" – a war in which Assange himself has been cast as an enemy. Indeed, Assange had been granted political asylum by Ecuadoran President, Rafael Correa in an attempt to prevent his extradition to the US, and his supporters are rightly worried that the US government is gunning to punish the man responsible for one of the greatest release of classified information in history.

One doesn’t have to dismiss the serious rape allegations against Assange, or agree with his bizarre libertarian politics, to recognize the truth in his claim of a US witch-hunt. The Obama administration has been after Wikileaks since that organization released classified military reports and diplomatic cables showing evidence of US war crimes in Iraq, and that verified its corrupt imperialist actions around the world. But the Assange stand off provides one more example of the rogue nature of the Obama administration.

This administration has punished so-called whistleblowers – those who reveal certain illegal actions by US government agencies – more than any other in US history. It has used the obscure Espionage Act, a WWI law meant to go after spies, more than all other presidential administrations combined. Similar to George W. Bush, the Obama administration has also been over-classifying documents that deal with US torture, corruption, and imperial misadventures, making it much easier to label and charge so-called enemies of the state.

"The US government is gunning to punish the man responsible for one of the greatest release of classified information in history." Read More

''FBI Agrees to Share Facial Recognition Searches with All Police Departments''

Police departments across the United States will soon have access to facial recognition software developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Under the expanding pilot project, the FBI will provide its Universal Face Workstation to police for free. The program will allow local law enforcement to compare photos of suspects against a repository of nearly 13 million criminal mug shots.

Michigan was the first state to gain access to the software under a pilot project launched earlier this year.

Five other states (Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio and New Mexico) have signed memorandums of understanding with the FBI to use the workstations.

In addition, Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nebraska and Missouri are interested in participating in the program.

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) has expressed some reservations regarding the facial recognition software, saying there is currently no law regulating its use by police. Read More

Tropical Storm Isaac lashes Haiti; Florida under hurricane warning

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Isaac lashed Haiti early Saturday, bringing gale-force winds and potential flooding to a nation where hundreds of thousands still live in tent cities following a 2010 earthquake.

Strong winds and high surf pounded Haiti's coastline as the storm passed over the nation. Forecasters issued a hurricane warning for portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Keys.

By early Saturday morning, Isaac -- with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph -- was 150 southeast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and moving at 14 mph, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. The storm lost power as it passed over Haiti, though it was expected to gain strength as it moved back over open water.

Rainfall accumulations of 8 to 12 inches are expected, with up to 20 inches possible in portions of Hispaniola -- the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Cuba issued a tropical storm warning for its eastern provinces, and the Bahamian government put Andros Island under a hurricane watch, the National Hurricane Center said. Read More