Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mumps cases in north-east England quadruple

Reports of mumps have more than quadrupled in the north-east of England compared to the same time last year, latest figures show.

The Health Protection Agency said 133 cases were diagnosed between April and June compared with 32 in the same period in 2011.

The agency said the number of cases nationally had doubled from 468 to 930.

It warned teenagers and young adults who have not had two doses of MMR vaccine are particularly vulnerable.

Regional head of immunisation Julia Waller said: "While most people recover from mumps within a week, it can still be a very unpleasant disease. Read More

How NASA plans to reach deep space

(Sen) - Human spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit has been brought into focus this weekend following the death of Neil Armstrong, the first human to step foot on the Moon. It is 40 years since a man last walked on the lunar surface and today no government or enterprise operates the technology that can follow in the footsteps of the Apollo astronauts.

However, much exploration of space beyond orbiting stations is planned in the coming years, from private companies seeking to land robots on the Moon and asteroids to China aiming for a manned lunar landing. As for NASA, it has been given a target by President Obama to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s. To acheive this the US space agency is designing a new heavy lift rocket that can transport humans to deep space - including the Moon as well as asteroids and the Red Planet.

The proposed rocket, known as Space Launch System (SLS), passed a major review of its requirements last month, as reported by Sen. SLS, which is being designed with two lift configurations (70 and 130 metric tons), should have the capability to carry the Orion spacecraft, also being developed by NASA, to the Moon and beyond. Read More

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Pray for the destruction of Iran (Wait, what? You mean Israel holds the SAME fanatcism as Iran? ...and the media actually dares to report such a truth?)

Revered rabbi Ovadiah Yosef implored God to “wipe out and destroy” Iran and Hezbollah during his weekly sermon on Saturday night.

This is the second time in a row in which Rabbi Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas movement, has spoken about the threat of Iran’s nuclear program during his post-Sabbath Torah lesson.

It follows a briefing he was given by National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror on the Iranian issue 10 days ago, which was seen as part of an effort from the Prime Minister’s Office to obtain the rabbi’s support for the government’s position on the matter.

Speaking on Saturday night, Yosef talked about the tradition on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, of eating various fruits and vegetables as positive portents for the year ahead.

“When we make the blessing on the dates that ‘our enemies and haters should be ended’ we should have in mind the Iranian regime, those evil people who threaten Israel,” the rabbi said.

“Do good, God, wipe them out, kill them,” he entreated, to which the assembled crowd answered “amen.” more

German Official Opposes European Debt Purchases

FRANKFURT — The president of the German central bank said in an interview published Sunday that he remained staunchly opposed to government bond purchases by the European Central Bank, a position that could make it more difficult to deploy a weapon many economists believe is essential to saving the euro.

But in a sign that the mood in Germany could be shifting, Chancellor Angela Merkel adopted a more dovish tone during a separate interview. She told members of her governing coalition to stop talking about Greece leaving the euro.

“We are in a decisive phase in the battle against the euro zone debt crisis,” Ms. Merkel told ARD television. “Everyone should weigh their words very carefully.”

The comment was another indication that Ms. Merkel is maneuvering away from hard-liners like her former economic adviser, Jens Weidmann, who is now president of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank. Mr. Weidmann said in an interview with the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel that bond purchases by the European Central Bank would be equivalent to printing money to finance governments and that he was against them.

“We should not underestimate the danger,” he said. “Central bank financing can be as addictive as a drug.” Read More

US issued hurricane warning for Gulf coast as Issac approaches

The U.S. National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

Isaac is still a tropical storm with 100 kilometer winds moving past the Florida Keys and heading into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s forecast to intensify to a Category 2 hurricane by the time it reaches the northern Gulf coast by early Wednesday.

It coincides with the 7th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005, killing nearly 2,000 people and causing billions of dollars of damage. Source

Police Hunt For 'Lion On Loose' In Essex

Police have warned residents to stay indoors after a lion was reportedly spotted in fields in Essex.

The large cat, believed to be a lion, was seen in fields off Earls Hall Drive in St Oysth, near Clacton, Essex, just before 7pm yesterday, police said.

Officers from Essex Police have been working with experts from Colchester Zoo who believe the reports to be genuine after being shown a photograph from a member of the public.

However, police said the big cat had not escaped from the zoo, as all its animals had been accounted for.

There have been rumours that it may have escaped from a circus that had been performing in the Essex area, but they are yet to be substantiated.

"We are investigating where it may have came from but it is fairly safe to say that it did not escape from Colchester Zoo," a police spokeswoman said.

Two police helicopters using heat-seeking equipment have been involved in the hunt for the animal, while zoo workers said to be armed with tranquilliser guns have also joined armed officers.

Bernadette Cleere, whose aunt runs the King's Arms pub in St Oysth, told Sky News that when she first heard about the possibility that a lion was on the loose she thought it was "a hoax".

But after speaking to people who live in the area where the sighting took place, she is now taking it seriously. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - 27th August 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE at a depth of 57.1 km (35.5 miles), the quake hit at 00:39:53 UTC Monday 27th August 2012
The epicenter was 129 km (80 miles) East from Antofagasta, Chile
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - 26th August 2012

magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 12.2 km (7.6 miles), the quake hit at 23:33:25 UTC Sunday 26th August 2012
The epicenter was 7 km (4.3 miles) North from Brawley, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake HALMAHERA, INDONESIA - 26th August 2012

magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck HALMAHERA, INDONESIA at a depth of 44.6 km (27.7 miles), the quake hit at 23:06:13 UTC Sunday 26th August 2012
The epicenter was 141 km (87 miles) Northeast of Tobelo, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Legionnaires' kills 2 more, infects 104 in Quebec City

Quebec's public health authority announced that Legionnaires' disease had caused two more deaths and infected two other people since Saturday.

To date, 104 people have contracted the disease in Quebec City since July 31st. So far, eight people have died from complications related to the illness.

The bacteria tends to grow in stagnant water and can be found in cooling towers and fountains.

On Saturday, regional director of public health François Desbiens said 89 cooling towers have been inspected and disinfected in Quebec's Lower Town, an area considered at high risk. It's the oldest part of the city — a long swathe of historic buildings below the famed Chateau Frontenac hotel.

He announced more cooling towers, including the ones that were already cleared, would be inspected and cleaned out on Monday and Tuesday. Authorities have expanded the perimeter and will investigate units outside of the Lower Town.

The crisis was discussed on Saturday during the Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois' daily campaign stops. more

‘Operation Free Assange’: Anonymous take down Interpol website

Hactivist group Anonymous claims to have taken down the websites of Interpol and a British police force as part of a campaign calling for the freedom of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Several Twitter accounts associated with the loose-knit Anonymous collective have announced that the website of International Criminal Police Organization was taken down. The site was unavailable as of 9:18 pm GMT but resumed functioning soon after.

The hackers also claim to have taken down the website of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), a UK police unit responsible for operations against serious and organized crime.

Assange, the founder and editor of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has been ordered by Swedish authorities to be extradited from the UK where he had been under house arrest. Two women from Sweden have accused Assange of sex crimes, although he has yet to be charged.

In fear of being sent to Sweden and then extradited to the US to be tried for his role with WikiLeaks, Assange applied for political asylum in Ecuador, which the Latin American country finally granted him earlier this month.

Regardless, British authorities have refused to give Assange safe passage out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London so that he may travel overseas. more

More than 70 earthquakes hit California border; buildings damaged

More than 70 earthquakes hit Imperial County on Sunday -- including several that registered strong than magnitude 4.0. The strongest measured 5.4.

The USGS's "Do You Feel It" system shows the quakes were felt as far away as San Diego, Temecula and San Clemente. The 5.3 quake was felt in Moreno Valley, Indio, National City and Palm Desert, and in Yuma, Ariz., and Mexico.

A handful of buildings in downtown Brawley had minor damage after an earthquake swarm rattled the area Sunday, officials said. Most of the quakes occurred in and around that California town.

Capt. Jesse Zendejas of the Brawley Fire Department described the damage as "cosmetic" and said it occurred in at least three buildings dating to the 1930s. Crews were still assessing other areas of the city, he said, but no injuries had been reported.

Imperial County firefighters were also assisting in the survey.

The first quake — a magnitude 3.8 temblor, which was downgraded from a 3.9 — occurred at 10:02 a.m. about three miles northwest of Brawley, and was followed by a series of other quakes in the same general area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which may continue to revise the numbers.

Thomas Jordan, director of the USC-based Southern California Earthquake Center, called the activity a "very active swarm" — something not unusual for the southern edge of the San Andreas Fault, which has seen similar occurrences in recent years.

This swarm could continue to rumble the region for a few days, Jordan added. Read More

Iran urges developing nations at summit to oppose sanctions

DUBAI, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Iran's foreign minister urged delegates at a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) developing nations summit on Sunday to oppose sanctions imposed by the West on the Islamic Republic to punish it for its nuclear activities.

Western diplomats have sought to play down the importance of NAM at the start of Iran's three-year presidency of the body set up in 1961 to counter big power domination of international relations.

However, Iran welcomed delegates from the group of 120 developing nations to the meeting it says proves that Washington has failed to isolate it from the rest of the world.

"The non-aligned (movement) must seriously oppose ... unilateral economic sanctions which have been enacted by certain countries against non-aligned countries," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told the summit's opening session.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this and says its nuclear research is for civilian purposes but refuses to curb its nuclear enrichment programme. Read More

'Lion' spotted in a field in Essex

Police in Essex are investigating reports that a lion has been spotted in a field near St Osyth.

Residents have been advised to stay indoors after a large cat, believed to be a lion, was seen in fields off Earls Hall Drive just before 19:00 BST.

Essex police are working with experts from Colchester Zoo who believe the reports to be genuine after being shown a photograph by a member of the public.

Armed police have been drafted into the area, along with uniformed police.

A police helicopter is searching the area where it was spotted and anyone who sees the animal is advised to call 999.

Police said all the animals at Colchester Zoo had been accounted for and they are investigating where the lion may have come from. Source

Hurricane Warning issued for northern Gulf of Mexico coast

(Reuters) - The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for the northern Gulf of Mexico coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle on Sunday.

Isaac is still a tropical storm with 60 mph winds moving past the Florida Keys and headed into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the NHC said in its 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) advisory.

It is forecast to intensify to a Category 2 hurricane by the time it reaches the northern Gulf coast by early Wednesday, the 7th anniversary of hurricane Katrina which struck New Orleans in 2005, killing more than 1,800 people and causing billions of dollars of damage. Source