Wednesday, September 5, 2012

LA Female Bank Worker turned Into A 'Bomb' by Robbers

Police are hunting two gunmen who strapped a "bomb" to a bank manager's stomach as part of a raid.

Authorities in Los Angeles say the pair kidnapped the woman and held her overnight before attaching a device to her body.

The victim - manager at a Bank of America branch in the city - told investigators she was snatched from her Huntingdon Park home on Tuesday evening.

The robbery occurred on Wednesday morning, shortly after the victim was taken to her bank wearing the device.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt Mike Parker told local TV station KTTV-TV that the raiders told the woman that she was wearing explosives. Read More

Alps Shooting: 4 Year old Girl Found Alive Under Bodies

A four-year-old girl has been found alive hidden in a car under the bodies of the victims of a shooting in the French Alps.

Public prosecutor Eric Maillaud told AFP the child was only discovered when investigators gained access to the crime scene, some eight hours after a cyclist happened upon the carnage.

Confirming that the three victims in the BMW were from a family of British holidaymakers, he said: "She was hidden under the bodies for some eight hours and didn't move for the whole time."

The identity of a dead man described as the father of the family has been "almost certainly" established, while two female victims are yet to be formally identified, the Haute-Savoie prosecutor told AFP.

The suspected assassination happened in a forested area near the village of Chevaline, near Lake Annecy, in the Haute-Savoie region.

The male victim was found at the wheel of the car, and the two dead women in the back - apparently covering the girl, four, who survived.

Another young girl was found near the car, and initial reports said she died later from her injuries. A local prosecutor has now said she is in a critical condition in hospital in the city of Grenoble.

The body of a male cyclist was also found nearby. Read More

Costa Rica quake causes panic, minor damage

CANGREJAL, Costa Rica (AP) — A powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake shook Costa Rica and neighboring countries Wednesday, sending panicked people into the streets and briefly triggering a tsunami alert, but causing little damage. Authorities reported one confirmed death.

"When we felt the earthquake, we held onto each other because we kept falling," said Rosa Pichardo, 45, who was walking on the beach in the town of Samara with her family when the quake hit.

"I've never felt anything like this. We just couldn't stay standing. My feet gave out under me. It was terrible, terrible," she said.

Officials said the quake collapsed some houses and at least one bridge and caused landslides that blocked highways. But Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla said there were no reports of major damage and called for calm.

Residents described being shocked by the force of the quake, which was felt as far away as Panama and Nicaragua and was the biggest since a 7.6-magnitude quake in 1991 left 47 people dead. Read More

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA - 6th September 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA at a depth of 58.2 km (36.2 miles), the quake hit at 02:22:18 UTC Thursday 6th September 2012
The epicenter was 184 km (114 miles) ESE of Sarangani, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN IRAN - 6th September 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN IRAN at a depth of 39.6 km (24.6 miles), the quake hit at 01:57:14 UTC Thursday 6th September 2012
The epicenter was 224 km (139 miles) West from Bandar-e Abbas, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

3.7 Magnitude Earthquake YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING - 5th September 2012

A magnitude 3.7 earthquake has struck YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING at a depth of 7.3 km (4.5 miles), the quake hit at 22:52:51 UTC Wednesday 5th September 2012
The epicenter was 19 km (12 miles) Northeast from West Yellowstone, MT
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF ADEN - 5th September 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the GULF OF ADEN at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:36:33 UTC Wednesday 5th September 2012
The epicenter was 152 km (94 miles) Southeast of Zinjibar, Yemen
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Brazil surpasses United States as country allowing greatest upward mobility

Not so long ago there was a widespread belief that the United States was the world’s best destination for achieving upward mobility–an aspiration that became known as “the American dream.”

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries this really seems to be true.

But no longer.

Today, the world’s most valuable passport on the black market is not the US, but the Brazilian.

Not only has Brazil been growing at an average rate of 5% while the US economy flat lines, but Brazil seems to have much more scope for growth in the future. Brazil is the world’s largest tropical country, with an incredible bounty of untapped resources. For one thing, in a parched world, Brazil is the new superpower of water. The Economist magazine put it this way, “according to the UN’s 2009 World Water Assessment, Brazil has more than 8000 billion cubic kilometers of renewable water each year, easily more than any other country.” For reference, there are 264 billion gallons in a cubic kilometer. So 8000 billion (or 8 trillion) cubic kilometers is a lot of water.

Thirty five years ago, Brazil was importing food. Today, it is the world’s largest exporter of 5 major crops, as well as of beef and chicken. Brazilian scientists have engineered new, short-cycle tropical versions of temperate crops like soybeans and corn. These mature 8 to 12 weeks faster than the original temperate versions, making it possible for Brazilian farmers to produce two crops a year rather than one as in the United States.

By 2002, the overall average yield for soybeans in Brazil (2.6 tons/hectare) surpassed the average yield in the United States (2.4 tons/hectare). More significantly, the cost of producing soybeans in Brazil fell to about $6 23 per 60 kg bag, just 50% of the US level of $11 72.

While no one apart from a few professional investors was watching, Brazil has quietly surpassed the United States as the world’s leading venue for upward mobility. With a population just two-thirds the size of the US, Brazil has created over 15 million jobs over the past 8 years while the US lost millions of jobs. Combining energy independence and vast natural resources, including 60% of the world’s unused arable land and 25% of its freshwater, Brazil is the world’s first tropical superpower, offering a whole new frontier of growth.

"While no one apart from a few professional investors was watching, Brazil has quietly surpassed the United States as the world’s leading venue for upward mobility.” more

Thousands of sex offenders roam free as arrest rate falls: South Korea (and likely everywhere else)

The authorities failed to arrest the suspects in more than 9,000 cases of sexual assault between 2007 and 2011, data showed Wednesday.

According to National Police Agency data, 81,860 sex crimes including rape were investigated during the five-year period.

However, law enforcement authorities failed to arrest the attacker in 9,189 or 11.2 percent of the cases.

Observers point out that with the majority of sexual assaults having been committed by a single attacker, there may be more than 9,000 sex offenders free in the population.

Of the 16,404 sexual assault cases that led to an arrest last year, 15,618 cases were committed by a single attacker.

The data also showed that both the number of sexual assault cases and the proportion of unresolved cases have increased significantly from 2007 to 2011.

In 2007, 13,396 cases of sexual assault were investigated, and 90.5 percent of the cases resulted in the arrest of the suspect.

In 2011, however, 19,498 cases were investigated but the arrest rate fell to 84.1 percent.

The number of cases involving minors increased at a much higher rate over the same period.

In 2007, 857 sexual assault cases involving minors were investigated. Of the total, 46 or about 5.3 percent of the cases did not result in an arrest.

In comparison, 2,054 cases of sexual assault against minors were reported in 2011, of which 139 cases remain unresolved. more

Thoughts: *Wooshing sound of a rapidly descending butcher's knife*

New highly toxic avian flu virus spreads to Vietnam

A new strain of avian flu virus that was found in China two months ago has appeared in Vietnam, health experts have confirmed.

Localities warned against new bird flu outbreaks

The new strain, 2.3.2.1 C, which has been detected through epidemic investigations, is highly toxic and therefore extremely deadly, Diep Kinh Tan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said at a meeting on September 4 to review the epidemic situation.

The 2.3.2.1 C strain has recently spread to Vietnam and is now present in affected areas in seven provinces and cities, namely Haiphong, Ha Tinh, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh, Bac Kan, Thanh Hoa and Quang Ngai, said Hoang Van Nam, head of the Department of Animal Health (DoAH).

As the new strain is different from the A/H5N1 virus, the ministry is to conduct experiments and tests to confirm if the vaccines that are being used to combat A/H5N1 are also effective against the new strain. Read More

Chinese Man 'swallows $13000 diamond' at Sri Lanka gem exhibition

A Chinese visitor to a gem exhibition in Sri Lanka has been arrested for swallowing a diamond said to be worth $13,000 (about £8,200), police say.

The 32-year-old man swallowed the gem after taking it from a display cabinet as the annual exhibition opened on Wednesday in the capital, Colombo.

"He... appeared to be appraising it and suddenly put it in his mouth," an unnamed police officer told AFP.

He said the man was taken to hospital to be given laxatives.

It is not yet clear whether the diamond has been recovered from the man, who was also arrested for attempted theft. Read More

Netanyahu mulls a Six-Day War surprise

The fog of war has fallen so densely over Iran and the Middle East that it is hard to say for certain whether the latest developments are a sign that one is imminent (in the form of an Israeli strike in the next two months) or that the timetable for a confrontation has been pushed back until the spring and summer of 2013. In the latter case, it is still possible that negotiations would eventually prevail, but this is far from guaranteed or even likely.

All of a sudden, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dropping hints left and right that it is willing to postpone action against the Iranian nuclear program. On Tuesday, it announced a number of new high-level military appointments which had previously been delayed amid the war preparations. As a prominent Israeli analyst put it, "You don't appoint a brand new operations chief when you're about to go to war."

On Monday, moreover, Netanyahu said that "the clearer the red line drawn before Iran by the international community, the smaller the chance of a conflict". He made this statement in the context of a New York Times report that United States President Barack Obama was considering making public his proverbial red line on Iran and authorizing a whole new range of secret operations in an effort to assuage the Israelis, [2] and his words were widely interpreted as willingness to back down.

Under massive pressure both at home and abroad - the daily Ha'aretz reported last week that even German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Netanyahu recently to discuss this - it is conceivable that the Israeli prime minister and his influential defense minister, Ehud Barak, have changed their minds about the urgency of a military operation. Read More

Blaze at India fireworks factory kills at least 40

NEW DELHI (AP) — A massive blaze raged for hours at a fireworks factory in southern India, killing at least 40 workers and injuring 60 Wednesday, police said.

Large amounts of firecrackers and raw materials had been stored in the Om Siva Shakti factory with major Hindu festivals weeks away.
Police officer Najmul Huda said rescue workers and firefighters initially could not get into the building as the fire raged, triggering deafening explosions of firecrackers.

Workers fled the area, but many were killed as they waited at a nearby warehouse which also caught fire and exploded, Huda told reporters.

The Press Trust of India news agency said that about 300 people were working in the factory and 52 died.

Huda said authorities had suspended the factory's license a day earlier after finding major safety violations. The management, however, operated the factory illegally on Wednesday, he said. Read More

Costa Rica Earthquake Update

A powerful earthquake has shaken the north-west of Costa Rica killing at least one person.

A 55-year-old woman died of a heart attack near the epicentre of the quake, the Red Cross said.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.6-magnitude quake occurred beneath the Nicoya peninsula, 140km (87 miles) west of the capital, San Jose.

A tsunami alert issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has been cancelled.

The quake rattled buildings in some parts of the capital, San Jose, Reuters news agency reported.

Power and communications were briefly knocked out, according to the Costa Rican authorities.

Regional media reported the quake could be felt as far away as Nicaragua and El Salvador. Read More

Richard Henry Bain IDed as Suspect in Quebec election rally shooting

MONTREAL (AP) — Police on Wednesday interrogated a man accused of opening fire at a midnight victory rally for Quebec's new separatist premier, but police said the suspect's rambling statements in French and English yielded no immediate motive for the shooting that killed one.

A police official identified the suspect as Richard Henry Bain, 62, from La Conception, Quebec. The police official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the suspect has not been charged yet.

Quebec provincial police earlier Wednesday said a masked gunman wearing a bathrobe opened fire just outside the building where Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois was giving her victory speech.

The gunman was heard shouting "The English are waking up!" in French as police dragged him away.

Marois was whisked off the stage by guards while giving her speech and was not injured. Read More

Gunman Kills 1 at Canadian Rally - Video

French police find four shot dead, rush 7 year old girl to hospital following suspected assassination

Four people have been shot dead in the French Alps - with three of them found inside a British-registered BMW four-wheel drive.

The suspected assassination happened in a forest car park near the village of Chevaline, near Lake Annecy, in the Haute-Savoie region.

Three adults were found dead inside the vehicle, which had UK licence plates. A man was found at the wheel, and two women in the back.

A young girl was found near the car, and initial reports said she died later from her injuries. A local prosecutor has now said she is in a critical condition in hospital in the city of Grenoble.

The body of a cyclist was also found nearby.

The girl is believed to be around seven-years-old and was shot at least three times, according to reports quoting police sources.

The four bodies were riddled with bullets in what looked like a "deliberate assassination", the reports added. Read More

Powerful quake hits Costa Rica

Sept. 5 - A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake rocked Costa Rica, rattling buildings, cutting power in areas of the capital and triggering a tsunami warning.

Syrian rebels down jet in Idlib

Sept 5 - Rebels claim to have shot down a fighter jet and killed the pilot as refugees in Turkey lament the growing violence with no end in sight. Jessica Gray reports

ECB keeps investors on tenterhooks

Sept. 5 - Markets are transfixed by what Mario Draghi will unveil at Thursday's policy meeting. Commerzbank's Peter Dixon expects some outlines on a bond-buying programme, but few details

Massive solar flare delivers Earth a glancing blow

Sep. 5 - NASA's orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has recorded more spectacular activity in the Sun's atmosphere, with a solar flare whipping half a million miles into space, and sending a cloud of electrically charged particles in Earth's direction. Rob Muir has more.

Costa Rica Earthquake: People gather in front of the Supreme Court after being evacuated from Buidlings

(Reuters) - A powerful earthquake rocked Costa Rica on Wednesday, rattling buildings, cutting power in areas of the capital and triggering a tsunami warning, though there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Residents of San Jose said phones went down, electricity poles rattled on the streets and water flowed out of pools after the 7.6-magnitude quake, but Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla said on her official Twitter account that there are no reports of loss of life or structural damage so far.

Locals were shocked by the force of the quake.

"I was inside my car at a stop sign and all the sudden everything started shaking. I thought the street was going to break in two," said Erich Johanning, a 30-year-old who works in Internet marketing in San Jose. "Immediately I saw dozens of people running out of their homes and office buildings."

The quake caused some damage to buildings and infrastructure but nothing major, local authorities said. There were no immediate signs that the event had sparked a tsunami. Read More

Three adults in a UK car are found shot dead in France - with the body of a cyclist found nearby and a young girl seriously hurt.

Four people have been shot dead in the French Alps - with three of them found inside a British-registered BMW.

The bodies were found in a forest car park near the village of Chevaline, near Annecy lake, in Haute-Savoie.

Three adults were found dead inside the four-wheel drive vehicle, which had UK licence plates.

A man was found at the wheel, and two women in the back.

A teenage girl was found near the car, and initial reports said she died later from her injuries.

A local prosecutor has now said she is in a critical condition in hospital.

The body of a cyclist was also found nearby.

All five had been shot, and a number of shell casings were found at the scene.

The website of regional newspaper Le Dauphine Libere said the gruesome scene was discovered by another cyclist who is in shock.

There are 60 police officers involved in the operation, and the nearby area has been sealed off as investigations continue.

A Foreign Office spokesman: "We are aware of the reports of the shooting and we are looking into these urgently."

More follows...

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN ALASKA - 5th September 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN ALASKA at a depth of 84.4 km (52.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:16:04 UTC Wednesday 5th September 2012
The epicenter was 49 km (30 miles) WNW from Clam Gulch, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Quebec activists revive Canada separatism

Voters in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec on Tuesday elected the nominally separatist Parti Quebecois to lead a minority provincial government.

In recent years, a new generation of separatists have joined the Quebec sovereignty movement.

Like their elders, the young separatist Quebecois are keen to defend their French language and heritage from the English-speaking Canadian majority. But they also reject Ottawa policy on issues like climate change, military spending and education.

The BBC spoke to separatists and student leaders in Montreal to find out why young bilingual activists and student leaders support the cause. Source

Four Shot Dead In UK Car In France, Fifth Person Shot near the Car

Five people have been shot dead in France - with four of them found inside a British-registered car.

The bodies were found in a car park on the outskirts of a forest near Chevaline, near Annecy lake, in Haute-Savoie.

Three adults were found dead in a four-wheel drive vehicle, which had UK plates.

A teenager was found alive inside the car, but died later in hospital.

The body of a cyclist was also found nearby.

More follows...

Massed US, UK, French navies for drill simulating breach of blocked Hormuz

The third US aircraft carrier, USS Stennis, is moving into place off the Iranian Gulf coast to lead a 12-day naval exercise of 25 nations on Sept 16-27, that will include a large-scale minesweeping drill simulating the breaching of the Strait of Hormuz against Iranian efforts to block oil passage through the strategic waterway. President Barack Obama may see Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the last day of the exercise. He hopes to present him with proof of US readiness for military action against Iran and demonstrate that an Israeli strike is superfluous.

The Stennis will join two other aircraft carriers, the USS Enterprise and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, and their strike groups, which are already on operational duty off the coast of Iran, ready for the drill which kicks off in the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Sept. 16.

US officials say the Stennis will replace the Enterprise, but according to debkafile’s military and Washington sources all three carriers will remain in place opposite Iran in the Gulf region in the coming months. British and French warships are completing their transfer to new stations off Iran for the big exercise in which the Saudi and United Arab Emirates navies will also take part.

In addition to practicing tactics for keeping the Strait of Hormuz open, the exercise will simulate operations for destroying Iranian naval, air and missile bases in the Persian Gulf area. more

Man dressed as 'The Joker' arrested at movie theater

A man dressed as The Joker walked into a Brevard County movie theater on Wednesday and was arrested, WFTV reporter Kevin Oliver learned.

A movie-goer at the Premiere Oaks Theater called police after seeing 21-year-old Christopher Sides in full Joker makeup and with bright red hair.

There were no weapons found on Sides, police said.

Authorities said Sides was arrested due to an outstanding warrant against him. source

Thoughts: Once again, just like the James Holmes case, a peculiar piece of information emerges. Both men were apparently "dressed like the joker". However, both men had "bright red hair", and yet the Joker character doesn't have red hair, he has green hair. Why this is being overlooked, and why this is all being associated with "Batman" is strange indeed.

Strikers march at South Africa's Marikana mine

(Reuters) - More than 3,000 striking South African miners marched through streets near Lonmin's Marikana mine on Wednesday, the largest protest at the hot spot since police shot dead 34 of their colleagues last month.

Police armed with tear gas and assault rifles deployed armored vehicles and helicopters to keep an eye on the stick-waving protesters.

It was the strongest show of police force since the immediate aftermath of the August 16 shooting, the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.

One man at the front of the column waved a placard reading "We want 12,500 or nothing else", a reference to the group's demand for a hike in base pay to 12,500 rand ($1,500) a month, more than double their current salary. Read More

Bomb scare near U.S. embassy in Brussels a false alarm

(Reuters) - A bomb scare which forced an evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Brussels and the Belgian Defence Ministry on Wednesday turned out to be a false alarm, police said.

Hundreds of U.S. diplomats and ministry employees were evacuated from their buildings after a suspicious minivan was noticed parked nearby.

After around 45 minutes, during which major avenues of central Brussels were gridlocked with traffic, a bomb squad declared the vehicle safe and police gave the all clear.

Ilse Van de Keere, a police spokeswoman, said officers on a routine patrol were suspicious of the vehicle because it carried reproduction number-plates and had wires hanging loose inside.

A bomb disposal unit was called but discovered nothing suspect. Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN TURKEY - 5th September 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck WESTERN TURKEY at a depth of 7 km (4.3 miles), the quake hit at 15:49:03 UTC Wednesday 5th September 2012
The epicenter was 16 km (9.9 miles) South of KirkagaƧ, Turkey
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Citing leak, Netanyahu disbands security cabinet meeting

TEL AVIV (JTA) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disbanded a meeting of his security cabinet after information from the previous cabinet meeting was leaked to the press.

Netanyahu ended Wednesday’s meeting early, citing a leak that led to a report in the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot that Tuesday’s security cabinet meeting included conflicting views on the deadline for a possible attack on Iran’s alleged nuclear program.

The security cabinet is made up of 14 government ministers and discusses issues of Israeli national security.

“The security of the state and its citizens depends on the ability to hold confidential and in-depth discussions in the security cabinet,” read a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. “There, all the facts are shown, all opinions and all implications. This is a basic work tool in managing state security. Yesterday, somebody severely undermined the confidence that Israeli citizens give to this forum.”

The statement did not say when the next meeting would be, nor did it identify the leak. Read More

Costa Rica Earthquake biggest Since 1991

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake rocked Costa Rica on Wednesday, rattling buildings and cutting power in some areas of the capital.

Residents of San Jose said phones went down, electricity poles rattled and water flowed out of pools during the quake.

"It was terrible. I was on the third floor, I had never felt anything like it," said Stephanie Gonzalez, a 25-year-old masters student.

The quake's epicenter was in western Costa Rica about 87 miles from San Jose, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, and it was felt as far away as Managua, the capital of neighboring Nicaragua.

"It was very strong, everyone is getting out because of the tsunami alert," said a worker at the Samara Tree House Inn on Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for Pacific coastlines of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. It had earlier warned of tsunamis for as far away as Mexico and Chile.

It was the biggest earthquake in Costa Rica since a 7.6 quake in 1991 left 47 dead. More recently, 40 died in a 6.1 magnitude quake in January 2009. Read More

Al Jazeera Hacked

Doha - Al Jazeera news network said on Wednesday a number of its websites had been hacked, and Internet users reported that pro-Syrian regime slogans were posted on the broadcaster's pages.

The main Arab satellite news channel said the host company of its websites came under a cyber attack which “caused readers wanting to access Al Jazeera websites to be diverted to other pages not linked to us.”

“The company is working on fixing the problem and has succeeded in restoring Al Jazeera websites gradually, but completing the job will take some time,” a spokesman for the channel said in a statement.

Internet reports said that the websites of the Qatar-owned network appeared with a Syrian flag along with the word “Hack” and a message saying the piracy was in “response to the hostile position of the channel towards Syria, its people and government.” Read More