Friday, September 7, 2012

Yangtze River Turns Blood Red in Chongqing, China (Possibly due to gross pollution levels)

Red Spider Plague Threatens Colombian Coffee

Mount Fuji, Japan: Experts Warn Of Volcanic Eruption (While government does little to nothing... sound familiar?)

North Israel on "high alert" as "unusual military movements spotted" by Syrian and Hezbollah units


Details forthcoming.

The Coming Crisis is closely monitoring this situation and may issue an alert at any time should events escalate.

Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades

Turkish army officers have assumed direct command of the first two Syrian rebel brigades fighting Bashar Assad’s government forces, according to debkafile’s exclusive sources. This step has sent military tensions rocketing on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon in case of a backlash.

The rebel North Liberators Brigade in the Idlib region of northern Syria and the Tawhid Brigade fighting in the Al-Bab area northeast of Aleppo are now taking their operational orders from Turkish officers, who exercise their authority from headquarters outside Syria in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. Nonetheless, Turkey is considered to have stepped directly into the Syrian conflict marking the onset of foreign intervention.

Western and Arab military circles in the Middle East expect Turkey to extend its command to additional rebel units – not all of them part of the Free Syrian Army.

This first step has already caused waves. more

Iran sends elite troops to aid Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria

Iran is intensifying its support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad by sending 150 senior Revolutionary Guards commanders to Syria to help repel opposition attempts to overthrow the government.

Western intelligence officials say that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has personally sanctioned the dispatch of the experienced officers to ensure that the Assad regime, Iran's most important regional ally, survives the threat to its survival.

In addition, Iran has shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment, including guns, rockets, and shells, to Syria through the regular air corridor that has been established between Damascus and Tehran.

Intelligence officials believe the increased Iranian support has been responsible for the growing effectiveness of the Assad regime's tactics in forcing anti-government rebel groups on the defensive.

In the past few weeks, pro-Assad forces have seized the offensive by launching a series of well-coordinated attacks against rebel strongholds in Damascus and Aleppo.

The Iranian operation to support Mr Assad is being masterminded by Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Guards' Quds force which is responsible for overseeing Iran's overseas operations. The decision to increase Iran's support for Syria was taken after the Syrian defence minister and Assad's brother-in-law were killed in a suicide bomb attack at Syria's national security headquarters in July, together with a number of other senior defence officials. more

Chen Jianxue: Chinese bank manager hides in a cave for eight years after siphoning funds

The first instinct of any bank robber is to head for the hills, but few stay there for as long as Chen Jianxue, a former deputy branch manager of the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC).

Mr Chen, 42, was already a prosperous businessman in 1995 when he was given a golden ticket: a job at one of China's largest state-owned banks.

Like many others before him, he quickly took advantage, quietly siphoning off money and buying his own discotheque, supermarket, shrimp farm and plastics factory.

Investigators also later confiscated a five-story building he owned in downtown Lingao, and his seven luxury cars.

In 2003, however, a routine check exposed the 23 million yuan (£2.3 million) he had stolen, reportedly with the co-operation of most of the branch's 34 other employees.

Mr Chen, who had spent time in the army, was forced to go on the run, and disappeared into the nearby hills. more

Saad al Hilli's Brother Denies Conflict

The brother of a British computer engineer shot dead in the French Alps has denied being in dispute with the dead man, police said.

Saad al Hilli, 50, was slumped over the wheel of his bullet-riddled BMW in an isolated woodland car park near Lake Annecy. The bodies of his dentist wife Iqbal, 47, and an older Swedish woman were found in the back.

The couple's four-year-old daughter Zeena laid undiscovered under her mother's body for eight hours, while her seven-year-old sister Zainab is in an induced coma after being shot and beaten.

The body of a French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, who apparently stumbled across the attack, was found nearby. Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL CALIFORNIA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck CENTRAL CALIFORNIA at a depth of 8.4 km (5.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:23:48 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) SSE from Huron, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL CALIFORNIA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck CENTRAL CALIFORNIA at a depth of 11.1 km (6.9 miles), the quake hit at 13:22:10 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) SSE from Huron, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Canada closes embassy in Iran, expels Iranian diplomats

Canada has suspended diplomatic relations with Iran and is expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced in a statement today.

"Canada has closed its embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared personae non gratae all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada," Baird said in a statement. Those diplomats must leave within five days.

"Canada’s position on the regime in Iran is well known. Canada views the Government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today."

The statement cited Iran's support for the Assad regime in Syria and failure to comply with UN resolutions on its nuclear program, and its threats against Israel.

The statement also makes reference to Iran's "blatant disregard" of the Vienna Convention that guarantees the protection of diplomatic personnel. more

Thoughts: *Meanwhile, Obama sticks out his tongue in steadfast focus as he manipulates the joysticks on an RC remote control*

Record 88,921,000 Americans ‘Not in Labor Force’—119,000 Fewer Employed in August Than July

The number of Americans whom the U.S. Department of Labor counted as “not in the civilian labor force” in August hit a record high of 88,921,000.

The Labor Department counts a person as not in the civilian labor force if they are at least 16 years old, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and have not actively looked for a job in the last four weeks. The department counts a person as in “the civilian labor force” if they are at least 16, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and either do have a job or have actively looked for one in the last four weeks.

In July, there were 155,013,000 in the U.S. civilian labor force. In August that dropped to 154,645,000—meaning that on net 368,000 people simply dropped out of the labor force last month and did not even look for a job.

There were also 119,000 fewer Americans employed in August than there were in July. In July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 142,220,000 Americans working. But, in August, there were only 142,101,000 Americans working. more

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake HALMAHERA, INDONESIA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck HALMAHERA, INDONESIA at a depth of 166.5 km (103.5 miles), the quake hit at 12:30:31 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 84 km (52 miles) NNE of Tobelo, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Clinton brush off marks new Sino-US rivalry

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to China highlighted the challenges inherent in the world's most important bilateral relationship. There are now serious areas of contention between China and the United States. 

As China continues her rapid progress towards replacing the United States as the world's largest economy, the entire dynamic of the global political system is experiencing momentous changes, often to the detriment of American influence.

Both China and the United States must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of past global powers. The risks intrinsic to open confrontation between two economically integrated, technologically advanced nations are simply too high. It is in the



interest of both nations, as well as the entire human race, for Sino-American rivalry to remain on friendly terms. Fortunately, despite tough talk on both sides, the fundamental economic and military realities point to long-term balance and a competitive stability.

An example of China's increased international assertiveness was on full display during Secretary Clinton's visit. During their joint news conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi harshly rebutted Clinton's previous assertion that China and Russia are "on the wrong side of history" because of their opposition to United Nations sanctions against the Syrian government: Read More

U.S. Militarism In Africa: Humanitarian Missions Or Imperialist Aggression?

Unbeknownst to the majority of people in the United States, the Pentagon is directing increased attention to the African continent. The formation of the United States Africa Command (Africom) in 2008 signaled this trend which had been developing for at least a decade.

This should not be surprising considering the history of the U.S. and its European antecedents. Since the mid-15th century Western European nations have been involved with Africa through the Atlantic Slave Trade and later the colonization of the continent. The profitability of the colonies of the Western hemisphere is directly related to the exploitation of African labor.

Although the official history of the U.S. prides itself on the notions of freedom of the individual, the capacity for reforms and amendments to the constitution, there is also the resistance to change embedded deeply in the fabric of political culture, law and the economic structures of society. The slave system in the U.S. was introduced by the British colonialists during the second decade of the 17th century in Virginia.

From the time of 1619 to 1865, some two-and-one-half centuries, slavery was a profitable economic system that provided the wealth and technology that sprung America to the industrial position that it occupied during the latter decades of the 19th century. By the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the so-called Spanish-American war would usher in a new era of imperialism that became increasingly dominated by the United States.

With specific reference to the economic system of slavery and its justification within the American legal system, African American historian W.E.B. DuBois wrote in his seminal work on the failure of Reconstruction in the aftermath of the civil war, that “Negro slaves in America represented the worst and lowest conditions among modern laborers.” (Black Reconstruction in America, 1935) Read More

Why is Putin stockpiling gold?

I can’t imagine it means anything cheerful that Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, is stockpiling gold as fast as he can get his hands on it.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.

It emerged last month that financial gurus George Soros and John Paulson had also increased their bullion exposure, but it’s Putin that’s really caught my eye.

No one else in the world plays global power politics as ruthlessly as Russia’s chilling strongman, the man who effectively stole a Super Bowl ring from Bob Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, when they met in Russia some years ago.

Putin’s moves may matter to your finances, because there are two ways to look at gold.

On the one hand, it’s an investment that by most modern standards seems to make no sense. It generates no cash flow and serves no practical purpose. Warren Buffett has pointed out that we dig it out of one hole in the ground only to stick it in another, and anyone watching this from Mars would be very confused.

You can forget claims that it’s “real” money. There’s no such thing. Money is just an accounting device, a way of keeping track of how much each of us produces and consumes. Gold is a shiny and somewhat tacky looking metal that is malleable, durable and heavy. A recent research paper by Duke University’s Campbell Harvey and co-author Claude Erb raised serious questions about most of the arguments in favor of gold as an investment. Read More

Chris Hedges a Pulitzer Prize Journalist Warns of Physical Roundups Under Obama

Catherine Austin Fitts: Depopulate or Bankrupt the Rest of Us

West "adventure" in Syria may backfire in face of the world by WW3

Thousands of Greeks protest pay cuts

Thousands of Greek police, firefighters and coast guard officers have protested against planned pay cuts under a new austerity package.

Thousands of police have marched through Athens, chanting "thieves, thieves" and carrying black flags, to oppose planned pay cuts under a huge new austerity package meant to save Greece from defaulting on its mountain of debt.

The 4000 protesters, who also included firefighters and coast guard officers, lit flares, blared spray-can horns, and set up mock gallows outside parliament.

The peaceful anti-government demonstration came amid deepening social gloom as official figures showed Greece's unemployment rate surged to 24.4 per cent in June, with more than 1.2 million people out of work, many of them youths.

It was the latest in a string of protests against the new austerity package for 2013-14, demanded by rescue creditors from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. Read More

ECB euro plan will force Spanish loan - HSBC

Sept. 7 - Spain's 10-year borrowing costs fall below 6% after the ECB announces a new bond buying programme, but HSBC's Daragh Maher says Madrid will have to ask for more help if it is to keep yields down.

Rebels Bomb Placed outside Damascus mosque kills 5 security personnel: Syria TV

(Reuters) - A blast outside a mosque in Syria's capital on Friday killed five security personnel and wounded several others, state television said.

Syria TV said the blast was caused by an explosives-rigged motorcycle in the neighborhood of Rukn al-Din in central Damascus. Source

What happens if the German Constitutional Court

Stage set for euro rescue but will Spain jump and at what cost?

(Reuters) - European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has delivered a roadmap for rescuing the euro zone from potential meltdown but the onus is now on Spain to swallow its pride and apply for help to bring down crippling borrowing costs.

Draghi met or exceeded market expectations by announcing on Thursday that the ECB was ready to buy unlimited amounts of bonds of up to three-year maturity of countries that request a European bailout and fulfill strict policy conditions.

The Italian ECB chief asserted his authority by isolating dissent from Germany's Bundesbank, which publicly criticized the decision, while maintaining pressure on euro zone governments to pursue budget discipline and economic reforms.

However, his escape route from the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis, which has raged since early 2010, hinges on Madrid requesting assistance, which Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy still seems to be wriggling to avoid or delay. Read More

Saudi cyber attack: Insiders suspected

(Reuters) - One or more insiders with high-level access are suspected of assisting the hackers who damaged some 30,000 computers at Saudi Arabia's national oil company last month, sources familiar with the company's investigation say.

The attack using a computer virus known as Shamoon against Saudi Aramco - the world's biggest oil company - is one of the most destructive cyber strikes conducted against a single business.

Shamoon spread through the company's network and wiped computers' hard drives clean. Saudi Aramco says damage was limited to office computers and did not affect systems software that might hurt technical operations.

The hackers' apparent access to a mole, willing to take personal risk to help, is an extraordinary development in a country where open dissent is banned. Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 16.8 km (10.4 miles), the quake hit at 10:43:07 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 48 km (29 miles) ESE of Santiago, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Scientists set to drill two miles into Antarctic ice in search for ancient lifeforms

A British team is set to drill nearly two miles into the Antarctic ice in a search for life unseen for half a million years.

Described as 'one of the most ambitious scientific missions' ever undertaken on the frozen continent, scientists intent to drill into an ancient lake buried beneath the ice.

They hope that the secrets of Lake Ellsworth on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could include clues about the Earth's past climate and also new life forms which would have been isolated within the lake for half a million years

If life does exist it would provide evidence that it can thrive in the harshest environments - even extraterrestrial conditions, the team say.

The drilling is scheduled to go ahead in December after 16 years of planning, with researchers working in -25C temperatures and windspeeds averaging 25 knots.

The engineers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) will use a state-of-the-art titanium water-sampling probe and a sediment corer capable of being lowered down a three kilometer borehole in the ice made by a custom-built hot-water drill. Read More

Drew Peterson is found GUILTY of murdering his third wife - so will he now face trial for killing his fourth wife too?

The families of Drew Peterson's third and fourth wives were jubilant when the jury handed down the guilty verdict on Thursday, finally putting to rest the five-year legal saga that began after the swaggering former Illinois police officer's fourth wife vanished.

Peterson was convicted of killing third wife Kathleen Savio, and now the family of his fourth wife Stacy - who has been missing since 2007 - will be pushing to have him convicted for her murder as well.

The retired police officer, 58, sat stoically as the verdict was read, pronouncing him guilty of murdering his third wife Kathleen Savio. He faces a maximum 60-year prison term when sentenced on November 26. Illinois has no death penalty.

'Good job,' he said to his lawyers grimly after hearing his fate.

On his way out of the courtroom, the prosecution attorney heard him say 'What can you do when the deck is stacked?' Read More

Mark Edward Brown 'stalked and murdered rival' three weeks after he was released from jail because it was TOO CROWDED

An Oregon man who was arrested for allegedly stalking and murdering his rival in a parking lot was only on the streets because he had been released from jail because there wasn't enough space to hold him.

Mark Edward Brown, 41, had been arrested in Salem three weeks prior to the brutal slaying on methamphetamine charges. He also had two outstanding warrants.

However, just hours after his arrest August 11, he was released without bond because the Marion County Jail was over-crowded.

The jail hold 405 people and due to budget cuts, it has been at capacity almost every day this year, ABC News reports.

'The way that the people are released is through a system of evaluating the potential threat to the public,' Lt Gerry Adcock of the Marion County Jail told ABC. 'That would be type of crime, the past criminal history and the potential for additional crime.

'At the time we had 405 persons in custody in our jail, and that's at maximum. And so when he (Brown) was released, there were 405 people who had a higher potential threat than he did for the crime that he was brought in on, which was possession charge. Read More

Mac on... Burglars being 'courageous'

'I've always longed to do something brave and courageous. So would you mind awfully telling me where you keep the silver?' Source

Alps Killings: 'No Clues' From Terrified Girl

Police will have to proceed gently with a traumatised four-year-old who witnessed her family being shot, experts tell Sky News.

A four-year-old girl who witnessed her family being brutally killed in France has been unable to offer clues about the killer's identity.

Experts have told Sky News that Saad al Hilli's daughter Zaina, who lived with her parents in Surrey, will be so distressed it will be difficult for police to extract an accurate picture of events.

Police have begun to question Zaina, one of the two surviving members of the family shot in the French Alps.

She was found cowering under her mother's skirt in the passenger seat of the family's bullet-riddled BMW car. She had been hiding there - possibly in shock - for eight hours.

Her seven-year-old sister Zehab was found nearby with severe head injuries and a bullet wound to her shoulder. Both remain under armed guard. Read More

China Double Earthquake leaves at least 43 Dead and widespread Destruction

At least 43 people have been killed after two shallow earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.6 struck southwest China on Friday.

Some 150 people were injured and 100,000 made homeless when the quakes hit the border of southwestern Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.

Around 20,000 houses collapsed or were damaged during the tremors, a statement by the public affairs bureau in Yunnan's Zhaotong city said.

The US Geological Survey said the first quake struck at 11.20am local time at a depth of around 10km (six miles), with a second quake around an hour later. Both had a magnitude of 5.6.

Local television footage showed Yiliang, a badly-hit town, strewn with debris and rocks, and people gathering on the streets in panic.

Some described how people ran out of buildings screaming as the quake hit. Read More

Andrew Hall pleads guilty to the Killing of Megan-Leigh Peat

A promising footballer has pleaded guilty to the murder of his 15-year-old girlfriend.

Andrew Hall, 18, admitted stabbing Megan-Leigh Peat multiple times in the head and body at a mutual friend's house.

Megan, from Westoning, Bedfordshire, died at the house in nearby Ampthill at around 1.30am on June 9 from her injuries and severe blood loss.

Hall, who suffered injuries to his hands, was a scholar at Stoke City academy at the time of the murder, and the court heard he was on the brink of signing a professional player with the club.

Hall will be sentenced at Luton Crown Court later on Friday.

More follows...

CIA delivered Gaddafi Libyan rebels for 'torture' and waterboarding was 'more widespread than agency will admit'

The U.S. handed opponents of Colonel Gaddafi over to Libya with only thin 'diplomatic assurances' that they would not be mistreated - and several were subsequently tortured in prison, a human rights group has claimed.

The damning report from Human Rights Watch paints a more complete picture of Washington's close cooperation with the regime of Libya's former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The report also says waterboarding at CIA-run prisons was more widespread than has been acknowledged.

New details of brutal treatment by Bush-era interrogators included how terror suspects were not allowed to bathe for periods of up to three months.

The 154-page Human Rights Watch report features interviews by the New York-based group with 14 Libyan dissident exiles. They describe systematic abuses while they were held in U.S.-led detention centers in Afghanistan – some for as long as two years – or in U.S.-led interrogations in Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, Sudan and elsewhere before the Americans handed them over to Libya.

‘Not only did the U.S. deliver (Gaddafi) his enemies on a silver platter, but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first, said Laura Pitter, counterterrorism adviser at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

‘The scope of the Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged,’ she said. Read More

Yue Yue's Killer is just jailed for THREE years ... while the EIGHTEEN people who left child dying go unpunished

European judges attempt to overturn decision by MEPs to cut down on number of days spent travelling from Brussels to Strasbourg.......So they can continue wasting Tax-Payers Money

A Eurocrat last night rejected a bid to reduce the number of times that Euro MPs have to shuttle between Strasbourg and Brussels every year.

Millions of pounds are wasted every year because, due to EU treaties, members of the European Parliament have to traipse between the two cities 12 times a year.

In March last year, MEPs voted to try to save at least some money by cutting the number of visits to the French city of Strasbourg to 11 a year.

The man who suggested the move, Tory MEP Ashley Fox, said it would save almost £12million a year and cut down on emissions of carbon dioxide, which the vast majority of scientists believe are causing global warming.

But yesterday, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, a senior official, said that the move would breach EU treaties. Judges from the ECJ will make a final judgment in October.
Last night Mr Fox said the official was 'completely out of touch'.

Note: The EU are screwing up the Economy, Society, Law, Democracy and you are worried about emissions of carbon Dioxide?? ....half the MEP's don't travel there in the first place, especially not 12 times a year ...but bill for being there anyway.

Dinosaur die-out may have been the second of two massive extinctions: Researchers believe huge underwater volcanoes 'killed off all the sea-life first'

Popular opinion holds that an asteroid struck the Earth 65million years ago, hustling out the Age of Dinosaurs and allowing the mammals - us - to rise.

But new research now paints another picture - with the University of Washington indicating that a separate extinction came shortly first, triggered by volcanic eruptions that warmed the planet and killed life on the ocean floor.

They suggest that by the time of the asteroid impact, life on the seafloor - mostly species of clams and snails - was already perishing, because of the effects of huge volcanic eruptions on the Deccan Plateau, in what is now India.

The well-known dinosaur extinction event is believed to have been triggered by an asteroid at least six miles in diameter slamming into Mexico's Yucat√°n Peninsula.

Thomas Tobin, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences, said: 'The eruptions started 300,000 to 200,000 years before the impact, and they may have lasted 100,000 years.'

During the earlier extinction it was primarily life on the ocean floor that died, in contrast to the later extinction triggered by the asteroid impact, which appeared to kill many more free-swimming species.

The eruptions would have filled the atmosphere with fine particles, or aerosols, that initially cooled the planet. Read More

Thousands of dead fish and birds wash up on shore of Lake Erie leaves Scientists baffled

Tens of thousands of fish and seagulls have washed up dead on the shores of one of the world's biggest lakes and scientists are at a loss to explain why.

The lifeless bodies of the freshwater fish and seagulls were discovered spread along a 25-mile stretch of Canadian shoreline by Lake Eerie which stretches between Canada and the U.S.

The rotting corpses gave off a stench which locals described as unbearable at times.

Experts from the Ontario Ministries of the Environment in Canada are now conducting tests to try and identify the cause of the mass kill-off.

Samples of the fish carcasses were sent to labs for analysis where scientists are looking for pH levels changes and any evidence of algae saturation.

It is not yet clear whether the birds died as a result of eating the dead fish, or whether there was some other cause. Read More

Brussels dreams of a new parliament............. but only for countries in the eurozone

Senior European figures are planning to establish a new parliament only for the countries in the eurozone, it was reported yesterday.

The body – which would comprise MEPs and national parliamentarians – would have powers to investigate eurozone members’ fiscal and economic policy.

The UK would not be part of the new organisation because it is not a member of the single currency.

But the body could require the construction of a new building, with some of the costs potentially falling on British taxpayers.

German newspaper Handelsblatt reported yesterday that the plans are being developed by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council; European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso; Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker, and Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Read More

Greeks stage mock hangings in protest at austerity measures as European Central Bank riles Germans with euro debt plan

Members of the Greek security forces staged a symbolic hanging in front of the nation's parliament in Athens in protest at austerity measures in place in the debt-stricken country.

Uniformed members of the police force, fire brigade and coast guard staged the emotive demonstration during a rally yesterday to protest against cuts to security forces' pay and benefits.

On the same day the European Central Bank launched a bold plan to save the crumbling euro from collapse, but this led to a damaging rift with Germany.

ECB president Mario Draghi said the bank will buy the debt of troubled eurozone countries such as Spain to bring down their borrowing costs and prevent a break-up of the single currency. Read More

Economy is getting worse, warns OECD: As forecast is cut, ministers say there's no quick fix

The outlook for the economy is worsening, international experts said yesterday.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development expects output to shrink by 0.7 per cent this year – far worse than the 0.5 per cent growth it had predicted in May.

Coalition ministers warned however that there was no ‘quick fix’ for the economy while ridiculing Labour’s solution to add more debt.

The Paris-based OECD also cut its forecasts for other major developed countries including Germany, France and Italy.

But the UK downgrade was by far the worst and came as a blow to Chancellor George Osborne’s battle to drag the economy out of recession and wipe out the deficit inherited from Labour.

David Cameron said yesterday that it was difficult to kickstart growth: ‘If there was a button you could push in Whitehall which just said “right, growth comes” I would have pushed it long ago. Read More

Saad Al-Hilli fled Iraq as a boy, settled in Surrey and was spied on by the Special Branch

Stationed on a driveway just yards from their target's £1million home, British police were said to have spent several weeks tracking the movements of Saad Al-Hilli at the start of the last Gulf War.

Officers thought to be from Special Branch maintained constant surveillance on the aeronautical engineer and his family, regularly following Mr Al-Hilli – who fled Iraq as a boy – and his brother whenever they drove off.

Last night Philip Murphy, a neighbour in the wealthy village of Claygate, Surrey, recalled how police asked if they could use his driveway to spy on the massacre victims' mock-Tudor house.

The retired finance director said: 'I watched them from the window and they were watching Mr Al-Hilli and his brother.
'I thought they were from Special Branch. They would sit there all day in their parked car just looking at the house.

'When Mr Al-Hilli came out and drove off, they would follow him. It was all very odd. I never told the family they were being watched.'

The surveillance happened as the invasion of Iraq by US and British forces began in March 2003.
Any operation on the family would almost certainly have been backed up by bugging devices within their detached home.

Last night it remained unclear why a surveillance team would be sent to watch a man who, on the outside at least, was a respected engineer. Read More

Saad Al-Hilli's Bother to be Questioned by Police over 'inheritance row' about wealthy father's properties abroad after chilling execution of businessman and family on Alps holiday

Police are to question the brother of a British engineer murdered alongside his family in the French Alps about an 'inheritance dispute', it emerged today.

Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor leading the investigation into the bloodbath, said that 'evidence from Britain' pointed towards engineer Saad Al-Hilli - who was killed alongside his wife and mother-in-law - being involved in 'financial problems' with his brother Zaid.

'It seems that there was a dispute between the two brothers about money,' said Mr Maillaud.
'This seems to be credible information coming from the British police. The brother will have to be questioned at length. Every lead will be meticulously followed.'

Property in France, Switzerland, Spain and Iraq were said to be at the centre of the on-going quarrel between Mr Al-Hilli and his brother, who lives with his family in Kingston-upon-Thames.
It came as more details emerged suggesting that the Al-Hillis may have been targeted by more than one professional assassin. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN COLOMBIA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck NORTHERN COLOMBIA at a depth of 68.1 km (42.3 miles), the quake hit at 07:52:13 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 18 km (11 miles) NNW of Cruces de Anori, Colombia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Rimsha Granted Bail After FAKE Blasphemy Charge


A young Christian girl said to have learning difficulties, who was arrested in Pakistan after allegedly burning pages of the Koran, has been granted bail.

Judge Muhammad Azam Khan ordered the release of Rimsha Masih, 14, who was arrested in a poor Islamabad suburb on August 16.

Judge Khan set the surety at 1 million Pakistani rupees - around £6,631.

A medical report found the girl had a lower than average IQ and she is said to have Down's Syndrome. She has been held in a high-security prison for around three weeks.

Reports suggested she had been burning papers collected from rubbish for cooking when someone entered her house and accused the family of burning pages inscribed with verses from the Koran.

A police officer said at the time that about 500 to 600 people had gathered outside her house demanding her arrest.

The case has highlighted Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, which human rights activists say are regularly used to persecute Christians.

Under the laws, burning a sacred text is punishable by life imprisonment.

Campaigners stepped up calls for the girl's release after police on Saturday arrested a cleric for allegedly tampering with the evidence.

Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti is accused of trying to bolster the case against the girl by planting pages from the Koran among the burnt papers that were brought to him. He has denied the charge. Read More

Turkish PM: U.S. elections hampering Syria action

(CNN) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States is "lacking of initiative" on Syria and suggested that could be because of the upcoming U.S. election. During a wide-ranging interview in Istanbul with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Erdogan discussed the 18-month crisis in Syria and touched on a number of other topics, including Iran's suspected nuclear program. "Right now, there are certain things being expected from the United States. The United States had not yet catered to those expectations," the prime minister said when asked whether he was surprised the United States is not offering anything but "nonlethal support" to the Syrian opposition. "Maybe it's because of the elections -- maybe it's because of the pre-election situation in the States. Might be the root cause of the lacking of initiative. Nobody has spoken to us about their reasons, and they are not obliged to state anything. We are very thankful and pleased they have stated that they're against this regime," he said through a translator. Read More

China: Xinhua Earthquake Kills 7, Damages 20000 Homes

Chinese state media say an earthquake in southwestern China has killed at least seven people and injured 20 others.

The official Xinhua news agency says the 5.7-magnitude quake and several aftershocks hit Yunnan and Guizhou provinces Friday, damaging more than 20,000 homes in the area.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the largest quake at 5.6-magnitude and said it struck at a depth of 10 kilometers. Source

Obama Convention Speech: Downsizing the dream

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Barack Obama accepted the nomination for a second term Thursday with a speech that summed up the downsized expectations of 2012: There was a little hope, not a lot change and heaps of mockery for Mitt Romney.

The gray-templed incumbent, in a noticeably less buoyant mood than he was four years ago in Denver, invoked the transformational legacy of FDR to justify his reelection. But the reality check of George H.W. Bush lurked in crevices of his text, as he implored a wary and worried electorate to stay the course, or risk a Romney presidency.

Many Democrats, from Nancy Pelosi to James Carville, had urged Obama to rise above the negativity of his street fight with Romney and articulate an affirmative rationale for reelection rooted in a roster of audacious policy proposals. He didn’t. Instead, he offered a hybrid of gritted-teeth optimism, hammer-blow attacks on Romney’s foreign policy inexperience, and relatively modest policy goals — including a vow to create one million new manufacturing jobs.

It wasn’t audacity, just enough for Obama to make the case that Romney is dodging tough decisions — and to ramp up attacks on his opponent’s record that have thus far been waged mostly over the airwaves.

“If you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me — so am I,” said Obama.

He then launched into a blistering attack on Romney from almost every angle, but especially on foreign policy - Read More

Scientists could find alien life within 40 years, says royal astronomer

The Queen's astronomer Martin Rees Photo: Jay Williams

Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society, said evidence of whether beings exist not only beyond earth but beyond our solar system, could be found in that time, a newspaper reported.

Lord Rees said he believed that astro-physicists could be able to view images of distant planets outside the solar system as soon as 2025. This could potentially lead to the discovery of some form of life on them.

When asked what changes could be expected in science in the next 40 years, he said understanding more about the "origin of life, the place where it exists, and whether aliens exist, is going to be crucial", the Daily Mail reported.

The astronomer was speaking at the launch of Professor Stephen Hawking's new series Grand Design, due to begin next Thursday on the Discovery Channel.

Lord Rees, who has been Astronomer Royal - a senior position within the Royal Household offering advice to the Queen on astronomical matters - since 1995, said: "Within 10 or 20 years we will be able to image other planets like the earth, orbiting other stars. Read More

Saad al-Hilli's Family Executed because of a Family Feud?

A British family murdered during a holiday in France may have been the victims of a contract killing triggered by a family feud, investigators believe.


Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and Mrs Hilli’s 77-year-old mother were all shot dead in a ruthlessly efficient execution-style killing inside their family car. A French cyclist who was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” was also murdered.

The Hillis’ seven-year-old daughter Zainab, who was battered and shot, and her four-year-old sister Zeena, who escaped the killers by hiding in a passenger footwell, were both under armed guard in separate hospitals last night for fear that the killers would return for the only remaining witnesses to the slaughter.

Police sources in France said that the “professional” nature of the murders, with three of the victims shot in the centre of the forehead, pointed to a contract killing, with a “family drama” one of the possible motives. Read More

The blast that killed 25 Turkish soldiers after hand grenade is accidentally dropped during stock-check

This is the moment huge explosion lit up the night sky and killed 25 soldiers after it was triggered by an accidentally dropped hand grenade during a stock check at a Turkish ammunition depot.

Four other soldiers were injured in the blast, which lit up the night sky with flames, and shattered windows in homes in the nearby town of Afyonkarahisar in western Turkey - terrifying residents.

Forestry and Water Minister Veysel Eroglu ruled out terrorism and sabotage, saying the blast occurred in a section where hand grenades were kept.

The blast occurred while the stock check was being carried out late last night.

The soldiers’ remains were discovered early today after a subsequent blaze was extinguished. Read More

Rabid Beaver Attacks Woman in Lake Barcroft, Virginia

An 83-year-old woman is recovering in hospital after she was attacked repeatedly by a rabid beaver while swimming in a Washington lake.

Lillian Peterson was knocked off her feet as she got out of Lake Barcroft on Tuesday evening and turned round to see the two-foot animal biting her leg.

She and a friend repeatedly hit the beaver using canoe paddles, a walking stick and their bare hands but it refused to let go of her leg, the Washington Post reported.

Ms Peterson even tried to gouge the animal in its eyes with her stick in a desperate attempt to fend it off.

She told the newspaper: "It bit me so bad. I started kicking it with my other leg, but I wasn't sure what I would do."

She was left with severe bites on her left leg, hands and bite marks all over her arms and legs. Read More

Richard Henry Bain In Court accused of killing one and injuring another during a political rally in Quebec

The suspect in a fatal shooting at a Quebec rally was arraigned on 16 charges on Thursday, including murder and possession of explosives.

Richard Henry Bain, of La Conception, made his first appearance in court behind protective glass after he was accused of opening fire at a victory rally on Tuesday for Quebec's new premier Pauline Marois.

Prosecutors said that after firing his gun, Bain used a flare to light a fire.

The 62-year-old, wearing a white T-shirt, appeared calm and alert during his appearance in the highly-secured courtroom.

He was scheduled to return to court on October 11. Read More

Hantavirus Claims Third Yosemite Victim...At Risk rises to 22000

Up to 22,000 people are at risk from a deadly rodent-borne virus linked to tent cabins in California's Yosemite National Park, which has claimed a third victim.

A further five people are ill from the outbreak reported last week by officials at the park, who said thousands of tourists could have been exposed to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome from sleeping in the cabins since June 10.

Alerts from the US Centres for Disease Control and have turned up other suspected cases and the outbreak has prompted the World Health Organisation to warn travellers over rodent exposure.

Park owner Delaware North has sent letters and emails to nearly 3,000 people who reserved the cabins between June and August, warning them that they might have been exposed.

Because the rooms can hold up to four people, up to 7,000 more visitors might have been exposed, a park spokesman has said.

The discovery that one case occurred in Yosemite's High Sierra camps has prompted officials to extend the alert to a further 12,000 people - bringing the total at risk to some 22,000. Read More

3.5 Magnitude Earthquake LOS ANGELES AREA, CALIFORNIA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 3.5 earthquake has struck the LOS ANGELES AREA, CALIFORNIA at a depth of 1 km (0.6 miles), the quake hit at 07:03:10 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 0 km (0 miles) West from Beverly Hills, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Matthew Cherry Guilty Of Punching Pregnant Girlfriend

A former policeman has been found guilty of repeatedly punching his pregnant ex-girlfriend to try to bring on a miscarriage.

Matthew Cherry, 35, used a balaclava and a fake foreign accent to launch the "savage attack" at Caroline Craft's ground-floor flat in Bournemouth, Dorset.

He punched her in the stomach and back, targeting her unborn child and leaving her "bloodied and bruised", but she was not seriously harmed and gave birth to a boy - now 15 months old.

Cherry was angry and upset that Miss Craft, 27, also a police officer, would not have an abortion and the pair split up, Winchester Crown Court heard during the eight-day trial.

Cherry, now living in Southampton, denied attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent in March last year in the "well-planned" attack.

He had insisted he was not the attacker, claiming he was several miles away renovating a house.

More follows...

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO REGION - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO REGION at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 06:58:58 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 59 km (36 miles) NNW of Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 12.1 km (7.5 miles), the quake hit at 06:17:28 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 39 km (24 miles) ESE of Kitaibaraki, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SICHUAN-YUNNAN-GUIZHOU REGION, CHINA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck SICHUAN-YUNNAN-GUIZHOU REGION, CHINA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 05:12:46 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 18 km (11 miles) East of Jiaokui, China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake SICHUAN-YUNNAN-GUIZHOU REGION, CHINA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck SICHUAN-YUNNAN-GUIZHOU REGION, CHINA at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 04:16:30 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 2 km (1.2 miles) Southwest of Jiaokui, China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SICHUAN-YUNNAN-GUIZHOU REGION, CHINA - 7th September 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck SICHUAN-YUNNAN-GUIZHOU REGION, CHINA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 03:58:01 UTC Friday 7th September 2012
The epicenter was 4 km (2.4 miles) ESE of Jiaokui, China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time