Friday, September 14, 2012

China sends six ships to disputed Senkaku / Diaoyu islands against Japan as tensions ratchet, Japanese nationals attacked

Six Chinese ships have sailed into waters around a disputed archipelago, with Beijing saying they were there for "law enforcement" around islands Japan nationalised earlier this week.

The move, dubbed "unprecedented" by Tokyo, came on Friday as it was reported Japanese nationals had been physically attacked in China, marking the latest stage in a deteriorating row between Asia's two biggest economies.

Japanese living or visiting China were warned to take extra precautions after assaults and harassment were reported to the consulate in Shanghai, a base for Japanese businesses and a popular tourist destination.

Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest what it insists is an incursion into territorial waters around islands it controls, called Senkaku, but claimed by Beijing as Diaoyu.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from Hong Kong, said protesters in Beijing have called for a boycott of Japanese products to defend their country’s interests.

The latest tension surfaced after Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese prime minister, announced that Japan is buying the disputed private islands and transferring control to the government.

Commentators say Noda's solution, nationalising the islands and continuing its policy of doing nothing with them, was an attempt to navigate between rising nationalism at home and China's growing assertiveness on the oceans.

"We'll do our utmost in vigilance and surveillance," said Noda when asked about Japan's response to the latest move by China. He also established a task force to deal with the issue. more

At least 4 casualties in "Al Qaeda" attack on US-led Sinai peacekeeping mission, believed linked to protests

Unconfirmed reports of at least four peacekeepers hurt when scores of Salafi Bedouin linked to al Qaeda stormed the Multinational Force’s camp in northern Sinai with grenades, mortars and automatic guns Friday night Sept. 14. The casualties were transferred to the Israeli hospital in Beersheba. The number of casualties and their nationality has not been confirmed.

Debkafile’s military and Egyptian sources report that the gunmen drove up to the camp in 50 Toyota pickups, first blocking the roads to the Al Ghora base southwest of El Arish, then knocking over two guard posts. They faced heavy resistance from the international force before torching the facility, plundering its arms and ordnance stores and hoisting the black al Qaeda flag. A second band of 60-70 gunmen then arrived and the firefight continued although an Egyptian force arrived on the scene with 11 armored personnel carriers.

This was the second al-Qaeda-instigated assault on a primarily US target in the Middle East in four days after the murder of four US diplomats including Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya Tuesday.

The 1,500 troops from the United States and other countries have been posted in Sinai to monitor the 1979 peace accords between Egypt and Israel.

The armed Bedouin gangs claimed their attack on the MFO camp was part of the Islamist protest sweeping the Middle East against an anti-Muslim video. source


"Innocence of Muslims", and why orchestrated viral videos and inorganic uprisings (i.e. plotted by others) are "bullsh*t"

Western embassies attacked in Africa

Sudanese protesters smashed windows, cameras and furniture and set fire to the German embassy, pulling down an emblem to raise an Islamic flag. Local media reported one protester was hit and killed by a police car near the US embassy in Khartoum. Three others died in clashes in Tunisia and 28 were injured, and one man died in Lebanon amid reports that the death toll could climb in north Africa. Police in Khartoum earlier tried to disperse protesters who had surrounded the German and neighbouring British embassy by firing volleys of teargas but no officers could be seen at the front gate after the storming. One witness said demonstrators set the German building ablaze (see photo, above) and hoisted a black flag saying in white letters, saying: "There is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet." "The embassy staff are safe at the moment," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. The German building in Sudan was still in flames on Friday afternoon. Read More

Escobar: US could drone Libya to death

'Pro-NATO groups propel Arab protests, chaos plays into West's hands'

Iranian oil sales 'on rise' despite all sanctions & rhetoric - report

'Embassy attacks a policy wake-up call for US elite'

Twitter Hands Over Records in NY Occupy

Syrian Opposition Burn US flag in Aleppo

Afghanistan: 'Injuries' As Camp Bastion Hit

There has been an attack on the main Allied military base in Afghanistan, and injuries have been reported, Pentagon sources say.

It is thought that buildings at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province were damaged but it is not known if walls were breached.

There was small arms fire but the military does not know where the attack originated from.

It is not known how many people were wounded or what their condition was.

More follows...

Black Flag of Islam Flies Over American Embassy in Tunisia as Attacks on America Continue Around the Globe (Sucks when we're on the other end of the beating stick, doesn't it?)

A black Islamic flag is currently flying over the U.S. embassy in Tunisia after it had been stormed by an angry mob of protesters, who were upset over an anti-Islam film that was made by Americans.

This is just one of many incidents occurring around the world today, in which Americans are being targeted.

In Tunis, the mob overran the compound, scaling walls and setting fire to trees before tearing down the American flag and replacing it with a symbol of Islam. It is not thought that any U.S. staff were actually in the embassy in Tunis. An American school in Tunis was also set on fire. Police responded to the mobs by firing tear gas, and police gunfire could also be heard.

Several dozen protesters were also briefly able to enter the embassy compound and set fire to cars in the embassy parking lot. Police and special forces pushed them back outside. more

Egan-Jones downgrades U.S. rating on QE3 move

Egan-Jones Ratings Co. said Friday it downgraded its U.S. sovereign rating to AA- from AA on concerns that the Fed's new round of quantitative easing, or QE3, will hurt the U.S. economy. The ratings agency said the Fed's plan of buying $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities a month and keeping interest rates near zero does little to raise GDP, reduces the value of the dollar, and raises the price of commodities. "From 2006 to present, the US's debt to GDP rose from 66% to 104% and will probably rise to 110% a year from today under current circumstances; the annual budget deficit is 8%," Egan-Jones said in a note. "In comparison, Spain has a debt to GDP of 68.5% and an annual budget deficit of 8.5%." source

Stasi files: The world's biggest jigsaw puzzle

More than 20 years after the Berlin Wall fell, you might think the Stasi had been consigned to history. But a new generation wants to know what the East German secret police did to their parents, and computing wizardry is about to make it easier to find out.

The German Democratic Republic (GDR) and its agencies did not disappear immediately once the Berlin Wall fell.

For some weeks afterwards many Stasi staff remained in their offices, trying to destroy evidence that could land them in jail or expose their spies in foreign countries.

But they ran into technical difficulties.

"The Stasi was an organisation that loved to keep paper," says Joachim Haussler, who works for the Stasi archives authority today.

It therefore owned few shredders - and those it did have were of poor East German quality and rapidly broke down. So thousands of documents were hastily torn by hand and stuffed into sacks. The plan was to burn or chemically destroy the contents later. more

3.3 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 14th September 2012

A magnitude 3.3 earthquake has struck NORTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 25.8 km (16 miles), the quake hit at 18:21:59 UTC Friday 14th September 2012
The epicenter was 8 km (5 miles) Southwest from Rio Dell, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 14th September 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck NORTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 24.3 km (15.1 miles), the quake hit at 18:19:51 UTC Friday 14th September 2012
The epicenter was 8 km (5 miles) SSW from Rio Dell, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

US State Department: This is a "full blown crisis" as it sets up 24-hour monitoring team for embassy crisis

The State Department has gone into full-blown crisis mode, organizing a round-the-clock effort to coordinate the U.S. government's response to the expanding attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa.

"The State Department has stood up a 24-hr monitoring team to insure appropriate coordination of information and our response. In addition, our consular team is working with missions around the world to protect American citizens and issue appropriate public warden information," a senior State Department official told reporters Friday afternoon.

"We have been monitoring events in the Middle East and North Africa intensively today, and working with our personnel and missions overseas and host governments to strengthen security in all locations and to respond effectively where protests have turned violent," the official said.

The official noted that U.S. embassies in Libya and Yemen have been reinforced with Marine FAST teams and noted that other unspecified measures are being taken to strengthen embassy security around the region. The State Department is working with the governments in Tunisia and Sudan to increase security at the U.S. embassies there as well, the official said. more

Microsoft admits millions of computers could be infected with malware before they’re out of the box

Hackers have uploaded viruses which can help them steal people's personal data on to millions of PCs and laptops before they are even taken out of the box, Microsoft has admitted.

The company said it found malware which allows would-be criminals to remotely switch on and control cameras and microphones, among other devices, on machines which were still factory sealed. The software is loaded with counterfeit copies of Microsoft Windows, the company said.

“Cybercriminals have made it clear that anyone with a computer could become an unwitting mule for malware,” wrote Microsoft's assistant general counsel for its Digital Crimes Unit, Richard Domingues Boscovich.

On the company's blog, he added: “Malware allows criminals to steal a person's personal information to access and abuse their online services, including e-mail, social networking accounts and online bank accounts. Examples of this abuse include malware sending fake e-mails and social media posts to a victim's family, friends and co-workers to scam them out of money, sell them dangerous counterfeit drugs, and infect their computers with malware.” more

U.N. Peacekeepers' camp in Egypt stormed by protestors

Details forthcoming.

Riots and protest spread to Turkey, Indonesia, Kenya: Protests now taking place in 50+ locations

Details forthcoming: German and French embassies in Cairo are now also apparently under siege as European institutions become targets.

Nuclear Reactor Facility Evacuated In Austin: J.J. Pickle facility

A research facility at the University of Texas in Austin that houses an active nuclear reactor has been evacuated after a man with a middle eastern accent claiming to be a member of Al-Qaeda warned authorities the campus had been booby-trapped with explosives.

“The university received a call from a male with a Middle Eastern accent claiming to have placed bombs all over campus. He said he was with Al Qaeda and these bombs would go off in 90 minutes. President Powers was notified and it was decided to evacuate all of the buildings out of an abundance of caution,” reports We Are Austin.com.

UT’s JJ Pickle Research facility in North Austin was also evacuated. The facility houses a a fully functional nuclear reactor operated by the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab department.

The Pickle campus is protected by a guard shack that visitors have to pass through to enter the building.

There was no incident 90 minutes after the call was made, suggesting the bomb threat was a hoax. However, it does coincide with attacks on U.S. embassies by radical Islamists as well as protests across the Middle East in response to a dubious film said to insult the Prophet Mohammad

A campus-wide email has been sent to all students, according to the Dallas News. “Evacuation due to threats on campus immediately evacuate all buildings get as far away from the buildings as possible. Further information to come,” the email reads. more

"Marines now on the ground" in Yemen to liberate embassy and secure area

Details forthcoming.

University of Texas shut down over bomb threats, North Dakota State University currently under evacuation, Valparaiso University under threat

Details forthcoming.

COMING CRISIS ALERT: Anti-US protests across world threaten further severe violence -- September 14, 2012

UPDATE: September 23, 2012

While the situation still remains tense around the world, and is certainly not helped by France's publication of Mohammed cartoons, this alert is being lifted barring new information or developments.

Anti-US protests have erupted all over the Middle East and Africa, and have now spread as far as India and Europe. There have been scores of deaths ranging from US Government personnel to the protestors themselves as both sides exchange gunfire and violence. Businesses and educational institutions have also been damaged and set on fire, with further violence likely to come. In the US, colleges have begun receiving bomb threats, while US warships and marines are on their way to Libya and Yemen to combat the violence.

The Coming Crisis will update this situation as it unfolds. It in the meantime, please adhere to the following precautions.

EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS

1. If you are in the Middle East region and are of Western descent, consider leaving for the time being. If this is not possible, lie low.

2. Reconsider visiting your country's embassy at this time, as they've become targets of significant deadly violence over the last few days. Embassy staff are likely no longer present, or if they are, are likely incapable of offering assistance.

3. Do not engage in hate speech or activity. Such action is simply buying in to the propaganda on one side or another, and it makes you a big target.

4. Keep close to the news, especially at your place of work or school in case evacuations or updated information are issued.

Bomb threats at US Colleges follow worldwide anti-US protests

The University of Texas at Austin and North Dakota State University ordered evacuations Friday morning, citing bomb threats they received.

The Texas school told people to "immediately evacuate ALL buildings and get as far away as possible," a notice on the school's online emergency page. more

$86 million worth of mysterious construction takes place under White House

The White House Big Dig is finally wrapping up, but the Big Reveal is proving to be a pretty big letdown.

After nearly two years and $86 million worth of noisy and disruptive construction, the West Wing has emerged from its visual seclusion remarkably unchanged. And deep underground, whatever has been built there remains shrouded in mystery.

Plus, if you ask what the next phase is in this massive, four-year project, the official answer is “TBD” — to be determined.

The construction project — officially a long overdue upgrade of White House utilities — began in September 2010 with the excavation of a huge, multistory pit in front of the West Wing, wrapping around to include West Executive Avenue, the street that separates the White House from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. A tall, green construction fence sprang up that blocked America’s most famous office complex from public view.

But now the fence has come down, revealing the familiar whitewashed sandstone facade and the lone Marine guard who stands watch at the entrance to the West Wing lobby.

Bulldozers have covered up the hole. Contractors have repaved the asphalt driveway. National Park Service crews are mostly finished re-grading, re-sodding and replanting. Their goal has been to return the area to its original appearance.

So what, exactly, did all the digging, hammering, welding and concrete-pouring accomplish?

The General Services Administration, which oversaw the work, said it was to replace aging water and steam lines, sewers, storm sewers and electrical wiring conduits. Heating, air conditioning and fire control equipment also are being updated, officials said.

However, what reporters and photographers saw during the construction appeared to go well beyond that: a sprawling, multistory structure whose underground assembly required truckload after truckload of heavy-duty concrete and steel beams. more

Mob forming outside US Embassy in London, burning US flag


US Marines deployed to Yemen as Middle East situation rapidly deteriorates

Details forthcoming: The Coming Crisis may soon issue an alert over this rapidly deteriorating situation. Please check back frequently for more information.

Gunfire erupts outside US Embassy in Tunisia, Embassy on fire

Details forthcoming.

Gunfire heard at US Embassy in Sudan, developing

Details forthcoming.

FBI Warns of Violence in America Over Anti-Islamic Movie

A U.S. intelligence bulletin warned today that the violent outrage aimed at U.S. embassies spawned by a movie mocking the Prophet Mohammed could be spread to America by extremist groups eager to "exploit anger."

The Joint Intelligence Bulletin issued by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said "the risk of violence could increase both at home and abroad as the film continues to gain attention."

"First responders should remain aware of the potential for spontaneous large crowds and protests that could overwhelm resources and should be vigilant for possible efforts to encourage peaceful protesters to commit acts of violence," the warning said.

It urged "faith-based organizations to promptly report suspicious activities that could indicate pre-operational plotting against Jewish, Coptic, Islamic, or any other faith-based communities."

It added, however, that there was no information regarding any specific threats.

The bulletin warned that "violent extremist groups in the United States could exploit anger over the film to advance their recruitment efforts."

It goes on to note that angry protests in Benghazi, where four Americans were killed, and Cairo "mirror past incidents prompted by events perceived as anti-Islamic, which spurred sudden violence against U.S. interests overseas." more

Tunis Protesters Attack US Embassy

Protesters have entered the US embassy in the Tunisia capital Tunis in the latest violence sparked by an anti-Muslim film.

A large fire could be seen burning inside the compound. Police fired teargas at the crowds, who broke windows and set fire to trees.

In the Sudanese capital Khartoum, some 5,000 protesters attacked the British and German embassies.

Demonstrators broke into the German compound, pulling down the German flag and flying a black Islamic flag above the building. They also smashed windows and started a fire in front of the main gate.

Police fired tear gas at the protesters, who then moved on to the nearby British embassy in Khartoum East.

Britain's Foreign Office said: "We can confirm an ongoing demonstration outside the British Embassy in Khartoum. Sudanese police are at the scene." Read More

Mark Knight: Man denied food stamps gets rifle out (Coming to an America near you)


Authorities say a Louisiana man who got a loaded AR-15 assault rifle from his pickup truck after being turned down for disaster food stamps has been jailed.

Louisiana State Police say a claims processor in LaPlace told officers a man became irate after being denied aid Tuesday evening after recent Hurricane Isaac. They say officers providing security at the location saw the man go to his vehicle and troopers, sheriff's deputies and national guard troops surrounded and disarmed him.

Trooper Melissa Matey says investigators also found a handgun and several loaded ammunition magazines. She says 46-year-old Mark Knight of LaPlace was booked on charges of terrorizing and aggravated assault. Bond was set at $20,000.

Knight remained jailed Thursday. A message with the public defender's office was not immediately returned. source

U.S.: Syria must end nuclear stonewalling, conflict no excuse

(Reuters) - The United States accused Syria on Friday of using the "brutal repression" of its people waging an uprising as an excuse not to address U.N. nuclear watchdog concerns about suspected past illicit nuclear activity in the Arab state.

For its part, Syria insisted at a debate of the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had agreed last year with the IAEA on how to handle the issue. This was denied on Monday by the IAEA chief in a speech to the board.

The IAEA has long sought access to a site in Syria's desert Deir al-Zor region that U.S. intelligence reports say was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor designed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons before Israel bombed it in 2007.

The Vienna-based watchdog has also been requesting information about three other sites that may have been linked to Deir al-Zor.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said earlier this yeart Syria had asked for understanding of its "delicate situation" in response to requests for Syrian cooperation with his inspectors' inquiry. Read More


Armed men storm Lebanon restaurant; German Embassy in Sudan on fire as rage sweeps Middle East

Several protests stemming at least in part from an anti-Islam film produced in the United States are unfolding outside U.S. embassies around the world. Friday's protests follow ones Tuesday at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, where attacks killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Follow along with the live blog below for all of the developments around the world.

[Updated at 9:31 a.m. ET] More information from Khartoum, Sudan: Protesters have gathered outside the U.S. Embassy there, a journalist at the scene said. The demonstration is peaceful so far.

Earlier today, protesters in Khartoum set the German Embassy on fire and also rallied outside the nearby UK Embassy (see 8:42 a.m. entry). The German Embassy was vacated before the protests.

[Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET] Lebanon has joined the list of Friday protests. One person was killed by police in Tripoli, Lebanon, after a group of armed men stormed a KFC restaurant amid protests in the city, Lebanese security forces told CNN.

About 40 armed men were spotted among 3,000 protesters, officials said.

Gen. Bassam Ayoubi, of the Lebanese internal security forces, said a group of armed men stormed the KFC and asked people to leave. Ayoubi said that the armed men then set the KFC on fire, at which time police arrived and began to fire at the armed men, killing at least one of them. Twenty-five were injured, he said, but it wasn't clear which of the injured were on which side. more

Alps Shootings: Police Hunt black Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 with British number plates

Police investigating the Alps murders are hunting a British car - as a schoolgirl injured in the shootings returns to the UK.

Detectives are looking for a black Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 with British number plates, which was seen driving on the French A39 near the scene of the attack on September 5.

A witness is said to have told investigators that the driver of the vehicle looked "rather nervous".

Police have been investigating the theory that the killers may have fled across the Swiss or Italian borders after the killings.

Meanwhile, seven-year-old Zainab al Hilli, whose parents and grandmother were were gunned down in the shooting spree near Lake Annecy, is returning to the UK from France.

The girl was placed in a medically induced coma after she was shot in the shoulder and badly beaten in the massacre which killed her three relatives last week.

The child, who is seen as one of the key witnesses in the case, left hospital at about 8.30am, accompanied by British police. Read More

Iron 'Blueberries' May Prove Life On Mars

Iron-oxide spheres found on Mars may have been formed by microbes, which could show that life existed millions of years ago.

Small iron-oxide spheres discovered in Martian rocks may indicate that life existed on Mars millions of years ago, according to researchers.

Nasa's Opportunity rover has found many of the hematite balls - nicknamed "blueberries" by researchers - since landing on the planet eight years ago.

They were originally thought to have provided the first evidence of liquid water on Mars but their existence may hold an even more important implication.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and University of Nebraska have found that similar spheres, when they appear on Earth, are formed by microbes.

If those found on Mars are made up of a similar composition, it could show that life once existed on the planet. Read More

Protesters Try To Storm British and German Embassies

Protesters are trying to storm the British and German embassies in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, say reports.

The violence came as anger against an anti-Muslim film spread across the Middle East.

The unrest has been sparked by a US-made video depicting the Prophet Mohammed having sex, calling for massacres, and as a homosexual.

More follows...

3.2 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 14th September 2012

A magnitude 3.2 earthquake has struck NORTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 25.4 km (15.8 miles), the quake hit at 11:57:20 UTC Friday 14th September 2012
The epicenter was 8 km (5 miles) Southwest from Rio Dell, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 14th September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck NORTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 23.7 km (14.7 miles), the quake hit at 11:53:17 UTC Friday 14th September 2012
The epicenter was 8 km (5 miles) Southwest from Rio Dell, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Syria envoy in capital as Assad forces pound rebels

(Reuters) - International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Syria's capital on Thursday as state forces pounded its eastern outskirts to flush out rebels trying to retain a foothold in Damascus.

Brahimi's mission is a challenging one as neither side in the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad seems ready to put down arms. Nor does Brahimi enjoy the necessary support from divided world and Middle East powers.

Opposition activists reported a fighter jet flying overhead and helicopter gunships firing down on suburbs that have housed insurgents struggling to topple Assad after the ouster of four other Arab autocrats in popular revolts over the past 18 months.

"There is a fresh campaign on the eastern parts of Damascus," said an activist, speaking on Skype from the capital. "Helicopters are roaming the skies and right now they are firing on Zamalka district."

The 17-month-old conflict is escalating, with more than 27,000 dead, and has engulfed many areas around the seat of government, once believed impregnable to Assad's opponents.

His forces appear to be trying to keep opposition fighters out of the heart of Damascus by bombarding rebel-infiltrated outskirts with tanks, artillery, and helicopters. Read More

US Fed's QE3 may fail to boost anemic economic growth

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday announced a new round of bond buying program and extending the duration of its ultra-low interest rate, but many economists believed that those moves might fail to deliver the target of bolstering the country's weak economic recovery.

OPEN-ENDED QE3

After a two-day policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed's powerful interest rate setting panel, the U.S. central bank unveiled an open-ended bond-buying plan -- to purchase agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) at a pace of 40 billion U.S. dollars per month to speed up the recovery of the nation's housing sector.

This was the third round of quantitative easing, also known as the QE3, which the Fed has introduced since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008.

U.S. economic activity has continued to expand at a "moderate pace." Growth in employment has been slow, and the jobless rate remained elevated, the Fed said in a statement explaining its motivations of the new unconventional monetary policy. Read More

Obama:"No act of terror will go unpunished"

Sept. 13 - After an attack on the U.S. embassy in Yemen, President Barack Obama warns those considering violence that ''no act of terror will go unpunished.'' Deborah Gembara reports