Friday, September 21, 2012

White House has lobbyist specifically to quell Obama golf jokes after President gets teed off

A coalition of golf lovers are asking Republicans to stop making so many jokes about President Barack Obama’s love for the golf course, saying such comments are bad for the golf industry.

But could politics be at play too?

The Daily Caller has learned that Tony Podesta, a well-known Democratic lobbyist with strong ties to the Obama White House, is behind the We Are Golf coalition of golfing organizations that has sent letters to Republicans such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio asking them to cut out the criticism of Obama’s golfing habits.

Melissa Low, a spokeswoman for the Club Managers Association of America, confirmed to TheDC on Thursday that Podesta was hired to help with the coalition. Other groups supporting the coalition include the PGA of America, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the National Golf Course Association of America.

“The Podesta Group was retained to assist with advocacy and public relations for the coalition in early 2010,” Low said in response to an email from TheDC.

Tony Podesta formed the Podesta Group in 1988 with his brother, John Podesta, who led Obama’s transition effort. (SEE ALSO: Obama has golfed four times more than Bush did in eight years)

TheDC’s Matt Lewis broke the news this week that the “We Are Golf” coalition had sent a letter to Rubio asking him to stop making references to Obama’s golfing.

“As we enter the final stretch of campaign season,” the group wrote in a letter to the senator, “we write to make a request we hope you will receive in the same spirit in which it is offered. Please reconsider your political strategy of criticizing President Obama’s passion for golf.” more

Thoughts: Could this issue be surfacing due to Obama's reelection campaign performing under par? His being relatively green in the political world, such course tactics over something so small would likely make most pundits think the President lacked the balls to tackle the bigger issues sending America down the hole. Ahem. Bogey. Six-iron. Turf. Carts. Beanies. Sand-traps. And a whole lot of swing-time come November.




Spain risks break-up as Mariano Rajoy stirs Catalan fury

The ruling parties of Catalonia have sought guidance from Brussels on the legality of secession from Spain, requesting a “route map” for membership of the European Union and the euro as an independent state.

It is the latest move in a fast-escalating clash between Catalan nationalists and Spanish nationalists, the latter backed by King Juan Carlos and the Spanish military.

Jose-Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the foreign minister, threw down the gauntlet, calling Catalan secession “illegal and lethal”. He warned that Spain would use its veto to stop the region of Catalonia becoming an EU member “indefinitely”.

The constitutional crisis has eclipsed the parallel drama of a Spanish bail-out request from the European Stability Mechanism. It is no longer clear whether premier Mariano Rajoy can deliver on any austerity deal with Brussels.

Catalan leader Artur Mas held high-stakes talks with Mr Rajoy in Madrid on Thursday, armed with a mandate from the Catalan parliament and with charged emotions left from an unprecedented protest by 1.5m people in Barcelona 10 days ago.

He demanded an independent treasury for the rich Catalan region, with control over its own tax base akin to the model already enjoyed by Basques. The 9m Catalans have an economy the size of Austria’s. more

Ann Romney’s plane makes emergency landing in Denver after "filled with smoke"

The campaign plane carrying Ann Romney, the wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, made an emergency landing in Denver around 2:25 Friday afternoon, the campaign reported via Twitter.

Andrea Saul, the campaign’s press secretary, tweeted: “.@AnnDRomney plane makes emergency landing in CO. All okay. Thank goodness.”

Another tweet from the campaign’s Ryan Williams described the plane as “filled with smoke.”

Emergency vehicles met the plane on the runway. source

Iranian hackers target three largest U.S. banks

(Reuters) - Iranian hackers have repeatedly attacked Bank of America Corp (BA.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Citigroup Inc (C.N) over the past year, as part of a broad cyber campaign targeting the United States, according to people familiar with the situation.

The attacks, which began in late 2011 and escalated this year, have primarily been "denial of service" campaigns that disrupted the banks' websites and corporate networks by overwhelming them with incoming web traffic, said the sources.

Whether the hackers have been able to inflict more serious damage on computer networks or steal critical data is not yet known. The sources said there was evidence suggesting the hackers targeted the banks in retaliation for their enforcement of Western economic sanctions against Iran.

Iran has beefed up its cyber capabilities after its nuclear program was damaged in 2010 by the Stuxnet virus, widely believed to have been developed by the United States. Tehran has publicly advertised its intentions to build a cyber army and encouraged private citizens to hack against Western countries.

The attacks on the three largest U.S. banks originated in Iran, but it is not clear if they were launched by the state, groups working on behalf of the government, or "patriotic" citizens, according to the sources, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Read More

Mount Lokon erupts with smoke, ash in northern Indonesia, residents put on alert

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A volcano in northern Indonesia has spewed hot smoke and ash thousands of feet into the air in two new eruptions.

Mount Lokon on Sulawesi island had been dormant before rumbling back to life last year.

Government volcanologist Hendrasto says it unleashed two strong eruptions Friday.

Residents have been put on alert, but no evacuations are planned since the nearest villages are beyond the danger area about 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) from the crater.

Mount Lokon's last major eruption in 1991 killed a Swiss hiker and forced thousands to flee. The volcano is one of five on high alert in Indonesia. The archipelago straddles the "Pacific Ring of Fire" and has more active volcanoes than any other nation. Source

Pump malfunction caused shutdown at Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant, Pennsylvania

A malfunctioning pump caused an automatic shutdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant Thursday, the second such event in as many months.


Plant officials and government regulators said the shutdown at the plant, where a partial meltdown of a reactor in 1979 is considered the worst commercial nuclear power plant accident in U.S history, posed no threat to public health or safety.

The shutdown occurred shortly after 2:15 p.m. ,when the failure of a coolant pump tripped the computerized system that shuts downs the reactor in the event of any safety-related problems.

Once the reactor has cooled down enough, plant workers will be able to access the containment building and troubleshoot the problem, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said. Read More

CrossTalk: Occupy Fizzle?

'Greece social explosion inevitable in next few months'

Iran military parade video: Tehran flexes muscle, warns enemies

Nigel Farage on doing a deal with the Tories (21Sept12)

Klein Michael Thaxton Surrenders in Office Worker Hostage

The Pennsylvania military veteran who held a CEO hostage in downtown Pittsburgh today has surrendered and turned himself in to police custody.

"It is over. I feel very good and it's a real blessing that no one was injured and no life was taken," Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper said around 1:50 p.m. today.

The suspect, 22-year-old Klein Michael Thaxton, had stormed into the offices of CW Breitsman Associates this morning and taken the company's owner, Charles Breitsman, hostage. Thaxton did not work for the company, which handles pension and benefit plans for other companies.

Police were unsure why Thaxton targeted Breitsman. Thaxton's mother, Rhonda, arrived at the office building to speak with police this morning. She told reporters she hoped her son would get the help he needed.

Thaxton told workers that he had a gun and explosives with him when he took Breitsman hostage. One witness said he was carrying a rifle, though police said they did not know what weapons he had with him.

Thaxton, who had a prior criminal record, updated his Facebook profile multiple times throughout the morning, telling his Facebook friends "i cant take it no more i'm done bro" and "how this ends is up to yall bro." Read More

Paul Ryan booed at AARP



In his remarks to the AARP Friday, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was booed loudly when he said the “first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare.”*

Ryan was unfazed. “I had a feeling there would be mixed reactions, so let me get into it,” he said.

“It weakens Medicare for today’s seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation,” Ryan argued. “First, it funnels $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. Second, it puts 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of Medicare’s future.”

Ryan’s explanation was booed, as was his charge that President Obama “put his own job security over your retirement security.” Read More

Taxmageddon: 100 DAYS UNTIL LARGEST TAX HIKES IN HISTORY

Sunday will mark the start of the 100-day countdown to “Taxmageddon” – the date the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2013:

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief

In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for small business owners, families, and investors (later re-upped by President Obama and Democrat Congress in 2010). The following tax hikes will occur on January 1, 2013:

Personal income tax rates will rise on January 1, 2013. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which the majority of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

-The 10% bracket rises to a new and expanded 15%
-The 25% bracket rises to 28%
-The 28% bracket rises to 31%
-The 33% bracket rises to 36%
-The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family coming on January 1, 2013. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of taxable income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. Read More

Turkey convicts 330 military officers accused of coup

THE most highly charged trial in Turkey's modern history ended with the conviction of 330 military officers - including former commanders of the army, navy and air force - for plotting to overthrow the government.


This case, known to Turks as the “Sledgehammer” trial after the alleged codename of the coup plot, lasted for two years and arose from a plan to take over the state in 2003.

Senior officers were found guilty of preparing a putsch against the moderately Islamist Justice and Welfare Party (AK) a year after its election victory in 2002.

The army, which sees itself as the guarantor of Turkey’s secular constitution, mounted three coups between 1960 and 1980. Prosecutors said the plot to overthrow Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the AK prime minister, was drawn up during a seminar of military officers.

They planned to carry out a series of attacks on their own forces - including shooting down a military jet - while also bombing mosques and civilian targets in order to create a pretext for the armed forces to seize power in the name of stability. Read More

Facebook Forced to end facial recognition in Europe

Facebook has stopped using facial recognition software to automatically identify people in photographs following an investigation by privacy regulators.

The technology was identified by regulators as one of the main privacy threats posed by Facebook. It plans to make changes before reinstating the system.

Billy Hawkes, head the Irish data protection commission, which mounted the investigation because Facebook’s European operations are based in Ireland, praised the social network for cooperating.

"I am particularly encouraged in relation to the approach it has decided to adopt on the tag suggest/facial recognition feature by in fact agreeing to go beyond our initial recommendations, in light of developments since then, in order to achieve best practice” he said.

Facebook’s introduction of facial recognition software, which it uses to encourage members to “tag” their friends in photographs, ensuring they are shared more widely, has long been controversial. It was turned on by default last year, meaning members had to opt out if they did not want to be part of the system.

Mr Hawkes stressed he was satisfied Facebook giant had made clear commitment to comply with its responsibilities in line with Irish and EU privacy laws. Read More

Syrian president accuses Gulf states of funding rebels

The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has said he is adamant his regime will not fall and lashed out at Gulf countries which he accused of using their enormous oil wealth to try to drive him from power.

Assad's comments were published on Friday as an opposition group, the National Co-ordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, accused the regime of being behind the disappearance of two of its leaders.

Abdul-Aziz al-Kheir and Ayas Ayyash were expected to take part in a conference this Sunday in Damascus by 20 Syrian groups that are calling for Assad to step down. But they disappeared on Thursday along with a friend who had picked them up at Damascus international airport, the group said.

The group's head, Hassan Abdul-Azim, told the Associated Press that the regime was believed to be behind the disappearance.

Syria's crisis began in March last year with anti-government demonstrations inspired by the Arab spring and demanding reforms. The protests were met with a brutal crackdown by the regime. Syria later became embroiled in a civil war between forces fighting for Assad and those trying to topple him.

Activists say nearly 30,000 people have been killed since the crisis began, the vast majority civilians. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN at a depth of 91 km (56.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:19:05 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 26 km (16.1 miles) Southwest of Eškašem, Afghanistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Klein Michael Thaxton has taken at least one person hostage in a high-rise office building in Pittsburgh

An armed man who has taken at least one person hostage in a Pittsburgh office building is posting messages on his Facebook page while negotiating with police.

Klein Michael Thaxton, 22, entered the building sometime after 8am local time on Friday and went up to a 16th floor office suite inside the Three Gateway Centre.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said he took at least one person, and possibly two, hostage inside a business after entering the suite and asking about a particular person.

Mr Thaxton is posting Facebook updates while negotiating with police. He said on the social network that he was "tired of life" and had lost everything. Read More

One Israeli soldier, 3 attackers killed in Egypt border attack; major assault foiled

One of three assailants who crossed from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to attack Israeli soldiers on Friday blew himself up, an Egyptian security official told AFP.

“Three gunmen infiltrated Israeli territory from central Sinai. Two were killed by the Israeli army, the third detonated the explosives vest he was wearing,” the source said.

“According to our information, an Israeli soldier was killed,” he said, in the attack in which the Israeli military said all three assailants also died.

The Israeli army confirmed that one of its soldiers was killed and another wounded in in the operation along the Egyptian border, AFP reported.

“I can confirm he is dead,” a military spokeswoman said, adding that another soldier was “moderately injured” in the attack by three gunmen who infiltrated from Egypt’s Sinai.

The Israeli military earlier said their forces had prevented a major assault.

“A big terror attack was thwarted. Three terrorists infiltrated from Sinai into Israel and opened fire towards IDF soldiers guarding the border,” army spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich said. more

David Anderson: Robber Allegedly Handed Out Cash After Crime Spree

Colorado Springs police are asking the public to return any money they might have received from a man they say is a bank robber who handed out stolen money in a hotel lobby.

Police arrested David Anderson, 26, on suspicion of aggravated robbery and attempted robbery after a string of crimes on Wednesday.

Police say the spree started when a sporting goods store reported a man with a shotgun was trying to obtain another weapon Wednesday afternoon when a shot was fired. The man left the store — a Big 5 Sporting Goods — after a struggle.

Police say suspect then moved on to an Adams Bank & Trust, where he managed to get away with some cash. more

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN SEA - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN SEA at a depth of 46.1 km (28.6 miles), the quake hit at 15:39:16 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 79 km (49 miles) West of Platanos, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake GREECE - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck GREECE at a depth of 9 km (5.6 miles), the quake hit at 13:16:12 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 6 km (3.7 miles) North of Kamárai, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NORTH OF HALMAHERA, INDONESIA - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck NORTH OF HALMAHERA, INDONESIA at a depth of 39 km (24.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:16:12 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 282 km (94 miles) North of Ternate, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anti-Islam Film: Fifteen Killed in Pakistan

Pakistani officials said 15 people have been killed in protests against an anti-Islam film - including a dozen in Karachi.

Some 160 people have been wounded during clashes with police over the movie that denigrates the Prophet Mohammed.

The fatalities came as demonstrations swept across various Muslim countries - including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Malaysia. North Africa and Sri Lanka also saw disruption.

:: Pakistan

A policeman was killed during an exchange of fire with protesters in Karachi where thousands took to the streets.

Scuffles broke out when protesters tried to march towards the US consulate, throwing stones at police and trying to remove shipping containers that blocked the road, police said. Read More

Pittsburgh Hostage Situation

Pittsburgh Police are trying to negotiate with an armed man who has taken at least one person hostage in a city office building.

Police say the man entered the building sometime after 8:00am local time on Friday and went up to a 16th floor office suite inside the Three Gateway Center.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said the man took at least one person, and possibly two, hostage inside a business after entering the suite and asking about a particular person.

A witness who works on the 16th floor identified the business where the hostage situation was unfolding as CW Breitsman Associates, a firm that helps businesses run employee benefits programs.

No shots have been fired and no injuries are reported.

More follows...

Pig Rescues Baby Goat In Water At Petting Zoo

South Korea fires at North Korean fishing boats

South Korea's navy fired warning shots Friday toward North Korean fishing boats that crossed a disputed maritime boundary, but the shots didn't hit the fishing boats and the vessels retreated, a South Korean official said.

Fishing boats routinely jostle for position in the seafood-rich Yellow Sea waters claimed by both countries during crab-catching season, which is now in high gear. Three deadly naval clashes since 1999 have taken a few dozen lives. The disputed sea boundary is not clearly marked, and incursions by North Korean military and fishing boats are not unusual.

No North Korean navy ships were involved in Friday's incident along a tense western sea boundary that the North has long refused to recognize, an official with South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, speaking anonymously because of office policy.

Six North Korean fishing boats crossed the boundary and refused to return until the South Korean Navy fired the warning shots, the official said.

North Korean fishing boats already crossed the boundary four times earlier this month but retreated each time after being warned by the South, the official said. Seoul says North Korean fishing boats also crossed the boundary in April. more

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake TARAPACA, CHILE - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck TARAPACA, CHILE at a depth of 98.8 km (61.4 miles), the quake hit at 12:17:25 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 122 km (76 miles) ENE from Iquique, Chile
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOLOMON ISLANDS - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the SOLOMON ISLANDS at a depth of 35.1 km (21.8 miles), the quake hit at 11:59:37 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 154 km (94 miles) Southwest of Dadali, Solomon Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

TARGETED KILLINGS MORE OVERT, MORI SAYS

Michael "Dan" Mori, the former military attorney who famously represented Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks, has told a Perth audience governments' targeted killings of terrorists and their associates has become more overt.


In a lecture at the University of Western Australia on Friday, Mr Mori discussed how it had become more common for governments to openly order the killing of someone under the banner of the "war on terror".

He reflected on the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, after which Israeli intelligence and special forces secretly hunted down and killed Palestinian suspected of involvement in the attack.

"Following Munich, the Israeli government felt the need to act covertly," he said.

"Somehow 40 years later, governments are finding the ability to act more overtly about targeted killings."

He also reflected on the killing of Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai in 2010.

"What was the thing most people were upset about? That passports might have been misused.

"It wasn't the fact that they killed somebody in a hotel in Dubai. Read More

New Ad Implies Obama Is Cozy With Muslim Brotherhood

The conservative advocacy group Let Freedom Ring released an ad Thursday to run in key swing states depicting President Barack Obama as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer.

The group was planning on airing the ads next month, but shifted course after Muslims attacked the Egyptian embassy and killed four Americans in Libya, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi, belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terrorist organization by some. The Brotherhood denies such claims.

Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna says Obama's response to the incidents illustrated his naïvete´ on foreign affairs.

"After our embassies were stormed, President Obama's administration offered apologies while the Muslim Brotherhood stood by as we were attacked," Hanna says. "Instead of confronting our enemies such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama kowtows to them."

The one-minute ad is part of a $7 million online campaign, which is being launched in Wisconsin, Virginia, and Pennsylvania with less than 50 days until the election.

The online ad doggedly attacks Obama for inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to the White House and supporting it financially. It blames Obama for the rise of anti-American riots across the Middle East, and also blasts the Obama administration for giving Egypt $1.5 billion in foreign aid. Read More

France bans protests over Prophet Mohammad cartoons

PARIS, Sept 21 (Reuters) - France confirmed on Friday it would allow no street protests against cartoons denigrating Islam's Prophet Mohammad that were published by a French magazine this week.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects throughout the country had orders to prohibit any protest over the issue and crack down if the ban was challenged.

"There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up," he said. Source

French embassies, consulates and international schools in 20 Muslim countries closed

French embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in around 20 Muslim countries shut up shop on Friday – the Muslim holy day – for fear of retaliatory violence following weekly prayers. The order came from the foreign ministry, which anticipates violent demonstrations over the publishing Wednesday of Prophet Mohammed cartoons by satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo. The obscene cartoons exacerbated anger among Muslim communities after more than a week of deadly protests sparked by the US-made amateurish video “Innocence of Muslims”.

Security had been beefed up on security arrangements at institutions abroad and in France, with reinforcements and armed guards on standby. The French Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning urging French citizens in the Muslim world to exercise “the greatest vigilance,” avoiding public gatherings and “sensitive buildings.” Tens of thousands of French expatriates live in Muslim countries.

Protests over the cartoons – which showed the Prophet Mohammed naked – had already begun Thursday in Tehran and Kabul. Demonstrators chanted “death to France” outside the French embassies in the two capitals. One student told TV reporters that the “doomed, nasty French” had committed an offence that the activists were willing to “sacrifice” themselves for. “What were they thinking?” he asked. Read More

Pakistan blocks mobile phone signals in 15 cities

Security forces in Islamic countries are bracing for a day of anti-western fury, with international protests planned against a YouTube video ridiculing Muslims and French cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad.

France has closed embassies and schools in about 20 countries around the world after the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a series of cartoons depicting the prophet, including two showing him naked.

Pakistan has drafted in troops to protect foreign embassies and blocked mobile phone signals in about 15 cities after thousands of violent protesters clashed with police on Thursday. The government has declared Friday "a day of love for the prophet", a move welcomed by the Taliban and that risks substantially increasing the already high threat of violence on the traditional Islamic holy day.

The American embassy in Pakistan has been running television advertisements, one featuring the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, emphasising that the US government had nothing to do with the film.

The US and French embassies were closed on Friday in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and diplomatic missions in the Afghan capital, Kabul, were on lockdown.

The cartoons in the French satirical weekly have provoked relatively little street anger, although about 100 Iranians demonstrated outside the French embassy in Tehran. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF EL SALVADOR - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck OFF THE COAST OF EL SALVADOR at a depth of 35.2 km (21.9 miles), the quake hit at 11:12:04 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 135 km (84 miles) SSW from Usulután, Usulután, El Salvador
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anti-Islam Film: Protests Spread Across Asia

Demonstrations are taking place in Muslims countries around the world in a day of protests against a film mocking the Prophet Mohammed.

:: Pakistan

One protester was wounded when a cinema guard opened fire as angry crowds armed with clubs and bamboo poles stormed the Shama cinema, known locally for showing films considered to be pornographic.

Demonstrators smashed the windows of the cinema and set it on fire.

Kashif Mahmood, a Pakistani TV reporter, has claimed his driver, Mohammad Amir, was killed when police fired to disperse the crowd.

He said three bullets hit the vehicle, including one that critically-wounded Amir, who later died at a hospital.

Doctor Mukhtar Khan, head of the Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital, said: "We have received 15 wounded so far. They include three police officials. Some have received bullet wounds.

"Some were hurt by tear gas and others suffered injuries due to the pelting of stones by protesters". Read More

Jessica Harper Jailed for 5 Years after defrauding her Employer of almost £2.5m


A former head of online security at Lloyds Banking Group is jailed for five years after defrauding the company of almost £2.5m.

Jessica Harper, 50, whose £60,000-a-year role included fighting fraud, submitted 93 false and doctored invoices to pay herself £2,463,750, which she then gave to friends and her three brothers to allow them to buy property.

The fraud took place during the financial crisis when Lloyds received substantial amounts of taxpayers' money.

She stole the money over four years by creating a dummy bank account in the name of an IT firm which carried out work for Lloyds, even throwing it off the scent when directors questioned paperwork they received.

Southwark Crown Court heard that Harper told police she deserved the money for showing "loyalty"...Read More

'Empty chair lynchings' Causes outrage after Clint Eastwood's Obama sketch as Texas Republican hangs stool from his tree

A passionate opponent of Barack Obama has come under fire for hanging an empty chair from a tree in his front yard.

The chair is apparently meant to represent the President, inspired by Clint Eastwood's speech at the Republican National Convention - but some have argued that it is a reference to the lynching of African-Americans.

However, Bud Johnson, the Texas Republican responsible for the unusual display, says that he is not racist and did not intend to send a threatening message with the chair.

The chair was first spotted hanging from a tree outside a home in Austin on Wednesday night.
Media sources were quick to point out the possibility that some could be offended by the link with lynching, a violently racist practice once prevalent in Texas. Read More

Debris explodes on Iranian football pitch

Diver Nearly Eaten By Fish

Obama Admits Failure ....By blaming others

MIAMI, Fla. - President Obama today said his failure to push comprehensive immigration reform as promised was the biggest failure of his first term but blamed Republicans in Congress for the lack of progress.

Seeeking to appeal to Latino voters at a Univision News forum, the president explained "when we talked about immigration reform in the first year, that's before the economy was on the verge of collapse, Lehman Brothers had collapsed, the stock market was collapsing, and so my first priority was making sure that we prevented us from going into a Great Depression."

In 2008, then-candidate Obama told Univision's Jorge Ramos, who anchored today's event with Maria Elena Salinas, "what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I'm promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible." Read More

Senate launches attack on Microsoft and HP for 'avoiding billions in taxes' as it is revealed big firms have $1.5TRILLION stashed overseas

Microsoft Corp., the Hewlett-Packard Co. and other multinational corporations have avoided billions in U.S. taxes by shifting profits offshore and taking advantage of weak, ambiguous sections of the tax code, Senate investigators said on Thursday.

Microsoft used 'aggressive' transactions to shift assets to subsidiaries in Puerto Rico, Ireland and Singapore, in part to avoid taxes, said the report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

In one example, the report said that the Washington state-based software giant saved $4.5 billion in taxes from 2009 to 2011 by shifting assets to Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth that offers numerous tax breaks to businesses.

The report, released at a subcommittee hearing, also said that since at least 2008, HP has used complex offshore loan transactions worth billions of dollars to avoid paying taxes while using the money to run its U.S. operations. The mammoth high tech company has its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

'The bottom line of our investigation is that some multinationals use our current tax system to engage in shams and gimmicks to avoid paying the taxes they owe,' said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the subcommittee. Read More

Adel Daoud held without bond after being charged with terror plot to detonate car bomb outside Chicago bar

The 18-year-old man accused of trying to ignite what he thought was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday and ordered held in jail without bond.

Adel Daoud was arrested last week after authorities said he tried to trigger a fake mechanism set up by FBI agents during a sting operation.

Daoud, of Hillside, a Chicago suburb, is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage or destroy a building by means of an explosive.

U.S. Magistrate Arlander Keys refused during a hearing to set a bond for Daoud, who turns 19 on Friday, saying there was no evidence that his state of mind has changed since he allegedly tried to set off a car bomb targeting people drinking at a bar in Chicago's downtown business district, known as the Loop.

According to court documents, Daoud told an undercover agent he was pursuing the attack because the U.S. was at war 'with Islam and Muslims.' The U.S. attorney's office has said the device was harmless and the public was never at risk. Read More

White House FINALLY admits U.S. consulate attacks in Libya that killed ambassador were acts of terror (but Obama still blames anti-Islam film)

The White House admitted today it was 'self-evident' that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a terrorist act - but the President himself refused to use this phrase or confirm al-Qaeda involvement.

U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in the deadly assault on the Benghazi compound on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

President Obama said on Thursday that extremists used an anti-Islam video as an excuse to assault U.S. interests overseas, including the attack on the consulate.

Speaking at a candidate forum on the Spanish-language network Univision, Obama said: 'What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.'

Asked if that meant al-Qaeda, Obama said: 'We don't know yet.'

He added: 'We will focus narrowly and forcefully on groups like al Qaeda, the ones that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Those forces have not gone away.'

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of misreading the assault as the outgrowth of widespread demonstrations in the Middle East over the video.

They insisted it was a terrorist attack, a term White House spokesman Jay Carney used on Thursday. Obama did not use the phrase.

Earlier in the week, senior State department officials had refused to call the raid an act of terrorism.

However nine days after the attacks, Carney said: 'It is, I think, self evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Read more

U.N.: Jihadists increasing in Syria

Dozens killed in Cameroon flooding

Maroua, Cameroon (CNN) -- Cameroon authorities have found six more bodies in flood waters, bringing the number killed to as high as 40 in the wake of tropical downpours and the breaching of a dam in the west African country.

The inundation in the Far North Region has affected more than 26,000, officials said Thursday, and in neighboring Nigeria at least 15 deaths are blamed on waters rushing into the country from Cameroon's compromised Lagdo Dam on the Benoue River.

Cameroon's Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary has described the flooding as "a calamity" and called for urgent action to save lives and property. Local officials are calling it the worst flood disaster in over 60 years.

Water has submerged swaths of the North Region downstream, wiping out homes, farms and livestock, and Cameroon's government has dispatched a military contingency to assist and evacuate victims. Read More

UN: Mogadishu bombing kills Somali broadcaster in "cowardly" attack

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- The United Nations condemned a suicide bombing in Somalia's capital that killed a number of people, including three journalists from state-run broadcasting services, as a "cowardly attack."

The U.N. special representative to Somalia made the comments following the attack Thursday that saw a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up inside a packed teahouse near Mogadishu's presidential palace.

"I strongly condemn this cowardly and senseless attack. These acts of terrorism cannot reverse the recent achievements that Somalia has witnessed," Augustine P. Mahiga said in a statement released Thursday. "Such incidents can only reinforce the determination of the Somali people to reject violence and engage in peaceful resolution of conflict." Read More

BlackBerry Failure: Users Hit By New System Failure

A new system failure has hit BlackBerry users across Europe, the mobile phone firm has said.

Canadian BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) said in a statement: "We are currently experiencing a BlackBerry service issue impacting some users in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"All relevant support teams are working to resolve the issue. We apologise to any customers who may be affected."

The spokeswoman said it was not clear what type of problems customers were facing or the extent of disruption for users in the UK. Read More

Japan: Number of bile duct cancer deaths for ex-workers at printing company 2,900 times normal

The number of deaths of former workers at an Osaka printing company due to bile duct cancer was around 2,900 times the usual rate for Japanese males, according to a study.

Associate professor Shinji Kumagai of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health conducted the study on Sanyo CYP, which marked the first of a string of bile duct cancer cases linked to printing companies around the country. Kumagai was to announce the results of the study at a meeting of the Japan Biliary Association on Sept. 21.

According to the study, there were 62 men who worked for a year or more at the company's proofreading division from 1991 through 2006, and of them six have died with bile duct cancer ruled as the cause of death. Based on the average bile duct cancer death rate for Japanese males, the death rate for the 62 men from the cancer should have only reached 0.00204, but the six deaths come to around 2,900 times this figure.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, meanwhile, has confirmed seven deaths of former employees of the company from bile duct cancer. Using this number, the death rate is around 3,400 times what would be expected.

The studied period of 1991 to 2006 matches with a period when the chemical substance and suspected carcinogen 1,2-Dichloropropane was used for cleaning printing machines in a poorly ventilated building.

Kumagai says, "It is clearly an abnormal number, and it is certain that bile duct cancer was caused by the work." Read More

U.S. launches test flights of Osprey aircraft in Japan despite safety fears

IWAKUNI (Kyodo) -- U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft flew over Japan for the first time on Friday in test flights amid persistent safety concerns among local people, following the Japanese government's announcement Wednesday that they are safe to fly.

The first two gray-painted Ospreys took off from the Marines' Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture one after the other in the morning. Both returned to the base by noon, without noticeable trouble. Four more conducted test flights in the afternoon.

The first two were seen flying in cruise mode with their twin rotors tilted forward over Shimonoseki in the prefecture.

After test flights around the Iwakuni base, the Marines plan to begin full operation of the Ospreys, which can take off and land like a helicopter and cruise like a fixed-wing airplane, in October at the Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.

Many people in Okinawa still oppose the deployment at the Futenma base, located in a crowded residential area, after two crashes of the aircraft overseas earlier this year. Read More

Young jobless on the rise in Europe's rich north

(Reuters) - At 29, Samira Ahidar just got a permanent job, her first.

Ahidar, who still lives with her parents, dropped out of school a decade ago and her adult life has been dominated by the search for work. She would still be jobless if it were not for a job creation scheme that employs her at an elderly care home.

"I've no idea where I'll be in five years time," said Ahidar, dressed in an orange apron that comes with her new role. "It is so hard to find work, you feel like giving up."

Ahidar does not live in Greece or Spain, countries where as many as one in two young people are without work, but in the wealthy Belgian port city of Antwerp. With its stunning 16th-century Gothic houses, the city is a world centre for diamond trading and boasts a cutting-edge fashion industry. It also has a fast-growing number of unemployed twentysomethings.

Youth unemployment is notoriously a problem of southern Europe. What is less obvious, as the euro zone slips into its second recession in just three years, is the scale of the problem in the north.

A quarter of 18-to-25 year olds in Antwerp are now jobless, up from 19 percent in 2008. In some parts of Brussels, the Belgian and European capital and the third-richest region in the European Union, youth joblessness is as high as 40 percent. In France, Britain and Sweden, as many as one in five young people are now out of work. Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN XINJIANG, CHINA - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN XINJIANG, CHINA at a depth of 29.6 km (18.4 miles), the quake hit at 10:09:26 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 159 km (99 miles) Southeast from Naryn, Kyrgyzstan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Iraq blocks Syria-bound North Korean plane, suspects weapons cargo

(Reuters) - Iraq denied permission to a North Korean plane bound for Syria to pass through Iraqi airspace last Saturday because it suspected it could be carrying weapons, a senior official said on Friday.

Iraq on Thursday denied a Western intelligence report that said Iranian aircraft had flown weapons and military personnel over Iraqi airspace to Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad battle an 18-month-old uprising.

The allegation, reported by Reuters on Wednesday, said arms transfers were organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"Continuing the Iraqi government policy to investigate the passing of weapons to Syria through Iraqi land and air space, the Iraqi authorities prevented a North Korean plane from going to Syria, after they suspected that the plane was shipping weapons," Ali al-Mossawi, media advisor to the Iraq's prime minister, told Reuters.

Moussawi said the scheduled plane's itinerary, from North Korea to Syria, was what had aroused suspicions but that there had been no contact between the Iraqi government and North Korea on the issue. Read More

Pussy Riot supporter priest to be defrocked by Russian orthodox church

A Russian orthodox priest who supported the Pussy Riot protestors is to be defrocked by the church.

According to the BBC, Deacon Sergei Baranov had already resigned over the church's treatment of three members of the band, who were jailed for two years on August for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin in one of Moscow's main cathedrals.

Their imprisonment has sparked condemnation across the world, with a raft of musicians including Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Paul McCartney calling for them to be released. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has also said they should be freed.

The church has accused Deacon Baranov of using the case as an excuse to leave the church. Read More

Iran's Top Atomic Official Says Nation Issued False Nuclear Data to Fool Spies

Iran’s top atomic energy official said in an article published Thursday that because of foreign espionage, his government had sometimes provided false information to protect its nuclear program, which Western powers and Israel have called a cloak to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.

The official, Fereydoon Abbasi, a nuclear scientist who is the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, did not specify the nature of the false information. Nor did he specify when it had been presented or to whom.

Mr. Abbasi’s remarks were quoted in an article on the Web site of Al Hayat, a pan-Arab newspaper in Britain that is considered the leading daily of the Arab diaspora. He talked this week with a correspondent for Al Hayat on the sidelines of a meeting in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitor of the United Nations, which has repeatedly demanded that Iran provide unfettered access to its inspectors to resolve unanswered questions about the nature of the country’s nuclear work.

Iran has defied the I.A.E.A.’s inspection demands as well as resolutions by the United Nations Security Council calling on Iran to halt all uranium enrichment until the agency’s unanswered questions are resolved. Read More

Pakistani leaders play religious card as protests boil

(Reuters) - Pakistan shut down Friday in a government-sanctioned protest over a film made in the United States that mocks the Prophet Mohammad, highlighting the power of religious parties to shape the political agenda.

Protesters incensed by the film and inspired by influential Pakistani religious parties set fire to a motorway toll booth just outside the capital and a cinema in the northwestern city of Peshawar in images broadcast live on television.

Pakistan's government, wary of widespread frustration over its failure to provide basic services, declared Friday a day of protest over the film in an apparent bid to exploit anger which has inspired violent protests in several Muslim countries.

Critics say this approach is typical of a government that many describe as ineffective in the face of tough challenges; from a stubborn Taliban insurgency to chronic power cuts, which have frequently triggered protests.

Others said calling for the "day of Love for the Prophet" was a shrewd political move for the embattled government. Read More

Car bomb kills 5 in Thailand's violent south

PATTANI, Thailand (AP) — Suspected Muslim insurgents have detonated a car bomb in Thailand’s violence-prone south, killing five people and wounding a dozen others.


Police Col. Asis U-mayee says suspected militants opened fire Friday on a gold shop in Pattani province’s Sai Buri district. No one was hurt and the militants fled the scene.

He said when security forces arrived at the scene, two improvised bombs hidden in gas canisters in a nearby pickup truck went off.

An administrative official and five civilians were killed, while several policemen were wounded. Read More

South Korea fires warning shots at North fishing boats

SEOUL — South Korea said its navy patrol boats fired warning shots Friday at six North Korean fishing boats that crossed their disputed Yellow Sea border in the latest of a series of incursions.

None of the North Korean vessels were hit and they swiftly returned to their side of the western sea boundary after the incident, a Defence Ministry spokesman told AFP.

"Dozens of Vulcan machine gun rounds were fired into waters near North Korean fishing boats which violated the sea border," the spokesman said.

"The operation, involving two naval patrol ships, began around 3:00 pm (0600 GMT) after our side broadcast warning messages. All North Korean boats had retreated by 4:00 pm," he added.

There was no immediate comment from the North Korean side.

The incident, which occurred close to Yeonpyeong island on the South side of the border, followed a series of recent border violations by North Korean fishing vessels.

It was the first time for two years that the South has resorted to firing warning shots to push the fishing boats back. Read More

Dale Cregan Remanded in custody

A man accused of killing two policewomen has appeared in a Manchester court charged with four murders.

Dale Cregan was remanded in custody until September 24.

The 29-year-old was charged with the murders of PC Nicola Hughes, 23, and PC Fiona Bone, 32, at a house on the Hattersley estate in Tameside, Greater Manchester, on Tuesday.

The two officers were responding to a report of a burglary in the area.

Cregan sat down as he was brought into the dock but got to his feet after he was asked to stand by District Judge Jonathan Taaffe.

He wore a false black onyx eye in his left eye socket and spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth to the courtroom, which was packed with reporters.

Manchester City Magistrates' Court also saw Cregan charged with killing David Short, 46, and his 23-year-old son Mark, who died in separate attacks earlier this year. Read More

Pakistan cinemas torched on day of rage against anti-Islam film

Protesters torched two cinemas in north-western Pakistan on Friday as clashes broke out in several cities at the start of a nationwide day of demonstrations at an anti-Muslim film.

Expat workers stayed at home, mobile phone signals were turned off and security forces sealed off roads leading to diplomatic missions and government offices in the capital Islamabad as the country went into lock-down.

The demonstrations began even before Friday prayers, which usually mark the start of trouble.

A crowd of several hundred angry demonstrators armed with clubs and bamboo sticks set fire to two cinemas in the conservative, northwestern city of Peshawar, police and witnesses said. Read More