Tuesday, September 25, 2012

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck TONGA at a depth of 42.7 km (26.5 miles), the quake hit at 01:41:43 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 71 km (44 miles) East of `Ohonua, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN SEA - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN SEA at a depth of 29.1 km (18 miles), the quake hit at 01:28:32 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 158 km (98 miles) SSE of Kas, Turkey
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 01:21:16 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 79 km (49 miles) North of La Paz, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:59:46 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 48 km (29 miles) NNE of La Paz, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 00:17:54 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 52 km (32 miles) North of La Paz, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:05:29 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 38 km (23 miles) North of La Paz, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

6.2 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 25th September 2012

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 23:45:26 UTC Tuesday 25th September 2012
The epicenter was 76 km (47 miles) NNE of La Paz, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

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Check if you are a terrorist!

Water cannon battle video: Japan clashes with Taiwan flotilla

'Free speech? Let Obama talk to Bradley Manning about it'

'Democracy kidnapped!' Clashes in Madrid as thousands surround Spanish Congress

Surround Congress clashes: Dramatic footage of night violence in Spain

Iran deploys long-range surveillance drone

Seven dead in Turkey bomb blast: hospital

UK: Hundreds of homes flooded as downpours continue

More than 300 homes have been flooded and train services disrupted as heavy rain continues across parts of the UK.

Hundreds of people are facing a night in temporary accommodation as 80 Environment Agency flood warnings remain in place.

Some areas were expected to see 50mm (2in) of rain - an average fortnight's worth - in a day, the Met Office said.

Transport was disrupted with part of the A1 closed in North Yorkshire and the East Coast mainline hit.

More than 100 vehicles were trapped on a 30-mile stretch of the A1 between junction 49 (Dishforth) and junction 60 (Bradbury), which remains closed.

The A1 northbound at Tritlington in Northumberland is also shut because of water running on to the road, police have said. Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOLOMON ISLANDS - 25th September 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the SOLOMON ISLANDS at a depth of 27.5 km (17.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:42:32 UTC Tuesday 25th September 2012
The epicenter was 39 km (24 miles) SSW from HONIARA, Solomon Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 25th September 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck TONGA at a depth of 29 km (18 miles), the quake hit at 18:33:05 UTC Tuesday 25th September 2012
The epicenter was 94 km (59 miles) East from NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

'US drone attacks are counter-productive and terrorise civilians'

Civilians are being "terrorised" 24 hours a day by CIA drone attacks that target mainly low-level militants in north-west Pakistan, a report by Stanford and New York Universities says.

It claims that follow-up strikes are also killing rescuers who set out to treat the injured.
The report, made up of interviews with victims, witnesses and experts, pins blame on US President Barack Obama for the recent increase in "signature strikes" which target groups selected through "pattern of life analysis" and which have resulted in large, innocent groups attending weddings and funerals being killed.

It states: "US drones hover 24 hours a day over communities in north-west Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.

"Their presence terrorises men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. Read More

Greek unions set to strike

Sept. 25 - A look at Wednesday's key events including French consumer confidence and a general strike in Greece

Obama: U.S. will "do what we must" on Iran

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama warned Iran on Tuesday the United States will "do what we must" to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon and said time was running short for diplomacy but ignored the Israeli prime minister's demand to set a "red line" for Tehran.

Taking the podium at the United Nations six weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Obama sought to counter criticism of his foreign record by Republican rival Mitt Romney, who has accused him of mishandling the Arab Spring uprisings, damaging ties with Israel and not being tough enough on Iran.

Obama also challenged world leaders to stand united against anti-American violence that has swept many Muslim countries in recent weeks and to promote tolerance amid anger over a crudely made video that offended Islam.

Seeking to step up pressure on Iran, Obama told the U.N. General Assembly that there was still scope for reaching a diplomatic solution but that "time is not unlimited." Read More

China carrier a show of force as Japan tension festers

(Reuters) - China sent its first aircraft carrier into formal service on Tuesday amid a tense maritime dispute with Japan in a show of force that could worry its neighbors.

China's Ministry of Defence said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would "raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy" and help Beijing to "effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests".

In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China's first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say.

The Pentagon played down the event, with spokesman George Little telling a briefing that the United States was monitoring China's development of its military but noted, "This wasn't a particular surprise." Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake UNIMAK ISLAND REGION, ALASKA - 25th September 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck UNIMAK ISLAND REGION, ALASKA at a depth of 40 km (24.8 miles), the quake hit at 15:48:45 UTC Tuesday 25th September 2012
The epicenter was 99 km (61 miles) SSW of False Pass, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif: Guantanamo Bay prisoner died without having ever been charged with a crime

Two weeks ago, the Pentagon quietly released a statement that another Guantanamo detainee had died in custody, the ninth since the prison was opened in 2001. Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a 32-year-old man from Yemen who had spent eleven years incarcerated, was found dead in his cell on September 8.

The cause of his death has been recorded as unknown and may never truly be known, but Latif had long suffered from feelings of extreme depression during his time in jail, having made several suicide attempts in the previous years.

Latif had long complained of abuse by prison staff and of his deteriorating physical and mental condition during his imprisonment. Two years earlier, he had written that guards "entered my cell on a regular basis. They throw me and drag me on the floor... they strangle me and press hard behind my ears until I lose consciousness". In 2009 he slit his wrists in an attempt to end his life, writing about the incident later to his lawyer to say that his circumstances in Guantanamo "make death more desirable than living". more

Thousands Rage Against Austerity In Madrid

Thousands of protesters have marched on the parliament building in Madrid as anger over austerity measures and tax hikes increases in the country.

More than 1,000 riot police blocked off access to the parliament building in the centre of the capital.

Officers used batons to push back some protesters at the front of the march.

The demonstration, with an "Occupy Congress" slogan, drew protesters weary of nine straight months of painful measures imposed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Spain is struggling in its second recession in three years with unemployment near 25%.

The country has introduced austerity measures and economic reforms as it attempts to convince its euro partners and investors it is serious about reducing its deficit to 6.3% of GDP this year. Read More

Jordan on the brink: Muslim Brothers mobilize for King Abdullah’s overthrow

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood has given King Abdullah II notice that he has until October to bow to their demand to transform the Hashemite Kingdom into a constitutional monarchy or face Arab Spring street pressure for his abdication.

Debkafile’s Middle East sources report that Israeli and Saudi intelligence watchers are becoming increasingly concerned about the approaching climax of the conflict in Amman between Islamists and the throne .

For Israel, an upheaval in Jordan bodes the tightening of the Islamist noose around its borders – Egypt and Libya to the south and Syria to the north, with unpredictable consequences with regard to Jordan’s Palestinian population.

Saudi Arabia, already threatened by Iranian aggression, fears the oil kingdom may be next in line if its northern neighbor is crushed under the marching feet of the “Arab Spring.”

The oil kingdom’s royal rulers are reported to have belatedly woken up to the peril and are in a panic. They realize that their preoccupation with helping Syrian rebels overthrow Bashar Assad misdirected their attention from the enemies lurking at their own door. Thousands of articles in the Arab press in the past year have predicted that after the Muslim Brotherhood seizes power in Damascus, Amman would be next in its sights followed by Riyadh. more

Man Crushed by Road Flattening Truck On Orders of Chinese Officials

A villager in northern China attempting to resist a forced government relocation by remaining on his land was brutally crushed to death by a road flattening truck on the orders of a Chinese government official.

The story, which was censored in China’s state controlled media, has caused outrage amongst users of Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, given it’s horrifying similarity to what happened to student protesters who were crushed to death by tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

The victim, He Zhi Hua, refused to accept a paltry payment from the government which has forcefully evicted Changsha Village locals in order to re-appropriate their land for commercial use.

When Hua began a protest by lying down on the spot through which construction vehicles had to pass, the local Vice Mayor ordered workers for the state-owned company to murder Hua by driving over his body with a huge road-flattening truck.

Shocking images show Hua’s pulverized brains and his mangled body in the aftermath of the state-sponsored execution.

Fearing unrest if the story got out to a wider audience, the government sent in 200 men to keep angry locals at bay and hide the remains of the body. The man’s family was offered a sum of money in order to keep quiet about the incident. more

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 25th September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck NORTHERN CALIFORNIA at a depth of 9.9 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 15:15:09 UTC Tuesday 25th September 2012
The epicenter was 4 km (2.4 miles) North from Talmage, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 25th September 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 25.4 km (15.8 miles), the quake hit at 14:21:39 UTC Tuesday 25th September 2012
The epicenter was 139 km (86 miles) ENE of Hasaki, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Is everybody getting ready for a war?

Against the background of the growing political tensions in the region, on September 19 Israel conducted a brief but full-scale military exercise on the Golan Heights that was designed to test the level of combat readiness of the Israeli Army in the event of a sudden attack. The observers believe that the most probable reason for such an attack from the states neighboring the Golans would be a potential Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

The exercise in the Golans only took a day, but was quite intensive. Military units from all regions of the country were engaged in it. In its turn, that exercise was just a part of a series of such full-scale exercises of different types; combat arms and services, as well as testing the readiness of the civilian population for a potential beginning of a military conflict. In late August the Israeli Home Front Command together with the rescue services conducted an exercise simulating the evacuation of civilians from buildings as well as tested the civilian population warning systems that warned people of a missile strike via mobile telephone text messages. Bomb shelters were also inspected.

Military exercises including those involving Israel's civilian population are not rare. But recently they have become too frequent. Why? There is no secret about it, According to the rumors widely spread by the mass media; Israel is already ready to strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Journalists learned about a potential two-phase attack by Israel. First, the communications, military command and missile defense facilities will be attacked by ballistic missiles from submarines. Then the Air Force will join in to demolish nuclear facilities and ballistic missile bunkers. Read More

US Economy Sustained by Export of Dollars and Wars

For those who feel that 13 is an unlucky number, the belief was vindicated on September 13, considering that a new liquidity injection – a massive infusion of freshly printed and essentially worthless money into the global economy – was announced in the US on the day. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that, as a third round of quantitative easing (QE3), the US would beef up its long-term securities holdings by open-ended purchases of $40b of mortgage debt. 

No information concerning the total to be thrown into QE3 was supplied. Instead, Bernanke made it clear that Operation Twist - a program to swap $667b of short-term debt for long-term securities – would continue. Earlier, the swap fund used to measure $400b, meaning that, in fact, Bernanke pledged to give it an appreciable boost. He also sent a portion of cheering news to the US financial sector by telling that the unprecedentedly low federal funds rate – 0 to 0.25% - will stay in effect at least through mid-2015 rather than till the end of 2014 as decided earlier. Knowing what exactly constitutes the main US export should give a reasonable idea of what the QE3 plan promises worldwide.

The past two rounds of quantitative easing led to the infusion of $1.2 trillion into the global economy and, by September 2012, drove the US debt to the $16 trillion mark. Facing the dollar tide, the European Central Bank had to similarly resort to massive emission. The results were the ability of Greece to steer clear of the anticipated default, and, from a wider perspective, the sustained PIIGS buoyancy, plus the growing volatility of the energy and commodity markets. Importantly, the price of gold climbed steadily against the background.

The launch of QE3 echoed with practically the same trends:

• The price of gold added 3.3% overnight on September 13-14, increasing from $1,718 to $1,772 per troy ounce;

• Crude prices started to rise, with Brent's $2 per barrel jump being a minor sign of what the future holds and with the cost of natural gas trailing;

• The Euro to US dollar ratio went up, breaking the 1.3 ceiling and stabilizing at 1.303 early on September 14;

• Food and commodities began to post scary readings;

• Benchmark indexes rocketed, prompting speculation that a new bubble was being inflated. Read More

Spain is headed off a cliff

Facebook Privacy: France Summons Bosses

French ministers have ordered Facebook managers to appear before the country's data watchdog to explain reports that private messages appeared in public areas on the social network.

Metro newspaper reported that a "non-systemic" problem at Facebook had caused certain personal messages, some several years old, to be displayed on people's public timelines.

Facebook, however, denied any problems with its security systems and said any old data that may have appeared on timelines did not come from users' private messages.

"A minority of users were worried after seeing messages they thought to be private appearing on their Timelines," a spokesman for Facebook France said.

"Facebook engineers examined the situation and confirmed that the messages in question were old postings, which had previously been visible on the users' profiles."

Industry minister Arnaud Montebourg and small businesses minister Fleur Pellerin said they were looking for "clear and transparent explanations" from Facebook. Read More

Greece says bailout extension would cost an Extra 13-15 billion euros

(Reuters) - Greece would need an additional 13-15 billion euros ($17-$19) to finance a two-year extension to meet its budget targets but is confident of bridging that gap without burdening European taxpayers, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told Reuters on Tuesday.

He also confirmed that the country's fiscal gap to hit its 2013 and 2014 targets remained at 13.5 billion euros. Athens has been discussing fiscal measures worth that amount with its European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders.

"We estimate the funding gap that would be created if we get the two-year extension at 13-15 billion euros," Stournaras said. Read More

U.S. fiscal cliff looms over global economy

(Reuters) - The euro zone has stepped back from the brink of disaster for now, but the global economy could soon be staring into another abyss if U.S. politicians fail to head off $600 billion in automatic austerity that all but guarantees a new recession.

The long-term fate of the single currency remains unclear, but nerves have calmed since the European Central Bank promised on September 6 to act as the buyer of last resort for Spanish and Italian bonds.

Now, exactly six weeks before the U.S. general election, fiscal gridlock in Washington is coming back on the global economy's risk radar.

If opinion polls hold steady and prove accurate, President Barack Obama, a Democrat, will defeat Republican Mitt Romney on November 6. The House of Representatives is likely to stay in the hands of the Republicans, who have a chance of seizing control of the Senate.

On the surface, with power split, that could make it harder to avert $600 billion in spending reductions and expiring tax cuts, equal to 4 percent of gross domestic product, that will kick in at the start of 2013 unless a deal is struck to shrink the U.S. budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Read More

Bombs explode at security site in Damascus: rebels

(Reuters) - Bombs planted by rebels exploded at a school building occupied by security forces and pro-government militias in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Tuesday, activists and rebels said.

Residents said smoke was billowing from the area in southeastern Damascus and an activist said ambulances were rushing to the scene.

"At exactly 9:35 a.m., seven improvised devices were set off in two explosions to target a school used for weekly planning meetings between shabbiha militia and security officers," said Abu Moaz, a leader of Ansar al-Islam, one of the rebel groups in the 18-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

The state news channel Syria TV quoted a government official as saying two improvised explosives planted by "terrorists" blew up near the "Sons of Martyrs" school in Damascus. It said seven people were wounded, with minor damage to buildings.

Rebels said they expected high casualties from the blast but they did not give any confirmed reports of deaths.

"There were several officers present, and we are hoping they will be part of a large number of killed in this operation," Abu Moaz said. Read More

Obama warns Iran on nuclear bid, containment "no option"

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will warn Iran on Tuesday that the United States will "do what we must" to prevent it acquiring a nuclear weapon, and appeal to world leaders for a united front against further attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Muslim countries.

Preparing to take the podium at the United Nations six weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Obama hopes to counter criticism of his foreign record by Republican rival Mitt Romney, who has accused him of mishandling the Arab Spring uprisings, damaging ties with Israel and not being tough enough on Iran.

Seeking to step up pressure on Iran, Obama will tell the U.N. General Assembly that there is still time for a diplomacy but that "time is not unlimited," according to advance excerpts of his speech, due to begin sometime around 1315 GMT.

His tough talk appears aimed at easing Israeli concerns about U.S. resolve to curb Tehran's nuclear drive, as he reasserts before the world body that he will never let Iran develop an atomic bomb and then simply contain the problem. Read More

Europe must take "deep breath" and enact reforms: Merkel

(Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that Europe could only hope to come out of its crisis stronger and compete in a globalised world if its members pressed ahead with painful reforms and moved to more responsible budget policies.

Speaking at a meeting of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Merkel acknowledged that Germany was "not an island" that could disconnect from economic developments in Europe and the world economy.

But she placed the onus on Berlin's struggling euro zone partners to fix their own economies, rejecting the idea that Germany should relax its own productivity drive in order to help its partners.

"We need to take a deep breath to overcome this crisis," Merkel said. "We must make the efforts that will allow Europe to come out of this crisis stronger than it went in."

"There is a lack of confidence on financial markets that some euro zone states can pay back their debts in the long term," she continued. "The world wonders how competitive euro zone countries are."

The German leader said tough reforms in southern Europe had led to some convergence of unit labor costs across the euro zone, but made clear that there was still work to do.

She also expressed regret that the European Court of Justice had not been given stronger powers to intervene in national budget policies in the euro zone.

"We can't have support without controls. The two go hand in hand," Merkel said. Read More

Flooding Alerts: Seventy-Three Areas At Risk

Flood warnings are in place across the country as rivers burst their banks and forecasters say there is more bad weather to come.

More than 200 properties have reportedly been flooded, with 42 properties in the South West, 35 in the Midlands and 20 in the South East affected.

There has been widespread disruption and long delays to rail services in the South West, the Midlands, northern England and Wales, with the lines between Exeter and Bristol, and Wakefield and Leeds among those hit.

There has also been major disruption to transport after parts of the UK were battered with more heavy rain following downpours at the weekend.

Motorists had to be rescued from their vehicles overnight while residents of 85 properties in Morpeth were evacuated this morning due to the flood risk. Read More

Syrian mortar bombs land in Israeli orchard

(Reuters) - Mortar bombs fired from Syria crossed the frontier with Israel and landed in an orchard early Tuesday, but caused no injuries or damage, the Israeli army said.

A military spokesman said the bombs were not aimed at Israelis and that Israel had lodged a complaint with the United Nations observer force that monitors a long-standing, de facto truce between the two countries.

A source in the area said the orchard belonged to an Israeli agricultural community in the occupied Golan Heights which lie close to Syrian villages, where fighting has flared between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The army said there was a similar incident in the same area on July 23. It was not immediately clear which side in the Syrian conflict had fired Tuesday's bombs.

Last week, Israel's military unexpectedly launched a large-scale exercise on the Golan Heights, testing its battle readiness amid tensions over Iran's nuclear program and the civil war in Syria. Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 25th September 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS at a depth of 565km (351.1 miles), the quake hit at 05:37:52 UTC Tuesday 25th September 2012
The epicenter was 556 km (345 miles) SSW of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Envoy Fears Syria's Civil War Could Spread

Syria's civil war is worsening and could spread across the Middle East, an international envoy has told the UN Security Council.

Lakhdar Brahimi said the situation is "extremely bad and getting worse", adding that it is a "threat to the region and a threat to peace and security in the world".

Activists claim nearly 30,000 people have died in the uprising which began in March 2011 - this includes reports of attacks on Monday by Syrian warplanes in the northern city of Aleppo.

Mr Brahimi has just returned from Syria and refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey, and produced a gloomy report of a looming food crisis, battle-damaged schools and shuttered factories. Read More

UK Floods: Homes Evacuated In Northumbria

Residents in Morpeth have been told to take 'immediate action' as a precaution against the flooding from the River Wansbeck bursting its banks.

The move comes as a flood warning was issued in Northumbria early this morning leading to some residents of Morpeth evacuating their homes.

In parts of North Yorkshire six people had to be rescued from vehicles stranded in floodwater overnight and Fire and Rescue Service received more than 80 calls to incidents related to the heavy rain.

Five people also had to be rescued from their vehicles in the Skeeby area while one person was rescued in Whashton.

Rachel Sweeney, who works for Tyne Tees television, said on Twitter: "My car is stuck! I'm in a van with a prisoner and two cops called Emma and Alec!"

Several cars had to be removed from standing floodwater on the A1, where the River Swale intersects the road at Brompton on Swale and ten people were taken to safety on inflatable rafts by firefighters after flooding near their homes in St Helens, Merseyside. Read More

Heil Mittler!


White House said to plan executive order on cybersecurity

(Reuters) - The White House is preparing to direct federal agencies to develop voluntary cybersecurity guidelines for owners of power, water and other critical infrastructure facilities, according to people who said they had seen recent drafts of an executive order.

The prospective order would give the agencies 90 days to propose new regulations and create a new cybersecurity council at the Department of Homeland Security with representatives from the Defense Department, Justice Department, Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Commerce, a former government cyber-security official told Reuters.

"It tells those who have the ability to regulate to go forth and do so," said the person, who is currently outside the government and spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preserve access to government officials.

The draft executive order includes elements of what had been the leading cybersecurity overhaul bill in the Senate, which was defeated this summer amid opposition from industries opposed to increased regulation. Read More

Clinton offers more U.S. help as Libya battles militias

(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered Libya more help on Monday as it seeks to rein in militias, stressing that Washington will remain a firm partner despite this month's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Clinton met Mohammed Magarief, who was elected to head Libya's ruling national assembly in August, and received his personal apology for the September 11 attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

"What happened on 11th of September towards these U.S. citizens does not express in any way the conscience of the Libyan people, their aspirations, their hopes or their sentiments towards the American people," Magarief told Clinton at their meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York.

A senior U.S. official said Clinton reviewed U.S. assistance to Libya as it works to secure chemical weapons and other dangerous armaments and to crack down on armed militia groups that have sprung up since the ouster of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Read More

Clinton reassures Egypt's Morsy on US assistance

NEW YORK - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reassured Egypt's new Islamist president on Monday that the United States would forge ahead with plans to expand economic assistance despite anti-American protests that cast new shadows over US engagement with the region.

Clinton met Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy in New York, where both are attending this week's UN General Assembly meeting, and reinforced the Obama administration's continued commitment to provide both military and economic aid for Cairo, a senior State Department official said.

"What he heard from the secretary is that she is committed to following through on what she has said we will do," the official said following the 45-minute meeting. Source

Attack by Iran's Ahmadinejad sparks Israel walkout

Iran's President called Israel a nuclear-armed "fake regime" shielded by the United States, prompting Israel's UN ambassador to walk out of a high-level UN meeting promoting the rule of law.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also accused the US and others of misusing freedom of speech and failing to speak out against the defamation of people's beliefs and "divine prophets," an apparent reference to the recently circulated amateur video made in the US which attacks Islam and denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.

The Iranian leader, who has called for Israel's destruction, used his speech to denounce Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory and US vetoes in the UN Security Council to back its ally. He urged all nations to "hold occupiers accountable and make efforts to return the occupied territories to their rightful owners." Ahmadinejad blamed the "discriminatory" veto power of the US, China, Russia, Britain and France for the Security Council's failure to ensure peace in the world, and he called for a change in the rules "in favor of nations with due regard to justice."

As Ahmadinejad addressed leaders and ministers from more than 100 countries, Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor walked out of the General Assembly hall.

"Ahmadinejad showed again that he not only threatens the future of the Jewish people, he seeks to erase our past," Prosor said in a statement. Read More

New SARS-like virus detected: WHO

LONDON: The World Health Organization said on Monday it is too soon to say whether there could be an outbreak of a SARS-like killer respiratory disease after health officials in Britain announced they detected a related virus in a severely ill patient from the Middle East.

British officials alerted WHO on Saturday of the new virus in a man transferred from Qatar for treatment in London. He had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia, where another man died of a similar illness earlier this year.

The man in the new case was sickened by a coronavirus , from a family of viruses which causes most common colds but also includes the virus that causes SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome . In 2003, SARS killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a brief epidemic. Read More

IMF's Christine Lagarde says Argentina faces 'red card'

International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde has warned Argentina it could face sanctions unless it produces reliable growth and inflation data.

Ms Lagarde gave Argentina until 17 December to address the problem.

The IMF head said the fund had given Argentina a "yellow card" but it could face a red.

Private economists say annual inflation in Argentina is at 24%, much higher than the official 10% figure.

"We had to choose between the yellow card and the red card. We chose the yellow card. If no progress has been made, then the red card will be out," she said.

Speaking in Washington, Ms Lagarde said Argentina had been given three months to provide reliable estimates on growth and inflation. Read More

Greece: Blasphemy Charge Over Facebook Pasta Page

A man has been charged with blasphemy in Greece for lampooning a monk on Facebook.

Police allege the unnamed 27-year-old set up a Facebook page referring to the late Elder Paisios by the mocking name Geron Pastitsios, which is a Greek pasta and beef dish.

In a screenshot of the Facebook page, which has now been removed from the social network, the monk is shown with a plate of pastitsios in front of him.

The suspect was arrested on the island of Evia at the weekend after complaints were received by the Greek police's cyber crime bureau.

Police confiscated the man's laptop and "determined that he was indeed the person who created and managed" the page, according to a police news release.

It said the page contained "blasphemy and insults against Elder Paisios and Orthodox Christianity" in general.

He could face a fine of up to 3,000 euro (£2,390) or two years in prison under Greece's strict blasphemy laws.

The arrest sparked outrage across the internet, and the hashtag #FreeGeronPastitios trended for several hours. Read More

Abu Hamza CAN Be Extradited To US

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza can be extradited to the US after Europe's human rights judges rejected his request for an appeal, officials have said.

Hamza wanted to fight a European Court of Human Rights ruling that extradition would not breach his human rights.

But his request was rejected by a panel of judges, a spokesman for the court said.

The unanimous judgment said there would be no human rights breach either as a result of likely detention in ADX Florence "supermax" prison in Colorado, or the length of possible sentences on conviction.

The decision means Hamza, who was jailed for seven years for soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred, can now be extradited with four others, including terror suspect Babar Ahmad.

Computer expert Ahmad has been held in a UK prison without trial for eight years after being accused of raising funds for terrorism. Read More

Tornado damages 120 houses, fells trees, posts in QC, Philippines

At least 120 houses were damaged in Barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City, after a tornado tore through the community around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Barangay chairperson Crisell Beltran said the tornado blew off the roofs of houses and uprooted several trees and electric posts, causing a power outage in the area.

According to residents, the tornado hit the communities of Area 5 and Lingayen in Sitio Veterans, Panther Street in Sitio Veterans 4 and a house in Spring Country.

Fortunately, no one was reported killed or hurt when it struck.

Beltran, meanwhile, asked the city government to provide assistance to affected residents, particularly those who need to repair their damaged houses.

Most of the houses in the area which is situated near a small creek were made of light materials. Julie M. Aurelio Source