Friday, September 28, 2012

Almost Half Of All Americans Support Domestic Surveillance Drones

Close to half of Americans say they are in favour of police departments deploying surveillance drones domestically.

According to a survey conducted by The Associated Press and The National Constitution Center, 44 percent support the idea of police using unmanned aerial vehicles to track suspects and carry out investigations.

Only 36 percent said that they “strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose” police use of drones, according to the survey.

The poll also found that only one third of Americans say they are significantly concerned about their privacy being eroded by the adoption of drones by police forces throughout the country.

Thrity-five percent of respondents said they were “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” when asked if they believed that police departments’ use of drones for surveillance would impact their privacy.

Almost exactly the same number, 36 percent, noted that they were “not too concerned” or “not concerned at all”, while twenty-four percent were neutral on the issue, saying they were only “somewhat concerned” about a potential loss of privacy.

David Eisner, president and CEO of the constitution center in Philadelphia, told the AP that he was somewhat baffled by the response to the poll:

“I had assumed that the idea that American police would be using the same technology that our military is using in Afghanistan would garner an almost hysterical response,” Eisner said. Support for drone use “shows that people are feeling less physically secure than they’d like to because they are willing to accept fairly extreme police action to improve that security.” more

Japan and China 'heading for military clash'

A military conflict between China and Japan is looming, with neither willing to back down over a disputed chain of islands, one of China's leading foreign policy experts has warned.

The spat over the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands has escalated dramatically in the past month with violent protests in China. But with a national election approaching in Japan, and a change of leadership in China, politicians on both sides have refused to step back from the brink, afraid of appearing weak.

"There is a danger of China and Japan having a military conflict," said Yan Xuetong, one of China's most influential foreign policy strategists, and a noted hawk. "I do not see either side making concessions. Both sides want to solve the situation peacefully, but neither side can provide the right approach."

He warned that unless one side backed down, there could be a repeat of the Falklands conflict in Asia.

"Generally speaking, according to the theory of international relations, unless one country makes concessions to the other, the escalation of a conflict between two countries will not stop until there is a military clash, like between the UK and Argentina," he said.

He said that China was tolerant with smaller powers. "But the case of Japan is different. There is history between us. Japan is a big power. It regards itself as a regional, and sometimes a world power. So China can very naturally regard Japan as an equal. And if we are equal, you cannot poke us. You cannot make a mistake," he said. more

Chinese hackers have control of US power grid

The company whose software and services remotely administers and monitor large sections of the US energy industry began warning customers about a sophisticated hacker attack.

Telvent Canada said that digital fingerprints left behind by attackers point to a Chinese hacking group tied to repeated cyber-espionage campaigns against key Western interests.

It looks like the hackers managed to get past the company firewall and security systems.

In letters sent to customers last week, Telvent Canada said the attack happened on September the 10th.

The attackers installed malicious software and stole project files related to one of its core offerings — OASyS SCADA — a product that helps energy firms mesh older IT assets with more advanced “smart grid” technologies.

The company said it was disconnecting the usual data links between clients and affected portions of its internal networks.

Meanwhile it is looking for virus or malware files.

According to KrebsOnSecurity.com, the company does not think that the intruders got any information that would enable them to gain access to a customer system or that any of the compromised computers have been connected to a customer system. more

College students defaulting at record rate

Student loan defaults have risen for the fifth straight year, as students from traditional non-profit universities are having an increasingly difficult time paying off their college debt.

Numbers released by the Department of Education Friday show that of the 4.1 million borrowers who began making payments in late 2009 and early 2010, 9.1% defaulted within two years, up from 8.8% the year before.

Experts credited the combination of skyrocketing student debt and the poor economy for the increase. Unlike previous years, when default rates rose because of borrowers at for-profit universities, this year's rise was attributed to borrowers who attended more traditional non-profit public and private universities. Public school borrowers defaulted at a rate of 8.3%, up from 5.9% just four years ago.

For the first time in four years, the for-profit school default rate dropped from the previous year, to 12.9% from 15%.

According to the Project on Student Debt, two-thirds of college seniors graduating from non-profit four-year colleges in 2010 had student loan debt, and the average owed was $25,250 -- up 5% from a year earlier. Unemployment rates among young college graduates, meanwhile, was 9.1% in 2010.

A study from the Pew Research Center released this week found that one-fifth of all the nation's households owed some student debt in 2010. more

IRAN VOWS ENEMIES WILL NOT SURVIVE

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- An Iranian general has said that his country's enemies will not survive if they attack Iran's nuclear sites.

A Friday report by the semiofficial ISNA news agency quotes Gen. Farzad Esmaili, chief of air defense, as saying "we vow our enemies will not survive," if they attack Iran's nuclear sites.

The nuclear sites are a symbol of pride for Iran, he said, adding that "we will defend our dignity with our lives and blood."

The remarks come a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the world to draw a clear "red line" to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Israel has not ruled out military action against Iran's nuclear facilities. Read More

FRANCE SETS 75% 'SUPER TAX' RATE

(Reuters) - France unveiled an austerity budget that would tax business and the super rich, but a report showing Spain's banks needed a manageable 59 billion euros in new funds bought time for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he seeks to avoid a bailout.

Socialist President Francois Hollande's 2013 budget amounts to France's toughest belt-tightening for 30 years as the debt crisis takes its toll on the euro zone.

The package aims to narrow France's deficit to 3.0 percent of national output next year from 4.5 percent this year, bringing in 30 billion euros ($39 billion) for the treasury.

But the budget dismayed business by opting for tax hikes -- including a 75 percent tax on those earning over one million euros a year -- by holding public spending and not cutting government jobs. Read More

Fed's Fisher says U.S. is "drowning" in unemployment

(Reuters) - The United States is "drowning in unemployment," its economy is running at stall speed and inflation is "not a problem," but easier monetary policy is not the answer, one of the Federal Reserve's most hawkish policymakers said on Friday.

"We've had a recovery that is quite disappointing," Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said.

But without more certainty on tax policy and regulation, he said, "all the monetary accommodation in the world" will not get businesses hiring again.

In particular, businesses are unable to plan for the future as long as a raft of spending cuts and tax increases dubbed the 'fiscal cliff' looms at the end of the year, he said.

"A short-term fix to the fiscal cliff will do nothing but push out the envelope of indecision and we will continue to be plagued by high unemployment," Fisher said.

The Fed this month said it would buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month to lower borrowing costs in an effort to boost employment, and pledged not to stop buying until the labor market improves substantially, as long as inflation remains under control.

Unemployment has been above 8 percent for more than three years; inflation is currently below the Fed's goal of 2 percent. Read More

Benjamin Netanyahu draws 'red line' on Iran nuclear programme

2.7 Magnitude Earthquake SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 2.7 earthquake has struck the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA at a depth of 7.2 km (4.5 miles), the quake hit at 16:25:55 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 3 km (1.8 miles) ESE from Berkeley, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anders Behring Breivik's speech to hit German theatre

(Reuters) - A Turkish-German actress will read out Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik's bizarre courtroom speech in German theatres next month in an effort to highlight the widespread prevalence of far-right ideology in Europe.

Swiss director Milo Rau adapted the script of "Breivik's Explanation" for the German stage from an audio recording of the hour-long speech the far-right nationalist gave in April before being sentenced by an Oslo court to 21 years in prison for killing 77 people last year.

Though Breivik's talk of an international underground of killers - latter-day Crusaders he called the Knights Templar - seemed to be mere fantasy, many of his beliefs are to be found within the fold of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant populists.

"His ideological `manifesto' is a distilled representation of a cultural crisis that pervades the European continent and finds expression in an increasingly xenophobic populism," Kirsten Simonsen, a professor at Denmark's Roskilde University, wrote in "Bloodlands", a 2012 series of essays about Breivik. Read More

French budget bashes business and whacks wealthy

Sept. 28 - France taxes the rich and business to slash its deficit but cutting so aggressively will hurt growth says AG2R La Mondiale chief economist Philippe Brossard.

"Gospel of Jesus' wife" fragment is fake: Vatican

(Reuters) - An ancient papyrus fragment which a Harvard scholar says contains the first recorded mention that Jesus may have had a wife is a fake, the Vatican said on Friday.

"Substantial reasons would lead one to conclude that the papyrus is indeed a clumsy forgery," the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said in an editorial by its editor, Gian Maria Vian. "In any case, it's a fake."

Joining a highly charged academic debate over the authenticity of the text, written in ancient Egyptian Coptic, the newspaper published a lengthy analysis by expert Alberto Camplani of Rome's La Sapienza university, outlining doubts about the manuscript and urging extreme caution.

The fragment, which reads "Jesus said to them, my wife" was unveiled by Harvard Professor Karen King as a text from the 4th century at a congress of Coptic Studies in Rome last week.

Her study divided the academic community, with some hailing it as a landmark discovery while others rapidly expressed their doubts . Read More

New SARS virus Not spreading easily between people: WHO

(Reuters) - A new and potentially fatal virus from the same family as SARS which was discovered in a patient in London last week appears not to spread easily form person to person, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

In an update on the virus, which has so far killed a Saudi man and made a patient from Qatar critically ill, the United Nations health agency said it was working with international partners to understand the public health risk better.

"From the information available thus far, it appears that the novel coronavirus cannot be easily transmitted from person-to-person," it said in a statement.

The WHO put out a global alert on Sunday saying a new virus had infected a 49-year-old Qatari who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where another man with the same virus had died.

The Qatari was described as critically ill on Tuesday and is being treated in a London hospital. No new confirmed cases of infection with the virus have since been reported, the WHO said. Read More

Syrians moved some chemical weapons to boost security: U.S

(Reuters) - Syrians have moved some of their chemical weapons capability to better secure it, but the country's main chemical weapons sites remain intact and secure under government control, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday, citing U.S. intelligence.

Responding to questions about the security of Syria's chemical weapons sites, Panetta said U.S. intelligence showed the major Syrian sites were secure in government hands, but some chemicals had been moved.

It was not clear when the movement took place, or even if it was recent, but Panetta told a Pentagon news conference it had occurred in more than one case.

"There has been some intelligence that with regards to some of these sites, that there has been some movement in order for the Syrians to better secure ... the chemicals," he said. "So while there's been some limited movement, again the major sites still remain in place, still remain secure." Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 21.4 km (13.3 miles), the quake hit at 15:36:26 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 77 km (48 miles) North from Settlement, Anegada, British Virgin Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 27.7 km (17.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:24:54 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 52 km (32.2 miles) North of La Paz, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

EU Commission Takes Cyprus And Netherlands To Court For Failing To Transpose EU Rules

The European Commission is referring Cyprus and the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to notify national measures to implement EU rules easing access to justice in cross-border legal disputes.

The Mediation Directive applies when two parties involved in a cross-border dispute voluntarily agree to settle their dispute using an impartial mediator. The deadline for transposing the Directive into national law was 21 May 2011.

“We take action to ease access to justice in the European Union,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “Mediation is an important alternative to going to court in cross-border disputes and can help parties find an amicable settlement. It saves time, money and spares parties involved in already emotional family cases the additional trauma of going to court.”

Settling disputes and disagreements through courts is often costly and time-consuming. Cross-border cases are particularly complex due to different national laws and practical matters like costs or language.

Under the rules of the Directive, Member States have to ensure that mediated agreements can be enforced. According to an EU-funded study, the time wasted by not using mediation is estimated to be on average between 331 and 446 extra days in the EU, with extra legal costs ranging from €12,471 to €13,738 per case.

The Commission proposes a daily fine of €6.758,4 for Cyprus, and €70.553,6 for the Netherlands, which would be paid as from the date of the Court’s affirmative ruling until the Member States concerned notify the Commission that they have fully implemented the rules into national law. Source

Salford Shootings Spur Armed Police Patrols

Armed police are patrolling the streets of Salford in Greater Manchester after six shootings in less than a month were blamed on two warring crime gangs.

Police have been called to five incidents where shots were fired and a sixth report of gunfire since September 9.

No one has been injured but officers described the shootings as "reckless and dangerous" and called for them to stop.

It is understood two rival crime gangs have been locked in a dispute for the past month and have been firing at front doors, car windows and houses as "warning shots," a senior police source said.

Patrols in the area have been stepped up.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan told Sky News: "There an ongoing dispute between two groups and they're using firearms to try and resolve that dispute. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake MINDORO, PHILIPPINES - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck MINDORO, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 141 km (87.6 miles), the quake hit at 14:25:47 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 12 km (7.4 miles) WNW of Bagalangit, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake GUAM REGION - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the GUAM REGION at a depth of 110.3 km (68.5 miles), the quake hit at 12:11:48 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 22 km (13 miles) WNW of Agat Village, Guam
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Jeremy Forrest is arrested after 15-year-old schoolgirl Megan Stammers is tracked down to Bordeaux.

Missing schoolgirl Megan Stammers has been located in France with her maths teacher Jeremy Forrest, according to Sussex police.

In a statement, police said: "They were found today (Friday 28 September) at 12.15pm UK time. Mr Forrest has been arrested and Megan has been taken into protection."

Forrest was arrested on suspicion of child abduction.

The pair, who left Britain on a cross-Channel ferry on September 20, were found as "a direct result of media coverage in France," the police added.

Sky's home affairs correspondent Mark White said Megan's disappearance had not been headline news in France.

"It was in quite a few of the papers and on television. It was in the public conscious, but it only began to get something more in the way of coverage in the last 24 to 48 hours."

French police said that the pair were found in the street in the centre of Bordeaux, but Sussex police refused to confirm where they were found. Read More

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 22.1 km (13.7 miles), the quake hit at 11:36:58 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 247 km (153 miles) ESE of Namie, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Johnny Lewis Dies 'After Killing Landlady'

Police are investigating the death of Sons of Anarchy actor Johnny Lewis in Los Angeles after he is thought to have killed his landlady.

The actor is believed to have plunged to his death from his Hollywood home after murdering the 81-year-old woman.

Lewis, 28, was found in the property's driveway after falling or jumping to his death, it is suspected.

The body of Catherine Davis was found inside the house after neighbours reported hearing a woman's screams coming from inside.

There were also further reports of a man jumping a fence, assaulting a painter and a homeowner next door.

Police Commander Andrew Smith revealed Lewis had rented a room from Ms Davis "for a short period of time" and "although there were no witnesses, he was suspected of killing her".

The actor's behaviour had become increasingly erratic and records show he was released from the Los Angeles County jail just a week ago.

Earlier this year, Lewis had enrolled in a drug and alcohol psychiatric treatment programme, after a spate of run-ins with the law. Read More

Missing Megan 'Found In France'

Missing schoolgirl Megan Stammers has been located in France, police are quoted as telling AFP.

More follows...

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake SALTA, ARGENTINA - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck SALTA, ARGENTINA at a depth of 184.1 km (114.4 miles), the quake hit at 10:18:35 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 49 km (30 miles) West of San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Emerging extremists inside Libya ....

Bombs, gunfire in deadly prison outbreak in Iraq

Baghdad (CNN) -- Armed men detonated two car bombs Thursday at the gates of a jail in Tikrit, Iraq, triggering clashes with security forces that left at least 14 dead and led to the escape of dozens of prisoners, an Interior Ministry official and state news said.

Attackers took over the Tasfirat prison after setting off the car bombs and clashing with authorities, an Interior Ministry official said.

Some inmates attacked guards and held the head of the prison hostage, while others escaped, reported the state-run National Iraqi News Agency.

The Interior Ministry official said at least two policemen and an Iraqi Army soldier were dead. State news, meanwhile, reported at least 26 security officers were killed or injured, though it wasn't clear how many of those were dead. Eleven of the armed men were killed, the same report said.

The attackers wore police uniforms and used cars similar to those driven by police, a police source told the National Iraqi News Agency.

Afterward, security forces surrounded the jail and engaged in a battle to regain control from the armed men inside, the Interior Ministry official said. Read More

Big Brother still watching: Internet censorship on the up, report says

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Draconian laws, brutal attacks against bloggers and politically motivated surveillance are among the biggest threats to Internet freedom emerging in the last two years, according to a new report from free speech advocates, Freedom House.

"Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media," looked at barriers to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights in 47 countries across the globe.

Estonia was rated as having the greatest degree of Internet freedom, while Iran, Cuba and China were viewed as the most restrictive.

While social media was key in the uprising in Egypt, censorship there continues apace, says Freedom House, a U.S.-based independent watchdog organization.

Although online activism is increasing, the report said authoritarian regimes were employing a wider and increasingly sophisticated arsenal of countermeasures. Read More

Spain braces for More protests as budget cuts are unveiled

Madrid (CNN) -- Spain will create a new fiscal authority to oversee the new spending cuts, tax increases and structural adjustments included in a new budget presented Thursday.

The country is in an economic crisis with an unemployment rate near 25%, and protests have grown against austerity measures, such as the ones included in the new budget.

Despite the budget crunch, Vice President Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said there will be increases in pensions, scholarships and interest on debt.

But the budget also includes large reductions in spending in an effort to reduce deficits.
The budgets of all ministries will be reduced by an average of 12%, Saenz said. Read More

Google obeys Brazilian court order, blocks YouTube political video

(Reuters) - The Brazilian unit of Google, the world's No. 1 Internet search engine, said on Thursday it had obeyed a court order to remove a video attacking a candidate in Brazilian municipal elections from its YouTube service after legal appeals were exhausted.

"We are profoundly disappointed to not have the opportunity of openly debating our arguments in the electoral justice system that the videos were legitimate manifestations of the freedom of expression and should continue (to be) available in Brazil," said Fabio Coelho, director-general of Google in Brazil in an e-mailed statement.

The legal challenges underscore broader questions about Google's responsibility for content uploaded by third parties to its websites, including an anti-Islam video that sparked a wave of protests and violence in the Muslim world.

An arrest warrant was issued for Coelho earlier this week by a court in Brazil's Mato Grosso do Sul state after Google failed to obey an order demanding removal of the video attacking a mayoral candidate.

Judges in Brazil have held executives responsible for resisting the removal of online videos in violation of a stringent 1965 Electoral Code. The law bans campaign ads that "offend the dignity or decorum" of a candidate.

Google, which says it complies with local law but fights "diligently" to protect free speech, complied with the judge's order after it ran out of appeal chances, Coelho said. Read More

Italian unions strike against PM Monti's spending cuts

(Reuters) - Two of Italy's biggest unions marched through Rome on Friday to protest against Prime Minister Mario Monti's cuts in public spending as opposition grows to austerity policies aimed at steering the country out of its economic crisis.

The strike followed clashes between anti-austerity protesters and police in Madrid and Athens this week and coincided with labor unrest at the ILVA steel plant in southern Italy.

"We are here to protest against Monti's politics, because up until now he has just made the weakest pay," said Pio Zappaterreno as he rallied with fellow members of CGIL, Italy's largest union, in the city center.

Monti's coalition passed spending cuts in August that included a modest downsizing of the public sector, where wages have already been frozen for more than two years, and cuts to state healthcare funding.

University professors, public administration employees and health workers in the CGIL and UIL unions were to stop work in support of the march to the Colosseum. Garbage collectors were also joining the work stoppage.

"At the moment I just can't see a future that gives us any hope, particularly for the youth," former soldier Emilio Amiraglia said at the march. Read More

Mars rover finds first evidence of water

Sept. 27 - NASA scientists announce the Mars rover has found evidence that a stream once flowed near its landing site on the Red Planet.

Militant group claim Damascus bombing

Sept. 28 - In an online statement, an Islamist militant group claim responsibility for an attack on the Syrian army headquarters in Damascus. Sarah Charlton reports

Nepal plane crash: Video

Sept. 28 - A plane crashes shortly after takeoff from the Nepali capital Kathmandu killing 19 people, including British and Chinese passengers. Sarah Charlton reports

U.S. call for China-Japan calm goes unheeded

(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China and Japan on Thursday to let "cool heads" prevail in a festering dispute over a cluster of East China Sea islands, but hours later Chinese and Japanese diplomats traded barbs at the United Nations.

Clinton met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of this week's U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York and said it was important to ratchet down the quarrel over the islands that has soured ties between Asia's two largest economies, a senior State Department official said.

The uninhabited islets, whose nearby waters are thought to hold potentially rich natural gas reserves, are known as the Diaoyu islands in China and the Senkaku islands in Japan. They have been under Japan's control since 1895.

"The secretary ... again urged that cooler heads prevail, that Japan and China engage in dialogue to calm the waters," the official told reporters.

"We believe that Japan and China have the resources, have the restraint, have the ability to work on this directly and take tensions down, and that is our message to both sides," the official said. Read More

UK seeks to mend "broken" Libor, not scrap it

(Reuters) - Britain's top financial watchdog delivered a 10-point plan to fix Libor but stopped short of scrapping the benchmark interest rate in a much-awaited reform of a system plagued by scandal.

"The system is broken and needs a complete overhaul," said Martin Wheatley, head of the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Wheatley acknowledged problems with London interbank offered rates, but said Libor is so deeply entrenched in the financial system that it cannot be easily replaced.

There are no better alternatives now and any transition to a new benchmark would be difficult, he said on Friday.

Longer term, it makes sense for market participants to examine whether there are other possible benchmark rates, Wheatley said.

The plan, which includes oversight by a new panel, marks regulators' first effort to fix the tarnished benchmark, but rulemakers have to thread the needle carefully.

On the one hand, they must restore confidence in the financial system; on the other, they cannot take steps that are too radical without creating big trouble with existing transactions that use the benchmark.

More than $300 trillion of contracts and loans — from U.S. mortgages to Japanese interest-rate swaps - refer to Libor. Read More

Minneapolis gunman kills four, shoots himself

(Reuters) - A gunman opened fire inside a Minneapolis sign company on Thursday, killing five people including himself and wounding four others, police said.

Minneapolis Police spokesman Steve McCarty said five people were dead at Accent Signage Systems, including the gunman. Three others were in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and a forth had non-life threatening injuries, he said.

He declined to identify those killed or wounded, and said he did not know what connection the shooter may have had with the business, if any.

A representative from Accent Signage Systems could not be reached for comment. A July article in a local business publication said the company had 28 employees.

Police cordoned off the area around the company and held residents back.

RESIDENTIAL STREET

The company is located on a tree-lined residential street. "It's the only industrial business right in the middle of a residential neighborhood," Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "In a great neighborhood and a great business, we have a horrible tragedy."

Rybak said he could not remember anything similar ever happening in Minneapolis. Read More

Hollande stakes credibility on tax-hiking budget

(Reuters) - President Francois Hollande's Socialist government unveiled sharp tax hikes on business and the rich on Friday in a 2013 budget aimed at showing France has the fiscal rigor to remain at the core of the euro zone.

The package will recoup 30 billion euros ($39 billion) for the public purse with a goal of narrowing the deficit to 3.0 percent of national output next year from 4.5 percent this year - France's toughest single belt-tightening in 30 years.

But with record unemployment and a barrage of data pointing to economic stagnation, there are fears the deficit target will slip as France falls short of the modest 0.8 percent economic growth rate on which it is banking for next year.

The budget will also disappoint pro-reform lobbyists by merely freezing France's high public spending rather than daring to attack ministerial budgets as Spain did this week in a bid to avoid the conditions of an international bailout.

"This is a fighting budget to get the country back on the rails," Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, adding that the 0.8 percent growth target was "realistic and ambitious".

"It is a budget which aims to bring back confidence and to break this spiral of debt that gets bigger and bigger." Read More

Bo Xilai Expelled From Communist Party

China says disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai has been expelled from the Communist Party and will face criminal charges.

State media said on Friday that Mr Bo, who had been a candidate for top office until he was caught up in a scandal involving the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, will face charges of corruption, abuse of power, bribe taking and improper relations with a number of women.

The ruling Communist Party also said it would hold a congress to select new leaders on November 8.

Dates for the congress, held once every five years, were overdue and highly anticipated because of the high-level scandal.

It will see Hu Jintao step down after 10 years as party and China's ultimate leader, to be replaced by Xi Jinping. Read More

SEIU Paid Protesters at Romney Cleveland Ohio Rally

Where do “Obama phones” come from?.......$1.6 Billion cost to the Tax Payer just for 2011 to provide FREE Phones.....Disgusting!!!

This video of an Obama supporter bragging about having an “Obama phone” has gone viral on the web, but where do these “free cell phones” come from?

The program is called Lifeline, established in 1984 was originally created to subsidize landline phone service for low income Americans, funded by government-collected telecommunication fees, paid by consumers.

In 2008, the program was expanded to support cell phones which quickly escalated the cost of the program. In 2008 the program cost $772 million, but by 2011 it cost $1.6 billion.

A 2011 audit found that 269,000 wireless Lifeline subscribers were receiving free phones and monthly service from two or more carriers. Several websites have been created to promote “free” government cell phones, including the”The Obama Cell Phone” website at Obamaphone.net. Read More

Teens Laugh While Recording Violent Beating Of Woman In Chester

CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — A group of teens violently attacked a mentally challenged woman at random in Chester and recorded the entire incident on tape.

During the vicious attack, which was later posted on Facebook, the teens could be heard screaming obscenities and even laughing.

Police say on Thursday morning, an anonymous Chester resident alerted police of the taped incident that was apparently posted on Facebook.

The video starts as the group of teen girls are walking down Morton Avenue. Several seconds into the video, one of the girls casually walks up to the 48-year-old victim, who was sitting on her front step, and began to punch and beat the victim.

The attack then leads inside the woman’s home, at which point several other teens join in on the attack. Read More

Americans’ Incomes Have Fallen $3,040 During the Obama ‘Recovery’

Americans must be wondering how much more of this “recovery” they can afford. New figures from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, compiled by Sentier Research, show that the typical American household’s real (inflation-adjusted) income has actually dropped 5.7 percent during the Obama “recovery.” Using constant 2012 dollars (to adjust for inflation), the median annual income of American households was $53,718 as of June 2009, the last month of the recession. Now, after 38 months of this “recovery,” it has fallen to $50,678 — a drop of $3,040 per household.

Yet it gets worse. Amazingly, incomes have dropped even more during the “recovery” than they did during the recession. In fact, they’ve dropped more than twice as much as they did during the recession. From the start to the end of the recession, the real median income of American households fell $1,413, or 2.6 percent. From the end of the recession to the present day, it has dropped $3,040, or 5.7 percent. This begs the question: What kind of “recovery” compares unfavorably with the recession from which it’s ostensibly recovering. Source

IRAN RESPONDS TO NETANYAHU: SHOW YOUR NUKES FIRST

UNITED NATIONS – The Iranian government, reacting to a blistering speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations today, demanded that Jerusalem open its own nuclear installations to inspection before telling Tehran do so.

Using the U.N.’s “right of reply,” Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Eshagh al Habib, told the General Assembly the Israeli prime minister “has admitted to the possession of nuclear weapons which has been repeatedly stated by the 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement ‘poses a serious and continuing threat to the security of states in the region.’”

“Instead of making baseless allegations,” he said, “this regime has ignored repeated calls by the international community to accede promptly and without any conditions to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons party and place all its nuclear-related facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency verification system. … The international community should continue to exert the utmost pressure on this regime.”

The Iranians have long claimed to be sponsoring a movement to free the Middle East of any atomic weapons.

Israel, its conventional forces vastly outnumbered by neighboring Arabs, has long seen its nuclear stockpile as an equalizer should a new war erupt in the region. Read More

Mars rover finds evidence of 'vigorous' stream

WASHINGTON (AFP) - NASA's Curiosity rover, on Mars since August 6, has discovered gravel once carried by the waters of an ancient stream that "ran vigorously" through the area, the US space agency said.

Scientists had previously found other evidence of the one-time presence of water on the Red Planet, but this is the first time stream bed gravels have been discovered.

The rocky outcrop, called "Hottah," looks "like someone jack-hammered up a slab of city sidewalk, but it's really a tilted block of an ancient stream bed," project scientist John Grotzinger said in a statement.

Curiosity also investigated a second outcrop, called "Link."

The pictures transmitted by Curiosity show the pebbles have been cemented into layers of conglomerate rock at a site between the north rim of the Gale Crater and the base of Mount Sharp, where Curiosity is heading.

The sizes and the shapes of the rocks give an idea of the speed and the depth of the stream, NASA said.

"The shapes tell you they were transported, and the sizes tell you they couldn't be transported by wind. They were transported by water flow," said Curiosity science co-investigator Rebecca Williams.

The scientists estimate the water was moving at a brisk three feet a second and ran somewhere between ankle and hip deep.

Some of the rocks are rounded, indicating they traveled a long distance from above the rim, fed from a channel named "Peace Vallis," NASA said. Read More

Sumatran earthquakes in April were part of tectonic plate breakup

September 27, 2012 – INDONESIA – Planet Earth may be 4.5 billion years old, but that doesn’t mean it can’t serve up a shattering surprise now and again. Such was the case on April 11 when two massive earthquakes erupted beneath the Indian Ocean off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, far from the usual danger zones.

Now scientists say the seafloor ruptures are part of a long suspected, yet never before observed, event: the slow-motion splitting of a vast tectonic plate.

The first of the quakes, a magnitude 8.7, was 20 times more powerful than California’s long anticipated “big one” and tore a complex network of faults deep in the ocean floor. The violence also triggered unusually large aftershocks thousands of miles away, including four off North America’s western coast. “It was jaw-dropping,” said Thorne Lay, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz. “It was like nothing we’d ever seen.” At first, Lay wondered whether the computer code he used to analyze earthquakes was wrong.

Eventually, he and other scientists realized that they had documented the breakup of the Indo-Australian plate into two pieces, an epic process that began roughly 50 million years ago and will continue for tens of millions more. Lay and other scientists reported their findings online Wednesday in the journal Nature. Most great earthquakes occur along plate borders, where one plate dives beneath the adjoining plate and sinks deep into Earth’s mantle, a process called subduction. The April 11 quakes, however, occurred in the middle of the plate and involved a number of strike-slip faults, meaning the ground on one side of the fault moves horizontally past ground on the other side. Scientists say the 8.7 main shock broke four faults.

The quake lasted 2 minutes and 40 seconds — most last just seconds — and was followed by a second main shock, of magnitude 8.2, two hours later. Unlike the magnitude 9.1 temblor that struck in the same region on Dec. 26, 2004, and created a deadly tsunami, the April 11 quakes did not cause similar destruction. That’s because horizontally moving strike-slip faults do not induce the massive, vertical displacement of water that thrust faults do on the borders of plates. Read More

China scientist doubts evidence in Heywood murder

BEIJING — A Chinese forensic expert said Friday she doubts the official version of what caused the death of a British businessman whose murder touched off the nation's biggest political scandal in decades.

Wang Xuemei, a forensics official with China's national prosecutor's office, told AFP a court's conclusion that the wife of one of China's top politicians poisoned businessman Neil Heywood with cyanide was flawed.
"That our court went so far as to believe the conclusion that cyanide was the cause of death is very distressing, unsettling and scary," Wang said.

Wang noted that she had no direct involvement in the case and did not examine evidence first-hand, but her doubts echo those of many Chinese that the case was being manipulated to minimise embarrassment to the ruling Communist Party.

Gu Kailai, the wife of rising political star Bo Xilai -- former top Communist official in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing -- was sentenced in August to a suspended death sentence that will likely be commuted to life in prison.

The emergence of the case earlier this year triggered the political downfall of her husband, who was seen as a potential candidate for elevation to the top echelons of party power at a Communist Party meeting expected to be held within weeks.

No legal action has yet been taken against Bo.

Wang, who also is deputy director of the Chinese Forensic Medicine Association, said court documents and testimony describing the sequence of events in Heywood's death do not fit with what happens in a cyanide poisoning. Read More

Helmet Kohl makes rare appearance to urge Europe to solve crisis and avert war

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who reunified the country and pushed it into the euro, urged Europe to press ahead with closer integration despite a crisis of the single currency, saying the continent must never again descend into conflict.

In a rare public appearance to mark 30 years since he became chancellor, Mr Kohl was celebrated by party allies, an array of former presidents and prime ministers, as well as Angela Merkel, a former protege with whom he has had a frosty relationship since she turned on him more than a decade ago.

Frail since a fall in 2008 put him in the hospital for months, the 82-year-old Mr Kohl has remained largely silent through three years of euro turmoil, but on the occasions he has spoken out, he has voiced doubts about Ms Merkel's handling of the crisis, Reuters reported.

"Europe can never sink into war again," he told an audience at the German Historical Museum in Berlin. "We need to press ahead with the unification of Europe. Let's make good use of the time we have."

Before Mr Kohl spoke, Ms Merkel addressed the crowd, praising her former mentor's record but also defending her own approach to the crisis. Read More

Putin speaks out against unilateral intervention

* Putin says peace efforts should focus on United Nations

* Says violence creates violence, leads to "dead end"


(Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that any attempt to unilaterally use force or interfere with events in the Middle East or North Africa would be counter-productive, rebutting growing calls to intervene in Syria's civil war.

Russia and China have strongly opposed the idea of foreign intervention in Syria, vetoing three United Nations Security Council resolutions backed by Western and Arab states that would have increased pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to stop the bloodshed.

Both countries have also voiced opposition to new sanctions on Iran and to any moves to attack it.

"Attempts to replace the universal principles of the U.N. Charter by unilateral actions or partisan deals, moreover to use force bypassing the U.N. do not do any good, as is well known," Putin told foreign ambassadors in the Kremlin, where he was receiving their new credentials.

Putin said his warning concerned civil unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, adding that the U.N. Charter was meant to be used to solve problems "through negotiations, without external interference". Read More

Jill Meagher killing: Adrian Ernest Bayley in Court, charged with her Murder

A man charged with the rape and murder of Irishwoman Jill Meagher has appeared in court in Melbourne.

Adrian Ernest Bayley (41) from Coburg was charged after Ms Meagher's body was found in a shallow grave in Melbourne yesterday afternoon Irish time.

Mr Bayley appeared in court at Melbourne Magistrates Court early this morning and was remanded to face a committal hearing on January 18th.

Ms Meagher's husband, Tom, and brother Michael attended the hearing. ABC reported Tom Meagher spoke outside the court, thanking the public for its support.

"Despite the fact that this is the worst thing that we will ever go through in our lives, I've been really humbled by the support of the Australian public, the tireless efforts of the police and all the friends and families who've put their lives on hold to help us out," he said. Read More

Japan and China trade barbs over islands at UN

A war of words over islands claimed by both Japan and China continued at the United Nations, as the US called for cooler heads to prevail.

In a speech, China's foreign minister accused Japan of stealing the islands, which lie in the East China Sea.

In reply Japan's deputy ambassador said the islands were Japanese territory and China's claim a recent development.

The US secretary of state had earlier urged both to "engage in dialogue to calm the waters", a diplomat said.

The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are also claimed by Taiwan. South of Okinawa and north of Taiwan, they are controlled by Japan. Read More

Netanyahu's cartoon bomb at UN sparks media frenzy

Benjamin Netanyahu has proved in his UN speeches time and again there are three things he likes best: history, lecturing and props. And when it comes to leaving a lasting impression, his props must be his favorite.

Pundits and the blogosphere instantly went crazy with memes of the Israeli prime minister's diagram depicting the cartoonish bomb on which he literally drew the famous "red line" for Iran. There was "Bibi Dylan" with the crudely Photoshoped singer holding Netanyahu's bomb diagram. There was Netanyahu, holding a picture of Daffy Duck's head exploding. The Atlantic magazine correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg defined Netanyahu's cartoonish bomb as the Israeli leader's "Clint Eastwood chair," referring to the film star's awkward impromptu speech at the Republican National Convention in August, in which he addressed the empty chair symbolizing U.S. President Barack Obama. Other "Twitterati" wondered where the bomb was taken from - Super Mario? Daffy Duck? Spy vs Spy?


The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Alexandra Petri, who admitted she is a fan of "lateralization-of-concept jokes," but wondered what Netanyahu's motivation was. "Was this a poor choice of a ridiculous-looking, over-simplified bomb cartoon... Or was it a calculated choice… in order to create the one indelible image of the afternoon that everyone would be talking about?" Read More

Whale beached on Northumberland coast was endangered species

A whale which beached on the Northumberland coast this week was a rare species and not a minke, experts have confirmed.

The 8.6-metre creature was a juvenile sei whale which had likely become separated from its mother, said Richard Ilderton of British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

It was discovered on sands just north of Druridge Bay yesterday morning, sparking a major operation to save its life.

However, experts who attended the scene found that it was suffering from severe malnutrition and were forced to take the decision to put it to sleep.

A pathology team from the Natural History Museum’s Cetacean Stranding Investigation Project travelled to the scene to conduct a post-mortem, which determined that the whale was starving to death.

Mr Ilderton said: “It was in a very poor condition, with thin blubber and poor muscle tone, suggesting it hadn’t eaten for quite some time. It is possible that it was still maternally-dependant, but had become separated from its mother.

“The preliminary results from the post-mortem confirmed this, and it also had plastic in its stomach.” Read More

Police launched investigation into the 'suspicious' moon

A police constable has risked embarrassment after launching an investigation into a "suspicious light source" which was later found to be the moon.

The constable was on duty late one evening last month when he spotted a "shining light" glowing over Clent Hills, a range of scenic peaks which rise up more than 1,000ft in Worcestershire.

He radioed his sergeant, telling him he was "off up the hills" to investigate the "suspicious bright light" from 'over the other side of the hills'.

He warned that as he was "single-crewed" he might require back-up if he found a crime in progress. Read More

David Cameron's brilliance in knowing nothing about British history

First of all, which bright adviser was it who came up with the fantastic idea to put David Cameron on the Late Show with David Letterman, an arena in which he would obviously thrive?

In a world that was the right way up they would be knighted. However, judging by the reaction to his fumbling of questions about the Magna Carta and Rule, Britannia! I have the horrible feeling that the knives are more likely out for them, rather than any ceremonial sword.

Some might claim that Cameron is embarrassing enough within our own borders, and the last thing we need is him going abroad with any clumsy attempts to seem cool in a country with someone as smooth as Obama as their leader.

They might claim that the PM is hilariously bad at pretending he’s anything other than a preening, pompous politician pretty much bred to be placed in a position of power over us plebs – and that rather than being a face fit to represent modern Britain, he’s just a complete wazzock. Read More

Syrian Rebels Announce Big Offensive in Aleppo

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Rebel fighters in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo said Thursday that they had launched a major offensive against government troops in the city, just as the United Nations and humanitarian agencies warned that the number of Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries could surge past 700,000, far exceeding earlier estimates.

Activists in Aleppo, a city ravaged by months of a brutal but inconclusive battle between insurgents and the military, said the offensive was announced around 4 p.m., with calls from the city’s mosques. Members of the rebel Tawhid Brigade declared the start of a “decisive” battle in Internet videos, including one that showed fighters from the unit wearing matching white headbands, walking with weapons down a deserted street.

The offensive involved hundreds of rebel fighters attacking government positions on several fronts, members of the brigade said.

Their claims could not be immediately verified, but late Thursday night, activists in the city reported heavy clashes and shelling in several neighborhoods.

The reported offensive in Aleppo followed days of brazen rebel attacks on Syrian military positions. Read More

Netanyahu meets US officials after UN speech

Prime minister meets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New York mayor after General Assembly speech. Michael Bloomberg says Netanyahu made compelling argument

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with senior US officials on Thursday after his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he stressed the need to draw a red line for Iran's nuclear program.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Netanyahu that the citizens of Israel stood by New Yorkers after the September 11 attacks and stated that terrorists will never succeed in causing the people of Israel and the US to renounce their beliefs, values and way of life.

“I thought President Obama gave an excellent speech in the UN, and he was absolutely right to say that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons,” Bloomberg said before meeting with Netanyahu. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL PERU - 28th September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck CENTRAL PERU at a depth of 103 km (64 miles), the quake hit at 04:39:01 UTC Friday 28th September 2012
The epicenter was 8 km (4 miles) East of Matucana, Peru
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time