Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The mysterious detention center that houses Bo Xilai revealed



Before being expelled from the Party and
his administrative post,
former CCP Secretary of Chongqing Bo Xilai was said to be
housed in a secret place near the Miyun Reservoir of Beijing.
Recently, overseas media reported that Bo Xilai is now
at the Kuangou Guest House of Huairou district, 50 km northeast of Beijing.
The Kuangou detention center is a secluded courtyard.

During the judicial processing, Bo is likely to be transferred
to Qincheng Prison, which is known to host the imprisoned rich and powerful.
The following is our report.

Since being taken away from his home in Beijing by the CCDI
(Central Commission for Discipline Inspection) in March,
Bo Xilai's whereabouts has been kept secret.

Sources said Bo Xilai was placed under house arrest
in Huairou before he was expelled from the party rank and public service on September 28.
He had the freedom to walk around his residential area
and visitation rights from relatives with certain restrictions.
After September 28, he lost the freedom to walk around.

A few days ago, Bo Xilai's holding place was revealed online. Read More

Syria car bombings kill more than two dozen in Aleppo

BEIRUT — A series of car bombs exploded in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo early Wednesday, killing more than two dozen people, injuring many more and causing massive damage.

Suicide car bombers struck Saadallah al Jabri Square, the city's largest plaza and once the site of huge pro-government rallies, the official Syrian Arab News Agency said. The agency put the death toll at 34, though other reports indicated that 40 or more had been killed, and said 122 were injured.

Later, Turkey said it responded with artillery fire into Syria after the Turkish border town of Akcakale was shelled, killing five people. A statement from the office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said the Turkish artillery had fired "on points in Syria that were detected with radar, in line with the rules of engagement."

There was no immediate response from Syria. Read More

Government scraps flawed rail deal in embarrassing U-turn

(Reuters) - The government has torn up a deal awarding one of its biggest rail franchises to a private operator, in a humiliating U-turn that raises doubts about the government's handling of the privatised railways.


Ministers froze three more rail franchise competitions on Wednesday after the Department for Transport (DfT) said that "completely unacceptable" flaws had been uncovered in its handling of bids to run the West Coast Main Line, a jewel in the crown of the rail network linking London and Scotland.

The debacle is damaging for the ruling Conservative Party, which began its programme of rail privatisations in the 1990s. The project has been dogged by fatal accidents, financial crises and political infighting. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake MINDORO, PHILIPPINES - 4th October 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck MINDORO, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 58.5 km (36.4 miles), the quake hit at 01:55:20 UTC Thursday 4th October 2012
The epicenter was 16 km (9.9 miles) Southwest of Tayaman, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL PERU - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL PERU at a depth of 32 km (19.9 miles), the quake hit at 22:48:57 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 51 km (31.6 miles) South of Paracas, Peru
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN MONGOLIA - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck WESTERN MONGOLIA at a depth of 12.6 km (7.8 miles), the quake hit at 22:23:22 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 14 km (8 miles) WSW of Bayanbulag, Mongolia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA at a depth of 56.9 km (35.4 miles), the quake hit at 21:02:38 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 112 km (69 miles) ESE of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

October Surprise: Is Obama Planning Major Airstrike on Libyan Targets?

Today, a Defense Department official confirmed to Breitbart News that there is advance planning for a “substantial air package” against targets in Libya. Military sources suggest that this means that flight missions against Libyan targets will include manned flights, not merely drones.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Obama administration is preparing an operation to “kill or capture militants” involved in the Benghazi attack resulting in the murder of our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. According to the Times, the Joint Special Operations Command is putting together “so-called target packages of detailed information about the suspects.” These files are a coordinated project with the CIA and the Pentagon.

The Obama administration is under heavy scrutiny for its failure to protect the US consulate in Benghazi, and for its lack of security around the ambassador. Furthermore, the Obama administration is increasingly perceived as weak on terror, particularly in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, which has largely been hijacked by the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to testify next Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee on the lack of security for the ambassador. source


Another domino falls as Hollande pushes France into depression

If French President François Hollande thinks he can assuage the bond markets by dishing out tax-heavy austerity instead of genuine reform, he has been given very bad advice.

His tragically-misguided budget offers no strategic plan to reverse -- or even to stop -- thirty years of slow national decline. He offers no worthwhile measures to slim the Leviathan state, now a Nordic-sized 55pc of GDP, without Nordic labour flexibility or Nordic free markets.

He does not tell us how he will stem the slide in France’s share of eurozone exports over the last decade, down from 17pc to 13pc, or what he will do about the disastrous swing in France’s trade balance from a surplus of 2.5pc of GDP to a deficit of 2.4pc since 1999.

He proposes nothing credible to restore France’s viability within EMU, or to stop public debt spiralling beyond 90pc of GDP. Instead he has served up the most drastic retrenchment in forty years, at the worst possible time, and in the worst possible way. And markets are supposed to applaud?

The budget will tighten discretionary fiscal policy by 2pc of GDP next year into the teeth of deepening depression, without offsetting monetary stimulus or exchange rate relief.

Mr Hollande likes to quote Leon Blum, the Popular Front leader of the interwar years. The reality could hardly be more cruel. He is replicating the disastrous deflation policies of Labour Chancellor Philip Snowden in 1931, before the Labour Party woke up to the delicious possibility that you could lift two fingers to the forces of reaction and leave the Gold Standard. more

Protests rock Tehran as militia attempts to prevent riots from spreading throughout Iran

The Iranian government Wednesday, Oct. 3, invoked the emergency measures drawn up for the 2009 protests to deploy large-scale Bassij militia forces in the capital and put down the first angry protests against mounting economic hardship and the plummeting rial.

Debkafile’s Iranian sources report two waves of riots swept through Tehran’s trading centers Wednesday:

the stores trading gold coins and foreign currency on Fereowsi, Estanbol and Manoucheri Streets, and the celebrated gold jewelry market in the Tehran Bazaar.

Money changers and gold traders attacked police forces and torched their vehicles, playing cat and mouse with the officers after they arrested some of the money changers and accused them of black market dealings.

This was part of the regime’s effort to curtail the steep plunge of the Iranian currency against the dollar. Wednesday, a dollar went for 40,000 rials compared with 37,500 rials Tuesday and 24,000 only a week ago.

Fearing that the troubles Wednesday presaged a general strike shutting down the bazaar for an indefinite period, the authorities decided to draw the line before the unrest spread to the rest of the capital and other cities. more

Al-Qaeda blamed for Europe-wide forest fires

Al-Qaeda has been blamed for a recent series of forest fires across Europe, as the head of Russia's Federal Security Service claimed they were set by arsonists as part of the group's low-cost attack strategy.

"One should note that setting fires to forests in the countries of the European Union is a new tendency in al-Qaeda's strategy of a 'thousand cuts'," Alexander Bortnikov said, according to state news agency RIA Novosti, at a meeting of heads of security agencies.

"This method allows (al-Qaeda) to inflict significant economic and moral damage without serious preliminary preparations, technical equipment or significant expenses."

In linking al-Qaeda to the deadly wildfires, Mr Bortnikov pointed to calls to launch a "forest jihad" by various extremist websites which he said also publish detailed instructions about how and where to best carry out arson.

He said it was very difficult for special services to find and prosecute such arsonists.

Deadly fires have swept through forest land in EU countries such as Portugal and Spain over the past few months, killing scores of people and forcing thousands to evacuate. more

Thoughts: Lynsey and I have been highly suspicious of the multitude of forest fires throughout North America this year, and surmised that what Russia suspects is happening in Europe is possibly also happening here. We will continue exploring the situation to see if there is any truth to it.

Keystone XL Pipeline: Pending disaster like the Enbridge Michigan oil spill?



Thoughts: Anyone with a brain will realize that pursuing fuels that are highly toxic and dangerous to procure is not a recipe for success, but disaster. John's efforts are highly commendable because he's among the very few who care. I'm glad people like him exist, because if they didn't, the world would be even more nightmarish than it currently is, and that's saying something.

That said, there are important questions that he and anti-oil protestors are not asking themselves, probably because they're hard questions:

1. There is absolutely no way that biofuels + renewable energy could meet even a fraction of America's energy needs, let alone the world's. Biofuel crops pollute a great deal in themselves and only take away reasonably priced food from the world's poor majority.

2. For the people who clamour about going green: Are you willing to accept food prices 10-20x (minimum) higher than they currently are? Even if everyone had their own garden, they would still not be able to provide all the food that industrialized agriculture using petroleum-based fertilizers now does.

3. For the people who clamour about going green: Are you willing to no longer have affordable (or available at all) cheap medicines, computers, designer clothing, travel, and essentially 99% of everything else you enjoy on a daily basis? The biggest folly is to think that oil provides only raw energy, since it also provides essential chemicals and mechanisms of logistics. When oil goes, so does everything you consider "civilization".

4. This video highlights some really important issues. It also highlights the cobwebs in people's heads when it comes to rationalizing these issues. John celebrated the anniversary of the oil spill with a day of festivities. Fair enough. Those festivities involved: $5000 worth of free shirts that people will throw in the garbage the next day due to their being free and made in about 5 minutes on a computer; hotdogs made out of petroleum-subsidized wheat and energy-intensive mystery meat; and what amazed me the most, an entire day of go-kart racing using highly inefficient and polluting machines that... guzzle gas. What? It's this kind of distorted logic, and not a reliance on oil, that keeps most issues festering.

5. Let's go solar! Wait, we can't, because the majority of solar paneling come from China. It takes fuel to get those panels here. Even if we made them here, it would take fuel to move them around, and even to make them. "Green energy" is also mind-boggling expensive, not cheap like it's made out to be, and provides only a fraction of the energy oil currently does. Does this mean I'm pro-oil? Of course not, but it does mean we have to be realistic about the situation.

6. The only way to solve the oil problem is to a) end consumerism almost overnight, since even a vestige of consumerism will beget more, and b) reduce the human population to about 20% of what it currently is, since only pesticide-fueled agriculture allows humans to exist in such numbers. Are the greens ready to do this? Is anyone? If all those who protest oil cling to their love of the oil-fueled life, why protest?

I imagine, however, that once the XL does burst and poison that giant aquifer, taking out 30% of America's agricultural production, some of the must-do's of point 6 will be forced upon us whether we like it or not. 

'Get out of decaying France while you can', campaign warns

France's youth should leave a "decaying and ultra-centralised country run by old men", according to a new campaign that has sparked debate on how the country treats its younger generation.

Young French people should seek work and hope for the future abroad, according to an unlikely trio of influential men in their 30s – entrepreneur Félix Marquardt, rapper Mokless and TV journalist Mouloud Achour, who have launched a campaign dubbed "Barrez-Vous"("Beat It").

In a tribune in Libération newspaper earlier this month, they said French young people must face the "embarrassing truth" that they lived in a "sclerotic gerontocracy that is collapsing a little more every day".

Mr Marquardt, who has US nationality, said France's failure to teach English better in schools and its obsession with protecting its language was a major obstacle to mobility.

The country's economic policies have put youth so low on their priorities that one in four people under 25 is out of work, they argue. Meanwhile, France's ageing political class refuses to let the younger generation in.

Their call followed numerous reports about a rising tide of wealthy and successful French who are leaving the country to avoid the new Socialist government's plan to tax the country's highest earners at 75 per cent. David Cameron provocatively offered them the "red carpet" should they choose Britain as their new tax home. more

Turkey hits targets inside Syria after border deaths

Turkish artillery has fired on positions inside Syria after shells from Syria killed five people in a southern Turkish border town.

A woman and her three children were among those killed earlier when the shells, apparently fired by Syrian government forces, hit Akcakale.

Turkey's response marks the first time it has fired into Syria during the 18-month-long uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Nato ambassadors are due to meet later.

The military alliance's ambassadors would meet under Article 4 of the Nato charter, which provides for consultations when a member state felt its territorial integrity, political independence or security was under threat, a Nato official said.

Turkey is a longstanding Nato member. Read More

Clinton "outraged" by Syria mortar strike in Turkey

(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed outrage on Wednesday after a mortar bomb fired from Syria killed five people in southeastern Turkey and said Washington would discuss with Ankara on what the next steps should be.

"We are outraged that the Syrians have been shooting across the border. We are very regretful about the loss of life that has occurred on the Turkish side," Clinton said in remarks during an appearance with Kazakhstan's visiting foreign minister.

"We are working with our Turkish friends. I will be speaking with the (Turkish) foreign minister later to discuss what the best way forward would be," Clinton said, calling the spread of violence beyond Syria's borders "a very, very dangerous situation." Source

3.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEVADA - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 3.8 earthquake has struck NEVADA at a depth of 10.7 km (6.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:51:08 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 14 km (9 miles) SSW from Nixon, Nevada
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

TURKISH ARTILLERY FIRE RAINS DOWN ON SYRIA AFTER SYRIAN MORTARS LAND INSIDE TURKEY; NATO CONVENING FOR EMERGENCY MEETING

DETAILS FORTHCOMING.

Turkey Fires Back After Syria Shelling

Turkey says it has struck targets inside Syria with artillery fire in retaliation for a mortar strike which killed a woman and her children in a Turkish town.

A statement from the Turkish Prime Minister's office said it was in response to a "mortar strike across the border".

Nato ambassadors are to meet later tonight after Turkey protested angrily to the organisation and to the United Nations

The mortar exploded in a residential area of the border town of Akcakale. It was fired from from Tall al Abyad just across the border in Syria.

Abdulhakim Ayhan, the mayor of Akcakale, said: "Five people, including a mother and her three children, were killed. We also have nine wounded."

The US condemned the shelling. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was "outraged". Nato expressed its "strong condemnation". Read More

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 144.5 km (89.8 miles), the quake hit at 18:28:33 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 198 km (123 miles) East from General Santos, Mindanao, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN BATU, INDONESIA - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck KEPULAUAN BATU, INDONESIA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:59:17 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 188 km (116.5 miles) South of Gunung stoli, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL KAZAKHSTAN - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck CENTRAL KAZAKHSTAN at a depth of 3 km (1.8 miles), the quake hit at 15:28:08 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 28 km (17.4 miles) South of Bayzhansay, Kazakhstan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Cyber attackers disrupt Internet in Iran: official

(Reuters) - Cyber attackers have targeted Iranian infrastructure and communications companies, disrupting the Internet across the country, a state official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Iran, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, has tightened cyber security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Tehran believes was planted by arch-adversaries Israel or the United States.

"Yesterday we had a heavy attack against the country's infrastructure and communications companies which has forced us to limit the Internet," Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi, secretary of the High Council of Cyberspace, told the Iranian Labour News Agency.

"Presently we have constant cyber attacks in the country. Yesterday an attack with a traffic of several gigabytes hit the Internet infrastructure, which caused an unwanted slowness in the country's Internet," he said.

"All of these attacks have been organized. And they have in mind the country's nuclear, oil, and information networks." Read More

U.S. troops prepare to leave Germany

Oct. 3 - Some 4,000 troops of the U.S. military's 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepare to leave their home of some 60 years, in Baumholder, Germany. Deborah Lutterbeck reports

IMF has uneasy role in euro zone crisis

(Reuters) - The euro zone debt crisis is pushing the International Monetary Fund into new, and at times, uncomfortable territory. The global lender is preparing to monitor some of Europe's largest economies possibly without its biggest weapon - money.

The IMF lacks the financial heft to come to the aid of economies the size of Spain or Italy on its own, even though its monitoring and enforcement role would be in demand.

Can it impose sufficient conditions on a large European country to effect change and preserve its credibility, without any funds?

"One difficulty for the IMF is that, throughout the past two years, in order to maintain the political coalition for bailouts in Europe, they have been prepared to do things that they would never have accepted if they had vantage over it themselves," said Fredrick Erixon, director of the Brussels-based European Center for International Political Economy. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN ITALY - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck NORTHERN ITALY at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 14:41:28 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 37 km (23 miles) WNW from Parma, Italy
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN BATU, INDONESIA - 3rd October 2012

magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck KEPULAUAN BATU, INDONESIA at a depth of 9.7 km (6 miles), the quake hit at 13:32:36 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 253 km (157 miles) SSW from Sibolga, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Note: This earthquake may get upgraded soon, the majority of the stations measure this between a 6.0 - 6.8 Magnitude Eartquake

Bear Meets Nishanto, He has messed with the wrong woman

Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the death of a Hezbollah commander

BEIRUT: The Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the death of a Hezbollah commander reportedly killed in Syria in remarks published in a Saudi newspaper Wednesday.

“Members of the FSA ambushed Ali Hussein Nassif, also known as Abu Abbas, with an explosive device that killed him and two of his bodyguards in Al Qusayr area in Homs,” FSA commander Col. Riad al-Asaad told Okaz newspaper.

An AP report Tuesday quoted a Lebanese security official saying that Nassif and several Hezbollah fighters had been killed in Syria.

Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi confirmed the deaths of the Hezbollah members but said he had no further information on where or how Nassif was killed.

According to Asaad, the FSA had planned the operation for two weeks. Read More

Chinese surveillance ships patrol Diaoyu Islands waters

BEIJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Four Chinese marine surveillance ships patrolled in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday after the Japanese right-winger's intrusion, the Foreign Ministry confirmed.

China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposes the Japanese right-wingers' illegal entrance into the waters off the Diaoyu Islands and is keeping high vigilance to their intention and purpose, FM spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday at a regular press briefing.

The provocation of this kind will make the situation more complicated if not stopped, said Hong Lei.

The patrol team -- composed of Haijian 50, Haijian 15, Haijian 26 and Haijian 27 -- are carrying out normal rights-safeguarding activities around the Diaoyu Islands, according to a statement from the State Oceanic Administration. Read More

Dolphin stranded on Gyllingvase beach

A dolphin found stranded on a Cornish beach has been put down, say marine rescuers.

The Common dolphin was discovered on the high water line at Gyllingvase near Falmouth early on Wednesday.

Members of British Divers Marine Life Rescue covered the animal with wet towels and seaweed to keep it comfortable.

A vet who was called to the scene assessed that it was too sick to be returned to the sea. Source

Iran police clash with protesters over currency crisis

Riot police in Iran have clashed with protesters in the capital over sharp falls in the currency, the rial.

Tear gas was used to disperse the demonstrators, some of whom were setting fire to tyres and rubbish bins. There were many arrests, reports say.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that scores of people gathered outside the central bank, calling for the governor to stand down, chanting anti-government slogans.

The rial has plummeted to record lows against the US dollar in recent days.

Up to 100 angry traders and official money lenders gathered in front of Iran's central bank. But they were attacked by riot police and dispersed, eyewitnesses told BBC Persian. Read More

Syrian Rebels Bomb the hell out of Aleppo square killing at least 31 people

At least 31 people have been killed and dozens wounded by five bomb explosions in the centre of Syria's second city, Aleppo, officials have said.

Four of the blasts happened in the city's Saadallah al-Jabari Square, near a military officers' club and a hotel.

Pro-government al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast pictures of bodies being pulled out of buildings damaged by the blasts and a large crater in a road.

Government forces have been fighting rebels for weeks for control of Aleppo.

Rebel fighters launched a new offensive last week to try to seize more districts. Fires over the weekend gutted the historic central souk. Read More

Plane Missing In Australia Found: No Survivors

All six people on board a vintage plane have been killed after the aircraft crashed into remote countryside in the Australian state of Queensland.

Rescue teams had been searching for the aircraft after the plane's owner and pilot Des Porter, 68, made an emergency call on Monday.

In a tragic twist, Mr Porter survived a crash in the same plane when he was 11, although his father and brother did not survive.

As an adult he rebuilt the aircraft and learned to fly it himself.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman Mike Barton said the crash site was found about 2pm on Wednesday near Borumba Dam, north of Brisbane, which was a major focus point of the search.

"It was a high impact crash and there appear to be no survivors," he told reporters. Read More

Cop Punches, Beats Down Man In Wheelchair

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 3rd October 2012

magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 35.4 km (22 miles), the quake hit at 09:39:58 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 65 km (40 miles) Southeast of Ishinomaki, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN ITALY - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck NORTHERN ITALY at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 09:20:44 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 0 km (0 miles) WNW of Sanfront, Italy
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF OREGON - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck OFF THE COAST OF OREGON at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 08:16:41 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 393 km (244 miles) West of Waldport, Oregon
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake MARIANA ISLANDS REGION - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the MARIANA ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 35.1 km (21.8 miles), the quake hit at 08:02:16 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 223 km (138 miles) East of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF NICARAGUA - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck NEAR THE COAST OF NICARAGUA at a depth of 64.7 km (40.2 miles), the quake hit at 06:26:41 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 64 km (39 miles) Southwest of Jiquilillo, Nicaragua
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 3rd October 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA at a depth of 30.5 km (19 miles), the quake hit at 06:26:17 UTC Wednesday 3rd October 2012
The epicenter was 202 km (125 miles) South of Taron, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Mistakes by Government officials cost the taxpayer £40m as FirstGroup's contract to run West Coast Main Line has to be axed

The West Coast Main Line contract has been cancelled because of mistakes by Government officials in a move that will cost the taxpayer £40m.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has dramatically ripped up a deal that handed the responsibility for running one of Britain's busiest railways to FirstGroup.

In a major embarrassment for the Government, he conceded the U-turn was down to "deeply regrettable and completely unacceptable mistakes" in his own department.

Three officials from the Department for Transport (DfT) have now been suspended and two independent reviews into the competition process have been launched.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told Sky News that the development was "appalling" and a sign of more "incompetence" from the coalition, which he insisted had to "get a grip". Read More

U.S. gathers information about possible targets in Libya

U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon have begun assembling preliminary information about potential targets and militant personnel in Libya that could be struck if President Barack Obama ordered such action.

A senior U.S. official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information, confirmed details to CNN, noting the United States would likely seek cooperation from Libya before launching any military strike.

Some of the details were first reported by the New York Times.

The stepped up effort is in response to the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

U.S. intelligence has said it believes the attack was "a deliberate and organized terrorist assault carried out by extremists" affiliated or sympathetic with al Qaeda.

CNN reported previously that U.S. drones have been collecting intelligence in eastern Libya for weeks, and that American intelligence agencies are eavesdropping and intercepting suspected insurgent communications. Read More

U.S. had early indications Libya attack tied to organized militants

(Reuters) - Within hours of last month's attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama's administration received about a dozen intelligence reports suggesting militants connected to al Qaeda were involved, three government sources said.

Despite these reports, in public statements and private meetings, top U.S. officials spent nearly two weeks highlighting intelligence suggesting that the attacks were spontaneous protests against an anti-Muslim film, while playing down the involvement of organized militant groups.

It was not until last Friday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's office issued an unusual public statement, which described how the picture that intelligence agencies presented to U.S. policymakers had "evolved" into an acknowledgement that the attacks were "deliberate and organized" and "carried out by extremists." Read More

West Coast Main Line Franchise Award Axed, cites government errors

The decision to award the West Coast Main Line franchise to FirstGroup has been cancelled due to flaws in the way the process was conducted.

The decision was announced by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

It means the Department for Transport (DfT) will no longer be awarding a franchise contract to run the West Coast service when the current franchise expires in December.

FirstGroup was due to take over the running of the London to Scotland line after being awarded the contract by the DfT in August, but Virgin Rail, which currently runs the service, launched a High Court challenge against the decision.

The DfT said it would be no longer contesting the judicial review sought by Sir Richard Branson's company.

Mr McLoughlin has also ordered two independent reviews into the competition process. Read More