Thursday, October 4, 2012

California Gas Stations Shut as Oil Refiners Ration Supplies

Gasoline station owners in the Los Angeles area including Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) are beginning to shut pumps as the state’s oil refiners started rationing supplies and spot prices surged to a record.

Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) stopped selling gasoline on the spot, or wholesale, market in Southern California and is allocating deliveries to customers. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is also rationing fuel to U.S. West Coast terminal customers. Costco’s outlet in Simi Valley, 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, ran out of regular gasoline yesterday and was selling premium fuel at the price of regular.

The gasoline shortage “feels like a hurricane to me, but it’s the West Coast,” Jeff Cole, Costco’s vice president of gasoline, said by telephone yesterday. “We’re obviously extremely disheartened that we are unable to do this, and we’re pulling fuel from all corners of California to fix this.”

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles has surged $1 a gallon this week to a record $1.45 a gallon premium versus gasoline futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the highest level for the fuel since at least November 2007, when Bloomberg began publishing prices there. On an outright basis, the fuel has jumped to $4.3929 a gallon. more


Hassan Golkhanban: Defecting Iranian cameraman brings CIA priceless film of secret nuclear sites

debkafile reveals one of the CIA’s most dramatic scoops in many years, and epic disaster for Iran. Our most exclusive Iranian and intelligence sources disclose that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s personal cameraman, Hassan Golkhanban, who defected from his UN entourage in New York on Oct. 1, brought with him an intelligence treasure trove of up-to-date photographs and videos of top Iranian leaders visiting their most sensitive and secret nuclear and missile sites.

The cameraman, who is in his 40s, is staying at an undisclosed address, presumably a CIA safe house under close guard.

He stayed behind when Ahmadinejad, after his UN speech, departed New York with his 140-strong entourage. For some years, Golkhanban worked not just as a news cameraman but personally recorded visits by the Iranian president and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of top-secret nuclear facilities and Revolutionary Guards installations.

When he left Tehran in the president’s party, his luggage was not searched and so he was able to bring out two suitcases packed with precious film and deliver it safely into waiting hands in New York.

The Iranian cameraman has given US intelligence the most complete and updated footage it has ever obtained of the interiors of Iran’s top secret military facilities and various nuclear installations, including some never revealed to nuclear watchdog inspectors.

Among them are exclusive interior shots of the Natanz nuclear complex, the Fordo underground enrichment plant, the Parchin military complex and the small Amir-Abad research reactor in Tehran.

Some of the film depicts Revolutionary Guards and military industry chiefs explaining in detail to the president or supreme leader the working of secret equipment on view. Golkhanban recorded their voices. more

Heavy metals found in most of kids’ products

The majority of stationary and other items used by children circulated in the local market tested by the National Institute of Environmental Research contain high traces of heavy metals.

According to the NIER data submitted to Rep. Hong Young-pyo of the Democratic United Party, 123 of the 124 items tested last year contained heavy metals that can be transferred to the body including lead, nickel and cadmium.

In addition to the heavy metals, 14 items were shown to contain above-regulation levels of phthalates. In the case of a Chinese company’s shoes for infants, a phthalate level nearly 350 times higher than allowed was detected.

Phthalates are environmental hormones that can cause premature development of secondary sexual traits in young girls. more

UKIP Nigel Farage, Full Public meeting in Alfriston - October 2012

Furious shipyard workers storm Greek Defense Ministry complex

Turkey can't afford full-scale war with Syria

Baby whale gets caught in shark nets off Australia's Gold Coast

Fiscal cliff deepening crisis in US & EU

AARP to Obama: Don’t mention us again

President Obama invoked AARP to defend his health care law last night, prompting the influential group to release a statement telling him not to do that again.

“While we respect the rights of each campaign to make its case to voters, AARP has never consented to the use of its name by any candidate or political campaign,” the group posted in a statement. “AARP is a nonpartisan organization and we do not endorse political candidates nor coordinate with any candidate or political party.”

Obama can perhaps be forgiven for thinking he could mention AARP given how they coordinated with him to pass Obamacare, which is a golden goose for the organization. Read More

France to dismantle Roma camp South of Paris

Paris (CNN) -- Citing "unsanitary and unsecure living conditions," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls ordered police early Monday to dismantle a Roma camp set up along suburban railway tracks in Evry, south of Paris, and expel 72 inhabitants, including 19 children.

It is a controversial decision for President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party, which attacked former President Nicolas Sarkozy when his party dismantled Roma camps around France in 2010.

Since the beginning of August, five camps have been dismantled under Valls' directive.

"I cannot support -- not just as interior minister, but as a citizen, as a militant member of the left -- these shantytowns, these huts where people live in conditions that are totally unbearable," Valls said in an interview with Europe1 radio.

Without giving details, he said the people will be housed elsewhere and will not be deported. However, he rejected the idea of housing all the Roma inhabitants in one building.

"It is necessary to fight against these mafias, these networks who maintain delinquency, who maintain also a criminality notably through the exploitation of minors," he said of the Roma, who also are called Gypsies. Read More

Morocco 'warships block abortion ship'

The government of Morocco has closed the port of Smir and is blocking the harbor with warships to prevent the entry of a Dutch "abortion ship" to the Islamic country, the organization running the ship said Thursday.

Abortion is illegal in Morocco, and the country's Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it had not authorized the vessel's visit or any procedures by nonresident doctors.

The abortion ship is run by Women on Waves, which was founded in 1999 by a Dutch doctor to provide abortions to women in countries where the practice is illegal.

Women on Waves doctor Marlies Schellekens told CNN that she and about 10 other members of her group and Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms, the Moroccan activist group that invited the abortion ship to Morocco, are trying to make their way to the harbor in Smir.

The main entrance has been blocked by police; a female Moroccan lawyer representing the group is trying to negotiate with officers to let the group enter, Schellekens said. Dutch lawmaker Liesbeth van Tongeren is also with the group, she said.

The abortion ship has not yet tried to enter the port, she said. Read More

Ancient Syrian ruins destroyed

Turkish police use tear gas against anti-war protesters

Oct. 4 - Turkish police use tear gas to disperse a small group of anti-war demonstrators approaching parliament, as Turkey uses artillery against Syrian targets for a second day.

Turkey debates military action in Syria after civilian deaths

Oct. 4 - World leaders urge level-headedness and express solidarity with Turkey as Ankara debates military action in Syria after Syrian mortar fire killed five Turkish civilians. Sarah Sheffer reports.

EADS-BAE merger could be hostage to U.S. politics

(Reuters) - To win approval for their planned $45 billion merger, EADS and BAE systems must persuade Washington to let a pan-European behemoth control some of the most sensitive U.S. defense contracts, without triggering a political backlash.

Defense industry experts say it should not be difficult for Washington to protect its security interests in allowing the deal to go ahead, but the politics could become complicated if Boeing and other competitors lobby against the deal.

"The security issue can be dealt with if the deal is structured properly," said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute think tank.

"The only way this deal can be blocked in the U.S. is if opponents demagogue the issues of security."

The merger must first be cleared by European officials, and the companies and shareholders must agree terms, but U.S. approval would eventually be necessary as well. Read More

Authorities charge 91 in $430 million Medicare fraud

(Reuters) - Ninety-one people including doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have been charged with committing $430 million in Medicare fraud in seven U.S. cities, authorities said on Thursday.

An investigation coordinated by the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services uprooted alleged false billing schemes involving $230 million in home health services, over $100 million in mental health services and $49 million from ambulance transportation.

Charges range from healthcare fraud and conspiracy to wire fraud, kickback violations, identity theft and money laundering.

The announcement marks the latest case in a concerted crackdown against Medicare fraud by an interagency Medicare fraud strike force.

The strike force was created under the healthcare reform law as a means of curbing waste, fraud and abuse within the $590 billion Medicare program that provides healthcare benefits to nearly 50 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries. Read More

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA - 4th October 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA at a depth of 4 km (2.5 miles), the quake hit at 16:25:02 UTC Thursday 4th October 2012
The epicenter was 77 km (47 miles) WSW of Haines, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Spain averts Columbine-style massacre involving 300 pounds of explosives

Spanish police have foiled an attack on students at a university in Majorca arresting a 21-year- old man who planned to stage a "Columbine-style" massacre.

The student, named locally as Juan Manuel Morales Sierra, was arrested Wednesday with more than 300 pounds of explosives he had ordered over the internet.

Police said he had boasted of wanting to "do a Columbine" and expressed admiration for the perpetrators of the 1999 US attack that killed 12 students and a teacher.

They believe he had tried, and failed, in several attempts to purchase guns, before planning an attack using pipe bombs at the University of the Balearic Isles (UIB) campus in Palma de Majorca.

The arrest was made as he received delivery of explosives at his home in the island's capital.

Mr Morales, an electronics student, had been under close surveillance by detectives for five months after he was identified as a risk through posts he had made on an internet blog. more

Spanish court backs right to protest after Madrid violence

(Reuters) - A Spanish court on Thursday threw out a police case against the organizers of a protest in Madrid last week that ended in violence and dozens of arrests, saying people had a right to express their opinion.

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have taken to the streets in almost daily protests against spending cuts.

Most are peaceful. But last Tuesday's demonstration in Madrid, promoted through social networking sites by activist groups, turned violent with youths clashing with police after thousands of people formed a human chain around parliament.

Thirty-five people were arrested and 64 people hurt as police used rubber bullets and truncheons to clear the crowds.

Judge Santiago Pedraz dismissed the case filed by police after taking statements from seven of the eight detainees who had organized the "Surround the Congress" protest. None had been charged. Read More

Japanese airline, ANA, apologises for plane flip

Sept 30 - Japan's ANA airline apologises for a pilot error that caused a plane to flip in mid-air. Lindsey Parietti reports

Euro zone considering bond insurance for Spain - sources

(Reuters) - The euro zone is considering aiding Spain by providing insurance for investors who buy government bonds in a move designed to maintain Spanish access to capital markets and minimize the cost to European taxpayers, European sources said.

One senior European source said the plan could cost about 50 billion euros ($64.5 billion) for a year. It would enable Spain to cover its full funding needs and trigger potentially unlimited European Central bank buying of short-term Spanish bonds in the secondary market.

If the gamble succeeds, it would achieve two important aims. Spain would be rescued without draining Europe's entire bailout fund and there would be no contagion to Italy.

Under the scheme, which officials say is under consideration in Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Rome, the euro zone's new permanent rescue fund (ESM) would guarantee the first 20 to 30 percent of each new bond issued by Spain.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the discussions. Read More

Iraq sentences U.S. citizen to life in prison

(Reuters) - A U.S. citizen convicted of links with al Qaeda has been sentenced to life in prison by an Iraqi court, a copy of the ruling showed on Thursday.

Omar Rashad Khalil, who is of Palestinian origin, was arrested in 2010 and accused of helping finance and execute "terrorist operations" inside Iraq, according to the ruling, a copy of which was posted on the Interior Ministry website.

The ruling said Khalil, in his early 50s, was an architect and also went by the name Abu Muhammad. He was sentenced by Baghdad's central criminal court on Wednesday.

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Iraq is home to several Sunni insurgent groups including a local branch of al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq, which continues to launch frequent attacks across the country following the withdrawal of U.S. troops last December.

Islamists, most of them from other Arab countries, flocked to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to fight the foreign military presence. Read More

Syria 'Sorry For Shelling Turkish Town'

Syria has apologised for a mortar strike on a Turkish border town which left five civilians dead and said the incident will not be repeated, according to Turkey's deputy prime minister.

Turkey had returned fire in response to the shelling of Akcakale, and its parliament voted to authorise military operations inside Syria as a "deterrent" against the Syrian army, deputy leader Besir Atalay said.

He said: "This mandate is not a war mandate but it is in our hands to be used when needed in order to protect Turkey's own interests according to potential developments in the future."

Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he has no intention of declaring war on Syria and the pounding of Syrian targets, which reportedly killed several soldiers, was just "a warning". Read More

Zuckerberg: Facebook Has One Billion Users....Are 80% of them also Fake?

One in seven people on the planet now use Facebook to stay in touch, according to the social networking giant's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The eight-year-old company added 200 million new users in the last year, bringing its total number of "friends" to a billion across the world.

Mr Zuckerberg announced the milestone in an interview with NBC on Thursday, describing the development as "an amazing honour".

"To be able to come into work every day and build things that help a billion people stay connected with the people they care about every month, that's just unbelievable," the 28-year-old tech guru said.

But he also admitted Facebook had been in a "tough cycle" since the company's initial public offering in May. Shares in the social networking site on the Nasdaq stock exchange have lost around 50% since. Read More

Continuous Turkish artillery barrage cuts out 10-km buffer strip inside Syria

Constrained from a substantial military incursion into Syria by US President Barack Obama’s veto and Saudi and Qatari refusals to help pay for it, Turkey’s government and military decided to make do with carving out a buffer strip 10 kilometers deep into Syria by continuous artillery barrages.

Thursday morning, Oct. 4 at 0300 GMT, Ankara ordered the Turkish army to keep up its cross-border shelling of Syria after the first bombardment Wednesday night in response to the deaths of five Turkish civilians and eight injured by Syrian mortar shells which exploded in their village.

debkafile's military sources report the artillery squads were told to aim primarily at Syrian military targets inside this strip, including bases, outposts and Syrian forces on the move.

Several Syrian bases and outposts have been hit so far and a large number of Syrian soldiers killed or wounded. Neither Ankara nor Damascus is offering information on casualties. They have imposed a heavy blackout on events so as to keep them under control and avoid the risk of a full-blown war.

It was the first time in the 18-month Syrian uprising that Turkey had staged military action against Syria. more

Turkey authorizes military action in Syria after mortar attack that killed civilians

Turkey’s parliament voted Thursday to authorize military cross-border operations into Syria, a day after an apparently errant mortar strike from inside Syria killed five Turkish civilians.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told the Associated Press that the 320-129 vote “is not for war,” but is intended to deter Syria from further violence that could spill over the border.

Atalay also said that Syria has taken responsibility and formally apologized for the death of the five Turkish civilians, and reassured the United Nations that “such an incident will not occur again,” AP reported.

Though this was not the first time the Syrian conflict has spilled over into Turkey, the five people killed Wednesday after a shell launched by the Syrian military crashed into the Turkish border town of Akcakale were the first Turkish civilians to die.

Within hours of the strike, Turkey launched two artillery attacks against Syria in retaliation, marking the most serious escalation in international tensions since the Syrian revolt erupted 19 months ago.

“Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately to this abominable attack in line with their rules of engagement; targets were struck through artillery fire against places in Syria identified by radar,” said a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. more

Milky Way Black Holes Found By Astronomers

Astronomers have found two black holes, each up to 20 times heavier than the Sun, hidden deep inside our own galaxy.

The unexpected discovery was made by a team exploring a 12 billion-year-old cluster of stars in the Milky Way called M22.

It contains hundreds of thousands of stars and can be seen with the naked eye as a hazy patch of light.

Scientists at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research now believe there could be as many as 100 black holes inside the cluster.

Dr James Miller-Jones, who co-wrote a report that appears in the journal Nature, said: "Simulations of how globular clusters evolve show that many black holes are created early in a cluster's history.

"The many black holes then sink towards the middle of the cluster where they begin a chaotic dance. Most are thrown out until only one surviving black hole remains.

"We were searching for one large black hole in the middle of the cluster, but instead found two smaller black holes a little way out from the centre, which means all the theory and simulations need refinement." Read More

Latest stories April Jones: Cops Drill Way Into Suspect's Home

Police are drilling their way into the home of April Jones abduction suspect Mark Bridger.

Activity at Mr Bridger's white farmhouse intensified as officers were given until 5pm tomorrow to question the 46-year-old.

Search teams used drills to unbolt doors at the rented home and forensic officers combed the garden in the hamlet of Ceinws by the Dyfi river in mid-Wales.

The search came as police used a press conference to appeal for information about Mr Bridger's movements and use of social media around the time April vanished.

April's family also launched a pink ribbon campain to support the search and revealed that the five-year-old girl was suffering from cerebral palsy. Read More

Ashton Kutcher Hoax 911 Call Investigated that led to officers arresting occupants of the Hollywood Hills home of actor Ashton Kutcher

A woman rang police to say robbers were inside the house and that she had locked herself in one of the mansion's bathrooms after three gunshots were fired.

Police rushed to the scene, with TV pictures showing footage of three people leaving the property with their hands up as they were arrested by officers.

But the call is now being investigated as another case of "swatting".

"Swatting" is the name given to a fake emergency call that leads to a response team being sent to the scene. Read More

Spy Charge: Millionaire 'Sold US Secrets'

A man has been charged with spying against America, while ten others are accused of helping him send military secrets to Russia.

The group are accused of plotting to send controlled military technology to Russia as part of an alleged military exports ring between October 2008 and 2012.

The indictment alleges Alexander Fishenko and accomplices sold cutting-edge microelectronics through the Houston-based Arc Electronics company he owned.

US authorities say the millionaire fooled the Department of Commerce into thinking his company made traffic lights when it was actually supplying the Russians with sophisticated microelectronics that could be used in weapon systems.

The export of such technology to Russia is subject to strict government controls because of their potential to be used in a wide range of military systems.

This included radar and surveillance, weapons guidance and detonation triggers, some of which Russia does not produce domestically. Read More

Lost, bewildered without teleprompter...Obama the debater: Making Jimmy Carter look awesome

Party like it’s 1980!

Bewildered and lost without his teleprompter, President Obama flailed all around the debate stage last night. He was stuttering, nervous and petulant. It was like he had been called in front of the principal after goofing around for four years and blowing off all his homework.

Not since Jimmy Carter faced Ronald Reagan has the U.S. presidency been so embarrassingly represented in public. Actually, that’s an insult to Jimmy Carter.

The split screen was most devastating. Mitt Romney spoke forthrightly, with carefully studied facts and details at the ready. He looked right at the president and accused him of being miles out of his depth.

Mr. Obama? His eyes were glued to his lectern, looking guilty and angry and impatient with all the vagaries of Democracy. This debate was seriously chaffing him.

What exactly was Mr. Obama’s strategy here? Did he figure with so many people unemployed in this abomination of an economy he should go for the sympathy vote? Like voters could relate to a guy who is just scared pantsless that he is about to lose his job? Read More

NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All - Op-Docs: The Program

Iraq: ''Ten Years, a Million Lives and Trillions of Dollars Later''

Ten years ago today the debate over the Iraq War came to Congress in the form of a resolution promoted by the Bush administration. The war in Iraq will cost the United States as much as $5 trillion. It played a role in spurring the global financial crisis. Four thousand, four hundred, eighty eight Americans were killed. More than 33,000 were injured.

As many as 1,000,000 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed. The monetary cost of the war to Iraq is incalculable. A sectarian civil war has ravaged Iraq for nearly a decade. Iraq has become home to al Qaeda.

The war in Iraq was sold to Congress and the American people with easily disproved lies. We must learn from this dark period in American history to ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes. And we must hold accountable those who misled the American public.

On October 2, 2002, the day the legislation to authorize war in Iraq was introduced, I sent and personally distributed a memo to my colleagues in Congress refuting point-by-point every reason given by the Bush administration to go to war.

On October 3, 2002, I held a press conference with 25 Members of Congress and then presented an hour long explanation to Congress on the House Floor, refuting the lies upon which the cause of war was predicated. Read More

Big'' Changes Are Coming, But The World Will Not End''

“Reflecting upon the news and the current state of affairs, it is striking how events are playing out according to script, as history and strategists have predicted. In the beginning of our journey, it was focused on discovery, historical context and understanding as to what had changed about markets, governments and people. The answer is almost everything if one looks just at our lifetimes.

On the other hand, nothing has really changed if one takes a longer view. One of our favorite sayings is, “The only thing new is the history you have not read”....

“We can vouch for that. After a review of much of the last 2,600 years, we have concluded that we are not the historic anomaly that we surmised at the beginning of the journey. In fact, we are simply repeating the same cycles and mistakes that all of our ancestors have made before us. Every culture throughout history has done exactly what we are doing now. The only difference is that this time it involves the entire planet.

As we read history, paper money was not designed to be an asset. It was an intermediary between sellers of goods and services. A seller might not have an immediate purchase in mind, so receiving a paper receipt that could be redeemed at a later time, and even at another location, was both efficient and much safer than receiving payment in gold or silver. The return trip from Rome to London was perilous under normal circumstances, let alone if one was returning with precious metals.

In our era, these receipts have taken many forms. Even the cash in our pockets is a derivative. In technical terms, it is a zero-coupon, perpetual obligation of the issuing government. In essence, the writing on the paper currency is promising “somebody owes you something, someday”.

The post-WWII monetary system began at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. It began to unravel in the middle of the 1960s, but the mortal blow was struck by President Nixon with the suspension of dollar/gold convertibility. It has certainly been a long “suspension”. Read More

White House widening covert war in North Africa

WASHINGTON (AP) — Small teams of special operations forces arrived at American embassies throughout North Africa in the months before militants launched the fiery attack that killed the U.S. ambassador in Libya. The soldiers' mission: Set up a network that could quickly strike a terrorist target or rescue a hostage.

But the teams had yet to do much counterterrorism work in Libya, though the White House signed off a year ago on the plan to build the new military task force in the region and the advance teams had been there for six months, according to three U.S. counterterror officials and a former intelligence official. All spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the strategy publicly.

The counterterror effort indicates that the administration has been worried for some time about a growing threat posed by al-Qaida and its offshoots in North Africa. But officials say the military organization was too new to respond to the attack in Benghazi, where the administration now believes armed al-Qaida-linked militants surrounded the lightly guarded U.S. compound, set it on fire and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Read More

No Joy on Wall Street as Biggest Banks Earn $63 Billion



Four years ago today, President George W. Bush signed into law the biggest corporate rescue in American history. Even as U.S. unemployment has remained above 8 percent for 43 months, the country’s biggest banks are making almost as much as they ever have.

The combined $63 billion in profit reported by the six largest U.S. lenders over the four quarters through June is more than they earned in any calendar year since the peak in 2006.

Bank of America Corp. made more in the 12-month period than Walt Disney Co. and McDonald’s Corp. combined. Citigroup Inc. (C), which like Bank of America took $45 billion in taxpayer funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, earned more than Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and Boeing Co. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the largest U.S. bank by assets, had profits of more than $17 billion even after reporting a $5.8 billion trading loss.

Still, Wall Street isn’t enjoying its good fortune. Read More

Obama Moves Two Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups Into the Middle of South China Sea Dispute'

How foreclosures ate America: Incredible interactive map shows wave of property repossession over the past five years

A new map that illustrates foreclosure rates across the country from January 2007 to July 2012 makes uncomfortable reading for President Obama and his team who insist that Americans are better off than they were four years ago.

Charting the collapse of the housing boom in 2007, through the election of President Obama and the world financial crisis, the map shows vast swaths of the Southeast, Midwest and West turn purple indicating extremely high numbers of foreclosures.

The fascinating and disturbing colour-coded interactive map reveals the most recent data in July 2012 doesn't look much better than past maps as the foreclosure epidemic in the United States is laid bare. Read More

Jobless put to work in Rotterdam to earn their keep

AP Fact Check: Inconvenient Facts Left Out

Russia denies involvement in alleged U.S. smuggling network

(Reuters) - Russian spy agencies were not involved in an alleged smuggling network uncovered by the United States and Moscow is concerned by the espionage allegations, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

"The charges are of a criminal nature and have nothing to do with the work of the secret services," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. Read More

Iranians protest over currency plunge

Oct. 4 - Amateur footage appears to show Iranians protesting over in Tehran's Grand Bazaar over the slump of the nation's currency. Sarah Charlton reports.

Shops stay closed in Tehran bazaar after clashes

(Reuters) - Shops in Tehran's Grand Bazaar stayed shut and police patrolled the area on Thursday as authorities struggled to restore normalcy a day after security forces clashed with anti-government demonstrators angered by the collapse of the currency.

Several traders from the bazaar, whose merchants played a major role during Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, told Reuters by telephone that most stores were closed as businessmen stayed away for safety reasons.

On Wednesday, riot police fought demonstrators and arrested money changers in the area during protests triggered by the collapse of the Iranian rial, which has lost about a third of its value against the dollar over the past week.

Political pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose on Thursday as business associations blamed him for the country's economic crisis, which has been worsened by Western sanctions imposed over Iran's disputed nuclear program. Read More

Two soldiers wounded in Yemen government building bomb attack

(Reuters) - Two bombs went off at the gate of the local council headquarters in Yemen's southern city of Ma'ala, wounding two soldiers, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

The attackers, whose affiliation was not immediately clear, fled the scene and security forces defused a third bomb found at the building, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Yemen, overlooking one of the world's busiest oil shipping routes, is plagued by poverty and lawlessness, which the toppling of veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh after an Arab Spring uprising has done little to change.

The United States actively supports Yemen's attempts to control the Yemeni-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group viewed by Washington as the most dangerous branch of the militant network established by Osama bin Laden. Read More

Greek police clash with protesting shipyard workers

(Reuters) - Greek police clashed with protesting shipyard workers who stormed the Defence Ministry complex in Athens on Thursday demanding back pay that they said they were owed.

About 250 workers from the Hellenic Skaramangas shipyard (HSY) forced their way into the complex by pulling up a shutter and stood in the ministry's grounds chanting "We want solutions, not layoffs!".

The head of the army's general staff, General Mihail Kostarakos, came out to address the protesters but was booed and heckled.

Scuffles broke out when police surrounded the workers and used truncheons to beat them back, television images showed. One man could be seen with a bloodied face, while another could be seen being dragged away by police as he tried to enter the ministry building.

The workers allege that they have not been paid for six months because the near-bankrupt Greek state has not paid the shipyard's owner, Abu Dhabi March The company was not immediately available for comment. Read More

Eyes on Spain as ECB meets, bazooka ready

(Reuters) - European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will keep his bond-buying bazooka on display when the bank meets on Thursday, but Spain's reluctance to request aid from EU partners means he is unlikely to pull the trigger soon.

A month after Draghi unveiled the bond-purchase plan that was hailed by many as a savior for the single currency bloc, investors are still waiting for Madrid to bite the bullet on a rescue.

Before it does, the ECB cannot act, and markets are likely to remain jittery. Spanish two-year note yields have climbed more than half a percentage point in the weeks since Draghi's plan was unveiled - a reminder that action not words are needed to resolve euro zone's three-year old crisis.

"Given that the ECB's actions are hostage to the political debate, in particular the EU/Spain dialogue on Spain's request for (European Union) aid, some news that Mr. Draghi himself is encouraged by developments will go a very long way to provide support to the market," economist Lena Komileva at G+ Economics said. Read More

3rd American Airlines flight in a week experiences loose seats

(CNN) -- American Airlines, already grappling with union issues and bankruptcy fallout, is now confronting a third problem: growing reports of loose seats.

On Tuesday, the company said another flight had experienced loose seats, bringing the total to three flights on two planes in a week.

A plane headed from Vail, Colorado, to Dallas on September 26 had seats come loose, the airline's vice president of safety confirmed Tuesday.

The same aircraft experienced a similar problem on a New York to Miami flight on Monday morning. That flight had to return to John F. Kennedy Airport. Read More

Deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak spreads: 4 dead

(CNN) -- A non-contagious, fungal form of meningitis has sickened 26 people in five states, killing four, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

Five additional cases were reported in Tennessee, health officials said Tuesday. The total number of cases in that state is 18.

Three cases have been reported in Virginia, two each in Florida and Maryland and one in North Carolina, the CDC said. Two people have died in Tennessee, one in Virginia and one in Maryland.
All of those infected had received steroid injections to the spine.

Tennessee: Meningitis outbreak investigated

The Tennessee victims range in age from 49 to 89, state Health Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner said Wednesday. Department spokesman Woody McMillin said Tuesday 11 patients were hospitalized.

"The prime suspect for this outbreak is methylprednisolone acetate," Dreyzehner said Wednesday. Read More

Riot police swarm anti-Ahmadinejad protesters in fury over currency

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian riot police swarmed a major bazaar Wednesday in Tehran as demonstrators launched protests against firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blaming him for plummeting currency that's leaving families across the country struggling. A day after Ahmadinejad acknowledged that his country is taking a hit, and placed the blame largely on "the enemy's" sanctions, crowds of protesters also took to the streets in another commercial area in the capital, shopkeepers said. They chanted slogans slamming Ahmadinejad's regime and complained about the high prices of goods and food. Riot police dispersed the crowd, a shopkeeper said. The semi-official Mehr news agency reported two European tourists and some "agitators" were arrested by security forces. The Europeans violated Iranian law by gathering information about the protests, it said. Read More

Sudan: Peacekeepers Killed in Ambush

Four Nigerian soldiers belonging to the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur were killed in an ambush on Tuesday evening by unidentified attackers.

Peacekeeping troops have been in Darfur since 2007. Some 16,000 troops, mostly from African nations, are currently based in the region; 78 have died.

The soldiers killed on Tuesday were ambushed near a peacekeeping base in western Darfur. Eight soldiers were also injured. War broke out in Darfur in 2003, when rebel groups took up arms against the central government. According to the United Nations, 300,000 people have died because of the war.

The Sudanese government says 10,000 have died. A peace agreement was signed between the government and one rebel group in 2011, but three other rebel groups have refused to sign. Read More

Lebanon: Explosion kills three Hizbullah fighters

An explosion ripped through a Hezbollah munitions depot in East Lebanon Wednesday killing three of the group's fighters and wounding an unknown number, Hezbollah said in a statement.

“It led to the martyrdom of three of our mujahideen brothers and wounded several. We are now working to treat the effects of the incident and cooperate with relevant parties,” the statement said of the incident at the Bekaa valley village of Nabi Chit

The depot held old munitions, rockets, and “remnants of Israeli raids in the area,” according to Hezbollah.

The explosions in Lebanon's Bekaa Wednesday sparked a flurry of disparate reports from the mainstream press, with the AFP and the BBC claiming that nine had died, while others, like the AP reported casualty figures as low as two.

The country's National News Agency said that witnesses heard not one, but three intermittent explosions in the area. Read More

Iran erupts as embargo sends currency plunging

Hundreds of protesters have clashed with police in Tehran after the government attempted to stop the Iranian currency plummeting in value by cracking down on speculators, beginning with the city's black-market money changers.

The sprawling Grand Bazaar, whose merchants were instrumental in the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, was closed as traders shut their shops in solidarity with the currency traders, and called for government action to head off an economic collapse.

The riots were a sign that Western sanctions aimed at halting Iran's nuclear programme are taking their toll on the economy, and signal the most serious civil unrest in over a year.

In the past week alone, the rial, which has steadily devalued over the year, has fallen by 40 per cent, hitting a record low of 37,500 to the dollar on the free market. It was trading at around 24,600 last Monday, and early last year, was trading closer to 10,000. Trading in the currency was halted yesterday. Read More

Turkish artillery has renewed firing at targets in Syria after shells from across the border on Wednesday killed five Turkish nationals.

Several Syrian troops were killed by Turkish fire, activists from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Turkey's border town of Akcakala was shelled, apparently by Syrian government forces, on Wednesday, killing a woman and three children.

The UN Security Council is due to meet later to condemn Syria's actions.

Ankara's response marks the first time it has fired into Syria during the 18-month-long unrest there.

Turkey also asked the UN Security Council to take "necessary action" to stop Syrian "aggression".

The request was made by Turkish envoy to the UN, Ertugrul Apakan, in a letter to the current president of the 15-member Council, Guatemalan ambassador Gert Rosenthal. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake FLORES REGION, INDONESIA - 4th October 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the FLORES REGION, INDONESIA at a depth of 15.3 km (9.5 miles), the quake hit at 06:38:45 UTC Thursday 4th October 2012
The epicenter was 88 km (54 miles) ENE of Palue, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SALTA, ARGENTINA - 4th October 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck SALTA, ARGENTINA at a depth of 173 km (107.5 miles), the quake hit at 06:11:05 UTC Thursday 4th October 2012
The epicenter was 67 km (41 miles) WNW of San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 4th October 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck VANUATU at a depth of 95.5 km (59.3 miles), the quake hit at 04:04:34 UTC Thursday 4th October 2012
The epicenter was 104 km (64 miles) South of Port-Vila, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

China Landslide Buries 18 Primary School Children

Eighteen primary school pupils have been buried in a landslide in the Yunnan province of China.

Youfang Elementary School and two farm houses were destroyed by the landslide in the village of Zhenhe in Yilang county.

The village was hit by two 5.6-magnitude earthquakes on September 7 - with the loss of 81 lives.

A statement on the Yiliang government website said it was unclear whether the students had survived the crush.

Another person - in one of the farm houses - is also trapped, it is believed.

Officials said rescuers had arrived at the site and residents had been moved from the area. Read More

'Amityville' house back on market, blood not included

(CNN) -- Able to scare up a few bucks?

Just in time for Halloween, the owners of the home made famous in the spooky 1970s film "The Amityville Horror" are dramatically slashing the asking price on their Toms River, New Jersey, colonial, which was used for exteriors in the film.

The decision wasn't triggered by demonic activity, however. Apparently, another frightening "D" word was to blame.

"My husband and I are getting a divorce," said Odalys Fragoso, who bought the house with her husband Jose Fragoso in 2001. "It's not that the house is haunted or anything. We had wonderful times in that house." Read More

Big Brother is watching you more closely than ever: CCTV cameras, the spies in our midst

The march of CCTV cameras - which now recognise your face from half a mile away - is remorseless. So why aren't we all as mad as hell?

Don’t get so agitated, a minister in the last Labour government once told me, most CCTV cameras do not work anyway. Of all the justifications for this Big Brother technology that watches over us from every street corner, this was the most original.

The cameras that are meant to make us feel safer, and to make potential criminals think twice, weren’t up to the job. If that was ever true, it certainly isn’t the case now. For an alarming, and timely, wake-up call has been sounded by Britain’s first surveillance commissioner.

He’s the man who knows the truth — we don’t have to listen to one of those lily-livered human rights groups.

Andrew Rennison has been employed by the Government to look after the system. His appointment follows the introduction earlier this year of the Protection of Freedoms Act — perhaps the high point in the Coalition’s commitment to civil liberties.

The act promised to restore freedoms through the scrapping of plans to issue everyone with identity cards, to force relevant authorities to ‘have regard’ to a code of practice about surveillance cameras and to implement checks and balances to the various state-run schemes that challenge our notions of privacy.

But Mr Rennison this week warned that most people have no idea how advanced the technology has become. Read More

Google admits Middle Eastern governments could be spying on its users as it warns of 'state-sponsored' hacking attacks

Google has launched a new effort to warn its users that they could be the victims of cyberattacks from hostile governments.

Account-holders working in international relations, development and other sensitive areas have received messages from the search giant informing them of recent efforts to spy on their online history.

The move comes after the company started detecting 'tens of thousands' of new hacking attacks originating in the Middle East.

Google is a tempting target for hackers, as it is not focussed solely on search but also offers its users services such as email, mapping and Chrome, one of the most popular web browsers.

This week, according to the New York Times, users thought to have been targeted saw a message attached to their accounts saying, 'Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer.' Read More

Nigeria attack: Arrests over Mubi students' killings

Nigerian police say they have made many arrests following the killing of at least 26 people at a college hostel in the north-eastern town of Mubi.

Most victims were students called out by name by the gunmen, police said. The attackers went from door-to-door, shooting or stabbing.

It is unclear who is responsible.

Some suspect the Boko Haram militant group, while police sources are linking it to a student union election, which was contested on sectarian lines.

BBC Hausa service editor Mansur Liman says the newly elected leader of the student union at the Federal Polytechnic Mubi was among those reported to have been killed.

Rivalry between different groups of students, sometimes influenced by national politics, religion and ethnicity, is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria's higher educational institutions; however, this would be the first time it has reached such a level of violence, he says. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA - 4th October 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA at a depth of 8.2 km (5.1 miles), the quake hit at 03:51:33 UTC Thursday 4th October 2012
The epicenter was 272 km (169 miles) SSW from Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Al-Qaeda behind EU wildfires, eyes on WMDs - Russia's security chief

'Greek govt ultimate vodka addict in pool of vodka'

US charges 11 Russians with conspiracy to export high-tech electronics

Treachery, Ron Paul, animation and the RNC betrayal.

Iran stages massive drill in Caspian Sea

Anti-government protester climbs Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome

Internet Blockade Broken in China



Chinese netizens are trapped behind a wall against the
Chinese communist regime for 'freedom of speech'.
Facing millions of netizens' continuous attacking,
the Chinese communist party (CCP) had no way out.
Analysts pointed out, netizens are longing for the truth,

and challenging the CCP's internet blockade,
resulting in a breach of the blockade, but how?

Voice of America reporter Qi Zhifeng observed the current
internet in China, and pointed out that
netizens in China are waging war against the
Chinese Communist regime for 'speech freedom'.
Under their watchful eyes, Chinese netizens worked
together or independently to continuously attack the Chinese Communist regime.

Facing the ongoing withering attack by millions of netizens,
the CCP are helpless.
At present, the Chinese Communist regime has been
"caught in the vast ocean of a people's war."
The CCP is very clear on this issue, but can do nothing. Read More