Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Global financial confidence "very fragile", euro crisis key threat: IMF

(Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund urged European policymakers to deepen the financial and fiscal ties within the euro area with some urgency to restore sagging confidence in the global financial system.

In its semi-annual check on the world's financial health, the Fund said the euro area's debt crisis was the main threat and the risks to global financial stability had risen in the last six months, leaving confidence "very fragile".

The euro area's plodding progress means European banks are likely to offload $2.8 trillion in assets over two years to cut their risk exposure, an increase of $200 billion from a prediction six months ago, the IMF estimated. That could shrink credit supply in the periphery by 9 percent by the end of 2013, crimping economic growth.

"Despite many important steps already taken by policymakers, this agenda remains critically incomplete, exposing the euro area to a downward spiral of capital flight, breakup fears and economic decline," the IMF said in its Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) released on Wednesday.

Jose Vinals, director of the IMF's monetary and capital markets department and the main author of the financial stability report, said Europe's troubles should serve as a lesson to the heavily indebted United States and Japan that delaying the necessary policy adjustments until markets force their hands would lead to "harsher economic outcomes." Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN - 10th October 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN at a depth of 90.4 km (56.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:37:10 UTC Wednesday 10th October 2012
The epicenter was 73 km (45 miles) WNW from Chitral, Pakistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 9th October 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 99.1 km (61.6 miles), the quake hit at 22:14:22 UTC Tuesday 9th October 2012
The epicenter was 88 km (55 miles) South from Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

International Monetary Fund says Europe's political leaders are running out of time to resolve economic problems

European banks are in the midst of an emergency fire sale of assets worth more than £8,000 for every single household in the continent, it has emerged.

The warning from the International Monetary Fund came 24 hours after it slashed its growth forecast for Britain's economy by more than any other major developed country.

It said political leaders - especially those in the eurozone - are running out of time to put right the economic problems weighing them down.

In its Global Financial Stability Report, the IMF predicted Europe's biggest banks will need to sell off $2.8 trillion (£1.75trn) of assets in the coming months - some $200bn (£125bn) higher than its estimate in the spring.

The sum is equivalent to 10,350 euro (£8,331) for each of Europe's 210 million households - and will mean there is less money available to be lent to consumers, worsening the credit crisis. Read More

Two Terrorism Arrests At Heathrow Airport

Two people have been arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of committing terrorism offences.

A man and a woman were held at 8.30pm on Tuesday after arriving on a flight into the airport.

The pair, both aged 26, were arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

They were taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody. Read More

Body Bags And Gas Mask Found In Man's Luggage at LAX Airport

A man wearing a bulletproof vest and flame-retardant trousers landed at Los Angeles Airport with suspicious items, police say.

A man dressed in a bulletproof vest and flame-retardant trousers has been arrested at a US airport after a smoke grenade, gas mask and body bags were discovered in his luggage.

Boston-bound Yongda Huang Harris, 28, was arrested at Los Angeles Airport on suspicion of transporting hazardous materials on a flight from Japan.

Harris, a US citizen who works in the Far East, was held on Friday. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

He drew suspicion when US Customs and Border Protection officers at the airport noticed he was wearing the bulletproof vest and flame-retardant trousers under his trenchcoat.

The observation triggered a formal investigation by Homeland Security special agents. Read More

Cameron In Economy Warning

David Cameron will end the Tory conference with a blunt warning about tough times ahead.

On the day after the International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecast on UK economic growth, the Prime Minister will issue a sombre analysis of the state of the economy.

He will also attempt to convey a serious message to his party and the country, in stark contrast with the knockabout style of London Mayor Boris Johnson in his two speeches in Birmingham this week.

Attempting to dispel the image his critics paint of him as a privileged toff, Mr Cameron will talk emotionally about his father and the disability he faced in the 1930s.

Looking ahead to the next general election, he will claim the Tories can defeat Labour but declare: "But it's tough. These are difficult times. We're being tested.

"How will we come through it? Again, it's not complicated.

"Hard work. Strong families. Taking responsibility. Serving others." Read More

US report: Israel-US discussing joint Iran attack

Uzi Arad says that while report not divorced from US politics, public airing of discussion adds pressure on Iran.

Israel and the US are considering a joint surgical strike targeting Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, according to a report in Foreign Policy that appeared Monday soon after Republican candidate Mitt Romney slammed US President Barack Obama's Iran policy.

"Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability," Romney said in a foreign policy address delivered at the Virginia Military Institute. "And it has never acted less deterred by America."

Soon after those comments, David Rothkopf - who wrote unflatteringly of Romney that this was one of the first times recently he addressed foreign policy without "tripping over his own misstatements" - reported that the White House and Israeli officials "assert that the two sides behind the scenes have come closer together in their views [regarding Iran] in recent days." Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA - 9th October 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the BANDA SEA at a depth of 52 km (32.3 miles), the quake hit at 18:34:50 UTC Tuesday 9th October 2012
The epicenter was 119 km (73 miles) SSE of Saparua, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Neo-Nazi Party Welcomed Into European Anti-Discrimination Body

A representative of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has been accepted as a new member of a leading European body aimed at combating discrimination.

Golden Dawn party member Eleni Zaroulia joined the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on October 1, in what the Anti-Defamation League has described as “an affront to concepts of equality and non-discrimination."

The body, which is based in Strasbourg, is comprised of members from 47 European nations and was established to promote democracy, and to protect human rights and the rule of law in Europe.

The Golden Dawn party has become notorious for its blatant anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric and has been responsible for perpetrating attacks against Jews and foreigners.

Its doctrine echoes Nazi principles by proposing that, "only men and women of Greek descent and consciousness should have full political rights." Copies of “Mein Kampf,” as well as other works on Greek racial superiority, are openly displayed at party headquarters.

Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos has denied that ovens and gas chambers were used in Nazi concentration camps to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.

The party campaigned under the slogan “So we can rid the land of filth” and recently held a blood drive to collect blood "only for Hellenes," i.e. ethnic Greeks.

"The despicable ideology of Golden Dawn stands in the most stark contrast imaginable to the goals of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Given the party's rhetoric, it is an affront to concepts of equality and non-discrimination that one of its representatives now serves as a member on this Committee." Read More

Greek anti-fascist protesters 'tortured by police' after Golden Dawn clash

Fifteen people arrested in Athens says they were subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation

Fifteen anti-fascist protesters arrested in Athens during a clash with supporters of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have said they were tortured in the Attica General Police Directorate (GADA) – the Athens equivalent of Scotland Yard – and subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation.

Members of a second group of 25 who were arrested after demonstrating in support of their fellow anti-fascists the next day said they were beaten and made to strip naked and bend over in front of officers and other protesters inside the same police station.

Several of the protesters arrested after the first demonstration on Sunday 30 September told the Guardian they were slapped and hit by a police officer while five or six others watched, were spat on and "used as ashtrays" because they "stank", and were kept awake all night with torches and lasers being shone in their eyes. Read More

Athens Anger: 'Greek police rhetoric reminds of military dictatorship'

Anonymous - Operation Greek Solidarity

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake BATAN ISLANDS REGION, PHILIPPINES - 9th October 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck the BATAN ISLANDS REGION, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 158.2 km (98.3 miles), the quake hit at 16:11:57 UTC Tuesday 9th October 2012
The epicenter was 35 km (21 miles) East of Itbayat, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Baby dies in Southmead Hospital pseudomonas outbreak

A premature baby died and 12 others were given treatment after an outbreak of a water-borne bacterium at a Bristol neonatal unit, it has been confirmed.

Southmead Hospital said it had found traces of pseudomonas aeruginosa in the water system for its neonatal intensive care unit.

The hospital said the baby died in August after contracting the bacterium.

Four babies died after contracting the bug in hospitals in Northern Ireland in December and January. Read More

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake GULF OF CALIFORNIA - 9th October 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the GULF OF CALIFORNIA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:50:54 UTC Tuesday 9th October 2012
The epicenter was 96 km (60 miles) ENE from La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Anthrax scare looms in Manicaland, ZImbabwe

ANTHRAX has killed hundreds of animals mostly in the communal parts of Manicaland within the past two months, and veterinary experts say the risk of the hemorrhagic infection may be greater with drought covering much of the province.

Though there were no immediate reports of human deaths in the outbreak, health authorities in Manicaland have recorded several hospitalised cases following the consumption of infected carcasses.
Humans usually get anthrax through direct contact with infected livestock, often when spores get into a cut on the skin or eating infected carcasses. Without treatment, anthrax can be fatal, but early treatment with antibiotics is very effective.

Dr Kurai Pride Kapondo, the acting provincial veterinary officer for Manicaland, confirmed the developments, adding that Anthrax cases have frequently been documented in Buhera, Mutare, Mutasa and Chipinge districts.

The movement of cattle from these affected districts has been suspended with immediate effect, and those caught moving animals from these affected areas will be penalised because the spread of the disease is partially blamed on illegal animal movements.

Natural anthrax is endemic in Zimbabwe where its bacillus spores can live for decades in dry soil and are ingested by animals ruminating for remnants of vegetation in the driest months of September and October. Read More

Eurozone approves Another 800 million euros aid to Portugal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers signed off on a further tranche of financial aid to Portugal on Monday and said the country was working hard to put in place the budget cuts and structural economic adjustments demanded of it.

In a statement following a meeting in Luxembourg, the Eurogroup, made up of the finance ministers of the 17 euro zone countries, said Lisbon was carrying out its reforms faster than expected and was broadly on track to meet its goals. It has been given an extra year to meet its deficit targets.

"The Eurogroup notes with satisfaction that the government's active preparation of a return to the financial markets in 2013 has recently been met with success," it said, adding that it had approved the next disbursement of 800 million euros from the eurozone's temporary EFSF bailout fund.

A further 3.5 billion euros from the eurozone and the IMF is expected to be disbursed at the end of the month, it said. Read More

CDC says three more U.S. deaths from meningitis outbreak

(Reuters) - Three more people have died from fungal meningitis linked to steroid injections, bringing the total to 11 deaths since the outbreak began last month, the Centers for Disease Control said on Tuesday.


The CDC said the number of meningitis cases in the United States linked to the outbreak reached 119 on Tuesday, up 14 from Monday.

New Jersey reported its first case of meningitis linked to possible contamination of steroid injections, bringing the number of states affected by the outbreak to 10.

The widening outbreak has alarmed U.S. health officials and focused attention on regulations of pharmaceutical compounding companies such as the one that produced the drugs, the New England Compounding Center Inc in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The steroid is used as a painkiller, usually to alleviate back pain, and could have been injected in some 13,000 patients, authorities have said. Read More

Germany demands more power on banking

Germany is demanding greater power on the board of the eurozone’s new bank supervisor, a politically charged request that further complicates Europe’s fractious talks on a banking union.


Berlin’s proposal for voting weights to match the bigger size of its banking sector gives voice to longstanding German concerns about being outgunned under the European Central Bank’s one-country one-vote governance system.

But the idea – raised privately in talks with European officials – touches on some of the founding principles of the single currency and is likely to rile smaller eurozone countries fearful of Germany’s growing willingness to flex its muscles. Read More

Heriberto Lazcano's Body Stolen by Armed Gang

The body of a top drugs cartel leader has gone missing a day after he was killed in a gunfight with marines in northern Mexico.

The remains of Heriberto Lazcano were stolen from a funeral parlour by an armed group, a state prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The Mexican navy, which conducted the operation against the Zetas leader, known as "El Lazca", said fingerprints and photographs were used to identify the body as Heriberto Lazcano's before it was taken.

The navy said it gave the body to local authorities, but offered no details about its subsequent whereabouts.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency said it was still awaiting confirmation that the drugs lord had been killed. Read More

The Tobin Tax Explained and How it Could Screw Europe even More

Anti-German protests in Greece

Source

Jim Addlespurger knocked out cold by brutal sucker punch as he walked past group of Black teens

A chilling surveillance video shows the moment a respected high school teacher was knocked out cold by an unprovoked sucker punch after passing a group of teens in an alley.

Jim Addlespurger, who was walking near his school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is seen crumpling to the ground and smashing his head on a curb.

The six teens laugh and celebrate the horrifying attack as they coolly walk away from Mr Addlespurger, 50.

Mr Addlespurger was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for cuts and bruises. He is currently at home healing from his injuries, WTAE-TV reports.

Police have released video of the brazen daylight assault on Thursday afternoon, hoping the public can identity the teens. Read More

Sesame Street tells Obama campaign to take down ad which mocks Romney by showing Big Bird as 'evil genius'



One of the most memorable moments of the first presidential debate was Mitt Romney's declaration, 'I love Big Bird' - despite promising to cut funding to PBS.

Now, in an attempt to salvage something from Barack Obama's disastrous night, the Democrats have exploited the incident for a sarcastic new campaign ad.

The 30-second video, released today, mocks Mr Romney for taking aim at the public broadcaster rather than cracking down on financial fraud.

But Sesame Street has criticised the Obama campaign for exploiting their character and demanded that the ad be cancelled and removed from the internet. Read More

350 million people have depression in world: WHO

More than 350 million people suffer from depression globally, the World Health Organization said, ahead of World Mental Health Day on Wednesday.

"It is not a disease of developed countries, it is a global phenomenon. It's present in both genders and in rich and poor populations," Dr Shekhar Saxena, head of the WHO's mental health and substance abuse department, told reporters in Geneva.

No region is free from the disorder and around five percent of the world's population suffers depression in the course of a year, the health expert said.

Fifty percent more women suffer symptoms than men, said Saxena, who added that post-natal depression affected one in five mothers and one in 10 of all young mothers in the developed world.

According to the UN's global health arm, depression is more than just a bout of the blues, rather a "sustained feeling of sadness for two weeks or more" which interferes with "work, school or home".

At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, the WHO expert said, citing a "very clear correlation".

Nearly one million people take their lives every year and more than half of them have depression, Saxena said, although he noted that it was not the sole cause. more

Scientists discover huge new black hole lurking near the centre of the Milky Way thanks to 'once-in-a-mission' X-ray surge

Scientists have discovered a huge black hole lurking near the centre of our own galaxy thanks to a rare phenomenon which broadcast its presence with a torrent of high-energy X-rays.

Nasa's Swift satellite detected the rising surge of X-rays, produced by a rare X-ray nova, last month and say it is evidence of a black hole that is part of a binary system near the Milky Way's core.

'Bright X-ray novae are so rare that they're essentially once-a-mission events and this is the first one Swift has seen,' said Neil Gehrels, the mission's principal investigator.

'This is really something we've been waiting for.'

An X-ray nova is a short-lived X-ray source that appears suddenly, reaches its emission peak in a few days and then fades out over a period of months.

The outburst arises when a torrent of stored gas suddenly rushes toward one an incredibly dense and compact object, either a neutron star or a black hole. The rapidly brightening source triggered Swift's Burst Alert Telescope twice on the morning of September 16, and once again the next day. Read More

Protestors dress as Nazis, burn swastikas and throw rocks at police as tens of thousands gather in Athens to voice anger at Angela Merkel during Greek visit

Greek police fired teargas and stun grenades at protesters in central Athens on Tuesday when they tried to break through a barrier and reach visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Around 50,000 demonstrators defied a ban on protests, gathering in Syntagma square to voice their displeasure with the German leader. Some wore Nazi uniforms and others burned swastika flags.

Police were pelted with rocks, bottles and sticks as demonstrators tried to break through a barricade set up to protect Merkel and her delegation, who were meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at his office several hundred metres away.

At least 50 protestors were rounded up and roads were closed amid angry scenes, which police described as one of the biggest anti-austerity demonstrations they had seen in months.

Two protesters dressed in German military uniforms waved a red, black and white swastika flag and held out their arms in the Nazi salute. Read More

U.S. and Israel 'considering joint aerial strike' against Iran's nuclear facilities using bombers and drones

America and Israel are considering a joint surgical strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, it was claimed today.


Foreign Policy magazine reported a source 'close to the discussions' and said the strike might compose primarily of bombers and drone support.

The suggested attack is expected to last no more than a few days - or even just 'a couple of hours', the magazine said.

Such a strike could be carried out without civilian casualties, and would set back the Iranian nuclear program by back many years.

Benefits of such a strike would be regional, Foreign Policy says.

The source, said to be in favour of the strike, said the Israel-led assault would be 'transformative' and would end up 'saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the (Persian) Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.'

However the strike would need the support of outside countries, particularly the U.S. - 'whether acting alone or in concert with Israel and others.'

The report added that, with the progress made between Israel and the U.S. administration recently, a strike could help President Barack Obama defuse his opponent's Mitt Romney's criticisms about Iran. Read More

Lake Karachay, Is this the most polluted place on Earth? The Russian lake where an hour on the beach would kill you

If you're looking for a lakeside retreat on a budget, it's likely you could easily pick up a villa near to Russia's beautiful Lake Karachay and still have change left for a new sofa.

But it's probably worth bearing in mind that in 1990 just standing on the shore for an hour would give you a radiation of dose of 600 roentgen.

In case you were wondering, that's more than enough to kill you.

The lake, in Russia's south-west Chelyabinsk region, close to the modern border with Kazakhstan, is located within the Mayak Production Association, one of the country's largest — and leakiest — nuclear facilities.

Built in the Forties as Soviets moved armament production east to avoid the Nazi invasion, Mayak was one of the Russia's most important nuclear weapons factories and was off limits to foreigners for 45 years.

It was only after President Boris Yeltsin signed a 1992 decree opening up the area that Western scientists were able to gain access - and promptly declared it the planet's most polluted area. Read More

Abu Hamza's wife given the boot from her £1m five-bedroom council house (But guess what? She can appeal)

Hate preacher Abu Hamza’s wife has been asked by her local authority to move out of the five-bedroom council house she lives in.

Moroccan-born Najat Mostafa is believed to live at the large Shepherd’s Bush property in west London with only two of the couple's eight children after reportedly moving there in 1995.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council says that in recent weeks it has corresponded with Mrs Mostafa and asked her to move to a 'more appropriate property'.

But the radical cleric's Hamza’s second wife is entitled to refuse the council’s request, as there is no time limit on her tenancy agreement.

News of the council’s request comes after Mrs Mostafa’s husband was extradited to the US on Friday after years of legal wrangling to face terrorism charges. Read More

Massive Protests Greet German Prime Minister Merkel To Greece

Wall Street falls, led by declines in technology

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks declined on Tuesday, led by losses in technology after brokerage downgrades of Intel (INTC.O) and other major companies amid worries about third-quarter U.S. earnings.

Earnings reports for S&P 500 companies, which begin later on Tuesday, may show the first quarterly drop in three years, according to analysts' estimates.

Shares of Intel, the world's largest semiconductor maker, fell 2.6 percent at $21.92 after negative reports by at least two brokerages, including Robert W. Baird & Co, which cut its price target for Intel citing weak demand for notebooks.

The PHLX semiconductor index .SOX lost 1.7 percent.

Apple shares fell 1.8 percent to $626.80 and were the biggest drag on the Nasdaq, while shares of Netflix (NFLX.O) dropped 8.8 percent to $67.03 after Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut the stock's rating. Read More

Abu Hamza Pleads Not Guilty In US

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza, who was recently extradited from Britain, has pleaded not guilty to terror charges in the US.

More follows...

US sources: US, Israel plan October Surprise, Others: Israel can do it alone

Four facts deserve attention with regard to a potential attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The first is that the Iranian-Israeli war is already at hand. Iran launched it by sending an unmanned drone into Israeli air space Saturday, Oct. 6, breaking new ground in belligerence with a cyber attack.

Israel countered by stationing Patriot missile interceptor batteries in Haifa and other parts of its northern region.

That Tehran initiated hostilities with a cyber attack on Israel cannot be wiped from the record any more than its score: two points, Iran; zero, Israel, whose air defenses proved no match against a large, slow-moving and cumbersome aerial vehicle loaded with electronic equipment.

As many experts have pointed out, Patriots are not designed for intercepting aircraft, only missiles. Their deployment therefore aims at defending the country from potential Iranian or Hizballah missile strikes from Lebanon or Syria - depending partly on the state of the Syrian war.

And indeed, Hamas and Jihad Islami spokesmen, when they assumed shared responsibility for the 55 Palestinian missiles and mortars fired against Israel Monday morning, Oct. 8, said quite openly that the rules of Gaza warfare had changed: IDF attacks on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, however limited in scope, would draw forth reprisals not only from that Palestinian-ruled territory but from Lebanon, they said. more

Unmask the OTHER BBC child abusers: Police reveal shocking scale of Savile abuse as they launch hunt for his accomplices

Celebrities and former BBC staff face arrest for alleged sex offences after Scotland Yard dramatically widened its inquiry into Sir Jimmy Savile yesterday.

As officers revealed the staggering scale of allegations against the late TV entertainer, they made it clear that they will pursue individuals who conspired with Savile or participated in abuse.

Savile, who died last year aged 84, was yesterday accused by police of carrying out four decades of sickening offences on a ‘national scale’.

The Yard has already received a ‘range of names’ among 120 potential leads and will take action if victims provide statements supporting claims of rape or sexual abuse by those close to Savile.

It has contacted the BBC and ITV, which are handing over details of victims who are willing to co-operate.

As the astonishing breadth of the Savile sex scandal became clear, the BBC was facing its biggest crisis in years with renewed questions over why it failed to act on a damning but never broadcast Newsnight film on Savile’s crimes nearly a year ago.

It also emerged yesterday that:

  •  Police have already identified at least 30 victims of Savile who was at his offending peak at the height of his fame during the 1970s and 1980s
  • Savile targeted boys as well as girls – who were mainly aged between 13 and 16
  • The first known complaint dates from 1959 when the star was 33 and at the start of his showbusiness career - Read More

Shell explosions in Central Russia leave mushroom cloud-like plume of smoke

NATO: Military plans ready to defend Turkey if shelling continues along Syrian Border

BEIRUT—NATO is ready to defend alliance member Turkey amid artillery and mortar exchanges with Syria, its top official said Tuesday, as Ankara sent additional fighter jets to reinforce an air base close to the Syria border where tensions have escalated dramatically over the past week.

Turkey and Syria have exchanged fire across their common border since errant Syrian shells killed five Turkish civilians last week, sparking fears of a wider regional crisis.

The comments by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were the strongest show of support to Ankara since the firing began Wednesday — though the solidarity is largely symbolic. Turkey has sought NATO backing but not direct intervention and the alliance is thought to be reluctant to get involved military at a time when its main priority is the war in Afghanistan.

Ahead of a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, Fogh Rasmussen backed Turkey’s right to defend itself.

“Obviously Turkey can rely on NATO solidarity,” he added. “We have all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary.” Read More

Iraq buys $4.2 billion in Russian weapons-document

(Reuters) - Russia announced on Tuesday it has signed $4.2 billion in arms deals with Iraq, making it the largest weapons supplier to the Middle East country after the United States.

The deals, disclosed in a Russian government document issued at a meeting between Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, give Russia a big boost at a time when the future of its arms sales to Libya and Syria is uncertain.

Iraq had been all but off limits for Russia's defense industry after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 which ousted Saddam Hussein, one of Moscow's biggest weapons customers.

President Vladimir Putin had vocally opposed the invasion and Moscow has struggled to claw back a share of the markets in energy, arms sales and infrastructure projects in Iraq.

"After the fall of Saddam Hussein, it looked like the country was lost forever" as a Russian arms customer, said Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Russian security and defense think tank CAST. "This is absolutely sensational." Read More

Syria rebels bomb Air Force Intelligence complex

Rebels have carried out a suicide bomb attack overnight on an intelligence agency compound in a suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus, reports say.

The al-Nusra Front, a jihadist militant group, said explosives-filled vehicles had been blown up outside the Air Force Intelligence complex in Harasta.

Residents said there were several huge blasts, followed by fierce clashes.

One activist group said dozens of people were killed and expressed fears for the fate of the agency's prisoners.

Human rights activists say hundreds of opponents of President Bashar al-Assad have been detained and tortured by Air Force Intelligence (AFI) across the country since the uprising began in March 2011. Read More

Syria clashes intensify near Turkey border

(Reuters) - NATO said on Tuesday it had drawn up plans to defend Turkey if necessary against any further spillover of violence from Syria's border areas where rebels and government forces are fighting for control.

Rebel suicide bombers struck at President Bashar al-Assad's heartland, attacking an Air Force Intelligence compound on the edge of Damascus, insurgents said. Activists living nearby said the bombing caused at least 100 casualties among security personnel, based on the ambulances that rushed to the scene.

"Assad...is only able to stand up with crutches," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, once a close ally of Assad, told a meeting of his ruling AK Party.

"He will be finished when the crutches fall away." Read More

Eleven euro zone countries agreed on Tuesday to press ahead with a disputed tax on financial transactions Despite it being strongly opposed by the SIXTEEN remaining European Countries....What will they Rule on Next without the backing of the 27-nation bloc?

(Reuters) - Eleven euro zone countries agreed on Tuesday to press ahead with a disputed tax on financial transactions designed to help pay for the cost of fixing a crisis that has rocked the single currency area.


The initiative, pushed hard by Germany and France but strongly opposed by Britain, Sweden and other free-marketers, gained critical mass at a European Union finance ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, when more than the required nine states agreed to use a treaty provision to launch the tax.

The so-called "Tobin tax", first proposed by Nobel-prize winning U.S. economist James Tobin in the 1972 as a way of reducing financial market volatility, has become a political symbol of a widespread desire to make banks, hedge funds and high-frequency traders pay a price for the crisis.

"This is a small step for 11 countries but a giant leap for Europe," Austria Deputy Finance Minister Andreas Schieder said. "The way is now clear for a just contribution from the banking and financial sector for financing the burdens of the crisis."

The agreement raised the prospect of a pioneer group of European states for the first time launching a joint tax without the unanimous backing of the 27-nation bloc, a move that may fragment the single market for financial services. Read More

Jerry Sandusky Jailed For At Least 30 Years

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing youngsters.

(Reuters) - Serial child molester Jerry Sandusky, a former Pennsylvania State University football coach, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison on Tuesday.

The sentence by Judge John Cleland in Centre County Court could put the 68-year-old retired defensive coordinator in prison for the rest of his life.

Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse for molesting 10 boys over 15 years, some in the football team's showers on campus.

On the eve of his sentencing, Sandusky released a taped statement on Penn State's student radio station in which he denied he committed the "alleged disgusting acts" and said his wife has been his only sex partner. Source

Brain-Eating Amoeba Leaves 10 Dead In Pakistan

At least 10 people have died after being infected by a brain-eating amoeba in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Naegleria fowleri has a fatality rate of more than 98%, according to the World Health Organisation.

It is transmitted when contaminated water enters the body through the nose and cannot be passed person-to-person.

The 10 confirmed cases have all occurred since May in the southern port city, said Dr Musa Khan, head of the WHO's Disease Early Warning System in Pakistan.

The amoeba travels from the nasal membranes to the brain. Symptoms are initially very mild, including a headache, stiff neck, fever and stomach pain. Death usually occurs five to seven days after infection.

Authorities are planning a campaign to raise awareness among health workers and the public, Dr Khan said, with most health centres having already been alerted.

"People should avoid getting water too deep into their nostrils and make sure their water supply is properly treated," he said.

"Those with symptoms should seek help immediately." Read More

Jimmy Savile: Complaints Of Abuse Since 1959.....Why was nothing Done to protect these children?

Scotland Yard say they received formal complaints of alleged sexual abuse by television presenter Jimmy Savile stretching back four decades.

More follows...

Merkel Welcome to Greece

(Reuters) - Greek police fired teargas and stun grenades at protesters in central Athens on Tuesday when they tried to break through a barrier and reach visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Read More