Tuesday, December 18, 2012

India: 13 killed in roof crash at hospital under construction

Thirteen labourers were killed after a 1,200 sq.ft. roof-like structure of an under-construction hospital building collapsed at Kesnand, near Wagholi, off the Pune-Ahmednagar highway on Tuesday afternoon. The police and fire-brigade retrieved all 13 bodies from the debris by evening.

Fifteen labourers were working on the RCC structure, which was being constructed atop the fourth floor of the building, when it came crashing down around 2.30 pm. Other construction workers called the police and the fire-brigade.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/13-killed-in-roof-crash-at-hospital-under-construction/articleshow/17672643.cms

Container ship blamed for oil spill in Aruba

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) A container ship that brings essential products to Aruba on a regular basis was blamed Tuesday for an oil spill in the Dutch Caribbean island, according to authorities.

Ports Director Alfonso Boekhoudt said the spill occurred when crews tried to empty the ship's ballast tank, which was filled with oil instead of water. Authorities don't know how much oil was spilled, but Boekhoudt said cleanup crews prevented the oil from reaching nearby beaches.

He said two cruise ships and other boats were affected by the spill that occurred in the island's main harbor.

http://www2.wnct.com/news/2012/dec/18/container-ship-blamed-for-oil-spill-in-aruba-ar-2868808/

Thousands of ducks in Indonesia's Kediri die from H5N1 virus: official

A senior official overseeing animal husbandry in Indonesia's East Java province confirmed Tuesday that the cause of the recent deaths of 11,000 ducks in the Kediri regency was avian influenza.

The confirmation came up after the regency administration received results of examinations on bio molecular samples of the ducks taken last month. "We knew the results after received results of examinations conducted by a laboratory in Malang, East Java. Results from the other examination conducted by a laboratory in Yogyakarta had not been released,"said Sri Suparmi, head of Kediri regency animal husbandry supervisory body.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-12/18/c_132048285.htm

Flood Threat In Run-Up To Christmas

Forecasters have warned people to expect up to seven days of unsettled conditions as a series of wet weather systems engulf the UK.

And pockets of England have been told to prepare for yet more flooding after the Environment Agency issued another round of warnings.

Parts of England and Wales were brought to their knees last month when flood water surged through streets and down roads, cutting off whole communities and forcing dozens to flee their homes.

http://news.sky.com/story/1027269/weather-flood-threat-in-run-up-to-christmas

Guns: Some Sober Thoughts

US Benghazi Report Slams 'Inadequate' Security, but blamed entirely on terrorists

An inquiry into the deadly September 11 attack in Libya that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans has described security arrangements as "grossly inadequate".

The independent panel blamed systematic management and leadership failures at the State Department for the attack on the mission in Benghazi.

The report singled out the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs for criticism.

http://news.sky.com/story/1027330/us-benghazi-report-slams-inadequate-security

Plebgate: CCTV Casts Doubt On Police Account

Andrew Mitchell has gone on the attack over the row with police at the gates of Downing Street that led to his resignation as Chief Whip after new CCTV of the altercation emerged.

In the footage, which was obtained by Channel 4, the MP can be seen with his bicycle talking to three officers by the main gate for around 20 seconds.

He then wheels it over to a side gate and exits through it.

http://news.sky.com/story/1027265/plebgate-cctv-casts-doubt-on-police-account

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN COLOMBIA - 19th December 2012

Magnitude
4.4
Date-Time
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 00:23:29 UTC
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 07:23:29 PM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
6.833°N, 73.026°W
Depth
155.3 km (96.5 miles)
Region
NORTHERN COLOMBIA
Distances
15 km (9 miles) N of Aratoca, Colombia

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
4.8
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 23:56:55 UTC
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:56:55 AM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
17.933°S, 168.442°E
Depth
131.3 km (81.6 miles)
Region
VANUATU
Distances
25 km (15 miles) SSE of Port-Vila, Vanuatu

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR SOUTH COAST OF NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
4.9
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 22:54:09 UTC
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 08:54:09 AM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
7.250°S, 144.061°E
Depth
33.5 km (20.8 miles)
Region
NEAR SOUTH COAST OF NEW GUINEA, P.N.G.
Distances
107 km (66 miles) S of Ialibu, Papua New Guinea

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
4.3
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 19:57:11 UTC
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:57:11 AM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
52.374°N, 132.142°W
Depth
17.3 km (10.8 miles)
Region
QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION
Distances
183 km (113 miles) S of Masset, Canada

Fear of being "committed" may have caused Connecticut madman, Adam Lanza, to snap

The gunman who slaughtered 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school may have snapped because his mother was planning to commit him to a psychiatric facility, according to a lifelong resident of the area who was familiar with the killer’s family and several of the victims’ families.

Adam Lanza, 20, targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown after killing his mother early Friday because he believed she loved the school “more than she loved him,” said Joshua Flashman, 25, who grew up not far from where the shooting took place. Flashman, a U.S. Marine, is the son of a pastor at an area church where many of the victims' families worship.

“From what I've been told, Adam was aware of her petitioning the court for conservatorship and (her) plans to have him committed," Flashman told FoxNews.com. "Adam was apparently very upset about this. He thought she just wanted to send him away. From what I understand, he was really, really angry. I think this could have been it, what set him off.”

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/18/fear-being-committed-may-have-caused-connecticut-madman-to-snap/

Matt's confusion:
So, is Adam an autistic, psychotic, medicated, full-of-hatred-and-evil murderer incapable of rational thought and worthy of being committed, or a brilliant marksman and thorough strategist who destroys all prior evidence and can operate weapons flawlessly? It seems he's one thing when it's convenient to demonize him, and another when it's necessary to explain how this precision, almost mind-boggling attack was carried out.

China makes 500 doomsday cult arrests

Chinese police have arrested more than 500 members of a doomsday cult for spreading rumours about the imminent end of the world, state media say.

At least 400 followers of the Almighty God Christian group were detained in western Qinghai province in recent days. Dozens more were held elsewhere.

In Henan province, six officials have been sacked after a knife attack by a suspected doomsday cult disciple wounded more than 20 children.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20775882

Plebgate: Officer 'Made Up' Mitchell Claims

The scandal that engulfed Andrew Mitchell was allegedly sparked by a police officer who falsely claimed to have witnessed the row.

The officer allegedly wrote to his local MP giving details of Mr Mitchell's behaviour when he was blocked from exiting through the main gates in Downing Street on his bicycle.

Number 10 said the claims - which emerged after a member of the diplomatic protection squad was arrested - were "extremely serious".

http://news.sky.com/story/1027265/plebgate-officer-made-up-mitchell-claims

Settlements Snarl: 'Israel gambles on US protection from intl law'

American adoption in Russia: To ban or not to ban?

Next door 'democracies' more dangerous for Israel than deposed dictatorships?

Pakistan ranked 7 in list of 178 most heavily armed countries

A mudslide derailed a freight train just south of Everett, Washington

Despite bank accord, Europe plagued by uncertainty

Protest held in Madrid in support of public health system

Under EU tax pressure, Swiss get creative

"Happy Taxation" is a 2011 book by Pascal Broulis, finance minister of the Swiss canton of Vaud and celebrant of the low taxes that distinguish Switzerland. But as times get tougher, discontent about Swiss tax breaks is mounting.

Cash-strapped foreign governments have already chipped away at the secrecy that allows rich individuals to store tax-free funds in Swiss bank accounts. Now Europe's governments have turned the spotlight on the incentives Switzerland offers companies.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-tax-swiss-europe-idUSBRE8BH0J020121218

Israel presses on with plan for 6,000 new settler homes

Israeli officials said they would press on with plans this week to build 6,000 homes for settlers on land claimed by Palestinians, defying criticism from Western powers who fear the move will damage already faint hopes for a peace accord.

Stung by de facto recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in a U.N. General Assembly vote last month, Israel announced it would expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-palestinians-israel-settlements-idUSBRE8BH14020121218

triple-murder suicide in Colorado: Desperate 911 call captures victim's last moments as four people die in ANOTHER gun rampage

A triple-murder suicide in Colorado this morning has left four dead just moments after one of the victims was heard desperately calling police before apparently shot to death on the phone.

Weld County sheriff's spokesman Tim Schwartz says dispatchers heard the woman's final cries of 'No, no, no,' before multiple gunshots were fired.

Schwartz says a man then grabbed the phone and said he was going to kill himself before dispatchers heard another shot.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2250116/Colorado-triple-murder-suicide-911-captures-victims-final-moment-dead-suburban-Denver.html

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
5.0
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 18:36:23 UTC
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 03:36:23 AM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
36.757°N, 141.998°E
Depth
25.7 km (16.0 miles)
Region
NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
Distances
104 km (64 miles) ESE of Iwaki, Japan

Great Ormond Street Hospital Thief: Police desperate to find stolen presents before Christmas



Anyone with information is asked to call 101 and ask for the CID office at Holborn. If you wish to remain anonymous then please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

World's biggest firework... and it's about to explode: Giant pile of illegal firecrackers to be destroyed in China

Officials in China have lit the touchpaper to what could qualify as the world's biggest firework.

Thousands of illegal firecrackers and fireworks were destroyed after inspectors discovered them in Weining, in the Guizhou Province of China.

In total 796 boxes of the explosives were destroyed after the illegal activity was uncovered.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2250053/Worlds-biggest-firework--explode-Giant-pile-illegal-firecrackers-destroyed-China.html

Two-thirds of Germans believe immigrants are an 'extra burden' which have caused 'serious problems' for the country

Two in three Germans believe immigrants have caused 'serious' problems for the country's social services and schools.

The poll - commissioned by the respected Bertelsmann Foundation think tank - shows two thirds of people say immigrants are an 'extra burden' on the country's social services system.

Two thirds of people quizzed in the survey also believe that incomers are a source of conflict with 'native' Germans and cause problems.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2250007/Two-thirds-Germans-believe-immigrants-extra-burden-caused-problems-country.html

Russian makes a pot of boiling water disappear... by chucking it from his balcony (at -41C)

Olympics shambles firm G4S set to win £150m child benefit call centre contract after MPs' calls to blacklist it are ignored

Bungling Olympic security firm G4S is set to be offered another gold-plated Government contract despite its failure to provide enough staff for London 2012.

The company, which MPs want blacklisted from taxpayer-funded deals because the Army had to rescue it this summer, has now been shortlisted to help in several call centres.

G4S has been picked by the Department for Work and Pensions above 16 other firms and now looks likely to help advise the public on benefits.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249980/London-2012-shambles-firm-G4S-set-awarded-150m-Government-contract.html

Facebook claims it owns the rights to ALL your Instagram pictures and can do what it wants to make money out of them

Instagram has claimed the right use any picture uploaded to the service to promote its corporate customers' products without any compensation to the user who originally took it.

The photo-sharing app, recently bought out by Facebook, has adopted several sections from its new parent's terms of service which reveal how it is to operate in the future.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2249952/Users-Instagrams-product-Privacy-row-photo-sharing-app-claims-right-users-pictures-adverts.html

Man Attempts to Open Fire on Crowd at Movie Theater, Armed Off-Duty Sheriff’s Deputy Drops Him With One Bullet

With one shot, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy took down a gunman who attempted to opened fire at a crowded movie theater lobby during a late night showing of “The Hobbit” in San Antonio, WOAI reports.

Police say a gunman, identified as Jesus Manuel Garcia, chased patrons from the nearby China Garden Restaurant into the lobby of the Santikos Mayan 14 movie theater at around 9 p.m. on Sunday. Garcia, an employee of the restaurant, reportedly walked in the establishment looking for a woman.

When the woman, also reportedly a restaurant employee, wasn’t there, Garcia pulled out a gun and attempted to open fire in the restaurant but his weapon jammed.

“It started at the restaurant and then went into the parking lot and then into the movie theater,” Deputy Lou Antu told 1200 WOAI news.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/man-attempts-to-open-fire-on-crowd-at-movie-theater-armed-off-duty-sheriffs-deputy-drops-him-with-one-bullet/

Conclusion:
See the difference the right to bear arms makes?

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake SULAWESI, INDONESIA - 18th December 2012

Magnitude M 4.6
Region SULAWESI, INDONESIA
Date time 2012-12-18 16:39:26.4 UTC
Location 1.44 S ; 119.63 E
Depth 10 km
Distances 64 km S Palu, Indonesia

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEW IRELAND REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 18th December 2012

Magnitude M 4.5
Region NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G.
Date time 2012-12-18 16:00:25.6 UTC
Location 3.91 S ; 151.48 E
Depth 10 km
Distances 82 km NW Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Facebook Suspends Account For Questioning Official Narrative on Sandy Hook Shooting


Facebook is suspending user accounts that question the official narrative behind the Sandy Hook school massacre, following a warning by Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance that “misinformation” posted on social media sites could result in prosecution.

An image posted in the aftermath of the shootings that questioned whether “a clumsy 20-year-old autistic kid” could have pulled off the murders of 26 people was deleted and the user’s account hit with a three day suspension.

“I was informed the reason for this punishment was the result of a meme I had shared,” writes the editor of SecretsOfTheFed.com. “Facebook told me it “…violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”. I was further warned that “If you continue to abuse Facebook’s features, your account could be permanently disabled.”

http://www.infowars.com/facebook-suspends-account-for-questioning-official-narrative-on-shooting/

Netanyahu Says Israel Will Continue Building in East Jerusalem

Israel will continue building in east Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following White House criticism of construction plans for an additional 1,500 homes on land claimed by Palestinians.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel and we will continue to build there,” Netanyahu said today in Acco, Israel, in remarks sent from his office by text message.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-18/netanyahu-says-israel-will-continue-building-in-east-jerusalem.html

Russia eyes Syria evacuation as rebels take Damascus district

Russia sent warships to the Mediterranean to prepare a potential evacuation of its citizens from Syria, a Russian news agency said on Tuesday, a sign President Bashar al-Assad's key ally is worried about rebel advances now threatening even the capital.

Moscow acted a day after insurgents waging a 21-month-old uprising obtained a possible springboard for a thrust into Damascus by seizing the Yarmouk Palestinian camp, an urban zone just 2 miles from the heart of the city, activists said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20121218

Egypt prosecutor's resignation angers Brotherhood

Egypt's public prosecutor resigned under pressure from his opponents in the judiciary, dealing a blow to President Mohamed Mursi and drawing an angry response on Tuesday from the Islamist leader's supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Seeking to keep pressure on Mursi, the main opposition coalition will hold new protests against an Islamist-backed draft constitution that has divided Egypt but which looks set to be approved in the second round of a referendum on Saturday.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-egypt-politics-idUSBRE8BH0LY20121218

Israel sees new US poise, including military, to curb Iran

U.S.-led efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program have resumed since President Barack Obama's re-election and include preparation for possible military action, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday.

The remarks by Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon suggested cautious optimism at prospects for an international resolution to the decade-old standoff with Tehran, though Israel says it remains ready to attack its arch-foe alone as a last resort.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-iran-nuclear-israel-idUSBRE8BH0BC20121218

White House rejects Boehner's "Plan B" on fiscal cliff, says it doesn't ask enough of wealthiest Americans on taxes


The Unequal State of America: Redistributing up

In the town that launched the War on Poverty 48 years ago, the poor are getting poorer despite the government's help. And the rich are getting richer because of it.

The top 5 percent of households in Washington, D.C., made more than $500,000 on average last year, while the bottom 20 percent earned less than $9,500 - a ratio of 54 to 1.

That gap is up from 39 to 1 two decades ago. It's wider than in any of the 50 states and all but two major cities. This at a time when income inequality in the United States as a whole has risen to levels last seen in the years before the Great Depression.

http://www.reuters.com/subjects/income-inequality/washington

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN XIZANG - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
4.0
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 14:26:09 UTC
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:26:09 PM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
33.130°N, 84.404°E
Depth
10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
Region
WESTERN XIZANG
Distances
97 km (60 miles) N of Luring, China

Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos

Instagram said today that it has the perpetual right to sell users' photographs without payment or notification, a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry.

The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57559710-38/instagram-says-it-now-has-the-right-to-sell-your-photos/

Russia sends second navy squadron to Mediterranean and Syrian coast

A Russian navy squadron has set off for the Mediterranean amid official talk about a possible evacuation of Russians from Syria.

The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that the ships will rotate with those that have been in the area since November. Russian diplomats said last week that Moscow is preparing plans to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria if necessary. The ministry did not say whether the navy ships are intended for an evacuation.

The Interfax news agency, citing unidentified naval sources, reported that the navy command wants the ships to be on hand for the task if needed. It said the mission's duration will depend on the situation in Syria.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_RUSSIA_SYRIA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2012-12-18-07-54-28

Adam Lanza and a picture worth 1000 words


Surveillance drones in America

Egypt opposition to protest against "invalid" constitution

Egypt's opposition will hold new protests on Tuesday against an Islamist-backed draft constitution that has divided the nation but which looks set to be approved in the second round of a referendum next weekend.

Islamist President Mohamed Mursi obtained a 57 percent "yes" vote for the constitution in a first round of the referendum on Saturday, state media said, less than he had hoped for.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-egypt-politics-idUSBRE8BH0LY20121218

Fiji: Cyclone Evan Leaves Trail Of Destruction

Tropical Cyclone Evan has left a swathe of destruction across Fiji, destroying homes, flooding rivers and stranding thousands of tourists.

The storm hammered the Pacific nation for more than 12 hours.

But, despite the damage, officials reported no fatalities as the storm headed out to sea on Tuesday morning and was downgraded a notch to category three.

http://news.sky.com/story/1026966/fiji-cyclone-evan-leaves-trail-of-destruction

Norovirus: New Warning

Almost 880,000 people could have been affected by an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug, according to health officials.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) says the number of confirmed cases of norovirus is 83% higher than the same time last year,

So far this season, there have been 3,046 cases in England and Wales, compared to just 1,669 cases last season.

http://news.sky.com/story/1027058/norovirus-new-warning-about-vomiting-bug

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake MYANMAR - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
4.6
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:51:58 UTC
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 06:21:58 PM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
25.354°N, 96.578°E
Depth
39.6 km (24.6 miles)
Region
MYANMAR
Distances
82 km (50 miles) W of Myitkyina, Myanmar

Mayan mania: end of times or new era?

Bomb attack kills at least 17 at Pakistan market

UN briefs Council on humanitarian issues in Syria

Two NASA spacecraft crash land the Moon

Corporation Nation

Most Americans know corporations run the nation and long ago ceased to be good citizens. U.S. Corporations have endorsed a sociopathic stance of short term profits as their objective exclusive to all others. Profits above people is now the norm. Dr. Ralph Gomory, who contributes to this site and Dr. Richard Sylla have dismantled the U.S. corporation and even put it back together again in an essay published by American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The essay gives a historical narrative of the U.S. corporation, touching upon major historical events which shaped these business entities into the conglomerates we know today. The authors also propose solutions and describe options to channel business behavior to be more in concert with America. We need to structurally redefine and realign the U.S. Corporation.

Excerpted below is the abstract of their paper, Stewarding America: The Corporation.
The United States from its earliest years led the world in making the corporate form of business organization widely available to entrepreneurs. Starting in the 1790s corporations became key institutions of the American economy, contributing greatly to its remarkable growth.

http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/corporation-nation

What Fed Exit?


A decision by the Federal Reserve to expand its bond buying next week is likely to prompt policy makers to rewrite their 18-month-old blueprint for an exit from record monetary stimulus.

Under the exit strategy, the Fed would start selling bonds in mid-2015 in a bid to return its holdings to pre-crisis proportions in two to three years. An accelerated buildup of assets would also mean a faster pace of sales when the time comes to exit -- increasing the risk that a jump in interest rates would crush the economic recovery.
...

The bigger the balance sheet, “the riskier the exit becomes,” Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said during a Nov. 20 speech in New York. “That is something we need to think carefully about.”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-12-08/what-fed-exit#comments

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
4.5
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:49:41 UTC
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 05:49:41 PM at epicenter
Location
9.072°S, 111.358°E
Depth
13.2 km (8.2 miles)
Region
SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA
Distances
176 km (110 miles) SE (143°) from Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

International war crimes court acquits Congolese warlord

The International Criminal Court acquitted Congolese warlord Ngudjolo Chui of all charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on Tuesday.

Ngudjolo had been accused by prosecutors of directing militias to kill, pillage and rape during a conflict in the northeastern Ituri province of Congo in 2003.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-icc-congo-ngudjolo-idUSBRE8BH0AG20121218

Richard Engel: Kidnapped NBC journalist freed after firefight in Syria

Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for the US network NBC and members of his team, have been freed unharmed from their Syrian captors after a firefight. They had been held for five days.

The group disappeared shortly after crossing into north west Syria from Turkey last Thursday (13 December). NBC had no contact with the kidnappers and asked for a news blackout about the incident, which was observed by mainstream news outlets.

There was no request for a ransom during the time Engel and his crew were missing.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2012/dec/18/journalist-safety-syria

Syria: after Assad falls, what then?

It was not the supposed imminent collapse of the Syrian regime that dominated the recent meeting of the Friends of Syria in Marrakech but the thorny subject of al-Nusra, one of the armed resistance groups operating in the country, which the US has just classified as a "foreign terrorist organisation". The chairman of the Syrian National Coalition called for the US to reconsider its decision; the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamad Tayfur condemned it as wrong and hastily made. Many other statements of support for al-Nusra followed, most notably from non-Islamist members of the coalition.

It is no secret that the entry of the armed opposition into the city of Aleppo was co-ordinated by al-Nusra and the al-Tawhid brigade, part of the Syrian Free Army, and that al-Nusra remains an effective fighting force. But who are they? Though the al-Tawhid brigade is Islamist, its members are exclusively Syrian. Al-Nusra's fighters, on the other hand, are mainly foreign, and its emir (leader) is appointed from outside Syria. What, then, accounts for the support by so many of those attending the Friends of Syria conference for an organisation the US believes to be an al-Qaida front?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/18/after-assad-falls-what-then

Iran defiant on enrichment ahead of possible nuclear talks

Iran will not stop higher-grade enrichment of uranium in response to external demands, Tehran's top nuclear official was quoted as saying on Tuesday, signaling a tough bargaining stance ahead of planned new talks with world powers.

Western powers want Iran to halt enrichment of uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent as it represents a significant step closer to the level that would be required to make nuclear bombs. Iran says it needs uranium refined to 20 percent to run its medical research reactor in Tehran.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-iran-nuclear-idUSBRE8BG0DK20121218

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
4.6
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:26:02 UTC
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 07:26:02 PM at epicenter
Location
38.637°N, 140.006°E
Depth
77.2 km (48.0 miles)
Region
EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN
Distances
88 km (54 miles) WNW (300°) from Sendai, Honshu, Japan

Comet Probe 'Understandable'

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has launched an investigation into the purchase and administration of troubled electrical chain Comet.

The Insolvency Service has been tasked with scrutinising the process following a number of complaints from MPs.

The business was bought for £2 by Hailey Acquisitions, an investment vehicle put together by Henry Jackson of OpCapita, in November 2011.

http://news.sky.com/story/1026872/investigation-launched-into-comet-collapse

Great Ormond Street Christmas Gifts Stolen

Christmas presents destined for sick children at the intensive care unit of Great Ormond Street hospital have been stolen.

Police were called to the hospital in London on Monday after a report that up to 20 wrapped gifts were taken.

The presents, which had been bought from the hospital's charity fund, included portable DVD players, DVDs, Nintendo DS games consoles, games and toys.

http://news.sky.com/story/1026863/great-ormond-street-christmas-gifts-stolen

President Of Iraq Jalal Talabani In Hospital After Stroke

raqi President Jalal Talabani is taken to hospital in Baghdad after having a stroke, an official says.

Doctors are attempting to stablise Mr Talabani's condition but he may be flown to another country for emergency treatment, said Prime Minister's spokesman Ali al-Moussawi.

http://news.sky.com/story/1026932/president-of-iraq-in-hospital-after-stroke

Tornado reported, not confirmed, in Laurel Bay

A tornado touched down and damaged a home Monday in the Laurel Bay military housing community in northern Beaufort, the community's management agency reported on Facebook.

Meteorologist Pete Mohlin with the National Weather Service in Charleston said neither his agency nor the Beaufort County Emergency Management Agency had any reported nor confirmed tornadoes in the area Monday night.

Strong winds with some damage were reported, he said. Any tornado damage would need to be confirmed by a site visit by a certified inspector.

http://www.islandpacket.com/2012/12/17/2315179/tornado-reported-not-confirmed.html

Azerbaijan nabs Iranian agents setting trap for Israel-made drone

Last week, the Azerbaijani police rounded up six Iranian agents who had infiltrated the country and were looking for the air bases where their government housed the drones purchased from Israel. The spies were found in possession of cash, fake passports, automatic pistols, advanced electronic equipment for tracking aircraft and electronic warfare devices for jamming flying vehicles and down them.

http://www.debka.com/article/22620/Azerbaijan-nabs-Iranian-agents-setting-trap-for-Israel-made-drone

Outcry over guns

Pakistan gunmen shoot five workers from anti-polio campaign

Gunmen shot five health workers on an anti-polio drive in a string of attacks in Pakistan on Tuesday, officials said, raising fears for the safety of workers immunizing children against the crippling disease.

It was not clear who was behind the shootings but Taliban insurgents have repeatedly denounced the anti-polio campaign as a Western plot.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-pakistan-polio-idUSBRE8BH0AV20121218

Russia sends warships to Mediterranean in case Russians need to be evacuated from Syria: Interfax


Ragged Revolution: Post-Arab Spring anger mounts 2 years on

Central Bankers: Advanced Breed of Monkeys

US Boots in Bulgaria? 'Foreign troops threat to sovereignty, benefit elites only'

Insults shouted at Tunisia leader on revolt anniversary

Tunisian economy at risk with the EU privileged partner status

New protests held against use of CCTVs in US

Another school shooting, another debate on gun laws

Ferocious cyclone hits Fiji

AP Sources: Progress Towards Fiscal Cliff Deal

Sandy Hook Shootings: Protest At Gun Lobby HQ

rotesters have marched on the headquarters of the US gun lobby as the clamour for tighter firearm controls grows in the wake of the Newtown school massacre.

As the first two funerals for young victims of the Sandy Hook shooting took place, 75 activists descended on the Washington DC headquarters of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA).

The protesters chanted: "Shame on the NRA," and demanded the organisation drop its hardline stance and make way for new gun control laws.

http://news.sky.com/story/1026818/sandy-hook-shootings-protest-at-gun-lobby-hq

Bird flu kills 4-year-old boy in Indonesia

A 4-year-old Indonesian boy has died from bird flu, bringing the death toll to 160 in the country hardest-hit by the deadly virus, a health official said Tuesday.

While the H5N1 bird flu virus has killed relatively few people, scientists have been closely monitoring it for its potential to mutate and affect humans worldwide.

The boy died Dec. 6 in Tangerang city, just west of Jakarta, the capital, said Health Ministry official Rita Kusriastuti. He developed symptoms of a cold and fever on Nov. 30 and was treated at a public health center before being hospitalized the same day he died.

http://news.yahoo.com/bird-flu-kills-4-old-boy-indonesia-040712179.html

Scientists explain why twin Nasa spacecraft were deliberately crashed into the moon

Expandable toy recalled due to ingestion risk, group says

A toy that absorbs water and can expand to 400 times its original size has been voluntarily recalled after a report that a baby ingested one and needed surgery to remove it, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Monday.

The CPSC said the marble-size toy can be swallowed, and once inside the stomach, it can expand and cause blockage in the small intestine. The toys do not show up on an x-ray and require surgery to be removed, according to the commission.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/17/us/toy-recall/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

Egypt's prosecutor general quits

Egypt's prosecutor general, appointed to the job just last month by President Mohamed Morsy, gave into demands of lower prosecutors by agreeing to resign next week.

The protesters converged on the prosecuting general's office at the High Court Sunday, refusing to leave until Talaat Abdallah resigned.

The siege by the prosecutors ended Monday when Abdallah signed a resignation letter that was then read to reporters. The letter will be delivered to Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council on December 23, the prosecutor's office said.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/17/world/meast/egypt-prosecutor-general-resigns/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

Bangladesh: Factory fire was sabotage

Last month's deadly fire at a clothing factory on the outskirts of Bangladesh's capital was an "act of sabotage," a government committee of inquiry said Monday.

The panel also said the owner of the factory should be held responsible for gross negligence of safety and should face trial for the lack of safety measures that led to 112 deaths.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/17/world/asia/bangladesh-factory-fire/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

By 2018 computers 'will have 5 senses'

Some day soon, you'll be able to order a wedding dress on your tablet and feel the fabric and the veil just by touching the screen.

When you feel an object, your brain registers the series of vibrations on your skin as being smooth, rough, sharp, etc. Computer sensors are becoming sophisticated enough to do that too.

Within the next five years, vibrators within smartphones will be precise enough that they could be designed to mimic the vibrations experienced when your fingers touch a particular surface. Even though you'll just be touching glass, it will feel like you're touching whatever object is displayed on the screen.

http://money.cnn.com/gallery/technology/innovation/2012/12/17/ibm-5-in-5-computers-senses/index.html?hpt=hp_c4

Mohammed Ali threatens cashier with an AK47 machine gun

This is the moment a gun-wielding robber demanded 'money, money!' as he brandished an AK47 assault rifle at his terrified victims.

Mohammed Ali, 26, used the terrifying weapon to carry out two raids in east London - one in which he stole £400 from William Hill and another in which he threatened staff in Barclays, but failed to get anything.

Ali, of Bow, east London, was jailed for seven years today at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm - because the gun was deactivated.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249495/Caught-camera-Horrifying-moment-armed-robber-threatens-cashier-AK47-machine-gun.html

Cameron finally concedes Britain could quit Europe as he prepares to offer referendum on the subject

David Cameron admitted for the first time last night that Britain might leave the European Union.

The Prime Minister said that while a UK exit was not his ‘preference’, it was however ‘imaginable’.

Mr Cameron is preparing to offer a referendum on Britain’s future in Europe in a speech next month.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249736/Cameron-finally-concedes-Britain-quit-Europe-prepares-offer-referendum-subject.html

Jon Hammar Chained to a bed in one of Mexico's most notorious prisons

The first photo of Marine Veteran Jon Hammar, held captive in one of Mexico’s most infamous prisons for four months, has been released to the public.

The photo shows Hammar, 27, in a solitary cell inside Matamoros state prison in Tamaulipas, shirtless, barefoot and chained by handcuffs around his right ankle.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249746/First-photo-revealed-U-S-Marine-jailed-Mexicos-notorious-prisons-months.html




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Kim Jong Un voted TIME magazine's 'person of the year' in reader's poll - thanks to a boost from hacker group 4Chan....How is this any Worse than the EU Buyi.....being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

Between his missile threats and human rights violations, it's hard to tell why so many people voted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be Time magazine's person of the year.

Now we know.

Internet forum 4Chan hacked TIME's web site and rigged the results to give the supreme leader 5.6 million votes for TIME's person of the year, the magazine's venerable honor usually reserved for leaders and visionaries.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249800/Kim-Jong-Un-voted-Time-magazines-person-year-readers-poll--thanks-boost-hacker-group-4Chan.html

'Sandy scam': How Obama's $60.4billion Hurricane Sandy aid bill is stuffed with pork for NASA, museums, Alaska fisheries and more

President Obama's proposed $60.4 billion federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy has been revealed stuffed with millions in spending for museums and NASA with portions sent as far from the Northeast’s destruction as Alaska.

Now dubbed the 'Sandy scam' by its critics, only a portion of the federal funding goes directly to states and victims hardest hit by superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Instead $150 million is slated to benefit Alaskan fisheries, $8 million to homeland security and the justice departments for new cars, office equipment, furniture and 'mobile X-Ray machines,' and $41 million for eight military bases including Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the New York Post reports.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249500/Obamas-60-4billion-Hurricane-Sandy-aid-stuffed-pork-NASA-museums-Alaska-fisheries.html

Right-wing extremists arrested in South Africa after 'nationwide bomb plot' that targeted President Zuma

South African police say they have foiled a plot to bomb a conference attended by President Jacob Zuma and dozens of top government officials.

Four men aged between 40 and 50 were arrested on Sunday it has today been confirmed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249451/Right-wing-extremists-arrested-South-Africa-nationwide-bomb-plot-targeted-President-Zuma.html

Confederate battle flag BANNED by Texas school district

A Central Texas school board is banning the Confederate battle flag from district property and district-sponsored events.

Hays board members voted 5-2 Monday to amend the student code of conduct to ban the flag, which was formerly displayed with the Hays High School Rebel mascot.

The ban also covers any imagery deemed to be racially hostile, offensive or intolerant.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249806/Confederate-battle-flag-deemed-offensive-banned-Texas-school.html

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake FLORES SEA - 18th December 2012

Magnitude M 4.8
Region FLORES SEA
Date time 2012-12-18 08:27:04.7 UTC
Location 6.29 S ; 120.67 E
Depth 10 km
Distances 96 km SE Ujung bulu

China arrests 93 doomsayers who handed out leaflets saying sun will stop shining on Friday

Members of a banned anti-communist cult were among those arrested for handing out leaflets about December 21, the day the Mayan calendar, pictured, ends.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249759/China-arrests-93-doomsayers-handed-leaflets-saying-sun-stop-shining-Friday-end-Mayan-calendar.html

Ryder Rozier R.I.P.: As the nation mourns Sandy Hook massacre another tragic toddler becomes latest gun victim after accidentally shooting himself in the head with cop uncle's weapon

As the world mourns the tragic loss of 20 children who were shot to death in a Connecticut elementary school, yet another child has fallen victim to a bullet wound. Three-year-old Ryder Rozier is dead after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a handgun belonging to his uncle, Oklahoma state trooper Ian Rozier.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249744/Toddler-dies-accidentally-shooting-head-uncles-handgun.html

Frank Kulick Paying his respects: Young father builds moving memorial of 19 wooden crosses and one Star of David in his front lawn to honor the fallen children of Sandy Hook shooting

As a tribute to the young lives lost, Sandy Hook father-of-one Frank Kulick painstakingly adorned each white memorial with flowers and stuffed animals in his own front yard. In strikingly poignant pictures, Mr Kulick can be seen braving the cold and the rain to make sure each small memorial on his property remembers the lives of the little ones lost.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249784/Sandy-Hook-shooting-Frank-Kulick-builds-memorial-victims.html

Hundreds attend Philadelphia gun show just days after Sandy Hook massacre as crowds pack convention center

The Sandy Hook massacre hardly deterred gun aficionados attending the Eagle Arms Gun Show, which opened in Philadelphia on the same day as the horrific attack in Newtown, Connecticut Friday.

And not only did the show draw big crowds, there was even an increase in attendance, according to one report.

'It’s more crowded than it has been in the past,' said one person attending the show at Philadelphia Expo Center.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249743/Sandy-Hook-massacre-doesn-t-deter-crowd-pack-convention-center-Philadelphia-gun-show.html

Kyle Bangayan and Korry Martinson arrested for threatening to shoot up schools after Sandy Hook elementary massacre

Two men have been arrested after separately threatening in messages posted online to carry out shootings at schools in the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead.

Police arrested 24-year-old Kyle Bangayan of California and 19-year-old Korry Martinson of Washington state after both men posted threats to their Facebook accounts.

Bangayan was arrested at his parents' home in Hollywood, where authorities recovered nine firearms, including rifles, handguns and a shotgun. He was booked into Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles and held on a $500,000 bail.

Late Monday, prosecutors announced they would not file charges against Bangayan, however.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249815/Two-men-arrested-for-threatening-online-shoot-area-schools-Sandy-Hook-elementary-massacre.html

Pro-weapons group says 'gun control supporters have blood of little children on their hands' and that tragedy could have been prevented if teachers were allowed to carry guns

The advocacy group Gun Owners of America has responded to the mass shooting in Connecticut in their own fashion – by saying that gun control supporters ‘have the blood of little children on their hands.’

The organization’s executive director, Larry Pratt, said in a statement immediately following the horrific December 14 shootings in Newtown, that ‘blood is on the hands of members of Congress and the Connecticut legislators who voted to ban guns from all schools in Connecticut.’

The pro-gun lobbyist said today on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ claimed that if the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary had guns, the whole tragedy could be prevented.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249769/Pro-weapons-group-says-gun-control-supporters-blood-little-children-hands-tragedy-prevented-Sandy-Hook-teachers-allowed-carry-guns.html

Hollywood Hacker Jailed for 10 Years After Stealing Nude Pics

A man who hacked into the personal emails of Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and a number of other women has been jailed for 10 years.

Christopher Chaney pleaded guilty to offences that included wiretapping and unauthorised access to a computer.

Prosecutors said Chaney, 35, illegally accessed the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry between November 2010 and October 2011.

http://news.sky.com/story/1026757/hollywood-hacker-jailed-after-stealing-nude-pics

Investigation Launched Into Comet Collapse

The Government has launched an investigation into the purchase and administration of troubled electrical chain Comet.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has tasked the Insolvency Service with scrutinizing the process following a number of complaints from MPs.

http://news.sky.com/story/1026872/investigation-launched-into-comet-collapse

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE EL SALVADOR - 18th December 2012

Magnitude
5.1
Date-Time
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 08:12:24 UTC
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 02:12:24 AM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location
13.028°N, 89.992°W
Depth
57.5 km (35.7 miles)
Region
OFFSHORE EL SALVADOR
Distances
64 km (39 miles) SSW of Acajutla, El Salvador

The great GM lies: A Tory minister insists GM crops 'are a good thing'. Really?

There is no doubt that it was a declaration of the Government’s colours on genetically modified farming when Environment Secretary Owen Paterson rounded on critics of GM technology as ‘humbugs’ last week, and insisted GM food should be grown and sold widely in Britain.

During the course of his ringing endorsement, he managed to spark outrage and alarm by claiming ‘there isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typical London restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed’.

His belligerent intent was quite clear. The message he wanted to get across was that GM crops are already here and in the food chain, there’s nothing to fear — and nothing we can do about it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249687/Frankenstein-foods-good-thing-Its-great-GM-lies.html

Even without Congress, Obama could act to restrict guns

Unburdened by re-election worries and empowered by law to act without Congress, U.S. President Barack Obama could take action to improve background checks on gun buyers, ban certain gun imports and bolster oversight of dealers.

Prospects for gun control legislation intensified in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, as more pro-gun rights lawmakers said on Monday they were open to the possibility while Obama and three cabinet members met at the White House to discuss the subject.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-usa-shooting-obama-options-idUSBRE8BH04120121218

Tungurahua volcano: Glowing rock and ash spew from Ecuador volcano

Syrian rebels take control of Damascus Palestinian camp

Syrian rebels took full control of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on Monday after fighting raged for days in the district on the southern edge of President Bashar al-Assad's Damascus powerbase, rebel and Palestinian sources said.

The battle had pitted rebels, backed by some Palestinians, against Palestinian fighters of the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). Many PFLP-GC fighters defected to the rebel side and their leader Ahmed Jibril left the camp two days ago, rebel sources said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20121218

NASA crashes two probes into a mountain on the moon

A pair of NASA moon-mapping probes smashed themselves into a lunar mountain on Monday, ending a year-long mission that is shedding light on how the solar system formed.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, spacecraft had been flying around the moon, enabling scientists to make detailed gravity maps. The probes sped up slightly as they encountered stronger gravity from denser regions and slowed down as they flew over less-dense areas.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-space-moon-idUSBRE8BH01C20121218

Clinton gets accountability report on Benghazi attacks

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday received an official review of the September attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, setting the stage for testimony on an incident that prompted a political furor and sharp questions about security at U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas.

The State Department said Clinton - who is convalescing after suffering a concussion last week - received the report from the Accountability Review Board formed to probe the attack which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/17/us-usa-benghazi-report-idUSBRE8BG12V20121217

Norovirus outbreak shuts fifth Margate hospital ward

A total of 83 people have been affected by the winter vomiting bug at an east Kent hospital.

Five wards at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate have now been closed to new admissions.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said 65 patients and 18 members of staff had norovirus.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-20762699

Mario Draghi has asserted the European Central Bank's ultimate power over all 6,000 eurozone banks

• Cameron: British EU exit is 'imaginable'
• Draghi says ECB's powers will extend to all eurozone banks
• Athens criticised for missing tax collection targets
• Banks still 'not fully prepared' for collapse
• Europe must 'work very hard' to maintain welfare system: Merkel
• Bank of Italy governor rejects need for ECB bail out

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/debt-crisis-live/9749598/Debt-Crisis-as-it-happened-December-17-2012.html

Human rights no defence for criminals and terrorists, says Grayling...Unless they live in the UK!

Chris Grayling says that an “absolutely clear balance between rights and responsibilities” now needs to be set out in British law in the wake of controversial European legal judgements.

In an article for today’s Daily Telegraph, the Justice Secretary indicates he may call for Britain to leave the European Court of Human Rights if the Tories win the next election.

The Commission on a Bill of Rights will today set out how a new Bill could be introduced by Parliament which would set out the fundamental rights for British citizens in a single piece of legislation. It will recommend such legislation be delayed until after the referendum on Scottish independence in autumn 2014.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9751945/Human-rights-no-defence-for-criminals-and-terrorists-says-Grayling.html

China cracking down on doomsday group

For members of a doomsday cult in China, the end may indeed be near.

Authorities have in recent weeks arrested more than 100 members of a fringe Christian-inspired group known as Almighty God that is prophesying the world will end Dec. 21, according to state media.

Members of the group had been distributing apocalyptic literature and sending text messages throughout China when the government began detaining them this month. On Dec. 8, police arrested 34 members in Fujian province, which lies on China's southeastern coast. On Thursday, they arrested 37 members, including seven leaders in Xining, a city in the west-central province of Qinghai. There have also been arrests in Sichuan and Hubei provinces and elsewhere.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-china-doomsday-arrests-20121218,0,7963235.story