Thursday, September 20, 2012

Amish Hair Attackers Guilty Of Hate Crimes

A group of Amish men and women have been convicted of hate crimes, including forcibly cutting off people's beards and hair.

A jury found Samuel Mullet Senior guilty of orchestrating the cuttings of Amish men's beards and women's hair in attacks that shocked the normally peaceful religious settlements in eastern Ohio.

His followers were found guilty of carrying out the attacks. In total, 16 people were convicted.

The court heard how sons pulled their father out of bed and chopped off his beard in the moonlight and how women surrounded their mother-in-law and cut off her very long hair, taking it down to the scalp in some places.

All the defendants are members of Mullet's settlement that he founded near the West Virginia panhandle. Read More

Obama TV Ad Aims To Calm Prophet Protests in Pakistan

The United States has paid for adverts on Pakistani television which show President Obama and Hillary Clinton denouncing an anti-Muslim film.

The government has spent $70,000 (£43,000) for airtime across seven channels as it tries to stem outrage over the American-made movie.

Protests surrounding the film have led to 30 deaths in at least 20 countries, including one attack where the US ambassador to Libya was killed.

In Pakistan, thousands of protesters clashed with police in the capital, Islamabad, near a diplomatic enclave.

Thursday's chaotic scenes left at least 50 people injured.

The 30-second advert shows clips of Mr Obama and his Secretary of State during speeches made after the violence flared last week.

Mr Obama is shown saying: "Since our founding the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others."

Mrs Clinton then says: "Let me state very clearly, the United States has absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents. America's commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation."

The advert, translated into Urdu, includes an image of the US seal "to make clear it's official", the US State Department said. Read More

Dale Cregan Charged with 4 Murders including 2 Policewomen due in Court today

A man is due in court charged with murdering two policewomen as it emerged armed officers raided an address near the scene of the shooting just weeks before.

A search took place on the morning of August 16 at a house on the Hattersley estate in Tameside, Greater Manchester, as part of a search for wanted murder suspect Dale Cregan, the Press Association said.

The 29-year-old has been charged with the murders of PC Nicola Hughes, 23, and PC Fiona Bone, 32, at a different address on the estate on Tuesday.

The two officers were responding to a report of a burglary in the area.

Cregan is also accused of killing David Short, 46, and his 23-year-old son Mark, who died in separate attacks earlier this year. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS at a depth of 552.4 km (343.3 miles), the quake hit at 03:25:48 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 835 km (519 miles) South from SUVA, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA at a depth of 8.8 km (5.5 miles), the quake hit at 02:14:49 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 249 km (154 miles) South of Sidorukun, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake FLORES REGION, INDONESIA - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck the FLORES REGION, INDONESIA at a depth of 31.5 km (19.6 miles), the quake hit at 00:30:43 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 12 km (7 miles) North of Nanganumba, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN HONSHU, JAPAN - 21st September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck WESTERN HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 370.4 km (230.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:03:53 UTC Friday 21st September 2012
The epicenter was 13 km (8 miles) ESE of Ayabe, Japan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 111.2 km (69.1 miles), the quake hit at 21:21:06 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 47 km (29 miles) SSE of Pondaguitan, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck the FIJI REGION at a depth of 544.2 km (338.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:03:40 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 36 km (22 miles) ESE of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN BATU, INDONESIA - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck KEPULAUAN BATU, INDONESIA at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:47:46 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 172 km (106.6 miles) West of Padang Pariaman, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

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4.2 Magnitude Earthquake ICELAND REGION - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the ICELAND REGION at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 19:42:46 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 46 km (28.5 miles) East of Grímsey, Iceland
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:47:20 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 52 km (32.2 miles) East of K√°rpathos, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Mysterious bird-like drone may have popped up in both Iraq and Pakistan, origin still unknown

The quite strange unarmed bird-like drone which was recovered by Pakistani forces in August of 2011 apparently did not just fly over Pakistan, but was also apparently spotted by Iraqi insurgents at least two years before making its way to Pakistan.

One might jump to the conclusion that the drone belongs to the United States since the U.S. is involved a great deal of drone operations in Pakistan – which the Pakistani parliament has unanimously declared must end. It also appears to be similar to some of the drone projects which are leaning towards designs influenced by birds and insects.

A reader of The Aviationist tipped them off to a video posted on May 28, 2009 showing the drone captured by the Iraqi Hezbollah in Iraq which is eerily similar to the drone which was captured in Pakistan.

The providence of the drone is shrouded in a thick veil of mystery since no nation would take responsibility for the device which has, according to Danger Room, “silver wings and a span about the size of a grown man’s outstretched arms, the drone was clearly more than a hobbyist’s toy: the remains of a camera were near the crash site, a camera that fit into the robotic bird’s belly, ostensibly for spying on insurgents.”

Danger Room points out that the drone is quite similar to, but definitely not exactly the same as, Festo’s “SmartBird” drone. more

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles), the quake hit at 18:32:13 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 74 km (45.8 miles) East of Miyako, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA at a depth of 123 km (76.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:44:52 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 40 km (24.8 miles) WSW of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck VERACRUZ, MEXICO at a depth of 114.1 km (70.9 miles), the quake hit at 16:58:43 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 24 km (14 miles) Northeast of Jesus Carranza, Mexico
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

China and Vietnam battle H5N1 outbreaks

Sep 18, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – China today reported a large H5N1 outbreak at a duck farm in Guangdong province, a day after veterinary officials in Vietnam reported the virus struck poultry in Hoa Binh province, according to reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).


The H5N1 outbreak in China started on Sep 11 at the farm in the city of Zhanjiang, which is a large urban area in the southwestern part of the south China province. The virus sickened 14,050 of 73,800 susceptible ducks, killing 6,300 of them. The remaining birds were culled to curb the spread of the disease.

The source of the virus is unknown, and authorities have limited poultry movement in the area, are screening birds, and have sprayed and disinfected the affected area, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese officials yesterday reported that the H5N1 virus struck poultry in a village in Hoa Binh province, a mountainous area located in the northwestern part of the country.

The OIE report said the virus killed all 400 of the susceptible birds and that so far the source of the virus has not been determined. Disinfection and limiting poultry transport are among the measures deployed to control disease spread.

H7N3 in Mexico
In other avian flu developments, Mexican officials are still battling outbreaks of highly pathogenic H7N3 in Jalisco state, an area that is one of the country's biggest egg producers, according to an OIE report yesterday. It detailed three recent outbreaks that struck farms in the middle of August, one that started on Aug 13 and two others that began on Aug 20.

Of 1,090,260 birds that were susceptible at the three locations, the virus sickened 86,569 and killed almost the same number. The report said authorities destroyed 477,930 more to keep the virus from spreading. Read More

Bright white meteorite spotted over Skidbrooke, United Kingdom

A LARGE meteorite was spotted over Skidbrooke on Wednesday night, as well as other areas across the country.

Tom Redmayne, of North Somercotes, called us to report his sighting, described as a ‘silent bright white fireball, becoming orange before disappearing’ which he saw for only around two seconds.

Tom said he was looking out towards the North Sea at around 7.23pm when he saw the light.

“It had one large body and about five or six smaller pieces falling away,” he said.

“The smaller fragments disappeared first and the large piece was the last to go.

“It fell at steep downward angle at about 40 degrees.” Read More

Australia: Thousands of fish found dead in Brisbane River

The Queensland Government says it may be weeks before it knows the reason behind the deaths of several thousand fish in the Brisbane River at Lowood.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) will test water and fish samples, after catfish were found floating along the creek bank at Lowood last week.

Crews from Somerset Regional Council and Seqwater are expected to continue the clean-up today.

DEHP executive director Andrew Connor says it is a large kill.

"The majority of the dead fish are located around Lowood with small numbers being found further upstream as far as Lockyer Creek," he said.

"There's been no reported fish deaths in other parts of the Brisbane River.

"Somerset Regional Council and Seqwater have both provided great support in volunteering people and resources to assist with the clean-up."

Mr Connor says officers are trying to determine the cause. Read More

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake MOLUCCA SEA - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the MOLUCCA SEA at a depth of 83.3 km (51.8 miles), the quake hit at 15:52:34 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 165 km (103 miles) NNW from Ternate, Moluccas, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

The Obama you Don't know

Introduction: The Obama you don't know

Few if any of his predecessors took the oath of office with higher public hopes for his success than President Obama on Jan. 20, 2009.
Millions of Americans hailed his election as an end...

Chapter I: A childhood of privilege, not hardship

First lady Michelle Obama told the Democratic National Convention that "Barack and I were both raised by families who didn't have much in the way of money or material possessions."
It is... Read More

Chapter II: The myth of the 'rock-star professor'

Time magazine gushed in 2008 about Barack Obama's 12-year tenure as a law lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, saying, "Within a few years, he had become a rock-star professor with... Read More

Chapter III: The 1997 speech that launched Obama

Few doubt that Barack Obama's stirring oration before the 2004 Democratic National Convention vaulted him into the national limelight.
But another, less-heralded Obama address --... Read More

Chapter IV: For the slumlord's defense, Barack Obama, Esq.

Writing in his 1995 autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," Obama said he became "a civil rights lawyer" because "to lend meaning to a community's suffering and take part in its healing -- that... Read More

Chapter V: Obama's toughest critics on the Left

Barack Obama's carefully constructed image as a civil rights lawyer who wanted to heal the black community was greeted with skepticism by some Chicago activists.
"I never drank the... Read More

Chapter VI: The poor people Obama left behind

Four years after Barack Obama's historic election as president, little seems to have changed for the African-American communities on Chicago's South Side.
The lack of change -- or the... Read More

Chapter VII: The myth of Obama as state Senate reformer


Shortly after Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, Prairie State Blue, a liberal blog, attributed his victory to the fact that Illinois' deeply entrenched government corruption had... Read More

Chapter VIII: Obama's state pension scheme

State Sen. Barack Obama and members of an Illinois lobbying group representing politically connected minority-owned businesses launched a campaign in 2000 to pressure state pension funds to help... Read More

Chapter IX: The Arab-American network behind Obama

President Obama's controversial relationships with radical figures like Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi have been well-publicized in recent years.
Prior to his academic... Read More

Chapter X: Obama brings Chicago politics to Washington

Chicago has been called the home of "gangster government." How bad is it?
Consider the following facts about the city from which President Obama rose through the ranks of American public... Read More

US EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN UNDER SIEGE...

The US embassy in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, has become the latest target of protesters angry at an anti-Islam video that triggered protests in the Arab and Muslim world.

The total number of protesters reached around 5,000 later on Thursday with the arrival of protesters carrying the flags of hardline Islamist groups. At least 50 people were injured as police fired tear gas and live rounds towards the crowds.

Hundreds of students from various colleges and educational institutions in Islamabad had begun clashing with police as security forces tried to block them from reaching the embassy compoud, which also includes the British and French diplomatic missions.

The students responded by pelting the police with stones, and the police retaliated by firing tear gas shells. Read More

Suicide bomber kills eight in Somali capital: witnesses

MOGADISHU — A suicide bomber killed at least eight people and severely wounded several more Thursday in a restaurant in the centre of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, witnesses said.

The attack -- the latest in the war-ravaged city where Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents have vowed to topple the government -- was one of the first to target several new upmarket restaurants set up by the Somali diaspora.

"I saw eight people killed in the blast, and around them there were many wounded, many of them with severe wounds," said Hassan Ibrahim Abdullahi, who was in the restaurant at the time.
Others said they feared the death toll could rise further, after the critically wounded were taken to hospital.

"There was a loud explosion, there were at least eight killed, and there were two more that were rushed to hospital who looked like they would not survive," said Ali Mohammed Yassin, another diner in the restaurant.

The bomber targeted the Village Restaurant, run by Somalis who had returned to their country from Britain, an eatery popular with other influential Somalis as well as the few foreigners living in the city.

The restaurant is opposite the National Theatre, and about a kilometre from the presidential palace. Source

IRAN: Hundreds chant 'Death to France,' 'Down with the U.S.'...

IRAN

Hundreds of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy in Tehran to protest the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a French satirical weekly. Protesters chanted "Death to France" and "Down with the U.S." and burned the flags of the United States and Israel. The demonstration ended after two hours.

---

IRAQ

Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the U.S.-produced film and the French weekly's cartoons as offensive to Muslims and called on Shiites and Sunnis to unite in defense of Islamic values. Speaking in the Shiite holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, al-Maliki said "all Muslims should shoulder responsibility of defending Islam."

"Defending Islam is the responsibility of all Muslims, not a particular sect or an ethnic group," al-Maliki said.

PAKISTAN

A crowd of more than 1,000 people, including students affiliated with the Islamist hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party, tried to make their way to the U.S. Embassy inside a guarded enclave that houses embassies and government offices in the capital Islamabad. Riot police used tear gas and batons to keep stone-throwing demonstrators away from the enclave, and hundreds of shipping containers were lined up to cordon off the area. Read More

James Holmes to appear in court as new charges sought

(CNN) -- The man accused of spraying bullets in a crowded Colorado movie theater, leaving 12 dead and 58 wounded, is scheduled to attend a court hearing Thursday as prosecutors seek additional charges.

Authorities charged James Holmes with murder and attempted murder.

He also faces weapons charges in the July 20 shooting during the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in Aurora.

At Thursday's hearing, lawyers are expected to discuss a new prosecution request to add 10 charges to the more than 140 he already faces, according to a state court official. Read More

Dozens killed as Syrian warplanes hit gas station

Damascus, Syria (CNN) -- Syrian government warplanes targeted a northern town Thursday, hitting a gas station and triggering an explosion that killed at least 55 people, opposition forces said.

It's the latest salvo in Syria's bloody 18-month-old civil war that shows no sign of letting up. Dozens were wounded in the airstrike in Raqqa province that two opposition groups said were carried out by Syrian government aircraft.

The strike comes a day after rebels seized a border crossing in Raqqa near Syria's border with Turkey.

The number of people killed Thursday in Syria was 173, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

Earlier Thursday, five people were reported killed from aerial shelling of residential neighborhoods in Aleppo, and MiG warplane shelling was reported in Damascus countryside villages, the LCC said. Read More

Assad plans to transfer chemical weapons to Hezbollah: Syrian defected general

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would transfer the chemical weapons to the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, a Syrian defected general told the Times of London.

Former Syrian general turned defector, Major-General Adnan Sillu, said that aside from plans to transfer weapons to Hezbollah, Syria had planned to use chemical weapons on the Syrian people, “as a last resort,” a report on the Israeli online edition of Haaretz said, quoting the Times.

“We were in a serious discussion about the use of chemical weapons, including how we would use them and in what areas,” Sillu said.

“We discussed this as a last resort -- such as if the regime lost control of an important area such as Aleppo,” the General was quoted as saying.

The German weekly Der Spiegel on Monday claimed that Syria tested delivery systems for chemical weapons at the end of August.

“Five or six empty shells devised for delivering chemical agents were fired by tanks and aircraft, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near the village of Khanasir,” east of the city of Aleppo, Der Spiegel reported. more

India traders protest foreign stores

Libyan: I'm freedom fighter, not Islamist

Thousands of boys 'at least four years behind in reading'

More than 20,000 boys left primary school this summer with the reading skills of a seven-year-old or worse, according to official figures.

Seven per cent of 11-year-old boys will be starting secondary education with ability levels no better than those expected of the average infant, it was revealed.

Despite a record rise in results this year, figures showed that boys were almost twice as likely as girls to fail basic reading tests.

In all, some 20,300 boys were at Level 2 or below in reading – the standard normally expected after just two years of compulsory schooling – compared with 10,400 girls.

The disclosure comes amid concerns that a lack of male role models at home and school may be turning boys off reading at a young age.

Earlier this year, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy warned that large numbers of boys were failing to develop a love of reading during primary education because of a shortage of male teachers combined with an anti-book culture among many fathers. more

Police And Protesters Clash In Pakistan

At least 50 people were injured as some 5,000 Pakistanis - some carrying the flags of Islamist groups - protested over a US film.

Officers fired tear gas and live rounds as the demonstrators, many armed with wooden clubs, tried to reach Islamabad's heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave. It is home to most Western embassies, including the US, British and French missions.

The government called in the army to protect the enclave after protesters broke through a barrier of shipping containers set up by police to block a road leading to the area.

An initial demonstration of around 1,000 swelled to 5,000 with the arrival of protesters carrying the flags of hardline Islamist groups Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jamaat-e-Islami and Sipah-e-Sahaba - which is banned by the Pakistan government.

New television ads emerged in the country showing a US Embassy seal condemning the anti-Islam video along with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Read More

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake OFF WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck OFF WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:42:10 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 452 km (280.2 miles) Southwest of Banda aceh, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 46.6 km (29 miles), the quake hit at 12:42:39 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 37 km (22 miles) NNE of San Isidro, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake GUATEMALA - 20th September 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck GUATEMALA at a depth of 71.3 km (44.3 miles), the quake hit at 09:29:52 UTC Thursday 20th September 2012
The epicenter was 11 km (6.8 miles) SSE of La Gomera, Guatemala
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Iran pours more troops into Syria, ready to target Israel from Syria and Lebanon

Iran continues to fly military personnel and quantities of weapons into Syria by civilian aircraft which cut through Iraqi airspace, American intelligence sources disclosed early Thursday, Sept. 20. UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon also said that, "Unfortunately, both [Syrian] sides, government and opposition forces, seem to be determined to see the end by military means."

Clearly, Iran is augmenting its military involvement in the constantly escalating Syrian civil war, broadening it into a multinational conflict which threatens to drag Lebanon in, by means of the Iranian-Syrian ally, Hizballah.

The UN Secretary General's statement implying that the two Syrian sides are determined to fight to the bitter end is echoed in Iran’s resolve to fight to the bitter end for Assad, on Syrian soil.

Tehran is not hiding its actions. Sunday, Sept. 16, Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Commander Gen. Ali Jafari said openly that Al Qods Brigades units were present and operational in both Syria and Lebanon.

No comment on this revelation has come from the US, Israel or Israel’s military (IDF) chiefs - notwithstanding its menacing import, namely, that Tehran is no longer hanging about and waiting for its nuclear program to be attacked in order to punish Israel, but is getting ready for a pre-emptive operation.

Still, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have chosen silence in the face of what any other nation would regard as a casus belli: the open deployment of enemy forces on its northern and eastern borders. more

31% of Canadian kids are overweight or obese

Almost a third of Canadians aged five to 17 are overweight or obese, Statistics Canada finds.

The prevalence of overweight and obese Canadian children hasn't increased over the past decade, but the agency said Thursday that it remains a public health concern.

Using World Health Organization standards of measurement, 31.5 per cent of five- to 17-year-olds — an estimated 1.6 million Canadians — were classified as overweight (19.8 per cent) or obese (11.7 per cent) in 2009 to 2011.

Among children aged five to 11, the percentage of obese boys (19.5 per cent) was more than three times that of obese girls (6.3 per cent), the agency said.

"Although these estimates have not changed significantly in recent years, more data points are needed to determine if the pace of increase in prevalence is slowing, as has been observed in some countries," the report concludes.

"Regardless, the estimates remain high and are a public health concern, given the tendency for excess weight in childhood to persist through to adulthood." more

U.S. 'officially denies' plans to invade Canada (Because they're likely already doing so economically)


Canada, you can rest easy. Or can you? The U.S. State Department denies secret meetings with Mexico to plan an invasion of Canada.

How did it come to this? It started as a joke between a journalist and a spokeswoman for the State Department.

Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland fielded questions Tuesday about a closed-door "signing ceremony" between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa.

Nuland said she thought it was an update on the the Merida Initiative to fight organized crime.

"This isn't some secret thing … to invade Canada or something like that?" the journalist joked.

Nuland smiled and replied, "No, no, no. It’s not anything classified."

And with that, the Obama administration had official denied secretly planning to invade its neighbour to the north. NBC News was first to pick it up and U.S. blog Politico helped spread the word. more

Australia: WHITE-PRIDE GROUPS SPARK PROTEST BACKLASH FEARS

Police are deeply concerned that racial violence like that of the 2005 Cronulla riots could erupt this weekend, in response to last Saturday's Muslim demonstration in Sydney.

7.30 has revealed that white-pride groups are growing online, with a series of online and text messages showing planned retaliation.

Provocative messaged have begun to appear on Facebook pages, calling on white "home-grown" Australians to respond violently to protests.

On Wednesday night, the following text message found its way online, urging non-Muslim Australians in Victoria to unite and fight back at a planned pro-Muslim protest in Melbourne this weekend:

"Let's show these bearded goat-herders that we run this country, not them and if they don't like it, they can f*** off back to whatever s***hole they came from on the leaky boat they showed up on. Spread the word and come ready for a battle for our rights and our land. They thought Cronulla riots were bad. We grew there, they flew there! Australians unite!"

Victoria's Deputy Police Commissioner Tim Cartwright says he found the text message "disgusting". Read More

Pakistan: Protesters clash with police

ISLAMABAD – Hundreds of Pakistanis angry at an anti-Islam film that denigrates the religion's prophet are clashing with police in the Pakistani capital.

Islamabad police official Mohammed Iqbal says the crowd numbers more than 1,000 people and most of them are students.

Television footage of the demonstrations Thursday showed police using tear gas and batons to try to keep demonstrators away from a restricted enclave that houses government offices and embassies.

The government lined up hundreds of shipping containers to cordon off the enclave that is also home to the U.S. Embassy.

Iqbal says students were trying to make their way to the American embassy, but police were holding them back. Source

Syrian army helicopter hits airliner with 200 aboard - government

(Reuters) - A Syrian military helicopter that crashed near the capital Damascus on Thursday hit the tail of a passenger plane but the 200 people on board escaped unharmed, Syria's information ministry said.


"The helicopter struck the tail of the plane ... The control tower at Damascus airport confirmed that the plane landed safely at Damascus airport and all 200 passengers are in good health," a statement published on the state news channel Suriya said.

Suriya said earlier that a helicopter had crashed in the town of Douma east of the Syrian capital. Source

State Department warns Americans not to travel to Pakistan

(Reuters) - U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Pakistan, the State Department said on Thursday in a fresh warning that follows numerous protests, demonstrations and rallies in Pakistan that U.S. officials said are likely to continue.

The department advised Americans to put off any non-essential travel to the country and "strongly urged" those who are already there to avoid protests and large gatherings.

"The presence of al-Qaida, Taliban elements, and indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan," the State Department said in a statement. Source

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China: "Hurt 1000 Enemies at the Expense of 800"?



As China's anti-Japan activities turn ugly and violent,
several Japanese owned plants and stores temporarily shut down on September 18 and 19. State media consequently suggested to impose economic sanctions on Japan even if "it hurt 1000 enemies at the expense of 800".
However, the economist indicates that an economic war will end up with no winner.

On the 18th, the Japanese retailer Aeon shut down 30 of its 35 stores in mainland China. In addition, 198 "7-11"convenience stores were closed; clothing retailer Fast Retailing closed 60
of its Uniqlo stores and held its 200 Japanese employees on standby at home. Both Toyota and Honda, victims of arson in Qingdao, suspended the operation of some of the Chinese factories. Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, and Panasonic have also suspended manufacturing in some factories in China.

Meanwhile, the CCP mouthpiece suggested imposing economic sanctions against Japan. Read More

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Danish Mohammad cartoonist rejects censorship

(Reuters) - The Danish cartoonist who outraged Muslims with a drawing of the Prophet Mohammad seven years ago has said the West cannot let itself be muzzled by fear of offending Islamic sensibilities.

Kurt Westergaard, whose lampoon of Mohammad in the Jyllands-Posten paper nearly got him killed by an axe-wielding assassin in 2010, told Austrian magazine News he had no regrets about his work and said freedom of speech was too precious to relinquish.

"Should we in future let ourselves be censored by Islamic authorities in deeply undemocratic countries? Should they be allowed to tell the German chancellor in future whom she should honor and whom not? Are we really this far along?" he asked, referring to Angela Merkel's citation of his work.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous and caricatures or other characterizations have provoked protests across the Muslim world - most recently after the denigration of Mohammad in an amateurish film trailer concocted by anti-Islamic campaigners in the United States.

Westergaard, 77, said he still lives in constant fear of another attempt on his life. Read More

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Sept. 20 - Some 500 Afghans gather in Kabul to hold a peaceful protest against a film made in the United States about the Prophet Mohammad. Sarah Sheffer reports.

State Department warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan


Spain: Economic crisis fans Catalan separatism

(Reuters) - Spain's economic crisis is exposing deep regional fault lines. Among Catalans on Barcelona's boulevards the talk is of independence, and Madrid is worried.

This week the king and prime minister called for national unity to get Spain through its worst downturn in decades, King Juan Carlos recalling the spirit that built a democracy after dictator Francisco Franco's death in 1975.

Popular momentum for independence has never been stronger in Catalonia, a wealthy region in northeastern Spain that generates one fifth of the country's economic output and is home to 16 percent of Spaniards.

More than half of Catalans say they want a separate state, and hundreds of thousands marched in Barcelona last week - the biggest such show of separatist fervor.

Still, few see a rapid road to an independent Catalonia, a dream rooted in the Middle Ages when Barcelona was a Mediterranean trade centre with a parliament. Read More

Iraq denies Iran uses its airspace to arm Syria

(Reuters) - Iraq on Thursday denied a Western intelligence report that said Iranian aircraft had flown weapons and military personnel over Iraqi airspace to Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad battle an 18-month-old uprising.

The allegation, reported by Reuters on Wednesday, said arms transfers were organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Although charges that Iraq has allowed Iran to send arms to Syria are not new, the report said the extent of such shipments is far greater and more systematic than has been publicly acknowledged, thanks to a deal between senior Iraqi and Iranian officials.

The report also said Iran was dispatching trucks overland via Iraq westwards to Syria.

"Iraq has confirmed that it will never be involved or helping or allowing any shipment via its air space or land to Syria," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters.

He said Iraq was "ready to be part of regional and international efforts or measures to stop the shipping of equipment or personnel to both sides in Syria". Read More

Merkel turns to ex-mentor Kohl to sell Europe to Germans

(Reuters) - Angela Merkel is seeking help from her estranged, former mentor Helmut Kohl, architect of the euro, to restore voter faith in the European project before next year's election.

Realizing her own future is tied to that of the EU, Merkel has in the last month softened her rhetoric towards the most indebted euro zone states. Next week she will make a rare joint appearance with former Christian Democrat (CDU) chancellor Kohl.

The German leader's tough approach to the euro debt crisis has boosted her popularity in the last two years and polls show she is in a strong position to win the September 2013 vote.

But she needs to ensure traditional conservatives in her own party maintain discipline in the run-up to the vote after some were angered by her defense of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's bond-buying plan for stricken euro states - a scheme the German Bundesbank opposes.

Merkel must also convince the broader electorate of the need for closer EU integration, seen as crucial to the currency's long-term survival. A poll this week showed almost two thirds of Germans would prefer to live without the euro and 49 percent without the EU. Read More

Euro zone slump deepens and China still wilts

(Reuters) - Aggressive new policy from the European Central Bank has so far failed to boost ailing euro zone business, according to surveys that showed a widening chasm between sickly France and a more resilient Germany.

Thursday's purchasing managers indexes (PMIs), which survey thousands of companies worldwide every month, also showed Chinese factory activity wilted for an 11th month in September, as Europe's troubles continued to hit Asian exporters.

That looks unlikely to improve soon.

While the downturn in Europe's largest economy, Germany, eased by a surprising amount this month, French firms fell deeper into the mire in September - and at a far faster rate than expected.

A good indicator of economic performance, the composite euro zone PMI fell to 45.9 in September from 46.3 in August. Read More

Oregon Plague Victim Loses Fingers And Toes

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man who nearly died from the plague in June has now lost his withered fingers and toes to the disease known as the Black Death.

Doctors amputated the blackened extremities of Paul “Steve” Gaylord in an operation that lasted 2 1/2 hours Monday at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.

The 60-year-old Prineville man told The Oregonian the surgery was a success but painful.

Surgeons removed his fingers to his palms, leaving half of his left thumb and less of his right one. They also cut off his toes and the top part of his right foot.

“I’m very happy to be alive,” Gaylord said. “I can’t change it. I want to get out of pain and be able to walk again and do things for myself.” Read More

Officials: Iranian Quds Force poses threat to U.S. homeland

Iran’s extremist militias and their proxies were behind a recent string of terror attacks against Israeli diplomatic targets around the globe and might seek to strike the United States, U.S. counterterrorism officials said Wednesday.

“We have seen an uptick in operational activity by the Quds Force over the last year or so,” National Counter-Terrorism Center Director Matthew G. Olsen told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Mr. Olsen said the Quds Force, the elite division of the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for operations abroad, “poses a threat beyond the immediate [Middle East] region,” including to the U.S. homeland.

He cited the federal prosecution last year of a senior member of the force for involvement in a failed plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a Washington restaurant.
Quds Force operatives had been involved in anti-Israeli attacks and plots as far afield as India and Georgia, he said.

The Quds Force and the Lebanese Shiite extremist militia Hezbollah, which the Iranians have used as a proxy for terror attacks in the past, are “a significant source of concern for us,” added Kevin L. Perkins, associate deputy director of the FBI.

Mr. Perkins said the bureau is focusing its analytical firepower on the issue. “It’s a serious problem, a serious threat,” he said. Read More

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Mirable Dictu! Has Someone Noticed the IRS isn’t Enforcing Tax Laws in the Mortgage-Industrial Complex?

Reader Deontos highlighted a post on Reuters by two Brooklyn Law School professors, Bradley Borden and David Reiss, on a subject near and dear to our hearts, the abject failure of the IRS to take interest in widespread, probably pervasive, violations of REMIC, the part of the Federal tax code that governs mortgage securitizations.

The reason this matters is that this situation belies on of the Administration’s pet claims, that its hands were tied as far as addressing the foreclosure mess was concerned because it had no leverage over servicers. As we’ll discuss, in fact the Administration has a nuclear weapon in its hands that it is simply refusing to use.

The reason the Borden and Reiss piece is noteworthy is it’s the first time I’m aware of that experts have chosen to comment at length on the REMIC issue, suggest that there is likely a BIG problem here, and politely point out that the REMICs may have committed fraud, which would allow the statute of limitations to remain open indefinitely, giving the IRS plenty of time to investigate and litigate.

However, I suspect the professors have heard that the IRS is choosing to do nothing, as their quote of Lee Shepard at the top of their piece suggests:

They take aggressive positions, and they figure that if enough of them take an aggressive position, and there’s billions of dollars at stake, then the IRS is kind of estopped from arguing with them because so much would blow up. And that is called the Wall Street Rule. That is literally the nickname for it.

We suspect they know full well the Wall Street Rule is being applied here.

For those of you who are new to this issue, the 1986 Tax Reform Act created Real Estate Mortgage Conduits, aka REMICs, to allow mortgage securitizations to be pass-through entities, which means their income would not be subject to double taxation. Read More

Matt Taibbi: "A Rare Look at Why The Government Won't Fight Wall Street''

The great mystery story in American politics these days is why, over the course of two presidential administrations (one from each party), there’s been no serious federal criminal investigation of Wall Street during a period of what appears to be epic corruption. People on the outside have speculated and come up with dozens of possible reasons, some plausible, some tending toward the conspiratorial – but there have been very few who've come at the issue from the inside.

We get one of those rare inside accounts in The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins, a new book by Jeff Connaughton, the former aide to Senators Ted Kaufman and Joe Biden. Jeff is well known to reporters like me; during a period when most government officials double-talked or downplayed the Wall Street corruption problem, Jeff was one of the few voices on the Hill who always talked about the subject with appropriate alarm. He shared this quality with his boss Kaufman, the Delaware Senator who took over Biden's seat and instantly became an irritating (to Wall Street) political force by announcing he wasn’t going to run for re-election. "I later learned from reporters that Wall Street was frustrated that they couldn’t find a way to harness Ted or pull in his reins," Jeff writes. "There was no obvious way to pressure Ted because he wasn’t running for re-election."

Kaufman for some time was a go-to guy in the Senate for reform activists and reporters who wanted to find out what was really going on with corruption issues. He was a leader in a number of areas, attempting to push through (often simple) fixes to issues like high-frequency trading (his advocacy here looked prescient after the "flash crash" of 2010), naked short-selling, and, perhaps most importantly, the Too-Big-To-Fail issue. What’s fascinating about Connaughton’s book is that we now get to hear a behind-the-scenes account of who exactly was knocking down simple reform ideas, how they were knocked down, and in some cases we even find out why good ideas were rejected, although some element of mystery certainly remains here. Read More