Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

South Korea intelligence chief says North Korea could conduct nuke test any time -- and such a test could be imminent

North Korea could conduct another atomic test “whenever it wants,” South Korea’s spy chief said this week, adding to security concerns as regional powers take slow but positive steps toward resuming peace talks with the unpredictable nuclear-armed state.

Intelligence officials had said earlier this year they have detected at least two new tunnels at the North’s nuclear test site in apparent preparation for a third atomic detonation following those made in 2006 and 2009.

Pyongyang also unveiled to an outside expert last November what is said to be a sophisticated uranium enrichment facility, sparking regional fears and moves to bring the case to the U.N. Security Council for condemnation. Uranium, when highly enriched, could give the communist state a second way to produce nuclear bombs, in addition to the existing plutonium.

“Yes, there is always a possibility of another nuclear test as (the North) has various nuclear test sites and is also constructing new ones,” Seoul’s National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-Hoon told a parliamentary session Tuesday.

Pyongyang was faced with the deepest international isolation ever after leaving the six-nation denuclearization talks at the end of 2008 and conducting a second nuclear test.

The North, for decades, has employed a two-track strategy of offering to discuss denuclearization with dialogue partners ― South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Russia and China ― while keeping up its nuclear ambitions. (read more)

Chris Hondros' last photographs before death in Misurata

Rebuilding Japan: Country fights to keep the lights turning them off -- energy supplies found to be at extreme risk

An air of uncertainty surrounds eastern Japan as energy supplies are now at risk after the earthquake.

The man from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) slumped wearily into a chair and reached for a cup of coffee. Since the earthquake struck on March 11, he has been living on just a few hours of sleep a day.

Tepco, the villain of Japan's nuclear crisis, is fighting battles on all fronts – to stop radiation leaking from the crippled Daiichi plant; to remain solvent in the face of mounting compensation and decommissioning costs; and, perhaps most crucially for Japan's economy, to keep power flowing to Tokyo.

All hands are on the pump, the Tepco man said, and happily the news is good so far. The company has managed to purchase power from factories equipped with power generators, and has brought some "grandfather" thermal oil plants back to life. A target of 46.5GW of capacity has been raised to 50GW.

Despite relatively high prices for electricity by global standards, Japan has grown used to a surplus of power in the past two decades. As its population remained unchanged between 1990 and 2009, monopolies like Tepco encouraged more energy use. In turn, electricity consumption rose nearly 35pc over the period.

Now there is a sudden shortage and no-one knows what will happen when the summer arrives and Tokyo switches on millions of air conditioners. A few years ago, a freak hot summer sent demand soaring up to 60GW, which would leave Tepco some 16pc short. (read more)

Israel 'supplied arms to Argentina during Falklands War' -- Which other of our enemies are they supplying today?

Israel secretly supplied arms and equipment to Argentina during the Falklands War due to Prime Minister Menachem Begin's personal hatred of the British, a new book discloses.

Air to air missiles, missile radar alert systems, fuel tanks for fighter bombers and gas masks were dispatched from Israel apparently destined for Peru but were then transported on to Argentina, it claims.

As the British Task Force sent to reclaim the islands after the 1982 Argentine invasion of the Falklands began to get the upper hand, Argentina's ruling military junta was left with few choices from which to source replacements for equipment lost in war.

But according to 'Operation Israel: the rearming of Argentina during the dictatorship (1976/1983)' the junta found that Begin was willing to strike an agreement.

Interviews conducted by the author of the book, the Argentine journalist Hernan Dobry, reveal that Begin saw the deals as a form of revenge for the hanging of a personal friend, Dov Gruner, by the British Mandatory Authorities in Palestine in 1947.

After the Argentine Air Force contacted Isrex, the Israeli defence company, a meeting was arranged between representatives of the company and Begin. (read more)

Job center blasted for giving superhero capes to unemployed

Florida officials are investigating an unemployment agency that spent public money to give 6,000 superhero capes to the jobless.

Workforce Central Florida spent more than $14,000 on the red capes as part of its "Cape-A-Bility Challenge" public relations campaign. The campaign featured a cartoon character, "Dr. Evil Unemployment," who needs to be vanquished.

Florida's unemployment agency director asked Monday for an investigation of the regional operation's spending after the Orlando Sentinel published a story about the program. State director Cynthia Lorenzo said the spending appeared to be "insensitive and wasteful." (read more)

Chicago experiencing lowest temperatures since 1940s

Not only has Chicago dealt with chilly rain, hail and even snow this week, but temperatures Tuesday were at their lowest for this late spring date since the 1940s.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says the high Wednesday is expected only to reach 46 degrees with a peek or two of sunshine, but the chilly conditions will make it feel like winter never ended. As of 6:45 a.m., the temperature in Chicago was just 34 degrees.

Glaros says if there were precipitation Tuesday morning, some snow would likely be mixed in. Fortunately, the storm systems have moved east and conditions were just cold and overcast. (read more)

China Urges US to Protect Creditors After S&P Warning

China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the United States must take "responsible" measures to protect investors in its debt after Standard & Poor's threatened to lower its credit rating on the United States due to a bulging budget deficit.

"We hope the U.S. government will take responsible policies and measures to safeguard investors' interests," the ministry said in a statement.

China's foreign exchange reserves, already the world's biggest, rose by nearly $200 billion in the first quarter to $3.05 trillion. About two-thirds are estimated to be invested in dollars. (read more)

657 New Islands Discovered Worldwide

Here's something you don't see every day — hundreds of new islands have been discovered around the world.

The Earth has 657 more barrier islands than previously thought, according to a new global survey by researchers from Duke University and Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C.

The researchers identified a total of 2,149 barrier islands worldwide using satellite images, topographical maps and navigational charts. The new total is significantly higher than the 1,492 islands identified in a 2001 survey conducted without the aid of publicly available satellite imagery.

Barrier islands often form as chains of long, low, narrow offshore deposits of sand and sediment, running parallel to a coast but separated from it by bays, estuaries or lagoons. Unlike stationary landforms, barrier islands build up, erode, migrate and rebuild over time in response to waves, tides, currents and other physical processes in the open ocean environment.

All told, the world's barrier islands measure about 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometers) in length. They are found along all continents except Antarctica and in all oceans, and they make up roughly 10 percent of the Earth's continental shorelines. The northern hemisphere is home to 74 percent of these islands. (read more)

China must set Ai Weiwei free: Salman Rushdie

The communist regime is conducting a brutal purge and jailing human rights activists – including its most famous artist, Ai Weiwei, the creator of 'Sunflower Seeds’. The world should not stand idly by, says Salman Rushdie.

The great turbine hall at London’s Tate Modern gallery, a former power station, is a notoriously difficult space for an artist to fill with authority. Its immensity can dwarf the imaginations of all but a select tribe of modern artists who understand the mysteries of scale, of how to say something interesting when you also have to say something really big. Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider once stood menacingly in this hall; Anish Kapoor’s Marsyas, a huge, hollow trumpet-like shape made of a stretched substance that hinted at flayed skin, triumphed over it majestically.

Last October the leading Chinese artist Ai Weiwei covered the floor with his Sunflower Seeds installation: one hundred million tiny porcelain objects, each hand-made by a master craftsman, no two identical. Sunflower Seeds is a carpet of life, multitudinous, inexplicable, and in the best Surrealist sense, strange. The seeds were intended to be walked on, but further strangeness followed. It was discovered that when trampled they gave off a fine dust that could damage the lungs. These symbolic representations of life could, it appeared, be dangerous to the living. The exhibit was cordoned off and visitors had to walk carefully around the perimeter.

Art can be dangerous. Very often artistic fame has proved dangerous to artists. Ai Weiwei’s work is not polemical – like the Sunflower Seeds, it tends towards the mysterious – but his immense public prominence (he was a co-designer of the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the Beijing Olympics, and was recently ranked at 13 in Art Review magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful figures in art) has allowed him to take up human rights cases and to draw attention to China’s often inadequate responses to disasters (the plight of the child victims of the Sichuan earthquake or those afflicted by the huge fire at Jiaozhou Road, Shanghai). He has embarrassed the authorities and been harassed by them before, but now they have gone on the offensive against him. (read more)

Jerome Corsi book to reveal Obama's "true" identity?

This year's high stakes publishing project quietly went to press this week, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

After years of research and digging by the nation's top private investigators, here it comes:

"WHERE'S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President."

The street date is a LONG month away, and author Jerome Corsi, the man who torpedoed John Kerry's presidential dreams with SWIFT BOAT, has gone underground and is holding his new findings thisclose.

"It's utterly devastating," reveals a source close to the publisher. "Obama may learn things he didn't even know about himself!" (read more)

Obama Skips Tornado Destruction, Heads West to Raise Money

President Obama is opting not to visit the tornado-ravaged areas of the South, choosing instead to embark today on a three day tour out West where he will try to boost his political standing by talking up his approach to the deficit and raise millions for himself and fellow Democrats.

The tornadoes, part of a storm that rampaged though six states Saturday, resulted in one of the worst disasters of any kind in the United States since the Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Scores were left injured or homeless while 45 people were killed – about four times as many as died in the Gulf oil rig explosion and the subsequent oil spill last year. In North Carolina alone, there were nearly two-dozen storm-related deaths Saturday, with 130 homes destroyed and an estimated 700 more damaged.

Not only is Obama staying away from the region, he has said almost nothing publicly about the tragedy beyond an interview with a North Carolina TV station and a very brief mention at a White House prayer breakfast. The president has failed to make the kind of national, attention-getting public statement presidents offer during crises to comfort victims by expressing the condolences of the nation and to seek charitable aid.

Sunday, he went golfing. On Monday, he did sign a disaster declaration for North Carolina, which will free up federal assistance to the state. (read more)

NASA "losing" large amounts of high-tech equipment -- it "vanished"

In June, NASA’s space shuttle program will take its last flight. The Action News I-Team has uncovered some problems NASA is facing on the ground.

NASA reports obtained by the I-Team show $479,108 dollars worth of high-tech equipment simply vanished at Kennedy Space Center in 2010. I-Team reporter Michael George showed the employee lost property reports to Suzanne Pedone of Inventory Management Solutions. Companies hire IMS to keep track of their inventory and prevent items from falling through the cracks. Pedone says the agency needs to address the problem.

“Something’s broke in the system. It appears that there isn’t really a process working year after year, and it’s probably going to continue to get worse,” she said.

None of the lost equipment is reported to contain classified information. But it is expensive. The items include a video record valued at more than $100,000, 11 radios totaling $35,000, and a wave reflectometer, used to check for breaks in electrical wiring, was lost in 2008, costing $18,000. (read more)

Constance Palmer, 62, Charged After Armed Standoff At Home to Defend Against Eviction

A 62-year-old woman has been charged with menacing a police officer after authorities say she pointed a weapon at sheriff's deputies attempting to serve her with an eviction notice at her Hudson Valley home.

The Dutchess County Sheriff's Office says a more than five-hour standoff ensued Tuesday morning when deputies tried to serve a court-ordered eviction notice at Constance Palmer's home in Hyde Park.

Authorities say she refused to come outside and pointed a weapon through a window. After Palmer surrendered around 2:45 p.m., police learned that the weapon was a BB gun that had been altered to make it look like a shotgun. (read more)

Libya rebels will receive $25 million from U.S. -- despite terrorist warnings

Dismissing concerns over possible links between Libyan rebels and al Qaeda, the Obama administration has notified Congress it is providing $25 million in nonlethal aid to the rebels’ effort to drive Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime from power.

“The president’s proposed actions would provide urgently needed nonlethal assistance to support efforts to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack in Libya,” said Joseph E. Macmanus, acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, in an April 15 letter. A copy of the letter, sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was obtained by The Washington Times.

The new authorization for assistance would cover “vehicles, fuel trucks and fuel bladders, ambulances, medical equipment, protective vests, binoculars, and non-secure radios,” according to a memorandum attached to the letter.

The letter was disclosed as Britain announced it would be sending military trainers and advisers to Libya to help organize opposition troops. The European Union also said it would send an armed force to Libya to protect deliveries of humanitarian aid. (read more)

ACLU: Michigan cops stealing drivers' phone data

The Michigan State Police have started using handheld machines called "extraction devices" to download personal information from motorists they pull over, even if they're not suspected of any crime. Naturally, the ACLU has a problem with this.

The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.

The problem as the ACLU sees it, is that accessing a citizen's private phone information when there's no probable cause creates a violation of the Constitution's 4th Amendment, which protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures.

To that end, it's petitioning the MSP to turn over information about its use of the devices under the Freedom of Information Act. The MSP said it's happy to comply, that is, if the ACLU provides them with a processing fee in excess of $500,000. That's more than $100,000 for each of the five devices the MSP says it has in use. (read more)

iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go -- Privacy fears raised as researchers reveal file on iPhone that stores location coordinates and timestamps

Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010.

"Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been," said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.

Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. "Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any," said Warden. "We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this." (read more)

Military choppers startle downtown Miami

If this was a movie, it could be called Sleepless in Brickell.

Residents in the neighborhood saw and heard several military-style, “pitch-black” helicopters flying around and hovering on top of Brickell buildings Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Turns out that it was a training exercize by Miami-Dade police’s SE Regional Domestic Security Task Force. In other words, a Homeland Security operation, that few other authorities apparently knew about, including the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lt. Russ Tippett, spokesman for the coast guard happens to live in Brickell, and said the choppers didn’t make it easy to sleep, as the drill went on for hours.

“It was extremely loud and annoying,’’ Tippett said, theorizing at first that it may have been a U.S. Customs Operation.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue didn’t know about it, referring media calls to the City of Miami’s Fire Rescue. A spokesman there assumed it was a film shoot.

Sgt. Bill Williams, who oversaw the operation for the Miami-Dade Police Department, was not immediately available for details.

“I couldn’t see them a lot of the time, but I could hear them because there are echoes around the buildings,” said Neilson Paty, who lives in Brickell Bay. “We see helicopters every day, but it was very obvious that these are not tourist or U.S. Coast Guard helicopters.” (read more)

Has Timothy Geithner approved plans for IMF to absorb the Federal Reserve?

There is word on the street that Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, has approved plans for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to absorb the Federal Reserve System with an eye to the IMF becoming a global central bank. A “basket of currencies” (which includes the Chinese renmenbi/yuan) is to be created to replace the dollar as the international currency of trade. Plans are for “the basket” to become America’s new currency.

Is it true? There’s no way to confirm the rumor. The same spark that lit the fire under the rumor also suggests it will not be long in coming. If true, I believe it is an act that borderlines Treason. I’m no lawyer, but it seems to this citizen of the United States that my Constitution (which defines government’s limitations) says the only authority for currency and coinage in this country is the United States Congress.

We must consider the results of having the IMF absorb the Federal Reserve System as part of a Global Central Bank and loss of the United States Dollar as the international currency of trade (which would put this economy over the edge and America, as a nation, into third world status from which it may never re-emerge). Having the IMF absorb the Federal Reserve System isn’t the only solution – and it is a far cry from being the best one!

For years I have told readers that George Herbert Walker Bush’s New World Order would be achieved by establishing a world economic system that can be easily morphed into world government. The IMF absorbing the Federal Reserve System is just one step along that path. (read more)

20 reasons that you need to prepare and store food

The following are 20 signs that you need to prepare and store food.

#1 According to the World Bank, 44 million people around the globe have been pushed into extreme poverty since last June because of rising food prices.

#2 The world is losing topsoil at an astounding rate. The National Academy of Sciences has determined that cropland in the U.S. is being eroded at least 10 times faster than the time it takes for lost soil to be replaced. The U.S. is losing topsoil faster than during the dustbowl of the 1930s.

Read more:

The primary causes are deforestation, overexploitation for fuel wood, overgrazing, agricultural activities and industrialization.

#3 Due to U.S. ethanol subsidies, almost a third of all corn grown in the United States is now used for fuel. This is causing an increase in the price of corn.

#4 Due to a lack of water, some countries in the Middle East find themselves forced to almost totally rely on other nations for basic food staples. For example, it is being projected that there will be no more wheat production in Saudi Arabia by the year 2012. (read more)

Fact or Fictioin: China To Revalue Yuan 10% This Weekend?

Just stated on CNBC.

I have no way to judge that, but if it comes it is both good and bad.

The good: It's about a third of what has to happen, and as a step function it would apply major cooling to the "Chinese miracle" inflation machine. They need to do that too, which makes the rumor plausible. Coming on a long trading weekend here (Good Friday/Passover closes us this week) and on a weekend anyway (China's favored time to do this sort of thing) it would be appropriate both in terms of timing and event.

The bad: While there would be no direct dollar impact from this action since the Yuan is not convertible and thus not part of the $DXY index the indirect effects would be tremendously disruptive in the short term. This has a high probability of forcing corrective actions by The Fed, perhaps even before the futures market reopens Sunday night. The risk for The Fed and United States is that the dollar winds up gapping down by hundreds of pips, perhaps threatening the all-time low. Violation of the all-time low could result in massive pressing of short bets and a possible immediate fiscal crisis. (read more)

David Morgan Analyzes a Dollar Collapse -- ROLLOVER 1981

What’s Really Worrisome About US Treasury Debt: Not Its Rating—Its Interest

Federal Reserve Funds Rate, 2001–2011

So on Monday, Standard & Poor’s cut its ratings outlook for U.S. sovereign debt—and the markets had what can only be described as a tizzy.

Stocks fell—commodities rose—I noticed things were off when my gold ticker shot up a full percentage point in under sixty seconds. Yikes! (Well, actually, as far as my own portfolio goes, it was more like, Yeay!)

Tons of people started scratching their heads, stroking their chins, and pompously wondering What It All Means.

Oh brother. Like Capt. Willard said: The bullshit piles up so fast, you need wings to stay above it. Most of the navel gazing was a waste of time—the lone discussion that I’d recommend was the New York Times’ “Room for Debate”, which more or less summed up smart-money thinking on the S&P announcement. (Paywall, but if you really want to read it, refresh the page, then stop the refresh before the page fully reloads.)

My own thinking is that the whole S&P announcement is meaningless—literally a non-event. (read more)

Tim Hetherington, 'Award winning Journalist' Dies In Misratah - 20th Apr 2011

Award-winning British photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington has been killed in Libya.

The Oscar-nominated photojournalist is reported to have been killed by mortar fire in the city of Misratah.

He had been covering fighting between Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces and Libyan rebels.

He was killed in the only opposition-held city in western Libya, which has come under weeks of relentless shelling by government troops.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are offering consular assistance to the family."

Mr Hetherington, who is reported to have recently married, wrote on his Twitter profile last night, saying: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of Nato." Read More

Janet Richardson, 73, British tourist taken ill on Arctic cruise ship is dropped into icy seas during botched transfer to rescue boat - 20th Apr 2011

A British pensioner was fighting for her life in hospital after she was dramatically dropped into sub-zero sea waters during a bungled rescue attempt from a cruise ship.

Janet Richardson, 73, from Cumbria, was returning from the Northern Lights with her husband George, 78, when she was taken ill with internal bleeding on board the Ocean Countess.

The ship’s captain was so concerned about her condition that he decided she needed urgent medical treatment and would have to be taken to a hospital immediately.

He radioed the authorities on the Norwegian mainland and they launched a rescue operation.

Within minutes a lifeboat had pulled up alongside the Ocean Countess and Mrs Richardson was placed on a stretcher.

But as she was passed from the Ocean Countess to the waiting lifeboat the two boats moved apart from one another and Mrs Richardson was suddenly dropped into the icy sea – which was as cold as -3C (27F).

They then took an astonishing four minutes to pull her to safety. The horrifying events were captured on film by a horrified passenger on the icy deck above. His extraordinary pictures show Mrs Richardson struggling to stay afloat in the freezing water. Read More

Florida Murders: Clip Of 911 Call Released - 20th Apr 2011

A recording of a frantic 911 call made in the moments after two British tourists were gunned down in a crime-ridden Florida street has been released by police.

In the clip, the female caller can be heard telling the operator there is "blood everywhere" as a white man she believes to be dead lays on the ground.

James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, were shot dead in the early hours of Saturday in a "no-go" neighbourhood in the state's Sarasota city.

The recording emerged after Mr Cooper's parents described him as a man whose "humour filled every space".

Police earlier released CCTV images of the two friends in a bar less than 90 minutes before they were killed.

Stanley and Sandra Cooper, from Hampton Lucy, near Warwick, had been on holiday with their son and his friend, staying in an upmarket area of the city. Source

Lawyers say extradition to South Africa for 'bride murder' violates his human rights- What About Anni Dewani's HUMAN RIGHTS? - 20th Apr 2011

The British businessman accused of ordering his wife's murder on honeymoon in South Africa is being compulsorily held at Fromeside Clinic in Bristol under the Mental Health Act.

He is said to be suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder following the shooting of his bride, Anni Dewani, in Cape Town in November.

Although on bail, he will now be virtually imprisoned behind the locked doors, reinforced concrete walls and five-metre perimeter fence of the medium secure hospital, City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London heard.

'Security is effected by staff, he has no ability to leave,' his lawyer, Julian Knowles, told the court during a brief hearing.

The Bristol care home owner was admitted to Fromeside after he was kicked out of The Priory when, according to staff, his behaviour became disruptive and aggressive.

South African authorities are seeking to extradite the 31-year-old for his alleged part in the killing.

But Mr Knowles indicated Dewani's legal team would fight this on the grounds of his poor mental health and prison conditions in South Africa.

He said: 'If it was the case - it plainly is the case - that Mr Dewani is seriously mentally ill and he were sent back to a prison system that simply cannot cope with that level of mental illness, that is a violation of article 3 (of the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment).' Read More

Fact or Fiction - Ancient Aliens ""The Evidence"" - 20th Apr 2011

Suggestion that aliens have made contact with primitive humans, and cites as evidence, Indian Sanskrit texts from around 3000 BC that are suggested to describe flying machines calledVimanas; Egyptian megaliths that are said to show precision cutting work thought to be too advanced for the time; and Jewish Zohar writings that are said to describe a "manna machine" similar tochlorella algae processing of today.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Indian Public Water Supply

Disease-causing bacteria carrying the new genetic resistance to antibiotics, NDM-1, have been discovered in New Delhi's drinking water supply.

A Cardiff University-led team found new strains of resistant bacteria in the Indian capital, including species which cause cholera and dysentery. The findings are the first evidence of the environmental spread of NDM-1, which had previously only been found in hospitals.

The scientists are calling for urgent action by health authorities worldwide to tackle the new strains and prevent their global spread. The Cardiff scientists also highlight the all-round benefits of preventative measures such as better sanitation and appropriate drinking water.

Cardiff scientists were the first to identify the NDM-1 gene which makes bacteria resistant to a large range of antibiotics. Moreover, the NDM-1 gene is carried on mobile DNA called plasmids which can carry up to 13 other antibiotic resistance genes. While most patients with the bacteria have recently been hospitalised in India, some cases have occurred there without recent hospital treatment, prompting the team to test the wider environment. (read more)

McDonald's Hiring Day turns violent -- fights erupt, people run over in cars

Boot camp in Malaysia for effeminate boys slammed

An education department in one Malaysian state is sending effeminate boys to a boot camp to change their behavior, a move that's drawn fire from educators and activists.

The Terengganu state Education Department picked 66 boys for the camp this month, part of a program to help boys deal with identity crises, media in the Asian nation reported.

The camp offers physical training and other activities and is designed to prevent the boys from developing feminine traits, The Star newspaper reported, quoting Razali Daud, the education department's director.

"The boys involved were selected from most schools in the state," Daud is quoted as saying. "They were carefully vetted before a final selection was made."

Daud said there could be big problems for such boys if their behavior was not addressed. He cited a couple of factors contributing to the issue -- parents dressing boys in girl's clothing "as they had really wanted a girl" or boys "surrounded by female siblings."

The move smacks of homophobia to many.

Donna Guest, deputy director of the Asia-Pacific program at Amnesty International, deplored the action, which "feeds into gender stereotyping and homophobia." (read more)

Japan to enforce nuclear evacuation zone, official says

Japan will begin enforcing an often-flouted evacuation order and keep people out of the 20-km zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a top official announced Wednesday.

About 78,000 people have homes in the evacuation zone, and many have been going back to retrieve belongings, and check on farms and businesses in recent weeks.

Animal rescue groups have gone in to get pets for owners who didn't expect to be gone for more than a month, and numerous journalists have ventured inside to document conditions.

All that needs to stop "to guarantee the health and safety of the people," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters Wednesday.

Edano, the government's point man for the crisis, said Tokyo will work with local officials to make plans for closing the zone soon.

He would not elaborate on how the closure would be carried out, but said that families would be allowed to enter the area to get things from their homes under proper protections.

Police are stationed at checkpoints leading into the area currently, but enforcement appears to vary from post to post or officer to officer. (read more)

Texas burning 'from border to border' as wildfires wipe out state

Texas firefighters Wednesday battled blazes that have scorched over one million acres and have been burning for more than a week, according to the Texas Forest Service.

"We're actually seeing Texas burn from border to border. We've got it in west Texas, in east Texas, in north Texas, in south Texas -- it's all over the state," Texas Forest Service spokeswoman April Saginor told CNN Radio. "We've got one in the Dallas area that's four fires that have actually merged together."

Saginor said firefighters from 34 states are now in Texas battling blazes that, over the past two weeks, have destroyed more than 170 homes.

"Some (fires) are over 100,000 acres and they've been burning for over a week, so that's our priority right now," Saginor said, "to put out the big ones."

Firefighter Greg Simmons died Friday trying to extinguish the East Sidwynicks fire in Eastland County. His funeral was scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Cowboy Church in Olden.

Five other volunteer firefighters have been injured by the East Sidwynicks fire, which has burned 3,000 acres. (read more)

Swarming bees kill elderly Texas couple

An elderly Texas couple were killed by bees this week after they apparently tried to remove the insects from a fireplace in a house on a remote ranch, the Valley Morning Star reported Wednesday.

William Steele, 90, died Monday in the house on a ranch outside Hebbronville, Texas, about 100 miles west of Corpus Christi. His wife, Myrtle Steele, 92, died Tuesday after she was flown to a Corpus Christi hospital, the couple's daughter-in-law, Judy Steele, told the newspaper.

Judy Steele told the paper that the bees swarmed when her father-in-law sprayed a hive the insects had built in the small home's fireplace.

Her husband, Richard Steele, was with his parents when the attack occurred, Judy Steele, told the Morning Star. He was also stung but was able to drive several miles to the nearest phone to call emergency services, she said. There is no cell phone service in the remote area, she said.

Jim Hogg County sheriff's deputies responded and told the paper they were able to get Myrtle Steele out of the house.

“We were getting stung in the process, but we were able to place a blanket over her and take her to an awaiting ambulance we did what we could,” the paper quoted Deputy Reyes Espinoza as saying. William Steele died inside, Espinoza said.

Judy Steele said her mother-in-law was stung more than 300 times. (read more)

Prairies flood fears see no relief: Canada

More than 1,000 people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been forced from their homes as flood waters continue to rise, with concerns that the Assiniboine and Red rivers could crest at the same time in Winnipeg.

Both are expected to crest in late April to early May, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said.

The number of evacuees has risen to nearly 800 in Manitoba, with almost 600 provincial and municipal roads affected by flooding and 32 municipalities under states of emergency. Most of the evacuees are from First Nations in central Manitoba.

Wagstaffe said the Red and Assiniboine are now virtually ice-free, but that water levels are rising as crest dates approach. (read more)

GoldNomics - Cash or Gold Bullion: A must-watch video!

Gulf Stream could be threatened by Arctic flush

Rapid warming in the Arctic is creating a new and fast-growing pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean. Measuring at least 7500 cubic kilometres, it could flush into the Atlantic Ocean and slow the Gulf Stream, bringing colder winters to Europe.

The water is mostly coming from melting permafrost and rising rainfall, which is increasing flows in Siberian rivers that drain into the Arctic, such as the Ob and Yenisei. More comes from melting sea ice, says Laura de Steur of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research in 't Horntje, who is tracking the build-up.

Salinity anomalies like this are a regular feature of the Arctic. The last major event occurred in the 1960s. They happen when strong winds circling the Arctic restrict southward water movement. Eventually, the winds falter and the water flushes into the Atlantic through the Fram strait, between Greenland and Europe.

Recent Arctic melting runs the risk of increasing the freshwater build-up, potentially making the consequences of the eventual breakout more extreme, says de Steur. This is the first time that scientists have measured a salinity anomaly in the Arctic in detail, and in time to analyse how the freshwater pool breaks out into the North Atlantic.

De Steur believes the consequences could be more dramatic than in the past, because of how global warming is changing the dynamics of the region. "Sea ice is melting quicker. It is thinner and more mobile, and could exit the Arctic faster. Also more of it will enter the Atlantic as liquid water rather than ice." (read more)

Food Prices and Global Hunger Equal Riots, Civil Wars and Revolution

For those who think there's a real world beyond their video-game trading terminals and bubble-induced "Fed's got my back" commodities speculations comes yet another instance of what will be a long chain reaction of riots and supply disruptions. At this stage, you could probably just spin the globe and point. In the Ivory Coast, violence has erupted and continues to escalate. These disruptions are cumulative. In Ivory Coast's case, disruptions include rubber, cocoa and oil.

Next up may be Nigeria, which is holding an election this month. Nigerian elections are notorious for creating disorder, and now we have magnitude-9 food inflation and hunger on the stage. Ten percent of U.S. oil imports come from Nigeria, and it's the sweet oil variety that can't be substituted.

This chaos isn't about "tear down these walls" and democracy. A basic understanding of hunger and human behavior is in order. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the United Nations puts out a global hunger index (pdf). The most recent was from 2010, well before this year's 45 percent price spike in foodstuffs. According to the IMF, each 10 percent increase in food prices doubles the likelihood of civil disorder, riots or worse by 100 percent [The Food Riot and Revolution Index]. By my math, we are at a four or five-fold increase and still ramping up. In the FAO's scoring, a hunger score above 30 is considered extremely alarming, 20-29 is alarming, and 10-19 is serious. With the massive food inflation, I submit that it's reasonable to add about 10 to the old, quickly outdated (by the day) 2010 number. If you care to argue this point, fine; but add something substantial. Nigeria was 18 in 2010, so this would be in the high 20s today, and at the upper end of the alarming score. Potential hotbed Pakistan was 19 in 2010. (read more)

10,000 shipping containers fall off container ships at sea... each year

Each year, an estimated 10,000 shipping containers fall off container ships at sea. Although many of these containers float at the surface for months, most eventually sink to the seafloor. No one knows what happens to these containers once they reach the deep seafloor.

From March 8 to March 10, 2011, a team of researchers from MBARI and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) will use a robotic submarine to study the biological impacts of a shipping container resting on the seafloor about 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside of Monterey Bay (but still within the boundaries of the sanctuary).

MBARI researchers first discovered this lost container at a depth of about 1,300 meters (4,200 feet) during a marine biology dive in June 2004. Video from MBARI’s submersible clearly showed serial numbers on the side of this container. Sanctuary staff sent these numbers to the U.S. customs agency, which was able to identify the ship that had originally carried the container. (read more)

Three million bank customers ripped off over payment protection insurance in line for payouts worth £4.5bn after High Court victory - 20th Apr 2011

Millions of bank customers mis-sold payment protection insurance will be given the chance to claim compensation after a ruling in the High Court today.

In what was described as a ‘huge victory’ for customers, the banking industry lost its claim that new rules on mis-selling PPI should not be applied retrospectively.

The banks could now be looking at a £4.5billion hit with customers each receiving, on average, £1,500.

However, the ruling could have detrimental effects to all customers as banks try to claw back the huge chunk of money they will have to pay to claimants.

PPI is the insurance sold alongside credit cards, loans and other finance agreements to ensure payments are made if the borrower is unable to make them due to sickness or unemployment.

The insurance is currently the single most complained about product to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which has received more than 200,000 complaints on the issue and finds in favour of consumers in three-quarters of cases.

This is Money, the Mail Online’s sister website, has been campaigning against PPI mis-selling since 2006 and has helped readers win back thousands of pounds in compensation. Read More

'Texas is burning from border to border': Million acres scorched after wildfires blaze for a week. Now towns are put on red alert - 20th Apr 2011

Wildfires raging for more than a week in Texas have so far burned through a million acres of land and show no signs of dying down.

Firefighters continue to battle some 22 separate blazes throughout the state, with some dangerously close to the Oklahoma border. Homes have been gutted, animals killed and hundreds of residents have been forced to leave their homes because of the advancing flames.

One of the wildfires in PK West, Stephens County, increased in size by a staggering 87,238 acres in just one day - a 144 per cent increase.

Even prisons have been emptied in some towns. The drought-stricken state, that experienced its driest March on record, is desperately hoping for the rain that has been forecast in the coming days.

Fire crews from 34 states have now joined the effort to bring the fires under control.

April Saginor, from the Texas Forest Service, told CNN Radio: 'We're actually seeing Texas burn from border to border. We've got it in West Texas, East Texas, in North Texas, in South Texas - it's all over the state.'

'We've got one in the Dallas area that's four fires that have actually merged together.'

She added: 'Some are over 100,000 acres, and they've been burning for over a week, so that's our priority right now, to put out the big ones.' Read More

Nuclear Event - Radioactive spills and breakdown revealed at British nuclear plants - 20th Apr 2011

Leaked report details incidents at three plants during February that were serious enough to be reported to ministers

There have been two spillages of radioactive waste and a breakdown in an emergency cooling system at Britain's nuclear plants in the past three months, according to a report to ministers leaked to the Guardian.

A brown puddle containing plutonium five times the legal safety limit leaked from an old ventilation duct at the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria. This exposed "a number of shortfalls in the design", says the report.

Groundwater at the Torness nuclear power station near Edinburgh was contaminated with radioactive tritium (a form of hydrogen) leaking from two pipelines. At Hartlepool nuclear station on the north-east coast of England, the back-up cooling system was put out of action by a faulty valve.

All three incidents occurred in February this year and are still under investigation by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the government's newly created nuclear safety watchdog. They were sufficiently serious to be reported to ministers under safety guidelines agreed in the wake of the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine 25 years ago.

Disclosure of the incidents could further delay the government's plans for a new programme of nuclear power stations, already being held up by a safety review prompted by the Fukushima accident in Japan. Critics will press for the incidents to be included in the review, being led by the executive head of the ONR, Mike Weightman.

The Guardian has been provided with a copy of a report on the incidents sent to ministers on 18 April by Weightman. It was circulated to the energy secretary, Chris Huhne; the business secretary, Vince Cable; the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman; the employment minister, Chris Grayling; the Scottish secretary, Michael Moore; and the Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond. Read More

Warning of a 'new Vietnam' in Libya as British military advisers go in - 20th Apr 2011

David Cameron was accused last night of risking a Vietnam-style quagmire in Libya by sending military advisers to help the country’s rebels.

The first official deployment of troops on the ground marks a significant escalation in the war and immediately invited charges of ‘mission creep’.

A ten-strong team of intelligence, signals and logistics experts will help set up an opposition headquarters to take on Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.

The Prime Minister approved the move amid frustration that Nato’s no-fly zone has failed to shield civilians properly.

But Libyan deputy foreign minister Khalid Kaim branded the move an ‘act of war’ and senior MPs and former commanders warned of echoes of America’s first steps in Vietnam.

They said Britain risked getting bogged down in Libya for years and one demanded a recall of Parliament.

‘The danger of putting advisers on the ground is that you are making it crystal clear that you are supporting the rebels and stoking up a civil war,’ he added.

‘It is sad that we don’t appear to think we can bring sufficient pressure on Gaddafi to leave him isolated without having to up the ante in terms of supporting the opposition with military advice.’

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: ‘It must not be seen as a first instalment of further military deployment.

‘Vietnam began with an American president sending military advisers. We must proceed with caution.’ A senior government source denied the claim of mission creep, saying: ‘At most it is mission twitch.’ Read More

Italy says it will send military instructors to train rebels in Libya - 20th Apr 2011

ROME — Italy announces it is sending military instructors to train rebels in Libya.
More to Follow.......

France to send military liaison officers to Libya - 20th Apr 2011

France will send military liaison officers to Libya to support opposition rebels that are locked in a conflict with Muammar Gaddafi's army, government spokesman Francois Baroin said on Wednesday.

"There will be a small number of liaison officers (placed) with the national transition council in order to organise the protection of the civilian population," Baroin told a news briefing, stressing that there was still no intention of sending foreign troops into the North African country.

He said the number of French liaison officers would be in single digits Source

Macabre Facebook profiles created for 'Craigslist Ripper' and dead Atlantic City prostitutes - 20th Apr 2011

A sick hoaxer has created Facebook profiles of the eight named prostitutes found murdered in Long Island and Atlantic City, linking them together with another as yet unrelated murdered woman.

The blank profiles of the four identified prostitutes discovered on a Long Island beach in December - all thought to be victims of the 'Craigslist ripper', have been created with four other prostitutes found dead in Atlantic city in 2006, who are all linked as 'friends' on the site.

And in a macabre message, the four profiles for the Atlantic City women have posted on a tribute page dedicated to murdered political secretary Anne Marie Fahey, who was killed in 1996.

Someone posing as Kim Raffo recently posted on Mrs Fahey's Facebook memorial page: 'I didn't know you but I feel a strong connection to you. You are an Angel.'

The other Atlantic City prostitute profiles left several messages on the same Fahey memorial page, calling her an 'angel.'

On January 29, Tracy Roberts' profile posted 'We are all angels,' on the tribute site.

Then Molly Jean Dilts profile then made the suggestion that, 'we were all killed by the Capano's.

'We are still waiting for justice. We were found in November 2006 in Mays Landing, NJ.'

Immediately beneath Dilts' comment, a blank Facebook profile with the name 'Colleen Marie' said: 'They should also be looking at them in connection with 4 . . . girls found in Babylon NY.

'If something happens to me it is because I knew what they did back then and I know what did to you girls. I think I'm next.' Read More

Japan says there is no fear of a nuclear meltdown at the Daiichi power plant. - 19th Apr 2011

Lawyer Andrew Laycock Caught with almost 6,000 child porn pictures 'fantasised on MSN chat about underage sex' and WALKS FREE - 20th Apr 2011

A former council boss caught with almost 6,000 child pornography images fantasised with adults on internet chatrooms about having sex with children, a court has heard.

Lawyer Andrew Laycock, the former Head of Legal Services at Hertfordshire County Council, chatted with other paedophiles on MSN messenger.

But yesterday the 59-year-old escaped jail after a judge heard that he had been attending courses to help him overcome his long-term perversion.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw told St Albans Crown Court that police armed with a search warrant raided the home Laycock shared with his wife and two step sons in Hertford at 6.45 in the morning on June 22 last year.

Laycock, who had answered the door, said he was responsible for the images.

His Apple Mac computer was analysed and found to contain images, mostly of young girls aged between ten and 14.

Some 4,634 were at Level 1, 121 at Level 2, 516 at Level 3, 370 at Level 4 and 79 at Level 5 - the most serious level. All were images and none were movies. In all there were 5,720 images.

In a police interview Laycock confessed that his dark secret had gone on since he was a teenager.

'He said he had interacted with other adults on MSN messenger and had talked to other adults about having sex with children. He admitted the fantasies involved children as young as seven or eight, ' said Mr Shaw.

Laycock had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 17 counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing more than 5,700 indecent images during June last year. Read More

Second massive Southland fish die-off has scientists looking for links - 20th Apr 2011

Six tons of sardines were found dead in Ventura Harbor on Monday, following a similar incident in Redondo Beach. Both groups died of oxygen deprivation, but what drove them into the harbors is a mystery.

Marine officials were trying to determine Tuesday what caused thousands of sardines to turn up dead in Ventura Harbor, the second mass fish die-off in local marinas in as many months.

Roughly 6 tons of the small silvery fish were found floating in the harbor early Monday. Officials said their initial theory is that the sardines died after using up all the oxygen in a corner of the harbor.

The scene in Ventura Harbor — crews churning up the water with aerators and volunteers scooping nets full of fish up from the surface — was reminiscent of the cleanup effort in Redondo Beach six weeks ago when officials discovered a thick blanket of dead sardines coating King Harbor.

Scientists are looking into whether the two die-offs share a common cause.

A spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game said a warden visited the harbor and concluded the die-off was the result of oxygen deprivation, not water pollution, toxins or algae blooms — the usual causes of fish kills. Read More

Fighters and civilians escape the besieged Libyan city of Misrata in small fishing boats and larger ferries. - 19th Apr 2011

Fukushima Nuke robots find conditions inside stricken Japanese power plant are 'sauna-like' - 20th Apr 2011

The bid to restore safe conditions to the crippled Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant has been hampered by a discovery of searing heat, it has emerged.

Cooling systems at the plant were damaged on March 11 after a huge tsunami hit Japan following an earthquake, killing thousands and sparking the most severe nuclear crisis since Chernobyl..

Almost 80,000 people in the surrounding area have been evacuated as plant owners seek to resolve the crisis and the clean-up effort could be delayed after robots found temperatures comparable to a sauna in the second reactor.

A Packbot probe sent in yesterday found temperatures up to 41 degrees Celsius and humidity ranging from 94 to 99 per cent, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said today.

Despite fears over the high temperature, the robot also recorded lower radiation levels than in the damaged No 1 and No 3 reactor buildings.

News of the high temperatures in the plant came as TEPCO began pumping the first of the contaminated liquid from the plant into a special storage tank. Read More

Say cheese: 'America's toughest Sheriff' lets public rate mugshots online - 20th Apr 2011

He is known for dressing inmates in pink underwear and feeding them green baloney.

And now America's toughest Sheriff has come up with a new initiative to give the public a voice in law enforcement - an online Mugshot of the Day competition.

Arizona-based Joe Arpaio, known for his uncompromising stance on crime, is letting the public browse through the mugshots of those arrested each day and then vote for their favourite.

The Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff says he hopes the increased Web traffic will highlight the work of his employees.

He also says more crimes may be uncovered if the public can view the photos.

The top picks so far aren't unexpected: They're the most dishevelled, unusual looking people among those booked into an Arizona jail.

And while the new scheme may be controversial, it has the overwhelming backing of those using the site, with 4102 out of the 4964 people who have voted so far agreeing with Arpaio. Read More

Kathy Michelle Coy used a stun gun on Jamie Stice, before slashing her wrists and throat and cutting her baby out' - 20th Apr 2011

The woman accused of ripping an unborn baby from her friend's womb is said to have first used a stun gun to subdue her before tying her up and slitting her throat and wrists with a drywall knife.

Kentucky State police investigator Detective Chad Winn testified today in Warren County District Court that Kathy Michelle Coy told 21-year old Jamie Stice they were going shopping for baby supplies on the day she allegedly attacked her.

She later allegedly cut the baby out of her friend's abdomen.

Coy, 33, is said to have then arrived at a friend's house in her car without any pants on, with the victim's uterus, ovaries and placenta with her, holding the baby boy and claiming she had just given birth.

Jamie Stice's body was found face down on the ground, disembowelled with her hands tied behind her back the next day.

Her family ran from the courtroom when this part of the detective's testimony was read out.

In further testimony today, the detective said that Coy had asked her teenage son to help her commit murder but when he refused she said she was just joking. Read More

Revealed: the man who faced down a devastating tornado to make THAT amazing storm video (well he is a former marine) - 20th Apr 2011

The last thing most people would want to do as a tornado approaches is just sit there and watch it come straight at them.

But that’s exactly what a cool-as-a-cucumber North Carolina man did as he caught one of the devastating 241 tornadoes to hit the U.S. last week on video while sat in a car park.

Steven Hoag’s video was taken in a Walgreens car park in Wilson while he was calmly on the phone to his sister and has now received more than 285,000 hits on YouTube.

Despite a humongous tornado passing extremely close by him and ripping apart buildings just metres away, he never got scared and just gave his sister a running commentary of what was unfolding.

Mr Hoag is a motorbike enthusiast from Middlesex who works as a traffic signal technician for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

He left his home to repair a traffic light during bad weather on Saturday but while he was driving his truck he saw a tornado and there was nowhere safe to go.

Mr Hoag pulled into a car park and saw the tornado moving away from him, so started to record it and call his sister, before it turned and moved straight towards him. Read More

'Lethal' Nail Bomb Posted To Celtic Manager - 20th Apr 2011

Police are hunting a nail bomber who has sent several potentially lethal devices to prominent people connected with Celtic Football Club - including manager Neil Lennon.

The devices were addressed to the team boss, a high-profile lawyer and also to a member of the Scottish Parliament.

Strathclyde Police say the packages, sent through the post, were designed to "maim or kill".

They contained a combination of nails and high explosives.

It is believed devices have been sent on at least three separate occasions.

On March 26, a package was posted Mr Lennon.

However, it was intercepted at a sorting office at Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow.

Initially, it was thought to have been a hoax, but further analysis revealed the device was viable.

Two days later, a device was delivered to the office of Labour MSP Trish Godman.

It is understood that the package did reach the office and an employee raised the alarm when nails were seen protruding from it.

Mrs Godman is the outgoing Deputy Presiding Officer in the Scottish Parliament. Read More