Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Friday, September 23, 2011

Michael Moore Threatens The Rich: Let's "Deal With It Nonviolently Now"

"The smart rich know they can only build the gate so high. And, and, sooner or later history proves that people when they've had enough aren’t going to take it anymore. And much better to deal with it nonviolently now, through the political system, than what could possibly happen in the future, which nobody wants to see," Michael Moore said on Current TV's "Countdown" program.

Moore was alluding to riots, which he was discussing with "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann prior to his comment to deal with things nonviolently now. watch video

NASA confirms UFOs around shuttle and ISS

Fukushima: BBC Debunked (Must watch; goes to show how we must always question everything put before us)

Rundown bridge becomes emblem for Obama's jobs push (Perhaps it could also be built in China to save a few dollars?)

A dilapidated bridge over the Ohio River becomes the latest prop in President Barack Obama's push for jobs on Thursday as he takes a campaign for more spending into the backyard of his political foes.

The Brent Spence Bridge, connecting the home states of the two top Republicans in Congress, is a vital traffic route between northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. Republicans have mocked Obama's trip as political theater.

But the 830-foot (253-meter) bridge has been officially designated as "functionally obsolete" and Obama hopes it will help him illustrate why Congress should back billions of dollars in job-creating infrastructure investment.

Obama, a Democrat, wants Congress to pass a $447 billion jobs bill he unveiled this month to kick-start growth and hiring essential to improving his hopes for re-election in November 2012.

A majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy and his opinion poll numbers have slipped amid worries the country could slip back into recession, with fresh jitters exposed on Thursday as global stock markets slumped. more

European markets slump to 26-month closing low

European shares slumped to a 26-month closing low on Thursday after a gloomy economic outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve and weak data from China and Europe spooked investors.

The Fed said overnight, it now saw "significant" downside risks to the economy. Chinese manufacturing shrunk for the third straight month and the euro zone service sector posted a shock contraction.

While the sell off was widespread, with no gainers across the FTSEurofirst 300 , cyclical stocks seen most at risk in recession, were among the worst hit.

"Global growth worries today are even more prominent than the sovereign crisis; and that's not because sovereign crisis risk has diminished, it's because global growth worries have clearly increased," said Patrick Moonen, equity strategist at ING Investment Management.

By the close, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading blue-chip shares was down 4.7 percent at 875.30 points, wiping $270 billion off its market capitalisation, nearly half the size of the euro zone sovereign rescue fund. more

Bernanke's twist may do little for jobs

The Federal Reserve's latest effort to push down long-term U.S. borrowing costs may not do much for the central bank's main worry -- persistently high unemployment that could leave lasting scars on the economy.

Economists say they are increasingly anxious that the 9.1 percent jobless rate in the United States could become entrenched. Those out of work for a long period face a vicious cycle as their skills atrophy and their job market connections wane, sidelining them and chipping away at the U.S. economy's capacity to produce.

"The Fed is doing all that it can to stimulate the demand side of the economy in an environment where 'all that it can do' is 'not very much,'" said Mark Setterfield, an economics professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

He is the author of a book on persistently high unemployment, sometimes known as hysteresis.

The term is borrowed from physics, where it is used to describe a temporary effect that becomes permanent, even when whatever triggered the initial effect is removed. In the labour market, it is used to describe a self-feeding cycle where even after demand returns, unemployment remains high. more

Congress heads to another budget showdown

A sharply divided Congress careened toward another high-stakes budget battle on Thursday as lawmakers remained at odds over a bill that would help disaster victims and keep the government open.

Even in the face of rock-bottom approval ratings, the dispute suggested that Democrats and Republicans may not be able to bridge their differences to pass even the most essential legislation.

The House of Representatives and the Senate must replenish a disaster-relief fund that could run dry on Monday during one of the most extreme years for weather in U.S. history.

Lawmakers also must approve a stopgap spending bill to keep the government fully functioning beyond October 1 while lawmakers continue to debate a full budget.

Yet the Republican-led House rejected a bill that would do just that on Wednesday after Democrats and Tea Party-aligned Republicans voted against it, albeit for opposite reasons.

Republican leaders planned to try again on Thursday after tweaking the bill to zero out a loan for the bankrupt solar-panel firm Solyndra, which has drawn scrutiny for its ties to the Obama administration.

That could garner enough Republican support to pass the House. But Senate Democrats declared it dead on arrival. more

Typhoon isolates 472 people in disaster-hit Tohoku: Japan

In Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, people living in temporary housing were isolated overnight on Wednesday due to flooding caused by a powerful typhoon.

Typhoon Roke hit wide areas of Japan on Wednesday, including Onagawa Town and other areas in the Tohoku region that were devastated by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

As a river was flooding, evacuation instructions were issued to 472 people, or 170 families living in temporary housing since the quake disaster.

But they could not reach the designated location on higher ground because the access road was flooded.

They spent the night in a nearby community center until Ground Self-Defense Force personnel entered the area early Thursday morning.

A 66-year-old man said people looked scared as they were stranded at the community center through the night. source

Pakistan bomb kills anti-Taliban militiamen

Powerful roadside bomb targeting an anti-Taliban militia ripped through a pick-up vehicle in Pakistan's tribal belt on Thursday killing at least five people, government officials said.

The blast badly damaged the pick-up in a remote village close to the Afghan border, in the northwestern district of Bajaur, where Pakistani troops have been fighting for years to dislodge Taliban militants.

"It was a planted IED (improvised-explosive device) which exploded when the vehicle passed. Five people have been killed and eight others were wounded," Adalat Khan, a government official in Chamarkand village, said by phone.

"Three of those who died are members of an anti-Taliban militia and one is a 10-year-old boy. The fifth one is the driver." more

Papandreou tells Greeks ‘don’t waste sacrifices’ -- Yeah, right

Amid a one-day transport strike in Greece, a few thousand students and teachers joined the protest against austerity measures by marching through Athens.

They are opposed to education reforms that will see some institutions merged.

The strikes and demonstrations come a day after the government announced another round of spending cuts.

Prime Minister George Papandreou is on a drive to win over not just opponents but his own party. His message as he welcomed MPs from the Greek islands: there is no alternative.

“No other road exists, any other road would mean bankruptcy and serious consequences for every household, for every Greek. So that’s why we’re making this big effort and it would be very negative to abandon it: the sacrifices we’ve already made would be lost,” he said.

Transport was severely disrupted as workers went on strike against the belt-tightening plan designed to save Greece from bankruptcy. more

Twin blasts in Russia kill policeman, injure scores

Twin explosions killed a police officer and injured dozens of others as well as civilians in Russia's southern city of Makhachkalay, officials said Thursday.

The explosions within metres (yards) of each other rocked the capital of the North Caucasus region of Dagestan after midnight and went off about 500 metres from the offices of Dagestan's interior ministry, a representative of Makhachkala police told AFP.

"A police lieutenant died, and about 60 people went to the hospital," he said. "The first blast was to attract attention, and the second was directed (at people) as the area was being closed off," he added.

The second bomb was planted in a car and the blast was equivalent to about 35 kilogrammes (80 pounds) of TNT, he said.

The latest blasts followed an explosion in the same city late Wednesday when three people were killed in a car while apparently transporting a bomb, wounding several bystanders.

In another region of Dagestan, several people assaulted a local police chief in the town of Buinaksk Thursday morning, killing his two bodyguards. "They stopped his car as he was going to work and opened fire from machine guns," a police representative in Buinaksk, which lies about 30 kilometres southwest of Makhachkala, told AFP. The chief, a police colonel, was unharmed. more

CIA Says Global-Warming Intelligence Is ‘Classified’

Two years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency announced it was creating a center to analyze the geopolitical ramifications of “phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts and heightened competition for natural resources.”

But whatever work the Center on Climate Change and National Security has done remains secret.

In response to National Security Archive scholar Jeffrey Richelson’s Freedom of Information Act request, the CIA said all of its work is “classified.”

“We completed a thorough search for records responsive to your request and located material that we determined is currently and properly classified and must be denied in its entirety,” (.pdf) Susan Viscuso, the agency’s information and privacy coordinator, wrote Richelson.

Richelson, in a Thursday telephone interview from Los Angeles, said the CIA has not released anything about its climate change research, other than its initial press release announcing the center’s founding.

“As far as I know, they have not released any of their products or anything else,” Richelson said. “There was a statement announcing its creation and that has been pretty much it.” more

Signs of China slowdown add to dim global outlook

Signs that the powerhouse Chinese economy is slowing have spooked global markets and sharpened fears that the world economy will not escape another recession, so much so that a small, preliminary survey of Chinese manufacturers contributed to a global stock market plunge this week.

However, analysts said Friday that the dramatic fallout from a preliminary reading of HSBC's index of manufacturing for September far exceeded the data's importance. And while the world's No. 2 economy is slowing as expected, they said, growth will remain relatively strong.

If nothing else, the market rout that began Thursday and continued Friday reflects how much the rest of the world is relying on China, one of the few big economies that is expanding at a rapid clip, to stave off recession.

HSBC's preliminary survey, released about a week before the final survey is due, showed a two-month low of 49.4. That followed an August reading of 49.9, and anything under 50 indicates that activity is contracting.

Coming alongside weak indicators from other major economies, the data prompted panicked selling by global investors afraid that governments hamstrung by debt crises, inflation and unemployment may be unable to avert a recession. more

Majority in U.S. Continues to Distrust the Media, Perceive Bias

The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 44% of Americans who have a great deal or fair amount of trust and the 55% who have little or no trust remain among the most negative views Gallup has measured.

The majority of Americans (60%) also continue to perceive bias, with 47% saying the media are too liberal and 13% saying they are too conservative, on par with what Gallup found last year. The percentage of Americans who say the media are "just about right" edged up to 36% this year but remains in the range Gallup has found historically.

Partisans continue to perceive the media very differently. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are "just about right," at 57% and 42%, respectively. Moderates and independents diverge, however, with 50% of independents saying the media are too liberal and 50% of moderates saying they are just about right. more

Subway Crime Up 17 Percent in New York: US

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A recent string of subway attacks in New York City, including the robbery and attempted rape of a woman on the F train Thursday, are part of a citywide crime spike underground, according to officials.

Crime in the subways is up 16.6 percent over the same period last year, according to the NYPD.

Much of the rise in crime is being attributed to grand larcenies, but women who travel on the trains late at night or early in the morning say they are also concerned bout attacks.

"It's definitely less safe," said Emmaly Salazar, who rides the subway from her Brooklyn home late at night to get to work. "The F train is empty and I don't see any police around here."

Anyone who may be able to identify the suspect pictured above is asked to call Crime stoppers at 800-577-8477. Salazar's subway stop is Fort Hamilton Parkway, the site of a recent underground assault. more

Spike In Violent Crime In Denver: US

Murders in Denver are up 138.5 percent for the first eight months of this year, armed assaults have risen 9.1 percent compared to the same time last year and simple assaults have risen 6.7 percent in the first eight months of 2011, according to the Denver Police Department’s statistics for 2011.

“So yeah, we believe it’s a problem and we’re working on it but it’s nothing to alarm people and make them believe they live in an unsafe city,” said Denver Police spokesperson Lt. Matt Murray.

The statistics cover crimes from January through the end of August and show a citywide rise in crimes against persons of 4.3 percent compared to the same period in 2010.

Murray and other police officials argue that their own statistics are skewed because 2010 was a comparatively low crime year with an abnormally low number of homicides. He said Denver crime stats viewed over a longer period of time would not be so alarming. But he acknowledges the year to year numbers are eye-catching.

“There’s 105 more serious assaults — that’s a problem,” said Murray. ”When we see an 8 to 9 percent spike, that’s something we are looking at.” more

Mother Disciplined After Confronting Son’s Bullies

A mother who confronted two boys who bullied her 10-year-old son has been banned from her son’s Minneapolis school and even her son’s bus stop for the rest of the year.

Tanya Sydney said she does not regret taking actions into her own hand to keep her son from being a victim.

Last week, fifth-grader Sovante Griffin told his Mom and Stepdad he was being bullied on the school bus. Sydney said he told her boys were hitting him, so she took matters into her own hands. She went to the bus stop the next day and confronted the bus driver.

“He told me ‘I am doing the best I can, I can’t be in 50 million places at once,’” Sydney said.

She then got on the bus and yelled at the two boys that Griffin said were the bullies.

“Specifically to the two boys I said you need to keep your hands to yourselves,” she said.

The driver ordered her off the bus. She and Griffin then walked to Lake Nokomis Community School. Sydney said when she and Griffin got to school they were met by the school’s police liaison officer, the principal and a transportation supervisor. more

House approves stopgap funding, Reid says Senate will block: New government shutdown looming in near future?

The House early Friday narrowly approved a stopgap spending measure to keep the federal government running through Nov. 18, as Republican leaders secured the votes of conservatives who had rejected a similar bill a day earlier.

The 219-203 vote sets up a confrontation with the Senate, where Democratic leaders have vowed to block the measure in a dispute over federal disaster aid.

For Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the vote was little more than a mulligan. After 48 Republicans opposed his bill on Wednesday, he faced a choice: Scrap a spending cut to win over Democrats who had pulled their support for the bill, or persuade dissenting conservatives that the original bill was the best deal they could get.

Boehner chose his right flank, adding a sweetener in the form of a $100 million rescission to the loan guarantee program that funded the bankrupt energy company Solyndra.

Twenty-four Republicans opposed the measure, half the number that voted against when it failed on Wednesday. Six Democrats supported it.

Congress must pass a stopgap spending bill by Sept. 30 to avert a government shutdown. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be on recess next week, adding to the urgency of reaching an agreement by the weekend. more

Texas School Punishes Boy for Opposing Homosexuality

An honors student in Fort Worth, Texas, was sent to the principal’s office and punished for telling a classmate that he believes homosexuality is wrong.

Holly Pope said she was “absolutely stunned” when she received a telephone call from an assistant principal at Western Hills High School informing her that her son, Dakota Ary, had been sent to in-school suspension.

“Dakota is a very well-grounded 14-year-old,” she told Fox News Radio noting that her son is an honors student, plays on the football team and is active in his church youth group. “He’s been in church his whole life and he’s been taught to stand up for what he believes.”

And that’s what got him in trouble.

Dakota was in a German class at the high school when the conversation shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. At some point during the conversation, he turned to a friend and said that he was a Christian and “being a homosexual is wrong.” more

Soros: US Is Already in Double-Dip Recession

Billionaire investor George Soros said he believed the United States was already experiencing the pain of a double dip recession and that Republican opposition to Obama's fiscal stimulus plans was to blame for sluggish growth.

Asked by CNBC if he believed the US risks falling into a double-dip recession [cnbc explains] , Soror said: "I think we are in it already."

"We have a slowdown and basically a conflict about whether the rich ought to pay taxes to create jobs or not and there was a deal in the making which would have balanced the budget over the long term, but would have allowed short-term fiscal stimulus, which would have been the right policy," Soros said in an interview late Wednesday.

"That was rejected, it fell apart… so it will come to the electorate next year to decide what they want," he added. more

Fear gauge enters the red zone as Europe's debt risks spiral out of control

Europe's debt crisis risks escalating out of control as the world economy slides towards a double-dip slump with few shock absorbers left to limit the damage.

Key indicators of credit stress have reached the danger levels seen before the Lehman Brothers failure three years ago, with Markit's iTraxx Crossover index – or "fear gauge" – of corporate bonds surging 56 basis points to 857 on Thursday.

Societe Generale led a further rout of bank shares, crashing 9pc in Paris on concern that it might need recapitalisation to cope with losses on Italian and Spanish debt.

The yield spread between Italian 10-year bonds and Bunds reached a fresh record of 408 basis points before the European Central Bank (ECB) intervened in late trading. It is near the level at which LCH.Clearnet raises margin requirements, the trigger that forced Greece, Portugal and Ireland to request bail-outs.

Global investors appear shaken by the refusal of the US Federal Reserve to come to the rescue yet again with quantitative easing (QE3) even though it was never likely the bank would launch fresh stimulus with core inflation running near 2pc or in the face of protests from Capitol Hill.

The global flight from risk has hit Europe hardest. Peter Possing Andersen from Danske Bank said Europe’s authorities are running out of time. “The financial markets have lost faith in the current policies and the economy is on the verge of a recession. Radical action is needed to short-circuit the negative spiral,” he said. more

Scientists: Particles appear to travel faster than light -- Was Einstein wrong?

Scientists in Switzerland say an experiment appears to show that tiny particles traveled faster than the speed of light -- a result that would seem to defy the laws of nature.

The physicists say that neutrinos sent 730 kilometers (453.6 miles) underground between laboratories in Switzerland and Italy arrived a fraction of a second sooner than they should have, according to the speed of light.

The report was published Friday by a group of researchers working on the so-called Opera experiment, based at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.

"This result comes as a complete surprise," report author Antonio Ereditato at the University of Bern, in Switzerland, said in a statement.

"After many months of studies and cross checks, we have not found any instrumental effect that could explain the result of the measurement."

The scientists on the Opera project would continue their research, he said, but "are also looking forward to independent measurements to fully assess the nature of this observation."

The finding would seem to challenge Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity, and the long-established law of physics that nothing can exceed the speed of light. more

UK medics lead Europe's first embryonic stem cell trial

Doctors at Moorfields Eye hospital in London have been given the go-ahead to carry out Europe's first clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells.

They will inject retinal cells into the eyes of 12 patients with an incurable disease, Stargardt's macular dystrophy, which causes progressive sight loss.

The disease develops in childhood and affects around one in 10,000 people.

It causes the gradual loss of central vision leaving only peripheral sight.

The trial will test the safety of using replacement retinal cells known as retinal pigment epithelial cells, derived from human embryonic stem cells. more

Several groups to protest Bahrain elections: Arab Spring far from over?

Several groups have planned protests ahead of Saturday's parliamentary elections in Bahrain.

The elections are being held to replace 18 seats that were vacated by Al-Wefaq, the country's largest opposition party. The party vacated the seats to protest the treatment of demonstrators during February's unrest in Bahrain.

An opposition group called The February 14 Coalition said it plans to launch protests on Friday and Saturday in the newly named Martyr's Square, the site formerly known as Pearl Roundabout.

"Just like all other freedom loving people living in real democracies across the globe, we, the people of Bahrain have the right to choose the way in which we are governed," the group said.

The Youth Coalition of February 14 announced they will be holding a sit-in demonstration at the same location.

Addressing an opposition rally in Tubli, a village south of Manama, Thursday, Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Al-Wefaq party said, "when we talk about democracy we want democracy like that of Westminster, France, and America, not the democracy of Saddam Hussein, nor the democracy of Zine El Abidine, nor the democracy of Gadhafi." more

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL EAST PACIFIC RISE - 23rd Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck Central East Pacific Rise at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 19:02:48 UTC Friday 23rd September 2011.
The epicenter was 2811 km (1747 miles) Northeast of Adamstown, Pitcairn Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 23rd Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 35 km (21.7 miles), the quake hit at 18:35:11 UTC Friday 23rd September 2011.
The epicenter was 161 km (100 miles) Southeast of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Man Arrested Over Nurofen Drug - 23rd Sept 2011

A 30-year-old man has been arrested by police investigating how packs of Nurofen Plus came to contain anti-psychotic and anti-epileptic drugs.

The man, from Bromley in south London, was detained on suspicion of contamination of goods.

Reckitt Benckiser, who manufacture the drug, issued a recall of the product on August 26 after five boxes were found to contain other medicines.

Four boxes contained Seroqel XL, an anti-psychotic drug and Neurontin, which is used to treat epilepsy was found in another.

Seroquel is a prescription-only drug which can cause sleepiness if taken by people who do not need it.

Neurontin can also cause drowsiness and a lack of co-ordination.

The investigation into the scare is examining the entire Nurofen's entire production process.

More follows...

Fresh flood submerges 600 villages in Orissa, India - 23rd Sept 2011

Flood condition worsened in Orissa on Friday with four major rivers submerging around 600 villages in the state.

Fresh flood in Brahmani, Baitarani, Budhabalang and Subarnarekha rivers following a heavy downpour wrecked havoc in Jajpur, Keonjhar, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Balasore and Mayurbjanj districts, officials said.

"Jajpur was cut off from rest of the state as a portion of 120-year-old bridge on Baitarani river at Sathipur caved in," District Collector Anil Samal said.

"Vast stretches of national highways connecting Panikoili to Keonjhar, Keonjhar-Jashipur and Kamakhyanagar-Bhubana were inundated in flood waters, paralysing vehicular movement," Works Secretary S K Ray said.

Also several state highways in Bhadrak, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Kendrapara and Mayurbhanj were submerged in many places, throwing traffic out of gear. Read More

Tourists airlifted from ancient temple after Cambodian flood - 23rd Sept 2011

Nearly 200 tourists, including several Britons, have been airlifted from a centuries-old temple in Cambodia after an access road was cut off by flash floods.

Three helicopters rescued the holidaymakers stranded at the 10th-century Banteay Srei temple in Angker, just 20 miles from the Angker Wat temple complex, after 16 hours of heavy rain engulfed the road nearby.

It is the first time in Cambodia's recent history helicopters have been used to rescue victims from flooding.

American holidaymaker Brittny Anderson, 26, from Oregon, said she was grateful for local residents who brought food to the stranded tourists as they waited on high ground for the helicopters.

A local tuk-tuk driver, Sayon Sokha, who had transported the group to the site, said: ‘When I was driving my guests to the temple, the water levels were normal, only three hours later water levels had increased rapidly.’

Banteay Srei was built in 967 AD and dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. Read More

Floods hit Mati, 13 towns in Maguindanao, Philippines - 23rd Sept 2011

At least 140 people were displaced and 14 houses were damaged when rampaging floodwaters ravaged through informal settlers living along a riverbank here.

In Maguindanao, 30,127 families were affected by the flood in the province's 13 municipalities, Provincial Government data show.

Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat ordered an immediate evacuation of families living in barangays Riverside Sudlon, Tambiling, Calgundian, and Bilawan 1 and 3.

The flood affected 20 families in Sudlon and 41 families in Tambiling and Bilawan. It destroyed six houses and damaged eight others.

A report from the City Disaster Coordinating Council showed that heavy rains started pouring in the area shortly after noontime on September 22. Four hours later, the Sudlon River started to swell to nearby sub-villages.

Quick response teams from Dreams Rescue Team 166, City Engineers Office, Philippine Red Cross, and General Services Office immediately dispatched emergency vehicles to flooded areas to aid evacuation.

Forty-one families were brought to the city's cultural center and 20 others stay at the Sudlon Chapel. Food packs were distributed to evacuees with the help of Red Cross volunteers. Read More

Protesters riot in China city over land sale: Third day in a row for protests in various Chinese cities

Protests are taking place in a Chinese city for a third day, after two days of reported rioting over a land sale.

Officials said protesters in Lufeng city injured police officers and damaged government buildings during the unrest that began on Wednesday.

A reporter for Reuters news agency who visited Lufeng on Friday said protests were continuing at government offices.

There are tens of thousands of protests each year in China, some of which turn violent.

Many are triggered by local grievances, such as farmers being expelled from their land to make way for development.

One media report said several thousand people had taken part in the violence earlier this week in Wukan village, which is part of Lufeng city, in Guangdong province.

According to the South China Morning Post, protesters targeted a Communist Party building, a police station and an industrial park, amongst others.

They believe that local party officials have sold their land to developers, the daily said. more

Chile students stage mass protest for education

Tens of thousands of students and teachers have marched in the Chilean capital, Santiago, in the latest mass protest to demand educational reform.

The march was largely peaceful, but ended with clashes between riot police and masked youths throwing stones.

The protest movement - now in its fourth month - is the biggest in Chile since the return to democracy in 1990.

The government has promised some reforms, but the students say they do not go far enough.

Protest organisers said around 180,000 people took part in Thursday's march, making it the biggest in several weeks.

Some wore fancy dress or played musical instruments as they marched through Santiago.

As the march drew to a close, small groups wearing hoods threw stones at riot police, who responded with tear gas and water canon. more

IMF economy warnings: Time to panic?

When the dramatic becomes wearisomely familiar, maybe it is time to panic.

With the IMF meeting in Washington we again have a parade of world leaders issuing dire warnings about the state of the economy. Again, they exhort their colleagues to take firm political action, to prevent what is already bad from getting worse.

Christine Lagarde, the new IMF boss, says this is a "dangerous phase" and while there is a path to recovery, it is narrower than three years ago.

She says the US must repair its broken finances and reduce debt, while balancing that with growth creation.

This feels like a critical moment. Not simply today, nor this week, but the next few months will be a test of political systems in Europe and the US.

The short-term problem is that just talking about all this makes it worse, as we've seen with the Federal Reserve's attempt to "twist".

Dr Fed decided that the patient was more seriously ill than we'd thought. So he came up with new stronger medicine. The problem is that the markets, like relatives around the sickbed, heard the diagnosis with alarm and discounted the new prescription. more

Scientists have gained new knowledge into how viruses such as flu and HIV jump between species

The research, by Edinburgh and Cambridge universities, should help predict the appearance of new diseases.

The scientists wanted to understand how viruses such as bird flu infect distant species like humans.

They found they were better able to infect species closely related to their typical target species than species that were distantly related.

However, the research also suggested that when diseases make a big leap they may then spread easily in species closely related to the new victim, regardless of how closely related these are to the original target species.

Dr Ben Longdon, of Edinburgh University's school of biological sciences, who led the study, said: "Emerging diseases such as Sars, HIV and some types of flu have all got into humans from other species.

"Understanding how diseases jump between different species is essential if we want to predict the appearance of new diseases in the future." more

Banana thrown at Flyers' Simmonds in pre-season game

Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds says he has experienced racism throughout his life and hopes what happened during a shootout loss against the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night in London, Ont., wasn't another example of it.

The rangy forward, who scored in the last minute of regulation play to send the exhibition game into overtime and ultimately a shootout, took the first shot of the tie-breaker and admitted a bit of shock when a banana came flying into his path as he zeroed in on Detroit netminder Jordan Pearce.

"I don't know if it had anything to do with the fact I'm black," the Toronto native said. "I certainly hope not. When you're black, you kind of expect [racist] things. You learn to deal with it."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement Friday calling the incident "stupid and ignorant."

"We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our players and for the game," Bettman said. "The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ont." more

B.C. teen dies from apparent meningitis -- are cases rising?

A Grade 10 student in Surrey, B.C. has died from what health authorities say is most likely meningitis.

The unnamed 15-year-old boy died last weekend. Clayton Heights Secondary School sent students home with a letter on Wednesday about the death, said Roy Thorpe-Dorward, a spokesman for the Fraser Health Authority.

The boy most likely died due to a bacterial meningococcal infection, he said on Thursday. Health officials were waiting for a confirmation from tests.

"We're trying to reassure parents and students and staff that although there has been a case that appears to be meningitis, it's an isolated incident," said Doug Strachan, a spokesman for the Surrey School District.

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain, and can affect the lining of the brain or cause a blood infection. It can lead to brain damage or death.

The symptoms are flu-like, including fever, a severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, confusion, vomiting and a sensitivity to bright lights. They also include a reddish-purple, tiny, bruise-like rash. more

Palestinians make statehood bid at UN today

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is due to submit his bid to the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state.

He is expected to present a letter in the next few hours requesting admission to the UN shortly before addressing the General Assembly to argue the case.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to speak soon after, and is expected to denounce the move.

Israel and the US oppose it, saying a Palestinian state can only be achieved through talks with Israel.

President Barack Obama told Mr Abbas on Thursday that the US will use its UN Security Council veto to block the move, but Mr Abbas vowed to press ahead with the bid.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, Palestinians are preparing for mass rallies to coincide with the submission of the bid.

Giant TV screens have been set up in several cities so that people can watch Mr Abbas's General Assembly speech, expected at 16:30 GMT.

"I am going to listen to Abbas's speech because it will tell us our future and our destiny, and we are expecting so much from him, to declare our state," Khalil Jaberi, a 21-year-old university student in the city of Hebron, told the Associated Press news agency. more

China police detain firefighter Li Hao over 'sex slaves' in basement

Police in China have detained a man on suspicion of imprisoning and raping six women in a basement for two years and of killing two of them.

Reports said the man, 34-year-old firefighter Li Hao, had dug two rooms underneath the basement he bought in Luoyang city, Henan, four years ago.

He then kidnapped the women, all of whom are said to have worked in nightclubs or bars.

He was arrested after he let one of the women leave and she went to police.

Police confirmed that they had arrested Mr Li on 6 September and that an investigation was ongoing.

The Southern Metropolis Daily reported that the women were held in a cellar four metres (12ft) below the basement in a residential district of the city.

The newspaper said that Mr Li repeatedly raped the women and only gave them food every two days to keep them weak.

The women were only allowed to leave when he needed them to sleep with other men for cash, it said, and this was how one of the women, a 23-year-old, managed to escape.

When she guided police to the basement, they found three more women.

They also found the bodies of two women buried in a shallow grave in the corner of the cellar.

Mr Li, who is reportedly married with a wife and child, was arrested as he tried to leave the city. more

Michael Faherty: 'First Irish case' of death by spontaneous combustion

A man who burned to death in his home died as a result of spontaneous combustion, an Irish coroner has ruled.

It is believed to be the first case of its kind in Ireland.

West Galway coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin said it was the first time in 25 years of investigating deaths that he had recorded such a verdict.

Michael Faherty, 76, died at his home at Clareview Park, Ballybane, Galway on 22 December 2010.

An inquest in Galway on Thursday heard how investigators had been baffled as to the cause of death.

Forensic experts found a fire in the fireplace of the sitting room where the badly burnt body was found had not been the cause of the blaze that killed Mr Faherty.

The court was told that no trace of an accelerant had been found and there had been nothing to suggest foul play.

The court heard Mr Faherty had been found lying on his back with his head closest to an open fireplace.

The fire had been confined to the sitting room. The only damage was to the body, which was totally burnt, the ceiling above him and the floor underneath him.

Dr McLoughlin said he had consulted medical textbooks and carried out other research in an attempt to find an explanation. more

Indian tradition forces girls into prostitution

She's around 13 years old. She goes to school, loves to sing and dance, and between giggles, she says she dreams of being an actress one day.

Puja hardly looks like a fighter but beneath her smiling face is a steely resolve. She is the first girl in her family to go to school and is determined to finish it. Very few girls in her community have done that.

Puja's mother wasn't given that chance. Priya, now in her late 30s, was forced into prostitution when she was a young girl.

Stories like this are common in the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan state in Western India, where girls are sold to brothels, once they hit puberty.

Locals mark this rite of passage with a coming of age ceremony called Nathni Utarna – which translates as taking off the nose ring - that signifies a girl is ready to be sent into the sex trade, that she's considered ready to sleep with her first client.

Plan India, a charity working in the village to wipe out the tradition, says these ceremonies were once common but now it's getting harder to find families to admit they held one. more

Moody's downgrades Greek banks

As if the European markets needed more bad news, Moody's Investors Service downgraded eight Greek banks on Friday.

Moody's downgraded the long-term deposits and senior debt ratings of the banks by two notches. The rating agency said that the "liquidity and funding positions of Greek banks are increasingly fragile" and referred to the bank industry as a "deteriorating operating environment."

he rating agency has been on a roll. Just last week, Moody's downgraded two major Frank banks: Societe Generale and Credit Agricole. And on Sept. 21, Moody's downgraded three major banks in the U.S.: Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) and Citigroup. (C, Fortune 500)

Greek banks are getting pinched by a weak bond market and the overall economic weakness in the debt-laden nation.

Greece has a 16% unemployment rate and Moody's said it expects the national economy will decline 7.3% in the second quarter. more

World pressure grows on Syria

World pressure against the Syrian regime intensified Friday with imposition of more international sanctions and a renewed call by a U.N. body to bring in the International Criminal Court.

In Syria itself, it was another Friday of nationwide protests against the regime, dubbed the Opposition Unity protests. For more than half a year, Syrian forces have cracked down hard on anti-government demonstrations, a show of force widely denounced inside and outside the country that by some accounts has left around 3,000 people dead.

The European Union announced Friday that it is imposing additional sanctions against Syria, due to "the continuing brutal campaign" by the government against its own people.

The new sanctions include a ban on investments in the Syrian oil sector. Earlier this month, the EU imposed a ban on the import of Syrian oil. The move also "foresees a prohibition on the delivery of banknotes to the Syrian Central Bank" and designating more people and entities as being responsible for supporting "repression" in Syria. Those so designated are subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze. more