Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ITV admits it passed off clip from a VIDEO GAME as footage of IRA attack on British helicopter in news show about Gaddafi

ITV was this evening forced to apologise after faking footage on a brand-new flagship show – using clips from a violent video game.

Network chiefs were left embarrassed after admitting that new prime-time show Exposure had used clips from Arma II, purportedly showing the IRA shooting down a British Army helicopter.

Footage of the 1988 'attack' was shown to viewers on Monday night's premiere show on ITV1, which exposed the former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi's links with the IRA.

The helicopter was seen being blasted by soldiers on a hillside, before spiralling down to earth as a voiceover stated: ‘Gaddafi weapons had upped the ante.’

But hours after Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA was broadcast, angry viewers took to the Internet and claimed that in fact, the footage had actually been taken from video game Arma II. Read More

Miner Dies In Roof Collapse At Colliery, North Yorkshire - 27th Sept 2011

One of two miners trapped in a roof collapse at Kellingley Colliery, North Yorkshire, has died, while the other miner has been rescued, UK Coal said.

Gareth Williams, managing director for coal mining for UK Coal, said: "UK Coal can confirm a fall of roof occurred at 4.35pm which trapped two of our colleagues.

"Colleagues successfully recovered one of the two employees trapped by the
lower leg. He is now on the surface.

"UK Coal regrets to confirm the second colleague was confirmed dead by our own
team, despite our best efforts.

Mr Williams said the company's thoughts were with the family of the miner.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service said ambulance teams and the hazardous response unit went to the colliery, after receiving an emergency call at 4.51pm.

The rescue operation follows the tragedy in south Wales earlier this month when four miners died following the flooding of the Gleision Colliery in Cilybebyll, Pontardawe.

The Kellingley colliery is the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire.

"No names are going to be released at the moment." Read More

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - 28th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Christchurch, New Zealand at a depth of 11 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 00:57 UTC Wednesday 28th September 2011.
The epicenter was 20 km ( 12.4 miles) West of Christchurch, New Zealand
No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 28th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 55.6 km (34.5 miles), the quake hit at 02:17:06 UTC Wednesday 28th September 2011.
The epicenter was 77 km ( 47 miles) ESE of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 28th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck the Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 40.3 km (25 miles), the quake hit at 00:31:24 UTC Wednesday 28th September 2011.
The epicenter was 66 km ( 41 miles) ESE of Nikolski, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 28th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 15.5 km (9.6 miles), the quake hit at 00:26:37 UTC Wednesday 28th September 2011.
The epicenter was 75 km ( 46 miles) Northeast of Hihifo, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHEAST OF LOYALTY ISLANDS - 27th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Southeast of the Loyalty Islands at a depth of 23.4 km (14.5 miles), the quake hit at 21:13:45 UTC Tuesday 27th September 2011.
The epicenter was 48 km ( 29 miles) South of Ile Hunter, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION - 27th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Virgin Islands Region at a depth of 19 km (11.8 miles), the quake hit at 19:27:09 UTC Tuesday 27th September 2011.
The epicenter was 22 km ( 13 miles) North of Settlement, Anegada, British Virgin Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Ron Paul: The country is ripe for revolution

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul rallied a sold- out crowd of more than 1800 of his most ardent under-thirty-year-old supporters in New York City Monday night.

Tickets to the event cost $20-25. It was originally scheduled to take place at the famed Webster Hall's Marlin Room, but, the event had to be moved to a room twice as large at the last minute due to an overwhelming response. The final setting was in the Grand Ballroom, which has hosted celebrities to the scale of Mick Jagger and Madonna.

"We are seeing a level of enthusiasm for Ron Paul that can be compared with President Obama in 2008", said Eric Brakey, Media Coordinator for NYC Liberty HQ, the grassroots organization hosting the rally for the candidate. "Congressman Paul's youth support is different now than it was during his last presidential campaign. It's more organized and it's picking up steam and continues to grow".

As the longtime congressman from Texas stepped onto the stage, the crowd screamed with enthusiasm. The audience's biggest reaction came when he spoke about ending the Federal Reserve. "The country has changed in the last four years, but my message hasn't changed" Paul said. "The country is ripe for a true revolution".

Responding to an earlier interview with Jon Stewart, he told the crowd that he is largely ignored by the media for a couple of reasons, one being that "people in charge don't want to hear our message". more

Rihanna ordered to cover up by Christian farmer: Good on him

Pop star Rihanna got her marching orders after a farmer objected to her peeling off her clothes while filming a new video on his land.

Alan Graham, 61, pulled up in his tractor and told the sexy singer to cover up and later claimed: "Her behaviour was inappropriate."

Rihanna was recording a video for We Found Love with Scottish DJ Calvin Harris in a muddy barley field near Bangor, Co Down - ahead of three sell-out shows at Belfast's Odyssey Arena this weekend.

The filming was taking place close to a busy dual carriageway when she stripped to a bikini after removing a long checked dress. But the sight became too much for Mr Graham's Christian beliefs and he politely asked the filming to stop. more

Heckler calls Barack Obama 'the antichrist' during speech in LA: "Presidential efficacy of a wet napkin" would also have gotten him good

The incident happened at the House of Blues on Monday night as President Obama was giving a speech.

The heckler had positioned himself at the front of the stage, directly in front of the president and began shouting just as Mr Obama began speaking.

"The Christian God is the one and only true living God, the creator of heaven and the universe! Jesus Christ is God!,“ said the unidentified man before declaiming the president as the antichrist.

Security soon stepped in to drag the man from the theatre as the crowd shouted “four more years” to drown him out. more

German turmoil over EU bail-outs as top judge calls for referendum

Germany's top judge has issued a blunt warning that no further fiscal powers may be surrendered to Europe without a new constitution and a popular referendum, vastly complicating plans to boost the EU's rescue machinery to €2 trillion (£1.7 trillion).

Andreas Vosskuhle, head of the constitutional court, said politicians do not have the legal authority to sign away the birthright of the German people without their explicit consent.

"The sovereignty of the German state is inviolate and anchored in perpetuity by basic law. It may not be abandoned by the legislature (even with its powers to amend the constitution)," he said.

"There is little leeway left for giving up core powers to the EU. If one wants to go beyond this limit – which might be politically legitimate and desirable – then Germany must give itself a new constitution. A referendum would be necessary. This cannot be done without the people," he told newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine.

The extraordinary interview comes just days before the Bundestag votes on a bill to revamp the EU's €440bn bail-out fund (EFSF), enabling it to purchase EMU bonds pre-emptively and recapitalise banks.

Tensions are running high after it emerged over the weekend that officials are working on plans sketched by the US Treasury and the European Commission to "leverage" the firepower of the EFSF to €2 trillion, in conjunction with lending from the European Central Bank. more

Teenage girl dies in Japan 'exorcism'

A 13-year-old girl suffocated after she was strapped down and doused with water by her father and a monk who were trying to expel an "evil spirit", Japanese police said Tuesday.

Fifty-six-year-old monk Kazuaki Kinoshita and the girl's 50-year-old father Atsushi Maishigi were accused of what police described as "waterfall service": strapping the victim Tomomi Maishigi to a chair and dousing her face with water.

News reports said the two men poured water over her as an "exorcism" with the father holding the girl down while the monk chanted sutras.

Miss Maishigi's mother called an ambulance after her daughter fell unconscious, but it was too late. She was confirmed dead early the next morning.

"The cause of death is suffocation," the police official said.

A police spokesman said the attack allegedly took place in Kumamoto in the country's south on the night of August 27.

Reports said the the girl's parents had turned to the monk after the youngster had suffered several years of mental and physical ill health that doctors had not been able to resolve.

The monk, who belongs to a religious group deriving from a Buddhist sect, said that the girl was possessed by an evil spirit, the private network TBS said.

Her parents had taken her to one of the group's facilities equipped with a water pump and made her go through the dousing practice about 100 times before, the broadcaster said.

The pump pulls water from underground and draws it to a height of 2.5 metres (eight feet), from where it falls on the person sitting below, TBS said. source

Decline and fall of just about everyone

More than 10 years ago, before 9/11, Goldman Sachs was predicting that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) would make the world economy's top 10 - but not until 2040. Skip a decade and the Chinese economy already has the number two spot all to itself, Brazil is number seven, India 10, and even Russia is creeping closer. In purchasing power parity, or PPP, things look even better. There, China is in second place, India is now fourth, Russia sixth, and Brazil seventh.

No wonder Jim O'Neill, who coined the neologism BRIC and is now chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, has been stressing that "the world is no longer dependent on the leadership of the US and Europe". After all, since 2007, China's economy

has grown by 45%, the American economy by less than 1% - figures startling enough to make anyone take back their predictions.

American anxiety and puzzlement reached new heights when the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections indicated that, at least by certain measurements, the Chinese economy would overtake the US by 2016. (Until recently, Goldman Sachs was pointing towards 2050 for that first-place exchange.)

Within the next 30 years, the top five will, according to Goldman Sachs, likely be China, the US, India, Brazil and Mexico. Western Europe? Bye-bye! more

Global woes, oil weigh; Egypt bourse at 30-month low

Egypt's bourse slumped to a 30-month low on Sunday, leading a regional decline, with pressured world stocks dampening sentiment and a sharp decline in oil prices threatening local fundamentals.

Egypt's main index fell 2.4 percent to its lowest close since March 2009 — 4,233 points. — with investors wary of the uncertain political outlook in the North African country and discouraged by last week's fall in global markets.

US equities recorded their worst weekly loss on Friday since the 2008 financial crisis, hit by anxiety over the euro zone debt crisis and a warning about the US economy.

Saudi Arabia's petrochemical stocks pushed the index to its largest one-day decline in two weeks as investors worried about a squeeze on margins for chemical companies.

Crude fell to a six-week low on Friday on fresh concerns about Europe's ability to manage debt and a possible banking crisis. US November crude fell 66 cents to settle at $79.85, its lowest close since Aug. 9.

"So far, we believe fundamentals have been insulated from what's happening globally, given that oil prices until last week proved to be resilient," said Rami Sidani, Schroders Middle East head of investment.

"(But) if oil stays below $80 for an extended period of time, the investment for the region will be hampered... (since) government spending is the main economic driver." more

The Privatization of Politics - Dylan Ratigan Show

Ireland: Fall in house prices accelerates

rish house prices continued to fall last month, and at a faster pace than the previous month.

House prices dropped 1.6 per cent in August, compared to a 0.8 per cent fall in July. On an annual basis, house prices were 13.9 per cent lower last month than the previous August. This compares to an annual rate of decline of 12.5 per cent in July.

The latest monthly figures, which were released by the CSO today, mean that residential properties are now 43 per cent lower than in 2007.

Dublin has seen the steepest falls in value, with houses in Dublin now 48 per cent lower than their peak in 2007, and apartments in Dublin 57 per cent lower.

A fall in the price of residential property in Dublin continued to drive the overall decrease last month, with the price of all Dublin residential property falling 3.8 per cent in August, 14.9 per cent lower than a year ago. House prices in Dublin were down 3.4 per cent , while the price of apartments in the capital fell by 6 per cent. more

Report: Iran, Russia, China mulling joint missile shield

Unofficial sources have announced that Iran, Russia, and China are currently holding talks on a proposal to establish a joint missile defense shield as a counterweight to a NATO defense shield, Mehr news agency reported.

The report, which was published in the Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan on Sunday, said that the sources cited two reasons why serious consultations have been held on the initiative.

First, all three states have come to the conclusion that U.S. officials’ assertion that their concern over the alleged missile and nuclear capabilities of Iran and North Korea is the reason for the decision to establish a NATO missile defense shield is just a pretext and the true objective of the shield is to threaten Russia and China.

In addition, now that the proposal to establish an early warning radar system in southeast Turkey, which is one component of the NATO missile defense shield, appears to be a done deal, the U.S. is now planning to establish other components of the new system in South Korea and Taiwan, which clearly shows that Washington is using the alleged threat from Iran and North Korea as a pretext to target China and Russia.

An informed expert believes China, which has not taken any action on the issue so far, is beginning to comprehend the level of danger posed by the new system, Mehr quoted the report as saying.

Russia’s analysis of the situation is similar to Iran’s view, which was expressed during Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev’s recent visit to Tehran. more

Assuming Money: An intriguing article on money and economics

This arithmetic of investing, saving and spending, and profit and loss, in a fixed supply "sound money" system is very clear and simple when "marbles" are used as money. But put a $ sign in front of the same set of equations and, magically, the arithmetic changes so that "supply creates its own demand". Contrary to the clear arithmetic impossibility, Austrians believe a fixed supply zero sum sound money system is compatible with a profit seeking capitalist economy.

The only saving grace is that no real economy ever binds itself to a fixed money supply, as Austrians bemoan the coin clippers and other "currency debasers" of historical reality. Ways are always found to add "money numbers" into the equations so the money system more closely matches the positive sum value adding economic system. In our system, where money is created as loans by bankers, it is the constant spending of newly borrowed, newly created money into the economy that keeps the Ponzi arithmetic functioning. "Debt" provides the additional money that makes profits and economic growth possible.

This "money creation" is an overt violation of Austrian ideological purity. Tea Party Austrians believe the destruction of all the abominable fiat credit money is a prerequisite to any truly "sound" economic recovery; and that government spending even more borrowed money to "stimulate" this dying beast of an economy is necromancy of the lowest order. They see the economic depression and real devastation that accompanies credit destruction as a necessary and acceptable cost for restoring "sound money", even though a sound money economy is as mythical as the Biblical garden of Eden.

The real effect of debt-deflation depression is to destroy so much credit-money that all prices collapse. Then whoever still has money can buy up the economy and the country for pennies on the dollar, and we can "restore" the good old days of feudalism where you were either a rich owner or a propertyless serf. None of this uppity "middle class" nonsense, or 'democracy'. more

Fiat Money explained in under 4 minutes

Think China’s air is breathable? Think again

Living in the Chinese capital, there are days – like today – when you can quite literally taste the air. Not in that pleasant, catch-a-snowflake-on-your tongue way that Canadians know. It’s a sensation closer to licking warm metal.

So when the World Health Organization released its list of the cities with the best and worst air pollution, I was surprised not to see Beijing near the top of the list.

Then I looked a little closer at the methodology. In most countries the WHO relied on its own data. But for all cities in China, the number of reporting stations is listed as “N/A” for not applicable. All data was provided by the China’s own National Bureau of Statistics.

Anyone who lives in Beijing knows that the government here lies to its citizens every day about the quality of the air. (That may sound harsh, but I write as the father of a 19-month-old asthmatic.)

Today, the United States Embassy, which has a monitoring station on its grounds in east Beijing, broadcast via its Twitter account that the air quality was “hazardous” between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, with an air quality index of 344 on the scale of 1 to 500. (Or at least 500 – a level 25 times higher than WHO guidelines – used to be considered the top of the scale. The rating in Beijing surged to an unheard-of 562 one coal-tinged morning last November, prompting the embassy staffer who writes @BeijingAir to famously declare the air “crazy bad.”) more

How Anonymous emerged to Occupy Wall Street

Defying harsh critiques from Stephen Colbert and slews of bloggers who scoffed last week at the "leaderless", "directionless", Frisbee-throwing hipsters camping out on cardboard at a random New York City park in the financial district, Occupy Wall Street appears to be gaining ground. From the modest 200 occupiers last week, numbers of protesters rose to an estimated peak of approximately 3,000 to 5,000 at the weekend's march. Media attention has grown exponentially.

After taking their inspiration from the Egyptian "one demand" model, Occupy Wall Street have now released their list of "one" demands, bringing much-needed clarity to their objectives. The movement has moved to reach out to a broader base, including labor unions. Last week's execution of Troy Davis also contributed to the growth of Occupy Wall Street as crowds of protesters in Zucotti Park, renamed Liberty Plaza, swelled to approximately 1,500 last Thursday night demanding an end to capital punishment.

Violence caught on camera over the weekend of police arresting approximately 80 protesters and, in one now-notorious case, apparently spraying mace into the faces of female protesters has generated an outcry over the NYPD's "cowardly" use of force on peaceful protesters. Thanks to these two incidents, says one protester, Danny Garza, "Occupy Wall Street has gotten bigger than we ever thought it could be." more

Israeli FM accuses Turkey of supporting and nurturing terror

In strong remarks against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent criticism of Israel during an interview with CNN International, Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman accused Erdoğan's government of "supporting and nurturing terror" Today’s Zaman reported.

"Anyone who saw CNN yesterday saw Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan once again verbally attack the state of Israel," said Lieberman. "We have no problems with Turkey who, for years was a friendly country, we were partners and cooperated in a number of fields including defense and economy," he was quoted as saying by Israel's Ynet website on Tuesday. "We certainly respect the Turkish nation and Turkey as a state, our problem is first and foremost with the current Turkish leadership -- the radical and extremist Islamist leadership that supports and nurtures terror," he added.

Lieberman also argued that Erdoğan's appearance on CNN Sunday was "excellent" for Israel. "If you ask what we can do PR wise, I'd buy each and every media outlet and let Erdoğan speak all day and all night. Every time he speaks on TV he brings more support for the state of Israel," he said.

During the CNN interview, Erdoğan said Turkey's relations with Israel will not normalize unless the current atmosphere changes considerably. "Turkish-Israeli relations are broken due to tension Israel itself escalated, which began with the Israeli raid on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza," Erdoğan said.

The Turkish prime minister, known to be highly critical of Israel's policies regarding Palestine, said Israel has killed hundreds and thousands of Palestinians, while Palestinian rockets and bombs have killed only a few Israelis. He also accused Israel of using the Holocaust to perpetuate the idea that "they are the victims all the time." more

Tallying the Toll of U.S.-China Trade

For years, economists have told Americans worried that cheap Chinese imports will kill jobs that the benefits of trade with China far outweigh its costs.

New research suggests the damage to the U.S. has been deeper than these economists have supposed. The study, conducted by a team of three economists, doesn't challenge the traditional view that trade is ultimately good for the economy. Workers who lose jobs do eventually find new work or retire, while the benefits from trade, such as lower prices, remain. The problem is the speed at which China has surged as an exporter. more

Washington warns Lebanon’s prime minister to not interfere in Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during her meeting with the Lebanese prime minister, Najib Mikati, in New York, warned that Lebanon should not get involved in the situation in Syria, a Lebanese daily reported on Tuesday.

“We discussed the many international obligations that Lebanon has and the prime minister assured me that Lebanon would always fulfill [its] international obligations,” Clinton told reporters following her meeting with Mikati, Lebanon’s the Daily Star reported.

She also vowed that the U.S. would continue providing assistance to the Lebanese Army.

Mikati, meanwhile, told The Daily Star that the U.S. administration was “understanding” and aware of the peculiar nature of Lebanese politics.

“They showed understanding for our situation and the most important thing for them is that Lebanon keeps a neutral stance,” he added, in reference to events in Syria.

Echoing Mikati, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said Clinton expressed to the Lebanese prime minister the U.S. administration’s understanding of Lebanon’s “very delicate situation.”

“The secretary reiterated our strong commitment to Lebanon, our understanding that Lebanon is in a very delicate situation and our support for Lebanon’s unity, Lebanon’s stability, and Lebanon’s sovereignty,” said the former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon. more

Thousands in Morocco demonstrate for major political reform

Thousands of protesters took out to the streets in several cities across Morocco on Sunday evening to demand political reform, unappeased by a recently-agreed package limiting the powers of King Mohammed VI.

The largest demonstrations were seen in Casablanca’s Sebata district and in the northern city of Tangiers, where an estimated 100,000 people responded to a call for demonstration by the February 20 Movement, popular Moroccan news website Hespress reported Monday.

Authorities have often played down the numbers of protesters that take to the streets across the country.

Demonstrations also took place in the capital, Rabat, and in the cities of Marrakesh, Agadir, Nador, and Meknes.

The movement, which takes its name from the day on which it held its first protest, was inspired by the pro-democracy groups that have sprung up across the Arab world.

Participants in the Casablanca demonstration held placards reading “Corruption is Wrecking Our Lives” and “More Social Justice.” more

Board of Governors passes tuition for illegal immigrants

A state higher education board on Monday approved a measure that would allow students who immigrated to the United States illegally to pay in-state tuition rates at Rhode Island's public colleges and universities after the General Assembly declined to take up the issue.

The Board of Governors for Higher Education heard hours of public testimony on the policy change from dozens of speakers at a meeting that at times featured cheers, boos and heckling from opponents and supporters - both of whom said their position was the fairer one.

The board, 11 of whose 13 members were present, voted unanimously for the measure at the end of the meeting at the Community College of Rhode Island's Warwick campus.

Board member Eva Mancuso, chairwoman of the committee that gave the preliminary green light to the policy change, said just before the vote that the issue had been studied extensively. She called in-state tuition for illegal immigrants "fair" and "logical." more

Mark LaVelle attacked by horde of black and hispanic youths, who chase him into his home and attempt to kill him

ABOUT 11 P.M. on Sept. 9, dozens of youths with bats and pipes descended on a tidy residential area of Port Richmond looking for white teens who allegedly had attacked an African-American kid at Stokely Playground a couple of hours earlier.

Two fearful white teens spotted Mark LaVelle on Indiana Avenue near Belgrade Street and asked for help. Suddenly, the mob appeared. LaVelle, who said that he didn't know the two kids, who looked to be 13 or 14, ran with them into his nearby house.

" 'We got you, you white mother-------!' " LaVelle said he heard someone yell in the "mob" of black and Hispanic youths.

Inside his house, LaVelle, 37, called to his wife, Kim, 30, to go to their bedroom with their twin 13-month-old boys, Mark and Mason, and to call police. He also ordered his two other sons, 11 and 17, and his nephew, 7, to stay upstairs.

With the two teens hiding in the house, LaVelle, 5 feet 10, 220 pounds, a well-known sports-league organizer and coach in the community, went outside to try to calm the angry mob.

They were standing on his steps. One shouted, " 'Something's going to happen now!' " LaVelle recalled in an interview Friday at his house. LaVelle got nervous and went back inside, locking his door with a deadbolt. more

Iranian city of Ahvaz ranked world’s most polluted

Cities in Iran, India, Pakistan and the capital of Mongolia rank among the worst on the planet for air pollution, while those in the US and Canada are among the best, according to the first global survey, released on Monday by the World Health Organisation.

The south-west Iranian city of Ahvaz has with the unfortunate distinction of having the highest measured level of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometres.

WHO released the list to highlight the need to reduce outdoor air pollution, which is estimated to cause 1.34m premature deaths each year. The global body said investments to lower pollution levels quickly pay off due to lower disease rates and, therefore, lower healthcare costs.

The list, which relies on country-reported data over the past several years, measures the levels of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometers – so-called PM10s – for almost 1,100 cities.

WHO recommends an upper limit of 20 micrograms for PM10s, which can cause serious respiratory problems in humans. They are mostly sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide from power plants, auto exhausts and industry. more

April Cater, Joseph Russell steal copper from 18 utility lines to pay for wedding

Police say a western Pennsylvania couple cut down copper wire from 18 utility poles because they needed money to pay for their wedding.

Online court records don't list defense attorneys for 24-year-old April Cater and 23-year-old Joseph Russell, both of North Sewickley Township, and The Associated Press could not immediately locate a listed phone for the couple.

The couple face a preliminary hearing Oct. 24 on theft and other charges for allegedly cutting down the wire on Aug. 9, four days before their wedding. Police say Russell told them he had lost his job at an auto parts store and needed the money. Police say the couple sold the wire to a salvage company the day after they allegedly stole it. more

Tibetan monks set themselves on fire in protest over religious controls

Two young Tibetan monks set themselves on fire in western China on Monday in protest over government religious controls, according to Tibetan exiles and activist groups outside the country.

The 18-year-old monks were both from the Kirti monastery in western Sichuan province where the self-immolation of Phuntsog, a 21-year-old monk, in March sparked protests and an intense crackdown by Chinese security services. One of the monks who set himself alight on Monday was Phuntsog’s younger brother, according to the activist group Free Tibet.

“They yelled: ‘Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama; we need religious freedom immediately’,” a monk from the Kirti monastery told the Financial Times from exile in India.

“Immediately after the incident took place the police extinguished the fire and took away the bodies. We don’t know where the bodies are, nor do we know the condition,” said Tsering, an activist based in the Indian hill station, Dharamsala, home to the Tibetan exile movement.

Monday’s self-immolations mark the third incident involving Tibetan monks in six months, according to activists. more

Steven Conard, Cemetery Worker, Stole Guitar From Army Vet’s Casket

A Wisconsin cemetery worker allegedly removed a valuable Fender guitar from the casket of a 67-year-old Army veteran who died last week and had told family members that he wanted to be buried with the instrument, which was his “pride and joy,” according to court records.

Steven Conard, a 39-year-old grounds worker at the Allouez Catholic Cemetery, was arrested Saturday and charged with felony “theft from person or corpse.” Conard, who plays in a band, reportedly confessed to stealing the Fender Telecaster when confronted at his Green Bay home by Brown County Sheriff’s Department deputies.

“This isn’t something I normally do,” Conard said, according to a Circuit Court criminal complaint. “I just have a respect for fine musical instruments.” The cream-colored guitar was recovered from Conard’s living room, where the instrument was on the floor “in plain view.” Conard is pictured in the above mug shot.

The $2000 Telecaster had been placed in the casket of Randall Jourdan, who died last Monday. Jourdan, a father of nine and grandfather of 29, “liked to play guitar and watch baseball,” according to an obituary.

William Jourdan, one of the decedent’s sons, told investigators that his father had played guitar for more than 40 years “and that this guitar was his father’s pride and joy.” Cops added that, “William stated Randall told everyone that he wanted to be buried with the guitar.” more

Funk legend Sly Stone homeless and living in a van in LA (How much did Britney Spears rake in this year again?)

Over the years, Stone has dropped tens of thousands of dollars on his other hobby: automobiles. In his early days, he drove a Jaguar XKE he painted purple. There were Hummers, a London taxi and a beloved Studebaker, which Stone asked to have painted in exchange for this interview. (The Post declined.) A few years ago, he would cruise around LA on a bright-yellow, custom three-wheel chopper. He was known to give cars to friends.

By 1980, the group’s popularity had declined enormously from its heyday. Stone appeared on an episode of “The Mike Douglas Show” and promised, “I’m going to do one more album real quick, and if it’s not instantly platinum, bye-bye.” Sly & the Family Stone’s 10th and final album, 1982’s “Ain’t But the One Way,” flopped.

"I like my small camper. I just do not want to return to a fixed home ... I must keep moving," Stone says.

Stone kept his word and mostly vanished. He was arrested a few times in the 1980s for cocaine possession and performed sporadically, but his days of sold-out shows and magazine covers were gone. A 1987 performance would prove to be his last for 19 years. more

'Obama is the Antichrist': Heckler in bizarre rant as President completes string of West Coast fundraisers - 27th Sept 2011

A bizarre heckler labelled President Obama 'the antichrist' before he was dragged out of a California fundraiser by Secret Service agents.

The man had positioned himself at the front of the stage at the House of Blues in Los Angeles last night and began shouting loudly as soon as Mr Obama started talking.

Identified by the Secret Service as David Serrano, the heckler began shouting 'Jesus Christ is God and a Christian God' as the audience booed him.

The President stopped talking, but the man was drowned out by the 800-strong crowd as they chanted 'Four more years! Four more years!.

As he was taken out by agents he then yelled: 'Jesus Christ is God! Barack Obama is the Antichrist!'

Serrano was questioned, but later released without charge.

Mr Obama then continued with his speech, but was later interrupted by another heckler, who shouted: 'Don't forget medical marijuana!'

He responded: 'Thank you for that.'

Tony Bell, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, said Mr Serrano had been a regular at county meetings and often gave long, rambling religious statements.

He told the New York Times: 'He yells out his statements, which are very mistaken, odd interpretations of scriptures. Read More

Earth in cross-hairs of gigantic solar storm caused by sunspot measuring 62,000-miles across - 27th Sept 2011

A sunspot, 62,000 miles across - so big it would dwarf the Earth - is releasing gigantic solar flares that could in theory wreak havoc with electrical communications ranging from handheld electronics such as iPhones to sections of the power grid.

Nasa has detected two X-class solar eruptions from 1302 – the most extreme possible – in the past week. One that occurred on September 24 produced an amazing light show over England last night – but it’s far from over, as the sunspot isn’t yet directly aligned with Earth.

NASA experts have said 'anything electrical' can be affected by such activity.

Known as ‘Active Region 1302’, it is producing bursts of radiation so intense that spectacular auroras, caused by the sun’s particles hitting the atmosphere, have been seen as far south as Oxfordshire.

Astronomer Dr Ian Griffin, CEO of Science Oxford, told MailOnline: ‘Active Region 1302 is the source of all of the auroras seen yesterday, and may well be the source of some more auroras over the next few nights. Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHEAST OF LOYALTY ISLANDS - 27th Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck Southeast of the Loyalty Islands at a depth of 34.9 km (24.5 miles), the quake hit at 17:42:31 UTC Tuesday 27th September 2011.
The epicenter was 55 km ( 34 miles) SSW of Ile Hunter, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time

Wall Street protests enter 11th day

Protests to draw attention to the power of Wall Street firms in the United States and world economies will continue for an 11th straight day in lower Manhattan Tuesday.

"Our main concern is the way that democracy is hijacked through wealth inequality," said Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the protest group Occupy Wall Street. Bruner said protestors plan to present a list of demands, though they don't know when or to whom they will present them to.

The group, taking its inspiration from the Arab Spring protests that swept through Africa and the Middle East, has taken up residence in a park in New York's Financial District, calling for 20,000 people to flood the area for a "few months" to press home their point. Social media fueled those uprisings in places like Egypt and Libya and organizers are hoping it will work in the United States too.

"The rich are getting away with a huge crime," documentary filmmaker Michael Moore said Monday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." "Nobody's been arrested on Wall Street for the crash of 2008. They're not paying their fair share of the taxes."

"I do well," Moore acknowledged, but "we reward people for making money off money, and moving money around and dividing up mortgages a thousand times over, selling it to China ... and it becomes this shell game." more

Harold Camping of Family Radio releases a statement on why world didn't end May 21st, 2011 (October 21st is the new date)

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

The message sent out begins as follows:

What really happened this past May 21st ? What really happened is that God accomplished exactly what He wanted to happen. That was to warn the whole world that on May 21 God’s salvation program would be finished on that day. For the next five months, except for the elect (the true believers), the whole world is under God’s final judgment. To accomplish this goal God withheld from the true believers the way in which two phrases were to be understood. Had He not done so, the world would never have been shaken in fear as it was.

One phrase is “the completion of God’s salvation program.” The other is “God’s final judgment.” The completion of God’s salvation plan is concentrated in the word “rapture.” The phrase “God’s final judgment” is concentrated in the word “earthquake.”

These two words, “earthquake” and “rapture,” have been extremely important in our teaching of Judgment Day – May 21. A critical understanding of these two words is the only change required to know why the unsaved are now living in a world that has not been horribly destroyed, and the elect have not been caught up to be with God. more

Fukushima Desolation Worst Since Nagasaki as Population Flees From Fallout

Beyond the police roadblocks that mark the no-go zone around Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, six-foot tall weeds invade rice paddies and vines gone wild strangle road signs along empty streets.

Takako Harada, 80, returned to an evacuated area of Iitate village to retrieve her car. Beside her house is an empty cattle pen, the 100 cows slaughtered on government order after radiation from the March 11 atomic disaster saturated the area, forcing 160,000 people to move away and leaving some places uninhabitable for two decades or more.

“Older folks want to return, but the young worry about radiation,” said Harada, whose family ran the farm for 40 years. “I want to farm, but will we be able to sell anything?”

What’s emerging in Japan six months since the nuclear meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant is a radioactive zone bigger than that left by the 1945 atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While nature reclaims the 20 kilometer (12 mile) no-go zone, Fukushima’s $3.2 billion-a-year farm industry is being devastated and tourists that hiked the prefecture’s mountains and surfed off its beaches have all but vanished.

The March earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear crisis and left almost 20,000 people dead or missing may cost 17 trillion yen ($223 billion), hindering recovery of the world’s third-largest economy from two decades of stagnation. more

Earth in crosshairs of gigantic solar storm that could blow circuits of ANYTHING from satellite TV to the electric power grid

A sunspot, 62,000 miles across - so big it would dwarf the Earth - is releasing gigantic solar flares that could in theory wreak havoc with electrical communications ranging from handheld electronics such as iPhones to sections of the power grid.

Nasa has detected two X-class solar eruptions from 1302 – the most extreme possible – in the past week. One that occurred on September 24 produced an amazing light show over England last night – but it’s far from over, as the sunspot isn’t yet directly aligned with Earth.

NASA experts have said 'anything electrical' can be affected by such activity.

Known as ‘Active Region 1302’, it is producing bursts of radiation so intense that spectacular auroras, caused by the sun’s particles hitting the atmosphere, have been seen as far south as Oxfordshire.

Astronomer Dr Ian Griffin, CEO of Science Oxford, told MailOnline: ‘Active Region 1302 is the source of all of the auroras seen yesterday, and may well be the source of some more auroras over the next few nights. more

Greece's debt crisis odyssey: Fantastic flowchart

Greece and its lenders are locked in discussion. The "Troika" of lenders - the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank - say Greece must take more painful steps to cut its borrowing. But Greece faces riots and mass protests on the streets of Athens. The government could lose its grip on parliament - only 155 of 300 MPs backed the last round of austerity in June. At stake is the next 8bn euro tranche of bailout money, which Greece desperately needs to avoid total crisis. Starting from the top, follow the decision tree to decide what happens next. view chart here

Caffeine use extended despite health warnings (Wait, didn't they just say it relieved depression?)

Health Canada extended the use of caffeine to non-cola soft drinks last year, even as it was being warned that children are already consuming too much of the stimulant, CBC News has learned.

Canada's blocking of IRN-BRU, the leading non-cola soft drink in Scotland, was "a long-standing trade irritant," according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The drink contains caffeine, so it couldn't be sold in Canada, though the manufacturer had tried for years to get into the Canadian market.

"For decades, Canada was one of the few places in the world that insisted caffeine couldn't be added to those non-cola drinks," CBC senior investigative correspondent Diana Swain reported Monday on The National.

"But last year that rule was quietly dropped by Health Canada — not because caffeine was suddenly good for kids … but because it was good for trade." more

Syrian troops storm rebellious town of Rastan

Syrian troops firing machine guns mounted on tanks stormed a rebellious town in central Syria before dawn Tuesday as part of military operations aimed at crushing the six-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad, activists said.

The offensive in Rastan, located just north of the central city of Homs and on the highway to Turkey, began overnight and continued through the morning, leaving at least 20 people wounded, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Rastan has emerged as a hotbed of dissent against Assad's autocratic regime during six months of anti-government protests, and alleged army deserters have frequently clashed there with the military and security forces in the past. more

Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel hit by 6th attack: Militants attack gas pipeline in Sinai Peninsula

Gunmen have attacked Egypt's main natural gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan for the sixth time since the uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak in February, security officials say.

The gunmen drove up to the pumping station in two pickup trucks before dawn Tuesday. Witnesses said they saw three men shooting at the station, causing a major explosion that sent flames shooting some 15 metres into the air.

Some homes caught on fire following the explosion, and one guard was injured and two people suffered burns.

The pipeline terminal is in the city of El-Arish in the northern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, about 50 kilometres west of the Israeli border

Three lines branch out from the pumping station — one to Israel, a second to Jordan, and a third to Egypt's domestic market.

The Egyptian and Jordanian lines were shut down following Tuesday's attack. The Israeli pipeline has not been functioning since one of the previous attacks in July forced it to shut down.

The peninsula borders both Israel and the Gaza Strip, controlled by Islamic militant group Hamas, and has been the scene of clashes between residents and security forces. It is also home to Bedouin tribesmen, who have been blamed for attacking the pipeline in the past.

"The sons of Sinai are not responsible for anything [that] happens on Sinai land and will not take part in the protection measures unless the government releases thousands of our people," said Salem Uneizan, spokesman for the Coalition of Free Sinai Sons, in reference to thousands of Bedouin youth in prisons. more

Greece prime minister makes plea for German support

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has delivered an impassioned plea to German business leaders to help his country out of its current debt crisis.

Mr Papandreou said German funding would not be an investment in past failures, but in future successes.

He also hailed Greece's "superhuman" efforts to cut its debt levels.

The prime minister is in Germany for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss his country's progress in cutting its budget deficit.

Mr Papandreou said the current debt crisis provided a "unique opportunity to launch important reforms that Greece badly needs to become competitive again".

Drawing parallels with the reunification of Germany, he talked of the "rebirth of a nation".

"Your contribution can be crucial," he told the assembled businessmen and women. more

Shanghai train crash injures 200

A Shanghai subway train has hit the rear end of another train, injuring at least 200 passengers, the train company says.

Most of the injuries were slight, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Company said after the incident on Line 10.

It happened after signal system failure at one station, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

The city has rapidly expanded its subway system in recent years and some lines have seen recurring problems.

Tuesday's incident happened near Yu Yuan station in central Shanghai at 14:51 - about 40 minutes after Shanghai Metro reported equipment failures on a train.

At the time of the crash, staff were directing trains manually, Reuters news agency reported.

One passenger said there was a lot of blood in the first carriage of the train.

Streets around the station were cordoned off to allow ambulances through.

A collision between two high-speed overground trains in Wenzhou, eastern China, in July killed 40 people and provoked public outrage about safety standards. more

Coffee may prevent depression, scientists say

Women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day are less likely to get depressed, research suggests.

It is not clear why it might have this effect, but the authors believe caffeine in coffee may alter the brain's chemistry. Decaffeinated coffee did not have the same effect.

The findings, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, come from a study of more than 50,000 US female nurses.

The experts are now recommending more work to better understand the link.

And they say it is certainly too soon to start recommending that women should drink more coffee to boost mood. more

Russian army ends purchase of Kalashnikov rifles (to acquire new, deadlier version)

he Russian army says it is halting orders of the famous Kalashnikov assault rifle until a newer model is developed by its manufacturer.

Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov told Russian media that the army already had too many of the weapons in its stores.

A new model is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

News of the army's decision is reportedly being kept from the rifle's designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov, now 91.

"We do not want to take it upon ourselves to tell him," an unnamed member of his family told Russia's Izvestia newspaper.

"It might kill him."

The Kalashnikov, instantly recognisable, renowned for its ruggedness and regarded by some as a design classic, is said to be the world's most heavily produced rifle.

In service in Russia since the 1940s, it has been copied by manufacturers across the world.

It has gone through several versions, from the original AK-47 - the AK stands for "Kalashnikov automatic" - to the AKM and latterly, the AK-74.

Gen Makarov said stocks of the rifle exceeded the army's needs "several times over".

A spokesman for the rifle's developer, the Izhmash plant in central Russia, told Izvestia newspaper that a new model would be ready for demonstration by the end of the year. more

Higher labor pains in U.S.-China trade?

For decades, the economic wisdom has been that lower trade barriers create better wealth for both parties.

Outsourcing low-skilled, low-wage jobs to an India or Mexico helps those developing economies, while that loss of industry in a developed economy like the United States is more than offset by lower product costs and an employee talent pool that finds work higher up the economic food chain. Everybody wins.

A new study, however, suggests that when it comes to China, the economic benefit to the U.S. may be less than previously thought.

“The study, conducted by a team of three economists, doesn't challenge the traditional view that trade is ultimately good for the economy,” writes Justin LaHart, who first reported the study for the Wall Street Journal. “Workers who lose jobs do eventually find new work or retire, while the benefits from trade, such as lower prices, remain. The problem is the speed at which China has surged as an exporter, overwhelming the normal process of adaptation.”

The study estimates that the cost to government in increased costs such as unemployment benefits erode as much as two-thirds of the total benefits the U.S. enjoys from lower priced products or boosts in sales to an economically stronger China.

The study does not factor in direct economic losses to those in the U.S. left unemployed when business leaves for China. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the trade deficit with China cost the U.S. 2.8 million jobs from 2001 to 2010. more

Greece, a country divided and collapsing: Is this a trailer for the US situation?

They say a crisis can bring out the best or worst in people, a society or on a continent. Seeing the situation unfold first hand and talking to politicians, business people and those on the streets, one can witness how divided this country of 11 million people on the tip of southern Europe is becoming.

The divisiveness is multi-layered; first within the ruling, socialist Pasok party itself. On the left, party members yearn for the days of the current prime minister's father in the 1980s, Andreas Papandreou, when state ownership was the call to arms, a large public sector provided employment and an equally large safety net. On the right of that party, those who are aware the country is living on borrowed time and money.

Within Parliament, there is no sense of a common good. Prime Minister George Papandreou and the leader of New Democracy Antonis Samaras –despite being college room-mates in the past - cannot rally their party rank and file members to finally deliver deep, overdue reforms.

Most alarming as one who has covered this country since the 1990s is the division amongst the Greek people. On one side, members of the public sector, making up one fifth of the workforce (the largest in percentage terms in Europe) and the private sector on the other. The latest austerity plans call for a 20% reduction in pension payments for those making more than $1650, a 40% cut for those who retired before 55 and 30 thousand furloughed state workers. They will not be terminated but will see a reduction in their wages. more

Europe thinks the unthinkable to solve crisis

The window for resolving the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis is closing more quickly than policymakers anticipated.

Choices on Greece and the future of the euro that were once considered a long way off now must be settled within weeks.

Eurozone governments, many facing growing public disquiet, must now address three overlapping policy discussions for stepping up their response to the crisis. Once-unthinkable proposals for fiscal union and shared responsibility for sovereign debt are now being hurriedly readied for ministerial discussion.

Senior European officials hope that by the time of a summit of European Union leaders in October, they will have: put in place powers for the eurozone's €440bn rescue fund; agreed on the need to expand the fund's firepower; and presented plans for further economic integration. But policymakers still have to work out countless disagreements that could doom the process. more

Will the Great Barrier Reef die by 2050?

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef seems indestructible from afar: its 2,600-kilometer-long clusters of corals are even visible from outer space.

But on closer examination, the story loses some of its beauty. The reef -- along with the multi-billion dollar tourist industry it supports -- could be extinct by 2050.

That is what some scientists are warning will happen if nothing is done to halt the impact of human-induced climate change.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are causing oceans to warm, they argue, bleaching the reef’s corals to death.

“Most coral reefs have been seriously diminished already,” says Charlie Veron, former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and author of the three-volume, "Corals of the World".

“Today's children are almost certain to see the Great Barrier Reef trashed within their lifetime.”

Coral bleaching occurs when corals, stressed by warming water, expel the symbiotic algae, which provide necessary nutrients. As a result, they turn colorless and their calcium skeletons get exposed. Unless the water cools, death is not far behind.

Bleaching has been observed on the Great Barrier Reef since 1982, with severe “bleaching events” occurring during the El Niño of 1997-98 and later in 2002 and 2006. During the 2002 episode, it was reported that bleaching affected more than 50 percent of the reefs, with five percent permanently damaged.

“As time goes on and carbon dioxide increases, the likelihood of mass bleaching goes ever higher,” says Veron. “There is no rate as such, just an ever-increasing probability.” more (with a fantastic photo gallery)

Israeli government approves more housing in Jerusalem

In a move that will further complicate international efforts to get Middle East peace negotiations restarted, the Israeli government Tuesday approved the construction of 1,100 new homes in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood that was seized by Israel in 1967.

In a statement, the Israeli Interior ministry announced that a district planning committee had approved the construction of the new housing and that the decision would be open for public objections for the next 60 days.

The move brought quick condemnation from Palestinians, who claim the land Israel occupied in East Jerusalem and the West Bank after the 1967 war as part of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinian officials said the action proved that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not serious about making peace.

"He said at the United Nations he was giving his hand in peace but actually he is digging in the land to build more settlements," said Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh.

"It's a slap in the face of the Quartet and the whole international community, which is saying stop settlements," he added.

The Middle East Quartet -- made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- Friday called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks within a month and set the end of 2012 as the deadline for their completion.

The Quartet also called on both sides to "to refrain from provocative actions" -- a veiled reference to Israeli settlement building in land Israel occupied after 1967. more

Typhoon Nesat kills up to 20 in the Philippines, deplaces 16,000

At least seven people died, including a baby boy, as Typhoon Nesat slammed into the Philippines Tuesday.

Four people were reported killed in Metro Manila, two in Central Luzon, and one in Catanduanes, the Office of Civil Defense said. Three more were reported injured and four were missing as of Tuesday afternoon.

The typhoon, known in the Philippines as Pedring, struck the agricultural provinces of Isabela and Aurora the hardest. But storm alerts were also issued for more than 40 other areas, including Metro Manila, the state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

More than 64,000 people have been affected by the typhoon, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said, with several thousand families now being helped in evacuation centers.

More than 100 people have been rescued across the country, the NDRRMC said, many of them from boats.

The presidential palace announced the suspension of all classes for schools and work for government agencies in Manila and other affected areas. The Philippine Stock Exchange also suspended trading.

Some roads around Manila were impassable due to flooding and falling debris, including branches that had been ripped off trees. more

PM promises Greece will 'fight its way back to growth' (Chortle, chortle)

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou "can guarantee that Greece will live up to all its commitments," he said Tuesday as he seeks to keep his debt-ridden country afloat.

"I promise you we Greeks will soon fight our way back to growth and prosperity," he told an audience of German business leaders before a critical meeting with the country's Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Papandreou was speaking as Greece braced for strikes in the face of government efforts to raise taxes and slash spending to try to close its huge budget deficit.

Merkel told the same audience she was opposed to more stimulus packages, because creating more debt was not the way to create growth -- but that Germany would support Greece on its way out of its debt crisis.

She also pointed out that Germany profited from the euro, with some 60% of its exports going to European Union countries and that the nation's future depends on that of Europe.

However, solidarity and reform have to go together, the German leader said, and Germany would help Greece only if it did its part.

Meanwhile, transport workers shut down buses and some metro lines in Athens as lawmakers prepare to vote on a new property tax. Taxi drivers are planning to join the strike later in the week. more

Australia lifts restrictions for women in combat roles, front line fighting

Australian women will be able to serve alongside their male counterparts in front line combat roles, the government said Tuesday.

The new plan will be phased in over a five-year period.

The decision means that women will be allowed to apply to serve as Navy ordinance disposal divers, airfield and ground defense guards, in the infantry and in armored units, as well as some artillery roles, the Australian Defence Ministry said Tuesday.

Women will be judged in the same manner as men: not on their gender, but their ability to do the job, the ministry said.

As of last month, 335 women were serving in the Australian Defence Force's international military operations. The figure represents 10% of the total overseas deployment, the ministry said.

Australia's decision makes it one of only a few countries in the developed world with no restrictions for women in combat.

Canada, Germany, South Korea, France, Spain, New Zealand, Denmark and Israel formally allow women in combat, according to the Strategic Studies Institute and the Israel Defense Forces.

In the United States, women are allowed to serve as combat fighter pilots, aboard Navy ships and in some support roles that are likely to expose them to combat situations. In April, the U.S. Navy said that it would open up jobs aboard submarines to women as well. more