Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Monday, May 7, 2012

Struggling firms offered cash from company that will lend you £7,500 for 1 year and you pay £15,675 Back

A payday loan firm which charges interest rates of 4,200APR or more was at the centre of a storm today after launching a service for hard-up small businesses.

Experts said the move represents a stark reflection of the crisis created by banks refusing to lend to small firms. has extended its controversial short-term loan scheme, launched in October 2007, to Britain’s businesses.

As of today, a company boss can apply for a loan of up to £10,000 from Wonga for Business and receive the money as soon as 15 minutes later.

But the costs are crippling. If a high-risk business wanted to borrow £7,500 for a year, the interest costs of £7,800 would be higher than the original loan. Read More

Clinton heaps more pressure on India to halt Iranian oil use....Or THEY will face Sanctions

Delhi faces sanctions if the US determines it has not made a sharp reduction in imports

India is trying to avoid a showdown with the US over demands from Washington that it sharply drop its imports of oil from Iran.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is in India on a three-day visit and has pushed India to instead increase oil purchases from other suppliers, such as Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to pressure Iran over its nuclear programme.

"If there weren't an adequate supply we would understand, but we believe that there is adequate supply," Ms Clinton said yesterday in Kolkata. "We commend the steps [the Indian government has] taken and we hope they will do even more." Read More

New eurozone crisis looms as Spain prepares bail-out

A new eurozone crisis is looming as Spain signalled on Monday it was ready to bail out ailing banks after markets shrugged off the election results in France and Greece.

Prime minister Marian Rajoy indicated the Government was ready to intervene to save banks wrestling with the collapse of the housing market.
Bankia, Spain's fourth biggest bank, is the first in line for state aid.

Rodrigo Rato, chairman and former IMF managing director, swiftly resigned after it was disclosed the finance ministry was preparing to refinance the bank and introduce legislation to protect the balance sheets of others.

Spain, which also signalled it could dock its only aircraft carrier to save €30m a year, is already struggling to cope with an austerity drive that has pushed the jobless total up to nearly 25pc of the workforce.

Mr Rajoy insisted that any bank bail-out would not compromise the tough targets set by Brussels to reduce the budget deficit. Read More

Greek election: Far-left seeks anti-austerity coalition

The leader of Greece's far-left is to try to form a government after parties backing an international bailout deal failed to assemble a coalition.

Alexis Tsipras aims to put together a cabinet that will reject austerity measures imposed as part of the deal.

But analysts also say his attempts, following Sunday's poll, are likely to fail to achieve the necessary numbers.

Voters in Greece, France and Italy have all largely swung in favour of anti-austerity candidates this week.

In Greece, both the centre-right New Democracy and former coalition partners Pasok, the traditional parties of power, saw their support drain away in favour of radical parties on the left and right.

France's President-elect, Socialist Francois Hollande, said in his victory speech that he would seek an alternative to austerity. Read More

EU Treaty: Germany Warns New French Leader...That didn't take them Long

French President-elect Francois Hollande spent the day with his transition team - as the problems he faces in his anti-austerity drive were thrown into sharp focus by Germany.

He was warned there was no question of unpicking an EU "fiscal treaty" agreed last December.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: "We in Germany, and me personally, are of the opinion that the fiscal pact is non-negotiable."

That suggests EU leaders will attempt to agree a non-binding protocol on economic growth, which Mr Hollande believes is missing from the current approach to the crisis.

There is unease among Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats about what Mr Hollande's centre-left campaign pledges of growth and state spending mean for efforts to contain deficits in the eurozone.

With a week to go before his inauguration as president, the 57-year-old victor arrived at the Socialist party headquarters in Paris where he was greeted by cheering supporters.

Mr Hollande said: "The plan for today is to work. Even if the handover isn't yet done, that'll come with time, we're still fixing it. Read More

Plane Bomb Plot Foiled By US

An al Qaeda plot to blow up a US-bound aircraft using an underwear bomb has been foiled, American officials have said.

The plan, around the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's killing by US forces, involved a sophisticated version of the device that failed to detonate on board a plane heading to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, they added.

The CIA thwarted the latest plan by al Qaeda's branch in Yemen and the new device has been recovered.

The FBI is examining the bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an aircraft, officials said.

They said the device did not contain metal, which means it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector.

But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 8th May 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 169.6 km (105.4 miles), the quake hit at 00:32:56 UTC Tuesday 8th May 2012
The epicenter was 123 km (76 miles) North of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 8th May 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 36.7 km (22.8 miles), the quake hit at 00:16:40 UTC Tuesday 8th May 2012
The epicenter was 117 km (72 miles) ENE of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NORTH INDIAN OCEAN - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the North Indian Ocean at a depth of 14.3 km (8.9 miles), the quake hit at 21:31:35 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 707 km (439 miles) WSW of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake ROTA REGION, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Rota Region, Northern Mariana Islands at a depth of 184.6 km (114.7 miles), the quake hit at 20:01:08 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 55 km (34 miles) West of Rota, Northern Mariana Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 5.1 km (3.2 miles), the quake hit at 18:59:45 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 32 km (19 miles) ESE of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Massachusetts bans bake sales (while the jackboots go on marching)

Bake sales, the calorie-laden standby cash-strapped classrooms, PTAs and booster clubs rely on, will be outlawed from public schools as of Aug. 1 as part of new no-nonsense nutrition standards, forcing fundraisers back to the blackboard to cook up alternative ways to raise money for kids.

At a minimum, the nosh clampdown targets so-called “competitive” foods — those sold or served during the school day in hallways, cafeterias, stores and vending machines outside the regular lunch program, including bake sales, holiday parties and treats dished out to reward academic achievement. But state officials are pushing schools to expand the ban 24/7 to include evening, weekend and community events such as banquets, door-to-door candy sales and football games.

The Departments of Public Health and Education contend clearing tables of even whole milk and white bread is necessary to combat an obesity epidemic affecting a third of the state’s 1.5 million students. But parents argue crudites won’t cut it when the bills come due on athletic equipment and band trips. more

Michael Pena NYPD Cop Jailed for Min. 75 Years for the Rape of a Young Woman

A former NYPD officer was jailed for life today for raping a young teacher at gunpoint after dragging her into an alley on her way to school.

Michael Pena, 28, was given the maximum sentence over the attack on his 24-year-old female victim last August.

The young woman wept in the front row of the courtroom when the judge at Manhattan Supreme Court said Pena must serve at least 75 years without parole.
The teacher had been on her way to teach the second-grade in the Bronx when Pena trailed her into an alley while pointing his service weapon and threatened to 'blow her f****** face off'.

He was implicated by the DNA he left on the woman's clothing and after a futile, early claim that the sex was consensual, he admitted he attacked her. Read more

Tornado in Japan killed a Teenager and Damaged more than 3000 Homes

A tornado has killed one person and left more than 3,000 homes in Japan without electricity.

Clean-up operations are underway across the prefectures of Ibaraki and Tochigi, near Tokyo, where around 900 homes were damaged.

Telephone poles were broken and cars and houses destroyed along its nine-mile path.

A 14-year-old boy died after being crushed when his house collapsed in the storm and dozens more have been injured. Source

EU plan to open welfare system to non-member migrants ...Only the UK would fall for this, Other EU countries REFUSE and always have done

Britain is launching a battle against EU plans to force the government to allow non-Europeans a benefit allowance.

They have been angered by an EU proposal to sign a deal with Turkey without Britain’s agreement, which could mean Turkish citizens’ would gain access to the UK welfare system.

Chris Grayling, the employment minister, has told British officials in Brussels to argue against the plans later this month, which encroach further on British sovereignty.

He is concerned that the move will pave the way for welfare deals with other countries outside the EU.

Mr Grayling said: 'The government takes the very firm view there should be no opening up of our welfare system to people coming from abroad who do not intend to work and contribute to British society.

'Our arrangements are for Britain to decide, not Brussels. I’m not happy with the way that the EU is behaving. Europe should not be negotiating social security agreements on our behalf, that’s why we’re going through the courts to stop them,' reported The Sunday Times. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 392 km (243 miles), the quake hit at 17:49:40 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 365 km (226.3 miles) East of Labasa, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Golden Dawn wants to force immigrants into work camps and plant landmines along Turkish border

A neo-Nazi party who advocate forcing immigrants into work camps and planting landmines along the border are today savouring unprecedented political success in Greece.

Golden Dawn party will enter parliament with seven per cent of the vote after the electorate shunned the main parties who they blame for plunging the nation into austerity.

The obscure extreme-right group are one of the biggest winners in a poll which has plunged Greece into a fresh political crisis.

The party, who deny being neo-Nazis, have branded journalists 'liars' and warned all 'traitors' to run scared.

They adopt the Nazi salute and have a stylised swastika as their logo and have already made inroads into local government - in areas of Athens where there are large numbers of immigrants.

At the last general election they took just 0.23 per cent of the vote.

But the group has cultivated a benevolent image in some Athens' neighbourhoods by dropping off food to needy families and escorting elderly residents to cash machines.

This time they easily passed the 3 per cent threshold to win their first seats in Parliament.

Flanked by burly, muscular men in tight black t-shirts, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos marched down the street in Athens yelling 'liars' and 'You must be ashamed for all your lies!' at foreign journalists following him.

'Greece is only the beginning,' he shouted at them. When asked what that meant, he said: 'You know very well', wagging a finger at the television camera.

As they strode to the hotel, his supporters began chanting 'Greece belongs to Greeks' and 'Foreigners get out of Greece'.

When asked what his first action in parliament would be, Mihaloliakos said: 'All the illegal immigration out! Out of my country, out of my home!'

Asked how he planned to carry that out, he angrily said: 'Use your imagination'.

As he entered the news conference, party members ordered assembled journalists to stand to attention. Read More

Germany warns France there is no easy way out after it elects anti-austerity president - as sour-faced Sarko breaks cover for last official duties

France's president elect Francois Hollande today began the task of building his new government as he was thrust right into the heart of the Eurozone crisis.

Just hours after his historic victory over Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Socialist's pledge to scrap the austerity agenda was already under attack from Germany.

And there was turmoil in Greece after voters failed to elect a majority government. Instead, the country faces weeks of protracted talks and uncertainty.

The result sent markets tumbling across Europe this morning though most exchanges had recovered by the end of the day. Greece remained 6.6 per cent down. Read More

Greece: Biggest Party Unable To Form Coalition

The leader of the conservative New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, says he is unable to form a coalition after the leftwing Syriza party refused to join.

It is now likely that Greece will be forced to hold repeat elections in mid-June.

And the public spending cuts agreed in return for bailouts from the EU, the IMF and European Central Bank will now be difficult to implement.

In a week's time, the new Greek government is supposed to redeem 436 million euros (£351m) of debt, held by private creditors who turned down a swap last month.

It must also recapitalise Greek banks that sustained heavy losses in that swap, which cut some 106bn euros from Greece's near- and mid-term debt of more than 350bn euros.

And Greece's previous administration had already promised its EU-IMF creditors that in June it would find another 11.5 billion euros ($9.3bn) in savings through 2014. Read More

Chen Guangcheng fears detained nephew may be tortured

Chinese activist recovering after house arrest says he is concerned about 'lawlessness' in home province of Shandong

The blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has said he fears his nephew may be beaten and tortured after being detained by police.

Although Chen was confident last week's high-level deal between China and the US would ensure his own wellbeing and freedom of movement, he told the Guardian he was concerned about the vulnerability of his relatives because of the "lawlessness" of his home province of Shandong.

The activist, who escaped from house arrest and initially fled to the US embassy last month, is now recuperating in a Beijing hospital.

But it has emerged that his nephew, Chen Kegui, is being investigated in connection with a bloody fight that broke out when local officials tried to enter the family home in Linyi, in Shandong province, after the escape.

The nephew previously said he stabbed one of the intruders in an act of self-defence. His lawyer, Liu Weiguo, who is being closely monitored by the police, said he was unable to talk freely about the case, which was still under investigation, but he feared the arrests of family members could hinder Chen's departure. Read More

Peter Mangs 'Racist Sniper' Charged with 3 Murders and 12 attempted murders

A Swedish man accused of targeting immigrants during a year-long campaign of shootings has been officially charged with murder.

Peter Mangs will face a total of 20 charges, including three murders and 12 attempted murders, after attacks that gripped the southern Swedish city of Malmo with fear during 2009 and 2010.

Chief prosecutor Solveig Wollstad said the case against the 40-year-old was very strong.

"The investigation comprises many cases of very aggravated criminality," she said.

Mangs was arrested in early November 2010 following a huge police manhunt in Sweden's third largest city

He has been charged with killing two men of immigrant origin in 2003 and one Swedish woman who had been sitting in a car with an immigrant man in late 2009.

He was also charged with 12 attempted murders in which he allegedly fired numerous shots with his Glock 19 pistol at homes, businesses and cars, seriously injuring a number of people. Read More


More to Follow

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake AZERBAIJAN - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Azerbaijan at a depth of 1 km (0.6 miles), the quake hit at 16:58:56 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 15 km (9.3 miles) Southeast from Zaqatala (Zakataly), Azerbaijan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Hedgehog killer strikes again as more animals found dead, England

A sadistic killer who slaughters hedgehogs with a crossbow appears to have struck again.

A year ago, the News reported how six of the little animals had been butchered and lined up in a row in a park area at Yarrow Road in Cherry Hinton.

Now local resident Tracy Okten, who was contacted by a dog walker friend last June about the grisly incident, says another group of hedgehogs have been found dead, close to the community primary school.

Mrs Okten, 49, of Buffalo Way, said: “Another three hedgehogs are lined up, and they all seem to have been shot again with a crossbow.

“In some bushes nearby, there are some other hedgehog corpses as well. There could be as many as 10 altogether.

“It is very like what happened a year ago, and it might well be the same person or persons – I just don’t know.

“But whoever is responsible is obviously a lunatic. I really can’t imagine what would make someone want to do something like that. Read More

Rabies Alert in Gwinnett County, Atlanta

Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement confirmed that a cat tested positive in the state's laboratory for rabies on May 2.

he cat was picked up from the area of Lake Carlton Road, Loganville, in unincorporated Gwinnett.

The concern by neighbors was the close proximity to J.C. Magill Elementary and Grace Snell Middle School. Officer R. Weldon with GCAWE said the cat was a domestic cat that had spent some time outside and returned showing symptoms of the disease. The state laboratory has now confirmed the animal was infected.

They suggest that if you or anyone you know has been bitten or scratched by any stray animal, or if you know of anyone handling this animal, call the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Office at 770.339.3200 ext. 5576. Source

Hannah Thomas-Jones, 14, died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at a campsite in Shropshire

A teenage girl who died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at a campsite in Shropshire has been named locally as Hannah Thomas-Jones.

All four members of the family were found unconscious in their tent in Bucknell, Shropshire on Sunday morning.

Hannah, 14, was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering cardiac arrest, while her 11-year-old brother and their parents were taken to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The boy is described as being stable but still "unwell", while his parents are now said to be in a comfortable condition.

The owners of the Baron at Bucknell campsite said a disposable barbecue used by the family on the first evening of their bank holiday break had been left in the porch of the tent.

On a Facebook page set up as a memorial, "RIP Hannah Thomas Jones! You Will Never Be Forgotten", friends have left messages for the teenager.

"Hannah you were a beautiful young girl and way too young to die," says one.

Many others simply say "RIP". Read More

Dead bird tests positive for H5N1 virus in Hong Kong

A carcass of a crested myna found on April 27 in Hong Kong was confirmed to be H5N1-positive after a series of laboratory tests, the city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said Monday.

The dead crested myna, which is a common resident bird in Hong Kong, was found and collected near Santa Monica Avenue, Royal Palms, Yuen Long.

The AFCD will continue to conduct inspections of poultry farms to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented. Source

Moderate earthquake jolts northwest Azerbaijan, injuring 15

ZAQATALA, AZERBAIJAN (BNO NEWS) -- A moderate earthquake shook northwestern Azerbaijan on late Monday morning, injuring more than a dozen people and seriously damaging a number of houses, officials said. Shaking was also felt in neighboring Russia and Georgia.

The 5.5-magnitude earthquake at 9:40 a.m. local time (0440 GMT) was centered about 17.5 kilometers (10.8 miles) south of Zaqatala, the capital of Zaqatala Rayon along the Tala River. It struck about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the Republican Seismic Survey Center of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS), which measured the strength of the earthquake at 5.6 on the body wave magnitude (Mb) scale, estimated some 450,000 people near the epicenter may have felt moderate to strong shaking. Another 6.6 million people may have felt weak to light shaking.

Officials at the country's Ministry of Emergency Situations said around 20 residential buildings near the epicenter were 'seriously damaged' as a result of the earthquake, which also damaged a number of other buildings and partly destroyed the sports hall of a school. At least 15 people were believed to be injured, but none of them were serious or required hospitalization. Read More

TEPCO Confirms Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Is Now An Uncontrolled, Open Air Fission Process (In case you missed it)

The cooling period for 548 of the 1,331 rods was shorter than that for others and the volume of decay heat emitted from the fuel in the No. 4 unit pool is larger compared with pools at other reactor buildings.

According to TEPCO, radioactive iodine-131 amounting to 220 becquerels per cubic centimeter, cesium-134 of 88 becquerels and cesium-137 of 93 becquerels were detected in the pool water. Those substances are generated by nuclear fission.

The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the confirmed radioactive materials were up to 100,000 times higher than normal but that the higher readings may have also been caused by the pouring of rainwater containing much radioactivity or particles of radiation-emitting rubble in the pool.

The roof and the upper walls of the No. 4 reactor building have been blown away by a hydrogen explosion and damaged by fires since the disaster struck the plant. The water level in the spent fuel pool is believed to have temporarily dropped. more

Dead Dolphins and Birds continue to wash up in Peru

Is Greece closer to leaving the euro?

May 7 - Residents in Athens give their verdict on whether Greece is closer to leaving the euro, after voting against austerity-for-aid policies in the election

US National Debt Now Exceeds $16 Trillion (Shhh! The economy is growing, remember!)

More economic pain forthcoming.

Death Threats For Man Who Killed 'Giant Rat'

A grandfather who caught and killed a 'giant rat', has said he has been getting death threats from animal rights activists.

Brian Watson, from County Durham, says people have called him a murderer since he spoke on television about clubbing the large rodent with a piece of wood.

In an interview with Sky Tyne and Wear in April, he showed a photograph of the dead animal, which was so big some observers have said it was a coypu, also known as a river rat.

Mr Watson said: "Since my last interview we've had quite a few phone calls and letters off cranks saying I'm a murderer, that it should be me that's clubbed to death because they're saying it's a coypu.

"I know the difference between a rat and a coypu, because I've lived in the country most of my life and it's vermin, and vermin should be destroyed.

"Rats carry diseases, that's why they get killed, so you crankers out there, don't waste my time and don't waste your own time," he added. Read More

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF WESTERN TURKEY - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck near the Coast of Western Turkey at a depth of 98 km (60.8 miles), the quake hit at 14:18:47 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 7 km (4.3 miles) Southeast of Skópelos, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake AZERBAIJAN - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Azerbaijan at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 14:15:14 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) ESE of Zaqatala (Zakataly), Azerbaijan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN IRAN - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck Southern Iran at a depth of 35 km (21.7 miles), the quake hit at 13:19:36 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 22 km (13 miles) Southeast of Bandar `Abbas, Iran
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE - 7th May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Central Mid-Atlantic Ridge at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 12:21:20 UTC Monday 7th May 2012
The epicenter was 1071 km (665 miles) Northwest of Ascension Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Germany rules out reworking EU's 'fiskalpakt'

Germany has ruled out reworking the European Union's "fiskalpakt" despite calls to do so by Francois Hollande, France's president-elect.

"It is not possible to renegotiate the fiscal pact," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said during a news conference.

He noted that 25 of the 27 EU member states had already signed the accord imposing strict budgetary discipline in March after major wrangling.

Mr Hollande has called for a shift in strategy toward more growth-oriented measures including more public spending.

But Mr Seibert said Angela Merkel would not accept "deficit spending" to feed economic expansion, and believed in "growth through structural reforms" such as reducing the cost of job creation as pursued by Germany over the last decade. Read More

'World to be dominated by China-US connection'

Arrested after Assange interview: Bahrain detains top human rights

Moscow Protests turns violent

Human Rights Deal in Difficulty, Chen Guangcheng's US Travel Encounters Obstacles

Chen Guangcheng Future Uncertain: Three Requests Covered Up

Iraq court to free U.S. killings suspect: lawyer

(Reuters) - A suspected Hezbollah militant accused of masterminding the killing of Americans in Iraq has been cleared of all charges and will be freed, his lawyer said on Monday, in an announcement that is likely to anger Washington.

Ali Mussa Daqduq was accused of training Iraqi militants and orchestrating a 2007 kidnapping attack that killed five U.S. troops.

"The Iraqi judiciary decided to dismiss all the charges against him and release him without any conditions because there was a lack of evidence," his lawyer Abdulalmehdi al-Mutiri said by telephone.

Daqduq's case became a source of tension between Baghdad and Washington in the run-up to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in December.

U.S. government officials originally sought to keep Daqduq in custody, saying they feared Iraqi authorities would be unable to hold him for long or convict him.

The U.S. officials said they eventually agreed to hand him over to the Iraqi authorities after receiving assurances Daqduq would be tried for his crimes. Read More

U.S. wants "urgent" Iranian steps in nuclear talks

(Reuters) - The United States called on Iran on Monday to take "urgent practical steps" to build confidence during nuclear talks with world powers, and the European Union said Tehran must suspend sensitive atomic activities.

Iran and the six powers resumed discussions in mid-April in Istanbul after a gap of more than a year - a chance to ease escalating tension and help to avert the threat of a new Middle East war.

The major powers - the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany - and Iran are to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad.

"We remain concerned by Iran's persistent failure to comply with its nonproliferation obligations," U.S. envoy Robert Wood told an international nuclear conference in Vienna, attended also by Iran.

"We seek a sustained process that produces concrete results, and call on Iran to take urgent practical steps to build confidence and lead to compliance with all its international obligations," Wood added.

At the same meeting, the 27-nation European Union said in a joint statement that Iran "must suspend" its uranium enrichment activities - something Tehran has repeatedly refused to do. Read More

Greek, French voters reject German-led austerity

(Reuters) - Greek voters dealt a serious blow on Sunday to the fragile political consensus that has kept Europe's currency bloc intact through more than two years of crisis, rejecting the austerity-for-aid policies that have shielded the country from bankruptcy and a euro exit.

Greece's vote, combined with the victory of Socialist Francois Hollande over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in a French presidential election, will raise pressure on Europe's paymaster Germany to pursue a more growth-oriented approach to the crisis.

But it is far from clear whether Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose insistence on tough deficit reduction in vulnerable southern euro members is popular in Germany, will take more than symbolic steps in that direction, even after Sunday's elections.

"This shows that politics is getting out of control in Europe, the gap between politicians and voters is widening, that's what you see in Greece, that's what you see in France," said Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen. Read More

Nepal floods: Hopes fade for missing

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- Rescue workers continued their search Monday for survivors from a flash flood in central Nepal that swept away houses over the weekend, killing at least 17 people and leaving as many as 47 missing.

The authorities are using sniffer dogs to try to find the missing people and excavators to clear debris, said Sailesh Thapa, police superintendent of Kaski District where the flooding occurred.

The flooding took place near the Annapurna range of mountains, a part of the Himalayas popular among hiking enthusiasts. Three Ukrainian trekkers are among the missing.

The likelihood of finding any survivors is diminishing quickly, though. Thapa said Sunday that the chance of finding any of the missing people was "extremely minimal." Of the 17 bodies recovered, only 12 have been identified, he said. Read More