Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Monday, July 30, 2012

Abu Qatada Launches New Bid For Freedom

Radical preacher Abu Qatada is launching a fresh bid for freedom at the High Court later.

He will ask two judges for permission to challenge his ongoing detention by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled two months ago his detention was lawful.

Leaving him free during heightened security for the 2012 Olympics would be "exceptionally problematic", a judge said.

Lawyers for Qatada, referred to in legal documents as Omar Mahmoud Othman, are expected to argue that the Home Secretary and Siac are acting unlawfully.

The lawyers are applying for permission to seek judicial review and a writ of habeas corpus freeing him from custody while he fights deportation to Jordan.

His last appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over his removal failed on May 9. Read More

Ann Pettway Jailed After Raising Child she Kidnapped in 1987 As Own

A woman who snatched a newborn baby from a New York hospital in 1987 and raised the child as her own is jailed for 12 years.

Ann Pettway, who pleaded guilty to the abduction in February, took three-week-old Carlina White from the Harlem hospital emergency department where she had been taken with a high fever.

Her real parents did not see her for 23 years until Carlina herself - who was brought up in Connecticut under the name Nejdra Nance - became suspicious and discovered her identity while browsing the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In sentencing Pettway, Judge Kevin Castel said the defendant had been mentally ill and deeply depressed after three miscarriages when she decided to dress up as a nurse and carry out the abduction.

But he added that she had "inflicted a parents' worst nightmare".

Pettway, who had agreed to plead guilty in return for a more lenient sentence, apologised for her actions and said she still loved the woman she raised.

"All I can do now is ask forgiveness from her and her parents. It may not sound correct on paper but I am hopelessly sorry," she wrote.

"My action led to such a huge loss for her parents, but there is nothing I can do to right this wrong that I committed." Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 31st July 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck TONGA at a depth of 34.7 km (21.6 miles), the quake hit at 02:20:11 UTC Tuesday 31st July 2012
The epicenter was 45 km (27 miles) Northwest of Nuku`alofa, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION - 31st July 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 121.6 km (75.6 miles), the quake hit at 02:07:31 UTC Tuesday 31st July 2012
The epicenter was 111 km (68 miles) ESE of Pondaguitan, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 31st July 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the KURIL ISLANDS at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 01:35:49 UTC Tuesday 31st July 2012
The epicenter was 51 km (31.6 miles) Southeast of Severo-kurilsk, Kuril Islands, Russia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake COLOMBIA - 31st July 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck COLOMBIA at a depth of 53 km (32.8 miles), the quake hit at 01:26:39 UTC Tuesday 31st July 2012
The epicenter was 4 km (2.4 miles) Northeast of Obando, Colombia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHWESTERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA - 30th July 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck SOUTHWESTERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA at a depth of 16 km (9.9 miles), the quake hit at 22:30:44 UTC Monday 30th July 2012
The epicenter was 48 km (29 miles) West of Ust'-Ulagan, Russia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR NORTH COAST OF NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 30th July 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck NEAR NORTH COAST OF NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA at a depth of 31.6 km (19.6 miles), the quake hit at 21:46:53 UTC Monday 30th July 2012
The epicenter was 57 km (35 miles) ESE of Aitape, Papua New Guinea
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

3.1 Magnitude Earthquake OKLAHOMA - 30th July 2012

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake has struck OKLAHOMA at a depth of 15.1 km (9.4 miles), the quake hit at 19:35:07 UTC Monday 30th July 2012
The epicenter was 6 km (3.7 miles) ESE from Meeker, Oklahoma
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Wall Street Already Betting On Who Wins in November

With just 100 days left until the U.S. presidential election, investors are beginning to make bigger bets on which candidate will carry the day.

One analysis concludes that last week's sharp three-day market surge can only mean that Wall Street is banking on a victory from Republican Mitt Romney.

That's the logical interpretation one can draw from a rally amid conditions that otherwise would demand a selloff, Morgan Stanley chief U.S. equity strategist Adam S. Parker said in an analysis that asserts there is no other reason now to like stocks than a Romney win.

"The problem is that it’s impossible to be bullish and right for the right reasons," Parker said in a note to clients in which he reiterated his 2012 price target for the Standard & Poor's 500 [.SPX 1385.30 -0.67 (-0.05%) ] at 1,214, which would mark a 12 percent drop from the current level.

"Nearly every day someone expresses surprise that our base case is for the equity market to be down by 10-15 percent. Why is this so hard to believe? The market has had eight 10 percent down moves in the last 12 years," Parker said. "We think a better question is why more people don’t forecast that the next 10-15 percent move is down than up?" more

In Soviet Russia, even animals cooperate. Forward, together!

Are America's fleet of 30,000 spy drones going to be deployed to tackle civil unrest in the run-up to the election?

The Department of Homeland Security is researching the use of spy drones to monitor and provide surveillance on major 'public safety events.'

This has led some to worry that thousands of unmanned aircraft could be used by the federal government to quell civil unrest in the run-up to the November 6 presidential election.

Info Wars, a website run by right-leaning conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, cites a $50million contract Homeland Security offered to capture, process and analyze aerial images of 'national special security events.'

The site says it is tracking a buildup in US security, including riot gear orders and an expanded presence of Transportation Security Administration screeners at some train depots and outside airports.

There are already 63 unmanned drone bases scattered across 20 states in the US. Read More

Angela Merkel 'profoundly disturbed' after poll shows over half of Germans believe they would be better off without euro

Angela Merkel has admitted to being 'profoundly disturbed' after a poll showed over half her countrymen believe they would be better off jettisoning the euro.

As the German Chancellor continues to talk up the fight to save the common currency, 51 per cent of Germans believe Europe's top economy would be better outside the 17-country eurozone.

Just 29 percent said it would be worse off.

'The Germans no longer believe in the euro,' was the headline in Focus magazine. 'Germans have little faith in the euro,' said the Rheinische Post.

The survey comes at a critical times for the common currency as Greece and Spain are both teetering on the brink and analysts predict there could be less than a month to save it. Read More

UFO spotted among fireworks at Olympics opening ceremony

As fireworks lit up the heavens above the Olympics opening ceremony, watched by around a billion people, something else was seen among the whizz-bangs in the night sky... a UFO.

It may have ticked all the cliche boxes - saucer-shaped, bulge in the middle, metallic - but no one has yet stepped forward to explain the slow-moving object.

The incident came right at the close of last Friday's spectacular at the Olympic Park stadium in Stratford, east London at around 12.30am.

And it was just as Nick Pope, one of the UK’s top UFO experts, predicted only weeks ago - that mass summer events would be a prime time for crafts from other worlds to present themselves to mankind. Read More

Ralph Carnegary, 63, stabbed on New York Subway by a 'Wolf pack' of drunken girls

A 63-year-old war veteran was attacked and stabbed by a group of young girls on a subway after he rebuked them for being too noisy.

The group of girls - who were thought to be drunk - were aged between 15 and 20 and were traveling on a New York subway early on Sunday morning.

Ralph Carnegary, of Queens, said he was on his way to work as a souvenir vendor on Wall Street when he encountered the gang around 6.15am.

He told the New York Daily News he 'couldn't hear himself think' and made a remark to his friend about them being 'retarded' if they felt the need to talk so loudly.

When he told the group to calm down and be quiet, that's when they turned on him, a witness said.

The eight girls started punching Mr Carnegary with their fists. He was trying to shield himself and block their punches when one of them allegedly yelled: 'Go for him' and 'cut him'. Read More

Anti-nuclear protesters rally in Japan

Massive power cut strikes northern India Leaving Hundreds of millions in the Dark

'Panetta has blood on his hands for supporting Syria rebels'

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake OFF COAST OF MAULE, CHILE - 30th July 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck OFF COAST OF MAULE, CHILE at a depth of 29 km (18 miles), the quake hit at 18:49:41 UTC Monday 30th July 2012
The epicenter was 137 km (84.9 miles) Northwest of Talcahuano, BiobĂ­o Region, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Dozens of Pakistan's Peacocks die after being hit by highly contagious Newcastle virus

Wildlife experts are shocked at the recent mass-death of wild peacocks fearing it may be an outbreak of the highly contagious Newcastle disease.

At least 60 peacocks were found perished in the Thar desert in southern Pakistan, officials have confirmed, but local media reports say hundreds of the exotic birds have died.

Newcastle disease, which has nothing to do with Cheryl Cole or Brown Ale, is the deadliest of all viruses spread among birds.

The Pakistani wildlife ministry said tests were being done to determine cause of death, but experts are suspecting they may have been afflicted with Newcastle disease, known locally as ‘ranikhet’.

A spokesperson said the wild peacocks had been weakened by starvation, deforestation and a lack of safe drinking water blamed on delays to the annual monsoon rains. Read More

Automatic shutdown at South Korea nuclear reactor

SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean nuclear reactor went into automatic shutdown on Monday apparently after a malfunction, plant operators said, while ruling out a possible radiation leak.

The 1,000-megawatt reactor at Yeonggwang some 260 kilometres (156 miles) south of Seoul halted operations after warning signals around 3:00 pm (0600 GMT), the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power said.

An investigation was under way to determine the cause of the shutdown, it said, adding there was no danger of a radiation leak.

A warning signal and automatic shutdown can be triggered by a number of factors including malfunctions in the cooling pump, Yonhap news agency said. Read More

Flooding in North Korea leaves more than 60000 homeless

ANJU, North Korea -- Heavy rain pounded North Korea for a second day Monday, submerging buildings, cutting off power, flooding rice paddies and forcing people and their livestock to reach safety on dry rooftops.

The latest rain follows downpours earlier this month that killed nearly 90 people and left more than 60,000 homeless, officials said. The floods come on the heels of a severe drought, fueling renewed food worries about a country that already struggles to feed its people.

Two-thirds of North Korea's 24 million people face chronic food shortages, a U.N. report said last month, while asking donors for $198 million in humanitarian aid for the country. South Korean analyst Kwon Tae-jin said the recent flooding, coming so soon after the dry spell, is expected to worsen the North's food problems.

On Sunday and Monday, rain hit the capital Pyongyang and other regions, with western coastal areas reporting heavy damage.

In Anju city in South Phyongan Province, officials reported 1,000 houses and buildings were destroyed and 5,680 acres of farmland were completely covered. Read More

Turkey Strengthens Forces on Syrian Border

ANTAKYA, Turkey — The Turkish military dispatched troops, armored personnel carriers and missile batteries to the Syrian border on Monday, shoring up defenses against a country that has plunged into turmoil with some serious potential repercussions for Turkey.

In the past few weeks, as Syria’s government has struggled against an inchoate but spirited rebel army, chunks of Syria have fallen into the hands of Kurdish militias while at least one area along Turkey’s border is now controlled by jihadist groups dominated by heavily armed foreign fighters.

Television pictures on Monday showed a convoy of Turkish army trucks chugging down a highway running along the Syrian border. The semi-official Anatolia News Agency reported that mobile missile batteries in Iskenderun, a southern coastal town, were being relocated by rail to Islahiye township, along the border. Read More

Two dead in suicide attacks on Nigeria police stations

KANO, Nigeria — Suicide bombings at two police stations Monday killed at least two people in the northwestern Nigerian city of Sokoto, the historic seat of Islam in the country, officials and residents said.

Separately, police guarding a home belonging to Vice President Namadi Sambo came under fire from gunmen in the northern city of Zaria, leaving one civilian dead. No one lives at the house, which is undergoing repairs from damage inflicted in post-election riots last year.

Boko Haram Islamists, responsible for scores of deadly gun and bomb attacks in recent months, are suspected of having hideouts in Sokoto, but the group has rarely struck within the city.

A Red Cross official said the explosions at the Yan Marina police station in the city centre and the Unguwar Rogo station were both caused by suicide bombers.

"A policeman and woman were killed in the bombings. Thirty people were injured, mostly around the market in the Yan Marina neighbourhood," said the official who requested anonymity.

Yan Marina resident Usman Bube said the area was "engulfed in flames". Read More

North Korea calls reform talks as 'foolish and silly dream'

North Korea has warned the South not to expect any reforms under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, and dismissed the reform talks as "foolish and silly dream."

In an interview with the state-run KCNA news agency on Sunday, a spokesman for North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea rejected any possibility of reforms in the country, AFP reported.

"The puppet group (the South)...tried to give [the] impression that the present leadership of the DPRK (North Korea) broke with the past. This is the height of ignorance," the spokesman said.

"To expect policy change and reform and opening from the DPRK is nothing but a foolish and silly dream, just like wanting the sun to rise in the west."

The spokesman also said South Korea is making efforts to impose its capitalist system upon the North by "trumpeting reform and opening." Read More

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake LUZON, PHILIPPINES - 30th July 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck LUZON, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:43:29 UTC Monday 30th July 2012
The epicenter was 62 km (39 miles) South from Laoag, Luzon, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Gorillas Outsmart Poachers: Are the Apes Rising?

We’ve been so fixated on the zombie apocalypse that we didn’t even realize the apes were quietly rising. Or, at least, exhibiting signs of intelligence that ought to put their human poachers on edge.

They may not be smart as Caesar, the genetically modified chimp who outsmarts his captors and frees hundreds of research animals in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but gorillas in Rwanda are outwitting potential captors and saving their peers from deadly traps.

According to field staff from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, several young gorillas have been spotted destroying snares that are set to maim and kill wild apes. “Today, two juveniles and one blackback worked together to deactivate two snares and how they did it demonstrated an impressive cognitive skill,” a staff person from the Karisoke Research Center told the Huffington Post. Just two days before, one such snare had severely injured a young ape named Ngwino, who dislocated her shoulder in a desperate attempt to escape. What’s worse, she contracted gangrene from cuts to her leg.

John Ndayambaje, the Fossey Fund field data coordinator, said he saw a group of gorillas nearing a snare, when a silverback called Vuba made a sound of warning. Two juveniles and a blackback responded by running toward the snare and destroying it with their bare hand. They did the same to another snare nearby. more

James Holmes with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder

Prosecutors have charged the suspect in the Colorado theatre rampage with 24 counts of murder for one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

James Holmes, 24, was also charged with 116 counts of attempted murder.

Twelve people were killed, and 58 people were wounded or injured in the shooting.

Holmes is also charged with one count of possession of explosives. Authorities say he booby-trapped his apartment.

Holmes was arrested shortly after the rampage during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

Legal analysts expect his case to be dominated by arguments over his sanity.

Holmes was a student at the University of Colorado Denver before withdrawing last month. Source

Andhra train fire: 32 killed, sabotage angle to be probed, India

Thirty-two people were on Monday charred to death and 25 others injured when a fire broke out in a coach of New Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh with railway minister Mukul Roy indicating that there could have been a blast. Additional DG Railways VSK Kaumudi said that 32 bodies have been recovered so far from the charred S-11 bogie of the train.

South Central Railway officials in Hyderabad said 25 people have been injured in the mishap and have been admitted to different hospitals.
The Nellore station manager noticed the fire in one of the bogies of the train at 4:15 AM and alerted officials. Two fire tenders were rushed to the spot immediately to put out the fire and they managed to restrict the blaze to the S-11 bogie, they said.

In Kolkata, the Railway Minister said, "Some of the injured passengers admitted to hospitals and a gateman at one of the level crossings near Nellore station heard a loud sound when the fire occurred in the coach".

Roy said that the Divisional Railway Manager had also said that there was a report of a blast even as the minister maintained that nothing can be "excluded" as to what caused the fire. Read More

Rio Ferdinand Charged Over Twitter Comments

Rio Ferdinand has been charged by the Football Association over comments he made at the end of the John Terry trial.

Following Terry's acquittal for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton, the Manchester United defender responded to a tweet that characterised Terry's Chelsea teammate Ashley Cole - a defence witness in the trial - as a "choc ice".

The term is commonly understood to mean "black on the outside, white on the inside" and was a reference to Cole's testimony in court, in which he said he never heard Terry make a racist remark towards Anton Ferdinand during a match at Loftus Road in October.

An FA statement said: "The FA has today charged Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand with improper conduct in relation to comments posted on Twitter. Read More

India power grid failure puts 370 million in the dark

Northern India's power grid crashed Monday, halting hundreds of trains, forcing hospitals and airports to use backup generators and leaving 370 million people — more than the population of the United States and Canada combined — sweltering in the summer heat.

The blackout, one of the worst to hit India in a decade, highlighted the nation's inability to feed a growing hunger for energy as it strives to become a regional economic power.

The northern grid crashed about 2:30 a.m. because it could no longer keep up with the huge demand for power in the hot summer, officials in the state of Uttar Pradesh said. However, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he was not sure exactly what caused the collapse and had formed a committee to investigate it.

The grid feeds the nation's breadbasket in Punjab, the war-wracked region of Kashmir, the burgeoning capital of New Delhi, the Dalai Lama's Himalayan headquarters in Dharmsala and the world's most populous state, the poverty stricken Uttar Pradesh. more

Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post

The most senior Syrian diplomat in London has left his post because he is "no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts".

The Foreign Office said Khaled al Ayoubi's decision illustrated the "revulsion and despair" the regime's actions were provoking amongst Syrians.

A spokesperson for the FCO said: "We urge others around Bashar al Assad to follow Mr al Ayoubi's example; to disassociate themselves from the crimes being committed against the Syrian people and to support a peaceful and free future for Syria."

It comes as the battle between government forces and opposition fighters in Syria's largest city intensified. Read More

Madhura Nagendra Olympic Gatecrasher

The mystery woman who crashed India's athletes' parade has been identified as Madhura Nagendra, a postgraduate student from Bangalore.

Nagendra, who is studying for an MBA in London, came through an audition to earn a place as a dancer in the spectacular opening ceremony for London 2012.

But after taking her place among the thousands of other volunteer performers, she then decided to prolong her moment in the spotlight. She snuck in among the Indian athletes as they began their parade around the Olympic stadium on Friday night, taking a prominent place at the front of the group next to Beijing bronze medallist Sushil Kumar, who was the flag-bearer.

Millions of people across the world wondered who the woman in a red top and blue trousers was, with the Indian Olympic contingent outraged that their moment in the spotlight had been hijacked by what was then an unidentified mystery woman.

But back in India, her friends and family recognised her instantly. Read More

Train strikes bus in Poland, Killing 8

July 30 - At least eight people are killed as a train smashes into a minibus in central Poland on Monday. Travis Brecher reports.

Air pollution turns Beijing into "Greyjing"

(Reuters) - With its parks, centuries-old palaces, history and culture, Beijing should be one of the more pleasant capitals of the world. Instead, it's considered among the worst to live in because of chronic air pollution.

Lung cancer rates are rising among the 20 million residents of China's capital, health officials say. For many multinational companies, Beijing is considered a hardship posting and, despite the extra allowances that classification brings, some executives are leaving.

On some days, Beijing is enveloped in a brownish-grey smog, so thick it gets indoors, stings the eyes and darkens the sky in the middle of the day.

Smoke from factories and heating plants, winds blowing in from the Gobi Desert and fumes from millions of vehicles can combine to blanket the city in this pungent shroud for days. English-speaking residents sometimes call the city "Greyjing" or "Beige-jing". Read More

ECB President under pressure to save euro

(Reuters) - European Central Bank President Mario Draghi must back up his pledge to do what it takes to protect the euro when the bank's policymakers meet on Thursday or else face deep disappointment from investors hungry for - and expecting - immediate action.

In his boldest comments to date, Draghi said last week that, within its mandate, the ECB was ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, fuelling expectation it could revive its bond purchase program as it did a year ago when it started buying the government debt of Spain and Italy.

But that is far from certain. The ECB might instead explore new policy tools such as outright asset purchases, or quantitative easing, something its peers in Britain, the United States and Japan are already using to stimulate growth.

There have also been recent suggestions that it could empower national central banks to broaden their asset buying abilities. Read More

Amid the ruins in Aleppo, Syrian rebels see victory

(Reuters) - The rebel banner of independence waves over the scorched streets and gutted cars that litter the urban battlegrounds of Aleppo, scars of a struggle in Syria's second largest city that fighters believe they are destined to win within weeks.

The scruffy, rifle-wielding youths are undeterred by the fate of equally bold, but ultimately crushed campaigns by rebels in the capital Damascus or in Homs, the bloody epicenter of the 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

Careening through streets ripped up by army tanks on their motorbikes and flatbed trucks, young rebels with camouflage pants and Kalashnikovs patrol their newly acquired territory, which stretches from the outskirts of Aleppo in the northeast and sweeps around the city down to the southwestern corner. Read More

Mega Bounce Frog ride Accident at Billy Bates Fairground in Abbey Park, Leicester leaves 2 Injured

Two teenagers have been injured after being catapulted from a fairground ride.

The boys were on the Mega Bounce Frog ride at Billy Bates Fairground in Abbey Park, Leicester, when it broke on Saturday evening.

Video footage taken by a witness shows the carriage, which was carrying the pair, detach from the ride and flip over into a metal barrier.

One of the youngsters has been in intensive care after suffering a broken arm, ribs and chest injuries. The other teenager suffered a broken nose and teeth. They are both believed to be around 16-years-old.

Zimran Isyas was filming friends on the ride and captured the moment the accident happened.

The 18-year-old, from Leicester, said: "The ride was going pretty fast, and when the carriage came off everyone just went crazy.

"There were lots of kids on the ride and they were all crying. When it stopped their parents ran towards them and quickly took them out of their seats.

"The whole thing was shocking. The two lads could have died if the carriage had fallen off mid-air." Read More

Radical Islamists stone adulterous couple to death in northern Mali

A man and woman who had an adulterous relationship have been stoned to death by radical Islamists in northern Mali, a spokesman for the group Ansar Dine has said.

Sanda Abou Mohamed told the Associated Press on Sunday the couple were executed according to sharia law in the town of Aguelhok.

A resident of the nearby city of Kidal, who had spoken to witnesses in Aguelhok, told AP the couple were buried up to their necks, then pelted with stones until they died. The resident requested anonymity because he feared for his safety.

The west African nation, once seen as a pillar of democracy in the troubled region, has been split in two since a coup in March. Tuareg rebels took control of Mali's vast north but they have since been driven out by al-Qaida-linked Islamists seeking to impose sharia law. An estimated 300,000 people have fled.

There was international condemnation after Islamist fighters in the ancient city of Timbuktu destroyed centuries-old shrines to Islamic saints revered by Sufi Muslims. Read More

Kim Jong-un's uncle emerges as power behind throne

Jang Song-taek, the uncle of Kim Jong-un has solidified his position and is systematically dismantling the power structure put in place by Kim Jong-il before his death in 2011, South Korea's reports.

Jang is married to a younger sister of the late Korean leader.

The news agency affiliated with Chosunilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, cites an informed source saying that Jang has removed U Dong-chuk, first deputy director of the State Security Department along with army chief, Ri Yong-ho. Both were appointed by Kim Jong-il in January 2009, when he also selected his third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il over an elder son living said to be living in Macau.

It is also reported that Ri Je-gang, a one-time first deputy director of the Workers Party's powerful Organization and Guidance Department, and Jang's greatest rival, died in a mysterious car accident in May 2010, just a few days before Jang was to be promoted.

Spy chief Ryu Kyong was also accused of treason early in 2011 following a visit to Seoul and was purged, said. Read More

Harvard Study Finds Fluoride Lowers IQ

Iran to support Syrian gov't under any circumstances: speaker

TEHRAN, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani said Iran will continue to support the Syrian government under any circumstances, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Monday.

"As with the past, under any circumstances the Iranian nation and government will remain on the side of the Syrian government and nation," Larijani said in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Tehran on Sunday.

"A big global and regional conspiracy" has been orchestrated against Syria because they are upset over the "progressive positions" of the Syrian people and government, said Larijani, adding that the "prospects" are in favor of the Syrian government and people.

For his part, Muallem appreciated the support of Iran and said that "Syrians will never forget the brotherly support of the Iranian people." Read More

Rachel Hewitt Jailed after pretending daughter had cancer

A former police officer who lied about her daughter having cancer so she could take her to showjumping events has been jailed.

Rachel Hewitt, 39, of South Elmsall in West Yorkshire, claimed her teenage daughter was having chemotherapy and had been critically ill in intensive care.

North Yorkshire police gave her compassionate leave and special shifts and colleagues even organised whip-rounds to buy the family gifts.

But her daughter was actually taking part in equestrian contests, which Hewitt took her to after telling a "pack of lies", Hull crown court heard.

Jailing Hewitt for 18 months, the judge said she had shown an "extreme breach of trust" by spinning lie after lie for around two years before she was arrested last October.

Hewitt was also granted time off from her role, for which she got a salary of up to £29,400, after claiming she had swine flu and other serious illnesses, Simon Batiste, prosecuting, told the court.

"It is implicit in the job of police officer that the public expect the highest level of honesty and integrity from the officers who serve the community," he said. Read More

Floods force evacuations in Costa Rica

(CNN) -- Heavy rains in central and eastern Costa Rica have triggered floods that have forced evacuations and may be responsible for at least one death, relief workers said Sunday.

Four people are missing, down from eight earlier, according to Freddy Roman, a spokesman for the local Red Cross.

The government has declared a "yellow alert" in various parts of Cartago, a central province where one person was reported dead, said Roman. The person was rescued after a landslide, but died on the way to the hospital from injuries and heart failure, he said.

A yellow alert is also in effect for parts of Limon, an eastern province.

More than 1,500 people have taken refuge at shelters and others are waiting to be rescued, according to the Red Cross. Read More