Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Friday, May 17, 2013

Raytheon's "RIOT" Software Tracks Trillions of Pieces of Your Data on Facebook

Software was pitched to the U.S. government, but not yet sold

Raytheon Comp. (RTN) has created a social networking tracking program called Rapid Information Overlay Technology -- or "RIOT", for short -- which is building a database of trillions of pieces of data on millions of users' social networking profiles. The software digs into the usual suspects -- Facebook, Inc.'s (FB) ubiquitous social network, popular microblogging site Twitter, and FourSquare, whose location-aware apps boast 25 million users.

I. RIOT is Watching You

The idea of RIOT is to allow government agents to in a click or two examine both your behavior history, and more interestingly (or alarmingly) predict your potential future actions.

Today, mobile client use has finally overtaken desktop use for Facebook, the world's largest network. But hidden in most mobile posts by Facebook's over 1 billion users is an information is an "exif" information tag, a special string that identifies the latitude and longitude the user posted from. By mining exif data publicly available posts (or alternatively creating Facebook softbots to friend users and lure them into RIOT's circle of friendship), RIOT is capable of tracking citizens' daily movements.

In a video, Brian Urch, principle investigator on the RIOT project at Raytheon describes, "We're going to track one of our own employees."

U.S, U.K, Turkey, and European Union determined to save ailing Petro-dollar by preventing completion of Iran’s Pars gas field pipeline through Iraq and Syria to Mediterranean

By 2007 over 3.9 million people, or 16 per cent of the Iraqi population, had become uprooted. Of these, around two million fled Iraq to flood neighbouring countries, and about 1.9 million are refugees inside Iraq. The 2012 UNICEF survey of Iraqi households found that between 800,000 and a million Iraqi children under 18 have lost one or both of their parents. The estimated number of orphans across Iraq ranges from 400,000 (according to the Baghdad Provincial Council), to five million (according to Iraq’s anti-corruption board). Due to the lack of any genuine national reconciliation and basic trust, a sustained and stable political settlement in Iraq remains unfeasible, so Iraqis are falling back on previous institutions and patterns of behaviour relied upon when faced with fear and uncertainty.

By the time Washington was preparing to draw down forces in Iraq, wrote Robert Tollast in The National Interest on 31 December 2012, “elements of ISOF (the U.S-trained and equipped Iraqi Special Operations Forces) were already being used as a private army by Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.” Over the preceding 12 months Maliki ordered the arrest of bodyguards of the Finance Minister Rafa al-Issawi while government forces and tanks intimidated the residences of Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. These events led radicalised groups parading themselves under titles like al-Qaeda of Western Iraq and Syria to take advantage of popular outrage to fuel increasingly radicalised and increasingly violent rebellion. Together with similarly disaffected Yemenis and Libyans many have joined the Saudi and Qatari financed Salafist groups attempting regime change in Syria and Iraq under the covert guidance of NATO.

The U.S, U.K, Turkey, and the European Union are determined to save the ailing Petro-dollar by preventing the completion of Iran’s Pars gas field pipeline, through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. Should the Pars pipeline go online and remain under Russian, Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian control, then Russia would control approximately 40 per cent of Europe’s gas consumption, and with a Russian allied Syria, Russia would also be able to take part in the development of major gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean Levantine Basin.

Matt's thoughts:
And at last, it all becomes clear.

Mali and AFRICOM’s Africa Agenda: Target China

Mali at first glance seems a most unlikely place for the NATO powers, led by a neo-colonialist French government of Socialist President Francois Hollande (and quietly backed to the hilt by the Obama Administration), to launch what is being called by some a new Thirty Years’ War Against Terrorism.

Mali, with a population of some 12 million, and a landmass three and a half times the size of Germany, is a land-locked largely Saharan Desert country in the center of western Africa, bordered by Algeria to its north, Mauritania to its west, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger to its southern part. People I know who have spent time there before the recent US-led efforts at destabilization called it one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on earth, the home of Timbuktu. Its people are some ninety percent Muslim of varying persuasions. It has a rural subsistence agriculture and adult illiteracy of nearly 50%. Yet this country is suddenly the center of a new global “war on terror.”

Pentagon: NK Could Have 200 Mobile Launchers

The U.S. Department of Defense believes that North Korea could have up to 200 mobile missile launchers, according to an annual report submitted to Congress.

The number includes a maximum of 100 launchers for short-range Scud missiles, 50 for medium-range Nodong missiles, and 50 for long-range Musudan missiles. However, these are upper estimates, and totals could be much lower.

This is the first time that the United States has publicly speculated about North Korean stocks of Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs). At its maximum, 200, the report marks a more than two-fold increase on a previous South Korean estimate of 94.

Elsewhere, the report also contains data on other areas of North Korean military capability, most of which are broadly in line with South Korean estimates published in its “2012 National Defense White Paper.”

Trains Collide In Connecticut: Dozens Hurt

Up to 60 people have been hospitalised after a collision between two US commuter trains serving New York City, police say.

Five of the injured are critical after a "major derailment" near Fairfield, Connecticut, just outside Bridgeport.

The commuter line serves the northern suburbs of New York. The accident happened shortly after 6pm, US time.

Obama Consoles Student After Failing To Answer '2 Minus 1' Correctly: 'Subtraction Is Tougher Than Addition'...

President Barack Obama left behind scandal-focused Washington on Friday to focus on the country’s slowly improving jobs picture.

Obama took a short helicopter trip about 40 miles north to Baltimore, which has had its share of tough times in the move from an industrial to service economy. But Maryland has experienced job growth this year as part of a nationwide economic recovery.

The White House said the trip would focus on three areas of needed investment to grow the middle class — jobs, skills and opportunity.

The president plans to highlight one of the manufacturing companies still thriving in the city by speaking at Ellicott Dredges. It makes equipment for excavation under water and on beachfronts around the world.

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake CENTRAL PERU - 17th May 2013

Magnitude mb 4.5
Date time 2013-05-17 16:29:52.3 UTC
Location 10.48 S ; 75.23 W
Depth 39 km
21 km NE of Oxapampa, Peru / pop: 7,743 / local time: 11:29:52.3 2013-05-17

UFO Over Argentina And Chile-Ovnis En Argenitna y Chile 09/05/2013 ovnis Neuquén

UFO OVNI Santiago Chile Pirque 24 March 2013

And just when you thought you lost all faith in humanity... People rescuing dolphins in Brazil!

Animated Soviet Propaganda - American Imperialist: The Millionaire

Education For Death - Disney WWII Propaganda Cartoon

Europe Day Ahead: Draghi makes a bee-line for London

Pro-Assad hackers attack Financial Times

The website and Twitter feed of the Financial Times were hacked on Friday, apparently by the "Syrian Electronic Army", a group of online activists who say they support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The group posted links on the newspaper's Twitter feed to a YouTube video, uploaded on Wednesday, which purports to show members of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front Syrian rebel group executing blindfolded and kneeling members of the Syrian army.

The video could not be independently verified.

Toronto mayor denies smoking crack: lawyer

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denies allegations that he smoked crack cocaine, his lawyer told the Toronto Sun on Friday.

Reporters for the Toronto Star, a rival Canadian newspaper, and Gawker Media, a U.S. media outlet, said they had seen a video that appears to show Ford smoking crack.

The lawyer, Dennis Morris, told the Toronto Sun that the mayor is denying "any such allegation."

Lawmakers accuse IRS officials of lying in scandal

Lawmakers accused leaders of the Internal Revenue Service of lying on Friday as they opened the first in a series of investigative hearings about the tax collection agency's targeting of conservative groups.

Republicans and Democrats said senior IRS officials should have alerted Congress last year when they found out that their examiners were singling out Tea Party groups for intense scrutiny when the groups applied for tax-exempt status.

"That isn't being misled. That's lying," said Republican Dave Camp, the chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

Le Vell Denies 19 Child Sex Offences

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has denied a series of child sex offences as he appeared in court.

The star, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, answered "not guilty" 19 times in a clear, strong voice as each of the charges were put to him by the clerk during the brief hearing at Manchester Crown Court.

The 48-year-old is charged under his real name of Michael Turner with 19 offences in all, including six counts of raping a child, six allegations of indecently assaulting a child and seven counts of sexual activity with a child.

Madeleine McCann: New Suspects Identified

Police have identified a number of suspects in the case of missing Madeleine McCann, Scotland Yard has disclosed.

Officers investigating the case as part of a review have drawn up a list of "people of interest" they wish to speak to in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine in May 2007.

The review was launched in 2011 in an attempt to find out what happened to the toddler who vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algarve.

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN IRAN - 17th May 2013

Magnitude M 4.7
Date time 2013-05-17 14:45:28.0 UTC
Location 26.92 N ; 57.74 E
Depth 60 km
70 km E of Mīnāb, Iran / pop: 70,790 / local time: 19:15:28.0 2013-05-17

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN SICHUAN, CHINA - 17th May 2013

Magnitude M 4.9
Date time 2013-05-17 14:37:42.0 UTC
Location 29.24 N ; 100.20 E
Depth 10 km
192 km SW of Kangding, China / pop: 100,000 / local time: 22:37:42.0 2013-05-17

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN ONTARIO, CANADA - 17th May 2013

Magnitude mb 4.9
Date time 2013-05-17 13:43:22.0 UTC
Location 45.75 N ; 76.46 W
Depth 2 km
Distances 70 km NW of Ottawa, Canada / pop: 812,129 / local time: 09:43:22.0 2013-05-17
16 km N of Shawville, Canada / pop: 1,608 / local time: 09:43:22.0 2013-05-17

Mrs Dahane Wanted after her 20-month-old Daughter is found dead

A toddler who was found dead at a house in Oxfordshire has been named by police as 20-month-old Sarah Dahane.

Police say the toddler's body has been formally identified by her father following a post-mortem examination.

The child was found at a house in Bicester, Oxfordshire, on Thursday morning. The cause of death remains unknown.

George Michael Injured In Motorway Car Crash

George Michael has been injured in a rush-hour crash on the M1 motorway, his publicist has said.

The singer was a passenger in the car, and suffered minor injuries in the collision at 5.50pm on Thursday.

Ambulance crews, as well as the air ambulance, were called to the incident, near the junction for the M25.

Crews assess Texas tornado damage

Cyclone kills at least six in Bangladesh

Hollande gets serious on Europe - at last

Death toll in explosion outside Sunni mosque in Iraq’s Baquba rises to 18: police and medics

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 17th May 2013

Magnitude M 4.6
Date time 2013-05-17 11:14:30.0 UTC
Location 19.81 S ; 178.75 W
Depth 425 km
Distances 348 km SE of Suva, Fiji / pop: 77,366 / local time: 23:14:30.0 2013-05-17

Mine union threatens to bring South Africa to 'standstill'

The leader of South Africa's biggest platinum mining union threatened on Friday to bring Africa's No. 1 economy "to a standstill" and demanded a meeting with President Jacob Zuma, ramping up the rhetoric in an 18-month labor crisis.

The rand, which tumbled to a four-year low against the dollar on Thursday on fears of a strike at Anglo American Platinum, extended its slide on concerns about further disruptions to an already struggling economy.

The currency fell as low as 9.4334, its lowest since April 2009 when South Africa was still reeling from the effects of the U.S. sub-prime crisis and the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Nigerian forces bombard Islamist militant camps from the air

Nigerian forces used jets and attack helicopters to bombard Islamist militant camps in the northeast on Friday, killing a number of insurgents, the defense headquarters spokesman said.

Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade told Reuters by telephone several camps had been attacked, including in the Sambisa game reserve in Borno state, but did not have further details.

"A number of insurgents have been killed. It is not just Sambisa, every camp is under attack. But we have not done the mopping up operations on the ground to determine the numbers killed," Olukolade said.

Cannes: $1m In Chopard Jewels Stolen

Jewellery worth more than one million dollars made by Swiss luxury watchmaker and jeweller Chopard and due to be loaned to stars walking the red carpet at the Cannes film festival was stolen from a hotel, police say.

Thieves broke into the room of a Chopard employee, opened a safe and made off with the jewels, they said.

The robbery took place at the Novotel hotel in the centre of Cannes.

Phillip Bennet sets fire to his neighbors' house - because their grass was too long

A man incensed by the tall grass in his neighbor’s lawn took out his frustrations in a big way: he doused their house in gasoline and set it on fire.

That’s according Cartersville, Georgia homeowner Marty Corbitt and his 3-year-old daughter Kylie, who were terrorized and still inside the house when neighbor Phillip Bennett, 58, flew into a rage and set it aflame.

‘The mean man burned down my house,’ Kylie told reporters as she clung to her father in front of their gutted home.

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - 17th May 2013

Magnitude M 4.4
Date time 2013-05-17 10:43:12.0 UTC
Location 21.29 S ; 68.84 W
Depth 100 km
130 km N of Calama, Chile / pop: 143,084 / local time: 06:43:12.0 2013-05-17

Bigfoot is back on after thermal imaging reveals mysterious 7ft tall figure in mountainous woodland

A mysterious creature believed to be living in the woods of northern New Mexico has caught the attention of a team of biologists and researchers who believe they've discovered likely evidence of a genuine Bigfoot.

Recently members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization visited the Jemez Mountains after thermal video taken by high school students captured what they believe could publicly prove the existence of the evasive ape-like creature.

The students behind the video that shows an estimated 7-foot tall figure say they were doing a project in the woods in 2011 when they captured it walking along a ridge line.

A clash of uniforms and black coats: Riot police tackle ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting against army draft in Jerusalem which could 'destroy their way of life'

A sea of black coats - the traditional attire of ultra-Orthodox men - engulfed Jerusalem streets near the city's military draft bureau to protest against a controversial proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government to increase drafting ultra-Orthodox men, most of whom receive exemptions on religious grounds. A police spokesman said stun grenades and water cannon were used against the 20,000-strong protesters.

Constable Adam Holbrook spared jail despite having 3,000 pictures of young girls on his computer

A decorated policeman caught with thousands of pictures of young girls on his computer - some of them naked - was today spared jail.

Metropolitan Police Constable Adam Holbrook, who was based in Waltham Forest, was found with 3000 pictures of underage girls on his computer, of which 16 were of them posing naked or half naked.

Holbrook was arrested on August 7 last year following an investigation which found he had surfed sites which promoted themselves as sources of 'jailbait' images.

Truck hangs precariously on the edge of a bridge in Australia after driver thrown from seat in crash

Jim Rogers: EU goes down the tube as politicians spend cash they don't have

Europe existed before Britain joined it, insists Hollande as he accuses Cameron of 'splintering' EU by pledging referendum

The president of France last night accused David Cameron of 'splintering' the European Union by pledging to claw back powers ahead of an in-out referendum.

François Hollande threatened to inflame Tory Eurosceptics by calling for closer political union between EU nations within two years, and launched a scathing attack on Britain's austerity policies.

Mr Hollande, the socialist leader whose popularity in France is plummeting amid a sink back into recession and rising unemployment, said he understood there were 'political forces' calling for Britain to leave the EU.

CIA chief makes unannounced Israel visit amid growing concerns over Syrian weapons

An Israeli defense official says the head of the American CIA spy agency has made an unannounced visit to Israel.

The official says CIA chief John Brennan met Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. He did not disclose other details.

The official spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the visit with reporters.

Brennan's trip comes amid Israeli concerns about weapons transfers from Syria to the Lebanon's militant Hezbollah.

Gunmen attack police station beyond Nigeria emergency zone

Gunmen stormed a police station and a bank in a town in Nigeria's northwest, beyond a region covered by a military crackdown on a Islamist insurgency, a sign the offensive could provoke violence by smaller militant cells across the north.

It was not clear who carried out the attack.

Several gunmen were killed during a clash with police in the remote town in Katsina state, army spokesman Ikedichi Iweha told Reuters, without giving specific figures or police casualties.

Kai McGillvary Arrested for Killing 73-year-old Joseph Galfy in Times Square

A hitchhiker who became an internet celebrity after intervening in a California street attack has been charged with beating another man to death.

"Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker" was arrested by police in Philadelphia as a suspect in the killing of an elderly lawyer at his home in New Jersey.

Investigators said Kai McGillvary met 73-year-old Joseph Galfy in Times Square in Manhattan on Saturday and went home with him.

Mr Galfy was found dead there on Monday as a result of blunt force trauma, wearing only his underwear and socks.

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake TARAPACA, CHILE - 17th May 2013

Magnitude ML 4.0
Date time 2013-05-17 09:34:38.0 UTC
Location 20.90 S ; 69.23 W
Depth 108 km
121 km SE of Iquique, Chile / pop: 227,499 / local time: 05:34:38.0 2013-05-17

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G. - 17th May 2013

Magnitude Mw 5.2
Date time 2013-05-17 08:32:40.0 UTC
Location 6.25 S ; 154.46 E
Depth 80 km
113 km W of Panguna, Papua New Guinea / pop: 2,916 / local time: 18:32:40.0 2013-05-17

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake SULAWESI, INDONESIA - 17th May 2013

Magnitude M 4.3
Date time 2013-05-17 07:37:22.6 UTC
Location 0.12 S ; 122.93 E
Depth 136 km
74 km S of Gorontalo, Indonesia / pop: 144,195 / local time: 15:37:22.6 2013-05-17

Turkish president calls for less talk and more action on Syria

Pope rails against "dictatorship of the economy"

Philadelphia CCTV shows a baby stroller rolling onto the train tracks and people rushing to save the 14-month-old girl.

Arson not ruled out in Texas blast fire

The cause of a fire that triggered a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, has been ruled undetermined, and investigators have not eliminated the possibility that the fire was set intentionally, state and federal officials said on Thursday.

Robert Champion, a special agent in charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that while authorities could not rule out arson, they also could not eliminate the plant's electrical system or a golf cart at the plant as potential causes.

European Central Bank eyes supervisor role to squeeze weak banks

The European Central Bank could use its new supervisory role from next year to single out weak banks and make it harder for them to get its financial support, people familiar with the matter say.

Such a hardening of approach would keep ECB funding flowing to Europe's most important lenders but compel laggards to beef up their capital buffers, prod national central banks to take on the problem or even force some banks to go to the wall.

The thinking denotes a growing concern at the ECB, which bankrolls much of the financial system, about the risks of backing banks with often only weak collateral as security.

Dick Trickle Dies In Suicide

Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 71.

Police in Lincoln County, North Carolina, says authorities received a 911 call on Thursday believed to be from Trickle, saying that "there would be a dead body and it would be his".

When a dispatcher tried to call the number back nobody answered.

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake TARAPACA, CHILE - 17th May 2013

Magnitude ML 4.2
Date time 2013-05-17 06:56:57.0 UTC
Location 19.19 S ; 69.20 W
Depth 120 km
140 km SE of Arica, Chile / pop: 185,999 / local time: 02:56:57.0 2013-05-17

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS - 17th May 2013

Magnitude Mw 5.7
Date time 2013-05-17 06:43:16.0 UTC
Location 11.09 S ; 165.10 E
Depth 10 km
354 km E of Kirakira, Solomon Islands / pop: 1,122 / local time: 17:43:16.0 2013-05-17

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN XIZANG - 17th May 2013

Magnitude mb 4.4
Date time 2013-05-17 06:01:55.0 UTC
Location 31.49 N ; 86.53 E
Depth 10 km
270 km NE of Saga, China / pop: 3,765 / local time: 14:01:55.0 2013-05-17

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake TAIWAN - 17th May 2013

Magnitude ML 4.6
Date time 2013-05-17 05:44:12.2 UTC
Location 24.28 N ; 121.76 E
Depth 16 km
Distances 88 km S of Taipei, Taiwan / pop: 7,871,900 / local time: 13:44:12.2 2013-05-17
37 km NE of Hualian, Taiwan / pop: 350,468 / local time: 13:44:12.2 2013-05-17

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA - 17th May 2013

Magnitude mb 4.6
Date time 2013-05-17 05:37:51.0 UTC
Location 6.76 S ; 129.85 E
Depth 168 km
342 km W of Tual, Indonesia / pop: 39,502 / local time: 14:37:51.0 2013-05-17

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN ALASKA - 17th May 2013

Magnitude mb 4.6
Date time 2013-05-17 05:24:54.0 UTC
Location 59.39 N ; 152.20 W
Depth 60 km
46 km SW of Homer, United States / pop: 5,003 / local time: 21:24:54.0 2013-05-16

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND - 17th May 2013

Magnitude ML 4.2
Date time 2013-05-17 03:59:08.9 UTC
Location 43.62 S ; 172.43 E
Depth 15 km
19 km SW of Christchurch, New Zealand / pop: 363,926 / local time: 15:59:08.9 2013-05-17

Europe waits as Angela Merkel faces a new anti-establishment party

WHEN a German newspaper in January headlined the success of populists across Europe and their absence in Germany, Frauke Petry thought: “We are here, but nobody sees us yet.” Two months later the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, which calls for the euro to be broken up, started making news. These days its leaders (Ms Petry is one of a triumvirate) are on television talk-shows. Euroscepticism, or at least scepticism of the euro, has a voice. Germany’s Christian Democrats have for decades seen off all foes on the right. This is a worrying new one.

AfD is a strange group of rebels. It is a movement mainly of professors, not revolutionary students. Its policies have seemingly little in common with Eurosceptics elsewhere. Unlike Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party, it wants to stay in the European Union. Unlike Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party in the Netherlands, its driving force is not resentment of Muslims and immigrants. Unlike Beppe Grillo’s Five Stars Movement in Italy, it does not seek to smash a corrupt political class. And unlike radicals of all stripes in France, Germany’s new sceptics embrace markets and liberalism. “They cannot call us crazy,” says Ms Petry.

US has seen Syria chemical weapons evidence, says Obama

President Barack Obama has said the US has seen evidence of chemical weapons being used in Syria.

However, speaking after meeting Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he insisted it was important to get more specific details about alleged chemical attacks.

Earlier, residents of a north Syrian town told a BBC reporter how government forces had dropped poisonous gas canisters on them from helicopters.

The government has repeatedly denied claims it has used chemical agents.

It is unclear why the well-armed regime would deploy chemical weapons, which are illegal under international law.

Europe can survive without Britain, says François Hollande

In a marathon press conference just shy of three hours, the embattled Socialist President promised to "go on the offensive" in year two of his five-year mandate with France sinking into recession and enduring record unemployment levels.

When asked about Mr Cameron's plan for a law guaranteeing a vote on Britain's EU membership, Mr Hollande told 400 journalists gathered at the Elysée Palace: "Europe existed before Britain joined it."

France, Germany and four other nations were long part of the European Economic Community before Britain joined fully in 1973.

Obama stays cautious on Syria after talks as Turkey presses for urgency

Barack Obama and Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan skated over major differences on how to deal with the Syrian crisis after a lengthy meeting at the White House on Thursday.

Obama, at a joint press conference in the Rose Garden, said there was "no magic formula" for resolving the conflict. He pinned hopes on an international conference proposed for Geneva next month that would bring together the Assad government and the rebels, in spite of widespread scepticism about the chances of it bringing about an end to the conflict.

Erdogan is pressing for more urgency and more positive action to bring the Syrian catastrophe to an end and is seeking the US and others in the international community to implement at the very least a no-fly zone to prevent Syrian jets and helicopters operating with impunity in rebel-held areas.

Police: Mum Of Dead Bicester Girl 'Leaves UK'

The mother of a two-year-old girl who was found dead at a house is thought to have left the UK, police have confirmed.

The child was found at a house in Bicester, Oxfordshire, on Thursday morning.

Thames Valley Police responded to a call from a member of the girl's family expressing fears for her welfare.

South Central Ambulance Service said the toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.

Uncertainty for Muslims in Myanmar bracing for storm

Protesters clash with police in Istanbul over border attacks

The air campaign in Syria

Syrian rebels launch offensive in south

Syrian rebels said they attacked an important military base in the south and checkpoints in the city of Deraa on Thursday, trying to regain ground lost to President Bashar al-Assad's forces near the Jordanian border.

The rebels were thrown onto the defensive last week when Assad's troops retook the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh on the main north-south highway between Damascus and Jordan.

They said hundreds of fighters with rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns were brought in on Thursday to lay siege to the fortress-like headquarters of the Syrian army's 52nd Mechanised Brigade, one of the largest bases in Deraa province.

New York says breaks cigarette-smuggling ring linked to militants

Fifteen men of Palestinian origin have been arrested on charges of running a multi-million-dollar cigarette smuggling ring in New York, and New York authorities who announced the arrests on Thursday said several of the suspects have ties to Hamas and other Islamist militant groups.

The men are accused of smuggling more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes from Virginia to be sold in grocery stores across New York, with $55 million in sales uncovered so far, Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, and Ray Kelly, the New York City police commissioner, said at a press conference.

"We don't know where all of that money went, but what we do know is deeply troubling," Schneiderman said. "We know that some members of this group have ties to very dangerous people, we know they were arrested with weapons, we know that they made tens of millions of dollars but so far we have found only a fraction of that."

China cracks down on refinery protest

Demonstrators braved a heavy police presence and the threat of arrest by massing Thursday in the streets of Kunming, China, to protest the planned construction of a chemical plant, they said.

"It was mostly a peaceful protest," said an activist who asked to be identified only by his family name, Young. "We were singing the national anthem, shouting 'Get out, refinery!' together."

He added, "We were scattered by the heavy police force in the area. I saw locals scuffling with police, people getting arrested and pulled away."

Amazon pays 0.1% tax on $6.4B sales

Amazon received nearly as much in government grants as it paid in UK tax in 2012, according to new figures likely to stoke the tax controversy surrounding the online retailer which made sales to British customers of £4.26bn in 2012.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee which is set to grill Google on its tax affairs on Thursday, said the tax payment was "just a joke"., which reported a tax charge of £3.2m for 2012, received £2.5m in grants during the year.

Ricin-tainted letters intercepted in U.S.

Federal authorities are investigating threatening letters allegedly containing deadly ricin in Spokane, Washington, the FBI said Thursday.

The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are trying to find the source of the two letters, intercepted Tuesday during a screening procedure at a postal facility in Spokane, FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich said.

"While we cannot offer further comment on this incident, we stress that law enforcement agencies will continue to assess and address the full spectrum of potential threats," she said.

Coronavirus: WHO tracks new virus to Middle East

Alaska volcano 'fountaining' with fire

Alaskans and air travelers remained on alert Thursday due to the rumblings of a more than 8,000-foot volcano emitting a "continuous ash, steam and gas cloud" that already extends up to 60 miles away.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory noted Thursday that the Pavlof volcano "continues to erupt," with "fire fountaining" at its summit 8,261 feet above sea level.

A resulting cloud that extends downwind 30 to 60 miles (50 to 100 kilometers) moved southeast on Thursday morning over the Gulf of Alaska. It reaches an altitude of about 20,000 feet above sea level.

U.S. lost track of two terror 'suspects'

The U.S. Marshals Service lost track of two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program "identified as known or suspected terrorists," according to the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General's report obtained by CNN.

The Marshals Service has concluded that "one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States," according to the summary.

A Justice Department official said in response to follow up questions about the matter by reporters on Thursday that the pair had left the program years ago and had been accounted for.

It was not clear when or for how long the Marshals Service lost track of them.

Al Qaeda magazine may be hacked

A purported new issue of an English-language al Qaeda magazine linked to the Boston terrorist attacks was posted on an al Qaeda web forum earlier this week, but its content beyond its cover page was scrambled, suggesting the possibility the forum was hacked by Western intelligence agencies.

The magazine, produced by al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate - al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which regularly includes how-to instructions for followers to carry out terrorist attacks in the West - has received significant scrutiny in recent weeks.

Investigators believe that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev accessed Inspire magazine, and the material had instructions on bomb-making, a law enforcement official told CNN earlier this month.

Syrian refugees stuck in limbo