Thursday, March 15, 2012

North Korea plans to launch a satellite using a carrier rocket in April, the country's official news agency reports

Details forthcoming.

6 Gulf nations to close embasses in Syria



The six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council will close their Syrian embassies, the council said Thursday, calling on the international community "to stop what is going on in Syria."

The action, the council said, "confirms its position rejecting the Syrian regime's persistence in killing unarmed Syrian people and ignoring all efforts to resolve the current tragic situation in Syria."

Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the council's secretary-general, "also called on the international community to take urgent and firm actions to stop what is going on in Syria including killing, torturing and flagrant violations of the human rights of the Syrian people."

Council members include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.

Nations including the United States and France previously have closed their embassies in Damascus, while Italy, Britain and Spain are among countries that have suspended embassy activities. more

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 99.9 km (62 miles), the quake hit at 19:20:18 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 50 km (31 miles) WNW of TOKYO, Japan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Hindu Kush Region, Afghanistan at a depth of 120 km (74.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:03:37 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 24 km (14.8 miles) South of Ekaem, Afghanistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF NICARAGUA - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck near the Coast of Nicaragua at a depth of 69.4 km (43.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:21:24 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 70 km (43 miles) Southwest of Chinandega, Nicaragua
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SUMBA REGION, INDONESIA - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Sumba Region, Indonesia at a depth of 59.5 km (837 miles), the quake hit at 15:56:30 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 106 km (65 miles) West of Waingapu, Sumba, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake NORTH OF SVALBARD - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck North of Svalbard at a depth of 11.7 km (7.3 miles), the quake hit at 15:45:18 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 184 km (114 miles) ENE of Nord, Greenland
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE COAST OF NICARAGUA - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck near the Coast of Nicaragua at a depth of 138.4 km (86 miles), the quake hit at 15:08:12 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 28 km (17 miles) South of Chinandega, Nicaragua
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck the Andaman Islands, India Region at a depth of 100 km (62 miles), the quake hit at 14:39:13 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 170 km (105.4 miles) Southeast of Port Blair, Andaman Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Seventy-five to stand trial in Egypt over soccer deaths

(Reuters) - Prosecutors ordered 75 people to stand trial for causing Egypt's worst soccer stadium disaster, including the head of security in Port Said city where lax policing was blamed for a stampede that killed at least 74 fans.

"The accused were sent to a criminal court on charges of committing the crime of intentional and premeditated murder," the general prosecutor's office said in a statement on Thursday.

The crush followed a pitch invasion when Port Said-based al-Masry beat Cairo's Al Ahli, the most successful club in Africa.

Steel doors at the stadium were bolted shut, trapping fans trying to escape from the stands and dozens were crushed to death, witnesses said.

Many fans blamed the government for a failure to send enough police to the stadium given the tense build-up to the match, and many believe the violence was sparked by hired thugs. At least 1,000 people were injured.

Thousands of Ahli supporters met at the club's ground on Thursday and marched through Cairo to protest what they regarded as official foot-dragging over the disaster. Some wore black t-shirts reading "We won't forget the 74." Read More

AFP: TWO SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN KILLED AND ONE WOUNDED IN SHOOTING IN FRANCE

Two soldiers have been killed and another wounded by a lone gunman in southwest France, reports say.

The three soldiers were apparently withdrawing money from a cashpoint when they were shot.

The gunman is said to have fled the scene on a scooter and is now being hunted by police.
More follows...

Cleveland Volcano Explodes For Third Time, Alaska

Cleveland Volcano has exploded for the third time in just over a week. The latest eruption of the Aleutian volcano Tuesday afternoon was relatively small, according to a release from the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Scientists at the Observatory weren’t able detect an ash cloud associated with this event or either of the other two. There’s no real-time monitoring equipment on Cleveland.

None of the recent eruptions have interrupted air travel in the region.

Cleveland’s last major eruption in 2001 sent ash clouds as high as 39,000 feet. The volcano is on uninhabited Island, about 160 miles west of Unalaska. Source

Tuburan typhoid cases reach 830‎, Philippines

Philippines – Typhoid fever cases in the villages of Cogon and Poblacion in the municipality of Tuburan in Cebu City have reached 830, latest count from the Department of Health (DoH) covering the period February 13 to March 11 said.

“We cannot yet declare that it is already contained…it usually takes six to eight weeks before a situation like this is contained…right now, we are looking at long-term solutions,” DoH Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag said in an interview.

According to Tayag, health experts have already established that water was the source of contamination in the area.

“It is definite that water was the source of the outbreak. There are three levels and all of these are present in the area. First is level three, wherein the water source is present in the house. Second level is the water is present in the community and first level is they need to go somewhere to source their water,” he said.

Laboratory tests confirmed that the patients have been affected by the Salmonella Typhi bacteria which are spread through contaminated food and water, poor personal hygiene and through flies.

There were five deaths recorded within the said period. Source

Flash Flood: One dead, one missing in NZ Samoa holiday tragedy

A New Zealand family holiday in Samoa has turned to tragedy after a flash flood swept six people away.

One teenager drowned and another family member was missing tonight as searchers scoured the river.

Four other members were rescued and were tonight recovering in hospital.

It is understood the family had arrived from New Zealand only a day earlier and were enjoying a swim in the Vaisigano River, in the island nation's capital Apia, this afternoon.

But tragedy occurred when a sudden burst of water swept the family down river.

Eyewitnesses told the Samoa Observer that the group was having a casual swim and that the surge of water appeared out of nowhere. Read More

Fishing boat capsizes after being Struck by Rogue Wave, 7 missing‎, New Zealand

A rogue wave caused a fishing boat to capsize in Foveaux Strait with nine people on board, the only known survivor of the tragedy has told police.

Easy Rider, a 38-foot vessel, capsized off Saddle Point at the northern tip of Stewart Island, in 13degC waters well known for rips, about midnight Wednesday.

Two months ago the boat had been involved in a heroic rescue in the same treacherous waters.

One person has survived 18 hours in the chill waters of Foveaux Strait, but hopes have faded for up to seven others - two young children among them - missing after a Southland fishing boat went down in treacherous waters.

One body, believed to be that of an eight-year-old boy, has been found.

The survivor was found at 6pm tonight, four hours after the alarm was raised, and 18 hours after the sinking.

Easy Rider was heading north near Stewart Island when it capsized around midnight, Inspector John Doherty said.

The alarm was raised 14 hours after the capsize, when Easy Rider failed to make a 2pm rendezvous at Stewart Island.

Police said the survivor was on the deck of the boat with two others when it was hit by a rogue wave, which caused the boat to capsize almost immediately. Read More

Fatal bat disease found in Alabama‎, it has already claimed the lives of 5 Million Bats

A fungal disease blamed for killing more than 5 million bats in North America in five years has made its way into Alabama and could be headed for the Shoals.

State and federal wildlife officials announced Wednesday that bats infected with white-nose syndrome have been found in Russell Cave near Bridgeport in Jackson County. The disease causes bats to waste away and die as they hibernate during the winter months.

Keith Hudson, a wildlife biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who lives in Florence, said migrating bats could spread the disease to caves in the Shoals, the Bankhead National Forest and throughout north Alabama.

So far, only tri-colored bats have been infected with white-nose syndrome in Alabama. Hudson said he fears the disease will spread to the rare gray bat and other endangered species that live around the Shoals and in Bankhead Forest.

“Bats throughout north Alabama migrate to Jackson County during the winter with about 80 percent of gray bats hibernating in a single cave,” Hudson said. “If white-nose syndrome makes its way into the gray bat population in that cave, it could have devastating effects. We could lose almost all the gray bats in north Alabama.”

In northeastern states, 90 percent of the bats in some caves have been killed by white-nose syndrome.

The disease was first discovered in the United States in New York in 2006. It has since spread to 17 states and four Canadian provinces.

Alabama is the southernmost state where it has been found. Read More

Yucca Valley Wildfire Briefly Threatens Homes

YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. -- A wildfire that briefly threatened several homes has burned 21 acres of desert land in Yucca Valley.

A San Bernardino County fire spokeswoman Tracy Martinez said the fire was 10 percent contained as of late Wednesday night and was expected to be fully contained by Thursday morning.

The fire broke out shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday near Bannock Trail and Onaga Trail on the city's southwest side. It briefly threatened five homes along the fire's northern edge.

Martinez said the fire no longer threatened any homes and residents were not evacuated.
Martinez said 100 firefighters were assigned to fight the fire overnight. She said rising humidity levels and calmer winds that blew the fire erratically during the day should help firefighters contain the blaze.

No injuries have been reported. Read More

Fifty students and chaperones from a Kansas high school have been treated for food poisoning symptoms at a western Pennsylvania hospital

PITTSBURGH — Dozens of Kansas high school students and chaperones who became ill after eating in New York while on a band trip have been treated for food poisoning symptoms at a western Pennsylvania hospital.

Those sickened were part of a group of 164 people aboard three buses from De Soto High School, about 20 miles southwest of Kansas City.

The group stopped Wednesday morning at Excela Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant, 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, because it's near the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the route for the group's westward trip.

"When they first arrived, 20 students were experiencing symptoms of food poisoning, but in order not to separate the entire group they brought all three buses to the hospital," hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Miele said. "As soon as they were treated, 20 more students got sick, and after they were treated 10 chaperones got sick."

Miele said the group ate in New York before beginning the return trip, but she didn't know where. She also didn't know where in New York the band had been visiting.

She said those sickened were hydrated and treated with medicine to combat nausea and had packed up to continue their trip by mid-afternoon. Read More

Uganda halts screening of Kony film after angry protests

A Ugandan youth group is to stop screening a hugely popular Internet video calling for the arrest of rebel chief Joseph Kony after local people reacted furiously at its first showing.

A screening in the northern town of Lira, attended by many people mutilated by Kony's soldiers, was halted after some people started throwing stones, said Victor Ochen, the director of African Youth Initiative Network.

His group had now dropped plans to show the film around the region.

"We wanted to make our people part of the debate," said Mr Ochen.

"But in the end we had to stop it because people were having such a strong reaction to the film and were getting very angry."

The video, "Kony 2012", by US advocacy group Invisible Children, has become the most successful viral video of all time after it was viewed by 100 million peope since it
was released last week.

But when the group held a public screening Tuesday in Lira, where few people had been able to watch the 30-minute film due to limited Internet access, it provoked an angry response.

"As soon as they saw the clip saying that people should make Kony famous, people got very upset and started to react," said Mr Ochen.

Many of the thousands attending, who included some mutilated by the soldiers of Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), objected to what they saw as the film's insensitivity and its outdated view of northern Uganda, he added.

"People were asking why they were showing white children in America and not telling the truth about the situation of the local people in the area," said Mr Ochen. Read More

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 50 km (31 miles), the quake hit at 14:21:39 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
Miyagi-ken Oki Region, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:20:11 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
Sanriku Region, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN UZBEKISTAN - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Western Uzbekistan at a depth of 1 km (0.6 miles), the quake hit at 12:38:50 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 46 km (28.5 miles) Northwest of Gazli, Uzbekistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Pro-Assad rallies mark anniversary of Syria revolt

(Reuters) - Flag-waving crowds took to the streets of Syrian cities on Thursday in an orchestrated show of loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad on the first anniversary of an increasingly bloody revolt against his rule.

Official media announced government forces had cleared "armed terrorists" from the northwestern city of Idlib, suggesting the army was gaining ground in the uprising which has cost at least 8,000 lives and crippled the Syrian economy.

Opposition activists said soldiers had fired on people trying to stage anti-regime protests in various locations and reported evidence of fresh atrocities, including the discovery of 23 bodies, some with signs of torture, near Idlib.

State television showed thousands of people in central Damascus, waving portraits of Assad and flags of Syria, Russia and China. Moscow and Beijing have not joined Western nations in backing an Arab League plan for Assad to step aside.

"We sacrifice our blood and souls to you, Bashar," the crowds chanted as three helicopters flew past in a military salute.

Television videoed rallies in numerous cities, including Deraa near the border with Jordan, which was the epicenter of the original protest movement last year but has been filled with security forces backed by tanks in the past 24 hours. Read More

China halts 10 more Airbus orders in EU row: sources

(Reuters) - China has suspended the purchase of 10 more Airbus (EAD.PA) long-haul jets, raising the stakes in a row with the European Union over an airline emission levy, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The move to delay the purchase of the A330 planes brings to $14 billion the value of European aircraft caught up in growing trade tensions over the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, which is opposed by China and a group of other trade powers.

China has ordered its airlines not to comply with the EU scheme which came into force for aviation in January.

Airbus declined to comment.

Earlier this week, Airbus said China had blocked the purchase of 10 Airbus A380 superjumbos and 35 A330s worth $12 billion. Several people familiar with the deal said the A380s were earmarked for Hong Kong Airlines, 46-percent owned by HNA Group, parent of Hainan Airlines (600221.SS). Source

Taliban scraps U.S. peace talks and Calls for Nato to Leave

(Reuters) - Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai called for NATO troops to leave Afghan villages after 16 civilians died in a shooting rampage by a U.S. soldier, underscoring Afghan fury over the massacre and clouding U.S. exit plans.

In a near-simultaneous statement, the Taliban said they were suspending nascent peace talks with the United States seen as a strong chance of ending the country's decade-long war, blaming "shaky, erratic and vague" U.S. statements.

Karzai, in a statement from his office after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, said as a result of the weekend massacre, "international security forces have to be taken out of Afghan village outposts and return to (larger) bases".

The soldier accused of carrying out the shooting was based at a small special forces compound similar to others around the country which underpin NATO's counter-insurgency strategy ahead of a 2014 deadline for most Western combat forces to pull out.

Karzai said the incident had harmed relations between Afghanistan and the United States and said "all efforts have to be done to avoid such incident in the future", warning it also had hurt the trust Afghans had in foreign forces. Read More

Obama, Cameron mull tapping oil reserves

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the possibility of releasing emergency oil reserves during a meeting on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the talks said, the first sign that Obama is starting to test global support for an effort to knock back near-record fuel prices. Obama raised the issue during a broad bilateral meeting at the White House, according to a UK official with knowledge of the discussion.

Asked about the talks, a senior Obama administration official said: "No agreement was reached. We will continue to work together to address energy security and oil price issues." While U.S. officials have said for weeks that they will consider all possible measures - including a release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) - to prevent prices from derailing a nascent economic recovery, Wednesday's meeting was the clearest indication that diplomatic talks were moving ahead. Discussions could last as long as several months before any decision is made, one of the sources said.

Obama's approval ratings have come under pressure from rising gasoline prices, which have hit seasonal record highs, and the White House is eager to show exasperated Americans that it is doing all it can to keep fuel costs in check. Read More

U.S. seeks to ease concerns over F-35 delays, costs

(Reuters) - The United States sought on Thursday to allay concerns over delays and escalating costs for its new F-35 fighter, telling its eight partner nations there would be no further delays in the rollout of the radar-evading aircraft.

The F-35 partners' meeting in Sydney was the second in two weeks, following one in Washington, as some nations review their orders for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

"We have been given the adequate time needed to execute the program," Air Force Major General John F. Thompson, deputy Joint Strike Force Program Executive Officer, told reporters.

"There was plenty of lively discussion on affordability and production. What we pledged today was to maintain a very open line of communication."

The U.S. Defense Department is restructuring for a third time its $382 billion F-35 program with Lockheed Martin Corp to allow more time for development and testing. Read More

American Jobless claims back at four-year lows

(Reuters) - The number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing in the Northeast held up in March, providing more signs the economy was firmly on a self-sustaining growth path.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That took claims back to a four-year low reached in February.

Separately, the New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State general business conditions index rose to 20.21 - highest level since June 2010 - from 19.53 in February.

"This suggests that the recovery is firmly on track," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida. Read More

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, his wife and his staff Gave Special treatment to Murderers before given them a Pardon



Jackson, Mississippi (CNN) -- Investigative documents obtained by CNN show that former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, his wife and his staff may have given preferential treatment to two of the convicted murderers who were among the more than 200 former and current inmates he pardoned in January.

According to the documents compiled by the office of Mississippi's attorney general, the state's former first lady, Marsha Barbour, apparently called a car dealership regarding the purchase of two vehicles for two convicted murderers -- days before they were pardoned. The cars were later delivered to the governor's mansion, two days before the men were released.

CNN has also learned that a member of the governor's staff took the same two men, David Gatlin and Charles Hooker, to get their driver's licenses while they were still in state custody, before their pardons were signed and made official.

"Yes, that's true ... I did take some of them," said Barbour's former security chief, Wayland Adams. "I knew that they were going to be paroled. I was assured of that and I just took them to get their driver's licenses. Read More

China axes Bo Xilai from Chongqing post after scandal

Beijing (CNN) -- Bo Xilai, once seen as one of the rising stars of Chinese politics, has been removed from his prominent provincial post after a scandal involving one of his key deputies.

Zhang Dejiang, a Chinese vice premier, will replace Bo as Communist Party chief of Chongqing, the biggest metropolis in southwestern China, the official news agency Xinhua reported Thursday.

The announcement deals a crippling blow to Bo, a polarizing figure in Chinese politics who many observers had previously considered to be a future contender for the top leadership roles.

In recent years, Bo had pushed a series of aggressive political campaigns in Chongqing, including the "dahei," or anti-gangs initiative, which targeted mafia-like criminal groups. The approach divided opinions in China, with some lauding its effectiveness and others criticizing it as heavy handed.

But in recent weeks, his foothold near the summit of the Chinese Communist Party started to crumble. Read More

Swiss couple released in Pakistan, but Claim they Escaped

Islamabad (CNN) -- A Swiss couple -- kidnapped in July while traveling in Pakistan's volatile southwestern Balochistan province -- are free, military and Taliban officials said Thursday.

The husband and wife claimed they escaped from the Taliban when they reached a military checkpoint near Miranshah city in North Waziristan a volatile tribal region in northwest Pakistan, said Athar Abbas, a military spokesman. They were moved to Peshawar by helicopter early Thursday and are in good health, he said.

But a spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban, Ihsanullah Ihsan, said they were released after a council of elders was convened.

The couple was grabbed at gunpoint in July while traveling in the town of Loralai, Sohail Rehman Baloch, a senior provincial administration official, said at the time.

Locals witnessed the kidnapping of the two, who had been headed to the city of Quetta, Baloch said. Read More

Bomb blast kills anti-Taliban police chief, Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A suicide bomber targeted an anti-Taliban police chief in Peshawar Thursday, killing him during morning rush hour traffic, a senior police official said.

Kalam Khan was on his way to work when his car slowed at a construction site near Pishtakhara Chowk, according to Tahir Ayub. A man carrying about six kilograms (13 pounds) of explosives detonated himself near the car.

The blast killed Khan instantly, Ayub said, and seriously injured two security guards.

"He was instrumental in stopping militants from entering Peshawar city," according to Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a senior government official, who said the violence by militants would not discourage their fight against terror in Pakistan's northwest. Source

Nuclear cooperation plea from Iran



Geneva, Switzerland (CNN) -- Iran will not allow U.N. inspectors to visit a military base suspected of involvement in the development of nuclear weapons ahead of new talks with international powers because it would not help improve confidence, one of Iran's most influential officials said Wednesday.

"If the Western community is asking us for more transparency, then we should expect more cooperation," said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a member of a powerful political clan in Iran and an adviser to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

International powers have agreed to resume nuclear talks with Tehran in the pursuit of a diplomatic solution to the tensions over Iran's controversial nuclear program amid saber rattling in Israel about the possible need for a pre-emptive strike.

"The equation is simple. The Western community can ask us for more transparency. What we want in place of that is cooperation," Larijani said. "I mean this is two parallel lines. One step transparency from us, one step cooperation from (the) West. Because we have full total suspicion of the American and Western intentions." Read More

Roadside bomb kills 13 in Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Thirteen people were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's southern Uruzgan province, police said Thursday.

The vehicle hit the homemade device as it traveled near the district of Dehrawod, Uruzgan provincial police spokesman Farid Ayell said.

The blast killed nine children and four women he said, as well as injuring two men.

He blamed the attack on "the enemies of Afghanistan."

Roadside bombs -- used primarily by militants to target members of NATO's International Security Assistance Force -- are a frequent cause of Afghan civilian casualties. Source

Protests, Gunfire after Afghan Slaughter

Syrian child survives family massacre - Warning: Graphic content

Youtube a Weapon for Syrian Activists

(CNN) -- Syrian forces stormed the town of Douma this week, fired at the home of activist Mahmoud Saab, wounded the father of two and then hanged him from the balcony of his home.

Activists reported this grisly act by word of mouth and e-mail. But they took one more step.

They released a shaky, 42-second video showing his body dangling from a damaged building caught in the crossfire of war. The video appeared to be shot surreptitiously, from a narrow urban space where the cameraman couldn't be spotted.

It's one of thousands of videos that Syrian activists have uploaded or smuggled out of the country to document the actions of Bashar al-Assad's regime -- vilified by governments and people across the globe for its fierce crackdown on protesters. Read More

Iranian in Malaysia denies Thai terror accusations

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- An Iranian man held in Malaysia and accused of involvement in an alleged terror plot in Bangkok resisted extradition on Thursday, claiming he had been in Thailand only for a vacation.

A handcuffed Masoud Sedaghatzadeh appeared briefly in a Kuala Lumpur court, saying through an interpreter that he had nothing to do with the accusations and wanted to know why has was there.

Sedaghatzadeh was arrested at a Malaysian airport soon after an apparently accidental explosion rocked a residential Bangkok neighborhood Feb. 14. Thai police say bombs were found in the house where the blast occurred, and that Sedaghatzadeh and two Iranian men now in Thai custody were seen leaving the building.

Thai officials have said Israeli diplomats may have been the target of the alleged plot. Read More

Syria forces attack Daraa, opposition in disarray

BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian forces fired mortars and heavy machine-guns Wednesday in an attack on the southern city where the anti-government uprising began, propelled by recent military victories over rebels as the opposition fell into disarray.

At least two prominent Syrian dissidents said they have quit the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, calling it an "autocratic" organization.

The opposition has been hobbled by disorganization and infighting since the popular revolt against President Bashar Assad began a year ago. Its international backers have repeatedly appealed for the movement to pull together and work as one unit.

Even before the high-level resignations, the opposition was already reeling from significant losses over the past few weeks when rebel fighters were largely driven out of two key strongholds -- the city of Idlib near the northern border with Turkey and the Baba Amr district in the central city of Homs.

After retaking Idlib earlier this week, government forces launched new attacks Wednesday on Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising. Read More

Elderly mother, son found dead in Saitama apartment of Apparent Illness, Japan

KAWAGUCHI, Saitama -- A 92-year-old woman and her 64-year-old son were found dead in their apartment here on March 14 by a neighbor, it has been learned.

According to prefectural police, the mother, Fuyo Midorikawa, and the son, Seiko, appear to have died of illness. Two to three weeks are thought to have passed since the time of death.

Police say that Fuyo was found in bedding in a bedroom, while Seiko was in the living room. The two lived together and both were receiving pensions. A neighbor noticed that two to three weeks' worth of newspapers had accumulated at the apartment and investigated the unlocked apartment, finding the bodies. Read More

No cracks or strains seen in suppression chamber of No. 2 reactor at Fukushima plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) took and released photographs on March 14 of the pressure suppression chamber of the No. 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant and the utility said there were apparently no cracks in the chamber or no changes in the shape of the device.

It is the first time TEPCO, the operator of the troubled nuclear power station, has taken photographs of the interior of a pressure control chamber at the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant since the outbreak there of the ongoing crisis. "Apparently, there were no cracks in the suppression chamber and there were no changes in the shape."

The pressure suppression chamber is designed to turn steam in the reactor into water to be used for cooling. In order to identify places to which coolant water leaked from the reactor or underground water flowed to, TEPCO planned to check the inside of a doughnut-shaped pressure suppression pool called "the torus," which houses the pressure suppression chamber. TEPCO took the photographs of the pressure control chamber as part of its preliminary survey for the plan. Read More

Fukushima town council approves opposition to radioactive waste storage facilities

The municipal assembly of Naraha in Fukushima Prefecture, a town which has been completely evacuated due to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, on March 15 unanimously approved a motion that opposed setting up midterm radioactive waste storage facilities in the town.

The assembly says that there were concerns from residents that midterm radioactive waste storage facilities would, by concentrating large amounts of radioactive waste, endanger the very existence of the town, and says there were requests for an opposition motion.

Mayor Takashi Kusano said, "Currently we are at the stage of waiting for an explanation from the national government, so it is unfortunate that the motion was passed." Source

Shark Attacks Florida: Two Teenagers Attacked Within Minutes off New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Two teenagers have had a lucky escape after being attacked by sharks within minutes of each other while surfing off New Smyrna Beach in Florida.

A boy and girl, both 17, suffered bite wounds in the first reported attacks of the year but the injuries were not life threatening, Volusia County Beach Patrol said.

The boy was driven to a nearby hospital with cuts on his calf and the young girl was taken to the same hospital suffering from a bite to the ankle.

The pair, who were not part of the same group, had been surfing in waist-deep water in the same area on Wednesday afternoon when the attacks happened.

Local newspaper The Daytona Beach News-Journal said both victims described the shark as between 4ft and 5ft long, but authorities said it was unlikely that they were bitten by the same one. Read More

NASA | Evolution of the Moon

Boy, three, shoots himself dead at gas station after father leaves Gun under Front Seat

A 3-year-old boy shot and killed himself at a Washington gas station after finding a gun in his family's car.

The family had made an early-morning stop at a Shell station off Interstate 5 in Tacoma last Wednesday.

The man, who had placed the gun under a car seat, began to refuel the car.

Police believe the man may have exposed the gun by bumping his seat when exiting the car.

As the boy's mother went inside the station, leaving her son and the man's 5-year-old daughter unattended, the boy apparently got out of his child seat, found the gun and shot himself.

He was rushed to a local hospital and declared dead.

The girl was not injured.

The parents, who have not been named, were questioned by police officials, but no charges have been filed.

The incident was the third recent shooting of a child in western Washington, according to AP. Read More

Lt David Monell New York's top jail warder Caught on Tape brutally beating handcuffed inmate in savage attack

Shocking CCTV footage of New York State's top jail warder savagely beating a handcuffed and pepper-sprayed inmate was released this week.

The brutal video shows Tioga County Jail's Lt David Monell punching David Coffey, who is sitting down chained to a wooden bench, at least six times in the head.

He is then seen grabbing his orange jump-suited victim around the throat, choking him for 10 seconds, before hauling him up against a wall.

Although the film is silent, witnesses said Monell is believed to have said 'you're going to regret this day' before launching into the June 2010 attack which left his target with a gouged eye.

Coffey, who had been pepper-sprayed moments before the video begins, also suffered an infection that went untreated for months in jail.

Abrasions were left on his face and neck, and he had a severely swollen jaw after the assault.

Following the beating, Coffey filed a federal lawsuit against Monell - who was bizarrely handed New York State Senate's 2010 Correction Officer of the Year award a day later.

But footage of the attack was obtained by investigators a day after the award, leading to his resignation. Read More

American flag with Obama's face on it displayed in front of the Florida Democratic party headquarters Causes Outrage

An altered American flag had some veterans seeing more red than white or blue.

A flag that had President Obama's face displayed where the stars typically are was displayed in front of the Florida Democratic party headquarters for several months.

On Tuesday, it caused the blood of several military veterans to boil and, after a heated confrontation with the local Democratic party chairwoman, it was taken down.

I can't describe how upset I was because you just don't do that to the American flag,' Korean War veteran Don Van Breck told WFTV.

The flag was sent to the Lake County Democratic party chairwoman Nancy Hurlbert as a gift and she had been flying it without comment from neighbors.

At first when six or so veterans arrived at her door declaring that they would take the flag down in protest, she argued against them saying 'no you will not, this is private property!'

She then went back in her home and looked up the federal flag code before taking it down.

'We're proud of our president and we didn't realize it was in violation. Read More

Elain Young ‘killed fourth husband for $1.2m life insurance’ (and she’s also accused of suffocating her mother and trying to kill two previous spouses

A teacher hatched a plot to kill her fourth husband for $1.2million life insurance, prosecutors have claimed at her trial.

Elain Young, 57, is charged with planning and carrying out the murder of her husband Melvin 'Beau' Griesbauer, 48, with her friend Katherine Mock, 58, in Missouri.

Griesbauer was an army reserve specialist who survived a tour in Iraq. Friends said he had taken out good insurance cover to make sure his wife was taken care.

The prosecution has also accused Young of suffocating her mother in 2000 as well as attempting to find someone to kill two of her previous husbands.

Young, of Novinger, and Mock, of Cassville, are facing charges of felony conspiracy to commit murder for hire and felony murder for hire, reports STLtoday.com.

Their trial began on Monday with both women, who have pleaded not guilty, facing life in prison if convicted. Read More

Columbus, Ohio office building Stabbing: Four stabbed as crazed man with three knives goes on rampage in Ohio before being shot by police

A man armed with three knives went on a stabbing spree in a Columbus, Ohio office building on Wednesday, starting in the admissions office of a technical school and injuring four people.

The rampage stopped when he was shot by a police officer on the street in front of the building just blocks from the state Capitol.

The man confronted one victim in the admissions office of Miami-Jacobs Career College before 1pm and stabbed him, Columbus police spokesman Sargent Rich Weiner said.

Other people intervened and took away a knife the man was using but didn't realize he had others, Weiner said.

One of the victims was an employee of the state attorney general.

‘We do know that one of the good Samaritans that came to aid the first victim, he was stabbed also,’ Mr Weiner said.

Four men, including the attacker, were in critical condition after the stabbing spree, and a fifth man had minor injuries. Police have identified the victims and the attacker but haven't released their names, Weiner said. Read More

Why were Saudi royals with ‘links to 9/11’ allowed to leave the U.S. without being quizzed by the FBI?

Startling new information shows the FBI never questioned members of the Saudi Royal Family before allowing them to flee the United States in the days immediately following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Aboard the plane were two princes -- one of whom allegedly had been in contact with al-Qaeda before the the attacks and another whose father's longtime adviser owned a house in Florida that was allegedly visited several times by some of the hijackers.

What's more, the FBI's detailed report to Congress and President George W. Bush on the Saudi exodus was so flawed, it didn't even correctly identify one of the princes, according to new reporting by MSNBC.

On the day of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, there were two members of the Saudi Royal family on American soil.

One, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, a media baron with vast wealth and a passion for racing expensive horses, was in Lexington Kentucky for the annual sale of thoroughbred yearlings.

The second, Prince Sultan bin Fahd, was a 22-year-old royal living in Sarasota, Florida, and studying at the University of Tampa’s American Language Academy.

Both men, MSNBC reports, were later found to have troubling connections to the men who hijacked four planes on September 11, 2001.

Al-Qaida had allegedly been in contact with Prince Ahmed before the attacks, according to statements made by one of Osama bin Ladin's top aides, Abu Zubaydah, MSNBC reported.

The Prince's family has strenuously denied these allegations and said he loved the United States.

Additionally, an FBI supervisor reported that Prince Ahmed told a local TV station in the days after the attacks that he was bin Laden's cousin.

However, no video of such an interview has ever surfaced and there is no evidence Prince Ahmed had family ties to bin Laden.

More strange is the fact that Prince Ahmed died in July 2002 at age 43 of heart failure. The circumstances of his death remain unclear to this day. Read More

Bartholomew Granger Opens Fire on daughter and ex-wife and Kills Bystander During lunch recess of the trial in Beaumont, Texas

A man accused of sexual abuse today gunned down four people outside the courthouse where he was standing trial, leaving one woman dead.

Bartholomew Granger, 41, apparently shot his 20-year-old daughter and her mother as he went on a rampage during the lunch recess of the trial at Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont, Texas.

His daughter Samantha Jackson, who testified against him yesterday, was in critical condition after the shootout, and a 79-year-old bystander was dead.

After the shooting Granger ran to a nearby building and took hostages while being besieged by police, but the hostages turned on him and took away his gun.

When negotiating with officials he apparently sounded more concerned with seeking medical treatment than with evading justice, and upon emerging from the building he was arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.

Minnie Ray Seabolt, 79, was shot as she tried to escape Granger's onslaught by running in to the courthouse, and died of her wounds.

As the gunman fled the scene, he ran over his own daughter with a pickup truck, sending her to hospital where she remains in a critical condition.

The other two victims - Granger's ex-wife and another bystander - were treated at hospital but released later in the day. Read More

D'Andre Lane charged with toddler daughter’s murder three months after reporting her kidnapped during alleged carjacking

A Detroit father who told police his two-year-old daughter was abducted during a carjacking was charged with her murder yesterday, more than three months after the child disappeared.

D'Andre Lane had begged the public to help find his daughter, Bianca Jones - a plea that inspired dozens of volunteers to comb some of the city's roughest neighbourhoods in early December.

He denies wrongdoing, insisting that he was carjacked and that thieves drove off with the girl strapped in her car seat.

But Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Lane's story is 'totally inconsistent with the facts'.

She said yesterday: 'An entire region worried, waited and willed Bianca's safe return. The facts in this case will show that she is never coming home. ... Fathers killing daughters is rare. It is hard to protect loved ones when the murderer is family.'

Lane, 32, has been charged with first-degree child abuse and murder during a felony, which carries a mandatory punishment of life in prison. Read More

Milan Synagogue Terror Plot: Woman Arrested by Terror Police in London

A 40-year-old woman has been arrested in London in connection with an alleged terror plot against a synagogue in Milan.

Scotland Yard said the woman was arrested at 4.30am at an address in south London.

She was held under section 58 of the Terrorism Act on suspicion of collecting information useful to terrorism.

Police are trying to determine whether she is linked to a Moroccan man arrested by police in Italy.

The 20-year-old man was detained in the Sardinian city of Cagliari on suspicion of plotting an attack on a synagogue in Milan.

More follows ...

David Gilroy Guilty of the Murder of his Ex Girlfriend Suzanne Pilley



A married man, who denied killing his former lover in a Sky News interview, has been found guilty of her murder.

David Gilroy was convicted at the High Court in Edinburgh of murdering Suzanne Pilley, who disappeared without trace nearly two years ago.

Gilroy, 49, who also worked with Ms Pilley - a book-keeper, carried out the killing after she told him their relationship was over.

Ms Pilley's family, sitting in the public gallery, started crying as the verdicts were read out but Gilroy did not react and stared straight ahead.

The jury found him guilty by a majority after taking just under eight hours to deliberate their verdicts.

He was convicted of killing Ms Pilley "by unknown means" on May 4 2010 and of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing her body. Read More

Boxing champion George Groves Threat: Police warn of plot to shoot him dead in the ring

Boxing champion George Groves is living in fear of gunmen who have threatened to shoot him dead in the ring during a live TV fight, it has been claimed.

Mr Groves, 23, from Hounslow, West London, was warned to keep his guard up by police after they received a tip-off that he would be gunned down as he fought.

The British and Commonwealth champion withdrew from his showdown with Kenny Anderson at Wembley Arena on Friday after suffering a back injury while sparring.

His management told The Sun his withdrawal was unrelated to threats against his life. Mr Groves said earlier this week he was 'not 100 per cent fit'.

But an unnamed source told The Sun: 'George and Sophie [his fiancee] were told by CID officers a threat had been made on his life and they should consider their safety.

'The intelligence said if he wasn't shot before the fight, it would happen in the ring.' Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEW ZEALAND - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck off West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand at a depth of 80 km (49.6 miles), the quake hit at 12:23:12 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 10 km (6.2 miles) Northwest of Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake OFF WEST COAST OF THE SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 15th Mar 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck off West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand at a depth of 12 km (7.4 miles), the quake hit at 11:15:19 UTC Thursday 15th March 2012
The epicenter was 100 km (62 miles) West of Te Anau, Tasmin Basin, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

White Cliffs of Dover: thousands of tons of chalk crash into sea after frost and drought

For centuries the cliffs of Dover have stood watch over the Channel, a symbol of this country’s defiant spirit.

But their chalky whiteness is a clue that they are not as sturdy as we might imagine. In fact, they are steadily crumbling away, continually exposing fresh rock.

And every now and again there’s a major collapse like this one – when an area the size of a football pitch fell away, sending thousands of tons of rubble crashing 300ft down on to the shore. Read More