Heightened Security in U.S. Over Iran Threat

Posted by Kitara Julian On 8:38 PM 0 comments
With Iran allegedly striking out at Israeli citizens and Jewish targets around the world, Israeli and American security officials in the U.S. are on high alert.

"We expect it and we are ready," one senior Israeli official told ABC News.
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Besieged by international sanctions over the Iranian nuclear program including a planned oil embargo by Europe, Iran warned six European buyers on Wednesday that it might strike first by immediately cutting them off from Iranian oil.

Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency said the threat was conveyed to the ambassadors of Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Greece and Portugal in separate meetings at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran. Officials said in an earlier report by Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite broadcaster, that Iran had already cut supplies to the six countries was inaccurate — but not before word of the Press TV report sent a brief shudder through the global oil market, sending prices up slightly.

“Iran warns Europe it will find other customers for its oil,” the Islamic Republic News Agency said. “European people should know that if Iran changes destinations of the oil it gives to them, the responsibility will rest with the European governments themselves.”

Last month the European Union decided to impose an oil embargo on Iran as of July 1 as part of a coordinated campaign of Western sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to halt its disputed uranium enrichment program, and the Europeans have been making arrangements since then to find other sources. Read More

Will China come to the EU's rescue?

Posted by Kitara Julian On 8:35 PM 0 comments
(CNN) -- A China-EU summit ended Tuesday with promises for more support from Beijing for debt-straddled Europe, yet no concrete cash pledges to buy euro debt.

It's becoming a familiar scenario in the wake of the eurozone crisis. Indebted nations have made repeated entreaties to Chinese leaders for bail out help in the form of buying government debt bonds or direct investment. And, indeed, Beijing has pledged to help, and Chinese investment in European companies has skyrocketed.

Still, Beijing bristles at accepting the "white knight" role European leaders clearly hope China will play.

In a joint press conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, "China is firm in supporting the EU side in dealing with the debt problems. We match our words with actions."

However, Wen added that it was up to debt-stricken nations -- such as Greece, which approved tough budget cuts ordered by the EU amid escalating violence in Athens -- and the EU to reduce its debt risks, echoing previous statements from China during the crisis. "The debt crisis relies fundamentally on the efforts made by the EU itself," Wen said. Read More

Dongguan, China (CNN) -- The Chinese factory floor ain't what it used to be. Heavy industry machines now sit idle, where once hundreds of workers would have crammed into Dickensian sweat shops, slaving away for little pay.

China's army of migrant workers are smarter than ever, demanding higher pay and better conditions, armed with tough government labor laws.

Ben Schwall has ridden the wave of China's economic boom and now says the tide is turning.

"When I first came to China you had 200 people outside the factory gate trying to get in," he says. "People would ask favors -- 'can you get my cousin a job?' Now that's gone and I'm asking -- 'do you have a cousin who can come help me?'"

Schwall is an old-style middle man. For two decades he's matched product-hungry Western companies with Chinese manufacturers. Read More

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Mauritius, Reunion Region at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 02:20:28 UTC Thursday 16th February 2012
The epicenter was 308 km (191 miles) Northeast of Ile Rodrigues, Mauritius
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck South of the Fiji Islands at a depth of 557.1 km (346.2 miles), the quake hit at 02:09:43 UTC Thursday 16th February 2012
The epicenter was 475 km (295 miles) SSW of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

A magnitude 3.5 earthquake has struck San Francisco Bay Area, California at a depth of 9.3 km (5.8 miles), the quake hit at 02:09:14 UTC Thursday 16th February 2012
The epicenter was 3 km (1.8 miles) NNW from Crockett, California
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Andreanaof Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 76.9 km (47.8 miles), the quake hit at 23:03:49 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 28 km (17 miles) SSE of Tanaga Volcano, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck Java, Indonesia at a depth of 42.3 km (26.3 miles), the quake hit at 21:59:28 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 149 km (92 miles) Southwest of Sukabumi, Java, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Java, Indonesia at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:38:15 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 86 km (53.4 miles) South of Banjar, Java, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

A woman of 26 is being questioned after a teenage girl was found with fatal stab wounds in a park on Tuesday afternoon.

South Yorkshire Police have launched a murder inquiry following the death of 13-year-old Casey-Lyanne Kearney.

The youngster was attacked in Elmfield Park, Doncaster, just after one o'clock on Tuesday.

She managed to call emergency services who treated her at the scene before taking her to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, where she died hours later.

A 26-year-old woman has been arrested and remains in custody, a police spokesman said.

Doncaster Council confirmed she was "known to a number of local public agencies". Read More

NATO to buy U.S.-made unmanned drone aircraft

Posted by Kitara Julian On 11:58 AM 0 comments
(Reuters) - NATO is to buy five U.S.-made unmanned drone aircraft capable of countering Afghan insurgents, hunting pirates off Somalia or monitoring arms embargoes, an alliance official said on Wednesday.

The drones are part of the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) project, scheduled to begin operating between 2015 and 2017. The project reflects NATO efforts to cooperate more closely with its member states on defense costs and capabilities at a time of financial constraints.

NATO has said last year's Libya conflict exposed shortcomings in the alliance's surveillance ability.

Thirteen allies - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States - will participate in the procurement of the unmanned drones and other equipment such as deployable ground stations that will support AGS. Read More

(Reuters) - Iran proclaimed advances in nuclear know-how on Wednesday, including new centrifuges able to enrich uranium much faster, a move that may hasten a drift towards confrontation with the West over suspicions it is seeking the means to make atomic bombs.

Tehran's resolve to pursue a nuclear program showed no sign of wavering despite Western sanctions inflicting increasing damage on its oil-based economy.

"The era of bullying nations has past. The arrogant powers cannot monopolize nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a live television broadcast.

"Our nuclear path will continue." Read More

Ships trapped in frozen Azov Sea, Russia

Posted by Kitara Julian On 11:53 AM 0 comments
Feb. 15 - Ships are trapped by ice in the frozen Azov Sea, as unusually cold weather sweeps across Russia's southern regions. Travis Brecher reports.

London (CNN) -- Heavy snow in recent weeks has already wreaked havoc across Europe -- now it is damaging some of the continent's most recognized historic monuments.

The Colosseum in Rome has been forced to shut after small pieces of its walls crumbled away as a result of freezing temperatures.

And buildings in the historic walled town of Urbino -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- are reported to be at risk of collapse under the weight of snow, following unprecedented blizzards in the area.

In the Italian capital, thousands of tourists have been disappointed to discover the Colosseum, one of the city's most popular attractions, is closed to visitors, while checks are carried out to determine the extent of the damage and to help prevent further movement.

Rossella Rea, archaeologist and superintendent of the Colosseum, told CNN: "Tests and evaluation of the damage is still ongoing, especially on the second level of arches." Read More

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck Eastern Iran at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 18:57:36 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 108 km (67 miles) Northeast of Ravar, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

A twist on summer with rare waterspout

Posted by Kitara Julian On 11:19 AM 0 comments
Auckland's bleak summer produced another turn yesterday - a swarm of twisting waterspouts around Waitemata Harbour.

Christine Keller Smith glanced up from a book she was reading in her Northcote living room and saw a dark, spiralling, "menacing" cloud form next to the Sky Tower about 3.45pm.

"It was just so extraordinary - it was a spectacular sight and was really quite scary," she said.

The waterspout moved along the harbour past the central business district before growing weaker and drifting into thick cloud over the city.

Mother Nature's show sparked a flurry of activity on social media sites such as Twitter.

WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan estimated the waterspout was at least half a kilometre tall and 50m wide, with wind speeds up to 120 km/h.

He said the unstable conditions, perfect for creating the spinning winds, were similar to those which caused a tornado that tore through the North Shore last May, killing a construction worker at Albany. Read More

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck Guangdong, China at a depth of 18.7 km (11.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:34:24 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 118 km (73 miles) ESE from Yingde, Guangdong, China
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India Region at a depth of 29.9 km (18.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:31:57 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 182 km (113 miles) South of Mohean, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

FEHD releases latest results of influenza virus surveillance in pigs
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (February 14) announced the latest round of results of the regular influenza virus surveillance programme for pigs at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

Among some 1,500 samples collected and tested from mid-October 2011 to January 2012, one sample tested positive for the human swine influenza virus (pandemic H1N1).

A total of 27 samples were found to contain viruses that were essentially swine influenza viruses but had picked up some genes of human swine influenza virus. Among them, two samples were detected with a swine influenza, H3N2, while the remaining 25 samples had H1N2. Swine influenza viruses carrying the genes of the human swine influenza virus were also found in the last two rounds of the surveillance programme (i.e. for May to July and August to October last year).

According to Professor JSM Peiris, the HKU expert in charge of the surveillance programme, given the wide transmission of the pandemic H1N1 virus in humans, detection of the virus in pigs is no surprise. Positive findings might continue to appear from time to time in future.

"There have been similar reports from many parts of the world showing that swine influenza viruses carried the genes of the human swine influenza virus. Such viruses are unlikely to pose any major human health risk or cause problems in food safety," Professor Peiris added. Read More

Vietnam report more bird flu outbreaks

Posted by Kitara Julian On 10:42 AM 0 comments
Bird flu has spread further in nine Vietnamese localities, with new infected flocks reported in Hai Phong and four more provinces, an agricultural official said.

Van Dang Ky, head of the Epidemic Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said a series of outbreaks have been discovered in Hai Phong, Thai Nguyen and Bac Giang Provinces in the north, and Kien Giang in the Mekong Delta.

The new outbreaks have led to the deaths and forced culling of more than 3,300 ducks and chickens, Ky said.

The virus was previously detected in flocks in five provinces, including Thanh Hoa and Hai Duong in the northern region, Quang Tri in central Vietnam, and Soc Trang in the Mekong Delta.

Quang Nam Province to the south of Quang Tri has also asked local authorities to try to curb further spreading of the virus in the province. No official bird flu outbreak has been confirmed.

Ky said there’s a very high chance that the disease will continue to spread across the country. Read More

(Reuters) - To reach his office in Galveston National Laboratory, where scientists study deadly pathogens such as the Ebola and Marburg viruses, director James Le Duc swipes his key card at the building's single entrance, which is guarded 24/7 by Texas state police.

As he walks the hallways, more than 100 closed-circuit cameras watch him. Seven more locked doors stand between him and his destination. Entering a research lab requires another card swipe and, for labs housing especially dangerous microbes, a fingerprint scan.

To keep deadly viruses from escaping, each lab uses negative air flow and dedicated exhaust systems. Workers wear full-body air-supplied suits. To test its security, Galveston ran an exercise with the Federal Bureau of Investigation simulating a would-be intruder and another, with the University of Texas, war-gaming a campus shooter. The facility passed both tests.

Galveston's strict security underlines a little-known fact about hundreds of labs working with bacteria and viruses that could make the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic - when as many as 40 million people died - seem like a summer cold. Many of the precautions it takes are not required by law. Read More

US says Syrian referendum plan is 'laughable'

Posted by Kitara Julian On 10:04 AM 0 comments
WASHINGTON — The United States Wednesday dismissed Syria's call for a referendum on a new constitution, which critics see as a move designed to ease global outrage over the government's bloody crackdown.

"It's actually quite laughable -- it makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

"Promises of reforms have usually been followed by an increase in brutality and have never been delivered upon by this regime since the beginning of peaceful demonstrations in Syria."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called the referendum a day after his country flatly rejected UN allegations of crimes against humanity.

The proposed charter drops Article 8 which declared the ruling Baath Party as the "leader of the state and society."

Under the newly drafted constitution, freedom is "a sacred right" and "the people will govern the people" in a multi-party democracy, state television said.

Assad, who in April scrapped emergency rule in force since 1963 when the Baathists took power, has made repeated promises of reforms that have failed to materialize since a popular uprising erupted on March 15 last year. Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake PANAMA - 15th Feb 2012

Posted by Kitara Julian On 9:18 AM 0 comments
A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Panama at a depth of 9 km (5.6 miles), the quake hit at 14:54:47 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 94 km (58 miles) South of La Palma, Panama
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck off the Coast of Maule, Chile at a depth of 6.8 km (4.2 miles), the quake hit at 14:08:45 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 169 km (105 miles) ) WNW of Cauquenes, Maule, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

His species is renowned for its ability to blend in, but this tiny critter is even better than most as the world's smallest chameleon.

Balanced on the tip of a scientist's fingernail in Madagascar, the-three centimetre reptile is no bigger than the flies that form his average-sized cousin's lunch.

Scientists discovered four new species - called Brookesia micra - on a small islet just off the main island. Read More

The husband of a slain pregnant Craigslist prostitute has been charged with her murder and the murder of their unborn child.

Justin Adams, 25, from Oklahoma, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder on Monday after the body of his wife Jaymie Adams was found beaten and stabbed to death on January 7.

In court documents, police say Justin Adams admitted lying about circumstances surrounding her disappearance in December. Read More

Oil Pipeline Bombed in Syria: Raw Video

Posted by Kitara Julian On 7:56 AM 0 comments

A 43-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a clergyman was found dead with multiple stab wounds inside a locked vicarage in a small market town.

Reverend John Suddards, the vicar of St Mary's in Thornbury, south Gloucestershire, was discovered by workmen as they arrived at the building for an appointment on Tuesday morning.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "When they could not gain entry they obtained a key, found the body and called the police."

Residents of Thornbury, about 11 miles north of Bristol, expressed shock at the discovery.

Jacqueline Pillinger, 68, whose daughter works up the street from the vicarage, said she understood Mr Suddards lived alone at the vicarage. Read More

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck the Eastern New Guinea Region, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 14:07:51 UTC Wednesday 15th February 2012
The epicenter was 88 km (54 miles) South of Lae, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Syria: Scores Killed In Aleppo Gun Fight

Posted by Kitara Julian On 6:12 AM 0 comments

At least 14 people have been killed in gun attacks between security troops and armed forces in Syria's largest city Aleppo.

Residents in the city said they had been hearing gun shots since two car bombs exploded there last week.

The attacks mark the beginning of a new, violent chapter for the formerly peaceful city, compared to the escalating violence in other parts of the country.

More than 90 people have been injured in the gun attacks.

Seventeen-year-old Abdu was one of the innocent citizens injured during the fight. Read More

WELLFLEET, Mass. -- Crews with the International Fund for Animal Welfare rescued 10 of 11 dolphins found stranded in deep mud at low tide in the Herring River in Wellfleet on Tuesday.

IFAW officials said one dolphin died shortly after stranding. They gave the 10 live animals health exams, attached identification tags to their dorsal fins and then refloated them as a group into deeper water as the tide came back in.

Crews herded the dolphins out of the harbor using a Zodiac boat and the Wellfleet harbor master's boat.

IFAW officials called it the largest stranding on record in the Northeast region of the U.S., with 177 dolphins becoming stranded in just over a month. Of the 177, 106 dolphins were found dead and 71 were found alive. Of the 71 that were found alive, 53 were released successfully.
Crews will be back out in Wellfleet early Wednesday to survey the coastline. Source

BEIJING, February 15, 2012 (AFP) - Four workers have died and about 30 have fallen ill in south China from suspected glue poisoning that caused severe nerve damage, health authorities and state media said Wednesday.

The victims worked in Guangzhou city in shoe and bag factories with poor ventilation -- most of them illegal -- and started falling ill last year after handling poor quality glue, the Beijing Morning Post said.

According to the report, those still alive but in serious condition are now incontinent and have experienced memory loss, with some unable to remember simple maths such as calculating one plus two. Others are unconscious.

Doctors quoted in the report said their central nervous systems had been damaged, with some of the patients' hands continuously shaking.

Wang Min, an official at the Guangzhou Number 12 People's Hospital where 33 of the workers have been admitted since November, told AFP they had all been poisoned by dichloroethane -- a chemical compound used to make glue.

She said one had since died, another had recovered, and three had been transferred to another hospital.

According to the newspaper report, another three people have died from the same form of poisoning.

"Currently, there are still 28 people being treated in our hospital, including 16 in serious condition, although their lives are out of danger," Wang said.

"The patients all came from small workshops that made shoes, leather products and bags." Read More

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