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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Air tanker crashes while fighting record wildfires in California

© Donald Talend / AP

Smoke rises from the crash site above Highway 140 near the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite national park in northern California.

An air tanker plane being used to fight a wildfire in Yosemite national park has crashed, killing the pilot, officials for the park and the California forestry and fire department have said.

Emergency workers reached the crash site near the Dog Rock fire on Tuesday evening and found the pilot had been killed, authorities announced. The pilot was yet to be named.

Witnesses saw the plane slam into the wall of a cliff above Highway 140 near the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite on the western edge of the park "and yes, there was a lot of fire", park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

She said crews were just reaching the site of the wreckage several hours after the accident. There was no word on what caused the crash.

Alyssa Smith, of the California fire service, said the pilot was the only person on board at the time.

Authorities began searching for the tanker, a two-engine Grumman S-2T, after it lost radio contact with spotter planes that had been flying alongside it, fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said.

The Dog Rock fire broke out at about 2.45pm on Tuesday near Arch Rock and prompted the evacuation of about 60 homes in the nearby community of Foresta, as well as the closure of the Highway 140 entrance into the park, Cobb said.

State officials have said this year's California fire season, which traditionally runs from May to October, is on track to be the most destructive on record, with record drought intensifying conditions.

The fire service has responded to more than 5,150 wildfires already and typically the largest blazes occur in October. The Dog Rock fire was the third big fire to break out in Yosemite this year, Cobb said.

The accident came two years after an air tanker plane crashed on a forested mountainside in south-western Utah in June 2012 while on a mission to drop chemical fire retardant on an 3,238-hectare (8,000-acre) blaze near the Nevada border. Two crew members from Idaho were killed.

Georgia 'sovereign citizen' gets 4 life terms for raping 9-year-old girl

A self-described "sovereign citizen" was sentenced to four consecutive life terms in prison for raping a child.

Chadrus Brown was convicted of rape, aggravated sodomy, and child molestation in the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl in December 2012.

The 40-year-old Brown, of Atlanta, fondled and then raped the girl after forcing her to sleep alone in a bed with him, prosecutors said.

The girl told her family the next day, and Brown was arrested after DNA evidence linked him to the assault, investigators said.

Brown, who acted as his own attorney, claimed the victim was lying.

He also argued in pretrial motions that he was immune to prosecution because he is a sovereign citizen, and thus not bound by any form of government or constitution.

But a judge denied his motion and started the trial, which ended with a pair of convictions after jurors deliberated for less than 30 minutes.

Brown was serving his third stint in state prison during the trial, with previous convictions for theft, forgery, and terroristic threats and acts.

The judge tacked on an additional 60-year prison term to Brown's life sentences with no chance for parole.

Cubana Flight 455: Remembering who the real terrorists are

October 6th, is the 38th anniversary of the first act of terrorism against civilian aviation in the western hemisphere - the unparalleled Cubana air disaster on the coastline of Barbados on October 6, 1976 - the Barbados crime. Cubana flight 455 was hit by two C-4 explosives bombs just after the aircraft took off from the then Seawell Airport (now the Grantley Adams International Airport) in Barbados at an altitude of 18,000 feet.

Rather than crashing into the white sands of the beach called Paradise and killing the vacationers, the Cubana pilot, Wilfredo Pérez Sr., courageously banked the plane away from the beach and towards the Atlantic Ocean, saving the lives of many tourists. It crashed in a ball of fire one mile north of Deep Water Bay. The crash occurred about eight kilometres short of the airport.

Cubana flight 455 was a routine, scheduled commercial, passenger flight of no military significance. There were no survivors. All 73 passengers and five crew members aboard the plane were assassinated: 57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese, and five North Koreans.

Among the dead were all 24 members of the 1975 Olympic youth fencing team; many were teenagers. The young athletes had just won all the gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Championship Games, as well as several sport officials of the Cuban Government. They proudly wore their gold medals on board the aircraft.

The trail of blood leads to the US - and Canada.

It is the bitterest irony that the anniversary occurs on the very day that the Harper government demands parliamentary approval to send military forces to another hemisphere to commit aggression under the pretext of opposing terrorism, while it is silent on terrorism committed in the nearby Caribbean.

It is the bitterest irony that the Harper government designates "Islamic terrorists" as the greatest threat facing mankind, when the self-confessed engineer of this great crime, Posada Carilles, known as the Bin Laden of the Americas, languishes comfortably in Miami, Florida under U.S. protection.

In its fraudulent offensive, the government and media, which talks about "blowback" and the "victims of terrorism", is silent on the fact that the aircraft that was destroyed by Cuban-American terrorists was actually owned by Air Canada, one of three Air Canada DC-8s leased to Cubana. Nor was this a unique incident. Earlier, on July 9, 1976 in Kingston, Jamaica a suitcase had exploded when it was carried to another DC-8 aircraft of Cubana de Aviación leased from Air Canada.

Nor that the meeting just four months earlier on June 11, 1976 that planned the terrorism, as well as the assassination of Orlando Letelier, the former foreign minister of Chile then resident in Washington, the capital of the U.S., took place at an exclusive resort lodge owned by Falconbridge Mines, a multinational US-owned, Canadian registered corporation and the second largest nickel monopoly in the world (after INCO), in Bonao, Dominican Republic. During that meeting, over 20 assembled individuals representing terrorist factions founded CORU, an anagram for the Coordinación de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas, headed by Orlando Bosch, in response to CIA director George H. Bush's demand that the offensive against the Republic of Cuba be centrally co-ordinated under CIA direction and funding as part of Operation Condor. That same month, June, 1976, Bosch is on record that he sent a bomb to the Cuban embassy in Ottawa, aimed at hindering the relations between Canada and Cuba and enforcing the illegal U.S. blockade of Cuba, one of many targets attacked by Cuban-American terrorists inside and outside the territory of Canada during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Protesters outside the Carriles immigration hearing in El Paso, Texas demand his extradition to Venezuela and the release of the Cuban Five.

A report issued by the U.S. Acting General Attorney General Joe D. Whitley in May 1989 declared Bosch a public enemy of the United States and denied asylum to this dangerous character for the 30-odd terrorist acts committed, among them the hideous Barbados bombing. The US Attorney emphasized one particular terrorist act: "In October 1976, Bosch was arrested in Venezuela in relation with the bombing committed against a Cuban civilian airliner on October 6, 1976, which killed 73 men, women and children aboard." Nevertheless, Bosch was admitted to the U.S. at the behest of the Bush administration, where he lived and plotted until his death a couple of years ago.

Canada is a signator of the and . Yet successive federal governments have failed to support the credible and legitimate demand of the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, backed by Trinidad, Barbados and Cuba, to the United States to extradite Luis Posada Carriles for terrorist crimes committed in their sovereign countries, specifically bombing the Cuban aircraft in October, 1976 and the Havana hotels in 1997, which included the murder of Fabio di Celmo, a resident of Montreal, Canada, who was visiting Cuba with his father. The collusion of the Chretien Liberals consisted of whitewashing the latter's murder by feigning that the innocent victim was technically an Italian national, and hence of no concern to the Government of Canada. The Trudeau Liberals declared the destruction of the Cubana Flight / Air Canada DC 8 455 in 1976 business as usual, satisfied with collecting the insurance on the loss of property of Air Canada, then a crown corporation. The Harper government is no less an abettor and promoter of international terrorism than U.S. imperialism.

The "war on terror" of the U.S. and Canadian governments is so disingenuous that they shelter and reward the terrorists they prefer, while accusing others of the crimes they commit. Earlier this year, acting as judge and jury, the Obama, Harper and allied regimes launched a hysterical offensive without any evidence to indict the Russian Federation and its president as part of their warmongering, that allegedly it was responsible directly or indirectly for the destruction of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014 over the war zone in Eastern Ukraine.

The central assumption is that the United States alone is the single state in the world that does not kill innocent civilians, is not at war with anyone, answers to a higher law above international law and the United Nations, and hence has the moral authority to accuse everyone else of criminal activity. Any people such as the Cubans or Ukrainians or Palestinians who resist this authority are "terrorists" and the agents of a foreign power or constitute an "illegitimate" government as with the Syrian Arab Republic to be overthrown. But this disinformation remains silent on the criminal record of the US in destroying civil airliners and even heaping the highest honours on those who pull the trigger, as it did with those who shot the missiles on July 3, 1988 that downed Iran-Air flight 655 inside Iranian territory, killing 290 defenceless passengers and crew. Two years later George Bush, by this time president, awarded both the Commander and the officer in charge of anti-air warfare of the with the Legion of Merit for the "calm and professional atmosphere" under their command during the period of the destruction of the Iranian airliner.

The Bush and Obama administration's policies at home and abroad have woken a sleeping and silent giant throughout this continent. And, yes: America is one continent and not two as some U.S. textbooks would have us believe.

Australian woman survives for 17 days lost in rainforest

© Shutterstock

Australian rainforest at late afternoon.

A woman missing for more than two weeks in a rugged Australian rainforest has stumbled out alive after surviving a chase by a crocodile and eating small fish, officials and reports said Thursday.

Shannon Fraser, 30, went missing on September 21 near the remote Josephine Falls in Queensland state after becoming disorientated, wearing just leggings, a shirt and flip flops.

She was spotted by a banana farmer on Wednesday, covered in cuts, welts, bruises and insect bites, the reported

"She's lost lots of weight, she's covered in cuts and scratches, but she's in good spirits," her brother Dylan Fraser told the newspaper.

Reports said she lost nearly 17 kilogrammes (37 pounds) during her ordeal.

The said Fraser told her family that during her feat of survival she came face-to-face with a giant cassowary flightless bird, and got chased by a two-metre (6.5-feet) freshwater crocodile.

A report by ABC News said Fraser was dehydrated and so severely sunburnt she had to repeatedly submerge herself in a stream during her ordeal to cope with the pain.

Police confirmed the mother-of-three had been found, and said they were surprised their search failed to find her.

"Can I say the methodologies that are employed in that search operation are tried and proven and extremely sound," Inspector Rhys Newton told reporters.

"I am convinced that there was an extremely high probability of locating that missing person had she been in that area that we were searching."

Her brother Dylan told national radio that his sister cried herself to sleep for 16 nights, but the thought of her children made her persevere each day to reach safety.

"She just stayed strong, and made it out," he said.

Her partner Heath Cassady, who reported her missing and helped in the fruitless search effort, said he was overjoyed that she was back safely.

"Her whole body is scarred and peeling, she's been through a lot," he said.

"It is amazing she's still alive."

Fraser remains in hospital in a stable condition, an ABC News report said late Thursday, adding that Cassady revealed she had proposed to him just two days before she went missing.

"There was no way she was gone," Mr Cassady added.

"I could always feel in my heart that she was alive."

Ukraine to fire up to million bureaucrats with ties to Russian past

Ukraine bureaucrats

© Reuters

Ukraine bureaucrats

Ukraine's president approved a disputed anti-graft measure on Thursday that could see up to a million civil servants with alleged links to past Soviet or pro-Russian governments immediately sacked.

The so-called "lustration law" follows the example of other eastern European nations that broke free of decades of Moscow's domination at the end of the Cold War.

It was also a rallying cry of the protests that convulsed Kiev last winter and led to the ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych and a secretive band of Ukrainian tycoons.

The law removes anyone who held a federal or regional government position for more than a year under Yanukovych, who is now in self-imposed exile in Russia.

It also sets up a special commission to investigate judges and law enforcement agents suspected of living lavish lifestyles on humble government wages.

Another provision prevents anyone unable to explain their sources of income or assets from holding office for five to 10 years.

Lawmakers' initial failure to adopt the legislation last month sparked violent protests outside parliament that engulfed the building in the black smoke of burning tyres and brought riot police out on the streets.

The bill itself says it was drafted to help "restore trust in the authorities and create a new system of government that corresponds to European standards".

"This is a historic day for Ukraine," President Petro Poroshenko posted on his Facebook account.

"The state machine will be cleansed. Glory to Ukraine!"

But the legislation has been bitterly fought by lawmakers representing Russian-speaking eastern regions -- the power base of the former regime and now partially controlled by separatist rebels.

Its legality has also been questioned by the Council of Europe and business leaders who fear it will lead to a damaging exodus of competent bureaucrats.

Even the president's own special representative on children's issues complained that it "violates basic rights and freedoms of citizens, is anti-constitutional and does not correspond to European judicial procedures or standards."

"It provides a way to settle scores with your (political) opponents," children's ombudsman Yuriy Pavlenko wrote on his Facebook account.

Other clauses in the law bar anyone found guilty of backing separatist causes and anyone who worked as a prosecutor or held a top office when state agents shot dead nearly 100 protesters during the Kiev unrest.

The commission can additionally probe civil servants' links to the Soviet-era secret service and Communist Party.

The measures have already prompted the resignation of two top finance and economy ministry officials who are respected by the business community but were hired during Yanukovych's 2010-2014 presidency.

A succession of recent governments have been riven by squabbles and business clan rivalries that stalled the adoption of crucial economic restructuring measures and left the country nearly bankrupt and dependent on foreign help.

Yanukovych and his allies were accused of persecuting their predecessors and jailing former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for political reasons.

Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko -- his post-Soviet group facing a nationwide ban in court -- said the law "subjects almost any civil servant to repression."

FLASHBACK: Malaysian woman rubber tapper survives bear attack

A bear pounced on a 60-year-old woman and dragged her into a jungle not far from where she was tapping rubber in Kampung Pasir Puteh in Marang, Terengganu.

Asmani Yahya's painful screams caught the attention of her husband, who threw a sickle at the beast and whacked it with a tree branch to force it to let go of its prey, Harian Metro reported.

Recalling the horrifying incident from her bed at the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu, Asmani said she and husband Mamat Othman, 63, had gone on their usual routine to tap rubber at their smallholding on Thursday morning.

At around 8.30am, a big black bear suddenly came from behind and clutched her neck with its teeth and dragged her for several metres into the nearby jungle.

"I struggled and screamed but it did not let go. It bit into my head and neck and I screamed some more and said a little prayer.

"Thankfully, my husband heard my cries and picked up a sickle and hurled it at the bear," she said.

Mamat said he shudders at the thought of what could have happened if he was not nearby to hear his wife's screams.

Terengganu Wildlife and National Parks Department director Yusoff Shariff said the department has received a report on the incident and would set up traps to prevent animals from the jungle from encroaching into the plantations.

Elderly woman viciously attacked by a wild boar in Malaysia

Katijah showing her stitched-up hand after surviving the wild boar attack.

An octogenarian was attacked by a wild boar and lives to tell her tale.

Katijah Ibrahim, 81, left her home in Kampung Ulu, Batang Melaka at 6.15am for morning prayers at a surau on Wednesday.

The 81-year-old stuck to her usual route when all of a sudden, a boar appeared from seemingly nowhere, charged at her and gored her.

Her daughter Meriam Yunus, 58, said Katijah told her that the boar bit her on the neck too.

"My mother put up a fight but the animal was powerful and big.

"At first, she thought that she was being attacked by a large dog and began screaming anjing, anjing, catching the attention of nearby villagers," she said.

The villagers, Meriam said, then used sticks to scare away the boar which then fled into a secondary jungle.

"Fortunately for my mother, our neighbours saved her in the nick of time," Meriam said.

"I dread to think what would have happened otherwise."

Meriam said she then rushed her mother to the Selandar clinic for treatment to injuries on her right knee, neck and right arm.

"The clinic later referred her to Malacca Hospital as she was bleeding profusely," she said, adding that Katijah was taken to a private hospital the next day.

"She received stitches on her right arm and fingers due to several deep gashes," she said.

Since the incident, Meriam said her mother kept to herself, adding that she was still in a state of shock.

"She kept repeating that the Almighty saved her life and that she is still able to celebrate Hari Raya Haji with us," she said.

Villagers, she said, often spotted wild boars roaming near the village.

"Despite the village being a favourite spot for hunters, the wild boar population has continued to increase," she said, adding that she lodged a police report in Batang Melaka yesterday.

Archaeologists unearth remains of oldest Norman ever found which 'fills gap in our knowledge of pre-Neanderthal evolution'

Oldest Norman

© The Independent, UK

The arm bones, dating from 200,000 years ago, are 'the only known example from northern Europe'.

On a bend of the river Seine near Rouen in Normandy, archaeologists have found the remains of the oldest Norman ever discovered.

The three bones from the left arm of a pre-Neanderthal should shed fresh light on a little-known period. In particular, they could help scientists to understand the evolution of the squat, muscular hunters who died out 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, just after the first humans arrived in what is now Europe.

The discovery of the bones at Tourville-la-Rivière, 14km south of Rouen, is exceptional because "this is a period with very few fossils", according to Bruno Maureille, a palaeontologist at the National Centre for Scientific Research. He said the arm bones, dating from 200,000 years ago, in the Middle Pleistocene era, were "the only known example from northern Europe".

Jean-Philippe Faivre, a colleague at the centre, said that although similar discoveries had been made in the UK and Germany, the discovery in Normandy "fills a gap in our knowledge about how they evolved in this geographical area, and how they adapted to their environment".

Debate continues over the origins of Neanderthals but they appear to have evolved in Europe in isolation. One expert said the Tourville specimen had echoes of the discovery of "Boxgrove Man", whose fossilised tibia was found in West Sussex in 1993. "The English Channel didn't exist in those days," the expert added.

The arm bones - a humerus, radius and ulna - were found by archaeologists from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) at the end of a four-and-a-half-month dig on 10 September 2010. It has taken until now to complete scientific analysis, and today's press conference coincided with publication of the find by 18 experts from France, Australia, the US and Spain in the open-access scientific journal

The bones come from a single person whose sex is not known, but who may have been an older teenager or an adult. The fossils and human occupation at the prehistoric site in Tourville date from 236,000BC to 183,000BC.

Dr Maureille said: "The analysis tells us that Tourville man is closer to the Neanderthals than to modern man."

He pointed out that the humerus has an unusual bone ridge where part of the deltoid muscle is attached. The ridge has been caused by a rupture of the ligament, which may have been due to repetitive movements, such as throwing. Similar bone ridges have been observed on modern athletes, according to Mr Maureille.

Archaeologists have known for a long time about the presence of animals and flint at Tourville. A first dig took place there in 2008, followed by the 2010 dig in a sand and gravel quarry which produced the latest discovery.

Céline Bémilli, an archaeozoologist with Inrap, said the excavations had produced the remains of about 15 animal species, including horses, deer, wolves, hares and even the first panther to be found at Tourville. Other finds from the same interglacial era, ending about 200,000 years ago, have included parts of skulls excavated in northern France at Biache-Saint-Vaast. Only about a dozen such sites exist throughout Europe.

Cure for Type 1 diabetes imminent after Harvard stem-cell breakthrough

Insulin Injection

© Alamy

Harvard University has, for the first time, managed to manufacture the millions of beta cells required for transplantation.

A cure for diabetes could be imminent after scientists discovered how to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells, in a breakthrough hailed as significant as antibiotics.

Harvard University has, for the first time, managed to manufacture the millions of beta cells required for transplantation.

It could mean the end of daily insulin injections for the 400,000 people in Britain living with Type 1 diabetes.

And it marks the culmination of 23-years of research for Harvard professor Doug Melton who has been trying to find a cure for the disease since his son Sam was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a baby.

"We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line," said Prof Melton.

Asked about his children's reaction he said: "I think like all kids, they always assumed that if I said I'd do this, I'd do it,

"It was gratifying to know that we can do something that we always thought was possible."

The stem cell-derived beta cells are presently undergoing trials in animal models, including non-human primates, where they are still producing insulin after several months, Prof Melton said.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin - the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels.

If the amount of glucose in the blood is too high it can seriously damage the body's organs over time.

While diabetics can keep their glucose levels under general control by injecting insulin, that does not provide the fine tuning necessary to properly control metabolism, which can lead to devastating complications such as blindness or loss of limbs.

Around 10 per cent of all diabetes is Type 1, but it is the most common type of childhood diabetes. 29,000 youngsters suffer in Britain.

The team at Harvard used embryonic stem cells to produce human insulin-producing cells equivalent in almost every way to normally functioning cells in vast quantities.

Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine, University College London, said it was 'potentially a major medical breakthrough.'

"If this scalable technology is proven to work in both the clinic and in the manufacturing facility, the impact on the treatment of diabetes will be a medical game-changer on a par with antibiotics and bacterial infections," he said.

Professor Anthony Hollander, Head of Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool, added:"This is very exciting fundamental research that solves a major roadblock in the development of a stem cell treatment for diabetes.

"The study provides a very elegant and convincing method for generating functional insulin-producing cells in large numbers."

Professor Mark Dunne, at Manchester University, added: Overall this is an important advance for the field of diabetes and people with Type 1 diabetes."

Professor Elaine Fuchs, of Rockefeller University, described the findings as "one of the most important advances to date in the stem cell field".

"For decades, researchers have tried to generate human pancreatic beta cells that could be cultured and passaged long term under conditions where they produce insulin."

A report on the work is published in the journal .

At least 10 dead due to flooding in South Sudan

Local media in Sudan are reporting that at least 10 people have been killed in 2 separate incidents of flooding in South Sudan over the last 7 days.

The Sudan Tribune reports that heavy rain in Eastern Equatoria state between 04 and 05 October 2014 caused severe floods in the county of Magwi. Roads and bridges have been damaged as a result of the flooding. The heavy rain has also caused landslides in the area.

At least 6 people died in the flooding in the village of Owinykibul. The heavy rain caused the Atebi River to overflow and one person died after being swept away while he attempted to cross.

In Unity state at least 3 people drowned in floods after heavy rain in Mankien, Mayom county on 05 October. The flooding has also caused damage to homes and property in several areas of the county.

Local media are also reporting that heavy rains and floods have been seen in Maban County, Upper Nile state. No damage to property has been reported, although the flooding caused disruption to transport after major roads were blocked or made impassable.

Over 60,000 people were displaced by flooding in Sudan and South Sudan in August this year.

One of the worst affected areas has been Bentiu, Unity state, South Sudan, the location of the refugee camp housing around 50,000 people. The camp has suffered badly from flooding since July this year. A recent report by IRIN said that flooding had wiped out much of the camp's infrastructure and the property of camp residents, including beds.

The camp is located in a low lying area prone to flooding. The recent heavy rainfall in Unity state is likley to affect camp conditions once again.

Tornadoes rip across UK as more wet weather and strong winds forecast

Twisters were reportedly spotted in Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Wirral

Tornadoes were sighted in several parts of the country yesterday, as heavy winds and rain lashed the UK.

Twisters were reportedly spotted in Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Wirral on Wednesday, as summer well and truly came to an end.

An eyewitness video posted on YouTube showed a tornado whipping across fields in the Haverthwaite and Backbarrow area of Cumbria.

And in the Derbyshire town of Alfreton, cars were flipped over and a house's roof ripped off by the powerful winds.

According to the BBC, the man who lives there, William Sitch, is waiting to find out whether his home will have to be demolished.

His partner's son, Oli Constable, told the broadcaster: "He's gutted and in shock. It's not something that you think would happen in Alfreton."

The Met Office confirmed that the town was struck by a tornado, but added that conditions were likely to remain calmer today.

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Gales of up to 60mph are forecast, but more tornadoes are said to be unlikely.

Forecaster Tom Tobler, a spokesman for MeteoGroup, said: "Across southern Britain there will be gusts of around 50 to 55mph and this will spread eastwards throughout the day.

"There were some reports of tornadoes, including in the Wirral and Cumbria, and conditions were favourable to the formation of tornadoes.

"There will be some heavy showers and thunder storms around today, particularly in western areas but I would say not quite as much as yesterday - central and eastern areas won't see quite as many showers."

The Met Office's weather warning, covering an area from Cornwall to Bournemouth and Cardiff to Swansea, read: "Southwesterly winds will strengthen through Wednesday evening with gales expected overnight.

"Gusts are likely to reach 50mph quite widely, with 60mph gusts possible across exposed coasts and headlands, and also in association with squally, thundery showers. Winds will then moderate through Thursday morning.

"The public should be aware of the potential for some minor disruption."

There are currently 16 flood warnings in place across the UK, including one in Scotland, seven in England and eight in Wales.

Tornado seen over motorway in the UK

The rare sighting of the intimidating twister was filmed by motorists who spotted the huge rotating column of air circulating over the M53, just metres in front of them

A dramatic video has emerged of a tornado spotted over the M53 in Bromborough, Merseyside, UK on Wednesday afternoon.

In the footage, captured by a passenger in a car, motorists can be seen pulling on to the hard shoulder to avoid the dangerous driving conditions.

A Met Office spokesman said: "Although tornadic activity is by no means common across the UK, it does occur on occasions when the atmosphere is suitably volatile".

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Protests in St. Louis after goon cop murders 18-year-old 'armed' with a sandwich

"This is a dangerous situation for our city," local alderman says

© AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson

An angry crowd gathered Wednesday night near the site where an 18-year-old black man was killed by a white St. Louis police officer.

An off-duty St. Louis police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old African American man on Wednesday, prompting overnight protests in the streets of south St. Louis, just a few miles from Ferguson, where unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer in August.

Details of the shooting remained unclear on Thursday. In a briefing early Thursday morning, Police Chief Sam Dotson said the man fired three shots at the officer first. The white officer, a six-year veteran of the department who was unharmed in the incident, fired his gun 17 times.

But relatives of the man, who identified him as Vonderrit Myers Jr., said he didn't have a weapon.

"He was unarmed," Teyonna Myers, Vonderrit's cousin, told the . "He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It's like Michael Brown all over again."

Jackie Williams, his uncle, called his nephew's death "outright murder."

The Justice for Mike Brown Coalition held a mid-morning press conference on Thursday, in which State Senator Jamilah Nasheed reportedly said the shooting was "racial profiling gone bad" and that Myers was shot in the back of the head.

The reports:

According to police, the officer was working for a private security company at the time, patrolling a specific neighborhood, but was in a St. Louis police uniform when he encountered three men he thought were acting suspiciously about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. When they saw the officer make a U-turn, they fled.

...[The officer] drove through the streets after them and then left his car and chased them on foot. One of the men then turned toward the officer and approached him "in an aggressive manner," Dotson said. The suspect and the officer got into a physical altercation.

Dotson said the man then ran up a hill and fired three times at the officer before the officer returned fire. Investigators recovered a 9mm Ruger at the scene, which Dotson said was used by the 18-year-old, whom he described as "no stranger to law enforcement."

According to the : "Myers was scheduled to stand trial in November for unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest."

A tense crowd of about 300 gathered in the streets late on Wednesday, chanting "Hey, hey, ho, ho, these killer cops have got to go" - a popular chant from the Michael Brown protests in nearby Ferguson - and "Black lives matter." Several police vehicles were damaged during the demonstrations.

On Twitter, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French said he was "[a]t the scene of yet another young man's death. This happens too often in our city. It's a crisis that we should all be concerned about."

© Unknown

A "weekend of resistance" against police violence is scheduled to begin tomorrow in Ferguson, featuring marches, meetings, and workshops.

California aquifers contaminated with billions of gallons of fracking wastewater


© Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

Industry illegally injected about 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater into central California drinking-water and farm-irrigation aquifers, the state found after the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered a review of possible contamination.

According to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California State Water Resources Board found that at least nine of the 11 hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wastewater injection sites that were shut down in July upon suspicion of contamination were in fact riddled with toxic fluids used to unleash energy reserves deep underground. The aquifers, protected by state law and the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, supply quality water in a state currently suffering unprecedented drought.

The documents also show that the Central Valley Water Board found high levels of toxic chemicals - including arsenic, thallium, and nitrates - in water-supply wells near the wastewater-disposal sites.

Arsenic is a carcinogen that weakens the immune system, and thallium is a common component in rat poison.

"Arsenic and thallium are extremely dangerous chemicals," said Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

"The fact that high concentrations are showing up in multiple water wells close to wastewater injection sites raises major concerns about the health and safety of nearby residents."

The Center for Biological Diversity obtained a letter from the state Water Board to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that said the Central Valley Regional Water Board discovered the health violations. Following the July suspension of the 11 injection sites, the EPA ordered a review of aquifers in the area to be completed within 60 days.

The state Water Board also said that 19 more injection wells may have also contaminated sensitive, protected aquifers, while dozens more wells have been the source of wastewater dumped into aquifers of unknown quality.

Despite these damning findings, the extent of wastewater pollution is still undetermined, as the Central Valley Water Board has thus far only tested eight water wells of the more than 100 in the area, according to the documents. Half of those tested came up positive for containing an excessive amount of toxic chemicals.

To unleash oil or natural gas, fracking requires blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock. The contents of fracking fluid include chemicals that the energy industry and many government officials will not name , yet they insist the chemicals do not endanger human health, contradicting findings by scientists and environmentalists. Toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits for evaporation, sprayed into waste fields, or used over again.

Fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination , an uptick in earthquakes, exacerbation of drought conditions and a host of health concerns for humans and the local environment .

A recent study by the US Drought Monitor noted that 58 percent of California is experiencing "exceptional drought which is the most serious category on the agency's five-level scale. Meanwhile, a fracking job can require as much as 140,000 to 150,000 gallons of water per day, water that then cannot be consumed or used in farming operations.

The Center for Biological Diversity noted that the contamination of water sources could be much worse in another regard, as flowback water that comes from oil wells in the state can contain levels of benzene, toluene, and other toxic chemicals that are hundreds of times higher than legally allowed. Flowback fluid is then released back into wastewater storage wells. Chemicals like benzene can take years to eventually find their way to water sources.

"Clean water is one of California's most crucial resources, and these documents make it clear that state regulators have utterly failed to protect our water from oil industry pollution," said Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

"Much more testing is needed to gauge the full extent of water pollution and the threat to public health. But Governor [Jerry] Brown should move quickly to halt fracking to ward off a surge in oil industry wastewater that California simply isn't prepared to dispose of safely."

Propaganda alert! Oksana Bashuk Hepburn: Don't believe the Putin lie, Canada


Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with Government members in his country residence of Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow on October 3, 2014. Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels clashed on October 3, 2014 around the flashpoint city of Donetsk, while trading blame over the death of a Swiss aid worker, four weeks into their shaky truce.

It's frightening that some Canadians support President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine rather than Canada's values of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, be it in the media or in public demonstrations like the one planned for Parliament Hill on Saturday.

Russia's war of terror - Crimea annexation, ethnic cleansing, abduction, torture and murder, downing of the Malaysian plane - are abominations. The criminal is Putin not the Ukrainian freedom fighters who have a right to defend their country. He needs censuring for violating international law while lying that Russia is not "involved." His "humanitarian" convoys and phoney referendums in Ukraine are a freak show. His criminality belies Russia's greatness and throws it back to its nefarious past and into company of despicable despots.

It's regrettable that Russia's current direction mimics the barbarism of the Soviet Union. George Orwell's a fictionalized reality of Ukraine under Communism, is being reenacted but it could be any place where freedom and truth have lapsed.

Putin makes war, yet his propaganda efforts bulldoze truth, whitewashing the perpetrator and blaming the victim: Russia is not involved, Russia's military is not in Ukraine; Russia wants peace. It would have us believe that the West and Ukraine are the aggressors.

Some Canadians are buying the Big Lie. Why is that?

One of the values Canadians hold dear is the right to free speech. It is fundamental to democracy. However, this precious right carries a heavy responsibility: Citizens must be wary of misinformation and outright fraud. It is easy to be duped when a new crisis, such as the one in Ukraine, unfolds. Easily available propaganda leads opinion. Putin knows this. His state media outlets churn out propaganda parading as truth. Their budgets run in the multi-billions.

George Orwell defined this pathological disregard for truth as "the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts."

The former KGB colonel claims the USSR's demise is one of the greatest tragedies of the last century and plans to export it worldwide "wherever Russian is spoken." It doesn't matter that this is nonsense in international law or that Ukrainians want to be more like Europeans than Russians. He wants Ukraine and doesn't want criticism from countries like Canada or military assistance from NATO to get in his way.

He's been thriving on war, subjugation, lies and sleaze - state corruption, drug, human and gun trafficking, cronyism - since coming to power. Ukraine's run-away president paid some 50 per cent of his profits to his Kremlin boss before the Maidan protests ousted him. Small wonder Putin is reported to have personal wealth towering around $40 billion dollars in safe havens around the world.

Such countries prefer business-as-usual with Russia to its sanctions and censure. So do Canadians who support Putin rather than our own values: to stand on the side of right not might. Or, they are taken in by the whitewash covering a brutal reality.

This is wrong. Let's not allow a little man who rules without the oversight of a political opposition or independent media to fool us. He is a one-man horror show and as far-fetched as it may seem, Canadians beware: there are Russian-speakers in Canada whom Putin may wish to "liberate." Or, there's the Canadian Arctic he may wish to annex.

Comment: Hepburn, the author of the bile you can read above, is apparently a former "senior policy adviser" for the Canadian government, a founding member of the "Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine", and daughter of a survivor of Auschwitz. Unfortunately, she appears to be living in a fantasy world of her own creation, resembling the early '90s. It's been 20+ years, and still she sees the shadow of the Soviets under every bed, apparently. Speaking of the "Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine", check out their press release from 2013 of last year:

The Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine is seeking the support of the Canada Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group (CUPFG) in reminding Canada's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the need to address the release of Yulia Tymoshenko. Her freedom will declare Ukraine's commitment to democratic values and, most importantly, remove the key obstacle to the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement to be signed at the Vilnius Partnership Summit, November 28-29.

They have got to be kidding... Well, no, actually. They've just got to be crazy.

Giant, stepwell found in Northwestern India


© The Times of India

The stepwell that was found during the excavation by ASI in Dholavira, Kutch.

Ahmedabad: A 5,000-year-old stepwell has been found in one of the largest Harappan cities, Dholavira, in Kutch, which is three times bigger than the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro.

Located in the eastern reservoir of Dholavira by experts from the Archaeological Survey of India working with IIT-Gandhinagar, the site represents the largest, grandest, and the best furnished ancient reservoir discovered so far in the country.

It's rectangular and 73.4m long, 29.3m wide, and 10m deep. Another site, the ornate Rani ki Vav in Patan, called the queen of stepwells, is already on Unesco list.

"This is almost three times bigger than the Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro that's 12m in length, 7m in width, and 2.4m in depth," said V N Prabhakar, visiting faculty at IIT and superintending archaeologist, ASI.

"We will conduct spot analysis in December as various surveys have indicated other reservoirs and stepwells may be buried in Dholavira," Prabhakar told TOI.

"We also suspect a huge lake and an ancient shoreline are buried in the archaeological site that's one of the five largest Harappan sites and the most prominent archaeological site in India belonging to the Indus Valley civilization," he added.

Experts will investigate the advanced hydraulic engineering used by Harappans for building the stepwell through 3D laser scanner, remote sensing technology and ground-penetrating radar system.

US using destabilization to manipulate energy markets

gas pipelines

© Reuters/David Alire

The US is doing its best to estrange the EU from Russia to get the upper hand in a free trade deal, and also, to manipulate European countries into buying America's relatively more expensive natural gas.

TTIP and Ukraine

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a Euro-Atlantic free trade agreement that is the subject of ongoing negotiations between the US and the EU. The deadline for finalizing the TTIP free trade agreement is in 2015. Its goal is to create what is referred to as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) and to cement the European Union with the United States as one supranational trading bloc.

These trade negations have been passing under the public's radar, because they have been taking place very discreetly behind closed doors. The very TTIP's name is designed to conceal, and was selected by policy and trade mandarins, because of their fears a public backlash could erupt against the negotiations, as it did in the case of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) talks in 2001. Like the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which was signed in Ottawa between Canada and the EU on September 26, wordsmiths calculatingly picked the name TTIP to try to hide the fact that it is a free trade agreement.

Washington is doing its best to disrupt trade ties between its EU partners and the Russian Federation in order to get greater leverage in the TTIP negotiations. Its strategy is to economically weaken its European partners by getting them to cut ties with Moscow through anti-Russia sanctions that will directly hurt their economies too. Washington calculates that this will force a weakened EU to maximize the economic concessions to the US in the TTIP talks.

Geopolitically, this is a story about Euro-Atlantic (read Euro-US) integration versus Eurasian (read Euro-Asian) integration. It seeks to reduce Russian influence in the EU and any risks of the strengthening of trade ties between Russia and the EU by trying to marginalize the Russians in Europe. TTIP negotiations have intensified because the US wants to amalgamate the EU with North America, because it fears that countries like Germany could start considering a Eurasian alternative involving Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the post-Soviet space.

The crisis in Ukraine precisely serves the US's dual purpose to weaken both the EU and Russia. It seeks not only to expand NATO and encircle Russia, but also to damage EU-Russia ties. Ukraine is literally being exploited and used by the US to create a rift between Moscow and the EU and to portray Russia as a bogyman and threat to European security.

Petro-Politics: US LNG vs. Gazprom

The US has also been fighting an energy war that involves controlling energy reserves, the pipelines and strategic corridors that energy is transported through. US involvement, commitments, and concerns in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Iraq, the Levant, the Persian Gulf, and Ukraine have all been part of this energy war.

Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing of gas is part of this equation too. Fracking is transforming the US, which has the fourth largest shale gas reserves in the world, into a natural gas exporter. Washington plans to begin exporting gas from North America in 2015 and 2016.

At the same time, the US has been using North American integration to strengthening its hold on Canadian energy resources. Canada is one of the largest producers of natural gas, largest possessors of proven oil reserves, largest producers of crude oil, and possesses the largest shale gas reserves , and, on the whole, one of the top energy producers in the world.

In the context of US energy exports, Washington wants to compete against and even sideline Russia in the natural gas market. For that reason the US has been lobbying the EU and Turkey to stop buying gas from Russia's energy giant Gazprom and, instead, to begin importing it from the US. The objective of pushing Russia out of energy markets has been part of a long-term US strategy that has been heavily discussed in the Washington Beltway before the US even invaded Iraq in 2003.

American gas, however, is much more expensive than the Russian since it has to be fracked, liquefied, and transported at much higher costs. The American liquefied natural gas (LNG) does not have any chance of competing against Russian gas exports to Europe under fair circumstances and in a genuinely free market.

The so-called free market, however, is not-so-free. There has always been political manipulation taking place to give an advantage to the corporations and conglomerates that certain governments wait on.

Instead of competing fairly in the EU energy market, the US has been working hard to eliminate Russia as a competitor by getting Brussels to simply cut its energy ties with Gazprom and the Russian energy sector. This is precisely why the US has pushed the EU member states to impose sanctions against Russia and this way put legal restrictions and barriers to buying Russian gas.

Energy war and Ukraine: The Empire of 'frack' and shale gas

In context of the energy war, a Polish LNG terminal has been setup in the Baltic port of Swinoujscie with plans to receive its first deliveries of natural gas from North America by the end of June 2015.

Poland and Ukraine are both seen as important possessions for the US in its quest to dominate the gas trade. The two countries that have the second and fourth largest shale gas deposits - if you exclude Russia, their respective reserves are the first and second largest in Europe. The US has plans to control the large untapped shale gas reserves in both countries.

Major US oil companies Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Marathon Oil - which operate in Iraqi Kurdistan and is a shareholder of post-Jamahiriya Libya's Waha Oil Company - have all got huge stakes in exploring and developing Polish shale gas.

Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich's government had signed a deal with the Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell to explore and drill for natural gas in East Ukraine in January 2013 with zero taxes. Another agreement was signed in November 2013 between Yanukovich's government and Chevron to also explore and develop the energy reserves in West Ukraine. Just a year earlier, in 2012, Kiev also awarded a gas contract off the Crimean coast to a consortium led by ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell to develop the Skifska gas field.

The Skifska gas field is not the only field off the Crimean coast that US oil and gas corporations were interested in. Next to it Skifska are located the Foroska, Prykerchenska, and Tavriya fields. While Prykerchenska field was awarded to the US offshore company Vanco Prykerchenska Ltd. and Foroska was under the management of Chornomornaftogaz, the Foroska and Tarivya fields were both the subjects of continuing discussions.

In part, US hostilities towards the rebels in East Ukraine are tied to protecting the shale gas concessions that American energy corporations have received from Kiev. Andrey Purgin, the Deputy Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, has even stated that the same US tactics that were used in Iraq, which include the calculated destruction of civilian infrastructure, are being applied in Eastern Ukraine. These US operations are run via proxy "soldiers of fortune" or mercenaries and "hired guns." According to a May 2014 report by Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper, the ill-famed US private security firm Academi, which had renamed itself from Blackwater and Xe Services owing to its awful record in Iraq, was unleashed on Donetsk and Lugansk.

Energy war and Syria: Mediterranean lockout?

The situation in Syria, where the US has deliberately been destroying energy infrastructure under the mantra of fighting the ISIL, can also be viewed from the same prism of petro-politics. The natural gas off the Levantine coastline that encompasses Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza hold immense reserves of natural gas. Here too the US is working to push out Russia and to control the gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Since 2000, Russian engineering construction company Stroytransgaz has been active in Syria and received contracts to build two gas refineries in the Homs area and to construct the Syrian portion of the Arab Gas Pipeline that connects Lebanon and Syria to Jordan and Egypt. Another Russian energy company, Soyuzneftegaz, got a tender from Damascus to operate on its eastern border with Iraq in 2004. In 2007, the Syria Gas Company (SGC) and Stroytransgaz agreed to jointly work on developing the natural gas reserves discovered in the fields of Homs. Amidst the crisis in Syria, Soyuzneftegaz signed an important offshore exploration agreement with Damascus on December 25, 2013.

Moreover, it just so happens that the crisis in Syria erupted during negations between Syria, Iraq, and Iran to build a gas pipeline from the world's largest natural gas field to the Syrian coast. Damascus signed the agreement with Iraq and Iran on June 25, 2011. Until the contract was cancelled in 2009, Stroytransgaz was even supposed to connect the pipeline between the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and the Syrian port of Baniyas.

Qatar and Turkey were hostile to the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement since it sidelined them as a natural gas exporter and as an energy corridor. The possibility that the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline could be used to export gas to the EU as a lower-priced rival to US LNG also had to be viewed negatively in Washington.

What the fighting in Syria and Iraq has done is put this project on hold whereas regime change will nullify it.

Destabilization as US Bargaining Tactic?

While the US has been stoking tensions in Europe to help it in the TTIP negations with Brussels, the Pentagon has been redeploying to the Middle East. The Pentagon-led buildup in the region is about anything but fight ISIL. In part, it may be tied to US nuclear negations with Iran. On top of other goals, the US-led military buildup could be intended to give Washington additional leverage against Tehran in the nuclear talks.

Creating instability looks to be part of a packaged approach. Whatever the case is, its creation appears to be used to support US negotiations and bargaining. This is very clear in the case of the tension in Ukraine, where Washington is using the crisis to its advantage in TTIP talks and to peddle its LNG to the EU by using sanctions to lockout Russian gas.

The FBI's plan to destroy privacy


© Privacy SOS Org

You've probably heard privacy advocates talk about how it isn't just one set of data, or one surveillance technology, that we need to worry about, but rather the combination of them. When corporations and the government figure out how to seamlessly integrate our license plate records, cell phone location histories, education and health data, and biometric identifiers into one easily mapped dossier, the surveillance state will have reached its apotheosis - and privacy will be a relic of the pre-digital age.

The real-world application of a fully integrated surveillance state isn't hard to conjure. If you think of the data we leave behind and that is created about us as a 3D puzzle with thousands of pieces of different shapes and materials, the integration of all of that data would be a 3D recreation of our lives. The result is a digital hologram of our person, mapping out everything we do, everywhere we go, and everything we from the moment we are born until the moment we die.

That sounds awfully futuristic and maybe even paranoid, but the basic puzzle pieces are already here, and many of them are already being assembled. The FBI isn't afraid to publicly admit that "data aggregation" is a central goal at the bureau's IT department. They have so much data, and they are daily acquiring more and more kinds, but they don't yet know exactly how to process it. Enter "identity resolution" and "record linkage."

According to an internal power point presentation, the FBI's Data Aggregation Working Group (DAWG) is working to build a Data Aggregation Reference Architecture (DARA) that will "[d]efine a reference architecture that enables entity resolution and data correlation, and disambiguation across multiple data aggregation investments." The goal is to "[d]evelop a reference architecture to support a consistent approach to data discovery and entity resolution and data correlation across disparate datasets."

The FBI calls this process "resolving identities." At a basic level, it will enable "[t]he process of determining whether two or more references to real-world objects such as people (individuals), places, or things are referring to the same object or to different objects. This concept is sometimes referred to as Entity Correlation, Entity Disambiguation, or Record Linkage, and includes related concepts such as Identity Resolution." It will also enable the creation of "identity maps": "Complete enriched entity data that includes the linkage of

relationships between people, places, things, and characteristics of data resulting from an entity resolution process."

Take a look at the image above to see the kinds of information the FBI hopes to integrate, to make "entity correlation" and "record linkage" possible in real time, across a range of platforms, using both commercial and government datasets.

Now imagine a world in which an FBI official sitting in a bunker in Virginia can type your name into a computer and receive in response a real time indication of your physical location, accompanied by live surveillance imagery of you walking to work beamed from a drone. The drone is equipped with a variety of biometric sensing technologies to enable rapid identification of a target even in a crowd of millions, making it so that every person stands out like a sore thumb, if someone is looking for them. The live video of you walking down the street is supplemented on the FBI agent's screen by every piece of digital information ever compiled on you by government or corporate entities, all crunched by algorithms and displayed in simple, interactive maps, charts, and graphs.

There's next to nothing about you this FBI official will not know. And there are things he could rapidly discover that you yourself wouldn't know about your own circumstances. He might, for example, ask a simple query of the machine: "Does subject have any associates within a mile radius at present?" After combing through your phone records and the real-time location information of people in your network, married to the data coming from the surveillance drone, the computer would then highlight a number of people on the real-time image of the city street. The FBI official could zoom in on one of those people, walking two blocks behind you in the same direction. It's your boss, also headed to work.

The future beckons. And it seems like only the FBI is prepared. Congress has yet to pass an update to an electronic privacy law signed in 1986, which to this day grants law enforcement the ability to read some of our emails without warrants. The federal legislative body apparently has no problem funding dystopian projects like "identity resolution" in every dark corner of the so-called "intelligence community." But our elected officials in Washington appear to be expending exactly zero effort to seriously advance 21st century digital privacy law.

The FBI is thinking big. If we don't, too, we'll live to regret it.

Germany and Japan experiencing serious financial trouble

economic collapse

There are some who believe that the next great financial crash will not begin in the United States. Instead, they are convinced that a financial crisis that begins in Europe or in Japan (or both) will end up spreading across the globe and take down the U.S. too. Time will tell if they are ultimately correct, but even now there are signs that financial trouble is already starting to erupt in both Germany and Japan. German stocks have declined 10 percent since July, and that puts them in "correction" territory. In Japan, the economy is a total mess right now. According to figures that were just released, Japanese GDP contracted at a 7.1 percent annualized rate during the second quarter and private consumption contracted at a 19 percent annualized rate. Could a financial collapse in either of those nations be the catalyst that sets off financial dominoes all over the planet?

This week, the worst German industrial production figure since 2009 rattled global financial markets. Germany is supposed to be the economic "rock" of Europe, but at this point that "rock" is starting to show cracks.

And certainly the civil war in Ukraine and the growing Ebola crisis are not helping things either. German investors are becoming increasingly jittery, and as I mentioned above the German stock market has already declined 10 percent since July...

German stocks, weighed down by the economic fallout spawned by the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the eurzone's weak economy, are now down more than 10% from their July peak and officially in correction territory.

The DAX, Germany's benchmark stock index, has succumbed to recent data points that show the German economy has ground to a halt, hurt in large part by the economic sanctions levied at its major trading partner, Russia, by the U.S. and European Union as a way to get Moscow to butt out of Ukraine's affairs. The economic slowdown in the rest of the debt-hobbled eurozone has also hurt the German economy, considered the economic locomotive of Europe.

In trading today, the DAX fell as low as 8960.43, which put it down 10.7% from its July 3 closing high of 10,029.43 and off nearly 11% from its June 20 intraday peak of 10,050.98.

And when you look at some of the biggest corporate names in Germany, things look even more dramatic.

Just check out some of these numbers...

The hardest hit sectors have been retailers, industrials and leisure stocks with sports clothing giant Adidas down 37.7pc for the year, airline Lufthansa down 27pc, car group Volkswagen sliding 23.6pc and Deutchse Bank falling 20.2pc so far this year.

Meanwhile, things in Japan appear to be going from bad to worse.

The government of Japan is more than a quadrillion yen in debt, and it has been furiously printing money and debasing the yen in a desperate attempt to get the Japanese economy going again.

Unfortunately for them, it is simply not working. The revised economic numbers for the second quarter were absolutely disastrous. The following comes from a Japanese news source...

On an annualized basis, the GDP contraction was 7.1 percent, compared with 6.8 percent in the preliminary estimate. That makes it the worst performance since early 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis.

The blow from the first stage of the sales tax hike in April extended into this quarter, with retail sales and household spending falling in July. The administration signaled last week that it is prepared to boost stimulus to help weather a second stage of the levy scheduled for October 2015.

Corporate capital investment dropped 5.1 percent from the previous quarter, more than double the initial estimate of 2.5 percent.

Private consumption was meanwhile revised to a 5.1 percent drop from the initial reading of 5 percent, meaning it sank 19 percent on an annualized basis from the previous quarter, rather than the initial estimate of 18.7 percent, Monday's report said.

For the moment, things are looking pretty good in the United States.

But as I have written about so many times, our financial markets are perfectly primed for a fall.

Other experts see things the same way. Just consider what John Hussman wrote recently...

As I did in 2000 and 2007, I feel obligated to state an expectation that only seems like a bizarre assertion because the financial memory is just as short as the popular understanding of valuation is superficial: I view the stock market as likely to lose more than half of its value from its recent high to its ultimate low in this market cycle.


At present, however, market conditions couple valuations that are more than double pre-bubble norms (on historically reliable measures) with clear deterioration in market internals and our measures of trend uniformity. None of these factors provide support for the market here. In my view, speculators are dancing without a floor.

And it isn't just stocks that could potentially be on the verge of a massive decline. The bond market is also experiencing an unprecedented bubble right now. And when that bubble bursts, the carnage will be unbelievable. This has become so obvious that even CNBC is talking about it...

Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side.

As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming.

It's a scenario that TABB Group fixed income head Anthony J. Perrotta believes is not all that far-fetched, considering the market had what could be considered a sneak preview in May 2013. That was the "taper tantrum," which saw yields spike and stocks sell off after then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made remarks that the market construed as indicating rates would rise sooner than expected.

If the strength of our financial markets reflected overall strength in the U.S. economy there would not be nearly as much cause for concern.

But at this point our financial markets have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality.

The truth is that our economic fundamentals continue to decay. In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the planet on a purchasing power basis. The era of American economic dominance is ending. It is just that the financial markets have not gotten the memo yet.

Hopefully we still have at least a few more months before stock markets all over the world start crashing. But remember, we are entering the seventh year of the seven year cycle of economic crashes that so many people are talking about these days. And we are definitely primed for a global financial collapse.

Sadly, most people did not see the crash of 2008 coming, and most people will not see the next one coming either.

Earthquake Magnitude 6.6 - Southern East Pacific Rise

East Pacific Rise Quake_091014


Event Time

2014-10-09 02:32:05 UTC

2014-10-08 19:32:05 UTC-07:00 at epicenter


32.109°S 110.890°W depth=10.0km (6.2mi)

Nearby Cities

567km (352mi) SSW of Hanga Roa, Chile

3436km (2135mi) W of Lebu, Chile

3442km (2139mi) W of Ancud, Chile

3453km (2146mi) W of Chonchi, Chile

2031km (1262mi) ESE of Adamstown, Pitcairn

Scientific Data

Elderly woman killed by her pitbull terrier

An elderly woman was attacked and killed by her own dog Friday afternoon in Cave City.

Sharp County Dispatch received a 911 call around 2:16 p.m. from a woman saying a dog was attacking her mother.

The Cave City Police Department, Cave City Fire Department, Sharp County Sheriff's Department and Spring River Ambulance Service responded to the house on North Melody Lane.

Cave City Police Sergeant Brian Barnett arrived first and found 75-year-old Alice Payne dead in her living room floor with apparent bite marks all over her face, neck, and arms.

The woman's daughter said she saw the dog, a pitbull belonging to her mother, attack her. The dog was put down by officers, and then turned over to a representative with the Arkansas Department of Health for disease testing.

The woman's body was sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.

The case is still being investigated by the Sharp County Sheriff's Department and Cave City Police Department.

Ebola contained? Pandemic hits Germany, Turkey and Australia - Spanish nurse went un-quarantined for a week

© Getty Images

The Spanish nurse infected with Ebola is moved to Carlos III Hospital from Alcorcon Hospital on 7 October, 2014 in Alcorcon, Spain.

Despite the still confident exclamations from officials that the Ebola pandemic is 'contained', more and more nations are admitting to Ebola-symptomatic cases or bringing infected patients back from Africa for treatment. Australia has its first potential case of the deadly disease, as reports a nurse who returned from volunteering in Africa has developed Ebola-like symptoms. Despite claims that Nigeria's outbreak is over, a Turkish worker there has been hospitalized in Istanbul after signs of high fever and diarrhea. Health officials from Germany confirm a 3rd Ebola patient has arrived in the country - having contracted the disease in Liberia. And finally, just as in the sad case of Thomas Duncan in Dallas, The reports the infected Spanish nurse went untreated and unquarantined for a week despite reporting symptoms at least three times to hospital officials. It seems the world is ill-prepared for this...

reports, a nurse who treated Ebola patients with the Red Cross in Sierra Leone was hospitalized in Australia after developing a low-grade fever, health officials said. She is being tested for the deadly virus.

The 57-year-old volunteer recently returned to Cairns, in the northeastern state of Queensland, where she has been isolating herself and checking her temperature twice daily, Jeannette Young, the state's chief health officer, said in an e-mailed statement. Today, she reported a temperature of 37.6 degrees Celsius (99.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Results of tests for Ebola and other possible infections are expected early tomorrow.

The nurse hospitalized in Cairns was identified as Sue-Ellen Kovack by the Australian newspaper. Kovack returned home two days ago, the newspaper reported.

A Turkish worker employed in Nigeria was rushed to an Istanbul hospital Oct. 8 on suspicion of Ebola, according to , after showing signs of a high fever and diarrhea.

The 46-year-old man, whose identity has not been disclosed, returned to Turkey 10 days ago from Africa to see his family in the western province of Sakarya during the Feast of the Sacrifice holiday.

The incident is the second case of a suspected Ebola patient in Turkey, after a Nigerian woman who transited through Istanbul's Atatürk Airport while traveling from Lagos to Barcelona was rushed to hospital in mid-August.

Health officials from the German state of Saxony confirmed on Thursday that an Ebola patient had arrived in the country, according to DW,

The man, who originates from Sudan, contracted the virus in Liberia, they said, adding that he had been transported from the airport to the St. Georg Clinic in the city of Leipzig, which is located roughly 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Berlin.

St. Georg's Clinic is one of seven health facilities in Germany with the capability to treating highly infectious patients in isolation.

Two other Ebola patients have also been flown to the Central European country in recent weeks. A World Health Organization (WHO) employee had fallen ill with the hemorrhagic fever in Sierre Leone was brought to Hamburg, where doctors were able to stabilize him and eventually release him last week.

And finally, with regard the infected Spanish nurse in Madrid (as The explains), had told health authorities at least three times that she had a fever before she was placed in quarantine.

Her first contact with health authorities was on 30 September when she complained of a slight fever and fatigue. Romero Ramos called a specialised service dedicated to occupational risk at the Carlos III hospital where she worked and had treated an Ebola patient, said Antonio Alemany from the regional government of Madrid. But as the nurse's fever had not reached 38.6C, she was advised to visit her local clinic where she was reportedly prescribed paracetamol.

Days later, according to newspaper, Romero Ramos called the hospital again to complain about her fever. No action was taken.

On Monday, she called the Carlos III hospital again, this time saying she felt terrible. Rather than transport her to the hospital that had treated the two missionaries who had been repatriated with Ebola, Romero Ramos was instructed to call emergency services and head to the hospital closest to her home. She was transported to the Alcorcón hospital by paramedics who were not wearing protective gear, reported.

On arrival at the hospital, Romero Ramos warned staff that she feared she had contracted Ebola. Despite the warning, she remained in a bed in the emergency room while she waited for her test results. She was separated from other patients only by curtains, hospital staff said on Tuesday.

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As of yesterday...

© Zerohedge.com

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But apart from that... "contained"

Czech Republic: EU should consider easing sanctions on Russia if gas negotiations succeed

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that EU should consider easing its economic sanctions against Russia if it succeeds to negotiate natural gas deliveries with Ukraine

The European Union should consider easing its economic sanctions against Russia if it succeeds to negotiate natural gas deliveries with Ukraine, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in an interview published Wednesday by the Mlada fronta Dnes daily.

"In my opinion, it is absolutely legitimate - if Russia continues to show its good will, and the tension [in Ukraine] subsides, and both parties deliver on their promises - that the European Union should consider easing or winding down sanctions," Bohuslav Sobotka said.

He added that the restart of Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine ahead of the winter season was a crucial aspect of the plan.

"Russia could also show its good will in the handling of this issue. And if it does, this could be a good opportunity for a certain gesture of good will on the part of the EU," the Czech prime minister added.

He also said that the Czech Republic could be the initiator of EU policy revision toward Russia.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan announced on Monday that another round of gas talks between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union may take place next week. The exact date is not known yet and may be announced in the next two days, Russia's Minister of Energy Alexander Novak said on Tuesday.

During a ministerial gas meeting held in Berlin on September 26, Moscow and the European Commission proposed the so-called winter package, the deal that would seek Ukraine pay $3.1 billion of its debt to Russia by the end of the year in exchange for gas deliveries during winter months at $385 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Ukraine is not satisfied with the package saying it wants to agree the debt repayment schedule, as well as terms and schedules of future gas deliveries and insists on amending the current gas contract with Russia in order to formally authorize reverse deliveries of Russian gas to Ukraine from Europe.

Autumn snow hampers traffic in the Urals, Russia

[embedded content]

The snow has brought a lot of trouble for drivers because most have not yet changed tires.

"I was driving on the highway M5″ Ural ", the roads are very quickly swept out, - says Igor Nikiforov. - Maximum speed was 20 kilometers (12 miles) per hour, and even at this speed it was scary at some turn to go, the car just drifting. There were traffic jams because trucks could not climb the mountain, they stood and idled."

Over the weekend there were forty serious accidents on the roads of the Chelyabinsk region.

Meanwhile, resourceful residents of the South Urals have used the bad weather to open the ski season.

In Zlatoust adults and children began sculpting the first snowman.

Thanks to Argiris Diamantis for this link

Update: Super Typhoon Vongfong continues towards Japan - 250 kph sustained winds

© nternational Space Station

Vongfong, as a super typhoon on Thursday, October 9, viewed from the International Space Station.

While Japan is recovering from former Typhoon Phanfone, Super Typhoon Vongfong will turn northward across the western Pacific Ocean and bring a new threat by the end of the week.

Vongfong brought flooding rainfall and damaging wind to the northern Mariana Islands on Sunday, local time. Wind gusts over 89 kph (55 mph) and rainfall over 75 millimeters (3 inches) were common.

Currently, Vongfong is nearly equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 250 kph (155 mph).

"Vongfong became the strongest tropical cyclone we've had all year anywhere on Earth," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

The strength of Vongfong earlier surpassed that of Super Typhoon Genevieve which, at its most powerful, had sustained winds of 257 kph (160 mph) in the West Pacific.

The combination of light wind shear and warm water allowed Vongfong to rapidly strengthen across the western Pacific Ocean so far this week.

Late in the week, while Vongfong is located south of Japan, the typhoon is expected to slow down and make a turn to the north. While there remains some uncertainty in the exact track of the storm, confidence is high that the powerful cyclone will track north toward Japan with the potential for a landfall in mainland Japan by early next week.

"Destructive winds and flooding rain will be the top threats," Andrews said.

The first target will be the northern Ryukyu Islands which could begin to feel impacts from Vongfong as early as Saturday or Saturday night.

"It's not out of the question that the storm gets hooked westward, making direct landfall on one or more of the northern or central Ryukyu islands late Saturday into Sunday, local time," Andrews said. "That would mean typhoon-force winds and flooding rain."

The worst impacts across mainland Japan are expected from Monday into Tuesday, with typhoon-force winds and inundating rainfall expected.

"How far west Vongfong is able to run will also determine whether there is a direct landfall in the island of Kyushu and thus the exact impact in cities such as Kagoshima," Andrews said.

Weakening of Vongfong is expected Tuesday, with the cyclone over land and cooler waters, as it pulls away from central Japan.

Many areas at risk from Vongfong are still recovering from more than 150 millimeters (6 inches) of rain and strong winds that hammered eastern Japan from Sunday into Monday as Typhoon Phanfone moved through the region.

Tokyo was deluged by 272 millimeters (10.71 inches) of rain ahead of and during the height of Phanfone.

"Phanfone was a huge rainstorm for Tokyo, one of the biggest I can remember," Andrews added, noting moisture from the storm interacted with stalled front, prolonging the duration of rain.

There could be several inches of rain in Tokyo, almost exactly one week after Phanfone's impact.

"The threats are the same as they were with Phanfone," Andrews said. "There are some likenesses but also some differences in Phanfone's track. The results can vary markedly with small differences in track and storm speed."

All interests in Japan should continue to monitor this powerful typhoon.

German farmers dress cows in diapers to protest EU fertilizer legislation

© Via twitter@eddballsmp

A German farmer has been putting nappies on his cows in protest at EU legislation that forbids the use of fertilizers on steep slopes. With no bovine-sized diapers available from the local store, white bed sheets with pink ribbons had to suffice.

The idea was the brainchild of Bavarian cattle farmer Johann Huber, who became fed up with an EU directive that did not allow farmers to fertilize slopes steeper than 15 percent. With cow droppings in theory counting as fertilizer, he sarcastically decided to try and abide by EU regulations by making sure that no cow droppings managed to land on the pristine Bavarian slopes.

Here are two cows preparing to sumo wrestle. #eumadnessItellyouhttp://ift.tt/1tFcb0L

- Ed Balls (@eddbaIlsmp) October 9, 2014

Huber, whose family farms land near Lake Tegernsee, an hour south of Munich, made sure all 18 of his dairy cows were fitted with the new attire, while he said that Doris the cow "behaved well," speaking to the newspaper. However, Mr. Huber had to do a little improvisation, as regular diapers for children were not going to fit an adult cow.

"We have no standard nappies," he said. "They haven't been developed commercially yet."

© Reuters

Another farmer, Niklas Saenger, told the Star that the EU legislation to ban fertilizers on steep slopes was "ridiculous" and "not practical." He said it was almost as if the farmers were "expected to go along with a shovel and clear up" after their cows.

Farmers who fail to adhere to the EU legislation could face losing their subsidies, while the says that Brussels is going to take legal action against Germany for being a serial offender in not implementing the fertilizer ban.

"We demand that Germany stops this ban," Anton Kreitmair, president of the Upper Bavaria Farming Union, at Wednesday's protest. "Slurry and dung are not pollutants, but valuable fertilizers."

Farmers in the southern German region are particularly worried because of the hilly topography of the area, which means a large area of farmland or grazing land has a gradient of more than 15 percent. This could also affect vineyards, with Kreitmair adding that half the grapevines in Bavaria would no longer be able to use manure to enhance their growth.

"Mountain farmers have a major role in ensuring that the Alps are one of the most sought-after travel destinations. Federal and state politicians need to ensure that the conditions continue to allow farmers to meet their many social duties," The reported Kreitmar as saying.