Monday, January 31, 2011

QUEENSLAND, Australia - The severe cyclone expected to hit Queensland on Thursday is likely to rival, and on some measures, dwarf Cyclone Larry, which devastated parts of north Queensland.
Bureau senior forecaster Ann Farrell said the latest modelling suggested Yasi would make landfall somewhere between Innisfail, in the north, and Proserpine, in the south.
  • If it hits as a category three, wind gusts up to 200km/h can be expected, and 250km/h if it builds to a four, as Cyclone Larry was when it devastated Innisfail and surrounding communities in March 2006.
  • "By that stage we will be looking at a severe tropical cyclone so certainly at least a (category) three, and a category four we wouldn't be ruling that out by any means." Ms Farrell told AAP.
  • She said the last cyclone of that magnitude to hit Queensland was category four Cyclone Larry. Larry left a trail of destruction including damage to 10,000 homes and a repair bill of more than a billion dollars.
  • Cyclone Yasi is just north of Vanuatu, about 2000 kilometres east-northeast of Bowen, which suffered only minor damage when Anthony crossed the coast on Sunday night.
  • Unlike Anthony, which weakened into a low pressure system after crossing land, Yasi is expected to menace Queensland as a strong cyclone even after crossing the coast, the Courier Mail reports.
  • Queensland's Bureau of Meteorology says it's likely to cross the north coast either on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
  • The bureau's senior forecaster Gordon Banks said Yasi would be big and intense, bringing destructive winds and heavy rain across the state. He said like January's devastating floods, Yasi will most likely be a state event.
Source; AAP
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Police use a water canon to disperse supporters of India's main opposition BJP during a protest against alleged corruption in Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
NEW DELHI, India - As many as 10,000 people took section, with identical marches in Mumbai, Bangalore and dozens of different cities, making this the most important protest against corruption in India's history.
Lots of demonstrators took to the streets throughout India the day prior to this to protest concerning the wave of corruption scandals that has engulfed the country in up to date weeks.
A telecommunications scandal cost the country billions of dollars and paralysed Parliament's four-week session in December. India's image was also sullied by allegations of corruption, construction delays and cost overruns during last October's Commonwealth Games. The government had no immediate comment.
Swami Agnivesh, a well-known Hindu non secular chief and activist who has been at the leading edge of the "India Towards Corruption" motion in recent weeks, stated: "The people have declared a war towards corruption today.
Source: AP
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

CAIRO – Egyptians woke up to a dawn of uncertainty Sunday with several key buildings still smoldering in the capital and thousands of anti-regime protesters remaining camped out at the city's main square in defiance of an extended nighttime curfew.
President Hosni Mubarak, clinging to power with promises of reform and a new government, had named his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president on Saturday, setting the stage for a successor as chaos engulfed Cairo. Soldiers stood by — a few even joining the demonstrators — and the death toll from five days of anti-government fury rose sharply to 74.
  • Overnight and as police melted away, residents set up self-styled checkpoints and barricades at street corners and intersections of their neighborhoods, armed mostly with clubs and sticks to protect their homes. By dawn, the city was eerily quiet, with armored military vehicles encircling main government buildings in the downtown.
  • Sunday marks the start of the working week here but banks and the stock market will remain closed, as will schools.
  • Saturday's fast-moving developments across the north African nation marked a sharp turning point in Mubarak's three-decade rule of Egypt. Residents and shopkeepers in affluent neighborhoods boarded up their houses and stores against looters, who roamed the streets with knives and sticks, stealing what they could and destroying cars, windows and street signs. Gunfire rang out in some neighborhoods.
  • Tanks and armored personnel carriers are fanned out across the city of 18 million, guarding key government buildings, and major tourist and archaeological sites. Among those singled out for special protection was the Egyptian Museum, home to some of the country's most treasured antiquities, and the Cabinet building. The military closed the pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo — Egypt's leading tourist site.
  • But soldiers made no moves against protesters, even after a curfew came and went for the second night.
  • "This is the revolution of people of all walks of life," read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. "Mubarak, take your son and leave," it said, in a stark message to the president and his son and potential successor.
  • Police protecting the Interior Ministry near the site opened fire Saturday at a funeral procession for a dead protester, possibly because it came too close to the force. Clashes broke out and at least two people were killed.
  • The crackdown on protesters has drawn harsh criticism from the Obama administration and even a threat Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion foreign aid program if Washington's most important Arab ally escalates the use of force.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at Cairo's airport as flights were canceled or delayed, leaving them unable to leave because of a government-imposed curfew. Several Arab nations, meanwhile, moved to evacuate their citizens.
The cancelations of flights and the arrival of several largely empty aircraft appeared to herald an ominous erosion of key tourism revenue.
  • The protesters united in one overarching demand — Mubarak and his family must go. The movement is a culmination of years of simmering frustration over a government they see as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of poverty.
  • At the end of a long day of rioting and mass demonstrations Friday, Mubarak fired his Cabinet and promised reforms. But the demonstrators returned in force again Saturday to demand a complete change of regime.
  • As the army presence expanded in Cairo Saturday, police largely disappeared from the streets — possibly because their presence seemed only to fuel protesters' anger. Egyptian police are hated for their brutality.
  • On Friday, 17 police stations throughout Cairo were torched, with protesters stealing firearms and ammunition and freeing some jailed suspects. They also burned dozens of police trucks in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. On Saturday, protesters besieged a police station in the Giza neighborhood of Cairo, looted and pulled down Egyptian flags, then burned the building to the ground.
  • There were no clashes reported between protesters and the military at all, and many in the crowds showered soldiers with affection.
  • Some 200 inmates escaped a jail on the outskirts of the city, starting a fire first to cover their breakout. Eight inmates were killed during the escape.
  • "There is nothing short of Mubarak leaving power that will satisfy the people," Mohamed ElBaradei, the country's leading pro-reform activist told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I think what Mubarak said yesterday was an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptian people."
  • Buildings, statues and even armored security vehicles were covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti, including the words "Mubarak must fall," which by morning had been written over to say "Mubarak fell."
  • The Internet appeared blocked for a third day Sunday, an effort to hamper protesters who use social networking sites to organize. After cell phone service was cut for a day Friday, two of the country's major providers were up and running Saturday.
In Friday night's looting, hundreds of young men had carted away televisions, fans and stereo equipment from the ruling National Democratic Party, near the Egyptian Museum. Others around the city looted banks, smashed cars, tore down street signs and pelted armored riot police vehicles with paving stones torn from roadways.
Source: AP
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian demonstrators mass in central Cairo, with reports suggesting many are preparing to return to the streets
TEL AVIV, Israel - Israel’s prime minister has ordered silence on anti-government protests in neighbouring Egypt but security officials say they worry the violence could threaten ties and spread to the Palestinian Authority.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the two officials said Prime Minister Netanyahu had told all government spokesmen not to comment.
Source: Agency
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Saturday, January 29, 2011

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A man in Brazil locked up his wife in a cellar for 16 long years as he lived upstairs with another woman, it was reported here.
Joao Batista Groppo(right photo) has been arrested on suspicion of keeping his wife locked in the squalid cellar for 16 years, the Daily Mail reported Friday.
  • Sixtyfour-year-old Sebastiana Aparecida Groppo was found by the police in the cellar of the house in the city of Sorocaba in Sao Paulo state Wednesday.
  • The woman was living in pitiable conditions as the fhe floor of the cellar was littered with faeces and dead cockroaches.
  • “She was found without clothes, wrapped up in a blanket,” police official Ana Luiza Salomone was quoted as saying. He said the windows had been shuttered and were covered in mould.
  • Joao Batista told police that he had locked up his wife of 42 years as she was mentally ill and aggressive.
The police said that Joao apparently kept his wife locked up for two periods totalling 16 years, the second period began after 2003 when their son died in an accident. An official said that Sebastiana showed signs of mental problems that could have been caused by her captivity.
Source: Agency
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Friday, January 28, 2011

SANAA, Yemen -- Thousands of Yemenis protested Thursday in mostly peaceful demonstrations calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh(right photo) to step down in 2013.
In Sanaa, the capital, about 10,000 people gathered at the university with another 6,000 involved in other demonstrations, The New York Times reported. Nasser Arabyee, a Yemeni journalist, told the newspaper a demonstration backing the president attracted far fewer people.
  • Like this week's mass protests in Egypt, the Yemeni demonstrations appear to have been inspired by the ones in Tunisia that led to the ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. There were smaller demonstrations earlier in the week in Yemen.
  • Saleh has been in power for nearly 32 years. While most protesters did not demand his immediate removal, they asked that he stand down when his current term ends in two years, the Times said.
  • "We gather today to demand the departure of President Saleh and his corrupt government," said Abdulmalik al-Qasuss, a member of Parliament from the opposition al-Islah Party.
  • Opposition leaders say Yemenis are angry about corruption, a decline in the currency and a recent constitutional amendment that would allow a president to remain in office for life, the Financial Times reported. Anti-government groups also were outraged when a prominent female human rights activist was arrested during the weekend but she has since been released. There were no immediate reports of arrests on Thursday.
  • Some of the protesters carried signs reading, "Elections are illegal and unconstitutional," and "The time has come for change," the Yemen Post reported.
Yemen is, at the moment, critical to the United States because it has become a base for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Yemeni legislator during a visit earlier this month that the United States wants an "inclusive government," the New York Times said.
Source: UPI
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

KAMPALA, Uganda – A Ugandan gay activist whose photo was put on the front page of a newspaper that called for his killing has been brutally beaten to death.
A Ugandan police spokesperson confirmed Thursday that David Kato had been bludgeoned at his home and suffered serious head wounds.
  • Kato had been receiving death threats since Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper in October listed him among 100 gay Ugandans underneath a headline that read "Hang them."
  • Kato and two other activists sued the newspaper and won the case earlier this month. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, and a lawmaker introduced a bill in October 2009 that would impose the death penalty for some homosexual acts. The bill has not come up for a vote.
Source: AP
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

JOHANNESBURG, S. Africa - Flooding in South Africa has killed more than 100 people, saturated farms in the major food producer for the continent and led the government to declare 33 municipalities disaster areas.
The government at the weekend said the death toll in flooding over the past month had more than doubled from its previous estimate of 41, with most of the fatalities coming from the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
  • Thousands of homes have been damaged by floods that have hit the Johannesburg area as well as northern and eastern provinces.
  • Neighbouring Mozambique has also been hard hit, with more than 13,000 people seeing their homes lost or damaged due to high waters.
South African logistics group Transnet said this month that heavy rains had disrupted its freight rail operations, affecting coal and maize exports.
Source: Reuters
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, U.S.A - According to US surcey, Facebook, texting and other social networking tools make new couples to jump into bed faster, reveals a new US survey.
According that third annual sex survey by Shape and Men”s Fitness magazines, nearly four out of five women and three of five men say that digital intimacy leads to having sex faster, reports a foreign news agency.
However, only 38 percent of women said they have actually slept with a date any sooner because of online intimacy.
  • Smart phones and laptops are the new toys that lead to the bedroom, it said, with nearly 80 percent of women and 58 percent of men saying social media tools leads to sex faster. Moreover, texting is the topmost way lovers keep in touch, with men texting 39 percent more often than calling and women 150 percent more.
  • As many as 65 percent of those polled said they had been asked out by text and 49 percent through a Facebook message. And as soon as the relationship clicks, 72 percent of women reported scouring a current partner”s ex-girlfriends” Facebook pages.
  • Even in the heat of passion, some people just can”t get enough of their digital devices, the survey found.
  • When a call or text comes in during sex, five percent of respondents said they glance to see who is calling and one percent said they stop to answer the phone.
  • And when the spark is extinguished, digital dumping is the new way to break up, with 43 percent of women and 27 percent of men reporting getting a text along the lines of “It”s not you, it”s me.”
For the heartbroken, the Internet keeps hope alive, with 81 percent of all respondents saying they won”t de-friend an ex on Facebook and 75 percent admitting to constantly checking a former sweetheart”s page.
Source: Agency
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MOSCOW, Russia - A SUICIDE bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded dozens when he blew himself up in the packed arrivals hall of Moscow's largest airport.
There were scenes of carnage at Domodedovo airport in southern Moscow as corpses were stretchered out of the smoke-filled arrivals area after the blast, the latest deadly attack to hit the capital after the metro bombings in last March.
  • Describing the attack as an act of terror, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev chaired an emergency meeting of top officials and ordered a special security regime across the country's main airports and railway stations.
  • Russia's Western partners strongly condemned the blast, with US President Barack Obama describing the attack as "outrageous" and German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying she was dismayed by the "cowardly" act.
  • Airport spokeswoman Elena Galanova said that the blast had gone off in a freely accessible public area of the airport where passengers meet relatives after passing customs.
  • At least 35 people were killed, she said, a figure confirmed by the investigative committee. At least 130 were wounded, the health ministry said in a statement. It said that of the wounded, 20 were in a serious condition.
  • "All of a sudden I heard a huge bang, as if something had fallen. No-one understood what had happened," Elena, a Lufthansa stewardess, said at the airport. "Everyone was in shock."
  • A Briton and other foreigners were among those killed, the Interfax news agency quoted a security source as saying. However despite the mayhem, the airport carried on working normally with only handful of flights affected, Domodedovo said.
Russian investigators found a head of "Arab appearance" that is presumed to have belonged to the suicide bomber responsible for setting off the blast, Interfax said.
According to preliminary information, the bomber was a resident of the overwhelmingly Muslim Northern Caucasus region, Interfax said.
Source: The Agency
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DUBAI, U.A.E - Dubai has set a new record by opening world’s highest restaurant. A fine dining establishment called Atmosphere has opened on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, at a height of 1,350 feet, reports Fox News.
The eatery is just three feet lower to the ground than the observation deck of the Willis Tower in Chicago, but perhaps more astonishing is that it is not even half way up the 2,717-foot tower, leaving open the possibility that its claim to fame will be short-lived.
The previous record holder was the 360 restaurant in the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, which is situated at a height of 1,151 feet.
Owners of Atmosphere described its food as eclectic European, and the menu has prices to match the restaurant’s lofty perch. A cup of coffee costs 8 dollars.
Source: Agency
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Monday, January 24, 2011

SAO PAULO, Brazil — The death toll from floods and landslides that devastated a mountainous region near Rio de Janeiro has reached 806, state authorities said yesterday, as rescue teams scoured the mud for the hundreds still missing.
More than 20,000 people have also been forced from where they live or made homeless in the area, according to the statement posted on the state government's website.
  • The disaster now ranks as the second-worst recorded in Brazil’s history, according to United Nations data published in the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper on Saturday, eclipsed only by a meningitis outbreak that killed 1,500 people in 1974.
  • Entire hillsides collapsed last week in the Serrana region, about 97 km north of Rio, after the equivalent of a month's rain fell in 24 hours.
  • Avalanches of mud and water ripped through mainly poor communities, tossing cars atop buildings and burying some families alive.
  • At least 207 people were recorded missing earlier this week, suggesting the final death toll could be close to 1,000. Local officials estimated at least 300 were missing.
Fears are now growing about disease. Alexandre Padilha, the health minister(right photo), visited the worst-affected town of Nova Friburgo on Saturday, and state health authorities have warned against coming into contact with contaminated river water.
Landslides and flash floods are common in much of Brazil at this time of year, but the scale of the disaster has prompted renewed concerns that authorities failed to plan or take action to prevent the disaster.
Earlier this week, the Brazilian government vowed to set up a national early warning system that could alert communities to approaching natural dangers.
Source: Reuters
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Line of despair: Donors in Philippines slum with scars from their operations
MANILA, Philippines - They stand in line in the stinking slums, their shirts lifted and arms raised to reveal the 13-inch long scars carved into their sides. Poor, desperate and mutilated - these are the human victims of the profitable trade in kidneys in the Philippines.
For a cash payment of £1,000 - a fantastic amount in a country where 15million people earn a dollar a day - each of these "volunteers" has donated an organ to a wealthy foreigner.

  • According to Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reporting from the town of Lopez, in impoverished communities in the Philippines, many are involved in an illegal million-dollar industry - selling their own organs on the black market.
  • Most of these organs are sold to foreigners, which prompted the government to ban transplants on anyone other than Filipinos in 2008. But implementation of the law has been lax.
  • Now the government is considering lifting the ban, as a shortage of kidneys in the country is forcing a re-think of the ban for non-relatives.
Source: Marga Ortigas, Al Jazeera
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

LONDON, U.K - The social networking website Facebook is being blamed for a growing number of divorces in Britain as married partners are caught cheating online. A lawyer said how every divorce she had dealt with in the past nine months had involved the social networking website, according to The Sun.
  • Nowadays, even flirty messages and photos of new lovers after a split are being used by former spouses as "ammunition" in divorce proceedings.
  • Lawyers are advising couples to stop using Facebook and sites such as Second Life, Illicit Encounters and Friends Reunited until legal proceedings are finalised.
  • Emma Patel, of Hart Scales and Hodges Solicitors, in Surrey, has dealt with 30 divorces since May, and all involved Facebook.
  • She said: "Suspicious spouses have used it to spy and find evidence of flirting and even affairs, which have then led to break-ups.We advise feuding couples to avoid these sites until their divorces are settled."
  • And she warned against "public slagging matches" on the site.
Source: IANS
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