Monday, April 30, 2012

KANO, Nigeria - Attackers armed with bombs and guns opened fire at outdoor church services at a Nigerian university yesterday, killing around 20 people as worshippers tried to flee, witnesses and officials said.
A powerful explosion and gunfire rocked Bayero University in the northern city of Kano, with witnesses reporting that two church services were targeted as they were being held outdoors on the campus.
An AFP correspondent counted six bullet-riddled bodies near one of the two sites. At least another dozen bodies could be seen on a roadside by the university. Musical instruments and half-eaten meals could be seen at the site of one of the services.
  • An army spokesman confirmed the attack but could not provide a casualty toll. Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi said it appeared the attackers used bombs and gunfire in the assault.
Witnesses said the attackers arrived in a car and two motorcycles, opening fire and throwing homemade bombs, causing a stampede. They said worshippers were gunned down as they sought to flee.
"They first attacked the open-air service outside the faculty of medicine," one witness said. "They threw in explosives and fired shots, causing a stampede among worshippers. They now pursued them, shooting them with guns. They also attacked another service at the sporting complex."
Source: Agency
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Monday, April 30, 2012
LONDON, U.K. - The Co-Operative Group, a British supermarket chain, is extending a boycott of goods from illegal Israeli settlements and will now shun any supplier known to source from these areas, a statement has said.
"Following an audit of the Group's supply chain, it will no longer do business with four companies, accounting for £350,000 ($560,000) worth of sales, as there is evidence that they source from the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories," the statement said.
  • The UK's fifth-largest food retailer has not bought goods from the settlements since 2009, it said, but does trade with about 20 Israeli businesses that do not source from the settlements.
  • "The Group will also continue to actively work to increase trade links with Palestinian businesses in the occupied territories," it added.
The UN Human Rights Council in March passed a resolution ordering a first investigation into how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.
Israel approved another three settlements in the occupied West Bank on Monday, a move that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said left him "deeply troubled".
The three outposts will now join some 120 settlements dotted across the territory that are home to more than 342,000 people.
Source: Agency
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Sunday, April 29, 2012
More than 4 out of 10 Americans, 127 million people, live in counties with dangerous levels of either ozone or particle pollution, the American Lung Association (ALA) said. The result: increased incidents of all sorts of health problems, especially asthma, bronchitis and cardiovascular disease.
The ALA report ranked cities by particle pollution, both short-term and year-round, as well as by ozone levels.
Many of the cities with the dirtiest air are located in the sunny valleys and basins of the West, where pollutants can stagnate and cook into photochemical smogs.

10 reported polluted cities in USA are as follows;

1. Bakersfield, Californea.
Population: 839,631
Cardiovascular cases: 173,566
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 3

Bakersfield sits in a bowl surrounded on three sides by the Sierras and the California coastal ranges. Air drifts down the valley from other cities and lingers, allowing pollutants to build up, according to Jaime Holt, chief communications officer for the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality District. Making matters worse, the sun bakes the air, causing photochemical smog. And the dry weather adds dust particles to the mix.
But there have been efforts to clean up Bakersfield's act. Regulations governing emissions from surrounding oil and gas producers that took effect in 2003 have helped to significantly reduce pollution in the area, said Holt.
Area farmers have also changed many of their practices. They now refrain from cultivating when the ground is too dry, for example, in order to reduce dust. And regulations limiting residential use of fireplaces and wood stoves have also helped.
"We have some crystal clear days here now, where you can see snow in the Sierras," said Holt. "But then they can go away for weeks at a time."

2. Hanford, Californea.
Population: 152,982
Cardiovascular cases: 31,019
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 5

This small metro area should boast azure skies but, too often, the polluted air from Fresno, its neighbor to the North, drifts in, said Jaime Holt, chief communications officer for the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality District.
It doesn't help that many of the local residents are also driving older cars that often produce much higher levels of the components that create smog.
One solution to that problem is a recently instituted smog check program called "Tune in, Tune up" run by the Air Quality District.
The state agency sets up in a big empty parking lot and gives free smog tests. "The cars that can't pass get a $500 voucher for a major tune up," said Holt.

3. Los Angeles, Californea
Population: 17,877,006
Cardiovascular cases: 4,109,426
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 1

One of Los Angeles' biggest pollution problems is its ports.
"Forty-three percent of all the imports in the country come through here," said Sam Atwood, spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. "Once the cargo comes in, it gets put on a truck, moved to warehouses and taken to trains. Almost everything is powered by diesel."
There have been several efforts made to cut back on this diesel-related pollution. One is the voluntary slowing of ships as they come into port, starting from about 24 nautical miles out. By doing so, the ships burn less fuel and produce lower emissions.

4. Visalia, Californea.
Population: 442,179
Cardiovascular cases: 89,570
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 2

Lying just south of Fresno, the skies of this small city bear the brunt of some of the pollution produced by its larger neighbor.
But Visalia can't blame it all on Fresno. Agricultural lands surrounding the town depend heavily on irrigation and many of the pumps bringing water to dry farmlands burn diesel, which produces both particle pollution and ozone.
"Over the past few years, most of those diesel pumps have been switched over to electricity," said Holt of the Valley's Air Quality District.
Air quality has also improved, she said, because the agency has used federal and state grants to pay residents to replace wood-burning stoves and fireplaces with gas or electricity.

5. Fresno, Californea.
Population: 1,081,315
Cardiovascular cases: 231,750
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 4

Fresno is the biggest city in California's San Joaquin Valley and produces a lot of the surrounding area's air pollution.
The biggest culprit: traffic. A busy Interstate runs the length of the Central Valley and provides a steady stream of cars and trucks. Much of the smog drifts South to cities like Visalia and Hanford, but there is also a phenomenon known as the "Fresno Eddy," said Jaime Holt, chief communications officer for the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality District.
"It's kind of a whirlpool that pushes back some of the pollution back into Fresno air space," she said.
There's also few public transportation options so most everyone drives. And with a sky-high unemployment rate -- 17.3% in February -- many of the passenger cars are old.

6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Population: 2,447,393
Cardiovascular cases: 702,228
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 20

It's been decades since Pittsburgh's nickname, Smoky, was appropriate. As big steel exited the city's industrial landscape, the pollutants belching forth from the city's coke ovens and blast furnaces have almost all disappeared.
Nowadays, the economy is driven by the service and tech industries. Yet, it still remains a major transportation hub and diesel engines power much of the truck, train and boat traffic that moves through the area.
As a result, harmful emissions are a particular problem. The city has a high rate of lung diseases, especially emphysema with nearly 43,000 cases and cardiovascular disease with more than 700,000 cases, according to the American Lung Association.

7. Phoenix, Arizona
Population: 4,192,887
Cardiovascular cases: 981,249
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 19

Phoenix's intense sunlight can cook emissions into a smog soup. But efforts to cut tailpipe emissions have helped cut back ozone levels in the city considerably.
"We've had a long-term vehicle emissions inspection policy for about 25 years," said Mark Shaffer, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
But nothing can help the area deal with its never-ending supply of dust -- a factor that helps put Phoenix in sixth place for year-round particle pollution.

8. Cincinnati, Ohio
Population: 2,172,191
Cardiovascular cases: 534,359
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 21

The Southern Ohio city has been stepping up its efforts to improve air quality over the past few years by launching several different programs, according to Megan Hummel, a spokeswoman for the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency.
It has retrofitted hundreds of old diesel engine school buses and replaced dozens more to reduce harmful emissions.

9. Louisville, kentucky
Population: 1,427,483
Cardiovascular cases: 358,161
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: Not in top 25

Like many cities with air pollution problems, Louisville sits in a valley where air can stagnate in the summer heat.
"In the 1970s our air was pretty bad," said Thomas Nord, spokesman for the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District.
Through stricter regulations governing auto emissions, the city has managed to cut its ozone levels by about 15% since 1999.

10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Population: 6,533,683
Cardiovascular cases: 1,660,434
Rank in most ozone-polluted cities: 16

The City of Brotherly Love was once an industrial powerhouse, with heavy industries like steel, manufacturing, textiles and machinery.
Many of the factories are gone now and Philadelphia has much more of a service economy now. The industries that remain are subject to much stricter controls, according to Linda Rebarchak, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Over the past few years, for example, continuous air monitors have been installed over many of the city's smokestacks to measure emissions. The monitors have helped to alert officials and factory managers to any problems in the systems, she said.

Source: Real Estate
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Police fire tear gas after protestors breach the barricade at Dataran Merdeka.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Police have fired tear gas cannisters and water cannons at demonstrators who pushed through a barricade in front of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) leading to Dataran Merdeka, resulting in chaos on the streets.
Part of the 15,000-strong crowd led by PKR deputy president Azmin Ali earlier broke down a police-erected barrier and headed towards the historic square, prompting authorities to fire chemical-laced water and tear gas canisters.
Police fired as far as the DBKL building across from Jalan Parlimen, and managed to break up the crowd at Dataran who fled helter-skelter to avoid the barrage. Some appear to have been arrested.
Police are now headed down Jalan Tun Perak and firing tear gas at another group at Masjid Jamek.
  • Orders are being given for riot police to continue shooting water cannon and tear gas at the dispersing crowd.
  • Observers from law activists LoyarBurok said: “Tear gas was fired without warning deep and direct into the crowd.”
  • The crowd near Lebuh Pasar Besar have now pushed down the barricade, but around 30 riot officers armed with batons, shields and gas masks block their path to Dataran Merdeka.
  • Riot police then fired water cannons and tear gas at them after they refused to heed orders to disperse.
Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and other opposition leaders including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were earlier blocked by four police trucks near the Sogo shopping complex.
But the trucks have since turned around for Dataran Merdeka, and the group has since resumed down Jalan Raja Laut toward the historic square.
Part of the 15,000-strong crowd led by PKR deputy president Azmin Ali earlier broke down a police-erected barrier and headed towards the historic square, prompting authorities to fire chemical-laced water and tear gas canisters.

Source: Agency
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tens of thousands of students in the Canadian province of Quebec have been protesting against a government move to raise higher education costs by 50 per cent for three months.
The students have sustained class boycotts, demonstrations and occasional angry confrontations with police for months.
  • Jean Charest, Quebec's premier, offered on Friday to stretch out the planned tuition hike over seven years instead of five in a bid to appease the students.
  • The proposal would see students pay $255 extra per year instead of the $325 under his previous proposal, but the total would rise from $1,625 to $1,785.
  • "We are going to substantially increase the financing of our universities and we're going to support our students," Charest said, urging them to return to classes.

Source: Al Jazeera
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Friday, April 27, 2012

NEW DELHI, India - Nearly 30 million school children in the country still have no access to toilets, even as schools have made significant progress in providing the facility in recent years, a study by Unicef's Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (Wash) programme revealed Wednesday.
Most schools are also found wanting in teaching of hygiene and life skills.
According to the paper released by Wash, though the proportion of schools having toilets has increased from 50 per cent to nearly 75 per cent in last five years, only 60 per cent of schools have girls' toilets, a factor which has been noticed to be a major deterrent in girls attending schools.
  • Also where the toilets are available, only one or two are usable.
  • "About 30 million children across India do not have access to toilet facilities," the paper said.
  • "More than 90 per cent schools have drinking water facility, but only 80 per cent are functional. The majority of school curriculum lack focus on hygiene and life skill education," it further said.
The figures reveal that a total 6.5 million children have no drinking water facility. The Right to Education Act (RTE) requires all schools to have separate toilets for boys and girls and adequate safe drinking water facility.
The Supreme Court had also given a ruling in December 2011, stating that all schools must provide toilet facilities, and denial of basic right to water and toilet "clearly violates the right to free and compulsory education".
Source: Agency
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

LONDON, U.U. - Thousands of hospital patients still face the indignity of having to share bathrooms and showers with the opposite sex.
Although the Government is trying to abolish mixed-sex wards, NHS trusts are routinely making men and women use the same communal washing areas.
A survey of more than 60,000 patients by the Care Quality Commission found that 15 per cent had been made to share mixed-sex bathrooms and showers.
  • Campaigners say it is unacceptable that patients should be forced to undergo the humiliation of sharing facilities with the opposite sex while dressed in only nightclothes.
  • The Government has repeatedly pledged to end the scandal of mixed-sex wards and last year began fining hospitals £250 every time patients were made to share accommodation.
The survey suggests that while many trusts have succeeded in abolishing mixed-sex wards, thousands of patients are still sharing bathrooms and toilets.
Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: "It's not satisfactory at all. There's no other walk of life where patients have to share toilets and bathrooms with the opposite sex.
Source: Daily Mail, Agency
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — A senior North Korean army official says his country is armed with "powerful mobile weapons" capable of striking America.
Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho emphasized the importance of defending the North against the U.S. and South Korea as Pyongyang marked the 80th anniversary of the nation's army Wednesday.
He told officials at the April 25 House of Culture that the weapons could defeat the U.S. "at a single blow."
  • North Korea made another unusual claim Monday, promising "special actions" that would reduce Seoul's government to ashes.
  • North Korea is believed to have nuclear weapons but not the technology to put them on long-range missiles. A rocket launch that the U.S. claimed was a North Korean attempt to test missile technology failed this month.
Source: AP
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Several non-governmental organisations have urged parliamentarians to propose a law that allows impeachment of leaders.
A delegation of eight men representing five NGOs led by the Selangor Anti-Irregularities Federation (GAPS) met Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Abu Zahar Nika Ujang and submitted a memorandum demanding the resignation of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday.
Gaps president Hamidzun Khairuddin said after meeting the senate president yesterday that Anwar, who is also Permatang Pauh MP, had been involved in several scandals and was not fit to be a leader.
  • Hamidzun added that the Opposition Leader had been involved in two sodomy trials and there was also a video circulating on the Internet implicating Anwar.
  • Although he agreed with Hamidzun's interpretation of the court judgment, Abu Zahar said currently there was no legal provision to impeach leaders.
  • “As of now, there is no provision to impeach a leader. But if there are weaknesses in our laws, then it is up to the MPs and senators to moot a bill to rectify the weakness. After all, Parliament is the place to make a change for the benefit of the people,” said Abu Zahar.
  • “As a lawyer myself, I agree that if a person is acquitted by the court, it does not mean he is not guilty.
  • “He is released because the prosecution could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt,” he said.
Hamidzun said GAPS would meet several MPs and senators to seek their support in proposing a law to impeach leaders.
Other NGOs represented by the eight-man delegation were Selangor Youth Council, Waris Malaya, Warisan Anak Merdeka, Belia Warisan Tanjung Keramat and Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor.
Source: The Star
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TEL AVIV, Israel - In surprise move, Egypt pulls out of unpopular gas export deal with Israel citing economic reasons; Knesset opposition leader says move calls for 'immediate American response'; Israeli PM says Israel survives without Egyptian gas.
Egypt has unilaterally terminated its natural gas export contract with Israel, a shareholder in the export operating company, East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), said Sunday night.
  • EMG told Ampal-American Israel Corporation, which owns a 12.5 per cent stake in EMG, that Egypt was ending the Gas Supply and Purchase Agreement between the two parties.
  • “Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation [EGPC] and the [state-run] Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company [EGAS] notified EMG that they were terminating the Gas Supply and Purchase Agreement between the parties,” the Ampal statement read.
  • The company added that "EMG considers the termination attempt unlawful and in bad faith, and consequently demanded its withdrawal," noting that EMG, Ampal and EMG's other shareholders were "considering their options and legal remedies as well as approaching the various governments."
  • In initial reactions by Israeli government officials to Egypt's decision,Yoval Steinitz, the Israeli minister of finance, expressed deep concern towards Cairo's unilateral decision.
  • Steinitz told Radio Israel that the decision carries serious political and economic implications for the Camp David peace accords.
  • Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman went as far as to suggest bolstering Israel's military presence along the Sinai border. "The Egyptian case is much more worrisome than the Iranian one," Ma'ariv daily quoted him as saying on Sunday.
  • But Mohamed Shoeib, the CEO of EGAS, told Egyptian satellite CBC news on Sunday evening that "the decision we took was economic and not politically motivated. We cancelled the gas agreement with Israel because they have failed to meet payment deadlines in recent months"
The 20-year natural gas deal signed between Israel and Egypt in 2005 has been a pillar of Egyptian-Israeli economic cooperation following the historic 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.
Over the course of the last decade, Egypt has become a key natural gas producer, developing gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. It began exporting liquid natural gas (LNG) in early 2005 to Israel as well as Jordan and Spain.
Source: Agency
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CANBERRA - Australia's parliamentary speaker temporarily stepped down yesterday amid allegations of sexual harassment and fraud, touching off a political crisis that threatens Prime Minister Julia Gillard's tenuous grip on power.
House of Representatives Speaker Peter Slipper announced yesterday that he will be temporarily replaced by his deputy Anna Burke, a Labor Party government lawmaker, while police investigate allegations he misused taxi payment vouchers.
According to parliamentary regulations, the move effectively costs Gillard's government its single-seat majority.
While the centre-left government will face greater difficulty in passing contentious legislation through the House of Representatives, the conservative opposition is still short of the 76 votes it needs in the 150-seat chamber to bring down the government.
  • Gillard, who has struggled to maintain her minority government since elections in 2010, welcomed the move.
  • "It is appropriate that [Mr] Slipper has stood aside as speaker whilst alleged criminal conduct is investigated," she said in a statement.
  • An openly gay male former staff member James Ashby, 33, made the fraud allegations and he is also suing Slipper in the Federal Court claiming sexual harassment. Slipper denies all the allegations.
  • Defection
  • Slipper, 62, who is married with two adult children from a previous relationship, defected from the opposition in November last year to take the speaker's job in a move that effectively gave Gillard's minority government an additional vote — 76 in the chamber.
An independent lawmaker has since withdrawn his support for Labor, leaving Gillard with command of exactly half the chamber.
Since a speaker can only vote to break a draw, Burke will effectively be barred from most votes. The rules state that Slipper cannot vote at all while he stands aside.
But the absence of Slipper's vote creates the possibility of a 74-vote tie, in which the speaker's casting vote would come into play for the government.
Source: Agency
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Monday, April 23, 2012

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan barred the head of the private airline whose jet crashed near Islamabad from leaving the country yesterday as it began a probe into the disaster that sparked anger among distraught relatives.
Farooq Bhoja's name was put on the Interior Ministry's "exit control list," following an investigation ordered by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. "The owner of the airline has been put on the exit control list and he will not be allowed to leave the country without the permission of the government," said Interior Minister Rahman Malek.
  • The Bhoja Air flight from Karachi came down in fields near a village on the outskirts of the capital on Friday evening, killing all 127 people on board, in the country's second major fatal air crash in less than two years.
  • A judicial commission will be set up to probe the passenger plane crash, Gilani said Saturday.
  • Gilani made the announcement while talking to reporters at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).
  • Head of the Investigation Team Group Captain (Retd) Mujahidul Islam said that according to preliminary reports‚ the ill-fated Bhoja Air plane had caught fire before it crashed.
  • Speaking separately to media representatives, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director general Nadeem Yousufzai said the black box had been sent to concerned authorities and its examination might take a month.
  • He added that an Airblue flight landed at Islamabad airport around five minutes after the crash and it was "right behind the Bhoja plane". The visibility was also 4km, the CAA chief said.
The Bhoja Air plane was nearly three decades old, officials said, but had been approved to fly by aviation authorities.
A Bhoja Air official insisted that despite its age, the plane was safe to fly.
According to Bhoja Air official Masham Zafar, the aircraft was old and second-hand but it is not something unusual. The fleet of state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) also runs old aircraft.
Source: AFP.
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cocaine and several bottles of whiskey apparently fueled the elite agents’ boneheaded fling with about 20 hookers at a posh hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, a hotel staffer told The Post.
The employee responded to the trashed room with police and other Hotel El Caribe workers when one prostitute raised hell after a Secret Service member initially refused to pay her.
  • He painted a picture of morning-after mayhem in the lobby — just two days before President Obama landed in the country for an international summit.
  • “The prostitute was screaming in the lobby that he didn’t pay her,” the early-morning shift worker recalled. “She looked like she had a few drinks in her. She just wanted what was promised to her.
  • The prostitution scandal involving the US Secret Service has grown in scope. It was disclosured that the agents and military personnel had been with at least 20 women in hotel rooms before President Barack Obama arrived in Colombia for a summit with Latin American leaders.
On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would "clean house" at the agency in the wake of the incident, which had become a growing election-year embarrassment for the White House.
Romney, however, said he remained confident in Secret Service director Mark Sullivan, echoing other statements of support for the agency chief from the White House and Capitol Hill.
Source: Agency, AP
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