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Fish

Pakistani Man Fights Police Over 40-Foot Shark

Image
© The Associated Press
People look at a carcass of whale shark in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012.
Qasim Khan waged the unlikeliest of battles with Pakistani authorities Thursday over the right to charge hundreds of curious visitors the equivalent of 22 cents each to see a roughly 40-foot whale shark he bought from a fisherman.

Khan is in the business of buying fish, albeit usually much smaller ones, and jumped at the chance on Tuesday to pay about $2,200 for the 20-ton behemoth, which was discovered dead in the Arabian Sea off the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.

Business was brisk Wednesday, as several thousand people paid to see the brown and white-spotted shark, which Khan set up under a cloth tent next to the harbor. People crowded around to put their hands on the massive fish, and families snapped their picture with it - ignoring the pungent smell as it began to rot.

But police cracked down Thursday, saying fishery authorities had decided people should be allowed to see the shark for free. Khan resisted and hid his prize attraction under the giant piece of green cloth he had previously used as a tent.

Padlock

Famous Spain Judge Convicted of Misusing Authority

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© The Associated Press/Paul White
Judge Baltasar Garzon arrives for the last day of his trial at the Supreme Court in Madrid Wednesday Feb. 8, 2012.
The superstar Spanish judge who won global fame for aggressively taking on international human rights cases was convicted Thursday of overstepping his jurisdiction in a domestic corruption probe and barred from the bench for 11 years, marking a spectacular fall from grace for one of the nation's most prominent citizens.

Baltasar Garzon was unanimously convicted by a seven-judge panel of the Supreme Court. Because he is 56, the punishment could end his Spanish judicial career. Hours after the verdict, hundreds of Garzon supporters braved freezing weather in Madrid's central Sol plaza shouting "Shame! Shame!" in protest.

It was just one of three cases pending against Garzon, who is still awaiting a verdict in trial on the same charge - knowingly overstepping the bounds of his jurisdiction - for launching a probe in 2008 of right-wing atrocities committed during and after the Spanish civil war of 1936-1939 even though the crimes were covered by a 1977 amnesty.

In Thursday's verdict, the court ruled that Garzon acted arbitrarily in ordering jailhouse wiretaps of detainees talking to their lawyers, the court said, adding that his actions "these days are only found in totalitarian regimes."

Ironically, Garzon is best known for indicting a totalitarian ruler, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, in 1998, and trying to put him on trial in Madrid for crimes against humanity. He also indicted Osama bin Laden in 2003 over the Sept. 11 attacks.

Nuke

US: NRC Approves First New Nuclear Plant in 3 Decades

Image
© The Associated Press/Mary Ann Chastain
Steam rises at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga. On Thursday, the NRC approved a request to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle.
The nation's first new nuclear power plant in a generation won approval Thursday as federal regulators voted to grant a license for two new reactors in Georgia.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 to approve Atlanta-based Southern Co.'s request to build two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle site south of Augusta.

The vote clears the way for officials to issue an operating license for the reactors, which could begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.

The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko voted against the Vogtle license, saying he wanted a binding commitment from the company that it would make safety changes prompted by the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.

Heart - Black

Sick! US: Dad makes boy, 4, run nearly nude in snow

A father's harsh parenting has aroused wide controversy after a video was circulated online showing his nearly-nude four-year-old son running in snow.


The boy, Duo Duo, was running with only a pair of pants and trainers to combat the morning temperature of minus 13 degrees Celsius in New York, where the family from the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing spent their Spring Festival holiday.

The 44-year-old entrepreneur trained his son to run in the freezing weather for five minutes and do push-ups despite the boy's trembling and cries for a hug.

He uploaded the training footage online and dubbed it the "eagle dad" parenting approach, the Yangtze Evening News reported yesterday.

Bad Guys

US: $26B bank foreclosure fraud settlement to be announced

mortgage protest
© Richard A. Lipski / Washington Post
Last year, some mortgage lenders and government officials took action after discovering that many mortgage documents were mishandled.
State and federal officials on Thursday will announce a landmark settlement with five of the nation's banks over their flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices.

The $26 billion deal, which officially will be unveiled at a 10 a.m. Department of Justice news conference, aims to help troubled borrowers by reducing the amount they owe on their mortgages, lowering their interest rates and paying restitution to homeowners who suffered mortgage-related abuses.

Long-running negotiations over the settlement received a major boost Wednesday when California ­Attorney General Kamala Harris agreed to back the effort after withdrawing her support last fall, according to three people with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized.

Airplane

Air Canada Headed for Threat of Labour Disruption as Pilots Start Strike Vote

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© unknown
Air Canada headed closer to another possible labour disruption Thursday after its pilots began a strike vote in response to what they said was a "rigid" company position that appeared aimed at escalating their contract dispute.

A strike mandate after the schedule five days of voting would put the airline's 3,000 pilots in a legal strike position early on Feb. 17, or 72 hours after the end of a legally manadatory cooling off period.

The strike vote doesn't mean the pilots will actually initiate a labour stoppage, but it gives the union the ability to respond to any unilateral moves by the company.

"The corporation has tabled a position that asks for more concessions and threatens our entire careers through scope changes that would ship much of our flying outside Air Canada, possibly offshore," Captain Gary Tarves, chairman of the Air Canada Pilots Association, said in a memo to pilots.

Tarves said the airline's "rigid position" raises "the possibility that it simply seeks to run out the legislated time clock and lead us toward an escalation."

Pistol

US: Facebook unfriending leads to 2 Tennessee shooting deaths

Father upset after couple deletes daughter, charged in double-homicide
Image
© Unknown
Marvin Potter (right) Jamie Curd (left)

Mountain City - A father who was upset after a Tennessee couple deleted his adult daughter as a friend on Facebook has been charged in the shooting deaths of the couple, authorities said Wednesday.

The victims had complained to police that Marvin Potter's daughter was harassing them after they deleted her as a friend on the social networking site, Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said Wednesday.

Potter, 60, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in last week's slayings of Billy Payne Jr. and his girlfriend, Billie Jean Hayworth. The couple was shot to death in their Mountain City home in the far northeast corner of the state. Their 8-month-old baby was found unharmed in Hayworth's arms.

"It's a senseless thing," the sheriff said.

USA

US: Marines posed with flag resembling Nazi SS logo in Afghanistan

San Diego - The U.S. Marine Corps confirmed Thursday that a sniper team in Afghanistan posed for a photograph in front of a flag with a logo resembling that of the notorious Nazi SS.
Image
© Unknown
Scout snipers in the Marine Corps shown with a flag bearing an "SS" similar in design to one used in Germany by the SS, a paramlitary force that operated under the Nazi party.

Use of the SS symbol is not acceptable, and the Marine Corps has addressed the issue, Lt. Col. Stewart Upton said in a statement. He did not specify what action was taken.

Upton said the Marines in the photograph, posted on an Internet blog, are no longer with the unit. The picture was taken in September 2010 in Sangin province, Afghanistan.

The photo shows a flag with what appear to be the letters "SS" in the shape of jagged lightning bolts. The symbol resembles that used by SS units in World War II.

Comment: Are Marines making a point to show how the U.S. Empire is looking globally?


Boat

Why Is Global Shipping Slowing Down So Dramatically?

loading ship @ dock
© n/a
If the global economy is not heading for a recession, then why is global shipping slowing down so dramatically? Many economists believe that measures of global shipping such as the Baltic Dry Index are leading economic indicators. In other words, they change before the overall economic picture changes. For example, back in early 2008 the Baltic Dry Index began falling dramatically. There were those that warned that such a rapid decline in the Baltic Dry Index meant that a significant recession was coming, and it turned out that they were right. Well, the Baltic Dry Index is falling very rapidly once again. In fact, on February 3rd the Baltic Dry Index reached a low that had not been seen since August 1986. Some economists say that there are unique reasons for this (there are too many ships, etc.), but when you add this to all of the other indicators that Europe is heading into a recession, a very frightening picture emerges. We appear to be staring a global economic slowdown right in the face, and we all need to start getting prepared for that.

If you don't read about economics much, you might not know what the Baltic Dry Index actually is.

Investopedia defines the Baltic Dry Index this way....
A shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange that measures changes in the cost to transport raw materials such as metals, grains and fossil fuels by sea.
When the global economy is booming, the demand for shipping tends to go up. When the global economy is slowing down, the demand for shipping tends to decline.

And right now, global shipping is slowing way, way down.

Comment: The reader may be interested in reading The Baltic Dry Index Panic.


Mail

US: Postal Service posts $3.3 billion loss

Image
© United States Postal Service (USPS)
The United States Postal Service stamp showing the face of Liberty from the New York NY Casino in Vegas.
The U.S. Postal Service reported quarterly losses of $3.3 billion, and says that at the rate it's going, it will run out of money by October.

The agency was hurt by declining mail volume and mounting costs for future retiree health benefits.

From October through December of 2011, losses were $3 billion more than during the same period in 2010 - even though the final quarter is typically the strongest, due to increased holiday shipping.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is warning of a possible suspension in postal operations this fall unless Congress acts to address long-term money problems.

He wants new leeway to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, raise stamp prices and reduce health and other labor costs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comment: A reflection of the United States economy? Or, US: Surprised? Twisted government accounting behind Postal Service woes