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UK: Government charters Bahrain flights

© Unknown
he Government is to charter planes to evacuate British citizens who want to flee the deteriorating situation in Bahrain.

The Foreign Office has urged people to leave the stricken Gulf State on commercial flights on Thursday.

Those who cannot get a ticket will be evacuated on an FCO-chartered flight costing £260.

The advice comes as running battles were once again fought on Bahraini streets. Soldiers and riot police used tear gas and armoured vehicles to clear protesters from Pearl Square, which has been the focus of demonstrations in capital Manama.

Prime Minister David Cameron has called on the King of Bahrain to end the violent suppression of street protests. He spoke by phone to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on and called for restraint from all sides in the escalating stand-off.

King Hamad has declared a state of emergency in the island kingdom after a month of demonstrations in which representatives of Bahrain's Shi'ite majority have called for the end of rule by its Sunni monarchy.

Bizarro Earth

Twin Threats of Japan and Gulf Stalk Global Recovery

As catastrophe at home prompts Japan to repatriate chunks of its vast wealth, it is pulling the rug from under stock and bond markets thousands of miles away.

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The twin crises of Japan and the Gulf come as fiscal tightening in the West and credit tightening in China start to bite.
We are discovering once again that the country is the world's top creditor by far with nearly £2 trillion of net assets overseas.

The risk is doubly dangerous when combined with the fast-escalating conflict in the Persian Gulf, where Saudi Arabia's use of troops to suppress Shi'ite dissent in Bahrain risks a showdown with Iran.

"People had thought global recovery was self-sustaining and now equity markets are starting to ask whether it might be snuffed out," said David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC.

The twin crises come as fiscal tightening in the West and credit tightening in China start to bite. US economists such as Larry Summers and Paul Krugman fear recovery has not yet reached "escape velocity", leaving it vulnerable to external shocks.

"I am afraid we are near tipping point on global recovery," said Simon Derrick from BNY Mellon. "The fact has oil has not risen despite the latest events in the Mid-East tells you a lot about growth in the second half of this year. All the inflation talk may fade away as in 2008."


Get out of Tokyo: Foreign Office Tells all Britons to Leave Toxic Radiation Zone as Japanese 'Lose Control' of Stricken Reactor

  • 17,000 British nationals could be evacuated as last ditch efforts are made to stop nuclear catastrophe
  • Rich scramble to book private jets out the country as fleeing passengers pack Tokyo airport
  • French say Japanese have 'visibly lost essential control' as they urge their citizens to get out
Plans are being drawn up to evacuate every British national in Japan amid mounting fears of a nuclear catastrophe. Thousands of Britons were last night warned to leave Tokyo and all other areas under threat of radiation poisoning.

The advice - echoed by other countries around the world - followed a meeting of the Cabinet's emergency Cobra committee to discuss the meltdown-threatened Fukushima nuclear plant.

It heightened suspicions that the crisis at the plant - already ranked the second-worst nuclear disaster after Chernobyl - is worse than the Japanese authorities have publicly let on. Yesterday 'last-ditch' efforts were continuing at Fukushima to prevent a catastrophe with a Japanese army helicopter dumping water onto troubled nuclear reactor.
© Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Leaving: Worried residents wait to enter the Immigration Bureau of Japan in Tokyo yesterday as they evacuate the city in the wake of the earth quake and nuclear meltdown that has caused concern around the world

© Masatoshi Okauchi / Rex Features
Chaos: Passengers crowd Mar Haneda International Airport outside Tokyo as foreigners scramble to flee the country amid radiation fears


Canada: Experts Hope Japan Quake is 'Eyeopener' of Risks to British Columbians

Vancouver, British Columbia
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Vancouver, British Columbia
While nearly half a million British Columbians ducked, covered and held on tight during a province-wide earthquake drill in late January, the other 90 per cent of the population sailed on with their day as usual.

After last week's destructive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, authorities hope the gravity of being prepared for a potential natural disaster on the West Coast hits closer to home.

"We're no different if we were to have an 8.9-magnitude, megathrust subduction-type earthquake here," said Heather Lyle, director of integrated public safety for Emergency Management B.C. "We too would suffer significant impact. I'm quite certain this is an eyeopener."

Were the so-called Big One to land a one-two punch starting about 250 kilometres off Vancouver Island shores, Victoria and about 75 coastal and First Nations communities would be the most vulnerable.

From the moment they felt the earth expel its great rumble, people living in places like Ucluelet, a tourist town along the Island's outer coast, would likely have only about 20 to 30 minutes to escape to higher grounds.

In the popular surfing destination of Tofino, about an hour's drive north, the urgency wouldn't change, but getting to safety would be hampered by long stretches of low-lying beach.

Alarm Clock

Elderly Woman Threatens Castration

© Getty Images
Former Planned Parenthood volunteer takes proposal to cut funds personally.

A threat an elderly Guilford is accused of making over Planned Parenthood funding doesn't quite jibe with recent efforts to be more civil in political discourse.

The woman is accused of threatening to castrate a politician who wants to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, the New Haven Register reports.

The FBI went to the woman's home on Norton Road on Tuesday afternoon, after receiving a report of the phone call threat.

The woman is in her 80s and used to volunteer for Planned Parenthood, police told the newspaper. It's unclear which politician she threatened.


Yen Hits Record High After U.S. Warning on Reactor

Hong King - The Japanese stock market sank again Thursday morning and the yen hit a record high against the U.S. dollar after a U.S. nuclear official warned that the situation at a damaged reactor was more serious than Tokyo has acknowledged.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 2.5 percent within an hour of the open, wiping out much of a rebound staged during the previous day and returning toward the lows plumbed during a massive, panicky sell-off on Tuesday.

The broader Topix index sagged 3.2 percent.

The latest declines came as the barrage of ominous news about the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station continued.

Late on Wednesday in Congressional testimony, Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, gave the Obama's administration first assessment of the condition of the plant, apparently mixing information it has received from Japan with data it has collected independently.


15 Nuclear Reactors on New Madrid Fault Line

New Madrid Nuclear
© US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Bob Nations, Jr., the Director of Shelby County Office of Preparedness, says that since the lack of preparation exposed by Hurricane Katrina, he is "preparing for the catastrophic event" in his six-county jurisdiction.

Nations admitted that after a major quake, Tennessee's infrastructure and response capabilities "would get overwhelmed fairly quickly."

There are 15 nuclear power plants in the New Madrid fault zone -- three reactors in Alabama -- that are of the same or similar design as the site in Japan experiencing problems.

The USGS report predicts that a major quake would create horrific scenes like something out of a science fiction movie, potentially cutting the Eastern part of the country off from the West in terms of vehicular traffic and road commerce.

Star of David

Israel fears sushi shortage after quake

© Unknown
Kikkoman. Can be found in one-third of Israeli households
Situation in Japan may affect regular supply of ingredients for one of Israelis' favorite dishes

While Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of last Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami, and has yet to recover from one of the greatest disasters in its history, Israelis fear a shortage in the ingredients of one of their favorite dishes: Sushi.

Many of sushi's basic components come from Japan or are imported through the battered countries. Will Israelis soon suffer from a shortage of the beloved rolls' necessary ingredients?

"There may be a shortage of sushi components, but we are still studying the situation," says Dudi Afriat of the Rakuto Kasei company, which imports the Kikkoman soy sauce, as well as seaweeds, wasabi, rice and other necessary ingredients for sushi rolls.

Rakuto Kasei is the main supplier of raw materials for sushi to all restaurants in Israel, and markets products to supermarkets as well.


Massive online pedophile ring busted by Europol

© Jerry Lampen / Reuters
Grant Edwards, of the Australian Federal Police (right), Peter Davis (center) of the U.K.'s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Europol director Rob Wainwright outline details of arrests during "Operation Rescue" linked to a global child abuse network during a news conference in The Hague Wednesday.
Five Americans are among 184 people arrested so far; 230 abused children, some as young as seven, have been taken to safety

An Internet pedophile ring with up to 70,000 members - thought to be the world's largest - has been uncovered by police, a security official said Wednesday.

The European police agency Europol said in a statement that "Operation Rescue" had identified 670 suspects and that 230 abused children in 30 countries had been taken to safety. More children are expected to be found, Europol said.

It said that so far 184 people had been arrested and investigations in some countries were continuing. Most of those detained are suspected of direct involvement in sexually abusing children.

They include teachers, police officers and scout leaders, AP reported. One Spaniard who worked at summer youth camps is suspected of abusing some 100 children over five years.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said Wednesday the ring, which communicated using an Internet forum, was was "probably the largest online pedophile network in the world."


Glenn Beck blasted for Japan quake comments

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Glenn Beck
US celebrities and media Tuesday blasted right-wing radio host and television presenter Glenn Beck for calling the monster quake that rocked Japan last week a message from God.

Actress, author and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg said Beck should "check the mirror" if he thought Friday's 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami were signs of God's anger with mankind.

"If this is because we're misbehaving and God is pissed (angry), I would check the mirror, Glenn," Goldberg said on "The View" talkshow, which she co-hosts with three other women.

The disaster has claimed nearly 3,400 lives and left more than 10,000 people missing in northeastern Japan.

In a rambling presentation on his radio show on Monday, Beck said God may have caused the catastrophe in Japan because he was angry with mankind, and warned people to change their ways.

"I'm not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. Well -- I'm not not saying that either," Beck said.