Shooting Incident Reported at Harvard
An unidentified person was shot Monday on the campus at Harvard University, a spokesman said. Initial reports suggested the victim had survived. The man was shot at Kirkland House, an undergraduate residence, the public relations office for the famous university in Cambridge, Massachusetts said.
According to a report in the campus newspaper, the Crimson, the victim was found bleeding, but conscious. He was reported to be young, but there was no immediate confirmation that he was a student. Police blocked off part of the nearby street, the report said.
Karzai’s Brother Survives as Convoy Is Ambushed
A brother of President Hamid Karzai said he narrowly escaped assassination Monday morning by Taliban attackers lying in wait for his motorcade while it traveled from the eastern city of Jalalabad to the capital.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in Washington that the United States could not succeed in Afghanistan if the American military kept killing Afghan civilians, and the military provided its most detailed accounting yet of the airstrikes that killed an undetermined number of Afghan civilians in Farah Province two weeks earlier.
Mr. Karzai’s younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, said in a telephone interview that his convoy was on its way to Kabul, the capital, when it was ambushed at Sorobi by attackers using rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.
“I was leading the convoy,” he said, “but all of the bullets hit the second vehicle that my bodyguards were driving.”
He blamed the Taliban for the attack, which killed one of his bodyguards.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, a prominent politician in southern Afghanistan, leads the provincial council of Kandahar Province. News organizations have reported on allegations of links between Mr. Karzai and the drug trade in the region. Mr. Karzai strongly denied the allegations, saying they were “baseless.”
Egypt criticized for 'inhumane' killing of pigs
A leading animal rights group criticized Egypt on Monday for using "shocking and cruel" methods to slaughter the country's pigs over swine flu fears, responding to a YouTube video that showed men skewering squealing piglets with large kitchen knives and hitting others with crowbars.
The controversy was the latest swirling around Egypt's decision to kill all the country's 300,000 pigs out of concerns they will spread swine flu. But the World Health Organization has said it is entirely unnecessary because the illness is being spread through humans.
The government decision also brought accusations that Muslims are attacking minority Christians, who breed the animals. Most Muslims consider pigs unclean and do not eat pork.
The Egyptian government has denied the claims and subsequently expanded its rationale for the slaughter to confront a long-standing hygienic problem posed by pigs raised by garbage collectors who live amid the refuse in Cairo slums.
The latest troubles started after the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper posted the video showing men standing in the backs of trucks, killing pigs with knives and crowbars and tossing them in front of a bulldozer. The piles of bleeding bodies, some of them still moving, were then transferred to larger trucks, which took them to the desert to be buried in Qalyoubiya province, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Cairo.
Mohammed Fathi el-Mugharbel, a government official supervising the operation, was shown in the video saying some of the pigs were sprayed with chemicals to paralyze and kill them before being buried.
Peter Davies, who heads the London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals, called the methods "inhumane."
"I am writing to express my deepest objection and request corrective action regarding the inhumane cull of pigs being carried out in Egypt," Davies said in a letter to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif circulated to media.
There were also protests within Egypt's parliament. Christian lawmaker Seyada Ilhami Gress expressed anger Sunday over the "government's random and inhumane way of slaughtering the pigs." Responding to the criticism, Parliament Speaker Ahmed Fathi Sorour said the killing should be done in a "civilized and humane way because animals have rights like human beings." But he did not specifically comment on the video.
Both Muslim and Christian lawmakers supported the government late last month when it issued its order to kill the country's pigs, even though no swine flu cases have been reported.
The Ministry of Agriculture issued instructions at the time that owners should kill their pigs by piercing their hearts with a needle and then slitting their throats before burying them in pits lined with quicklime.
But the video showed that those recommendations were not being heeded.
"I'm used to seeing a lot of shocking images. ... But what I saw today in YouTube is among the most shocking and cruel," said Sofia Parente, an international program manager for Davies' organization.
The head of the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends, Ahmed el-Sherbini, said in a statement published Monday in Al-Dustour newspaper that some of the pigs were being buried alive. The government said it was not aware of the practice.
"I have not seen or been informed of such treatment, but there might have been some individual cases," Hamed Samaha, the director general of veterinarian services at the Ministry of Agriculture, told The Associated Press.
The government's decision to kill the pigs initially met some resistance, with pig farmers hurling stones at Health Ministry trucks and clashing with police.
The World Health Organization says the H1N1 virus that has sickened more than 8,000 people around the world and killed 76 is being spread by humans, not pigs, and pork products are safe to eat.
Many believe the Egyptian government made the decision to slaughter the pigs to look strong in the face of the crisis. It was criticized for not taking enough precautions when bird flu first appeared in Asia in 2003 and ended up killing over two dozen people in the country.
Egyptian authorities quarantined a French family at a hospital after they arrived Monday because two of the children showed signs of fever, said Hassan Shabaan, an official at the airport's health department. The family will remain at the hospital for 24 hours while they are tested for swine flu, he said.
Russia walks out of security talks with Georgia
A new round of international talks aimed at resolving outstanding issues left over by the Russian-Georgia conflict collapsed on Monday when the Russian delegation pulled out, diplomatic sources said.
The Russian delegation withdrew from the talks, citing the absence of representatives from Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, the sources said.
Delegates from South Ossetia, another breakaway region of Georgia, also walked out of the closed-door meeting held at the UN European headquarters in Geneva.
South Ossetia was at the center of the five-day war in August, which was initiated by Georgian troops trying to regain control of the region but only defeated by quickly deployed Russian forces.
Russia recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states shortly after the war and has since then kept troops in the two regions.
"To discuss serious questions about security without one of the parties would be a doomed exercise," Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin was quoted as saying in Geneva by Interfax.
The talks were launched last October under the auspices of the European Union, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with an aim to solve security and humanitarian issues left over by the war.
The latest, or fifth round of the talks were scheduled on May 18-19 to build on limited progress made in February on a security mechanism.
Besides the three mediators, parties to the talks include Russia, Georgia, the United States as well as Georgia's two breakaway regions.
However, Abkhazia had refused to attend the latest round of discussions in protest to UN documents that described the region as part of Georgia, according to media reports.
In a joint statement issued late on Monday, the three mediators expressed their "strong regret" at the walkout of Russia from the discussions.
"The co-chairs strongly regret the walkout by the Russian participants at the beginning of the fifth session of the Geneva discussions today," said the statement.
However, the mediators urged all parties to regather for discussions on Tuesday. "The co-chairs are working for the resumption of the discussions tomorrow morning, May 19, as planned and call upon all participants to be present," the statement said. "The Geneva Discussions provide the only forum where all participants can engage with one another on the key issues of security and stability as well as humanitarian questions," it added.
Confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases at Texas elementary school rise to 24: official
The number of students diagnosed with A/H1N1 flu at an elementary school in Houston, the US state of Texas, rose to 24, local health officials said Monday. The flu outbreak at Houston's Travis Elementary School is the state's largest in a single setting, according to newspaper Houston Chronicle.
"It's still too early to know how widespread this was at the school," said Porifirio Villarreal, a spokesman for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.
Only two specimens from Travis students have come back negative for H1N1 flu, said Villarreal, adding that he anticipates the health department laboratory will be receiving more samples of Travis students to test.
Health officials said earlier that they expect there are more than just H1N1 flu involved in the illness of Travis students. One of the two cases that tested negative for H1N1 flu is seasonal flu, they said.
The school was closed last Friday after 12 H1N1 cases were confirmed and some 400 out of the 712 students at the school stayed home.
Illness began spreading at Travis Elementary School last Wednesday, with 86 students missing classes with such symptoms as fever, headaches and stomachaches. It was not known how many students fell ill and how many were kept at home by parents as a precaution.
The school will remain closed until May 26 and during that period time, officials hope the virus may die on its own.
Finnish alcohol consumption tops among Nordic countries
The Finns drink more alcohol per capita than any of the other nationalities in the Nordic region and has for the first time overtaken Denmark as the Nordic country with the highest per capita alcohol consumption, according to a survey by Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare Monday.
Consumption adjusted to liters of pure alcohol exceeded ten liters per head in Finland, 10.4 liters in 2008. In a comparison of drinking patterns in the Nordic region, Finland is well ahead of the others. Danish per capita consumption is 9.9 liters of pure alcohol. In Sweden, the figure is 8 liters per person. Norway and Iceland have the lowest annual consumption, at rather more than six liters per capita.
Nevertheless, daily use of alcohol remains relatively rare in Finland, and people turn instead to booze at the weekends. Women and pensioners in Finland are drinking more than before in recent years. Young people, on the other hand, are drinking less. More Finnish kids are teetotalers and binge drinking has declined significantly.
According to the report of Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the growth in consumption has increased the ill-effects of drinking. This has been manifested particularly in a sharp rise in alcohol-related deaths, with alcohol-related diseases and accidental alcohol poisoning becoming a very significant cause of death among working-age men and women.
Mexico flu deaths reach 70, with 3,646 total infections
Mexico's Health Ministry said in a statement on Monday that the country's confirmed deaths from the A/H1N1 flu has risen to 70, with total confirmed infections of the new virus reaching 3,646. "Two deaths that took place on April 19 and May 13 in Mexico City were confirmed" to be related to the A/H1N1 flu, the statement said, adding that health authorities have now processed 26.6 percent of the samples that were taken during the nation's flu emergency period.
Mexico closed all educational institutions from nurseries to universities on April 24, effectively sending home 33 million people, in response to an unusual increase in flu deaths that hit out of season.
The last group of closed schools reopened on Monday in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacan, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas.
On Monday, the Health Ministry said that 31 of Mexico's 32 states have confirmed cases of the flu, but five states -- Mexico City, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, the State of Mexico and Veracruz --have accounted for 65 percent of the total infections.
Mexico City, where all activities and businesses that bring together people were halted for around 10 days, is the region worst affected by the flu.
The flu usually causes headaches, breathing difficulties, a sudden increase in body temperature and muscular pain.
On Monday, the World Health Organization reported that there were a total of 8,829 confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases in 40 countries and regions across the globe. The United States has the most infections, with 6 deaths from 5,123 confirmed cases.
Earthquakes shake southern Peru
Two moderate earthquakes shook on Monday the southern parts of Peru, but caused no damage or casualties. According to the Geophysics Institute of Peru (IGP), the first earthquake measured 5.4 on the Richter scale, and occurred at 9:01a.m(1401 GMT).
The second earthquake occurred 12 minutes after the first one, with a magnitude of 4.9. The epicenter of the tremors was some 41 km southeast of San Juan de Marcona in Nasca province. Both quakes were felt in the national capital Lima and nearby regions. An August 2007 earthquake in southern Peru killed 596 people.
First A/H1N1 flu case confirmed in Greece
Greece confirmed Monday the first A/H1N1 case, which is a Greek citizen who returned from the United States last Saturday. The young man developed flu-like symptoms and tested positive, as soon as he hurried to the hospital. Deputy Health Minister Giorgos Papageorgiou, who gave an emergency press conference when the second lab tests confirmed the case.
Earlier, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is attending the WHO's 62nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, told Greek media that all precautionary measures dictated by the international and EU rules have been taken and that the case is under control and that public health runs no risk. "This information arrived to us exactly the time when the world is weighing upon this important matter," said Avramopoulos.
Some 34,000 people flee heavy fighting in Somali capital Mogadishu
The UN refugee agency said on Monday that it was deeply concerned with a fresh eruption of fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu that has left many people dead and sparked a new wave of displacement.
A statement from the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said so far, at least 135 people have been killed and 413 injured, while more than 34,000 people have fled their homes to escape the heavy fighting that broke out in Mogadishu early this month between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government and opposition groups.
"These figures have been compiled by UNHCR and a network of partners. Hospitals are reported to be overwhelmed by the number of casualties in need of urgent medical attention," said the UN agency.
UNHCR said its partners in the capital said that some people have been trapped in their homes for days, unable to flee because of the raging street battles.
The displaced spoke of indiscriminate nightly bombings of residential areas and the targeting of civilians. Some witnessed many people dying, including children and the vulnerable who were unable to leave the area of conflict.
"It is extremely sad to see that, while we were preparing to assist people to return home and resume a normal life after years of displacement and suffering, a new humanitarian catastrophe is erupting," said Guillermo Bettocchi, UNHCR's representative to Somalia. "What is more frustrating is our inability to access the displaced people and give them the help they need."
One of the newly displaced is Fadumo, a mother of eight. "My husband was killed and I'm now alone with my children. The last time we ate was a week ago," an aid worker quoted her as saying after reaching safety outside Mogadishu.
According to the UNHCR, the newly displaced include families who have taken advantage of a period of relative calm in Mogadishu and recently returned to their old neighborhoods.
The rate of displacement is increasing as the fighting escalates and spreads to other parts of the city. Many of the displaced are heading towards Afgooye, some 30 km south-west of Mogadishu, where some 400,000 internally displaced Somalis have sought shelters.
Some have moved to other parts of the city. The most badly affected areas are the north Mogadishu neighborhoods of Yaaqshiid, Wardhiigleey and Hawl Wadaag.
Hundreds of minibuses have ferried people out of Mogadishu. As a result of the high demand, the cost of transportation is going up daily. The latest fighting is a setback to the efforts to establish stability in Mogadishu. Some 65,000 internally displaced people returned to the city between January and April.
The UNHCR said it has pre-positioned blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheets and kitchen sets for up to 108,000 people in Mogadishu and is making arrangements for the rapid distribution ofthese desperately needed items as security allows.
Would-be robber armed with banana
A North Carolina cafe owner said he tackled a robber who claimed to be armed and discovered the man only had a banana -- then the robber ate the evidence. Bobby Ray Mabe, owner of the 109 Biz Center computer cafe in Winston-Salem, said he had just paid out $2,000 to a sweepstakes winner Thursday when a man holding something under his shirt asked for a Mountain Dew and demanded the small amount of cash he had left in the business, the Winston-Salem Journal reported Monday.
"It just flew all over me, and before I knew it, I had my hands on him," he said. Mabe said he and one of his customers grabbed the man and held him down on a chair.
"If he had had a gun he would've shot me," Mabe said yesterday. "But he had a banana."
The business owner said the suspect ate the banana before Forsyth County sheriff's deputies arrived.
"And the deputy said, 'Aha! He ate the evidence,'" Mabe said. "But we had the banana peel, and they took a picture of it."
Deputies arrested John Steven Szwalla, 17, and charged him with attempted robbery. He was also charged with common-law robbery for an incident that allegedly took place the same day at a Kangaroo Express store.
Internet data around 500bn gigabytes
World's digital content equivalent to stack of books stretching from Earth to Pluto 10 times. The world's store of digital content is now the equivalent of one full top-of-the-range iPod for every two people on the planet, following the explosion of social networking sites, internet-enabled mobile phones and government surveillance.
At 487bn gigabytes (GB), if the world's rapidly expanding digital content were printed and bound into books it would form a stack that would stretch from Earth to Pluto 10 times. As more people join the digital tribe – increasingly through internet-enabled mobile phones – the world's digital output is increasing at such a rate that those stacks of books are rising quicker than Nasa's fastest space rocket.
The large files from digital cameras and the world's burgeoning army of surveillance cameras account for a significant proportion of the digital universe. The rapid increase in so-called machine to machine communications – such as when an Oyster card is touched on a reader or a satellite navigation system requests information about its location – has seen the number of individual digital creation events balloon, despite the economic recession.
The digital universe is expected to double in size over the next 18 months, according to the latest research from technology consultancy IDC and sponsored by IT firm EMC, fuelled by a rise in the number of mobile phones. At the time of their first Digital Universe report in 2007, the pair reckoned the world's total digital content was 161bn gigabytes.
About 70% of the information in the digital universe is created by individuals and includes phone calls, emails, photos, online banking transactions or postings on social networking sites, including Twitter. "Devices such as camera phones, and the web 2.0 services like social networking sites have created a nation of digital hoarders," according to Mike Altendorf, managing director of EMC Consulting.
But the responsibility for protecting – and hosting – the vast majority of this content lies with corporations and organisations. More than 30% of the information created today, from patient care records to personal financial information, already requires high standards of protection and IDC/EMC reckon that will grow to roughly 45% by 2012.
Companies are seeing digital storage needs increase as a result of tightening regulation following the financial meltdown last year. The amount of information that must be retained to comply with rules and regulations is expected to grow from 25% of the digital universe last year to 35% in 2012.
IDC/EMC estimate that the cost of the computers, networks and storage facilities that drive the digital universe is about $6tn. Add in medical equipment, entertainment and content creation and the figure is more than double that.
thas all for today now i have to run home
tata bye bye CHAO!!!
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