Charges laid over failed plane bombing

The man accused of attempting to blow up an American airliner on Christmas day has been indicted on six counts.

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, faces charges including the attempted murder of the other 289 passengers and crew and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The explosives were concealed in his underpants which he tried to detonate as the plane was approaching Detroit from Amsterdam. People sitting near him managed to restrain him and extinguish the flames.

Since then, US intelligence has been heavily criticised for a series of blunders that led to Abdulmutallab managing to board the plane despite being on a list of suspected terrorists.

It was also revealed the explosive device had been provided by al Qaeda in Yemen. In response, the US has named several countries it considers high risk and whose nationals will be subjected to tighter security checks.

Full body scanners are set to become common place in many international airports.


2014 Women’s World Cup attracts four bidders

Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Samoa and USA have all declared a formal interest in hosting the 2014 women's rugby World Cup the International Rugby Board(IRB) announced on Monday.

Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Samoa and USA have all declared a formal interest in hosting the 2014 women's rugby World Cup the International Rugby Board(IRB) announced on Monday.

The City & My Life By E-mail|AFP – Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Samoa and USA have all declared a formal interest in hosting the 2014 women’s rugby World Cup the International Rugby Board announced on Monday.

Rugby World Cup Limited will now analyse the tenders prior to the IRB Council selecting the Host Union for Women?s Rugby World Cup 2014 at its meeting in May.

“We are looking forward to the biggest Women?s Rugby World Cup to date in England in 2010 and have been working closely with the RFU to deliver a wonderful tournament, reaching new fans and further raising the profile of the Women’s Game,” said IRB Women?s Development Manager Susan Carty.

“The host of the Women?s Rugby World Cup 2014 can build on this and we can bring the tournament to one of the four countries, all of which have a strong tradition in Women?s Rugby.”

The qualification process for the 2010 finals concluded last week with Kazakhstan beating Japan 43-5 in Singapore to secure the last remaining place as the Asia qualifier.

They will join defending champions New Zealand, 2006 runners up and hosts England, bronze medallists France, Canada, South Africa, USA, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Australia in the 12-team tournament.

With all the teams now confirmed, the Pools will be announced shortly for the tournament which runs from August 20 to September 5.

The qualification process saw 16 teams take part, doubling the eight teams which attempted to reach Women?s Rugby World Cup 2006 in Edmonton, Canada, via this route.

The previous hosts of Women’s Rugby World Cup are Wales (1991), Scotland (1994), the Netherlands (1998), Spain (2002) and Canada (2006).


The US gets seven Colombian bases

The US is to open seven military bases in Colombia. The deal was sealed in Bogota today, a relatively swift passage to signature after the idea was only suggested at the end of August.

America has the green light for a deployment of 800 service personnel and 600 civilians.

Just the August offer was enough to spark a fierce regional response, but it was made after neighbour Ecuador demanded the US close its only base there.

The US and Colombia are struggling with drugs barons and a counter-insurgency campaign, and Manta’s closure robbed their forces of surveillance flights over the Pacific and elsewhere.

Now one of the new bases gets a heavy lifter runway for C5 Galaxies. All are on a 10-year lease.
Ecuador and fellow left-wing neighbour Venezuela are the twitchiest over this military build-up, with Hugo Chavez particularly vocal in his criticisms. He has recently obtained nearly 100 Russian tanks and rocket launchers with money borrowed from Russia.

NASA delays launch of new ‘Ares I-X’ rocket

AFP -NASA has delayed until Wednesday attempts to test a prototype rocket designed to return astronauts to the Moon, and perhaps one day send them to Mars.

After a series of delays due to the weather, the launch of the Ares I-X from Cape Canaveral in Florida was abandoned for the day and officials said they would try again in a four-hour window from 8:00 am (1200 GMT) Wednesday.

“Overall, the weather will improve,” a NASA official said after Tuesday’s efforts were called off.

The Ares I-X is the prototype for the Ares I, a booster vehicle intended to launch mission crews into orbit in the Orion spacecraft, which is still under development.

NASA hopes to have the Ares in service by 2015, which would still leave a five-year gap in its human spaceflight program as its aging space shuttle fleet is due to be mothballed next year.

During the two-minute test flight NASA aims to gather data from more than 700 sensors placed along the rocket that should enable engineers to fine-tune their design.

Fifteen stories taller than the shuttle, the 327-foot (100-meter) Ares is the longest rocket ever built.

Ares and Orion are part of Constellation, NASA’s grand program to send astronauts back to the Moon by 2020, and then on to Mars and other destinations.

The test flight is crucial as the White House is considering a report ordered by President Barack Obama’s administration that raises concerns about Ares and the whole Constellation project.

A commission, chaired by Norman Augustine, a former executive at aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, concluded that the program “appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory” and seeks to achieve goals not matched by resources.

The Ares rocket has suffered major development problems and its hefty price tag has fueled criticism of NASA, an agency notorious for its cost overruns.

The initial budget for the Constellation program was set at 28 billion dollars, but has swollen to at least 44 billion.

Ed Crawley, a member of the Augustine commission set up by Obama to review the space plans of his predecessor George W. Bush, said that Ares I was “not the right ship” for post-shuttle space flight.

“The question is not can we build Ares I, but should we build Ares I,” Crawley said.

But Doug Cooke, associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, was upbeat ahead of the launch.

“This test is very important,” he told reporters last week. “The data is important to us, regardless of what comes next.”

If lift-off goes ahead on Wednesday it would be the first time in 30 years that the Kennedy Space Center has launched anything other than a shuttle.

If weather again delays the test flight, the team has a four-hour launch window each day until Friday.

NASA’s yearly budget is about 18 billion dollars, 10 billion of which is plowed into the human space flight program, chiefly in developing the Ares I rocket and the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.

The Augustine Commission said an additional three billion dollars a year are needed for NASA to meet Constellation program goals or take human space flight the next step beyond the existing International Space Station (ISS).

Congress agrees Guantanamo inmate move

US President Barack Obama’s goal of closing Guantanamo Bay prison has moved a step closer after the US Senate passed a bill allowing inmates to be tried on American soil.

Those acquited will not be permitted to remain in the United States.

Many Republicans have objected to plans to
house terrorism suspects in U.S. prisons, amid concerns that they could invite additional terrorist attacks.

The 79-19 vote removes one of the many obstacles the government faces as it tries to shut down the jail by January.

The measure passed the House of Representatives last week and now heads to the White House for
Obama to sign into law.

Sheriff: Charges Will Be Filed In Balloon Saga

WCBS Channel 2- The sheriff who said he believed a couple was being honest when they reported their son was set adrift on a homemade helium balloon now says criminal charges will be filed in the incident.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden didn’t say Saturday night what the charges would be, but he did say the parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, aren’t under arrest.

The Heenes spent much of the afternoon at the sheriff’s office and were headed home where they were expected to speak to reporters.

Richard Heene has insisted that the drama that unfolded Thursday wasn’t a publicity stunt. He and his wife reported that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, had been inside the flying-saucer shaped balloon when it launched from their backyard.

Actually, Falcon had been hiding in the rafters of his family’s garage.

A poll Friday on indicated that the general public thought the incident was an elaborate hoax.

When asked whether or not they thought the incident was a publicity stunt or child’s play, an overwhelming 81 percent felt Thursday’s bizarre story was all one giant hoax.

Wire taps help arrest billionaire US investor

euronews-A billionaire investor and executives from some of America’s most prestigious companies have been arrested and charged with insider trading. Hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam and senior figures from IBM, McKinsey and Intel Corp were taken into custody after investigators on Wall Street used evidence from wire taps for the first time.

“This case should be a wake-up call to Wall Street,” said US attorney Preet Bharara. “It should be a wake-up call for every hedge fund manager and every Wall Street trader and every corporate executive who is even thinking about engaging in insider trading. As the defendants in this case have now learned the hard way, they may have been privy to a lot of confidential information, but there was one secret they did not know: that we were listening.”

All the defendants are accused of fraud and conspiracy to use inside knowledge in trading stocks from a range of companies on Wall Street. It’s said they made more than 20 million dollars in illegal profits over three years.