A satellite image taken Sunday afternoon shows Hurricane Danielle, located northeast of Bermuda. To the south, Hurricane Earl is shown east of Antigua.

Hurricane Earl strengthened as it began buffeting the Northern Leeward islands in the Caribbean on Monday and was seen becoming a powerful storm within the next 24 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Earl carried sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (169 kph) and was a Category 2 hurricane in the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity.

"Hurricane conditions are now spreading into the Northern Leeward Islands and will spread westward into the Virgin Islands later today," the hurricane center said in its 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) advisory.

"Earl is expected to become a major hurricane by tonight or early Tuesday," it added.

The storm's center was 50 miles (80 km) east-northeast of the French overseas island of St. Martin and moving north-northwest.

Hurricane warnings were in effect through the Caribbean, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and the British overseas territories of Anguilla and Montserrat.

Tropical storm conditions were likely to spread over the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on Monday, with hurricane conditions possible by evening.

The hurricane center warned of a storm surge, dangerous waves and heavy rains that could cause flash flooding and mudslides in areas of higher elevation.

Caribbean airline LIAT canceled 41 flights to several destinations in the eastern Caribbean and shut down its reservation service because of Earl's approach, according to a company statement.

Forecasters said Earl might affect the U.S. East Coast later this week.

In the North Atlantic, Hurricane Danielle, a major Category 4 storm last week, was barely a hurricane on Monday morning as its sustained winds fell to 75 mph (121 kph). The storm was expected to lose its tropical characteristics later in the day.

It was about 440 miles (708 km) south of Newfoundland.

This December 2009 photo released by Xinhua shows a Henan Airlines plane, reported by China's news agency to be the same model of aircraft that crashed Tuesday at an airport in Heilongjiang province.

Chinese state media states around 42 people are dead after a Henan Airlines plane with 91 people on board overshot a runway and burst into flames in northeast China.

The crash took place at the Lindu airport in Yichun city in Heilongjiang province at 10:10 p.m. local time, the official Xinhua news agency said. The plane left Heilongjiang's capital of Harbin just before 9 p.m. local time.

The bodies of 42 passengers killed in the crash were recovered along with the black box containing the flight recorder from the debris of the Brazilian-made Embraer E-190 jet, said the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC).

Wang Xuemei, the vice-mayor of Yichun, told state television broadcaster CCTV that 49 people, including three who were seriously injured, had been taken to hospital.

Henan Airlines operates smaller regional jets, mainly on routes in north and northeast China.

Around eight people, including a schoolteacher, were killed and 10 others injured on Monday when a blast rocked a tribal council meeting in the restive Kurram region in Pakistan’s northwest.

The explosion occurred while the ‘jirga’ or meeting of tribal elders was ongoing in Khomcha area to settle a dispute regarding the ownership of a school.

A schoolteacher, who was acting as a negotiator, was among the 8 people killed, officials said, adding 10 others were injured in the attack.

Witnesses said the attack was carried out with a remote-controlled explosive device. The officials said the debris was still being cleared and the death toll could rise. No group claimed responsibility for the blast.

In a separate incident, security forces arrested four militants and destroyed their hideout during an operation in Shal Gazyan area of Kurram.

Around 40 people were killed when a packed bus fell into a deep ravine in the northern Philippines on Wednesday, authorities said.

The bus carrying 49 Filipinos had just left the mountain resort city of Baguio when its brakes failed, local fire chief Senior Superintendent Richard Villanueva told AFP.

Provincial police chief Wilben Mayor told reporters 40 people were killed instantly.

He said 9 people were injured, including the conductor who survived by jumping out of the door before the vehicle flew off the cliff.

"The driver tried to ram the bus into a mango tree to prevent it from falling, but failed," the conductor, John Patrick Flores, who escaped with only bruises, told reporters.

Police Senior Inspector Leo Guay, who led the search and retrieval operations, said the destroyed vehicle had come to a rest on its side on shrub-covered ground.

The steep slope made it difficult for rescuers to retrieve the mangled bodies from inside the wreckage, he said.

Baguio is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Manila, and is a popular tourist spot because of its rich tribal culture and cool weather.

Afghan officials have seized enough explosive chemicals to make hundreds of homemade bombs after finding it hidden in paint and pickle boxes in the back of a lorry in southern Kandahar.

The 17,000 kg (37,478 lbs) of banned fertilizer, which is the key ingredient in Taliban bombs, was being smuggled in 10lb boxes in a lorry from Quetta in Pakistan according to officers.

Gen Mohammad Shafiq Fazli said the lorry had been trailed before being seized south of the city. He said 4 people were arrested including two Pakistan nationals.

Hidden homemade bombs targeting patrols and convoys account for nearly two thirds of NATO casualties and also indiscriminately kill hundreds of Afghans.

Ammonium nitrate fertilizer was banned by Hamid Karzai earlier this year at the request of NATO troops because of its use in homemade explosives.

Gen Fazli said: "Our enemies use various techniques with the purpose of destroying our country, but our alert police have been defusing their plans, as you see from today's good example."

Founder and editor of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange

Wikileaks has already has published 77,000 confidential US military reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010, a disclosure which some say could expose human rights abuses across the Nato-led campaign.

The revelation has angered the Pentagon, which has blamed Wikileaks of endangering the lives of informants and soldiers in the field, and demanded that Wikileaks should refrain from publishing any more secret data.

Speaking via videolink to London’s Frontline Club, Mr Assange said he had no intention of holding back. He gave no specific time frame, but he said that his organization was about halfway through those 15,000 or so secret files previously held back from publication.

“We’re about 7,000 reports in,” he said, adding that he would definitely publish them.

He said he had “no comment” about his current whereabouts.

Reporters Without Borders, the international media watchdog, said Wikileaks was showing “incredible irresponsibility” in publishing the documents.

Sky-watchers could be in for incredible views over the next 2 days as the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak.

According to Nasa, the shower could produce a display of up to 80 meteors per hour.

"A waxing crescent moon will set before the shower becomes active, setting a perfect stage for meteor watching," said the US space agency on its website.

Experts are urging people to head away from city lights for the best views.

John Mason from the British Astronomical Association (BAA) told BBC News: "Weather-permitting, we should be in for a very good show across the UK.

"The shower has been ongoing for a week now and we have already seen some very bright meteors whizzing overhead."

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle.

Every 133 years, the huge comet swings through the inner part of our Solar System and leaves behind a stalk of dust and gravel.

When Earth passes through the debris, specks hit our atmosphere at 140,000mph and disintegrate in flashes of light.

At least 127 people were killed and 1,294 missing due to a rain-triggered landslide, which hit Zhouqu county in China's Gansu province on Sunday morning.

Around 76 people were injured and rescuers were racing against time to dig out survivors from crushed homes, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

"Torrential rains began to fall at around 10 pm on Saturday. Then there were mudslides and many people became trapped. Now sludge has become the biggest hindrance to rescue operations. It's too thick to walk or drive through," said Diemujiangteng, head of the county.

The clogged river in the narrow valley spilled over its banks, triggering floods and mudslides that hit the town after midnight. The disaster shattered a small hydro station and left more than 100 people dead, Xinhua reports.

The landslide flattened a five kilometers long area. "Most of the 2,000 people living in the area failed to escape in time and were drawn into the mud," authorities from the Gannan Tibetan autonomous prefecture, which administers Zhouqu, said.

Pu Junli, a military official who led rescue efforts, said the sludge was "too massive, mostly as thick as one meter".

The Ministry of Public Security on Sunday activated its emergency response mechanism to organize about 1,000 firefighters and special police in nearby areas to head for the affected area to rescue victims, the ministry posted on its website.

As devastating floods sweep towards the south, thousands of people are fleeing Pakistan's most populous areas.

Floodwaters have already damaged the northwest, leaving more than 3 million people to deal with destroyed houses and crops, and a lack of food and water.

People are being helped by army to evacuate from the central Punjab and southern Sindh provinces. Monsoon rains are likely to continue.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has dispatched his special envoy, Jean-Maurice Ripert, to Pakistan to join the U.N. team already occupied in relief efforts.

At least 1,500 people have lost their lives in the floods. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said so far 100,000 people have been rescued.

The World Food Program said almost 2 million people are in need of food assistance.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Pakistan can count on long-term U.S. support. She outlined U.S. aid that has already been sent and announced a program in which Americans can contribute to the relief effort.

The International Red Cross said that in addition to other damage, floodwaters have destroyed much of the health infrastructure in the worst affected areas, leaving people especially vulnerable to water-borne diseases.

The United Nations, Britain and Canada also have committed millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan.

Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militant groups, also have stepped in to provide aid to flood victims.

Prime Minister Gilani announced Wednesday that Cabinet ministers will contribute one month's salary to flood victims.

Seven really is the lucky number - at least when it comes to sleep.

Often sleeping less than 7 hours a day is connected to an increased risk for heart disease, say researchers at West Virginia University School of Medicine.

But it does not mean that more sleep is better: The researchers also found that regularly sleeping more than 7 hours a day is also associated with increased heart disease risk.

They published their findings in the August 1, 2010 issue of the journal "Sleep."

Analyzing data from more than 30,000 adults, all of whom were healthy at the start of the study, they found that short and long sleep duration were associated with increased heart disease risk even when they controlled for age, sex, race, ethnicity, smoking, alcohol intake, and other risk factors.

Adults who slept less than 5 hours a day (including naps) were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease. Those who slept 9 hours or more each day also had an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease--they were 1.5 times more susceptible, according to the report. It was found that an "elevated but less dramatic risk" of cardiovascular health issues in those who slept for either 6 or 8 hours each day, according to the press release.

Scientists at NASA have found that since Sunday, 4 eruptions on the sun have sent plasma into space on a crash course for Earth.

NASA said the eruption dubbed coronal mass ejections, started early Sunday. When the plasma evicted from the eruptions hits the planet, the particles will fall toward the North Pole and South Pole. As they do so, they will hit nitrogen and oxygen, producing a colorful spectacle of green and red lights flying through the sky. According to scientists, the lights will be observable in northern U.S. states, on up to Canada.

The eruptions were trapped by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft that offers views of the sun. Scientists there said they were part of the sun awakening from solar minimum--a time where little activity and few sunspots are witnessed on the sun--and moving toward solar maximum, a period of high activity and more sun spots. The period of time between solar minimum and solar maximum is generally 11 years. The last solar maximum occurred in 2001.

The solar eruption is especially important because of its trajectory. "It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time," Leon Golub, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement.

At this point, scientists don't know exactly how far south Americans will be able to see the lights show. That said, the light show should be visible around midnight on the East Coast, with subsequent events occurring in the afternoon and evening on Wednesday.

Forest fires in Russia have killed 29 people and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has visited one of the worst-hit areas to comfort angry residents.

People belonging to a village in the central Nizhny Novgorod region, where all 341 houses burnt down, confronted Mr Putin as he visited the area on Friday, many wiping tears from their eyes, television reports showed.

''We aren't asking for anything out of this world. We are just asking for a guarantee that we will be able to live here by winter,'' a woman said in footage shown on state-run Channel One television.

''By winter, all the houses will be standing. I promise you that your village will be restored,'' the Prime Minister said, adding that compensation of 50,000 roubles ($1830) per household for loss of possessions would be increased to 200,000 roubles per resident. He then leant forward and embraced the woman.

On Friday morning, Mr Putin flew into the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya where more than 500 residents were left homeless by a fire.

Mr Putin allocated 5 billion roubles to rebuild houses and said he will personally control the process, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, informed Russian news agencies. President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Defence Ministry to aid put out the forest fires, his spokeswoman said on Friday.

The heat wave has forced the government to proclaim emergencies in 23 regions, with 10 million hectares of farming land devastated by drought.

Bank robbers in Afghanistan made off with more than $200,000 but not before beheading 6 guards protecting the financial building, on Tuesday.

The theft was carried out by an unknown number of robbers, who raided a branch of Kabul Bank in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, authorities said.

According to a police spokesman for Balkh province Sherjan Durani, staff discovered the bodies of the private security guards locked inside a room.

It is believed the robbers may have known the guards, who invited them for a meal and the guards must have been unaware that the crooks had poisoned the food.

A combination of United States and Afghanistan currency worth $269,000 was reportedly missing from the bank.

At least 43 people were killed and 72 others were injured as extensive violence broke out overnight due to the killing of a provincial lawmaker in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi Tuesday, police said.

Syed Raza Haider, a leader of the MQM party, was shot at a mosque, on Monday evening where he was attending the funeral of a relative, according to Rafiq Gul, Karachi's deputy superintendent of police. The politician's bodyguard was also killed by the gunman.

Gul said the Haider's death set off political and ethnic violence in the city, as mobs set fire to vehicles and gunfire erupted.

Gul said 48 vehicles, 8 shops and several gas stations were set on fire in the mayhem.

The MQM is part of the ruling coalition supporting President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party.

Russian officials say, 11 people were killed and 4 injured when a passenger plane crashed while trying to land in northern Siberia.

The Antonov-24 twin turboprop came down on Monday in fog near the airport at Igarka, in the Arctic Circle.

3 crew members and a passenger survived, but the passenger is reported to be critically ill.

The reason for the plane crash is not yet clear. 10 passengers and a crew member died.

The plane belonging to the Katekavia airline was flying to Igarka from Krasnoyarsk and crashed 700m from the runway, Irina Andrianova of the emergencies ministry said.

Rescue workers are looking for the plane's flight recorders and an investigation is in progress.

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