Sunday, September 4, 2011
American Way: Barack Obama, 2008 man of hope and change, becomes 2012 candidate of fear and status quo
His approval rating is hovering just above 40 per cent. Unemployment is stuck at 9.1 per cent; the White House forecast that it would be about 6.5 per cent by now if its economic stimulus plan was passed. Essentially, the American economy is grinding to a halt.
More importantly, what is Obama going to do about it? In terms of policy, the White House has run out of whatever ideas it ever had.
Obama, who declined even to comment on the latest jobless figures on Friday, is like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Having squandered the first two years of his presidency ramming through a healthcare reform that could not win the support of a single Republican on Capitol Hill and is now mired in the courts, he finds himself confronting a divided Congress.
So the only thing that matters to the people around Obama, who are eager for another four years of employment, is his re-election. I’ve long thought that Obama himself is lukewarm about continuing in a job where the adulation he is used to is in short supply. For Democratic powerbrokers, however, maintaining their grasp of the White House is everything. more
The crackdown on what David Cameron has described as “the hard core minority of families” who cause trouble in their neighbourhoods threatens a fresh rift between the Tories and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.
The Prime Minister has vowed to take a tougher approach to tackling social problems such as discipline in schools and said that in doing so he would push aside the “old taboos and sensitivities”.
But the scrapping of child benefit for those who fail to send their children to school, a measure said to have the support of Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron's head of strategy, is certain to be opposed by Lib Dems and Labour.
The Government has asked Charlie Taylor, a former head teacher and the Government’s discipline adviser, to investigate new ways to tackle problems such as truancy.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, last week linked a failure in education with the recent riots and said it was time to review truancy sanctions to help the "educational underclass". more
Some 21 per cent of state schools in England are no better than satisfactory on child safety, the watchdog said, suggesting they must make “considerable improvements” to stop pupils being injured or prevent strangers entering buidings.
Inspectors warned that a further two per cent of schools were judged inadequate when it came to “safeguarding”.
Many of these were failing to complete risk assessments, keep a central record of checks for adults working with children and monitor and review their policies on protecting pupils, it was claimed.
In a report, inspectors said the best schools had “robust” systems in place to keep children safe.
This includes telling children to be “cautious” of any adult entering buildings without an identification badge and the increased used of CCTV cameras around school sites. more
Officials announced the move to reporters on the Beijing Times and the Beijing News – known for its bold reporting – at meetings on Friday afternoon.
Some journalists blamed the development on official anger at the reporting of the fatal high-speed train crash in Wenzhou in July, although others believe it reflects a broader struggle over control of the media.
"It means there will be so much we can't do," an employee of one of the affected titles said. "[Before] there was news that other papers couldn't do but we could."
Searches for Beijing News and Beijing Times on Sina's popular microblogging service appeared to be blocked. One journalist who posted about the change received a message from the service ordering him to delete the post or lose his account.
Previously, the papers were overseen by state level propaganda authorities. Journalists fear the switch may also restrict their ability to cover events in the capital and sensitive news from other areas. more
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said eight people were killed as security forces dispersed protests in several suburbs of Damascus, including Douma and Erbeen. Six other people died in Homs province and three in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, said the Observatory.
State television, meanwhile, reported the security forces killed two armed men after coming under attack in Talbisseh, a town in central Homs province.
Three members of the security forces were killed by "armed terrorist groups who attacked them in Talbisseh, Erbeen and Hammuriyeh," also a Damascus suburb, according to state news agency SANA.
It reported four assailants died in the firefights, while an army captain, Wael el-Ali, was kidnapped in a town of Idlib province. more
The explosions came three months after ceasefire was brokered between the forces loyal to president Saleh and tribal militants affiliated to al-Ahmar sons supported by the defected army lead by Genera Ali Mohsen the commander of the first armor division.
The ceasefire was forced by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz following the attack that targeted president Saleh and Yemen’s senior officials at the mosque of the presidential complex last June.
Meanwhile earlier in the day security sources had affirmed that the defected army lead by the commander of the first armor division General Ali Mohsen are preparing the launch massive offensive to capture the camp of the First mountainous infantry brigade located in al-Sama’a mount that overlooks Sana’a international airport.
The troopers of the first mountainous infantry brigade had foiled an attack launched by the Islamic militants, former Afghan Arab, some al-Qaeda operatives and some troopers from the defected army at the beginning of last August when more than 200 of the attackers were killed along with dozens of the infantry troopers.
Confrontations have been continuing in Arhab district for the past two months between the troopers loyal to President Saleh and the Islamic militants lead by Sheikh Abdulmajid al-Zindani supported by the defected army that aim at capturing the camps of the troopers loyal to president Saleh in Arhab district near Sana’a International airport. more
The Royal Navy’s Type 22 Frigate HMS Cumberland had already evacuated hundreds of civilians, both British and others, from the port of Benghazi. But the bigger concern at the time – back in February – was how to save the estimated 150 UK nationals known to be still inside Libya working in isolated desert oilfields.
‘The C-130s were flying at night into unfamiliar territory, in unstable and uncertain conditions,’ says Wing Commander Paul Moss, commanding officer of RAF 8 Squadron.
‘The folks on the ground were given reasonably short notice that there would be an opportunity for them to be extracted by the British military. They were told to be at a certain airfield at a certain time, and something would turn up.
Out of the black a C-130 would appear, the ramp would close again, and they’d go up into the dark.
‘Whether they actually knew where they were going to end up I’m not quite sure – but we certainly did. And it was our job to make all of that happen as seamlessly as possible.’ more
The video was posted on a social media website and is said to have been taken in Douma which is a suburb of the capital Damascus.
Independent verification is impossible. The Syrian regime has expelled foreign media during the uprising.
A Syrian human rights group reported 21 deaths around the country since Friday. The protesters were using the slogan ‘Death rather than Humiliation.’
The United Nations believes more than 2,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have been killed since the uprising against Assad’s rule began in mid-March.
Activists say more than 10,000 have been arrested and imprisoned. source
Hachiro's comments at a news conference Friday evening are in line with Noda's view that restarting reactors suspended for regular maintenance and inspections is necessary to ensure a stable power supply.
He also agreed with Noda's medium- to long-term nuclear energy policy, saying it will be "very difficult" to build new nuclear plants after the meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
"On the issue of the resumption of idled reactors, the most important thing is to employ a tougher safety standard," Hachiro said, suggesting the possibility of re-examining the current review system used to determine whether reactors are safe to restart.
After Kyushu Electric Power Co. on Thursday halted a reactor at its Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture for a scheduled checkup, only 12 of the nation's 54 commercial nuclear reactors are currently on line.
It remains uncertain when the idled reactors will resume operations, given the new safety assessment requirements introduced amid the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Approval from local municipalities is another precondition for utilities to restart idled reactors.
As for reactors whose service life has expired, Hachiro said "it is necessary to decommission them." But he stopped short of saying whether he would pursue former Prime Minister Naoto Kan's goal of ending Japan's reliance on nuclear power. more
So far, the skirmishes have failed to gel into another serious challenge to the Gulf nation's Western-backed monarchy after crushing a reform rebellion months ago. But there are sudden signs that Shiite-led demonstrators could be poised to raise the stakes again on the strategic island, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
Hundreds of demonstrators Wednesday made their boldest attempt in months to reclaim control of a central square in the capital Manama, which was the symbolic hub of the protest movement after it began in February. Riot police used buses to block roads and flooded streets with tear gas to drive back the marchers before dawn.
Hours later, mourners gathered in a Shiite village in another part of Bahrain for a 14-year-old boy they claim was killed by security forces. Clashes flared until early Thursday across the oil hub area of Sitra before the boy's burial.
"Down with the regime," chanted some of hundreds of people in the funeral procession. "More protests."
Some waved the flag of the Libyan rebels, who are closing in on the remnants of Moammar Gadhafi's government. more
Republican and Democratic leaders are promising action to try and ease the country's 9.1 percent unemployment rate and boost a barely growing economy.
President Obama goes first, with a speech to lawmakers and a prime-time national television audience Thursday night.
But there is little overlap so far in the measures that Republicans and Democrats are recommending, and the rest of the year-end congressional agenda is top-heavy with items that relate to government spending and less directly to job creation.
A new committee, comprised of lawmakers in both parties from both houses and armed with extraordinary powers, is expected to hold its first meeting this week as it begins work on a plan to make long-term deficit cuts. The panel was created as part of last month's agreement to reduce red ink and avert a government default. It faces a Nov. 23 deadline for action.
More immediately, parts of the Federal Aviation Administration will shut down on Sept. 16 unless Congress approves a measure to keep operations running. Federal money for highway construction jobs runs out two weeks later without separate legislation.
The Obama administration is seeking more money for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and a partial government shutdown would occur on Oct. 1 unless lawmakers enact an interim spending bill to cover most federal agencies. more
Lee's center crawled ashore before dawn after the vast, soggy storm system spent hours hovering nearly in one spot over the weekend in the northernmost Gulf of Mexico. Its slow crawl to the north gave more time for its drenching rain bands to pelt a wide swath of vulnerable coastline, raising the flood threat.
By Sunday, at least 6 to 10 inches of rain had fallen in some places along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, and the National Weather Service warned there was a threat of extensive flooding and flash floods because of the storm's slow, menacing slog inland.
The heavy rainbands were expected to head northward into the Tennessee Valley later in the week as forecasters warned that 10 to 15 inches of rain were possible along the central Gulf Coast and up to 20 inches in isolated spots. more
Officer Bert Lopez's dismissal from the New Mexico state police was confirmed by The Santa Fe New Mexican on Saturday. The newspaper said Lopez has 30 days to appeal the firing.
The surveillance photos were taken from a motion-triggered security camera positioned at the front gate of the county-owned La Bajada Ranch south of Santa Fe. The encounter was at the remote Canyon Ranch.
Two photos showing a uniformed officer having sex on the hood were forwarded to Santa Fe Sheriff Robert Garcia, who identified the officer as being with New Mexico State Police. He forwarded the images to State Police Chief Robert Shilling.
An internal investigation was immediately launched, and Lopez, an eight-year veteran, was put on paid administrative leave for about three weeks.
Police officials would not comment on whether the dismissal was an indication whether the officer was on duty at the time of the incident.
The dismissal came days after investigators said the officer didn't commit a crime. Officials were assured the sexual encounter was not in exchange for anything related to his position as a law enforcement officer. more
Tower Cabins is a labour camp consisting of about thirty drab wooden shacks and a few deteriorating trailers crammed together behind an unpainted wooden fence just south of Immokalee, a city in the heart of southwest Florida’s tomato-growing region.
The community of poor migrant labourers is dreary at the best of times, but just before Christmas a few years ago, there were reasons for joy. Three women, all neighbours, were expecting children within seven weeks of each other. But in the lives of tomato workers, there is a fine line between hope and tragedy.
The first baby, the son of twenty-year-old Abraham Candelario and his nineteen-year-old wife, Francisca Herrera, arrived on December 17. They named the child Carlos. Carlitos, as they called him, was born with an extremely rare condition called tetra-amelia syndrome, which left him with neither arms nor legs. more
Aid workers said 5.2 million people are now affected, double the figure from 10 days ago, as tail-end seasonal monsoon rains sweep the heavily-populated states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam where 158 people have died in flooding incidents in the past three months.
"The number of people affected by the floods has more than doubled in the last ten days. We have sent teams to do more accurate assessments of the situation, but we do feel it's going to get worse," said John Roche, country representative for the International Federation of Red Cross in India.
In the most severely affected state of Uttar Pradesh in north central India, 125 people have died and around 2 million have been affected, said a state government official.
"Of the 29 districts which have been affected by floods, 10 are in a critical state," said the state's relief commissioner K.K. Sinha, adding that about 70,000 people were homeless and around 300,500 hectares of mainly rice paddy had been destroyed. more
Obama said he is seeking to reduce regulatory burdens as the economy recovers, and said the EPA would weigh tighter standards on ozone, which causes smog, in two years.
“Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered,” Obama said today in a statement.
The EPA’s proposed regulations for ground-level ozone would have revised rules issued during President George W. Bush’s administration in 2008. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said those rules wouldn’t stand up to legal scrutiny. The EPA’s proposal would have cost $19 billion to $90 billion, according to the White House.
The EPA will revisit the ozone standard in 2013 as required by law, Jackson said today in a statement. Business groups, which joined Republicans to protest that environmental and other U.S. rules under consideration would further weaken the economy, applauded Obama’s decision, as health and environmental groups derided it as capitulating to business.
“The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe,” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, said today in an e-mailed statement. “This is a huge win for corporate polluters and a huge loss for public health.” more
A team of British academics will next month formally announce the first step towards creating an artificial volcano by going ahead with the world's first major geo-engineering field test in the next few months. The ultimate aim is to mimic the cooling effect that volcanoes have when they inject particles into the stratosphere that bounce some of the sun's energy back into space, so preventing it from warming the earth and mitigating the effects of man-made climate change.
Before the full-size system can be deployed, the research team will test a scaled-down version of the balloon-and-hose design. Backed by a £1.6m government grant and the Royal Society, the team will send a balloon to a height of 1km over an undisclosed location. It will pump nothing more than water into the air, and will allow climate scientists and engineers to gauge the engineering feasibility of the plan. Ultimately, they aim to test the impact of sulphates and other aerosol particles if they are sprayed directly into the stratosphere. more
Now, just a few days before the annual observance of National Thylacine Day in Australia, a new study reveals that the predator was probably not a threat to sheep after all. Its notably long jaw (one of the animal’s most distinctive features) could open to an amazing 120 degrees but was too weak to kill sheep, according to a study published September 1 in the Journal of Zoology.
“Our research has shown that its rather feeble jaw restricted it to catching smaller, more agile prey,” lead author Marie Attard of the University of New South Wales in Australia, said in a prepared statement. Instead, it appears the thylacine killed and ate smaller animals, such as possums. more
There are options for managing water resources to protect the salmon runs, although they would impact hydroelectric power generation, said Lisa Thompson, director of the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture at UC Davis. A paper describing the study is published online this week by the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management.
"There are things that we can do so that we have the water we need and also have something left for the fish," Thompson said.
Working with Marisa Escobar and David Purkey at SEI's Davis office, Thompson and colleagues at UC Davis used a model of the Butte Creek watershed, taking into account the dams and hydropower installations along the river, combined with a model of the salmon population, to test the effect of different water management strategies on the fish. They fed in scenarios for climate change out to 2099 from models developed by David Yates at NCAR in Boulder, Colo.
In almost all scenarios, the fish died out because streams became too warm for adults to survive the summer to spawn in the fall. more
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that Maikel Nabil Sanad, who began his hunger strike on August 23 and more recently started refusing to drink, "could very soon die."
"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would have to take full responsibility. Held for exercising his right to freedom of expression, Sanad must not become the symbol of a repressive and unjust post-Mubarak Egypt," it said.
A military court convicted Nabil in April on charges of insulting the armed forces, prompting US lawmakers to send a letter to the military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, demanding his release.
Nabil's trial was the first of a blogger since the military took charge of the country in February following president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow by a nationwide uprising.
The military, which has tried thousands of civilians since then, mostly for crimes such as theft and assault, faces growing pressure to refer civilian cases to normal courts. It has also jailed activists arrested in protests.
Opponents of military trials say they are unfair and result in harsh sentences. more
Fed action -- if it happens -- is no longer viewed as the elixir for the stock market it once was.
Wall Street tumbled over 2 percent on Friday as investors fretted more about the economic outlook rather than looking ahead to another round of Fed bond buying.
Next week, the question of whether the Fed will step up to the plate with another round of quantitative easing will take center stage with a highly anticipated speech from President Barack Obama. That could make for another volatile week.
This time last year, anticipation of a second round of quantitative easing, or QE2, sparked an almost uninterrupted rally that lifted the S&P 500 around 30 percent from August to May.
What a difference a year makes. Confidence in policy makers is sapping away as the economy languishes, the United States grapples with the loss of its top-notch credit rating, and the European Union seems to be coming undone at the seams.
Wall Street sees an 80 percent chance the Federal Reserve will intervene in the bond market to lower long-term interest rates, according to a Reuters poll on Friday. more
I believe that we have been in one giant recession all along that was only temporarily interrupted by trillions of useless and destructive deficit and stimulus spending. Unfortunately, the August numbers will increase the talk of government efforts to stimulate the economy.
As President Obama prepares to unveil a new plan for the Federal Government to create jobs, evidence is rapidly piling up on how his administration is actively destroying jobs with stunning efficiency. Recent examples of this trend are enough to make anyone with even a casual respect for America’s former economic prowess hang their head in disgust.
The assault on private sector employment began in April when the democrat controlled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint seeking to force Boeing aircraft to move Boeing’s newly opened non-union production facilities in South Carolina back to its union controlled plants in Washington State. Although Boeing simply says that it is looking to open a cost effective domestic manufacturing facility (an endangered species) to employ American workers, the NLRB alleges that the company was punishing union workers in Washington for past strikes. more
The comic, 71, said that the mix of cultures had helped the capital win the 2012 Olympics.
But he added that it can be hard to find an English person and that the "parent culture has dissipated".
Cleese, who is performing in Sydney, was asked on Australian TV what he thought of last month's riots around the UK.
He replied: "I'm not sure what's going on in Britain. Let me say this, I don't know what's going on in London because London is no longer an English city.
"That's how they got the Olympics. They said, 'We're the most cosmopolitan city on Earth', but it doesn't feel English.
"I had a Californian friend come over two months ago, walk down the King's Road and say to me, 'Well, where are all the English people?'
"I love having different cultures around but when the parent culture kind of dissipates, you're left thinking, 'What's going on?'" more
Please note: this video contains unverifiable information as well as opinions that The Coming Crisis does not necessarily share. We have published this video simply out of interest in the object spotted on film, and welcome readers to help us determine what it may be.
The epicenter was 73 km (46 miles) Northwest of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time
Rebecca Zahau 'had tape residue on legs and t-shirt stuffed in mouth' reveals autopsy as expert questions suicide - 4th Sept 2011
A copy of the autopsy shows that tape residue was found on the 32-year-old's legs and a t-shirt was discovered stuffed in her mouth - facts which were not disclosed when authorities gave a press conference on Friday to announce their findings.
The news comes as a respected forensic pathologist spoke out to question the corner's decision to rule the death a suicide.
Ms Zahau was found dead on July 13, hanging from a second-floor balcony at a historic mansion in suburban Coronado, California belonging to Mr Shacknai, whose son had a tragic fall two days earlier.
During a 90-minute news briefing on Friday, investigators detailed how they came to categorically decide she had killed herself.
But the autopsy report, obtained by KFMB-AM, shows 'tape residue' was discovered on both of her legs and a blue t-shirt was wrapped around her mouth and neck.
Deputy Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas wrote: 'She had a reddish-orange rope ligature around her neck and a blue piece of fabric, possibly a shirt, around the neck outside of the ligature. A portion of this shirt was reportedly originally in the decedent's mouth.'
He said that tiny grey pieces of material were found on her left shin and right lower leg as well as a sticky tan-grey substance. Mr Lucas commented 'appears similar to tape residue'.
Officials said at the press conference that Ms Zahau used rope to bind her hands and legs before hanging herself. Read More
Two women stabbed to death and third in hospital with knife wounds to the neck after horrific incident in sleepy town, Husband of 2 Months arrested
The suspect is understood to have still been holding the knife he used to kill his victims as he walked along the high street in Thame, Oxfordshire, holding the young boy in his arms.
A 21-year-old man was arrested by armed police in the Market Place almost 40 minutes later. It is understood officers seized a knife.
This afternoon, the family's landlord, Mark Field, said the mother-of-two - believed to be the dead 28-year-old - had recently married a Turkish man.
He said he had moved in to the family home in the cul-de-sac Ireton Court with her mother, father and two young daughters - thought to be both under four.
The new bride's mother, named locally as Julie Sahin, 50, was also stabbed to death.
Mr Field said that Julie had asked his permission for her daughter's new husband to move into the house within the last month. Read More
Towns were turned into lakes and mudslides wiped out houses and swept away cars.
Local media are reporting that as well as the dead, some 50 people are missing.
Thousands of people have been stranded by flooded rivers, landslides and collapsed bridges.
Evacuation orders were issued to nearly half a million people in the central and western region of Japan, hundreds of miles from the northeastern coast that was ravaged by a tsunami earlier this year.
The typhoon dumped record amounts of rain in some areas and was the country's worst storm since one in 2004.
The centre of the typhoon crossed the southern island of Shikoku and the central part of the main island of Honshu overnight Saturday.
Because of the storm's slow speed, weather forecasters warned that heavy rains and strong winds were likely to continue, prompting fears of further mudslides. Source
Speaking at the Ambrosetti Forum on the shores of Lake Como, near Milan, Roubini said in an interview: “We are in a worse situation than we were in 2008. This time around we have fiscal austerity and banks that are being cautious.”
Roubini, known for his bearish views on the world economy, thinks that there is a 60 percent chance of a second recession imminently. Economic data of recent weeks presents a mixed picture.
On Thursday, the US government announced that jobless claims dropped by 11,000 to 409,000 last week. Friday's employment report in the US is expected to show a gain of only 75,000 nonfarm jobs during August, with the unemployment rate steady at 9.1 percent.
Recent surveys point to slumping business and consumer confidence across the developed world.
Asked if there was still a chance the developed economies could avoid recession, Roubini said: "That’s very optimistic if you look at the data." more
The man in his early 20s was bodyboarding with five friends when the shark attacked, a police spokesman said.
He died at the scene in the surfing haven known as The Farm, off Bunker Bay near the western town of Dunsborough. The beach was closed after the attack.
About 30 surfers were in the water when the shark attacked, according to beachside cafe employee, Deb Pickett, who called police and an ambulance after hearing the disturbance.
"We had some sharks spotted far out at sea a few months ago, but they never come this close to the shore," Pickett said.
She added that helicopters were still searching the area for the shark late Sunday, while rescue staff searched for the man's arms and legs, which she believed had been taken by the shark.
Local official Ian Stubbs says it was the first shark attack in the area for more than 20 years. more
The defense establishment will hold a special emergency drill this week, simulating an enemy strike on Israel's nuclear facility.
"Operation Fernando" will aim to test the defense establishment's readiness for the worst case scenario – a missile strike on the facility itself or its immediate surroundings, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
The drill, whose details have been classified as top secret, is scheduled for Tuesday. Given its classification, only a handful of senior defense establishment officials are privy to its outline. more
On August 17 of this year, the pro-pedophilia group B4U-ACT sponsored an event in Baltimore attended by researchers, professors, mental health professionals, and "minor-attracted persons" (MAP, a euphemism for "adults who crave sex with children"). These individuals endorse the adult molestation of children, consider this sexual perversion as normal, and advocate for the declassification of pedophilia as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
The academic panelists who presented at this "pedophilia-friendly" scientific symposium came from such distinguished institutions as Johns Hopkins University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
According to a press release issued by Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, and Dr. Judith Reisman, visiting law professor at Liberty University School of Law, who attended the event, several admitted pedophiles were in attendance, in addition to many academics and university professors. The keynote address was given by Dr. Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins University, who proclaimed that he wants to "completely support the goal of B4U-ACT." more
Documents found in the abandoned Tripoli office of Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence chief indicate the U.S. and British spy agencies helped the fallen strongman persecute Libyan dissidents, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.
The documents were uncovered by the human rights activist group in the abandoned offices of Libya's former spy chief and foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.
The group said it uncovered hundreds of letters between the CIA, MI6 and Koussa, who is now in exile in London. Letters from the CIA began, "Dear Moussa," and were signed informally with first names only by CIA officials, Human Rights Watch said.
The current military commander for Tripoli of Libya's provisional government, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, was among those captured and sent to Libya by the CIA, Human Rights Watch said.
"Among the files we discovered at Moussa Koussa's office is a fax from the CIA dated 2004 in which the CIA informs the Libyan government that they are in a position to capture and render Belhadj," Human Rights Watch's Peter Bouckaert, who was part of the group that found the stash, told Reuters.
"That operation actually took place. He was captured by the CIA in Asia and put on a secret flight back to Libya where he was interrogated and tortured by the Libyan security services." more
We have shut down all things that have created jobs because some spoiled people thought it was ugly. We are fed so much bull! on how we are ruining the world. Why do we have any fish left in our streams if a gold mine is bad? Did the gold rush 120 years ago not turn over every rock in every stream and silt up every river from California to way past the Yukon? But yet we still had record runs up until the last few years of all these regulatory restriction. Why are there still fish in the streams the loggers of the 50's and 60's destroyed? Why is logging so bad -- our forest are so thick we can not walk through them. Mud slides happen were loggers have never logged.
Who's teaching this garbage? Why is it so easy for people who never worked but spent years in schools to sit in trees and stop people that need to work to feed their families? These are the workers who pay taxes to protect them from having the cutter fall the trees they sit in.
We have now created generations of people that don't even want to work. We need to assert the understanding that we can log our trees and mine our gold and do it in ways that are not any worse to our world than the environment is.
Would we be worse off if we used the product in a sensible way and used every thing out of a tree? more
The question is, how far should cops go to thwart social network and cell phone organization of protests?
Via CBS San Francisco:
A planned protest at the Bay Area Rapid Transit Service’s Civic Center station over the shooting of a man last month failed to materialize during Thursday afternoon’s commute.
As an added precaution, the agency shut off cellphone service on the station’s platform. While Alkire said the tactic was an unusual measure, he said it was “a great tool to utilize for this specific purpose” given that the agency was expecting a potentially volatile situation. more
The storm brought heavy rain and winds of up to 108km/h (68mph) after making landfall on Shikoku island on Saturday.
Talas has now moved over Japan and into the Sea of Japan (East Sea), Japan's Meteorological Agency said on Sunday.
But it warned that heavy rains and strong winds would continue - raising the threat of floods and landslides.
Some 460,000 people in parts of western and central Japan were issued with evacuation orders and advisories, Kyodo News agency reported.
Some of the worst hit areas appeared to be in the western prefectures of Nara and Wakayama.
Six homes were engulfed by a mudslide in the Wakayama city of Tanabe, leaving three women and two high school students missing, Kyodo reports.
Most of a train bridge over the Nachi River in Wakayama has also been swept away by swollen waters.
Homes were also swept away in the Nara prefecture village of Totsukawa, with at least three people dead and seven missing.
The public broadcaster NHK reports that nearly 100 people have been injured. source
A further 17 people were wounded as gunmen ambushed the bus near Hama, Sana reported, adding that three gunmen were killed in an ensuing gunfight.
Syria blames foreign-backed armed groups for the ongoing protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, activists said Syrian forces killed 12 in raids on restive areas.
The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), which coordinates anti-regime protests, reported 12 deaths in the north-western province of Idlib and the city of Hama.
The area has seen more arrests and bloodshed since Hama governorate Attorney-General Adnan Bakkour resigned last week in protest at "crimes against humanity" committed by security forces.
Activists say nearly 30 people have died across Syria since Friday, which saw the now-familiar weekly pattern of prayers, followed by protests, followed by shootings.
Access to Syria has been severely restricted for international journalists and it is rarely possible to verify accounts by witnesses and activists.
But the United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed in government crackdowns since pro-democracy demonstrations began in mid-March. more
The storm came ashore 50 miles (80km) south-west of Lafayette, packing sustained winds of 45mph (75km/h), the National Hurricane Center said.
The US Gulf Coast is braced for torrential rain and flash flooding.
Flood defences repaired after the 2005 disaster are expected to be put to the test in New Orleans.
A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana and an emergency has also been declared in coastal parts of Mississippi.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said the centre of Lee is expected to move slowly over southern Louisiana for the rest of Sunday and into the evening.
"A slow northeastward motion is expected later today... followed by a turn to the east-northeast tonight," said the centre.
Lee comes less than a week after Hurricane Irene killed more than 40 people from North Carolina to Maine and deprived millions of people of electricity.
It appears too soon to tell if another hurricane, Katia, which is out in the Atlantic, could threaten the US.
The Atlantic hurricane season usually brings about a dozen named storms, but Katia is already the 11th with half the season still ahead. more
Yet one country in the region, Eritrea, says it has escaped the crisis, reaping a bumper harvest earlier this year.
But evidence is now mounting that the real situation in the secretive country may be rather different, with up to two in three Eritreans going hungry.
In the last decade Eritrea has become one of the world's most closed nations with no free press and no opposition.
So its been difficult to verify the Eritrean government's claims that the population has the food it needs.
But it has now been possible to piece together an alternative picture from a variety of sources.
There is an increasing trend of acute malnutrition in children under five in many areas.
Satellite imagery from weather monitoring group the Famine Early Warning System shows below average rainfall from June to September.
This is the main rainy season for Eritrea and comes after years of severe drought in consecutive years.
The human impact is to be found in northern Ethiopia.
Emaciated Eritreans are crossing the heavily militarised border at the rate of 900 a month, according to journalists in the region. more
Clashes broke out on Thursday night between the government and soldiers loyal to an opposition party with links to South Sudan.
The opposition party, SPLM North, is calling for a UN no-fly zone over Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur.
In July South Sudan became independent, but Sudan is still fighting rebels in these states as well as Darfur.
A press release from SPLM-North also accuses the Sudanese armed forces of bombing and killing civilians in Blue Nile, and arresting hundreds of its party members.
The government spokesman for the armed forces was not immediately available for comment.
The government has control of Damazin, the state capital, and the rebels have largely retreated towards their base, Kurmuk, in the south of the state.
The UNHCR says it has received reports of 20,000 people fleeing across the border from Blue Nile into Ethiopia. more
As a side-effect of the financial crisis, more and more people are starting to think Karl Marx was right. The great 19th Century German philosopher, economist and revolutionary believed that capitalism was radically unstable.
It had a built-in tendency to produce ever larger booms and busts, and over the longer term it was bound to destroy itself.
Marx welcomed capitalism's self-destruction. He was confident that a popular revolution would occur and bring a communist system into being that would be more productive and far more humane.
Marx was wrong about communism. Where he was prophetically right was in his grasp of the revolution of capitalism. It's not just capitalism's endemic instability that he understood, though in this regard he was far more perceptive than most economists in his day and ours.
More profoundly, Marx understood how capitalism destroys its own social base - the middle-class way of life. The Marxist terminology of bourgeois and proletarian has an archaic ring.
But when he argued that capitalism would plunge the middle classes into something like the precarious existence of the hard-pressed workers of his time, Marx anticipated a change in the way we live that we're only now struggling to cope with. more
A symbol of wealth and luxury, shark fin soup was once prized by Chinese emperors for its rarity. Today, it's typically served at weddings and banquets to demonstrate a host's good fortune.
But it comes at a high price, for one's wallet and the environment. Shark fins, which fetch up to $600 per pound, are sometimes acquired through the controversial practice of finning: a shark's fins are cut off and the rest of its body is tossed into the ocean.
California, home to 1.1 million Chinese-Americans, is one of the largest importers of shark fins outside Asia. The California Shark Protection Act would make it illegal to possess, sell or trade shark fins.
The state Senate is expected to take up the legislation next week.
The issue goes beyond animal welfare, the bill's supporters say. Most sharks are at the top of the marine food pyramid, according to Shark Alliance, a global, not-for-profit coalition of non-governmental organizations. Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year, either intentionally or as a bycatch of fishing operations, threatening the balance of ocean ecosystems. more
The study found that 1,003 documented suicide bombings accounted for 12,284 of 108,624 Iraqi civilian deaths, 11% of those killed between March 20, 2003, and December 31, 2010.
It also found such attacks accounted for 30,644 -- or 26% -- of the 117,165 documented cases of Iraqi civilians wounded within the same period.
"Suicide bombers in Iraq use suicide bombs strategically as cost-effective, precise, highly destructive weapons," said the study, which was published Saturday.
"Our findings suggest that the Iraqi civilian population suffers a substantial public health burden because it is a primary chosen target of suicide bombers and those who deploy them."
The study analyzed and compared suicide bomb casualties using data compiled by Iraq Body Count, an independent public database that documents violent Iraqi deaths using hospital, morgue, nongovernmental organizations and official figures as well as media reports. more
Col. Hamid Ahmad, with the Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards corps, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that the effort began Friday afternoon in the northwest part of the Middle Eastern nation in an area bordering Iraq. He described the mission as ongoing.
"The major operation against (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, or PJAK) agents in the northwest borders will continue until the purification of the region from terrorists," Ahmad said.
It was not clear in the state-run news agency report whether the rebels crossed from Iraq into Iran.
Iranian forces have repeatedly shelled the border area between Iran and Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, targeting Kurdish rebels who say they want their own independent country.
Blaming PJAK for violating a ceasefire, Ahmad said that two Kurds who were protecting the group's members had been killed in the latest offensive.
Revolutionary Guard troops also "killed, injured and arrested tens of terrorists" and destroyed a rebel camp near the city of Sardasht, the news agency reported. more
The rallies on Saturday night are the latest action in a six-week-long social protest movement that began with a small group of activists pitching tents in an exclusive Tel Aviv neighborhood to protest high rents. It has culminated in a nationwide movement made up of a wide cross-section of Israelis calling for social justice in the Jewish state.
Organizers billed the protests the "March of the Million" and hoped a high turnout would help reignite political momentum for a movement that had recently slipped from the center of public attention following a high-profile terrorist attack in southern Israel more than two weeks ago.
Eight Israelis were killed in the attack, which prompted an escalation in tensions between Gaza-based militant groups and the Israeli military. That resulted in the death of some two dozen Palestinians and one more Israeli.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN that authorities estimated a nationwide turnout of 300,000, while local media reported a higher turnout ranging from 400,000 to 450,000. more
The two countries are at odds over last year's Israeli raid on a ship trying to break its blockade of Gaza.
Netanyahu said Sunday that his country did not need to say it was sorry for the incident, in which nine people aboard the Mavi Marmara were killed and several Israeli troops were injured.
"The state of Israel has the full and basic right to defend itself," he said, and would not apologize for "the fact that our warriors protected themselves against an attack" or "for working to stop smuggling of weapons to Hamas ... to defend our citizens, our children and our cities."
But he said Israel "regrets the loss of human life" and hopes "that the way will be found to overcome the differences with Turkey. Israel never wanted its relations with Turkey to deteriorate, nor does it want them to deteriorate right now." more
Three of the injured troops are currently in critical condition.
The explosion went off at about 8:30 p.m. near a military police checkpoint linking Aden with Abyan province. At least 15 troops were at the scene of the attack, eyewitnesses said.
Fierce clashes took place minutes after the explosion at two different residential areas nearby.
The vehicle was on its way out of Aden when it exploded, witnesses said.
A security official in Aden said the attacks have the hallmarks of extremist groups in Yemen.
This is the second car bomb attack in Aden this year, the first being in July, when a suicide car bomber killed eight troops near a governmental military camp. more
The extra brigade combat teams — or battlegroups — deployed to Iraq by Petraeus have already withdrawn and a further 8,000 troops have been diverted to Afghanistan.
In January, the next president of the United States will conclude America’s timetable for withdrawal in final negotiations with the Iraqi government.
Further evidence of America’s future military intentions is contained in recently published strategy documents issued by the US military.
Under the auspices of the US department of defence and department of the army, the US military have just published a document entitled 2008 Army Modernization Strategy which makes for interesting reading against the current backdrop of deteriorating international fiscal, environmental, energy resource and security crises.
The 2008 modernisation strategy, written by Lieut Gen Stephen Speakes, deputy chief of staff of the US army, contains the first explicit and official acknowledgement that the US military is dangerously overstretched internationally. It states simply: “The army is engaged in the third-longest war in our nation’s history and … the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has caused the army to become out of balance with the demand for forces exceeding the sustainable supply.”
Against this backdrop, the 90 page document sets out the future of international conflict for the next 30 to 40 years — as the US military sees it — and outlines the manner in which the military will sustain its current operations and prepare and “transform” itself for future “persistent” warfare.
The document reveals a number of profoundly significant — and worrying — strategic positions that have been adopted as official doctrine by the US military. In its preamble, it predicts a post cold war future of “perpetual warfare”. more
The experiment in geoengineering - where human beings intentionally stage-manage the natural systems of the Earth in order that the impacts of climate change are counterbalanced - apparently is an upshot of the fact that volcanoes belch chemical particles into the atmosphere, which reflect solar radiation on the planet as well as bring about a reduction in its surface temperatures.
For the experiment, which is a serious concept even though it might appear to be a wacky plan of a comic villain, the researchers intend to copy the volcanic activity by spewing out sulphate aerosol particles from a stadium-sized balloon.
The proposed experiment – called Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE) – is the brainchild of the researchers at the Cambridge, Oxford, Reading and Bristol universities; and it received a £1.6 million grant from the government as well as the backing of Royal Society last year.
About the experiment, The Guardian recently noted that the researchers will carry out the first field test next month. The opening experiment to be seriously scaled down --- it will be conducted with a smaller balloon, will be just 0.6km high and water droplets will be used rather than sulphate, to ascertain the feasibility of the plan. more
Radioactive Materials Dispersion Model by Kyushu University Researchers Shows Massive Radioactivity Dispersion Across World
It was published in the Scientific Online Letters on the Atmosphere (SOLA) under the title "A numerical simulation of global transport of atmospheric particles emitted from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant" in June.
You can read the paper at this link (PDF file).
You can also view the animation, here, and the press release in Japanese here.
Their simulation also shows, like France's CEREA, radioactive materials from March 14/15 release reached the west coast of North America on March 18. The researchers attribute the rapid dispersion of radioactive materials from Fukushima to the unusually strong jet stream. Also, on March 14/15, there was a low pressure on the east cost of Japan, which created a strong updraft that lifted the radioactive materials to the jet stream. more