Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

India's economy grows at slowest pace in over a year -- World economic collapse is very real

India's economy grew at its slowest pace in five quarters during the March quarter, as rising interest rates crimped consumpton and investment, although the central bank is expected to continue tightening rates in its battle against inflation.

Annual gross domestic product grew 7.8pc in the March quarter, lower than the 8.3pc expansion in the previous quarter and below the median forecast for growth of 8.2pc in a Reuters poll.

For the full fiscal year 2010/11, the economy grew 8.5pc compared with the government's forecast of 8.6pc.

"Not a disaster but adds to the idea that EM (emerging market) growth is cooling as tighter policy kicks in," said Jonathan Cavenagh, senior FX strategist in institutional FX sales for Asia at Westpac Institutional Bank In Singapore.

"With inflation still elevated and more work to be done by the RBI, tighter policy still seems likely, which will not be welcome by the equity market," he said.

Most economists expect the central bank to raise its main policy interest rate by 25 basis points at its review on June 16, after it raised its key rates by a bigger-than-expected 50 basis points early this month. (read more)

US housing market in double dip as prices fall to fresh lows

US house prices have fallen to fresh lows, according to a widely-watched report that managed to stand out among a blitz of worrying data for the world's biggest economy.

Average home prices slumped 5.1pc in the first quarter of the year from the same period in 2010, the latest report from the S&P Case-Shiller index showed yesterday.

The index's reading of 125.41 for the quarter was the lowest since house prices began falling in the summer of 2006.

The report "is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation," said David Blitzer, chairman of the committee that puts together the report. "Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight."

While the housing market has been a well-known Achilles heel for the recovery, yesterday also saw evidence that the country's manufacturing sector - a robust, albeit small, part of the economy - is slowing.

A reading from the Institute for Supply Management's index that measures the state of manufacturing around Chicago showed a decline to 56.6 last month (MAY) from 67.5 in April. (read more)

Pentagon: Cyber attack will be considered act of war

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

The Pentagon's first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country's military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks," said a military official.

Recent attacks on the Pentagon's own systems—as well as the sabotaging of Iran's nuclear program via the Stuxnet computer worm—have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks. A key moment occurred in 2008, when at least one U.S. military computer system was penetrated. This weekend Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor, acknowledged that it had been the victim of an infiltration, while playing down its impact.

The report will also spark a debate over a range of sensitive issues the Pentagon left unaddressed, including whether the U.S. can ever be certain about an attack's origin, and how to define when computer sabotage is serious enough to constitute an act of war. These questions have already been a topic of dispute within the military.

One idea gaining momentum at the Pentagon is the notion of "equivalence." If a cyber attack produces the death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that a traditional military attack would cause, then it would be a candidate for a "use of force" consideration, which could merit retaliation. (read more)

Eurozone crisis risks 'systemic' fallout: European Central Bank

The debt crisis in Greece, Ireland and Portugal could have "significant systemic effects" in the eurozone, Italy's central bank chief Mario Draghi, who is set to head up the European Central Bank, said on Tuesday.

"In the eurozone, the sovereign debt crisis in three countries, which together represent six percent of the area's GDP, has the potential to exert significant systemic effects," Draghi said at a central bank conference.

"European economic and monetary union is facing its most difficult test since it was created," added Draghi, referring to Greece, Ireland and Portugal which have agreed bailout packages worth tens of billions of euros (dollars).

"European surveillance over national budget policies, which was weakened in the middle of the last decade on the initiative of the three biggest countries, showed itself wanting just when it was most essential," he said.

Had the European stability pact rules been respected to the letter, the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product on the eve of the crisis would have been 10 percentage points less in the eurozone, he said.

"There are no shortcuts," warned Draghi, calling on governments to rein in public finances.

"Financial support from other governments in the eurozone is needed for countries to proceed with corrections while being sheltered from the volatility on the markets. It is not a fiscal transfer between countries," he said. (read more)

1000-strong brawl involving gangs breaks out at Carson Beach, prompting massive police response

Fights broke out among rival gang members on Carson Beach in South Boston yesterday and spilled out across the city, triggering a massive law enforcement response from at least five agencies to stem the violence.

Police said the gang members are part of a group of more than 1,000 youths who have used social media sites like Facebook to plan unruly gatherings on the beach on three of the past four nights. The beach falls under the jurisdiction of the State Police, who have been unable to prevent the violence.

The response yesterday resembled crowd-control tactics reserved for major sporting victories.

State Police were already on edge, after a trooper was accosted Sunday night by members of the group. The trooper chased one of the youths, who ran, clutching the waistband of his shorts “consistent with the manner in which a person with a gun would hold it,’’ said David Procopio, a spokesman for the State Police. (read more)

Carmen Montenegro, 51, Wheels Trash Can Containing Body Parts Through Ontario Neighborhood

A woman has been booked on murder charges after bringing a trash can containing the body parts of a deceased man to an area home and pushing it through the surrounding neighborhood Sunday, officials said.

51-year-old Carmen Montenegro was spotted toting a trash can down the street before bringing it to a home located on the 700 block of Holmes near H Street, where she told the residents that a body was inside the trash can and asked the residents, reportedly her relatives, to help her dispose of it. (read more)

"Barack Obama's decision to play golf on Memorial Day was disrespectful and hardly presidential" -- While others died, Obama drives

Can you imagine David Cameron enjoying a round of golf on Remembrance Sunday? It would be inconceivable for the British Prime Minister to do so, and not just because of the usually dire weather at that time of the year. Above all, it would be viewed as an act of extremely bad taste on a day when the nation remembers and mourns her war dead. I can’t imagine the PM even considering it, and I’m sure his advisers would be horrified at the idea. And if the prime minister ever did play golf on such a sacrosanct day he would be given a massive drubbing by the British press, and it would never be repeated.

Contrast this with President Obama’s decision to play golf yesterday, Memorial Day, for the 70th time during his 28-month long presidency. For tens of millions of Americans, Memorial Day is a time for remembrance of the huge sacrifices made by servicemen and women on the battlefield. The president did pay his respects in the morning, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, but later in the day traveled to Fort Belvoir to play golf. The story has not been reported so far in a single US newspaper, but was made public by veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler on his blog. Here’s Koffler’s report:

The business of memorializing our war dead done, President Obama headed out to the Fort Belvoir golf course today, finding his way onto the links for the ninth weekend in a row. (read more)

U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse

Phillip Herr looks like many of the men who toil deep within the federal government. He wears blue suits. He keeps his graying hair and mustache neatly trimmed. He has an inoffensively earnest manner. He also has heavy bags under his eyes, which testify to the long hours he spends scrutinizing federal spending for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog agency where he is Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues. As his title suggests, Herr devotes much of his time to highway programs. But for the past three years he has been diagnosing what ails the U.S. Postal Service.

It's a lonely calling. "Washington is full of Carnegie and Brookings Institutes with people who can tell you every option we have in Egypt or Pakistan," laments Herr, who has a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. "Try and find someone who does that on the postal service. There aren't many."

Yet Herr finds the USPS fascinating: ubiquitous, relied on, and headed off a cliff. Its trucks are everywhere; few give it a second thought. "It's one of those things that the public just takes for granted," he says. "The mailman shows up, drops off the mail, and that's it."

He is struck by how many USPS executives started out as letter carriers or clerks. He finds them so consumed with delivering mail that they have been slow to grasp how swiftly the service's financial condition is deteriorating. "We said, 'What's your 10-year plan?' " Herr recalls. "They didn't have one." (read more)

Katya Koren, 19 was Killed by a psychologically troubled classmate and had nothing to do with sectarian violence Claims Senior Policeman - 31st May

The body of 19-year-old Katya Koren was found dumped in a forest on the Crimean peninsula a week after she went missing amid suggestions that she had been 'punished' for flouting Sharia law.

Police said that Miss Koren, a former participant in regional heats of the Miss Ukraine beauty pageant, had suffered multiple blows to the head inflicted by one or more stones or rocks.

There were conflicting reports of how and why she was murdered. Some local newspapers claimed she had been stoned to death by hardline Muslims upset by her participation in the beauty contest and that police had three suspects in their sights.

But the police said her killing had nothing to do with sectarian violence and that the girl had been killed by a psychologically troubled classmate who had given her a lift on his moped and then robbed and possibly raped her before battering her to death with a rock.

"A student did it, killing his classmate. There is no other underlying reason, neither religious nor linked with inter-ethnic conflicts," said Sergei Reznikov, a senior policeman involved in the case. Source

European Commission PAYS 2.7 Million EUROS to Belgium Cucumber Farms for Loss of earnings, What about Holland and Spain?

Cucumber Farmers in Belgium have received a 2.75 Million Euros Payout because of loss of Earnings Due to the E.Coli Disaster. The Flemish Minister Kris Peeters has confirmed that the Payout was authorised by the European Commission Tuesday 31st May 2011.

The Fee is calculated at 2.4 Cents per Kilo of Cucumbers. Meanwhile they sought compensation for 660.000 Kilos, "If the situation persists, the 2.75 Million Euros is not enough" said Peeters, in this Case we will just ask Europe to FREE up extra Money.

Peeters went on to Accuse Germany of poor Communication and that they are resposible for much of the damage caused to the Flemish (Belgium) Vegitable Industry. Not so Long ago we experienced a similar crisis in the Pig Industry when the problem came from Germany.

Earlier The Netherlands was promised 10 million Euros to its Cucumber Farmers and Spain has also requested compensation for loss of earnings during this crisis.

I have translated this from a article which just appeared in the Dutch News - Please see original article here >>>>>>

Hailstorm damages crops in two districts of Himachal, India - 31st May 2011

Several areas in Kullu and Shimla districts of Himachal Pradesh were lashed by a severe hailstorm this afternoon, causing extensive damage to crops.

The freak weather conditions continued in the region with isolated rains, thunderstorms and hailstorms, keeping farmers on tenterhooks. Apple, wheat, cherry, almond, pear, plum, apricot, stone fruits and flowers suffered due to the untimely rains.

Meanwhile light showers occurred at Seobagh in Kullu which recorded 6 mm of rain while Kumarsein in Shimla and Nadaun in Hamirpur had 2 mm of rains.

The day temperatures rose marginally at some places in Himachal while minimum temperatures were near normal in most parts of the state. The maximum temperature slided by one degree in Shimla to stay at 24.4 degree while it increased by 3.5 degree at Una to settle at 38.4 degree.

The day temperatures remained stable at Sundernagar, Bhuntar, Mandi, Dharamsala, Nahan and Solan while minimum night temperatures were near normal. Shimla recorded a low of 16 degree while Una and Dharmasala recorded minimum temperature at 20.5 degree, followed by Palampur 19.0 degree, Mandi 18.6 degree, Sundernagar 18.0 degree and Solan 16.6 degree.Nahan was hottest during the night with a low of 21.4 degree.

The local Met office has predicted more rains and thundershowers at many places during next 48 hours. Source

Blast injures 12 cruise ship passengers, Gibraltar - 31st May 2011

A fuel tank exploded in the port of Gibraltar on Tuesday near Independence of the Seas, injuring 12 passengers.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean said that the explosion occurred at 3:37 p.m. local time. Immediately after the blast, the ship retracted the gangway and moved a safe distance from the dock.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said that the 12 injured passengers have received treatment onboard for minor burns, abrasions and a dislocated finger. Two other passengers were still ashore when the incident took place and were not injured during the explosion.

The ship itself did not sustain any significant damage and is currently sailing to its next port of call. Independence is set to spend tomorrow at sea and arrive in Cannes, France, on Thursday.

The Gibraltar Chronicle reported that there were also two injuries onshore, one of them serious. The AFP added that dense black smoke could be seen from the city center.

Gabrielle Phillips, a Gibraltar resident who was at a playground with her son when the tank exploded, characterized the scene as "surreal." "At first there were gasps from the cruise ship passengers," she wrote in an e-mail to Cruise Critic. "But then they just watched on, very chilled out. My son didn't want to leave the playground, but there was a second container and I didn't want to be around for that explosion as well." Source

'Cyber attacks are an act of war': Pentagon to announce new rules of engagement against state sponsored hackers - 31st May 2011

The Pentagon has adopted a new strategy that will classify major cyber attacks as acts of war, paving the way for possible military retaliation.

The re-classification, expected to be revealed next month, is a warning to countries that may try to sabotage America's electricity grid, subways or pipelines using an internet based attack.

The move comes as the Chinese army last week announced the formation of an 'On-line Blue Army' of cyber experts to help 'defend' military and civilian infrastructure against outside attack.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal about the move, a senior military source said: 'If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.'

The newspaper, citing three officials who had seen the document, said the the strategy would maintain that the existing international rules of armed conflict - embodied in treaties and customs - would apply in cyberspace.

It said the Pentagon would likely decide whether to respond militarily to cyber attacks based on the notion of 'equivalence' - whether the attack was comparable in damage to a conventional military strike.

Such a decision would also depend on whether the precise source of the attack could be determined.

One of the problems with cyber attacks is that it is so difficult to trace their origin. Read More

Casey Anthony's Mother cries as she recalls 'finding dead girl's favourite doll in car smelling of decomposing flesh' - 31st May 2011

The distraught mother of accused child-killer Casey Anthony sobbed today as she described finding her missing grand-daughter’s favourite doll in a car reeking of decomposing flesh.

Cindy Anthony gulped and wept as she was shown a photograph of a doll and a pink and turquoise backpack belonging to her two-year-old grand-daughter Caylee, holding a handkerchief to her face as she testified before a court in Orlando, Florida.

Mrs Anthony’s daughter, Casey Anthony, 25, is on trial for the alleged June 2008 murder of Casey, whose remains were found in a swamp in December that year, wrapped in a Winnie the Pooh blanket and with duct tape over her mouth and nose.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Anthony has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

The court has heard how Anthony, a single mother who lived with her parents in Orlando, lied for a month about Casey’s whereabouts before her mother finally called in police on July 15 2008.

The day before, Mr and Mrs Anthony were surprised to receive a notice from a car-towing service informing them that it had taken possession of their daughter’s white Pontiac Sunfire, which had been found abandoned.

After they collected the vehicle from the firm’s car lot, they noticed that it smelled bad.

Mrs Anthony recalled how she told her husband George: 'Oh my gosh. What’s wrong with the car? I said it smelled like something had died in the car,' she told the court.

She broke down as she explained: 'Then I noticed Caylee’s favourite doll sitting in the car seat…Then I noticed Caylee’s backpack in the trunk of the car.'

She added: 'Caylee’s doll smelled like the car, so…I set the doll down and I went and got a Clorox wipe and I wiped the face and the hands. It smelled pretty strong.' Read More

Nelson Flecha a Double organ transplant patient shoots dead the top surgeon who saved his life - then turns gun on himself - 31st May 2011

A top surgeon has been shot dead by a disgruntled patient whose life he had saved with a double organ transplant.

Dr Dmitriy Nikitin, 41, was gunned down as he walked to his car after finishing his shift at a hospital in Orlando, Florida, where he worked as a leading multiple organ transplant surgeon.

The attacker, Nelson Flecha, spoke briefly to Dr Nikitin before pulling out a gun and shooting him several times.

The 52-year-old transplant recipient then walked to another parking level and turned the gun on himself.

The murder-suicide last Thursday was caught on CCTV cameras in the parking garage at the Florida Hospital in Orlando.

Police said Flecha had laid in wait to ambush the surgeon as he left the hospital.

Flecha was known to have been a former patient of Russian-born Dr Nikitin and had undergone a liver and kidney transplant a year ago.

Dr Nikitin, described as a 'passionate and meticulous surgeon', was married with four children, including a son aged just three.

Despite the life saving transplant, neighbours said Flecha was a 'bitter and angry man'.

He lived alone in a small flat in Orange City and never seemed happy, even though he had been given a new lease of life with the double transplant.

One neighbour said: 'Given what this guy had been given you would think he would smile, but he never did.'

Police say they are investigating whether Flecha could have been suffering from complications after the operation.

Investigators said they will ask a court to release medical records to find out more about Dr Nikitin's relationship with his killer. Read More

Mark Parrish, 37, who stabbed stranger 'Christopher Taylor' to death after seeing him argue with girlfriend is jailed for 26 years - 31st May 2011

A man who knifed a complete stranger to death after intervening in a lover's tiff has been jailed for at least 26 years.

Mark Parrish, 37, plunged a knife eight times into Christopher Taylor after seeing the 25-year-old row with his girlfriend in the street.

Parrish just happened to passing as Mr Taylor as he argued with partner Jamie Girvan outside a New Year's Eve party in Harold Hill, Essex.

The court heard Parrish had become engaged to his own girlfriend earlier the same night but lost his temper when the night 'turned sour'.

When he saw the other couple arguing, he shouted: 'Get your hands off her' before stabbing Mr Taylor in the chest, back and side in the early hours of January 1, 2004.

Barry Edwards, Mr Taylor's uncle, was also stabbed three times as he tried to fight Parrish off with a beer bottle.

Despite the attack happening more than seven years ago, Parrish was not caught because there was no scientific evidence at the scene linking him to the crime.

He was only charged last year after four former girlfriends told police he had confessed to the crime.

Parrish, who has since married and had two children, was convicted of murder and attempted murder by a jury after a two-week trial. Read More

Winnipeg Jets returning to NHL: There's money for hockey, but not for climate change, poverty, middle class wipe out, world hunger... the list goes on

A deal has been reached to bring a National Hockey League team back to Winnipeg for the first time since 1996.

A deal to move the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers to the Manitoba capital was announced Tuesday at press conference at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

As soon as the announcement was made by Mark Chipman, chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., thousands of fans shouted, cheered, clapped and whistled at two party places in the city: the city's famous intersection of Portage and Main, and The Forks marketplace.

"It's a fantastic day for the city and I'm hoping, you know, for decades on, everybody will get to experience the NHL and the economic impact and the wonderful pride that comes with being a city that has the best of the best," said Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. (read more)

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, 74 ANOTHER Strauss-Kahn? Top Egyptian banker arrested for sex assault on maid in luxury New York hotel - 31st May 2011

Another wealthy foreign businessman has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a maid in a New York hotel - just two weeks after IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was held.

Egyptian Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, 74, is accused of assaulting the woman in The Pierre hotel in the upmarket Upper East Side of Manhattan, where apartments are worth as much as $20million.

It is thought the woman was asked to deliver tissues to room 1027 on Sunday evening when Omar struck.

The former head of the Bank of Alexandria is said to have asked the 44-year-old maid to put the tissues on the table as he locked the door to the 10th-floor $900-a-night suite on 61st Street, off Fifth Avenue.

He then groped her breasts and ground his body against hers, according to the New York Daily News.

'When she came to his room, he got carried away. He started grabbing at her. He wouldn't let her go,' a hotel bellman said.

The maid told him 'I'm not up here for that' but Omar persisted.

Dressed only in his pyjamas, he asked the maid for her number to which she replied with a fake one, before letting her go.

The attack was reported to police yesterday morning after the hotel management allegedly put off dealing with the maid's initial complaint.

She is said to have complained to the manager of the hotel immediately after the alleged attack. Read More

Michael Roberts: 'We have a major problem... we're going in!' Minutes before he crashed into house, killing five - 31st May 2011

A pilot told air traffic control 'we have a major problem... we're going in' seconds before crashing into a house and killing all five people on board, an inquest heard today.

Michael Roberts radioed and asked to make an immediate return after reporting an engine vibration moments after take off in Biggin Hill, Kent.

But the doomed twin-engined Cessna Citation 500 never made it back and hit a house which burst into flames.

Coroner Roy Palmer, sitting in Bromley, Kent, said it was 'extremely fortuitous' that no one was in the house at the time and through 'great good fortune' that no one was killed on the ground.

Mr Roberts,who was supposed to be flying to Pau, south-west France, told air traffic control: 'We have a major problem, a major problem. It looks as though we're going in, we're going in.'

Witnesses reported seeing the Bermuda-registered aircraft flying low above a residential area and a playing area in Farnborough, Kent, before it crashed.

All five people on board the Cessna were killed, including Mr Roberts, 63, co-pilot Michael Chapman, 57, and passengers David Leslie, 54, Richard Lloyd, 63, and Christopher Allarton, 25.

Although an experienced pilot, Mr Chapman, from Shoreham, West Sussex, had only recently qualified on this type of aircraft, the inquest jury was told.

Nicholas Dann, of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), said Mr Roberts had considerably more experience on board such planes and it was understood that he was mentoring Mr Chapman during the flight.

Both pilots were qualified to operate on the day, March 30, 2008, and the weather conditions were good with a light westerly wind and good visibility with a cloud base of 4,000ft. Read More

'Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, 13' the child martyr Tortured: Shot, kneecapped and had genitals removed before being killed by Syria's sadistic regime

Devotedly washed and sprinkled with rose petals, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb lies prepared for burial.

But the rituals of death cannot wipe away the horrific injuries that have mutilated his body almost beyond recognition.

Nor do they blot out that Hamza - riddled with bullets, kneecapped and with neck broken and penis hacked off - has the rounded cheeks and gentle face of a child.

At 13, he is one of the youngest known victims of Syria's ruthless crackdown on protesters who have tried to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The teenager's family were told not to speak of his terrible fate. But in a pitiful act of defiance, they posted the footage of his corpse online.

The action led to his father being arrested last week. His whereabouts are unknown.

Posted on YouTube, the video is accompanied by a chilling commentary which details the worst of Hamza's dreadful wounds.

An unseen attendant tenderly shifts the scarred limbs and head so that the viewer can see each injury, including two bullets which were fired through each arm and then entered his chest.

'Look at the evidence of his torture,' the narrator urges. 'Take a look at the bruises on his face and his neck that was broken. Take a look at the bruises on his right legs

'In addition there is worse. They did not satisfy themselves with all the torturing so they cut off his genitals.'

At this point, the video is censored as the wounds are too horrific to show. Read More

Killer Cucumbers: Germany Backtracks on E.Coli Outbreak as at least 16 People have Died - 31st May 2011

German authorities have said they do not know whether Spanish cucumbers have caused the outbreak of E.Coli which has killed at least 16 people.

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Hundreds more are ill from viruses linked to the contaminated vegetables.

Health officials say the number of deaths is expected to increase in the coming days as the virus spreads across Europe.

The apparent backtrack by Germany has come after Spain and the Netherlands demanded compensation for vegetable producers who have lost money as a result of concerns over their produce.

The Spanish agricultural minister said she estimated the loss of sales in Spain to reach "more than 200 million euros a week".

Earlier, she defended the country's cucumber crop by eating the fruit on TV.

Rosa Aguilar said it is still unclear exactly when and where the vegetables were contaminated.

She tucked in to some cucumbers grown in Spain in an attempt to show they can not be blamed for one of the largest E.coli outbreaks in the world.

"The image of Spain is being damaged, Spanish producers are being damaged and the Spanish government is not prepared to accept this situation," she said.

Last week, the European Commission identified organic cucumbers from two Spanish provinces as the origin of the outbreak.

It said a third suspect batch of the vegetable originating in the Netherlands and traded in Germany was also under investigation. Read More

Activists: Inner Mongolia protests continue as China continues brutal crackdown

Chinese authorities Monday arrested dozens of demonstrators in Hohhot as protests spread to the provincial capital and other cities in Inner Mongolia despite tightened security and reports of martial law, activists told CNN.

"Several hundred people, mostly students and ordinary Hohhot residents, gathered at Xinhua Square around 11 a.m. Monday, chanting slogans and holding signs demanding legal rights for the Mongolia people," said Enghebatu Togochog, director of the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center. "Paramilitary troops dispersed the crowd after an hour and dozens were arrested."

Sources in the city told him the protest turnout was much smaller than planned, Togochog said, as officials sealed local campuses and shut down social media. He added that, in addition to Hohhot, the government has also deployed paramilitary troops into Tongliao, Chifeng and other cities, putting more areas in Inner Mongolia under de facto martial law. (read more)

Japan's economic woes continue: Unemployment rising, TEPCO stocks now at junk status

Economic data and analysis out of Japan Tuesday underscore the struggles in the world's third largest economy, and how the lack of clear policy is adding to the problems.

Japan's unemployment rate rose to 4.7% in April, up 0.1% from March. It was the first jump in unemployment in six months in the wake of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, reported Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The data did not factor in three hardest hit prefectures in the tsunami region: Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Those areas saw massive infrastructure and job losses, suggesting the actual unemployment in the country is worse than today's figures suggest.

Separate employment data showed the number of jobs available dropped for the first time in 17 months. The number of jobs available deteriorated to 0.61 in April from 0.63 in March. The figures from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show only 61 jobs are available for every 100 job seekers.

The labor department also reported average wages in Japan shrank last month for the second straight month, down 1.4% as compared to the year before. Average spending by Japanese households fell by 3.0% last month as compared to the year before. (read more)

E. coli cucumber scare: Cases 'likely to increase' says German Scientist

A deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe is expected to worsen in coming days, a senior German scientist has said.

Fourteen people have died in Germany and one woman has now died in Sweden after a trip to Germany.

"We hope the number of cases will go down but we fear it will worsen," said Oliver Grieve, of the University Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein, where many victims are being treated.

It is thought cucumbers from Spain caused the outbreak.

But Spanish officials have refused to accept the blame, saying it is still unclear exactly when and where the vegetables were contaminated.

The president of Spain's fruit and vegetable export federation has urged the government to deal with the outbreak, saying it was costing Spanish exporters $200m (£120m) a week.

Asked which countries had stopped buying Spanish produce, Jorge Brotons reportedly told a news conference: "Almost all Europe. There is a domino effect on all vegetables and fruits." (read more)

Australia suspends live cattle trade to Indonesia after severe animal cruetly

The Australian government has suspended the live export of cattle to 11 abattoirs in Indonesia, after a TV documentary showed brutal treatment of animals at the facilities.

The footage, broadcast on ABC, showed cattle being flogged and taking minutes to die after their necks were slashed.

Some MPs have called for a total ban on the trade with Indonesia, worth more than A$300m (£200m; $320m) a year.

But Indonesian officials have asked Australia not to rush into a decision.

The head of animal welfare at Indonesia's agriculture ministry, Sri Mukartini, said: "Animal welfare is a relatively new issue in Indonesia. We're still developing regulations."

'Systemic problem'

Australia's Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said he had found the images in ABC's Four Corners programme "shocking in the extreme". (read more)

U.S. dollar could 'collapse': United Nations

The United Nations warned on Wednesday of a possible crisis of confidence in, and even a “collapse” of, the U.S. dollar if its value against other currencies continued to decline.

In a mid-year review of the world economy, the UN economic division said such a development, stemming from the falling value of foreign dollar holdings, would imperil the global financial system.

The report, an update of the UN “World Economic Situation and Prospects 2011” report first issued in December, noted that the dollar exchange rate against a basket of other key currencies had reached its lowest level since the 1970s.

This trend, it said, had recently been driven in part by interest rate differentials between the United States and other major economies and growing concern about the sustainability of the U.S. public debt, half of which is held by foreigners.

“As a result, further (expected) losses of the book value of the vast foreign reserve holdings could trigger a crisis of confidence in the reserve currency, which would put the entire global financial system at risk,” it said.

The 17-page report referred at another point to the “still looming risk of a collapse of the United States dollar.”

Rob Vos, a senior UN economist involved with the report, said if emerging markets “massively start selling off dollars, then you can have this risk of a slide in the dollar. (read more)

Gulf oil spill effects may be seen in diseased fish

Some of the first potentially chronic effects from last year's BP oil disaster — including diseased fish — may be starting to unfold as scientists review their first year of research.

Studies analyzing reef fish, such as snapper and grouper, off the Florida Panhandle indicate that some fish now have grayish-brown lesions, strange parasitic boils and fin rot. Some fish documented on reefs a year before the oil disaster have disappeared.

It is too early to say that oil is the cause or that the number of diseased fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico is higher this year compared with the past. But the problems, noticed months ago by fishermen, prompted state scientists to investigate.

Florida scientists, funded by the Florida Institute of Oceanography last year through a $10 million BP grant, met at the University of Central Florida Wednesday for the first of a two-day session to discuss their studies so far. Scientists from across the state, including Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, are involved in the research to learn how the spill changed the Gulf and strategies for preventing future problems.

Fishermen have reported snapper lesions for months. Will Patterson, an associate professor of biology at the University of West Florida, is among the first scientists to document and report the problem. His research team also has documented diseased fish with remote underwater cameras. (read more)

Hank Investigates: "Linda Green" Mortgage Documents Fraud

Tonight -- an exclusive investigation -- if you've ever bought or sold a need to hear this. Hank found a signature buried deep in your mortgage documents could be a ticking time bomb for thousands of Massachusetts homeowners. For those in foreclosure: it could be a lifesaver. It's a shocking, amazing, unbelievable story. Hank Investigates.
This Nantucket home is Bob Jepson's most treasured possession. He built it himself and cared for it for 40 years. When hard times hit--he almost lost it in foreclosure.

But for now--Bob gets to keep it.

Bob Jepson, Homeowner

"It's fabulous, it's like someone just giving me a million dollars, it's like hitting the lottery, it's like I can regain my old life.

Marie's home in Rhode Island was also in foreclosure--but now the bank's agreed not to kick her out.

Marie Medeiros, Homeowner

"I don't have to uproot my kids. That's, that's a blessing."

What Marie calls a blessing is really a signature - this signature that reads Linda Green.

We found those two words are saving some people from foreclosure but putting other homeowners at risk.

There's a Linda Green signature on one of Bob's mortgage documents and on one of Marie's and on all these documents from mortgages on other people's homes.

You can see they're all the same name - but they're not written by the same person.


"So what does that mean?"

John O'Brien, Register, Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds

"It means as far as I'm concerned, they're fraudulent documents." (read more)

The Door is About to Shut for Americans

Anyone aware of the US Government's real financial situation knows that time is running out. The Government has $15.5 trillion in admitted debts but those debts, when calculated under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), or 'honest accounting', is over $70 trillion. $70 trillion divided by 300 million+ Americans works out to $233,000 per person in US Federal Government debt and obligations. Or nearly $1 million per family of four.

That does not included personal debt, state debt or municipal debt.

This debt plus an economy that has been completely hollowed out by the Federal Reserve system ensures that there is no way the US Government can ever pay off this debt. And, everyone knows it.

The indications that the US Government is moving very quickly to enact any legal measure or fine against Americans and to make it nearly impossible for any American to escape payment to pay for their sins are everywhere.

We recently commented on how It Is now Easier to Enter the US Than It Is To Leave. Customs agents and cash sniffing dogs stand on guard at most international US airports checking to make sure no one has more than $10,000 in cash without declaring it. The standard response to this is: "They are only making it difficult for criminals to move about and to transfer money".

Well, the problem is, the US Government is moving very quickly to make it so almost everyone is seen as a criminal in the eyes of the US legal system. (read more)

UPDATE: Handcuffed and body slammed by police... for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial - 31st May 2011

A U.S. Parks Police officer who 'bodyslammed' a dancing protester - hurling him to the ground before choking him - is being investigated after footage of the incident appeared on Youtube.

The man was part of a group of dancers taking part in a 'flashmob' demonstration at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington on May 28.

They were protesting a ruling by a federal judge, made in January this year, that dancing at the memorial constituted an illegal demonstration and not an expression of free speech.

Parks Police officers are seen manhandling the demonstrators - some of whom are punched as they lie on the ground being put into handcuffs.

The video then shows a dancing man wearing a white T-shirt with the word 'disobey' on it being grabbed round the waist and lifted into the air by an officer who then throws him heavily down onto the stone floor. Read More

A woman was arrested and although charges against her were dropped, one of the other protesters filed a suit against the U.S. Park Service, claiming her arrest was illegal.

But U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled that the dancers were taking part in an illegal act.

He wrote: 'The purpose of the memorial is to publicize Thomas Jefferson's legacy, so that critics and supporters alike may contemplate his place in history.

'Prohibiting demonstrations is a reasonable means of ensuring a tranquil and contemplative mood at the Jefferson Memorial.'

Robert Nicholson a Police officer sacked after 'inappropriate relationship' with care home girl, 14, he met when she was in custody - 31st May 2011

A Scotland Yard officer who had an 'inappropriate relationship' with a 14-year-old girl he met when she was in custody has been sacked.

Police Constable Robert Nicholson bombarded the girl with hundreds of texts and messages on Facebook which became sexually explicit.

The vulnerable girl - who lived in a care home - met up with the officer, then aged 27, and spent 'several hours' with him before she was reported missing.

The officer, who worked in the custody suite with suspects, led the girl to believe he was her boyfriend, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said.

Deborah Glass, the IPCC commissioner for London, described it as a 'disgraceful abuse of position'.

During their relationship PC Nicholson used the police database to access the girl's records.

He first met her when she was arrested on October 6, 2009, and held at Bethnal Green Police Station. The following day he sent her 17 text messages.

The relationship came to light in December 2009 after the girl was reported as missing from her care home.

The pair exchanged hundreds of messages before PC Nicholson drove from his home in Colchester to meet her in Romford in December 2009.

Staff reported her missing and one of the girl's friends told staff she was with a police officer.

The disciplinary panel was also told that several days before the December meeting Police Constable Nicholson had not taken any action when he was told the girl and her friend were travelling to Southend to meet a 'significantly older' man.

Ms Glass said: 'The girl told us that she trusted this man because he was a police officer.

'We expect the police to protect us and our families, yet PC Nicholson's actions were, from the outset, a disgraceful abuse of his position. Read More

Kazakhstan: Over FOUR HUNDRED of Rare Saiga Antelopes Found Dead - 31st may 2011

Hundreds of endangered antelopes have been found dead in western Kazakhstan, dealing another blow to conservation efforts to save these long-nosed creatures, Kazakhstan Today reports.

A total of 442 saigas – a distinctive creature with a long, humped nose that allows it to filter air during the dusty summer months and breathe warm air during the freezing winters – have been found dead, West Kazakhstan Region Governor Baktykozha Izmukhambetov told a cabinet meeting on May 31.

He said the deaths of 360 does and 82 calves may have been caused by an outbreak of pasteurellosis, a disease that attacks the lungs and which killed nearly 12,000 saigas in an epidemic last year. Scientists are also investigating whether “some sort of poisoning from the flora, which is to say from the grass, is taking place,” the governor added.

The saiga, which roams in remote areas of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia and Russia, is listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

The World Wildlife Fund identifies loss of habitat and poaching as threats to its existence: The horn of the male saiga is prized in Chinese medicine for use as a painkiller and antibiotic, creating a thriving and illegal trade.

Kazakhstan has the largest numbers of saigas in the world, but a population which numbered over a million in the 1970s has been decimated, and last year officials estimated it at 85,000. Read More

Firefighters Lose Bid To Save Beached Whale on the Northern Coast of England - 31st May 2011

A desperate rescue mission to save a beached whale on the northern coast of England has failed.

The stricken mammal, which was around 30ft long, was found on the beach in Redcar early on Tuesday.

Cleveland Police were alerted and marine experts rushed to the scene to try and help the creature.

It was partially submerged on the beach and in distress. Firefighters used their jets to spray it in a bid to keep it alive.

However, a Cleveland Fire Brigade spokesman confirmed later that the whale had died.

Hundreds of people had stopped at the beach on their way to work after realising the whale had been beached.

Many had posted pictures of the mammal on Twitter.

Police confirmed it was a sperm whale and asked people to stay away from the beach until the mammal was removed by environmental health officers.

The local tourist office said: "Despite efforts by RSPCA, RNLI and the fire brigade, the rescue bid to save the whale stranded on Redcar Beach has been unsuccessful." Source

Hospital says woman has died in Sweden from E.coli infection, first fatality outside Germany - 31st May 2011

STOCKHOLM - Hospital says woman has died in Sweden from E.coli infection, first fatality outside Germany. Source

Death toll is now 15 with hundreds more in Hospital.

Egyptian general admits 'virginity checks' conducted on protesters so they Couldnt Claim they had been Raped - 31st May 2011

A senior Egyptian general admits that "virginity checks" were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.

The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest. It claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

At that time, Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or "virginity tests."

But now a senior general who asked not to be identified said the virginity tests were conducted and defended the practice.

"The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine," the general said. "These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs)."

The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn't later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.

"We didn't want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren't virgins in the first place," the general said. "None of them were (virgins)."

This demonstration occurred nearly a month after Egypt's longtime President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid a wave of popular and mostly peaceful unrest aimed at his ouster and the institution of democratic reforms. Read More

Alert Raised to Level THREE after Deadly Gas started spewing out of Mount Dieng , Central JAVA, Indonesia - 31st May 2011

Authorities have raised the alert level for Mount Dieng in Central Java and have ordered the evacuation of residents living near the area after the volcano began spewing poisonous gas.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said on Monday that the alert status was raised from level 2 to level 3, which meant the volcano was showing signs of erupting.

He said scientists recorded increasing volcanic activity on Sunday. “There was phreatic eruption [a steam eruption without lava] which happened at the Timbang crater, one of the active craters,” Sutopo said.

He said the crater spouted jets of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide — both colorless and odorless.

Mount Dieng has six craters: Sileri, Siglagah, Condrodimuko, Sikidang, Sinila and Timbang. Scientists say the latter two are the most active.

Sutopo added that the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG) had declared a one-kilometer radius around Timbang off-limits. Several villages were covered by the danger zone.

“We have evacuated 1,179 people from Simbar and Sumber villages to [a village in] Batur subdistrict,” Sutopo said.

PVMBG chief Surono said on Monday that Mount Dieng’s eruption was marked by the emission of gas, which if inhaled in large amounts could be fatal.

He said that in 1979, CO2 from the Timbang crater killed 149 people. During the rainy season, the greenhouse gas stays close to the surface of the earth, making it deadlier, Surono added.

Muhammad Djasri, the Banjarnegara district chief, said the government on Monday declared a state of emergency in the area through to June 12.

Sarkono, head of Batur subdistrict, said that although residents in the danger zone had already been evacuated, many villagers were sneaking back to the Mount Dieng area to tend to their land and livestock. Source