Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand rocked by 5.2 magnitude earthquake; possible 6.0; aftershocks occurring


Update: Strange rumbling hum coming from skies over Florida in March -- reports coming in from other parts of the world of similar occurences

Tiny village is latest victim of the 'The hum': a mysterious sound on very edge of perception has driven thousands of people around the world crazy

Now a tiny English village is the latest community to claim to be being hit by the phenomenon known as "the hum".

Residents of Woodland, in County Durham, claim that every night a noise permeates the air similar to the throb of a car engine.

It is sometimes so strong that it even shakes the bed of one of the householders.

But no matter how hard they look, the community cannot find the source of the problem and, at their wits end, have called in the council to investigate.

The 300-strong population is the latest around the world to be hit by the rumble which has in the past led to wild conspiracy theories blaming it on UFOs, government experiments and abandoned mine shafts.

It is so widespread that it has even featured on the television show The X Files.

It's most famous occurrence was in Bristol in the 1970s when more than a thousand people complained of the consistent drone causing nosebleeds, sleeplessness and headaches.

It vanished as mysteriously as it arrived and was never explained.

Residents of Woodland, a community consisting of one main street surrounded by farmland, claims their version of "the hum" is constant from midnight until 4am every night and stops them sleeping.

There are no pylons, factories or abandoned mines nearby.

The noise started about two months ago and has been plaguing the isolated village every day since. (read more)

WHO: E. coli death toll rises to 35

Four more people have died in Germany, health officials said Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths from an E. coli outbreak to 35.

All but one of the deaths were in Germany, with the other occurring in Sweden, according to the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

The number of people infected with E. coli as of Sunday was 3,256, according to the European center (ECDC). Of those, 812 have the severe form of the intestinal illness.

All but five people had traveled to or lived in Germany during the incubation period for infection, typically three to four days after exposure, the WHO said.

German authorities have indicated that food items including bean sprouts and other vegetables originating from a producer in Lower Saxony, Germany, are the most likely source of the infection. German health authorities have declared that all food products originating from the producer be pulled from the market, according to the ECDC.

The agricultural ministry in Lower Saxony said Sunday that it is still not clear how sprouts from a farm in the state became contaminated with the bacteria. (read more)

Dubai's financial crisis laid bare as 217 new properties axed

The extent of Dubai's financial crisis has been laid bare after the Arab state revealed that 217 property transactions were axed or put on hold in the wake of the troubles hitting the country.

The revelations came as Dubai laid out plans for a bond issue, in part designed to restore its finances in the wake of the crisis.

The bond documents showed that the country's real estate watchdog cancelled the registered real estate projects over the past two years after the bursting of the property bubble.

The Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) determined that the properties were unlikely to be completed after a review of 450 projects.

The Gulf Arab emirate, known for extravagant projects such as the artificial islands Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, is planning a benchmark sovereign dollar bond issue this week.

Dubai's total value of real estate transactions dropped to 119.4 billion dirhams (£20bn) last year compared with 152.9 billion dirhams in 2009. (read more)

Syrian army 'cracking' amid crackdown

The escalating military offensive in northwest Syria began after what corroborating accounts said was a shoot-out between members of the military secret police in Jisr al-Shughur, some of whom refused to open fire on unarmed protesters.

A growing number of first-hand testimonies from defected soldiers give a rare but dramatic insight into the cracks apparently emerging in Syria’s security forces as the unrelenting assault on unarmed protesters continues.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Turkey, having crossed the border on Friday night, an activist based in Jisr al-Shughur and trusted by experienced local reporters described how a funeral on June 4 for a man shot dead by plain-clothes security a day earlier grew into a large anti-government protest.

"As the demonstration passed the headquarters of the military secret police they opened fire right away and killed eight people," the activist, who was among the crowd, said. "But some of the secret police refused to open fire and there were clashes between them. It was complete chaos."

The following day the activist and others went back to the military police building having heard explosions coming from the area the evening before. They found dozens of bodies, including that of the military police chief, identified by his ID card.

All foreign media is banned from reporting in Syria so it is impossible to verify the account firsthand, though it tallies with other testimonies from residents of the area that clashes between security forces had taken place.

Since then, President Bashar al-Assad has poured dozens of tanks and thousands of troops into northwest Syria, with the military, thought to be led by Assad’s brother Maher, vowing to "restore security" after it said 120 security men were killed in Jisr al-Shughur by "armed gangs."

However, state-run Syria TV admitted that gunmen "in military uniform" were responsible for the killing of the 120 security personnel, with SANA, the official news agency, claiming the assailants had stolen the uniforms and that residents were now pleading for the army to intervene. (read more)

China navy to stage drills in western Pacific

China said Thursday it would conduct naval training drills in the western Pacific later this month, state media reported, amid lingering fears among Beijing's neighbours about its military ambitions.

The exercises will take place in international waters and are "not targeted at any specific country", the defence ministry said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

The ministry did not offer further information about the location of what it called a "regular" drill, nor did it say which ships would participate.

Military observers are keenly awaiting the launch of the country's first aircraft carrier, which is currently based in the northeast port city of Dalian.

Earlier this week, a top official in China's People's Liberation Army gave the first confirmation of the existence of the carrier, in an exclusive interview with the Hong Kong Commercial Daily.

Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the PLA, said the 300-metre (990-foot) refurbished Soviet carrier "is being built, but it has not been completed", without elaborating.

Qi Jianguo, another PLA general staff official, told the newspaper that the carrier would not enter other nations' territories, in accordance with Beijing's defensive military strategy.

"All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers -- they are symbols of a great nation," Qi was quoted as saying.

China is involved in a number of simmering marine territorial disputes with its neighbours. (read more)

North Korea says may disclose tape of secret meeting with South Korea

North Korea threatened Thursday to disclose a voice recording of a secret meeting with South Korea, at which it says Seoul "begged" for summit talks.

The North last week disclosed the May meeting in Beijing and says the South proposed holding a series of three summits to ease months of high tensions. It rejected the offer.

The South admitted holding such a meeting but said its neighbour was misrepresenting its purpose, a claim denied Thursday by the North's powerful National Defence Commission (NDC).

The NDC described the South's account of the Beijing talks as a "sheer lie" and said it would disclose a recording of the entire conversation if Seoul refused to speak the truth.

"The (South Korean President) Lee Myung-Bak group of traitors would be well advised to make a clean breast of the contact before it becomes too late," it said.

Pyongyang in the past fortnight has made a series of verbal attacks and threats against Seoul's conservative government, vowing to have no more dealings with it.

Last Friday its military threatened retaliation unless Seoul punishes troops who used pictures of Pyongyang's ruling dynasty as rifle-range targets.

The South said the practice was not officially approved and had now been banned. (read more)

World powers deeply concerned over Iran nuclear programme

World powers expressed "deeper concern" Thursday about the intention behind Iran's controversial atomic drive in face of its refusal to answer questions about possible military dimensions to the work.

A day after Iran announced it was expanding uranium enrichment -- the most senstive part of its nuclear programme -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States expressed their concerns in a joint statement to a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board of governors here.

"Iran's consistent failure to comply with its obligations under six UN Security Council resolutions and to meet the requirements of 10 IAEA board of governors resolutions has deepened concerns raised by the international community with Iran's nuclear intentions," the joint statement said.

The so-called P5+1 Group noted that IAEA chief Yukiya Amano had written to the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, "reiterating concerns about the existence of possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme."

It was vital that Iran clarify the issues and provide "prompt access to a range of places, individuals, and information associated with the PMD issue," they said, referring to the possible military dimensions.

Earlier, the US ambassador to the IAEA, Glyn Davies, hit out at Iran's plans to triple its uranium enrichment capacity in defiance of multiple UN sanctions.

The move was "the most recent brazen example of (Iran's) deepening non-compliance" with its international obligations, Davies said. (read more)

NATO plans force to respond to cyber attacks

NATO wants to beef up its cyber defence capabilities with the creation of a special task force to detect and respond to Internet attacks, an alliance expert said Wednesday at a conference on cyber security here.

"NATO is planning to establish the Cyber Red Team (...) that would provide a significant contribution to the improvement of NATO's cyber defence capability," Luc Dandurand and expert with NATO's C3 Agency told delegates to the alliance's third annual cyber defence conference.

The new NATO cyber force could be involved in simulating threats and controlling readiness to response, gathering and using public information from open sources, scanning and probing networks as well as conducting denial-of-service attacks against specific services or networks, according to Dandurand.

The Symantec cyber security firm recently reported that web-based attacks in 2010 were up 93 percent from 2009.

"The need for such a team is obvious," Dandurand said, adding it would primarily be tasked with detecting, responding to and assessing the "damage cyber attacks can cause in a military sense."

Dandurand also highlighted legal and privacy issues that must be addressed before NATO's cyber force can take shape. (read more)

China concerned at Korean tensions: US envoy

China wants to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and was surprised and concerned when its ally Pyongyang abruptly shut the door on dialogue with Seoul, a senior US official said Friday.

Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, was speaking in South Korea at the end of an Asian tour which also took him to China, Mongolia and Indonesia.

North Korea announced on May 30 it would no longer have dealings with the South's conservative government, further raising tensions.

Two days afterwards, it disclosed apparent secret approaches from Seoul for summit talks and poured scorn on them.

Last Friday the North's military threatened retaliation unless Seoul punishes troops who used pictures of Pyongyang's ruling dynasty as rifle-range targets. The practice has been halted. (read more)

India tests nuclear-capable missile

India tested a short-range nuclear-capable missile along its eastern coast on Thursday, an official said, as part of the nation's efforts to build up its atomic deterrent.

The surface-to-surface Prithvi-II missile was fired from a range in the eastern state of Orissa and hit its target in the Bay of Bengal successfully, the defence ministry official said.

The Prithvi, which is domestically built and developed, can carry nuclear or conventional payloads and has already been inducted into the armed services.

India's Defence Research Development Organisation is developing a series of missiles as part of the country's deterrent strategy against neighbouring Pakistan and China which also have nuclear weapons.

The fourth test of the nine-metre (30-foot) Prithvi-II was a routine part of training exercises for the Indian armed forces, defence officials said.

With a striking range of 200 miles (350 kilometres), the missile is capable of carrying a 1,000-kilogram (2,200-pound) warhead. (read more)

Mass brawl at 30,000 feet sees 76-year-old passenger arrested over 30-minute fight on Virgin flight to Barbados

A man aged 76 and two members of his family were arrested after a ‘vicious’ punch-up on a plane that took cabin crew 30 minutes to break up.

Derek Edmond, his daughter Zoe King and her husband Martin were on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Gatwick to Barbados when a Danish family sitting nearby accused them of being too noisy.

Police said Mrs King, 46, was celebrating her birthday and she and her family had been drinking for much of the eight-hour flight.

After the Danes complained, other passengers watched in horror as Mr King, 49, and his wife allegedly swapped punches with a family sitting in front of them as flight crew tried to pull them apart.

The pilot radioed ahead for the flight to be met by police and the Kings and Mr Edmond were arrested when it landed at Grantley Adams Airport. (read more)

Bilderberg Members Confronted by Protesters Outside Security Perimeter -- what are those rich folk up to?

Astounding footage has emerged of top Bilderberg members being confronted by protesters as they walked on foot down the mountain road towards the Suvretta Hotel. Bilderberg attendees rarely ever venture outside of hotel grounds which is why this represents such a shocking development.

Bilderbergers seen in the video clip include Peter Mandelson, Google founder Eric Schmidt, Peer Steinbr├╝ck, Franco Bernabe, Jacob Wallenberg, and Thomas Enders.

In one of the scenes, a protester explains how he had a conversation with a Bilderberg member who arrogantly told him that Bilderberg were busy “setting their agenda” and that demonstrators shouldn’t bother them.

Bilderberger Thomas Enders tells one protester, “don’t worry about it,” when he complains about Bilderberg’s undemocratic foundation. (read more)

Germany's Hospitals Reach Limits in E.coli Crisis

Blood specialist Dr. Cay-Uwe von Seydewitz has been making his rounds 16 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, since the outbreak of a deadly bacterial epidemic.

The wing he's in charge of was a construction site a month ago -- hastily converted back into useable space to keep up with the spike in patients needing massive blood plasma exchanges to try and purge their systems of the toxins from the aggressive, previously unknown form of E. coli.

Like other doctors, nurses and hospital staff around Germany, for von Seydewitz taking a day off has not been an option.

"If you have a new illness, it's important to have the same doctor from the start to the end to see how it changes over time," said von Seydewitz, wearing blue hospital scrubs and sporting a 5 o'clock shadow at midday, standing near stacks of supplies in brown boxes still on their pallets. (read more)

Hamas Summer Camps Train Next Generation Terrorists

Hamas is reporting record turnouts for its summer camps for children in 2011.

The 'summer camps,' combining Islamic indoctrination, paramilitary training, and social activities are set to begin again this year as United Nation’s summer camps, considered competition by Hamas, are being openly denigrated by jihadists.

Children and adolescents are an important target demographic for Hamas, from which its future army of terrorists will be recruited. Summer camps are an important means for indoctrinating Gaza's youth with Hamas' jihadist ideology.

In 2010 Hamas ran camps for an estimated 100,000 campers, a number similar to 2009. The Islamic Jihad terror group ran 51 camps with 10,000 participating boys and girls.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan reported the objectives of the camps were to raise a generation of children with 'genuine Islamic values.'

"Children working for the interests of their homeland and to educate them to the culture of the Islamic faith so they will remember their goals, including Jerusalem and the prisoners," Radwan said

In addition to indoctrination, Hamas terrorists give children paramilitary training. Banners are hung on the walls with slogans extolling jihad and 'death for the sake of Allah.'

Other prominent motifs for this year are solidarity with Turkey in connection with the Mavi Marmara flotilla, a call for the release of Hamas prisoners (campers carried posters with their pictures) and organized expressions of hatred for Israel and the Jewish people. (read more)

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake ERITREA - ETHIOPIA REGION - 12th June 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Eritrea, Ethiopia Region at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:37:07 UTC Sunday 12th June 2011. The epicenter was 128 km (79 miles) West Nort West of Assab. Eritrea No reports of Damage as yet.

4.5 Earthquake 16:09:30 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 2.9 km
4.7 Earthquake 16:12:03 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10 km
4.8 Earthquake 16:24:44 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10 km
4.3 Earthquake 16:33:12 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10 km
4.8 Earthquake 17:18:10 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 9.9 km
4.7 Earthquake 17:47:21 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10 km
4.5 Earthquake 18:01:30 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10.1 km Ethiopia
5.0 Earthquake 19:21:45 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10 km Ethiopia
4.7 Earthquake 19:37:43 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10.1 km
4.8 Earthquake 19:44:16 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 9.9 km
5.7 Earthquake 20:32:41 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 10.1 km
5.7 Earthquake 21:03:23 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 9.9 km
4.5 Earthquake 21:37:14 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 15 km
4.6 Earthquake 21:41:57 UTC Sunday 12th June - Depth 15.3 km

UPDATE: The Location of this sudden swarm of Shallow Earthquakes are close to the Co-ordinates of Erta Ale the 'Balsaltic Shield VOLCANO also Known as 'The Gateway to Hell'

There was a major Euption on the 25th September 2005 which killed 250 head of lifestock and forced thousands of nearby residents to flee. Further lava flow caused hundreds more to flee during August of 2007.

The Lava Lake on Erta Ale appeared in the Movie 'Clash of the Titans'

D-FOX -- Please contact us if you can read this.

To D-fox: if you're reading this, please contact us at It's important -- we believe.

Video: Huge Solar Flare from Sun Eruption - 7th June 2011

Man-size meteor lights up Georgia sky Brightest meteor yet recorded by NASA's fireball-observing network - 2nd June 2011

A brilliant meteor blazed through the sky above Georgia recently, and two NASA fireball-monitoring cameras caught the dramatic display on video.

The meteor was caused by a human-size chunk of an unknown comet. It was the brightest meteor yet recorded by NASA's fireball-observing network — based at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. — in its nearly three years of operation, officials said.

The 6-foot-wide (1.8-meter) space rock barrelled into Earth's atmosphere at 10:47 p.m. EDT on May 20 (0247 GMT on May 21), about 66 miles (106 kilometers) above the city of Macon, Ga.

Two NASA all-sky cameras, both located in northwest Georgia, tracked the resulting meteor and captured it on video. Analysis of the videos allowed scientists to calculate the basics of the object's speed, trajectory, mass and orbit.

When it entered the atmosphere, the comet chunk was traveling northwest at about 86,000 mph (138,404 kph), researchers said. At this velocity, the boulder-size "dirty snowball" possessed an energy or striking power somewhere between 500 and 1,000 tons of TNT.

But that striking power was never realized on the ground. The Macon meteoroid was too small, and made of the wrong kind of stuff, to survive the trip through Earth's atmosphere, researchers said. Indeed, the video shows four distinct flares emanating from the comet chunk as it broke apart multiple times. Read More

Locust swarm prompts state of emergency in Astrakhan region, Russia - 12th June 2011

A state of emergency has been declared in Russia's southeastern Astrakhan region where locusts are swarming through farmlands, devouring crops, the local branch of the emergencies ministry said on Sunday.

More than 8,000 hectares of land have been affected by the swarms. The emergencies ministry seeks to tackle the locusts. So far, 265 hectares of land have been treated with pesticides. Source

Weekly announcements -- June 12, 2011

Hello everyone! We hope you're all enjoying your summers so far, unlike the other half of the world, which is flooded, on fire, and being visited by Hillary Clinton.

You might have noticed that we've added some new story categories, including "Germs and Plagues", "Wars and Rumours", and a new "Disaster Free Zone" which will feature stories of interest that do not directly or tangentially relate to a coming crisis. We thought these new categories would make it easier to find stories, and would increase what we'd be able to report to you on.

As always, we invite people to post their links and stories in our forum, and thank you for all your contributions and visits!

-- Matt & Lynsey

Make sure you access our proper domain name,, for more instructions as to where to find our new location in the event of an emergency. We have backed up all our posts and are prepared should such an event occur.

If you're in Europe, you can similarly find us through:

Our Twitter feed for major breaking news and emergency instructions is:

Our discussion forum can be found at:

Contact us with questions, comments and stories of your own at:

Syrian unrest: 'Heavy fighting' in Jisr al-Shughour

Syrian government forces have advanced into the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, state media say, as part of a widespread government crackdown.

TV reported heavy fighting with armed groups, two dead and large numbers of arrests, while witnesses reported an attack using tanks and helicopters.

The government says it is trying to restore order after 120 security personnel were killed last week.

Residents say they died after a mutiny and fighting between security forces.

The government advance sent more people fleeing towards the Turkish border, to join thousands who have already crossed.

BBC correspondents on the border say the number of those who have crossed is probably now much higher than the official figure of 4,300 given 24 hours ago. Witnesses said some 10,000 were sheltering in the area.

US officials say the government crackdown has created a humanitarian crisis, and called for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to be given access to the north. (read more)

Saudi Arabia executions on the rise, Amnesty International says

Saudi Arabia must halt the death penalty, as state-sanctioned beheadings increased exponentially in the past six weeks, the London based Amnesty International said Saturday.

"The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt this disturbing pattern, which puts the country at odds with the worldwide trend against the death penalty," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a press release.

About 27 people were executed in Saudi Arabia this year so far, the same as the total number of people executed in 2010. Fifteen were executed in May, AI announced.

Five of those executed this year are foreign nationals. Amnesty International has previously documented the disproportionately high number of executions of foreign nationals from developing countries.

About 100 prisoners, many foreigners, are on death row, Luther said.

Prisoners are not allowed legal resources that would allow them due process, AI claims. (read more)

200 new forest fires appear in Siberia: Fears of fast-spreading deadly fires like in 2010 arise in Russia

Russia sent emergency fire-fighting aircraft over Siberia's Taiga forests and residential areas to battle 200 new wildfires raging over the past 24 hours, the Emergency Ministry said Saturday.

Twenty-two major ones have been reported, officials said. Since summer began, there have more than 5,500 forest fire outbreaks in Siberia, the government agency reported, with 210,000 hectares (518,921 acres) ablaze, three times more than in 2010.

Russian Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is heading to the affected areas, said the most devastating fires are now raging in remote parts of Central and Eastern Siberia, as well as the Far East.

Shoigu said there are concerns of a repeat of last year's disaster, when a persistent drought and fires raged across the country, claiming more than 60 lives, destroying one-third of all crops and forcing Russia to ban grain exports.

"Wildfires (in Siberia) are greater in area compared to last year's fires by more than two times," he told Russian State TV on Saturday.

An I1-76 plane, bases at Bratsk airport, has carried out five flights to drop tons of water over the Chunsk district. An amphibious Be-200 and a Mi-8 helicopter are also engaged, Itar-Tass reported.

Siberia Gov. Dmitry Mezentsev has declared a state of emergency in the entire area as the situation appeared to be increasingly "deteriorating," the agency reported. (read more)

U.S. Economy Hurtles Toward System Failure

The combination of $trillion bond fraud, dependence on inflating home equity for economic development, oversized cars, oil dependence, constant market intervention, insolvent banks, insolvent homes, outsourced industry, endless war, budget deadlock amidst runaway deficits, raided US gold treasury, mammoth future benefit obligations, and handing over the keys at USDept Treasury to Goldman Sachs has left the United States to fend off systemic failure. The creeping price inflation that stems from USFed hyper monetary inflation and total ignorance on basics of capitalism like business formation have left the US vulnerable to disorder and chaos. The chaos in fact grows with the passage of time and the ruin of money, against a background of a cruel middle class squeeze. With one citizen in seven on food stamps and over 22% of the population jobless, the sunset of the American Empire is well along. The banker oligarchs are gradually killing the nation, its democracy, and its wealth engines during a sustained strangulation process.

Underwater Nation that Cannot Swim

Comments by economists continue to center on consumer spending and desired job growth, without any mention of business investment and reduced regulatory impediments. The nation has no clue among leaders to engineer a recovery. Tragically, it is not possible unless the housing market rebounds convincingly, and unless the big US banks are liquidated. The negative momentum is so grotesque. It is like a man sliding backwards on a steep icy street with no objects nearby to grab. The remarkable fact in my view is that so many trained economists and market mavens are shocked that the USEconomy is entering another recession. They must have considered Clunker Car program, New Homebuyer Tax Credit initiative, and the General Motors bailout all to be genius concepts. They seem poorly trained in capitalism, and well trained in asset inflation management laced with public indoctrination. To the sound money crowd, the degradation was obvious. The landscape is taking on the same look at mid-2008 when all hell broke loose on the financial and economic fronts. It should not be so surprising, since nothing has been fixed. (read more)

This Is How the Dollar Dies

The research I've laid out in the past few days (here, here, and here) suggests interest rates are inevitably headed higher. But how much higher?
Over the long term, the average real rate of interest on U.S. sovereign debt has been around 2% a year. The latest Producer Price Index (which we believe is more reliable than the Consumer Price Index) shows price inflation is currently 6.8% annually. Add the 2% real return we believe investors expect, and you get 10-year Treasury bonds yielding 8.8%.
Currently, those bonds yield only about 3%.
This implies a huge collapse of bond prices – a collapse of more than 50%.
A collapse of that magnitude would completely wipe out the stock market. It would be a massacre.
No one is expecting any of this. Everyone believes something like this could never happen. Yet this rise in interest rates would only carry us to the average return bond investors have earned over the last several decades. It doesn't even consider the kind of panic selling that would ensue.
In truth, rates might go considerably higher than this for one fundamental reason. If the bond market crashes, investors would begin doubting America's ability to finance its debts, never mind trying to repay them. As rates rise, the cost of maintaining our debts would grow substantially – perhaps doubling.
Keep in mind, the U.S. Treasury currently pays only 1.4% annually to borrow $14 trillion. Yes, 10-year Treasurys currently yield around 3%. But because the Treasury has issued so much more short-term debt than long-term debt, U.S. borrowing costs are lower.
No, all our debts wouldn't "reset" to higher rates overnight. But the losses in the bond market, the losses in the stock market, and the resulting decline in business activity would cause a lot of our creditors to worry about our ability to afford higher interest payments. (read more)

Decline and fall of the American empire

America clocked up a record last week. The latest drop in house prices meant that the cost of real estate has fallen by 33% since the peak – even bigger than the 31% slide seen when John Steinbeck was writing The Grapes of Wrath.

Unemployment has not returned to Great Depression levels but at 9.1% of the workforce it is still at levels that will have nerves jangling in the White House. The last president to be re-elected with unemployment above 7.2% was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The US is a country with serious problems. Getting on for one in six depend on government food stamps to ensure they have enough to eat. The budget, which was in surplus little more than a decade ago, now has a deficit of Greek-style proportions. There is policy paralysis in Washington.

The assumption is that the problems can be easily solved because the US is the biggest economy on the planet, the only country with global military reach, the lucky possessor of the world's reserve currency, and a nation with a proud record of re-inventing itself once in every generation or so.

All this is true and more. US universities are superb, attracting the best brains from around the world. It is a country that pushes the frontiers of technology. So, it may be that the US is about to emerge stronger than ever from the long nightmare of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The strong financial position of American companies could unleash a wave of new investment over the next couple of years.

Let me put an alternative hypothesis. America in 2011 is Rome in 200AD or Britain on the eve of the first world war: an empire at the zenith of its power but with cracks beginning to show. (read more)

"Screech Machine" Could Drive Teens Away From Hastings Park

The southeastern Minnesota town of Hastings may try to solve a vandalism problem in an out-of-the way park by installing a noise machine to repel teenagers.

The city is considering installing the SonicScreen technology in Cari Park, a frequent target for vandals who are assumed to be teenagers.

SonicScreen emits a high-pitched screech at a frequency young people can hear but older folks with less-sensitive hearing can’t.

“For young people, it sounds like 15 or 20 people dragging their nails down a chalkboard,” said Jeff Webber, owner of Webber Recreational Design, which would install the device.

Webber told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that if Hastings installs the SonicScreen — made by MiracleTech Security of New Jersey — it would be the first such system installed in Minnesota.

The technology is similar to devices designed to repel rodents by emitting noises at frequencies humans can’t hear. (read more)

Chronic unemployment worse than Great Depression

There is an unfortunate adage for the unemployed: The longer folks are out of a job, the longer it takes them to find a new one.

CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports that the chronically unemployed face the hardest road back to recovery, and that while the jobs picture may be improving statistically on a national level, it is not for them.

Tinong Nwachan, for example, has far too much time on his hands. When CBS News met the former truck driver he had been out of work for two years.

"I don't really tell too many people this but I'm not ashamed or nothing, I'm homeless," Nwachan said.

Summer job bummer: Teen unemployment 24 percent
Nearly 14 million Americans are looking for work

His day job is looking for work at a jobs center in Hollywood. He has plenty of company, including Fabian Lambrecht, who wonders when the economy's improvement will affect them.

"They're saying there are more jobs. I'm just wondering where those jobs are," Lambrecht said.

About 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months - a higher percentage than during the Great Depression.

The bigger the gap on someone's resume, the more questions employers have.

"(Employers) think: 'Oh, well, there must be something really wrong with them because they haven't gotten a job in 6 months, a year, 2 years.' But that's not necessarily the case," said Marjorie Gardner-Cruse with the Hollywood Worksource Center. (read more)

Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time?

It's Saturday night, and you want to catch the latest summer blockbuster. You do a quick Google search to find the venue and right time, and off you go to enjoy some mindless fun.

Meanwhile, your Internet search has just helped kill the planet. Depending on how long you took and what sites you visited, your search caused the emission of one to 10 grams of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Sure, it's not a lot on its own — but add up all of the more than one billion daily Google searches, throw in 60 million Facebook status updates each day, 50 million daily tweets and 250 billion emails per day, and you're making a serious dent in some Greenland glaciers.

The Internet has long promised a more efficient and greener world. We save on paper and mailing by sending an email. We can telecommute instead of driving to work. We can have a meeting by teleconference instead of flying to another city.

Ironically, despite the web's green promise, this explosion of data has turned the Internet into one of the planet's fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world's electricity.

If the Internet was a country, it would be the planet's fifth-biggest consumer of power, ahead of India and Germany. The Internet's power needs now rival those of the aviation industry and are expected to nearly double by 2020.

"The Internet pollutes, but people don't understand why it pollutes. It's very, very power-hungry, and we have to reduce its carbon footprint," said Mohamed Cheriet, a green IT expert and professor in the engineering and automation department at Montreal's Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS).

The bulk of all this energy is gobbled up by a fast-growing network of huge "server farms" or data centres that form the backbone of the Internet. They are hush-hush facilities, some the size of five Wal-Marts, packed from floor to ceiling with tens of thousands of computers.

These are the computers that make the Internet run — routing traffic and storing much of those ever-expanding heaps of data.

Say you do a Google search. Your query kicks into action about 1,000 servers at various Google data centres. Those computers scan billions of web pages already in Google's archives and spit out an answer.

Total time elapsed: 0.2 seconds on average. Meanwhile, Google's data centres are also constantly combing the Internet to update their archives of web pages.

All those computers have a voracious appetite for energy, especially for cooling equipment to prevent overheating.

Apple's 46,000-square-metre iDataCenter is set to open in North Carolina this spring with a price tag of $1 billion U.S.. It will use an estimated 100 megawatts of power — as much as about 100,000 Canadian homes.

Apple's mega-facility is part of a cluster of gigantic new data centres coming on line in North Carolina that are powered largely by cheap and highly polluting coal power. Google has a 44,000-square-metre data centre in the state that eventually will consume an estimated 60 to 100 MW. Facebook has a 28,000-square-metre facility under construction there that will eat up 40 MW.

Greenpeace calls the three facilities "North Carolina's dirty data triangle." Coal, it says, is the most polluting of all fossil fuels and the world's single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

"The technologies of the 21st century are still largely powered by the dirty coal power of the past," the environmental group said in a report card on the IT sector in April, titled How Dirty is Your Power?

"People are pretty concerned about it," David Kessler, a Greenpeace spokesman in San Francisco. (read more)

Pakistan Double Bomb Attack Kills 35 - 12th June 2011

Twin bomb blasts minutes apart ripped through a crowded supermarket-hotel complex killing 35 people and injuring over 80 in Pakistan's north-western city of Peshawar.

The attack, one of the deadliest since US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, hit the Khyber Super Market area, which includes residential flats for students, shops, a fruit juices kiosk and a hotel.

At around 11:30 pm local time, the first explosion lured in onlookers and emergency services before a second more powerful blast, believed to be from a suicide strike, went off. The second explosion was heard for miles around.

"At least 35 people were killed and more than 80 injured in the blasts," senior local police official Ijaz Khan said, saying the explosions were only four minutes apart.

Those killed included two journalists working for local English-language newspapers Pakistan Today and The News.

"The first blast was quite small but as people gathered close to the site of the explosion, the second one, which was real big one, went off," said the official.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but the Pakistani Taliban have vowed to carry out attacks to avenge the killing of al Qaeda leader bin Laden.

More than 4,400 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks based in the nearby tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007.

"The first blast was triggered by a timed device planted in the bathroom of the hotel while a suicide bomber riding a motorbike blew himself up near the hotel," bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik said.

"We have found head and some other body parts of the bomber from the attack site," Mr Malik added.

The attacks badly damaged six shops and the hotel. Source

Syria: 'Mass Grave Found In Northern Town' - 12th June 2011

A mass grave has been found near Jisr al Shughour as violent clashes unfolded in the northern town, according to reports.

State television said when Syrian forces stormed through the town early on Sunday they uncovered the graves of security men killed and buried by armed groups.

It reported that their bodies bore marks of "atrocities" but it did not give more details.

Heavy fighting erupted in and around the town as the troops reportedly arrested several gunmen as they tried to gain hold of local infrastructure including the hospital, said to have been taken over by the armed groups.

The fighting and discovery of the grave comes as international outrage mounted at Syria's brutal crackdown on protesters - and as thousands of refugees flee across the Turkey border.

The US has accused the Syrian government of creating a "humanitarian crisis".

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Sky News that no military action would be taken, as has happened in Libya, despite him describing the torture and human rights breaches taking place as "unacceptable behaviour". Read More

Giffords to begin outpatient therapy in miraculous recovery -- although shooting and supsect remain shrouded in mystery and questions

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will leave her rehabilitation facility and begin outpatient therapy by the end of June, her spokesman said Sunday.

She will depart TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston and remain in Texas for therapy, C.J. Karmargin said.

News of the milestone in Giffords' recovery came as the public saw the first photos of her face since she was shot in the head in January.

Taken outside, the photos show her smiling. She has short hair and is wearing glasses. One photo shows her alone, smiling at the camera; in the other, she is sitting alongside another woman.

The photos, published Sunday on her Facebook page, were taken May 17 -- the day before she underwent skull surgery at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, according to a message alongside the photos.

May 17 was also the day after Giffords, D-Arizona, attended the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. Her husband Mark Kelly was commander of the mission.

"It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in 4 1/2 months," photographer P.K. Weis of said in a statement. "I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too." (read more)

102 foreign criminals we can't deport... because of THEIR 'right to a family life' - 12th June 2011

Over 100 foreign criminals and illegal immigrants have used the European 'right to a family life' to avoid deportation from the UK in the past year.

Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights - guaranteeing the 'right to a family life' - has helped a total of 102 people frustrate the deportation process.

These include a number of violent criminals and illegal immigrants who had no other right to remain in the country.

In one case, a foreign criminal who used Article Eight was a violent thug and drug dealer who beat his girlfriend and failed to pay child maintenance.

None claimed they would be in danger of torture or abuse if they were sent back to their home countries.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab, who got hold of the figures, told the Sunday Telegraph: 'Before the Human Rights Act, no criminal had ever claimed a right to family life to frustrate a deportation order in this country.

'It is high time we changed to law, to restore some common sense and retain public confidence in out border controls.'

In 2010, 233 appeals against deportation were made. Of these, 149 were successful on human rights grounds - 102 of them citing Article Eight alone.

Just 35 were under Article Three, which protects people from being killed or tortured if returned to an unsafe country. The rest used a mix of Articles.

The figures from HM Courts Service show Article Eight is the number one reason foreign criminals or illegal immigrants managed to defeat deportation.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, had ordered the North London-based violent drug dealer - who can only be named as AP because judges kept his identity a secret - sent back to Trinidad.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, he has a five-year-old daughter, from whom he provided no care nor any maintenance payments, but he still won his fight against deportation thanks to his 'right to a family life'.

His is just the latest case of Article Eight being used to halt the deportation process. Others include:

A Sri Lankan robber allowed to remain here because he has a girlfriend in Britain.

An Iraqi killer who, judges ruled, should not be sent back becauuse he would pose a risk to people in his home country.

A Bolivian man who was able to stay partly because he owned a pet cat.

AP - the violent drug dealer who has just been given leave to stay - was jailed for 18 months by Ipswich Crown Court in May 2008 for possession of cocaine with intent to supply.

His criminal record also included battery of his partner in 2007.

Home Office officials told him they intended to deport him back to the Caribbean after he had served his sentence.

But he appealed and after his release from jail at the beginning of 2009 he told a tribunal he was remorseful and getting his life back on track.

Two days later he was caught in possession of cocaine and fined £75.

But a tribunal ruled AP should not be deported in March 2009. The judges said: 'We are satisfied that the effect of his proposed removal on all members of his family unit in the UK would result in removal being disproportionate, especially since he has a child who has a strong bond with him and he with her and we have heard credible evidence that he is a good and caring father.'

Despite an appeal by the Home Secretary, AP's right to stay was upheld for Lord Justice Longmore, Lord Justice Carwath and Lord Justice Rimer at the Court of Appeal last month.

The European Convention on Human Rights was made UK law by the passing of the Human Rights Act by Tony Blair's Labour government in 1998.

Controversy has raged around it ever since as its provisions take precedence over other British law. Source

Syrian Troops Raid Town Of Jisr al Shughour - 12th June 2011

Syrian forces have stormed the flashpoint town of Jisr al Shughour and clashed with armed groups said to have taken over the northwestern town.

Violent clashes were reported as the troops tried to gain hold of the town including the local hospital.

The fresh raid comes as the US accuses the Syrian government of creating a "humanitarian crisis".

The Obama administration called on Syria to halt its crackdown on civilians and allow immediate access by the International Committee for the Red Cross to help refugees, detainees and the wounded.

The uprising against President Bashar al Assad has driven thousands of Syrians to flee across the border into Turkey.

"Syrian leaders have no excuse for denying humanitarian assistance by a neutral body like the ICRC," the White House said.

"If Syria's leaders fail to provide this access, they will once again be showing contempt for the dignity of the Syrian people."

Syrian forces and tanks commanded by President Assad's brother reportedly stormed the north-western border town of Jisr al Shughour overnight.

"Tanks came from the south after shelling randomly and sending volleys of machine gun fire all over the town. People are still fleeing from the north," one resident said.

Another resident, who escaped on his motorbike through the hills to Turkey, said troops burned wheat crops in three villages near Jisr al Shughour. Read More

Hundreds of North Dakota homes evacuated as Flood-Swollen Missouri River Continues to Rise - 11th June 2011

Residents of this North Dakota city were trying to keep water from their homes as the flood-swollen Missouri River continued to rise this week. By Friday night, more than 800 homes had been evacuated.

National Guard troops are patrolling the city's dikes for leaks while some evacuated residents are now using boats to check on their homes or to ferry fuel for generators pumping water from basements.

Disaster response organizations, including the Salvation Army, are providing support to flood survivors.

Spawned by a heavier-than-usual spring thaw coupled with above-average precipitation, the flood crest has raised the level of concern in communities across the upper Midwest accustomed to some degree of annual flooding.

One of the largest rivers in the nation, the Missouri rises in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Montana and runs more than 2,300 miles until it empties into the Mississippi River near St. Louis. Along the way, it runs through or serves as a border for the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

By the end of the week, floodwaters were swamping numerous flood-prone neighborhoods in Bismarck.

Forecasters predicted the river may reach levels worse than those of the historic 2009 flood. The Missouri is expected to reach the 18-foot flood stage in Bismarck this weekend. Even after river crests, some degree of flooding was expected to continue for a month before residents will be able to “stand down.”

Prior to the arrival of the floodwaters, the community worked to build a 23-foot-high protective dike using sandbags. City employees, volunteers and more than 600 members of the National Guard worked to put the dike in place.

The Salvation Army has been on-site providing meals, snacks, water, and other services in collaboration with the American Red Cross since May 25.

Three Salvation Army mobile kitchens provided food and hydration for volunteers and relief workers at numerous locations throughout Bismarck and nearby Mandan.

The Red Cross provided shelter to evacuees.

The Salvation Army of the Twin Cities shipped pallets of water, snacks and 150 clean-up kits to assist in flood relief efforts.

The rising waters also prompted authorities to mobilize a makeshift armada of rescue boats to assist in the evacuation of those living in areas cut off by rapidly-rising floodwaters. Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and wildlife agents used airboats, flat-bottom boats, Zodiac boats and patrol boats to move stranded residents. Read More

More than 600 sickened by lead poisoning in China Including 103 Children - 12th June 2011

More than 600 people, including 103 children, have been sickened in China's latest case of mass lead poisoning, state media reported Sunday.

China has suffered widespread problems in recent years from heavy metal contamination, with thousands of children affected by lead poisoning in several provinces in 2009 and 2010 because they lived near metal smelters or battery factories.

The victims in the latest case were workers and their children in 25 family-run tinfoil processing workshops in Yangxunqiao town in Zhejiang province in eastern China, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xinhua said tests showed that 26 adults and all 103 children have severe lead poisoning, while 494 others have moderate poisoning.

Lead is used in tinfoil processing and Xinhua said the workers and their families were constantly exposed to lead materials.

It said the workshops have suspended their operations.

Last month, 74 people were detained and production was suspended at hundreds of battery factories in the same province after dozens of people were sickened by lead and cadmium poisoning.

Local authorities are belatedly moving to curb pollution after Beijing announced plans for tighter oversight in response to reports of widespread contamination from heavy metals.

Lead poisoning can damage the nervous, muscular and reproductive systems. Children are particularly at risk. Source