Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Many nuclear plants are in trouble in the U.S. and Japan

Reader contribution.

Parents call for probe into Spain's 'stolen babies'

Truths are emerging about hundreds of missing infants.

PRODDED by grieving parents, Spanish judges are investigating hundreds of cases of infants abducted and sold for adoption over a 40-year period. What may have begun as political retaliation on leftist families during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco appears to have mutated into a trafficking business in which doctors, nurses and even nuns colluded with criminal networks.

The cases, which could eventually run into the thousands, are jolting a country still shaken by the spoken and unspoken terrors of Spain's 1936-39 Civil War and Franco's rule.

Last week, 78-year-old Concepcion Rodrigo Romero joined the rapidly growing ranks of Spanish parents who are turning to the courts to uncover the fates of their babies.
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Mrs Rodrigo Romero, a former seamstress, gave birth, prematurely, in 1971. A doctor in a Seville hospital told her that she had had a son, who was small but ''fine and capable of getting a lot bigger'', she recalled in an interview.

The doctor never reappeared, and she never saw her baby again. Two days later, another doctor at the hospital told her husband that the baby had been sent to another hospital for further checks, but had died there.

''Deep inside, I've always known that my son was stolen from me,'' Mrs Rodrigo Romero said. (read more)

Reader contributed.

China flash floods force mass evacuation

Reader contributed.

Space City, USA feels post shuttle pain -- 75,000 to lose their jobs

Reader contributed.

"ET Life inevitably exists due to Universal Laws, and we'll soon discover it" -- Astronomer

Outrage as Germany 'sells' 200 tanks to Saudi regime -- But why? Is war being prepared for?

Reader contributed.

Anger mounts in China over oil spill cover-up

Chinese media and green groups on Wednesday slammed the state-run China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the marine watchdog for keeping an oil spill hidden from the public for nearly a month.

CNOOC, in partnership with ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of the US oil giant, operates an oil field in Bohai Bay, off China's eastern coast, where the massive slick was detected on June 4 but only made public on Friday.

A strongly worded editorial in the Global Times newspaper accused the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) of protecting the oil giant, while the China Daily said CNOOC had an "obligation to share information".

"We cannot help but wonder: Is the SOA a serious watchdog that exists to prevent bigger incidents from happening, or a loving parent who is over-protective of his own child?" the Global Times editorial said.

Chinese-language newspapers also accused CNOOC of covering up the incident.

Such strident criticism of a large state-owned company is unusual in the Chinese media and could be a sign that Beijing is trying to boost its green credentials by showing the public it is getting tough on environmental abuses. (read more)

Reader contributed.

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Fly Over -- Does this look safe and secure to you?

Reader contributed.

Whatever happened to romance of space?

Rick Chappell remembers being stirred by President John F. Kennedy's call to put a man on the moon.

It was the early 1960s. "America was very different then," says Chappell, a former NASA scientist who's now a consultant and professor at Vanderbilt University. "We'd finished World War II and the Korean War; the economy was booming; there was a spirit of the possible that was much stronger then than now."

Regular exploration -- even colonization -- of "the final frontier" seemed just around the corner. Astronauts were heroes. And the world depicted in the 1968 movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- Pan Am-branded space shuttles, moon bases and a Jupiter mission -- seemed possible to achieve in the next decades.

But here we are, 10 years after 2001. Pan Am has long since gone out of business. The space station isn't a regular tourist stop. Forget Jupiter or those moon bases -- humans haven't even set foot on the lunar surface since 1972. The space shuttle, which is set to launch on its last mission Friday, has been a useful machine -- "a fantastic vehicle," in the words of a NASA rocket scientist -- but it's rarely ignited public fascination the way the '60s and '70s moonshots did. (read more)

U.S. military leader says Iranian weapons killing Americans in Iraq

Fresh warnings came from the Pentagon on Thursday that Iran is supporting extremist militias in Iraq that are killing U.S. troops.

And Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said any potential agreement with Iraq for U.S. forces to stay on beyond the end-of-the-year deadline must confront the issue of Iranian involvement.

"Iran is playing an out-sized role right now," Mullen said at a lunchtime conversation with journalists at the Pentagon. "Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shia groups (in Iraq), which are killing our troops."

Weapons such as IRAMs -- improvised rocket-assisted munitions -- and specially shaped explosives called EFPs -- enhanced explosive penetrators -- have taken a deadly toll on U.S. forces in Iraq, Mullen said, and investigations have tied the weapons directly to Iran.

"They are shipping high-tech weapons in there -- RAMS, EFPs -- which are killing our people and the forensics prove that," Mullen said. "From my perspective, that has to be dealt with, not just now because it is killing our people, but obviously in the future as well."

CNN obtained a tape of the question-and-answer session with Mullen. His comments come as the clock is ticking down toward withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by December 31, and amid speculation in Washington and Baghdad that the Iraqi government will ask a small U.S. force to stay on. There are 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now.

Mullen confirmed that discussions are under way. "Negotiations are ongoing," he said, adding that any final decision would be for the presidents of Iraq and the United States. He said any agreement with Iraq "has to be done in conjunction with control of Iran." (read more)

Is our entire solar system undergoing planetary change, and is this the *real* reason for climate change on Earth?

Mars may be going through a period of climate change, new findings from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter suggest.

Odyssey has been mapping the distribution of materials on and near Mars' surface since early 2002, nearly a full annual cycle on Mars. Besides tracking seasonal changes, such as the advance and retreat of polar dry ice, the orbiter is returning evidence useful for learning about longer-term dynamics.

Martian Ice Shrinking Dramatically

New gullies that did not exist in mid-2002 have appeared on a Martian sand dune.

That's just one of the surprising discoveries that have resulted from the extended life of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, which this month began its ninth year in orbit around Mars. Boulders tumbling down a Martian slope left tracks that weren't there two years ago. New impact craters formed since the 1970s suggest changes to age-estimating models. And for three Mars summers in a row, deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near Mars' south pole have shrunk from the previous year's size, suggesting a climate change in progress.

Prediction of a global climate change on Jupiter

Top of pageJupiter's atmosphere, as observed in the 1979 Voyager space craft images, is characterized by 12 zonal jet streams and about 80 vortices, the largest of which are the Great Red Spot and three White Ovals that had formed1 in the 1930s. The Great Red Spot has been observed2 continuously since 1665 and, given the dynamical similarities between the Great Red Spot and the White Ovals, the disappearance3, 4 of two White Ovals in 1997−2000 was unexpected. Their longevity and sudden demise has been explained5 however, by the trapping of anticyclonic vortices in the troughs of Rossby waves, forcing them to merge. Here I propose that the disappearance of the White Ovals was not an isolated event, but part of a recurring climate cycle which will cause most of Jupiter's vortices to disappear within the next decade. In my numerical simulations, the loss of the vortices results in a global temperature change of about 10 K, which destabilizes the atmosphere and thereby leads to the formation of new vortices. After formation, the large vortices are eroded by turbulence over a time of 60 years—consistent with observations of the White Ovals—until they disappear and the cycle begins again.

More articles and descriptions of planetary climate change within our solar system can be found by clicking here.

The Coming Crisis July Dollar Drive begins today! -- We'd like your help!

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Astronomers Observe Colossal Saturn Storm that breaks previous records -- Why are all the planets, including our own, behaving strangely?

It began as a bright white dot in Saturn’s northern hemisphere. Within days, the dot grew larger and stormier.

Soon the tempest enveloped the ringed planet, triggering lightning flashes thousands of times more intense than on Earth.

The international Cassini spacecraft and ground telescopes have been tracking the turbulence since last December, visible from Earth as a type of storm known as a “Great White Spot.”

“It’s still going like crazy,” said Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Such planet-wide weather disturbances are rare on Saturn, where the atmosphere is typically hazy and calm. Since 1876, astronomers have observed only five other megastorms on Saturn.

“This is a one-of-a-kind storm,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a self-described planetary weatherman at the California Institute of Technology, who was part of the discovery team. (read more)

Why China's local government debt is so scary -- Has it reached the tipping point?

The economy of China is either the twenty-first century`s greatest economic story or a treadmill to Hell. It depends on whom you ask.

There are bright and admirable people on both sides. Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates and Hugh Hendry of Eclectica have been warning that China`s economy is much more fragile than it appears-and attempting to profit from any collapse by shorting various angles of the China story. Jim Rogers says they are "dead wrong."

From my perspective, this is part of the problem. The Chinese economy is so dominated by the state-and the state so dominated by a ruling clique dedicated to preserving both power and reluctant to embrace informational transparency-that it remains extremely murky.

The opacity of China doesn`t necessarily mean China`s economy is going to fall off a cliff. But it does mean it`s hard to trust the road maps the government is printing and selling to investors.

Just last week China`s official national auditing board said that local government`s owed about 10.7 trillion yuan (USD 1.65 trillion).

This morning, Moody`s is out with a report that says China`s local government debt may be 3.5 trillion yuan (USD 540 billion) larger than auditors estimated.

Before your eyes glaze over at looking those trillion and billions, let`s reduce them to something a bit more understandable. If Moody`s is right, this means China`s auditors missed around one-quarter of the debt of local governments. That`s a huge gap between the official figures and reality. (read more)

The Great Recession, Part II: "The world could be headed for another economic disaster if we continue to listen to free-market ideologues"

Just a few years ago, a powerful ideology—the belief in free and unfettered markets—brought the world to the brink of ruin. Even in its heyday, from the early 1980s until 2007, American-style deregulated capitalism brought greater material well-being only to the very richest of the richest country of the world. Indeed, over the course of this ideology's 30-year ascendance, most Americans saw their incomes decline or stagnate.

Moreover, output growth in the United States was not economically sustainable. With so much of U.S. national income going to so few, growth could continue only through consumption financed by a mounting pile of debt.

I was among those who hoped that, somehow, the financial crisis would teach Americans (and others) a lesson about the need for greater equality, stronger regulation, and a better balance between the market and government. Alas, that has not been the case. On the contrary, a resurgence of right-wing economics, driven by ideology and special interests, once again threatens the global economy—or at least the economies of Europe and North America, where these ideas continue to flourish.

In the United States, this right-wing resurgence, whose adherents evidently seek to repeal the basic laws of math and economics, is threatening to force a default on the national debt. If Congress mandates expenditures that exceed revenues, there will be a deficit, and that deficit has to be financed. Rather than balancing the benefits of each government expenditure program with the costs of raising taxes to finance those benefits, the right seeks to use a sledgehammer—not allowing the national debt to increase forces expenditures to be limited to taxes. (read more)

Jill Miller Envisions Mobile Breastfeeding Truck to target businesses who harrass breastfeeding mothers

A local artist and teacher at Carnegie Mellon University has come up with an idea to support mothers who are harassed for nursing in public.

Jill Miller envisions something she calls “The Milk Truck.” She wants to buy an ice cream truck and outfit it with a giant breast on the roof.

When a woman is made to feel uncomfortable or told to leave a public place for breastfeeding, she could contact “The Milk Truck.” The truck would respond and park in front of the restaurant or other establishment, along with followers of the program through Twitter and Facebook.

Project manager Tara McElfresh says they will lay down a rug, set up chairs under an awning on the side of the truck, and if the mother still needs to, she can nurse outside in an environment of support.

McElfresh says she’s heard stories of women who have encountered problems breastfeeding in public in Pittsburgh, including a woman who says she was told to leave a restaurant in Squirrel Hill. (read more)

Ten percent of European insurance companies don't have enough cash to withstand another crisis

About 10pc of European insurance companies tested do not have enough capital to withstand exceptional economic shocks, results published by the sector regulator showed on Monday.

But with a success rate of 90pc, "overall, the European insurance sector remains robust in the occurrence of major shocks", the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) said.

The tests examined 221 insurance and re-insurance companies which account for about 60pc of the overall insurance market in the 27 members of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

They incorporated stricter criteria for capital requirements that are to take effect in January 2013 under so-called Solvency II regulation but which have not yet been finalised.

Of the insurance companies tested, "data showed that approximately 10pc [13] of the participating groups and companies do not meet the MCR [minimum capital requirements] under the adverse scenario," the statement said.

"Eight percent [10] fail to meet the MCR in the inflation scenario," it added in reference to a hypothetical case in which inflation forced central banks to quickly raise their interest rates. (read more)

The Sovereign Debt Crisis Is Never Going To End Until There Is A Major Global Financial Collapse

In the past, there certainly have been governments that have gotten into trouble with debt, but what we are experiencing now is the first truly global sovereign debt crisis. There has never been a time in recorded history when virtually all of the governments of the world were drowning in debt all at the same time. This sovereign debt crisis is never going to end until there is a major global financial collapse. There simply is no way to unwind the colossal web of debt that we have constructed in an orderly fashion. Right now the EU and the IMF have been making "emergency loans" to nations such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but that is only going to buy those countries a few additional months. Giving more loans to nations that are already drowning in red ink may "kick the can down the road" for a little while but it isn't going to solve anything. Meanwhile, dozens more nations all over the globe are rapidly approaching a day of reckoning.

All of the bailouts that you are hearing about right now are simply delaying the pain. The reality is that when the "emergency loans" for Greece stop, Greece is going to default. Greece is toast. The game is over for them. You can stick a fork in Greece because it is done.

One of the big problems for Greece is that since it is part of the euro it can't independently print more money. If Greece cannot raise enough euros internally Greece must turn to outside assistance.

Unfortunately, at this point Greece has accumulated such a mammoth debt that it cannot possibly sustain it. By the end of the year, it is projected that the national debt of Greece will soar to approximately 166% of GDP.

The financial collapse of Greece is inevitable. If they keep using the euro they will collapse. If they quit using the euro they will collapse. When the rest of Europe decides that it is tired of propping Greece up the game will be over. (read more)

Kitten hurled out of moving car on Verrazano bridge... and lives!

A tiny kitten survived a harrowing ordeal on the Verrazano Bridge after the feline was thrown from a moving car, landing near the edge of the bridge before being rescued by a passing animal control officer.

The officer was transporting animals to a Staten Island facility on Saturday and saw the gray kitten thrown out of the window, Animal Care & Control of NYC said Wednesday.

The officer quickly pulled the vehicle over to try and rescue the kitten, which was found near the edge of the bridge. Passing truck drivers stopped to help block traffic while the rescue occurred, animal control officials said.

The kitty was brought back to the animal care facility where his age was estimated at five weeks and he was named Verrazano.

Verrazano was not hurt when he was thrown from the car, officials said. The AC&C says the tenacious kitty will be available for adoption in about three to four weeks. Individuals interested in applying should e-mail

“It is unthinkable that someone could do something so heartless and cruel to an animal,” said Julie Bank, executive director of AC&C.

The group is looking for the person who threw the cat from car and asking for help in locating that individual. (read more)

12 year old girl ends life to donate eyes to dad

For days, Mumpy would listen quietly as the elders discussed how only an eye surgery could save her father's vision and a kidney transplant her brother's life. But both surgeries were beyond the family's meagre means. So, Mumpy hit upon a plan, which to her 12-year-old mind seemed the answer to all troubles. She would kill herself, which would save the dowry, too, and her organs would give her loved ones back their lives.

Mumpy did stick to her plan. But the suicide note in which she had scribbled down her wishes was found the day after she was cremated.

The incident took place in Dhantala's Jhorpara on June 27. Her father's and brother's ailments had left Mumpy Sarkar, a Class VI student, anxious. One of the kidneys of her brother Monojit, a Class XI student, was damaged and the other was getting weak. Father Mridul Sarkar, a daily wager, was also gradually losing his eyesight.

"The family had approached the local MLA for help. We had decided to grant them some money for the boy's treatment. But the tragedy happened all of a sudden," said Dhantala panchayat pradhan Tapas Tarafdar. (read more)

Two-thirds of US adults now obese, one-third of US children

The number of obese U.S. adults rose in 16 states in the last year, helping to push obesity rates in a dozen states above 30 percent, according to a report released on Thursday.

By that measure, Mississippi is the fattest state in the union with an adult obesity rate of 34.4 percent. Colorado is the least obese -- with a rate of 19.8 percent -- and the only state with an adult obesity rate below 20 percent, according to "F as in Fat," an annual report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

While the number of states showing significant year-over-year increases in obesity has been slowing, no state chalked up an actual decline. Even Colorado does not win high marks -- its score means one in five state residents is at higher risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

"Today, the state with the lowest adult obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995," said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health.

Four years ago, only one U.S. state had an adult obesity rate above 30 percent, according to the report, which defines adult obesity as a having a body mass index -- a weight-to-height ratio -- of 30 or more.

Over the last two decades, people in the United States have been eating less nutritious food and more of it. At the same time, activity levels have fallen, Levi said.

"If we're going to reverse the obesity trends, willpower alone won't do it. We're going to have to make healthier choices easier for Americans," Levi said.

Public health experts around the world have raised the alarm about exploding rates of obesity -- particularly among children -- and many are promoting efforts to encourage exercise and easier access to affordable, healthy food.

In the United States -- where two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children are obese or overweight -- the obesity epidemic is sending healthcare costs higher and threatening everything from worker productivity to military recruitment. (read more)

Rio Linda Thieves Steal Hundreds Of Gallons Of Gas From Underground Tank

Thieves have stolen hundreds of gallons of unleaded gas from an underground tank at a Rio Linda gas station.

The theft was discovered when fire fighters driving in the area of E Street and Dry Creek Boulevard when they heard an alarm at the Valero Gas Station.

The fire fighters went to investigate and found fuel spilled all over the ground.

The station manager was alerted. When he arrived to clean up the mess, he found that more than 250 gallons of unleaded gas had been taken from underground tanks.

It was originally reported that diesel fuel was stolen, but the owners now say it was unleaded gas.

The thieves are still on the loose. But investigators hope surveillance cameras will provide them some clues. (source)

Thieves In Chatham Stealing Entire Air Conditioners

Residents of the Chatham neighborhood have been put on notice to keep an eye on their air conditioners.

Thieves have been sneaking into back yards and crawling onto rooftops to steal entire central air conditioning units.

As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman learned, a rash of central air theft on the South Side prompted one neighborhood to put out a warning.

One Chatham resident, who asked to be identified only as “Randi” is using not one lock, but three, to protect her new air conditioner after thieves made off with her old one.

Asked if she ever thought someone would walk away with a central air unit, Randi said, “not in my wildest dreams.”

She said whoever stole the air conditioner was obviously very professional, because they didn’t leave any bolts or screws behind and she didn’t hear a thing.

“I’ve just been going door-to-door, letting my neighbors know, look, our air conditioner got stolen. At first, they’re like, ‘You all have central air, what do you mean your air conditioner got stolen?’” “My air conditioner got stolen. So they came by and they’re like, ‘How in the world did they do that? Everyone is in awe.”

She still isn’t certain exactly how they stole the whole thing. (read more)

News of the World Chaos: Rebekah Brooks keeps job while 500 staff lose their jobs; Murdoch remains rich (of course)

The announcement that the News of the World is to close was met with an audible gasp of shock in the newsroom.

Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch faced a small group of senior management at the tabloid before talking to the rest of the staff.

They were flanked by two security men as they delivered the astonishing news that the newspaper with a history dating back nearly 170 years was to publish its final edition this weekend.

When they made the announcement, the entire office gasped with disbelief, and many staff burst into tears.

Afterwards, editor Colin Myler asked Mrs Brooks to leave the newspaper's offices.

He then addressed the staff himself.

He was shaking and had tears in his eyes because he himself had only been told of the news 20 minutes beforehand.

Staff were left standing around in shock, not knowing what to do or what was going to happen to them. (read more)

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN SEA - 7th June 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck in the Western Mediterranean Sea at a depth of 5.9 km (3.7 miles), the quake hit at 19:21:47 UTC Thursday 7th July 2011.
The epicenter was 160 km (99 miles) NNW of Sassari, Sardinia, Italy

No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. No reports of Damage as yet.

5.8 Magnitude Earthquake East Coast of Honshu, Japan - 7th July 2011

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 48 km (28 miles), the quake hit at 18:35:42 UTC Thursday 7th July 2011.
The epicenter was 10 km (6 miles) North East Iwaki, Honshu, Japan

No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. No reports of Damage as yet.

USGS Has it registered as a 5.6 Magnitude Earthquake but The Japanese Seismic Monitors Registered it as a 5.8M


Natural disaster zones have been declared across parts of NSW as wild weather left a "tornado" trail of broken power lines, uprooted trees and damaged roofs.

Thousands will be left without power for a third chilly night on Thursday.

More than 11,500 houses in the Blue Mountains, southern highlands and south coast awoke on Thursday to freezing temperatures, 100km/h winds and no electricity.

The chaos followed a ferocious storm that battered the region on Tuesday night.

"It was like a jet was flying over the house and hovering: the whole house was just vibrating," said Blackheath resident Susan Groves.

The severe weather left areas such as Blackheath and Medlow Bath looking like a "war zone", Blue Mountains councillor Eleanor Gibbs told AAP on Thursday.

"Every street you go down there are trees lying around and there are piles of debris everywhere," she said.

The NSW government has declared the Blue Mountains, Oberon, and the Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee shires natural disaster zones.

"The severe wind in these areas has significantly damaged buildings, parks, reserves and critical infrastructure," Police Minister Michael Gallacher said.

Commuters from the Blue Mountains continue to endure disruptions after falling trees crushed two train carriages on Tuesday night.

Services are expected to remain suspended between Katoomba and Lithgow until early next week.

At Sydney Airport, the east-west runway remained closed into Thursday night, with 45-minute delays to international flights and up to one-hour delays for domestic ones, a spokeswoman told AAP.

Although most residents will have their power restored by Friday night, a spokesman from Endeavour Energy said some outlying regions would remain without power until Saturday.

The news comes as residents brace for another cold night. Read More

1 dead, 13 injured after Netherlands soccer stadium collapses - 7th July 2011

The roof of a Dutch sports stadium partially collapsed during off-season construction work Thursday, killing one person and leaving 10 others hospitalized, some with severe injuries, a local mayor said.

In all, 14 people were injured when the roof at the southern end of the FC Twente stadium collapsed around midday, said Peter den Oudsten, mayor of the Dutch town of Enschede where the stadium is located. Three people were treated at the scene, he said.

Two of hospitalized workers had serious injuries, Den Oudsten said, without elaborating. News video showed at least one construction worker, apparently bleeding from a head wound, being taken away by paramedics.

Den Oudsten said sniffer dogs and cameras were being used to search for anybody else still trapped under the tangle of girders and red roof panels — the colour of FC Twente's shirts — behind the goal at the southern end of the Grolsch Veste stadium.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately known. The construction work aimed to increase the stadium's capacity to 30,000 from 24,000 by adding a new tier above existing seating.

FC Twente director Jan van Halst said the club “is terribly upset. Our sympathy goes to the victims.”

He appealed to supporters of the football team not to visit the stadium while emergency services were still at work. Read More

Casey Anthony Jailed for LYING but will walk free after being Cleared of Murder Because the same Jury Believed her version of Events about Caylee!

LinkCasey Anthony, the woman cleared of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee, has been sentenced to four years in prison for lying to police during their investigation.

But the Florida trial judge said she would gain credit for the three years she has already served in prison, and suggested she could be released by the end of July or in early August.

Judge Perry said her lies to investigators when they were trying to find out what had happened to Caylee meant they spent a great deal of time, energy and man power on what were essentially wild goose chases.

Casey Anthony told police that she worked at a Universal Studios theme park when she did not.

She also said that she had left Caylee with a fictional nanny, that she had received a phone call from her, and that Caylee was with friends.

Caylee disappeared in June 2008, and her skeletal remains were discovered months later in woodland after the toddler's Grandmother reported her missing.

The defence argued that Caylee had accidentally drowned in a pool, and her death was covered up by a panicked and grieving mother.

The prosecution claimed that Casey drugged her child with chloroform and suffocated her with duct tape before dumping the body.

They alleged it was because Caylee got in the way of her mother's carefree lifestyle. Read More

News of the World to close down - 7th July 2011

James Murdoch has announced that this Sunday's edition of the News of the World will be the paper's last.

It was reported to Yahoo! News by a News of the World journalist that James Murdoch broke the news to staff this afternoon and that many journalists are said to be distraught and phoning their families.

In a statement James Murdoch said: ""We will run no commercial advertisements this weekend. Any advertising space in this last edition will be donated to causes and charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers."

Tom Watson, a Labour MP who rallied against the paper told Sky News: "Let's be clear it was not Rupert Murdoch who closed the News of the World, it was good honest people up and down the country. Good riddance'. Source

With eye on South China Sea, U.S. might place troops in Australia

American troops might soon find themselves serving in Australia as the United States looks for better access to the South China Sea, the source of much friction between China and many other Pacific nations.

During testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Adm. Robert Willard, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said Australians would like to see an increase of U.S. military activities Down Under.

"The Australians have been extremely forward-leaning in their overtures to the United States government, and to the Department of Defense, to consider whether or not increasing our level of involvement with their armed forces," Willard told the House Armed Service Committee.

One of the goals would be improving Pacific Command's presence in that part of the world.

"Taking advantage of some of the existing capacities in Australia would lend to an improved Pacific Command posture in accessing Southeast Asia and the South China Sea region. And we have taken a hard look at that."

In recent years, China has been building up its military, including its navy, and has staked claims on sovereignty in the South China Sea that many nations, including the United States, have disputed.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he has a group studying the idea of U.S. troops rotating through existing Australian bases, but he doesn't want to create any new permanent bases in the Pacific. And he remained diplomatic when asked whether such a plan would be about keeping China in check.

"This is really more about continuing U.S. presence and building these relationships, and it's more about our relationships with the rest of Asia than it is about China." (read more)

North Korea paid Pakistan for nuclear weapons tech

The founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program claims that in the late 1990s North Korean officials paid kickbacks to senior Pakistani military figures in exchange for critical weapons technology.

Abdul Qadeer Khan has given a United States-based expert documents that appear to show North Korea's government paid more than $3.5 million to two Pakistani military officials as part of the deal, the expert told The Associated Press Wednesday.

To back up his claim, Khan released what he said was a copy of a North Korean official's 1998 letter to him, written in English, that purports to describe the secret deal.

Khan gave the documents to Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an authority on Pakistan's weapons program. He did so because he has been accused by his government of running a covert nuclear smuggling operation without official knowledge or consent.

"He gave it to me because he regarded it as showing that the story, the perception that he had been a rogue operator was false," Henderson said.

The letter, along with a statement by Khan describing the deal, suggests that at least some top-level Pakistani military officials knew early on about some of Khan's extensive sale of nuclear weapons technology to other countries, including North Korea, Iran and Libya. (read more)

U.S. plays 'Russian roulette' with debt ceiling

U.S. President Barack Obama will work with close allies and bitter rivals to head off a crisis over government spending that could cripple the world's largest economy in less than a month.

Top lawmakers in both parties are set to meet at the White House on Thursday to discuss the impasse over the U.S. budget. Republicans are insisting on major cuts to out-of-control deficits as the price for approving must-do legislation to increase the government's debt ceiling — the maximum it is allowed to go into debt to fund its daily operation.

The government is on track to break its current limit on Aug. 2. Unless Obama wins Congressional approval to raise the ceiling, the U.S. government would technically be in default as of that day.

A default would throw financial markets into turmoil, raise U.S. interest rates and devastate the economic recovery.

The negotiations are the first official sit-down since Republican House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor last month left talks that had been led by Vice-President Joe Biden, citing an insistence by Democrats on raising taxes.

The Obama administration wants to close tax loopholes to raise government revenues, which would then get the ballooning U.S. deficit under control. But the president's opponents say the government takes in enough money as it is, and instead want to see spending cuts to get the government back into the black.

As recently as Wednesday, Obama attacked Republicans as defenders of wasteful and unfair loopholes such as those rewarding highly profitable oil companies with billions of dollars a year in subsidies they don't seem to need or a break given to companies that purchase private jets.

"The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people to extract tax breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies that are making billions of dollars," Obama said during a Twitter town hall on Wednesday.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett echoed that fatalistic imagery Thursday, saying Congress is playing with fire by considering not raising the debt ceiling. (read more)

Japan PM criticized over Fukushima nuclear plant stress tests

Local government officials criticized Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his cabinet Thursday for giving mixed signals over the resumption of nuclear power plants shut down since the March 11 earthquake.

Since Japan relies heavily on nuclear power, the government has been keen to resume operation of nuclear plants to ease a power shortage. Plants were shut down when the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant was damaged in the earthquake, leading to a nuclear crisis.

On Wednesday the government made a surprise announcement that it would conduct "stress tests" on all of the country's nuclear plants to regain public confidence. The announcement, however, shocked local officials who had given their consent to restart the reactors at the Genkai plant -- the first among the 18 idled across the country.

The stress tests -- computer simulations to evaluate how the facilities would cope in various natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis -- are expected to take several months. This would mean a further delay in the resumption of nuclear plant operations, if local governments are to wait for results of the tests.

In a meeting with Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, Yasushi Furukawa, the governor of Saga prefecture where Genkai Nuclear Power Plant is located, questioned why the stress test announcement was being made after the local government had consented to restarting the reactors.

Because of the controversy, Furukawa said he was not ready to permit operations to resume after the stress tests.

In a similar move, Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of Genkai, also withdrew his consent for restarting reactors at the plant.

"Personally I feel I would like to retract it and think from scratch," he said. (read more)

Spain conducts massive raid on slavery sweat shops

Royal LePage says housing market has peaked: Canadian housing crisis next?

Canada's housing market has hit a peak and will likely slow in the next six months, says one of the country's largest real estate companies, Royal LePage.

"The market has seen its near-term peak in house price appreciation," the company said in a forecast released Thursday. "A slower second half of the year is expected."

The realtor group says home prices by the end of 2011 will be 7.7 per cent higher than they were at the end of 2010, on average. Sales volume is forecast to fall by two per cent over the same period.

High house prices are concealing early signs of a moderating market, the report said.

The national average price of a detached bungalow has gained 7.5 per cent in the last 12 months to $356,625.

Meanwhile, the price of a standard two-storey home rose 6.1 per cent to $390,163 and the price of a standard condominium rose 3.5 per cent to $238,064.

"In many of Canada’s regional markets, we saw house prices appreciate at a significantly faster rate than wages and salaries, and this trend cannot continue indefinitely," Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper said. (read more)

Israel set for Gaza aid 'flytilla' as boats blocked

Israel has stepped up security at Tel Aviv airport, ahead of the arrival of 500 pro-Palestinian activists, most of them French nationals, on Friday.

The so-called "flytilla" comes as the Greek authorities have blocked the sailing of an aid flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

The moves come on the first anniversary of the 2010 Freedom Flotilla.

Nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the lead ship, causing an international outcry.

As a result, Israel eased its blockade on the impoverished Palestinian territory, allowing in more food and humanitarian goods.

Israel says the restrictions are necessary to stop weapons smuggling and to put pressure on Hamas, the militant Islamist group that has governed Gaza alone since 2007.

The UN has characterised the measures as the collective punishment of Gaza's population of 1.6 million people. (read more)

Landslides bury Malaysian orphanage, killing at least 16

Rescue workers were looking for at least a dozen children reported missing following two landslides that buried a Malaysian orphanage, killing at least 16 people and injuring nine others, the nation's official news agency reported Sunday.

Rescue workers scoured the area for up to two dozen children believed buried in the landslides that hit the orphanage near Hulu Langat, southeast of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, the Bernama news agency said.

It was not immediately clear how many of the 16 killed were children. Earlier reports said the bodies of at least five children, between the ages of 11 and 14, were pulled from the debris.

Eight children, between the ages of 11 and 17, and a 22-year-old adult were pulled out alive from the debris by rescue workers and villagers, Selangor Police Chief Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said at a news conference late Saturday. But rescue workers were still searching for dozens missing, the police chief said.

The landslides, which were triggered by heavy rains Saturday, struck the orphanage at about 2:30 p.m., while many of its 49 male residents, including five adults, were outside setting up tents on the hillside for an outdoor event later in the day, the police chief said.

"We understand that two landslides occurred within seconds of each other. All of them in the camp were trapped," Tun Hisan said. (read more)

'Goat plague' threat to global food security and economy must be tackled, experts warn

"Goat plague," or peste des petits ruminants (PPR), is threatening global food security and poverty alleviation in the developing world, say leading veterinarians and animal health experts in this week's Veterinary Record.

They call on the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to turn their attention now to ridding the world of the PPR virus, which carries a very high risk of death among infected animals.

The call follows the formal announcement this week by the FAO that a related virus, rinderpest, better known as "cattle plague," has now been eradicated around the globe.

In an editorial, senior vets, all of whom were variously involved in the global rinderpest eradication campaign, say that getting rid of that virus has had far reaching effects.

"What is not generally appreciated is that the eradication of rinderpest has yielded benefits that surpass virtually every other development programme in agriculture, and will continue to do so in future," they write.

They cite the case of Chad, where between 1963 and 2002, every dollar spent on rinderpest eradication made a return of at least $US16.

Now the world must focus on achieving the same for PPR, which is endemic in most of sub Saharan Africa "as well as a swathe of countries from Turkey through the Middle East to south Asia," they say. The virus has also recently been reported in North Africa, central Asia, and China.

It's important to control the infection because it spreads quickly through goat herds and sheep flocks, decimating their numbers, and taking a terrible financial toll on the farmers and families who depend on these animals for their livelihoods, say the authors.

And it has also spread to wildlife species, many of which are endangered or threatened. (read more)

A Tale of Three Depressions

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
And the Progressives are making the same damn mistake that made them the worst of times.

The "Great Depression" was far from the first depression in the history of the United States. In point of fact, it was not even the first nor the sole depression of the 20th century. The less known one was the depression of 1920, and it was far sharper than the "Great Depression."

The Forgotten Depression of 1920
By Thomas E. Woods Jr. | Mises Daily

It is a cliché that if we do not study the past we are condemned to repeat it. Almost equally certain, however, is that if there are lessons to be learned from an historical episode, the political class will draw all the wrong ones -- and often deliberately so.


The conventional wisdom holds that in the absence of government countercyclical policy, whether fiscal or monetary (or both), we cannot expect economic recovery -- at least, not without an intolerably long delay. Yet the very opposite policies were followed during the depression of 1920-1921, and recovery was in fact not long in coming.

The economic situation in 1920 was grim. By that year unemployment had jumped from 4 percent to nearly 12 percent, and GNP declined 17 percent. No wonder, then, that Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover -- falsely characterized as a supporter of laissez-faire economics -- urged President Harding to consider an array of interventions to turn the economy around. Hoover was ignored.

Instead of "fiscal stimulus," Harding cut the government's budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922. The rest of Harding's approach was equally laissez-faire. Tax rates were slashed for all income groups. The national debt was reduced by one-third.

The Federal Reserve's activity, moreover, was hardly noticeable. As one economic historian puts it, "Despite the severity of the contraction, the Fed did not move to use its powers to turn the money supply around and fight the contraction."[2] By the late summer of 1921, signs of recovery were already visible. The following year, unemployment was back down to 6.7 percent and it was only 2.4 percent by 1923. (read more)

The Five Most Ruthless Police States in America

This past decade has seen such a large increase in the U.S. prison and jail population that there can be no historical comparison, reports theNational Institute of Corrections. If the number of those incarcerated were added to the unemployment rate, the rate would be 2% greater. In the year 2000, 2 million (or 25%) of the world's 8 million prisoners were housed in the U.S. (which only has 5% of the world's population). That figure grew to nearly 2.3 million in 2010.

There is little demonstrative correlation between actual crime rates and imprisonment policies. Incarceration policies in the U.S. disproportionately impact minorities, particularly African Americans. The amount of money spent to incarcerate 1.2 million nonviolent offenders is six times that spent on child care for 1.25 million children.

In 2010 there were 1,612,071 state and federal prisoners in the U.S, an incarceration rate of 502 people per 100,000. But some states stand out from the rest when it comes to the number of residents locked up. The remaining 687,000 are locked up in city and county jails.

Here are the top five states you might want to think twice about visiting or relocating to if you have a particular aversion to spending time behind bars. (read more as PDF)

Reader contributed.

The Economics of Food Self-Sufficiency

One of our goals is to grow and raise our own food. Consequently, I write about gardening and food preservation quite a bit. From time to time I show you my pantry and give you a progress report on the status of my food stores. Currently, we're producing all our own vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, and most of the fruit we consume. This year, we started growing some of our own grain: wheat and corn. In the future, we will focus on more types of grains and meat.

I still grocery shop, for things like coffee, cereals, meat, black olives, tuna fish, baking soda, chocolate, sweeteners, a few stock-up items. You'd think because of all we grow I'd be saving a lot, but actually, my food budget remains the same. Why? Because instead of buying people food, I now buy grains and pellets for the chickens and goats too. Add to that other supplies necessary for their well being, more seeds in the spring, and the rising cost of food (both human and animal), and I have to admit that my budgeted food spending hasn't changed a cent since we started working toward food self-sufficiency.

A question often arises amongst homesteaders regarding raising one's own food - is it worth it? Is it cost effective to grow and preserve all one's fruits and vegetables, and to raise one's own eggs, meat, or milk? Realistically, wouldn't it be cheaper to buy them? (read more)

Reader contributed.

How Long Would It Take To Pay Off The U.S. Federal Government Debt? -- Gonzalo Lira asks

Let’s dream: Let’s imagine that the American political leadership decides to get serious about U.S. Federal government debt reduction—crazy as it may sound.

Actually, that’s too crazy. The American political leadership will never “do the right thing” with regards the deficit. After all, last spring, the American political leadership couldn’t agree on a measly $50 billion worth of cuts—a mere 1.4% of the total Federal government budget.

Okay, so in order to give our daydream a veneer of verisimilitude, let’s pretend instead that the members of Congress and the president are the victims of a cunning biological terrorist attack—they are infected with truly massive doses of both the Responsibility Bug and the Austerity Virus.

And then—under the unnatural effects of these sneaky terrorist pathogens—the American political leadership decides to cut the deficit outright, and start retiring the national debt.

Yeah: That’s much more realistic.

How much would they have to cut, in order to pay off the national debt? And how long would it take, to retire that national debt in its entirety?

Well, in order to figure this out, first they’d have to get honest about exactly how much is the U.S. Federal government’s debt. (Honesty is a perverse side-effect of the Responsibility Bug and the Austerity Virus. Scientists are working feverishly to try to stop this honesty stuff.) (read more)

36 reported trapped in China coal mine FIRE in China - 7th June 2011

A coal mine fire occurred Wednesday night left at least 36 people trapped underground in Shandong province in eastern China, the official news agency Xinhua reported Thursday, citing safety officials.

An air compressor in a parking lot 225 meters (738 feet) underground caught fire around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, trapping 36 miners working in the area, according to the news agency, which reported on the initial investigation by the State Administration of Work Safety early Thursday.

The mine belongs to Zaozhuang Fangbei Coal Mine Co. Ltd., in Shangdong province, Xinhua said.

An team of experts headed by SAWS director Luo Lin rushed to the scene immediately, the news agency reported, and a rescue operation is ongoing.

According to reports, the mine had been upgraded in June 2010 to expand production capacity to 150,000 tons a year. The work was approved in October, Xinhua reported. Source