Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Asian stocks plunge after U.S. credit downgrade

Stocks on key Asian exchanges dropped modestly early Monday on what is likely to be an eventful day in world markets, following Standard and Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

In early Tokyo trading, the Nikkei index fell 124 points, or 1.3%.

South Korea's KOSPI index slipped 1.6%. In Australia, the All Ordinaries index lost 0.7%. The Shanghai composite started 0.8% lower.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled 2.6% at the open.

Similarly, U.S. stock futures fell around 1.7% in early electronic trading Sunday.

The futures were the first U.S. gauge of investor sentiment following Friday night's downgrade, removing the United States' AAA status for the first time. They give an indication of how investors will react when regular-hours U.S. trading begins at 9:30 a.m. ET Monday.

Besides the U.S. downgrade, investors are concerned about the debt crisis in some European nations, though actions on the part of the G7 and the European Central Bank Sunday helped to allay some of those fears. (more)

Eight dead, including gunman, in Ohio shooting spree: Child also killed

Seven people, including an 11-year-old child, were shot and killed in a small town in northeastern Ohio on Sunday in a rampage that ended when police killed the suspected gunman, authorities said.

The shootings occurred shortly before 11 a.m. in Copley Township, about seven miles west of Akron, according to the Copley Police Department.

According to a news release from the department, the shootings began at one house where the gunman shot his girlfriend, continued when the shooter ran to an adjacent house where he shot five people, then went on as he chased two other people "through some backyards" before hitting one.

"The shooter then went to another home ... where two other persons he had chased sought refuge. He entered the home, shot one victim and exited the home," the news release said.

At that point, a Copley police officer and a former officer who was in the area encountered the shooter who "engaged the officer and the citizen in gunfire and (the shooter) was shot and killed."

A total of eight people were shot by the suspect, police said, with seven killed and one wounded. That victim was hospitalized but the person's condition was not known Sunday night.

A woman who lives near the scene of the shootings described how one of the gunman's would-be victims fled.

"Somebody knocked on my door and a woman was at my porch, hiding on my porch," Brenda McCrady told CNN affiliate WJW.

When McCrady opened the door, the woman ran inside and told McCrady, "somebody had shot her husband point blank in the head. ... And then she started screaming, 'My son, my son, my 11-year-old son.' " (more)

Financial crisis: Bank of England 'to warn of slower UK growth'

Britain's economy is set to slow in the wake of the US's credit rating downgrade, says the Bank of England.

Sir Mervyn King, the Bank's governor, is expected on Wednesday to reduce its "target range" for UK growth as the world lurches dangerously close to a double-dip recession.

Any slowdown in growth will hit job creation and spark a potential rise in the cost of goods and services, adding to problems for David Cameron and George Osborne.

As America continues to reel from the loss of its top-flight ''AAA'' credit rating for the first time in modern history, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that US investors sold out of British banks in the last week, precipitating a £22 billion reduction in the value of the top four banks including state-backed Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

At the same time, China and India, two of the biggest buyers of America's $14.5 trillion debt pile, meted out stern warnings to the world's largest economy – whose debt is now seen as less secure than that of Guernsey.

China called for a new global "reserve currency" to replace the dollar – a move branded "sensible" by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, in a television interview, although he said this would not happen "overnight". (more)

European Central Bank seeks to prop up Italian bonds to ease eurozone debt fears

The European Central Bank will decide tonight whether to start buying Italian debt to calm eurozone bond markets, while finance ministers from leading economies hold emergency talks about how to limit the damage from the current debt crisis.

Many fear that unless central banks and world leaders can agree co-ordinated action to avert a new global financial crisis before trading begins in Asia, global markets will continue to tumble.

Deputies from the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies talked by telephone Sunday about proposals to minimize market shocks, South Korea's central bank said. Finance ministers from the Group of Seven economies planned talks before Asian markets open.

Standard & Poor's move to downgrade America's AAA credit rating to AA+ late on Friday is expected to weigh on shares. In a foretaste of what could happen, stock markets in the oil-rich Gulf states and Israel dropped on Sunday as the historic downgrade sent jitters across the region.

Last week stock markets around the world suffered their worst five-day run since the 2008 Lehman collapse, losing $2.5 trillion in value.

Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets, expects markets to fall further this week: "There's a lot of fear in the market ... People will sell now and ask questions later." (more)

August Dollar Drive -- Please help! (Also, Weekly Announcements for August 7, 2011 -- New posts appear below until midnight)

Donate to The Coming Crisis

Hello everyone!

1. August Dollar Drive progress: So far we've had six donations, and are under 10% of our goal for August. If you haven't donated a dollar yet and are able to help, consider giving to our Dollar Drive. We're asking just 5000 of our readers to donate just one dollar each for the month of August. If you click on the banner above, you'll be able to contribute your dollar and see where the money goes to. We appreciate your help!

2. We donated $14 to the Red Cross! As promised, we donated $14 of the July Dollar Drive's fundraiser to the Red Cross. They will put this money towards the famine in East Africa. Remember, 10 cents of every single dollar you donate goes to the Red Cross each month as an offshoot of our monthly Dollar Drive!

3. We updated the commenting requests: As you've probably noticed, there are a list of requests above the commenting boxing on our posts. We've updated one of the requests so that only name-links that lead to profiles (and not pages of any other kind) will be allowed. We also would like to remind readers that no links of any kind, related to the story or not, will be permitted inside comments. Both these measures are to protect all readers from mischievous redirects. If you have a link you'd like us to consider, please email it to us directly, and we'll make it its own post or add it to the story and give you credit (should you want it)!

4. We've surpassed 10,000 posts! We're now adding over 100 new researched pieces a day, with a projected total of nearly 40,000 for the year. Yahoo! For those considering advertising on our website, that means a constantly growing exposure. For readers, this means a never-ending buffet of true news. Who could ask for more?

5. Have you spotted strange URLs inside some of our headlines? If so, don't worry, it's a bug in the software. Sometimes URLs will randomly appear in the middle of headlines, and we're still trying to figure out why. Usually we catch most of them. If we miss one, let us know!

Take care everyone,

-- Matt & Lynsey

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Mexican military helicopter lands in Laredo, Texas "by mistake" -- Why is this becoming so common?

A Mexican military helicopter landed Saturday afternoon at Laredo International Airport by mistake, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mucia Dovalina, the uniform public affairs officer for the Laredo Port of Entry, said the helicopter landed about 3 p.m., but she couldn’t share details such as the number of occupants or whether they were armed.

Dovalina said that, following protocol, CBP officers checked out the helicopter’s occupants, then allowed them to return to Mexico in the aircraft.

“The only thing that I can tell you is that they did land here,” she said. “It was by mistake. They were processed and they were returned to Mexico.”

According to a statement from CBP, the pilot mistook the airport for a landing strip in Nuevo Laredo.

This is the latest such incursion that officials have called inadvertent as the Mexican military increases troop deployments in northeastern Mexico. In July, a convoy of soldiers rolled across the international bridge at Donna and were processed by customs and sent back across. (more)

Nato helicopter shooting 'just a lucky shot' (Uh-huh)

The apparent shooting down of a Nato helicopter by the Taliban, killing 37 people, was most likely a "lucky shot" rather than marking a new insurgent ability to destroy aircraft, military officials believe.

Crash investigators were on Sunday still recovering wreckage from the Taliban-infested valley where the Chinook crashed taking part on a night raid against militant fighters.

The crash killed 22 United States Navy SEALs from the same elite unit which killed Osama bin Laden, as well as aircrew, seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter.

The deaths marked Nato's heaviest loss of life in a single incident in the decade-long Afghan campaign.

A spokesman for the Taliban movement said the craft had been shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) from as close as 150 yards, soon after it took off following the raid.

Military officials in Kabul said the investigation may take days to determine why the troop transport crashed, but Afghan and White House officials confirmed it appeared to have been shot down. (more)

Flooding At Sadang Station, South Korea

Heavy rain causes Charlotte, North Carolina flooding

Southern California flooding


Flash Floods in North Carolina

Missouri River Flood Report August 5, 2011

Missouri River Basin Flood of 2011: The wheels on the bus go round and round...

Iran's oil minister seeks £24 billion to develop shared fields -- Independence from western investment grows

Iran will need some $40 billion (24 billion pounds) this year to spur the development of oil and gas fields it shares with neighbouring countries, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said in his first interview since being appointed to the post, published on Saturday.

Qasemi, a Revolutionary Guards commander, was given a vote of confidence in parliament on Wednesday, vowing to prioritise jointly owned fields, notably the giant South Pars gas reservoir in the Gulf where Qatar has leapt ahead of Iran in developing the valuable resource they share.

"In order to launch the announced development plans (on the joint fields) there is need for more than $40 billion in investment in the current (Iranian) year (ending late March 2012)," Qasemi said in an interview with Iran, a state-owned daily newspaper.

Qasemi, who formally began his new job on Saturday, joined the government after heading Khatam al-Anbia, the Revolutionary Guards' construction and engineering company, which has become increasingly active in Iran's energy sector, stepping in to replace foreign companies that pulled out due to sanctions.

While Iran might seek foreign capital to finance energy projects, it did not need foreign know-how, he said.

"There are currently very competent contractors domestically on which we can rely for the development of oil and gas can be done ... For the development of oil and gas fields we don't need foreign contractors." (more)

Vince Cable says China's call for new reserve currency "sensible"

Business minister Vince Cable on Saturday backed China's call for a new stable global reserve currency in light of the United States losing its AAA long-term credit rating from Standard & Poor's, but said for the moment the U.S. dollar still remained key.

China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt, has called for the creation of a secured global reserve currency amid concern over Washington's rising debt burden. On Saturday it roundly condemned the United States, after S&P's rating downgrade, for its "debt addiction.

"The Chinese have been arguing for a long time that the world monetary system needed reforming and that we need a strong reserve currency, by which I think basically they mean the special drawing rights of the IMF," Cable told BBC TV.

"This argument's been around a long time and it would be a sensible way for the world to move but it's not something we're going to do overnight." (more)

Libyan rebels push towards Az Zawiyah

Libyan opposition fighters have captured a strategic town in western Libya, as they intensify a push towards the coastal city of Az Zawiyah.

Hundreds of rebels fought Muammar Gaddafi's forces in the battle for Bir Ghanem, 85km from the capital, Tripoli, on Saturday.

"Bir Ghanem is fully under revolutionary control. They are now combing the area for Gaddafi loyalists and landmines," Abdulrahman, a rebel spokesman said by telephone from Zlitan.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr said at least 14 opposition fighters were killed and 17 were wounded in the battle which lasted only a few hours.

"It was really fierce fighting," she said. "Since early morning we heard heavy exchange of rocket fire from both sides."

The offensive was part of the rebels' attempt to get closer to Tripoli. The rebels said earlier this week they hoped to reach the capital before the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"The most important thing for them now is to reach Az Zawiyah," our correspondent said.

"They know that they can get support from inside that city, that rebels there are ready to rise up against the Gaddafi regime but they need help from outside." (click here for more and latest video)

Flooding affects areas of UK: Durham and parts of Northumberland are worst hit

In the UK, emergency services are dealing with a large number of incidents after heavy rain caused flooding in the north east of England and the North.

Durham and parts of Northumberland are the worst hit areas.

Police there have set up an incident room to deal with calls from the public and urged people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Meanwhile, Scotland has also been placed on flood alert. (source)

Protestors attack rescued Chilean miners for "selling out"

It has been a bittersweet anniversary for Chile's rescued miners, who were honoured as heroes in their home town only to come under attack by anti-government protesters.

It has been a bittersweet anniversary for Chile's rescued miners, who were honoured as heroes in their home town only to come under attack by anti-government protesters.

Some demonstrators threw fruit and small stones at the miners, accusing them of being ungrateful, greedy sell-outs.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and his ministers joined most of the 33 miners at a Catholic Mass and then the inauguration of a regional museum exhibit recognising their remarkable survival story.

But the events were marred by scuffles between riot police and students, teachers, environmentalists and other miners, all trying to make Mr Pinera bow to their pressure on issues from reforming public education and increasing miners' pay to stopping controversial dams and power plants.

Some of the activists threw oranges and apples at the miners, accusing them of getting too cosy with Mr Pinera's government and trying to cash in on their fame. (more)

Russian stock market suffers jitters as world financial chaos comes to bear

The Russian stock market dropped sharply on Friday morning as Moscow’s traders caught a dose of the international jitters.

The MICEX index fell 4.07 per cent to its lowest point since Dec. 2010, while the RTS index was down 4.6 per cent by 10:30 am Moscow time.

Alarming news from the eurozone and more fears about a “double-dip” US recession sparked a global slump on the markets, and experts warn that negative news when American unemployment figures are announced at 4:30 pm might prompt further losses, RIA Novosti reported. (source)

Shady Oleg Shvyryov: Moscow bargain building faces dump, demolition after tenants live without water, sewage, power

Real estate prices were skyrocketing in the mid-2000s, and Vladislav Vorontsov was delighted at the opportunity to buy an apartment at half the market price in a building under construction just outside Moscow.

But the two-bedroom apartment he showed a Moscow Times reporter in July had no gas, water, electricity or heating, and faced a trash dump.

Even that sorry residence may soon be lost because the building, in the town of Novoivanovskoye, west of the city, is slated for demolition as illegal. That, however, would not void Vorontsov's bank-issued mortgage of 1.5 million rubles ($55,000), which he is still four years away from paying off.

His plight is not unusual. Russian housing is notoriously expensive. Middle-class buyers are desperate for bargains, and purchasing apartments before they are built is the most common way to receive one.

But the practice is risky, and the army of cheated homebuyers — "obmanutiye dolshchiki" — numbered more than 109,000 nationwide, State Duma deputy and United Russia member Alexander Khinshtein said in March, his web site reported. In 2006, the figure was estimated at 200,000.

The businessman behind the project, Oleg Shvyryov, said he only wanted to help people, but his good intentions were blocked by local authorities. His clients insist that he was aware the construction was illegal and simply wanted to pocket their hard-earned cash. (more)

UN fears for children in Australia refugee swap

The United Nations children’s agency called on Australia Friday to scrap “inhumane” plans to send unaccompanied minors to Malaysia as part of a refugee swap.

Canberra has refused to exempt children from the agreement under which it will send 800 boatpeople to Malaysia in return for accepting 4,000 registered refugees from Kuala Lumpur over a four-year period.

The first boatload to be transferred arrived at the Christmas Island immigration detention centre on Thursday with 18 people under the age of 18 among the 55 onboard.

Thirteen of these children are believed to be travelling without parents or other guardians, and Unicef said they should not be sent to Malaysia, which is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention.

“Unicef is extremely concerned about this deal. The numbers are not large and these children we absolutely say should not be deported,” Unicef Australia chief executive Norman Gillespie told AFP.

“To deport these children, who have already been traumatised, to subject them to further trauma, we think is a very extreme action.” (more)

Bomb destroys 13 Nato tankers in Peshawar, Pakistan

A bomb destroyed at least 13 tankers on Saturday carrying fuel for Nato troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, Pakistan police said, the latest in a string of attempts to disrupt supplies.

A total of 28 Nato oil tankers were parked at a terminal on the outskirts of Peshawar, at the time of the explosion, which triggered a fire that engulfed 13 of the vehicles.

“We are trying to move away other oil tankers. We are not clear whether the bomb was planted in the terminal or with a tanker,” police official Khurshid Khan told AFP from the site.

“Sixteen tankers were completely destroyed.” There were no reports of any casualties, he added.

Mohammad Ijaz Khan, another senior police officer in Peshawar, said fire fighters were frantically trying to control the blaze. He said three explosions were heard before the fire swept through the parked tankers.

No group has claimed responsibility but the Taliban have in the past said they carried out such attacks to disrupt supplies for more than 130,000 US-led international troops fighting in Afghanistan. (more)

New details revealed in 'pizza collar bomb' heist

The image remains chilling nearly eight years later: a pizza deliveryman sitting cross-legged on the pavement with a homemade bomb clamped around his neck, surrounded by nervous police who crouch behind their cars.

"Why isn't anybody trying to get this thing off me?" he shouts to the dozens of officers nearby.

But before a bomb squad can arrive, the device goes off, killing 46-year-old Brian Wells.

In the agonizing minutes before his death on August 28, 2003, Wells told police the bomb had been fastened to his body by people who ordered him to rob a bank and follow a detailed checklist before it would be disarmed -- instructions that amounted to a twisted scavenger hunt. (more)

Donnell Graham Charged with Murdering Blind Man (After beating and robbing him, of course)

A 17-year-old Bel Air, MD, boy has been charged with murder in connection with the Friday night stabbing death of a blind man.

Donnell Graham of the 200 block of Fairwood Road has been charged with first- and second-degree murder of Patrick Xavier Ward, according to Monica Worrell, spokeswoman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office. Graham was arrested Friday at his apartment on Fairwood Road by police, who tracked him with a K-9 unit.

Worrell said in a press release that Graham was trying to burglarize Ward's apartment. Ward startled Graham, who then allegedly stabbed him multiple times and fled the area.

Neighbors entered Ward's apartment through his balcony as they saw the suspect flee the scene.

The stabbing took place at about 8:50 p.m. in the 900 block of Redfield Road. Ward, who was legally blind, was 29.

Graham has also been charged with first- and second-degree assault and possession of a deadly weapon with intent to injure. He is being held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center. (more)

US downgrade 'sounds alarm bell': China media

Standard & Poor's US debt downgrade was a wake-up call for the world, a commentary in a top Chinese state newspaper said, adding that Asian exporters faced special risks.

Citing economist Sun Lijian, the People's Daily on Sunday said Standard & Poor's Friday cut to the US' credit rating from the top notch triple-A to AA+ had "sounded the alarm bell for the dollar-denominated global monetary system".

The comments carried in the Communist Party mouthpiece follow a stinging attack launched by the official Xinhua news agency on Saturday, which said Beijing had "every right" to demand Washington safeguard Chinese dollar assets.

China -- which sat on the world's biggest foreign exchange reserves of around $3.20 trillion as of the end of June -- is the largest foreign holder of US Treasuries.

Sun, vice head of the School of Economics at Shanghai's Fudan University -- one of China's top universities -- warned that the biggest victim of the downgrade would not necessarily be the United States but countries that depended on external demand to build national wealth.

"No matter whether these are Asian countries that rely on exports of merchandise, or Latin American, Middle Eastern countries and nations such as Russia that depend on exports of natural resources," he was quoted as saying.

"All of these may face risks that the US debt they hold will fall in value, leading to a deterioration in liquidity." (more)

Tel Aviv stocks fall 7% after U.S. debt downgrade

Tel Aviv shares closed 7 percent lower on Sunday in the first response of a developed market to Standard & Poor's downgrade of the United States' credit rating that has sparked fears of another global recession.

The Israeli market along with a few emerging markets in the Middle East were the first to trade after S&P on Friday cut the U.S. long-term credit rating by a notch to AA-plus from AAA due to concerns about the nation's budget and climbing debt burden.

The TA-25 blue chip index closed down 6.99 percent to 1,074.27 points and is down 18 percent since the start of the year. The broader TA-100 slid 7.2 percent. Israel's market is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Tel Aviv market's opening was delayed by nearly an hour as circuit breakers kicked in when shares fell more than 5 percent in pre-market trade.

The last time circuit breakers were used was on Sept. 21, 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a spokeswoman for the stock exchange said.

The market fears the U.S. debt situation could spiral out of control and possibly lead to a double-dip recession, said Zach Herzog, head of international sales at the Psagot brokerage.

"If the U.S. sinks into a recession the Israeli economy can't come out of that unscathed. We are dependent on sending goods and services out," Herzog told Reuters, noting exports account for 45 percent of Israel's gross domestic product with two-thirds of exports going to the United States and Europe. (more)

S&P executive: 1 in 3 chance of future US debt downgrade

A Standard & Poor's official says there is a 1 in 3 chance that the U.S. credit rating could be downgraded another notch if conditions erode over the next six to 24 months.

The credit rating agency's managing director, John Chambers, tells ABC's "This Week" that if the fiscal position of the U.S. deteriorates further, or if political gridlock tightens even more, a further downgrade is possible.

Chambers also said Sunday that it would take "stabilization and eventual decline" of the federal debt as a share of the economy as well as more consensus in Washington for the U.S. to win back a top rating.

S&P downgraded the U.S. rating Friday, from AAA to AA+, for the first time. (source)

Usury: the root of all evil

Contemporary proverbs exist because of humankind’s understanding of past human-life experiences. In China, wisdom is passed on through sayings such as ‘a single grain of rice can tip the scales’ and ‘to innovate, one must first imitate’. The vast majority of religions and constitutions contain warnings of usury and the dangers of allowing ‘money changers’ to thrive within society. Even gentle Jesus is alleged to have become very animated at the ‘money changers’ outside a temple. All these past-human life experiences have given birth to the ‘money is the root of all evil’ proverb that exists throughout the English speaking world. I propose we change those words of that particular epitaph in everyday conversation with the sheeple. Specifically, I propose that we say, “Usury – it’s the root of all evil” whenever anyone mentions the problems we, the people, are currently enduring because of malign governments in cahoots with central banks on a GLOBAL scale.

I came to understand the underpinning mechanisms of currency, and how it can be distinguished from money very late in the day, albeit in time to transfer ALL of my wealth into physical silver bullion. That was mid 2010, and I’m therefore way behind others that have been tracking the malevolent, psychopathic, evil global elite for decades. Although I ‘knew’ something was fundamentally wrong with the world from a very young age, I’d never been able to fully track it down to the root. I had studied Psychology, Philosophy, and Education to post-graduate status, taught people from a wide range of backgrounds, toured the Far East and met many people in my thirty-something years; and it still took me up until mid 2010 to transfer ALL of my wealth into silver bullion. In 2007, I believed the cause was politics, and I still believe it is in many ways. However, after thinking long and hard about the underpinning mechanisms of currency it became apparent, and very clear: usury; it’s the root of all evil. (more)

China's New Aircraft Carriers?

Collapse: “It Will Be Sudden and Very Painful”

While it’s too early to tell whether or not the destruction in stock markets will continue as it did in 2008, one thing is for sure – when the bottom finally falls out of this economy it’s going to come as a surprise to tens of millions of people who have been bamboozled by their trusted politicians and corporate elite.

Today’s Dow Jones collapse of 350 points is but an indicator of the severe volatility and unmitigated destruction we can expect as this crisis enters the next phase. Former comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) David Walker warns that it’s going to hurt:

“Here’s the bottom line. If you take the total liabilities of the United States – public debt, unfunded pensions, retiree health care, under funding with regard to social security, with regard to medicare, a range of commitments and contingencies – as of September 30 2010 we would have had to have had $61.6 trillion dollars in the bank in order to be able to defease those obligations.” Walker explained.

“The fact of the matter is that government has grown too big, promised too much and waited too long to restructure. Our problem is overwhelmingly a spending problem.” Walker, now the head of the fiscal advocacy group the Comeback America Initiative, told viewers.

“Lets understand something very simple. If you have escalating deficits and mounting debt, that means you have to increase the debt ceiling limit at some point and it means absent structural reforms in entitlement programs, defense and other spending, those represent deferred tax increases.”

“We are not exempt from a debt crisis,” he said. “We’re never going to default, because we can print money. At the same point in time, we have serious interest rate risk, we have serious currency risk, we have serious inflation risk over time. If it happens, it will be sudden and it will be very painful.”

It’s not a matter of if, but when. The course is mathematically unsustainable, and a few hundred billion in cuts, as ridiculous as it sounds, is simply not going to be enough. (more)

Here We Go Again: US now at a debt ratio of 100% of GDP

The US settles the debt ceiling issue by raising the artificial limit over $2 trillion dollars. Yesterday it used up $240 billion of that just to catch up. We are at 100% debt to GDP. Now we have interactive brokers raising their margin rates on silver and the silver haters are calling silver a bubble again.

Logic would dictate that we are seeing once again another artificial market intervention by the Elite. How else could you explain the dollar getting stronger when we just blew $240 billion yesterday with the promise to spend $2 Trillion more? Heck, even China and Russia are now publicly calling us parasites on the world economy. (more)

Saimaiti Aishan a daredevil acrobat slipped during record-breaking tightrope walk between two balloons - 7th Aug 2011

Chinese acrobat Saimaiti Aishan, 27, set a new national record while preparing for a world record attempt at 650 feet above the ground.

Aishan, the nephew of Adili Wuxor, who is better known as 'Prince of the Tightrope', proved that the skill runs in the family after completing the feat in front of a packed crowd.

But not without losing his balance and falling from the rope.

He had to pause for a break after losing his balance, and experiencing difficulties with his balancing pole.

Then he almost fell off while celebrating.

While Aishan completed one crossing at 100 feet, he failed to cross at 328 feet, which is just half the height he is preparing to conquer in his bid to claim a fourth Guinness World Record.

The record attempt took place in China's Hunan Province on Saturday. Source

We can stop drought by tugging an iceberg to the Third World, claims scientist - 7th Aug 2011

A bizarre plan to tow giant icebergs thousands of miles from the polar ice caps to drought-ridden hotspots in the Third World could soon become a reality.

Eco-entrepreneur Georges Mougin was dismissed as a crank when he first floated his plan to end drought 40 years ago.

But new computer technology has shown that his project to tap into the 'floating reservoirs' is in fact viable and affordable.

The 86-year-old first came up with the proposal in the early 1970s when he was an engineering graduate. He designed an insulating skirt to wrap around an iceberg, which could then be towed to warmer climates without melting. Read More


Almost 70 per cent of the Earth's fresh water is held in the polar ice caps, with an estimated 40,000 icebergs - weighing up to 30million tons - breaking away from ice shelves and melting each year.

After a suitable iceberg has been selected, it is lassoed by a floating belt.

An insulating skirt made from a geotextile is then unfurled, encasing the submerged section of ice mountain. The skirt acts like a wetsuit, holding in the meltwater and insulating the iceberg.

A tug, assisted by a kite sail and ocean currents, then drags the iceberg, travelling at just one knot.

After 141 days, the tug and its giant cargo arrive in the Canary Islands - a suitable holding location from where the water can be directed to drought spots in Africa.

Jackie O tapes 'reveal how she believed Johnson killed JFK, her affair - 7th Aug 2011

Secret tapes made by Jackie Kennedy are said to contain 'explosive' contents which will lift the lid off the private life with her assassinated Husband President John F Kennedy.

The tapes, which are to be aired by ABC this Fall, are believed to contain interviews with the former First Lady, in which she talks candidly about her and her husband's affairs, and who she really believed was behind his assassination.

The tapes were recorded with leading historian Arthur M Schlesinger Jr within months of the assassination on November 22, 1963, and have been sealed in a vault at Kennedy Library in Boston until now.

Jackie O, as the world came to know her after she married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, asked that the tapes not be revealed until 50 years after her death but her daughter Caroline Kennedy decided to release them in a deal with ABC.

According to the UK's Sunday Express, during the two-hour special, Jackie will reveal details about her husband's 'meaningless flings', including a fully-fledged affair with a 19-year-old White House intern, as well as revealing that she herself plunged into affairs. Read More

Jonathan and Emma Gray killed as quad bike driven by hotel staff hits tree during Maldives honeymoon - 7th Aug 2011

A young British honeymooning couple were killed in an horrific quad bike smash on a paradise island in the Indian Ocean.

Jonathan and Emma Gray from Halifax in West Yorkshire, died yesterday as they were being driven back to their villa at a luxury resort on Kuredu.

Police today said the newly-weds, both in their 20s, died instantly when the vehicle smashed into a tree at 4am.

Spokesman Ahmed Shiyam said: 'We have a full team of officers investigating the tragic deaths of this couple. What we know so far is that they were being driven back to their room at around 4am on Saturday when their quad vehicle was involved in an accident.

'It appears that their vehicle crashed into a tree and they suffered fatal injuries. The driver of the quad bike was also seriously injured and is being treated at hospital.' Read More

FEMA Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test on 9th November 2011

Reader Contribution;

Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test Introduction

FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will conduct the first nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test on November 9, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

FEMA, the FCC, and NOAA’s vision for improving the EAS is incremental, which means testing the readiness and effectiveness of the EAS as it currently exists today is the first step. A more effective and functional EAS requires continual testing to identify necessary improvements so that all levels of the system can better serve our communities and deliver critical information that will save lives and property.

EAS Participants provide a critical public service to the nation as the resilient backbone of alert and warning when all other means of communLinkication are unavailable. EAS Participants include all broadcasters, satellite and digital radio and television, cable television and wireline video providers who ensure the system is at a constant state of readiness.

The nationwide EAS Test is not a pass or fail measure, nor will it specifically test Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) compliant equipment (although CAP compliant equipment should pass the Emergency Action Notification [EAN] live-code in the same manner as legacy EAS equipment). Read More

Nationwide EAS Test Information Materials>>>>>>>>>>

Other EAS Tests and Demonstrations

Alaska 2010 & 2011 EAN Live Code Test

On January 6, 2010 an initial EAN live code message was delivered to the Alaska Primary Entry Point (PEP) station and relayed to Local Primary (LP1) stations and other participating broadcast, television, and cable stations across the State of Alaska.

U.S. Virgin Island Tsunami Live-Code EAS Demonstration- CARIBE WAVE 11/LANTEX 11 Exercise

IPAWS was invited by the U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) to help rebuild the EAS and conduct a first-ever live-code demonstration as part of the March 23, 2011 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) CARIBE WAVE 11/LANTEX 11 Exercise.

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 7th August 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the New Britain Region, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 73.1 km ( 45.4 miles), the quake hit at 17:46:42 UTC Sunday 7th August 2011.
The epicenter was 127 km (78 miles) SSW of Rabaul, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
No damage or injuries reported at this time

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.

Footage of Mass Troop Movements Across U.S. – Are They Getting Ready? Just Regular Movements? Anyone else observe this?

We’ve long reported about the training of US military personnel for domestic deployment in the event of large scale economic breakdown, civil unrest, terrorism, and catastrophic natural disasters like asteroids. It is clear based on historical precedent that the government would hold off as long as possible before alerting the American people of an impending disaster or emergency. We strongly believe that if an ‘event’ was imminent, details and clues would emerge through alternative news reports across the internet – most of which would trickle in from user comments, forum postings, video uploads, and independent research groups like The Intel Hub. Most, if not all, of that information would be ignored and/or discredited by mainstream media, especially if the government knew of such an event and expected pandemonium and hysteria as a result. Nonetheless, it has been our mission to report on the out-of-the-ordinary occurrences in the world in the hopes of alerting our readers to fan hitting scenarios. Non-traditional news reporting may be the only preemptive warning system we have. While we urge readers not to panic, we suggest, as always, to be aware of what’s going on around you and consider the possibilities – and to plan accordingly.

In the last month and a half, The Intel Hub has received hundreds of credible tips from citizens who witnessed and or photographed domestic military/foreign movements within The United States.

While some of the reports can be written off as normal troop movements, the sheer amount of reports indicates something possibly more sinister.

To top it off, a large majority of military vehicles that have been spotted were not painted for desert conditions, rather they were sporting digital and city camouflage.

We now have reports and video evidence of multiple military convoys traveling in and around Portland Oregon.

This comes just days after The Intel Hub released photos sent to them by a concerned citizen that showed a military convoy of tanks, humvees, and jeeps, in the same type of camouflage and a week after multiple sightings of black helicopters throughout The United States.

Clyde Lewis, a veteran radio host, has had multiple callers report military movements seen in both Portland and Oregon City, Oregon.

As reported on Ground Zero, troop movements and or military movements have been reported on Ground Zero for several nights now. A caller phoned in that she witnessed that largest movement of Military vehicles, (Tanks, cannons, and other vehicles) through Portland and then southbound.

Another listener Jim sent us three known videos of this train From You Tube and the shots from witnesses are nothing short of breathtaking. Each video shows the movement of Military vehicles not painted for desert operations, but with digital or city camouflage. The question is where are these hundreds of vehicles going and for what reason? (more)

Ouch! U.S. booted from Triple-A debt club -- With things as they are, who exactly is *left* in it?

The Triple-A debt club just got even more exclusive: Late Friday, the United States was booted out of a prestigious group of countries that boast a spotless credit rating.

Now only 15 countries (and the very small Isle of Man) hold the triple-A rating from both Standard & Poor's and Moody's.

Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland are among those with the undisputed stamp of approval -- so is Isle of Man, a British crown dependency off the United Kingdom's west coast, and Singapore (both of which are too small to see on our CNNMoney map above.)

The triple-A rating enables nations to borrow funds at a low cost, because their governments are considered stable and their bonds safe. (more)

Rights group: 8 babies die after power cut to Syrian hospital

A Syrian human rights group says eight premature infants dependent on incubators died after authorities cut power to a hospital in the embattled city of Hama as part of a renewed crackdown on anti-government demonstrators calling for an end to President Bashar al-Assad's reign.

The babies died at Hurani Hospital in the northwest Syrian city on Wednesday, Rami Abdul-Rahman, president of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Sunday. Abdul-Rahman cited information provided by a hospital employee who fled the city on Saturday.

CNN cannot independently verify the account. The Syrian government could not immediately be reached for comment.

The allegation came as reports surfaced that Syrian troops rolled into the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor with tanks and bulldozers and stormed the western town of Hula early Sunday morning.

Four civilians were killed in two neighborhoods in Deir Ezzor after Syrian troops raided, according to Abdul-Rahman, who confirmed the names of the deceased with sources on the ground. (more)

AntiSec Group says it hacked 70 U.S. law enforcement sites

A hacking group said it has retaliated for the arrests of its members by attacking the websites of more than 70 U.S. law enforcement institutions and releasing 10 gigabytes of information.

The cyberterrorist collaboration AntiSec, affiliated with Anonymous and LulzSec, said it accessed and leaked hundreds of private e-mails, passwords, Social Security numbers and credit card numbers for officers, along with "snitch information."

"We have no sympathy for any of the officers or informants who may be endangered by the release of their personal information," AntiSec said in a Friday posting on the website Pastebin. "For too long they have been using and abusing our personal information, spying on us, arresting us, beating us, and thinking that they can get away with oppressing us in secrecy."

Hacking groups have claimed a number of high-profile attacks in recent months, stealing information from the U.S. Senate and Arizona state police websites, as well as data from major corporations like Sony, Bank of America and Nintendo.

They've also successfully blocked access to the websites of Visa, MasterCard, the CIA and, most recently, several News Corp. newspaper websites. (more)

Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrate for financial reform

Some quarter of a million Israelis took to the streets Saturday night in protests against the mounting cost of living for the middle class in one of the largest social outcries in Israeli history.

Demonstrations took place in many cities across the Jewish state, the largest in Tel Aviv.

Marching under the slogan, "the people ask for social justice," students, young families and older Israelis called for the Israeli government to rethink financial reforms that they say have squeezed the middle class. Protesters say this is a grassroots movement, not related to one political ideology.

At times the mood on the street took on a carnival-like atmosphere with some people dressed as clowns, crowds singing and banging on drums. But the message was serious.

"The middle class in Israel finds it hard to live here, it's hard to raise children, it is very hard to find suitable apartments. You just cannot suffer anymore, you just have to come to the streets and protest," Noga Klinger, a protester, told CNN.

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the price of a three-room apartment has increased more than 40% since 2007.

Despite a strong Israeli economy, the middle class says they are being left out. (more)

Syrian troops storm eastern and central towns

Syrian troops attacked the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, just before dawn Sunday, killing at least four people, in a bid to quell a five-month-old uprising against the government of President Bashar Assad, a human rights group said.

Activists said as explosions sounded, troops stormed in from all four sides and took control of eight neighbourhoods.

The attacks came a day after the country's foreign minister looked to allay protests demanding reforms by announcing that free parliamentary elections would be held by the end of the year.

The gesture is unlikely sooth the tensions in a battle in which the government's crackdown has left over 1,600 dead and drawn strong international sanctions and condemnation against Assad's regime.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least four people were killed when troops stormed Houleh, but the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group tracking the uprising, said seven people were killed in a bombing raid on the town. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the discrepancy.

Both regions have witnessed intense protests against Assad since the uprising began in mid-March. Syrian forces on Saturday tightened their siege on the city of Hama, a main centre for the uprising. (more)

Debt crises trigger emergency talks across world

Emergency talks focused on the debt crises in Europe and the United States are planned Sunday for G7 finance ministers before Asian markets open, while the European Central Bank will consider buying Italian public debt to stem the turmoil.

Group of Seven policymakers were to take part in their second telephone conference call of the weekend to work on a response to Friday's nosedive on financial markets in light of Standard and Poor's U.S. credit rating downgrade and intensifying debt problems in Europe.

Finance ministers and central banks from the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan may issue a joint statement after the talks, Jiji Press said in Tokyo.

Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has insisted Canada is "well-positioned" to face economic uncertainty but also cautioned the country's economy "is not an island" and could eventually be affected by the global debt troubles.

Middle East markets have already opened in Sunday trading. Many of those indexes are down sharply, but world leaders are focused on the larger Asian markets. (more)

Afghanistan's kite flyers look to the future: Will their tradition die once the Taliban regain control?

Watch Three Mexicans Serenade a Whale

Homeland Security Document: ‘All Your Websites Are Belong to Us’

The Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center (NOC) will monitor blogs, social media, public forums, message boards and keywords to create a “real time” estimate of the U.S. national threat situation.

The Mexican paper Milenio reported a few weeks back that the Department of Homeland Security Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPC) through its National Operations Center (NOC) will monitor social media websites, blogs, public forums, news websites and keywords to create a “real-time snapshot of the [U.S.] nation’s threat environment at any moment.”

As the document, titled “Privacy Impact Assessment of Public Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative,” states:

"The NOC will use Internet-based platforms that provide a variety of ways to follow activity relatedto monitoring publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards. Through the use of publicly available search engines and content aggregators the NOC will monitor activities on the social media sites listed in Appendix A for information that the NOC can use to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture. Appendix A is a current list of sites that the NOC will use as a starting point under this Initiative. Initial sites listed may link to other sites not listed.* The NOC may also monitor those sites if they are within the scope of this Initiative. The NOC will gather, store,analyze, and disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, andforeign governments, and private sector partners authorized to receive situational awareness and a commonoperating picture." (more)

*This little sentence essentially means that they'll be keeping a close eye on many other sites linking out from their Appendix A, but won't list which ones those are. Feel safe yet?

Italy faces either bailout or default: Economist

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso joined the fight to lift the region out of its financial pit, calling for expanding the EU bailout fund to help deal with the crushing debt borne by the major Euro-zone economies of Spain and Italy.

Barroso also wants the bailout fund to be able to buy government bonds.

On Wednesday, Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, attempted to reassure markets, saying the country's economy rested on a solid foundation. But according to Richard Wellings of the UK Institute of Economic Affairs, when it comes to Italy either a bailout package or a default is inevitable.

“I think bailout or default for Italy is almost inevitable, because the government has to borrow something like 500 billion euros by the end of 2013,” he said. “Now this is a particular problem at the moment because all the other major economies are trying to borrow huge amounts of funds from the markets at the same time. So I really can’t see any way out.”

Borrowing costs for both Italy and Spain surged, as investors rushed to rid themselves of risky bonds. Wellings argued that if either of them asks for help, the euro zone might not be able to foot the bill.

“We are looking at such huge amounts, the bailout fund can end up running into trillion of euros,” he said.

Barroso himself admitted that the debt crisis is spreading to the major Euro-zone economies. And Wellings says there are serious inflationary dangers in the medium term.

“We are seeing the European Central Bank today buying bonds,” he said. “There’s a danger of printing more money to get out of the crisis.” (more)

Greek shipyards kept afloat by luxury yachts for the super-rich

In the Halkitis shipyard in Perama, the Azul dwarfs everything. Four decks tall, it is just five metres shorter in length than the 3,000-tonne cargo ships that were once the staple of the Greek yards that line the shore.

But the Azul is no cargo ship. Nor is it a ferry to shuttle tourists and workers back and forth to the islands. Instead, it is a €20m (£17m) pleasure yacht being constructed for a Croatian businessman. His brother is having a twin built, identical in all details.

In a town where unemployment last year hit 60-70%, according to a survey by the University of Piraeus, and may now be nudging 80%, it is toys of the super-rich like the Azul that are keeping a handful of shipbuilders still in work.

Apostolos Kivachelis, aged 53, the foreman on the Azul, clambers down from where a dozen or so men are rubbing down the yacht's steel.

"I've worked six months in the last two years," he says. "But I'm lucky. I know lots of other people who have not worked at all." When he does get work he helps others in his family who are unemployed – just as they help him if he is out of work. "What else can we do?" he asks with a shrug. "Sometimes the bills don't get paid for two months at a time."

In his office a little way along the waterfront Demetrios Mataxas, the president of the shipbuilders' federation in the town, emerges bare-chested.

Pulling on a shirt he sits behind a desk next to which sits an antique ship's telegraph, the large round brass dial with a handle once used to send messages to the engine room. As a metaphor of what is happening to these yards, its dial hovers between "Dead Slow" and "Stop". (more)

North Las Vegas headed toward state takeover

North Las Vegas, once one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and a symbol of Nevada’s boom and sudden economic collapse, now faces the real possibility of vanishing as an independent entity, an elected official said Wednesday.

The financially struggling city, which is trying to renegotiate union contracts and sell assets such as its new city hall and wastewater treatment plant, will reveal the latest on its financial situation today to a state finance committee. If North Las Vegas continues to struggle, its financial operations could be taken over by the state.

The Legislature, which next is scheduled to convene in 2013, could ultimately “disincorporate” the city if it is unable to pay its bills. Were that to happen, it would join Gabbs, a rural former mining town, which was erased as a free-standing political entity by the Legislature in 2001.

Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, whose district includes much of North Las Vegas, said “disincorporation” is a last resort, but the city is headed in that direction. He has been told that the city’s financial problems will grow as the city’s debt load increases from expenses related to large public works projects begun at the end of the boom.

“Every day it’s more likely they’ll not continue operating,” Collins said. “I hate to say it and be the doomsday guy. But unless North Las Vegas wins big on the lottery or hits the Irish sweepstakes, I don’t know.” (more)

As Sun Storms Ramp Up, Electric Grid Braces for Impact

Storms are brewing about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) away, and if one of them reaches Earth, it could knock out communications, scramble GPS, and leave thousands without power for weeks to months.

The tempest is what's known as a solar storm, a flurry of charged particles that erupts from the sun. Under the right conditions, solar storms can create extra electrical currents in Earth's magnetosphere—the region around the planet controlled by our magnetic field.

The electrical power grid is particularly vulnerable to these extra currents, which can infiltrate high-voltage transmission lines, causing transformers to overheat and possibly burn out.

"The concern is if the electric grid lost a number of transformers during a single storm, replacing them would be difficult and time-consuming," said Rich Lordan, senior technical executive for power delivery and utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

"These power transformers are very big devices, and the lead time to get a replacement can be two months—if there's a spare one stored nearby. If a utility has to order a new one from the manufacturer, it could take six months to up to two years to deliver."

The danger is becoming more critical, as the sun is approaching what's known as solar maximum—the high point in our star's roughly 11-year cycle of activity. Scientists anticipate stronger storms around solar max, in 2013. (more)

War Game Exposes Grim Reality: Few Oil Crisis Options

Terrorists strike the world's largest oil production facility in Saudi Arabia, sending global oil prices skyward: What should the U.S. president do?

For three hours Wednesday, a group of former high-ranking U.S. government and military officials and business experts weighed the options should this hypothetical—yet realistic—scenario unfold. Amid moody war room lighting in a hotel ballroom in Washington, D.C., flanked by giant video screens, the cadre reached a bleak, if unsurprising, conclusion: There are few weapons, in the short term, for fighting an energy crisis.

"How did we let this happen?" asked Stephen Hadley, reprising his role as national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration. "How does the president answer the question that 'We've known we were dependent on oil for 20 years, and everybody's been talking about energy independence, how come we're at this point?'"

Raising that question was the central aim of the Oil Shockwave simulation, staged by the nonprofit advocacy group Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE)—a coalition of retired military leaders and business officials who aim to frame energy as a national security issue.

(Related: "First Green Supersonic Jet Launches on Earth Day," and "As Jet Fuel Prices Soar, A Green Option Nears the Runway."

Drawing on its military members’ real experience in war gaming, SAFE has organized Oil Shockwave simulations several times since it was founded in 2005. But that was when the price of oil was pushing $60, not $100 as it is today, SAFE President Robbie Diamond noted to the audience. "Unfortunately . . . it's much easier to write the scenario now than it was in 2005," he said. (more)

Ten Oldest U.S. Nuclear Plants: Post-Japan Risks

The world's largest nuclear energy producer, the United States, Tuesday aired its first detailed public examination of whether stronger safety standards are needed in light of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Although the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) task force concluded that the sequence of events that caused Japan's crisis was unlikely to recur in the United States, the panel has urged a new focus on preparing for the unexpected.

(Related: "How is Japan's Nuclear Disaster Different?)

Especially at issue is how to deal with "beyond design-basis" risks, events considered too unlikely to be factored in when the plants were being designed. The U.S. task force recommended that a framework of "extended design-basis" requirements be established for the 104 reactors in the United States. This is especially important, task force member Gary Holahan said, in light of the fact that "many of the older plants might have less robust seismic, flooding, and other features."

"Part of the concept of the framework is for the NRC to articulate” expected safety requirements, and to test all plants, no matter their age or design, against that same standard, said Holahan, deputy director of NRC's office of new reactors.

The post-Fukushima inspection reports that NRC ordered for all U.S. nuclear power plants provide a window into risks that the task force says the agency should address. (more)

The printed book is doomed: here's why

Our children will grow up with ebooks and they'll always view printed books as a less convenient relic, writes Shane Richmond.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a senior executive from a big Silicon Valley company. We talked about digital media and in passing he mentioned digital books. “I doubt that my daughter will ever buy a physical book,” he said. His daughter is nine.

Later, I thought about my two-year-old daughter. She already has lots of books but they’ve all been bought for her by adults, obviously. When she has her own pocket money will she buy a printed book? At first I was sure that she will. Our house is full of books and she loves exploring them. But the more I think about it, the less sure I am.

Last week, Penguin announced that digital sales now make up 14 per cent of its total business. John Markinson, Penguin’s chairman and chief executive, described the first six months of this year as “a watershed for book publishers and book retailers alike”.

Fourteen per cent of the market is still small but it’s growing. Printed books are doomed and here is why.

I’ve been switching between ebooks and printed books for the last couple of years. I’ve read ebooks on a Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle and on an iPad. I still like printed books; I like the design of them, I like how they feel and I like to browse a well-stocked shelf of books. (more)

Copyright: An outdated law that puts a cap on creativity

For too long, copyright laws have been manipulated as a cheap way of making money.

Congratulations – you’re no longer a criminal. At last, it will become legal to copy a CD you’ve bought on to a computer, so that you can listen to its music on a laptop, a mobile phone or any other device.

Rescinding the ban on “format shifting” (a law broken almost as frequently as the speed limit) was the most eye-catching of Vince Cable’s announcements on copyright reform yesterday. The Business Secretary was accepting the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review, which was tasked with making copyright laws fit for the digital age. New exemptions will now permit the use of works for parody without the copyright-holder’s permission, and establish licensing procedures for “orphan works” – material that’s locked away in the archives because no one knows who has the rights to it.

All of this is welcome news. But there’s one glaring flaw in our copyright regime, which the review did nothing to address: as it stands, it’s stifling the very creativity and innovation that it’s meant to protect.

Introduced in Britain in 1709 by the Statute of Anne, copyright initially protected creative works for 14 years, with the option to extend that by another 14 if the author was still alive. The need for protection was – and still is – indisputable. If your work can be reproduced by anyone else, why bother creating it in the first place? Why spend time, money and energy writing a book, for example, if someone can simply reprint it, charge less (because they have no overheads or labour costs) and walk away with the money? (more)

Japan Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Fallout News: "You wont hear this on any mainstream news" (And that's why The Coming Crisis exists)

Japan Earthquake Vibrations Nearly Reached Space

The giant earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March were so strong that their vibrations almost reached space, a new study says.

The vertical motion of the ground shaking and swelling tsunami waves produced the vibrations, which pressed upward against the overlying air, said Emile Okal, a geophysicist at Northwestern University who was not part of the study team.

This process has been known from previous earthquakes, but the vibrations from Japan caused the biggest such effect yet measured.

At ground level, such vibrations—akin to low-frequency sound waves—are very small, only about the size of the vertical motions that produce them. But as the waves travel upward into ever thinner air, they expand, Okal said.

At heights where airplanes travel, about 30,000 feet (9,100 meters), Okal said, the waves from the Japan disaster might have expanded to about three feet (one meter) in amplitude, which is the extent at which a vibration travels from its normal state of equilibrium. That's not enough for an air passenger to even feel a bump.

But in the upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, the waves were amplified to thousands of times their original sizes, scientists say. (more)

Survey: One In Four Teenagers 'Depressed' Over Job Prospects

One in four teenagers are "depressed" about their job prospects, researchers have claimed.

Almost half of the 1,500 young people questioned in the O2 Youth Matters survey said they were not confident of finding a secure job in the next five years.

Among them is Daniel Anynwu, 17, from Pimlico in central London. He has lost count of the number of jobs he has applied for since leaving school.

He told Sky News: "Basically I have tried and tried over the past few years and it has all come to nothing.

"I have to stay motivated, sometime I won't get rejected but right now I am getting rejected - we are getting rejected I should say."

The research also found that 82% of young people believe that celebrity culture creates unachievable role models, a concept that can add to low self-esteem. (more)

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world... by installing athiest reverends in churches

The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get".

"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

"When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist. (more)

Solar System Climate Change: Fact or fiction?

What if for a moment we looked at the climate change debate from a completely different perspective? Let’s take a wider view and move away from local earth bound data to what is happening in our solar system. For if there is evidence to support that climate change is occurring to planets that surround us, are we then being deceived into an agenda to makes us believe that we are the problem? Is this just another money making venture for the power elite to impose a new tax on us all? Is the climate change data we are being force fed by governments just a hoax to serve an agenda?

There is evidence to suggest that it’s not just earth going through climate change. But in fact our entire solar system is in a period of rapid change. Is our sun the central brain of the solar system which is orchestrating and driving this change? I have my personal beliefs as to why this is occurring and its one of metaphysics, but one thing at a time.

We need to do all we can to help the ecosystems of earth and we will support any legitimate programs to achieve this. We do not support the taxing of citizens in an attempt to change the worlds climate when it is apparent that this issue is bigger than earth alone.

NASA – Super Storm on Saturn –

“May 19, 2011 - NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and a European Southern Observatory ground-based telescope are tracking the growth of a giant early-spring storm in Saturn’s northern hemisphere so powerful that it stretches around the entire planet. The rare storm has been wreaking havoc for months and shooting plumes of gas high into the planet’s atmosphere.”

NASA – Odyssey Studies Changing Weather And Climate On Mars –…
“December 8, 2008 – 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.” (more)