Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London riots: Telegraph readers' photos of the rioting and looted areas of the city

This amazing picture of a car exploding on Mare Street in Hackney was taken by Telegraph reader Miks Uzans, who writes: "There were around 30 well-equipped rioters. The police didn't even come close to this; instead they were blocking the road 200m away." (view the rest of the photo gallery here)

UK riots: insurers 'will pay claims then recover money from the police'

Britain’s police forces could face a bill for tens of millions of pounds from insurance companies because property was damaged in the rioting while the “police effectively failed to keep law and order”.

Grahame Trudgill, the head of corporate affairs for the British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba), said insurance companies had the right to reclaim the money under the Riot Damages Act of 1886.

He said members would “respond” to claims from householders and small businesses, and would then attempt to reclaim the money from the police. Biba’s brokers handle around half of the value of all home contents, motor, travel, commercial and industrial insurance policies in the UK.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), the trade body for insurance companies, said damages from the three nights of civil unrest would cost “well over £100m”. Most insurers have said they will honour claims for damage caused by the rioting.

Nick Starling, the director of general insurance and health at the ABI, said home insurance policies “should cover people for fire, looting or damage caused". He added: "Many policies will also cover people for accommodation costs if they can’t stay in their home.”

Most commercial insurance policies will cover businesses for damage to their premises, including the interruption to their business as a result, while some policies will also cover businesses that are not damaged but whose trade is affected by the aftermath. (more)

UK: These riots were about race. Why ignore the fact?

What colour is Mark Duggan? Mark Duggan is the man who was shot dead by the police on Thursday in Tottenham. The Tottenham riots last night were sparked when people protested his death. This morning, I first heard of the riots on the radio, then on the television. I read articles on the internet. But oddly, no one would say what colour Mark Duggan was. No one would say the unsayable, that the rioters were, I suspect on the whole, black. Then, finally, Toby Young’s Telegraph blog post on the riots was published. Is Toby Young the only journalist out there who will dare say that these riots are about race?

Still, one paper did carry a photo of Mr Duggan. When I saw the photo, it confirmed what I knew instinctively: black youths once again have set London alight.

Some of the black kids I used to teach will tell you that the riots are absolutely justified. A number of adults would agree with them. Everywhere I read that the protest was understandable because “people are very angry”.

I’d like to know what they’re angry about. Mark Duggan is dead. He was shot by the police in a shootout. Duggan was in a minicab and shots were fired from both the cab and the police elsewhere. A police officer was hurt in the incident and a bullet was found lodged in a police radio. Either Duggan was shooting at the police or the driver of the minicab was. Either Duggan was in the wrong place at the wrong time and his death is a terrible tragedy – he was caught in the crossfire – or he shot at the police and the police defended themselves. Whatever the explanation, the police did not kill this man in cold blood. (more)

London riots: Elderly man fighting for life after being beaten by rioters while trying to fight fire

An elderly man suffered life-threatening injuries when he was attacked by rioters after he tried to extinguish a fire they had started in a bin, it is understood.

A witness said rioters attacked the victim, whose age is unknown, when he tried to put out the fire they had started in Spring Bridge Road, near to the Arcadia shopping centre, at about 11pm last night.

Commander Simon Foy, of Scotland Yard, said: ''It was quite a grave assault and his condition is causing us some concern.''

The witness, who have his name as Jim and owns stores on The Green and Devonshire Road, said: ''I went up to Spring Bridge Road to check on my other shop and saw him on the ground.

''The rioters had set a bin alight and then they jumped on him when he tried to put it out.

''They ran away when the police arrived, and they put him in the recovery position.'' (more)

London riots spread to Midlands and north-west on fourth night of trouble

Rioting and looting has spread to towns and cities throughout England, 24 hours after police were accused of losing control of the streets of London.

Officers were fighting disturbances in Manchester and Birmingham involving hundreds of youths who set fire to shops and smashed store windows.

The fourth night of riots came after David Cameron returned early from his holiday and called on police to be more robust in their response. The Prime Minister announced that the number of officers on the streets of the capital would rise from 6,000 to 16,000 in a bid to stamp out escalating lawlessness.

The Metropolitan Police also said it would consider firing plastic bullets, never before used on the mainland, against the rampaging gangs, while police leave was cancelled and special constables drafted in.

The Army’s emergency infantry battalion, known as the Spearhead Lead Element, has been put on standby should the civil unrest worsen, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

London was placed in lockdown after three nights of anarchy with shops being boarded up early in the afternoon and office workers hurrying home before dark as rumours swirled that mobs were forming at locations throughout the city. But as police officers from 30 forces poured into the capital it became increasingly clear that the tactic had left the provinces exposed. By early evening a number of outbreaks of violence were confirmed. (more)

Anonymous hacker group vows to 'kill Facebook' on November 5, 2011

Apparently, "Anonymous" won't be accepting your friend request.

Members of the shadowy collective known for its politically motivated Web hacks and attacks are targeting Facebook for what they claim to be the social-networking giant's misuse of personal information.

"Your medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed," the speaker said in a YouTube video, which was posted July 16 but started circulating widely this week.

Using a voice modulator to disguise his (or her) voice, the speaker, who purports to represent Anonymous, invites viewers to "join the cause and kill Facebook for the sake of your own privacy."

"Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your privacy settings, and deleting your account is impossible," the speaker says. "Even if you delete your account, all your information stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time."

The video also makes the unsubstantiated claim that Facebook has been selling user information to government agencies and giving it to security firms so they can spy on people. (more)

Iran says U.S. 'will be taught the mother of all lessons: Editorial warns of pending cyber attack on electrical grid: Propaganda bluster? True threat?

Iran is planning to retaliate against the United States for the sabotage against its nuclear program, according to an editorial in the Kayhan newspaper, the mouthpiece of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The U.S. has all of its infrastructure connected to the Internet, the editorial says, and as a result, "it is constantly worried about an unknown player, who they will never be able to identify ... sitting in some corner of the world who would launch an attack on a sector of (the Americans') foundations. They will be taught the mother of all lessons."

Specifically, Iran is looking into launching a cyber attack against U.S. electrical grid systems.

Iranian officials are furious over the July 23 assassination of nuclear scientist Dariush Rezai-Nejad, who was working on electric detonators for the Iranian nuclear program, which can be used on missiles or nuclear bombs. He was the third Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated since 2009.

The frustration over acts of sabotage started with the computer virus Stuxnet in which 1,000 of Iran's centrifuges at the Natanzs nuclear facility were destroyed and had to be replaced. The virus also attacked the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which has resulted in repeated delays in it joining the country's power grid.

The July 29 Kayhan editorial threatening America with retaliation said that during the last month, the United States has published two strategy documents regarding cyberspace, both of which emphasize the ever-evolving nature of Internet communications. (more)

Sled dog slaughter harmed Inuit, Quebec acknowledges: Canada

The Quebec government has acknowledged the negative effects on Inuit society of a mass slaughter of sled dogs in the province's far north in the 1950s and 1960s.

Premier Jean Charest and his native affairs minister signed an agreement on Monday to that effect in Kangiqsualujjuaq in the presence of Pita Aatami, president of the Makivik, which promotes aboriginal development and culture.

The provincial government also pledged $3 million to support the Inuit in the protection and promotion of their culture.

The resolution of the thorny issue follows a report by Judge Jean-Jacques Croteau last year. He had been named by Quebec and Makivik to investigate the events surrounding the killing of hundreds of dogs in Nunavik by police in the 1950s and 1960s.

Officials apparently said at the time that the killings were carried out in the interest of public safety. Recognition of the incident by the Quebec government was one of the recommendations of Croteau's report.

"The Quebec government recognizes that Inuit society has been affected by the sled dog slaughter," Charest said in a statement. "We hope that this agreement signed today demonstrates the desire of Quebec to work hand in hand with the Inuit."

The sled dog massacre was also investigated by a House of Commons committee in 2006 and by the RCMP during the same period. The RCMP investigation cleared the federal force of any wrongdoing. (more)

Mayor Nutter Sets 9 PM Weekend Curfew For Minors In Center City, University City to Combat Gang Violence

Mayor Michael Nutter today announced a tighter weekend curfew in the Center City and University City regions of the city, as he continues grappling with the threat of “flash mobs” in Philadelphia.

Nutter today described those engaging in flash mob rampages (see previous story) as “a tiny minority of ignorant, reckless fools.”

Then, flanked by dozens of law enforcement and community leaders, he spelled out a substantive (though temporary) change in the city’s curfew for two key areas — Center City and University City — on Friday and Saturday nights.

Anyone under 18 in those areas must now be off the streets by 9 PM.

And when parents come to pick up curfew violators, the mayor said, they’ll be told to keep track of the child.

“If you don’t even bother to pick up your child, we are immediately calling the Department of Human Services, and you can then be taken to court for other violations including neglect of your child,” he warned. (more)

Mayor Michael A. Nutter to marauding black youths: "You have damaged your own race"

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, telling marauding black youths “you have damaged your own race,” imposed a tougher curfew Monday in response to the latest “flash mob” — spontaneous groups of teens who attack people at random on the streets of the city’s tourist and fashionable shopping districts.

“Take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer,” Mr. Nutter, the city’s second black mayor, said in an angry lecture aimed at black teens. “Pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.”

“If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ‘cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said. “You have damaged your own race.”

Mr. Nutter announced that he was beefing up police patrols in certain neighborhoods, enlisting volunteers to monitor the streets and moving up the weekend curfew for minors to 9 p.m.

Parents will face increased fines for each time their child is caught violating the curfew. (more)

Sheila Decoster: Ohio woman falls into recycling bin, dies inside

Authorities in Ohio say a woman who died after falling face first into a recycling bin had gotten stuck in a spot where she couldn't breathe.

The woman's husband says he came home from work and found her legs sticking out of the container that sits alongside their porch.

He tells The Blade newspaper of Toledo that he first thought it was a dummy. He says he shook her legs and knew she was gone.

A coroner in Toledo says that 62-year-old Sheila Decoster died Friday from positional asphyxia.

A city official says it looks like she was standing on her porch when she leaned over and fell into the 64-gallon container.

Her husband says Decoster had several medical issues that could explain why she fell inside. (more)

Thomas Fortenberry: Honey-Soaked Naked Girls Were Filmed By Pastor... but statute of limitations saves Texas man, 30, from prosecution

Using a hidden video camera, a Texas man filmed four naked, honey-drenched teenage girls while they showered at a church where he worked as a youth pastor.

But since the statute of limitations has already expired, prosecutors today were forced to dismiss felony charges lodged against Thomas Fortenberry, who allegedly did the surreptitious filming in November 2007 at the Greater Harvest Community Church in Pasadena.

The 30-year-old Fortenberry, investigators alleged, organized a “Fear Factor” game that included honey being poured over four girls he had picked to participate. After the contest, Fortenberry instructed the minors that they “could take a shower and wash the honey” off their bodies.

It was at this point that he allegedly videotaped the four teenagers with a camera he had hidden in the church bathroom.

Investigators learned about the filming from one of the girls, who eventually went on to date Fortenberry. “When they became closer and it looked like they might be married,” Fortenberry, pictured above, told the victim, now 21, “that he had secretly videotaped her taking a shower” at the church. (more)

George Daw, School Bus Driver: I Was Fired for Helping Police

A school bus driver on Long Island is fighting to regain his job after being fired last week for being a Good Samaritan, apparently against company policy.

George Daw claimed he was terminated because he helped three Nassau County police detectives during last Monday's hail and rain storm.

"I felt this was something anyone would do under the circumstances," said Daw, 58.

Daw was driving a mini-bus carrying a teenage passenger and a bus matron last Monday as golf ball-size hail and torrential rain pelted New Hyde Park. On Hillside Avenue, Daw came upon on a stalled unmarked police car carrying detectives, according to Detective Lt. Raymond Cote. The car had been filling with water.

"They're saying, you've got to help us, you've got to help us," said Daw. "You've got to get us to the third precinct. We're police officers."

Daw did just that, pushing through the flood waters to pick up the detectives and deliver them to their precinct.

"I felt they were in danger," explained Daw.

Daw's employer, Educational Bus Transport of Copiague, didn't agree.

After Daw filed a report about what happened, he was terminated from his job of nine months.

Company paperwork supplied by Daw showed he was fired in part because he violated policy prohibiting drivers from picking up unscheduled passengers.

"We have policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of the children we transport," responded the bus company's vice-president, Tim Flood.

"When these policies and procedures are not followed, we will address them in an appropriate manner," Flood continued. "This particular employee was not terminated solely because of the pick-up of unscheduled passengers."

Flood would not elaborate further.

When asked if Daw's actions endangered his passengers, Detective Lt. Cote said, "No."

"It's sad when we hear his good deed cost him his job," Cote added. (more)

Another Chinook helicopter crash lands in Afghanistan days after Taliban kills 38

A NATO helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan this morning, just two days after 38 people were killed in another Chinook crash.

Officials said there were no apparent casualties on board the ISAF helicopter, which mad a 'hard landing' in the volatile Paktia province.

An investigation is underway but it appears there was no enemy activity in the area at the time, confirmed ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Doherty.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed in a text message sent to Reuters that the Islamist group had shot down the helicopter, another Chinook, in the Zurmat district of Paktia, killing 30 American soldiers.

The Taliban often exaggerate claims in attacks against foreign troops and Afghan security forces and government targets, although they correctly identified the number killed in the weekend's Chinook crash in Wardak. (more)

Forced to strip naked in the street: Shocking scenes as rioters steal clothes and rifle through bags as people make their way home: UK Riots

This is the shocking moment a young man is apparently forced to hand over all of his clothes after appearing to be stripped naked during lawless riots overnight.

Internet rumours last night claimed that on top of the widespread destruction across London and Birmingham, people were having their clothes removed by looters as police attempted to contain the criminality.

Reports on Twitter claimed some people were being stripped, while another shocking video shows a bleeding teenager being robbed in broad daylight by lawless thugs who pretend to help him to his feet.

On Twitter, numerous posters claimed there had been incidents of people being stripped naked in Birmingham, although the reports are unsubstantiated. (more)

Avoiding Global Recession? Mission impossible, says Dr Doom

VOIDING a severe global recession ''might simply be mission impossible'' after Standard &

Poor's decision to downgrade he US's credit rating, a prominent US economist, Nouriel Roubini, has said.

Professor Roubini - dubbed Dr Doom after predicting the collapse of the subprime mortgage market that precipitated the 2008 global financial crisis - said a recession would mean a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy.
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S&P's timing had added to global financial stress and significantly increased the risk of a double dip recession, he told Bloomberg.

''At this point in time, after two days of extreme market volatility, after a larger number of data suggesting the risk of double-dip recession, after severe financial stress in Spain and Italy … doing it at a time when there is turmoil in the markets … is maybe ensuring that a recession is going to occur.

''It's going to make solvency even worse. It's the wrong decision at the wrong time,'' Dr Roubini said.

S&P should have deferred making a decision until the new joint committee in Congress had been given a chance to make deficit reduction recommendations later in the year.

He also questioned the effectiveness of Federal Reserve moves.

''To minimise the risk of a probably unavoidable double-dip recession, or make it less severe, there is going to be more monetary easing. But QE3 is going to be too little too late,'' he said. (more)

"End of the American era"

The first week of August 2011 will probably go down in history as the time when the American dollar effectively and finally lost its status as the world’s foremost reserve currency -- and European leaders were told by the market that it does not believe they have a credible plan in place to deal with the Euro zone’s sovereign debt problems.

The week started hopeful enough with the American congress, after weeks of political brinkmanship, at the eleventh hour reaching a bi-partisan deal to lift that country’s debt ceiling. But, within hours on the back of disappointing economic indicators such as manufacturing and employment figures, and renewed bad news from European countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal, it went pear -shaped.

By the end of the week, as European leaders were departing for their summer holiday destinations, there was carnage on world markets as investors fled for safe havens in what some commentators described as panic. By the end of the week some $2.5 trillion was wiped off the value of global equities.

To top the week off one of the three leading rating agencies, Standard & Poor (S&P) stripped the United States of its AAA credit rating, just hours after the markets closed for the weekend.

In a way the S&P-move was just a confirmation of what the markets have been saying: America, because of its debt, is no longer the world’s safest investment destination.

Early in the week Bloomberg reported that the committee of bond dealers and investors that advises the US Treasury said the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency “appears to be slipping.” The committee said the outperformance of haven currencies (like the Swiss franc) and those from emerging nations, has aided the debasement of the dollar’s reserve status.

“The idea of a reserve currency is that it is built on strength, not typically that it is best among poor choices …,” one of the presentations by a committee member stated. “The fact that there are no currently viable alternatives to the US dollar is a hollow victory and perhaps portends a deteriorating fate.”

These words proved to have been almost prophetic in light of what happened at the end or the week. (more)

Killing the Irrawaddy: Burma

Being neighbors with China is not something the people of Burma chose for themselves, but they have to heavily bear the repercussions. For many decades, China’s influence has intruded on their daily lives politically, economically, socially and culturally. However, the relationship has now reached a tipping point, as this dominant neighbor is not only supporting the country’s ruling dictators, and stealing the country’s vast natural resources, but also directly destroying the lives of the people of Burma.

In this land of pagodas, paddy fields and smiles, for centuries the people of Burma have proudly owned seven natural treasures gifted by Mother Nature. They are the three parallel chains of mountain ranges, called the Western Yoma (Rakhine Yoma), the Bago Yoma and the Eastern Yoma (the Shan Yoma), and the four major rivers, called the Irrawaddy (Ayeyawady), the Chindwin, the Sittaung and the Thanlwin. All are national landmarks of the country, and they have grown together with its people for countless generations. The Irrawaddy is the most important river among the four, and it is now under attack by the greedy autocrats, the Burmese regime and the Chinese government. If no efforts are made right now, the Irrawaddy will disappear from the map of Burma in coming decades. It will become a tragic memory of history for future generations in Burma. (more)

Can America still lead?

The first week of August 2011 will be remembered as a singularly irrational, wasteful and shameful moment in the political and economic history of the United States. It reflected much of what is wrong with the priorities of our political elites and the obsessions of those who now hold effective veto power over our government.

It began with the world hanging on to every development in the debt-ceiling negotiations as it fretted over whether Washington’s dysfunction would lead to American default and global calamity. Even robustly pro-American commentators and politicians wondered aloud if the United States could still govern itself.

Yet by Thursday, even though default was averted through a deal that largely capitulated to Republican demands, calamity arrived anyway. Around the world, markets imploded. The debt-ceiling crisis artificially created by right-wing American politicians didn’t matter nearly as much as the dangerous fragility of the global economy and Europe’s far more profound debt crisis.

And to complete this portrait of fecklessness, Standard & Poor’s, which once happily and profitably stamped triple-A ratings on rip-off mortgage-backed securities, ended the week by downgrading the federal government’s creditworthiness. S&P once caved to pressure from Goldman Sachs in its rating of private securities, yet it refused even to pause in its dissing of American creditworthiness despite the Obama administration’s successful challenge to some of its numbers. We need to learn far more about what forces pushed S&P to this outlandish and highly politicized decision. (more)

Everyone's counting financial cost but social unrest could follow as night does day (as we're now begining to see)

Investors in global equities markets might be feeling battered and bruised as fears of a global recession take hold but the riots in London could become a symbol of a social backlash smouldering away in the debt-bloated countries of Europe and the US.

With so much negativity, it is hard to see what will snap everyone out of the malaise. Here, the market breached the psychological 4000 barrier yesterday, wiping off billions of dollars, and it looks as if it doesn't know how to stop.

Over the past 21 trading days, the market has fallen by a whopping 14.6 per cent. Since April it has fallen by 20 per cent.
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The local market went on a rollercoaster ride yesterday, ending almost 3 per cent lower after China was sold off on fears that Chinese consumer price index data today will be higher than expected.

While the equities' market was down by 2.7 per cent on the day, and margin calls were aplenty, the biggest business being done was in the options market as investors tried to protect themselves against wild swings in the stockmarket.

With the US credit downgrade by Standard & Poor's (S&P) on Friday and the sovereign debt drama in the Eurozone, the world is approaching a new level of uncertainty. (more)

Israel's Worst Case Scenario: Its Eradication as a State, and Some Feel It's Coming

Maybe it is the influence of a Tisha B'Av way of looking at reality. This article is a nightmare scenario intended to act as a wake up call.

How can a tiny nation, hated wherever it resides, possibly survive? This has been the paramount question governing Jewish life for two millennia.

During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, the country lost more than 6.000 of her finest soldiers, which was 10 percent of her total population, the equivalent of 3 million losses pro-rated for America’s population. A devastating start on the road of independence.

So when one recalls the reality which faced Israel in 1948 and where the country is today, it is nothing short of a miracle. Every other people so conquered and exiled has in time disappeared. Only the Jews defied the norm. Twice.

But, I fear, never again. That’s why Israel’s worst scenarios matter today, even if the peaceniks continue to protest against occupying anybody except the caf◊ôs in Tel Aviv.

Maybe imagining the nightmare scenario is only the fantasy of some pessimist writers. Maybe Israel will live through a very quiet period ahead and the worst-case predictions will never materialize.

But Israel’s enemies are working for a future that is clear to them: a world without Zionism, a world without Israel. (more)

China's inflation rate quickens in July as prices rise and economy deteriorates

Inflation in China was higher than expected in July, despite a series of efforts by the government to rein in prices.

Consumer prices in July rose 6.5% compared with the same month last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The rise comes even as China's central bank has raised interest rates five times since October 2010 in a bid to control prices.

Rising consumer prices have become a hot political issue in China.

"There is no doubt inflation is not getting better, given the month-on-month numbers," said Wei Yao of Societe Generale. (more)

Marange diamond field: Zimbabwe torture camp discovered

A torture camp run by Zimbabwe's security forces is operating in the country's rich Marange diamond fields, BBC Panorama has found.

The programme heard from recent victims who told of severe beatings and sexual assault.

The claims come as the European Union pushes to let some banned diamonds from the country led by President Robert Mugabe back onto world markets.

The Zimbabwean government has not responded to the BBC's findings.

In an internal document seen by the BBC, the EU said it was confident that two mines in the area now meet international standards and it wants diamonds from those areas to be immediately approved for export, which would partially lift a trade ban dating back to 2009.

The ban was imposed by the Kimberley Process (KP), the international organisation that polices diamonds, following reports of large-scale killings and abuse by Zimbabwe's security forces in the Marange diamond fields. (more)

Two New Crop Circles: Bridge Inn & Wayland Smithy 4th Aug 2011, UK

Crop Circle 7th Aug 2011 at Temple Farm, near Rockley, Wiltshire UK

Hackers take aim at prison locks and other real-world targets

If you've seen the 1983 movie "WarGames," in which a young Matthew Broderick accidentally uses computers to bring the world to the edge of "global thermonuclear war," then you have a pretty good idea what hackers and security researchers are super-concerned about these days -- in real life.

Here at the Black Hat hacker conference at Caesars Palace, computer security experts have shown ways they can use virtual tools to tap into and tamper with all kinds of stuff in the real world, which is the gist of what made "WarGames" so scary.

No longer limited to the digital domain, hackers -- many of them working for good -- are now targeting prison systems, the power grid and automobiles. They'll target anything with a mini-computer inside of it. These days, that's pretty much everything.

Researcher Don Bailey pointed out that there's even a pill bottle with a cellular connection, so that it can remind its owner when to take his or her medicine.

His first thought: "I'm not sure if that's a good idea."

A computer worm called Stuxnet is the main reason hackers and security types are focusing on these "real-world exploits" right now. While Stuxnet isn't grabbing as many headlines these days as Anonymous and LulzSec -- two hacking groups that have been stealing personal data and taking over big-name websites -- in-the-know security experts and ex-government officials say the idea behind that worm is actually far scarier.

"The Stuxnet attack is the Rubicon of our future," Cofer Black, the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, said during a keynote talk. (more)

Ireland property 'not yet at bottom' -- could take 10 years for property market to recover

Irish property prices have yet to hit bottom and as a result the final bill for bailing out the banks is likely to be in the region of €90 billion to €100 billion, economist Morgan Kelly said last night.

In his Hubert Butler Lecture to the Kilkenny Arts Festival, Mr Kelly said: "we are very far from the bottom" of the property market and added it would take a decade for the economy to recover from the fallout.

While prices had fallen by 50 per cent, he said “almost no transactions were taking place at that price” and with unsold properties starting to accumulate, Mr Kelly said “we are very far from the bottom of the market”.

He also estimated Ireland’s national debt would rise to between €240 billion and €250 billion by 2015, far higher than the current Government estimates of €200 billion. He said that there was no way the country could repay this.

The UCD economist said the Irish economy would require a decade to recover from the current crisis.

Addressing the extent of property price inflation, Mr Kelly said that by 2007, “we were building half as many houses as Britain which is 15 times our size”. A consequence of this building boom was that the price of an average Dublin home cost “15 times the average industrial wage”. (more)

Kashmir: A wounded paradise (Photo Gallery)

It is a place of soaring mountains, gushing rivers and green meadows considered a utopia by those who visit. But for residents, Kashmir is a place of injustice, death and destruction. It is a wounded paradise where orphanages, military checkpoints and "martyrs'" graveyards disfigure the landscape. (view entire gallery here)

Oklahoma and Texas droughts worsened significantly after governors asked citizens to pray for rain

In light of the sustained drought, Governor Mary Fallin today asked all Oklahomans to set aside time this Sunday, July 17, to pray for rain.

That was two weeks ago. The result is that Oklahoma went from the drought condition on the right to the one on the left in just two short weeks.

Yes, in a mere two weeks, another 30% of the state went into extreme or exceptional drought! Now the entire state is under severe drought or worse.

For some reason, science-denying southern Republican governors keep returning to one particular ineffectual ‘adaptation’ strategy: “Texas Drought Now Far, Far Worse Than When Gov. Rick Perry Issued Proclamation Calling on All Texans to Pray for Rain“ (7/15/11).

And speaking of Gov. Perry, who apparently is edging closer and closer to a presidential run, his state has been utterly devastated since his proclamation. Texas A&M reports:

As Texas continues to bake in record heat, the drought news for the state continues to be bleak – Texas is now in the midst of its most severe one-year drought on record, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. …

Nielsen-Gammon explains [,] “Never before has so little rain been recorded prior to and during the primary growing season for crops, plants and warm-season grasses.” (more)

Pentagon Actually Gained $50 Billion from Spending Cuts Deal

To hear Pentagon officials tell the story, the recent agreement to deal with the federal debt by cutting military spending is a potentially catastrophic threat to U.S. security. But if you read between the lines, it doesn’t look so bad after all.

Since the Obama administration and Congress hammered out a last-minute compromise to keep Uncle Sam from defaulting on his obligations, the story about the Department of Defense has centered on the $350 billion reduction in its budget over the next dozen years or so.

However, back in April President Barack Obama had proposed cutting the Defense budget by $400 billion, so the Pentagon actually gained at least $50 billion in the deal.

“This is a good deal for defense when you probe under the numbers,” Lawrence Korb, a defense expert at the Center for American Progress, told McClatchy Newspapers. “It’s better than what the Defense Department was expecting.”

Korb points out that the defense budget could be chopped by $100 billion annually over the next decade and the Defense Department would still have more to spend than it did during the height of the Cold War (with inflation factored in).

Even worse for liberals who want defense spending cut is this tidbit published by The Washington Post: The Obama administration has publicly said the debt-ceiling deal will cut $350 billion in defense spending over 10 years, “but those same officials acknowledge that theirs is just an estimate and that mandated defense cuts aren’t actually in the bill.” (source)

That 1937 feeling all over again: Depression imminent?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, an expert on the Great Depression, once promised that the central bank would never repeat its 1937 mistake of rushing to tighten monetary policy too soon and prolonging an economic slump.

He has been true to his word, keeping interest rates near zero since late 2008 and more than tripling the size of the Fed's balance sheet to $2.85 trillion. But cutbacks in government spending may end up having a similarly chilling effect on the economy, and there is little Bernanke can do to counter that.

Back in 1937, the U.S. economy had been growing rapidly for three years, thanks in large part to government programs aimed at ending the deep recession that began in 1929.

Then the central bank clamped down hard on lending, and federal government spending dropped 10 percent. The economy contracted again in 1938. The jobless rate soared.

"Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again," Bernanke said back in 2002 at a conference honoring legendary economist Milton Friedman's 90th birthday. (more)

UK Riots: Manchester now a "war zone" -- Man shot dead during rioting in London: "If help doesn't come soon, there won't be a city left"

DETAILS FROM SKY NEWS: Sporadic rioting and looting has spread to Manchester, Salford and the West Midlands - as police and some residents patrolled the streets in London. (source)

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 9th August 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honsh, Japan at a depth of 41.1 km, the quake hit at 19:35:38 UTC Tuesday 9th August 2011.
The epicenter was 30 km East of Hitachi, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No damage or injuries reported at this time

UK Riots 2011: Trouble Hotspots -- The Worst Affected Areas - 9th Aug 2011

There are reports of trouble in both Manchester and the West Midlands this evening as violence across Britain continues.

As 16,000 police swarm London streets in preparation for a fourth night of chaos, seven people were arrested in Manchester and a further 20 in the West Midlands.
  • Manchester
  • Salford
  • West Bromwich
  • Wolverhampton
  • Birmingham
  • Hackney
  • Ealing
  • Lewisham
  • Peckham
  • Croydon
  • Clapham
  • Enfield
  • Birmingham
  • Liverpool
  • Bristol Source

Jamie Oliver's eatery destroyed in Birmingham riots - 9th Aug 2011

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver says his Jamie's Italian restaurant in Birmingham, was heavily damaged in this week's riots.

"Sadly my restaurant in Birmingham got smashed up windows all gone whole area closed, cant open, staff and customers all safe!!" E! News reported Oliver said via Twitter Tuesday.

"So sad to see whats happening in UK with these Riots!all gone mad !time to get our country back now we need 2 come down hard on these idiots," he wrote.

Oliver said his Recipease cooking school in the Clapham Junction section of London was left untouched, however, E! News said. Source

UK Riots: Baseball Bat Sales Soar Above 6,500 Percent on Amazon - 9th Aug 2011

Sales for baseball bats on Amazon UK have risen by more than 6,000 percent over the past 24 hours, as the London riots stretch into their third day and spill to neighboring towns.

The most popular choice Tuesday was the 23-inch Rucanor aluminum baseball bat, which is selling for about $28. The item has climbed from 6,794 to the 105th most popular sports and leisure item on Amazon UK. Sales wrote 6,541 percent from yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The next most popular item is a military police baton, which is followed by another five baseball bats.

The sales patterns appear to be a measuring stick of the national mood, as looting, vandalism and arson spread throughout London on Monday. Source

Melanie Cole befriended 91-year-old man 'before beating him to death with wine bottle to steal money' - 9th Aug 2011

A woman battered a helpless 91-year-old man to death with a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape wine after befriending his family, the Old Bailey heard today.

Widower William Reilly, of Tottenham, north London, was 'brutally attacked' in his bedroom by Melanie Cole, 49, for just a few pounds which he kept in a coat, jurors were told.

Mr Reilly, a father-of-three, suffered multiple skull and facial fractures after being clubbed over the head with the bottle of wine and a bottle of Dry Orange Curacao liqueur.

He was found by his eldest son James sitting on the edge of his bed, covered in blood, four days after Christmas, on December 29 last year.

The pensioner, registered blind and almost completely deaf, died a week later on hospital by inhaling his own vomit, after developing pneumonia.

Ms Cole, of Hackney, east London, had previously stolen cash from the elderly man, who she had met in a pub close to his home in Tottenham and would turn up announced, the court heard.

Mr Reilly had called her the 'bottle pincher' after she had taken a whisky bottle containing loose change from the house, some 18 months before his death. Read More

Warren Jeffs sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison as picture emerges of 50 brides, bred to worship the polygamous 'prophet' - 9th Aug 2011

Standing neatly side by side, 50 young girls pose as if for a school yearbook, their smiles every bit as uniform as their pastel outfits and tightly quiffed hairdos.

Their innocent enthusiasm is focussed on one goal alone - worshipping the man framed behind them, who has cruelly bred them for manipulation.

As a Texas jury sentenced Warren Jeffs to life plus 20 years in prison for his crimes as their church leader, extraordinary pictures have emerged of the wives of the notorious polygamist, offering insight into the twisted world of subjugation with which he surrounded himself.

Jeffs, the 55-year-old self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was last week convicted of two counts of sexually assaulting a child - one 12 and one 14-year-old.

Today, after less than half an hour of deliberations, the jury at court in Texas sentenced him to the maximum possible time behind bars for his crimes.

Jeffs was given life behind bars for the first count of aggravated sexual assault and an extra 20 years, to be served consecutively, for the second count of sexual assault - the maximum allowed for each count. He was also handed a $10,000 fine. Read More

Blackberry Website Hacked in Wake of London Riots - 9th Aug 2011

Reader Contribution;

Hackers defaced a website belonging to Blackberry maker Research in Motion Tuesday afternoon, after the company said it would aid London police investigating several days of rioting that have already led to one death.

Police investigating the extraordinary escalation of London's rioting and disorder believe that instant messages sent via Blackberry smartphones played a vital role in coordinating the riots. Patrick Spence, managing director at manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM), said the company had reached out to police to offer its aid, potentially turning over messages from rioters.

Hackers promptly took issue with that plan, defacing a blog run by RIM in retaliation.

"No Blackberry you will NOT assist the police," wrote one member of the hacker group TeaMp0isoN, which claimed responsibility for the hack.

The Blackberry blog was briefly taken offline and subsequently restored to its original state, but an archive page of the hack reveals an angry message from a TeaMp0isoN hacker who calls himself Trick.

"You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all, the Police are looking to arrest as many people as possible to save themselves from embarrassment."

The hacker claimed to have accessed RIM employee information, including addresses, names, and phone numbers. Read More

Disorder Breaks Out In The West Midlands - 9th Aug 2011

There have been reports of unrest this evening in West Bromwich and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands.

In Wolverhampton, some stores have been broken into, and in West Bromwich, two cars have been set on fire.

The number of police officers on London's streets tonight trying to prevent further rioting and looting is almost being trebled to 16,000.

After police were vastly outnumbered on Monday night with just 6,000 officers on patrol amid "sickening" scenes of violence, the Prime Minister announced the increase in police numbers.

At least 563 people have been arrested and 105 people charged since the disorder began in London on Saturday night.

And a total of 111 officers and five police dogs have been injured during escalating riots in the capital, Scotland Yard said.

All Metropolitan Police leave has been cancelled and special constables have been asked to work.

Reinforcements are being provided by 26, or 60%, of the country's other forces, and the Met has called on retired officers to help out. Read More

No Chance of Default, US Can Print Money: Greenspan

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Sunday ruled out the chance of a US default following S&P's decision to downgrade America's credit rating.

"The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default" said Greenspan on NBC's Meet the Press

"What I think the S&P thing did was to hit a nerve that there's something basically bad going on, and it's hit the self-esteem of the United States, the psyche" said Greenspan

Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House's council of economic advisors, hit out at S&P on the same show, insisting the credit ratings agency had got its math wrong.

"Well, the basic case is they made a $2 trillion math error and forgot to check their work," he said. "So rating agencies that didn't make a $2 trillion math error reaffirmed the AAA status. You saw Warren Buffet say that, if they had a AAAA, he would put U.S. Treasuries in AAAA status." (more)

Pardon me as I wipe away a tear from laughing so hard.

Japan ignored own radiation forecasts: School in path of plume from damaged Fukushima plant became shelter

An Associated Press investigation has found that Japan exposed thousands of its citizens to risk by failing to use radiation forecasts in the early days of its nuclear crisis.

The government forecasts predicted Karino Elementary School would be in the path of the plume emerging from the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

But they never reached decision-makers and the school was not cleared out. Instead, it became a temporary evacuation center.

It's unclear how much radiation people were exposed to or if they will suffer health problems. But the breakdown may hold lessons for other countries because similar warning systems are used around the world. This was their first test in a major crisis. (more)

London Riots 2011

U.S. Recovery Canceled Due To New, Neverending Economic Depression

The stock markets just closed in New York, hooray! (“Hooray,” because now the stock markets can’t fall any further today. But tune in tomorrow!) If you don’t care because you’re already poor — hello, 90% of America! — or you have retirement and/or investment accounts and have just been too terrified to look at, the Dow Jones Industrial Index closed down 635 points, or another 5.5% in the toilet. Wh-wh-whut’s happening? Didn’t Obama and Boehner solve the “debt crisis” or whatever made-up horse poop they invented to avoid talking about the tens of millions of unemployed workers and the stagnant/declining wages for those still hanging onto jobs and the other symptoms of our long national recovery?

So, after the S&P genius division “downgraded” America’s ability to repay its massive debts — because of the Republicans and their enabler, Barack Obama, committing national suicide for the hell of it — Osama bin Laden came back from his watery grave to kill the Navy SEALs who killed him, and then America’s official holy land (Israel) also got downgraded (to semi-holy land) and then the weekend finally ended and Institutional Investors/Hedge Fund Managers/Voldemort said, “Eh, let’s cash out and take the rest of the world down with us … although we won’t really be down so much as slightly less crazy rich.”

Paul Krugman, now reduced to headlines such as today’s “Aaauuuggghhh!,” says the S&P downgrade didn’t actually cause today’s collapse, because if it did, then why are stocks being dumped and U.S. treasuries purchased as a safe haven?

Once again: S&P declared that US debt is no longer a safe investment; yet investors are piling into US debt, not out of it, driving the 10-year interest rate below 2.4%. This amounts to a massive market rejection of S&P’s concerns. The “signature” of debt concerns should be stock and bond prices both falling; what we actually see is those prices moving in opposite directions. And that’s normally the signature of concerns about a weak economy and deflation risk (see Japan, decline of).

What triggered economy fears? To some extent I think this is a Wile E. Coyote moment, with investors suddenly noticing just how weak the fundamentals are. Also, the mess in Europe. (more)

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: Severe Thunderstorm / Tornado Warning

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning remains in effect until 115 PM EDT
for northeastern New Castle... southwestern Philadelphia... southern
Delaware and northwestern Gloucester counties...

At 1256 PM EDT... the public reported a severe thunderstorm capable of
producing damaging winds in excess of 60 mph. This storm was located
near Rose Valley... or 12 miles southeast of West Chester... moving
northeast at 30 mph.

The severe thunderstorm will be near...
Morton... Swarthmore... Rutledge and Folsom by 105 PM EDT...
Clifton Heights... Aldan... Darby and Collingdale by 110 PM EDT...
Yeadon and Colwyn by 115 PM EDT...

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

Please report hail or strong winds to the National Weather Service by
calling toll free... 1-877-633-6772... when you can do so safely. (alert here)

London riot girls: 'Showing the rich we do what we want' (You absolutely must hear this)

Two girls who took part in Monday night's riots in Croydon have boasted that they were showing police and "the rich" that "we can do what we want".

The pair who were drinking wine looted from a local shop at 09:30 BST on Tuesday morning, spoke to the BBC's Leana Hosea.

Croydon was one of several areas plagued by unrest on Monday night, on a third night of riots in the capital.

There were also violent scenes in several other English cities. (click here to listen to the collapse of society)

Comoros boat sinks leaving many dead

At least 30 people have died after their boat sank off the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros, officials say.

The accident happened south of the main island of Grande Comore after the boat had set off to Anjouan island.

A rescue official put the toll at 30 but the country's public prosecutor was quoted as saying 50 bodies had been recovered.

Boat accidents are common in the Comoros - and boats are often overcrowded.

They are a popular form of transport between the islands - and sometimes carry would-be migrants from the islands of the Comoros to a fellow island in the archipelago, Mayotte, which voted to remain the territory of France and is economically better off.

Both public prosecutor Soilih Mahmoud and Red Crescent rescue co-ordinator Arfachad Salim told news agencies it was believed about 100 people had been on board when the vessel sank late on Monday.

Another rescue official said 50 people had survived, but many remained unaccounted for.

Mr Mahmoud said the boat capsized after its engines failed and it hit rocks. (source)

Somalia famine refugee numbers expected to soar

The number of people fleeing famine-hit areas of Somalia is likely to rise dramatically and could overwhelm international aid efforts in the Horn of Africa, a United Nations aid official said Tuesday.

The UN estimates that tens of thousands of people have died from malnutrition in Somalia in recent months, and over 11 million people across East Africa need food aid because of a long-running drought.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's representative in Kenya warned that the situation could become "simply unbearable" in the coming weeks if Somalis continue to abandon their homes in south and central parts of the country in search of food.

Already thousands have fled toward the Somali capital of Mogadishu and across the borders to Kenya and Ethiopia, where refugee camps are straining under the pressure of new arrivals. (more)

Mother bear attacks B.C. man in Vancouver suburb: "Animal had become increasingly bold"

A mother black bear that was shot and killed after it attacked a man in the Metro Vancouver suburb of Anmore had been a fixture in the community, said the mayor.

But Heather Anderson said the mother bear had become more aggressive recently, and may have even tried to get into a freezer in a local garage.

Anderson saw the bear and her three cubs walk through her yard in the northern Vancouver suburb this past May.

"She's been in the village, throughout the village, quite extensively in the last probably two, three weeks, especially," said Anderson.

Anderson said she figures the mother bear was looking for food because salmon-berry season is over and blackberry season has yet to begin.

The attack took place just after 7 a.m. Monday in the small, suburban Vancouver community of Anmore, which is home to the popular recreation area of Buntzen Lake. (more)

British police eye rubber bullets to quell riots: "Riots expanding, Police have lost control"

British authorities might use plastic bullets to quell rioting that has swept the city for a third night and spread to other cities, a senior London police officer says.

Such bullets are "one of tactics" being considered, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said Tuesday. Plastic bullets have never been used before during British disturbances.

Kavanagh's comments come as British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed Tuesday to do everything necessary to restore order and punish those responsible for the violent riots.

Cameron cut short his holidays to return to London to address the worst rioting in the country in decades, saying he will boost police presence to 16,000 officers from 6,000 by Tuesday night, and warning that the culprits "will feel the full force of the law.

"This is criminality, pure and simple," Cameron said outside 10 Downing Street, "and a strong warning to those involved in rioting that they will face full the force of the law, no matter how young they are.

"If you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment," he added. "You are not only wrecking the lives of others and ... your communities, you are potentially wrecking your own life too." (more)

Report: Amazon tribe may have fallen victim to drug traffickers

Suspected Peruvian drug traffickers have destroyed a guard post protecting a recently discovered indigenous tribe in Brazil's Amazon rain forest, the aid group Survival International reports.

Aerial film and still images of the tribe were first shown to the world in February. The Brazilian government's National Indian Foundation established the guard station near the tribe's territory along Brazil's border with Peru to protect the Indians from outsiders.

Survival International said Monday that Brazilian authorities can now find no sign of the tribe.

"We think the Peruvians made the Indians flee. ... We are more worried than ever. This situation could be one of the biggest blows we have ever seen in the protection of uncontacted Indians in recent decades. It’s a catastrophe," Carlos Travassos, the head of Brazil's isolated Indians department, said in a Survival International statement.

Survival International reports the tribe's lands are near the Envira River, which Peruvian cocaine smugglers reportedly use as a route into Brazil.

Brazilian authorities report groups of men armed with machine guns and rifles are in the nearby forest, according to the aid group.

Authorities had recovered a drug trafficker's rucksack with a broken Indian arrow in it, Survival International reported. (more)