Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Antisec posters springing up in Columbia Missouri as reported by one of our readers: Have they appeared in your city?

If you've spotted similar posters in your city,
take a picture and mail them to us:

A reader who introduced us to Google (which we've never seen before and now marvel at due to its awesomeness) offered the following explanation for the appearance of the posters:

"Salutations Lulz Lizards,

As we're aware, the government and whitehat security terrorists across the world continue to dominate and control our Internet ocean. Sitting pretty on cargo bays full of corrupt booty, they think it's acceptable to condition and enslave all vessels in sight. Our Lulz Lizard battle fleet is now declaring immediate and unremitting war on the freedom-snatching moderators of 2011.

Welcome to Operation Anti-Security (#AntiSec) - we encourage any vessel, large or small, to open fire on any government or agency that crosses their path. We fully endorse the flaunting of the word "AntiSec" on any government website defacement or physical graffiti art. We encourage you to spread the word of AntiSec far and wide, for it will be remembered. To increase efforts, we are now teaming up with the Anonymous collective and all affiliated battleships.

Whether you're sailing with us or against us, whether you hold past grudges or a burning desire to sink our lone ship, we invite you to join the rebellion. Together we can defend ourselves so that our privacy is not overrun by profiteering gluttons. Your hat can be white, gray or black, your skin and race are not important. If you're aware of the corruption, expose it now, in the name of Anti-Security.

Top priority is to steal and leak any classified government information, including email spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments. If they try to censor our progress, we will obliterate the censor with cannonfire anointed with lizard blood.

It's now or never. Come aboard, we're expecting you..."

Severe storm slams Louisville, causes power outages for 105,000

A severe thunderstorm rolled through the Louisville area Saturday evening, leaving behind broken limbs, downed trees and power lines.

Tens of thousands of area residents lost electricity.

Shortly after 6:45 p.m. Louisville Gas and Electric was reporting 105,244 power outages in Jefferson County and 299 in Oldham County and 192 in Shelby County. Duke Energy said there were 7,653 outages in Clark County, 12,573 in Floyd County, and 711 in Harrison County, about 6:30 p.m.

The bad weather blew in from the west, with the National Weather Service first issuing a severe thunderstorm warning for western Jefferson County, and in Indiana, Clark, Floyd and central Harrison counties. It later extended the warning to eastern Jefferson County and along both sides of Interstate 64 toward Frankfort. (more)

China sends anti-terror unit to restive Xinjiang (To relieve terror, or to create their own?)

China has deployed an elite police counter-terrorism unit to the restive northwest region of Xinjiang after a series of deadly attacks there, state media reported Saturday.

The Snow Leopard Commando unit is expected to carry out "anti-terrorist missions" in Kashgar and Hotan, which were hit by the recent violence, the China Daily newspaper quoted a spokesman for the region's police force as saying.

The unit is an elite counter-terrorism group under the People's Armed Force whose responsibilities include riot control and bomb disposal as well as reacting to hijacks.

The elite unit's presence in Xinjiang was to secure the region after last month's attacks and ahead of a trade convention next month, the police spokesman added, but did not give details of the size of the deployment.

Xinjiang has seen several outbreaks of ethnic violence in recent years as the mainly Muslim Uighur minority bridles under what it regards as oppression by the government and the unwanted immigration of ethnic Han Chinese. (more)

Russia and China accused of cyber-spying campaign to steal U.S. secrets

The military and intelligence services of Russia and China are conducting a sustained campaign to steal American commercial and military secrets through cyber espionage, according to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and he warned that sophisticated computer hacking poses a major danger to U.S. interests.

"Nation states are investing huge amounts of time, personnel and money to steal our data," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Friday in a speech to an association of retired U.S. intelligence officers. "We are not as prepared as we need to be."

Rogers' remarks were framed as a warning against overly steep cuts in the intelligence and defense budgets, and he cited cyber attacks as the top threat to the United States outside of Al Qaeda. He particularly blamed Russia and China.

"Clearly the intelligence agencies and the military [from both countries] are involved," he said afterward. (more)

China's mothers crossing to Hong Kong to escape tyrannical rules, bribery, and medical carelessness

Selina Ye is a 34-year-old Human Resources manager in the bustling southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

I went to Hong Kong last September to give birth to my son. I know most people go there to have a second child without paying a heavy fine, but what was important to me was to have a smooth and safe delivery.

I was 33, which is relatively old for a first birth, and my mother had a hard time in labour, so I thought I might have difficulty too.

I decided I wanted a Caesarean birth and I did not want the surgeons to mess it up, or leave anything inside me, because of negligence or because I had not bribed them enough.

Also, Hong Kong residency gives my child a chance to have a better education, better welfare, and better medical care. And much easier access to foreign countries.

When I became three months pregnant, my husband and I went to an agency in the city. I was worried they might already be booked out, because they often advise to book at two months. (more)

Chomsky: Public Education Under Massive Corporate Assault — What's Next?

The following is a partial transcript of a recent speech delivered by Noam Chomsky at the University of Toronto at Scarborough on the rapid privatization process of public higher education in the United States.

A couple of months ago, I went to Mexico to give talks at the National University in Mexico, UNAM. It's quite an impressive university — hundreds of thousands of students, high-quality and engaged students, excellent faculty. It's free. And the city — Mexico City — actually, the government ten years ago did try to add a little tuition, but there was a national student strike, and the government backed off. And, in fact, there's still an administrative building on campus that is still occupied by students and used as a center for activism throughout the city. There's also, in the city itself, another university, which is not only free but has open admissions. It has compensatory options for those who need them. I was there, too; it's also quite an impressive level, students, faculty, and so on. That's Mexico, a poor country. (more)

Swedish realtors fear falling property prices

The continuing financial uncertainty looks set to have a bearing on what is traditionally one of the busiest weekends of the year for real estate agents in Sweden.

"It is going to be tough for vendors. All signs are pointing to a drop in prices,"said Henrik Rundgren, of real estate agent Notar, to Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD)

The weekend of August 20th and 21st is often when more apartments and houses are shown than any other time, and this year looks to be no exception, with propective buyers back from their holidays.

However, indications suggest that this year could see falling prices and a good chance for buyers to negotiate price decreases.

Finance minister Anders Borg warned on Thursday that the government will need to revise down its strong economic growth expectations for 2012, due to the global financial market turbulence.

Just how much of a knock-on effect this will have on property prices remains to be seen. (more)

Algae blooms foul Great Lakes

Bay City State Recreation Area features a one-mile beach that runs south from its visitors center along Lake Huron's western shore. In reality, you can enjoy about 500 feet of it. Just south of the park's volleyball courts, the white sands turn into what locals call "beach muck" — a thick layer of washed-up algal growth and detritus that sucks at visitors' feet and makes the area close to impassable.

Nearby, Saginaw resident Chuck Arends, 48, and his son, Brandon, 14, do their fishing at the park's lagoon, where a wooden pier allows them to avoid walking around in the sticky stuff.

"I was down here last year, and (the algae) wasn't nearly as bad as it is this year," Arends said.

Bay City is hardly the only place where algae has become part of summer life. But it does lie in one of the Great Lakes' hot spots for algal growth — the Saginaw Bay. There, as well as in western Lake Erie and the Green Bay area of Lake Michigan, the green stuff has gone from being an occasional nuisance to an annual problem over the past decade.

In each of these areas, the trigger is phosphorus. It gets carried off the region's yards, farms and golf courses by storm runoff and moves via streams and rivers to the lakes. It settles on the bottom of the lake bed and, in shallow waters, reacts to penetrating sunlight by generating algae. (more)

Federal judge throws out Obama drilling rules: Back to fast oil

A judge on Friday threw out Obama administration rules that sought to slow down expedited environmental review of oil and gas drilling on federal land.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled in favor of a petroleum industry group, the Western Energy Alliance, in its lawsuit against the federal government, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The ruling reinstates Bush-era expedited oil and gas drilling under provisions called categorical exclusions on federal lands nationwide, Freudenthal said.

The government argued that oil and gas companies had no case because they didn't show how the new rules, implemented by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service last year, had created delays and added to the cost of drilling. (more)

The Deal With $8 Eggs

Over on the Atlantic site, the food politics writer Jane Black has a thoughtful post on farmers market sticker shock in brownstone Brooklyn.

Confronted at her neigborhood market by the spectacle of $8/dozen eggs—which had sold out, no less—Black frets that "that the 'good-food-costs-more' argument is being taken to an extreme that puts at risk the goal of a mass food-reform movement, which is to make good food available to the greatest number of people possible."

Black goes on to do a bit of analysis on the $8/dozen farmer’s production model and reckons that he probably isn't just sticking it to Brooklyn yuppies: "It turns out that's what it costs him to produce his eggs," because he uses a labor-intensive pasture-based system and feeds his birds organic corn, which is much more expensive than conventional. (more)

Farmers turn away from organic as sales drop: So much for healthy living

Farmers have begun to turn away from organic food production in the face of waning interest from the big supermarkets.

The amount of land being converted to organic cultivation across the UK has dropped by two-thirds since 2007, according to statistics released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as falling sales of organic products mean fewer farmers are seeing a reason to change.

Sales of organic products fell by 5.9% in the UK last year, according to the Soil Association, from £1.8bn in 2009 to £1.7bn. That continued a decline from record sales of £2.1bn in 2008, and came amid rising food prices. The amount of organic poultry being produced has also fallen steadily.

But many farmers who have gone organic were defiant after publication of the latest figures, arguing that switching to greener methods has drastically cut their costs and that consumer interest is still strong, particularly when farmers can use sales routes other than big supermarket chains. (more)

Somali refugee camps in Kenya swell past 400,000: Photo Gallery

Britain burns the colour of "A Clockwork Orange"

The speed of the disintegration said everything. It took less than 48 hours for London to descend from self-styled capital of the world into a circuit of burning dystopian hells. The speed of BlackBerry messaging; the speed of kids on BMXs; the speed of Molotovs and petrol. Never mind the police, even the media couldn’t keep up.

In a country that takes order for granted, the speed meant a free-fall back to fundamentals, not just in an obvious Hobbesian sense, but in a way that made events feel more real. If you wanted to know if your neighbourhood was next, there was no point watching the riots on television, it was quicker to listen out for breaking glass and burglar alarms; sirens if you were lucky. There wasn’t much time for disbelief.

Crucially, life was more real for the looters. That much was clear to anyone on a sofa at home, switching on their flatscreen TV to watch footage of people stealing flatscreen TVs. And as that footage was beamed around the world, the images had their own kind of psychic velocity: a short-cut to viewers’ unconsciousness provided by Britain’s rich tradition of fictional visions of dystopia, from George Orwell’s 1984 to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and of course anything by JG Ballard. (more)

Courtney Nash Critical After Suffering Rare Brain Infection Likely Caused By Amoeba: Is pollution and climate change making our waters dangerous?

A Brevard County teen was hospitalized after an amoeba is believed to have infected her brain while she was swimming in a local river.

The young girl, identified in numerous reports as 16-year-old Courtney Nash, is currently listed in critical condition, officials said.

Barry Inman, an epidemiologist with the Brevard County Health Department, told CBS Tampa that the very rare infection, known as amoebic meningoencephalitis, has not yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control, but that officials believe a positive test will be returned any day.

“We got a result from the hospital in Orlando and they did a spinal tap on her, and they looked on the cerebral spinal fluid and they saw the amoeba. So we’re confident that this is a hospital that has some experience with this organism, and we’re confident about what the diagnosis is,” he said.

Inman said there are typically fewer than five cases a year in the entire country, and that only one person has survived the infection since the 1970s. Doctors treat it with anti-fungal medications and antibiotics. (more)

50% Teen Unemployment in Washington D.C.

An analysis based on U.S. Census Bureau data by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) shows that the average unemployment rate for teens ages 16 to 19 in the District of Columbia was 50.1 percent as of June 2011. This corresponds with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing that for D.C. the annual average unemployment rate for teens in 2010 was 49.8 percent.

Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI, provided the 50.1 percent figure to as an update of an analysis he compiled based on the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

The 50.1 percent figure is almost double the average teen unemployment rate in June 2007 in the District, when it was 26.2 percent, according to Saltsman. (more)

Italy delivers tough austerity measures in Emergency Decree

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced a painful mix of tax increases and spending cuts on Friday to meet European Central Bank demands for action on shoring up Italy's strained public finances.

At an emergency evening cabinet meeting, the government adopted an austerity package worth 20 billion euros in 2012 and a further 25.5 billion euros the following year to bring the budget into balance in 2013.

The measures ranged from a special levy on incomes above 90,000 euros to higher taxes on income from financial investments and cuts in the cost of government, notably through a cull in the number of local politicians. (more)

Honda plans nuclear mission for ASIMO robot at Fukushima

Japan's Honda is hoping to retool its humanoid robot ASIMO for a nuclear mission so it can join emergency work inside the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, a press report said Friday.

The company aims to upgrade the robot's upper body functions so that it can move its arms as smoothly as a human being, with motorised shoulders, elbows and wrists, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

The current ASIMO, introduced in 2000 and resembling a small astronaut, stands 130 centimetres (4 feet 3 inches) tall. The bipedal bot can walk or run, carry trays, push carts and shake hands with people.

But to work in the debris-strewn nuclear plant, ASIMO would likely be modified and fitted with tyres or caterpillar tracks, the report said. (more)

Detroit Police Department Raid 90 Homes, Arrest Over 600, Net $3.5M In Drugs

Detroit Police say they’ve conducted dozens of raids in the last six weeks netting them millions of dollars in drugs. Since July 1st, Detroit police have raided more than 90 homes, in one of the city’s biggest busts ever.

“Since July first, we have raided a total of 90 homes, arrested 616 individuals and confiscated 69 firearms,” Police Chief Ralph Godbee said. “We’ve taken in about $3.5 million worth of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, various pills, Oxycontin and things of that nature, and over $360,000 in cash and narcotic proceeds.”

Godbee said the raids took place thanks to citizen tips, a trend he’s happy to see develop. (more)

The Stock Market Crash Of 2011?

How far does the stock market have to go down before we officially call it a crash? The Dow is now down more than 2,000 points in just the last 14 trading days. So can we now call this "The Stock Market Crash of 2011"? Today the Dow was down 519 points. Yesterday, an announcement by the Federal Reserve indicating that the Fed would keep interest rates near zero until mid-2013 helped the Dow surge more than 400 points, but all of those gains were wiped out today. It turns out that the Federal Reserve was only able to stabilize the financial markets for a single day. Fears about the European sovereign debt crisis and the crumbling U.S. economy continue to dominate the marketplace. With each passing day, things are looking more and more like 2008 all over again. So what is going to happen if "The Stock Market Crash of 2011" pushes the U.S. economy into "The Recession of 2012"?

Just like in 2008, bank stocks are being hit the hardest. That was true once again today. Bank of America was down more than 10 percent, Citigroup was down more than 10 percent, Morgan Stanley was down more than 9 percent and JPMorgan Chase was down more than 5 percent.

Bank of America stock is down almost 50 percent so far this year. Overall, the S&P financial sector is down more than 23 percent in 2011 so far.

How soon will it be before we start hearing of the need for more bailouts? After all, the "too big to fail" banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008. (more)

No quick exit for eurozone from debt crisis

Twenty-one months after Greece triggered financial and political turmoil by admitting it was broke, the eurozone still can't fix its debt crisis.

The reasons: intractable disputes over who will ultimately pay the costs of saving it, and the still-unadressed vulnerability that comes from having a single currency with multiple governments.

One after another, troubled European countries have asked for bailouts: Greece, Ireland, Portugal. Late-night meetings produced hasty statements and new crisis measures, like Sunday's rushed decision by the European Central Bank to buy Spanish and Italian bonds and ward off financial collapse there. Bond markets steadied, but by midweek the cloud of fear simply moved to France, with panic selling of French bank stocks.

The 17 countries who must solve the crisis remain deeply divided over how to distribute the potentially astronomical costs of available fixes. It took months, for instance, to reach agreement on a relatively modest reduction in Greece's debt by persuading bondholders to take less than 100 cents on the euro.

As a result, expect more debate and more crisis headlines. (more)

Economic Irrationality and Systems Collapse: When The Irrational Is Considered Rational

Oh thank you, Wikipedia, for this definition:

“Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate reasoning, emotional distress, or cognitive deficiency. The term is used, usually pejoratively, to describe thinking and actions that are, or appear to be, less useful or more illogical than other more rational alternatives.”

And what about this one? Market Psychology? This term is defined in the Investopedia this way:

“The overall sentiment or feeling that the market is experiencing at any particular time. Greed, fear, expectations and circumstances are all factors that contribute to the group's overall investing mentality of sentiment.” Q: What do we have when we put the two together? A: The current madness and market mayhem,’ S&P’s downgrade is being blamed for the market panic even though all the business media expected a downgrade and initially minimized its potential impact. The ratings agency blamed the government’s failure to deal with the debt including the stalemate in Congress, The Republicans, predictably blamed Obama and the Democrats went after the Tea Party as the culprits behind the market plunge. But then, investors who at first denied that a downgrade would be significant overreacted to it by pumping more money into government treasuries adding to government debt. The Comedy Channel’s Jon Stewart’s sensible reaction: “are you f*cking kidding me?”

Does this make any sense? We are taught to think of businessmen and their minions as absolute worshippers of objective truth as they allegedly practice “due diligence” to confirm underlying facts and insure that their decisions are based on research and thoughtful decisions. That’s what we are taught---but is that what they do? In fact, the “smartest guys in the room” as the Enronians were called proved to be the dumbest, buying into a warped worldview, and then, believing their own hype leading to decisions that brought the house down. And that’s what happens again and again, over and over, as panic seizes The Street followed by a herd of decision makers making bad decisions.’ (more)

Ron Paul could be a surprise victor in Ames straw poll

Texas Rep. Ron Paul has long been regarded as a somewhat entertaining distraction in his two presidential races over the past four years.

But, on the eve of the Ames Straw Poll, the first major organizing test of the 2012 Republican presidential race, there is a strain of thinking that Paul could seriously challenge the likes of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty for supremacy on Saturday.

“He’s got the supporter passion of a Bachmann with the organization of a Pawlenty,” said one senior Iowa Republican strategist unaffiliated with any of the campaigns. “He builds on 2007 and the caucus last time, and I think he can turn out the 3,000 votes he needs to win.” (more)

U.S. 'supercop' warns U.K. riot arrests not enough

A U.S. law enforcement expert who has agreed to help tackle gang violence in Britain in the wake of recent riots in urban centres says the government cannot "arrest their way out" of systemic problems facing the country.

Former New York city police commissioner Bill Bratton, confirmed late Friday as the new anti-gang advisor to the British government, said in a CBC interview Saturday that it's better to have measures in place to get ahead of the violence, rather than just react to it.

He said he'll be talking to British officials about applying what he's learned in the United States from his his work in battling gang violence in Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

"I'll be over there several times to participate in discussions, specifically around the issue of gangs and gang violence and what the American experience has been, how we turned the corner here and specifically in Los Angeles, where I was chief of police for seven years."

"And it is the idea that you cannot arrest your way of of this problem. You have to have intervention activities, a broad-based approach," he said. (more)

U.K.'s broken social contract blamed for riots

The spark that lit riots in Britain last week is rooted in the government's radical alteration of the social contract with its citizens, says a Toronto psychiatrist who was born and raised in the U.K.

People at the lower margins of society feel abandoned and powerless to the point where they lash out in fear, says Dr. Kwame McKenzie.

British society is undergoing a psychological realignment along American lines rather than traditional European values, where there is a straightforward social contract between the individual and the state, he says.

"It is about changing the relationship between government and the citizen. Essentially they are rewriting the social contract so that people are more self-reliant and less reliant on government," he says. (more)

Crop Circles at Furze Knoll and Temple Balsall, UK, early Aug 2011, UK

Somalia famine 'crime against humanity'?

Somalia is known to most Americans as the setting for the book and film "Black Hawk Down" and as the world center for modern-day pirates. It is the poster child for failed humanitarian interventions and for good intentions gone wrong.

But none of that should blind Americans to the horrific humanitarian crisis developing in Somalia, a growing famine that threatens to kill hundreds of thousands of people if they do not receive help from the international community.

Of course, many of the problems that doomed the U.S. intervention in 1992, and led to "Black Hawk Down," remain. Despite years of diplomatic efforts, Somalia persists in a state of near anarchy. The central government controls only a fraction of the country, and warlords with private militia still battle each other for control of territory and trade. Now, an Islamic insurgency has further eroded security in the region, and organized groups of pirates use Somalia's anarchy as a launching point for raids against merchant vessels.

A humanitarian intervention in Somalia might be politically difficult for President Barack Obama to justify. With U.S. commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as military operations in Libya continuing without congressional approval, Obama has likely used up his political capital. (more)

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE WEST COAST OF COLOMBIA - 13th August 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck near the West Coast of Colombia at a depth of 57.5 km ( 35.7 miles), the quake hit at 21:58:13 UTC Saturday 13th August 2011.
The epicenter was 81 km (50 miles) West of Quibdo, Colombia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake CERAM SEA- 13th August 2011

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake has struck Ceram Sea at a depth of 38.3 km ( 23.8 miles), the quake hit at 21:44:17 UTC Saturday 13th August 2011.
The epicenter was 307 km (190 miles) South of Sorong, Papua, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA- 13th August 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Banda Sea at a depth of 177.3 km ( 110.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:31:20 UTC Saturday 13th August 2011.
The epicenter was 219 km (136 miles) Northwest of Saumlaki, Kepulauan Tanimbar, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE WEST COAST OF COLOMBIA - 13th August 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck near the West Coast of Colombia at a depth of 62.6 km ( 38.9 miles), the quake hit at 20:30:57 UTC Saturday 13th August 2011.
The epicenter was 76 km (47 miles) West of Quibdo, Colombia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA - 13th August 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Southern Sumatra, Indonesia at a depth of 63 km ( 39.1 miles), the quake hit at 20:22:10 UTC Saturday 13th August 2011.
The epicenter was 146 km (90 miles) SSE from Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

Give me charity money pleads mother-of-TEN who insists her £30,000-a-year benefits are 'not enough',"and they wonder why the country has gone to bits"

A mother-of-ten who nets more than £30,000-a-year in benefits has begged for charity donations to help raise her brood - because her state 'wage' is not enough.

Moira Pearce, 34, has insisted her weekly government handout of £600 is insufficient to feed and clothe her children and she needs donations to survive.

The single mum - whose kids are fathered by four ex-partners - has insisted her range of child and family allowance benefits do not meet her weekly outgoings.

Her annual payments funded by the public purse work out at a staggering £31,200-a-year - or £3,120 per child.

Ms Pearce - who lives with unemployed ex-boyfriend Mark Austin, 19, seven daughters and three sons - now wants extra help to save her from going under.

She said today: 'I've been trying to find charities that will help out with clothes and things, but none of them want to know.'

Local residents joined the attack on the jobless mum this morning describing her as a 'scrounger' and a 'disgrace'.

Entrepreneur Steven Taylor, 40, said: 'I've seen her around the town. Everyone knows she's had those kids with four different fathers.

'And the bloke she's been with lately is almost half her age. 'She's just a scrounger. It's a disgrace that she should be asking for any more money.' Read More

Man Held Over Massive Croydon Riot Blaze - 13th Aug 2011

A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with a massive fire that engulfed a furniture store in Croydon during the riots.

The 33-year-old man is accused of starting the blaze at the Reeves Furniture store on Monday.

He is the fourth person to be arrested over the inferno which destroyed the 100-year family business.

A 21-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy who were questioned by police earlier this week were released on bail, while a man, 25, was released with no further action.

Owner Trevor Reeves told Sky News earlier this week how the store had been "completely destroyed".

"Words fall me. It's just gone, it's five generations," he said. "My father is distraught at the moment. It's just mindless thuggery."

The latest arrest comes as a man was remanded in custody over the robbery of an injured Malaysian student during the riots.

It also follows the arrest of two more people in connection with three hit-and-run deaths in Birmingham.

In London, 20-year-old Reece Donovan appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court accused of stealing a Nokia phone and a Sony PSP from Ashraf Haziq Rosli.

Mr Rosli was attacked in Barking on Monday and left with a broken jaw.

Donovan, from Romford in Essex, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address. Read More

Mount Papandayan's Alert Level Raised to THREE, India - 13th Aug 2011

The alert level of Mount Papandayan in Garut, West Java has gone up a notch to alert level 3 — just one level below eruption.

According to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) the 2,665-meter volcano had shown a significant increase in tectonic earthquake activity since Friday.

“BNPB has dispatched a quick-response team to assess the necessary emergency action local government and other agencies need to take in order to ensure the safety of residents living around the volcano,” Sutopo said.

Mount Papandayan last erupted on Nov. 11, 2002. Even though there were no deaths or casualties, dozens of houses were destroyed by the lava that swept through the villages within the volcano's 10km radius.

It’s earliest recorded eruption was in 1772 when it destroyed 40 villages and killed 2,951 people. Source

Somalia faces cholera epidemic amid famine

Famine-hit Somalia is facing a cholera epidemic amid poor sanitary conditions, World Health Organization officials say.

A majority of randomly collected samples of acute watery diarrhea collected from 4,272 patients in Mogadishu tested positive for cholera, the WHO said.

"The number of cases is two or even three times than what was there last year. So we can say that we have an epidemic of cholera going on," WHO public health adviser Dr. Michel Yao told a news briefing in Geneva, Reuters reported.

So far, he said, there have been 181 acute watery diarrhea-related deaths.

Malnourished children weakened by famine are particularly susceptible to waterborne diseases, the agency said.

The cholera outbreak is fuelled by the many informal settlements springing up in Somalia as large numbers of starving people leave their homes in search of food and other assistance, WHO said.

A lack of clean water for drinking and bathing and overcrowding in camps contribute to the spread of the disease. (more)

Syrian protesters call for president's execution

Tens of thousands of Syrian protesters shouted for President Bashar Assad's death Friday in a dramatic escalation of their rage and frustration, defying bullets and rooftop snipers after more than a week of intensified military assaults on rebellious cities, according to activists and witnesses.

Security forces killed at least 14 protesters, according to human rights groups.

The calls for Assad's execution were a stark sign of how much the protest movement has changed since it erupted in March seeking minor reforms but making no calls for a regime change. The protests grew dramatically over the five months that followed, driven in part by anger over the government's bloody crackdown in which rights groups say at least 1,700 civilians have been killed.

But with the regime shrugging off even the most blistering condemnation, the uprising has become a test of endurance as both sides draw on a deep well of energy and conviction. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday urged countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas or selling the regime weapons, saying those who still do so must "get on the right side of history." (more)

PHOTOS: Island of fanged frogs yields 9 new species

Frogs with fangs abound with astonishing diversity on a tropical island in Indonesia, a Canadian-led team has found.

Ben Evans, a zoologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and his Indonesian and American colleagues found 13 species of fanged frogs on the island of Sulawesi — more than in all of the Philippines combined.

Among them were nine species that had never before been described by science. Evans and his team reported their findings in the August issue of The American Naturalist. (more)

Anonymous hitsSan Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) for blocking cell phone service to thwart civil disturbances

Hacktivist group Anonymous on Saturday (Manila time) called for "attacks" on San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) for blocking cell phone service in some of its areas to thwart civil disturbances organized through mobile devices.

While it did not say if it will attack BART's computers, Anonymous called on people to flood BART's directors with black fax, email bombs and phone calls.

"For the people outside of San Francisco, show solidarity by using black fax, email bombs, and phone calls to the BART Board of Directors. BART decided to cut off your communications and now we will flood theirs," it said in a statement where it listed BART's contact information, email addresses and fax number.

They can also file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission against BART at and

On the other hand, it urged San Francisco residents to gather at Civic Center Station at 5 p.m. of August 15 for a peaceful protest.

It requested that they bring cameras to "record further abuses of power by the police and to legitimize the protest." (more)

Corey Feldman: Biggest problem in Hollywood is pedophilia

According to former child star Corey Feldman, child molestation is rampant in the entertainment industry, as he told Nightline in an interview.

"The No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia," he said Wednesday. According to Feldman, the “casting couch” exists for children, too.

Feldman asserts that directors and other adults in the industry take advantage of young aspiring actors on a regular basis. “It's all done under the radar... But it's the big secret,” the 40-year-old said.

Feldman also claimed that former co-star Corey Haim's death last year was the end result of sexual abuse by an unnamed "Hollywood mogul." Feldman said that his friend’s substance addiction was "a symptom” of the molestation he experienced. (more)

Gunfire, explosions reported in Syrian coastal city of Latakia

Loud explosions and gunfire were heard Saturday in the Syrian port city of Latakia, signaling a possible crackdown, according to opposition and activist organizations.

Security forces were deployed across several neighborhoods, said the Local Coordination Committee of Syria, an opposition group, and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The groups attributed the eyewitness reports to residents and opposition members. Because the government has restricted international journalists from reporting in Syria, CNN was not able to independently confirm the claim.

The violence followed demonstrations after weekly prayers in the Syrian city of Hama on Friday. (more)

Mexican soldiers uncover 'narco-tunnel' to U.S.

A drug-smuggling tunnel nearly 300m long which stretches from the Mexican city of Tijuana into the US has been discovered by soldiers.

Mexico's army, which found the passage, said it was incomplete, but had an internal ventilation system and was lit with lightbulbs.

Authorities also discovered drilling tools, including shovels, a pick-axe and wheelbarrows.

The tunnel was almost two-metres high. Its exit has not yet been dug but its entrance was hidden by a partially built house. (more)

Dozens of teens detained after Philadelphia's earlier curfew: Flash mobs continue

Philadelphia police picked up 50 juveniles for violating the city's beefed-up curfew which took effect Friday night, authorities said Saturday.

The City of Brotherly Love is cracking down after a rash of teen violence by roving mobs. Late Friday, there were no signs of trouble, police spokesman Ray Evers told CNN.

"It definitely made a tremendous difference," he said, referring to the curfew.

Police patrolled the two areas under curfew, including downtown areas popular with locals and tourists during the Friday night curfew. The 50 teens are among the first charged with violating the newly strengthened city ordinance, which forbids anyone under 18 from being out on the street after 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in two locations: Center City, in the downtown area, and University City, the west Philadelphia neighborhood where the University of Pennsylvania is located.

An hour after the curfew took effect, police had taken 22 juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17 into custody, Evers said. (more)

Mort volatility in store for Wall Street?

Hayao Miyazaki: The dying art of hand-drawn animation

Hayao Miyazaki is regarded by many as the world's greatest living animator and an icon of Japanese popular culture.

In 2002, his work burst onto international screens with the ghostly animation "Spirited Away." It smashed box office records in Japan and earned him an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Setting up Studio Ghibli in 1985, the 70-year-old has made 18 animated features that fuse wild fantasy with more serious issues including environmentalism and feminism.

Miyazaki's 2008 film "Ponyo" featured a catastrophic tsunami, but the animator insists that including disasters in his films only makes him a realist able to highlight the fragility of life rather than a prophetic, doom-monger. (more)

Global economic growth in severe decline, some countries are even at standstill or retracting

Global stocks are rallying as a partial short selling ban helps European banks rebound – reducing financial system contagion fears – while an in-line retail sales report lifts some of the gloom about the US economy.

But lingering concerns about global growth and wariness over recent intense volatility are keeping traders twitchy.

And they have been reminded of the ability of the market to suffer sharp swings, after equity gains were swiftly pared following news that US consumer confidence has slumped to its lowest level since 1980.

The S&P 500, whose futures at one point suggested New York would open with a drop of 1.5 per cent, jumped more than 1 per cent at the start of trade.

But the consumer confidence surprise then pushed the benchmark briefly into the red, before it rebounded again to register a rise of 0.4 per cent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 is gaining 2.6 per cent, with the European banking index, to which the short selling ban is primarily directed, is ending a traumatic week with a rise of 3 per cent.

Asian stocks were mixed, while similar indecision is creeping into commodities, where Brent crude is down 0.1 per cent to $107.97 a barrel but copper is up 0.3 per cent to $4.02 a pound. The FTSE All-World equity index is up 0.7 per cent.

Uncertainty colours the currency space, with only the Swiss franc showing much movement as it adds 1.6 per cent to its sharp plunge on Thursday. “Growth” units such as the Aussie dollar are mildly weaker. (more)

Students 'face leaving university with £60k debts'

Students starting university next year can expect to graduate with debts averaging almost £60,000, according to research published today.

Undergraduates enrolling on courses in England – where costs are higher than elsewhere in the UK – can expect to owe £59,100 when degrees finish, it was revealed.

Debt levels will be fuelled by a dramatic hike in tuition fees for students starting courses in 2012.

According to figures, the overall cost of a degree course – including fees, equipment, rent and living expenses – is expected to almost double under the new student finance regime.

By comparison, students starting courses this autumn can expect to owe £26,100.

The disclosure is made a week before the publication of A-level results, with thousands of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland set to find out if they have secured university places. (more)

Berlin Wall: 50 years since construction of the wall began

Blanchflower: UK Government fails youth

Pippa Middleton's bum inspires plastic surgery boom: What's wrong with everyone?

Americans are lining up to go under the knife to mimic the derrière of Pippa Middleton, a US plastic surgeon has said.

The 27-year-old has sparked a wave of surgery requests since appearing in a figure-hugging Alexander McQueen gown as maid of honour at the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

In particular, the images of her carefully carrying her older sister's nine-foot long train into Westminster Abbey caught the imagination of men and women around the world.

Miami-based celebrity plastic surgeon Dr Constantino Mendieta claims her appearance has lead to a huge demand in what has been coined the “Pippa Butt Lift”.

“Once the breast implants reigned supreme, now it is the buttocks that are considered a woman's best asset,” Dr Mendieta told The Times.

“The latest craze here in the US and all over the world is to get the Pippa Butt Lift.” (more)

UK riots: young yobs back on streets despite David Cameron's pledge

Young offenders who took part in the rioting and looting that blighted Britain’s streets this week are walking free from court without facing significant penalties.

Despite David Cameron's promises that they would face "punishment", a string of juvenile criminals have been allowed to return home with their parents.

Several of the young rioters have been pictured in national newspapers committing crimes. Nonetheless, they retain the court's protection of legal anonymity.

The sentences being handed down have dismayed police and MPs after the Prime Minister's promise that rioters would "pay for what they have done".

Further undermining Mr Cameron's tough rhetoric, Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, backed the courts. He rejected the Prime Minister's call for new sentencing rules.

According to the Metropolitan Police, about half of the 240 people to appear in court so far charged with being involved in the London riots are younger than 18. The Met has arrested 1,009 people in connection with the disorder and 464 have been charged. (more)

The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and the entire British political class came together yesterday to denounce the rioters. They were of course right to say that the actions of these looters, arsonists and muggers were abhorrent and criminal, and that the police should be given more support.

But there was also something very phony and hypocritical about all the shock and outrage expressed in parliament. MPs spoke about the week’s dreadful events as if they were nothing to do with them.

I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.

It is not just the feral youth of Tottenham who have forgotten they have duties as well as rights. So have the feral rich of Chelsea and Kensington. A few years ago, my wife and I went to a dinner party in a large house in west London. A security guard prowled along the street outside, and there was much talk of the “north-south divide”, which I took literally for a while until I realised that my hosts were facetiously referring to the difference between those who lived north and south of Kensington High Street. (more)

Desperate Swiss eye euro peg to repel safe-haven flood

Switzerland is mulling drastic measures to fend off safe-haven flows from Euroland and stop the relentless rise of the Swiss franc crippling large parts of the country's economic base.

The franc retreated against the euro in a wild-one day move on Thursday after top officials at the Swiss National Bank (SNB) floated ideas for a temporary euro peg, a once unthinkable move.

"Nothing is excluded," said Jean-Pierre Danthine, a SNB board member. "The situation is extremely complex and difficult. There is no magic wand."

The Swiss franc has moved with gold over recent weeks, acting as a magnet for capital flight from the discredited debt currencies of West. The SNB said the franc is "massively overvalued" and has moved into dangerous territory over the past month.

The hotel and restaurant lobby GastroSuisse said the 240,000 strong tourist sector was in an "extremely precarious" state, while the machine tool industry risks major lay-offs and loss of investment to foreign sites.

The SNB has already flooded the banking system with SwFr80bn (£65bn), a vast sum for a country of less than 8m people. This was overpowered by a wall of money on Wednesday after contagion hit French banks and the US Federal Reserve pledged to hold rates near zero until mid-2013. (more)

London riots: police could get powers over social media

Users of social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), could see their access to services blocked if they are “plotting violence, disorder and criminality”, David Cameron told MPs.

The Prime Minister said that “everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.”

He said that he has asked the police if they need new powers, and that Government is “working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services".

The Home Secretary later told Parliament that she will convene a meeting with the police and representatives from the social media industries to to discuss how to improve the technological and related legal capability of the police. They will discuss "whether and how we should be able to stop people communicating via these websites and services", she said.

David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, had called for BBM to be suspended so that rioters, many of whom were using the free service, would be prevented from planning further attacks.

The police have also made a number of arrests after people made statements on Facebook that were allegedly inciting illegal behaviour. (more)

UK: £125 cost of 'ghost' energy customers

Honest energy customers are footing the bill for nearly two million households that have not paid for their gas and electricity usage.

New figures from show that the potential cost of these "ghost customers" adds £123 to the annual tariffs of millions of households.

The research revealed that almost a million customers had moved out of a property without settling their energy bill. It is thought that many of these "ghosts" live in rented accommodation and simply do not register with a new provider, so the gas is effectively billed to the previous tenant who then – quite legally – refuses to pay.

In addition, some people claim they have been unable to identify their supplier, thanks to frequent changes.

The additional cost borne by the supplier is then passed onto its customer base.

Scott Byrom, the utilities manager at comparison site, said the problem was getting worse – problems in the housing market have led to growing numbers of renters, as fewer people can save the deposit necessary to get on the property ladder. (more)

Manchester riots: boy, 13, strapped hammer to his leg... and of course, will go free

A judge said today that he had no powers to jail a 13-year-old boy who went into a riot-hit city with a hammer strapped to his leg.

The boy visited Manchester with the weapon in response to a Facebook invitation from friends to watch the trouble unfold.

He was stopped by two officers on patrol and, when asked if he had anything he should not have, he replied: ''I am not going to lie to you. I have this hammer, it is not a big one.''

Manchester Magistrates' Court heard that he initially lied to police, saying his mother had asked him to carry it for protection, and also falsely claimed he wanted it for self- defence.

He was given a nine-month referral order after he pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon without lawful excuse.

Sentencing him, District Judge Khalid Qureshi said: ''If you had been 15 you would be going straight through that door (to the cells). No question about it. Nothing your mum would have said would have prevented that happening. (more)