Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August Dollar Drive / Weekly Announcements -- August 14, 2011 (New posts will appear below until midnight)

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Hello everyone,

1) August Dollar Drive progress: So far, just 10 generous individuals have donated in August, putting us at under 10% of our monthly goal. If you're able to donate a dollar to support our cause and work, consider donating. Any amount truly helps us out. Click on the banner above if you'd like to donate or if you're interested in learning more about where the money goes. We personally write a letter of thanks to every single person who contributes.

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Take care everyone,

-- Matt & Lynsey

Syrian Gunboats Used To 'Pound Coastal City' - 15th Aug 2011

Up to 25 people have been killed in Syria after authorities used gunboats to shell the coastal city of Latakia, activists claim.

The violence came after thousands of people marched in the Mediterranean city calling for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad's regime.

The coordinated attacks by gunboats and ground troops were the latest wave of a brutal offensive against anti-government protests launched at the beginning of the month.

The assault showed Mr Assad has no intention of scaling back the campaign even though it has brought international outrage and new European and US sanctions.

"We are being targeted from the ground and the sea," a frightened resident of al-Ramel district of Latakia, the hardest hit neighbourhood, told the AP.

"The shooting is intense. We cannot go out. They are raiding and breaking into people's homes," he added.

As the Syrian gunboats blasted waterfront districts, ground troops backed by tanks and security forces stormed several neighbourhoods in al-Ramel, sending terrified women and children fleeing to safer areas. Read More

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake ECUADOR - 15th August 2011

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck Ecuador at a depth of 166.8 km ( 103.6 miles), the quake hit at 02:53:18 UTC Monday 15th August 2011.
The epicenter was 183 km (113 miles) East of Riobamba, Ecuador
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS - 14th August 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Santa Cruz Islands at a depth of 46.1 km ( 28.6 miles), the quake hit at 22:05:26 UTC Sunday 14th August 2011.
The epicenter was 196 km (121 miles) South of Lata, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 14th August 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 28.8 km ( 17.9 miles), the quake hit at 20:42:03 UTC Sunday 14th August 2011.
The epicenter was 158 km (98 miles) ESE of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

Green Line Train Robbery Suspects Include 10-Year-Old: Police

Two days after warning the public about the theft of electronic devices on Green Line trains, police arrested four suspects Thursday, the youngest being a 10-year-old boy.

On Tuesday, Harrison Area detectives issued community alerts about the robberies on the trains on the West Side. And after CTA Security provided surveillance footage of the crimes, police set up a sting operation.

Officers from the Wood and Harrison districts went undercover and about 9:56 a.m. Thursday, saw three boys fleeing from a CTA platform, a release from police said.

The juveniles — ages 10, 13 and 14 — had just been involved in a strong-armed robbery in which a victim, seated on a Green Line train, had his mobile phone forcibly snatched from his hand, the release said. (more)

Verizon Site Mischief Cuts Police Phone Service: Rebels fight back

State police in Uniontown said a 29-hour loss of landline phone service was caused by an act of criminal mischief when someone went into locked underground Verizon vaults and shut off the power.

Trooper Timothy Kirsch said there was no forced entry at the sites on Main Street and on Route 119 in Lemont Furnace, near the Penn State Fayette campus. Police believe whoever shut off the power had keys.

Police are trying to determine if the incident, which began at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, is related to an ongoing strike by Verizon landline workers.

The local state police barracks was without phone and computer service for 21 hours, police said. Calls had to be forwarded to dispatchers who worked out of another barracks several miles away.

All of the Lemont Furnace area -- including many local businesses -- had no communication, data and cellphone service for about 29 hours, police said.

Police have no suspects and have made no arrests. (source)

Italy calls for euro bonds, UK backs fiscal union

Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti stepped up calls for a more coordinated response to the euro zone debt crisis, including the creation of euro bonds, ahead of a crucial Franco-German summit next week.

Tremonti returned to proposals for jointly-issued bonds that would effectively make individual governments' debt a common burden, saying they were the "master solution" to the euro zone debt crisis.

"We would not have arrived where we are if we had had the euro bond," he said on Saturday.

However the idea was immediately rejected by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said such bonds would undermine the basis for the single currency by weakening fiscal discipline among member states.

"I rule out euro bonds for as long as member states conduct their own financial policies, and we need differing interest rates so that there are possibilities of incentives and sanctions to force fiscal solidity," he told Der Spiegel weekly. (more)

SF cell shutdown: Safety issue, or hint of Orwell?

An illegal, Orwellian violation of free-speech rights? Or just a smart tactic to protect train passengers from rowdy would-be demonstrators during a busy evening commute?

The question resonated Saturday in San Francisco and beyond as details emerged of Bay Area Rapid Transit officials' decision to cut off underground cellphone service for a few hours at several stations Thursday. Commuters at stations from downtown to near the city's main airport were affected as BART officials sought to tactically thwart a planned protest over the recent fatal shooting of a 45-year-old man by transit police.

Two days later, the move had civil rights and legal experts questioning the agency's move, and drew backlash from one transit board member who was taken aback by the decision.

"I'm just shocked that they didn't think about the implications of this. We really don't have the right to be this type of censor," said Lynette Sweet, who serves on BART's board of directors. "In my opinion, we've let the actions of a few people affect everybody. And that's not fair."

Similar questions of censorship have arisen in recent days as Britain's government put the idea of curbing social media services on the table in response to several nights of widespread looting and violence in London and other English cities. Police claim that young criminals used Twitter and Blackberry instant messages to coordinate looting sprees in riots. (more)

BP 'cannot find skilled workers' (Perhaps they left them beside their ethics?)

A shortage of engineering skills in the UK could hamper growth at BP's North Sea operations, an executive has said.

In July, BP announced plans to invest £3bn in redeveloping two oil fields in the North Sea, a move that was expected to create hundreds of new jobs.

But Trevor Garlick, head of BP's North Sea operations, said the company could struggle to fill the available roles.

"Getting hold of the right people is a real issue for us," Mr Garlick told the Sunday Telegraph.

"We are hiring a lot of people, but we are also an exporter of a couple of hundred people to other regions [in BP]. We are a centre for recruiting elsewhere."

The rest of the company viewed its North Sea operations as a "training ground", with talented workers snapped up to fill posts overseas, Mr Garlick said. (more)

World Bank chief Zoellick says markets in danger zone

World markets have entered a "new danger zone", the president of the World Bank has warned.

Robert Zoellick said investors had lost confidence in the economic leadership of several key countries.

Speaking at the Asia Society's annual dinner in Sydney, he also said that the global economy was going through a "multi-speed recovery".

Developing countries were now the source of growth and opportunity, Mr Zoellick said.

In the past two weeks, global stock markets have suffered massive falls on fears about the state of leading economies.

The US had its AAA debt rating cut for the first time in its history by the rating agency Standard & Poor's, following a long and bitter row in Congress over a plan to raise the US debt ceiling to ensure the country avoided a default.

In Europe, rumours emerged that France would also have its top-notch rating downgraded, although this was widely denied, while Italy announced its second austerity plan in as many months. (more)

Libya rebels claim control of key city of Al-Zawiya, cutting Gadhafi supply line

Rebels in Libya are fighting Moammar Gadhafi's forces for control of the center of the third-largest city in western Libya and have cut a critical supply line to the west, rebels claimed Sunday.

Forces opposed to Gadhafi control most of the city of al-Zawiya, rebel spokesman Col. Jumma Ibrahim said.

Rebel field commander Adel al-Zintani told CNN his forces were "clearing the city of Gadhafi forces. There are minor clashes going on inside al-Zawiya," adding: "The situation is under control, but it will take some time to clear."

A spokesman for Gadhafi's government, Musa Ibrahim, denied similar claims a day earlier, but al-Zintani strongly rejected Ibrahim's assertions. (more)

Dissent in Damascus' Shadows: Driving Around Syria's Capital

It was 9.30 p.m. on Friday last week, and the Syrian capital Damascus was a ghost town. There were few cars on the streets, and even fewer families enjoying the warm Ramadan evening. Still, the streets were not completely deserted; Groups of men, hundreds of them, waited in many of Damascus's neighborhoods. They disgorged from buses and congregated outside mosques and along main roads. Some sat on the sidewalk; others stood near roundabouts; most were armed with some sort of weapon — a rifle, a wooden truncheon, an iron bar. The men — some of whom wore mismatched items of military clothing, others civilian garb or simply black clothing — are commonly known as shabiha, the armed thugs that anti-regime activists say President Bashar al-Assad has used to buttress the bloody efforts of his official security forces.

It was a frightening show of force, intended to intimidate worshippers coming out of the city's mosques after Taraweeh prayers (which usually wrap up before 10 p.m.) and dissuade them from protesting against Assad's regime. In some of places TIME visited last Friday during a two-hour drive through the city, it seemed to work. But in many, many others, the protesters braved the shabiha's batons and the security force's bullets.

My guides for the evening were two young activists, both business graduates, both 24 and both protest veterans who also help organize gatherings around Damascus. (more)

UK riots show that high-end goods make poor gods

The riots had little to do with politics and an awful lot to do with acquisition.

We had heard so much about the presumed nature of the rioters and looters last week – that they were everything from feral, deranged youths to the tragic offspring of a neglectful society – that it came as rather a surprise to glimpse the accused during their attendances at court. The eclectic bunch included a primary school assistant, an aspiring ballet dancer, a millionaire’s daughter, university students and Church mentors: all shamefully united in their sustained moment of madness, their impassioned, repellent grab for mountains of “free stuff”.

The mob is, of course, a complex, shifting animal, which covers the spectrum from hardened criminals to excited rubberneckers. The most vicious and focused participants were clearly bent upon arson, mugging and injury to the police, while many more opportunistic looters were content simply to cram their pockets and bags with stolen goods.

If Britain’s blazing streets were briefly places of adrenaline-fuelled anarchy, where it appeared that anything went – in particular, high-end electronic items and expensive trainers – the courts have been the spaces for sober scrutiny, where those who still retained some capacity for shame felt the first twinges of nausea after their very public binge.

What shocked many onlookers – almost as much as the sudden sight of rampaging youths wreaking mass destruction – was the absence of political discontent. In Tottenham, certainly, some rioters attempted to argue that their behaviour was in retaliation for the death of Mark Duggan, shot dead by police while in possession of a handgun. But even that was cast aside in the fevered stampede towards the stacked shelves of Tottenham Hale retail park.

No, the precursors of these disturbances were not the Brixton or poll tax riots, but the Ikea and Primark “riots” of the Noughties, when London shoppers – inflamed by rumours of rock-bottom prices at new openings – trampled one another to get to the bargains first, necessitating the hospitalisation of some (and, in the case of Primark, the arrival of mounted police). (more)

Is the cinema dying? UK distributor is bypassing the multiplexes to take its films direct to the public

One Sunday afternoon in May, some 75 people of various ages watched a film in a hired room at the Captain’s Club, a riverside hotel-restaurant in Christchurch, Dorset. A Small Act is a moving documentary about a Swedish woman who pledged a monthly sum to further a poor Kenyan schoolboy’s education; he graduated in law and is now a United Nations human rights advocate, fighting discrimination and documenting genocide. He has started a foundation to help other impoverished Kenyan children.

Fittingly, the proceeds from the screening will help other African children.

It was organised by Lucy Devall, a trustee of the Cicely Foundation, a charity that supports Peace Matunda, a young persons’ project in Tanzania. “From what we made on ticket sales,” she says, “another class of 30 students can now continue their education.”

Devall paid London-based Dogwoof Films, British distributors of A Small Act, a fee for using their DVD – and the rest of the revenue was hers to use as she wished.

The screening was an example of “pop-up cinema” being pioneered by Dogwoof. The company, which specialises in highly regarded documentaries about social issues (Black Gold, Burma VJ, Restrepo), recruits “ambassadors” (around 100 to date) for their films who will agree to screen them in their local communities – in village halls, libraries, art galleries or any venue with a public-event licence. So these screenings can “pop up” anywhere. (more)

Fukushima update: Radiation danger continues

Five months ago today, the nuclear crisis began in Fukushima, and the government began lying about the threat and the dangers to its people. Now they are beginning to build a gigantic tent over reactor number one. We do not have any information from Japan about people dying but the plants are dying in the middle of central Tokyo and it could be because of the increase in radiation. One irony of the radioactive fallout from Fukushima is that people in Japan are starting to pay more attention to nature.

The picture above was taken on the sidewalk of Hakusan Dori in Bunkyo-ku in Tokyo, and was uploaded on July 30. The air radiation in Bunkyo-ku has been higher than the official Tokyo number (measured in Shinjuku-ku, western central Tokyo), along with several other eastern "ku" (special wards of Tokyo). The person who took the picture says, "About 30% of azaleas on the sidewalk are completely dead. Ginkgo leaves are browning." (more)

Monsanto preys on popularity of omega-3s by developing GMO soybean that produces fake fish oil

Leave it to Monsanto to take a good thing and corrupt it for financial gain. According to a recent report in Forbes, the multinational biotechnology-slash-agriculture-manipulating monolith has developed a new genetically-modified (GM) soybean that artificially produces stearidonic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid -- and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve the "frankenbean" sometime this year.

Monsanto appears to be introducing the omega-3 enhanced GM soybean oil, called Soymega or "stearidonic acid soybean oil" (SDA oil), at a craftily strategic time when much of the world is still reeling from the Fukushima Daiichi mega-disaster, which left ocean waters ridden with radioactive isotopes. And since omega-3s just happen to be most readily found in fatty ocean fish, the perpetual fear over radioactive and other poisons that may be lurking in such fish could drive many to embrace Monsanto's fake fish oil instead. (more)

Big Pharma now pushing for 20 new vaccines in next decade

The mainstream media is extremely one sided with its vaccine reporting. It is a PR outlet for the pharmaceutical industry, especially when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry's sacred cow - vaccines.

A recent example is a BBC item announcing a UK research project to come up with twenty new "improved" vaccines over the next decade. As usual, the article strongly implies that those who avoid vaccinations are loony. The history of vaccine injuries and the statistics that indicate vaccines do not offer immunization are ignored. (more)

Detroit mother Maryanne Godboldo found in neglect for refusing to medicate daughter with psychiatric drugs

Detroit mom Maryanne Godboldo, who was subjected to an armed SWAT team assault on her home during an attempted kidnapping by Child Protective Services, has been found in neglect today by a Wayne County juvenile court.

The jury of that court was somehow persuaded to believe that Maryanne's refusal to continue drugging her daughter with Risperdal, a mind-altering psychiatric drug used to "treat" ADHD, equated to parental neglect. It is a sad day in America when even juries are so brainwashed by Big Pharma advertising and mainstream media propaganda that they believe refusing to drug your own teenage daughter is proof of poor parenting.

Judge Ronald Giles of Detroit's 36th District Court is now due to rule on whether Godboldo should stand trial to face multiple felony charges that were leveled against her after she allegedly fired a gun in self defense when police smashed through her door and tried to kidnap her daughter at gunpoint. (more)

UNICEF using African refugee crisis to target 300,000 Kenyan children for vaccination? Good thing? Bad thing?

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste: these are the now-infamous words uttered by former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel during the early days of the currently-in-motion financial meltdown, and they are ones that ring eerily true with a new vaccination campaign taking place in Kenya. Recent reports explain that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is taking advantage of the mass influx of refugees from Somalia into Kenya by pushing polio and measles vaccines on 300,000 Kenyan children.

Extreme famines, religious persecution, and various other factors have driven hundreds of thousands of Somalians into nearby Kenya over the past several months. Many of the refugee camps taking in these migrants are now at the brink of, or have already exceeded, their maximum capacity. But even worse, say authorities, is the fact that the mass relocation is bringing about a host of new diseases, and the need to protect the children is greater than ever.

On the surface, such concern and effort makes perfectly logical humanitarian sense. After all, who would oppose protecting children against potentially life-threatening illnesses? Unfortunately, UNICEF's plan for helping during this crisis has been birthed out of the same train of thought as that of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose partners have literally held women and children at gunpoint to force vaccinations on them. (more)

Sri Lanka's elephant count courts controversy: Conservationists say the census is an underhand way of capturing healthy animals and taming them

Sri Lanka has conducted its first ever nationwide survey of elephants in which more than 2000 wildlife department staff, volunteers and soldiers took part.

But wildlife conservationists have boycotted it, saying the count is an underhand way of capturing healthy animals and taming them.

Government has refuted the claim and said it is trying to figure out the concentration of elephants in order to minimise human-elephant conflict. (source)

Israel protests for reform set to spread: Demonstrators urged to "get out of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem" to strengthen economy protests across the country

Protest leaders have called on participants to "get out of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem" on Saturday to bolster demonstrations in other locations.

"We want to strengthen the movement in the periphery, where those who have pitched tents in protest are still few, so we have made a call to leave Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to take part in rallies in twelve cities," Stav Shafir, a protest leader, told the AFP news agency.

"In these periphery cities people's lives are even more difficult than in the centre, near Tel Aviv. It is essential to express the solidarity of the whole movement with the populations of these communities," Shafir added.

Israel has been gripped since mid-July by a rapidly growing protest movement born out of outrage over Israel's property prices. It has transformed into a nationwide phenomenon to also demand cheaper education and health care.

Reporting from the town of Beersheva, Al Jazeera's Cal Perry said that the government is "taking a sort of 'wait-and-see' attitude" in its response to the protests, suggesting that officials could respond well to large-sized peaceful demonstrations and marches.

"The organisers will tell you that this movement does have legs, it does have staying power," he said.

"They're hoping to get somewhere between 50 and 70,000 people into the small square behind me [in Beersheva]." (more)

Dhaka struggles to house its middle class in a city of 13 million

Dhaka, Bangladesh is one of the world's fastest-growing cities, with a middle class quickly on the rise among its 13 million residents.

But the infrastructure is not able to keep up with the growth, many residents are being left with fewer places to live. (source)

The world's longest ongoing war: For more than 60 years, Karen rebels have been fighting a civil war against the government of Myanmar

In February 1949, members of the Karen ethnic minority launched an armed insurrection against Myanmar's central government.

Over 60 years later, the conflict continues, with more than a dozen ethnic rebel groups waging war against the army in their fight for self-rule.

Now, the war is entering a new and bloody stage.

Myanmar is the only regime still regularly planting anti-personnel mines. But it is not only the army that uses them. Rebel groups also regularly use homemade landmines or mines seized from the military.

As the conflict escalates, civilians are trapped in the middle of some of the worst fighting in decades. (more)

Are Arab economies on the road to ruin?

It has been nearly eight months after the Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi made himself the fuse for the Arab Spring. His self-immolation not only toppled Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's president, but generated a wave of action that swept across the Middle East.

Bouazizi's fatal decision was driven in large part by economics, and in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain issues of food prices and unemployment are also high on the list of protestors' concerns.

But have their protests harmed rather than helped their economic prospects? The Institute of International Finance predicted sharp contractions in the economic output of many of these countries. Are Arab economies on the road to ruin? (more)

Hope for UK's lost generation?

never thought the next big international story I would cover would be on the streets where I live. Al Jazeera in London has not shied away from covering the underbelly of UK society, but this was different. Suddenly rioting Britain was worldwide news.

How had this happened?

Trying to get past the images of looting and rampaging and look at the reasons why seemed to be a journalistic no-brainer. Yet few media outlets seemed to want to broach this difficult topic.

Voices of kneejerk condemnation drowned out any soul-searching about what emboldened so many young people to take to the streets committing crimes regardless of the banks of cameras ubiquitous in today’s Britain - whether they be iPhones, street surveillance cameras, or amateur or professional TV news crews.

Some of the worst clashes took place in the borough of Hackney where I live. On the notorious Pembury Estate, police were baited into running battles with residents.

During extensive reporting on this event one youth was quoted as saying, "I’ve waited for years to do this to the Feds." (more)

50 years on: Getting over Berlin's 'Wall of Shame' (What aboaut the wall Israel has built?)

Fifty years ago today, the Berlin Wall was erected in haste across the bleeding heart of Germany's capital. The sudden and speedy construction of this East-West divide on the night of August 13, 1961, caught many Berliners by surprise, and those that tried - with increasing futility - to circumvent the barrier often became its victim.

These victims - not only those killed or imprisoned trying to cross the wall, but families separated by the partition for more than a generation – are commemorated at a newly upgraded Berlin Wall Memorial. With the German chancellor and president attending such a memorial for the first time, it is an unprecedented act of remembrance since, while Berliners have been happy to celebrate the fall of the wall, most have wanted to forget about its construction.

From the moment the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, Berliners not only rejoiced, but also quickly tried to remove every trace of their so-called Schandmauer, or "Wall of Shame".

"It was like, grab a hammer and knock it down. Get rid of this, just tear it down," remembers Martin Hirsch, only a teenager at the time. From what he can recall, no-one gave much thought to preserving any of the wall, or commemorating it. (more)

Nuclear safety: A dangerous veil of secrecy

There are battles being fought on two fronts in the five months since a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan.

On one front, there is the fight to repair the plant, operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and to contain the extent of contamination caused by the damage. On the other is the public’s fight to extract information from the Japanese government, TEPCO and nuclear experts worldwide.

The latter battle has yielded serious official humiliation, resulting high-profile resignations, scandals, and promises of reform in Japan’s energy industry whereas the latter has so far resulted in a storm of anger and mistrust.

Even most academic nuclear experts, seen by many as the middle ground between the anti-nuclear activists and nuclear lobby itself, were reluctant to say what was happening: That in Fukushima, a community of farms, schools and fishing ports, was experiencing a full-tilt meltdown, and that, as Al Jazeera reported in June, that the accident had most likely caused more radioactive contamination than Chernobyl.

As recently as early August, those seeking information on the real extent of the damage at the Daiichi plant and on the extent of radioactive contamination have mostly been reassured by the nuclear community that there’s no need to worry.

This is worrying because while both anti-nuclear activists and the nuclear lobby both have openly stated biases, academics and researchers are seen as the middle ground - a place to get accurate, unbiased information. (more)

Citizen group tracks down Japan's radiation

The aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis has been marked by an outcry in Japan over radiation leaks, contaminated food and a government unable to put the public's fears to rest.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the meltdown that resulted from March's earthquake–triggered disaster, activists and citizens have said, is the uncertainty that has ensued.

In the months since the catastrophe, the Japanese government, its nuclear watchdogs and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), have provided differing, confusing, and at times contradictory, information on critical health issues.

Fed up with indefinite data, a group of 50 volunteers decided to take matters, and Geiger counters, into their own hands.

In April, an independent network of like-minded individuals in the Japan and United States banded together to form Safecast and began an ongoing crusade to record and publish accurate radiation levels around Japan.

The group handed out mobile radiation detectors and uploaded the readings to the internet to map out exposure levels.

Sean Bonner, director of Safecast, told Al Jazeera that volunteers have so far logged more than 500,000 radiation data points across Japan.

He said the group is the only organisation he knows that is tracking radiation on a local level. The findings, Bonner added, have been shocking.

"People keep asking how we are doing it, when the government isn't," he said. (more)

China's growing water crisis

What is the biggest challenge that China faces?

Corruption, the gap between the rich and poor, and the rapidly aging population often top the list of answers to this question.

Yet a closer look suggests that the greatest threat may well be lack of access to clean water. From "cancer villages" to violent protests to rising food prices, diminishing water supplies are exerting a profound and harmful effect on the Chinese people as well as on the country's capacity to continue to prosper economically.

While much of the challenge remains within China, spillover effects - such as the rerouting of transnational rivers and a push to acquire arable land abroad - are also being felt well outside the country's borders.

China's leaders have acknowledged the severity of the challenge and have adopted a number of policies to address their growing crisis. However, their efforts have fallen woefully short, as they fail to include the fundamental reforms necessary to turn the situation around. Meanwhile domestic pressures, as well as international concerns, continue to mount. (more)

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 14th August 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck offshore Northern California at a depth of 2.5 km ( 1.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:27:02 UTC Sunday 14th August 2011.
The epicenter was 99 km (62 miles) West of Trinidad, California
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

SIX Dead After Knife Attack On Jersey including TWO Children - 14th Auag 2011

Six people, including two children are dead after a knife attack at a house on Jersey.

A 30-year-old man is in police custody in hospital after undergoing surgery.

Officers have launched a murder investigation after the incident at a flat on Upper Midvale Road this afternoon.

One witness told reporters he saw police come running out of the flat holding a small child which was taken to hospital.

He said he believed the victims were members of the same family.

Police say they have not yet established the identity of the victims and are appealing for witnesses.

More follows...

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 14th August 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 22.7 km ( 14.1 miles), the quake hit at 18:16:20 UTC Sunday 14th August 2011.
The epicenter was 169 km (105 miles) ENE of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 14th August 2011

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck South of the Fiji Islands at a depth of 553 km ( 343.6 miles), the quake hit at 17:38:44 UTC Sunday 14th August 2011.
The epicenter was 533 km (331 miles) WSW of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued, No Reports of Damage or Injuries

Now the rioters face justice: Teenage 'looters' arrested in raids after they're spotted on CCTV - 14th Aug 2011

The homes of three teenagers were raided today as police continued their crackdown on the suspected 'looters' who are believed to have taken part in the London riots.

One 17-year-old boy and two 15-year-olds, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were arrested in Brixton, south London, on suspicion of violent disorder, burglary and handling stolen goods.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said clothing from JD Sports and H&M were found in the properties.

The items are believed to have been taken during looting in Brixton on Monday, August 8.

The Metropolitan Police has launched Operation Withern to investigate the disorder and violence, with around 500 officers working to bring offenders to justice.

Detective Inspector Spencer Barnett said: 'If you know who was out there on the night or if you know where any stolen property is I would urge you to call the police so that we can take action. Read More

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You have the power to end hunger

I will never forget holding my newborn baby in my arms watching a television report on the 1987 famine in Ethiopia -- hearing the haunting cries of babies whose hunger could not be met by their anguished mothers.

Tragically, today we are seeing similar images as the worst drought in 60 years again devastates the Horn of Africa, throwing as many as 13 million into desperate hunger.

With such images, it would be easy to be pessimistic about our chances of ending chronic hunger in our lifetime.

I have no pretenses about the magnitude of this challenge. There will no doubt always be hungry people. Weather, conflict or war can disrupt the lives of millions in seconds. We will always need to be prepared to respond to such emergencies and feed the hungry. And it is critical that we fully fund the humanitarian response to hunger emergencies, such as the one now in the Horn of Africa. (more)

Montreal company hopes to revive Asbestos mine: Canada

A Montreal company says it's confident a plan to revive one of Canada's last asbestos mines will go ahead.

The owners of the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que. were given until Monday to raise $25 million from the private sector to secure financing from the Quebec government.

Just as it seemed time was running out, a consortium of investors led by Montreal company Balcorp Ltd. said it's confident it can raise the money to purchase the mine.

That's despite the fact Balcorp has requested another extension on the financing deadline set by the province.

The private sector money would help the consortium secure a $58 million loan guarantee from the Quebec government.

Balcorp says financing is almost there but not quite.

It's bid to take over the mine comes as the industry faces heavy criticism from health experts and international critics.

They say exporting asbestos to the developing world is unsafe and immoral. (more)

Suicide bombers attack Afghan governor's compound, at least 19 dead

A team of six suicide bombers launched a co-ordinated attack on a provincial governor's compound in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 19 people, authorities said.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said the assault began when a suicide car bomber attacked the southern gate of the Parwan governor's compound in the city of Charikar, 50 kilometres north of Kabul.

Five insurgents wearing bomb vests and armed with automatic weapons and grenades then burst into the compound, the ministry said.

Police said they killed three suicide bombers as they approached the governor's house. Two other assailants died when they detonated their explosives.

An unknown number of gunmen also managed to enter the compound. There were at least two large explosions and gunfire could be heard.

Fourteen of the dead were civilian Afghan government employees and five were policemen, according to the Interior Ministry. At least 35 people were wounded in the attack. (more)

Pakistan Independence Day attack kills 3 soldiers

Suspected Islamist militants fired rockets at a military camp in Pakistan's northwest on Sunday, killing three soldiers and wounding 23 others.

Officials said the soldiers had just finished raising the Pakistani flag for an Independence Day ceremony and were gathering for speeches when the rockets hit.

The base is in Miran Shah, in the North Waziristan tribal area, which has been a sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

At least 16 soldiers were wounded in the attack.

In the capital, Islamabad, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani attended a flag-raising ceremony to mark the country's 65th Independence day.

During the ceremony, Gilani expressed hopes for improved relations with Pakistan's neighbours.

"Our whole hearted wish is for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. We want to see Afghanistan prosperous, stable and free," Gilani said.

"India is our important friend. We wish that both countries resolve their issues through dialogue, so that both countries are liberated from the curse of poverty, illiteracy and backwardness," he said. (more)

Calgary baby stable after slashing

Police in Calgary have a man in custody following a slashing attack on a six-month-old infant early Saturday morning.

Police discovered the injured baby after receiving a 911 call from a man inside a house in the 1000 block of Cranston Drive SE at about 4 a.m. MT.

Roxie O'Brien, a neighbour, said she was already awake when she heard noises coming from her neighbours' open window.

"I heard a guy yelling and then a baby crying," she said.

Stu White, who is visiting two doors away, was shaken by what he witnessed: "We saw them take the baby out on the stretcher," he said.

The infant boy , who was in critical condition when taken to Children's Hospital, has since been upgraded to stable.

Insp. Bruce Walker said police arrested an "agitated" man who allegedly slashed the infant several times. (more)

Kelowna plagued by suspicious fires: Canada

A church and a carpet store were among the structures damaged by three suspicious fires in downtown Kelowna between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Doherty said that a church in the 1100 block of Springfield Road was the first structure hit, just before midnight. Fifteen firefighters responded to the call and were able to contain the blaze.

"Damage was contained primarily to the exterior of the building where the fire appears to have originated in a garbage bin," Doherty said.

The second suspicious fire started less than an hour later. At 12:41 a.m. PT, the same firefighting force responded to 325 Banks Rd., where the rear of a strip mall was on fire.

"Upon arrival at the scene crews determined that the fire was quickly extending into the main building which houses a carpet store," Doherty noted. (more)

Syrian warships have joined a military assault on citizens of Latakia port

Syrian warships have joined a military assault targeting protesters in the northern port city of Latakia, activists say.

At least 19 people have been killed in the operation, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The military attack began on Saturday, targeting the protesters' stronghold of Ramleh in the city, it said.

More than 1,700 people have reportedly died in the six-month uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. (more)

Australia's Great Barrier Reef 'at risk from pesticide'

Agricultural pesticides are causing significant damage to the Great Barrier Reef, according to a new Australian government report on water quality at the site.

The report says some farmers must be more careful with their chemicals.

It found that nearly one-quarter of horticulture producers and 12% of pastoral farmers were using practices deemed unacceptable by the industry.

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage-listed natural wonder. (more)

Bus carrying CNN, other journalists caught in firefight in Libya

About an hour and a half into his trip from the Tunisian border to Tripoli on Saturday, CNN photojournalist Craig Johnston sensed something was about to change.

"The two government drivers -- they wouldn't say much to us," said Johnston, who was in a bus ferrying fellow journalists from Sky News and Reuters from Djerba to the Libyan capital. "It was a little bit tense."

Johnston said he began to notice armed men massing along the road, and large amounts of civilian traffic traveling in the opposite direction.

"I could sense the tension was getting worse," he said. (more)

Alabama's Jefferson County still pondering bankruptcy

Alabama's Jefferson County on Friday held off from filing for bankruptcy over a $3.14 billion bond debt and allowed more time for talks with creditors to try to thrash out a restructuring agreement.

The decision means Alabama's most-populous county will not—for the moment—declare what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history over its sewer bond debt.

Heeding a plea from Alabama Governor Robert Bentley for more time to obtain more state financial support for a restructuring deal, county commissioners said they would extend by more than a month, until Sept. 16, negotiations with creditors, among them JPMorgan Chase [JPM 35.91 -0.78 (-2.13%) ].

They authorized county Commission President David Carrington and Finance Chairman Jimmie Stephens to pursue "direct" talks with creditors to try to gain more acceptable terms for a definitive restructuring settlement.

Summing up a day of complex closed-door and public debate, Carrington said the creditors' settlement offer in its current form was "unacceptable." But he added: "There are some terms in here that we can work with."

"It's time the commission took ownership of this debt crisis," said Commissioner T. Joe Knight. (more)

Losing the War on Pond Scum

A legacy of industrial agriculture, energized by climate change, a continent-sized explosion of toxic algae blooms is besieging the freshwater lakes of North America, sickening people, killing animals and wrecking tourist- and recreation-based local economies. Although each eruption is big news in local papers, the unprecedented extent and severity of the epidemic has drawn no attention from national news media or political figurines.

The bad actor is a micro-organism known variously as pond scum, green slime, blue-green algae and cyanobacteria. It is an ancient life form, one that is thought to have played a key role in oxygenating our infant planet, and it is found everywhere, especially in streams and lakes. Although it is a bacteria, it gets its energy from photosynthesis. Normally it is benign, but when stimulated by synthetic fertilizers washing off mismanaged fields or city lawns, in waters heated by above-normal temperatures and concentrated by evaporation in prolonged drought, the algae population explodes. (more)

A New Tragedy of the Commons: Water Banks

If you liked what investment bankers and hedge-fund managers did to our economy in recent years, you’re going to love what water banks are doing to our ecosystem. The same, time-tested methods are in play: unleash unrestrained greed on a commodity that everyone needs in order to make obscene profits from it while destroying it. This new chapter in the Tragedy of the Commons sounds perfectly reasonable, with respectable water banks working to smooth out the vagaries of nature. But let’s try calling it by its proper name: hoarding.
The tragedy of the commons is an observation of human nature with a long pedigree. Its core metaphor is the commons, a grazing area open to all who live around it. The tragedy is that each herdsman, left to his own devices, will put as many animals on the commons as he can afford or raise, increasing his own wealth until the commons is overgrazed and destroyed. This tragedy can be averted only if the herdsmen cooperate in some form and regulate themselves.

Water is a commons. The planet is mostly covered by water, and water runs though it, moving from highlands to low, shape-shifting from sea to cloud, storming, flooding, oozing and fogging in a vast hydrological cycle that makes life possible. Not so long ago, it was unthinkable that humans would presume to own, profit from and try to control such a wondrous thing, but then land ownership seemed equally bizarre to the native Americans of the 18th Century. “The white man wants to own the land,” a speaker at an Iroquois council marveled. “You cannot own the land, any more than you can own the air, or water.” Well, two out of three is pretty bad. (more)

How the World Ends: Not a Bang, a Brown Lawn

According to last Sunday’s Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram, “Lee Weaver knew he was facing a serious problem when he watched his lawn sprinkler dwindle to a meager squirt at his home south of Fort Worth.” This tells us pretty much all we need to know about Mr. Weaver, who in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the history of Texas was watering his lawn. It tells us a lot about journalism, too, when writers about this frightening, life-threatening and prophetic event think the best way to grab our attention in graf #3 is to highlight the agony of the brown lawn. And that says an awful lot about us.

It gets worse in graf #4, wherein we learn that not far away, “Pete and Stephanie Baldwin were confronting the same sobering reality — the well at their 10-year-old home with a St. Augustine lawn and an inviting pool was barely pumping.” OMG. Do you realize what St. Augustine grass looks like when it isn’t watered EVERY DAY??? Are we sober yet? More to the point, are we in touch with reality yet?

Credit where due: the newspaper’s lede gets it right:

The ferocious Texas drought is clobbering crops, thinning out cattle herds, decimating wildlife, and drying up streams and reservoirs, but it’s also wreaking havoc deep underground, where the state’s aquifers are dropping at a precipitous rate, experts say

That the surface water in Texas is drying up is by this point well understood. What seems to be coming as a surprise to the lawn order crowd is that the aquifers — the underground reservoirs from which wells draw their water — are drying up, too. All over Texas, the aquifers have dropped from 20 to as much as 50 feet, leaving well pumps sucking air like so many straws in an empty milkshake cup. (more)

Texas Teetered on Blackout’s Edge Just One Week Ago: Is America's power supply is serious peril?

The electric power grid in Texas is at the crisis point, its managers on the verge of having to impose rolling blackouts on a sweltering population, and is providing a leading indicator for the rest of the country. It is not only the heat that is placing unprecedented demands on the grid (after February cold and storms led to rolling blackouts), it’s the attitude of the people in charge that pretty much guarantees catastrophic failure ahead.

First, the situation: Texas is in the grip of an historic heat wave and drought, the effects of which are gathering on water supplies, food crops and energy supplies. Temperatures in much of the state have exceeded 100 degrees F. for more than a month, and consequent demand for electricity set all-time records three times this week. The optimistically named Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, said just two weeks ago that it had plenty of capacity to see the state through the heat wave, thank you very much. But this week it was running every facility it had flat out, and intermittently cutting power to large industrial users to keep the grid from going down. It was, it admitted, one technical glitch away from blackouts. (more)

Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America: 1 Million+ Deaths Annually, 62 Million People With Zero Net Worth, As Elite Make Off With $46 trillion

Despite increasing personal financial hardship, most Americans remain unaware of the economic world war currently unfolding. An all-pervasive corporate and government propaganda campaign has effectively obscured this blatant reality. After extensive analysis, it is evident that World War III is a war between the richest one-tenth of one percent of the global population and 99.9 percent of humanity. Or, as I have called it, The Economic Elite Vs. The People. This war has been a one-sided attack thus far. However, as we have seen throughout the world in recent months, the people are beginning to fight back. The following report is a statistical analysis of the systemic economic attacks against the American people.

The American public has sustained intensive economic attacks across broad segments of the population. While the attacks have been increasingly severe in scale over the past four years, they have been implemented with technocratic precision. They have been incrementally applied thus far, successfully keeping the population passive and avoiding any large-scale civilian unrest, while effectively reducing living standards for the majority of the population. As you will see in this report, the 55 million Americans that have been hit the hardest have thus far acquiesced due to temporary financial assistance, such as food stamps and extended unemployment benefits. (more)

Canada: Nova Scotia may let gas companies poison our water in a dubious attempt to save us from climate change

Hydraulic fracturing---or fracking---is the latest example of making things worse in the name of saving the humans, and it looks to have a date with Nova Scotia. Just before Christmas, the department of energy announced it was taking bids on oil and gas exploration on the north shore. The province currently holds six inshore natural gas exploration agreements, one production lease and two production agreements.

Fracking is a method of mining inshore natural gas. Natural gas is supposed to stop climate change. It burns clean and doesn't release as much greenhouse gas as coal and oil, our main energy sources.

But, like oil, natural gas is getting harder to access. Oil and gas companies like it because it's expensive and local, hence the recent spike in inshore natural gas exploration across North America. Fracking is a relatively cheap, though energy intensive, way to get at inshore natural gas deposits. More than 75,000 new wells have been drilled in five years.

Here's a rundown of the process, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council: First, clear a couple of hectares of land for each natural gas well. Drill down a few hundred (or thousand) metres and slice around underneath the shale, blast in at least nine million litres of water, plenty of sand and a variety of chemicals (many of which are known or possible human carcinogens, air pollutants or cause other chronic health problems) in order to access the gas. Bonuses include heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and radioactive elements. Score for the environment! (more)

The Big Thaw: Global warming is melting Greenland's ice, easing access to rich natural resources, but at what cost to the environment and tradition?

For IMF Help, Burma Must Abide by Conditions: US

Burma will have to abide by the conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if it expects to receive any assistance from the global financial organization, the US said on Tuesday amid reports that the new Burmese government is seeking IMF help to reform its complex foreign exchange system.

“If they want IMF help, they’re going to have to live by IMF restrictions and rules,” US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.

“So it’s Burma’s choice whether it takes the help or not. If it takes the help, it’s going to have to take it under the conditions that the IMF and its board put forward,” she said, expressing the views of the Obama administration on the subject. (more)

Interest in Antarctic booty set to heat up

In February, as the navy's new patrol ship Wellington hammered through mountainous seas off Antarctica, New Zealand was sending a message to the world: we're here, and we intend to stay.

But some of the planet's most powerful nations think otherwise. With the prospect of massive oil and mineral fields opening to new technology, the continent is facing the likelihood of a rush for wealth that will swat any existing claims aside.

A report by Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy warns that the existing treaty system is under increasing strain and may not survive, a view echoed by predictions of increased competition by New Zealand defence planners.

Last year's defence assessment placed the use of military force to impose an Antarctic claim among a list of potential sudden shocks the nation may have to deal with.

The Lowy Report, by national security Fellow Ellie Fogarty, urges Australia to include the continent in its security and strategic planning, and to increase the involvement of its Defence Force in a range of measures to defend its claim to vast areas of Antarctica. (more)

Another bloody week in Miami: eight killed in recent shootings

A 25-year-old mom who clerked at a check cashing store. A former head cheerleader at Booker T. Washington Senior High. A middle-aged man who worked mowing lawns with his friend. A distraught U.S. Air Force veteran.

These are the latest victims in a particularly bloody week in South Florida where gunshots have left at least eight people dead and more wounded.

The mom, Clairemathe Geffrard, was shot execution-style in an armed robbery near Fort Lauderdale. The ex-cheerleader, Calvin Milton, Jr., 27, was gunned down in a drive-by in Overtown. Roberto Morejon, in his early 50s, and his ex-girlfriend Yordanis Montoya, 36, were found dead — an apparent murder-suicide — in his Little Havana efficiency Friday morning. And the veteran, Catawaba Howard, 32, fired at Miami-Dade police, who shot back and killed her.

The shootings have devastated friends and families and signal a seasonal summer spike in crime. Law enforcement officials also say they are seeing more firearms on the streets. (more)

Japan: 87,000 still in homeless limbo five months after quake

Memorial services took place Thursday to mark the passing of five months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, with survivors mourning the loss of their loved ones while gradually beginning to find comfort from signs of reconstruction.

More than 15,600 people have been confirmed dead and police continue to search for over 4,700 others who are still missing. Some 87,000 evacuees remain scattered throughout the country.

"I am reminded strongly once again today that we must work hard toward reconstruction," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in the morning in response to a reporter's question at his office in Tokyo.

The five-month commemoration of the disaster happened to fall around the nation's Bon festival, a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's deceased ancestors in mid-August.

In Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, where over 1,400 people died or are missing, Matsuko Hatakeyama, 59, said with tears in her eyes, "I have a relative whose body has yet to be found. I feel so blank and empty." (more)

Report: Iran to bankroll military base in Syria

Western intelligence agencies believe that Iran will provide funding for "a multi-million-dollar military base" in Syria, according to a report published Saturday in a British newspaper.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the deal would assist with the development of an Iranian military compound at Syria's Latakia airport to be completed by the end of next year. The agreement will open a supply a route that will allow Iran to transfer military hardware to Syria.

Furthermore, the report says, teams of Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers are to be stationed at Latakia on a permanent basis, where they will coordinate arms shipments with Syria's secret intelligence service.

According to the report, Western security officials say the deal was agreed upon following Syria's Deputy Vice President of Security Affairs Muhammad Nasif Kheirbek visit to Tehran in June. Kheirbek is known to be one of the most powerful figures within Syria's security establishment. (more)