Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Sunday, August 21, 2011

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION - 22nd August 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck off the Hokkaido, Japan Region at a depth of 32.3 km ( 20.1 miles), the quake hit at 00:07:09 UTC Monday 22nd August 2011.
The epicenter was 28 km (17 miles) SSE of Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 21st August 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 54.2 km ( 33.7 miles), the quake hit at 21:39:58 UTC Sunday 21st August 2011.
The epicenter was 49 km (30 miles) WSW of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA - 21st August 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia at a depth of 39 km ( 24.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:14:05 UTC Sunday 21st August 2011.
The epicenter was 102 km (63 miles) SSW of Banda Aceh, Sumatra Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Gaddafi's presidential guards surrender to rebels as fighting sweeps through city

Libyan rebels raced into Tripoli Sunday and met little resistance as Moammar Gadhafi's defenders melted away and his 42-year rule rapidly crumbled. The euphoric fighters celebrated with residents of the capital in Green Square, the symbolic heart of the fading regime.

Gadhafi's whereabouts were unknown, though state TV broadcast his bitter pleas for Libyans to defend his regime. Opposition fighters captured his son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, who along with his father faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. Another son was in contact with rebels about surrendering, the opposition said.

"It's over, frizz-head," chanted hundreds of jubilant men and women massed in Green Square, using a mocking nickname of the curly-haired Gadhafi. The revelers fired shots in the air, clapped and waved the rebels' tricolor flag. Some set fire to the green flag of Gadhafi's regime and shot holes in a poster with the leader's image. more

"1,300 dead" in attack on Tripoli: Libyan Government Spokesman

Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said on Sunday that 1,300 people have been killed in a rebel assault on the capital, describing the fighting as a "real tragedy."

"In 24 hours, 1,300 people have been killed in Tripoli," Ibrahim told a press conference in Tripoli, updating an earlier toll given by a government official.

Ibrahim insisted Libya's regime "is still strong and thousands of volunteers and soldiers are ready to fight."

The rebels, who said Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime would fall within hours, were locked in battle with his forces in several districts of the capital late on Sunday. more

Gaddafi defector sees end of regime in 10 days

Muammar Gaddafi's former right-hand man Abdel Salam Jalloud, who has defected to the Libyan rebel side, said on Sunday Gaddafi would be toppled within 10 days.

Speaking on Italy's Rai News, Jalloud said Gaddafi's rule was "certainly" about to end and would be over "within a week, at the latest 10 days, maybe even less."

Libyan rebels battled their way toward Tripoli on Sunday to help fighters inside the city who rose up overnight. Gaddafi has described the insurgents as "rats.

Jalloud said in the televised interview he did not expect Gaddafi to flee to another country because all roads out of Tripoli were blocked.

He doubted that Gaddafi would surrender or commit suicide, but said "the way the situation is evolving, he won't be able to survive." more

Libya "on the brink" as celebrations take over Tripoli's Green Square: "Regime is crumbling" -- War about to end?


August Dollar Drive / Weekly Announcements -- August 21, 2011

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Libyan Rebels Advance Throughout Tripoli: End Game? (Photo Gallery)

Libya conflict: TV presenter waves gun and threatens to become martyr

The footage was posted on a social media website and the video cannot be independently verified.

Waving a gun at the camera, the presenter said: "With this weapon, I either kill or die today, you will not take al-Libiyah channel. You won't take Jamahiriyah channel, Shababiyah channel, Tripoli and all of Libya.

"We are all armed here and even those without a weapon are willing to be a shield in order to protect their colleagues at this channel. We are willing to become martyrs." source

Smartphone and video games 'help parents to bond with children' -- Insanity?

Playing video games and using smartphones are helping parents and children bond, according to new university research.

Four in five parents described playing video games with their children as “quality time”, while 32 per cent of parents play computer games with their kids every day.

More than 3,000 parents and grandparents took part in the poll, which was conducted by Goldsmiths University and PopCap, a gaming company, and found that 22 per cent of mums and dads said that playing computer games has helped their children develop a better understanding of technology.

The study also found that the growth casual games has meant that children as young as two are becoming proficient in the use of smartphones and other tablet devices.

Over a quarter of parents (27 per cent) said that their children borrowed their smartphone or tablet device every day to play casual games.

Many grandparents revealed that they play video games with their tech-savvy grandchildren, in a bid to get closer to them.

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Reader in Psychology at Goldsmiths said: "These findings are important because they highlight the social benefits of playing videogames. more

Italian art experts accused of censuring phallic fresco (but "modern art" continues to be shown freely)

Italian art experts who restored a cryptic medieval fresco depicting a tree of fertility have been accused of censuring the work by painting over the numerous phalluses which dangle from its boughs.

The unusual 13th century Tree of Fertility fresco was discovered by chance a decade ago in the Tuscan town of Massa Marittima and has recently been subjected to a three-year restoration.

The experts who carried out the restoration have been accused of sanitising the mural by scrubbing out or altering some of the testicles, which hang from the tree's branches along with around 25 phalluses.

"Many parts of the work seem to have been arbitrarily repainted," said Gabriele Galeotti, a town councillor who has called for an investigation after seeing the finished work.

"The authenticity of the fresco seems to have been compromised by a restoration effort that did not respect the original character of the work."

But restorers denied the charges, saying that if any of the body parts have changed in appearance it is because of the thick deposits of salt and calcium that encrusted the work and had to be painstakingly removed. more

Libya conflict: rebels advance on Tripoli in 'dawn raid from the sea'

Libyan rebels claimed they sent fighters into Tripoli in a dawn raid by sea, reinforcing gunmen who launched the first uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi since the start of the war.

The rebels claimed that hours after they fought the first street battles of the war in Tripoli they had launched a daring mission to penetrate the capital, which until Saturday night had been considered Col Muammar Gaddafi's last stronghold.

An advance party "from Misrata reached Tripoli this dawn by sea and joined the Tripoli rebels", said Abdullah Melitan, a spokesman for the rebels.

"They are now fighting alongside them."

If verified, the claim suggested that the rebels are closing in on the capital, which in the absence of Col Gaddafi's death or flight to exile will need to fall for an outright victory to be claimed. more

Pope urges young Catholics to avoid 'fashion of individualism' on final day of Spain visit

Pope Benedict XVI urged a crowd of nearly two million young Catholics to become missionaries for the faith, Sunday, as he celebrated an open-air mass to conclude World Youth Day in Madrid.

The Pope addressed pilgrims gathered at an airfield to the south of the capital telling them to avoid “the fashion of individualism” and not to keep their faith private but to participate in church life and share the faith.

“We cannot follow Jesus on our own,” the 84-year old pontiff said. “So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith.”

The evening before, a torrential downpour had forced the Pope to cut short a speech defending traditional marriage and the right to life – a clear condemnation of Spain’s sweeping liberal reforms allowing same-sex marriages, easing divorces and introducing abortion on demand.

Electrical storms brought fierce winds and sheets of heavy rain drenching pilgrims camping out at an airfield the size of 48 football pitches.

Many pilgrims could not receive Holy Communion because temporary chapels had been blown over in the strong gusts and stores of sacrament wafers damaged by the elements. more

Aaron Denham, comatose cyclist presumed to be facing imminent death, comes back to life in "miraculous recovery"

Aaron Denham, who was left in a coma after a road accident has made a miraculous recovery - as his family stood at his bedside deciding what songs to play at his funeral.

Aaron Denham was lying motionless in his hospital bed after suffering a broken neck, smashed pelvis and punctured lung.

Doctors were within hours of turning off the 22-year-old carpenter's life support machine.

But now, just a few months later, he is making a rapid recovery and can even walk unaided.

The first sign that talk of Aaron's funeral was premature was when his hand flipped over at Southampton General Hospital. His mum, Deborah, ran from the intensive care unit in disbelief as the unexpected movement sparked dreams that he may survive the ordeal.

She had been preparing for the worst - even beginning the heart-breaking task of choosing music for the funeral with his sister Leanne. more

Thundarr the Barbarian TV cartoon intro vs Comet Elenin concerns (We couldn't make this stuff up!)

Heavy Fighting Reported in Tripoli; Rebels Encircle City

For the first time in months, witnesses in Tripoli reported heavy fighting across the capital late Saturday night, even as rebel forces claimed to have encircled the city by taking major towns to its east, west and south.

Rebel leaders in Tunis and eastern Libya hailed the beginning of a new uprising in the capital against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s rule. And after months of rebel offenses that crumbled or stalled despite heavy support from a NATO airstrike campaign, it was the first time since the uprising began in February that the rebels threatened Colonel Qaddafi’s ultimate stronghold.

“We are coordinating the attacks inside, and our forces from outside are ready to enter Tripoli,” said Anwar Fekini, a rebel leader from the mountainous region in western Libya, speaking by telephone from Tunis. “If you can call any mobile number in Tripoli, you will hear in the background the beautiful sound of the bullets of freedom.”

Phone calls to several Tripoli residents from different neighborhoods confirmed widespread gunfire and explosions. And there were reports of frequent NATO jet overflights and airstrikes — a common accompaniment to the drumbeat of the rebel advance in the past week. more

Cholera death toll reaches 109 in Dominican Republic

The number of deaths caused by the cholera epidemic in the Dominican Republic have reached 109, while there are 15,876 suspect cases, according to figures revealed Friday by the health authorities.

A statement by the Health Ministry reads that the intensity of the outbreak has been decreasing since six weeks ago, but the region of Gran Santo Domingo, which includes the capital city, still faces a serious epidemic situation.

The preventive measures undertaken by the government include informing the population, careful observation of diarrhea cases, providing drinkable water and building new public toilets as part of efforts to contain the outbreak, the statement added.

The latest Cholera outbreak appeared last November in the country, a month after the first cases were reported in Haiti. source

Obama slammed for vacation, but that's nothing new

After returning late Wednesday night from a three-day bus tour of Middle America, President Obama left Washington once again Thursday afternoon -- this time for Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts and a 10-day vacation with his family.

Obama's vacation comes at a tumultuous time for the country, domestically and overseas. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 410 points just as the president boarded Air Force One. He is set to release a new job creation proposal in early September, and a U.S.-led call from the international community for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power was publicly released the morning of Obama's departure.

The president's critics are seizing upon these events to argue that this is no time for a vacation. While campaigning in early primary states this week, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used Obama's vacation to suggest that maybe he's just giving up.

"I wish the president were in Washington calling back Congress and dealing with the challenges we have," Romney said at an event in Litchfield, New Hampshire, on Monday. "I don't know that he has a strategy now or whether he's basically throwing up his hands and is just hoping things'll get better." more

Heavy Rain, Traffic and Low-Lying Land Contributed to Deadly Pittsburgh Floods

The flash flooding that killed four people and forced others to swim to safety or climb onto car roofs was a freak accident caused by heavy rainfall that overwhelmed the sewer system just as rush-hour traffic clogged low-lying city streets, officials said Saturday.

A mother and her two daughters died in Friday's flood after becoming trapped in their vehicle and rising water pinned it to a tree. Another woman's body was washed into the Allegheny River, where she was found Saturday morning.

Back-to-back storms pounded the city with 3 to 4 inches of rain. The water drained rapidly onto Washington Boulevard, a main street near the Allegheny River on the city's east side, with a force too great for a pair of sewer pipes 9 feet in diameter. The torrent blew off 60-pound manhole covers,

"We had geysers here," said Raymond DeMichiei, deputy director of the city Office of Emergency Management. more

"Are Military Pensions Too Generous?"

Costco Removes E.V. Electric Chargers From Parking Lots: "No one uses them"

Costco, the membership warehouse-club chain, was an early leader in offering electric-vehicle charging to its customers, setting an example followed by other retailers, including Best Buy and Walgreen. By 2006, Costco had installed 90 chargers at 64 stores, mostly in California but also some in Arizona, New York and Georgia. Even after General Motors crushed its EV1 battery cars, the Costco chargers stayed in place.

Yet just as plug-in cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt enter the market, Costco is reversing course and pulling its chargers out of the ground, explaining that customers do not use them.

“We were early supporters of electric cars, going back as far as 15 years. But nobody ever uses them,” said Dennis Hoover, the general manager for Costco in northern California, in a telephone interview. “At our Folsom store, the manager said he hadn’t seen anybody using the E.V. charging in a full year. At our store in Vacaville, where we had six chargers, one person plugged in once a week.”

Mr. Hoover said that E.V. charging was “very inefficient and not productive” for the retailer. “The bottom line is that there are a lot of other ways to be green,” he said. “We have five million members in the region, and just a handful of people are using these devices.” more

Irene Destined for Southeast US as a Hurricane

Interests in the Caribbean, Bahamas and the Southeast Coast, will want to keep close tabs on the status of Tropical Storm Irene.

Irene is bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to portions of the Lesser Antilles, and her affects are already being felt on the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Irene will continue to bring flooding rains and gusty winds to portions of the Lesser Antilles and the U.S. Virgin Islands through Sunday night. Senior Meteorologist Mike Pigott stated, "Irene is taking a track farther north than originally forecast."

With Irene taking this more northerly track, it will make landfall in Puerto Rico Sunday night. Flooding rains and tropical storm force winds will blanket Puerto Rico, with 4-8 inches of widespread rain and isolated amounts of a foot possible along the northern facing hillsides.

Irene will then graze the northern edge of Hispaniola Monday into Tuesday. While the interaction with the mountainous terrain of the eastern Greater Antilles will mitigate the intensity of Irene for a time, the more northerly track will allow for intensification into a hurricane by midweek. This would be the first hurricane of the year in the Atlantic Basin. more

Five headless bodies found in Acapulco

Authorities in Mexico found the decapitated bodies of four men and a woman in Acapulco on Saturday, the latest in a string of slayings in the popular Pacific resort this week.

Federal police said the corpses of two men and a woman were found tied up in the back of a sport utility vehicle near Acapulco beach, in what appeared to be a crime related to drug gangs.

Reforma newspaper said messages were left in the vehicle linking the killings to the powerful Sinaloa cartel, headed by Mexico's most wanted capo, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

The dismembered and decapitated bodies of two other men were found at the entrance to an outlet of Sam's Club, a unit of U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Daily Excelsior described the past few days as a "black week" for Acapulco, noting at least 25 people had been killed before Saturday's events. more

Nations Race to Defuse Crisis Between Egypt and Israel

Diplomats scrambled to avert a crisis in relations between Egypt and Israel on Saturday, and the Israeli government issued a rare statement of regret for the killing of three Egyptian security officers by an Israeli warplane.

Tensions between the two countries, which on Saturday led Egypt to announce that it would recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv, reached the worst point since the Camp David peace accords three decades ago, spurred by a burst of violence along their shared border in the Sinai Peninsula. A series of attacks there killed eight Israelis on Thursday; the Israeli government then retaliated against Gaza-based militants, and the three Egyptians died in the crossfire.

After Egypt’s announcement about its ambassador early Saturday, diplomats from other nations rushed to broker an end to the impasse between the Egyptians and the Israelis, a Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the talks.

Breaking a customary silence on the Sabbath, the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, released a statement saying, “We regret the deaths of members of the Egyptian security forces during the terror attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border.” more

Intergenerational 'con job': There were always alternative-policy options to the welfare state

The latest deals to "save" American and Greek public finances - those countries can now put themselves into even deeper debt - should puncture the illusion the welfare state was ever a success; fact is, it was always built on borrowed time and borrowed money.

That intergenerational sleight of hand worked for a while. Successive postwar generations went to the doctor, availed themselves of government services, built roads and enjoyed other partially debt-financed benefits. Problematically, they handed part of the bill to future generations. It's akin to buying an expensive home and handing the delayed mortgage payments to your kids when they turn 18.

Greece is merely the most dramatic example of this intergenerational public finance "con job." The recent European Union deal for Greece, in which $109 billion euros will be lent to tide that profligate country over yet again, is equivalent to $149 billion Canadian. Put another way, every Greek just borrowed another $13,847 Canadian.

To put the worldwide rise in government debt in some historical perspective, consider the debt trajectory of the U.S. and selected European countries since 1995. That's about the time many Canadian governments began to grapple with our red ink problem. more

Global markets buckle as bad news sparks heavy sell-off

Just when Wall Street seemed to have settled down, a barrage of bad economic reports collided with fresh worries about European banks on Thursday and triggered a global sell-off in stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 419 points -- a return to the wild swings that gripped the stock market last week.

Stocks were only part of a dramatic day across the financial markets. The price of oil fell more than $5, gold set another record, the government's 10-year Treasury note hit its lowest yield, and the average mortgage rate fell to its lowest in at least 40 years.

The selling began in Asia, where Japanese exports fell for a fifth consecutive month, and continued in Europe, where bank stocks were hammered because of worries about debt problems there, which have proved hard to contain.

On Wall Street, the losses wiped out much of the roughly 700 points that the Dow had gained over five days. Some investors who bought in the middle of last week decided to sell after they were confronted with a raft of bad news about the economy:

• More people joined the unemployment line last week than at any time in the past month. The number of people filing claims for unemployment benefits rose to 408,000, or 9,000 more than the week before.

• Inflation at the consumer level in July was the highest since March. More expensive gas, food, clothes and other necessities are squeezing household budgets at a time when most people aren't getting raises. more

Recession coming? Forecasters say we’re likely to muddle through

If the despair in global stock markets is your guide, it seems that we’re already in a new recession. “The market is trading off of really primal fear,” one U.S. stockbroker told the Bloomberg financial wire Friday.

Nevertheless, many well-regarded economic forecasters still think the economy is more likely to muddle through the coming months than to sink into recession. This is the same assessment we heard Friday from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and, perhaps more importantly, from the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, who has no political interests to defend.

That’s not to say that the worry about recession is merely hysteria. Big stock market declines really are one possible indicator of impending recessions. But those who believe we’re doomed would do well to remember that even this widely followed barometer is wrong about as often as it’s right.

One of the wittiest expressions of this truth came from Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson. More than four decades ago, he said that economists who claimed the stock market had predicted four of the past five recessions were giving it too little credit. In fact, he said, it predicted “nine out of the last five recessions.” more

2011: Year of billion-dollar disasters for America and the World

The Wood family of Piedmont, Oklahoma, barely made it to their storm-proof safe room before a huge tornado struck their house in late May. The Woods survived unhurt but the three-story house was destroyed and their dog, Roxie, disappeared.

The family got a bit of relief when Roxie was found safe almost two miles away a day later.

"I was very happy. I started dancing," 8-year-old Paisley Wood told CNN's Ed Lavandera shortly after the storm.

That storm was part of a six-day outbreak of an estimated 180 tornadoes that caused 177 deaths, including 157 in Joplin, Missouri. Total losses across 15 states were greater than $7 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The United States has already seen nine weather disasters this year that have caused $1 billion or more in damage, tying the record set in 2008. The total for all the disasters is about $35 billion.

"The year 2011 has already established itself in the record books as a historic year for weather-related disasters, and it is not over -- in fact, hurricane season is just getting under way," NOAA Deputy Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan told the Senate Appropriations Committee in late July. more

Venezuela Takes Back 200 Tons of Gold From US, UK. Will US Inc Start Another War?

Warning To Gamers Over Unhealthy Addiction

Interactive gaming allows many youngsters access to an action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled world - while in reality, they can sit undisturbed for hours.

Excessive gaming has long been seen as unhealthy, but one case has now shown it can be deadly.

Chris Staniforth, 20, died of deep vein thrombosis - a condition often linked to long-haul flights.

His father believes Chris developed a fatal blood clot after spending up to 12 hours at a time on his console.

The very nature of video games means players can sit for extended periods of time staring at a screen and moving very little. more

Two of Moammar Gadhafi's sons -- Saif al-Islam and Saadi -- have now been arrested by opposition forces in Tripoli, rebel officials say


Saif al-Islam Gadhafi captured, top rebel leader says

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, a son of Libya's ruler Moammar Gadhafi and a top official in the regime, has been captured by opposition forces, a rebel official said Sunday night.

Ali Said, general secretary of the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council, said that the arrest had taken place in Tripoli. The head of the same rebel group also confirmed the capture in an Al Jazeera interview. There was no immediate reaction from Libyan government officials to the report.

A day earlier, Saif al-Islam -- who had emerged as a leading spokesman for the regime since the unrest began in February -- had laughed off reports of rebels taking Tripoli and claimed that they were losing every battle.

But this account ran counter to reports from CNN reporters, witnesses and rebel officials on the ground. A NATO spokesman, in fact, said earlier Sunday that Moammar Gadhafi's "regime is crumbling."

But in an audio address broadcast Sunday on Libyan state television, the longtime Libyan ruler remained defiant in urging his countrymen to join him to stop "colonizers" and predicting an imminent "victory." more

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake JAVA, INDONESIA - 21st August 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Java, Indonesia at a depth of 78.9 km ( 49 miles), the quake hit at 16:54:21 UTC Sunday 21st August 2011.
The epicenter was 26 km (16 miles) SSE of Sukabumi, Java, Indonesia
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

D-FOX: Please contact us if you can read this.

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"A recipe for economic disaster"

Leadership is about self-sacrifice, not personal gain.

As Congress and the president debated the increase in the debt-ceiling limit, millions of Americans have been held hostage by threats to entitlement programs.

Equally as terrorizing, entire industries have been paralyzed by the lack of direction and decision from the government relative to regulations from newly enacted laws.

The unintended consequence of this foolhardy approach to governing sets the stage for economic disaster.

When fear is combined with the regulatory uncertainty, the stage is set not just for a double-dip recession but, worse yet, a depression.

It is easy when sitting in the warmth of your home to forget the travails of those around us. I would fire one of my subordinate commanders in the Marine Corps for deliberately creating fear.

Leadership is putting the country ahead of oneself. Leadership is about self-sacrifice, not personal gain.

The president warned Social Security recipients recently that failure to adopt a debt-ceiling increase will potentially jeopardize their checks. Such fear-mongering is not what leaders do. They are supposed to lead. The fireside chats of Franklin Roosevelt, the space exploration initiative under President Kennedy and the national highway system under President Eisenhower instilled confidence, pride and hope.

Fear is not hope! Getting the debt-ceiling increased is not the objective. The objective is to foster an atmosphere of hope, one of confidence, and one in which our citizens are comfortable to take risks by spending. Fear stops spending dead in its tracks. more

Species flee warming faster than previously thought

Animals and plants are shifting their natural home ranges towards the cooler poles three times faster than scientists previously thought.

In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers looked at the effects of temperature on over 2,000 species.

They report in the journal Science that species experiencing the greatest warming have moved furthest.

The results helped to "cement" the link between climate change and shifts in species' global ranges, said the team.

Scientists have consistently told us that as the climate warms we should expect animals to head polewards in search of cooler temperatures.

Animals like the British comma butterfly, for example, has moved 220km northward from central England to southern Scotland in the last two decades. more

Hans Litten: The man who annoyed Adolf Hitler

A new drama tells the story of a Jewish lawyer who confronted Hitler 80 years ago - earning the dictator's life-long hatred. So who was Hans Litten?

In the Berlin courtroom, Adolf Hitler's face burned a deep, furious red.

The future dictator was not accustomed to this kind of scrutiny.

But here he was, being interrogated about the violence of his paramilitary thugs by a young man who represented everything he despised - a radical, principled, fiercely intelligent Jewish lawyer called Hans Litten.

The Nazi leader was floundering in the witness stand. And when Litten asked why his party published an incitement to overthrow the state, Hitler lost his composure altogether.

"That is a statement that can be proved by nothing!" he shouted.

Litten's demolition of Hitler's argument that the Nazis were a peaceful, democratic movement earned the lawyer years of brutal persecution.

He was among the first of the fuehrer's political opponents to be rounded up after the Nazis assumed power. And even long afterwards, Hitler could not bear to hear his one-time tormentor's name spoken.

But although he was among the first to confront Hitler, Litten remains a little-known figure. more

Israel-Gaza violence causes international concern

nternational concern is growing over a fresh wave of violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

Israel has carried out air strikes in the Gaza Strip, while militants have been firing rockets into Israel.

The trigger was a series of attacks in Israel on Thursday when eight civilians died. Five Egyptian policemen were killed as Israel pursued the gunmen.

The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators - the UN, US, EU and Russia - has called for restraint.

Since the Thursday attacks, Palestinian militants have fired more than 100 rockets and mortars into Israel, killing one man in Beersheba and injuring dozens of other people. Israeli sources said two children were slightly injured when rockets hit the town of Ofakim.

Egypt also reported rocket fire hitting its territory on Sunday.

Israeli air strikes over the past few days have killed at least 15 people in the Gaza Strip, and injured dozens more.

A strike just north of Gaza City on Sunday reportedly left a 12-year-old boy seriously wounded. more

Gunfire erupts near Mexico stadium, sending soccer players fleeing

A soccer game was suspended after gunfire erupted outside a stadium in northern Mexico, sending players fleeing and spectators ducking for cover under seats.

Local soccer clubs Santos and Morelia were tied at 0-0 Saturday when gunmen attacked a nearby police station in Torreon city.

About 40 minutes into the match, thundering shots pierced through the noisy stadium.

Players and referees took off, leaving a soccer ball at the center of the field. Crowds ducked under seats as others scuttled through the field carrying children.

Commentators, who were dissecting the game seconds earlier, went quiet.

"This is bad, I think it's gun shots," a sportscaster says in Spanish.

Military officials found an abandoned vehicle with weapons near the stadium after a ground and air surveillance, the Notimex news agency reported. more

Placenta pills become a business for Saskatoon woman Marlese Assman

A Saskatoon businesswoman is making a folk remedy for new mothers a little easier to swallow.

Although its common for mammals to eat placenta after giving birth, the practice is rare in human culture.

But in Saskatoon, Marlese Assman is churning out capsules made from human placenta, also called afterbirth.

Assman was busy this week inserting blue gel capsules into a special holder and filling them with a brownish powder.

The powder is placenta that has been steamed, dehydrated and ground up. The client ordering the capsules provides the placenta for Assman to process.

Eating the actual tissue is done in some parts of the world. more

Joe Biden: U.S. has never defaulted on its debt and never will

The United States, the world's biggest economy, has never defaulted on its debt and never will, said Vice President Joe Biden as he wrapped up his five-day visit to China on Sunday.

"Some Chinese are concerned about investment in the United States," Biden told students at Sichuan University in the southwestern city of Chengdu -- the last stop on his visit.

"But the U.S. owns 87% of our financial assets and 69% of treasury bonds. China owns only 1% of financial assets and 8% of our treasury bonds. So it's in our interest not just to protect Chinese investors. We have an overarching interest in protecting the investment."

Then, Biden added, "The United States has never defaulted and never will." more

Barrage of rockets from Gaza strike Israel; sites in Gaza targeted

A barrage of rockets and mortars fired into southern Israel continued Sunday, the latest in a four-day escalation of violence sparked by a series of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers Thursday.

By noon Sunday, 20 incoming rockets had been reported by Israeli officials.

An eighth victim died from Thursday's attacks, Israeli police said Sunday. He was identified as Yitzhak Sela, a 56-year-old bus driver.

The attacks on buses, cars and security personnel killed six other Israeli civilians and one soldier and wounded more than 30 people, authorities said.

Since then, nearly 100 rockets have been fired into Israel, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said Sunday. At least one Israeli was killed in an attack in Beer Sheva, authorities said.

Mordechai blamed Hamas for the rocket attacks, saying it "is not a movement but rather a murderous terrorist organization supported by Iran."

Hamas has denied involvement in Thursday's attacks and accused Israel of looking for a pretext to attack Gaza. more

Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?

He is a good Christian, Michael is telling his two therapists. He goes to church most Sundays. He’s a devoted husband and father of two daughters.

“But when I would leave on business trips,” he says, “I knew I was going to get to be someone else.”

“Prostitutes, porn - I took anything I wanted.”

Sitting on a comfortable, worn couch, Michael glances out the window and sees a reflection of himself set against the parking lot of this suburban Atlanta office building. He fidgets, runs his fingers over his closely cropped blond hair and straightens his green tennis polo. He clears his throat.

Above his head hangs a poster covered in words describing feelings - angry, anxious, sad. On it is a big yellow cross.

Therapists Richard Blankenship and Mark Richardson wear solemn but empathetic expressions. Certified counselors and Christian ministers, they tell him they know how to listen and nod for him to continue.

“I’ve had a record of purity since March when I confessed to my wife,” says Michael, whose name has been changed by to protect his privacy. “No porn, no masturbation.”

“Awesome,” Richardson says, leaning forward in his chair. “God knows you’re trying.” more

Museum exhibit highlights Pakistan's Buddhist roots

A statue resembling the goddess Athena and jewelry bearing images from Greco-Roman mythology may not be objects you'd expect to see in a museum exhibit of Buddhist art from Pakistan.

Their presence among carvings of Buddha and Indian deities is meant to serve as a reminder of Pakistan's oft-forgotten multicultural roots, which form the basis of a new exhibit, "The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara."

The show, which runs until October 30 at New York's Asia Society, is the first to bring works of Gandharan art to the United States since 1960. The pieces, on loan from museums in Karachi and Lahore, highlight Pakistan's history as a crossroads of cultural influences, despite present-day associations of the country as an incubator of religious extremism, museum director Melissa Chiu said.

"When we think of Pakistan, Americans might associate it with the place where Osama bin Laden was captured, with terrorism and natural disasters," she said. "But actually, it has a much longer history that dates back to an ancient culture that gives us a sense of a pluralistic tradition that was all about tolerance." more

Woot! New additions to dictionary reflect today's culture

Don't be a denialist. Instead put on your jeggings (breathe in) or mankini (be careful) and retweet this article.

After all, it's hip to be in the know on the 400 new words and phrases in the 12th edition of Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the abridged version of the Oxford English Dictionary. The smaller dictionary is meant to "cover the language of its own time."

Beware: Not all words are built to last, wrote dictionary editor Angus Stevenson in a blog posting last week.

"Sadly, the new edition has no room for tremendous words like brabble 'paltry noisy quarrel' and growlery 'place to growl in, private room, den' -- what we might call a man cave these days," Stevenson wrote on a blog. more

"The Media Is the Enemy of Peace, Liberty and Truth"

Ron Paul is getting more publicity out of not getting publicity in the wake of his virtual tie with Bachmann in the Ames poll than he’s gotten to date. Suddenly everyone’s noticing the “mainstream” media is trying very hard not to notice the twelve-term Texas congressman and libertarian icon, despite his success in quadrupling his previous Iowa showing and barely being edged out by Bachmann. Jon Stewart’s takedown of the Ron Paul media blackout is devastating, and, for the most part, funny. Barring that crack about Paul being “the ‘Patient Zero’ of the Tea Party” – likening tea partiers to HIV-positives is offensive on so many levels, I don’t know where to start – Stewart’s critique of the anti-Paul bias in the mainstream media is 100 percent accurate. Roger Simon, writing in Politico, found it “amazing” and “disturbing” that “Paul almost wins the thing and he remains poison.”

To us long-time Paul-watchers, who have witnessed this media blackout in operation for years – and are way beyond being merely “disturbed” by it – there is nothing in the least bit amazing about the media’s hostility to Paul. The latest snub is merely a repetition of what has been the Party Line, a line that – like Paul himself – crosses ideological boundaries, and Stewart’s takedown – which spliced together footage of both CNN and Fox News anchors, wearing identical smirks, disdainfully dismissing Paul – showed this red media/blue media united front in action. more

Saudi Arabia Moves to Take Down Syria, Iran and Hezbollah

After months of protests and regime violence, King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia, one of the last absolute monarchs in the world, has called on Syria’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, to stop the “killing machine” repressing his own people and accept at least some of the demands of Syrians calling for an end to Assad’s decade old dictatorship. The king backed up his statement by recalling Saudi Arabia’s ambassador from Damascus, and its clients Bahrain and Kuwait quickly followed Riyadh’s lead.

The Saudis sense a strategic opportunity has opened in Syria, a unique chance to deal a mortal blow to one of their enemies, the Shia terror group Hezbollah, and a serious blow to their regional adversary Iran. Since Israel’s foolish invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the Syrian regime of Hafez and Bashar Assad has been Iran’s key partner in creating Hezbollah, arming it to the teeth with thousands of rockets and missiles and sending it to create terror throughout the region. For decades Damascus has allowed Tehran to use its airports and ports to transfer arms to Hezbollah, and more recently it has provided much of its own equipment directly to the Shia group. Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been based in Syria and thousands of Iranian tourists and spies have come to worship at Damascus’ Sayyidah Zaynab mosque, a traditional Shia holy site and an excellent place for extremists to get together under the protective eye of Syrian intelligence. more

How safe is the US?

The killing of Osama Bin Laden did not put cuts in national security spending on the table, but the debt-ceiling debate finally did. And mild as those projected cuts might have been, last week newly minted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was already digging in his heels and decrying the modest potential cost-cutting plans as a "doomsday mechanism" for the military. Pentagon allies on Capitol Hill were similarly raising the alarm as they moved forward with this year's even larger military budget.

None of this should surprise you. As with all addictions, once you're hooked on massive military spending, it's hard to think realistically or ask the obvious questions. So, at a moment when discussion about cutting military spending is actually on the rise for the first time in years, let me offer some little known basics about the spending spree this country has been on since

September 11, 2001, and raise just a few simple questions about what all that money has actually bought Americans.

Consider this my contribution to a future 12-step program for national security sobriety.

Let's start with the three basic post-9/11 numbers that Washington's addicts need to know:

1. US$5.9 trillion: That's the sum of taxpayer dollars that's gone into the Pentagon's annual "base budget" from 2000 to today. Note that the base budget includes nuclear weapons activities, even though they are overseen by the Department of Energy, but - and this is crucial - not the cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nonetheless, even without those war costs, the Pentagon budget managed to grow from $302.9 billion in 2000 to $545.1 billion in 2011. That's a dollar increase of $242.2 billion or an 80% jump ($163.6 billion and 44% if you adjust for inflation). It's enough to make your head swim, and we're barely started. more

UN: Deadliest six months for Afghan civilians

The first half of 2011 has been the deadliest six months for civilians in Afghanistan since the decade-old war began, according to the United Nations mission in the country.

The number of civilians killed from January to June 2011 rose 15 per cent compared to the same period last year, said a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Thursday.

"The rising tide of violence and bloodshed in the first half of 2011 brought injury and death to Afghan civilians at levels without recorded precedent in the current armed conflict," the report said.

It added that plans to hand over security in parts of the country helped fuel the rise in casualties.

"Violence rose as (anti-government fighters) sought to demonstrate that Afghan security forces could not manage security on their own," the report said.

The mission said 1,462 civilians had been killed in conflict-related incidents.

It attributed the rise to a wide range of increased violence, including a greater use of improvised bombs, suicide attacks and targeted killings, as well as more ground fighting and a rise in casualties from NATO air strikes.

The annual mid-year report said anti-government fighters accounted for 80 per cent of all deaths. more

Fukushima radiation alarms doctors

Scientists and doctors are calling for a new national policy in Japan that mandates the testing of food, soil, water, and the air for radioactivity still being emitted from Fukushima's heavily damaged Daiichi nuclear power plant.

"How much radioactive materials have been released from the plant?" asked Dr Tatsuhiko Kodama, a professor at the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology and Director of the University of Tokyo's Radioisotope Centre, in a July 27 speech to the Committee of Health, Labour and Welfare at Japan's House of Representatives.

"The government and TEPCO have not reported the total amount of the released radioactivity yet," said Kodama, who believes things are far worse than even the recent detection of extremely high radiation levels at the plant.

There is widespread concern in Japan about a general lack of government monitoring for radiation, which has caused people to begin their own independent monitoring, which are also finding disturbingly high levels of radiation.

Kodama's centre, using 27 facilities to measure radiation across the country, has been closely monitoring the situation at Fukushima - and their findings are alarming.

According to Dr Kodama, the total amount of radiation released over a period of more than five months from the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster is the equivalent to more than 29 "Hiroshima-type atomic bombs" and the amount of uranium released "is equivalent to 20" Hiroshima bombs.

"We have begun to see increased nosebleeds, stubborn cases of diarrhoea, and flu-like symptoms in children," Dr Yuko Yanagisawa, a physician at Funabashi Futawa Hospital in Chiba Prefecture, told Al Jazeera.

She attributes the symptoms to radiation exposure, and added: "We are encountering new situations we cannot explain with the body of knowledge we have relied upon up until now." more

Architectures of violence: Famine and profits

When considering starvation, context is everything. This fact is easily illustrated. Consider, for a moment, the actions of David Blaine, the US magician, who in 2003 spent 44 days in a six-foot-by-three-foot plexiglas chamber suspended in the air near Tower Bridge, London, without any food.

Blaine was seemingly motivated by Kafka's short tale, The Hunger Artist - and perhaps in the magician's mind this endurance test was the logical extension of being entombed in a block of ice or buried alive in a coffin - but for the watching public this caper was in bad taste. To wilfully starve oneself seemed to many people to be a perverse and disgusting show. Blaine was booed and jeered on a regular basis before he finally abandoned his stunt, weary and exhausted.

Now consider a second, more common image of hunger - the anonymous, starving black child. We've all seen her picture at some point: semi-naked, flies gripping eyelids, stick-like limbs, parched lips, sunken cheekbones, balding head, and sightless eyes. The child is obviously severely undernourished and requires food, but we do not get the sense - at least from this image - that she is being compelled or forced to go hungry. The picture is a stark one to be sure, but when it speaks to us it says only, "I starve". We are presented with raw biology or "bare life". more

"To live within our means, let's leave Iraq"

The Senate and the Roman People have declared that the US government is spending too much money. We have to live within our means. Difficult choices lie ahead. We can't do everything anyone might like us to do. Everything is on the table.

Therefore, instead of keeping US troops in Iraq past December, we should pull them out like we promised. If not now, when? John McCain once said there's no problem with keeping US troops in Iraq forever, just like we do in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. How liberals mocked him. But that's what the Obama Administration is now trying to do: keep US troops in Iraq forever.

Some members of Congress have a different idea: let's leave Iraq like we promised in the signed agreement between the two governments.

Representative Barbara Lee has introduced legislation that would prevent the Pentagon from keeping thousands of US troops in Iraq by cutting off funds for the war after December 31, 2011. In other words, the bill would cut off funds for violating the agreement with Iraq to pull out troops by December. It would cut off funds for violating Obama's campaign promise to end the war. more

Is capitalism doomed? Recent credit rating downgrade and Eurozone debt crises are slowly showing signs of The Great Depression 2.0

The massive volatility and sharp equity-price correction now hitting global financial markets signal that most advanced economies are on the brink of a double-dip recession. A financial and economic crisis caused by too much private-sector debt and leverage led to a massive re-leveraging of the public sector in order to prevent Great Depression 2.0. But the subsequent recovery has been anaemic and sub-par in most advanced economies given painful deleveraging.

Now a combination of high oil and commodity prices, turmoil in the Middle East, Japan's earthquake and tsunami, eurozone debt crises, and America's fiscal problems (and now its rating downgrade) have led to a massive increase in risk aversion. Economically, the United States, the eurozone, the United Kingdom, and Japan are all idling. Even fast-growing emerging markets (China, emerging Asia, and Latin America), and export-oriented economies that rely on these markets (Germany and resource-rich Australia), are experiencing sharp slowdowns.

Until last year, policymakers could always produce a new rabbit from their hat to reflate asset prices and trigger economic recovery. Fiscal stimulus, near-zero interest rates, two rounds of "quantitative easing", ring-fencing of bad debt, and trillions of dollars in bailouts and liquidity provision for banks and financial institutions: officials tried them all. Now they have run out of rabbits. more

China rules the rare earth: Global race to grab a share of rare earth metals in Central Asia has begun

Asia is at the centre of an inevitable development of our digital world: the coming mineral wars.

The computer you are using to read this article is already involved in a global war.

Oil wars? Water wars? Sure - they will continue to define the geopolitics of the early 21st century. But in high-technology terms, nothing compares with the coming mineral wars. And the name of the game is rare earth.

Asia is the land of rare earth - the minerals that allowed the digital revolution to happen, and that are making green technology a reality. China controls no less than 95 per cent of the global production of rare earth.

The key player in this high-stakes game is Baotou Steel Rare Earth (Group) Hi-tech Co., from Inner Mongolia - the world's largest producer of rare earth elements.

China has imposed export quotas on rare earth elements for three years - to boost its own high-tech industries. The Chinese master plan is to develop sophisticated smelting techniques for rare earth - instead of simply selling the raw product. When they get to that stage, Baotou Steel Rare Earth's stocks in the Shanghai stock exchange will inevitably reach dizzying heights.

Greater China - including Taiwan - is the world's top manufacturer and assembler of microchips, computers and network equipment, the soul of the internet.

So this whole process can be seen as yet another chapter in the Asian revitalisation of global capitalism - the most positive global development of the past three decades (and there have not been many). more

Jamaica's heavy debts weigh on schools, hospitals: Financial situation on par with Greece's

When the afternoon bell rings at August Town Primary School, children kick around a plastic bottle filled with gravel instead of a soccer ball. When administrators need to buy a copier, they turn to parents, businesses or foreign embassies for donations.

Making do has become a way of life at the school as it has all across Jamaica, where paying off the nation's punishing debt takes priority.

The country owes creditors $18.2 billion, which is more than its entire domestic economy produces in a year: 132 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund. That's a heavier load than crisis-hit Italy, Spain or Ireland face, and nearly as high as Greece's.

For years, over half the government's budget has been dedicated to paying the debt, and that has forced the government to scrimp on schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

"The budget's tight, there's no question. But it's been tight for a long while and we've had to learn to make things work as best as we can," said August Town Vice Principal Dwight Peart at the low-slung concrete school in an impoverished valley community in the capital. more