Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"September Clues": A documentary that every single American needs to watch and think carefully about

We at The Coming Crisis were planning on marking the 10th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 events with an editorial that asked our usual barrage of questions. Many others have done so, and done so well, and therefore we felt it was unnecessary to clutter the interrogation of history with yet another challenge.

We consider 9/11 to be both a tragic day and series of events for a number of reasons: for the lives lost, for the lives that were yet to be lost as a horrific day unfolded into a decade of uncertainty and chaos, and for the barrage of questions about that day that desperately needed answering, but never was. Witnessing the towers fall was one of the saddest moments for those who endured those early morning hours, but watching the truth collapse along with them was by far an even greater cause for lamentation.

For all those who experienced the emotions we did, but refuse to let them cloud their judgement and distract them from the pursuit of truth, please watch the above documentary. It's so important that we ask that you do so today, or make time to do so in the near future. We will keep this post on top all day until midnight, EST.

Remember: they often make us shed tears in order to obscure our vision. Don't let them. Those who were lost that day would surely want us to remain vigilant. Keep fighting.

-- Matt & Lynsey

2.8 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN TEXAS - 12th September 2011

A magnitude 2.8 earthquake has struck Western Texas at a depth of 4.3 km (2.7 miles), the quake hit at 00:31:49 UTC Monday 12th September 2011.
The epicenter was 10 km (6 miles) North of Snyder, Texas
No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 11th September 2011

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 35.1 km (21.8 miles), the quake hit at 23:37:36 UTC Sunday 11th September 2011.
The epicenter was 63 km (39 miles) Southwest of Port-Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

2.7 Magnitude Earthquake WESTERN TEXAS - 11th September 2011

A magnitude 2.7 earthquake has struck Western Texas at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 20:31:58 UTC Sunday 11th September 2011.
The epicenter was 19 km (11 miles) NNE of Snyder, Texas
No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

"Ten years after 9/11, the conspiracy theorist nutjobs are still telling lies" (Because we print all perspectives!)

Before we congratulate ourselves on standing shoulder to shoulder with America after 9/11, perhaps we ought to consider the following shameful statistic from a BBC poll: a quarter of young Britons believe that the attacks were carried out by the government of the United States.

Some conspiracy theories are plausible. I’ve read books about JFK’s assassination that make sense for at least the first 50 pages. (My favourite is David Scheim’s investigative study, whose title subtly guides the reader towards the identity of the culprits. It’s called The Mafia Killed President Kennedy.) But to believe that the CIA demolished the Twin Towers you have to be a) mad, b) malicious, c) intellectually lazy or d) drunk – Charlie Sheen is a voluble 9/11 sceptic.

The events of September 11, 2001 inevitably threw up lots of supposed anomalies for conspiracy theorists to sink their unbrushed teeth into. This was the most complicated terrorist atrocity ever committed: three sets of mass murders, plotted in at least five countries, by a fanatical sub-sect of Islam whose paranoid modus operandi was a mystery to nearly everyone, including its members.

The problem for 9/11 conspiracy merchants is that none of the anomalies amounts to much on its own. It’s surprising that the 7 World Trade Center building collapsed despite not being hit by a plane – surprising, that is, if you choose not to believe the structural engineers who discovered how uncontrolled fires caused support columns to collapse. And that’s the strongest so-called anomaly: other “clues”, such as the supposed missile-shaped hole in the Pentagon and the alleged lack of debris at the crash site in Pennsylvania, turn to dust as soon as you look at photographs other than the ones carefully chosen by conspiracy theorists. more

Before the torches and pitchforks come out, we'd like to note that:

1) We didn't write this article! (See the "more" link for the full piece)
2) We don't agree with this article, and feel that asking questions is not only our right, but our responsibility to those who lost their lives and innocence that day.
3) The article itself displays poor journalism in our opinion, in that it's disparaging of those who conduct real journalism, that is, those who ask questions, and also displays a lack of research, especially regarding WTC 7 and the massive movement of architects and engineers who feel an investigation is necessary of that building's collapse.
4) We published this to keep fresh in everyone's minds how entrapping the media system can really be: it not only convinces the masses on how to think, but programs those responsible for enlightening those masses.

Foreign secretary: UK should mull loosening EU ties (are the rats beginning to desert the sinking ship?)

Britain's top diplomat said his country should consider loosening ties with the European Union and distancing itself from the rest of Europe, according to an interview published Saturday by a British newspaper.

"We may get ahead as a result of being outside," Foreign Secretary William Hague, a longtime critic of the European Union, told The Times.

Hague disparaged the implementation of the euro currency in the interview, saying "It will stand as a monument in time to how groupthink can go so seriously away from what is realistic."

He said it was "always a giant mistake" to implement the common European currency without first aligning its member countries' tax and budgetary provisions.

The United Kingdom retained its own currency, the pound, opting out of Europe's shared currency, the euro, which is on shakier ground due to the debt crises of member countries.

A former head of Britain's Conservative Party, known for its skepticism of the European Union, Hague would also like to see other powers returned to Britain from the EU. more

Japan's new energy reality: Working weekends, dawn shifts and other sacrifices

Libyan troops seek to strangle Gadhafi hometown of Bani Walid in upcoming offensive

Libyan fighters trying to stamp out the last pockets of Moammar Gadhafi loyalists worked to isolate his hometown Sunday, a day after hold-outs repelled an effort by the new authorities to dislodge them from another town.

National Transition Council troops are patrolling areas south of the city of Sirte to try to cut off supplies of pro-Gadhafi forces still controlling his birthplace.

They're sweeping areas and towns south of Sirte to make sure other pro-Gadhafi towns are not able to relieve it.

The new authorities arrested eight or nine men manning a pro-Gadhafi post, but are not finding significant numbers of fighters still loyal to the old regime. more

Ancient Aliens: S03E07 -- Aliens, Plagues and Epidemics

"Mysterious Deaths" of 9/11 Witnesses: Just a coincidence? Natural deaths? Or something else?

NCEG and USDA Project: The big fraud that pours billions of US taxpayer's money into phoney Pakistani PhD programs whose "students" invoke suspicion

The following is an article written by a whistle blower, a courageous individual within the Pakistani educational system who is tired of the rampant corruption and extreme waste of funds. Being Pakistani, and having to endure the fallout of revealing such information, The Coming Crisis will not disclose the author's name. We also invite others within Pakistan who may add to, verify or expand upon what is disclosed within this editorial. We salute all individuals such as this one who pursue the truth with zeal, a true heart, and without fear.

The author noted that they hope this will spur Americans into action over the wastefulness of the US's financial contributions to Pakistan, and spur Pakistanis into action towards tackling the corruption that weighs their beautiful and potentially prosperous nation down.

Here is the article posted in its original form, without any edits or additions on our part:

"NCEG and USDA Project - A Big Fraud"

Liaqat Ali enrolled in Manchester University and went there but then secretly left the university (NCEG website still shows him as a Manchester University student He actually escaped to Exeter University on the pretext that fees are high at Manchester (according to Peshawar university sources). See what he says here His wife Seema Khattak also went with him to Manchester and stayed there (if the fees were high, how come she remained in Manchester). Liaqat is said to have been made to leave Manchester because of incompetence. He spent about 6 months in Pakistan, waiting for Exeter program to start. Both Liaqat and his wife went to UK in October 2006 and almost five years have passed but they are still there, violating HEC rules and apparently looking for a way to hide there.

Sumbal Saba Behar went to Netherlands for PhD in mid 2007 and after 4 years she is still there, violating HEC rules. Her profile on NCEG has been kept hidden. No accountability. Her profile is kept hidden on the NCEG website.

Muntazir Abbas ( went to Switzerland in 2009 for PhD but returned to NCEG, failed, in 2010, with no accountability, and instead he was sent again to Germany in 2011, spending millions of government’s funds with no use to the nation.

Ghazanfer Ali went to Ohio, US, for PhD in 2007 and returned without a PhD in 2009. No accountability again. Instead he was promoted by the personal favors of the home institution’s director. Hs profile has also not been uploaded to NCEG website.

Muhammad Hanif also changed his university illegally and overstayed in UK. Even as he has returned, his profile ( shows he is doing his PhD from Bristol, which is a lie; he left (most probably due to incompetence) Bristol and got a degree from Plymouth University (which is, ironically, manifest on the very same page; just read under his “Current Research Interests”).

Other students from NCEG including Jawad Afzal, Farmanullah, Irfanullah, and Sohail Wahid have all been overstaying in UK or US. NCEG is covering their failures and supporting them out of government funds. Even those who did their PhDs and returned, after more than 4 years, all violating the scholarship terms, have no research capability. Some of them haven’t even published a single paper as a first author, even in the lowest quality journals.

At the center in Peshawar University, the progress is below zero. An employer in lecturer rank, named Sufyan Qazi, has been enrolled in a postgraduate degree for the past 10 years (normal period of time allowed for the degree is 3 years) and he has no progress. But due to his association with an Islamist political group, the institution’s director is not cancelling his admission, but giving him years and years of extension. Other degree students at the institution have also no progress but are wasting millions each year from the government’s funds. No profile of him therefore has been uploaded to the NCEG website although his name is there in the faculty list (

In 2009, a shocking news reached many academic circles in the world. NCEG awarded a female student postgraduate degree in which bogus data was used. The country’s Higher Education Commission covered up the matter in collaboration with the NCEG. It is said that the student who had raised the issue was an employee of the university. He was threatened, attacked, and expelled from the university. The postgraduate thesis containing the bogus data was secretly manipulated at night at the institution’s library and the bogus data, endorsed by the head of the institution, was erased from it. The matter was covered at all administrative levels, saving the institution from getting blacklisted.

Worst of all, the university’s highest administrative official, its Vice Chancellor has been proven as a plagiarist ( Most appointments under him, including those in NCEG, are said to be all cases of favoritism.

But why is this all so important? This is because NCEG after gobbling up hundreds of millions of Pakistan’s government’s funds is now preparing to get a project over 1 million dollars from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this matter, a workshop has also been conducted last year ( Student sources who know about the matter say that a senior US geographer named David Dichter is actively trying to get NCEG this project without considering the institution’s history of abuses of funds and inefficiency and lack of accountability. Mr. Dichter never contacted any concerned academic department having qualified researchers in watershed management or land conversation. Ideally, this would be the agriculture university which is adjacent to Peshawar University. But he contacted the NCEG and even knowing that NCEG has not a single qualified researcher in this project and this makes a very dubious case. No detailed information is available except that the USDA is being dodged into wasting at least one million dollars on a project which will be in the hands of incompetent, uninformed, inexperienced, and corrupt people. Even after 8 months, the NCEG has not been able to prepare a convincing project proposal. How can USDA even think of throwing a million dollars on the rocks when the American economy is getting jolted all along? The NCEG is not accountable to anyone but are David Dichter and USDA also not accountable to anyone? Can an American taxpayer feel okay after learning that what he is paying out of his blood is going into the pockets of academic profiteers thousands of miles away?

Please write about these important points. The media won’t write about it. But somebody needs to stop the corruption and inform the American nation and the government that it has its own slipping economy to handle, not to waste millions on a zero-result project. If it has to waste this money anyway, it better waste it inside America.

Here is a related story to this subject, also provided by the author:

Fitch warns of rising China credit risk

Fitch Ratings said Thursday that China's credit risk has increased because local governments have become heavily indebted, with a lack of disclosure by financial institutions compounding the problem.

The comments by Fitch, one of the three major credit rating agencies, come amid concerns that borrowings by local authorities in China for expensive public works may overwhelm the ability of some local governments to repay banks.

Senior Director Jonathan Lee of Fitch Ratings in Taiwan said a large chunk of the lending has gone into unprofitable infrastructure, raising the prospect of default.

"Credit risk has risen from an over-extension of loans to local governments and property — both of which have questionable medium-term repayment capacity," Lee said during a conference in Taipei.

Chinese local governments borrowed heavily over the past decade to build subways and other infrastructure that the central government in Beijing initially promised to fund but then pulled out of.

Borrowing by local governments increased after Beijing ordered higher spending on public works as part of its economic stimulus to fend off the 2008 global crisis.

In June, Beijing revealed that local governments have piled up 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) in debt, the equivalent of 25 percent of China's annual economic output. more

When the lights go down in the city: Officials still in the dark about what caused massive US West Coast power outage

The failure of a single piece of equipment in Arizona ignited a massive blackout that left nearly 6 million people without power, baffling utility officials and highlighting the vulnerability of the U.S. electrical grid. Authorities in Arizona said Friday that safeguards built into the system should have prevented the breakdown at a substation from cascading across Southern Arizona and into California and Northern Mexico. They didn’t, and the resulting instability led to the sudden shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear-power plant, about 50 miles north of San Diego, cutting off power to a large swath of Southern California. “We lost all connection to the outside world,” said James Avery, San Diego Gas & Electric’s senior vice president of power supply. “This happened in a matter of seconds.” Energy experts and utility officials agreed the breakdown was troubling. “We’re struggling,” said Daniel Froetscher, vice president of energy delivery for Arizona Public Service (APS), the largest electricity provider in Arizona. “We have to take a hard look at the system design and figure out exactly what happened. … We don’t know the underlying causes.” more

$765 bottle of beer sold inside dead animals: "The End of History" it's called

You'd expect a lot from a bottle of beer costing $765. What you get is 55 percent alcohol — and served in a squirrel.

According to Scottish firm BrewDog, "The End of History" is the "strongest, most expensive and most shocking beer in the world."

Just 12 bottles were made and the company has already sold out. They will be shipped out to buyers in the United States, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Scotland and England next week.

The dead animals which were used to create the beers' unusual appearance were four squirrels, seven weasels and a hare. All were roadkill, James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, told

The name of the blond Belgian ale is taken from the title of a book by philosopher Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History and the Last Man" which the company said had been chosen to imply "this is to beer what democracy is to history." more

9/11: The Day of the Attacks -- A photoessay

Ten years ago, 19 men trained by al-Qaeda carried out a coordinated terrorist attack on the United States that had been planned for years. The attackers simultaneously hijacked four large passenger aircraft with the intention of crashing them into major landmarks in the United States, inflicting as much death and destruction as possible. Three of the planes struck their targets; the fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. In a single day, these deliberate acts of mass murder killed nearly 3,000 human beings from 57 countries. More than 400 of the dead were first responders, including New York City firefighters, police officers, and EMTs. It was one of the most-covered media events of all time, and after a decade, the images are still difficult to view. These attacks and the global reaction to them have profoundly shaped the world we live in, so it remains important to see the images and remember just what happened on that dark day. This entry is part two of a three-part series on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks. more

Sikorsky Charges U.S. Army $2,393 for $181 Black Hawk Part (and other tales of profiteering)

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. overcharged the U.S. Army for 28 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter spare parts, including $2,393.41 for a plastic wiring box cover worth $181.70, according to the office of the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

Sikorsky, a unit of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp., charged the Army $7,814.88 for a rotor used to cool radiator oil that cost another Pentagon agency $1,536.65, according to the 65-page audit. Bloomberg News obtained the report, a three-page summary of which the Inspector General made public today.

The audit cited excessively priced parts and costs based on pricing data that wasn’t current, complete or accurate from the latest of three Sikorsky contracts with the Corpus Christi, Texas, Army depot. The contracts were valued cumulatively at about $1.1 billion. The initial contract award was made in December 2002.

Army officials have a “myriad of issues to overcome to ensure that prices are fair and reasonable,” said the audit, which is signed by Bruce Burton, deputy inspector general for acquisition management.

Overall “we calculated that Sikorsky charged the Army $11.8 million, or 51.4 percent more than fair and reasonable prices,” between 2008 and 2010, the audit said. About $158,531 of that excess was paid for the plastic wiring box covers. more

Nigeria: How Politicians, Soldiers Engage in Oil Theft -- Wikileaks

Nigeria's political elite and soldiers have profited from large-scale oil theft in the Niger Delta that may cost the country up to a tenth of its production, according to a leaked United States (US) diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks at the end of last week.

Nigeria is the world's eighth biggest exporter of crude oil but thieves take a sizeable proportion of its output by drilling into pipelines or sometimes hijacking barges loaded with oil, a type of theft known locally as "bunkering".

"Oil theft, widely referred to as 'illegal bunkering' in Nigeria, represents significant economic activity with serious ramifications for Nigeria's economy, security, democracy and environment," said the November 2009 cable sent by then-US Consul-General Donna M. Blair, released by the anti-secrecy group.

"No other, major oil-producing country ... loses as much revenue from illicit oil bunkering as Nigeria, largely because the political elite, militants, and communities profit from such operations," Blair added.

An amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta in 2009 brought a degree of security and has helped cut attacks on pipelines, enabling Nigeria to restore production to around two million barrels of oil a day (bpd).

But oil bunkering is believed to be still widespread, and little is known of the shadowy networks that steal, store, ship and market the oil. more

Unleashing the Dogs of Currency War

The Swiss National Bank may have unleashed the dogs of war.

As the global economic recovery continues to falter and exporters around the world find life increasingly difficult, more central banks will come under pressure to manage their currencies more carefully. In other words, they must ensure their currencies remain competitive as the battle in export markets intensifies.

This is just what the SNB has done.

Its decision to cap the franc’s rise against the euro has certainly pleased Swiss industrialists, who for months have been grumbling that safe-haven flows into their currency was damaging the Swiss economy.

The trouble is, many other economies are in a similar boat.

As U.S. Treasury officials have been keen to point out, Switzerland is a special case given its safe-haven status which distorts the impact of monetary policy on its currency.

But Norway, which has already found its currency strengthening as an alternative safe haven to the franc, has warned that it will cut its interest rates if it needs to protect its economy.

Sweden, which is also likely to find its krona in the firing line, could well follow suit.

This is all taking place against a backdrop of easing monetary policy in most major economies, including the U.S., the euro zone, the U.K. and Japan. more

Half a trillion dollars of broken Afghan dreams

In the decade since U.S.-led troops streamed into Afghanistan, girls have gone back to school, elections have been held, clinics have been built and shops and media empires have sprung up. There is even a property boom in Kabul.

To the nations that poured money, lives and hope into rebuilding the country, after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States propelled it back onto the international agenda, progress like this is proof of time and money well spent.

"We just have to continue the process, and recognize again: you don't build Rome or Kabul in a day, or a decade," U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said in a recent interview, discussing improvements in education and healthcare.

But corruption is rampant, violence is spreading fast even in once-peaceful areas, and every month an average of over 200 civilians die in the conflict.

Safety fears stop people traveling to hospitals, or even to schools -- so much so that some conservative Afghans still hark back to the security and values that the Taliban offered. more

Listeria outbreak probe expands to three states

An investigation into a listeria outbreak that has killed at least one person has expanded to include three states where possibly tainted cantaloupe was consumed, Colorado health officials said on Friday.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a release that of the nine confirmed cases of the gastrointestinal infection in Colorado, two suspected cases in Texas and one in Nebraska, all of the patients recently ate cantaloupe.

Chris Urbina, chief medical officer for the department, said officials haven't yet traced where the tainted melons were sold.

"While the investigation into the source of the listeria outbreak is continuing, it is prudent for people who are at high risk for listeria infection to avoid consumption of cantaloupe," Urbina said in a written statement.

Those mostly likely to be sickened by the bacteria include people over the age of 60, pregnant women and people whose immune systems have been weakened by disease or organ transplants, Urbina said. more

Gerald Celente: The "Winter of Discontent"



Does Kenya need GM crops as it battles famine in the Horn of Africa?

In the midst of a dire need to feed millions of people facing hunger because of drought, Kenya's newly passed Biosafety Act allows for the importation of GM crops - but at what cost?

As the most severe drought crisis in 60 years continues in East Africa, a contentious issue simmers under the surface, one that potentially puts the environmentalist agenda at stark odds with the dire need to save human lives.

Facing a growing number of people in need of food aid, the Kenyan government gazetted existing legislation in August that allows for the importation of genetically modified (GM) crops as well as for the cultivation of GM food crops within Kenya.

Passage of the act makes Kenya the fourth African nation, after South Africa, Egypt and Burkino Faso, to legalise GM crops. While some view the decision as a direct response to the famine, the title of the legislation – the Kenya Biosafety Act of 2009 – indicates that Kenya had GM aspirations for quite some time. more

Bamboo: can it live up to the 'green gold' hype?

It could reduce the pressure on native forests but the rapid expansion in bamboo plantations is in danger of making it the latest in a long line of tarnished 'wonder crops'

From India and Indonesia to Colombia and Costa Rica, the number of bamboo plantations worldwide is rising as quickly as the fast-growing crop itself.

Some of the world’s most impoverished countries are realising the potential of this versatile tree-like tropical grass, which in so many respects seems worthy of its nickname: ‘green gold.’

Because it can reach full, harvestable maturity within five years, it is being touted as an alternative to dwindling timber supplies. Its success could mean hectares of hardwood forest being saved from the chainsaw.

Strong and cheap, bamboo construction projects are already repairing shattered communities in countries like earthquake-prone Haiti – but its cohesive properties work on an organic level too. Growing out of a tangle of carbon-sequestering underground stems, it can help reforest landscapes denuded by development or natural disasters, binding topsoil to prevent erosion. more

East Africa drought donations slow as crisis hits 1 million more people

The number of people facing starvation as famine and drought spreads through the Horn of Africa has increased by almost 10 per cent, the United Nations said on Friday.

At the same time, donations to appeals to bring food, water, medicine and shelter to those most at risk are slowing down.

There are now 13.3 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti who need urgent assistance, up from 12.4 million, according to new UN data.

Admissions to specialist centres in Somalia treating children with the worst malnutrition have jumped from 671 a week to almost 1,000 a week recently, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

"We had been working on projected figures, but actual assessments of the rains we were supposed to receive in July have shown the situation is worse than predicted," said Gabriella Waaijman, OCHA's deputy head of office for east Africa.

"This is going to affect the amount of funding that is need. more

Women 'dressed as nuns for stripteases' at Silvio Berlusconi's bunga bunga parties

Scandal hit Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing fresh revelations regarding his infamous "bunga bunga" parties after a guest told prosecutors women dressed as nuns before performing stripteases.

Berlusconi, 74, is said to have lavished gifts and money on dozens of women who were invited to his parties and who were recruited by half British dental hygienist turned politician Nicole Minetti, 25, and two other friends of the politician.

According to a statement from one of the guests, Fadil Imane, which was given to prosecutors last month and which has now been leaked, Miss Minetti and another guest Barbara Faggioli, 25, dressed as nuns before performing a striptease for Berlusconi.

Morrocccan born Miss Imane, 26, said she had been invited to the parties by TV news anchorman Emilio Fede, 80, and showbusiness agent Lele Mora, 55, who with Miss Minetti are accused of recruiting dozens of attractive young women, mainly showbiz stars and models for Berlusconi.

Miss Imane said: "I went to the party and I met Silvio Berlusconi and the other girls and also there was Barbara Faggioli and Nicole Minetti. In the party room where there was a pole for dancing they both put on dark nun tunics, including the headcover and a red cross.

"A DJ who was there played music and they both then performed a sexy striptease, eventually ending up dancing around the pole in their underwear." more

China to build world's biggest airport the size of Bermuda with 9 runways (What has the West built lately?)

When Beijing Daxing International airport opens in 2015, the Chinese capital will become the world's busiest aviation hub, handling around 370,000 passengers a day.

It is only three years since the opening of Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Airport, a sweeping structure designed by Sir Norman Foster that is far bigger than all of Heathrow's five terminals combined.

But an enormous boom in China's aviation industry has already left the capital's existing facilities stretched to breaking point. "It is impossible to add even one more flight to the tight daily schedule of the Capital airport," said Li Jiaxing, the minister in charge of China's Civil Aviation Administration.

"The existing airport in Beijing has an annual capacity of 75 million passengers. Last year it handled 73 million," said Cao Yunchun, a professor at the country's Civil Aviation University. "In two years, it will be totally packed. And it cannot be expanded infinitely," he added.

Instead, Beijing's planners have found a 21 sq mile site to the south of the city, in the suburb of Daxing. Currently the site is around an hour's drive from the city centre, but planners are pencilling in an extension to Beijing's metro, and perhaps even a high-speed train line. more

Nasa warns of fresh risk from £468m satellite falling from space

A six tonne Nasa satellite is set to fall uncontrolled out of orbit, potentially raining debris over swathes of the planet including Britain, the US space agency has admitted.

The $750 million (£468 million) Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) satellite, launched 20 years ago to study climate change, is set to breach the atmosphere within weeks.

In a new alert issued this week, officials warned pieces could land in densely populated areas on six continents including parts of Britain, Europe, North and South America and Asia.

Nasa claimed the risk to public safety from the “dead” satellite – which is orbiting just over 155 miles above the earth with an inclination of 57 degrees – was “extremely small”.

But senior space agency officials admitted they were “concerned” about the risk to billions of people when it starts falling uncontrolled out of orbit at any stage from later this month.

Nasa admitted more than half a tonne of metal from the satellite, which ran out of fuel in 2005, will survive as the majority of it will burn up after entering Earth's atmosphere. more

Millions set to strike in battle over pensions in November: UK

Millions of public sector workers, including teachers and Customs officials, could strike in November in the row over pensions, a union claimed yesterday.

Leaders of the Public and Commercial Services union have agreed to call a second strike, following a 24-hour walkout by civil servants and teachers in June.

Mark Serwotka, the head of the union, said he believed “millions” of public sector workers would take part in industrial action. He also suggested that the one-day stoppage would trigger other industrial action running up to Christmas.

No date has been fixed for the strike, but Mr Serwotka said it was likely to be in the middle or end of November. The Government’s pre-Budget report is being announced on Nov 29.

Officials suggested that as many as 10 unions might support the industrial action. The scale would dwarf the 24-hour stoppage in June when an estimated 200,000 went on strike.

Last night Mr Serwotka and the leaders of other public sector unions were meeting Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, to discuss pension reforms. more

Germany pushes Greece to the brink in dangerous brinkmanship

Germany and Holland have threatened to block rescue payments to Greece unless the country complies to the letter with bail-out terms, raising the spectre of default and a chain-reaction through southern Europe.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said there will be no more money until Greece "actually does" what it agreed to do. "I understand that there is resistance among the Greek population to austerity measures. But in the end it is up to Greece whether it can fulfil the conditions necessary for membership of the common currency. We offer no discounts," he told Deutschlandfunk. The wording has been taken as a threat to eject Greece from EMU, though is there no legal mechanism for such drastic action.

Dutch finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said the Netherlands "will not participate" in further payments to Greece unless it secures the go-ahead from the EU-IMF Troika, which left Athens abruptly last week after talks broke down.

The showdown in Greece came as the European Central Bank (ECB) abandoned its push for higher interest rates and slashed growth forecasts for the next two years, warning that the situtation is "extraordinarily demanding" and that "downside risks" have intensified.

"The hiking cycle has been aborted," said Carsten Brzeski from ING, adding that rates may even be cut from 1.5pc if the economy worsens and deflations rears its ugly head.

Jennifer McKeown, at Capital Economics, said the ECB will have to cut rates twice over the next six months as the global downturn deepens. The bank raised rates in July even though eurozone growth had already ground to halt, a move widely deemed to be a policy error. more

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

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Insurance Companies Unprepared for Climate Change, Report Says

Across much of Vermont, New York, and New Jersey this week, home and business owners have been coping with devastating flood damage unleashed by Hurricane Irene. The immense storm is already listed as one of the costliest natural disasters in American history, and total damage expenses will probably surpass $10 billion. Unfortunately, for most people affected by the storm, standard insurance doesn’t cover flooding, which means individuals will be footing repair bills on their own.

But insurance companies aren’t off the hook in the wake of Irene. In a year with a record number of billion-dollar weather disasters, Hurricane Irene has added to an already expensive year for insurers.

“Even before Irene, insured losses in the U.S. this year were 40 percent higher than in all of 2010,” says Sharlene Leurig, the author of a new report from Ceres examining how insurance companies are preparing for climate change. “Unfortunately, science is telling us that more years in the future are going to look like 2011.” more

77 U.S. troops wounded in attack on Afghan base

Nearly 80 American soldiers were wounded and two Afghan civilians were killed in a Taliban truck bombing targeting an American base in eastern Afghanistan, NATO said Sunday, a stark reminder that the war in Afghanistan still rages 10 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the United States.

The blast, which occurred late Saturday, shaved the facades from shops outside the Combat Outpost Sayed Abad in Wardak province and broke windows in government offices nearby, said Roshana Wardak, a former parliamentarian who runs a clinic in the nearby town of the same name. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Eight wounded civilians were brought to Wardak's clinic, two of them with wounds serious enough that they were sent to Kabul. She said one 3-year-old girl died of her wounds on the way to the clinic.

The attack was carried out by a Taliban suicide bomber who detonated a large bomb inside a truck carrying firewood, NATO said. It was unclear how many foreign and Afghan soldiers were serving on the base. more

Beyond Cairo Embassy, Israel Sensing a Wider Siege

With its Cairo embassy ransacked, its ambassador to Turkey expelled and the Palestinians seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations, Israel found itself on Saturday increasingly isolated and grappling with a radically transformed Middle East where it believes its options are limited and poor.

The diplomatic crisis, in which winds unleashed by the Arab Spring are now casting a chill over the region, was crystallized by the scene of Israeli military jets sweeping into Cairo at dawn on Saturday to evacuate diplomats after the Israeli Embassy had been besieged by thousands of protesters.

It was an image that reminded some Israelis of Iran in 1979, when Israel evacuated its embassy in Tehran after the revolution there replaced an ally with an implacable foe.

“Seven months after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian protesters tore to shreds the Israeli flag, a symbol of peace between Egypt and its eastern neighbor, after 31 years,” Aluf Benn, the editor in chief of the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote Saturday. “It seems that the flag will not return to the flagstaff anytime soon.”

Egypt and Israel both issued statements on Saturday reaffirming their commitments to their peace treaty, but in a televised address on Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel warned that Egypt “cannot ignore the heavy damage done to the fabric of peace.”

Facing crises in relations with Egypt and Turkey, its two most important regional allies, Israel turned to the United States. Throughout the night on Friday, desperate Israeli officials called their American counterparts seeking help to pressure the Egyptians to protect the embassy. more

How the CDC Would Deal With a Real-Life 'Contagion': Deadly vaccines? Expensive pharmaceuticals? Concentration camps perhaps?

Hollywood loves to bring us worst-case scenarios: catastrophic twisters, Earth-destroying asteroids or, in the case of the upcoming film "Contagion," a rapidly evolving virus that threatens to wipe out global society as we know it.

But while it's a fun fantasy for moviegoers to ask, "What would I do if that happened?" it's actually the job description of Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Ali S. Khan.

Khan oversees the brain trust of offices and laboratories set up to respond to the real pandemic threats that inspire movies like "Contagion." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Strategic National Stockpile, the Division of Emergency Operations Center, the Division of Select Agents and Toxins and other offices are constantly monitoring and preparing for a pathogen that could turn into a deadly pandemic.

"This is much more than about the health of America. This is about national security, our health security," said Khan, who is the director of CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

Khan said the CDC's first line of attack is to know its enemy: the genetics of a virus, how it attacks and who it kills.

"If you don't know what it is, you can't make a lab test for it, you can't make a treatment for it," Khan said. "Everything hinges on knowing what it is." more

No Room for Heroes at Ground Zero: 91,000 first responder veterans of 9/11 not invited to ceremony because "there's no room for them"

9/11 Mass casualty drills (with explosions) to take place in Dallas Texas -- Why?

Fort Worth's Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base will mark the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 with a memorial ceremony and disaster exercise.

The ceremony takes place Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m., with the disaster exercise, complete with explosions and low-flying helicopters, to take place mid-morning Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10 and 11.

Officials at the base said the training exercise is designed to solidify a joint response to a major medical emergency involving mass casualties.

Six hundred participants, including reservists, will take part in the disaster exercise including multiple resources from the NASJRB, the Texas Civil Air Patrol, Tarrant County Health Department and the fire departments from Lockheed-Martin, Aledo and Fort Worth.

The exercise will be held at the old assets storage facility in White Settlement, not at NASJRB. Those living near the facility need to be aware that explosions and low-flying aircraft will be part of the exercise, but that they shouldn't be too obtrusive. more

Suspected settler attack on Israel army cars

Unidentified "vandals" have attacked Israeli military vehicles, slashing tyres and spraying graffiti in an apparent response to the demolition of West Bank settlement homes, the army said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the military said the attack occurred overnight at a base north of Ramallah in the West Bank.

"Overnight, initial reports indicate that unidentified vandals broke into a military base north of Ramallah and vandalised thirteen vehicles," the statement said.

The attackers punctured tyres, shattered windows and sprayed "graffiti against IDF (Israel Defence Forces) commanders and against dismantling of structures in the Jewish community of Migron earlier this week," it added.

"Police (are) currently investigating the incident viewed by the IDF as severe." more

China seeks to dispel fears over military build-up (...which could be a challenge)

China said Wednesday it would avoid "invasion, expansion or war" -- but not at the expense of its claims on Taiwan -- as it seeks to dispel fears over its military build-up and territorial assertiveness.

Washington and China's neighbours have expressed rising concerns about Beijing's claims in the South China Sea, military spending and new high-tech equipment that includes an aircraft carrier that trialled last month.

Introducing a white paper on China's "peaceful" development plans, Wang Yajun, head of the Central Foreign Affairs Office -- which advises the top leadership -- reiterated the "defensive" nature of China's defence policy.

He said the paper was designed to reassure critics that "China will not follow the beaten path through invasion, expansion or war".

"China will not attack another country unless we are attacked," he said. (Which of course excludes cyber attacks, financial attacks, trade warfare, proxy warfare, arm sales, etc.) more

'No good choices' on N. Korea: ex-US coordinator

The United States has "no good choices" on North Korea but must keep up economic and diplomatic pressure on the secretive regime, former special coordinator Wendy Sherman told lawmakers Wednesday.

"Solving this problem is very, very tough," Sherman told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee as it weighed her nomination to be the number three at the US State Department. "There are no good choices."

Sherman had been asked what she learned as the special coordinator for North Korea policy from 1997 to 2001 when the United States looked to normalize relations.

"We learned what every administration since has learned: Working with North Korea is very frustrating, exceedingly difficult, they are elusive, they do not keep their commitments, they are often hostile," she said. more

Iran tells UN it will hit back at any attack

Iran Thursday warned it would "not hesitate" to hit back following a foreign strike on its soil in a formal complaint to the United Nations over a warning from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy said last week that Iran's "military, nuclear and ballistic ambitions constitute a growing threat that may lead to a preventive attack against Iranian sites that would provoke a major crisis that France wants to avoid at all costs."

Iran's UN ambassador said in a letter to UN leaders that his country would "not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack against the Iranian nation."

Iran would "take appropriate defensive measures to protect itself," ambassador Mohammad Khazaee told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council, of which France is one of the five permanent members. more

Turkish warships will protect Gaza aid convoys: PM Erdogan -- And the war drums beat...

Turkish warships will escort the country's aid vessels bound for the Gaza Strip, protecting them from Israeli ships, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late Thursday.

"Turkish warships will be tasked with protecting the Turkish boats bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip," Erdogan told Al Jazeera television, according to an Arab-language translation of his comments in Turkish.

"From now on, we will no longer allow these boats to be the targets of attacks by Israel, like the one on the Freedom flotilla, because then Israel will have to deal with an appropriate response," he warned.

Erdogan was referring to the clash on May 31 last year when Israeli commandos boarded a six-boat flotilla in international waters in a bid to stop it from breaching Israel's blockade on Gaza. more

Africa fears al-Qaida push after Libya war

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has stepped up attacks in Algeria amid growing fears that a surge of jihadists and plundered weapons from Libya threatens North African countries.

AQIM, composed mainly of hardened Algerian fighters who have fought the government since 1992, has increased the range and tempo of its attacks in Algeria's north in recent weeks.

Eighteen people, 16 of them army officers, were killed in a suicide bombing Aug. 26 on a military academy at Cherchell, 110 miles west of Algiers.

It was the third such attack since mid-July. The last suicide attack in Algeria was July 25, 2010. Other clashes have been reported in Mali and Mauritania. more

(Interestingly, and something that can be agreed with, the photo's caption goes as follows: "What they really mean is that they fear the rest of Africa might rise up and kick their own despotic failed governments out." Hear, hear.)

Iran using Syria, Libya chaos to boost nuclear bid: envoy

Iran is taking advantage of chaos in Syria and Libya to boost efforts to build a nuclear weapon, a western envoy told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

With international attention focused on the Middle East uprisings "Iran may believe it can profit from the situation," France's UN representative told a Security Council meeting on UN sanctions against Iran.

"It is accelerating its efforts. It has increased the number of centrifuges and provocative statements. But we are not fooled by this," deputy ambassador Martin Briens told the council, highlighting western demands for the tougher application of sanctions.

"Iran's military, nuclear and ballistic ambitions pose a growing threat," said Briens. "The alarming signals are accumulating." more

POLITICAL ECONOMY Japan revises April-June GDP sharply down

Japan's economy shrank by more than previously thought in the April-June quarter, with companies cutting back more severely on capital spending after the March earthquake and tsunami than first expected.

Japan's revised gross domestic product shrank at an annualised pace of 2.1 percent in the quarter, the Cabinet Office said, revising August's reading of a 1.3 percent contraction as firms deferred spending plans after the disasters.

The lower revision comes as recent data have underlined worries about Japan's recovery, as a slowing global economy and the impact of a strong yen on the profitability of exporters cloud hopes for a second-half rebound.

"The risk that the pace of recovery could slow down from the autumn cannot be ruled out," said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute.

"Overseas economies have been weaker than previously expected and it will be harder for exports to help drive the Japanese economy, affecting the pace of growth." more

UN chief calls for urgent action on climate change

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that urgent action was needed on climate change, pointing to the famine in the Horn of Africa and devastating floods in northern Australia as examples of the suffering caused by global warming.

Ban lashed out at climate change skeptics during a speech at the University of Sydney, arguing that science has proven climate change is real.

Ban is in Australia for a series of meetings following his attendance at an annual forum of South Pacific island leaders in New Zealand earlier this week. He also made stops in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, low-lying South Pacific island nations threatened by rising sea levels.

"Watching this high tide standing on the shore of Kiribati, I said, 'High tide shows it's high time to act,'" Ban said. "We are running out of time."

Ban has repeatedly highlighted the issue of climate change during his South Pacific tour, which comes ahead of a major climate summit in Durban, South Africa, in November. Delegates from 193 nations will try to hammer out a global agreement to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say are behind climate change. more

U.S. experiences second warmest summer on record

The blistering heat experienced by the nation during August, as well as the June through August months, marks the second warmest summer on record according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C. The persistent heat, combined with below-average precipitation across the southern U.S. during August and the three summer months, continued a record-breaking drought across the region.

The average U.S. temperature in August was 75.7 degrees F, which is 3.0 degrees above the long-term (1901-2000) average, while the summertime temperature was 74.5 degrees F, which is 2.4 degrees above average. The warmest August on record for the contiguous United States was 75.8 degrees F in 1983, while its warmest summer on record at 74.6 degrees F occurred in 1936. Precipitation across the nation during August averaged 2.31 inches, 0.29 inches below the long-term average. The nationwide summer precipitation was 1.0 inch below average.

This monthly analysis, based on records dating back to 1895, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides. more

Last two winters' warm extremes more severe than their cold snaps

During the last two winters, some regions of the northern hemisphere experienced extreme cold not seen in recent decades. But at the same time, the winters of 2009–10 and 2010–11 were also marked by more prominent, although less newsworthy, extreme warm spells.

New research examines daily wintertime temperature extremes since 1948 The study finds that the warm extremes were much more severe and widespread than the cold extremes during the northern hemisphere winters of 2009–10 (which featured an extreme snowfall episode on the East Coast dubbed "snowmaggedon") and 2010–11. Moreover, while the extreme cold was mostly attributable to a natural climate cycle, the extreme warmth was not, the study concludes.

"We investigated the relationships between prominent natural climate modes and extreme temperatures, both warm and cold. Natural climate variability explained the cold extremes; the observed warmth was consistent with a long-term warming trend," says Kristen Guirguis, a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and lead author of the study, which is set to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. more

Woodland birds join extinction danger list

Two of Britain's most charming woodland birds, widespread until relatively recently, appear to be on the road to extinction.

Populations of the lesser-spotted woodpecker and the willow tit have fallen so far and so fast that their populations are now to be monitored by a special panel of experts charting the UK's rarest breeding birds.

The former, a miniature woodpecker the size of a Mars Bar and brilliantly coloured in black, white and scarlet, dropped in numbers by 77 per cent between 1994 and 2009, while the latter, a subtly coloured songbird in black, white, brown and grey, fell by 76 per cent over the same period.

As it is thought there are now fewer than 1,500 pairs of each in Britain, their populations in future will be monitored by the Rare Birds Breeding Panel, which keeps a check on Britain's least common species.

Both were widespread 40 years ago, but in every year since 1970, the British population of the willow tit has declined by more than 6 per cent, and that of the lesser-spotted woodpecker has declined by 3 per cent. more

Deep-sea fish in deep trouble

A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, the Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer to consumers.

In a comprehensive analysis published online this week in the journal Marine Policy, marine ecologists, fisheries biologists, economists, mathematicians and international policy experts show that, with rare exceptions, deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable. The "Sustainability of deep-sea fisheries" study, funded mainly by the Lenfest Ocean Program, comes just before the UN decides whether to continue allowing deep-sea fishing in international waters, which the UN calls "high seas."

Life is mostly sparse in the oceans' cold depths, far from the sunlight that fuels photosynthesis. Food is scarce and life processes happen at a slower pace than near the sea surface. Some deep-sea fishes live more than a century; some deep-sea corals can live more than 4,000 years. When bottom trawlers rip life from the depths, animals adapted to life in deep-sea time can't repopulate on human time scales. Powerful fishing technologies are overwhelming them.

"The deep sea is the world's worst place to catch fish" says marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse, the study's lead author and President of the Marine Conservation Institute in Bellevue, Washington USA. "Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can't repopulate quickly after being overfished." more

China exports its environmental problems as consumer culture booms

China is attempting to pursue the same impossible path as the rest of the world: generating consumer demand and wealth without destroying its natural resources and the planet.

Despite its well publicised investment in green technology, China today has an unenviable list of ecological problems; its reliance on coal has left it with 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world; the north of the country is prone to frequent water shortages which have created hundreds of thousands of ‘environmental refugees’; and the dumping of chemicals into the Yangtze and other rivers means half the Chinese population drink water contaminated with human and animal excrement.

In a new book, ‘As China Goes, So Goes the World', Oxford professor Karl Gerth, claims that many of these problems have been directly caused by China’s move towards a more consumerist society. In just twenty years, writes Gerth, China has gone from being almost exclusively an exporter of consumer goods, to being ‘the world’s largest consumers of everything from mobile phones to beer.’ more

In Greenland, lives are altered with the weather

The old hunter was troubled by the foreigners encroaching on his Inuit people's frozen lands.

"The Inuit say that they are going to heat the 'siku' (the sea ice) to make it melt. There will be almost no more winter," the elder says of the southerners in Jean Malaurie's "Last Kings of Thule," the French explorer's classic account of a year in the Arctic.

The year was 1951. A lifetime later, another Inuit hunter looks out at Disko Bay from this island's rocky fringe and remembers driving his dogsled team over the solid glitter of the siku all the way to Ilulissat, a town 50 miles across the water.

"The ice then was 1 to 2 meters thick," Jakob Jensen, 65, recalled of those winters past.

"Now it's a few centimeters. It's very thin and you can't go on dogsled." more

Wall of saltwater snaking up South Florida’s coast

South Florida’s lakes, marshes and rivers pump fresh, crystal clear water across the state like veins carry blood through the body.

But cities along South Florida’s coast are running out of water as drinking wells are taken over by the sea.

Hallandale Beach has abandoned six of its eight drinking water wells because saltwater has advanced underground across two-thirds of the city.

“The saltwater line is moving west and there’s very little that can be done about it,” said Keith London, a city commissioner for Hallandale Beach, who has worked on water conservation and reuse for the last decade.

A wall of saltwater is inching inland into the Biscayne Aquifer — the primary source of drinking water for 4.5 million people in South Florida. more

Common plasticizer alters an important memory system in male rat brains

An ingredient widely-used to soften plastic containers and toys changed brain development in growing male rats when exposure occurs during a sensitive phase. The same exposure did not affect female rats, report researchers in the journal Neuroscience.

The animal study shows that the phthalate DEHP can disrupt the normal development of the hippocampus in young male rats by reducing the number of cells and nerve connections that form. The hippocampus is important to learning as it is involved in the formation of long-term memories. The rat hippocampus matures in the first few weeks after birth while in people, the hippocampus largely develops before birth during the third trimester.

This is the first research to connect phthalate exposure at a critical time of development with these cell and nerve effects in the hippocampus. Although not measured in the study, the brain effects may result in impaired cognitive functioning and could result in significant behavioral changes throughout life. In people, disruptions in development of the hippocampus may result in poorer memory, which can impact learning ability and even IQ.

DEHP is a phthalate added to hard plastics – mainly polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – to make them flexible. It is used to produce and manufacture soft plastics for a number of uses, including children’s toys, food storage containers and medical tubing and bags. Prior research shows that infants and children are more exposed than adults to these contaminants. Youngsters are more exposed because of their increased contact with DEHP-containing products and house dust and perhaps, because of their higher metabolic rate. more

U.S.: Missile shield fears 'unfounded'

Russia's fears that a NATO anti-missile defense shield would target its intercontinental missile forces are "unfounded," a senior U.S. diplomat said this week.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose repeated Washington's position Monday at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, that the alliance's four-phased anti-missile defense system for Europe isn't aimed at Russia, but at proliferating missile threats emanating from Iran and the Middle East.

"Political misunderstandings about the capabilities of the proposed NATO system -- specifically that the system would target Russian ICBMs, thereby undermining Russia's strategic deterrent -- are unfounded," Rose said at the 2011 Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense Conference.

Rose, leader of the State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, said the United States and NATO are committed to calming Moscow's suspicions about its missile shield plans. more

Pakistan flooding kills 200, damages almost 1 million homes, - 11th Sept 2011

U.N. aid agencies are assisting in relief efforts in southeastern Pakistan after flooding caused by heavy rains killed almost 200 people and destroyed or damaged more than 1 million homes, the United Nations said.

Abou t 200,000 people have been displaced by the flooding and need immediate assistance, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement released Saturday.

Joint U.N.-Pakistani teams are on the ground in the region to assess the damage, said Timo Pakkala, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan.

The teams are "seeing first hand today the devastation and vast amount of flood water in Sindh," Pakkala said.

Torrential rains during the annual monsoon season have inundated an estimated 4.2 million acres of land, the U.N. said. Source