Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Arab crisis: Now it's Bahrain's turn as protesters pour on to the streets demanding political reform and greater freedoms

Thousands of protesters poured into a main square in Bahrain's capital today in an Egypt-style rebellion that sharply escalated pressure on authorities as the Arab push for change gripped the Gulf for the first time.

Security forces clashed with demonstrators who have been calling for political reforms and greater freedoms over two days, leading to the deaths of two protesters and the main opposition group vowing to freeze its work in parliament in protest.

In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national TV address, offering condolences for the deaths, pledging an investigation into the killings and promising to push ahead with reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and internet. Read more

'They're starving to death': Wild ponies of Bodmin Moor are 'dying of neglect' as FIVE rotting carcasses are found in three weeks

- Many surviving ponies so badly emaciated they have 'no hope of surviving'
- Government says identifying 'irresponsible owners' is impossible.

They have roamed the moor of the West Country for thousands of years - loved by locals and visitors alike.

But as these shocking pictures reveal, the ponies of Bodmin are today suffering appalling neglect.

In the last few weeks, the rugged Cornish landscape has been littered with the grisly bodies of decomposed animals and pitiful ponies so badly emaciated they have no hope of surviving.

Stunned animal welfare charities are so concerned they have taken to patrolling the vast expanse to keep track of the ponies.

The South West Equine Protection (SWEP) group was called to investigate after receiving a tip-off the animals - which are classed as 'semi-feral' - were being neglected by their owners.

The Government says it is aware of the problem, but admits that identifying the 'irresponsible owners' is virtually impossible. Read more

Plane crash alert may have been meteorite strike

A METEORITE strike may have led to emergency services receiving reports of a plane crash in the early hours today.

Fire crews from Selby, Tadcaster and West Yorkshire were called to the Whitley Bridge area at about 12.20am as they investigated reports an aircraft may have come down in the area.

However, the six teams did not find any aircraft which had crashed, and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said a meteorite strike was possibly the reason for the alert. Source

Houses being sold off for a Price of a car.

hard to imagine a home selling for the price of a car, but nonetheless, some home prices in some sections of the country are now comparable to prices of luxury cars. And, no, we're not talking about Bentley's and Rolls-Royce's, we're talking about Acura's and Hyundai's and cars that are purchased and accessible by many Americans.

Some of the homes are distressed sales - no surprise there - but some are simply low-priced homes that need a new owner. All of them appear to have good bones, but need lots of TLC. Take a look at five homes with four bedrooms or more, that are selling for the price of four wheels in places throughout the U.S.: 1. South Bend, IN Home For Sale — $49,000 | Price per sq ft: $27
Original list price – $89,900 (2009)
717 Forest Ave, South Bend, IN 46616

Listing description: Upstairs had been used as an apartment with a kitchen, full bath, 3 bedrooms, living room and has a separate entry. The main level has a living room, dining room, 2 bedrooms, kitchen, full bath and a laundry room. The basement is entered by a Bilco door and contains the mechanicals.

Comparably priced car: 2010 Acura RL (MSRP $46,830 – $54,250) Read More


Yemen protests gain momentum on 5th day, Anti-monarchy marches draw thousands in Bahrain

Yemenis scuffled with police Tuesday as thousands marched in the capital for a fifth consecutive day in Egypt-inspired protests demanding political reforms and the ouster of the country's U.S.-allied president.

Police used tear gas and batons in an unsuccessful attempt to disperse the demonstrators. Some 3,000 protesters continued their march from Sanaa University toward Sanaa's centre, chanting slogans against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The procession gained momentum with hundreds of students and rights activists joining along the way. Read more

Inflation continues to ravage world: UK consumer price inflation hits 4%, double estimate

UK price inflation hit 4% in January, in line with economists' expectations but double the Bank of England's target of 2%.

The latest reading triggered yet another round of letters between Mervyn King, the Bank's governor and George Osborne, the chancellor, with Mr King forced to explain why prices are rising so quickly and what the Bank intends to do about it.

The rise in consumer price inflation was in line with the average forecast of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, but there was a much wider range of projections. The key uncertainty had been the extent to which retailers would rush to pass on to consumers January's rise in value added tax to 20%.

"With fuel and food prices continuing to head higher we still suspect headline CPI will push above 4.5% in the next few months," said James Knightley, economist at ING Bank. "This will intensify pressure for an interest rate rise so all eyes will turn to the Bank of England inflation report document, to be published tomorrow." Read more

Perilous Progress: Chinese consumers squeezed by rising prices

Inflation in China has been on a tear lately, and Chinese consumers are feeling the pinch of rising food, energy and housing prices.

"Fuel prices are rising, toll prices are higher, food prices are rising; but even if it's expensive, we still have to eat!" wrote Little Fu 01 on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

Another user called Silent Insects writes: "I am so frustrated...prices rising prices rising prices rising."


China's consumer price index rose 4.9% in January, up slightly from 4.6% growth in December, according to data released by the Chinese government Tuesday morning.

China's rate far outpaces inflation in developed nations. Consumer prices rose a mere 0.5% in the United States in December.

Chinese food prices alone rose a staggering 10.3%, up from a 9.6% pace in December.

Read more

BREAKING NEWS: 6.1 Magnitude Indonesia - 15 Feb 2011

A strong 6.1 Earthquake has been registered at 13:33:53 UTC in Sulawesi, Indonesia at a depth of 20.6 km (12.8 Miles)

There are currently no reports of damage or injuries.

More to follow..

A strong earthquake with the magnitude of 6.1 jolted eastern parts of Indonesia on Tuesday, but there was no immediate report of damage or fatality, officials said.

The quake hit at 20:33 p.m. Jakarta time (1333 GMT) with the epicenter at 143 km Poso town of Central Sulawesi province and with the depth at 21 km under earth, an official of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency told Xinhua by phone.

The intensity of the quake was felt at 4 to 5 MMI (Modified Mercalli Intensity) in Poso town, the official said.

The USGS also reported on its website that the quake was measured at 6.1 magnitude.

A local Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency official told Xinhua by phone from the province that there was no building damaged or people injured. Source

Iranian police fire tear gas into protesters as unrest spreads across Middle East

Eye witnesses spoke of shots being fired and scores of arrests as demonstrators in Tehran shouting "Death to the Dictator" approached Imam Hossein Square. One protester was shot dead and several were wounded by gunshots, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Across the region, opposition groups seized on the success of 18 days of protest in the Egyptian capital Cairo and across the country to make demands for more political rights.

In Sana'a, Yemen, several thousand people calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down before the end of his current term in 2013 hurled stones at police who were attacking them with batons. Bahrain police fired buckshot at demonstrators, and there were also protests in Iraq.

Read more

Obama cutting heat subsidies for poor in budget

President Obama's 2012 budget will propose cutting $2.5 billion from a program that helps low-income people cope with high energy costs in the cold of winter and heat of summer, according to a source familiar with the budget process.

The reduction is steep, and might impact millions of families. In 2010, the program received $5.1 billion in federal funds, which were then distributed to states that have both low average incomes and high energy costs. Read more

US Inflation to get worse: Fed plans to buy back $97 bln in Treasurys

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Thursday it plans to purchase about $97 billion in Treasury debt in the next month, continuing its policy of buying bonds to keep interest rates low and aid the economy's recovery.

The purchases also include $17 billion of re-investments of cash from the Fed's maturing mortgage-related holdings into Treasury securities. The Fed delineated 18 open market operations through March 9. The Fed has purchased about $397 billion in U.S. debt since August, when the mortgage reinvestment plan began, according to Morgan Stanley. Source

IMF calls for dollar alternative


The International Monetary Fund issued a report Thursday on a possible replacement for the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

The IMF said Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, could help stabilize the global financial system.

SDRs represent potential claims on the currencies of IMF members. They were created by the IMF in 1969 and can be converted into whatever currency a borrower requires at exchange rates based on a weighted basket of international currencies. The IMF typically lends countries funds denominated in SDRs

While they are not a tangible currency, some economists argue that SDRs could be used as a less volatile alternative to the U.S. dollar. Read more

US trade deficit widened by 33% in 2010

The US trade deficit ballooned in 2010 by the largest amount seen in a decade, Commerce Department figures have shown.

The trade deficit - the difference between imports and exports - hit $497.8bn (£311bn) last year, up 32.8% on the year before, the biggest annual percentage gain since 2000.

Imports from China hit record levels, totalling $364.9bn for the year.

For the month of December, the deficit widened by 5.9% to $40.6bn, after a rise in the price for imported oil.

This rise was also a factor in the widening annual deficit, with the average price of imported oil increasing from $56.93 a barrel in 2009 to $74.66 in 2010. Read more

Supermarket chicken harbours superbugs: CBC

Chicken bought at major supermarkets across Canada is frequently contaminated with superbugs — bacteria that many antibiotics cannot kill — an investigation by CBC TV's Marketplace has found.

Marketplace researchers — along with their colleagues at Radio-Canada's food show L'Epicerie — bought 100 samples of chicken from major grocery chains in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

The chicken included some of the most familiar label names in the poultry business. Read more

Meteor sighting this afternoon over Phillipsburg, Philadelphia confirmed - 14 Feb 2011

The fiery trail of a piece of space debris streaking through the atmosphere surprised several witnesses as it crossed the sky in New Jersey and Pennsylvania this afternoon, including at least one sighting over Phillipsburg.

The American Meteor Society confirmed the reports after logging more than 30 sightings this afternoon from several locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
"This was indeed a meteor," said Robert Lunsford, the society's operations manager.
"This object was most likely the size of a small car before striking the upper atmosphere," he said. "With it terminating over the Atlantic Ocean, there is no hope for recovering any possible debris."
The meteor was reported in Philadelphia by Fox 29 between 12:30 and 12:45 this afternoon.

Express-Times contributing photographer Tim Wynkoop reported seeing the meteor shortly before 1 o'clock as he was driving on South Main Street in Phillipsburg, traveling west to east across the southern sky, though it was gone before he could snap a picture.
"In the sky straight ahead, I saw this huge ball of fire coming down out of the sky, probably at a very sharp angle," Wynkoop said. "It left a very long trail of fire. I didn't see any smoke. As soon as you saw it, it was gone."
Emergency management officials in several counties and the New Jersey State Police said they were not aware of any sightings. Lehigh Valley International Airport Deputy Executive Director Larry Krauter said the meteor was not detected by airport staff or pilots.

Lunsford said the meteor's passage is likely "a random event not associated with any known meteor shower."

He also said daytime sightings are rare, but the American Meteor Society still receives several reports a year when the fireball is bright enough and the sky is clear. Source