Friday, March 4, 2011

US fuel prices soaring: Airlines raise fares for sixth time this year

Airfares at major U.S. airlines are climbing again, continuing a dizzying pace of nearly weekly increases on both penny-pinching vacationers and expense-account corporate fliers.

The airlines are raising fares to cover higher jet fuel prices, and the strategy seems to be working. US Airways said Thursday that if the trend toward higher revenue continues, it will be able to cover foreseeable increases in fuel costs.

Jet fuel prices are over $3 a gallon, the second-highest reading in March behind only 2008, when oil prices surged to record levels and U.S. airlines lost billions of dollars.

Delta Air Lines touched off the latest fare hike by adding up to $20 to the price of domestic round-trip flights for tickets bought on short notice. American Airlines choose a more modest increase of $10 per round trip but applied it to virtually all tickets for travel within the 48 contiguous states.

By midday Thursday, Delta, United, Continental and US Airways had all settled on matching American's $10 increase. (read more)

World's sixth mass extinction may be underway: study

Mankind may have unleashed the sixth known mass extinction in Earth's history, according to a paper released by the science journal Nature.

Over the past 540 million years, five mega-wipeouts of species have occurred through naturally-induced events.

But the new threat is man-made, inflicted by habitation loss, over-hunting, over-fishing, the spread of germs and viruses and introduced species, and by climate change caused by fossil-fuel greenhouse gases, says the study.

Evidence from fossils suggests that in the "Big Five" extinctions, at least 75 percent of all animal species were destroyed. (read more)

Gas prices record biggest one week increase since Hurricane Katrina in 2005

Gas prices have recorded their biggest one week increase since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“It’s totally ridiculous, man,” said Anthony Pollard. He is feeling the pinch at the pump, like many other motorists. “I’m putting $50 in here today. And that’ll probably get me half a tank.”

Pollard owns a Chevy pickup. His other vehicle is a gas-guzzling Lincoln and he refuses to drive that until prices come back down, which may not be anytime soon.

AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Rick Remington says prices jumped 21-22 cents nationally and 18 cents in the Delaware Valley over the past week.

Remington says there’s a lot of volatility out there, so drivers would be wise to shop around.

“We’re seeing prices vary from $3.14 in South Jersey to $3.50 in Philadelphia. So within about a 15-20 minute drive, quite a spread.”

Industry experts predict we could see prices head up to the 3.75 zone by April.

And if you’re booking a flight anytime soon, be prepared for a little sticker shock. (read more)

Air Force's 2nd Secret X-37B Space Plane Likely Testing Spy Satellite Tech?

The U.S. Air Force is poised to launch its second robotic X-37B space plane on a secret mission today (March 4), with some experts speculating that the classified flight will test new spy satellite technologies.

The robotic X-37B mini-shuttle is slated to blast off today atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on the second flight for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office's X-37B program. The launch window opens at 3:39 p.m. EST (2039 GMT), though a dismal forecast predicts a 70 percent chance of foul weather. (read more)

FEATURE EDITORIAL: The Libyan Conspiracy -- Is an uprising actually occuring, or is the media just making us believe one is?

We all have witnessed the unrest in the Middle East since Jan 2011; first we saw the leadership fall in Tunisia, which was quickly followed by Egypt. Throughout the first two countries' rebellions, there was a constant stream of news reports with video footage to inform the world what was going on.

Then Libya followed, the oil rich nation controlled by a tyrant who has lead the country for over 40 years with a iron fist. It seemed natural that rebellion would grip this country as it did the others, since freedom, after all, is what people want and deserve. However, this uprising seemed very different to what took place in Tunisia and Egypt.

First of all, we noticed the lack of protestor footage, even after constant requests for journalist to film the scenes in Libya by Gaddafi and his son, which is rather bizarre, especially after witnessing the seething throngs that brought mighty Egypt to its knees.

Then we saw the UN get involved, with the UK and USA leading in suggestive speech that they would not hesitate to send forces into libya -- on "humanitarian grounds", of course. We agree that people should have freedom and should not be slaughtered by their own leaders, but there is a startling lack of proof that an uprising is even occurring, and indeed, a growing body of evidence that this is a conspiracy to get foreign forces into Libya.

Practically speaking, is it time for other countries to get involved, possibly leading to another middle eastern war? This doesn't seem to have been factored at all into anyone's decision making regarding Libyan intervention.

Surely, now is the time for the UN, UK and USA to send in officials to check, first hand, if these reports are accurate. When we hear of the many protestor casualties, is there any proof that these where not rebels as Gaddafi has suggested?

We were even fed a glimpse of some fighting and air attack on the 3rd of March 2011, apparently around the desert marina by the oil wells. Without trying to seem facetious, do protestors wielding giant machine guns normally go for a country's oil fields or other heavily guarded economic assets? Is this the stuff of protest, or the stuff of armed groups attempting to seize control of a country through a coup (or externally sponsored attack)?

Our views are that people are capable of governing themselves without the need to be terrorized by iron-fisted leadership. Simply put, Gaddafi should give up his power and free his people, and this is the reason the media is feeing us for the purported Libyan uprising. Then why is all the evidence pointing to this *not* being the case?

We propose the following questions:

1) Could the fact that Libya has Africa's largest oil reserves have anything to do with the sudden interest in the Libyan uprising?

2) Is it a little convenient that Tunisia and Egypt collapsed first, two countries that border Libya, and could this have any strategic impact on events in Libya?

3) Why isn't the media following up on Gaddafi's offer to film the country to prove that unrest is in fact, not occurring -- isn't it the media's responsibility to investigate? Surely it can't be due to safety reasons, as reporters from major new networks have no problem following father and son around.

4) Why are Sky News reporters harassing Gaddafi's son about purported bombings of civilians despite growing evidence to the contrary? And why are Sky News reporters trying to frame everything that comes out of his mouth as being an "attack on the people" despite the fact that bombings, according to witness accounts, have been taking place in open desert or strategic areas that any country would rationally seek to defend in time of war?

5) Why are protesters engaging in attacks that would be challenging for even armed and trained groups to successfully execute, such as seizing oil fields and other military assets?

6) Why is there so little footage of Libyan protest, aside from the same few clips of groups of four or five individuals waving around AK47s, shot at close range, without any sign of a crowd?

7) Where is the footage of the "massive battles" supposedly taking place throughout Libya's cities?

8) Why is Tripoli silent, when Cairo and Tunis were aflame with protest?

9) Why does this whole situation seem so similar to the treatment of Iraq prior to the US invasion, especially since Iraq possesses the mideast's largest remaining untapped oil reserves, and at that time a leader the world loved to hate?

10) Why is there a pattern forming between imploding nations, or nations of US interest, and countries around those targets suddenly facing collapse? (Tunisia, Egypt in the case of Libya, and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the case of Iran -- which, by the way, also possesses massive oil reserves.)

11) Why has no one attempted to address Gaddafi's son's comment when asked about the Libya reaction to this situation: "If 40 armed men with machine guns showed up in London, what would you do?"

12) Why are all the little countries surrounding Saudi Arabia also sliding the way of Tunisia and Egypt, and is Saudi Arabia another target in the queue?

13) Where is the footage of the "hundreds of thousands of refugees" pouring over the borders into Tunisia and Egypt, especially when foreign reporters made it a point to let it be known that they now have safe and easy access into Libya at those areas?

14) In Zimbabwe and Rwanda and Ivory Coast (all where there's no oil), the population was (and is) routinely slaughtered simply for voicing an opinion, yet there was no intervention there, so why Libya?

15) Prior to this mideast uprising, numerous warships from various western nations were dispatched to "deal with" Somalia, Yemen, and the "rampant piracy" that occurs along their coasts -- could this have had some future-set strategic purpose that potentially involved Libya and events in the Middle East?

Hopefully time will answer these questions for us all, and help clarify what is appearing like a seemingly conspiratorial scenario.

-- Matt & Lynsey

Yemen Protesters Claim Attack By Army Forces - 4th Mar 2011

Rebels in North Yemen have claimed military forces fired rockets at their anti-government protest, killing at least two people and wounding thirteen.

The attack is reported to have happened as thousands of protesters gathered in Harf Sufyan.

A spokesman for the rebel Shi'ites said: "A military site fired rockets at a group of protesters and hit dozens of people."

Yemen's government agreed a truce with the rebels in February 2009 after a five-year war.

The rebels, known as Houthis after their leader Abdel Malek al Houthi, announced their support for anti-government protests in early February.

Political unrest continues across the Middle East with more demonstrations expected on Friday in Libya, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen. Read More

Red faces at Nasa as it finally launches $424million Glory satellite... and it crashes into the ocean after failing to reach orbit - 4th Mar 2011

A rocket carrying the Glory Earth-observing satellite launched today but failed to place the satellite into orbit, sending both plummeting into the Pacific.

Nasa said a protective covering on the Taurus XL rocket did not separate as planned three minutes after launch at 2.09am local time (10.09 GMT).

With the covering intact, the rocket was too heavy to get the satellite into orbit.

Nasa launch commentator George Dillar announced the failure 15 minutes after lift-off from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.

Launch director Omar Baez said: 'We failed to make orbit and all indications are that the satellite and rocket are in the South Pacific Ocean somewhere.'

Read More Please see original article source for videos

U.N. Security Council says renewed civil war looms in Ivory Coast

The U.N. Security Council warned Thursday that civil war could return to Ivory Coast in West Africa after months of political deadlock.

In a statement to the press, the council said the ongoing dispute over who is president of the country risks a resurgence of the civil war that erupted in 2002. The Security Council has endorsed the election of Alassane Ouattara but his opponent, President Laurent Gbagbo, refuses to leave office.

The United Nations says 50 people died in violence this week in the country.

The Security Council said it is deeply concerned about the recent escalation of violence, especially in the nation's largest city, Abidjan. The United Nations, following a briefing by the organization's peacekeeping director, also criticized attacks on civilians, including women. (read more)

BP directors take bonuses for year of Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Byron Grote, finance director, and Iain Conn, head of downstream, had their £800,000 and £724,000 salaries and benefits topped up with rewards of £380,000 and £310,500 respectively. The bonuses amounted to 30pc of the full potential payout.

BP’s annual report also revealed that Tony Hayward, the former chief executive who left the company after the worst of the crisis, will get almost £100,000 a year for his work as a non-executive of BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP. He left the board in October with £2m in salary and severance payments, plus a £600,000-a-year pension.

According to the report, Mr Dudley denied himself a bonus in what was a “painful year” for BP. In October, Mr Dudley insisted that incentive payments would in future be linked to safety performance.

Despite forgoing his bonus, Mr Dudley is still potentially eligible for up to 581,084 shares, currently worth £2.8m, on top of a £1m salary. The shares will vest according to BP’s performance over the next few years. (read more)

UK Housing prices fall at fastest pace for a year

Data from Hometrack revealed that prices fell 0.2 last month, the smallest monthly decline since July. However, on an annual basis they fell 2.7pc - the largest fall since November 2009.

Demand for homes rose 14.7pc in February from January, the first increase in eight months, Hometrack said, putting the rise down to traditional seasonal factors and pent-up demand following a very weak second half of 2010. Real-estate agents reported a 25pc increase in sales last month, the company added.

“With supply likely to remain in check, it is the outlook for demand that will have the greatest impact on pricing levels and market activity in the coming months,” Richard Donnell, Hometrack director of research, said. “We expect a continued modest pick-up in demand over March but the timing of interest rate rises is critical.” (read more)

Gerald Celente: “When the money stops flowing down to the man in the street, the blood starts flowing in the streets.”

Trend forecaster Gerald Celente, of the Trends Research Institute, says that the further expansion of government austerity measures and impoverishment of the majority of the world’s populace will lead to more violence, riots and revolutions.

In his latest Trend Alert® to subscribers, Celente discusses the revolutions breaking out in the middle east and provides a different reasoning than mainstream pundits and politicians for why it is happening and why it will spread to Europe and the US:

As we wrote before Tunisia and Egypt erupted, the outbreaks would go global and the reasons behind the unrest would be more about bread and butter issues than politics. As economies decline, unemployment rises, taxes are raised and services cut – while those at the top get richer and most everyone else gets poorer – revolutions will continue to spread. (read more)

Chinese manufacturing collapse continues: The end of China's cheap denim dream

Sitting on a bale of denim in an idled factory, 24-year-old Wei Xiaofeng has a message for the West - the era of Chinese factories churning out dirt-cheap goods is over.

For years, her company, along with thousands of others in China, has helped British high street stores to offer cheaper and cheaper fashion - jeans that cost less than £10 or t-shirts for £3 - and turned the likes of Zara, H&M and Topshop into global giants.

But now the system has broken down. Mrs Wei's company is in crisis and has stopped taking orders from the West.

"We are still getting orders from abroad - all the factories are," she said. "But no one is taking them because we would make a loss. The foreigners do not want to pay a reasonable price. We have not made any profits for two years." (read more)

Fact or Fiction: Global Warming Hoax, Planned in 1961?

Florida Senator Rubio warns of U.S. debt 'death spiral'

Florida’s biggest Republican star, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, returned to the state Capitol Wednesday to give a pep talk to the House Republican caucus and warn that the American dream is in danger of drowning in debt.

“The math is straightforward. The federal government this year, in order to operate, will have to borrow one-and-a-half trillion dollars. – trillion dollars,” Rubio said.

“Medicare and Social Security as they currently are structured, is unsustainable,” he said to applause. “They will bankrupt themselves and ultimately bankrupt our country.” (read more)

Emergency! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops?

An open letter appeared on the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance founded and run by Judith McGeary to save family farms in the US [1, 2]. The letter, written by Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, warns of a pathogen “new to science” discovered by “a team of senior plant and animal scientists”. Huber says it should be treated as an “emergency’’, as it could result in “a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies.”

The letter appeared to have been written before Vilsack announced his decision to authorize unrestricted commercial planting of GM alfalfa on 1 February, in the hope of convincing the Secretary of Agriculture to impose a moratorium instead on deregulation of Roundup Ready (RR) crops.

The new pathogen appears associated with serious pervasive diseases in plants - sudden death syndrome in soybean and Goss' wilt in corn – but its suspected effects on livestock is alarming. Huber refers to “recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%.” (read more)

US Will Fall to World's Third Largest Economy: Citigroup

The world is going to become richer and richer as developing economies play catch up over the coming years, according to Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup.

"We expect strong growth in the world economy until 2050, with average real GDP growth rates of 4.6 percent per annum until 2030 and 3.8 percent per annum between 2030 and 2050," Buiter wrote in a market research.

"As a result, world GDP should rise in real PPP-adjusted terms from $72 trillion in 2010 to $380 trillion dollars in 2050," he wrote.

As the world watches oil prices rise sharply amid unrest in the Middle East, Buiter's analysis of the world's long-term prospects offer some hope that better times are ahead but if he is right power will shift from the West to the East very quickly.

"China should overtake the US to become the largest economy in the world by 2020, then be overtaken by India by 2050," he predicted. (read more)

Gingrich hinting at Obama's impeachment "for violating constitution"?

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV Friday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said President Barack Obama’s decision not to fully enforce the Defense of Marriage law eventually could lead to a constitutional crisis, as he has directly violated his constitutional duties by arbitrarily suspending a law.

Gingrich even suggested that, if a “President Sarah Palin” had taken a similar action, there would have been immediate calls for her impeachment. Asked directly whether President Obama could be subject to articles of impeachment, Gingrich said, “I think that’s something you get to much later. But I think clearly it is a dereliction of duty. Clearly it’s a violation of his constitutional oath. Clearly it is not something that can be allowed to stand." (read more)

Moonageddon: on March 19, our nearest neighbour will be at it closest since 1993 - 4th Mar 2011

* Moon at closest point since 1993
* Astrologers fear "SuperMoon"
* Science says it's all rubbish

IT'S not a bad moon rising, but it is a big one.

The question of whether trouble's on the way, however, is entirely up to what or who you believe.

In a fortnight Earth will experience the biggest moon it has seen in nearly two decades.

As well as providing some unique photo opportunities, some astronomers - well, one - are already predicting it may bring more worrying disruptions to the Earth’s climate patterns.

Earthquakes are not out of the question. More about that later.

For now, all you need to know is that on March 19th the moon will be at its closest point to Earth in 18 years, an event that is known as a “lunar perigee”.

Or the much more exciting “SuperMoon”, as one astrologer called it. Read More

REWARD £26,000 - NOW 40 SWANS ARE DEAD IN SLAUGHTER AT BEAUTY SPOT - 4th Mar 2011

UP to 40 swans are now feared to have been killed at a remote beauty spot in a slaughter that has shocked Britain.

The massacre, in the grasslands of the Somerset Levels, has been going on for a month,

A bounty of £26,000 has been put on the head of the unidentified airgun killer, as reported in yesterday’s Daily Express. It includes £10,000 from child­ren’s author Sir Terry Pratchett.

Avon and Somerset Police said yesterday that they were continuing to help the RSPCA investigation into the killing of the mute swans but no arrests had yet been made.

Burnham-On-Sea Police Inspector Roger Tolley said: “It is important people realise that any information or gossip – no matter how small – could be crucial and they come forward to share it.” The killer fires at point blank range, shooting the swans in the head. One local said last night: “Whoever is doing this is very sick.”

Pauline Kidner, founder of the Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre in East Huntspill, Somerset, said: “It’s obvious to everyone here that a maniac is responsible for these deaths. We must be vigilant and try to find who it is.” The Somerset Levels are of international importance for wildlife, especially migrating birds. Source

Panic as 'freak' wave hits ferry - 2nd Rogue Wave New Zealand in 1 week - 3rd Mar 2011

Passengers say there was pandemonium when a big wave shattered windows and swamped the East by West Ferry in Wellington Harbour, sparking a rescue operation.

Forty-four people, including two crew, were on the 8.05am Dominion Post ferry from Days Bay to Seatoun yesterday when it was struck by what is believed to be a rogue wave as it rounded Scorching Bay.

"It was pretty scary – we went under and all the glass smashed," one of 28 Scots College pupils on board said.

Among them was a year nine boy from St Andrew's College in Christchurch, who has been staying with his grandfather in Eastbourne since last week's earthquake.

Sergeant Scott Miller said it was believed up to 4000 litres of water swamped the ferry when it went nose first into a trough and was swamped by a wave.

A second wave followed, blowing out the ferry's doors. One passenger was washed overboard, but was quickly picked up by the police launch, he said. Read More

Calgary couple killed by rogue wave in Mexico Daughter, three grandsons survive being swept into sea - 6th Feb 2011

A Calgary couple was holding hands on the beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, when a rogue wave washed them and their family into the sea.

Dale and Linda McDougall were killed Thursday while on a family vacation.

"They were all standing on the beach holding hands and a rogue wave came and swept them all up," said their daughter-in-law, Rebbekka McFadden.

The family was told the couple was standing on Divorce Beach, a picturesque tourist spot, with their daughter Teri Miller, her husband and three teenage grandsons when the wave hit.

McFadden said everyone but Teri's husband, Darryl, was swept into the Pacific. Read More

Note: Another Rogue wave was reported on the 26th Feb 2011 New Zealand

A seriously injured woman was airlifted to hospital after a rogue wave hit a boat off the eastern Bay of Plenty this morning

The 51-year-old victim was helping her husband pull a craypot on board their aluminium dinghy when the wave struck.... read more

Mystery Disease (Not Avian Flu) Kills Fauna in Sipahijala, India - 3rd Mar 2011

Agartala, March 3: Close on the heels of an avian flu outbreak in the state, an unidentified disease has claimed the lives of 10 birds of varied species and three animals in the Sipahijala sanctuary in the past three days.

Authorities of the santuary, 30km south of this town, have initiated precautionary measures and closed the zoo and bird sanctuary to public. They have also banned poultry feed for the birds and animals.

But despite primary tests of blood and other samples collected from the dead animals and birds, no evidence of avian flu or any other known disease has been found by experts of the animal disease diagnosis centre here. Read More

Magnitude 5.7 Earthquake hits Surigao Area, Philippines at 11:11pm was Tectonic in Origin - 3rd Mar 2011

A magnitude-5.7 quake hit the Surigao area in Mindanao before midnight Thursday, causing a power blackout in at least two towns and prompting the preemptive evacuation of residents in coastal areas. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said damage and aftershocks were expected from the quake, which was recorded at 11:11 p.m. and was tectonic in origin.

Update: 4th Mar 2011

AFTER ruling out the occurrence of a tsunami after the 5.7-magnitude earthquake residents who were brought to safer grounds went back home.

Two-hour blackouts, falling rocks and preemptive evacuation jolted residents in Northeastern Mindanao as a 5.7-magnitude quake hit Surigao City before midnight Thursday.

There were no reported injuries but the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned of possible aftershocks.

Affected by the power outages are the municipalities of Cantilan and Carrascal in Surigao del Sur, with electricity restored just two hours after the tectonic tremor occurred at 11:11 p.m. Thursday. Source