Monday, April 11, 2011

Leading atheist publishes secular "Bible"... yet strangely styles it after the real one



The question arose early in British academic A.C. Grayling’s career: What if those ancient compilers who’d made Bibles, the collected religious texts that were translated, edited, arranged and published en masse, had focused instead on assembling the non-religious teachings of civilization’s greatest thinkers?

What if the book that billions have turned to for ethical guidance wasn’t tied to commandments from God or any one particular tradition but instead included the writings of Aristotle, the reflections of Confucius, the poetry of Baudelaire? What would that book look like, and what would it mean?

Decades after he started asking such questions, what Grayling calls “a lifetime’s work” has hit bookshelves. “The Good Book: A Humanist Bible,” subtitled “A Secular Bible” in the United Kingdom, was published this month. Grayling crafted it by using more than a thousand texts representing several hundred authors, collections and traditions.

The Bible would have been “a very different book and may have produced a very different history for mankind,” had it drawn on the work of philosophers and writers as opposed to prophets and apostles, says Grayling, a philosopher and professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, who is an atheist. (read more)

Bill Maher: Wall Street needs a "class war"

Behold a Pale Horse by William Milton Cooper: An interesting and prescient look into the present and things to come



All 18 parts are viewable in this viewer, or on Youtube.

Tohoku coastal-area job losses look to top 81,500: Japan

The March 11 earthquake-tsunami catastrophe will probably result in the loss of 81,500 jobs in the coastal areas of the three hardest-hit prefectures over the next six years, a research institute said Friday.

Employment at businesses in the coastal areas of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures is projected to dive to 691,800 workers from the predisaster 773,300 during the period, according to Nomura Research Institute, the research arm of Nomura Holdings Inc.

The estimate, which covers 38 municipalities in the three prefectures, is based on the assumption that the disaster will have the same impact on the employment situation as the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake did, the institute said.

But the calculation has not taken into account the effects of the quake and tsunami on jobs in the farm and fisheries sectors that had been thriving in the coastal areas until the disaster devastated cropland and ports, it noted.

In addition, the estimate has not factored in the effects of the disaster-triggered crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The Great East Japan Earthquake is thus likely to result in greater unemployment than the estimate. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, Japan - 11th Apr 2011

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the eastern coast of Honshu, Japan

The quake struck at 3:08 a.m. UTC just 77 km (47 miles) from Tokyo. Its epicenter was located with a depth of 13.1 km (8.1 miles).

No damage or casualties were reported and no tsunami alert followed.

Is Puerto Rico the next Japan? Caribbean tsunami activity -- backed by NOAA and UNESCO -- threatens entire US East coast



(Poster note: While the video suggests that there has been significant quake activity near Puerto Rico to the tune of 300 quakes in the span of a week, we have not been able to verify this claim through any of our seismic monitoring resources -- if anyone could point us to such information, we'd be grateful and will update accordingly)

NOAA Study link: "The Puerto Rico Trench: Implications for Plate Tectonics and Earthquake and Tsunami Hazards"

UNESCO PDF for "Caribe Wave 11 / LANTEX11 Caribbean Tsunami Warning Exercise"

(Poster note: Interestingly, the exercise to the above study took place on March 23, 2011 -- a mere 12 days following the Japanese quake and tsunami)

Is there more going on with the world's seismic activity than we're being told about? Stay observant. (This post was reader contributed)

Boehner: Next fight to be about trillions, not billions -- US government budget crisis far from over?

This week, Congress is moving toward approval of an agreement on the largest spending cut in history to help begin to create a better environment for private-sector job growth.

While the president's party still controls Washington, House Republicans have dragged a reluctant Senate and White House into taking this imperfect first step toward getting spending under control. The agreement will reduce government spending by $38.5 billion over the next few months — and by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decade.

This is real money. And as Stanford University economics professor John B. Taylor observed, "Reducing discretionary spending in 2011 ... will help establish credibility and show that government can actually take needed actions, not just promise to take them."

But the agreement is far from perfect, and we need to do much more if we're serious about creating new jobs, fixing our spending-driven debt crisis, and ending the uncertainty that continues to plague our economy.

That's why this week, we'll advance our fight from saving billions of dollars to saving trillions of dollars as we turn our full attention to the GOP budget outlined by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., aptly titled "The Path to Prosperity." (read more)

Beijing police halt unapproved church service, arrest praying people

Beijing police on Sunday detained dozens of worshippers from an unapproved Christian church who were trying to hold services in a public space after they were evicted from their usual place of worship, a parishioner said.

Leaders of the unregistered Shouwang church had told members to gather at an open-air venue in Beijing for Sunday morning services, but police, apparently alerted to their plans, taped off the area and took away people who showed up to take part.

China's Communist government allows worship only in state-approved churches, but many Christians belong to unregistered congregations. Such "house churches" are subjected to varying degrees of harassment by authorities.

More than 60 million Christians are believed to worship in China's independent churches, compared with about 20 million who worship in the state church, according to scholars and church activists. (read more)

U.S. gallon of gas jumps to $3.76, could see $4 -- just 10% below highest ever price

The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States has moved closer to $4, jumping more than 19 cents since mid-March to a level less than 10 percent below its all-time high, a widely followed survey said on Sunday.

The Lundberg Survey said the national average price of self-serve, regular unleaded gas was $3.765 on Friday, up from $3.573 on March 18, and up 91.3 cents from $2.852 a year ago.

Prices in several western U.S. cities are already above $4 per gallon, led by San Francisco at $4.13. Chicago was close behind at $4.11 a gallon, the survey said.

The national average would have been higher had refiners and retailers not resisted passing on rising crude oil prices as customers grow less willing to pay what it takes to fill their gas tanks, analyst Trilby Lundberg said in an interview.

"Demand has been falling at these prices," she said.

The record high average pump price is $4.112 set on July 11, 2008. Lundberg tracks roughly 2,500 gas stations. (read more)

UK to sue Iceland over lost billions, official says

An increasingly bitter dispute between the United Kingdom and Iceland over billions of dollars lost when banks collapsed is likely to end up in court, a top British government minister said Sunday.

The British government has "an obligation to get that money back, and we will continue to pursue that until we do," said Danny Alexander, the chief secretary of the Treasury.

He was speaking Sunday after Iceland's people voted to repeal a law aimed at solving the dispute.

Six out of 10 voters in the referendum on Saturday opposed the law, the government said in a statement Sunday, saying turnout was high.

Alexander called Saturday's Icelandic vote "disappointing," adding, "We have a very difficult financial position as a country ... This money would help."

"There is a legal process going on and we will carry on through these processes," he said on the BBC's "Andrew Marr" show. (read more)

Japanese citizens turning in cash found in tsunami zone -- humanity lives...

A tsunami that followed a massive earthquake last month may have destroyed some of Japan's structures, but police say the honest practice of turning in lost items, especially cash, remains intact.

Residents have turned in lost cash across the tsunami zone at a much higher rate than usual, the Miyagi Prefectural Police Department tells CNN.

A police spokesman, who asked not to be identified, citing department policy, said he could not specify how much cash has been turned in to lost-and-found offices at police stations. But, he said, of the 24 police stations across Miyagi Prefecture, nine of them are on the Pacific coastline.

Between March 12, the day following the earthquake and tsunami, and March 31, those nine police stations collected 10 times the amount of lost cash collected at the other 15 stations combined. (read more)

US Debt will take 389 years to pay back... but only if every tax dollar is spent on repayment!

"War in Afghanistan is destabilising Pakistan"

The war in Afghanistan is destabilising Pakistan and seriously undermining efforts to restore its democratic institutions and economic prosperity after a decade of military dictatorship, Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, has told the Guardian.

Speaking during an exclusive interview in the imposing presidential residence in Islamabad, Zardari also pointed to widespread concern in Pakistan at the slow pace of efforts to end the Afghan conflict, and said some US politicians showed limited understanding of the impact of American policies.

"Just as the Mexican drug war on US borders makes a difference to Texas and American society, we are talking about a war on our border which is obviously having a huge effect. Only today a suicide bomber has attacked a police compound in Baluchistan. I think it [the Afghan war] has an effect on the entire region, and specially our country," Zardari said.

Asked about harsh criticism of Pakistan's co-operation in the "war on terror" published in a White House report last week, Zardari said Pakistan always listened to Washington's views. But he suggested some members of Congress and the US media did not know what they were talking about when it came to Pakistan. (read more)

Cato Institute estimates US Total Debt: $120 Trillion... or $400,000 per person

"(T)he principle of spending money to be paid by posterity in the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Certain politicians say Social Security is just fine, thank you very much, and there is no need to address the gap between income and outgo for another 20 years, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Others warn something had better be done right now or our children and grandchildren are doomed to an inevitable economic collapse.

And, no, taxing the rich instead of cutting government spending will not solve the problem. Michael Tanner, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, writes that there simply aren't enough rich with enough wealth to cover the gap.

"But even if one assumes that taxes can be raised without having any impact on economic growth, taxing the rich still wouldn't get us out of our budget hole -- because the hole is quite simply bigger than the amount of revenue we could raise from taxing the rich even if there were no disincentives," Tanner writes in a Cato policy analysis titled, "Bankrupt: Entitlements and the Federal Budget."

"To put it in admittedly oversimplified perspective: our current obligations, including both implicit and explicit debt, total more than 900 percent of GDP. The combined wealth of everyone in the United States who earns at least $1 million per year equals roughly 100 percent of GDP. Therefore, you could confiscate the entire wealth of every millionaire in the United States and still barely make a dent in the amount we will owe."

Tanner estimates the nation's total debt -- including unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Social Security -- is $119.5 trillion -- $400,000 per capita. (read more)

Inflation hysteria taking hold?

One word (well technically two) can describe what is going on in the electronic pre-market arena right now: inflationary hysteria. Gold is at a new record, wheat is surging, corn is at highest since 2008, crude at a new 30 month high, silver is at $41.10 - a new fresh post Hunt high, beans surging, etc, etc, etc. Essentially everything is bid, following news first reported on Zero Hedge that PIMCO is betting the farm that either inflation is about to go parabolic and force bondholders to dump everything, or that the Fed will have no choice but to pursue another round of QE, sending gold to $2,000 and unleashing the Weimar endgame. (read more)

45 goals of Communism in "The Naked Communist" -- replace "Communism" with "Dictatorship" and things are eerily prescient with regard to today

The following is the list of Communist goals contained in The Naked Communist:
  1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
  2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
  3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
  4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
  5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
  6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
  7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
  8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
  9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
  10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
  11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces.
  12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
  13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
  14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
  15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
  16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
  17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
  18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
  19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
  20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
  21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
  22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. Skousen claimed that an American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."
  23. Control art critics and directors of art museums.
  24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press.
  25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
  26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy." Skousen claimed Communists sought to encourage the practice of masturbation.
  27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a "religious crutch."
  28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."
  29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
  30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."
  31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
  32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture—education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
  33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
  34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
  35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
  36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
  37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
  38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
  39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
  40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity, masturbation and easy divorce.
  41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
  42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use "united force" to solve economic, political or social problems.
  43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
  44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
  45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction over nations and individuals alike. (Source)

KENYA: Livestock dying as drought deepens

Thousands more heads of livestock have died in Kenya’s arid Northeastern province as La NiƱa drought conditions worsen and water shortages become more acute.

Drought monitoring and assessment reports indicate that the hardest-hit areas are Marsabit, Moyale and Mandera. Livestock farmers in the three regions have lost more than 17,000 animals since January, according to officials from the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and the government’s Arid Lands and Resource Management Project (ALRMP).

Mass deaths of livestock began in February, but the average daily loss of animals has risen in the last three weeks as crucial water sources dried up. Many of the remaining water sources are contaminated, leading to increased incidents of water-borne diseases such as typhoid, amoeba and diarrhoea.

A recent assessment by the UN found that the drought ravaging East Africa had left eight million needing food aid, 1.2 million in Kenya. (read more)

What Japan's disaster tells us about peak oil

For large parts of eastern Japan that were not directly hit by the tsunami on 11 March 2011, including the nation's capital, the current state of affairs feels very much like a dry-run for peak oil. This is not to belittle the tragic loss of life and the dire situation facing many survivors left without homes and livelihoods. Rather, the aim here is to reflect upon the post-disaster events and compare them with those normally associated with the worst-case scenarios for peak oil.

The earthquake and tsunami affected six of the 28 oil refineries in Japan and immediately petrol rationing was introduced with a maximum of 20 litres per car (in some instances as low as 5 litres). On 14 March, the government allowed the oil industry to release 3 days' worth of oil from stockpiles and on 22 March an additional 22 days' worth of oil was released.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which serves a population of 44.5 million, lost one quarter of its supply capacity as a result of the quake, through the closedown of its two Fukushima nuclear power plants (Dai-ichi and Dai-ni), as well as eight fossil fuel based thermal power stations. Subsequently, from 14 March 2011 onwards, TEPCO was forced to implement a series of scheduled outages across the Kanto region (the prefectures of Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa). (read more)

George Carlin: The American Dream -- because it's good to be reminded of some things

Sea Foam - Most Amazing Natural Phenomenon In The World - 11th Apr 2011

Scientists explain that the foam is created by impurities in the ocean, such as salts, chemicals, dead plants, decomposed fish and excretions from seaweed. All are churned up together by powerful currents which cause the water to form bubbles.

These bubbles stick to each other as they are carried below the surface by the current towards the shore. As a wave starts to form on the surface, the motion of the water causes the bubbles to swirl upwards and, massed together, they become foam. Source

The extraordinary image of a large sunspot emitting cascades of glowing gas - 11th Apr 2011

Believe it or not, this is a relatively quiet day on the sun.

This amazing image shows a large sunspot group moving across our star's surface.

Visible as the bright area near the horizon is AR 9169, a sunspot group from the last solar cycle.

Even the relatively cool dark regions have temperatures reaching thousands of degrees Celsius.

But the bright glowing gas flowing around the sunspots has a temperature of over one million degrees Celsius.

The reason for the high temperatures is unknown but thought to be related to the rapidly changing magnetic field loops that channel solar plasma.

AR 9169 moved across the sun during September 2000 and decayed in a few weeks.

The image, made available for the first time, was taken by Nada's Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) satellite.

The chances of a disruption from space are getting stronger this year because the sun is again entering the most active period of its 11 to 12-year natural cycle. The last solar maximum occurred in 2001. Read More


One of four bodies found by Craigslist Ripper police is a CHILD - 11th Apr 2011

One of the latest four sets of remains found on a Long Island beach linked to the Craigslist Ripper belongs to a baby or child - and not a grown woman, it was revealed today.

The remains were found last week among four sets of bodies several miles away from where the bodies of four prostitutes were located in December.

But the victim may not be related to the other New York murders as a young person’s body ‘would not fit a serial killer’s pattern’, according to law enforcement sources.

The news comes after police stepped up the hunt for more bodies today, employing over 125 search officials equipped with cadaver dogs as well as mounted officers.

‘One doesn't match the others. It's a young person, possibly as young as an infant, or a child,’ an investigation source told the New York Post.

The remains are among eight sets found so far in Oak and Gilgo beaches, with four identified as Craigslist prostitutes who disappeared after meeting someone for sex.

The discovery of the other four, located within less than a mile of each other, was revealed last week but they have yet to be identified. Read More

Unit 731 Japanese Torture & Human Medical Experiments - Most EVIL HUMAN Experiments - 11th Apr 2011

Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel.









At Least Five Killed In Minsk Metro Blast - 11th Apr 2011

At least five people have been killed and dozens injured in an explosion on the underground metro system in the Belarusian capital, according to reports.

The blast happened at the Oktyabrskaya metro station near Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko's office in Minsk.

There has been no confirmation of what caused the explosion.

A witness told Reuters he saw people being carried out of the station on stretchers.

Another said a train was coming into the station when the blast occurred on the platform.

"The doors (of the train) opened and then there was an explosion," the witness said.

"I saw people lying on the floor without moving. There was a lot of blood." Source

FEMA Trailers Contain Toxic Fumes



Boy, two, is first person in the world to be born with an extra strand of DNA - 11th Apr 2011

A two-year-old boy has become the only person in the world to be diagnosed with an extra strand in his DNA.

Brave Alfie Clamp was born blind and with severe disabilities, which led doctors to carry out various tests.

They revealed his seventh chromosome had an 'extra arm' which has never been documented anywhere in the world before.

Doctors are baffled at his condition, which is so rare it does not have a name.

Medics also have no idea whether his condition will improve or reduce his life expectancy.

Alfie, from Nuneaton, Warks., can now see and he will have an operation this month to fix an intestinal problem caused by his condition.

His parents Gemma and Richard Clamp only discovered something was wrong with their son after they first took him home.

Within days, he was rushed back to hospital after he stopped breathing and his lips turned blue.

Then when he was six weeks old, doctors discovered he had a rare abnormality in his DNA.

Mrs Clamp said: 'When the doctors told us I was absolutely devastated. As a pregnant mum you spend nine months thinking about what it will be like when your baby takes their first step or claps their hands. Read More

So why can't we do this here? Just two arrests as France brings in burka ban (and the only real demo is in LONDON) - 11th Apr 2011

France's controversial burka ban became law today sparking a protest in Paris during which two women wearing full face veils were arrested.

The demonstrations, however, were on a relatively small scale with the handful of protesters being outnumbered by police, reporters and tourists.

Ironically, the biggest protest was actually in London where a group of women in full black burkas gathered outside the French Embassy.

Shouting slogans and bearing banners with the words Shariah 4 France, Nicolas Sarkozy Burn In Hellfire and Niqab: Honour For Women, they were the most vocal opponents to the new law.

Hateful preacher Abu Izzadeen, who has previously been jailed for incitement, spoke during the protest.

The burka ban has been dogged by controversy until becoming law in France today.

Women who break the new legislation could face fines of 150 euros, or £132, as well as citizenship lessons.

But officers involved in today's arrests in Paris said they were likely to be released shortly after being questioned about an illegal gathering. Read More

Chicago school bans lunches brought from home: Welcome to the Nanny State

Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

"Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?" the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: "We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!"

Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: "Do you see the situation?"

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago's West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria. (read more)

Think the U.S. debt is bad? Check out the states!

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin talked Tuesday about cutting federal spending by a staggering $6 trillion in the next decade and in the process eliminating the $14.3 trillion national debt. As incredible as these numbers are, all 50 states face perilous fiscal times as well, but they are less able to cope than the federal government. States can't print money, as the federal government can, and they are far more limited in whom and how much they can tax. There is one common factor here, though: Washington and the state capitals are drowning in red ink largely because professional politicians promised excessive entitlement benefits without making provisions to pay for them.

The entitlement crisis is seen most vividly at the state level in the unfunded liabilities of government employee pension systems. But getting a handle on the true scope of these debts is difficult. As Bryan Leonard of StateBudgetSolutions.org wrote in a recent study, "one of the most insidious aspects of pension liability is its stealth nature. Pension obligations don't appear on state balance sheets. As such, states with billions in unfunded pension liabilities may technically brag of 'balanced' budgets while being swamped by pension debt. For example, Arkansas claimed a balanced budget last year, but had at least $2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Indeed, the unfunded pension promises in most states dwarf the total outstanding debt, tax revenues and spending." (read more)

Land grab fears in Africa "legitimate"

A new report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has found that recent large-scale land deals in Africa are likely to provide scant benefit to some of the world's poorest and most famine-prone nations and will probably create new social and environmental problems. Analysing 12 recent land leasing contracts investigators found a number of concerns, including contracts that are only a few pages long, exclusion of local people, and in one case actually give land away for free.

Many of the contracts last for 100 years, threatening to separate local communities from the land they live on.
"Most contracts for large-scale land deals in Africa are negotiated in secret," explains report author Lorenzo Cotula in a press release. "Only rarely do local landholders have a say in those negotiations and few contracts are publicly available after they have been signed."

The land-lease trend in Africa is recent. As prognosticators warn that food and water shortages, exacerbated by climate change and growing populations, will become the norm, rising nation such as China and South Korea have begun to purchase massive tracts of land from the world's most destitute. In Africa this covers over 50 million hectares in countries like Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Cameroon, Mozambique, Senegal, and Mali.

In many cases the land is sold for a pittance: in Sudan land is being leased for $0.07 per hectare annually, while Mali has signed a contract that gives land away for free. Some of the contracts even include handing over water rights without fees. Ironically, such contracts have been drafted in already-arid nations threatened by desertification like Senegal and Sudan. (read more)

Do we have until July before a "collapse" in the US takes place?

Declining home prices for another 10 years?

What would happen if home prices remain stagnant for another decade? It is hard to imagine that the cornerstone of the American dream would somehow become a bad investment for the next decade. For decades every generation was conditioned into believing that housing was the best investment a family could make. For many it provided a stable home for retirement once the mortgage was paid off. One third of all homes in the United States that are owner occupied have no mortgage.

Yet this mindset of buying and paying off a mortgage has largely been lost. No mortgage burning parties in the digital age. It may be making a comeback not because people want this but because there is no other financial choice. Given the current domestic and global trends, it is likely that housing will be suffering another troubled decade from 2011 to 2020 just like it experienced from 2001 to 2010. I want to lay out six charts as to why I believe housing will have difficulty moving up in price in the next ten years. (read more)

Fukushima evacuation area to soon be declared 'off-limits'

The 20-km evacuation zone around the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will soon be turned into a legally binding off-limits zone, senior officials said Sunday.

The step is aimed at increasing government control over the area. Desperate residents have been braving radiation fears for quick return trips to pick up essential belongings. Officials suggested Sunday that they will now be able to force anyone out of the evacuation zone who refuses to leave.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government has been urging Tokyo to impose such a zone and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Sunday that final arrangements are being made to take the step.

Under the law on nuclear disaster countermeasures, the government can order heads of cities, towns and villages to designate legally binding "caution areas" where people other than those engaged in disaster relief are prohibited from entering and can ordered to leave under threat of punishment. (read more)

Silent, hovering UFO -- Pittsburgh, PA -- March 29, 2011

UK: March was the driest for 40 years

The past month has been the driest March for around 40 years, forecasters said today.

Provisional recordings show that the UK has also seen 25% more sunshine than usual over the last four weeks as temperatures climbed and Britons enjoyed their first taste of spring.

But there was bad news for those hoping for an early start to summer - April showers are on their way as usual.

According to provisional Met Office figures, the average rainfall between March 1 and 29 stands at only 39.1mm (1.5in).

This is expected to rise very slightly when the showers of the past two days are factored in.

However, it is still expected to be well below the 95.9mm (3.8in) norm for March. (read more)

Birds delaying spring migration as tropical rainfall dips

Declining rainfall in tropical regions can cause migratory birds to delay their departure from wintering grounds back to their northern breeding areas, according to a new study. In a five-year study of American redstarts, a species of warbler, scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute found that individual birds delayed their spring migration from Jamaica to North America when low rainfall produced a scarcity of insects, the birds’ primary food supply; the redstarts apparently delayed migration because of insufficient nutritional reserves. Over the last 16 years, increasingly severe and unpredictable dry seasons in Jamaica have resulted in an 11-percent decrease in rainfall. (read more)

Fact or Fiction: Is Mars' sky really blue, and is NASA doctoring photos?

Did you ever wonder about the red tinted images from Mars?

No? Maybe that's because you haven't seen any other colorization in the main-stream media like Newspapers and TV.

What is the reason for the red picture and especially for the red sky on them?
If you ask a Meteorologist about the reason for blue sky on Earth, he will name the Rayleigh scattering.
If you ask a NASA Scientist about the reason for red sky on Mars, he will name the fine dust in the Atmosphere which scatters light like during sunset on Earth.

But there are not alway dust-storms on Mars which pollutes the Atmosphere.
So there have to be also days which show blue sky!
Even NASA / JPL writes in this article about the possibility of blue sky and 3 days before Pathfinder landed, this note appeared in a press release by NASA:

"If dust diffuses to the landing site, the sky could turn out to be pink like that seen by Viking," says Philip James of the University of Toledo. "Otherwise, Pathfinder will likely show blue sky with bright clouds."

And the pictures of this clear blue sky do exist! Especially from the Viking Mission, as you can see on the next pages. (read more)

Total American foodstamp participation in January hit an all time record 44,187,831 according to the USDA

As some Americans managed to find part-time and temporary jobs in March, some other Americans dropped below the poverty level threshold. 105 thousand in one month to be precise. The total foodstamp participation in January hit an all time record 44,187,831 according to the USDA. But fear not, here's the bullish spin... sorry, there is no way to spin this. (read more)

Food Commodities Rise Seen Swamping Consumers With Inflation

Coffee, sugar and cocoa prices will rise five- to 10-fold by 2014 because of shortages that will mean consumers getting “swamped” by food-price inflation, according to Superfund Financial.

A lack of farmland and rising costs means growers will fail to keep up with demand, said Aaron Smith, managing director of Superfund Financial (Hong Kong) Ltd. and Superfund USA Inc. Commodities account for about 40 percent of Superfund’s $1.25 billion assets under management. Smith correctly predicted record copper prices in November and a month later rightly anticipated that silver would outperform gold.

A United Nations index of world food prices jumped to a record last month, contributing to riots across northern Africa and the Middle East that already toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. Global food security is threatened by “excessive price volatility and speculation,” farm ministers from 48 countries said in a joint statement after meeting in Berlin in January.

“There’s a tremendous shortage of food, there’s a tremendous shortage of arable land,” Smith said in interview in London. “Any kind of food products are going to increase.” (read more)

BREAKING NEWS: Self-declared president Laurent Gbagbo arrested in Ivory Coast

The self-declared president of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, was arrested Monday, the French Embassy in that country said.

Security forces of the Ivory Coast arrested him, the embassy said.

A Gbagbo adviser, Ahoua Don Mello, said earlier that the French military had stormed Gbagbo's residence.

Gbagbo's refusal to cede power triggered a political crisis in the West African nation.

Forces loyal to the two men who claim to be president of Ivory Coast had clashed in the country's main city overnight, the United Nations and a local resident told CNN Monday.

U.N. forces are not planning strikes on Gbabgo's forces Monday but were prepared to hit his troops "if it's needed," said Hamadoun Toure, a spokesman for U.N. mission to the country.

The U.N. "was not involved" in the fighting between Gbagbo's troops and those of Alassane Ouattara overnight, Toure said. (read more)

The migrants who commit 500 crimes a week but can't be deported because they're from the EU - 11th Apr 2011

European migrants are committing over 500 crimes a week in Britain, according to new figures - but officials are powerless to deport the majority of offenders.

More than 54,000 EU citizens have been convicted of criminal offences - including murder - in the past two years.

And the worst offenders have been named as the Poles and Romanians - further fuelling concerns over the most recent EU expansions.

However because of the European Union's rules on freedom of movement, only a handful of those offenders - those who have received a prison sentence of at least two years - can be deported.

The alarming figures published by the Daily Telegraph come following reports last week that the number of crimes committed by foreigners in the UK had virtually doubled in the past two years.

Police have also warned that the foreign offenders are adding pressure to their resources, often due to language barriers. One police leader said that even a simple caution could take six hours to issue to a foreigner who did not speak English. Read More

Note: Maybe if the UK stopped paying immigrants benefits and started throwing criminals in prison they may get somewhere.

Another Senseless Killing on the Streets of London - Schoolboy, 15, stabbed to death in the street 'after row over BlackBerry' - 11th Apr 2011

A schoolboy was stabbed to death in front of his ten-year-old brother after a row over a BlackBerry phone, it was claimed today.

The 15-year-old, who has not yet been named, was set upon by a gang of four youths on bicycles in Edmonton, north London, last night.

Police say he was repeatedly knifed in the chest and thigh in what was a frenzied attack.

He was rushed to hospital after being found in a pool of blood in a street in the area on Sunday evening, but died a few hours later.

The teenager is the fourth to be stabbed to death in London this year.

Flowers were laid in tribute at the scene of the attack today as neighbours warned the area was gripped by fear because of gangs.

Michael Athnasiou, who lives near the murder scene, said: 'The gangsters are getting out of control. It is very scary.' Read More

Crazy weather: Tornado three-quarters of a mile wide flattens Iowa town... as hailstones the size of baseballs pound cars in North Carolina - 10th Apr

The small Iowa town of Mapleton will spend the next few months rebuilding after a tornado three-quarters of a mile wide swept through the area.

Emergency services have not yet calculated the cost of the damage after Saturday night's storm flattened most of the town of 1,200. No one was killed but two people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries. The were other reports of 14 to 16 injuries, the most severe a broken leg.

The tornado destroyed 12 to 15 blocks in the south-west corner of Mapleton when it struck about 7:20 pm, the county sheriff said. The tornado destroyed around 100 homes and displaced an estimated 500 to 600 residents.

Sheriff Jeff Pratt said the recovery was likely to cost millions of dollars and the state governor Terry Branstad has promised financial aid.

The tornado was one of several reported in Iowa on Saturday and destruction was widespread. The tree after which Mapleton was named, and has stood in the centre of the town for hundreds of years, was ripped out by its roots and tossed on top of cars. A vast motor home was flipped on its side.

'It's not a pretty sight,' Mayor Fred Standa said. 'It's something nobody has seen in this town.'

Read More

Revealed: The secret FBI files that shows how police and army officers saw a UFO explode over Utah - 11th Apr 2011

(Click on Image to Read)

A secret FBI memo detailing how police and army officers witnessed a UFO exploding over Utah has been unearthed.

On April 4 1949 special agents sent a cable marked ‘urgent’ to the bureau director, Edgar Hoover.

The top secret document reveals how an army guard, a policeman and a highway patrol, who were all miles apart, each saw a UFO, which they said exploded over mountains near Logan, north of Salt Lake City.

The memo is one of thousands of previously unreleased classified files that the bureau has made public in a new online resource called The Vault.

Under the title ‘Flying Discs’, the document about the sightings in Utah said the three men each ‘saw a silver coloured object high up approaching the mountains at Sardine Canyon’ that ‘appeared to explode in a rash of fire.’ Read More

31 year old Graffiti Artist Killed in Libya - 11th Apr 2011

Analysis: Fukushima and the 'nuclear renaissance' that wasn't - 11th Apr 2011

A month after a devastating earthquake sent a wall of water across the Japanese landscape, the global terrain of the atomic power industry has been forever altered.

The ongoing drama at the power plant in Fukushima -- a name now ranked alongside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl as history's worst nuclear accidents -- has erased the momentum the nuclear industry has seen in recent years.

The growth in the emerging world, such as China and India, fueled increased demand in planned reactors. Oil-rich regions like the United Arab Emirates and smaller nations like Vietnam announced plans to build nuclear reactors in the past year. Once the bane of environmentalists, the nuclear industry enjoyed newfound "green" credentials as a cleaner alternative to coal-fired plants that belch greenhouse gases to produce electricity.

Before Fukushima, a "nuclear renaissance" -- as it was termed in the press -- seemed well underway, except for this point: Nuclear power, as a total of world energy supply, has been in steady decline for the past decade.

From 2000 to 2008, nuclear energy dropped from 16.7% to 13.5% of global energy production, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2009. The 2010-11 preliminary report, expected to be released Wednesday, will show the downward trend has continued, according to study author Mycle Schneider. Read More

President Barrack Obama stands for CHANGE and offers HOPE.

BREAKING NEWS: 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN HONSHU, Japan - 11th Apr 2011

(Monday, April 11, 2011 at 08:16:13 UTC Magnitude 7.1 Eastern Honshu)

Workers have been temporarily evacuated from the Fukushima nuclear plant as a 7.1 magnitude hits Iwaki in the Fukushima prefecture in Japan.

A tsunami alert has been issued after metre high waves hit the coast.

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of 6.2 miles, and hit 102 miles northeast of Tokyo off the northeastern coast of Japan.

According to local reports the quake caused some buildings to sway in the capital Tokyo.

The news comes as a minutes silence was observed around Japan to mark the passing of a month since a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated the country.

Workers still searching for bodies among the rubble stopped their grim work to mark the moment on 11 March when the earthquke struck. Read More

Fact or Fiction - FEMA CAMPS









France Bans Muslims From Wearing Veils - 11th Apr 2011

A ban on full face veils has come into force in France, exposing Muslim women who wear the niqab or burka in public to fines of £132 (150 euros).

The country's five-million-strong Muslim minority is western Europe's largest, but fewer than 2,000 women are believed to wear a full face veil.

Many Muslim leaders have said they support neither the veil nor the law banning it.

French police arrested 59 people on Saturday who turned up for a banned protest over the veil ban, one of them on arrival in France from Britain, according to a police spokesman.

The timing of the onset of the ban is all the more sensitive after France's ruling political party, President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP, called a debate on the place of Islam in France.

That is move some say risked stigmatising a portion of the population.

Police received a guide last week to help implement the ban. It tells them not to remove veils by force and also notes the ban does not apply inside private cars. Read More

Leading brands of baby food found to contain arsenic and other toxins - 11th Apr 2011

Small amounts of arsenic and other toxins found in the soil are getting into the ingredients used in top-selling baby foods, it has emerged.

Manufacturers insist the levels are so low they do not pose a health risk.

However scientists and food campaigners are calling for efforts to eliminate the chemicals from mass-produced products eaten by millions of youngsters.

Leading brands from Organix, Hipp, Nestle and Holle were tested by Swedish researchers.

Writing in the Journal of Food Chemistry, the scientists from the Unit of Metals and Health at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said: ‘Alarmingly, these foods may also introduce high amounts of toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and uranium, mainly from their raw materials.

‘These elements have to be kept at an absolute minimum in food products intended for infant consumption. The high concentrations of arsenic in the rice-based foods are of particular concern.’

Two years ago Britain’s Food Standards Agency issued an official warning that young children should be stopped from drinking rice milk because of arsenic contamination.

It acted after two types of the poison were found in the rice milk, including the most harmful form, which is called inorganic arsenic. Read More

Japan says it may extend nuclear evacuations - 11th Apr 2011

Government testing radiation outside evacuation zone for high radiation; Japanese PM said widening may force additional 130,000 to move.

TOKYO - Japan said on Monday it may extend some parts of an evacuation zone around its crippled nuclear plant if tests show high radiation outside the area, imposed after an earthquake and tsunami sparked the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Japan has steadfastly refused to extend its 20 km (12 mile) evacuation zone, despite international concerns over radiation spreading from the six damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima which engineers are still struggling to bring under control a month after they were wrecked by the 15-metre tsunami.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the existing area was sufficient as the risk of an accident was now lower.

But the government might extend the evacuation zone if tests show high levels of accumulated radiation in specific areas, he said. The Asahi newspaper said evacuations may extend 30 km out from the plant.

"This won't be based on a radius zone-type (evacuation)...from the perspective of accumulated radiation, we need appropriate steps to ensure safety," Edano told reporters.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told parliament last month that widening the area would force 130,000 people to move in addition to 70,000 already displaced.

Residents of one village, Iitate which is 40 km from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, have been told to prepare for evacuation because of prolonged exposure to radiation, a local official told Reuters by phone. The village has a population of 5,000.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has urged Japan to extend the zone and countries like the United States and Australia have advised citizens to stay 80 km away from the plant. Read More

Dead horses being investigated - 10th Apr 2011

Three horses have been found dead and decaying on crown land near Grasmere.

The RCMP were called by someone who had found the horses behind their property.

An SPCA officer joined the police officer and will be carrying out an investigation into the deaths.

Sgt. Dave Dubnyk from the Elk Valley RCMP said it was hard to tell the cause of death of the animals because they had significantly decomposed.

“Due to the level of decay of the animals it was hard to tell if they had been euthanised, starved or what,” he said.

“It was even hard to tell how long they had been there because the bodies had been picked at by birds and other scavengers.”

He said the horses’ owners were identified and were out of town at the time.

Dubnyk said there were a number of issues involved with the case, such as environmental and wildlife concerns.

“Having the animals just lying there can attract wildlife like bears into an inhabited area,” he said. “Also when animals are left to decay there is the possibility of contamination of drinking water.

“So there are a number of things being investigated. The SPCA are looking into the cruelty side of it.” Source

Wind farms accused of concealing deaths of protected species - 10th Apr 2011

(One of millions of soaring birds and bats dead at the hands of so called 'green energy' wind farms. Worse, wind energy is now proven to be the least reliable, cost effective or efficient source available. Photo: Mark Duchamp, Iberica 2000)

As the wind industry loses favor around the globe, watchdog groups are demanding accountability from the huge corporate interests that run them. According to reports, bird toll census numbers are being rigged by burying or otherwise concealing mutilated bird carcasses rather than reporting them.

Not only is wind power proven to be ineffective in terms of both cost and energy production, but its devastating effects on soaring birds, bats, the environment and communities is increasingly being condemned.

The letter below, from noted wildlife biologist and wind energy expert Jim Wiegand and sent in response to a report in the The Journal, is being shared to highlight some of the reasons for demanding full disclosure from, and stricter regulation of wind farms. In addition, it's important that any investigation into the industry should include testimony from leading engineers and wind turbine developers not involved with the antiquated and lethal propeller-style turbine. In this way it will be evident what a dead-end road this industry, in its current incarnation, has lead us down.

"Editor, I would like to comment and further enlighten you readers on the recent story "Bird Deaths Prompt Wind Rules - USFWS and Voluntary Guidelines". The USFWS Voluntary Guidelines need to be examined closely for what they are. As it is there are clear Federal and State laws on the books that protect rare and endangered species. But for the wind industry these laws are just voluntary. Your state has speed limits. Are they voluntary? Murder, rape, assault and so on, are the laws of any of these crimes voluntary for any special group? The point is that the USFWS is not protecting the nation's rare and endangered species nor is it upholding the laws that were written to protect them. The reality is that the voluntary guidelines along with the incidental take permit, were created for this industry in Washington to bypass environmental law.

It is well known that wind turbines cause bird and bat mortality however the total magnitude of this impact cannot ever be fully understood until there is complete transparency. Thanks to the USFWS , there is no transparency. This information is made even more difficult to obtain when the access the wind properties is conveniently limited by the industry itself. Keep in mind, wind farms have been known to conceal blade strike victims as in Spain where the bodies of 19 unreported griffon vultures were found buried on wind farm property. I have been told that wind industry contracts and leases also have gag clauses written into them so this information can be limited. I believe the concealment of blade strike mortality is it is a routine practice for the industry. Read More

Officials Investigating Dead Fish In Cedar Creek - 10th Apr 2011

About 100 fish, mostly trout, were found dead Sunday morning in Cedar Creek, about a mile and a quarter downstream from Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, said Mark Carmon, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP's Emergency Response Team and the Pennsylvania Fish Commission were at the site this morning and conducted field tests for pH, dissolved oxygen and chlorine, Carmon said.

No immediate problems or sources were found.

Carmon was not sure when test results would be available, as authorities are checking for pesticides and herbicides in addition to water chemistry.

He said authorities checked with Dorney Park but there were no discharges or water usage.

The joint DEP-Fish Commission investigation is continuing. Source

Thousands defy Filipino volcanic eruption alerts - 11th Apr 2011

(Image Mount Tall 1965)

Thousands of people living near a volcano on an island close to the Philippine capital defied official warnings to evacuate on Sunday as fears of an eruption grew.

Only 77 people living near the crater of Taal Volcano left the island, a popular visitor spot 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of Manila, over the weekend, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

The island is home to 7,000 farmers, fishermen and tourist guides, according to the country's volcanology institute.

The government on Friday warned magma was pushing toward the surface amid a dramatic rise in gas emissions, a swelling of the ground and higher temperature on the surrounding Taal lake, which it said could eventually lead to an eruption. Source

Gaddafi accepts peace plan but rebels say he must go - 11th Apr 2011

Muammar Gaddafi has accepted a roadmap for ending the conflict in Libya including an immediate ceasefire, the African Union said on Monday, but an opposition representative said it would only work if Gaddafi left power.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who met Gaddafi at the head of a delegation of African leaders, urged NATO to stop air strikes on government targets to "give ceasefire a chance."

Earlier truce offers from Gaddafi have come to nothing and the rebels, who took up arms across the east and in some towns in the west after the Libyan leader crushed protests in February, have said they will accept nothing less than an end to his 41 year-old rule.

"The brother leader delegation has accepted the roadmap as presented by us. We have to give ceasefire a chance," Zuma said, adding that the African delegation would now travel to the eastern city of Benghazi for talks with anti-Gaddafi rebels.

Asked if the issue of Gaddafi stepping down was discussed, Ramtane Lamamra, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, told reporters: "There was some discussion." Read More


Is this your safe? How people's life savings are washing up on shore after Japanese tsunami - 11th Apr 2011

There are no cars inside the parking garage at Ofunato police headquarters. Instead, hundreds of dented metal safes, swept out of homes and businesses by last month's tsunami, crowd the long rectangular building.

Any one could hold someone's life savings.

Safes are washing up along the tsunami-battered coast, and police are trying to find their owners - a unique problem in a country where many people, especially the elderly, still stash their cash at home. By one estimate, some £214 billion worth of yen doesn't circulate.

There's even a term for this hidden money in Japanese, 'tansu yokin.' Or literally, 'wardrobe savings.'

So the massive post-tsunami cleanup under way along hundreds of miles of Japan's ravaged northeastern coast involves the delicate business of separating junk from valuables. As workers and residents pick through the wreckage, they are increasingly stumbling upon cash and locked safes.

One month after the March 11 tsunami devastated Ofunato and other nearby cities, police departments already stretched thin now face the growing task of managing lost wealth.

'At first we put all the safes in the station,' said Noriyoshi Goto, head of the Ofunato Police Department's financial affairs department, which is in charge of lost-and-found items. 'But then there were too many, so we had to move them.'

Goto couldn't specify how many safes his department has collected so far, saying only that there were 'several hundreds' with more coming in every day.

Identifying the owners of lost safes is hard enough. But it's nearly impossible when it comes to wads of cash being found in envelops, unmarked bags, boxes and furniture. Read More