Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The spy plane that now comes with or without a pilot (and a Black Box memory stick) - 10th May 2011

It has been hailed as the future of the spy plane.

An intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft that can be flown either robotically or with a pilot aboard was unveiled yesterday.

The Firebird will allow the U.S. military to simultaneously gather real-time high-definition video, view infrared imagery, use radar and eavesdrop on communications, it is claimed.

Incredibly, it has an interface like a memory stick that can be plugged into a PC without the need for additional software.

Measuring 34ft-long and 9.7ft-high, the twin-tailed plane can reach a maximum altitude of 30,000ft and has a maximum flying time of between 24 and 40 hours, depending on its configuration.

Its wing span is 65ft and it has a pushed-propeller at the rear of its fuselage. Read More


Six girls flogged after 'act of mischief' at Saudi Arabia orphanage - 11th May 2011

Six orphan girls aged between 12 and 18 were flogged in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of attacking the head of their orphanage, an official said today.

The girls received 10 lashes each under the country's strict interpretation of Islamic law at a women's prison in Medina, Islam's second holiest city, in the west of the desert state.

‘The order against the six orphans is a legitimate court order,’ Mohammed al-Awadh, the public relations manager at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said. ‘The ministry does not have the right to interfere in a court order.’

He gave no details of the ruling but the Arabic-language newspaper Okaz said the girls had been convicted of ‘acts of mischief’ and attacking the director of the orphanage.

The girls defended their actions, saying they were harassed by the director, Okaz reported.

International human rights groups have criticised the Saudi justice system for applying corporal punishment for petty crimes, as well as limb amputations for thieves and beheadings for murderers under its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Saudi officials say the practice is widely approved by Saudi society and is a deterrent to crime.

In January 2010 a teenage girl was sentenced to 90 lashes and two months in prison for hitting her school principal on the head with a cup when she took away her mobile phone.

Awadh said the Ministry of Social Affairs would continue to care for the six orphans after the floggings were carried out.

‘What it will do is rehabilitate and take care of the girls' social wellbeing, which is part of its duties and responsibilities,’ he said. Source

After Bin Laden, will China become US foe?

The demise of Osama bin Laden offers the US an opportunity to declare an end to the War on Terror. In the view of many Americans, a strategic adjustment of US foreign policy appears inevitable. Besides, the US media is riddled with analyses of how to handle a rising China. Do the prescriptions and analyses imply that US policy would aim to undo the development China has achieved in recent decades?

For a long time, the Chinese people have been haunted by the anxiety that, one day, the US will confront China. This has turned out to be unfounded – so far. In the perception of experts at home and abroad, the counter-terrorism war, mainly in the Arab world, has served to prevent the US from "disturbing" China during the past decade. As trouble continues to spread in the Middle East, the US may remain pinned down in the region for another 10 years.

These viewpoints, to some extent, are reasonable but exaggerate the situation. For the US, the concerns aroused by those authoritarian states in the Arab world are not comparable to developments rooted in the rise of China. Given that China's GDP may exceed that of the US within 10 years, this may become the primary factor to threaten the latter's global hegemony.

In a US versus China scenario, will confrontation be the only option? More people in both countries answer in the negative. For the US, it would seem rational to maintain the status quo rather than provoke China, thereby triggering risks that would hurt the US.

In the near future, the US may pour more money and resources in handling the rise of China. As a counterweight, China has enough power to prevent the revival of the kind of confrontation the US had with the former Soviet Union. China's peaceful rise might be unsettling to the US, but that has not spurred recasting of its foreign policy toward the world's most populous country. Besides, it is not a coincidence that China's pace of development has dwarfed the efforts of the US to contain China. (read more)

1994: Army War College Paper Proposes use of Computer Generated Insurgents

In 2008, Old-Thinker News reported on a 1994 strategic paper published by the U.S. Army War College titled “Revolution In Military Affairs And Conflict Short Of War,” written by Dr. Steven Metz (who works for the RAND Corporation) and James Kievit. Recent events have made this paper even more precient than ever. The document outlines an eerily familiar scenario in which a group of revolutionaries within government hijack control of the levers of power and begin a program of pre-emptive war, psychological operations at home and abroad, and false flag attacks blamed on “…computer generated insurgent leader[s]“.

In July of 1994 the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) produced the paper titled Revolution In Military Affairs And Conflict Short Of War that uncannily forecasted the future in a “hypothetical future history” written in the year 2010. The hypothetical situation contains many disturbing predictions, several of which have come true. After a series of terrorist attacks, foreign policy “fiascos” and various disputes between “supporters of multinational peace operations” and “isolationists”, a small number of “revolutionaries” recruits members in all branches of the U.S. government and shift American foreign policy to a practice of pre-emption.

Computer generated insurgents claim responsibility for attacks that U.S. forces carry out, traditional boundaries between military and law enforcement are abolished, subliminal conditioning is used in combination with propaganda, and bioelectric tags are implanted in citizens. As predicted in the document, 2010 is the year that the revolutionaries’ goals would be met. (read more)

America running out of time to cut debt

The recent debate to prevent a government shutdown reminds us that partisan politics have always been, and will likely always be, part of Washington. While it is certainly good a shutdown was averted, the $38 billion in cuts that were part of the deal barely dent our nation's growing debt.

Now, the $14 trillion question is whether President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can reach another agreement -- this time to reduce our debt and improve our fiscal responsibility.

We certainly hope they can. However, time for an agreement is fleeting. In fact, the evidence suggests the U.S. is becoming less fiscally responsible.

Over the last six months, as part of our graduate programs at Stanford University, and in conjunction with former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker (a longtime critic of unsustainable entitlement spending) and the Comeback America Initiative, we developed a Sovereign Fiscal Responsibility Index (PDF) that assesses fiscal responsibility across most Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

Combining the three major components of fiscal responsibility -- current debt levels, the projected future debt path and fiscal governance -- this index predicts the U.S. could face a fiscal crisis in the next two to three years if spending and tax revenues continue at current levels.

Right now the U.S. debt is like a freight train running downhill. The agreement to prevent a shutdown was like putting a shopping cart in the way. We still need to pull the brakes to keep our country out of a fiscal abyss.

Our index shows that the U.S. ranks 28th overall out of 34 countries, in the same territory as the so-called PIIGS of Europe -- Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Spain -- countries that are already facing fiscal hardship, some from years of irresponsible behavior. Australia and New Zealand, more on them later, sit at the top of the list. Surprisingly though, the top 10 is filled with developing market countries such as China, Chile, Estonia and Brazil. (read more)

Strange alignment of Osama-related news stories suggesting an impending event (planned or othwerise?)

US Postal Service reports billions in losses -- another massive bailout coming?

The Postal Service is continuing to hemorrhage money, reporting a loss Tuesday of more than $2 billion over the first three months of the year and warning it could be forced to default on federal payments.

Such a default would not interrupt mail service to millions of Americans, but it could further hobble an agency struggling with a sharp decline in mail because of the Internet and a tough economy.

The agency says the $2.2 billion loss covers Jan. 1 to March 31, 2011 — sharply higher than the net loss of $1.6 billion for the same period last year. The post office also said it will have reached its borrowing limit, set by Congress, of $15 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

Unless Congress intervenes, the Postal Service said, the agency won't have the cash for certain payment to the government, such as billions for a trust fund to provide health care benefits for future retirees.

"The Postal Service continues to seek changes in the law to enable a more flexible and sustainable business model," said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe. "The Postal Service may return to financial stability only through significant changes to the laws that limit flexibility and impose undue financial burdens." (read more)

'Paper dollar destroying world economy'

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strongly criticizes US economic policies, saying that the paper currency created by the American government is taking a heavy toll on the global economy.

In an address to the fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday, Ahmadinejad said that the cash injected into the global economy in the form valueless US dollars amount to over USD 32 trillion, IRNA reported.

“This is while the US budget deficit for the 2011 fiscal year is expected to reach a figure above USD 1.6 trillion,” he added.

The Iranian president also pointed that the US foreign debt now approaching over USD 14.6 trillion, while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the United States stands at around USD 14 trillion.

President Ahmadinejad stated that such figures clearly explain the plunder of national wealth in many countries, and the upsurge in poverty and underdevelopment across the globe.

He noted the certain countries rob less developed states to pay their international debts.

“Most of international economic organizations either defend the existing situation or serve the interests of certain states,” he said.

President Ahmadinejad further said the era of colonialism is coming to an end and the management of world issues should be reformed. (read more)

World to suffer a new currency crisis by fall?



With the US planning to devalue the dollar to help its struggling economy, Washington may be pushing the world into yet another global crisis, says investor and author Jim Rogers.

Rogers says that with foreign countries unwilling to further finance the US’s growing debt, the search for a new global currency has sped up, capturing many other nations besides China. But his overall forecast is pessimistic.

“I would expect to see more crises in the currency market, maybe as soon as this fall or certainly by the fall of 2012-2013,” Rogers predicted. “You are going to see a serious turmoil in the currency market, which will force the world and America to do something about it. It is going to be terrible for all of us, but that is the way it is going to wind up, because nobody is doing any serious action except talking about it.”

Rogers’ commentary comes in the wake of the statements made by the International Monetary Fund on Monday. The IMF’s deputy managing director, John Lipsky, observed in his report that the US economy, as well as the economy of Europe, has reached its turning point. With foreign debt growing, Washington’s capability to address its credit issues might dramatically affect the global economy. (read more)

Crazed Naked Guy Terrorizes New York City Subway Passengers -- We'll be seeing a lot more of this soon



A crazed naked man seen menacing New York City subway passengers on a scary new viral video was handcuffed and transported to a Bronx hospital last week, but not charged in connection with the bizarre incident, according to police.

Warning: The above video contains profanity and nudity and is NSFW.

The man’s May 2 outburst occurred on a northbound 6 train in the Hunts Point Avenue station in the south Bronx. As seen in the video, which was originally uploaded to YouTube by a straphanger, the man yelled racial and ethnic slurs as he finished removing his pants.

After hurling himself into a set of doors, the man took off his boxer shorts, which elicited squeals from shocked observers. As a police officer was talking on his radio, the man bolted from the subway car and accosted a woman walking up a stairway. After slamming a package of hers to the ground, he lunged at a man walking perilously close to a platform edge.

With the help of some male onlookers, the cop succeeded in wrestling the man to the ground, where he was subdued. A police spokesman told TSG that the man, 41, was treated as an emotionally disturbed person and transported in custody to Lincoln Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

The Transit District 12 officer with whom he grappled suffered a minor injury for which he was treated and released at Jacobi Hospital, the spokesman added. (Source)

Forbes Predicts U.S. Gold Standard Within 5 Years

A return to the gold standard by the United States within the next five years now seems likely, because that move would help the nation solve a variety of economic, fiscal, and monetary ills, Steve Forbes predicted during an exclusive interview this week with HUMAN EVENTS.

“What seems astonishing today could become conventional wisdom in a short period of time,” Forbes said.

Such a move would help to stabilize the value of the dollar, restore confidence among foreign investors in U.S. government bonds, and discourage reckless federal spending, the media mogul and former presidential candidate said. The United States used gold as the basis for valuing the U.S. dollar successfully for roughly 180 years before President Richard Nixon embarked upon an experiment to end the practice in the 1970s that has contributed to a number of woes that the country is suffering from now, Forbes added.

If the gold standard had been in place in recent years, the value of the U.S. dollar would not have weakened as it has and excessive federal spending would have been curbed, Forbes told HUMAN EVENTS. The constantly changing value of the U.S. dollar leads to marketplace uncertainty and consequently spurs speculation in commodity investing as a hedge against inflation. (read more)

Bolivian boy, Franklin Villca Huanaco, in search of mother ends up in Chile in 1000 mile journey hidden in back of truck

A 10-year-old boy who fled his Bolivian home to find his mother has mistakenly ended up in Chile, travelling 1,000km (621 miles) by truck.

Franklin Villca Huanaco attempted to reach his mother in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she had been serving a prison sentence, authorities said.

He made the two-day journey concealed in a metal container in a truck he believed to be on the way to the city.

The driver, who was bound for Iquique, Chile, was unaware of the stowaway.

The boy hid in a container roughly the length of his body, attached to the underside of the truck, reports say.

Authorities said he had been lucky to survive without food and water and the low night-time temperatures in Bolivia's highlands.

Franklin was found wandering the streets near Iquique and has been taken in by a local family.

He had been living with his father and siblings in Oruro, Bolivia, following his mother's imprisonment for transporting chemicals used to make cocaine, authorities say. (read more)

More-than-expected damage found at Japan reactor

One of the reactors at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant has been damaged more severely than originally thought, officials said Thursday - a serious setback for efforts to stabilize the radiation-leaking complex.

Repairs to monitoring equipment revealed the new data, which also showed that the water level in the core of Unit 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is much lower than previously thought, leaving the portion of the fuel rods still intact fully exposed. Other fuel has slumped to the bottom of the pressure vessel and is thought to be covered in water.

The findings also indicate a greater-than-expected leak in that vessel. Radioactive water pouring from troubled reactors has pooled around the complex, hindering work to bring the plant under control. (read more)

Nasa simulates journey to an asteroid by rigging up giant rock underwater - 10th May 2011

Sending astronauts on a mission to land on an asteroid formed the centrepiece of the 1998 blockbuster Armageddon.

But, in reality, exploring a giant rock in outer space is likely to be somewhat more complicated.

For this reason, a Nasa team is simulating a journey to an asteroid by heading underwater.

The scientists and engineers are today heading to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius Underwater Laboratory near Key Largo, Florida, to work through some of the concepts that will be tested.

The Nasa Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) researchers will investigate three stages of a mission to an asteroid - how to anchor to the surface, how to move around, and how best to collect data.

'Even experts don't know what the surface of an asteroid is going to be like,' said NEEMO project manager Bill Todd. Read More

Shark Discovered 100 Miles Inland - 11th May 2011

Clovis resident, John Herrera, got the shock of a lifetime Tuesday afternoon when he walked outside and saw a shark in a small canal.

"I just looked down and saw a big, old fish," said Herrera.

The 3 1/2 foot Leopard shark was already dead.

"It was upside down, floating, so I just crawled in right there and pulled it out by its tail," said Herrera.

Once the shark was out on display, dozens of intrigued neighbors, like Brett Morris, gathered to see the odd sight.

"I noticed there was a shark on the sidewalk so I just had to jump out and check it out. It was pretty amazing," said Morris, who lives near the canal.

Clovis Police Animal Services officers picked up the dead shark and will dispose of it. No one may ever know if the shark was dead or alive when someone dumped it and police are not looking into the case.

"There's no evidence. It's not like you're going to get fingerprints from the fish," said Janet Stoll-Lee, spokesperson for the Clovis Police Department.

Leopard sharks are not a danger to humans and it's not illegal to have one as a pet. Source

Hispanic-Only FIU Mayoral Debate Draws Harsh Criticism: Miami, US

A Miami-Dade mayoral candidate along with students are expected to protest a campaign forum Wednesday to express their outrage and disapproval of FIU hosting a Spanish-only event.

The debate, held at FIU’s Wertheim Theatre, broadcast by Univision radio and set for rebroadcast by Univision channel 23 television, was open only to candidates Julio Robaina, Marcelo Llorente, Carlos Gimenez and Jose “Pepe” Cancio.

“I was appalled,” said Luther Campbell, a former rap star and African American candidate for mayor. “The university is having a Cuban-only forum, which is wrong to the students, because the students are from all different races and all different cultures and all the students don’t speak only Spanish.” (read more)

Breaking News: 5.3 Magnitude Earthquake Murcia, Spain - UPDATE: at Least 10 Dead- 11th May 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck Murcia, Spain at a depth of 1 km (0.6 miles), the quake hit at 16:47:26 UTC Wednesday 11th May 2011.
The epicenter was 50 km (31 miles) Murcia, Spain
more to follow.....

This earthquake was not the first quake to hit the area today, at 15:05:12 UTC a 4.5 Magnitude Earthquake struck Murcia, Spain at a Depth of 10 km (6.2 Miles) which resulted in some damage to buildings in Lorca, Murcia.

Lorca residents rushed into the Street in Panic with the memory fresh in their minds of the 4.7 Magnitude Earthquake that struck the Region, which resulted in the damage of nearly 1000 homes.

It has been reported that the Local Mayor has said that 5 Poeple have died.

Update: Eyewitnesses are reporting seeing The Tower of the Church of Santiago split in half.

Update: At Least 7 people are reported to have died following the 4.5 and 5.3 Magnitude Earthquakes

Update: 7 Deaths have been confirmed with many more injured, at least half of the Belfry of the 'Church if Santiago' have been destroyed.. According to CATDAT they predict the damage will exceed the damage caused by the 1999 and the 2005 Earthquake.

Update: 'Hospital Rafael Mendez' has been evacuated as a result of the Earthquakes as well as a home for the elderly.

Update: This could be lost in Translation: Authorities have warned of of the fall of the tower 'Virgen de las Huertas' (I am not sure if it's in danger of falling or it has already fallen, will update when I know for sure)

The earthquake has caused damage to Historical Heritage sites as well as many homes and buildings.

Update: Reports are coming in that at least 10 people have been killed and many more injured.

Cannibal's "dinner" calls police for rescue -- what is responsible for such twisted behavior?

A CANNIBAL has been arrested after his "dinner guest" changed his mind and called the cops.

The would-be victim from Switzerland answered an internet advert from the 43-year-old man seeking someone who would agree to be killed, cooked and eaten.

He claims he thought the offer — posted by a man in Slovakia — was nothing more than a "macabre fantasy game".

But he said after speaking to the unnamed man on the phone, he realised he was "deadly serious".

He alerted Swiss police who informed their Slovakian counterparts on Monday.

The cops sent in an undercover officer posing as the victim in a sting operation to catch the suspected flesh-eater.

But as officers attempted to arrest the man yesterday, in the north-eastern village of Kysak, a gunfight broke out and the man and a cop were shot.

A Kysak police spokesman said: "It appears this man was genuinely seeking to eat someone.

"His advert said he wanted someone who would agree to be put to sleep then killed, cut up, cooked and eaten." (read more)

Mississippi Floodwaters pour toward 'last place on Earth that needs high water'

The swollen Mississippi River rolled south Wednesday, swamping emptied-out towns and businesses, and threatening untold damage to areas still recovering from a series of natural disasters.

In Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, authorities and residents braced for the days ahead.

"I went through (Hurricane) Katrina," said Lynn Magnuson, a New Orleans resident. "I would not wish flooding on anyone, and this city is the last place on Earth that needs any more high water."

The river crested Tuesday at Memphis, just short of a record set in 1937.

The river in Memphis measured 47.8 feet Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

In Natchez, Mississippi, the river surpassed its record early Wednesday, exceeding 58 feet. Forecasts predict the river will crest in Natchez on May 21 at an overwhelming 64 feet.

Mississippi has already had to close some of its casinos at Tunica, a key economic driver in that part of the state, as flood waters seeped in.

About 600 people in the Tunica community of Cutoff have been driven from their homes, said Larry Liddell, a county spokesman.

"We're just watching and waiting," he said.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal said as many as 3 million acres could be affected by the flooding. Some 500 National Guard members have been mobilized so far and 21 parishes have issued emergency declarations.

The river's crest is expected to begin arriving in Louisiana next week. Flooding is expected to be a major setback in the southern part of the state. (read more)

Is May 21 Judgement Day? Fact or fiction (and posted simply because everyone keeps mentioning it over and over)

If the signs are to be believed, the end of the world as we know it starts on May 21.

Billboards are popping up around the globe, including in major Canadian cities, proclaiming May 21 as Judgment Day. "Cry mightily unto GOD for HIS mercy," says one of the mounted signs from Family Radio, a California-based sectarian Christian group that is sending one if its four travelling caravans of believers into Vancouver and Calgary within the next 10 days.

Family Radio's website is blunt in its prediction of Judgment Day and the rolling earthquake that will mark the beginning of the end. "The Bible guarantees it!" the site proclaims, under a passage from the book of Ezekiel, which says "blow the trumpet … warn the people."

Richard Ascough, a professor in the School of Religion at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., has been watching Family Radio's campaign, and fully expects life as we know it to continue on May 22.

He has seen other apocalyptic predictions come and go, but Family Radio's differs in a notable way: it isn't accompanied by a bold, up-front request for money. And that's worrisome, in his mind.

"I think they really believe it's going to happen," Ascough said in an interview Tuesday.

Some questions to be asked:

1) How have these people altered their lives because of this prediction?

2) What will these people do should the event not take place?

3) Can we learn anything from these situations when we're confronted with equally as startling (and sometimes nebulous) issues such as, say, birth certificates and death reports -- how can we better draw the line between fact and fiction?

Toyota Q4 earnings tumble 75% as Japan's woes continue

Toyota's quarterly profit crumpled more than 75 per cent after the March earthquake and tsunami wiped out parts suppliers in northeastern Japan, severely disrupting car production.

The maker of the popular Prius hybrid gave no forecast for the current fiscal year through March 2012, citing an uncertain outlook because production continues to be hampered by shortages of parts. Toyota is expected to lose its spot as the world's top-selling automaker to General Motors Co. this year because of the disasters.

The automaker's president Akio Toyoda said he and others at Toyota are "gritting our teeth" to keep jobs in Japan. He promised to disclose earnings forecasts by mid-June.

Toyota Motor Corp. reported Wednesday that January-March profit slid to 25.4 billion yen ($301.2 million Cdn) from 112.2 billion yen a year earlier. For the fiscal year ended March 2011, Toyota's earnings doubled, showing that the Japanese automaker had been on the way to recovery from its recall crisis when the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck on March 11.

But Toyota also said efforts to fix production, including using other plants and finding replacement parts, were going better than initially expected, with car manufacturing expected to gradually pick up in Japan and abroad from next month to 70 per cent of pre-disaster levels.

Toyota earlier said such production improvements wouldn't start in Japan until about July, and overseas in August, with a full recovery not expected until late this year. (read more)

Yemeni security forces fire on protestors, killing 3

Three people were killed and four others critically wounded Wednesday when Yemeni security forces shot live ammunition at protesters in the city of Taiz, according to doctors and eyewitnesses

"The attack took place while we were chanting, 'One more week left for you, Saleh,'" said Sabir Ali, a protester in Taiz. The protesters were giving President Ali Abdullah Saleh a week to step down, saying if he does not, they will make good on a vow to march to the presidential palace.

A senior security official denied that forces fired on protesters.

"Security forces were preventing attacks on civilians led by gangs of the opposition," the official said. "Security forces did not shoot at protesters. Gangs of the JMP were the shooters." The JMP stands for the joint meeting parties, a coalition of opposition parties.

"Security forces kill people, then deny the incident," said Ahmad Bahri, head of the political office at the opposition Haq party. "This is why the Yemeni revolution is taking place."

He said the protesters were unarmed and were marching peacefully when they were shot. Those who died were shot in the head, Bahri said.

Protesters calling themselves Revolution Youth had called for a civil disobedience day on Wednesday. More than 95 percent of the shops in Taiz were closed, according to eyewitnesses. (read more)

Crab Nebula's gamma-ray flare mystifies astronomers -- it's the largest yet

The Crab Nebula has shocked astronomers by emitting an unprecedented blast of gamma rays, the highest-energy light in the Universe.

The cause of the 12 April gamma-ray flare, described at the Third Fermi Symposium in Rome, is a total mystery.

It seems to have come from a small area of the famous nebula, which is the wreckage from an exploded star.

The object has long been considered a steady source of light, but the Fermi telescope hints at greater activity.

The gamma-ray emission lasted for some six days, hitting levels 30 times higher than normal and varying at times from hour to hour.

While the sky abounds with light across all parts of the spectrum, Nasa's Fermi space observatory is designed to measure only the most energetic light: gamma rays.

These emanate from the Universe's most extreme environments and violent processes.

The Crab Nebula is composed mainly of the remnant of a supernova, which was seen on Earth to rip itself apart in the year 1054.

At the heart of the brilliantly coloured gas cloud we can see in visible light, there is a pulsar - a rapidly spinning neutron star that emits radio waves which sweep past the Earth 30 times per second. But so far none of the nebula's known components can explain the signal Fermi sees, said Roger Blandford, director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, US.

"The origin of these high-energy gamma rays has to be some other source," he told BBC News. (read more)

Households face 'worst year for finances since 1977: UK

The typical household will see its disposable income fall by 2 per cent this year, the equivalent of £780, one of Britain's best-known economists warned today, and will have to wait until 2015 to see its finances recover to the peak seen at the end of 2009.

Roger Bootle, a former government adviser who now works with Deloitte, the accountancy firm, predicted that 2011 would be the worst year for household finances since 1977 – and added that if interest rates were to rise, British families would not have seen conditions deteriorate so badly since 1952.

Mr Bootle's warning, published in Deloitte's latest economic review, reflects the impact of higher inflation and taxes on people's incomes, as well as increased joblessness, with the economist not optimistic that the private sector is capable of offering works to all those likely to be laid off by the public sector this year.

"Real incomes do not provide the definitive picture as to the health of households' finances, but taking a broader look at households' finances arguably leaves the position looking even worse," said Mr Bootle. "I think this year will see falling real earnings, falling real house prices and rising unemployment."

In addition to higher income taxes for most people in work, Deloitte pointed to the fact that inflation is running at 4 per cent, much faster than the rate at which pay rises are being awarded. While inflation is expected to fall back before the end of 2011, it may not be until 2012 that wage increases catch up.

The warning will worry already cash-strapped households, but also represents a headache for the economy, which continues to be highly reliant on consumer spending. The impact of the squeeze on household finances is already being felt on the high street, with retail sales having fallen back in recent months, prompting a string of retailers to issue profit warnings. (read more)

North Korean political prison camps growing

A rights group has published satellite images of what it says are North Korea's political prison camps, saying they appear to be growing in size.

In a linked report, Amnesty International also provides new witness testimony to shed light on the conditions in the camps.

The document details accounts of torture, starvation and mass executions of political inmates.

Amnesty has urged the secretive state to immediately close all the camps.

It also calls on Pyongyang to publicly admit the existence of the camps.

The North Korean government - which has denied the existence of mass political prison camps - has not publicly commented on the report's findings.

'Eating rats'

The new images show four of the six camps occupying huge areas of land in vast wilderness sites in the provinces of South Pyongan, South Hamkyung and North Hamkyung, Amnesty says.

A comparison of the latest pictures with satellite imagery from 2001 indicates "a significant increase in the scale of the camps", it adds. (read more)

Scourge of inequality is getting worse and worse

Here’s an instructive graphic (click to enlarge), produced for social affairs ministers at an OECD seminar in Paris over the last few days on rising income inequality. You don’t need the OECD to tell you that extreme social inequality is a growing scourge, and that it tends to be highest as far as advanced economies are concerned in the English speaking nations, particularly the US and the UK.

But what this chart shows is that it is growing almost everywhere, and that includes places where you least expect to find it. Countries such as Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Finland, which traditionally have had low inequality, are no longer spared from the trend. In fact, they’ve all had a rather bigger increase in inequality than even the UK over the past twenty years. Levels of inequality seem to be converging at a common and higher average.

We can only guess at what the figures look like for the non OECD developing nations of the world. Despite huge economic progress, already high inequality in China and India will have been growing even faster than it has in the advanced economies. (read more)

How corporations steal land. 'Caught in the act' Continue reading on Examiner.com: How corporations steal land: 'Caught in the act' Video


How Native Title is being Stolen: We are all Indigenous

Globally, from south Louisiana Gulf oil country, to Glen Gove Sacred Burial Grounds, to New Zealand ocean waters and remote Aboriginal communities throughout Australia, energy-related corporations are stealing land and water, often backed by government, often with covert or overt military force. A set of carefully applied tactics are applied for this thievery but the result is the same: advance of Full Spectrum Dominance and Agenda 21.

Energy corporate sham and theft of Native Title land from Indigenous Peoples often begins and ends the same as theft of non-Indigenous Peoples.

In summary of the recent Aboriginal Native Title "agreement" on April 16:

Everyone is talking about the meeting that was held at Roebourne on March 16. FMG says the Yindjibarndi people voted overwhelmingly to work with the company. We dispute this, the meeting was a sham and anyone who has watched our video can see that for themselves. We are seeking legal advice from our lawyers at Slater & Gordon as to the validity of that meeting and its outcome.

The land for energy resources theft typically begins with a "meeting" staged by a corporate leader. Corporate representatives descend on the community, sometimes after already having secret meetings and deals with key community members, and dictate the meeting.

Then, the divide and rule tactic is applied to cause disharmony in the community, making it easier to control.

Bullying and other unscrupulous actions are used to coerce the indigenous community members to submit.

Threatening to file a lawsuit is used when all else fails.

And, often, to cut to the chase, military force is applied, such as when military took control of the Gulf of Mexico and martial law was declared only on Aboriginal communities in Australia's uranium rich country in the Uluru (Ayers Rock) vicinity. This heavy-handed military tactic was used under guise of child sex offense rates, no higher than in white communities. It followed a government report, "Little Children are Sacred."

Uranium mined in Australia is shipped to the U.S. for nuclear weapons.

Or take the incident in Brazil for another example, one in which chemical spraying on the people was sued, such as used on Gulf Peoples. In June, 2010, this news writer reported:

"Heavily armed petro-chemical armed forces have murdered, threatened and forcibly removed from their homeland oppressed Indigenous men, women and children in Brazil. Over the past 19 days, an estimated 800 people have been attacked in ongoing raids spear-headed by the oil giant, Repsol YPF SA (Respol)." (read more)

Fraccidents: Geoengineered environmental disasters (fracking)

The unprecedented gas drilling boom occurring across United States, damaging individual health, communities, and farmlands by the controversial technology called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" is a form of geo-engineering causing environmental disasters called "fraccidents," often unseen and considered "mysterious," sometimes disastrous, and too often deadly.

Geo-engineering, the artificial modification of the earth's climate systems, is an environment modification (ENMOD) science for the "deliberate manipulation of natural processes - the dynamics, composition or structure of the Earth, including its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, or of outer space that can be applied as a weapon of mass destruction." ("Geo-engineers at annual conference to face human rights defender rally (videos)," Dupré, D. National Human Rights | Examiner.com)

"Fraccident" is a term coined by Earth Justice to refer to "troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters and explosions" caused by oil and gas geo-engineering.

Earth Justice defines fracking as follows:

"Fracking is a dangerous way of getting oil and gas and a shortsighted energy strategy. It's poisoning our air and water. We can find a better way—one that protects our health and gives us clean, safe energy sources that never run out."

Residents in the state of Arkansas have recorded over 1100 earthquakes attributed to fracking.

A New York Times series launched February 27 detailed fracking radioactive wastewater, "another Halliburton-developed extraordinaire called 'fracking,' dumping radiation with impunity across the country, an issue environmental attorney Stuart Smith is taking on. (read more)

Greece launches massive fire sale to service growing debt as riot police clash with violent protesters - 11th May 2011

Marinas, casinos and former Olympic venues could be up for grabs after Greece announced a massive fire sale to help service its debt.

The Greek government said it was putting vast areas of state-owned land on the market to raise £44billion in the next four years.

Nationalised companies could also be privatised to help raise the necessary capital to ensure it does not default on debt payments.

It comes after intense pressure from Britain and other creditors to act to prevent debt restructuring that could have widespread effects across Europe.

British Chancellor George Osborne told The Times: 'The issue for Greece is whether it lives up to its commitments.'

Officials have said there is a political drive to ensure Greece can service its debt after a 110billion euro bailout by the EU and IMF last year.

A general strike held today has seen most public services grind to a halt across the country, while thousands marched through Athens to protest against harsh austerity measures.

The socialist government is planning to pass further cutbacks aimed at saving an estimated 23billion euros.

The strike suspended all train and ferry services, grounded flights for four hours and disrupted public transport in the capital. Read More

Rome: Streets of Italian capital empty after 1915 prediction of ‘big one’ earthquake

Tourists heading to Rome may find it a little less chaotic than usual today - that's because hundreds of people are taking the day off following a prediction of a huge earthquake.

Businesses have reported requests from one in five people to have time off work and many are also keeping children away from school and heading to the beach or country for the day.

With memories still vivid of March's tremor in Japan and an earthquake in the Italian city of L'Aquila in 2009, which killed 300 people, it is understandable so many people are taking the warning seriously.

But the panic has not been caused by a recent prediction - it is based on a forecast made in 1915 by seismologist Raffaele Bendandi who said that a ‘big one’ would hit Rome on May 11, 2011.

And by noon today more than 22 earthquakes had struck Italy. But none was the devastating tremor predicted for Rome.

But this seismic activity is nothing out of the ordinary - on average, there are 30 earthquakes registered every day in Italy, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology.

But many Romans - fanned by SMS, Facebook and Twitter messages - are talking of little else, and leaving little to chance.

Local newspapers have even been publishing survival guides with tips of what to do if the ground starts to tremble. Read More

Hailstorm produces poolball-sized hail near Garrison - 11th May 2011

Jimmy Lee, a Daggett Brook Township resident, had a rude awakening Tuesday morning.

About 5:30 a.m., a small but powerful thunderstorm passed over his residence at Crow Wing County Road 2 and Highway 25, dropping hail as big as 2.5 inches in diameter.

The sound of the hail battering his house woke Lee and his wife. The impact of the hail on the soft ground was strong enough to leave holes behind, he said.

“It was just unreal,” Lee said. “I’ve never seen hail like that in my life and I’ve been around quite a while.”

Lee said he was having his roof looked at for damage. He wasn’t aware of any other damage to his property, but said when he talked to his insurance company Tuesday they said they’ve had a lot of calls about vehicle damage in southern Crow Wing County.

Alex Lamers, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth reported, said the thunderstorm formed over southern Crow Wing County, moved to the northeast and dissipated just north of Lake Mille Lacs.

John Bowen, Crow Wing County emergency management director, said the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department received a report of golf ball size hail from a resident on Crow Wing County Road 130. A weather spotter in Fort Ripley reported to the weather service hail 1-inch in diameter.

The Storm Prediction Center lists a slight risk for strong thunderstorms over central Minnesota into Wednesday, with a risk of supercells forming with large hail and possibly damaging winds and a few tornados. Read More

Nuclear Event - Dutch intercept 19 radioactive containers from Japan - 11th May 2011

THE HAGUE—Nineteen containers from Japan showing traces of radioactivity have been intercepted in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, Dutch health authorities said on Tuesday.

Five of the 19 containers showed radioactive levels above allowed standards, the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (nVWA) added.

"We have intercepted 19 containers," nVWA spokeswoman Marian Bestelink told AFP.

"We let 14 go because they showed contamination levels far below the allowed standards," of four becquerel per square centimeter, she said.

A becquerel (Bq) is the international unit used to measure radiation given off by a source.

"Five other containers were isolated because the contamination was above permittable levels," the nVWA said in a statement.

After investigation it showed the contamination level of one of the containers to be at an average of 6Bq per square centimeter.

Contamination levels on the other four containers were still being investigated, the nVWA said.

The containers would be cleaned and another reading taken. They would be released as soon as levels dropped below permittable levels.

The European Union decided on April 15 to strengthen controls to measure radioactivity on board ships arriving from Japan after the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima power plant on March 11.

"Containers from Japan will be controlled for as long as necessary," the nVWA said. Source

Dumped, dazed and distressed: The six fox cubs left to die in a cramped barrel - 11th May 2011

These six fox cubs were discovered fighting for their lives after being squashed inside a screw-topped plastic barrel. Five more were in another barrel and seven cubs had been trapped inside a sack, which had been tied shut.

In all 18 cubs had been dumped and left to die in a ditch in Spalding, Lincolnshire - but luckily a member of the public stumbled across the defenceless animals.

RSPCA inspector Jon Knight described the incident as one of the most appalling and distressing he has ever seen.

After the foxes were discovered on April 25 he said: 'I could not believe my eyes when I saw the poor fox cubs crammed together inside the barrels and the sack.

'Had they not been discovered then it is clear they would have perished very quickly.

'They could hardly move, and obviously had no access to food and water.

'This was one of the most distressing incidents I have ever been involved with.'

The foxes were extremely dehydrated. Three bags of shredded rubbish were also left at the scene and contained soiled shredded paper and bird and rabbit remains.

A fourth bag with maggot-infested bird remains was also found. Read More

Is Gaddafi still alive? Nato admit they're unsure if tyrant survived heaviest bombing raid in weeks... but insist: 'We're not targeting him' -11th May

Nato has been forced to deny that bombing raids on Libya last night were aimed at killing Colonel Gaddafi - but added that they did not know if the dictator was dead or alive.

The Libyan leader's compound in Tripoli was hit by eight missile strikes overnight during the heaviest bombing for several weeks.

But today, Brigadier General Claudio Gabellini insisted that the latest raids were aimed at command and control centres used by the regime to direct attacks against civilians.

'All Nato targets are military targets, which means that the targets we've been hitting are command and control bunkers,' Gabellini told reporters at a press briefing.

'Nato is not targeting individuals,' he said from the operation's headquarters in Naples, Italy.

Asked whether Gaddafi was still alive,he said: 'We don't have any evidence. We don't know what Gaddafi is doing right now.'

He added: 'To tell you the truth, we are not really interested in what he's doing. Our mandate is to protect civilians from attacks or from the threats of attacks. Read More

EU to keep files on all air passengers (and that includes what they EAT on flights) - 11th May 2011

Millions of holidaymakers will have their personal details tracked on huge databases thanks to the latest EU diktat.

Countries will be expected to record air passengers’ information, including who they travelled with, the price they paid for a ticket, and even any meal requests they made.

EU member states would then be able to trawl their neighbours’ data to check for links to terrorism or other criminality.

Immigration Minister Damian Green admitted the directive would spark concerns about sovereignty, but insisted the databases would help to keep the UK safe.

However, Eurosceptics accused ministers of presiding over a ‘blizzard’ of ‘undemocratic’ opt-ins to controversial EU legislation.

The move follows anger over the Coalition’s decision last year to join the European Investigation Order, which allows member states to instruct British police to carry out spying missions on their behalf. Read More

Robert Brown, 47, a BA pilot killed wealthy wife 'because he felt cheated by prenup agreement' - 11th May 2011

A British Airways pilot killed his wealthy wife and buried her body in a pre-prepared grave because he thought he had been ‘stitched up’ by a prenuptial agreement, a court heard yesterday.

Robert Brown, 47, battered his estranged wife over the head with a camping mallet as their young children cowered in a room off the hallway of their £3million mansion and buried her at Windsor Great Park, it was alleged.

Brown believed millionairess Joanna, 46, ‘deliberately concealed the extent of her wealth’ and convinced himself their marriage had been a ‘sham’.

During the attack in the Ascot mansion, the couple’s frightened children – a boy of nine and an 11-year-old girl – could hear the blows.

Brown wrapped his wife’s body in plastic sheeting and bundled it into the boot of his 4x4 Volvo, it was said.

The long-haul pilot then put his tearful children into the car and drove to his rented home in nearby Winkfield.

He asked his French girlfriend, Stephanie Bellemere, a BA stewardess, to look after the children before driving to a remote part of Windsor Great Park, the court heard.

There the defendant allegedly lowered Mrs Brown’s body into a large plastic crate which had been buried in a grave ‘a matter of weeks earlier’.

The spot where her body was found is near Legoland theme park and a few hundred yards from the £800,000 house that Brown had been renting.

At Reading Crown Court yesterday, Brown admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denied murder.

Opening the case, prosecutor Graham Reeds QC said the pre-nuptial agreement Brown signed when the couple married in 1999 caused ‘continuing resentment’.

By 2007, their relationship had fallen apart and ‘divorce proceedings were, by any standard, acrimonious and bitterly contested’, he said.

The prenuptial agreement meant Brown had no claim on the ownership of Tun Cottage, the £3million marital home, even though he invested £200,000 to turn it into an upmarket bed-and-breakfast hotel.

The agreement also gave him no claim to the millions his wife had inherited when her property-developer father died. Read More

Turkey's Kütahya at major risk from potential cyanide spill, experts say - 9th May 2011

The building of a new dam to contain pools of cyanide-contaminated water at a silver mining facility in western Turkey is not a permanent solution, experts said Monday following the partial collapse of the existing dam.

The failure of two embankments at the three-stage dam in Kütahya province over the weekend threatens to turn into the most dangerous environmental crisis Turkey has faced thus far, Güven Eken, the chairman of the environmental Doğa Association, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday.

Without sufficient intervention, the failure of the dam could increase pollution levels 100-fold, Eken said.

“This will neither be the first incident nor the last in Turkey. The existing mentality on the environment lays the ground for such disasters,” he said. “The Environment and Forestry Ministry said precautions have been taken, but it is too late to take precautions. Precautions are for problems that have not yet been formed. Now, intervention is required.”

Environment Minister Veysel Eroğlu visited the scene of the incident and said there is no leak except from the pools. “There is no leak or mixture of cyanide waste anywhere except from the pools. It is a problem between the pools themselves and there is no leak outside. The technical staff [of the facility] is taking the [necessary] precautions and following the developments closely,” he said.

The minister proposed that a comprehensive rescue and action plan be immediately prepared that would address who would take care of the economic expenses if people have to be evacuated from neighboring villages. He also said the use of underground water in the area should be evaluated from sociological, ecological and economic dimensions. Read More

Hailstorm the Size of Golf Balls disrupts Minneapolis Twins game - 10th May 2011

A game between the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers was delayed Tuesday by a storm that deposited golf ball-sized hail over downtown Minneapolis.

A quick-developing storm system accompanied by tornadoes and strong straight-line winds blew over Target Field with little warning about 8:20 p.m., while the game was in the bottom of the fourth inning with the Tigers leading 5-0.

Ice chunks quickly began covering the field and fans began running for cover. The hailstones got bigger within minutes, and soon pieces the size of golf balls and even larger blanketed the field.

Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla, a native of the Dominican Republic, remained in the Twins dugout along with a few teammates to marvel at the sight.

Casilla told Fox Sports North he had never seen hail before.

Twins grounds crew members indicated no one on the staff had ever dealt with large hailstones on the field, now in just its second season.

Crews used debris blowers to clear the field of ice and the game was resumed after a delay of 1 hour, 4 minutes. Read More

Milly Dowler, 13, 'was snatched off the street in the blink of an eye by killer Levi Bellfield' - 11th May 2011

She was walking home alone on a bright spring day – a 13-year-old girl in her blue school uniform and her hair in a ponytail.

Milly Dowler had just said goodbye to her friends and had less than a mile to go to her home.

Then she vanished: ‘Gone in the blink of an eye,’ a jury was told yesterday.

The innocent young schoolgirl – ‘slim, pretty and intelligent’ – vanished from a suburban street in broad daylight.

For six months, her mother and father lived through the agony of uncertainty, not knowing their little girl’s fate.

But ‘every parent’s nightmare’ came to a tragic end when her naked, decomposed body was found dumped in undergrowth 25 miles away.

She had been kidnapped and murdered, the prosecution said, by serial attacker Levi Bellfield, a former bouncer and wheel-clamper who went on to kill two other young women – Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell – and attempted to murder a third, Kate Sheedy.

The previous day he had tried to abduct another homebound schoolgirl from the same area of Surrey where Milly and her family lived, Brian Altman, QC, said.

Rachel Cowles, just short of her 12th birthday, escaped with her life probably because Bellfield was ‘spooked’ by a passing police car as he tried to trick her into the red Daewoo he was driving, the barrister said.

But next afternoon the balding father of two, who was staying in a flat only yards away, snatched Milly from the street, he claimed. Read More

Michelle Martin, 51, the 'remorseless' ex-wife of Belgian child killer Marc Dutroux is released from jail to spend next decade in a convent -11th May

The ‘evil’ ex-wife of one of Europe’s most reviled child killers will spend the next ten years in a convent after being released halfway through her 30-year jail term.

Michelle Martin, 51, has served only half her 30-year jail term for complicity in the imprisonment and murder of the young victims of her serial killer husband Marc Dutroux.

Families of Dutroux’s victims have said the Belgian court in Mons is ‘allowing a monster out into society’ by ordering her release.

She will spend her ten-year probation period in an overseas convent - at her own request.

Dutroux was arrested in 1996 and jailed for life in June 2004 for the kidnapping, rape and torture of six young girls in the mid-1990s, four of whom died.

Martin was also arrested in 1996 and later found guilty of helping Dutroux imprison his victims prisoner.

She was also convicted of complicity in the death of two of the small girls, found starved to death in a cellar in the southern city of Charleroi.

The traumatic case is still fresh in the minds of many in Belgium, which is also reeling from a Catholic church child abuse scandal involving more than 500 victims.

Under Belgian law, convicts can appeal for early release after serving a third of their sentence.

Prosecutors are planning to appeal against the controversial decision to free Martin at a higher court today.

She will remain behind bars until a final decision is made.

Outraged Jean-Denis Lejeune, mother of Julie Lejeune, one of the two eight-year-olds found in Dutroux’s cellar, said: 'She murdered my daughter, 15 years seems light.

'I cannot believe we are allowing a monster out into society.' Read More

Christina Choate: "My father kept my little brother in a dog cage for two years... until I found him Dead" - 11th May 2011

(Image) Disappeared without trace: The body of Christian Choate, 13, from Gary, Indiana, was unearthed from a shallow grave by police.

The sister of a 13-year-old boy who died and was secretly buried after allegedly spending up to two years locked in a dog cage has told of the horrifying moment she found his body.

Christina Choate, now 17, said she found her brother dead, lying curled up in a cage inside their mobile home in the Black Oak district of Gary, Indiana in 2009.

She claimed how her father then made her help him secretly bury the child under concrete near their home before moving the family to Kentucky.

She has kept the secret for two years but finally told a relative. Now her father Riley and stepmother Kimberly Kubina have been charged with murder.

Christian Choate's body was discovered last week buried under concrete near the home he shared with his father, stepmother and older sister.

His father, Riley, was initially charged with removing a body from a death scene.

But yesterday he and now ex-wife, Kimberly Kubina, were charged with murder after an autopsy revealed the young boy suffered blunt force trauma, internal bleeding and a skull fracture.

Christian's body lay undiscovered for nearly two years until his sister, Christine, finally revealed the alleged details of his death and secret burial, leading police to launch an investigation. He was never declared missing.

Yesterday Christina claimed how her brother was locked in a dog cage inside the family's home, allowed out only to use the bathroom and to eat.

Christina said her father kept Christian locked up to stop him running away.

She also recounted how her younger brother endured regular and brutal beatings from their father.

She then described the day in April of 2009 that she found her brother dead. Read More

Syrian soldier pictured stamping on handcuffed protesters as international pressure on Middle Eastern regime grows - 11th May 2011

This is the moment a Syrian soldier stamps on the bodies of handcuffed residents who were laid out on the ground during a brutal military crackdown on protests.

Thousands of people had gathered across the Middle Eastern country to voice their anger at the government after prayers on April 15.

In the tiny northwestern village of Baida, dozens of residents were rounded up and handcuffed before being thrown on the ground.

A fellow protester used their mobile phone to record the scenes of violent suppression that have swept through the country since the anti-regime uprisings began a month ago.

The pictures emerged as tanks and troops yesterday rolled into southern villages near the heart of Syria's protests. Two soldiers and five others were reportedly killed today.

A resident said that gunfire and ambulance sirens could be heard as security forces fired shells through the industrial cities of Homs and Daraa. The deaths mark an increasingly violent government's crackdown on protests in the country.

The Syrian military has been sealing off various areas and conducting house-to-house raids in search of people whose names are on wanted lists, with many people fleeing for fear of detention by President Bashar Assad's regime, activists say.

A human rights group reported yesterday that more than 750 people have been killed in the crackdown.

In Washington, U.S. officials said they are edging closer to calling for an end to the Assad family's long rule after its violent suppression of the protests. Read More

Treasury Auctions To Take US Over Debt Ceiling On Monday

The Treasury Department auctioned $56 billion in new debt Tuesday and Wednesday, enough to take the U.S. over its federal debt ceiling when the three- and 10-year notes settle on Monday.

Treasury officials last month flagged May 16 as the day the government would hit the $14.294 trillion debt limit.

The U.S. is selling $72 billion in new debt over three days this week. The Treasury auctioned $32 billion in three-year notes Tuesday and $24 billion in 10-year notes Wednesday, and will sell $16 billion in 30-year bonds Thursday. All of the auctions will settle Monday.

As of Tuesday, total debt subject to the limit was $14.274 trillion, according to the Treasury Department.

The Obama administration has asked Congress to raise the limit, warning that failure to act could lead the government to default by Aug. 2--and could spook investors even before then.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said Monday that any increase in the government's debt limit should be accompanied by trillions of dollars in spending cuts.

"It's true that allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt limit without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and to reform the budget process," he said. (read more)

Obama heckled as he tries to woo Hispanic voters by hailing importance of immigrants to U.S. - 11th May 2011

President Obama was heckled as he made a blatant attempt to woo Hispanic voters today by hailing the importance of immigrants to the American economy.

Speaking in El Paso, Texas, close to Mexican the border, the President pledged to escalate legislation that would offer a pathway to the nation’s millions of illegal immigrants.

But the President also claimed border controls between the U.S. and Mexico had never been more stringent.

Obama said:'We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants - a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s precepts.

'It doesn’t matter where you come from. What matters is that you believe in the ideals on which we were founded, that you believe all of us are equal. In embracing America, you can become American. That is what makes this country great.'

The President was broadly cheered by supporters as he told how immigrants were an essential part of the economic recovery and said he wanted to offer a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.

But he was then heckled as he made reference to the 'fence' between the U.S. and Mexico, with shouts of 'tear it down' from the crowd. Read More

OBAMA'S SPEECH IN QUOTES


'We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants - a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s ideals and America’s precepts.'

'Maybe they [Republicans] will need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.'

'Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, and is an immigrant himself. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rupert Murdoch’s views, but let’s just say he doesn’t have an Obama sticker on his car.'

'This flow of immigrants has helped make this country stronger and more prosperous. We can point to the genius of Einstein, the designs of IM. Pei, the stories of Isaac Asimov, the entire industries that were forged by Andrew Carnegie.'

'That’s the promise of this country - that anyone can write the next chapter in our story. It doesn’t matter where you come from.'

'We’re here at the border because we also recognize that being a nation of laws goes hand in hand with being a nation of immigrants.'

'Look at Intel, look at Google, look at Yahoo, look at eBay. All those great American companies, all the jobs they’ve created, everything that has helped us take leadership in the high-tech industry, every one of those was founded by, guess who, an immigrant.'

'So immigration is not just the right thing to do. It’s smart for our economy.'