Saturday, May 14, 2011

Down Jones Drops 1000 points in mere minutes: The US Financial System nearly collapsed - May 2010; Buried but not forgotten

In one of the most dizzying half-hours in stock market history, the Dow plunged nearly 1,000 points on Thursday, May 6th before bouncing back to close down 347.80 points. This represented the biggest intraday decline since 1987. But what made this crash so absolutely shocking is that it happened in the course of less than an hour. Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. the Dow lost over 700 points before dramatically bouncing back about 600 points. Two of the 30 stocks in the Dow, Procter & Gamble and 3M, plunged more than 30% in just 15 minutes. Accenture went from trading at around 40 dollars a share all the way down to one cent before bouncing back. Traders and investors were left completely stunned and wondering what in the world had just happened.

So what did happen?

The following are some of the most common theories being put forward to explain what happened....

#1) A Bad Trade

It has been widely suggested that a "fat finger trade" was responsible for triggering the panic. According to CNBC, "sources" have told that network that a trader (possibly at Citigroup) entered a "b" for billion instead of an "m" for million in a trade involving Procter & Gamble.

However, Citigroup has already announced that it has found "no evidence" that it was involved in any erroneous trades. In fact, a statement was released in which Citigroup spokesman Stephen Cohen said this....

"At this point, we have no evidence that Citi was involved in any erroneous transaction."

#2) A Computer Glitch

New York Stock Exchange spokesman Rich Adamonis says that "there were a number of erroneous trades" on May 6th, and that these could have been caused by computer error.

And the truth is that trading in the financial markets is more automated and more reliant on computers than it ever has been before. Trading literally moves at lightning speed now, and a number of analysts are warning that the pace of the market is so fast at this point that it is really easy for things to spin out of control very quickly.

But if this was really primarily caused by a "computer glitch", how are investors supposed to have any confidence at all in the market? After all, if a computer error can wipe out half your account in less than an hour, why invest at all?

#3) Cascading Stop Losses

Once the market hits certain technical levels, it is going to automatically start triggering stop loss orders. Once those stop loss orders are triggered, it will push the market down further thus triggering more stop loss orders.

While there have been some protections implemented to guard against this kind of thing, the reality is that it does still happen.

#4) Hackers

Hackers have become more sophisticated and more cunning than ever before. In fact, the bigger a target is, the more enjoyment most hackers get out of taking them down. Is it a possible that someone could have hacked in to the New York Stock Exchange?

#5) Cyberterrorism

Rogue nations and terrorist organizations have been developing their "cyber warfare" capabilities for some time now. We have been repeatedly warned that someday we will see an "Internet 9/11". Could this stock market plunge be a preview of that?

#6) Fear Of The European Debt Crisis Spreading

There are mounting concerns in the financial markets about Greece's financial condition and that the European debt crisis could spread around the globe.

In fact, the Dow has lost 631 points, or more than 5%, in just the last three days amidst worries about the situation in Greece. This represents the biggest three day drop since March 2009. (read more)



Gerald Celente: Gold Standard Won't Save America, War Coming

Stocks fall as European financial crisis expands

Since when does the stock market take its cues from the market for silver, oil and pork bellies? When it's really the dollar that's driving the action.

The stock market rally, which began in August, relied on stronger earnings, rising commodity prices and a weak dollar, said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers. But prices for commodities have dropped by 10 percent this month, and swung wildly over the past week. Oil, for example, was nearly $114 a barrel at the end of April. On Tuesday oil settled at $104, fell, rose and fell again, to close at $99.65 on Friday.

Falling commodity prices are widely blamed for driving down stocks. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has lost 1.9 percent so far in May. Other indexes are down more than 1.5 percent for the month.

It's not simply a case of investors selling because they believe declining oil prices are a sign that the economy is losing strength. Rather, since commodities are mainly traded in dollars, it's the dollar's recent rise that is largely responsible for pushing down commodity prices. If the dollar gains strength against other currencies, it takes fewer dollars to buy the same barrel of oil.

"Suddenly, the dollar is no longer the whipping boy," Wilkinson said. "And if the dollar is no longer the whipping boy, you can no longer count on a commodity-driven rebound to push up the stock market."

Worries over Europe pushed the dollar up nearly 1 percent on Friday and erased the week's gains in the stock market.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 100.17 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 12,595.75. The S&P 500 fell 10.88, or 0.8 percent, to 1,337.77. The Nasdaq lost 34.57, or 1.2 percent, to 2,828.47. The slide turned the Dow and S&P lower for the week. (read more)

US Towns and cities with ravaged revenues are selling municipal treasures to pay the bills

As 2010 drew to a close, the mayor of Newark, N.J., was staring into a budget abyss so deep that he sold 16 city buildings to pay the bills. They included the architecturally significant Newark Symphony Hall and the police and fire headquarters.

In New York, the transit authority may sell its Madison Avenue headquarters, complete with an underground tunnel connected to Grand Central Terminal and air rights to build a skyscraper on top.

And soon, if state legislators have their way, private investors will be able to buy plenty of other municipal treasures: power plants in Wisconsin, prisons in Louisiana and Ohio and municipal buildings in Boston.

The Great Government Tag Sale is on. As states and cities struggle with billions of dollars in shortfalls, elected officials are increasingly selling public assets to cover their costs. Sometimes municipalities sell the buildings to pocket a one-time pile of cash and then lease them back so they can continue to use them.

To proponents, selling government property is an efficient way to plug budget holes. That's one reason the Obama administration has looked at unloading office towers, courthouses, warehouses and shacks. Private owners who develop the properties can inject vibrancy into municipal dead zones, the thinking goes. Buildings that were once exempt from property taxes are put back on the rolls.

But to critics, these sales are as misguided as pulling money out of your house to pay your bills. They point out that the government is letting go of a long-term, valuable asset in exchange for a one-time payment. When the asset is a building, a municipality then has to spend more money on leasing it back or renting another facility.

"This is tantamount to selling the family china only to have to rent it back in order to eat dinner," says economist Yves Smith, author of the top-rated business blog Naked Capitalism. (read more)

U.S. default could prompt new recession: And the understatement of the year award goes to...

The United States could plunge back into recession if inaction in Washington forced a debt default, according to a new analysis that arrives as the country reaches the legal limits of its borrowing authority.

Some 640,000 U.S. jobs would vanish, the housing market's woes would deepen, stocks would fall and lending activity would tighten if the country were unable to pay its bills, according to a report by the centrist think tank Third Way due out on Monday.

The Treasury Department is expected to hit its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit on Monday, making it unable to access the bond markets again. Lawmakers from both parties say they won't approve a further increase in borrowing authority without steps to keep debt under control.

But observers do not expect a deal to emerge for several months.

The Treasury Department says it can stave off default until August 2 by drawing on other pots of money to pay its bills.

Treasury officials have warned of "catastrophic" consequences if Congress does not approve a further debt-ceiling increase by then, but have declined to say exactly what would happen. (read more)

Pornography found in bin Laden hideout -- despite no Internet, no telephone, being in a Muslim country, and being a vicious conservative; propaganda?

A stash of pornography was found in the hideout of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. commandos who killed him, current and former U.S. officials said on Friday.

The pornography recovered in bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive, according to the officials, who discussed the discovery with Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The officials said they were not yet sure precisely where in the compound the pornography was discovered or who had been viewing it. Specifically, the officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.

Reports from Abbottabad have said that bin Laden's compound was cut off from the Internet or other hard-wired communications networks. It is unclear how compound residents would have acquired the pornography. (read more)

What will they "find" next -- a fifth of vodka and a pound of bacon to complete the triumvirate of defamation?

In Dallas, one person is murdered every single day on average: US

At 2:00 in the afternoon on May 13, Dallas reported its thirteenth murder of the month.

A sudden five-percent spike in killings comes after years of declines. In fact, Dallas hit a 50-year low in 2010.

Detectives can't explain it, though some have suggested that the economy might be to blame.

However, one thing is clear: the homicide unit is scrambling to keep up with the unsolved cases.

Earlier this week, a security guard was killed when he walked in on a robbery at a Wing Stop on Buckner Boulevard. Investigators are seeking the killer.

And at 2 p.m. today, a man was killed in the 10,000 block of Cricket in southeast Dallas. The shooter remains on the run.

Despite the heavy case load, though, detectives have solved some high-profile murders, including the slayings of two people at a convenience store and the fatal shooting of a tow company employee days later. (Source)


Medicare, Social Security Funds Running Out Sooner Than Expected, Causing Worry in US Government

Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and the Social Security trust for the disabled and retirees are running out of money sooner than the government had projected.

While Medicare won’t have sufficient funds to pay full benefits starting in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate, Social Security’s cash to pay full benefits runs short in 2036, a year sooner than the 2010 projection, the U.S. government said today in an annual report.

Both forecasts were affected by a slower-than-anticipated economic recovery, the government said. The estimates for funding add urgency to talks between Democrats and Republicans on ways to cut spending to reduce the U.S. budget deficit.

“Projected long-run program costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable under currently scheduled financing, and will require legislative corrections if disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers are to be avoided,” according to the report summary. (read more)

Record wildlife die-offs reported in Northern Rockies

A record number of big-game animals perished this winter in parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming from a harsh season of unusually heavy snows and sustained cold in the Northern Rockies, state wildlife managers say.

"Elk, deer and moose -- those animals are having a pretty tough time," said Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Doug Brimeyer.

Snow and frigid temperatures in pockets of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming arrived earlier and lingered longer than usual, extending the time that wildlife were forced to forage on low reserves for scarce food, leading more of them to starve.

Based on aerial surveys of big-game herds and signals from radio-collared animals, experts are documenting high mortality among offspring of mule deer, white-tailed deer and pronghorn antelope.

This comes as big-game animals enter the last stretch of a period from mid-March through early May that is considered critical for survival.

Wildlife managers estimate die-offs in the tens of thousands across thousands of square miles that span prairie in northeastern Montana, the upper Snake River basin in Idaho near Yellowstone National Park and the high country of northwestern Wyoming near the exclusive resort of Jackson.

Brimeyer said the estimated death rate doubled among deer fawns in the Jackson area this year, rising to 60 percent or more from 30 percent. (read more)

Lake Tahoe, California, Gets Snow Forecast -- No, really!

Don't put your snow shovels away just yet.The latest weather forecast is predicting 3 inches of snow at lake level in the Tahoe basin this weekend."It's going to be a dramatic change from today," said Placerville's Bill Rose as he prepared to hike near Echo Summit.Forecasters said the snow is expected to start falling Saturday night and continue into Sunday."Today couldn't be better. It's sunny and beautiful. But, big weather changes are common this time of year," said backcountry skier Jake Maker.Higher elevations around Lake Tahoe could see 6 inches of snow by Sunday evening, according to the National Weather Service. (read more)

Rain Fails To Dampen Fears Of Summer Drought: UK -- it seems drought is becoming a worldwide trend

Fears are growing that a summer of drought lies ahead despite rain being forecast for some places over the weekend.

Last month was the hottest April on record and one of the driest, with the UK receiving only 52% of its usual rainfall.

In England that figure was just 21%, and in Wales it was 33% of the average.

With so little water flowing into reservoirs they suffered their second largest decline in stocks since 1997.

The Environment Agency says river levels in many parts of England and Wales are low, however, forward drought planning has reduced the risk of early restrictions on public water supplies such as hose pipe bans. (read more)

Space Shuttle Endeavour to take Baby Squid into space – for the sake of humanity - 13th May 2011

If the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour goes ahead as planned next week, it will be carrying an unusual cargo: baby squid.

This is not because the astronauts want a change in their menu: the squid could help us understand how "good" bacteria behave in the microgravity of space. As Jamie Foster of the University of Florida in Gainesville, who is running the experiment, puts it: "Do good bacteria go bad?"

We already know that disease microbes grow faster and become more virulent if they are sent into space. In 2006 Salmonella bacteria were sent up on a space shuttle, and when they returned to Earth they were almost three times as likely to kill mice as normal (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/Linkpnas.0707155104). Escherichia coli also changes its behaviour.

These studies all focused on harmful bacteria. "This is the first to look at beneficial bacteria," Foster says.

Squid are cephalopods, a group of relatively intelligent animals that also includes octopuses and cuttlefish. Cephalopods have never been into space before – not in reality, at least.

Foster has arranged to send up the bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes, a Pacific species that carries a cargo of bacteria called Vibrio fischeri in its body. The microbes colonise young squid soon after the squid hatch and set up home in their light organs. The squid use the bacteria to generate light, which they shine downwards to ensure they don't cast a visible shadow.

This is a classic example of mutualism: the two species cooperate and each benefits. Humans have similar relationships with microbes, which help shape our immune and digestive systems, but thousands of species are involved with us rather than just one. "Humans are way too complex," Foster says. Read More

Frankie Girard, 11, not allowed to hang drawing in classroom because it features American flag -- which might "offend" another student

A civil rights controversy is brewing at an elementary school in the Town of Orange, and it all surrounds an11 year-old's drawing of the American Flag.

The family of Frankie Girard is claiming that their son's civil rights were violated after a teacher allegedly told him that hanging his picture of the American flag would offend another student.

The Butterfield Elementary School is at the center of controversy for the incident on Monday. According to Frankie Girard’s father, John, the boy was in art class drawing a picture.

"He was denied hanging the flag up. And, he asked if he could just even hang it on his desk, and he was told no. He could take the picture that he drew and take it home and be proud of it there,” Girard said.

So, that is where it is, among the hundreds of other family pictures and military honors that adorn the walls of the Girard family home.

According to his father, the teacher told Frankie that his drawing of the American Flag would offend one of his classmates. "We’re allowing him to display his civil rights and be proud of who he is, but we’re denying Franklin those same rights," Girard said. (read more)

Terror at 35,000ft as easyJet passenger is wrestled to ground by fellow Briton after trying to jump from plane - 14th May 2011

Passengers on-board an easyJet plane had to overpower a man who tried to open a cabin door mid-flight at 35,000ft

The British man, believed to be in his 40s, worried fellow passengers when he became agitated during the short trip from Kradow, Poland to Edinburgh.

He began pacing up and down the aisles while clutching onto a card of safety instructions, which detailed how to open the exit during an emergency situation.

The man finally put on his rucksack and lunged for the door handle but was quickly tackled by staff and fellow passengers as the aircraft's pilots were forced to land at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

Gordon Kennedy, 57, who helped tie the man down using his belts, said people started to worry shortly after take-off.

'It was absolutely horrendous and the terror in the eyes of the passengers was awful,' said the telecoms engineer.

'He was walking up and down the aisle, carrying a card of safety instructions. About an hour into the flight, he stopped at a door and was looking from the card to the door handle and back to the card.'

Mr Kennedy, of Paisley, told the Daily Mirror the man then grabbed the door handle but was restrained before causing any harm.

A spokesman for easyJet said that passengers were never in any danger.

The man is now being held by police. Read More

Pakistan's parliament condemns U.S. raid, threatens sanctions and NATO supply cut off

Pakistan's parliament threatened Saturday to cut off access to a facility used by NATO forces to ferry troops into Afghanistan, signaling a growing rift that began when U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on a Pakistani compound.

A resolution adopted during a joint session of parliament condemned the U.S. action. It also called for a review of its working agreement with the U.S., demanded an independent investigation and ordered the immediate end of drone attacks along its border region.

Failure to end unilateral U.S. raids and drone attacks will force Pakistan to "to consider taking necessary steps, including withdrawal of (the) transit facility" used by the NATO's International Security Assistance Force, according to the resolution.

U.S. lawmakers have questioned how the world's most wanted terrorist managed to live in plain sight for years in Pakistan -- near the country's elite military academy -- without being detected. (read more)

Louisiana floodgates set to release torrent of flood waters

Army engineers prepared Saturday to slowly open the gates of an emergency spillway along the rising Mississippi River, diverting floodwaters from Baton Rouge and New Orleans, yet inundating homes and farms in parts of Louisiana's populated Cajun country.

About 25,000 people and 11,000 structures could be in harm's way when the Morganza spillway is unlocked for the first time in 38 years. Sheriffs and National Guardsmen were warning people in a door-to-door sweep through the area, and shelters were ready to accept up to 4,800 evacuees, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

Some people living in the threatened stretch of countryside – an area known for small farms, fish camps and a drawling French dialect – have already started fleeing for higher ground.

"Now's the time to evacuate," Jindal said. "Now's the time for our people to execute their plans. That water's coming."

Opening the spillway will release a torrent that could submerge about 3,000 square miles under as much as 25 feet of water in some areas but take the pressure off the downstream levees protecting New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the numerous oil refineries and chemical plants along the lower reaches of the Mississippi. (read more)

Where is Ai Weiwei? His artshow continues as his whereabouts remain unknown

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei began his second month of detention this week, and still the Chinese government has given an increasingly outraged and anxious world no satisfactory answers to questions about his whereabouts, his condition or the charges against him.

But business as usual can sometimes be its own quiet form of defiance. Despite Mr. Ai’s absence, his plans for exhibiting his art in the West have been proceeding on schedule. Last weekend an exhibition of new work opened at the Neugerriemschneider Gallery in Berlin, which displayed an immense white banner printed in black with the words “Where is Ai Weiwei” on the front of its building. (It was designed by the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija.) A larger exhibition will open next week at the Lisson Gallery in London. And in Manhattan “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” which is being termed Mr. Ai’s first public sculpture, was proclaimed open on Wednesday morning in a drizzle at the Pulitzer Fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel.

The ceremony was overseen by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and attended by dozens of members of the press and the New York art world, including 12 artists and arts officials who represented the absent Mr. Ai by reading short pertinent sentences from his interviews and blog posts. Citing New York as a city that “fiercely defends the right of all people to express themselves,” Mr. Bloomberg called Mr. Ai “one of the most talented, respected and masterful artists of our time.” “Circle of Animals” is a series of 12 heads of the creatures of the Chinese Zodiac, for which years are also named: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, boar. Each head is cast bronze, roughly four feet high and set on a slender six-foot bronze base that suggests an abstracted lotus stem and leaves. Among the most sculpturally distinctive parts of the project, the bases also resemble stakes, which adds a slight touch of gallows humor. (The work will be on view through July 15 and will later travel to Los Angeles, Houston, Pittsburgh and Washington; another edition will go on view next week outside Somerset House in London.) (read more)

Documenting The Demise Of The Middle Class

The American Dream is now to get out of debt

— David Rosenberg, Chief Economist & Strategist, Gluskin Sheff

A new report has surfaced called The American Middle Class Under Stress (pdf). In a set of easy to understand graphs, New American Foundation researchers Sherle R. Schwenninger and Samuel Sherraden present a compelling case that America's Middle Class is gradually disappearing, and has been for some time. Many of their graphs show pressures on Middle Class incomes beginning in the early 1980s, which is when I date the decline of the American Empire. I have covered many (if not all) of the subjects covered in the report, so I have included links to older posts where relevant.

I believe the Empire's decline is inextricably associated with the decline of Middle Class living standards. America's ability to enforce its military and financial "interests" all over the world will inexorably decline as a result. When wealthy interests took over the country, the Middle Class got left behind. I agree with many of the views expressed by Richard Kirsch in We’re not Broke. We’ve been Robbed! Actually, the United States is broke. But we've been robbed, that's for sure.

We’re not broke, but the wealth grab [by monied special interests] is wrecking our economy. The rich can’t spend enough to keep the economy going. The engine that drives it is a strong middle class. The problem isn’t that we haven’t generated wealth, it’s that we’ve stopped sharing the wealth we’ve generated. If wages had kept up with productivity over the past 30 years, the median wage would be 60% higher than it is now. If income had increased at the same rate for everyone from 1979 to 2006, the average family would make about $10,000 more a year, but the top 1% would make $700,000 less...

The middle class is not only the engine of our economy, it’s the glue of our democracy. A bigger middle class leads to higher voting rates and lower levels of public corruption. When we believe that the system is stacked against us, we’re more likely to drop out or cheat.

It’s no wonder that despite elite celebration of economic recovery, Americans are deeply pessimistic about the future. Much of the public believes that our best days are behind us. And unless we build a movement for change, they will be right.

It would be naive to expect the deplorable trends documented by the New American Foundation to be reversed in the future. Your best days are behind you—if you're still in the Middle Class and still struggling to make ends meet, or you're a young person hoping for a decent life. Our "Democracy" exists in name only. Corruption is rampant in the Imperial Capital. A majority of desperate Americans voted for Barack Obama in the hope he would bring The Change. If you were among them, you have been betrayed in the profoundest way. (read more)

China pays price for world's rare earths addiction

Peasant farmer Wang Tao used to grow corn, potatoes and wheat within a stone's throw of a dumping ground for rare earths waste until toxic chemicals leaked into the water supply and poisoned his land.

Farmers living near the 10-square-kilometre expanse in northern China say they have lost teeth and their hair has turned white while tests show the soil and water contain high levels of cancer-causing radioactive materials.

"We are victims. The tailings dam has contaminated us," Wang, 60, told AFP at his home near Baotou city in Inner Mongolia, home to the world's largest deposits of rare earths, which are vital in making many high-tech products.

"In this place, if you eat the contaminated food or drink the contaminated water it will harm your body," Wang said, pointing towards lifeless fields now strewn with rubbish around Dalahai village, a few hundred metres from the dump.

China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths -- 17 elements used in the manufacture of products ranging from iPods to flat-screen televisions and electric cars.

Two-thirds of that is processed in mineral-rich Baotou on the edge of the Gobi desert.

Environmental groups have long criticised rare earths mining for spewing toxic chemicals and radioactive thorium and uranium into the air, water and soil, which can cause cancer and birth defects among residents and animals.

Beijing, keen to burnish its green credentials and tighten its grip over the highly sought-after metals, has started cleaning up the industry by closing illegal mines, setting tougher environmental standards and restricting exports. (read more)

EU unveils plans to pay fishermen to catch plastic instead of fish

Fishermen will be paid to catch plastic, rather than fish, under bold new plans from the EU's fisheries chief, aimed at providing fleets with an alternative source of income to reduce pressure on dwindling fish stocks.

Maria Damanaki, commissioner for fisheries, will unveil a trial project in the Mediterranean this month, which will see fishermen equipped with nets to round up the plastic detritus that is threatening marine life, and send it for recycling.

The move is intended as a sweetener to fishermen who have bitterly opposed the European commission's plans to ban the wasteful practice of discarding edible fish at sea. Fleets fear they will lose money by not being able to throw away lower-value catch.

Damanaki vowed yesterday to press on with her plan to eliminate discards, citing the strength of public opinion on the issue, whipped up in large part by the Fish Fight campaign waged by the food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Two-thirds of the fish caught in some areas is thrown back, usually dead, because fleets exceed their quota, unintentionally catch juveniles or species for which they lack a quota, or because they prioritise higher value fish and throw away lesser species. About 1 million tonnes are thrown back each year in the North Sea alone.

"Ending this practice of throwing away edible fish is in the interest of fishermen, and consumers," Damanaki told the Guardian in an interview. "It has to happen – we cannot have consumers afraid to eat fish because they hate this problem of discards."

But she acknowledged: "People [in the fishing industry] feel insecure, because this is a change. That is why they need incentives."

Fishermen who clear plastic will be subsidised initially by EU member states, but in future the scheme could turn into a self-sustaining profitable enterprise, as fleets cash in on the increasing value of recycled plastics. Cleaning up the rubbish will also improve the prospects for fish, seabirds and other marine species, which frequently choke or suffer internal damage from ingesting small pieces of non-biodegradable packaging. (read more)

850 killed as protesters, security forces clash in Syria



Four people were killed in violent clashes between protesters and security forces in several Syrian cities on Friday, a human rights advocate said.

According to Ammar Qurabi, chairman of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, three were killed by gunfire from security forces during those clashes.

The fighting, Qurabi said in a statement, also prevented many people from attending Friday prayers because mosques were surrounded by tanks.

Protesters have taken to the streets every Friday recently after the weekly Muslim prayers, and security forces were deployed in force to greet the turnouts. A U.N. official earlier said that as many as 850 people may have died since protests began in mid-March. (read more)

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Third tragedy hits London Zoo's gorillas: First two males die... now baby Tiny is crushed by jealous silverback - 14th May 2011

An infant gorilla born at London Zoo has died after having a fight with his 'surrogate father' - in the third tragedy to hit the gorillas.

Two adult males have also died at the world famous site in Regent's Park in recent years.

Tiny, who was seven-months old, was the first gorilla born at the zoo in 22 years. He died after being injured by new silverback male, Kesho.

Keepers had hoped Kesho would be a surrogate parent to the youngster after the death of his biological father Yeboah.

They had hoped the new silverback, who arrived last August, would bring balance and stability to the group following the tragedies.

While he had been gradually introduced to two of the females, Effie and Zaire, keepers waited until they were confident of a successful introduction to Tiny and his mother Mjukuu.

The first meeting on Wednesday ‘went very well’, according to the The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), but at a second attempt on Thursday Kesho asserted his authority.

During a scuffle between the whole group, Tiny’s arm was seriously injured.

The gorillas were immediately separated, and the baby was taken to the on-site vet hospital, where it was confirmed his arm was broken and a three-hour operation to pin it began.

When vets brought him off the anaesthetic he was unable to breathe by himself, and vets suspected he had also sustained internal injuries during the scuffle.

Despite repeated efforts to resuscitate the infant gorilla, he could not be revived.

Zoological director David Field said everyone at the zoo was ‘utterly devastated’ by the youngster’s death. Read More


Hundreds of children being accused of witchcraft 'as belief in demonic possession spreads across the UK' - 14th May 2011

Hundreds of witchcraft abuse cases are going unreported across the country each year, it has been revealed.

Officials believe child protection officers are only tipped off in the most extreme cases when a child's life has been put in danger.

Just 38 cases have been reported in the last five years - and it is feared that they represent just the tip of the iceberg.

Hundreds of children may be left to starve, beaten and having chili rubbed into their eyes.

Youngsters born with physical and mental difficulties are most at risk from abuse.

Relatives often believe that the children are 'possessed' and the torture is carried out as a form of exorcism.

Extreme evangelical Christian churches - most prevalent in the Democratic Republic of Congo - have grown significantly in recent years and their influence is thought to have spread to groups in the UK.

A decade ago the death of Victoria Climbie suffered appalling injuries at the hands of her aunt and boyfriend who believed she was possessed by the devil, sparking huge public anger.

The eight-year-old had 128 injuries on her body in a case described by a pathologist as one of the worst ever child abuse cases.

She tied up, hit with bike chains and attacked with lighted cigarettes.

As officials try to combat the extreme beliefs, social services have been issued with a new set of guidelines to help them deal with youngsters from religious and ethnic minority backgrounds who could suffer abuse, The Times revealed.

The Metropolitan Police are working on their scheme to deal with religious-based child abuse to place extra emphasis on dealing with tackling witchcraft and abuse.

Witchcraft is most often found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding countries. Read More

Fukushima: 3rd Worker dies at Japan's Crippled Nuclear Plant - 14th May 2011

A worker at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant died on Saturday from unknown causes, bringing the number of workers there who have died to three since the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

The plant's operator TEPCO said the employee in his 60's was exposed to 0.1-7 millisieverts of radiation, well below the limit of 250 millisieverts.

Meanwhile, high levels of radiation have been found in seaweed samples collected near the complex and at a sewage plant in east Tokyo.
The environmental organization Greenpeace says 10 of the 22 seaweed samples had radiation levels as much as five times the limit set by Japan for food products.

And Kyodo News reported Friday that a radiation of up to 170-thousand becquerels per kilogram was detected in ashes at the sewage plant in Tokyo on March 25th, just over two weeks following the devastating disaster. Source

Nuclear Event: Radioactive ash found in Tokyo sewage plant - 14th May 2011

A highly radioactive substance was detected in ash from an incinerator at a sewage works in Tokyo in late March following the nation's worst nuclear accident in Fukushima, newspapers reported Saturday.

The ash, containing an unidentified substance with a radioactive density of 170,000 Becquerel per kilogramme, was collected from a plant in Koto Ward, eastern Tokyo, the Nikkei and Sankei dailies said, quoting metropolitan government sources.

The ash in sewage plants is formed by the incineration of inorganic constituents in waste materials.

Much of the ash from the Koto batch had already been recycled into construction materials, including cement, the unnamed sources said. The volume of the ash was not reported.

A radioactive substance of 100,000-140,000 Becquerel per kilogramme was also detected in ash at two other sewage plants in Ota and Itabashi wards, eastern Tokyo, in late March, the sources said.

The substance has yet to be identified and researchers are currently looking into whether it is radioactive caesium, they said.

The March 11 quake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, some 220 kilometres (136 miles) northeast of Tokyo, causing leaks of high levels of radiation. Source

Harold Egbert Camping a True Prophet? or Cult Leader? - 14th May 2011

Harold Egbert Camping (born July 19, 1921) is a Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio, a California-based religious broadcasting network that spans more than 150 outlets in the United States as well as a website.

He used mathematical predictions applied to the Bible to predict dates for the end of the world.

His current end times prediction is that the Rapture will be on May 21, 2011 and that God will completely destroy the Earth and the universe five months later on October 21.

Although previously he had predicted that rapture would occur in September 1994

Recently, as his predicted Judgment Day (May 21, 2011) draws near, Family Radio has become affiliated with eBibleFellowship, another Bible-based ministry.

Followers continue to listen to Camping despite the fact that he was wrong in his previous prediction of the end of the world. In his book 1994?, he claimed there was a very high likelihood that the world would end in September, 1994, although he did acknowledge in the book "the possibility does exist that I could be wrong.

Camping has gained recent notoriety due to his prediction that the Christian Rapture will take place on May 21, 2011and that the end of the world will take place five months later on October 21, 2011.

Followers of Camping claim that around 200 million people (approximately 3% of the world's population) will be raptured. As for the remainder of the human population, Camping himself believes in annihilationism, which is the view that those who are not saved will simply cease to be conscious rather than spend eternity in Hell.

Those who were "unsaved" and died prior to May 21 will not be affected by or experience the Rapture or the end of the world.

"When Christ comes they, themselves, will be destroyed in the Day of Judgment."- What will Happen to the believers if he doesn't come?

Are there any believers that could answer this for me? I find it concerning that this is believed by 200 Million poeple. Will it create Chaos among you if the world doesn't end?

Also does it not say in the Bible "evil men and impostors [who] will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. - 2 Timothy 3:13"

It also says in the Bible "The truth is, no one knows the day or hour of the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:36)"

There have been many Cult leaders in the past that have preached the end of the world, who said that God spoke to them as they murdered, intimidated, Brain Washed and caused mass suicides among their believers.

Is Harold Camping a true Prophet or a Cult Leader? Who decides this? How do the followers know for sure?

**David Berg founder of the 'Children Of God' Also Preached the the End of the World in Addition to child sex abuse being natural and right.

**Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles Founders of 'Heaven's Gate' Preached everyone would be wiped of the Planet and Recycled and the Only chance of Escape was to leave the Planet. This was the teachings that resulted in Mass Suicides.

**Luc Joret Leader of the 'Solar Temple' Preached the message of the Apocalypse, claiming it would come through Natural Disasters (not much Unlike Harold Camping) - However Luc Joret had a way of saving his followers and in 1994, the cult was found dead due to Mass Suicide in a Compound near Geneva

**David Koresh Leader of 'Branch Davidian Religious Act' Another Prophet to Preach the end of the World, this heavily armed cult were taught to fear and fight authorities that threatened their life in the cult. The famous stand off in Feb 1994 resulted in the loss of 76 members in a fire.

**Jim Jones, Leader of the 'People's Temple' was intrigued by religious zeal and had a strong interest in death, he rose to become a symbol of mind control and brainwashing. As the Government where preparing to bring charges of violence, abuse of followers, the cult escaped to a settlement in Guyana named Jonestown by Jones. This is were later the largest mass cult suicide played out, 909 including many children died that day after drinking Kool-Aid.

Pakistan Demands End To US Drone Attacks - 14th May 2011

Pakistan's parliament has demanded an end to American drone strikes and called for an independent inquiry into the US special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The message came after a 10-hour meeting in Islamabad in which officials debated the "situation arising from unilateral US action in Abbottabad".

The parliament described the continued strikes as "unacceptable".

In a resolution, it said: "Such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith, failing which the government will be constrained to consider taking necessary steps including withdrawal of (the) transit facility allowed to Nato."

Most supplies and equipment required by foreign troops in Afghanistan are shipped through the main northwestern border crossing, which comes under frequent militant attacks.

US strikes doubled last year and the CIA has said the covert programme has severely disrupted al Qaeda's leadership.

On Thursday a US drone strike targeting a militant vehicle in Kharkamar area of North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border killed three militants.

It was the fourth such attack reported in Pakistan's tribal region on the Afghan border since US Navy Seals killed bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

US drone strikes inflame anti-American feeling in Pakistan. Read More

UK JUSTICE - Lying illegal immigrant who committed a string of crimes set to receive thousands in compensation for being 'falsely imprisoned'-14th May

An illegal immigrant turned criminal is set for thousands in a taxpayer funded payout after judges ruled he was falsely imprisoned while awaiting deportation.

Joseph Mjemer, 28, arrived in the UK as a stowaway, committed more than 20 offences, used at least five aliases and claimed to be from four different countries.

But he is now set to be turned loose with a taxpayer-funded compensation payout - despite the judge admitting there is a risk that he could commit more crimes, or simply disappear.

Mr Mjemer's lawyers argued at the hearing in London that he had been unlawfully held in prison while immigration officials tried to establish where he came from so they could deport him.

Judge Stephen Stewart QC ruled that the detention had been lawful for most of that period.

But it had been illegal for the past four months because attempts to establish Mr Mjemer's nationality had faltered, leaving no realistic prospect of deportation.

Mr Mjemer therefore succeeded in his claim for release and damages, said the judge. Read More

Britney Campbell, 8 - Child welfare services investigate pageant mother over Botox injections given to her eight-year-old daughter - 14th May 2011


San Francisco authorities are investigating a mother who says she gives anti-wrinkle Botox injections to her eight-year-old daughter who appears in beauty contests.

California mum Kerry Campbell has come under fire after admitting she injects her young daughter Britney with Botox to get rid of 'wrinkles' that appear on the girl's face when she smiles.

Officials from the city's Human Services Agency will interview Ms Campbell and Britney after the mother's comments on ABC's Good Morning America.

She said she got the idea to give her daughter the injections from other pageant mothers.

San Francisco Human Services Agency spokesperson Trent Rohrer told the San Francisco Chronicle: 'It’s pretty unusual for a mum to be injecting an eight-year-old with Botox, and certainly is grounds for an investigation.'

He said his office received numerous calls from people concerned about Britney's well-being after the TV appearance.

Botox injections can be painful and are not recommended for anyone under the age of 18. Read More


Fact or Fiction: It wasn't aliens, it was Nazis, Communists and mutants: New book reveals the 'real' story behind the Roswell landing - 14th May 2011

It is one of the greatest alien conspiracy theories of all time.

But now a new book may have come up with an even more bizarre explanation for the supposed alien crash landing at Roswell in 1947 - it was a plan hatched by Joseph Stalin to scare Americans.

After interviewing former workers from Nevada's infamous Area 51, author Annie Jacobsen has formulated a fantastical account involving the former Soviet leader, Nazi scientist Josef Mengele and a group of deformed 'child-like' aviators.

According to Mrs Jacobsen's new book, 'Area 51, an Uncensored History', Stalin hatched the plot to create a level of panic similar to that caused by Orson Wells's notorious 1938 'War of The World's' spoof alien invasion broadcast.

Using a captured, single wing Nazi jet fighter called the Horton HO 229, Stalin planned to land the plane in the U.S. with 'grotesque child like aviators' on board.

It was hoped, Mrs Jacobsen writes, that the landing would scare Americans witless.

To create his monstrous creatures however, he enlisted the help of Dr Mengele.

Known as the 'Angel of Death' for his horrific experiments on concentration camp inmates - Stalin called upon Mengele's expertise to create his child-like monsters in return for a eugenics laboratory.

Apparently Mengele - who at the time was in hiding in South America having fled Germany after World War Two - deemed the project worth risking his safety for.

The Roswell crash has gone down in conspiracy theory circles as a U.S. government cover up.

The story goes that aliens in a flying saucer inexplicably crashed in Roswell, New Mexico with badly injured aliens on board.

At the time spokesmen from Roswell army air base said that a 'flying disc' was found, but just hours later retracted the statement insisting instead that it was a weather balloon.

The incident was barely reported until the 1970s when a series of books and documentaries revived conspiracy theories that an alien landing had taken place. Read More

Army WILL open spillway to save New Orleans from swollen Mississippi...but 22,500 people will be flooded as a result - 14th May 2011

(Image) Hundreds of FEMA trailers await evacuees from the spillway opening in Louisiana.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will open the Morganza Spillway today, unleashing 600,000 cubic feet of water per second and forcing 22,500 people to leave their soon to be flooded homes.

Authorities hope that by opening the spillway they will relieve the swollen Mississippi River and avoid catastrophic flooding Louisiana's two largest cities Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

By opening the levee flood water will be diverted to 18,000 acres of farmland, 11,000 buildings, a wildlife refuge and a small oil refinery in the Atchafalaya River basin.

It would be the first time the spillway, located about 45 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, has been opened in nearly 40 years.

Volunteers and state officials are currently going house to house making sure residents know about the opening and evacuation plans.

The 'trigger' for the spillway opening will be when the flow reaches 1.5 million cubic feet per second at Louisiana’s Red River Landing - expected sometime later today.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told residents in the affected areas to start leaving their homes and said the state has plans with the American Red Cross to provide shelters for evacuees.

Flooding could reach 20 feet in the Atchafalaya basin.

About 2,500 people live inside the floodway, and another 22,500 people and 11,000 buildings would be affected by backwater flooding when the Morganza is opened.

Backwater flooding is water pushed back into streams and tributaries that cannot flow as normal into what will be an overwhelmed Atchafalaya River.

Some 18,000 acres of cropland is expected to be flooded.

Martin Frey, a farmer from Morganza and who is in flood path, said: 'We always felt like there may come a day that it may happen.' Read More

Note: They have the Fema trailers ready is this such a good thing? seeing what happened with the trailers before.


Yobs use angle-grinder to cut down CCTV camera pole... while they are filmed by the camera itself - 13th May 2011

Vandals who chopped down a CCTV camera pole because they were sick of being caught committing crimes were filmed carrying out the attack - by the very camera they were trying to get rid of.

The spy camera had been put up after a long campaign by neighbours on the Valley Estate in Swinton, Greater Manchester.

It was so successful in reducing crime that, just four weeks later, two vandals decided to get their own back by cutting it down with an angle-grinder.

The CCTV footage shows two young men, with hoodies pulled over their faces, swaggering up to the camera carrying the heavy machinery.

As one starts to saw through the thick metal pole, sparks begin to fly, causing his partner to leap back and cover his face.

The attack was captured by the camera on the top of the pole and police are now hunting the bungling culprits. Read More


Sarah Townsend, 18 found dead after huge search in park where car was abandoned - Police Don't Expect Foul Play - 13th May 2011

The body of the pretty teenager who went missing on the way to school has been found by police.

Sarah Townsend, 18, left her home in Burlington County, New Jersey, on Monday morning to go to Allentown High School in Monmouth County but never arrived.

Almost 100 police officers and volunteers searched for the 5'4" girl and found her body in Green Acres Park in Burlington - where her vehicle was found in a car park, prosecutors said.

Sarah's body was found on Friday afternoon after canine tracking teams led police back to the pond they had searched earlier in the week, Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi said.

An autopsy will determine how she died and an investigation has been launched into her death. Foul play is not suspected but police say they believe she may have been intending to harm herself.

'Because the investigation into Sarah's death is continuing, no further information will be released at this time,' a Burlington County Prosecutor's Office spokesman said.

Sarah's parents said they believed their daughter was happy when she left their home on Monday morning. Her last words to them after putting her shoes on were: 'Bye mum and dad, love you'. Read More

Tia Rigg's addict mother 'Lynn Rigg' to sue council for not taking her into care before she was Murdered by John Maden, her Uncle! - 14th May 2011

A drug-addict mother whose daughter was tortured, raped and murdered is planning to sue social workers for failing to take the girl away from her.

Tia Rigg, 12, was lured to the home of her own uncle, John Maden, 38, on the pretext of babysitting for him.

Once there he drugged the youngster before torturing and abusing her, then stabbing her in the stomach and strangling her to death with a guitar string.

Now her mother Lynn Rigg, 34, who has a long history of drug addiction and has served two jail terms, says her daughter should have been protected from her addiction, feckless behaviour and mental health problems.

The mother of seven children by four fathers has hired personal injury lawyers and could sue social services for compensation.

A report published yesterday found a catalogue of ‘serious failings’ by social services bosses charged with caring for the girl.

A serious case review said social workers missed seven chances to help Tia, who had been placed on the ‘at risk’ register before she was even born.

The report stated that social workers could have intervened to protect her from the severe behavioural problems suffered by her mother, who had a history of heroin and crack cocaine addiction and a criminal record for robbery and assault. Read More

TRANSCRIPT OF THE CHILLINGLY CALM 999 CALL MADE BY MADEN

John Maden: 'Hi, I would like to report a murder.'

He is asked where it happened and gives his address and name, 'John Nigel Maden'.

Operator: 'Well what's happened there?'

Maden: 'My niece has been murdered by me.'

Operator: 'When has this happened?'

Maden: 'I have just finished killing her now.'

Operator: 'Why have you done that?'

Maden: 'Because I felt like it.'

He then gives her name as Tia Rigg and wrongly reports her age as 11. The call is cut off before being reconnected, with the operator asking for more details.

Maden: 'I am quite sure the officers that come to the house will be able to take all the details you need.'

Operator: 'How's it happened?'

Maden: 'I have used... with a knife and strangulation and that's it, bye.'

Crowds gather across Yemen to demand president steps down but he refuses as troops shoot three dead - 14th May 2011

Anti-government protesters climbed onto a towering sign in Yemen today as demonstrators gathered across the country today to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh leave office.

But the leader refused to step down after months of unrest which has put the Arab world's poorest country on the brink of an economic meltdown - and troops opened fir one protesters in one city.

In a defiant speech to thousands of flag-waving supporters in the Yemeni capital, Saleh declared: 'We will confront a challenge with a challenge.'

Three people were killed and 15 wounded when troops shot at protesters in Ibb, a city south of Sanaa, medics and witnesses said.

Demonstrators then set fire to an armoured troop carrier. Gunfire wounded three protesters in Yemen's third city, Taiz.

The latest killings pushed the overall death toll since protests began to at least 170.

Saleh, a wily political survivor, has clung to power despite defections from politicians, army officers and tribal leaders.

Armoured vehicles, troops and even military academy students with batons deployed in Sanaa to contain a sea of protesters stretching seven km (four miles) down a main street in Sanaa.

'We are steadfast, you leader of the corrupt,' anti-Saleh demonstrators chanted. 'Peaceful, peaceful, no to civil war.' Read More