Monday, May 30, 2011
The belligerent message came a mere three days after Kim returned from a visit to China, which apparently ended in disappointment for the ailing leader, who had been hoping for massive handouts.
Observers say the message shows the cash-strapped regime at its usual antics, alternating charm offensives with belligerence to extract aid and concessions. "The North is engaging in pressure tactics against our policies toward North Korea after bolstering ties with China following the latest visit," a government official said.
North Korea had been aggressively pushing for dialogue earlier this year after Seoul halted all trade with the North in April last year. Tentative military talks in February broke down, followed by the usual denunciations of the South Korean government by the North. (read more)
Ya’alon made the comments in an interview with Russia’s Interfax news agency, ahead of his visit to Moscow.
“We strongly hope that the entire civilized world will come to realize what threat this regime is posing and take joint action to avert the nuclear threat posed by Iran, even if it would be necessary to conduct a pre-emptive strike,” Interfax quoted Ya’alon as saying.
Though he would not discuss who might deal the strike, he stressed that the entire world and not just Israel, must be concerned about the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran.
“An Iran possessing nuclear weapons would be a threat to the entire civilized world,” he was quoted as saying. (read more)
Police violence reaching new levels in Morocco with Sunday beatings as revolution continues to spread
On Sunday there were bloody battles on the streets between a youth movement and police. It was the second weekend in a row that police have beaten protesters with long truncheons.
Fevrier 20, Morocco's Facebook youth movement, staged a rally in the country's commercial capital without permission from the government Sunday -- sparking waves of police violence and in some cases panicking from individual officers, according to at least one YouTube video clip that shows an officer kicking and striking an old woman caught in the frenzy at least once with a baton.
The same clip shows a young man on the ground being beaten and kicked by officers while other colleagues on motorcycles accelerate through crowds striking protesters with long batons.
Mounaim Ouihi, one of the organizers of Sunday's protest, said 15,000 people gathered in the Sbata district of Casablanca to demand more democratic freedoms, jobs and better social conditions. He said police sealed off streets around the district to block people, swelling the numbers, then sent several 30-strong squads of truncheon-wielding officers charging into the crowd.
"There was a lot of violence, and we are now calling a halt," Ouihi said. "This protest has again sent out our message demanding freedom." (read more)
Mexico drug war shoot out outside school window captured on film -- Teacher Martha Rivera Alanis keeps kids calm
A school teacher in Mexico has been honoured after she put aside her own fears to calm her young students during a shootout.
Martha Rivera Alanis became an internet sensation after a video went online showing her leading children through a duck-and-cover drill amid the violence. (Read more)
In comments to the Sunday Times newspaper, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar became the first cabinet member to cast doubt in public on Ireland’s ability to raise cash on the bond market because of punishing yields demanded by investors.
“I think it’s very unlikely we’ll be able to go back next year. I think it might take a bit longer ... 2013 might be possible but who knows?” Varadkar was quoted as saying.
“It would mean a second program (of loans from the EU/IMF),” he said. “Either an extension of the existing program or a second program. I think that would generally be most people’s view.” (read more)
Esteemed Miami Beach Mayor, Commissioners & concerned citizens.
Please view the attached YouTube video (one of many) already posted for the world to see, about Memorial/Urban Weekend 2011 in Miami Beach. http://youtu.be/cjxxGBJmOqQ
It shows our city as nothing short of a warzone - Filthy streets, a drive by shooting, multiple cars crashed in the process, and total chaos on the streets. This is unacceptable and must be controlled before we totally lose our city, tourism & residents. It is not limited to Ocean Drive or Collins - there isn't a residential street in South Beach not affected by tons of garbage, crime to our vehicles, excessive noise 24 hours a day, and simply a lack of respect for our community, citizens & property. THIS is the image the world see of our "American Riviera".
When did perceived political or social correctness override the safety & well-being of a community? This is not a race, economic or ethnic issue, it is an issue of visitors who have a total lack of respect for our community, its property & citizens. I know hotel rooms are filled, but at what price and for how long? How many events, meetings, conventions & vacations have been CANCEELLED because of this nightmare we endure each Memorial Day? Almost everyone who lives her that I know, get out of Miami Beach for Memorial Day - including many of you - because of this unruly & dangerous mob that we seem to invite back every year and turn a blind eye to the irreparable damage they leave behind. (read more)
Goldman Sachs' crystal ball is proclaiming that oil will soon soar to $135 a barrel, and likely have service stations jacking up fuel prices to $5 a gallon in New York just like the summer of 2008 that preceded the recession.
Indeed, analysts say Goldman and the other oil trading giant that also has the might to move prices, JPMorgan Chase, have already placed their energy bets for the summer. JPMorgan predicts oil hitting $130 a barrel in the coming weeks.
Eight police officers were forced to intervene and some angry travellers grappled with the captain.
One witness likened the scene on the Middle East Airlines service to "something from Lord Of The Flies" as passengers raided the galley for meal trays and a Lebanese woman suffered heart palpitations. The flight to Beirut was one of 80 delayed for an average of two hours or cancelled as thunderstorms and winds of up to 40mph battered the country. City worker Jordan Lancaster was among the 250 people who boarded the flight at 1pm. It then missed its departure slot.
Ms Lancaster, a 45-year-old legal translator travelling to an archaological dig, called the Evening Standard at 7pm and said: "It is like something from Lord Of The Flies, people are hysterical. There are at least four babies and lots of elderly people on board.
"The crew have given up trying to explain the situation to people, and it has ended up in fisticuffs. Several men are also arguing with the captain. This guy in his fifties is so worked up he is being given oxygen."
As Ms Lancaster was talking, a male cabin crew member could be heard over the intercom saying: "If any of our crew have been rude to you, we apologise for that.
"We need the passengers to hold their horses and calm down."
The steward then appeared to blame the delay on the passengers, stating: "You have two options. Either there will be a police investigation or people should calm down and let us leave." (read more)
Allan Dunn kept woman's body in Sun City Center condo freezer more than a decade... to collect her pension check
Ten months after her sister's friend died and later was cremated, a court gave the women permission to enter his retirement condo and get his final affairs in order.
Allan Dunn, who committed suicide at 86, had told neighbors his wife was in a nursing home.
But when the sisters went into his fetid apartment Tuesday afternoon, Kingsbury made a gruesome discovery: a body in a chest freezer on the porch.
Investigators believe it could be Dunn's wife, Margaret, and that he kept her death secret more than a decade so he could collect her benefits.
"He never gave any indication that something like that was going on," Kingsbury said. "We had no hint or anything that he was capable of doing that."
Hillsborough County investigators theorize the woman died in 2000 of natural causes. The body is that of a 78- to 80-year-old woman, and the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet positively identified her.
Margaret Dunn purchased the condo at 201 Kings Blvd., Unit A23, in 1994, property records show. Five years later, Allan Dunn was named guardian of his wife and assumed possession of all her property and income, records show.
Neighbors agree Allan Dunn wasn't a favorite around the complex. He seldom attended condo meetings or social events.
Some say they haven't seen Margaret in a decade. (read more)
The $80 billion initiative, called single-tranche open- market operations, or ST OMO, made 28-day loans from March through December 2008, a period in which confidence in global credit markets collapsed after the Sept. 15 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
Units of 20 banks were required to bid at auctions for the cash. They paid interest rates as low as 0.01 percent that December, when the Fed’s main lending facility charged 0.5 percent.
“This was a pure subsidy,” said Robert A. Eisenbeis, former head of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and now chief monetary economist at Sarasota, Florida-based Cumberland Advisors Inc. “The Fed hasn’t been forthcoming with disclosures overall. Why should this be any different?” (read more)
Fact or Fiction: US Federal Reserve’s United Federation of North America Note ready for circulation?
Why is the Federal Reserve printing North American Union Notes? The United States is financially bankrupt – thanks entirely to the Federal Reserve Bankers. The Federal Reserve Bankers orchestrated the largest swindle in the history of the United States, and the World, by fraudulently declaring loses of $billions. These bankers fraudulently declared that their banks would fail unless the US government paid them $trillions in bailout money. Both George W Bush and Barack Obama were willing conspirators in the massive swindle of over $12.5 trillion from the American taxpayers. Because Bush and Obama handed over $trillions to the federal Reserve bankers the United States has no money to finance its social programs, its health care system, the American peoples’ pensions, its military, its government and all of its financial obligations. The Japan earthquake and tsunami added to the US economic woes as the second largest holder of US debt can no longer support the US economy. Japan is itself faced with the massive financial burden of rebuilding and can no longer afford to buy the US debt. China can clearly see that the U.S. financial system is effectively insolvent and is now starting to dump the worthless US federal Reserve Note.
The Federal Reserve bankers have been working for years to destroy the United States as we know it. Their goal is to bankrupt the United States. By bankrupting the US the US government will be forced to dissolve the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights in favor of a North American Union with Canada and Mexico. As the United States is the largest forced trading partner (NAFTA forcibly took control of the Canadian commerce) with Canada the Federal Reserve bankers has been preparing and is ready to force Canada into merging with the US to form a North American Union – one controlled by the Federal Reserve bankers. (read more)
Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself — entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a “dragnet” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.
“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden tells Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”
What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.
“It is fair to say that the business-records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming,” Wyden says. “I know a fair amount about how it’s interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it.”
That’s why Wyden and his colleague Sen. Mark Udall offered an amendment on Tuesday to the Patriot Act reauthorization.
The amendment, first reported by Marcy Wheeler, blasts the administration for “secretly reinterpret[ing] public laws and statutes.” It would compel the Attorney General to “publicly disclose the United States Government’s official interpretation of the USA Patriot Act.” And, intriguingly, it refers to “intelligence-collection authorities” embedded in the Patriot Act that the administration briefed the Senate about in February. (read more)
Eight generals from embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's army have defected to Italy, the Italian Foreign Ministry told CNN Monday.
The generals were accompanied by more than 100 Libyan soldiers, a senior Italian official with first-hand knowledge of and responsibility for the operation said.
The Libyans crossed their country's border into Tunisia, where they were met by Italian intelligence agents, the official said.
The news came on the same day that South African President Jacob Zuma met with Gadhafi to push for a cease-fire between Gadhafi's forces and rebel fighters, officials said.
Zuma arrived in Tripoli Monday afternoon on his second visit to the capital aimed at mediating an end to the fighting that began when Gadhafi resisted popular efforts to end his 42-year-rule.
A Libyan government official said the leaders met Monday, with Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi also in attendance.
Baghdadi greeted the South African leader at Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport, where dozens of Gadhafi supporters carried posters, some of which said, "May the leader be victorious" and "Thanks for great Africa." Read More
New evidence from volcanic seeps - fissures in the ocean floor that leak gases and minerals - suggests a bleak future for the reefs that harbour the world's richest marine ecosystems.
Three natural carbon dioxide seeps in Papua New Guinea have given scientists a snapshot of how coral reefs may look in 100 years.
Like man-made sources of carbon dioxide, the seeps are making the water around them more acidic.
The study showed reductions in reef diversity and complexity as pH values fell from 8.1 to 7.8, indicating greater acidity.
At values below 7.7, reef development ceased altogether.
Climate change experts estimate that by the end of the century, ocean acidity worldwide will change in a similar way because of CO2 emissions.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast predicts that rising concentrations of CO2 will reduce worldwide ocean pH from its present level of 8.1 to 7.8.
Authors of the new research, writing in the journal Nature, said the effect of a pH drop below 7.8 would be 'catastrophic' for the coral.
Chris Langdon, from the University of Miami in the US, who led the seep reef research, said: 'These 'champagne reefs' are natural analogues of how coral reefs may look in 100 years if ocean acidification conditions continue to get worse. Read More
A sick 17-year-old boy filmed himself hanging his pet pooch and posted photos of it on Facebook saying, 'I’ve killed my dog - ha, ha.'
The picture shows the helpless dog - still apparently struggling - swinging from a clothesline while Kamil Hric looks on laughing.
Hric, from Poprad, Slovakia - who was arrested after other horrified Facebook users alerted police - told prosecutors: 'So what? It's only a dog. I did it for fun.'
A police spokesman said: 'We don’t know what made him do this but we will be carrying out psychiatric reports.'
In another shocking display of animal cruelty, a dog was buried alive in Malta last week.
The cross-breed mongrel was found by chance near the city of Birzebbuga by animal welfare officers investigating an unrelated case.
The dog, who was later named Star by her rescuers, was found buried in the dirt after officers heard whimpering from beneath a wooden board.
A tree stump had been placed on top of it to weigh it down. Star was buried alive up to her nose and had been shot in the head 40 times.
Her four legs had been tied together and she had been shot repeatedly with a pellet gun.
Star miraculously survived an operation to remove the 40 pellets from her head at Ta' Qali hospital, in Central Malta. Read More
Is this Even Legal? Are the SAS in Libya? News crew films Western troops liaising with rebel forces - 30th May 2011
There were a number of armed men, some wearing sunglasses and keffiyahs, or traditional Arab headscarves, who moved off when they realised they were being watched, the footage showed.
Veteran reporter Tony Birtley says on the voiceover: ‘Here a group of armed foreigners, possibly British, are seen liaising with the fighters. It could be to facilitate forthcoming helicopter attacks.’
U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the Joint Operations Command at Naples, recently declined to comment on whether Nato would put forces on the ground but suggested a small force may be needed to help the rebels once Gaddafi's rule collapses.
He told a Nato forum in Varna, Bulgaria: ‘I would anticipate that there might be a need at some point to unfold a small force… a small number of people there to help them in some way.’
This footage suggests that they may already be there. Read More
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare decided to lift the yearly 50-millisievert maximum permissible amount of radiation exposure for workers at the troubled Fukushima plant in the face of the prolonged restoration work at the facility.
The ministry has notified the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) -- Japan's largest labor organization -- of the decision in writing. The ministry will uphold the combined 100-millisievert maximum allowable exposure for workers over a five-year period, inclusive of doses they are exposed to during regular inspections of other nuclear power plants.
The move came after it became likely that workers at the Fukushima plant would not be able to be engaged in regular inspections at other nuclear power generation facilities after their stint at Fukushima. However, experts are voicing concerns over the change of policy, saying it could adversely affect the workers' health. (read more)
Aaron McQueen Williams killed after being 'hurled' from moving car on three-lane carriageway - 30th May 2011
Police launched a murder enquiry after Aaron McQueen Williams was discovered just after midnight lying unconscious on the three-lane A40 near Chiswick with serious head injuries.
Two men, one aged 24 and one aged 23, were arrested in connection with Aaron's death. They were later released on police bail pending further inquiries and ordered to return to the police station in July.
Police and paramedics rushed to the scene early Friday morning and Aaron was taken to hospital in a critical condition where doctors struggled for more than six hours to save his life.
He was later pronounced dead and a post-mortem examination could shed no light on how he met his death, proving inconclusive.
Further tests are being carried out on Aaron's body today while detectives try to establish the circumstances surrounding his death.
It was unknown whether Aaron's head injuries were caused when he fell from the car or whether he was beaten before he was thrown from the vehicle.
Police have been scanning through CCTV footage of the road to identify the car, which sped off after Aaron was ejected.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: 'Police were called to a man found seriously injured on the eastbound A40, near to the junction with Hanger Lane in Ealing, West London.
'Police and London Ambulance Service attended the scene and Aaron was taken to hospital suffering serious head injuries.
'He was subsequently pronounced dead shortly after 7am.
'An incident room has opened at Barnes under detectives from the Specialist Crime Directorate.
'This is being treated as an unexplained death and inquiries are underway to establish the full circumstances of the incident.
'At this early stage it is believed that the man fell from a moving car travelling along the A40.
'The car did not stop.'
It was believed that a motorist travelling behind the suspect's car may have seen the shocking incident and other drivers were thought to have stopped at the scene. Source
Ian Haggath dies after 'being attacked by gang of four in brutal robbery' in Portugal - 30th May 2011
It is believed Ian Haggath, 50, from Gateshead, Tyneside, was attacked by the same four youths who beat up an Irish man in the same neighbourhood of Albufeira last month.
Both men were attacked in the dangerous Montechoro neighbourhood of the Algarve town, the Sunday Sun newspaper reports, adding that it understood Mr Haggath’s body would be repatriated this week.
Mr Haggath was attacked during the early hours of the morning on the weekend of May 14-15 at a junction near Albufeira’s ‘worm roundabout’ and the three-star Janelas do Mar Hotel, where he had been staying with a friend.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has confirmed that he died on Wednesday after having been transferred in a critical condition to Faro Hospital by paramedics who treated him at the scene of the incident.
It is believed Mr Haggath, a keen bowls player for Dunston Bowls Club, had been returning to his hotel from the resort's notorious strip when he was set upon and left with broken cheek bones, a fractured skull and blood on the brain.
He has two brothers and one of them is thought to have flown from Tyneside to the Algarve.
Mr Haggath was found by three fellow holidaymakers, one of whom said they had tried to help him, 'until the ambulance came'.
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, added that his friend had also 'had bottles and stones thrown at him, about five minutes before the man got attacked'.
His friend had described his assailants as 'four young lads: one had ginger hair', and warned: 'The Montechoro area and top of the strip are not safe in the early hours of the morning.' Read More
Kevin Attew Didn't Commit Suicide, Police Now Launch Murder Investigation after he was found 'Beaten' and Dumped in 12 inches of Water - 30th May 2011
Police on the holiday island had previously ruled that video producer Kevin Attew, 57, from Aldershot, Hampshire, committed suicide by drowning himself in a lake near the resort area of Chawaeng after his Thai girlfriend told them that he intended to do just that. Mr Attew's body was found last Tuesday.
But after pictures taken by his best friend appeared to show that he had been beaten to death before being put in the water, the murder enquiry was launched.
Further doubt was cast on the suicide verdict when it emerged that the man-made lake in which his body was found was fewer than 30 centimetres deep - and that the lake was only yards from the Gulf of Thailand, which would have been a more effective suicide spot.
Londoner Crispin Paton-Smith, who publishes of the island's real estate magazine and was Mr Attew's best friend, said: 'I was appalled to hear the verdict of drowning. It was a no-brainer. Kevin was beaten to death and his body was left on dry land for quite a while before being put in the lake.Paton-Smith, a former gunner in the Royal Artillery, said: 'I have spoken to his girlfriend and she continues to insist he committed suicide.
'He did not - unless he beat himself to death. He would have had to dig a hole to drown himself.
'Kevin ran a very successful bar and was the sweetest man in the world. He had no enemies.' Read More
Katya Koren, 19, a Muslim Girl was 'stoned to death after taking taking part in beauty contest' in the Ukraine - 30th May 2011
Katya Koren, 19, was found dead in a village in the Crimea region near her home.
Friends said she liked wearing fashionable clothes and had come seventh in a beauty contest. Her battered body was buried in a forest and was found a week after she disappeared.
Police have opened a murder probe and are investigating claims that three Muslim youths killed her claiming her death was justified under Islam.
One of the three - named as 16-year-old Bihal Gaziev - is under arrest and told police she had 'violated the laws of Sharia'.
Gaziev said he had no regrets about her death because she had violated the laws of Islam. Source
The workers, reportedly men in their 30s and 40s, may have already been exposed to radiation levels higher than the recently boosted official annual limit, Japanese media suggested.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said it had been measuring the internal exposure to radiation of all employees involved in emergency work at the Fukushima Daiichi plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Internal exposure occurs when people take radioactive substances into their bodies through tainted air or food and drink.
The company notified the governmental atomic energy agency of the possible problem and the agency confirmed that "the thyroid glands of two male employees showed high levels of radiation (iodine-131)", TEPCO said in a statement.
The Jiji Press news agency said the two workers had stopped working at the plant and were not sick at the moment. They will undergo further check-ups.
The inspection by the government agency found 9,760 and 7,690 becquerels of iodine-131 in the thyroid glands of the workers, 10 times higher than other workers at Fukushima, reports said.
The two men were working at a variety of locations at Fukushima Daiichi, including the central control room, in March and April, including on March 11 and during the following days.
The tests sparked fears that their radiation exposure had been several hundred millisieverts, Jiji said. (read more)
Heavy rain and strong winds are hitting north-east Japan, which was devastated in the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.
There are fears that more radioactive material from the Fukushima plant could drain into the land and sea.
Japan's Meteorological Agency has warned of mudslides and floods.
Typhoon Songda weakened to a tropical storm over south-west Japan late on Sunday, but strong winds and rain have continued to pound the north-east of the country.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which runs the nuclear plant, said it was on alert to ensure that contaminated water in reactor buildings did not flow out. (read more)
Meanwhile, the country's seven oldest reactors taken off the grid pending safety inspections following the catastrophe at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in March will remain offline permanently, Norbert Roettgen said. The country has 17 reactors in total.
Roettgen praised the coalition agreement after negotiations through the night between the governing parties.
"This is coherent. It is clear. That's why it is a good result," he said in Berlin.
Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2010 had pushed through measures to extend the lifespan of the country's 17 reactors with the last one scheduled to go offline in 2036, but she reversed her policy in the wake of the disaster.
Germany, Europe's biggest economy, stands alone among the world's major industrialized nations in its determination to gradually replace nuclear power with renewable energy sources. (read more)
People involved in the talks said the package would also include incentives for private holders of Greek debt voluntarily to extend Athens' repayment schedule, as well as another round of austerity measures.
Officials hope that as much as half of the €60bn-€70bn ($86bn-$100bn) in new financing needed by Athens until the end of 2013 could be accounted for without new loans. Under a plan advocated by some, much of that would be covered by the sale of state assets and the change in repayment terms for private debtholders.
Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund would then need to lend an additional €30bn-€35bn on top of the €110bn already promised as part of the bail-out programme agreed last year.
Officials warned, however, that almost every element of the new package faced significant opposition from at least one of the governments and institutions involved in the current negotiations and a deal could still unravel.
In the latest setback, the Greek government failed on Friday to win cross-party agreement on the new austerity measures, which European Union lenders have insisted is a prerequisite to another bail-out.
In addition, the European Central Bank remains opposed to any restructuring of Greek debt that could be considered a "credit event" -- a change in terms that could technically be ruled a default. (read more)
This is really happening.
When you read the list below, each of the 32 signs may not seem to be all that significant individually. However, when they are all taken together, they paint a truly frightening picture….
#1 The days of the free and open Internet are slowly coming to an end. Many nations around the world have implemented strict Internet censorship and many other nations are moving in that direction. With each passing year the level of freedom on the Internet diminishes.
Regulation of the Internet has even become a primary topic of discussion at G-8 meetings. According to The New York Times, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is leading the charge for a more “civilized Internet”….
Leaders of the Group of 8 industrialized countries are set to issue a provocative call for stronger Internet regulation, a cause championed by the host of the meeting, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, but fiercely opposed by some Internet companies and free-speech groups.
Why are free speech groups strongly opposing what Sarkozy is trying to do?
It is because western governments want to kill liberty and freedom on the Internet just like China is doing. The Internet has been a great tool for waking people up and distributing information, and the control freaks that want to run all of our lives do not like that one bit.
#2 Internet censorship in China, the largest nation on earth, is absolutely brutal. The Chinese government blocks any websites that talk about such topics as the Dalai Lama, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters and Falun Gong.
Even web searches for the English word “freedom” are blocked. (read more)
It’s the kind of low margin manufacturing that is never supposed to come back after it leaves North America for cheaper labour abroad.
But wage costs are no longer everything they were cracked up to be. In today’s world of soaring energy costs, power rationing and export taxes on key commodities such as wood, wage gaps are less important. When the power goes off, it suddenly doesn’t matter if your labor is expensive. Factories don’t run on sweat alone.
As the price of the bunker fuel that transports those ice creams sticks to customers around the world tracks soaring world oil prices, the distance between your factory in Dalian and North American kids lining up at their neighborhood ice cream store, becomes more expensive every day.
When the price and availability of energy start to dominate your business plan, you say goodbye to your inexpensive Chinese labor force, and pack up and leave. (read more)
Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.
"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."
Memories from his detention at Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province from 2004 still haunt Liu. As well as backbreaking mining toil, he carved chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw and assembled car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.
But it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.
"If I couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things," he said. (read more)
Soil samples in areas outside the 20-kilometer (12 miles) exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant measured more than 1.48 million becquerels a square meter, the standard used for evacuating residents after the Chernobyl accident, Tomio Kawata, a fellow at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, said in a research report published May 24 and given to the government.
Radiation from the plant has spread over 600 square kilometers (230 square miles), according to the report. The extent of contamination shows the government must move fast to avoid the same future for the area around Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant as Chernobyl, scientists said. Technology has improved since the 1980s, meaning soil can be decontaminated with chemicals or by planting crops to absorb radioactive materials, allowing residents to return.
"We need to finish this treatment as quickly as possible, within three years at most," Tetsuo Iguchi, a specialist in isotope analysis and radiation detection at Nagoya University in central Japan, said in a telephone interview. "If we take longer, people will give up on returning to their homes."
Soil samples showed one site with radiation from Cesium-137 exceeding 5 million becquerels per square meter about 25 kilometers to the northwest of the Fukushima plant, according to Kawata's study. Five more sites about 30 kilometers from Dai- Ichi showed radiation exceeding 1.48 million becquerels per square meter.
When asked to comment on the report today, Tokyo Electric spokesman Tetsuya Terasawa said the radiation levels are in line with those found after a nuclear bomb test, which disperses plutonium. He declined to comment further. Read More
A hardware store's owner was unloading a cargo of 27 big cylinders when the cap of one came off, leading the toxic gas to leak and spread to nearby areas. Some citizens could not breathe, while others fled in panic.
Police and fire brigades arrived immediately. Ambulances were summoned from nearby hospitals.
Lamis al-Maadawi, head of Kafr al-Sheikh's health department, said some citizens received first aid at the scene, while others were treated in hospital. She said all those hospitalized were discharged the same morning.
Head of Desouk city council, Mahmoud Zaghloul, said Governor Ahmed Abdin ordered an immediate check on the store’s license and whether the store contains safety tools.
The store owner has been detained.
Meanwhile citizens dumped the cylinders in a nearby sewage ditch, fearing further leaks. Source
Highest greenhouse gas emissions in history push global warming towards 'dangerous' levels - 30th May 2011
Estimates from the International Energy Agency show that a whopping 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide was pumped into the atmosphere last year - a worrying rise of 1.6Gt on 2009.
The IEA has warned that annual emissions should be no higher than 32Gt by 2020 if the world is to avoid the most damaging effects of global warming.
At the current rate of carbon dioxide production, the threshold of 'dangerous climate change' - defined as a global temperature rise of 2C - looks almost impossible to be avoided.
'It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker,' said Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA.
It had been hoped that the global recession would have a positive effect on emissions - but the impact so far is negligible.
If we continue the way we're going, there is a 50 per cent chance that the global average temperature will rise by more than 4C by 2100, according to Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the Stern Report into the economics of climate change in 2006.
'Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict,' Stern told the Guardian. Read More
The horrifying series of deaths in Cross Hills, North Yorkshire, occurred within an hour of owners talking their pets for a walk along the path, which has now been cordoned off.
The RSPCA say they are unsure whether the fatalities have been caused
deliberately but have appealed for dog owners to stay away from the path.
Eileen Johnson's Jack Russell Diesel was one of the first dogs to mysteriously die when he collapsed just ten minutes after returning home from a walk.
Devastated Mrs Johnson 71, had put the kettle on after the walk when she heard a thump and when she turned round she saw her six-year-old pet having a fit.
She said: 'We walk the fields five days a week and I can't believe this has
happened. He was a lovely, lively little thing.
'He'd never been ill and then he died so suddenly as if someone just came in and shot him in front of my eyes.
'We took him to the vets but by the time we got there he was already dead.
'The vet initially thought it was a heart attack, because Diesel was one of the first dogs to die, but now we're waiting for post-mortem results.'
RSPCA animal welfare officer Sally Ramsden said: 'We are extremely concerned about this situation.
'People are taking their dogs out along this footpath and within less than 20 minutes, the dogs are suffering convulsions and dying.
'We don't know what could be causing this but we strongly suspect that the dogs may have been poisoned.
'We also cannot rule out the possibility that this is being done deliberately.
'These dogs have suffered horrendously and we desperately need to hear from anyone who has information about these incidents. Read More
'We desperately want to hear from anybody who knows anything that might be able to help us with our enquiries.
'They can either contact us on 0300 1234 999, North Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060247 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.'
The huge columns of water could be seen spiralling up from the sea near Avoca Beach about 9.45am.
Up to four huge waterspouts were filmed approaching the shore as heavy storms battered the area.
Bar attendant Rebecca Rodier, 34, was travelling to work at the Avoca Beach Hotel when she saw the twisters rising up.
"It was exciting," she said.
"I have seen them before, but not as big as that.
"I have lived on the water all my life and seen some waterspouts before, so I wasn’t really worried about it hitting the shore.
"It looked like it was a huge thing out at sea, like a tornado."
The natural phenomenon occurs when a rapidly rotating column of air below a cloud causes a pressure drop, which lowers the temperature and creates swirling droplets of condensation.
Experts say they rarely hit the shore, but when they do, they can cause serious damage to coastal areas.
Last June, a natural disaster zone was declared at Lennox Head after a waterspout twister tore through the town, wrecking properties and infrastructure. Read More
At present, the moderate seismic activity of the giant volcano continues, following a number of ash falls observed in the evening of May 29th. The “orange” alert code has been assigned to the volcano warning of the danger posed by volcanic dust and emitted gases to the aircraft. Source
A Reuters photographer at the scene on Sunday said police fired live ammunition, tear gas and used water cannons to disperse demonstrators protesting outside a municipal building.
"At least 20 protesters have been killed," a protest organiser told AFP.
The demonstrators in the southern city had been demanding the release of a fellow protester who was arrested on May 28.
The clashes took place near Freedom Square where thousands of anti-government protesters have been camping since January to demand Mr Saleh's overthrow.
Police set two tents on fire in the square and protesters hurled petrol bombs and rocks at police.
Meanwhile, in the capital Sanaa, seven explosions were heard on Sunday night in the district of Hasaba, the scene of week-long fighting between Mr Saleh's forces and a rival tribe in which 115 people were killed, residents said.
There were no immediate details on the explosions, which appeared to have partially breached a truce between government forces and the powerful Hashed tribe led by Sadeq al-Ahmar in the bloodiest fighting this year.
Mr Ahmar condemned what he described as "Saleh's new massacre" against civilians in Taiz, however earlier on Sunday his men handed back control of a government building to mediators as part of a ceasefire deal. Read More
Greece last year won a 110 billion euro ($157.5 billion) rescue package from the EU and International Monetary Fund, but since then has struggled to meet its deficit reduction targets, heightening the risk of a default on its 327 billion euro debt -- equivalent to 150 percent of economic output.
European Central Bank board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi issued a dire warning against default and told the Financial Times it was a "fairytale" to think that Greece's debts could be restructured in an orderly way.
"If you look at financial markets, every time there is mention of a word like 'restructuring' or 'soft restructuring' they go crazy - which proves that this could not happen in an orderly way, in this environment at least," he said.
He added: "If Greece defaulted, the Greek banking system would collapse. It would then need a huge recapitalization -- but where would the money come from?"
The Italian said Greece could instead reduce its debt by selling assets and changing its tax and expenditure systems. "If you look at the balance sheet of Greece, it is not insolvent."
But Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou has failed to win backing from the opposition to adopt fresh austerity steps, more economic reforms and faster sales of state assets, as demanded by the EU and IMF.
"IMF SHOULD GET OUT"
Tens of thousands of protesters packed a central Athens square on Sunday to denounce the nation's entire ruling class and vent their anger at the IMF and its demands for yet more belt-tightening.
Black-hooded youths have been battling police since the austerity drive began last year, but the demonstrators who took over Syntagma Square, in front of parliament, were families, from children to the elderly, who had no class wars to wage. Read More
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said Sunday, that the report reveals satellite pictures of the North's Yongbyon Nuclear Complex as well as its Fuel Fabrication Complex and Uranium Enrichment Workshop.
The report says that the uranium enrichment centrifuges witnessed by US nuclear weapons expert Siegfried Hecker last year can not be the only ones of their type in the North.
And for that reason the report urges the council to make efforts to put an immediate stop to Pyeongyang's UEP and light-water reactor construction even if the regime insists that they were only built for experimental purposes.
The report goes on to say that all aspects of the North's nuclear program should be closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency adding that a nuclear accident at the Yongbyon complex could have very grave consequencesso safety measures should also be discussed.
However, the report has not been officially adopted by the Security Council as the North's main ally China refused to sign it.
Laah Hyun-kyung, Arirang News. Source
The first major storm of the season is now making its way across southern Japan.
It has weakened somewhat, but Tropical Storm Songda is yet another natural disaster to hit the stricken country in recent times.
This has been quite a long-lived storm, and we have been tracking its progress for more than a week now. Thankfully, it has by-and-large stayed clear of the major land masses in the Western Pacific.
It brushed the Philippines, passing to the northeast of Luzon as a typhoon before drifting east of Taiwan on its way towards Japan.
At its peak it had sustained winds of 240kmph making it a super typhoon (the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane on the Safir-Simpson Scale).
The fact that the eye of the typhoon remained over the ocean means that it has been able to maintain its warm water source, which has thus continued to feed the storm.
As a result, the outer rain bands have produced major rain events for all in its path along with very high seas. It is now weakening over the slightly cooler waters to the south of Japan and the northwest Pacific.
Feeling the effects
As the typhoon made its way towards Kyushu on Sunday morning, Japan's Meteorological Agency issued a mudslide warning for Kagoshima, where recent volcanic eruptions left the ground weak and prone to such events.
Kagoshima received 121mm of rain on Saturday. A little further south, Naze had a whopping 160mm in the same time period. Subsequently, 15,400 households suffered power cuts and 426 households lost their water supply.
Overall, the combination of strong winds and heavy rain left at least 58 people injured and 278,000 households without power. Read More
Anti-drugs laws will see restrictions placed on who can use the shops, which allow patrons to buy and smoke drugs legally.
The rules, called ‘tourism suicide’ by some, could put an end to many of the tens of thousands of visits made by Britons to Amsterdam every year.
Under legislation spearheaded by far-right politicians, only Dutch residents will be able to enter the cannabis-selling premises.
By the end of the year, would-be customers will have to sign up for a one-year membership, or ‘dope pass’, to the coffee shops.
Each shop will be allowed a maximum of 1,500 members.
Opposition MPs say the move could cost the country millions of pounds a year in lost revenue.
They also fear Dutch residents, who are allowed to possess 5g of marijuana, could sell to tourists at massively inflated prices.
But a statement from the Dutch health and justice ministries said: ‘We attract other types of tourists apart from drugs tourists.
‘This law will put an end to the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drugs trafficking.’
The country decriminalised ‘soft’ drugs in the Seventies, and has around 750 coffee shops. About 220 are in Amsterdam – mostly in the city’s red light district, where prostitution is also legal. Read More