Thursday, June 23, 2011

Concern As Syrian Troops Mass Near Border; Turkey follows suit

Syrian troops are reportedly massing near the Turkish border where hundreds of refugees have fled.

In a speech on Monday, Syria's President Assad proposed political reforms in an effort to end the anti-government protests that started in March.

But pictures have emerged which appear to show government forces brutally suppressing opponents of the regime across the country.

Human rights groups say more than 1,300 civilians have been killed across Syria since mid-March, but anti-Assad protests have continued to grow, especially on Fridays after Muslim prayers.

Syrian authorities blame Islamist militants and armed gangs for killing more than 200 police and security personnel.

Hundreds of terrified refugees have crossed into Turkey to escape an army assault, according to eyewitnesses.

A Turkish Red Crescent official said about 600 Syrians had crossed the border on Thursday morning. (read more)

Enemy of the State: Camp FEMA Part 2 -- If you haven't watched this before, you need to

Housing Crisis Leaves Ghost Town in Nevada: Empire closes after 89 years due to economic downturn



Reader contributed.

New crop circles appear in England, Italy in June (2011)

Greece's Olympic dream has turned into a nightmare for Village residents as country collapses

The two security guards slump in the abandoned shell of a building at the gateway to Athens's Olympic Village, drinking iced coffees in the heat of the day.

The vast glass edifice was once the gleaming entrance where the world's athletes signed in for the 2004 Olympics but it now stands empty, stripped of all assets including copper piping, electricity points and marble tiles.

"I don't know why we're here now," said one guard smiling behind his Ray-Bans. "Thieves took everything of value, I guess we're just here to stop the squatters moving in."

Seven years after the outpouring of national pride and delight as Athens showcased its new public works to the world, the Olympic Village, 12 miles north west of the capital in the shadow of mount Parnitha, is now a symbol of national shame.

The housing development for 10,000 was the largest single property development in recent times. Designed as accommodation for athletes during the Games, it was then destined to be turned over to public housing. Hundreds of thousands of families entered a lottery for the chance to buy homes within the leafy complex. Now only half of the apartments are filled.

"We bought into the dream," said Korinna Deligianni, a 41-year-old doctor who relocated to the new suburb from the centre of Athens in 2007. "When we looked around it was beautiful. I thought it would be a wonderful place to bring up my children, a safe environment with a village feel." (read more)

Why Britain can't live with borrowings on the scale of Japan's

With all eyes focused on Europe's unfolding fiscal crisis, I've spent the past week on the other side of the world in Japan.

There, despite public debt of a scarcely comprehensible order of magnitude and a deficit reduction strategy so lacking in credibility it would put even Ed Balls, the UK shadow chancellor to shame, there's virtually no sign of fiscal distress.

Why is this? Why is it that Japan can, year in year out, run deficits close to 10pc, causing total public indebtedness to explode through 200pc of GDP, and yet still have none of the fiscal problems that have engulfed the eurozone periphery, the horrific example of which has forced the UK Government in abject terror to embark on the fiercest round of public spending cuts since the Geddes Axe of the 1920s?

And if Japan can carry on borrowing on such a scale with no perceptible effect on bond prices – yields on Japanese government bonds (JGBs) are the lowest in the world at barely more than 1pc for 10-year money – can't Britain do the same?

The answer to this second question is a definitive no, despite the fact that the underlying causes of soaring public indebtedness are essentially the same here as in Japan. In this regard, Japan is no more than an outrider for the rest of us. It's just that Japan has been suffering from the affliction a lot longer.

The problem common to all is a post-banking crisis collapse in private demand. In such circumstances, households and corporations stop spending and save instead, causing a vicious cycle of falling demand. (read more)

Global markets spooked by recovery concerns; Oil plunge after reserves tapped

Confidence in the global recovery was sent reeling yesterday by a flood of weak economic data that wiped billions off stock markets as investors fled to the safe haven of government bonds.

Poor US employment figures, fresh concerns that Greece may trigger a wider financial crisis, and a slowdown in private-sector activity in China and Europe compounded fears that global growth may be stalling.

"It is difficult to know where to start on a day like today, as the bad news continued to bludgeon already punch-drunk investors," said David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index.

Britain's blue-chip index lost £26bn as the FTSE 100 shed 98.61 points to close at 5,674.38, its weakest since mid-March, with banks and miners leading the slide. European markets followed suit, ending the day at a three-month low.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones closed down 59.67 points at 12,050, after making up more than 100 points on late-afternoon reports that Greece may have reached a deal for a new austerity plan.

On currency markets, the pound slumped to its lowest level against the dollar since April 1, falling 1.57 cents to $1.5977 as traders speculated that the Bank of England won't raise rates until the second half of 2012. (read more)

7.4 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 24th June 2011

A magnitude 7.4earthquake has struck Fox Islands. Aleutian Islands in Alaska at a depth of 46.8 km (29.1 miles), the quake hit at 03:09:39 UTC Friday 24th June 2011.
The epicenter was 64 km (39 miles) South West of Amukta Island, Alaska

No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. No reports of Damage as yet.

Two men charged with plan to attack military recruiting station

Two U.S. citizens from Seattle and Los Angeles -- described as "would-be terrorists" by the FBI -- have been arrested and charged with plotting to kill Americans enlisting in the armed forces in Seattle, federal officials announced Thursday.

The men were identified as Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, (also known as Joseph Anthony Davis), 33, of Seattle; and Walli Mujahidh, (also known as Frederick Domingue Jr.) 32, of Los Angeles.

"Driven by a violent extreme ideology, these two young Americans are charged with plotting to murder men and women who were enlisting in the armed forces to serve and protect our country," said a top counter-terrorism official at the Justice Department.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Todd Hinnen said the threat was averted and the public was not endangered because of the intervention of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

When the suspects attempted to recruit a third man, that individual instead went to the police, authorities said.

"Because someone stepped forward we were able to disrupt a very deadly attack," said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.

Agents began monitoring Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh in the past month and collected audio and videotapes of the pair discussing a violent assault on the Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle.

Law enforcement officials said that unbeknownst to the defendants, the weapons they obtained, including machine guns, were rendered inoperable and posed no risk to the public. (read more)

Riots & Mobs Coming to a Town Near You

We've been quite clear about what we think is going to happen in the coming months and years. We expect either a US Government and Eurozone default, leading to serious repercussions in the western world as entitlements, pensions and banks all collapse leaving tens of millions destitute. Or, the US dollar to be hyperinflated to worthlessness, bringing down every other fiat currency in the world and causing massive problems such as starvation as modern systems of trade and transport break down.

In either case there will also be a deep, serious depression of a magnitude much worse than in the 1930s.

Symptoms of this eventuality are already being seen around the world. Food and commodity prices are skyrocketing led by fiat currency inflation around the globe leading to food riots and shortages. In the US there are daily reports of thieves stealing copper wire from power substations, power poles and church air conditioners as the price of copper and all commodities soar due to the monetary inflation caused by the likes of Ben Bernanke.

This, plus the realization that the American Empire, and all of its tentacles, are in collapse has led to countless countries entering into revolutions.

It is hard to keep track of all the protests, riots, large-scale mob fights and wars around the world. It is even harder to keep track because You Tube is complying with thousands of requests from governments to censor and remove videos that show protests and other examples of citizens simply asserting their rights, while also deleting search terms by government mandate.

Just in the last few weeks, however, there has been riots, protests and mob fights in at least the following cities and countries: Miami (weekend war zone), Boston (more than 1,000 person gang fight), Charlotte Beach, NY (over 100 youths fighting), Vancouver (10,000+ hockey riot), Greece (tens of thousands riot), Spain (thousands protest and riot), Yemen (tens of thousands protest, many shot), Syria (thousands protest, many shot), China (thousands riot for 3 days), Russia (police crush protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg) and countless others. (read more)

A rural life is better: Living in a concrete jungle is stressful and make you vulnerable to depression

Scientists have confirmed what every urbanite has long suspected – life in the city is more stressful.

Researchers have shown that the parts of the brain dealing with stress and emotion are affected by living among the crowds.

The findings help shed light on why those who are born and raised in urban areas are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and schizophrenia than those brought up in the countryside.

The team of international scientists behind the finding are unsure why city life is so bad for the nerves.

However, past studies have shown that exposure to green space reduces stress, boosts health and makes us less vulnerable to depression. The findings come from the brain scans of 32 healthy volunteers from urban and rural areas. (read more)

Trichet Says Risk Signals Are Flashing Red as Debt Crisis Threatens Banks

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said risk signals for financial stability in the euro area are flashing “red” as the debt crisis threatens to infect banks.

“On a personal basis I would say ‘yes, it is red’,” Trichet said late yesterday in Frankfurt after a meeting of the European Systemic Risk Board, referring to the group’s planned “dashboard” to monitor risks. “The message of the board is that” the link between debt problems and banks “is the most serious threat to financial stability in the European Union.”

Trichet, who chairs the ESRB, made the remarks as European leaders meet in Brussels to discuss how to stave off a Greek default, while preparing a second bailout. The EU is trying to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis that followed the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ) and resulted in European governments setting aside more than $5 trillion to support banks.

The yield difference, or spread, between 10-year German bunds and Greek securities of a similar maturity was at 1,388 basis points today, up from 1,317 at the beginning of the month. Swaps on Greece rose 25 basis points to 2,012, signalling an 82 percent chance of default within five years, according to CMA. (read more)

Surge in gold and silver ownership worldwide as "doomsday" nears -- prospects of multiple national defaults causes panic

As the implications of the global financial crisis are at long last beginning to filter through to the general public, the move to dump cash and other savings forms in favour of gold and silver - notably in the easily accessible and sellable coin form is now really beginning to gather momentum and is becoming a major driver of the precious metals markets.

We have long known that the rising, and rapidly expanding, middle classes in Asia have an almost inbuilt propensity to keep a significant proportion of their savings in gold while the less costly silver is now beginning to come into the equation. This has been emphasised recently with the news that the people's Bank of China has already had to virtually more than double its minting of its gold and silver Panda series of coins, despite the previous quota for this year itself already being double last year's with the populace buying gold and silver as a hedge against the onset of inflation there.

Now we hear that the Perth Mint in Australia has been selling record numbers of silver coins so far this year and although we don't have figures yet, gold coin sales there are also said to be at record numbers.

In the U.S., the U.S. Mint has been reporting record sales levels of its gold and silver coins, while we hear that, not surprisingly, the Greeks are flocking to purchase gold and silver in the midst of their financial crisis as their trust in banks has virtually disappeared. (read more)

Under Obama, U.S. Casualty Rate in Afghanistan Increased 5-Fold

The average monthly casualty rate for U.S. military forces serving in Afghanistan has increased 5-fold since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009.

1,540 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Oct. 7, 2001, when U.S. forces began fighting in that country to oust the Taliban regime that had been harboring al Qaeda and to track down and capture or kill al Qaeda terrorists.

During the Bush presidency, which ended on Jan. 20, 2009 with the inauguration of President Obama, U.S. troops were present in Afghanistan for 87.4 months and suffered 570 casualties—a rate of 6.5 deaths per month.

During the Obama presidency, through today, U.S. troops have been present in Afghanistan for 29.1 months and have suffered 970 casualties—a rate of 33.3 deaths per month. (read more)

US to Lose Second Place in World Trade to India: Citibank

In less than 40 years India will overtake the US as the world’s second-largest trading nation, pushing today's superpower into third place and Europe in to the little leagues, according to a new report by Citi.

“According to our projections, world trade in goods and services will grow from $37 trillion in 2010 to $149 trillion in 2030 and $371 trillion in 2050,” Citigroup’s William Buiter and Ebrahim Rahbari wrote in a research note released on Thursday.

“But at least as interesting as the growth in world trade that we forecast are the changes in its composition that we expect over the course of the next four decades, with today's emerging markets set to gain much more prominence in world trade relative to advanced economies,” they added.

The report predicts that trade between emerging markets will overtake that between advanced economies in just four years in a clear sign that the world’s major economies of Europe and North America are set to lose relative importance to the global economy.

The big winner according to the report will be Asia. “Developing Asia accounted for 24 percent of world trade in 2010, but its share is expected to reach 42 percent by 2030 and 46 percent by 2050,” said Buiter and Rahbari. (read more)

Mining Stocks, Gold and Silver Bullion May Be Ports in Upcoming Financial Storm

Foreign governments are buying gold at levels not seen in 30 years due to risk of further declines in the US dollar.

The Obama team is dedicated to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s philosophy of avoiding depression through the printing press to proliferate cheap money. We are being set up for the acceptance of quantitative stimulus by whatever means and guises necessary.

Until now, everything was coming up roses. National recovery was in the air. Then, all of sudden these past few weeks, data turned on a dime? Economists were compelled to rethink hitherto positive figures. Are we being programmed to believe more quantitative easing is necessary?

It would not be surprising if we were finessed into acceptance of inflationary policies. Bills could be paid with cheap dollars. Moribund local and state governments could pay off their strangling debts. Think of our swollen budget being paid with cheap dollars. A seemingly simple solution to a complex problem. However, there may be another side to this.

Our erstwhile allies, such as China and Russia, have been making noise about setting up an alternative currency. Witness Greece and the PIIGS nations (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain). They are desperate for money to extricate themselves from their financial quicksands. More bailouts, anyone? (read more)

Jobs Picture Grows Worse as Weekly Claims Post Jump

New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting little improvement in the labor market this month after employment stumbled in May.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week's figure was revised up to 420,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims to edge up to 415,000 from a previously reported count of 414,000.

The claims report covers the survey period for the government's closely watched data on nonfarm payrolls for June.

Claims increased 15,000 between the May and June survey periods, implying little or no gains in nonfarm payrolls this month after a modest 54,000 increase in May.

The data is the latest in a series to underscore the weakness in the economy, which has persisted through the second quarter.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday acknowledged the slowdown, but generally perceived it as temporary. Although it cut its growth forecasts and downgraded its view of the labor market, it gave no indication of further monetary support.

The U.S. central bank confirmed it was winding up its $600 billion bond-buying program at the end of June. (read more)

Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson calls for three days of prayer and fasting to end financial crisis

To help Harrisburg out of its financial crisis, area Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders have called for three days of fasting and praying for a more cooperative spirit among Harrisburg government leaders, the business community and residents.

The voluntary event will start at midnight on Tuesday and run through 5 p.m. Friday. During that time, various churches and temples will be open to the public.

Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson said she will participate in the event.

The Rev. Herb Stoner, pastor of adult training at Christ Community Church of Camp Hill, said the answers to problems in Harrisburg and the region won’t be found in the wisdom or ability of humans.

“Therefore, united, we turn our hearts to God, knowing that he is good, and that his plans for the capitol region will give us a bright future and a glorious hope,” Stoner said. (read more)

Illinois Teen Dies Trying to Save Dog From Being Put Down

An Illinois family remained in shock Thursday after a teenage girl died in a car accident while attempting to save her pet dog from being put down.

Taylor Mae Stinchcomb, 15, stole the family minivan and fled her home in Gurnee, Lake County at midnight Tuesday with her cancer-stricken Doberman, Romulus, and a friend, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

When Taylor became too distressed to drive, the 15-year-old friend took over the wheel.

The unnamed friend later lost control of the van and crashed into several trees and a utility pole, police said.

Taylor was taken to the hospital where she died of multiple internal injuries. Her dog Romulus was thrown from the vehicle and also killed. The friend survived.

"This case is absolutely heartbreaking," Lake County Undersheriff Charles Fagan said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of both girls involved in this incident."

It is not clear where the girls were heading in the van or if they had a plan. (read more)


Unseen Vancouver riot footage: Shame on you, Vancouver -- Is society so violent and far gone that there's no hope left?



Bizarre crop formation in Russia: Foreshadowing forest fires, or meaningless phenomena?

Saturn moon's ice shows signs of salty sea and strengthen evidence for an actual ocean on Enceladus

Saturn's icy moon Enceladus conceals a salty ocean beneath its frozen surface, scientists now suspect.

Using NASA's Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, scientists have discovered that the water geysers erupting from Enceladus contain a significant amount of salt — enough to suggest the presence of a subterranean sea.

The finding might have implications for the possibility of life on Enceladus, researchers said.

A team of scientists led by Frank Postberg of the University of Heidelberg used Cassini's Cosmic Dust Analyzer to directly examine the plumes during three flybys by the Cassini spacecraft. Individual particles were analyzed as they hit a metal target, and the ones closer to the moon's surface were found to have a high salt content.

"The salt-rich ice grains are, on average, heavier than the salt-poor ice grains," Postberg told Space.com in an email. "Only a relatively small fraction of the salty particles escape into the E ring." The E ring is the outermost of Saturn's seven ring groupings, and it is made up of particles ejected by Enceladus' geyser plumes. (read more)

Oprah denies OJ Simpson Confession: Has Murder Become Entertainment? - 23rd June 2011

It looks an O.J. Simpson confession to Oprah Winfrey to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman will not happen. Winfrey's company denied the report.

The National Enquirer reported on Wednesday that Simpson was ready to sit down for an interview with Winfrey in which he would admit to the murders. The tabloid said Simpson had told a Winfrey producer that he did it in self-defense, that Nicole came at him with a knife.

But apparently there will be no interview. A spokesperson for Harpo Productions told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, "That's not true."

Winfrey herself sparked the talk of a Simpson interview at a cable television conference last week when she said, "I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me, and I am going to make that happen people."

The crowd cheered, and she added, "I don't just want the interview. I want the interview on the condition that you are ready, Mr. Simpson."

Simpson was acquitted of the 1994 murders. He is currently in prison in Nevada after being convicted of a botched robbery in an attempt to retrieve his football memorabilia. Source

Chinese warships cross high seas off Japan island

Japan's Defense Ministry said Thursday 11 Chinese warships were spotted in international waters off the country's southern island of Okinawa.

No territorial violations were claimed by Japan, but the movements are sensitive because Japan and China have a dispute over small islands in the East China Sea.

The ministry on Thursday said the Chinese warships were monitored passing from the Pacific Ocean into the East China Sea.

Ministry spokesman Shuichi Fukuya said they were believed to be returning from target practice and refueling exercises in waters about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) south of Okinawa.

He said the Japanese military saw the Chinese warships heading out to the area June 8-9.

Separately, the foreign ministry said a Chinese maritime research vessel briefly entered Japan's exclusive economic zone Thursday, around 330 kilometers (205 miles) off the coast of Miyagi, one of the worst-hit areas in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

A coast guard patrol vessel issued a warning against the Chinese ship, which left the economic zone around four hours later. (Source)

Greece Budget Hole Threatens to Swallow Europe, Defies Debt-Crisis Fix

George Papandreou was staring into a 20 billion-euro ($29 billion) hole.

It’s common for freshly minted leaders to discover that there’s not enough money to pay for their campaign promises. So when Papandreou’s new Greek government woke up to a looming budget disaster within days of taking office in October 2009, the alarm bells were slow to ring in European capitals.

Don’t “overrate” the problem, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, later to play a pivotal role in the debt saga that continues to rock the 17-nation euro area. “There are deficits in other parts of the world as well.”

That initial reaction foreshadowed European leaders’ failure to tame a crisis that is entering its 21st month and has world leaders growing anxious over the prospect of a new financial tsunami as they shake off the effects of the last one. On June 7, President Barack Obama told Merkel it was her job to stop an “uncontrolled spiral of default.” China’s central bank warned on June 14 of a “major risk” incubating in Europe.

“This has unravelled badly,” said Paul de Grauwe, an economics professor at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and a two-time candidate for a European Central Bank post. “The most favorable scenario is that we can bridge the next six months. The less favorable scenario is this gets out of control.” (read more)

Shark cage-diving stirs controversy in South Africa

Submerged chest-deep in a cage, seven tourists clad in wet suits helplessly bobbed in the Atlantic Ocean's relentless swells. Many had traveled halfway around the world to South Africa, where they hoped to catch a glimpse of the ocean's most fierce and feared creature: the great white shark.

The cage was the only thing between the predator and them. Half-inch bars didn't seem thick enough or close enough together; a man's leg could slip through easily. And wet suits didn't keep the divers' lips from turning sickly shades of purple in the 50-degree water.

But soon enough, they forgot about the cage and the cold. A 15-foot great white appeared 10 feet away in the murky water. A crew member tossed a bait line to coax it in. The shark lurched toward the cage as it pursued the bait, its jaws wide open, revealing rows upon rows of teeth.

Then, as quickly as it appeared, the shark was gone. The tourists resurfaced, amazed by what they'd just seen.

These thrilling excursions are at the heart of a controversy flaring along the South African coast that pits the decade-old cage-diving industry against surfers and environmental activists. The critics charge that one of South Africa's most popular tourist attractions is contributing to an increase in shark attacks and fatalities because the bait tour operators use — fish oils, blood, even tuna heads — is conditioning the great whites to associate humans with easy meals. (read more)

Nuclear experts killed in Russia plane crash helped design Iran facility

The five nuclear experts killed in a plane crash in northern Russia earlier this week had assisted in the design of an Iranian atomic facility, security sources in Russia said on Thursday.

The five Russian experts were among the 44 passengers killed when the Tupolev-134 plane broke up and caught fire on landing outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk on Monday.

The experts - who included lead designers Sergei Rizhov, Gennadi Benyok, Nicolai Tronov and Russia's top nuclear technological experts, Andrei Tropinov - worked at Bushehr after the contract for the plant's construction passed from the German Siemens company to Russian hands.

The five were employed at the Hydropress factory, a member of Russia's state nuclear corporation, and one of the main companies to contract for the Bushehr construction.

The sources said that the death of the scientists is a great blow to the Russian nuclear industry.

The experts were tasked with completing construction of the plant and ensuring that it would be able to survive an earthquake. (read more)

Ahmadinejad: Iran not afraid to make nuke weapon

Iran's president says his country isn't afraid of making a nuclear weapon but doesn't intend to do so.

Iranian state television on Thursday quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying: "If we do want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody."

Iran has long insisted that its nuclear programs are peaceful and meant only to generate power for a future nuclear reactor network.

But the U.N. Security Council has passed four sets of sanctions against Iran for refusing to freeze activities that could be used in a weapons program.

The U.N. says Iran also blocked an IAEA probe into allegations of secret experiments that could reflect attempts to develop an arms program. (read more)

The Legendary Athens Greece Riot Dog



Click here to see a still photo gallery of "Riot Dog" at all the various protests in Athens since 2008.

There have been lots of riots and protests from both anarchists and workers in Athens, Greece specially the past few years. One interesting thing is that there is one dog that is spotted at these riots from 2008 till today.

It is the same dog on every picture and it is funny how it takes part in riots over several years. It is not sure but it has been guessed that the owner is one of the demonstrators. (Source)

We wanted to share this with you guys because of how symbolic Riot Dog has become. Riot dog is doing what we all should be doing: protesting often, no matter the opposition, and demanding compensation for the wrongs committed against mankind by a clique of mean, greedy individuals in suits and ties. Let's all reflect upon this animal, and how we can be more like him. Let's share his fearlessness.

Greek unions call 48-hour strike to protest planned cuts as situation worsens by the day

Greek unions have declared a 48-hour general strike next week to protest new austerity measures set to be voted on by the Greek Parliament, one of Greece's biggest umbrella unions told CNN Thursday.

The strike will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) said. A rally is planned for Tuesday that will end outside the Parliament building.

Greece's Parliament is due to vote Tuesday on a tough five-year package of tax increases and spending cuts.

The austerity measures must be passed if Greece is to win the last $17 billion tranche of a $156 billion bailout package from other European nations that was granted in 2010, and also to clear the way for another potential bailout package to keep Greece afloat going forward.

The unions' call for strike action comes less than two days after Prime Minister George Papandreou and his reshuffled Cabinet survived a vote of confidence, amid widespread public opposition to further austerity moves.

The economic crisis has inspired rioting in the streets of Athens in recent weeks, where protesters have thrown firebombs and clashed with armored police. (read more)

Number of millionaires soared in 2010 -- But what about the rest of us left behind?

The number and total worth of the world's millionaires both jumped significantly last year, rebounding after anemic growth during the recessionary years of 2008 and 2009.

An annual report by CapGemini and Merrill Lynch issued Thursday said the number of rich people in the world grew by 8.3 per cent in 2010. The paper defines rich as having investable assets of more than $1 million US (so, not including the value of a primary residence).

The figure only grew by 0.2 per cent between 2007 and 2009 before rebounding last year.

The report found that there are now 10.9 million people in the world with more than $1 million worth of investable assets. While the sheer number grew, so too did their total value, which hit $42.7 trillion in 2010 — a 9.7 per cent increase.

The U.S. is still home to the largest percentage of millionaires in the world by country. There are 3.1 million Americans who meet the threshold, good enough for 28.6 per cent of the world's total.

The number of rich Asians surpassed the number of rich Europeans for the first time. In Asia, the number grew by 9.7 per cent last year to 3.3 million — good enough to pass Europe, where the figure grew 6.3 per cent to 3.1 million.

Buoyed by booming real estate markets, rich people in Asia saw their collective worth jump by 12.1 per cent to $10.8 trillion. In Europe, the value of millionaires increased by 7.2 per cent to $10.2 trillion.

All in all, more than half of the world's millionaires live in three countries — the U.S., Japan and Germany. (read more)

Jewish bodies found in medieval well in Norwich -- Persecution is timeless

The remains of 17 bodies found at the bottom of a medieval well in England could have been victims of persecution, new evidence has suggested.

The most likely explanation is that those down the well were Jewish and were probably murdered or forced to commit suicide, according to scientists who used a combination of DNA analysis, carbon dating and bone chemical studies in their investigation.

The skeletons date back to the 12th or 13th Centuries at a time when Jewish people were facing persecution throughout Europe.

They were discovered in 2004 during an excavation of a site in the centre of Norwich, ahead of construction of the Chapelfield Shopping Centre. The remains were put into storage and have only recently been the subject of investigation.

Seven skeletons were successfully tested and five of them had a DNA sequence suggesting they were likely to be members of a single Jewish family.

DNA expert Dr Ian Barnes, who carried out the tests, said: "This is a really unusual situation for us. This is a unique set of data that we have been able to get for these individuals.

"I am not aware that this has been done before - that we have been able to pin them down to this level of specificity of the ethnic group that they seem to come from." (read m0re)

Ai Weiwei 'cannot leave Beijing' as persecution continues

China's foreign ministry has said that artist Ai Weiwei cannot leave Beijing without permission, a day after he was freed from police detention.

Mr Ai - a vocal government critic - was bailed after the Chinese authorities said he had confessed to tax evasion. Mr Ai said he was unable to comment.

The 54-year-old's arrest in April sparked an international outcry.

Mr Ai was held for 80 days at a secret detention centre with no access to a lawyer or contact with his family.

Western governments had demanded Mr Ai's release and that of many other activists who have been rounded up by China's authorities in recent months, in what is the most serious crackdown on dissidents in China in many years.

Silenced?

Speaking on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei outlined the terms of Mr Ai's bail, which are valid for 12 months.

"During this period, Ai Weiwei is still under investigation. Without permission... he is not allowed to leave his area of residence," Mr Hong told reporters. (read more)

Levi Bellfield Guilty Of Milly Dowler Murder - 23rd June 2011

Nightclub bouncer Levi Bellfield has been convicted of abducting and murdering schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

It is Bellfield's third murder conviction and makes him Britain's newest serial killer.

He lured 13-year-old Milly into his flat as she walked home from school, killed her and later dumped her naked body in a remote wood where he used to walk his dog.

Milly's mother Sally and sister Gemma, 25, collapsed in hysterics after hearing the verdict at the Old Bailey.

Police mistakes let Bellfield, 43, avoid capture and destroy vital evidence.

The violent predator went on to stalk and murder two young women and tried to kill a third before he was arrested.

In standard house-to-house inquiries detectives called at Bellfield's flat 11 times until they got an answer. By that time he had moved and officers did not bother to find out where he had gone.

Bellfield's conviction brings to a close one of Britain's most notorious unsolved murders.

Milly - real name Amanda - vanished in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on a Spring afternoon in 2002.

She had just shared a plate of chips with friends at the railway station and set off alone to walk the mile to the family's home.

There were few clues to her disappearance, no witnesses, no CCTV images, no forensic evidence to identify her abductor.

For several weeks her father Bob Dowler was put under police surveillance as a major suspect, a suspicion that grew when detectives learned that Milly had been upset to discover his "extreme porn" magazines and had threatened to run away. Mr Dowler was later ruled out of the investigation.

During the trial Milly's parents were questioned about his sex life and the discovery of bondage gear in the family loft.

Mum Sally broke down in the witness box and her elder sister Gemma later fled the court in tears at her mother's distress and was too distraught to give evidence herself. Read More

Fox News Tries To Bribe Reporters : Media Blackout - FDA Approves Monsanto Poison Milk. - 22nd June 2011

Fukushima nuke plant struggles with contaminated water - 23rd June 2011

A system to treat contaminated water that is impeding repairs at Japan's damaged nuclear power plant is not performing as well as hoped but should be functioning fully next month, a government official said Thursday.

Since the March 11 tsunami, workers have cooled the reactors and spent fuel by pumping fresh water, which becomes contaminated with radiation. About 110,000 tons of tainted water have accumulated, threatening to leak into the sea and posing health risks and logistical hurdles to the workers struggling to make repairs at the plant.

"The contaminated water problem is the biggest barrier right now," said Goshi Hosono, director of the government's nuclear crisis task force. "We are anxious to stabilize the treatment system one way or the other."

Problems were expected along the way, he said, but added that he wanted to get the system fully operational by the end of June and running stably by mid-July.

"The water treatment system is a key step toward bringing the reactors to cold shutdowns," he said. The plant operator and the government's goal for cold shutdown is early January.

Workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have struggled to get the treatment system fully operational before the tainted water overflows. It's estimated that could happen in early July.

The contaminated water has hampered work to install a sustainable cooling system at the reactors. Unit 1 is close to that stage, but the other two reactors have fallen behind due to high radiation or large amounts of debris.

The water treatment system involves parts from around the world.

Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi have developed oil- and salt-removal components, but a trial run Wednesday of a component developed by Kurion Inc. of the United States only reduced the level of radioactive cesium to one-tenth of what had been expected, TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said.

A component made by French nuclear giant Areva SA also underperformed, he said.

The treatment system was halted last week when a cartridge reached its limit of radioactive cesium after only five hours, not several weeks as expected. After cleaning and adjustments, the system is being tested and has intermittently processed nearly 2,000 tons of water, Matsumoto said.

Hosono said the system was assembled in a rush and problems were not surprising since the system has never been tested in an environment as severe as Fukushima Dai-ichi. He said he also has instructed TEPCO to secure extra tanks as emergency storage for the water to keep it from leaking into the ocean. Source

Europe's E. coli death toll increases to 43 - 23rd June 2011

Germany's national disease control center says the death toll from Europe's E. coli outbreak has risen to 43.

The Robert Koch Institute said Thursday that 42 deaths have now been reported in Germany, up from 39 a day earlier. One person has died in Sweden.

It wasn't immediately clear when the three additional deaths occurred. There is sometimes a delay in reporting cases.

The number of new infections has declined significantly over the past two weeks.

The disease control center says a total of 3,688 people have now been reported ill in Germany, including 823 suffering from a complication that can lead to kidney failure. Another 114 cases have been reported in other countries.

The source of the bacteria has been traced to a vegetable sprout farm in northern Germany. Source

Anthony Harrison was voodoo wizard who trafficked young girls, kept them in coffins and forced them to eat hearts' - 23rd June 2011

A council caretaker trafficked girls as young as 14 into Britain to work as prostitutes after they had been put under a voodoo spell, a court heard yesterday.

Anthony Harrison, 32, is alleged to have raped two girls in Britain after they had been subjected to an extraordinary African black magic ritual by a people-smuggling gang.

The terrifying ceremony was performed in Nigeria by a Juju priest to trap the girls into a life of sex slavery, it was said.

During the ritual, a 16-year-old girl was taken to a shrine where she was stripped naked by two men and slashed dozens of times with a razor so the priest could collect her blood which was placed in a coffin, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

In a terrifying ordeal 'little short of torture', the girl's body hair was shaved off, her arms were bound behind her back and she was forced to lie naked and covered in blood in another coffin, jurors were told.

The victim also allegedly had to eat the raw heart of a freshly slaughtered chicken as part of the spell by the priest, who told her that he had access to her soul and if she did not obey his commands he could visit her in her dreams and 'kill her from within'.

In another ritual, a 14-year-old girl was made to swear an oath of loyalty to a Juju medicine man who took her to a river and told her to eat some white clay, having passed a rock from his mouth to hers.

The youngster was instructed to wash with black soap and also given a raw chicken's heart to eat, it was said. Read More

Nafisa and Mohammed Karolia hid abuse of baby daughter who died by switching her with twin to fool social workers, court told - 23rd June 2011

A couple abused their baby daughter - but repeatedly deceived health professionals by showing them her identical twin sister instead, a court heard.

Nafisa and Mohammed Karolia from Blackburn, Lancashire, allegedly inflicted a catalogue of more than 20 injuries on the seven-month-old baby, identified as Twin M, who died of lung problems.

But although the pair were not held responsible for Twin M's death, the court heard that throughout her short life they concealed what the prosecution described as a 'battery of non-accidental injuries'.

Whenever health visitors or social workers visited, they would show them her uninjured sister, Twin A, instead, a jury at Preston Crown Court heard.

The couple hid Twin M from health visitors until her death in June 2009, a jury was told.

Instead they presented her unharmed identical sibling Twin A to social workers, swapped certificates and made up excuses as to why the other baby wasn't at home, the court heard.

Twin M died of bronchopneumonia. A post mortem examination revealed more than 20 separate injuries including seven fractures, brain bleeds and facial bruising.

Prosecutor Joe Boyd said parents Nafisa, 22, and taxi driver Mohammed, 29, 'wilfully' inflicted the injuries and that it would have been 'impossible not to notice them'.

He said: 'The inescapable conclusion is that her parents should have been responsible for her well-being, but sadly they became responsible for her abuse.

'The sheer number of injuries, the number of different and separate incidents there must have been to cause them, the timescale from months to hours before death in which they were caused and the lack of any plausible explanation from the parents as to how they were caused, leads inexplicably to the conclusion that they were inflicted deliberately by one or both of the parents. Read More

Jason Owen Baby P killer to be freed after less than four years (and he's demanding a new identity) - 23rd June 2011

The sadistic lodger who was jailed for his part in Baby P’s death will be out in six weeks – and is demanding a new identity.

Jason Owen, who was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of Baby Peter, insists he is innocent and believes he should be granted the chance to start a fresh life free from trouble.

According to a report, he has been telling his fellow inmates at Wandsworth Prison in London that he wants to move to the Kent coast with his girlfriend.

A friend of the family told The Daily Mirror: ‘Owen reckons he never had anything to do with what went on with Peter and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is why he should be able to start a new life with no one knowing who he his.

‘He and his missus talk all the time about getting set up in a nice big council house near the beach.’

Owen, whose brother was Baby P's stepfather Steven Barker, is being released at a time when the boss of Great Ormond Street, who ran the clinic that treated baby Peter Connelly in the days before his death in on August 3, 2007, is coming under increasing pressure to stand down.

Dr Jane Collins allegedly covered up vital information from the Baby P inquiry. A hospital spokesman has said: 'There was no intention by Great Ormond Street Hospital management to hide anything.'

Baby P was seen by Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, who failed to spot he had a broken back and thought the child was just ‘miserable and cranky’. Read More

Ryan Cleary's Mother watches from gallery he 'cyber hacker' is accused of bringing down 'British FBI' site - 23rd June 2011

The mother of a teenager accused of hacking into the British equivalent of the FBI today told how feared he would commit suicide as he appeared in court.

Rita Cleary, dressed in black, wore a pained expression as she watched magistrates remand her son Ryan, 19, in custody to allow police to quiz him about attacks on the CIA and U.S. Senate.

But Mrs Cleary, 45, fears her son, who was described by a ‘vulnerable young man, would attempt to kill himself if he was not granted bail soon.

Cleary is accused of hacking the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.

He appeared for the first time in public at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court after he was charged with five hacking offences.

The reclusive computer nerd is said to be ‘cooperating’ with Scotland Yard in their probe into LulzSec, a hacking group which has claimed responsibility for computer attacks on Soca website, the CIA, U.S. Senate, NHS and games firms, Sony and Nintendo.

Today the loner was remanded in custody for up to three days to allow detectives to question him about other alleged computer offences in America, which could result in him facing extradition.

But his mother Rita, 45, warned that any attempt to extradite him to the United States would be a death sentence for him.

Today the alleged hacker, who suffers from agoraphobia, appeared anxious and frightened during the short hearing. Read More

Three Held Over Fatal 'Burglar' Stabbing - 23rd June 2011

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a suspected burglar was stabbed to death at a home in Salford.

It is believed the 26-year-old man was part of a gang that had been trying to get into a property in Pendlebury just before midnight on Wednesday.

The owner of the home on Ethel Avenue is thought to have disturbed the group, who were wearing balaclavas, as they began their raid.

Residents said they understood intruders tried to break into the back door, then police received a 999 call from a woman at the house.

The dead man was apparently carried away from the address by the other gang members as they fled. He died later in hospital.

A post mortem is due to be carried out but officers said he had at least one stab wound. The man has yet to be formally identified.

The three arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing are a 59-year-old man, 27-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman.

Sky News understands they are the homeowner Pete Flanagan, his son Neil and Neil's girlfriend.

Neighbour Sylvia Sharp-Cadigan said: "I went to bed at 10 o'clock and about 12 heard all this commotion, all voices. There was four police cars outside.

"I came down and said to the police, 'What's going on?'

"He said, 'There's been a break-in'. I said, 'Is anybody hurt?' and he said, 'I can't say any more'."

Mrs Sharp-Cadigan, 67, described Mr Flanagan as a "worker" who left early in the mornings and his son as a "lad" who had a lot of visitors to the house.

She added: "We are all upset because it is a quiet little street, we never have any bother. You don't like it on your own doorstep."

A cordon has been put up around the terrace house, which backs on to open scrubland.

Greater Manchester Police said an investigation was in its early stages. Read More

Afghanistan: France follows US in troop withdrawal -- also heading for Libya?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced the phased withdrawal of its 4,000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

A statement said the French would follow the timetable of US withdrawals announced by President Barack Obama.

Mr Obama said 10,000 US troops would pull out this year, with another 23,000 leaving by the end of September 2012.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the move, but the Taliban dismissed it as "symbolic" and vowed to continue fighting until all foreign forces left.

At least 68,000 US troops will remain in the country after the 33,000 have been withdrawn, but they are scheduled to leave by 2013, provided that Afghan forces are ready to take over security.

However the US reductions just announced are larger and faster than military commanders had advised. (read more)

Minot flood evacuees scramble for shelter

Thousands of residents being forced from their homes due to expected historic flooding in Minot, N.D., are scrambling to find places to relocate.

It's a region that boasts few vacancies largely due to an oil boom in western North Dakota leading to an influx of workers. Some stay in Minot for months at a time and drive 112 miles west to the rigs.

Plans are in place to construct so-called man camps to house the workers.

Officials said as many as 10,000 residents — a quarter of the city's population — had evacuated Minot by Wednesday as the Mouse River (known as the Souris River in Canada) breached levees in some places and sirens sounded to order people out.

With few hotel rooms available, they were staying in city shelters, on friends' couches or even in cars.

Aquira Fritt, 23 years old and 7 ½ months pregnant, planned to spend the night in a van with her boyfriend and five-year-old son.

"There are no hotel rooms, no campers to rent, nothing," Fritt said Wednesday, shortly before the emergency sirens blared. "It's very stressful and it's very annoying." (read more)

Syria: Refugees flee border camps as troops deploy -- Turkey forces move to border: War?


Hundreds of Syrian refugees are fleeing across the border into Turkey to escape an assault by Syrian troops in the area, witnesses say.

Tanks and snipers have entered the village of Khirbet al-Jouz - a base for makeshift refugee camps.

One group of people broke through barbed wire to cross the border close to the Turkish village of Guvecci.

More than 1,300 people are estimated to have been killed in the government crackdown on the popular uprising.

Thousands more protesters have been detained since the crackdown began in March, opposition activists say.

The recent military offensive in the north of the country forced thousands of Syrians to flee towards Turkey.

Many crossed the border, but a significant number opted to camp on the Syrian side of the border - preferring to remain on Syrian soil as long as possible.

One man said 2,130 people in his camp had fled Khirbet al-Jouz to avoid being attacked by the army, which was surrounding the numerous camps on the Syrian side of the border.

"This is a way of terrorising people," the man told BBC Arabic.

"Our group here is informing the world of what is going on inside Syria. [The authorities] don't like it, so they want to either arrest or kill these people, so that there are no more people who can follow the news from inside Syria. It is just terror for everybody." (read more)

A Thaw Before the Storm? How the Debt Ceiling Could Shock the U.S. Economy With Another "Lehman Moment"

Almost three years ago crushing debt brought Lehman Brothers, a 158-year-old investment bank to its knees. It was a bankrupctcy bigger than any our world has ever seen. Lehman's failure was 10 times the size of Enron. If fact, its demise was bigger than the spectacular failures of General Motors, Chrysler, Worldcom, Delta Airlines and Enron. Combined!

The event caused one of the most severe, heart stopping shocks to our global economy. The pain is still being felt (just ask the people of Greece) and will be for years to come. Within 4 months of Lehman's collapse the US economy lost more than 3 million jobs and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedded more than 4,000 points. 401k's became 201k's, the wealth destruction was profound. Anyone reading these words felt it.

In my New York Times best selling book, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense - The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers, I chronicle the rise and fall of this fabled bank.

There are so many lessons to take away from Lehman's collapse, none more important than the one facing a country I love, America. It's staring every American right in the face.

Debt, she can provide years of goodies and pleasant times but it's a double edge sword. If abused, debt can be the ultimate grim reaper, the all powerful check mate. As a former Lehman trader, I know this all to well. There was no Joy in Mudville bailout for Lehman Brothers shareholders, I wear the financial scars to prove it. (read more)