Monday, July 4, 2011

Russia warns NATO over missile defense shield plans

At a NATO-Russia Council meeting in Sochi, the Kremlin warned the Western military alliance against unilaterally building a defense shield in Eastern Europe. The two also remain at loggerheads over the conflict in Libya.

According to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, the pleasant weather in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday was reflected in the relationship between Russia and NATO.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh RasmussenMedvedev (right) joked with Rasmussen in Sochi"Good weather, good relations," Medvedev joked in front of reporters during the final press conference in Sochi.

All politeness aside, however, it was clear from the start that contentious issues would dominate this meeting: on the one hand, the ongoing dispute over how NATO should carry on in Libya and, on the other, Russia's opposition to Western plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

The Kremlin fears the missile defense plans threaten Russia's national security. For Medvedev, a compromise is only possible if Russia is allowed to take part in any future European defense system.

"On the basis of such decisions we can build a strategic partnership, according to the principle that our security cannot be divided, on mutual confidence, transparency, predictability; and on the whole this would enhance global security and would be in the interests of the people who live in our countries," Medvedev said. (read more)

Brutal crackdown on 'hand clapping' protest in Belarus



Reader contributed.

Is the US F.B.I. Setting Up Americans as Terrorists?



Reader contributed.

Astonishing Boat Ride Through Minot North Dakota Flooding Zones



Reader contributed.

Fukushima & Nuclear Fallout Report



Reader contributed.

Elenin: Comet, or something more? Why has NASA observed it hundreds of times in recent days?



ELENIN Is Just A comet, We Think???

This video was made June 29, 2011 using all of the STEREO AHEAD (A) H1 images from June 5 to June 27, 2011. Motion Tracking was used in Adobe After Effects to stabilize the background star pattern and thereby isolate the Comet’s movement. The apparent motion of the background is caused by the orbit of the STEREO AHEAD (A) satellite. We have included the following JPL orbit simulation for this object and its relationship to the STEREO AHEAD (A) satellite. The red beam represents the approximate field of view of the satellite.

The orbit simulation clearly shows that there are no planets transiting at this time in this field of view. In the following video, approximately one second of playing time represents a 24 hour period of observations.

The object that is moving is clearly following the orbital path of C/2010 X1. (read more)

Reader contributed.

"Why U.S. is not a Christian nation"

As America celebrates its birthday on July 4, the timeless words of Thomas Jefferson will surely be invoked to remind us of our founding ideals -- that "All men are created equal" and are "endowed by their Creator" with the right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These phrases, a cherished part of our history, have rightly been called "American Scripture."

But Jefferson penned another phrase, arguably his most famous after those from the Declaration of Independence. These far more contentious words -- "a wall of separation between church and state" -- lie at the heart of the ongoing debate between those who see America as a "Christian Nation" and those who see it as a secular republic, a debate that is hotter than a Washington Fourth of July.

It is true these words do not appear in any early national document. What may be Jefferson's second most-quoted phrase is found instead in a letter he sent to a Baptist association in Danbury, Connecticut.

While president in 1802, Jefferson wrote: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State ... " (read more)

South Korea on guard following North Korean threats

South Korea is closely watching North Korea's military after it warned of "merciless" retaliation for anti-Pyongyang slogans displayed by Seoul's frontline troops, the defence ministry said Thursday.

The North's government and military this week lambasted the South's troops for displaying slogans heaping "malignant slanders and calumnies at the army, system and dignity" of the communist state.

Pyongyang late Wednesday revealed details of a warning message it tried to send to the South's presidential Blue House through Panmunjom, the cross-border contact venue, after Seoul refused to accept it.

According to local news media, some frontline military units were displaying harshly worded slogans calling for death to the North's leader Kim Jong-Il and his youngest son and heir apparent, Jong-Un.

Defaming the Kims, the object of a Stalinist-style personality cult, is considered blasphemy in the isolated communist state. (read more)

Libya rebels poised for push towards Tripoli


Buoyed by French arms drops and intensified NATO air strikes on the regime's frontline armour, Libya's rebel army said it is poised for an offensive that could put it within striking distance of Tripoli.

The rebels' announcement late on Saturday came as a prolonged deadlock on the battlefield prompted mounting pressure from countries outside the NATO-led coalition for a negotiated solution to a conflict that has dragged on for four and a half months.

South Africa, which has taken a lead role in mediation efforts, said that President Jacob Zuma would hold talks in Moscow on Monday with representatives of the International Contact Group on Libya as well as Russian officials.

Politically, the rebel National Transitional Council received a boost on Sunday when Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara recognised the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

Rebel fighters are readying an advance out of their hilltop enclave in the Nafusa Mountains, southwest of Tripoli, in the next 48 hours in a bid to recapture territory in the plains on the road to the capital, spokesman Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani said.

"In the next two days the (revolutionaries) will come up with answers, things will change on the front line," he said. (read more)

Countdown to invasion: Libya’s Neighborhoods Prepare for NATO’s Boots

At ten a.m. Tripoli time on June 28, the Libyan Ministry of Health (MOH) made available to this observer its compilation entitled “Current Statistics Of Civilian Victims Of Nato Bombardments On Libya, (3/19/11-6/27/11)”.

Before releasing their data, which will be made public this afternoon, it was confirmed by the findings of the Libyan Red Crescent Society and also by civil defense workers in the neighborhoods bombed, and then vetted by researchers at Tripoli’s Nassar University.

As of July 1, 2011, military casualties have not been officially released by the Libyan armed forces.

In summary, the MOH compilation documents that during the first 100 days of NATO targeting of civilians, 6,121 were killed or injured. The statistical breakdown is as follows: 668 men were killed and 3,093 injured, 260 women killed and 1318 injured, and 141 children killed and 641 injured.

Of those seriously injured, 655 are still under medical care in hospitals while 4,397 have been released to their families for outpatient care.

NATO claims that private apartments and homes, schools, shops, factories, crops, and warehouses storing sacks of flour were legitimate military targets are not believed by anyone here in Libya, and to date NATO has failed to provide a scintilla of evidence that the 15 civilians, mainly children and their aunts and mothers, who were torn to pieces by 8 NATO rockets in the Salman neighborhood last week were legitimate military targets.

Tripoli’s 3,200 neighborhoods, independently of the Libyan Armed Forces, are intensively preparing for the possibility that NATO forces, or those they are seen as increasingly arming and directing, might invade the cosmopolitan greater Tripoli area during the coming weeks or months. (read more)

UK terrorists told: Pretend to be gay so you don't get caught

al-Qaeda fanatics in Britain are being taught to avoid detection – by pretending to be gay.

A new terror training manual tells Islamic extremists to lie about their sexuality if a woman approaches them in case she is a “honeytrap” spy sent by security services.

The handbook, which was uncovered by a Sunday Mirror ­investigation, says: “Many hotels – especially in busy UK cities – have women hanging around the lobby areas in order to attract men.

“A young beautiful woman may come and talk to you. The first thing you do to protect yourself from such a ­situation is to make dua (prayers) to Allah for ­steadfastness.

“The second thing is to find an excuse to get away from her that is realistic and sensible, such as you having a girlfriend for the past few years and you are loyal to her or you are ­homosexual.”

The suggestion is one of many tips in the manual, called Class Notes From The Security and ­Intelligence Course.

The 64-page guide, ­all in English, was written to try to stop the police and MI5 ­uncovering the identity of terrorists ­plotting ­attacks on British soil.

It was produced by Taliban warlords in Afghanistan and was discovered by Sunday Mirror investigators on a ­password-protected Jihadist website used by UK cells. It has emerged just months after MI5 launched a recruitment drive for women to work as spies.

The guide was placed online after Osama Bin Laden was killed, ­suggesting Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are ­determined to launch revenge attacks on the UK.

Its introduction says: “Our aim is to publish an English version of a training course to provide basic ­principles of security for working brothers in Europe.” (read more)

Russia gains edge in space race as US shuttle bows out

As the United States winds down its shuttle programme in a symbolic twist in a long-running space rivalry, Russia will gain complete control of access to the International Space Station.

The Russian space agency plays down any triumphalism, but US astronauts will remain dependent on Russia for access to the ISS at least until 2015 and will have to pay for seats in its Soyuz space capsules.

"We cannot say that we have won the space race, but simply that we have reached the end of a certain stage," the deputy head of the Russian space agency, Vitaly Davydov, said in an interview.

On July 8, four US astronauts will board the Atlantis shuttle for its last flight, wrapping up a three-decade-long programme in which the United States took turns to ferry supplies and crews to the ISS with Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets.

Henceforth, Washington will have to pay $51 million per seat in Russia's space capsules until a new crew vehicle can be built by private companies, which US space agency NASA has estimated could be between 2015 and 2020.

Davydov of the space agency Roskosmos rejected any talk of rivalry, however, emphasizing that the ISS was primarily a story of successful international cooperation.

"I cannot think today of another international space project that is so effective in its scale, its significance and its results as the ISS," he said.

While Russia gains a symbolic victory, it will be a costly one, with the obligation to build more space ships to go back and forth to the ISS eating up a budget that could be spent on other projects.

Unlike the reusable NASA shuttles, the Russian Soyuz space capsules are single-use, except for the section in which spacemen return to Earth.

The situation is "not very convenient because it lays a heavy burden on Roskosmos's production capacities," space industry expert Igor Marinin told AFP. (read more)

Iran crisis close to climax?

As the standoff between Iran, the United States and their allies intensifies, the number of possibilities that lie ahead gradually shrinks. Some sort of a compromise seems inevitable down the road, but whether violence will precede it and who exactly will be left to negotiate remains a mystery.

Armed conflict, too, can take several forms, and these are not mutually exclusive. The preferred solution for the West is that the Iranian regime is overthrown from within; the threat of war also hangs, however, while the Islamic Republic maneuvers adeptly and guns for a regional reshuffle according to its own tastes.

In the past days and weeks, the two sides have been flexing their military muscles and issuing veiled threats. This week, Iran started a massive 10-day military exercise, code named "Great Prophet 6". It tested a new radar system, new fortified underground missile silos, and ground-to-ground missiles that could reach all parts of the Middle East, alongside various other technological achievements.

Western diplomats responded with alarm. "Iran has also been carrying out covert ballistic missile tests on rocket launchers, including testing of missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload in contravention of UN resolution 1929," British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC [1].

Iran promptly denied the allegation, but Hague's announcement is significant, particularly as it comes on the heels of an Iranian announcement that it will triple its stash of uranium enriched to the level of 20% U-235 by the end of the year. (read more)

Obama’s Economists: ‘Stimulus’ Has Cost $278,000 per Job... and is actually causing the economy to *shed* jobs

When the Obama administration releases a report on the Friday before a long weekend, it’s clearly not trying to draw attention to the report’s contents. Sure enough, the “Seventh Quarterly Report” on the economic impact of the “stimulus,” released on Friday, July 1, provides further evidence that President Obama’s economic “stimulus” did very little, if anything, to stimulate the economy, and a whole lot to stimulate the debt.
obama walks alone

The report was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using “mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus” (which it describes as a “natural way to estimate the effects of” the legislation), the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs — whether private or public — at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.

In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the “stimulus,” and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead.

Furthermore, the council reports that, as of two quarters ago, the “stimulus” had added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs — or 288,000 more than it has now. In other words, over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the “stimulus” than it has with it. In comparison to how things would otherwise have been, the “stimulus” has been working in reverse over the past six months, causing the economy to shed jobs. (read more)

Obama to drop Biden for Cuomo in 2012 US Presidential Election ticket?

A Prominent Republican is joining a prominent Democrat in predicting that Gov. Cuomo will become President Obama's running mate for vice president next year.

Former New York GOP boss William Powers, credited with playing a key role in electing Rudy Giuliani mayor and George Pataki governor, was effusive in his praise of Cuomo's successes in the just-ended legislative session, and in his prediction of the freshman governor's political future.

"Andrew had a fabulous session. It was fabulous. A property-tax cap, ethics reform and, for Democrats, gay marriage," said Powers.

"I don't think there's any doubt Obama is going to pick him as his running mate. The president is in trouble and [Vice President Joseph] Biden doesn't bring anything to his ticket.

"The president will call him up later this year and say, 'Andrew, you have to do this for the good of the country.' What's Andrew going to say, 'No?' "

Cuomo, who saw a flurry of predictions last week in the wake of the gay-marriage victory that he'll run for president in 2016, has repeatedly refused to discuss the possibility of higher office.

He wouldn't comment either on Powers' prediction, but a source familiar with his thinking half-jokingly said this when asked what action Cuomo would take if Obama called to offer him the nation's No. 2 position: "He won't answer."

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown earlier this year also predicted that Obama would pick Cuomo to replace Biden, who he claimed would be named by the president to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (read more)

Heat waves and record weather for July 4th weekened: Climate change seems to exist after all

The Interests of U.S. Corporations and the Country ‘have diverged’

Following is the testimony of Ralph E. Gomory, Research Professor, Stern School of Business, New York University, New York, N.Y., before the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission, Hearing on China’s Five-Year Plan, Indigenous Innovation and Technology Transfers, and Outsourcing on June 15, 2011.

Thank you for the opportunity to take part in this hearing of the China Commission. The subjects that we are discussing today are closely related to the topics to which I have devoted much of my working life. For almost 20 years I was the head of the research effort of a major international corporation, (IBM). For the next 18 years I was the head of a major foundation (Alfred P. Sloan) deeply interested in science and technology. In addition I have been a director of several major corporations and for the last two decades I have devoted considerable energy to understanding and writing about the economics of trade.

Many of the questions you have proposed to this panel relate to China’s efforts to move its people into more productive jobs where they can create more value for each hour worked, and to the means, ranging from foreign direct investment to direct acquisition of knowledge abroad, that China has used and will use to acquire the technical knowledge that is needed to produce that result. Explicit or implicit in many of the questions is also the question of the impact of these actions on the U.S. and the likelihood of their success in the future. A further implicit question posed is this: What can the U.S. do when these impacts are detrimental to the U.S.? (read more)

Minnesota: Despite shutdown, many lawmakers take checks

Most Minnesota legislators will collect state paychecks this month, even as failure to reach a budget deal has brought state government to a halt.

Most St. Cloud-area legislators also will collect their legislative salaries for July.

Meanwhile, more than 20,000 state workers face layoffs during the state government shutdown that began Friday.

The shutdown is happening because lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton didn’t complete their chief task for the 2011 session: reaching terms on the state’s next budget. The shutdown will last until a budget is approved.

In the meantime, more than two-thirds of legislators will collect state pay this month, according to information obtained by the Times through information requests to House and Senate fiscal staff.

Legislators are paid annual salaries of $31,140 in monthly installments. They also qualify for other compensation, such as per-diem and mileage reimbursement. Outstate legislators may claim lodging reimbursement for quarters near the Capitol.

Some area lawmakers say they’ll continue to claim reimbursements during a shutdown, while others say they’ll forgo it. (read more)

Taiwan Jobs Sucked to China by Failure to Mimic Singapore Economic Model: Is China Slowly Eating the World?

A decade ago, Wu Wen-nan earned $726 a month at a Taiwan factory run by Foxconn Technology Group, maker of Apple Inc.’s iPhones and iPads. Today, he peddles magazines and takes handouts from a charity.

“I lost my job after the company moved production lines to China,” said Wu, 47, as he sold copies of “Big Issue” magazine by a Taipei subway stop. Homeless for much of the past year, he’s been unemployed since losing his Foxconn job 10 years ago. “I don’t have the skills needed for the big change.”

Wu belongs to a generation of Taiwanese who relied on the island’s success as a manufacturing center, from clothing and Mattel Inc.’s Barbie dolls in the 1960s to computers and HTC Corp. (2498) mobile phones in the past three decades. Policy makers’ slowness in easing investment rules and boosting finance, transport and tourism has hampered the creation of new jobs and restrained income growth.

As warmer ties with former civil-war foe China encourage an exodus of factories to the lower-cost mainland, Taiwan’s failure to develop new growth industries has caused it to fall behind Singapore and Hong Kong. That has bolstered opposition claims that the economic embrace with China championed by President Ma Ying-jeou has hurt workers. He is running neck-and-neck with opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen ahead of the January election.

“Taiwan has done too little, too late,” said Chu Wan-wen, a research fellow in Taipei at government-funded institute Academia Sinica and author of “Globalization and the Taiwan Economy.” “Taiwan’s competence in the service sector is quite limited because it opened up the sector too late.” (read more)

America: An Empire in Decline

The American Empire came into full being after its main rival, the Soviet Union, collapsed. The US then found itself as the world’s sole military and economic superpower. With this new found position in the world, America could have used its power to help those in need and aid in global security. However, the events of 9/11 changed all of this and the US went from a once proud, powerful, law-abiding nation, to what it is today: a declining empire that is virtually bankrupt and has moved from using diplomacy to a “might makes right” mindset (as can be shown from its current engagement in multiple wars across the world in order to maintain its global empire), as well as trying to make sure that new powers, such as China, do not threaten its dominance.

This series is an examination of how this downfall took place, how the US strayed from its original military, economic, and foreign policy plans to become an empire in decline, from the 1990s to the present day, ending with an analysis what may lay in the future for the Empire.

During the Cold War, the US had had troops stationed all over the world, from Europe to Asia. Its military doctrine consisted of a policy of containing the Soviets and battling the “Communist threat” where ever it was. Battling the “Communist threat” meant (either directly or indirectly) overthrowing leftist governments in Latin America, Asia, and Europe or supporting right-wing death squads, as was seen in Latin America (some of these coups led to the massacre of innocent civilians). Despite this, it seemed that after the Soviet Union fell, the US was going to change its military doctrine.

Even though the US was now the world’s unrivaled superpower, it still planned to “devote the necessary resources to military, diplomatic, intelligence and other efforts” [1] to maintain its global leadership position and also wanted to “shape the international environment through a variety of means, including diplomacy, economic cooperation, international assistance, arms control and nonproliferation, and health initiatives”[2] to establish and keep the new status quo. (read more)

Lack of porn in jail violates rights, inmate says

A Michigan jail inmate says he's being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he can't have pornography.

In a handwritten lawsuit, 21-year-old Kyle Richards claims his civil rights are being violated at the Macomb County Jail. Richards says denying his request for erotic material subjects him to a "poor standard of living" and "sexual and sensory deprivation."

The Michigan Department of Corrections tells The Detroit News that prisons allow some pornographic material, though it's banned at the jail. The American Civil Liberties Union says prisons have a lot of leeway.

Richards was charged with bank robbery after police followed a trail of snowy footprints and dropped money to his apartment from a bank robbery scene in January in Fraser, north of Detroit.

Richards pleaded guilty. Sentencing is Aug. 2. (read more)

Alabama's tough new immigration law: A new anti-immigration trend in America?

In a trailer park in the US state of Alabama, the reality of a strict new anti-illegal immigration law comes to the fore, a reality that cuts through the blaming, the endless bickering, the legal and political manoeuvring that proceeded its enactment.

An illegal immigrant hides in a small caravan, his hands filthy from manual labour, fearful he will be captured and deported.

"Without his father how will my son grow up?" the Mexican native asks as his six-year-old boy plays outside.

"If they send me back how will my son be able to afford to go to college?"

An estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants live in the US, including 120,000 in Alabama, most of whom work in backbreaking agricultural jobs under the hot southern sun.

In two months, the harsh new immigration law takes effect in the state, aimed in part at making life so difficult for illegal immigrants they will quit the state. (read more)

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake NIAS REGION, INDONESIA - 4th July 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck Nias Region, Indonesia at a depth of 38.1 km (23.7 miles), the quake hit at 19:00:56 UTC Monday 4th July 2011.
The epicenter was 190 km (118 miles) WSW of Sibolga, Sumatra, Indonesia

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

E. coli sickens 5 Lutherhaven workers, Idaho - 2nd July 2011

Five kitchen workers at Camp Lutherhaven have been sickened by E. coli, Idaho Panhandle Health officials confirmed Friday morning.

Three more staffers are ill, but lab tests haven’t linked those illnesses to the bacterial infection.

No one has been hospitalized, and the infected workers have been excluded from the kitchen, said Bob Baker, the camp’s executive director.

The latest case was identified June 24. The bacterial infection has a two- to 10-day incubation period.

No campers have reported getting sick during the past two weeks of summer camp along the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Health and safety investigators have been to the camp and determined that its food-handling procedures were more than adequate. They suspect that the employees may have become infected in their staff living quarters.

The strain at Camp Lutherhaven is E. coli 026. It is different from the deadly E. coli strain that spread across Germany and other parts of Europe last month sickening several thousand people and killing at least 47.

Baker said the camp took the E. coli cases seriously, especially in the wake of the European outbreak and knowing that they had visitors to the camp from Germany.

He said the camp is supervising rigorous hand-washing and hand-sanitizing requirements before mealtimes and has implemented other recommendations from Panhandle Health officials.

“We want parents to know that it’s safe to send your kids to camp,” Baker said.

Baker said some of the infected staffers are feeling better “and others still feel punk.”

They will be allowed to return to work after testing comes back negative. Read More

Chemical spill in Riga kills Ducks, Fish and alocal wildlife, Latvia - 4th July 2011

A chemical spill in Riga's Maras Pond in Pardaugava has killed fish and ducks and is in danger of seeping into the Daugava.

No injuries have so far been reported, but authorities are asking people to steer clear of the pond, television news program "900 sekunds" reported.

The chemical spill is the result of a warehouse fire that swept through the "Baltais vējš" warehouse late Sunday night. The chemicals -- mostly detergents, disinfectants and other household cleaning products -- initially spilled into the Marupite stream before making its way to the pond.

"Eko Osta" has begun leading the clean-up operation.

The pond is reportedly a strange color and gives off strong odors from the high concentration of chemicals in the water. Authorities say that no wildlife will be able to live in the pond for some time, but that the damage from the spill is likely not permanent. Source

The body of Soldier Missing In Afghanistan has been Found - 4th July 2011

The body of a missing British soldier has been found in Afghanistan's troubled Helmand province.

The soldier's body was discovered by an Isaf patrol and is believed to have been shot.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, said: "He had suffered gunshot wounds.

"His exact cause of death is still to be established and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death are currently under investigation.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends." Read More

Soldier Missing In Afghanistan 'Is Found', however it is not yet known if he is alive or dead. - 4th July 2011

A missing British soldier has reportedly been found in Afghanistan's Helmand province - however it is not yet known if he is alive or dead.

Jerome Starkey, a journalist in Kabul with The Times, told Sky News: "We understand the soldier was found around 7pm local time after being missing for about 17 hours.

"Officials say that the search has been called off and are not looking for any other soldiers."

The news comes after a huge search was launched following his disappearance in the south of the country.

Sky sources indicate he was based in Nahr-e Saraj and was serving with 4 Scots.

Coalition troops had been stood down from regular operations to help look for him from the ground and air, with Nato command earlier listing him as "duty status whereabouts unknown". Read More

Happy Fourth of July, and God Bless America -- And all freedom-seeking peoples of the world; united, we're an unstoppable force no tyrant can conquer

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under GOD, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.

"God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independent 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

-- Thomas Jefferson

S&P threatens Greece with default rating

French and German banks' plan to roll over their holdings of Greek debt suffered a blow on Monday as Standard & Poor's, the credit rating agency, said the move would amount to a default.

The proposal to provide up to €30bn ($43.6bn) in financing for Greece had been made conditional on rating agencies not downgrading Greece's debt. But S&P said in a statement early on Monday that any rollover would be a "distressed" transaction and thus lead to Greece's rating being lowered to selective default.

There was no immediate reaction from the Greek finance ministry to the S&P statement on Monday.

This follows a similar statement from Fitch, the third-largest rating agency, who said in a recent letter to the FT "if it looks like a default, we will rate it as a default".

Over the weekend, the European Union warned Greek growth would contract 3.75 per cent this year underlining the challenge facing the country. The downgrade followed the agreement on Saturday by European finance ministers of a loan tranche of €8.7bn to Athens, ensuring the government would be able to meet debt repayments due this month. (read more)

Syria unrest: Arrests in Hama as tanks move into Idlib

Syrian troops are raiding houses and arresting people in the central city of Hama, reports say, after massive anti-government protests there on Friday.

Residents had set tyres on fire and blocked roads to delay the movement of troops, who were arriving in busloads and "firing randomly", residents said.

Meanwhile, tanks that were surrounding Hama have moved towards villages in the north, sparking fears of clashes there.

And in Damascus, two protesters were reportedly shot dead on Sunday.

The killings took place in the Hajjar al-Aswad suburb of the capital amid ongoing arrest campaigns there too, human rights activists said.

The latest deaths and detentions come at a time when the government is pushing for a national dialogue next week, says the BBC's Lina Sinjab in Damascus. The opposition has refused to take part in any dialogue while the violence continues.

Activists say more than 1,350 civilians and 350 security personnel have been killed across Syria since protests began in mid-March. (read more)

C. difficile kills 15 in Niagara Region: Canada

An outbreak of C. difficile has claimed 15 lives at three different hospitals in Ontario's Niagara Region in the past two weeks.

Clostridium difficile causes diarrhea and is one of the most common infections in hospitals and long‐term care facilities.

In severe cases, C. difficile can cause critical illness and death in elderly or very sick patients.

"Fifteen deaths related to C. difficile have now been reported since the outbreak at the St. Catharines General began," the Niagara Health System said in a release.

"This includes nine C. difficile related deaths that occurred at St. Catharines General; four deaths at the Greater Niagara General site; and two deaths at the Welland site."

The outbreak was declared on June 23.

The Niagara Health System serves 434,000 residents across 12 municipalities in the southwestern area of the province.

In Ontario, reporting of C. difficile became mandatory after an outbreak led to the deaths of 62 patients at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington.

Good hand hygiene is considered an effective way to prevent the spread.

C. difficile has claimed about 2,000 lives in Quebec since 2003.

The bacteria produce two toxins that cause diarrhea and damage the cells lining the bowel. (Source)

Japan finds rare earths in Pacific seabed -- Could China's monopoly be broken? What would this do to the sea?

Japanese researchers say they have discovered vast deposits of rare earth minerals, used in many hi-tech appliances, in the seabed.

The geologists estimate that there are about a 100bn tons of the rare elements in the mud of the Pacific Ocean floor.

At present, China produces 97% of the world's rare earth metals.

Analysts say the Pacific discovery could challenge China's dominance, if recovering the minerals from the seabed proves commercially viable.

The British journal Nature Geoscience reported that a team of scientists led by Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo, found the minerals in sea mud at 78 locations.

"The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one square kilometre (0.4 square mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption," said Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo.

The minerals were found at depths of 3,500 to 6,000 metres (11,500-20,000 ft) below the ocean surface. (read more)

Loonie jumps above $1.04 as US dollar continues its plunge

The Canadian dollar was higher Monday in the wake of strong economic reports last week that could persuade the Bank of Canada to raise its key interest rates sooner rather than later.

The loonie was up 0.51 of a cent from Thursday's close to 104.19 cents US. The Bank of Canada was closed Friday for the Canada Day holiday.

Most U.S. financial institutions are similarly closed on Monday for the Independence Day holiday.

Inflation data last week came in well above expectations, with Statistics Canada saying prices rose by 3.7 per cent in the 12 months up to May. That's the highest pace of increase in more than eight years. Even on a monthly basis, prices were 0.7 per cent higher.

"Last week should have soothed a lot of fears about the Canadian fundamental backdrop, and has likely increased the concern at the Bank of Canada," Scotiabank currency strategist Camilla Sutton said. (read more)

Texas warns US tourists against travel to Nuevo Laredo due to Drug Gangs danger

The authorities in Texas have warned United States citizens not to travel to a Mexican border city over the 4 July holiday weekend because of the threat posed by a major drugs cartel.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement that it had "credible intelligence" that the Zetas cartel was specifically planning to target US citizens in Nuevo Laredo.

The threats, it said, ranged from robberies to extortion and car-theft.

"Multiple sources" had tipped it off.

"We urge US citizens to avoid travel to Nuevo Laredo this weekend if it can be avoided," said the department's director, Steven McCraw.

The department also said the sheriff's office from Webb County, on the other side of the border from Nuevo Laredo, had received similar intelligence.

It did not provide any information as to why it believed the Zetas might specifically target US citizens.

But correspondents say many Americans living near the border use holiday weekends such as this one - which celebrates US Independence Day - to cross into Mexico, as restaurants and services there are less expensive. (read more)

India lawmakers' mass resignation for new Telangana state -- Where is such ambition here?

Dozens of lawmakers from India's Andhra Pradesh state have resigned over their demand for the creation of a new state in southern India called Telangana.

So far 78 legislators from the ruling Congress and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have quit. Ten MPs have also resigned.

Andhra Pradesh saw violent protests for and against the proposal last year.

Correspondents say the resignations could destabilise the Congress government in the southern state.

Forty-two of the party's 167 lawmakers have submitted their resignations to the deputy speaker of the assembly. They include 11 ministers.

A minority government could lead to fresh elections there or direct rule from the centre.

An official report on the proposal for Telangana set out a range of options, which included maintaining the status quo, granting greater powers for Telangana within Andhra Pradesh and full-blown statehood.

The BBC's Soutik Biswas in Delhi says the resignations, cutting across party lines, will plunge Andhra Pradesh into a fresh round of unrest. (read more)

Amazon Deforestation Rates Double as Farmers Anticipate Pardons

Deforestation rates in the Amazon, the world’s biggest rain forest, more than doubled in May as Brazilian farmers become more confident they’ll be granted amnesty for illegal logging.

Almost 268 square kilometers (66,200 acres) of protected rain forest were cut down in May, up from 110 square kilometers a year ago, the National Institute for Space Research said in an e-mailed statement.

Brazil lawmakers are considering a bill that alters its forestry code and would forgive farmers who illegally cleared trees. The possibility that the government may ease these restrictions is encouraging more logging, said Marcio Astrini, coordinator of forest campaigns for Greenpeace International’s Brazil unit. That would hamper international efforts to fight global warming by protecting trees that absorb greenhouse gases.

“Brazil’s been reducing its deforestation for the last five years and this bill comes along and now it shoots up,” Astrini said yesterday by phone. “There is only one reason why deforestation is increasing: it’s called the forestry code,” which may be changing.

The bill was approved by Brazil’s lower house May 24 by a 410-63 vote. The Senate has not yet voted on it and President Dilma Rousseff has vowed to veto the legislation if it does pass.

If the bill is approved in its current form, farmers won’t have to replant trees that were illegally cut prior to July 2008, an estimated 30 million hectares (74 million acres), according to a study by government research agency Instituto de Pesquisa Economica Aplicada. That’s about the size of the Philippines. Under Brazil’s current forestry code, penalties for illegal logging include fines and a requirement to replant trees. (read more)

John F. Kennedy's "Secrecy is repugnant" speech -- Every human being should hear it

"What in the World Are They Spraying?" Full documentary on the "chemtrail" debacle



Reader contributed.

Rich Dad Advisors Discuss Food Storage for the coming 2012 Depression

Chance Didn’t Create The Current Economic Crisis

What the world is experiencing today did not happen by chance, it was planned that way.

What Congressman Louis McFadden said of the “Great Depression” is as true today as it was in the 1930s. As Chairman of the House Banking Committee he said, “It was no accident; it was a carefully contrived occurrence. The international bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair here so they might emerge as rulers of us all.”

What you are experiencing economically and financially today is nothing new. Just study history all the precedence is there. The bankers and their willing helpers do the same thing over and over again. As we have said often what these banks represent is corporatist fascism and monopoly. Through their great wealth they control most governments and their court systems. That is why your elected representatives do not listen to you. They have already been purchased by Wall Street and banking. These are the same people who have financed most wars on both sides for centuries. Through their banks, and the Bank for International Settlements, and the BIS, they control money laundering and the worldwide drug trade, which is the most lucrative of all enterprises. The centerpiece of all the financial powers of the Illuminists come from the control of the drug trade for centuries.

These bankers and denizens of Wall Street and the City of London control our societies and in particular, business, finance and economics – almost every event within society is controlled by these elitists; as we saw in the stock market dotcom bubble of the late 1990s and the real estate bubble that began in 2003 and ended in 2006. We exited the stock market in the second week of April of 2000 and then again at 14,000, calling for a Dow 6,600 bottom. We believe we have been in a secular bear market in stocks since 2000 and we haven’t as yet seen the bottom by any means. Markets are not longer free and are under constant manipulation by elitists behind government. (read more)

Egyptian fenugreek sprouts linked in German and French E.coli outbreaks - 4th July 2011

Fenugreek sprouts imported from Egypt have been singled out as the possible cause of outbreaks of E.coli 104 H4 in Germany and France.

A joint assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) declared “that currently fenugreek sprouts are the most likely connection between the French cases and previous outbreak in Germany”.

The German outbreak in May and June has so far killed 48 and sickened around 4,000, while the French outbreak in the southern region of Bordeaux affected 15 people, although there have so far been no fatalities.

The report said that all those struck down in France had attended the same community event on 8 June and consumed fenugreek, mustard and rucola sprouts

However, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) stressed today “there is currently no definitive evidence to say that this is the source of either outbreak”.

Re-packaging cross contamination

The bodies have all warned consumers not to eat raw sprouts because of the threat of cross contamination during re-packaging.

EFSA and ECDC also strongly recommend that consumers do not even grow sprouts for their own consumption.

“The assessment concludes that --because fenugreek seeds are often sold as mixes of seeds and that during re-packaging cross-contamination cannot be excluded-- pending outcome of the epidemiological investigation underway, consumers should be advised to ensure that all types of sprouts are thoroughly cooked before consumption”, added the European bodies.

Last week the French consumer affairs Minister, Frederic Lefebvre, linked the Bordeaux outbreak to the seeds of UK company Thompson and Morgan.

The FSA said tests on the Ipswich-based firm’s seeds were still pending. Morgan and Thompson said it had imported fenugreek seeds from Egypt and supplied them to a French garden centre.

“We note this report states organic fenugreek sprouting seed, originally sourced in Egypt, has been linked to the German and French outbreaks of e coli 0104,” it said in a statement.

The company added: “We can confirm that our own supplier sourced this Egyptian seed, which was then supplied to us. Further, we can confirm that this sprouting seed was then exclusively supplied into the French garden centre market.” Source

Is anyone investigating how this killer mutant strain appeared?