Monday, July 11, 2011

Is Obama getting out of hand with executive orders? Is America verging on dictatorship? -- Alex Jones thinks so (and so do we)



Reader contributed.

New Flood Barrier Installed At The Flooded Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant (Because Old Barrier is Falling Apart)



Reader contributed.

Japan nuclear reactors must pass tsunami test before reopening as country faces power shortages at hottest time of year

Japan's idle nuclear reactors will not be allowed to restart unless it is proven they can survive giant tsunamis and other extreme events, the country's government has said.

But with no timetable decided for two rounds of "stress tests" and electricity demand soon to reach its summer peak, concern is growing that Japan may experience power shortages at the hottest time of year.

The first round of tests will focus on reactors that have completed routine safety checks and would have already restarted had the accident at Fukushima Daiichi power plant not plunged Japan's nuclear industry into crisis.

The tests will examine the reactors' ability to withstand natural onslaughts of far greater force than previously factored into safety checks.

They will, for example, examine their ability to withstand an unusually severe event similar to the magnitude-9 earthquake and 15m tsunami that knocked out back-up generators at Fukushima Daiichi, leading to core meltdowns in three reactors.

In the second stage, all of Japan's nuclear power facilities will undergo a general safety assessment.

Only 19 of the country's 54 nuclear reactors are in operation due to delays in restarting those that have undergone maintenance checks or were shut down after the 11 March tsunami.

In addition, reactors that are operating could be forced to close immediately if they fail the first round of tests, the government has said in a statement. (read more)

700 foot Daisetta, Texas sinkhole swallows town -- and it's still growing (and geologists can't explain it)



Reader contributed.

Florida: Heavy Rains in Pinellas County Caused Flooding, Forced Nearly 150 People to Evacuate



Reader contributed.

Debt Deflation - On the Edge with Max Keiser



Reader contributed.

Stocks spooked by European debt woes and a potential "cascading debt crisis" -- when will the other shoe drop?

U.S. stocks sank Monday as investors got spooked by worries that Europe's debt crisis could spread to Italy, one of Europe's largest economies.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) sank 152 points, or 1.2%, to close at 12,505. The S&P 500 (SPX) fell 24 points, or 1.8%, to 1,319; and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) fell 57 points, or 2%, to 2,803.

he selling was broad, with all 30 Dow stocks in the red. Shares of Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) and JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500), along with Hewlett Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500), were among the worst performers on the blue chip index.

Stocks fell sharply in Europe on concerns about Italy's banking sector and the nation's debt load. European officials met Monday to discuss Greece and other debt-stricken members of the European Union.

The selloff spilled over into the U.S. market as traders worry that the fiscal problems facing troubled EU members such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland may be spreading to larger economies in the monetary union, including Italy and Spain.

"This is potentially a cascading crisis," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank. (read more)

Record temperatures seen as heat wave plagues 15 states -- reaches 111 degrees



A heat wave is building and could reach dangerous levels in parts of the Midwest, the Plains and the Southeast this week.

Fifteen states are under heat advisories, which means temperatures are expected to exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kansas City and St. Louis in Missouri are under an excessive heat warning, along with Tulsa, Oklahoma; Memphis, Tennessee; and Evansville, Indiana. In these areas, the heat index, or how hot the body feels due to the combined effects of heat and humidity, will reach between 110 and 115 degrees this week.

A 51-year-old man in Granite City, Illinois, died Sunday due to the excessive heat, the Madison County coroner said. Mitsunari Uechi was found unresponsive in his mobile home, where the air conditioning was not working. Police described the residence as "extremely hot," Coroner Stephen Nonn said in a statement.

Uechi was transported to Gateway Regional Medical Center with a body temperature of 104 degrees. He was later pronounced dead, according to the coroner.

Nonn noted that Uechi "suffered from chronic medical problems that placed him in a higher risk for heat-stress related illness."

The advisories and warnings will remain in effect until at least Tuesday.

Several high-temperature records have been broken recently.

Wichita, Kansas, hit 111 degrees Sunday. The National Weather Service says temperatures of 111 degrees have only occurred there 10 times since July 1888. (read more)

US building "secret base" for drone strikes against Yemen (and elsewhere?) -- Corbett Report


Al Qaeda Doesn't Exist (Documentary) - 1 by corbettreport

Trade data show China economy slowing

Chinese trade figures for June provided fresh evidence that the world's second-largest economy was slowing even as inflation hit a three-year high, according to data released over the weekend.

The contradictory readings will further complicate Beijing's attempts to maintain rapid economic growth while tackling price increases that have stoked discontent in the country.

China's imports increased 19.3 percent in June from the same month a year earlier, a sharp deceleration from May's 28.4 percent annual increase and well below what most economists were expecting.

"Weaker imports adds to the lengthening list of variables pointing toward a slowing domestic economy," said Chi Sun, an analyst at Nomura in Hong Kong.

In a sign that industrial activity in the country was moderating, imports of key commodities like crude oil, aluminium and iron ore all fell in June from a month earlier. Crude oil imports fell to the lowest level in eight months and were down 11.5 percent from the same month a year earlier and, while copper imports rebounded in June, they were significantly down on 12 months ago. (read more)

NASA tracking space debris in space station's path

The US space agency is tracking a piece of space junk that could be on a path toward the International Space Station, where the shuttle Atlantis has just docked on its final mission, NASA said Sunday.

However, NASA is not ready to say for sure whether the object is projected to collide with the shuttle and station, though the paths were likely to cross on Tuesday, said deputy manager of the space shuttle program LeRoy Cain.

"What we were told today is very preliminary," Cain said. "It is a potential right now."

Cain said he was unaware what size the object may be, but expected more information later Sunday or Monday.

Tuesday is the scheduled day for a spacewalk by two US astronauts aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 28.

On June 28, a piece of space debris narrowly missed the ISS in a rare incident that forced the six-member crew to scramble to their rescue craft, space agency officials said.

The high-speed object hurtled toward the orbiting lab and likely missed it by just 1,100 feet (335 meters). The crew moved to shelter inside two Soyuz spacecraft 18 minutes before the debris was expected to pass, NASA said.

"It was probably the closest object that has actually come by the space station," NASA's associate administrator for space operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, said afterward. (read more)

IMF chief calls on US to raise borrowing limit -- and if they don't, then what?

The International Monetary Fund's new chief foresees "real nasty consequences" for the U.S. and global economies if the U.S. fails to raise its borrowing limit.

Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the global lending institution, said in an interview broadcast Sunday that it would cause interest rates to rise and stock markets to fall. That would threaten an important IMF goal, which is preserving stability in the world economy, she said.

The U.S. borrowing limit is $14.3 trillion. Obama administration officials say the U.S. would begin to default without an agreement by Aug. 2.

"If you draw out the entire scenario of default, yes, of course, you have all of that — interest hikes, stock markets taking a huge hit and real nasty consequences, not just for the United States, but for the entire global economy, because the U.S. is such a big player and matters so much for other countries," she said. (read more)

Mother: Teenage Girl Mob Attacked My Family



A Minneapolis mother is looking for the public’s help in finding a mob of teenage girls that she says assaulted her family.

The attack happened Thursday afternoon inside Folwell Park on Minneapolis’ north side.

Shawnee Twiet says she was in and out of consciousness when the attack happened.

“As soon as I hit the ground, I just started feeling just everything coming from everywhere,” Twiet said. “I mean blows coming from the back of my head. I felt somebody grabbing the back of my hair.”

She suffered a black eye, bruises all over her body and imprints on her back.

Twiet says she was not the original victim; her two daughters were targeted first. Twiet says the group blamed her daughters for taking a pair of sunglasses.

Twiet’s 15-year-old called home after she said she was threatened by the group. Twiet then made the three-block journey to Folwell Park.

Twiet said when she arrived at the park she saw a woman and some teenage girls crossing the street. She also saw her 15-year-old walking toward her, but she noticed that her 4-year-old daughter was missing.

Twiet then called 911 and screamed for her 4-year-old daughter.

While she was on the phone, Twiet saw her 4-year-old in the distance. She also saw a group of teenagers coming toward her.

“Not more than three feet from me she gets to me, and I got hit in the back of my head,” Twiet said.

The attack had started. (read more)

China says US is spending too much on its military amid its financial woes

The United States is spending too much on its military in light of its recent economic troubles, China’s top general said Monday while playing down his country’s own military capabilities.

The chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, Chen Bingde, told reporters he thought the U.S. should cut back on defense spending for the sake of its taxpayers. He was speaking during a joint news conference in which he traded barbs with visiting U.S. counterpart Adm. Mike Mullen.

“I know the U.S. is still recovering from the financial crisis,” Chen said. “Under such circumstances, it is still spending a lot of money on its military and isn’t that placing too much pressure on the taxpayers?

“If the U.S. could reduce its military spending a bit and spend more on improving the livelihood of the American people ... wouldn’t that be a better scenario?” he said. (read more)

Kirkland 6-year-old patted down by TSA agents... twice


Scientists find first superbug strain of gonorrhea

Scientists have found a "superbug" strain of gonorrhea in Japan that is resistant to all recommended antibiotics and say it could transform a once easily treatable infection into a global public health threat.

The new strain of the sexually transmitted disease -- called H041 -- cannot be killed by any currently recommended treatments for gonorrhea, leaving doctors with no other option than to try medicines so far untested against the disease.

Magnus Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, who discovered the strain with colleagues from Japan in samples from Kyoto, described it as both "alarming" and "predictable."

"Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it," he said.

In a telephone interview Unemo, who will present details of the finding at a conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research (ISSTDR) in Quebec, Canada on Monday, said the fact that the strain had been found first in Japan also followed an alarming pattern.

"Japan has historically been the place for the first emergence and subsequent global spread of different types of resistance in gonorrhea," he said.

The team's analysis of the strain found it was extremely resistant to all cephalosporin-class antibiotics -- the last remaining drugs still effective in treating gonorrhea. (read more)

Nearly one in five recent grads is out of work -- and the future looks drearier by the day

Here’s a fact that should give economists—and maybe President Obama’s political team—heartburn: Two years after the Great Recession officially ended, job prospects for young Americans remain historically grim. More than 17 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds who are looking for work can’t find a job, a rate that is close to a 30-year high. The employment-to-population ratio for that demographic—the percentage of young people who are working—has plunged to 45 percent. That’s the lowest level since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948. Taken together, the numbers suggest that the U.S. job market is struggling mightily to bring its next generation of workers into the fold.

This is a dangerous proposition, economically (for the United States as a whole) and politically (for the president).

As The Atlantic’s Don Peck wrote last year, citing a litany of research from Yale University’s Lisa Kahn, college graduates who enter the labor force during a recession make significantly less money—in their first year and over the course of their careers—than grads who walk into an economic boom. Workers stuck in the unemployment line for an extended period risk watching their skills atrophy and face increasing difficulty finding new jobs. That’s particularly true, though, for people waiting and waiting and waiting to land their first job. The longer a whole batch of fledgling workers sits waiting to be hired, the more the economy risks losing young employees with valuable, high-end skills at a time when global competition is increasingly fierce.

Snowballing youth unemployment feeds social unrest. Exhibit A is the Middle East. Exhibit B is Europe’s periphery; in such countries as Spain, Greece, and Croatia, more than one in three young people is unemployed, a problem that The Economist magazine warned this week is “as great a challenge for these governments as protecting their tottering banks and slashing their budget deficits.” (read more)

9/11 Memorial Begins Taking Ticket Reservations: Even tragedies can now be monetized

People who want to visit the Sept. 11 memorial when it opens in two months can now start reserving tickets online.

Visitors can get timed passes to see the memorial, which opens to the public on Sept. 12, following events for victims' families on the attack anniversary a day earlier.

The online system opened at 9 a.m. at www.911memorial.org/visitor-passes. Passes are free, but the system allows visitors to make donations when they reserve tickets.

Those who make reservations will receive an email confirmation and instructions to print their passes.

The memorial consists of two reflecting pools that evoke the footprints of the towers, which are each nearly an acre in size. They also feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America.

The design was selected in 2004 and construction began in 2006.

The names of the victims from the 2001 attacks, along with those who died in the 1993 bombing, will be inscribed in bronze along the borders of the pools.

The memorial is on track to open Sept. 11, but only families and invited dignitaries will be allowed to visit on the 10th anniversary. Ticketed reservations begin the following day.

A separate hotline was established last week for 9/11 family members to reserve their own passes. Families can also reserve online. (read more)

Stun gun found in Boston-to-NJ Jetblue jet after arrival

An FBI spokesman said Monday that it does not appear a stun gun found aboard a JetBlue plane that landed late Friday in Newark was intended to be used in an attack.

Bryan Travers, a spokesman for the FBI's Newark office, said information from the investigation so far suggests that no attack was imminent. He would not detail why investigators think that.

The stun gun was found by a crew that was cleaning Flight 1179 from Boston around 10:20 p.m. Friday, after the flight had landed and all 96 passengers were off the plane.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police removed the stun gun from the plane and handed it over to the federal Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for screening passengers.

The investigation, being led by the FBI's office in Boston, is focusing on how the stun gun got onto the plane, Travers said.

"People get caught bringing stuff to the checkpoint all the time," he said.

Travers said that by Monday morning it was not clear who may have brought the gun aboard. (read more)

Rash Of Air Conditioner Thefts From Parker County Churches adds to US-wide metals theft as economy worsens

The Parker County Sheriff’s Department says thieves have stolen or damaged air conditioning units at seven different churches in the area, and that’s just in the last three months.

Most recently the Faith Presbyterian Church in Aledo was vandalized when a unit was pulled from the side of the building. The damage will cost the church at least $10,000.

Air conditioner thieves have also hit in Aledo, Azle, Millsap, Springtown and Weatherford.

Police say the a/c units are tempting to crooks because they contain large amounts of copper, which is sold on the scrap market for top dollar.

For many, the crimes seem more deplorable since they’re happening at churches. “[It’s an] an awful crime to desecrate a house of worship or steal from a church,” said Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler. (read more)

Cut, Cap And Balance Is The Best Plan For The Debt Ceiling (Hopefully)

If we walk away from the negotiating table we'll miss a historic opportunity to shrink government.

As we watch the drama surrounding the debt ceiling and a possible U.S. default play out in Washington, it calls to mind what the late economist Milton Friedman once said, "There are two types of money in this world: my money and your money."

Our political leaders have put the taxpayers of this country (you and me) on a crash course toward economic disaster, but as you listen to them, you don't hear much about their personal ownership of the problem. After all, they're negotiating with our money, not theirs. Their currency is re-election, politics as usual.

Politics as usual has resulted in far more federal government debt than we can ever hope to repay and has obligated us to far more entitlement spending than we can ever meet. And continuing budget deficits insure that we'll be back to the table again and again for increases in the debt ceiling. Everyone knows this.

Credit rating agencies like Standards and Poor's are warning that our AAA rating is in jeopardy, investors and businesses are increasingly investing outside the U.S., and calls are mounting from other countries to get our fiscal house in order. Not for much longer will we enjoy the luxury of simply printing more money and borrowing cheaply and endlessly from the rest of the world.

Dramatic action is needed, and now. (read more)

Abysmal June US Employment Figures Warn of Great Depression Ahead

The June Jobs numbers were horrendous, just like May's were, telling us the QE2 strategy of the Fed has failed, and the Central Planners' policy to keep taxes high, and not significantly cut them or rebate them has failed. There is so much focus on making sure the rich get properly taxed that true economic stimulus is paralyzed. QE was false economic stimulus. Trillions of new dollars were printed, however there was no effective delivery system in place to move that money to households, where the real economy begins. Wall Street got the cash, bid up the price of commodities with that cash, and inflation rose. That was about it.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics within the Labor Department reported Friday, July 8th that in the month of June, only 18,000 net new jobs were created in America. That is a disgrace. It means our Central Planners' policies have failed miserably. They drove the budget deficit up, drove the debt ceiling up, yet created no net jobs over the past several months. You see, the 18,000 figure is a lie. It is false. The true number was much worse. The CESBD Birth/Death adjustment in June was 131,000. In other words, the Labor Department took a wild assed guess that 131,000 jobs probably were created by new businesses they think started up in June. This is a pure guess. Plus, anyone who has ever started a new business knows folks take no pay or deep pay cuts at the start. The truth is, if you back out the 131,000 phony guesstimate CESBD figure, we find that the economy actually lost 113,000 Jobs in June. May's figure was revised lower to 25,000 new non-farm payroll jobs being created from what was originally reported as 54,000. But again, if you back out the 206,000 CESBD make pretend jobs, May saw a decline of 181,000 Jobs. So, for the two months May and June, the economy lost 294,000 Jobs. Then, if you consider we need to create 150,000 new jobs each month just to keep pace with population growth, this means the economy fell short of breakeven by 594,000 jobs just in May and June. This is alarming. Not only are we not creating new jobs to get those who are unemployed back to work, but the situation is worsening.

The BLS reported Friday that the number of unemployed persons increased 545,000 since March 2011 as part of their Unemployment number report, which is in the ballpark of the above non-farm payroll analysis. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent in June, and is up 0.4 percent since March 2011. (read more)

Another Taxpayer Giveaway?

We are told that Greece may become the “Lehman” for the European Union. This is a real danger — but the risk is not default and economic instability. It is the possibility that governments will be stampeded into another major giveaway to the financial community.

The threat that default by financial institutions could cause a global depression drove the U.S. government to bail out the finance sector. The United States now totters on the brink of a prolonged recession. The only visible beneficiaries have been financial institutions.

Europe now faces a similar threat. We are told that default by Greece will bring down the European system and reduce the world to depression. The message again is coming from the financial community.

E.U. leaders should seriously consider the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse. In the wake of Lehman, the U.S. government carried out one of the largest wealth transfers in history from the public to the investment community. The leaders of the E.U. are being urged to do something similar. It is time to see these threats as what they are: a new form of terrorism. (read more)

Former head of FDIC sounds alarm again on new financial crisis

The U.S. is still struggling with the effects of the most serious financial crisis and economic downturn since the Great Depression.

But Wall Street seems all too ready to return to the same untenable business practices that brought it to its knees less than three years ago. And some in government who claim to be representing Main Street seem all too ready to help.

Already we have heard rationalization of the subprime mortgage debacle and denigration of those of us who have advocated long-term, structural changes in the way we regulate the financial industry. Too many industry leaders, as well as some government officials, compare the crisis to a 100-year flood. “Who, us?” they say. “We didn’t do anything wrong. Nobody saw this coming.”

The truth is, some of us did see this coming. We tried to stop the excessive risk-taking that was fueling the housing bubble and turning our financial markets into gambling parlors. But we were impeded by the culture of short-termism that dominates our society. Our financial markets remain too focused on quick profits, and our political process is driven by a two-year election cycle and its relentless demands for fundraising. (read more)

Australia to tax nation's worst polluters -- but will it work, or hurt?

Australia will force its 500 worst polluters to pay 23 Australian dollars ($25) for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit, with the government promising to compensate households hit with higher power bills under a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unveiled Sunday.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard sought to reassure wary Australians that the deeply unpopular carbon tax will only cause a minority of households to pay more and insisted it is critical to helping the country lower its massive carbon emissions. Australia is one of the world's worst greenhouse gas polluters, due to its heavy reliance on coal for electricity.

"We generate more carbon pollution per head than any other country in the developed world," Gillard told reporters in Canberra as she released details of the tax, which will go into effect on July 1, 2012. "We've got a lot of work to do to hold our place in the race that the world is running."

The government hopes businesses affected by the tax will seek out clean energy alternatives to reduce their bills. The affected companies will have to pay AU$23 per metric ton of carbon, with the price rising 2.5 percent a year until 2015, when the plan will move to a market-based emissions trading scheme. (read more)

6.6 Magnitude Earthquake Negros, Philippines TSUNAMI BULLETIN ISSUED - 11th July 2011

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake has struck Negros, Philippines at a depth of 10 km ( 6.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:47:06 UTC Monday 11th July 2011.
The epicenter was 141 km (88 miles) West of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines

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

Update: This earthquake has just been down graded to a 6.2 at a depth of 19 km ( 11.8 Miles)
epicenter was 125 km (78 miles) West of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines

Aftershock update: A magnitude 5.1 aftershock has struck Negros, Philippines at a depth of 70.5 km ( 43.8 miles), the quake hit at 21:03:28 UTC Monday 11th July 2011.
The epicenter was 125 km (78 miles) West of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 001 PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS ISSUED AT 2056Z 11 JUL 2011  THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS...EXCEPT ALASKA...BRITISH COLUMBIA... WASHINGTON...OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.  ... TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ...  THIS BULLETIN IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY.  THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.  ONLY NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.  AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS   ORIGIN TIME -  2047Z 11 JUL 2011  COORDINATES -   9.5 NORTH  122.0 EAST  DEPTH       -   10 KM  LOCATION    -  NEGROS  PHILIPPINES  MAGNITUDE   -  6.6  EVALUATION   THIS EARTHQUAKE IS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE PACIFIC. NO TSUNAMI THREAT  EXISTS TO COASTLINES IN THE PACIFIC.

Mysterious disease claims 50 animals in Senapati district, India - 11th July 2011

A mysterious animal disease which broke out less than two weeks ago in Senapati district in Manipur has reportedly claimed more than fifty cows and buffaloes, said a source.

The epidemic continues to claim the lives of about 6-7 animals in and around Makhan village in Tadubi block of Senapati district, a villager informed Newmai News Network today while adding that the symptoms of the mysterious animal disease include excessive urinating and saliva. Animals that show signs of infection and symptom do not live for more than three days, he added.

The villagers are aggrieved that despite complaints being made before Maram and Senapati vet departments no one from the departments has turned up quoting lack of medicine and equipment to handle such eventuality.

The villagers of the areas and its vicinity have appealed to concerned authorities and departments and other concern agencies, societies, companies and individuals who might be able to help in reversing the situation. The villagers also feared that the disease might be transferable onto human if not addressed forthwith. Source

'Russian' debris threatens Atlantis mission as ground control fears it will hurtle 'dangerously close' to International Space Station during walk

Nasa is monitoring a piece of 'Russian' space junk that looks likely to come dangerously close to the International Space Station during a planned space walk tomorrow.

The debris is heading towards the station, where Atlantis yesterday docked on its final mission.

Scientists are still trying to work out how big the object is and how close it will come to Atlantis. Some believe it originated from a defunct Russian satellite that is orbiting Earth.

LeRoy Cain, mission management team leader, said he hopes the space junk will keep a safe distance and as they observe its trajectory throughout today, they will be able to work out how close it will come.

If it appears that the space junk is getting too close for comfort, the astronauts will be able to use thrusters to move Atlantis out of its way.

Two weeks ago, the crew of the ISS had to shelter in the lifeboats after a piece of debris missed them by just over 1,000ft - the closest call to date. Read More

Shrien Dewani 'sent texts plotting wife's murder as he sat next to her in taxi on safari trip' - 11th July 2011

Murder suspect Shrien Dewani allegedly sent texts plotting to kill his wife - while she was sitting next to him looking at honeymoon photos.

Zola Tongo, a taxi driver who has confessed to the murder of Anni Dewani, 28, claims that Mr Dewani was haggling over payment for the killing in the back of his taxi while returning from a safari trip.

Tongo's allegations will be aired tonight in a Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 about the murder of Mrs Dewani on her honeymoon in South Africa last year.

The taxi driver implicated Mr Dewani in the murder in order to secure a reduction in his own punishment. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in December.

Tonight's documentary will also cover the concerns of Mrs Dewani's family that the marriage was in trouble from the outset.

Mr Dewani, 31, a care home manager from Bristol, is being held at a secure mental health unit. His lawyers are returning to court on Monday as he fights extradition to South Africa.

Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe are accused of being the gunmen who shot Swedish-born Mrs Dewani in the back of a taxi in Guguletu township, near Cape Town on November 13 last year. Tongo’s solicitor, William Da Grass, tells Dispatches his client claims he and Mr Dewani exchanged text messages discussing payment for the killing while in the same car as the victim.

Mr Da Grass said his client claims that: 'She was looking at a digital camera at the time. They had been at a game park and she was looking at photos regarding their travels on their honeymoon whilst these negotiations were being carried on in her presence.'

Reports show Mrs Dewani was not sexually assaulted or raped. She was shot through the hand and neck, possibly as she lay face down in the taxi.

A male prostitute calling himself the 'German Master', who claimed to the Sun that he had sexual liaisons with Mr Dewani, also features in the programme. Mr Dewani has dismissed claims that he was secretly homosexual as 'ludicrous'. Read More

Reader Contribution

Sam Wong said...

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION SEEKING THE EXTRADITION OF SHRIEN DEWANI FOR TRIAL. He's had 8 months to prepare a decent defence. This petition is endorsed by the family of his murdered bride, Anni Dewani. Just follow the link to add you signature, Thank you!

SIGN PETITION HERE>>>>>>>

After the hottest spring in 118 years, forecasters predict the coolest summer in two decades - 11th July 2011

Two mini-heat waves have seen Britain bask in record temperatures.

But Summer, it seems, has been and gone - and it's only July.

Despondent forecasters are predicting a soggy summer that could also be the coldest for 18 years.

And the cool temperatures could spell boredom to hundreds of thousands of school children after a wet start to the Summer holidays was predicted.

Experts from The Met Office said the average central England temperature in June reached just 13.8C (57C) – the coldest since 1991 which managed only 12.1C (54F).

July has so far shown little signs of improvement with overcast conditions and long days of drizzle.

Temperatures have averaged just 15.8C (60F) and forecasters are warning that the rest of the month is unlikely to pick up. That could mean an average Summer temperature of only 15.1C (59F).

The cool temperatures would make this year the coldest summer overall since 1993, which averaged 14.9C (59F) from June to August.

Even though London could struggle up to 25C (77F) today, the mercury in the rest of the country will reach just 16C to 19C (61F-66F).

The cool Summer temperatures are a stark contrast to those earlier this year. Spring – which statistically means March, April and May – saw sizzling temperatures that made it the hottest season for 118 years. Read More

David Bell kept starving wife and baby prisoner in loft and forced her to have sex with strangers - 11th July 2011

An evil bodybuilder has been jailed after he kept his starving wife and baby prisoner in a filthy loft and forced her to have sex with strangers.

David Bell, 26, beat his wife Zara with saucepans and martial arts weapons - and kept her in the attic of the family home with their daughter Jessica, one.

Zara, 26, only managed to escape her life of terror in Pitsea, Essex, when she smuggled an old mobile phone into the loft and called police while her husband was out.

She barely had enough food to feed her daughter and the pair had to sit in the attic, soaked in their own urine.

After police rescued her doctors discovered she had 24 separate injuries.

She had been kept there over a three-week period while Bell trained for hours on end at the gym.

A recording of her call was played to the hushed court room.

'I have been abused by my husband,' she told the operator. 'I am sitting in the loft and I can't get out.'

Bell was jailed for nine years at Basildon Crown Court after he admitted false imprisonment and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He showed no remorse as he was given a public protection sentence. He will only be released if he can prove he is not a danger to the public.

His wife has since moved out of the area. Read More

World's population soon to hit 7 billion

My how we've grown since July 11, 1987 — as a global population. Back then there were five billion of us crowding this planet. The United Nations declared July 11 of that year "Five Billion Day" to mark the estimated date on which we reached that milestone.

Two years later, the UN declared every subsequent July 11 to be World Population Day as an effort to increase awareness of issues such is the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health, and elderly care.

Sometime this year — the UN figures around Oct. 31 — global population will hit seven billion. That's a growth of 40 per cent in just over 20 years. The planet's population has doubled since 1968.

In 1804, there were one billion people in the world. It took 123 years for that number to double.

The UN Population Division expects the population to keep growing until the middle of this century, despite dramatic declines in fertility rates around the world.

The vast majority of current population growth is in the developing world. Approximately 97 out of every 100 people are born in countries that are already struggling to meet the needs of their citizens.

"Whether we can live together on a healthy planet will depend on the decisions we make now," Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said in a news release. (read more)

Cyprus naval blast a 'catastrophe of biblical proportions'

Cyprus's government spokesman says the country's defence minister and the head of the National Guard have resigned over a deadly explosion at a naval base that killed 12 people and injured more than 60.

Monday's explosion at the National Guard's Evangelos Florakis Naval Base on the Mediterranean island's southern coast occurred when a brush fire set off containers of gunpowder that had been confiscated from a ship two years ago.

Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said Defence Minister Costas Papacostas resigned, as did the National Guard Chief, Petros Tsalikides. He said investigators have ruled out sabotage.

State radio said the dead included two Cyprus navy sailors, two soldiers and five firefighters.

"We were devastated by this event, not so much by the material damage, but by the loss of human lives and the injury of many of our compatriots," said President Dimitris Christofias, who visited the naval base after the blast.

He described the scene at the base as a "a catastrophe of biblical proportions."

A Defence Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was not complete, said the blast appeared to have been caused by a brush fire that broke out nearby and spread to the base. (read more)

Nuclear coverup in Japan?

Italy debt concerns plague world markets

World markets slumped Monday, as fears about debt crises plagued both Europe and the United States.

Italy in particular, was shoved into the spotlight. Public sparring last week between Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and finance minister Giulio Tremonti heightened fears that the debt crisis in Greece and Portugal was spreading to the continent's third-largest economy.

"Beware." Tremonti was quoted as saying by Italian newspapers, in response to rumors that he might resign. "If I fall, then Italy falls. If Italy falls, then so falls the euro. It is a chain."

Global investors are concerned that Tremonti -- credited with saving Italy from the worst of the euro zone's debt crisis -- will be forced out of the government, after his push for steep spending cuts was met with resistance from the prime minister and other cabinet members.

That raises fears that Italy's government is not as committed to enacting necessary austerity measures, as Greece or other debt-stricken euro zone countries. (read more)

Protesters, police clash in South Korea

Thousands of protesters clashed with the police Sunday in the South Korean coastal city of Busan in a demonstration against layoffs at one of the country's shipbuilding companies.

Police estimated that more than 7,000 protesters rallied against layoffs at Hanjin Heavy Industries and for the rights of temporary workers.

Police fired water cannons with diluted tear gas solution on the crowds after warning the crowds to disperse on the streets. Organizers said the demonstrators included children and elderly people.

"They created this conflict and have made what was a peaceful movement into a mess," according to Song Kyeong-dong, one of the organizers of the protest, who said they had requested permission to hold a peaceful march but were blocked by the police.

Protesters called the police tactic inhumane, saying the tear gas-water mixture was dangerous and painful.

But police disagreed with the characterization.

"There is a standard dilution ratio in the manual," the Busan Police Agency said. "We diluted it further down."

The workers' right movement mushroomed after Hanjin announced in January it would layoff 290 workers. (read more)

Some 'green' detergents contain petrochemicals

Some laundry detergents boasting to be green products still contain concentrations of petrochemicals, according to a CBC News investigation.

Of the three most popular brands — Clorox GreenWorks, Purex Natural Elements and Sunlight Green Clean — both Purex and Sunlight's products were found to contain petrochemicals, despite their 'green' claims.

CBC News commissioned an independent lab to analyze the three detergents.

Sunlight Green Clean says it "includes" plant-based ingredients in its detergent and that they have "found a more eco-conscious alternative to just petro-chemical surfactants."

But a test on their product found that along with plant-based ingredients, 38 per cent of their detergent content comes from petroleum.

"The first fishy thing on this label is the word "includes," said Adria Vasil, author of the book Ecoholic Home. "Basically, that's your tipoff that the whole thing isn't plant based." (read more)

C. difficile outbreak over in 3 Ontario hospitals

The number of Ontario hospitals fighting outbreaks of the persistent superbug C. difficile is down to seven from 10 earlier in the week, Health Minister Deb Matthews says.

"Last week, there were 10 hospitals that had declared outbreaks. I'm happy to report that three of those hospitals are now successfully free of — no longer in outbreak mode — for C. difficile," she said Sunday.

Four of the hospitals where the infection is still raging are in the Niagara region, where the outbreak is concentrated, acting chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams said at a press conference alongside Matthews. The others are in Guelph, Orangeville and Mississauga.

An outbreak is declared when there are a certain number of cases that appear to start in a hospital. Cases identified as C. difficile in patients brought into the hospital do not count. (read more)

Canada rejects Palestinian statehood bid at UN

Canada is rejecting a Palestinian effort to win recognition at the United Nations as an independent state.

The move is not surprising given that the Harper government has forcefully highlighted its loyalty to Israel and the United States. Both oppose the Palestinian initiative.

The Palestinian Authority, which controls most of the West Bank, launched a campaign last month that will see it pursue a vote on statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in September — an effort borne out of its frustration over a peace process that is stalled.

The top Palestinian diplomat in Canada says her official delegation will still push hard for the support of Ottawa.

"On the conflict, we would like to see the Canadian government taking a neutral stand, supporting the creation of the state of Palestine, supporting the recognition of Palestine as a full member state in the UN in September," Linda Sobeh Ali, head of the Palestinian delegation, told The Canadian Press. (read more)

Inkjet printing could change the face of solar energy industry

Inkjet printers, a low-cost technology that in recent decades has revolutionized home and small office printing, may soon offer similar benefits for the future of solar energy.

Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way for the first time to create successful "CIGS" solar devices with inkjet printing, in work that reduces raw material waste by 90 percent and will significantly lower the cost of producing solar energy cells with some very promising compounds.

High performing, rapidly produced, ultra-low cost, thin film solar electronics should be possible, scientists said.

The findings have been published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, a professional journal, and a patent applied for on the discovery. Further research is needed to increase the efficiency of the cell, but the work could lead to a whole new generation of solar energy technology, researchers say.

"This is very promising and could be an important new technology to add to the solar energy field," said Chih-hung Chang, an OSU professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. "Until now no one had been able to create working CIGS solar devices with inkjet technology."

Part of the advantage of this approach, Chang said, is a dramatic reduction in wasted material. Instead of depositing chemical compounds on a substrate with a more expensive vapor phase deposition – wasting most of the material in the process – inkjet technology could be used to create precise patterning with very low waste.

"Some of the materials we want to work with for the most advanced solar cells, such as indium, are relatively expensive," Chang said. "If that's what you're using you can't really afford to waste it, and the inkjet approach almost eliminates the waste." (read more)

Collusion over nuclear power mirrors the PR disaster of GM crops

The UK government worked hand-in-hand with the nuclear industry to play down the Fukushima crisis: they are treating the public with contempt.

For the British government to attempt to "maintain public confidence among the British public on the safety of nuclear power stations" by colluding in secret with the nuclear industry within just 48 hours of the Fukushima disaster would be laughable if it were not so serious.

It was, at best, only a partial success. This opinion poll from Ipsos-Mori shows that one in five of those Britons now opposed to nuclear power had not been opposed prior to the catastrophe in Japan (see graph).

Across the globe, the poll found two-thirds of the public opposed to nuclear power. (There's more on that in my previous post.) In countries where people are strongly opposed to nuclear power, such as Germany (79% against) and Italy (81%), politicians listened to their electorates and ended their nuclear ambitions. Germany says it will look to a future of renewable energy and with their record of economic success, who would bet against them?

In the UK right now, the public is split 50-50 between supporting and opposing nuclear power, and a majority - 57% - think new reactors should not be built. The problem is that the machinery of government, and the ministers it serves, is 100% behind the plans of the nuclear industry, as the Guardian revealed today. In contrast, the poll showed huge public support across the world for solar power (97% in favour), wind power (93%) and hydroelectricity (91%).

To my mind, it resembles the public relations fiasco of the first genetically modified crops in the UK, which doomed commercial use of the technology for two decades. As it happens, I have no objections to the technology, only grasping business models that can be used to deploy it. (read more)

Great Recession cooks Friedman and Keynes: Two great theories, neither up to today’s task

Some of the biggest names in economics gathered at the University of Chicago in November 2002 for a 90th birthday celebration of the brightest star of them all. Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate and seminal thinker, was returning to the university where he had made his name.

One of the speakers was a Federal Reserve governor, Ben S. Bernanke. In a scholarly address, he endorsed Friedman’s view that the Fed was instrumental in causing the Great Depression with a tight monetary policy that turned a contraction into something much, much worse.

In concluding, he addressed Friedman and Anna Schwartz, co-authors of the magisterial “A Monetary History of the United States,” in which that thesis originally appeared. “I would like to say to Milton and Anna…regarding the Great Depression: You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again,” Bernanke said.

He kept his word. When the financial crisis and recession descended six years later, Bernanke, now the Fed chairman, followed Friedman’s monetarist playbook to a “T”: He flooded the system with liquidity and stuffed banks full of reserves in a series of desperate efforts to stanch the new Great Contraction.

“Bernanke is following a monetarist depression-prevention model laid out by Nobel laureate and libertarian patron saint Milton Friedman,” the libertarian magazine Reason wrote in 2009. “Trillions of dollars have been staked on the insights of ‘monetarism’… A series of Fed policies many libertarians find repugnant are being championed by a man claiming to take his chief inspiration from the most influential libertarian economist of the 20th century." (read more)

Prince Charles: The prince of property and his £460m business empire -- Buried but not forgotten

Any fan of the royal family driving past the Punchbowl industrial park in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, is unlikely to think twice about the grey warehouses Yet this drab piece of commercial real estate now has its own blue blood connections.

The large Wickes distribution depot at one corner of Punchbowl may be a far cry from the grand surroundings of Highgrove, the rolling hills of Dartmoor or the 'idyllic' Poundbury village in Dorchester. But like all these chunks of valuable real estate, the Wickes warehouse is now proudly owned by Prince Charles.

An Observer investigation has revealed that the heir to the throne is reaping record returns from property acquisitions channelled through the Duchy of Cornwall, Charles's 700-year-old estate given to him by his mother in 1969 as a 21st birthday present.

Next week the Duchy of Cornwall's finances will for the first time come under independent public scrutiny. On Monday 7 February, the powerful House of Commons Public Accounts Committee will begin calling witnesses as they probe the inner workings of the opaque Duchy accounts. As our analysis shows, MPs on the committee will have plenty to quiz the royal accountants about.

Unlike the Queen, who is paid through the Civil List, Charles gains his money through the duchy. Last year his estate awarded him an income of almost £12 million - a 20 per cent rise on the previous year. An analysis of the duchy's historic accounts reveals that since 1993, when the Prince of Wales was paid £2.9m, he has enjoyed a 300 per cent pay rise. This is equivalent to more than 25 per cent a year during a period when average earnings rose by 5 per cent a year.

In large part, Charles' soaring pay has come from the transformation of the duchy into a huge commercial enterprise. It still owns vast tracts of land, including 70,000 acres in Devon, 18,000 acres in Cornwall, 15,000 acres in Somerset and practically all of the Isles of Scilly. He still also owns landmark properties such as the Oval cricket ground in London.

But Charles has also been collecting office blocks, retail outlets and a string of businesses in a series of astute transactions which belie the commonly held belief that Charles is little more than a do-gooder who talks to plants. (read more)

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA REGION - 11th July 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck in the Tonga Region at a depth of 40.8 km (25.4 miles), the quake hit at 13:01:12 UTC Monday 11th July 2011.
The epicenter was 188 km (117 miles) East of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga

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

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA REGION - 11th July 2011

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck in the Tonga Region at a depth of 9.6 km (6.0 miles), the quake hit at 10:48:31 UTC Monday 11th July 2011.
The epicenter was 178 km (110 miles) East of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga

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

Tornado damages Var properties in France - 11th July 2011

RESIDENTS in a village in the Var are counting the cost of damage to their properties today, after a tornado hit on Saturday evening.

Violent winds of up to 200kph battered homes around Rians, on the border with the Bouches-du-Rhône, near Aix-en-Provence.

The mini-tornado lasted for about four minutes. According to TF1 News, there were no reported injuries but major damage to about 20 homes and cars.

Residents were evacuated by pompiers and will return to the village today to examine the aftermath.

The area is expected to be classified as a natural disaster zone, allowing people to claim for the damage on their home insurance policies. Source

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SULAWESI, INDONESIA - 11th July 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck Sulawesi, Indonesia at a depth of 13.2 km ( 8.2 miles), the quake hit at 08:53:55 UTC Monday 11th July 2011.
The epicenter was 110 km (68 miles) WSW of Kendari, Sulawesi, Indonesia

No reports of Damage as yet.