Friday, August 12, 2011

The new US Federal Budget: Borrowing from Peter to Pay Paul by Dan Insdorf

The recent downgrade of America’s credit rating should be no surprise. The surprise is that there is still some “A” in the rating at all. If an American citizen had the same debt to earnings ration as the United States, that person would not be able to qualify for a bicycle loan. Imagine if you owed a years salary and you had to borrow 40% of your household budget every year to keep the lights on. The only reason the United States still maintains a high rating is its power to extract money from taxpayers by force. When China, our main benefactor of debt decides to stop lending us money, this power will be exercised. “If government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take everything you have”.

Social Security and Medicare are not entitlement programs. Both are insurance plans paid for by its participants. Medicaid, on the other hand is welfare. People on welfare do not contribute to the program. Welfare was originally designed to assist people who fall on hard times through “no fault of their own”. Most of today’s welfare recipients, however, make a conscious choice to go on the public dole. A young couple would be foolish to get married and lose all the benefits a single mother can obtain. Now you know how those welfare mothers can afford G-4 cell phones, custom nails and newer model cars. The ticket to getting free housing, food, clothing, shelter and healthcare is being single and getting pregnant. Abusive boyfriends and or the fathers come along for the free ride.

Medicaid accounts for 25% of most State budgets and matched by the Federal Government who collects State revenues to pay its share. In other words, State governments now spend approximately 50% of their entire budgets on dead beat non-producing citizens. Single unwed mothers get the bulk of these “entitlements” for simply practicing unprotected sex and having multiple births with numerous men. In fact, China and hard working American taxpayers are paying the bills for unwed mothers and their offspring. Biological fathers rarely are made to pay child support.

40% of all births in the United States are to unwed mothers. Florida’s rate is 43%. 73% of black babies are born to single unwed mothers. 85% of all prison inmates come from single unwed mothers. 50% of all children attending public schools get subsidized breakfasts. China had it right when it recently admonished us for our social welfare programs. We have become a third rate debtor nation.

A guest article.

Suzanne Harrison, teacher, admits sexual activity with underage girl pupil

Suzanne Harrison, 35, who last month quit a director of the Suffolk One sixth form centre in Ipswich, previously taught her victim at a 1,500-pupil secondary school in Colchester, Essex.

She admitted two charges of sexually touching a female aged under 16, one count of sexual assault by penetration and engaging in sexual activity with the girl while in a position of trust.

The offences happened over a seven month period between December 2005 and July 2006.

Geography teacher Harrison of Rendlesham near Woodbridge, Suffolk, sobbed throughout the hearing at Ipswich Crown Court.

Judge David Goodin told her that a prison sentence could not be ruled out. She was bailed for reports and will be sentenced on September 2.

Richard Atchley, defending, said: "This is an unusual and sad case. This does not necessarily mean a custodial sentence."

Harrison also taught at Otley College, an agricultural training centre near Ipswich after leaving her school in Colchester.

She was suspended from her job as director of progression at Suffolk One after being arrested and resigned on July 20 the day before she was due to face disciplinary proceedings. (more)

Family Fined $300 by Customs For Having Apple, Tomato, 3 Cucumbers In Backpack At Newark Liberty

A family of four from Florida visiting relatives in New Jersey got an unwelcome surprise at the Customs gate — all because of some forgotten fruit and vegetables.

The oversight was an expensive one that has the family fuming, reports CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

“I don’t have to be traumatized like this. Nobody should have to be traumatized,” Suri Steinberger said.

Suri and Peter Steinberger are livid after what they call an over-reaction by customs agents at Newark Liberty Airport. They were told they had violated a federal crime — forgetting about an apple, a tomato and three cucumbers in their son’s backpack.

“For me it was like, you know, what you see on TV. I thought I was going to get handcuffed, they have my kids. So I just started to cry,” Suri Steinberger said.

The run-in with Customs agents happened Thursday at the end of a long trip from Israel. Suri packed the vegetables as snack for her boys.

“Let them eat it on the plane instead of eating garbage,” Suri said. (more)

Robert "Sandy" Vietze, JetBlue flier who 'peed' on girl, could be axed from US Ski Team

He probably just pissed away his Olympic dreams.

The drunken JetBlue passenger who treated a sleeping 11-year-old girl like his personal potty is a member of the US Ski Team who refused to apologize yesterday for the high-altitude humiliation.

Robert "Sandy" Vietze, 18, is among the 75 most elite skiers in the nation -- but he may have blown his chance to compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.

His name was bumped from the team's developmental roster yesterday afternoon, although officials refused to comment about his status.

The leaky loser expressed no remorse outside his family's palatial Vermont home, where he ignored questions about the incident and showed no interest in apologizing to his victim.

"We have no comment, nothing to say," snapped Vietze's mother, Abigail, as they hauled luggage and ski equipment from a gray BMW.

Vietze had taken the red-eye flight from Portland, Ore., to JFK Wednesday on his way home from a weeklong training camp with the US Ski Team at Mount Hood in Oregon.

It was lousy luck for his young victim, who was flying with her sister and cancer-stricken father on a trip to see her grandmother on eastern Long Island for the first time since his diagnosis.

Soon after takeoff, Vietze stumbled from his seat five rows behind the child and emptied his bladder onto the girl, who was briefly left alone while her dad and sister were in restrooms.

"I was drunk, and I did not realize I was pissing on her leg," the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Vietze later told cops, according to law-enforcement sources.

The girl's father, a Stage 4 cancer patient, caught Vietze midstream and tried to wipe him out.

"F- -k that kid. I don't want him near my family!" he yelled. (more)

Sometimes we wonder if a category for "complete fools" isn't in order...

Rockford, Illinois, removes streetlights to save money

The city of Rockford is getting a little darker under a plan to save $500,000 by removing 2,400 streetlights.

The Rockford Register Star reports that city officials and ComEd crews have already removed more than a third of the targeted streetlights.

Alderman Linda McNeely says some residents are unhappy with the plan. She says they're complaining that it is too dark to see anything when they come home at night.

Marcy Leach is Rockford's engineering operations manager, and she says the city spent hundreds of hours determining which lights to remove to make sure adequate light remains.

Leach says the Public Works Department is working with the Rockford police to make sure safety is maintained. (source)

Entire U.S. Stealth Fighter Fleet Grounded

In past few decades, the U.S. Air Force has spent untold billions researching and developing a family of stealth fighter jets that are supposed to be generations ahead of any dogfighters in the sky.

But after building more than 170 F-22 Raptors and a handful of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, not a single one is available for service. The Air Force currently has zero flyable stealth fighters. None.

The vaunted F-22 has been grounded with a possible faulty oxygen system since May. Production of the last few Raptors is even on hold, because the jets can’t fly from the factory.

Last week, test flights for the newer F-35 were suspended, too, because of a valve problem in the plane’s integrated power package. It’s the third time this year that JSFs have been forbidden to fly. Ground tests have resumed, and flight tests may resume as early as next week. Then again, they may not.

Yesterday, the U.S. military committed to spending another $535 million to buy 38 more Joint Strike Fighters — a family of stealth jets that are supposed to become the multipurpose, affordable workhorses of tomorrow’s fleet. Ninety percent of America’s combat aviation power is eventually supposed to come from the jets’ three variants.

But the jets have been anything but cheap. The current cost for the JSF program is $382 billion and rising for more than 2,400 aircraft. No wonder just about every major deficit reduction plan scales back the JSF effort in some way.

And, at the moment, they’re not producing any combat power, either. (more)

UK: Facial recognition in use after riots

Facial recognition technology being considered for London's 2012 Games is getting a workout in the wake of Britain's riots, a senior police chief told The Associated Press on Thursday, with officers feeding photographs of suspects through Scotland Yard's newly updated face-matching program.

Chief Constable Andy Trotter of the British Transport Police said the sophisticated software was being used to help find those suspected of being involved in the worst unrest London has seen in a generation.

But he cautioned that facial recognition makes up only a fraction of the police force's efforts, saying tips have mostly come from traditional sources, such as still images captured from closed circuit cameras, pictures gathered by officers, footage shot by police helicopters or images snapped by members of the public. One department was driving around a large video screen displaying images of suspects.

"There's a mass of evidence out there," Trotter said in a telephone interview. "The public are so enraged that people who wouldn't normally come forward are helping us - especially when they see their neighbors are coming back with brand new TVs."

Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged Thursday that police were overwhelmed by rioting that began over the weekend in London and spread across the country over four days. Mobs of youths looted stores, set buildings aflame and attacked police officers and other people - a chaotic and humbling scene for a city a year away from hosting the Olympic Games. (more)

The middle class 'rioters' revealed: The millionaire's daughter, the aspiring musician and the organic chef all in the dock

Millionaire's daughter Laura Johnson, 19, was charged with stealing £5,000-worth of electronic goods, including a Toshiba TV, Goodmans TV, microwave and mobile phones.

The goods were allegedly found in a car being driven by Miss Johnson after a branch of Comet in Charlton, south-east London, was raided.

Bexleyheath magistrates heard that a 'public order kit' of balaclava, gloves and a bandana was also found in the car.

Miss Johnson attended St Olave's Grammar School in Orpington, Kent, the fourth best performing state school in the country, after transferring from its sister school Newstead Wood.

She achieved A*s in French, English literature, classical civilisation and geography A-levels, and is now studying English and Italian at Exeter University.

Her parents, Robert and Lindsay Johnson, live in a large detached farmhouse in Orpington. It has extensive grounds and a tennis court. They sold their previous house, near Greenwich, for £930,000 in 2006.

Miss Johnson's parents, who supported her in court, run Avongate, a direct marketing company.

Her father is a businessman with directorships in several companies. He was a director in a company that took over the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport newspapers in 2007. (more)

Illinois expands "newborn baby dumping sites"

Gov. Pat Quinn has expanded the number of places where parents can safely give up their newborns in Illinois to include more police stations.

Under the current Illinois Safe Haven Law parents can relinquish unharmed newborns up to 30 days old at hospitals, emergency medical care facilities, police or fire stations. The law Quinn signed Thursday now includes college or university police stations and Illinois State Police district headquarters.

University of Illinois at Chicago police lieutenant Tony Brown suggested the idea.

“We serve a population that is often immature and inexperienced and they make decisions that are often not the best decision and they make them quickly sometimes,” Brown said.

State officials say 64 newborns have been relinquished at safe havens in Illinois since 2001. Statistics show 44 percent of unplanned pregnancies occur between the ages of 18 and 24. That's why college police stations were included in the safe haven list. (more)

Wisconsin State Fair black mugger targeted whites; 'easy targets'

The investigation into 11 of the violent incidents on the opening night of the Wisconsin State Fair has resulted in the arrest of a 16-year-old African-American who reportedly told investigators he targeted whites.

West Allis police said Thursday the teen was arrested late Wednesday. The Milwaukee teen was booked on suspicion of attempted robbery and robbery. Police recommend that he face additional penalties for hate crimes.

Police say the teen told investigators whites were chosen because he considered them "easy targets."

On opening night of the fair last week, 31 people were arrested and at least 11 people were hurt. The West Allis Police Department has said race was a factor in the 11 violent incidents it's investigating. (more)

Democratic Senators' staffers heading to Hawaii... on taxpayer's dime

Senate Democrats are charging taxpayers for a trip to Hawaii, The Daily Caller has learned. The entire press staff of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is in Maui, even though a field hearing there won’t happen until next Wednesday.

The committee’s oversight field hearing, scheduled for August 17 at 9:00 a.m. at the Maui Beach Hotel, will focus on “Strengthening Self-Sufficiency: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Development in Native Communities.”

Rick Manning from Americans for Limited Government, which first discovered the hearing, told TheDC it’s unbelievable that Hill staffers talking about fiscal responsibility would waste money on a trip to Maui.

“It’s outrageous that Senate Democrats have so little respect for the American taxpayer that in the same month they buried our credit rating, they’re heading to Hawaii to celebrate,” Manning said. (more)

Daniel Torroll, music teacher, caught having sex with doll outside school



Police in Spring Hill arrested a local music teacher Thursday morning after he was caught engaging in a sex act with a doll outside a local elementary school.

Officers were called to Allendale Elementary School on Prescott Way in Spring Hill amid reports of a white male with a duffle bag under a bridge on school property. The bridge provides access to the school from the main road.

Spring Hill police told Nashville's News 2 the responding officer witnessed the man, identified as 56-year-old Daniel Torroll, performing sex acts on a child-like doll police later discovered he'd cut holes into.

The officer reported the man was naked and in a location where he could be seen by people driving up to the school.

"I happened to be there I didn't know it was school property. I wouldn't be there if I knew it was school property," Torroll told Nashville's News 2.

Authorities took Torroll into custody and charged him with public indecency, a misdemeanor.

He was issued a citation and ordered to stay off school property. He was not booked into the Williamson County jail.

According to Torroll, he suffers from an attention deficit disorder which he says affects his inability to resist certain sexual impulses, though none of which involve children.

"[Police] came here and looked [through my home]. There was nothing here. There was no child porn. I have two kids myself," he said. (more)

Illinois can no longer afford to bury poor dead

The state of Illinois has reached a new level of broke. Come Monday, it won't have enough cash to bury its indigent dead.

Illinois officials sent a letter to more than 600 funeral directors around the state to let them know there's no money for funerals for individuals on public assistance.

"We got that letter," said Jonathon Szykowny, owner and director of Szykowny Funeral Home. "I'm extremely upset by it. ... I would be very concerned that during extreme economic times that some families can't provide the necessary funds to bury their loved ones. Sometimes God doesn't call during the best economic times and families can't afford to pay for a funeral and need help"

In the past, the state has reserved about $13 million to help pay for an estimated 12,000 funerals for individuals who relied on public aid. Participating funeral homes were allotted $1,100 for funerals and $552 for the burial. (more)

Thieves targeting storm drains in Thurston County

A rash of storm grate thefts have struck the Tumwater area. As many as 100 might have been stolen in the last month, and it's getting worse. In fact, 13 were just stolen Thursday afternoon. That's on top of 48 others stolen in the five days' prior.

It's putting a lot of strain on the Public Works Department.

"If we don't have replacements, we'll probably barricade them and secure the holes to make it as safe as possible," said Steve Craig with Tumwater Public Works.

The grates are heavy enough that it's likely at least a two-man job.

"The reports are that they are wearing orange safety vests like construction workers would wear and really you wouldn't think twice about it," Craig said. The men may have been driving a light blue older Chevy or Ford style pickup.

The thieves might be aiming to recycle the grates for money, but local recyclers say there is no way they would accept storm grates. And even so, they're not worth that much.

"Normally we have a 1,000 pound minimum before we pay," said Tom Grywusiewicz with South Sound Recycling. "It usually starts at about $200 a ton."

Each grate weighs about 110 pounds. That would make it worth about $11.

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call the Tumwater Police Department or 911. (source)

Dog comes home with human hand in Mission, California

A family dog in Mission brought home a severed human hand Thursday, launching a search that turned up the body of a suspected unauthorized immigrant, police said.

Sgt. Jody Tittle said police were called to a residence around 8:25 a.m. on reports that the family's black Labrador retriever had the hand in its mouth.

Police searched with the assistance of Border Patrol search dogs for about 21/2 hours before coming upon the body of a man near a canal.

Tittle said the body appeared to have been there two to three weeks, and that the man's clothing had paperwork leading officials to believe he was an immigrant.

Tittle said police were reaching out to the Mexican consulate for help identifying the body.

The case was being treated as a homicide pending an autopsy, Tittle said.

He said the body was found along a rural route that led back about a mile to the Rio Grande. (source)

Did media cover up Sen. Durbin's confrontation with reporter?

This week U.S. Senator Dick Durbin held a press conference with members of the mainstream media to talk about the downgrade crisis. But the Senator’s scripted storyline veered off-course when a conservative reporter – me – showed up to ask an embarrassing question. Namely, “Senator, you’ve blamed the tea party…but do you bear any responsibility for this downgrade crisis?”

What, you didn’t hear about this incident in the media? For those of you that need more proof that journalism is dead, read on.

Monday was another beautiful day for a mainstream media cover-up in Chicago. But it would not have been complete without a picnic-basket full of hypocrisy from our very own U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

You may remember Dick.

He’s the Senator that hysterically compared the treatment of the Gitmo detainees to Nazis, Soviet gulags, and Pol Pot. While calling for an end to “hateful” rhetoric, he’s the one who wrongfully pointed his crooked finger at the Tea Party Movement and Gov. Sarah Palin, blaming them for the Tucson massacre and the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Recently, he’s the one that, hypocritically, accused the Tea Party Republicans of “political extortion” in the debt ceiling debate. (more)

US Consumer Sentiment Drops to Three-Decade Low

Confidence among U.S. consumers plunged in August to the lowest level since May 1980, adding to concern that weak employment gains and volatility in the stock market will prompt households to retrench.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment slumped to 54.9 from 63.7 the prior month. The gauge was projected to decline to 62, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

The biggest one-week slump in stocks since 2008 and the threat of default on the nation’s debt may have exacerbated consumers’ concerns as unemployment hovers above 9 percent and companies are hesitant to hire. Rising pessimism poses a risk household spending will cool further, hindering a recovery that Federal Reserve policy makers said this week was already advancing “considerably slower” than projected.

“The mood is very depressed,” said Chris Christopher, an economist at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Consumers are very fatigued and very uncertain. In the short term, people are going to pull back on spending.” (more)

Lawless, Riotous Britain: The Causes (Must-hear)

America ready to fight to its last IOU: Eric Margolis

No sooner had President Barack Obama signed the bitterly contested federal budget deal than financial markets gave their verdict by nose-diving. The best that America’s reviled politicians could say was that the deal was a “down payment” on serious future spending cuts.
The agreement calls for $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over ten years. A bipartisan committee was tasked with coming up with another $1.5 trillion in cuts by November.

Considering that the 2011 deficit will be over $1.4 trillion, and the national debt is over $14 trillion, these cuts, if ever realized, are modest, to say the least.

Obama hailed this compromise as “an important first step.” Many others saw it as the latest example of the growing financial and political paralysis of the United States. The budget deal merely curbs runaway government spending; it does not reduce it.

As of now, it appears that the heaviest cuts would fall on the social services Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. In other words, the poor and elderly are to bear the brunt of budget reductions. More guns, less butter.

Fifty million Americans rely on Medicaid for health care; 44 million Americans rely on government food assistance.

Not surprisingly, America’s left is fuming with indignation. The right is crowing. (more)

Korea's very dangerous DMZ: Eric Margolis

This vast, pulsating city of ten million seems to have doubled in size since my last visit ten years ago.

Dynamic, optimistic, high-tech South Korea is flying at Mach 9: it reminds me of Japan 25 years ago.

The other 24 million Koreans in the northern part of this divided nation are in deep trouble. Many go hungry or subsist on the verge of starvation, victims of the whims of their bizarre Communist monarchy.

In 1950, North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and, later, China, invaded US-occupied South Korea. Three years of bitter fighting, in which over 2.5 million Korean civilians died, resulted in a stalemate.

An armistice stopped the fighting on the 38th parallel, but the two Koreas and Americans remain on hair trigger alert. A Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bisects the peninsula: on either side, 750,000 North Korean soldiers face 500,000 South Korean, backed by 37,000 US troops.

Tension on the DMZ is electric. North and South Korea troops glare at one another from fortified field works and observation posts. The world’s thickest minefields and high anti-tank walls extend from coast to coast.

I was warned that even pointing at the North Koreans could trigger a firefight that might lead to full-scale war. (more)

Smartphones worse at phone calls than older models

People living in rural areas should hang up their smartphones if they want to actually make phone calls, new research from communications regulator Ofcom suggests.

New models, such as Apple’s top-selling iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S2, offer sophisticated “third-generation” (3G) technology to allow access to high speed networks, email and the internet, but the new Ofcom study found that starting and completing calls made from rural areas was better on older 2G phones. These devices, called feature phones rather than smartphones, allow more internal space for aerials.

Ofcom found that “in the more rural areas that the phones were tested, the feature/entry-level phones generally returned somewhat better performance than smartphones for call completion and call setup.”

The regulator suggested that “This may be due to the reduced complexity of antenna on these devices and 2G phones not having issues in switching between 2G and 3G networks.”

Quality of sound was found to be the same between devices, however. Ofcom carried out its research to assess whether consumers were being properly informed about mobile network coverage. It found that, while individual phone companies provided valuable network maps, just three out of every ten consumers consulted them. The regulator wants to encourage shops to inform customers about coverage when they’re buying mobile phones, and it also wants different networks to standardise their information so that consumers can compare services across providers.

Ofcom’s comparison of 2G and 3G handsets aimed to examine whether coverage maps were accurate across different devices. The regulator found that “performance differences are likely in practice to be modest, and not necessarily a factor that consumers should base their choice of phone on”.

Overall, Ofcom found that mobile networks were making progress at addressing areas of poor-coverage both in rural areas and in buildings. The regulator added, however, that there were a number of areas where commercial organisations were unlikely to be able to justify making sufficient investment to seriously improve coverage. (more)

London riots: Americans would have known how to respond to the violence and looting

If these riots had taken place in America, the outcome would have been very different. America has the intellectual and emotional tools necessary to deal with this kind of social disaster: Britain doesn’t. The riots were caused, prolonged and misinterpreted by English bad manners. We don’t know how to talk to one another anymore. Our yin and our yang are out of chi. We brought this on ourselves and we need Oprah’s help out of this mess.

Here’s what the Americans would have done different.

1. The public would have fought back more aggressively. America has a tradition of self-reliance that extends even to the sphere of criminal justice. When the 1992 riots broke out in Los Angeles, the Korean community didn’t flee: they set up barricades and shot looters. Here in Britain that spirit of individual autonomy has long been surrendered to the state. It makes a mockery of routine calls by Conservative politicians for people to tackle vandals and thieves by themselves. What unarmed man would be foolish enough to do that? Britain needs a National Rife Association.

2. A leading Republican presidential contender would have advocated martial law and the summary execution of everyone wearing a hoodie. This riot has exposed how the British Right-wing isn’t very Right-wing these days. Apart from crypto-Rambo MEP Roger Helmer, who asked that rioters be “shot on sight”, Conservatives have been reduced to mumbling epithets about law and order. The sight of Boris Johnson waving a broom with all the conviction of a man who isn’t quite sure what a broom is, was pitiful. The contemporary Tory Party, stripped of its inner-Tebbit, lacks the words to bring catharsis to the British middle-class. We need someone to say what we’re all thinking right now: “Like the Roman… Get on your bike… and U-turn if you want to!” (more)

Doomsday Earth - Mega Quake - National Geographic (Repost)

Once upon a time in the Western World...

This week, the United States nearly allowed itself to succumb to economic disaster. Increasingly, the divided country has more in common with a failed state than a democracy. In the face of America’s apparent political insanity, Europe must learn to take care of itself.

The word “West” used to have a meaning. It described common goals and values, the dignity of democracy and justice over tyranny and despotism. Now it seems to be a thing of the past. There is no longer a West, and those who would like to use the word ‑ along with Europe and the United States in the same sentence ‑ should just hold their breath. By any definition, America is no longer a Western nation.

The US is a country where the system of government has fallen firmly into the hands of the elite. An unruly and aggressive militarism set in motion two costly wars in the past 10 years. Society is not only divided socially and politically, in its ideological blindness the nation is moving even farther away from the core of democracy. It is losing its ability to compromise.

America has changed. It has drifted away from the West.

The country’s social disintegration is breathtaking. Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz recently described the phenomenon. The richest one percent of Americans claim one-quarter of the country’s total income for themselves ‑ 25 years ago that figure was 12 percent. It also possesses 40 percent of total wealth, up from 33 percent 25 years ago. Stiglitz claims that in many countries in the so-called Third World, the income gap between the poor and rich has been reduced. In the United States, it has grown. (more)

100% mortgages return to the market -- was no lesson learned from 2008 housing crash?

The 100pc mortgage is back. After becoming extinct in the wake of the credit crisis, one bank is now offering borrowers the chance to buy a property without a deposit.

Northern Bank, which operates in Northern Ireland, is offering the loans subject to affordability, although borrowers do not have to belong to a special group, such as professionals who can expect to earn high salaries in future, in order to be considered.

The bank does not offer mortgages in other parts of the UK.

Previously, buyers without a deposit normally had to rely on help from parents via a guarantee.

With “guarantor” mortgages, the home loan is effectively underwritten by the parents. So if you fell behind with monthly payments, this means that they would be obliged to pay.

The advantage of such schemes is that parents don’t have to stump up cash sums upfront and it can enable you to borrow more. But if you run into financial problems, this can affect your parents’ ability to get credit and potentially put their home at risk. Your parents would need to have sufficient income and/or equity in their home to be an effective guarantor, so not all first-time buyers would be able to obtain one of these mortgages. (more)

Unseen London Riot Photographs: A Coming Crisis Exclusive

We at The Coming Crisis decided to delve deep into our photography archives in order to find photos of the UK London Riots that match their absurdity. Believe us when we say it's a tremendous challenge to find photos that properly illustrate things like millionaires' daughters stealing a cell phone, the one person who is actually charged going to prison for months for stealing a bottle of water, children carrying around hammers and bottles of wine, police satisfied in allowing thugs to run by them while the city burns, and in the end -- mostly everyone walking out of the courtroom as free as birds as if it was just a Facebook party gone awry.

It was a challenge indeed, but we succeeded. Here are the results:









Shonola Smith, 22, Aspiring glamour girl, 22, jailed for six months after getting caught looting Croydon Argos store - 12th Aug 2011

Photo taken by: JP's Photography

As magistrates and police work tirelessly to track down and punish those who were involved in the rioting, one pretty model is already facing the consequences.

Shonola Smith, 22, from South Norwood, South London, sobbed as she was jailed for six months after admitting trying to steal from an Argos store in Croydon.

The model was caught outside the store and arrested on the spot, along with her sister, Alicia, and their 22-year-old friend Donness Bissessar.

Police stormed the building in Church Street after youths smashed the shop's front during the widespread destruction in Croydon on Monday night.

The 'remorseful' threesome pleaded guilty to entering the store with intent to steal at Croydon magistrates’ court today. Read More

Sesame Street pair Bert and Ernie 'will not marry' -- What's this? Someone is actually standing up to an agenda? Amazing!

The makers of Sesame Street say characters Bert and Ernie will not marry in a same-sex ceremony despite an online petition calling for the union.

Campaigners say the best friends should marry as a way to encourage tolerance of gay people.

Nearly 7,000 have signed the petition, with more than 3,000 joining a Bert and Ernie Get Married Facebook page.

A statement from the show's makers said: "They remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation."

But they conceded that the pair are "male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics".

The confirmed bachelors have lived together for 40 years and sleep in the same bedroom, albeit in single beds.

"Bert and Ernie are best friends," the statement from Sesame Workshop added. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.

The online petition states: "We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful," adding, "It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different." (more)

Syrian tanks move into restive town of Khan Sheikhoun, opposition reports

Syrian forces moved into the town of Khan Sheikhoun on Friday, extending their crackdown in a province that has been one of the flashpoints of anti-government protests, opposition activists and human rights groups said.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency reported that government troops were fighting armed gangs in the embattled northwest province of Idlib, an acknowledgement by President Bashar al-Assad's government of military operations that human rights groups allege have resulted in the killings of civilians.

At least one woman was killed in clashes between demonstrators and Syrian forces, who rolled into Khan Sheikhoun at dawn with tanks and armored personnel carriers, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which cited reports from opposition activists in the city.

The identities of the opposition activists were withheld by the rights group at their request out of concerns for their safety.

And in the nearby city of Hama, where military units withdrew earlier this week, busloads of plainclothes security forces opened fire to break up anti-government protests after Friday prayers at local mosques, an opposition activist there told CNN. There were reports of casualties, but their number or severity was unknown, he said. (more)

Explosion halts gas exports from Iran: Cause unknown

An explosion Friday at an gas pipeline that runs from Iran to Turkey has disrupted gas exports, Iran's semi official Fars News Agency reported.

The explosion occurred early in the morning in a part of the pipeline that is in Turkish territory near the border with Iran, the news agency said.

The explosion could cause a halt in gas exports to Turkey for up to three days, the agency reported.

Authorities did not know what caused the blast but firefighters were able to extinguish the fire that came after the explosion. (more)

British PM proposes social media ban for rioters

British Prime Minister David Cameron thinks he's found some culprits to blame in the recent riots that have rocked London and other cities -- Facebook and Twitter.

Saying the "free flow of information" can sometimes be a problem, Cameron's government has summoned those two social-networking sites, as well as Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, for a meeting to discuss their roles during the violent outbreaks.

"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media," Cameron said Thursday during an address to Parliament. "Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them."

Cameron said that government officials are working with authorities "to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

More than 1,200 people have been arrested nationwide, Cameron told lawmakers. One estimate found that UK retailers lost more than than £100 million ($161 million) in stolen goods and property damage over four nights of rioting. (more)

Syrian troops fire on protesters near mosques

Syrian soldiers opened fire on protesters in several cities after Friday prayers in an attempt to crush a five-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime.

More violence was reported in Hama, the scene of a prolonged military assault in the central city, launched at the start of August, as the holy month of Ramadan began.

Activists said troops opened fire on the first large demonstrations held in Hama since the 10-day incursion left a trail of destruction and killed as many as 200 people.

Two youths were killed Friday near al-Tawhid and al-Sahaba mosques in northern residential neighbourhoods of Hama.
At least one protester was killed in Homs, another central city located southeast of Hama.
Activists said one man was shot dead and others were wounded in the Damascus suburb of Saqba after early morning prayers.
They said a woman was killed early Friday after tanks and soldiers launched an assault in Khan Sheikhon in the northern province of Idlib.
Troops also opened fire on thousands of protesters in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour as people were leaving two mosques, according to activists. There was no immediate word on casualties in Deir el-Zour.

Tens of thousands of protesters flooded streets across the country in a strong show of defiance against Assad's regime.

Friday has become the main day for demonstrations in Syria, despite the near-certainty of a government crackdown with bullets and tear gas. (more)

Giant tent to cover Japan nuclear reactor (something tells me this isn't the best idea)

The operator of Japan's damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is building a huge tent to cover one of the worst-hit reactors, officials said Friday.

Officials hope the cover will keep radioactive materials that have already leaked from spreading, prevent rainwater seepage and offer a barrier from possible leaks or blasts in the future.

The tent is being erected to provide a temporary replacement for the No. 1 reactor's outer housing shell, which was destroyed in an explosion caused by high pressure the day after Japan's deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Construction of the tent and its foundation began this week, Koji Watanabe, a spokesman for the power utility, said Friday.

The work couldn't begin until now because the location was too dangerous for workers to operate in.

The tent is made up of airtight polyester. It will stand 54 metres tall and stretch 47 metres in length. It is held up by a metal frame.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials have struggled to come up with ways to mitigate the dangers from the plant since the disaster struck five months ago, sending reactors into meltdowns, releasing radiative particles into the environment and causing the world's world nuclear crisis since Chornobyl in 1986. (more)

Chinese authorities find 22 fake Apple stores... in one city

A total of 22 fake Apple stores have been uncovered in one Chinese city.

Authorities in Kunming began searching out the copycats after pictures of one convincing replica were circulated on the web.

An early search found five fake stores, two of which were shut down for trading without a licence.

Now, according to Chinese trade officials, 22 have been found unlawfully using Apple's brand and logo.

The investigation into unauthorised Apple stores in Kunming was brought about when an American living in the city published a blog post describing a visit to one such shop.

Describing it as a "beautiful ripoff", BirdAbroad revealed how far the owners had gone to copy the decor and ambience of a real Apple store.

Staff also wore the same colour T-shirts as real Apple staffers, and sported lanyards of the same design.

The blog post was widely shared around the world and prompted Chinese trade officials in Kunming to take action.

The Administration for Industry and Commerce in Kunming said its investigation had unveiled a slew of stores violating Apple's registered trademarks. (more)

Syria regime blunders toward self-destruction

The harsh criticism leveled at the Syrian regime by Saudi Arabia and Turkey last week could prove a turning point in the popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Until now Western sanctions have been ineffective in preventing Assad's violent crackdown on protestors in the last six months. However, the influence of neighboring Turkey and Saudi Arabia is greater than the West, and opens the possibility of damaging diplomatic, economic and even military action.

Yet Assad's increasing international and regional isolation was far from inevitable, and is one of a growing list of miscalculations by his regime that is bringing about its own destruction.

For months Syria's security forces, under the command of Assad's relentless brother, Maher has cracked down with relative impunity while the Arab states and Turkey have said little or remained silent. Assad's strategy appeared to be to suppress demonstrations while cynically keeping casualties to a "manageable" level, rarely crossing 100 deaths on the worst days. (more)

European regulators ban short selling

Regulators imposed a temporary short-selling ban in four European nations, effective Friday, in order to tame the wild market volatility that has taken markets throughout the world on a roller coaster ride.

The European Securities and Markets Authority, which is the European version of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said France, Italy, Spain and Belgium have all "decided to impose or extend existing short-selling bans in their respective countries."

"They have done so either to restrict the benefits that can be achieved from spreading false rumors or to achieve a regulatory level playing field, given the close interlinkage between some EU markets," the authority said in a statement.

Short selling occurs when brokers borrow shares and sell them with an expectation of making money on the shares' decline in value. France and Spain announced that their short-selling bans will last for 15 days, and could be extended, if deemed necessary. (more)

French economy grinds to a halt

London riots: police could get powers over social media

Users of social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), could see their access to services blocked if they are “plotting violence, disorder and criminality”, David Cameron told MPs.

The Prime Minister said that “everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.”

He said that he has asked the police if they need new powers, and that Government is “working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services".

The Home Secretary later told Parliament that she will convene a meeting with the police and representatives from the social media industries to to discuss how to improve the technological and related legal capability of the police. They will discuss "whether and how we should be able to stop people communicating via these websites and services", she said.

David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, had called for BBM to be suspended so that rioters, many of whom were using the free service, would be prevented from planning further attacks.

The police have also made a number of arrests after people made statements on Facebook that were allegedly inciting illegal behaviour. (more)

Weaker euro states could lose local banks

Weaker eurozone members face the prospect of being left with no domestic banks in future as market resistance to funding lenders in peripheral countries grows.

Equity analysts at Standard & Poor's, the credit rating agency, said that the problem with the European banking system is that it is "not aligned to the single currency area" and that larger banks with operations across the region were likely to replace smaller single country-focused lenders.

"We envisage that banks operating on a more EU-wide basis, alongside an ECB with appropriate powers, would be an important part of a sustainable euro project," said Tony Silverman, a financial analyst at S&P.

"This may mean peripheral countries should not necessarily expect to have their own domestic banks," he added.

Mr Silverman points out that about 50pc of eurozone deposits lent through the European Central Bank and the interbank market are to banks that have loans in excess of their deposits, adding there is a "conspicuous" absence of banks that are net lenders to the market.

"We would question whether this is sustainable and indeed to what extent such funding can meaningfully be regarded as temporary," said Mr Silverman. (more)

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Euro is 'unsaveable'

Recession threats, market havoc face Federal Reserve: Are we entering the end game for capitalism?

New recession worries and market havoc posed the toughest challenge yet this year for the US Federal Reserve as its policy board met Tuesday holding a near-depleted box of stimulus tools.

Economists said the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), meeting for the first time since its "QE2" asset purchase program ended in June, had few options to overcome stagnating growth and the growing pessimism that sent stock markets on their deepest plunge since the crisis of 2008.

Also under the dark shadows of the eurozone debt crisis, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and his team will be challenged to shore up confidence in what they have repeatedly called a "recovery" that looks less and less like one.

They were also under international pressure to strengthen the US fiscal balance, four days after Standard & Poor's stunned the country with its first-ever ratings downgrade.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday called on "relevant nations" to put their economies in order.

China "demands that relevant nations take concrete and responsible fiscal and monetary policies to trim their fiscal deficits and resolve their debt problems... to maintain global investor confidence," Wen told a cabinet meeting.

US officials are already fending off suggestions of a "double-dip" recession, two years after the 19-month "Great Recession" ended in June 2009.

But analysts say the economy in the second half of the year will remain weak, with Goldman Sachs estimating a one-in-three chance of returning to negative growth, after a one percent growth in the first half. (more)

China's surplus leaps as July exports hit new high -- And how is the West doing again?

China's politically sensitive trade surplus expanded to $31.48 billion in July as exports rose by a fifth to hit a new record high, the customs agency said Wednesday.

The trade surplus -- a major point of tension for China's key trade partners, the United States and Europe -- was well in excess of June's $22.27 billion.

Analysts said the figures, which also outstripped a Dow Jones forecast of $26.00 billion based on a poll of economists, would add further pressure on Beijing to allow the yuan to appreciate.

China's major trading partners have long complained that the yuan is deliberately undervalued to give Chinese exporters an unfair advantage.

"The expansion of Chinas structural surplus will certainly add more pressure for RMB appreciation," said Alistair Thornton, a Beijing-based China analyst at IHS Global Insight. (more)

Moody's warns state and local governments could see credit downgrades

Some state and local governments that issue debt could face “significant stress” if market instability continues and see credit downgrades, Moody’s warned Wednesday.

Although most municipal issuers are “well insulated from shock,” Moody’s said there are some governments that could be weakened in a volatile market environment.

However, the agency does not anticipate widespread defaults, but opened the door to possible downgrades, although not by more than one level, Reuters reported.

“We expect that the vast majority of these issuers could successfully manage through a period of diminished market access and tight liquidity without facing a severe deterioration in their credit,” Moody’s said in a statement.

Moody’s managing director Timothy Blake said “most municipal issuers are somewhat weaker than they were prior to the last major market disruption” and that is why “some may face significant stress if hostile market conditions emerge.” (more)

Demands to grow for UN peacekeepers, says outgoing chief -- The world continues to unravel

Growing international instability and economic crisis are placing greater demands on UN peacekeeping even as it tries to wind down operations, the outgoing head of the 120,000-strong global force said.

Alain Le Roy highlighted the "overwhelming good" that UN peacekeepers have brought to troublespots from Haiti to Ivory Coast, East Timor and Sudan, while also acknowledging some bad and ugly cases.

"I think there will be more instability in the world," he said. "We are not the ones asking for an increased number of troops -- never."

Conflicting pressures on the UN missions were evident during an interview with Le Roy from the New York office he leaves this week.

On one side of the building was a demonstration by Sudanese calling for UN intervention in the troubled state of South Kordofan. On the other, Haitians demanded an end to the UN "occupation force" in their impoverished nation. (more)

Trade Deficit in U.S. Unexpectedly Widens to Highest Level Since 2008

The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly increased in June to the highest level since October 2008 as a slump in exports exceeded a decline in shipments from overseas.

The gap widened 4.4 percent to $53.1 billion from $50.8 billion in the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The deficit exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg News survey of economists in which the median was $48 billion. Exports declined the most since January 2009.

U.S. shipments of capital equipment and industrial supplies fell in June, which may reflect the start of a cooling in the global economy. Some companies like Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) remain optimistic that demand for American-made goods will be sustained, helped in part by a weaker dollar.

“The real weakness was in exports and that’s consistent with slower growth in the rest of the world,” said Jay Bryson, a global economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The contribution of exports is going to be a little more shaky” in terms of growth, he said.

Deficit estimates of 74 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from $42.5 billion to $51 billion. The Commerce Department revised the May shortfall from a previously reported $50.2 billion. (more)

US jobless claims at lowest level in 4 weeks... at "only" 400,000...

The number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits dropped to a four-month low last week, a sliver of hope for an economy that has been battered by a credit rating downgrade and falling share prices.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 395,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday, the lowest level since the week ended April 2. That was below economists' expectations for a reading of 400,000.

"This could suggest that labor markets aren't rapidly deteriorating, even if it still doesn't shed much light on what's happening on the hiring side of the equation," said Sean Incremona, an economist at 4CAST in New York.

But the optimism generated by the claims report was dampened somewhat by a surprise widening in the trade deficit in June. The June trade deficit jumped to $53.1 billion, the largest since October 2008, from $50.8 billion in May.

The wider trade shortfall could cause second-quarter's 1.3 percent annual growth pace to be revised lower.

U.S. stock index futures pared losses on the claims data, while the dollar extended gains against the euro. (more)

Obama's Vineyard Vacation Will Cost Taxpayers Millions

At a time when many more cash-strapped Americans are stuck at home instead of vacationing at the beach, President Obama next week will lead an entourage of several dozens to exclusive Martha's Vineyard island at a cost of millions to taxpayers.

While technically he is paying for his estimated $50,000 a week rental of the 28-acre beachfront Blue Heron Farm in woodsy Chilmark, the dozens of U.S. Secret Service agents, communications officials, top aides, drivers, and U.S. Coast Guard personnel with him will be covered by taxpayers as with every other presidential vacation.[Get your Whispers on your iPad--subscribe to U.S. News Weekly.]

His 11-day stay will require the Coast Guard to keep ships floating near Obama's farm, a presidential helicopter and jet at the ready and security agents on 24-hour duty. Armored SUVs dubbed "war wagons" have been flown in to carry the presidential family around the island. It was the same way when former President George H.W. Bush visited Kennebunkport, Maine and Bill Clinton visited Martha's Vineyard during their presidencies. [See political cartoons about President Obama.]

Typically, say former White House officials, the collection of aides is smaller for a summer vacation than for an official trip. And the motorcade is cut in half, to about 20 cars. What's more, the press corps will be smaller, though they largely pay for themselves.

Obama's vacation comes at an awkward time because of the economic turmoil roiling the nation and Wall Street. Surveys show that a growing number of Americans can't afford even small vacations. (more)

"The sun never sets on the British welfare system"

Those of you following the barbaric rioting in Britain will not have failed to notice that a sizable proportion of the thugs are white, something not often seen in this country.

Not only that, but in a triumph of feminism, a lot of them are girls. Even the "disabled" (according to the British benefits system) seem to have miraculously overcome their infirmities to dash out and steal a few TVs.

Congratulations, Britain! You've barbarized your citizenry, without regard to race, gender or physical handicap!

With a welfare system far more advanced than the United States, the British have achieved the remarkable result of turning entire communities of ancestral British people into tattooed, drunken brutes.

I guess we now have the proof of what conservatives have been saying since forever: Looting is a result of liberal welfare policies. And Britain is in the end stages of the welfare state.

In 2008, a 9-year-old British girl, Shannon Matthews, disappeared on her way home from a school trip. The media leapt on the case -- only to discover that Shannon was one of seven children her mother, Karen, had produced with five different men.

The first of these serial sperm-donors explained: "Karen just goes from one bloke to the next, uses them to have a kid, grabs all the child benefits and moves on."

Poor little Shannon eventually turned up at the home of one of her many step-uncles -- whose ex-wife, by the way, was the mother of six children with three different fathers. (more)

Questions Arise Over Whether 'Flash Mob' Attacks in U.S. Cities Motivated by Race

Police departments in several cities around the country are investigating what appear to be incidents of "flash mob"-generated violence, in which packs of dozens or even hundreds of youths appear seemingly out of nowhere to commit assaults, robberies and other crimes against innocent bystanders.

The motive and circumstances surrounding the attacks that have resulted in numerous arrests around the country are being investigated -- and law enforcement officials in at least one city are looking into a possible racial component to the crimes.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who recently imposed a stricter curfew in response to the city's latest attack, addressed black youths directly from the pulpit of his church on Sunday, reportedly saying, “You have damaged your own race.”

"If you want …anybody else to respect you and not be afraid when they see you walking down the street, then leave the innocent people who are walking down the street minding their own damn business. Leave them alone," Nutter told a mostly black congregation at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. (more)