Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'Flash mob' robs Maryland 7-Eleven in less than a minute, police say

A "flash mob" believed to have been organized on the Internet robbed a Maryland convenience store in less than a minute, police said Tuesday, and now authorities are using the same tool to identify participants in the crime.

Surveillance video shows a couple of teens walking into a Germantown 7-Eleven store on Saturday at 1:47 a.m. Then, in a matter of seconds, dozens more young people entered and grabbed items from store shelves and coolers. Police said the teens left the store together, without paying for anything.

"At least 28 different individuals" have been confirmed on the video, Capt. Paul Starks told CNN Tuesday. (more)

Eyewitnesses: 26 killed in Yemen clashes

Fighting between local tribes and government forces in Yemen left at least 26 people dead on Tuesday, eyewitnesses said, confrontations that killed mostly civilians.

The battles occurred 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) northeast of the capital of Sanaa in the Arhab district.

Republican guard air attacks bombarded villages, eyewitnesses said.

Eyewitnesses said that at least 17 of the dead were children and women, while only nine tribal fighters were among the killed.

They said that at least a dozen fighters were also injured.

At least 45 tanks and armored vehicles were seen entering Arhab villages over early morning Tuesday, tribal leaders in the area said.

"The government is fighting its own people using air crafts and tanks to kill us," said Ahmed Abu Ghanem, a tribal leader in Arhab district.

The government insists it is attacking only outlaws and criminals.

"The government is fighting those who attack public property and (are) causing chaos in the area," said Abdu Ganadi, a Yemeni government representative. (more)

Troops deployed to northern Honduras after clashes leave 11 dead

Hundreds of troops and police officers headed to northern Honduras Tuesday after at least 11 people died in two days of clashes, authorities said.

"Arms will be taken away immediately from people who carry weapons of war and weapons without permits," Security Secretary Oscar Alvarez said in a statement Monday.

The deployment comes after at least 11 people were killed in the Aguan region of Colon state -- six on Monday and five on Sunday, police said.

The region in northern Honduras is the site of longstanding disputes over palm plantations between local peasants and corporate landowners.

At least 600 police and troops will be deployed in the operation, aimed at "reinforcing operations to stop more disturbances and confrontations between peasants and private security groups," the Honduran government said in a statement. (more)

Six-figure Salaries Are a Pipe Dream for Most Koreans (and most hardworking people in general)

CNN recently listed six jobs that pay six-figure salaries but do not require college diplomas -- fire chiefs, air traffic controllers, nuclear power station managers, directors of security, elevator mechanics and court reporters. The news was widely reported in Korea, and interest in those jobs soared judging by the number of Internet searches. The list would have been of prime interest to young Koreans, who face tough college entrance exams and an even tougher job market.

But the jobs are anything but a cakewalk. In reality, a lot of people who work in those professions in the U.S. do have college degrees, or they require job-training courses that are as every bit as tough as university courses, physically demanding and highly stressful. In addition to intense competition, years of experience are required to achieve such a position. Even in the U.S., a six-figure salary is not easy to come by.

In Korea, a six-figure -- actually nine-figure or W100 million -- annual salary is every worker's dream. Every college graduate preparing for a job interview and every office worker either wants a stable, full-time job or a W100 million annual salary. In most conglomerates, only executives get that kind of pay. As a result, a W100 million salary has become the symbol of success. This perception has led to a large number of how-to books being published on achieving it. (more)

Soya Keaveney: Teenage bikini model is pregnant at 15

Many outraged parents wrote to Soya Keaveney's mom, Janis, about how her careless parenting is fuellling the teenager's unnatural desire to be a model. At 12, Soya Keaveney was a rather well known bikini model.

Now she is 15. And pregnant with her 17-year-old boyfriend's child.

Janis is a jobless mom who's only claim to fame is her daughter. She's very happy that her teenage daughter is going to have a baby because it means she'll get a bigger home (!).

"Our three-bedroom place was already overcrowded with her sisters Coco and Ritzy, her brother Tarot, Soya's boyfriend Jake and one of her sister's babies. Once the new baby comes the council will have to find us a place with four or five bedrooms," Janis, 48 told The Sun. (more)

Jobs lost as economic reality hits Australia

THE high Australian dollar and a slowdown in the non-mining sectors of the economy have claimed their first mass casualties, with Qantas and steelmaker OneSteel announcing job cuts and banking giant Westpac eyeing cutbacks.

The job shedding came as the Reserve Bank warned that the nation needed to lift its productivity if real incomes were to keep growing as prices for commodity exports declined in the future. As economists warned that there could be a large increase in the number of jobless before the end of the year, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan moved to reassure the nation that the economy was sound, despite the turmoil on global financial markets.

In a statement to parliament, the Treasurer said Australia was better placed to ride out the economic turbulence than it was before the global financial crisis in 2008.

"I don't want to sugarcoat the current situation - if the global economy were to weaken materially, that would obviously have an impact here. But our fundamentals are strong, and we have a government with a proven track record of dealing with global instability and that is getting on with the job of rolling out a reform agenda to further strengthen our economy," Mr Swan said. (more)

India threatens to erupt as activists arrested

THE Indian government was last night staring down the barrel of a mass democracy protest after police arrested prominent anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare hours before he was due to stage his second protest fast in six months.

Police took the septuagenarian, self-described Gandhian and several social activist colleagues into custody early yesterday morning, citing the potential for civil unrest and violence at a planned public rally in Delhi.

Hazare was due to begin his second hunger strike yesterday against perceived widespread corruption within government, and to fast-track the creation of an independent anti-graft ombudsman with unprecedented prosecution powers.

The police action sparked uproar among Delhi protesters who had gathered in preparation for the sit-in, and a call from allied social activists for a mass India-wide protest today. Within hours, protests had spread to other cities as social activists began petitioning for a nationwide shutdown, casting the issue as a fight to restore democracy. (more)

Flood fears as Yamuna flows near danger mark: India

Thousands of people living in low-lying areas along the Yamuna are being shifted to safer places, as the river started swelling following heavy rains in north India.

Senior Delhi government officials said the release of more than 6.2 lakh cusecs of water by Haryana into the Yamuna from its Hathini Kund barrage has resulted in "serious flood-like situation" in certain colonies.

According to irrigation and flood control department officials, the river's water level is likely to touch 206 metres, a metre above the danger level of 204.83 metres, in the next couple of days.

Officials, however, said that only the Yamuna Bed area, meant to hold additional water during monsoons, will get flooded.

"We have made extensive preparations to ensure there is no loss of life and property due to the overflowing of the Yamuna," Delhi irrigation and flood control minister Ashok Kumar Walia said. (more)

Libyan rebels hope for victory within weeks: envoy

Libya’s rebel movement said Tuesday that its war against Muammar Qaddafi’s regime had entered a “decisive phase” and that victory was possible within three weeks.

“Our forces totally control Zawiyah, which will open the way to Tripoli. This will allow the population there to revolt,” Mansur Saif Al Nasr, the rebel National Transitional Council’s envoy to Paris, told RFI radio.

“We are entering a decisive phase, soon we will liberate all of southern Libya. We hope to celebrate the final victory at the same time as the end of Ramadan,” he added. The Muslim holy month will end on around August 31.

Zawiyah is a vital oil port on Libya’s Mediterranean coast, 45 kilometres (28 miles) west of the capital Tripoli.

Rebels on the ground claimed Monday to control “most” of the town, but Colonel Qaddafi’s loyalist forces continued to bombard the area with Grad rockets.

“The population inside Tripoli is preparing for the uprising,” Mr. Nasr said. “A few weeks ago, Col. Qaddafi’s forces put down the revolt because they had air power and tanks and our forces were not at the gates of Tripoli. (more)

Tunisia police disperse crowds demanding government step down: The Arab Spring is far from over

Tunisian security forces used teargas and truncheons on Monday to disperse a crowd of protesters in the capital demanding the government step down for failing to prosecute supporters of the ousted president.

Thousands of people also gathered for protests in towns and cities elsewhere, in the biggest show of popular anger in months in Tunisia, a North African country whose revolution at the start of this year inspired the “Arab Spring” uprisings.

Several hundred protesters tried to assemble in front of the Interior Ministry headquarters, on the central Bourguiba Avenue.

“We need a new revolution ... Nothing has changed,” one protester, Mounir Troudi, told Reuters. “This government should leave right now.”

Police, who were gathered in large numbers in front of the interior ministry, fired teargas canisters and hit some of the protesters with truncheons, forcing them to scatter. (more)

Ten years after 9/11, who is the winner? Bin Laden or America?

Osama Bin Laden is gone, but 10 years after the September 11 attacks the United States is still entangled both by his legacy and the impact of its own avenging actions after the 2001 terror strike.

The horror unleashed in New York and Washington traumatized the public and sparked a “war on terror” that would stretch the legal system, send American soldiers to die in Muslim lands and eventually drain US global power.

In anguished days of mourning after September 11, the phrase “everything has changed” seemed on everyone’s lips as the country united, then went to war, starting with bin Laden's Afghan lair.

A decade on, nearly 100,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan and almost 7,500 US and allied soldiers have died there and in Iraq in wars financed by borrowing that sent America deep into the red.

So is there a case to be made that bin Laden, despite dying a diminished figure gunned down by Navy SEALs, won his showdown with the United States?

Did an audacious attack, which lured America into combat in the Middle East, end a century of US dominance?

On September 10, 2001 the world’s sole superpower basked unchallenged, awash in cash, after a growth spurt that now seems an elusive golden age.

But that era ended in an instant when an American Airlines jet smashed into the World Trade Center’s north tower. (more)

Israeli Defense Force Solution for September Violence: Give the Palestinian Authority More Guns

How will the IDF confront a likely outbreak of violence by local Arabs after the PA statehood bid at the United Nations in September? By giving the PA more guns.
According to reports, the IDF has formalized a series of operational recommendations, which aim to prevent the security situation in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza from spiraling out of contron in September.

The brief, already been submitted to the government, also states that should violence erupt, the military would still strive to keep outright conflicts with Arabs in PA areas to a minimum.

IDF recommendations include several "confidence building measures" vis-a-vis the PA and its security forces, mainly allowing more weapons into PA administered areas from Jordan.

Senior officers in the IDF -- who have appaerently taken PA officials at their word -- believe PA officials have a vested interest in avoiding unrest in September despite a proven track record of stirring the pot and inciting violent Intifadas at key diplomatic junctures. (more)

A close shave for Japanese women, who now shave their faces like men do -- Why can't we just be as we are?



In the never-ending battle to remove unsightly hair, some Japanese women opt for a close shave. According to J-Cast, a kao sori (shaved face) boom is gathering momentum across Japan. Specialist salons offering kao sori services are increasing in number and earlier this year, a new specialist shaving razor for women was launched on the market.

So why the hell do women want to scrape their faces with a razor? The main reason is to get rid of downy hair around the mouth and cheeks, but Beauty Face, a specialist kao sori salon, claims there are other benefits, such as a noticeably whiter, brighter and softer skin.

While barbers were the first to offer a ladies’ shaving service (being as they specialize in wielding a razor), many women were reluctant to enter a male-dominated environment. Female-friendly salons, however, are a different matter. Since Beauty Face was opened in 2004, business has steadily grown, and the company now has 70 salons across the country. (more)

Japan's postquake quarter's GDP fell at 1.3% rate

The economy shrank at an annualized rate of 1.3 percent in the three months through June amid the effects of the March earthquake and tsunami, which significantly slowed the nation's production and exports, the government said Monday.

The economy, as measured by real gross domestic product, contracted for the third straight quarter, which by definition indicates that the world's third-biggest economy has fallen into recession. But officials and private-sector analysts said the result does not warrant too pessimistic a view, as the fall was much smaller than expected.

The annualized GDP showed a slowing pace of decline, compared with a downwardly revised 3.6 percent fall in the previous quarter and 2.5 percent slide in the October-December period. It corresponded to a 0.3 percent fall from the first quarter, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report.

The latest readings were well above the average market forecasts in a Kyodo News survey that showed economists in think tanks and financial institutions had expected a 2.6 percent contraction in annualized terms and a 0.7 percent slide on a quarterly basis.

"Technically, the economy can be said to be entering a recession," said Masamichi Adachi, a senior economist at JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. But he added, "Considering the significant effects of the earthquake, I should say it was surprising that the contraction was of such a small scale." (more)

With debt climbing, Japan debates tax hike

apan has within its sights the obvious but precarious solution for its fiscal mess: a tax hike.

With its debt rising, its population aging and its social security costs set to soar, an increase in the consumption tax allows Japan a chance — perhaps its only chance — to keep pace, perhaps to even cut its current deficit. The International Monetary Fund recommends such a move. So do the country's finance bureaucrats. Polls even suggest that most Japanese citizens understand the need for a raise.

But among Tokyo's top politicians, the tax issue has so far led only to a sluggish form of combat, with disagreements over when rates should jump, how much they should jump and whether they should jump at all.

The emerging global slowdown has complicated the debate, with some now saying that a tax increase amid a recession would merely inflict more short-term damage on Japan's economy. Inaction, of course, brings its own risks: A recent Credit Suisse research report suggests that if Japan doesn't soon show progress toward tax reform, the credit-rating agency Moody's Investors Services , as part of its ongoing review, could downgrade Japan "in late August or soon thereafter." (more)

Facing harsh economic conditions, Japanese firms eye greater overseas expansion

More than half of 105 leading Japanese companies surveyed are looking to locate more factories and offices overseas to counteract the strong yen, falling share prices and power supply shortages, according to a Kyodo News poll.

The survey found 55 of the 105 said they would consider stepping up overseas expansion when asked what actions they may take to cope with these increasingly harsh economic conditions.

The findings corroborate widespread concern that if these harsh conditions lead Japanese companies to relocate factories and offices to emerging economies and elsewhere abroad, the hollowing-out of Japan's domestic industries will only accelerate. (more)

Fewer orders seen as warning sign for Japanese economy

A four-month slump in foreign orders for Japanese machinery may be the latest sign that waning demand is threatening to derail the global economic recovery.

Overseas orders fell 5.9 percent in June for the longest losing streak since comparable data became available in 2005, the Cabinet Office said Thursday. The value has dropped more than a fifth from its most recent peak in February.

Economists and governments from the U.K. to Japan to Australia are cutting growth outlooks in the second year of the recovery from the Great Recession in 2009. Reports this week showing weaker U.S. and German exports and slower-than-forecast industrial production in China underscore that demand was faltering even before an equity market rout.

"When there are no signs of a recovery in foreign orders even when production is rebounding from supply shocks, that indicates global demand is weakening," said Seiji Adachi, a senior economist at Deutsche Securities Inc. in Tokyo and published author of books on deflation and the economy. (more)

Man eating sharks — and mercury, group warns

What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word "shark"? For many, it's a gaping maw of razor-sharp teeth or a dorsal fin cutting ominously through the water behind an oblivious swimmer. John Williams' iconic Jaws score is probably running through your mind as you read this. Sharks are Hollywood's marine villains, vicious man-eaters that will stop at nothing to feed their insatiable hunger for blood. It's a characterization that bears about as much resemblance to the truth as you would expect from Tinseltown.

Actually, sharks have far more to fear from us than we do from them. While there might be a handful of shark attacks each year, usually nonfatal, between 26 and 73 million sharks are fished each year, largely for their valuable fins. Those numbers don't include the sharks that are killed as by-catch in commercial fishing and tossed back. (more)

U.S. Budget Cuts Will Reshape Power Balance in Northeast Asia

The U.S. defense budget amounts to approximately US$700 billion a year, 10 times higher than China's. But the U.S. has decided on drastic cuts to its defense spending, which account for around 20 percent of the national budget. The Obama administration intends to cut defense spending by $400 billion over the next decade, and U.S. media forecast between $550 billion to $900 billion in cuts over the next 10 years.

China, on the other hand, has the biggest foreign currency reserves in the world and has been boosting its annual defense spending by more than 10 percent a year. That means the difference in defense spending between the U.S. and China is narrowing quickly, presaging fundamental changes in the balance of power in Northeast Asia. (more)

Korea's Dependence on Foreign Trade Back to 2008 Crisis Levels

Korea's dependence on foreign trade has risen to levels not seen since the global financial crisis in 2008. According to the Bank of Korea on Sunday, the ratio of trade to GDP stood at 110.1 percent in the first quarter, the highest since the 114.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The higher the ratio, the more dependent the economy is on foreign trade.

The ratio had been in the 90 percent range since 2009 before exceeding 100 percent to reach 103 percent in the second quarter last year.

In 2009, Korea's ratio was much higher at 95.9 percent than in other countries, including Japan (24.8 percent), the U.S. (25.1 percent), China (49.1 percent), the U.K. (57.7 percent) and Germany (76.7 percent). Higher dependency on foreign trade means a country's economy becomes more vulnerable to uncertainties abroad.

According to t According to the International Monetary Fund, in the fourth quarter of 2008 the Korean economy contracted 4.6 percent on-quarter, compared to Japan's 3 percent, Germany's 2.1 percent and Mexico's 1.5 percent. Even the U.S., where the financial crisis originated then, fared better with a 2.3 percent drop. (more)

South Korea to Deploy Sub-Killer Torpedoes

The Navy will deploy Korean-made Hongsangeo (Red Shark) "submarine-killer" torpedoes on the Navy's top-end Aegis destroyer this month, it emerged on Sunday.

"The Navy installed a torpedo launch system on the King Sejong the Great late last month and began the final sea acceptance test on Aug. 8," a military source said. "The tests are going well, so it'll be possible to deploy the torpedoes on the destroyer sometime late this month."

The Hongsangeo is an anti-submarine missile that is launched vertically to avoid detection by enemy submarines and to increase its range. It is dropped by parachute near the intended target. After release, the torpedo falls into the water and independently searches for the target. (more)

North Korea 'Wanted to Shoot Down S.Korean Defense Chief Kim Kwan-jin's Chopper'

North Korean military units talked about the possibility of shooting down a helicopter carrying Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin during his visit to a frontline unit in July, officials here said Monday. Intelligence agencies have started investigating whether the North Koreans actually tried to shoot down Kim's helicopter and how they got hold of his frontline tour schedule.

"We intercepted communication between North Korean military units, which exchanged messages about their plan to shoot down the helicopter carrying Kim on July 1, when he visited the 15th Army Division on the eastern frontline," a government official said. "The North Korean military didn't actually attack the helicopter, but this shows that the North is capable of trying to harm him anytime."

Kim took the helicopter as scheduled because the Defense Ministry concluded it was flying outside the range of North Korean anti-aircraft artillery, he said. "Since the intercepted communication was unencoded, we also suspected at the time that the North Korean threat was for show and they didn't actually intended to shoot down the helicopter," the official added. (more)

Longevity No Blessing for 43% of Koreans

Four out of 10 Koreans feel it would be no blessing to live much past the age of 90, according to a survey. The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs conducted the poll in June on 1,000 Koreans and found that 43.3 percent of the respondents felt living beyond 90 or even 100 is nothing to aspire to. Only 28.7 percent said longevity is a blessing, while 28 percent were neither for nor against.

Asked why a very long life is no blessing, 38.3 percent said it leads to an interminable old age, while 30.6 percent cited the problems many elderly people face such as poverty, disease, alienation and loneliness, and 24.1 percent said they do not want to become a burden for their children.

Some 59.3 percent said they would like to live to between 80 and 89, 20.9 percent said 70 to 79. Only 8.2 percent of the respondents want to live past 100, and 7.8 percent into their 90s.

Asked about the best retirement age, 32 percent said longer life spans mean that people should work as long as they are physically capable, while 35.1 percent said 65 to 69. Twenty five percent said 60 to 64, and 11.5 percent said 70 or older.

In a sign that traditional values are fast disappearing, the most important family member in old age for 84.3 percent is their spouse, while only 12.6 percent selected their children. A mere 1.3 percent named their siblings. (more)

Suicide Figures Point to Failure of Education System: South Korea

Korea's fiercely competitive education system, which is heavily rigged against children from low-income families, is being blamed for a growing number of suicides among youngsters.

A handful of top students get into prestigious universities that guarantee them high salaries and social success, while the abilities of other students go largely unrecognized mainly because academic achievements and educational background are decisive factors for social success in Korea. Youngsters are told from an early age that only being No. 1 counts, and often lose hope when they fail to live up to those standards.

Many take their own lives. According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, 735 school students committed suicide between 2006 and 2010, 12.9 percent of them due to poor grades. In a study last year by Statistics Korea of the reasons why youngsters seriously think about suicide, 53.4 percent cited poor grades and pressure from their studies.

Some students commit suicide because they fail to gain admission to a prestigious university. Yang Jung-ho, a professor of education at Sungkyunkwan University, said, "Teenagers are often influenced by their parents' view when it comes to choosing universities and jobs, so they tend to take extreme decisions like attempting suicide when they fail to meet their parents' expectations." Instead, he said, universities and jobs “should be selected based on the interests and levels of satisfactions of students themselves." (more)

School's out for S. Korean kids: Government plans to reduce pressure on "least happy children in the developed world" by cancelling Saturday classes



Syria: Military assault continues in Latakia



Syrian tanks again opened fire on besieged districts in the northern port city of Latakia, residents said, in the fourth day of a military assault aimed at crushing protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

Troops were removing bodies from the main square in the city on Tuesday, and some areas were on lockdown, sources told Al Jazeera.

A resident of the al-Ramel al-Janoubi neighbourhood, who called himself 'Ismail', told Al Jazeera that random shelling from gunboats and tanks continued in Latakia. He said five people had already been killed, and snipers were stationed around the city, shooting at anyone who ventured into the streets.


"What's happeninig [in Latakia] is really severe. Shooting is still there and the buildings are occupied by others. The moment they see anything moving they will shoot it," Ismail said.

"Yesterday we had a lot of problems in this area, a daughter was killed and her father was killed... No one is safe in this area."

Al Jazeera cannot independently verify reports from Syria because of restrictions on reporting in the country. (more)

Samer Allawi: Al Jazeera journalist held in Israeli prison



Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera Arabic's Kabul bureau chief, has been brought before an Israeli military court, almost a week after he was arrested by Israeli officials when he tried to cross the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank.

Israeli authorities extended his detention by seven days and charged him with being a member of Hamas on Tuesday.

Allawi was arrested on August 10 at the end of a three-week holiday in his home town of Sabastia near Nablus.

The Israeli authorities originally informed Allawi's family that he would be held for four days for questioning, saying that it was a "security-related arrest".

Last Thursday, the authorities told Al Jazeera that Allawi's detention would be extended.

He is currently in Israeli state custody in a prison camp at Petah Tikva detention centre.

Salim Waqim, Allawi's lawyer, told Al Jazeera that his client was interrogated about his work and management of Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau, his personal financial information, and his relationships with colleagues, friends, family and relatives. (more)

Who is in control of the Libyan opposition? -- Al Jazeera investigates



As Libyan opposition fighters attempt to tighten the noose around Tripoli, the unsolved murder of the rebel military commander General Abdel Fatah Younis is casting serious doubts on the capability of the rebel leadership.

Is the National Transitional Council in full control of the opposition forces? Does it have the support of the entire anti-Gaddafi movement? (source)

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE SOUTH COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 17th August 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck near the South Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 81.6 km ( 50.7 miles), the quake hit at 00:23:15 UTC Wednesday 17th August 2011.
The epicenter was 31 km (19 miles) North of Tokyo, Japan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA - 16th August 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Southern Sumatra, Indonesia at a depth of 58.9 km ( 36.6 miles), the quake hit at 22:15:47 UTC Tuesday 16th August 2011.
The epicenter was 129 km (80 miles) SSE of Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 16th August 2011

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck the South Sandwich Islands Region at a depth of 27.7 km ( 17.2 miles), the quake hit at 20:24:01 UTC Tuesday 16th August 2011.
The epicenter was 118 km (73 miles) ESE of Visokoi Islands, South Sandwich Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR BULDIR ISLAND, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 16th August 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck near Islands. Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 50.6 km ( 31.4 miles), the quake hit at 20:24:01 UTC Tuesday 16th August 2011.
The epicenter was 74 km (45 miles) WSW of Buldir Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 16th August 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 42.5 km ( 51 miles), the quake hit at 19:35:20 UTC Tuesday 16th August 2011.
The epicenter was 83 km (51 miles) ENE of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Fitch confirms US AAA rating, with a stable outlook: You've got to be kidding!

Fitch confirmed on Tuesday its triple-A rating of the United States, 10 days after rival Standard & Poor's dealt the country its first-ever downgrade due to Washington's huge deficits and debt. "The affirmation of the US 'AAA' sovereign rating reflects the fact that the key pillars of US's exceptional creditworthiness remain intact: its pivotal role in the global financial system and the flexible, diversified and wealthy economy that provides its revenue base," Fitch Ratings said.

"Monetary and exchange rate flexibility further enhances the capacity of the economy to absorb and adjust to 'shocks'," Fitch said.

But it added that it will review its projections of the US fiscal deficit and growth expectations -- problems that S&P cited in its historic downgrade -- after it sees the work of a joint Congressional committee tasked with slashing $1.5 trillion from US deficits over the next 10 years by the end of November.

Fitch said that if it has to revise upward its projection of long-term public debt due to worsening economic conditions or the failure of the committee to achieve deficit cuts, it "would likely" cut its rating for the country. (more)

“The Sequel”: How 2011 Is A Repeat of 2008—Only Bigger, Longer, and Uncut by Bailouts

I might have missed it, but I don’t think anyone has noticed this simple truism:

The structural causes that led to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 are identical to the structural causes that are leading us to another systemic financial crisis in 2011.

The only difference is the kind of debt at the core of the looming crisis: Mortgage-backed securities in 2008, as opposed to European sovereign debt in 2011.

And of course, the debt hole in 2011 is bigger than in 2008—a lot bigger.

That’s why I am confident in predicting we are about to have another Global Financial Crisis—I’m calling it The Sequel: Same movie, same players, same story. Only this time around—like all good sequels—the financial crisis we are about to experience is going to be bigger, longer, and uncut by bailouts. (more)

We, The Human Robots

Who will escape the new harsh economic realities place upon us by our leaders? If my insight is correct and if our illustrious superiors get their way, then the answer is no one will escape. In my introductory essay, I outlined the basic agenda put into place by a Royal Elitist Class (REC) who remain hidden behind our governmental leaders. If you have not done so already, please read my introductory piece at www.wethehumanrobots.blogspot.com, titled Chapter 1. Since exposing the REC will take a tremendous amount of time, it is best to concentrate our efforts on the evidence trail left by these Elitists.

Just as 9/11 was the starting point for the ideological loss of constitutional freedoms and institutionalization of a police state in America, the World Banking Collapse was the first nail in the coffin for the world’s common class citizenry. The fall of Lehman Brothers Bank (along with other financial institutions) was the economic catalyst that started the dominoes falling with the ultimate goal of the total American society collapse. Now, I understand this statement on the surface appears to be exaggerative, but if one looks at the facts surrounding the banking system downfall, the causes are easily determinable.

The beginning of the end came when the “Federal Reserve”, a private organization headed by the world’s largest banks, instituted an easy money, low interest rate policy in the United States. Near the year 2000, interest rates determined by The Federal Reserve were excessively low thereby allowing easy loans via mortgage lending banks. We all remember the stories of people buying $300,000 homes in California, without even providing proof of income to the loan officer. In response, the country’s property values skyrocketed due to the exponentially increasing demand. Why were these loans made and who benefited? (more)

Preparing for the next global financial shock

What began as a financial crisis four years ago has now developed into a full-blown fiscal crisis in the rich nations. The wild gyrations in the global stock markets this month are enough indication that the tentative optimism evident in the first half of this year has been replaced by a new round of fear.

The peripheral countries of Europe have no hope of getting their national finances in shape without a painful restructuring of their economies. They cannot service their sovereign debt given the current rates of interest rates and nominal economic growth. The US, Germany, France and the UK seem to be further away from insolvency than the likes of Greece and Portugal, despite the fiscal strain they are facing, but economic conditions have deteriorated even in these countries in recent months. A double-dip recession at this juncture could also push them closer to the brink. (more)

10 Signs That Economic Riots And Civil Unrest Inside The United States Are Now More Likely Than Ever

You should let the video footage of the wild violence that just took place in London burn into your memory because the same things are going to be happening all over the United States as the economy continues to crumble. We have raised an entire generation of young people with an "entitlement mentality", but now the economy is producing very few good jobs that will actually enable our young people to work for what they feel they are entitled to. If you are under 30 in America today, things look really bleak. The vast majority of the good jobs are held by people that are older, and they aren't about to give them up if they can help it. It is easy for the rest of us to tell young Americans to "take whatever they can", but the reality is that there is intense competition for even the most basic jobs. For instance, McDonald's recently held a "National Hiring Day" during which a million Americans applied for jobs. Only 6.2% of the applicants were hired. In the old days you could walk down to McDonald's and get a job whenever you wanted to, but now any job is precious. The frustration among our young people is palpable. Most of them feel entitled to "the American Dream" and they feel like the system has failed them. Unfortunately, many of them are already turning to violence. But the economic riots and the civil unrest that we have already seen are nothing compared to what is coming. Americans are angry, and as the economy continues to collapse that anger is going to reach unprecedented heights.

In recent days, even many in the mainstream media have been openly wondering if the riots that happened in London could happen here too. There is a growing acknowledgement that this country is headed down a very dark path. (more)

Walmart Profit Rises 5.7% -- How did your yearly income do?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) said Tuesday its second-quarter profit rose 5.7 percent, due to international sales growth and cost cutting. But the world's largest retailer still wasn't able to reverse a two-year sales slump at its Walmart stores in the U.S.

Wal-Mart's international business has consistently been strong, but its U.S. business has suffered as the U.S. economic downturn hit low-income Americans __ Wal-Mart's core customers__ particularly hard. Wal-Mart, which is considered a bellwether for consumer spending because it accounts for nearly 10 percent of all nonautomotive retail dollars spent, is considered a bellwether for consumer spending because it accounts for nearly 10 percent of all nonautomotive retail dollars spent.

"We remain concerned about the economic pressure on our customers and the uncertain impact on their shopping behavior," said Bill Simon,Wal-Mart's U.S. president and chief executive in a statement. "With this volatility, it is important as ever to deliver on Walmart's one-stop shopping promise for broad assortment and everyday low prices."

The retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., reported net income of $3.8 billion, or $1.09 per share, in the three months ended July 31. That compares with $3.6 billion, or 97 cents per share, in the same period last year. Revenue, excluding Sam's Club membership fees, was up 5.5 percent to $108.6 billion. (more)

Jon Stewart: Why is Everyone Still Ignoring Ron Paul? (A fantastic question)

In Iowa's Ames Straw Poll this weekend, Michele Bachmann bested 2nd place Ron Paul by less than 200 votes. And yet, in the immediate spin cycle at least, pundits talked about Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Bachmann. Paul seemed to be, as his supporters always point out, invisible. Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart became the latest to weigh in on the habit of ignoring Paul. After playing a few highlight reels showing anchors going out of their way not to mention the libertarian firebrand, he incredulously asks: "How did libertarian Ron Paul become the 13th floor in a hotel?" (source)

Employees Bid Farewell to Corporate America

With the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.1 percent as of July 31 and a fragile economic recovery underway, many workers feel they are left with no choice but to take their careers into their own hands.

Employees are bidding farewell to corporate America in the hope of finding a more secure, or at least fulfilling, future. They are reinventing themselves by starting their own companies or by pursuing long-put-off dreams that include creative or charitable endeavors.

While it might seem like a bold move, countless workers believe the abundance of uncertainty in today’s job market mitigates the fear factor.

When self-proclaimed "cubicle monkey" Charlie Avallone, a technical writer in the investment field, realized his superior was planning to stick around for at least another 20 years, the 37-year-old from Los Angeles felt he was running out of options.

Underwhelmed by his lateral move choices and faced with a shortage of other opportunities in the marketplace, Avallone decided to opt out. Taking a home equity loan to cover health care and day-to-day living expenses, Avallone started his own consulting business. (more)

Study: An hour of TV can shorten your life by 22 minutes

Watching an hour of TV after the age of 25 can shorten the viewer's life by just under 22 minutes, according to researchers in Australia.

The AFP news agency said scientists at the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland studied 11,000 Australian adults who were aged at least 25 in the year 2000.

The academics checked their data against an estimate from 2008 that Australians aged 25 or above watched TV for 9.8 billion hours. This was associated with the loss of 286,000 years of life, the AFP said.

An extrapolation of these figures found that a single hour of TV was responsible for the loss of just under 22 minutes of life, the news agency reported.

Smoking two cigarettes has approximately the same effect.

The problem is not actually TV itself but the lack of activity by the viewer for long periods, the researches said. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, excess weight and other health problems are associated with a sedentary lifestyle. (more)

Neighbor chases Kidnapper, saves 6 year old girl from rape and possible death

Neighbor chases Kidnapper, saves girl: krqe.com



The 6-year-old girl was taken by a stranger from a playground right outside her South Valley home.

The girl lives at the Vista Del Sol mobile home park near Blake and Unser SW.

Police say she was on the playground at around 4pm Monday when a man in a green van pulled up.

An alert neighbor says the man tried to coax the little girl into his van.

“The child was being resistant to his enticement and that is what caused him to get out of the car and actually push her into the van,” said Officer Robert Gibbs with the Albuquerque Police Department.

The neighbor then jumped into his own car and chased after Phil Garcia, the suspected kidnapper, while calling 911. (more)

Detroit Police To Cut Back On Burglar Alarm Response

Detroit police are making some changes regarding burglar alarms in what appears to be an attempt to keep more officers on the streets.

A memo, obtained by WWJ Newsradio 950, says the Detroit Police Department has reviewed calls for service and found that false alarms have the greatest financial and staffing impact on the department.

According to the memo, sent to alarm companies and signed by Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, 98 percent of alarms handled by the DPD are false.

Effective Monday, August 22, the police department will no longer respond to burglar alarm calls from monitoring companies unless the alarm company verifies the alarm.

The memo does note that the DPD will continue to respond to human-activated alarms, including hold-up, panic or duress.

WWJ spoke with Guardian Alarm President David Goldstein who said it’s not easy to verify alarm calls. (more)

Swiss Ponder Battle Over Runaway Franc

Switzerland, the nation that hasn’t gone to war with a foreign power since Napoleon, is reluctantly debating a generational taboo: ceding monetary independence to win a battle over its runaway currency.

Swiss National Bank Vice President Thomas Jordan said the central bank is assessing “a whole range of options” to prevent the franc, which reached a record against the euro this month, from making Swiss goods prohibitively expensive. Even a cup of coffee at Cafe St. Gotthard in Zurich costs $8.30, with one Swiss franc buying $1.2816 at today’s exchange rate.

Billionaire entrepreneur Christoph Blocher, one of the politicians who called on SNB President Philipp Hildebrand to resign after the bank lost $21 billion last year in a vain attempt to restrain the currency, now supports a franc target.

“The franc is catastrophically overvalued,” said Blocher, a former justice minister for the People’s Party, Switzerland’s largest. “It’s almost like economic warfare -- to wage a war, you must use all measures at your disposal, and you must win.” (more)

Syria using Iranian snipers as violent crackdown continues

IRANIAN snipers are being used in Syria to put down the growing tide of demonstrations against president Bashar al-Assad, claims a member of the regime's secret police who has fled to Turkey.
The 25-year-old officer offered a detailed account of increasingly brutal tactics used by security forces to end the five-month uprising, including parading women naked through the streets and shoot-to-kill orders against unarmed protesters.

He said he had beaten prisoners and shot at protesters in Dasmascus. At times during the past two months he was aware of Iranian troops operating alongside his team in the Syrian capital.

Speaking in Yayladagi, the nearest town to the refugee camp where he now lives, he said: "We knew they were from Iran because we were not allowed to speak to them and they were kept well away from us. When we had operated with the Syrian army we would always mix with them and chat."

His account confirms other reports that Syria has turned to its closest ally for help - including training and military hardware - in putting down the protests directed at the Assad family's four decades in power. (more)

David Secker, driver using two cell phones at the same time, gets 12 month driving ban

This guy is the poster boy for why cell phone usage in cars should be banned in more places.

According to press out of the United Kingdom, a man who was driving at 70MPH while texting on one phone and talking on the other has been banned from driving for a year.

Initial reports said that the driver, David Secker was apparently using his knees to steer the car, an accusation he refuted in court apparently.

From a BBC report: The court heard that when officers pulled Secker over, they had to wait for him to finish his phone conversation. Prosecutor Denis King said: "He was seen holding a mobile phone to his right ear and as he moved closer the officer saw he was holding another phone in his other hand as though he was texting."

Secker had been found guilty of using a mobile phone while driving, having no insurance and not being in a position to have proper control. (more)

Moody’s Lowers Economic Growth Outlook for US Economy

Moody’s Analytics said its near-term outlook for the U.S. economy has fallen significantly in the past month wake of the debate over the U.S. debt ceiling and the downgrade of the nation’s credit ratings by Standard & Poor’s .

Moody’s Analytics, a sister company to credit-ratings company Moody’s Investors Service, now expects real gross domestic product to increase at an annualized rate of about 2% in the second half of this year and just over 3% next year, compared with its estimate a month ago for growth of 3.5% for the second half of this year and through 2012.

The firm attributes most of the expected decline to a loss of business, investor and consumer confidence, noting the economy’s improving fundamentals such as the strengthening of business’s balance sheets and consumers’ strides in cutting household debt.

The credit-rating company also said it thinks the odds of a renewed recession over the next 12 months — now at 1 in 3 — will increase if stock prices continue to fall. Moody’s maintains that the odds of a renewed recession rise with each 100-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. While Moody’s expects the economic recovery will continue, prospects for economic growth and job creation have “diminished substantially.” (more)

Albert Luis Alvarez: Bond denied for man arrested 99 times

Bond was denied for a Chicago man arrested for the 99th time and charged with drug possession after he allegedly used his 3-year-old child as a ruse to beg for money in west suburban Riverside.

At about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Riverside police received a call of a suspicious man stopping people on the street to ask for money and begging door-to-door in the 7200 block of West Ogden, a release from police said.

Officers located 37-year-old Albert Luis Alvarez pushing a stroller with a small child inside, and when they questioned him, he refused to take his hands from his pockets, the release said. He then threw several clear plastic bags on the ground and tried to run away.

Police quickly caught him an arrested him after a brief struggle, and found heroin in his pockets, the release said.

While being booked, it was discovered that Alvarez had 98 prior arrests and 23 convictions, ranging from burglary, robbery and larceny to assault, drugs and smuggling, the release said. He was also found to have 10 dates of birth, nine names and five Social Security numbers used as aliases. (more)

Spectacular Hercules statue found in Jezreel Valley

A marble statue of Hercules from the second century CE has been uncovered in Israel in excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting at Horvat Tarbenet, within the framework of the Jezreel Valley Railway project, directed by the Israel National Roads Company.

According to Dr. Walid Atrash of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is a rare discovery. The statue, which probably stood in a niche, was part of the decoration of a bathhouse pool that was exposed during the course of the excavations. It is c. 0.5 m tall, is made of smoothed white marble and is of exceptional artistic quality.

The hero Hercules, of Greek and Roman mythology, was born in Thebes. He is the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Alcmene, a woman from Electryon. Hercules is considered the strongest man in the world, a symbol of power, courage and superhuman strength; one of the most famous legendary heroes of ancient Greece who battled the forces of the netherworld on behalf of the Olympian gods.

Hercules is described as hot tempered, and he often times acted impetuously and with uncontrollable rage. Greek mythology has it that Zeus’ wife, Hera, expressed her jealousy and fierce hatred of Hercules from the day he was born because he was the product of her husband’s infidelity. While he was just a baby Hera placed two poisonous snakes in his bed, but he managed to overpower them. (more)

Yashesh S. Desai Beat Dad to Death With Weed Wacker: Cops

A Woodridge man faces first-degree murder charges for allegedly striking his father in the head multiple times with a weed trimmer.

Yashesh S. Desai, 21, of 3 Plover Court in Woodridge was charged Monday in connection with the death of Sanjiv J. Desai, 47, according to DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin and Woodridge Police Chief Steve Herron.

A judge ordered him held on $2 million bail in the slaying.

Woodridge police responded at 3:07 a.m. Sunday to a 911 call from someone saying his brother had just killed their father, Herron said. When officers arrived, they found Sanjiv Desai lying on a futon in the Plover Court home's computer room.

The man suffered from "massive head wounds," Herron said. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital from severe trauma to his head. (more)

Shepard Fairey beaten up after spat over controversial Danish mural

When graffiti artist Shepard Fairey turned his talents to US politics, his reward was international acclaim and a letter of thanks from Barack Obama. When he employed a similar tactic in Denmark, however, the response proved altogether less edifying.

Last weekend, Fairey – creator of the famous "Hope" poster that came to encapsulate Obama's 2008 presidential campaign – was beaten up after the opening of his exhibition at a Copenhagen gallery.

Earlier this month he was involved with a controversial mural that has enraged leftwing anarchists throughout the city.

"I have a black eye and a bruised rib," Fairey told the Guardian.

According to reports, 41-year-old Fairey and his colleague Romeo Trinidad were punched and kicked by at least two men outside the Kodboderne 18 nightclub in the early hours of last Saturday morning. Fairey claims the men called him "Obama illuminati" and ordered him to "go back to America". (more)

Crop Circle 13th Aug 2011 at Knoll Down, near Beckhampton, Wiltshire, UK

New Crop Circle 13th Aug 2011 at Cooks Plantation, near Beckhampton Wiltshire, UK

Two New Crop Circles Bridge Inn & Wayland Smithy 4th Aug 2011

Mysterious Catatumbo Lightning Returns After Months Of Absence

Smoking / Steaming Hillside Phenomenon - Southern California

The 6 Dumbest Things Schools Are Doing in the Name of Safety Read more: The 6 Dumbest Things Schools Are Doing in the Name of Safety

We don't envy public school teachers and administrators. They have trying jobs, and nobody seems to give them enough credit. Maybe it's no wonder that schools sometimes go a little crazy and traumatize students.

But sometimes, the craziest things schools do are done in the name of keeping kids safe, all logic be damned. Things like ...

#6. Forcing Students to Wear Electronic Tracking Devices

You know what's hard about running the school? Keeping track of all those freaking kids, most of whom don't even want to be there. Hell, look at what Mr. Rooney went through with Ferris Bueller.

With that in mind, two Houston, Texas, area schools started handing out radio frequency identification tracking tags to the students (at a district cost of $150,000) in the attempt to track the kids' movements on campus. The idea is to make it easier for administrators to make sure the students go to class (remember, state funding is tied to attendance). (more)

Motorcycle Bomb Explodes in Afghan Market, Killing 8 - 16th Aug 2011

Reader Contribution;

An Afghan official says a bomb has exploded in a vegetable market in southern Afghanistan, killing eight people.

Uruzgan provincial council director Amanullah Otaq says the explosives had been stowed in a parked motorcycle. He says the bomb was detonated in a busy market area of Uruzgan's Dihrawud district Tuesday just as the sun was setting and people were breaking their fast for the holy month of Ramadan.

Otaq says eight people were killed in the blast and dozens wounded.

Uruzgan provincial spokesman Hamid Milad Mudasir confirmed the blast. He says there were deaths but that he does not have figures because family members have taken bodies home and have not reported all of those who died. Read More

World's first privately funded Spaceship to dock at International Space Station after Nasa's fleet is retired - 16th Aug 2011

SpaceX's next mission is to the International Space Station.

The Hawthorne, California-based private rocket maker said yesterday that its Dragon capsule will launch on November 30 on a cargo test run to the orbiting outpost.

SpaceX said the launch will be followed by a station docking more than a week later.

A SpaceX spokesperson said: ‘That’s a test flight where we show the capability to launch Dragon, orbit the Earth, dock with the International Space Station, unload cargo and then return back to Earth safely.

‘When the capsule connects to the International Space Station, astronauts aboard the space station will enter and be the ones to remove the cargo.’

The capsule will not be manned, but plans are said to be under way for a manned space flight.

The spokesperson added: ‘The first manned mission with continued Nasa support is expected to occur in 2014.

‘The capsule is about 12 feet in diameter, and it can carry seven astronauts comfortably.’ Read More

Fact following fiction? Scientists plan mission to blow up an asteroid 'hurtling towards Earth' - 16th Aug 2011

It seemed far-fetched on the silver screen.

But the European Space Agency is planning to launch a mission similar to the plot of Hollywood movie Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis and his intrepid team attempt to blow up a huge asteroid that’s hurtling towards Earth.

The real version, if it goes ahead in 2015, will see a satellite fired at break-neck speed into a ‘test’ asteroid to see if its course changes.

The aim is to assess whether it would be possible to save Earth using this method, should we discover that an asteroid is on a collision course with our planet.

The mission, called Don Quijote, will involve sending two spacecraft towards a near-Earth asteroid.

One will be an ‘impactor’, which is fired into the asteroid, the other an orbitor that will analyse data from the experiment.

One potential target is a 1600ft-wide asteroid called 99942 Apophis, which experts say does have a minute chance - around one in 250,000 - of hitting Earth in 2036, so it would be useful target practice. Read More