Friday, August 19, 2011

Tropical Storm Harvey forms in the Caribbean

A tropical storm formed in the Caribbean Friday and is expected to move across the coast of Belize Saturday afternoon or night.

Tropical Storm Harvey has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, with higher gusts, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

The storm is forecast to strengthen somewhat before its center reaches Belize.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Belize and for the Bay Islands of Honduras, which Harvey is predicted to pass near late Friday. A warning is also in effect for the southeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, from Punta Gruesa south to Chetumal, in Mexico.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of Guatemala and for parts of the coast of Honduras.

A warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours, while a watch means that storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

As of 8 p.m. ET, Harvey was about 130 miles east of Isla Roatan, Honduras, heading west at 9 mph.

The storm is predicted to dump 3 to 5 inches of rain across Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, with up to 8 inches possible in some places. A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels along the coast near and to the north of where Harvey makes landfall. (more)

Libyan rebels fight for Zawiya, take Zlitan

Rebels closed in on Moammar Gadhafi Friday, pushing back his fighters in a fierce battle in one key coastal city and seizing another town as they advanced toward his remaining bastion, the capital of Tripoli.

The territory remaining under Gadhafi's control has been shrinking dramatically in the past three weeks, with opposition fighters moving closer to Tripoli, a metropolis of two million people, from the west, south and east.

At the nearest point, rebel fighters are just 50 kilometres west of Tripoli, in the coastal city of Zawiya, where battles raged Friday over control of the city centre. Gadhafi's forces pounded rebel-held areas of the city with rockets, mortars and anti-aircraft fire, but by nightfall were pushed out of a multistorey hotel on the square.

NATO's bombing campaign has made it difficult for the regime to send massive reinforcements to Zawiya, enabling the rebels to maintain a hold over much of the city, their biggest prize in months.

But Friday's onslaught by regime forces also signaled that an opposition push toward Tripoli could be arduous and bloody. The massive fire at one point pinned down some two dozen rebel fighters behind a building about 200 metres from Zawiya's central square, a symbolic prize in the battle for control of the city of some 200,000 people.

The area was deserted, with building facades blackened and scarred by bullet holes. (more)

Cancer rates downstream from oilsands to be probed: Canada

A long-awaited Alberta Health study into the health of people living downstream from the oilsands, where cancer rates are higher than normal, appears to be finally going ahead.

Concerns were first raised in 2006 about elevated cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan, about 220 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. A provincial government study released in 2009 confirmed the trend and recommended more analysis into possible causes.

"For various reasons, and none of them really sort of satisfactory, nothing has happened — this is over 2½ years later," said John O'Connor, the family doctor who drew widespread attention five years ago for alleging Fort Chipewyan had a high rate of a rare bile-duct cancer.

"But in the interim, we've had a lot of scientific studies that have revealed the lack of monitoring and the lack of due diligence on the part of governments, both federal and provincial, in looking after the environment," O'Connor said Thursday. (more)

Euro debt crisis: 'No solution in sight'

European leaders are under intense pressure to come up with a long-term solution to the debt problems straining the European Union to its breaking point.

But given the enormous challenges involved and the unpalatable options available to them, few analysts expect EU policymakers to announce any meaningful changes soon.

"There is no solution to the Euroland's sovereign debt crisis in sight," said Carl Weinberg, an economist at High Frequency Economics. "Markets will continue to be fundamentally unstable and volatile as long as we can think."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave it their best shot on Tuesday.

The leaders of Europe's largest economies announced proposals they said will encouraging fiscal discipline and increase economic competitiveness across the euro zone.

Investors were not impressed. (more)

India's Hazare begins anti-corruption fast after leaving jail -- Is India set to explode?

Indian activist Anna Hazare began a public hunger strike in the country's capital Friday, accompanied by thousands of cheering supporters.

The 74-year-old campaigner, who is seeking stronger anti-corruption measures in India, was greeted by crowds as he left a jailhouse in New Delhi earlier to make his way to the city's large Ramlila Grounds.

He will stage the two-week protest there after police relaxed their conditions. Supporters say he began fasting while still in jail.

Hazare traveled from the jail in an open-top truck decorated with Indian flags, as thousands of citizens marched along.

Before arriving at Ramlila Grounds -- known mostly as a venue for massive political rallies, demonstrations and religious festivals -- the campaigner visited the shrine to Mahatma Gandhi, the man who led the nation's independence struggle, to pay homage. (more)

Hamas military wing calls off truce as Israeli strikes target Gaza



In a move that could portend an increase in violence between Israelis and Palestinians, the Hamas military wing announced it was ending a de facto two-year truce with Israel early Saturday.

A statement from the Izzedine al Qassam brigades was broadcast on a Hamas-run radio station, announcing: "There is no truce with the Israeli occupation under the continuation of committing massacres against the Palestinian people without justification."

"We call for groups to join in calling against the crimes of the Israeli occupation," the statement continued.

Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government in Gaza, has maintained what it has described as a de facto truce with Israel since the end of the three-week Gaza War that began in late 2008. But it has carried out attacks targeting Israelis in response to what it has described as acts of Israeli aggression. Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military continued to attack sites in Gaza on Saturday as tensions between it and militants remained high two days after one of the worst terrorist attacks on Israelis in recent years.

One Israeli strike targeted a motorcycle early Saturday morning in Gaza City, killing three, according to Palestinian medical and security sources. Among the dead was a 5-year-old boy, they said. (more)

Fukushima’s invisible snow, and sunflowers that will hopefully mop up some of Japan's rampant radiation

Koyu Abe, a Zen priest of Joenji temple, poses among a field of sunflowers which his volunteer group "Make A Wish Upon Flowers" had planted in Fukushima, northern Japan August 7, 2011. At the temple thousands of sunflowers have been planted to help fight the radiation. "It is as if an invisible snow had fallen on Fukushima and continued to fall, covering the area," said Abe. Sunflowers were used near Chernobyl after the 1986 nuclear accident to extract radioactive caesium from contaminated ponds nearby. Japanese scientists are carrying out tests to prove their usefulness in fighting radiation. (View the entire photo gallery here)

Map tracks Antarctica on the move

Scientists have produced what they say is the first complete map of how the ice moves across Antarctica.

Built from images acquired by radar satellites, the visualisation details all the great glaciers and the smaller ice streams that feed them.

The map has been published online by Science magazine.

It should aid the understanding of how the White Continent might evolve in the warmer world being forecast by climatologists.

"This is like seeing a map of all the oceans' currents for the first time. It's a game changer for glaciology," said lead author Dr Eric Rignot.

"We are seeing amazing flows from the heart of the continent that had never been described before," added the US space agency (Nasa) and University of California (UC), Irvine, researcher.

The map incorporates billions of radar data points collected between 1996 and 2009 by satellites belonging to Europe, Canada and Japan. (more)

Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard vacation looks like an act of presidential hara-kiri

President Obama begins his 10-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard today, the third year in a row he has taken his summer holiday in one of America’s most expensive resorts. During his time there he will be experiencing the kind of luxury that the vast majority of ordinary Americans can only dream about: Barack Obama will be staying in a compound which costs more to rent for a single week than most American households earn in a year.

In previous years Obama’s expensive vacations have attracted relatively little attention from the US media, with the exception of Michelle Obama’s trip to southern Spain last August, which led to her being dubbed a “modern-day Marie Antoinette” by one columnist. This year, however, even some flagships of the liberal mainstream media have been raising eyebrows. The Washington Post’s coverage for example has been unusually critical, for a publication that usually shies away from making an issue out what it would traditionally view as the president’s private life:

With 14 million Americans out of work, a volatile stock market and a historic downgrade of the country’s credit rating, President Obama is set to begin a 10-day retreat Thursday at a 28-acre Martha’s Vineyard compound called Blue Heron Farm, which costs an estimated $50,000 per week to rent. That divide — and the presumed hypocrisy of a president who has pledged not to rest “until every American looking for a job can find one,” going golfing and biking on an island playground for wealthy celebrities — has been too much for political pundits to resist. (more)

Plants and animals migrating upward as climate changes

Across the globe, plants and animals are creeping, crawling, slithering and winging to higher altitudes and latitudes as temperatures climb.

Moreover, the greater the warming in any given region, the farther its plants and animals have migrated, according to the largest analysis to date of the rapidly shifting ranges of species in Europe, North America, Chile and Malaysia.

“The more warming there’s been in an area, the more you would expect a species to move, and the more they have moved,” said Chris D. Thomas, a conservation biologist at the University of York in England, who led the work published Thursday in the journal Science. “This more or less puts to bed the issue of whether these shifts are related to climate change. There isn’t any obvious alternative explanation for why species should be moving poleward in studies around the world.” (more)

Scientific proof: Money is dirty

Paper money from countries all around the world carry a chemical hitchhiker – the hormone-active substance known as bisphenol A (BPA). Paper bills are the latest addition to a growing list of items tainted with the ubiquitous chemical that has been linked to adverse reproductive, metabolic and behavioral effects.

The study identifies cash as another source of human exposure to BPA, report the researchers who found that BPA can transfer to the bills from thermal cash receipts stored next to them in wallets.

The levels measured in the 50 bills from different governments varied widely – from almost nothing to considerably high amounts. Still, more research is needed to understand human exposures and possible health effects. (more)

Zapping bugs with microwaves could replace pesticides (Gee, that sounds like a safe alternative)

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory are investigating whether microwaves can be used to kill insects and other pests, such as slugs and snails, instead of chemical pesticides.

The right wave frequency can cause damage to the insect's structure, causing it to explode, or can simply interfere with its communication or reproductive system. Microwaves of up to 100 gigahertz are being tested to see whether they can be used as a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly way of exterminating certain pests.

Whereas chemical pesticides don't discriminate between species, microwaves could be tailored to target insects of a certain size and structure. Finding the right resonant frequency to cause the damage to the bugs is a bit of trial and error.

NPL, along with a team from the University of Reading, tested the microwave pesticide on a single species -- the aphid. Initially they were examining whether they could kill the aphids using certain frequencies.

They grew green peach aphids in the lab and then placed them into a holder and directed waves of different frequencies towards them. They also tested high peak intensity pulses with a low average power. The theory was that a high burst of energy would explode the insect or at least damage a large number of cells, leading to rapid death. (more)

Solar company Evergreen files for bankruptcy due to rock-bottom Chinese prices and competition

U.S. solar company Evergreen Solar Inc filed for bankruptcy on Monday, its once cutting-edge technology falling victim to competition from cheaper Chinese rivals and solar subsidy cuts in Europe.

The Chapter 11 filing by a company once seen at the forefront of U.S. renewable energy technology came after a two-year struggle to stave off competition from Asia. The increasingly crowded market forced Evergreen to close its much-touted but short-lived Massachusetts factory and relocate manufacturing to China, and resulted in the virtual disappearance of its once-lofty stock market value.

"How is the U.S. going to compete in manufacturing in general when manufacturers in China have access to numerous advantages?" said GTM Research analyst Brett Prior. "It costs $1.10 per watt in China to make a solar panel. That same exact process costs $1.80 here in the U.S. That's a 60 percent difference, and that's too big."

Evergreen's solar wafer technology was a favorite of investors in 2007 and 2008 because it used dramatically less of the industry's key pricey raw material, polysilicon. At the time, however, silicon prices were 10 times what they are today, making that advantage less meaningful as silicon prices gradually retreated from their highs. (more)

Rick Perry says he doesn't believe in global warming

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry told New Hampshire voters Wednesday that he does not believe in manmade global warming, calling it a scientific theory that has not been proven.

"I think we're seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change," the Texas governor said on the first stop of a two-day trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state.

He said some want billions or trillions of taxpayer dollars spent to address the issue, but he added: "I don't think from my perspective that I want to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question."

His comments came at a packed breakfast meeting with local business leaders in a region known for its strong environmental policies. And he made his global warming comment in response to a question by an audience member who cited evidence from the National Academy of Sciences. (more)

Human Sewage Identified as Coral Killer

A Florida biologist has linked a vicious coral-killing pathogen in the Caribbean and Florida Keys to human sewage that leaks into the ocean from improperly treated wastewater.

The Caribbean Elkhorn coral was at one time the most common coral in the Caribbean, but has declined by 90 percent over the last 15 years and is now an endangered species. Among the many factors contributing to its decline is a disease known as white pox, caused by Serratio marcescens, a common fecal intestinal bacteria found in the guts of many humans and other animals, including seagulls, Key deer and cats. But whether it came from humans or another source has been a mystery.

"The medical mystery was a whodunit," said James Porter, a professor of ecology at the University of Georgia and an author of the study, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.

When the pathogen attacks, it sears bright white blotches onto the coral, dead tissue which lifts off, leaving the skeleton exposed and killing the organism. (more)

Dr William Bassett "killed patient with drugs" -- but will remain a doctor: Devoted or poor medicine?

A family doctor who gave a terminally ill man a fatal overdose of painkillers avoided being struck off after a disciplinary panel ruled he may have accidentally killed him due to him being “too devoted” to patients.

Dr William Bassett, 59, gave the patient a lethal injection of diamorphine in front of his family after the 65 year-old, who was suffering from lung cancer, was sent home to die.

The GP with the Brown Clee medical practice, based in Ditton Priors, Shropshire, had been “overtired and under stress” after making four visits in 24 hours to the man’s home after he began throwing off his oxygen mask in a “highly disturbed state”, the General Medical Council (GMC) hearing was told.

Following the last visit on May 29, 2009, the doctor administered the fatal dose of 100mg after telling a nurse he was not expecting the man, known as Patient A, to live much longer.

He then wrote in his medical notes: “He died in peace. Spoke to the family. Nothing more we can do for him.”

Dr Bassett was later questioned by police and claimed he had only meant to administer 20mg but after the patient began to struggle he accidentally administered the entire dose. (more)

England riots: foreign rioters will be deported

Foreigners who took part in last week's rioting will be deported to "send a tough message to troublemakers," it has emerged.

More than 150 people born abroad have been arrested over the looting and arson attacks which brought misery to English cities.

Damian Green, the immigration minister, said: "We strongly believe that foreign national lawbreakers should be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity.

"We also have the power to cancel visas of foreign nationals found guilty of criminal activity, and this is something we will be looking to do when these cases arise.

"Last week saw unprecedented criminality on our streets and the courts are now dispensing firm justice to ensure those responsible are punished," he told the London Evening Standard.

Among those accused of taking part in the disorder is a failed asylum seeker alleged to have looted clothes and money from a branch of BHS in Walthamstow, northeast London. (more)

'Down and out' Earl of Cardigan 'must sell silverware or go hungry'

A "distinguished" aristocrat is "to all intents and purposes down and out" and needs to raise money or "go hungry", a High Court judge has heard.

The Earl of Cardigan - David Brudenell-Bruce, 58 - had "no money" and "his concern was simply to obtain sufficient funds to put food on the table", a barrister told Mr Justice Floyd.

Henry Hendron, for the earl, told the High Court hearing in London: "That is the stark reality of my client's situation at the moment. It is one that is unfortunate for such a distinguished gentleman."

Mr Justice Floyd was hearing evidence in the latest round of a legal row between the earl and trustees of his ancient family estate at Savernake near Marlborough, Wiltshire.

The earl and trustees are in dispute over ownership of estate property, and the judge has made an order temporarily preventing the earl selling estate "chattels".

A barrister representing trustees argued that the earl, who used a firm called "David and Goliath Debt Advice", had tried to sell "estate silverware" under a "variety of pseudonyms" when he was not entitled to.

Thomas Entwistle told the judge that trustees had "serious" and "legitimate" concerns about the earl's conduct.

The earl, who was at today's hearing, had said the "panic" about him "selling off the family silverware" was "simply unfounded", the court heard. (more)

Why is CBS News Selling Barack Obama Merchandise in its Online Store?

There‘s some curious merchandise for sale in CBS News’ online store.*

Alongside a travel mug, tote bag and T-shirt that all bear the CBS News logo, the store also includes the following:

“Dreams From My Father,” by Barack Obama
“Dreams From My Father,” by Barack Obama (hardcover)
“Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama‘s Plan to Renew America’s Promise”
“The American Journey of Barack Obama,” by Life Magazine
“Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs”
“The Official Inauguration Celebration DVD”

In fact, out of the 13 items for sale, seven are Obama-related, in addition to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s memoir, “True Compass.” The only CBS-related item is a DVD copy of “60 Minutes Presents — Obama: All Access – The Road to the White House.” There is so much merchandise that a side bar on the site even has a separate “Barack Obama” tab for quick browsing. (more)

Napier highschool students show up drunk... for school... on first day...

A number of students showed up for the first day of school at Naperville North High School Wednesday appearing to be intoxicated.

Some of the students have already been suspended while others are still being talked to about the situation.

According to School District 203 Director of Communications Susan Rice, a number of the students were observed acting in an unusual way Wednesday.

“A number of students showed up at school ... possibly under the influence,” Rice said.

The district is not releasing an exact number of students involved in the situation.

“The school administration is talking to the students and their families” about the incident, Rice said.

Some students have already been suspended, she said, while the punishment for others is still yet to be determined.

“Each student is being dealt with as an individual,” she said, so a variety of disciplinary options will probably be used.

Before school on Wednesday, the senior class at Naperville North held its annual tailgate party. Rice said “there was no alcohol at the tailgate party” and that the students got intoxicated off campus. (more)

Ann Marie Abdullin: Arrested twice for drunk driving... in a span of 3 hours

A Salisbury woman has been arrested twice in three hours on drunken driving charges, and police say she had her 4-year-old daughter with her the second time.

An officer stopped Ann Marie Abdullin on Route 50 in Salisbury early Tuesday for traffic violations, and police say she was impaired by alcohol.

Authorities say they learned Abdullin, 23, had been arrested just three hours earlier on a drunken driving charge and released to a sober driver.

Abdullin is charged with driving while impaired, driving under the influence, operating a motor vehicle within 12 hours of being arrested for DUI and other traffic offenses.

Police say charges also are pending against the driver who took Abdullin back to her car and let her drive away after her first arrest. (more)

Vietnam on alert as common virus kills 81 children

Vietnam's prime minister has put the country on alert as an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease continues to surge, killing 81 children and sickening more than 32,000 people nationwide so far this year, officials said Friday.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has called for stepped-up efforts to prevent and control the transmission of the common childhood disease. It has spread nationwide but is raging hardest in the country's south, where nearly 80 percent of the cases have been reported. About 65 percent of the deaths have occurred in children younger than 3.

"Hand foot and mouth disease, a dangerous infectious disease for children under 5, is spreading fast, creating huge danger to the health and life of young children," Dung said in a statement that appeared on the government's website Friday.

This year's outbreak is a sharp increase over previous years. Since 2008, about 10,000 to 15,000 cases were reported per year, with about 20 to 30 children dying annually.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is spread by sneezing, coughing and contact with fluid from blisters or infected feces. It is caused by a group of enteroviruses in the same family as polio. No vaccine or specific treatment exists, but illness is typically mild and most children recover quickly without problems. (more)

Is the media ignoring Ron Paul? Statistics now should a resounding "yes"


Police scramble to fight flash-mob mayhem in Maryland



This week in Germantown, Maryland, it took less than a minute for a flash mob of teenagers to descend on a 7-Eleven, ransack shelves and make off with hundreds of dollars worth of stuff.

It's going to take much longer for police in Montgomery County to figure out how to prevent it from happening again.

"We had always thought flash mobs happen in big cities. We are unprepared. We don't have anyone who has social-media expertise," said county police spokeswoman Janelle Smith. "Even if we did, our budget looks like every other law enforcement agency in the country. It's not pretty."

Police in Maryland are not alone in their scramble to find creative, affordable and efficient ways to fight mayhem from flash mobs -- groups of people who gather in one location quickly after being summoned online. Law enforcement in big cities and small towns are all scrambling to, as Smith put it, "catch up with teenagers" when it comes to monitoring crime planning on the Web.

This summer, spontaneous incidents of group violence -- dubbed "flash robs" -- have happened in Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Washington, among other cities. Most episodes involved groups of young people looting stores or assaulting pedestrians and then running off.

Authorities said they believe at least some of these incidents were triggered by calls on social-networking sites to meet up and wreak havoc, although they cannot say for certain. (more)

Russian Reindeer Herder Discovers Baby Mammoth in Arctic

A man herding reindeer in Russia's Arctic found the perfectly-preserved, 40,000-year-old body of a baby woolly mammoth.

The creature's carcass was sticking up out of the permafrost, local officials said. The discovery came in the same area a mammoth calf dubbed Lyuba was found four years ago, authorities told Reuters. They are sending out an expedition to examine the find and possibly recover it.

"If it is true what is said about how it is preserved, this will be another sensation of global significance," expedition leader Natalia Fyodorova said in a statement on the Arctic Yamalo-Nenetsk region's website.

Scientists hope to bring the remains to the regional capital Salekhard, where it would be stored in a cooler to prevent decomposition.

Giant woolly mammoths have been extinct for at least 12,000 years. In the case of Lyuba, arctic ice kept the mammoth so well preserved that skin and organs were intact. She was named for the wife of the hunter who discovered her. (more)

Flash Mob Robberies Continue in Washington



For the second time in a week, a flash mob robbed a convenience store in our area. Could it be a new trend in the Washington region?

In the latest incident, 10 women stormed the Shop Express convenience store along Benning Road in northeast Washington at about 3:15 a.m. Thursday.

They loaded up on food, drinks and snacks at different parts of the store.

Some of the women were carrying bags to hold some of the items. Then they all rushed out of the store at the same time without paying.

Employees said that each of the women stole about $60 worth of merchandise. (more)

Crooks Rob Man of $2 Million in Jewelry at Red Light Intersection

A diamond seller from Israel had over $2 million worth of diamonds taken from him in a smash-and-grab heist in North Hollywood.

At 10:10 p.m., Thursday, the victim was visiting a friend in North Hollywood. The jeweler left the friend's house in his car and was stopped at a red light near the corner of Belaire and Burbank Boulevard.

He was then hit from behind by another vehicle while a second car boxed him in. That's when five to six masked suspects jumped out of the vehicle, smashed the back window and made off with a backpack with over $2 million worth of diamonds inside.

"He couldn't go anywhere because of the vehicles, and they proceeded to strike him with their fists," said Sgt. Mike Kammert.

Kammert said there were no weapons involved. (more)

Susanne Eman: I’m supersizing to be the world’s fattest woman, says 52st mother of two (but she’s only halfway there)

Obese model Susanne Eman is saying 'Supersize Me' for real - in her bid to become the fattest woman ever.

The 52-stone bombshell aims to reach a whopping 115 stone, or 1,600lb, by guzzling at least 20,000 calories a day.

Susanne, 32, from Arizona, USA, hopes to pass the half-way milestone of 57 stones by the end of the year.

The single mother-of-two believes she's already overtaken former biggest mum Donna Simpson, 43, from New Jersey, who weighs 50 stones.

And Susanne - who is creating a stir among fans of 'Super Size Big Beautiful Women' (SSBBWs) - plans to increase her calorie-intake to keep gaining.

‘I'd love to find out if it's humanly possible to reach a ton,’ she said. ‘A previous record holder was 1,600lbs (115 stone) , so I have to be at least that. (more)

Hempfield School District Offering Drug Testing Kits To Parents (Seriously? It's called Hempfield?)



A local school district is offering take home drug tests to parents.

The test kids will be available to parents of middle school students in the Hempfield School District.

“We would rather be proactive,” Andy Leopold, superintendent, said. “We have 6,300 students in this district and if we can affect even one family or one child then we’re doing our job.”

The test will be offered to parents and will be voluntary. The results will never be given to the school district. The student cannot be punished in any way by the school system.

“It gives my kids a way out to say, ‘Hey. I could be tested for drugs at any time. No thank you. I can’t,’” Randy Stoner, a school board member, said.

Terry Ewing, a former teacher and a mother, says it’s about time.

“I think this is idea has some merit,” she said. “Parents can know for sure what’s going on with their children. The school district doesn’t want to know the results. This is just for the parents. If they want it, they can request it? Not a bad idea.” (more)

Back to school prices inflate by 10%

Stores are trying everything they can think of to disguise the fact that you're going to pay more for clothes this fall.

Some are using less fabric and calling it the new look. Others are adding cheap stitching and trumpeting it as a redesign. And the buttons on that blouse? Chances are you're not going to think it's worth paying several dollars more for the shirt just to have them.

Retailers are raising prices on merchandise an average of 10 percent across-the-board this fall in an effort to offset their rising costs for materials and labor. But merchants are worried that cash-strapped customers who are weighed down by economic woes will balk at price hikes. So, retailers are trying to raise prices without tipping off unsuspecting customers.

"Let the consumer trickery begin," said Brian Sozzi, Wall Street Strategies retail analyst

Retailers have long tried to mask price hikes - for instance, jacking them up more than needed so that they can offer a "sale" on the higher price. But the new strategies come as merchants' production and labor costs are expected to rise 10 percent to 20 percent in the second half of the year after having remained low during most of the past two decades. Costs can quickly add up: Raw materials account for 25 percent to 50 percent of the cost of producing a garment, while labor ranges from 20 percent to 40 percent, analysts estimate. (more)

Putin Calls U.S. ‘Parasite’ as Russia Gorges on Its Debt

For Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the U.S. is a “parasite” because its rising debt weighs on the global economy. For his government, the same debt is the safest possible investment.

Russia, the world’s largest energy producer, has boosted its holdings of U.S. debt by more than 1,600 percent since September 2006, according to U.S. Treasury Department data. Russia used surging commodity prices to build the world’s third- largest reserves pile, boosted in part by return on Treasuries.

Putin, 58, who oversaw the largest buildup of U.S. debt holdings in Russia’s history as president from 2000 to 2008, may return to the post after elections next year. The country is now one of the world’s 10 largest holders of the securities with $110 billion at the end of June, about 70 percent more than when Putin left the Kremlin.

“They are sending out a message” largely for domestic consumption, Edwin Gutierrez, who helps manage about $7 billion in emerging-market debt at Aberdeen Asset Management in London, said in a phone interview on Aug. 17. “It’s ironic that these voices of complaint come as they experience massive capital appreciation.” (more)

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION - 19th August 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Hokkaido, Japan Region at a depth of 311.6 km ( 193.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:10:11 UTC Friday 19th August 2011.
The epicenter was 83 km (52 miles) Northeast of Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan
No Tsunami Alert Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

More than 150 people caught after rioting swept across UK ‘were foreign nationals and will be deported’ (unless the human Rights court gets involved)

At least 150 foreign rioters and looters who caused chaos on the streets will be deported as part of a Government pledge to get tough on troublemakers.

Those involved will be thrown out of Britain ‘at the earliest opportunity’, Immigration Minister Damian Green has said.

The decision matches the tough treatment laid down by police, magistrates and judges on hundreds of rioters across Britain.

The plan for the 150 non-British citizens was revealed by the Evening Standard today.

Among those accused of taking part in the disorder is a failed asylum seeker who is alleged to have stolen clothes and cash from the Walthamstow branch of department store BHS.

Algerian national Abderazak Boussag, 23, was arrested after police found the fingerprint of his teenage co-defendant at the store and raided his home in Leyton.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘We strongly believe that foreign national lawbreakers should be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity. We also have the power to cancel the visas of foreign nationals found guilty of criminal activity, and this is something we will be looking to do when these cases arise. Read More

Gunman on the run after bursting into hairdressers and 'shooting wife in the knee and injuring two others' - 19th Aug 2011

Police are hunting for a gunman who burst into a hairdressers and shot three women.

Officers were called to Carol Ann's Hairstylists in Malpas Road, Newport, South Wales at 2.20pm and found one woman had been blasted in the knee and two other women had been hit in the neck and arm.

Neighbours suspected a husband opened fire with a double-barreled shotgun on his wife in the salon - and then dropped the gun before escaping.

A hairdresser working at a nearby salon said: 'Customers heard shots and police were here in seconds. We were told to stay indoors and keep away from windows.

'We have to tell the police when we want to leave and they will escort us to our cars.

'The salon is quite popular with more elderly women but it would usually be busy on a Friday afternoon.

'We've heard that a man went in there and shot his wife. It looks like two other people were also shot. Read More

Is Dormant Turrialba Volcano waking up? - Costa Rica - 19th Aug 2011

For over 100 years the Turrialba was dormant, but now is visited weekly by experts who are tracking its changes.

Recently, experts have been investigating new holes in the craters, where the temperature of gas emissions has been rising and forming a single plume of gas that is visible at the top.

The Turrialba volcano records an average of 100 micro quakes daily. In addition, the degassing is affecting production at nearby crop and dairy farms.

To follow the pulse of the temperatures the University of Costa Rica (UCR) has installed infrared cameras, this along with the seismic stations, it will allow experts to learn any drastic change at the volcano in minutes.

Cameras have also been installed at the Poás volcano. Source

Flashflood hits Cotabato village; 45 families displaced, Philippines - 19th Aug 2011

A flashflood hit a village in Polomolok, South Cotabato yesterday afternoon, leaving 45 families homeless.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Purok Riverside, Silway 8 was hit by a flashflood around 2 p.m.

The NDRRMC said that the flashflood struck after a river along the hamlet overflowed due to heavy rains.

At total of 45 families or 215 people were displaced and evacuated to a gymnasium in the barangay. No one was reported hurt.

The local government has provided food to the affected families. Source

Flashflood strikes northern Turkish province - 19th Aug 2011

Heavy rain that started in the early hours of Friday triggered floods in the Black Sea province of Ordu, daily Hürriyet reported on its website.

Ordu Gov. Orha Düzgün said 90 kilograms of rain fell per square meter, or approximately 9 centimeters, and quoted Ordu residents as saying this was "the worst disaster that hit the city in the last 50 years."

Rainfall started at around 2 a.m. Friday and continued until morning, causing the Aziziye and Şahincili creeks to overflow. Floods occured on inner city roads and streets.

One lane of the Black Sea Highway's portion that ran through Ordu was closed to traffic.

All neighborhoods, avenues and streets in the city center were affected by the flood. Hundreds of residences and offices were left under water.

There were no reports of loss of life. Source

Thousands evacuated as Spanish forest fire rages, Murcia - 19th Aug 2011

A forest fire stretching 8 km (5 miles) at its widest point has forced thousands of people to flee their homes in the eastern Spanish region of Murcia.

A forest fire stretching 8 km (5 miles) at its widest point has forced thousands of people to flee their homes in the eastern Spanish region of Murcia.

The fire, whipped up by strong winds and high summer temperatures, is out of control and has devastated a large area of the Calblanque natural park, on the coast to the east of the historic city of Cartagena.

About 2,500 residents from the town of Portman have been evacuated.

"We are talking about hundreds of hectares reduced to dust," Portman Mayor Francisco Bernabe told national radio station SER.

"For the moment the fire is still raging and dangerous," he said.

Emergency services are bringing in fire-fighting planes to drop water on the flames. Source

"Police Brutality = Police State: It’s Not Coming, It’s Here! – And We Need To Do Something About It"

“Injustice anywhere, threatens Justice everywhere” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the True Democracy Party we are backing Major Police and Prison Reforms at State and Federal Levels.

Police and their actions need to be accountable to the people of that community.

All Bad Police should be immediately removed, by the Community.

All to often, even when there is Video evidence of Gross Police Misconduct, resulting in Death or Major Injury, they walk away clean on the weakest of reasons.

Police Brutality in any form, can not be tolerated.

What you allow to happen to others, could/will happen to you. If you allow the oppression of anyone, black, latino, gay, whoever, those same tactics will be used against you.

This is what we are witnessing. It was okay when it was only happening to blacks and others. But this Apathy, refusing to help those in need or condoning their treatment at the hands of Law Enforcemnent, has laid the Groundwork for the Poice Brutality that we are seeing today. And possibly, something much worse, a complete Police State, which may require much BLOOD to get out of. Complete Slavery to the Evil Machine and the Banksters behind it. (more)

Thousands Camp Out for Atlanta Job Fair as Jobless Rate Rises

Thousands of unemployed waited overnight, camping out in their business suits and office heels and braving the tormenting heat in Atlanta to stand in line for a job fair Thursday. Authorities treated 20 people for heat exhaustion as they struggled to keep the line moving and get people moved inside.

The incredible turnout at the job fair comes on the heels of the state labor commissioner's announcement that Georgia's jobless rate rose.

The state unemployment rate increased to 10.1 percent in July from the 9.9 percent in June. The unemployment rate for African-Americans stands at 15.9 percent, far above the national rate of 9.1 percent.

July marks the 48th consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate.

The line was full of hopefuls who waited for hours in a line that wrapped around the Atlanta Technical College where the event was held.

The For the People Jobs Initiative, hosted by U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson and sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, is a series of job fairs and town halls at some of the urban areas hit hardest by unemployment and the financial crisis.

The enormous turnout in Georgia created miles of traffic that clogged southwest Atlanta. (more)

Joe Arpaio: Arizona sheriff promises Obama-eligibility probe

At the request of tea party leaders in Arizona, famed Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has promised to investigate the validity of Barack Obama's purported long-form birth certificate in a determination of the president's eligibility for the county's 2012 election ballot.

Tea party leaders in Surprise, Ariz., met with Arpaio and WND senior reporter Jerome Corsi Thursday morning to express concern that a fake birth certificate would be used to document the president's eligibility to run in Maricopa County, where Arpaio is the chief law enforcement officer.

Arpaio's tough crackdown on illegal immigration has made him a national figure.

At a one-hour meeting in Arpaio's office, the tea party leaders presented the sheriff with a petition that was drafted after a speech by Corsi the previous night. Corsi, author of a best-selling book challenging Obama's eligibility, "Where's the Birth Certificate?", presented evidence from numerous computer-imaging specialists who believe the document presented by the White House April 27 is not authentic. (more)

Obama to deport illegals by ‘priority’ (Meaning many illegals will be allowed to stay)

Bowing to pressure from immigrant rights activists, the Obama administration said Thursday that it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care.

The move marks a major step for President Obama, who for months has said he does not have broad categorical authority to halt deportations and said he must follow the laws as Congress has written them.

But in letters to Congress on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on “priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases to see who meets the new criteria.

“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”

The move won immediate praise from Hispanic activists and Democrats who had strenuously argued with the administration that it did have authority to take these actions, and said as long as Congress is deadlocked on the issue, it was up to Mr. Obama to act. (more)

Why the President Doesn’t Present a Bold Plan to Create Jobs and Jumpstart the Economy / Slouching Toward a Double Dip, For No Good Reason



Americans are deeply confused about why the economy is so bad – and their President isn’t telling them. In fact, the White House apparently has decided to join with Republicans and blame it on the long-term budget deficit.

Before I turn to the President, though, let’s be clear: The lousy economy is due to insufficient demand. Consumers – who are 70 percent of the economy — can’t and won’t buy because they’re running out of cash. They can’t borrow against homes that are worth a third less than they were five years ago, and most consumers are bad credit risks anyway because they’re losing their jobs and their wages are dropping. They also have to start saving for the kids’ college or for retirement, which will cut their spending even more.

Without enough consumers, businesses won’t hire enough people and pay them enough to reverse the vicious cycle. So we’re dead in the water. Even the stock market has caught on to the truth.

Which means government has to step in to boost the economy – as it has every time the economy has fallen into recession over the last eight downturns. Include the massive spending on World War II that lifted us out of the Great Depression, and it’s nine. The Fed can help, but it can’t do it alone. And it’s least helpful after a huge asset bubble has burst because the financial system won’t channel low interest rates where they’re most needed – to small businesses and average consumers. (more)

Pope laments 'amnesia' about God

Pope Benedict XVI lamented modern society's "amnesia" about God as he travelled Friday to a famed Spanish monastery on the second day of his four-day visit for the Roman Catholic Church's world youth festival.

Several hundred young nuns cheered, waved flags and performed the "wave" at El Escorial monastery as they waited for Benedict inside a courtyard of a 16th-century complex, a UNESCO world heritage site about 50 kilometres northwest of the capital of Madrid.

Benedict told them their decisions to dedicate their lives to their faith was a potent message in today's increasingly secular world.

"This is all the more important today when we see a certain eclipse of God taking place, a kind of amnesia which albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity," he said.

Benedict's main priority as Pope has been to try to reawaken Christianity in places like Spain, a once staunchly Catholic country that has drifted far from its pious roots. (more)