Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 25th August 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the South Sandwich Islands Region at a depth of 57.7 km (35.9 miles), the quake hit at 01:08:01 UTC Thursday 25th August 2011.
The epicenter was 98 km ( 60 miles) Northeast of Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

August Dollar Drive / Weekly Announcements -- August 24, 2011 (new posts appear below until midnight)

Hello everyone: we're moving our weekly announcements to Wednesdays so that more people can have the chance to read them!

1. August Dollar Drive: We'd like to thank all the generous people so far who have made a donation to our cause. If you're able to donate just a dollar, click on the banner above. Any amount helps a great deal, and we write a personal letter of thanks to every single person who gives.

2. Weird quakes! There were 90+ instances of quake activity in North America yesterday, which is highly unusual. We're digging into the matter to find out more. If you experienced any of yesterday's tremors, let us know in the comments!

3. We're looking for a highly confident and hardworking salesperson to join our team. For more information, please send us an email.

Take care everyone,

-- Matt & Lynsey

6.2 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 24th August 2011

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 23:06:16 UTC Wednesday 24th August 2011.
The epicenter was 79 km ( 49 miles) Southwest of Porto-Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 24th August 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 112.6 km (70 miles), the quake hit at 19:41:14 UTC Wednesday 24th August 2011.
The epicenter was 57 km ( 35 miles) North of Hihifo, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Foreign forces in Libya helping rebel forces advance: Has this been the West's war all along?

Special forces troops from Britain, France, Jordan and Qatar on the ground in Libya have stepped up operations in Tripoli and other cities in recent days to help rebel forces as they conducted their final advance on the Gadhafi regime, a NATO official confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

British forces, in particular, have assisted rebel units by "helping them get better organized to conduct operations," the official said. Some of these forces from all the countries have traveled with rebel units from towns across Libya as they advanced on Tripoli.

The official declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence information.

Overall, the special forces have helped rebels "improve their tactics," the official said. more

Libya: Rebels put £1m bounty on Gaddafi's head

Libya's rebel council has offered a £1m reward for the capture, dead or alive, of deposed ruler Colonel Gaddafi.

The rebels will also give amnesty to members of Gaddafi's close circle who kill or capture him, Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the Transitional National Council said today.

The bounty of two million Libyan dinars (£1m, $1.67m) was offered by two businessmen from Benghazi.

"The National Transitional Council announces that any of his inner circle who kill Gaddafi or capture him, society will give amnesty or pardon for any crime he has committed," chairman Jalil said.

Today there was heavy fighting in the south of Tripoli as rebels hunted the dictator.

"We think Gaddafi is hiding somewhere in Tripoli. He is likely to be in the al-Hadhba al-Khandra area," an official said. more

Libya: Gaddafi regime could unleash chemical weapons stockpile

Desperate members of the collapsing Gaddafi regime could try to unleash Libya’s stocks of chemical weapons, William Hague has warned.

The Foreign Secretary said he could not rule out final desperate acts from a regime in its “death throes”.

The Pentagon also said that US armed forces are monitoring Col Muammar Gaddafi’s chemical weapons sites.

“You can’t anticipate everything the Gaddafi regime will do. They are a vicious regime,” Mr Hague told the BBC.

“They are in their death throes. There are people still out there. That’s why we can’t rule out any of those things.”

He added: “These are still difficult and dangerous times in Libya. There are many weapons out there.” more

Philip Hulmes: Second man dies after being Tasered by police (But they're safe... right?)

Philip Hulmes, 53, was hit with electric probes from the stun gun after barricading himself in his house in Over Hulton, near Bolton.

It is understood police were called to the house by a concerned family member at 8.30pm last night.

They were told Mr Hughes, who was armed with a knife, had locked himself in the house, was making threats and had started to stab himself. Officers arrived and smashed a hole in the door.

When they spotted Mr Hughes and his injuries they called for Taser-trained back up.

After further attempts to talk him out of the building failed they broke into the house and used the stun gun. more

Travellers to Greece given malaria warning

Travellers to Greece have been warned to take precautions against mosquito bites following six reported cases of malaria since June.

None of the victims – five Greek adults and a Roma child – had any history of travel to a country where the disease is commonplace.

The cases occurred in the Laconia region of the southern Peloponnese and on Euboea, a large island north of Athens. Greek authorities have responded with enhanced surveillance of malaria in the two areas, and intensified mosquito control programmes. Awareness has also been raised among doctors and local residents.

Professor David Hill, director of the Health Protection Agency’s National Travel Health Network and Centre, said: “The risk to holidaymakers of catching malaria while in Greece remains extremely low, so there is no need to take anti-malarial medication when visiting this country, but travellers should take measures to prevent being bitten.

“We already advise people travelling to Greece to prevent insect bites to protect against another mosquito-borne infection caused by West Nile virus,” he added. “This can cause a nervous system disease and over 200 cases were reported in Greece last year. The recent cases of malaria in Greece reinforce the importance of taking precautions against being bitten while on holiday.” more

Libya conflict: rebels inside Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli (photo gallery)

Christian Falero: Following Virginia quake, he ran around naked and stabbed various elderly people while screaming about the end of the world

A naked madman went on a stabbing spree in a Manhattan apartment building Tuesday, wounding four people and killing one, cops and neighbors said.

Christian Falero, 23, rampaged in the buff through the building where he lives on Riverside Drive in Washington Heights, greeting his victims with knocks on their doors, police sources said.

When Ignacio Collazo, 81, and his wife, Margarita, 75 answered their door about 4 p.m., Falero plunged his blade into their bodies, the sources said.

A 60-year-old woman was stabbed in her chest and eye, and an 85-year-old woman was stabbed multiple times. A 22-year-old woman was punched in her face.

"It was like a horror movie," said Digna Marte, 38, who lives on the floor. "Mr. Collazo had blood all over his face. [Falero] lost his mind."

The nude man fled the scene, covered in blood, clutching the knife and spouting doomsday gibberish.

"I saw him walking down the street naked, covered in blood," said Wayne Knight, 51. "He was just saying stuff that didn't make sense, talking about how the world was going to end."

As cops collared him about two blocks away, Falero begged the officers to put him out of his misery, witnesses said. more

Thug Chokes And Robs Elderly Men

Thug Chokes And Robs Elderly Men: MyFoxNY.com



The NYPD is looking for a violent robber who is targeting elderly men as they enter the subway system or elevators in Manhattan.

In the first incident, which happened Aug. 13, the sicko came up on an elderly man from behind as he entered the N train subway entrance at Broadway and W. 28th St. It happened at about 7:30 a.m. He choked the victim from behind and grabbed the man's wallet out of his pants before running away.

The victim suffered a stroke in the attack.

The next Tuesday, at approximately 3:45 p.m. at the Urban Living store at 1178 Broadway, the thug followed an elderly male into an elevator and choked him from behind. He stole the man's money and phone before running away. The victim was not hurt in that attack. more

Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website and at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577.

Cristian Alfredo Urquijo: Jobless Arizona bank robber says he "stole to survive"

A jobless man accused of robbing a dozen banks across the Phoenix valley told investigators he did it to survive and that "desperation was a great motivator," authorities said on Tuesday.

Police arrested Cristian Alfredo Urquijo, 39, in July. He was charged with robbing 12 banks in the metro Phoenix area from September 2010 through July, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona said in a news release.

The criminal complaint released on Tuesday noted that Urquijo told arresting officers he had been laid off from work, was unable to find a job, and robbed the Phoenix area banks to survive.

"It's pretty simple. It's black and white. I don't have a job, I had to work, and I rob to survive," he said, adding "desperation is a great motivator." more

Henry Stefanowich Charged With Stealing Swimming Pool For Scrap Metal

When a Greenfield family reported that their 24-foot diameter, above ground swimming pool had been stolen, police knew exactly where to look for it.

The Recorder reports that officers went to a scrap metal company where workers said some men had come in to sell a metal frame pool that matched the description of the one reported stolen.

Police arrested 49-year-old Henry Stefanowich of Chicopee and charged him with larceny and trespassing.

He pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was released on $500 bail. more

2 intruders found sleeping in funeral home caskets in Tennessee

Police in Tennessee were called to a funeral home where workers found two intruders sleeping inside caskets.

The employees at Weaver's Funeral Home in Bristol called police around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday after finding two men asleep in caskets. The men fled through a window after police were alerted, the Bristol Herald Courier reports.

One man escaped, but police caught and arrested Barrett Lance Hartsock, who was charged with burglary and vandalism over $1,000.

Police said there was more than $9,000 in damage done to the caskets the two men were sleeping in. more

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu increases his stake in NY Times as foreign ownership of America grows

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu has increased his stake in the New York Times Company just weeks after the US newspaper group repaid the emergency $250m loan it took from Mr Slim in 2009.

Mr Slim upped his stake from 6.9 per cent to 7.3 per cent through the purchase of 553,000 class A shares, according to a regulatory filing. The new holdings, acquired on August 18 for between $6.83 and $7.09 per share, were purchased by Mr Slim’s Inmobiliaria Carso SA investment fund and came at the end of a volatile week on the stock market.

Mr Slim’s group also increased his stake in Saks, the luxury retailer, from 15.7 per cent to 16 per cent on the same day.

“We are buying because we feel that the shares are at a very good price, and we are increasing our holdings in the two companies,” said Arturo Elias Ayub, Mr Slim’s son-in-law and head of strategic alliances at Telmex, Mr Slim’s fixed-line phone company.

Shares in the New York Times are down 29 per cent from six months ago as the group struggles to balance declining print advertising and circulation with new digital revenues, while shares in Saks are down 26 per cent over the same time. more

Camden Pays Students $100 Each to Not Skip School: US

The city of Camden will be paying almost 70 high school students $100 each to go to school in the first three weeks of the year.

Funded by a grant that must be used by Sept. 30, the city is trying to fight truancy with a new program called I Can End Truancy (ICE-T), reports the Inquirer.

To receive the promised $100, each of the 66 targeted students must attend classes as well as conflict-resolution and anger-management workshops until Sept. 30.

Not everyone was happy about the pay-off program at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, according to the Inquirer. Board member Sean Brown voiced his anger that he just learned of the truancy program.

Former board member Jose Delgado said that it was “outrageous” and it sends the wrong message to kids, reports the Inquirer. more

4-Inch Crack Found in Washington Monument from Virginia Quake

Cracking was found in the stones at the top of the Washington Monument Tuesday evening, the National Park Service reported.

The crack was located in one of the triangular faces at the top of the monument. It runs at an angle, and measures approximately 4 inches.

The cracking in the Monument was discovered during a secondary inspection, conducted by a helicopter crew on Tuesday. Engineers on Wednesday morning were working to determine the severity of the damage.

""An outside engineering team will take whatever amount of time they need," NPS spokesperson Bill Line said, "they are going to do a structural analysis of the crack."

Although the grounds near the Monument reopened on Tuesday, the interior is closed to visitor until further notice. Authorities put up a fence creating a 150-foot perimeter at the Monument's base. more

Libya's deadliest weapons not yet corralled -- and no one knows who controls them

No one can be sure who controls the Libyan government's weapons stockpiles, a stew of deadly chemicals, raw nuclear material and some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that officials fear could fall into terrorists' hands in the chaos of Moammar Gadhafi's downfall or afterward.

One immediate worry, U.S. intelligence and military officials say, is that Gadhafi might use the weapons to make a last stand. But officials also face the troubling prospect that the material, which was left under Gadhafi's control by a U.S.-backed disarmament pact, could be obtained by al-Qaida or other militants even after a rebel victory is secured.

The main stockpile of mustard gas and other chemicals, stored in corroding drums, is at a site southeast of Tripoli. Mustard gas can cause severe blistering and death. A cache of hundreds of tons of raw uranium yellowcake is stored at a small nuclear facility east of the capital.

Weapons demolition teams hired by the State Department have located and destroyed some of the anti-aircraft rocket systems in rebel-held parts of the country. more

U.S. East Coast May Be At Risk of Aftershocks

The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that surprised the U.S. East Coast with the biggest shake since 1988 may be followed by aftershocks for weeks, scientists said.

A 4.2-magnitude followup struck about six hours after the main temblor yesterday. While serious damage from the aftershocks is unlikely, “you could get a pretty good jolt,” Jack Boatwright, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist in Menlo Park, California, said in a telephone interview.

The earthquake was the biggest in the East since a 5.9- magnitude tremor in Saguenay, Quebec, 22 years ago. It struck about 90 miles (144 kilometers) southwest of Washington. It prompted evacuation of landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial and halted traffic in New York’s Holland Tunnel.

The quake struck at 1:51 p.m., near Mineral, Virginia, the survey said on its website. The shock was felt as far west as Columbus, Ohio, and as far north as Toronto. It was the strongest to hit the Virginia area since 1897, according to USGS data. more

Mayor Bloomberg pushes for traffic light cameras 'on every corner'

Mayor Bloomberg wants to blanket the city with red light cameras - and maybe even publish the names of scofflaws who blow through intersections.

"I think we should have 'em on every corner if we could," the mayor said of the controversial cameras that trigger tickets to drivers caught running red lights.

"If people didn't go through red lights, you'd save a lot of lives of elderly and kids," Hizzoner told reporters Monday during a press conference.

Bloomberg was responding to a Daily News report on the $52 million in fines the city issued last year to drivers caught by cameras - really a $55 million haul with penalties included. more

Virginia Earthquake: Nuclear Wake-Up Call for U.S. (Nuclear Plants not Prepared) - Michio Kaku

UK household finances are 'worse than during height of recession'

Household budgets are deteriorating at a faster rate than during the height of the recession in early 2009, according to an analysis of consumers' finances.

Almost 40pc of households saw their finances deteriorate between July and August, compared to just under 6pc that reported an improvement as Britons were hit by rising prices and a squeeze on take-home pay.

The latest Markit household finance index also found consumers suffered the fastest fall in their available cash since the monthly survey began in February 2009.

Income from employment fell for the eleventh month running – August saw the steepest decline in take-home pay for nine months – while spending power continued to be squeezed by rising prices.

Markit said these factors contributed to the sharpest reduction in savings since March 2009. Debt levels increased for the fifth consecutive month, and at the fastest pace since November 2010.

The gloomy outlook applied to all income groups, age ranges and regions monitored by the survey, but consumers in the north of England are suffering more than those in the south, the financial information company found. more

Jan Cline's yard sale to pay medical bills for her terminal bone cancer is shut down by police: "She's breaking the law"

US streets full of formerly middle class homeless people

China must punish US for Taiwan arm sales with 'financial weapon' (From a Chinese Media Outlet)

Now is the time for China to use its "financial weapon" to teach the United States a lesson if it moves forward with a plan to sale arms to Taiwan. In fact, China has never wanted to use its holdings of US debt as a weapon. It is the United States that is forcing it to do so.

The US House of Representatives just passed a debt ceiling bill on Aug. 1. On the next day, a total of 181 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter sent to US President Barack Obama stating that the federal government should approve the sale of F-16 C/D fighter jets to Taiwan as soon as possible to help ensure peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The US Senate passed the debt ceiling bill on Aug. 2, and Obama signed it into law. Shortly thereafter, the US Treasury obtained the authorization to issue 400 billion US dollars in new debt. Will China become the largest buyer of US debt again?

Despite knowing that major creditor countries, especially China, would be the main buyers of its new debt, certain arrogant and disrespectful US Congress members have totally ignored China's core interests by pressuring the president to sell advanced jets and even an arms upgrade package to Taiwan.

US treasuries will lose value if China stops or reduces its purchases of them on a large scale, which will also affect the value of China's US treasury holdings. However, as the situation has gotten out of hand, allowing Washington politicians to continue their game might lead to more losses. more

Libya's Nightmare Scenarios



Libyans have taken to the streets to celebrate the impending end of Moammar Gadhafi’s forty-two year rule. These celebrations are as understandable as they are premature. The tyrant is leaving, but who or what replaces him remains to be decided.

Washington knows what it wants next in Libya: a stable, preferably democratic government that exercises effective control over all its territory. A politically and economically successful Libya could be a model for the rest of the Arab world.

But success in Libya is not guaranteed. The Libyan rebels agreed that Gadhafi had to go. They don’t necessarily agree on who or what should replace him.

Gadhafi undermined every institution that might threaten his rule, which means that the rebels will be building Libya’s new political system from scratch. Tribal, regional and class divisions could easily derail these efforts.

The nightmare outcome is a Libya that collapses into anarchy. It would become a breeding ground for criminals and terrorists. Al Qaeda and its affiliates gravitate to countries that have weak, ineffective governments. more

New-home sales fall, 2011 could be worst year yet: US

The number of people who bought new homes fell for the third straight month in July, putting sales on track to finish this year as the worst on records dating back half a century.

Sales of new homes fell nearly 1 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 298,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That's less than half the 700,000 that economists say represent a healthy market.

Housing remains the weakest part of the economy. Last year was the worst for new-home sales on records that go back nearly 50 years.

While new homes represent less than one-fifth of the housing market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs and $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Analysts said the report was further proof that the housing market is stuck in the doldrums.

"How much longer can we flat-line on housing?" said M. Cary Leahey, senior economist at Decision Economics. more

Hurricane Irene filmed from space by NASA: She's a *huge* storm!



Hurricane Irene remains on course to batter the east coast of the United States this weekend, as extraordinary images from space revealed the scale of the powerful storm.

Irene strengthened to a Category Three storm, with winds of 120mph (195km) as it continued to wreak havoc across the Caribbean and edged towards the US mainland.

Live television pictures from the International Space Station, orbiting the earth 200 miles up, showed the sheer size of Irene's cyclonic cloud.

Irene could be upgraded to a Category Four - classified as having winds of up to 155mph - within 24 hours.

The first hurricane of this year's storm season is expected to gather power as it races across the warm waters of the Caribbean in the next 48 hours. more

Fears Over Libya's Missiles And Mustard Gas Falling into the Wrong Hands - 24th Aug 2011

Among the most pressing concerns about a post-Gaddafi Libya is the risk of the country's many loose weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Television pictures of rebels swarming out of Gaddafi's Tripoli bunkers heaving with newly-acquired weaponry have not reassured nervous security officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Weapons proliferation has been a matter of concern for many months for us and the TNC (Transitional National Council)," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington.

Most worrying is the amount of surface-to-air missile (SAMs) launchers washing around Libya.

In April, US Africa Command commander General Carter Ham told America's Congress as many as 20,000 SAMs were in the country when the operation began.

"Many of those, we know, are now not accounted for. Each one is capable of bringing down a civilian airliner," he said. Read More

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE - 24th August 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the Dodecanese Islands, Greece at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 19:15:44 UTC Wednesday 24th August 2011.
The epicenter was 44 km ( 27.3 miles) Southwest Emborion, Greece
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN PERU - 24th August 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Northern Peru at a depth of 128.5 km (79.8 miles), the quake hit at 18:16:51 UTC Wednesday 24th August 2011.
The epicenter was 79 km ( 49 miles) NNE of Pucallpa, Peru
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.. More to follow

Firms tied to mayor of Hokkaido town profited from local nuclear research center - 24th Aug 2011

Two companies connected to the mayor here have been making some 40 million yen per year from a local nuclear research facility, it has been learned, sparking speculation that the facility holds undue influence over the leader of this northern town.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)'s Horonobe Underground Research Center began renting two apartment complexes for its workers in fiscal 2001 from the firm Horonobe Shoji, where Mayor Akira Miyamoto's son serves as president and the mayor himself is a board member. The research center has furthermore contracted local security firm Hokusei, run by three of the mayor's family and where Miyamoto also served on the board of directors until just after he was elected mayor in 2002, to do security at the facility. Read More



7.0 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN PERU - 24th August 2011

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake has struck Northern Peru at a depth of 145.1 km (90.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:46:11 UTC Wednesday 24th August 2011.
The epicenter was 82 km ( 51 miles) North of Pucallpa, Peru
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.. More to follow

NOTE : This earthquake was first registered as a 6.8 Magnitude it has since been confirmed and upgraded to a 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake

UPDATE: The earthquake struck a remote Amazon region of Peru, however the Quake was felt as far away as the Capital. There were local reports of office buildings shaking in the Capital but no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

USGS earthquake cover-up in Mineral Virginia and Washington DC?



The Coming Crisis has for a while now been saying that the USGS is not only censoring quakes completely (by making them disappear), but also downgrading them for reasons unknown. While this video is just a ruse (although it definitely comes off as real, doesn't it?) it illustrates how a) people are beginning to pick up on the inconsistent information being put out by governmental scientific bodies such as USGS, and b) we must always question what we see, no matter how real it appears.

Obama’s nuclear bomb shelter on wheels

In case you haven’t heard Barack Obama is now traveling around in the United States in a totally blacked out tour bus. The news media is now joking about Obama being Darth Vader. Why did the Secret Service order these buses? They are the newest protection vehicles for the president. They were designed as a nuclear bomb shelter on wheels. The only effective protection against a nuclear blast is a lead lined suit or a bomb shelter lined with lead. In the event of a nuclear explosion, humans are immediately exposed to four threats: Light, Heat, Blast and Radiation. This armored bus is lined with lead and the windows lead reinforced and blackened out with the latest UV protective coating to protect the president from the intense light, heat, blast and radiation of a nuclear explosion.

On the ground is the safest place to be in a nuclear attack. Air Force One and Marine One are both venerable in a nuclear attack. The aircrafts could suffer enough damage to cause either to crash with Obama in it. If Obama was riding in his Darth Vader mobile when a nuclear attack occurred the bus would provide enough protection for the president until he is rescued.

So a question must be asked. Why now? Is there an imminent nuclear attack against the United States? The U.S. intelligence service were warned before the September 11, 2001 attacks. George W Bush made sure he wasn’t in Washington DC that morning and Dick Cheney was in a bunker before the hijackings began. Congress were advised not to travel by air on that day. more

Israeli airstrike kills militant leader Ismael al-Ismar in Gaza

An Israeli military airstrike killed a local commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza despite a ceasefire announced late Sunday.

Israel's military said in a statement that the man who was killed had smuggled weapons into the Gaza town of Rafah, and was involved in militant activity in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, near Israel's southern border, where gunmen entered Israel and killed eight last week.

No further information was provided by the military.

However, BBC reports that the Israeli missile hit the car of Ismael al-Ismar, a leader of al-Quds Brigades in Rafah, close to the Egyptian border.

Palestinian medics also said the militant died when his car exploded. Two other people were also reportedly wounded.

Shortly after the attack on the commander's car, militants fired mortars from northern Gaza into southern Israel. However, no injuries were reported. more

France's rich ask to be taxed more (Isn't this getting a little strange after Buffet asked for the same?)

Some of the wealthiest people in France have taken a page from Warren Buffett's playbook and asked the French government to tax them more.

Sixteen executives from some of France's largest companies including L'Oreal, Total, Societe Generale, Air France, Danone, Areva, Peugeot and Citroen put their names to a petition, published in Paris-based magazine Le Nouvelle Observateur, calling for the government to implement a one-time "exceptional contribution" by the country's super wealthy.

"We are aware that we have clearly benefited from a French and European environment we are fond of, and one we would like to preserve," the petition reads.

The group says they would be willing to pay a one-time tax, calculated on what they call "reasonable proportions," to help do their part to pull France out of its economic doldrums.

France retains its pristine AAA debt rating from agencies Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's. But with the government's public debt now at 81 per cent of the country's GDP, French officials are scrambling to maintain it amid waning growth. more

Virginia earthquake's tremors felt far and wide -- even all the way into Canada: What's going on?

An unusually strong earthquake sent shock waves far beyond its Virginia epicentre on Tuesday, rattling residents all over the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Canada.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 5.8. It was centred near Mineral, Va., about 135 kilometres southwest of Washington, D.C. After several revisions, the U.S.G.S. placed the quake's depth at six kilometres.

There were no reports of serious injuries or deaths but a fire department spokesman in Washington said there were reports of minor injuries.

Some damage was reported to buildings in the U.S. capital. A spokesman for Washington's National Cathedral says at least three of the four stone pinnacles on the central tower had fallen off and the central tower looked like it was leaning.

Several airports in New York, Philadelphia and the Washington area briefly suspended flights. more

85% of drivers have never used transit: Canada

The vast majority of Canadians who drive every day have never attempted any other way of getting to work, according to a new survey published Wednesday on the typical commute last year.

The survey by Statistics Canada found that 82 per cent of Canadian workers drive to work, 12 per cent take some sort of public transit, while six per cent walk or bike to work.

Of the 10.6 million workers who commuted by car, 15 per cent, or 1.6 million, had tried using public transit to get to work. But nine million had never tried any other way of getting to work.

A vast majority of drivers said their main reason for not trying anything else was because it would be inconvenient. more

Burning California rail car full of liquid propane at risk of exploding

The rail car filled with liquid propane that has been burning since Tuesday in northern California is now at a greater risk of exploding, officials and emergency crews reported according to radio station KCRA.

The 110-litre tank is at the Northern Propane Energy yard in Lincoln, a city of 40,000 people. All buildings in a 1.6-kilometre radius were evacuated Wednesday morning, California Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant told KRCA radio.

Firefighters are trying to keep the temperature of the tank down by setting up hoses to drench it. The process is necessary as attempting to directly extinguish flames shooting into the air from a vent could create a propane gas cloud that would ignite into a fireball, Berlant said.

"Our fear is that not only does that rail car tank explode, but so do the tanks around it and with about a half million gallons of propane in that field," he told KXTV-TV. source

Korea stakes claim in post-Ghadafi Libya: Corporate vultures begin to circle

As the regime of Moammar Gadhafi crumbled, the value of South Korean construction firms rose.

When rebel forces swarmed into the dwindling Tripoli strongholds of Moammar Gadhafi Tuesday, investors in distant Seoul pushed the stock value of companies like Daewoo Engineering & Construction and Hyundai Engineering & Construction up nearly 10%, betting that the new rebel regime will mean lucrative reconstruction contracts.

"Libya is to Korean construction companies as China is to German machinery manufacturers," said Ben Simpfendorfer, managing director of Silk Road Associates, an economic and political consultancy.

"China doesn't drive the German economy, but when China manufacturing is up, German machine manufacturers are selling more products to China," Simpfendorfer said. "Much of the Korean construction companies have been involved in Libya and the Middle East in a big way for the past decade." more

U.S. braces for 'huge' Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene intensified into a Category 3 storm Wednesday, threatening much of the United States' East Coast in the coming days.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, and is expected to strengthen further "in the next day or so," the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday morning.

"This is a huge storm," said CNN Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. "The cloud field is more than 800 miles across. The tropical storm force winds extend out 200 miles from the center."

The strengthening, which officially made Irene a major hurricane, came as the storm continued to pound the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

In Nassau, many people had evacuated by Wednesday morning. Shopkeepers were boarding up their storefronts, and residents prepared to hunker down for the storm's arrival. more

More ethnic clashes in South Sudan

Moody's downgrades Japan's debt rating... again

Moody's has cut Japan's credit rating by one notch citing concerns about the government's ability to reduce its mountain of debt and implement long-term fiscal sustainability measures.

Moody's now holds rating for Japan at Aa3, on a par with rival agency Standard & Poor's, which rates the world's third-largest economy at AA-, the same level as China.

Later this month, Japan will face yet another change in the country's political leadership, the frequency of which Moody's cited as a key factor obstructing the implementation of necessary fiscal measures to bring down its debt.

Naoto Kan, the incumbent, is expected to stand down as soon as this Friday as leader of the ruling Democratic party and prime minister to make way for the country's sixth prime minister in as many years. more

Satellite project: Images show more mass graves in Sudan

A U.S. satellite project said Wednesday it has found evidence of additional mass graves in South Kordofan, a day after the Sudanese president called for a unilateral cease-fire in the state.

The Satellite Sentinel Project said it has evidence of a total of eight mass graves in the area since June, including two additional ones recently in and around Kadugli.

Kadugli is the capital of the border state.

The project cited witness accounts and images of what it says are body bags.

"This report presents more visual evidence and new information by eyewitnesses ... of the collection and burial of human remains wrapped in tarps and/or body bags by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society," it said in a statement. more

Waves of Disinformation and Confusion Swamp the Truth in Libya

Truth was first a casualty in Libya well before this war began, and the war has not improved matters at all, on any side.

Libya has long been a republic of lies or, in the words of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, “the only democracy in the world.” Colonel Qaddafi was the absolute dictator who claimed years ago to have stepped down from all public posts. He said he was more of a sage, or guide, to Libya’s six million citizens.

In Libya, as with authoritarian governments generally, leaders are accustomed to dictating how people should think; no matter how outrageous the lie or how obviously bizarre (as was often the case in Libya), it is often received as reality by a public numbed by isolation and oppression. So it may not be surprising that the rebels now challenging Colonel Qaddafi sometimes sound like him, because he is the only leader they ever knew. Many of the rebels’ leaders were in Colonel Qaddafi’s top echelons, helping defend and promote his vision, and version, of reality.

A case in point was the rebels’ claim on Sunday that they had arrested Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the leader’s son who is often talked of as the heir apparent. The claim was issued with such authority, even setting off a debate among rebels over what to do with the younger Mr. Qaddafi, that the International Criminal Court said he should be transported to The Hague.

By the wee hours of Tuesday morning, however, Mr. Qaddafi was squiring journalists around neighborhoods filled with Qaddafi sympathizers, saying the rebels who had rolled into the city had fallen into a trap. more

Airstrikes More Difficult as War Moves to Tripoli: "Change in tactics is needed" -- Hmm, ground troops perhaps?

The NATO air campaign that was instrumental in helping the rebels advance into Tripoli is hamstrung in many ways now that the fighting has turned into complex house-to-house urban warfare, American military and allied officials said Tuesday.

For legal and practical reasons, as well as to avoid the perception of bombing indiscriminately inside Tripoli, the Libyan capital, allied warplanes will continue to prowl for targets, but mostly on the outskirts of the city where government troops might be trying to escape or reinforce Tripoli — and where the risk of civilian casualties is much lower, allied officials said.

A NATO spokesman, Col. Roland Lavoie, said at a news conference in Naples, Italy, on Tuesday that “there are still weapons out there and there are still targets that we could hit if we have any signs that they could represent a threat to the civilian population.”

But he and other NATO officials acknowledged that the urban environment in Tripoli, a city of about two million people, was “far more complex” for airstrikes than past targets have been.

Until now, the vast majority of targets attacked in Tripoli have been sites suspected of being military command headquarters or weapons-storage buildings that NATO monitored closely for days or weeks with surveillance aircraft, including Predator drones, to ensure that no civilians were living or working there.

Allied targeting experts and fighter pilots do not have that option with the rapidly shifting battle lines in block-by-block combat carried on by fighters on both sides dressed in civilian clothing.

“It could be difficult, because the use of air power, to a large degree, is negated when you get into this kind of urban warfare,” Senator John McCain said Tuesday on “The Early Show” on CBS. “It’s hard to identify targets and hard to be effective. But I don’t think there’s any doubt of the eventual outcome.” more

How credible are Libya's rebel leaders?

Libya's rebel leaders claimed Monday they had captured three of Moammar Gadhafi's sons, including Saif al-Islam, who is wanted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court. But shortly afterwards, Saif appeared in public in Tripoli, where he spoke to reporters -- raising serious questions about the reliability of the rebels' account of events.

A day later it remains unclear whether Saif al-Islam was ever in rebel hands, while another Gadhafi son, Mohammed, reportedly escaped from rebel custody. It is also uncertain whether Saadi, the third son the rebels claimed to have captured, was in their custody either.

So how much does this dent the credibility of rebels? And can the Libyan people and the international community put their faith in the Transitional National Council (TNC) to lead the nation if the Gadhafi regime falls?

Observers say the reported arrest -- and prompt reappearance -- of Saif al-Islam are at the least an embarrassing distraction for the rebels as they seek to take control of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. more

China has been forced to dig deep to meet its energy needs

It is hard to think of more awkward country in which to drill for gas than the craggy, creviced hillsides that rise up from the banks of China's turbid Yellow River in the northern province of Shanxi, the heart of China's northern coal belt.

So steep are the sides of the valleys that local people are forced to tunnel their houses into the crumbly orange rock, sealing up the arch-shaped voids with neatly fitting windows and doors. Outside, crops grow on narrow terraces that skirt sheer-sided ridges and ravines.

But modern China's thirst for hydrocarbons is not to be deterred by mere geography, and pressure is increasing to develop additional homegrown gas reserves to help meet a newly urbanising country's insatiable demand for energy.

Among the energy targets in China's 12th Five Year Plan, released this year, is a scheme to significantly boost production of coalbed methane (CBM) which is found not in pockets, like natural gas, but actually absorbed into the coal at a molecular level.

Fortune Oil, a China-focused oil and gas explorer listed in London, is among a small clutch of foreign companies hoping to profit from a coming expansion in CBM production, which is being backed at central government level.

Although final targets have yet to be publicly confirmed, industry analysts say China aims to increase CBM production tenfold to 10bn cubic metres a year by 2015, a target that some describe as "very aggressive". more

Bank deposits fall in Pakistan

Recent days have witnessed heavy withdrawals from banks, as consumer spending rises before Eid-ul-Fitr.

On August 19, the State Bank of Pakistan injected Rs183 billion into the banking system through open market operations, as banks were short of liquidity.

On August 17, the SBP had conducted auction of PIBs and accepted bids worth Rs41.2 billion, with a realised amount of Rs38.3 billion. It had received bids worth Rs67.2 billion.

According to the weekly statement of position of all scheduled banks for the week ending August 5, deposits and other accounts of the scheduled banks decreased in the current week and stood at Rs5339.6 billion, lower by Rs4.5 billion over preceding week’s figure of Rs5344.1 billion. Compared with last year’s corresponding figure of Rs4619.2 billion, the current week’s figure is larger by Rs720.4 billion. During the current week, commercial banks deposits showed a fall of Rs4.5 billion over the week to Rs5325.0 billion, against preceding week’s Rs5329.5 billion. Specialised banks deposits stood at Rs14.5 billion.

Borrowings by all scheduled banks decreased in the week. It fell to Rs511.4 billion over preceding week’s figure of Rs570.8 billion, or by Rs59.4 billion. Compared to last year’s corresponding figure of Rs480.1 billion, current week’s figure is higher by Rs31.3 billion. more

4000 mile Radioactive Road Trip: Cool Rain in the Florida Keys

178 times Background Radiation in Saint Louis Rain: Fukushima?

Architects & Engineers - Solving the Mystery of WTC 7

Media Blackout as Fukushima (Possibly Full) Meltdown Accelerates

Fukushima disaster: residents may never return to radiation-hit homes

Residents who lived close to the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant are to be told their homes may be uninhabitable for decades, according to Japanese media reports.

The Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan, is expected to visit the area at the weekend to tell evacuees they will not be able to return to their homes, even if the operation to stabilise the plant's stricken reactors by January is successful.

Kan's announcement will be the first time officials have publicly recognised that radiation damage to areas near the plant could make them too dangerous to live in for at least a generation, effectively meaning that some residents will never return to them.

A Japanese government source is quoted in local media as saying the area could be off-limits for "several decades". New data has revealed unsafe levels of radiation outside the 12-mile exclusion zone, increasing the likeliness that entire towns will remain unfit for habitation. more

Merkel pressured, collateral row rages on in a dying Europe

Germany's Angela Merkel faced mounting domestic criticism of her euro zone policies on Monday, with the Bundesbank slamming an anti-crisis package she agreed to in Brussels last month and a senior ally warning he would vote against key parts of it.

Elsewhere in the currency bloc, a week-long row over Finnish demands that Greece cough up collateral as a condition for new bailout loans raged on, with the Netherlands condemning a bilateral deal between Helsinki and Athens as illegal.

Rating agency Moody's warned that the dispute could end up delaying approval of a new aid package for Greece, driving it into default.

Despite public reassurances from Merkel over the weekend that she would not bow to pressure from European partners and financial markets to agree to joint euro zone bonds, there were signs of growing unease at her policy course from within her conservative camp. more

"What Is Happening in Syria Is an Armed Insurrection Supported Secretly by Foreign Powers Headed by U.S." (Sounds like Libya, doesn't it?)

Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization‏ Michel Chossudovsky said that what is happening in Syria is an armed insurrection supported secretly by foreign forces including the United States.

In an article published on the Centre's website, Chossudovsky said that armed insurgents belonging to Islamist organizations have crossed the border into Syria and that the US State Department has confirmed that it is supporting them.

He pointed out that the U.S is expanding its contact with Syrian opposition figures who are counting on a regime change in the country, noting that U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland stated that her country "started to expand contacts with the Syrians, those who are calling for change, both inside and outside the country."

Chossudovsky said that the destabilization of Syria and Lebanon as sovereign countries has been on the agenda of the military alliance between the U.S., the NATO and Israel for at least ten years, noting that former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark said that the action against Syria is part of a military roadmap and that the Pentagon had clearly identified Iraq, Libya, Syria and Lebanon as targets of an intervention by the U.S. and NATO. more

Fears for thousands of California homes as 30,000-gallon fuel carriage catches fire at railway depot in suburbs - 24th Aug 2011

Thousands of northern California homes are at risk as firefighters battle to stop a burning rail car loaded with nearly 30,000 gallons of liquid propane from exploding.

The fuel tanker caught fire yesterday at about midday at a Northern Propane Energy yard in Lincoln, a city of 40,000 north of Sacramento.

About 4,800 homes have been emptied around a one mile radius of the fire, and the American Red Cross has set up evacuation centres for fleeing residents.

Firefighters have set up four fixed hoses to soak the tanker to in an attempt to keep its temperature down and prevent an explosion as the propane burns off.

At the moment the gas is burning off as it exits the 29,000-gallon tanker through a vent. Any attempt to extinguish the flames directly runs the risk of creating a gas cloud that could ignite into a massive fireball, fire officials warned.

Highways have been shut, businesses closed and the area's schools will miss the first day of term because of the continuing danger, said the Lincoln Fire Department.

The Placer County Sheriff's Department activated reverse 911 calls to residents to evacuate the area under threat, KXTV-TV reported.

Officials told Lincoln resident Roza Calderon that it could be anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks before she could return home.

'They said they would let us know tomorrow,' the 26-year-old accountant said late last night. 'In the meantime I think we're just going to be staying in a hotel.' Read More

Email Error reveals state-owned RBS is paying agency staff £2,000 a DAY - 24th Aug 2011

An email sent in error by a bungling office worker has revealed that RBS is paying contract banking staff £2,000 a day.

The document heaps fresh humiliation on the bank, which was given a £20billion handout in October, 2008 and is now 84 per cent owned by the taxpayer.

The document was circulated by accident to temporary workers at state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland revealed some eye-watering sums, including the bankers’ pay which is the equivalent of around £500,000 a year.

The email was supposed to remind managers to complete timesheets before the bank holiday weekend, but also contained the day-rate paid to 3,000 different contractors and was circulated to 800 temporary RBS workers. Read More

Johnny Melfah, 16, lost right to anonymity after attempting to incite riot on Facebook warned he faces jail - 24th Aug 2011

A 16-year-old boy who tried to incite a riot on Facebook has been told he faces jail after his anonymity was taken away by a judge.

Johnny Melfah posted messages on a group online called 'Letz start a riot'.

After a judge lifted his right to keep his identity secret yesterday he admitted the offences today - and was warned he would face jail.

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, were last week jailed for four years after creating Facebook pages that urged rioting in their home towns.

Melfah, from Droitwich, Worcestershire, is thought to be the first child in the country charged in connection with rioting to be publicly identified even though he had not entered a plea.

Today he pleaded guilty to intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of widespread thefts and criminal damage, in a 20 minute hearing at Worcester Youth Court. Read More

Hurricane Irene Raised to Category 3: East coast braces for Hurricane Irene as isolated island is evacuated and storm strength upgraded - 24th Aug

The U.S. east coast is bracing itself for a first major hurricane in seven years.

Evacuations began on a tiny barrier island off North Carolina as Hurricane Irene strengthened to a major Category 3 storm over the Bahamas today with the east coast in its sights.

Irene's maximum sustained winds have already increased to near 115mph and it’s likely to grow into a Category 4 monster by the time it hits mainland U.S. this weekend and crawls up the northeast.

The evacuation in North Carolina was a test of whether people in the crosshairs of the first major hurricane along the east coast in years would heed orders to get out of the way.

The first ferry to leave Ocracoke Island arrived at 5:30am in nearby Hatteras with around a dozen cars on board – but it won’t be easy to get thousands of people off as they can only leave by boat. Read More


Israeli woman 26 escapes Thomas Fischers DIY torture chamber in Germany - 24th Aug 2011

A man described as a ‘cold sadist’ imprisoned a woman in his home-made torture chamber rigged with eight bombs designed to detonate when he had finished with her.

Thomas Fischer, 30, turned his tiny flat into a terrifying lair in which he had installed an old soundproofed telephone box to lock up his victim.

He used an assortment of scalpels, needles and syringes to practise with on a mannequin before snatching the woman off a street in Hamburg.

But while it appeared he had been planning to imprison her for a number of months, she was only in his clutches for two hours – after he forgot to lock the door to the ‘cell’.

The 26-year-old victim, who was handcuffed, managed to flee by lunging through a window of the ground-floor flat.

Fischer tore into the street after her but she outran him and fled to the safety of a friend’s home.

She brought police to the apartment, where Fischer had returned. He has not said a word since he was arrested.

Police searching the flat were said to be left speechless by the macabre set-up. Read More