Friday, August 26, 2011

Massachusetts State Police Shutdown Twelve-Year-Old’s Green Tea Stand

So what? The BBC uses random Indian footage and we can't? Sheesh!

Well it’s not exactly lemonade but it’ll do. Christopher Carr’s twelve-year-old stepson had set up a smoothie and green-tea stand near their house when they moved back to the States after the earthquake in Japan. After they’d set up shop, Christopher took his daughter back inside to get some lunch, leaving his son to manage things at the stand.

"After my daughter finished eating and as we approached the end of our street where the drink stand was, I could see from afar that the sign was pulled up and put away, the cooler was shut with everything which we had so carefully arranged on the tray table put away, and my stepson was huddled up and sitting on the rail, staring out between his knees at the ocean.

“What happened?” I asked when I got down there. I wondered if he had gotten discouraged that no one was buying his drinks or maybe that no one could understand his accent. Or maybe he was just lonely down there by himself. more

China expanding its nuclear stockpile

China is expanding its nuclear forces with a new multiwarhead mobile missile and keeps its strategic stockpiles in deep underground bunkers, the Pentagon disclosed in its annual report to Congress on the Chinese military.

China is thought to have up to 75 long-range nuclear missiles, including hard-to-find, road-mobile DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), according to the report, which was released Wednesday. China also has 120 intermediate- and medium-range missiles.

“China is both qualitatively and quantitatively improving its strategic missile forces,” the report states. “Beijing will likely continue to invest considerable resources to maintain a limited nuclear force … to ensure the [People’s Liberation Army] can deliver a damaging retaliatory nuclear strike.”

The report states for the first time that China appears to be developing a third road-mobile ICBM, possibly capable of carrying a multiple, independently targetable re-entry vehicle. more

Economic Growth Slows to Crawl, GDP Increase at 1%: US

The U.S. economy grew much slower than previously thought in the second quarter as business inventories and exports were less robust, a government report showed on Friday, although consumer spending was revised up.

Gross domestic product growth rose at annual rate of 1.0 percent the Commerce Department said, a downward revision of its prior estimate of 1.3 percent. It also said after-tax corporate profits rose at the fastest pace in a year.

Economists had expected output growth to be revised down to 1.1 percent. In the first quarter, the economy advanced just 0.4 percent. The government's second GDP estimate for the quarter confirmed growth almost stalled in the first six months of this year.

The United States is on a recession watch after a massive sell-off in the stock market knocked down consumer and business sentiment. The plunge in share prices followed Standard & Poor's decision to strip the nation of its top notch AAA credit rating and a spreading sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

While sentiment has deteriorated, data such as industrial production, retail sales and employment suggest the economy could avoid an outright contraction. more

Bernanke proposes no new steps to boost economy, begins building ark and gathering two of every animal

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled Friday that Congress must do more to promote growth, or risk delaying the economy's return to full health.

Bernanke proposed no new steps by the Fed to boost the economy. But at a time when Congress has been focused on shrinking long-run budget deficits, he warned lawmakers not to "disregard the fragility of the current economic recovery."

Bernanke, who spoke at an annual economic conference in Jackson Hole, said that record-low interest rates will promote growth over time.

His speech follows news that the economy grew at an annual rate of just 1 percent this spring and 0.7 percent for the first six months of the year. Only slightly healthier expansion is foreseen for the second half.

Bernanke said he's optimistic that the job market and the economy will return to full health in the long run.

Stocks fell after the speech was released but then recovered. The Dow rose slightly in midmorning trading.

Bernanke left open the possibility that the Fed will take further steps to strengthen the economy. He said its September meeting will be held over two days instead of just one to allow for a "fuller discussion" and that the Fed "is prepared to employ its tools as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery." more

C.I.A. Demands Cuts in Book About 9/11 and Terror Fight

In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former F.B.I. agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda.

The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the C.I.A. missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the F.B.I. information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript. And he gives a detailed, firsthand account of the C.I.A.’s move toward brutal treatment in its interrogations, saying the harsh methods used on the agency’s first important captive, Abu Zubaydah, were unnecessary and counterproductive.

Neither critique of the C.I.A. is new. In fact, some of the information that the agency argues is classified, according to two people who have seen the correspondence between the F.B.I. and C.I.A., has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.

Mr. Soufan, an Arabic-speaking counterterrorism agent who played a central role in most major terrorism investigations between 1997 and 2005, has told colleagues he believes the cuts are intended not to protect national security but to prevent him from recounting episodes that in his view reflect badly on the C.I.A.

Some of the scores of cuts demanded by the C.I.A. from Mr. Soufan’s book, “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda,” seem hard to explain on security grounds.

Among them, according to the people who have seen the correspondence, is a phrase from Mr. Soufan’s 2009 testimony at a Senate hearing, freely available both as video and transcript on the Web. Also chopped are references to the word “station” to describe the C.I.A.’s overseas offices, common parlance for decades. more

Giant three-foot rat killed by pitchfork in Marcy Houses, NY is believed to be Gambian pouched rat -- and there's more! (Oh, and people live there)

It sounds like an urban legend: giant mutant-looking rats roaming a city housing project.

Only there's a picture.

A photo making the rounds shows Housing Authority worker Jose Rivera minutes after he speared the humongous rodent with a pitchfork at the Marcy Houses.

It's covered in white fur and looks well-fed. It appears to be about three feet long, including its hideously dangling tail.

And Rivera, 48, says it's not the only one. He insists that while he was filling a rat hole last week, three came running out - but he was only able to nail one.

"I hit it one time and it was still moving," Rivera said. "I hit it another time and that's when it died. I'm not scared of rats but I was scared of being bitten."

Naomi Colon, head of the Marcy Houses Tenant Association, said there have been sightings of the outsize rat for at least six years.

"The residents have told me that they've seen it running around with other rats. She lived with them. She ran into the same hole they ran in."

Animal experts who viewed the picture identified the animal as a Gambian pouched rat, which is a fairly common pet rat.

They're nocturnal, can grow to three feet and four pounds or more, and live seven or eight years.

Imports have been banned since 2003, when they were blamed for a monkeypox outbreak that sickened 100 people in the United States. more

Therapy horse killed after metal thieves tore down its pasture fence: It wandered outside into oncoming traffic



A therapy horse was killed after metal thieves tore down a pasture fence, allowing some of the animals to wander near a busy highway, authorities said.

An unknown number of suspects cut down a gate at the Daley Training and Learning Center, an organization that helps special needs children, allowing six horses to wander free, according to Laura Daley.

The horses traveled about a half mile from the pasture before reaching Highway 108, and all but one of the animals were able to cross the road safely. Calvin, a quarterhorse, was struck by a casino tour bus and died from his injuries. No passengers on the bus were harmed.

Daley said it would cost thousands of dollars to get another horse, but impossible to replace the good Calvin did for children. The stolen scrap metal likely only netted a couple hundred dollars for the suspects.

“He had such a good heart for the kids,” she said. “I’m angry at the blatant disregard of other people.” more

Haaretz: "Iran is determined to eradicate Israel"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was determined to eradicate Israel, ISNA news agency reported Thursday.

"Iran believes that whoever is for humanity should also be for eradicating the Zionist regime (Israel) as symbol of suppression and discrimination," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with a Lebanese television network, carried by ISNA.

"Iran follows this issue (the eradication of Israel) with determination and decisiveness and will never ever withdraw from this standpoint and policy," the Iranian president added in the interview with the Al-Manar network. more

Cash strapped Aussie families return to Waltons-era lifestyle

CASH strapped Aussies are beginning to echo TV's depression era family The Waltons, experts say.

A growing number of Australian households have three and even four generations under the same roof due to financial pressures, natural disasters, aged-care limitations, offspring staying at home longer and high childcare costs.

According to futurist Mark McCrindle, by 2020 we will flashback a century and there will be a return to the multi-generational household like the Waltons family, made famous in the smash hit television series of the '70s and '80s.

The award-winning series was set in the time of the Great Depression from 1929 when money was tight. Central character John-Boy lived with his many brothers and sisters, mother and father and grandparents. The world was held spellbound by the values, characters and warmth of this fictional tight-knit family unit. According to McCrindle nearly 1 in 4 people aged 20-34 continue to live in the parental home. more

Quick Facts: Homelessness in America

Facts taken from: Endhomelessness.org

The homeless population in the United States increased by approximately 20,000 people -- or 3 percent -- from 2008 to 2009.

* A majority -- 31 of 50 states and the District of Columbia -- had increases in their homeless counts. The largest increase was in Louisiana, where the homeless population doubled.

* While most people experiencing homelessness are sheltered, nearly 4 in 10 were living on the street, in a car, or in another place not intended for human habitation.

* From 2008 to 2009, the number of unemployed people in the United States increased by 60 percent from 8.9 million to 14.3 million people.

* Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. households with incomes below the federal poverty line spend over 50 percent of monthly household income on rent.

State of homelessness in the U.S.

According to a report released by the National Alliance to End Homelessness in January 2011 in Washington, D.C., homelessness is underreported in the United States. Endhomelessness.org

Key findings of the report on homelessness:

The homeless population in the United States increased by approximately 20,000 people -- or 3 percent -- from 2008 to 2009.

A majority -- 31 of 50 states and the District of Columbia -- had increases in their homeless counts. The largest increase was in Louisiana, where the homeless population doubled. more

China 'set to launch rival to International Space Station'

China's bid to rival the International Space Station is just days away from blast-off, Chinese media has reported, in a move that has raised fresh questions about the wisdom of US decisions to cut funding for space programmes.

The unmanned Tiangong-1 – or 'Heavenly Palace' – test module is in the final stages of preparation at China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China, according to a report in the Wuhan Evening News.

The 8.5-ton module, whose launch has been long-awaited as a badge of China's ascendant national and technological ambitions, will form the test-bed for a larger 60-ton space station which is China wants to have in orbit by the early 2020s.

Citing sources at the launch centre, the paper said the launch of Tiangong-1 spacelab could take place "in the first 10 days of September", earlier than previously anticipated and ahead of China's National Day celebrations on October 1.

There had been fears the launch might be delayed after a Chinese Long March II – C rocket malfunctioned last week during the launch of an experimental orbiter.

That launch was the third in just a week for China's space programme, however the official Xinhua news agency said the accident would not delay Tiangong-1's launch since it uses a different Long March II-F rocket. more

Fukushima caesium leaks 'equal 168 Hiroshimas'

Japan's government estimates the amount of radioactive caesium-137 released by the Fukushima nuclear disaster so far is equal to that of 168 Hiroshima bombs.

Government nuclear experts, however, said the World War II bomb blast and the accidental reactor meltdowns at Fukushima, which has seen ongoing radiation leaks but no deaths so far, were beyond comparison.

The amount of caesium-137 released since the three reactors were crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami has been estimated at 15,000 tera becquerels, the Tokyo Shimbun reported, quoting a government calculation.

That compares with the 89 tera becquerels released by "Little Boy", the uranium bomb the United States dropped on the western Japanese city in the final days of World War II, the report said.

The estimate was submitted by Prime Minister Naoto Kan's cabinet to a lower house committee on promotion of technology and innovation, the daily said.

The government, however, argued that the comparison was not valid. more

Loud, mysterious noise in Tallahassee, Florida just two days prior to Japan Earthquake in March (Buried but not forgotten)



Have you experienced an incident involving a strange noise such as this? Have you been able to capture it on film (so that there's context and a verifiable location)? If so, send us an email and we can add it to the website.

We've been warned: the global financial system is ready to blow

For the past two centuries and more, life in Britain has been governed by a simple concept: tomorrow will be better than today. Black August has given us a glimpse of a dystopia, one in which the financial markets buckle and the cities burn. Like Scrooge, we have been shown what might be to come unless we change our ways.

There were glimmers of hope amid last week's despair. Neighbourhoods rallied round in the face of the looting. The Muslim community in Birmingham showed incredible dignity after three young men were mown down by a car and killed during the riots. It was chastening to see consumerism laid bare. We have seen the future and we know it sucks. All of which is cause for cautious optimism – provided the right lessons are drawn.

Lesson number one is that the financial and social causes are linked. Lesson number two is that what links the City banker and the looter is the lack of restraint, the absence of boundaries to bad behaviour. Lesson number three is that we ignore this at our peril.

To understand the mess we are in, it's important to know how we got here. Today marks the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's announcement that America was suspending the convertibility of the dollar into gold at $35 an ounce. Speculative attacks on the dollar had begun in the late 1960s as concerns mounted over America's rising trade deficit and the cost of the Vietnam war. Other countries were increasingly reluctant to take dollars in payment and demanded gold instead. Nixon called time on the Bretton Woods system of fixed but adjustable exchange rates, under which countries could use capital controls in order to stimulate their economies without fear of a run on their currency. It was also an era in which protectionist measures were used quite liberally: Nixon announced on 15 August 1971 that he was imposing a 10% tax on all imports into the US. more

Ancient Aliens Season 3 Episode 4: "Aliens and Temples of Gold"

Ancient Aliens Season 3 Episode 3: "Aliens and Sacred Places"

Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis (By academics, NASA)

While humanity has not yet observed any extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), contact with ETI remains possible. Contact could occur through a broad range of scenarios that have varying consequences for humanity. However, many discussions of this question assume that contact will follow a particular scenario that derives from the hopes and fears of the author. In this paper, we analyze a broad range of contact scenarios in terms of whether contact with ETI would benefit or harm humanity. This type of broad analysis can help us prepare for actual contact with ETI even if the details of contact do not fully resemble any specific scenario.

Humanity has not yet encountered or even detected any form of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), but our efforts to search for ETI (SETI) and to send messages to ETI (METI) remain in early stages. At this time we cannot rule out the possibility that one or more ETI exist in the Milky Way, nor can we dismiss the possibility that we may detect, communicate, or in other ways have contact with them in the future.1 Contact with ETI would be one of the most important events in the history of humanity, so the possibility of contact merits our ongoing attention, even if we believe the probability of contact to be low.

A central concern regarding possible contact with ETI is whether the contact would be beneficial, neutral, or harmful to humanity. This concern will help us decide, among other things, whether or not we should intentionally message ETI and what we should say if we do. The short answer is that we do not know how contact would proceed because we have no knowledge of ETI in the galaxy. Indeed, we cannot know for sure until after contact with ETI actually occurs. Nevertheless, we do have some information that can help us at least make educated guesses about the nature of contact with ETI. Developing and analyzing this information may help prepare us for contact and increase the probability of an outcome that we consider favorable. more

Elmhurst College to Ask About Sexual Orientation: Being Gay Suddenly Earns You a Scholarship

Elmhurst College put a question on its admissions application that won’t appear on any other school's application.

"Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”

That optional question makes Elmhurst the first school in the country to ask applicants about their sexual orientation or gender identity, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Gary Rold, the dean of students at Elmhurst, stressed the question falls in line with the campus’ mission statement to increase diversity.

Prospective freshmen and transfer students applying for the 2012 fall semester will become the first group of applicants to check “yes,” “no” or “prefer not to answer.” Their answers will not play a role in the admissions process. more

‘Evil’: Attendees at prominent pro-pedophilia conference horrified by sessions

Pro-family advocates who attended a controversial pro-pedophilia conference in Baltimore last week say they were profoundly shaken by what they saw and heard.

“As a former law enforcement officer I’ve dealt with situations involving suicide, homicide and other violence. That said, I’ve never felt the level of spiritual oppression and evil that I felt in that room,” Liberty Counsel Action Vice President Matt Barber told LifeSiteNews.

“These mental health ‘professionals,’ and self-described pedophile and ‘gay’ activists were inexplicably able to cavalierly discuss, in an almost dismissive way, the idea of child rape,” Barber said. “They used flowery, euphemistic psychobabble to give quasi-scientific cover to a discussion about the worst kind of perversion.”

The organization B4U-ACT sponsored the event in Baltimore last week, which was attended by pro-pedophile activists and mental health professionals. The conference examined the ways in which “minor-attracted persons” could be involved in a revision of the American Psychological Association (APA) classification of pedophilia.

Conference panelists included Fred Berlin of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Renee Sorentino of Harvard Medical School, John Sadler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and John Breslow of the London School of Economics and Political Science. more

Israeli minister: Strikes on Gaza show 'we mean business'

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Israel's military will continue to hit Palestinians suspected of attacking Israel, amid escalating violence in the region since a deadly terror attack on Israelis a week ago.

Twenty-four Palestinians have died in air strikes in the past week, Palestinian medical and security sources say, as Israel has carried out a series of targeted attacks on the alleged leaders of terror groups. Ten have died in the past day.

Meanwhile, more than 140 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israeli territory from Gaza since last Thursday, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told CNN Thursday, eight of them in the past 24 hours.

In the latest incidents, an Israeli airstrike killed two men in Gaza Thursday evening, while a mortar attack knocked out power at a border crossing into Israel, Israeli military officials and Palestinian security sources reported.

In an interview for CNN in Jerusalem, Barak said the recent violence had been triggered by the terror attack August 18 by Palestinian militants near the southern city of Eilat, which killed eight Israelis. Another Israeli was killed by a rocket attack near the city of Beer Sheva in southern Israel. more

Fukushima and the Doomsday Clock

When dreadful events occur, reporters, readers, and interested citizens contact the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asking whether we will move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock. The alarming nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station on March 11 prompted e-mails and calls to our office seeking the Bulletin's reaction as well as accurate information about what was happening in Japan. The Bulletin responded by devoting its website to daily briefings from experts in Japan and to news from Bulletin writers on what they were hearing about this second-worst disaster in the history of the nuclear power industry. Additionally, the Bulletin will take deeper dives into the lessons and impacts of Fukushima in the September/October issue of its digital journal.

Still, the larger question remains: Should we move the hand of the Doomsday Clock? What does the Fukushima event imply for humanity's future on the planet? more

Americans wait longer to take marriage plunge

Americans are in step with the worldwide trend to wait longer to marry for the first time, taking that initial walk down the aisle six years later than they did four decades ago.

The U.S. Census Bureau, in the first analysis of its kind, reported Thursday from Washington that as a whole, since 1970, the median age men get married has risen from 22.5 to 28.4, while women are becoming first-time brides at 26.5 on average, compared to 20.6.

The percentage of women getting married in their teens has also declined since 1970, according to the latest figures, based on 2009 data.

International figures indicate a distinct trend in waiting longer to legally become man and wife.

According to Statistics Canada, for instance, in 2003, when Ontario and British Columbia became the first two provinces to legalize same-sex marriage, the average age of marriage to someone of the opposite sex was 30.6 years for men and 28.5 years for women — an increase of about five years for both sexes since 1973.

In 2002, the average age of marriage in Canada was 30.4 years for men and 28.3 years for women, according to the data released in 2007.

In countries including the United Kingdom, Austria, Norway, Hong Kong and China, first-time marriages are now in the late 20s for women and early 30s for men. more

'Arab Spring' becoming the Arab Year?

In what has come to be universally known as the "Arab Spring," in less than a year three major countries in North Africa have effectively ended nearly 100 combined years of dictatorial rule under despots named Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gadhafi.

Seeing the revolutions from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, it is amazing to recall that these grass-roots pro-democracy movements began with the "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, when a 26-year-old unemployed fruit stand owner named Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire after a policewoman confiscated his unlicensed produce stand.

Nobody had any idea at the time that this one young man's sacrifice would motivate an entire generation of young Arab women and men to use social media tools like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to help overthrow dictators who had ruled their respective countries for decades.

As President Obama recently said about Libya: "In just six months, the 42-year reign of Moammar Gadhafi has unraveled. Earlier this year, we were inspired by the peaceful protests that broke out across Libya. more

World Collapse Explained in 3 Minutes

Japan in Denial of Massive Radioactive Contamination Spreading Worldwide: Arnie Gundersen

Coming Crisis Alert -- Hurricane Irene to reach US East Coast -- August 26, 2011

WARNING AREA AND DURATION:

East coast of the United States of America until August 27, 2011, Midnight EST.

EVENT INFORMATION:

ALERT LIFTED: August 27, 2011.
Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a category 1 storm, and while state warnings and emergency measures are still in effect, it is no longer felt that the event warrants an alert notice, although safety and vigilance is still highly recommended.

Update: August 27, 2011

2 million people are now under evacuation order. The hurricane has made landfall in the Carolinas. A emergency message has gone out for people to, "get out of New York."

A hurricane, Hurricane Irene, is currently on approach toward to the United States East Coast. 750,000 are currently under evacuation, and subway systems are being abandoned during the hurricane's predicted zenith sometime tomorrow. Flooding resulting from the hurricane may reach levels unseen in 100 years according to meteorologists.

EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS:

1) If you live on the east coast of the United States, please remain in elevated positions and be on the look out for rapidly developing flooding situations.

2) Please remain close to your TV or radio should alerts or emergency instructions issued by your government or emergency authority.

3) If you have not already stocked up on emergency food and supplies, please do so immediately, as transit services may be cancelled soon, and travel outside may prove difficult.

4) Affix hard surfaces to windows or open entrances to prevent glass and other dangerous debris from causing injury. Tie down or store indoors objects and furniture outside your home.

5) Ensure that pets and children are accounted for and indoors. Do not venture outside onto beaches or exposed areas, as significant wave activity may prove dangerous, and there is a chance of flying debris and high speed winds.

Alert As "Suspect Devices" Found In Canterbury UK after suspect fires: Roads Closed

Several roads have been closed in the centre of Canterbury following the discovery of two suspect devices.

In a statement Kent Police said they were dealing with two incidents which may be connected.

The first was a supicious package reported at 4.21pm near the railway line in Old Dover Road.

Trains have been stopped and police and Army bomb disposal experts are at the scene.

The second incident was a small fire in the baby changing area on the second floor of Marks and Spencer.

Police said the blaze, which was discovered by staff at 5.10pm, was being treated as suspicious. It was quickly put out and the store evacuated.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Hogben from Kent Police said: "(We) are dealing with a serious incident which I appreciate is causing some disruption to local residents.

"I'm grateful for the co-operation that the people of Canterbury have shown so far and I ask that they bear with us as we continue to deal with the two incidents.

"At the moment we cannot formally connect the two incidents." more

Large forest fires rage in Greece - 26th Aug 2011

Strong winds spread large fires through thousands of hectares (acres) of forest in Greece Friday, despite a large firefighting operation with water-dropping aircraft from other European countries.

Authorities said no injuries or major damage to property were reported from about a dozen major blazes reaching from the northeastern border region of Evros to the southern island of Crete.

A man was convicted of arson through negligence regarding the Evros fire.

Two villages in western and southern Greece were evacuated as a precaution, while flames swept through the ruins of ancient Kalydon in the west, charring trees and blackening some stone walls. The culture ministry said the antiquities suffered no structural damage and would soon be cleaned.

Greece suffers from wildfires every summer, and 76 people died in a spate of blazes in 2007. Read More

New York braces for Hurricane Irene direct hit with unprecedented evacuation and WHOLE transport network to be suspended - 26th Aug 2011

New York is facing an unprecedented hurricane shutdown as officials ordered hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and a full closure of the city’s public transport network.

The sensational news comes as storm experts and politicians today laid out an apocalyptic warning of what will happen to Manhattan if Hurricane Irene makes a direct hit on New York City.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the entire subway, bus and MTA train network will be shut down from midday Saturday, ahead of the storm's anticipated impact on Sunday.

Experts spelled out fears of grounded transport, floods in the city and smashed skyscraper windows - as President Barack Obama warned the U.S. is about to experience 'a historic hurricane'.

Mayor Bloomberg warned New Yorkers there will be an unprecedented mandatory evacuation of 'Zone A' coastal areas and rest of the Rockaways in 'Zone B' (scroll down for map) by 5pm Saturday.

'We've never done a mandatory evacuation before in any part of this city,' he said. 'The sun is shining but don't be misled - there's a very dangerous storm headed in our direction. Read More

Texas continues to suffer record drought - 26th Aug 2011

As cities along the east coast of the United States' batten down the hatches in advance of the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene, spare a thought for the Lone Star state.

Texans are experiencing widespread crop failures, cattle deaths, wildfires and water rationing as they struggle to cope with their worst drought in recorded history.

While New Yorkers brace themselves for storms and flooding, in east Texas, an area normally wet at this time of year, farmers would give almost anything for a rainy day.

With many areas seeing barely any rain at all in the past year fields have dried up, trees have died and ponds have shriveled into little more than puddles.

And while weathermen say there is a possibility of 'scattered' showers in the next few days, people do not expect any meaningful relief anytime soon. Read More

Firefighters battle blaze near Yosemite - 26th Aug 2011

A main entrance to Yosemite National Park was closed Friday while firefighting crews battled a wildfire near Mariposa, Calif., officials said.

Officials said the so-called Motor fire in the Merced River Canyon had burned about 1,000 acres since it broke out Thursday, KMPH-TV, Fresno, Calif., reported.

CNN said the fire was triggered by an exploding propane tank.

"We are in full response right now," Rebecca Garcia of the Sierra National Forest told CNN.

No injuries had been reported, officials said.

Residents south of the park's maintenance station were evacuated, officials said. Highway 140 north of Midpines to the park was close and drivers were told to use an alternate route.

About 70 structures and 35 outbuildings were threatened by the blaze, officials said. Source

26 people poisoned during wedding party in Armenia - 26th Aug 2011

In total 26 people got poisoned during a wedding party at Continental restaurant in Yerevan. They are taken to different hospitals with diagnose of acute food poisoning, PR department of the Healthcare Ministry informs Armenian News-NEWS.am.

“The poisoning may have possibly caused by the chicken salad served at the restaurant, as all the patients had the same symptoms of the disease,” the ministry informed.

Currently all the patients are in good condition and discharged from the hospital. However, precautions measures are still on progress. Source

Scientists find underground river 13000 ft beneath the Amazon - 26th Aug 2011

The Amazon river is known to be the second longest in the world, shorter only than the Nile but, remarkably, scientists have discovered another river flowing thousands of feet beneath it.

Researchers from Brazil's National Observatory believe the subterranean river is 3,700 miles long, about the same length as the Amazon on the surface.

Dr Valiya Hamza, from the BNO, said the discovery of the underground river came from studying temperature variations at 241 inactive oil wells drilled in the 1970s and 1980s by Brazil's state-run oil company, Petrobras.

He said the 'thermal information' provided by Petrobras allowed his team of researchers to identify the movement of water 13,100ft under the Amazon River.

Their findings were presented last week in Rio de Janeiro at a meeting of the Brazilian Geophysical Society.

Computer simulations presented by doctoral student Elizabeth Pimentel, found the groundwater flow is mostly vertical to about 6,500ft deep, but changes direction and becomes almost horizontal at greater depths. Read More

3ft rat Caught in New York project - 26th Aug 2011

A huge rat has been speared to death by a pitchfork at a sprawling New York housing project.

Jose Rivera, a Housing Authority worker, was clearing a rat hole at the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn when three of the creatures popped out.

He was only able to nab one. It appears to be almost three feet long, including the tail, is covered in white fur and looks well-fed.

Mr Rivera, 48, said: 'I hit it one time and it was still moving.

'I hit it another time and that's when it died. I'm not scared of rats but I was scared of being bitten.'

Naomi Colon, head of the Marcy Houses Tenant Association, said there have been sightings of the outsize rat for at least six years.

She said: 'The residents have told me that they've seen it running around with other rats.

'She lived with them. She ran into the same hole they ran in.' Read More

Daniel O'Loughlin a Burglar from notorious crime family which stole £80m in stately home raids, ON THE RUN while on day release

A thief from a notorious crime family who netted £80million in stately home raids is on the run after failing to return to prison while on day release.

Daniel O'Loughlin, 35, was part of a group of travellers know as the Johnson Gang which are responsible for carrying out Britain's biggest burglary.

He was jailed for 11 years in 2008 for his role in the heists, which took place over a 20-year period.

But yesterday it emerged the career criminal had failed to return to Hatfield prison in South Yorkshire after being given a temporary release for a work placement on July 18.

O'Loughlin played a key role in the Johnson clan's criminal activities, which saw the Cheltenham family take part in a series of audacious raids on country estates across in Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Worcestershire.

Their most famous crime was the 2006 heist on Ramsbury Manor in Wiltshire, owned by reclusive property tycoon Harry Hyams.

The gang got away with antiques and art valued at about £30 million - making it Britain's biggest burglary on a private property. Read More

Asylum seeker guilty of 26 crimes could win damages at the UK taxpayers’ expense for 'unlawful detention' - 26th Aug 2011

A failed asylum seeker who committed 26 crimes within six years of arriving in the UK could win damages after a judge ruled that he had been unlawfully detained by immigration authorities.

Deputy High Court Judge John Howell QC said Amin Sino from Algeria had ‘frustrated’ Home Office deportation attempts and been assessed as a ‘risk to the community’.

And he accepted that many people might be ‘outraged’ that ‘such an individual’ may be entitled to damages - which would come from public funds.

But the judge said, in a written ruling published today after a hearing in London, that an immigrant's failure to co-operate with immigration officials was not a justification for detention.

Mr Sino had sought a High Court review of the Home Office's decision to detain him five years ago. He argued that he had been unlawfully detained and claimed damages. Read More

An Holistic Explanation of the Causes of the UK Riots -- A guest article by Tom Swanston



Political and media reaction to the riots has focused on single causes and punishing rioters. However, these riots were the inevitable result of an accumulation of interconnected factors: economic fluctuations, technological advancement, social structures, human psychology and behaviour. The timing of the riots was primarily due to economic factors.

Economies evolve and fluctuate, affecting social mood and behaviour. Known as ‘Kondratiev waves’, these fluctuations show economic growth and recession, and last forty to sixty years. Within them are shorter business cycles (‘boom’ and ‘bust’, or ‘bull’ and ‘bear’ markets). Kondratiev waves can be explained by technological innovation; each advancement causes an economic surge followed by a trough.

A wave’s phases are referred to as seasons, affecting social shifts and public mood:

1) Spring - wealth, capital accumulation, and innovation create social upheaval and displacement, redifining people’s role and work.
2) Summer – stagflation characterised by an affluent mood causing inefficiencies and wealth separation between classes.
3) Autumn – deflationary growth, a plateau characterised by stability, normalcy and isolationism.
4) Winter – severe depression, social shifts and potential uprising.

We are in a winter stage of economic collapse and physical reaction, similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s: the general populus, having lost income and assets, wandered the land in pursuit of work and resources. Like today’s youth they were unable to provoke change through voting or work, so resorted to physical action to gain opportunity and resources.

We are in a rare period where many economic waves “trough” simultaneously - world debt, stock market bubble, housing boom, credit crunch – with dramatic impact on society. The demise of debt repackaging was especially potent because the assets became almost valueless.

These waves are due to natural fluctuations in distribution and sustainability of resources. Growth in certain resources leads to depletion in others, until a total reversal occurs as the ascending resources reach an unsustainable point. In our society these are fluctuations of wealth and opportunity between the classes.

The riots arrived at the end of an economic cycle, the timing of which was affected by governmental decisions, such as the sale of UK gold reserves at their lowest value and over-borrowing during economic growth. Government policies acted as catalysts to financial collapse.

It is no coincidence that the riots occurred in cities. The modern era is defined by industrial evolution and population growth in urban centres. ‘Civilisation’ derives from the Latin word ‘civis’ meaning city. To be civilised is to live in a city. Access to resources in urban centres increases by a factor of 1.15 (West 2007). A city with double the population has double the resources, plus an extra 15%, and wages increase by 15%. Since the origin of Greek city-states this has attracted people to cities, causing over-population, stress on resources and eventual collapse.

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) was the first to understand that “the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man”. Many city populations have reached a tipping point and resources are stretched. Rioting and looting are an expression of the fight for resources in this stressed environment.

Technological innovation creates an ever-changing environment to which we are unable to adapt; genetic evolution progresses far more slowly, taking thousands of years for adaptations to proliferate. Moore’s Law suggests that a doubling of technological speed (e.g. computing power) takes half the length of the previous doubling, creating an ever-accelerating advancement. The arrival of the world wide web in 1990 dramatically altered the way we communicate, source information, do business, find partners etc. We have been a species of nomadic hunter-gatherers for up to a million years, but living in cities for less than five thousand. We inhabit a man-made world for which we are ill equipped and it is detrimental to our behaviour. We fight our surroundings to recreate the small, tribe-like structure to which evolutionary history has adapted our brains.

Recent immigration policies have contributed, pushing a large group of diverse, non-integrated individuals into an increasingly cramped space. The rioters’ are ethnically mixed, but see outsiders as invaders and resource thieves.

City dwellers are surrounded by strangers, but the human brain is built to live with known individuals. The natural human group has 150 individuals (Dunbar 1992), and we try to exist in “friend groups” (the average Facebook user has 130 friends), but many cities contain millions, dramatically affecting our social interaction. The rioters are no different: physical activity bonding them with their “friend group”, as if they were a football team.

Technological innovation has created distance between humans. The younger generation is less capable of social interaction, but communicates via mobile phone and computer. This physical separation and reduced intimacy leads to mental distancing and reduced value placed on others. The rioter values only one community – his friend group. And social media enables speedy communication, allowing rioters to coordinate much faster than police weighed down by protocols and pyramids of authority.

The riots are symptomatic of a much wider problem, highlighted by recent “scandals” involving MP expenses, police corruption and newspaper phone hacking. Economic growth stimulates corruption. Organisations suffer from ‘hierarchies of incompetence’ in which people do not hire or promote others more capable than themselves, perceiving them as a threat. Organisations are negatively impacted by the success of psychopaths - individuals unable to empathise or form human attachment. A recent study found that 1% of people is a psychopath, but within management positions this figure is 4%. The higher an individual's psychopathic rating the higher their business ranking, but the worse they are at their job, leading to a highly-paid, incompetent and amoral elite of managers within politics, policing, business and banking. The media constantly emphasises the greed and incompetence of this elite, fueling resentment within disadvantaged groups, until tension builds into physical reaction.

The rioters were protesting (albeit unknowingly) against their lack of prospects and the disregard of society’s senior members. Disenchanted youth have no interest in voting, seeing one party as equally negative and untrustworthy as another. To compound this, politicians do not seek to attract non-voters, instead focusing on voters, especially big businesses. So it is perhaps not surprising that some non-voters turned to looting their nearest businesses.

Violence is part of human nature. Throughout history leaders have used it to gain power and wealth e.g. Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Vikings, and the British Empire. It is also used to resolve conflicts. The Yanomami tribe of the Amazon resolve conflict with direct combat: taking turns to hit each other over the head with an increasingly large pole; the man left standing wins. The Inuit of Northern Canada resolve conflict by gathering in an igloo while the two combatants take turns to insult each other. The winner is the receiver of the loudest cheers for his insults. The varying degrees of violence are due to distribution of resources. The Yanomami live in an abundantly resourced rainforest and can afford violence. The Innuit live such a scarce environment that they must collaborate to survive. Our society is richly resourced, but heavily weighted in favour of an elite, thus causing the disadvantaged youth to seek resources via looting.

An individual caught up in a violent group will more than likely become violent as a result of herd mentality, self-preservation and mass hysteria. The rioters’ behaviour reinforces their identity as part of a group standing against establishment and authority: a “them and us” mentality, epitomised by football hooligans reinforcing their group identity by violence toward other groups. The rioters had only one characteristic in common: youth. It was a generational rebellion; rioters sharing in their frustration and disillusionment with the older generations.
The riots happened during summer holidays. There is little for them to do and warmer, lighter evenings encourage outdoor congregation in large groups, increasing the likelihood of violence and herd mentality.

Many factors influenced the riots. Economic tides ebb and flow, sweeping wealth and resources with them, and affecting social moods. Periods of growth offer increased work, innovation and social stability, while the wealthy elite accumulate resources and corruption spreads. As economies descend they expose this wealth and class distinction. The restless disadvantaged seek change through physical action and use violence to establish their group identity.

The approaching age of “post-informational technology” presents new threats and opportunities. Politicians will continue to focus on crime and punishment - “amoral” individuals and “isolated causes”. Is our “Broken society” fixable? Technology is widening the generation gap. Society grows increasingly technology-reliant and ever-more disparate from its evolutionary history. But technology can offer solutions; social, psychological and immunological. It may even create a more egalitarian society. Eventually the economic wave will turn upwards and mood will rise. Banking regulations will be reduced as they restrict growth, until no one is alive who remembers the current collapse and the situation will repeat. It is unlikely we will ever break this cycle, but knowledge of it makes us better prepared to deal with it.

Tom is a screenwriter and film producer. Having studied anthropology at Durham University he went on to produce feature films and shorts, winning awards in Cannes and New York. He is currently producing a comedy feature film about the collapse of a bank. His other interests include portraiture, golf, powerlifting and dancing. Visit him at: www.tomswanston.com