Friday, September 2, 2011

CNN News: UFOs eyeing our nuclear weapons? Fact or fiction?



‘Friends’ gather in Paris to plan future of oil-rich Libya

Delegations from 60 countries are attending Thursday’s “Friends of Libya” conference in Paris to discuss the oil-rich North African nation’s future in the post-Muammar Gaddafi era.

Alongside the political and economic agenda for rebuilding the nation after the devastating conflict, all attending nations will be jostling for the rich rewards that Libya’s numerous oil contracts have to offer.

Bearing this in mind, not all the countries attending Thursday’s conference sanctioned NATO’s military support, which was pivotal in helping Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) unseat Colonel Muammar Gaddafi after 41 years in power.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the first world leader to recognise the NTC as the legitimate authority in Libya, in holding the conference in Paris has given the NTC its first global platform to address the world. Sarkozy and the other world leaders are keen to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

FRANCE 24 spoke with Pierre Vermeren, a specialist in modern North African History at the Sorbonne University in Paris, for an insight into the possible winners and losers of Thursday’s conference. more

Greek finance minister rejects alarming debt report (even though there might be truth to it?)



The Greek finance ministry backpedalled on Thursday after a new budget watchdog released an internal report warning that debt was "out of control" just as officials held critical talks with creditors.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who had enough troubles this week explaining Greece's reform delays and target slippage to auditors from the EU, the IMF and the ECB, attributed the error to inexperience.

"All responsible international organisations know in which way macroeconomic and fiscal reports are compiled, checked and published," Venizelos said in a statement.

"It is clear that the budget office still lacks this knowledge, experience and responsibility," the minister said.

The report, excerpts of which were reported by the semi-state Athens News Agency on Wednesday, warned that the dynamic of Greece's enormous debt is "out of control".

It said that slippage on meeting deficit targets, exacerbated by a deep recession, threatened to cancel out the benefits of a new EU bailout.

"A significant debt increase, a high primary deficit and the deep recession have boosted to the extreme the debt dynamic, which is now out of control," the newly-formed State Budget Execution Monitoring Office, staffed by independent analysts, said in a report. more

Vermont Officials Assess the Risks in Towns Lacking Water and Power

Federal and state environmental teams on Wednesday investigated the extent of health risks related to damaged sewage and water treatment plants in more than a dozen Vermont towns where flash flooding has left thousands of people without electricity or potable water since Sunday.

Engineers from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation visited several areas that had been cut off to assess the hazards, officials said. The teams were trying to determine the extent of damage to sewage and water plants in at least 13 towns, including chemical and other hazardous material spills and leaks, said Justin Johnson, deputy commissioner of the environmental department.

Three days after remnants of the tropical storm that began as Hurricane Irene spawned torrential downpours in areas rarely bothered by flooding, access in and around much of southern Vermont remained so difficult that officials were unsure how many facilities had been contaminated because they had been unable to send out inspectors until Wednesday.

“We have 13 towns on ‘boil water’ notice, where we know there has been some level of damage, but we don’t have an exact count right now,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that he expected the number to grow. more

Hungary Introduces 'Fat Tax'

The dobostorta cake, a five-layer vanilla and chocolate buttercream dessert with a caramel-glazed top layer, is probably Hungary's best-known treat -- at least after goulash. The cake can be seen in the vitrines of coffee houses and bakery shops lining the streets of Budapest.

"Hungarians are really into desserts," said Carolyn Banfalvi, co-founder of Taste Hungary. The tour company operator describes Hungarian food in general as "very fatty," with traditional cooking ingredients that include pork and goose fat. "What they call bacon here is often pieces of pure lard," she said.

The Hungarian government argues that this kind of diet is also leading to obesity and increased health problems, and that those who partake in indulgences like sweets should also pay a premium to help offset those costs. Enter the "fat tax."

Beginning Sept. 1, Hungarians will have to pay a 10 forint (€ 0.37) tax on foods with high fat, sugar and salt content, as well as increased tariffs on soda and alcohol. The expected annual proceeds of €70 million will go toward state health care costs, including those associated with addressing the country's 18.8 percent obesity rate, which is more than 3 percent higher than the European Union average of 15.5 percent according to a 2010 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In Germany, by comparison, 13.6 percent of adults are obese, with Romania at the bottom of the list with 7.9 percent. more

Arctic sea ice shrinks, ice free summer looms

Arctic sea ice cover has already shrunk to its third lowest level on record this year, in an irreversible trend which may see an ice-free summer around 2030, said the head of the world's main monitoring centre.

The sea ice area will be reduced further in the next two weeks but was unlikely to beat a 2007 retreat in a 32-year satellite data record, said Mark Serreze, director of the U.S.-based National Snow and Ice Data Centre.

While sea ice does not raise sea levels when it melts, just as melting ice in a glass of water, an ice-free summer would have implications for the exploitation of resources in the area, scientists say. It could also disrupt weather patterns or cause the Greenland ice sheet to melt more rapidly.

Exxon Mobil Corp and Rosneft signed an agreement on Tuesday to extract oil and gas from the Russian Arctic, in exploration which may be assisted by the recent trend of summer sea ice retreat north of Russia.

"The numbers today are saying that if all further melt stopped right now it would be the third most in the satellite record," Serreze said on Thursday.

"We just dropped below 4.6 million square kilometres and that's what we had in 2010 (at the minimum). We're continuing the overall pattern of loss, and there's still a couple of weeks to go in the melt season." more

Laser–Machine Gun Mashup Tested on ‘Pirate Ships’

Now we know what the Navy plans to do with its experimental hybrid of laser cannon and machine gun: zap pirate ships.

Two defense giants, Boeing and BAE Systems, announced late last month that they would team up on a $2.8 million Navy contract for a prototype version of BAE’s Mk-38 25-mm machine gun with a little upgrade: a death ray. As the companies excitedly explained, the new gun would protect surface ships from pretty much everything, from enemy boats to small drones.

What the companies weren’t letting on was that they had already tested the machine-laser-gun a month before the announcement. And in tests that BAE — hardly an uninterested party — claims were successful, the new Mk-38 took on its most likely adversary: pirate skiffs.

In late June, the waters of the Choctawatchee Bay near Florida’s Elgin Air Force Base stood in for the Gulf of Aden, as ersatz pirate ships “swarmed” amidst dense “civilian” maritime traffic to harass a mock Navy “platform” armed with the laser gun. The enhanced version of the Mk-38 used its lasers to fix the enemy targets for bursts of machine gun fire, before switching up to laser mode to “defeat the targets” with a “high beam-quality 10-kilowatt laser,” BAE spokeswoman Stephanie Bissell Serkhoshian told Danger Room. more

No charges for New Mexico cop caught having sex on car

He's in uniform, in public, and definitely caught in flagrante. But investigators said the state police officer caught on camera having sex on the hood of a car did not commit a crime, CBS News affiliate KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports.

The pictures show a state cop wrapped up in an inappropriate position, having sex on the top of a car in public.

The photos were taken by a security camera at the out-of-the-way Canyon Ranch, which is owned by Santa Fe County.

State police are not releasing the officer's name, but KRQE-TV has learned it's Bert Lopez. The eight-year vet was named state police officer of the year in the Santa Fe district in 2010. Even though state police won't confirm it's him, state police spokesman Sgt. Tim Johnson told KRQE-TV that Lopez is currently "on administrative leave."

Johnson wouldn't say if the officer was officially on duty but did say, "An employee who did something like this in uniform would be considered on duty." more

North Miami Beach police kill mentally disabled man carrying toy gun

North Miami Beach Police are piecing together an officer-involved shooting and killing of a mentally disabled man. The man was originally thought to be carrying a gun but it was later determined to be a toy rifle.

Officials told CBS station WFOR that the incident began Wednesday afternoon when officers responded to several calls about a man seen walking around with a rifle. Witnesses told the station that at one point the man aimed the rifle at a neighborhood dog.

According to police reports, when officers arrived there was some sort of confrontation which caused one officer to open fire on the man. However, a subsequent investigation revealed that the "rifle" was a toy. The injured man was then taken to a local hospital where he later died. Family members say the man police killed was 56-year-old Ernest Vassell.

"They murdered him in cold blood for a toy gun!" cried Vassell's older sister Claire Harding. "That's no reason for you to kill somebody!"

Vassell's sisters say they have never seen him with a toy gun and believe he must have found it somewhere. They say he was mentally disabled after a brain injury as a child and that he has never been violent.

"They could tell him to drop the gun. They say they told him to drop it and he raised his hand," Harding told WFOR. "He probably raised his hand to hand them the gun because he is afraid of police." more

Miami's Balere Language Academy: A K-8 school by day, adult club by night?

By day, the Balere Language Academy is an A-rated charter school, home to children in kindergarten through middle school.

But when the kids are tucked into bed, Balere apparently becomes a playground of a different kind.

Party fliers, printed and on the Web, indicate that the campus at 10875 Quail Roost Dr. has been hosting raunchy, booze-soaked bashes into the wee hours. One flier for an upcoming party features a voluptuous, scantily clad woman posing with champagne bottles. Another shows a woman in a string bikini bending over suggestively and a man with flashy jewelry sitting on a stack of currency in front of a gold sports car.

Asked if the school was hosting any parties, founder and principal Rocka Malik responded: “Not that I’m aware of.” more

Drought Watch Still In Effect... in flooded Philadelphia

Yes, we still have flooding in parts of the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, but an official drought watch is still in effect.

This, with the wettest August in Philadelphia’s history. Crazy, right?

The Inquirer reports that the sogginess of August still hasn’t made up for the aridness of May, June and July yet this year.

The drought watch was first declared for Philadelphia and parts of Pennsylvania on Aug. 5 by the Department of Environmental Protection and it called for water restrictions in 40 counties, reports the Inquirer. It remains in effect.

The drought watch was most likely influenced by the period from June 1 to Aug 31 of this year --it is ranked as the fifth warmest in the recorded 138 years in Philadelphia. Experts tell the Inquirer that the intense heat and the increased rain may be attributed to worldwide warming.

Last year was the hottest recorded in Philadelphia history and nine of the 10 hottest summers have occurred since 1991, the Inquirer reports.

Though no rainstorms are in the immediate forecast, the state drought committee meets next Thursday. We’ll see if they stick to their guns. source

Miami-Dade County Proposes Copper Wire Task Force To Combat Thefts



Edmonson’s District, which includes Brownsville and Liberty City, has been most affected by the copper crooks. Residents there say the lack of lighting is making already rough neighborhoods more dangerous.

“You have the elderly that have to walk, you have people coming in from work, you have children out there, and people were afraid to come out in the dark,” said Edmonson.

So far this year, thieves have taken out 277 Miami-Dade streetlights in their quest for copper.

The last four attacks happened in August. Each theft impacts nearby lights, so the County is trying to repair 17, 38, even 107 at a time.

Thieves have even knocked out 30 streetlights on I-95 in Miami-Dade and in West Palm Beach the problem is so bad, crews are installing anti-theft devices on the light poles.

Edmonson is now pushing to create a copper theft task force; made up of officers, experts, and people from the scrap yard industry. more

Christopher Allen Anspach will serve 10 days in jail for overdue library materials

A Newton man will serve 10 days in jail for failing to return materials to the library. Twenty-eight-year old Christopher Allen Anspach was arrested for failing to return nearly $800 in library materials.

Police say he had checked out the materials January 17th and was arrested last month. He pled guilty to third-degree theft and was sentenced to serve 10 days in jail, ordered to pay a $625 fine.

Anspach also has to pay $790 in restitution to the Newton Public Library. source

Are there no debtor's prisons? Are there no work houses?

Brawl erupts at Sarasota football game after player tackles referee



The Sheriff's Office is wrapping up its investigation of the youth football brawl that was captured on videotape last weekend, and expects to announce any charges on Friday.

The investigation has centered on four suspects who took part in the melee; sheriff's Col. Steve Burns says all four of them have provided statements to law enforcement and are "cooperating."

The video shows that aggressors in the fight were mainly coaches and players from the Sarasota Gators football team.

The coach of the other team on the field Saturday, Mike Cody of the North Port Husky's, on Thursday called it a "very disgraceful display of coaching and mentoring to young men and women," the worst he has seen in 24 years of coaching.

Several Husky's coaches can be seen trying to break up the fight in the video. Cody can also be seen in the video, calling 911 on his cell phone. more

FDA Panel Calls for Silicone Breast Implant Registry

A federal advisory panel has recommended the creation of a nationwide database to follow women who have had silicone-gel breast implants for at least a decade after they had the surgery.

The two companies that manufacture silicone implants -- Allergan and Mentor -- are required to follow women who've had their implants for a number of FDA-mandated studies, but enrollment in those follow-up studies has been disappointing, and in some cases the number of women being followed is so small that FDA cannot definitely rule out a connection between implants and a rare disease, such as anaplastic large-cell lymphoma or connective tissue diseases.

The FDA's General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel, which wrapped up a two-day meeting Wednesday afternoon, said that current data collection demands are too onerous. Both companies ask women who've received their implants to fill out a 25-plus page questionnaire every year following surgery. Not surprisingly, not many women do that.

In 2006, the FDA broke a 14-year moratorium on silicone implants by approving two new models, one made by Mentor and one by Allergan. The approval was controversial because critics of silicone implants said there wasn't enough evidence that the implants were safe in the long term.

To study how the implants held up longer-term, the FDA ordered Mentor and Allergan to perform an array of follow-up studies -- some of which won't end until 2016. The studies involve 80,000 implant recipients -- 40,000 for each of the two brands -- who will be followed for a decade.

But so far, Allergan has mustered only about a 60% follow-up rate after two years for its studies -- far short of the goal of 93% -- and only one in four patients who received a Mentor implant were followed up after two years. more

Gulf of Mexico storm threatens oil rigs

Oil companies began evacuating workers from rigs in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday ahead of what US forecasters said could be a powerful and dangerous storm.

"Right now we're giving it a 70 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone sometime in the next 48 hours," said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

"Where it will go and what it will do is too early to tell."

The weather service is urging residents across the Gulf Coast to keep an eye on the storm which will likely bring heavy rain and powerful winds and could also cause some flooding.

"Gosh knows the rain is needed from Texas to Florida," Feltgen told AFP. "This could be a godsend."

But it could spell a slowdown for oil operations in the Gulf, source of a substantial portion of US offshore crude.

ExxonMobil said it is evacuating approximately 140 employees and contractors from Gulf Coast offshore platforms expected to be in the path of the storm.

"Gross production of approximately 11,000 barrels per day of liquids and 60 million cubic feet per day of natural gas has been shut-in," the oil giant said in a statement.

BP said it had begun evacuating "all personnel from its operative assets in the Gulf of Mexico" on Thursday, but did not indicate the impact on production. Shell said weather conditions were interfering with evacuation efforts and it might be safer to leave some workers on their rigs. more

Union leader Thomas Villanova draws lucrative $108,000 pension perk (on top of his salary) based on false information

Every month, Thomas Villanova gets a $9,000 reminder of how lucrative it can be to serve as a union leader in Chicago.

The sum is part of a city pension that comes on top of the $198,000 annual salary he is paid to represent the interests of thousands of city workers.

Villanova last worked for the city in 1989 as an electrical mechanic with the Department of Streets and Sanitation, making about $40,000 a year. Yet in 2008 he was allowed to retire at age 56 with a $108,000 city pension. That's because, under a little-known state law, his pension was based not on his city paycheck but on his much higher union salary.

This kind of deal is available only to union officials who meet certain requirements, but a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has uncovered documents that show Villanova violated state law when he applied for the pension and cast doubt on whether he truly qualifies for all that money.

To boost his taxpayer-supported city pension, Villanova signed documents certifying that he had waived his union pension and had two union officials write letters supporting his claim. In fact, records show dues collected from the rank-and-file were still set aside for Villanova's union pension. more

Undocumented workers got billions from IRS in tax credits, audit finds: US

The Internal Revenue Service allowed undocumented workers to collect $4.2 billion in refundable tax credits last year, a new audit says, almost quadruple the sum five years ago.

Although undocumented workers are not eligible for federal benefits, the report released Thursday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration concludes that federal law is ambiguous on whether these workers qualify for a tax break based on earned income called the additional child tax credit.

Taxpayers can claim this credit to reduce what they owe in taxes, often getting refunds from the government. The vagueness of federal law may have contributed to the $4.2 billion in credits, the report said.

The IRS said it lacks the authority to disallow the claims.

Wage earners who do not have Social Security numbers and are not authorized to work in the United States can use what the IRS calls individual taxpayer identification numbers. Often these result in fraudulent claims on tax returns, auditors found.

Their data showed that 72 percent of returns filed with taxpayer identification numbers claimed the child tax credit. more

Evidence Suggests Cover-Up in ATF Scandal, as More Guns Appear at Crime Scenes

Just hours after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, federal officials tried to cover up evidence that the gun that killed Terry was one the government intentionally helped sell to the Mexican cartels in a weapons trafficking program known as Operation Fast and Furious.

The revelation comes just days after a huge shake-up of government officials who oversaw the failed anti-gun trafficking program and Congress renewed its demand for more answers.

Also late Thursday, Sen. Charles Grassley's office revealed that 21 more Fast and Furious guns have been found at violent crime scenes in Mexico. That is up from 11 the agency admitted just last month.

Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Thursday they are expanding their investigation into the scandal. In a strongly worded letter to Anne Scheel, the new U.S. attorney for Arizona, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested interviews, emails, memos and even hand-written notes from members of the U.S. attorney's office that played key roles in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program.

Issa and Grassley said they want to speak with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory Hurley and Michael Morrissey, along with Patrick Cunningham, chief of the office’s Criminal Division. more

Greek restaurants refuse to pay VAT as tax-evasion movement threatens to explode into nationwide protest

Tax evasion in Greece threatened to take organised form on Thursday when café and restaurant owners refused to pay a 10-point VAT rise, as a deep recession clashes with the government’s increasingly desperate search for revenue.

The steep rise in value added tax on the hospitality sector from 13 per cent to 23 per cent is part of a package of fiscal measures agreed in return for the country’s second financial rescue by European Union partners.

But for many of Greece’s ubiquitous cafés and souvlaki stands, which have already seen a 20-40 per cent decline in business in the past year as customers rein in spending, the VAT rise is the final straw.

“Our members voted at an extraordinary general assembly not to pay the increase because it will drive many establishments out of business,” said the PanHellenic Federation of Restaurants and Related Professions, representing more than 15,000 hospitality businesses.

Sete, an association of Greek hoteliers and tour operators, said the tax rise was “inappropriate, unjust and will not produce the revenues it targets”.

The measure is projected to raise €750m ($1,072m) over the next year, according to the finance ministry, which says owners will be fined for tax evasion if they fail to pay VAT at the increased rate. more

Berlusconi vows to leave 'sh*tty' Italy in conversation recorded by police

In a sign of his frustration at the investigations into his alleged crimes and misdemeanours, Silvio Berlusconi vowed in July to leave Italy, which he described as a "shitty country" that "sickened" him.

The Italian prime minister's astonishing remarks are contained in the transcript of a telephone conversation secretly recorded by police investigating claims he was being blackmailed about his sex life.

At dawn on Thursday, police swooped on a flat near Via Veneto – one of Rome's most expensive streets – to arrest Giampaolo Tarantini, a central figure in a scandal that threatened to bring down Berlusconi two years ago.

Tarantini's wife, Angela Devenuto, was also taken into custody and a search launched for a third person. The arrest warrant shows that the three are accused of extorting at least €500,000 (£440,000) "as well as other benefits of economic significance". Berlusconi has admitted paying the couple, but said he did so voluntarily.

Two years ago, Tarantini, a businessman from Bari in southern Italy, said he supplied 30 women for parties at the prime minister's Roman palazzo. He told police at least six women spent the night there. more

Frank McCourt is offered $1.2 billion for Dodgers... from the government of China (Not kidding)

In an international twist in the Dodgers' ownership saga, Frank McCourt has been offered $1.2 billion to sell the team to a group indirectly financed by the government of China.

The bid is headed by Los Angeles Marathon founder Bill Burke, according to a letter sent to McCourt on Tuesday. The letter was disclosed to The Times by two people familiar with its content but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The proposed sale price would set a record for a Major League Baseball team. However, the bid was received with skepticism within MLB, where executives wondered whether the proposal might be used by McCourt to stir negotiations with other potential buyers or to persuade a Bankruptcy Court judge to keep McCourt in charge of the team.

"There are questions within the sports industry about whether this is a genuine offer," said one industry consultant who works extensively with MLB and other professional sports leagues.

The offer was unsolicited, according to a person who had spoken with McCourt's representatives but was not authorized to discuss the conversation. more

CIA shifts focus to killing targets

Behind a nondescript door at CIA headquarters, the agency has assembled a new counterterrorism unit whose job is to find al-Qaeda targets in Yemen. A corresponding commotion has been underway in the Arabian Peninsula, where construction workers have been laying out a secret new runway for CIA drones.

When the missiles start falling, it will mark another expansion of the paramilitary mission of the CIA.

In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the agency has undergone a fundamental transformation. Although the CIA continues to gather intelligence and furnish analysis on a vast array of subjects, its focus and resources are increasingly centered on the cold counterterrorism objective of finding targets to capture or kill.

The shift has been gradual enough that its magnitude can be difficult to grasp. Drone strikes that once seemed impossibly futuristic are so routine that they rarely attract public attention unless a high-ranking al-Qaeda figure is killed. more

First time since 1945 that US government has reported net monthly job change of zero

Employment growth ground to a halt in August, as sagging consumer confidence discouraged already skittish U.S. businesses from hiring, keeping pressure on the Federal Reserve to provide more monetary stimulus to aid the struggling economy.

Nonfarm payrolls were unchanged last month, the Labor Department said Friday. It was the first time since 1945 that the government has reported a net monthly job change of zero. The August payrolls report was the worst since September 2010, while nonfarm employment for June and July was revised to show 58,000 fewer jobs.

“The bottom line is this is bad,” Diane Swonk, chief economist with financial services firm Mesirow Financial, told CNBC Friday.

Despite the lack of employment growth, the jobless rate held steady at 9.1 percent in August. The unemployment rate is derived from a separate survey of households, which showed an increase in employment and a tick up in the labor force participation rate. more

Ugly Jobs Report Adds to Recession Fears: US

Today’s ugly jobs report adds to the fears that the U.S. economy is heading towards another recession. These fears had eased a bit in recent days as a host of economic readings showed signs of positive economic momentum. The continued resilience in the weekly jobless claims data and Thursday’s ISM report appeared to be leading towards the conclusion that while growth was very weak, it was nevertheless positive. This morning’s jobs report brings the recession scenario again to the front.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the creation of no new jobs in August, significantly below the consensus expectation of about 65 thousand. Private sector jobs totaled 17 thousand, down from 156 thousand in July. The prior month’s numbers were revised down, with July’s gains coming down to 85 thousand from the originally reported 117 thousand level.

Average hourly earnings dropped 0.1% in August, compared to a 0.5% gain in July. The average workweek ticked down a bit. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1%.

This is the weakest payroll reading since September 2010. The key unusual item in today’s report was the negative contribution from the Verizon Communications (VZ) strike. The number would look modestly less ugly had it not been for that fact. But any way you slice it, there is no silver lining in this report. more

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 2nd September 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 36 km (22.4 miles), the quake hit at 19:48:56 UTC Friday 2nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 38 km (23 miles) SSW of Amukta Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 2nd September 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 15.6 km (9.7 miles), the quake hit at 18:28:39 UTC Friday 2nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 44 km (27 miles) SSW of Amukta Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 2nd September 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 46.7 km (29 miles), the quake hit at 17:39:14 UTC Friday 2nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 53 km (32 miles) SSW of Amukta Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake CASPIAN SEA, OFFSHORE TURKMENISTAN - 2nd September 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Caspian Sea, Offshore Turkmenistan at a depth of 63.6 km (39.5 miles), the quake hit at 17:42:52 UTC Friday 2nd September 2011.
The epicenter was 69 km (42 miles) NNW of Turkmenbasy (Krasnovodsk), Turkmenistan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Do investors need to fear September?

September is the cruelest month for stock market investors.

No one can explain why, but historically New York’s S&P 500 has dropped an average of 1.1% every September, making it by far the worst month of the year, according to the Stock Traders’ Almanac.

It has also been the month that has set the stage for some of the biggest crashes. The 1929 collapse started in September, and more recently, there was the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, which triggered the latest financial crisis.

After a lousy August, investors have good reason to be nervous.

“We are going to look at continued volatility, there’s no doubt about that,” said Larry Moser, regional sales manager at BMO. “There is a myriad of issues facing financial markets and we have had volatility all summer long.”

The S&P 500 ended August with a loss of 5.7%, after decreasing almost 14% in the wake of the squabble over the U.S. debt ceiling, which saw that country lose its AAA credit rating.

September started badly with the markets continuing to decline. A four-day global slump took valuations back to levels not seen since 2009. more

Desperation Trumps Stigma: What's Really Driving the Food Stamp-ede

The number of food stamp recipients is likely to hit a new high of 46 million when the Department of Agriculture releases its latest report on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) -- that's over 18 percent of American households. This should drive conservatives through the roof. Fox News and other right-wing pundits have already been bemoaning surging food stamp enrollment, claiming food stamps are "teaching people to be dependent." You can expect those moans to grow louder. But they, like many other commentators are missing the point. Growing dependency is not the issue here. It's growing desperation -- desperation great enough to overcome the deep reluctance among many Americans about using stigmitized safety net programs.

Everyone’s food stamp narrative concentrates on unemployment as the cause of the increase in SNAP enrollment. In 2007, before the housing and financial crises unleashed almost double-digit unemployment, 11.8 million households relied on food stamps. As of May 2011, 21.6 million households pay the grocery bill with food stamps. More unemployment, greater eligibility, more food stamp use.

This is indeed too simple a story. SNAP is a means tested program, meaning eligibility is determined based upon income. The threshold for 4-person families is a gross income of $28,668, or 130 percent of the poverty line. In 2007, roughly 30 percent of American households were eligible for food stamps. That is equal to over 33 million families. In 2009, when unemployment reached a high of 9.9 percent, roughly 33 million families were eligible (calculated using the Census Bureau's Household Income distribution). The same number as two years earlier! more

Is Your State Stealthily Privatizing Medicaid and Putting Patients at Risk?

There have long been moves to privatize the management of Medicaid, but with shock-doctrine austerity hawks making as much mileage from their budget crises as possible, this year has seen an especially strong push to privatize the heath care of low-income and disabled Medicaid users at a state level. All across the country in states like Texas, New York, Louisiana, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina and Kentucky, state governments are stealthily privatizing Medicaid by handing over the money they get from the federal government to private contractors -- sometimes with minimal savings to the states themselves. It’s all part of a broader trend called “managed care” or “co-ordinated care” -- deceptively bureaucratic terms for a turn with sometimes deadly consequences for Medicaid patients.

Figures recently published by the Commonwealth Fund, show that the percentage of people receiving Medicaid who are signed up through publicly traded HMOs has increased nationally from 19.6 percent in 2009 to 27.1 percent in June this year. This is set to increase this year by at least 1.7 million new people, bringing Medicaid patients in privatized health plans to a record 29.8 percent. more

Systemic Risk Returns: Is the Current Crisis Worse Than the Lehman Collapse?

n the January 2011 Economic Outlook, "Liftoff or Cold Shower? The Economy in 2011," I suggested that the extra fiscal stimulus from the federal tax cuts late in 2010 could, along with the Federal Reserve's second round of quantitative easing (QE2), produce 4 percent growth during the first half of 2011. I added, however, that if the stimulus measures enacted in 2010 failed to generate sustained growth, the US economy could face a cold shower in 2012. The stimulus measures did fail during the first half of 2011, stock markets have dropped sharply, and we do indeed have a severely cold shower already in the summer of 2011. The risks to global economic health from this possible financial collapse are as bad as or perhaps worse than those that emerged in September 2008 with the Lehman Brothers crisis because policymakers have few tools left to combat a new crisis.

Key points in this Outlook:

The United States is close to another recession: the first-half growth rate is 0.7 percent and employment growth is weak.
Current conditions point to a threat of systemic risk: the sudden shock of the US financial crisis, interconnections between the US economy and the European financial system, and the absence of viable policy solutions.
We need good economics over politics, now more than ever. That means sensible tax reform, a Fed focus on maintaining liquidity, and rationalization of the European monetary system.

By June of 2011, with first-quarter growth reported at a 1.9 percent annual rate, employment growth sharply weaker, and second-quarter growth estimates being revised downward, it was becoming clear that the second round of monetary and fiscal policy stimulus had not significantly reenergized the US economy. Sharply higher energy prices and supply-side disruptions from Japan's March tsunami were partially to blame, but even as energy prices fell and Japanese production began to recover, US and European growth continued to slow.

In Europe, the sovereign-debt crisis intensified and spread to larger countries, including Spain and Italy, while the exposure of European banks to claims on weakening sovereign bonds increased uncertainty and weakened growth as banks eschewed additional lending. The exposure of American banks and money market funds to an increasingly unstable European financial system compounded US financial uncertainty. more

US stroke rates 'rising in young'

More children and young adults in the US are having strokes - with unhealthy lifestyles being a likely cause, scientists have said.

Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysed hospital data on up to eight million patients a year between 1995 and 2008.

In Annals of Neurology, they say stroke rates in five to 44-year-olds rose by about a third in under 10 years.

Higher blood pressure, diabetes and obesity were common in stroke patients.

The researchers looked at figures for ischemic stroke, due to blood clots, and haemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding on the brain.

The rate of ischemic stroke increased by 31% in five to 14-year-olds, from 3.2 strokes per 10,000 hospital cases to 4.2 per 10,000.

There were increases of 30% for people aged 15 to 34 and 37% in patients between the ages of 35 and 44.

In all age groups the increase was greater in men than in women. more

Blue Nile: Sudan forces battle former SPLM rebels

Fighting has broken out in Sudan's Blue Nile state - the third border area to see clashes since South Sudan's independence in July.

The party of Blue Nile Governor Malik Agar said soldiers had attacked his official residence. The army blamed the fighting on Mr Agar's forces.

He heads the opposition SPLM-North party and is an ex-commander of the rebels who now govern South Sudan.

Some 200,000 have fled their homes in neighbouring South Kordofan.

The government has denied charges its forces have carried out ethnic cleansing in the area against groups seen as being pro-south.

On Tuesday, Sudan's government lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council, accusing South Sudan governing party of backing rebels in South Kordofan, which the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) denies.

There has also been fighting in Abyei, which is claimed by both sides. more

Banks may face lawsuit over U.S. mortgages: At last!

A U.S. agency is planning to sue more than a dozen banks, alleging they misrepresented the quality of mortgage securities they packaged and sold to investors before the 2008 financial crisis, the New York Times reports.

The yet-to be filed suit will target Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and others, the newspaper reported, citing three unnamed sources.

The FHFA, which was created in July 2008, is expected to argue that the banks failed to do due diligence and missed evidence that borrowers' stated income was either inflated or falsified.

The newspaper said the regulator will seek billions of dollars in compensation. more

Turkey expels Israeli ambassador over Gaza flotilla row

Turkey has expelled Israel's ambassador and suspended all military agreements over its refusal to apologise for last year's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

This comes a day after a leaked UN report said Israeli commandos used excessive force when they boarded an aid ship. Nine Turkish activists died.

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said it was "time Israel pays a price for its illegal actions".

Israel has refused to apologise and said its troops acted in self-defence.

"Israel, like any other country, has a legitimate right to protect its citizens and soldiers," an Israeli government official told the BBC.

"Israel has made many attempts in the recent months to settle the dispute between our countries. Unfortunately these attempts were unsuccessful." more

US economy: No new jobs added in August

The US economy added no net new jobs in August, according to the key non-farm payrolls figures from the Department of Labor.

The August number was much worse than had been expected - the predicted figure was an addition of about 70,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged from July at 9.1%.

In addition, the figures for the previous two months were revised down to show weaker jobs growth.

The Labor Department now says that in July 85,000 jobs were created, down from 117,000 in the earlier estimate, while the number of jobs added in June was revised down from 46,000 to 20,000.

"Companies that are overall doing OK are hesitating to hire and invest further, creating some fragility for the economy," Virginie Maisonneuve, head of global equities at Schroders told BBC News.

"We will need some help from the Fed and the government to avoid a recession." more

Space junk at tipping point, says report

Scientists in the US have warned Nasa that the amount of so-called space junk orbiting Earth is at tipping point.

A report by the National Research Council says the debris could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites.

It calls for international regulations to limit the junk and more research into the possible use of launching large magnetic nets or giant umbrellas.

The debris includes clouds of minuscule fragments, old boosters and satellites.

Some computer models show the amount of orbital rubbish "has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures," the research council said in a statement on Thursday. more

Gulf storm could bring heavy rains, near hurricane intensity, to coast

A slow-moving tropical system with the potential to douse summer-ending beach plans and bring up to 20 inches of rain and flooding to parts of the Gulf Coast could reach near-hurricane intensity before making landfall, the National Hurricane Center said Friday.

The storm, which still fell short of tropical storm status late Friday morning, was likely to reach land in the next 48 hours, forecasters said.

The storm is moving slowly over warm waters, and atmospheric conditions that are limiting its development should become more favorable to strengthening over the next 24 hours, the weather service said.

The storm was barely moving Friday morning, inching northward at 2 mph. At 11 a.m. CT it was located 190 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and had winds of 35 mph, the Hurricane Center reported. Rain was beginning to fall across much of southeastern Louisiana, the weather service said. more

Police grab $2 million worth of cars after Canadian street race

This could be the plot for a movie, "Fast and Furious Canada," or maybe "Fast and Furious, the Young and the Rich."

Police in British Columbia say they impounded $2 million worth of high-end vehicles this week after witnesses reported the 13 cars racing on a metro Vancouver highway at speeds of 125 mph (200 kph).

The high-end race cars included a Ferrari, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, an Audi, an Aston Martin, Nissans and a Mercedes, according to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police press release.

Two of the racers would run side-by-side to block other traffic going in their direction on the highway while the others cars would take off in a race, witnesses told the RCMP.

"These drivers seemed to be looking for attention. Well, they definitely got the attention of police," Cpl. Holly Marks, spokesperson for the Lower Mainland District Regional Police Service, said in the press release.

What the racers, who police said are all under age 21, won't get is harsh punishment. more

Tiny Japanese Kabuki robot: Awesome!

Stocks sink worldwide after dismal US jobs report

Stocks tumbled early Friday after the government reported no job growth in August, stoking fears that the United States may be headed into another recession.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) slid 204 points, or 1.8%, with financial stocks leading the sell-off. Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) fell 6%, and JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) shed almost 4%.

The selling was broad, with all 30 Dow issues firmly in the red. Only a handful of S&P 500 stocks showed slight gains, including Newmont Mining (NEM, Fortune 500), Clorox (CLX, Fortune 500) and Cephalon (CEPH).

The S&P 500 (SPX) lost 22 points, or 1.8%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (COMP) dropped 39 points, or 1.5%. more

Israeli settlers prepare for September: Will Palestinian state cause a war?

Debt after death: Banks chase down mourners

Nobody wants to remember a deceased family member by the debt they left behind, but many creditors certainly make it difficult to forget.

Denise Townley was appalled when she received a letter from her mother's credit card issuer less than two weeks after her mother passed away.

"We have recently learned that [your mother], a valued Discover Card customer, has passed away. Please accept our sincere apologies," stated the letter from Discover, which Townley sent to CNNMoney.

It then offered her or another family member the "opportunity" to assume the balance on her mother's credit card and offered a special introductory APR of 0% for the first six months (the APR would increase to 13.24% after that). If Townley wasn't interested in taking over the account, then the bank wished to discuss how the estate planned to pay off her mother's credit card balance. more

Firefighters responding to 9/11 at increased cancer risk: Does anyone care?

Firefighters exposed to toxic dust and fumes clogging the air after the World Trade Center towers collapsed 10 years ago are more likely to develop cancer, according to a new study.

When compared with firefighters who did not work at ground zero, firefighters working the pile were 19% more likely to get a cancer diagnosis.

According to the research, published Thursday in the Lancet medical journal, the increase occurred during the first seven years after 9/11.

"We excluded cancers that might have been diagnosed early (that may have existed before the attack) ... and we still see a 19% increase," said Dr. David Prezant, chief medical officer at the New York City Fire Department and the study's lead author, in a recent interview with CNN. "When we put those cancers back in, we see a 32% increase."

It is an unexpected finding considering that for most cancers, the latency period -- the time between exposure to a carcinogen and expression of disease -- tends to span decades. more

White House: Slower jobs recovery ahead (if at all)

Like most economists, the White House's budget experts have grown less optimistic about economic growth and jobs, having been sobered by recent developments such as the debt crisis in Europe and continued troubles in housing.

The White House budget office forecast Thursday that the unemployment rate won't fall below 6% until 2017 -- two years later than it predicted in February, when President Obama delivered his 2012 budget proposal to Congress.

The Office of Management and Budget also lowered its estimates for annual GDP growth by roughly a percentage point for this year, next year and 2013. Its forecasts for 2015 and 2016 are somewhat higher than they were.

OMB said in its "mid-session review" that it now expects the economy to grow at a 1.7% rate this year, down from its 2.7% forecast in February. more

Report: Manufacturers lost track of more than 16,000 guns since 2009 -- and that's actually underguessing it

Thousands of firearms have gone missing from manufacturers' inventories since 2009 "without a record of being legally sold," according to a report released Thursday by a gun control advocacy group.

The report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence put the number of missing weapons at 16,485.

"It is shocking that gun makers are so oblivious to public safety that they lose track of thousands of guns every year," Henigan, acting president of the Brady Center, said in a statement. "Given the lethality of its product, the gun industry has a special duty to act responsibly. Instead, it has a scandalous record of carelessness."

The Brady Center report suggests that some guns may never have had serial numbers stamped into them, making them virtually impossible to trace. The group says that the missing guns are often used by criminals precisely because they are so hard to trace.

The report does not mention which manufacturers are reported to having missing firearms. The Brady Center says the data was collected from a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report that was presented to the gun industry last month.

But the report also states that ATF conducts their compliance examinations at only about 20% of gun dealers and manufacturers each year, and says as a result, "The 16,485 'missing' guns are likely a vast undercount of the total number of guns that disappeared from gun manufacturers in the last two and a half years." more

Kurdish activists clash with police in Istanbul



Mounting tensions between the government and members of Turkey's Kurdish ethnic minority erupted on the streets of the country's largest city Thursday, after Kurdish activists clashed with riot police at a protest organized by the main Kurdish nationalist political party.

Scores of Kurdish youths, many of them covering their face with bandannas, hurled stones and petrol bombs as security forces fired tear gas to try to disperse the crowds in Istanbul.

Amid the chaos near the banks of the Marmara Sea, a CNN producer witnessed a man collapse, apparently overwhelmed by the clouds of noxious tear gas. Nearby, flowers littered the pavement where a women's flower stand had been overturned.

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Turkey's main Kurdish political party, organized rallies in Istanbul and other Turkish cities Thursday to mark "World Peace Day."

But the rallies come within weeks of a fresh Turkish military bombing campaign of Kurdish separatist rebels who have long operated out of camps and bases across the border in Northern Iraq. more

Virginia quake may have exceeded nuclear power plant’s design: Real reason why magnitude was downgraded?

The historic earthquake that shut down Dominion Resources Inc's North Anna nuclear plant last week may have exceeded what the reactor was designed to withstand, the U.S. nuclear regulator said on Monday.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it has dispatched an additional team of inspectors to the Virginia plant that was rocked by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake last week, after initial reviews from Dominion indicated the ground motion may have went beyond the plant's design.

The North Anna plant can not be restarted until the operator can show that no "functional damage" occurred to equipment needed for the safe operation, the NRC said.

"The company and the NRC will continue to carefully evaluate information to determine if additional actions may be necessary," the regulator said in a statement. more

Simulation Map of Cesium-137 Deposition Across the Pacific by CEREA Shows Contamination in US Greater Than That of Western Japan

France's CEREA has the simulation map of ground deposition of cesium-137 from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident on its "Fukushima" page. It not only shows Japan but also the entire northern Pacific Rim, from Russian Siberia to Alaska to the West Coast of the US to the entire US.

According to the map, the US, particularly the West Coast and particularly California, may be more contaminated with radioactive cesium than the western half of Japan or Hokkaido. It looks more contaminated than South Korea or China. Canada doesn't look too well either, particularly along the border with US on the western half.

From CEREA's Fukushima page:

Atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides from the Fukushima-Daichii nuclear power plant

CEREA, joint laboratory École des Ponts ParisTech and EdF R&D
Victor Winiarek, Marc Bocquet, Yelva Roustan, Camille Birman, Pierre Tran

Map of ground deposition of caesium-137 for the Fukushima-Daichii accident.

The simulation was performed with a specific version of the numerical atmospheric chemistry and transport model Polyphemus/Polair3D. The parametrisations used for the transport and physical removal of the radionuclides are described in [1,2,3,4].

The magnitude of the deposition field is uncertain and the simulated values of deposited radionuclides could be significantly different from the actual deposition. In particular, the source term remains uncertain. Therefore, these results should be seen as preliminary and they are likely to be revised as new information become available to better constrain the source term and when radionuclides data can be used to evaluate the model simulation results. more

Next Global Financial Crisis Looms

Finance analysts are predicting that the world is on the verge of yet another financial meltdown and will be tipped off by the credit default of a European country or the rejection of a central bank in the interbank borrowing market. The resulting panic will set a global collapse in motion that will rival or surpass that seen in 2008. Experts say the problem will be exacerbated by central banks’ inability to take on more sovereign debt. Printing money devalues their debt, and borrowing from beleaguered countries to lend to distressed banks only increases suspect debt. This could cause banks to stop lending to one another and the entire system may freeze. For more on this continue reading the following article from Money Morning.

Fears of a banking crisis and rolling contagion are making global stock and bond markets extraordinarily volatile - and with good reason.

Another financial meltdown, on par with what we saw in 2008, is looming large on the horizon.

One of two potential triggers could ignite a new banking crisis, a rapid contagion, and a second financial meltdown:

-- One or more of the troubled European countries could default outright.
-- Or a major money center bank could be turned away from the interbank borrowing market by its peers.

The panic resulting from either catalyst could start at any time.

And it would spread like wildfire. more

Jobless Claims Stuck Above 400,000, Productivity Falls

Stock futures are rallying for some strange reason, though the morning’s plate of economic data was sort of ugly.

Jobless claims came in at 409,000, just a little higher than the 407,000 economists expected. The prior week’s claims were revised up, as they always are, to 421,000 from 417,000. This level of claims is really too high and indicates the job market isn’t healthy, even if it’s not quite on its deathbed.

Second quarter productivity was revised down to a decline of 0.7%, the biggest drop since the fourth quarter of 2008, from a first reading of -0.3%. It has fallen for two quarters in a row, for the first time since the end of 2008. (See correction below.)

Some might say that falling productivity, which is output per worker hour, could be good if it means businesses are going to hire more people. But falling productivity is really hard to spin as great news. It’s bad for living standards, raises inflation risks and hurts corporate profits. more

Libyan Rebels Detain / Execute Black Africans As Suspected Gaddafi Mercenaries (even the innocent migrant workers)

Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and holding them in makeshift jails across the capital.

Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers, and in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying. But that is not stopping the rebels from placing the men in facilities like the Gate of the Sea sports club, where about 200 detainees – all black – clustered on a soccer field this week, bunching against a high wall to avoid the scorching sun.

Handling the prisoners is one of the first major tests for the rebel leaders, who are scrambling to set up a government that they promise will respect human rights and international norms, unlike the dictatorship they overthrew.

The rebels' National Transitional Council has called on fighters not to abuse prisoners and says those accused of crimes will receive fair trials.There has been little credible evidence of rebels killing or systematically abusing captives during the six-month conflict. Still, the African Union and Amnesty International have protested the treatment of blacks inside Libya, saying there is a potential for serious abuse. more

U.S. "Feral Reserve Boink" Reels Into The Jubilee Year

Oh, did I misspell U.S. Federal Reserve Bank? You'll have to excuse me. I'm feeling a little dizzy this afternoon, because it is all unraveling so fast now. The world of high finance is cracking apart, outright falling apart. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank is failing, mostly because the U.S. Federal Reserve Note is rapidly losing value, mostly due to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank's own criminally stupid, criminally inept and criminally corrupt policies, and since the Federal Reserve Note is essentially its one and only product, its bread and butter, the whole criminal cabal is destined for the ash heap of history, and soon. Consequently, by Christmastime the USA and most of the rest of the world are likely to be in a chaotic uproar, much more so than now. We'll be lucky if these monsters-pretending-to-be-humans do not stage a notorious "false flag" terrorist attack in Paris or Montreal or Chicago or …. you name the place, and use that as a trumped up casus belli to go after Iran and initiate a general, global war, likely nuclear, in a desperate, Strangelovian bid to fight their way out of terminal, imperial collapse.

There are a lot of reasons for why this financial collapse is happening, but the most important is that we are rapidly approaching the dramatic conclusion of a grand, multi-thousand year cycle, the End of the Age. Swedish analyst and commentator Carl Calleman has written about this from the perspective of his interpretation of the Mayan Calendar. His calculations indicate that events will build to a crescendo and climax on 28 October, as the Mayan calendar ends, just a little over two months from now, with continued economic turmoil in the interim period. more

12ft Great White shark pictured in San Diego wave just feet away from oblivious surfers - 2nd Sept 2011

As Labor Day weekend begins, many will be planning family trips to the beach.

Although, for those in San Diego, this picture might make them think twice.

A terrifying photograph shows the moment a Great White shark was spotted in a wave in Encinitas, California - just a few feet away from completely oblivious surfers. Read More

Could giant umbrellas, nets harpoons and magnets capture the cloud of space junk scientists warn risks trapping us on Earth? - 2nd Sept 2011

The amount of space junk orbiting earth has reached a 'tipping point' where continual collisions are thickening the already dense cloud shrouding the Earth, a Nasa report has revealed.

In practical terms, it means that the amount of junk floating around the planet will make it increasingly difficult for spacecraft to leave the planet, effectively trapping us on earth.

It also poses 'potentially catastrophic risk' to astronauts, satellites and the International Space Station.

'We've lost control of the environment,' said retired Nasa senior scientist Donald Kessler, who authored the report.

There are 22,000 objects in orbit that are big enough for officials on the ground to track and countless more smaller ones that could do damage to human-carrying spaceships and valuable satellites.

It is estimated that there are as may as 370,000 pieces of space junk floating in Earth's orbit, traveling at speeds of up to 22,000 mph.

Several solutions to retrieving or moving the space junk were put forward in an earlier report called 'Catcher's Mitt', by a Defense Department science think-tank.

It mentions giant cosmic versions of harpoons, nets, tethers, magnets and even a giant dish or umbrella-shaped device that would sweep up tiny pieces of debris. Read More