Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dangerous New Phase for World Economy

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Largarde, said Friday the world economy is entering a “dangerous new phase.” Lagarde is referring to a debt bubble, the likes of which the planet has never seen before, and the possibility that it could all unravel at any moment. Uncertainty over the debt crisis in Europe is what caused the Dow to crash more than 300 points at the end of last week. What is Lagarde going to do about the debt problem? A CNBC story reported, “She warned that both advanced and emerging economies faced key economic challenges, and that governments must ‘act now’ to stop further contagion. ‘Policymakers should stand ready, as needed, to take more action to support the recovery, including through unconventional measures,’ Lagarde said.” (Click here to read the complete CNBC story.) Lagarde is surely talking about revving up the global printing presses for more bailouts.

Meanwhile, the Germans are talking about letting countries like Greece go bankrupt. Another CNBC story yesterday said, “Even senior figures in Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) are leaving open the possibility of default. ‘The way things are looking, you can no longer rule out a possible Greek restructuring,’ CDU budget expert Norbert Barthle told Reuters, when asked about a default or euro zone exit.” (Click here for more on this CNBC story.) So which is it? Will it be bailout or default? Who knows, maybe a little of both before it is all over. more

Time to start adapting to climate change, scientists say

Researchers from countries across the European Union have compiled a synthesis of data distilled from the findings of hundreds of EU reports into climate change and its impact on marine systems. They also conducted a survey of 10,000 people in ten different European countries to establish exactly how much information from previous studies has entered the public consciousness.

What the scientists discovered is that while there is widespread concern over rising sea levels and coastal erosion, there is far less understanding of issues such as ocean acidification, and equally little sense of how best to adapt to the problems inherent in the waters which lap at Europe's shores.

John Pinnegar, Programme Director of Marine Climate Change at the UK-based Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, told Deutsche Welle that people have got the message about reducing energy consumption, but have not begun to think outside the box in terms of trying to keep pace with change already afoot. more

Gaddafi calls on UN to protect Sirte from rebels

Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday received a copy of the latest message sent by ousted Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in which he called on the UN to stop the “terrorism and aggression being practiced by NATO against Sirte.” He added that “this aggression is indescribable and unprecedented in the history of warfare.”

In his message to the UN Secretary-General, Gaddafi also said that “although Sirte is isolated from the world and is the scene of [NATO] atrocities, the world should not be isolated from it” adding that “the world has a duty not to be absent; the world must bear its international responsibility and intervene immediately to stop these crimes.”

Asharq Al-Awsat received this message via e-mail from Gaddafi official spokesman Mousa Ibrahim. A similar message was also read out on Gaddafi’s behalf on Syria-based Al-Rai TV, although it was not apparent that this message was addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

The ousted Libyan leader referred to himself as “Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of the Al-Fateh Revolution of September” in the message, but did not reveal his current whereabouts, or where he wrote, or indeed sent, this message from.

Gaddafi also stressed that “we cannot surrender Libya to colonialism again…the Libyan people have no option but to fight until they score victory and defeat colonialism.” more

Report reveals S. Korea's psy-ops against N. Korea

South Korea's military operates giant trucks which print and send thousands of leaflets and transmit broadcasts as part of psychological warfare against North Korea, said a report disclosed Wednesday.

North Korea, which tightly controls news from outside, has responded angrily to past propaganda campaigns by the South's military or private groups and threatened to fire across the heavily fortified border to stop such campaigns.

Details of South Korea's military psychological operations (psy-ops) unit emerged in a defence ministry report to Song Young-Sun, a member of parliament's defence committee.

An aide to Song gave the report to AFP. The defence ministry declined comment to AFP, saying information on psychological warfare is confidential.

The South has five-ton trucks equipped with a satellite data receiver and a printer to publish up to 80,000 leaflets a day, and giant helium balloons to carry leaflets into its isolated communist neighbour, the report said. more

Spain raises taxes on the rich as nation's finances wobble

Spain today became the latest European country to hike taxes on the wealthy, with a new asset-based tax targeting the country's richest people.

Spain's socialist government hopes that the new wealth tax will raise up to €1bn in a country where growth is grinding to a halt and this year's 6% deficit target looks increasingly tough to meet.

The move represents a U-turn for prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who abolished a similar wealth tax in 2008 — just before the country plunged towards recession.

"The economic crisis makes it necessary to bring this tax back, applying principles of fairness so that those with bigger assets can be taxed and so those who have greater wealth can contribute more to getting the country out of the crisis," a finance ministry statement said.

Spaniards with €700,000 of assets in real estate – excluding their main home – as well as in stocks and bank deposit will have to pay the new tax.

"It excludes the middle classes, who were the ones who had been largely affected by it when it was eliminated in 2008," the statement said. more

High Levels of Carcinogens in Dry-Cleaning, Study Shows

Georgetown researchers have found that perchloroethylene (PCE), a potentially carcinogenic dry cleaning solvent, is retained in dry-cleaned clothes made of polyester, cotton or wool.

The levels increase with repeat cleanings, according to the researchers, whose work appeared Aug. 30 online in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.

“The question is, can the levels of PCE we find be absorbed through the skin or inhaled in quantities large enough to harm people,” says Georgetown professor Paul Roepe, who supervised the study. “We don’t have the complete answers to those questions, but I think we know enough to suggest that more studies should be done very quickly.”

The Georgetown study is the first to quantify the amounts of PCE in dry-cleaned clothing, according to Roepe, a professor in Georgetown’s chemistry department as well as the biochemistry and molecular & cellular biology department.

Human PCE exposure has been linked to elevated risk of cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has labeled PCE a likely carcinogen.

The researchers found that PCE, absorbed through inhalation, mouth or skin contact, is slowly emitted from dry-cleaned fabrics even when wrapped in dry plastic wrap.

In a warm, closed environment such as inside a car or a closet, the chemicals could be expelled at an even greater rate, the study’s authors say. more

Mass starvation of dugongs and turtles on Great Barrier Reef

A sudden mass starvation of turtles and dugongs, a rare sea mammal, off the coast of Queensland has prompted warnings of a long-term natural disaster in the normally sheltered waters just inshore of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Along hundreds of miles of beaches and on the shore of small islands, the rotting carcasses of green turtles and dugongs have are being washed ashore in alarming numbers - victims, scientists believe, of the after effects of the cyclone and floods that have afflicted this part of Australia in the past year.

Now naturalists fear that up to 1,500 dugongs – a species of sea cows – and 6,000 turtles along the Reef are likely to die in the coming months because their main food source, sea grass, which grows on the ocean floor, was largely wiped out by the floods and cyclone.

In some places the plants were ripped from the seabed by currents created by the storms and in others they were inundated under silt and soil washed out from the land by the torrential rains.

Beachgoers have reported stumbling across groups of turtles in shallow waters near Townsville – only to discover they were dead or dying.

"This is a long-term environmental disaster," said Dr Ellen Ariel, a turtle expert at James Cook University.

"It is not like an oil spill where you can clean the water and move on. It is such a large stretch of coastline... We have had mass strandings of turtles. The turtles are sick and starving and can't go on any longer. They don't have anywhere to go."

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says it expects more dugongs to die than in any previous event. more

Northwest Passage open as sea ice falls to lowest cover ever recorded

Arctic sea ice cover fell to its lowest level on record, report researchers from the University of Bremen.

Analyzing data from NASA's Aqua satellite, Georg Heygster and colleagues found that Arctic sea ice fell to a record low of 4.24 million square kilometers on September 8, about 27,000 square kilometers than the previous record set roughly four years ago.

Heygster said this year's mark is "most probably" the lowest Arctic sea ice extent "since the last climate optimum about 8,000 years ago." He added that the record could be extended if sea ice continues to melt in coming weeks. Sea ice is no longer melting from the surface; instead if it melting from underneath due to warmer water below.

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which tracks sea ice using a different methology, is expected to release an update on sea ice extent later this month. Its last update showed sea ice coverage at 4.3 million square kilometers.

Melting of sea ice opened the Northwest Passage to navigation again this summer. The ice retreat has set off a scramble between Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark, Sweden and Norway which are all seeking to claim rights to the Arctic's rich mineral and gas deposits.

Sea ice hits its nadir in September before rebounding during the long Arctic winter. The loss of sea ice in the Arctic, which imperils a number of key species, has been widely linked to climate change resulting global greenhouse gas emissions.

"The sea ice retreat can no more be explained with the natural variability from one year to the next," said a statement from the University of Bremen. "Climate models show rather, that the reduction is related to the man-made global warming." more

ABC News reporter discovers that UFOs may indeed be real (An important repost -- What else are we missing out on?)

Nintendo faces end of era after 3DS flop: One after another, Japanese companies begin to wobble

Nintendo's attempt to rescue its failed 3DS handheld games gadget failed to dispel market gloom, triggering a 5 percent share slide and stoking deep worries for an iconic brand desperate to win back users.

On Tuesday, President Satoru Iwata introduced what he said was an unprecedented range of games, aimed at attracting everyone from hardcore gamers to fashion-conscious girls and fans of the long-running Mario series.

The Japanese company also announced on its website a new 1,500 yen ($19) slidepad accessory needed for certain games.

But analysts and investors dismissed the line-up as lackluster and largely irrelevant in the face of cheap or free games played on the likes of Apple's iPhone and iPad and Google-powered Android devices.

Nintendo has been criticized for sticking rigidly to its own hardware, meaning it has no access to the new generation of mobile devices.

"I don't think the new games will make any difference," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment.

"Nintendo succeeded by pulling in people who weren't gamers and their needs now are no longer being filled by Nintendo, they are happy playing games on their mobile phones," he said. more

Euro-Zone Exit Scenarios: Germany Plans for Possible Greek Default

Herman Van Rompuy is an influential man in Europe. He is already president of the European Council, the assembly of the European Union's heads of state and government. Soon he will also serve as the chief representative of the euro zone, if all goes according to plan.

Van Rompuy's new role as "Mr. Euro" is a highly prestigious position. German Chancellor Angela Merkel thinks highly of the unassuming Belgian politician, who conceals a propensity for toughness and efficiency behind his seemingly humble appearance.

One of Merkel's European counterparts felt the brunt of Van Rompuy's unconventional charm last Monday, when he took Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou to task in a telephone conversation. The representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), known as the troika, had left the crisis-ridden country in protest a few days earlier, because the Greek government had, once again, circumvented agreements it had made.

We have a problem, Van Rompuy said at the beginning of the conversation. Unless Greece delivers, he told Papandreou, the next tranche of aid would not be paid. Papandreou understood immediately: Van Rompuy was telling him the Europeans were on the verge of cutting off funding to his country.

A lot of people in Europe are displeased with Greece at the moment. "We cannot be satisfied with the latest reports from Greece," an irritated Chancellor Merkel said last week. "The troika mission must be continued and brought to a positive conclusion," said German Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Even Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker, normally not one to engage in fearmongering, took Greece's prime minister to task on the phone. "Things are not moving at the right pace in Greece," he said after the conversation. "There are no results." more

Ex-FBI agent: Dysfunction led to 9/11

Former counterterrorism officer accuses CIA of withholding intelligence before terror attacks

WASHINGTON: This is not easy news to digest. FBI agent Ali Soufan has written a memoir about his days as a counterterrorism expert from 1997 to 2005, during which he was heavily involved in the struggle against Al-Qaeda.

Soufan recounts his experiences at the heart of high-profile terror investigations, and says the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture on detainees was unnecessary and counterproductive.

The book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda, co-written with by Daniel Freedman, a colleague at Soufan’s New York security company, went on sale on Monday (Sept. 12).

Before his retirement, Soufan for years was the FBI’s lead agent in the war against Al-Qaeda, as well as its most effective interrogator, which is one reason why his book has become an instant attraction here.

Soufan accuses the CIA of insisting on scores of redactions, he says, are not justified on security grounds but are aimed at undermining an account that reflects badly on the agency.

He also blames CIA officials, who he says deliberately withheld crucial documents of Al-Qaeda operatives from the FBI, on the lack of action against two of the 9/11 hijackers which allegedly could have helped thwart the 9/11 attack. more

Peruvian Family Tells UN: We Own Machu Picchu

Talk about a property dispute: A Peruvian family says it owns the land of the Machu Picchu ruins, and is taking the case to the United Nations. Seventy-year-old Edgar Echegaray Abril still has the sale deed showing that his family bought the land with gold in 1910. Yes, they sold it to another family in 1944, but not the ruins—which were being expropriated by the state. And the state never paid up, Abril tells the Telegraph .

"In Peru, as in international law, if the property is not expropriated from you, you don't lose it," says a lawyer for the Abrils. So they're asking the UN agency UNESCO to settle the case by pressuring Peruvian officials. The Zavaleta family, who bought the Abrils' land in 1944, are also claiming compensation—for a 22,000-hectare swath in Machu Picchu Archaeological Park. At least so far, Peru isn't biting, and says Machu Picchu "belongs to all Peruvians." source

The new face of the U.S. post office: Broke, small, and mini-mall-ish



The post office in the tiny Washington town of Malone sells beer and cigarettes. Live worms for fishing, too. The boxes for fixed-rate shipping are wedged between racks of beef jerky and $6.99 sunglasses.

The Malone location is what the U.S. Postal Service has dubbed a "village" post office. It's inside Red's Hop N' Market, the town mini-mart where locals like to buy lottery tickets and a case of beer before the weekend.

It's the only village post office in the country, but soon a similar hybrid may be coming to a town near you.

As the Postal Service buckles under a $9 billion debt, the mail agency has looked for ways to slash operating costs.

"The primary thing we look at is how much revenue they (post offices) generate (and) has that revenue been going down," said Ernie Swanson, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Seattle.

"(At) a lot of these offices, there's a postmaster and no other employee. So do they have an hour or two of work a day, and we are paying them for eight hours?" more

Turkey positions itself as heart of the Arab world: Emerging power?

Turkey's prime minister planted himself at the heart of the Arab world's turbulent politics on Tuesday, when he declared himself a champion of the Palestinian cause during a speech at the headquarters of the League of Arab States.

"Our Palestinian brothers should declare an independent state," Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced to an assembly of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

"Now is the time to have the Palestinian flag in Gaza, and the Palestinian flag should go to the United Nations," Erdogan said to applause from the audience. "Let us hoist the Palestinian flag to the sky, and this should be a symbol of justice and peace in the Middle East."

Erdogan put an end to decades of relative Turkish isolation from the Arab world. During a speech that sought to highlight shared history, values and faith, he frequently referred to Arabs as "brothers."

He also addressed the sweeping political changes that are rapidly transforming many Arab countries by repeating his endorsement of the rebel Transitional National Council in Libya, which recently captured the capital of Tripoli. more

Akane Ito, sobbing girl in Japan tsunami picture that moved the world, doing better now


Akane Ito still cannot bring herself back to the place where she became a symbol for the human misery in the aftermath of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Ito appeared in a photo on the front page of the March 14 Asahi Shimbun. She was shown sitting, barefoot and sobbing against a background of destruction and debris, in the Yuriage district of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture. The picture would later appear in newspapers and magazines around the world.

Ito says she was sobbing over her dogs that were killed in the disaster.

"I kept apologizing in my mind to my dogs for not being able to protect them," Ito, 29, said, recalling the moment six months ago.

On March 13, two days after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck, Ito returned to the Yuriage district after the tsunami receded.

Her home was gone. And her 10 dogs could not be found.

Ito sat on the ground. She could not remember how long she stayed there, but she recalls not bothering to wipe away her tears.

The area was her favorite trail for walking her pets. Old men and women chatting were common sights in the area.

But all that was gone. more

We at The Coming Crisis believe we speak for everyone when we wish Akane well, are glad that she's able to begin rebuilding her life, and wish the people of Japan godspeed in emerging from their times of great challenge.

Haiti's nightmare continues: US security contractors offering "high threat terminations" (killing Haitians that get in the way), police executions

Joe Biden: Pakistan is an "unreliable ally" (Unbelievable!)

Pakistan has been an unreliable ally of the United States in the war against al Qaeda and other extremist organizations, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told CNN in an interview set to air in full Monday night.

Biden, who spoke to CNN's John King on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, said Pakistan has failed "on occasion" when forced to choose between the United States and al Qaeda.

The price of Pakistan's choices has been the "loss of life of American soldiers in Afghanistan," the vice president said. Islamabad has "been very helpful in other times," he added. "But it's not sufficient. They have to get better. We need a relationship that is born out of mutual interest. And it's in their interest that they be more cooperative with us."

"We are demanding it," he said. more

'Toddlers and Tiaras': Is TLC sexualizing 3-year-olds?

TLC's "Toddlers and Tiaras" has been mired in controversy since it debuted in 2009, and much of the distaste for the series stemmed from concerns about whether we were feeding the stage mothers' desire for attention, or about the insensitivity in taping and televising children in the middle of a meltdown or temper tantrum. But whether you think child beauty pageants are just a chance for little girls to play dress-up, or a training ground for superficial, self-centered princesses in the making, everyone should agree that sexualizing a 3-year-old little girl is wrong.

In what was likely a misguided effort to gin up publicity and ratings for the show, TLC released footage of a 3-year-old contestant dressed as the prostitute played by Julia Roberts in the 1990 film "Pretty Woman." This stupidity came just one week after TLC -- still known to many as The Learning Channel -- was forced to pull its Facebook page because of the deluge of negative comments over an episode that featured a little girl dressed up to look like Dolly Parton, complete with padded bust and buttocks.

Instead of creating ratings-friendly buzz, TLC engendered outrage among millions of parents and grandparents, who are tired of seeing children exploited for ratings and robbed of their innocence by a greedy entertainment industry that will stop at nothing to make a buck. more

Q&A: Is Greece going to default and leave the euro?

Why are the markets so worried about Greece?

Global stocks are slumping on fears Greece will default on its debts and trigger a crisis in the euro, a currency used by 17 European countries. Speculation about a possible default has increased as negotiations around the government's austerity program stutter.

Comments filtering down from politicians in Germany, the eurozone's powerhouse, have also indicated it is possible. German economy minister Philipp Rösler, leader of chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner the Free Democratic Party, wrote in German newspaper Die Welt that the orderly bankruptcy of Greece should no longer be taboo in the debate.

Markets have also been shaken by media reports that officials in Germany are working on a plan to protect the nation's banks in case of a Greek default.

Further shockwaves are being sent through the financial sector by fears French banks -- which are exposed to Greek debt -- will be downgraded.

Friday's resignation of Jurgen Stark, a member of the European Central Bank's executive board, has also raised concerns about divisions within the ECB over a controversial bond buying program the bank restarted this year. more

Italy turns to China for help in debt crisis as fears of "reverse colonization" take hold

Italy's centre-right government is turning to cash-rich China in the hope that Beijing will help rescue it from financial crisis by making "significant" purchases of Italian bonds and investments in strategic companies.

According to Italian officials, Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corp, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, led a delegation to Rome last week for talks with Giulio Tremonti, finance minister, and Italy's Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, a state-controlled entity that has established an Italian Strategic Fund open to foreign investors.

Italian officials were in Beijing two weeks ago to meet CIC and China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe), which manages the bulk of China's $3,200bn foreign exchange reserves. Vittorio Grilli, head of treasury, met Chinese investors in Beijing in August. Italian officials said further negotiations were expected to take place soon.

The possibility of Chinese investment comes at a critical moment for Italy, as markets demand increasingly high yields to buy Italian public sector debt, projected to reach 120 per cent of GDP this year, a ratio second only to Greece in the eurozone.

Mr Tremonti has written extensively in the past about his fears of China's "reverse colonisation" of Europe. But he has been driven to seek new alternatives as Europe prevaricates over strengthening its bail-out fund and the European Central Bank warns that its month-old bond-buying programme cannot go on indefinitely. In a reflection of Italy's refinancing problems, the treasury on Monday sold €11.5bn of short-term notes at higher yields. more

American heroes who get no credit: What about politicians who actually *solve* problems to avert a crisis?

Imagine that some member of Congress back in the 1990s had devoted himself or herself to toughening America against terrorism. He or she had introduced legislation to require airlines to harden their cockpit doors. After years of work, he or she at last prevailed and the new law went into effect sometime in early 2000. The 9/11 plot would have been thwarted without any American ever knowing that the plot had existed.

Question: Would we now remember that imaginary member of Congress as a person of wisdom and foresight who averted a national disaster?

Hardly. In a world in which 9/11 never happened, the people who prevented it would have gone unremembered and unthanked. Or worse. It's very possible that they would have been laughed at as tedious people who invested ridiculous amounts of energy against a probably imaginary threat -- the way, say, some laughed at the people who solved the Y2K problem about that same time.

Of all the unfairnesses in politics, the greatest unfairness is how little we reward the supreme public service: "to provide against preventable evils," in the famous phrase of the British politician, Enoch Powell.

The politicians who act after disaster reap the gratitude of the nation, like Rudy Giuliani amid the rubble of New York City.

Officials whose warnings are ignored at least gain the credit of their prophecy if the warnings come to pass. more

Pipeline Spills Put Safeguards Under Scrutiny

This summer, an Exxon Mobil pipeline carrying oil across Montana burst suddenly, soiling the swollen Yellowstone River with an estimated 42,000 gallons of crude just weeks after a company inspection and federal review had found nothing seriously wrong.

And in the Midwest, a 35-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Mich., once teeming with swimmers and boaters, remains closed nearly 14 months after an Enbridge Energy pipeline hemorrhaged 843,000 gallons of oil that will cost more than $500 million to clean up.

While investigators have yet to determine the cause of either accident, the spills have drawn attention to oversight of the 167,000-mile system of hazardous liquid pipelines crisscrossing the nation.

The little-known federal agency charged with monitoring the system and enforcing safety measures — the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration — is chronically short of inspectors and lacks the resources needed to hire more, leaving too much of the regulatory control in the hands of pipeline operators themselves, according to federal reports, an examination of agency data and interviews with safety experts.

They portray an agency that rarely levies fines and is not active enough in policing the aging labyrinth of pipelines, which has suffered thousands of significant hazardous liquid spills over the past two decades.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who oversees the pipeline agency, acknowledges weaknesses in the program and is asking Congress to pass legislation that would increase penalties for negligent operators and authorize the hiring of additional inspectors. That may be a tough sell in a Congress averse to new spending and stricter regulation.

“We need to know with great certainty that inspections and replacements have been done in a timely way that will prevent these kinds of spills from happening,” he said. more

Study reveals the many faces of terrorism

The credible but as yet unconfirmed reports that three men directed by al Qaeda have plans for an attack on the United States to coincide with the 10th anniversary of September 11 reminds us of the persistence of the threat from Islamist terrorists.

Yet our research indicates that al Qaeda and those motivated by its ideology are not the only sources of terrorism that the country faces and that terrorists across the ideological spectrum from those motivated by Osama bin Laden's ideology to neo-Nazis have managed to kill only 30 people in the United States since the attacks on Washington and New York a decade ago.

While each of those deaths is, or course, a tragedy, it is orders of magnitude smaller than the 15,000 Americans who are murdered every year.

Our study also found that Islamist terrorism has been no more deadly in the United States than other forms of domestic terrorism since September 11.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, one of the fears of ordinary citizens and terrorism experts alike was that a new wave of terrorists would strike, some of them armed with chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear materials.

Ten years later, we have yet to see an Islamist terrorist incident involving such weapons in the United States, and no Islamist militant in this country has made a documented attempt to even acquire such devices. more

How 9-11 eroded our shared faith and American identity

I grew up in an interfaith home where I learned, despite what some on the far right allege today, that Islam and Christianity have much in common. My father was Muslim and born in the 1930s in what was then known as Palestine. My mother is Italian (Sicilian, to be accurate) and proudly Christian.

My family was the embodiment of the American Dream: An immigrant father and first generation mother of differing ethnicities and faiths, who did more than just co-exist: They flourished.

Our mini "melting pot" succeeded because we focused on the commonalities between Islam and Christianity, the most obvious being that we worship the same God. How could we not? After all, we share almost identical prophets such as Moses, Abraham and Jesus.

My Muslim cousins would even celebrate Christmas with us every year - -not only to be social, but because there's a religious basis. To Muslims, Jesus is a prophet referred to in the Quran as "The Messiah," born of the Virgin Mary, who was herself born of immaculate conception.

Growing up in North Jersey in the 1980s, no one expressed any issues with our heritage or faith. In fact, in third grade my teacher asked me to bring my father to school for "show and tell" so the students could meet an Arab Muslim man. I can only imagine if this event was replicated today, some would protest, claiming my father was there trying to spread sharia law or convert the children to Islam. more

Four earthquakes hit Russia's Kuril Islands within 2 hours - 17th Sept 2011

Four earthquakes were registered nearby the Kuril Islands in Russia's Far East, a spokesman of the Ministry of Emergency Situations in Sakhalin region said on Saturday.

"The first earthquake of 7.1 magnitude was registered at 6:35 Sakhalin time (12:35 GMT) 460 km south-east of the city of Yuzhno-Kurilsk. Three earthquakes of 5.8, 6 and 5.9 magnitude were reported at 7:10, 8:09 and 8:38 (Sakhalin time), respectively," the spokesman told RIA Novosti.

Epicenters were located in the Pacific Ocean and the earthquakes were not felt in the region.

There is no tsunami threat, said the spokesman. Source

NOTE: This was brought to our attention by a reader, I have yet to confirm this information to be correct and will be checking the stations and hopefully have confirmation regarding these quakes soon.

UPDATE; I have checked the Stations, these 4 Earthquakes are the earthquakes which hit in succession off the East Coast of Honshu on the 16th September 2011. The article from above is incorrect.

Pakistani officials say U.S. drone falls on tribal region - 18th Sept 2011

A suspected U.S. drone fell on Pakistan's tribal region overnight, two Pakistani senior security officials told CNN on Sunday.

The drone fell in the northern part of South Waziristan -- one of the seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan -- said the security officials, who did not want to be named because they are not authorized to speak with the media.

The officials said parts of the drone are in the Pakistani military's custody. They said they did not know why the drone fell.

Last month, another drone fell in the Chaman area of Balochistan province, near the Pakistani-Afghan border.

The United States rarely comments on drone operations. Source

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake ONTARIO-QUEBEC BORDER REGION, CANADA - 18th Sept 2011

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck the Ontario-Quebec Border Region, Canada at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:19:12 UTC Sunday 18th September 2011.
The epicenter was 17 km (11 miles) ENE of Cumberland, Ontario, Canada
No Reports of Damage Reported at this time.

Note: The information has been edited, the original earthquake has been upgraded from a 3.8 to a 4.0 Magnitude and much shallower than previously listed.

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOLOMON ISLANDS - 18th Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck the Solomon Islands at a depth of 63.9 km (39.7 miles), the quake hit at 18:35:24 UTC Sunday 18th September 2011.
The epicenter was 55 km (34 miles) West of Kira Kira, Solomon Islands
No Tsunami Alert Issued - No reports of Damage or Injuries reported at this time.

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake FUKUSHIMA, EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 18th Sept 2011

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Fukushima, East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 50 km (31 miles), the quake hit at 18:32:23 UTC Sunday 18th September 2011.
Epicenter 66 km (41 miles) Southeast of Sendai, Honshu, Japan

Time (JST)
Lat.
Long.
Depth Mag. Region
03:32 JST 19 Sep 11
37.8N 141.6E 50 km 5.1
Fukushima
Ken -Oki

No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

Judith Tebbutt fought 'kicking and screaming' as she was dragged away by suspected pirates - 18th Sept 2011

A kidnapped British tourist was dragged 'kicking and screaming' into the Somali town of Kisamayo by armed men, according to a witness.

Judith Tebbutt, 56, was handed to a gang of armed militants before being driven away in a convoy of Toyota Land cruisers.

She had been on holiday in Kenya with her husband David when suspected pirates broke into their £560-a-night cottage.

The graphic account came as the first pictures emerged of Ali Babitu Kololo, a Kenyan man arrested on suspicion of being involved with the kidnap.

The assailants shot dead Mr Tebbutt, a publishing executive, before bundling Mrs Tebutt into a fishing boat and taking her to Somalia.

A witness who works in the port town of Kisamayo told the Sunday Times that he looked on as Mrs Tebutt was handed to a gang of armed militants.

The porter told the newspaper: 'Armed men came to the port before the boats came, they took all the porters including me to rooms to hide what was going on. Read More

Palestinian anger at U.S. over Israel talks fuels crisis bid for statehood recognition at UN - 18th Sept 2011

Palestinian negotiators have accused Washington of triggering a diplomatic crisis which threatens to wreck the entire peace process.

A senior official said U.S. proposals had been the 'final straw' that led to the decision to go to the UN to get Palestine recognised as a state.

President Barack Obama has vowed to veto that move and withdraw funding from the Palestinian Authority if Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas carries out his pledge to take his bid to the Security Council.

But Nabil Shaath, a member of the team headed by Mr Abbas that left for New York, said it was a derisory proposal from the U.S. delegation which triggered the move.

Mr Shaath told the Guardian he 'gulped' when he saw the offer put forward by the U.S. team of David Hale and Dennis Ross.

'This was the statement supposed to persuade Abu Mazen [Abbas] not to go?' he said. There was no mention of Israeli settlements, of the future of Jerusalem or of refugees, the Guardian reported.

It also included the demand that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a 'Jewish state'.

The U.S., he added, was 'not a neutral observer, but a strategic ally of Israel'. Read More

Niall McCann captures Giant anaconda that's 18ft long - 18th Sept 2011

Most people trekking through the jungle would turn tail and run a mile the opposite direction if they came face to face with a giant anaconda.

But not Niall McCann. Like a real-life Indiana Jones he decided instead to do battle with the beast - something he said was a lifetime's ambition.

The adventurer, who has rowed the Atlantic and trekked across Greenland's Polar Ice Cap, pounced on the 18ft-long jungle giant, which weighed around 100kg and had a girth of 27ins.

Dodging snaps from its giant fangs, Mr McCann wrestled the monster to the ground and held its head until his companions were able to run to his aid.

The 29-year-old biologist from Cardiff had been exploring the tropical rainforests of Guyana when he happened across the snake on a bank of the Rewa River. Read More

Occupation of Wall Street by the people is currently underway! Get down there! Make it huge!

NEW YORK - A coalition of groups who say they've been inspired by "Arab Spring" protests against Middle Eastern despots has initiated a large, Tahrir Square-like protest in New York City, in the heart of the financial district.

On Saturday, about 1,000 people converged on Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan, near the financial district, to protest the influence of corporate money in American politics. Some will pitch tents with the intention of sitting in for a couple of months.

Organizers of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration have called for 20,000 people to "flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months."

The protesters seek to persuade President Barack Obama to establish a commission that would end "the influence money has over representatives in Washington."

Their website is occupywallst.org.

"Something is going to happen Sept. 17 on Wall Street. What it's going to be is up to all of us," Bill Csapo, a volunteer organizer for the event, told CBS Station WCBS.

"I don't think anybody that anybody can look at the political and economic landscape we have now in Washington and not come to the conclusion that the system is broken," Csapo said. "The main focus is the toxic and corrupting effect of unlimited money on the political situation, which would be called a Corporate-ocracy, not Democracy.

"We need to get government back into the hands of the 99 percent, not the one percent," Csapo said. "Right now, the law is currently written for the one percent, and we are seeing an incredible amount of wealth being extracted."

Among the affiliates groups is the 99 Percent Project, whose site advocates for the 99 percent who are "getting kicked out of our homes ... forced to choose between groceries and rent ... denied quality medical care ... working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all.

"We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything." article source

Watch a live stream of the occupation here:
http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution

Visit the protest movement's main website here: occupywallst.org

The Coming Crisis fully supports this occupation and people's rebellion. It goes to show how peaceful protest en masse can tip the scales. If you need any more proof, just check out how nervous the Knesset in Israel became after the massive Tel-Aviv tent protests. Let's keep up the pressure together! Get down there if you can. Write in to us if you're there, and we'll post updates. A special thanks to our reader for sending this in to us! The mainstream media can try to black it out, but as long as the Coming Crisis exists, that ain't happening.

Updates!

Our friend Gail from Wit's End attended the protest and offers her thoughts and photos (while dressed as a pink cupcake of justice): Click here to see!