Sunday, November 13, 2011

Neo-Nazi death gang who murdered ten are 'greatest far-right threat Germany has faced since downfall of Hitler' - 13th Nov 2011

Four neo-Nazi murderers hell-bent on building a 'Fourth Reich' in Germany were the biggest extremist threat seen in the country since the demise of Hitler, according to police.

Interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich spoke of a 'dimension of right-wing terrorism that we have not experienced before'.

The latest racist gang member arrested - identified only as Holger G, 37 - was detained today in Hanover.

He was seized as the government spoke of the danger of the gang that lurched from flag-waving and immigrant-baiting to bombing, bank robbing and serial murder.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger insisted on a speedy and complete investigation in to the series of killings.

'The information that we have so far creates a shocking image,' she said today.

Even Chancellor Angela Merkel, bogged down as she is with the euro crisis, took time out at a conference of her CDU party to say: 'We must be ever vigilant against such forms of extremism on the right.'

Germany is in a state of shock after the sophistication of the Nazi terrorists' plots became known on Friday. Read More

NHS Robbed of £3 billion a year: Bosses 'look the other way' as vast sums are stolen by Ghost employees invented to pay Wages to friends

Fraud is costing the NHS £3billion a year, with millions being paid to doctors and dentists who ‘invent’ shifts and treatment.

Managers are also using surgery funds to pay their mortgages or buy iPods, digital cameras and computer games.

A report by the think-tank 2020Health warns that the NHS is ‘looking the other way’ as vast amounts of money are lost to fraud.

Among the cases are:

  • A dentist convicted of a £600,000 fraud after he billed the NHS for treating patients who had died;
  • A female doctor who conned a hospital trust out of £61,000 by claiming overtime for more than a year after she had stopped working;
  • Another dentist jailed for charging the NHS £200,000 for treatment he never performed;
  • And a manager at King’s College Hospital in London who invented ‘ghost’ employees and gave their pay to four of her friends.
Vast amounts of money are also being lost on the treatment of health tourists – overseas patients who are not eligible for NHS care. Critics claim these funds could be used to pay for cancer treatment, extra nurses or even new hospitals. Read More

6.6 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN SULA, INDONESIA - 14th Nov 2011

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Sula, Indonesia at a depth of 19.4 km (12.1 miles), the quake hit at 04:05:15 UTC Monday 14th November 2011.
The epicenter was 200 km ( 124 miles) SSW of Ternate, Moluccas, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

More to follow

Officials: 1 dead, at least 3 hurt after Israeli strike on Hamas naval building

Missiles fired from Israeli warplanes overnight Sunday struck a Hamas naval building in northern Gaza, killing 1 person and injuring at least three others, according to Hamas security and medical officials.

Two rockets struck the building, north of Gaza City, according to a Hamas security official.

That official claimed one person had died and five were hurt. Adham Abu Salima -- a Hamas medical official -- confirmed the one fatality and added there were at least three injuries.

Into early Monday, Hamas troops were believed to be buried under the rubble, Salima said. Officials were calling for help to rescue them by clearing the debris, Salima said.

Israel Defense Forces said in a statement released early Monday that its aircraft had scored "a direct hit" on what it called "a terror activity site in the northern Gaza Strip."

"The targeting of this site was in response to the firing of a rocket at Israel on Sunday evening," the Israeli military said.

"The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the state of Israel and IDF soldiers, and will continue to operate against anyone who uses terror against the state of Israel." the IDF statement said. "The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip." more

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA, INDONESIA - 13th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck the Banda Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 120 km (74.6 miles), the quake hit at 23:14:58 UTC Sunday 13th November 2011.
The epicenter was 242 km ( 150 miles) NNW of Saumlaki, Kepulauan Tanimbar, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE SOUTH COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 13th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 65.4 km (40.6 miles), the quake hit at 19:40:36 UTC Sunday 13th November 2011.
The epicenter was 62 km ( 38 miles) SSE of Yokohama, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Venezuelan Presidential Candidate María Corina Machado Attacked by Gunfire



Dramatic video posted to YouTube purports to show the initial moments of an attack against Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado and her supporters.

The video begins with the candidate addressing residents and reporters shortly after she threw the first pitch in a softball game. Thirty seconds into the roughly 50-second clip, several gunshots ring out; people scatter. Some board a bus while a voice in the video shouts: "Go, go, go!"

CNN could not confirm the authenticity of the video, allegedly taken on Saturday in a neighborhood on the east side of the capital, Caracas.

Separately, El Nacional newspaper published a photo of what it said was the shooting, showing two people on a motorcycle. Wearing a red T-shirt, the man on the back is pointing a gun at a bus.

It was not clear from the video whether Machado boarded the bus, nor whether the bus in the video was the same as the one in the photograph. However, a campaign spokesman told CNN en Español a pair of people on a motorcycle fired shots into a bus carrying Machado and her supporters.

Machado, who was not injured in the incident, also said that shots were fired in the open, and at her vehicle. more

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 13th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:57:29 UTC Sunday 13th November 2011.
The epicenter was 24 km ( 14.9 miles) Southeast of Ercis, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Technocrats 'Will Boost Investor Confidence' - 13th Nov 2011

Investors will be reassured by the appointment of so-called technocrats to run Italy and Greece, but no one is pretending the countries' problems have become any less severe.

Both have too much debt and face a painful, drawn-out process of national budgeting to reduce those debts while trying not to choke off growth in their economies.

The appointment of Lucas Papademos as a caretaker prime minister of Greece and the succession of Mario Monti to lead Italy means each country will be run by individuals apparently free of the shackles of party politics and unconcerned by how the difficult decisions they will have to make will affect their chances of re-election.

The markets gave up on Greece a long time ago and Mr Papademos faces a mammoth task to rebalance its shrinking economy in the relatively short period in which he is expected to serve.

But confidence in Italy remains salvageable and Mr Monti takes over an economy that is still growing and boasting below EU average unemployment - even if its 1.9trn euros debt is 1.2 times the size of the value of its economy in any one year.

Royal Bank of Scotland chief European economist Jacques Cailloux told Sky News that Mr Papademos and Mr Monti were both "founding fathers of the European Monetary Union. Read More

Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Engineers, scientists, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body. In a technocracy, decision makers would be selected based upon how knowledgeable and skilful they are in their field.

Technical and leadership skills would be selected through bureaucratic processes on the basis of specialized knowledge and performance, rather than democratic election by those without such knowledge or skill deemed necessary.

In 1932, Howard Scott founded Technocracy Incorporated, and proposed that money be replaced by energy certificates denominated in units such as ergs or joules, equivalent in amount to an appropriate national energy budget, which could be divided equally among all members of a North American continental Technate. The group argued that apolitical, rational engineers should be vested with authority to guide an economy into a thermodynamically balanced load of production and consumption, thereby doing away with unemployment and debt.


The technocracy movement was highly popular in the USA for a brief period in the early 1930s, during the Great Depression. But by the mid-1930s, interest in the movement was declining. Most historians attribute the demise of the technocracy movement to the rise of Roosevelt's New Deal., a more democratic method of accomplishing the planning and economic reconstruction that the technocrats had called for. The authoritarian, elitist, and even fascist overtones of the technocracy movement undermined its popular appeal as a political movement.

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA REGION - 13th Nov 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Tonga Region at a depth of 24.3 km (15.1 miles), the quake hit at 19:21:38 UTC Sunday 13th November 2011.
The epicenter was 177 km ( 110 miles) Northeast of Neiafu, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Protesters arrested as police clear Occupy encampments - 13th Nov 2011

Numerous arrests took place in several Western cities as police moved in to clear Occupy encampments over the weekend, authorities said.

In Portland, Oregon, unrest continued into Sunday morning as protesters defied a midnight Saturday deadline for the Occupy encampments to close, but a tense situation defused later Sunday as police kept park closures peaceful.

One officer was struck in the leg by a projectile thrown from a crowd, and was taken to a hospital, but the injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said. One protester was arrested in a separate incident, said Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Another officer was struck but not injured, Portland police said on Twitter, and a fight broke out early Sunday between protesters.

Video from the scene showed masses of protesters on downtown streets. In the early-morning hours Sunday, police told demonstrators to leave the streets or face arrest. All but two of the demonstrators followed that order, retreating into several parks, CNN affiliate KGW reported. Read More

Protesters take to the streets of Spain - 13th Nov 2011

Several thousand demonstrators took to the streets of the Spanish capital Sunday, protesting unemployment a week before voters elect a new government.

The march past the world-famous Prado museum and Madrid's city hall ended at the Puerta del Sol plaza, where economic protests began last May.

As riot police passed the demonstrators, protesters shouted "Less police, more education," a criticism of cutbacks in education during Spain's deep economic crisis.

The demonstration was smaller than one held October 15, when at least 10,000 people marched in Madrid on a day when Occupy Wall Street-style protests spread to Europe, Asia and Australia.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais said tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Barcelona that day.

Similar protests over the economy turned violent in Italy, with at least 70 people injured and a government building set on fire, but the Spanish demonstrations remained peaceful.

Protester Esteban Guerrero, 25, who's been to a dozen protests since last May, said he was not discouraged by the smaller crowd on Sunday.

"Each demonstration is not just one more," Guerrero said. "Many young people and workers take part. Some are bigger than others but what's important is that thousands turn out each time." Read More

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Shells of nuclear reactor buildings seen at stricken Japan plant

Journalists got their first ground-level glance Saturday around Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility -- eying shells of reactor buildings, tons of contaminated water and workers scurrying still to mitigate damage from a crisis that began eight months ago.

An epic 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami March 11 wreaked havoc around Japan, killing more than 15,000 people. While many of those died instantly, the East Asian nation was on edge for weeks as utility and government employees scrambled to prevent a worsening nuclear catastrophe at the Daiichi plant, located about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Tokyo.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency eventually categorized the accident as a level-7 event on the international scale for nuclear disasters -- the highest level -- putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

It took months, but the Tokyo Electric Power Company (the plant's operator) eventually indicated that its workers were gaining control in the crisis. Throughout the summer and fall, there were no longer reports of explosions, nor stories about new leaks of radioactive material into the ground and sea.

But the facility still remained off-limits to reporters and, for a 20-kilometer radius around the plant, to the general public due to the continued high levels of radiation and ongoing efforts to prevent yet more blasts and leaks. more

"Joe Paterno Should Be In Jail" (Agreed.)

Stone-Washed Blue Jeans consume 919 gallons of fresh water... each

From the cotton field in rural India to the local rag bin, a typical pair of blue jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, Levi Strauss & Company says, or enough to fill about 15 spa-size bathtubs. That includes the water that goes into irrigating the cotton crop, stitching the jeans together and washing them scores of times at home.

The company wants to reduce that number any way it can, and not just to project environmental responsibility. It fears that water shortages caused by climate change may jeopardize the company’s very existence in the coming decades by making cotton too expensive or scarce.

So to protect its bottom line, Levi Strauss has helped underwrite and champion a nonprofit program that teaches farmers in India, Pakistan, Brazil and West and Central Africa the latest irrigation and rainwater-capture techniques. It has introduced a brand featuring stone-washed denim smoothed with rocks but no water. It is sewing tags into all of its jeans urging customers to wash less and use only cold water.

To customers seeking further advice, Levi Strauss suggests washing jeans rarely, if at all — the theory being that putting them in the freezer will kill germs that cause them to smell. more

Turkey: Sandblasting Jeans for ‘Distressed’ Look Proved Harmful for Textile Workers (and killed them)

Sandblasting new blue jeans to make them look “distressed” killed a number of young Turkish textile workers before the practice was outlawed, a new study has found.

The study, published in Chest, a medical journal for lung specialists, was done by doctors at a hospital for thoracic diseases in Istanbul.

They followed 32 male textile workers who came to their hospital with breathing problems between 2001 and 2009. That year, after news reports of a “silicosis epidemic,” Turkish health authorities banned sandblasting denim.

The men were young, with a mean age of 31. Most were previously healthy; they were screened to rule out damage from tuberculosis or smoking.

They had worked a mean of 66 hours a week for a little over two years each, mostly at small sandblasting shops with fewer than 10 workers.

Six of the workers died, and 16 others had disabling lung damage from breathing the fine sand. The researchers calculated that a typical worker with silicosis had only a 69 percent chance of surviving five years. more

Future holds more extreme weather

For a world already weary of weather catastrophes, the latest warning from top climate scientists paints a grim future: More floods, more heat waves, more droughts and greater costs to deal with them.

A draft summary of an international scientific report obtained by The Associated Press says the extremes caused by global warming could eventually grow so severe that some locations become "increasingly marginal as places to live."

The report from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change marks a change in climate science, from focusing on subtle shifts in average temperatures to concentrating on the harder-to-analyze freak events that grab headlines, hurt economies and kill people.

"The extremes are a really noticeable aspect of climate change," said Jerry Meehl, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "I think people realize that the extremes are where we are going to see a lot of the impacts of climate change." more

7 billion and counting: Should the world adopt a 'one-child' policy?

The world population has hit a whopping 7 billion, and researchers suggest it could reach 10 billion within the next century. On the one hand, this means we're a great success — after all, the goal of any species is to expand and conquer. But, on the other hand, all that expansion means more mouths to feed, which requires more space and energy, which increases the demand on resources and the environment, perhaps too large a demand for Earth to support.

So Life's Little Mysteries asks: How can we curb this growth? Should there be a global one-child policy, like the one enforced in China?

One child per family

In 1979, in response to two decades of rapid population growth the Chinese government announced a policy that limited each family to just one child (although there are exceptions). The worry was that if growth continued at such a pace, it would be a crushing burden to both society and the economy. [How Many People Can the World Support?]

In terms of limiting population growth, the policy was successful, cutting China's population by an estimated 250 million to 300 million people, according to Chinese authorities. But this success came with a price. Reports of forced abortion and sterilization abound. And, because of a preference for male children in China, sex-selective abortions have skewed the country's male-female birth ratio from the natural biological ratio of 105 to 100 to 121 to 100, resulting in millions more young men than women. Socially, the consequences range from mental health problems to kidnapping and trafficking women for marriage.

Social questions aside, does a global one-child policy make sense?

"I don't think that's a good idea, frankly," said John Bongaarts, vice president of the Population Council, a global nonprofit and NGO. "First of all, nobody's going to accept it. There's been a massive outcry over the one-child policy in China as coercive, and there's not a single person that I know that would support it. Plus, you don't really want the fertility to decline to one child per woman, because you end up in the same problems as Japan has now, and nobody wants that." more

3-eyed Fish Found Near Argentinean Nuclear Power Plant

You've heard of life imitating art, but now a fish found in Argentina resembles something you'd see on "The Simpsons" -- and it's not making environmentalists laugh.

Back in 1990, the long-running series did an episode that featured "Blinky," a three-eyed fish that cropped up near the Springfield nuclear power plant, where Homer worked.

Now, 21 years later, fishermen in Córdoba, Argentina caught a three-eyed wolf fish in a reservoir near a local nuclear power plant, according to Gizmodo.com.

One of the fisherman, Julian Zmutt, said no one noticed the third eye at first because it was dark.

“We were fishing and we got the surprise of getting this rare specimen," reported The Blaze.com. "As it was dark at that time we did not notice, but then you looked at him with a flashlight and saw that he had a third eye.”

The fish bares no resemblance to Blinky, but it is still causing quite a stir.

According to Infobae.com, a Spanish-language news site, the lake where the three-eyed fish was caught is a reservoir where hot water from the nuclear facility is pumped. more

Glaciers in Southwest China Feel the Brunt of Climate Change

Significant increases in annual temperatures are having a devastating affect on glaciers in the mountainous regions of south-western China, potentially affecting natural habitats, tourism and wider economic development.

In a study published Oct. 25, 2011, in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Letters, scientists examined data from 111 weather stations across south-western China and have shown that temperature patterns were consistent with warming, at a statistically significant level, between 1961 and 2008.

Of the 111 stations examined, 77 per cent displayed statistically significant increases in annual temperature.

Collating a broad range of research on glaciers during this time period, the researchers, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, identified three characteristics that were consistent with the increasing trend in temperature; drastic retreats were observed in the glacial regions, along with large losses of mass and an increase in the area of glacial lakes.

In the Pengqu basin of the Himalayas, for example, the 999 glaciers had a combined area loss of 131 km2 between 1970 and 2001, whilst the Yalong glacier in the Gangrigabu Mountains retreated over 1500 meters from 1980 to 2001.

The implications of these changes are far more serious than simply altering the landscape; glaciers are an integral part of thousands of ecosystems and play a crucial role in sustaining human populations. more

Mojave Water Debate: Company Wants To Use Cadiz Ranch -- How much wildlife will die?

Off historic Route 66 in the heart of the California desert the barren landscape of dry scrub and rock abruptly gives way to an oasis of tall green trees heavy with lemons and grape vines awaiting next month's harvest.

Some believe this lush farm in the unlikeliest of places also sits atop a partial solution to Southern California's water woes.

By tapping into an aquifer the size of Rhode Island under the 35,000-acre Cadiz ranch, proponents say they can supply 400,000 people with drinking water in only a few years.

If the plan sounds familiar, it is. A decade ago, Los Angeles' Metropolitan Water District narrowly rejected it when it faced widespread environmental opposition. A scaled back version has resurfaced with a greener pitch, momentum from five water agencies and what the company claims is better science to win over skeptics.

"Do we need additional water supplies? Yes. Do we need groundwater storage? Yes," said Winston Hickox, a Cadiz board member who headed the California Environmental Protection Agency. "The question is `OK, environmental community, what are your remaining concerns?' I don't know."

But conservationists including the Sierra Club remain worried. Critics say the company has misrepresented the size of the aquifer and that mining it could harm the threatened desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, as well as the nearby Mojave National Preserve which has some of the densest and oldest Joshua tree forests in the world. Concerns over rare desert species were also echoed by state Department of Fish and Game biologists in March. more

America too politically correct?



The media has been fixated on the alleged Herman Cain sexual harassment scandal, though his accusers have yet to come forward and tell the public what exactly happened.

­Despite the media frenzy over the issue, do voters really care?

Apparently not in Iowa, where they seem unfazed by his alleged promiscuity back in the 90’s.

Following the recent revelations, Cain is keeping his position on top.

“The day after the story ran, Herman Cain’s campaign said they raised more than 300,000 dollars in one day,” said Alex Pappas, Senior Political Reporter at The Daily Caller.

A post-scandal Rasmussen poll shows that Cain is still in the lead, with 26 percent of likely Republican primary voters supporting him.

Could it be that Americans are realizing that they are just too politically correct?

Another Rasmussen poll shows 79 percent of Americans see political correctness as a serious problem in the nation.

So does America need to learn how to take a joke? more

Fracking shock reignites concern

DEBATE over the safety of ''fracking'' in Australia has reignited after a gas project in Britain was named as the likely cause of 50 tremors this year.

A panel of seismic experts has found it ''highly probable'' that fracking conducted by Cuadrilla Resources - 41 per cent-owned by Australian drilling company AJ Lucas - was the cause of two significant tremors and 48 aftershocks near the British town of Blackpool in April and May.

The findings come after the independent MP Tony Windsor told the federal government this week he would not support its mining tax unless more was done to investigate the safety of fracking in Australia. more

China's independents find it hard to get on ballot: Surprise, surprise

Han Ying had just dropped off her 9-year-old son at school and was almost home when she found an unfamiliar guard at the gate to her neighborhood, barking at her, "You can't come in."

The Beijing land-rights activist drove away, glancing with rising panic at her rearview mirror, where she could see a gray car on her tail. She pulled into the parking lot of a friend's apartment compound and bolted up the stairs.

She had gotten as far as the next floor, she says, when one man grabbed her around the waist, the other by the wrists. She held on to a baluster of the staircase, but they pried her loose and tried to drag her into the car.

"You rotten bums," Han, 37, screamed loudly enough that the men let go and drove away, but not before telling her: "We just wanted to talk to you. We're from the election commission."

What had Han done? She had filed as a candidate in elections in Beijing on Tuesday to choose the "people's representatives," the lowest level of political office in China.

At least on paper, the Chinese Constitution permits any adult citizen without a criminal record to run for the office of people's representative. In practice, however, those without the blessing of the Communist Party say they are thwarted at every pass: harassed, detained, followed and threatened. If that fails, they say, they're simply kicked off the ballots. more

U.S. presidential hopeful Ron Paul: 'Friendship' is best way to deal with Iran

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul says "offering friendship" to Iran, not sanctions, would be a more fruitful way to deal with Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions.

The libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, a longshot in the presidential campaign, said Sunday that Iran's nuclear weapons program has been "blown out of proportion." He said tough sanctions are a mistake, because in the case of Iraq, they only hurt the local population and still paved a path to war.

When asked on "Fox News Sunday" what he would do to deter Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions, Paul said "maybe offering friendship to them."

Paul's remarks put him at odds with both the Bush and Obama administrations; U.S. policy has relied heavily on sanctions and diplomacy to try to convince Tehran to abandon its atomic program. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Earlier on Sunday, a senior Iranian cleric dismissed talk of a military strike by Israel as empty propaganda, taunting it for screaming "like a cornered cat" rather than "roaring like a lion".

Israeli media have speculated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking cabinet consensus to attack Iranian nuclear sites as Western diplomats say new evidence that Tehran researching ways to build atom bombs will be published this week. source

14th Amendment Truth: Are you really a slave?

Far-Right groups in Europe 'on the rise'

Researchers used advertisements on Facebook pages to persuade over 10,000 followers of 14 far-Right parties in 11 European countries to fill in detailed questionnaires about their beliefs.

The study found the mainly, young men were angry about their governments and the EU combined with deep hostility to Muslim immigrants.

As well as carrying out surveys, Demos analysed data on 450,000 supporters of far-Right-parties, almost two-thirds were aged under 30, three-quarters were male, and more likely than average to be unemployed.

Anonymous surveys showed a repeated emphasis among far-Right members on Islam and immigration, especially among younger members which was listed as a greater concern than economic problems.

"As anti-Semitism was a unifying factor for far-right parties in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, Islamophobia has become the unifying factor in the early decades of the 21st century," said Thomas Klau from the European Council on Foreign Relations, who will speak at a conference launching the report today. more

Catholic priests urged to liven up sermons with "scandal" contained with the Bible: Vatican's most senior cultural official

Sermons delivered by Catholic priests are often painfully "grey and dull" and need to be livened up with the "scandal" contained within the Bible, the Vatican's most senior cultural official said.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said preaching in churches had become so formulaic and boring that it risked becoming "irrelevant" to congregations accustomed to the excitement and immediacy of television and the internet.

"The advent of televised and computerised information requires us to be compelling and trenchant, to cut to the heart of the matter, resort to narratives and colour," said the cardinal, who as the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture is the Vatican's unofficial minister for culture.

Too many priests employed theological language that was "grey, dull and flavourless" and instead should spice up their sermons with graphic stories contained in the Bible, which used much more forceful imagery.

The Bible was "crowded with stories, symbols and images," he said.

Speaking at a conference in Rome, he said Twitter was also an effective way of spread the Word of God. more

Are Pakistan's nuclear weapons safe?

The Euro elite are totally out of touch with the modern world

The realities of 21st-century politics are finally catching up with the guardians of the single currency.

It is extraordinary to recall that, until June last year, HM Treasury still had a “euro preparations unit”, finally abolished in George Osborne’s emergency Budget. This was the last, fossilised remains of the “prepare and decide” strategy adopted by New Labour, the premise of which – at least in the Blair years – was that Britain should and would join the single currency at some point in the future.

In past weeks, we have grown used to the eurozone as supplicant: the garlicky tramp on the pavement with a piece of cardboard on a string round his neck, bearing the words: “Will work for bail-out.” Even now, Osborne’s team is working on a host of contingency plans, to be triggered by crises ranging from Greece’s exit from the single currency, to the full-blown collapse of the eurozone.

How far Europe has travelled since Tony Blair unveiled his National Changeover Plan in February 1999, the preparatory campaign to make Britain’s businesses, banks, retailers, public authorities, and media ready for the referendum that he assumed would take place in his second term – and if not then, eventually. In his 2002 party conference speech, Blair referred to the euro as “not just about our economy, but our destiny”. more

Does Britain really hate its children?

Something seems to have gone seriously awry with our child-rearing culture.

Anne Marie Carrie, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, unveiled a survey last week that seemed to indicate that Britons, as a whole, don’t like children very much, or at least the general concept of children. Almost half of respondents believed that they are becoming “feral” and “like animals”, and view them as violent, angry and abusive. A rather worrying 38 per cent don’t believe that children who get into trouble need to be helped. “What hope is there for childhood in the UK today if this is how adults think?” she said.

Broadly speaking, she is right. Of course, the majority of parents in Britain are inclined to think the best of their own children. But even then, there is often the stubborn notion that their encroachment on our time must be strictly regulated, and hours spent with them dutifully ticked off in a mental box.

In spectacularly dysfunctional families, of the kind that came to light during the heartbreaking case of Shannon Matthews, the children’s needs scarcely figure at all. Shannon and her siblings scrabbled in the margins of the parents’ existence for crumbs of attention and hit-and-miss meals.

At the other end of the spectrum, children are togged out in the cutest gear, their little lives progressing from the Gina Ford regime to a hectic whirl of “improving” activities. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as they enjoy it – but sometimes it feels as if the manic middle-class schedule is powered not by the child’s own desires, but the parental terror of “downtime”, the icy fear of what dark chaos might unfurl if you all just loafed around, bickering, chatting or examining the anatomical construction of snails in the back yard. more

Herman Cain's "Sexual Harassment" vs Obama's Manifold Screw-ups: Is the media dropping the ball?

Intelligent thoughts on the Israel vs Palestine ordeal

Viktor Bout’s case – America’s hidden skeletons



Alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout has been found guilty by a jury court in New York. RT reports on some of the skeletons hidden in the closet of this case.

­The US spent years and reported tens of millions of taxpayer dollars trying to hunt down one Russian man in a sting operation. Alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout has been found guilty on all four charges brought against him by a federal court in Manhattan, after being snatched up from a third country for months of solitary confinement before a three-week trial.

“One – conspiring to kill US nationals, two – conspiring to kill US officers and employees, three – conspiring to use and acquire anti-air craft missiles, four – conspiring to provide material support to the FARC” – these were the charges listed by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, in November 2010.

The 44-year-old Russian air cargo businessman fascinated Hollywood. Bout seems to have lost his case in the court of US public opinion long before his trial kicked off, with a movie made off of his alleged arms dealing and with the mainstream media having dubbed him “the Merchant of Death.” This has raised concerns of the fairness of his trial.

American agents posing as FARC members – a Columbian group deemed terrorist in the US but not by many other countries and the United Nations – met with and then arrested Bout in Thailand in 2008. After twice being found not guilty by Thai courts, the US reportedly played dirty by arm-twisting Thailand into extraditing Bout to America.

“They are willing to flaunt every international law to get what they want. And that means doing all these illegal things in the case of Viktor Bout – to extradite, or I should say, kidnap him,” said author and investigative journalist Daniel Estulin. more

Japan's debts to pass 1,000 trillion yen for first time



Japan's sovereign debt is set to surpass 1,000 trillion yen ($12.81 trillion) at the end of this fiscal year.

According to a Finance Ministry estimate, the country's borrowings through the issuance of state bonds and bank loans will total 1,024 trillion yen in March.

That is 28 trillion yen more than the ministry’s initial 995.92 trillion yen forecast for borrowing in fiscal 2011.

Debts incurred because of post-quake reconstruction, currency market interventions and the Fukushima nuclear crisis have all contributed to the increase.

An additional 11.5 trillion yen in state bonds has been earmarked to finance post-quake reconstruction measures in the third supplementary budget. The budget also authorized 15 trillion yen in financial bills to fight the soaring value of the yen.

In addition, the government allocated 3 trillion yen more in grant bonds than initially planned to assist cash-strapped Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that Japan's total sovereign debt, including social security costs, stood at 1,054 trillion yen (9.8 trillion euros at an exchange rate of 107 yen per euro), or 220 percent of the country's gross domestic product, as of 2010. more

‘Occupy’s simple message is key to its success’



Occupy protesters demonstrate resilience to crackdowns and cynicism in the media but it is still unclear what lies ahead for the movement.Abby Martin, founder of Mediaroots.org, says that Occupy can become a real political force.

While camping out and singing songs is one thing, getting the right politicians elected quite another. Martin says that the movement is unified and people are waking up to the two-party dictatorship, and realizing that the political system does not represent them anymore.

”A lot of people tried to paint this movement as not unified and we do not have a cohesive message, but as far as I can see we have one message and it is corporate greed and we are not standing for it anymore,” she declared. “No matter what your sign says, it all stems from the same source and that is corporate greed running amok.”

Martin believes it was a huge success for the movement when up to 20,000 people peacefully marched and successfully shut down the Port of Oakland. She says that getting their point across justifies shutting down America's fifth largest port.

“It was almost necessary to get the point across, no-one is really listening to us. Mainstream media is trying to marginalize this movement. So maybe it will take something like that to really get people to recognize our force,” she said.

The mainstream media in US accuses the Occupy movement of being envious of the rich. Martin laughs it off arguing that it is about disenfranchisement and the extreme desperation that people are seeing.

”The rich keep getting richer. We are talking about corporations not paying taxes. Why should we? It is a two-tier justice system. We are held to a different sort of justice system in America. We are not standing for it anymore,” she says. more

Egypt military giving signs of not wanting to relinquish power

Egypt's ruling military council is silencing critics while polishing its image amid increasing signs that it is plotting to stay in power behind the scenes even after a new parliament is in place early next year.

Activists and politicians are worried that the military, the country's most revered institution before the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February, refuses to have its authority and financial interests answerable to an emerging democracy.

Concerns were heightened this week when the military-backed interim government announced parameters for writing Egypt's new constitution. The proposals allow the generals to appoint 80% of the constitutional committee. They also state that the defense budget would be kept secret and the military would be the "guardian" of the constitution, raising the possibility of intervention in legislative and presidential affairs.

"The implications of this are really frightening," said Amr Darrag, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing. "A full control by the military of the political arena would be catastrophic."

The military's power highlights how removed Egyptians are from the freedoms and civil liberties they sought in overthrowing Mubarak's 30-year-old police state. The country's martial law and political disarray are stark contrasts to recent elections in Tunisia, which is much closer to achieving the democratic ideals of the "Arab Spring." more

CIA’s ‘vengeful librarians’ monitoring Twitter, Facebook

In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets – up to five million a day.

At the agency’s Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the “vengeful librarians” also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms – anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.

Yes, they saw the uprising in Egypt coming; they just didn’t know exactly when revolution might hit, said the centre’s director, Doug Naquin.

The centre already had “predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the centre. CIA officials said it was the first such visit by a reporter the agency has ever granted.

The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But its several hundred analysts – the actual number is classified – track a broad range, from Chinese Internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan. more

‘Greece is no longer a sovereign state’



As Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou abandons plans to hold a referendum on the bailout program granted to Athens by Germany and France, analysts say Greece is now so deep in the debt pool that now it is ruled by creditors.

­“Greece is no longer an independent country,” says Demetri Kofinas, an RT contributor. “In recent months, all the talk in the Greek Parliament has been ‘What we are going to do satisfy our creditors’ demands?’ Athens’ creditors – European banks and the ECB – will determine whether Greece survives or not, so the Greek authorities are not even hiding the fact that they are in no control of their own destiny.”

Rome fears the EU banks will stop providing liquidity to the Greek banking system, which has been bleeding deposits for months, remarks Kofinas. The real concern is that the Greek banking system is no longer sustainable because it holds so much of Greek sovereign debt.

Overall, there was no support for the proposed bailout referendum – neither in Europe, nor in Greece, points out the analyst.

“The Greek PM has received pressure from all sides: from Chancellor Merkel, from President Sarkozy, from the leaders in Europe – but also from the members of his own party. He was reprimanded across the board. The referendum that he proposed was quickly shut down by everyone,” says Kofinas.

But even if the referendum had been held, it is hard to imagine a ‘yes’ vote, he adds. Such public questions tend to provoke an answer not to the matter in hand, but to the interrogator. The annoyance with the political vacuum clearly demonstrated during the national strikes in Greece would be likely to result in a negative reaction to whatever PM Papandreou had to push through a referendum, believes Kofinas. more

Regime Change in Europe: Do Greece and Italy Amount to a Bankers' Coup? - 11th NOV 2011

The voice of the people isn't something the markets seem to want to hear these days. First there was Greece, the cradle of democracy itself, where early this month, the merest mention of a referendum offering its citizens a say in a series of severe austerity measures was enough to send the markets into a tailspin.

The ultimate result: the collapse of Prime Minister George Papandreou's ruling coalition, the rejection of any notion of bringing the proposal before the people, and the installation of a caretaker government under the leadership of Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank and, until earlier this week, a visiting professor at Harvard.

Then came Italy. As Athens threatened to go under, Rome found itself under pressure not so much for its level of debt — which though high is generally considered within the limits of sustainability — as much as for the erratic behavior of its flamboyant prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. On Monday, investors seemed to make the collective decision that he could no longer be trusted at the helm of the euro zone's third largest economy and sent Italy's cost of borrowing up towards crisis levels.

By the end of the week, not only was Berlusconi finished, so was the very idea of holding a vote to replace him. The markets had spoken, and they didn't like the idea of going to the electorate. "The country needs reforms, not elections," said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council on a visit to Rome Friday. - Read More

Note: Surely someone didn't suggest that we as Europeans would be allowed to vote.

Syrian Forces Kill Another FOUR PEOPLE At Assad Rally - 13th Nov 2011

Security forces in Syria have shot dead four people who shouted slogans against the country's leader during a pro-government rally, activists have said.

The gathering was organised by the authorities in Hama on Sunday following an Arab League decision to suspend Syria over its violence against protesters in recent months.

Groups reportedly broke away and started shouting: "The people want the fall of the regime."

Witnesses said they were followed by security forces and four were killed.

Earlier, supporters of President Bashar al Assad broke into the Saudi Arabian and Qatari embassies in Damascus to express their anger over the decision by other Arab League members.

French and Turkish consulates in the city of Latakia were also attacked. The violent scenes have prompted Turkey to evacuate the families of its diplomatic staff.

And Syria has now called for an urgent Arab summit to discuss the deepening political unrest in the country. Read More

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN TURKEY - 13th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck Eastern Turkey at a depth of 14 km (8.6 miles), the quake hit at 18:29:53 UTC Sunday 13th November 2011.
The epicenter was 25 km ( 15.5 miles) Southeast of Ercis, Turkey
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Dozens suffer food poisoning in Obuasi, Ghana - 13th Nov 2011

Several dozen residents of Obuasi in the Ashanti Region are suffering from suspected food poisoning after eating fried rice from a particular fast food joint.

The affected persons are experiencing severe diarrhea and vomiting at the same time.

A few of them have been rushed to the Obuasi Government hospital while several others have been taken to St Jude’s Hospital for treatment. Mr Samuel Mensah’s wife and three children are among almost 30 victims being treated at St Jude’s hospital for suspected food poisoning.

Mr Mensah in an interview with Citi News said “Friday morning when I called my family and asked them about how they were doing, my wife told me that they are all sick, running and vomiting.

“So when I rushed home, I saw them, they were running and I sent them to the hospital at Obuasi St. Jude Hospital and the doctor asked them that which food did they eat the previous day and my wife told me that they bought some fried rice and the doctor said it the fried rice that caused that diarrhea. ”

The Medical Superintendent at the Obuasi Government Hospital Dr Nsiah Boakye confirmed to Citi News that four patients had so far been brought there with similar symptoms but says lab tests are yet to be undertaken to confirm if it is really food poisoning.

Dr. Boakye said “it is not really confirmed it is food poisoning, we are still doing investigations and we have not finished.

“We only stabilizing them, they are coming with diarrhea and vomiting and we have to find the source. They are all pointing to the same source that they ate something from somewhere. ”

Meanwhile the owner of the Fast food joint Nana Mensah has told Citi News he has been inundated with complaints from customers who bought fried rice from his joint a couple of days ago. Read More

North Korea Struggling to Fight Epidemic of Drug-Resistant tuberculosis - 13th Nov 2011

North Korea is grappling with a strain of the deadly lung disease tuberculosis that is resistant to conventional treatment. Humanitarian workers say the impoverished communist country, which already has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis outside of sub-Saharan Africa, is unable to cope with the outbreak. Most victims could die of the disease within years. But some help is coming from an outside foundation.

The disease is known as multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis. It resists treatment by the two most powerful front-line TB drugs.

Stephen Linton, chairman of the Eugene Bell Foundation in Seoul, recently returned from North Korea, which he has visited nearly 70 times for humanitarian work since 1979. "North Koreans have told me that tuberculosis is their number one, number two and number three primary public health concern," he said.

Conditions in North Korea are ideal for the spread of TB. The climate is cold. Most citizens live and work in small spaces, and lack proper nutrition to maintain a strong immune system.

Linton says his foundation is now primarily focused on combating the multi-drug resistant TB outbreaks in North Korea. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 13th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 24 km (14.9 miles), the quake hit at 16:56:03 UTC Sunday 13th November 2011.
The epicenter was 124 km ( 77 miles) Southwest of Nikolski, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Loyd Grossman Korma sauce cause of Botulism Fears in Scotland - WARNING ISSUED - 13th Nov 2011

A warning has been issued over Loyd Grossman Korma sauce after two people in Scotland were taken to hospital with botulism.

People are being advised by the Food Standards Agency not to consume 350g jars of the sauce with a best before date of February 2013.

The warning comes after one jar from the batch - carrying the code 1218R 07:21 - was found to have been contaminated with the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism.

The "precautionary measure" was prompted by the hospitalisation of two members of the same family in Scotland.

Both have contracted botulism after eating from a jar of the batch of sauce. The FSA said no other batches of Loyd Grossman products are thought to be affected.

More follows...

Former European commissioner Mario Monti is expected to be officially announced as Italy's new prime minister tonight..... So who will be next?

Mario Monti is expected to be officially appointed as Italy's new prime minister tonight.

The respected economist won crucial backing from Silvio Berlusconi's conservative party to try to put together a new government.

But the party demanded that he rule only long enough to implement urgent measures to rescue Italy from financial disaster.

More follows...

Note: This news comes less than a week following the forced exit of the Greek Prime Minister who was conveniently replaced by Mr Papademos... Little things like not even being a member of the Parliament is irrelevant when you are the former Vice President of the European Central Bank.

The Party has demanded that he only Rule long enough to implement measures to rescue Italy.... Does this mean he wasn't their Choice?

So who is placing these new Prime Ministers?

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake TAJIKISTAN - 13th Nov 2011

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck Tajikistan at a depth of 35 km (21.7 miles), the quake hit at 17:19:29 UTC Sunday 13th November 2011.
The epicenter was 77 km ( 47 miles) Southwest of Sary-Tash, Kyrgyzstan
No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Occupy Protesters clash with police across the U.S. after crackdown on camps.... as ANOTHER woman is raped in her tent at Occupy Philadelphia

The Occupy Wall Street movement is facing off with authorities across the country as officers step up pressure against the demonstrators.

In Portland, protesters and their supporters flooded a downtown city park area early this morning in defiance of a midnight deadline to disperse was set by city officials.

But hours later, the protesters were still there, backed by many supporters who spilled out into the streets next to camp, tying up traffic.

At one point the numbers swelled to thousands but then started to thin in the early morning hours.

Organizers said they hope enough people will join them to make it difficult if not impossible for police to carry through on any eviction.

'Occupy the street,' one organizer said through a bull horn. 'Remain peaceful and aware. We have strength in holding the streets.'

Mayor Sam Adams had ordered the camp shut down, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment's attraction of drug users and thieves. Read More