Monday, April 30, 2012

The Coming Currency Wars

Why Fed officials' suggestions that a third round of stimulus is possible may have sent emerging market central bankers into a cold sweat.

Like Pavlov's dog, which would salivate at the sound of a bell, U.S. stock market investors will these days launch into a buying frenzy at the faintest hint of more monetary stimulus.

But if Federal Reserve officials' assurances of continued support for the U.S. recovery have released feel-good endorphins among wishful thinkers on Wall Street, their subtle admissions that a third round of "quantitative easing," or QE3, isn't off the table may equally have sent emerging market central bankers into a cold sweat.

Financial authorities in developing countries fear their economies will be in the line of fire if U.S. economic conditions deteriorate so much that the Fed again starts buying bonds to anchor U.S. interest rates. They know from experience that many of the dollars the Fed injects into the financial system would flow offshore and into their currencies, whose higher yields are more attractive to investors. This "hot money" would push up their exchange rates to the detriment of their exporters and leave their capital markets vulnerable to volatile turns in sentiment. Read More

Death, Taxes, and the Continued Insanity of US Military Spending

Military spending combines the two certainties in life: death and taxes. U.S. taxpayers are paying more than anyone else on Earth to support an industry devoted to death.

Tuesday, Tax Day, Americans were treated to the news that our nation has increased its overall spending on the military. In 2011, the United States spent approximately $740 billion on the military, an increase of more than $40 billion from the previous year, and this doesn't include parts of the intelligence, Homeland Security and State Department budgets devoted to military activities.

The United States accounts for approximately 43 percent of all global military expenditures. Read More

Children of Africa: Let's all smile today

Children grow up addicted to online porn sites: Third of 10-year-olds have seen explicit images

A 'guinea pig’ generation of children is growing up addicted to hardcore internet pornography, MPs were warned last night.

Four out of five 16-year-old boys and girls regularly access porn online while one in three ten-year-olds has seen explicit material, a disturbing cross-party report reveals.

It also cites figures showing that more than a quarter of young patients being treated at a leading private clinic are receiving help for addiction to online pornography.

One appalled MP revealed that her son had told her that swapping hardcore images on memory sticks between pupils at his school is ‘absolutely rife’. Read More

Paul Harvey; Letter from God

What is a policeman - Paul Harvey

Japanese island man lives as naked hermit (while the rest of mankind chases their gross materialistic desires)

(Reuters) - Dangerous currents swirl around Sotobanari island, which has not a drop of natural water, and local fishermen rarely land there.

But 76-year-old Masafumi Nagasaki has made this kidney-shaped island in Japan's tropical Okinawa prefecture his retirement home, with an unusual dress code: nothing at all.

Naked, he braves lashing typhoons and biting insects as a hermit in the buff.

"I don't do what society tells me, but I do follow the rules of the natural world. You can't beat nature so you just have to obey it completely," he said.

"That's what I learned when I came here, and that's probably why I get by so well."

The wiry Nagasaki, his skin leathered by the sun of two decades on the island, worked briefly as a photographer before spending years on the murkier side of the entertainment industry. When retirement came, he wanted to get far away from it all. Read More

More U.S. cities set to enter default danger zone

(Reuters) - America's swelling ranks of fallen municipal borrowers have been blamed in the past year on 'what-were-they-thinking' causes, be it a Taj Mahal sewer system in Alabama or an overpriced trash incinerator in Pennsylvania's capital city of Harrisburg.

But the next series of major cities and counties in danger of defaulting on their debt can hardly point to one single decision for their malaise. Whether it be Detroit, Miami or Providence, Rhode Island, their problems have a lot more to do with financial policies that put them on course to live well beyond their means.

Municipal defaults have shot up since 2007 and are on pace for another high year in 2012, according to Richard Lehmann, publisher of the Distressed Securities Newsletter. Read More

Rotting From Within, Investigating the massive corruption of the Chinese military

In many fields of international competition, China is less sanguine about its abilities than outsiders.

Chinese leaders often remind Westerners that China is a developing country, with hundreds of millions of people living in poverty, an unbalanced economy, and high social tensions. What should most worry Beijing, and provide some comfort to those who fear Chinese military expansionism, is the state of corruption in the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

True, the world underestimated how quickly a four-fold jump in Chinese military spending in the past decade would deliver an array of new weaponry to prevent the United States from interfering in a regional military conflict. Top American generals have worried publicly about "carrier-killer" ballistic missiles designed to destroy U.S. battle groups as far afield as the Philippines, Japan, and beyond. Last year, China tested a prototype stealth fighter and launched its maiden aircraft carrier, to augment new destroyers and nuclear submarines. What is unknown, however, is whether the Chinese military, an intensely secretive organisation only nominally accountable to civilian leaders, can develop the human software to effectively operate and integrate its new hardware.

Judging from a recent series of scathing speeches by one of the PLA's top generals, details of which were obtained by Foreign Policy, it can't: The institution is riddled with corruption and professional decay, compromised by ties of patronage, and asphyxiated by the ever-greater effort required to impose political control. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake COQUIMBO, CHILE - 1st May 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck Coquimbo, Chile at a depth of 58.3 km (36.2 miles), the quake hit at 02:43:34 UTC Tuesday 1st May 2012
The epicenter was 72 km (44 miles) Northeast of Coquimbo, Coquimbo, Chile
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Over 100 Die As Ferry Sinks In Bad Weather in India

More than 100 people have been killed and a similar number are missing after an overcrowded river ferry broke in two and sank in India during a severe storm, police said.

About 150 others were rescued or swam to safety after the incident - but emergency workers struggled to find other survivors, as they were hampered by strong winds, torrential rain and darkness.

India's prime minister Manmohan Singh called the sinking in the north-east of the country a "tragedy".

The double-decker ferry, which was carrying around 350 men, women and children, reportedly had no lifejackets on board.

About 105 bodies have been recovered from the shores of the fast-flowing Brahmaputra river, which is believed to have a reputation as a treacherous, turbulent waterway.

Eyewitness Rahul Karmakar told the AFP news agency: "I could see people being swept away as the river current was very strong." Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN NEW GUINEA REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 1st May 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Eastern New Guinea Region, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 58.7 km (36.5 miles), the quake hit at 01:43:38 UTC Tuesday 1st May 2012
The epicenter was 60 km (37.2 miles) North of Lae, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Ivan Esack Arrested on suspicion of murder for the Death of Natalie Esack at her Salon in Kent

A hairdresser has been stabbed to death in front of her horrified staff just after she opened up her high street salon.

Natalie Esack, aged in her 30s, died from her wounds as her attacker fled past startled shoppers.

An hour later her estranged husband Ivan Esack, a former police detective, was arrested on suspicion of her murder.

Part of Ashford High Street in Kent was cordoned after the attack at Esack Hair And Beauty salon.

Mrs Esack opened the business four years ago and had recently separated from her husband, who registered as a football agent after leaving the Kent police force.

It is understood he resigned from the force two or three years ago following a drugs-related incident. Read More

Free Syrian Army (FSA) still controls large areas of the city of Homs

Despite heavy losses in the Bab Amr district of Homs the Free Syrian Army (FSA) still controls large areas of the city.

The FSA stronghold is the Khaldia district but it manages to keep the Syrian army out of other quarters as well.

The area is devastated. High-rise buildings have collapsed, their floors pancaked one on top of the other.

Shops and houses have also been destroyed by artillery fire. Rubble is strewn everywhere, and there appears not be a single building which is not in some way damaged.

There are still hundreds of civilians living in Khaldia among the FSA fighters who say they are there to protect them. Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake LOYALTY ISLANDS - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the Loyalty Islands at a depth of 8.3 km (5.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:20:37 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 125 km (77 miles) SSW of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.0 Magnitude Earthquake TAJIKISTAN - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has struck Tajikistan at a depth of 178.6 km (111 miles), the quake hit at 22:56:10 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 40 km (24.8 miles) ESE of Khorugh, Tajikistan
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:40:38 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 361 km (224 miles) Southwest of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Kermadec Islands Region at a depth of 36.7 km (22.8 miles), the quake hit at 20:17:45 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 172 km (106 miles) ESE of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 137 km (84.9 miles), the quake hit at 19:15:36 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 37 km (22.9 miles) North of Nuku'alofa, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Talaud, Indonesia at a depth of 48 km (29.8 miles), the quake hit at 19:12:51 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 303 km (187.8 miles) North of Ternate, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake MARIANA ISLANDS REGION - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Mariana Islands Region at a depth of 40 km (24.8 miles), the quake hit at 18:20:08 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 227 km (141 miles) ESE from Pagan, Northern Mariana Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Blasts & killing fail to blow apart Kurdish chance in Syria

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA, INDONESIA - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck the Banda Sea, Indonesia at a depth of 368.7 km (229.1 miles), the quake hit at 18:11:45 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 235 km (146 miles) South from Ambon, Moluccas, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Right foot forward: Anti-EU drive speeds up

Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs as the Media Continues to Justify the Killing and Wounding of Citizens by Rebels


BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad say they are shifting tactics towards homemade bombs, hoping to even the odds between their outgunned forces and his powerful army.

A series of deadly blasts in the past week suggests they are getting better at it.

Suicide bombs, booby-trapped cars and roadside explosions, including blasts in Idlib on Monday and the capital Damascus last week, have rocked the Arab state. The attacks threaten to sour the UN-brokered two-week truce and have killed many from Assad's security agencies.

"We aLinkre starting to get smarter about tactics and use bombs because people are just too poor and we don't have enough rifles," a rebel fighter from the north of Idlib province said last week as he took a break across the border in Turkey. Read More

Chinese warships visit Hong Kong

April 30 - As two Chinese warships dock in Hong Kong for a short visit, the deputy chief of staff of China's South Sea Fleet says the recent U.S.-Philippine military drill did not target any particular country. Nick Rowlands reports.

Once the poster child of crisis, Iceland recovers.....They were Smart and let their Banks go Under instead of Financing their Endless Mistakes

(Reuters) - In this small Icelandic village, sailors are making double their pre-crisis pay, haddock sales to places like Boston and Brussels are booming and unemployment is almost zero - signs of this island's surprisingly rapid rise from the ashes of banking ruin.

While much of Europe wallows in recession, the economy of this volcanic island in the mid Atlantic is growing at a clip that has surprised many people, thanks to a currency fall - in which the crown lost almost half its value to the euro - an export and tourism boom as well as growing consumer confidence.

"This is probably one of our best years," said Arnthor Einarsson, a fisherman readying his boat for his next catch as seagulls circle huge piles of fishing nets on a rocky peninsula about one hour south of the capital Reykjavik. Read More

Social Nationalists in Jordan Condemn Terrorist Blasts in Syria

AMMAN, (SANA) – Social Nationalists in Jordan condemned the terrorist blasts which hit Syria and led to the martyrdom of many civilians and army personnel.

In a statement issued Sunday, the Social Nationalists in Jordan said that the massacres committed against the Syrian people prove that the regional and international powers are seeking to foil any political solution in Syria.

They called on the Arab people to get involved in confronting the cosmic war targeting Syria, considering the participation in confronting this war as a national duty par excellence. Source

Olympics: Missiles May Be Deployed At Six Sites

Surface-to-air missiles could be deployed at six sites across London to prevent any aerial terror attacks on Olympic venues during this summer's Games, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Officials are consulting with residents and housing associations at several locations - including two apartment blocks - in the capital.

The rooftops Lexington House in Bow, Tower Hamlets, and the Fred Wigg Tower in Waltham Forest, both in east London, have been identified as potential sites to host the weapons, capable of shooting down aircraft.

Blackheath Common and Oxleas Wood, both in southeast London, plus William Girling Reservoir in the Lea Valley Reservoir Chain in Enfield, and Barn Hill at Netherhouse Farm in Epping Forest, are also being considered as possible locations.

The move forms part of Olympic Guardian - a major exercise this week involving the testing of security and defence systems by the British army, navy and air force, together with the police.

This includes consultations on the placement of two types of missiles during the Games - the Rapier, and high velocity Starstreak.

Residents and tourists will be able to see typhoon jets and helicopters flying over the city and HMS Ocean venture up the Thames. Read More

Lebanese Army Investigates Illegal Weapons Found Onboard Syria-Bound Ship

On Monday the Lebanese Army summoned several individuals for questioning over the Syria-bound ship that was allegedly carrying illegal arms. The cargo ship, LETFALLAH II, was seized by Lebanese officials on Saturday in the Mediterranean. The eleven member crew is being interrogated as well as several others believed to be in connection with the illegal arms.

The ship’s cargo manifest listed metal goods, and made no mention of weapons. Investigators have learned that the ship had planned to stop in Tripoli before heading to Syria.

In a statement the Lebanese army says "three containers containing a large quantity of weapons in addition to light, medium and heavy ammunition as well as different military equipment" were found onboard. Rocket propelled grenades and high caliber ammunition were among the weapons found inside crates with Libyan markings. One crate is marked “Misrata”, the former base town for Muammar Gaddafi and another has “Tripoli/Benghazi SPLAJ” marked on it.

The 2500 ton Sierra Leone-flagged LETFALLAH II has been impounded and it as well as its 11 crew members have been placed in custody at a navy port in Beirut.

Tripoli has seen many demonstrations in support of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and officials believe it is likely that arms are being smuggled to anti-Assad rebels.

Last month, Russia accused Libya of arming and training Syrian rebels. In response to these accusations, Libya’s Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib, said that he is not aware of arming or training camps but does acknowledge Libya’s strong support of the uprising in Syria. Read More

6 dead in SE China landslide

FUZHOU, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Six people have been confirmed dead after a landslide buried a work shed in southeast China's Fujian province last week, local authorities said Monday.

The disaster occurred at 3:30 p.m. on April 24 in Longdeyang village of Daqiao township, Gutian county, burying six people, according to the county government.

Rescuers have retrieved five bodies, and have claimed there is no chance that the missing person has survived.

An investigation blamed illegal rare earth mining, recent rains and landslide-prone geological conditions for the disaster.

Local police authorities have launched an investigation into the illegal mining activities.

Two suspects have been apprehended by police. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck South of Java, Indonesia at a depth of 33.3 km (20.7 miles), the quake hit at 16:56:44 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 218 km (135 miles) Southwest from Sukabumi, Java, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 30.7 km (19.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:53:15 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 124 km (77 miles) ESE from Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 35.5 km (22.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:11:34 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 263 km (163 miles) East from Sendai, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE - 30th Apr 2012

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the Dodecanese Islands, Greece at a depth of 9 km (5.6 miles), the quake hit at 15:23:24 UTC Monday 30th April 2012
The epicenter was 78 km (48 miles) North of Iraklion, Crete, Greece
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Top Obama aide offers legal defense of drone strikes

Image: Drone Victim Noor Syed aged just 8

(Reuters) - The deadly U.S. campaign of drone strikes against al Qaeda is fully legal under international law, President Barack Obama's counterterrorism chief insisted on Monday in the most extensive justification of a controversial tactic that has eliminated some of the most-wanted militants.

Speaking on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan, the White House aide, John Brennan, said the U.S. administration holds itself to a "rigorous" review process in deciding on drone targets in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The bin Laden commando raid and unmanned air strikes in Pakistan have severely strained relations between Washington and Islamabad.

"I'm here today because President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts," Brennan said in a speech to a Washington think tank. Source