Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whale stranded on Northumberland beach dies

A minke whale that became stranded on a beach in Northumberland has had to be put down by vets.

The beautiful eight-metre long animal was found in Druridge Bay at 7.50am on Wednesday morning.

Experts from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDLMR) rushed to its aid after the Humber Coastguard were alerted to the beaching by a member of public.

But, after being assessed, the whale was deemed as being too thin to be returned to the sea. Read More

Julian Assange could be in London embassy for ten years, warns Ecuadorian minister

The Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino has accused the UK Government of infringing on Julian Assange's human rights and warned that the Wikileaks founder could be stuck in the London embassy for up to ten years if he is not allowed to leave and travel to Ecuador.


Mr Patino will meet with William Hague on Thursday to demand that the UK allows Julian Assange to leave the embassy in Kensington, where he has been living for the past three months after seeking asylum there, and travel to Ecuador.

Assange was granted asylum last month by the Ecuadorians who believe that he will be sent to face charges in the US should he be extradited to Sweden by the UK.

The Metropolitan Police have threatened to arrest Mr Assange if he leaves the embassy, citing the obligation it has to carry out the extradition ordered by a British magistrate following the execution of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Swedes.

Assange is wanted for questioning by the Swedes over allegations of sexual assault but fears he will be sent to the US, where he fears prosecution under the Espionage Act for his work with Wikileaks. Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 27th September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA at a depth of 44.5 km (27.7 miles), the quake hit at 03:28:51 UTC Thursday 27th September 2012
The epicenter was 85 km (53 miles) West from Adak, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake JUJUY, ARGENTINA - 27th September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck JUJUY, ARGENTINA at a depth of 190.3 km (118.3 miles), the quake hit at 01:36:29 UTC Thursday 27th September 2012
The epicenter was 99 km (61miles) West of El Aguilar, Argentina
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN ITALY - 27th September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN ITALY at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles), the quake hit at 01:08:24 UTC Thursday 27th September 2012
The epicenter was 2 km (1.2 miles) North of Montecalvo Irpino, Italy
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHWESTERN IRAN - 27th September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck NORTHWESTERN IRAN at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:56:04 UTC Thursday 27th September 2012
The epicenter was 32 km (19 miles) WSW of Ahar, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Magnitude 6.9 Earthquake - ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS., ALASKA

Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Magnitude6.9
Date-Time
Location51.583°N, 178.200°W
Depth40.5 km (25.2 miles)
RegionANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS., ALASKA
Distances34 km (21 miles) S of Tanaga Volcano, Alaska
1487 km (923 miles) SSE of Anadyr', Russia
1580 km (981 miles) E of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia
1597 km (992 miles) E of Yelizovo, Russia
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 14.4 km (8.9 miles); depth +/- 7.5 km (4.7 miles)
ParametersNST=711, Nph=715, Dmin=110.2 km, Rmss=1.16 sec, Gp= 50°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
Source
  • Magnitude: NOAA West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, Palmer, Alaska, USA
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event IDusc000cwni

US Postal Service Prepares for Second Default in Two Months

The U.S. Postal Service will default this week on a $5.6 billion congressionally mandated obligation to pre-fund retiree health benefits, marking the second time in two months the cash-strapped agency has done this.

The Postal Service last month failed to pay $5.5 billion for its fiscal 2011 prepayment obligation, which originally was due in September 2011 but was deferred by Congress until Aug. 1. That was the first time it ever defaulted on a payment to the Treasury Department. The $5.6 billion due this week, on Sept. 30, represents this fiscal year’s obligation.

Before this year, Congress helped USPS defer pre-funding payments required by a 2006 congressional mandate. Postal reform has challenged this Congress. Lawmakers warn that when they revisit the issue after the November election they likely won’t reach agreement on as major an overhaul as some deem necessary. USPS lost $5.2 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2012, $2.1 billion more than during the same time period in 2011. more

Rocket from Syria lands in northern Israel, Damascus official denies reports of misplaced army shelling

A top Syrian government official speaking to KleinOnline denied that a rocket launched from Syria that landed in northern Israeli territory today was misplaced Syrian army firing, as has been widely reported.

“I am not aware of any clashes between the Syrian Army and the rebels taking place so close to the Israeli border,” added the Syrian official. “In any case, the Syrian army does not fire rockets against the rebels.”

The official further said that mortars launched from Syria that landed in Israel yesterday were not related to any fighting between the rebels and the Syrian army.

The official refused to say whether he believed the mortars or rocket were fired at Israel deliberately either by Syrian forces or by jihad groups.

As Israelis celebrated Yom Kippur today, one rocket landed in the Golan Heights and several mortars landed yesterday near Kibbutz Elrom in the northern Golan Heights.

The projectiles were widely reported as mortars apparently fired by the Syrian army at the Syrian village of Jubata Al Khashab in response to Syrian rebel activity in the area. more

North Korean fishing boat incursions mysteriously start to begin at night

Yet another North Korean fishing vessel has crossed the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea and been ordered to return to North Korean waters by the ROK Navy.

According to the military official who released the news this lunchtime, “A single North Korean fishing vessel crossed the NLL to the east of Yeonpyeong Island at 9:38PM last night and travelled 0.4 nautical miles south. One of our naval speedboats was immediately dispatched, and the vessel retreated as soon as it was issued with a warning.”

Seven similar violations of the NLL by fishing vessels have occurred this month alone. However, it is the first such violation to occur at night.

“We think that they may have been testing our nighttime naval readiness,” the official said. “It is rare for North Korean fishing vessels to cross the NLL at night, so we are watching what is going on in North Korea very closely.”

The latest case is particularly suspicious because it is currently the blue crab fishing season, and that is something that occurs almost exclusively in the daytime.As such, the military authorities wonder whether the fishing vessel was populated by soldiers rather than ordinary fishermen. source

"I'm Lovin' It": Fast-Food Logos 'Imprinted' in Children's Brains, Study Says

Childhood obesity is a growing health concern in the public sphere, but for many of us, it also hits close to home. But while public health campaigns have singled in on parents providing children with unhealthy nutrition options and with poor examples of healthy eating, new research indicates that some of the problem may lie with fast food companies and their overly effective marketing campaigns. A study has found that fast-food logos are branded into the minds of children from an early age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past 30 years. And perhaps more damning, the government bureau reports that "[the] percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period."

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center, showed children 60 logos from popular food brands, like Rice Krispies and KFC and 60 logos from popular non-food brands, like BMW and FedEx. The children were aged between 10 and 14. Then, using a functional MRI scanner, which measures blood flow to different areas in the brain, they watched the brains of these children react to the different logos.

When showed images of fast food companies, the parts of the brain that control pleasure and appetite lit up. The brains did not do the same when showed images from companies not associated with food. more

Obama accused of 'sitting with Iran'



A group critical of the president's foreign policy has unleased an ad in key swing states accusing President Obama of favoring Iran over Israel, highlighting how U.S. officials didn't storm out of the United Nations this week when Iranian President Ahmadinejad said the Jewish state would be eliminated.

The group Let Freedom Ring sent the ads to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin as part of a $7 million campaign to question Obama's support for Israel.

The ad uses visuals to make their case, noting that the U.S. delegation did not storm out of the chamber as did Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor, then asks: "Why did your administration sit with Iran rather than stand with Israel? Why Mr. President, Why?"

Let Freedom Ring president Colin Hanna said, "His abandonment of Israel, America's closest ally, is just the latest example that we are exposing." Source

Angela Merkel: Europe must stay the course with painful reform

Angela Merkel issued a blunt warning to Germany's ailing eurozone neighbours yesterday, telling them that pressing ahead with painful reforms and tough budget policies was the only way of resolving Europe's intractable and deepening economic crisis.

The Chancellor made her remarks in a speech to the Federation of German Industries on another day of turmoil in the currency bloc. The Spanish government faced mass anti-austerity protests in Madrid, while Greece was reported to be billions of euro off-track in meeting the terms of its bailout. Meanwhile, the ratings agency Standard and Poor's once again highlighted the grim state of the EU economy, forecasting that the eurozone would not return to growth until at least 2014.

Against such a gloomy backdrop, Ms Merkel insisted: "We need to take a deep breath to overcome this crisis. We must make the efforts that will allow Europe to emerge from the crisis stronger than it went in."

The German leader conceded that hard-won reforms in southern Europe had helped, but said there was still work to do. The markets, she added, had doubts about their ability pay back their debts. Her comments were overshadowed by the continuing crises in Spain and Greece. The government in Athens conceded yesterday that it would need between €13bn to €15bn more in funding if it were given the two-year extension to the bailout plan it has been requesting. Read More

"Iranian officers reshape Assad’s Shabbiha militia into a second al-Qods", Iranian forces on border with Israel and are ready to strike

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has leapt into the Syrian battle arena, undertaking the task of transforming the Alawite Shabbiha militia, which has carried the brunt of Bashar Assad’s brutal suppression of the Syrian opposition for 18 months, into a new corps, retrained and reorganized on the model of the elite Al Qods Brigade.
Al Qods is the IRGC’s arm of clandestine and terrorist operations in Iran's foreign arenas.

debkafile’s military sources report exclusively that when the Shabbiha is slapped into its new military shape, Bashar Assad will have at his disposal an extra 50-60,000 professional Alawite soldiers under arms – the nucleus of a Syrian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Our sources also reveal that Tehran has promised the Syrian outfit weaponry on a par with the Al Qods arsenal. So, unless he is overthrown in the interim, the Syrian ruler and Iranian government will command the biggest special operations force in the Middle East.
For this project, a massive Iranian airlift of personnel and weapons is running daily from IRGC air bases in Iran into Syria. Most of the planes land at Damascus military airfield; some in other parts of Syria. They are carrying large numbers of IRGC and al Qods military officers and instructors, as well as enough arms to distribute to the Shabbiha combatants during their training and after they go out on field operations.

Our military sources disclose that by mid-week, the number of Iranian military personnel present in Syria had swelled to 2,200. They arrived with the commander of Tehran’s Syrian enterprise, Gen. Ibrahim Hamadani, one of the deputies of Al Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. more

Greek police dodge Molotov cocktails

Sept. 26 - Greek police kicked away flaming Molotov cocktails thrown by angry demonstrators during an anti-austerity protest in Athens.

Iran under military threat by "uncivilized Zionists": Ahmadinejad

Sept. 26 - Iran is under threat of military action from ''uncivilized Zionists,'' a clear reference to Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells the U.N. General Assembly, saying that such threats are designed to force nations into submission.

Syrian rebels claim Damascus blasts

Sept. 26 - The Free Syrian Army say they are behind two explosions at a top military command building in the capital, Damascus. Simon Hanna reports.

WHO warns of SARS-like virus before haj

(Reuters) - The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged health workers everywhere to report patients with acute respiratory infection who may have been in Saudi Arabia or Qatar, following the discovery of a new virus from the same family as SARS.

Saudi Arabia said it had taken precautions to prevent disease spreading next month, when it expects over 2 million Muslims to flock to the annual haj pilgrimage, then return home.

WHO put out a global alert on Sunday saying a new virus had infected a 49-year-old Qatari who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia, where another man with an almost identical virus had died.

The Qatari remained critically ill in hospital in Britain as of Tuesday, but the WHO said on Wednesday no new case of the new virus had been reported.

"We've got things in place should things change, should the behavior of the virus change," spokesman Gregory Hartl said. Read More

Pakistan Islamist accuses Obama of religious war on Muslims

(Reuters) - One of Pakistan's most feared Islamists accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of starting a religious war against Muslims over his handling of a video that mocked the Prophet Mohammad.

Hafiz Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the 2008 attack by Pakistani gunmen on India's financial capital Mumbai, said Obama should have ordered steps to remove the film from the Internet instead of defending freedom of expression in America.

"Obama's statements have caused a religious war," Saeed told Reuters in an interview. "This is a very sensitive issue. This is not going to be resolved soon. Obama's statement has started a cultural war."

The Obama administration has condemned the film, which ignited Muslim protests around the world as "disgusting". Read More

Anti-austerity protests erupt on streets of Athens, Madrid

(Reuters) - Demonstrators clashed with police on the streets of Athens and Madrid on Wednesday in an upsurge of popular anger at new austerity measures being imposed on two of the euro zone's most vulnerable economies.

In some of the most violent confrontations, Greek police fired tear gas at hooded rioters hurling petrol bombs as thousands joined the country's biggest protest in more than a year.

The unrest erupted after nearly 70,000 people marched to the Greek parliament chanting "EU, IMF Out!" on the day of a general strike against further cuts demanded by foreign lenders.

"We can't take it anymore - we are bleeding. We can't raise our children like this," said Dina Kokou, a 54-year-old teacher and mother of four who lives on 1,000 euros ($1,250) a month.

In Madrid, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faced violence on the streets of the capital and growing talk of secession in Catalonia as he moves cautiously closer to asking Europe for a bailout, aware that such an action has cost other European leaders their jobs. Read More

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE at a depth of 100 km (62 miles), the quake hit at 17:44:59 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 38 km (23.6 miles) East of Calama, Chile
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS at a depth of 110.2 km (68.5 miles), the quake hit at 17:15:53 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 360 km (223 miles) North of Raoul Island, New Zealand
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 51.6 km (32.1 miles), the quake hit at 15:27:39 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 176 km (109 miles) ESE of Pondaguitan, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN IRAN - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN IRAN at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:14:20 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 35 km (21 miles) NNW of Msanga, Tanzania
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN IRAN - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN IRAN at a depth of 39.6 km (24.6 miles), the quake hit at 11:52:53 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 127 km (78 miles) WSW of Gerash, Iran
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Spain seethes as country inches toward aid

(Reuters) - Violent protests in Madrid and growing talk of secession in Catalonia are piling pressure on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he moves closer to asking Europe for rescue money.

In public, Rajoy has been resisting calls from bankers at home and the leaders of France and Italy to move quickly to request assistance, but behind the scenes he is putting together the pieces to meet the stringent conditions for aid.

With protesters stepping up anti-austerity demonstrations, Rajoy presents painful economic reforms and a tough 2013 budget on Thursday, aiming to persuade euro zone partners and investors that Spain is doing its deficit-cutting homework despite a recession and 25 percent unemployment.

Figures released on Tuesday suggested Spain will miss its public deficit target of 6.3 percent of gross domestic product this year, and on Wednesday the central bank said the economy continued to contract sharply in the third quarter.

By pre-empting reforms demanded by Brussels -- such as creating an independent fiscal auditor -- Rajoy hopes to sell them to voters as home-grown rather than imposed from outside. Read More

Protest Turns Violent In Athens

A fire bomb explodes behind a riot police squad in Athens during clashes with demonstrators at a 24-hour general strike.

Violence has flared in the Greek capital after workers started a general strike in protest against the new government's implementation of eurozone austerity cuts.

The demonstration in Athens kicked off on Wednesday morning, led by families pushing prams, protesting against the social reforms.

But it quickly descended into running battles between a hard-core of activists and riot police, with firebombs thrown and police baton charges in response.

Dozens of police riot vans were deployed near the nation's parliament, to avert an attack on the seat of power.

Called by the country's two biggest labour unions, the 24-hour strike has affected banks, schools and state services - with hospitals operating on skeleton staff. Read More

Abu Hamza In High Court Extradition Challenge

Abu Hamza has launched a last-minute challenge in the High Court in a bid to prevent his extradition to the US.

A spokeswoman for the Judicial Office confirmed that the radical Muslim cleric and four other terror-suspects are "seeking injunctions preventing their removal from the UK".

She said: "A High Court judge has considered the applications on the papers and adjourned the cases to a hearing in open court.

"The judge has issued interim injunctions preventing their removal prior to those hearings. The judge has directed the hearings to be fixed urgently."

It is possible the case could be heard as early as Thursday. Hamza's lawyers have fought a successful campaign to fight his extradition for several years.

His grounds for appeal are not known as this stage, though they could be based on health grounds. Hamza has also claimed he would be treated unfairly if he were sent to the US.

The application comes after the European Court of Human Rights rejected a similar attempt by the cleric and four other suspects to prevent their extradition. Read More

NEW ID LAWS COULD DELAY OUTCOME OF CLOSE ELECTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The presidential election is Nov. 6, but it could take days to figure out the winner if the vote is close. New voting laws are likely to increase the number of people who have to cast provisional ballots in key states.

Tight races for Congress, governor and local offices also could be stuck in limbo while election officials scrutinize ballots, a scenario that would surely attract legions of campaign lawyers from both parties.

"It's a possibility of a complete meltdown for the election," said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida.

Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons: They don't bring proper ID to the polls; they fail to update their voter registration after moving; they try to vote at the wrong precinct; or their right to vote is challenged by someone.

These voters may have their votes counted, but only if election officials can verify that they were eligible to vote, a process that can take days or weeks. Adding to the potential for chaos: Many states won't even know how many provisional ballots have been cast until sometime after Election Day. Read More

DIRTY: Military Voters in Wisc. Told to Submit Ballots -- Week After Deadline!

The Federal Voting Assistance Program website published an incorrect deadline for the return of returning military ballots in Wisconsin. Had this error not been corrected, thousands of Wisconsin servicemen and women could have been disenfranchised in this key swing state this November.

The FVAB website incorrectly stated ballots must be returned by November 16. The actual deadline is 4 p.m. November 9. Any military ballots received in that intervening week would not have been counted by local and state election officials.

MacIver News Service contacted the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board about the error on Tuesday and requested comment.

"All Wisconsin absentee ballots are due by 4 p.m. the Friday after the election. The FVAP site was incorrect," said Reid Magney, GAB spokesman in an emailed response to the inquiry.

Ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day, which in 2012 is Tuesday, November 6th. Read More

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake COSTA RICA - 26th September 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck COSTA RICA at a depth of 53.2 km (32.5 miles), the quake hit at 11:37:26 UTC Wednesday 26th September 2012
The epicenter was 73 km (45 miles) SSE from Liberia, Costa Rica
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Syria: 3 cities, 1 war, thousands dead

Thousands protest 'extreme sacrifices' in Greece

(CNN) -- Thousands of Greeks took to the streets Wednesday to protest new austerity measures that critics described as draconian.

The protests -- the first general strike since Greece's new coalition government was formed in June -- come amid the nation's struggling economy and soaring debt.

Greece has agreed to a harsh austerity program and labor market reforms, which have led to violent street demonstrations and crippling unemployment in the past. Read More

Iran Test-Fires Missiles Designed To Hit Warships...

TEHRAN, Iran -
Iranian military leaders gave details of a new long-range drone and test fired four anti-ship missiles Tuesday in a prelude to upcoming naval war games planned in an apparent response to U.S.-led warship drills in the Persian Gulf.


The show of Iranian military readiness and its latest tool -- a domestically made drone capable of reaching Israel and most of the Middle East -- also came as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday amid a deepening impasse with the West over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad on Monday held open hope for renewed dialogue with the United States, but told reporters in New York that Iran was "fully ready" to defend itself from attacks. In Tehran, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, also warned that U.S. bases in the Gulf could face retaliatory strikes if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear sites.

The West and its allies fear Iran's uranium enrichment program could lead to atomic weapons, but the U.S. and others favor a mix of sanctions and diplomacy to try to force Tehran to curb its nuclear program. Iran claims it only seeks nuclear power for energy and medical applications.

On Tuesday, Hajizadeh described the new drone as a key strategic additional to Iran's military capabilities with the ability to carry out reconnaissance missions or be armed with "bombs and missiles." Read more

AHMADINEJAD PUSHES NEW WORLD ORDER

NEW YORK (AP) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that a new world order needs to emerge, away from years of what he called American bullying and domination.

Ahmadinejad spoke to The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly - his last as president of Iran. He was to address the assembly Wednesday morning.

The Iranian leader also discussed solutions for the Syrian civil war, dismissed the question of Iran's nuclear ambition and claimed that despite Western sanctions his country is better off than it was when he took office in 2005.

"God willing, a new order will come together and we'll do away with everything that distances us," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through a translator. "I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it."

"Now even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying," he said. Read More

Rebels Ransack Alawite Village in Lattakia, Syria

US voter ID laws could bar 10 mn Hispanics: study

Peak oil & the end of our industrial civilization with Max Keiser

GREEK DEBT: under-reported in 2007, over-reported in 2009, and indeterminate in 2012'

A couple of days ago, Der Spiegel gave the Greeks something of a hammering by sensationally alleging that the country’s deficit isn’t €12.5bn at all, but in fact €20bn. But from Day One, the real size of the country’s problem has been the subject of wildly differing views.

The Spiegel piece is interesting in that it is Wolfgang Schäuble’s systemic leak aperture of choice, and would thus suggest that Berlin’s FinMin at least has decided an onslaught of “they’re useless” is called for prior to summary Greek ejection from the eurozone.

As always, the situation in Germany is confused, with Merkel blowing this way and that but, on the whole, convinced that chucking Athens out of the ezone would be the start of a rush for the door…stopping off to raid the ECB’s bailout coffers on the way. Indeed, Der Spiegel itself reported as much a fortnight ago.

But the Bankfurt faction has gained ground in recent weeks, and Germany’s Finance Minister shares many of their concerns. Unsurprisingly, the Greeks have flatly denied the Spiegel story: but over time, there have been charges of both under and over-reporting the Greek debt problems as circumstances dictated.

Many in the Greek intelligentsia have long maintained that George Papandreou was persuaded by Berlin in 2009 to overstate the problem he’d given them on coming to power. Three weeks ago, Zoe Georganta of the Greek Statistical Authority ELSTAT wrote a long piece after studying that period very closely. This was her conclusion:

‘Based on the most recent official data published by Eurostat for our country on the 14th April 2012, the item K for the year 2009 is small: it is equal to 0.1% of GDP. It is noted that Eurostat has defined K as small if it is not higher than 2% of GDP….the following years 2010, 2011 and 2012 (forecast) K suddenly and mysteriously jumped up from 0.1% of GDP to 2.8%, 3.03% and 26.2% of GDP respectively, with a corresponding deficit as a percentage of GDP equal to 10.3%, 9.1% and 6.7%…[from available data and minutes of the time] I can support that the debt of 2009 was inflated by 27.914 billion euros…18.214 billion euros of debt were transferred from the private to the public sector in a seemingly “urgent”, non-transparent and totally unchecked way…’. Read More

Obama’s Benghazi moment

The “Benghazi moment” is likely engendering a rethink in the United States’ regional strategies in the Middle East. One is inclined to agree with the Time magazine’s assessment that a Libya-style intervention by the US in Syria now becomes highly unlikely. 

A curious aspect of Tony Karon’s analysis is that he tosses the Syrian ball into the court of the Arab governments.

This is also in sync with the White House “readout” of President Barack Obama’s latest telecon with Turkish PM Recep Erdogan. The tone is restrained despite Erdogan’s deep frustration (which he openly voiced in a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour) that the regime change in Syria may not come anytime soon and in the meanwhile he has been left holding a can of worms, with Obama in to mood to accept the can into his hands.

The White House said Obama and Erdogan “pledged to advance this important work” and left things delightfully vague at that. Meanwhile, there is a furious assault being mounted on Obama by the US’ allies who are disenchanted with his manifest reticence in getting America involved in a potentially debilitating Syrian quagmire.

The Saudi lobby in the US is indeed hitting out at Obama: “Syria burns and calls for help, but the call goes unanswered. The civil war there has become a great Sunni-Shiite schism. Lebanon teeters on the edge. More important, trouble has spilled into Turkey. The Turks have come to resent the American abdication and the heavy burden the Syrian struggle has imposed on them. In contrast, the mullahs in Iran have read the landscape well and are determined to sustain the Assad dictatorship.” Yes, Saudis are indeed turning up the heat. Read More

The Summer of Muslim Discontent: It’s Not “The Amateur Film” Stupid

Introduction: The so-called “Arab Spring:” is a distant and bitter memory to those who fought and struggled for a better world, not to speak of the thousands who lost, life and limb.

In its place, throughout the Muslim world, a new wave of reactionaries, corrupt and servile politicians have taken the reins of power buttressed by the same military, secret police and judicial power who sustained the previous rulers[2]. Death and destruction is rampant, poverty and misery has multiplied, law and order has broken down, retrograde thugs have seized political power, where previously they were a marginal force. Living standards have plunged, cities are devastated and commerce is paralyzed. And presiding over this “Arab Winter” are the Western powers, the US and EU, - with the aid of the despotic Gulf absolutist monarchies, their Turkish ally and a motley army of mercenary Islamic terrorists and their would-be exile spokespeople.

The legacy of imperial intervention in the Muslim world during the first decade of the 21st century, in terms of lives lost, in people displaced, in economies destroyed, in perpetual warfare, exceeds any previous decade, including 19th and 20th century colonial conquests. Much of the latest Western mayhem and violence has been compressed in the period dubbed the “Arab Spring” between 2011 – 2012. Moreover, the worst is to come. The Western overseers have gained strategic positions of power in some countries(Egypt), are engaged in prolonged ruinous wars in others (Syria) and are preparing for even bigger and more destructive military intervention in still others (Iran).

The “Winter of Muslim Discontent” covers an entire arc from Pakistan, Afghanistan in South Asia, through the Gulf region and the Middle East to North Africa. In the throes of the worst economic crises to hit the West since the 1930’s, the Western imperialist regimes have squeezed their people, mobilized personnel, arms and money to engage in simultaneous wars in five regions and two continents – in pursuit of overthrowing political adversaries and installing clients, even if it results in the destruction of the economy and uprooting of millions.

Madrid clashes: Dramatic footage of night violence in Spain

Keiser Report: Bankstatocracy

Euro zone worries sends shares lower

(Reuters) - European shares fell sharply and the single currency hit a two-week low on Wednesday as popular opposition within the euro zone to budget austerity measures unnerved investors already worried about a weak global growth outlook.

The market's focus was on Spain and Greece: protesters clashed with police in Madrid on Tuesday as the government prepared to unveil its 2013 budget on Thursday; and Greeks held a general strike as ministers sought to renegotiate a bailout.

The worries over a worsening in the euro zone's financial crisis have contributed to a sharp rise in volatility on equity markets, leading to the worst day since June for the S&P 500 index on Tuesday and subsequent falls across Asia.

"With the demonstrations in Madrid on Tuesday, the euro zone crisis is intensifying again, and this had an immediate impact on U.S. indexes last night," FXCM analyst Nicolas Cheron said.

Also fuelling negative sentiment, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said on Tuesday that the Fed's latest monetary stimulus will not do much to boost economic growth or lower unemployment and raises the risk of longer-run inflation. Read More

Spanish tango sparks late sell-off

Sept 25 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street falls as Spanish protesters clash with police, overlooking U.S. housing, consumer data; Google touches lifetime high; Barnes and Noble turns to video; Amazon and Nasdaq team-up in the cloud. Conway G. Gittens reports.

Greece faces first big anti-austerity strike

(Reuters) - Flights and trains were suspended, shops pulled down their shutters and hospitals worked on emergency staff on Wednesday in Greece's first big anti-austerity strike since a coalition government took power in June.

Called by the country's two biggest unions representing half the four-million-strong work force, the walkout is expected to bring out thousands of Greeks to the streets to protest at a new round of belt-tightening demanded by EU and IMF lenders.

"The new measures are unbearable, unfair and only worsen the crisis. We are determined to fight until we win," said Costas Tsikrikas, head of the ADEDY public sector union.

"We call on all workers to join us in the march against the policies that the troika is imposing."

The traditional summer break has allowed the conservative-led government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to enjoy relative calm on the streets since narrowly coming to power on a pro-euro, pro-bailout platform. Read More

EU lawmakers to vote for sweeping markets reforms

(Reuters) - Curbs on firms that trade shares faster than the blink of an eye move a step nearer in the European Union on Wednesday when the bloc's parliament votes to introduce sweeping reforms of securities markets.

High-frequency trading has been singled out by regulators and policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic for favoring speculators and adding to volatility.

High-frequency trading by Optiver, IMC Trading and other firms involves posting orders for milliseconds at a time to exploit tiny differences in share prices. The firms involved say they are courted by exchanges to provide liquidity to markets.

The European Parliament's economic affairs committee votes at 9.30 a.m. EDT to update an EU law known as Mifid, which was instrumental in ending national stock exchange monopolies.

A cross-party move to force traders to place orders in markets for at least half a second is expected to be voted through. Read More

Mona Eltahawy Arrested for spray painting graffiti over anti-jihad NY subway ad

An Egyptian-born U.S. columnist was arrested Tuesday for spray painting an advertisement equating Muslim radicals with savages at a New York City subway station.

Mona Eltahawy, 45, of New York, was arrested on charges including criminal mischief and making graffiti, police said.

Eltahawy is a women's rights defender and lecturer on the role of social media in the Arab world. She calls herself a liberal Muslim who's spoken publicly against violent Islamic groups.

The incident was captured on video, which shows Eltahawy spraying pink paint on the ad while another woman tries to block her.

'This is non-violent protest, see this America' Eltahawy said as police officers were arresting her. 'I'm an Egyptian-American and I refuse hate.' Read More

X-37B: U.S. Air Force readying third launch for top-secret spy plane, which analysts say can see through clouds and bad weather

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to send its super-secret spy plane into orbit for a third time, but details of the mission will once again be kept under wraps.

The X-37B, an unmanned and reusable spacecraft built by Boeing, will launch sometime in October.

Next month’s blast-off will reportedly test the X-37B’s reusability, it’s instruments and just how feasible it is for future missions.

Major Tracy Bunko at the Pentagon’s Air Force press desk, told Space.com: 'One of the most promising aspects of the X-37B is it enables us to examine a payload system or technology in the environment in which it will perform its mission and inspect them when we bring them back to Earth.'

'Returning an experiment via the X-37B OTV enables detailed inspection and significantly better learning than can be achieved by remote telemetry alone.'

While the launch is slated for October, the exact date is not yet set in stone... Read More

Russia suspends import and use of American GM corn after study revealed cancer risk

Russia has suspended the import and use of an American GM corn following a study suggesting a link to breast cancer and organ damage.

Separately, the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), has ordered its own review in to the research, which was conducted at a French university.

The decision by Russia could be followed by other nations in what would be a severe blow to the take-up of the controversial technology.

Historically, biotech companies have proved the safety of GM crops based on trials involving feeding rats for a period of 90 days.

However, experts at the University of Caen conducted an experiment running for the full lives of rats - two years.

The findings, which were peer reviewed by independent experts before being published in a respected scientific journal, found raised levels of breast cancer, liver and kidney damage. Read More

Nasa reveals massive halo of hot gas that envelops our universe

It is an astonishing reminder of just how large the universe is.

Nasa today revealed this incredible image showing our Milky Way Galaxy is embedded in an enormous halo of hot gas that extends for hundreds of thousands of light years.

The estimated mass of the halo is comparable to the mass of all the stars in the galaxy. Read More

Scientists back theory that life was brought to Earth by space microbes

Extraterrestrial microbes might have brought life to Earth after travelling through space for millions of years, say scientists.

The theory is based on calculations showing a high likelihood of rock fragments from planets in other star systems landing on Earth long ago.

Some of them could have carried embedded micro-organisms, according to experts writing in the journal Astrobiology.

The research suggests the dormant bugs could easily have survived the long journey through space, despite high levels of cosmic radiation.

Simple life may equally well have travelled from Earth to planets outside the Solar System, the scientists believe.

The process, known as lithopanspermia, could mean the universe is teeming with Earth-like life. Read More

Obama tells United Nations it is 'time to heed the words of Gandhi', condemns 'disgusting' anti-Islam video and insists 'Muslims have suffered the most at the hands of extremism'

President Barack Obama delivered an extensive denunciation of a 'crude and disgusting' anti-Islam video made in California, telling the United Nations that 'it is time to heed the words of Gandhi' and declaring: 'The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.'

Obama strongly condemned the protests that spread across the Middle East and the murder of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, branding them 'an assault on America'.

But he stated that the unrest and murderous attacks were the result of the low-budget video, which had 'sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world'. Read More

Chinese protester opposing government takeover of village land 'is crushed to death by state-controlled road-flattening truck'

This is the horrifying moment a Chinese protester was allegedly brutally crushed to death by a government road flattening truck over a land dispute.

The demonstrator had apparently resisted a government relocation when he appeared to be crushed by the huge vehicle on the orders of a Chinese government official.

The victim, named as He Zhi Hua, had refused to accept a small sum to relocate from Changsha Village in Hunan Province, where government officials want to claim land for commercial use.

Instead, when Hua began lying down on the land in protest, a construction vehicle reportedly crushed him to death with its huge rollers, allegedly on the orders of the local Vice Mayor.

The local authorities had already evicted many others from Changsha Village when the state-owned construction vehicle carried out the killing, according to reports. Read More

Vasili Arkhipoy the submariner who single-handedly averted World War Three at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis

He was the man who saved the world by single-handedly averting World War Three five decades ago, yet he died humiliated, outcast and an unknown. Only now has his story has come to light.

A documentary shown tonight told how for 13 days during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the world held its breath as the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. stood on the brink of nuclear war.

At the height of the Cold War, when paranoia on both sides meant the slightest provocation could spark nuclear war, four submarines secretly set sail from Russia to communist Cuba.

Only a handful of the submariners on board knew that their ships carried nuclear weapons, each with the strength of the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.

Vasili Arkhipov, aboard the sub B59, was one of them. As his craft neared Cuba, U.S.
helicopters, aeroplanes and battleships were scouring the ocean for Russian subs. Read More

UK Floods, Foam & Delays

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