Archive for 10/10/2011

Report: Germany is Pushing Behind the Scenes for a ‘Hard’ Default in Greece

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By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard – “Germany is pushing behind the scenes for a ‘hard’ default in Greece with losses of up to 60pc for banks and pension funds, risking a chain-reaction across southern Europe unless credible defences are established first.

Officials in Berlin told The Telegraph it is ‘more likely than not’ that investors will suffer fresh losses on holdings of Greek debt, beyond the 21pc haircut agreed in July.

The exact level will depend on findings by the EU-IMF ‘Troika’ in Athens.

‘A lot has happened since July. Greece has fallen back on its commitments, so we have to assume that the 21pc cut is no longer enough,’ said one source.

Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that the original haircuts were ‘probably’ too low, saying banks must have ‘sufficient capital’ to cover greater losses if need be. Estimates near 60pc have been circulating in Berlin.

The shift in German policy has ominous echoes of last year when Chancellor Angela Merkel first called for bondholder haircuts, setting off investor flight from Ireland and a fresh spasm in the EU debt crisis.

‘This could set off a snowball effect,’ said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS. ‘The markets will instantly switch attention to Portugal, where two-year yields are already 17pc’.” Read more.

Categories: Man-Made Disasters

Brace for Impact: Scientists Warn Another Out-of-Control 3-Ton Satellite is Hurtling Towards Earth at High Speed

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By ALLAN HALL – “Earth has been told to brace for a possible satellite collision as an orbiting telescope weighing nearly three tons has spun out of control and is plummeting homewards.

ROSAT, a German X-ray telescope built with British and American technology, has been orbiting the Earth since 1990 and has provided invaluable data on stars. But they lost contact with it in 1999.

It is now predicted to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at the end of this month.

The German Aerospace Center has warned that 30 ‘individual pieces weighing a total of 1.6 tons may reach the surface of the Earth’.

ROSAT’s heat-resistant mirror in particular may not burn up upon re-entry and falling debris may include razor-sharp shards.

However Professor Heiner Klinkrad of the European Space Agency assured: ‘Until now in the more than 50-years of space history not a single person has been harmed [by pieces of falling satellites].’

ROSAT was launched on June 1, 1990, from U.S. launch site Cape Canaveral for what was originally intended as an 18-month mission.

It actually operated for more than eight years, finally shutting down on February 12, 1999. It is now expected to hit the Earth at some point between now and December.” Read more.

Categories: Cosmic Craziness

Video Shows Egyptian Police Beating a Christian Protester

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“(AINA) — On October 4 thousands of Copts staged a peaceful rally to protest the September 30 torching by Muslims of St. George’s Church in Elmarinab, Edfu, Aswan province. They marched through the streets of Cairo, passing by the High Court and ending outside the state TV building in Maspero, where they intended to stage an open-ended sit-in, as announced by the Maspero Coptic Youth Union and Copts without Barriers, which organized the rally.

After a couple of hours, the military and police, together with Central Security personnel brutally forced the eviction of the protesters. The forces fired gunshots in the air to terrorize the protesters, who were beaten with batons. A priest, Father Mattias Nasr, was pushed to the ground and beaten. Mobile phones and cameras were confiscated from anyone trying to take photos of the assault.

Video footage taken from the balcony of a nearby building surfaced later on youtube, it showed the military and police beating 28-year-old Copt Raef Anwar Fahim, who had the misfortune to stumble while fleeing and was left behind by his colleagues who were being chased by the police in the surrounding streets.

‘I was the last one behind, a policeman hit me with a baton on the shoulder and I fell,’ he said. ‘They were firing live ammunition. In a manner of seconds over 15 policemen attacked me.'” Read more.

Nuclear Proliferation Expert: ‘Window for Strike on Iran Nuke Facilities Growing Slimmer’

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By YAAKOV KATZ – “The chance for a military strike to succeed in stopping Iran’s race toward a nuclear weapon is becoming ‘slimmer’ as Tehran continues to produce and disperse its enriched uranium and technology, according to Prof. Avner Cohen, a premier Israeli-American scholar on nuclear proliferation.

‘I think we are moving to the point that the chance of success for doing something effective militarily is getting slimmer,’ Cohen warned in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

‘The fact that the Iranian nuclear program is further dispersed, that the time for Iran to reach a breakout capability gets shorter and that material can be moved quickly from site to site, would require a very dynamic intelligence capability to know where everything is,’ he said.

A professor and senior fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, Cohen has written two groundbreaking books on Israel’s nuclear program – Israel and the Bomb and The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb.

Furthermore, according to Cohen, even if Israel had all of the intelligence it would still be impossible ‘to know that you know everything important since you do not know what you do not know.'” Read more.

Insider: Iran Will Be Site of ‘Next Chernobyl Tragedy’ and a ‘Total Calamity for the World’ – “The first Iranian nuclear power station is inherently unsafe and will probably cause a ‘tragic disaster for humankind,’ according to a document apparently written by an Iranian whistleblower. There is a ‘great likelihood’ that the Bushehr reactor could generate the next nuclear catastrophe after Chernobyl or Fukushima, says the document, which has been passed to The (London) Times by a reputable source and is attributed to a former member of the legal department of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran… Sami Alfaraj, head of the Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies and an adviser to the Kuwaiti government, says an accident at Bushehr would be a ‘total calamity for the world,’ in which nuclear contamination would spew across a wide region.” Read more.

Canary Islands: Subsea Volcanic Eruption Underway Near El Hierro

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By MARK DUNPHY – “A submarine volcanic eruption is taking place approximately 5 kilometres off the southern coast of El Hierro, the smallest of The Canary Islands.

The Mayor of La Frontera (El Hierro), David Cabrera, confirmed in an interview on Radio iron Garoé that ‘underwater eruption’ is taking place about 900 metres beneath the sea surface five kilometres south of La Restinga. The eruption has been ongoing for four hours, the Mayor said.

Spanish newspaper quoted the Minister of emergencies of the Cabildo of El Hierro, Maria of Carmen Morales, as saying the eruption is taking place because ‘the seismic movement of 4.3 occurred on Saturday afternoon caused a fissure, from where the energy is been released’. Scientists remain unclear if the emissions are gas or lava.

A meeting of PEVOLCA – Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias, comprising representatives of Instituto Geografico Nacional (IGN) and The Canary Islands Government, took place on the Spanish Island. In a statement issued shortly before 4 p.m. local time, the IGN stated (translated from spanish language press release): ‘…although there is no certainty that at the moment is producing an underwater volcanic eruption, since the last morning there has been a release of fluids and volcanic gas on the southern coast of the island.’

‘Scientists from IGN have reported to the direction of the Plan all the indicators that have been analyzed to point towards the possibility of the beginning of an eruptive process that has changed the type of waves that have registered seismographs in the last hours, implying the beginning of emission of gases or lava…'” Read more.

Categories: Natural Disasters

US Food Supply Threatened: Foreign Insects, Diseases Got Into US Post 9/11, ‘Every Person in the Country is Affected by This’

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By TRACIE CONE – “FRESNO, Calif. — Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation’s food supply.

At the time, hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department — a move that scientists say cost billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication efforts from California vineyards to Florida citrus groves.

The consequences come home to consumers in the form of higher grocery prices, substandard produce and the risk of environmental damage from chemicals needed to combat the pests.

An Associated Press analysis of inspection records found that border-protection officials were so engrossed in stopping terrorists that they all but ignored the country’s exposure to destructive new insects and infections — a quietly growing menace that has been attacking fruits and vegetables and even prized forests ever since.

‘Whether they know it or not, every person in the country is affected by this, whether by the quality or cost of their food, the pesticide residue on food or not being able to enjoy the outdoors because beetles are killing off the trees,’ said Mark Hoddle, an entomologist specializing in invasive species at the University of California, Riverside.” Read more.

Japan: ‘Unprecedented’ Thyroid Examinations Begin of All Fukushima Children, Fallout Ten Times More Than Reported

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By Steve Herman – “Japanese doctors on Sunday began checking the thyroids of 360,000 children in Fukushima Prefecture, site of a nuclear reactor meltdown during the days following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March. The examinations, on a scale medical officials are calling unprecedented, come amid concern that the cancer rate in the area could surge.

Children from the two towns closest to the Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant were among the first to undergo ultrasonic thyroid examinations at the Fukushima Medical University.

The power plant was severely damaged after this year’s massive earthquake and tsunami which left 20,000 people dead or missing.

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, of the university’s medical school, says it will take several years to carry out preliminary examinations of those 18 and under in the prefecture (state).

The physician says it can take a long time for any irregularities in the thyroid to manifest as cancer. While that was seen four or five years after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine, he says some experts contend a longer period of vigilance will be needed here.” Read more.

Fukushima fallout was 10 times more than reported – “Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology admitted that they have made a ‘mistake’ on the report about fall out in Fukushima. The data is about the amount of fallout and the rain, from 6/6/2011 ~ 8/4/2011. Having said that it was a simple error, it turned out that it was 10 times more than originally reported… ALL the data turned out to be way more than originally reported.” Read more.

Radiation fears send fish hauls spiraling – “Fish catches at eight major ports in the tsunami-hit Tohoku region have plunged since April in part because of the severe damage the fleet suffered in the March 11 disaster but mainly due to radiation fears amid the Fukushima nuclear crisis that are making hauls hard to sell… Compared with a year ago, catches are down by as much as 85 to 99 percent in volume in five Tohoku areas, as consumers continue to shun fish from the region, local officials and fishery cooperatives said Friday.” Read more.

Tokyo under illusion that things are normal while Fukushima remains a war zone – “We are well into autumn. And despite the growing sense in the Tokyo metropolitan area that things are now all right — with train services back to pre-disaster schedules and the regret we once felt over our wasteful consumption of electricity dissipating — Fukushima remains a war zone. It was reported on Oct. 7 that the Watari district of Fukushima was not designated by the government as a ‘specific evacuation recommendation spot.'” Read more.

Categories: Man-Made Disasters

US: Oklahoma Gripped by Plague of Black Widow Spiders as Numbers of Reported Bites Double Since Last Year

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By DAMIEN GAYLE – “A plague of black widow spiders in Oklahoma has resulted in almost double the number of bites reported this year than last.

So far 49 bites from the venomous spiders have been reported to the Oklahoma Poison Control Centre, as increasing numbers seek shelter from the heat in homes and gardens.

The centre has warned Oklahomans to be on the lookout for the eight-legged creatures, whose bites are invariably painful – and can prove deadly.

The outbreak of the venomous spiders seems to be concentrated around the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, reported.

A drought and heatwave in the area has sent them searching for cool, dark places like sheds and garages, spider bite expert Randy Badillo told the news radio station’s website.

‘They’re shiny black, kind of like a black patent leather shoe, with a red hourglass figure on their abdomen,’ he said, adding that their bite is as distinctive as their appearance.

‘The black widow has a real sharp pin prick sensation to it so you should know pretty much right off the bat whether you’ve been bitten or not,’ he said.

While deaths have been associated with black widow bites, they are not always deadly.

Effects of the venom can include nausea, headache and muscle cramps.” Read more.

Categories: Pestilence

US: Crazy Hairy Ants Spreading Through the South East

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BY JANET GRDINICH – “Why ‘crazy hairy’ you ask? They’re called ‘crazy’ because each ant in a colony seems to scramble randomly, moving very fast. They’re called ‘hairy’ because of dense hair that, to the naked eye, make them look less glossy than most ant species. These ants don’t dig out anthills and prefer to nest in sheltered, moist spots. They will eat just about anything — plant or animal.

The ants, whose scientific name is Nylanderia pubens, were first seen in Florida in the 1950s then in Texas in 2002. Now they are moving and posing a threat to Louisiana and possibly Georgia.

A pest control agency sent a sample of the “hairy crazy ants” to the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, where curator Victoria Bayless identified the species for the first time in Louisiana.

Bayless said the main difference between this species and other ant species is the size of the colonies. A single colony can contain millions of the pests because there are multiple queens, or head ants, that work together. She further states that hairy crazy ants reproduce rapidly and do not respond to normal pest control methods and researchers have not yet found a way to prevent or get rid of the ants. Hairy crazy ants have also been reported in walls of houses, she said. They can cause electrical shortages as they accumulate in large numbers. If one gets electrocuted, its death releases a chemical cue to attack a threat to the colony, the other ants rush in. Before long, you have a ball of ants. They can also overwhelm beehives — one Texas beekeeper was losing 100 a year in 2009.” Read more.

Categories: Pestilence

France: Meteorite Lands On Roof Of House Belonging to a Mrs Comette in Southern Suburbs of Paris

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“A meteorite chose the roof of a house belonging to a Mrs Comette in the southern suburbs of Paris to make its acquaintance with the planet Earth.

The astral surprise hit the roof of the home in Draveil while the Comettes themselves were on holiday. On returning they discovered the encounter after a water leak led them to the roof, reported newspaper France Soir.

‘We got the roofer out and he was amazed’ said Martine Comette. ‘He said you’d have to be superman to break a roof tile like that. It must be a meteorite.’

The roofer was proved right when Alain Carion, a mineral scientist, authenticated the 88 gram meteorite. He described is as a ‘stone of black crusted rock which characterizes its passage through the atmosphere.’

‘This is super rare,’ he said. ‘There have been only 50 meteorite falls in France over the last four centuries.’

The scientist believes the egg-shaped meteorite came from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The meteorite that hit the Comettes was small-fry compared to some of the largest ever discovered. The biggest meteorite is believed to be the Hoba, a 60-tonne boulder which fell in Namibia around 80,000 years ago.” Read more.

Categories: Cosmic Craziness

Iraq Sides With Iran, Sends Essential Aid to Syria’s Assad

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After America sheds its blood and tears to liberate Iraq from a ruthless tyrant, a ‘free and democratic’ Iraq turns around and supports its freedom-hating, ruthless, tyrannical anti-American neighbors. Now that up to 3 trillion dollars has been spent on Iraq, it looks like America may have virtually nothing to show for it in the end …

By Joby Warrick – “More than six months after the start of the Syrian uprising, Iraq is offering key moral and financial support to the country’s embattled president, undermining a central U.S. policy objective and raising fresh concerns that Iraq is drifting further into the orbit of an American arch rival — Iran.

Iraq’s stance has dealt an embarrassing setback to the Obama administration, which has sought to enlist Muslim allies in its campaign to isolate Syrian autocrat Bashar al-Assad. While other Arab states have downgraded ties with Assad, Iraq has moved in the opposite direction, hosting official visits by Syrians, signing pacts to expand business ties and offering political support.

After Iraq sent conflicting signals about its support for Assad last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke firmly against regime change in Syria in an interview broadcast on Iraqi television Sept. 30. ‘We believe that Syria will be able to overcome its crisis through reforms,’ Maliki said, rejecting U.S. calls for the Syrian leader to step down. His words echoed those of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who weeks earlier proposed that Syrians should ‘implement the necessary reforms by themselves.’

On other issues as well, the Maliki government in recent months has hewed closer to Iran’s stance — Iraq, for example, has supported Iran’s right to nuclear technology and advocated U.N. membership for Palestinians — as the U.S. military races to complete its troop withdrawal over the coming months.

Few policy objectives are more important to Iran than preserving the pro-Tehran regime in Syria, longtime Middle East observers say.

‘This is Iran’s influence, because preserving the Assad regime is very much in Iran’s national interest,’ said David Pollock, a former adviser on Middle East policy for the State Department during the George W. Bush administration. ‘Iran needs Iraq’s help trying to save their ally in Damascus.'” Read more.

Iraq threatens to break military links with US – “Baghdad is threatening to break its military relations with Washington at the end of this year and use private contractors to train its armed forces, as the two sides struggle to agree on terms that would see a small number of American troops remain in Iraq next year. The two sides have agreed in principle that several thousand US troops should stay in Iraq in a training capacity after the official end of the American mission at the end of the year, but they have become bogged down over whether to grant US troops immunity from prosecution if they commit crimes.” Read more.


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