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Living With Less. A Lot Less. I LIVE in a 420-square-foot studio. I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts. I have 10 shallow bowls that I use for salads and main dishes. When people come over for dinner, I pull out my extendable dining room table. I don’t have a single CD or DVD and I have 10 percent of the books I once did.
I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when, flush with cash from an Internet start-up sale, I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets.
Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me. My circumstances are unusual (not everyone gets an Internet windfall before turning 30), but my relationship with material things isn’t.
We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products.
There isn’t any indication that any of these things makes anyone any happier; in fact it seems the reverse may be true.
For me, it took 15 years, a great love and a lot of travel to get rid of all the inessential things I had collected and live a bigger, better, richer life with less. (New York Times)
Quantum biology: Do weird physics effects abound in nature? Disappearing in one place and reappearing in another. Being in two places at once. Communicating information seemingly faster than the speed of light.
This kind of weird behaviour is commonplace in dark, still laboratories studying the branch of physics called quantum mechanics, but what might it have to do with fresh flowers, migrating birds, and the smell of rotten eggs?
Welcome to the frontier of what is called quantum biology.
It is still a tentative, even speculative discipline, but what scientists are learning from it might just spark revolutions in the development of new drugs, computers and perfumes - or even help in the fight against cancer.
Until recently, the delicate states of matter predicted by quantum mechanics have only been accessed with the most careful experiments: isolated particles at blisteringly low temperatures or pressures approaching that of deep space. (BBC)
Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering ~ Communities set up local currencies and exchange networks in attempt to beat the economic crisis It's been a busy day at the market in downtown Volos. Angeliki Ioanitou has sold a decent quantity of olive oil and soap, while her friend Maria has done good business with her fresh pies.
But not a single euro has changed hands – none of the customers on this drizzly Saturday morning has bothered carrying money at all. For many, browsing through the racks of second-hand clothes, electrical appliances and homemade jams, the need to survive means money has been usurped.
"It's all about exchange and solidarity, helping one another out in these very hard times," enthused Ioanitou, her hair tucked under a floppy felt cap. "You could say a lot of us have dreams of a utopia without the euro."
In this bustling port city at the foot of Mount Pelion, in the heart of Greece's most fertile plain, locals have come up with a novel way of dealing with austerity – adopting their own alternative currency, known as the Tem. As the country struggles with its worst crisis in modern times, with Greeks losing up to 40% of their disposable income as a result of policies imposed in exchange for international aid, the system has been a huge success. Organisers say some 1,300 people have signed up to the informal bartering network. (London Guardian)
Members-Only Marijuana Clubs Open In Colorado Recreational marijuana clubs opened Monday in Colorado, less than a month after the state governor signed into law a constitutional amendment allowing recreational pot use.
With a reggae soundtrack and flashing disco-style lights, Club 64 in an industrial area just north of downtown Denver opened Monday afternoon, with some 200 people signed up. The opening came less than 24 hours after club organizers announced they would charge a $29.99 admission price for the bring-your-own pot club.
Two Colorado clubs were believed to be the first legal pot dens in the nation.
New Club 64 members were firing up bongs and exchanging hugs before the sun set Monday, and they also planned to ring in the new year together. (Associated Press)
Medical pot dispensary shuttered by feds reopens in Berkeley One of the East Bay's largest medical marijuana dispensaries reopened here Wednesday down the street from its former location that was closed in May under pressure from the federal government.
Berkeley Patients Group, which at one time boasted 10,000 members but now declines to give numbers, reopened at 2366 San Pablo Avenue. It's former location at 2747 San Pablo Avenue was closed after the federal government threatened to seize the property from the owner if it did not close because it was too close to two nearby schools.
Since May, the dispensary has run a delivery service but has not had a storefront. One of three dispensaries licensed by Berkeley to do business in commercial zones, the group this year is celebrating 12 years. (Oakland Tribune)
Dreams in Infrared -- The Woes of an American Drone Operator A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can't do it anymore.
For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.
The container is filled with the humming of computers. It's the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren't flying through the air. They're just sitting at the controls.
Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact. (Der Spiegel)
Police Find Long Gun In Trunk Of Car In Sandy Hook Parking Lot: Newtown Connecticut School Shooting Maybe there was two long guns in the trunk, and this only shows them removing the second one.
Aerial of police finding a loaded long gun in the trunk of a car in the school parking lot appears to be a shotgun. This occurred hours after law enforcement sources already confirmed that they found a Bushmaster AR-15 in his trunk. .223 shells were found at the scene. Who was shooting the .223 inside the school then? From the NBC News Connecticut live feed on 12/14/12.
"A Sig Sauer handgun and a Glock handgun were used in the slaying and .223 shell casings -- a round used in a semi-automatic military style rifle -- were also found at the scene. "
"...However, federal authorities cannot confirm that the handguns or the rifle were the weapons receovered at the school. "
"A law enforcement source told CBS News' Pat Milton that casings (spent shells) from a .223 semi automatic rifle were found inside the school." (NBC)
Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans' e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files. - A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.
Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week. (CNet News)
Senator Dianne Feinstein Moves To Ban ALL Assault Rifles, High Capacity Magazines, and Pistol Grips The agenda no longer needs to be hidden from public view. With President Obama winning another term and democrats taking control of the Senate, the move to fundamentally change America from within has begun – with a vengeance.
We're all aware of the restrictive gun laws in the State of California which require low capacity magazines for handguns, fixed magazines for "assault" rifles, and a whole lot of running around just to be granted the right to carry a concealed firearm.
Now, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who has championed gun control in her state for decades and co-wrote the original assault weapons ban enacted by the federal government in the 1990's, wishes to bring even more stringent federal mandates to the land of the free. (Market Daily News)
Pharmageddon: America's bitter pill The United States has a passion for pills, being the world's biggest users of psychotropic drugs, consuming 60 per cent of them. And pharmaceutical firms are keen to keep cashing in on the multibillion-dollar market, even if it costs people's health.
America is regarded as a country with a prodigious appetite for consumption. Today, a widespread fondness for pharmaceuticals has turned the US into a nation of pill-poppers.
With over $14 billion in annual sales, antipsychotics remain the top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the US.
Dr. Harriet Fraad believes Big Pharma has manufactured a climate of insanity by manipulating and even creating illness for capital gain.
"One of the things that drives Big Pharma is to find a diagnosis that is very vague, so that everybody can fall into that," she told RT. "Everybody is sad sometimes. There are good reasons. The point is to market pharmaceuticals. And the advertising strategy is to have vague diagnosis and then find wiggle room so that they apply to everyone." (Russia Today)
50 percent of Americans favor legal marijuana, poll finds Slowly but surely Americans seem to be making peace with the pot pipe.
According to a new poll released by Gallup on Monday, 50 percent of Americans say marijuana use should be legal - up from 46 percent last year. This year, 46 percent said it should be illegal.
Those numbers mean that, for the first time in the poll's 42-year-history, Americans who say that marijuana should be legal outnumber those who say it should be illegal.
Societal acceptance of marijuana has come a long way since 1969, when Gallup first posed the question "Should marijuana use be legal?" Back then, only 12 percent of Americans favored legalization of the drug. From the '70s through the mid-'90s, support remained in the 20s, but it has been climbing steadily since 2002. (Sacramento Bee)
In Protest, the Power of Place THE ever expanding Occupy Wall Street movement, with encampments now not only in Lower Manhattan but also in Washington, London and other cities, proves among other things that no matter how instrumental new media have become in spreading protest these days, nothing replaces people taking to the streets.
Another reminder came late last week when the landlord of Zuccotti Park, where the demonstrators in New York City have settled, at the last minute withdrew a request for police assistance in cleaning up the park. This, at least temporarily, averted a confrontation in front of the global media over what protesters regarded as just a pretext to evict them.
We tend to underestimate the political power of physical places. Then Tahrir Square comes along. Now it’s Zuccotti Park, until four weeks ago an utterly obscure city-block-size downtown plaza with a few trees and concrete benches, around the corner from ground zero and two blocks north of Wall Street on Broadway. A few hundred people with ponchos and sleeping bags have put it on the map.
Kent State, Tiananmen Square, the Berlin Wall: we clearly use locales, edifices, architecture to house our memories and political energy. Politics troubles our consciences. But places haunt our imaginations. (New York Times)
Millions of Bees Mysteriously Die in Florida Florida officials are abuzz as to how millions of honey bees were killed in Brevard County.
Several beekeepers in the county have reported lost colonies this week. Charles Smith of Smith Family Honey Company told Stuart News Thursday he lost 400 beehives. He says the bees appeared to have been poisoned.
“I’ll never get completely compensated for this unless someone handed me 400 beehives,” Smith told Stuart News. “I lost the bees, the ability to make honey and the ability to sell the bees.”
Smith told Florida Today that he lost $150,000 from the incident.
State officials are testing the bees to determine what type of chemicals contributed to their deaths. (CBS)
First responders decry exclusion from 9/11 ceremony When debris rained from the sky in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, the first responders to the terrorist attack did not turn away. They rushed to the World Trade Center buildings while the world around them crumbled.
Yet now, after all the wreckage has been cleared and the rebuilding has begun, their path is again blocked -- not by flying chunks of smoldering rubble, but by space constraints.
The first responders are not invited to this year's September 11 memorial ceremony at ground zero, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office confirmed Monday.
It's a painful insult for many of the approximately 3,000 men and women who risked their lives, limbs and lungs on that monumental day, puncturing another hole in a still searing wound. (CNN)
Obama Stumped by Question on Marijuana Legalization It's become pretty clear that the president is going to be asked about marijuana legalization absolutely any time he takes questions from the public, so it kind of amazes me that he is actually getting worse at talking about it. This latest exchange is just embarrassing:
President Barack Obama sidestepped a question about medical marijuana legalization at a town hall event in Cannon Falls, Minnesota Monday.
"If you can't legalize marijuana, why can't you just legalize medical marijuana?" a woman asked the president.
"A lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana," Obama explained. "As a controlled substance, the issue is then that is it being prescribed by a doctor as opposed to... you know, well, I'll leave it at that." [Raw Story]
That is the best he can do to address one of the hottest topics in modern American politics. He'll just "leave it at that," because an increasingly frustrated public might react negatively to a slightly lengthier attempt at explaining why anyone, least of all sick people, should ever have to worry about being arrested and thrown in jail for having some marijuana in their pocket. (Huffington Post)
Rick Perry Thinks 'Printing More Money' Is 'Almost Treason' Because It Would Help The Economy And Thus Obama Texas governor, and freshly minted GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry will have to explain what he meant when he said "we would treat [Fed chairman Ben Bernanke] pretty ugly down in Texas" if he prints money -- or, more charitably, printing more money than usual. Likewise, he'll have to explain why he thinks printing money -- or prints more money than usual -- would be "almost treasonous," at least as compared to, say, secession.
But what's gone completely unnoticed in the wake of candidate Perry's first big flap is his rationale for opposing a looser Fed policy in this depressed economy: specifically that it would work, boost the economy, and thus make it harder for the GOP to defeat President Obama.
"If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous -- in my opinion." (Talking Points Memo)
Squelching social media after riots a dangerous idea A pretty good article that explains why censoring social media is a bad idea, and not just for first world selfish privacy concerns. I am particularly impressed by how she ties it to the worldwide struggle for internet freedoms. - In an emergency session of Parliament on Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the violence, looting and arson sweeping his country "were organized via social media." He said his government is now considering how and whether to "stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."
On Friday, China's state-run Xinhua news agency published a commentary contrasting Cameron's latest statements with his Arab Spring-inspired speech earlier this year, in which he loftily proclaimed that freedom of expression should be respected in Tahrir Square as much as in London's Trafalgar Square.
"We may wonder why Western leaders, on the one hand, tend to indiscriminately accuse other nations of monitoring, but on the other take for granted their steps to monitor and control the Internet," Xinhua said. "For the benefit of the general public, proper Web-monitoring is legitimate and necessary." (CNN)
Stop Coddling the Super-Rich OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent. (New York Times)
Phone-hacking whistle-blower found dead One of the first journalists to go on the record and allege phone hacking at News of the World was found dead Monday, the British Press Association said.
Sean Hoare, a former News of the World employee who said Andy Coulson "encouraged" phone-hacking, "was discovered at his home in Watford, Hertfordshire, after concerns were raised about his whereabouts," the press association said.
"The death is being treated as 'unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious,'" the report quoted Hertfordshire police as saying.
The Guardian reported that Hoare had recently injured his nose and his foot in an accident. It was unclear whether those injuries were linked to his death.
Hoare had publicly accused News of the World of phone-hacking and using "pinging" -- a method of tracking someone's cell phone using technology that only police and security officials could access -- according to the New York Times. (CNN)
Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 On June 23, 2011, U.S. Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), Ron Paul (R-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers (D-MICH.), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced H.R. 2306, a bill to end the federal prohibition on the possession, cultivation, distribution, importation and exportation of marijuana.
This is a remarkable bill for several reasons. First, the bill would truly and completely decriminalize marijuana under federal law. Unlike state laws that reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana from a criminal offense to a summary offense or violation like a traffic offense, there would be no federal violation for possessing or growing marijuana. For example, it is not a federal offense to drive too fast on a federally-funded highway -- it is only a violation of state law. Under this bill, it becomes solely a matter of state law whether one can possess or grow or sell marijuana.
Second, by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, one of the major impediments to state medical marijuana laws would be removed! If enacted, there could no longer be any argument that the state medical marijuana law is in "conflict" with federal law. The bill does not address any issues of regulation of marijuana as a "drug" under the Federal Food, Drug, Cosmetic and Device Act. (Sterling on Justice & Drugs)
Marijuana dispensary raided in south Sacramento A marijuana dispensary in south Sacramento was raided yesterday by Elk Grove police and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. The two operators of the dispensary, a son and his father were placed under arrest. The two police departments claimed that they were operating as a for-profit establishment while the law only allows for non-profit dispensaries. However, this is clearly a front used by the local police to try and scare others out of the pot industry that is developing.
An Oakland based group, Americans for Safer Access, contends that police departments frequently justify raids by claiming a dispensary is not operating as a non-profit establishment. But what they are really doing is trying to maintain control over a market that is starting to become more mainstream. Sacramento police should not be wasting their time busting up marijuana dispensaries. By doing so they are merely interfering in patients suffering from severe illnesses from gaining access to the medicine they need. They are imprisoning people over laws with little public support. They are wasting taxpayer money on an offense which is non-violent, and doesn't harm the surrounding environment. (Examiner)
Osama bin Laden's Son May Have Escaped: Widows' claim adds to confusion over raid One of Osama bin Laden's sons may have escaped the raid by Navy SEALs, according to ABC News and British papers the Telegraph and Daily Mail. It seems more guesswork than anything at this point, though. Bin Laden's three widows have reportedly told Pakistani authorities that one son has not been seen since the raid. The best guess is that they're referring to bin Laden's youngest son, Hamza, thought to be around 19 or 20 and a close confidante of his father. His mother is one of the detained widows. (Newser)
10 Facts That Prove The Bin Laden Fable Is a Contrived Hoax Every indication clearly points to last Sunday’s raid being a manufactured ploy to return Americans to a state of post-9/11 intellectual castration - Merely a week after President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, there is literally a deluge of evidence that clearly indicates the whole episode has been manufactured for political gain and to return Americans to a state of post-9/11 intellectual castration so that they can be easily manipulated in the run up to the 2012 election. Here are ten facts that prove the Bin Laden fable is a contrived hoax….
1) Before last Sunday’s raid, every intelligence analyst, geopolitical commentator or head of state worth their salt was on record as stating that Osama Bin Laden was already dead, and that he probably died many years ago, from veteran CIA officer Robert Baer, to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to former FBI head of counterterrorism Dale Watson. In addition, back in 2002 Alex Jones was told directly by two separate high level sources that Bin Laden was already dead and that his death would be announced at the most politically opportune moment. Top US government insider Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, a man who held numerous different influential positions under five different Presidents, serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under the Nixon, Ford and Carter, told the Alex Jones Show last week that Bin Laden died of marfan syndrome shortly after he was visited by CIA physicians at the American Hospital in Dubai in July 2001.
2) The official narrative of how the raid unfolded completely collapsed within days of its announcement. First there had been a 40 minute shootout, then there was no shootout and just one man was armed, first Bin Laden was armed then he was not, first Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield and then he did not. First the compound was described as a “$1 million dollar mansion” then it turned out to be a rubbish-strewn dilapidated compound that was worth less than a quarter of that. Almost every single aspect of the official narrative has changed since Obama first described the raid last Sunday as the White House struggles to keep its story straight. (Prison Planet)
About Anwar al-Awlaki, Mr President … In his CBS interview with Obama, Steve Kroft failed to ask about the US's next assassination target – a stunning omission - I wasn't expecting much in the way of tough questioning last night when I sat down to watch President Obama's interview with "60 Minutes". The idea was to revel in the killing of Osama bin Laden. Steve Kroft's questions — all of which were a variation on "Mr President, why are you so wonderful?" — were no surprise.
Even so, I was startled when, towards the end of the interview, Kroft asked Obama, "Is this the first time that you've ever ordered someone killed?" The president blandly answered that every time he orders a military action, he does so with the understand that someone will be killed.
But what was missing from Kroft's question and Obama's answer was the name of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric whom the president ordered killed last year. Al-Awlaki survived a US drone attack on his headquarters in Yemen on Saturday, after the "60 Minutes" interview was recorded. But the targeting of al-Awlaki was hardly a secret – it was even the subject of an unsuccessful lawsuit brought by his father. If Kroft didn't know that, then he had no business sitting down with the president. If he did, well, why didn't he say something? (London Guardian)
Pakistanis disclose name of CIA operative The public outing of the CIA station chief here threatened on Monday to deepen the rift between the United States and Pakistan, with U.S. officials saying they believed the disclosure had been made deliberately by Pakistan’s main spy agency.
If true, the leak would be a sign that Pakistan’s powerful security establishment, far from feeling chastened by the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison city last week, is seeking to demonstrate its leverage over Washington and retaliate for the unilateral U.S. operation.
Less than six months ago, the identity of the previous CIA station chief in Islamabad was also disclosed in an act that U.S. officials blamed on their counterparts in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.
The new station chief, who runs one of the largest U.S. intelligence-gathering operations in the world, played an instrumental role in overseeing efforts to confirm bin Laden’s location before last week’s raid. (Washington Post)
Osama bin Laden dead: Blackout during raid on bin Laden compound The head of the CIA admitted yesterday that there was no live video footage of the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound as further doubts emerged about the US version of events. - Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, revealed there was a 25 minute blackout during which the live feed from cameras mounted on the helmets of the US special forces was cut off.
A photograph released by the White House appeared to show President Barack Obama and his aides in the situation room watching the action as it unfolded. In fact they had little knowledge of what was happening in the compound.
In an interview with PBS, Mr Panetta said: "Once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn't know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information.
"We had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound." (London Telegraph)
Expert: Security Checkpoints Near Soft Targets May Soon Become The Norm -- A Day May Come When You'll Be Patted Down Going Into Stores Counter terrorism experts say a retaliation attack for Osama bin Laden’s death is inevitable. Terrorists are expected to aim for more vulnerable soft targets like shopping malls or museums.
They are places jam-packed with people — pedestrian malls, shopping centers and stadiums.
“Yeah, I feel safe. But of course in the back of my head I know that things can happen,” one person told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Counter terrorism expert Juval Aviv said terrorists seeking revenge for Osama bin Laden’s death will turn to attacks less dramatic than the destruction on Sept. 11 — focusing instead on soft targets like hotels, places of worship and mass transit hubs. (CBS)
Largest Earthquake Drill In America History As Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Begins Along New Madrid Seismic Zone In what has been labeled the largest earthquake drill in American history, the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut began today across 11 states.
3 million people will participate in a series of earthquake drills aimed at preparing for a large scale earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
This comes as many in the alternative media believe that a major earthquake along this zone is imminent and will possibly bring about a martial law type scenario in America.
“This week, nearly 3 million people across 11 states are gearing up for the Great Central U.S. Shakeout, a massive earthquake drill to commemorate the 200th anniversary later this year of a series of powerful earthquakes that downed trees and sent waves on the Mississippi River roaring over its banks,” reported MSNBC. (The Intel Hub)
Al-Qaida leaders welcome Arab uprisings, says cleric Anwar al-Awlaki uses online magazine to explain why Middle East revolts are not a setback for al-Qaida - Anwar al-Awlaki's article appeared in online magazine Inspire and appears to have been written before the fall of Hosni Mubarak two months ago. Photograph: AP
Senior al-Qaida leaders have welcomed the uprisings in the Arab world in their first comprehensive statement on recent events, published in an internet magazine earlier this week.
Anwar al-Awlaki – the radical preacher who grew up in America but is now a fugitive in Yemen – used a lengthy article in an English-language magazine called Inspire to explain why the revolts sweeping the Middle East were not a setback for al-Qaida.
"Our mujahideen brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the rest of the Muslim world will get a chance to breathe again after three decades of suffocation," Awlaki wrote in an article entitled The Tsunami of Change. (London Guardian)
Nuclear Alert: Fears of 3rd explosion at Japan's Fukushima as cooling fails There are new threats and warnings coming from Japan with reports of a possible third explosion on the way at the Fukoshima nuclear plant. This follows Monday's second blast there which injured 11 people. Japanese officials have been reassuring locals that radiation levels at the plant are within legal limits. RT talks to Dr. Robert Jacobs from the Hiroshima Peace Institute with more on what the threat of radioactive contamination means for Japan's people and infrastructure. - "There's never been a case where the information has been accurate and useful. So there's no reason to believe that the government is now not engaged in trying to manage public opinion and manage perceptions that this crisis is not so bad. And perhaps that's accurate but we won't know for a while" (Russia Today)
9.0 Japan earthquake shifted Earth on its axis Scientists in Pasadena say data from the temblor will show how Earth is deformed during massive earthquakes at sites where one plate is sliding under the other, including the U.S. Pacific Northwest. - Friday's earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan was upgraded to a magnitude 9.0 by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Kyodo News agency reported Sunday.
The agency's scientists probably had access to new data, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough. "If they've upgraded, I expect USGS might follow suit," she said, adding that it was not unusual for magnitudes to move up or down by 0.1, because large earthquakes can be tricky to measure.
"It's not surgical precision," she said.
Other details are emerging. The quake probably shifted the position of Earth's axis about 6.5 inches, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, in an e-mail.
The temblor also should have caused Earth to rotate somewhat faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 microseconds, he said.
Down the road, data from the quake will provide an unusually precise view of how Earth is deformed during massive earthquakes at sites where one plate is sliding under another, including the U.S. Pacific Northwest, scientists said. (Los Angeles Times)
Japan nuclear blast could be more deadly than Chernobyl, experts fear
Experts in Israel and abroad divided on scope of disaster at Japan's nuclear plants, as Japanese government hasn't provided accurate information regarding threat posed by explosions at Fukushima nuclear power plant. - Since the Japanese government has not provided accurate information regarding the possible threat posed by the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, experts in Israel and abroad are divided on the scope of the disaster and the ramifications for the environment.
It appears that immediately after earthquake warnings were first heard, the Japanese authorities shut down all six reactors located in the affected region, which lies 250 kilometers north of the capital Tokyo, by cutting off the flow of electricity to the reactors. But the emergency generator, whose function is to provide power to the pump responsible for cooling the reactor, did not activate. As a result, the reactor's core began to heat up.
At the same time, radioactive materials and gases were emitted into the air, but measurements taken indicate that the amount was relatively minimal. The most dangerous elements discharged were iodine and cesium, two by-products of the nuclear fission process that takes place in nuclear plants. These are two relatively volatile compounds that can easily spread into the atmosphere. (Haaretz)
Scientists: Japan Fallout Won't Rival Chernobyl's Even if the Japanese nuclear plant damaged in the earthquake goes into full meltdown, it is unlikely to cause environmental fallout anything on the scale seen after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, scientists said.
"As long as there's no meltdown of the fuel rods, you're in good shape," said Kirby Kemper, a nuclear physicist at Florida State University. But if pressure from gases in the nuclear core builds up, "a crack could appear in the containment vessel and release radiation," he said.
Thousands of evacuees from areas around Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant were scanned for radiation exposure, though the Japanese government insists radiation levels are low. Video courtesy of Reuters
Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (9501.TO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, situated about 150 miles north of Tokyo, was shaken by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake Friday. A tsunami and aftershocks also hit the area. (Wall Street Journal)
WRAPUP 13-Radiation leaking from Japan's quake-hit nuclear plant Radiation leaked from
a damaged Japanese nuclear reactor north of Tokyo on Saturday,
the government said, after an explosion blew the roof off the
facility in the wake of a massive earthquake.
The developments raised fears of a meltdown at the plant as
officials scrambled to contain what could be the worst nuclear
disaster since the Chernobyl explosion in 1986 that shocked the
The Japanese plant was damaged by Friday's 8.9-magnitude
earthquake, which sent a 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami ripping
through towns and cities across the northeast coast. Japanese
media estimate that at least 1,300 people were killed.
"We are looking into the cause and the situation and we'll
make that public when we have further information," Chief
Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said after confirming the
explosion and radiation leak at the plant. (Reuters)
'Tightening noose' on Gadhafi, weighing more steps Pledging a relentless drive to kick Moammar Gadhafi out of power, President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. and the world community are "slowly tightening the noose" on the leader of Libya and will keep up the pressure. But he would not commit to intervening at any cost, warning of potential perils in military action.
"It's going to require some judgment calls, and those are difficult ones," Obama said from the White House as Gadhafi's violent counteroffensive against rebels gained strength.
By choosing tough and even grisly language when questioned about Gadhafi at a news conference, Obama sought to show the United States would not simply stand by. Beyond the rhetoric, it was not clear which next steps Obama might be willing to take, but he said he was considering all options, including military efforts with NATO partners.
On Friday, Gadhafi's regime showed growing confidence after retaking a strategic near Tripoli. Government forces also captured a key oil town in the east and fought to dislodge rebels who took refuge among towering storage containers of crude oil and gas in nearby facilities. (Associated Press)
Does climate change mean more tsunamis? Update: The intent of this piece isn’t to attribute today’s tragedy to climate change. Apologies to those whom I misled with the headline. It was meant literally, as in: Tsunamis are inundations of shorelines and therefore have impacts that resemble storm surges, which are one of the most immediate threats of a warmer planet. In addition, climate change may cause tsunamis directly, so it’s possible we’ll someday see more images like this as a result.
Update 2: Changed the headline (it originally read “Today’s tsunami: This is what climate change looks like”) and updated the text to reflect the discussion of the science and the framing in the comments. Thanks to Tom Yulsman for holding my feet to the fire on this.
* * *
So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan—there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai—but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity, albeit of a scale and nature quite different from Friday’s tragedy.
A 2009 paper by Bill McGuire, professor at University College London, says “observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere.”
It’s important to note that this response has nothing to do with Friday’s tsunami, which is a ‘subduction zone earthquake,’ whereas the tsunamis discussed by scientists cited here would be the product of catastrophic events—collapse of methane hydrate deposits at the bottom of the ocean on the continental shelf, for example—for which a tsunami would be but one of many negative impacts. (Grist)
Is the Japanese earthquake the latest natural disaster to have been caused by a 'supermoon'? The powerful tsunami that today slammed into Japan's eastern coast comes just two days after warnings that the movement of the moon could trigger unpredictable events on Earth.
Astrologers predicted that on March 19 - a week tomorrow - the so-called 'supermoon' will be closer to Earth than at any time since 1992, just 221,567 miles away, and that its gravitational pull will bring chaos to Earth.
Others on the Internet have predicted it will cause further catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Coming just three weeks after the quake which devastated Christchurch in New Zealand killing hundreds, this latest disaster will only add fuel to their fire.
However the 'supermoon' date is still eight days away. But those that adhere to this particular belief could claim that this was still close enough for there to be some kind of effect.
Two days ago, in an interview with ABC radio discussing the potential impact of the March 19 supermoon, astrologer Richard Nolle, who first coined the term in 1979, said he was convinced that lunar perigees cause natural disasters on Earth. (UK Daily Mail)
Oil Plunges as Japan's Refiners Shut Plants After Earthquake Oil fell below $100 a barrel in New York for the first time in more than a week after Japan’s strongest earthquake in at least a century forced refiners to shut several processing plants.
U.S. crude futures were headed for their first weekly decline in a month following the temblor in the world’s third- largest oil user. A fire at Cosmo Oil Co.’s refinery in Chiba, outside Tokyo, is spreading, a Fire Department spokesman said. JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. closed refineries in Sendai, Kashima and Negishi. In London, Brent crude was set for its first weekly decline in seven.
“The earthquake is having a psychological impact on the market in triggering a rise in risk aversion,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “The effect is also physical, in that oil demand from Japan could temporarily be lower.”
Crude for April delivery tumbled as much as $3.69, or 3.6 percent, to $99.01 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $100.38 at 1:02 p.m. London time. Prices this week are down 3.9 percent, the first weekly drop in a month.
Brent oil for April settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange dropped as much as $3.18, or 2.8 percent, to $112.25 a barrel. It was trading at $113.19 at 1:01 p.m. local time. The contract has lost 2.4 percent this week. (Bloomberg)
Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting for a Loughner Trial "How could he plead 'not guilty' when they tackled him with a gun in his hand after shooting a judge?" said a Twitter message, Wednesday afternoon, in reaction to news that Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner had pleaded "not guilty" to federal murder and attempted murder charges.
Yes, it's true. So far, at least, Loughner, 22, is not ready to legally (or publicly) admit what 99.99 percent of us reckon to be true. And he may never be. Apprehended at the scene of the crime, with his alleged deeds recorded on security videotape, and with living witnesses, including the universally beloved Rep. Giffords, ready to testify against him, Loughner's federal case is really just about two questions. Was he legally insane at the time of the crimes? And is he legally competent now to stand trial for them?
He was smiling when he entered court said the news reports from Tucson Wednesday during Loughner's arraignment. He was smirking throughout the hearing. That's all that many people will remember, if they remember anything, about he details of Wednesday's hearing. But there were far more important things that occurred inside U.S. District Judge Larry Burns "away" courtroom (Judge Burns, like Loughner's lead defense counsel Judith Clarke, lives and works in San Diego, which is where this trial may end up). (The Atlantic)
Red flag: Biggest bond fund dumps U.S. Treasuries Last fall Jason Thomas, writing in National Affairs, explained the danger of our increasing debt:
The government borrows in a currency that it prints, and it is difficult to conceive of a situation in which it would be more advantageous for the United States to renounce obligations than to print whatever amount of dollars would be necessary to meet them. The real problem is that bond-market investors are not oblivious to this flexibility. When it appears likely that a country will print money to inflate away unsustainable debt burdens, interest rates rise to incorporate an inflation risk premium -- thus increasing the burden on the government and on private borrowers. The danger, then, is that excessive borrowing will bring investors' hunger for Treasury securities to an end, causing a spike in interest rates that could crush the American economy and send it into a debt spiral we would find very difficult to escape.
Treasury securities have continued to sell, as Thomas explained, because of "the weakness of other countries' fiscal positions, and the power of inertia and familiarity." But that can change. Thomas warned:
The Treasury market's status as a safe haven is not an immutable feature of economic life: It is a function of institutional credibility that took generations to build, but that would take just a fraction of that time to destroy. Were Treasury securities to lose their status as the global reserve asset of choice to gold, other commodities, or a different currency, the consequences for the American economy would be disastrous. Unlikely as such a scenario might seem at the moment, today's fiscal policies unquestionably increase the probability of its coming to pass. (Washington Post)
MARCH 11-23 EVENT?! Signs and Evidence Comet Elenin, Earth, and the Sun were in exact alignment last year on February 27th. That is when the Chile Earthquake happened, and Earth's axis shifted. This year, the same alignment happens March 11-15, and the comet is much closer. PLEASE move away from fault areas during this time! (9Nania)
Libya army transport deal frozen after US approval In the months before Libyans revolted and President Barack Obama told leader Moammar Gadhafi to go, the U.S. government was moving to do business with his regime on an increasing scale by quietly approving a $77 million dollar deal to deliver at least 50 refurbished armored troop carriers to the dictator's military.
Congress balked, concerned the deal would improve Libyan army mobility and questioning the Obama administration's support for the agreement, which would have benefited British defense company BAE. The congressional concerns effectively stalled the deal until the turmoil in the country scuttled the sale. Earlier last week, after all military exports to the Gadhafi regime were suspended, the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls informed Capitol Hill that the deal had been returned without action — effectively off the table, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the deal's sensitive details.
State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner said the proposed license was suspended along with the rest of "what limited defense trade we had with Libya."
The Gadhafi regime's desire to upgrade its troop carriers was so intense that a Libyan official told U.S. diplomats in Tripoli in 2009 that the dictator's sons, Khamis and Saif, both were demanding swift action. Khamis, a commander whose army brigade reportedly attacked the opposition-held town of Zawiya with armored units and pickup trucks, expressed a "personal interest" in modernizing the armored transports, according to a December 2009 diplomatic message disclosed by WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website. (Associated Press)
Zero-Waste Family Maintains Normal Lifestyle (VIDEO) Bea Johnson wears makeup. She lives in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. And while raising two children, she's determined to live a zero-waste lifestyle.
Four years ago, Johnson's family downsized their home and decided to simplify their life, reducing the amount of stuff they owned. According to this video from NBC News, Bea's now down to one pair of shorts and two skirts. The family refills cloth sacks with grains and produce, have created a major composting system, and make their own cleaning products. Bea even offers reduction tips on her blog, The Zero Waste Home, encouraging readers to buy in bulk and start a junk mail war. The family's cumulative waste for this year all fits into a small metal box. This is a far cry from the over four pounds of waste every American produces per day. (Huffington Post)
Bank Of America Registers BrianMoynihanBlows.com And BrianMoynihanSucks.com Is Brian Moynihan worried about something (perhaps related to Wikileaks) or is Bank of America just practicing some prudent defensive brand management.
According to Domain Name Wire, the bank recently registered BrianMoynihanBlows.com, BrianMoynihanSucks.com, BrianTMoynihanBlows.com, and BrianTMoynihanSucks.com so that nobody else can get them first. They also registered .net and .org versions. (TG Daily)
Berkeley votes on naming Bradley Manning a hero Berkeley City Council will today vote on whether to name the US Army private suspected of leaking military secrets to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, a hero.
The resolution, from the city's Peace and Justice Commission, describes the military's treatment of Manning as unjust, and calls on the city to press the military for his release.
It cites Marjorie Cohn, professor of International Human Rights Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, as saying: "If Manning did what he is suspected of doing, he should be honored as an American hero for exposing war crimes and, hopefully, ultimately, helping to end this war." (TG Daily)
Faulty Paperwork Prompts Deepening Foreclosure Problem Some lenders have put a temporary hold on foreclosures and state attorney generals have launched a joint investigation to sort out problems with questionable documents. Paul Solman gives details on the flawed paperwork as part of his ongoing series on making sense of financial news. (PBS)
Counter-Terror Operation Stops Trucks On I-20 A team of federal agents stopped tractor-trailers on Interstate 20 just west of Atlanta, inspecting each truck as it passed through a weigh station, and Channel 2 has learned its part of a counter-terrorism operation.
Channel 2's Linda Stouffer reported a flashing sign on the interstate directed the trucks to pull into a state-owned inspection station near Lee Road in Douglas County at the height of the evening commute. (WSBTV)
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