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31 May, 2010

Gaza Aid Flotilla Attacked By Israeli Military; Civilians Killed; Tensions Rise

This is still a developing story, but it is safe to say that the repercussions will be significant.

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Report: Gaza Aid Flotilla Attacked By Israeli Military: "It is being reported that at least 10 have been killed Israeli forces opened fire on an international humanitarian aid flotilla attempting to break the siege on Gaza. The confrontation attracted widespread international condemnation of Israel.

Several media sources say the flotilla of aid ships was intercepted and hemmed in by Israel warships as they attempted to reach the shores of the Gaza Strip. At least one of the ships was then boarded and fired upon causing 10 fatalities and injuring between 30 and 50 others. The names and nationalities of the casualties are unknown but the ships are carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists from around the globe including current and former politicians...

... The flotilla's lead ship the 'Mavi Marmara' was attacked with gas canisters and live ammunition while operating in international waters 65 kilometers outside the Gaza coast.

Footage airing on Al-Jazeera television showed heavily armed Israeli soldiers in ships and helicopters. Commandos were then seen rappelling from helicopters armed with assault rifles onto the deck of a ship and maneuvering near passengers in orange life vests. It later showed what appeared to be a shooting victim covered in blood receiving attention from another passenger...

... Diplomatic tensions are already beginning to be felt as Turkey has now summoned the Israeli envoy over the flotilla attack. In Turkey, people have reacted withl protests in both Ankara and Istanbul were crowds continue to gather. Earlier, outraged protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul before being pushed back by security sources.

An official response has yet to emerge from the Israeli government but an Israeli cabinet minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer expressed regret in an interview..."


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Israel Tells All Israelis To Leave Turkey, Following Raid On Flotilla Bound For Gaza: "... Another explosive episode is playing out in the Middle East.

The essence is that the Israeli military commandeered a supposed aid flotilla from Turkey to Gaza. Israel says it was filled with weapons. At least 10 people were killed

NYT:
'The incident drew widespread international condemnation, with Israeli envoys summoned to explain their country’s actions in several European countries.

The criticism offered a propaganda coup to Israel’s foes, particularly the Hamas group that holds sway in Gaza, and damaged its ties to Turkey, one of its most important Muslim partners and the unofficial sponsor of the Gaza-bound convoy. Ankara recalled its ambassador to Israel and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut short a visit to Latin America to return.'

Meanwhile, Israel has indicated to all Israelis that they should leave Turkey, a clear sign of expectations of future escalations ahead.

Update: Netanyahu has canceled a trip to The White House to deal with the situation."


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Colin Powell: Oil Spill Is 'Beyond The Capacity' Of BP To Solve, Military Might Have Role

Colin Powell: Oil Spill Is 'Beyond The Capacity' Of BP To Solve, Military Might Have Role: "Former Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested on Sunday that the United States military has a role to play in helping contain the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying that the problem now was 'beyond the capacity' of BP to stop...

... The statement by the revered military and political figure is a reflection of a growing discouragement over the failure of the Obama administration -- in practice or in perception -- to play a hands-on role in resolving the crisis..."

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Ron Paul: Inside Sources Told Me Fed Is Panicking At Mass Awakening

Ron Paul: Inside Sources Told Me Fed Is Panicking At Mass Awakening: "Appearing on The Alex Jones Show yesterday, Congressman Ron Paul revealed that through his inside sources he had learned that the people who control the Federal Reserve are panicking about the fact that Americans are waking up to the fact that the U.S. is controlled by the central bank.

'I had some information passed on to me, sort of inside information, somebody who knew somebody who was well tuned to the people at the Federal Reserve – and they said they are really really concerned about our movement to expose the Fed for what they’re doing,' said Paul, adding, 'What they’re upset or worried about is the fact that more and more people are aware of the Federal Reserve now like never before,' explaining that exposure will lead to change and a reform of the Federal Reserve.

Paul attributed the success of the freedom movement in the last decade to the growing awareness of the power that the Federal Reserve wields over America..."

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30 May, 2010

Matt Simmons Calls For Military To Nuke Oil Leak

Simmons Calls For Obama to Take Over BP; Military To Nuke Oil Leak :: "Today Matt Simmons, one of the largest investment bankers in the energy industry appeared on Bloomberg. The chairman of Simmons & Co. INTL went on to explain that there is much more to the oil leak than the news has been reporting. Last Sunday, National Underwater Labs sponsored by NOAA confirmed reports of a second fissure about 5-7 miles from the original. This new fissure appears to be releasing a plume the size of Delaware and Maryland combined! He went on to state that 'the plume from the riser is minor thing... the best estimate is about 120,000 barrels of oil per day.'

Simmons is quoted as saying, 'Obama could remove BP today... tell BP it is time to leave.' Some questions were also brought up that pertained to a nuclear device and how the military could lower one 18,000 feet into the well bore.

Simmons went on to say 'Such techniques have been used by the Russians on several different occasions'..."

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Another Vast Oil Plume Discovered in the Gulf

La. scientist locates another vast oil plume in the gulf: "A day after scientists reported finding a huge 'plume' of oil extending miles east of the leaking BP well, on Friday a Louisiana scientist said his crew had located another vast plume of oily globs, miles in the opposite direction.

James H. Cowan Jr., a professor at Louisiana State University, said his crew on Wednesday found a plume of oil in a section of the gulf 75 miles northwest of the source of the leak.

Cowan said that his crew sent a remotely controlled submarine into the water, and found it full of oily globules, from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a golf ball. Unlike the plume found east of the leak -- in which the oil was so dissolved that contaminated water appeared clear -- Cowan said the oil at this site was so thick that it covered the lights on the submarine.

'It almost looks like big wet snowflakes, but they're brown and black and oily,' Cowan said. The submarine returned to the surface entirely black, he said.

Cowan said that the submarine traveled about 400 feet down, close to the sea floor, and found oil all the way down. Trying to find the edges of the plume, he said the submarine traveled miles from side to side.

'We really never found either end of it,' he said. He said he did not know how wide the plume actually was, or how far it stretched away to the west..."


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Millions Face Hunger in Arid Belt of Africa

Millions face hunger in arid belt of Africa - Yahoo! News: "The threat of famine is again stalking the Sahel, a band of semiarid land stretching across Africa south of the Sahara. The U.N. World Food Program warned on Friday that some 10 million people face hunger over the next three months before the next harvest in September — if it comes.

'People have lost crops, livestock, and the ability to cope on their own, and the levels of malnutrition among women and children have already risen to very high levels,' said Thomas Yanga, WFP Regional Director for West Africa.

The U.N.'s humanitarian chief, John Holmes, said at the end of a four-day visit to neighboring Chad that many Chadians have gone as far as Libya to search for food.

'The level of malnutrition is already beyond the danger point,' Holmes said Thursday. 'If we do not act now or as quickly as possible, there is a chance the food crisis will become a disaster'..."

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29 May, 2010

"NOAA’s 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook calls for an 85% chance of an above normal season..."

The following news could portend an even worse disaster in the Gulf region in the coming months than that which is already resulting from BP's horrendous oil spill down there.
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Climate Prediction Center - Atlantic Hurricane Outlook: "NOAA’s 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook calls for an 85% chance of an above normal season. The outlook indicates only a 10% chance of a near-normal season and a 5% chance of a below-normal season...


... In addition, dynamical models forecasts of the number and strength of tropical cyclones also predict a very active season. The conditions expected this year have historically produced some very active Atlantic hurricane seasons. The 2010 hurricane season could see activity comparable to a number of extremely active seasons since 1995. If the 2010 activity reaches the upper end of our predicted ranges, it will be one of the most active seasons on record..."

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Millions Used in Germ Warfare Tests Without Their Knowledge

Millions were in germ war tests | Politics | The Observer: "The Ministry of Defence turned large parts of the country into a giant laboratory to conduct a series of secret germ warfare tests on the public.

A government report just released provides for the first time a comprehensive official history of Britain's biological weapons trials between 1940 and 1979.

Many of these tests involved releasing potentially dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms over vast swaths of the population without the public being told.

While details of some secret trials have emerged in recent years, the 60-page report reveals new information about more than 100 covert experiments.

The report reveals that military personnel were briefed to tell any 'inquisitive inquirer' the trials were part of research projects into weather and air pollution..."

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Extreme Droughts To Be 'More Common'

Extreme droughts to be 'more common' - Climate Change, Environment - The Independent: "Britain is heading for water shortages and crop failures as extreme droughts like that of 1976 become more frequent, experts have warned.

A Met Office study on how climate change could affect the frequency of extreme droughts in the UK has found they will become more common by 2100, and to put the droughts in context, conditions seen in 1976 were used as a benchmark – one of the worst droughts on record.

The Met Office climate model was used to run a number of simulations and in the worst case scenarios, extreme droughts could happen once every decade – making them about 10 times more frequent than today..."

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28 May, 2010

Deepwater Horizon: This Is What the End of the Oil Age Looks Like

Deepwater Horizon: This Is What the End of the Oil Age Looks Like: "... the damage to the Gulf environment and to the economy of the region will be incalculable and will linger for years if not decades. The deadly stench from oil-soaked marshes—as spring turns to hot, fetid summer—will by itself ruin tens or hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods. Then there’s the loss of the seafood industry: we’re talking about more than the crippling of the economic backbone of the region; anyone who’s spent time in New Orleans (my wife’s family all live there) knows that the people and culture of southern Louisiana are literally as well as figuratively composed of digested crawfish, shrimp, and speckled trout...

... This is what the end of the oil age looks like. The cheap, easy petroleum is gone; from now on, we will pay steadily more and more for what we put in our gas tanks—more not just in dollars, but in lives and health, in a failed foreign policy that spawns foreign wars and military occupations, and in the lost integrity of the biological systems that sustain life on this planet..."

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Oil Guru Matthew Simmons: It Could Be 24 Years Before The Deepwater Gusher Ends

Oil Guru Matthew Simmons: It Could Be 24 Years Before The Deepwater Gusher Ends: "By far the most pessimistic take on the oil spill comes from oil guru Matthew Simmons, who was on The Dylan Ratigan Show this afternoon. His warning: There may be no way to stop the leak, and it could take 9000 days (over 24 years) for the gusher to end, while we wait for the well to simply run out..."

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25 Questions To Ask Anyone Who Is Delusional Enough To Believe That This Economic Recovery Is Real

25 Questions To Ask Anyone Who Is Delusional Enough To Believe That This Economic Recovery Is Real - BlackListed News: "If you listen to the mainstream media long enough, you just might be tempted to believe that the United States has emerged from the recession and is now in the middle of a full-fledged economic recovery. In fact, according to Obama administration officials, the great American economic machine has roared back to life, stronger and more vibrant than ever before. But is that really the case? Of course not. You would have to be delusional to believe that. What did happen was that all of the stimulus packages and government spending and new debt that Obama and the U.S. Congress pumped into the economy bought us a little bit of time. But they have also made our long-term economic problems far worse. The reality is that the U.S. cannot keep supporting an economy on an ocean of red ink forever. At some point the charade is going to come crashing down.

And GDP is not a really good measure of the economic health of a nation. For example, if you would have looked at the growth of GDP in the Weimar republic in the early 1930s, you may have been tempted to think that the German economy was really thriving. German citizens were spending increasingly massive amounts of money. But of course that money was becoming increasingly worthless at the same time as hyperinflation spiraled out of control..."

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Hyperinflation Guaranteed

Hyperinflation Guaranteed: "Yes this is it! We have crossed the Rubicon and events in the world economy are now likely to unfold in a totally uncontrollable fashion. Clueless governments still don’t understand that it is their ruinous actions that have created a credit infested and bankrupt world. They will continue to prescribe the same remedy that caused the problem in the first place, namely more credit and more printed money. The consequences are clear; we will have hyperinflation, economic and human misery as well as social unrest.

When will the world finally begin to understand that we have reached the point of no return and that 'the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries' (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)? Sadly, we are probably not very far from that point..."

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Dengue Fever In Florida Portends A Growing Problem

Dengue Fever In Florida Portends A Growing Problem : NPR: "You may not have heard much about a nasty tropical infection called dengue fever. But that may soon change.

Federal health officials have identified the first sizable outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. in 55 years, in the Florida Keys. They say the southern U.S. is ripe for more...

... Dengue fever is rarely fatal, though it can be. But it's often very unpleasant, and dangerous in people with impaired immune systems and other disorders. It's the most common mosquito-borne virus in the world, causing up to 100 million infections and 25,000 deaths each year..."

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27 May, 2010

What If A Hurricane Were To Slam Into The Oil Slick?

AccuWeather.com - Weather News | What if a hurricane were to slam into the oil slick?: "While the oil leak disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is bad enough, many people have been wondering what could happen if a hurricane were to slam into the region.

AccuWeather.com hurricane expert Joe Bastardi is concerned about multiple threats from storms throughout the season in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bastardi attributes heat rising over the tropical Atlantic to a collapsing El Nino pattern in the Pacific. In turn, the rising warm, moist air over the tropical Atlantic is forecast to unleash a top-10 hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin.

With 16 to 18 tropical storms and/or hurricanes expected, a significant number of these are bound to make their way into the Gulf of Mexico. Bastardi expects a little more than 1 out of 3 tropical storms and/or hurricanes to impact U.S. coastal waters this season...

... high winds on the right flank of a hurricane making landfall would cause some oil to become airborne in blowing spray. A storm surge could carry contaminants inland beyond bays, marshes and beaches to well developed locations.

Even a glancing blow from a hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick could be enough for winds and wave action to drive the goo nearby onshore, or to more distant fishing and recreation areas, perhaps in foreign waters.

During the age of sail, winds occasionally blew ships hundreds of miles off course. The wind could have the same effect on the oil slick.

Now, imagine several storms during the season doing the same thing..."


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Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder Discovered

Colony Collapse Disorder Cause - Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder - thedailygreen.com: "The USDA announced on May 25th that preliminary evidence suggests two pathogens, that, when working in concert, can lead to the decline in a honey bee colony now called Colony Collapse Disorder.

This tandem attack has been suggested previously, both here and in other reports, but this is the first report to make it past scientific peer review. A Montana researcher has also been steering this research through what seems to be a desert of common sense in the traditional academic media, who seem to be hooked on the Israeli virus suspected some time ago as the leading cause of colony collapse disorder..."

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Syria Has 1,000 Ballistic Missiles Zeroed On Israeli Targets

DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism, Security: "A colossal Iran-funded and directed armament program has enabled Syria to field 1,000 ballistic missiles and Hizballah 1,000 rockets - all pointed at specific Israeli military and civilian locations, including the densely populated conurbation around Tel Aviv... According to Western military sources, a command center for coordinating a missile offensive against military and civilian targets in Israel has been operating at Syrian general staff headquarters in Damascus since early March with the help of Iranian, Syrian, Hizballah and Hamas liaison officers..."

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China Dispatches Emergency Envoy To Restrain War-Mad North Korea

China Dispatches Emergency Envoy To Restrain War-Mad North Korea: "China dispatched a special envoy to North Korea yesterday to restrain the war-mad regime...

... A government official said China 'reiterated the importance of stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula and delivered the same message to the North,' which is frantically rattling the saber.

'The request could be a warning that Beijing may turn its back on Pyongyang if it should launch further provocations,' a diplomatic source said..."

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26 May, 2010

Market Watch: Warning. Crash Dead Ahead. Sell. Get Liquid. Right Now.

Warning. Crash Dead Ahead. Sell. Get Liquid. Right Now.: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance: "Correction? New crash imminent, worse than 2008

More proof: Earlier economist Gary Shilling said price-to-earnings ratios are at a 'nosebleed 22.5 level.' The Dow was around 11,000. Money manager Jeremy Grantham recently said the market's overvalued 40%. That could mean a collapse to 6,600. Last week in Reuters' 'Markets Could Be Derailed Again,' George Soros echoed a 'game over' warning with a 'stark warning ... that the financial world is on the wrong track and that we may be hurtling towards an even bigger boom and bust than in the credit crisis.'

Now Dow Theory's Richard Russell is warning the public of an imminent crash: 'Sell ... get liquid ... by the end of this year they won't recognize the country.'

A bigger meltdown than the credit crisis? Yes, Bush's team drove America into a ditch. But now Obama and his money men, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, are digging the hole deeper. Soros says we have not learned "the lessons that markets are inherently unstable." As a result, 'the success in bailing out the system on the previous occasion led to a super-bubble.' Now 'we are facing a yet larger bubble.' Worse than 2008? Yes, the game may be 'in the refrigerator,' the lights will go out, but as Soros hints, the electricity may get turned off too. Get it? This may not be a correction. Not even a bear. What's coming could be worse than the 2000 dot-com crash and the 2008 meltdown combined, a "Super-Bubble" says Soros..."

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James Howard Kunstler: Out of Darkness

Out of Darkness - Clusterfuck Nation: "... A New Urbanist developer had gotten a small project going for a traditional neighborhood. Despite the global financial clusterfuck, the developer was able to meet the payments of his commercial loan. But the FDIC sent bank examiners around America and they told the small regional banks that if they had more than twenty percent of their loans in commercial real estate (CRE) they would be put out of business. The banks were ordered to reduce their loads of CRE by calling in the loans and liquidating the assets. Ironically, the banks only called in their 'performing' loans, the ones that were being regularly paid off, because they were ignoring and even concealing the ones that weren't being paid.

The developer in question had his loan called in when the FDIC descended on his bank. He couldn't pay off the $3 million in one lump, of course. The FDIC's agents are going to seize and sell off his project if he can't get it refinanced in short order. He can't get it refinanced because there is now such a shortage of capital in the banking system that no one can get a loan for anything. Also, since it is now well-known that the bank failed, the vultures are circling above his project hoping to buy it for a discount, so even the few private investors who have money won't throw him a lifeline. By the way, the FDIC agents told him they are doing this because they now expect that virtually all commercial real estate loans in the USA will fail in the months ahead. Pretty scary story, huh? And he was one of the good guys..."

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James Howard Kunstler is an author and among the leading voices in the charge to be prepared to change how we live as Peak Oil approaches. He is the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century as well as the fiction novel World Made by Hand: A Novel.

For my part, I try to strike a balance between agreeing with his thoughts on Peak Oil, while thinking him a little naive for his 'sunshine and lollypops' pro-urban vision of the future and his self-professed unpreparedness.

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25 May, 2010

Tension in South Asia

Obama tells military: prepare for North Korea aggression | Reuters: "President Barack Obama has directed the U.S. military to coordinate with South Korea to 'ensure readiness' and deter future aggression from North Korea, the White House said on Monday.

The United States gave strong backing to plans by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to punish North Korea for sinking one of its naval ships, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement..."

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North Korea threatens fight with South | Reuters: "North Korea said on Tuesday it was cutting all ties with the South and threatened its wealthy neighbor with military action over alleged violations of its waters off the west coast.

The comments marked a new high in tensions on the divided peninsula after the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which Seoul blames on a torpedo fired by the communist North..."

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Barack Obama backs South Korea in torpedo dispute | World news | guardian.co.uk: "Barack Obama has given his full support to South Korea's decision to act against Pyongyang for the torpedo attack on its warship, the White House said today, adding that the president has ordered the US military to 'ensure readiness' to help deter future aggression by the North.

Earlier Seoul suspended all trade and investment with North Korea, banned the North's ships from passing its waters, and vowed to take Pyongyang to the UN security council over the incident, in which 46 sailors died.

The White House said it endorsed South Korean president Lee Myung-bak's demand that 'North Korea immediately apologise and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behaviour'..."

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Why Snakebites Are About to Get a Lot More Deadly

Antivenom Shortages - Cost of Antivenom Production Creates Shortages - Popularmechanics.com: "... after Oct. 31 of this year, there may be no commercially available antivenom (antivenin) left. That's the expiration date on existing vials of Micrurus fulvius, the only antivenom approved by the Food and Drug Administration for coral snake bites. Produced by Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, the antivenom was approved for sale in 1967, in a time of less stringent regulation.

Wyeth kept up production of coral snake antivenom for almost 40 years. But given the rarity of coral snake bites, it was hardly a profit center, and the company shut down the factory that made the antivenom in 2003. Wyeth worked with the FDA to produce a five-year supply of the medicine to provide a stopgap while other options were pursued. After that period, the FDA extended the expiration date on existing stock from 2008 to 2009, and then again from 2009 to 2010. But as of press time, no new manufacturer has stepped forward..."

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24 May, 2010

The Prepper Movement -- a Growing Network Preparing for the World's End

The Prepper Movement -- a Growing Network Preparing for the World's End - Asylum.com: "If the proverbial you-know-what hit the global fan, would you be prepared? The answer to that question is most likely a big, fat no.

After all, it's hard to develop life skills (e.g., growing/storing your own food, filtering water) while playing myriad video games or scrounging the Internet for funny videos to post on Facebook.

Turns out, though, that while you may not be concerned about mass chaos and world destruction, a growing number of people are.

Meet the Preppers
Asylum readers, there is a posse of self-sufficient men and women out there who make it their goal to be prepared when disaster strikes. They call themselves 'preppers.'

From natural catastrophes to economic meltdowns to nuclear blowouts, the preppers' collective goal is quite simple: to carry on as usual, even when catastrophe strikes. Think backyard fallout shelters of the 1950s or Y2K shenanigans -- only circa 2010...

The Potential for Disaster
'People are waking up to the fact that they cannot always rely on outside sources for their personal safety and survival,' Tom Martin, CEO of the American Preppers Network, tells Asylum.

'A 'sh** hit the fan' scenario happens to just about everyone sometime in their life,' he says. 'Preparing and having a 'prepper' mindset will lessen the impact of whatever disaster it may be that you might experience in your life'..."


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Ticking Time Bomb! $600 Trillion In Derivatives At Risk Of Catastrophic Default

Ticking time bomb! $600 trillion in derivatives at risk: "With all the focus on Greece and the European Union debt crisis, little attention has been given to what is most likely an even bigger time bomb – the emerging $600 trillion bubble in derivatives that will mostly likely burst as the debt crisis deepens, Jerome Corsi's Red Alert reports.

'Nor is it clear that President Obama, who took huge campaign contributions in 2008 from Wall Street, will be able to bring derivatives under federal regulations this year, even if the White House manages to get financial industry reform measures through Congress,' Corsi wrote.

As interest rates begin to rise worldwide, Red Alert predicts losses in derivatives may end up bankrupting a wide range of institutions, including but not limited to municipalities and state governments around the globe, major insurance companies, top investment houses and commercial banks, as well as universities of all types, even those with the largest endowments.

'Defaults now beginning to occur in a number of European cities prefigure what may end up being the largest financial bubble in history ever to burst – a bubble that today amounts to more than $600 trillion,' Corsi wrote.

The Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, now estimates that derivatives, the complex bets financial institutions and sophisticated institutional investors make with one another on everything from commodities options to credit swaps, topped $604 trillion worldwide – or $0.68 quadrillion – at the end of June 2009...

... To illustrate the relative magnitude of derivative contracts globally, the CIA Factbook estimates the 2009 Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, of the world was just under $60 trillion.

Corsi explained, 'In other words, derivative contracts have now reach a level 10 times world GDP, an amount so incomprehensibly great that even a 10 percent default in derivatives would equal world GDP.'..."

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23 May, 2010

Behind The Drama In Europe Lies A Global Crisis

Behind the drama in Europe lies a global crisis - Telegraph: "It is now accepted, even by Angela Merkel, that as Europe battles its financial crisis, the very fate of the euro is at stake. Her belated discovery of this home truth is welcome, but she does not go far enough. The real concern is that the crisis bubbling on the other side of the Channel represents a make-or-break moment for globalization...

... As long as things were going well, economies were growing rapidly, and affluence was increasing, it was easy for politicians to pretend that when it came to economics, national borders didn't much matter any more. But now the chips are down, nationalism is back.

The rule of thumb here is as follows: of the three aims we have been striving towards in recent history – democracy, national sovereignty and global free trade – you cannot have any more than two at any one time. Want to run your country as an independent state, open to the whims and volatility of the free markets? The voters will punish you at the ballot box. Insist that your nation has full control of its own affairs? Then you have to jettison any plans to play a full part in the global economy. Want democracy and globalization? Then you have to suborn your sovereignty..."


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U.S. Appoints First Cyber Warfare General

US appoints first cyber warfare general | World news | The Observer: "The US military has appointed its first senior general to direct cyber warfare – despite fears that the move marks another stage in the militarisation of cyberspace.

The newly promoted four-star general, Keith Alexander, takes charge of the Pentagon's ambitious and controversial new Cyber Command, designed to conduct virtual combat across the world's computer networks. He was appointed on Friday afternoon in a low-key ceremony at Fort Meade, in Maryland.

The creation of America's most senior cyber warrior comes just days after the US air force disclosed that some 30,000 of its troops had been re-assigned from technical support 'to the frontlines of cyber warfare'.

The creation of Cyber Command is in response to increasing anxiety over the vulnerability of the US's military and other networks to a cyber attack...

... During his confirmation hearing, Alexander said that the Pentagon's networks were being targeted by 'hundreds of thousands of probes every day' adding that he had 'been alarmed by the increase, especially in this year'.

Cyber warfare has increased rapidly in scale and sophistication with China accused of being at the forefront of prominent recent attacks, including the targeting of Google and 20 other companies last year as well as 'Titan Rain' in 2003 – a series of coordinated attacks on US networks. Russian and North Korean hackers have also been accused of large-scale attacks.

Moscow was accused of being behind a massive cyber assault on Estonia in 2007 – the second largest cyber warfare operation ever conducted.

While Alexander has tried to play down the offensive aspects of his command, the Pentagon has been more explicit, stating on Friday that Cyber Command will 'direct the operations and defence of specified Department of Defense information networks [involving some 90,000 military personnel] and prepare to, when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, [to] ensure US allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.'..."


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22 May, 2010

Peak Oil Production Coming Much Sooner Than Expected

Peak oil production coming much sooner than expected | Grist: "A storm is quickly approaching, and the world is not ready for it.

The permanent end of the era of cheap oil is coming as soon as next year, according to a raft of official reports that have made their way into energy media over the last few months. Governments are now beginning to acknowledge the looming crisis. Yet, perhaps because they waited too long to prevent it, leaders are not yet alerting the public.

The entire world economy is built on cheap oil. A permanent oil production shortage will thus lead to The End of The World (As We Know It). What will come on the other side of this -- will it be good or bad?..."


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Clinton Says N.Korea Role in Sinking Demands Response (Update1) - Bloomberg.com

Clinton Says N.Korea Role in Sinking Demands Response (Update1) - Bloomberg.com: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged international action to answer North Korea’s suspected sinking of a South Korean warship, just before she arrived in China for talks set to deal with the crisis.

The U.S. wants China to help shape a response to North Korea, an American official told reporters yesterday in Shanghai. China is an ally of North Korea and has hosted now stalled international talks on reining in the regime’s nuclear arms effort. The U.S. official, who asked not to be identified, said South Korea doesn’t want war to break out over the crisis.

The evidence that North Korea fired a torpedo and sank the ship is 'overwhelming and condemning,' Clinton said at a press briefing in Tokyo with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada during a short stop before she flew on to China. The March 26 sinking of the 1,200-ton Cheonan killed 46 South Korean sailors..."

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Global Cooling Is Coming -- and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns

FOXNews.com - Global Cooling Is Coming -- and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns: "The hottest new trend in climate change may be global cooling, some researchers say.

Contrary to the commonly held scientific conclusion that the Earth is getting warmer, Dr. Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University and author of more than 150 peer-reviewed papers, has unveiled evidence for his prediction that global cooling is coming soon.

'Rather than global warming at a rate of 1 F per decade, records of past natural cycles indicate there may be global cooling for the first few decades of the 21st century to about 2030,' said Easterbrook, speaking on a scientific panel discussion with other climatologists. This, he says, will likely be followed by 'global warming from about 2030 to 2060,' which will then be followed by another cooling spell from 2060 to 2090.

Easterbrook spoke before a group of about 700 scientists and government officials at the fourth International Conference on Climate Change. The conference is presented annually in Chicago by the Heartland Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank that actively questions the theory of man's role in global warming. Last year the Institute published Climate Change Reconsidered, a comprehensive reply to the United Nations' latest report on climate change.

'Global warming is over -- at least for a few decades,' Easterbrook told conference attendees. 'However, the bad news is that global cooling is even more harmful to humans than global warming, and a cause for even greater concern'..."


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21 May, 2010

One Possible Financial Doomsday Scenario

American Thinker Blog: One financial doomsday scenario: "That the US is going broke is no longer a moot point for many. The signs are everywhere; the mathematics too obvious...

... The timing and the manner in which this plays out is not easily forecasted. The key point in trying to forecast this particular problem is when and how the politicians respond. No politician ever wants to address a problem that inflicts pain on his/her constituents. Unfortunately, the possibility of solving this problem without inflicting pain is impossible. That option disappeared years ago.

Based on the universal political characteristic -- cowardice -- politicians never take painful actions until forced to do so. Markets will eventually be the force that causes action. The ensuing events will not be neat and tidy. One way or another, the welfare states will be dismantled. Whether this dismantling is partial or total is moot.

After decades of coddling and dependency, the US has created a class of citizens that believe entitlements are a birthright. Several generations have known only this way of life. Public 'servants' are a different problem. They live in their own insulated world, divorced from the realities of markets. For too many years they have only seen their numbers expand and salaries increase. To believe that either group will accept what's coming graciously is the height of naivete..."


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Arab World Grapples With Pending Food Shortage

Arab world grapples with pending food shortage - Arab News: "ARAB countries need to invest some $144 billion in agriculture over the next 20 years to meet the food demands of the growing population, an Arab agricultural organization has said.

Tareq A-Zadjali, director general of the Arab Organization for Agriculture Development, said much of the funding for agricultural expansion needs to be secured from private Arab investors.

'We have an annual food security gap of between 27 and 29 billion dollars,' he told The Media Line. 'We want to reduce this gap.'

The population in the Middle East, currently numbering around 335 million, is projected to reach some 545 million by the year 2030, creating what A-Zadjali claimed will be a deficit of $71 billion should investment not be secured.

The organization is working on a program that will increase food security, with a focus on wheat, rice, sugar and oil..."


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Scientist Creates Life For First Time In Laboratory Sparking Debate About 'Playing God'

Scientist Craig Venter creates life for first time in laboratory sparking debate about 'playing god' - Telegraph: "Dr Craig Venter, a multi-millionaire pioneer in genetics, and his team have managed to make a completely new 'synthetic' life form from a mix of chemicals.

They manufactured a new chromosome from artificial DNA in a test tube, then transferred it into an empty cell and watched it multiply – the very definition of being alive.

The man-made single cell 'creature', which is a modified version of one of the simplest bacteria on earth, proves that the technology works.

Now Dr Venter believes organism, nicknamed Synthia, will pave the way for more complex creatures that can transform environmental waste into clean fuel, vaccinate against disease and soak up pollution.

But his development has also triggered debate over the ethics of 'playing god' and the dangers of the new technology could pose in terms of biological hazards and warfare.

'We are entering an era limited only by our imagination,' he said announcing the research published in the journal Science..."


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20 May, 2010

Scientists Forecast Decades of Ash Clouds From Iclandic Eruptions

Scientists forecast decades of ash clouds - Times Online: "THE Icelandic eruption that has caused misery for air travellers could be part of a surge in volcanic activity that will affect the whole of Europe for decades, scientists have warned.

They have reconstructed a timeline of 205 eruptions in Iceland, spanning the past 1,100 years, and found that they occur in regular cycles — with the relatively quiet phase that dominated the past five decades now coming to an end.

At least three other big Icelandic volcanoes are building towards an eruption, according to Thor Thordarson, a volcanologist at Edinburgh University.

'The frequency of Icelandic eruptions seems to rise and fall in a cycle lasting around 140 years,' he said. 'In the latter part of the 20th century we were in a low period, but now there is evidence that we could be approaching a peak.'

His findings coincide with new warnings that the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, which has disrupted air traffic across Europe for several weeks, could carry on for many months — and possibly years..."


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Woody Allen Says Obama Should Be Granted Dictatorial Powers... Seriously.

Woody Allen says Obama should be granted dictatorial powers: "In an interview with the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, film director Woody Allen suggested that President Obama should be granted total dictatorial powers for a few years 'so he can get some good things done.'

From FOX News via the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia comes the news that Oscar-winning American film director Woody Allen believes that it would be in the best interests of the United States if President Obama were granted dictatorial powers for a few years. In the La Vanguardia interview translated by FOX News, Mr. Allen said the following:

'I am pleased with Obama. I think he’s brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him. It would be good…if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly'..."

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Here Come the 'Smart' Meters

Here Come the 'Smart' Meters - WSJ.com: "One of modern life's most durable features—fixed-price electricity—is slowly being pushed to the sidelines, a creeping change that will influence such things as what time millions of Americans cook dinner and what appliances they buy.

Driving the change is the rollout of so-called smart meters, which can transmit data on how much power is being used at any given time. That gives utilities the ability to charge more for electricity at peak times and less during lulls. Spreading out electricity consumption more evenly across the day leads to more efficient use of power plants and lower emissions..."

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19 May, 2010

Dow Theorist Richard Russell: Sell Everything, You Won't Recognize America By The End Of The Year

Dow Theorist Richard Russell: Sell Everything, You Won't Recognize America By The End Of The Year: "WHOA!

Richard Russell, the famous writer of the Dow Theory Letters, has a chilling line in today's note:

'Do your friends a favor. Tell them to 'batten down the hatches' because there's a HARD RAIN coming. Tell them to get out of debt and sell anything they can sell (and don't need) in order to get liquid. Tell them that Richard Russell says that by the end of this year they won't recognize the country. They'll retort, 'How the dickens does Russell know -- who told him?' Tell them the stock market told him.'

That's pretty intense!..."

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Oil Spill to Shut Down 19% of Gulf Fishing

Oil spill to shut down 19 percent of Gulf fishing - Yahoo! News: "The sign outside the Pensacola Beach marina says 'We're Still Fishing,' but that's not really true.

The federal government announced Tuesday it is nearly tripling the size of an area in the Gulf of Mexico that's closed to fishing because of a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it was closing nearly 46,000 square miles, or about 19 percent of federal waters, beginning at 6 p.m.

That's up from the 7 percent of the Gulf that's been closed to fishing boats since shortly after an offshore oil rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. Rig operator BP PLC estimates that the blown-out well has leaked more than 5 million gallons.

The spill has scared off charter fishing customers at the marina here, even though the water they'd normally trawl is still open to fishing..."

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18 May, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Disaster: The Trigger of American Economic Collapse?

Gulf Oil Spill Disaster: The Trigger of American Economic Collapse? : "This article is written to analyze the potential economic fallout of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion that occurred on April 20, 2010. I maintain that this incident could be the trigger of the American economic collapse. My expertise is in the insurance risk management and claims field. So, let’s look at what is going to happen as this disaster unfolds over time.

The oil drilling platform that burned and sank was drilling a well about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The derrick... was connected to the ocean floor by a 'riser'…a 5,000 foot pipe that is now kinked like a garden hose. But the leaks are at the sea floor, not in the pipe. If BP, the lessee, cannot close the valve at the mile-deep wellhead, they may have to drill another well to relieve pressure. Some experts estimate that it could take two months to cap the well at the mile-deep ocean floor. And every day, somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 BARRELS (200,000 to 1 million gallons) of crude oil float to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

The leading edge of the oil slick is about to make landfall at the Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi coasts. But there exists the possibility that the oil spill may be caught by the Gulf Stream…the powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic Ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico, exits through the Strait of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

And, we are just about to enter the Hurricane season, which extends from June 1st to November 30th. Any hurricane that enters the Gulf of Mexico will disperse the surface oil to parts unknown. There is no predicting which coastlines could be coated with crude oil...

... So, we may be witnessing the humble beginnings of a disaster that could potentially affect the American coastline from Texas to Newfoundland..."


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Outgoing U.K. Treasury Chief Secretary To His Replacement 'There's No Money Left'

Outgoing U.K. Treasury Chief Secretary To His Replacement 'There's No Money Left':
"Is it really this bad?

On his first day of work, the new incoming chief secretary of the U.K. treasury, David Law, was greeted with the following note from his outgoing predecessor:

'Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money
left.'


Mr. Law described the note as 'honest', according to Bloomberg.

He has a lot of work to do."


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3,000 Additional Air Force Officers Become Cyberspace Specialtists

3,000 officers switch to cyberspace specialty - Air Force News, news from Iraq - Air Force Times: "About 3,000 communications officers are now cyberspace officers.

In all, 30,000 airmen have been shifted to the front lines of cyber warfare. The officers made the switch in April; the changeover for 27,000 enlisted airmen happened in November...

... the officers face stiffer educational requirements and the expectation to see their job as operational and not strictly mission support.

'It’s not just spray paint, it’s a new mindset,' said Brig. Gen. David Cotton...

... Cyberspace officers will continue to provide support but they also will be the go-to experts on how a computer or communication network can improve war-fighting capabilities.

The transformation is part of the service’s larger emphasis on cyberspace operations and merging most computer system operations and network warfare functions under Space Command’s 24th Air Force, based at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

While wing-level communications squadrons continue to be under the wing’s chain of command, overall policy for operating the systems is set by 24th Air Force..."


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17 May, 2010

Meredith Whitney: Financial Reform Will Cause "Tragic" Unemployment Levels For An Extended Period Of Time

Meredith Whitney: Financial Reform Will Cause "Tragic" Unemployment Levels For An Extended Period Of Time: "Meredith Whitney is back with an op-ed in the WSJ warning of the dangers to the economy if small businesses continue to be deprived of oxygen, or, more specifically, capital.

In particular:

'If banks are not allowed to effectively price for risk, they will not take the risk. Right now we need banks, and particularly community banks, more than ever to step in and provide liquidity to small businesses. Interest-rate caps and interchange fees will more likely drive consumer credit out of the market and many community banks out of business'..."


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Fresh Ash Cloud Stops Flights Ahead of British Airways Strike

Fresh ash cloud stops flights ahead of BA strike | World news | The Guardian: "Air passengers face a week of travel disruption as a fresh cloud of volcanic ash drifts across the UK and British Airways cabin crew prepare to embark on a 20-day strike.

Early this morning a no-fly zone was imposed until at least 7am for an area covering Northern Ireland, parts of Scotland and southern England including London airports, while airports in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Prestwick were expected to reopen after a day of closures. Cardiff is open but operations may be limited.

The cloud is forecast to leave UK airspace by Tuesday..."

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16 May, 2010

UK Flights Disrupted by Volcano Cloud, More Is On The Way

UK Flights disrupted by volcano cloud, more is on the way: "The Icelandic volcano cloud is continuing to disrupt flights in Europe, with forecasters warning that it may extend itself during Monday and Tuesday.

Currently, a no-fly zone has been imposed over parts of Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom), as volcanic ash heads towards northwestern parts of the UK.

Travellers are being advised to check with their airlines before setting off from home.

Airspace across Europe was shut down for five days in April over concerns that ash – from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano – could turn to molten glass in high temperatures, and foul aircraft engines...

... The BBC says the cloud is expected to hover over the London area by Tuesday, 'but is likely to have drifted out of UK airspace by Wednesday'..."


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Gulf Oil Leaks Could Gush for Years

Gulf Oil Leaks Could Gush for Years: "'We don't have any idea how to stop this,' expert says.

If efforts fail to cap the leaking Deepwater Horizon wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico, oil could gush for years—poisoning coastal habitats for decades, experts say...

... "We don't have any idea how to stop this," Simmons (Matthew Simmons, retired chair of the energy-industry investment banking firm Simmons & Company International) said of the Gulf leak. Some of the proposed strategies—such as temporarily plugging the leaking pipe with a jet of golf balls and other material—are a "joke," he added.

"We really are in unprecedented waters."

Gulf Oil Reservoir Bleeding Dry

If the oil can't be stopped, the underground reservoir may continue bleeding until it's dry, Simmons suggested..."


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Massive Oil Plumes Discovered in Gulf's Deep Waters

Massive oil plumes discovered in Gulf's deep waters: "New research by scientists reports the BP oil spill is far greater than government and BP reports suggest, with enormous undersea oil plumes as long as 10 miles situated in the Gulf of Mexico’s deep waters.

Multiple layers of oil are being discovered in the water column, with one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. These discoveries are providing fresh evidence that the leak from the Deepwater undersea well is much worse than official reports by the British oil giant or the US government.

Samantha Joye, a University of Georgia researcher involved with one of the first scientific missions related to the environmental catastrophe, said: 'There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,' according to the New York Times..."

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How Long Will The Coal Last?

How long will the coal last? | Energy Bulletin: "The building of the new coal-fired power station Medupi in a sensitive natural environment is an acknowledgement that something is more important – namely that the nation gets sufficient energy. This was the reasoning of both South Africa and the World Bank before the decision to lend SA $3.75 to build one of the world’s largest coal-fired power stations despite international protests. That, in addition, the ANC government owns shares in one of the three companies involved were also ignored...

... Despite a shortage of electricity it has been taken for granted in South Africa as an infinite resource – and cheap electricity is a reason that many foreign energy-craving industries have established themselves here.

A coal-fired power station has a working life of approximately 40 years but the existing stations are inefficient and old and the heavy coal transports they require dirty the nation’s roads.

Today 90 percent of South Africa’s energy comes from coal. 75% of the nation currently has electricity, but the need for electricity is calculated to grow faster than the supply and not even the Medupi installation will be sufficient in a few years..."


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US Faces One of Biggest Budget Crunches in World

US faces one of biggest budget crunches in world – IMF – Telegraph Blogs: "Earlier this week, the Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, irked US authorities by pointing out that even the world’s economic superpower has a major fiscal problem -“even the United States, the world’s largest economy, has a very large fiscal deficit” were his words. They were rather vague, but by happy coincidence the International Monetary Fund has chosen to flesh out the issue today..."

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