Global News (02/01/09)

Google blacklists entire internet (Guardian):
Glitch causes world’s most popular search engine to classify all web pages as dangerous

Davos Delegates in ‘Denial’ as $25 Trillion of Wealth Vanishes (Bloomberg)

Exclusive: Peers for cash investigation – new undercover footage (Times)

Barack Obama to dilute ‘Buy American’ plan after Europe threatens US with trade war (Telegraph)

Obama Proposes Defense Cut (To Above 2007 Levels): Wingnut Outrage (Crooks and Liars):
The Pentagon’s budget (not including expenditures for Iraq and Afghanistan) has grown from $316B in 2001 to $536B in 2009. This represents a 70% increase. So a 10% decrease is funding will take us from $536B to $483B, which is still more than the $463B the Pentagon had for 2007. All Obama is doing is preventing the budget from growing an average of 10% year after year when there’s no discernible advantage to doing so.

Obama prepares to unveil plan to rescue US banking industry from from $2 trillion hole (Times Online): It is believed that President Obama has estimated that total losses among America’s lenders could cost the US (Taxpayers’) up to $2 trillion.

€7bn to be pumped into Irish banks (Times Online)

Exxon and Chevron made $6m an hour amid record profits (Telegraph):
Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two biggest oil companies in the world, made a combined profit of almost $6m (£4.1m) an hour in the final quarter of 2008, despite a 56pc slump in the oil price during the period.

Hedge fund to offer shares priced in gold (Telegraph):
A hedge fund is to offer its shares priced in ounces of gold rather than pounds or dollars to investors worried that inflation will take hold as a result of countries around the world printing more money.

Sewage yields more gold than top mines (Reuters)

Florida, Maryland, Utah Banks Shut as Financial Crisis Deepens (Bloomberg):
Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) — Banks in Florida, Maryland and Utah were closed yesterday as regulators wrapped up the busiest month for failures since the housing slump began in 2006.

GlaxoSmithKline to slash 6000 jobs (Telegraph)

Financed by the British taxpayer, brutal torturers of the West Bank (Daily Mail)

Intervening to prop up pound is ‘recipe for failure’, says Brown (Independent):
(The Bank of England is ‘printing money’ which will destroy the pound. The pound is beyond help.)

Russian newspaper mourns another murdered reporter (AP)

Treasuries purchases will depend on risk – China’s Wen (Reuters):
(Looks like the Obama/Geithner strategy pays off already.) China is the single biggest foreign investor of U.S. Treasuries, with $681.9 billion as of November, according to U.S. data.

Scientist see holes in glacier at Alaska volcano (AP):
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Geologists monitoring Mount Redoubt for signs of a possible eruption noticed that a hole in the glacier clinging to the north side of the volcano had doubled in size overnight — and now spans the length of two football fields.

Fines fraud hits Italian drivers (BBC News):
Thousands of drivers in Italy are expected to seek compensation after it was revealed that a system to catch them jumping red lights was rigged.

How the BBC’s stand on Gaza made a front-page protester out of me (Independent)

Intervening to prop up pound is ‘recipe for failure’, says Brown (Independent)

Americans’ saving more, spending less (AP)

Joblessness Probably Rose to 16-Year High: US Economy Preview (Bloomberg)

Rio Tinto in £6bn talks with China (Times)


Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland

Officials warn of ‘destruction of all means of life’ after the three-week conflict leaves agriculture in the region in ruins

Gaza’s 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion.

According to the World Food Programme, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.

Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, the World Food Programme’s country director, said: “We are hearing that 60% of the land in the north – where the farming was most intensive – may not be exploitable again. It looks to me like a disaster. It is not just farmland, but poultry as well.

“When we have given a food ration in Gaza, it was never a full ration but to complement the diet. Now it is going to be almost impossible for Gaza to produce the food it needs for the next six to eight months, assuming that the agriculture can be rehabilitated. We will give people a full ration.”

Read moreGaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland

AP Investigation: Banks sought foreign workers during meltdown

The use of visa workers by ailing banks angers Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

“In this time of very, very high unemployment … and considering the help these banks are getting from the taxpayers, they’re playing the American taxpayer for a sucker,” Grassley said in a telephone interview with AP.


SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – Major U.S. banks sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs even as the system was melting down last year and Americans were getting laid off, according to an Associated Press review of visa applications.

The dozen banks now receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions that included senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households.

Read moreAP Investigation: Banks sought foreign workers during meltdown

World is getting colder: It’s the sun, not CO2, that’s to blame

David J. Bellamy is a professor at three British universities and an officer in several conservation organizations. Mark Duchamp, a retired businessman, has investigated global- warming theory and written more than 100 articles.

After the wet and cold centuries of the Little Ice Age (around 1550-1850 A.D.), the world’s climate recuperated some warmth, but did not replicate the balmy period known as the Middle Age Warm Period (around 800-1300 A.D.), when the margins of Greenland were green and England had vineyards.

Climate began to cool again after World War II, for about 30 years. This is undisputed. The cooling occurred at a time when emissions of C02 were rising sharply from the reconstruction effort and from unprecedented development. It is important to realize that.


Related article: BBC abandons ‘impartiality’ on warming (Telegraph):
Again and again the BBC has been eager to promote every new scare raised by the advocates of man-made global warming. As late as August 28 this year it was still predicting that Arctic ice might soon disappear, just as this winter’ s refreezing was about to take ice-cover back to a point it was at 30 years ago.


By 1978 it had started to warm again, to everybody’s relief. But two decades later, after the temperature peaked in 1998 under the influence of El Nino, climate stopped warming for eight years; and in 2007 entered a cooling phase marked by lower solar radiation and a reversal of the cycles of warm ocean temperature in the Atlantic and the Pacific. And here again, it is important to note that this new cooling period is occurring concurrently with an acceleration in CO2 emissions, caused by the emergence of two industrial giants: China and India.

To anyone analyzing this data with common sense, it is obvious that factors other than CO2 emissions are ruling the climate. And the same applies to other periods of the planet’s history. Al Gore, in his famous movie “The Inconvenient Truth,” had simply omitted to say that for the past 420,000 years that he cited as an example, rises in CO2 levels in the atmosphere always followed increases in global temperature by at least 800 years. It means that CO2 can’t possibly be the cause of the warming cycles.

So, if it’s not CO2, what is it that makes the world’s temperature periodically rise and fall? The obvious answer is the sun, and sea currents in a subsidiary manner.

Read moreWorld is getting colder: It’s the sun, not CO2, that’s to blame

Joint Chiefs chairman calls fiscal calamity a bigger threat than any war

Though he’s a warrior, not an economist, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, ranks the financial crisis as a higher priority and greater risk to security than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The scope of it is, to me, mind-boggling,” said Mullen in an interview with Military Update Wednesday, just hours before President Barack Obama made his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief.

Mullen said it is a testament both to the nation’s strength and to the severity of the fiscal crisis that Congress last fall swiftly approved a relief fund of $700 billion to bail out banks and try to thaw frozen credit markets.

The amount nearly matched last year’s defense budget, Mullen noted, contrasting the speed of that action to the long, detailed process of setting military requirements, debating programs and passing a defense budget.

That’s “not even to speak of discussions, literally today, of a stimulus package that’s going to be another 800 or 900 billion (dollars). I think that’s going to affect all of us much more than personally,” Mullen said.

“I’ve been concerned and remain concerned about the impact of this on security,” he continued. “It’s a global crisis. And as that impacts security issues, or feeds greater instability, I think it will impact on our national security in ways that we quite haven’t figured out yet”

Read moreJoint Chiefs chairman calls fiscal calamity a bigger threat than any war

Court rules that private school can expel lesbian students

Relying on the 1998 state Supreme Court ruling which allowed the Boy Scouts of America to deny admittance to gays and atheists, a San Bernardino, California court has ruled that California Lutheran High School does not have to follow anti-discriminatory laws.

California state law forbids anti-gay bias in public schools, but the court determined that California Lutheran is actually a “social organization” and is not subject to such laws.  It was decided, therefore, that the school was within its rights to expel two students for admitting to their sexual orientation.

You can read the court’s ruling by clicking here.

The case came about as a result of two 11th grade girls who were questioned by the principal about their sexual orientation.  The principal was ‘alerted’ by another student who saw comments written on the girls’ My Space page.

The girls were suspended as a result of the answers given to the principal.

Read moreCourt rules that private school can expel lesbian students

Afghans threaten US troops over civilian deaths


An Afghan villager elder holds his walking stick, as he talks with US soldiers who have come to pay money for repairing of the homes which were destroyed during the recent US raids in Inzeri village of Tagab Valley in Kapisa province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009. An angry Afghan man with a thick black beard and one eye ranted wildly at the U.S. officials, shouting about how their raid had killed 16 civilians in his village. An Afghan elder cried out in grief that his son and four grandsons were killed. (AP Photo/Jason Straziuso)

MEHTERLAM, Afghanistan (AP) – An angry Afghan man with a thick black beard ranted wildly at the U.S. officials, shouting about how their overnight raid had killed 16 civilians in his village. An Afghan elder cried out in grief that his son and four grandsons were among the dead.

One after another, a long line of government officials, villagers and community leaders told American military officials at the Laghman governor’s compound that Afghan soldiers must be allowed to take part in such raids. Several predicted increased violence against U.S. forces if more nighttime operations take place.

Three recent U.S. Special Forces operations killed 50 people – the vast majority civilians, Afghan officials say – raising the ire of villagers and President Hamid Karzai, who set a one-month deadline for his demand that Afghan soldiers play a bigger role in military operations.

“If these operations are again conducted in our area, all of our people are ready to carry out jihad. We cannot tolerate seeing the dead bodies of our children and women anymore,” Malik Malekazratullah, the Afghan who ranted at the Americans, told The Associated Press. “I’ve already told President Karzai we are out of patience.”

Read moreAfghans threaten US troops over civilian deaths