An oil slick covering 400sq miles is threatening a slow-motion catastrophe for the Gulf of Mexico’s delicate marine life, with 42,000 gallons (160,000 litres) a day now gushing from an uncapped well after a rig explosion.
Two days after declaring that there was no leak and that oil on the surface was residue from on board the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform that burst into a fireball on Tuesday, officials revealed that the slick was coming from the seabed and was now 25 times the size it was on Friday.
“It’s 1,000 barrels [a day] emanating from 5,000ft below the surface,” said Rear-Admiral Mary Landry, of the US Coast Guard, who is overseeing the emergency response. “Absolutely, this is a very serious oil spill.”
BP, which leased the rig, said last week that it was doing everything in its power to contain the spill and resolve the situation “as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible”, using underwater robots, 700 personnel, five aircraft, 32 vessels, and nearly 200 miles of floating booms.
Russia has started the annual Days of Defence against Environmental Hazards from the 15th of April to the 5th of June with the announcement of sensational results of an independent work of research. Scientists have proved that Genetically Modified Organisms are harmful for mammals.The researchers discovered that animals that eat GM foodstuffs lose their ability to reproduce. Campbell hamsters that have a fast reproduction rate were fed for two years with ordinary soya beans, which are widely used in agriculture and those contain different percentages of GM organisms. Another group of hamsters, the control group, was fed with pure soya, which was found with great difficulty in Serbia because 95 percent of soya in the world is transgenic.
Concerning the experiment carried out jointly by the National Association for Gene Security and the Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems, Dr. Alexei Surov has this to say. “We selected several groups of hamsters, kept them in pairs in cells and gave them ordinary food as always,” says Alexei Surov. “We did not add anything for one group but the other was fed with soya that contained no GM components, while the third group with some content of Genetically Modified Organisms and the fourth one with increased amount of GMO. We monitored their behavior and how they gain weight and when they give birth to their cubs. Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs’ growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly. When we got some of their cubs we formed the new pairs of the third generation. We failed to get cubs from these pairs, which were fed with GM foodstuffs. It was proved that these pairs lost their ability to give birth to their cubs,” Dr. Alexei Surov said.
Another surprise was discovered by scientists in hamsters of the third generation. Hair grew in the mouth of the animals that took part in the experiment. It’s unclear why this happened. The researchers cannot understand why a programme of destruction is launched when animals take GMO foodstuffs. They say that this can be neutralized only by stopping to eat these foods. Consequently, scientists suggest imposing a ban on the use of GM foods until they are tested for their bio-security. The results of Russian scientists coincide with those of their colleagues from France and Austria. For one, when scientist proved that GM maize was harmful for mammals, France banned immediately its production and sale. The scientists who carried out the experiment say that it’s too early to make far-reaching conclusions about the health hazards of the GMO. They insist that there is a need to carry out comprehensive research. They suggest implementing the project, “Safety Gene Technology” at the innovation centre, “Skolkovo” which is being set up near Moscow.
Come the end of the world, you might like to sit it out in style. All you need is money and a few DIY skills…
Prepared for the end of the world: model of the living quarters in a Vivos underground bunker. Photograph: Terra Vivos/Barcroft USA
Abandon any notion of surviving the apocalypse by doing anything as boringly obvious as running for the highest hill, or eating cockroaches. The American firm Vivos is now offering you the chance to meet global catastrophe (caused by terrorism, tsunami, earthquake, volcano, pole shift, Iran, “social anarchy”, solar flare – a staggering list of potential world-murderers are considered) in style.
Vivos is building 20 underground “assurance of life” resorts across the US, capable of sustaining up to 4,000 people for a year when the earth no longer can. The cost? A little over £32,000 a head, plus a demeaning-sounding screening test that determines whether you are able to offer meaningful contribution to the continuation of the human race. Company literature posits, gently, that “Vivos may prove to be the next Genesis”, and they are understandably reluctant to flub the responsibility.
A JURY has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay record punitive damages of $18.5m (£12m) to a man who was sexually abused by a former assistant scoutmaster more than 25 years ago.
Following the verdict Kerry Lewis, 37, said the decision to sue and testify in open court at the trial in Portland, Oregon, had been “very scary”.
The jury heard that when he was 11 or 12 years old, Lewis was repeatedly abused by Timur Dykes, the scoutmaster. Dykes had already admitted to a Scouts official that he had molested 17 other boys. Under Oregon law Lewis, also awarded $1.4m compensatory damages, must hand 60% ($11m) of the punitive award to the state.
Lawyers for Lewis told the six-week trial that because of his ordeal he had suffered from personality problems including drug abuse and difficulties in forming relationships.
The case is particularly damaging to the Boy Scouts of America, which is unrelated to the British organisation, because it drew attention to “perversion files” that it keeps at its headquarters in Texas.
Lawyers for Lewis said the files, more than 1,000 of which were shown to the court but kept secret from the press and public, detailed many cases in which volunteers were allowed to continue working with children even after the Scouts had received complaints that they were abusers.
Red Ants beat residents of Alexandra Township with crowbars
WAVING iron bars and pickaxes, the Red Ants, a rented mob of thugs in bright red overalls and crimson helmets, used the half-light of dawn for cover as they marched into the slum. Stamping out the first cooking fires of the day with heavy boots, they spread out in a long line. Then they attacked.
Bleary immigrant women dropped plastic water containers and ran in panic towards their corrugated iron homes. “Grab the children,” they screamed.
By sunrise their shacks on the outskirts of Johannesburg had been razed. They were forced to watch as their few possessions were burnt.
The Red Ants, described as state-sponsored mercenaries by their critics, have become a growing force in the past few months as South African cities have begun a campaign of “beautification” before the World Cup begins in June. This means clearing away unsightly immigrant squatter camps.
This month, more than 100 Zimbabweans were beaten and evicted by Red Ants from a derelict building on the main road to Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, one of the football tournament’s main venues.
It followed a series of Red Ant evictions ordered by the provincial department of public transport along main roads within a mile of the stadium, which will host five matches. Hundreds more Zimbabweans were forcibly evicted from properties in central Johannesburg.
Chairman of Senate’s Wall Street investigations committee accuses beleaguered bank on website.
The beleaguered Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs boasted that it was making tens of millions of dollars of profits daily by betting against its own clients’ investments, according to internal emails released yesterday by a US senator.
The annual report of the bank, which is currently facing fraud charges in the US, denied that it had generated enormous revenues by wagering on the US housing crisis. Yet an email apparently from chief executive Lloyd Blankfein to his colleagues says: “Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then we made more than we lost because of ‘shorts’ [bets that the market would get even worse].”
The damning material from the senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations, which is reviewing the role of Wall Street banks in the financial crisis, was posted on the website of its chairman, Senator Carl Levin. It will be used in what promises to be an incendiary public hearing on Tuesday when Blankfein is scheduled to testify in front of the subcommittee.
In a statement, Goldman stood by earlier claims that it never made significant profits out of the housing market and said that the emails proved nothing.
April 24 (Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein told colleagues in an e-mail that the firm made money by shorting, or betting against, mortgages, according to documents obtained and released today by a U.S. Senate subcommittee.
“Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess,” Blankfein, 55, wrote in an e-mail dated Nov. 18, 2007, that was among eight pages of documents released today by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts. Also, it’s not over, so who knows how it will turn out ultimately.”
Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, has come under scrutiny for its sales of collateralized debt obligations linked to mortgages during 2007, just as the market for such instruments started to crumble. Blankfein, 55, and six current and former employees will face questioning next week about its business practices by the subcommittee, led by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, 75.
On April 16 the Securities and Exchange Commission sued the firm for fraud, alleging that the company and an employee, Fabrice Tourre, misled investors about a CDO. Goldman Sachs has contested the allegations, arguing that the investors had all the information they needed and that the firm would never mislead investors.
Last Updated: April 24, 2010 09:37 EDT
By Christine Harper
HAUNTED by the memory of a lost opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden before he attacked the World Trade Center in New York, US military planners have won President Barack Obama’s support for a new generation of high-speed weapons that are intended to strike anywhere on Earth within an hour.
Obama’s interest in Prompt Global Strike (PGS), a nonnuclear weapons programme, has alarmed China and Russia and complicated nuclear arms reduction negotiations.
White House officials confirmed last week that the president, who won the Nobel peace prize last year, is considering the deployment of a new class of hypersonic guided missiles that can reach their targets at speeds of Mach 5 — about 3,600mph.
That is nearly seven times faster than the 550mph Tomahawk cruise missiles that arrived too late to kill Bin Laden at an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 1998.
“The ability to attack a wide range of targets at intercontinental range, promptly and without resort to nuclear weapons, is of central importance to US national security,” said Daniel Goure, a defence analyst at the Lexington Institute in Virginia.
The White House has requested almost $250m in congressional funding next year for research into hypersonic technologies, some of which harness the shock waves generated by a fast-moving missile to increase its speed further.
The collective wealth of Britain’s 1,000 richest people has increased by almost a third in the past year despite the uncertain economy, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2010.
Lakshmi Mittal, the steel tycoon tops The Sunday Times Rich List 2010 with a fortune of £22.45 billion. Photo: REX
The multimillionaires are worth £335.5 billion, up £77.265 billion (29.9 per cent) on last year, according to the latest edition of The Sunday Times’ Rich List 2010.
The rise is easily the largest annual increase in the 22 years that the survey has been carried out.
In 1997, when Labour came to power, the collective wealth of the then richest 1,000, was just £98.99 billion. In total, the number of billionaires in this year’s list has risen from 43 to 53.
The findings are likely to prove controversial, coming just ahead of the general election and with spending cuts and tax rises expected from whichever party wins.
Top of the Sunday Times Rich List 2010 again is Lakshmi Mittal, the steel tycoon, whose fortune has more than doubled from £10.8 billion last year to £22.45 billion.
He is followed by: Roman Abramovich, the oil and industry magnate and owner of Chelsea FC, worth £7.4bn – up six per cent on last year; the Duke of Westminster, the property owner, now worth £6.75bn, an increase of four per cent; and Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli, whose £5,950 million wealth, based on pharmaceuticals, has increased by 20 per cent. Kirsty Bertarelli is also considered the richest woman in the list.
Two lawmakers who believe violence has become so rampant in Chicago that the Illinois National Guard must be called in to help made a public plea to Gov. Pat Quinn to deploy troops.
April 14: Chicago Police and investigators are seen following a shooting that left four people dead, including two children.
CHICAGO (AP) — Two lawmakers who believe violence has become so rampant in Chicago that the Illinois National Guard must be called in to help made a public plea to Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday to deploy troops.
A recent surge in violent crime, including a night last week that saw seven people killed and 18 wounded — mostly by gunfire — prompted the request from Chicago Democratic Reps. John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford. They were joined by Willie Williams, whose son was shot and killed in 2006.
Chicago has had 113 homicide victims so far this year, Fritchey said.
“As we speak, National Guard members are working side-by-side with our troops to fight a war halfway around the world,” he said during a news conference in downtown Chicago. “The unfortunate reality is that we have another war that is just as deadly that is taking place right in our backyard.”
Fritchey said later that the proposal wasn’t a “no confidence” vote toward police.
“I think the police have done a commendable job in fighting this surge in violence, but I also think they could use some well-trained help,” he said. “The reality is that (police) department resources are stretched thin.”
Roger Vangheluwe said he was ‘enormously sorry’ for the abuse
The longest-serving Roman Catholic bishop in Belgium has resigned after admitting sexually abusing a boy for years. Roger Vangheluwe, 73, said that he was “enormously sorry” for molesting the boy from before he was made Bishop of Bruges in 1985.
The Vatican accepted his resignation only a day after a lawsuit was filed in the US against Pope Benedict XVI over sex abuse committed by an American priest.
The Catholic Church is reeling from the departures of several senior figures over abuse scandals, including Walter Mixa, a senior German bishop close to the Pope, who resigned on Thursday after admitting beating children at an orphanage.
Mr Vangheluwe is the most senior cleric to step down over child sex abuse during the crisis. In a statement read by the head of the Catholic Church in Belgium, Archbishop André-Joséph Leonard, the bishop said: “When I was not a bishop, and some time later, I abused a boy. This has marked the victim mentally forever. The wound does not heal. Neither in me nor the victim.”
Church officials said that Mr Vangheluwe would not be prosecuted because the crime had not been reported within the country’s statute of limitations, understood to be ten years after the victim turns 18 for cases of child sex abuse.
In the 1970s Iran paid Britain for thousands of tanks, but when the Shah fell they were sold on to Iraq. Now Tehran wants its money back.
Trigger for a bitter dispute: the then state-of-the-art Chieftain tank
For Britain’s hard-pressed armaments industry, it was a lucrative deal with a trusted ally. Between 1971 and 1976, the increasingly despotic Shah of Iran had signed on the dotted line for 1,500 state-of-the-art Chieftain battle tanks and 250 repair vehicles costing £650 million. Even better, Persia’s King of Kings paid the British government for his new weaponry up front.
The problem came in 1979 when, with just 185 tanks delivered to Tehran, the Iranian Revolution deposed Shah Pahlavi and installed an Islamic Republic with a somewhat less warm stance towards the United Kingdom. The massive deal, fully sanctioned by the Ministry of Defence, foundered and the Iranians, perhaps understandably, asked for their money back.
London refused and – after flogging a number of its suddenly surplus tanks to Iran’s most bitter enemy in the shape of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – the British government has for 30 years fought a little-noticed but bitter legal wrangle in an obscure international trade court based in the Netherlands to hold onto what remains of the Shah’s money.
The Independent can reveal that Britain is to pay back nearly £400m to Iran’s defence ministry after finally admitting defeat in the dispute in a move that will be heralded by Tehran as a major diplomatic triumph while it continues its international brinkmanship with the West over its nuclear ambitions.
Financial restrictions imposed by the European Union on Iranian banks, which freeze any of Tehran’s assets held abroad, mean that Iran will not be able to access the funds. They will instead be held in a trust account overseen by independent trustees. The money will join £976m of Iranian assets already frozen in Britain.
Scottish scientists have made cancer tumors vanish within 10 days by sending DNA to seek and destroy the cells.
The system, developed at Strathclyde and Glasgow universities, is being hailed as a breakthrough because it appears to eradicate tumors without causing harmful side-effects. A leading medical journal has described the results so far as remarkable, while Cancer Research UK said they were encouraging.
Dr Christine Dufes, a lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and leader of the research, said: “The tumors were completely gone within 10 days. It is fantastic. When you talk about 10 days that is the time frame for curing a cold. Imagine if within 10 days you could completely make a tumour disappear.”
Researchers around the world are trying to find ways to use genes as a cancer treatment, but one problem is ensuring they attack the tumor without destroying healthy tissue.
A safety device that warns pilots when they get too close to the ground was switched off on the Polish plane which crashed in Smolensk on April 10th, according to a report by the Russian news agency Interfax.
Ninety-six people, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, and many top military and civilian leaders, died when the plane plummeted into woods in Russia.
An expert who examined one of the black boxes concluded from the technical data that the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) had been turned off, according to Interfax and reported by Polskaweb
The Polish plane crash has been blamed on pilot error.
But the expert said that the fact that the TAWS device had been switched off caused the plane to crash short of a runway in fog.
“The fact that the jet had a TAWS device “opens more questions than it answers,” said John Cox, a former accident investigator, according to USA Today.
The Russian-built Tupolev TU-154 had been equipped last year with a TAWS system, which is made by Universal Avionics Systems of Tucson.
No plane equipped with the TAWS system has crashed since TAWS was introduced in the late 1990s.
The system has been mandatory on commercial planes since 2005,and has reduced crashes due to planes hitting obstacles to virtually zero, reports USA Today.
Polish TV journalist Slawomir Wisniewski who was among the first to reach the crash site of the Tupolev plane containing key Polish military and civilian figures, including the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, has said that he believes there was no one on board the crashed plane apart from the crew.
In an interview with a Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita (RZ), he said he saw no evidence of bodies or personel belongings.
“There was no sign that 100 people had been killed by the crash,” he said.
“There were no seats, suitcases, bags, simply nothing and above all no human remains and there was a terrible silence at the site,” he said.
Wisniewski said that he had flimed another plane crash in 1987 and had seen the remains of bodies everywhere.
“The fact that i did not see them in Smolensk made me suspect that there were no passengers on board, and only the crew…” he said.
Wisniewski was manhandled and thrown to the ground by Russian secret service agents, who confiscated his film, but managed to keep the tape that was later put on the internet.
Another film of the crash site that appeared on April 11 and that was shot by a Ukrainian journalist using his mobile phone also shows no sign of bodies. According to internet reports, the journalist died in hospital in Kiev after being attacked with a knife and after his life support system was disconnected.
The absence of any sign of bodies will fuel speculation that the Polish elite were lured to the airport or another location and abducted in Poland and then taken to prisons, possibly even CIA-run prisons, for interrogation before being killed. The plane crash in Smolensk was then staged to explain their disappearance.
The Polish central bank governor, national security chief and top army generals allegedly died in the crash as well as the president, two presidential candidates and much of the opposition party, clearing the way for Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to follow pro euro, pro-IMF and pro-Gazprom policies that will enrich the Gobalists.
There have also been reports of Polish agents entering the office of one crash victim to search through files two hours after the plane crash was announced, suggesting the crash was planned.
The two videos of the crash site taken from the article below:
Video from Polish TV journalist Slawomir Wisniewski
Under pressure: German troops are calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel to tell them why they’re at war in Afghanistan
German soldiers are wearing their hearts on their sleeves – in the form of a badge that protests their country’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Some troops have taken to wearing the cloth accessory that states – ironically – ‘I fight for Merkel’ in a bid to persuade the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to explain exactly what they are fighting and dying for.
Four more troops were killed, and five badly injured, in Afghanistan last week.
Seven soldiers have died there so far this month, bringing the total to 43 in all since they were first deployed eight years ago.
Unable to engage the Taliban directly on the ground, frustrated by their government’s inability to acknowledge they are even engaged in a war and angered by the lack of popular support for their mission, the badges are a low-key mutiny that has sent shock waves through the top brass of the Bundeswehr.
Soldiers were warned this week that it is illegal to sew the cloth patches on to their uniforms.
But that hasn’t stopped them from buying the badges in their hundreds, in desert beige or NATO green, at the ISAF camp at Mazar-e-Sharif.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk is set to seal a key gas deal with Russia’s Gazprom days after the death of opponents to the contract – including Polish President Lech Kaczynski – in a mysterious plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, reports Polskaweb.
Under the contract worth an estimated 100 billion dollars – the biggest business deal in the history of Poland – Poland is to increase its imports of Russian gas.
The contract to buy gas from Gazprom until 2037 will make Poland 100% dependent on Russian gas for the next 28 years in spite of the announcement of the discovery of huge gas reserves in Poland in April just before the memorial service in Katyn, Smolensk.
Poland could have 3 trillion cubic metres of reserves of shale gas, enough to satisfy domestic demand for more than 200 years.
Europe’s gas reserves could jump 47% as a result of Poland’s gas reserves, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
Poland currently consumes 14bn cubic metres of gas a year and imports more than 70% of it from Russia.
The development of its own shale gas deposits could have allowed Poland to satisfy all its gas needs, and even export ga, becoming a competitor to Gazprom. Shale gas already accounts for up to 20% of US natural gas production.
President Lech Kaczynski and many other opposition party politicians, who were killed in a plane crash in Smolensk, had opposed the Gazprom deal.
Earlier this year, Russian energy giant Gazprom and Polish gas monopoly, PGNiG, signed agreements extending gas deliveries until 2045. Under one of the agreements, Gazprom gas supplies to Poland will increase from 8 to 11 billion cubic meters per year and the current agreement will be extended by 15 years, through 2037.
But the deal was put on ice after the opposition party had threatened legal action over the contract which was so disadvantageous to Poland’s economic and energy interests, alleging „lobbying” (bribery?).
Kaczynski said that he was „deeply worried” about the contract which would have made Poland even more dependent on Russian gas for 28 years.
It was also argued that Poland already had a contract with Russia until 2022, and there was no need to rush into a 30 year contract.
Prof. William Black scorched everyone with his testimony on the failure of Lehman Brothers before the House Financial Services Committee today. His prepared remarks can be found here (PDF).
CHAIRMAN KANJORSKI: And now we’ll hear from Mr. William K. Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law, the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law. Mr. Black.
BILL BLACK: Members of the Committee, thank you.
You asked earlier for a stern regulator, you have one now in front of you. And we need to be blunt. You haven’t heard much bluntness in hours of testimony.
We stopped a nonprime crisis before it became a crisis in 1991 by supervisory actions.
We did it so effectively that people forgot that it even existed, even though it caused several hundred million dollars of losses – but none to the taxpayer. We did it by preemptive litigation, and by supervision. We broke a raging epidemic of accounting control fraud without new legislation in the period of 1984 through 1986.
Legislation would’ve been helpful, we sought legislation, but we didn’t get it. And we were able to stop that because we didn’t simply consider business as usual.
Lehman’s failure is a story in large part of fraud. And it is fraud that begins at the absolute latest in 2001, and that is with their subprime and liars’ loan operations.
Lehman was the leading purveyor of liars’ loans in the world. For most of this decade, studies of liars’ loans show incidence of fraud of 90%. Lehmans sold this to the world, with reps and warranties that there were no such frauds. If you want to know why we have a global crisis, in large part it is before you. But it hasn’t been discussed today, amazingly.
Financial institution leaders are not engaged in risk when they engage in liars’ loans – liars’ loans will cause a failure. They lose money. The only way to make money is to deceive others by selling bad paper, and that will eventually lead to liability and failure as well.
YouGov also found that if people thought Mr Clegg’s party had a significant chance of winning the election, it would win 49 per cent of the votes, with the Tories winning 25 per cent and Labour just 19 per cent.
The Sun newspaper failed to publish a YouGov poll showing that voters fear a Liberal Democrat government less than a Conservative or Labour one.
The Liberal Democrats accused the newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, of suppressing the finding. The paper, which endorsed Labour in the past three elections, declared its support for David Cameron during the Labour Party’s annual conference last October. Like other Tory-supporting papers, it has turned its fire on Nick Clegg over his policies, pro-European statements and expenses claims since he won last week’s first televised leaders’ debate.
YouGov also found that if people thought Mr Clegg’s party had a significant chance of winning the election, it would win 49 per cent of the votes, with the Tories winning 25 per cent and Labour just 19 per cent.One in four people Labour and one in six Tory supporters say they would switch to the Liberal Democrats in these circumstances. The party would be ahead among both men and women, in every age and social group, and in every region. On a uniform swing across Britain, that would give the Liberal Democrats 548 MPs, Labour 41 and the Tories 25.
The Liberal Democrats hope the long-standing argument that supporting them would be a “wasted vote” is breaking down following the surge in support for them in the past week. However, even the most optimistic Liberal Democrats do not expect to win the election.
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