IMPORT PRICES STILL SOARING

Today’s update on import prices once again paints a troubling picture on pricing pressures.

Import prices jumped 2.8% last month, the U.S. Labor Department reports. That’s the highest since last December’s unnerving 3.2% spike. More troubling is the fact that the 2.8% rise in March is in the upper range for monthly changes going back to the 1980s. Adding insult to injury, import prices soared 14.8% measured over the 12 months through last month, as our chart below shows. That’s the highest 12-month rate in the Labor Department’s archives, which goes back to 1982 as per the web site.

The “good news,” if we can call it that, is that much of the rise in import prices was due to higher energy costs. And energy prices can’t rise forever–we hope. In any case, the 14.8% surge in import prices over the past year falls to 5.4% after stripping out energy. But the lesser rise in non-petroleum import prices is hollow comfort once you recognize that the 5.4% annual pace is the highest since the 1980s. The basic trend, in short, is not in doubt, no matter how you slice the import-price pie.

How troubling is a 5.4% rise in non-petroleum imports? In search of an answer, consider that inflation generally in the U.S. is climbing by 4.0%, based on the annual rise in consumer prices through February. And the nominal (pre-inflation adjusted) annualized pace of economic expansion in 2007’s fourth quarter was 3.0%. In other words:

* non-petroleum import prices are advancing at a roughly 33% faster rate than general inflation
* non-petroleum import prices are rising 80% faster than the nominal growth of GDP

Read moreIMPORT PRICES STILL SOARING

Migratory bird numbers plummeting, study shows


Taking flight: Magpie Geese migrate across the Northern Territory after
arriving from Indonesia (file photo) (Getty Images: Ian Waldie)

Birds are considered an accurate barometer of the state of the environment, so when the numbers of migratory birds fall, scientists consider it cause for concern.

Now the first major long-term survey assessing shore birds from Broome to Sydney has found that Australia’s massive migratory population has plummeted by up to 75 per cent over the last 25 years.

Read moreMigratory bird numbers plummeting, study shows

Thousands of swallows die in South Africa on eve of migration

Johannesburg – Tens of thousands of swallows died in South Africa a week before they were due to migrate to Europe, BirdLife South Africa said on Wednesday, blaming unusually cold March weather. A sudden cold snap coming from in Angola gripped South Africa’s northern lowveld (savannah) towards the end of the southern summer in mid-March.

“Due to this the birds could not feed properly as it was too wet and too rainy for them to acquire the food. They became hypothermic and hypoglycaemic,” BirdLife director Gerhard Verdoorn was quoted by SAPA news agency as saying. “The tens of thousands of birds were falling down everywhere and just dying,” he said, adding residents in Limpopo province had at first suspected poisoning. The birds were supposed to migrate on March 23, the day of the equinox. Some birds survived and started their migration on March 28, he said. “Over the past couple of years it has become a more frequent occurrence and it is not only the swallows that are been affected but several other species of birds.”

Source: earthtimes.org

Met Police officers to be ‘microchipped’ by top brass in Big Brother style tracking scheme

Don’t miss:

CASPIAN RELEASES MICROCHIP CANCER REPORT



Met Chief Sir Ian Blair could be among 31,000 officers to receive the new electronic tracking device

Every single Metropolitan police officer will be ‘microchipped’ so top brass can monitor their movements on a Big Brother style tracking scheme, it can be revealed today.

According to respected industry magazine Police Review, the plan – which affects all 31,000 serving officers in the Met, including Sir Ian Blair – is set to replace the unreliable Airwave radio system currently used to help monitor officer’s movements.

The new electronic tracking device – called the Automated Personal Location System (APLS) – means that officers will never be out of range of supervising officers.

But many serving officers fear being turned into “Robocops” – controlled by bosses who have not been out on the beat in years.

According to service providers Telent, the new technology ‘will enable operators in the Service’s operations centres to identify the location of each police officer’ at any time they are on duty – whether overground or underground.

Although police chiefs say the new technology is about ‘improving officer safety’ and reacting to incidents more quickly, many rank and file believe it is just a Big Brother style system to keep tabs on them and make sure they don’t ‘doze off on duty’.

Some officers are concerned that the system – which will be able to pinpoint any of the 31,000 officers in the Met to within a few feet of their location – will put a complete end to community policing and leave officers purely at the beck and call of control room staff rather than reacting to members of the public on the ground.

Pete Smyth, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said: “This could be very good for officers’ safety but it could also involve an element of Big Brother.

“We need to look at it very carefully.”

Other officers, however, were more scathing, saying the new system – set to be implemented within the next few weeks – will turn them into ‘Robocops’ simply obeying instructions from above rather than using their own judgement.

One officer, working in Peckham, south London, said: “They are keeping the exact workings of the system very hush-hush at the moment – although it will be similar to the way criminals are electronically tagged. There will not be any choice about wearing one.

Read moreMet Police officers to be ‘microchipped’ by top brass in Big Brother style tracking scheme

Oakland cops: Mind if we search your house for guns?

OAKLAND _ A six-month pilot program where Oakland police officers would knock on doors and ask permission to search homes for guns got the green light from the City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday night.
It goes to the full council Tuesday, when the council will meet at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The consent-to-search program, as it is called, is based closely on a similar effort launched in St. Louis in 1994 and on ongoing programs in Boston and Washington, D.C. The idea is simple: To ask parents for permission to search their homes for weapons their children may be hiding.

Under the program, officers would request permission to search homes for guns. Guns would be taken away, but officers would not pursue prosecution unless the weapon was tied to a crime.

The St. Louis effort fizzled after initial success, but Oakland’s Deputy Police Chief David Kozicki said that in Washington, police officers say they cannot keep up with requests from parents to search their homes. Such is the interest in the program, he said.

Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown), who is on the public safety committee, said she was surprised to hear that and hoped Oakland might see the same results.

Read moreOakland cops: Mind if we search your house for guns?

Homeland Security invokes nuclear bomb, as Bush quietly links cybersecurity program to NSA

Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff has dropped the bomb.

At a speech to hundreds of security professionals Wednesday, Chertoff declared that the federal government has created a cyber security “Manhattan Project,” referencing the 1941-1946 project led by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop American’s first atomic bomb.

According to Wired’s Ryan Singel, Chertoff gave few details of what the government actually plans to do.

He cites a little-noticed presidential order: “In January, President Bush signed a presidential order expanding the role of DHS and the NSA in government computer security,” Singel writes. “Its contents are classified, but the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has said he wants the NSA to monitor America’s internet traffic and Google searches for signs of cyber attack.”

The National Security Agency was the key player in President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was revealed by the New York Times in 2005.

Sound familiar? Yesterday, documents acquired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation under the Freedom of Information act showed the FBI has engaged in a massive cyber surveillance project that targets terror suspects emails, telephone calls and instant messagesand is able to get some information without a court order.

Last week, the ACLU revealed documents showing that the Pentagon was using the FBI to spy on Americans. The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans’ Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, according to Pentagon documents.

Read moreHomeland Security invokes nuclear bomb, as Bush quietly links cybersecurity program to NSA

Philippines threatens rice hoarders with life imprisonment

Filipinos face life in prison if they’re caught hoarding rice.

“The Department of Justice is preparing economic sabotage or plunder charges that carry a life sentence against traders found to be hoarding rice, the price of which has risen sharply amid a tight global supply,” The Inquirer reports. “Although the country has yet to experience a shortage, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Thursday vowed to hale to court hoarders and other unscrupulous rice traders for acts ‘inimical to the public interest.'”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reiterated the warnings during a speech today, but also pledged to increase imports of the staple.

“Those who seek to take advantage of our people must be stopped,” she says, according to The Inquirer. “I am leading the charge to crack down on any form of corruption by public or private officials who would divert supplies or pervert the price of this essential commodity in any way.”

“Anyone caught stealing rice from the people will be thrown in jail,” she adds.

Bloomberg News
reports that the price of rice, a key staple in the global food supply, keeps hitting record highs. It’s now twice as expensive as it was at this time in 2007.

“We’re in for a tough time,” Roland Jansen, CEO of Mother Earth Investments AG, tells the financial news service, adding: “you will have huge problems of daily nutrition for half the planet.”

(Photo of workers in Manila taken March 28 by Romeo Ranoco, Reuters.)

Source: USA Today

Scientists take drugs to boost brain power: study

(Don’t you ever take drugs like Ritalin etc. That is lethal stuff, that destroys the brain
and you also become addicted to it. – The Infinite Unknown)

Twenty percent of scientists admit to using performance-enhancing prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, according to a survey released Wednesday by Nature, Britain’s top science journal.

The overwhelming majority of these med-taking brainiacs said they indulged in order to “improve concentration,” and 60 percent said they did so on a daily or weekly basis.

The 1,427 respondents — most of them in the United States — completed an informal, online survey posted on the “Nature Network” Web forum, a discussion site for scientists operated by the Nature Publishing Group.

More than a third said that they would feel pressure to give their children such drugs if they knew other kids at school were also taking them.

“These are academics working in scientific institutions,” Ruth Francis, who handles press relations for the group, told AFP.

The survey focused on three drugs widely available by prescription or via the Internet.

Ritalin, a trade name for methylphenidate, is a stimulant normally used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially in children. Modafinil — marketed at Provigil — is prescribed to treat sleep disorders, but is also effective against general fatigue and jet lag.

Read moreScientists take drugs to boost brain power: study

IMF says US crisis is ‘largest financial shock since Great Depression’


A foreclosure sign in Florida. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

America’s mortgage crisis has spiralled into “the largest financial shock since the Great Depression” and there is now a one-in-four chance of a full-blown global recession over the next 12 months, the International Monetary Fund warned today.

Read moreIMF says US crisis is ‘largest financial shock since Great Depression’

Bush Given Authority To Sexually Torture American Children

The “horror of the shrieking boys” gets a rubber stamp from the boot-licking U.S. Congress & Senate as America officially becomes a dictatorship

Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet.com | September 29 2006

Slamming the final nail in the coffin of everything America used to stand for, the boot-licking U.S. Senate last night gave President Bush the legal authority to abduct and sexually mutilate American citizens and American children in the name of the war on terror.

There is nothing in the “detainee” legislation that protects American citizens from being kidnapped by their own government and tortured.

Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman states in the L.A. Times, “The compromise legislation….authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.”

Similarly, law Professor Marty Lederman explains: “this [subsection (ii) of the definition of ‘unlawful enemy combatant’] means that if the Pentagon says you’re an unlawful enemy combatant — using whatever criteria they wish — then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to ‘hostilities’ at all.”

We have established that the bill allows the President to define American citizens as enemy combatants. Now let’s take it one step further.

Before this article is dismissed as another extremist hyperbolic rant, please take a few minutes out of your day to check for yourself the claim that Bush now has not only the legal authority but the active blessings of his own advisors to torture American children.

The backdrop of the Bush administration’s push to obliterate the Geneva Conventions was encapsulated by John “torture” Yoo, professor of law at Berkeley, co-author of the PATRIOT Act, author of torture memos and White House advisor.

During a December 1st debate in Chicago with Notre Dame professor and international human rights scholar Doug Cassel, John Yoo gave the green light for the scope of torture to legally include sexual torture of infants.

Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty.

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

Read moreBush Given Authority To Sexually Torture American Children