Chavez warns of “war” if Colombia strikes Venezuela

(Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez warned Colombia on Saturday it would be a “cause for war” if its forces struck inside Venezuelan territory as they did in Ecuador killing a top Colombian rebel commander there.“Don’t be thinking that you can do that here … because it would be extremely serious and would be a causa belli, a cause for war, (if there is) a military incursion in Venezuelan territory. There’s no excuse,” Chavez said in his most belligerent comments to date in a diplomatic dispute with Bogota.

Colombia’s military said troops killed Raul Reyes, a leader of Marxist FARC rebels, during an attack on a jungle camp in Ecuador in a severe blow to Latin America’s oldest guerrilla insurgency. The operation included air strikes and fighting with rebels across the border.

Chavez has been at odds with U.S.-backed Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the Venezuelan’s mediation with the FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, over the release of hostages held by the rebels.

The outspoken, anti-U.S. Chavez has called Uribe a pawn of the United States in the superpower’s plans to attack Venezuela. Colombia and the United States deny the accusation from Chavez who regularly says without providing evidence that Washington is plotting his ouster.

Chavez has withdrawn his ambassador from Bogota and in recent weeks insulted Uribe during his speeches.

(Reporting by Patricia Rondon; Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: Reuters

Bank Failures? No big deal, says CNN

I really enjoyed reading this article, although I think TheOnion.com would be much better suited publisher.Here are some excerpts:

Banking experts say there is one thing that will save your money if your bank goes under. That’s FDIC insurance. “It’s the gold standard,” says banking consultant Bert Ely. “The FDIC has ample resources. It’s never been an issue,” he says.

As loan delinquencies rise, and bank failures increase, the FDIC is shoring up its reserves.

That’s fascinating, because last I checked (about five minutes ago), the FDIC had in its assets about 1.2% of the deposits it claims to “insure”.

If your bank bites the dust, there’s nothing to fear according to the FDIC. A healthier banking institution normally buys the failed bank according to Barr. “There is little or no interruption to the consumer,” he says. “If you go to bed one night as a customer of a bank, and you wake up as a customer of a new bank, there is nothing you have to do.” Your checks will still clear, you can still use your ATM card.

See? Bank failure isn’t even a bad thing!

Posted by Chris Brunner at February 29, 2008 11:16 AMSource: lewrockwell.com

U.N. chief condemns Israel after Gaza clash

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GAZA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using “excessive” force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s.

Addressing an emergency session of the Security Council in New York after four days of fighting in which 96 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians, Ban also called on Gaza’s Islamist militants to stop firing rockets.

The 1.5 million Palestinians crammed into the blockaded, 45 km (30-mile) sliver of coast, enjoyed a relative respite early on Sunday from Israeli air strikes and raids. Two Israeli soldiers died in a ground assault on Saturday. An Israeli civilian was killed by a rocket in a border town on Wednesday.

“While recognising Israel’s right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children … I call on Israel to cease such attacks,” said Ban.

Read moreU.N. chief condemns Israel after Gaza clash

China considers changing one-child policy

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BEIJING (AP) — China may consider changing its one-child policy because it has succeeded in helping to slow population growth in the past three decades, a Chinese official said Sunday.

The policy, launched in the 1970s, has produced “very good results,” said Wu Jianmin spokesman for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to parliament.

There would be an estimated 400 million more people in China without it, Wu said.

Read moreChina considers changing one-child policy

Pentagon to test invisible gases in Crystal City

WASHINGTON (Map, News) – The Pentagon is scheduled to release an odorless, invisible, and yes, harmless, gases into the city Thursday to test how quickly they spread through buildings, officials said.The test is part of the military’s national security preparation for the capital area.

Over the past few years, the defense agency has worked with Arlington County to set up chemical sensors throughout the county, where thousands of defense employees work in leased office space.

Read morePentagon to test invisible gases in Crystal City

Armenia declares Marshal Law

Armenia declares emergency ruleA state of emergency has been declared in Armenia’s capital on the 11the consecutive day of protests against an allegedly rigged presidential election.

The measure, signed by President Robert Kocharian, bans public gatherings and imposes restrictions on media reports.

It came after police fired in the air to disperse demonstrators. Some reports suggest a number of casualties.

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Police in riot gear were out in large numbers

Read moreArmenia declares Marshal Law

Iraq war may cost US USD 7 trillion

Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may cost the US up to USD 7 trillion.When US troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that rebuilding the nation would cost less than USD 2b, but Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than USD 3 trillion.

That estimate from the Noble Prize-winning Sttiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War”, which hits store shelves Friday.

The book, co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, builds on previous research that was published in January 2006. The two argued then and now that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wildly underestimated.

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Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes

Read moreIraq war may cost US USD 7 trillion

Iran shifts oil sales away from dollar

Deputy head of the National Iranian Oil Company for international affairs says Iran has completely dropped dollar in its oil sales.“We issue invoices in dollars and agree with clients that the letters of credit and other means of payment will have a non-dollar basis,” he said.

In an interview with The Financial Times, Hojjatollah Ghanimifard said that over the past three months, Iran has received 75 percent of the proceeds from its oil sales in euros and the remaining 25 percent in the Japanese currency, yen.

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Hojjatollah Ghanimifard

Read moreIran shifts oil sales away from dollar

Finnland – areas normally covered in snow and ice…

RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
Budapest, Hungary2008-03-04 19:23:42 – Climate Change – Finland

GLIDE CODE: CC-20080304-15687-FIN
Date & Time: 2008-03-04 19:23:42 [UTC]
Area: Finland, , Statewide,

Description:

Southern Finland had only 20 days of snow, compared to 70 days normally,
while neighboring Estonia had to cancel a popular cross-country ski
marathon in the southern city of Tartu in early February. “I don’t
remember winter like this. We had almost no snow at all in February,”
said Merike Merilain, chief weather forecaster at Estonia’s
meteorological institute, EMHI. “It’s been emotionally very stressful,
especially to many older people, that it’s dark and rainy all the time,”
she added. The Finnish Meteorological Institute said the mild winter
partly resulted from strong southerly and westerly air currents caused
by exceptionally warm surface temperatures of the Atlantic.
Nevertheless, the higher temperatures have only fueled concern that
greenhouse gasses are changing the climate, especially in the sensitive
Arctic region.

“When we were young, back in the ’80s, then winter existed,” said Ronny
Ahlstedt, 28, who works at an outdoor ice-skating rink in downtown
Stockholm. “We are contributing to this warm weather by letting out all
this pollution in the air.” In areas normally covered in snow and ice,
spring-like temperatures have brought premature sightings of flowers
such as winter aconite, snowdrops, wood anemone, daffodils and
coltsfoot. Finland’s coasts are clear of ice up to 350 miles north of
Helsinki, said Jouni Vainio from the Finnish Institute of Marine
Research. “It’s most unusual because now the whole sea should be frozen
along the Finnish coast.” Railway traffic is also being helped by the
warmth. More than 90 percent of all trains this winter have been on time
or less than five minutes late, according to the Finnish state railway,
VR. “Hard frosts and heavy blizzards have always been a bane of rail
traffic. This winter has been punctuated by their absence,” VR spokesman
Herbert Mannerstrom said.