Bay Area Shoppers Asked To Limit Rice Purchases

The price of a food staple — rice — is rising significantly, NBC11 reported.
The price of rice has increased dramatically in recent weeks due to crop failure overseas and resulting hoarding, NBC11 reported.
And at least one Bay Area store is asking customers to hold back on their rice purchases. Costco has posted signs asking customers to follow their regular rice-buying habits.
The rice price increase is a result of a domino effect, NBC11’s Noelle Walker reported. Drought in Australia led to a severe decline in rice production that in turn led the world’s largest rice exporters to restrict exports. That spurred higher rice prices and hoarding in Asian countries, NBC11 reported.

Now in the United States, rice prices have skyrocketed.
Son Tran owns Le Cheval Vietnamese Restaurant in Oakland.
He said he’s seen the price of rice go from $20 to $40 in a matter of weeks.
And Le Cheval’s stockpiles are dwindling.
Add to that, the price of vegetables has gone up 50 percent, and some of Tran’s regular customers aren’t so regular anymore.

Read moreBay Area Shoppers Asked To Limit Rice Purchases

Border Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause

Federal agents at the border do not need any reason to search through travelers’ laptops, cell phones or digital cameras for evidence of crimes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, extending the government’s power to look through belongings like suitcases at the border to electronics.

The unanimous three-judge decision reverses a lower court finding that digital devices were “an extension of our own memory” and thus too personal to allow the government to search them without cause. Instead, the earlier ruling said, Customs agents would need some reasonable and articulable suspicion a crime had occurred in order to search a traveler’s laptop.

On appeal, the government argued that was too high a standard, infringing upon its right to keep the country safe and enforce laws. Civil rights groups, joined by business traveler groups, weighed in, defending the lower court ruling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government, finding that the so-called border exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches applied not just to suitcases and papers, but also to electronics.

Read moreBorder Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause

Senator: VA lying about number of veteran suicides

WASHINGTON — The Veterans Administration has lied about the number of veterans who’ve attempted suicide, a senator charged Wednesday, citing internal e-mails that put the number at 12,000 a year when the department was publicly saying it was fewer than 800.

“The suicide rate is a red-alarm bell to all of us,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Murray also said that the VA’s mental health programs are being overwhelmed by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, even as the department tries to downplay the situation.

“We are not your enemy, we are your support team, and unless we get accurate information we can’t be there to do our jobs,” Murray told Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon Mansfield during the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

Read moreSenator: VA lying about number of veteran suicides

FBI wants widespread monitoring of illegal Internet activity

WASHINGTON–The FBI on Wednesday called for new legislation that would allow federal police to monitor the Internet for “illegal activity.”

The suggestion from FBI Director Robert Mueller, which came during a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing, appears to go beyond a current plan to monitor traffic on federal-government networks. Mueller seemed to suggest that the bureau should have a broad “omnibus” authority to conduct monitoring and surveillance of private-sector networks as well.

The surveillance should include all Internet traffic, Mueller said, “whether it be .mil, .gov, .com–whichever network you’re talking about.” (See the transcript of the hearing.)


Robert Mueller (Credit: FBI )

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FROM DNA OF FAMILY, A TOOL TO MAKE ARRESTS

PRIVACY ADVOCATES SAY THE EMERGING PRACTICE TURNS RELATIVES INTO GENETIC INFORMANTS

He was a church-going father of two, and for more than 30 years Dennis Rader eluded police in the Wichita area, killing 10 people and signing taunting letters with a self-styled monogram: BTK, for Bind Torture Kill. In the end, it was a DNA sample that tied BTK to his crimes. Not his own DNA. But his daughter’s.

Investigators obtained a court order without the daughter’s knowledge for a Pap smear specimen she had given five years earlier at a university medical clinic in Kansas. A DNA profile of the specimen almost perfectly matched the DNA evidence taken from several BTK crime scenes, leading detectives to conclude she was the child of the killer. That allowed police to secure an arrest warrant in February 2005 and end BTK’s murderous career.

The BTK case was an early use of an emerging tool in law enforcement: analyzing the DNA of a suspect’s relatives. In the BTK example, police had a suspect and were looking to tie him to the crime. But now, states are moving to conduct familial searches of criminal databases, looking for close-to-perfect matches with DNA from crime scenes. A partial match with a convicted criminal could implicate a brother or daughter or father of the convict. Such searches, advocates say, constitute a powerful law enforcement tool that, experts say, could increase by 40 percent the number of suspects identified through DNA.

Read moreFROM DNA OF FAMILY, A TOOL TO MAKE ARRESTS

Hyperinflationary Depression

Until now, I have given equal credence to two possible scenarios:

  1. We could have several years of inflation as we do now, and the powers-that-be would have a sudden rush of brains to the head, like Paul Volcker and Ronald Reagan did in 1980, and stop the “printing press,” ending inflation and the gold and silver bull market, for at least a few years; or
  2. It is too late to stop it. The political forces and the Unfunded Liabilities would prevent the powers-that-be from ending the money-printing process, and in fact, would grossly accelerate it. This would result in a hyper inflation (400 percent inflation or more), and the eventual total destruction of the dollar. Suddenly America would find its money totally useless. Store shelves would be empty, gas would go through the stratosphere, and Americans would suffer through the greatest threat since the Great Depression of the ’30s.

So what caused me to settle on number two?

I received John Williams’ recent newsletter “Shadow Government Statistics,” www.shadowstats.com in which he describes his case for a hyper-inflationary depression. It was most persuasive. It certainly persuaded me, and is consistent with what I’ve said for years.

I spent the ’70s fending off the media label of “Prophet of Doom,” arguing that I expected much less than doom. It turned out to be so.

With my new book in circulation, I’ll face the same accusations, and this time they are right. The financial world we know and love is facing genuine doom. You could lose the value of all your assets in the stock market. You could find yourself unable to buy essential commodities, when you want them, and gold and silver will be valued, not in the tens or hundreds of dollars per ounce, but in the thousands!

John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics newsletter is most unusual. John is a consulting economist with all of the academic credentials. Most of his clients are bank officers and high-ranking corporate officers. He has rearranged the government data according to historical analysis.

For example, the government says inflation is under four percent by the simple expedient of eliminating energy and food from their calculations. John says inflation is over 11 percent, including energy and food.

His academic credentials are way ahead of mine, but at least I know enough to understand his work. It’s my job to try to reduce such things to terms my subscribers can grasp.

Here are some brief paragraphs from this 25-page report.

“With the creation of massive amounts of new fiat (not backed by gold) dollars will come the eventual complete collapse of the value of the U.S. dollar and related dollar-denominated paper assets.”

Read moreHyperinflationary Depression

World might be heading towards Ice Age

CANBERRA: Scientists have warned that the world might once again be heading towards an Ice Age, with global warming approaching a possible end.

Evidence in support of this theory has come from pictures obtained from the US Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, which showed no spots on the sun, thus determining that sunspot activity has not resumed after hitting an 11-year low in March last year.

A sunspot is a region on the sun that is cooler than the rest and appears dark.

Some scientists believe a strong solar magnetic field, when there is plenty of sunspot activity, protects the earth from cosmic rays, cutting cloud formation, but that when the field is weak – during low sunspot activity – the rays can penetrate into the lower atmosphere and cloud cover increases, cooling the surface.

According to Australian astronaut and geophysicist Phil Chapman, this might have caused the world to cool quickly between January last year and January this year, by about 0.7C.

Read moreWorld might be heading towards Ice Age

UN official: Biodiversity loss could hurts medical research

The world risks losing new medical treatments for osteoporosis, cancer and other human ailments if it does not act quickly to conserve the planet’s biodiversity, a senior United Nations environmental official said Wednesday.

Earth’s organisms offer a variety of naturally made chemical compounds with which scientists could develop new medicines, but are under threat of extinction, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program.

“We must do something about what is happening to biodiversity,” Steiner told reporters. “We must help society understand how much we already depend on diversity of life to run our economies, our lives, but more importantly, what are we losing in terms of future potential.”

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Credit Crisis Turning into Credit Armageddon

While most investors are focused on the latest stock market rally, hidden from view is a monumental change that few recognize and fewer understand: Unprecedented amounts of old debts are coming due in America, and many are not getting refinanced.

Even worse, borrowers are going into default, lenders are taking huge losses, and outstanding loans are turning to dust.

The numbers are large; the government’s response is equally massive. So before you look at one more stock quote or any other news item, I think it behooves you to understand what this means and what to do about it …

New Evidence of A Credit Crack-Up

Until recently, economists have had only anecdotal evidence of credit troubles.

They knew that individual banks were taking losses. They knew that many banks were tightening their lending standards. And they realized that there were hiccups in the credit markets.

So they called it the “credit crunch” — essentially a slowdown in the pace of new credit growth.

But we didn’t buy that. Earlier this year, we warned that America’s credit woes involved much more than just a slowdown. We wrote that it was actually a credit crack-up — an outright contraction of credit the likes of which had never been witnessed in our lifetime.

Wall Street scoffed. No one had seen anything like this happen before, and almost everyone assumed that it would not happen now.

They were wrong.

Indeed, three new official reports are now telling us, point blank, that the credit crack-up is already beginning!

Read moreCredit Crisis Turning into Credit Armageddon

Environment head not liable for 9/11 assurances

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cannot be held liable for assurances she gave about air safety following the September 11 attacks in New York, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

Christine Todd Whitman led the agency at the time of the attacks and was sued by people who lived and worked in lower Manhattan who accused her of statements that “falsely represented … that the air in and around lower Manhattan was safe to breathe.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that Whitman was faced with conflicting information about dangers posed by the dust and that she had passed on assurances that came from the White House.

While the judges understood the concern that the agency’s performance was “flawed,” they said that “legal remedies are not always available for every instance of arguably deficient governmental performance.”

The court also noted that Congress has set aside a process to compensate victims of the attacks.

“A bare allegation that the head of a government agency, guided by a relevant White House office, knew that her statements were false and ‘knowingly’ issued false press releases is not plausible in the absence of some supporting facts,” the decision said.

Rescue workers and others who spent time near the disaster site have reported a variety of respiratory ailments that they believe came from breathing the ash and dust caused by the collapse of the Twin Towers.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Daniel Trotta and David Storey)

Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:39pm EDT

Source: Reuters