USDA Cuts US Corn, Soy Estimates; Grain Mkts Up (2nd UPDATE)

(Updates with closing grain prices; additional analyst comments)

CHICAGO -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday cut its projections for 2008 U.S. corn and soybean production, keeping supplies of the commodities tight and helping lift grain prices.

The reduction in crop size, which was the result of poor growing weather in August, could be the start of a trend, especially because the crops were already lagging developmentally because of delayed planting and spring floods in parts of the Midwest, grain analysts warned.

The USDA estimates U.S. 2008 corn production at 12.072 billion bushels, down 216 million from the agency’s August estimate. The soybean crop is expected to come in at 2.934 billion bushels, down 39 million bushels from last month’s forecast. In both cases, the agency said, weather during August lowered the average yield for each crop, thereby lowering total production.

Read moreUSDA Cuts US Corn, Soy Estimates; Grain Mkts Up (2nd UPDATE)

Jury decides that threat of global warming justifies breaking the law

The threat of global warming is so great that campaigners were justified in causing more than £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station, a jury decided yesterday. In a verdict that will have shocked ministers and energy companies the jury at Maidstone Crown Court cleared six Greenpeace activists of criminal damage.

Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a “lawful excuse” to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change. The defence of “lawful excuse” under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire.

The not-guilty verdict, delivered after two days and greeted with cheers in the courtroom, raises the stakes for the most pressing issue on Britain’s green agenda and could encourage further direct action.

Read moreJury decides that threat of global warming justifies breaking the law

Two strong Earthquakes hit Japan and Indonesia, but no tsunami

Two strong off shore earthquakes have struck Asia, triggering tsunami alerts and evacuations in coastal towns.

Separate earthquakes hit off the coasts of northern Japan and Indonesia, but neither ultimately produced damaging waves and there were no reports of damage or casualties.

The most powerful tremor, with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0, hit off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan at a depth of 12 miles at 9.21am local time.

Read moreTwo strong Earthquakes hit Japan and Indonesia, but no tsunami

More than 1m people at risk as hurricane Ike heads towards Texas

America’s largest refinery and Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre could be at risk of damage


A sign in Port Aransas, Texas. Photograph: Eric Gay

More than a million people in Texas have been warned they should leave their homes as hurricane Ike heads across the Gulf of Mexico towards the Texan coast, home to America’s largest concentration of refineries and chemical plants.

Read moreMore than 1m people at risk as hurricane Ike heads towards Texas

Thousands in Texas Flee Hurricane Ike

Tens of thousands of people fled coastal areas of Texas on Wednesday after Hurricane Ike spun off Cuba, roared into the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward the state with growing strength.

After pummeling Haiti, Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean, Ike refueled in the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward landfall near Corpus Christi, where it is expected to hit early Saturday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds exceeding speeds of 131 miles per hour.

Read moreThousands in Texas Flee Hurricane Ike

Britain is facing its worst harvest for at least 40 years

Britain is facing its worst harvest for at least 40 years as 30 per cent of the country’s grain lies in waterlogged or sodden ground. Hilary Benn, the Rural Affairs Secretary, is expected to give the go-ahead today for farmers to salvage what is left of their crops by using heavy machinery on wet fields.

European Union rules ban farmers from using combine harvesters on wet land to protect soil quality. Those who flout the ban can be prosecuted. The exemption is expected to last for about three weeks.

Read moreBritain is facing its worst harvest for at least 40 years

Ike roars over Cuba; 900,000 evacuated

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) — Hurricane Ike tore across Cuba with 100-mph winds Monday, sending 50-foot waves crashing over buildings and forcing the evacuation of 900,000 people.

Fallen bricks crushed a van Monday in Camaguey, Cuba, as Hurricane Ike struck the island.
Fallen bricks crushed a van Monday in Camaguey, Cuba, as Hurricane Ike struck the island.

At 2 p.m., Ike’s eye had moved back over water off Cuba’s southern coast. Ike was a Category 2 hurricane, with steady 100-mph (160-kph) winds and higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

Ike’s eye is expected to move back over Cuba on Tuesday, then move into the Gulf of Mexico and grow again in intensity.

Read moreIke roars over Cuba; 900,000 evacuated

Ike begins to hit Bahamas, heads toward Cuba

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — Hurricane Ike moved past the southern Bahamas on Sunday, carrying high winds and heavy rain as the Category 4 storm surged forward on a track that could take it toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Obenson Etienne walks to his house Sunday in Providenciales, one of the isles in the Turks and Caicos.
Obenson Etienne walks to his house Sunday in Providenciales, one of the isles in the Turks and Caicos.

The possibility prompted state and local officials in Florida and Louisiana to prepare for what may be the third major storm to affect the Gulf Coast in less than a month.

“Let’s hope it’s all a false alarm,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Sunday as he pre-emptively issued a state of emergency. His state is still recovering from Hurricane Gustav; more than 370,000 people there are still without power, nearly a week after Gustav made landfall, he said.

“There continues to be much uncertainty about the predicted track,” he said of Ike.

On Sunday, President Bush declared a state of emergency in Florida. The hurricane’s outer bands could start affecting the Florida Keys by Monday afternoon.

Read moreIke begins to hit Bahamas, heads toward Cuba

Hanna death toll rises to 500 as storm nears hurricane status

Tropical storm Hanna is closing in on North and South Carolina with receding flood waters in Haiti revealing the corpses of nearly 500 victims of the deadly weather system.


Hurricane Hanna as it nears the US coast Photo: AP

Hanna, the eighth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, closed in on the US east coast on the verge of hurricane strength after leaving “catastrophic” conditions in Haiti, which it battered with strong winds and torrential rain for several days.

Read moreHanna death toll rises to 500 as storm nears hurricane status