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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, has tentatively signed off on the budget deal being negotiated with top Republicans by the White House.. moving Congress closer to taking up a measure that could pass both the House and Senate with bipartisan support and be signed by President Obama, averting a fiscal calamity.. A fragile compromise agreement, reached by a handful of senior negotiators during late-night talks at the White House, must now be returned to the turbulent US Congress for approval before it can be enacted..
Democrats warned that the scale of the concessions granted by the White House meant that some liberal Congressmen were likely to join colleagues on the conservative wing of the Republican Party in voting to block the deal, which must be passed before the federal government runs out of money at 11.59pm tomorrow night..
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the two sides were “really, really close” to a deal after months of partisan fighting..
A deal contemplated in talks that McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden were negotiating, the federal debt limit would rise in two stages by at least $2.2-trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections..
Big cuts in government spending would be phased in over a decade..
Thousands of programs.. the Park Service.. Internal Revenue Service and Labor Department accounts among them.. could be trimmed to levels last seen years ago..
Without legislation in place by Tuesday, the Treasury will not be able to pay all its bills, raising the threat of a default that administration officials say could inflict catastrophic damage on the economy..
If approved, though, a compromise would presumably preserve America's sterling credit rating, reassure investors in financial markets across the globe and possibly reverse the losses that spread across Wall Street in recent days as the threat of a default grew..
Meanwhile.. Barack's top ally in the Senate has signed on to a long-delayed agreement to raise the government's borrowing cap and cut spending.. subject to approval by his fellow Senate Democrats..

Thailand's new parliament is to officially open on Monday, faced with the daunting challenge of bringing stability to the kingdom after five years of political turmoil..
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the opening ceremony in the capital Bangkok in late afternoon, the palace has said, allowing the 500-seat lower house chamber to set to work later in the week..
Within days, MPs are expected to vote in the country's first female prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra of the Puea Thai party, which on July 3 won a crushing electoral victory to take power from the pro-establishment Democrats..
Yingluck will take to the helm almost five years after her brother, the deeply divisive Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as premier in a military coup. He now lives abroad to escape a jail term for corruption..

Saturday, July 30, 2011

t's been a brutal week on Wall Street.. investors lost hundreds of billions of dollars as the markets lost ground every day.. pressure is intense to produce an accord on a borrowing ceiling before the opening bell on Monday..
The Democrat-controlled US Senate is seeking a vote on its plan to raise the nation's $14.3trillion (£8.7trillion) debt limit, which could determine whether a deal to avoid government default is possible..
Senate leaders want a prompt vote so the plan can be passed on Sunday..
The debate comes a day after the Senate rejected a rival Republican bill passed in the GOP controlled House of Representatives..
Barack backs Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's proposal, which would cut $2.2tn from deficits and raise the debt ceiling by $2.7trillion..
The Senate plan calls to raising the debt ceiling until after the 2012 elections.. but Republicans have sought a plan which raises the ceiling for just a few months..
Perhaps the best hope to avoid default is for the Senate to pass an amended bill tomorrow which can be put to the House on Monday, ahead of the deadline..
Democrat leaders in the Senate are said to be seeking agreement with Republicans to avoid procedural obstacles which could delay the Senate vote until Monday..
Reid accused the Republicans of trying to filibuster.. or delay.. proceedings..
"Unless there is a compromise, or they accept my bill, we're heading for economic disaster," according to Reid..
Now.. this has been tempered by figures released yesterday.. US economic growth is much weaker than first thought according to government analysts..
The economy grew at an annualised rate of 1.3% in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said.. Economists had forecast growth of 1.8%..
And in a surprise move, first-quarter growth was revised down sharply from 1.9% to 0.4%..
This evidence of economic weakness increases the pressure on the government as it attempts to increase its borrowing limit..
And the word from those who are veterans of this type of political wrangling have a clear message for the man on the street..
'This time, be afraid. Be very afraid.'..
The seemingly unbridgeable impasse between the two parties as the deadline for raising the nation’s debt limit approaches has Tom Daschle losing sleep, as he never did when he was a Senate Democratic leader in the mid-1990s and Congressional Republicans forced government shutdowns rather than compromise on spending cuts..
“That was nothing compared to this. That was a shutdown of the government.. this could be.. in reality.. a shutdown of the entire economy.. You can’t be too hyperbolic about the ramifications of all this.”
Democrats and Republicans with legislative experience agree that even if both sides decided today to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling and to reduce future annual deficits.. it would be extremely difficult for the compromise measure to wend its way through Congress before Tuesday’s deadline, given Congressional legislative procedures..
Any possibility of avoiding an economy-shaking default seemed to rest on hopes of a so-far nonexistent compromise in the Senate.. between the majority leader Harry Reid..A Democrat representing Nevada, and the Republican minority leader.. Senator Mitch McConnell representing Kentucky.. that could pass by Tuesday and then be sent to the House..
That would force Speaker John Boehner to decide at the 11th hour whether to hold a House vote on a bill that would not get many Republican votes, forcing him to rely on Democrats and perhaps further weaken his leadership, or to risk blame for an economic crisis..
And yet another factor is the reaction of analysis groups the likes of Standards and Poors and Moodys come Monday morning.. If the US sees it's credit rating fall below triple-A.. the long term effects on borrowing both by the government and the private sector could be exceedingly damaging.. Tom Davis, a former House Republican leader from Virginia commented “The stakes are much higher here. If interest rates start spiking up, it’s going to cost us a lot more than anything you could save. They’re playing brinkmanship with our credit rating. That’s not very smart.”
Typical American understatement..
Barack’s position in the battle over the debt limit was strengthened by chaos among Republicans in Congress.. but slack growth.. tumbling markets..and a weakening dollar suggest that he may be losing the longer-term economic struggle on which his chances of re-election depend..
On Capitol Hill, the normal business of legislation has been eclipsed by raucous posturing.. Yesterday, farce gave way to desperation as Republicans in the House of Representatives gave ground to the Tea Party on a Debt Bill that they already knew was doomed in the Senate..
Time for Americans to take a close look at those they've elected.. and for a voice to be heard from the man on the street..

It's a human reflex, like breathing or sobbing..
As dust from the bombed buildings still clogged the air and paramedics searched for survivors of the twin massacres in Oslo and the nearby island of Utoya, Norwegians and the wider world began trying to make sense of the senseless..
An early template had to be discarded after the arrest of Anders Behring Breivik.. The horror couldn't be pinned on the familiar lunacy of Islamic jihadism..
So another narrative began to emerge, of a rarer form of madness.. These had been the actions of a psychopath, a lone wolf..
And yet this lacks credibility as well..
Leading members of the European far right have been quick to disassociate themselves from Breivik and to reinforce the idea that he was driven not by ideology but insanity..
"The manifesto of the perpetrator makes clear that this is the work of a madman. That the struggle against Islamization is misused by a psychopath is disgusting and a slap in the face of the global anti-Islamic movement," wrote Geert Wilders.. Chairman of the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV).. in a statement published on his party's website..
Founded in 2005, the PVV has swelled to the third largest party in the Dutch parliament on a platform calling for a halt to immigration from non-Western countries..
This, in itself, regardless of any disclaimers made by others who share some of the core ideals of Breivik.. is indicative of a growing sentiment of anti-Islamic thought..
"Neither the PVV nor I are responsible for a lone idiot who violently distorted the freedom-loving, anti-Islamization ideals, no matter how much some people would like that.."..
Yet, it seems there is a significant number of Eurozone members who are fed up with sitting back, and listening as radical Imams rail against the West, and call for the formation of a 'worldwide Caliphate under Sha'ria Law..'
The unfortunate truth of the matter is, that while the Oslo killings have been condemned by all right across the political spectrum.. there are those who would fervently wish for a curb on the numbers emmigrating from the Middle East..
A dangerous situation.. highlighted by the actions of a madman..

Friday, July 29, 2011

Seems the GOP and the Democrats love dicing with death.. there will be a vote tomorrow in both Houses on the revised borrowing limits.. and should Barack fail to get some kind of plan in place, the US will default next Monday on it's debt load..
The devalued dollar is already holding up world markets.. as the Greenback falls so does confidence in the United States..
This is the only story that has any real impact at the moment.. Until we know that Obama's got to play with, the whole game stands still..

And as of late this afternoon, there appears to be no change in the hard-line stances taken by both the GOP and the Democrats.. No new vote has been called in either House as yet, and to complicate the matter, there's dissension in the ranks of the Republicans..
The Dow has fallen for the fifth day running, as slack-jawed Americans watch as their elected representatives play party politics with the country's future..
The default date is the 2d of next month, and while there are those who're saying this is just another crisis that will be averted at the last moment.. it's not completely sure what the Republican Tea Party will do here.. They've disregarded entirely the plan put forth by John Boehner, the leader of the Republican House of Representatives, with the hard-liners looking for gods know what in the way of concessions from Barack and his boys..
Time is running out though.. and if the US is downgraded by Moody's, Standard and Poors, et al.. their Treasury Bonds will plummet along with the country's AAA credit rating..
Hard to imagine what's going through the heads of those who're standing in the way of a compromise deal.. It's not just the US that will slip into an inflationary spiral should a deal not be reached.. but the world itself would be hit by an American default..
One would think there have to be some economists on both sides who see the consequences of devaluation.. and who care more about the long run than short-term advantages bought at the expense of American credibility..
And while Barack can say he's doing the best he can with an inherited situation.. he's only echoing the words of all the Western governments..
The problem remains, and a solution must be settled on..
More on this to come, as hopefully while the day progresses in the US.. legislators come to their senses and settle down with partisan politics set aside, and a viable solution is hammered out..

And as this day has progressed, it appears things might be happening in the US..
The House of Representatives has passed a Republican bill proposed by Speaker John Boehner to increase the nation's debt ceiling..
Boehner's plan passed the House by a vote of 218-210, with 22 Republicans and every Democrat voting against..
It includes $900bn of spending cuts and is not expected to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate in its current form..but it is a beginning..
Legislators will be working through the weekend to try and find a formula for fiscal regeneration.. Boehner appeared heated in front of his colleagues in the House.. slamming his fist on a podium on last evening and calling for lawmakers to pass his proposal..
His plan calls for a vote on an amendment to the US constitution.. a move Democrats say is certain to be rejected by the Senate..
Boehner said Republicans had tried their "level best" to reach a deal..
A vote on the Republican plan was originally set for Thursday but was rescheduled for Friday evening after Mr Boehner suspected the proposal lacked support within his own party..
The US government will start running out of money to pay all its bills unless a $14.3tn (£8.79tn) borrowing limit is increased by Tuesday..
Democrats have said the Republican bill as passed would cause immeasurable damage to the economy.. that it would force Congress to vote on another extension of the debt ceiling early in 2012, a time when presidential election campaigns will be in full swing..
Boehner's plan would reduce spending by about $900bn and raise the debt limit by nearly the same amount..
Democrats have vowed to reject the Republican bill the moment it hits the floor of the Senate..
And while this compromise may make some American voters think 'at least the Republicans are trying here..', it's not the long-term solution the Democrats want to take into the next election campaign..
Meanwhile.. roll on Tuesday..

Just a brief note here..the U.S. debt ceiling stalemate and the worsening Eurozone debt crisis have failed to trigger the relentless demand for gold seen during the global financial turmoil of two to three years ago. Today, it hit a fresh all-time high of $US1,632.16 per troy ounce.. But the momentum is flagging..
“The panic buying of previous sovereign debt crises is missing,” says Tom Kendall, precious metal analyst at Credit Suisse in London, echoing a sentiment widely shared within the gold industry. “Demand has been steady, but is not nearly as big as in the spring of 2010 or in early 2009, when debt concerns triggered panic buying.”
The precious metals market experienced a surge in demand during the worst of the global financial crisis, between January and April 2009 when stock markets hit their crisis lows, and again between April and July 2010 when Greece had to be rescued..
Mind you, should the US default.. the demand for the metal could go through the roof again.. and with it already being at a ridiculously high level.. it's hard to say how high that demand will get..

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bad news to be released later today by the Treasury..
Our growth rate figures have slowed.. with some analysts predicting a contraction.. following growth of 0.5% in the first quarter..
Chancellor George Osborne has said that it is important for the government to stick to its economic plan "in a world of very great uncertainty"..
"We have brought stability to the British economy, we have brought interest rates down and we are creating private sector jobs.. that is all evidence that our economic plan is working and on track," he told a press conference..
Analysts are warning one-off factors such as April's extra bank holiday for the royal wedding and the effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March could have affected growth..
Even if the figure for the second quarter of 2011 is negative, it will still not mean a return to recession or the so-called double-dip.. at least that's what we're being told by some Pollyannas wearing rose-tinted glasses..
A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and there would have been a positive quarter in-between the two negative ones..
"The UK economy might as well still be in recession, even if technically it isn't," said Nick Pearce, director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)..
And this is the idiotic non-information we're being fed these days..
People don't expect eminent analysts, to speak in double-talk, and push misinformation..
They expect.. they deserve the truth..
We're hip deep in trouble, and it will be decades before we see a light at the end of the tunnel..

And it's worse in the US..
Senate Democrats and House Republicans have unveiled competing plans to cut the US budget deficit and raise its debt limit to avoid a default..
Despite weeks of negotiations, the two parties remain at odds over the size of spending cuts and tax increases..
Even the threat of a general depression, American politicians can't come to an agreement to save their economy..
Barack took to the airwaves yesterday evening.. trying to reassure an increasingly nervous population..
But it will take far more than promises.. smoke and mirrors..
Take all the trouble we're in here in Britain, and triple it.. That's about what the US man on the street is looking at..
Case in point.. More than 10,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.. are homeless or in programs aimed at keeping them off the streets.. this is a number that has doubled three times since 2006, according to figures released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the US..
The rise comes at a time when the total number of homeless veterans had declined from a peak of about 400,000 in 2004 to 135,000 today..
As of May, there were 10,476 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans either living on the streets, in temporary housing or receiving federal vouchers to help pay rent for an apartment..
About 13% are women.. says the VA...

More later..

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The sole difference between Oslo and Baghdad last Friday, was that there was no 'martyrdom'..
Norway today mourns 93 people killed in a shooting spree and car bombing by a Norwegian fundamentalist.. who saw his attacks as "atrocious, but necessary" to defeat liberal immigration policies and the spread of Islam..
In his first comment via a lawyer since his arrest.. 32 year old Anders Behring Breivik.. said he wanted to explain himself at a court hearing on Monday about extending his custody..
"He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary," Geir Lippestad, his lawyer.. said..
He said Breivik had admitted to Friday's shootings at a Labour party youth camp and the bombing that killed seven people in Oslo's government district a few hours earlier..
However, "he feels that what he has done does not deserve punishment," Lippestad told NRK public television..
"What he has said is that he wants a change in society and in his understanding, in his head, there must be a revolution."
Oslo's acting police chief Sveinung Sponheim confirmed to reporters that Breivik would be able to speak to the court. It was not clear whether the hearing would be closed or in public..
"He has admitted to the facts of both the bombing and the shooting, although he's not admitting criminal guilt," Sponheim said, adding that Breivik said he acted alone..
Breivik posted a 1,500-page anti-Islamic manifesto, written in English, on Friday, describing his violent philosophy and how he planned his onslaught and made explosives..
The killings would draw attention to the manifesto entitled "2083-A European Declaration of Independence.." Breivik wrote..
"Once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike," he added..
Now this all is of significant import..
Lets start briefly with the history of the Scandinavian countries.. There are more suicides in these countries, than anywhere else in the world.. Always have been..
This reflects an underlying lack of 'respect' for the 'right to life'..
That the first religious killing spree took place is Norway, is a factor that's been mentioned before.. and the fact the 'crusader', as this man sees himself, would be appalled at the thought of killing himself.. His case.. his cause.. his voice.. will now be heard..
Add to that the Calvinist strictures concerning the preservation of the faith, and it's not that much of a leap to see this backlash against the Islamic violence we've become saturated with..
Time for some Christian deaths.. for a Christian cause.. perpetrated by one who, for a short while, associated himself with a British Group calling themselves 'Knights Templar'.. no association with the quasi-Masonic Order.. but left that British group saying they were not 'committed enough' to violence..
The 'Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Jerusalem'..the Templar's.. were chartered originally, to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to and coming from Jerusalem.. They were the original 'warrior-monks'.. but too much has been written, both nonsense and disinformation, to go too far into their history..
Regardless.. Breivik sees himself as a man with a mission.. a true 'Crusader'..
Thanks to our gremial conditioning against violence in general, and our over-protective attitude regarding the 'sanctity of life'.. We rarely see atrocities the likes of that last Friday..
But.. there have always been those who have, for whatever reason, run amok..
And there always will be.

Something to watch closely here..
Vince Cable.. our Business Secretary..says there should be "clear" rules on how powerful media groups can be..
There should be market share limits and a "presumption against" media groups owning both newspapers and TV stations.. according to Vince.. This is the man who was responsible for media ownership rules until he was recorded saying he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch in December..
Following that undercover recording by the Daily Telegraph,Vince was stripped of his responsibility for overseeing Mr Murdoch's bid to take full control of broadcaster BSkyB.. that bid's been withdrawn in the wake of this phone tapping fiasco..
Cable said he accepted that Mr Murdoch had made "positive contributions" to the British media landscape.. but said plurality, diversity and choice were needed.. and had to come from wider ownership..
And all that requires are those capable of filling the shoes Vince is going to start emptying, if he dismantles Rupert's machine..
You can't just give a newspaper to an Editor In Chief, who, if he or she had talent, would already be working, and say "..there you go.. take a shot.." You can't fill reporters desks with typewriters.. computer screens these days.. and hire those who can't find work anywhere else, hoping they'll make a go of it..
Competition is the key to this media.. Those who can write, do.. Those who can't, find themselves working at Canadian Tire..
It's of great concern when the government begins to dip it's fingers into the rights of the Press..
Too easily can those in debt to the government for their existence through legislated diversification.. become mouthpieces for that government..
With all it's failures and flaws, journalism is as it always has been..
It's a stupid man who gets his picture of the world and that which turns it, by reading the pages of a single newspaper or magazine..
And even though it might if it could, abolish general stupidity.. Our legislators should keep completely clear of limiting the Media..
Stiffen the Laws and increase the fines for those who blatantly disregard either the truth or who manufacture their own, certainly..
But change not a jot or tittle of the freedom this media enjoys..

Friday, July 22, 2011

A massive bomb blast has hit government buildings in the Norwegian capital Oslo this afternoon.. killing at least seven people and injuring several others..
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg described the situation as "very serious"..
The bomb was followed by a fatal shooting incident near Oslo at a youth meeting of the Labour Party, which Mr Stoltenberg leads..
Norwegian media said at least four people were killed when a man opened fire indiscriminately..
Police said the suspected gunman had been arrested..
People across Oslo and Norway itself were in shock..
Stoltenberg announced .."We have never had a terrorist attack like this in Norway.. if that's what it is.. but of course this has been a great fear for all Norwegians when they have seen what has been happening around the world.".
The United States has condemned the "despicable acts of violence" in Oslo, while the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said he was "deeply shocked" by "these acts of cowardice for which there is no justification"..

An update on this story..
The Senate on Friday rejected a House plan to substantially cut government spending and raise the federal debt limit contingent on a balanced budget proposal.. leaving Congress up in the air about how to resolve its impasse over the federal debt ceiling, and avoid a government default..
Senators voted 51 to 46 along party lines to set aside the measure, known as the “cut, cap and balance” bill.. which was sent to the Senate by the House this week and seen by conservative House members as their preferred option for increasing the debt ceiling.. For many House Republicans, the legislation was their best offer in the continuing standoff with Barack and Congressional Democrats..
Barack and the Republican House speaker.. John A. Boehner.. once again struggled against resistance from their respective parties yesterday.. as they tried to shape a sweeping deficit-reduction agreement that could avert a government default in less than two weeks..
And new hope of one ran instantly into old resistance.. from Republicans opposed to higher taxes.. and Democrats loath to cut benefit programs..
While talks on a major, long-term agreement continued, a fresh, shorter-term backup plan appeared to be gaining momentum. Under discussion among some House Republicans, that proposal would cut spending by $1 trillion or slightly more immediately and raise the debt limit by a similar amount.. enough to postpone a final reckoning until early in 2012..
But then, with an election looming later that year.. all this will have to start again, with Democrats fully understanding their candidate could stand or fall on an economic recovery of some substance..
Both sides maneuvered for political advantage and for leverage in negotiations about which little was publicly known.."At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to act," said Boehner of Republican lawmakers..
Across the Capitol, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, blamed some of the same Republicans.. "Tea Party Extremists," he called them — of blocking a deal..
The sometimes-conflicting information underscored the frenzied final days before a threatened default, when the Treasury would no longer be able to pay all its bills in full and the economy could go into a tailspin as interest rates spiked..
Some Democrats confided they were worried Obama would sign off on an agreement that cuts benefit programs without raising tax revenue.. and they peppered Budget Director Jack a closed-door meeting in the Senate.. with questions about the high-level negotiations..
Democratic officials familiar with Obama's talks with Republicans said that while some cuts could be agreed upon and even enacted relatively quickly, there were major differences on taxes and savings from benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security..
As an example, there is no agreement on how much additional revenue would be raised through an expected overhaul of the tax code, or how to require Congress to enact cuts to benefit programs..
Now recall.. these are issues which have not needed to be raised for decades.. since Hoover was voted out of office by FDR..
Barack's going to have to come up with something of his own.. a new 'New Deal'.. because considering the other problems facing the country, and if the Republicans can come up with their own 'Hughie Long' agenda..
Barack will find himself hog-tied by the economy.. unemployment.. and the real possibility of spiralling interest rates..

European markets have reacted favourably to the news Greece is not yet going under..
But the more details of this financial bailout that appear, the worse, and in fact, how blatantly false the deal is..
UK, French and German markets gained more than 0.5% in early trading, while Japan's Nikkei closed up 1.2%. The Euro also rose further against the $Am.. Eurozone leaders pulled the single currency back from the brink of disaster last night as they agreed a second plan to bail out Greece and ambitious proposals to overhaul the embattled Euro area..
This deal amounts to this..
109bn euros in new loans to Greece..
Various options to extend Greece's repayment terms and reduce the amount it repays on existing loans..
Voluntary private sector participation in these options, so that banks share taxpayers' burden..
Doubling the length of repayment terms for the Irish Republic and Portugal, both of which have received financial assistance previously..
Additional powers granted to the 'European Financial Stability Facility' to buy up bonds and to make credit available to countries such as Spain and Italy that are not at immediate risk of insolvency..
Now, todays' market rally followed as the 17 leaders hammered out an agreement that economists said marked a step forward in Eurozone co-ordination and gave comfort to European banks.. but still fell far short of full economic integration..
After months of dithering, a second huge rescue deal was agreed for Greece of €109 billion.. £95 billion.. including €37 billion from the private sector and a significant lowering of interest rates..
Christine Lagarde, the IMF Managing Director, described the decision at the emergency summit to support a country in difficulty until it could return to the markets to raise finance.. as “game-changing”.. She was implying, that to prevent such catastrophic economic flatlines such as pushed Greece to a state close to insolvency.. that we're now one step closer to a Euro Bank..
The powers of the Euro’s bailout fund were also enhanced in a move hailed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy .. who emphasized private lenders would contribute a total of 135bn euros of financing to Greece..
This is expected to provide some 50bn euros of debt relief..
Three of the four options offered to lenders to swap or relend existing debts would extend Greece's repayment terms by 30 years, while the fourth would do so by 15 years..
They all offer a much lower interest rate than Greece's current 15%-25% cost of borrowing in financial markets..
Sarkozy of France sees this as a key step towards the creation of an EU treasury in the form of a “European monetary fund”..
He said: “By the end of the summer, Angela and I will be making joint proposals on economic government in the Eurozone.. Our ambition is to seize the Greek crisis to make a quantum leap in Eurozone Government.. We have done something historic. There is no European monetary fund yet.. but nearly.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "We have sent a clear signal to the markets by showing our determination to stem the crisis and turn the tide in Greece, thereby securing the future of the savings, pensions and jobs of our citizens all over Europe".
Be Afraid.. be very afraid..

Mere days after Energy Ministers met in Alberta in Canada to lay the foundations for a national energy strategy.. an accord is already running into roadblocks..
Quebec is pledging its opposition to a national plan.. there's no surprise there.. while Ontario and Alberta openly bicker about endorsing the oil sands as a sustainable supplier of energy..
Quebec’s defiance is likely to slow momentum that has been building over the past few years, with corporate and politic leaders increasingly making the case for a co-ordinated national effort on energy.. A national approach is needed.. according to supporters.. to streamline regulations.. pursue Asian oil and gas exports.. and support energy research..
Federal, provincial and territorial energy ministers met in Kananaskis, Alberta this week to begin work on what they'd like to see as a unified national energy plan.. The goal of those meetings, Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert said, was to “set in place some general principles, goals and objectives that will ultimately lead us to a National Energy Strategy..”.
But it has not taken long for cracks to appear in that nascent effort..
The day an initial “action plan” was released, Ontario said it did not support language describing the “responsible and sustainable” development of the oil sands..
And now Quebec is saying it wants no part of such a plan..
“Quebec doesn’t want a federal energy strategy because first of all, energy is a provincial competence,” said Marie-France Boulay, director of communications for Nathalie Normandeau, Quebec’s Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife..
The province will support some collaboration on energy, but does “not want a coast to coast” plan, Ms. Boulay said in an e-mail, pointing out that Quebec already has its own strategy emphasizing hydro, wind and energy efficiency..
In fact, Quebec as a Province only has two main sources of export income.. one being lumber, the other hydroelectricity.. Quebec supplies a large part of the Eastern Seaboard of the States with their power, and any move by a Federal initiative that could reduce Quebec's income, would be met with defiance..
History has shown that even the most ambitious efforts at creating a unified national voice often founder among regional differences in Canada. And if Quebec is only prepared to support some collaboration, other political leaders may have to scale back their expectations to something less ambitious than a national strategy, warned Jack Mintz, executive director of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy..
“It’s going to be very hard to have a single strategy that applies to the whole country because the provinces do have certain of their own responsibilities.. and individually they may want to do some things that are different..” he said..
The Canadian penchant for understatement is at much the same level of the English and Scots who formed the country, it would seem..

Still in Canada here.. New statistics show the national crime rate is continuing its 20-year decline.. reaching levels not seen since 1973.. even as the Federal Conservative Government prepares legislation that would put more Canadians behind bars for longer periods of time..
It is a juxtaposition of politics and reality that has prompted critics to accuse the government of ignoring facts at taxpayers’ expense as it pursues a criminal-justice agenda focused on punishment, rather than prevention..
Statistics Canada released it’s annual survey of police-reported crime on Tuesday. It shows the overall volume of criminal incidents fell by 5 per cent between 2009 and 2010, and the relative severity of the crimes took a similar dive..
Homicides, attempted murders, serious assaults and robberies were all down last year from the year before. Young people were accused of committing fewer offences. Even property crime was reported less frequently with reductions in both break-ins and car thefts..
“These are police-reported statistics so they don’t necessarily reflect all the type of crime that’s taking place in society..” said Steve Sullivan, Executive Director of Ottawa Victims Services, and former Federal Ombudsman for 'victims of crime'..
“However, if the government is telling taxpayers it is going to spend millions and billions of dollars on getting tough on crime, I think the government at least has to have some evidence that they are addressing a real problem. And neither these statistics nor the other surveys that we have would suggest that we are in some kind of crime wave..”
In fact, the figures would indicate the exact opposite..
It's excellent news that crime is at it's lowest levels since the 70's in Canada.. but touting a program which would spend billions on addressing crime, would appear to any casual observer, to be a waste of money..
The system's not broken.. why fix it..?

A seismic event occurred on the Senate Floor this past Monday night.. By an 80-13 vote, the Senate confirmed the appointment of J. Paul Oetken to serve as a Federal Judge for the U.S. District, for the Southern District of New York, one of the most influential benches in the nation with primary judicial oversight over Wall Street..
The action was seismic not because an Obama appointee actually made it through the confirmation process relatively quickly.. that would amount simply to a rarity..
It was seismic not because the appointee garnered the unanimous support of Democrats despite the appointee’s very pro-business credentials as the head litigator at Cablevision.. a much-maligned cable, entertainment, and sports behemoth..
The Senate’s action was seismic because the Senate confirmed, for the first time, an openly gay man to serve on the federal bench. There already is an “acknowledged” lesbian on the federal bench, but her sexuality was a carefully avoided issue when she was confirmed during the Clinton Administration..
There were no floor objections, no apocalyptic warnings of the homosexual agenda, and perhaps most surprisingly, no accompanying fundraising drive by social conservatives to cash in on what has been lucrative red meat in the past..
Nobody seemed to care that the dude likes to bed down with the guy Oetken introduced as his partner to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his March confirmation hearings..
That in itself is pretty seismic..

India's had a wake up call from the next monsoon season..
Met office sources identified a low-pressure zone across Gangetic West Bengal as the trigger for the heavy showers predicted in the next 24 hours.. Weathermen said the monsoon trough, which had shifted towards the south.. keeping Jharkhand away from rain for more than a week, had been restored..
So far, areas normally affected by the rains have had just about the average for this time of year.. but 'just about' suggests there has been close to a meter more of rain in some areas..
Not what India needs at this point.. shifting monsoon patterns upon which the country depends upon for it's agriculture..

Pakistan's exiled former President Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday that "absolute negligence and not complicity" was behind his country's Osama bin Laden fiasco and Washington and Islamabad must put that episode behind them and rebuild trust..
"We must convince the world and the United States that the issue of Osama bin Laden was not complicity..but negligence of a very monumental order," he said in a speech in Washington.. He might as well have said 'This whole debacle was due to the stupidity of some Pakistani security sources.. Sorry..'
U.S. special forces' killing of the al Qaeda leader in Pakistan on May 2 soured relations between the two countries over U.S. suspicion Pakistan knew he was living in a town not far from the Pakistani capital for about five years..
"Two years of that five years was during my time. I confidently and surely say that there was not complicity because I am very sure of one thing: that I didn't know, whether one believes it or not," said Musharraf..
Believe it or not...? Flip a coin, and both sides will likely turn up heads..

A brief notice of what's taken place in a Canadian Court..
The Federal Court of Canada cleared the way on Thursday for the extradition of China's most wanted man, dismissing concerns that he could be tortured or executed back home..
Judge Michel Shore refused a request to stay the deportation of Lai Changxing.. accused by Beijing of running a multibillion-dollar smuggling operation in China in the 1990s..
Lai fled to Canada with his family in 1999 and claimed refugee status, saying the allegations against him were politically motivated. Canada rejected his refugee claim, and after years of legal wrangling government lawyer Helen Park said on Thursday he could be sent back early as Saturday..
China says Lai bribed Chinese officials to avoid paying taxes and duties on everything from fuel to cigarettes that were shipped into China's southeastern Fujian province..
One must wonder what the 'quid pro quo' will amount to.. Chinese holdings on Canada's West Coast run the gamut from real estate, to logging companies..
Odds are Lai will face a bullet once back in China..

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It was only a matter of time..
Serbia arrested the last major war crimes suspect from the 1990s Yugoslav conflicts on today, closing what its president called a "burdensome" page in the country's history .. while incidentally boosting its hopes of joining the European Union..
Goran Hadzic, a Croatian Serb wartime leader indicted for crimes against humanity during the 1991-95 Croatian war.. was seized by Serb forces in the Fruska Gora National Park region north of Belgrade..
The arrest of the 52-year-old is key for the European union future of Serbia because it removes the shadow of war crimes that has plagued Belgrade's bid for membership..
"I will be looking our European counterparts in the eye and seeing whether they make good on what they have promised.." Serbian President Boris Tadic told reporters..
Again, nothing really unexpected here..

Obama summoned top Democratic lawmakers back to the White House today to resume negotiations on averting a potentially crippling government default.. as attention focused on a new bipartisan budget plan emerging in the Senate..
The White House also indicated Obama would be willing to sign a short-term debt limit increase.. an option he's turned away from up to this point long as it's seen to be a temporary stop-gap measure to allow time for a much broader, long term plan to be worked out.. something to at least keep the dogs at bay..
Barack's desperate to get something in the works, which will give him something solid to campaign on in a years time.. something that obviously couldn't be finished by the August 2d deadline to increase the government's borrowing limit.. but could offer a framework for the future..
The announcement Tuesday of a possible deal by the Senate "Gang of Six" was seized on by Obama as a possible breakthrough. Now the job ahead for the President, if he is to build momentum behind the plan, includes overcoming GOP opposition to tax hikes involved and selling members of his own party on the cuts to entitlement programs that it embraces..
"We are in the 11th hour," said White House press secretary Jay Carney, repeating what Obama had said Wednesday.. "We need to meet, talk, consult and narrow down in fairly short order what train we're riding into the station.."
Carney also indicated that the President would be willing to support a short-term extension as a stop-gap measure...
Carney said Obama would not support a short-term extension, "absent an agreement on a larger deal..
"If both sides agree on something significant we will support the measures necessary to finalize the details," Carney said..
And all going well, that's basically the deal done..

Just doesn't have quite the right ring to it.. But give the journalists who specialise in such keywords another few days..
Regardless of what you call it.. has battered Rupert Murdoch's media empire, rocked Scotland Yard to its foundations and dominated the UK news agenda for weeks.. Today.. the scandal came knocking on the door of 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister Cameron attempted to extricate himself from the web of scandal that is threatening to seriously undermine his Premiership..
And what a picayune little clench of a scandal to do such damage..Cameron cut short a trip to Africa in order to rush back to Britain to deliver an emergency statement to Parliament and ready to offer the closest he has yet come to an apology for appointing Andy Coulson, the former editor of 'The News of the World' at the center of the phone hacking affair, as his Communications Chief in 2007.. and taking him into Downing Street after the election in 2010..
Coulson quit the job in January 2011 as the scandal and questions over his alleged role in it refused to die down despite his persistent denials he was aware of the practice..
A highly-unusual sitting of the House of Commons, which should have closed for legislators' Summer Break the day before, the Prime Minister faced an opposition Labour party which smells blood.
"With 20/20 hindsight and all that has followed," said Cameron, "I would not have offered [Coulson] the job and I expect he wouldn't have taken it. But you don't make decisions in hindsight you make them in the present. You live and you learn and, believe me, I have learnt." He added.. "Of course I regret, and I am extremely sorry, about the furore it has caused..".
For two weeks Opposition Party Leader Ed Miliband has made as much hay as can possibly be made while this political sun shines.. boosting his own wobbling leadership by focusing on the scandal.. and demanding action and answers from the government..
One of his key political demands.. beyond calls for judicial inquiries and a media and police clean-up.. has been for Cameron to confess to a "catastrophic error of judgement" in appointing Coulson, and ignoring a series of warnings from colleagues and advisers over the appointment..
This 'Mea Culpa.. Mea Maxima Culpa' came close today..
"If it was found Coulson had lied about his ignorance of hacking.." said Cameron.. "that would be a moment for a profound apology and in that event I can tell you I will not fall short."
Coulson was one of several individuals arrested by the police over recent days and questioned over the affair..
What an immense tempest in a tiny teacup..

An amazing technology being used these days in China.. the micro societies which have sprung up dealing with China's waste..
In fact.. China's capital has grown so huge that it now has seven peripheral roads.. It is also becoming encircled by garbage..
This is both a poignant metaphor and serious dilemma..
Wang Jiuliang, a photographer, was the first to expose the city's little-known Seventh Ring Zone garbage dumps in his documentary video and photos entitled 'Besieged by Garbage..'
Wang illustrates the scope of the problem by marking the 400 sites in yellow on a Google map, forming a dense ring, effectively encircling Beijing.. The image is shocking, of a city besieged..
Wang has visited all 400 refuse heaps.. "When you walk around these landfills, you can hear the sound of money flowing everywhere.. Behind each dumping site lies interests," he says, his voice charged with emotion.. one of these dumping grounds near Xiaozhangwan village, 3km south of Beijing's Sixth Ring Road..
Scavengers were separating cloth, metal and plastic out of the garbage, then putting the remaining waste into a more distant pit..
According to villagers, the pit with an area of about 300 acres, was formerly a sandpit around 6 to 7m deep. It has been contracted to private individuals since 2009, and is now almost completely full. A thin layer of earth covers the pit. Above it are lines of shanties for those who work on the site..
The illegal dump is not within Beijing's sanitary-monitoring system..
Contractors have simply paid the village to operate their garbage-recycling business..
Heading west from Xiaozhangwan village for another 2km.. to find, sheltered behind a forest, another bigger refuse dump housing much of the same activity..
One of the subcontractors, from Xinyang in Henan province, said he moved here from another dump last year, and that most of the people working here were his compatriots from Xinyang.. "The operators are all local people. They rent the pits from their village and then subcontract them to us.." .
Wang encountered serious trouble while making his documentary.. Some people chased him with knives or dogs. Others would warn him.. "You are looking for trouble..".
He was once encircled by a dozen young men who threatened to break his camera. Finally they let him go after deleting the images he had taken..
After the release of his documentary, Wang revisited the dumping sites he had seen. Fifty percent of them had been dealt with by the city government. Some had been cleaned up, only for people to restart the dumping. Thirty percent of them are not yet dealt with..
One has to wonder, how much of this, our garbage, is being recycled and resold to us in any number of ways..
It may well be, that to have one's Capital City surrounded by rubbish.. is unpalatable at say the least.. But the salient point is, that there are those working.. making money.. off the sorting and re treatment of this waste..
That micro-socieities have grown up around a world bounded by garbage, and recycling..
It also brings the immensity of China, and the numbers of people populating it, into focus.. That they have such a huge wordforce willing to do which to us would be 'odious', and that they have an internal market.. beyond the global.. to sell that which they re-claim..
There's an old Yorkshire saying.. "Where's there's muck, there's money"

Muammar could stay in Libya if he gives up power, France said today.. this signaling a new effort to find a diplomatic solution to a five-month-old war that has failed to oust the resilient leader..
The United States said Gaddafi must quit, but whether he remained in Libya after that would be up to the Libyan people..
"He needs to remove himself from power ... and then it's up to the Libyan people to decide.." White House spokesman Jay Carney said when asked if Washington shares France's view..
However, Gaddafi's Foreign Minister swiftly dismissed the French proposal, saying Gaddafi's departure after 41 years in power was not a matter for discussion..
Not yet, and not without the factor of his frozen assetts raised, and dealt with..
And to add for that, is the possibility of the eventual martyrdom of his youngest son in a move to re-establish his eldest in any political race..
An Old Arabic saying.."when you kill your enemy, kill his family.. otherwise his granchildren will be a threat.."
What will it possibly take for an economic leader, a national leader, to finally stand up and tell us the truth that's been staring us in the face for years now..
This world has changed, and the changing back, if at all ever fully possible.. will take decades..
The number of issues involving a plethora of Alpha personalities.. each looking for the advantage..
We play with Monopoly Money, rather than in firm stocks and commodities..
We speculate.. gamble.. use gilts for bargaining chips, and junk bonds to pull us down..
There's to be yet another meeting early this week between the Eurozone Economics Ministers.. in the hopes whatever this latest flimsy accord they may forge, and that hardly seems an appropriate word in this case.. can delay the inevitable..
There was such a gathering yesterday, and another slated for later this morning.... Angela Merkel told a news conference that there would not be anything as "spectacular" as a restructuring of Greek debt.. She has made it plain, that if any more German money goes into 'restructuring' Greece, it had better be worth the effort .. not only in the short run, but should reflect significant moves leading towards a 'positive' future..

The meeting will attempt to agree a second bail-out of Greece that battered country in a hope of calming financial markets and stop the cancer spreading..
What's the old adage.. 'getting the horses out before the barn burns..?
At the weekend Angela indicated that she may not attend the meeting unless there was a likelihood of a concrete deal on a second Greek rescue..
Germany has been at odds with the European Central Bank over its insistence that private investors in Greek Bonds share the pain of another rescue deal..
The ECB believes that forcing private investors to take losses on their loans is effectively a default by Greece on its debts.. which is a pretty accurate assessment.. Nearly everything that Eurozone leaders have done in response to the Euro Crisis has been done in the name of preventing contagion of epidemic proportions..
The main problem is, we have seen the enemy, and it is us..
Germany, Finland and the Netherlands are in the forefront of calls for private investors to share the burden rather than just leave it to the taxpayer..
Germany has been at odds with the European Central Bank over its insistence that private investors again, dig deep into pockets which are getting shallower and shallower..
And inevitably.. whether Eire, Portugal. Spain, Italy, Greece and all the others on the periphery stand or fall, it will be at the dissatisfaction of German, and French, voters.. all of whom will righteously claim "We did all we could"..
Now.. imagine Domenique Le Pen, in charge of a new French majority government..

The heat continues to be a problem in the States.. Remember, if they're not burning gigantic petrol engines, they're running industrialised air condition units..
From Texas to the Dakotas, and east to Illinois and Indiana, temperatures and humidity levels soared on Monday and were expected to remain high through at least the end of the week, by which time forecasters say the East Coast will get to share the misery..
Ahhh... NYC in 115 degree temperatures.. And it being one of the friendliest cities in the world, to boot... So very polite.. it's remarked upon..
Seventeen states issued heat watches, warnings or advisories on Monday, when the heat index easily surpassed 100 degrees in many places, including 126 in Newton, Iowa, and 119 in Madison, Minnesota..
Just to give an idea of what that could mean waiting a car.. caught in a rush hour tailback in a queue.. in that heat.. for say 30 minutes.. breathing a solid intake of exhaust fumes.. only to have your tires melt to the road..
Things were heating up on the East Coast on yesterday, and the National Weather Service said temperatures in New Jersey that were expected be in the lower 90s and What will it possibly take for an economic leader, a national leader, to finally stand up and tell us the truth that's been staring us in the face for years now..
This world has changed, and the changing back, it at all ever possible will take decades..
We play with Monopoly Money, rather than in firm stocks and commodities..
We speculate.. gamble.. use gilts for bargaining chips, and junk bonds to pull us down..
There's to be yet another meeting early this week between the Eurozone Economics Ministers.. in the hopes whatever this latest flimsy accord they may forge, and that hardly seems an appropriate word in this case.. can delay the inevitable..
There was such a gathering today.. This meeting today She told a news conference that there would not be anything as "spectacular" as a restructuring of Greek debt..
The meeting will attempt to agree a second bail-out of Greece in a hope of calming financial markets and stop contagion spreading..
What's the old adage.. 'getting the horses out before the barn burns..?
At the weekend Angela indicated that she may not attend the meeting unless there was a likelihood of a concrete deal on a second Greek rescue..
Germany has been at odds with the European Central Bank over its insistence that private investors in Greek Bonds share the pain of another rescue deal..
The ECB believes that forcing private investors to take losses on their loans is effectively a default by Greece on its debts.. which is a pretty accurate assessment.. Nearly everything that Eurozone leaders have done in response to the Euro Crisis has been done in the name of preventing contagion.. The main problem is, we have seen the enemy, and it is us..
Germany, Finland and the Netherlands are in the forefront of calls for private investors to share the burden rather than just leave it to the taxpayer..
Germany has been at odds with the European Central Bank over its insistence that private investors again, dig deep into pockets which are getting shallower and shallower..
And inevitably.. whether Eire, Portugal. Spain, Italy, Greece and all the others on the periphery stand or fall, it will be at the dissatisfaction of German, and French, voters..
Imagine Domenique Le Pen, in charge of a new French majority government..

The heat continues to be a problem in the States.. Remember, if they're not burning gigantic petrol engines, they're running industrialised air condition units..
From Texas to the Dakotas, and east to Illinois and Indiana, temperatures and humidity levels soared on Monday and were expected to remain high through at least the end of the week, by which time forecasters say the East Coast will get to share the misery.
Ahhh... NYC in 115 degree temperatures.. And it being one of the friendliest cities in the world, to boot...
Seventeen states issued heat watches, warnings or advisories on Monday, when the heat index easily surpassed 100 degrees in many places, including 126 in Newton, Iowa, and 119 in Madison, Minnesota..
Things were heating up on the East Coast on Tuesday, and the National Weather Service said temperatures in New Jersey that were expected be in the lower 90s and could reach 100 degrees by the end of the week...
Take note gentle reader, this is not normal.. and the Camper Countdown continues..

Still pushing for a last minute face saving economic miracle.. Obama today renewed his push for an ambitious deficit-reduction deal..
Hailing a bipartisan package.. put forward hours earlier by a group of six senators as a sign of progress.. and summoning Congressional leaders for a new round of negotiations..
Reciting the now familiar litany that 'time is running out..'' that now was the goal to get a deal approved by the government before the its debt ceiling on the 2d next month, Barack underlined a proposal worked on for months and put on the table by the so-called Gang of Six.. the group of senators who offered a plan for roughly $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade.. suggested there was still hope for a bipartisan deal..
In other words.. there are more issues both sides want to be left holding the upper hand on, in the next cut of the deck.. There' s still time for some petty squabbling..
There are times the machinations of government can seem so utterly mundane.. but never is it more obvious than when a big issue rears it's head..
Always watch the man with the smallest bag.. it gives the impression he wants the least.. but very valuable concessions can be rolled into a picture tube..
Take the Midwest.. it may be holding back for trade concessions with the Far East and China, to reduce it's massive wheat and soy surplus.. Because of bumper crops, American wheat and soy dropped a third ten days ago..
Gods know China, and all that area, hard hit by natural disasters of their own could profit through bond exchanges for wheat imports..
The grain gets sold.. the Chinese eat.. and the US has back in the hands of it's own treasury, those Bonds China could have called in at anytime..
Also keeps rolling stock on the rails.. and their produce on it's way to market..
Even in the worst of our analysts hair-tearing and scattering of ashes, business will continue..
But it's the problem areas the likes of Greece, which keep hoi polloi occupied..
Take note gentle reader, this is not normal..
And the Camper Countdown continues..

An apt aphorism comes to mind.. 'I grieved when I lost my shoes, until I saw a man with no feet..'
The UN is about to declare a catastrophic state of famine in Somalia..
In spite of concerted efforts of many Humanitarian Groups, the Somalians.. an estimated 10m of them.. have been affected in east Africa by the worst drought in more than half a century..
Tens of thousands of desperate Somalis have been trying to flee their country to neighbouring Kenya or Ethiopia.. but the overflow is overwhelming the resources of countries already deep in their own particular economic and political upheavals..
Those conditions include more than 3 of ten of children being acutely malnourished.. and at least four children out of every 10 thousand.. dying daily..

More throughout the day..

Monday, July 18, 2011

A former News of the World journalist who made phone-hacking allegations against the paper has been found dead..
In other developments in the phone-hacking story yesterday..
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yatesnhas resigned following growing pressure that 'The Independent Police Complaints Commission'.. received referrals from the Metropolitan Police Authority about the conduct of four current or former senior Met officers..
Labour leader Ed Miliband is on this like white on rice.. again attackeding David Cameron for hiring former News of the World editor Andy Coulson at Number 10.. This has become something on an ongoing joke.. It begs the question, perhaps tonue in cheek but perhaps then again, not.. that is there no one as Pure as Caesars Wife..?
Among all of those who deliver our morning dose of the news.. are there none to be found who could't change unsullied..?
The point is, that there is not, and to expect scandals from those who invent them, is something akin to getting bread from your baker..
Yours is the choice from whom to buy..

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks confirmed she would appear before a committee of MPs tomorrow, alongside Rupert and James Murdoch, despite her arrest and questioning by police on Sunday..
News Corporation established an independent body headed by senior barrister Lord Grabiner QC to lead its internal inquiry into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal..
And in the meanwhile.. back at the wallet..Shares in News Corporation dropped by 7.6% to a two-year low in trading in Australia, and suffered a 4.3% fall in New York..
The Serious Fraud Office said it would give "full consideration" to a request by Labour MP Tom Watson to investigate out-of-court settlements made to hacking victims
Press Association reporter Laura Elston's lawyer said she would would face no further action. She had been arrested last month by police investigating allegations of phone hacking by journalists..
Mr Yates checked the credentials of Neil Wallis before the Met employed the former News of the World deputy editor..
Mr Wallis was arrested and released on bail on Thursday on suspicion Sean Hoare had told an American newspaper the practice was far more extensive than the paper acknowledged when police first investigated hacking claims.. "The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious.. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.."
He also said the then NoW editor Andy Coulson had asked him to hack phones.. something Mr Coulson has denied..

As Harry Habersagen used to say, "It's hard times in Lankhmar..
The euro and stock markets fell.. borrowing costs of indebted countries rose.. as worries over debt crises in the eurozone and US mounted..
A financial health check on 90 European banks, published last Friday, failed to ease nervous markets.. a mere band aides effort at the best of times..
The Euro touched a record low against the Swiss franc, and bond yields in Spain and Italy hit new highs..
Financial shares fell sharply, with Royal Bank of Scotland and Societe Generale down about 5%. on the day..
And recall, those who have been faithfuls readers for the past few years.. we have been touting gold as one of the most profitable commodities.. the price of gold topped $1,600 an ounce for the first time as investors put money into the haven commodity.. The spot gold price hit $1,600.40, before pulling back slightly to $1,598.76..
And despite bumper crops of wheat and soya throughout the American Midwest dropped it's annual reports net worth down by nearly a third..
Considering the droughts, floods.. massive relocation's.. a bounce back is bound to be seen soon, as foreign, especially Asian markets wait for a bottom-out..
Watch for this trend to continue for the foreseeable future.. Those economies with realistic balances in stock.. will be the one's who manage to balance their paper with their commodity needs..
In a further sign of scepticism in the financial markets that governments will be able to bring an end to the debt crisis, yields on Italian and Spanish bonds rose..
The rate on ten-year Italian bonds exceeded 6%, the most since the euro's debut in 1999..The Spanish equivalent rose almost 0.2 percentage points to 6.37%..
And to top the icing on the cake.. Confidence in Spain's economy was dented by news that its banks have 117.6bn Euros in outstanding loans that are at risk of not being recovered..
Here come those 'financial black holes'..

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Taking into account the political and economic clout the Chinese weigh in as the second largest economy, it was a bold move for Barack to meet with the Dalai Lama.. Obama told the Tibetan Leader of his "strong support" for human rights in Tibet..
A move the Chinese are vehemently opposed to.. Beijing released an angry statement saying the meeting had damaged relations between the two countries..
One of the main problems, is keeping China's reserves of American Bonds stable.. What with the US facing it's first possibility of devaluation and defaults.. And while not to be all doom and gloom..
Asian Markets have reflected the disarray in the West.. one can be sure analysts are in the West burning the midnight oil.. Paring away at the smallest issues possible without seeming to give away traditional.. entrenched.. issues..
It's been long day.. and a longer poised for tomorrow..

Once again, the media, and especially Rupert Murdock will once again find himself under the harrow for yellow journalism.. for theft.. for bribery..
And not in the least significant effect .. are the immediate losses some 200 writers, Editors, some whose names may have never been besmirched by any impropriety whatsoever..
Just having 'The News of The World'on one's CV, is something that might prepare to defend..
This is certainly not a new trend.. I's been as common, and as lurid as hacks could make for centuries.. People have been wiping their backsides with the pages of Penny Awfulls for time immemmorial..
It's an odd trait of the Brits.. the French have their interminable affaires public for years..Same with the Italians.. and are able to put things into perspective, and deal with their peccadillo's.. their endless affairs are secondary to the job the man or Woman at the top is doing their job..
Perphaps it's our Calvanistic streak.. which allow us to snigger behind open hands, at those we consider 'icons'..
A sad case of 'hubris..
As Samuel Pope said.." A little learning's a dan'rours thing.. Drink deep or taste not the Pyerian Spring.. Where shalow draughts intoxicate the brain, But drinking largely sobers us again..

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rupert Murdoch issued a series of abject apologies and heralded sweeping changes to his newspaper business today as he sought to repair the damage of the phone-hacking scandal.. This dog and pony show could play out for quite a while, as the individual players in the police investigation come to light.. There are webs within webs.. from those junior reporters who're desperate for the recognition.. to the Senor Editors who passed unsubstantiated 'facts' into front page poetry..
And while it had appeared she would stand for at least a couple of weeks.. Rebekah Brooks became the highest casualty yet in a growing clearout of Senior Executives when Murdoch accepted her offer to resign as Chief Executive of News International..
Rupert really wants control of BSkyB.. bad enough to grovel before the public in general..
Including a repentant Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive.. requesting a meeting with the family of Milly Dowler.. and told them the hacking of their murdered daughter’s phone shamed his family name..
“He apologised many times,” said Mark Lewis, the Dowler family’s lawyer. “I don’t think anybody could have held their head in their hands so many times.”
National newspapers are carrying a full-page advert tomorrow morning signed by Mr Murdoch in which he admits for the first time that News International had been left flat-footed by the crisis that has engulfed it over the past two weeks..
“We regret not acting faster to sort things out,” it reads.. Murdoch also declares he is sorry for the “serious wrongdoing” at the News of the World and for the hurt suffered by individuals affected..
He will be substantially hit.. when the civil court cases come before News Iternational's team of lawyers..

Barack's challenged Congress today, to put the country on the right fiscal footing for decades to come by slashing spending.. and increasing revenue as part of a package to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit..
In a news conference at the White House after five days of often-tense closed-door talks with congressional leaders.. Obama said there is still time to put together a "big deal" to solve the nation's debt and deficits problem for the long term.. and raise the debt ceiling before the August 2d deadline imposed by the Treasury Department..
He cautioned, however, that time is running short to avoid the first government default on its loans.. putting the US on a level with Greece.. 'junk' bonds.. the largest economy in the world.. seems oxymoronic.. something Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and a host of economists have warned would be catastrophic.. Obama said he is asking leaders to come up with a solution before the end of the weekend...
At issue: Democrats want a deal in which trillions of dollars in spending cuts are accompanied by new revenue through ending tax breaks for big oil companies and similar measures..
"The American people are sold" on a plan that would do both, Obama said.. "The problem is that members of Congress are dug in ideologically.."..
Not that the consideration has not been taken by both.. that by raising a thirteen trillion borrowing limit.. one delays the necessity of the next loan, and the next, and the next..
We're living in a definite downward spiral..
And while it may be overstating the obvious, nothing short of a New World Order.. empowered within a Union in which there would needs be an agreed accord.. with each country voting on a representation by population and by GNP.. A modified United Nations..
As for the ongoing talks..
"If they show me a serious plan, I'm ready to move," Obama said..
An inportant word left out of that soundbite.. "fast.." Odd such an important words makes it's effect felt by it's absence..

Thousands of Egyptians, increasingly upset with their interim military rulers.. rallied Friday in the nation's two largest cities.. ringing a security building with chants of.. "Oh police, you are thugs".. and demanding trials for police officers suspected in the killing of hundreds of activists in the uprising that brought down Hosni Mubarak..
Organizers of the protests, billed as the "Friday of Last Warning," said soaring temperatures were keeping many people away, but noted that in recent days, crowds have swelled after sunset.. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best-organized political group, did not attend..
For the past week, hundreds of hardcore activists have camped out at Cairo's Tahrir Square, birthplace of the 18-day popular uprising that ousted Mubarak on the 11th of February.. Their main demand is that the military council which took over after the uprising.. purge all remnants of the Mubarak regime.. and get on with the institution of public elections..
"We want to cleanse the country's institution.." one of the demonstrators, standing on a stage in a corner of the square and holding a microphone, told a group nearby.. "Until we see the government officials talking to the protesors in Tahrir, we will not leave this place.." This pledge, has a familiar ring to it..
"Bread.. freedom.. and social justice.." he chanted..
Simple enought demands to be met, one would think..

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Three explosions rocked India's busy financial capital at rush-hour Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and injuring 54 in what officials described as another terror strike on the city hit by militants nearly three years ago..
Television footage showed dozens of police officials, several of them armed, at the sites of the explosion and at least one car with its windows shattered.. A photograph showed victims of a blast at the Jhaveri Bazaar crowding into the back of a cargo truck to be taken to a hospital..
Indian media reported the Home Ministry had called the separate blasts in three busy locations a terror attack.. No officials there could be independently reached for comment..
The explosions happened around 7 pm.. when all the neighborhoods would have been packed with office workers and commuters..
The blasts.. if confirmed as a terror strike.. would mark the first major attack on Mumbai since 10 militants laid siege to India's financial capital for 60 hours in November 2008..
That attack, which targeted two luxury hotels.. a Jewish center.. and a busy train station.. killed 166 people and was blamed on Pakistan-based militant groups.. The attacks escalated tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals and prompted them to suspend peace talks..
However, the talks have recently resumed..
This latest attack will certainly cast a pall over discussions to come.. for if Pakistan can't control the Taliban and al Qaida, it loses whatever strategic value it still holds..

President Obama collected $86 million combined for his re-election campaign and the Democratic party during the past three months, giving him a large fundraising advantage over the Republican field seeking to challenge him in 2012..
Obama has a large fundraising lead over Republicans..
President Obama collected $86 million combined for his re-election campaign and the Democratic party during the past three months, giving him a large fundraising advantage over the Republican field seeking to challenge him in 2012..
Obama has a large fundraising lead over Republicans.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video posted early Wednesday that it raised more than $47 million and the Democratic National Committee brought in more than $38 million through the end of June, building a foundation for advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts in next year's election. Obama's team had set a public goal of $60 million combined..
Mind you, the fund raising's nowhere near over yet.. and it could well take every penny in the war chest to offset the negativity of unemployment figures over 9%.. inflation on the rise.. and an economy which appears to be at the best, flagging..
Mind you, the timing of the return of American Forces from Afghanistan is key.. it's one of the few positive pieces of news this administration will have over the next 16 months or so..
There are some who believe the American man on the street will give Barack another kick at the can..
But, with all the indicators we have in place.. it will likely be a Republican administration, with Mitt Romney carrying the colours..
Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, this plan Barack's fighting for tooth and nail in the House and Senate for a long term commitment, rather than another three or four month postponement of yet another debate..
The World's markets are in turmoil, as the US debates it's own future.. with a default looming in the air..
It's bad enough the States is on the verge of bankruptcy.. with the same scenario developing in Europe, it's an even bleaker future in the offing..

Newspaper proprietors, editors and politicians including the Prime Minister face being called to give evidence under oath before a far-reaching inquiry into the hacking scandal, David Cameron announced.. Cameron named Lord Justice Leveson as the head of a two-pronged inquiry that will trawl through the details of journalistic malpractice and police failings and also craft a new system of press regulation..
He said he would be happy to give evidence himself as he said the relationship between the media and politicians had to change..
Cameron, who this afternoon is due to meet the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered schoolgirl whose phone was hacked, said of the inquiry: “We want it to be one that is as robust as possible. One that can get to the truth fastest and get to work the quickest. And one that commands the full confidence of the public.”
Mind you, if the goal of these investigations is to eradicate yellow journalism.. it is doomed to utter failure from the start.
There will always be a segment of the British public who lives for their 'stories'.. the likes of Corrie or Eastenders.. and who will fight for the right to see embarrassing photo's of our celebrities.. and who's having illicit affairs with whom..
Already there are plans on the table for a 'Sunday Sun'.. the newspaper of 'Page 3' fame.. The gap in the market left by the News Of The World will not remain vacant for long..
The market's too great to be ignored.. and these replacement publications for tabloid journalism will see the niche filled quickly..

Now, try to make sense of this..
UK unemployment fell 26,000 in the three months to May.. to 2.45 million.. official figures show..
The unemployment rate was 7.7%, according to the Office for National Statistics .. down from 7.8% in the previous quarter..
However and herein lies the conundrum.. the number of people claiming Jobeekers's Allowance in June rose by 24,500 to 1.52 million.. the biggest such increase in two years.. the total number claiming unemployment benefits reached its highest level since March 2010, while the claimant count rate held steady at 4.7%..
It is the second month in a row that the claimant count has risen while the unemployment total.. which is based on a separate survey.. has fallen..
Makes no sense to us, either..But anyone, posed with such a question, would be forced into an honest assesment, amounting, on the whole, to a re-evaluation of what a job's worth..
If it's redundant to the power of two that would save us some £45thousand a yeat, while allowing those who could do well well..

Ministers, parliamentarians and thousands of other people joined the Afghan president Hamid Karzai to bury his half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, a political strongman who was praised for his efforts to bring peace to the southern province of Kandahar..
Ahmed Wali Karzai.. dubbed the president of Kandahar.. was killed on Tuesday at his home by his long-trusted Security Chief..
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for killing Ahmed Wali Karzai..
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday Karzai said.. "This is the life of the people of Afghanistan. Afghan families, every one of us, have suffered from it and we hope, God willing, for our suffering to be over.. Once again I call on the Taliban, my dears, my brothers and friends, come and join me in building the country.. Stop destroying the country.."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

David Cameron delivered a major blow to News Corporation’s takeover bid for BSkyB today by supporting a call for the company to abandon the attempt.. MPs will vote tomorrow on a Labour motion calling on Rupert Murdoch to withdraw his bid “in the public interest”..
This partiular 'blind eye' turned by the man who is, when push comes to shove, has the final say.. the man resposible.. stands to lose not only his credibility, but his fortune..
The lawsuits stemming from some 4 thousand who are alleged to have their privacy breached.. their phones hacked.. stands to cost News International a staggering amount of compensation..
The police investigation into newspaper hacking claims, has turned it's attention towards 'The News Of The World'in particular.. The Met's informed Mp's that the newspaper 'thwarted' the original investigation.. Ex-Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said while probing the claims in 2006, he came across "prevarication and what we now know to be lies"..
Assistant Commissioner John Yates said the firm "appears to have failed to co-operate" during his review of the case.. However, Assistant Commissioner John Yates said the firm "appears to have failed to co-operate" during his review of the case..
Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said Mr Yates's evidence was "unconvincing"..
A police investigation began in 2005, triggered by stories about Prince William's health in 'The News Of The World'..
In other developments..
Labour leader Ed Miliband will meet David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg to discuss the fall-out of the scandal..
MPs will vote on Wednesday on a Labour motion urging News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch to withdraw his bid..
News International's Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks, Chairman James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch have been asked to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the Commons next Tuesday.. The company says it will co-operate and is awaiting the "formal invitation".. Labour leader Ed Miliband has a meeting with the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was allegedly hacked, and tells..
In other developments..
Labour leader Ed Miliband will meet David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg to discuss the fall-out of the scandal..
MPs will vote on Wednesday on a Labour motion urging News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch to withdraw his bid for BSkyB.. All three main party leaders have now said they will lend their support to the motion..
News International's Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks, Chairman James Murdoch and his father, Rupert Murdoch have been asked to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the Commons next Tuesday. The company says it will co-operate and is awaiting the "formal invitation.."
The final edition of the News of the World on Sunday sold 3.8 million copies, 1.1 million more than the previous week..
The websites and are transferred to News International, amid speculation a seven-day edition of The Sun is in the planning stage..

Accoding to French authorities.. Mohammar's envoys say the Libyan leader is "prepared to leave.. "The Libyan regime is sending messengers everywhere, to Turkey, to New York, to Paris" offering to discuss Gaddafi's exit, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told French radio..
Juppe told France Info radio today.. "We are receiving emissaries who are telling us.. 'Gaddafi is prepared to leave.. Let's discuss it..'
"There are contacts but it's not a negotiation proper at this stage."
Juppe did not say who the emissaries were..
Mr Juppe told France Info radio on Tuesday: "We are receiving emissaries who are telling us: 'Gaddafi is prepared to leave. Let's discuss it.'
"There are contacts but it's not a negotiation proper at this stage.."
Juppe did not say who the emissaries were..nor he give any indication as to what powers of negotiation they might hold.. But Juppe added that such contacts did not constitute negotiations..
But it's interesting the French are so intimately involved in any plan to relocate Mohammar, having been the most involved in his removal..
One of the terms for his leaving Libya.. will be a guarantee that all criminal charges be revoked.. and that at least a portion of his personal fortune be returned..

Yet another 'care' home is facing a police investigation following allegations of sub-standard treatment of patients, and four members have staff have been arrested on suspected physical attacks..
Rose Villa in Bristol is the latest of care home scandals and closures.. one person was suspended at Rose Villa in June following allegations made by a whistle-blower..
In the past week, two members of staff have been suspended after inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised safeguarding concerns.. It is believed a further member of staff has been suspended after allegations that a patient was mishandled..
One cannot express adequately, the outrage such reports inspire. That those who are the most need from this society, are the one's mistreated by their carers..
If it were an isolated case, it might be understood the vetting process could hire the odd sociopathic type..
But it's carelssness at the best.. but criminal at it's worst..
This is a an ever growing problem.. and the source of some concern for an ever growing demographic.. With the government capping a social safety net at £5 thousand for those needing nursing or palliative care.. many are wordering if their 'golden years' may have become lightly gilded brass, at best..
These tens of thousands who hit the streets in pension contribution protests.. hsve need to take into account the economy, and what sacrifices must be made to repair this broken machine..
While it still an abhorrent situation to hear of the mistreatment of patients.. the wage paid are not outstanding.. and it takes a certain personality to deal with geriatrics..
But with our economy in the state it's in, it will be years before we see disposable income keep up with inflation..

International Markets are in something of a panic over the ever expanding problems with the Eurozone.. fears that the debt crisis in the Eurozone may spread to Italy and Spain are rife.. Italy's main index fell 4% at one point, before recovering to rise 0.4%. Spanish shares and the UK's FTSE 100 have both shed 1%..
Italy moved with alarming speed from the fringe of the European Union’s financial crisis to its very centre.. as efforts to prevent the debt contagion from spreading beyond Greece.. Ireland.. and Portugal failed.. even threatening to engulf the United States..
The spread to Italy is disturbing evidence that even the largest economies, none of which seemed to share any of the worst economic traits of Greece, are not immune from investors’ fears that debt loads are simply becoming too big to be paid off.. Waning growth in the Western world is only intensifying the belief that debt defaults may be inevitable, a potentially catastrophic scenario that would slaughter the banks and cut off the credit required to keep companies functioning..
EU Finance Ministers, who met Monday to discuss Greece.. ahead of a regularly scheduled session.. reiterated their vow to safeguard financial stability and said they are prepared to bolster “the scope and flexibility” of the existing bailout fund, known as the European Financial Stability Facility. The changes, they said in a statement released Monday night, would lengthen the bailout loan maturity dates and drop their interest rates. Greece has already been treated to lower bailout loan costs.. Eire and Portugal will soon be asking for the same concessions..
Whether new bailout terms will help Greece or other rescued countries avoid default remains an open question. Many economists believe nothing but a default, followed by debt reduction of 50 per cent or so, would allow Greece to support its debt..
Plunging prices for trading in Italian debt presented Brussels with a nightmare scenario.. The potential bailout of the third-largest economy in the euro zone could be unaffordable, and could result in the destruction of the common currency..
Italy’s economy is as big as Britain’s and bigger than Canada’s.. Most economists think it would be too big to bail out.. Italy’s turmoil “adds a new ingredient to Eurostress,” Deutsche Bank economist Gilles Moec said..
A group of European banks that own the battered debt of Greece and other weak countries pleaded for the EU to buy back the debt.. “It is essential that euro-area member states and the IMF act in coming days to avoid market developments spinning out of control and risk contagion accelerating,” the banks said in a paper presented Monday to finance ministers of the Euro Zone, the 17 EU countries that share the common currency..
The Italian cabinet recently approved €47-billion in spending reductions and tax hikes between now and 2015, but the bulk of the austerity program comes in the last two years, leading to speculation that Prime Minister Tremonti will be forced to accelerate the program to scare off the investors who are betting that the Italian debt markets have nowhere to go but down..
Italy was supposed to be fire-proof.. and some economists think the plunging bond prices are unwarranted, even if the Italian economy has stalled and the political landscape is unstable.. thanks to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s never-ending sex and corruptions scandals..
They note, for instance, that Italy’s budget deficit – the difference between the amount it takes in and the amount it spends – is expected to be only 4 per cent of gross domestic product this year, down from 4.6 per cent in 2010. Italy’s 2011 figure is below the euro zone’s average expected deficit and well below Britain’s (7.6 per cent) and the United States’s (10.4 per cent), according to the latest Deutsche Bank forecasts..
But should the worst case scenario take place.. it would spell the end of this attempt to unify Europe.. the end of the Euro itself in those countries who see the advantage of bailing on their debts, returning to their own currency, and putting devaluation on the table..
Now no doubt a door would be left open for all those countries who might leave the Euro.. an open invitation to all those governments to return to the fold, as it were, once economic stability returns..
But what effects these possible moves could have on France and Germany.. indeed even Serbia.. has yet to be seen..
The yields on Italian and Spanish bonds also continued to rise as worries over the two countries grew..
Yesterday, Eurozone finance ministers said they were ready to pass new measures to stop the crisis spreading..
The Euro was also lower, falling to a four-month low against the dollar at $1.3835..
The concern is that Italy and Spain may have to follow Greece, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland and seek a European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) bail-out..
Yesterday, Eurozone Finance Ministers said increased efforts to "improve the euro area's systemic capacity to resist contagion risk".. measures would include "enhancing the flexibility and the scope" of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF)..
This is the bail-out fund to which eurozone member states contribute..
Finance ministers also agreed to look at lowering the interest rates that Greece, Portugal and the Irish Republic have to pay, plus lengthening the maturities of their loans..
Not that this can be seen as a long-term solution.. Lowering the interest rates will merely leave those countries which made the original loans, out of pocket..
And it will make the IMF and the loaning members of the Eurozone even more reluctant to make bailouts.. with the chances of defaults increasing..
This experiment with a single European currency is turning out to be a no go.. As we noted several years ago, that any country in the EU, has tied itself to the lowest economy in the group..

An interesting use for Facebook is now under police investigation Terrorist cells are using the networking sites to arrange attacks..
This use of this medium had to be expected..
The UK's updated counter-terrorism strategy suggests terrorists' use of social media to disseminate information and radicalise people is "commonplace"..
It said there was evidence of extremist groups seeking "to invade Facebook"..
Home Secretary Theresa May said the UK must react to this threat but stressed Osama bin Laden's death had left al-Qaeda in its weakest state since 2001..
Last year the government identified cyber warfare as one of the most serious "Tier 1" threats to the UK's security and set aside £650m in additional money to make key infrastructure more resilient..
Defence Secretary Liam Fox recently revealed that his department had dealt with more than 1,000 "potentially serious" attempted cyber attacks in the past year..
The government's updated counter-terrorism strategy, published on Tuesday, warns that the number of attacks on IT systems will likely increase and that extremists were increasingly sophisticated in their use of social networking and video sharing sites..
"Since the death of Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda has explicitly called not only for acts of lone or individual terrorism but also for 'cyber-jihad'.." according to the document..

Monday, July 11, 2011

Journalists from 'The Sunday Times' and 'The Sun' obtained information from Gordon Brown’s legal files, bank account and his young son’s medical record, according to reports released today..
Documents and a phone recording suggest "blagging" was used to obtain private financial and property details..
The Browns also wonder how medical records relating to their son Fraser.. whom the Sun revealed in 2006 to suffer from cystic fibrosis, may have been obtained..
News International said it would investigate the claims..
In a statement.. the company said.. "We note the allegations made today concerning the reporting of matters relating to Gordon Brown. So that we can investigate these matters further, we ask that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us."
Full disclosure may well be demanded by the courts themselves, as investigations into criminal charges continue..
In other developments in the phone-hacking scandal..
Evidence has been found suggesting a News of the World reporter tried to buy a phone book containing Royal Family numbers..
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall may have also been targets of phone-hacking conducted at the News of the World, according to 'The Guardian'..
Scotland Yard says it believes stories have been leaked to the media as part of a "deliberate campaign to undermine" its inquiry into claims that bribes have been paid to some officers..
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirms that he is referring News Corp's bid to take over BSkyB to the Competition Commission. It comes after News Corporation withdrew its proposed undertaking to sell 'Sky News' as part of its bid..
The family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler met Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to discuss concerns that her phone may have been hacked by the News of the World.. The Dowler family called on Rebekah Brooks.. the newspaper's editor at the time.. to resign as chief executive of 'News International'..
It's understood Rebekah Brooks could be questioned by police as a witness, rather than a suspect.. Mrs Brooks has denied having had any knowledge of hacking while she was editor from 2000 to 2003..
Labour MP Tom Watson says the position of John Yates, assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police who led the original investigation into phone hacking, is "untenable"
The Prime Minister said he had had no information to suggest Andrew Coulson knew about phone hacking when he employed him but if "those assurances were untrue, I would be incredibly angry and incredibly let down..
The latest allegations relate to personal details it is claimed were obtained for a front-page Sunday Times report that Mr Brown, who later became Prime Minister.. had purchased a flat owned by Robert Maxwell at a "knock-down price".. In other developments in the phone-hacking scandal..
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirms that he is referring News Corp's bid to take over BSkyB to the Competition Commission. It comes after News Corporation withdrew its proposed undertaking to sell Sky News as part of its bid.
Rebeka Brooks has denied having had any knowledge of hacking while she was editor from 2000 to 2003..
Labour MP Tom Watson says the position of John Yates, assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police who led the original investigation into phone hacking, is "untenable"..
Our Prime Minister.. David Cameron.. said he had had no information to suggest Andy Coulson knew about phone hacking when he employed him but if "those assurances were untrue, I would be incredibly angry and incredibly let down..
'Be Prepared' has always has valitity as a safe option..

Cameron has vowed to "put people in charge" as he unveiled his plan for changes to public services in England..
In a speech in London, the prime minister said public services were the "backbone" of the country but too often their results were not good enough..That could well be a tacit mention of the recent strikes, and thos slated to come..
A different approach would give people "more freedom, more choice and more local control" in schools, health and other services, Mr Cameron argued..
Labour said there was "nothing new" in the government's proposals.. And business leaders have accused Mr Cameron of moving too slowly on the changes.. which are central to his vision of the Big Society.. in the face of union and Liberal Democrat pressure..
The Public Services White Paper had been due to be unveiled in January but has been held up by Whitehall argument over its contents..
The key elements of the plan, outlined by David are..
Companies, charities and community groups to bid to run everything from local health services to schools, libraries and parks..
People to be given new legally-enforceable "right to choose" services..
State to have to justify retaining monopoly service in most areas..
Councils to be given new funding streams..
Providers to be able to make profits in some areas like getting people off benefits and into work, but not in others such as health care..
Unveiling the proposed legislation today.. Mr Cameron said it was about "ending the old big-government, top-down way of running public services, releasing the grip of state control and putting power in people's hands".. "The old dogma that said Whitehall knows best.. it's gone..There will be more freedom, more choice and more local control.."
It would almost sound as though David's counting on the devolution of the Union.. for by far the largest voice in the economic forum left after the formation Scottish nation.. a Welsh devolved Parliment.. would certainly leave the English in at bat..
Leaked documents earlier this year suggested ministers were scaling back the role of the private sector in their plans amid concerns that the public would find widespread outsourcing of services "unpalatable"..
But Cameron dismissed suggestions that the government was "pulling back or losing heart" over the plans.. describing the task as "urgent" and saying ministers were "determined" to see it through..
"We are as committed to modernising our public services as we have ever been," he said..
The Opposition Labour said public services faced "significant challenges" in the current financial climate but that ministers were not advocating anything that had not already been tried by the last administration..
"It appears from the way in which this White Paper has been launched that the Cabinet Office are more preoccupied with spin and presentation than the provision of substantive proposals..".. according to Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Tessa Jowell..
"Because this White Paper contains few new ideas and even fewer new proposals and in most of the cases referred to past plans.. the government are lagging behind the actions of the last Labour government.."
Ovbiously we're meant to conveniently forget it was the former Labour Government which caused the economic problems we face today, and that they've neglected to offer any viable alternative to Tory debt reduction plan..
In a typical union statement.. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Of course they are skilfully wrapped up in warm words, but when the prime minister talks of charities and voluntary groups, he means parcelling up public services for private companies..'
An obvious target.. an obvious stragtegy..
And opposition to a plan.. mere condemnation with no visble resolution..

Weather.. it's breakfast table conversation throughout this island..
In Dallas, Texas.. it's become much the same..
For ten days, sweltering summer temperatures in Dallas have topped 100 degrees The National Weather Service reported Monday that heat advisories and warnings are in place in parts of 18 states from as far north as Michigan, as far west as Oklahoma, and as far south as Georgia.. Temperatures in those places may not reach 100 degrees, but the heat index could make it feel like triple digits..

Barack vowed Monday to seek "the largest possible deal" to cut future budget deficits, but he said the onus is on Republicans to compromise as much as he and his fellow Democrats already have..
With a 10-year, roughly $4 trillion plan that he's floating already tilted 4-to-1 in favor of spending cuts, Obama said reaching agreement will be difficult because of intransigence on taxes among rank-and-file Republicans..
"I don't see a path to a deal if they don't budge, period," said Barack.. Later, he added, "I'm operating with some political constraints here, because whatever I do has to go through the House of Representatives."
House Speaker John Boehner responded to Obama just 30 minutes before their talks were to resume by again refusing to consider tax increases and complaining that the White House isn't serious about cutting government..
A compromise, Boehner said, should mean that Obama gets to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit and Republicans get to slash spending. "Adding tax increases to the equation doesn't balance anything," he said..
The Republicans have had the upper hand in the on-again, off-again talks.. They have dissented, walked out and changed the terms of debate whenever Democrats insisted that tax increases on upper-income Americans be part of the agreement..
By contrast, on issues dear to Democrats, such as the future of Medicare and Social Security, Obama said, "I'm prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get this done.."
Obama said he would meet "every single day" with leaders of both parties in an effort to work out a deal that would cut trillions of dollars from budget deficits.. while raising the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit..
Without a deal by Aug. 2, the government faces a first-ever default on its obligations..
By contrast, on issues dear to Democrats, such as the future of Medicare and Social Security, Obama said, "I'm prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get this done."
Obama said he would meet "every single day" with leaders of both parties in an effort to work out a deal that would cut trillions of dollars from budget deficits while raising the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit. Without a deal by Aug. 2, the government faces a first-ever default on its obligations.
By contrast, on issues dear to Democrats, such as the future of Medicare and Social Security, Obama said, "I'm prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get this done.."
But the president said he would not sign a short-term package that merely extended borrowing authority for a period of months.. something Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has hinted might be required..
Barack's been dropped in the same pile of economic offal as the rest of the world in this 'recession..'and has a far larger deficit to try and manage than perhaps any other..
But the president said he would not sign a short-term package that merely extended borrowing authority for a period of months — something Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has hinted might be required..
"This is the United States of America. We don't manage our affairs in three-month increments," says Barack.. forgetting, perhaps, that the White House and Congress worked in two- and three-week increments earlier this year to pass a budget and avoid a partial government shutdown..
If this borrowing increase is dragged past the August 2d dealine.. bodes exceely ill for the worlds largest ecomony.. and even worse for the world in general..
"This is the United States of America. We don't manage our affairs in three-month increments.." Barack's forgetting, perhaps, that the White House and Congress worked in two- and three-week increments earlier this year to pass a budget and avoid a partial government shutdown..
The negotiations were set to resume at the White House at 2pm today, but there were no signs of progress following a rare Sunday night session in which Obama argued for a major deal, Boehner said only a midsize, $2.4 trillion deal was possible, and Democratic leaders vowed to protect the middle class, Medicare and Social Security..
The "big deal" would end former president George W. Bush's tax cuts for people earning above $200,000 and couples earning above $250,000, beginning in 2013. Otherwise, Obama said it would allow "authors of best-selling books off the hook" — perhaps a reference to himself.
That deal also would end a variety of special-interest tax breaks for oil and gas companies, hedge funds, private jet owners and others, in exchange for lower income tax rates..

South Sudan became an independent country yesterday.. breaking away from Sudan after more than 50 years of on-and-off war..
The country's finance minister, David Deng Athorbie, said today the new currency would be called the 'South Sudan pound' and will replace 'the Sudan pound' currently in use.. It is scheduled to arrive by cargo plane beginning Wednesday and will go into circulation next Monday.. It will have a one-to-one value with the Sudan pound.
After the Cabinet was sworn in, the finance minister told a news conference that there would be difficulties in paying government salaries on time because Sudan's government had not sent an adequate supply of the northern Sudanese currency..
Minster of the Interior Gier Chuang Aluong said the government was in the process of preparing the country's passports and urged patience..
Ahh.. the costs of establisment of a new country.. Scotland might do well to pay some attention..

China today told the Philippines and Vietnam to use "diplomatic wisdom" to resolve tensions in the South China Sea, amid criticisms that Beijing was being increasingly aggressive in its claims..
"It is important to manage the conflicting points," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said in a speech on "China's peaceful development and international environment" in Hong Kong on Monday..
acknowledging the countries in the territorial dispute all felt strongly about their claims..
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea.. which is believed to have vast oil and gas deposits.. while its shipping lanes are vital for global trade..
Vietnam and the Philippines have in recent months accused China of taking increasingly aggressive actions in staking its claims..
"It takes diplomatic wisdom from China, from Vietnam and from the Philippines to make sure that our differences will be contained, well-managed and we will be able to not allow the differences to affect our relationship..
"You could see we are moving in that direction," she said..
In May, Vietnam said Chinese marine surveillance vessels cut the exploration cables of an oil survey ship inside Hanoi's exclusive economic zone..
And Philippine President Benigno Aquino has accused China of inciting at least seven recent incidents, including one in which a Chinese vessel allegedly opened fire on Filipino fishermen..
Seems the news from China, is released when.. and if China wants..

The leaders of the Chinese and American militaries sought on Monday to cast aside decades of hostility between the two institutions, pledging at a joint news conference here to pursue what they separately called a “great opportunity” to create a “shared vision” of cooperation..
But neither indicated that his government was willing to alter positions on divisive issues, the likes of Taiwan and the South China Sea, that have long hamstrung better relations.. And the Chinese military chief, Gen. Chen Bingde, quickly voiced a string of complaints about American military policies that suggested their shared vision remained a distant dream..
General Chen and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were midway through three days of talks today, following up on a visit to Washington in May by General Chen.. the Chief of the People’s Liberation Army general staff.. Both men are under orders to improve the military relationship, one outcome of a summit last January between President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China..

Stocks on Wall Street took a tumble on Monday, following Asian and European markets lower, as concerns about the Euro Zone debt crisis continued to overwhelm investors around the world..
today’s weak start in the financial markets reflected a series of blows.. with a hangover of disappointing economic news from the United States over jobs data and debt talks last week.. along with lingering worries as European officials met in Brussels to discuss fiscal troubles in the Euro Zone..
fter weeks of uncertainty related to bailouts for Greece, the Italian authorities moved to rein in short-selling on the Milan stock exchange as fears mounted that Italy could become the next victim of the sovereign debt crisis..
By midafternoon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 151.93 points, or 1.20 percent, to 12,505.27. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 23.06 points, or 1.72 percent, to 1,320.74. The Nasdaq composite, heavy with technology shares, lost 54.51 points, or 1.91 percent, to 2,805.30..
“There is so much going on in the world that you almost need a scorecard to keep up,” Kevin H. Giddis, the executive managing director and president for fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Keegan & Company, wrote in a research note.. “Domestically, we have the debt ceiling, the budget, the economy, jobs, inflation and taxes. Internationally, we have Greece, Italy, the E.C.B., China and a potential contagion,” he said, referring to the European Central Bank..
“If Italy becomes more of a problem, then it could spiral out of control and cause the much-feared contagion that some have predicted,” according to Giddis.. “If that is the case, then a global economic slowdown will likely hit our shores here and take the legs out of an already wounded U.S. economy..”
As risk aversion stepped up, United States Treasuries were trading higher. The euro fell 1.4 percent to $1.4017..

The Syrian government has an almost complete checklist for President Bashar al-Assad's crowning overture to the opposition..
A vast swanky conference room in Damascus.? Check..
Huge oval table to seat hundreds of delegates to Syria's national dialogue conference..? Secured..
Select media coverage to televise the event..? In the bag..
Regime loyalists, including Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa..? Front and center..
Just one item is missing.. representatives of the blood-splattered streets who have braved bullets, snipers, tanks, threats of imprisonment, torture or worse for 17 weeks now. They are boycotting..
Today, the conference aimed at political reconciliation continued on its second day even as the meeting itself was being roundly rejected by prominent opponents both at home and in exile..
Elsewhere in the capital.. Assad's goading of the West sharply escalated as pro-regime thugs attacked the U.S Embassy in Damascus.. smashing windows.. raising a Syrian flag on the grounds.. and writing anti-U.S graffiti on the walls..
The mob also allegedly attacked U.S Ambassador Robert Ford's residence in the Syrian capital, as well as the French Embassy.. The assaults appeared to be in response to visits by the U.S. and French ambassadors last week to the restive Syrian city of Hama, where they met with anti-government demonstrators.,
Meanwhile, some 200 people, mainly members of the ruling Ba'ath Party as well as former and current independent parliamentarians, attended the "Dialogue" sessions, which opened on Sunday with a minute's silence for the country's "martyrs" (no mention of who killed them), and the national anthem. Anti-government demonstrators had designated last Friday's nationwide marches "No Dialogue," to underline their objection to the meetings. The lack of prominent opposition elements led some critics to brand the conference a "monologue"; one Arab commentator quipped that "Bashar was hosting a dialogue with Assad.".. A case of Lucillus dining with Lucillus it would seem..
But that's not to say that the regime wasn't called to task by voices at the conferences in a manner unthinkable just months ago. "We should dismantle the security state that dominates the whole society. Now we are suffering the consequences of the police state," said Tayyeb Tizini, a professor of philosophy and one of the few opposition members to attend the government-sponsored event. "The police state will destroy every aspect of society as it keeps tabs on every Syrian citizen.."
That.. would seem to be a 'given'..


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