May 2011 -







31
May 11

Gold Holds Near 4-Week High

(Reuters) Gold steadied around its highest in nearly four weeks on Tuesday, but surrendered earlier gains after a report that Germany could smooth the way for Greece to get a bailout, which prompted investors to seek riskier assets.

The Wall Street Journal reported Germany is considering dropping its insistence on an early rescheduling of Greek bonds to allow for a new package of aid loans to prevent Athens from defaulting on its debt.

The drop in the dollar against the euro did little to whet demand for gold, which usually moves inversely to the U.S. currency, as the resulting improvement in risk appetite left bullion somewhat sidelined.

Spot gold rose to a session high of $1,540.36, its highest since May 4, before pulling back to $1,538.10 an ounce by 1430 GMT, flat on the day. June gold futures were up 0.1 percent at $1,538.10.

“At least to some degree, the sovereign debt issues with Greece and the other peripheral EU countries has been pretty well documented, so it’s not necessarily a surprise for the market,” said HSBC analyst James Steel.

“Gold has been rallying since the middle of May and is actually some sixty-odd dollars higher from the recent low, so it hasn’t done too badly.”

Yet gold is down 1.6 percent so far in May, hovering below a lifetime high around $1,575 touched early in the month and, although it has been a beneficiary of the investor nervousness over Greece, it has struggled to retain its gains.

Silver has fallen by 20 percent this month, platinum is down by nearly 2.5 percent and palladium has shed nearly 2 percent.

Meanwhile, European officials met to draft options for a second bailout package for Greece, with private sector participation still under discussion to help relieve the country of its massive debt burden.

EURO/GOLD IN FOCUS

The euro hit three-week highs against the dollar, before retreating, while gold priced in euros — sometimes used as a gauge to measure investor concern over the euro zone’s debt crisis over the last year, fell 0.7 percent on the day, having touched a record 1,088.11 euros an ounce last week.

The rise in investor risk aversion has translated into greater interest in owning gold, as reflected in last week’s net increase in global holdings of the metal in the world’s largest exchange-traded funds, the first weekly rise in a month.

Gold holdings are still down by over 500,000 ounces this month and down 0.68 pct in the year-to-date, but bullion ETFs have lured in more cash in May than other precious metals.

On the futures markets, speculators increased their holdings of gold for the first time since mid-April last week, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, bringing total futures open interest to its highest since April 19.

“It’s crucial for markets to see whether Greece is actually sustainable and whether it can actually obtain the next 12 billion euros that is required for them to meet their funding needs in July,” said Ong Yi Ling, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

“I think silver was going up too fast and within too short a period of time. But I think on a longer-term basis after the sell off, you see that investors are slowly coming back.”

Silver rose 1.1 percent to $38.48 an ounce, having fallen by more than 20 percent in May — its biggest monthly decline since August 2008 — having struck a record $49.51 in April.

Platinum and palladium were both up on the day, benefiting from the pick-up in investor appetite for growth-linked assets.

Platinum was up by 1.7 percent on the day at $1,826.74 an ounce, while palladium rose 3 percent to $777.47.
Source-http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/31/us-markets-precious-idUSTRE74F62H20110531


31
May 11

Food Prices Set To Double By 2030, Aid Group Says

(cnbc) Food prices could double in the next 20 years and demand in 2050 will be 70 percent higher than now, U.K. charity Oxfam said on Tuesday, warning of worsening hunger as the global food economy stumbles close to breakdown.
“The food system is pretty well bust in the world,” Oxfam Chief Executive Barbara Stocking told reporters, announcing the launch of the Grow campaign as 925 million people go hungry every day.
“All the signs are that the number of people going hungry is going up,” Stocking said.
Hunger was increasing due to rising food price inflation and oil price hikes, scrambles for land and water, and creeping climate change.
‘An age of growing crisis’
Food prices are forecast to increase by something in the range of 70 to 90 percent by 2030 before taking into account the effects of climate change, which would roughly double price rises again, Oxfam said.
“Now we have entered an age of growing crisis, of shock piled upon shock: vertiginous food price spikes and oil price hikes, devastating weather events, financial meltdowns and global contagion,” Oxfam said in a report.
Entitled “Growing a Better Future: Food Justice in a Resource-Constrained World,” the report said: “The scale of the challenge is unprecedented, but so is the prize: a sustainable future in which everyone has enough to eat.”
The report assigns part of the blame to commodities traders, saying three companies control 90 percent of the trade in grain.
“Financial speculation must be regulated, and support dismantled for biofuels that displace food,” it said.
Stocking said she favored the introduction by regulators of position limits in agricultural commodities futures trading, noting that financial speculation aggravated price volatility.
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The report said: “The vast imbalance in public investment in agriculture must be righted, redirecting the billions now being ploughed into unsustainable industrial farming in rich countries towards meeting the needs of small-scale food producers in developing countries.”
Story: Drought in US, EU stressing crops, farmers
The report said the failure of the food system flowed from failures of government to regulate and to invest, which meant that companies, interest groups and elites had been able to plunder resources.
“Now the major powers, the old and the new, must cooperate, not compete, to share resources, build resilience, and tackle climate change,” it said.
“The economic crisis means that we have moved decisively beyond the era of the G8, when a few rich country governments tried to craft global solutions by and for themselves.
“The governments of poorer nations must also have a seat at the table, for they are on the front lines of climate change, where many of the battles — over land, water, and food — are being fought.”
Source-


31
May 11

Damn! Aussies To Be Fined For Swearing

(Breitbart) Australians may have a love of plain speaking but new laws are set to curtail some of their more colorful language with police issuing on-the-spot fines for obnoxious swearing.
The country’s second most populous state Victoria is due to approve new legislation this week under which police will be able to slap fines of up to Aus$240 (US$257) on people using offensive words or phrases.

Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark said the penalties, similar to those issued for speeding or parking illegally, would free up police time.
“This will give the police the tools they need to be able to act against this sort of obnoxious behaviour on the spot, rather than having to drag offenders off to court and take up time and money in proceedings,” he said.

But even the state’s top lawyer admitted to swearing sometimes.

“Occasionally I mutter things under my breath as probably everybody does,” he told ABC radio.

“But this law is not targeted at that, it’s targeted at the sort of obnoxious, offensive behaviour in public that makes life unpleasant for everybody else.”
Source-


30
May 11

Activism Of The Day,Call The D.C. Park Police Over Abuse

(Thomas Dishaw) As I made my way through the news cycle this Memorial Day weekend,I came across a video of epic proportions. Most of you have seen the arrests that took place at the Jefferson Memorial If you are appalled as much as I am, please take time out of your busy day to call the D.C. Park police and voice your concern. Please be respectful to the operators,for they may be on our side. U.S. Park Police 24 hour Emergency Number (202) 610-7500. Office of the Chief (202) 619-7350. Human Resources Office (202) 619-7056. Public Information Office – Sgt. David Schlosser (202) 619-7163.


30
May 11

Collecting Rainwater Now Illegal In Many States

(NaturalNews) Many of the freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S. are quickly eroding as the nation transforms from the land of the free into the land of the enslaved, but what I’m about to share with you takes the assault on our freedoms to a whole new level. You may not be aware of this, but many Western states, including Utah, Washington and Colorado, have long outlawed individuals from collecting rainwater on their own properties because, according to officials, that rain belongs to someone else.

As bizarre as it sounds, laws restricting property owners from “diverting” water that falls on their own homes and land have been on the books for quite some time in many Western states. Only recently, as droughts and renewed interest in water conservation methods have become more common, have individuals and business owners started butting heads with law enforcement over the practice of collecting rainwater for personal use.

Check out this YouTube video of a news report out of Salt Lake City, Utah, about the issue. It’s illegal in Utah to divert rainwater without a valid water right, and Mark Miller of Mark Miller Toyota, found this out the hard way.

After constructing a large rainwater collection system at his new dealership to use for washing new cars, Miller found out that the project was actually an “unlawful diversion of rainwater.” Even though it makes logical conservation sense to collect rainwater for this type of use since rain is scarce in Utah, it’s still considered a violation of water rights which apparently belong exclusively to Utah’s various government bodies.

“Utah’s the second driest state in the nation. Our laws probably ought to catch up with that,” explained Miller in response to the state’s ridiculous rainwater collection ban.

Salt Lake City officials worked out a compromise with Miller and are now permitting him to use “their” rainwater, but the fact that individuals like Miller don’t actually own the rainwater that falls on their property is a true indicator of what little freedom we actually have here in the U.S. (Access to the rainwater that falls on your own property seems to be a basic right, wouldn’t you agree?)

Outlawing rainwater collection in other states

Utah isn’t the only state with rainwater collection bans, either. Colorado and Washington also have rainwater collection restrictions that limit the free use of rainwater, but these restrictions vary among different areas of the states and legislators have passed some laws to help ease the restrictions.

In Colorado, two new laws were recently passed that exempt certain small-scale rainwater collection systems, like the kind people might install on their homes, from collection restrictions.

Prior to the passage of these laws, Douglas County, Colorado, conducted a study on how rainwater collection affects aquifer and groundwater supplies. The study revealed that letting people collect rainwater on their properties actually reduces demand from water facilities and improves conservation.

Personally, I don’t think a study was even necessary to come to this obvious conclusion. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that using rainwater instead of tap water is a smart and useful way to conserve this valuable resource, especially in areas like the West where drought is a major concern.

Additionally, the study revealed that only about three percent of Douglas County’s precipitation ended up in the streams and rivers that are supposedly being robbed from by rainwater collectors. The other 97 percent either evaporated or seeped into the ground to be used by plants.

This hints at why bureaucrats can’t really use the argument that collecting rainwater prevents that water from getting to where it was intended to go. So little of it actually makes it to the final destination that virtually every household could collect many rain barrels worth of rainwater and it would have practically no effect on the amount that ends up in streams and rivers.

It’s all about control, really

As long as people remain unaware and uninformed about important issues, the government will continue to chip away at the freedoms we enjoy. The only reason these water restrictions are finally starting to change for the better is because people started to notice and they worked to do something to reverse the law.

Even though these laws restricting water collection have been on the books for more than 100 years in some cases, they’re slowly being reversed thanks to efforts by citizens who have decided that enough is enough.

Because if we can’t even freely collect the rain that falls all around us, then what, exactly, can we freely do? The rainwater issue highlights a serious overall problem in America today: diminishing freedom and increased government control.

Today, we’ve basically been reprogrammed to think that we need permission from the government to exercise our inalienable rights, when in fact the government is supposed to derive its power from us. The American Republic was designed so that government would serve the People to protect and uphold freedom and liberty. But increasingly, our own government is restricting people from their rights to engage in commonsense, fundamental actions such as collecting rainwater or buying raw milk from the farmer next door.

Today, we are living under a government that has slowly siphoned off our freedoms, only to occasionally grant us back a few limited ones under the pretense that they’re doing us a benevolent favor.

Fight back against enslavement

As long as people believe their rights stem from the government (and not the other way around), they will always be enslaved. And whatever rights and freedoms we think we still have will be quickly eroded by a system of bureaucratic power that seeks only to expand its control.

Because the same argument that’s now being used to restrict rainwater collection could, of course, be used to declare that you have no right to the air you breathe, either. After all, governments could declare that air to be somebody else’s air, and then they could charge you an “air tax” or an “air royalty” and demand you pay money for every breath that keeps you alive.

Think it couldn’t happen? Just give it time. The government already claims it owns your land and house, effectively. If you really think you own your home, just stop paying property taxes and see how long you still “own” it. Your county or city will seize it and then sell it to pay off your “tax debt.” That proves who really owns it in the first place… and it’s not you!

How about the question of who owns your body? According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark office, U.S. corporations and universities already own 20% of your genetic code. Your own body, they claim, is partially the property of someone else.

So if they own your land, your water and your body, how long before they claim to own your air, your mind and even your soul?

Unless we stand up against this tyranny, it will creep upon us, day after day, until we find ourselves totally enslaved by a world of corporate-government collusion where everything of value is owned by powerful corporations — all enforced at gunpoint by local law enforcement.

Learn more:


30
May 11

Cell Towers Hidden In Church Steeples

(NaturalNews) The long term effects of cell phone towers on health are not certain, but cell phone companies are doing whatever they can to get as many towers out there as possible. Most towers are fairly obvious, but recently they are being disguised as trees, hidden in flag poles, and even placed neatly inside church steeples.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as phone companies state that cell towers do not pose a health risk to those living around them. Cell phones and their accompanying towers have not been around long enough to judge what long term effects they will have on the human body over time. Martin Cooper invented the first cell phone in 1973. It weighed two pounds and since there was such an expense they were only used by the military and some businesses. In the 1980s they became smaller and less expensive, but they didn`t really become mainstream until much later. It was about 2002 for the US that over 50% of the population were cell phone subscribers. Today that number is up to 91%. In 2009, more than half the world`s population, an estimated 4.1 billion people, owned a mobile phone, according to the United Nations.

Researchers have tried to create comparisons so an educated guess can be made as to whether there is a risk in living near a cell tower. A 2006 report from the World Health Organization noted that after some fifty years of human exposure to Radio Frequency signals from FM radio and television, which are similar to cell phone towers, there are no known negative effects on health. As reassuring as this seems, some studies have shown otherwise. An Australian study found that children living near TV and FM broadcast towers in Sydney had more than twice the rate of leukemia than children living over seven miles away. Dr. Neil Cherry, a biophysicist at Lincoln University in New Zealand, stresses: “Public health surveys of people living in the vicinity of cell base stations should be carried out now, and continue progressively over the next two decades. This is because prompt effects such as miscarriage, cardiac disruption, sleep disturbance and chronic fatigue could well be indicators of the adverse effects. Symptoms of reduced immune system competence, cardiac problems, especially of the arrhythmic type, and cancers, especially brain tumor and leukemia, are probable.”

Without a clear answer as to the effects of cell towers it is surprising that they are popping up everywhere. Churches low on cash or in need of repairs may find having a tower on their property beneficial. Phone companies pay rent for their placement and this can be up to $2000 a month. The company benefits greatly in this exchange; because even if a wise community has rejected a new tower, church property is often exempt from local zoning, land use laws and regulations pertaining to cell towers. Many of these churches are also home to daycare centers, and because of the way these new towers are hidden, people living around them or attending church inside may have no idea they are that close to a cell tower.

The International Association of Fire Fighters in 2004 came out against the use of firehouses for cell antennas. They decided to ere on the side of caution “until a study with the highest scientific merit” can prove they are safe. While none of us can be certain about the long term effects of cell towers, many choose to at least be informed. www.antennasearch.com offers a free service to check the location and type of towers and antennas in your area.

Learn more:


30
May 11

115 Quakes Recorded At Taal Volcano In 24 Hours

(inquirer.net) Taal Volcano was rocked by 115 earthquakes in the past 24 hours, the highest number of tremors recorded in the area since the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology placed the restive volcano under Alert Level 2 last April.
It was the highest number in a day, a jump from the average of 10 mild quakes daily since alert level 2 (increasing restiveness) was hoisted over Taal on April 9, said Jaime Sincioco, officer-in-charge of the Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division of Phivolcs, in a phone interview.
He said that in the series of the 115 volcanic quakes recorded up to 3 a.m. Monday, 12 were of intensity 1 to 4 and “were felt by the residents” on the volcano island.
The strongest quake, also since April 9, was felt at intensity 4 at around 1:05 a.m.
Phivolcs said residents around the volcano in Taal, Batangas heard rumbling sounds and felt up to Intensity IV earthquakes but no physical changes were left on the ground, Sincioco said.
Julio Sabit, head of the volcano monitoring division, said the earthquakes were an indication that Taal will continue to be restive.
Phivolcs’ bulletin said the volcano’s increased seismic activities and sustained high emission rate of carbon dioxide being released in its main crater lake meant that magma has been intruding towards the surface.
It advised the public that the main crater, the Daang Kastila Trail, and Mt. Tabaro on the island remained off-limits to everybody.
In a Radyo Inquirer interview, Sabit said that the quakes were “part of its on-going activity, if you would notice, its already on Alert level 2, meaning… there is a confirmed rising of magma from below, so these tremors are part of the episodic rising of magma.”
“Taal volcano has experienced earthquake swarms long before, ever since the 90’s, but it has not erupted.”
Sabit also added that “The volcano’s activity varies because previously the quakes were scattered in several areas but the recent ones were clustered in one area.”
Asked whether the recent fish kill incident in Sampaloc Lake was connected to the quakes, Sabit said that “the fish kill occurred in one area, if volcanic activity caused it, it should have affected the area near the volcano first. San Pablo City, Laguna is quite far from the Taal volcano.”
Sabit said that the fish were probably killed because of the sudden change in temperature.
Although the number of quakes recorded last Sunday was a “remarkable” increase from the previous day—there were only 10 volcanic quakes observed on May 29—Sabit said Phivolcs would still not upgrade to 3 the alert level on the volcano. Sincioco said Phivolcs said that monitoring will continue in the coming days.
“If this (high number of volcanic quakes) is sustained, it could eventually lead to an eruption,” he said.
Allan Loza, resident volcanologist at the Taal Observatory based in Talisay, Batangas, said the increased number of volcanic quakes should not cause panic, but residents should be “doubly cautious.”
Sincioco said that as what had happened sometime in 1994, numerous volcanic quakes “reaching over a thousand” were also recorded over Taal but did not culminate in an eruption.
Island residents, meanwhile, refused to evacuate from their homes despite the increased volcanic activity, said Talisay mayor Zanaida Mendoza.
Taal volcano has had 33 eruptions since 1572, the latest was on October 3, 1977. Its major eruptions happened in 1965 to 1970 and in 1976 to 1977.
Taal volcano in Batangas province is about 400 kilometers by land from Mayon volcano in Albay and about 470 kms from Bulusan in Sorsogon. Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes are both under an alert level 1 low-level unrest.


30
May 11

Gold To Hit $1750 In The Short Term

(bmg) CNBC discuss how a weak Greenback and Eurozone debt troubles have helped support the gold market in recent weeks and that growing inflationary fears may now push gold even higher.

Guest Juerg Kiener, CIO (5.91 ↑0.00%) of Swiss Asia Capital believes any exit from the futures markets due to increased margin calls will see more people move into the physical ownership of bullion.

He adds that gold will hit $1750 an ounce in the short term with silver hitting $60 an ounce and that gold could hit multiple thousands of dollars by 2016 with silver above $100.

Kiener concludes by saying that as trust erodes in Governments of the West, we will see further loss of purchasing power of fiat currencies and he believes a partial gold standard will be introduced within 3 – 5 years. Continue @ http://blog.bmgbullion.com/preciousmetals/gold/gold-to-hit-1750-in-the-short-term/


29
May 11

Terrorist ‘Pre-Crime’ Detector Tested In United States

(Sharon Weinberger) Planning a sojourn in the northeastern United States? You could soon be taking part in a novel security programme that can supposedly ‘sense’ whether you are planning to commit a crime.

Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programme designed to spot people who are intending to commit a terrorist act, has in the past few months completed its first round of field tests at an undisclosed location in the northeast, Nature has learned.

Like a lie detector, FAST measures a variety of physiological indicators, ranging from heart rate to the steadiness of a person’s gaze, to judge a subject’s state of mind. But there are major differences from the polygraph. FAST relies on non-contact sensors, so it can measure indicators as someone walks through a corridor at an airport, and it does not depend on active questioning of the subject.

The tactic has drawn comparisons with the science-fiction concept of ‘pre-crime’, popularized by the film Minority Report, in which security services can detect someone’s intention to commit a crime. Unlike the system in the film, FAST does not rely on a trio of human mutants who can see the future. But the programme has attracted copious criticism from researchers who question the science behind it (see Airport security: Intent to deceive?).

From fiction to fact

So far, FAST has only been tested in the lab, so successful field tests could lend some much-needed data to support the technology. “It is encouraging to see an effort to develop a real empirical base for new technologies before any policy commitments are made,” says Tom Ormerod, a psychologist in the Investigative Expertise Unit at Lancaster University, UK. Such testing, he adds, could lay the groundwork for a more rigorous randomized, controlled, double-blind study.

According to a privacy-impact statement previously released by the DHS, tests of FAST involve instructing some people passing through the system to carry out a “disruptive act”. Ormerod questions whether such role-playing is representative of real terrorists, and also worries that both passengers and screeners will react differently when they know they’re being tested. “Fill the place with machines that go ping, and both screeners and passengers start doing things differently.”

In lab tests, the DHS has claimed accuracy rates of around 70%, but it remains unclear whether the system will perform better or worse in field trials. “The results are still being analysed, so we cannot yet comment on performance,” says John Verrico, a spokesman for the DHS. “Since this is an ongoing scientific study, tests will continue throughout coming months.”
Some scientists question whether there really are unique signatures for ‘malintent’ — the agency’s term for the intention to cause harm — that can be differentiated from the normal anxieties of travel. “Even having an iris scan or fingerprint read at immigration is enough to raise the heart rate of most legitimate travellers,” says Ormerod.

Steven Aftergood, a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, a think-tank based in Washington DC that promotes the use of science in policy-making, is pessimistic about the FAST tests. He thinks that they will produce a large proportion of false positives, frequently tagging innocent people as potential terrorists and making the system unworkable in a busy airport. “I believe that the premise of this approach — that there is an identifiable physiological signature uniquely associated with malicious intent — is mistaken. To my knowledge, it has not been demonstrated,” he says. “Without it, the whole thing seems like a charade.”

As for where precisely FAST is being tested, that for now remains a closely guarded secret. The DHS says that although the first round was completed at the end of March, more testing is in the works, and the agency is concerned that letting people know where the tests are taking place could affect the outcome. “I can tell you that it is not an airport, but it is a large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting,” says Verrico.
Source-http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110527/full/news.2011.323.html


29
May 11

School Bans High-Fives, Handshakes And Hugs

(Straits Times) A LONDON school has banned pupils from giving each other high-fives, handshakes – or even hugs.

Governors imposed the ‘no contact’ rule as they say it prevents fighting or bullying.

Dayna Chong, 15, was thrown into detention for cuddling a female pal at The Quest Academy, in Croydon, South London.

She said: ‘I was just hugging my friend in the morning to say hello and I had to sit on my own and miss out on break because of it.’

A parent said, ‘School is supposed to be where we start teaching our children how to be social – shaking hands, hugging, opening up. You need an embrace to comfort you when things go wrong. I’ve never heard of anything so crazy in my life.’

Another 15-year-old student got into trouble for giving a friend a high-five.

A spokesman for the school said: ‘Physical contact between students is not allowed because it is often associated with poor behaviour or bullying and can lead to fighting.
Source-http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/World/Story/STIStory_673618.html