Weekday NEWS to Comfort the Disturbed and Disturb the Comfortable.
FDIC closes small banks in Georgia, Illinois;
makes 15 US bank failures so far this year
AP - WashingtonPost.com
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators have closed small banks in Georgia and Illinois, bringing to 15 the number of banks that have failed so far this year.
The pace of bank closures has slowed sharply after ballooning following the financial crisis in 2008. By this time last year, 25 banks had failed.
On Friday the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shuttered Covenant Bank & Trust in Rock Spring, Ga., and Premier Bank, based in Wilmette, Ill. Each bank operated two branches.
Why Corporations Should Get Out of Cash, and Into Gold
By Drew Mason - Forbes.com
While gold bulls may be an endangered species among traders today, five developments have occurred since the start of the year that may pressure gold and silver prices higher. These are: 1) the Federal Reserve’s commitment to maintain negative real interest rates through 2014, 2) the Fed’s admission that it is abandoning its dual mandate and now embraces “more than 2%” inflation, 3) recurring reports that nations previously considered to be U.S. allies are breaking from American-friendly ranks to buy Iranian oil using gold instead of dollars, 4) for the first time in years a public miner, Endeavor Silver, announced it will withhold the majority of its production because it feels gold and silver prices are too low, and 5) gold bullishness is near five year lows as measured by U.S. Mint demand.
What Gold Sees, and Ben Bernanke Does Not
By Jerry Bowyer, Contributor - Forbes.com
Last August I wrote a short series for Forbes.com on valuation techniques for gold, (Some Thoughts For The Gold Bulls, The Case Against Buying Gold, and At $1,850/Ounce, Does Gold Still Glitter?) . At the time I concluded that gold prices at $1,850 an ounce had been far too high; then in a follow-up piece after a large decline in gold prices, I suggested that gold even at $1,700 was still above a proper valuation range. I argued that although it is widely held to be impossible to put a valuation on gold (it has no inherent value, it is completely emotionally driven, etc.), gold in fact has a value and the value can be calculated.
An Annotated Paul Brodsky Responds To Bernanke's Latest Attempt To Discredit Gold
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
Last week, Bernanke's first (of four) lecture at George Washington University was entirely dedicated to attempting to discredit gold and all that sound money stands for. The propaganda machine was so transparent that it hardly merited a response: those away from the MSM know the truth (which, simply said, is the "creation" of over $100 trillion in derivatives in just the first six months of 2011to a record $707 trillion - how does one spell stability?), while those who rely on mainstream media for the news would never see an alternative perspective - financial firms are not among the top three sources of advertising dollars for legacy media for nothing. Still, for those who feel like the Chairman's word need to be challenged, the following extensive and annotated reply by QBAMCO's Paul Brodsky makes a mockery of the Fed's full on assault on gold, and any attempts by the subservient media to defend it.
Tungsten-Filled 1 Kilo Gold Bar Found In The UK
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
The last time a story of Tungsten-filled gold appeared on the scene was just two years ago, and involved a 500 gram bar of gold full of tungsten, at the W.C. Heraeus foundry, the world's largest metal refiner and fabricator. It also became known that said "gold" bar originated from an unnamed bank. It is now time to rekindle the Tungsten Spirits with a report from ABC Bullion of Australia, which provides photographic evidence of a new gold bar that has been drilled out and filled with tungsten rods, this time not in Germany but in an unnamed city in the UK, where it was intercepted by a scrap metals dealer, and was supplied with its original certificate. The reason the bar attracted attention is that it was 2 grams underweight. Upon cropping it was uncovered that about 30-40% of the bar weight was tungsten.
Silver Manipulation Caught in the Act;
HFT Swamps NASDAQ with 75K SLV Sell Orders Per Second
BY CRIS SHERIDAN - FinancialSense.com
Ironically, just days after noted analyst Ted Butler came on the show to explain how silver and other markets are manipulated through the use of high frequency trading, the real-time data feed company, Nanex, showed how the silver ETF (SLV) was forced downwards by a rapid number of machine-generated quotes exceeding a rate of 75,000 per second. Before you start to think that this was merely a bunch of people hitting the sell button all at once, consider this: They were all launched within the space of 25 milliseconds — ten times faster than you and I can blink!
Dollar eases further, with eyes on interest rates
By Michael Kitchen, MarketWatch
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — The U.S. dollar maintained its slow ebb downward against major rivals, with attention fixed on interest-rate outlooks after a week of range-bound trading for foreign exchange majors.
In early Monday currency action in East Asia, the ICE dollar index DXY +0.08% traded at 79.291, down from 79.344 late Friday in North America.
The dollar index’s decline extended a trend from the previous week, with the greenback losing ground Friday as bond yields moved away from favoring the U.S. See report on Friday’s currency trade.
Brics’ move to unseat US dollar as trade currency
By Thandeka Gqubule and Andile Ntingi - CityPress.co.za
South Africa will this week take some initial steps to unseat the US dollar as the preferred worldwide currency for trade and investment in emerging economies.
Thus, the nation is expected to become party to endorsing the Chinese currency, the renminbi, as the currency of trade in emerging markets.
This means getting a renminbi-denominated bank account, in addition to a dollar account, could be an advantage for African businesses that seek to do business in the emerging markets.
Long-Term Bond Bubble Getting Ready to Burst: Ross
By: Jeff Cox - CNBC.com Senior Writer
Long-term government debt, which has provided some of the best market returns for decades, now poses the greatest threat to portfolios, investor Wilbur H. Ross told CNBC.
Ross added his voice to the warnings regarding Treasurys at the far end of theyield curve, cautioning that the inflationspecter is about to creep up and hammer the value of fixed-income government securities.
Saudi Arabia And China Team Up To Build A Gigantic New Oil Refinery - Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Petrodollar?
By Michael Snyder.com - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
The largest oil exporter in the Middle East has teamed up with the second largest consumer of oil in the world (China) to build a gigantic new oil refinery and the mainstream media in the United States has barely even noticed it. This mammoth new refinery is scheduled to be fully operational in the Red Sea port city of Yanbu by 2014. Over the past several years, China has sought to aggressively expand trade with Saudi Arabia, and China now actually imports more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States does. In February, China imported1.39 million barrels of oil per day from Saudi Arabia. That was 39 percent higher than last February. So why is this important? Well, back in 1973 the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil sold by Saudi Arabia would be denominated in U.S. dollars. This petrodollar system was adopted by almost the entire world and it has had great benefits for the U.S. economy. But if China becomes Saudi Arabia's most important trading partner, then why should Saudi Arabia continue to only sell oil in U.S. dollars? And if the petrodollar system collapses, what is that going to mean for the U.S. economy?
A Spike In U.S. Oil Production
Is About To Make It The New Middle East... CITI: The US Energy Industry Is Going To Grow So Fast,
It Will Spark A New 'Industrial Revolution'
By Simone Foxman - BusinessInsider.com
Oil and gas production in the United States and North America is going to skyrocket in the next 8 years due to strides in natural resource extraction, write Citi analysts in a report published yesterday. In fact, they went so far as to call North America "the new Middle East," at least in terms of oil production.
This—as well as a trend towards declining U.S. energy consumption — will completely transform both the domestic economy and the threats the U.S. will face in the future.
As gas went up, U.S. cut down by 3 percent in the past year
By Chris Kahn and Tom Krisher - WashingtonTimes.com
Americans have pumped less gas every week for the past year.
During those 52 weeks, gasoline consumption dropped by 4.2 billion gallons, or 3 percent, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. The decline is longer than a 51-week slide during the recession.
The main reason: higher gas prices. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.89, the highest ever for this time of year, and experts say the average could be $4.25 by late April. As a result, Americans are taking fewer trips to restaurants and shopping malls. When they take a vacation, they’re staying closer to home.
The American Recovery
By Mohamed A. El-Erian - Project-Syndicate.org
NEWPORT BEACH – The United States has gone through an arduous period of intervention and rehabilitation since the global financial crisis in 2008 sent it to the economic equivalent of the emergency room. It moved from the intensive-care unit to the recovery room and, just recently, was discharged from the hospital. The question now is whether the US economy is ready not just to walk, but also to run and sprint. The answer will powerfully influence global economic prospects.
Contagion Risk in Europe Is Back and Spain Is Top Worry
By: Antonia Oprita - Deputy News Editor, CNBC.com
Contagion risk in Europe is back on the agenda, not even a month after a debt swap that saw Greece sheltered from a messy default after a second liquidity-boosting operation from the European Central Bank.
Among the euro zone periphery countries, Spain is creeping up again as the big, sick member of the area and a recent rise in Spanish bond yields is a sign that its illness is unlikely to be cured soon, analysts told CNBC.com on Thursday.
U.S. Picks Physician to Head World Bank
By SUDEEP REDDY - WSJ.com
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama picked an expert in global health as the U.S. nominee to lead the World Bank, upending a seven-decade tradition of installing officials with experience in finance or diplomacy at the international development institution.
Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim, an American physician who was born in South Korea and raised in Iowa, built his career working on public-health threats such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in developing countries. He would become the first nonwhite president of the World Bank if he is approved, as expected, by the bank's board next month.
Trichet warns of nations’ ‘behavioral contagion’
By Greg Robb, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank, said Saturday that he is worried that controversial quantitative easing and other nontraditional steps that global central banks have taken since the financial crisis could be here to stay.
The Fed has purchased $2.3 trillion of securities since it cut interest rates to zero in December 2008 in a bid to bring down long-term interest rates and boost economic growth.
When Central Banks Fail
BY CLIF DROKE - FinancialSense.com
Ben Bernanke's smiling face on the cover of the April issue of The Atlantic is a testimony to how short America's collective memory is. While the Fed chief is feted as the savior of the global economy thanks to his monetary policy genius, it's apparent how quickly many have forgotten how his sluggish response to the brewing credit storm in 2006-2007 brought the U.S. to the edge of the abyss.
Keiser Report: Selective Amnesia
for Brokers & Murderers (E266)
In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss Irish stoicism and social ostracism, boycotts and ponzis and the banking practices of Chuckie. In the second half of the show Max talks to independent journalist, Lars Schall, about his recently published investigation into insider trading around the 9-11 terrorist attack as well as his pursuit of Germany's elusive gold reserves.
Wall Street Really Does Enjoy a Different Set of Rules
Than the Rest of Us
by Adam - ChrisMartenson.com
Gretchen Morgenson has earned a Pulitzer-winning career from exposing abuse and conflicts of interest on Wall Street. In this interview, she confirms that there is indeed a second set of rules enjoyed by our elite financial institutions, largely unfettered by the constraints that apply to the rest of us.
Consequences for failure and fraud are very different under this second set of rules -- in fact, they're practically rewarded. Accountability, by all prudent measures, has become non-existent. The extraordinary measures the U.S. deployed to deal with the great contraction in 2008 only served to exacerbate these imbalances.
The Fed Is Losing The "Race To Debase"
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
As we pointed out about a month ago, in "While You Were Sleeping, Central Banks Flooded The World In Liquidity" as the world was focused on headlines whether or not the Fed would step up as it always does when the market is sliding, and unleash the monetary floodgates, it was not Ben Bernanke, buteveyrone else that hit CTRL+P and took the place of the Fed, of note the primary central banking peers among the Final Four - the ECB, the BOE and the BOJ. And why not: after all the hope was that since electronic money is electronic money, and can be moved from point A to point B at the push of a button, it would be used primarily to reflate stocks around the world, but mostly where the path has least resistance - the US. What was not accounted for was that money would also be used to inflate commodities such as oil - a key factor when delaying further US-based easing in an election year.
Fed's Lockhart: Economy Appears to Be Gaining Traction
By Jeffrey Sparshott - WSJ.com
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart Friday said the central bank must be careful not to tighten monetary policy prematurely or inadvertently.
"Much of our communication has been oriented to trying very hard not to create misinterpretations of our message," Lockhart told students at Georgetown University.
Fed warned not to keep rates too low for too long
By Greg Robb, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Two experts on monetary policy warned Saturday that the Federal Reserve should be wary of keeping monetary policy too easy for too long.
With Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke looking on from the audience, Masaaki Shirakawa, the governor of the Bank of Japan, and Jaime Caruana, the general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, said extremely easy policy is appropriate in response to a crisis but the costs of the policy rise as time goes by.
Why Fair Trade?
By Robert Skidelsky - Project-Syndicate.org
LONDON – Historically, the term "fair trade" has meant many things. The Fair Trade League was founded in Britain in 1881 to restrict imports from foreign countries. In the United States, businesses and labor unions use "fair trade" laws to construct what economist Joseph Stiglitz calls "barbed-wire barriers to imports." These so called "anti-dumping" laws allow a company that suspects a foreign rival of selling a product below cost to request that the government impose special tariffs to protect it from "unfair" competition.
By Rich Galen - PatriotPost.us
Gasoline prices have climbed above $4 per gallon for regular at too many places across the nation. We know this because President Barack Obama has embarked on a four-day blitz to demonstrate his concern for high gasoline prices.
According to the U.S Energy Information Administration the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the country is $3.87 which is up about 30 cents from a year ago.
THE FEDEX INDICATOR
By Steven Hayward - PowerlineBlog.com
The economy is supposedly improving, but even if we took the falling unemployment rate at face value, there are too many signs that something is wrong. There are too many anomalies. I noted a few weeks ago the anomaly of collapsing gasoline and diesel fuel consumption, which started well before the current run-up in pump prices that is causing Obama to contort himself in unnatural ways. Falling fuel consumption ahead of a price spike isn't consistent with a growing economy.
New Home Sales Unexpectedly Slip 1.6% in February
By Reuters - CNBC.com
New U.S. single-family home sales fell in February, but a jump in prices to their highest level in eight months kept hopes alive of a recovery in the housing market.
The Commerce Department said on Friday sales slipped 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 313,000-unit annual rate. January's sales pace was revised down to 318,000 units from the previously reported 321,000 units.
Sales for November and December were revised up a bit.
How Housing Affordability
Can Falter Even as House Prices Decline
By Charles Hugh Smith - OfTwoMinds.com
That the U.S. housing market is still in a post-bubble slump is no secret, as revealed by this chart courtesy of streettalklive.com: note that despite unprecedented intervention, including the complete socialization of the U.S. mortgage market (99% of all mortgages are guaranteed by the Federal government) and the socialization of subprime market for poor credit risks (3% down and easy credit from FHA), this chart punctures the happy-talk illusions of a rebound in housing.
A Bailout by Another Name
By GRETCHEN MORGENSON - NYTimes.com
The acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Mr. DeMarco is a soft-spoken, career public servant — and under fire. In the thankless job of conservator for the loss-ridden mortgage finance giants, he has a duty to ensure that the companies operate in the best interests of the taxpayers who own them. That means working to keep a lid on the companies' losses, which now total $183 billion.
But in recent weeks, Mr. DeMarco has come under increasing pressure to chuck his obligation to taxpayers and make Fannie and Freddie write down principal on mortgages held by troubled borrowers. He says, with reason, that such a program would run counter to his legal obligation to pursue only those activities that pose the least cost to taxpayers.
Bank of America hopes underwater homeowners
become renters to avoid foreclosure
By Kenneth R. Harney - WashingtonPost.com
If you're seriously underwater and headed to foreclosure, what would you say if the lender suddenly offered you the chance to remain in your home as a tenant for an extended period plus have your mortgage debt wiped away? Would you say yes?
Or would you instead conclude: Hey, why pay rent? It's going to take the bank more than a year to complete the foreclosure and evict us, so why not just stay put and save some money?
One of the country's largest banks is about to find out which choice significant numbers of distressed owners make in response to a new foreclosure-avoidance plan it calls "mortgage-to-lease."
Bernanke: Fed didn't cause housing bubble
By Annalyn Censky @CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Federal Reserve isn't to blame for the housing bubble, Ben Bernanke told a lecture hall full of college students Thursday.
But the students wouldn't let the Fed Chairman off the hook.
"The slides on the housing bubble show how clearly one thing led to another," said Daniel Lippman, a senior at George Washington University. "When you were observing the economy in the 2000s, what did you think would happen to rising house prices and the housing bubble?"
Colleges slashing tuition, offering 3-year degrees
By Blake Ellis @CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A growing number of colleges are taking extreme measures to attract more students by cutting tuition or speeding up the rate at which they graduate.
While some private colleges are introducing double-digit percentage cuts in tuition or freezing prices altogether, other schools are offering three-year degree programs or four-year graduation guarantees.
In part, these schools are responding to consumers' concerns about the rising cost of college, said Tony Pals, spokesman for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. "These types of initiatives have been used to some degree in the past, but have become increasingly prevalent since the economic downturn -- and we expect to continue to see them spread," he said.
For long-unemployed, hiring bias rears its head
By Stephen Singer - WashingtonTimes.com
HARTFORD, Conn. — Few job seekers who fail to get an interview know the reason, but Michelle Chesney-Offutt said a recruiter told her why she lost the chance to pitch for an information technology position.
The 54-year-old, who had been laid off from her IT job in Illinois, said the recruiter who responded to her online resume two years ago liked her qualifications and was set to schedule an interview. But he backed away, she said, when he learned she had been out of work for 13 months.
Ruling on health care case hard to predict Conservative justices could side either way
By Paige Winfield Cunningham - The Washington Times
A curious thing about this week's Supreme Courthearings on President Obama's health care law is that while nobody doubts how the four Democrat-appointed justices will decide, there is no such certainty on how the Republican appointees will rule in the case, which will go a long way toward defining the scope and limits of government power in the 21st century.
For the past 70 years, liberal-minded justices have taken more uniform views of how far federal power extends while the lines are much more jumbled when it comes to conservative jurisprudence, court watchers say.
The 4 Best Legal Arguments Against ObamaCare Why the president's sweeping health care overhaul should be struck down by the Supreme Court.
By Damon W. Root - Reason.com
When a reporter asked then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) back in October 2009 "where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?", Pelosi's response was to dismiss both the reporter and the question. "Are you serious?" she sneered. Nadeam Elshami, Pelosi's communications director, later amplified his boss's response, tellingCNS News, "You can put this on the record. That is not a serious question."
Don Berwick looks ahead on health care
By Sarah Kliff - WashingtonPost.com
Don Berwick spent 18 months as the administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, making him the point man for the Obama administration's implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He began in the post in July 2010 and resigned last November, in the face of Republican pledges to block his nomination in the Senate. Republican legislators seized on remarks he made praising Britain's National Health Service as an "example" for the United States to follow. Many accused him of supporting the "rationing" of services, a claim Berwick has rejected.
On Friday, the two-year-anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Berwick announced he would be joining the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow. His position at the liberal think tank will include, among other responsibilities, defending the health-care law and ensuring its successful implementation.
As Supreme Court justices review health-care law,
stakes will be hard to ignore
By Robert Barnes - WashingtonPost.com
The Supreme Court on Monday joins the nation's vitriolic debate over the landmark health-care law and the limits of federal power. And though thousands of pages of legal arguments about the Constitution's history and the court's precedents have landed on justices' desks, the outcome may also hinge on less tangible factors.
Public opinion. The nation's volatile political climate. The court's self-consciousness about its own partisan divide. And the pivotal role it plays in deciding the nation's thorniest social issues.
Obamacare's Contract Problem
By George Will - PatriotPost.us
WASHINGTON -- On Monday the Supreme Court begins three days of oral arguments concerning possible -- actually, probable and various -- constitutional infirmities in Obamacare. The justices have received many amicus briefs, one of which merits special attention because of the elegant scholarship and logic with which it addresses an issue that has not been as central to the debate as it should be.
Health reform at 2:
Why American health care will never be the same
by Sarah Kliff - WashingtonPost.com
In February 2009, Michael Zucker told a group of high-paid surgeons something they did not want to hear: The way they earned a salary was about to change.
Zucker is the chief development officer at Baptist Health System, a five-hospital network in San Antonio. For 37 common surgeries, such as hip replacements and pacemaker implants, it would soon collect "bundled" Medicare payments. Traditionally, hospitals and doctors had collected separate fees for each step of such procedures; now they would get a lump sum for treating everything related to the patient's condition.
The Plan for The United States with Alex Jones
Alex also runs down the latest news, including Ron Paul's "Give Me Liberty" moneybomb, the strange "mini-quakes" in the midwest, and Sarkozy's call to lock up people who dare surf "extremist" websites on the web.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recall:
Big money fuels small-government fight
By Marc Fisher - WashingtonPost.com
MADISON, Wis. — Every day at the cutting and sewing business he runs with his father, Ross Brown listened to Glenn Beck rail on the radio against Big Government, Big Labor and Big Money. In his years of middays with Beck, Brown had morphed from apolitical adolescence to college student with his own talk show on the campus radio station and on to businessman with 15 employees and not enough money to offer them health insurance.
Then, one day three years ago, at the apex of the debate over President Obama's health-care plan, Brown heard a caller to Beck's show bring the fiery rhetoric to a screeching halt: Enough complaining, she said. What could she actually do to change politics?
10 Reasons Why Nothing You Do On The Internet
Will EVER Be Private Again
By Michael Snyder - EndOfTheAmericanDream.com
The Internet is rapidly being transformed into a Big Brother control grid where privacy rights are being systematically strangled to death. The control freaks that run things have become absolutely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that you do on the Internet. One thing that you can count on is that nothing you do on the Internet will ever be private again. In fact, if you are obsessed with privacy then the last place you want to be is on the Internet. Most Americans have absolutely no idea how far Internet surveillance has advanced in the past few years. At this point, it would be hard to imagine any place less private than the Internet. Do not ever put anything on the Internet that you would not want the authorities or your employer to hold you accountable for. Basically, the Internet is creating a permanent dossier on each one of us, and we contribute to this process by freely posting gigantic volumes of information about ourselves on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The Internet is the greatest tool for mass communication that the world has perhaps ever seen, and it gives average citizens the ability to communicate with each other like never before, but there is also a downside to using the Internet. Everything that we do on the Internet is being watched, monitored and recorded and there is no longer any such thing as Internet privacy. If you think that you still have any privacy on the Internet, then you are either ignorant of what is going on or you are being delusional.
Major quake rattles Chile but no serious damage
By Alexandra Ulmer
(Reuters) - A major quake hit central Chile on Sunday, rattling buildings in the capital and triggering a coastal evacuation, but there was no serious damage and big mines in the world's No. 1 copper producer were operating normally.
Residents in Santiago fled their homes as the tremor rattled television sets, kitchen cabinets and tables, and a mayor in the town of Parral in south-central Chile told local radio a 74-year-old woman died of a heart attack due to the quake. There were no other immediate reports of serious casualties.
Homeland Security's morale is at code red
By Joe Davidson - WashingtonPost.com
If the homeland's security were dependent on employee morale, we'd be in big trouble.
Fortunately, the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are committed to the agency's mission, even as the agency fails to inspire them.
You know things are bad for workers when a bipartisan congressional hearing is called to examine a department's drooping spirit. It ranks 31 among 33 large agencies in The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey published by the Partnership for Public Service. (The Partnership has a content-sharing relationship with The Washington Post.)
Hippies head for Noah's Ark:
Queue here for rescue aboard alien spaceship Thousands of New Agers descend on mountain
they see as haven from December's apocalypse
By OLIVER PICKUP - INdependent.co.uk
A mountain looming over a French commune with a population of just 200 is being touted as a modern Noah's Ark when doomsday arrives – supposedly less than nine months from now.
A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers – or esoterics, as locals call them – have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.
Saving the Syrians
By Gareth Evans - Project-Syndicate.org
CANBERRA – Despite the United Nations Security Council's belated endorsement of UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan's peacemaking mission in Syria, confidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will cooperate in any serious or sustained way remains low, and calls for external military intervention continue. As Syria's crisis goes from bad to worse, those urging armed force are invoking both the tragedy of inaction in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990's, and the triumph of decisive international action in Libya last year.
This trend bears watching; it's happening here, too In South Korean classrooms,
digital textbook revolution meets some resistance
By Chico Harlan - WashingtonPost.com
SEOUL — Five years ago, South Korea mapped out a plan to transform its education system into the world's most cutting-edge. The country would turn itself into a "knowledge powerhouse," one government report declared, breeding students "equipped for the future." These students would have little use for the bulky textbooks familiar to their parents. Their textbooks would be digital, accessible on any screen of their choosing. Their backpacks would be much lighter.
By setting out to swap traditional textbooks for digital ones, the chief element of its plan for transformation, South Korea tried to anticipate the future — and its vision has largely taken shape with the global surge of tablets, smartphones and e-book readers.
Iran planned to bomb Israeli ship in Suez Canal Egyptian paper Al-Ahram reports that two Egyptian citizens received instructions from Iranian agents to attack an Israeli ship, and offered a third man 50 million Egyptian pounds to carry out the act.
By Avi Issacharoff - Haaretz.com
Iran had planned to bomb an Israeli ship while it crossed the Suez Canal, the prosecution in Egypt's state security court said, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Saturday.
According to the report, two Egyptians were recently arrested and investigated for allegedly planning an attack on an Israeli ship in the Suez Canal.
The investigation of the two found that they had received their instructions from Iranian agents, and that the two asked a third person, by the name of Mohamed Zakri, to carry out the act in exchange for 50 million Egyptian pounds.