XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Large protests grip Israel - Hundreds of thousands demand new era of social justice -

Large protests grip Israel - Hundreds of thousands demand new era of social justice - 




Massive protests centered on rental prices and scarce public housing continues to roil Israel as the movement rolled into its fourth week. This weekend saw the largest demonstrations yet. 
Police said about 320,000 people took to the nation’s streets Saturday night demanding an end to government collusion with special interests, increased public housing and an era of social justice. A quarter of a million people blocked off the streets of Tel Aviv, a city of about 1.2 million inhabitants. Protests took place in fifteen Israeli cities.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Jerusalem residence was surrounded by about 30,000 protesters Saturday night, had spent much of the weekend issuing statements diminishing the significance of the protests and tamping down figures of expected participants.
After the protests Saturday night, the primine minister and his spokesman found themselves after the fact accusing the media of inflating the number of demonstrators.  
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Town on the brink seeks private loans from residents...- budget of just over $3 million, with a $420,000 budget mishap? -

Town on the brink seeks private loans from residents...- budget of just over $3 million, with a $420,000 budget mishap? - 


Oakridge is facing a serious cash shortage after its bank statement showed the City had $420,000 less than planned, prompting a city planning commissioner to solicit private loans from citizens.
George Custer began seeking “investors” soon after the City acknowledged it would be laying off eight city employees, about one quarter of the staff, to fill the budget gap, saying it was a win-win for the City and the citizens.
Custer is a volunteer planning commissioner for the City of Oakridge and claims he was not working on behalf of the City. Instead, he was soliciting loans for the City as a “concerned citizen.”
Both the city administrator and the mayor knew about the plan and considered it an option to keep the City from defaulting on its payments and going into bankruptcy.
“That was a plan B in case other things didn’t work” said Donald Hampton, City of Oakridge mayor.
Custer says that half a dozen citizens have agreed to give the City a loan if a loan from the bank does not materialize, but the list of citizens will remain anonymous for now.
Not all of the citizens solicited to loan the City money were happy. Eddie Roberts, an 87-year-old man, and well-known figure in the City of Oakridge and Westfir, says Custer, a man he has never met, asked him to loan the City money, to which he replied no.
“Why would I loan them money if they can’t even balance their checkbook each month?” asked Roberts.
The City recently discovered it had far less money than officials thought. According to Gordon Zimmerman, the city administrator, the adopted budget has the City about $420,000 richer than it actually is.
The shortfall wasn’t discovered until the City become aware it did not have enough money to pay all of its bills, leading to the realization that there might be something amiss in the City’s finances.
For a city with a general fund budget of just over $3 million, a $420,000 budget mishap is a big deal.
According to Hampton and Zimmerman, the responsibility of reconciling the City’s bank account to the budget falls on Ruth Ann Plumlee, the City’s finance director, although both acknowledged the oversight ultimately fell on the city administrator.
“I am not casting blame on anyone but myself,” said Zimmerman.
The City of Oakridge has not completed an audit since 2008, something Zimmerman blames on “the difficulty in making the numbers work.”
The 2009 audit currently in process has run into a number of problems, resulting in delays and the auditor’s refusal to sign off on the audit. Zimmerman says the auditors have had a number of questions and issues over the years that needed to be resolved before the audit could be completed.
At issue now is a $67,000 temporary account with insufficient documentation, and thus the 2009 and any subsequent audits have yet to be completed.
This isn’t this first time auditors have said the City has insufficient documentation. In the 2008 audit, auditors noted a total of eight “significant deficiencies”:
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China tells U.S. ‘good old days’ of borrowing are over -

China tells U.S. ‘good old days’ of borrowing are over - 


China bluntly criticized the United States on Saturday one day after the superpower’s credit rating was downgraded, saying the “good old days” of borrowing were over.
Standard & Poor’s cut the U.S. long-term credit rating from top-tier AAA by a notch to AA-plus on Friday over concerns about the nation’s budget deficits and climbing debt burden.
China — the United States’ biggest creditor — said Washington only had itself to blame for its plight and called for a new stable global reserve currency.
“The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone,” China’s official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.
After a week which saw $2.5-trillion wiped off global markets, the move deepened investors’ concerns of an impending recession in the United States and over the euro zone crisis.
Finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations will confer by telephone later on Saturday or on Sunday, a senior European diplomatic source said.
The source said the credit rating downgrade had added a global dimension on top of the euro zone debt issue, raising the need for international coordination.
“The G7 will confer by telephone. It’s not yet confirmed whether it will be in one stage or in two stages, tonight and tomorrow,” the source said.
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Washington’s New Four-Letter Word - Gone is the word “debt.” That’s so last week. Now the word is “JOBS” -

Washington’s New Four-Letter Word - Gone is the word “debt.” That’s so last week. Now the word is “JOBS” - 




There’s a new four-letter buzzword in Washington, and everyone wants a piece of it.
Gone is the word “debt.” That’s so last week. Now the word is “jobs.”


Jobs—or the recent lack of them—have been President Barack Obama’s political Achilles, with unemployment hovering over 9 percent. He plans to spend the next few weeks describing how to create them. Republicans, meanwhile, plan to use jobs as a political shield to try to block everything from new taxes to environmental regulations.
The reason is simple: There aren’t enough jobs in the economy to support the recovery, leaving investors and workers fearful of a double-dip recession.
The Labor Department released the latest round of employment statistics on Friday, and Wall Street got a tiny dose of good news with 117,000 jobs added to the private sector in July. But the unemployment rate stubbornly stayed above 9 percent, leaving both political parties to scramble for a new message now that the debt crisis is resolved.
Obama is making the rounds to convey the message that’s he’s on it. On Friday, it was boosting veteran jobs at Washington’s Navy Yard where he lamented that unemployment was “still too high.” Next Tuesday it’ll be green jobs, touting his mileage standards for saving shipping companies big money—and in effect, jobs. And the week after, the president will embark on a campaign-style bus trip through the Midwest, billed as a “listening tour” for unemployed Americans.
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ANTS turn all colours of the rainbow in these amazing photos, taken as they eat specially dyed sugar drops -



ANTS turn all colours of the rainbow in these amazing photos, taken as they eat specially dyed sugar drops -




Dr Mohamed Babu set up the shots after his wife Shameem noticed that ants turned white when they sipped spilled milk.
The scientist mixed sugar drops with edible colours red, green, blue and yellow and placed them in his garden to attract the insects.
As the eager ants scoffed the sweet treats the colour of the sugar they had chosen could be seen in their transparent abdomens. Some varied their choice, creating different colour combinations inside them.

Dad-of-three Dr Babu, 53, said in Mysore, southern India: "The ants gain the colours as they sip the liquid. The secret is a paraffin base, which prevents the drops collapsing.
"Curiously, they preferred light colours, yellow and green. Dark colours had no takers until there was no room left beside the lighter ones."

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6 Mysteries of Jupiter NASA’s New Spacecraft May Solve -

6 Mysteries of Jupiter NASA’s New Spacecraft May Solve - 



Juno around Jupiter


A plucky spacecraft named Juno began a long journey to Jupiter today from Florida at 12:25 p.m. EDT despite a small anomaly with its rocket ride and a boat wandering into the launch zone.
Named after the mythical Roman goddess and wife of Jupiter, Juno will take about five years to reach the gas giant and slip into orbit. It packs a suite of scientific instruments to study Jupiter, in addition to someLego figurines.
Once there, NASA expects the spacecraft to spend a year making at least 32 pole-to-pole orbits before intense radiation bakes its circuits.
“From Juno we’re going to go learn about Jupiter so we can start to put together the pieces of how the solar system was made,” said planetary scientist and mission leader Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in a video. “Jupiter’s got the first clues for us.”
Jupiter orbits about 400 million miles away from Earth and is thought to be one of the first planets that formed in the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.
If nothing goes awry during the spacecraft’s trip, Juno will be the 10th spacecraft to visit the gas giant, but only the second to stick around for more than a flyby. The Galileo is currently the sole spacecraft to have orbited Jupiter.
Those missions racked up some serious knowledge of Jupiter, but brought up perhaps more questions than they answered. In this gallery are six mysteries Juno may resolve before its radiation-induced death.


Gas giant planet formation


How Did Jupiter Form?

Jupiter is the sun’s firstborn planet. It is also the biggest and most massive at roughly 318 times heavier than Earth.
“If we can understand how Jupiter was made, that helps us understand how the whole solar system was made,” said space scientist David McComas of Southwest Research Institute and member of the Juno mission. “It’s getting really interesting with the discovery of planets around other sunlike stars.”
Some models suggest our massive protector formed further away from the sun, then migrated inward. Others posit the gas giant was made about where it is today, and that comets provided its water.
Measuring Jupiter’s water content will provide the best clues as to where the planet formed.


Jupiter clouds Galileo


How Much Water Does Jupiter Have?

When the Galileo spacecraft’s probe plowed through Jupiter’s thick clouds, its instruments looked for the presence of water. For the most part, the clouds it measured were bone-dry -- much like the ones above.
“That doesn’t mean the whole planet is like that, however, because it’s one data point,” McComas said. “It’s like if you landed on Earth in the middle of an ocean or desert and determined the entire planet was like that one spot.”
Juno won’t launch a probe like Galileo. Instead, it will peer deep into Jupiter’s clouds using radiometers able to measure temperatures. Those temperatures will provide indirect clues as to where the water is and how much is present.
With those measurements made, pieces of other mysteries should come together.
“Water is a big part of answering some of the how-did-Jupiter-form mystery and, as far as we know, also super important for life,” McComas said. “How Jupiter got its water will help tell us how Earth got its water.”


Jupiter cloud layers


What is Going On Beneath Jupiter’s Surface?

When the Galileo probe fell through Jupiter’s atmosphere, it didn’t get very far before it stopped transmitting data — about 22 bar (1 bar is the pressure of the atmosphere weighing down on Earth at sea level).
Juno will monitor vast swaths of the planet from afar and should be able to peer at subsurface layers as deep as 100 bar.
The spacecraft will use its radiometers -- also used to measure water content -- to provide the deepest and most complete picture to date of Jupiter’s swirling layers of clouds, perhaps even giant thunderstorms first spied by the Galileo spacecraft (below).


jupiter-juno-cores-nasa


Does Jupiter Have a Rocky Core?

Models of Jupiter’s interior abound. Some have rocky cores about 10 times the mass of Earth, but others portray the gas giant without one.
“A lot of these models aren’t constrained by actual observations, so it’s a bit of a guessing game,” McComas said. “We should finally get a handle on this with Juno.”
During Juno’s elliptically shaped orbits, slight wobbles in the spacecraft’s movement should provide clues about the core’s existence and size.
“The spacecraft gets pulled and pushed by Jupiter’s gravity field, and we can sense that through the communication system back to Earth,” Bolton said.


jupiter-magnetism-nasa


Where Does Jupiter’s Magnetism Originate?

Jupiter has an intense and far-reaching magnetic field, the north and south poles of which flip about every 11 years.
Exactly what drives the magnetic powerhouse and how deep inside the planet it originates, however, is unknown.
“We generally know it takes a charged fluid moving inside the planet to do this,” McComas said. “Jupiter spins very quickly, about once every 10 hours, and almost all mass of the solar system [not in the sun] is locked up inside the planet.”
That fast rotation means a lot of energy rotating cells of hydrogen fluid, and Juno will look for them by mapping the magnetic field in 3-D using a magnetometer.


jupiter-aurora-nasa


What’s Up With Jupiter’s Auroras?

Jupiter has the most energetic auroras in the solar system at both of its poles, thanks to its powerful and extensive magnetic field. Yet only brief and glancing peeks at the auroras have been possible.
Juno will swoop directly above the poles to photograph them in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. It will also “taste” the plasma particles that collide with gas near Jupiter’s poles and are responsible for the light shows there.
“We’ll look directly down on the auroras, plus we’ll be able to measure the particles that follow the magnetic fields lines and create them,” McComas said. “It’s going to be very cool to be able to do that.”
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Leon Panetta Hypes al Qaeda to Ward Off More Defense Cuts -

Leon Panetta Hypes al Qaeda to Ward Off More Defense Cuts - 

Speaking at Offutt Air Base, Nebraska -- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has disconcertingly started his tenure fear-mongering about al Qaeda as a justification not to go beyond the President's proposed $400 billion cuts to the Defense Department over ten years.  

From a report in the Omaha World-Herald:


The military can handle this week's debt ceiling deal that slices nearly $400 billion from projected defense spending over the next decade, Panetta told the crowd.
What the military can't handle, he said, is $600 billion in additional defense cuts that would be spread out over the next decade. Those cuts could be automatically triggered as part of the debt ceiling deal if a congressional "super committee" deadlocks on the way to further cut spending or raise revenues.
Those cuts would "seriously weaken the defense of this country," Panetta said. "That's the last thing we need to do."
The report went on to say about Panetta's comments:
He ticked off a list of potential dangers to the United States, beginning with al-Qaida.
The terrorist network is weakened, Panetta told the crowd, and lacks its longtime leader after the Central Intelligence Agency -- then led by Panetta -- helped locate and kill Osama bin Laden in May.
Panetta called the joint military operation that killed bin Laden, "one of the proudest moments I've had" but warned that the group bin Laden founded is still bent on harming Americans.
It seems that one week, al Qaeda is on the run and "near collapse" and the next, al Qaeda remains the reason why the US needs to continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a Pentagon designed to fight the wrong wars.
This is irresponsible hyping of a threat to justify massive defense spending during a period of real fiscal stress.  

Leon Panetta needs to get to work transforming the Pentagon and needs to elevate his game -- learning how to talk about vital national security deliverables in terms of deeds done and future strategy rather than trying to convince increasingly skeptical Americans that national security is purely a function of the dollars spent.



Read more -
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/08/leon-panetta-hypes-al-qaeda-to-ward-off-more-defense-cuts/243198/

U.S. Will Roll Out QE3 After S&P Rating Cut according to an adviser to China’s central bank -

U.S. Will Roll Out QE3 After S&P Rating Cut according to an adviser to China’s central bank - 




The U.S. Federal Reserve will extend its program to purchase the nation’s debts and stabilize long- term interest rates after Standard & Poor’s downgraded its credit rating, according to an adviser to China’s central bank.
The Fed will roll out quantitative easing 3, a tactic to purchase treasuries, Li Daokui, an adviser to the People’s Bank of China, wrote in his microblog weibo.com. Institutional investors will be forced to sell long-term U.S. debt, which may cause financial turbulence, he wrote.
S&P lowered the U.S. rating one level to AA+ from AAA for the first time yesterday while keeping the outlook at “negative,” citing the nation’s political process and criticizing lawmakers for failing to cut spending enough to reduce record budget deficits. The rating may be cut to AA within two years if spending reductions are lower than agreed to, said the New York-based rating firm.
The U.S. must address its “structural debt problems” and ensure the safety of China’s dollar assets, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary today. China is the biggest holder of U.S. debts.
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13 Reasons Why The U.S. Is Now OFFICIALLY BANKRUPT -

13 Reasons Why The U.S. Is Now OFFICIALLY BANKRUPT - 


ATTENTION IDIOTS IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA – Stop The Budget Lies – There Are NO Cuts – House Passes Bill To INCREASE Spending By $7 Trillion Over The Next 10 Years
Lies, Damn Lies And Government Budgets
I am so pissed off by the misreporting I could spit Ken Lewis hairballs.
1) Corporate journalists and financial pundits know NOTHING about budgets.
2) The Boehner led House passed legislation this evening that INCREASES spending by $7 TRILLION over the next ten years versus a baseline budget that would have increased spending by $9.5 TRILLION over the same period.
3) CBO said today that LESS than 2% of the decrease in the GROWTH of spending will come before the 2012 elections. The remainder come after the election.
4) Defense and war machine spending will grow at 3% per year instead of 4% per year.
5) This was nothing but an agreement to agree at a later date to look for reductions in planned spending GROWTH.
6) A Super Congress will decide on a mix of tax increases and reductions in planned spending growth to meet the targets at a later date.
7) No one in Congress even considered Ron Paul’s simple plan, now endorsed by Time Magazine as well as liberal economist Dean Baker, to wipe out $1.6 trillion in fake debt owned by the Federal Reserve. Debt that we owe to ourselves, that is entirely legal to wipe away.
8) CBO says under this plan, the national debt will INCREASE from $14.4 TRILLION currently to more than $25 TRILLION over the next 10 years.
9) The assumption for #8 above assumes the economy grows at 3% per year over the next 10 years, and that Treasury interest rates stay at historic lows.  When rates increase, and bet your life that they will, interest on the debt will increase and so will annual deficits, leading to a national debt much higher than the $25 TRILLION that CBO estimates.
10) Regarding Treasury rates and interest on the debt, get educated about a concept called ‘DURATION RISK.’  Turbo Geithner and his MENSA bed-fellows at Treasury have chosen to finance the great majority of recent and future borrowing in short-term bills, which means that they have to be rolled over frequently.  This is perhaps the least-discussed and most dangerous issue related to Treasury debt.
11) If S&P or Moody’s has the sack to downgrade the U.S. AAA rating, a Sovereign CDS default will be triggered and Global Financial Armageddon will be unleashed.
12) The bill passed by Boehner tonight was the BEST they could do after 6 weeks of fighting.
13) Due to #12, the United States is officially fucked.
Thank you and good night.


Read more -
http://www.blacklistednews.com/13_Reasons_Why_The_U.S._Is_Now_OFFICIALLY_BANKRUPT/15073/0/38/38/Y/M.html

IPad's Secret Abilities - a screen reader to read e-mails, voice directions, and zoom in on text -

IPad's Secret Abilities - a screen reader to read e-mails, voice directions, and zoom in on text - 


Jonathan Avila uses his iPad in ways most people might not realize are possible: The device reads e-mail to him while he’s traveling to work, tells him which way to walk when he is lost, and even lets him know if there’s a sidewalk on the other side of the street. Avila needs these features because he’s visually impaired.
"Work bought it as a testing device, but I’ve claimed it as my own since it makes me more efficient," says Avila, chief accessibility officer for SSB Bart Group, a firm that helps companies implement technology for people with disabilities.
Apple (AAPL) has added features that make the iPhone and iPad easily accessible, not only to visually impaired people but also to those with hearing loss and other challenges. The iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, for example, come with VoiceOver, a screen reader for those who can’t read print, as well as FaceTime, video-calling software for people who communicate using sign language. Apple has said that iOS 5—due later this year—will contain improvements to VoiceOver and LED flash and custom vibration settings to let users see and feel when someone is calling.
More such devices as the iPad and iPhone will make their way into the workplace to assist people with physical challenges in the next five years. Disability and aging go hand-in-hand: As baby boomers work past age 65, companies will increasingly face this issue. The incidence of disability in the workplace is 19.4 percent at age 45 and rises to about 50 percent by age 70, according to Jennifer Woodside, chief executive officer of the Disability Training Alliance. Those disabilities can include vision and hearing loss, issues with mobility and dexterity, and learning and cognitive challenges—as well as communications problems.
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Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, the first woman to be designated a Maestra Tequilera - makes tequila $275 Casa Dragones -

Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, the first woman to be designated a Maestra Tequilera - makes tequila $275 Casa Dragones - 


The antique yacht Freedom floated in the Hudson River behind Chelsea Piers, promising good food and expensive tequila.
Sister ship to the presidential yacht Sequoia, Freedom is a 104-foot fantail motor yacht built by Mathis Yacht Building Co., of Camden, New Jersey, in 1926. The work of famed boat designer John Trumpy, the craft was completely restored in 2009 and can sleep 10 guests in 5 state rooms.
One of its co-owners is Bob Pittman, chairman of media and entertainment platforms at Clear Channel Communications Inc. and — much more to the point — co-founder of Casa Dragones tequila.
I was on this nautical adventure for a tasting of Casa Dragones, a fairly recent entry into the high-end category occupied by brands such as Don Julio 1942, Gran Patron Burdeos and Partida Elegante. These can sell for as much as $500 a bottle. Casa Dragones retails for $275 and can be found at Crush and Astor Wines.
The brand’s other co-founder and chief executive officer is Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, the first woman to be designated a Maestra Tequilera.
Gonzalez explains. "It is a distinction awarded by the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters, which is recognized by the Tequila Regulatory Council. It is the highest distinction you can get in the industry."
As blue-point oysters disappeared, she spoke about her entry into this macho enclave.

FEW FEMALES

"Its daunting when you are first coming into the industry, when you are in meetings and there are not a lot of females," she said. "As time went by it was really clear that the common denominator was passion for the industry. That’s how I confronted it. I didn’t confront the industry from a female point of view, I confronted it from a passion point of view."
The platinum-colored spirit is officially designated as a 100 percent blue agave joven, or young, tequila. It’s produced in small batches in Tequila, Mexico. The name comes from a small cavalry unit called the Dragones that "started one of the movements that eventually led to Mexican independence," according to company literature.
In the glass, its aroma combines floral and citrus. The first sip tastes of vanilla and spicy fruit, with a finish that’s clean and warm with a super-smooth throat feel.
As the Freedom chugged its way down the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty with her torch held high above her head was an inspiring sight. Mimicking her stately pose with a Riedel glass of Casa Dragones in my hand, I raised a toast to the colossal queen of New York Harbor. "To your huddled masses. You would love this stuff."
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Looking for a Safe Haven? Take a Look at Consumer Staples -

Looking for a Safe Haven? Take a Look at Consumer Staples - 

With markets reacting negatively to concerns about a weakening U.S. economy, investors might do well to look at the consumer staples sector, according to Standard & Poor's equity analyst Thomas Graves



Graves said that S&P’s equity strategy recommends overweighting consumer staples, which currently represent 10.7% of the S&P 500 Index. 
The sector, he notes, is up 4.5% year to date, which is a lot more than the S&P 500 overall, which shows a gain of just 2.75% since January 1.
Graves expects to see global sales increase for consumer staples thanks to higher marketing expenditures by companies and increasing demand in developing economies -- although these gains will be limited by rising commodity prices and by continued high unemployment in the U.S. which leads consumers to shift to private label products and away from brand named goods.
Another plus for consumer staples: its constituent stocks tend to pay more dividends than the broader market.  The sector’s yield is averaging 3%, compared to just 2% for the whole S&P.
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Overrun with wild donkeys, Hawaii to ship 100 to animal sanctuaries -

Overrun with wild donkeys, Hawaii to ship 100 to animal sanctuaries - 


 In an effort to control the wild donkey population on Hawaii Big’s Island, about 100 of them are being taken to California.
KITV reports the Humane Society of the United States is planning to remove the donkeys on a chartered plane next month.
Humane Society’s Hawaii director Inga Gibson says they’ll go to animal sanctuaries.
Drought conditions led the donkeys from the highlands into a populated area in search of water. Donkeys were appearing near the highway and a school.
The Humane Society and a local veterinarian have been trapping and sterilizing animals from the rapidly growing population estimated at about 400 to 600 donkeys.
At the end of the month, a clinic is to be set up at a ranch to castrate captured male donkeys.
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