- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation New Zealand 5.6 ; Russia 6.8 ; Tonga 5.5 - 5.7 !More info here.
- Fed Writes Sweeping Rules From Behind Closed Doors.(CG). Via: Wall Street Journal:The Federal Reserve has operated almost entirely behind closed doors as it rewrites the rule book governing the U.S. financial system, a stark contrast with its push for transparency in its interest-rate policies and emergency-lending programs.While many Americans may not realize it, the Fed has taken on a much larger regulatory role than at any time in history. Since the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul became law in July 2010, the Fed has held 47 separate votes on financial regulations, and scores more are coming. In the process it is reshaping the U.S. financial industry by directing banks on how much capital they must hold, what kind of trading they can engage in and what kind of fees they can charge retailers on debit-card transactions.Read the full story here.
- UK - Fireman Sam creator detained at airport for veil comment at security gate.(Telegraph).As David Jones arrived at the security gates at Gatwick airport, he was looking forward to getting through swiftly so he could enjoy lunch with his daughters before their flight.Placing his belongings, including a scarf, into a tray to pass through the X-ray scanner he spotted a Muslim woman in hijab pass through the area without showing her face.In a light-hearted aside to a security official who had been assisting him, he said: “If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.”The quip proved to be a mistake. After passing through the gates, he was confronted by staff and accused of racism.As his daughters, who had passed through security, waited in the departure lounge wondering where he was, he was subjected to a one hour stand-off as officials tried to force him to apologise.Mr Jones, 67, who is the creator of the popular children’s character Fireman Sam, said: “Something like George Orwell’s 1984 now seems to have arrived in Gatwick airport."I feel that my rights as an individual have been violated. What I underwent amounts to intimidation and detention. I was humiliated and degraded in full public view."I am a 67-year-old pensioner and have lived my life within the law. I do not have even one point on my driving licence.”He said that when he made his initial remark the security guard had appeared to agree with him, saying: “I know what you mean, but we have our rules, and you aren’t allowed to say that.”As he went through the metal detecting arch, his artificial hip set off the alarm, prompting a full search from a guard. It was after this, and as he prepared to rejoin his two grown-up daughters, that he was confronted by another guard who said he was being detained because he had made an offensive remark.Mr Jones, a former member of the Household Cavalry and retired fireman, added: “I felt that I made a logical observation. That while everyone was being subjected to an invasive search it was illogical that someone should be let through with their face covered. I am not opposed to having this level of security but it must be equal for all.”Eventually, Mr Jones said, the BA manager suggested that he should agree that what he had said “could” be considered offensive by a Muslim guard.With his flight departure time now fast approaching Mr Jones agreed to the compromise. Escorted by the police officer, he was taken through security where he was again subjected to a full search after his hip replacement set off the metal detector alarms.Mr Jones said he intended to complain formally to the Gatwick airport authorities and British Airways about the incident last Sunday.Department for Transport rules do not prevent people covering their faces at UK airports for religious reasons.However, all passengers must show their faces to UK Borders officials when they pass through passport control. Muslim women who wear hijabs can request that their identity is checked by a female immigration officer and they can also ask that they be taken to a private room before they remove their head wear.A spokesman for Gatwick airport said: “The security team are examining the incident to ensure that the issue was managed in the right way."They are talking to the people involved to understand what the issue was and how it came to have the police involved.”Read the full story here.
- Is Israel losing Temple Mount war?(YNet).Ynetnews special: Why is Israeli government covering up Muslim effort to erase any trace of Jewish history on Temple Mount? Archeology expert: Excavations barbaric, a crime. An investigative report by Yedioth Ahronoth revealed the ongoing failure of various Israeli authorities in safeguarding the rare archeological treasures found on Temple Mount. Information elicited by the newspaper showed that the Waqf is consistently erasing any trace of Jewish history at the site. Mideastern affairs expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar says these acts are undertaken in the framework of an Arab practice known as "erasing the signs," aimed at eliminating the remnants of any civilization that preceded Islam. Members of the State Comptroller's Office launched an investigation into the affair four years ago and drafted a report about it. However, the Knesset's State Control Committee decided to impose a gag order on the report for "security reasons." However, Israeli intelligence officials told Yedioth Ahronoth there is no reason to prevent the report's publication. A senior Shin Bet Security Service official said following the Committee's session on the matter: "I'm ashamed. This is akin to cheapening national security to the lowest point possible." Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan has also questioned the gag order. "There is no connection whatsoever between the failure to publish the report and national security. As far as I know, both Mossad and Shin Bet said there is no reason not to publish the report…apparently there are other considerations here, pertaining to political motives." Conversations and interviews held with dozens of officials involved in drafting the State Comptroller's secret report indicate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among the senior officials interested in shelving the document. Attorney Yisrael Caspi, who represents a group fighting the destruction on Temple Mount, says the PM is unequivocally responsible for the ongoing failure. Read the full story here.
- Euro zone decision on size of bailout fund seen delayed.(AA).Euro zone leaders may not be able to meet international demands to ramp up their own funds for bailing out the bloc's debtors when they meet next week because Germany is showing no sign of dropping its opposition to the plan, euro zone officials said.A bigger European fund is a condition for major non-European economies before they lend more money to the International Monetary Fund to provide an even bigger wall of cash to fight the crisis that has already claimed three euro debtor countries and now threatens the much bigger economies of Italy and Spain.“I would not bet on a positive outcome by the end of the March 1-2 summit,” one euro zone official said. “German opposition to a deal is still very strong.”Euro zone leaders are set to review the 500 billion euro ($675 billion) limit on the joint lending capacity of their temporary and permanent bailout funds, known by their acronyms EFSF and ESM, at the March 1-2 summit.If they decide to merge the funds, they would create a firewall of 750 billion euros which would help convince markets that they were committed to bringing the crisis under control.The European Central Bank supports such an increase as do policymakers around the world who are considering more than doubling the IMF’s resources by $600 billion.“Everybody says there is a pre-condition that Europe makes more efforts first,” South Korea’s central bank governor Kim Choong-soo said before a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers of Group of 20 leading economies in Mexico City.But Germany, the euro zone’s biggest economy, insists Europe’s current bailout arrangements are more than sufficient and that increasing them would send a signal to markets that the euro zone it expects more trouble ahead.German officials say countries would lose the impetus to carry out badly needed belt-tightening reforms.“It makes no sense, and is rather harmful,” said one German official.Others in Berlin argue the extra obligations under the combined bailout funds could increase the risk of further credit rating downgrades for some euro zone countries. And the sense of urgency is dissipating because Italy and Spain are paying less to borrow on markets.Officials from other countries warn that argument is premature.“The current improvement in markets is very fragile, so we need to be careful not become complacent,” a second euro zone official said.“Most euro zone countries are ready to move now, but I am afraid that Germany will need more time to agree to the increase, mainly to be able to better manage the Bundestag,” the official said.The country’s parliament is due to vote on Monday on the agreement to provide Greece with a new financial lifeline, agreed earlier this month despite much opposition from German taxpayers.A draft set of conclusions prepared ahead of next week’s summit showed that euro zone leaders will call for an international deal to increase IMF resources in April, implying a deal within the euro zone on its bailout funds in March. Yet this was unlikely to come as soon as next week, officials said.“What we can expect, at most, is a reference in the conclusions suggesting Germany is not closing the door,” one senior euro zone official said.The United States has said it will not participate in any IMF funding boost. Canada is reluctant too, unless the euro zone makes a bigger effort. That leaves China and Japan as the two biggest candidates for increasing IMF resources through bilateral loans.One G20 official said there were hopes that China, the world’s second-biggest economy, could contribute some $100 billion to the IMF and Japan another $50 billion.Both countries said last Sunday that the euro zone must move first. Three euro zone officials said a decision on the size of the euro zone bailout funds could be taken after next week’s summit, but still during March.Read the full story here.
- Qatar ready for Jerusalem conference.(BM).DUBAI: Qatar officials said on Saturday that they are fully prepared to host the Jerusalem International Conference, which is to kick off on Sunday in Doha.“We are fully ready to host the conference and show our Arab solidarity,” one government official told Bikyamasr.com. “It will be an exciting event for all the region.”The three-day conference aims to show solidarity with the Jerusalem in the face of “Israeli threats.”It has been scheduled to take place since being approved during the 22nd Arab League Summit in Sirt, Libya in March 2010.Ironically, the meetings will come only days after Israeli police attacked Muslims ?at the al-Aqsa mosque on Friday.The conference will address several issues related to the holy city of Jerusalem including the legal status of the city as understood in international law, as well as a historic review.According to organizers, the participants will also tackle Israel’s plans to “forge” the history of the holy city in addition to what they termed as ongoing violations of human rights committed against the Palestinian population, historic sites, cemeteries and Islamic heritage.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to deliver a speech during the conference where he will discuss Israeli practices and the challenges faced by Palestinian residents of Jerusalem on a daily basis.The Moroccan foreign minister will also deliver a speech on behalf of its king, Muhammad VI, who heads the Arab League’s Jerusalem Committee. League secretary Nabil al-Arabi will also address the conference.Among the speakers is the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Akmal Addin Ihsan Oglo and secretary-general of the Cooperation Council of the Arab Gulf States Abdul-Latif Zayani.Hmmmm.....Rumor has it that Sheikh Yusuf Abdallah al-Qaradawi is distributing free candy.Read the full story here.
- Crisis between Egypt, U.S. Deepens over American Funding to Civil Society Organizations – Part II: The Islamists Join the Government/SCAF Campaign against the U.S.(Memri).By: L. Lavi.Recent months have witnessed an intense campaign by Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), after it accused the U.S. of providing illegal funding to civil society organizations in Egypt. The SCAF has attempted to use the crisis as leverage to win domestic support, attempting to counterbalance its loss of legitimacy among the Egyptian public, which has increasingly called for handing over the rule to civilian hands, especially as Egypt marked the first anniversary of the January 25 revolution.In addition to its legal measures against American civil society activists in Egypt, the country's authorities are waging an anti-American media campaign, manifest in articles in the Egyptian press inciting against the U.S. and lauding what is being depicted as the SCAF's revolutionary stance against American attempts to interfere with Egypt's domestic affairs. In February 2012, in response to calls by Egyptian youth organizations to wage a campaign of civil disobedience on February 11 – the anniversary of Mubarak's ouster – the SCAF has ratcheted up its anti-American campaign, leveling the following accusations against the U.S.: The U.S. administration funded civil society organizations in order to advance political goals, as part of a Zionist-American plan to divide Egypt. The Egyptian authorities announced that in raids on the headquarters of American civil society organizations in Cairo, maps were seized which revealed a plan to divide Egypt into several mini-states. The Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram claimed that this was proof that the U.S. administration had, as early as three decades ago, hatched a plan to divide Egypt into four smaller states and to dismantle the countries of the Middle East in general.The American University in Cairo is working in the service of U.S. goals and inciting Egyptian youth to undermine the stability of Egypt. An announcement was posted on Facebook in the SCAF's name accusing the university's teaching faculty of choosing a select group of 40 students to work toward eroding Egypt from within, by inciting against the SCAF and calling for civil disobedience and general strikes.As part of the campaign, the Egyptian authorities also attempted to calm the Egyptian public's fears over losing U.S. aid, by claiming that Egypt did not need it. Numerous articles in the Egyptian press claimed that this aid served U.S. interests at the expense of those of Egypt and the Egyptian citizen, and that the country could do without U.S. aid and without loans from the IMF, which might withhold them due to U.S. pressure.The Egyptian authorities even played the Iranian card in an attempt to pressure the U.S., announcing that they had not ruled out the option of accepting Iran's proposal to grant Egypt economic aid to replace the U.S. aid. Egypt further indicated the possibility of rapprochement with Iran when, in February 2012, it allowed a number of Syria-bound Iranian warships to pass through the Suez Canal. The Egyptian daily Al-Misriyoun claimed that the warming relations between Egypt and Iran were due to the Saudis' withholding of aid to Egypt, under pressure from the U.S.In February 2012, the anti-U.S. campaign was joined by Egypt's Islamists. Though they had previously made it a point to avoid any direct dispute with the U.S., as Egypt's conflict with the latter intensified they could no longer remain on the fence. Senior officials in the Muslim Brotherhood's (MB) Freedom and Justice party, for example, warned that any cuts in U.S. aid would be met with a review of Egypt's peace agreement with Israel, as U.S. aid was a condition of the agreement. Dr. Rashad Bayoumi, deputy to MB General Guide Muhammad Badi', claimed that U.S. Ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson was striving to incite fitna (civil strife) in Egypt, just as she had committed crimes in Pakistan. He added that Egypt had no need for U.S. aid, which he described as tainted and as an impediment to a free Egypt.Read the full story here.
- Official found dead, head covered with plastic bag after measuring radiation in Tokyo park.(AP).By Madison Ruppert.According to a Japanese news outlet, Iza, on July 1st, 2011 63-year-old Mr. Takashi Kabayama was found dead with a plastic bag over his head in his home office. Kabayama was a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly for the Liberal Democratic Party and had been measuring radiation in an assortment of locations throughout Tokyo. He would then upload his findings to his blog for the world to read, and on the day before he died (June 30, 2011) he measured 0.25 microSv/h in Mizumoto Park in the Katsushika ward located in Tokyo.Fukushima Diary reported on February 22, 2012 via Gendai that ludicrously high levels of cesium contamination were discovered, also in Mizumoto Park. These levels were so high that they “turned out to be the same level of [the] ‘off-limits zone’ in Chernobyl.”It is strange that this hasn’t been brought to the public’s attention sooner, because the fact that he was found at 3 AM July 1, 2011, meaning just a short while after he posted his update, is quite unusual.Why would someone be taking radiation readings and updating their website the day that they were planning to kill themselves?According to Fukushima Diary, none of his blog posts suggested that he might be suicidal and “he sounded motivated to measure around Tokyo,” something which hardly seems befitting of someone on the verge of taking their own life.This is not the only anti-nuclear official who has died recently. In fact, it was reported on January 3, 2012 that 64-year-old Uemura Yasuhiro, town councilor of Kowaura Minamiise Machi Mie was found dead in his car with a shotgun wound to the chest.Yasuhiro was reportedly taking his shotgun to his farm to keep away crows. Police thought it was suicide or a gun accident, even though the shotgun was reportedly placed outside of the car.He was an outspoken opponent of the construction of the Ashihama nuclear plant of Chubu Electric Power, and after the Fukushima incident he began traveling around Japan lecturing about the dangers of nuclear power. If only one official who came out against the horrors of Fukushima had perished in mysterious circumstances I would be more ready to discount the possibility of foul play.However, when multiple bodies start piling up, all of which are connected to bringing the dangers of nuclear power into the sphere of public debate, I have to start wondering.I don’t know how it is in Japan, but here in the United States we have what I call a “dual justice system” which treats certain sectors of society completely different than others.On one side there is the ludicrously wealthy along with police, most politicians, most so-called officials, etc. and on the other side is the rest of us.This allows for police to literally get away with murdering innocent tourists and brutally assault elderly people (with dementia no less) for no apparent reason only to get a written reprimand among other horrors.Hopefully Japan is a little different and proper investigations into these mysterious incidents can be launched.Hmmmm........once upon a time after a nuclear disaster?So Called nuclear "HotSpots' are known to exsist in Cities in Belarus.Read the full story here.