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Friday, August 31, 2012

Japan Manufacturing PMI Hits 16 Month Low, New Orders Plunge

Key Points: 
Output and new orders down at accelerated rates 
Near-stagnation of employment
Purchasing costs fall to greatest extent since November 2009Markit/JMMA Manufacturing PMI

After adjusting for seasonal factors, the headline Markit/JMMA Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) posted 47.7 in August, down from 47.9 one month previously, signalling the sharpest worsening of Japanese manufacturing sector operating conditions since April 2011. Moreover, the latest deterioration in business conditions was broad-based across all three market groups.

Japanese manufacturing production declined further in August, with the rate of contraction accelerating to the fastest in 16 months. The latest reduction in factory output was the third in as many months.

Reflecting falling new orders and corresponding spare capacity, backlogs of work decreased further in August. The rate at which firms depleted work-in-hand (but not yet completed) was sharp, and the steepest since May 2009.
Japan is in its third deflationary decade in spite of massive fiscal stimulus, massive monetary stimulus, and the major industrial world's highest debt-to-GDP ratio.

Read more at's+Global+Economic+Trend+Analysis)#gi3bZo1gspx4xD4y.99

Striking South African Miners Charged with Murder for Police shootings that Killed 34

Published on Aug 31, 2012 by 
Major challenge to ANC government after reports that many miners were shot in the back, and now murder charges against other miners, no police have been charged - how's this for JUSTICE!

Eurozone jobless rate stuck at record high in July (but recovery is around the corner - so say the pundits!)

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The unemployment rate across the 17 countries that use the euro remained at a record high of 11.3 percent in July, official figures showed Friday, underscoring the huge task leaders face to restore confidence in the continent's economy.
The European Union's statistical agency, Eurostat, said 88,000 more people were without a job in July — for a total of 18 million — as governments and companies continued to trim payrolls to deal with problems of high debt and weak consumer spending.
The 11.3 percent unemployment rate, which is 1.2 points higher than a year earlier, is the highest level since the euro was formed in 1999.
Joblessness increased in Spain and bailed-out Greece, both countries at the center of the European sovereign debt crisis which has thrown a cloud of doubt over the future of the single euro currency.
In Spain, the jobless figure rose by another 0.2 points to reach 25.1 percent, the highest in the eurozone. For Greece, the latest data available was for May, which saw a 0.5-point increase to 23.1 percent. A year earlier, it was 16.8 percent.

India in a state of political and social turmoil

Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:03am EDT
(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)
(Reuters Breakingviews) - Elections are looming in India. And as the economic story of the ruling Congress Party deteriorates, so does its politics. When all else fails, there's always communal tension. Campaigns which call on caste, religious and regional loyalties can help both Congress and the main opposition, the BJP, take votes from strong regional parties. But the divisiveness is a disaster for India.
The current flare up in communal politics started in India's Northeast, where 85 people have been killed and 400,000 displaced in fighting between Hindu Bodo tribesmen and Muslims. To make matters worse, the violence has spilled over into other states. Muslim protests in Mumbai against the unfair treatment turned violent, killing two people, and rumors of Muslim retaliation in social media and by text messages led more than 30,000 migrants in Bangalore to rush home to the Northeast in terror. And that has lead to a clumsy round of censorship of Twitter by the Government.
It is a good moment for statesmanship from the two leading parties. But the BJP is all too prone to use fear and anti-Muslim prejudice to energize its core Hindu-nationalist support. Congress is a secular party which is committed to the protection of the nations minorities. But the fear of religious violence plays well for it, so its leaders are all too prone to sensationalize the threat.
Recent polls predict a rout for both the national parties in the 2014 elections. Smaller regional parties, many of which unabashedly fan the flames of communalism, are rising. The political mix is bad for the economy. The BJP has abandoned past commitments for reform, in part to try to retain the loyalty of India's three million shopkeepers , while the government seems unable or unwilling to push an aggressive reform agenda.
The new mood could turn the 2014 election into a debate over India's social problems; shielding the government from a more studied assessment of its economic mismanagement. And if the politics of fear win out, an economic revival will become even less likely.

Noted Investor Dennis Gartman Exits Stocks: 'I'm Flat and Nervous'

Too much uncertainty -- from China, the Federal Reserve and technical indicators -- led noted investor Dennis Gartman to liquidate his equity positions last week, he said Wednesday on CNBC.
On "Fast Money," the editor of The Gartman Letter said "there was a number of concerns," among them: "China was one of them. Expectations -- far too many expectations -- that we'd have some round of QE-ing again announced at Jackson Hole.
"We saw divergences between the transports and the Dow Industrials -- old-style, Dow-type theory things -- a lot of people having been bullish," he said. "Now I'm just neutral."
Paraphrasing an old colleague, Gartman said, "I'm flat, and I'm nervous."

Welcome to the Third World, Part 8: A PhD Is Now a “Path to Poverty”

by JOHN RUBINO on AUGUST 23, 2012
Newly-minted anthropology PhD Sarah Kendzior has written a chilling piece for Aljazeera on what things are really like in academia these days:
The closing of American academia
It is 2011 and I’m sitting in the Palais des Congres in Montreal, watching anthropologists talk about structural inequality.
The American Anthropological Association meeting is held annually to showcase research from around the world, and like thousands of other anthropologists, I am paying to play: $650 for airfare, $400 for three nights in a “student” hotel, $70 for membership, and $94 for admission. The latter two fees are student rates. If I were an unemployed or underemployed scholar, the rates would double.
The theme of this year’s meeting is “Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies.” According to the explanation on the American Anthropological Association website, we live in a time when “the meaning and location of differences, both intellectually and morally, have been rearranged”. As the conference progresses, I begin to see what they mean. I am listening to the speaker bemoan the exploitative practices of the neoliberal model when a friend of mine taps me on the shoulder.
“I spent almost my entire salary to be here,” she says.
My friend is an adjunct. She has a PhD in anthropology and teaches at a university, where she is paid $2100 per course. While she is a professor, she is not a Professor. She is, like 67 per cent of American university faculty, a part-time employee on a contract that may or may not be renewed each semester. She receives no benefits or health care.
According to the Adjunct Project, a crowdsourced website revealing adjunct wages – data which universities have long kept under wraps – her salary is about average. If she taught five classes a year, a typical full-time faculty course load, she would make $10,500, well below the poverty line. Some adjuncts make more. I have one friend who was offered $5000 per course, but he turned it down and requested less so that his children would still qualify for food stamps.
Read More: Welcome to the Third World, Part 8: A PhD Is Now a “Path to Poverty” —

Rise of the Cyborg: World’s first bionic eye gifts blind woman eyesight



A fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities become superhuman by mechanical elements built into the body.

For the first time ever, scientists have given a previously blind woman sight by way of a bionic eye. The Australian-designed implant, which resembles the model worn by Arnie in The Terminator, is likely to transform the lives of millions worldwide.
Dianne Ashworth, who is suffering from the incurable condition retinitis pigmentosa, had lost almost all vision when surgeons at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne performed the groundbreaking surgery in May.
A month later the device was switched on.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but all of a sudden, I could see a little flash…it was amazing. Every time there was stimulation there was a different shape that appeared in front of my eye,” said Ashworth in a statement.
The device consists of 24 electrodes attached to the retina. Each time they receive a signal from the outside world, they stimulate the retina, which then sends an impulse back to the brain.
So far, scientists have used the bionic eye to create simple patterns from the twenty four signals – like the shapes of a tree or a house – and see whether Ashworth is able to identify them.
Dianne Ashworth (L) testing the revolutionary device. (Bionic Vision Australia)
Dianne Ashworth (L) testing the revolutionary device. (Bionic Vision Australia)
Over the next 18 months, scientists will work in the laboratory with Ashworth and two other sight-restricted patients. 
But the next big step is installing a camera, so that the patient is able to receive representations of real objects, not just those created by the scientists.
Even at this stage, the signals Ashworth will receive will be unlike normal eyesight, but the aim of the invention is practical.
"What we're going to be doing is restoring a type of vision which is probably going to be black and white, but what we're hoping to do for these patients, who are severely visually impaired, is to give them mobility," says Penny Allen, the lead surgeon on the procedure.
Eventually, with a greater number of electrodes, a more detailed picture could be beamed into the blind person’s brain.
Yet the inventors are trying not to over-engineer the device, so that it doesn’t become unaffordable.
"We didn't want to have a device that was too complex in a surgical approach that was very difficult to learn," says Allen.
The World Health Organization says that 39 million people worldwide are blind, and nearly 250 million are impaired by extremely poor vision.
Bionic Vision Australia, which brings together leading scientists, surgeons and engineers, is funded by the government, and hopes to get a market-ready bionic eye out by 2014.

Reuters / Sage Center for the Study of the Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara / Handout03.08, 14:1627 comments

Can a brain scan reveal how smart you are?

A question has plagued scientists for years: When it comes to intelligence, what distinguishes the brains of exceptionally smart humans from the rest? New research reveals that a brain scan could offer an answer.
Genome of Mycoplasma genitalium is very small and consists of "only" 580,000 nucleotides, or "building blocks" of DNA (Image from Wikipedia)24.07, 08:285 comments

Scientists create first-ever virtual germ

A group from Stanford University in the US has created the first computer simulation that mimics the work of an entire living organism – a primitive parasitic bacterium with a tiny genome. Yet the simulation required the power of 128 computers.
An artificial jellyfish replica made from silicone polymer and rat heart cells "swimming" in a container of ocean-like salt water (AFP Photo / CALTECH)22.07, 23:552 comments

JellyRat: Scientists construct artificial jellyfish from rodent cells

Scientists have reverse-engineered an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The replica is a spitting image of its living counterpart, and is able to pulse and swim when placed in an electric field.
31.08.2009, 10:134 comments

Cutting-edge laser eye surgery –with no cuts

Russian scientists have developed a new laser which can correct eyesight without cutting the surface of the eye.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

'NAM summit in Iran is a direct challenge to US hegemony in region' - YouTube

Published on Aug 30, 2012 by 
The UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who's at the meeting despite U.S. objections, says Iran can play a role in halting the war in Syria. Tehran's own international issues, including its disputed nuclear programme, are also part of discussions. Writer Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich thinks Tehran is still being quite courteous...

The U.S. Drought Is Hitting Harder Than Most Realize and will have dire consequences next year!

Submitted by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity,
 This is an important update on the U.S. drought of 2012, the combined record-setting July land temperatures, and their impact on food prices, water availability, energy, and even U.S. GDP. 
Even though the mainstream media seems to have lost some interest in the drought, we should keep it front and center in our minds, as it has already led to sharply higher grain prices, increased gasoline costs (via the pass-through of higher ethanol costs), impeded oil and gas drilling activity in some areas (due to a lack of water), caused the shutdown of a few operating electricity plants, temporarily reduced red meat prices (but will also make them climb sharply later) as cattle are dumped in response to feed- and pasture-management concerns, and blocked and/or reduced shipping on the Mississippi River.  All this and there's also a strong chance that today's drought will negatively impact next year's Winter wheat harvest, unless a lot of rain starts falling soon. 
The good news from Hurricane Isaac is that he's traveling on a perfect path to deliver relief to one of the most heavily drought-impacted areas:
There are steps that everyone can and should take to become more food- and fuel-resilient in case the drought persists – as some experts think is quite possible – into next year and perhaps a few more. We'll get to those steps shortly.
Further, there will be a definite impact to U.S. GDP, which could add to pressures (excuses?) that the Fed may use to justify additional quantitative easing (QE) measures (otherwise known as 'printing more money'). 

U.S. Drought Intensifies

Urban Warfare Drills: Psy-Op Acclimating Americans to Military on US Streets :

By Susanne Posel
August 29, 2012
The US Special Operations Command (USSOC) has conducted “training exercises” over Minneapolis.
In a twofold effort, the US Armed Forces are acclimating the American public to seeing military everywhere as well as being able to train their soldiers in real time on US streets in a manipulative effort to circumvent Posse Comitatus.
Both the local police department and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) collaborated, according to authorities, to decide on training exercise times and locations although the general public was unaware of these war games until they were evident in their local skies.
The USSOC stated :
“If you see military helicopters flying low over Minneapolis, don’t be alarmed. They’re just training in an urban environment. The U.S. Special Operations Command will be conducting exercises until the beginning of September. This week they’re using helicopters, including Black Hawks.”

Is There Going To Be A Stock Market Crash In The Fall?


Is the stock market going to crash by the end of this year?  Are we on the verge of major financial chaos on a global scale? Well, this is the time of the year when investors start getting nervous.  We all remember what happened during the fall of 1929, the fall of 1987 and the fall of 2008.  However, it is important to keep in mind that we do not see a stock market crash in the fall of every year.  Some years the stock market cruises through the months of September, October, November and December without any problems whatsoever.  But this year conditions certainly seem to be right for a "perfect storm" to develop.  Technical indicators are screaming that a stock market decline is imminent and sources in the financial industry all over the world are warning that a massive crisis is on the way.  What you are about to read should alarm you.  But it is not a guarantee that anything will or will not happen.  When Ben Bernanke gives his speech at the Jackson Hole summit on Friday he could announce to the rest of the world that the Federal Reserve has decided to launch QE3 and that the Fed will be printing up trillions of new dollars.  If that happened global financial markets would leap for joy.  So it is always a dangerous thing when anyone out there tries to tell you that they can "guarantee" what is about to happen in the financial world.  There are just so many moving parts.  But if we do not see major intervention by the governments of the world or by global central banks a major financial crisis could rapidly develop this fall.  The conditions are certainly right for a stock market collapse, and we could easily see a repeat of what happened back in 2008.
The truth is that the second half of 2012 looks a little bit more like the second half of 2008 with each passing day.
Just check out what Bob Janjuah of Nomura Securities has been saying....
Based on the reasons set out earlier and also covered in my two prior notes, over the August to November period I am looking for the S&P500 to trade off down from around 1400 to 1100/1000 – in other words, I expect over the next four months to see global equity markets fall by 20% to 25% from current levels and to trade at or below the lows of 2011! US equity markets, along with parts of the EM spectrum, will I think underperform eurozone equity markets, where already very little hope resides.
Others are issuing similar warnings.  For example, the following is what a couple of Bank of America analysts said in a report the other day....


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Southern California town declares emergency over earthquake swarm numbering in the hundreds

(Reuters) - The southern California town of Brawley has taken the unusual step of declaring a state of emergency after a swarm of earthquakes rattled nearly 20 mobile homes off their blocks and forced a slaughterhouse to close, the mayor said on Wednesday.
It is uncommon for quake-hardy California cities to declare emergencies due to tremors, but Brawley mayor George Nava said the earthquake swarm is a unique case because it has lasted for days and caused millions of dollars in damage.
The cluster of relatively small quakes, which are caused by water and other fluids moving around in the Earth's crust, began on Saturday evening and climaxed the next day with a 5.5 temblor, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The tremors were continuing on Wednesday and geologists say there have been hundreds in total.
Nava said leaders in Brawley, a city of 25,000 residents south of the state's inland Salton Sea and 170 miles southeast of Los Angeles, declared a local emergency late on Tuesday. Officials with surrounding Imperial County made a similar declaration on Wednesday.
Nineteen mobile homes were knocked off their blocks and their residents forced out, Nava said. The auditorium at Brawley Union High School has been damaged and closed off, and the National Beef slaughter plant in Brawley has been temporarily shut down due to damage, he said.
Local businesses have suffered millions of dollars in losses from closures and from customers staying away, Nava said. But he could not give an exact account of quake-related losses.
The Red Cross and local government agencies will offer services to residents on Friday and Saturday at a local center. The emergency declaration allows Brawley to receive more assistance from Imperial County, Nava said.
At one point, about 10,000 residents in the city were without power, and the quakes have also caused water line disruptions, Nava said.
"When you don't have an AC or running water, it's just not a good thing in this weather," he said.
Jeanne Hardebeck, research seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, said earlier this week that the cluster of quakes is not a sign that a larger temblor is imminent.
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Sandra Maler)

Giant warehouses with food to last for 5 years: Alaska begins prepping for major natural disasters

August 29, 2012 – ALASKA – Alaska is known for pioneering, self-reliant residents who are accustomed to remote locations and harsh weather. Despite that, Gov. Sean Parnell worries a major earthquake or volcanic eruption could leave the state’s 720,000 residents stranded and cut off from food and supply lines. His answer: Build giant warehouses full of emergency food and supplies, just in case. Weather isn’t the only thing that can wreak havoc in Alaska, where small planes are a preferred mode of transportation and the drive from Seattle to Juneau requires a ferry ride and 38 hours in a car. The state’s worst natural disaster was in 1964, when a magnitude-9.2 earthquake and resulting tsunami killed 131 people and disrupted electrical systems, water mains and communication lines in Anchorage and other cities. “We have a different motivation to do this, because help is a long ways away,” said John Madden, Alaska’s emergency management director. The state plans two food stockpiles in or near Fairbanks and Anchorage, two cities that also have military bases. Construction on the two storage facilities will begin this fall, and the first food deliveries are targeted for December. The goal is to have enough food to feed 40,000 people for up to a week, including three days of ready-to-eat meals and four days of bulk food that can be prepared and cooked for large groups. To put that number into perspective, Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, has about 295,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Juneau, its third largest, about 31,000. It’s not unusual for states that routinely experience hurricanes or other large-scale disasters to have supplies like water, ready-to-eat meals, cots and blankets. But Alaska is interested in stocking food with at least a five-year shelf life that meets the nutrition, health and cultural requirements of the state’s unique demographics. That means, as part of the effort, trying to incorporate cultural foods like salmon for Alaska Natives as well as foods that would be more common in urban areas, state emergency management spokesman Jeremy Zidek said. An estimated 90 percent of commodities entering Alaska are delivered through the Port of Anchorage. Air service is also a critical link to the outside world and generally the only way to reach many rural communities. A volcanic blast emitting a large amount of smoke and ash could disrupt supply lines by air and water for an extended period, Madden said, and an earthquake could knock out airport runways or ports. Those are just some of the disasters that might require emergency supplies. –Business Week

350 Million Indian Families Starve As Politicians Loot $14.5 Billion In Food | ZeroHedge

While The Brits are about to tax their Super-Rich, it appears one of the old colonies remains in full anti-Robin-Hood mode. Nothing surprises us much anymore but this note from Bloomberg too the proverbial biscuit. In the "most mean-spirited, ruthlessly executed corruption,"India's politicians and their criminal syndicates have looted as much as $14.5bn in food from one province alone. 57,000 tons of food meant for the devastatingly poor of the Uttar Pradesh region is sat in a government storage facility five football fields long. The 'theft' has blunted the nation's only weapon against mass starvation and as Supreme Court commissioner Naresh Saxena notes: "What I find even more shocking is the lack of willingness in trying to stop it," as the Minister for Food, who stands charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and electoral fraud, has diverted more than 80 percent of the food. "Who is a person who holds a below poverty line ration card? A person of no influence; you can just tell him to buzz off." But there is growing tension "We could just storm the place, and every one of us could get a bag of rice each. Who would stop us?"
Via Bloomberg:
India has run the world’s largest public food distribution system for the poor since the failure of two successive monsoons led to the creation of the Food Corporation of India in 1965.

US Special Ops stage Urban warfare training in downtown Minneapolis - what are they preparing for?

US Special Operations Command decided that downtown Minneapolis would be a perfect location for military games involving Black Hawk helicopters and dozens of troops.
Low-flying Black Hawk helicopters conducted military training exercises in downtown Minneapolis Monday night, hovering majestically outside of apartment windows of surprised local residents.
Some Minneapolis residents have taken videos of the Army’s utility helicopters as they passed over bridges, hovered outside their windows and flew over the city.
“Yep, that’s the view outside my window,” said one YouTube user as two of the giant vehicles stopped outside his 28thfloor window for 10 seconds before soaring down Marquette Ave.
The helicopters were on an urban environment training assignment ordered by the US Special Operations Command. The exercises will continue until early September, but the military is refusing to give out exact training locations to prevent crowds from gathering to watch.
In April, Black Hawk and Little Bird helicopters flew past skyscrapers in downtown Chicago for a similar urban environment training exercise, rattling some windows of downtown offices. Witnesses of the largely-unexpected event reported men hanging out of the windows, while carrying automatic weapons.
“It was frightening,” Chicago resident Jessica Hill told Fox News. “I was definitely alarmed.”
Black Hawk helicopters were first introduced by the military in 1979 and have served in combat most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Quiet Black Hawk helicopters were responsible for carrying US Navy SEALs into Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound the day of his assassination.
“Helicopters make a very distinctive percussive rotor sound which is caused by their rotor blades and if you can blend that down, of course that makes a noise that is much less likely to be heard and much more likely to blend into any background noise that there is,” said Bill Sweetman of the Defense Technology International, in a 2011 interview with ABC News.
The military aircrafts have been conducting routine training since Sunday, but were not seen until Monday, due to their presence in hidden locations, Fox News reported. As the helicopters sneak up quietly on unsuspecting residents, police have announced the exercises to prevent concerned callers from overloading the 911 system.