Warming withers Aussie wine industry

High cost of water adds to pressure to sell, change grapes or even move

MELBOURNE – Australian grape growers reckon they are the canary in the coal mine of global warming, as a long drought forces winemakers to rethink the styles of wine they can produce and the regions they can grow in.

The three largest grape-growing regions in Australia, the driest inhabited continent on earth, all depend on irrigation to survive. The high cost of water has made life tough for growers.

Some say they probably won’t survive this year’s harvest, because of the cost of keeping vines alive. Water prices have more than tripled.

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The Water Cure: An interview with Dr. Batmanghelidj

A NaturalNews Special Report by Mike Adams

Discovery of the water cure

Mike: Welcome everyone, this is Mike Adams with Truth Publishing, and today I’m very excited to be welcoming Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Water For Health, For Healing, For Life. Welcome, Dr. Batmanghelidj.

Dr. B: Thank you very much for inviting me to be on the air with you and giving me the opportunity of sharing my thoughts on the future of medicine in this country.

Mike: I think there are many, many people who have read your books. People are intrigued by the idea that water can be a therapy, a healing substance for the human body. What is it about water? How did you first become aware of these healing properties of water?

Dr. B: Well, it’s very bizarre. As you know, I’m a regular doctor, an M.D. I had the honor and the privilege of being selected as one of the house doctors, and I had the extreme honor of being one of the last students of Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin. I mention his name so that you know I was immersed in medical school and research. And some years later, I had to give two glasses of water to a person who was doubled up in abdominal pain from his disease, because I had no other medication to give him at that moment. And he was in excruciating pain, and water performed miraculous relief for him. It gave him relief — within three minutes his pain diminished, and within eight minutes it disappeared completely, whereas he was doubled up eight minutes before and he couldn’t even walk, he completely recovered from that situation. And he started beaming from ear to ear, very happy, asked me what happens if the pain comes back? I said, “Well, drink more water.” Then I decided to instruct him to drink two glasses of water every three hours. Which he did, and that was the end of his ulcer pains for the rest of the duration that he was with me.

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Military Report: Secretly ‘Recruit or Hire Bloggers’

Source: Wired
A study, written for U.S. Special Operations Command, suggested “clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers.”

Since the start of the Iraq war, there’s been a raucous debate in military circles over how to handle blogs — and the servicemembers who want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops’ time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad.

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Companies use scans to track employees

Some workers are doing it at Dunkin’ Donuts, Hilton hotels, even at Marine Corps bases. Employees at a growing number of businesses around the nation are starting and ending their days by pressing a hand or finger to a scanner that logs the precise time of their arrival and departure – information that is automatically reflected in payroll records.

Manufacturers say these biometric scanners improve efficiency and streamline payroll operations. Employers big and small buy them with the dual goals of curtailing fraud and automating outdated record keeping systems that rely on paper time sheets.

The new systems, however, have raised complaints from some workers who see the efforts to track their movements as excessive or even creepy.

“They don’t even have to hire someone to harass you anymore. The machine can do it for them,” said Ed Ott, executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO. “The palm print thing really grabs people as a step too far.”

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The Subprime Crisis is Just Starting

(Excerpt: “For these reasons, there is a powerful, powerful case for moving a substantial portion of your assets into tangible assets. Good examples of tangible assets include gold, silver, commodities, real estate, farmland and energy.”)

Financial Sense

by Daniel R. Amerman, CFA | March 20, 2008

Print

Overview

As the author of three books on mortgage finance and related derivative securities, and speaking as someone who first turned mortgages into rated securities in 1983, I’m going to let you in on an unfortunate little secret – the real subprime mortgage securitization crisis may not have even started yet. But, there is a good chance the real crisis will arrive soon.

This assertion that the crisis could just be getting started may seem absurd and extraordinarily out of touch. What about the approximately 45,000 homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure in the United States every month? What about the 8.9% plunge in nominal housing prices in 2007, the largest decline in over 20 years? What about Bear Stearns losing 94% of the value of its stock in 2 days, with even the remaining 6% in value being based on an unprecedented loan from the Fed before JP Morgan would agree to the acquisition? How much worse could it get?

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NASA data shows thickest and oldest Arctic ice is melting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The thickest, oldest and toughest sea ice around the North Pole is melting, a bad sign for the future of the Arctic ice cap, NASA satellite data showed on Tuesday.

“Thickness is an indicator of long-term health of sea ice, and that’s not looking good at the moment,” Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center told reporters in a telephone briefing.

This adds to the litany of disturbing news about Arctic sea ice, which has been retreating over the last three decades, especially last year, when it ebbed to its lowest level.

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Ice shelf on verge of collapse

Latest sign of global warming’s impact shocks scientists

A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming’s impact on Earth’s southernmost continent.

Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events.


An image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegration taken from the
British Antarctic Survey’s Twin Otter aircraft reconnaissance flight.

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Hayden: White Boy al-Qaeda on the Rise

“Al-Qaeda, in its haven in western Pakistan, is training operatives who are ‘western’ in appearance, making it easier for them to get past U.S. airport security, Central Intelligence Director Michael Hayden said,” reports Bloomberg.

Does anybody who looks “western” have an easy time getting past airport security? Mr. Hayden needs to visit an airport and see for himself — just about everybody, from grandmothers to toddlers, are under suspicion, even if they look Scandinavian. It has nothing to do with actual suspicion. It has to do with sending a message: you live in a police state now, get used to it, and if you don’t want to end up dead in a holding cell like Carol Ann Gotbaum, you’ll submit and not complain.

Of course, Mr. Hayden, as the head honcho of the CIA, is “catapulting the propaganda,” as Bush might call it. Now that al-Qaeda operatives look like stock brokers and cashiers at the local Stop ‘n Gas, we need to push ahead with the control grid, now only partially in place. Our rulers think we need to hear this kind of nonsense every few weeks, just to remind us and get us accustomed to those CCTV cameras everywhere and the NSA vacuuming up our telephone conversations and emails. It’s all to protect us from the white boy al-Qaeda.

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Chaos on Wall Street


THE BAILOUT BOYS: S.E.C. Chairman Christopher Cox (left) with Paulson, President Bush and Bernanke.

The big banks’ fear of big losses is threatening to bring down the entire system, with dire consequences for all of us. Here’s what’s going on, and what we can do about it.

(Fortune Magazine) — What in the world is going on here? Why is Washington spending billions to bail out Wall Street titans while leaving struggling homeowners to fend for themselves? Why are the Federal Reserve and the Treasury acting as if they’re afraid the world may come to an end, while the stock market seems much less concerned? And finally, what does all this mean to those of us who aren’t financial professionals?

Okay, take a few breaths, pour yourself a beverage of your choice, and I’ll tell you what’s happening – and what I think is going to happen. Although I expect these problems will resolve themselves without a catastrophic meltdown, I’ll also tell you why I’m more nervous about the world financial system now than I’ve ever been in my 40 years of covering business and markets.

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On the brink of disaster

The three newbies – the term auction lending facility, the primary-dealer credit facility, and the term securities lending facility – total more than half-a-trillion dollars, with more if needed. Much of this money is available not only to commercial banks but also to investment banks, which normally aren’t allowed to borrow from the Fed.

How can the Fed afford this largesse? Easy. Unlike a normal lender, the Fed can’t run out of money – at least, I don’t think it can. It can manage monetary policy while in effect creating banking reserves out of thin air and lending them out at interest.

That’s how the Fed reported a $34 billion profit in 2006, the last available year, of which $29 billion was sent to the Treasury. The Fed can even add to its $800 billion stash of Treasury securities by borrowing more of them from other big players.

Then there’s the Treasury. In March the Treasury – which failed this past winter to get private firms to establish a $100 billion “superfund” (please, no giggles from people who equate the term with Love Canal) to keep things called “structured investment vehicles” from having to sell their holdings in a bad market – unleashed Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) and the Federal Home Loan Banks to buy hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities.

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GAO Blasts Weapons Budget

Cost Overruns Hit $295 Billion
Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon’s biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.


The Navy expects the costs of its first two Littoral Combat Ships to exceed their combined budget of $472 million by more than 100 percent. (Lockheed Martin Via Associated Press)

Auditors said the Defense Department showed few signs of improvement since the GAO began issuing its annual assessments of selected weapons systems six years ago. “It’s not getting any better by any means,” said Michael Sullivan, director of the GAO’s acquisition and sourcing team. “It’s taking longer and costing more.”

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The Kingdom ‘braces for nuclear war’

Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to counter any ‘radioactive hazards’ which may result from a US strike on Iran’s nuclear plants.

Popular government-guided Saudi newspaper Okaz recently reported that the Saudi Shura Council approved of nuclear fallout preparation plans only a day after US Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Kingdom’s high ranking officials, including King Abdullah.

As a result of the Shura ruling, the Saudi government will start the implementation of ‘national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the Kingdom following expert warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors’.

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Brace for $1 Trillion Writedown of `Yertle the Turtle’ Debt

Be it ever so devalued, $1 trillion is a lot of dough.

That’s roughly on a par with the Russian economy. More than double the market value of Exxon Mobil Corp. About nine times the combined wealth of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Yet $1 trillion is the amount of defaults and writedowns Americans will likely witness before they emerge at the far side of the bursting credit bubble, estimates Charles R. Morris in his shrewd primer, “The Trillion Dollar Meltdown.” That calculation assumes an orderly unwinding, which he doesn’t expect.

“The sad truth,” he writes, “is that subprime is just the first big boulder in an avalanche of asset writedowns that will rattle on through much of 2008.”

Expect the landslide to cascade through high-yield bonds, commercial mortgages, leveraged loans, credit cards and — the big unknown — credit-default swaps, Morris says. The notional value for those swaps, which are meant to insure bondholders against default, covered about $45 trillion in portfolios as of mid-2007, up from some $1 trillion in 2001, he writes.

Morris can’t be dismissed as a crank. A lawyer, former banker and author of 10 other books, he knows a thing or two about the complex instruments that have spread toxic debt throughout the credit system. He once ran a company that made software for creating and analyzing securitized asset pools. Yet he writes with tight clarity and blistering pace.

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CIA enlists Google’s help for spy work

US intelligence agencies are using Google’s technology to help its agents share information about their suspects

Google has been recruited by US intelligence agencies to help them better process and share information they gather about suspects.

Agencies such as the National Security Agency have bought servers on which Google-supplied search technology is used to process information gathered by networks of spies around the world.

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Forest Service buys UAVs to spy on public

U.S. FOREST SERVICE FIELDING FLEET OF DRONES – Law Enforcement Wants “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” Hovering Above Forests

Washington, DC – The U.S. Forest Service has purchased pilot-less aircraft to provide day and night photo reconnaissance for its law enforcement program, according to agency records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The two “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or drones, may represent the beginnings of wider conversion of military robotic technology for civilian uses.

The two “Sky Seers” were obtained by the Forest Service on December 10, 2007 at a cost of $100,000 from Chang Industries, Inc. of La Verne, California. The package includes one “day version” and one “night version” of the drone, together with a “Pan/tilt thermal camera” to record heat signatures at night.

A March 12, 2007 purchase request from the Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations (LE&I) program states it “has been monitoring and evaluating UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] intermittently since 1997, when their use was considered in support of Operation Linebacker, a border enforcement initiative.” While this “Sole Source Request” details desired equipment specifications, the Forest Service could produce no documents spelling out what they want to use drones for or why pilot-less craft are preferred, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from PEER.

The drones purchase took place shortly after Forest Service LE&I spent $600,000 buying tasers for its entire enforcement staff, without any guidelines or training program. The tasers are still sitting in storage cartons. After PEER revealed the taser fiasco, LE&I staff told PEER about the drones and suggested a records request in order to validate staff concerns that the purchase –

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Europe poised to bolster Web shield

A NATO cyberdefense center is to be housed in this former military barracks in Tallinn, Estonia.
(Foreign Ministry of Estonia)

PARIS: Nearly a year after Estonia weathered an onslaught of cyberattacks, its name has become a rallying cry for countries pressing to streangthen global cooperation between governments and private Internet service providers to combat computer crime. But some privacy advocates and computer experts remain wary of such efforts.

On Tuesday, the Council of Europe plans to introduce guidelines to aid computer crime investigators, building on a cybercrime treaty that has been signed by 43 nations, including the United States. A controversial proposal would require service providers to give the authorities a list of the types of information that they could offer.

On Wednesday, NATO will present a strategy for countering computer attacks at a meeting for heads of state in Bucharest, with a proposal to create a central cyberdefense authority.

“The attacks on Estonia – directed at services on which Estonian citizens rely – could happen anywhere,” said James Appathurai, a NATO spokesman. “The only way to defend against them is through multinational, multilateral cooperation.”

That kind of military talk concerns privacy advocates and computer experts, who fear that private companies will be pressed into service to police users as part of these strategies.

“One of the great consequences of all of this is that an agenda is created for a society that is under surveillance,” said Peter Sommers, a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics and author of “The Hacker’s Handbook,” written under the pseudonym Hugo Cornwall. “And in the panic, we lose the quality of control.”

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IMF: U.S. Economy Will Go Into Recession In 2008

The International Monetary Fund will next week forecast that the US economy will go into recession this year, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an upcoming report.

The IMF believes the US will experience at least two successive quarters of negative growth — the technical definition of a recession — and will grow only half a percent over the whole of 2008, weekly Die Zeit reported.

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Machine makes water good enough to drink

Victoria Fray with a glass of drinking water made with her new desalination machine. Photo / Greg Bowker

Auckland engineer Victoria Fray has come up with a new variation on the age-old theme of teaching someone to fish so they can feed themselves forever.

She has designed a mini-desalination plant that is small and robust enough to be sent to remote Pacific islands to provide water for up to 900 people in an emergency – then be hauled back to Auckland and used again in the next disaster elsewhere.

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