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Thursday, April 21, 2011

One Shock Away

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Conspiracy of the Rich

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Second massive Southland fish die-off has scientists looking for links

Ventura Harbor fish

Six tons of sardines were found dead in Ventura Harbor on Monday, following a similar incident in Redondo Beach. Both groups died of oxygen deprivation, but what drove them into the harbors is a mystery.

Marine officials were trying to determine Tuesday what caused thousands of sardines to turn up dead in Ventura Harbor, the second mass fish die-off in local marinas in as many months.

Roughly 6 tons of the small silvery fish were found floating in the harbor early Monday. Officials said their initial theory is that the sardines died after using up all the oxygen in a corner of the harbor.

The scene in Ventura Harbor — crews churning up the water with aerators and volunteers scooping nets full of fish up from the surface — was reminiscent of the cleanup effort in Redondo Beach six weeks ago when officials discovered a thick blanket of dead sardines coating King Harbor.

Scientists are looking into whether the two die-offs share a common cause.

A spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game said a warden visited the harbor and concluded the die-off was the result of oxygen deprivation, not water pollution, toxins or algae blooms — the usual causes of fish kills.

Last month's massive die-off occurred after millions of sardines swam into King Harbor and suffocated. It took days for crews to scoop and vacuum up about 175 tons of fish carcasses from the harbor.

Those sardines tested positive for domoic acid, a neurotoxin generated by algae blooms, but scientists believe the fish — perhaps disoriented because of the toxic algae — swam into the enclosed harbor in such huge numbers that they died as a result of critically low oxygen levels, not poisoning. Still, what caused them to swim into the marina remains a mystery.

The die-off in Ventura appears to be much smaller.

Large schools of fish started to swim into Ventura Harbor about a week ago, Harbormaster Scott Miller said; it was unclear what drove them there. Dolphins, sea lions and seabirds followed, feasting on the heavy concentration of easy prey.

"We just think they moved in there, and it was just like crowding too many people into a room," he said.

An algae bloom along the coastline in recent weeks has poisoned dozens of sea lions, dolphins and seabirds and left them stranded on beaches across Southern California, but scientists have not linked either of the fish kills to the bloom.

USC biology professor David Caron said his lab was requesting fish specimens from Ventura Harbor to test for specific toxins related to algae blooms.

"It would be very nice to know if these fish that are undergoing mortality events are in anyway impacted or have toxins in their bodies," he said.

Fish kills are usually preceded by an algae bloom that entices large numbers of plankton-eating fish to the area, said Nancy Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, who studies low-oxygen "dead zones" of decaying algae near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Los Angeles Times


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Donald Trump: I'll release my tax returns if President Obama shows his birth certificate

Donald Trump has a deal for the President: He'll release his tax returns if Obama releases his birth certificate.

The billionaire businessman and aspiring presidential candidate laid out the conditions for his financial records disclosure Tuesday.

"Maybe I'm going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate … I'd love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns into Obama's birth certificate," he told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

Obama revealed Monday that the First Family shelled out $453,770 to the IRS for 2010.

Presidents and potential candidates traditionally reveal how much they pay in taxes, but it's not a requirement. It's unclear just how much Trump - who has been bragging about his personal fortune in recent weeks - is worth.

Trump, who's at the head of the birther chorus, has seen a spike in recent polls. He repeated his doubts that Obama was born in the U.S., a claim that Stephanopoulos immediately blasted.

"George, they've co-opted you. Obviously, Obama and his minions have co-opted you," Trump said.

The real estate mogul said earlier this month that he's sent investigators to Obama's home state of Hawaii to get answers. When asked what they've discovered, Trump was a wee bit testy.

"That's none of your business right now," he said. "We're going to see what happens."

Trump said he'll announce by June - when his show "Celebrity Apprentice" wraps - whether he'll seek the GOP presidential nomination. He insisted the birther issue would not be the focus of his campaign if he decides to enter the race.

So what's the chance he'll run?

"Well I don't want to say odds," the 64-year-old said. "I don't want to put myself in that position I don't want to put you in that position. But I will tell you, I love this country. I hate what's happening to it and you may very well be surprised."

Jeff Gundlach: U.S. debt default is inevitable

Legendary bond investor Jeff Gundlach gave a presentation last summer saying a U.S. debt default was inevitable.

Nine months later, S&P is leaning toward the same conclusion.

Gundlach identified three ways out of the debt crisis: Cut, print or default. But cutting alone rarely works. Printing is limited when foreigners own your debt. As for the last option, he says "some type of polite default, at a minimum, will happen."

Here is the link:

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China Urges US to Protect Creditors After S&P Warning

China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the United States must take "responsible" measures to protect investors in its debt after Standard & Poor's threatened to lower its credit rating on the United States due to a bulging budget deficit.

"We hope the U.S. government will take responsible policies and measures to safeguard investors' interests," the ministry said in a statement.

China's foreign exchange reserves, already the world's biggest, rose by nearly $200 billion in the first quarter to $3.05 trillion. About two-thirds are estimated to be invested in dollars.

Beijing has repeatedly warned that loose U.S. monetary policy threatens the dollar, but it has continued to accumulate dollar assets at the same time, adding about $260 billion of Treasury securitieslast year, according to U.S. data.

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