Friday, July 20, 2012
Rasmussen Reports found on Tuesday that 63% of Americans believe the country is in a recession in a survey measuring the consumer confidence.
Consumer confidence dipped a point 84.7 in Rasmussen’s tracking poll and is still down two points from three months ago.
On Monday the Commerce Department reported that U.S. retail sales fell for the third consecutive month in June, the first time retail sales have fallen three months in a row since 2008, while U.S. business inventories rose by .3% and sales dropped by .1%.
Couple all of this with stagnant jobs and wages reports, and there is no wonder why so many people feel the country is in a recession, as their personal economic situation is far from being fine. And this is why President Barack Obama will run a campaign that focuses on everything but his economic record.
DAMASCUS, Syria, July 19 (UPI) -- The Obama administration was taking steps to head off further bloodshed and chaos as rebels were reported to have gained control of border crossings in Syria.
The New York Times reported Thursday rebels had taken over all four crossings into Iraq and one into Turkey, and the Los Angeles Times said officials from the United States and its allies are reaching out to opposition leaders in an effort to provide for a peaceful transition of power if President Bashar Assad is overthrown.
U.S. officials also urged Israeli leaders not to resort to military force to try to take control of chemical weapons in Syria, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Assad appeared on state television Thursday, one day after three members of his inner circle were assassinated in a suicide bombing. He swore in a new defense minister and the images from the presidential palace were played on a continuous loop by the Syrian Arab News Agency, The New York Times reported.
SANA's English-language Web site, however, was inaccessible for much of Thursday.
Arab media reported Assad and his family have fled by plane to his hometown near the seaport of Latakia. Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai said Assad fled to the village of Kardaha in the Alawite Mountains following the deaths of his three top security chiefs Wednesday. From there he is directing his regime's response, the paper said.
The London based Arab-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi said there were reports Assad survived an assassination attempt Tuesday evening and may be suffering from injuries to his legs and abdomen.
Israel Radio broadcast a message from an unidentified rebel commander saying battles were ongoing at the entrance to Assad's fortified presidential palace in Damascus and Syrian air force helicopters were firing missiles at the fighters.
The New York Times said Thursday residents were fleeing Damascus as fighting in the capital city entered its fifth day, with the Syrian military issuing a statement saying Wednesday's bombing increased their determination to "clear the homeland of the armed terrorist groups."
China and Russia Thursday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have threatened increased sanctions on Syria due to the escalating violence.
A Syrian human rights organization said at least 15 people were killed in gun battles in the village of Jebata al-Khashab some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Israel's border Thursday. A statement released by the organization said clashes "have been taking place since the morning between Assad's army and a group of deserters in the village near the occupied Golan Heights," Israel National News said.
The regime said Wednesday's bombing attack inside the headquarters of Syria's national security council, a compound near Assad's fortified palace, was the work of a suicide bomber. The Free Syrian Army said it was a remotely detonated explosive.
The FSA told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph two bombs -- one made of 25 pounds of TNT and the other a smaller Composition C-4 plastic explosive -- were planted in the conference room days before the meeting by an opposition mole working for Gen. Hisham Ikhtiyar, one of Assad's intelligence chiefs.
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/07/19/Assad-said-to-have-fled-Damascus/UPI-40781342679400/#ixzz21As5GV2K
A lone gunman dressed in riot gear burst into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" and methodically began shooting patrons, killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50.
The suspect, James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, nine miles outside Denver, after police began receiving dozens of 911 calls at 12:39 a.m. MT. Police said the man appeared to have acted alone.
Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes crashed into the auditorium through an emergency exit about 30 minutes into the film, set off a smoke bomb, and began shooting. Holmes stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.
"You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going," one witness told ABC News.
"I'm with coworkers and we're on the floor praying to God we don't get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding," another theatergoer said.
Police said 10 victims died inside the theater, while dozens of others were taken to local hospitals, including a child as young as 6 years old.
A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes's mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.
She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
"You have the right person," she said.
"I need to call the police," she added. "I need to fly out to Colorado."
Holmes was wearing a bullet-proof vest and riot helmet and carrying a gas mask, rifle, and handgun, when he was apprehended, according to police. Holmes mentioned having explosives stored, leading police to evacuate his entire North Aurora apartment complex and search the buildings early this morning.
The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman triology opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman's motives and the movie.
Grains suppliers are starting to default on previously agreed sales to major importers, including top wheat buyer Egypt, rather than deliver on contracts that are now losing money because of the huge rally in prices sparked by the U.S. drought.
The worst drought in more than 50 years is wilting crops in the U.S. Midwest and sending prices soaring, with corn alone surging by 50 per cent in the past month. Soybeans have also hit record highs, with wheat not far behind.
Crop downgrades in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan as drought followed a bitterly cold winter have added to global price rises, stoking fears of unrest especially in Middle Eastern countries, where high food prices can trigger political protest.
Traders say some private grain sales to buyers in Egypt have fallen apart, but they stress that multinational trading houses will deliver on contracts and the default problem is likely to focus on smaller firms. However, such firms often put together deals of up to 100,000 tonnes.
“We are talking a few Egyptian private buyers who had contracts from suppliers in the Black Sea not executed and it’s both for corn and wheat. The type of cargo sizes are small and between 10,000 and up to 25,000 tonnes,” a Middle East-based trader said.
Doubts are also being raised over whether recent wheat sales to Libya will be delivered. “Only in June, traders were selling wheat and other grains to buyers in the Middle East in expectation that a record U.S. corn crop and Russian export surge would push down global grains prices,” one German trader said.
“The price rises mean some sales were made at huge losses, people are now looking at the terms of their performance bonds to see if it is worthwhile not delivering.”
On most contracts in international trade, sellers have to provide a guarantee that they will pay a penalty if they do not fulfill their contract called a performance bond.
In some grains deals, the performance bond means sellers must pay 10 per cent of the contract value to the buyer if a default talks place.
Grains purchases are traditionally made months in advance, with traders using their market knowledge to calculate whether supplies will be plentiful or tight at the future time when the grain has to be bought and ships loaded.
Sellers in some individual international tenders could be facing losses running into millions of dollars on single deals.
Until about four weeks ago, traders were expecting falling prices with a record U.S. corn crop on the horizon, providing the import supply chain with low cost grain many sellers had not bought yet.
The Globe and Mail
As Russian customs continue to inspect imports coming from Japan for radiation, officials say they have seized roughly 300 contaminated cars at entry points like the city of Vladivostok. The effort is ongoing, even close to a year and a half since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. Gennady Onishchenko, the leader of Russia’s consumer rights organization, says that close to 150,000 vehicles have been inspected, with 300 attempted to be smuggled in testing positive for radioactivity.
After radioactive material was released by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as a result of damage from the March 11th tsunami, the government of Russia, and many other nations as well, began enacting strict limitations, or in some cases outright bans, on imported goods from Japan. Russia wasn’t one of the countries the flat-out denied Japanese products, but they did begin heavily monitoring everything from food to automobiles for any signs of radioactive contamination. Since beginning inspections, Russian customs officials say they have checked 500,000 shipments, 908 ships, 473 aircrafts, and over 42,000 people who have come from Japan to enter Russia.
However, what wasn’t mentioned was who the contaminated cars were being ordered from. They could be coming from Japanese car manufacturers who didn’t check them or ignored the warning signs, or they could have been bought on the cheap by someone, Japanese or not, who hoped to sneak them into another country and unload them for a profit.
A little over a week ago, Japan’s vice-minister for foreign affairs was at the summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cambodia. There he requested that the other nations present relax, or at least review, their limitations on the imports of Japan’s agricultural products, saying that there had been numerous scientific tests completed that show its items are contaminated with radiation. Later this summer, Russia’s consumer rights organization says it will conduct its own scientific research with the Russian Geographical Society to evaluate the safety of fish caught off of Japan’s coasts.
The Japan Daily Press
Delivering his first public speech since taking on his new role at the start of the month, Jim Yong Kim said even if Europe's sovereign debt problems are contained, they could still cut growth in most of the world's regions by as much as 1.5pc. However, if the crisis spins out of control, developing nations see their GDP fall 4pc or more, enough to trigger a deep global recession, he said.
"Such events threaten many of the recent achievements in the fight against poverty," Mr Kim said, noting that over the last decade nearly 30 developing countries' economies have grown by 6pc or more annually.
Outlining the challenges ahead for the World Bank, which is tasked with eradicating poverty through investment, Mr Kim said his priority was to protect development gains from economic risks, such as the eurozone crisis, which has begun to weigh on growth in large emerging economies such as China.
For now, the world's poorest nations appear to be somewhat insulated from the effects of Europe's crisis because they have limited exposure to global financial markets.
But Kim said not everyone would be spared and he urged European policymakers to take necessary steps to restore stability.
A gunbattle broke out when the North Korean regime removed army chief Ri Yong-ho from office, leaving 20 to 30 soldiers dead, according to unconfirmed intelligence reports. Some intelligence analysts believe Ri, who has not been seen since his abrupt sacking earlier this week, was injured or killed in the confrontation.
According to government officials here, the gunbattle erupted when Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the People's Army General Political Bureau, tried to detain Ri in the process of carrying out leader Kim Jong-un's order to sack him. Guards protecting Ri, who is a vice marshal, apparently opened fire. "We cannot rule out the possibility that Ri was injured or even killed in the firefight," said one source.
Choe is believed to be the right-hand man of Jang Song-taek, the uncle and patron of the young North Korean leader. He made his career in the Workers Party rather than the army. After being appointed director of the bureau, Choe repeatedly clashed with Ri, who came up as a field commander, prompting Choe to keep Ri under close watch and apparently triggering an internal probe targeting the army chief.
The military had grown tremendously in power under former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's "songun" or military-first doctrine, and military heavyweights like Ri who grew in stature during this period were considered threats to the young North Korean leader.
"The firefight has still not been 100 percent confirmed," said a government official here. "It may take some time for us to gain a clearer picture of what happened."
The move towards a second emergency deployment followed the disclosure that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was warned about problems at G4S, the Games security contractor, several weeks before she had previously admitted.
Failures by G4S have forced the Government to deploy an extra 3,500 military personnel to the Games, as well as hundreds of police officers. A total of 17,000 are involved.
The firm has still not been able to tell organisers how many security guards it will provide, forcing ministers to consider a second deployment. Senior ministers yesterday concluded there was no immediate need for the move, but accepted that more troops could be required. As a result, 1,200 personnel have been put on 48 hours’ “notice to move”.
Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, said G4S’s performance was improving, but accepted that the extra soldiers, sailors and airmen could yet be necessary. “They will remain in their current locations but can be called on if we need them during the coming weeks,” Mr Hunt said. “This is a sensible precaution.”
Mrs May last week told MPs that ministers had only become aware of problems at G4S the previous day, but in a letter to the home affairs committee yesterday she said G4S had told an Olympics Security Board meeting of “scheduling problems” on June 27. The Home Office said Mrs May gave accurate answers.