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California gas stations shut as oil refiners ration supplies

gas
© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A gas delivery in San Anselmo, California.
Gasoline station owners in the Los Angeles area including Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) are beginning to shut pumps as the state's oil refiners started rationing supplies and spot prices surged to a record.

Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) stopped selling gasoline on the spot, or wholesale, market in Southern California and is allocating deliveries to customers. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is also rationing fuel to U.S. West Coast terminal customers. Costco's outlet in Simi Valley, 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, ran out of regular gasoline yesterday and was selling premium fuel at the price of regular.

The gasoline shortage "feels like a hurricane to me, but it's the West Coast," Jeff Cole, Costco's vice president of gasoline, said by telephone yesterday. "We're obviously extremely disheartened that we are unable to do this, and we're pulling fuel from all corners of California to fix this."

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles has surged $1 a gallon this week to a record $1.45 a gallon premium versus gasoline futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That's the highest level for the fuel since at least November 2007, when Bloomberg began publishing prices there. On an outright basis, the fuel has jumped to $4.3929 a gallon.
Arrow Down

Exorcist describes 'healing' process

Gary Thomas
© Conor Alwell
Gary Thomas, a Vatican-certified exorcist explains how exorcisms are performed at the Cook Campus Center on Tuesday night to about 200 people.
Rev. Gary Thomas, a Vatican-certified exorcist, spoke about practicing exorcisms, in which he attempts to drive demons out of someone's thought-to-be-possessed body.

"Satan has been defeated," Thomas told a multi-faith audience of 200 people in the Cook Campus Center.

He said in Catholic teachings, Jesus Christ's crucifixion signified the ultimate defeat of Satan, explaining the cross's prominence in the church.

Victoria Coglianese, secretary of the Catholic Student Association at the University, said members in her organization wanted to bring a speaker like Thomas to campus because they feel students are mature enough to handle the serious content of the visit.

"We really wanted someone that would attract a lot of people. The event holds a lot of history, [and is an] intriguing topic," said Coglianese, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior.

Citing hope, confidence and thanksgiving as the central meanings symbolized in the cross and the Eucharist, Thomas said these show the positive forces that can counter demons in both the modern and the historic church.

Thomas said sins are a vessel for evil to enter the world.

The concept of sin grew unclear through time, he said, and it has become difficult to tell exactly what behavior is sinful.
Info

Trust amends Causeway centre 'Creationist' exhibit

Giant Causeway
© GreatBritain.co.uk
The Giant's Causeway is a Unesco World Heritage Site and features more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns.
The National Trust has amended a controversial exhibition at the new Giant's Causeway visitor centre.

An audio exhibit revealed how people's explanation of how the Causeway was formed developed as scientific understanding improved.

Young earth creationists believe the Causeway was formed 6,000 years ago. The vast majority of scientists say it was formed 60m years ago.

The trust says it has always supported the "scientific view" of its formation.

The Causeway is a Unesco World Heritage Site and features more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns.

The £18.5m centre was opened on 3 July.

The National Trust decided to carry out a review of the exhibit after the creationist element provoked what it termed a "wide and mixed response".

In July, an online campaign to remove it began.

A new piece of audio, approximately 20 seconds long, now replaces the previous recording.

Graham Thompson, project director for the Giant's Causeway, said the change would clear up "any misunderstanding there may have been"
Einstein

Einstein's letter questioning God goes up for auction

Einstein's Letter
© Auction Cause, www.einsteinletter.com
In a 1954 handwritten letter, Albert Einstein reveals his thoughts on God and religion. The original letter is going up for auction Oct. 8, 2012.
From studying slices of his brilliant brain to probing profound physics theories, scientists and enthusiasts alike have long been spellbound by Albert Einstein. Now, an auction is offering the world a peek at Einstein's thoughts on what may be humanity's most profound question: the existence of God.

The private letter written by Einstein expressing his views on God and religion will go up for auction Monday (Oct. 8) on eBay. In the letter, he calls belief in religion and God "pretty childish" and ridicules the idea that the Jews are a chosen people.

"This is the most historic and significant piece we have listed on eBay," Eric Gazin, president of Auction Cause, the agency managing the sale, told LiveScience in an email. "We are excited to offer a person or organization an opportunity to own perhaps one of the most intriguing 20th-century documents in existence. This personal letter from Einstein represents the nexus of science, theology, reason and culture."

Einstein handwrote the letter in German to Jewish philosopher Eric B. Gutkind on Jan. 3, 1954, a year before Einstein's death. The letter was a response to Gutkind's book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt (1952, H. Schuman; 1st edition).

In part of his letter, Einstein writes, "For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.

As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them," as translated from German by Joan Stambaugh.
Handcuffs

Second case of corruption in recent weeks: 12 French officers of anti-crime squad arrested

At least 12 members of the police anti-crime squad (BAC) in the southern French city of Marseille have been arrested in an inquiry into corruption.

Marseille
© Reuters
Those arrested worked on the housing estates of northern Marseille.
They are suspected of having stolen drugs and cash from dealers and taking cigarettes from illicit sellers.

Five hundred grams of hashish, cash and jewellery were found hidden in the ceiling of a police station.

A lawyer said the find did not prove the officers were corrupt, as they frequently worked under deep cover.
Pirates

Maple syrup theft of $20 million worth in Canada

16,000 barrels were siphoned off in August in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, near Victoriaville

Montreal - If you like your maple syrup hot, there's tons of it out there.

Literally.
maple syrup
© Dario Ayala , Montreal Gazette
In case the thieves were trying to stock up on nutritious foods in light of upcoming shortages, it might've been better to do their homework properly - both in regards to law as well as to the importance of meat and fat as opposed to health-wreaking sugar.
The purloined product even traversed a provincial border after sticky-fingered thieves made off with the amber gold over the summer months.

Contents of 16,000 45-gallon barrels, siphoned off and reported stolen from a central distribution centre in August, have been found.

The Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP obtained search warrants last week and raided a facility in New Brunswick.
MIB

Immigrant stole military technology for Russia

An American success story of an immigrant from Kazakhstan who made millions off his Texas export firm took a Cold War-era turn on Wednesday when U.S. authorities accused him of being a secret agent who's been stealing military technology for the Russian military.

Alexander Fishenko was among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment filed in Brooklyn charging them in an alleged scheme to purposely evade strict export controls for cutting-edge microelectronics. It also charges Fishenko with money laundering and operating inside the United States as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

Fishenko, a naturalized U.S. citizen and owner of Houston-based Arc Electronics Inc., and seven others were in custody in Houston following raids there by the FBI. He was expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday.

The name of Fishenko's attorney was not immediately available. His wife, Viktoria, who was identified as a co-owner of her husband's business but not charged, declined to comment Wednesday.

"I will speak when I know what's going on," she said.
Attention

Ignoring reality, U.S. government pulls out of G20 emergency food crisis meeting

© Financial Times
The G20 has called off an emergency ministerial meeting to discuss rising agricultural commodities prices, only weeks after France and the most senior food official at the UN formally convened the gathering.

The rare climbdown comes as the cost of agricultural commodities from corn to soyabean remains close to its highest in nominal terms.

Washington, which this year chairs a new G20 body focused on agriculture, said in a statement that leading countries had decided food commodities markets were "functioning", and an emergency meeting of the Rapid Response Forum was not "necessary at this time". The forum is part of the G20-backed Agricultural Market Information System, created last year at the prompting of France.

"Governments around the world, including large agricultural exporters in G20, have exercised prudence and responsibility in policy making, including by avoiding export bans that exacerbated volatility in 2007-08," said Karen Johnson, chargé d'affaires at the US embassy to the UN agencies in Rome.
Che Guevara

Viva Chavez! Hugo Chávez's 14 years as Venezuelan president

Paraphrasing the immortal words of George W. Bush: "They hate him for his freedoms."

Attention

Experts: Food prices will soar leading to political, civil unrest

© American Free Press
Midwest droughts, growing unrest in the Middle East have prognosticators worried

The worst U.S. drought since 1936 has devastated crops and livestock across the country and opened the floodgates to opportunists hawking genetically modified (GM) seed products. Worse yet, socioeconomic experts now predict that the world may be less than one year away from a catastrophic food crisis that could lead to even more political instability and civil unrest.

Meanwhile, consumers are bracing for a harsh winter as food prices begin their rise to unprecedented levels. Meat and dairy products, which account for 52% of the world's food basket, are expected to become far more expensive over the next several months as farmers around the globe continue to slaughter millions of hogs, dairy cows and steers because they cannot afford the corn and soybean products used to make feed. It has gotten so bad that, in several cases, farmers have even been adding candy to cattle feed because of rising grain prices.
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