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Bad Guys

Britain, Japan warn of disaster if no U.S. debt deal

British and Japanese officials warned Sunday of disastrous consequences for the global economy if last-minute talks among lawmakers in Washington failed to agree on raising the U.S. borrowing limit and averting a debt default.

Governments across the world fear that because of the key role of the U.S. dollar in global banking and trading systems, there could be severe instability when Asian financial markets reopen Monday if a U.S. debt deal is not in sight by then.

In Washington, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican who is playing a key role in the debt talks, said "we're very close" to a $3 trillion deal that would raise the debt ceiling while cutting the U.S. budget deficit.

But a senior White House official warned that an agreement was "not there yet."

"If they get this one wrong and there's a default -- we don't expect that, we think that they will sort this out -- but if that were to happen, it has consequences for every family and every business in this country and all across the world," said Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the British Treasury.

Stormtrooper

Russia, U.S., Canada to hold second air force anti-terror exercise

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© RIA Novosti. SkryinikovThe exercises will include AWACS (airborne early warning and control) and refueling aircraft, as well as combat aircraft
The Russian Air Force and NORAD, the U.S. and Canadian joint air defense command will hold a second round of anti-terrorism exercises on August 8-11, the Commander in Chief of the Eastern military district, Igor Muginov said on Monday.

"The main aim of the drills is to improve the Russian Air Force's and NORAD's capabilities for fighting terrorism in the air," Muginov said.

Bizarro Earth

US: Ruling Another Step Toward Police State

home, privacy
© San Jose Mercury News
On Oct.13, 2005, Lexington police pursued a man suspected of dealing drugs into the breezeway of an apartment complex. During their pursuit, they passed the residence of Hollis King and thought the smell of marijuana smoke emanated from it. They knocked on his door, identified themselves and asked to enter his home.

They then heard movement within the apartment, at which point they broke down his door. Police explained that their warrantless and forcible entry into his apartment was triggered by sounds they believed to be consistent with the destruction of incriminating evidence.

In 2010, the Kentucky Supreme Court honorably defended our right to be free from warrantless searches when it invalidated the police actions that resulted in King's arrest and subsequent conviction.

But in May, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the state's justices and essentially declared that police may forcibly enter homes without a warrant should they hear noises within that are consistent with the destruction of evidence. The court declined to share the auditory standards by which such destruction is to be legally judged.

Four days before that decision, the Indiana Supreme Court declared that its citizens had no right to resist illegal police entry into their homes. By eliminating a right that dates back to the ratification of the Magna Carta in 1215, the court's decision gives Indiana's armed agents the authority to enter any home anytime without just or proper cause.

War Whore

US, Europe Warn Assad Over Syria Crackdown

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© Agence France-PresseUS President Barack Obama speaks in Washington, DC July 29, 2011 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Obama and European leaders condemned a crackdown by Syrian forces, which activists said killed nearly 140 people, and vowed to increase pressure on the regime
US President Barack Obama and European leaders condemned a crackdown Sunday by Syrian forces, which activists said killed nearly 140 people, and vowed to increase pressure on the regime.

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, while the European Union denounced the timing of the violence coming on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.

"I am appalled by the Syrian government's use of violence and brutality against its own people," Obama said in a statement.

"The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime.

"In the days ahead, the United States will continue to increase our pressure on the Syrian regime, and work with others around the world to isolate the Assad government and stand with the Syrian people," he added.

Human rights groups said Syrian forces had killed nearly 140 people on Sunday as President Bashar al-Assad crushed dissent on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Dollar

HSBC Sells 195 US Branches for $1 Billion

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© Agence France-Presse / Lionel BonaventureBritish-based banking giant HSBC has announced it will sell 195 retail branches, primarily in upstate New York, to First Niagara Bank for an estimated $1 billion.
British-based banking giant HSBC has announced it will sell 195 retail branches, primarily in upstate New York, to First Niagara Bank for an estimated $1 billion.

"As part of its ongoing US strategic focus on commercial and corporate banking, HSBC Bank USA remains committed to serving and further developing corporate banking relationships in Upstate New York," the company said in a statement.

"HSBC Bank USA is pleased to be working with First Niagara on this transaction, given its strong commitment to relationship banking and its historic roots in the region."

As of May 31, the branches held approximately $15 billion in deposits.

Vader

Obama, U.S. Lawmakers Strike Deal to Raise Debt Ceiling


A deal worked out among top congressional leaders and the White House would enable the U.S. government to keep borrowing money but may cost President Barack Obama critical support among liberal Democrats.

The agreement to immediately raise the government's debt ceiling, and enact already agreed-on spending cuts of about $1-trillion, would avert the financial turmoil that had been feared if Congress failed to raise the $14.3-trillion (U.S.) borrowing limit by Tuesday's deadline. The threat of a U.S. default has effectively been lifted.

And while the deal struck Sunday would spare the President from having to wage another protracted debt-ceiling battle as he campaigns for re-election in 2012, liberal Democrats are livid at him for giving in to Republicans on most other counts.

"Is this the deal I would have preferred? No," Mr. Obama conceded from the White House briefing room as he announced the agreement shortly before 9 p.m.. But he added it "would allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington has imposed on the rest of America."

The pact must first be approved by Congress and party leaders are still scrambling to cobble together enough votes in the Senate and House of Representatives. Congress could authorize a temporary measure allowing the government to pay its bills until final legislation passes both chambers.

Cowboy Hat

US: Bush to Be in New York City to Mark 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Obama, George W. Bush
© unknown
The ceremony at the World Trade Center site marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks will be a solemn but stately event that will include former President George W. Bush and a chance for victims' families to view the names of loved ones etched into the memorial, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

President Barack Obama and Bloomberg will be joined by the leaders in charge during the 2001 attacks, including Bush, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former New York Gov. George Pataki. Current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will also be there, he said.

Speaking on his weekly radio show Friday on WOR-AM, Bloomberg said the lawmakers will read short poems or quotes. No speeches will be given.

"This cannot be political," he said. "So that's why there's a poem or a quote or something that each of the readers will read. No speeches whatsoever. That's not an appropriate thing."

The mayor also revealed a few more details for the ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 11. It will be held on the highway to the west of the site, and only relatives will be allowed inside the memorial to look for the names of their loved ones, etched into the railings at two huge waterfalls built in the footprint of the World Trade Center. The falls descend from street level down into a void.

Bad Guys

BP 'Has Gained Stranglehold Over Iraq' After Oilfield Deal is Rewritten

Iraq's Rumaila oilfield
© Atef Hassan/ReutersIraq's Rumaila oilfield in 2009, the year BP and Chinese partner CNPC originally clinched a deal to develop the field.
New terms mean company will be paid even when production is disrupted, critics claim

BP has been accused of taking a "stranglehold" on the Iraqi economy after the Baghdad government agreed to pay the British firm even when oil is not being produced by the Rumaila field, confidential documents reveal.

The original deal for operating Iraq's largest field - half as big as the entire North Sea - has been rewritten so that BP will be immediately compensated for civil disruption or government decisions to cut production.

This potentially could influence the policy decisions made by Iraq in relation to the Opec oil cartel, and is a major step away from the original terms of an auction deal signed in the summer of 2009, critics claim.

SOTT Logo Radio

SOTT Focus: SOTT Podcast: Sott Perspectives on Cults

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In this new Sott Perspectives podcast, Laura, Anna, Juliana, and Gaby discuss cults, cult accusations, and interview two former membernIf you are the victim of a cult or any other form of psychological abuse, you can learn more about the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing & Rejuvenation Program at eiriu-eolas.org

Running Time: 01:14:25

Download: MP3


Bad Guys

Israel uprising: Beginning of an end

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© UnknownIsraeli protesters have set up tents like protesters in Bahrain and Egypt.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the US Congress and said Israel -- a regime setup by stealing land and which survives off charity -- is "what's right about Middle East" and received 29 standing ovations from American lawmakers, he neglected the fact that the uprising against autocratic regimes were never meant to be restricted to the Arab world.

Since July 14, people have been gathering across Israel to protest against the rising costs of housing, with "tent cities" being erected in Tel Aviv, al-Quds (Jerusalem), Beersheba, Haifa and Kiryat Shemona.

They are also calling on the regime to curb the high costs of fuel, food and healthcare. The protests have exposed a deep middle-class frustration over the economy, presenting Netanyahu with his biggest domestic challenge yet.

Certain media outlets have tried to downplay the protests arguing that unlike the Islamic Awakening in Arab states, Israelis are not calling for "democracy" or an end to "state oppression" but rather they are protesting against the "high price of housing, food and other goods."