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20 Signs That A Horrific Global Food Crisis Is Coming

starving child
© Unknown

In case you haven't noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis. At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen. Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket. The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances. Without cheap oil the whole game changes. Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace. Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively. So what is going to happen to our world when hundreds of millions more people cannot afford to feed themselves?

Most Americans are so accustomed to supermarkets that are absolutely packed to the gills with massive amounts of really inexpensive food that they cannot even imagine that life could be any other way. Unfortunately, that era is ending.

There are all kinds of indications that we are now entering a time when there will not be nearly enough food for everyone in the world. As competition for food supplies increases, food prices are going to go up. In fact, at some point they are going to go way up.


Inside Syria: Secret police tell parents of arrested protesters to forget their children and have some more

Khalid was not a political activist, just an ordinary middle-class man inspired by the tide of change sweeping across the Arab world. Three weeks ago he joined a group that met at a Damascus mosque and protested against their government. Speakers stressed they had no weapons and hundreds chanted: 'Peacefully, peacefully, we want freedom peacefully.'

The response was immediate and vicious. Secret police attacked the men and women daring to defy a repressive regime that has ruled with fear for 40 years
women block highway
© AP
Flashpoint: Women block a highway in protest at the arrest of local men in Banias on Wednesday
But, in an astonishing turn of events, the watching crowd turned on the loathed security forces and beat back their oppressors. Soon, however, reinforcements were called and cracked down hard, hauling dozens of people off to police cells.

Among them was Khalid. His family despaired, knowing what happens in these suburban torture chambers. His mother toured police stations for information on his whereabouts but abandoned her quest after a volley of aggressive abuse. She feared she might never see her son again

Six days later, Khalid turned up. He had been dumped in a back street with about 50 fellow protesters. Like the others he had been hideously beaten. His battered body was even covered with bite marks left by his captors. He will not protest again but his brother is furious.

'We are not political people, but politics has come into our house,' he told me.

This demonstration was just one of scores that have erupted across Syria, leaving 200 people dead, hundreds missing and the nation tremulous. In January, President Bashar Assad boasted he had no cause for concern over the popular protests in the Arab world as his dynastic dictatorship reflected 'the beliefs of the people'. Most observers shared his confidence, if not his disingenuous diagnosis.

Now Syrians debate if the regime will survive and diplomats watch nervously. For this explosion of anger not only has the potential to rip apart Syria - it could shake the entire region, given the country's pivotal role in events from Israel and Lebanon to Iraq, Iran and even Turkey.


A chilling account of the brutal clampdown sweeping Bahrain

Mahmoud, a Shia who lives near Bahrain's capital tells how Saudi soldiers wage a campaign of sectarian violence
Sanabis police

Riot police in Sanabis, Bahrain.
Since the Gulf soldiers came to Bahrain, life in the Shia villages and suburbs of the capital, Manama, has been non-stop intimidation, violence and threats. Even trying to move around in normal ways has become life-threatening. They are trying to beat down the opposition with a long campaign against us.

I live in one of the villages near Manama. One night about 7.30pm, I parked in front of my father-in-law's house and walked towards the door, when at least 50 armed and masked thugs - they were not in security forces uniform - appeared from one of the village lanes and told me to stop, pointing their shotguns at me. I ran away and they followed, but I managed to hide in one of the houses and they did not see me.

I heard them talking to each other, saying: "Don't worry, we will find him." I was taking a look from the window and they stayed at the car park opposite the house I was hiding in, and they were smashing the windows of parked cars and wrecking and stealing from them. Some had Saudi accents; they are very different from Bahraini and easy to tell.

At 8pm most nights people go up on their roofs and chant Allahu Akbar ["God is greatest"] and the thugs start shooting randomly in the air and at the top of the roofs. That night the area was covered with tear-gas grenades and rubber bullets, while the roads around the house were deserted except for thugs.


Japan nuclear operator aims for cold shutdown in 6-9 months

Japanese nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) hopes it will be able to achieve cold shutdown of its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant within six to nine months, the company said on Sunday.

The firm said the first step would be cooling the reactors and spent fuel to a stable level within three months, then bringing the reactors to cold shutdown in six to nine months. That would make the plant safe and stable and end the immediate crisis, now rated on a par with the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

TEPCO, founded 60 years ago, added it later plans to cover the reactor buildings, damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11.

The latest data shows much more radiation leaked from the Daiichi plant in the early days of the crisis than first thought, prompting officials to rate it on a par with Chernobyl, although experts were quick to point out Japan's crisis was vastly different from Chernobyl in terms of radiation contamination.

TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said he was considering resigning over the accident, but that he couldn't say when.

Che Guevara

Serbia anti-government protesters demand early election

© Reuters
The protesters said they were fed up with corruption and low wages
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have massed in Belgrade to call for early elections, amid growing anger over the economy and corruption.

Opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic told the crowd he was going on hunger strike until an election was called.

The rally comes three months after a similar protest in the capital.

President Boris Tadic has said Serbia needs stability and dismissed opposition ultimatums about election dates as "totally inappropriate".

The next election is scheduled for 2012.

But the BBC's Mark Lowen in Belgrade says the resurgent opposition, combined with news of the hunger strike, may make the call for a fresh poll hard to ignore.


US: Mystery deepens as bodies turn up on Long Island

© Don Emmert / AFP/Getty Images
Suffolk County Police divers prepare to search for human remains in the waters of Hemlock Cove on April 13 near Point Lookout, N.Y.
A search on a rustic barrier island for a missing prostitute has yielded a series of grisly finds pointing to a serial killer, or maybe two. Authorities are stumped, and locals are shaken.

In the summertime, the beaches along Ocean Parkway on Long Island are an American photo album of family picnics, July Fourth fireworks and minivans wedged bumper to bumper. But in the winter, this idyllic place is a windswept wilderness laced with thickets of brush that, it seems, provide the perfect dumping ground for murder.

That's the macabre scene that has unfolded since a prostitute went missing a year ago and a search party began scouring this seashore getaway for some sign of her.

What turned up instead was a string of mostly skeletal remains suggesting the work of a serial killer, or maybe two. Police are eager to find Shannan Gilbert, 24, who they suspect is somewhere in the impenetrable terrain that keeps offering up mysteries they can't explain.

So far, this barrier island off Long Island's south shore, 40 miles from New York City, has yielded a terrible crop of death, including the bodies of four other women known to have worked as prostitutes, shrouded in burlap; a bag of arms and legs; a human skull; and the body of an unidentified woman lying near that of a child about 5 years old, wrapped in a blanket.

Authorities are stumped, and the hardy, eclectic, year-round dwellers here are shaken. Yet such grisly finds have taken on a sad familiarity; strings of prostitute killings, most unsolved, exist in almost every major city and many smaller places, experts say, and Long Island has not been immune. Joel Rifkin of East Meadow was convicted of killing nine women, mostly drug-addicted prostitutes, between 1989 and 1993 and is serving a 203-year prison sentence. Robert Shulman of Hicksville was convicted of five such killings in the 1990s; he was serving a life term in prison when he died in 2006.


Nigeria holds mostly peaceful presidential vote

© AP / Sunday Alamba
A Nigerian army guard seen at a polling station as electoral official count ballot papers after the National Assembly election in Ibadan, Nigeria, Saturday, April 9, 2011.
Nigerians chose their president in an election Saturday many hoped would show Africa's most populous nation could hold a credible vote without the violence and rigging that marred previous ones, though children cast ballots and party officials helped others press their inked fingers to paper.

Despite widespread security concerns after bombs hit a vote-counting centre and a polling station during last weekend's legislative elections, voting in the oil-rich country was largely peaceful Saturday though a police officer was fatally shot in the volatile northeast.

"In recent decades, Nigeria had come to be known for flawed elections. People outside and Nigerians themselves had come to believe that elections could not reflect the will of the people. But, today people showed that they can change that," former Botswana President Festus Mogae, who led the Commonwealth Observer Group, said.

"We seem to be witnessing a giant of Africa reforming itself and putting its house in order," Mogae said.

The chief European Union observer also said most stations opened on time, and that observers only saw a few cases of missing voting materials. But in the remote villages of northern Nigeria where opposition candidates are drawing their support, some of the voters were smooth-cheeked boys not even 5 feet (1.5 metres) tall, wearing clothes two sizes too big for them.


California: This Army Unit Was Bogus, Prosecutors Charge

Fake Army Unit
© Jonathan Alcorn for The New York Times
Yupeng Deng, also known as David Deng, appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pomona on Wednesday for his arraignment.

To the Chinese immigrants he recruited, Yupeng Deng was known as Supreme Commander. He offered them United States Army uniforms, conducted training exercises on Sundays, led marches in municipal parades and promised a path toward American citizenship.

The uniforms were real, but Mr. Deng's U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit was a sham, the authorities said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Deng, 51, was arraigned in Los Angeles County Court on 13 felony charges related to the fake military operation, which concentrated on Chinese immigrants, eager to become American citizens, in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles.

More than 100 immigrants paid upwards of $300 to join the bogus unit, the authorities said, and $120 to renew their memberships each year. In addition, recruits could increase their rank with additional cash donations to Mr. Deng, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case.


As Bahrain stifles protest movement, U.S.'s muted objections draw criticism

Two months after the eruption of mass protests in Bahrain, the kingdom has largely silenced the opposition, jailing hundreds of activists in a crackdown that has left the Obama administration vulnerable to charges that it is upholding democratic values in the Middle East selectively.

Bahrain's monarchy, since calling in Saudi troops last month to help crush the protest movement, has been quietly dismantling the country's Shiite-led opposition. On Friday, the Sunni government announced an investigation into the activities of Bahrain's largest political party, the Shiite-dominated al-Wefaq, which could lead to its ban.

The Obama administration has repeatedly appealed to the Bahraini government for restraint, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week called for a political process that "advances the rights and aspirations of all the citizens of Bahrain." But the administration has neither recalled its ambassador to Manama nor threatened the kinds of sanctions it imposed on Libya - a striking disparity that is fueling ­anti-U.S. sentiment among Bahraini opposition groups.

"Even though the American administration's words are all about freedom and democracy and change, in Bahrain, the reality is that they're basically a protection for the dictatorship," said Zainab al-Khawaja, a prominent human-rights activist who began a hunger strike after her father, husband and brother-in-law were arrested at her apartment over the weekend.


US: FAA changing air controllers' schedules after another falls asleep

© Clif Owen/AP
The FAA control tower at Reagan National Airport is seen in Arlington.
The crisis that has engulfed the nation's air-traffic system deepened Saturday as another air-traffic controller was discovered sleeping on the job, the government announced.

In this case, the controller was working a midnight shift at a crowded facility in Miami. No flights were threatened during the episode, but federal officials also announced they're instituting schedule changes to minimize fatigue among the thousands who work during the wee hours.

In what has become a wave of bad publicity for the nation's aviation system, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Saturday that it had discovered the sixth case of controllers suspected of sleeping on the job this year. None of the incidents has come close to triggering an accident, but the cases have undermined public confidence in the system and prompted widespread criticism.