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Wall Street slides amid fears over impact of Japan quake

© Eugene Hoshiko/AP
A man looks at a stock price board in Tokyo Monday. The Tokyo stock market plunged Monday, its first business day after an earthquake and tsunami of epic proportions laid waste to cities along Japan’s northeast coast, killing thousands.
Wall Street followed Japanese stocks lower Monday, as investors worried about the impact of Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami that laid waste to cities along Japan's northeast coast, killing thousands and causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.

The Dow Jones industrial average was lately down 90 points. Shares in Europe mostly fell, led lower by shares of insurance and luxury shares on worries over the sectors' exposure to Japan.

"The market is clearly focused on Japan," said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, N.J. "It's the horror of the human toll and secondarily what it means for global demand."

Earlier Monday, the Tokyo stock market plunged, closing down 6.18 percent on its first day of business after the earthquake and tsunami. Shares in other Asian markets were mixed.

Oil prices dropped below $99 a barrel as the disaster threatened to send Japan, the world's third-largest economy, into a recession that could crimp demand for crude. In currencies, the dollar was down against the yen and the euro.


Global food prices hit record high

Big companies have increased their product prices because of higher raw material costs
Problem is set to worsen after a massive snowstorm in the United States and floods in Australia.

World food prices have hit their highest level on record in January, the United Nations has said.

It said on Thursday that its Food and Agriculture Organisation Food Price Index rose for the seventh month in a row to reach 231, topping the peak of 224.1 last seen in June 2008.

It is the highest level the index has reached since records began in 1990.

"The new figures clearly show that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating. These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come," said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist for FAO, which is based in Rome.


Civil unrest and food riots predicted in the UK by senior economist

© All Voices
The price of wheat, sugar, oil and other foodstuffs has risen sharply
The UK is experiencing a hike in inflation. After quite a few years when inflation was under control, it is hitting everyone hard. Added to the expected increases, conflict in the middleeast looks set to push oil prices through the roof. This in turn increases the price of basic food stuffs further. With a coalition government determined to reduce the country's debts immediately, it looks like we are in for a bumpy ride.

The latest UK predictions, from a senior economist at the worldwide bank of HSBC, make for gloomy reading. In fact they indicate doom, as well as gloom.

As Karen Ward, the economist in question, has pointed out, peoples incomes in the UK are on a downward spiral. There will be few, if any, ordinary citizens who would disagree with that. Most public sector workers who usually receive an annual cost of living increase, however small, in their pay-packets will be disappointed this year. These increases have been frozen for the foreseeable future.


'Revolution, food riots in America by 2012'

The man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and the fall of the Soviet Union is now forecasting revolution in America, food riots and tax rebellions - all within four years, while cautioning that putting food on the table will be a more pressing concern than buying Christmas gifts by 2012.

Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, is renowned for his accuracy in predicting future world and economic events, which will send a chill down your spine considering what he told Fox News this week.

Celente says that by 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts.


PHOTOS: Surging Food Prices Are Sparking Riots All Around The World

Rising food inflation sparked violence across the Middle East and South Asia over the weekend, as demonstrators protested the high cost of staple commodities like sugar, rice and milk.

The outbursts ignited fears that the world is due for a repeat of the 2008 food protests that rocked countries as far apart as Haiti, Senegal and Bangladesh.

Food prices are now at an all time high, and are trending higher, indicating that this may be only the beginning of the food riot problem.

Riots erupt in Algeria Thursday after prices spike for staples like sugar, milk and flour.
© Associated Press
Youth react in a street of the Bab el Oued district of Algiers, during the night, Thursday Jan. 6, 2011, as part of a protest over the rising cost of living.

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California, US: Helicopter crashes at Raytheon warehouse in El Segundo

A helicopter crashed into a Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems warehouse in El Segundo this morning, causing an intense fire and severely injuring the pilot.

Lucky: A pilot escaped alive after his helicopter crashed and burst into flames in El Segundo, south of Los Angeles
The Sikorsky helicopter was attempting to lift an industrial air-conditioning unit to be replaced at 9:30 a.m. when the aircraft lost control and crashed onto the patio next to the building, El Segundo Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Guyer said.

Fuel leaked onto mechanical parts and caught fire, which immediately spread to the two-story building known on site as E-1, Guyer said. The pilot was pulled to safety and taken to a nearby trauma hospital. The extent of his injuries was not released.

Star of David

Jewish prayer ritual alarms Alaska Airlines crew

An orthodox Jewish prayer observance by three passengers aboard an Alaska Airlines flight on Sunday alarmed flight attendants unfamiliar with the ritual, prompting them to lock down the cockpit and issue a security alert, officials said.

Alaska Flight 241 from Mexico City to Los Angeles International Airport landed safety at LAX and was met by fire crews, foam trucks, FBI agents, Transportation Security Administration personnel and police dispatched as a precaution.

The three men, all Mexican nationals, were escorted off the plane by police and questioned by the FBI before being released to make connecting flights to other countries, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. No charges were filed, she said.


'One poor harvest away from chaos'

© Getty Images
Hunger pains: millions of the worlds poorest people and the state of the global economy are threatened by the food price rises
Millions of the world's poorest people and the state of the global economy are threatened by the food price rises, writes Geoffrey Lean.

'Within a decade," promised the top representative of the world's mightiest country, "no man, woman or child will go to bed hungry."

Dr Henry Kissinger, at the height of his powers as US Secretary of State, was speaking to the landmark 1974 World Food Conference. Since then, the number of hungry people worldwide has almost exactly doubled: from 460 million to 925 million.

And this week the airwaves have been full of warnings that the formidable figure could be about to increase further, as a new food crisis takes hold. Some experts warned that the world could be on the verge of a "nightmare scenario" of cut‑throat competition for the control of shrinking supplies.

Bad Guys

New Zealand: DOC Seeking Public Help Over Bird Shooting

NZ dotterel
© Forest & Bird
The endangered NZ dotterel.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is hoping people will come forward with with information as it investigates the shooting of more than 100 protected birds in Northland.

The birds, which included godwits, knots and endangered dotterels, were shot at remote Okato Creek in Kaipara Harbour about February 27.

Some of them were left to suffer in agony.

DOC has said any information on the shooting could be given in confidence to visitor assets and historic ranger Awhi Nathan.

A prosecution could lead to fines of up to $100,000 and a jail term of up to six months.

Mr Nathan said today that he had yet to receive any calls since the case was made public.

Police had not been called in because there was not enough information for them to act on.

Mr Nathan said the shooting appeared to involve a group of people.

"A boat load of shooters came into a secluded bay and let rip with what sounded like automatic shotguns," he said.

Bizarro Earth

2nd Blast at Stricken Japan Nuclear Plant, New Tsunami Heads for Coast

A destroyed landscape
A destroyed landscape is pictured in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan, after an earthquake and tsunami struck the area, March 13, 2011.
A hydrogen explosion rocked the earthquake-stricken nuclear plant in Japan where authorities have been working desperately to avert a meltdown, while media said a fresh tsunami was heading for the same coastline that was hit last week.

Japan's nuclear agency confirmed there was an explosion at the No. 3 reactor of the Daiichi plant in Fukushima, and TV images showed smoke rising from the facility, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

Officials said they could not immediately confirm whether the blast had caused a radioactive leak.

Operators had earlier halted injection of sea water into the reactor, resulting in a rise in radiation levels and pressure. The government had warned that an explosion was possible because of the buildup of hydrogen in the building housing the reactor.