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Food Price Shocks - Is Asia Bracing for an 'Acute' Jolt?

Food inflation will start hurting Asian economies by the end of the year if the current high prices are sustained over the next few months, with Vietnam, China and Hong Kong the most vulnerable, economists tell CNBC. Since mid-June, grains, namely corn, soybeans and wheat have rallied 38 percent, 24 percent and 45 percent, respectively, after the worst U.S. drought in a half a century wiped out crops in the world's biggest agricultural exporter. This prompted warnings from United Nations that the world could see a repeat of the food scare seen in 2008 as prices rose too rapidly, and officials from the Group of 20 countries to plan a meeting to discuss ways to cope with the price spikes.

While grain prices fell in New York on Tuesday because of rain across most of the Mid-West, prices will persist around current high levels, economists from Standard Chartered said in a report published this week. This is especially the case should high temperatures persist across much of the U.S. well into August, they said.


Tom Morrello Rages Against The Machine That Is Paul Ryan

© Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; Bill Clark/CQ Roll Cal
Tom Morello and Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan
Last week, Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, the Republican architect of Congress's radical right-wing budget plan, as his running mate. Ryan has previously cited Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands. Rage guitarist Tom Morello responds in this exclusive op-ed.

Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.

Ryan claims that he likes Rage's sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don't care for Paul Ryan's sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.

I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!


Canadian Police Find Severed Human Head and Foot in Park Near Toronto

Police have little information about discovery that comes a month after a human head was found in a Montreal park.

A severed human head and foot have been discovered in a park near Toronto, police in Canada said Thursday.

Peel police acting inspector Randy Cowan said officers discovered the head Thursday morning in the Credit river in Mississauga.

Cowan said it's not clear whether the foot belongs to a man or a woman, but investigators believe it was severed in recent weeks. Police have not said if the foot and head are from the same person.

"Without a cause of death we can't call it homicide, but certainly foul play, there's definitely something amiss," said Cowan.

The right foot was found in the Credit river near the Hewick Meadows Park by hikers and the police marine unit found the head later Thursday.


Air France asks passengers to 'chip in for fuel' after flight stranded in Damascus

air france
Passengers on Air France, who were on a flight that was diverted from Beirut and landed instead in Damascus, were asked to chip in money and help pay for refueling the plane.

"We went down in Syria where there were lots of soldiers. We thought there were some problems and that there was no money to pay for the fuel," News.com.au quoted Najib, who was a passenger on the flight, as saying.

"They asked if the passengers could contribute for the refueling," he added.

Najib claimed that the flight from Paris was diverted to Damascus because of tensions in Beirut and then flew on to Larnaca.

"There were some negotiations going on to buy fuel because Air France doesn't fly to Damascus at the moment," another passenger said.


ebay Bans Sales of Supernatural Items: Magic Spells, Potions, Hexes

Los Angeles - Making a profit on the occult arts? Cultivating a loyal customer base for potions, magic spells and psychic readings? Not on eBay (EBAY), you're not.

In its 2012 Fall Seller Update, the online marketplace said it was banning all sales of supernatural goods and services, exiling its witchy and wizardly clientele to the wilds of Craigslist and other Web-based Diagon Alleys.

Among the prohibited items: "advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic services; prayers; blessings; Psychic, Tarot, Reiki, and other metaphysical readings & services; magic potions; healing sessions."

EBay representatives did not immediately respond to questions as to why Harry Potter wannabes were no longer welcome or whether they contributed substantially to eBay transactions.

But beginning Aug. 30, attempts to list such enchantments for sale will be blocked, according to the website.

No Entry

'Zombie Parade' Banned in Siberia

© RIA Novosti/Andrei Voloshin
Authorities in the Siberian city of Omsk ban have reversed their decision and decided to ban a 'Zombie Parade' after criticism from the Orthodox Church and other public organizations.

The organizer of the youth event Mikhail Yakovlev, said the city administration named three reasons for their decision.

"Firstly, I supposedly failed to notify them in time. Secondly, I did not submit a program of the event. I did both things, though. But the third reason is most shocking: they said the Zombie Parade contradicts the Russian Constitution and the Human Rights Declaration," he told Metromsk news portal.

However, in a private conversation with an employee of Omsk's district administration, Yakovlev found out that the 'raising of the dead' was frowned on by a number of organizations, including the local Orthodox Church and the Muslim Community.

"The' Zombie Parade' bears no ideological or protest meaning: it is simply an entertainment for youngsters," Yakovlev told RIA Novosti.The event - which was planned for August 19 - was officially announced as a costume exhibition. About a hundred people - disguised as zombies and smeared with artificial blood - were to march through Omsk's central street and then have a photo shoot.


Russian Activists Sue Madonna for $10m in 'Moral Damages'

© RIA Novosti/Alexey Danichev
Pop singer Madonna performs at the Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex in St. Petersburg.
The pro-Kremlin group Trade Union of Russian Citizens is taking US pop icon Madonna to court for blasphemy, and for damaging the cultural foundations of St. Petersburg, where she held her latest concert in Russia.

The activists will sue the singer on August 17 in the Moskovsky District Court in St. Petersburg, they said. They are seeking compensation of 333 million roubles (over $10 million) from Madonna, and from the company that organized the concert.

"She insulted the believers' feelings, she promoted homosexuality when there were children at the concert and this is forbidden in St Petersburg. We, the residents of the cultural capital, suffered a colossal moral damage," union spokesperson Darya Dedova told the press.

The activists plan to demonstrate video records of Madonna stepping on the Russian Orthodox Cross and asking the public to raise their hands with pink bracelets, supposedly a sign of solidarity with the LGBT community, Dedova said.


At Least 18 Killed as South African Police Open Fire on Thousands of Striking Miners

© Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
A policeman gestures in front of some of the dead miners after they were shot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, August 16, 2012.
At least 18 bodies were seen lying bloody and motionless on the ground after local police opened fire on striking miners, a South African news agency reports. Some of the protesters were allegedly armed with machetes and spears.

­The incident is believed to have occurred after police, in the process of laying down barricades of barbed wire, were outflanked by a crowd of 3,000 demonstrators.

Nine people had been killed prior to Thursday's clashes in a spate of protest in the mining town, located northwest of Johannesburg. The platinum mine, owned by Lonmin PLC, has been the focal point of protests over wage disputes since last Friday.

Fighting intensified over the weekend when two police officers were killed. Striking workers and local security guards have also been caught up in the violence.

Heart - Black

US Army Suicides Doubled in July

soldier, PTSD
Suicides among active-duty soldiers in July more than doubled from June, accelerating a trend throughout the military this year that has prompted Pentagon leaders to redouble efforts to solve this problem.

The Army, which is the only branch of the military that issues monthly press statements on suicides, said 26 active-duty soldiers killed themselves in July, compared to 12 in June. The July total was the highest for any month since the Army began keeping such statistics, according to Lt. Col. Lisa Garcia, an Army spokeswoman.

The Marine Corps had eight suicides in July, up from six in June. The July figure was its highest monthly total of 2012 and pushed its total for the year so far to 32 - equal to the Marines' total for all of 2011.

The Air Force said it had six in July, compared to two in June. The Navy had four in July but its June figure was not immediately available.


Federal Air Marshals Face Assault Charges after Drunken Bar Fight in Grand Rapids


Matthew Davids
At least one, possibly two federal air marshals are reportedly facing assault charges in Kent County following a drunken bar fight in downtown Grand Rapids earlier this summer.

Matthew Carl Davids of Manchester, Mich., whom WZZM 13 reports is a five-year veteran of the Transportation Security Agency, is awaiting arraignment on misdemeanor assault charges in 61st District Court in Grand Rapids.

Court records show that Davids, 34, turned himself into authorities on Aug. 6 and posted bond the same day, following a Grand Rapids Police investigation into a late night drunken brawl on June 6 at the corner of Ionia Ave and Weston Street SW.

The fight happened at 2:15 a.m. and a victim who alleges he was kicked in the groin, said the incident happened when one of the marshals shoved a woman near a hot dog cart and then punched another man who tried to help her, reported WZZM.

The station reports that a second marshal, Jon Holdsworth, is also facing a similar assault charge, although no court records are immediately available on Holdsworth.