XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 29 June 2012

France to require all drivers, including tourists, to carry hand-held breathalyzers in all vehicles -

France to require all drivers, including tourists, to carry hand-held breathalyzers in all vehicles - 




France on Sunday will become the first country to require all drivers, including tourists, to carry hand-held breathalyzers in all vehicles — a move to help the wine-loving country crack down on drunken driving.


The law takes effect July 1 and was approved in March 2011. It is aimed at convincing drivers to check their blood alcohol level before starting their vehicles.


The law is being watched closely by auto safety advocates in the United States. In the U.S., 10,228 people were killed in 2010 in alcohol-related crashes, down 4.9 percent over 2009


France had about 4,000 road deaths in 2011, down from 16,000 annually in the early 1970s. Nearly 30 percent of road deaths in France are alcohol-related — or about 1,150. That's about the same percentage in the United States.


Fines for not carrying one are small — 11 euros — or about $14 and begin in November. France has also instituted stricter drunk driving laws and tougher penalties in recent years.


France requires drivers to carry a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare light bulbs for headlamps.






From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120629/AUTO01/206290424/1361/French-to-require-all-drivers-to-carry-breathalyzer-to-curb-accidents

The Megapixel War Is Over - highest pixel count in a point-and-shoot camera is 16 megapixels -

The Megapixel War Is Over - highest pixel count in a point-and-shoot camera is 16 megapixels - 




For the first time since you could afford a digital camera, megapixel counts have stopped rising. There is finally an armistice in the Megapixel War of 1996-2011.


At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show—over a year ago—the highest pixel count in a point-and-shoot camera was 16 megapixels, up from 14MP the year before, 12MP the year before that, so on and so forth back into the late 1990s.


But at the 2012 edition of CES, something miraculous happened: The maximum pixel count plateaued. It stayed at 16MP—unchanged from the year before. If anything, the average pixel count across all cameras dropped a bit. It might be a little bit early to declare victory—another round of announcements usually comes in February—but there’s at least a lull in the battle.


Read more -
http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/News/The-Megapixel-War-Is-Over.htm

Earth adds leap second Saturday night -

Earth adds leap second Saturday night - 




Saturday night will stretch longer by a second. A leap second.
International timekeepers, directed from headquarters in Paris, are adding a second to the clock at midnight universal time Saturday, June 30, going into July 1. That's 8 p.m. EDT Saturday. Universal time will be 11:59:59 and then 11:59:60.
U.S. Naval Observatory spokesman Geoff Chester said a leap second is needed because the Earth is slowing down a bit from the tidal pull of the moon.
Timekeepers add a leap second every now and then to keep the sun at its highest at noon, at least during standard time. This is the first leap second since January 2009 and the 25th overall.




Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/06/29/wait-for-it-earth-adds-leap-second-saturday-night/

17 Reasons To Be EXTREMELY Concerned About The Second Half Of 2012 -

17 Reasons To Be EXTREMELY Concerned About The Second Half Of 2012 - 




What is the second half of 2012 going to bring?  Are things going to get even worse than they are right now?  Unfortunately, that appears more likely with each passing day.  I will admit that I am extremely concerned about the second half of 2012.  Historically, a financial crisis is much more likely to begin in the fall than during any other season of the year.  Just think about it.  The stock market crash of 1929 happened in the fall.  “Black Monday” happened on October 19th, 1987.  The financial crisis of 2008 started in the fall.  There just seems to be something about the fall that brings out the worst in the financial markets.  But of course there is not a stock market crash every year.  So are there specific reasons why we should be extremely concerned about what is coming this year?  Yes, there are.  The ingredients for a “perfect storm” are slowly coming together, and in the months ahead we could very well see the next wave of the economic collapse strike.  Sadly, we have never even come close to recovering from the last recession, and this next crisis might end up being even more painful than the last one.
The following are 17 reasons to be extremely concerned about the second half of 2012….
#1 Historical Trends
A recent IMF research paper by Luc Laeven and Fabi├ín Valencia showed that a banking crisis is far more likely to start in September than in any other month.  The following chart is from their report….


So what will this September bring?
#2 JP Morgan
Do you remember back in May when JP Morgan announced that it would be taking a 2 billion dollar trading loss on some derivatives trades gone bad?  Well, the New York Times is now reporting that the real figure could reach 9 billion dollars, but nobody really knows for sure.  At some point is JP Morgan going to need a bailout?  If so, what is that going to do to the U.S. financial system?
#3 Derivatives
Last week, Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 15 major global banks.  As a result, a number of them have been required to post billions of dollars in additional collateral against derivatives exposures….
Citigroup’s two-notch long-term rating downgrade from A3 to Baa2 could have led to US$500m in additional liquidity and funding demands due to derivative triggers and exchange margin requirements, according to the bank’s 10Q regulatory filing at the end of the first quarter.
Morgan Stanley – which Moody’s downgraded from A2 to Baa1 – said a two-notch downgrade from both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s could spur an additional US$6.8bn of collateral requirements in its latest 10Q. The bank did not break down its potential collateral calls under a scenario where only Moody’s downgraded the bank below the Single A threshold.
Royal Bank of Scotland estimated it may have to post £9bn of collateral as a result of the one-notch Moody’s downgrade to Baa1 in a statement on June 21, but did not detail how much of this additional requirement was driven by margin for swaps exposures.
The worldwide derivatives market is starting to show some cracks, and at some point this is going to become a major disaster.
Remember, the 9 largest U.S. banks have a total of more than 200 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  When this bubble completely bursts it is going to be impossible to fix.
#4 LEAP/E2020 Warning
LEAP/E2020 has issued a red alert for the global financial system for this fall.  They are warning that the “second half of 2012″ will represent a “major inflection point” for the global economic system….
The shock of the autumn 2008 will seem like a small summer storm compared to what will affect planet in several months.
In fact LEAP/E2020 has never seen the chronological convergence of such a series of explosive and so fundamental factors (economy, finances, geopolitical…) since 2006, the start of its work on the global systemic crisis. Logically, in our modest attempt to regularly publish a “crisis weather forecast”, we must therefore give our readers a “Red Alert” because the upcoming events which are readying themselves to shake the world system next September/ October belong to this category.
#5 Increasing Pessimism
One recent survey of corporate executives found that only 20 percent of them expect the global economy to improve over the next 12 months and 48 percent of them expect the global economy to get worse over the next 12 months.
#6 Spain
The Spanish financial system is basically a total nightmare at this point.  Moody’s recently downgraded Spanish debt to one level above junk status, and earlier this week Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 28 major Spanish banks.
According to CNBC, Spain’s short-term borrowing costs are now about three times higher than they were just one month ago….
Spain’s short-term borrowing costs nearly tripled at auction on Tuesday, underlining the country’s precarious finances as it struggles against recession and juggles with a debt crisis among its newly downgraded banks.
The yield paid on a 3-month bill was 2.362 percent, up from just 0.846 percent a month ago. For six-month paper, it leapt to 3.237 percent from 1.737 percent in May.
Needless to say, this is very, very bad news.
#7 Italy
The situation in Italy continues to deteriorate and many analysts believe that it could be one of the next dominoes to fall.  The following is from a recent Businessweek article….
The euro zone’s third-biggest economy is seen as the next domino at risk of toppling after the European Union’s June 9 deal to lend Spain $125 billion in bank bailout funds. Yields on Italy’s 10-year government bonds reached 6.2 percent on June 13, up from just 4.8 percent in March. By pushing up Italy’s borrowing costs out of fear of default, investors are making a default more likely.
A recent Fortune article detailed some of the economic fundamentals that have so many economists deeply concerned about the Italian economy right now….
The main glaring risk threats that could propel Italy down the path to become Europe’s next domino is the size of country’s outstanding debt (at €1.9 trillion or 120% of GDP); the mountain of debt it has to roll over in the next 12 months (nearly €400 billion); and the market’s cracking credibility around Prime Minister Mario Monti’s ability to reduce the country’s fiscal footprint and spur growth.
Further, fear around Italy’s creditworthiness, which has recently been expressed by near cycle highs in sovereign CDS spreads and government yields on the 10-year bond, foll ow some rather glaring negative fundamentals over recent quarters and years:  declining GDP over the last three consecutive quarters; a rising unemployment rate (especially among its youth); deterioration in labor market competitiveness; and increased competition for export goods to its key trading partners.
#8 Greece
I have written extensively about the financial nightmare that is unfolding in Greece.  Unemployment has soared past the 20 percent mark, youth unemployment is above 50 percent, the Greek economy has contracted by close to 25 percent over the past four years and now Greek politicians are saying that a third bailout package may be necessary.
#9 Cyprus
The tiny island nation of Cyprus has become the fifth member of the eurozone to formally request a bailout.  This is yet another sign that the eurozone is rapidly falling apart.
#10 Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to promote an austerity path for Europe and she continues to maintain her very firm position against any kind of eurozone debt sharing….
Merkel, speaking to a conference in Berlin today as Spain announced it would formally seek aid for its banks, dismissed “euro bonds, euro bills and European deposit insurance with joint liability and much more” as “economically wrong and counterproductive,” saying that they ran against the German constitution.
“It’s not a bold prediction to say that in Brussels most eyes — all eyes — will be on Germany yet again,” Merkel said. “I say quite openly: when I think of the summit on Thursday I’m concerned that once again the discussion will be far too much about all kinds of ideas for joint liability and far too little about improved oversight and structural measures.”
In fact, Merkel says that there will be no eurobonds “as long as I live“.  This means that there will be no “quick fix” for the problems that are unfolding in Europe.
#11 Bank Runs
Every single day, hundreds of billions of dollars is being pulled out of banks in southern Europe.  Much of that money is being transferred to banks in northern Europe.
In a previous article I included an extremely alarming quote from a CNBC article about the unfolding banking crisis in Europe….
Financial advisers and private bankers whose clients have accounts too large to be covered by a Europe-wide guarantee on deposits up to 100,000 euros ($125,000), are reporting a “bank run by wire transfer” that has picked up during May.
Much of this money has headed north to banks in London, Frankfurt and Geneva, financial advisers say.
“It’s been an ongoing process but it certainly picked up pace a couple of weeks ago We believe there is a continuous 2-3 year bank run by wire transfer,” said Lorne Baring, managing director at B Capital, a Geneva-based pan European wealth management firm.
How long can these bank runs continue before banking systems start to collapse?
#12 Preparations For The Collapse Of The Eurozone
As I have written about previously, the smart money has already written off southern Europe.  All over the continent major financial institutions are preparing for the worst.  For example, just check out what Visa Europe is doing….
Visa Europe is holding weekly meetings to discuss scenarios in the event the euro zone collapses, joining other companies that are preparing for a potential breakup of the currency bloc.
Chief Commercial Officer Steve Perry said Tuesday that management at the U.K.-based credit-card company meets weekly to explore various possible outcomes, including a total collapse of the euro zone.
#13 Global Lending Is Slowing Down
All over the globe the flow of credit is beginning to freeze up.  In fact, the Bank for International Settlements says that worldwide lending is contracting at the fastest pace since the financial crisis of 2008.
#14 Sophisticated Cyber Attacks On Banks
It is being reported that “very sophisticated” hackers have successfully raided dozens of banks in Europe.  So far, it is being estimated that they have stolen 60 million euros….
Sixty million euro has been stolen from bank accounts in a massive cyber bank raid after fraudsters raided dozens of financial institutions around the world.
According to a joint report by software security firm McAfee and Guardian Analytics, more than 60 firms have suffered from what it has called an “insider level of understanding”.
What happens someday if we wake up and all the money in the banks is gone?
#15 U.S. Municipal Bankruptcies
All over the United States there are cities and towns on the verge of financial disaster.  This week Stockton, California became the largest U.S. city to ever declare bankruptcy, but the reality is that this is only just the beginning of the municipal debt crisis….
Stockton, California, said it will file for bankruptcy after talks with bondholders and labor unions failed, making the agricultural center the biggest U.S. city to seek court protection from creditors.
“The city is fiscally insolvent and must seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection,” Stockton said in a statement released yesterday after its council voted 6-1 to adopt a spending plan for operating under bankruptcy protection.
#16 The Obamacare Decision
The U.S. economy is already a complete and total mess, and now the Obamacare decision is going to throw a huge wet blanket on it.  All over America, small business owners are saying that they are going to have to let some workers go because they cannot afford to keep them all under Obamacare.  It would be hard to imagine a more job killing law than Obamacare, and now that the Supreme Court decision has finally been announced we are going to see many businesses making some really hard decisions.


#17 The U.S. Election
It is being reported that Barack Obama is putting together an army of “thousands of lawyers” to deal with any disputes that arise over voting procedures or results.  It certainly looks like this upcoming election is going to be extremely close, and there is the potential that we could end up facing another Bush v. Gore scenario where the fate of the presidency is determined in court.  This campaign season is likely to be exceptionally nasty, and I fear what may happen if there is not a decisive winner on election day.  The possibility of significant civil unrest is certainly there.
We definitely live in “interesting” times.
Personally, I am deeply concerned about the September, October, November time frame.
The other day, Joe Biden delivered a speech in which he made the following statement….
“It’s A Depression For Millions And Millions Of Americans”
And what Biden said was right for once.  Millions of Americans are out of work right now and millions of Americans have fallen out of the middle class in recent years.  If you have lost everything, it does feel like you are living through a depression.
When people lose everything, they tend to get desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things – especially when they are angry.
A whole host of recent opinion polls have shown that anger and frustration in the United States are rising to unprecedented levels.  The ingredients are certainly there for an explosion.  Someone just needs to come along and light the fuse.  We truly do live in frightening times.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.


Read more - 
http://www.prisonplanet.com/17-reasons-to-be-extremely-concerned-about-the-second-half-of-2012.html

More People Killed By Bees or Drowning In Bath Than From Terrorism -

More People Killed By Bees or Drowning In Bath Than From Terrorism - 




An independent review of terrorism legislation in the UK notes that government rhetoric regarding terrorism is “exaggerated for political or commercial purposes” and that many more people are killed each year by bee stings.
The report by barrister David Anderson QC, highlights the fact that the average number of annual deaths as a result of terrorism or at the hands of terrorists in the UK this century is just five.
“During the 21st century, terrorism has been an insignificant cause of mortality in the United Kingdom.” Anderson writes.
“The annualised average of five deaths caused by terrorism in England and Wales over this period compares with total accidental deaths in 2010 of 17,201, including 123 cyclists killed in traffic accidents, 102 personnel killed in Afghanistan, 29 people drowned in the bathtub and five killed by stings from hornets, wasps and bees.”
Anderson also points out that not a single person in Britain has even been injured by a terrorist for over two years.
The report notes that in the year to March 2011, arrests of individuals suspected of being terrorists numbered just 141, the lowest figure since 2001/2. In addition there was only one conviction in a UK court on charges related to terrorism.


“Those figures compare with a total number of arrests for recorded crime in England and Wales alone of almost 1.4 million in 2010/11, including some 431,000 for offences of violence against the person, 37,000 for sexual offences, 34,000 for robbery and 93,000 for burglary.” the report notes.
The report suggests that the threat from terrorism is hugely over exaggerated and that draconian terrorism related laws should be reassessed.
“Terrorists are first and foremost criminals. Where possible and as a general rule, they should be prosecuted under the ordinary criminal law, to underline the fact that no special laws are necessary for the purpose and to prevent them from glamorising or politicising their offences…” the report states.
“The values of a liberal democracy deserve support from laws against terrorism, but the same values require that those laws be subject to strict scrutiny.” Anderson writes.


Read more - 
http://www.prisonplanet.com/report-more-people-killed-by-bees-drowning-in-bath-than-from-terrorism.html

U.S. Army Developing Laser That Shoots Lightning -

U.S. Army Developing Laser That Shoots Lightning - 






Soon, superheroes such as Thor won’t be the only ones who are able to use lightning to destroy their target.


U.S. Army personnel at Picatinny Arsenal are developing a military weapon that is able to shoot lightning bolts down laser beams, destroying any potential target with enough power to fuel a large metropolitan city.




The development of the Laser-Induced Plasma Channel comes as the military places more emphasis on eliminating targets that conduct electricity at a better rate than their environmental surroundings in the air and on the ground, according to the U.S. Army.


“We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated (targets),” George Fischer, the lead scientist on the project, told Army.mil.


Though the actual time of the lightning only goes for two-trillionths of a second, the amount of energy generated by the LIPC is jaw-dropping, estimated to be more than enough power to fuel a large city, Fisher said.


“If a laser puts out a pulse with modest energy, but the time is incredibly tiny, the power can be huge,” Fischer said. “During the duration of the laser pulse, it can be putting out more power than a large city needs, but the pulse only lasts for two-trillionths of a second.”


The lightning, which equates to 50 billion watts of optical power, is still in development mode as scientists continue to hammer out details for how to synchronize the LIPC with the high voltage, toughen up the device to survive extreme conditions and make the LIPC sustainable for the long term.


Read more - 
http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/06/28/army-developing-laser-that-shoots-lightning/

Coke and Pepsi contain ALCOHOL - Tests reveal more than half of leading colas contain minute traces of alcohol -

Coke and Pepsi contain ALCOHOL - Tests reveal more than half of leading colas contain minute traces of alcohol - 




Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain minute traces of alcohol, scientific research published in France has revealed.
The revelation will cause concern among those who chose the carbonated soft drink for religious, health or safety reasons.
According to tests carried out by the Paris-based National Institute of Consumption (INC) more than half of leading colas contain the traces of alcohol.



These include the brand leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola, while it is mainly only cheap supermarket versions of the drink which are alcohol-free.
‘60 Million Consumers’, the French magazine, publishes the results of the tests in its latest issue.
They suggest that the alcohol levels are as low as 10mg in every litre, and this works out at around 0.001 per cent alcohol.



But the figures will still be enough to upset the thousands of Muslims who regularly drink Cola because their religion forbids them from drinking alcohol.
Those who are teetotal and drink Coke regularly will also be worried, as will those who choose it as an alternative to alcohol when they are driving.
Of 19 colas tested, the nine which did not contain alcohol were made by brands including Auchan, Cora, Casino, Leader Price and Man U-Cola.




Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2165422/Coke-Pepsi-contain-tiny-traces-alcohol-reveals-French-research.html