Saturday, 29 June 2013


Britain could create first 'three-parent baby' through IVF

Britain will become the first country in the world to create babies with the DNA of three people under government plans which could see the procedure offered on the NHS by next year.

Parents at high risk of having children with severe disabilities such as muscular dystrophy will be offered the controversial new IVF treatment after it was given the green light by ministers today.
It means the world's first "three-parent baby" could be born in Britain by 2015, if detailed proposals for regulating the procedure pass a public consultation and are approved by Parliament next year.
Up to 10 patients per year are expected to undergo the treatment, which involves replacing a fraction of the mother's damaged DNA with that of a healthy donor.
The process avoids the risk of the mother passing inherited defects, which can lead to a host of rare and debilitating conditions affecting the heart, muscles and brain, on to her children.
The technique is controversial because it involves "germ line" modification of the embryo's DNA, meaning the third party's genetic material would not only be passed on to the child, but also to future generations down the female line.
But ministers will publish draft regulations later this year allowing the therapy to "high-risk" families after a previous public consultation conducted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority last year revealed overall support.
The technique is aimed at tackling a collection of rare hereditary conditions which are caused by mutated mitochondria – structures which supply power to our cells.
About 99.8 per cent of our DNA, including all the genes which govern our appearance and identity, is found in the nucleus of cells and is inherited evenly from both parents, but a small fraction resides in the power-supplying mitochondria and is only passed on from mother to child.
Defects in the mitochondria can cause a range of serious problems including muscular dystrophy and affect about one in every 6,500 children born in the UK – greater than the number affected by childhood cancer.
So-called "mitochondrial replacement" therapy would avoid the risk of mothers transmitting such defects to their children, while still passing on the rest of their and their partner's characteristics.
Doctors would remove the nucleus from a donor egg and replace it with the equivalent genetic material from the mother's egg, either before or after fertilisation by the father.
The resulting egg could then be implanted and fertilised if necessary using standard IVF techniques. The child would inherit its identity from its mother and father but would gain their power-supplying mitochondria from the donor.
Prof Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, compared the process to changing a faulty battery in a car. The new mitochondria from the third parent make the child healthy but would not change their outward appearance.
"Mitochondrial disease can have a devastating impact on people who inherit it," she said. "It's only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can."
Professor Doug Turnbull, who pioneered the technique at Newcastle University, added: "I am delighted that the Government is moving forward with publishing draft regulations this year and a final version for debate in Parliament next year.
"This is excellent news for families with mitochondrial disease. This will give women how carry these diseased genes more reproductive choice and the opportunity to have children free of mitochondrial disease."


Bank Transfers and Services Suspended in China: ATMs, POS Machines, Online Banking Paralyzed 50 Minutes

Several readers sent a link to an article regarding online bank outages and suspended services in China. The translation show below is very choppy. If a reader has a better translation or a different source I will post it.

Please consider Bank of China, Bank of suspension of transfers morning counters were unable to apply for online banking
 WASHINGTON (correspondent with Xuan) Following the ICBC, the Bank of China also go awry again. This morning, the Bank of China Bank moratorium on transfers, online banking, counters are inoperable.

10:00 many, many people began to receive messages sent to the Bank of China, "the end result of the Bank of China Bank failures, bank customers can not carry on through the Bank transfers, please Bank online banking, bank counter or use of other bank transfer system, Bank system will be restored promptly notify you. "large number of transfer business banking needs of the people turned to online banking, counter, but according to the instructions of the public still found text messages can not handle.

Reporters call the BOC, customer service said, now silver has been fully suspended phase transfer services, online banking, the counter can not be handled, and now has the background system response, recovery time is not yet known.

As of 12:00, the Bank customer service said handle part of the user's online banking has been restored.

Just yesterday, 10:35, Shanghai and other places ICBC system failures, ATM machines, POS machines, online banking appeared paralyzed more than 50 minutes, all kinds of businesses can not properly handle.

The ICBC bank system failure comes trouble "money shortage", inevitably lead to speculation that many people guess the bank is not money.

To solve this problem, ICBC relevant person in charge told reporters that morning, business process slow, the analysis on the host software upgrade, emergency treatment, 11:27 various businesses all returned to normal.

As for speculation that the crash might be the last two days the inter-bank "money shortage" relevant, ICBC has denied.
The above is an unedited Google translation. Is this a massive software glitch or is something else in the works?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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New EU Plan Will Make Every Bank Account In Europe Vulnerable To Cyprus-Style Wealth Confiscation

European Union Bank Account ConfiscationDid you actually believe that they were not going to use the precedent that they set in Cyprus?  On Thursday, EU finance ministers agreed to a shocking new plan that will make every bank account in Europe vulnerable to Cyprus-style bail-ins.  In other words, the wealth confiscation that we just witnessed in Cyprus will now be used as a template for future bank failures all over Europe.  That means that if you have a bank account in Europe, you could wake up some morning and every penny in that account over 100,000 euros could be gone.  That is exactly what happened in Cyprus, and now EU officials plan to do the same thing all over Europe.  For quite a while EU officials insisted that Cyprus was a "special case", but now we see that was a lie.  International outrage over what happened in Cyprus has died down, and now they are pushing forward with what they probably had planned all along.  But why have they chosen this specific moment to implement such a plan?  Are they anticipating that we will see a wave of bank failures soon?  Do they know something that they aren't telling us?(Read More....)

Friday, 28 June 2013


A high Iranian politician believes the Syrian revolution could be the catalyst for sparking a worldwide conflagration that will usher in an era of Muslim domination of the world.
“One can smell from the crisis in Syria the coming … of the end of times and the coming of the last Islamic messiah,” said Ruhollah Hosseinian, a member of the Islamic regime’s parliament. Previously he was deputy of the Intelligence Ministry and a member of board of trustees of Islamic Revolution Document Center.
Shiites, whose clerics rule Iran with an iron fist, believe that at the end of times, the 12th Imam, Mahdi, a 9th century prophet, will reappear with Jesus Christ at his side, kill all the infidels and raise the flag of Islam in all four corners of the world. Many analysts believe Iran is seeking nuclear capability to bring on that Armageddon.
Based on hadiths by Muhammad and his descendants, the Syrian revolution is a start to the coming of Mahdi, Hosseinian said in a speech quoted Thursday by Fars News Agency, a media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards.
“Imam Sadegh (the Shiites’ 4th Imam) has stated, when the masters of the yellow flag (Lebanese Hezbollah) engage in a conflict with anti-Shiite elements in Damascus and Iranian forces join them, this is a sign and a prelude to the coming of his highness (Mahdi),” Hosseinian said. “We see that (now) the masters of the yellow flag are engaged with anti-Shiite groups in Damascus. Perhaps this is the event that promises the coming and that we must prepare ourselves.”
Hadiths from Ali, the Shiites’ 1st imam, also state that a sign of the coming will be the fall of the walls of Damascus. A tight-knit coalition of Syrian loyalists, Hezbollah fighters and Iranian forces is fighting against a loose coalition of Syrian rebels and al-Qaida fighters. The anti-Assad forces have brought their fight to inside Damascus.
Hosseinian told the audience that they should prepare themselves for war.
“The coming of his highness is assured … the prophet has promised that people from the east, which according to the hadith means Iran, take power and prepare for the government of Imam Mahdi.”
Become a part of the investigative reporting team uncovering the truths about Iran, and get author Reza Kahlili’s “A Time to Betray” about his life as a double agent inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Hosseinian said that because of the belief in Mahdi, many Christians have converted to Shiism, “including a French philosopher who converted to Shiism and wrote … that because of the Shiites’ belief in Mahdi and that a human being will appear to establish justice in the world … this was the reason ‘for me’ to become a Shiite.”
WND reported on June 23 that the Islamic regime’s newly elected president, Hassan Rohani, attributed his victory in the June 15 voting to the 12th Imam, showing the deep belief of regime officials of the coming of Mahdi.
“This victory and the epic saga are without a doubt due to the special kindness of the Imam Zaman (Mahdi) and the measures taken by the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), especially his guidance and words. … Without his management, then it was not clear if the people of Iran would witness such a day filled with joy,” Rohani said.
Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani, in his Friday prayer speech last week congratulating Rohani for his election, said that, “Before the reappearance of Imam Zaman (Mahdi), the struggle will reach its peak … in that fight there won’t even be mercy on the womb in the mother’s belly.”
He urged Muslims to prepare the grounds for the coming of Mahdi.
Recently Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the Iranian military chief of staff, criticized President Obama’s decision to provide weapons to rebel factions in Syria and warned, “Obama has made his most dangerous blunder today as president of the U.S. when, with the deceit of the Israelis, he issued an order of sending weapons for terrorists in Syria. Today the shipment of arms to the Syrian terrorists won’t solve anything as the Syrian nation with its national army will force the Israeli mercenaries to retreat and escape.”
As WND reported exclusively last year, a joint war room was created among Iran, Hezbollah and Syria to defeat the opposition in Syria and respond to any possible attack by U.S. or NATO forces with a directive for an immediate response to fire a barrage of missiles from the three allies not only toward Israel but also at American assets in the region.
The British paper The Independent reported on June 16 that Iran has decided to send 4,000 troops from its Revolutionary Guards forces to Syria to assure President Bashar Assad’s survival.
Also Read:

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Russia evacuates Tartus, also military, diplomatic personnel from Syria. High war alert in Israel

Shortly after the DEBKA aired a special video on the Syrian war’s widening circle, Moscow announced Wednesday June 26, that the evacuation which had begun Friday of all military and diplomatic personnel from Syria was now complete, including the Russian naval base at Tartus.
“Russia decided to withdraw its personnel because of the risks from the conflict in Syria, as well as the fear of an incident involving the Russian military that could have larger consequences,” said a defense ministry official in Moscow. He stressed that a 16-ship naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean remains on post and arms shipments, including anti-air weapons, would continue to the Syrian government in keeping with former contracts.
In another sign of an impending escalation in Syria, the Israeli Golan brigade staged Wednesday an unannounced war maneuver on the Golan, attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and top army chiefs. In London, Prime Minister David Cameron called the government’s National Security Council into session in Downing Street on Syria. Opposition leader Ed Milliband was invited to attend the meeting, a custom observed only when issues of the highest security importance are discussed.
Earlier Wednesday, DEBKAfile carried the following report in its special video presentation under the heading: Putin and Obama cross swords on Syrian. What Next?
The sullen confrontation between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland last week condemned Syria to five months of escalating, unresolved vicious warfare – that is until the two leaders meet again in September.
For now, tempers are heating up between Washington and Moscow on Syria and other things too, notably the elusive American fugitive Edward Snowden.
US and Israeli intelligence watchers see the Syrian crisis entering seven ominous phases:
1. A five-month bloodbath centering on the battle for Aleppo, a city of 2.2 million inhabitants.
The Syrian army plus allies and the fully-mobilized opposition will hurl all their manpower and weapons into winning the city.
Military experts don’t expect the rebels to hold out against Assad’s forces beyond late August.
2.  Neither side has enough manpower or game-changing weaponry for winning the war outright.
That is, unless Presidents Obama or Putin steps in to retilt the balance.
3. The US and Russia are poised for more military intervention in the conflict up until a point just short of a military clash on Syrian soil – or elsewhere in the Middle East. US intelligence analysts have judged Putin ready to go all the way on Syria against the US - no holds barred.
The Russian president is meanwhile deliberately goading Washington and raising temperatures by playing hide-and-seek over the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, charged with espionage for stealing and leaking classified intelligence. At home, he is considered variously as a traitor and a brave whistleblower.
For several hours Snowden vanished between Hong Kong and Moscow – until the Russian president admitted he was holed up in the transit area of Moscow airport and would not be extradited by Russia to the United States.
4.  Iran, Hizballah and Iraq will likewise ratchet up their battlefield presence.
5. A violent encounter is building up between Middle East Shiites flocking to Syria to save the Assad regime alongside Russia, and the US-backed Sunni-dominated rebel forces.
It could scuttle the secret US-Iranian negotiating track on its nuclear program, which was buoyed up by the election of the pragmatic Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran.
6.  The Geneva-2 Conference for a political solution for the Syrian crisis is dead in the water. Moscow and the US are divided by unbridgeable issues of principle, such whether Bashar Assad should stay or go and Iranian representation. 
7.  So long as the diplomatic remains stuck in the mud, the prospects of a regional war spreading out of the Syrian conflict are rising. Iran, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon may be dragged in at any moment – if they have not already, like Lebanon.
A small mistake by one of the Syrian warring parties in Syria could, for example, touch off Israeli retaliation and a wholesale spillover of violence.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


Italy heading for EU rescue 'within six months' as crisis deepens

Getty Images

ITALY is likely to need an EU rescue within six months as the country slides into deeper economic crisis and a credit crunch spreads to large companies, a top Italian bank has warned privately.

Mediobanca, Italy's second-biggest bank, said its "index of solvency risk" for Italy was already flashing warning signs as the worldwide bond rout continued into a second week, pushing up borrowing costs.
"Time is running out fast," said Mediobanca's top analyst, Antonio Guglielmi, in a confidential client note.
"The Italian macro situation has not improved over the last quarter, rather the contrary. Some 160 large corporates in Italy are now in special crisis administration."
The report warned that Italy will "inevitably end up in an EU bailout request" over the next six months, unless it can count on low borrowing costs and a broader recovery.
Emphasising the gravity of the situation, it compared the crisis to when the country was blown out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 despite drastic austerity measures.
Italy's €2.1 trillion debt is the world's third-largest after the US and Japan. Any serious stress in its debt markets threatens to reignite the eurozone crisis. This may already have begun after the US Federal Reserve signalled last week that it will begin to drain dollar liquidity from the global system.
Italian 10-year yields spiked to 4.8pc, up 100 basis points since the Fed began to toughen its language in May. But Mediobanca is particularly concerned about the gap that has emerged between yields on short-term bills (BOTs) and longer-term bonds (BTPs) near maturity that expire at the same time.
BOTs retiring on July 31 are trading at a yield of 0.48pc, while the equivalent BTP is trading at 0.74pc. The reason is that BOTs are protected from debt restructuring.
"The bills never get a haircut, so people are fleeing bonds instead as positions gets squeezed," said one City trader.
Sovereign debt strategist Nicolas Spiro said "taper terror" is jolting eurozone investors out of their complacency, though safe-haven Swiss and German bonds have also sold off sharply in the rout. (© Daily Telegraph, London).

Monday, 24 June 2013


It is not hard to find stereotypes, caricatures and outright bigotry when talk in the Middle East turns to the tensions between Islam’s two main sects.
Shi’ites are described as devious, power-hungry corruptors of Islam. Sunnis are called extremist, intolerant oppressors.
Hatreds between the two are now more virulent than ever in the Arab world because of Syria’s civil war. On Sunday, officials said four Shi’ites in a village west of Cairo were beaten to death by Sunnis in a sectarian clash unusual for Egypt.
Hard-line clerics and politicians on both sides in the region have added fuel, depicting the fight as essentially a war of survival for their sect. But among the public, views are complex. Some sincerely see the other side as wrong — whether on matters of faith or politics. Others see the divisions as purely political, created for cynical aims. Even some who view the other sect negatively fear sectarian flames are burning dangerously out of control. There are those who wish for a return to the days, only a decade or two ago, when the differences did not seem so important and the sects got along better, even intermarried.
And some are simply frustrated that there is so much turmoil over a dispute that dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.“Fourteen centuries after the death of the prophet, in a region full of destruction, killing, occupation, ignorance and disease, you are telling me about Sunnis and Shi’ites?” scoffs Ismail al-Hamami, a 67-year-old Sunni Palestinian refugee in Gaza. “We are all Muslims. … You can’t ignore the fact that (Shi’ites) are Muslims.”
Associated Press correspondents spoke to Shi’ites and Sunnis across the region. Amid the variety of viewpoints, they found a public struggling with anger that is increasingly curdling into hatred.
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Saturday, 22 June 2013


World Health Organisation calls emergency meeting to respond to SARS-like outbreak

Health experts have started an emergency international meeting to devise ways of combating a mysterious virus that has been described as the single biggest worldwide public health threat after claiming 38 lives, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi man walks towards the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, 370 kms East of the Saudi capital Riyadh.
A Saudi man walks towards the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, 370 kms East of the Saudi capital Riyadh.  Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Amid fears of a new pandemic more deadly than Sars, 80 officials and doctors, including two from Britain, gathered in Cairo yesterday to examine ways of tackling Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, dubbed MERS.
The coronavirus is casting a shadow over the annual Muslim pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, where four new deaths were announced on Monday.
The three-day meeting called by the World Health Organisation will look at developing guidelines for Ramadan. In October, more than two million people are expected to attend the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
"Everyone is very aware of the fact that Ramadan begins next month and that there will be a large, large movement of people in a small crowded spaces," said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO. "So the more we know about this virus before that starts the better."
There are also concerns that tourists could bring the virus back to their home countries. It appears to have an incubation period of up to 12 days and a fatality rate of 60 per cent.
Cases have also been found in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Jordan. Most were patients transferred home from the Middle East for treatment or people who had travelled to the region and became ill after they returned.
Dr Jon Bible, a clinical scientist, who treated one of the three British cases last year, said: “You don’t want to have this.”
Sufferers, he said, “are very close to death at all times. They are in respiratory distress at all times, it’s like a very serious pneumonia”.
His patient at St Thomas’s Hospital survived after several months of artificial respiration and even now has breathing difficulties.
The relief for authorities is that it has not yet mutated so as to gain the ability to jump easily from person to person.
Mr Hartl said: “We have been lucky it hasn’t started to spread in any sustainable way between humans. We still have time, but we have to use that time to act.”
An international team of doctors who investigated nearly two dozen cases in eastern Saudi Arabia found the virus has some striking similarities to SARS, which killed 800 people around the world as it spread a global health panic in 2003.
Unlike SARS, though, scientists remain baffled about the source of the new virus, which was first reported in April 2012.
The symptoms of both are similar, with an initial fever and cough that may last for a few days before overpowering pneumonia develops.
"To me, this felt a lot like SARS did," said Trish Perl, a senior hospital epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who was part of the team. Their report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr Perl said they pinpoint how it was spread in every case - through droplets from sneezing or coughing, or a more indirect route.
The team was alarmed to find MERS only spread within hospitals, even though some hospital patients were not close to the infected person.
"In the right circumstances, the spread could be explosive," said Dr Perl.
What is of particular concern is the high fatality rate of the virus. It has caused death in about 60 percent of patients so far, with 75 percent of cases in men and most in people with serious health conditions. There are currently no known treatments.
Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, previously called MERS a “threat to the entire world”.
Dr Dipti Patel, joint director of Public Health England’s National Travel Health Network and Centre, said: “Given that there have only been a relatively small number of confirmed MERS-CoV coronavirus cases worldwide, people planning to travel to the Middle East should continue with their plans but follow the general advice about staying safe and healthy when travelling, and especially the available guidance on the Hajj and Umrah."

Friday, 21 June 2013


Time to sober up as America and China remove punch bowl

The US Federal Reserve has refused to blink. The Chinese central bank has refused to blink.
The authorities in the world's two biggest economies appear determined to strike a blow against moral hazard and clear the froth in asset markets, at least until this exhibition of virtue blows up in their faces.
The term "Perfect Storm" is banned by the Telegraph as a lamentable clich̩, so let us just say that this is the moment we long been fearing or waiting for Рdepending on taste Рwhen markets are no longer given what they want.
The Bernanke Put has become the Bernanke Call. The Politburo Put has become the Politburo Call. Rather than putting a floor under asset markets whenever there is trouble, they are instead putting a roof on asset price rises.
Opinions vary widely on what happened in Washington last night. My take is that Fed has just tightened monetary policy. Bernanke shifted the unemployment target from 6.5pc to 7pc, bringing the end of stimulus much closer.
Tapering of QE bond purchases is on track to begin in September. Bernanke's argument that tapering is not withdrawal of stimulus because rates will remain near zero for a long time is specious. Of course it is withdrawal of stimulus, ceteris paribus. Bernanke is of course a "creditist" who puts all his focus on interest rates, rather than looking at the quantity of money, so this confusion is the inevitable result of his model.
He choose to overlook the fall in core PCE inflation to 1.1pc, deeming it "transitory". We will see about that. Note that James Bullard from the St Louis Fed and the one real monetarist on the FOMC dissented on this point, and quite rightly so.
Bernanke choose too to take a rosy view of US growth and the ability of the economy to shake off the effects of the spending sequester and this year's fiscal tightening, playing down such details as the contraction of the Philly Fed's manufacturing index and a fall in the US ISM gauge to below the boom-bust line of 50.
The Fed had a chance to back away after observing the violent effects of QE taper fire-drill on half the world over the last month. It declined to do so.
My guess is that Bernanke does not entirely believe what he said yesterday, but has capitulated to Fed hawks, to the Federal Advisory Council, to the BIS, and to a chorus of QE critics. And perhaps he really has swallowed the line by Mishkin et al that the Fed itself risks blowing up unless its extricates itself from QE by 2014.
Let me point out that the Fed has already "tightened" prematurely three times in the last five years, coming to regret its haste within three months on each occasion.
It talked up the yield curve by 50 basis points in the late Spring of 2008 even though the money supply – which Bernanke does not look at – was clearly buckling. This led to the Fannie, Freddie, AIG, Lehman disaster that Autumn. (Don't tell it would have happened anyway whatever Fed did. That is rot).
It threatened to take away the punch bowl after QE1 and again after QE2, only to double-down later. It has persistently misread the difficulty of achieving economic "escape velocity."
As for the PBOC in Beijing, we are seeing a cold-eyed refusal to intervene with liquidity to stabilise the interbank lending market, where Shibor rates have surged to record highs.
It seems they really do wish to flush out the excesses in the shadow banking system. They view the rampant credit growth after the Lehman crash as a mistake, as indeed it was, and are furious that banks have evaded property lending curbs by going off books.
Credit has grown to 200pc of GDP, up 75 points in less than five years. Fitch says total credit has jumped from $9 trillion to $23 trillion, adding the equivalent of the entire US commercial banking system in five years.
It no longer buttering many turnips. The efficiency of credit – the extra GDP added by each extra yuan of loans – has fallen from a ratio of 0.85 to 0.15. At this point it risks becoming a pure Ponzi scheme, as SocGen's Wei Yao calls it.
So yes, the Chinese are right to be tough, but that does not mean they can easily control the denouement. After all, the Bank of Japan deliberately popped the Nikkei Bubble in 1990, and the Fed deliberately popped the Wall Street bubble in 1929. Whether or not it is deliberate is a greatly overrated element.
At best, we are heading for choppy waters. The HSBC manufacturing index for China fell further to 48.3 in June, so it appears that the industrial recession is deepening. Perhaps it is touching bottom. It had better be, with that kind of credit monster sitting on top of the system.
It is hard to know which matters most right now: the PBOC or the Fed. It is certainly a synergy of nastiness.
What we do know is that the start of Fed tightening is a dangerous inflection point for those markets and countries around the world that relied on the flood of dollar liquidity.
The whole process that flattered their profiles for so long is going into reverse, and it is happening just as the most overextended – Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Serbia, to name a few – have exhausted their own internal credit cycles. This is where we can expect the stress to appear. The real is down to 2.21 to the dollar today. I see they are already talking about 3 to the dollar at O Globo. Querido Deus.
More later.