India buys 200 tonnes of gold from IMF reserves

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The IMF has announced it had sold 200 tonnes of gold to the Reserve Bank of India over the past two weeks. Traders reported that the huge sale had intensified interest in gold, which has now risen by almost 23% this year.

India said it was keen to diversify its reserves away from the US dollar, which has weakened in recent months.

Pranab Mukherjee, India’s finance minister, said: “We have money to buy gold. We have enough foreign exchange reserves.”

Erik Nilsson, senior economist at Scotia Capital, said the deal was “certainly indicative that the monetary authorities in India are not overwhelmingly upbeat about the outlook for the US dollar”.

The dollar has lost 6.5% of its value in the last five months, measured against a basket of other currencies. This has helped to push up the price of commodities priced in dollars, including gold and oil…

The IMF declined to say how much India had paid for the gold, saying only that it got “a good price”.

One would hope they did.

Transsexual Jesus upsets Glasgow Baptists

About 300 protesters held a candlelit protest outside a Glasgow theatre over the staging of a play which portrays Jesus as a transsexual.

The protest was held outside the Tron Theatre, where Jesus, Queen of Heaven – in which Christ is a transsexual woman – is being staged.

It is part of the Glasgay! arts festival, a celebration of Scotland’s gay, bi-sexual and transsexual culture…

Glasgay! producer Steven Thomson said: “Jesus Queen of Heaven is a literary work of fiction exploring the artist’s own personal journey of faith as a transgendered person.

Pastor Jack Bell, of the Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow, who took part in the protest, said: “We didn’t threaten anyone going into the play or any of the cast members…

“You can’t blaspheme God and use freedom of speech as an excuse for that.”

Glasgay! is described as “Scotland’s annual celebration of queer culture” and is funded by the Scottish Arts Council, Event Scotland, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and Glasgow City Council.

Certainly more useful and productive than sitting in some iron pew and attending to Pastor Jack, eh?

Oh crap! Quick, send back the money!

Would you take money from this man?

Scott Rothstein relished his flashy persona — the spiky hair, the Ferrari, the multi-million-dollar mansion. He was Bronx raised, Fort Lauderdale rich, and the politicians, charities and businesses that accepted his money rarely asked where it came from.

Until now.

On Tuesday, a Florida judge placed Mr. Rothstein’s law firm in receivership after his partner sued and federal authorities began investigating whether he defrauded investors of up to $400 million with a Ponzi scheme based on selling legal settlements.

Even without criminal charges, the accusations are already leading to panic from Tallahassee to Miami, and what appears to be the largest giveback of donations in the state’s political history.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Republican Party of Florida, which received more than $500,000 from Mr. Rothstein, his wife and his law firm since 2002, said it would place contributions from the most recent election cycle ($148,244) into a victim compensation fund.

Minutes later, the Democratic Party of Florida said it had just refunded a $200,000 donation received two months ago from Mr. Rothstein’s firm, followed by Gov. Charlie Crist’s Senate campaign, which said it would refund $9,600 in donations from Mr. Rothstein and his wife…

In all, election records show that in the last seven years, Mr. Rothstein has contributed to more than 20 Florida lawmakers from both parties; the Republican Party in six states; and a wide range of national leaders, including Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader and a Democrat, who received $4,800 in June.


Radioactive, toxic waste trickling toward NM water sources

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More than 60 years after scientists assembled the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lethal waste is seeping from mountain burial sites and moving toward aquifers, springs and streams that provide water to 250,000 residents of northern New Mexico.

Isolated on a high plateau, the Los Alamos National Laboratory seemed an ideal place to store a bomb factory’s deadly debris. But the heavily fractured mountains haven’t contained the waste, some of which has trickled down hundreds of feet to the edge of the Rio Grande, one of the most important water sources in the Southwest.

So far, the level of contamination in the Rio Grande has not been high enough to raise health concerns. But the monitoring of runoff in canyons that drain into the river has found unsafe concentrations of organic compounds such as perchlorate, an ingredient in rocket propellent, and various radioactive byproducts of nuclear fission.

Laboratory officials insist that the waste doesn’t jeopardize people’s health because even when storm water rushing down a canyon stirs up highly contaminated sediment, it is soon diluted or trapped in canyon bottoms, where it can be excavated and hauled away…

Except that when Lab officials aren’t lying about the dangers, they’re spending time stonewalling programs designed to clean up the waste.

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Republican moderates win 2 – Republican rightwing loses 1

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A Republican Party left for dead by many in the wake of recent Democratic landslides sprang back to life Tuesday with wins in hotly contested races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey.

However, the victories were tempered by the loss of a congressional seat in upstate New York held by the GOP since the Civil War, according to CNN projections.

In Virginia, 55-year-old former state attorney general Bob McDonnell will be the first Republican to win the state’s highest office in twelve years, CNN estimated. Republicans will win races for Virginia’s lieutenant governor and attorney general as well.

Former federal prosecutor Chris Christie, 47, will oust first-term Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in New Jersey, CNN projected. Christie will be the first Republican to win the top office in the heavily Democratic Garden State in 12 years…

A battle for a vacant Republican U.S. House seat worked against the GOP in upstate New York. The contest to fill the seat sparked a vicious internal fight between GOP conservatives and moderates.

The struggle was viewed as a proxy for a national struggle between activists arguing the GOP slipped by betraying conservative values and officials warning a rightward move would further alienate an increasingly independent-minded electorate.

The split resulted in the election of Bill Owens — the first Democratic congressman from that region since the late 1800s.

RTFA for average analysis of pretty predictable results.

Two moderate Republicans won governor races in states where centrists usually win. One right-wing nutball supported by the opportunist Right in the Republican Party lost the party a seat they’ve held for 100 years.

Voter turnout for off-year elections was predictably mediocre.

Civil Rights for the gay community in America lost a squeaker in Maine – and look to be winning in Washington state. No surprise for anyone who ever battled through previous struggles against racism in America.

Pentagon expands crash analysis to 1,300 satellites

The U.S. military said on Tuesday it is now tracking 800 maneuverable satellites on a daily basis for possible collisions and expects to add 500 more non-maneuvering satellites by year’s end.

The U.S. Air Force began upgrading its ability to predict possible collisions in space after a dead Russian military communications satellite and a commercial U.S. satellite owned by Iridium collided on Feb. 10.

General Kevin Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, called the collision the “seminal event” in the satellite industry during the past year and said it destroyed any sense that space was so vast that collisions were highly improbable.

He said military officials had wanted to do more thorough analysis of possible collisions in space, but had lacked the resources. Before the collision, he said they were tracking less than 100 satellites a day.

It’s amazing what one collision will do to the resource spigot,” he told a space conference in Omaha, Nebraska.

The crash, which was not predicted by the U.S. military or private tracking groups, underscored the vulnerability of U.S. satellites, which are used for a huge array of military and civilian purposes.

That’s more than just potential for an “Oops!”