Friday, October 24, 2014

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrapup, 10/24/2014”

“Weekly News Wrapup, 10/24/2014”
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 

Another week, another Ebola infection. This time, in crowded New York City. This after the government declared “U.S. Ramps up Fight on Ebola.” This time, a young American doctor who returned after treating Ebola victims in West Africa. I cannot believe we do not have a travel ban and/or mandatory quarantine and testing for everyone coming from West Africa. It seems too stupid to be stupid to “keep track” of people when we could just stop people from coming here, and we would not have to “keep track” of them. We are getting hundreds of folks from West Africa coming in every month. Do you feel comfortable with the government keeping track of anything, let alone potentially sick people that could cause a deadly outbreak? It’s almost as if they are inviting a pandemic to America. Oh, and by the way, the new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain, reportedly said his biggest fear for the world is “how to deal with the continually growing population.” Yes, that’s right.  The new Ebola Czar’s biggest concern is over-population. That should make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Terror, terror everywhere in North America. The only difference is that, in Canada, they call it Islamic terror. In the U.S., they call it work place violence. You heard about the guy who took an ax to some New York City cops. They shot the ax attacker dead, but not before he hurt some police. This week, one of the editorial pages in USA Today talked about Christian extremists, but no one mentions Islamic extremists. You don’t hear Christian extremists hacking police up with an ax. It is simply outrageous not to call it what it really is, and I think more terror is on the way.  We are at war with extremists in the Islamic world. That is clear.

Good news at the gas pump as prices are going down. How long is that going to last? Saudi Arabia has finally cut production to prop up oil prices. It’s not all good news as shale oil needs a price of $85 a barrel to turn a profit. That business could come crashing down as it is highly leveraged.  Also, it’s is not all supply and demand causing the prices of crude oil to fall. It is financial war by the U.S. and the West to punish Russia over Ukraine. The lower price is hurting Russia because Russia gets half its operating revenue from energy sales. Russia is not going to sit idly by and be attacked. For example, Russia wants the EU to guarantee it will pay Ukraine’s natural gas bill this winter, and the EU is balking. Russia will cut natural gas supplies if it is not paid, and that is only the beginning of this financial war. Nobody is backing off from the sanctions, and this situation is only going to get worse this winter.

Finally, Fed Head Janet Yellen says “Inequality is worsening.”  She talked about this late last week, and I cannot believe she can say this with a straight face. At one point last year, the Fed was printing and handing our $45 billion a month. Much of that went to the bankers to buy their toxic mortgage-backed securities. You print trillions of dollars to bail out your banking buddies and hedge funds, and you have the gall to stand up and complain of economic inequality? That is rich.

Join Greg Hunter as he analyzes these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ebola: “Scientists: ‘Are Humans 'An Infection' And Ebola Is Earth's Immune Response?”

 
“Scientists: ‘Are Humans 'An Infection' And 
Ebola Is Earth's Immune Response?”
by Mike Adams

"If you haven't yet read "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston, a non-fiction book published in 1994, you're way behind the curve on the truth about Ebola. This book reveals all sorts of astonishing truths about Ebola which have since been buried or distorted by a modern-day government operating in total denial. For example, the book documents numerous cases of an Ebola variant spreading via airborne routes among monkeys housed in completely separate rooms in level-4 biohazard facilities run by the U.S. Army. The fact that Ebola could spread through the air was known in the 1990s (but is ridiculously denied by the CDC today).

"The Hot Zone" was written by Richard Preston after he conducted dozens of interviews with virologists, scientists and doctors, many of which spent time on the front lines in Africa, hunting for the origins of Ebola. One scientist spent so much time looking for Ebola carriers in caves that he was jokingly called "Dr. Bat S#!t." The book also documents the outbreak of Ebola Reston in a U.S. Army primate laboratory, and it describes the heroic efforts to contain that outbreak.

But one of the most disturbing and fascinating passages in the book appears on page 310 in the soft cover print edition. This passage appears to be an aggregation of the thinking of the many scientists interviewed by Preston. (I don't think these words are the direct opinion of Preston himself.) Keep in mind that at the time this passage was written- the 1990's- the world population stood at only around five billion people. AIDS had just recently emerged, and global concern about deadly viral pandemics was on the rise.

Here's what Preston wrote in 1994: "Humans are "an infection" and Ebola is Earth's immune response. "The emergence of AIDS, Ebola, and any number of other rainforest agents appears to be a natural consequence of the ruin of the tropical biosphere. The emerging viruses are surfacing from ecologically damaged parts of the Earth. In a sense, the earth is mounting an immune response against the human species. It is beginning to react to the human parasite, the flooding infection of people, the dead spots of concrete all over the planet, the cancerous rot-outs in Europe, Japan and the United States, thick with replicating primates [i.e. humans], the colonies enlarging and spreading and threatening to shock the biosphere with mass extinctions.

Perhaps the biosphere does not "like" the idea of five billion humans. Or it could also be said that the extreme amplification of the human race, which has occurred only in the past hundred years or so, has suddenly produced a very large quantity of meat, which is sitting everywhere in the biosphere and may not be able to defend itself against a life form that might want to consume it... The earth's immune system, so to speak, has recognized the presence of the human species and is starting to kick in. The earth is attempting to rid itself of an infection by the human parasite."

"Humans are the parasite and Ebola is the cure...": If all this sounds like a scene out of "The Matrix," that's because Agent Smith utters this same line of reasoning, almost word for word, to Morpheus. "Humans are a disease, and WE are the cure!" (The "we" referring to the machines, in the case of the film.)

This classification of humans as a disease "infecting" the planet is surprisingly prevalent among many scientists and environmentalists today. From their point of view, it is difficult to observe the global destruction of the biosphere, the pillaging of natural resources and the collapse of natural freshwater resources without reaching the conclusion that there are simply too many people on this planet who are consuming too many limited resources.

This realization has given rise to the discussion that the circulating strain of Ebola observed today may indeed be a bioengineered weapon whose purpose is to radically reduce the world population of human beings. After all, some of the most influential people in the world -- like Bill Gates and Ted Turner- continue to openly call for sharp reductions in global population in order to save the planet from the destructive ways of the human race.

World's top virologists warn that this Ebola is far more dangerous than any previous Ebola: Ebola expert Dr. Michael Osterholm has also gone public with a worrisome declaration that this strain of Ebola is far worse than any strain of Ebola we've witnessed before. Click here to watch his video where he describes why today's Ebola strain is so different and so much more dangerous than any previously known strain.

On top of that, former U.S. Army virologist Dr. Jahrling has just gone public with a similar warning about the increased danger of the circulating strain of Ebola. As WashingtonsBlog.com reports: [1] "Another top Ebola expert- chief scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and discoverer of the Reston strain of Ebola (Dr. Peter Jahrling) – said last week that this strain of Ebola appears to be more virulent than other strains we've seen, producing a much higher viral load much quicker than other strains."

Is it possible that this strain of Ebola is far more dangerous precisely because it has been tinkered with- "weaponized"- with a specific purpose in mind?

Scientist says Ebola is a bioengineered weapon: The idea that Ebola might be a genetically engineered bioweapon was openly discussed by a top Liberian scientist named Dr. Cyril Broderick, who published a front-page story in the Liberian Observer containing the astonishing statement, "Ebola is a genetically modified organism (GMO)." That article is still viewable at this link, in which Broderick goes on to assert that the U.S. Dept. of Defense has been using African women and children for bioweapons experiments.

In his own words, he talks about "...the existence of an American Military-Medical-Industry that conducts biological weapons tests under the guise of administering vaccinations to control diseases and improve the health of black Africans overseas." The book "The Hot Zone" confirms that infectious agents like Ebola were once developed into bioweapons by the United States Army, but it points out that such research was outlawed by President Nixon in 1969.

U.S. military bioweapons research moved offshore? This may explain why such research may be taking place in Africa. Conducting bioweapons research on the African continent, away from the prying eyes of the U.S. media, allows such operations to be conducted in a covert manner with the necessary deniability. Strategically, there is no question that a world power nation like the United States would never abandon its intellectual capital into bioweapons research. The banning of the research by President Nixon was merely a public relations and diplomacy strategy in much the same way that nuclear nations frequently talk about "disarmament" while building more nuclear missiles.

No nation can strategically allow itself to be wholly unprepared against an Ebola attack from an enemy nation, therefore Ebola bioweapons research must always be continued in order to research potential defenses against it (even if the bioweapon is never intended to be used as a tool of aggression). The only rational conclusion here is that the Pentagon never really halted Ebola bioweapons research but instead moved it offshore.

And that is potentially where Africa enters the picture. What better place to research the GMO Ebola bioweapon than in a continent where any accidental releases or outbreaks can be blamed on bats and monkeys? Ebola, after all, cycles naturally in African mammals. So any experiment that goes awry can simply be blamed on Mother Nature, whom some scientists have begun calling a "serial killer."

You are not being told the truth about Ebola, bioweapons and the depopulation agenda: There is no absolute proof that this current Ebola outbreak is an intentional release of a doomsday depopulation weapon, but there are plenty of reasons to suspect such a scenario needs to be explored. Some of the signs in support of this reluctant conclusion include the U.S. government's determined unwillingness to isolate the USA from Ebola by controlling air traffic and national borders. The government's mishandling of Ebola in Dallas also smacks of something far beyond incompetence, bordering on "intentional failures." (Who the heck tells a nurse to treat a BSL-4 infected patient while wearing level-3 protective gear?)

The coming global debt collapse, California water collapse, food shortages and social unrest are all red alert triggers to a government that realizes it is losing control of the population. From the point of view of a totalitarian government, a deadly Ebola outbreak solves many problems all at once: it reduces the number of so-called "useless eaters" who tend to riot in the streets, it puts the government in an immediate position of medical martial law, and it allows the government to present itself as the savior of civilization while demanding absolute obedience from a population that will soon be begging for quarantines, vaccines and emergency food supplies.

There is no way to know for sure if today's Ebola outbreak is accidental or intentional, but if you ask the question "who benefits from an Ebola outbreak?" some of the answers become rather obvious."
Learn more Ebola truth in the book "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston. And learn the truth about pandemic preparedness with all the free MP3 audio files at www.BioDefense.com

Sources for this article include:
[1] http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/10/top-e.

First case of ebola confirmed in New York City...

"How It Really Is"

"6 Dumbest Right-Wing Moments This Week: Ebola Stupidity Rages On"

 "6 Dumbest Right-Wing Moments This Week:
 Ebola Stupidity Rages On"
By Janet Allon

"1. Fox Newsian (Shep Smith) breaks rank, says something sensible. Rush Limbaugh promptly mocks him for it. There was a strange outbreak of sanity this week on Fox News. Well, not an outbreak. One case. Shep Smith made an impassioned statement about how Ebola hysteria is counterproductive, and Americans should not be swept up in it. "Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television or read the fear-provoking words online,” he urged his viewers. “The people who say and write hysterical things are being very irresponsible."

Whoa, Shep. What are you saying? Sowing fear and panic is your network’s bread and butter. This is heresy. One day we may really have something to panic about, Smith continued. And we’re not going to ready for it. We’ll have spent all our panic chips. “We're not gonna panic when we're supposed to and we're certainly not gonna panic now," Smith pleaded. "We have to stop it."

Fortunately, this outbreak of somewhat inarticulate reasonableness was contained. The rest of the Fox News team donned their Hazmat suits and ratcheted up the crazy, irresponsible fearmongering and Obama-blaming. Good ol' Rush Limbaugh sagely did the manly thing and mocked Shep Smith, calling him a sissy. “Shep Smith was crying so much during his reporting from New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina his mascara was running,” Limbaugh said. “But we need to dial it all back here.”

All is right once again in the right-wing conservoverse, where sanity proved to be an isolated case.

2. Dr. Keith Ablow: Obama has it in for us; that’s why he’s trying to give us Ebola. Reality seldom impinges on the world that Dr. Keith Ablow, a member of Fox’s “medical A-team,” is creating in his own head. In this world, President Obama hates America and that’s why he isn’t protecting Americans from the Ebola virus by closing the border. Ablow explained all this on Fox radio this week, that Obama thinks of himself as a “citizen and a leader of the world” who has no affinity for any particular country “perhaps least of all this country because he has it in for us as disappointing people. People who’ve been a scourge on the face of the Earth.” Ouch.

Ablow said that "as a psychiatrist," this is his professional and considered opinion. He cannot even believe the suggestion that his views on Obama being un-American and loving people in Africa more than Americans could possibly be construed as racist. He is shocked, shocked I tell you. “I would say the same thing if he was from Luxembourg,” he said.

Well, that ought to settle it.

In fact, Ablow is so unracist that he graciously offered to treat the president, whom he called, “Our patient in chief.” Ablow would love the opportunity to sit Obama down and explain to him why he hates America so much, and why this is a problem. “It’s psychologically difficult to defend and protect a country that you have it in for,” he said.

Clearly a doctor with deep compassion.

3. Donald Trump: The president is a ‘psycho.’ Blowhard businessman Donald Trump has not been able to get any of his blatantly racist birther theories or other accusations to stick against the black man who has taken over the White House by being elected, twice. But Trump, who counts excessive germophobia among his charming traits, is particularly worked up about this Ebola thing. Ever the nice guy, he opposed allowing Ebola-infected American doctor Kent Brantly back into the country for treatment in Georgia a while ago, because maybe Trump would catch it in New York. And of course, Trump favors the travel ban from West Africa that conservatives are calling for. Because, of course he does. Trump also loves to tweet, and can always be counted on for his usual thoughtfulness in that medium. “I am starting to think that there is something seriously wrong with President Obama's mental health,” Trump tweeted this week. “Why won't he stop the flights. Psycho!”

Sure hope Trump runs for president again. He can always be counted on to lift the level of the discourse.

4. Laura Ingraham thinks Africa is a country... (oh, yeah, and that Obama wants Americans to die). The right cannot get over the fact that Obama will not impose a travel ban. They are, ahem, borderline fetishistic about America’s borders, and about the fact that people, especially dark-skinned people, can go across them. But no one beats Laura Ingraham for obsession about borders. Like Dr. Ablow, Ingraham has a full-blown alternate universe in her head that she thinks explains Obama’s refusal to impose a travel ban on people from West Africa. “The WHO is admitting it botched its efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in Africa,” the xenophobic talker said on her show this week, “Yet Obama keeps citing ‘experts’ in his opposition to a travel ban. We can’t have it because it’ll make matters worse…for who?”

Ah! There’s the rub, Obama hates us. Ingraham claims that the left even admits this, when it is being honest. “If a few Americans have to die to make Africans’ lives better, that’s what has to happen,” was her version of Obama’s and the left's position. “We owe a great debt to other countries, including Africa, and if that means Americans have to die, we just have to die.”

This is all kinds of wrong and crazy, but we’ll just note that in Ingraham’s alternate universe, the Dartmouth-educated ranter thinks Africa a country.

5. Louie Gohmert: Infected nurses are evidence of the Democrats’ war on women. Texas tea partier Louie Gohmert chatted with Glenn Beck this week and brought his unique spin to the Ebola story. Gohmert called CDC director Tom Frieden the leader of the “Democratic war on women nurses!” Oh, burn! See what he did there? Everyone’s always saying it’s the Republicans who are waging a war on women, just because they are trying to take reproductive choices away from us and deny us equal pay for equal work. Well, take that Democrats! Louie Gohmert’s got your number.

When Beck asked Gohmert how he was, Gohmert seemed a bit stumped. "As far as I know, I’m okay. But do any of us really know for sure?" (Because the CDC is lying to us, of course. Get it?)

Well, actually, Louie, some of us do know for sure if you are okay. You should see your doctor, because your stupidity is metastisizing.

6. Scott Brown: Ebola would never be happening if Mitt Romney were president. Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has already greatly added to the Ebola conversation by cautioning Americans about Ebola-infected terrorists coming over the Mexican border. Now the New Hampshire Senate hopeful wants to remind America that Ebola would never have happened if his boy Mitt Romney were president. “Gosh can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now?” Brown asked. “He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screwups.”

Gosh! That is so true! Because nothing ever bad happens when Republicans are in the White House. 9/11 attacks don’t occur (under Bush), we don't start stupid wars in Iraq (Bush), and AIDS doesn’t become an epidemic (under Reagan). Because Mitt would have waved his magic Ebola wand, and everyone would be safe.”

John Steinbeck, "The Grapes of Wrath" (Excerpts)

"The Grapes of Wrath" (Excerpts)
by John Steinbeck

"They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don't get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat." 

"The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it."

"It ain't that big. The whole United States ain't that big. It ain't that big. It ain't big enough. There ain't room enough for you an' me, for your kind an' my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest men. For hunger and fat."

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed."

"How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him- he has known a fear beyond every other."

"In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage...”

- John Steinbeck: American writer of “The Grapes of Wrath,” the 1939 Pulitzer 
prize-winning novel. Born 1902. Died 1968. Nobel Prize for Literature 1962.

“Shocking New Report: Superrich Have Grabbed Half the World's Assets”

“Shocking New Report:
 Superrich Have Grabbed Half the World's Assets”
By Lynn Stuart Parramore

“According to a new report, the richest one percent have got their mitts on almost half the world's assets. Think that’s the end of the story? Think again. This is only the beginning. The “Global Annual Wealth Report,” freshly released by investment giant Credit Suisse, analyzes the shocking trend of growing wealth inequality around the world. What the researchers find is that global wealth has increased every year since 2008, and that personal wealth seems to be rising at the fastest rate ever recorded, much of it driven by strong equity markets. But the benefits of this growth have largely been channeled to those who are already affluent. While the restaurant workers in America struggled to achieve wages of $10 an hour for their labor, those invested in equities saw their wealth soar without lifting a finger. So it goes around the world.

The bottom half of the world’s people now own less than 1 percent of total wealth, and they’re struggling to hold onto even that minuscule portion. On the other hand, the wealthiest 10 percent have accumulated a staggering 87 percent of global assets. The top percentile has 48.2 percent of the world wealth. For now.

One of the scary things about the wealth of the supperich is what French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in his best-selling book, "Capital in the 21st Century." Once they’ve got a big chunk of wealth, their share will get bigger even if they sit by and do absolutely nothing. Piketty sums up this economic reality in a simple and horrifying formula: r > g. 

Basically, this means that when rate of return on wealth is greater than the overall rate of growth of the economy, as it has nearly always been throughout history, the rich will grow inevitably richer and the poor poorer unless there is some kind of intervention, like higher taxes on wealth, for example. If r is less than g, the assets of the super-wealthy will erode, but if r is greater than g, you eventually get the explosion of gigantic inherited fortunes and dynasties.

This is happening now: If you look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in America, you see a lot more inherited fortunes in the upper ranks than you did a couple of decades ago, when the policies that held inequality at bay began to get dismantled. In today’s top 10, there are more scions of the Walton family than entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. These people have essentially done nothing of value for society, and yet their undue influence shapes our political landscape with the wave of a wad of cash. 

There have been moments in history when things were not so lopsided. During the post-war period, inequality was contained because governments made sure their rich didn’t accumulate at such alarming rates by doing things like taxing their estates at a high rate. At the same time, they created policies to lift the incomes of the less well-off and allow them to have some basic security. But that’s an exception in history. Most of the time, this kind of intervention did not happen, and so the rich kept gobbling more and accumulating more power to keep it that way until one of two things happened — a revolution or some kind of catastrophe or disruptive event, like a war, shook things up.

As the Credit Suisse report states: “Wealth inequality has been the case throughout most of human history, with wealth ownership often equating with land holdings, and wealth more often acquired via inheritance or conquest rather than talent or hard work. However, a combination of factors caused wealth inequality to trend downwards in high income countries during much of the 20th century, suggesting that a new era had emerged. That downward trend now appears to have stalled, and possibly gone into reverse.”

That’s right. We’re on a turbo-charged ride back to the days of Downton Abbey. Piketty warns that we’re in the early stages of reverting right back to periods of massive inequality, like 19th-century Britain or 18th-century France, where great dynastic fortunes ruled and everybody else fought for scraps.

What the statistics and formulas don’t show is the kind of human suffering that results from this kind of extreme inequality. While the global elite zip around the world in private jets and watch their stock portfolios expand on computer screens from within their gated mansions, the bottom half stays awake at night trying to think of how to pay for medicine for a sick child. The things that give life dignity and meaning, like a quality education, a decent job, and the security of knowing you have a roof over your head and a doctor to care for you when you are ill grow further and further out of reach. Anxiety never leaves because one unforeseen mishap can push you down into poverty, and if you’re already there, you spend much of your time searching, often fruitlessly, for a way out.

But there’s a little bit of anxiety percolating at the top, too. On the June cover of the conservative magazine American Spectator, a cartoon shows an incensed mob looking on as a monocled fatcat is led to a bloody guillotine — a scene evoking the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. The caption reads, “The New Class Warfare: Thomas Piketty’s intellectual cover for confiscation.” In the story that accompanies the image, James Pierson warns of revolution and a growing class of suffering people who want to punish the rich and take away their toys.

That would be one way to address things. Another would be the recognition that inequality is extremely destabilizing and dangerous, and that non-violent interventions are possible, as we saw in America with the New Deal. Things like robust tax reform, unions, regulation, changes in corporate governance and CEO pay, affordable education, jobs programs, expansion of Social Security and universal healthcare.

Or we could just do things the old-fashioned way and wait for a disaster even bigger than the meltdown of 2007-'08. In that case, fasten your seatbelts. This ride could get very rough.”
Related:
"The Great Switch by the Super Rich"

"Why American Conservatives Are Suddenly Freaking Out About Guillotines"
"This ride could get very rough.” Well, yes, previous "cures" for
obscene wealth inequality have been somewhat dramatic...
We are many, they are few...

Satire: “U.N.C. Boosters Outraged That Some Athletes Took Real Classes”

“U.N.C. Boosters Outraged That Some Athletes Took Real Classes”
by Andy Borowitz

CHAPEL HILL (The Borowitz Report) — “An organization of University of North Carolina athletic boosters expressed shock and outrage today over a report that a few members of U.N.C. sports teams may have taken real classes, despite the widespread availability of fake ones. The report, which alleges that several players may have fulfilled the curriculum requirements of actual classes, sent shock waves through the U.N.C. booster community. “These players apparently attended classes, wrote papers, and took exams,” Hal Cowlington, the president of a prominent U.N.C. booster club, said. “The impact of these distractions on their athletic performance is, to put it mildly, incalculable.”

A spokesman for the university was quick to say that the cases of athletes taking real classes appeared to be “isolated incidents,” but promised that U.N.C. would press forward with a full investigation of the matter. “As a university, it is our sacred duty to protect our athletes from education,” the university spokesman said. “We can—and we must—do better.”
Related:
"In Fake Classes Scandal, UNC Fails Its Athletes—and Whistle-Blower"

“The Biggest Threat To America”

“The Biggest Threat To America”
by James Quinn
Submitted by Tyler Durden

“Presented with no comment...


Q: "Who is going to defend the country without the Army?"
Zappa: "From what? The biggest threat to America is its own federal government... Will the Army protect anybody from the FBI? The IRS? The CIA? The Republican Party? The Democratic Party The biggest dangers we face today don't even need to sneak past our billion-dollar defense systems, they issue the contracts for them."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Musical Interlude: Yanni, “Spirit of Nature”

Yanni, “Spirit of Nature”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Described as a "dusty curtain" or "ghostly apparition", mysterious reflection nebula VdB 152 really is very faint. Far from your neighborhood on this Halloween Night, the cosmic phantom is nearly 1,400 light-years away. Also catalogued as Ced 201, it lies along the northern Milky Way in the royal constellation Cepheus. 
Click image for larger size.
Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, pockets of interstellar dust in the region block light from background stars or scatter light from the embedded bright star giving parts of the nebula a characteristic blue color. Ultraviolet light from the star is also thought to cause a dim reddish luminescence in the nebular dust. Though stars do form in molecular clouds, this star seems to have only accidentally wandered into the area, as its measured velocity through space is very different from the cloud's velocity. This deep telescopic image of the region spans about 7 light-years.”

The Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, "Sunset"

"Sunset"

"Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,
leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so helplessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs –
leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Chet Raymo, “Virtual Immortality: Second Life"”

“Immortality”
by Chet Raymo

“A second life? I can barely cope with this one. I'm referring to the increasingly popular virtual world Second Life, available to online gamers. One enters Second LIfe by creating a three-dimensional, animated avatar that is one's virtual self. Then one can do just about anything in the Second Life world that is possible to do in real life, including, one presumes, things one would not do in real life. By all accounts, the Second Life universe is booming, to the extent that real-world businesses are setting up virtual franchises in a place that exists only in the belly of a computer. There is a buoyant economy in Second Life, with a virtual currency known as Lindens that are convertible to real dollars. Now the Swedes and Chinese are coming on with an alternate virtual universe called Entropiathat promises to give Second Life a run for its Lindens.

Ah, the idea of creating an avatar Chet who is thirty years younger with a thick head of curly black hair is enticing, but my two computer savvy sons, who are way ahead of me in these matters, say "Pop, don't bother." And I suppose they are right. My life as a writer has been a celebration of the natural world, the real world. In my book "The Path," I suggested that any one-mile walk contains enough wonders to occupy a person for a lifetime. What do I need with alternative universes?

How about immortality? My sister Anne sends me a story about a project to take avatars to a whole new level, endowing them not only with 3-D animation, but with intelligence, will and emotions. For the present, a real person at a computer guides an avatar in cyberspace. But it is possible to imagine avatars of the not so distant future that carry into virtual worlds a person's very soul. There he goes, into the vast universe of some future Entropia, a virtual Chet, who exists only as binary bits in cyberspace, but who bears the real Chet's lifetime of experiences, personality quirks, desires, loves and phobias. Once there, he will act on his own, without me dictating his action from my computer. And since he need not age or die, he will continue his virtual "second life" after I'm dead and gone. I doubt if he will find a one-mile path in cyberspace that is interesting enough to occupy him for eternity. But- what the heck- while I'm at it, I'll give him that head of curly black hair.”

Second Life: http://secondlife.com/
Entropia: http://www.entropiauniverse.com/

"Proper Perspecitves..."

“Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it. What frustrates us and robs our lives of joy is this absence of meaning. Does our being alive matter?”
- Harold S. Kushner

“All of us have been dying, hour by hour, since the moment we were born. Realizing this, let all things be placed in their proper perspective. Remember, it is always later than you think.”
- Og Mandino

“Don't be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.”
- Grace Hansen

The Daily "Near You?"

Lincoln, Illinois, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

“Four Topics About Fear”

“Four Topics About Fear”
by Chandresh Bhardwaj
Posted by Paulo Coelho

“The origin of fear lies in the unknown. Be it the darkness, ghosts, weather calamities or whatever is unknown to the man is feared the most. If you are walking in darkness, you are afraid to go ahead, fearing what will come next. However, as the light appears, the fear tends to settle down. Fear, thus, is just a manifestation of your imagination ruled by cowardliness. When we get certain information on our fears, we get relaxed. However, it’s not going to be possible that we will always get the information on the unknown. Then what can we really do to manage our fears?

1. Accept your fears: There’s no need to fight your fears. The more you fight, the more they will haunt you. If you accept them the way they are, they will bring a shift in your consciousness necessary to move beyond the fear.

2. Fear is normal: There’s nothing to be embarrassed about in being afraid. If you are afraid, then you are. Society has connected fear with the sign of weakness and that is one of the reasons why we hate to accept that we are afraid. When you accept fear as a normal emotion, it doesn’t bother you anymore.

3. Explore the unknown: Every year, make a list of things that you fear the most. Then, do something everyday that gets you closer to the unknown factor residing in your fear. Gradually, you will overcome all your fears one by one.

4. Know the roots: Go into the source of your fear. Some fears are based on past conditioning. Having a good understanding of the roots from where it all started will help in moving toward state of fearlessness.

Moving on, death seems to be the second issue bothering everyone if the world ends. There’s nothing one can do to avoid death. You can avoid the possibility of birth by using pills, protection and so on, but man hasn’t been able to interfere in the business of death. What you can do is accept it with open arms. If the world ends, it ends. It will release all of us from a life where we yearn for things that are useless to show off to the people who don’t matter. When the world ends, it will end for everyone. Why we are giving it so much attention?!"
(I found this very interesting text by chance, and decided to post it here. To read the full article, please CLICK HERE - Paulo Coelho) 

"The Only Way..."

"The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have 
enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not."
    - George Bernard Shaw

"Living the Good Life: 35 Profound Quotes From the 'Seven Sages of Greece'"

"Living the Good Life: 
35 Profound Quotes From the 'Seven Sages of Greece'"
by Thai Nguyen

"There are many things for which we owe the Greeks: democracy, geometry, the marathon. Not to mention souvlaki, moussaka and baklava. But arguably the most valuable asset to any person: wisdom. Indeed wisdom is synonymous with Greece- the cradle of Western thought is traced to the ancient à ª ª ∑ Ω µ ¬ . Of all the wise philosophers, seven were distinguished from the early 6th Century BC and bestowed the title of "The Seven Sages." On living a good life, here are five profound quotes from each of the 7 sages:

Pittacus of Mytilene: "Do not say before hand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at."
"Forgiveness is better than revenge."
"Whatever you do, do it well."
"Know thy opportunity."
"Measure a person by what they do with power."

Periander of Corinth: "Rest is beautiful."
"Pleasures are transient, honors are immortal."
"Be moderate in prosperity, prudent in adversity."
"Judge of a tree by its fruit, not by its leaves."
"Nothing is impossible to industry (fortitude)."

Cleobulus of Lindos: "Be fond of hearing rather than of talking."
"Be superior to pleasure."
"Do nothing by force."
"Be ready for reconciliation after quarrels."
"We should render a service to a friend to bind him closer to us, and to an enemy in order to make a friend of him."

Solon of Athens: "Rule, after you have first learned to submit to rule."
"Wealth I desire to have; but wrongfully to get it, I do not wish."
"In giving advice seek to help, not to please, your friend."
"Seek to learn constantly while you live; do not wait in the faith that old age by itself will bring wisdom."
"Reprove thy friend privately: commend him publicly."

Chilon of Sparta: "If one is strong be also merciful, so that one's neighbors may respect one rather than fear one."
"Do not make too much haste on one's road."
"Learn how to regulate one's own house well."
"Do not let one's tongue outrun one's sense."
"Restrain anger."

Bias of Priene: "Choose the course which you adopt with deliberation; but when you have adopted it, then persevere in it with firmness."
"Gain your point by persuasion, not by force."
"Cherish wisdom as a means of traveling from youth to old age, for it is more lasting than any other possession."
"Seek to please all the citizens, even though your house may be in an ungracious city."
"One ought to calculate life both as if they were fated to live a long and a short time."

Thales of Miletus: "Time is the wisest of all things that are; for it brings everything to light."
"Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing."
"Hope is the poor man's bread."
"Suretyship (Dogma) is the precursor of ruin."
"The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself."

"How It Really Is"

"Never Apologize..."

"Our Responsibilty..."

“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are.

If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming ‘This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!’ we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.

It is our responsibility, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.”
- Richard Feynman

The Economy: "Oh, Look At The Admission!"

"Oh, Look At The Admission!"
 by Karl Denninger

"Hoh hoh hoh hoh hoh hoh hoh... By estimating that zero stimulus would be consistent with a 10 percent quarterly drop in equities, they calculate it takes around $200 billion from central banks each quarter to keep markets from selling off.

What? Note that central bank "stimulus" is not real.  An example will suffice. Let's say there are exactly two things in the world of economic value- $100 and 100 bushels of corn. What's the likely clearing price- that is, what you would exchange one bushel of corn for? $1, right?

Remember, other than time preference there is nothing else in the economy to express value through than corn and dollars. Ok, so now the central banks simply double the number of dollars. That is, there now exists $200. What is now the likely clearing price for one bushel of corn? $2.

So the "price" of markets "not selling off" is the theft of that $200 billion a quarter, or $800 billion a year, from you in the form of your purchasing power. In other words that $800 billion a year is stolen from you. If you were taxed to the tune of a few thousand dollars a year so people with stocks would not see the price of their stock decline, and it was literally given to those people who owned stock, you'd be outraged. The lower-income people who can't afford to and don't own any stock would likely revolt- and quite-possibly violently so.

So let's now have a full and fair discussion about your silent consent to this now-admitted theft...”

The Economy: "The Great Inflation Lie"

For The 1%: Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler!
"The Great Inflation Lie"
by Bill Bonner

"That we live in an age of man-made wonders is beyond dispute. Painless root canals. Tinder. Central bank price controls. We were traveling hard over the last couple weeks. Somewhere along the way we picked up a cold, which dogged us from Vermont to Maryland's Eastern Shore. But the security X-ray at Nashville International Airport seemed to finally knock it out. 

Global stocks have lost more than $3 trillion of their value so far this month. But the authorities rushed to the rescue like a surgeon taking out a ruptured gallbladder. As St. Louis Fed president James Bullard told Bloomberg TV: "I also think that inflation expectations are dropping in the US. And that is something that a central bank cannot abide. We have to make sure that inflation and inflation expectations remain near our target. And for that reason I think a reasonable response of the Fed in this situation would be to invoke the clause on the taper that said that the taper was data dependent. And we could go on pause on the taper at this juncture and wait until we see how the data shakes out into December. So... continue with QE at a very low level as we have it right now. And then assess our options going forward."

Perhaps some future generation of philosophers will understand it better. To us, it resides among the great mysteries... along with the virgin birth and Hillary's front-runner status. 

Statistical Mirage: Bullard is worried about too little inflation. Instead of going up 2% a year – by the official tally – consumer prices are going up only 1.7% a year. This missing 0.3% has stuck in his craw. It bugs him so much he wants to do something about it. Of course, simply calculating the CPI slightly differently could erase it. Or it could simply be ignored... since it is largely a statistical mirage, with no meaning in the real world. 

It is like the early Christian scholars who argued over whether the host merely represented Christ... or was the flesh of the Redeemer Himself. Unable to resolve these issues by logic or argument, they often went to war. 

And so it was that James Bullard declared war on the 0.3% inflation that he says is missing... and that he considers essential to a properly functioning economy. Does that mean that an economy with a CPI of only 1.7% will necessarily underperform, leaving widows and orphans hungry and homeless? Will investors be unwilling to back major capital improvements if they see the CPI falling 0.3% short of the Fed's goal? Will employers hesitate before putting up a "help wanted" ad... sensing a serious lack of inflation as a threat to their businesses and their livelihoods?

Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler! Investors didn't worry too much about Bullard's words or their meaning. They interpreted this passage as though he had said, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" The Dow popped up 263 points on Friday. But les bons temps were short-lived. 

Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren said he would be "pretty comfortable" allowing QE to expire later this month as scheduled. And yesterday, the stock market rally sputtered; the Dow ended up only 19 points. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi is wrestling with the same devil: low inflation. Says Draghi, "If this period of low price inflation were to last for a prolonged time, the risk to price stability would increase."

What does that mean? Let's say inflation was running 1,000% a year. Would that be price stability? Of course not. Price stability increases as the inflation rate approaches zero, not the other way around. Draghi might have misspoken. More likely, and more disturbing, he believes what he says. He and Bullard – the high priests of the central bank cult – believe they have the right, and responsibility, to set prices wherever they want them. 

All of which reminds us of an old dictum: The people who always insist that we follow their ideas are always the same people whose ideas are idiotic.

The Golden Anchor: We wonder what he would have thought of inflation expectations a century ago. Then there was neither consumer price inflation nor any expectation of it. And yet the US economy expanded... absorbing millions of immigrants from Europe – with full employment and rising incomes for rich and poor. 

On the evidence, the lack of inflation expectations was a big plus. Central bankers were not alarmed; it's part of their job description. Their duty was to maintain the stability of the US dollar. They did this in a simple and effective manner – by making sure it was linked to gold in an express and unchangeable way. Gold was subject to inflation, too – big gold discoveries in South Africa and California added to the supply and boosted consumer prices in the mid-1800s. But then the market went to work – improving productivity and output, thereby increasing the supply of goods and services that money could buy. 

Result: Consumer prices fell in the latter part of the 19th century. Such was the golden anchor to which the dollar was tethered that, by 1914, the ship was back in the harbor it had left 100 years before – with the purchasing power of the greenback almost exactly what it had been in 1814. Messrs. Draghi and Bullard can stop worrying." 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"How It Really Is"

“Alan Shore,” “Speech on America”

“Alan Shore,” “Speech on America”
A little dated, but totally accurate, and it's much worse now. "Boston Legal" character Alan Shore, an attorney, gives an interesting speech on the status quo of the American throng. A thought provoking video... - CP

“Hollow Justice and Courts of Order in an Age of Government-Sanctioned Tyranny”

“Hollow Justice and Courts of Order 
in an Age of Government-Sanctioned Tyranny”
By John W. Whitehead

“The Constitution is not neutral. 
It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.”
—Justice William O. Douglas

Justice in America makes less sense with each passing day. A Michigan couple that has been raising chickens in their backyard as a source of healthy food for their family could get up to 90 days in jail for violating a local ban on backyard hens. A Kentucky prison guard who was charged with 25 counts of sexual abuse against female inmates, trafficking controlled substances, and 50 counts of official misconduct walks away with no jail time and seven years’ probation. A 53-year-old Virginia man is facing 20 years in jail for kidnapping, despite the fact that key evidence shows him to be innocent and his accuser a liar, yet the courts claim they’re unable to do anything about it. Meanwhile, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent refusal to hear the case of Jones v. U.S., judges can now punish individuals for crimes of which they may never have been convicted or even charged.

With every ruling handed down, it becomes more apparent that we live in an age of hollow justice, with government courts, largely lacking in vision and scope, rendering narrow rulings focused on the letter of the law. This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especially so in the highest court of the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which is seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Given the turbulence of our age, with its police overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongful convictions, and corporate corruption, the need for a guardian of the people’s rights has never been greater.

Yet when presented with an opportunity to weigh in on these issues, what does our current Supreme Court usually do? It ducks. Prevaricates. Remains silent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern. More often than not, it gives the government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt. Rarely do the concerns of the populace prevail.

In this way, preoccupied with their personal politics, cocooned in a priggish world of privilege, partial to those with power, money and influence, and narrowly focused on a shrinking docket (the court accepts on average 80 cases out of 8,000 each year), the justices of the current Supreme Court rarely venture beyond their rarefied comfort zones.

Every so often the justices toss a bone to those who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. In Riley v. California, for instance, a unanimous Court ruled that police need warrants in order to physically search the cellphones of people they arrest. Even in that instance the victory rang hollow to those who understand that government agents, equipped with military-grade surveillance equipment, don’t need physical access to our phones in order to know who we’ve been talking to or texting and what we’ve been saying.  

Too often, however, as I document in A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the Supreme Court tends to march in lockstep with the police state.

In recent years, for example, the Court has ruled that police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits; police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips; Secret Service agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they’re done in the name of security; citizens only have a right to remain silent if they assert it; police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside; police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime; police can stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike; police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense”; police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home; and it’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name.

The cases the Supreme Court refuses to hear, allowing lower court judgments to stand, are almost as critical as the ones they rule on. Some of these cases have delivered devastating blows to the rights enshrined in the Constitution. By remaining silent, the Court has affirmed that: legally owning a firearm is enough to justify a no-knock raid by police; the military can arrest and detain American citizens; students can be subjected to random lockdowns and mass searches at school; and police officers who don’t know their actions violate the law aren’t guilty of breaking the law.

What a difference nine people can make. Contrast the Roberts Supreme Court and its occupants’ preoccupation with personal politics, its cocooned, priggish world of privilege, its partiality to those with power, money and influence, and its narrowly focused on a shrinking docket (the court accepts on average 80 cases out of 8,000 each year) with the Warren Court (1953-1969), when Earl Warren served as Chief Justice, alongside such luminaries as William J. Brennan, Jr., William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter and Thurgood Marshall.

The Roberts Court’s decisions in recent years, characterized most often by an abject deference to government authority, military and corporate interests, have run the gamut from suppressing free speech activities and justifying suspicionless strip searches and warrantless home invasions to conferring constitutional rights on corporations, while denying them to citizens.

The Warren Court, on the other hand, handed down rulings that were instrumental in shoring up critical legal safeguards against government abuse and discrimination. Without the Warren Court, there would be no Miranda warnings, no desegregation of the schools and no civil rights protections for indigents. Yet more than any single ruling, what Warren and his colleagues did best was embody what the Supreme Court should always be—an institution established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds.

Justice Douglas, who served on the Supreme Court for 36 years, was particularly vocal in his belief that Americans have a right to be left alone (“The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom”).

Considered the most “committed civil libertarian ever to sit on the court,” Douglas was frequently controversial and far from perfect (he was part of a 6-3 majority in Korematsu vs. United States that supported the government’s internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.)

Even so, his warnings against a domineering, suspicious, totalitarian, police-driven surveillance state resonate still today. They stand as a potent reminder that while the technology and social concerns of Douglas’ day have undergone dramatic transformations in our time, the rights we are struggling to safeguard remain the same, as do the threats posed by the government.

Then, as now, government surveillance was invasive and unregulated. As Douglas observed: “We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government. The aggressive breaches of privacy by the Government increase by geometric proportions. Wiretapping and “bugging” run rampant, without effective judicial or legislative control. Secret observation booths in government offices and closed television circuits in industry, extending even to rest rooms, are common. Offices, conference rooms, hotel rooms, and even bedrooms are “bugged” for the convenience of government”.

Although the Roberts Court has so far remained silent on the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, Douglas had plenty to say about “the privacy of our citizens and the breach of that privacy by government agents”: “Once electronic surveillance … is added to the techniques of snooping which this sophisticated age has developed, we face the stark reality that the walls of privacy have broken down and all the tools of the police state are handed over to our bureaucracy on a constitutional platter… The dangers posed by wiretapping and electronic surveillance strike at the very heart of the democratic philosophy. A free society is based on the premise that there are large zones of privacy into which the Government may not intrude except in unusual circumstances…”

Here’s Douglas on the dangers posed by electronic surveillance: “Wiretapping and electronic “bugging” invariably… lay down a dragnet which indiscriminately sweeps in all conversations within its scope, without regard to the nature of the conversations, or the participants. A warrant authorizing such devices is no different from the general warrants the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit… Such practices can only have a damaging effect on our society.”

Douglas on the ramifications of indiscriminate government surveillance: “Once sanctioned, there is every indication that their use will indiscriminately spread. The time may come when no one can be sure whether his words are being recorded for use at some future time; when everyone will fear that his most secret thoughts are no longer his own, but belong to the Government; when the most confidential and intimate conversations are always open to eager, prying ears. When that time comes, privacy, and with it liberty, will be gone. If a man's privacy can be invaded at will, who can say he is free? If his every word is taken down and evaluated, or if he is afraid every word may be, who can say he enjoys freedom of speech? If his every association is known and recorded, if the conversations with his associates are purloined, who can say he enjoys freedom of association? When such conditions obtain, our citizens will be afraid to utter any but the safest and most orthodox thoughts; afraid to associate with any but the most acceptable people. Freedom as the Constitution envisages it will have vanished.”

Douglas would undoubtedly have had a lot to say about the NSA’s efforts to get the country’s “biggest spy center” in Bluffdale, Utah, fully operational, as well as government data collecting programs such as MAINWAY. Here’s his take on government data repositories on citizens: “The dossiers on all citizens mount in number and increase in size. Now they are being put on computers so that by pressing one button all the miserable, the sick, the suspect, the unpopular, the offbeat people of the Nation can be instantly identified. These examples and many others demonstrate an alarming trend whereby the privacy and dignity of our citizens is being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen—a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of man's life at will.”

Perhaps the greatest difference between Justice Douglas and his contemporaries and those who occupy the bench today can be found in his answer to a government that refuses to listen to its citizen or abide by the rule of law. “We must realize that today’s Establishment is the New George III,” noted Douglas. “Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”