Friday, February 26, 2010

I'll be back :-)

I'm taking a couple of days off to attend to some real-world stuff. There are 7,513 posts now, I hope you find something of interest. Commenting is off to prevent sly comment ad links. I hope you have a really great weekend, I'll see you Tuesday morning. Thank you all for stopping by. - CoyotePrime

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jim Goodman, "The Fairy Tale of GM Crops"

"The Fairy Tale of GM Crops"
by Jim Goodman

"Since the first commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in 1996, Monsanto and the rest of the big six Biotech seed companies, (Pioneer/DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, BASF and Bayer) have become masters at the art of story telling. Farmers, always looking for the next big technology fix, loved the stories; the promise of better yields, less chemicals needed for weed control, higher profits and of course, a solution to the elusive goal of feeding the world.

Governments, seeing biotechnology as a huge economic engine, embraced the technology. University research was shifted almost exclusively to biotech crops. GM was the wave of the future, bankers encouraged planting GM crops to guarantee a "profitable harvest". Crop insurance premiums were lower for farmers planting GM. Everyone bought the story. In a recent opinion piece in the Wisconsin State Journal former Secretary of Agriculture John Block touted the virtues of GM crops and credited them with producing higher yields, lower pesticide use and solving the ever growing problem of world hunger. Current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plugged GM at last week’s USDA Outlook Conference

Problem is, the promises were just good stories. The believers are missing the truth. Weeds have become resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and insects became resistant to the toxins produced by their GM corn. As GM was planted on more acres, overall pesticide use went up, not down. A University of Kansas study found that GM crops actually had lower yields than their conventional counterparts.

Even as the problems of GM crops become more apparent, the cost of GM seed continues to rise. Many farmers are backing away from GM, but finding non-GM seed is difficult, considering Monsanto controls roughly 90% of the corn and soy genetics in the U.S. With corn and soy well under their control, Monsanto now hopes to gain USDA approval for Roundup resistant alfalfa. A perennial crop, alfalfa is the fourth most widely grown crop in the U.S. and again, Monsanto sees profit. The contamination of non-GM and organic alfalfa, the potential for further reduction of bee populations among other problems, seem of little consequence.

Feeding the world? GM will not do it, even former Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro admitted, "The commercial industrial technologies that are used in agriculture today to feed the world... are not inherently sustainable." Still, Monsanto bills itself as a leader in global sustainability, ignoring the fact that true sustainability cannot be achieved when your only driving goal is the next quarterly profit report.

The world stands a better chance of feeding itself by using and improving upon farming methods that have been relied upon for centuries. In Africa, for example, if indigenous crops, long adapted to their environment, were put forward as the solution to hunger, studies show that the population could have adequate food supplies and at times, cash income from sales of surplus crops. So, why do so many continue to believe, to have faith in the story, when the evidence is against them? When GM crops do not yield as promised? When a USDA report shows that farmers actually lose income by planting GM crops? When seed costs are unreasonably high as are the fertilizers and chemicals that are absolutely required to grow GM? When consumers continue to reject GM foods citing concerns of their serious health risks? When GM will not feed the world?

The GM story as told by the Biotech giants paints the future as a happy and prosperous place; farmers are profitable, everyone is well fed and the environment is protected. The real GM story is not so happy, it is a story of market control, of environmental degradation, of deceived farmers and consumers."
- http://counterpunch.org/goodman02242010.html
Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc WI and an IATP Food and Society Fellow.

"Gates Decries Europe for 'Anti-war Sentiment'"

"Gates Decries Europe for 'Anti-war Sentiment'"
by Juan Cole

"US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates decries Europe for general anti-war sentiment, unwillingness to beggar itself with expenditures on war. But as far as I can tell, Europe is the world's largest economy and got there without any recent substantial wars except those the US dragged it into. Moreover, the fastest-growing economy for the past nearly 30 years has been China, which spends a fraction on their military of what the US spends on its, and, aside from a skirmish with Vietnam in the early 1980s, has been at peace. Apparently massive war expenditures are unrelated to economic growth or prosperity.

In contrast, the US has been at war for 19 of the last 47 years (not counting US-backed insurgencies such as 1980s Afghanistan, on which we spent billions) but has not grown faster than the other two economically. Moreover, the increasingly unwieldy US national debt, deriving from the US government spending more than it took in in recent decades, would not exist if the US military budget had been the same as that of the European Union since 1980. The US overspent on its military because Washington mistakenly thought the Soviet economy was twice as big as it actually was, and vastly over-estimated Soviet military capabilities. The bloated military budgets continue now, apparently because of a couple thousand al-Qaeda operatives hiding out in caves in the Hadhramawt and Waziristan.

Some statistics to ponder:

US Military Budget 2009: $711 billion
European Union Military Budget 2009: $289 billion
China Military Budget 2009: $122 billion.

US GDP 2009: $14.4 trillion
European Union GDP 2009: $16.5 trillion (PPP)
China GDP 2009: $8.8 trillion (PPP)

US economic growth 2009: 0.2%
European Union economic growth 2009: -4%
China economic growth 2009: 8.7 %

The real military-related expenditures of the US are closer to $1 trillion. If the US cut those back to the level of the European Union and spent the money on domestic programs and re-building the country's infrastructure, America would have a chance of remaining a great power in the 21st century. If it goes on rampaging around the world bankrupting itself by invading and occupying other countries, the Chinese will laugh at us all the way to world dominance."

"A Moment With Nature: Nora Waln"

"Trees give peace to the souls of men."
- Nora Waln

"A Look to the Heavens"

"This beautiful cosmic portrait features NGC 891. The spiral galaxy spans about 100 thousand light-years and is seen almost exactly edge-on from our perspective. In fact, about 30 million light-years distant in the constellation Andromeda, NGC 891 looks a lot like our Milky Way.
At first glance, it has a flat, thin, galactic disk and a central bulge cut along the middle by regions of dark obscuring dust. Also apparent in NGC 891's edge-on presentation are filaments of dust that extend hundreds of light-years above and below the center line. The dust has likely been blown out of the disk by supernova explosions or intense star formation activity. Faint neighboring galaxies can also been seen near this galaxy's disk."

Inga Muscio

"What happens to people living in a society where everyone in power is lying, stealing, cheating and killing, and in our hearts we all know this, but the consequences of facing all these lies are so monstrous, we keep on hoping that maybe the corporate government administration and media are on the level with us this time. Americans remind me of survivors of domestic abuse. This is always the hope that this is the very, very, very last time one's ribs get re-broken again."
- Inga Muscio

"The Truth Will Not Be Televised"

"The Truth Will Not Be Televised"
by FORMER MERETRICIOUS TRAVELLER OF THE IPC

"A flow of information is constantly streaming from the television set; a bombardment of words and pictures. The speed at which this information is communicated makes it easy for the signal to take control, switching the viewer's brain to stand-by as information is absorbed without analysis or question. Today the television's constant signal shapes the conclusions of the masses and produces the collective norm. The signal prescribes what is news and what is truth through the words of so-called experts and authorities, gelding the consciousness and independent thoughts of those subjected to it. Through television, the masses can be made to accept the most monstrous distortions of reality. The signal is a chill wind of continuous oppression over the minds of the masses. It controls the management of society and culture, creating uniformity across all subjects.

The fuel for this vehicle of mass deception is a technique known as perception management where an array of psychological techniques are used to alter the truth, leading the viewer to a desired conclusion. Some call this spin or propaganda while others know it as lying. According to Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for Adolph Hitler, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it... It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." Most of what can be found on the nightly news is nothing but advertisements selling more government and a false reality that benefits only those in control. Television is the dictator of information; newspaper and radio are the whisper campaign of the television's message.

It is expected that Americans will consistently prescribe to the doctrine of the television. It is subtly communicated that one should stay within the collective and never challenge the message, for doing so may be considered an aggression towards culture. The message is, "Be a good consumer; always obey authority; you know nothing; listen only to experts; be content and never question or express new ideas." This signal is being broadcast across millions of screens, indoctrinating the unconscious minds of those who choose this as their only reality. Self-censorship occurs when these individuals become so deeply indoctrinated that they are afraid to discuss any information outside the paradigm of television-created culture; they police their thoughts to ensure they won't conflict with this culture. Sadly, many people's reality today does not allow any outside information to process, instead it is written off as conspiracy or blatant lies. Our consciousness has been destroyed so much that fiction has become reality. An entire lifestyle of poisonous foods, pharmaceuticals, and fluoridated water are accepted as safe and sold to us at the cost of our health and well being.

Those of the establishment are using the incredibly powerful weapon of mass psychology as a method of controlling the minds of the masses and altering the behavior of individuals. Edward Bernays, a pioneer in the field of public relations in the 20th century, applied Sigmund Freud's theory of psychoanalysis to manipulate the masses by engineering consent. According to Bernays, "If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it." Advertisers and psychologists of the billion dollar culture creation industry manufacture trends through the proliferation of insecurities; and manipulating desires and emotions. These concepts are also employed to control how individuals think about politics, as well as the possibilities and limitations within society. Those wielding power within our streams of mass communication market their plans into each generation as individuals adopt specific ways of thinking and never suspect that all the major events and trends within their lifetime are actually planned by an elite few before they are even born. In our society today, culture is created from the top down. Virtually all forms of culture are created by the ruling class to build a false sense of reality, ensure social compliance, and control the future course of cultural evolution.

Predictive programming is a tool used by the establishment to acclimate the public to new ideas, trends, beliefs, and threats. It is used through television by including certain situations or ideas within the plots of many fictional shows, familiarizing the viewer with these concepts no matter what they may be watching. When similar situations occur or like ideas are circulated in the world we think that these particular things are quite natural for we have unknowingly been made familiar with them through television. By viewing nearly any popular show on television, one can see the same propaganda that will be aired on the nightly news. Propaganda on a wide array of subjects has been interwoven into a great number of television shows. Just a few of these subjects include global warming, vaccinations, torture, terrorism, national security, the militarization of police, and the degradation of the family unit. Through predictive programming, television shapes culture and prevents individuals from asking questions.

Crises are created on a daily basis and broadcast across the airwaves to keep individuals in a state of panic and fear. Whether it be the threat of a pandemic or terrorism, the constant state of crisis has created a form of mental illness as we are slowly acclimated into an age of crisis. By using Hegelian dialectic, the television promotes the problem, guides our reaction, and presents the solution. The problem of terrorism was exclaimed, a strong emotional response was evoked, and it was stated that our rights need be sacrificed in order to protect us from the threat. We've lost personal sovereignty under the guise of terrorism; we're stopped and searched; we're watched by cameras as we go about our lives; and we're encouraged to spy on our neighbors. We have been trained to accept the life of a prisoner.

America is in a state of enlightened despotism where most individuals live only to satisfy selfish inner desires and remain ignorant of the state of the world around them. In most public places one can find a television transmitting propaganda around the clock ensuring the masses remain focused on trivial matters. From birth we take the world as it’s presented on television. We don't question it and any serious criticism of TV is becoming psychologically impossible in society. Who would suspect getting born into a world where everything around you is a continuous lie? The youth of today are convinced that the experts and personalities on television are the authority of credible information while parents and older generations are foolish with dated ideas. Children are conditioned to disconnect from what is truly important to their well being and instead focus on mindless trivia, sports, celebrity gossip, and buying an array of material things. They invest their psychological worth in fantasy characters on television while ignoring or even scorning individuals contributing to the betterment of humanity. They are discouraged from getting involved in their local community and often lack the ability to think independently or to resist corruption. As their children's minds are molded by television, there is barely a murmur from the public.

For over half a century, our society has lived under this signal of mental programming and conditioning. The message is clear: don't be a leader, don't engage in critical thinking, and don’t care about the people in your life. Until individuals become aware of the current information war, our standard of living and our liberties will continue to be degraded and we will continue to lose communities and meaningful relationships between people. Currently, pockets of resistance are beginning to spring up everywhere as some unplug the signal and regain control of their own thoughts. Informed individuals are canceling their cable and satellite subscriptions and instead spending time with their families and children while participating in meaningful experiences. They are seeking alternative news sources. They are reading about those who weld incredible influence over culture like Edward Bernays, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Charles Galton Darwin, Plato, Bertrand Russell, and Aldous Huxley. However, it is a continuous battle to educate the masses for the television remains our greatest threat to individual sovereignty and the largest obstacle to becoming a truly informed individual. Fortunately, unplugging from the signal is easy. The television can simply be turned off. Through doing so, you may realize nearly our entire world is now a hoax; things once known as truth are fake. We have been trained like dogs to be obedient to our television; our master has had our minds on a tight leash. Let us never forget the truth will not be televised."

"Wall Street Oligarchs Eying Social Security"

"Wall Street Oligarchs Eying Social Security"
by Paul Craig Roberts

"Hank Paulson, the Gold Sachs bankster/U.S. Treasury Secretary, who deregulated the financial system, caused a world crisis that wrecked the prospects of foreign banks and governments, caused millions of Americans to lose retirement savings, homes, and jobs, and left taxpayers burdened with multi-trillions of dollars of new U.S. debt, is still not in jail. He is writing in the New York Times urging that the mess he caused be fixed by taking away from working Americans the Social Security and Medicare for which they have paid in earmarked taxes all their working lives.

Wall Street's approach to the poor has always been to drive them deeper into the ground. As there is no money to be made from the poor, Wall Street fleeces them by yanking away their entitlements. It has always been thus. During the Reagan administration, Wall Street decided to boost the values of its bond and stock portfolios by using Social Security revenues to lower budget deficits. Wall Street figured that lower deficits would mean lower interest rates and higher bond and stock prices.

Two Wall Street henchmen, Alan Greenspan and David Stockman, set up the Social Security raid in this way: The Carter administration had put Social Security in the black for the foreseeable future by establishing a schedule for future Social Security payroll tax increases. Greenspan and Stockman conspired to phase in the payroll tax increases earlier than were needed in order to gain surplus Social Security revenues that could be used to finance other government spending, thus reducing the budget deficit. They sold it to President Reagan as "putting Social Security on a sound basis." Along the way Americans were told that the surplus revenues were going into a special Social Security trust fund at the U.S. Treasury. But what is in the fund is Treasury IOUs for the spent revenues. When the "trust funds" are needed to pay Social Security benefits, the Treasury will have to sell more debt in order to redeem the IOUs. Social Security was mugged again during the Clinton administration when the Boskin Commission jimmied the Consumer Price Index in order to reduce the inflation adjustments that Social Security recipients receive, thus diverting money from Social Security retirees to other uses.

We constantly hear from Wall Street gangsters and from Republicans and an occasional Democrat that Social Security and Medicare are a form of welfare that we can't afford, an "unfunded liability." This is a lie. Social Security is funded with an earmarked tax. People pay for Social Security and Medicare all their working lives. It is a pay-as-you-go system in which the taxes paid by those working fund those who are retired.

Currently these systems are not in deficit. The problem is that government is using earmarked revenues for other purposes. Indeed, since the 1980s Social Security revenues have been used to fund general government. Today Social Security revenues are being used to fund trillion dollar bailouts for Wall Street and to fund the Bush/Obama wars of aggression against Muslims. Having diverted Social Security revenues to war and Wall Street, Paulson says there is no alternative but to take the promised benefits away from those who have paid for them.

Republicans have extraordinary animosity toward the poor. In an effort to talk retirees out of their support systems, Republicans frequently describe Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and "unsustainable." They ought to know. The phony trust fund, that they set up to hide the fact that Wall Street and the Pentagon are running off with Social Security revenues, is a Ponzi scheme. Social Security itself has been with us since the 1930s and has yet to wreck our lives and budget. But it only took Hank Paulson's derivative Ponzi scheme and its bailout a few years to inflict irreparable damage on our lives and budget.

Years ago with stagflation defeated and a rising stock market, I favored privatizing Social Security as a way of creating a funded retirement system and producing greater savings and larger incomes for retirees. At that time Wall Street was interested, not for my reasons, but in order to collect the fees from managing the funds. Had Social Security been privatized, I doubt that Wall Street would have been permitted to deregulate the financial system. Too much would have been at stake. After the latest crisis brought on by Wall Street's dishonesty and greed, trusting Wall Street to manage anyone's old age pension requires a leap of faith that no intelligent person can make.

Wall Street has got away with its raid on the public treasury. Now, pockets full, it wants to pay for the heist by curtailing Social Security and Medicare. Having deprived the working population of homes, jobs, and health care, Wall Street is now after the elderly's old age security. Social Security, formerly an untouchable "third rail of politics," is now "unsustainable," while the real unsustainables - a pre-1929 unregulated financial system and open-ended multi-trillion dollar Global War Against Terror - are the new untouchables. This transformation signals the complete capture of American democracy by an oligarchy of special interests."

The Daily "Near You?"

Makawao, Hawaii, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Nanotechnology: "Nanotech May Tap Into Your Mind"

"Nanotech May Tap Into Your Mind"
by Annabel McGilvray

"New sensors built using nanotechnology could read and write information directly into the brain. Telecommunications researchers in Japan are attempting to create electronic sensors that can not only receive information from the brain, but could manipulate our neural pathways. While the concept might conjure science-fiction images of half-human, half-machine cyborgs, Dr Keiichi Torimitsu of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), says the research is more likely to provide relief for people with Parkinson's disease or overcoming stroke.

Torimitsu presented his team's work on the development of bionic, or bio-mimetic, brain sensors at this week's International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN) in Sydney. "Establishing connections between the brain and electrical instruments is important for understanding how the brain works and for controlling neural activity," says Torimitsu, who heads NTT's Molecular and Bioscience Group. "To develop some kind of devices or interfaces with the brain that would make it possible to transmit our information, sending it through the telecommunication pathways to another person or device such as a computer - that is the goal." A neural interface would be a significant achievement in the rapidly advancing realm of bionic technology, which includes devices such as the cochlear ear implant.

Torimitsu is working on creating a nano-scaled implant comprising a nano-electrode coated with an artificial membrane that mimics the receptor proteins found on the surface of brain cells, such as glutamate and GABA receptors -involved in increasing and inhibiting brain activity. Interactions between the receptors and neurotransmitters naturally generate electrical activity. Carefully placed nano-electrodes receive the neurotransmissions providing an instant, accurate electrical reflection of what is occurring, which can be read by an external device. Torimitsu hopes it would not only monitor activity, but also interact in the connections between neurons known as the synapses. Ideally, he says, the device would use a biological energy source such as glucose. "If we could use those proteins on a nano-electrode to generate electrical responses, we could achieve the bio-mimicry of responses."

Torimitsu admits there are a number of hurdles to overcome such as adverse immune responses and possible faults with the machinery. He says at this stage it's unlikely that healthy people would volunteer to have the devices implanted. But, Torimitsu says it has great medical potential for stroke sufferers and people with Parkinson's disease where brain activity could be controlled. The Japanese team is working with several researchers in Australia to refine the concept and devise applications for the technology.

Torimitsu has been working with Dr Simon Koblar of the University of Adelaide's Centre for Molecular Genetics of Development, looking at how to apply the technology for the treatment of stroke sufferers. He is also about to commence working with the University of Wollongong's Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, which works at the forefront of bionics. Director of the Institute, Professor Gordon Wallace, says one of the goals is to improve the interface with cochlear implant. He says Torimitsu's work - a meeting of telecommunications technology and biological knowledge - shows why it makes it a very exciting time to be doing such research. "People are starting to realize all around the world that there are lots of tools that we can use that we already have at our disposal to make this field progress very quickly," says Wallace."

"TV Ad Effectiveness Varies By Viewer Concentration"

"TV Ad Effectiveness Varies By Viewer Concentration"
by ScienceDaily

"Viewers pay less attention to creative television advertisements, shows new research from the University of Bath, but may make themselves more vulnerable to the advertiser's message. The findings overturn the long-held assumption within the advertising industry that ads with high levels of emotional content encourage viewers to pay more attention.
The study, published in the "Journal of Advertising Research," used an eye-tracking device to measure the real-time attention paid to a range of adverts with different levels of emotional content. The adverts were embedded in an episode of the sitcom Frasier and participants were unaware that advertising was the subject of the research. Results showed that viewers paid less attention to likeable, creative adverts, and more attention to factual information-giving adverts, even when they didn't like them.

Dr Robert Heath, from the University's School of Management, who led the research team, said: "There has been a lot of research which shows that creative TV ads are more effective than those which simply deliver information, and it has always been assumed that it is because viewers pay more attention to them. But in a relaxed situation like TV watching, attention tends to be used mainly as a defense mechanism. If an ad bombards us with new information, our natural response is to pay attention so we can counter-argue what it is telling us. On the other hand, if we feel we like and enjoy an ad, we tend to be more trustful of it and therefore we don't feel we need to pay too much attention to it.

The sting in the tail is that by paying less attention, we are less able to counter-argue what the ad is communicating. In effect we let our guard down and leave ourselves more open to the advertiser's message. This has serious implications for certain categories of ads, particularly ads for products that can be harmful to our health, and products aimed at children. The findings suggest that if you don't want an ad to affect you in this way, you should watch it more closely."

Sue Monk Kidd

"Knowing can be a curse on a person's life. I'd traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn't know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can't ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now."
- Sue Monk Kidd

Washington Times: "9/11 'Inconsistencies' Still Unexplained"

"9/11 'Inconsistencies' Still Unexplained"
by Jennifer Harper

"A lingering technical question about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks still haunts some, and it has political implications: How did 200,000 tons of steel disintegrate and drop in 11 seconds? A thousand architects and engineers want to know, and are calling on Congress to order a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 at the World Trade Center.

"In order to bring down this kind of mass in such a short period of time, the material must have been artificially, exploded outwards," says Richard Gage, a San Francisco architect and founder of the nonprofit Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Mr. Gage, who is a member of the American Institute of Architects, managed to persuade more than 1,000 of his peers to sign a new petition requesting a formal inquiry. "The official Federal Emergency Management [Agency] and National Institute of Standards and Technology reports provide insufficient, contradictory and fraudulent accounts of the circumstances of the towers' destruction. We are therefore calling for a grand jury investigation of NIST officials," Mr. Gage adds.

The technical issues surrounding the collapse of the towers has prompted years of debate, rebuttal and ridicule. He is particularly disturbed by Building 7, a 47-story skyscraper, which was not hit by an aircraft, yet came down in "pure free-fall acceleration." He also says that more than 100 first-responders reported explosions and flashes as the towers were falling and cited evidence of "multi-ton steel sections ejected laterally 600 ft. at 60 mph" and the "mid-air pulverization of 90,000 tons of concrete & metal decking."

There is also evidence of "advanced explosive nano-thermitic composite material found in the World Trade Center dust," Mr. Gage says. The group's petition at www.ae911truth.org is already on its way to members of Congress. "Government officials will be notified that 'Misprision of Treason,' U.S. Code 18 (Sec. 2382), is a serious federal offense, which requires those with evidence of treason to act," Mr. Gage says. "The implications are enormous and may have profound impact on the forthcoming Khalid Shaikh Mohammed trial."

"How It Really Is"

"If You Liked Bovine Growth Hormone, You’ll Love Ractopamine"

"If You Liked Bovine Growth Hormone,
You’ll Love Ractopamine"
by Martha Rosenberg

"While researchers and scientists investigate the cause of our diabetes, obesity, asthma and ADHD epidemics, they should ask why the FDA approved a livestock drug banned in 160 nations and responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown and 10 percent mortality in pigs, according to angry farmers who phoned the manufacturer. The beta agonist ractopamine, a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis, was recruited for livestock use when researchers found the drug, used in asthma, made mice more muscular says "Beef" magazine.

But unlike the growth promoting antibiotics and hormones used in livestock which are withdrawn as the animal nears slaughter, ractopamine is started as the animal nears slaughter. As much as twenty percent of Paylean, given to pigs for their last 28 days, Optaflexx, given to cattle their last 28 to 42 days and Tomax, given to turkeys their last 7 to 14 days, remains in consumer meat says author and well known veterinarian Michael W. Fox. Though banned in Europe, Taiwan and China–more than 1,700 people were “poisoned” from eating Paylean-fed pigs since 1998 says the Sichuan Pork Trade Chamber of Commerce–ractopamine is used in 45 percent of US pigs and 30 percent of ration-fed cattle says Elanco Animal Health which manufactures all three products.

How does a drug marked, “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask” become “safe” in human food? With no washout period?

The same way Elanco’s other two blockbusters, Stilbosol (diethylstilbestrol or DES), now withdrawn, and Posilac or bovine growth hormone (rBST), bought from Monsanto in 2008, became part of the nation’s food supply: shameless corporate lobbying. A third of meetings on the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s public calendar in January 2009 were with Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly–or about ractopamine.

In fact, in 2002, three years after Paylean’s approval, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance accused Elanco of withholding information about “safety and effectiveness” and “adverse animal drug experiences” upon which ractopamine was approved, in a 14-page warning letter. “Our representatives requested a complete and accurate list of all your GLP [Good Laboratory Practices] studies involving Paylean® (Ractopamine hydrochloride), including their current status as well as the names of the respective study monitors. In response, your firm supplied to our representatives multiple lists which differed in the names of the studies and their status. In addition, your firm could not locate or identify documents pertaining to some of the studies. This situation was somewhat confusing and created unneeded delays for our representatives,” wrote Gloria J. Dunnavan, Director Division of Compliance.

Where was mention of the farmer phone calls to Elanco reporting, “hyperactivity,” “dying animals,” “downer pigs” and “tying up” and “stress” syndromes, asks the FDA letter. Where was the log of phone calls that included farmers saying, “animals are down and shaking,” and “pig vomiting after eating feed with Paylean”? But, not to worry. Despite ractopamine’s dangers and the falsified approval documents, the FDA approved ractopamine the following year for cattle– and last year for turkeys.

According to Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, the “indiscriminant use of Paylean (ractopamine) has contributed to an increase in downer non-ambulatory pigs,” and pigs that “are extremely difficult to move and drive.” In Holsteins, ractopamine is known for causing hoof problems, says Grandin and feedlot managers report the “outer shell of the hoof fell off” on a related beta agonist drug, zilpateral.

A article in the 2003 "Journal of Animal Science" confirms that “ractopamine does affect the behavior, heart rate and catecholamine profile of finishing pigs and making them more difficult to handle and potentially more susceptible to handling and transport stress.” Nor can we overlook the effects of “adding these drugs to waterways or well water supplies–via contaminated animal feed and manure runoff– when this class of drugs is so important in treating children with asthma,” says David Wallinga, MD of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

The FDA’s approval of a drug for food that requires impervious gloves and a mask just to handle is reminiscent of the bovine growth hormone debacle. Like rBST, ractopamine increases profits despite greater livestock death and disability because a treated animal does the work of two in a macabre version of economies of scale. Like rBST, food consumers are metabolic, neurological and carcinogen guinea pigs so that agribusiness can make a profit. And like rBST, “Mothers Of Growing Children” was not marked as a visiting group on the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s public calendar next to the ag lobbyists."
Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health.
She can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net.
- http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/02/if-you-liked-bovine-growth-hormone-youll-love-beta-agonists/

Zeb Reynolds

"In our society, confidence leads to knowledge - which leads to power - which leads to pride - which leads to a fear of seeming ignorant - which constricts learning like an iron vise. We must understand that confidence is a blessing, for it is the embodiment of self-love, and through it we find the fuel for innovation and progress. We must realize that ignorance is merely the opportunity to learn more. And lastly, we must marvel rather than groan at the fact that there will always be more to learn... Only then will we be free of the intellectual prisons we have so readily caged ourselves within."
- Zeb Reynolds

"The 'Too Big To Fail' Lie (As Applied To US Banks)"

"The 'Too Big To Fail' Lie (As Applied To US Banks)"
by Steve Saville

"They are too big to fail" was the reason given for using trillions of dollars in money and guarantees to 'bail out' several large US banks during 2008-2009. Their failure, it was argued, would all but bring the entire economy to a standstill; such were the size and scope of their operations. Providing the banks whatever financial support they needed to remain in business was therefore touted as serving the "public interest". However, the "too big to fail" argument was a giant, multi-faceted lie.

One part of the lie was that rescuing the banks would ensure the continued flow of credit to private individuals and businesses. It is now blatantly obvious that this was not true because bank lending has been in decline ever since the bailouts. Although, perhaps we are being unkind and it should be put down as a basic misunderstanding stemming from the popularity of fallacious Keynesian economic theories. The crux of the lending issue was/is that the pool of real savings became severely depleted during the inflation-fueled boom of 2003-2007. It should therefore be no surprise that the private economy has since been desperately trying to replenish its savings, and, as a consequence, that there has been less desire and less ability to create new debt. Once the real issue is understood it becomes clear that the banks were never likely to quickly return to their old lending habits and that it would be bad for the economy if they did.

A second part of the lie was that depositors were at risk, when it was actually just the bond- and equity-holders of the banks that were at risk. The bailouts were essentially carried out to prevent the owners of bank bonds from taking losses on their bad investments under a policy that could be aptly named "no bank-bondholder left behind".

A third part of the lie was more a misdirection than a lie, because the ultimate source of the funds for the bailouts was deliberately kept vague. There was always the implication that the government was funding the bailouts, but the government doesn't have or generate any real savings and can therefore never fund anything. The harsh reality is that the bailouts involved a massive transfer of wealth from the rest of the economy to the banks' bondholders in the first instance, and later to the banks' managers and traders.

Understanding how government bailouts of failed businesses are funded reveals the overarching lie that a bank or any other business could ever be "too big to fail". The truth is that one business or economic sector can only ever be given artificial support at the expense of other parts of the economy, so the bigger the business the LESS sense it will make, from an economy-wide perspective, to bail it out. Moreover, when a business fails it doesn't just disappear in a puff of smoke; rather, the parts of the business that are economically viable get sold off and resources get freed-up to be used elsewhere. In the cases of the big banks, the underlying banking businesses were healthy and would have continued to operate under different ownership if the banks had been permitted to go bust.

Unfortunately, the "too big to fail" lie is still going strong. From the government's perspective, the theory that the financial crisis had a lot to do with the sizes of banks* is just too good to let go. This is because it not only provides justification for the huge wealth transfer of 2008-2009 and diverts blame from the government and the Fed; it also creates an opportunity for the regulators to be seen as saviours rather than culprits.

President Obama's current proposal** to limit the size and scope of the banks is the latest in a long line of attempts to portray regulators as saviours, but we wonder if the public is starting to 'wise up'. The proposal came in the immediate aftermath of the Massachusetts election shock and has clearly been designed to redirect the anger of the voting public from big government to big banks, but could the voters finally be twigging to the reality that what's needed, more than anything, is a smaller government? Maybe, although a less optimistic appraisal would be that the average voter still sees no problem with government-enforced wealth distribution as long as he/she is a direct beneficiary of the distribution. In any case, a devout believer in central planning will perceive every problem as a justification to expand the role of government, even when it is patently obvious that government caused the problem. And few are more devout than Mr. Obama.

With regard to the so-called "too big to fail" banks, the correct solution is very simple and requires nothing except the application of basic property rights. The solution is to take away the legal privilege to counterfeit money that the banks currently enjoy, thus putting the banks on a level playing field with everyone else. Not surprisingly, this solution is not up for consideration."

Above is an excerpt from a 28th January, 2010, commentary originally posted at
http:// www.speculative-investor.com

*The immense size that some banks have been able to attain is a symptom, not a cause. It is a symptom of an inherently unstable monetary system - a system that allows money to be created out of nothing by the private banks and the central bank.
**According to a White House press release last week: "...the proposal would: 1. Limit the Scope - The president and his economic team will work with Congress to ensure that no bank or financial institution that contains a bank will own, invest in or sponsor a hedge fund or a private equity fund, or proprietary trading operations unrelated to serving customers for its own profit. 2. Limit the Size - The president also announced a new proposal to limit the consolidation of our financial sector. The president's proposal will place broader limits on the excessive growth of the market share of liabilities at the largest financial firms, to supplement existing caps on the market share of deposits."

"How The People Are Feeling In This Economy"

The Perfect Storm The Andrea Gail

Creative End Productions, Inc. | MySpace Video

Bill Bonner, "Government Sachs?"

"Government Sachs?"
by Bill Bonner

"Last week, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou slipped. He said not what he should have said, nor what he wanted to say. Unwittingly, he said something that was true: his country's budget was "out of control." He begged for more time to straighten it out. "We're trying to change the course of the Titanic," he said. The EU ministers gave him a month. Mr. Papaconstantinou was speaking of Greece. But he described much of Europe, Britain, Japan and the US. And, in his fortunate metaphor, he prophesied. The big ships can't be turned around. They're going to sink.

Greece has been taking on water for many years. But this was the first time a finance minister of any country signaled to lenders that they should head for the lifeboats. Then, looking around, the press noticed that one of the lifeboats had already been launched. In it were no crying widows and no shivering orphans. Just one very satisfied Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs. He had sold the Greeks their debt, said the papers; now he has sold it short.

Der Spiegel was first to break the story. Then, it came out in The New York Times. And then Bloomberg was on Goldman's case. It wasn't the mess that the Greeks had gotten themselves into that attracted the press attention, it was who had helped them get into it. Greece has been in default to its creditors in one out of two years since it got independence in the early 19th century. It is almost the definition of a poor credit risk. By what crook and what hook did the slippery Hellenes manage to get themselves into the Euro Club?

Creativity in art makes for masterpieces. Innovation in industry may lead to success. But when the financial industry schemes and canoodles, it invariably leads to disaster. Goldman Sachs, the most cunning of Wall Street's financiers, is fundamentally a debt monger. Like a liquor store or a drug dealer, it earns money to the extent it is able to move its merchandise. The more the customer wants, the more Goldman earns. Whether the purchase is good for the customer or not is not Goldman's concern. But just look at where the moneylenders have been most creative and you will surely find something you should not own.

In the present example, Goldman earned a total of $300 million. Immediately, the pundits kvetched that its work was both criminal and noxious. As to the noxious charge, Goldman needs no defense. Greece has always been a notorious drunk. Goldman is merely a bartender. The money monger seeks neither the ruin of his customer, nor his reformation.

As to the criminal charge, Goldman says it was perfectly legal to structure the deal with Greece the way it did. Moreover, the authorities in Brussels have been aware of it for years...and even seemed to approve of it. Member states were allowed to "use derivatives to adjust deficit ratios," The Financial Times revealed last Wednesday. Goldman arranged for Athens to swap cash for a stream of income coming from an airport and a lottery. Was it debt or equity? Had Goldman lent Greece money...or had it bought part of the national patrimony? It really makes no difference; whatever you call it, the Greeks had impaired their balance sheet. Goldman had merely made a buck helping them do it.

Goldman need not worry about persecution; it has friends in high places. Such as Mario Draghi. Mr. Draghi has a long and impressive résumé. Not only has he been a managing director of Goldman Sachs, in charge of business development in Europe, he's also served as director general of the Italian Treasury and lately, Italy's central bank governor. And now he's up for the post of head of the ECB, to replace Jean-Claude Trichet, who is scheduled to step down next year. He is Goldman incarnate - banker, servant of the people, one of the financial world's high priests from whose hands come unction, salvation...and cash.

In the US, Goldman is so tight with the feds it is known as "Government Sachs." But what's new? Governments always turn to rich, well-connected moneymen for finance. The Rothschilds largely financed Britain's continental allies in its war against Napoleon in the early 19th century. Then, in the early 20th century, JP Morgan financed the British in WWI. In both cases, the lenders found innovative and often complex ways to keep the money flowing. Now, we are in the early 21st century and Goldman is providing the money.

But this time it is different. Borrowers are not at war. Instead, they borrow to blow themselves up. There is no foreseeable end to their borrowing. The Greek affair is peanuts. America's ink is so red it looks as though it has cut an artery; this year's deficit alone is $1.6 trillion. Japan, the world's second largest economy, now borrows more than it raises in tax revenues. And while the Greeks run a deficit of 13% of GDP, in the UK the deficit is even higher at 14%. Goldman is right; this is a good time to sell government debt. Better to get into the lifeboats too early than too late."
- http://www.dailyreckoning.com.au/government-sachs/2010/02/22/

Amazing. Anywhere there's the slightest hint of a dollar you'll find the voracious snout
of the Golden Pig of Wall Street, digging furiously through the rubble... - CP

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Mogambo Guru, "Government Stimulates Private Economy With Thin Air"

"Government Stimulates Private Economy With Thin Air"
by The Mogambo Guru

"Rep. Ron Paul is a Representative from Texas who I mistakenly called a Senator in a previous Mogambo Guru newsletter, which I understand is kind of an insult, and for which I apologize to Rep. Paul. The point being not that I am old and get confused, or that my editor is not catching those kinds of errors just because he doesn’t read it anymore because he is apparently sick and tired of reading my Stupid Mogambo Crap (SMC). I emphasize this because Rep. Paul is a member of government and has, I assume, various contacts with all kinds of “insider “people, and has secret sources of information, and thus is “plugged in”, which makes it significant to me that he recently said, “the government estimates that unemployment is over 10 percent. The real number is closer to 20 percent”!!

I am the person that added those two exclamation marks as punctuation at the end of the remarks by Rep. Paul, which I did because it seems significant in a way, like how 20% of all workers in this country work for a government or are otherwise tax-supported (e.g. the school systems), and now 20% of the workforce is unemployed. Eerie! Apparently, it is not too weird for Mr. Paul, as he ignores my remarks and my fabulous punctuation, which I added to “punch up” his remarks so that people would be properly aghast that this country has been so mismanaged by the Congress (which deficit-spent too much money) and the Federal Reserve (which created the money that made the booms, and now the busts, possible in the first place).

Well, the “punching up” worked well for me, and thus agitated, I begin crying in fear and howling in outrage, which I preface for the benefit of Mr. Paul, “I am outraged to The Freaking Maximum (TFM), and can now only howl in dismay and anger! AaahhhooooOOoooo!” This seemed to have an effect on Mr. Paul, too, and he then went on in a similar vein by saying, “Outrageously, the administration claims that they ‘cut taxes’ by reducing withholding, and that they have stimulated the private economy by increasing the amount of money in every worker’s paycheck.”

I know what you are thinking; you are saying to yourself, “Hey! More money! Great!” and I agree that it seems benign until you realize, to your horror, the “catch”, which is that “What they fail to mention is they did not change the total amount of taxes due. This means that all that money not withheld from paychecks will add up to a big unpleasant surprise when returns are filed this year”, and now, “Many tax preparers are already seeing shocked taxpayers having to come up with big checks to the government when they normally expect a refund. Stimulus, indeed!”

I am afraid that I missed the rest of his remarks, as I was overcome by panic and had to go immediately out to buy more gold, silver and oil, as these are the only things that will save my nasty butt when the inevitable consumer price inflation gets here because of the massive, monstrous, insane monetary inflation that is already here, and get some more guns, too, as these are the only things that will save my nasty butt when push comes to shove. And it will."

Richard Daughty (Mogambo Guru) is general partner and COO for Smith Consultant Group, serving the financial and medical communities, and the writer/publisher of the Mogambo Guru economic newsletter, an avocational exercise to better heap disrespect on those who desperately deserve it. The Mogambo Guru is quoted frequently in Barron’s, The Daily Reckoning , and other fine publications.

"Government Stimulates Private Economy With Thin Air" originally appeared in the Daily Reckoning. The Daily Reckoning, offers a uniquely refreshing, perspective on the global economy, investing, gold, stocks and today's markets. Its been called "the most entertaining read of the day." http://dailyreckoning.com/

Sam Keen


"Compassion begins with the acknowledgment of the single
inescapable truth that is the foundation for the possibility of love
between human beings — an awareness of the tragic sense of life."
- Sam Keen

"A Look From the Heavens"

"This space job was almost complete. Floating just below the International Space Station, astronaut Nicholas Patrick put some finishing touches on the newly installed cupola space windows last week. Patrick was a mission specialist onboard the recently completed space shuttle Endeavor's STS-130 mission to the ISS.
Pictured, Patrick floats near the outermost of seven windows on the new cupola of the just-installed Tranquility module. Patrick hovers about 340 kilometers over the Earth's surface, well in front of the blue sky, blue water, and white clouds pictured far in the background. In the above image, covers on windows three and four were in place and clearly labelled. Images from inside the ISS's new panoramic cupola are now available."

"Intelligent People Have Evolutionarily Novel Preferences and Values"

"Intelligent People Have Evolutionarily Novel Preferences and Values"
by Lee Herring

"Higher intelligence is associated with liberal political ideology, atheism, and men's (but not women's) preference for sexual exclusivity. More intelligent people are significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history. Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds.

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal "Social Psychology Quarterly," advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values. The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years." "Evolutionarily novel" preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess. In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are "evolutionarily familiar."

"General intelligence, the ability to think and reason, endowed our ancestors with advantages in solving evolutionarily novel problems for which they did not have innate solutions," says Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science. "As a result, more intelligent people are more likely to recognize and understand such novel entities and situations than less intelligent people, and some of these entities and situations are preferences, values, and lifestyles."

An earlier study by Kanazawa found that more intelligent individuals were more nocturnal, waking up and staying up later than less intelligent individuals. Because our ancestors lacked artificial light, they tended to wake up shortly before dawn and go to sleep shortly after dusk. Being nocturnal is evolutionarily novel. In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel. So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa's hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as "very liberal" have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as "very conservative" have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.

Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans' tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see "the hands of God" at work behind otherwise natural phenomena. "Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid," says Kanazawa. This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. "So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists." Young adults who identify themselves as "not at all religious" have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as "very religious" have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

In addition, humans have always been mildly polygynous in evolutionary history. Men in polygynous marriages were not expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate, whereas men in monogamous marriages were. In sharp contrast, whether they are in a monogamous or polygynous marriage, women were always expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate. So being sexually exclusive is evolutionarily novel for men, but not for women. And the theory predicts that more intelligent men are more likely to value sexual exclusivity than less intelligent men, but general intelligence makes no difference for women's value on sexual exclusivity. Kanazawa's analysis of Add Health data supports these sex-specific predictions as well. One intriguing but theoretically predicted finding of the study is that more intelligent people are no more or no less likely to value such evolutionarily familiar entities as marriage, family, children, and friends."
Lee Herring, pubinfo@asanet.org, American Sociological Association
The article "Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent" will be published in the March 2010 issue of "Social Psychology Quarterly," a publication of the American Sociological Association. Journalists can obtain the artcle by emailing pubinfo@asanet.org.

George Washington, "Why We are Susceptible to Manipulation"

"Why We are Susceptible to Manipulation"
by George Washington

"Biologists and sociologists tell us that our brains evolved in small groups or tribes. As one example of how profoundly the small-group environment affected our brains, Daily Galaxy points out: Research shows that one of the most powerful ways to stimulate more buying is celebrity endorsement. Neurologists at Erasmus University in Rotterdam report that our ability to weigh desirability and value doesn’t function normally if an item is endorsed by a well-known face. This lights up the brain’s dorsal claudate nucleus, which is involved in trust and learning. Areas linked to longer-term memory storage also fire up. Our minds overidentify with celebrities because we evolved in small tribes. If you knew someone, then they knew you. If you didn’t attack each other, you were probably pals.

Our minds still work this way, giving us the idea that the celebs we keep seeing are our acquaintances. And we want to be like them, because we’ve evolved to hate being out of the in-crowd. Brain scans show that social rejection activates brain areas that generate physical pain, probably because in prehistory tribal exclusion was tantamount to a death sentence. And scans by the National Institute of Mental Health show that when we feel socially inferior, two brain regions become more active: the insula and the ventral striatum. The insula is involved with the gut-sinking sensation you get when you feel that small. The ventral striatum is linked to motivation and reward.

In small groups, we knew everyone extremely well. No one could really fool us about what type of person they were, because we had grown up interacting with them for our whole lives. If a tribe member dressed up and pretended he was from another tribe, we would see it in a heart-beat. It would be like seeing your father in a costume: you would recognize him pretty quickly, wouldn't you?

As the celebrity example shows, our brains can easily be fooled by people in our large modern society when we incorrectly ascribe to them the role of being someone we should trust. As the celebrity example shows, our brains can easily be fooled by people in our large modern society when we incorrectly ascribe to them the role of being someone we should trust. The opposite is true as well. The parts of our brain that are hard-wired to quickly recognize "outside enemies" can be fooled in our huge modern society, when it is really people we know dressed up like the "other team".

Because of this hard-wiring in our brains from the days we lived in tiny tribes, we are highly susceptible to false flag attacks. Specifically, if government agents dress up like the "other team" and stage an attack on their own country, most people's "defend the tribe" hardwiring kicks in, so they rally around their leaders and call for the heads of the "other team". Our brains assume that we can tell truth from fiction, because they evolved in very small groups where we knew everyone extremely well, and usually could see for ourselves what was true. On the other side of the coin, a tribal leader who talked a good game but constantly stole from and abused his group would immediately be kicked out or killed. No matter how nicely he talked, the members of the tribe would immediately see what he was doing.

But in a country of hundreds of millions of people, where the political class is shielded from the rest of the country, people don't really know what our leaders are doing with most of the time. We only see them for a couple of minutes when they are giving speeches, or appearing in photo ops, or being interviewed. It is therefore much easier for a wolf in sheep's clothing to succeed than in a small group setting. Indeed, sociopaths would have been discovered very quickly in a small group. But in huge societies like our's, they can rise to positions of power and influence.

As with the celebrity endorsement example, our brains are running programs which were developed for an environment (a small group) we no longer live in, and so lead us astray. Like the blind spot in our rear view mirror, we have to learn to compensate and adapt for our imperfections, or we may get clobbered.

The good news is that we can evolve. While our brains have many built-in hardwired ways of thinking and processing information, they are also amazingly "plastic". We can learn and evolve and overcome our hardwiring - or at least compensate for our blind spots. We are not condemned to being led astray by Madison Avenue advertisers and ruthless dictators and scientific frauds and fundamentalists. We can choose to grow up as a species and reclaim our power to decide our own future."

Bill Bonner, "Government Growth Does Not Equal Economic Growth"

"Government Growth Does Not Equal Economic Growth"
by Bill Bonner

"A couple of years ago, we used to get such a kick out of making fun of the financial industry. Its pretensions were absurd and shocking. Its delusions were breathtaking. Its leaders were lunkheads and grifters. But the financial industry blew itself up in 2007-2009. Now, what do we have? The government! Doing all the same things… making the same mistakes (only worse)… and working hard to blow itself up.

“Basically, it’s over…” says Charlie Munger. Warren Buffett’s partner figures the glory days of the US economy/empire are behind it. He spelled this out in what he calls “a parable,” in Slate Magazine. This puts Munger in direct opposition to all those economists, bankers, politicians, pundits and meddlers who think they can do better than the financial industry. Martin Wolf, in The Financial Times, says the challenge is to “walk the tightrope” between too much additional stimulus and cutting off stimulus too soon.

Richard Koo and Paul Krugman think the feds need to give the economy a lot more stimulus in order to offset the forces of contraction. Most people think the economy will muddle through somehow… thanks to all those geniuses working at the Department of the Treasury and the Fed. Dream on! The economy might muddle through or it might not. (The Wall Street Journal says growth rates have already retuned to normal.) But if the economy does pull out of this depression… it will be in spite of all those ham-handed central planners who are telling it what to do, not because of them.

Yesterday, the Dow fell 100 points. Gold dropped $9. As far as we can tell, we’re still in a depression – that is, a deflationary contraction. You’ll see a lot of contradictory statistics and BS analyses for the next 5 to 10 years. What you won’t see is real growth… not until debt is substantially written off, costs are reduced and a new economic model is discovered. The ‘growth’ we’re seeing now is largely an illusion, a mirage, and an attractive nuisance. We’ll have to pay for it later! To put it another way, you won’t see real growth until there’s something solid to build on – a new foundation of lower costs and fewer leeches. Yes, dear reader, the problem is not a liquidity problem. It’s not a banking problem. It’s not even just a debt problem. The bigger problem is that the US economy – but nearly the same could be said of Japan… the UK… Italy… and other places – is too expensive, too rigid and too full of zombies.

Munger is right. At least, he’s right about what has gone on so far. The financial industry turned the country into a casino… and too many people lost their money. We don’t know what happened in the second part of Munger’s parable. We couldn’t get the 2nd page of the Slate article on our laptop screen. But he’s a smart guy. We doubt he missed the government’s role. First, the private sector loaded itself up with debt. Now, it’s the feds’ turn.

Was it Ronald Reagan who said of the Soviet Union, that it was on the “wrong side of history?” The derelict Bolsheviks were definitely on the wrong side of history in 1989. We knew it. They knew it. It was such a glaring problem; they had no choice. Their economy was imploding – thanks to rigid central planning. They gave up and switched sides. But now it’s the US that is on the wrong side of history. Like the Soviet Union, it tries to impose its will, by force, on Afghanistan. Like the Soviet Union, it has too many expenses and not enough income. And like the Soviet Union, it tries to impose its will on the domestic economy too – by central planning. Not exactly in the heavy-handed fashion of the old apparatchiks… This is post-Berlin Wall central planning. Collectivism with a clown face. The US nationalizes key industry and borrows heavily… shifting the weight of economic ‘growth’ from the private sector to the government. Everything from home finance, banking, insurance, automobiles, employment and food is now owned, provided or subsidized by the US government.

After the Soviet Union fell…the rest of the world went over to look down the collectivist hole… and then slid in too. In October 2009, the IMF counted 153 separate stimulus or bailout programs. If you bought a house or a car in 2009, you may very well have had the government to help you. And now, if you hire a new employee, you will have the government by your side again. If you get sick, you will have the comfort of knowing that the feds are in practically every examining room, every operating room, every drug laboratory, and every pharmacy. And if Obama has his way – there will be even more of them. Is there any economic act, howsoever trivial, that no longer involves government support, approval, or funding?

Munger may have pointed that out. Or maybe he didn’t. In either case, we will: the US economy was at its strongest before it was burdened by so many people depending on it… and so many smart people helping it along. It won’t make much progress again until it gets rid of those people. And that won’t happen until it has crashed… and become desperate. Living at the expense of others is a hard habit to break."

The Daily "Near You?"

Lynn, Massachusetts, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Arthur Schopenhauer

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
- Arthur Schopenhauer

"What Causes Chest Pain When Feelings Are Hurt?"

"What Causes Chest Pain When Feelings Are Hurt?"
by Robert Emery and Jim Coan

"When people have their feelings hurt, what is actually happening inside the body to cause the physical pain in the chest?" - Josh Ceddia, Melbourne, Australia

"Robert Emery and Jim Coan, professors of psychology at the University of Virginia, reply: Terms such as “heartache” and “gut wrenching” are more than mere metaphors: they describe the experience of both physical and emotional pain. When we feel heartache, for example, we are experiencing a blend of emotional stress and the stress-induced sensations in our chest- muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity and shortness of breath. In fact, emotional pain involves the same brain regions as physical pain, suggesting the two are inextricably connected.

But how do emotions trigger physical sensations? Scientists do not know, but recently pain researchers uncovered a possible pathway from mind to body. According to a 2009 study from the University of Arizona and the University of Maryland, activity in a brain region that regulates emotional reactions called the anterior cingulate cortex helps to explain how an emotional insult can trigger a biological cascade. During a particularly stressful experience, the anterior cingulate cortex may respond by increasing the activity of the vagus nerve- the nerve that starts in the brain stem and connects to the neck, chest and abdomen. When the vagus nerve is overstimulated, it can cause pain and nausea.

Heartache is not the only way emotional and physical pain intersect in our brain. Recent studies show that even experiencing emotional pain on behalf of another person- that is, empathy- can influence our pain perception. And this empathy effect is not restricted to humans. In 2006 a paper published in "Science" revealed that when a mouse observes its cage mate in agony, its sensitivity to physical pain increases. And when it comes into close contact with a friendly, unharmed mouse, its sensitivity to pain diminishes.

Soon after, one of us (Coan) published a functional MRI study in humans that supported the finding in mice, showing that simple acts of social kindness, such as holding hands, can blunt the brain’s response to threats of physical pain and thus lessen the experience of pain. Coan implicated several brain regions involved in both anticipating pain and regulating negative emotions, including the right anterior insula (which helps to regulate motor control and cognitive functioning), the superior frontal gyrus (which is involved in self-awareness and sensory processing) and the hypothalamus (which links the nervous system to the endocrine system). Although the biological pathways underlying these connections between physical and mental pain are not well understood, studies such as these are revealing how intricate the connection is and how very real the pain of heartache can be."

Henry Ford


“Life is a series of experiences, each of which makes us bigger,
even though it is hard to realize this. For the world was built
to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks
and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
- Henry Ford

Nutrition: "Remember Magnesium If You Want to Remember"

"Remember Magnesium If You Want to Remember"
by ScienceDaily

"Those who live in industrialized countries have easy access to healthy food and nutritional supplements, but magnesium deficiencies are still common. That's a problem because new research from Tel Aviv University suggests that magnesium, a key nutrient for the functioning of memory, may be even more critical than previously thought for the neurons of children and healthy brain cells in adults.

Begun at MIT, the research started as a part of a post-doctoral project by Dr. Inna Slutsky of TAU's Sackler School of Medicine and evolved to become a multi-center experiment focused on a new magnesium supplement, magnesium-L-theronate (MgT), that effectively crosses the blood-brain barrier to inhibit calcium flux in brain neurons. Published recently in the scientific journal "Neuron," the new study found that the synthetic magnesium compound works on both young and aging animals to enhance memory or prevent its impairment. The research was carried out over a five-year period and has significant implications for the use of over-the-counter magnesium supplements. In the study, two groups of rats ate normal diets containing a healthy amount of magnesium from natural sources. The first group was given a supplement of MgT, while the control group had only its regular diet. Behavioral tests showed that cognitive functioning improved in the rats in the first group and also demonstrated an increase of synapses in the brain - connective nerve endings that carry memories in the form of electrical impulses from one part of the brain to the other.

"We are really pleased with the positive results of our studies," says Dr. Slutsky. "But on the negative side, we've also been able to show that today's over-the-counter magnesium supplements don't really work: they do not get into the brain. "We've developed a promising new compound which has now taken the first important step towards clinical trials by Prof. Guosong Liu, Director of the Center for Learning and Memory at Tsinghua University and cofounder of Magceutics company," she says.

While the effects were not immediate, the researchers in the study - from Tel Aviv University, MIT, the University of Toronto, and Tsighua University in Beijing - were able to assess that the new compound shows improved permeability of the blood-brain barrier. After two weeks of oral administration of the compound in mice, magnesium levels in the cerebral-spinal fluid increased. "It seems counterintuitive to use magnesium for memory improvement because magnesium is a natural blocker of the NMDA receptor, a molecule critical for memory function. But our compound blocks the receptor only during background neuronal activity. As a result, it enhances the brain's 'plasticity' and increases the number of brain synapses that can be switched on," says Dr. Slutsky.

"Our results suggest that commercially available magnesium supplements are not effective in boosting magnesium in cerebro-spinal fluid," she says. "Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, but today half of all people in industrialized countries are living with magnesium deficiencies that may generally impair human health, including cognitive functioning."

Before the new compound becomes commercially available, Dr. Slutsky advises people to get their magnesium the old-fashioned way - by eating lots of green leaves, broccoli, almonds, cashews and fruit. The effects on memory won't appear overnight, she cautions, but with this persistent change in diet, memory should improve, and the effects of dementia and other cognitive impairment diseases related to aging may be considerably delayed."

"Synchronicity: A Wink from the Cosmos?"

"Synchronicity: A Wink from the Cosmos?"
by Meg Lundstrom

"Earl was trying to track down an out-of-print book called "The Adventures of Marco Polo." He scoured two used book stores in New York City, had no success, and caught a taxi to a third. The cab driver was unusually chatty, and during their conversation, Earl glanced at his license on the dashboard. His name? Marco Polo!

Art was sitting at his computer typing an e-mail missive when his cat Coal jumped from his lap onto the keyboard. Before Art’s startled eyes, as the cat shifted from key to key, its paws tapped out the word emerson on the screen. "To make it even weirder, I’ve been studying Ralph Waldo Emerson intently for the past year, and the study has taken on a very symbolic meaning to me," he says, still in shock. "My wife was sitting next to me at the computer, and if I’m sent away for being crazy, she has to go, too!"

The uncanny coincidence. The unlikely conjunction of events. The startling serendipity. Who hasn’t had it happen in their life? You think of someone for the first time in years, and run into them a few hours later. An unusual phrase you’d never heard before jumps out at you three times in the same day. On a back street in a foreign country, you bump into a college roommate. A book falls off the shelf at the bookstore and it’s exactly what you need.

Is it only, as skeptics suggest, selective perception and the law of averages playing itself out? Or is it, as Carl Jung believed, a glimpse into the underlying order of the universe? He coined the term synchronicity to describe what he called the "acausal connecting principle" that links mind and matter. He said this underlying connectedness manifests itself through meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained by cause and effect. Such synchronicities occur, he theorized, when a strong need arises in the psyche of an individual. He described three types that he had observed: the coinciding of a thought or feeling with an outside event; a dream, vision or premonition of something that then happens in the future; and a dream or vision that coincides with an event occurring at a distance. No one has come up with a definition that has superceded his, although there has been debate on whether events linked to precognition and clairvoyance should be included as synchronicity.

Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real; at deeper levels, everything -- atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people -- participates in a sensitive, flowing web of information. Physicists have shown, for example, that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other.

Whatever its cause, the appeal of synchronicity runs deep. "People love mysterious things, and synchronicity is like magic happening to them," says Carolyn North, author of "Synchronicity: The Anatomy of Coincidence" (Regent Press). "It gives us a sense of hope, a sense that something bigger is happening out there than what we can see, which is especially important in times like this when there’s so many reasons for despair."

The more pragmatic a person, the greater a surprise a synchronistic incident is - even mild ones of the sort that happen to most people sooner or later. For example, Bruce, a corporate lawyer, was stunned the day that, just as he was getting ready to dial his father, he picked up the phone and heard his father’s voice on the other end - calling him. "I said, `Holy smokes!’ We were both dumbfounded!" he recalls. For a moment in time, synchronicity shattered their assumptions of cause-and-effect reality. Some people, however, would shrug and call this intuition. How are the two different?

At first blush, synchronicity and intuition seem to be separate phenomena. Synchronicity happens "out there": against the odds, something in the Universe seems to swing into place to answer an inner need we have. Intuition happens "in here": it’s an inner knowing, an ability to tune into knowledge in a nonrational, nonlinear way. We know something but we don’t know how we know it.

Yet the boundaries get fuzzy very quickly. Jung’s definition of synchronicity clearly incorporates precognition and clairvoyance, which, by some people’s definition, are also types of intuition: they are certainly inner knowing. For example, here’s a mind-boggling synchronicity story that’s just as mind-boggling when viewed as an intuition story. Pam's father was chopping down a tree for firewood when it suddenly fell on him, crushing the left side of his face almost beyond recognition and shattering his back. Against all odds, he shoved the tree off of himself and walked a mile for help. Pam flew to Ithaca, New York, to be with him. It wasn't until weeks later, when she had returned to New York City, that she picked up the tablet she had been taking notes on in class at the time the accident had happened. She had been idly doodling in the margins -- and her drawings included a face with the left half shaded in black and a person's back with two Xs on the spine, marking the same vertebrae that her father had broken.

If we eliminate Jung’s two psi-related definitions and just focus on the coinciding of inner and outer events in a way that defies causal explanation, there can still be an overlapping, because the inner event can be an intuitive hit. In practice, synchronicity and intuition sometimes seem so intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins.

Shelley was sitting at Notre Dame in Paris giving her sore feet a rest. The shoes she had worn from the States had turned out to be painful, and her limited budget didn't allow her to buy another pair. Suddenly she felt an inner prompting, and she got up, walked out of the church, and turned left. Following her promptings, she made several other turns to arrive at a square. There, on top of a trash can, sat a pair of brand new black boots with no signs of wear -- in exactly her size. "It was perfect," she said. "If they had been inside the trash can, I wouldn’t have pulled them out. If they had been worn before, I wouldn’t have put them on. And they were so stylish I never could have afforded them myself!" So is this an intuition story or a synchronicity story? Intuition got her to the boots. Synchronicity provided her with precisely what she needed: she was virtually handed the boots by the Universe.

Some synchronicities are not the delivery of objects but of insights: something in the outer world crystallizes or confirms an inner process. Those synchronicities can "feel" much like intuition: it’s sudden information perceived by the psyche and experienced as true. "They’re both messages, but one is internal and one external," says John Graham, a former foreign officer who with his wife, Ann Medlock, runs the Giraffe Project, an intrepid organization in Langley, Washington, that recognizes people who stick their necks out for the common good. The organization lives hand to mouth on donations, but John intuitively knows when a big check is in the morning mail, and the amount is often synchronistically the exact amount they need to pay a pressing bill. "Synchronicity and intuition are saying the same thing, it’s just as if one were speaking French and the other Spanish," he says.

David Spangler, an author, teacher, and former guiding light of Findhorn, believes the two have many underlying similarities. "Intuition is another form of synchronicity: When I intuit something, there’s no apparent cause-and-effect relationship between my knowledge and how I got the knowledge," he says. "Likewise, synchronicity is precipitated intuition: we know of a connection not inwardly but outwardly, through action and perception. In both cases, the pattern carries the same message: we live in a world more intricately and holistically organized than we may ever have previously supposed."

Ultimately, it seems that our perception of the two is based on how we experience the boundary between our inner and outer environments. The more we feel a part of all around us, the more we engage in a dance of energy and input from all sides. At that point, it doesn’t matter, except as a point of passing interest, where the information comes from: it just comes.

Yet, until we live at that exalted level of consciousness, we can make good use of the interplay between the two. For example, some people develop their intuition using synchronicity as a tool. They follow an inner urge or message and watch for the results: if a meaningful coincidence results, it is a sign to them that they’re on the right track and that they can trust that voice in the future. For instance, Kathleen was driving toward the mountains for a hike when she made a split-second decision to go to a pottery studio instead. "I don’t know why -- it just felt right," she says. She had thought about stopping there before but had never gotten around to it. Just as she walked in the door, a woman was putting the finishing touches on a large ceramic pot. "It’s a drum," she told Kathleen, "But I don’t know anything about putting a skin on it." "I’ve make drums!" exclaimed Kathleen. "I know where to get the skins!" They quickly agreed to collaborate; in exchange, the woman will give her lessons. "It confirmed my intution," says Kathleen, "and let me know that pottery is something I should definitely pursue."

Conversely, some people make active use of intuitive skills to garner useful coincidences. Ray Simon, a Massachusetts writer, is constantly scanning the environment for oddities; he runs quick intuitive checks on them and follows where they lead him, often with fortuitous outcomes. For example, he was at a library looking up material on Alfred North Whitehead. A computer search listed 12 references, the third of which was blank. He pulled up the information on the third, found out that it actually referred to a book on Sartre, and so went to the shelves to find it. "These things are annoying to follow," he says with a laugh. "Your reasonable mind wants to do things that make sense." Next to that book was a different one on Sartre, a comic book that laid out his philosophy in a whimsical format. "I needed that information because I write computer manuals, and it’s an ongoing battle to stay light," he says. "That book enriched my life and expanded my thinking about what could be done."

There’s something about turning one’s choices over to intuition that seems to avail oneself to synchronicity," says Allan Combs, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville who co-authored "Synchronicity: Science, Myth and the Trickster" (Marlowe). "In practice, that can mean moving from moment to moment when making decisions, even small decisions - especially small decisions! If you expect the unexpected, synchronicity will emerge."

Intuition, researchers have found, flourishes in a person who is open, receptive and nonjudgmental. Synchronicity has had little research -- it defies laboratory tests, of course -- but people who have studied the topic report a phenomena which Alan Vaughan, author of "Incredible Coincidence: The Baffling World of Synchronicity" (Ballantine) calls "the synchronicity of synchronicity." Just having an active interest in the matter seems to make synchronicities happen more often - in part, of course, because we notice them more.

Likewise, synchronicity too seems to be dampened by cynicism and doubt. Although some synchronistic events, like some intuitive hits, cannot be easily ignored, others are of a subtler nature - almost dreamlike in their metaphorical patterns - and it takes practice both to notice and decode them.

In her book "The Tao of Psychology: Synchronicity and the Self" (HarperCollins) Jean Shinoda Bolen writes about being at a dinner party with friends when one woman raised a question: Occasionally, when she closed her eyes, frightening demonic images would appear. Should she confront them? examine them? immediately turn her attention elsewhere? As they discussed the matter, a skunk started scratching at a sliding glass door in front of them, trying to get inside.The hosts had never seen a skunk in the area, and after discussing how odd it was to see one trying to approach people, they joked about how unlikely it was that anyone would open a door to one. It was only later that Jean and her husband realized that the skunk provided a synchronistic answer to their question: Just as a skunk would stink up a living space, allowing demonic images in would do the same to one's inner space.

Says North: "If your belief system is such that intuition and synchronicity are real and significant, you will notice them. If your belief system is that they’re hogwash, you won’t."

Belief systems also dictate what people attribute the workings of synchronicity to. When it occurs, they may thank their luck, or fate, or destiny, or karma, or a miracle, or angels, for example. "Synchronicity happens when God wishes to remain anonymous," goes one saying. Carrie and Dan view as divinely inspired the string of happy coincidences that have allowed them to adopt and raise eleven disabled children on Dan’s salary as a school cafeteria worker. One month, hit with several emergencies, they had no money to pay rent - until lightning struck, hitting two of their trees. When the insurance adjuster came by, he wrote out a check so they could have them taken down, but he said to Carrie with a smile, "If I were you, I wouldn’t bother taking those trees down - you’re only going to lose a branch." The check exactly covered their rent. Said Carrie: "We thanked God. We walk in his shadow."

As was true with Carrie and Dan, synchronicity seems to appear often at times of personal crises and at such passage points as births and deaths. Sunbathing on a Caribbean beach with her friend Sandy, Mary found herself thinking sadly about Beth, a mutual friend of theirs who had died unexpectedly two weeks earlier. Softly, she started humming "Amazing Grace." When she finished, Sandy said, "That's so strange. I was just thinking about Beth, and `Amazing Grace' was her favorite song." Mary was stunned: she had never associated the song with Beth. They later learned that at the exact time Mary had been humming, Beth's family had been holding a private memorial for her.

"Synchronicity seems to happen when you’re intensely caught up in something that’s very deep - for instance, falling in makes it pop all over the place," says Combs. "A lot of activities that tap into the deep mystery of life - things like meditation, contemplative prayer - also seem to stir it up."

Synchronicities are sometimes regarded as signs, and some people consciously use them to make decisions in life. In the novel "The Celestine Prophecy," a bestseller which thrust synchronicity into the public consciousness, James Redfield says that all coincidences are significant because they point the way to an unfolding of our personal destiny.

MaryAnn had moved to London to live with her boyfriend, only to discover that she hated the city and that he had a nasty streak. One morning at 6 a.m., after a tearful fight with him, she fled the house and was out walking the dank, grey streets, feeling completely miserable. Suddenly a dead bird fell out of the sky and landed at her feet with a plop. "That did it," she says. "It was a sign from the Universe and it was shouting, 'Go home!' And I did."

Often synchronicities are simply a lark, a wink from the cosmos. Rebecca, a screenwriter, was researching the life of a mysterious woman, a famous writer's lover who had died tragically at a young age. Driving to Boston to view the writer's archives, Rebecca on a whim stopped off at the sprawling cemetery in the woman's home town, and quickly chanced upon her gravestone. On top of it was sitting a rabbit, its pink nose quivering. At the sight of Rebecca, it started skittering around in circles. In Boston a few hours later, she was reading through the writer's diaries when in the margin of a page, she came upon a few lines of curlicue, schoolgirlish handwriting, which she recognized as being the young woman's. The words? "Thank God for the rabbits and their funny little habits."