Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Red Flags For Saying No to A Job Offer"

"Karen Chopra knows all about the dangers of "first-offer-itis." It's a condition in which job seekers itch to take the first position they are offered, said the Washington, D.C.-based career counselor. And in this time of high unemployment, more people are inclined to do just that. But rather than letting her clients succumb, Chopra will discuss a position's pros and cons with them to figure out how much they like the job versus how much they just want to stop searching. "Most people hate the job search," she said. "It's an anxiety-producing time. But there are real dangers to taking a job that is not a good fit." If you're in a job you dislike, for instance, you may not perform well. And if you leave the job after a few months, there will be a short stint to explain on your résumé.

While there can be a tremendous amount of pressure to rejoin the ranks of the gainfully employed, experts recommend that seekers try to curb desperation. "You are planning your career as opposed to just getting another job," said Randy Miller, founder and chief executive of ReadyMinds, a Lyndhurst, N.J., provider of online career counseling and coaching. "Take a step back, be clear on what you want to do. Otherwise, you will be in the same position six months later."

Of course, you must calculate whether you can afford to pass on an offer. Job seekers without any savings may not be in a position to say "no." For those who can afford to be pickier, here are five tips on what type of offers to take a pass on and what warning signs to watch out for:

1. A big step down:
With more than six million jobs lost since the recession began, many job seekers have less leverage when it comes to salary. Nonetheless, a real low-ball offer is a red flag, Chopra said. It can be tough for workers to figure out how low is too low, Miller said, adding that job seekers should stay strong as long as they know they are worth more than a company's low offer. "In today's times, the employee is asked to do a lot more," he said. "If you are not making the money you are supposed to, you will probably be miserable."
Job seekers also should be wary of taking a title that's too far below their most recent position, said Allison O'Kelly, chief executive of Mom Corps, an Atlanta-based staffing firm specializing in flexible employment. At least temporarily, a salary can be less important than a title, O'Kelly said, because "it will be hard to get back into the higher role." She added that "people looking at your résumé will wonder why you were willing to take such a low-level position. They will think you should be more resourceful and able to find other jobs. I would prefer seeing that you are earning a little less, but that your title remains at a higher level. You will be better off."

2. Too-quick offers: Jobs that are offered very quickly may be worth passing on, said Walter Akana, a career strategist in Decatur, Ga. "It could be a sign that the company has lots of turnover and [is] desperate on some level as well," he said. While it can be unnerving, waiting awhile for an offer isn't necessarily a bad thing, Akana added. "The company is under pressure to fill the position in the best way possible," he said, "so sometimes the process can take time."

3. No written offer: Companies that don't provide a written offer may be worth avoiding, said Miller. And that's particularly important during times when many firms are struggling. Verbal offers "mean you really have nothing to stand on because the employer can renege," he said. "If it's a legitimate job offer, everything should be in writing." A contract with a specific description of the job could protect you from having your position radically altered. "The more you have in the document, the more it could protect you, it's minimizing your risk," Miller said. "You still run the risk of getting laid off. But it's better to have the piece of paper than nothing at all."

4. Too few answers: A potential employer's reluctance to answer questions should give you pause, said Chopra. Employers who are worried that a position may not be attractive to a particular candidate may try to conceal or avoid certain specifics, she said. Another giveaway: when employers won't allow job candidates to speak with a prospective supervisor. "You can work for a great company, but have a miserable supervisor, and that determines how you feel about the company," Chopra said. "The supervisor determines your day-to-day happiness."

5. Unpleasantness: If company insiders are difficult during negotiations, you may want to take a pass on a job, Chopra said. "Generally speaking, your treatment is not going to improve once you are hired," she said.
- Ruth Mantell is a "MarketWatch" reporter based in Washington.

Helen Keller

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen,
nor touched... but are felt in the heart."

- Helen Keller

Bill Bonner: "What Will Replace the Dollar?"

"If you haven’t seen it, there was a “news” item supposedly from Pravda that tells us the United States, Canada and Mexico have secretly planned to introduce a new North American currency, the Amero. Below is the alleged sample of the 50 Amero bill:
Will the Amero replace the dollar? Not at all…this myth has already been debunked online. If there were a new currency we also wouldn’t expect to see it any time soon, that’s our guess. We’re in a depression. Maybe it will become a Great Depression…or a Greater Depression, we don’t know. But it is a time of credit contraction…not credit expansion. For the moment, prices are falling. The dollar is safe…at least, for now.

We paid a visit to France over the weekend. No one knows how France stays in business. Everything is very expensive and very difficult. Half the population struggles to earn a living. The other half struggle to stop them. But more about that later… What caught our eye, walking down the street near the Communist Party headquarters, was a clothing shop. A few blocks away, you will pay $100 for a pair of jeans. But in this sidewalk shop, you can get a pair for $10. Shirts for $5. Jackets for $8. The store is owned and run by what appears to be a Chinese family. They probably skirt French employment law by keeping the entire operation in the family. Then, rather than an expensive store, they have a cheap storefront in a bad part of town and put everything out on the wide sidewalk. Even in bad weather, they stretch out a tarpaulin over the clothes racks.

A $3 shirt? A $10 pair of jeans? That’s deflation. A few months ago, these same clothes may have had designer brands on them – alligators or polo players, perhaps. But upscale sales are falling. So the factories take off the brands and dump their excess production onto the low-rent market. We don’t know that for a fact…we’re just putting two and two together. Excess capacity was built with excess credit. That’s what happens in an expansion. Entrepreneurs borrow to increase production so they can sell more products to credit-addled consumers. Then, the excess capacity dooms them. They put out too many goods and too many services. When demand falls – along with incomes and housing – prices fall too.

Yesterday, the dollar held steady. The yield on the 10-year T-bond fell to 3.69% after reaching up toward 4% a few days ago. The rise in bond yields (with falling bond prices) was probably the most interesting story in the financial world…until they stopped rising. What’s going on?

As we explained, there is no real economic recovery taking place. In fact, there is a lot more risk and mayhem on the horizon. And with no real economic recovery, don’t expect a real bull market on Wall Street. Or real pressure on bond yields. (Of course…there’s much more to the story…so stay tuned.) In the meantime, yesterday, the Dow dropped 200 points. It looks to us as though the rally is coming to an end. If you’re invested in U.S. stocks now, sell them. They could go higher…but it’s not worth the downside risk.

Some things are obvious and predictable. Other things are not. And, of course, we always have to remember that we don’t know what we are talking about. As colleague Alex Green’s delightful new book reminds us, “the only certainty is surprise.” More later…

What is more or less predictable is that a severe depression is developing. Our iron law puts it this way: the force of a correction is equal and opposite to the deception that preceded it. The Bubble Epoque was extraordinary in practically every way – with illusions, frauds and absurdities galore. Ergo, so must be the Bust Epoque that follows. From the housing sector comes news that even though houses are much cheaper they are not necessarily much more affordable. While prices are falling so are incomes and employment. Mortgage lenders, meanwhile, learned that they needed to be more careful about whom they lent money.

In 2007, the banks were so loose their arms practically fell off. If they had been young girls, you would have found short poems about them in the boys’ toilets. They weren’t prudent lenders; they were promiscuous ones. But now house prices are falling and lenders say ‘no’ to everyone. But unfortunately, that won’t undo the mistakes of the past – the mistakes that are deciding the future of the US economy. The lax lending standards caused the first wave of loan defaults that rocked the banks to their core.

So the poor lumpen are trapped between falling incomes and rising lending standards; they can’t buy a house even at a much lower price. The retailers are trapped too. They leased huge spaces to sell their wares; now they have no one to sell their wares to. Sales go down; so do earnings. Bloomberg reports that business executives see what is coming. They look at the figures and see their businesses trapped between high output capacity and low pricing power: “Insiders Exit Shares at the Fastest Pace in Two Years,” begins the headline. “Executives are taking advantage of the biggest stock-market rally in 71 years to sell their shares at the fastest pace since credit markets started to seize up two years ago. “Insiders of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies were net sellers for 14 straight weeks as the gauge rose 36 percent, data compiled by show. “Sales by CEOs, directors and senior officers have accelerated to the highest level since June 2007, two months before credit markets froze, as the S&P 500 rebounded from its 12-year low in March. The increase is making investors more skittish because executives presumably have the best information about their companies’ prospects.”

Even governments are trapped. Yesterday, Nicolas Sarkozy told the French that he wasn’t going to follow the ‘austerity policies’ urged on him by the European Central Bank. “Austerity policies never work,” he said. The French deficit is more than twice the levels permitted by the European Union’s economic guidelines. But at 7% of GDP, it is still barely half America’s government deficit. And over on America’s left coast, the government of Arnold Schwarzenegger is faced with the same crisis – only worse. The New York Times tells us that states, led by California, are putting government employees on forced furloughs, releasing prisoners early, closing parks and reducing education budgets. They need to watch out; citizens might notice that they never needed to spend so much money in the first place.

Speaking of prisons, for example, the states could save a fortune simply by getting rid of the jailbirds who never really did anyone wrong. By that, we mean the people who didn’t harm anyone but themselves…and arguably, not even themselves. There are hundreds of thousands of people in prison for drug crimes, for example. Let them pay a fine and turn them loose. (If we were running things, we’d legalize drugs and make alcohol and cigarettes compulsory. TV, rap music and Barbra Streisand performances, on the other hand, would be outlawed.)

“France is rotten,” said a dinner guest on Saturday night, recalling de Gaulle’s famous warning that Vietnam was a “rotten country”…and that Americans should stay out. “I’m fed up. You can’t do anything in this country without either getting permission or getting a fine. You can’t drive fast…even though the highways are made for much faster traffic. You can’t smoke. You can’t start a business…or sell one…or hire anyone. The way these employment laws work it’s safer to murder a bad employee than fire him. “Someone is always telling me what to do…and it wasn’t like that a few years ago. I’m old enough to remember what it was like in the ’60s and ’70s. France was still a free country back then. You could do pretty much what you liked. You could ride down the road without putting on a seat belt. You could smoke in bars. If you didn’t like your job you could tell your boss to go to hell. Then, you’d just look in the paper…there were always hundreds of jobs. People changed jobs. If one didn’t work out…they tried a different one. Now, if they don’t like their job they go to court and the employer is really in trouble. The whole process is rotten.

“What I’m really surprised about is the way the French have gone along with all this bossing… They’re sheep.” “Wait a minute,” another guest challenged her. “France is still a great place to live. The food is good. The weather is usually pretty good. The health service works. The trains run on time…at least, when the workers aren’t on strike. It’s pretty to look at. I don’t know how much you’ve traveled, but compared to the places I’ve seen, France is way ahead. Besides, if you don’t like it so much, why don’t you just leave? Find some other country you like better…” “Ha…I’m too old now…and besides…they’re all rotten.”

The Economy: "No Gold, No Bullets"

"Facts have a different feel when they're personal. And speaking personally, evidence that Americans are seriously spooked is starting to pile up. While researching a magazine article on offshore investing I interviewed Erika Nolan, executive director of the Sovereign Society, a Florida-based consultancy. She noted that her client base is changing: "Historically, offshore solutions have been reserved for very high net worth individuals. But starting in about 2001 we started to see people in the 'mid-tier millionaire' stream - $1 million to $30 million net worth - saying 'I've worked really hard, I don't want to have my assets at risk.' Most recently we've been seeing a big demand from Americans saying 'I just want to put $100,000 or $500,000 offshore. I'm reporting it; it has nothing to do with taxes.' It's just asset safety at this point."

My father-in-law decided he wanted some gold, so I called a local coin store and asked Kevin, the shop's owner, to find us some Krugerrands. He predicted a few weeks for delivery, which seemed reasonable given the chatter about tight supplies, so I placed an order and wrote a big check. That was three months ago, and the coins still aren't in. I called Kevin the other day and found him both busy and frustrated. "I could make a million dollars this year if I could only get inventory," he said. "This would be a career year." He apologized for the long wait and said there were now only a few people ahead of us on the list.

I checked in with a friend, a business owner and semi-professional poker player just back from a Seattle gambling trip. But instead of talking poker or kids we toured his stash of freeze-dried food and his growing arsenal that includes a Dirty Harry-style 44 magnum pistol and a very cool black pump-action shotgun. This guy is well-educated, well-traveled, and well-off, and he's preparing to blow away looters from his bedroom window.

My 11-year-old son Alex and I stopped by a local gun store. This is going to be a "skills acquisition" summer in which we learn to ride horses, handle guns, and change a bike flat (and when I finally learn to Salsa) so we had some general questions for Charles, the gun shop owner, about gun safety classes and which rifle is the best starter model. Charles said our selection was limited: It seems that there's a run on ammo, and he can't guarantee anything more than low-velocity 22 caliber bullets. When we got home I did a quick Google search for "bullet shortage" and sure enough, that market looks just like those for gold and silver coins, with demand swamping supply, long waiting lists, and panicky hoarding.

It's no secret, of course, that small-denomination bullion is hard to come by and gun sales are way up, but finding out first-hand that this stuff is unavailable brings home the reality of the situation, which is that the social mood is growing darker. On the surface everything looks normal; no one is protesting in the streets, the trash is getting picked up, and elections are as orderly as ever. But the market is quietly reallocating resources as individuals insure against a systemic breakdown. Hope those Krugerrands come soon."
- John Rubino, email: Website:

George Eliot

It's never too late to be what you might have been."
- George Elliot

Goldman, Sachs Economic Recovery Profile Chart"

"First is this grim chart from the analysts at Goldman, Sachs…one that suggests most of the developed world is in for a Japanese-style “Lost Decade.” Take a quick look and see where your country stands. This particular Goldman report doesn’t forecast the U.S. emerging from this mess until sometime around 2018, with recovery even farther off for Italy, Japan and Spain – just to name a few. Well, that’s pretty grim."

Economist Nouriel Roubini, "Current Analysis, 6/23/09"

"The risks of a double-dip, W-shaped recession may be growing."
By Nouriel Roubini

"In the past three months, global asset prices have rebounded sharply: Stock prices have increased by more than 30 percent in advanced economies and by much more in most emerging markets. Prices of commodities — oil, energy, and minerals — have soared; corporate credit spreads (the difference between the yield of corporate and government bonds) have narrowed dramatically, as government-bond yields have increased sharply; volatility (the “fear gauge”) has fallen; and the dollar has weakened as demand for safe dollar assets has abated.

But is the recovery of asset prices driven by economic fundamentals? Is it sustainable? Is the recovery in stock prices another bear-market rally or the beginning of a bullish trend? While economic data suggests that improvement in fundamentals has occurred — the risk of a near depression has been reduced; the prospects of the global recession bottoming out by year end are increasing; and risk sentiment is improving — it is equally clear that other, less sustainable factors are also playing a role. Moreover, the sharp rise in some asset prices threatens the recovery of a global economy that has not yet hit bottom. Indeed, many risks of a downward market correction remain.

First, confidence and risk aversion are fickle, and bouts of renewed volatility may occur if macroeconomic and financial data were to surprise on the downside — as they may if a near-term and robust global recovery (which many people expect) does not materialize.

Second, extremely loose monetary policies (zero interest rates, quantitative easing, new credit facilities, emissions of government bonds and purchases of illiquid and risky private assets), together with the huge sums spent to stabilize the financial system, may be causing a new liquidity-driven asset bubble in financial and commodity markets. For example, Chinese state-owned enterprises that gained access to huge amounts of easy money and credit are buying equities and stockpiling commodities well beyond their productive needs.

CORRECTION: The risk of a correction in the face of disappointing macroeconomic fundamentals is clear. Indeed, recent data from the US and other advanced economies suggest that the recession may last through the end of the year. Worse, the recovery is likely to be anemic and sub-par — well below potential for a couple of years, if not longer — as the burden of debts and leverage of the private sector combine with rising public sector debts to limit the ability of households, financial firms and corporations to lend, borrow, spend, consume and invest.

This more challenging scenario of anemic recovery undermines hopes for a V-shaped recovery, as low growth and deflationary pressures constrain earnings and profit margins and as unemployment rates above 10 percent in most advanced economies cause financial shocks to re-emerge, owing to mounting losses for banks’ and financial institutions’ portfolios of loans and toxic assets. At the same time, financial crises in a number of emerging markets could prove contagious, placing additional stress on global financial markets.

The increase in some asset prices may, moreover, lead to a W-shaped, double-dip recession. In particular, thanks to massive liquidity, energy prices are now rising too high too soon. The role that high oil prices played last summer in tipping the global economy into recession should not be underestimated. Oil above US$140 a barrel was the last straw — coming on top of the housing busts and financial shocks — for the global economy, as it represented a massive supply shock for the US, Europe, Japan, China and other net importers of oil.

DEFICITS: Meanwhile, rising fiscal deficits in most economies are now pushing up the yields of long-term government bonds. Some of the rise in long rates is a necessary correction, as investors are now pricing a global recovery. But some of this increase is driven by more worrisome factors: the effects of large budget deficits and debt on sovereign risk, and thus on real interest rates; and concerns that the incentive to monetize these large deficits will lead to high inflation after the global economy recovers from next year to 2011 and deflationary forces abate. The crowding out of private demand, owing to higher government-bond yields — and the ensuing increase in mortgage rates and other private yields — could in turn endanger the recovery.

As a result, one cannot rule out that by late next year or 2011, a perfect storm of oil above US$100 a barrel, rising government-bond yields and tax increases (as governments seek to avoid debt-refinancing risks) may lead to a renewed growth slowdown, if not an outright double-dip recession.

The recent recovery of asset prices from their March lows is in part justified by fundamentals, as the risks of global financial meltdown and depression have fallen and confidence has improved. But much of the rise is not justified, as it is driven by excessively optimistic expectations of a rapid recovery of growth toward its potential level and by a liquidity bubble that is raising oil prices and equities too fast too soon. A negative oil shock, together with rising government-bond yields — could clip the recovery’s wings and lead to a significant further downturn in asset prices and in the real economy."
- Nouriel Roubini is professor of economics at the Stern School of Business,
New York University, and chairman of RGE Monitor.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Official 9/11 FEMA Videographer Goes Public"

"The reason men are silenced is not because they speak falsely, but because they speak the truth. This is because if men speak falsehoods, their own words can be used against them; while if they speak truly, there is nothing which can be used against them - except force.” ~ John “the Birdman” Bryant 1943 - 2009

"Official 9/11 FEMA Videographer at Ground Zero Goes Public"

As official videographer for the U.S.government, Kurt Sonnenfeld was detailed to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, where he spent one month filming 29 tapes: "What I saw at certain moments and in certain places ... is very disturbing!" He never handed them over to the authorities and has been persecuted ever since. Kurt Sonnenfeld lives in exile in Argentina, where he wrote « El Perseguido » (the persecuted). His recently-published book tells the story of his unending nightmare and drives another nail into the coffin of the government’s account of the 9/11 events. Below is an exclusive interview by Voltairenet.

Kurt Sonnenfeld graduated from the University of Colorado (USA) with studies in International Affairs and Economics, as well as in Literature and Philosophy. He worked for the United States government as official videographer and served as Director of Broadcast Operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s National Emergency Response Team. Additionally, Kurt Sonnenfeld was contracted by several other governmental agencies and programs for classified and “sensitive” operations at military and scientific installations throughout the United States. On September 11, 2001, the area known as “Ground Zero” was sealed from the public eye. Sonnenfeld, however, was given unrestricted access enabling him to document for the investigation (that never took place) and provide some “sanitized” pool video to virtually every news network in the world. The tapes that reveal some of the anomalies which he discovered at Ground Zero are still in his possession.

Accused of a crime that did not occur in a manifest frame-up scenario, Kurt Sonnenfeld has been persecuted across continents. After several years of fear, injustice and isolation, he has decided to take a public stand against the Government’s official story and is prepared to submit his material to the close scrutiny of reliable experts.

Voltaire Network: Your autobiographical book titled "El Perseguido" (the persecuted) was recently published in Argentina where you live in exile since 2003. Tell us who is persecuting you.
Kurt Sonnenfeld: Although it is autobiographical, it is not my life story. Rather it is a history of the extraordinary events that have happened to me and my family at the hands of U.S. authorities over the course of more than seven years, spanning two hemispheres, after my tour of duty at Ground Zero and becoming an inconvenient witness.
Voltaire Network: You explained that your request for refugee status within the terms of the Geneva 1951 Convention is still being considered by the Argentinean Senate, while in 2005 you were granted political asylum, albeit, on a provisional basis. That probably makes you the first U.S. citizen in that situation! And no doubt the first U.S. Government official with direct exposure to the events surrounding September 11, 2001 who has “blown the whistle”. Is this what drove you into exile?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave (or stay away from) his or her country for reasons of persecution. It’s undeniable that many people have been persecuted unfairly as a result of the quasi-fascist laws and policies brought about by the shock of September 11, 2001, and they deserve refugee status. But the fact is, requesting refugee status is a risky and dangerous step to take. America is the world’s only remaining “superpower”, and dissent has been effectively repressed. Any person who requests refugee status on political grounds is by nature making an extreme statement of dissent. And if your request is denied, what do you do? Once you make the request, there can be no going back.
Personally, I wasn’t forced to leave the United States, and I certainly did not “flee”. At the time I was still fairly oblivious to what was actually brewing against me. I hadn’t connected the dots yet; so that when I left in early 2003 I had every intention of returning. I came to Argentina for a short respite; to try to recuperate after all that had happened to me. I travelled here freely, with my own passport, using my own credit cards. But because of an incredible series of events, I have since been forced into exile, and I haven’t been back.
Voltaire Network: What type of events are you referring to?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: I’ve suffered false accusations for “crimes” that demonstrably did not happen, abusive imprisonment and torture as a result of those accusations, as well as outrageous calumnies against my reputation, death threats, kidnap attempts and several other violations of civil and human rights as denounced by numerous international accords. My return to the United States would not only be a continuation of those violations, but would be aggregated by the separation - perhaps permanent - from my wife and three-year old twin daughters, the only thing remaining that I have to live for. And then, after the impossibility of receiving a fair trial for a crime that did not happen, I could be subject to the death penalty.
Voltaire Network: In 2005, the U.S. Government lodged a request to have you extradited, which was turned down by a Federal Judge. Then, in 2007, the Argentinean Supreme Court – in a show of integrity and independence - turned down the U.S. appeal, but your Government persisted. Can you shed some light on the situation ?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: In 2008, the US government appealed again, this time with absolutely no legal foundation, to the Supreme Court, which will surely uphold the two already unassailable rulings made by the Federal Judge. In one of those rulings, it was also noted that there were too many “sombras”, or shadows, surrounding my case. There were many, many obvious fabrications in the extradition order sent here by US authorities, and, thankfully, we were able prove that. The fact that there were so many fabrications has actually served to support my request for asylum. We were also able to show that we had been subject to a prolonged campaign of harassment and intimidation from US intelligence services. As a result, since my family has been assigned round-the-clock police protection. As one senator has noted about my case: “It is their behavior that belies their true motivations”.
Voltaire Network: They want you pretty badly for a “crime that did not happen”! How do you account for such doggedness? As a FEMA official, you must have been trusted by your government. At what point did the situation capsize?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: In hindsight, I realize now that the situation had capsized some time before I actually became aware that it had capsized. Initially, the false accusation against me was completely irrational, and I was totally destroyed by it. It is incredibly difficult to have suffered the loss of someone you love to suicide, but to then be accused of it is too much to bear. The case was dismissed based on a mountain of evidence that overwhelmingly absolved me (Nancy, my wife, had left behind a suicide note and a journal of suicidal writings ; she had a family history of suicide ; etc.). The prosecution was 100% sure of my innocence before requesting the dismissal of charge.

But the sustained incarceration even AFTER it was indicated that I was to be freed was what proved to me that something was happening under the surface. I was held in jail for FOUR MONTHS after my lawyers were informed that the case was to be dismissed and was finally released in June 2002. During that time, an amazing series of strange events began to occur. While still being held, I had a telephone conversation with FEMA officials in an effort to resolve the issue, but I realized that I was considered “compromised”. I was told it had been agreed that “the agency had to be protected”, especially in light of the upheaval that was threatening with the implementation of the “Patriot Act” and the expected usurpation that would come with the new Department of Homeland Security. After all the dangers I had risked, all hardship and difficulties I had endured for them for almost 10 years, I felt betrayed. It left a void in my soul.

Because of their abandonment, I told them I didn’t have the tapes, that I gave them to “some bureaucrat” in New York, and that they would have to wait until I was released to retrieve any other documents in my possession. Soon after that conversation, my house was “seized”, the locks were changed, and men were observed by neighbors entering my house, though there is no record in the court of their entry, as would be required. When I was finally released, I discovered that my office had been ransacked, my computer was missing, and that my tape library in my basement had been dug through and several were missing. Men were constantly parked on the street near my house, my security system was “hacked” more than once, outdoor security lights were unscrewed, etc., to the point that I went to stay with some friends at their condo in the mountains, which was then ALSO broken into.

Anyone who looks for the truth recognizes that there has been an amazing series of irregularities in this case and that an appalling injustice is being carried out on me and my loved ones. This intense campaign to return me to American soil is a false pretext for other darker motives.
Voltaire Network: You have suggested that you observed things at Ground Zero that did not tally with the official account. Did you do or say anything to arouse suspicion in this respect?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: In that same telephone call I said that I would “go public”, not only with my suspicions about the events surrounding September 11, 2001, but about several contracts I had worked on in the past.
Voltaire Network: What are your suspicions based on?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: There were many things, in hindsight, that were disturbing at Ground Zero. It was odd to me that I was dispatched to go to New York even before the second plane hit the South Tower, while the media was still reporting only that a “small plane” had collided with the North Tower — far too small of a catastrophe at that point to involve FEMA . FEMA was mobilized within minutes, whereas it took ten days for it to deploy to New Orleans to respond to Hurricane Katrina, even with abundant advance warning! It was odd to me that all cameras were so fiercely prohibited within the secured perimeter of Ground Zero, that the entire area was declared a crime scene and yet the “evidence” within that crime scene was so rapidly removed and destroyed. And then it was very odd to me when I learned that FEMA and several other federal agencies had already moved into position at their command center at Pier 92 on September 10th, one day before the attacks!

We are asked to believe that all four of the “indestructible” black boxes of the two jets that struck the twin towers were never found because they were completely vaporized, yet I have footage of the rubber wheels of the landing gear nearly undamaged, as well as the seats, parts of the fuselage and a jet turbine that were absolutely not vaporized. This being said, I do find it rather odd that such objects could have survived fairly intact the type of destruction that turned most of the Twin Towers into thin dust. And I definitely harbor some doubts about the authenticity of the “jet” turbine, far too small to have come from one of the Boeings!

What happened with Building 7 is incredibly suspicious. I have video that shows how curiously small the rubble pile was, and how the buildings to either side were untouched by Building Seven when it collapsed. It had not been hit by an airplane; it had suffered only minor injuries when the Twin Towers collapsed, and there were only small fires on a couple of floors. There’s no way that building could have imploded the way it did without controlled demolition. Yet the collapse of Building 7 was hardly mentioned by the mainstream media and suspiciously ignored by the 911 Commission.
Voltaire Network: Reportedly, the underground levels of WTC7 contained sensitive and undoubtedly compromising archival material. Did you come across any of it?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: The Secret Service, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of Emergency Management’s “Crisis Center” occupied huge amounts of space there, spanning several floors of the building. Other federal agencies had offices there as well. After September 11, it was discovered that concealed within Building Seven was the largest clandestine domestic station of the Central Intelligence Agency outside of Washington DC, a base of operations from which to spy on diplomats of the United Nations and to conduct counterterrorism and counterintelligence missions.

There was no underground parking level at Seven World Trade Center. And there was no underground vault. Instead, the federal agencies at Building Seven stored their vehicles, documents and evidence in the building of their associates across the street. Beneath the plaza level of US Customs House (Building 6) was a large underground garage, separated off from the rest of the complex’s underground area and guarded under tight security. This was where the various government services parked their bomb-proofed cars and armored limousines, counterfeit taxi cabs and telephone company trucks used for undercover surveillance and covert operations, specialized vans and other vehicles. Also within that secured parking area was access to the sub-level vault of Building 6.

When the North Tower fell, the US Customs House (Building 6) was crushed and totally incinerated. Much of the underground levels beneath it were also destroyed. But there were voids. And it was into one of those voids, recently uncovered, that I descended with a special Task Force to investigate. It was there we found the security antechamber to the vault, badly damaged. At the far end of the security office was the wide steel door to the vault, a combination code keypad in the cinderblock wall beside it. But the wall was cracked and partially crumbled, and the door was sprung partially open. So we checked inside with our flashlights. Except for several rows of empty shelves, there was nothing in the vault but dust and debris. It had been emptied. Why was it empty? And when could it have been emptied?
Voltaire Network: Is this what set alarm bells ringing for you?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: Yes, but not immediately. With so much chaos, it was difficult to think. It was only after digesting everything that the “alarm bells” went off. Building Six was evacuated within twelve minutes after the first airplane struck the North Tower. The streets were immediately clogged with fire trucks, police cars and blocked traffic, and the vault was large enough, 15 meters by 15 meters by my estimate, to necessitate at least a big truck to carry out its contents. And after the towers fell and destroyed most of the parking level, a mission to recover the contents of the vault would have been impossible. The vault had to have been emptied before the attack.

I’ve described all of this extensively in my book, and it’s apparent that things of importance were taken out of harm’s way before the attacks. For example, the CIA didn’t seem too concerned about their losses. After the existence of their clandestine office in Building Seven was discovered, an agency spokesman told the newspapers that a special team had been dispatched to scour the rubble in search of secret documents and intelligence reports, though there were millions, if not billions of pages floating in the streets. Nevertheless, the spokesman was confident. “There shouldn’t be too much paper around,” he said.

And Customs at first claimed that everything was destroyed. That the heat was so intense that everything in the evidence safe had been baked to ash. But some months later, they announced that they had broken up a huge Colombian narco-trafficking and money-laundering ring after miraculously recovering crucial evidence from the safe, including surveillance photos and heat-sensitive cassette tapes of monitored calls. And when they moved in to their new building at 1 Penn Plaza in Manhattan, they proudly hung on the lobby wall their Commissioner’s Citation Plaque and their big round US Customs Service ensign, also miraculously recovered, in pristine condition, from their crushed and cremated former office building at the World Trade Center.
Voltaire Network: You weren’t alone on the Ground Zero assignment. Did the others notice the same anomalies? Do you know whether they have they also been harassed?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: Actually there were a few people on two different excursions that I know about. Some of us even discussed it afterwards. They know who they are and I hope that they will come forward, but I’m sure they have strong apprehensions as to what will happen to them if they do. I will leave it to them to decide, but there is strength in numbers.
Voltaire Network: With the publication of your book, you have become a "whistleblower" – yet another step on which there is no going back! There must be many people with inside knowledge about what really happened or did not happen on that fateful day. Yet, hardly any have stepped up to the plate and certainly no one who was directly involved in an official capacity. This is what makes your case so compelling. Judging from your ordeal, it is not difficult to imagine what is holding such people back.
Kurt Sonnenfeld: Actually, there are several other very smart and credible people blowing whistles, too. And they are being discredited and ignored. Some are being harassed and persecuted, as I am. People are gripped by fear. Everybody knows that if you question US authority you will have problems in some way or another. At minimum you will be discredited and dehumanized. Most likely you’ll find yourself indicted for something completely unrelated, like tax evasion — or something even worse, as in my case. Look at what happened to Secret Service whistle-blower Abraham Bolden, for example, or to chess master Bobby Fischer after he showed his disdain for the US. There are countless other examples. In the past I asked friends and associates to speak out for me to counter all the lies being planted in the media, and all of them were terrified as to the ramifications to themselves and their families.
Voltaire Network: To what degree would your discoveries at Ground Zero expose the government’s involvement in those events? Are you familiar with the investigations that have been carried out by numerous scientists and qualified professionals which not only corroborate your own findings but, in some instances, far exceed them? Do you regard such people as "conspiracy nuts"?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: At the highest levels in Washington, DC, someone knew what was going to happen. They wanted a war so badly that they at least let it happen and most likely even helped it happen. Sometimes it seems to me that the “nuts” are those who hold to what they’ve been told with an almost religious fervor despite all of the evidence to the contrary — the ones who won’t even consider that there was a conspiracy. There are so many anomalies to the “official” investigation that you can’t blame it on oversight or incompetence. I am familiar with the scientists and qualified professionals to whom you refer, and their findings are convincing, credible, and presented according to scientific protocol — in stark contrast to the findings of the “official” investigation. In addition, numerous intelligence agents and government officials have now come forward with their very informed opinions that the 911 Commission was a farce at best or a cover-up at worst. My experience at Ground Zero is but one more piece of the puzzle.
Voltaire Network: Those events are nearly 8 years behind us. Do you consider that uncovering the truth about 9/11 continues to be an important objective? Why?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: It is of absolute importance. And it will be equally as important in 10 years, or even 50 years if the truth still has not been exposed. It is an important objective because, at this point in history, many people are too credulous to whatever “authority” tells them and too willing to follow. People in a state of shock seek guidance. People who are afraid are manipulable. And being able to manipulate the masses results in unimaginable benefits to a lot of very rich and very powerful people. War is incredibly expensive, but the money has to go somewhere. War is very profitable for the very few. And somehow their sons always end up in Washington DC, making the decisions and writing the budgets, while the sons of the poor and the poorly-connected always end up on the enemy lines, taking their orders and fighting their battles. The enormous black-budget of the US Department of Defense represents an unlimited money machine for the military-industrial complex, figuring in the multi-trillions of dollars, and it will continue to be so until the masses wake up, recuperate their skepticism and demand accountability. Wars (and false pretexts for war) will not cease until the people realize the true motive of war and stop believing “official” explanations.
Voltaire Network: What is referred to as the 9/11 Truth Movement, has been asking for a new, independent investigation into those events. Do you think that the Obama Administration holds out some hope in this respect?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: I really hope so, but I’m skeptical. Why would the leadership of any established government willingly undertake any action that would result in a serious compromise to their authority? They will prefer to maintain the status quo and leave the things the way they are. The conductor of the train has been changed, but has the train changed its course? I doubt it. The push has to come from the public, not only domestically, but internationally, like your group is doing.
Voltaire Network: A number of human rights and activist groups are supporting your plight, not least Peace Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. How have the Argentinean people in general responded to your situation?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: With an incredible outpouring of support. The military dictatorship is still fresh in the collective memory of most of the people here, along with the knowledge that the dictatorship (along with the other South American dictatorships at the time) was backed by the CIA, directed at the time by George Bush Senior. They remember well the torture centers, the secret prisons, the thousands of people “disappeared” for their opinions, the living in daily fear. They know that the United States today will do the same thing if they consider it beneficial, that they will invade a country to achieve their political and economic interests and then manipulate the media with fabricated “causus belli” to justify their conquests.
Voltaire Network: As we said, deciding to write this book and to go public was a huge step. What pushed you to do it?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: To save my family. And to let the world know that things are not what they seem.
Voltaire Network: Last but not least: what will you do with your tapes?
Kurt Sonnenfeld: I am convinced that my tapes reveal many more anomalies than I am capable of recognizing given my limited qualifications. I will therefore cooperate in any way that I can with serious and reliable experts in a common endeavour to expose the truth.
Voltaire Network: Thank you very much !"

"The Meaning of Life?"

"There is only one meaning of life, the act of living itself."
– Erich Fromm

"I had heard from a high-school student in the midwest who had read my book 'Skeptics and True Believers,' in which, as you may know, I take to task all forms of faith that lack an empirical basis, including astrology and supernaturalist religion. He writes: "Are we just meaningless beasts roaming a meaningless Earth with the sole purpose of popping out babies so we can raise them to live longer, more meaningless lives?"

A good question, the best question.

What we have learned about our place on Earth does indeed suggest that we are beasts, related even in our DNA and molecular chemistry to other animals. And, yes, the driving purpose of all animal life would seem to be "popping out babies." But our uniquely complex human brains allow us to be more than beasts, more than baby-poppers. As far as we know, humans are the most complex thing in the universe, and in our desire to gain reliable knowledge of the universe the universe becomes conscious of itself.

As for myself, I don't need stars or gods to give my life meaning. I work at meaning every day, in the love of family and friends, in caring for my own little pieces of the Earth, in art, in science, and in making myself conscious of the mystery and beauty - and terror - of the cosmos.

"Or is there a possibility that there may be more?" asks my midwestern correspondent. Yes, there is almost certainly more to existence than what we have yet learned. Just think how much more we know than did our pre-scientific ancestors. But that still greater knowledge will have to wait for minds other than my own. My children and grandchildren will know far more than I, and in that growing human storehouse of reliable knowledge I hope they will find some greater measure of meaning.

In the meantime, I attend to the fox that sometimes walks across my windowsill, the morning glory seedlings that reach achingly for the sun, and the moon that hangs like a great milky eye in the sky. Francis Bacon said that what a man would like to be true, he preferentially believes. That's a mistake I try to avoid. I choose instead to believe what my senses tell me to be palpably true."

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Astronomers Karl Gebhardt of The University of Texas at Austin and Jens Thomas of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have used new computer modeling techniques to discover that the black hole at the heart of M87, one the largest nearby giant galaxies, is two to three times more massive than previously thought.
Weighing in at 6.4 billion times the Sun's mass, it is the most massive black hole yet measured with a robust technique, and suggests that the accepted black hole masses in nearby large galaxies may be off by similar amounts. This has consequences for theories of how galaxies form and grow, and might even solve a long-standing astronomical paradox. Gebhardt is presenting these results this week at the 214th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, Calif. They will be published later this summer in 'The Astrophysical Journal,' in a paper by Gebhardt and Thomas.

To try to understand how galaxies form and grow, astronomers start with basic census information about today's galaxies. What are they made of? How big are they? How much do they weigh? Astronomers measure this last category, galaxy mass, by clocking the speed of stars orbiting within the galaxy. Studies of the total mass are important, Thomas said, but "the crucial point is to determine whether the mass is in the black hole, the stars, or the dark halo. You have to run a sophisticated model to be able to discover which is which. The more components you have, the more complicated the model is."

To model M87, Gebhardt and Thomas used one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, the Lonestar system at The University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center. Lonestar is a Dell Linux cluster with 5,840 processing cores and can perform 62 trillion floating-point operations per second. (Today's top-of-the-line laptop computer has two cores and can perform up to 10 billion floating-point operations per second.)

Gebhardt and Jens' model of M87 was more complicated than previous models of the galaxy, because in addition to modeling its stars and black hole, it takes into account the galaxy's "dark halo," a spherical region surrounding a galaxy that extends beyond its main visible structure, containing the galaxy's mysterious "dark matter." "In the past, we have always considered the dark halo to be significant, but we did not have the computing resources to explore it as well," Gebhardt said. "We were only able to use stars and black holes before. Toss in the dark halo, it becomes too computationally expensive. You have to go to supercomputers." The Lonestar result was a mass for M87's black hole several times what previous models have found. "We did not expect it at all," Gebhardt said. He and Jens simply wanted to test their model on "the most important galaxy out there," he said.

Extremely massive and conveniently nearby (in astronomical terms), M87 was one of the first galaxies suggested to harbor a central black hole nearly three decades ago. It also has an active jet shooting light out the galaxy's core as matter swirls closer to the black hole, allowing astronomers to study the process by which black holes attract matter. All of these factors make M87 the "the anchor for supermassive black hole studies," Gebhardt said."

"Banksters: 'The Most Dreadful Evil of Our Times'"

The Bankster Bandits Testifying Before Congress
“From greed arises mutual distrust, that casts a blight on all human dealings; from greed arises hateful envy which makes a man consider the advantages of another as losses to himself; from greed arises narrow individualism which orders and subordinates everything to its own advantage without taking account of others, on the contrary cruelly trampling underfoot all rights of others. Hence the disorder and inequality from which arises the accumulation of the wealth of nations in the hands of a small group of individuals who manipulate the market of the world at their own caprice, to the immense harm of the masses. Profiting by so much economic distress and so much moral disorder, the enemies of all social order, be they called Capitalists, or any other name, boldly set about breaking through every restraint. This is the most dreadful evil of our times, for they destroy every bond of law, human or divine...
- Pope Pius XI

The Daily "Near You?"

Sumida, Tokyo, Japan. Thanks for stopping by.

The Economy: "Bilge Pumps Running Out of Fuel"

“When the current market bounce is exhausted, the Primary Bear Trend is more likely than not to resume with a vengeance – given that it will be patently obvious to a blind man that the authorities will have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the economic downturn; and failed to arrest it.” ( )
Click image for larger size.

The chart above (courtesy reflects two patterns which, when read together, indicate that the Bear Market Bounce might be drawing to a close.

1. The three rising trend lines in the price section of the chart reflect what is known as a “fan formation” and yesterday’s closing price for the DJI Index penetrated the third fan line on the downside. This is bearish.
2. From the middle of March 2009, even though the index was rising in price, the accompanying volume was steadily falling – indicating that it has been more an absence of selling pressure than a presence of buying pressure which has given rise to the rising DJI Index. This is also bearish. Given that the On Balance Volume Chart has not yet given a sell signal it cannot be definitively stated that the Bear Market bounce is about to reverse. However, the evidence suggests that it is probably drawing to a close.

In looking back to the time when the financial Titanic collided with the sub-prime iceberg, it was a matter of pragmatism that the authorities should have been more concerned with keeping the financial ship afloat than in indentifying and addressing the reasons why the collision occurred in the first place. In this context, the authorities’ focus on bailing out the banks and financial institutions was the logical top priority at that time i.e. It was a “necessary evil”.

However, as this analyst has opined on many occasions, the core issue revolves around a lack of understanding on the part of our political and financial authorities regarding what constitutes wealth creation activity. Perhaps one should be less circumloquatious and less charitable about what is really happening. Our political and financial leaders are men and women who are possessed an above average level of intelligence and the probability is high that they absolutely do understand what constitutes wealth creation activity. From their perspective, the question is whether or not a focus on wealth creation activities will get the politicians re-elected and/or will increase the profitability of the financial institutions in the short term (next bonus year)? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding “no”. Seeding wealth creation activities is like planting acorns. Those who plant the acorns typically don’t get to sit under the shade of the oak trees. Ultimately, that’s why the authorities have been dragging their heels. There’s no skin in that game for them personally.

Unfortunately, by throwing money – indiscriminately – at “shovel ready” projects to create job opportunities, and by handing out billions of dollars of tax refund gifts to consumers, all that the authorities achieved was that they pumped the gushing water out of the ship’s flooding hold. Unfortunately, this action did nothing to patch the hole in the ship’s hull or to strengthen the hull itself.

Now the authorities have nowhere to turn. The bilge pumps are running out of fuel and the water is about to start gushing back into the ship’s sodden hull. Unfortunately, the US has used up the goodwill of its creditors and cannot continue to fund the politically motivated gestures of economic largesse which turned out to be nothing more than fingers in the dyke. All this talk of “green shoots” was pure garbage. For example, it takes between 3-5 years for the green shoot of an olive tree to grow to become fruit bearing. In simple English, green shoots take time to mature.

The reality is that, now, if the authorities continue to print money, the US Dollar will tank and there will likely be a rapid escalation of “cost push” inflation within the USA’s borders. Importantly, it needs to be recognized that cost push inflation is very different from “demand pull” inflation. With unemployment in the USA trending towards 11%, and with wages lagging price inflation, demand is unlikely to hold up. This will have seriously deleterious consequences to the economies of those countries which export to the USA and which rely on these exports for their own economic momentum."

Anne Louise Germaine de Stael

"The search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man;
its publication is a duty."
- Anne Louise Germaine de Stael - (1766-1817) French author

"What Is the Financial Stability Board?"

"Buried on page 83 of the 89-page Report on Financial Regulatory Reform issued by the U.S. Administration on June 17 is a recommendation that the new Financial Stability Board strengthen and institutionalize its mandate to promote global financial stability. Financial stability is a worthy goal, but the devil is in the details. The new global Big Brother is based in the Bank for International Settlements, a controversial institution that raises red flags among the wary . . .

“Big Brother” is the term used by George Orwell in his classic novel 1984 for the totalitarian state that would lock into place in the year of his title. Why he chose that particular year is unclear, but one theory is that he was echoing Jack London’s 'The Iron Heel,' which chronicled the rise of an oligarchic tyranny in the United States. In London’s book, the oligarchy’s fictional wonder-city, fueled by oppressed workers, was to be completed by '1984.' Orwell also echoed London’s imagery when he described the future under Big Brother as “a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

In 'Secret Records Revealed: The Men, the Money, and the Methods Behind the New World Order'(1999), Dr. Dennis Cuddy asked:“Could the ‘boot’ be the new eighteen-story Bank for International Settlements (BIS) which was completed in Basel, Switzerland, in 1977 in the shape of a boot, and became known as the‘Tower of Basel’?”The boot-like shape of the building is strange enough to be thought-provoking (see photo), but more disturbing is the description by Dr. Carroll Quigley of the pivotal role assigned to the BIS in consolidating financial power into a few private hands. Professor Quigley, who was Bill Clinton’s mentor at Georgetown University, claimed to be an insider and evidently knew his subject. He wrote in 'Tragedy and Hope '(1966):“ The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.”

That helps explain the alarm bells that went off among BIS-watchers when the Bank was linked to the new Financial Stability Board (FSB) President Obama signed onto in April. When the G20 leaders met in London on April 2, 2009, they agreed to expand the powers of the old Financial Stability Forum (FSF) into this new Board. The FSF was set up in 1999 to serve in a merely advisory capacity by the G7 (a group of finance ministers formed from the seven major industrialized nations). The chair of the FSF was the General Manager of the BIS. The new FSB has been expanded to include all G20 members (19 nations plus the EU). The G20, formally called the “Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors,” was, like the G7, originally set up as a forum merely for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. But its new Financial Stability Board has real teeth, imposing “obligations” and “commitments” on its members.

The Shadowy Financial Stability Board: The Report on Financial Regulatory Reform issued by the Obama Administration on June 17 includes a recommendation that the FSB “strengthen” and “institutionalize” its mandate. What is the FSB’s mandate, what are its expanded powers, and who is in charge? An article in The London Guardian addresses those issues in question and answer format: “Who runs the regulator? The Financial Stability Forum is chaired by Mario Draghi, governor of the Bank of Italy. The secretariat is based at the Bank for International Settlements’ headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.”

Draghi was director general of the Italian treasury from 1991 to 2001, where he was responsible for widespread privatization (sell-off of government holdings to private investors). From January 2002 to January 2006, however, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street, another controversial player. As already noted, “basing” the FSB at the BIS is not a comforting sign, considering the dark and controversial history of the BIS. Dr. Cuddy, writing in 1999, quoted media sources describing the BIS and its behind-the-scenes leaders as “this economic cabal . . . this secretive group . . . the financial barons who control the world’s supply of money” (Washington Post, June 28, 1998); “some of the world’s most powerful and least visible men . . . officials able to shift billions of dollars and alter the course of economies at the stroke of a pen” (New York Times, August 5, 1995); men who can “move huge amounts of money into and out of markets in a nanosecond” and “topple politicians with the click of a mouse” (ABC’s “Nightline,” July 1, 1998).

“What will the new regulator do? The regulator will monitor potential risks to the economy . . . It will cooperate with the IMF, the Washington-based body that monitors countries’ financial health, lending funds if needed. . . ” The IMF is an international banking organization that is also controversial. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist for the World Bank, charges it with ensnaring Third World countries in a debt trap from which they cannot escape. Debtors unable to pay are bound by “conditionalities” that include a forced sell-off of national assets to private investors in order to service their loans. “What will the regulator oversee? All ‘systemically important’ financial institutions, instruments and markets.” The term “systemically important” is not defined. Will it include such systemically important institutions as national treasuries, and such systemically important markets as gold, oil and food? “How will it work? The body will establish a supervisory college to monitor each of the largest international financial services firms. . . It will act as a clearing house for information-sharing and contingency planning for the benefit of its members.”

In some contexts, information-sharing is called illegal collusion. Would the information-sharing here include such things as secret agreements among central banks to buy or sell particular currencies, with the concomitant power to support or collapse targeted local economies? Consider the short-selling of the Mexican peso by collusive action in 1995, the short-selling of Southeast Asian currencies in 1998, and the collusion among central banks to support the U.S. dollar in July of last year – good for the dollar and the big players with inside information perhaps, but not so good for the small investors who reasonably bet on “market forces,” bought gold or foreign currencies, and lost their shirts. “What will the new regulator do about debt and loans? To prevent another debt bubble, the new body will recommend financial companies maintain provisions against credit losses and may impose constraints on borrowing.”

What sort of constraints? The Basel Accords imposed by the BIS have not generally worked out well. The first Basel Accord, issued in 1998, was blamed for inducing a depression in Japan from which that country has yet to recover; and the Second Basel Accord and its associated mark-to-market rule have been blamed for bringing on the current credit crisis, from which the U.S. and the world have yet to recover. These charges have been explored at length elsewhere. The suspicious might see these failures as intentional. The warnings come to mind of Congressman Louis MacFadden, head of the House Banking and Currency Committee during the Great Depression: “It was a carefully contrived occurrence. International bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair, so that they might emerge the rulers of us all.” David Rockefeller, a key player in international finance, echoed this thinking in 1994, when he said at a UN dinner, “We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.”

The wary might wonder if that is how the mighty United States is to be brought under the heel of Big Brother at last. For three centuries, private international banking interests have brought governments in line by blocking them from issuing their own currencies and requiring them to borrow banker-issued “banknotes” instead. “Allow me to issue and control a nation’s currency,” Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild famously said in 1791, “and I care not who makes its laws.” The real rebellion of the American colonists in 1776, according to Benjamin Franklin, was against a foreign master who forbade the colonists from issuing their own money and required that taxes be paid in gold. The colonists, not having gold, had to borrow gold-backed banknotes from the British bankers. The catch was that the notes were created on the “fractional reserve” system, allowing the bankers to issue up to ten times as many notes as they actually had gold, essentially creating them out of thin air just as the colonists were doing. The result was not only to lock the colonists into debt to foreign bankers but to propel the nation into a crippling depression. The colonists finally rebelled and reverted to issuing their own currency. Funding a revolution against a major world power with money they printed themselves, they succeeded in defeating their oppressors and winning their independence.

Political colonialism is now a thing of the past, but under the new FSB guidelines, nations can still be held in feudalistic subservience to foreign masters. Consider this scenario: XYZ country, which has been getting along very well financially, discloses that its national currency is being printed by the government directly. The FSB determines that this practice represents an impermissible “merging of the public and private sectors” and is an unsound banking practice forbidden under the “12 Key International Standards and Codes.” Banker-created national currency is declared to be the standard “good practice” all governments must follow. XYZ is compelled to abandon the “anachronistic” notion that creating its own national currency is a proper “function of government.” It must now borrow from the international bankers, trapping it in the bankers’ compound-interest debt web.

Consider another scenario: Like in the American colonies, the new FSB rules precipitate a global depression the likes of which have never before been seen. XYZ country wakes up to the fact that all of this is unnecessary – that it could be creating its own money, freeing itself from the debt trap, rather than borrowing from bankers who create money on computer screens and charge interest for the privilege of borrowing it. But this realization comes too late: the boot descends and XYZ is crushed into line. National sovereignty has been abdicated to a private committee, with no say by the voters.

Suspicious observers might say that this is how you pull off a private global dictatorship: (1) create a global crisis; (2) appoint an “advisory body” to retain and maintain “stability”; and then (3) “formalize” the advisory body as global regulator. By the time the people wake up to what has happened, it’s too late. Marilyn Barnewall, who was dubbed by Forbes Magazine the “dean of American private banking,” writes in an April 2009 article titled “What Happened to American Sovereignty at G-20?”: “It seems the world’s bankers have executed a bloodless coup and now represent all of the people in the world. . . . President Obama agreed at the G20 meeting in London to create an international board with authority to intervene in U.S. corporations by dictating executive compensation and approving or disapproving business management decisions. Under the new Financial Stability Board, the United States has only one vote. In other words, the group will be largely controlled by European central bankers. My guess is, they will represent themselves, not you and not me and certainly not America.”

A bloodless coup . . . Again one is reminded of the admissions of David Rockefeller, who wrote in his 'Memoirs' (Random House 2002): “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”


"The problem with this world isn't so much that we don't know what is true, for it is not the truth itself which sets you free. It is the ability to discover what is the truth that makes us free."
- Anonymous

Anthony De Mello, "On Waking Up"

"Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know ~ all mystics ~ Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion ~ are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Thought everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.

Last year on Spanish television I heard a story about this gentleman who knocks on his son’s door. "Jaime," he says, "wake up!" Jaime answers, "I don’t want to get up, Papa." The father shouts, "Get up, you have to go to school." Jaime says, "I don’t want to go to school." "Why not?" asks the father. "Three reasons," says Jaime. First, because it’s so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school. And the father says, "Well, I am going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster." Wake up! Wake up! You’ve grown up. You’re too big to be asleep. Wake up! Stop playing with your toys.

Most people tell you they want to get out of kindergarten, but don’t believe them. Don’t believe them! All they want you to do is to mend their broken toys. "Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success." This is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That’s all. Even the best psychologist will tell you that, that people don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.

Waking up is unpleasant, you know. You are nice and comfortable in bed. It is irritating to be woken up. That’s the reason the wise guru will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I’m going to be wise here and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It is really none of my business, even though I say to you at times, "Wake up!" My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you profit from it fine; if you don’t, too bad! As the Arabs say, "The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens."

- Anthony De Mello, "On Waking Up"

Clint Eastwood

"How It Really Is"

Gretchen Rubin, "The Happiness Project"

Tired of reading all the bad news? Need a refreshing change of pace, or just a pleasant break away from it all? Check out this site, you'll be glad you did.

"Every Wednesday is Tip Day. This Wednesday: 'Secrets of Adulthood.' What have I learned, with time and experience? Not much, I fear. Here are my Secrets of Adulthood. Although these items may not seem particularly profound, each one was a revelation when I finally figured it out:

The days are long, but the years are short.
Someplace, keep an empty shelf.
Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
It's okay to ask for help.
You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you LIKE to do.
Happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.
What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE.
You don't have to be good at everything.
Soap and water removes most stains.
It's important to be nice to EVERYONE.
You know as much as most people.
Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.
Eat better, eat less, exercise more.
What's fun for other people may not be fun for you - and vice versa.
People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.
Houseplants and photo albums are a lot of trouble.
If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough.
No deposit, no return."

About the Author: "I'm Gretchen Rubin. I started out as a lawyer. At Yale Law School, I was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and won a writing prize. I went on to clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. I had a great experience in law, but I realized that what I really wanted to do was to write. Since making the switch, I’ve published four books. I’m currently working on 'The Happiness Project.' Raised in Kansas City, I now live in New York City with my husband and two young daughters. My only hobbies are reading and writing—and helping other people clean out their closets. I’m left-handed, terrible at sports, tone-deaf, a constant hair-twister, and afraid to drive. I talk to my parents and my sister all the time, and I live around the corner from my in-laws.

I'm working on a book, 'The Happiness Project' -a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. It will hit the shelves in January 2010 (Harper). 'The Happiness Project' will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier." - Gretchen Rubin

"Citizen Investigation Team Report, 9/11 Pentagon Attack"

"In 2006 Citizen Investigation Team launched an independent investigation into the act of terrorism which took place at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. This exhaustive three-year inquest involved multiple trips to the scene of the crime in Arlington, Virginia, close scrutiny of all official and unofficial data related to the event, and, most importantly, first-person interviews with dozens of eyewitnesses, many of which were conducted and filmed in the exact locations from which they witnessed the plane that allegedly struck the building that day.

"Be forewarned: Our findings are extraordinarily shocking and frightening. They are also deadly serious, and deserving of your immediate attention. This is not about a conspiracy theory or any theory at all. This is about independent, verifiable evidence which unfortunately happens to conclusively establish as a historical fact that the violence which took place in Arlington that day was not the result of a surprise attack by suicide hijackers, but rather a false flag "black operation" involving a carefully planned and skillfully executed deception.

If you are skeptical of (or even incensed by) this statement we do not blame you. We are not asking you to take our word for it, nor do we want you to do that. We want you to view the evidence and see with your own eyes that this is the case. We want you to hear it directly from the eyewitnesses who were there, just as we did.

Please understand that this information is not being brought to your attention simply for educational purposes. It is presented within the context of a “call to action” accompanied by a detailed step-by-step strategy intended to inspire and empower you to do something about it. But first, please familiarize yourself with the evidence by viewing and paying close attention to the 81-minute video presentation, 'National Security Alert.'"

Gary Zukav

"Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality."
- Gary Zukav