Sunday, October 31, 2010

"A Look to the Heavens"

"NGC 6188 is an interstellar carnival of young blue stars, hot red gas, and cool dark dust. Located 4,000 light years away in the disk of our Galaxy, NGC 6188 is home to the Ara OB1 association, a group of bright young stars whose nucleus forms the open cluster NGC 6193. These stars are so bright that some of their blue light reflects off of interstellar dust forming the diffuse blue glow surrounding the stars in the above photograph. 
Click image for larger size.

Open cluster NGC 6193 formed about three million years ago from the surrounding gas, and appears unusually rich in close binary stars. The red glow visible throughout the photograph arises from hydrogen gas heated by the bright stars in Ara OB1. The dark dust that blocks much of NGC 6188's light was likely formed in the outer atmospheres of cooler stars and in supernovae ejecta."

"Oct. 30, 1938: ‘War of the Worlds’ Induces Panic"

 "Oct. 30, 1938: ‘War of the Worlds’ Induces Panic"
By Jenna Wortham

"Long before Ashton Kutcher began punking celebrities, a talented young actor with a wicked sense of humor pulled off one of the biggest pranks in American history. Oct. 30, 2008, marked the 70th anniversary of Orson Welles’ legendary radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds," which sparked a nationwide panic, causing many Americans to believe an actual Martian invasion was under way.

Directed and narrated by Welles, the hour-long broadcast aired Oct. 30, 1938, as a Halloween-themed episode of CBS’ radio series, Mercury Theatre on the Air. The performance was an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds, and was delivered in such a ways as to simulate a live news report of a Martian invasion. The faux newscast (audio embedded below) included accounts of a meteorite landing in New Jersey, followed by descriptions of tentacled aliens emerging from spaceships, brandishing and firing weapons at humans. The broadcast caused some people to flee their homes, and telephone lines flooded with listeners trying to determine the validity of the Martian invasion. The spectacle catapulted Welles to instant fame (and perhaps some notoriety) and is considered to have established modern radio as an artistic medium.

To commemorate the historic broadcast, students at Ball State University planned a re-creation of it Oct. 30, 2008, on Indiana Public Radio — but with a clearly stated preamble designed to prevent the kind of chaos that erupted long ago. The original, uninterrupted broadcast is available in its entirety online here:"

The Internet: "Methods to Block Nosy Web Advertisers"

 "Methods to Block Nosy Web Advertisers"
By Mike Swift

"Virtually everything you do online is scrutinized by search engines and advertising networks that evaluate you as a potential customer based on what you search for, the sites you visit and the ads you see - whether you click on those ads or not. "It's as though every time you pick up a magazine or a book or you browse a storefront, you might be reading the magazine, but it's reading you back, and the ads in the magazine are reading you," said Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization that monitors the online world.

Marketers argue that "behavioral advertising" - which serves up ads based on a person's browsing history and demographics - is good because it produces ads that fit a person's interests. But privacy advocates like Eckersley say the "ubiquitous surveillance" violates "a fundamental civil liberty" - the right to read in private. Another threat, he said, is that someone else could get hold of your data.

So if everything on the Web has eyes, how do you draw the shades? Many relatively simple tools, including a suite of privacy tools offered by Google, industry groups like the Network Advertising Initiative and privacy groups like the EFF allow anyone to protect the privacy of a search, to see who is tracking your online browsing, and even to block that tracking.

I recently did an experiment where I instructed my browser to send me a message each time a website tried to set a "cookie" - cookies are small files stored in your browser when you visit many websites, which can record your site preferences and profile information for advertisers. Within five minutes I turned the alert off; the flood of messages was overwhelming.

The Network Advertising Initiative has a site that shows you which ad networks have cookies on your browser, and lets you opt out of being tracked, although Eckersley said there are better opt-out tools to use. In my case, of roughly 60 ad networks listed on the site, all but 14 had a tracking cookie on my browser. Looking under the hood of my browser, I could see that everyone from home maven Martha Stewart to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was essentially peering over my shoulder in my cubicle. But there are ways to maintain your online privacy.

Google's Ads Preferences Manager allows anyone to see the interest profile created from their search and browsing history, and to block Google's tracking if they chose. A good way to access the site is through Google's Privacy Center, where the Internet search giant lists its privacy tools. Go to, then click "Ads Preferences Manager." (While in Privacy Center, also check out Google Dashboard, where you can set the privacy settings of any Google service you use.)

Ads Preferences Manager offers a button that disables the cookie Google uses to track people's browsing history. But Jonathan McPhie, a Google product manager in charge of several of the company's privacy tools, said six of every seven people who visit the site have left their Google cookie in place. "The importance of offering a tool like this is not to see how many people opt out, but to see how many people we can arm with knowledge," McPhie said. "If I know I can opt out, I might feel more comfortable about being tracked."

The site allows users to choose additional interests, from autos to yoga, if they want to see those ads. Google, McPhie said, does not classify people by certain sensitive interest groups, including religion, sexual orientation, health status, political preference and adult content. Google explains behavioral tracking - Google calls it "interest-based advertising" here.

Google and Electronic Frontier Foundation also offer tools that allow you to encrypt any Google search so no third party can monitor the terms you are searching for. Electronic Frontier Foundation offers free software called "HTTPS Everywhere" that allows people using Mozilla's Firefox browser to encrypt communications with a number of major websites, including Google search, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, most of, and the websites of The New York Times and Washington Post.  Eckersley said the main purpose is to block eavesdropping by governments, hackers or anyone trying to listen in on your home Wi-Fi. In some cases, Eckersley said, encryption may also interfere with tracking by advertisers. Download at

Google also now offers encrypted search at The encryption means the search terms a person enters can't be read by third parties trying to access the connection between a searcher's computer and Google's servers. Once you go to another website, however, you're fair game for tracking.

Another way to limit tracking cookies is to use a privacy mode in your browser called "InPrivate" in Microsoft's Internet Explorer; "Incognito" in Google's Chrome browser and "Private Browsing" in Firefox. In those modes, none of the browsers retain a record of websites visited after a session, nor do they permanently store cookies or temporary Internet files. In Chrome, users can access Incognito mode by clicking on the wrench icon in the toolbar and choosing "New incognito window." In Firefox and IE, click "Tools" and look for the "private browsing" choice. There are limits to the protection, however. Your computer won't have a record of your browsing history, but your Internet service provider or employer could still track the pages you visit.

It's also possible to change the settings in your browser to block tracking cookies all the time. Many "first-party" cookies, such as the one that allows your bank to recognize it's you each time you log on to check your balances, are desirable. It's "third-party cookies," those digital tags placed by ad networks when you visit other websites, that track your movements. Eckersley says he blocks third-party cookies, but the downside is that some major websites don't work properly with cookies disabled.

If you want to give it a try, blocking all third-party cookies takes a few more steps. In the Chrome browser, for example, you click the wrench icon on the toolbar, choose "Options," and pick the tab labeled "Under the Hood." Now click the "Content Settings" button, click "cookies" and click the box labeled, "Block all third-party cookies without exception."

Arthur Gordon

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you’ll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."
- Arthur Gordon

Guy McPherson, "Empire of Lies"

 "Empire of Lies"
by Guy McPherson

"Benny and the Inkjets are tossing the money around, but it didn’t pump up the industrial economy the last time and QE2 will be no better, even if the next version is expectedly gihugic. He’s destroying the dollar in the process of printing fiat currency, but he cannot keep up with the ongoing economic contraction. Fiat currency is rapidly turning into compost. Call it Screwflation Nation, for short, and it’s an approach that might lead to a new American Revolution, one that has been criticized even by Peter Orszag, Obama’s former economic adviser. Even McDonald’s is raising prices, for the first time in two decades. And, although government statistics indicate prices are declining, the numbers based on things we actually buy suggest otherwise.

This essay will not go down the rabbit hole of inflation vs. deflation, preferring instead to use the simple, technically incorrect, but well-understood route of equating increasing prices with inflation. The academic ground of inflation vs. deflation has been worked to death with little understanding. If you want to pursue that topic, I encourage you to check in with Mish Shedlock, Nicole Foss, John Embry, Peter Schiff, and Gonzalo Lira (Lira believes hyperinflation has already been triggered). Rather than chase the tail of terminology, I’ll simply assume that when average folks can no longer afford food and water, economic collapse has occurred. At that point, we needn’t worry about the terms of the debate.

The U.S. industrial economy still faces strong headwinds from the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse: energy, employment, credit, and housing. Ultimately, the U.S. gets to choose from few remaining options. They all spell the end of American Empire: default or hyperinflation seem likely, along with extreme deflation. And although we’re already there, these 23 latter-day doomsayers figured out we’ll be in an economic depression next year.

The oil crunch has arrived, despite OPEC’s lies, and the oil squeeze is running the show. Oil prices are headed up on the perception of global economic growth, according to JP Morgan and a report prepared for the New Zealand Parliament. Even the International Energy Agency questions whether reserves will fill the gap between supply and demand. They’ve never been so circumspect. Similarly, the United States Geological Survey has infused reality into its estimates by reducing Alaska’s reserves by 90%. Meanwhile, the U.S. military — charged with making sure U.S. consumers have enough crude oil to keep the Hummers running — is feeling the squeeze.

Never mind that we’re still in an economic depression, according unemployment numbers and other metrics of macroeconomic reality. The United States, and indeed the OECD, is no longer driving the world’s economic bus. And, of course, the entire field of economics is a sham built on a foundation of incorrect assumptions, lies, and misinformation. To call economics the dismal science is to denigrate all legitimate sciences while smearing the word “dismal.”

Is France foreshadowing the rest of the developed world? Will protests in France make it across the pond? Personally, I doubt Americans can be bothered to turn off the television long enough to notice the lies in which they are immersed. But I’ve been wrong a few million times before.

The only question of economic significance at this point is which event puts the stake in the heart of the industrial economy. At this point, a single tremor, an inopportune echo, an unexpected shift in the winds, and the entire icy edifice will come down like an avalanche. Will the derivatives explode? They’re still out there, and the exposure of JP Morgan alone exceeds global GDP. Or maybe somebody will notice the actual U.S. government debt, which is beyond belief, much less payment. Perhaps the big bank death spiral will get it done. Maybe the ongoing, ever-growing foreclosure crisis will bring it all down. The natives are growing restless about that issue. Perhaps a Keynesian liquidity trap will do the trick — and, by the way, we’re already in that trap, and there’s no way out. Under this scenario, the monetary authority (in our case, the Fed) loses control because long-term interest rates are very low (we’re stuck at zero for the Fed’s foreseeable future, and even the Fed acknowledges they’ve lost control when — in an act of treason — they defer decisions on monetary policy to banks).

Although Benny Bucks have levitated the stock markets so far, the impending collapse of those markets, as foretold by insider trading at a sell to buy ratio of 3177 to 1, might be sufficient to terminate the industrial economy. Most stock trades are done robotically, so don’t think stock prices have anything to do with the worth of a company or that the time-tested buy-and-hold strategy is a safe bet. In fact, regular people have already fled the stock markets because the markets no longer reflect economic reality (although, unlike conspiracy theorists such as Charles Hugh Smith, I don’t believe stock-market movements are engineered). There’s good news elsewhere, too: We’re blowing bubbles faster than an eight-year-old with a fresh pack of Hubba Bubba, as even historians can see, and the collapse of any of those bubbles could sink the imperial ship. Bonds, anyone? There’s a fiscal train wreck on the way in the bond market. Indeed, Ben Bernanke is acting like a possessed zombie intent on destroying the U.S. economy all by himself, through hyperinflation if necessary. Ben, your not alone: I’m here to help.

Non-economic phenomena could bring civilization to its knees, too. Most obviously, the ongoing environmental collapse, including profound rates of extinction, could take us with the rest of the living planet. But an overdue electromagnetic pulse from a solar flare — or a nuclear device — could terminate many of the world’s electronic infrastructure instantly. A sufficiently sophisticated Stuxnet-style cyber-attack could do some serious damage, too. On the other hand, civilization could simply starve itself to death.

If the end of American Empire is the silver lining, then continuation of the empire represents the blackest cloud in world history. If Americans would get off their collective lazy asses, they might start a civil war. That’s a big if, and I’m not willing to bet on it. Additional imperial news includes war crimes perpetrated by U.S. soldiers and the abject shaming of this country by our naked aggression throughout the world. And then covering up the whole stinking mess, just as the oligarch’s presidential administration continues to cover up the environmental effects of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But those problems are about to take care of themselves in the undertow of economic collapse. And even the silver lining bears its own bad news: Peak oil spells peak human population.

Empires are not benevolent. This world has never had a larger, more effective empire than the current one. If you’re cheering for continuation of the age of industry in an overshot world, you’re cheering for more torture, more human suffering, and more human deaths. Needless to say, we’re on opposite sides of this issue.

And if you’re living that comfortable life in the city, regardless how much you recycle, bicycle to work, and tithe at the altar, you still haven’t figured out the immorality of imperial living. Cities are the nadir of civilization, and they have an increasingly short and burning fuse. Furthermore, nothing about our survival as a species matters if we keep adhering to an irredeemable set of living arrangements, even if your city has “walkable” neighborhoods. Who wants to live as if life has no merit?"

The Daily "Near You?"

Homestead, Florida, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Chris Floyd, "Cargo Cult: Questions on the Latest Terrorist Threat"

"Cargo Cult: 
Questions on the Latest Terrorist Threat"
 by Chris Floyd

"First we were told that the recently intercepted package bombs sent, we are told, from Yemen, were targeted at synagogues in Chicago. Now we are being told that they were intended to blow up the cargo planes themselves. We are also told that the bombs' design shows the mark of a "highly sophisticated" operation by extremist Islamists, most likely al Qaeda.

All of which prompts one question. If you were indeed a "highly sophisticated" Islamist extremist operation wishing to blow up cargo planes bound for the United States with package bombs, would you really a) mail those bombs from Yemen, a country currently under intense counterterrorism scrunity by the United States, and b) address these packages, from Yemen, to Jewish institutions -- in Barack Obama's home city?

Either a) or b) alone would be enough to set alarm bells clanging all through the thick mesh of security systems that now overlay modern life. Put them together, and what you have is either a) the mark of a very unsophisticated, cack-handed, two-bit operation whose sporadic and isolated threats hardly justify a world-wide, never-ending, mass-killing, liberty-gutting, multi-trilliondollar war, or b) the mark of a highly sophisticated organization that wished to ensure maximum publicity for this attempted terrorist attack -- and even more publicity for its heroic thwarting ... especially on the eve of a national election, and after weeks of leaks and bad press about atrocities and corruption that call the whole Terror War ethos into question.

Points perhaps worth pondering in the coming weeks as we watch the ever-more profitable security mesh seize on this incident to call for ever-greater funding, and ever-greater measures of control over our lives."

"Workers of the World, Watch Out!"

 "Workers of the World, Watch Out!"
By T. M. Shine

Lantana, Fla. "I Usually run errands in the afternoon, but one morning last week I was restless and had a craving for Apple Jacks. So I hopped on my bicycle and headed toward the convenience store. For the first few blocks I zigzagged along, enjoying the quiet roads of my sleepy neighborhood. But as I approached the first big intersection, I realized something strange was going on. Cars were jockeying for position, horns blaring; the nose of an Audi came dangerously close to striking my rear tire. The light went red, my feet touched down to stop and steady myself, and as I gazed at the traffic backing up in both directions, I asked myself, “Where on earth are all these people going?”

Then it dawned on me... work. Yes, it’s been that long since I was one of them- 432 days to be exact. I’d forgotten about commuter traffic. And that morning, a second epiphany followed the first: I hate people with jobs. I’m writing to announce that I’ve officially gone beyond the usual job-loss spectrum of denial to acceptance. I’ve hit a more obscure step, No. 8 or 9, in which you to come to grips with the fact that you can’t stand anybody who is employed.

Employed people, with their benefits and direct deposits, seem so smug to me now- bills paid up, money for weekend getaways and nights at the movies. “You didn’t see ‘The Town’ yet?” employed people keep asking me. No, I have no money. I haven’t seen “The Town.” (I have, however, seen “The Great Buck Howard” nine times on Showtime, but no one wants to talk about what a treasure John Malkovich is anymore.)

The problem, I find, is no longer my unemployment. It’s the people with employment- rushing past me on the sidewalk, ties in the wind-  who are killing my spirit. I want to start tripping them as they race by, maybe throw an iced coffee in a few of their “out-of-my-way-I’ve-got-to-get-to-my-next-appointment” faces.

I wasn’t always like this. In the beginning, it didn’t seem so bad being unemployed, at least not at this time in history, when so many others are in the same predicament. At first, maybe I was even a little relieved by the rising unemployment rates — 10 percent, 12 percent, even 20 percent in some devastated areas. You see, I’m the kind of guy who never feared the Apocalypse or a nuclear holocaust because I sort of liked the idea of us all going down together. I don’t so much mind being turned into a burning ember or a nuclear shadow on a concrete wall as long as it’s happening to everyone else. It’s when I’m a shadow on a concrete wall and everyone else is going on a picnic with toasty Quiznos sandwiches that I get upset.

Other things have changed, too. There was a period when I really missed work. One night about six months ago, I went back to the office building where I used to work. I just wanted to be there. I couldn’t go inside (my security code no longer worked), so I climbed a utility ladder attached to the side of the building and strolled along the rooftop until I was standing somewhere above my old desk. I missed it all so much. I missed procrastinating and stealing office supplies. I missed the one co-worker who thought I was funny and, even more so, the one who thought I was attractive. I even missed the guy who used to describe everything as “awesome.”

But that’s all over now. At this point, just walking past the employed on a smoke break is enough to set me off. I try to cover my ears, but I can’t help hearing some guy talk about how he’s going to get the pretty girl in the office to go have Thai food with him, or another guy rehearse the joke he’s cooked up for the afternoon meeting, and then I can’t help wanting to go up to them to say that the pretty girl will go eat Thai with anyone, and that meeting laughs are the easiest laughs in the world.

And the thing of it is, I don’t think I’m part of some lunatic fringe. I am nothing if not representative of the average unemployed worker in America; there are millions of us, and surely others have reached this phase as well. To be honest, dear reader, my main reason for writing this is to warn you. If you’re ever rushing to a business meeting down a crowded street and you suddenly fall flat on your face, as if somebody tripped you from behind, know this: Somebody did."

“The Founding Fathers' Vision of Prosperity Has Been Destroyed”

“The Founding Fathers' Vision of Prosperity
Has Been Destroyed”
by George Washington

“The Founding Fathers not only fought for liberty and justice, they also fought for a sound economy and freedom from the tyranny of big banks: Benjamin Franklin: "It was the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament which has caused in the colonies hatred of the English and the Revolutionary War."

John Adams: "There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt."

Thomas Jefferson: “If the American people ever allow the banks to control issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers occupied.”

Thomas Jefferson: "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies...The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the Government, to whom it properly belongs."

“The Founding Fathers of this great land had no difficulty whatsoever understanding the agenda of bankers, and they frequently referred to them and their kind as, quote, ‘friends of paper money. They hated the Bank of England, in particular, and felt that even were we successful in winning our independence from England and King George, we could never truly be a nation of freemen, unless we had an honest money system. ” - Peter Kershaw, author of the 1994 booklet “Economic Solutions”

As I noted last year: “Everyone knows that the American colonists revolted largely because of taxation without representation and related forms of oppression by the British. But - according to Benjamin Franklin and others in the thick of the action - a little-known factor was actually the main reason for the revolution.”

To give some background on the issue, when Benjamin Franklin went to London in 1764, this is what he observed: “When he arrived, he was surprised to find rampant unemployment and poverty among the British working classes. Franklin was then asked how the American colonies managed to collect enough money to support their poor houses. He reportedly replied: “We have no poor houses in the Colonies; and if we had some, there would be nobody to put in them, since there is, in the Colonies, not a single unemployed person, neither beggars nor tramps.”

In 1764, the Bank of England used its influence on Parliament to get a Currency Act passed that made it illegal for any of the colonies to print their own money. The colonists were forced to pay all future taxes to Britain in silver or gold. Anyone lacking in those precious metals had to borrow them at interest from the banks. Only a year later, Franklin said, the streets of the colonies were filled with unemployed beggars, just as they were in England. The money supply had suddenly been reduced by half, leaving insufficient funds to pay for the goods and services these workers could have provided. He maintained that it was "the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament which has caused in the colonies hatred of the English and the Revolutionary War." This, he said, was the real reason for the Revolution: "the colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction."

Alexander Hamilton echoed similar sentiments: “Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first treasury secretary, said that paper money had composed three-fourths of the total money supply before the American Revolution. When the colonists could not issue their own currency, the money supply had suddenly shrunk, leaving widespread unemployment, hunger and poverty in its wake. Unlike the Great Depression of the 1930s, people in the 1770s were keenly aware of who was responsible for their distress.”

As historian Alexander Del Mar wrote in 1895: “The creation and circulation of bills of credit by revolutionary assemblies... coming as they did upon the heels of the strenuous efforts made by the Crown to suppress paper money in America were acts of defiance so contemptuous and insulting to the Crown that forgiveness was thereafter impossible. There was but one course for the crown to pursue and that was to suppress and punish these acts of rebellion. Thus the Bills of Credit of this era, which ignorance and prejudice have attempted to belittle into the mere instruments of a reckless financial policy were really the standards of the Revolution. they were more than this: they were the Revolution itself!

And British historian John Twells said the same thing: “The British Parliament took away from America its representative money, forbade any further issue of bills of credit, these bills ceasing to be legal tender, and ordered that all taxes should be paid in coins. Ruin took place in these once flourishing Colonies, discontent became desperation, and reached a point, when human nature rises up and asserts itself.”

In fact, the Americans ignored the British ban on American currency, and: "Succeeded in financing a war against a major power, with virtually no 'hard' currency of their own, without taxing the people." Indeed, the first act of the New Continental Congress was to issue its own paper scrip, popularly called the Continental. Franklin and Thomas Paine later praised the local currency as a "corner stone" of the Revolution. And Franklin consistently wrote that the American ability to create its own credit led to prosperity, as it allowed the creation of ample credit, with low interest rates to borrowers, and no interest to pay to private or foreign bankers .

Is this just ancient history? No. The ability for America and the 50 states to create its own credit has largely been lost to private bankers. The lion's share of new credit creation is done by private banks, so - instead of being able to itself create money without owing interest - the government owes unfathomable trillions in interest to private banks. America may have won the Revolutionary War, but it has since lost one of the main things it fought for: the freedom to create its own credit instead of having to beg for credit from private banks at a usurious cost.

As economic writer and attorney Ellen Brown has tried to teach to Obama, Schwarzenegger, and anyone else who will listen, the way out of the economic crisis is to stop paying interest to private banks for the creation of credit, and to return to the system of government-issued credit used by the Founding Fathers to create prosperity for the people and to gain independence from their oppressors. As I wrote in July: "The U.S. has become a kleptocracy, an oligarchy, a banana republic, a socialist or fascist state ... which acts without the consent of the governed."

"UFO's: What's Going On?"

 "'The Event' NBC TV Series Is Funded By US Government"

"Previously we have reported that The Event NBC latest TV series is all about educating masses about UFO Extraterrestrial disclosure. Now in the latest development according from, "I am fortunate enough to be able to call upon a series of insiders, with high-level access to various secret projects, for information on The Event NBC TV series. I got detailed briefings from my top guys about what the heck is going on with "The Event" - and what it really means. One of them really surprised me by saying, flatly, "I know for a fact that 60 percent of the budget for "The Event" was funded by Uncle Sam [i.e. some aspect of the US government, probably the Pentagon.] They've also funded that television show 'V', as well as Battlestar Galactica. Those are three I know for sure." "What's the point?" I asked. "Why are they doing this?" "They're trying to tell the truth," he answered. "With a bit of spin, of course." Fulford has gone on record saying up to 75 percent of the budgets of various warlike 'action' and sci-fi movies, particularly those with an anti-extraterrestrial agenda, are financed by the Pentagon.

In the last few months, things have gotten really wonderful for the Disclosure crowd- to the point where I don't even have enough time to try to track and write about all of it, while juggling my other responsibilities. This includes:

• Multiple, blatant UFO sightings, some of which shut down entire airports in China[Xiaoshan and Baotou Airport and the US
• Major press conferences with multiple eyewitnesses announcing that nuclear missile installations have been powered down by 'flying saucers' which otherwise were not aggressive, and may in fact have our best interests in mind;
• A huge number of "life is highly abundant in the universe" scientific articles;
• A raft of movies and television shows either already released or in production, which are dealing with the subject - both from the present day as well as "Ancient Aliens" who happened to enjoy building massive stone structures.

This is definitely not 'smoke and mirrors.' This is a clear, deliberate and concerted effort. And it's building up to something. Bearing that in mind, read this. Do you enjoy movies about alien invasions? Great news, then: There is a ridiculous number of upcoming movies alien invasions! That includes :

1. "Skies" - Steven Spielberg alien invasion
2. "Super 8" - secret Spielberg-indebted JJ Abrams alien invasion
3. "Battle: Los Angeles" - Pro–U.S. Military alien invasion
4. "I Am Number Four" - James Frey YA alien invasion
5. "Cowboys and Aliens" - period-piece alien invasion
6. "Monsters" - Alien invasion
7. "Skyline" - Human-tornado alien invasion
8. "Men in Black III" - Franchised alien invasion
9. "The Thing" - Prequel alien invasion
10. "Battleship" - Childhood-toy alien invasion
11. "Iron Sky" - Dark-side-of-the-moon Nazis alien invasion

David said : Will this new surge of alien-invasion projects be met with boffo box-office tallies and ratings? We have no idea! Will this new surge of alien invasion projects be met with oodles of theories by pop-culture "experts" purporting to explain the sociological reasons behind the new surge of alien-invasion projects? Absolutely! I guess according to this writer, I would be one of those "pop-culture 'experts'" - but if this much money is being spent on a single theme, there's obviously something going on. We know from Dr. Carol Rosin's testimony at the "Disclosure Project" event in 2001 that Wernher von Braun, the Nazi father of NASA's rocketry program, said a fake alien invasion would be the final stage of a plan for global control by the insiders.

UFO-Blogger earlier this month have reported about how Planetary Defense Coordination Office proposed to fight Asteroids and Comets by Space Weaponization. David added: "If you just kill someone spontaneously, out of nowhere, there's no fear. The art of creating fear is in the telegraphing of the blow, so that the person increasingly anticipates something bad that is about to happen." Most of these movies and TV shows have a negative 'spin' attached to them. Again, though, that doesn't mean any such plans to fake an invasion will ever be permitted. What actually will end up happening is the public finally learns the truth - without the major disasters that were planned to go along with it. The ultimate reversal. Everything the elite didn't want, and nothing they did."
"Famed NASA Astronaut Confirms Extraterrestrials Are Here"
by Clark C. McClelland, 
former ScO, U.S. Space Shuttle Fleet, KSC, Florida 1958 to 1992

"Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-80 took a crew of five astronauts into a 17 day, 15 hour and 54 minute mission around the earth, the longest flight in the history of this vehicle. During this lengthy flight a very strange event occurred that even had crewman Dr. Story Musgrave unable to explain what he observed from the shuttle windows. A large disc shaped object appeared below the Columbia. The shuttle was approximately, 190 Nautical miles high.

The disc was first observed to miraculously appear from out of nowhere, flying through the clouds below and progressing from right to left as the astronauts stared in utter amazement. The outer rim of the craft appeared to be rotating counter-clockwise. It was very large (compared to common space junk and breakaway ice), approximately 50 to 150 feet in diameter. Astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave, a Payload Specialist on the STS-80 Mission, was interviewed following the flight. As he viewed a videotape of the incident which showed lightning flashes in the atmosphere, the city lights of Denver, Colorado and other earthbound sights, he stated: "I don't know what it is. Whether it's a washer, debris, ice particles, I don't know. But it's characteristic of the thousands of things which I've seen. What is not so characteristic is it appears to come from no where. You would think that if it's facing the dark side or facing a side towards you which is not reflecting the sun, you would think that you would see something there. It's really impressive."

During an earlier interview, Dr. Musgrave stated he attempted to communicate with ET life forms during each of his six missions. He actually asked them to take him with them. Now that's an astronaut with a lot of courage. Dr. Musgrave retired after this flight from NASA. Since then he's been spreading his considered opinion that alien life exists. When Musgrave speaks of this, it's no great leap for one to assume he's admitting knowledge of alien life. As the final slide of a "Grey" ET was shown during a recent astronomy presentation by Dr. Musgrave, he made this surprising comment: "These guys are real... I guarantee it!" Dr. Musgrave does know the truth. This author guarantees it!

Consider that carefully. These are world renowned scientists making statements almost beyond belief. Dr. von Braun and others of his stature have the courage to disclose "sensitive" information, but obviously the leaders of the USA and the world do not. If billions could find a way of coping with the overwhelming threat of atomic annihilation for half a century, it is reasonable to assume we can cope with the knowledge of these "Other Intelligence's" from the stars. We can cope with the fact they are visiting earth, and have been since the beginning of history. We must. Those still asleep must open their eyes. We Are Not Alone."

About the author: Clark C. McClelland, former ScO, Space Shuttle Fleet, KSC, Florida 1958 to 1992. Former Director, NICAP Unit-3 at Cape Canaveral and KSC, former MUFON Assistant Florida State Director, and former Director, Kennedy Space Center MUFON Unit, KSC.

"How It Really Is"

Chief Seattle

 "Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we 
do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."
- Chief Seattle

Carl Sagan, "The Pale Blue Dot- Where We Make Our Stand"

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there- on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
- Carl Sagan, "Pale Blue Dot," 1994

"5 Dangers To Global Food Crops"

 "5 Dangers To Global Food Crops"
by The Economic Collapse Blog

"The world food situation is starting to get very, very tight. Unprecedented heat and wildfires this summer in Russia and horrific flooding in Pakistan and China have been some of the primary reasons for the rapidly rising food prices we are now seeing around the globe.  In places such as Australia and the African nation of Guinea-Bissau, the big problem for crops has been locusts.  In a world that already does not grow enough food for everyone (thanks to the greed of the elite), any disruption in food production can cause a major, major problem.  Tonight, thousands of people around the world will starve to death.  So what happens if things get even worse?  Many agricultural scientists are now warning that global food production is facing dangers that are absolutely unprecedented.  Crop diseases such as UG99 wheat rust and the "unintended effects" of genetic modification pose challenges that previous generations simply did not have to face.  The outbreak of a real, live global famine looks increasingly possible with each passing year.  So are you and your family prepared if a global famine does strike?

Already, there are huge warning signs on the horizon.  Just check out what agricultural commodities have been doing.  They have been absolutely soaring. A recent article on the Forbes website noted a few of the agricultural commodities that have skyrocketed during this year. Here’s what’s happened to some key farm commodities so far in 2010…
•Corn: Up 63%
•Wheat: Up 84%
•Soybeans: Up 24%
•Sugar: Up 55%

Are you ready to pay 84 percent more for a loaf of bread? You better get ready - these raw material prices will filter down to U.S. consumers eventually. So what is going to happen if the world food situation gets even tighter? Don't think that it can't happen.The following are 5 potential dangers to global crops that could dramatically reduce the world food supply:
UG99 Wheat Rust: UG99 is commonly known as "wheat rust" or "stem rust" because it produces reddish-brown flakes on wheat stalks.  The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico believes that approximately 19 percent of the global wheat crop is in imminent danger of being infected with UG99. Ultimately, it is estimated that about 80 percent of the wheat on the globe is capable of catching the disease. There is no known cure.This current strain of wheat rust was discovered in Uganda in 1999 and has spread into areas of Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen and Iran.  It is feared that this crippling disease will spread even farther into south Asia, devastating the fertile growing regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. If that happens, you might as well kiss world food stability goodbye.

A recent article in the Financial Times contained an absolutely stunning quote from one prominent agricultural scientist: “You can talk about crying wolf,” says Ronnie Coffman, director of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project at the University of Cornell in the US, “but it is a wolf”, he asserts, driving across the corn fields of Kansas. Later on in the same article, Coffman warns that this disease could cause a devastating famine in which literally millions of people would die. “It can be absolutely devastating if environmental conditions are right,“ he says. “You can count the number of people who could die from this in the millions.”

Mad Soy Disease: Mad Soy disease is spreading at an alarming rate among soy farms down in Brazil.  Previously the disease had been confined to the north part of the country, but now it has been increasingly spreading south.  This disease retards the maturation of infected plants, and it has been causing yield losses of up to 40 percent.  The USDA says that "there are no known effective treatments."

Verticillium Wilt: Verticillium Wilt is a fungus that prevents lettuce from absorbing water, causing it to quickly grow yellow and eventually wilt.  This dangerous fungus is very hard to get rid of totally because it can stay in the soil for up to seven years. Today, Verticillium Wilt is spreading all over Monterey County, California.  Considering the fact that Monterey County produces more than 60 percent of the lettuce in the United States, that is very bad news.

Late Blight: In 2009, a disease known as "late blight" attacked potato and tomato plants in the United States with a ferocity never seen before.  According to a press release from Cornell University, late blight had "never occurred this early and this widespread in the U.S." when it started showing up all over the place early last year. Late blight begins as ugly brown spots on the stems of potato and tomato plants, and as the spots increase in size, white fungal growth develops until finally a soft rot completely collapses the stem. This was the disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine in the 1850s.  A major new outbreak could occur without warning.

Genetic Modification: While it may or may not technically be a disease (depending on how you look at it), genetic modification is having a very serious affect on crops around the globe. For example, about 10 years ago Chinese farmers began to widely adopt Monsanto's genetically modified Bt cotton.  Well, researchers have found that since that time, mirid bugs that are resistant to the Bt pesticide have experienced a complete and total population boom. Today, six provinces in Northern China are experiencing what can only be described as a "mirid bug plague".  Mirid bugs eat more than 200 different kinds of fruit, vegetables and grains.  Chinese farmers in the region are completely frustrated.

In the United States, a different problem is developing.  The complete and total reliance of so many U.S. farmers on Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has resulted in several varieties of glyphosate-resistant "superweeds" developing in many areas of the United States. The most feared of these "superweeds", Pigweed, can grow to be seven feet tall and it can literally wreck a combine.  Pigweed has been known to produce up to 10,000 seeds at a time, it is resistant to drought, and it has very diverse genetics. Superweeds were first spotted in Georgia in 2004, and since then they have spread to South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri. In some areas, superweeds have become so bad that literally tens of thousands of acres of U.S. farmland have actually been abandoned.

But that is what we get for trying to "play God". We think that we can just do whatever we want with nature and there will not be any consequences. One of the most frightening things about genetic modification is that it actually reduces that amount of crop diversity in the world. For example, if nearly all farmers start using the same "brand" of genetically modified plants that are all virtually identical, it sets up a situation where crop diseases and crop failures can cascade across the planet very easily. Genetic variety is a very desirable thing, but today our scientists are just doing pretty much whatever they want without really considering the consequences. It has been said many times that genetic engineering is similar to "performing heart surgery with a shovel".

The truth is that we just do not know enough about how our ecosystems work to be messing around with them so dramatically. Perhaps even more frightening is that once these genetically engineered monstrosities have been released into our environment, it is absolutely impossible to recall them.  They essentially become a permanent part of our ecosystem. But can we afford to make any serious mistakes at this point?

The truth is that we already live in a world that is not able to feed itself. Tonight, approximately 1 billion people across the globe will go to bed hungry.  Every 3.6 seconds someone in the world starves to death, and three-fourths of those who starve to death are children under the age of five. It is currently being projected that global demand for food will more than double over the next 50 years. So what is going to happen if we start seeing widespread crop failures in the coming years? The global food supply is not nearly as stable as most people believe.  At some point, it is going to be tested severely."

Derrick Jensen

"There are times the lies get to me, times I weary of battering myself against the obstacles of denial, hatred, fear-induced stupidity, and greed, times I want to curl up and fall into the problem, let it sweep me away as it so obviously sweeps away so many others. I remember a spring day a few years ago, a spring day much like this one, only a little more sun, and warmer. I sat on this same couch and looked out this same window at the same ponderosa pine.
I was frightened, and lonely. Frightened of a future that looks dark, and darker with each passing species, and lonely because for every person actively trying to shut down the timber industry, stop abuse, or otherwise bring about a sustainable and sane way of living, there are thousands who are helping along this not-so-slow train to oblivion. I began to cry.
The tears stopped soon enough. I realized we are not so outnumbered. We are not outnumbered at all. I looked closely, and saw one blade of wild grass, and another. I saw the sun reflecting bright off the needles of pine trees, and I heard the hum of flies. I saw ants walking single file through the dust, and a spider crawling toward the corner of the ceiling. I knew in that moment, as I've known ever since, that it is no longer possible to be lonely, that every creature on earth is pulling in the direction of life- every grasshopper, every struggling salmon, every unhatched chick, every cell of every blue whale- and it is only our own fear that sets us apart. All humans, too, are struggling to be sane, struggling to live in harmony with our surroundings, but it's really hard to let go. And so we lie, destroy, rape, murder, experiment, and extirpate, all to control this wildly uncontrollable symphony, and failing that, to destroy it."
-  Derrick Jensen "A Language Older Than Words"

Paul B. Farrell, “Avatar-2154"

by Paul B. Farrell

"Imagine a secret society, code named “Avatar-2154,” based on the date of the “War of 2154” between the Sec-Ops armies from Earth, funded by the Resources Development Corporation (RDA), against the Na’vi indigenous tribes on the Pandora moon. The war is over mining rights to Pandora’s unobtanium, a powerful new energy source needed back on “Eaarth,” to save our planet, where rapid population growth is exhausting limited natural resources, resulting in a dying civilization. Obviously this is a metaphor for today’s global threats.

The goals of “Avatar-2154:” Maximum security and wealth preservation for future generations of members from the elite of Wall Street, Washington, Corporate America CEOs, the Forbes-400. “Avatar-2154” secretly supports climate-change-deniers in think tanks, academic research and politicians who negate the impact of scientific facts. This effort is necessary when high-profile voices like Al Gore and Bill McKibben surface and new propaganda is required to attack their efforts stirring global climate initiatives.

For example, Bill McKibben, an environmental economist, recently published "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet." Tough? Worse. Earth is dead. And McKibben’s vision for the new “Eaarth” we created is bleak. No upbeat high-tech hope for a “green revolution” as in Tom Friedman’s "Hot, Flat & Crowded." Remember, two decades ago McKibben’s "The End of Nature" was one of the first books warning of global warming, climate change, a dying planet. His new “Eaarth” a funeral dirge. In Foreign Policy magazine last year, McKibben summarized his relentless message:

“Act now, we’re told, if we want to save the planet from a climate catastrophe. Trouble is, it might be too late. The science is settled, and the damage has already begun. The only question now is whether we will stop playing political games and embrace the few imperfect options we have left.” Stop the the political games? Never. Remember Kyoto and Copenhagen defeats? Recent coal mine disasters? The BP-Gulf oil catastrophe? And when the long-awaited 1,000-page Kerry-Leiberman Climate Bill finally surfaced last week, it was quickly blasted as “DOA,” a “gift to polluters.” Politicians love games.

In the end, “Eaarth itself will force us to bend to new rules”: The truth is, politicians will never stop in time. Consequently, “Avatar-2154” members need to be fully aware that “we have waited too long,” the planet really is dying, “Eaarth” is on an irreversible self-destruct path. Washington will not “stop playing political games.” They cannot: There are too many “special interests” fighting for their “fair” share of the federal government’s $1.7 trillion budget jackpot … too many stockholders in publicly-traded corporations demanding bull market returns and perpetual economic growth … and too many lobbyists who make enormous short-term payoffs by ignoring the long-term warnings of McKibben, Gore and others in the new “Green Revolution.”

After quoting a 2003 Pentagon report—“as the planet’s carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies would emerge”—McKibben offers three sane solutions: Cut carbon emissions, reduce our obsession with economic “growth,” and return to sustainable local farming. But while agreeing in his New York Times review, even advocate Paul Greenberg sees little chance of McKibben’s ideas changing opinions or reversing the destiny of “Eaarth:” ”In the absence of some overarching authority, a kind of ecologically minded Lenin,” McKibben’s solutions “will remain hipster lifestyle choices rather than global game changers.” But eventually, says Greenberg, “Eaarth itself will be that ecological Lenin, a harsh environmental dictator that will force us to bend to new rules.” Get it? If politicians won’t act till it’s too late, “Eaarth itself will be that ecological Lenin, a harsh environmental dictator that will force us to bend to new rules.” Yes, the “new rules” will be forced on self-interested politicians… forced on Wall Street’s bonus-obsessed CEOs and short-term high-frequency traders… forced on everyone.  An angry “Eaarth” will dictate harsh “new rules.” Everyone will be “forced to bend to the Eaarth’s new rules” imposed on us after the world’s exploding populations fight many tragic wars over ever-scarcer natural resources.

12 sectors: Today “Eaarth” has 7 billion people. By 2050 the UN estimates growth to 9.1 billion. America’s 400 million will be competing for depleting resources. “They” already outnumber “us.” Odds are 22:1. Tough odds. Population growth is now the “mother of all bubbles,” more dangerous than global warming, poverty, even peak oil. Population growth will trigger multiple catastrophes beyond anything in world history. Here’s why.

Remember anthropologist Jared Diamond’s warning in "Collapse:" “One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse.” Many “civilizations share a sharp curve of decline … a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power.” Diamond’s 12-part endgame equation is very simple, fitting perfectly with the Pentagon’s global warfare scenario: “More people require more food, space, water, energy, and other resources.” But remember, of the 12 elements in this “Formula for Collapse,” population commands the two biggest triggers in the endgame. Data is from Diamond, McKibben and other sources:

1. Population Growth: “Third Rail” of politicians and economists. Scientific American calls population “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment,” the new “third-rail” for politicians. So they ignore it. Warning: If all nations consumed resources at the same rate as America, the world’s 6.3 billion people would need 6 Earths to survive, now! Get it? The “American Dream” has become a self-destructive global circular-firing-squad nightmare.

2. Population impact and the new “American Dream.” Diamond warns: Optimists “argue that the world could support double its human population.” But they “consider only the increase in human numbers and not average increase in per-capita impact.” Developed countries “consume 32 times more resources … and put out 32 times more waste, than do the inhabitants of the Third World.” A race is on: “Low impact people are becoming high-impact people” aspiring “to First World living standards.” So check out Diamond’s 10 resources variables driving Diamond’s “Collapse of Eaarth and End of Civilization” equation … the final stage for humans, after McKibben’s local subsistence farming solution fails.

3. Peak Oil. Coal and gas next. Pimco’s Bill Gross sees a “significant break” in the world’s “growth pattern.” His new strategy looks beyond today’s “peak oil” tipping point: “Corporate profits will be static.” Consumer spending will decline. Economies will naturally grow slower. Foreign Policy Journal warns of the “7 Myths About Alternative Energy:” Biofuels, wind, solar and nuclear will never be enough. Never.

4. Food/Poverty Crisis. In “The End of Plenty” National Geographic warns that even this the new “green revolution” global poverty is increasing. The UN calls the global food crisis a “silent tsunami.” Prices rise making it worse for the 2.7 billion living in poverty on two bucks a day. A joint World Bank/UN study “concluded that the immense production increases brought about by science and technology the past 30 years have failed to improve food access for many of the world’s poor.” Failed.

5. Water wars. Diamond warns: “Water problems destroyed many earlier civilizations, and today “over a billion people lack access to reliable safe drinking water.” A British Minister predicts that by 2015 two-thirds of the world will live in water-stressed countries. Yes, increasingly resource wars will define human life on “Eaarth.”

6. Farmland erosion. Crop soils are “being carried away by water and wind erosion at rates between 10 to 40 times the rates of soil formation,” much higher in forests where soil-erosion rate is “between 500 and 10,000 times” replacement rate.

7. Forests destroyed: We are destroying natural habitats and rain forests at an alarming rate. Half the world’s original forests have been converted to urban developments. Another quarter will be converted in the next fifty years. Both China and India are planning 500 new cities. Plus, expect a new age of 100,000-acre mega-fires.

8. Chemical toxity. Industries “release into the air, soil, oceans, lakes, and rivers many toxic chemicals,” an endless flood of pesticides, insecticides, detergents, plastics.

9. Solar over-heating. Diamond warns we’re using “half of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity,” will max-out by 2050. In “Plundering the Amazon,” Bloomberg warns that big firms like Alcoa and Cargill “have bypassed laws designed to prevent destruction of the world’s largest rain forest … robbing the earth of its best shield against global warming.”

10. Ozone layer lost. “Human activities produce gases that escape into the atmosphere,” destroying our protective ozone layer, along with thawing Artic methane.

11. Diversity disappearing. “Wild species, populations and genetic diversity has been lost” and “a large percent of the rest will disappear in half century” is a fight for survival

12. Alien species. Globalization has transferred many species to non-native lands with unintended consequences, “preying on, parasitizing, infecting or out-competing” natives.

Yes, we have many choices ahead, as Diamond says in "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. "These 12 triggers are interconnected, self-destructive and inevitable. And since human behavior and political games will never change soon enough, and since the efforts of dedicated environmentalists like McKibben and Gore will ultimately prove to be ineffectual stopgap measures that at best delay the inevitable, the conclusion is now obvious, the “Collapse of Eaarth” is guaranteed. That’s the core message for members of “Avatar-2154:” No one can save Eaarth or human civilization."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

George Washington, "War: A Desire for More Cows"

 "War: A Desire for More Cows"
by George Washington

"Sometimes foreign languages can make things clear. For example, the word for "war" in the ancient Sanskrit language (dating to 1200 BC) literally means: "A desire for more cows." Simple. Your neighbor has more cows than you have, you want to take his resources, so you go to war.

Has anything changed in 3200 years? Before you answer, remember that Alan Greenspan, John McCain, George W. Bush, a high-level National Security Council officer and others say that the Iraq war was really about oil.

Similarly, the French word for propaganda literally means: "Brain-stuffing." People won't go to war to steal more cows for you unless you stuff their brains full of crazy ideas and make up horror stories to demonize your enemies..."

"How Your Brain Handles Terror Scares"

 "How Your Brain Handles Terror Scares"
by Alan Boyle

"Today's reports of suspicious packages sent from Yemen can add a real-life fear factor to the fictional scares that folks typically experience during Halloween weekend. Whether the scares are make-believe or real, neuroscience provides some strategies for channeling our fear response in the right way.

Millions of years of evolution have optimized our brains' hard wiring to cope with immediate threats - such as the predators that crossed paths with our ancestors in Africa, said Andreas Keil, a psychologist at the NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention at the University of Florida. "Today, we rarely experience the lions that want to eat us, or snakes that want to kill us, but we respond a lot to cues where somebody tells us through a newspaper article or a Twitter tweet that a threat is around," Keil told me. "The brain's response to those cues is a lot like the response to the real thing."

Acute vs. chronic stress: Successfully coping with a stressful episode actually produces rewards in the brain, said Ki Ann Goosens, a neuroscientist at MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research who specializes in the study of fear, anxiety and stress. "It's good to be in a state of moderate arousal," she said. "That can actually enhance your ability to perform." In contrast, chronic stress is bad for the brain. "Unfortunately, there's less known about the effects of chronic stress," Goosens told me. "The effects that it has on the cells of the brain aren't uniform. For a lot of the cells in the brain, their function is impaired. You can cause atrophy of cells in the brain."

One of the targets of chronic stress is the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays a key role in managing memory. "You can imagine that if you have atrophy in this structure, often it's associated with memory impairment," Goosens said. But chronic stress actually causes the opposite response in a different part of the brain, known as the amygdala. Stress boosts activity in the amygdala. "You might think, 'Well, great, there's a part of my brain that's enhanced by chronic stress,'" Goosens said. "But it turns out that the amygdala is particularly involved in negative emotions, like fear.  It's actually maladaptive, because you're better at processing bad things."

Goosens' lab is focusing on the health effects of long-lasting stress - effects that appear to range from cardiovascular disease to mental disorders. "If you're someone who's never been diagnosed with a mental illness, but you have a genetic predisposition for, let's say, bipolar disorder, and you experience a strong, lasting stressor - for example, someone in your family dies - then there's a higher likelihood that the illness would be triggered," she said. "Or if you're somebody who has been diagnosed, then you're more likely to start showing symptoms of mania or depression."

Controlling the fear response: So what does all this have to do with terrorism alerts? Our brains and our bodies are better-equipped to handle well-defined threats that come along with an action plan and a sense of resolution. "It's best to think about these fear episodes as networks that belong together in the brain," Keil said, "and one thing that goes with the fear response is to have an action plan. If I have no action plan, that will change the way the brain responds to the threat. The response is more unpleasant."

That may be why so many people find scary movies and Halloween-style frights to be absolutely pleasurable. Such experiences let people experience the chemical high that goes along with the fear response, in a safe and controlled environment. In such a situation, it's easy to know what to do. "The action plan is to sit there and eat popcorn while the zombies are wreaking havoc," Keil said. In a way, the make-believe scares serve as "practice runs" for coping with real-life dangers - and if they're handled in the right way, terrorism alerts can provide similar opportunities for visualizing how to deal with an immediate threat. "I get the benefit of the tickling of my fear system, but at all times I'm in control of my fear response," Keil said.

The action plan is an important part of the process. "With a terror alert, what are you going to be doing?" Keil said. "When an alert doesn't come with a recommendation for what people shoud do, there's a vague fear that's less appropriate and less functional." Even if the authorities don't provide those recommendations, it's a good idea to take the opportunity to review your own personal emergency response plan. "That's so in line with common sense you don't even have to ask a brain scientist," Keil said.

Goosens has another piece of common-sense advice: Don't fret alone. Being part of a group makes it easier to cope with fear - whether it's stimulated by a visit to a haunted house or an actual terror threat. "That reduces your stress response while you're exposed to the threat, and when you're being social, you're activationg parts of your brain that are associated with reward," she said. "One of the things about people who are exposed to chronic stress is that they often exhibit social withdrawal or abnormal social interaction."

Filling in the gaps: Risk consultant David Ropeik - a former contributor whose most recent book is titled "How Risky Is it, Really?" - said that it's important for government officials and news media to fill in the gaps in information about a threat as fully as they can. "The psychological effect is called 'representativeness bias,'" he told me. "We take partial information, and when we don't have more, we fit that information itno the pattern that we already know and seems to make sense. Yemen? Ding-ding-ding-ding. Possibly explosive? Ding-ding-ding-ding. It's a mental shortcut that we use to make decisions about whether we're in danger."

That effect meshes perfectly with our hard-wired response to perceived threats. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the hominids who were careful about keeping their distance from an unknown creature usually fared better than those who blithely walked into the predator's lair. But if the information gaps aren't eventually filled in, there could be negative consequences, particularly in a modern global society.

"If the pattern forms in our minds, that Muslims are dangerous and that chemicals are dangerous, and if we don't find out the truth about all that, then we're left with that pattern. Everything fits the pattern, so we have Islamophobia and all sorts of stereotypes," Ropeik said. "The government and the media need to take more responsibility for clarifying those scary circumstances that, down the road, turn out not to fit the pattern. Because the more we have a pattern in our mind, the more it binds us to irrational representativeness bias. And that's bad for our health."

What do you think? Is the news a source of chronic stress? Do you feel as if the gaps in our information about terror threats are being closed? Is there a psychological benefit to putting real-world worries aside and watching "Saw 3D" instead?"

History: "Witch Trials: Imps, Warts, And Sex With The Devil"

 "Imps, Warts, And Sex With The Devil"
by James Tozer

"It is one of the grimmest chapters of English history. Dramatised in the horror film "The Witchfinder General," the execution of scores of innocent village women for consorting with the Devil is chilling. But now a 350-year-old diary made public for the first time details the terror that faced the victims of Matthew Hopkins' witch-hunts during the Civil War. It tells how one of those accused admitted to 'carnal copulation with the Devil' after he appeared in her bedroom in the shape of a handsome young man. The confession, by a young Essex maid, Rebecca West, implicated her mother, Anne, in witchcraft - saving her own life but condemning her mother to the gallows.

It is the account of Puritan writer, Nehemiah Wallington, who tells how a supposed coven of witches was found in the village of Manningtree in the 1640s. Hopkins achieved notoriety long before he was immortalised in the 1968 Vincent Price film. Between 1645 and 1647, historians believe the self-styled Witchfinder General's bloody crusade across East Anglia resulted in more than 100 women being put to death.

The trials in Manningtree - his home village - are among the most notorious of his brutal campaign. Suspicion had fallen on villager Elizabeth Clarke and Hopkins was appointed to question her in March 1645. She was examined for 'devil's marks' like warts or moles.  Under torture she broke down and named several other women including Anne West and her daughter Rebecca. They were already being blamed for the deaths of two children. Tortured at Colchester Castle, Rebecca confessed and implicated her mother and other local women, thus saving herself.

It was at their trial in Chelmsford in July 1645 where Rebecca's dramatic account was given. Explaining how she knew her mother was in league with the Devil, Wallington writes: 'When she looked upon the ground she saw herself encompassed in flames of fire and as soon as she was separated from her mother the tortures and the flames began to cease. 'As soon as her confession was fully ended she found her contience so satisfied and disburdened of all tortures she thought herself the happiest creature in the world.' With no legal representation, all but Rebecca were found guilty, and a total of 19 women - including Clarke - were hanged.

Wallington is thought to have based his account on contemporary pamphlets. He died in 1658. The notebook is kept at Tatton Hall, Cheshire. It is being made public by a team from Manchester University's John Rylands Library who are 'digitising' the diary."

The Economy: "All Eyes On the Fed: Awaiting Bernanke’s Decision"

 "All Eyes On the Fed: Awaiting Bernanke’s Decision"
by Joel Bowman
"The world waits… Stocks barely budged this week. Gold bobbed around like an anchorless sailboat, adrift in a vast ocean of guesses, speculation and rumor. All eyes, meanwhile, are on US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is widely expected to announce his next round of systematic dollar debasement a few days from now – a strategy otherwise known as “quantitative easing,” or “QE” for short. Trepid investors, unsure of what the value of the world’s reserve currency will be a week from now, sit on the sidelines, awaiting their cue from the man with the magic chopper. Fellow Reckoners will recall Bernanke’s statement that, should it become “necessary,” he could cure what ails the financial world by dropping money from helicopters. He’s not quite there yet. Readers are invited to have a little patience…

Of course, the battle between central bank-created fiat money and its arch nemesis, gold, is not a new tale. Money meddlers have been tussling with the precious metal since the coin clipping days of the Romans. You’d think the bozos would have learned their lesson by now. But, as Bill likes to say, what one generation learns, the next is quick to forget.

“Gold vs. the Fed: the Record is Clear,” reads a headline from The Wall Street Journal this week. The article goes on to highlight a few of the dollar’s lowlights during its ongoing battle with the Midas Metal. “From 1947 through 1967, the year before the US began to weasel out of its commitment to dollar-gold convertibility,” the story begins, “unemployment averaged only 4.7% and never rose above 7%. Real growth averaged 4% a year. Low unemployment and high growth coincided with low inflation. During the 21 years ending in 1967, consumer-price inflation averaged just 1.9% a year. Interest rates, too, were low and stable – the yield on triple-A corporate bonds averaged less than 4% and never rose above 6%.

“What’s happened since 1971,” the article wonders aloud, “when President Nixon formally broke the link between the dollar and gold? Higher average unemployment, slower growth, greater instability and a decline in the economy’s resilience.” And that’s not all. “For the period 1971 through 2009, unemployment averaged 6.2%, a full 1.5 percentage points above the 1947-67 average, and real growth rates averaged less than 3%. We have since experienced the three worst recessions since the end of World War II, with the unemployment rate averaging 8.5% in 1975, 9.7% in 1982, and above 9.5% for the past 14 months. During these 39 years in which the Fed was free to manipulate the value of the dollar, the consumer-price index rose, on average, 4.4% a year. That means that a dollar today buys only about one-sixth of the consumer goods it purchased in 1971.”

And to think the Journal is referring only to official statistics! The real story, when adjusting for the number torture going on in the government’s chamber of statistics – what Orwell might call the Ministry for Truth – is far, far worse. But readers get the point. The evidence is in. The facts have been observed. The arguments made. The case against a fiat money system would seem as open and shut as they come.

So why continue down the path leading to the very same cliff every other fiat money leapt from? Ahh… As every liar worth his salt well knows, a mistruth must beget a fraud, which, in turn, must give rise to another lie.

The world is brimming with stories of people who blindly cling to crackpot ideas in the face of any and all rational argument to the contrary. In fact, research shows that, far from inspiring a level-headed change of opinion, a well constructed argument dismantling this or that hocus pocus theory often has the opposite effect, emboldening the purveyors of such falsehoods. Leon Festinger introduced the theory, known as “cognitive dissonance” in his well-known book When Prophecy Fails, co-written with Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter.

In it, Festinger and his colleagues infiltrate a cult whose leader, Dorothy Martin, convinces a bunch of fellow village idiots that an apocalyptic flood is going to ravage the earth and that their only hope rests with a group of strangely benevolent aliens who would swoop down at the hour of reckoning to save the believing souls form certain death. One might reasonably expect that, when the fated day came and went without a drop of rain (or alien appearance), the group, no doubt embarrassed but otherwise none the worse for wear, would simply disband and go home. Not so.

Ed Yong, an award-winning British science writer who addressed the subject in a recent article for Discover magazine, describes what happened next. “In a reversal of their earlier distaste for publicity, [the group] started to actively proselytize for their beliefs. Far from shattering their faith, the absent UFOs had turned them into zealous evangelists.”

What corners we humans allow our theories to paint us into! Perhaps it is the same psychological disposition, a cerebral partitioning of sorts, giving rise to the popular belief that a man can grow prosperous by spending more than he earns. Or that problems caused by too much debt can be cured…with more debt. Or that leaving a central banker in charge of the value of money can end in anything other than currency destruction and eventual financial ruin.

So, what does a central banker do when one round of money printing doesn’t bring about the desired effect? Does he revisit first principles and reexamine the evidence? Or does he double down on his bets, defending his actions with increasingly zealous evangelism? Bernanke gives the world his answer on Wednesday."

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Spooky shapes seem to haunt this starry expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, they lurk at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away.
Click image for larger size.

Over 2 light-years across the ghostly nebula known as vdB 141 or Sh2-136 is near the center of the field. The core of the dark cloud on the right is collapsing and is likely a binary star system in the early stages of formation."

Mark Twain, "Letters From the Earth"

  Mark Twain's "Letters From the Earth"
by Wikipedia

“Letters from the Earth” is one of Mark Twain's posthumously published works. The essays were written during a difficult time in Twain's life; he was deep in debt and had lost his wife and one of his daughters. Initially, his daughter, Clara Clemens, objected to its publication in March 1939, probably because of its controversial and iconoclastic views on religion, claiming it presented a "distorted" view of her father. Henry Nash Smith helped change her position in 1960. Clara explained her change of heart in 1962 saying that "Mark Twain belonged to the world" and that public opinion had become more tolerant. She was also influenced to release the papers due to her annoyance with Soviet propaganda charges that her father's ideas were being suppressed in the United States. The papers were edited in 1939 by Bernard DeVoto. The book consists of a series of short stories, many of which deal with God and Christianity. The title story consists of eleven letters written by the archangel Satan to archangels, Gabriel and Michael, about his observations on the curious proceedings of earthly life and the nature of man's religions. Other short stories in the book include a bedtime story about a family of cats Twain wrote for his daughters, and an essay explaining why an anaconda is morally superior to Man.

Textual references make clear that sections, at least, of “Letters from the Earth” were written shortly before his death in April 1910. (For instance, Letter VII, in discussing the ravages of hookworm, refers to the $1,000,000 gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr. to help eradicate the disease – a gift that was announced on October 28, 1909, less than six months before Twain's death.)"
Excerpt: "Letters From the Earth"
by Mark Twain

"This is a strange place, an extraordinary place, and interesting. There is nothing resembling it at home. The people are all insane, the other animals are all insane, the earth is insane, Nature itself is insane. Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at is worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity calls himself the "noblest work of God." This is the truth I am telling you. And this is not a new idea with him, he has talked it through all the ages, and believed it. Believed it, and found nobody among all his race to laugh at it.

Moreover - if I may put another strain upon you - he thinks he is the Creator's pet. He believes the Creator is proud of him; he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes, and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to Him, and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea? Fills his prayers with crude and bald and florid flatteries of Him, and thinks He sits and purrs over these extravagancies and enjoys them. He prays for help, and favor, and protection, every day; and does it with hopefulness and confidence, too, although no prayer of his has ever been answered. The daily affront, the daily defeat, do not discourage him, he goes on praying just the same. There is something almost fine about this perseverance. I must put one more strain upon you: he thinks he is going to heaven!"
Complete "Letters From the Earth" is here: