Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Blue Plague" from the BP Oil Spill -It's Not Wise to Mess With Mother Nature (Environment Alert VIDEO)

"Blue Plague" from the BP Oil Spill -It's Not Wise to Mess With Mother Nature (Environment Alert VIDEO)

Burning-oil-rig-explosion-fire-photo11As part of their new logo and corporate image campaign, British Petroleum (BP) wants the public to think of them as their new slogan says, “Beyond Petroleum”. BP is far more than a simple oil company. What is revealed below regarding BP and their ‘beyond petroleum’ activities, both prior to and including their Gulf of Mexico catastrophe, will create a picture for the reader one pixel dot at a time. It is more than obvious that BP has tried to fool Mother Nature… and she’s retaliating with a vengeance that is affecting the entire world. This is a perilous game that has now gotten out of control. What began in the Gulf of Mexico, in February 2010, has now escalated into a man-made biological nightmare of unknown proportions. Crying Wolf? Or true?
Continue reading ""Blue Plague" from the BP Oil Spill -It's Not Wise to Mess With Mother Nature (Environment Alert VIDEO)" »

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 - by Isao Hashimoto

Afghanistan - Fake Sheikh Fiasco (New Instalment)

Brits To Blame For Farce Claim US Officials:

It was revealed this week that the fake Taliban leader – understood to be a shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta – was masquerading as Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the second highest-ranking official in the Taliban. He attended three meetings in Kabul.

The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported today that people familiar with the con – as she described it – said "the British spent a year developing the fake Taliban leader as a source".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sky Events And The Ancient Ones

Hi folks-this is my first post here at CP's place And thank you again for that! It's a post that I put up at my place last Monday that was triggered by a picture seen here. Not far fetched and is is fun to think about the possibilities. My friend and I think too that some of these figures floated because of the way they're drawn but that's for another time. One Fly

On this Sunday when most of this country attends some type of religious service we'll go where none of them has ever been. The picture below is the courtesy of Coyote Prime and the photo from here.

This will be short and since no one really knows this opinion has as much merit as any one else out there.

Take a look at the top picture and then the two directly below. In the two rock art photos whoever it was that made similar looking spirals witnessed a sky event like seen in the top picture.

This event was very close or so huge that it was easily seen by the naked eye or something along those lines.

I think the last picture is perhaps the most dramatic.

Remember how clicking on the pictures twice makes them larger.

These ancient people depicted onto the rocks literally what they saw or experienced.

Video Report From Afghanistan: How the U.S. Counter-insurgency Campaign ...

The Daily "Near You?"

North Pole, Alaska, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"TSA: Are You Being Groomed?"

"TSA: Are You Being Groomed?"
by Sott.net

"The Wikipedia definition of grooming states: "Adult grooming is the adult equivalent to child grooming and applies to any behaviour where an adult is prepared so they unwittingly allow abusive behaviour or exploitation to occur later. The abuser typically befriends or builds a relationship with the victim in order to establish a relationship of trust. Well known examples of such abusive behaviours are sexual abuse, elder abuse, financial extortion, human trafficking and sexual slavery. Although it is a common belief that grooming is most relevant to children, the same or similar psychological processes are used to exploit adults. As with child grooming, adult grooming typically involves:
• positive reinforcement (gifts, money, praise, superficial charm, flattery, smiling etc)
• normalization"

What is normalization? Normalization is the act of socializing a process to the point where it seems natural. Mandatory pat downs and the use of body scans at airports can be considered to be a form of psychological manipulation or grooming. If it happens often enough, it can then be seen as 'normal'. 

What Kind of Person Would Engage in This Type of 'Grooming'? Hervey Cleckley introduced 16 behavioral characteristics of a psychopath as outlined in Mask of Sanity (free pdf)

1. Superficial charm and good intelligence. 
2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking. 
3. Absence of nervousness or psychoneurotic manifestations. 
4. Unreliability. 
5. Untruthfulness and insincerity. 
6. Lack of remorse and shame. 
7. Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior. 
8. Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience. 
9. Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love. 
10. General poverty in major affective reactions. 
11. Specific loss of insight. 
12. Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations. 
13. Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink and sometimes without. 
14. Suicide threats rarely carried out. 
15. Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated. 
16. Failure to follow any life plan.

If we take a closer look at the mandatory practices at the Transportation Security Administration (by government mandate), an interesting pattern starts to develop. At least 10 out of 16 characteristics of a psychopath correlate with that of the TSA's behaviors (numbers 1 and 14 are subject to further discussion). It is interesting that they also overlap with the above actions surrounding adult and child grooming. Another thing that's important to keep in mind is that it's not always the individuals themselves who are psychopathic or who have tendencies toward such, but rather that they are influenced by the institutions they work for and have been indoctrinated by. In other words, ponerization of the group. Ponerology is the science of evil. 

Why and How Does This Happen? According to the author of Political Ponerology, Andrzej Lobaczewski: "...Primary ponerogenic associations are those that were originally formed and designed to benefit its founding members using illicit (evil) means. Lobaczewski describes them as unions "whose abnormal members were active from the very beginning, playing the role of crystallizing catalysts as early as the process of creation of the group occurred," e.g. criminal gangs. Such groups' antisocial activities and blatant disregard for moral values naturally disgust normal people, and thus their influence does not spread far before they lose their battle with society. 

The first step in the ponerization of a group often appears as a moral distortion of the group's original ideology. The existence of simplistic concepts (e.g., whether moral or legal) blocks any ability for critical thought in relation to the existence of psychopaths or their possible influence on the initial warping of the group's ideology. Such doctrinaire concepts are prevalent in the neoconservative ideology. For example, "You're either with us or against us (in the War on Terror)" and the completely arbitrary use of the labels "terrorist," "terrorist sympathizer", and "suspected terrorist." 

Just as it is normal in the life of any human to experience a decline in psychological or physiological resistance (thus leading to moral failings or bacteriological infection), groups experience such crises. The pressure leading to such crises may be caused by the influence of other groups, a heightened hysterical condition, or a general spiritual crisis in the environment. 

The resulting weakness in proper reasoning and critical thinking skills leaves an opening for the activity of psychopaths and characteropaths. Their influence then results in a further decline in moral and intellectual functioning. The absurdity of such a dynamic can be seen in the fact that Richard Cheney, an obvious psychopath, is allowed to hold the position of vice-president. Even when he shoots a hunting partner in the face, the media and public will studiously rationalize his coarse and psychopathic behavior. So based on Lowbaczewski's theories, the overall reason for TSA scans and pat downs is to indoctrinate people to accept the further lowering of boundaries - first through psychological and then physical means - so that they will not resist when the next phase is implemented. We are being groomed to accept accept abuse in no uncertain terms. 

What Can We Do About It? Arm yourselves with information and take action! Don't wait for someone else to do it, be the change you want to see in the world. Turn off your televisions and start networking with your friends, family and neighbors! The holidays are coming. Prepare meals that will give you the strength to fight this battle. Stressed out? Get the Eiriu Eolas set and gain the benefits of meditation. Shop 'til you drop at one of the sites listed on this page and get your friends something that will truly feed them. The truth is the gift that keeps on giving! 

Remember, true change is within reach for each of us and can happen only when we decide through our own actions moment by moment. It doesn't lie in hope. It doesn't lie within a political figure. But we know this already, don't we?"

“Why Brainy Tail-wagging Dogs Can Teach Aloof Cats A Thing Or Two”

Why Brainy Tail-wagging Dogs Can Teach 
Aloof Cats A Thing Or Two”
by The Daily Mail

“Looking down on the world - and especially those tail-wagging dimwits known as dogs - may seem like the natural order of things for cats. No longer. For scientists yesterday claimed pet dogs are smarter than their feline counterparts. The reason, they claim, is that dogs evolved bigger brains because friendly, social mammals need more grey matter than solitary, aloof ones. The findings, which are bound to divide pet owners around the world, come from a study into the brain size of more than 500 species of living and fossilised mammals. 

The researchers at Oxford University charted the evolution of mammal brains over the last 60million years - from a few million years after the dinosaurs became extinct to the modern day. They discovered that there is a strong link between the size of a brain relative to an animal's body and how sociable that creature is. Sociable mammals such as whales, dogs, dolphins and humans tend to have much larger brains compared to their bodies. Solitary species - such as tigers, domestic cats and rhinos - have less grey matter, the scientists found. 

Prof Robin Dunbar, co-author of the study, said: 'For the first time, it has been possible to provide a genuine evolutionary time depth to the study of brain evolution. It is interesting to see that even animals that have contact with humans, like cats, have much smaller brains than dogs and horses because of their lack of sociality.' 

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the brains of monkeys expanded the most over evolutionary history, followed by horses, dolphins, camels and dogs. Groups of mammals with relatively bigger brains tend to live in stable groups, they found. The researchers believe that living in a group is more demanding mentally than having a lonely existence. The study is also challenging previous research which suggested the brains of all mammals evolved to be larger at a similar rate. 

Co-author Dr Susanne Shultz said: 'Dogs have always been regarded as the more social animals while cats like to get on with their own thing alone. But it appears that interaction is good for the brain and extends to other species, like ourselves.' We are even more social than monkeys and apes and it is this ability to get on with each other that has helped us dominate the planet. This study overturns the long-held belief that brain size has increased across all mammals. Instead, groups of highly social species have undergone much more rapid increases than more solitary species. This suggests the co-operation and co-ordination needed for group living can be challenging and over time some mammals have evolved larger brains to be able to cope with the demands of socializing.'”
- http://www.sott.net/

Obama Has To Has To Has To! (Move Farther To The Right - Because He Just Haaaas To!) (Or He's a Meanie - or Communist or Socialist/Nazi or Somethin'!)

My idol (the all-seeing driftglass) has delivered the ultimate panegyric (or would that be eulogy?) for the Sunday Morning Mouse Circus and its adoring audience.

No one does it better, and as an addition to my promoting of the exposure of the true nature and goals of Glenn BecKKK by Rachel Maddow, it couldn't be more fitting for my readers.

According to the collective wisdom of the Wise Men of the Mouse Circus, it turns out, Barack Obama will have to -- just have to! -- move to The Center, both substantively and symbolically, if he wants to get re-elected.

Shocking, I know.

He'll have to -- just have to! -- lower the top marginal tax rates.

He'll have to -- just have to! -- lower corporate taxes.

Then: Moar! Palin!

Because she's so Sincere!

Sure, she's also a vicious and utterly unqualified grifter, but she's so Real!

And we point cameras at her obsessively because you can never spend too much of America's mainstream political bandwidth huffing stupid straight from the bag.

Enjoy the memories!


"How It Really Is"

Abraham Lincoln

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it." 
- Abraham Lincoln 

Justin Raimondo, “A ‘Sustainable’ Empire?”

“A ‘Sustainable’ Empire?”
by Justin Raimondo

“If only people were chaining themselves to the White House fence to protest our outrageously extravagant military budget instead of demanding the right to join the armed forces of a country that spends more on “defense” than all other nations of the world combined. Ah well. We live in a highly imperfect world, a Bizarro World where up is down, morality is turned on its head, and common sense has fled. Oh, but there are certain compensations: we may be low on morality, but we’re high on technology. We have devices that can measure our madness down to the tenth percentile, such as this handy dandy interactive calculator published by the New York Times which challenges readers to balance the federal budget themselves.

This being the New York Times, the biases of the Establishment permeate the options we are presented with. For example, the very first option is cutting our $17 billion “foreign aid” budget – except that US outlays to foreign governments are far greater than that mere pittance. To get the real number, try multiplying that $17 billion by 100. The Times‘ figure doesn’t cover, say, aid to Pakistan, or the maintenance of US military bases abroad (which are subsidies to those governments, as well as our own military contractors and exporters).

Is the tremendous cost of propping up the Afghan “government” categorized as “foreign aid”? Of course not, that goes under the rubric of the Defense Department and dozens of other US government agencies. And the Times’ estimate of the costs of foreign aid don’t take into account the covert money pipeline stretching out from Washington to points all across the world: bribes, secret slush funds, black market funding funneled into black ops – not to mention the costs of training and equipping the administrative bureaucracy to maintain our far-flung colonies and protectorates, both at home and abroad. The multiple bureaucratic fiefdoms, mostly created during the cold war, which administer our foreign aid program – USAID, various Development Banks, propaganda outfits like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and special interest projects like the trans-Caspian “Great Silk Road” oil pipeline project, etc. – are themselves a drain on the public treasury that could be easily eliminated.

In addition, there are special cases, i.e. aid to Israel, the single biggest item in the official foreign aid budget. Unlike other countries feeding off the US gravy train, which get earmarked funds in quarterly installments, the Israelis get their loot all at once, and can spend it as they please, i.e. on subsidizing domestic industries instead of buying weapons from, say, the US (which is usually a condition of aid to the rest of our clients). When these factors are calculated into the equation, it’s clear the usual estimates of $3.5 billion a year, give or take a billion, are considerably underestimated.

Another option in the calculus of the Times‘ budget reduction equation is to “Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe,” a proposition embedded in a whole host of interventionist assumptions. One is that the size of the military before we foolishly invaded Iraq (and Afghanistan) wasn’t already bloated beyond any legitimate need for defending the continental United States. In any case, we are told that “This option, according to the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force, ‘would cap routine U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia at 100,000 personnel, which is 26 percent below the current level and 33 percent below the level planned for the future. All told, 50,000 personnel would be withdrawn.’ The option would also reduce the standing size of the military as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.”

Why do we need 100,000 troops in Europe – is Russia, an economic basket case whose population is rapidly shrinking, getting ready to invade Poland, annex Finland, and rebuild the Berlin Wall? As for the alleged “winding down” of the Iraq and Afghan wars, dream on, my friends, dream on…. We don’t need to station a single American soldier in Europe. Why should American taxpayers subsidize the “defense” of rich Western industrialized nations that aren’t under threat of conventional military attack in the first place?

I’ll tell you why: to subsidize the American military-industrial complex, which profits from the ever-expanding US empire – at taxpayers’ expense. This “sustainable” military budget – which would supposedly cut $25 billion in 2015 and $49 billion in 2030– wants to sustain the empire on the cheap. But America’s imperial delusions are the cause of her current predicament, and the very hubris that makes the Establishment blind to this reality is the core of the problem. Until and unless we give up the idea that we are the world’s policeman, we cannot and will not save ourselves from imminent bankruptcy.

Reducing our spending on the expansion of our nuclear arsenal – which already is large enough and deadly enough to kill every living thing on earth several times over – would also save us a pretty penny ($19 billion and $38 billion, in 2015 and 2030 respectively). But the paltry proposal described by the Times, which still operates within the defunct cold war paradigm, envisions merely reducing the number of nuclear weapons to 1,050, from 1,968, and making other relatively minor adjustments – relative, that is, to revising our strategic assumptions about the nature of war and the requirements of American national security in the twenty-first century.

Without challenging the central assumptions of cold war era nuclear strategy – the likelihood of a nuclear showdown between either the US and the Russians, or with some other nuclear-armed adversary on a par with us – we will never achieve true military and economic security. As the great Old Right polemicist Garet Garrett put it, “there is no security at the top of the world” – and the loss of our economic security is now and always has been the key to understanding why our global empire is America’s Achilles heel. If the Republicans are serious about cutting waste in our misnamed “defense” budget, they’ll approve the START treaty proposed by President Ronald Reagan, and start eliminating weapons that pose a deadly danger in a world where terrorism and not the Kremlin poses the main threat to our security. The less these radioactive monsters are laying around, the safer we’ll all be.

A proposal to reduce the battle fleet of our navy from 285 to 235 would save $19 billion and $24 billion in 2015 and 2030 respectively. Here, again, the globalist paradigm – which compels us to establish military commands for every section of the world, divvying up the world into provinces to be watched over by our armed forces – remains intact. This latter-day version of the Spanish Armada exists to project American power all over the world – that was the creed of the first American imperialists, Teddy Roosevelt and the adherents of Alfred Thayer Mahan, whose book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, was the bible of the expansionist faction at the turn of the twentieth century. Once we reject the idea of military expansionism, and refocus our foreign policy on the defense of America and legitimate American interests, the importance of sea power is translated into the primacy of commercial sea power.

No, we can do better than this – much better. Get rid of the regional commands: reorient our defense policy into one that puts America first, not the security of Japan or the territorial integrity of some godforsaken sheikdom. Another option, canceling or delaying new weapons projects – i.e. cutting pork barrel projects that not even the Pentagon wants – is a good idea, but no one really disagrees with this, and it’s only the beginning: $20 billion or so.

The biggest joke of all – if your sense of humor is on the ghoulish side – is the idea that we’re going to reduce the number of troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 by 2013. Presented as a valid factor to be included in our budget calculation, the fulfillment of this long-promised pledge by President Obama will save a whopping $86 billion and $169 billion in 2015 and 2030 respectively. There’s just one problem: it’s already been vetoed by the Obama administration, which is now telling us no troop drawdown in Afghanistan before 2014, and the troop reductions in Iraq are a) made up for by the increase in private contractors, and b) already delayed. Reducing the number of troops in those two theaters to 60,000 by 2015 will save another huge chunk: $51 billion and $149 billion. Unfortunately, the prospect of this happening – given the Obama administration’s current stance, and the globalist precepts at the core of our strategic vision – is near to nil.

Okay, so if we accept these cuts at face value, and ignore the politics involved, what do we come up with? In 2015, we cut the budget shortfall by $185 billion – almost by half. In 2030, it’s $315 billion. Still not enough – but it’s a start, and perhaps even politically possible. That is, if some Republicans will start applying their deficit hawkishness to their own party’s free-spending foreign policy hawks. Because no hawk can fly very far or very fast if it’s got the albatross of a huge national debt hung ’round its neck.

The problem isn’t “waste” in defense spending, it isn’t the corruption of foreign governments (and our own), and it isn’t pork barrel politics – although all of these are indeed problematic. The aforementioned are just spokes in a wheel whose central mechanism is our grandiose foreign policy of global intervention. Empire is a luxury we can no longer afford. When Americans wake up to that fact – and they are showing signs of doing so – we will have some hope. Until then, dark days lie ahead.”

“Two Cords of Wood – An Intimate Look at Unnecessary Foreclosure”

“Two Cords of Wood– 
An Intimate Look at Unnecessary Foreclosure”
by Thomas Cox

“Back in September, I was asked to give some unusual advice to a client. This woman, a resident of rural Northwestern Maine, wanted to know if she should buy the two cords of wood that she needed to heat her $48,000 home for the winter. I had previously told her that my bag of legal tricks was empty, and that I could not stop KeyBank from completing a foreclosure of its $28,000 second mortgage on her home. She was having trouble accepting the fact that it would really evict her, since she owed $50,000 on her first mortgage to a local bank, a loan on which she was current in her payments, which meant that KeyBank could recover nothing by foreclosing on its second mortgage. She told me again how, even though she had lost her job in the local paper mill, she had found other, but much lower, employment income and that she was able and willing to make reduced payments on the second mortgage. But KeyBank refused to accept reduced payments.

I had to tell my client that she should not buy the firewood, as I knew that it was planning an eviction within days. I had managed to penetrate the executive offices in Cleveland, Ohio, telling the “Executive Client Relations” person in the “Office of the President” how foolish it was to evict this woman, who had reduced income but a real willingness to devote as much of that as she could to continued second mortgage payments. The letter that I received in response told me how much KeyBank “valued” this woman as a client, how it “is committed to providing her with excellent service,” and how it regrets “any inconvenience or frustration your client may have experienced.” The letter closed by telling me, “[W]e appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns with quality and integrity.” That letter also told me that it was not willing to do anything at all to restructure this woman’s loan or to stop the eviction process.

After spending over $4,000 on foreclosure costs and legal fees, it purchased my client’s interest in the property at its foreclosure sale (there were no other bidders for this worthless second interest) and it did evict this woman from her home at the beginning of October. She is now living in the basement of her daughter’s house. Since the interest in this home that it purchased was still subject to the outstanding first mortgage, it then paid $50,000 to the first mortgage holder so that it could own full title to the property as it made plans to re-sell it. Thus, at this point it had over $54,000 invested in gaining full title to this property. Last week, KeyBank listed this property for sale for $44,000. It will surely net no more than $40,000, if it can sell it at all. This will leave the bank with a real cash loss of over $14,000, a woman living in her daughter’s basement who was willing to pay at least some level on her second mortgage, her community with an empty and devalued property in its midst, and a very sour taste for all of us who try to help these people.

Looking only at this loan and the personal situation of its borrower, KeyBank’s actions make no sense at all. However, along with all of the other major lenders and loan servicers in this foreclosure crisis, it does not look at these loans from a personal perspective. Everything is driven by “the numbers.” Those numbers tell financial institutions like KeyBank that it makes economic sense to avoid the costs of evaluating these loans on an individual basis. The numbers tell them not spend the money to pay employees to make individual decisions on whether a situation such as the one described here makes sense or whether ways can be found to work with the homeowner. KeyBank and the other large financial institutions and loan servicers do not care if they needlessly ruin the lives of some of their customers, as long as they can minimize the expense of dealing with their individual situations. The only “quality and integrity” that these institutions care about is the quality and integrity of their bottom lines.

I used to represent KeyBank back in my bank lawyer days. It grew out of purchases of two venerable old-line Maine banks with roots going back into the mid-1800s. Even as late as the 1990s, when I was representing KeyBank of Maine, it was still a “local bank.” There were bank officers assigned to dealing with loans such as this one who would make real human decisions on appropriate courses of action. Since these banks have gone national, they no longer care about how they hurt their individual customers, and they no longer care about the communities where those customers live. They are entirely willing to sacrifice a certain (and substantial) percentage of those customers on the altar of corporate profits. They can get away with this because they can lend money more cheaply then our local banks can — Federal monetary policies allow them to borrow money at a cheaper rate. Is this what we want from our Federal government?

Sadly, my advice to my client was correct. It was good that she did not waste her limited resources on the two cords of wood, as she no longer has a house to heat for the winter.”

The Economy: “Banks Should Face Bankruptcy, Just Like GM”

“Banks Should Face Bankruptcy, Just Like GM”
by Greg Hunter

“General Motors started trading publicly last week in what is being called one of Wall Street’s most successful Initial Public Offerings (IPO) in years. The automaker took in $20 billion selling newly minted shares of this iconic American company. That is only part of the $50 billion price tag in the bailout, but letting GM go under would have been far worse. Many were against the bailout.  I have been a proponent of saving GM from the beginning. The reason is simple. Unlike the big banks, GM (and Chrysler) makes something in this country. Saving GM was not pretty or easy because the bailout, also, came with a bankruptcy. High ranking company executives and workers alike were fired.  Bondholders, shareholders and creditors took massive hits. Even the unions gave large concessions, although they should have been forced to take a bigger hit. Unions (unsecured creditors) got more than the bondholders (secured creditors), and that was one of the truly ugly parts of the deal.  However, in the end, GM was saved from the scrap heap of history and so were a couple hundred thousand jobs.  This does not mean GM has clear sailing from here on out, but it does have a better than average chance to weather any future storm.   

What happened to GM is exactly what should happen to the big banks.  America’s largest financial institutions have not been fixed. They are still floating in a sea of red ink, phony government sanctioned accounting, and free, seemingly endless, bailout money. Barry Ritholtz, Chief Market Strategist for an institutional research firm called Fusion IQ, says the GM bankruptcy/bailout was “the single best decision of the bailout era.” On his “The Big Picture” website last week, Ritholtz said, “It seemed to be the only decision that was not made in a panic. It adhered to the rules of capitalism — when your company is insolvent, it goes into reorganization or dissolution. The brutal, Darwinian rules of the market and of bankruptcy applied — not the influence of lobbyists, or special favors from Senators. The Treasury Secretary’s former gig was not running an auto company, he ran a Wall Street bank — so there could be no special favors expected to come from that quarter either.”  In short, the plan worked! 

When it comes to the big banks, Ritholtz says, “Instead of letting insolvent banks fail, we turned over the keys to the castle. We could have fired the incompetent management that caused the problems — but most of these execs are still in the same highly placed positions in their firms. In terms of senior personnel, the industry is literally unchanged. Bad debt? Still on the books. Sufficient capital? Many years away. Business model? The same highly leveraged reckless strategy that got them into trouble in the first place...” (Click here to read the complete Ritholtz post.)  

Unlike GM, most of the big banks didn’t just make bad business decisions or produce an inferior product, they engaged in all sorts of financial fraud according to former bank regulator and economics professor William Black. In an Op-Ed article he wrote for the Huffington Post, he said, “The banks that are foreclosing on fraudulently originated mortgages frequently cannot produce legitimate documents and have committed “fraud in the inducement.” Now, only fraud will let them take the homes. Many of the required documents do not exist, and those that do exist would provide proof of the fraud that was involved in loan origination, securitization, and marketing. This in turn would allow investors to force the banks to buy-back the fraudulent securities. Foreclosure fraud is the only thing standing between the banks and Armageddon.” 

Black thinks we should, also, put many of the big banks into bankruptcy starting with the weakest–Bank of America. In his October article, he said, “...it is time to place the financial institutions that committed widespread fraud in receivership. We should remove the senior leadership of the banks and replace them with experienced bankers with a reputation for integrity and competence, i.e., the honest officers that quit or were fired because they refused to engage in fraud. We should prioritize the receiverships to deal with the worst known “control frauds” among the “systemically dangerous institutions.” (Click here to read the complete HP article Black co-wrote.) By the way, during the aftermath of the savings and loan crisis in the early 90’s, more than a thousand financial elites were successfully prosecuted, according to Black. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, not a single financial elite has been indicted or convicted.   

Trillions of dollars have been wasted already bailing out the banking system, and nothing has been fixed.  The banks are as insolvent as ever while Wall Street pay is hitting new all-time records. This is happening against a backdrop of a plunging economy. It appears the greedy, incompetent and crooked bankers are taking as much out of America as possible before their day of reckoning. The banks cannot escape their fate. It is controlled bankruptcy now or uncontrolled bankruptcy later, but bankruptcy it will be. Let’s pray it will not turn into a financial “Armageddon.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"

"The Second Coming"

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

- William Butler Yeats, January 1919

"Change"- Welcome One Fly and k.sequoia!

Please welcome out newest contributing author/bloggers, One Fly and k.sequoia. Each brings unique viewpoints and perspectives of enormous benefit to us all. Welcome, folks!

Aldous Huxley

“There are things known and there are things unknown,
 and in between are the doors of perception”
- Aldous Huxley 

Archaeology: “Neolithic Europe and the Middle East Were Equally Advanced”

“Neolithic Europe and the Middle East Were Equally Advanced”
by articlesafari

“The existence of an original civilization on the continent of Europe which predates the civilizations in the Middle East, has to a large degree been ignored by traditional history writers, particularly those who wrote during the dominant Christian era in Europe. This was largely because of a biblical Judeo-Christian bias which held that all civilization started exclusively in the Near East (the biblical Old Testament deals exclusively with events in the Middle East). This is not an accurate reflection of the facts, as in many parts of northern and western Europe relatively advanced societies were in existence either before or simultaneously with the Mesopotamian or Egyptian civilizations.
Bosnian pyramid.

While it is most certainly true that the great cities and states in the near and Middle East were towering achievements, it is incorrect to regard them as the only flowering of civilization in the world at that time. There are many huge buildings – called megaliths – and early Neolithic settlements, artifacts and burial sites and even writing, which show that the inhabitants of Europe were advanced in the evolution of their societies and culture.

Cereal grain farms were (re)established in central Europe by 8000 BC (almost simultaneous with the Mesopotamian “Fertile Crescent” River Valley crop cultivation) with some of the best preserved farming settlements in France and Britain have been positively dated as being in existence prior to 4000 BC. Significantly, copper working had been established in the Balkans by the year 5000 BC – some 2000 years before the first civilization in the Mesopotamian River Valley.

In Neolithic Europe, where wood was abundant, rectangular timber houses were constructed. Some had two rooms and even gabled roofs. Remains found in Switzerland dating from around 5000 BC show that even on soft, swampy ground, the builders were able to erect houses by first laying down wooden foundations or on piles going deep into the ground. By the year 5000 BC, Neolithic settlements had taken on the form of established villages, towns and in a few cases, even cities, scattered throughout Europe, western and southern Russia.

These early Neolithic farmers cultivated cereals, and kept domesticated animals such as pigs, cattle and dogs. Farms were established across the European continent, with some of the best preserved sites being found in Ireland. Their tools and hunting weapons were mostly made of flint, and their houses of timber. Clothes were made of leather, and there is also evidence of weaving. Other small implements were made of antler and bone, and they have left many examples of fairly sophisticated pottery.

In many parts of Europe, the longest lasting remnants of this era are the megaliths (“large stones”) which may have had some religious or recreational purpose. Massive blocks of stone, and sometimes wood, were moved great distances and erected in chosen areas throughout Europe, from Britain right across the continent, some even as far as the Black Sea – in Southern Russia – a stupendous achievement. The most famous of these megalith sites is Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. The “Lux et Orient” or “All light comes from the East” dogma which Christianity introduced, held that all progress and civilization came from the Middle East. With accurate dating methods and intensified archeological research, it has now been shown that advanced civilizations flourished in Europe, sometimes thousands of years before similar technological advances were made in the Middle East.

The Bosnian Pyramid, Visocica Hill, is the first European pyramid to be discovered and is located in the heart of Bosnia, in the town of Visoko. The pyramid has all the elements: four perfectly shaped slopes pointing toward the cardinal points, a flat top and an entrance complex. Because of its similarities to the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico, it has been named the “Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun”. There are also a four more ancient structures on the site, the Bosnian Pyramid of the Moon, Bosnian Pyramid of the Dragon, Bosnian Pyramid of the Love and Temple of the Earth, with a paved entrance plateau and discovered underground tunnels.”

Blaise Pascal

“We do not rest satisfied with the present. We anticipate the future as too slow in coming, as if in order to hasten its course; or we recall the past, to stop its too rapid flight. So imprudent are we that we wander in the times which are not ours and do not think of the only one which belongs to us; and so idle are we that we dream of those times which are no more and thoughtlessly overlook that which alone exists. For the present is generally painful to us. We conceal it from our sight, because it troubles us; and, if it be delightful to us, we regret to see it pass away. We try to sustain it by the future and think of arranging matters which are not in our power, for a time which we have no certainty of reaching.

Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.”
- Blaise Pascal

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters. Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away, the Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster is well-known for its striking blue reflection nebulae.
Click image for larger size.

This remarkable wide-field (3 degree) image of the region shows the famous star cluster near the center, while highlighting lesser known dusty reflection nebulas nearby, across an area that would span over 20 light-years. In this case, the sister stars and cosmic dust clouds are not related, they just happen to be passing through the same region of space.”

Chet Raymo, “Cosmic View”

“Cosmic View”
by Chet Raymo

“When writing about Philip and Phylis Morrison's “Powers of Ten” the other day I found I had made the following notation in the flyleaf, perhaps a dozen or more years ago:
32 volumes
1000 pages per vol
1200 words per page
5 letters/wd
=200 million letters

So, 200 million letters in the 32 volume set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Why was I making that estimate? I can think of several possibilities. Perhaps…

1. I was making a comparison with the number of nucleotide pairs in the human DNA; that is, the number of steps - ATTGCCCTAA, etc. - on the double-helix. If the information on the human genome - an arm's length of DNA in every human cell - were written out in ordinary type, it would fill 15 sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Nearly 500 thick volumes of information labeled YOU.

Think of that for a moment. Fifteen 32-volume sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica in every invisibly-small cell of your body. And every time a cell reproduces, all of that information has to be transcribed correctly. Did I say the other day that it took a semester to stretch the imagination to grasp the universe of the galaxies? It could take another semester to stretch the imagination to grasp the scale of the molecular machinery that makes our bodies work.

Or maybe…

2. I was trying to give an insight into the complexity of the human brain. There are something like 100 billion nerve cells in the brain. That's equivalent to the number of letters in 500 sets of the Britannica! Each many-fingered neuron connects to hundreds of other neurons, and each synaptic connection might be in one of many levels of excitation. I'll let you calculate the number of potential states of the human brain. We've left behind the realm of Britannica. Even talking of libraries would be insufficient.

I was marveling here recently about the amount of digital memory Google must command to store all of those 360-degree Street View images from all over the planet, all of it instantly retrievable by anyone with access to a computer and the internet. I imagined banks and banks of electronics in some cavernous building in California. Big deal! I'm sitting here right now in the college Commons and I can bring to mind street views of every place I've lived since I was three or four years old.

By the way…

3. The number of letters in 500 sets of the Britannica is about the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.


Veterans: Soviets in Afghanistan - Programmes - Al Jazeera English

Veterans: Soviets in Afghanistan - Programmes - Al Jazeera English

H. L. Mencken

"For every complex problem there is an
 answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." 
H. L. Mencken 

Does Life Found in Deepest Ocean Study Show Bacterial Life On Mars Possible?”

“Does Life Found in Deepest Ocean Study Show
 Bacterial Life On Mars Possible?”
By Alton Parrish

"The first study to ever explore biological activity in the deepest layer of ocean crust has found bacteria with a remarkable range of capabilities, including eating hydrocarbons and natural gas, and "fixing" or storing carbon. The research, just published in the journal "PLoS One," showed that a significant number and amount of bacterial forms were present, even in temperatures near the boiling point of water. "This is a new ecosystem that almost no one has ever explored," said Martin Fisk, a professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. "We expected some bacterial forms, but the long list of biological functions that are taking place so deep beneath the Earth is surprising."

Oceanic crust covers about 70 percent of the surface of the Earth and its geology has been explored to some extent, but practically nothing is known about its biology – partly because it's difficult and expensive, and partly because most researchers had assumed not all that much was going on. The temperature of the sediments and rock increases with depth, and scientists now believe that the upper temperature at which life can exist is around 250 degrees. The ocean floor is generally composed of three levels, including a shallow layer of sediment; basalt formed from solidified magma; and an even deeper level of basalt that cooled more slowly and is called the "gabbro" layer, which forms the majority of ocean crust.

The gabbro layer doesn't even begin until the crust is about two miles thick. But at a site in the Atlantic Ocean near an undersea mountain, the Atlantis Massif, core samples were obtained from gabbro rock formations that were closer to the surface than usual because they had been uplifted and exposed by faulting. This allowed the researchers to investigate for the first time the microbiology of these rocks. A research expedition drilled more than 4,600 feet into this formation, into rock that was very deep and very old, and found a wide range of biological activity. Microbes were degrading hydrocarbons, some appeared to be capable of oxidizing methane, and there were genes active in the process of fixing, or converting from a gas, both nitrogen and carbon.

The findings are of interest, in part, because little is known about the role the deep ocean crust may play in carbon storage and fixation. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas when in the atmosphere, in turn raise the levels of carbon dioxide in the oceans. But it now appears that microbes in the deep ocean crust have at least a genetic potential for carbon storage, the report said. And it may lend credence to one concept for reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere, by pumping carbon dioxide into deep subsurface layers where it might be sequestered permanently.

The researchers also noted that methane found on Mars could be derived from geological sources, and concluded that subsurface environments on Mars where methane is produced could support bacteria like those found in this study. "These findings don't offer any easy or simple solutions to some of the environmental issues that are of interest to us on Earth, such as greenhouse warming or oil spill pollution," Fisk said. "However, they do indicate there's a whole world of biological activity deep beneath the ocean that we don't know much about, and we need to study." Microbial processes in this expansive subseafloor environment "have the potential to significantly influence the biogeochemistry of the ocean and the atmosphere," the researchers wrote in their report.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. Collaborators were from OSU, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Tohoku University in Japan, Universitat Bremen in Germany, University of Oklahoma, and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan."