Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Economy: "Sympathy for the Luddites"

"Sympathy for the Luddites"
by Paul Krugman

"In 1786, the cloth workers of Leeds, a wool-industry center in northern England, issued a protest against the growing use of “scribbling” machines, which were taking over a task formerly performed by skilled labor. “How are those men, thus thrown out of employ to provide for their families?” asked the petitioners. “And what are they to put their children apprentice to?”

 Those weren’t foolish questions. Mechanization eventually — that is, after a couple of generations — led to a broad rise in British living standards. But it’s far from clear whether typical workers reaped any benefits during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution; many workers were clearly hurt. And often the workers hurt most were those who had, with effort, acquired valuable skills — only to find those skills suddenly devalued.

So are we living in another such era? And, if we are, what are we going to do about it?

Until recently, the conventional wisdom about the effects of technology on workers was, in a way, comforting. Clearly, many workers weren’t sharing fully — or, in many cases, at all — in the benefits of rising productivity; instead, the bulk of the gains were going to a minority of the work force. But this, the story went, was because modern technology was raising the demand for highly educated workers while reducing the demand for less educated workers. And the solution was more education.

Now, there were always problems with this story. Notably, while it could account for a rising gap in wages between those with college degrees and those without, it couldn’t explain why a small group — the famous “one percent” — was experiencing much bigger gains than highly educated workers in general. Still, there may have been something to this story a decade ago.

Today, however, a much darker picture of the effects of technology on labor is emerging. In this picture, highly educated workers are as likely as less educated workers to find themselves displaced and devalued, and pushing for more education may create as many problems as it solves.

I’ve noted before that the nature of rising inequality in America changed around 2000. Until then, it was all about worker versus worker; the distribution of income between labor and capital — between wages and profits, if you like — had been stable for decades. Since then, however, labor’s share of the pie has fallen sharply. As it turns out, this is not a uniquely American phenomenon. A new report from the International Labor Organization points out that the same thing has been happening in many other countries, which is what you’d expect to see if global technological trends were turning against workers.

And some of those turns may well be sudden. The McKinsey Global Institute recently released a report on a dozen major new technologies that it considers likely to be “disruptive,” upsetting existing market and social arrangements. Even a quick scan of the report’s list suggests that some of the victims of disruption will be workers who are currently considered highly skilled, and who invested a lot of time and money in acquiring those skills. For example, the report suggests that we’re going to be seeing a lot of “automation of knowledge work,” with software doing things that used to require college graduates. Advanced robotics could further diminish employment in manufacturing, but it could also replace some medical professionals.

So should workers simply be prepared to acquire new skills? The woolworkers of 18th-century Leeds addressed this issue back in 1786: “Who will maintain our families, whilst we undertake the arduous task” of learning a new trade? Also, they asked, what will happen if the new trade, in turn, gets devalued by further technological advance? And the modern counterparts of those woolworkers might well ask further, what will happen to us if, like so many students, we go deep into debt to acquire the skills we’re told we need, only to learn that the economy no longer wants those skills?

Education, then, is no longer the answer to rising inequality, if it ever was (which I doubt).

So what is the answer? If the picture I’ve drawn is at all right, the only way we could have anything resembling a middle-class society — a society in which ordinary citizens have a reasonable assurance of maintaining a decent life as long as they work hard and play by the rules — would be by having a strong social safety net, one that guarantees not just health care but a minimum income, too. And with an ever-rising share of income going to capital rather than labor, that safety net would have to be paid for to an important extent via taxes on profits and/or investment income.

I can already hear conservatives shouting about the evils of “redistribution.” But what, exactly, would they propose instead?”

“Washington Is Driving The World Towards The Final War”

“Washington Is Driving The World Towards The Final War”
By Paul Craig Roberts

“V For Vendetta,” a film that portrays evil in a futuristic England as a proxy for the evil that exists today in America, ends with the defeat of evil. But this is a movie in which the hero has super powers. If you have not seen this film, you should watch it. It might wake you up and give you courage. This shows that, at least among some filmmakers, the desire for liberty still exists.

Whether the desire for liberty exists in America remains to be seen. If Americans can overcome their gullibility, their lifelong brainwashing, their propensity to believe every lie that “their” government tells them, and if Americans can escape the Matrix in which they live, they can reestablish the morality, justice, peace, freedom, and liberty that “their” government has taken from them. It is not impossible for Americans to again stand with uplifted heads. They only have to recognize that “their” government is the enemy of truth, justice, human rights and life itself.

Can mere ordinary Americans triumph over the evil that is “their” government without the aid of a superhero? If ideas are strong enough and Americans can comprehend them, good can prevail over the evil that is concentrated in Washington. What stands between the American people and their comprehension of evil is their gullibility.

If good fails in its battle with Washington’s evil, our future is a boot stamping on the human face forever.

If you, an American, living in superpower America lack the courage to stand up to the evil that is “your” government, perhaps the courage of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and tiny Ecuador will give you heart.

A US senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Ecuadoran government that he would block the import of vegetables and flowers from Ecuador if Ecuador gives asylum to Edward Snowden. The cost to Ecuador would be one billion dollars in lost revenues. Menendez’s statement–”Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior”–is ironic. It equates bad behavior with protecting a truth-teller and good behavior with betraying a truth-teller. Menendez’s statement is also a lie. The US government onlyrewards bad behavior. The US government consistently rewards those who conspireagainst the elected governments of their own countries, setting them up as dictators when Washington overthrows the elected governments.

Menendez’s threat did not work, but the senator did succeed in delivering yet another humiliating blow to Washington’s prestige. The Ecuadoran President, Rafael Correa, beat Menendez to the punch and cancelled the trade pact with the US on the grounds that the pact was a threat to the sovereignty of Ecuador and to moral principles and was being used by Washington to blackmail Ecuador. “Ecuador doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anyone,” added Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado who then offered Washington foreign aid to provide human rights training to combat torture, illegal executions and attacks on peoples’ privacy.

Washington, exposed with its hand in the cookie jar devouring the privacy of the entire world and prevented by its hubris from acknowledging its illegal behavior and apologizing, has so mishandled the Snowden affair that Washington has done far more damage to itself than occurred from Snowden’s revelations. Washington has proven conclusively that it has no respect for anyone’s human rights, that it has no respect for any country’s sovereignty, that it has no respect for any moral principles, especially those it most often mouths, and that it relies on coercion and violence alone. The rest of the world now knows who its enemy is.

Washington’s presstitutes, by helping Washington demonize Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Manning, Assange, and Ecuador, have demonstrated to the world that the US media is devoid of integrity and that nothing it reports can be believed. The US print and TV media and NPR comprise a ministry of propaganda for Washington’s immoral agendas.

On June 24, the Stasi State’s favorite whore, the Washington Post, denounced three times democratically-elected Rafael Correa as “the autocratic leader of tiny, impoverished Ecuador,” without realizing that the editorial not only demonstrated the Washington Post’s lack of any ethics whatsoever but also showed the entire world that if “tiny, impoverished Ecuador” can stand up to Washington’s threats, so can the rest of the world. President Correa replied that the Washington Post “managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the ‘wicked’ countries that support him, making us forget the terrible things against the US people and the whole world that he denounced.” Correa added that Washington’s “world order isn’t only unjust, it’s immoral.”

The reason Washington hates Correa has nothing to do with Snowden. That Ecuador is considering asylum for Snowden is just an excuse. Correa is hated, because in the second year of his first term he repudiated the $3 billion dollar foreign debt that corrupt and despotic prior regimes had been paid to contract with international finance. Correa’s default threat forced the international financial gangsters to write down the debt by 60 percent.

Washington also hates Correa because he has been successful in reducing the high rates of poverty in Ecuador, thus building public support that makes if difficult for Washington to overthrow him from within. Yet another reason Washington hates Correa is because he took steps against the multinational oil companies’ exploitation of Ecuador’s oil resources and limited the amount of offshore deposits in the country’s banks in order to block Washington’s ability to destabilize Ecuador’s financial system. Washington also hates Correa for refusing to renew Washington’s lease of the air base in Manta.

Essentially, Correa has fought to take control of Ecuador’s government, media and national resources out of Washington’s hands and the hands of the small rich elite allied with Washington. It is a David vs. Goliath story. In other words, Correa, like Venezuela’s Chevez, is the rare foreign leader who represents the interests of his own country instead of Washington’s interest.

Washington uses the various corrupt NGOs and the puppet government in Colombia as weapons against Correa and the Ecuadoran government. Many believe that it is only a matter of time before Washington succeeds in assassinating Correa.

American patriots, who feel that they should be on “their” government’s side regardless of the facts, would do well to remember what true patriotism is. For Americans, patriotism has always meant allegiance to the Constitution, not to the government. The oath is to defend the Constitution against enemies domestic and foreign. The Bush and Obama regimes have proven themselves to be the Constitution’s worst enemies. It is not possible for a true patriot to support a government that destroys the Constitution.

The United States is the Constitution. Our country is not the Obama regime, the Bush regime, or some other administration. Our country is the Constitution. The Constitution is our country.

Beyond obligations to one’s own country, all humans have a responsibility to human life itself. Washington’s puppet states, such as the NATO countries, Japan, and Colombia, by providing cover and support for Washington’s aggression are enabling Washington to drive the world into World War III.

The temptation of Washington’s money easily overwhelms weak characters such as Tony Blair and David Cameron. But the governments of NATO countries and other accommodating states are not only selling out their own peoples by supporting Washington’s wars of aggression, they are selling out humanity. Washington’s hubris and arrogance grow as Washington bumps off country after country. Sooner or later Russia and China, will realize that they themselves are targets and will draw firmer lines. Arrogance will prevent Washington from acknowledging the lines, and the final war will be launched.

Washington’s hegemonic impulse is driving the world to destruction. The peoples of the world should realize this and force their governments to stop enabling Washington’s aggression.”
"World War 3 Unsurvivable" 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gerald Celente, “Trends In The News 6/26/13”

 Gerald Celente, “Trends In The News 6/26/13”

Greg Hunter, "Weekly News Wrap-Up 6.28.13"

"Weekly News Wrap-Up 6.28.13"
By Greg Hunter’s

"Russia is still holding NSA leaker Edward Snowden. This is a major embarrassment to the Obama Administration on many levels. On the first level, why couldn’t Snowden come forward to let America know about this spy program?  Many say this kind of spying has been known for years. Before the whole Snowden story broke, UMKC Professor William Black said on six weeks ago, “This administration, very early on, became an enemy of disclosure.  It hates whistleblowers with a passion.” How sad is it that China and Russia are protecting a whistleblower? The NSA says Snowden has harmed the U.S. Really? How about money laundering for countries on the State Department terror list? Big banks have been paying fines and nothing else for doing just that. Isn’t laundering money for Iran, who funds Hezbollah, hurting America? How about the U.S. government arming al-Qaeda in Syria?

The Federal Reserve was taking great pains to back-pedal on what Fed Chief Bernanke hinted at last week–slowing down the money printing. The Fed calls this “tapering.” Many top Fed officials were on record this week saying the markets basically got it wrong and misinterpreted what Mr. Bernanke said. I say the market got it right, and the 1,000 point drop on the Dow was just a test run. Nothing is fixed in the economy. When rates rise, the markets will crack. Banking expert Meredith Whitney said this week she is worried about the effect of rising rates on the municipal bond market. Investing expert Jim Rickards says the Fed is going to have to increase the money printing, and that is going to send gold prices back up. Why? Because the economy stinks, and the Fed knows it can’t pull back or the whole thing comes crashing down.

The Senate passed an immigration bill by a wide margin.  The “No” votes say it does not fix border security. It will never pass the House of Representatives unless it does.

 The Supreme Court handed down rulings on gay marriage and voting rights. The court basically cleared the way for gay marriage by reversing the Defense of Marriage Act and struck down a provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. I think the court got them both right.

Finally, remember the big universal settlement for what the mainstream media called “Robo-Signing” in the mortgage debacle? Well, “Robo-Signing” was really forgery and perjury and fraud on the court. Big banks illegally foreclosed on millions of houses and were going to pay homeowners back billions as part of the settlement. You know what the big banks paid most of the people they ripped off? $300, that’s it. Now, that’s what I call government of the bankers by the bankers and for the bankers. 

Join Greg Hunter as he gives his analysis on these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"A Look to the Heavens"

"If not perfect, then this spiral galaxy is at least one of the most photogenic. An island universe of about 100 billion stars, 32 million light-years away toward the constellation Pisces, M74 presents a gorgeous face-on view. Classified as an Sc galaxy, the grand design of M74's graceful spiral arms are traced by bright blue star clusters and dark cosmic dust lanes. 
 Click image for larger size.
The above image covers half the width of the full Moon and was obtained using 19 hours of exposure on the 1.23-meter telescope at Calar Alto Observatory in the Sierra de Los Filabres mountain range in Spain. Spanning about 30,000 light-years across the face of M74, it includes exposures recording emission from hydrogen atoms, highlighting the reddish glow of the galaxy's large star-forming regions."

Chet Raymo, “Nature Loves To Hide”

“Nature Loves To Hide”
by Chet Raymo

"A rainbow. Pretty to look at. But what do you see? The arc of a perfect circle. Pure geometry.

Think about how seldom we see pure geometric forms in nature. Rivers never run straight and true. Nature draws straight lines reluctantly. Circles? The sun and moon. I look out my window at a broad panorama or earth, sea and sky, and I see not a single shape or line that might be found in a geometry book.

In the "Timaeus", Plato suggested that behind the manifestly ungeometrical higgledy-piggledy of nature there lay a hidden world of geometrical atoms. It was a prescient insight, but led nowhere at the time. Kepler hoped to explain the spacing of the planets with nested Platonic solids- spheres, cubes, tetrahedra, etc.- but it turned out to be a bit of a wild goose chase. When Galileo rolled balls downed inclined planes and measured distances and times, a parabola winked in his data. Plato was right! It wasn't long before mathematical regularities started showing up everywhere. The book of nature really is written in the language of mathematics.

But how closely nature hides that secret. I look out the window and I don't see a hint of it. Then- the rainbow appears in the sky...

Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, "The Tavern" (Excerpt)

"All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there. Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks. I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way. Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home."

- Rumi, "The Tavern," Ch. 1:, p. 2, from "The Essential Rumi"

The Daily "Near You?"

Miles City, Montana, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"People Who Don’t Get It: Living with It"

 "People Who Don’t Get It: Living with It"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"When dealing with people who seem very unaware, remember that everyone must find their own way to awakening. You may be someone who understands the true nature of reality, perceiving deeply that we all emanate from the same source, that we are all essentially one, and that we are here on earth to love one another. To understand this is to be awakened to the true nature of the self, and it is a blessing. Nevertheless, people who just don’t get it are seemingly everywhere and, often, in positions of power. It can be frustrating and painful to watch them behave unconsciously. We all encounter individuals of this bent in our families, at work, and in all areas of public life. It is easy to find ourselves feeling intolerant of these people, wishing we could be free of them even though we know that separation from them is an illusion.

It helps sometimes to think of us all as different parts of one psyche. Just as within our own hearts and minds we have dark places that need healing, the heart and mind of the world has its dark places. The health of the whole organism depends upon the relative health of the individuals within it. We increase harmony when we hold onto the light, not allowing it to be darkened by judgment, anger, and fear about those who behave unconsciously. It’s easier to accomplish this if we don’t focus on the negative qualities of individuals and instead focus on how increasing our own light will increase the light of the overall picture.

When dealing with people who seem very unconscious, it helps to remember that every one must find their own way to awakening and that the experiences they are having are an essential part of their process. Holding them in the light of our own energy may be the best way to awaken theirs. At the same time, we are inspired by their example to look within and shed light on our own unconscious places, sacrificing the urge to judge and surrendering instead to humble self-inquiry."

"10 Ways Over-Thinking Destroys Your Happiness"

"10 Ways Over-Thinking Destroys Your Happiness"
by Peggy Nolan

"Have you ever been stuck over-thinking something that happened or something you think will happen only to get your knickers in a bunch? I know I have! This over-thinking thing keeps most of us stuck. It keeps us rooted in fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It's a major contributor to the FUD factor and a huge reason why most people can't find their happy.

I don't know about you, but my over-thinking habit robbed me of my own happiness and joy. If I could put my finger on it, I'd say the trigger for breaking up with this soul-sucking, life-leeching habit over 10 years ago was when I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had headaches, IBS, and that God awful pit in my stomach that never seemed to go away. To make matters worse, I was in a toxic relationship (even though I didn't know it at the time) that made my over-thinking monkey mind spin out of control. I was on my own crazy-go-round 24/7. When life as I knew it ended after my first marriage imploded, I gave up soda, coffee, and over-thinking. (For a while, I gave up men, but that's another story!)

Here are 10 ways over-thinking destroys your happiness. Leave a comment and let me know if you can think of other ways over-thinking is a buzz kill.

    • Over-thinking a problem will keep any problem a problem, which will keep you stuck inside the same problem until you quit thinking about it.

    • Over-thinking a situation will make the situation worse in direct proportion to the time and energy you spend over-thinking it.

    • Over-thinking anything prevents your creative problem solving skills from bubbling up.

   • Over-thinking makes you worry, and worry is nothing more than your imagination concocting a negative future state.

    • Over-thinking is a time suck -- you're so busy in a negative future state or negative past situation (which you can't change) that you completely forget about right here right now.

    • Over-thinking robs you of energy that could be better focused on things that are worthy of your attention.

    • Over-thinking leads you to second guessing yourself and creates self-doubt.

    • Over-thinking is a TNT drama that occurs on a stage, inside your head, where you are the director, producer, actor, actress, supporting cast, key grip, sound manager, and executive assistant to the executive assistant of the casting director.

    • Over-thinking fabricates problems and gory "what if" horror stories.

    • Over-thinking creates heightened feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, fear, doubt, indecision, confusion, etc., as if whatever you are over-thinking is happening in real life.

When you break up with over-thinking it's like writing your own "get out of jail free" card. It doesn't cost you anything to end your relationship with the drama inside your head. You can decide to focus on things in the present that are deserving of your time and attention whenever you choose. The here and now is calling... will you answer?”
By all means, DO think things through, but once having analyzed the situation and the facts, drawn your own conclusions and a course of action, let it go! - CP

"How It Really Is"

“The Courage To Meet Eddie”

 “The Courage To Meet Eddie”
By Alex Noble

"Life, like good theater, is full of surprises and unexpected twists in the plot. How satisfying it is when we can surprise ourselves, break through "stereotypes," and move beyond fear to embrace more compassionate points of view. I experienced this on a recent trip to Los Angeles.

I drove into the city at sunset, into the older part of downtown where turn-of-the-century office buildings barely hold their own against the rising tide of urban decay.  As the sun gilded skyscrapers, broken neon signs flickered in the windows of delicatessens and novelty shops on Spring Street. Old newspapers blew up and down the sidewalks, fluttering like wounded birds in debris-laden corners. Winos and addicts slumped against buildings or lay down on the sidewalk to catch a few moments of merciful sleep. Drugs were being sold on the street corners. Disoriented men and women wandered listlessly about, some of them shouting, some of them just  staring blankly ahead. An old woman pushed a broken-down supermarket cart filled with faded clothes and torn shopping bags. A tired-looking man held up a sign scrawled on cardboard: "Will work for food." Shiny BMW's and Mercedes whispered through the darkening streets, bearing tired executives home to well-watered gardens.

I was early, and the parking lot next to the theater was still almost empty. A bored-looking attendant stood by the gate to keep the homeless and drunks from accosting the arriving theatergoers. A restless, warm wind tossed newspapers in front of my car.

An angry-looking man in a black coat three sizes too large for him shuffled by, trying to get the attention of anyone who might listen to his litany of complaints about the government. I felt uncomfortable and looked forward to getting inside the marble foyer of the theater, and then into the performance itself.  There, for a few hours, we the audience would suspend our disbelief and enter into an imaginary world where we would laugh and cry and be entertained. For a few hours, we would forget our own problems and the problems of the world, which in this immediate area appeared to be a vivid reality of suffering that pressed upon one at every turn.

I drove to the back of the lot and parked, dreading the walk to the theater entrance, haunted by questions. Should I hand out dollar bills to those in need? Should I stop and try to talk if someone seemed rational?  Should I carry a supply a supply of Salvation Army meal tickets for occasions like this?

I gathered my courage and got out of the car. As I locked the door, I heard a voice calling to me. "Hey, can you spare some change?" I froze with dread and looked up. On the other side of the 10-foot chain-link fence I saw a man. His hands gripped the wire. His head was shrouded in the navy-blue hood of a stained, torn jacket. Suddenly I was painfully aware of my glistening car and colorful clothes. I felt frightened and awkward, even with the fence separating us. Was I in danger? Did he have a gun? Was he going to shout at me, ask questions I could not answer, make me feel guilty for having so much when there are so many who have so little?

I saw in my mind's eye a sunset scene from the airport in Jakarta, where the plane I was on had stopped to refuel.  There was a similar fence, but against that fence hundred of people crowded, looking hostile, saying with their eyes and in a language I could not understand. "You are the enemy. We do not want you here. Go home." Even with the fence as a barrier between us, I could feel the hatred, and I felt helpless to do anything about it except send back thoughts of peace, respect, and compassion.

Now I had a choice. I could turn and walk away. I could move closer, perhaps say a kind word. The man called again, "Hey, Beam!" I was startled for a moment, but then I realized that he could see my license place, "BEAM 1."  "Hey, Beam, I need to eat. Can you help me out?"

A force larger than my intellect or my sense of danger drew me toward the fence. I was painfully aware that the total cost of what I was wearing could feed this man for several months. I kept my eyes on the ground. I seemed to be moving slowly, as if in a dream, wanting to help but not knowing how, my feet feeling heavy yet moving ahead anyway.

I reached the fence and looked up. I looked first, as the stained hands holding onto the fence, then I looked into the eyes. They were kind, even friendly. The man smiled a shy smile. "What's your name?" I asked. My feet felt lighter. My fear hung in the air between us. In my imagination, I watched it evaporate, like a cloud of steam.

"Eddie," he replied. I handed him a $10 bill.  "Get yourself a good dinner, Eddie." "Thanks, Beam.  I really appreciate this." I felt tears trembling behind my eyelids, and I turned to walk away. "You be good, Eddie," I said over my shoulder.

In two minutes, I was in the crowded theater lobby, threading my way through well-dressed theatergoers. I was detached, remembering Eddie's kind eyes, his hands holding the fence, his playful smile. I realized, with some sadness, that it was quite possible I'd just given an addict the money for his next hit of crack or worse, and I did not feel very good about this. The play began, and for three hours I disappeared into a mythic world of illusion, transformation, and redemption. The basic message:  Within every dragon is a princess, and within every inferno there is a paradise, if we know what to look for and if we have the eyes and the heart to see.

I found myself thinking kind thoughts about Eddie, sending him kindness in the night, knowing all was well with him. As I left the theater, there was a gathering of rumpled, untidy street people at the theater entrance. Some people stopped to visit with them, give them a few dollars. Others walked by, lost in their own worlds. By the time I got to the parking lot, many of the cars had left, and the attendant was no longer there.

As I walked to the back of the lot to get to my car, I noticed a man, leaning against the fence, right where Eddie had been, and my heart froze. I stopped. The man called out: "Hey, Beam, come here a minute."

I felt as though I had no choice.  My humanity, compassion, or maybe just sheer craziness would not let me turn away.  I walked to the fence and looked Eddie in the eyes, those kind brown eyes. I felt my fear dissolving again, watched that imaginary cloud disappear. "I had a great dinner. I waited around for you because I wanted to thank you. I don't need any more money. I just really appreciate your kindness. It helps. I was a medic in 'Nam."

We visited for a few moments. I began to feel badly about the fence. I was safe. There was not danger. I thought about the many kinds of fences we put up in our lives, and about how much we shut out. My fear was gone. We laughed and joked a bit. I told him I had to get on my way, as I had a long drive home. "You be good, Eddie," I said. "God loves you a lot." "God loves you, too."

I got in my car and looked back at the place where he had been, but there was only a pool of light from the streetlamp.”

"6 Facts About Hunger That Demonstrate the Shameful Excesses of American Capitalism"

 "6 Facts About Hunger That Demonstrate 
the Shameful Excesses of American Capitalism"
 By Paul Buchheit

"Of all the miseries placed on human beings in their everyday lives, the lack of food may be the most inexcusable. Even in a world controlled by unbending attitudes of self-reliance and individual responsibility, the reality of children and seniors and disabled citizens going hungry is a stain on humanity, a shameful testament to the capitalist goal of profit without conscience. The facts presented here all touch on the lives of human beings, in the U.S. and beyond, who lack food or the means to pay for it.

1. Congress wants to cut a food program that feeds low-income children. According to the Department of Agriculture, 48% of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in 2011 were children. Either unaware or indifferent to this, Congress is considering a new farm bill that would cut food assistance by $2 billion a year while boosting the farm subsidies of big agriculture.

2. Some individuals make enough in two seconds to pay a SNAP recipient's food bill for an entire year. Americans Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, two Kochs, and four Waltons made an average of $6 billion each from their stocks and other investments in 2012. A $6 billion per year person makes enough in two seconds (based on a 40-hour work-week) to pay a year's worth of benefits to the average SNAP recipient. Just 20 Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire SNAP budget for 47 million people.

Capitalism encourages an individual to make as much money as possible, even without producing anything. Most Americans accept that. But questions should be raised about a system that allows the yearlong needs of a hungry person to flash by in two seconds of an investor's life.

3. McDonald's profits are double the total wages of all its food servers. McDonald's has 440,000 employees, most of them food servers making the median hourly wage of $9.10 an hour or less, for a maximum of about $18,200 per year. The company's $8 billion profit, after wages are paid, works out to the same amount: $18,200 per employee. As noted by MSN Money, the company pays its front-line workers minimum wage or very close to it. But instead of passing along part of its profits to employees, McDonald's just announced plans for increased dividends and share repurchases.

4. Just 10 individuals made as much as all the fast-food counter workers in the U.S. The 10 richest on the Forbes list increased their combined wealth by almost $60 billion from 2011 to 2012. That's approximately equivalent to the total annual salaries of 3,378,030 fast-food counter employees if they were all able to work 40-hour weeks, 50 weeks a year.

5. Apple avoided enough in taxes to mount a global attack on malnutrition. The World Bank estimates the total cost for "successfully mounting an attack on malnutrition" would be about $10.3 to $11.8 billion annually. Apple alone underpaid its 2012 taxes by $11 billion, based on a 35% rate on total global income. (The company paid $8,443 current taxes on $55,763 total income, or a little over 15%.)

6. Speculation on food prices has contributed to the impoverishment of 115 million people. From 1996 to 2011 the portion of speculative wheat market trades by Goldman Sachs and other players went from 12 percent to 61 percent. The price of wheat went from $105 a ton in 2000 to $481 a ton in 2008. Food prices dropped after the recession, but the World Bank notes that they've jumped 43 percent since 2010. The World Food Program reported that since 2008, high prices have pushed 115 million more people into hunger and poverty.

Speculation hasn't hurt the speculators. According to the World Wealth Report 2013, the number of high net worth individuals ($1 million or more in investable assets) increased by 11.5% in North America in 2012, the highest rate in the world. Billionaires are on the rise, and a billion people are without adequate food. The speculators should be ashamed."

"Radiation Levels Skyrocket at Fukushima"; A Comment

"Radiation Levels Skyrocket at Fukushima"
The Accident Is NOT Contained
By Washington's Blog

"Record high levels of radioactive tritium have been observed in the harbor at Fukushima. Japan Times notes: "The density of radioactive tritium in samples of seawater from near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant doubled over 10 days to hit a record 1,100 becquerels per liter, possibly indicating contaminated groundwater is seeping into the Pacific, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. Tepco said late Monday it was still analyzing the water for strontium-90, which would pose a greater danger than tritium to human health if absorbed via the food chain. The level of cesium did not show any significant change between the two sample dates, according to the embattled utility. On June 19, Tepco revealed that a groundwater sample taken from a nearby monitoring well was contaminated with both tritium and strontium-90. During a news conference Monday in Tokyo, Masayuki Ono, a Tepco executive and spokesman, this time did not deny the possibility of leakage into the sea, while he said Tepco is still trying to determine the cause of the spike."

Kyoto reports: "A sample collected Friday contained around 1,100 becquerels of tritium per liter, the highest level detected in seawater since the nuclear crisis at the plant started in March 2011, the utility said Monday. The latest announcement was made after Tepco detected high levels of radioactive tritium and strontium in groundwater from an observation well at the plant."

Indeed, the amount of radioactive strontium has skyrocketed over the last couple of months at Fukushima. The New York Times writes: "Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima, said Wednesday that it had detected high levels of radioactive strontium in groundwater at the plant, raising concerns that its storage tanks are leaking contaminated water, possibly into the ocean. The company has struggled to store growing amounts of contaminated runoff at the plant, but had previously denied that the site’s groundwater was highly toxic…"

Xinhua reports: "Very high radioactivity levels were detected in groundwater from an observation well at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Wednesday. The observation well was set up on the Pacific side of the plant’s No. 2 reactor turbine building last December to find out the reasons why radioactivity levels in seawater near the plant remained high. The company said the sampled water could be from the contaminated water that seeped into the ground."

Reuters points out: "Testing of groundwater showed the reading for strontium-90 increased from 8.6 becquerels to 1,000 becquerels per litre between Dec. 8, 2012 and May 24."

BBC notes: "High levels of a toxic radioactive isotope have been found in groundwater at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator says. Strontium-90 is formed as a by-product of nuclear fission. Tests showed that levels of strontium in groundwater at the Fukushima plant had increased 100-fold since the end of last year, Toshihiko Fukuda, a Tepco official, told media."

Other types of radioactive materials will continue to pose a hazard for decades.  As nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen explains: "The radiation exposures are going up. What you’re seeing is a lot of this stuff is getting revolitalized. It’s in the first couple of inches of dust, and when the wind blows it moves into areas that have been previously cleaned. This will go on for decades, as the cesium goes down in to the soil, the roots bring it back up and into the plant structures and the leaves fall on the ground and the cycle continues."

(Some portion of this radiation will hit the West Coast of North America… which may end up with even higher radioactive cesium levels than Japan.) The bigger picture is that the Fukushima reactors are wholly uncontained… and radiation will continue to spew for decades… or centuries.

Japan Times reports: "A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission the Fukushima power plant and urged Tepco to improve stability at the facility. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the nuclear plant is so complex that it is impossible to predict how long the cleanup may last. “As for the duration of the decommissioning project, this is something that you can define in your plans. But in my view, it will be nearly impossible to ensure the time for decommissioning such a complex facility in less than 30 to 40 years as it is currently established in the road map,” Lentijo said.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. have predicted the cleanup would take up to 40 years. They still have to develop technology and equipment that can operate under fatally high radiation levels to locate and remove melted fuel. The reactors must be kept cool and the plant must stay safe and stable, and those efforts to ensure safety could slow the process down. The plant still runs on makeshift equipment and frequently suffers glitches. The problems have raised concerns about whether the plant can stay intact throughout a decommissioning process. The problems have prompted officials to compile risk-reduction measures and review decommissioning plans.
“It is expectable in such a complex site, additional incidents will occur as it happened in the nuclear plants under normal operations,” Lentijo said. The IAEA team urged the utility to “improve the reliability of essential systems to assess the structural integrity of site facilities, and to enhance protection against external hazards” and promptly replace temporary equipment with a reliable, permanent system."

Indeed, the locations and condition of melted Fukushima fuel is still totally unknown.  Shimbun reports: "The workers have yet to gain a grasp of the locations and condition of the fuel debris. They have yet to develop extraction equipment and determine removal methods."

Mainichi notes: "Uncertainty over the location of melted fuel inside the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues to cast a shadow over plans to remove the fuel at an early date. Reactor Nos. 1-3 at the plant contained a total of 1,496 rods of nuclear fuel in their cores.  Each fuel rod weighs about 300 kilograms, and a high level of technical expertise would be required when undertaking a remote control operation to cut up and retrieve clumps of scattered radioactive materials weighing a combined 450 tons or thereabouts, the cores of reactors at the Fukushima plant have holes, and the task at hand is finding which parts have been damaged."

Indeed, the technology doesn’t yet exist to contain– let alone clean up– Fukushima. Mainichi notes: "In a news conference on June 10, a representative of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said that bringing forward the plans would be dependent on developing technology, and suggested that the plans might even end up being delayed."

Scientists are considering freezing the ground around the Fukushima reactors.  Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports: "The Japanese government has ordered the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to freeze the soil around its crippled reactor buildings to stop groundwater seeping in and becoming contaminated. According to a report compiled by a government panel on Thursday, there are no previous examples of using walls created from frozen soil to isolate groundwater being used for longer than a few years. This means the project at the Fukushima plant poses “an unprecedented challenge in the world”.

Japan Times reports: "The panel’s draft report said the government and Tepco hope to create the frozen-soil walls between April and September 2015. A rough estimate suggests that groundwater seepage into the basements would be reduced from 400 tons [every day] to 100 tons once the frozen-soil walls are built. Another high-tech solution being proposed: injecting cement into the Fukushima reactors. And then there are the spent fuel pools, which continue to be one of the main threats to Japan, the United States… and all of humanity."
Source: -
A comment: OK, so what do we have here? The melting temperature of uranium dioxide is 5,189 degrees Fahrenheit," said Martin Bertadono, a nuclear engineer at Purdue University. As the graphic above clearly shows, the reactor plant lies directly on the Pacific Ocean coastline. If the cores actually melt down and burn through the bottom of the containment vessels they will eventually reach ground water. The molten cores will "burn" for many, many years at 5,189 degrees F while boiling off literally unlimited amounts of highly radioactive Pacific Ocean steam into the atmosphere. THIS is why they're lying like hell about the true situation, because if it really happens, and it certainly appears that it has in fact happened, hell will have been brought to Earth. - CP
 A search using the Google "Search This Blog" sidebar 
will reveal many posts here regarding this subject, including...

“The Fuel Pools of Fukushima: The Greatest Short-term Threat To Humanity”

Musical Interlude: Yanni, “To the One Who Knows”

 Yanni, “To the One Who Knows”

"Oh, How It Really Is"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"A Look to the Heavens"

“What's happening to this spiral galaxy? Just a few hundred million years ago, NGC 2936, the upper of the two large galaxies shown, was likely a normal spiral galaxy- spinning, creating stars- and minding its own business. But then it got too close to the massive elliptical galaxy NGC 2937 below and took a dive. Dubbed the Porpoise Galaxy for its iconic shape, NGC 2936 is not only being deflected but also being distorted by the close gravitational interaction. A burst of young blue stars forms the nose of the porpoise toward the left of the upper galaxy, while the center of the spiral appears as an eye. Alternatively, the galaxy pair, together known as Arp 142, look to some like a penguin protecting an egg. Either way, intricate dark dust lanes and bright blue star streams trail the troubled galaxy to the lower right.
 Click image for larger size.
The above recently-released image showing Arp 142 in unprecedented detail was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope last year. Arp 142 lies about 300 million light years away toward the constellation, coincidently, of the Water Snake (Hydra). In a billion years or so the two galaxies will likely merge into one larger galaxy.”

Chet Raymo, “Singing Beside Me In The Wilderness”

“Singing Beside Me In The Wilderness”
by Chet Raymo

“In one of those infuriating lapses that go with being a certain age, we could not remember the other evening the name of the poet who wrote "A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou..." After scraping the tip of my tongue for a few minutes, I turned to the computer (Google is my browser's home page) and by typing "jug thou" brought Omar Khayyam back into consciousness. (Another click and I could have had the entire Rubaiyat.)

And so it is that the Googlized internet arrives just in time to compensate for our withering brain cells. Everything I ever remembered is there to be Googled, plus everything I never remembered. Ten billions pages. The searchable memory of the human race. With more yet to come.

My great-great-grandchildren will no doubt have tiny video cameras implanted in the middle of their foreheads, like Hindu beauty marks, recording everything that passes before their eyes 24-7, with a sound track too. All of which will be stored digitally, ready for instant playback, and searchable by date, time, GPS coordinates, or keywords- the whole of a life, not only available to the subjects themselves in their memory-lapsed dotage, but to future generations. "Here's great-great-grandpa on his ninety-first birthday, back in 2027. Look how he dribbles soup on his shirt. Ha, ha."

I think nature knew what it was doing when it allows our memory to fade with age. It is particularly notable that the more unpleasant memories go first, so that every summer past was golden with sunshine, and every child was a model of respectful propriety. And no one, not even grandpa himself, remembers the time he... “

The Daily "Near You?"

Barkerville, Ontario, Canada. Thanks for stopping by.

Genetics: "World Populated By Single African Tribe"

"World Populated By Single African Tribe"
 by The Telegraph

"Research by geneticists and archaeologists has allowed them to trace the origins of modern homo sapiens back to a single group of people who managed to cross from the Horn of Africa and into Arabia. From there they went on to colonise the rest of the world. Genetic analysis of modern day human populations in Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America have revealed that they are all descended from these common ancestors.
Click for larger sized chart.

It is thought that changes in the climate between 90,000 and 70,000 years ago caused sea levels to drop dramatically and allowed the crossing of the Red Sea to take place. The findings are to be revealed in a new BBC Two documentary series, "The Incredible Human Journey," that traces the prehistoric origins of the human species. Dr Peter Forster, a senior lecturer in archaeogenetics at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge who carried out some of the genetic work, said: "The founder populations cannot have been very big. We are talking about just a few hundred individuals."

Homo sapiens, known casually as "modern humans", are thought to have first evolved around 195,000 years ago in east Africa – the earliest remains from that time were uncovered near the Omo River in Ethiopia. It is thought that by 150,000 years ago these early modern humans had managed to spread to other parts of Africa and fossilised remains have been found on the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. The earliest homo sapien remains found outside of Africa were discovered in Israel and are thought to be around 100,000 years old. They are remains of a group that left Africa through what is now the Sahara desert during a brief period when the climate grew wetter, turning the desert green with vegetation. This excursion, however, failed and the population died out when the climate started to dry out again.

While there are 14 ancestral populations in Africa itself, just one seems to have survived outside of the continent. The latest genetic research has shown that it was not until around 70,000 years ago that humans were able to take advantage of falling sea levels to cross into Arabia at the mouth of the Red Sea, which is now known as the Gate of Grief. At the time the 18 mile gap between the continents would have dropped to just 8 miles. It is not clear how they might have made such a journey but once a cross, the humans were able to spread along the Arabian coast where fresh water springs helped support them.

It has long been assumed that humans success in spreading around the world was due to their adaptability and hunting skills. The latest research, however, suggests that the very early human pioneers who ventured out of Africa owe far more of their success to luck and favourable changes in climate change than had previously been realised. Dr Stephen Oppenheimer, a geneticist at the school of anthropology at Oxford University who has also led research on the genetic origins of humans outside Africa, said: "What you can see from the DNA of all non Africans is that they all belong to one tiny African branch that came across the Red Sea.

"If it was easy to get out of Africa we would have seen multiple African lineages in the DNA of non-Africans but that there was only one successful exit suggests it must have been very tough to get out. It was much drier and colder then." Within around 5,000 years some of these early human pioneers had managed to spread along the edge of the Indian Ocean and down through south east Asia and arriving in Australia around 65,000 years ago. Others made their way north through the Middle East and Pakistan to reach central Asia.

Around 50,000 years ago they also began spreading into Europe via the Bosporus at the Istanbul Strait. Again low sea levels allowed them to almost walk into Europe. Once there they will have encountered Neanderthals, who, with bigger bodies were more adapted to the cold weather at the time, had been living in Europe for nearly a quarter of a million years but are thought to have died out due to changes in the climate.

By 25,000 years ago humans had spread into northern Europe and Siberia and then walked across the Bering land bridge into Alaska around 20,000 years ago. The peak of the last ice age, which was reached around 19,000 years ago, saw human populations pushed south by the extreme cold and it was about 15,000 years ago that South America became the last continent on the planet to be colonised. Britain and northern Scandinavia is thought to have been recolonised by modern humans after the last ice age between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago.
Dr Alice Roberts, an anatomist at Bristol University who presents The Incredible Human Journey, said: "There seems to have been a huge amount of luck involved as they were totally at the whim of the climate. The climate changed at just the right time to allow them to expand out of Africa and they were allowed to expand geographically as a result, but when the climate changed they shrank back again."

The idea that all non-African humans are descended from a single group of individuals contradicts previous theories that the different modern races evolved seperately from an earlier human ancestor known as Homo erectus in different parts of the world. Archaeologists in China, for example, believe they have strong evidence that the Chinese evolved directly from a lineage of Homo erectus that arrived in China 2 million years ago and not from African Homo sapiens. But recent genetic work at Fudan University in Shanghai tested the Y chromosomes of more than 12,000 men currently living in different parts of China and found that they all descended from the original African humans. Professor Li Jin, a geneticist at Fudan University in Shanghai whose laboratory carried out the research, said: “We did not find a single individual that could be considered the decendants of homo erectus in China. “I think we should all be happy with that, as after all, it means that people from all over the world are not all that different from each other.”

How about that, we're all brothers and sisters after all. 
So just how astonishingly stupid is racism? Think about it...
- CP


"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
- Blaise Pascal

Satire: "Scalia Arrested Trying to Burn Down Supreme Court"

"Scalia Arrested Trying to Burn Down Supreme Court"
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— "In a shocking end to an illustrious legal career, police arrested Justice Antonin Scalia today as he attempted to set the Supreme Court building ablaze. Justice Scalia, who had seemed calm and composed during the announcement of two major rulings this morning, was spotted by police minutes later outside the building, carrying a book of matches and a gallon of kerosene. After police nabbed Justice Scalia and placed him in handcuffs, the Juror appeared “at peace and resigned to his fate,” a police spokesman said. “He went quietly,” the spokesman said. “He just muttered something like, ‘I don’t want to live in a world like this.’ ”

Back at the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia’s colleagues said they hoped he would get the help he needed, except for Justice Clarence Thomas, who said nothing.”

"How It Really Is"


"The Bear Market in Bonds"

"The Bear Market in Bonds"
by Bill Bonner

"We know it has to happen. And when it does, we'll get out." One of the speakers at a conference we attended in London last week, a professional money manager, talking about the most important bit of investment information you are likely to get in your lifetime. He was probably speaking for thousands of his colleagues. All confident that they would be able to spot the turn in the bond market when it happens... and all leave the party in good order.

We're still in the wee hours of a bear market in bonds that will probably last until the middle of the century. In fact, we're so early that when the sun finally rises we may find we are not yet in a bear market after all. The action over the last two months – and especially the last two weeks – may be just another of Mr. Market's famous fake-outs. (We think Mr. Market is doing a great fake-out job in gold, by the way. More on that tomorrow...) But in the bond market, it looks like the real thing. The Dow rose 100 points yesterday. Gold fell by a couple of bucks an ounce. And Treasury bonds continued their slide. And, since it has to happen sometime, we will suppose that the bond market has put in its top now. If we are too early... we'll enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while other investors are scrambling for the doorway.

Rushing for Exits: Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the exits are getting jammed: "Wall Street never thought it would be this bad. A bond sell-off has been anticipated for years, given the long run of popularity that corporate and government bonds have enjoyed. But most strategists expected that investors would slowly transfer out of bonds, allowing interest rates to slowly drift up.
Instead, since the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, recently suggested that the strength of the economic recovery might allow the Fed to slow down its bond-buying program, waves of selling have convulsed the markets. The value of outstanding United States government 10-year notes has fallen 10% since a high in early May. The selling has been most visible among retail investors, who have sold a record $48 billion worth of shares in bond mutual funds so far in June, according to the data company TrimTabs. But hedge funds and other big institutional investors have also been closing out positions or stepping back from the bond market. "The feeling you are getting out there is that people are selling first and asking questions later," said Hans Humes, chief executive of the hedge fund Greylock Capital Management.

That, by the way, is our advice. Get out now. 
You can ask all the questions you want later. 
Everyone saw (or still sees) a turn in the bond market coming. Bonds have been going up for 33 years. They can't go up forever. What can't last forever has to stop sometime. This seems like as good a time as any. But everyone cannot get out of their bond investments at the same time in a calm, orderly way. After three decades of bringing investors into the room, no trade is more crowded. When bond prices begin to go down... as they did the first week of May... the longer you wait to get out, the more you will lose.

So what do investors do? They head for the exits. All at once. And the bond market becomes an "owl market." Everyone wants to sell. But "to who... to who?" Owls are not trained in English grammar. They don't know that the preposition "to" is followed by "whom," not "who." But they are good investors. And they know a developing disaster when they see one. Clever bond investors chose to stay at the party – even when they saw a little smoke rising in the corner. Now they have to decide what to do. Some will hesitate... wait too long... and then, every bounce will encourage them to wait longer, hoping to recover their losses. Others will stumble and be crushed underfoot, selling their bonds at panic prices.

Is the panic happening already? No. We've only smelled the first faint whiffs of fear. The 10-year T-note still yields only 2.58%. The really nasty odor will come later... when smoke fills the room... someone hits the fire alarm... and those clever investors find the exits blocked."

The Economy: “The Button Has Been Pushed… Ready Or Not”

“The Button Has Been Pushed… Ready Or Not”
by Bill Holter

“This week has started off miserably. China had problems within their banking system last night as bank transfers, ATMs, online banking and wires did not work. Europe announced that their E500 billion bailout fund for banks is no longer the case; they now say that 60 billion Euros will be the limit…retroactively. To put this in perspective, Spain had already been promised 100 billion Euros for their banking system; I guess the money is not coming? Our stock market has started the day down 230 points and the 10 yr. Treasury yield is now 2.64%, this is another .12 basis points higher on the day and now nearly 70% higher than it was back in April.

As I wrote over the weekend, this is “one gigantic global margin call.” Please understand how many of these interest rate derivatives work. When the rates go against you, “margin” must be posted. By “margin” I mean collateral. Collateral must be shifted from the losing institution to the one on the winning side. When the loser “runs out” of collateral…that is when you get a situation similar to MF Global or Lehman Bros., they are forced to shut down and the vultures then come in and pick the bones clean…normally. Now it is no longer “normal,” now a Lehman Bros will take the whole tent down.

To put in perspective what is happening, Zerohedge calculated that the Fed lost $35 billion this morning alone and $250 billion over the last 2 months. The Fed only has (had) $65 billion of equity capital yet in just several hours they lost half of it…again…this is because they hold $3.5 trillion in assets. This is the equivalent of a trader putting up $2 and buying $100 worth of assets, they have 50-1 leverage. They may not even be the most egregious out there. There are derivative contracts that are over 100-1 leverage that must post collateral each day. At least the Fed doesn’t have to post any collateral against losses because they can be “trusted.”

Can you see what is happening? The “button has been pushed” either on purpose, inadvertently or because “they had to.” Banking laws over the last 3 months have been altered to allow “bail ins” where depositors lose rather than governments “bailing out” losing banks. Do you think that these laws were changed by mistake, or inadvertently?  No, the laws were changed because they KNEW this was coming. Now control has been lost in the sovereign government bond markets which are creating “losers” all over the place. The problem now is that the entire world’s banking system is a chain, a daisy chain where if one goes down…they all go down. Yes, yes I know, there are those running around saying “but we are hedged”…so there is nothing to worry about.  Really?  Someone somewhere is on the losing side of the trade. With over a $1 quadrillion (with a big fat capital Q) derivatives market a 5% move creates over $50 trillion worth of winners and losers. Do you know of any institution that could absorb even a small piece of this? What if JP Morgan took only 2% of this loss, could they pony up $1 trillion? Maybe… and only… if they could use customer funds would be my first thought.

Unfortunately it looks like the U.S. Treasury market is experiencing some forced selling.  This may abate and we may get a rally where everyone thinks “Whew, that was close.”  This happens almost always during a crash sequence.  “The worst is over” and confidence briefly comes back, this would not surprise me at all.  Don’t be fooled by this however as the detonation has already occurred and cannot be reversed.

I must confess that I had no idea that China’s banking system went into seizure mode until I woke up this morning. I mention this because as you know I believe that when this comes it will be a Monday morning event. Will it be China? Japan or Europe? Surely not the U.S.! Will it be the banks? Or will it be a broker, insurance company or even a sovereign govt. itself? I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter because the result will be the same no matter where “the chain breaks.”

Please ask yourself this question, “If I woke up this Monday morning, today, in retrospect, and the world had blown up financially over the weekend where the banks did not open for whatever reason…would I have been ready for it?” Maybe a bad question because NO ONE can ever really be ready for it but have you done everything that you think necessary? This is a very real question. What would you be doing right now if the banks didn’t open this morning? Would you go to work? Would you be going nuts and trying to scramble to figure out a way to buy food for the next week? Would you be calling your broker to see if they could cut you a check (which no bank could cash until “later”)? What would you be doing?

I could go on and on but you really do need to ask yourself this question now because the threat is not only real, mathematically this is what will come…whether you are ready or not.”

Gerald Celente: “We’re Going into the Greatest Depression”

Gerald Celente: “We’re Going into the Greatest Depression”
By Greg Hunter’s

“Top trends forecaster Gerald Celente says NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a non-event. Celente charges, “What did Snowden say that we didn’t write about over a year ago.” Celente says the real stories are the imploding economy and coming war. Another crash is coming, and Celente predicts, “It will be worse than the panic of ’08. It will be deeper. It will be more painful because they will not be able to pull off the stimulus game again.” Celente goes on to say, “We are going into the Greatest Depression, but they will try to boost it in some way, and that’s when gold and silver prices will skyrocket.” Celente also predicts war in the Middle East is a lock.  Celente says, “When all else fails, they will take us to war. We are seeing war drums beating louder and louder throughout the Middle East as the Middle East is collapsing.” As far as a real recovery is concerned, Celente boldly states, “The business of America has become war, and as long as business is war, there is not going to be any recovery.” Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Gerald Celente, Publisher of The Trends Journal.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Musical Interlude: Adiemus, “Adiemus”

 Adiemus, “Adiemus”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda's image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. 
 Click image for larger size.
Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier's list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it takes about two million years for light to reach us from there. Although visible without aid, the above image of M31 was taken with a small telescope. Much about M31 remains unknown, including how it acquired its unusual double-peaked center.”

Chet Raymo, "The Fourth Seal"

  "The Fourth Seal"
by Chet Raymo

"Immediately, another horse appeared, deathly pale, and its rider was called Plague, and Hades followed at his heels." It has been nearly 20 years since I read Laurie Garrett's hair-raising "The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance," a big book, impressively researched by a first-rate science reporter. It was a book that made you want to wear a mask over your mouth and nose, and avoid airplanes and crowded places. Especially airplanes.

Now comes David Quammen with another big book, "Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic". Another pale horse, another pale rider. Time to break out the masks again? In between, we had SARS, which infected eight thousand people and killed nearly eight hundred. A 78-year-old Canadian grandmother carried the virus by air from Hong Kong to Toronto. A few weeks later a man with a cough flew from Hong Kong to Beijing. By the time the plane landed, twenty-two other passengers and two crew members were infected. ACHOO!

And I've had a cold since I got off the plane at Shannon nearly two weeks ago. Colds we aren't worried about, at least not yet. A sniffle isn't going to kill me. Highly lethal viruses, like Ebola, kill off their hosts quickly before the virus can spread too far; the virus is in that sense its own worse enemy. A virus that spreads easily and widely, like flu, sickens its hosts but kills few. The viruses that Garrett and Quammen are worried about find the lethal sweet spot, burning like a slow-moving grass fire, rather than a raging inferno, keeping their hosts alive just long enough to insure transmission.

If a cough or a sneeze is a virus's way of getting around, maybe you could say the same thing for airplanes. Who runs the world anyway? Us? Or the viruses and bacteria? Natural selection does not just work for our benefit."

Musical Interlude: Justin Hayward, "The Way of the World"

Justin Hayward, "The Way of the World"

"The Optimism of Uncertainty"

"The Optimism of Uncertainty"
by Howard Zinn
"In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible.
What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability. A revolution to overthrow the czar of Russia, in that most sluggish of semi-feudal empires, not only startled the most advanced imperial powers but took Lenin himself by surprise and sent him rushing by train to Petrograd. Who would have predicted the bizarre shifts of World War II- the Nazi-Soviet pact (those embarrassing photos of von Ribbentrop and Molotov shaking hands), and the German Army rolling through Russia, apparently invincible, causing colossal casualties, being turned back at the gates of Leningrad, on the western edge of Moscow, in the streets of Stalingrad, followed by the defeat of the German army, with Hitler huddled in his Berlin bunker, waiting to die?
And then the postwar world, taking a shape no one could have drawn in advance: The Chinese Communist revolution, the tumultuous and violent Cultural Revolution, and then another turnabout, with post-Mao China renouncing its most fervently held ideas and institutions, making overtures to the West, cuddling up to capitalist enterprise, perplexing everyone.
No one foresaw the disintegration of the old Western empires happening so quickly after the war, or the odd array of societies that would be created in the newly independent nations, from the benign village socialism of Nyerere's Tanzania to the madness of Idi Amin's adjacent Uganda. Spain became an astonishment. I recall a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade telling me that he could not imagine Spanish Fascism being overthrown without another bloody war. But after Franco was gone, a parliamentary democracy came into being, open to Socialists, Communists, anarchists, everyone.
The end of World War II left two superpowers with their respective spheres of influence and control, vying for military and political power. Yet they were unable to control events, even in those parts of the world considered to be their respective spheres of influence. The failure of the Soviet Union to have its way in Afghanistan, its decision to withdraw after almost a decade of ugly intervention, was the most striking evidence that even the possession of thermonuclear weapons does not guarantee domination over a determined population. The United States has faced the same reality. It waged a full-scale war in lndochina, conducting the most brutal bombardment of a tiny peninsula in world history, and yet was forced to withdraw. In the headlines every day we see other instances of the failure of the presumably powerful over the presumably powerless, as in Brazil, where a grassroots movement of workers and the poor elected a new president pledged to fight destructive corporate power.
Looking at this catalogue of huge surprises, it's clear that the struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and the money and who seem invincible in their determination to hold on to it. That apparent power has, again and again, proved vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs and dollars: moral fervor, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, ingenuity, courage, patience- whether by blacks in Alabama and South Africa, peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Vietnam, or workers and intellectuals in Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union itself. No cold calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded that their cause is just.
I have tried hard to match my friends in their pessimism about the world (is it just my friends?), but I keep encountering people who, in spite of all the evidence of terrible things happening everywhere, give me hope. Especially young people, in whom the future rests. Wherever I go, I find such people. And beyond the handful of activists there seem to be hundreds, thousands, more who are open to unorthodox ideas. But they tend not to know of one another's existence, and so, while they persist, they do so with the desperate patience of Sisyphus endlessly pushing that boulder up the mountain. I try to tell each group that it is not alone, and that the very people who are disheartened by the absence of a national movement are themselves proof of the potential for such a movement.
Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope.
An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places- and there are so many- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
"The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth. Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back."
- Howard Zinn, “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress”