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28 October, 2011

Europe Tries To Kick The Can Down The Road But It Will Only Lead To Financial Disaster

Europe Tries To Kick The Can Down The Road But It Will Only Lead To Financial Disaster: "Have you heard the good news? Financial armageddon has been averted. The economic collapse in Europe has been cancelled. Everything is going to be okay. Well, actually none of those statements is true, but news of the 'debt deal' in Europe has set off a frenzy of irrational exuberance throughout the financial world anyway. Newspapers all over the globe are declaring that the financial crisis in Europe is over. Stock markets all over the world are soaring. The Dow was up nearly 3 percent today, and this recent surge is helping the S&P 500 to have its best month since 1974. Global financial markets are experiencing an explosion of optimism right now. Yes, European leaders have been able to kick the can down the road for a few months and a total Greek default is not going to happen right now. However, as you will see below, the core elements of this 'debt deal' actually make a financial disaster in Europe even more likely in the future..."

Extreme Melting On Greenland Ice Sheet, May Be In Self-Amplifying Cycle Reports CCNY Team

Nano Patents and Innovations: Extreme Melting On Greenland Ice Sheet, May Be In Self-Amplifying Cycle Reports CCNY Team: "The Greenland ice sheet can experience extreme melting even when temperatures don’t hit record highs, according to a new analysis by Dr. Marco Tedesco, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York. His findings suggest that glaciers could undergo a self-amplifying cycle of melting and warming that would be difficult to halt...

... Combining data gathered on the ground with microwave satellite recordings and the output from a model of the ice sheet, he and graduate student Patrick Alexander found a near-record loss of snow and ice this year. The extensive melting continued even without last year’s record highs.

The team recorded data on air temperatures, wind speed, exposed ice and its movement, the emergence of streams and lakes of melt water on the surface, and the water’s eventual draining away beneath the glacier. This lost melt water can accelerate the ice sheet’s slide toward the sea where it calves new icebergs. Eventually, melt water reaches the ocean, contributing to the rising sea levels associated with long-term climate change..."

Could the 'Big One' Shake DC or NY? | Tremor Felt in Manhattan, Buildings Evacuate | 5.9 Magnitude Virginia Earthquake

Could the 'Big One' Shake DC or NY? | Tremor Felt in Manhattan, Buildings Evacuate | 5.9 Magnitude Virginia Earthquake | Life's Little Mysteries: "Because the tectonic faults on the East Coast of the United States are less active than those on the West Coast, less is known about them. Many East Coasters didn't even know there were active faults beneath their stomping grounds until today (Aug. 23), when buildings trembled all the way from Maine to South Carolina in the aftermath of a 5.8-magnitude quake in Virginia...

... Could the 'big one' ever hit the East Coast?

'It has been suggested that earthquakes as large as magnitude 7.5 could occur on some faults in the East Coast, and certainly the earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 were in that general magnitude,' Schwartz said. The earthquakes he mentioned destroyed much of Charleston, S.C. 'The question is, where will they actually occur; what faults will they occur on? In the West Coast we have a pretty good idea of what faults will produce large earthquakes. On the East Coast we have a pretty poor understanding of which faults would do this.'

In fact, potentially dangerous faults are still being discovered on the East Coast..."

Experts Recommend The Inclusion Of Rainwater Collection Systems In Cities

Nano Patents and Innovations: Experts Recommend The Inclusion Of Rainwater Collection Systems In Cities: "Plain, sloping roofs can collect up to 50% more rainwater than flat roofs with gravel. This water is also of higher quality. These are the conclusions of a study conducted by researchers from Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB, Spain) which suggests the incorporation of systems to collect rainwater in urban planning. The water collected can be used to water streets and gardens, wash floors or vehicles and fill cisterns.

Ramon Farreny, co-author of different projects developed by the UAB, said 'It is important to consider the collection of rainwater when planning and designing cities, as this is an alternative water source with many different uses, it can even be used to save drinking water'..."

Unknown Territory

EU Debt Crisis: Unknown Territory | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog: "I was surprised to see the Dow only off a few hundred points yesterday considering all the problems European Union finance ministers are having getting a sovereign debt rescue plan together. A 200 point loss on the Dow dramatically underestimates the amount of damage that could be done if the EU debt crisis goes haywire. Maybe everyone is thinking the Federal Reserve will ultimately backstop Europe but, then again, the Fed can’t bail out every bank. One thing is for sure, gold is flashing a bright yellow warning as it rocketed up around $50 yesterday and kept going higher in overnight trading. Sovereign debt haircuts are looking like they will be at least 50% for most of this debt. Dr. Marc Faber of Gloomboomdoom.com says Greek debt should be written down 'at least 80 to 90 percent.' With the amount of leverage in the banks (credit default swaps), the real losses could be astronomical, not just in Europe but in the U.S. as well..."

Inflation Up Globally

Inflation Up Globally | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog: "The meeting yesterday in Europe to come up with a plan to stem the sovereign debt crisis turned sour. Zero was accomplished, except to put even more fear into the world over an impending financial meltdown that will likely be worse than the 2008 mushroom cloud. The Telegraph UK is reporting, 'During two hours of bitter exchanges during a meeting of all 27 EU leaders before a crisis summit of the Eurozone’s 17 members on Wednesday, President Sarkozy fought hard to get the Prime Minister barred from talks that would finalise a 100 billion euros cash injection into banks.' 'We’re sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro, you didn’t want to join and now you want to interfere in our meetings,' the French leader told Mr. Cameron, according to diplomats.' It appears members of the EU are having a hard time coming up with a plan which will, no doubt, be some sort of combination of bank failure, steep haircuts in sour sovereign debt, and money printing to pick winners..."

27 October, 2011

The One Percent: Gigantic Government Gigantic Corporations = Massive Wealth Inequality In America

The One Percent: Gigantic Government Gigantic Corporations = Massive Wealth Inequality In America: "Today, there are protests all over America that are targeting "the one percent" and all of the wealth and power that they have accumulated. Unfortunately, many of the solutions that these protesters are advocating simply will not work and will not lead to less wealth inequality. To understand this, you have to understand how we got to this point. Over the past several decades, our federal government has exploded in size and our large corporations have exploded in size. In fact, we have seen this pattern happen pretty much all over the world. Governments and corporations all over the globe are getting much bigger. Whenever you have very, very large concentrations of money and power like that, it is going to lead to massive wealth inequality. The Occupy Wall Street protesters would like to frame this debate as "socialism vs. capitalism", but the truth is that wherever you find big government you will almost always find big corporations, and wherever you find big corporations you will almost always find big government. Sure, they spar once in a while, but the reality is that big government and big corporations work in tandem most of the time. Sometimes big government has the upper hand and sometimes big corporations have the upper hand, but they are both collectivist institutions. Wherever you find collectivism in the world, you will find an elite that receives most of the benefits while the rest of the population suffers. In the United States today, our gigantic government is thriving and our gigantic corporations are thriving and the middle class is rapidly shrinking. The solution to this is not to replace one form of collectivism with another form of collectivism. Rather, what we need is to go back to what our founding fathers intended. They were extremely suspicious of large concentrations of wealth and power, and they intended for us to live in a capitalist system where individuals and small businesses had the freedom to compete and thrive..."

U.S. Rep to U.N. Says Obama Wants Senate to Ratify Arms Treaty

U.S. Rep to U.N. Says Obama Wants Senate to Ratify Arms Treaty -- BELLEVUE, Wash., Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --: "The Obama administration 'is seeking advice and consent' for Senate ratification of an international small arms treaty, and also supports the inclusion of small arms in the UN Register of Conventional Arms, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms learned today.

The disclosure is found in the text of a statement to the First Committee of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, delivered by Laura E. Kennedy, the permanent United States representative to the Conference on Disarmament. CCRKBA obtained a copy of the statement.

In her statement, Kennedy recalls that the United States in 1997, under the Clinton administration, signed the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials. However, the Senate never ratified the document, and there was no interest in pushing the treaty during the Bush administration. American firearms rights activists have steadfastly fought against inclusion of small arms in any such treaty..."

Monster Prediction From BofA: Another US Debt Downgrade Is Coming In Just A Few Weeks

Monster Prediction From BofA: Another US Debt Downgrade Is Coming In Just A Few Weeks: "In an analyst note, Bofa/ML's Ethan S. Harris drops a bit of a bombshell prediction:

We expect a moderate slowdown in the beginning of next year, as two small policy shocks—another debt downgrade and fiscal tightening—hit the economy. The 'not-so-super' Deficit Commission is very unlikely to come up with a credible deficit-reduction plan. The committee is more divided than the overall Congress. Since the fall-back plan is sharp cuts in discretionary spending, the whole point of the Committee is to put taxes and entitlements on the table. However, all the Republican members have signed the Norquist 'no taxes' pledge and with taxes off the table it is hard to imagine the liberal Democrats on the Committee agreeing to significant entitlement cuts. The credit rating agencies have strongly suggested that further rating cuts are likely if Congress does not come up with a credible long-run plan. Hence, we expect at least one credit downgrade in late November or early December when the super Committee crashes.

This is quite a stunning prediction, mainly because nobody is talking about this. And though the experts were 100% wrong in thinking that a downgrade would increase borrowing costs, it did cause a major market jolt when it happened, leading to a major blow to confidence in August and September.

Another round of that would certainly not be helpful..."

Backyard Chicken Coops Growing in Popularity

Backyard Chicken Coops Growing in Popularity - ABC News: "When Owen Taylor got hired six years ago as the 'city chicken intern' at Just Food, some people thought his job title was funny.

Today no one in the food world would make a peep. Backyard chicken-keeping is a growing pastime around the country, spurred by the interest in local food and sustainability.

'It's not a question of are you going to get chickens, but when are you ready to get chickens,' says Taylor, now city farms manager at Just Food, a New York based non-profit.

Town officials in suburban Maplewood, N.J., decided this week that their community is ready—but only just. In a 3-2 vote, the Township Committee voted to allow a pilot program for a year starting next March where up to 15 households will be allowed to have a maximum of three chickens each—with roosters banned..."

Purdue Expert: Cost to Grow Crops to Surge in 2012

Purdue expert: Cost to grow crops to surge in 2012 | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com: "There’s bad news for Indiana farmers: A Purdue University agricultural expert predicts it will cost farmers more to grow an acre of corn, soybeans or wheat next year.

Purdue Extension agricultural economist Alan Miller says preliminary budgets show variable costs for rotation corn increasing by 16 percent, soybeans by 15 percent and wheat by 12 percent when compared with last January.

Miller said the cost of renting farmland and fertilizer prices are the two biggest factors behind the higher costs..."

26 October, 2011

Letter RE: "FEMA: Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test "

In response to the recent article "FEMA: Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test", a reader wrote the following e-mail that makes a very good point:

"Dear whomever,

I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now and this is the first time I wanted to write to you. Question; How in the hell are they going to send out a broadcast to everyone in the USA if there is NO power to send or receive? FEMA and the government should think this all the way through if they want a better way to alert the people.

Concerned citizen"


My Response: I could definitely see this being an issue in the event of an EMP event, but I'm assuming they're interested in keeping it in good working order for use in the much more likely and often occurrence of natural disasters, etc..

What Have We Gotten For The Trillion Dollars We Have Spent On Wars In Afghanistan, Iraq And Libya?

What Have We Gotten For The Trillion Dollars We Have Spent On Wars In Afghanistan, Iraq And Libya?: "Over a trillion U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Whether you are for the wars or against the wars, it is important for all of us to step back and evaluate what we have really gotten for all of that money. In Libya, we have actually helped al-Qaeda forces that were shooting at U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan take over the country. Now they have announced that they will be imposing strict Sharia law on all of Libya. After 10 years of having our boys shot up in Afghanistan, the Afghan government is so 'grateful' that they are publicly saying that they will side with Pakistan in any future war against the United States. In Iraq, Islamic radicals are beheading and murdering dozens and dozens of Christians and the new Iraqi government seemingly can't wait to push the remaining U.S. soldiers out of the country. We ran up well over a trillion dollars of new debt to "liberate" these countries, but are they really in better shape than they were before these wars? Are we really in better shape than we were before these wars?..."

U.S. Fears Science Fiction-Style Sabotage in New Wave of Cyber Attacks

U.S. fears science fiction-style sabotage in new wave of cyber attacks | Mail Online: "When a computer attack hobbled Iran's unfinished nuclear power plant last year, it was assumed to be a military-grade strike, the handiwork of elite hacking professionals with nation-state backing.

Yet for all its science-fiction sophistication, key elements have now been replicated in laboratory settings by security experts with little time, money or specialized skill.

It is an alarming development that shows how technical advances are eroding the barrier that has long prevented computer assaults from leaping from the digital to the physical world.

The techniques demonstrated in recent months highlight the danger to operators of power plants, water systems and other critical infrastructure around the world..."

U.S. Economy: U.S. 'Misery Index' Rises to Highest Since 1983

US Economy: US 'Misery Index' Rises to Highest Since 1983 - CNBC: "An unofficial gauge of human misery in the United States rose last month to a 28-year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment.

The misery index — which is simply the sum of the country's inflation and unemployment rates — rose to 13.0, pushed up by higher price data the government reported on Wednesday.

The data underscores the extent that Americans continue to suffer even two years after a deep recession ended, with a weak economic recovery imperiling President Barack Obama's hopes of winning reelection next year..."

25 October, 2011

Euro Zone: Vatican Calls for 'Central World Bank' to Be Set Up

Euro Zone: Vatican Calls for 'Central World Bank' to Be Set Up - CNBC: "The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a "global public authority" and a 'central world bank' to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises.

A major document from the Vatican's Justice and Peace department should be music to the ears of the 'Occupy Wall Street' demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn..."


My Response: Weird Biblically-prophetic stuff aside, I'm typically not a fan of centralized authority vested in monstrous, gaping, overbearing bureaucratic nightmare Cthulu-esque monsters whose inevitable collapse could utterly destroy our entire way of life.

Real SHTF Experience: A Survivor of the War in Bosnia Speaks

my shtf expirience-wartime - Survivalist Forum

Does One Terrifying Unstable 'Super-Corporation' Run the Global Economy? New Study Says the Answer is Yes

Does one 'super-corporation' run the global economy? | Mail Online: "A University of Zurich study 'proves' that a small group of companies - mainly banks - wields huge power over the global economy.

The study is the first to look at all 43,060 transnational corporations and the web of ownership between them - and created a 'map' of 1,318 companies at the heart of the global economy.

The study found that 147 companies formed a 'super entity' within this, controlling 40 per cent of its wealth. All own part or all of one another. Most are banks - the top 20 includes Barclays and Goldman Sachs. But the close connections mean that the network could be vulnerable to collapse..."

Can Hyperinflation Happen In The U.S.?

Can Hyperinflation Happen In The US? | Macro Outlook | Minyanville.com: "... The beginning of the end of the Weimar Republic was some 89 years ago... There is a stream of opinion that the US is headed for the same type of end. How else can it be, given that we owe some $75-80 trillion dollars in the coming years, over five times current GDP and growing every year? Remember the good old days of about five to six years ago (if memory serves me correctly) when it was only $50 trillion? With a nod to Ben Bernanke's helicopter speech, where he detailed how the Fed could prevent deflation, I ask the opposite question, 'Can 'it' (hyperinflation) really happen here?'..."

James Howard Kunstler: Jet-Lagged and Ragged

Jet-Lagged and Ragged - Clusterfuck Nation: "... a fresh outlook on the tragically irresolvable banking crisis on-going here in Europe - though the Swedes themselves are not directly involved, since they still use the old krona currency. The European Union experiment began as a noble idea that has turned out badly. The Germans, who can't seem to help being powerful and successful lately, attempted to preside over a general European peace and prosperity. Perhaps they are still trying to make up for the mad destruction they twice induced across the continent in the last century. In any case, the financial part of the recent peaceful era in Europe is now unspooling. The various Euro club member states, starting with Greece, can't pay the interest owed to their bond-holders, can't borrow more to keep running their government services, and face uprisings in the public square as standards-of-living collapse.

The leaders of France and Germany can't devise a plan to mitigate the situation that is not transparently absurd - such as offering further leveraged loans to fatally over-leveraged countries. They seem determined to protect the bond-holders and their banks, but their efforts are inadequate. It is very sad to see people so polite and adult-looking in such a terrible predicament. One thing it demonstrates, I suppose, is that decorum is not necessarily enough when facing the consequences of decisions that turned out badly. The doomed gentleman who serenely accepts a last cigarette from the officer in charge of the firing squad nonetheless must absorb the fury of the bullets, which will surely disrupt the activity in his vital organs, no matter how exemplary his bravery is.

All of this financial trouble in Europe will also surely disrupt American banks, too, and may even drive several of them to their knees. On the trading floors of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, sleek young Ivy League men and women in expensive clothing who call each other "motherfucker" probably deserve all the ruin that will rain down on their craven souls, but the nation would plunge into something worse than the Great Depression of yore whatever the fate of individual bankers. Occupy Wall Street may yet evolve into something that is not so much about singing "Give Peace a Chance." When will they open a branch in Washington D.C. and camp out on the steps of the Federal Reserve, where they can greet the comings-and-goings of Fed officials with the charge that the Fed is a claque of lying motherfuckers whose interventions and manipulations are killing what's left of the US economy? I suppose I reveal my essential American loutishness when I suggest that the horse-whip and fungo bat might be the only means to re-educate members of congress. It would be fun joining a mob to chase such puffed-up grifters around the D.C. mall - better, too, for all concerned than speed-walking on a cold morning.

One idea floating around the Internet is very good: a constitutional amendment aimed at redefining downward the alleged 'person-hood' of corporations, so as to drive vast amounts of money out of our politics. Notice that the President of the US shows no interest in this idea. If the President were an honorable fellow, he would announce his intention to decline running for a second term. A free-for-all in the Democratic Party may be the only thing that can save it from extinction. Not since the Whigs under Millard Fillmore has a US political party been so feeble and purposeless. It can crawl off and die now. Something else will take its place, I'm sure. I wish Occupy Wall Street would show up at the next Republican candidates' debate and hurl bushels of rotten tomatoes at the fakers and imbeciles arrayed on the stage. They need to be publicly humiliated beyond their own self-induced humiliations when they open their pie-holes to yap about 'faith in God' and 'liberty' and 'family values' and all the other mendacious platitudes from their scanty trick-bag of so-called ideas.."


James Howard Kunstler is an author and among the leading voices in the charge to be prepared to change how we live as Peak Oil approaches. He is the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century as well as the fiction novel World Made by Hand: A Novel.

24 October, 2011

Underemployed And Hating Life

Underemployed And Hating Life: "Today, millions of smart, hard working Americans are flipping burgers, waiting tables or working dead end retail jobs not because they want to, but because they have no other options. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 14 million Americans are currently unemployed and another 9.3 million Americans are currently 'underemployed'. During this economic downturn, a lot of Americans have been forced to take part-time jobs because they have been unable to find full-time jobs. For many, this can be a soul-crushing experience. It can be easy to become very bitter when you have worked very hard all your life and yet you find yourself having to take a job that only pays you a fraction of what you used to make. A lot of young college graduates end up hating life because the only jobs that they can seem to find do not even require a college degree and don't even come close to enabling them to keep up with their crippling student loan debt payments. Sadly, the underemployment problem continues to grow even worse. In September alone, the number of underemployed Americans rose by close to half a million..."

Are Packs of Wild Dogs Roaming the North Side Of St. Louis?

Signs of the ongoing collapse of civilization...


Are Packs of Wild Dogs Roaming the North Side Of St. Louis? - CBS St. Louis: "Ten years after a fourth-grade boy was attacked and nearly eaten alive by wild dogs in north St. Louis, city leaders are scrambling to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed is sounding the alarm. 'I’ve witnessed packs of dogs, 10 and 15 dogs running together, and I’ve seen all these dogs I’m talking about they don’t have collars, they don’t have tags, these are truly wild dogs,' he said.

Reed says stray dogs are terrorizing the north side. 'It’s obscene that parents have to walk their kids to school, in some parts of the city, with a golf club to fend off wild dogs.'..."

First Look at U.S. Pay Data, It’s Awful

Didn't someone once refer to our current situation as a "recovery"?...


First look at US pay data, it’s awful | David Cay Johnston: "Anyone who wants to understand the enduring nature of Occupy Wall Street and similar protests across the country need only look at the first official data on 2010 paychecks, which the U.S. government posted on the Internet on Wednesday.

The figures from payroll taxes reported to the Social Security Administration on jobs and pay are, in a word, awful.

These are important and powerful figures. Maybe the reason the government does not announce their release — and so far I am the only journalist who writes about them each year — is the data show how the United States smolders while Washington fiddles

There were fewer jobs and they paid less last year, except at the very top where, the number of people making more than $1 million increased by 20 percent over 2009.

The median paycheck — half made more, half less — fell again in 2010, down 1.2 percent to $26,364. That works out to $507 a week, the lowest level, after adjusting for inflation, since 1999.

The number of Americans with any work fell again last year, down by more than a half million from 2009 to less than 150.4 million..."

FEMA: Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test

FEMA: Nationwide EAS Test: "FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will conduct the first nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test on November 9, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

FEMA, the FCC, and NOAA’s vision for improving the EAS is incremental, which means testing the readiness and effectiveness of the EAS as it currently exists today is the first step. A more effective and functional EAS requires continual testing to identify necessary improvements so that all levels of the system can better serve our communities and deliver critical information that will save lives and property.

EAS Participants provide a critical public service to the nation as the resilient backbone of alert and warning when all other means of communication are unavailable. EAS Participants include all broadcasters, satellite and digital radio and television, cable television and wireline video providers who ensure the system is at a constant state of readiness..."

20 October, 2011

The Coming Derivatives Crisis That Could Destroy The Entire Global Financial System

The Coming Derivatives Crisis That Could Destroy The Entire Global Financial System: "Most people have no idea that Wall Street has become a gigantic financial casino. The big Wall Street banks are making tens of billions of dollars a year in the derivatives market, and nobody in the financial community wants the party to end. The word "derivatives" sounds complicated and technical, but understanding them is really not that hard. A derivative is essentially a fancy way of saying that a bet has been made. Originally, these bets were designed to hedge risk, but today the derivatives market has mushroomed into a mountain of speculation unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market go from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion. Keep in mind that the GDP of the entire world is only somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 trillion. The danger to the global financial system posed by derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them 'financial weapons of mass destruction'. For now, the financial powers that be are trying to keep the casino rolling, but it is inevitable that at some point this entire mess is going to come crashing down. When it does, we are going to be facing a derivatives crisis that really could destroy the entire global financial system..."

Megabanks Trying To Prevent Bank Runs in the United States

Activist Post: The Megabanks are trying to prevent bank runs in the United States (Video): "Megabanks around the world are reeling from their customers removing their capital and closing their accounts. People are standing up worldwide in a non-participational form of civil disobedience in order to do anything possible to bring down these corrupt megabanks.

There was an Italian bank run scare in at the beginning of August that really started the gears in motion for the possibilities of future bank runs.

Financial blogs predicted a run on the French banks during the economic turmoil in the EU and Eurozone countries.] Many corporations in France have moved their money out of French banks and into safer short term holdings for the time being.

Similar bank runs in August occurred in the United States, and the megabank Bank Of America had to employ the assistance of the St. Louis SWAT Team to prevent customers from closing their accounts and moving their money to smaller banks..."

Growing Trend: Thieves Raid Vegetable Gardens in Indianapolis, New York and Chicago

Growing Trend: Thieves Raid Vegetable Gardens in Indianapolis, New York and Chicago: "As the economy sours, food prices continue to rise, and more people find themselves out of work, it is becoming increasingly difficult to put food on the table. This is evidenced by the record numbers of Americans on food stamps with supplemental nutritional assistance program participation rates quickly approaching 50 million people.

As a result, those who have lost everything or can’t afford to buy their own food are now turning to theft to make ends meet. Reports from Chicago, Indianapolis, New York and other cities across the country indicate that organized teams of thieves are turning to a growing criminal trend..."

19 October, 2011

The New Reality For U.S. Cities: No Money For Street Lights, Roving Packs Of Wild Dogs And Open-Air Drug Markets

The New Reality For U.S. Cities: No Money For Street Lights, Roving Packs Of Wild Dogs And Open-Air Drug Markets: "If you want to know what the early stages of an economic collapse look like, just walk around some of the downtown areas of our major cities. Today, nearly all large U.S. cities are either flat broke or they are on the way to being flat broke. Yes, New York City and Washington D.C. (and a few others) are still doing fairly well, but for most U.S. cities economic reality is catching up with them very quickly. Right now, there are a number of major cities that are so broke that they cannot keep the street lights operating. Down in St. Louis, parents in some areas are carrying golf clubs with them as they walk their kids to school in order to fend off roving packs of wild dogs. In other major U.S. cities, open-air drug markets conduct business without fear. All over the United States, cities that used to be clean and prosperous and full of hope are now being transformed into post-industrial wastelands. We are certainly not in 'Mad Max' territory yet, but it doesn't take too much imagination to see where all of this is headed..."

In Debt Up To Our Eyeballs

In Debt Up To Our Eyeballs: "The entire financial system of the western world is designed to be a debt spiral. The total amount of money and and the total amount of debt are supposed to continually expand. Today, we are in debt up to our eyeballs and it seems like nearly everyone is talking about 'deleveraging' and reducing government debt. But in a world where the entire financial system is based on debt, is there any way for massive deleveraging to take place without plunging us all into a horrific worldwide depression? The governments of the western world have had a lot of fun spending money as if there was no tomorrow, but now tomorrow has arrived and all of that debt is rapidly catching up with us. Politicians in Europe and in the United States are running around trying to come up with a 'plan', but there is no 'plan' that is going to fix the current debt-based system. Over the next few years we are going to reap what we have sown..."

Free Trade Or Fair Trade? 20 Reasons Why All Americans Should Be Against The Insane Trade Policies Of The Globalists

Free Trade Or Fair Trade? 20 Reasons Why All Americans Should Be Against The Insane Trade Policies Of The Globalists: "It is absolutely amazing how many Americans are still convinced that more "free trade" is the answer to our economic problems. The truth is that there is a vast difference between 'free trade' and 'fair trade', and in this article I will prove that all true conservatives and all true liberals should be completely against the insane trade policies of the federal government. Yes, we will always need to trade with other nations. Other nations make or have things that we need to trade for. Balanced trade relationships with other nations that have similar economies and that share similar values can be very beneficial. For example, our trading relationship with Canada, though not perfect, is generally beneficial to both sides. However, the United States also has dozens of trading relationships that are highly destructive to the U.S. economy. There are some predatory nations that are blatantly and openly cheating and everyone can see it. They are getting away with bloody murder and they are robbing us blind. The United States of America is being taken advantage of, and as a result thousands of good businesses are being destroyed and millions of good jobs are being lost. If you are an American and you are in favor of all of the unfair trade that is currently going on, then either you don't know much about economics or you actually want to see the U.S. economy be destroyed..."

Architecture Contest Calls for Zombie-Proof Home Designs

Architecture Contest Calls for Zombie-Proof Home Designs - Yahoo! News: "Between diseases, global warming and falling satellites, we have a lot to worry about these days – but let’s not forget about the looming threat of a zombie apocalypse.

To help us prepare for this potential undead disaster, the folks at Architects Southwest, an architecture firm based in Louisiana, have launched the 2011 Zombie Safe House Competition. The organization has tasked artists, architects and other zombie enthusiasts with one goal: Design a haven that can withstand a full-on zombie assault on civilization as we know it..."

18 October, 2011

FBI Recording Radio/Podcast Call-Ins

Prison Planet.com » FBI Records Talk Radio: "If you call in to the Alex Jones Show or hundreds of other talk radio stations around the country that maintain a web presence, there is a good chance the FBI will record(sp?) you.

Mark Weaver, writing for WMAL talk radio in Washington, D.C., reports that the FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record all the internet broadcast talk radio it can find.

'This doesn’t give us any enhanced capability, prying into or any ‘big brother’ concerns because this is information that’s being put out on the airwaves,' FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told WMAL.com. 'Its very important to our investigators to know what’s being reported.'

In order to make his point, Bresson cited the Times Square non-bomber. 'It’s ideal for cases like that because we can extract information that’s already been reported and help our investigators make better decisions.'

If you believe this explanation, I have a bridge to sell you..."

Joblessness: An American Epidemic

Joblessness: An American Epidemic: "There will be no economic recovery until there is a jobs recovery.

Broken down and in ruins, the city of Detroit is feeling the full force of America’s economic decline. One in three residents live below the poverty line, half of the city’s public schools are closing, and crime is sky rocketing.

The Capitol of the country’s motor industry has an unemployment rate of just under 30%. But city officials and residents say the real figure is close to 50%.

They can downplay and manipulate these statistics all they want, but acceptance of the problem and the reality of the situation is the only way we’ll be able to move forward with real, meaningful change (not the campaign slogan, but actualization). So long as the narrative being shoved down the throats of the American public is one of denial and deception, the situation will only get worse.

Unemployment is going to continue to get higher. Inflation is going to continue to get higher. And, rather than trying to pretend that the situation is not as bad as it is we need to accept how bad it is, because then we have a better chance of recognizing the mistakes that we’re making.

Peter Schiff

All we have to do is to look at Detroit and we can see what the future holds for the rest of America..."

Big Trouble Brewing

Big Trouble Brewing - Blogs at Chris Martenson: "I do not toss around the idea of a market crash lightly. If you've been following me long enough, you know that only in very rare instances do I issue a cautionary Alert (I've only issued four since my website launched in 2008), and I am generally not given to hyperbole.

Let's be clear: I'm not issuing an Alert at this time. But I am concerned that a materially adverse disruption to the financial markets is increasingly likely in the near future..."

Brooklyn Grange is the World's Largest Rooftop Farm!

Brooklyn Grange is the World's Largest Rooftop Farm! Inhabitat New York City: "Located atop a six-story 1919 warehouse, the 40,000 square foot organic Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm built by Bromley Caldari Architects is believe to be the largest of its kind in the world! The almost 1-acre farm is an oasis surrounded by little greenery and lots of concrete in Queens at 37-18 Northern Boulevard. After a successful first growing and selling season that began in the spring of 2010, the farmers at Brooklyn Grange are continuing their production of organic produce that includes 40 varietals of juicy tomatoes, peppers, fennel, salad greens, kale, swiss chard, beans of all sorts and a variety of delicious root vegetables like beets, carrots, and radishes, as well as plenty of herbs..."

17 October, 2011

Billion Tonne Comet May Have Missed Earth By A Few Hundred Kilometres in 1883

Billion Tonne Comet May Have Missed Earth By A Few Hundred Kilometres in 1883 - Technology Review: "On 12th and 13th August 1883, an astronomer at a small observatory in Zacatecas in Mexico made an extraordinary observation. José Bonilla counted some 450 objects, each surrounded by a kind of mist, passing across the face of the Sun.

Bonilla published his account of this event in a French journal called L'Astronomie in 1886. Unable to account for the phenomenon, the editor of the journal suggested, rather incredulously, that it must have been caused by birds, insects or dust passing front of the Bonilla's telescope. (Since then, others have adopted Bonilla's observations as the first evidence of UFOs.)

Today, Hector Manterola at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and a couple of pals, give a different interpretation. They think that Bonilla must have been seeing fragments of a comet that had recently broken up. This explains the 'misty' appearance of the pieces and why they were so close together.

But there's much more that Manterola and co have deduced. They point out that nobody else on the planet seems to have seen this comet passing in front of the Sun, even though the nearest observatories in those days were just a few hundred kilometres away.

That can be explained using parallax. If the fragments were close to Earth, parallax would have ensured that they would not have been in line with the Sun even for observers nearby. And since Mexico is at the same latitude as the Sahara, northern India and south-east Asia, it's not hard to imagine that nobody else was looking.

Manterola and pals have used this to place limits on how close the fragments must have been: between 600 km and 8000 km of Earth. That's just a hair's breadth.

What's more, Manterola and co estimate that these objects must have ranged in size from 50 to 800 metres across and that the parent comet must originally have tipped the scales at a billion tonnes or more, that's huge, approaching the size of Halley's comet...

... One puzzle is why nobody else saw this comet. It must have been particularly dull to have escaped observation before and after its close approach. However, Manterola and co suggest that it may have been a comet called Pons-Brooks seen that same year by American astronomers.

Manterola and co end their paper by spelling out just how close Earth may have come to catastrophe that day. They point out that Bonilla observed these objects for about three and a half hours over two days. This implies an average of 131 objects per hour and a total of 3275 objects in the time between observations.

Each fragment was at least as big as the one thought to have hit Tunguska. Manterola and co end with this: 'So if they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.'

A sobering thought..."

Billionare Investor Says Stock-Up On Guns, Gold and Nickels

Some Words Of Advice From Kyle Bass ZeroHedge: "Michael Lewis' latest compilation of Vanity Fair articles into book format, Boomerang, is the usual entertaining romp around those back and front waters of the world that are currently on the verge of bankruptcy: from Greece, to Ireland, to Germany and, of course, to California. The premise at its core is an interview that the former Salomon bond salesman had with investing wunderkind Kyle Bass several years back which inspired to him to ask what it is that the Texan saw three years ago that so few others, due to a permafrosty cognitive bias or what have you, could (i.e., that the world is bankrupt and getting much worse). Oh, did we say wunderkind? We meant billionaire. Because unlike that other 'anti-Midas' who only piggybacked on the good ideas, while blowing up LPs when left to his own non-Goldman Sachs facilitated devices, Bass actually could always see the big picture for what it is. So courtesy of Lewis' latest book, here are three pieces of advice from Bass to people everywhere, which will surely bring the fanatically jealous anti-gold crew to accusations that Bass made his billions from buying and reselling tinfoil hats.

On gold:

A guy sitting in an office in Dallas, Texas, making sweeping claims about the future of countries he’d hardly set foot in: how on earth could he know how a bunch of people he’d never met might behave? As he laid out his ideas I had an experience I’ve often had, while listening to people who seem perfectly certain about uncertain events. One part of me was swept away by his argument and began to worry the world was about to collapse; the other part suspected he might be nuts. 'That’s great,' I said, but I was already thinking about the flight I needed to catch. 'But even if you’re right, what can any normal person do about it?'

He stared at me as if he’d just seen an interesting sight: the world’s stupidest man.

'What do you tell your mother when she asks you where to put her money?' I asked.

'Guns and gold,' he said simply.

'Guns and gold,' I said. So he was nuts.

'But not gold futures,' he said, paying no attention to my thoughts.

'You need physical gold.' He explained that when the next crisis struck, the gold futures market was likely to seize up, as there were more outstanding futures contracts than available gold. People who thought they owned gold would find they owned pieces of paper instead. He opened his desk drawer, hauled out a giant gold brick, and dropped it on the desk. 'We’ve bought a lot of this stuff.' At this point, I was giggling nervously and glancing toward the door.

So many others were giggling along. They were giggling all the way as gold rose from $800 to $1900. Probably not giggling now...

On nickels:

He still owned stacks of gold and platinum bars that had roughly doubled in value, but he remained on the lookout for hard stores of wealth as a hedge against what he assumed was the coming debasement of fiat currency. Nickels, for instance.

'The value of the metal in a nickel is worth six point eight cents,' he said. 'Did you know that?'

I didn’t.

'I just bought a million dollars’ worth of them,' he said, and then, perhaps sensing I couldn’t do the math: 'twenty million nickels.'

'You bought twenty million nickels?'


'How do you buy twenty million nickels?'

'Actually, it’s very difficult,' he said, and then explained that he had to call his bank and talk them into ordering him twenty million nickels. The bank had finally done it, but the Federal Reserve had its own questions. 'The Fed apparently called my guy at the bank,' he says. 'They asked him, ‘Why do you want all these nickels?’ So he called me and asked, ‘Why do you want all these nickels?’ And I said, ‘I just like nickels.’'

He pulled out a photograph of his nickels and handed it to me. There they were, piled up on giant wooden pallets in a Brink’s vault in downtown Dallas.

'I’m telling you, in the next two years they’ll change the content of the nickel,' he said. 'You really ought to call your bank and buy some now.'

And on how to prepare for what is coming and why it is coming:

We hopped into his Hummer, decorated with bumper stickers (God Bless Our Troops, Especially Our Snipers) and customized to maximize the amount of fun its owner could have in it: for instance, he could press a button and, James Bond–like, coat the road behind him in giant tacks. We roared out into the Texas hill country, where, with the fortune he’d made off the subprime crisis, Kyle Bass had purchased what amounted to a fort: a forty-thousand-square-foot ranch house on thousands of acres in the middle of nowhere, with its own water supply, and an arsenal of automatic weapons and sniper rifles and small explosives to equip a battalion. That night we tore around his property in the back of his U.S. Army jeep, firing the very latest-issue U.S. Army sniper rifles, equipped with infrared scopes, at the beavers that he felt were a menace to his waterways. 'There are these explosives you can buy on the Internet,' he said, as we bounded over the yellow hills. 'It’s a molecular reaction. FedEx will deliver hundreds of pounds of these things.' The few beavers that survived the initial night rifle assault would wake up to watch their dams being more or less vaporized.

'It doesn’t exactly sound like a fair fight,' I said.

'Beavers are rodents,' he said.

Whatever else he was doing, he was clearly having fun. He’d spent two and a half years watching the global financial system, and the people who ran it, confirm his dark view of them. It didn’t get him down. It thrilled him to have gotten his mind around seemingly incomprehensible events. 'I’m not someone who is hell-bent on being negative his whole life,' he said. 'I think this is something we need to go through. It’s atonement. It’s atonement for the sins of the past.'

The take home: Atonement is coming, bitchez. Beavers beware..."

Louisiana Prohibits Residents From Using Cash When Buying, Selling Secondhand Goods

Activist Post: Louisiana prohibits residents from using cash when buying, selling secondhand goods: "If you buy or sell secondhand goods and live in the state of Louisiana, you can no longer use legal tender to complete such transactions. Ackel & Associates LLC (A&A), a professional law firm, explains that House Bill 195 of the 2011 Regular Session (Act 389), which was recently passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal, prohibits anyone who 'buys, sells, trades or otherwise acquires or disposes of junk or used or secondhand property [from entering] into any cash transactions in payment for the purchase of [such items].'

Besides prohibiting the use of cash, the law also requires such 'dealers' to collect personal information like name, address, driver’s license number, and license plate number from every single customer, and submit it to authorities. And the only acceptable form of payment in such situations is a personal check, money order, or electronic transfer, all of which must be carefully documented.

The stated purpose of the law, which excludes non-profits and pawn shops, is to curb criminal activity involving the reselling of stolen goods, particularly metals such as copper, silver, and gold. But according to A&A, existing Louisiana state law already requires businesses and other resellers of secondhand goods to account for transactions, and has specific laws already on the books that address the selling of stolen goods.

The new law is so broad and all-encompassing that individuals who buy and sell on sites like eBay or Craigslist using cash will also be in violation of it. Even a stay-at-home-mom who holds a garage sale with her neighbors more than once a month could be required to refuse cash from customers, as well as keep a detailed record of every single purchase made, and who made it..."

James Howard Kunstler: Going Apeshit

Going Apeshit - Clusterfuck Nation: "It was amusing to see President Obama try to align himself with the OWS movement. The genial Millard Fillmore update asked them not to 'demonize those who work on Wall Street.' Of course, demonization proceeds from the failure of this president and his appointed agents in authority to subject those who work on Wall Street to the laws that mere mortals are supposed to follow in money matters. Hence, those who work on Wall Street appear to be something other than mortals. And since their work (on Wall Street) has had a malign influence on the common weal, some might leap to the conclusion that they are malevolent non-mortals, i.e. demons.

In this early stage of the convulsion rocking the western world, especially here in the USA, a peaceful ambience rules. That is because a game is being played. We played the game in 1968. It goes like this. You get people to turn out in the streets. The idea is to promote the right of public assembly as much as to make any particular point. (In fact, banners advocating all sorts of gripes appear.) Eventually, you get a lot of people in the streets. Feelings of happy anarchy sweep the crowd, a feeling that something special is underway, that the usual rules of everyday conduct have been suspended, in a good way. The crowd basks in the sunny glow of its own mass, happy solidarity. Everybody is behaving splendidly - more to feel good about.

After a while that gets boring, especially for young males with a lot of testosterone surging from loin to brain. They want to do more than bask in the radiance of their own righteous wonderfulness. They want to engage their large muscles, even if in the service of an idea, for instance the idea that they have been swindled. It is at first a vague idea, but large. But pretty soon it coheres emergently: swindled out of our future! Yes, it is so. Thousands of demon-like beings upstairs in the curtain-wall towers around Zuccotti Park, people wearing neckties and cultured pearls in warm offices with cappuccino machines down the hall, are at this very moment setting loose trading algorithms that will swindle us out of our future! You can see them up there at their evil, glowing screens!

That's when the yoga acrobatics and the hat crocheting are put aside and the street people - their ranks swollen into a horde-like meta-organism - start to express things beyond the right of public assembly. Something unseen goes through them, perhaps like the pheromone that transforms a field full of grasshoppers into a ravening swarm of locusts. Being people, they cannot take wing. But they can press forward and up against things, and they can surely break the glass in those sleek curtain-wall buildings (so much for "transparency") beyond which the bankers sit cringing in their expensive clothing.

Surely we are heading toward a moment like that. The bank employees upstairs must be getting a little nervous, anyway, just glancing out the windows at the moiling mob below. This is apart from the tensions internally roiling the banks themselves, not to mention the entire networked system of global banking, with all its fissures and cracks, as the merry-go-round of debt flies apart under the centrifugal force of insolvency. Come to think of it, these events could not have correlated more perfectly. Just as a horrific accident in finance is about to happen, a ready-made revolutionary mob is conveniently parked outside the pilot-houses of the world's great money vessels, so as to receive the crews directly into their open arms after the smash up.

President Obama could have changed the outcome if he had actually believed in change. He could have told his attorney general to enforce the securities law. He could have replaced the zombies at the SEC and told the new ones to apply all existing regulations. Before last year's election, he could have used his legislative majorities to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and reinstate the Glass-Steagall act. He could have initiated the process of deconstructing the giant banks back into their separate functions - so that banking once again worked as a utility rather than a launching pad for colossal frauds and swindles. Not only did he fail to do any of these things, he didn't even talk about it, or try.

Obama has a lot of nerve claiming to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. He should be one of the objects of its ire. I'm not even sure Obama will get to finish out his term of office. 2012 looks like a complete horror show in the making. The way world money matters are lining up this fall, some kind of debacle seems unavoidable, much worse than the 2008 fiasco. The normal political channels are clogged and sclerotic. Our institutions are failing us. The cast of 'candidate' characters across the political spectrum convinces nobody that they can manage this republic.

The weather may determine the mood of the OWS crowd. If they don't go apeshit in the next two weeks, my guess is that the nation will hunker down into a dire, melancholy holiday season followed by a desperate winter leading to a raucous spring of political transformation - not necessarily of the best kind.

For the moment, we seem to be waiting for the proverbial first broken window."


James Howard Kunstler is an author and among the leading voices in the charge to be prepared to change how we live as Peak Oil approaches. He is the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century as well as the fiction novel World Made by Hand: A Novel.

14 October, 2011

Radiation Detector for iPhone

Scosche announces radiation detector for iPhone: "As a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, radiation detectors have been a popular item for Japanese consumers. Recognizing the market for such devices, last month Scosche - a company known for its car audio and iPod/iPhone accessories - released its RDTX-Pro radiation detector and app for iPhone and iPod touch..."

Buckle Up: America Is Getting Very Angry And The Protests Are Going To Become Much More Frightening

Buckle Up: America Is Getting Very Angry And The Protests Are Going To Become Much More Frightening: "The Occupy Wall Street protests and the rise of the Tea Party movement have both changed America, but you haven't seen anything yet. You better buckle up, because America is getting very angry and as the economy continues to decline the economic protests are going to become much more frightening in the years ahead. Americans have become very accustomed to prosperity. Now that our prosperity is vanishing, people are starting to become very angry. The scary thing is that the vast majority of our population now lives in tightly congested urban areas. That makes the potential for mass rioting and civil unrest much greater. Back in 1910, 72 percent of Americans lived in rural areas. Today, only 16 percent of Americans live in rural areas. So what happens when you have millions of incredibly angry people crammed into tightly congested metropolitan areas? Well, we are about to find out.

Over the past 4 years, we have seen some unprecedented things happen in America. First we witnessed the rise of the Tea Party movement. Initially it pretty much was a true grassroots movement but now it has been mostly taken over by establishment Republicans. Now we are witnessing the rise of Occupy Wall Street. While there are some grassroots elements to it, the reality is that Occupy Wall Street seems to be pretty much controlled by the Democrats. In fact, one individual was recently told that "Ron Paul signs are not welcome here" at a recent protest.

So we have the left and the right fighting with each other like cats and dogs. The Tea Party movement and Occupy Wall Street both pretty much hate each other.

Meanwhile, those that control both political parties are enjoying the view.

But the people that are expressing their anger through protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street are not going to be content with the status quo for long.

The truth is that there is a lot of anger in the United States today, and that anger is rapidly growing. Millions upon millions of Americans are deeply upset about the economy and about our financial system.

Right now, protests by both the Tea Party movement and Occupy Wall Street have been mostly peaceful.

But that will not last indefinitely..."

Joe Biden: There Will Be A Huge Increase In Murders And Rapes If The Federal Government Doesn’t Spend More Money To Help The Economy

Joe Biden: There Will Be A Huge Increase In Murders And Rapes If The Federal Government Doesn’t Spend More Money To Help The Economy: "An increasing number of politicians and celebrities are openly declaring that if the economy continues to decline, it could lead to civil unrest, more crime and outbreaks of violence all over America. But instead of loudly denouncing the coming violence, many of them are making it sound like the natural response for those that have lost hope in the economy is to resort to violence. This is extremely unfortunate. The truth is that violence is not the solution to any of our problems. Violence is only going to make things worse. But right now a lot of big names are warning that if significant changes are not made soon, the only alternative is going to be civil unrest and violence. In fact, one of the latest to make a bold declaration like this is Vice President Joe Biden. According to Biden, there are going to be a lot more rapes and a lot more murders if Congress does not pass Obama's jobs plan..."

Detroit Descending Into Darkness... Literally

Wayne County | DTE deal pulls out lights in Highland Park | The Detroit News: "Most of the city's street lights have been repossessed because officials failed to pay a multimillion-dollar utility bill, giving rise to concerns about safety and crime in darkened neighborhoods.

DTE Energy crews have removed about 1,400 light poles from Highland Park as part of a settlement that allowed the city to avoid paying $4 million in unpaid bills going back several years. DTE, which says the work will be completed by Oct. 31, has replaced 200 lights with newer models on street corners, but most neighborhoods remain in the dark.

Highland Park, plagued by financial trouble, was able to reduce its monthly utility bill from $62,000 to $15,000, an amount officials say fits the city's budget.

But residents and business owners complain that the resulting darkness is like a welcome mat for criminals..."

Foreign Insects, Diseases Got Into U.S.

AP IMPACT: Foreign insects, diseases got into US - Yahoo! News: "Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation's food supply.

At the time, hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department — a move that scientists say cost billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication efforts from California vineyards to Florida citrus groves.

The consequences come home to consumers in the form of higher grocery prices, substandard produce and the risk of environmental damage from chemicals needed to combat the pests..."

13 October, 2011

I Went Back to the Land to Feed My Family

I Went Back to the Land to Feed My Family - NYTimes.com: "I’M not interested in being hip or a hippie. Nor does my happiness particularly hinge on artisanal cheese. (Odd, perhaps, given that I grew up a stone fruit’s throw away from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif.)

As a 42-year-old Brooklyn mother of three, what I care about is lunch, and feeding my family on a tenuous and unpredictable income. And so I have 20 fresh-egg-producing hens and a little garden that yields everything from blackberries to butternut squash to burdock root.

My turn with spade and hoe started a few years ago when I found myself divorced and flat broke. My livelihood as a freelance writer went out the window when the economy tanked. I literally could afford beans, the dried kind, which I’d thought were for school art projects or teaching elementary math. And I didn’t know how to cook.

Luckily, my late father had hammered into me that grit was more important than talent. So, when I couldn’t afford fancy food — never mind paraben-free shampoo — for my babies, I figured, if peasants in 11th-century Sicily did all this, how hard could it be?..."

You Know That Your City Has Become A Hellhole When….

You Know That Your City Has Become A Hellhole When….: "All across America there are cities and towns that were once prosperous and beautiful that are being transformed into absolute hellholes. The scars left by the long-term economic decline of the United States are getting deeper and more gruesome. The tax base in many areas of the nation has been absolutely devastated as millions of jobs have left this country. Hundreds of cities are drowning in debt and are desperately trying to survive. Last year, city government revenues in the United States fell by another 2.3 percent. That was the fifth year in a row that we have seen a decline. Meanwhile, costs associated with health care, pensions and virtually everything else continue to explode. So what are cities doing to make ends meet? Well, one big trend that we are now witnessing is that many U.S. cities have been getting rid of huge numbers of employees. If you can believe it, 72 percent of all U.S. cities are laying workers off this year. Social services and essential infrastructure programs are also being savagely cut back in many areas of the country. The cold, hard truth is that most of our cities are flat broke and things are going to get even worse in the years ahead.

So how do you know if your own city has become a hellhole?..."

The Depression - If Only Things Were That Good

The Depression - If Only Things Were That Good - NYTimes.com: "UNDERNEATH the misery of the Great Depression, the United States economy was quietly making enormous strides during the 1930s. Television and nylon stockings were invented. Refrigerators and washing machines turned into mass-market products. Railroads became faster and roads smoother and wider. As the economic historian Alexander J. Field has said, the 1930s constituted “the most technologically progressive decade of the century.”

Economists often distinguish between cyclical trends and secular trends — which is to say, between short-term fluctuations and long-term changes in the basic structure of the economy. No decade points to the difference quite like the 1930s: cyclically, the worst decade of the 20th century, and yet, secularly, one of the best.

It would clearly be nice if we could take some comfort from this bit of history. If anything, though, the lesson of the 1930s may be the opposite one. The most worrisome aspect about our current slump is that it combines obvious short-term problems — from the financial crisis — with less obvious long-term problems. Those long-term problems include a decade-long slowdown in new-business formation, the stagnation of educational gains and the rapid growth of industries with mixed blessings, including finance and health care.

Together, these problems raise the possibility that the United States is not merely suffering through a normal, if severe, downturn. Instead, it may have entered a phase in which high unemployment is the norm..."

This Time, It Really Is Different

This Time, It Really Is Different - NYTimes.com: "...I don’t know that anything at this point could re-center the political debate, so unyielding are the two parties. But as Congress prepares to take steps, through the deliberations of the already deadlocked supercommittee, that will likely further wound our ailing economy, “The Way Forward” ought to at least give our politicians pause.

Its analysis of our problems is sobering. Its proposed solutions are far more ambitious than anything being talked about in Washington. And its prognosis, if we continue on the current path, is grim..."

12 October, 2011

Occupy America: Protests Against Wall Street and Inequality hit 70 Cities

Occupy America: protests against Wall Street and inequality hit 70 cities | World news | The Observer: "The Wall Street protests against economic inequality and corporate greed that targeted the nerve centre of American capitalism are no longer merely a New York phenomenon. This weekend, from Seattle and Los Angeles on the west coast to Providence, Rhode Island, and Tampa, Florida, on the east, as many as 70 major cities and more than 600 communities have joined the swelling wave of civil dissent. The slogan 'Occupy Wall Street' has been suitably abbreviated to a single word: 'Occupy'

'This could be the tipping point,' said Dick Steinkamp, 63, a retired Silicon Valley executive at the Occupy Seattle protest being held in the heart of the city's shopping and restaurant district . He and his wife had driven two hours from their home in Bellingham, north of Seattle, specifically to join the rally and give it support from more conventional professionals..."

Homeownership Numbers Worse Since the Great Depression

News from The Associated Press: "The American dream of homeownership has felt its biggest drop since the Great Depression, according to new 2010 census figures released Thursday.

The analysis by the Census Bureau found the homeownership rate fell to 65.1 percent last year. While that level remains the second highest decennial rate, analysts say the U.S. may never return to its mid-decade housing boom peak in which nearly 70 percent of occupied households were owned by their residents.

The reason: a longer-term economic reality of tighter credit, prolonged job losses and reduced government involvement..."

Alleged Iran Plot Could Have Been Trigger for War in Middle East

Alleged Iran plot could have been trigger for war in Middle East | World news | The Guardian: "State-sponsored or a rogue act, the killing of Saudi ambassador in the US would have ensured the Middle East went up in flames

Whoever was behind the Washington plot was ready to start a war in the Middle East. The region is already on the brink of conflict over Iran's nuclear programme, with Israel increasingly twitchy over the progress Tehran is making towards a capacity to make nuclear weapons.

Leaked US State Department cables also make clear that the Saudi king, Abdullah, has repeatedly urged the US to "cut off the head of the snake" and attack Iran.

Against that backdrop, the assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, with mass American casualties and perhaps an attack on the Israeli embassy too, would have ensured that the region went up in flames..."

Colorado Empties Popular Lake to Pay its Water Bill

Colorado empties popular lake to pay its water bill - Telegraph: "Bonny Reservoir, a much-loved tourist spot in eastern Colorado, is being drained after the state exceeded its allowance under a 1942 agreement with its neighbours on sharing the Republican River.

The case has highlighted growing tensions over the security of the water supply to the west of the US, which in recent years has suffered repeated droughts, prompting warnings of disaster..."

11 October, 2011

Economic Apocalypse Goes Mainstream: Meltdown In Two To Three Weeks; It Will Spread Everywhere; Most Serious Financial Crisis Ever; Worse Than Great Depression

Economic Apocalypse Goes Mainstream: Meltdown In Two To Three Weeks; It Will Spread Everywhere; Most Serious Financial Crisis Ever; Worse Than Great Depression: "Predictions of an economic apocalypse are no longer restricted to the realm of fringe doom and gloomers lurking in the dark corners of the internet. As we’ve previously suggested uncertainty now pervades the social consciousness, not just in America, but the world over. Every major media outlet in developed nations is now reporting on the headwinds facing the so-called recovery. The problems and threats confronting the stability of the globe can no longer be dismissed as theoretical arguments, because they are now being actualized – in real time..."

The Top 100 Statistics About The Collapse Of The Economy That Every American Voter Should Know

The Top 100 Statistics About The Collapse Of The Economy That Every American Voter Should Know: "The U.S. economy is dying and most American voters have no idea why it is happening. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and most of our politicians are not telling the truth about the collapse of the economy. This generation was handed the keys to the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen, and we have completely wrecked it. Decades of incredibly foolish decisions have left us drowning in an ocean of corruption, greed and bad debt. Thousands of businesses and millions of jobs have left the country and poverty is exploding from coast to coast. We are literally becoming a joke to the rest of the world. It is absolutely imperative that we educate America about what is happening. Until the American people truly understand the problems that we are facing, they will not be willing to implement the solutions that are necessary..."

LOL – This Stock Market Rally Is For Suckers

LOL – This Stock Market Rally Is For Suckers: "Hey, have you heard? The stock market is absolutely soaring right now. The Dow was up 330 points on Monday, and overall the Dow has risen by more than 10 percent since October 3rd. So should we all be throwing our money into the stock market in order to take advantage of this tremendous rally? Well, if you actually believe that the sovereign debt crisis has passed and that we are no longer on the verge of a massive worldwide financial crisis then I have a bridge that I would like to sell you. The stock market may be soaring, but absolutely nothing has been solved. The truth is that this stock market rally is for suckers..."

A Job Is Becoming A Dim Memory For Many Unemployed

A job is becoming a dim memory for many unemployed - Forbes.com: "For more Americans, being out of work has become a semi-permanent condition.

Nearly one-third of the unemployed - nearly 4.5 million people - have had no job for a year or more. That's a record high. Many are older workers who have found it especially hard to find jobs.

And economists say their prospects won't brighten much even after the economy starts to strengthen and hiring picks up. Even if they can find a job, it will likely pay far less than their old ones did..."

Welder Goes Into The Armageddon Business

Welder goes into the Armageddon business | 9news.com: "Riley Cook says from the recession, world political issues and natural disasters, a new idea to grind out business has been born.

'We decided to think outside the box,' Cook said.

With few construction jobs lined up, they decided to spend their time getting into the Armageddon industry by building large, black, state-of-the-art disaster shelters.

The Idea is you place it deep underground, hide the air vents so they look like trees, and with grey, fresh water, sewage and fuel tanks nearby, get inside and survive about anything - if you have the money..."

10 October, 2011

Nestle Chief Warns of New Food Riots

Nestle chief warns of new food riots - Yahoo! News: "The head of the world's biggest food company Nestle said on Friday that rising food prices have created conditions "similar" to 2008 when hunger riots took place in many countries.

'The situation is similar (to 2008). This has become the new reality,' the Swiss giant's chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe told the Salzburger Nachrichten daily in his native Austria in an interview.

'We have reached a level of food prices that is substantially higher than before. It will likely settle down at this level.

'If you live in a developing country and spend 80 percent of your income on food then of course you are going to feel it more than here (in Europe) where it is maybe eight percent.'

In 2008, the price of cereals reached historic levels, provoking a food crisis and riots in a number of African countries, as well as in Haiti and the Philippines..."

Our Land - Collateral For The National Debt

Derry Brownfield -- Our Land - Collateral For The National Debt: "... During the first three days, the group was told that the WILDERNESS CONGRESS was about beating the ozone deterioration and bringing the rain forests back. The following days were closed to the public. With only the bankers in attendance the topics discussed centered around the creation of a 'WORLD CONSERVATION BANK' with collateral being derived from receipt of wilderness properties throughout the world. This bank would have central bank powers similar to the Federal Reserve. It would create currency and loans and engage in international discounting, counter-trade, barter and swap actions. Rothschild personally conducted the monetary matters and the creation of this WORLD CONSERVATION BANK. This bank would refinance by swapping debt for assets. A country with a huge national debt would receive money to pay off the debt by swapping the debt for wilderness lands. The plan was to swap one trillion dollars of Third World Debt into this new bank. In the long term, when the countries won’t be able to pay off the loans, governments from around the world will give title to their wilderness lands to the bankers..."

James Howard Kunstler: Occupy Everything

Occupy Everything - Clusterfuck Nation: "'Recession Officially Over,' The New York Times' lead headline declared around 7 o'clock this morning. (Watch: they'll change it.) That was Part A. Part B said, 'US Incomes Kept Falling.' Welcome to What-The-Fuck Nation. I suppose if you include the cost of things like the number of auto accident victims transported by EMT squads as part of your Gross Domestic Product such contradictions to reality are possible...

... I dropped in on the Occupy Wall Street crowd down in Zuccotti Park last Thursday. It was like 1968 all over again, except there was no weed wafting on the breeze (another WTF?). The Boomer-owned-and-operated media was complaining about them all week. They were "coddled trust-funders" (an odd accusation made by people whose college enrollment status got them a draft deferment, back when college cost $500 a year). Then there was the persistent nagging over the "lack of an agenda," as if the US Department of Energy, or the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs was doing a whole lot better.

This is the funniest part to me: that leaders of a nation incapable of constructing a coherent consensus about reality can accuse its youth of not having a clear program. If the OWS movement stands for anything, it's a dire protest against the country's leaders' lack of a clear program.

For instance, what is Attorney General Eric Holder's program for prosecuting CDO swindles, the MERS racket, the bonus creamings of TBTF bank executives, the siphoning of money from the Federal Reserve to foreign banks, the misconduct at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the willful negligence of the SEC, and countless other villainies? What is Barack Obama's program for restoring the rule of law in American financial affairs? (Generally, the rule of law requires the enforcement of laws, no?).

Language is failing us, of course. When speaking of 'recession,' one is forced into using the twisted, tweaked, gamed categories of economists whose mission is to make their elected bosses look good in spite of anything reality says. I prefer the term contraction, because a.) that is what is really going on, and b.) the economists haven't got their mendacious mitts around it yet. Contraction means there is not going to be more, only less, and it implies that a reality-based society would make some attempt to acknowledge and manage having less - possibly by doing more.

Instead, our leaders only propose accounting tricks to pretend there is more when really there is less. The banking frauds of the past twenty years were a conspiracy between government and banks to provide the illusion that an economy based on happy motoring, suburban land development, continual war, and entertainment-on-demand could go on indefinitely. The public went along with it following the path of least resistance, allowing themselves to be called 'consumers.' They also went along with the nonsense out of the Supreme Court that declared corporations to be 'persons' with 'a right to free speech' where political campaign contributions were concerned - thereby assuring the wholesale purchase of the US government by Wall Street banks..."


James Howard Kunstler is an author and among the leading voices in the charge to be prepared to change how we live as Peak Oil approaches. He is the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century as well as the fiction novel World Made by Hand: A Novel.

Tiny Pacific Nation Goes Dry

Tuvalu Goes Dry - Ecocentric - TIME.com: "The tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency because it has only several days' worth of fresh water remaining, after being ravaged by an extended drought. Neighboring New Zealand and Australia have stepped in and offered to provide desalination equipment, which would keep the islands from running dry. Australia is also sending rehydration packs for use in hospitals, as well as money and fuel for the desalination plants. Residents are currently rationing water, with those in the capital of Funafuti down to two buckets a day, but the crisis point has already been reached..."

There is No Plan to Fix the Economy!

There is No Plan to Fix the Economy! | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog: "I, and many others, have said when it comes to the economy, nothing has been fixed. I thought Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke underscored that fact when he spoke yesterday in Washington D.C. for the Joint Economic Committee. Mr. Bernanke said in prepared remarks, 'There have been some positive developments: The functioning of financial markets and the banking system in the United States has improved significantly.' Of course, there was not a word about the recent credit downgrades for three big U.S. banks. I also don’t see how the banks are in so much better shape with many of their stock prices tumbling. Bernanke also admitted, 'Nevertheless, it is clear that, overall, the recovery from the crisis has been much less robust than we had hoped.' Maybe that’s why the Fed recently froze a key interest rate at near 0% for at least the next two years.

Bernanke is still saying that lethargic growth of the economy is due to 'temporary factors.' And, yet, he also told the Congressional Committee the so-called economic recovery 'is close to faltering.' I don’t see how these kinds of back and forth contradictions are not the sign of a Fed Chief with a clear view of the economy, let alone with a plan to fix it. The fact is the Fed’s lax regulations, easy money policies and massive bailouts are a big part of why the economy is in the shape it is in. To be fair, it is not all Bernanke’s fault. First of all, Alan Greenspan was no 'maestro.' The last Fed Chief who could call himself that was Paul Volcker. He raised interest rates to the moon to kill inflation, and Wall Street hated him for it. In the years leading up to Mr. Bernanke’s appointment, Greenspan was quick with his own bailouts and never saw a regulation he couldn’t bend or cut. It was Greenspan that pushed to get rid of Glass-Steagall, and from that point in 1999, it was all downhill.

Congress was basically taken over by Wall Street years ago, and instead of statesmen, all we have now are mostly bagmen. Nobody has the spine or political will to do what is necessary to right the ship of state. Congress cannot agree on anything resembling a financial plan to get America back on track. Congress is so divided that it has flirted with shutting down the government several times—this year. Now, the so-called “super committee” is supposed to cut $1.5 trillion from federal deficits by the end of next month. (By the way, this is not really a cut; it just slows the growth of government spending.) Yesterday, Bernanke warned Congress about this 'crucial objective' by saying, 'The federal budget is clearly not on a sustainable path at present. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, formed as part of the Budget Control Act, is charged with achieving $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction over the next 10 years on top of the spending caps enacted this summer. Accomplishing that goal would be a substantial step; however, more will be needed to achieve fiscal sustainability.'

Fat chance that is going to happen with Democrats and Republicans hopelessly deadlocked. One side does not want to cut spending, and the other doesn’t want to raise taxes. So, if the 'crucial objective' is for politicians to get the finances of the U.S. in order, then there is no plan. Warren Buffett would have a better chance of climbing to the top of Mount Everest than the super committee cutting $1.5 trillion. By the way, the President’s recent $450 billion jobs bill wasn’t even brought up by either party when they were questioning Bernanke. How’s that for respect. It looks like neither party considers it a viable plan for financial recovery.

Bernanke, once again, said that the Fed is prepared to take action if necessary. But, when asked if the Fed would consider a third round of major stimulus, Bernanke said the Fed has 'no immediate plans to do anything like that.' 'No immediate plans'? My bet is, sooner or later, Mr. Bernanke will be forced to start another round of money printing (quantitative easing QE3), or let the whole economy collapse. I’ll say it again; there is no plan to fix the economy."

Does The World Economy Face a Situation More Like the "Great" Depression of the 1930s or the "Long" Depression of the 1870s?

Euro Zone: 'Depression' Makes Return to Mainstream Lexicon - CNBC: "You know it's grim when the prevailing debate among economists and historians is whether the world economy faces the 'Great' depression of the 1930s or the 'Long' depression of the 1870s.

Listening to commentary surrounding the seemingly intractable sovereign debt and banking crisis in Europe, the stimulus/austerity battle in the United States and even hard-landing risks in China, gloom is fast becoming the consensus.

Only the shade of gloom, it seems, is in question. It's got so that, depending on your view of big or small government, you can pick your version of the pending depression..."