Tuesday, January 12, 2010

China car sales top U.S.

PARIS (Reuters) - China's auto sales surged past the United States to reach record levels in 2009, industry figures showed on Monday, underscoring China's importance to the global auto industry as the world's biggest market.

The figures came as PSA Peugeot Citroen of France said markets were expected to show signs of recovery around the world in 2010, while Volkswagen AG said it aims to at least double its U.S. sales in coming years.

After a year in which Chinese automakers made key acquisitions abroad, Beijing's renewed incentives to bolster demand will likely keep it as a bright spot for car makers battered by the financial crisis.

Vehicle sales in the country came to a record 13.6 million units in 2009, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said, well above a previous target of 10 million units and compared with annual sales of 10.4 million cars and light trucks in the United States, the lowest level in 27 years.

The Chinese tally, which also includes heavy vehicles, is still higher than that of the United States after deducting roughly 650,000 units of heavy trucks, Orient Securities said.

"Sales have been extremely hot in most parts of last year with little seasonal changes. Many people have to wait for weeks or even months to get their cars," said Qin Xuwen, an analyst at Orient.

The past year has seen Chinese automakers venturing on to the global stage for the first time in a major way, ready to snap up brands such as Volvo and Hummer which they previously admired from afar.


Peugeot said Europe would miss out on any global upturn, forecasting a 1-digit percentage decline as state-funded scrappage schemes are removed or phased out.

"The second half should see some glimmers of improvement," it said in a statement, reporting a 2.2 percent decline in 2009 sales of new vehicles and "complete knock down" (CKD) units to 3,188,000.

It was boosted by newer models such as the Citroen C3 Picasso, its position in light commercial vehicles and its low CO2-emission line-up.

PSA shares were up 2.7 percent to 27.22 euros in early trading, taking its 2010 gain so far to 15 percent.

PSA is in cooperation talks with Mitsubishi Motors Corp of Japan.

Volkswagen, Europe's biggest car maker, said it aims to more than double its sales in the United States within the next three to four years, the head of its U.S. business said.

"We will sell 400,000 to 450,000 vehicles in 2012/13," Stefan Jacoby said on Sunday at an event in Washington, D.C. ahead of the Detroit Auto Show. VW sold 213,000 cars in the United States last year.

Meanwhile, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and investment company Genii Capital will soon have initial financing to show GM they can fund a purchase of Saab, according to daily Dagens Industri.

The paper said Ecclestone and Genii would have between 500 million Swedish crowns ($70 million) and 1 billion crowns in an account in a couple of days. However, it was not clear whether the group had sent in a formal bid for the loss-making Swedish car firm.

"I have had contacts with GM, who have given us a deadline of the beginning of this week, which I interpret as Monday through Wednesday," spokesman Lars Carlstrom said.

(Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze, Fang Yan, Jason Subler and Dominique Vidalon; Writing by Marcel Michelson; Editing by David Holmes)

US drones collecting 'too much information'

US remote-controlled spy drones used over Afghanistan and Iraq are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up with it, according to The New York Times.

The newspaper said the Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007 -- about 24 years' worth if watched continuously.

That volume is expected to multiply in the coming years as drones are added to the fleet and as some start using multiple cameras to shoot in many directions, the report said.

A group of young analysts already watches every second of the footage live as it is streamed to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and to other intelligence centers, and they quickly pass warnings about insurgents and roadside bombs to troops in the field, according to the paper.

But military officials also see much potential in using the archives of video collected by the drones for later analysis, like searching for patterns of insurgent activity over time, The Times said.

To date, only a small fraction of the stored video has been retrieved for such intelligence purposes, the paper said.































Jim Rogers - UK in Big Trouble, Obama is an Economic Illiterate

Click this link ....... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9397

How to put people to work Part 1

Click this link ..... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9399

The Alyona Show: Financial Free Fall

Click this link ...... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9396

Geithner's Backdoor Deal with AIG & Mobile Naked Street Scanners p1

Click this link ...... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9405

What Is The True Unemployment Number?

The US Bureau of Labor reports an unchanged unemployment rate of 10% for December, but just how accurate is this number? When we add the pushed-aside category of unemployed people who have given up looking for work and the involuntary part-time workers to the equation we arrive at a much more realistic figure, and it’s not a pretty picture. See the following post from Expected Returns.

This is a very weak unemployment report as every important qualitative measure of unemployment showed further weakness. There is no recovery based on the data. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Nonfarm payroll employment edged down (-85,000) in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 10.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell in construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade, while temporary help services and health care added jobs.
This is the official line. Let's take at a look at some of the statistical manipulation needed to come up with a 10% headline unemployment number.

Civilian Labor Force

The civilian labor force participation rate fell to 64.6 percent in December. The employment-population ratio declined to 58.2 percent. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged at 9.2 million in December and has been relatively flat since March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

The civilian labor force participation rate continues on its remarkable and historic downward trajectory. In order to appreciate the significance of such a contraction, it is critical to understand what the civilian labor force participation rate represents.

The civilian labor force participation rate represents the percentage of eligible, working-age individuals actively seeking work- which means looking for work in the past 4 weeks. If you haven't looked for work in the past 4 weeks, you are no longer considered unemployed in the government's land of make-believe.

Now, let's try to get a sense of how bad the unemployment situation is in what the average person would call reality, and not the land of government statistical make-believe. Curious minds will be asking why the civilian labor participation rate is declining at such a rapid pace. The answer lies in the protracted nature of the current economic downturn. From the BLS:
Among the unemployed, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up, reaching 6.1 million. In December, 4 in 10 unemployed workers were jobless for 27 weeks or longer.

It's pretty clear that when 4 out of 10 individuals are unemployed for more than 6 months, we are talking about an environment where employers are simply not hiring. When employers stop hiring, people give up looking for work, which means they are no longer part of the civilian labor force. This individual is not considered by the government as unemployed, but as a 'marginally attached worker'.
About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in December, an increase of 578,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Below is a graph of 'discouraged workers', a subset of marginally attached workers, which represents those who want work, but are not actively seeking work due to perceived weak economic conditions. I like to think of the 'discouraged worker' as an indicator of current hiring conditions. If employers are really hiring, the discouraged worker should disappear rather quickly; instead we are experiencing a continued and relentless upward trend in this category of worker.

True Unemployment Rate

I think most of us can agree that the 2.8 million 'marginally attached' workers are in fact, unemployed. If we add the 2.8 million marginally attached workers to the labor force and consider them as unemployed, we get a 11.6% unemployment rate.

Now let's incorporate what we know about marginally attached workers and the civilian labor force to come to a truer unemployment rate. Let's assume for a second that the labor participation rate is at the 67% level we saw in the beginning of the decade and see the effect this has on the unemployment rate.

This will require some simple mathematics.

The current labor force is 236,933,000. An increase from the current 64.6% labor force participation rate to 67% would be met by an attendant rise in labor participants from 153,059,000 to 158,745,000. So about 5.7 million people would be added to the labor force. If we assume the labor force participation rate declined because of an increase in marginally attached workers (unemployed for less than 12 months) and other forgotten individuals (unemployed for more than 12 months), we come up with an effective unemployment rate of 13.2% .

So, the true unemployment rate -which I define (as I think most would) as ALL people who want work but just can't find it- probably lies somewhere between 11.6% and 13.2%. If you consider individuals working part-time for economic reasons as unemployed, you get an unemployment rate north of 17.4%.

In short, the unemployment situation is a lot worse than government statistics would suggest, and this weakness will eventually be reflected in our economy.

This post has been republished from Moses Kim's blog, Expected Returns.


America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels

December was the worst month for US unemployment since the Great Recession began.

People gather across the street from the New York Stock Exchange in New York Oct. 24, 1929. Thousands of investors lost their savings in the worst stock market crash in Wall Street history five days later.
History repeating itself? President Obama has been accused by some economists of making the same mistakes policymakers in the US made in the Great Depression, which followed the Wall Street crash of 1929, pictured Photo: AP

The labour force contracted by 661,000. This did not show up in the headline jobless rate because so many Americans dropped out of the system. The broad U6 category of unemployment rose to 17.3pc. That is the one that matters.

Wall Street rallied. Bulls hope that weak jobs data will postpone monetary tightening: a silver lining in every catastrophe, or perhaps a further exhibit of market infantilism.

The home foreclosure guillotine usually drops a year or so after people lose their job, and exhaust their savings. The local sheriff will escort them out of the door, often with some sympathy –– just like the police in 1932, mostly Irish Catholics who tithed 1pc of their pay for soup kitchens.

Realtytrac says defaults and repossessions have been running at over 300,000 a month since February. One million American families lost their homes in the fourth quarter. Moody's Economy.com expects another 2.4m homes to go this year. Taken together, this looks awfully like Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

Judges are finding ways to block evictions. One magistrate in Minnesota halted a case calling the creditor "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive". We are not far from a de facto moratorium in some areas.

This is how it ended between 1932 and 1934, when half the US states declared moratoria or "Farm Holidays". Such flexibility innoculated America's democracy against the appeal of Red Unions and Coughlin Fascists. The home siezures are occurring despite frantic efforts by the Obama administration to delay the process.

This policy is entirely justified given the scale of the social crisis. But it also masks the continued rot in the housing market, allows lenders to hide losses, and stores up an ever larger overhang of unsold properties. It takes heroic naivety to think the US housing market has turned the corner (apologies to Goldman Sachs, as always). The fuse has yet to detonate on the next mortgage bomb, $134bn (£83bn) of "option ARM" contracts due to reset violently upwards this year and next.

US house prices have eked out five months of gains on the Case-Shiller index, but momentum stalled in October in half the cities even before the latest surge of 40 basis points in mortgage rates. Karl Case (of the index) says prices may sink another 15pc. "If the 2008 and 2009 loans go bad, then we're back where we were before – in a nightmare."

David Rosenberg from Gluskin Sheff said it is remarkable how little traction has been achieved by zero rates and the greatest fiscal blitz of all time. The US economy grew at a 2.2pc rate in the third quarter (entirely due to Obama stimulus). This compares to an average of 7.3pc in the first quarter of every recovery since the Second World War.

Fed hawks are playing with fire by talking up about exit strategies, not for the first time. This is what they did in June 2008. We know what happened three months later. For the record, manufacturing capacity use at 67.2pc, and "auto-buying intentions" are the lowest ever.

The Fed's own Monetary Multiplier crashed to an all-time low of 0.809 in mid-December. Commercial paper has shrunk by $280bn ($175bn) in since October. Bank credit has been racing down a hair-raising black run since June. It has dropped from $10.844 trillion to $9.013 trillion since November 25. The MZM money supply is contracting at a 3pc annual rate. Broad M3 money is contracting at over 5pc.

Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research said the Fed is baking deflation into the pie later this year, and perhaps a double-dip recession. Europe is even worse.

This has not stopped an army of commentators is trying to bounce the Fed into early rate rises. They accuse Ben Bernanke of repeating the error of 2004 when the Fed waited too long. Sometimes you just want to scream. In 2004 there was no housing collapse, unemployment was 5.5pc, banks were in rude good health, and the Fed Multiplier was 1.73.

How anybody can see imminent inflation in the dying embers of core PCE, just 0.1pc in November, is beyond me.

Mr Rosenberg is asked by clients why Wall Street does not seem to agree with his grim analysis.

His answer is that this is the same Mr Market that bought stocks in October 1987 when they were 25pc overvalued on Shiller "10-year normalized earnings basis" – exactly as they are today – and bought them at even more overvalued prices in 2007, long after the property crash had begun, Bear Stearns funds had imploded, and credit had its August heart attack. The stock market has become a lagging indicator. Tear up the textbooks.

Snow to cost economy billions

Workers forced to stay at home by the heaviest snow in 50 years risk losing wages or holiday entitlement as companies try to recoup losses caused by the freezing weather.

Snow-bound workers 'face having pay docked' during icy weather
A sledger climbs a slope in Chesham, the Chilterns Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY

Up to three million people are thought to have missed work because of the snow on Tuesday, costing businesses £600 million, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

Parts of the country saw 1.5ft (47cm) of snow fall over night and the freezing temperatures are expected to continue for at least another two weeks. Forecasters are warning of another six days of snow, threatening continued disruption to road, rail and air transport.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research predictes that more than 2,000 companies could go bankrupt as a result of the cold snap.

Some may take steps to try to recover losses from workers' pay packets by deducting pay from workers who are trapped at home in the snow, accoring to reports.

Tesco, Asda, Marks & Spencer, and HSBC are among employers who say some of their staff may be asked to take missed days as part of their holiday entitlement or additional unpaid leave, according to the Guardian.

Barclays said If an employee on its staff is off work due to poor weather conditions, this will be authorised as paid leave and individuals will not be required to take this from their holiday entitlement.

The companies say they are being flexible and have offered a range of options to staff but unions gave warning that “scrooge bosses” who dock pay or holiday will cause “unnecessary resentment”.

A spokeswoman for Tesco told the paper that decisions would be taken on a local level: "There are lots of options for staff and stores including taking unpaid leave," she added.

A Marks & Spencer spokesman said workers who couldn't make it in were offered the opportunity to work at an alternative store. "If they don't go to work at all, it is at the discretion of the individual store manager as to whether they are paid. But they are encouraged to take the day off instead."

The closure of more than 10,000 schools yesterday meant that many parents had no option but to take time off or work from home.

But even those who can travel will face perilous conditions in coming days as an extra level of ice forms on top of the snow.

Councils are already struggling to cope. In the last three weeks, 200,000 tonnes have been spread on roads across Britain.

Salt Union, the company supplying 80 per cent of the country’s grit, admitted it could not keep up with the extra demand from councils, raising the prospect of shortages as the big freeze continues.

Some councils have been unable to take delivery of extra supplies while others rationed the use of grit, using it for major roads only, to ensure they had enough to last.

Yesterday the Government activated its "salt cell" programme that allows it to overide exisiting contracts and distribute supplies to the most needy areas.

There have also been concerns about surging demand for gas.

Demand for natural gas is almost a third above normal seasonal level, with an estimated 453 million cubic metres of gas being used yesterday, smashing the previous January record in 2003.

The Government was forced to deny reports that Britain is likely to suffer shortages after the National Grid issued a warning about consumption earlier in the week.

Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.

The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London's last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.

Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

The effects of snow-free winter in Britain are already becoming apparent. This year, for the first time ever, Hamleys, Britain's biggest toyshop, had no sledges on display in its Regent Street store. "It was a bit of a first," a spokesperson said.

Fen skating, once a popular sport on the fields of East Anglia, now takes place on indoor artificial rinks. Malcolm Robinson, of the Fenland Indoor Speed Skating Club in Peterborough, says they have not skated outside since 1997. "As a boy, I can remember being on ice most winters. Now it's few and far between," he said.

Michael Jeacock, a Cambridgeshire local historian, added that a generation was growing up "without experiencing one of the greatest joys and privileges of living in this part of the world - open-air skating".

Warmer winters have significant environmental and economic implications, and a wide range of research indicates that pests and plant diseases, usually killed back by sharp frosts, are likely to flourish. But very little research has been done on the cultural implications of climate change - into the possibility, for example, that our notion of Christmas might have to shift.

Professor Jarich Oosten, an anthropologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, says that even if we no longer see snow, it will remain culturally important.

"We don't really have wolves in Europe any more, but they are still an important part of our culture and everyone knows what they look like," he said.

David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow. Via the internet, they might wonder at polar scenes - or eventually "feel" virtual cold.

Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. "We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time," he said.

The chances are certainly now stacked against the sortof heavy snowfall in cities that inspired Impressionist painters, such as Sisley, and the 19th century poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wrote in "London Snow" of it, "stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying".

Not any more, it seems.

9/11 Truth: the Challenge to the Peace Movement [1/4]

Click this link ....... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUISz8Uwh6A

US injustice and arbitrariness as sources of terrorism

”What was the post-9/11 madness but blind revenge? What were the lockups at Guantanamo but revenge? What is joining Al-Qaeda but revenge? Is revenge a legitimate response to an attack on America? Why isn't it equally appropriate for those who have suffered sadistic American brutality?”

Failed airliner bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab told US investigators that he was only one of many trained in Yemen who plan to attack Western targets. "There are more just like me who will strike soon," he said.

FBI sources claim Abdulmutallab underwent a month-long training in Yemen; and during this training, he learned how to detonate explosives and how to pass the security check by sewing the explosives to his underwear.

According to Haaretz, Yemen's foreign minister said: “There are over 300 Al-Qaeda activists in his country and [he] requested intelligence aid from the West."

A year ago, the Yemeni government rejected US criticism of its record of combating terrorism and insisted that it could successfully handle the Yemeni detainees, who made up the largest national contingent at Guantanamo Bay.

Andy Worthington, Truthout news analyst, reported on 30 December 2009 that Yemenis make up nearly half of the remaining 198 prisoners in Guantánamo. A week earlier, six Yemenis were repatriated. Only 16 Yemenis had been freed from Guantánamo throughout the prison's long history.

An unnamed senior US administration official is reported saying that "one of the recruiting and motivational tools that it [Al-Qaeda] used in its initial announcement to generate sympathy for its cause as well as recruits was the facility at Guantanamo Bay."

Locking up "enemy combatants" without proof of any crime having been committed led to the eventual release of the large majority of Gitmo detainees. A large majority of the uncharged, tortured prisoners simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In mid-December, the Washington Post reported: “Critics of repatriation argue that sending detainees to a country where Al-Qaeda is believed to be flourishing is essentially returning soldiers to the battlefield."

If they had never been on a battlefield, how could they be returned to one? If, as there is good reason to believe, the majority of these detainees were completely innocent of any crime and had no significant connection to Al Qaeda, why would they want to become terrorists instead of celebrating their release and freedom?

The answer should be obvious to any rational thinker: they could reasonably seek revenge for the criminal mistreatment that they, their families and friends have suffered since the post-9/11 madness began with the lies of bounty hunters rewarded for delivering live bodies.

In the film “Rendition”, one question stood out as pointing to what many seem to ignore. The American who had witnessed torture in a foreign prison, his first, asked: “For every one tortured, how many enemies do we create? Ten? A hundred? A thousand?

The Boston Conservative Examiner reports: "District of Columbia Circuit Judge Richardo M. Urbina's 31 December dismissal of charges against five former Blackwater USA employees who fired upon at least 40 unarmed men, women and children in Baghdad's Nisour Square on 16 September 2007 means that Iraqi victims will not find justice in US Courts.”

How many of those men, women and children along with their families and friends, will want revenge? Can we blame them for wanting to avenge their losses? How long can we get away with treating others as lesser humans, expecting them to avoid attraction to Al Qaeda?

British journalist Kim Sengupta writes: "The ruling which clears Blackwater will confirm for Mr Salman and others in Iraq the belief that foreigners were above the law, that, in Western eyes, Iraqi lives did not, somehow, matter.” America is allowed to field terrorists, but no one else is.

Stephen Farrell of the New York Times reported (9 January 2010): “Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian suicide bomber who killed eight people at a Central Intelligence Agency outpost in Afghanistan last month, was shown in a video on Saturday [9 January] saying that the attack was carried out in revenge for the 2009 killing of the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.”

What was the post-9/11 madness but blind revenge? What were the lockups at Guantanamo but revenge? What is joining Al-Qaeda but revenge? Is revenge a legitimate response to an attack on America? Why isn't it equally appropriate for those who have suffered sadistic American brutality?

Doug Horton warned: “While seeking revenge, dig two graves – one for yourself.”

Chemical analysis links ISI to CIA killings in Khost

Washington, Jan 11(ANI): The chemical fingerprint of the bomb used by the Jordanian double agent that killed seven Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers at a US base in Khost Province of Afghanistan last week reportedly matches the kind produced by Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

According to the Daily Beast, early evidence in the December 30 bombing suggests a link to Pakistan, and the chemical fingerprint of the bomb matches an explosive type used by ISI.

“It is not possible that the Jordanian double agent received that type of explosive without the help of ISI. The problem is that CIA trusted a Jordanian, but not the Afghan operatives we offer to them. If the U.S. forces recruit, they must recruit Afghans who do not have family members in Pakistan,” the website quoted a senior Government aide to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, as saying.

Meanwhile, the CIA has declined to comment on the accusation of a possible ISI role.

Seven CIA operatives, including the chief of the base, an officer of Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate and the Afghan base security chief at the base were killed and six others were seriously wounded in the attack.

Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, and the attacker was identified as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor.

While the CIA thought that al-Balawi would be an important informant, who could help the intelligence agency to capture top leaders of the Taliban and of al-Qaeda, he actually was loyal to Islamist extremists.

The bombing was the most lethal attack against the CIA in more than 25 years, and a major setback for the agency’s operations in the region. (ANI)

"We've Never Seen this Before – Such a Huge Rally, and the Little Guy Is Out"

Joseph Stiglitz says that Wall Street is hyping up the economy to sell more stock.

Has it worked?

Well, the stock market certainly has rocketed up from its March lows.

But many investors are still avoiding equities.

As Vincent Deluard - a strategist for TrimTabs Investment Research (25% of the top 50 hedge funds in the world use TrimTabs' research for market timing) - says:

We've never seen this before – such a huge rally, and the little guy is out.
In other words, the stock market rally is due almost entirely to hedgies, pension funds, banks and other institutional investors, and not every day investors.

It is even possible that the government itself has been propping up the stock market. And Bill Gross and Nouriel Roubini say that we have a Ponzi style economy.

TrimTabs notes that small investors pulled out $14 billion net from stock mutual funds from the beginning of last year through mid-December, on top of a net $245 billion withdrawn in 2008.

Given that, at the end of September, individuals held 80% of the $19 trillion in stock in U.S. companies, both private and public - according to the Federal Reserve - recovery will not happen so long as the little guys are sitting on the sidelines.

TrimTabs notes that most of $592 billion taken out of money market mutual funds last year has gone into bond and bond-hybrid funds instead.

No wonder David Rosenberg is saying:

  • "People have been lured into two bubbles seven years apart, and for a lot of them it's over."
  • "The bulls say if the market is up this much without retail investors, just watch when they come in, but it isn't going to happen."
  • Investors who have not been spooked or angered by the market are probably too poor to buy anyway.

Egypt: New find shows slaves didn't build pyramids

CAIRO – Egypt displayed on Monday newly discovered tombs more than 4,000 years old and said they belonged to people who worked on the Great Pyramids of Giza, presenting the discovery as more evidence that slaves did not build the ancient monuments.

The series of modest nine-foot-deep shafts held a dozen skeletons of pyramid builders, perfectly preserved by dry desert sand along with jars that once contained beer and bread meant for the workers' afterlife.

The mud-brick tombs were uncovered last week in the backyard of the Giza pyramids, stretching beyond a burial site first discovered in the 1990s and dating to the 4th Dynasty (2575 B.C. to 2467 B.C.), when the great pyramids were built on the fringes of present-day Cairo.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus once described the pyramid builders as slaves, creating what Egyptologists say is a myth later propagated by Hollywood films.

Graves of the pyramid builders were first discovered in the area in 1990 when a tourist on horseback stumbled over a wall that later proved to be a tomb. Egypt's archaeology chief Zahi Hawass said that discovery and the latest finds last week show that the workers were paid laborers, rather than the slaves of popular imagination.

Hawass told reporters at the site that the find, first announced on Sunday, sheds more light on the lifestyle and origins of the pyramid builders. Most importantly, he said the workers were not recruited from slaves commonly found across Egypt during pharaonic times.

One popular myth that Egyptologists say was perpetrated in part by Hollywood movies held that ancient Israelite slaves — ancestors of the Jewish people — built the pyramids.

Amihai Mazar, professor at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says that myth stemmed from an erroneous claim by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, on a visit to Egypt in 1977, that Jews built the pyramids.

"No Jews built the pyramids because Jews didn't exist at the period when the pyramids were built," Mazar said.

Dorothy Resig, an editor of Biblical Archaeology Review in Washington D.C., said the idea probably arose from the Old Testament Book of Exodus, which says: "So the Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel with backbreaking labor" and the Pharaoh put them to work to build buildings.

"If the Hebrews built anything, then it was the city of Ramses as mentioned in Exodus," said Mazar.

Dieter Wildung, a former director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, said it is "common knowledge in serious Egyptology" that the pyramid builders were not slaves and that the construction of the pyramids and the story of the Israelites in Egypt were separated by hundreds of years.

"The myth of the slaves building pyramids is only the stuff of tabloids and Hollywood," Wildung told The Associated Press by telephone. "The world simply could not believe the pyramids were build without oppression and forced labor, but out of loyalty to the pharaohs."

Hawass said the builders came from poor Egyptian families from the north and the south, and were respected for their work — so much so that those who died during construction were bestowed the honor of being buried in the tombs near the sacred pyramids of their pharaohs.

Their proximity to the pyramids and the manner of burial in preparation for the afterlife backs this theory, Hawass said.

"No way would they have been buried so honorably if they were slaves," he said.

The tombs contained no gold or valuables, which safeguarded them from tomb-raiders throughout antiquity, and the bodies were not mummified. The skeletons were found buried in a fetal position — the head pointing to the West and the feet to the East according to ancient Egyptian beliefs, surrounded by the jars once filled with supplies for afterlife.

The men who built the last remaining wonder of the ancient world ate meat regularly and worked in three months shifts, said Hawass. It took 10,000 workers more than 30 years to build a single pyramid, Hawass said — a tenth of the work force of 100,000 that Herodotus wrote of after visiting Egypt around 450 B.C.

Hawass said evidence from the site indicates that the approximately 10,000 laborers working on the pyramids ate 21 cattle and 23 sheep sent to them daily from farms.

Though they were not slaves, the pyramid builders led a life of hard labor, said Adel Okasha, supervisor of the excavation. Their skeletons have signs of arthritis, and their lower vertebrae point to a life passed in difficulty, he said.

"Their bones tell us the story of how hard they worked," Okasha said.

Wildung said the find reinforces the notion that the pyramid builders were free men, ordinary citizens

"But let's not exaggerate here, they lived a short life and tomography skeletal studies show they suffered from bad health, very much likely because of how hard their work was."


Associated Press Writer Ian Deitch contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

Iran Six to meet this week in New York - Clinton

The Iran Six will meet this week in New York, U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton told journalists on her way to Hawaii on Monday.

A diplomatic source told RIA Novosti the meeting would take place on Saturday.

A meeting of the Iran Six - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - was scheduled for December 22, but was canceled by request of China.

The Iran Six have been trying to persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment it says it needs for electricity generation for economic and diplomatic incentives. Iran Six envoys last met in Geneva on October 1.

Iran, which is already under three sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, recently announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. Western powers suspect it of pursuing an atomic weapons program.

Britain's envoy to the UN Mark Lyall Grant said in late December that the UN Security Council could introduce new sanctions against Iran by late February unless Tehran accepts the Iran Six's offer on its controversial nuclear program.

Charles Goyette The Dollar Meltdown

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Ron Paul on Imus - The Danger of Bank Bailouts

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