Sunday, May 9, 2010

Effort to place dome over oil well dealt setback, BP says

The effort to place a containment dome over a gushing wellhead was dealt a setback when a large volume of hydrates - crystals formed when gas combines with water - accumulated inside of the vessel, BP's chief operating officer said Saturday.

The dome was moved off to the side of the wellhead and is resting on the seabed while crews work to overcome the challenge, Doug Settles said.

Suttles said the gas hydrates are lighter than water, and as a result, made the dome buoyant. The crystals also blocked the top of the dome, which would prevent oil from being funneled to a drill ship.

"What we had to do was pick the dome back up, set it over to the side while we evaluate what options we have to actually try to prevent the hydrate formation or find some other method to try to capture the flow," Suttles said.

He said two options officials are looking at are heating the dome or adding ethanol to dissolve the hydrates.

Marc Faber on BNN in Canada 5/7/10: Dr. Doom on the Economy

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Global Governance Called for by European Central Bank - Don't believe in the NEW WORLD ORDER?

There are numerous definitions of global governance. In the economic and financial sphere I will propose that global governance comprehends not only the constellation of supranational institutions – including the international financial institutions – but also the informal groupings that have progressively emerged at the global level. Those informal forums (G7, G10, G20, etc.) are key in improving global coordination in all the areas where decision making processes remain national – whether in helping to work out agreed prudential standards and codes or to facilitate where appropriate, the coordination of economic macro-policies.

No market can survive without a set of rules. This is particularly true at the international level, where natural barriers to transactions are formidable. One of the global governance’s primary aims should be that of facilitating the proper functioning of cross-border markets and thereby of reducing transaction costs.

Jean-Claude Trichet at the Council on Foreign Relations - article
European Central Bank - Transitional Global Governance
Secretive Group of International Bankers to form a World Government?
ECB President Favors Global Governance - Forbes
(ECB) Global governance today - Forex Hound
Trichet calls for strengthening global governance amid recovery

Is Sovereign Debt Crisis Contained to Subprime?

As Americans observe the chaos in Greece, most assume that the strength of our currency, the credit worthiness of our government, and the vast expanse of two oceans, will prevent a similar scene from playing out in our streets. I believe these protections to be illusory.

Once again the vast majority fails to see a crisis in the making, even as it stares at them from close range. Just as market observers in 2007 told us that the credit crisis would be confined to the subprime mortgage market, current analysts tell us that sovereign debt problems are confined to Greece, Spain, Portugal, and perhaps Italy. They were wrong then, and I believe that they’re wrong now.

During the housing boom, subprime and prime borrowers made many of the same mistakes. Both groups overpaid for their homes, bought with low or no down payments, financed using ARMs instead of fixed rate mortgages, and repeatedly cashed out appreciated home equity through re-financings. The market largely overlooked the glaring similarities, and instead merely focused on FICO scores. Yes, prime borrowers had better credit, but their losses on underwater properties were no less devastating. As the magnitude of home price declines intensified, prime borrowers defaulted in levels that were almost as high as the subprime crowd.

So when mortgage backed securities started to go bad, it wasn’t as if the problems emanated in subprime and subsequently “contaminated” the rest of the market. All borrowers were infected with the same disease, but the symptoms merely expressed themselves sooner in subprime. The same is true on a national level, whereby Greece plays the part of the subprime borrower. Though the U.S. is considered to be the highest order of “prime” borrower, based on historic precedent, our debt to GDP levels are at crisis levels, and are not that much lower than Portugal or Spain. When off-budget and contingency liabilities are properly accounted for, one could argue that we are already in worse financial shape than Greece.

Most importantly, like Greece (and homeowners who relied on adjustable rate mortgages), we have a high percentage of short-term debt that is vulnerable to rising rates. The one key difference is that while Greece borrows in euros, a currency it cannot print, America borrows in dollars, which we can print endlessly. In reality however, this is a distinction with very little substantive difference.

What if Greece had not been a member of the euro zone and had instead borrowed in their former currency, the drachma? First, given its past history of fiscal shortfalls, Greece would not have been able to borrow nearly as much as it had (They may well have been forced to borrow in euros anyway). Under those circumstances, creditors would have been more reluctant to lend without the possibility of a German led bailout. Had Greece never adopted the euro as its currency, but nevertheless borrowed in euros, it would now face the same difficult choices, but would not be offered the carrots or sticks provided by other euro zone nations that are worried about the integrity of their currency. The IMF would have been Greece’s only possible savior.

Many of our top economists now argue that all would be well in Greece if the country was in charge of its own currency. In such a scenario, Greece would indeed have had no problems printing as many drachmas needed to pay its debts. However, would this really be a “get out of debt free” card for Greece?

The main reason the Greeks are protesting in the streets is that they do not want their benefits reduced or taxes raised to repay foreign creditors. But despite the likely domestic popularity of a drachma-printing policy, would it really get the Greeks off the hook? They would stiff their creditors by repaying them in currency of diminished value. But the same result could be achieved through an honest debt restructuring, which would involve “haircuts” for all creditors. In a restructuring, the pain falls most squarely on those who foolishly lent money to a “subprime” borrower.

But with inflation it’s not just foreign creditors who would suffer. Every Greek citizen who has savings in drachma would suffer. Every Greek citizen who works for wages would suffer. Sure nominal benefits are preserved and taxes are not raised, but real purchasing power is destroyed. If the cost of living goes up, the reduction in the value of government benefits is just as real.

Of course, the negative effects on the economy of run-a-way inflation and skyrocketing interest rates are worse than what otherwise might result from an honest restructuring or even out right default. It is just amazing how few economists understand this simple fact.

Just because we can inflate does not mean we can escape the consequences of our actions. One way or another the piper must be paid. Either benefits will be cut or the real value of those benefits will be reduced. In fact, it is precisely because we can inflate our problems away that they now loom so large. With no one forcing us to make the hard choices, we constantly take the easy way out.

When creditors ultimately decide to curtail loans to America, U.S. interest rates will finally spike, and we will be confronted with even more difficult choices than those now facing Greece. Given the short maturity of our national debt, a jump in short-term rates would either result in default or massive austerity. If we choose neither, and opt to print money instead, the run-a-way inflation that will ensue will produce an even greater austerity than the one our leaders lacked the courage to impose. Those who believe rates will never rise as long as the Fed remains accommodative, or that inflation will not flare up as long as unemployment remains high, are just as foolish as those who assured us that the mortgage market was sound because national real estate prices could never fall.

Fake photo used in Science article

ABC recently reported on a letter signed by 250 scientists published in the journal Science.
The letter is accompanied by a photo of a lone Polar Bear on an ice berg credited to ISTOCKPHOTO.COM. The photo is a fake with the following note in the photo caption at Istockphoto: "This images is a photoshop design. Polarbear, ice floe, ocean and sky are real, they were just not together in the way they are now."
The same background is also available with one emperor penguin (HERE) or three (HERE




但經檢查發現,37歲王志的造血幹細胞基因類型,由男性的X Y,變成女性的XX,意味著他身上是姐姐的血型,令他擔心日後的子女也將遺傳姐姐的基因,而非他“親生”。





















































如今17歲的榮傑,在母親的教導下,不但能說得一口標準的英語,還積極學習日文,在14歲那 年,他還出版了自繪漫畫的科學字典--“Dan’s Dynamic Dictionary on Science”。字典的第一版本共售出7000多本,另外的3000本則送到了慈善機構,幫助了許多不幸兒童。
























The Original Anti-War Mother's Day

Editor’s Note: For most Americans, Mother’s Day means ordering some flowers or buying a card to express a sentimental appreciation for one’s mother, but that wasn’t what the first Mother’s Day had in mind.

The original Mother’s Day Proclamation from poet and suffragette Julia Ward Howe was a protest against the evils of war, a call to mothers to act to prevent future wars that would exact horrific tolls on their sons and the sons of others, as Gary G. Kohls reminds us:

In 1870 – 140 years ago – the disastrous human consequences of the American Civil War were becoming increasingly apparent, especially to the mothers of sons and the wives of husbands who had watched as these men proudly and patriotically marched off to “glorious” war a decade earlier.

Some of these women had probably (and regretfully) participated in the pre-war flag-waving fervor that war planners and profiteers cunningly elicit from the poor and working classes who will be doing the dirty work.

Everything changed, however, when the killing and maiming started and the permanent war wounded struggled back home with desperate needs for medical and mental health care.

Julia Ward Howe was a life-long abolitionist and therefore probably a reluctant supporter of the Union Army’s anti-slavery rationale for going to war against the pro-slavery Confederate South.

A compassionate and well-educated middle child of an upper-class family, Howe was also a poet who, in the early days of the Civil War, wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” using many biblically-based lyrics.

Though she later became a pacifist and a famous antiwar activist, her fervent anti-slavery attitudes inspired her to write that still famous song; and she did it in one sitting, in the pre-dawn darkness of Nov. 18, 1861.

Originally, Howe had thought of her song as an abolitionist anthem. However, because of some militant-sounding lyrics and the eminently marchable tune, the song soon was adopted by the Union Army as its most inspiring war song.

At the time, the Civil War also had not yet degenerated into the wholesale mutual mass slaughter made possible by the advances in weaponry that were destined to make obsolete the cavalry, the bayonet and the sword.

Grim Images

In part because of the relatively uncensored battlefield journalism of the time and the grim images of dead soldiers made possible by the invention of the camera, it didn’t take too long for peace-loving, justice-oriented activists to recognize that war was the equivalent of hell on earth.

By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, 600,000 American soldiers were dead, with no accurate count of the likely much larger number of soldiers wounded, disabled or missing in action.

Women saw their sons and husbands returning home broken in body and spirit – definitely not as heroes, as had been the pre-war hope – and the minds of Howe and other women were changed about the lie that war is glorious.

The families of the returning Civil War veterans, both North and South, also discovered that many of the soldiers who had no visible scars were emotionally disabled, a problem that actually grew worse after they were home and out of “harm’s way.”

The healing effect of time didn’t work like it was supposed to with these psychologically wounded veterans. The so-called “unwounded ones” often suffered melancholy, had nightmares, couldn’t function in society and turned suicidal, homicidal and/or anti-social.

Many of the most infamous train and bank robbers and serial killers of the late 1800s got their start as Civil War soldiers, most famously the members of the James gang.

Because of normal society’s inability to deal with massive numbers of war-traumatized veterans, the first “veterans homes” were constructed for the long-term care of the tens of thousands of invalided ex-soldiers who otherwise might have died homeless, hungry and helpless.

Many of these unfortunates were diagnosed as having “Soldiers’ Heart,” also known in the Civil War era as “Nostalgia,” a commonly incurable malady better known today as “Combat-Induced PTSD” (posttraumatic stress disorder).

The horrors of the Civil War even changed those the conflict made famous. Speaking to a graduating class of military cadets years later, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman uttered his famous truth about the nature of warfare as part of a rebuke to the era’s “chicken-hawks,” people who call for war without having experienced it.

“I confess without shame that I am tired and sick of war,” Sherman said. “Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded, who cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is Hell.”

By 1870, Julia Ward Howe had been deeply affected both by the ongoing agonies of Civil War veterans and the carnage occurring overseas in the Franco-Prussian War. Though very short, that war resulted in almost 100,000 killed in action plus another 100,000 lethally wounded or sickened.

The First Mother’s Day

So, as a humanist who cared about suffering people – as well as a feminist and a suffragette who advocated social justice – Howe penned her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870 as an appeal to mothers to spare their sons and the sons of others from the depredations of war.

The Mother’s Day Proclamation was partly a lament for the useless deaths and partly a call to action to stop future wars. The call was directed, not to men, many of whom may have felt proud for their “service,” but to women, who often have proved more thoughtful and humane about issues of human suffering.

Then, on June 2, 1872, in New York City, Julia Ward Howe held the first “Mother’s Day” as an anti-war observance, a practice Howe continued in Boston for the next decade before it died out.

The modern Mother’s Day, with its apolitical message, emerged in the early Twentieth Century, with Howe’s original intent largely erased from the mainstream consciousness. Howe’s vision of an antiwar mother’s call to action was watered-down into an annual expression of sentimentality.

Like most other holidays (including religious ones), Mother’s Day in capitalist America has been transformed into just another expectation of gift-buying and gift-giving.

What was originally a call to mobilize outraged mothers to keep their sons and husbands from going off half-cocked to kill and die for some corporate war profiteer or other, became just another opportunity to market non-essential consumer goods.

Note in Howe’s proclamation below how strongly she felt that wives and mothers should never have to be put in the position of comforting or applauding their soldier-husbands or soldier-sons when they come home from war “reeking of carnage.”

In her view, the prevention of such “reeking” was so much simpler than the attempt to reverse the consequences of the “carnage” of war.

Howe also felt that mothers should never allow war-making institutions to make killers out of their sons whom they had raised to be ethical, humane people with love for humankind.

One must wonder, too, what Howe meant when she referred to “irrelevant agencies.” One can only assume that the same American military, governmental, corporate and bureaucratic agencies that have been messing things up in Iraq, Afghanistan, New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico and all over the world were also operating in the last half of the 1800s.

Wall Street and the military/industrial/congressional/media complex – the entities that dominate U.S. policymaking today – were probably in operation then, too, though surely with less exorbitant salaries, bonuses, contracts and cost overruns.

Given the ongoing horrors of war, perhaps it’s finally time for people of good will to recall Julia Ward Howe’s peacemaking vision on this Mother’s Day, 2010.

Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation of 1870:

"Arise then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

"Say firmly: 'We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.

Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.'

"From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, 'Disarm, disarm!'

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor does violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar but of God.

"In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."

Dr. Kohls is a retired physician who writes about issues of war and peace.

Expert Recommends Killing Oil-Soaked Birds

Photo Gallery: 7 Photos

A German biologist says that efforts to clean oil-drenched birds in the Gulf of Mexico are in vain. For the birds' sake, it would be faster and less painful if animal-rescue workers put them under, she says. Studies and other experts back her up.

"Kill, don't clean," is the recommendation of a German animal biologist, who this week said that massive efforts to clean oil-soaked birds in Gulf of Mexico won't do much to stop a near certain and painful death for the creatures.

Despite the short-term success in cleaning the birds and releasing them back into the wild, few, if any, have a chance of surviving, says Silvia Gaus, a biologist at the Wattenmeer National Park along the North Sea in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

"According to serious studies, the middle-term survival rate of oil-soaked birds is under 1 percent," Gaus says. "We, therefore, oppose cleaning birds."

The oil spill -- which continues to pump more than 200,000 gallons (755,000 liters) of crude into the Gulf each day -- was caused by an April 20 explosion on a BP-operated oil rig about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

In the path of the spill are several large protected areas for wildlife, including a vital nesting area for thousands of brown pelicans which were only removed from the US Endangered Species Program last year. Louisiana's Breton National Wildlife Refuge is by itself home to 34,000 birds. So far, the vast oil slick has yet to make significant landfall, limiting the numbers of birds affected, but observers worry that it is only a matter of time before beaches along America's Gulf Coast become blackened.

Birds Will Eventually Perish from Long-Term Causes

Catching and cleaning oil-soaked birds oftentimes leads to fatal amounts of stress for the animals, Gaus says. Furthermore, forcing the birds to ingest coal solutions -- or Pepto Bismol, as animal-rescue workers are doing along the Gulf Coast -- in an attempt to prevent the poisonous effects of the oil is ineffective, Gaus says. The birds will eventually perish anyway from kidney and liver damage.

Gaus speaks from 20 years of experience, and she worked on the environmental cleanup of the Pallas -- a wood-carrying cargo ship that spilled 90 tons of oil in the North Sea after running aground in October of 1998. Around 13,000 birds drown, froze or expired due to stress as a result of the Pallas spill.

Once covered in oil, a bird will use its bill and tongue to remove the toxic substance from their feathers. Despite oil's terrible taste and smell, a bird will still try and clean itself because it can't live without fluffy feathers that repel water and regulate its body temperature. "Their instinct to clean is greater than their instinct to hunt, and as long as their feathers are dirty with oil, they won't eat," Gaus says.

Kill Them 'Quickly and Painlessly'

But it's the instinct of biologists, who often feel compelled to save the birds out of duty and ethical reasons, that will ultimately lead a bird to a worse death, say some. It would be better to let the birds die in peace, Gaus says, or kill them "quickly and painlessly."

Even dyed-in-the-wool preservationists from the WWF agree with Gaus. At the time of the 2002 Prestige oil spill off the coast of Spain, a spokesman from the organization said: "Birds, those that have been covered in oil and can still be caught, can no longer be helped. … Therefore, the World Wildlife Fund is very reluctant to recommend cleaning."

The Prestige spill killed 250,000 birds. Of the thousands that were cleaned, most died within a few days, and only 600 lived and were able to be released into the wild. According to a British study of the spill, the median lifespan of a bird that was cleaned and released was only seven days.

egk -- with wire reports

Huge National Debts Could Push Euro Zone into Bankruptcy

Greece is only the beginning. The world's leading economies have long lived beyond their means, and the financial crisis caused government debt to swell dramatically. Now the bill is coming due, but not all countries will be able to pay it. By SPIEGEL staff.

Savvas Robolis is one of Greece's most distinguished economics professors. He advises cabinet ministers and union bosses. He is also a successful author and a frequent guest on the country's highest-rated talk shows. But for several days now, it has been clear to Robolis, 64, the elder statesman of Greece's left-wing academia, that he no longer has any influence.

His opposite number, Poul Thomsen, the Danish chief negotiator for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is currently something of a chief debt inspector in the virtually bankrupt Mediterranean country. He recently took three-quarters of an hour to meet with Robolis and Giannis Panagopoulos, the president of the powerful trade union confederation GSEE. At 9 a.m. on Tuesday of last week, the men met behind closed doors in a conference room in the basement of the Grande Bretagne, a luxury hotel in Athens. The mood, says Robolis, was "icy."

Robolis told the IMF negotiator that radical wage cuts would be toxic for Greece's already comatose economy. He said that the Greeks, given their weak competitive position, primarily needed innovation and investment, and that a one-sided fixation on cleaning up the national budget would destroy the last vestiges of economic strength in Greece. The IMF, according to Robolis, could not make the same mistake as it did in Argentina in the early 1990s. "Don't put Greece on ice!" the professor warned.

But the tall Dane was not very impressed. He has negotiated aid packages with Iceland, Ukraine and Romania in the past, and when he and his 20-member delegation landed in Athens on April 18, they had come to impose a rigorous austerity program on the Greeks, not to devise long-term growth programs.

Thomsen's mandate is to save the euro zone. And any Greek resistance is futile.

Time to Foot the Bill

Robolis versus Thomsen. For the moment, this is the last skirmish between the old ideas and ideals of prosperity paid for on credit and a generous state, against the new realization that the time has come to foot the bill. The only question is: Who's paying?

The euro zone is pinning its hopes on Thomsen and his team. His goal is to achieve what Europe's politicians are not confident they can do on their own, namely to bring discipline to a country that, through manipulation and financial inefficiency, has plunged the European single currency into its worst-ever crisis.

If the emergency surgery isn't successful, there will be much more at stake than the fate of the euro. Indeed, Europe could begin to erode politically as a result. The historic project of a united continent, promoted by an entire generation of politicians, could suffer irreparable damage, and European integration would suffer a serious setback -- perhaps even permanently.

And the global financial world would be faced with a new Lehman Brothers, the American investment bank that collapsed in September 2008, taking the global economy to the brink of the abyss. It was only through massive government bailout packages that a collapse of the entire financial system was averted at the time.

A similar scenario could unfold once again, except that this time it would be happening at a higher level, on the meta-level of exorbitant government debt. This fear has had Europe's politicians worried for weeks, but their crisis management efforts have failed. For months, they have been unable to contain the Greek crisis.

Attacked by Speculators

European governments agree that saving Greece is imperative. They are worried about the euro, and the Germans are concerned about their banks, which, lured by the prospect of high returns, have become saturated with government bonds from Greece and other southern European countries. They are also terrified that after a Greek bankruptcy, other weak euro countries could be attacked by speculators and forced to their knees.

There are, in fact, striking similarities to the Lehman bankruptcy. This isn't exactly surprising. The financial crisis isn't over by a long shot, but has only entered a new phase. Today, the world is no longer threatened by the debts of banks but by the debts of governments, including debts which were run up rescuing banks just a year ago.

The banking crisis has turned into a crisis of entire nations, and the subprime mortgage bubble into a government debt bubble. This is why precisely the same questions are being asked today, now that entire countries are at risk of collapse, as were being asked in the fall of 2008 when the banks were on the brink: How can the calamity be prevented without laying the ground for an even bigger disaster? Can a crisis based on debt be solved with even more debt? And who will actually rescue the rescuers in the end, the ones who overreached?

'Great Sacrifices'

Take, for example, the countries that will pay for the Greek bailout. The country could need as much as €120 billion or €130 billion -- or even more -- over the next three years.

At the weekend, euro-zone members and the IMF agreed on a €110 billion bailout package over three years. The EU will provide €80 billion in loans, with Germany's share over three years amounting to €22 billion, including €8.4 billion in the first year alone. Greece will have to impose further austerity measures in return. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said they would involve "great sacrifices," saying: "It is an unprecedented support package for an unprecedented effort by the Greek people."

Euro-zone leaders will formally launch the package, which still needs to be approved by the German Bundestag and a number of other euro-zone parliaments, at a summit on Friday. The aid will be released ahead of May 19, when Greece next needs to make debt repayments.

Caught in the Maelstrom

The money would be well invested if Athens succeeds in getting its state finances under control within the three-year time period, through rigid austerity measures and successful economic management.

But if it doesn't? Then the money, or at least some of it, will be gone. Then all the things that the rescue measures were intended to prevent could in fact transpire: Lenders would have to write off their claims, banks would have to be rescued once again, speculators would force the rest of the weak PIIGS nations (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) to their knees -- and the euro would fall apart.

If that happened, the rescuers themselves would be at risk. Even Germany, in international terms a country with relatively sound finances, has amassed enormous debts. If it became caught up in the maelstrom of a euro crisis, the consequences would be unforeseeable. The credit rating of Europe's strongest economy would be downgraded and Germany would have to pay higher and higher interest rates for more and more loans. Future generations would shoulder an even greater burden as a result.

But what is the alternative? Should Europe simply allow Greece to go bankrupt instead? In that case, the possible future scenario would happen right away instead.

One might argue that it is better to get things over quickly, even if that is painful, rather than prolonging the agony. But one can also hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end. The euro-zone countries prefer to hope, which is why they have agree to a rescue program that will provide Greece with the funds it can no longer borrow on the open market, now that it is being forced to pay such high interest rates.

'Greece being forced to buy arms'

A leading European parliamentarian has accused France and Germany of forcing Greece to buy billions of euros in arms in exchange for their bailout money.

France and Germany, while publicly urging Greece to make harsh public spending cuts, bullied its government to confirm billions of euros in arms deals, Franco-German lawmaker Daniel Cohn-Bendit alleged on Friday.

The accusation drew a stern denial from the French government.

Cohn-Bendit said he had met last week in Athens with Papandreou, a long-time friend of his, and accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy of blackmailing the Greek leader.

Cohn-Bendit accused France and Germany of making their contributions to an IMF-led rescue package for the debt-ridden Greek economy contingent on Athens honoring massive arms deals signed by Papandreou's predecessor.

"Mr. Fillon and Mr. Sarkozy told Mr. Papandreou: 'We're going to raise the money to help you, but you are going to have to continue to pay the arms contracts that we have with you,'" Cohn-Bendit said.

On Friday, eurozone leaders approved a 110-billion-euro Greek aid package in an emergency summit in Brussels.

The meeting was held in an effort to restore confidence in the euro after the Greek crisis rattled financial markets worldwide.


BP Insider: Massive Dead Zone Could Be Produced by Gulf BP-Congress Catastrophe

For OpEdNews: Rob Kall - Writer

A BP insider, providing information to, reports that scientists and engineers, fearing the worst, have envisioned a worst case scenario,

"It could very well be that the entire Gulf and the East coast of Florida could become dead zones, with no aquatic life at all."

Gulf spill flickr image
by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

BP is not just the oil company with the
worst safety record in America. It is also a criminal company, currently on criminal probation, with numerous other offenses as well. Any human with this kind of record would be jailed.

Part of the reason this situation now exists is because BP secured a release from being required to use back-up acoustic coupler shut-off valves from Dick Cheney and the Bush administration, in 2003, when Cheney held secret meetings with energy executives-- the one the Supreme Court protected the secrecy of.

BP and the entire oil industry has been enabled by the Department of the Interior'sMinerals Management Service (MMS)a division that has, to a large extent, been handed over to industry to administer and run, with former industry employees in key roles, with attention to regulations ignored or decided by industry companies, not government regulators. My source informs me that "MMS is the same failed organization that allowed the Massey mining company to get away with all its violations." While immediate calls for congressional hearings and investigations of MMS and everything surrounding the Gulf BP-Congress Catastrophe would seem to be an obvious response, my source reports that the oil industry does not want hearings now, so they're focusing attention on stopping the leaks, as a distraction.

There are many companies involved in this catastrophe though, not just BP. Anadarko Petroleum and Mitsui are minority shareholders in the oil field-- also potentially responsible for damages.

The company which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that BP subcontracted was Transocean.

Haliburton was doing the capping of the well about the time of the incident that caused the explosions, fire and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig. Normally, a drilling rig is used to drill the well. Then the well is capped, taking the piping and encasing it in cement to make it more sturdy and stable. The well is temporarily closed, with about 50 feet of pipe extending from the well-head. Then a processing rig is brought in to operate the well and tap the oil from it. The processing rig sets up new, processing piping and re-opens the well.

But something went very wrong. Apparently, during the well-head capping, a natural gas pocket came to the well-head -- that's what blew the rig up, killed the 11 people and kept feeding the fire. The oil in the well is mixed with natural gas, which is dissolved into the oil, like the fizz in soda pop. When the gas pocket it the Deepwater Horizon rig, it escaped, under the lower pressure, and flowed until it encountered some source of ignition, which caused it to explode. Gas is still a problem because of the leaking well. The deployment of the cone that BP is in the process of lowering by winch, to the well head, about a mile down, was delayed because of fear that sparks caused by scratching of the cone against the ship carrying it would ignite natural gas in the area. They had to wait until winds blew it away. (If the natural gas is that dangerous there, why isn't anyone talking about the possibility that it's also affecting sea life or even humans in the threatened areas of Louisiana and the surrounding environs.)

The plan for the cone is to place it over the leaking oil pipe. It has piping connected to it that will, hopefully draw the oil to the surface, where it can be put in an oil tanker.

According to my source, the Macondo oil field, owned/leased by BP-- the one where the well is spewing a "volcano" of oil, at what some experts estimate, based on oil slick size reported by NOAA, the leak is "throwing off 25-26,000 barrels a day." That's over a million gallons a day, far more than the 200,000 most media organizations are reporting. Reportedly, when the oil was pumping out of the well, at the surface, it was coming out at a rate of 8,000 barrels a day. That means that, without pumping, just from the pressure within the well, after rising through 5,000 feet of ocean water, there was still 8,000 barrels a day of pressure. This suggests that the release at sea-floor level would be far greater. My source reports that the pressure in the well was reported to be 135-165,000 PSi. That's massive.

In addition, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sunk with 770,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board. That may also be leaking.

The real danger, my source reports, is that the pipe and incomplete well-head will deteriorate as the highly pressurized mix of oil, dirt and rock that is spewing out of the wellhead abrades the ten inch pipe, then the 24 inch wellhead. If that happens things will get much worse. There are an estimated 44 million barrels of oil reserve in the Macondo oil field-- about 1.8 billion gallons.

According to my source, the leaking Macondo field oil well is one of about a dozen mile deep wells BP has drilled. None of them have backup remote activation acoustic blow-out preventers.
These back-up units are built so a ship at the surface of the sea can produce a sound at a certain frequency which the acoustic activator recognizes and activates, closing the well opening. These are required in wells drilled in Europe and Asia. In total, there are about 4000 undersea oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Merkel urged to put struggling Germans first

As the cash-strapped state of North Rhine-Westphalia goes to the polls on Sunday, it is clear many Germans want to put national not European Union interests first, the BBC's Oana Lungescu reports.

Election posters in Wuppertal
Could the poll outcome in Wuppertal be a sign of things to come nationally?

A closely-fought election could change the face of national politics - but that is not just in Britain.

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany's biggest state, is going to the polls on Sunday and the outcome could deal a serious blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition.

Mrs Merkel has reasons to fear voters' anger. A deeply unpopular rescue package for Greece, which critics say she tried to delay until after the vote, is being rushed through parliament this week.

Meanwhile, cities like Wuppertal in NRW are on the brink of bankruptcy.

Around a cafe table, chain-smoking men are sipping small cups of coffee. All eyes are on the violent protests in Athens, shown again and again on Greek TV.

This district of Wuppertal, in Germany's industrial heartland, is home to one of the country's biggest Greek migrant communities.

I'd rather see my mother-in-law than Angela Merkel
Greek migrant worker

For 50 years, they have worked in factories and restaurants, even set up their own school. But not many seem happy that the German chancellor is helping Greece in its hour of need.

"Why should I thank Frau Merkel?" one man asks angrily. "She is just as responsible for this mess as the Greek government."

Another one mutters: "I'd rather see my mother-in-law than Angela Merkel."

Theatre protests

Someone who can see both sides of the argument is Jannis Stergiopoulos, deputy leader of the Greek community and a former city councillor for the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD).

He is happy that Germany "is doing its duty as Europe's largest economy".

Wuppertal treasurer Johannes Slawig
If people feel that German politicians are doing things at the European level but leave them empty-handed, they won't find that credible
Johannes Slawig
Wuppertal City Hall

But, he insists: "We must not forget that there are tremendous difficulties in Germany itself. There is poverty here that one did not see 20 years ago."

Wuppertal too is crying for help.

Local theatres are staging an arts festival dedicated to Greece, including a newly commissioned opera about a mythical descent into hell.

But ironically, one of them could soon close because of the city's soaring debts.

The plan has prompted protests from theatres across Germany.

"This crisis in Wuppertal is only one of many crises to come nationwide," the theatre's artistic director Christian von Treskow explains.

"The quality of life goes down. That's what people feel bad about, when they say why are our cities going down and at the same time there are billions of euros going to Greece or to the banks."

Wuppertal's unique suspended monorail train - a feat of German engineering built more than a century ago - still runs on time, its carriages hovering in mid-air above the city.

Naked civil servant

But in the city hall, treasurer Johannes Slawig finds it hard to balance the books.

Swimming pools are closing, kindergarten fees going up, and Wuppertal could soon be bankrupt, along with 19 other cities across NRW.

About half of the state's 18 million people live there, almost as many as Greece's 11 million.

Monorail in Wuppertal
Wuppertal's unique monorail is still running

In his office, Mr Slawig has a framed cartoon showing a naked civil servant facing a robber with only his briefcase for cover.

He belongs to Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). Like many here, he believes that Germany should start thinking less about Europe and more about its own.

"We can't take on any more financial burdens. We too need support from the government," he said.

"If people feel that German politicians are doing things at the European level, but leave them empty-handed, they won't find that credible or indeed acceptable."

At the local WDR radio station, journalist Wolfgang Teiner thinks the hole in the local budget combined with the Greek crisis could swing opinion in NRW.

Until the last regional election five years ago, it was a Social Democratic stronghold. Now the centre-left and the centre-right are running neck-and-neck.

"When you talk to people in the pub, they ask: 'Why doesn't Mrs Merkel govern?' The Greek crisis has strengthened the impression that Chancellor Merkel is not the Iron Lady, but just waiting," he said.

Critics say the crisis got worse because Mrs Merkel tried to put off a rescue package until after the regional poll.


On Wuppertal's main shopping street, Petra Howarde, the owner of a fashion boutique, is angry that Germany is spending billions for Greece, while her city is sinking further into debt.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Mrs Merkel faces a tricky balancing act between domestic and EU interests

But she sounds more charitable towards Chancellor Merkel. "She is doing her best. I don't know if any other people would do better," she said.

On that same street, at a rally launching the last stage of the campaign, Mrs Merkel promised the people of Wuppertal help for the impoverished cities.

She pledged that everything she had done was in order to stabilise the euro.

But behind some 2,000 party faithful waving the slogan "NRW must stay stable", she could hear a constant barrage of boos, horns and whistles.

One man shouted: "Give the Greeks their drachma back." Another held up a hand-written sign: "The euro is dead."

Those voices remain isolated in today's Germany. And whatever happens in NRW Angela Merkel will keep her job in Berlin.

But this state is seen as a political bellwether for national politics.

If the centre-right coalition loses the majority in the upper house, it would come under further strain as it tries to get opposition support for already slow reforms.

Others in Europe are also paying heed. As the chancellor and her supporters stand up to sing the national anthem, you can almost hear a historical chapter closing.

Twenty years after reunification, Germany feels it has paid its dues to the EU. It is putting its national interests first, like any normal European country.

Greg Palast Tells How The IMF Set-Up Iceland & Greece on Alex Jones Tv

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Alex talks with New York Times-bestselling author and a journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation as well as the British newspaper The Observer, Greg Palast. Beginning in the 1970s, having earned his degree in finance studying under Milton Friedman and free-trade luminaries, Palast went on to challenge their vision of a New Global Order, working for the United Steelworkers of America, the Enron workers’ coalition in Latin America and consumer and environmental groups worldwide.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: BP abandons robots tackling gushing oil well

BP has given up on using robots to stop its leaking Gulf of Mexico oil well, but hopes that a giant dome lowered over the well could stem most of the flow by Monday.

A ?containment? dome arrived at the site on Thursday and was lowered 60m above the leak on Friday

The news came as ratings agency Standard & Poor’s revised BP’s outlook to negative, indicating a rating downgrade to AA is more likely over mounting clean-up costs.

The oil company is burning millions of dollars a day as 5,000 barrels per days of oil gushes in the sea, after a rig operated by its contractor Transocean sunk killing 11 people two weeks ago.

A “containment” dome arrived at the site on Thursday and was lowered 60m above the leak on Friday, while the sea bed was checked for debris.

The best way of stemming the flow is drilling a relief well, but this will take three months to complete. BP said on Friday that the oil spill response team has so far recovered about 30,000 barrels of oil-water mix.

The Obama administration has put off plans for expanding offshore drilling until a full review of the Gulf spill has taken place.

However, the US regulator said on Friday there were “no urgent” safety problems on the deepwater rigs it has been inspecting in the Gulf of Mexico this week.

Stock Market Collapse: More Goldman Market Rigging?

Last week, Goldman Sachs was on the congressional hot seat, grilled for fraud in its sale of complicated financial products called "synthetic CDOs." This week the heat was off, as all eyes turned to the attack of the shorts on Greek sovereign debt and the dire threat of a sovereign Greek default. By Thursday, Goldman's fraud had slipped from the headlines and Congress had been cowed into throwing in the towel on its campaign to break up the too-big-to-fail banks. On Friday, Goldman was in settlement talks with the SEC.

Goldman and Wall Street reign. Congress appears helpless to discipline the big banks, just as the European Central Bank appears helpless to prevent the collapse of the European Union. . . . Or are they?

Suspicious Market Maneuverings

The shorts circled like sharks in the Greek bond market, following a highly suspicious downgrade of Greek debt by Moody's on Monday. Ratings by private ratings agencies, long suspected of being in the pocket of Wall Street, often seem to be timed to cause stocks or bonds to jump or tumble, causing extreme reactions in the market. The Greek downgrade was unexpected because the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund had just pledged 120 billion Euros to avoid a debt default in Greece. Strategically-timed ratings downgrades of this sort are so suspicious that Indian market regulator SEBI recently created a stir by asking the rating agencies operating in India for periodic reporting concerning their fees and rating norms.

Markets were roiled further on Thursday, when the U.S. stock market suddenly lost 999 points, and just as suddenly recovered two-thirds of that loss. It appeared to be such a clear case of tampering that Maria Bartiromo blurted out on CNBC, "That is ridiculous. This really sounds like market manipulation to me."

Manipulation by whom? Markets can be rigged with computers using high-frequency trading programs (HFT), which now compose 70% of market trading; and Goldman Sachs is the undisputed leader in this new gaming technique. Matt Taibbi maintains that Goldman Sachs has been "engineering every market manipulation since the Great Depression." When Goldman does not get its way, it is in a position to throw a tantrum and crash the market. It can do this with automated market making technologies like the one invented by Max Keiser, which he claims is now being used to turbocharge market manipulation.

Whether Goldman actually crashed the market in this case will be left to conjecture, but Keiser explained in an email how it could theoretically be done:

Remove all the buy orders that you control (since HFT traffic is 70% of the order flow, if you simply pull your HFT buy orders, you remove a huge chunk of the market - in a heartbeat - leaving a sudden price vacuum). If you wanted to scare congress to vote the way you wanted them to vote - a congress that is directly invested in stocks trading on the exchange and ETF's tied to the prices on the exchange - just pull your buys. When they do what you want them to do - replace your buys. If you want to make the market go up - pull your sell orders. It works both ways. (It's all detailed in my Virtual Specialist Technology patent - how to make markets in an 'infinite inventory environment.')

Goldman was an investment firm until September 2008, when it became a "bank holding company" overnight in order to capitalize on the bank bailout, including borrowing virtually interest-free from the Federal Reserve and other banks. In January, when President Obama backed Paul Volcker in his plan to reinstate a form of the Glass-Steagall Act that would separate investment banking from commercial banking, the market collapsed on cue, and the Volcker Rule faded from the headlines.

When Goldman got dragged before Congress and the SEC in April, the Greek crisis arose as a "counterpoint," diverting attention to that growing conflagration. Greece appears to be the sacrificial play in the EU just as Lehman Brothers was in the U.S., "the hostage the kidnappers shoot to prove they mean business."

The Nuclear Option

It is still possible, however, for the European Central Bank to snatch Greece from the fire and rout the shorts. It can do this with what has been called the nuclear option -- "monetizing" the debt of Greece and other debt-laden EU countries by effectively "printing money" (quantitative easing) and buying the debt itself at very low interest rates. This is called the "nuclear option" because it would blow up the hedge funds and electronically-driven sharks prowling in Greek waters, which specialize in bringing down corporations and countries for strategic and exploitative ends.

Will the ECB proceed with this plan? Perhaps, say some experts, since the Greek bailout has evidently not quelled the bond crisis. Germany, harboring fears of a Weimar-style hyperinflation, would be expected to contest the nuclear alternative; but there is evidence that what actually triggered the Weimar inflation has been distorted in the history books. The Federal Reserve has lent massively to its member banks at near-zero interest rates without triggering hyperinflation in the United States.