Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recovery? How About 'Relapse'?

Three weeks later [after early June 2010] the celebrated property rebound, along with the stock market, ran out of bounce. After the hefty government tax credits that had propped up sales expired in April, May purchases of new homes fell 33 percent to a record low, the fewest sales since 1963. Note that the US population stood at 190 million in 1963, compared to 310 million in 2010 … a 60 percent increase.

Rebound? In the first quarter of 2010, private business paychecks shrank to new lows, representing their smallest share of personal income in US history, while government-provided benefits (social security, unemployment, food stamps, etc.) rose to record highs.

With private sector jobs being lost, incomes declining and tax bases shrinking, the increases in government spending were both unsustainable and destructive. More was being spent by the government than earned by the private sector. Not only were taxes not covering expenses, impoverished states with insufficient cash on hand to meet obligations were holding back tax refund checks!

Note: Who, other than government, could pull off such a stunt – issuing IOUs to be paid when convenient? Taxpayers and borrowers who are unable to meet their obligations lose houses, have paychecks garnished and assets seized. Students, saddled with massive loans (often $100,000 or more), earning meager wages or unemployed – and prevented from declaring bankruptcy by the prolender federal law – become indentured servants.

Some 8.5 million people (7.4 percent of the workforce) lost jobs since the Great Recession began, while local governments cut only 141,000 workers … less than 1 percent.

As the private sector contracted, government employment barely declined. By 2010, a record-low 41.9 percent of the nation’s personal income came from private wages. Moreover, government workers, traditionally earning less than private sector counterparts, were now earning double in wages and benefits; $120,000 public vs. $60,000 private.

Not burdened with competition, unconcerned with the next quarter’s profit, and with no obligation to satisfy shareholders, governments continued to keep their largely unproductive bureaucracies intact. Only the “too big to fails” – be they Big Business or Big Government – cashed in on the bailout/rescue package/stimulus plan bonanza.

As the private sector contracted, state and local spending rose 2.3 percent, and federal spending was up 3 percent.

Covertly, the United States, staunch champion of “free enterprise” and harsh critic of Europe and other nations with bloated and entrenched bureaucracies, had become what it so despised: a bloated and entrenched bureaucracy.

Soros Bailing Out of U.S. Stock Market

Billionaire trader and political manipulator,George Soros, is clearly not optimistic. The latest SEC filings are out on the Soros hedge fund, Soros Fund Management.

Between the end of March and the end of June, Soros lowered his stock investments from $8.8 billion to $5.1 billion in the fund, Soros Fund Management.

He sold most of his positions (over 95%) in Wal-Mart, J.P. Morgan Chase and Pfizer.

His biggest positionb at the end of June was in the gold ETF which accounted for 13% of his equity portfolio at $638 million.
Among the stocks that Soros added to the funds portfolio were Akamai Technologies,, Netflix, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.


by Greg Palast

Since everyone seems to have an opinion about the mosque near Ground Zero (and President Obama has two), I’d like to ask you all a couple of questions:

Given that white Christian supremacist Tim McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building, shouldn’t we ban white churches from Oklahoma?

As New York City’s indigenous Lanape Natives died at Ground Zero by the thousands when overrun by Christian colonists, shouldn’t we ban Christian churches from their sacred ground?

If a mosque near Ground Zero is bad, then why not ban all Muslims from downtown New York? For this to work, should we require all Muslims in the city to wear yellow crescents?

My office was in the WTC towers, which will now be rebuilt with all the upscale shops I remember. So, Mrs. Palin, are you saying it’s OK for Muslims to shop at Ground Zero as long as they don’t pray there?

The new tower will have the old one’s Off-Track Betting windows and bars with after-work “happy hours.” So here’s a solution to make everyone happy: Why not camouflage the mosque as a place to gamble and get into your secretary’s panties?

How about disguising it as a discount fashion shop: Kate Mosque? Or as a Disney retail outlet: Mickey Mosque?

Jamie Kilstein has suggested to me that we ban Burger Kings from Ground Zero in honor of the victims of heart disease. But Jamie, the BKs are memorials to remind us that in the eyes of God, all of us – no matter what religion – are just hamburger meat.

“O. Bin Laden” signed Glenn Beck’s petition to ban mosques from Ground Zero. Al Qaeda sure as hell doesn’t want Muslims and Christians worshipping in amicable proximity.

Several new Christian churches have been welcomed near Ground Zero … in Hiroshima.

Am I being too kum-ba-yah by suggesting some of the money raised for the mosque go to building a synagogue in Saudi Arabia, rebuilding the Latin Church in Gaza burnt by Hamas kooks, rebuilding the Babri Masjid mosque burnt down by Hindi fascists, rebuild the Hindi temples destroyed by Sinhalese Buddhists, and for Christ’s sake, build a bridge, not a wall, to share, not divide, Al-Aksa and the Dome of the Rock?


And one last question:

Why is the Right Wing so upset the President is a Black Muslim foreigner?

After all, the last bunch of Presidents, white Christians all, screwed things up so badly, why not try something different?

"Munich" and Abu Nidal


There was a time when I thought that Palestinian was a synonym for terrorist - literally.
I remember exactly when I got impression. It was in August 1972 during the Olympic Games of Munich.
I was still a child then, I knew nothing about politics, very little about history and had not yet developed any interest in watching the news or reading a newspaper.
But from the few times I did pay attention to the news I knew that those Olympic Games were special for Germany.
Everybody was talking about it them, a long time before hand. Everybody was looking forward to them. And even people who normally weren't interested in sports or just interested in soccer were now watching the events on TV.
The openenings of the Games were so impressive, all those many athlets from just about every country of the world had come to Germany, the flags, the music, the cheering, the excited talks. It seemed like my whole country was so very, very happy.
And then all of a sudden everything changed. People were killed as hostages taken and afterwards those hostages were killed as well.
Everybody was in shock and all the happiness was gone. The Games went on, but there was no excitement any more. The reporters only made sad commentaries. And for the closing ceremonies there was no music, no dancing, no performances and no cheering.
I remember a group of children about my age, the commentator told the TV audience that they had practiced for many month to perform dances for these ceremomies, but because of the events, they would now only walk through the stadium.
I remember how sad those children looked and I remember that I hated the "Palestinians" for destroying all the happiness.
It was not until years later that I found out, that "Palestinians" didn´t just mean terrorists, that it was the name of a people.
By then I had seen the movie Exodus, which gave the impression, that Palestinians (or Arabs as they are called in the movie) are people who (most of them at least) did not want to live in peace with their Jewish neighbours, who had just come to the land after having fled terrible persecution in Europe.
Years later I watched the TV movie "Sword of Gideon" about the retaliation of Mossad against the people who were supposedly responsible for the death of the Israeli athlets in Munich. While I did not like the thought of assassinations I still did sympathize with those Mossad characters.
The events of Munich had poisened my mind for a long time against the Plaestinians. And it took many years and good antidote of historic information for me to realize exactly who is the oppressor and who is the victim in Palestine.
Now Stephen Spielberg has made a remake of the "Sword of Gideon" and from what I have read this movie seems to be not quite as pro-Israeli as the older movie.
At least the main-character shows in the end doubts about his murderous mission, doubts about its ethics, doubts about its goals and even doubts about the question, if the people killed are really guilty of any crime.However this movie is, according to reviewers, still blatantly from an Israeli point of view.

Looking back on the events of Munich I can see that I was not the only one who was influenced by them to become a staunch supporter of Israel at least for quite a while. The murder of those Israeli athletes was one of the best propaganda points for the Israely side ever.
Which leads me to the question what stupid idiot was responsible for this point.
He was called Abu Nidal. And he and his organisation "Black September" have scored many more points for the Israeli side.

I found some interesting information and credible speculations on Abu Nidal and his supposedly pro-Palestinian actions:

Abu Nidal began his long and bloody career in the PLO, only to become a bitter rival of Yasser Arafat. It was a situation that the Israeli Mossad, in a manner similar to their CIA cousins, would seek to exploit.

As Middle East expert Patrick Seale writes:

Israeli penetration of Palestinian organizations was common, but it was clearly not the whole story. Most intelligence sources I consulted agreed that it was standard practice to use penetration agents not simply to neutralize or destroy the enemy but to try to manipulate him so that he did one's bidding without always being aware of doing

Whatever jobs [Abu Nidal] might have done for Arab sponsors, and they had been numerous and nasty, he had done many other jobs from which Israel alone appeared to benefit."(1312)

Confirming Seale's theory are top Middle East terrorism experts, including intelligence officers in Arab countries, and even within Abu Nidal's own organization.

One French terrorism expert stated: "If Abu Nidal himself is not an Israeli agent, then two or three of his senior people most certainly are. Nothing else can explain some of his operations."

A former senior Jordanian intelligence officer said: "Scratch around inside Abu
Nidal's organization and you will find Mossad."

Backing up these reports was a former member of Abu Nidal's own Justice Committee, who told Seale that Mossad agents captured by Abu Nidal were usually killed very quickly to prevent them from confessing their true motives. Abu Iyad, former chief of PLO Intelligence, added,
"Every Palestinian who works in intelligence is convinced that Israel has a big hand in Abu Nidal's affairs."(1313)

Nidal's organization has been responsible for some of the most brutal acts of terrorism in the world. According to the State Department, Abu Nidal has carried out more than 100 acts or terrorism that have resulted in the deaths of over 280 people. Some of these attacks include the 1986 grenade and machine-gun assaults on El Al counters at the Rome and Vienna airports, attacks on synagogues, and assassinations of Palestinian moderates.
What is curious is that Israel has never punished Abu Nidal's organization.Israel has a long-standing policy of launching immediate and massive retaliation against any terrorist attack. While Israeli forces have bombed, shelled and raided Palestinian and Shi'ite positions in Lebanon, and have sent hit teams to kill Palestinian guerrilla leaders in other countries, they have never attacked
Abu Nidal. Given Israel's harsh and unrelenting policy of retribution against terrorist attacks, this seems more than a bit bizarre. As Seale concludes: Abu Nidal is a professional killer who has sold his deadly services certainly to the Arabs and perhaps to the Israelis as well. His genius has been to understand that states will commit any crime in the name of national interest. A criminal
like Abu Nidal can flourish doing their dirty work.(1315) Former DEA agent

A curious feature of Abu Nidal's terrorism is that more than 50 percent of it has been directed against Arab and Palestinian rivals. The ANO's vicious war against the PLO has led to Arab claims that it was secretly manipulated by Israel's Mossad secret service. According to this seemingly far-fetched hypothesis, the Mossad penetrated Abu Nidal's organization and has manipulated Abu Nidal to carry out atrocities that would discredit the Palestinian cause.

The hypothesis is based on four main points:

1. Abu Nidal killings have damaged the Palestinian cause to Israel's advantage
2. the suspicious behavior of some of Abu Nidal's officials
3. the lack of attacks on Israel and lack of involvement in the Intifada,
4. and Israel's failure to retaliate against Abu Nidal's groups.

Another distinctive feature of Abu Nidal's terrorism is that the ANO has generally not concerned itself with captured ANO members, preferring to abandon them to their fate rather than to attempt to bargain for their release. These traits would seem to suggest that the ANO has been more a product of its leader's paranoid psychopathology than his ideology

Another interesting speculation on Abu Nidal is here. If you follow the link, you will see, that this was posted by Gordon Thomas in September 2001, probably before 9/11 since it was not mentioned:

Abu Nidal is back
Branded by Western intelligence services as the “grandmaster of terrorism”, who vanished from their tracking computer screens a year ago, has surfaced - and sent a surge of fear around the world.
Abu Nidal is alive and well in one of Saddam Hussein’s magnificent villas on the outskirts of Baghdad - according to intelligence reports received this week by the CIA, Mossad and French intelligence.
All three services conclude that this most feared of terrorists who has remained out of sight for a year - and has not attacked a Western target for ten years - is planning some new outrage for his new host paymaster: Saddam Hussein............
Now his confirmed presence in Baghdad has sent a collective shiver through Western capitals.
Recent killings - including the murder of an Egyptian cleric in Yemen last month - bear the hallmark of Abu Nidal. Counter-terrorism experts say their ground intelligence suggests that Nidal has solved a problem for Saddam: giving him what he lacks - a ready-made terrorist organisation able to operate world-wide.
Nidal’s ANO is believed to now number no more than 200 followers. Mossad believe that over the past few months they have slipped into Iraq via Jordan.
Many of them are veterans of terrorist attacks in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Ari Ben-Menashe, a former senior adviser to the Israeli government on counter-terrorism, told me: “Nidal and Saddam have a tortured history and their relationship is hardly based on mutual trust. Saddam financed Nidal’s early activities - only to discover that Nidal was also working with Syria - to Iraq’s disadvantage. Nidal left Baghdad in a hurry.”
But now he is back. And, for the moment at least, Nidal’s well-known history of conducting terrorist acts on behalf of his host, almost certainly has led Saddam to welcome him.

Now Gordon Thomas, the author, has written a book about the Mossad and is said to have excellent connections into the Mossad and into British intelligence.
So Mr Thomas´sources have told him that Abu Nidal was in Baghdad with Saddam ready to use his organisation for major terrorist attacks.
And after 9/11 most neocons wanted to attack Iraq right away, but were stopped by others to go after Afghanistan first.
Could it be that Abu Nidal, with him the Palestinians together with Saddam were supposed to be framed for 9/11 first? But then they were forced by the oil-interest backers into a change of plan and frame Osama to get into Afghanisthan?
Remember the cheering Israelis who gave each other high fives will filming the collaps of the WTC buildings. When they were arrested they told the police "we are Israelis, we are not your problems, the Palestinians are."
The question of course is, why did they not use the Abu Nidal story to frame Saddam? Why did they have to cook up some story of an Iraqi agent meeting Mohammed Attah in Prague?

Gunman who killed self in shootout with Dallas-area police worked security, praised officers

McKINNEY, Texas - The man who killed himself during a shootout with a suburban Dallas police department once worked as a jailer and security guard and even praised the very officers he attacked, according to associates and records.

Patrick Gray Sharp, 29, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the Collin County Medical Examiner's office said Wednesday. The announcement came a day after Sharp towed a trailer loaded with explosives into the parking lot of the McKinney police station and set his pickup truck on fire, presumably to lure officers out of the building and shoot at them.

Sharp retreated to a field across a road and fired more than 100 rounds at police headquarters, McKinney police Chief Bob Kowalski said. The trailer didn't ignite.

Sharp killed himself during the shootout. Investigators found an assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun on Sharp and later found more weapons in his home.

Nobody else was injured in the attack in the suburb of roughly 127,000 people about 30 miles north of Dallas.

Police said they don't have a motive.

"I guess the thing that's hardest for me is how did he even think of this?" said Cheryl Cox, the mother of Sharp's roommate. "What brought this out? Why would he do something in front of a police department?"

Sharp was a security guard for building wire manufacturer Encore Wire Corp. in McKinney, Cox said. A spokesman for Encore Wire told The Dallas Morning News that Sharp resigned a few days before the attack. Encore officials didn't return a call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Cox said she thought of Sharp as a son and was "shocked" by the attack. She said she had no idea why he would target McKinney police, particularly since he often praised officers when he had to call them out to his work site.

"He relied on police to solve the problems at Encore," Cox said from her home just behind the house Sharp shared with Eric McClellan in Anna, about 15 miles north of McKinney. "He never said, 'Those jerks.' Nothing. He was always praising them."

Bobby Cox, the stepfather of Sharp's roommate, said Sharp worked for him at his nursery business and was reliable and respectful. Sharp went out of his way to help nursery customers, and once moved furniture for a woman who wanted to rearrange her living room before her husband returned from Germany, Cheryl Cox said.

Neighbor Randy Mullins said he once rebuked Sharp, who used a pellet gun to shoot a dog that was wandering through the neighborhood. But Mullins said they maintained a cordial relationship and that Sharp "seemed like a real cool guy."

Starting in 2001, Sharp was twice certified as a state-licensed security officer. The two-year licenses allowed him to work uniformed security but not carry a firearm.

The second license was obtained through a company in the Dallas suburb of Richardson where he worked from February 2004 through October 2005, according to a spokesman for the company, Silver Star Security. The spokesman declined to identify the companies for which Sharp would have provided security.

Sharp's security officer's license expired in 2006 and wasn't renewed, according to Department of Public Safety records.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said he could not comment on a specific person, but said state regulations allow security guards to work without a license as long as they aren't in uniform.

The spokesman for Silver Star Security said Sharp was a good officer who left the company to pursue other opportunities.

Sharp's work as a jailer was in 2001 under a temporary license for employees of contract facilities. According to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, he worked three months at a federal prison operated by The GEO Group Inc. in San Antonio but didn't seek a permanent license when the temporary certification expired after a year.

A spokeswoman for the agency said there are no records to show why Sharp didn't complete the program required for permanent certification as a jailer.

A spokesman for The GEO Group said the company couldn't comment on specific employees.

Next page

Greek Bonds Slump As Austerity Backfires, Country Enters "Death Spiral", And The Violent End Game Approaches

Those patiently following the Greek Bond-Bund spread to its inevitable conclusion have been fully aware that the plan that Europe is betting its entire future on, is patently flawed: namely that austerity, by its definition does not, and will not work. In fact, instead of bringing stability, austerity will slowly but surely eat away at the economy of whatever country it is instituted in - in some cases slowly, in others, like Greece, very rapidly. Indeed, the Greek spread has now risen to levels last seen during the early May near-revolution in Athens, at well over 800 bps. And for the specific consequences of austerity, Germany's Spiegel has done a terrific summary of what it defines as a "death spiral" for the Mediterranean country: "Stores are closing, tax revenues are falling and unemployment has hit an unbelievable 70 percent in some places. Frustrated workers are threatening to strike back. A mixture of fear, hopelessness and anger is brewing in Greek society." Spiegel quotes a atypical Greek: ""If you take away my family's bread, I'll take you down -- the government needs to know that. And don't call us anarchists if that happens! We're heads of our families and we're desperate." All those who think violent strikes in the PIIGS are a thing of the past, we have news for you. The (pseudo) vacation season is over, and millions of workers are coming back. They may not have money, but they have lots of free time, lots of unemployment, and even more pent up anger. Things are about to get very heated once again, first in Greece, and soon after, everywhere else.

Spiegel summarizes the big picture for those who still don't get it:

The feast of the Assumption of Mary on Aug. 15 is the high point of summer in the Greek Orthodox world. Here in one of the country's many churches, believers pray to the Virgin for mercy, with many of them falling to their knees.

The newspaper Ta Nea has recommended that the Greek government adopt the very same approach -- the country's leaders have to hope that Mary comes up with a miracle to save Greece from a serious crisis, the paper writes. Without divine intervention, the newspaper suggested, it will be a difficult autumn for the Mediterranean state.

This dire prognosis comes even despite Athens' massive efforts to sort out the country's finances. The government's draconian austerity measures have managed to reduce the country's budget deficit by an almost unbelievable 39.7 percent, after previous governments had squandered tax money and falsified statistics for years. The measures have reduced government spending by a total of 10 percent, 4.5 percent more than the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) had required.

The problem is that the austerity measures have in the meantime affected every aspect of the country's economy. Purchasing power is dropping, consumption is taking a nosedive and the number of bankruptcies and unemployed are on the rise. The country's gross domestic product shrank by 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year. Tax revenue, desperately needed in order to consolidate the national finances, has dropped off. A mixture of fear, hopelessness and anger is brewing in Greek society.

The specifics on how the economy is getting skewered:

Unemployment Rates of up to 70 Percent:

There's hardly a worker in the shipbuilding district of Perama who could still manage that. Unemployment in the city hovers between 60 and 70 percent, according to a study conducted by the University of Piraeus. While 77 percent of Greek shipping companies indicate they are satisfied with the quality of work done in Perama, nearly 50 percent still send their ships to be repaired in Turkey, Korea or China. Costs are too high in Greece, they say. The country, they argue, has too much bureaucracy and too many strikes, with labor disputes often delaying delivery times.

Perama is certainly an unusually extreme case. But the shipyards' decline provides a telling example of the Greek economy's increasing inability to compete. Barely any of the country's industries can keep up with international competition in terms of productivity, and experts expect the country's gross domestic product to fall by 4 percent over the course of the entire year. Germany, by way of comparison, is hoping for growth of up to 3 percent.

Sales Figures Dropping Everywhere:

A short jaunt through Athens' shopping streets reveals the scale of the decline. Fully a quarter of the store windows on Stadiou Street bear red signs reading "Enoikiazetai" -- for rent. The National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) calculates that 17 percent of all shops in Athens have had to file for bankruptcy.

Things aren't any better in the smaller towns. Chalkidona was, until just a few years ago, a hub for trucking traffic in the area around Thessaloniki. Two main streets, lined with fast food restaurants and stores catering to truckers, intersect in the small, dismal town. Maria Lialiambidou's house sits directly on the main trucking route. Rent from a pastry shop on the ground floor of the building used to provide her with €350 per month, an amount that helped considerably in supplementing her widow's pension of €320.

A sign on the other side of the street advertises "Sakis' Restaurant." The owner, Sakis, is still hanging on, with customers filling one or two of the restaurant's tables now and then. "There's really no work for me here anymore," says one Albanian employee, who goes by the name Eleni in Greece. "Many others have already gone back to Albania, where it's not any worse than here. We'll see when I have to go too."

A pervasive depression with no way out:

The entire country is in the grip of a depression. Everything seems to be going downhill. The spiral is continuing unabated, and there is no clear way out. The worse part, however, is the fact that hardly anyone still hopes that things will improve one day.

The country's unemployment rate makes this trend particularly clear. In 2009, it was 9.5 percent. This year it may rise to 12.1 percent and economists expect it to reach 14.3 percent in 2011. Those, though, are only the official numbers, which were provided by Angel Gurría, secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Greek trade union association GSEE considers those numbers far too optimistic. It considers 20 percent to be a more likely figure for 2011. This would put the unemployment rate as high as it was in 1960, when hundreds of thousands of Greeks were forced to emigrate. Meanwhile, purchasing power has fallen to its 1984 level, according to the GSEE.

And most dangerously, 'Things Are Starting to Simmer'

Menelaos Givalos, a professor of political science at Athens University, has appeared on television, warning viewers that the worst times are still to come. He predicts a large wave of layoffs starting in September, with "extreme social consequences."

"Everything is getting more expensive, I'm hardly earning any money, and then I'm supposed to pay more taxes to help save the country? How is that supposed to work?" asks Nikos Meletis, the shipbuilder. His friends, gathered in a small cafeteria on the pier in Perama, are gradually growing more vocal. They are all unemployed, desperate and angry at the politicians who got them into this mess. There is no sympathy here for any of the political parties and no longer any for the unions either.

"They only organize strikes to serve their own interests!" shouts one man, whose name is Panayiotis Peretridis. "The only thing that interests me anymore is my daily wage. A loaf of bread is my political party. I want to help my country -- give me work and I'll pay taxes! But our honor as first-class skilled workers, as heads of families, as Greeks, is being dragged through the dirt!"

"If you take away my family's bread, I'll take you down -- the government needs to know that," Meletis says. "And don't call us anarchists if that happens! We're heads of our families and we're desperate."

He predicts the situation will only become more heated. "Things are starting to simmer here," he says. "And at some point they're going to explode."

The experiment in saving Europe is coming to a close. Germany had its miracle run as exports surged courtesy of a sub 1.20 Euro, and are now contracting, with the Fed stepping back on the printer gas. And with the imminent resumption of the contraction, the revulsion at having bailed out Greece will return, and with it all the unpleasant xenophobic side effects. Europe needed to buy 3-6 months of breathing room to get its house in order. It got it, but the house is in ever worse place than before. And now it is time for the aftermath of the expiration of the sugar high. European CDS spreads are looking way too cheap all over again.

40 Bizarre Statistics That Reveal The Horrifying Truth About The Collapse Of The U.S. Economy

Most Americans still appear to be operating under the delusion that the "recession" will soon pass and that things will get back to "normal" very soon. Unfortunately, that is not anywhere close to the truth. What we are now witnessing are the early stages of the complete and total breakdown of the U.S. economic system. The U.S. government, state governments, local governments, businesses and American consumers have collectively piled up debt that is equivalent to approximately 360 percent of GDP. At no point during the Great Depression (or at any other time during our history) did we ever come close to such a figure. We have piled up the biggest mountain of debt that the world has ever seen, and now that gigantic debt bubble is beginning to pop. As this house of cards comes crashing down, the economic pain is going to become almost unimaginable.

Already, things are really, really, really bad out there. Unemployment is at shockingly high levels. Foreclosures and personal bankruptcies continue to set new all-time records. Businesses are being shut down at a staggering rate, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. government continues to pile up debt at blinding speed.

There is no use sugar-coating it.

The U.S. economy is collapsing.

The following are 40 bizarre statistics that reveal the truth about the collapse of the U.S. economy....

1 - According to one shocking new survey, 28% of U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

2 - A recent Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.

3 - There are 9.2 million Americans that are unemployed but that are not receiving an unemployment insurance check.

4 - In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

5 - According to one analysis, the United States has lost 10.5 million jobs since 2007.

6 - China's trade surplus (much of it with the United States) climbed 140 percent in June compared to a year earlier.

7 - This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

8 - According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck. That was up significantly from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

9 - According to a recent poll conducted by Bloomberg, 71% of Americans say that it still feels like the economy is in a recession.

10 - Banks repossessed 269,962 U.S. homes during the second quarter of 2010, which was a new all-time record.

11 - Banks repossessed an average of 4,000 South Florida properties a month in the first half of 2010, up 83 percent from the first half of 2009.

12 - According to RealtyTrac, a total of 1.65 million U.S. properties received foreclosure filings during the first half of 2010.

13 - The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that demand for loans to purchase U.S. homes has sunk to a 13-year low.

14 - Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

15 - 1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 - a 32 percent increase over 2008.

16 - Back in 1950 each retiree's Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 workers. Today, each retiree's Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers. By 2025 it is projected that there will be approximately two workers for each retiree.

17 - According to a new poll, six of 10 non-retirees believe that Social Security won't be able to pay them benefits when they stop working.

18 - 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

19 - According to one survey, 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

20 - According to one recent survey, 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

21 - The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index declined sharply to 52.9 in June. Most economists had expected that the figure for June would be somewhere around 62.

22 - Retail sales in the U.S. fell in June for a second month in a row.

23 - Vacancies and lease rates at U.S. shopping centers continued to get worse during the second quarter of 2010.

24 - Consumer credit in the United States has contracted during 15 of the past 16 months.

25 - During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

26 - Things are now so bad in California that in the region around the state capital, Sacramento, there is now one closed business for every six that are still open.

27 - The state of Illinois now ranks eighth in the world in possible bond-holder default. The state of California is ninth.

28 - More than 25 percent of Americans now have a credit score below 599, which means that they are a very bad credit risk.

29 - On Friday, U.S. regulators closed down three banks in Florida, two in South Carolina and one in Michigan, bringing to 96 the number of U.S. banks to be shut down so far in 2010.

30 - The FDIC's deposit insurance fund now has negative 20.7 billion dollars in it, which represents a slight improvement from the end of 2009.

31 - The U.S. federal budget deficit has topped $1 trillion with three months still to go in the current budget year.

32 - According to a U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

33 - The M3 money supply plunged at a 9.6 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2010.

34 - According to a new poll of Americans between the ages of 44 and 75, 61% said that running out money was their biggest fear. The remaining 39% thought death was scarier.

35 - One study found that as of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

36 - The bottom 40 percent of all income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

37 - The number of Americans with incomes below the official poverty line rose by about 15% between 2000 and 2006, and by 2008 over 30 million U.S. workers were earning less than $10 per hour.

38 - According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

39 - For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

40 - A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey has found that just 23% of American voters nationwide believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed.

Bolton: Only Days Left to Strike Iran Facility

Study Shows The Lithium Has Little Effect On ALS

(RTTNews) - A new study published in the current edition of the journal Neurology suggests that lithium is ineffective as a treatment for Lou Gehrig's disease, otherwise known as ALS.

For the study, a team led by Dr. Adriano Chiò University of Turin in Italy tested 171 ALS patients, giving 87 of them a dosage of lithium thought to be effective and 84 a lower dosage known to be ineffective.

They found little difference in the health of those taking the high dosage of lithium. The trial was stopped early in November 2009 because 68 percent of the test group had died.

"This discontinuation rate is two times higher than that in other recent studies for ALS drugs," Chiò told Science Daily. "This high dropout level, along with the relatively high frequency of side effects, raises serious doubts about the safety of this drug and also shows it to be ineffective for people with ALS."

by RTT Staff Writer

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Are GM Crops Killing Bees?

A mysterious decimation of bee populations has German beekeepers worried, while a similar phenomenon in the United States is gradually assuming catastrophic proportions. The consequences for agriculture and the economy could be enormous.

Is the mysterous decimation of bee populations in the US and Germany a result of GM crops?

Is the mysterous decimation of bee populations in the US and Germany a result of GM crops?

Walter Haefeker is a man who is used to painting grim scenarios. He sits on the board of directors of the German Beekeepers Association (DBIB) and is vice president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association. And because griping is part of a lobbyist's trade, it is practically his professional duty to warn that "the very existence of beekeeping is at stake."

The problem, says Haefeker, has a number of causes, one being the varroa mite, introduced from Asia, and another is the widespread practice in agriculture of spraying wildflowers with herbicides and practicing monoculture. Another possible cause, according to Haefeker, is the controversial and growing use of genetic engineering in agriculture.

As far back as 2005, Haefeker ended an article he contributed to the journal Der Kritischer Agrarbericht (Critical Agricultural Report) with an Albert Einstein quote: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

Mysterious events in recent months have suddenly made Einstein's apocalyptic vision seem all the more topical. For unknown reasons, bee populations throughout Germany are disappearing -- something that is so far only harming beekeepers. But the situation is different in the United States, where bees are dying in such dramatic numbers that the economic consequences could soon be dire. No one knows what is causing the bees to perish, but some experts believe that the large-scale use of genetically modified plants in the US could be a factor.

Felix Kriechbaum, an official with a regional beekeepers' association in Bavaria, recently reported a decline of almost 12 percent in local bee populations. When "bee populations disappear without a trace," says Kriechbaum, it is difficult to investigate the causes, because "most bees don't die in the beehive." There are many diseases that can cause bees to lose their sense of orientation so they can no longer find their way back to their hives.

Manfred Hederer, the president of the German Beekeepers Association, almost simultaneously reported a 25 percent drop in bee populations throughout Germany. In isolated cases, says Hederer, declines of up to 80 percent have been reported. He speculates that "a particular toxin, some agent with which we are not familiar," is killing the bees.

Politicians, until now, have shown little concern for such warnings or the woes of beekeepers. Although apiarists have been given a chance to make their case -- for example in the run-up to the German cabinet's approval of a genetic engineering policy document by Minister of Agriculture Horst Seehofer in February -- their complaints are still largely ignored.

Even when beekeepers actually go to court, as they recently did in a joint effort with the German chapter of the organic farming organization Demeter International and other groups to oppose the use of genetically modified corn plants, they can only dream of the sort of media attention environmental organizations like Greenpeace attract with their protests at test sites.

But that could soon change. Since last November, the US has seen a decline in bee populations so dramatic that it eclipses all previous incidences of mass mortality. Beekeepers on the east coast of the United States complain that they have lost more than 70 percent of their stock since late last year, while the west coast has seen a decline of up to 60 percent.

In an article in its business section in late February, the New York Times calculated the damage US agriculture would suffer if bees died out. Experts at Cornell University in upstate New York have estimated the value bees generate -- by pollinating fruit and vegetable plants, almond trees and animal feed like clover -- at more than $14 billion.

Scientists call the mysterious phenomenon "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD), and it is fast turning into a national catastrophe of sorts. A number of universities and government agencies have formed a "CCD Working Group" to search for the causes of the calamity, but have so far come up empty-handed. But, like Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, they are already referring to the problem as a potential "AIDS for the bee industry."

One thing is certain: Millions of bees have simply vanished. In most cases, all that's left in the hives are the doomed offspring. But dead bees are nowhere to be found -- neither in nor anywhere close to the hives. Diana Cox-Foster, a member of the CCD Working Group, told The Independent that researchers were "extremely alarmed," adding that the crisis "has the potential to devastate the US beekeeping industry."

It is particularly worrisome, she said, that the bees' death is accompanied by a set of symptoms "which does not seem to match anything in the literature."

In many cases, scientists have found evidence of almost all known bee viruses in the few surviving bees found in the hives after most have disappeared. Some had five or six infections at the same time and were infested with fungi -- a sign, experts say, that the insects' immune system may have collapsed.

The scientists are also surprised that bees and other insects usually leave the abandoned hives untouched. Nearby bee populations or parasites would normally raid the honey and pollen stores of colonies that have died for other reasons, such as excessive winter cold. "This suggests that there is something toxic in the colony itself which is repelling them," says Cox-Foster.

Walter Haefeker, the German beekeeping official, speculates that "besides a number of other factors," the fact that genetically modified, insect-resistant plants are now used in 40 percent of cornfields in the United States could be playing a role. The figure is much lower in Germany -- only 0.06 percent -- and most of that occurs in the eastern states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg. Haefeker recently sent a researcher at the CCD Working Group some data from a bee study that he has long felt shows a possible connection between genetic engineering and diseases in bees.

The study in question is a small research project conducted at the University of Jena from 2001 to 2004. The researchers examined the effects of pollen from a genetically modified maize variant called "Bt corn" on bees. A gene from a soil bacterium had been inserted into the corn that enabled the plant to produce an agent that is toxic to insect pests. The study concluded that there was no evidence of a "toxic effect of Bt corn on healthy honeybee populations." But when, by sheer chance, the bees used in the experiments were infested with a parasite, something eerie happened. According to the Jena study, a "significantly stronger decline in the number of bees" occurred among the insects that had been fed a highly concentrated Bt poison feed.

According to Hans-Hinrich Kaatz, a professor at the University of Halle in eastern Germany and the director of the study, the bacterial toxin in the genetically modified corn may have "altered the surface of the bee's intestines, sufficiently weakening the bees to allow the parasites to gain entry -- or perhaps it was the other way around. We don't know."

Of course, the concentration of the toxin was ten times higher in the experiments than in normal Bt corn pollen. In addition, the bee feed was administered over a relatively lengthy six-week period.

Kaatz would have preferred to continue studying the phenomenon but lacked the necessary funding. "Those who have the money are not interested in this sort of research," says the professor, "and those who are interested don't have the money."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

The Anacondas and the Jesus Jumping Girl.

Dog Poet Transmitting…….

This is a blank page, or, it was a blank page. I could say anything here and someone will read it. Maybe I can make an anaconda come out of your bacon and eggs and eat your breakfast in front of you, while your children watch and maybe one of them says, “Shouldn’t that be on TV”? …and maybe I can’t. We’ll see. I don’t eat bacon and rarely any kind of eggs but I might know an anaconda or two.

I don’t know who I am and- I never have- or I forgot. Whatever the case, I don’t know. Could be reincarnation is a fact. I believe it is. If so, then I also don’t know who I was before the last time, most of the time. Sometimes I do remember and I think that has something to do with whatever I have been looking for, for such a long time and I think for anyone that is how you come to define yourself or simply allow yourself to be defined; in one case or another. That’s the empty suit phenomenon and the vehicle of psychopaths, which are the cutting edge; Wharton School graduates of recent times and… other places and other suits.

The hardest thing in this world is to not be an asshole. Like the empty suit, it is more than it seems. One thing you can be sure of, if you are an asshole you will act it out. It comes with the persona. Probably the most pathetic thing in the world is the unclaimed asshole, trembling in a suspended state, no face attached- you get to use your imagination on that one- and it’s just there, wanting to be owned by anyone… someone. Go ahead, write your name on that ass with a felt tip marker, so that it says, “Property of” ….who the fuck knows?

What is it with a person that allows them to think that there is some ambition or profit or desire that is important enough for them to murder their own being in public view, or out of public view? It works either way, anyway.

I understand the arguments about whether there is or is not a god. Let’s put that aside for the moment. Let’s talk about logic and also about how you feel. What do you want? Even though I do not know Jack Shit, I am aware of him and he is not a friend of mine. It could be that he does not exist.

Somehow, somewhere, someone lost the point. Or; maybe this and maybe that, I don’t live on maybe and Hope is a lot like meringue.

They are about to shuffle the cards again. They? Them? Him? Her? It? Be my guest; like I said, let’s put that aside for the moment. What is it that you think you want? What do you trade off for something else? If it keeps going upscale then I guess there is no problem but… if you are trading off something that you already owned, in order to no longer own what was yours in the first place and you think that is a good deal then maybe you live on Maybe Street.

I’m looking at a culture where the Jumping Jesus Girl got to be the prom queen and married the quarterback and just said to herself, “You know what? I don’t like Cherry Hill anymore. I think I’ll go over to Camden and see if anyone wants to turn me into a crack whore. I will still have a family but I realize I am too stupid to pay attention to what’s happening around me. I based my life on superficial shit so… uh, shouldn’t I be a superficial slut and have all the things that adored and propped me up force themselves back into the canal through which I produce the continuing dream of my own replicants and be left totally unsatisfied in the bargain?”

Well, there you are and this isn’t a blank page anymore.

As it ever was, most of the world is struggling to get or to hold on to their little piece of what’s important while being compelled to trade off what is important, for the security of appearing to be, because a handful of not so empty suits did an HIV tag marker thing on the thing that made you lose it for something else, that wasn’t worth shit. Ask Jack. He knows

You can’t live according to ideals you don’t actually live by. Do you lie to yourself or not? Do you make money?

This world is exactly what it is until people can no longer tolerate their conditions, then the money moves to the other side of the fence. That is where you have to catch them. Just take their money and do the right thing. Putin understood this and is one of the few who actually gives a shit about his own people. They are going after him hammer and tongs as I write. They are going after Jeff Rense through some guy named Larry Sinclair. They go after Mike Rivero via Alex Jones and they put on the Allman Brothers doing; “Tied to a Whipping Post”

Jeff Rense sits in a room for 14 hours a day keeping his website alive with little or no help and surviving in a minimalist sort of a way because he is trying to lift the veil of ignorance that everyone uses to convince their lying eyes. Michael Rivero is like the element (molybdenum?) that was bonded on to the car of the lead singer for The Seeds that I saw sitting in Richard Brush’s driveway on Maui and because of which, it was impenetrable to one force or another.

It all comes down to whether people tell the truth. You want finesse? Then you get shades of truth and you don’t want the truth. I want the truth and I wander around between these places looking for it and why is that? …because I am more likely to get it there. Some places are ‘highly likely’ and some are suspect. The Truthseeker, Infohub, Global Research, Information Clearing House, Uruknet, Pakalert; they all look like the good guys and they keep looking like the good guys as time goes on and that, of course, includes those already mentioned and… what about David Icke? I would know a lot less if I had never read him and he passes the litmus test. They all do. They all pass the litmus test. They are beleaguered and beaten on. Some of them might even make money but I don’t think that’s the driving force.

I don’t know this but I would bet that none of them get along because they are all vying for the same space but they are brothers under the hood of that automobile. They are one way or another, personal shortcomings aside, warriors for the good of the rest of us.

It’s past time for the real soldiers among us to put aside our differences and forgive each others trespasses. It’s past time for all of us to stop carrying that impossible standard up the metaphorical Iwo Jima. You do it together. You don’t do it alone.

With all the known disinfo operations, of which we are aware, if we would just concede what we don’t actually know, we would be a lot closer to getting there. We are pulling sand back into the hole we are climbing out of and it’s not effective. Very soon now, things are going to dramatically change. We won’t even have a choice then. We already made our choice anyway.

It’s a good thing I don’t know what I’m talking about or I probably wouldn’t have written this and… then again, that might not be a good thing. All I know is that when push comes to shove most of it depends on whether you are in a crowded room at the time. I’d be a lot happier with the whole affair if there were more laissez faire between the real truth tellers and a lot less give between the liars but whores are always a lot more relaxed than debutantes when faced with the inevitable reward for whatever it is they have to offer; given that there is, of course, a quite different class of suitor.

Tomorrow it will be another blank page and for everyone reading this there will come another blank page so, I guess we’re rehearsing for something.

End Transmission…….

Warning, bear market 2010: 11 'sells.' Only 6 'buys'

New Normal: Bankrupt nation. Deflation. Zeros. Junk. No jobs. Depression

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Yes, it's going to get worse, a whole lot worse ... Bill Gross warns this is the "New Normal. Forget 10% returns. Think 5%". ... Economist Larry Kotlikoff, author of The Coming Generational Storm, warns: "Let's get real. The U.S. is bankrupt. Neither spending nor taxing will help the country pay its bills" ... Economist Peter Morici warns: "Unemployment is stuck near 10%. Deflation coming. Stock market threatens collapse. The Federal Reserve and Barack Obama are out of bullets. Near zero federal funds rates, central bank purchases, a $1.6 trillion deficit have failed to revive the economy." ... Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers, warns: "We came close to another Great Depression, next time we may not be so lucky." Why? Because Wall Street's already well into the next bubble/bust cycle -- the "doom cycle."

Warning: More bad news ahead. Welcome to a bleak second half 2010, worse for 2011.

It's early morning: In comes economist Gary Shilling's new Insight newsletter, just before I head for the kitchen to make my wife's breakfast. Gary's "Mid-Course Checkup" doesn't raise my spirits. Sure, he's got bragging rights. His January forecasts are still on the money. But don't you just hate guys like him? Brilliant. Honest. Great track record. I guess that's why he's been a long-time Forbes columnist. Investors listen when he talks.

After cooking her breakfast I'm flipping through the L.A. Times' entertainment section, avoiding the business and financial pages. Didn't want to spoil my breakfast too. Suddenly, big headline stops me: "Buy, Sell, Hope." Hope? What's that? Good news about markets? You buy, you sell, you hope? Is "hope" America's last market strategy?

No, "Buy Sell Hope" was a grabber headline. A story about moviemakers buying film rights of bestsellers hoping to sell lots of movie tickets to millions who bought the book. Doesn't always work. A metaphor: Economic theories often fail. The focus: Julie Roberts's new film "Eat Pray Love," based on Elizabeth Gilbert's 8 million copy bestseller, a book filled with New Age advice rivaling the best of Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra.

But that gave me a bright idea: Let's blend the two. See if we can brighten some of Shilling's gloomier forecasts and recommendations for 2010-2011 with some of Gilbert's upbeat advice ... imagining "Pretty Woman" Julia, the Eat-Pray-Love lead, doing a voice-over for Gilbert. So here we go: First, Shilling's 6 "buys," then the 11 "sells," 17 strategies for 2010. He admits some mixed results, but he's "sticking with them for the second half" and on into the coming dark days of 2011. I'm sticking with Julia:

1. Buy Treasury Bonds: Stay with this big winner. Stockholders hate them, but this is a safe haven in the coming deflation storm on into 2011. Long maturities. Zero-coupons. Lower commissions. That's "Insight." Now imagine Eat-Pray-Love's Julia's voiceover: "There's no trouble in this world so serious that it can't be cured with a hot bath, a glass of whiskey and the Book of Common Prayer." Okay, guys would prefer an NFL game with his buddies and a Bud. Winners all around.

2. Buy Income-Producing Securities: Still viable. Stock market's gone nowhere for 12 years, says Shilling. Pick selective income-producers: utilities, drugs, telecoms, hi-grade munis, preferreds, etc. Buy direct or ETFs. Then Julia reminds us: "God never slams a door in your face without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies."

3. Buy Consumer Staples and Foods: Less volatility than S&P 500. Hey, you gotta eat, brush teeth, wash your clothes. Good bet in good and bad times. Julia agrees: "In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes ... the meal is the only currency that is real."

4. Buy Small Luxuries: Stay aboard. Yes, discounts, house brands, frugality's in. But still, we all want the best of the little things, "cheap chic," say Gary and Fred. Not Julia's Girl-Scout cookies, treat yourself with favorite chocolates, wine, cigars.

5. Buy The Dollar: Should continue to rise. Bet on futures, puts, ETFs on the dollar index. Julia is patriotic and spiritual: "Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark."

6. Buy Eurodollar Futures: Unbelievable winner, and more to go. And if you're traveling, Julia tempts with this mouth-waterer: "Please go to this pizzeria. Order the margherita pizza with double mozzarella. If you do not eat this pizza when you are in Naples, please lie to me and tell me that you did." Yes, it's all in your head.

Okay folks, that's it, only six Insight "buys." Here's what our Eat-Pray-Love guru might add when you buy-sell-hope: "You have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. You take whatever works from wherever you can find it, and you keep moving toward the light." Yes, even with these 11 "sells."

7. Sell U.S. Stocks in General: Declines likely to continue. In May, Insight warned the recovery was "Four Cylinders, One Firing." Only inventory was firing. Missing? Jobs. Consumers. Housing. Slow growth. All in "secular bear that started in 2000 and has years to run." Yes, years. Can you still be happy? Yes, says Julia's guru: "People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it." Harder in a recession, but you just do it.

8. Sell Homebuilder & Selected Related Stocks: More weakness ahead. And it will get worse. Millions mortgage-holders under water, can't sell, can't refi. Families in stress. Solution: Eat-Pray-Love and listen: "Real, sane, mature love--the kind that pays the mortgage year after year and picks up the kids after school--is not based on infatuation but on affection and respect."

9. Sell Selected Big-Ticket Consumer Discretionary Equities: Still vulnerable: Autos, appliances, hospitality. Rebates gone. Postponing purchases. Save, get frugal, flow with reality. Julia: "Every day a person is presented with not two or even three but dozens of choices ... our modern world has become a neurosis-generating machine of the highest order." Stop, make time to eat, to pray, to love.

10. Sell Banks and Other Financial Institutions: Remain vulnerable. Including Fannie, Freddie, regionals, small banks. More regulations. By 2014 bank portfolios have $800 billion mortgages coming due, two-thirds underwater. Huge impact on capital. Sell. What would Julia say: Eat in moderation, love, pray a lot.

11. Sell Consumer Lenders' Stocks: More declines in credit cards, etc. Americans save more, cut their borrow'n'spend binge. Reduce stress says Julia: "The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That's where you need to go." You too.

12. Sell Low & Old Tech Capital Equipment Producers: Falling trend. Mega excess capacity. Capital spending dropping says Insight. Julia worries that you're holding onto the past: "You must find another reason to work, other than the desire for success or recognition." Your passion "must come from another place."

13. If You Plan to Sell Your House, Second Home or Investment Houses Any Time Soon, Do So Yesterday: Too much inventory, and fear. Warning: Down another 20%. Julia says you will survive because "somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace." That's your true home.

14. Sell Junk Bonds: Rally's overdone, warns Gary. Slow growth recovery, deflation fears, "lethal for many junk bonds." The "New Normal" cuts returns in half. We chase junk. Bigger risks. Julia: "That's your problem. You're wishing too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughta be." Accept the New Normal. Stop chasing deals like a teenager in heat.

15. Sell Commercial Real Estate: Got ahead of itself. Hotel occupancies down. Office vacancies up. Refinancing trouble looms. Maybe short REITs and ETFs. Julia knows our "world is so corrupted, misspoken, unstable, exaggerated and unfair, one should trust only what one can experience with one's own senses." Are you trusting Wall Street? Or your own life experiences?

16. Sell Most Commodities: Soft economy, soft commodities. Insight warns of "unattractive investments in coming years of weak demand, excessive capacity and soft prices." China's a big importer, aggressively tying up global supplies. Risky bets. So imagine you're lost and listen to your Eat-Pray-Love guru: "When you're lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you've just wandered a few feet off the path ... Then night falls again ... you still have no idea where you are ... you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don't even know from which direction the sun rises anymore." Are commodities taking you off your path?

17. Sell Developing Country Stocks, Bonds: They depend on exports, are vulnerable to global weakness. China overheating. Risks in India, Brazil, Vietnam, etc. Wall Street pushes overseas investing, they love the commissions. Warning, go slow cautions Julia: "Time, when pursued like a bandit, will behave like one; always remaining one country or one room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping out the back door of the motel just as you're banging through the lobby with your newest search warrant, leaving only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you." The only real winner investing overseas is your Wall Street broker collecting all commissions you pay.

What a combo: Warnings from Gary Shilling's "Buy-Sell-Hope" Insights newsletter. Plus Girl Scout Cookie advice from our Eat-Pray-Love guru, with "Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts' voice-over. Let's top it off with one more of her jewels: "The Bhagavad Gita, that ancient Indian Yogic text, says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly." Get it? The market, the economy, the whole world may crash ... but will you crash with it? Or will you still be the "best you?" Will you fulfill your destiny?

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch


Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location12.218°N, 141.513°E
Depth10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
Distances375 km (235 miles) WSW of HAGATNA, Guam
455 km (280 miles) WSW of Rota, Northern Mariana Islands
475 km (295 miles) NE of Yap, Micronesia
560 km (350 miles) SW of SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 4.7 km (2.9 miles); depth fixed by location program
ParametersNST=160, Nph=160, Dmin=394.6 km, Rmss=1.02 sec, Gp= 29°,
M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=8
Event IDus2010aca6

We Need NASCAR for Politicians

Have you ever, like me, found yourself wondering, while watching or listening to politicians on what passes for the news these days, “Who are these people?” Have you ever found yourself wondering what makes them tick?

Trust me, you're not alone. Inquiring minds want to know.

Now, I've come up with an idea that may help us figure it out as we wend our way through the muck and mire of political web sites, press releases, official bios and and talk radio/TV.

But first let's step back in time to the 1960s in California, where I was cutting my teeth on a career in journalism. The most prominent legislator at that time was a gent called Jess Unrue, speaker of the California state assembly from 1961-69, backer of Robert Kennedy’s short-circuited presidential campaign, and ultimately a backer of anti-war presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Jess might not have been much good at getting elected himself, but he could get things done, and he was a blunt speaker. Perhaps his most infamous utterance was the candid reminder that “money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Couple that thought with “all politicians lie” and the famous Watergate advice from Deep Throat to “follow the money,” and you're ready for NASCAR Politicians.

Here’s the idea: We've all see the clips of NASCAR drivers wearing their racing gear, all festooned with sponsors’ logos, as they give thanks to every sponsor while offering comments on how they managed to drive their way to victory.

The way I see it, it’s essential to know who politicians are and who is behind their actions, so why not make a law requiring all elected officials to wear NASCAR-style costumes with logos of all their sponsors prominently displayed. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see at a glance who each politician is really working for?

As for those donors, they should be required to fly banners at all of their places of business with a list of all the politicians they've bought and paid for. Then you could decide whether you wanted to do business there or not. We could require lobbyists in DC to wear sweatshirts or T-shirts bearing their corporate logos when they’re wandering the halls of Congress distributing their cash wads, too.

They say seeing is believing, but in this case, once the logos are affixed, it will be seeing is not believing.

TOM THOMPSON is a recovering journalist. He lives in an RV at various locations around the Southwest.

Gene Burnett - Jump You F*#kers (A Song For Wall Street)

US Dollar Now Ripe For Catastrophic Devaluation

Normally when I cover subjects in the economy, I try to take a “macro” approach, giving an overall view of various financial elements around the world and how they are clearly connected to one another in a greater synchronous social force. That is to say, in Chinese domestic consumption, or European debt obligations, or Russian gold reserves, and in many other factors, is encoded the very future of our own American economy. Showing others how to decipher that code is my primary mission.

In this instance, however, I would like to focus chiefly on the U.S. Dollar, the private Federal Reserve currency which is now the basis for our entire financial system, not to mention a substantial basis for trade around the globe. For decades, the dollar (and by extension U.S. Treasury bonds) has been the standard by which foreign nations safeguard capital reserves, denominate debt, and in some cases have even pegged their own currency to maintain advantageous trade deficits. In the past, the Greenback has been treated as good as gold. Though many see this as a windfall for Americans, it is actually a very unfortunate circumstance.

The “world reserve” status of our currency created a demand for dollars, but through this, it also created a glut of Treasury bond holdings in foreign central banks, and an unserviceable national debt here at home. The combination of removing the dollar from the gold standard in tandem with gaining world reserve advantage allowed our government along with central bankers to create the most precarious illusory fiat currency in history. Could this process continue indefinitely? Its possible, but only if the demand for dollars continues to rise annually. As long as people want dollars in greater and greater amounts, we could continue to expand our debt into infinity. But what happens if demand for the dollar falls, or disappears entirely? The massive liabilities we have already accrued will no longer have the crutch of perpetual Treasury investment. We no longer would receive the busloads of foreign capital we need to continue functioning. The system we have staked the future of our culture on would disintegrate.

Anyone who uses common sense would easily conclude that it is highly unreasonable if not outlandish to expect that other countries will continue to pump more and more money every year into our very unstable system. Even if Treasury bond investment simply plateaued, remaining steady for years, we would still be crushed under the weight of our debt obligations. As our government expands, and our wars expand, so do our costs, and our interest payments. Eventually, every undisciplined debtor hits a state of critical mass; a point at which he runs out of options in extending his ability to outrun bankruptcy. We are seeing this right now in the U.S., most prominently in municipal debt in states such as California and Illinois. These are not just “local problems”. The growing insolvency in states is a direct reflection of the growing insolvency in the Federal Government.

Many people have at one time or another been caught up in their own debt race, trying to dodge bills and pay off one credit card with another credit card. They understand well that this terrible circle ends in ruin. This is the situation we are in as a nation.

Strangely though, some mainstream economists and analysts still contend that America will never face consequences for its fiscal debauchery. Why do they believe this despite all the evidence to the contrary? Because of a magical machine called a “printing press”.

“If foreign investment in our debt ceases”, they say, “The Federal Reserve can just PRINT the money our government needs to function out of thin air.” That is to say, these economists (which include men like Ben Bernanke) either truly believe that capital can be created out of nothing with no sacrifice attached, or, they KNOW there is a serious sacrifice attached, but intend to keep this fact from the American public. Regardless, the end result is the same; massive liquidity injections which continually monetize debt as it defaults, and Federal Reserve purchases of our own T-bonds. We are buying stock in our own dollar just to prop up its value and keep our country afloat!

The inflation vs. deflation debate has been raging for nearly three years, but I suspect that when all is said and done, we will find that both sides in a sense were correct. The people who consistently miss the mark on what is truly going on in the economy are those who blindly insist that this is an either/or situation. The fact is, we are seeing symptoms of BOTH deflation and inflation simultaneously. Deflation in jobs, stocks, real estate, and wages. Inflation in energy, food, and commodities. At bottom, we are seeing the worst of both worlds colliding to make a financial mutation, an aberration of the natural processes of supply and demand. Our economy has become a frothing rampaging Frankenstein’s monster bent on the destruction of its former benefactors; the American citizenry. Anyone who alleges otherwise is either a liar, or a fool.

At the very heart of this nightmare, we find the U.S. Greenback; perhaps the number one reason the economic meltdown was engineered by global banks in the first place (yes, I said ‘engineered’). The sovereign ideology of the U.S. is the only thing left standing in the way of complete centralized economic control, and by extension, political control, by the top 2% wealthiest people in the world, who now hold around 50% of all the world’s assets. The dollar, though a fraudulent fiat currency, is still a representation of that sovereign drive, at least in terms of finance. Its position as the foremost traded currency on the planet affords us great leeway in our ability to spend without fear. It is the glue holding absolutely everything together. With most of our industry shipped overseas, and our communities completely reliant on a 70% service based system, the Dollar is the only homemade “product” America has left to lean on.

Unfortunately, the strength of our currency is waning, and nearing outright collapse. It is something we have been talking about for the past two years at least, which has drawn some into a false sense of security. The signs have been muddled in the MSM fog, but now the picture is becoming clear. Will the dollar crash tomorrow? That’s hard to say. What I do know, is that all the elements necessary for a catastrophic dollar devaluation have moved into place, especially in the past month. That is to say, there is now nothing preventing a steady and precipitous fall in the Greenback over the next six months or more. Below are many signals which indicate such an event is near:

Dollar Index Plummeting: Interestingly, there has been very little coverage in the mainstream news of the dollar’s continuous 9 week decline, the longest straight weekly decline since 2004. One would think this is something that might concern the general public, and not just investors: