Sunday, August 7, 2011

45.8 Million Americans on Food Stamps Now

food stampsFood stamp use hit an all-time high in May.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in May, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
The number of Americans using the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- more commonly referred to as food stamps -- shot to an all-time high of 45.8 million in May, the USDA reported. That's up 12% from a year ago, and 34% higher than two years ago.
The program provides monthly benefits to low-income individuals and families, which they can use at stores that accept SNAP benefits.
To qualify for food stamps, an individual's income can't exceed $1,174 a month or $14,088 a year -- an amount that is 130% of the national poverty level.
The average food stamp benefit was $133.80 per person and $283.65 per household in May.
The highest concentration of food stamp users were in California, Florida, New York and Texas -- where more than 3 million residents in each state received food stamps in May.

Full Article Here>

Don’t Bet On The Fed

he era of quasi-religious belief in “Don’t fight the Fed” is drawing to a close; the Fed has been revealed as significantly less omnipotent and powerful than previously imagined.
Many observers expect the Federal Reserve to bail out the stock market next Tuesday with an announcement of QE3, another round of “monetary easing” to reinstall the trade in risk assets. If they do, it will fail. The basic reason it will fail is that the Fed’s credibility has fallen below a critical threshold. Put another way, the quasi-religious trust in the Fed’s infallibility and power to single-handedly reverse global markets has been eroded by reality: QE2 was a monumental failure.
Here’s a couple of things to understand about the Fed before you “buy the bounce when they announce QE3.”
1. Though nominally independent, the Fed is a political construct. The idea that public opinion and political support have no influence on the Fed is wrong; the Fed’s failure to revive the economy while squandering trillions of dollars propping up banks and Wall Street bonuses was not lost on the political class. Though nobody’s talking about it, the Fed’s abject failure to revive the real economy has greatly diminished its political range of maneuver.
Rumor has it that the word has already gone out to the Fed not to intervene with additional trillions to prop up Europe.
2. The consensus view is the Fed has either engineered the stock market drop to give it a free hand with QE3, or it will be “forced to do something” to combat the implosion of its pet fix to the broken economy, the “wealth effect” of rising stocks.
What these views miss is the Fed is now in a no-win endgame where its best move is to minimize the damage to what’s left of its own reputation and credibility. The worst move here would be to double-down on QE3, because if it failed to goose global markets in a sustained fashion, then the Fed’s remaining credibility and “magic” would vanish in a puff of smoke.
Chairman Ben Bernanke telegraphed this in his recent testimony to Congress, in which he basically stated that the Fed had done all it could and there was little more it could do other than wave a dead chicken and chant a few old incantations. Though he dutifully repeated the standard reassurances, i.e. “There is always more monetary easing we can do,” he was careful to lower expectations that such easing would accomplish anything.
His testimony was that of someone setting up CYA in a major way. (CYA = cover your behind from recrimination when things head south.)
3. The Fed’s power rests not in the fabled printing press but in the invisible coin of trust. Now that its fallibility has been exposed, its power, i.e. the magical faith in the guaranteed efficacy of its actions, has been destroyed.
This cloak of invincibility is what generated its power, and now that its grand policy of rescuing the economy via monetary easing and “the wealth effect” have collapsed into smoking ruins, that cloak has been shredded.

13 Reasons Why The U.S. Is Now OFFICIALLY BANKRUPT

ATTENTION IDIOTS IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA - Stop The Budget Lies - There Are NO Cuts - House Passes Bill To INCREASE Spending By $7 Trillion Over The Next 10 Years
Lies, Damn Lies And Government Budgets
I am so pissed off by the misreporting I could spit Ken Lewis hairballs.
1) Corporate journalists and financial pundits know NOTHING about budgets.
2) The Boehner led House passed legislation this evening that INCREASES spending by $7 TRILLION over the next ten years versus a baseline budget that would have increased spending by $9.5 TRILLION over the same period.
3) CBO said today that LESS than 2% of the decrease in the GROWTH of spending will come before the 2012 elections.  The remainder come after the election.
4) Defense and war machine spending will grow at 3% per year instead of 4% per year.
5) This was nothing but an agreement to agree at a later date to look for reductions in planned spending GROWTH.
6) A Super Congress will decide on a mix of tax increases and reductions in planned spending growth to meet the targets at a later date.
7) No one in Congress even considered Ron Paul's simple plan, now endorsed by Time Magazine as well as liberal economist Dean Baker, to wipe out $1.6 trillion in fake debt owned by the Federal Reserve.  Debt that we owe to ourselves, that is entirely legal to wipe away.
8) CBO says under this plan, the national debt will INCREASE from $14.4 TRILLION currently to more than $25 TRILLION over the next 10 years.
9) The assumption for #8 above assumes the economy grows at 3% per year over the next 10 years, and that Treasury interest rates stay at historic lows.  When rates increase, and bet your life that they will, interest on the debt will increase and so will annual deficits, leading to a national debt much higher than the $25 TRILLION that CBO estimates.
10) Regarding Treasury rates and interest on the debt, get educated about a concept called 'DURATION RISK.'  Turbo Geithner and his MENSA bed-fellows at Treasury have chosen to finance the great majority of recent and future borrowing in short-term bills, which means that they have to be rolled over frequently.  This is perhaps the least-discussed and most dangerous issue related to Treasury debt.
11) If S&P or Moody's has the sack to downgrade the U.S. AAA rating, a Sovereign CDS default will be triggered and Global Financial Armageddon will be unleashed.
12) The bill passed by Boehner tonight was the BEST they could do after 6 weeks of fighting.
13) Due to #12, the United States is officially fucked.
Thank you and good night.


A senior administration official confirms to Business Insider that S&P gave notice to the White House that it intended to downgrade the US AAA rating today. The official confirmed that the White House pushed back hard, claiming that S&P's analysis was off by "trillions," adding that S&P is "reconsidering."
According to WSJ, After the Treasury pointed out the math error to S&P, which re-checked its math and confirmed the error. However this doesn't mean that S&P will change its mind.
The news was first reported by CNBCABCCNN, and POLITICO earlier this evening.
Now to step back for a second, Remember, during the debt ceiling fight, S&P warned that there was a 50/50 chance of a downgrade if spending weren't cut by at least $4 trillion dollars. Both Fitch and Moody's have both come out affirming the US AAA.
The popular thinking on this is that its impact on markets would be less significant than the political impact to Obama.
This summary from CNN Producer Vaughn Sterling, cites John King, and was confirmed by the White House source:
A senior Obama administration official tells CNN tonight that the ratings agency Standard & Poors served notice Friday afternoon it planned to downgrade the US government’s AAA credit rating. But the official said the agency is reconsidering after the administration challenged S&P’s analysis of the government’s revenue and deficit picture.

The source, a senior official involved in the discussions, insisted the agency was off by “trillions” in its economic model.
Update: CNBC confirms that S&P acknowledged its math error, but may downgrade anyway by "revising its rationale"

The following is a press release from Standard & Poor’s:
– We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’ and affirmed the ‘A-1+’ short-term rating.
– We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.
– The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.
– More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.
– Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.
– The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to ‘AA’ within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.
UPDATE: Standard & Poor's downgrade U.S. debt to 'AA+' from 'AAA' Friday night.
A source familiar with matter, said the ratings agency's analysis estimated about $2 trillion in extra discretionary spending over the coming years.
The source said there was shift in the S&P rationale from numerical analysis early in the day Friday to a statement on the nation's political process in the final version — adding that it raises doubts about the agency's credibility.
The source said the ratings agency seems bent on making the downgrade, despite the numerical discrepancy, because the media was expecting an announcement.
The source said S&P is not basing its decision on any information that is not in the markets — and that the agency reached a different conclusion than Moody's and Fitch based off the same information.
The source said discussions with S&P over the debt rating involved the Treasury Department only, not The White House.
The source added that because of the top ratings from Fitch and Moody's, Treasuries should still qualify as collateral in market situations.
UPDATE: S&P's John Chambers on CNN says "It's going to take a while to get back to AAA."
Chambers said "we think the political settings are strong, but not quite as strong as other sovereigns." He adds that the ratings agency's decision was based on facts.
Chambers acknowledged the $2 trillion error caught by Treasury, but said the decision to downgrade was still substantiated.
UPDATE: Reuters: President Obama was briefed in advance on S&P downgrade before flying to Camp David in afternoon, continues to get updates - administration official
UPDATE: S&P's David Beers: “It’s always possible the rating will come back, but we don’t think it’s coming back any time soon."
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Why Gold and Silver Prices Will More than Double Again Even From Current Prices

Those that are familiar with my writings about gold and silver for the last six years know that I have said gold was cheap at $500, $600, $700, $800, $1000 and $1,200 a troy ounce and know that I have said silver was cheap at $11, $12, $14, $16, $25, and $30 a troy ounce. Today, I will reiterate that gold is still cheap in the $1500 to $1600 range and that silver is still cheap in the $40 range because the largest movements in gold and silver prices as well as gold and silver mining stocks have still not happened and will materialize over the next four to five years. Again, this doesn’t mean that gold and silver can’t or won’t correct or consolidate again in the future because both PMs always do. I have written publicly so much about this topic over the years (and even in much greater depth to my subscribing members) because I truly believe it is insanity not to participate in one of the best ways to invest in gold and silver today – the ownership of physical gold and physical silver.

Hundreds of millions of investors worldwide, influenced by the propaganda of Western bankers, have consciously made poor decisions not to own a single ounce of physical gold and physical silver today. One of the first realities an investor must understand about the gold and silver market is that the Economics 101 concept of price being set by physical supply and physical demand is an utter lie.  In today’s world of banking and financial industry lies, the price of gold and silver are NOT set by the physical demand and physical supply of either of these metals, but rather by the artificial supply and demand of paper contracts predominantly backed by no physical metal.

By now, the following facts are very well known by seasoned physical gold and physical silver buyers but likely still unknown to the average investor worldwide. A CPM Group document released in the year 2000 stated, “With the start of the London Bullion Market Association’s release of monthly trading data, the market has become aware that 100 times more gold and silver trade hands each year, just in the major markets, than is produced or used. Some market participants have wondered aloud how 10 billion ounces of gold could trade via the major markets each year, compared to 120 million ounces of total supply and demand, while roughly 100 billion ounces of silver change hands, compared to around 628 million ounces of new supply.”  Thus, one can see that the fraud perpetrated by bullion banks in the silver futures market exceeds even the fraud they commit in the gold futures markets.  Take the figures provided above, and a quick calculation reveals that bankers were trading nearly 160 times of paper ounces of silver every year than the annual physical supply of silver mined from the earth.

However, break down these numbers even more and the fraud becomes even more astounding.  While in 2000, about 628 million ounces of new supply of physical silver came to market, in 2010, mine production of new silver supply was slightly higher at 735.9 million ounces. Net government sales accounted for another 44.8 million ounces, old silver scrap provided an additional 215 million ounces, and producer hedging accounted for the final 61.1 million ounces. Thus a total annual supply of roughly 1 billion ounces of silver existed in 2010.  However, industrial usage, photography and jewelry used up nearly 78% of the one billion ounces of physical silver supply in 2010 and left less than 100 million ounces available for minting in the form of silver coins. (Source: The Silver Institute). Despite this tightness of new investment silver supply, there have been days in recent months when more than 250 million ounces of paper silver traded on the COMEX in less than one minute! During the times ridiculous volumes of paper silver were trading on the COMEX, usually the price of silver was plummeting in intra-day trading. Thus, bankers were clearly using this massive artificial supply of paper silver contracts to knock down prices.  On top of this fraud, bankers have stretched the landscape of imaginary supply of gold and silver with their introduction of the gold ETF, the GLD, and the silver ETF, the SLV, both of which started trading in 2006. Both the GLD and SLV are highly suspect, likely fraudulent vehicles that probably are either (1) only partially backed by physical gold and physical silver and/or (2) respectively backed by unallocated physical gold/silver that have multiple claims upon them. Again, fraudulent derivative paper gold and paper silver products create a perception of increased supply even when there is no REAL increase in the underlying physical supply or even at times when physical supply is shrinking. Bankers have created this mechanism specifically to suppress the price of gold and silver and to keep their Ponzi fiat currency scheme alive – a scheme that they utilize every single day to silently steal wealth from every citizen on this planet.

I have heard the criticisms levied against Eric Sprott and James Turk regarding their pro-silver and pro-gold stance in that they are just selling their books as PM fund managers and bullion dealers. However, I believe these criticisms to be patently unfair. I don’t believe that either Mr. Sprott or Mr. Turk are so enthusiastic about the future prospects of gold and silver returns because they just want to “talk their books”. Rather, I believe that they are so enthusiastic due to their deeper level of understanding about PM markets than the average retail investor and the vast majority of uneducated commercial investment industry advisers. Furthermore, I’ve been one of the most passionate supporters of gold and silver for the last decade and I have never acted as a bullion dealer, have never received any commissions from any sales of mining stocks, and have never accepted a single cent from any mining company to provide coverage of their company to my subscribing members though I have been approached many times to do so over the years.

To illustrate the level of misunderstanding that still exists about gold and silver prices, here’s one piece of investment “advice” that landed in my email inbox on August 16, 2008: “The barbarous relic – gold – is another good choice, usually. But gold has already appreciated from just over $300 an ounce six years ago to almost $900 today. It could be a little late.” This adviser went on to push stocks and confidently declared that stocks would be the “big winner” once again over the next several years. From August 16, 2008 until today, the S&P 500 has lost 2.92% while gold has risen +111.33% and silver, +284.47%. Stocks, the big winner? I think not. But selling stocks is the big bread and butter money winner of most commercial investment advisers so that is the primary reason why they overwhelmingly always push their clients into purchasing stocks as opposed to the real big winner of precious metals. I recall reading a newspaper article several years ago from a financial adviser in Florida that claimed she was proud of convincing here clients NOT to buy gold at $800 an ounce because the gold price was too expensive and that it was her duty to protect her clients against their own foolish impulses. On November 8, 2007, thousands of people that subscribe to my free newsletter read the following statements from me:

“So with gold over $800 an ounce, is it still cheap? Emphatically yes, and here’s why. I’m not really sure how all the ‘Gold at 27-year high’ headlines came to be, but… if we experience a correction any time soon, and gold breaks back down to the $720 level again before continuing higher, it will just be really cheap. Here’s why. Anyone that’s ever studied the formula that is used to calculate the Consumer Price Index(CPI)  in the U.S. knows that the formula has been greatly tinkered with over the years to produce absurdly low inflation numbers that are merely an artificially manufactured number that probably fits some pre-determined number the government would like to report.”

So back then, even with gold trading at $800 an ounce, the banker-owned and controlled media in the Western world was filled with stories about an imminent “gold bubble” collapse because gold was at a “27-year high.” It’s important to review history from time to time to be reminded how easily you may have accepted patently absurd proclamations about gold and silver prices in order to avoid falling victim to the same banker-originated and banker-spread propaganda today.  The reason I have been overly passionate about gold and silver for years and still am today is because it takes great passion to overcome the widespread ignorance and deceit spread by the commercial investment industry to their clients about gold and silver.

Let’s see how things have panned out in the stocks versus PM investment game over the past few years. From the launch of my Crisis Investment Opportunities newsletter on June 15, 2007 until July 25, 2010, in a little over four years, my newsletter has returned a cumulative profit of  +211.49%. Over the same investment period, the S&P500, the FTSE100, the ASX200, and top 5 ETF iShares Dow Jones EPAC Select Dividend Fund have respectively returned  -21.39%, -11.99%, -26.51%, and -2.69%. Furthermore, during the next four year period, from 2011 to 2015, I truly believe that an attainable goal for my Crisis Investment Opportunities newsletter is to double or even triple my previous four-year cumulative returns, simply due to the following three reasons:

(1) Western bankers are increasingly losing control over the price suppression schemes they have enacted against gold and silver through their creation of bogus paper derivatives;
(2) The conditions that have lead to Euro and US dollar devaluation are worse today than they were 10 years ago and no underlying fundamental problem of the 2008 financial crisis has been adequately addressed as of today; and
(3) The percentage of people that have the amount of faith I hold in gold and silver to produce superior returns around the world is still minute.
Thus, once the average Dick and Jane retail investor finally believe in the facts surrounding gold and silver versus the garbage propaganda disseminated by crooked bankers and ignorant advisers, the price of gold/silver and PM stocks will finally experience a truly parabolic rise.

Once a small percentage of retail investors worldwide, or even just a small percentage of retail investors in a densely populated country like China, finally realize that bankers have created insane massive paper supplies of artificial gold and silver backed by nothing but air and are consequently moved to purchase their first troy ounce of pure gold and/or pure silver, this very small action will exert tremendous upward pressure on the price of gold and silver. And once this happens, I hope that you will have already secured your physical reserves of gold and silver because it is then that PM prices will truly go ballistic.

About the author: In 2005, JS Kim walked away from the immorality of Wall Street to form his own fiercely independent investment research & consulting firm, SmartKnowledgeU. Freed from the deceit and massive restrictions of the commercial investment industry, JS has been guiding clients towards significant profitability ever since. Currently, JS is working on completing two short books that explain the fraud of the modern banking system in simple terms and plans to donate 100% of all profits from these books to orphanages in S. Africa, Vietnam, and Thailand. Visit us at to be informed of their release andFollow us on Twitter.
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Recession Now? Stock market hysteria amid big debt fears

National Debt Contest Winner - The Spending Is Nuts


This is the winner of a recent National Debt Video Contest.  Though slick and well produced, the creator fails to mention how the freedom-loving squirrells chose to fight 2 decade-long wars on two different continents that were never paid for, and the total cost of those wars exceeded 4 trillion nuts.  Meanwhile nuts set aside for Social Security were stolen annually by corrupt squirrells in Congress to pay for general spending and make deficits appear smaller.  Our Verdict - MASIVE FAIL.

James Grant: Life Behind Bars For Bernanke

Flashback to Bernanke's reconfirmation...
Source - WSJ
By James Grant
Ben S. Bernanke doesn't know how lucky he is.  Tongue-lashings from Bernie Sanders, the populist senator from Vermont, are one thing.  The hangman's noose is another.  Section 19 of this country's founding monetary legislation, the Coinage Act of 1792, prescribed the death penalty for any official who fraudulently debased the people's money.  Was the massive printing of dollar bills to lift Wall Street (and the rest of us, too) off the rocks last year a kind of fraud?  If the U.S. Senate so determines, it may send Mr. Bernanke back home to Princeton.  But not even Ron Paul, the Texas Republican sponsor of a bill to subject the Fed to periodic congressional audits, is calling for the Federal Reserve chairman's head.
I wonder, though, just how far we have really come in the past 200-odd years. To give modernity its due, the dollar has cut a swath in the world. There's no greater success story in the long history of money than the common greenback. Of no intrinsic value, collateralized by nothing, it passes from hand to trusting hand the world over. More than half of the $923 billion's worth of currency in circulation is in the possession of foreigners.
In ancient times, the solidus circulated far and wide. But it was a tangible thing, a gold coin struck by the Byzantine Empire. Between Waterloo and the Great Depression, the pound sterling ruled the roost. But it was convertible into gold—slip your bank notes through a teller's window and the Bank of England would return the appropriate number of gold sovereigns. The dollar is faith-based. There's nothing behind it but Congress.
But now the world is losing faith, as well it might. It's not that the dollar is overvalued—economists at Deutsche Bank estimate it's 20% too cheap against the euro. The problem lies with its management. The greenback is a glorious old brand that's looking more and more like General Motors.
You get the strong impression that Mr. Bernanke fails to appreciate the tenuousness of the situation—fails to understand that the pure paper dollar is a contrivance only 38 years old, brand new, really, and that the experiment may yet come to naught. Indeed, history and mathematics agree that it will certainly come to naught. Paper currencies are wasting assets. In time, they lose all their value. Persistent inflation at even seemingly trifling amounts adds up over the course of half a century. Before you know it, that bill in your wallet won't buy a pack of gum.
For most of this country's history, the dollar was exchangeable into gold or silver. "Sound" money was the kind that rang when you dropped it on a counter. For a long time, the rate of exchange was an ounce of gold for $20.67. Following the Roosevelt devaluation of 1933, the rate of exchange became an ounce of gold for $35. After 1933, only foreign governments and central banks were privileged to swap unwanted paper for gold, and most of these official institutions refrained from asking (after 1946, it seemed inadvisable to antagonize the very superpower that was standing between them and the Soviet Union). By the late 1960s, however, some of these overseas dollar holders, notably France, began to clamor for gold. They were well-advised to do so, dollars being in demonstrable surplus. President Richard Nixon solved that problem in August 1971 by suspending convertibility altogether. From that day to this, in the words of John Exter, Citibanker and monetary critic, a Federal Reserve "note" has been an "IOU nothing."
To understand the scrape we are in, it may help, a little, to understand the system we left behind. A proper gold standard was a well-oiled machine. The metal actually moved and, so moving, checked what are politely known today as "imbalances." Say a certain baseball-loving North American country were running a persistent trade deficit. Under the monetary system we don't have and which only a few are yet even talking about instituting, the deficit country would remit to its creditors not pieces of easily duplicable paper but scarce gold bars. Gold was money—is, in fact, still money—and the loss would set in train a series of painful but necessary adjustments in the country that had been watching baseball instead of making things to sell. Interest rates would rise in that deficit country. Its prices would fall, its credit would be curtailed, its exports would increase and its imports decrease. At length, the deficit country would be restored to something like competitive trim. The gold would come sailing back to where it started. As it is today, dollars are piled higher and higher in the vaults of America's Asian creditors. There's no adjustment mechanism, only recriminations and the first suggestion that, from the creditors' point of view, enough is enough.

So in 1971, the last remnants of the gold standard were erased. And a good thing, too, some economists maintain. The high starched collar of a gold standard prolonged the Great Depression, they charge; it would likely have deepened our Great Recession, too. Virtue's the thing for prosperity, they say; in times of trouble, give us the Ben S. Bernanke school of money conjuring. There are many troubles with this notion. For one thing, there is no single gold standard. The version in place in the 1920s, known as the gold-exchange standard, was almost as deeply flawed as the post-1971 paper-dollar system. As for the Great Recession, the Bernanke method itself was a leading cause of our troubles. Constrained by the discipline of a convertible currency, the U.S. would have had to undergo the salutary, unpleasant process described above to cure its trade deficit. But that process of correction would—I am going to speculate—have saved us from the near-death financial experience of 2008. Under a properly functioning gold standard, the U.S. would not have been able to borrow itself to the threshold of the poorhouse.
Anyway, starting in the early 1970s, American monetary policy came to resemble a game of tennis without the net. Relieved of the irksome inhibition of gold convertibility, the Fed could stop worrying about the French. To be sure, it still had Congress to answer to, and the financial markets, as well. But no more could foreigners come calling for the collateral behind the dollar, because there was none. The nets came down on Wall Street, too. As the idea took hold that the Fed could meet any serious crisis by carpeting the nation with dollar bills, bankers and brokers took more risks. New forms of business organization encouraged more borrowing. New inflationary vistas opened.
So our Martian would be mystified and our honored dead distressed. And we, the living? We are none too pleased ourselves. At least, however, being alive, we can begin to set things right. The thing to do, I say, is to restore the nets to the tennis courts of money and finance. Collateralize the dollar—make it exchangeable into something of genuine value. Get the Fed out of the price-fixing business. Replace Ben Bernanke with a latter-day Thomson Hankey. Find—cultivate—battalions of latter-day Hellmans and set them to running free-market banks. There's one more thing: Return to the statute books Section 19 of the 1792 Coinage Act, but substitute life behind bars for the death penalty. It's the 21st century, you know.
Continue reading (there's MUCH more) at the WSJ...