Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Currency Cartel: Counterfeiting 'Risk Free'

Since Bretton Woods and the creation of post WWII Monetary structure, US obligations were considered risk free and its debt instruments rated as AAA. Global risk and spreads have traditionally been priced off this foundation. A crippled dollar and US debt worries has the potential to trigger a global credit melt down. The 2008 financial crisis with Bear Stearns and Lehman gave us just an inkling of the magnitude of the problem.

This is forcing a game of Risk Free Counterfeiting to now be played out. It will end, and end badly. However, at the present time it is considered the only politically palatable solution.
  • There is a Shrinking Need for US Dollars
    • The need for US dollars has fallen from being 71.2% of foreign reserve currency holdings in 1999 to 58.0% in 2011.
    • The need to hold dollars for oil purchases is being challenged by the BRIC countries through on-going trade alliances. Alliances that are counter to the Petro$$ foundation.
    • The US is no longer the dominate global industrial and trading nation it once was and therefore there is a shrinking need to hold US dollars for trade settlements,
    • China and a growing list of nations are shifting currency reserve holdings from US dollars to Gold. China is now accumulating minimally 1,000 tons per years and will soon be in a position to partially Gold back the Remimbi.
  • Global US$ Structured Debt
    • Debt around the world has traditionally been structured in US dollars. A collapsing US dollar erodes the collateral value of the debt which is often used as collateral in the Rehypothecation process. This exposes the world to a collateral contagion of massive proportions.
  • Mispriced Risk
    • Monetary Malpractice has its moral hazard and unintended consequences has led to significant levels of global mispricing and malinvestment. Risk is no longer being priced correctly as the Fed Valuation Model has broken down due to sustained, negative real interest rates.
  • Similar to the OPEC Oil Cartel protecting the price of 'black' gold, we now have a Currency Cartel protecting the US dollar, and more specifically, the fiat currency system which they all are inextricably tied to. It is the basis for their collusion.

The Currency Cartel

Effectively, what appears to have emerged is a forced alliance between fiat currency based regimes, to protect themselves and sustain the faulty system that emerged from post WWII Bretton Woods. When the US jettisoned its obligations, and in August of 1971 took itself off the gold standard, the US effectively defaulted on its obligations as the world reserve currency. Since then it has been primarily the 'good faith and credit' of the US, that has sustained an acknowledged failed and broken system. The current US Fiscal Cliff machinations only bring to the fore the seriousness of any longer considering the US as "Risk Free" and being a realist foundation for a sound and sustainable global currency reserve. As true as this is, it is not going to change as long as the status quo can be protected, and protected it must be!This has forced the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) to facilitate what can only be called a Currency Cartel to alleviate the daunting global pressures which the eroding need for US dollars is causing. As the Central Bankers' Central Bank, the BIS exercises control over the settlement of the balance of payments and the problems stemming from growing global imbalances.

'EU built on sand, facade cracking, collapse imminent'

Neil Keenan: The Changing of the Guard (NEW VERSION)

Families hit after supermarkets hike 'budget' food prices by as much as 110% in just a year

  • Millions have traded down to value supermarket lines to save money
  • But these products have posted the biggest price hike over the past year
  • Supermarkets say despite price rises, products are as popular as ever

  • Families relying on supermarket budget ranges to make ends meet are suffering some of the steepest food price hikes, research reveals.
    The big supermarket chains have increased the price of more than 40 per cent of their own-label budget lines in the past year.
    And compared with items in other ranges, the mark-up is far higher – often more than 20 per cent.
    Price hike: The big chain supermarkets have increased the price of more than 40 per cent of their own-label budget lines
    Price hike: The big chain supermarkets have increased the price of more than 40 per cent of their own-label budget lines
    Millions of families have traded down from branded food to value supermarket lines to save money.
    This is good news for the supermarkets because the profit margin on such products is much better than on versions made by other manufacturers.

    But it is exactly these products that have posted the biggest price rises in the past year, according to figures compiled by the price comparison and shopping website
    A host of Tesco’s cheapest Everyday Value products have seen inflation-busting increases. For example, an Everyday Value pack of apples is up from 71p to 82p, which is 15.5 per cent hike, while a cauliflower is up 20 per cent to 90p.
    An Everyday Value round lettuce is up 14 per cent to 57p, while there is a 15 per cent increase on tomatoes and a 25 per cent rise on a 200g pack of soft cheese.
    Bargain hunters: Millions of families have traded down from branded food to value supermarket lines to save money
    Bargain hunters: Millions of families have traded down from branded food to value supermarket lines to save money

    A 1kg bag of small potatoes from Asda’s budget range Smartprice is up by 17 per cent to 69p, while a 500g pack of tomatoes is up by 15 .4 per cent, to 90p. A Smartprice fresh chicken is up from £2.10 a kilo to £2.48, a rise of 18 per cent, while a pack of Smartprice bacon is up by 13.3 per cent to £1.70.
    A similar pattern is seen with Sainsbury’s Basics range. A 230g pack of blue cheese is up nearly 15 per cent to £1.48, while a cheese and tomato pizza is up 50 per cent to £1.50. The cost of Basics digestive biscuits has increased by an astonishing 110 per cent.
    According to retail analysts, 153, or 43.3 per cent, of Tesco’s Everyday Value products cost more than the equivalent that was available a year ago.
    Meanwhile, 137, or 41 per cent, of Sainsbury’s Basics products were more expensive.
    Only Asda lowered more prices than it put up, with 73, or 29 per cent, up and 85 marked down.
    How the 'value' food lines have soared in price
    Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s told The Grocer magazine that despite price rises, their budget ranges are as popular as ever.
    A Tesco spokesman said: ‘Since its re-launch in April, nearly 80 per cent of our customers have bought from the Everyday Value range.’
    She pointed out that the majority of Everyday Value products had stayed the same price or got cheaper but conceded ‘rising costs and food inflation mean some products have increased in price slightly’.
    Sainsbury’s said it worked hard to keep prices low. A spokesman said: ‘Seventy-two per cent of our customers buy Basics and enjoy Sainsbury’s quality at surprising prices.’

    Monkeys & Cocaine: HSBC money laundering case

    Holder's SECRET Power Grab Threatens Constitution

    Morning reading:
    NBC Chief Correspondent Richard Engel Has Been Missing In Syria Since Thursday
    Eric Holder Secretly Granted Ability To Develop Dossiers On Innocent Americans - Wired
    U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Innocent Citizens - WSJ
    A Comparison of the 2008 and 2012 Counter-Terrorism Guidelines
    The NCTC Controversy: A Timeline
    There's Not A Single Spending Cut That Republican Voters Support
    Opinion: Union Thuggery Is Supported By Democrats
    Is the Government Wrong About Inflation? - It's Actually OVER 5% In 2012
    Bernanke Extends Fed's Dollar Swap Program For Foreign Banks
    UPDATE - SAC Emails Show Steve Cohen Consulted on Key Dell Trade - Bloomberg
    UBS Said to Face Fines of More Than $1 Billion on Libor - Bloomberg
    Conservatives Threaten To Replace Any GOP Leaders Who Agree To Obama Deal
    New Computer Virus Is Wiping Data From Iranian Hard Drives
    Arnold Schwarzenegger: 'I Love Paying My Taxes!'
    REPORT: Solar Firms Under Investigation For Stimulus Swindle - The Hill
    Wells Fargo to Pay $24 Million in Sarasota County FRAUD Settlement
    How A Couple Retired On A GORGEOUS Argentine Vineyard For $150K (Impressive)
    40 Years To Plan His Retirement And Two Years To Lose It
    Silvio Berlusconi Announces Engagement to 27 Year-Old (PHOTO)
    FLASHBACK - Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows - Bloomberg
    Bruce Krasting - Apple, Japan And Fiscal Mayhem In Baltimore
    Deal For AIG Unit Caps RECORD Year For Chinese Investment In US
    Trouble For Apple? - Wal-Mart Slashes Prices on iPhone and iPad

    John Stossel - The Fiscal Cliff

    UKIP the german banks know the EU is illegal ( this is a MUST WATCH )

    California government wage insanity: Cop earns $484,000; psychiatrist earns $822,000

    (NaturalNews) As California continues to drown in red ink, it's worth noting how the state got into such fiscal dire straits in the first place, as a lesson about how not to run a government.

    In a move that smacked of blatant political favoritism, one-term Gov. Gray Davis, who nine years ago became the first U.S. governor in 82 years to be recalled, implemented policies that continue to screw over the state's 20 million taxpayers who got stuck paying the tab.

    "Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction," Bloomberg News reported recently in a piece detailing the state's ongoing budgetary woes. "Today, the state's highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime."

    'It was completely avoidable'

    What's worse, in the years since, Gray's successor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was unable to convince enough state lawmakers to help fix the out-of-whack salary structure, despite successive budget deficits totaling tens of billions annually. Seems like lawmakers beholden to public employee unions instead of taxpayers don't mind police officers making $484,000 and a psychiatrist $822,000 a year, respectively.

    According to payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million employees in the 12 most populous states, California is a stand-out. The state "has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs," the financial newswire reported.

    All across the country, such poor public policy and leadership in the past is forcing states to cut school funding, public safety operations and benefits for their poorest residents "as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn't afford," Bloomberg said.

    "It was completely avoidable," said David Crane, a public-policy lecturer at Stanford University.

    "All it took was for political leaders to think more about the general population and the future, rather than their political futures," said Crane, a Democrat who worked as an economic adviser to former Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican. "Citizens should be mad as hell, and they shouldn't take it anymore."

    Big payouts

    The pattern of state governments handing out largess to political allies has been repeated from coast to coast and is largely responsible for contributing to combined state budget shortfalls of $500 billion in just the past four years alone.

    So much red ink has caused some governors, like Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin, to remove collective bargaining (union) rights from most government employees, as well as taking other steps to cap or cut payroll spending.

    In the Golden State, Gov. Jerry Brown - a stalwart of California politics for most of his professional life who served as the state's chief executive previously, from 1975-1983 - has been unable to curb overtime expenses that lead the 12 biggest states. He also has not been able to limit payments for accumulated vacation time that saw one state worker collect $609,000 at retirement last year.

    He has; however, continued requiring workers to take an unpaid day off each month, which Bloomberg says could burden the state with new costs at some point in the future.

    Here's one of his "solutions" to solving California's $160 billion budget debt: He waived a cap on accrued leave for prison guards while giving them additional paid days off, compliments of the state's taxpayers.

    Brown did that despite the fact that California's existing liability for unused leave of its state workers has more than doubled in the past eight years and currently stands at $3.9 billion.

    "It's outrageous what public employees in California receive in compensation and benefits," Lanny Ebenstein, who heads the California Center for Public Policy, a Santa Barbara-based research institution critical of public payrolls, told Bloomberg. "Until public employee compensation and benefits are brought in line, there will be no answer to the fiscal shortfalls that California governments at every level face."

    More taxes, more spending?

    Here are some additional shocking statistics and figures:

    -- As stated, one state psychiatrist in California was paid $822,000, while a state Highway Patrol officer collected $484,000 in pay and pension benefits; 17 other employees got checks for more than $200,000 for unused vacation and leave.

    -- State psychiatrists were among the highest paid employees in other states, too, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey, with total compensation $270,000 to $327,000 for the highest-paid.

    -- Some state police officers in Pennsylvania got checks as big as $190,000 for unused personal leave and vacation time, even as they were able to retire young enough to begin second careers.

    -- Virginia paid some active state officers up to $109,000 in overtime alone.

    Again, though, California stands out.

    "California spends most of its money on salaries, retirement payments, health care benefits for government workers, and other compensation," said Schwarzenegger. "State revenues are up more than 50 percent over the past 10 years, but still we've had to cut spending on services because so much of that revenue increase went to increases in compensation and benefits."

    One thing Brown has succeeded in accomplishing: He convinced voters to back a huge tax increase last month, all the while promising that the extra money will only be used to help balance the state's budget.

    Where have we heard that before?

    DHS prepares for fiscal cliff by ordering hundreds of thousands of rounds

    With the fiscal cliff looming over the American taxpayer like the Sword of Damocles, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), via the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) has requested another 200,000 rounds of .40 caliber Federal Ammunition hollow point rounds. This is not a part of a larger order, spread out over time, but rather, the 200,000 rounds would need to be delivered in toto after the contract is awarded.
    These rounds are to be delivered to an a training site in North Charleston, South Carolina. This facility “specializes in Maritime Law Enforcement and Port Security Training. Basic and advanced training programs are conducted in concert with the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement Academy, the U.S. Courts Probation and Pretrial Services Training Academy, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Training Academy, the Customs and Border Protection Field Operations Academy, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
    Federal Ammunition, also known as “Federal Cartridge” has been a frequent awardee of DHS ammunition contracts, is now a part of  Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC (ATK), on June 30, 2012, changed to Federal Cartridge Company.
    The EXTREMELY odd thing is that DHS has millions of rounds at their disposal.
    Solicit# Caliber Year Bought Sum Used to date 2012 Sum Sum remaining
    HSCESS-09-Q-00003 .40 S&W 2009 160,000,000 40,000,000 40,000,000
    HSCEMS-11-R-00004 .40 S&W 2011 140,000,000 70,000,000 210,000,000
    20072346-JTC .40 S&W 2012 30,000,000 30,000,000 90,000,000
    HSCEMS-12-R-00015 .223 SD 2012 40,000,000 40,000,000 160,000,000
    HSCEMS-12-R-00002 .223 EP 2012 35,000,000 35,000,000 140,000,000
    While the rounds may “belong” to Immigrations and Customs enforcement (ICE), it would be as easy as writing up an assets transfer request to receive some of the 340 MILLION rounds of .40 caliber that ICE would be receiving in the next few years.
    This is just another attempt to frighten people with federal force. Lenin was quoted as saying that Communism would hang Capitalists with the very string the Communists purchased from them.
    As a nation we are bankrupt. The cries for increased gun control make gun owners look insane. And the ones buying the ammunition are the same ones who demand gun control. Hollywood couldn’t write a scary story.
    Will the government thugs put guns into the faces of the taxpayer that the paid for?

    The erosion of purchasing power via inflation – Federal Reserve and the permanent portfolio.

    Inflation has a subtle and quite way of eroding your purchasing power.  The process can unfold slowly and before you know it you suddenly wake up realizing your paycheck no longer stretches so far.  This is happening across the US in many ways.  Those on very tight budgets, especially those now on food stamps are feeling the pinch of higher food costs.  Middle class Americans seeking to send their kids to college realize that it might be difficult to do so without going into deep student debt.  Inflation as measured by the CPI understates the real change in purchasing power because our system is flooded with massive levels of debt.  Access to debt is viewed as a vector in which you can pretend to have money and spend on things you are unable to afford.  Yet debt and wealth are not the same.  Inflation is creeping into the system and people are feeling it.

    Change in prices
    As household incomes have gone flat over the last year, the cost of many items has actually gone up:
    change in prices
    The fastest rising sector is medical care cost.  Do you think this is going to be an issue given the large number of baby boomers now retiring and requiring more medical care?  Do you think this is going to put a strain on those Social Security checks indexed to the CPI?  Of course it is.  Shelter went up by 2.2 percent over the last 12 months largely by the big push in rental prices and because banks are stunting the inventory available on the market.  Again, if incomes are stagnant, all this means is more disposable income is now going to these sectors.
    Food prices have also gone up by 1.8 percent over the last year and for the 47.7 million Americans on food stamps you can rest assured this is being felt.  This is the slow eroding impact inflation has on your purchasing power.  Americans feel poorer because they actually are.  The Fed is purposely trying to devalue the dollar and create a low wage system where our nationwide debts are cheaply funded by low interest rates.  The Fed is selecting winners and losers.  This is no shock.  Yet the Fed’s balance sheet is still near $3 trillion.  Will they ever unload these items onto the market?
    Fed balance sheet
    You’ll notice the large purchases done by the Fed starting in 2008.  Not much has changed here.  The Fed is the only player in town when it comes to mortgage backed securities.  The Fed is keeping rates near zero to keep interest payments low but also to allow banks to unload their inflated assets onto the market at higher prices.  Of course the public in order to compete will need to leverage itself with low rate mortgage but pay a much higher sticker price.
    We are addicted to debt.  That is clear.  The Fed is creating a closed feedback loop here where the entire market now depends on its large action to keep rates low.  They are now viewed as a permanent player in these sectors.  You should not be surprised that the sectors being hit heaviest with price increases are those with maximum debt leverage.  Think of housing and college.  It comes as no surprise that these sectors see big price volatility.  Housing has boomed, busted, and is now moving up again with the Fed keeping rates artificially low.  Yet incomes are back to levels last seen in the 1990s.  Tuition is rising across the nation in line with access to college debt.  The large players in both markets are banks intertwined with the Fed.
    Inflation is clearly here even as measured by the BLS data.  Yet incomes are stagnant suggesting that people are seeing a real measurable decrease in the standard of living.  The fiscal cliff is merely another method of funding spending with money we don’t have (more debt).  It is part of human nature to want it all as quickly as possible without paying for it.  Unfortunately the bill always comes due and many seem perfectly fine with passing the bill to future generations.

    What the Soldiers Did on Christmas 98 Years Ago

    Frank Richards recalled:
    "On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest -- it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit -- and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.
    "Buffalo Bill [the Company Commander] rushed into the trench and endeavoured to prevent it, but he was too late: the whole of the Company were now out, and so were the Germans. He had to accept the situation, so soon he and the other company officers climbed out too. We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man's-land. Their officers was also now out. Our officers exchanged greetings with them. One of the German officers said that he wished he had a camera to take a snapshot, but they were not allowed to carry cameras. Neither were our officers.
    "We mucked in all day with one another. They were Saxons and some of them could speak English. By the look of them their trenches were in as bad a state as our own. One of their men, speaking in English, mentioned that he had worked in Brighton for some years and that he was fed up to the neck with this damned war and would be glad when it was all over. We told him that he wasn't the only one that was fed up with it. We did not allow them in our trench and they did not allow us in theirs.
    "The German Company-Commander asked Buffalo Bill if he would accept a couple of barrels of beer and assured him that they would not make his men drunk. They had plenty of it in the brewery. He accepted the offer with thanks and a couple of their men rolled the barrels over and we took them into our trench. The German officer sent one of his men back to the trench, who appeared shortly after carrying a tray with bottles and glasses on it. Officers of both sides clinked glasses and drunk one another's health. Buffalo Bill had presented them with a plum pudding just before. The officers came to an understanding that the unofficial truce would end at midnight. At dusk we went back to our respective trenches."

    Bruce Bairnsfather remembered:
    "The dawn of the 24th brought a perfectly still, cold, frosty day. The spirit of Christmas began to permeate us all; we tried to plot ways and means of making the next day, Christmas, different in some way to others. Invitations from one dug-out to another for sundry meals were beginning to circulate. Christmas Eve was, in the way of weather, everything that Christmas Eve should be.
    "I was billed to appear at a dug-out about a quarter of a mile to the left that evening to have rather a special thing in trench dinners—not quite so much bully and Maconochie about as usual. A bottle of red wine and a medley of tinned things from home deputized in their absence. The day had been entirely free from shelling, and somehow we all felt that the Boches, too, wanted to be quiet. There was a kind of an invisible, intangible feeling extending across the frozen swamp between the two lines, which said 'This is Christmas Eve for both of us—something in common.'
    "About 10 p.m. I made my exit from the convivial dug-out on the left of our line and walked back to my own lair. On arriving at my own bit of trench I found several of the men standing about, and all very cheerful. There was a good bit of singing and talking going on, jokes and jibes on our curious Christmas Eve, as contrasted with any former one, were thick in the air. One of my men turned to me and said:
    "'You can 'ear 'em quite plain, sir!'
    "'Hear what?' I inquired.
    "'The Germans over there, sir; 'ear 'em singin' and playin' on a band or somethin'.'
    "I listened;—away out across the field, among the dark shadows beyond, I could hear the murmur of voices, and an occasional burst of some unintelligible song would come floating out on the frosty air. The singing seemed to be loudest and most distinct a bit to our right. I popped into my dug-out and found the platoon commander."
    "'Do you hear the Boches kicking up that racket over there?' I said.
    "'Yes,' he replied; 'they've been at it some time!'
    "'Come on,' said I, 'let's go along the trench to the hedge there on the right—that's the nearest point to them, over there.'
    "So we stumbled along our now hard, frosted ditch, and scrambling up on to the bank above, strode across the field to our next bit of trench on the right. Everyone was listening. An improvised Boche band was playing a precarious version of 'Deutschland, Deutschland, uber Alles,' at the conclusion of which, some of our mouth-organ experts retaliated with snatches of ragtime songs and imitations of the German tune. Suddenly we heard a confused shouting from the other side. We all stopped to listen. The shout came again. A voice in the darkness shouted in English, with a strong German accent, 'Come over here!' A ripple of mirth swept along our trench, followed by a rude outburst of mouth organs and laughter. Presently, in a lull, one of our sergeants repeated the request, 'Come over here!'
    "'You come half-way—I come half-way,' floated out of the darkness.
    "'Come on, then!' shouted the sergeant. 'I'm coming along the hedge!'
    "'Ah! but there are two of you,' came back the voice from the other side.
    "Well, anyway, after much suspicious shouting and jocular derision from both sides, our sergeant went along the hedge which ran at right-angles to the two lines of trenches. He was quickly out of sight; but, as we all listened in breathless silence, we soon heard a spasmodic conversation taking place out there in the darkness.
    "Presently, the sergeant returned. He had with him a few German cigars and cigarettes which he had exchanged for a couple of Maconochie's and a tin of Capstan, which he had taken with him. The séance was over, but it had given just the requisite touch to our Christmas Eve—something a little human and out of the ordinary routine.
    "After months of vindictive sniping and shelling, this little episode came as an invigorating tonic, and a welcome relief to the daily monotony of antagonism. It did not lessen our ardour or determination; but just put a little human punctuation mark in our lives of cold and humid hate. Just on the right day, too—Christmas Eve! But, as a curious episode, this was nothing in comparison to our experience on the following day.
    "On Christmas morning I awoke very early, and emerged from my dug-out into the trench. It was a perfect day. A beautiful, cloudless blue sky. The ground hard and white, fading off towards the wood in a thin low-lying mist. It was such a day as is invariably depicted by artists on Christmas cards—the ideal Christmas Day of fiction.

    "'Fancy all this hate, war, and discomfort on a day like this!' I thought to myself. The whole spirit of Christmas seemed to be there, so much so that I remember thinking, 'This indescribable something in the air, this Peace and Goodwill feeling, surely will have some effect on the situation here to-day!' And I wasn't far wrong; it did around us, anyway, and I have always been so glad to think of my luck in, firstly, being actually in the trenches on Christmas Day, and, secondly, being on the spot where quite a unique little episode took place.
    "Everything looked merry and bright that morning—the discomforts seemed to be less, somehow; they seemed to have epitomized themselves in intense, frosty cold. It was just the sort of day for Peace to be declared. It would have made such a good finale. I should like to have suddenly heard an immense siren blowing. Everybody to stop and say, 'What was that?' Siren blowing again: appearance of a small figure running across the frozen mud waving something. He gets closer—a telegraph boy with a wire! He hands it to me. With trembling fingers I open it: 'War off, return home.—George, R.I.' Cheers! But no, it was a nice, fine day, that was all.
    "Walking about the trench a little later, discussing the curious affair of the night before, we suddenly became aware of the fact that we were seeing a lot of evidences of Germans. Heads were bobbing about and showing over their parapet in a most reckless way, and, as we looked, this phenomenon became more and more pronounced.
    "A complete Boche figure suddenly appeared on the parapet, and looked about itself. This complaint became infectious. It didn't take 'Our Bert' long to be up on the skyline (it is one long grind to ever keep him off it). This was the signal for more Boche anatomy to be disclosed, and this was replied to by all our Alf's and Bill's, until, in less time than it takes to tell, half a dozen or so of each of the belligerents were outside their trenches and were advancing towards each other in no-man's land.
    "A strange sight, truly!
    "I clambered up and over our parapet, and moved out across the field to look. Clad in a muddy suit of khaki and wearing a sheepskin coat and Balaclava helmet, I joined the throng about half-way across to the German trenches.
    "It all felt most curious: here were these sausage-eating wretches, who had elected to start this infernal European fracas, and in so doing had brought us all into the same muddy pickle as themselves.
    "This was my first real sight of them at close quarters. Here they were—the actual, practical soldiers of the German army. There was not an atom of hate on either side that day."

    John McCutcheon reimagined:

    Joe Henry and Garth Brooks rediscovered:

    Even Snoopy was inspired:

    And now, after 98 years, what will we do?