Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I Call: "Bullshit!" But It Is A Funny Medical Premise

Caffeine, exercise may help ward off skin cancer
Mon Jul 30, 2007 4:52PM EDT
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exercise and moderate caffeine consumption together could help ward off sun-induced skin cancer, researchers said on Monday, but cautioned against ditching the sun screen in favor of a jog and a cappuccino.
Experiments on mice showed that caffeine and exercise together somehow made them better able to destroy precancerous cells whose DNA had been damaged by ultraviolet-B radiation, according to scientists at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
"We think that it will be important in terms of prevention, and possibly not only for skin cancer but possibly for other cancers as well," Rutgers cancer researcher Allan Conney, one of the scientists, said in a telephone interview.
The researchers studied groups of hairless mice that were exposed to lamps generating ultraviolet-B radiation that damaged DNA in their skin cells.
One group drank water containing the human equivalent of one or two cups of coffee a day. A second group exercised on a running wheel. A third group exercised and drank the caffeine. A fourth group neither exercised nor drank caffeine.
Both caffeine and exercise alone increased by roughly 100 percent the mice's ability to kill off precancerous cells that could lead to skin cancer compared to the mice that did neither. But the mice that did both showed a nearly 400 percent increase in this ability, the researchers found.
The researchers are eager to discover if the findings would apply to humans, but in the meantime warned people not to give up the sunscreen.
"Don't go out and exercise and drink a lot of coffee and assume you're going to be protected," Conney said.
"Keep in mind that these are studies in mice. Although I think that they may be applicable to humans, it really has to be studied carefully before we can say that," Conney added.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers said some previous studies have provided evidence that exercise and caffeine consumption through coffee may be linked to reduced risk for some other cancers.
Conney said they want to figure out precisely how the combination of caffeine and exercise seems to have a protective effect against skin damage caused by the sun.
"It's great that people are doing research looking for different ways to help reduce the risk of skin cancer," dermatologist Dr. Bruce Katz, a spokesman for the Skin Cancer Foundation and the director of the Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York City, said in a telephone interview.
But the study provided "extremely preliminary data," and there is no evidence of such an effect in people, Katz added.
The foundation said skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 1 million people diagnosed with it annually.

Packing Heat In Canada

Armed border guards to staff risky crossings beginning next week

Canadian border security will be beefed up next week when some guards start carrying 9-mm Beretta handguns while on duty.
The first class of 39 officers graduated Friday from the Canadian Border Service Agency firearms training centres in Ottawa and Chilliwack, B.C. and will begin serving at crossings across the country tomorrow.
Exactly where the armed officers will be stationed won't be revealed for security reasons, said federal Public Safety department spokeswoman Melisa Leclerc.
"The schedule for arming borders is based on volumes and risk," she said.
"It will start with the busiest border crossings and those most at risk."
The next group of border guards is scheduled to begin the three-week firearms training program on Aug. 13.

Don't Worry Henry, We'll Just Print More Money

Paulson: U.S. Should Boost Debt Limit

Jul 30 04:13 PM US/EasternBy JEANNINE AVERSAAP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Monday said the United States may be unable to pay its bills this fall unless Congress raises the government's borrowing authority, now capped at $8.965 trillion.
Paulson, in a letter to lawmakers, estimated the government is likely to bump into the statutory debt limit in early October.
"Accordingly, I am writing to request that Congress raise the statutory debt limit as soon as possible," Paulson wrote. He did not say how much more borrowing authority the Bush administration needs.
Congress has already boosted the statutory debt limit several times during President Bush's tenure. The last time Congress upped the government's borrowing authority was in March 2006 when it agreed to raise the debt ceiling by $781 billion.
Boosting the debt limit is more a matter of politics than economics.
Economists doubt Congress will refuse to raise the limit. A federal default is considered unimaginable because it would rattle bond markets, force interest rates higher and shake the economy.
Democrats have blasted the administration for ratcheting up the government's borrowing needs to pay for bloated budget deficits; they contend the greater borrowing needs show Bush's fiscal mismanagement.
The administration, however, has defended the increases as essential to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to cover other costs to keep the United States secure.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Brace Yourself: Un-PC Diatribe Forthcoming

There's a lot of BS in this article, but it centers on the point that men and women ARE different; despite the "we're all the same" mantra that diversity advocates gleefully spout. Men built the world, men change the oil, men do all the heavy lifting. I find it a partial reason that America is headed down a socialist path with the rise in women's advocacy. Women certainly want to be in charge and run things, but nature did not grant them the aggression and drive that most men are born with. Good thing too, otherwise the human race would've perished a long time ago. I'm certainly not against women, most of them make life bearable. But for the "Carly" Fiorina's of the world, stop trying to be a man and get back to smoozing sales marks.

Salary, Gender and the Social Cost of Haggling
By Shankar VedantamWashington Post Staff WriterMonday, July 30, 2007; A07
About 10 years ago, a group of graduate students lodged a complaint with Linda C. Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University: All their male counterparts in the university's PhD program were teaching courses on their own, whereas the women were working only as teaching assistants.
That mattered, because doctoral students who teach their own classes get more experience and look better prepared when it comes time to go on the job market.
When Babcock took the complaint to her boss, she learned there was a very simple explanation: "The dean said each of the guys had come to him and said, 'I want to teach a course,' and none of the women had done that," she said. "The female students had expected someone to send around an e-mail saying, 'Who wants to teach?' " The incident prompted Babcock to start systematically studying gender differences when it comes to asking for pay raises, resources or promotions. And what she found was that men and women are indeed often different when it comes to opening negotiations.
These differences, Babcock and other researchers have concluded, may partially explain the persistent gender gap in salaries, as well as other disparities in how people rise to the top of organizations. Women working full time earn about 77 percent of the salaries of men working full time, Babcock said. That figure does not take differing professions and educational levels into account, but when those and other factors are controlled for, women who work full time and have never taken time off to have children earn about 11 percent less than men with equivalent education and experience.
In one early study, Babcock brought 74 volunteers into a laboratory to play a word game called Boggle. The volunteers were told they would be paid anywhere from $3 to $10 for their time. After playing the game, each student was given $3 and asked if the sum was okay. Eight times more men than women asked for more money.
Babcock then ran the experiment a different way. She told a new set of 153 volunteers that they would be paid $3 to $10 but explicitly added that the sum was negotiable. Many more now asked for more money, but the gender gap remained substantial: 58 percent of the women, but 83 percent of the men, asked for more.
Another study quizzed graduating master's degree students who had received job offers about whether they had simply accepted the offered starting salary or had tried to negotiate for more. Four times as many men -- 51 percent of the men vs. 12.5 percent of the women -- said they had pushed for a better deal. Not surprisingly, those who negotiated tended to be rewarded -- they got 7.4 percent more, on average -- compared with those who did not negotiate.
Although differences in starting salaries are usually modest, small differences can have big effects down the road. If a 22-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman are offered $25,000 for their first job, for example, and one of them negotiates the amount up to $30,000, then over the next 28 years, the negotiator would make $361,171 more, assuming they both got 3 percent raises each year. And this is without taking into account the fact that the negotiators don't just get better starting pay; they also win bigger raises over the course of their careers.
The traditional explanation for the gender differences that Babcock found is that men are simply more aggressive than women, perhaps because of a combination of genetics and upbringing. The solution to gender disparities, this school of thought suggests, is to train women to be more assertive and to ask for more. However, a new set of experiments by Babcock and Hannah Riley Bowles, who studies the psychology of organizations at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, offers an entirely different explanation.
Their study, which was coauthored by Carnegie Mellon researcher Lei Lai, found that men and women get very different responses when they initiate negotiations. Although it may well be true that women often hurt themselves by not trying to negotiate, this study found that women's reluctance was based on an entirely reasonable and accurate view of how they were likely to be treated if they did. Both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who asked for more -- the perception was that women who asked for more were "less nice".
"What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not," Bowles said. "They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not."
In this study, Bowles and her colleagues divided 119 volunteers at random into different groups and provided them with descriptions of male or female candidates who tried to negotiate a higher starting salary for a hypothetical job, along with descriptions of applicants who accepted the offered salary. The volunteers were asked to decide whether they would hire the candidates -- who were all described as exceptionally talented and qualified. While both men and women were penalized for negotiating, Bowles found that the negative effect for women was more than twice as large as that for men.
Subsequent studies used actors who recorded videos of themselves asking for more money or accepting salaries they had been offered. A new group of 285 volunteers were again asked whether they would be willing to work with the candidates after viewing the videos. Men tended to rule against women who negotiated but were less likely to penalize men; women tended to penalize both men and women who negotiated, and preferred applicants who did not ask for more.
In a final set of studies, Bowles's team had 367 volunteers play the role of job candidates and left it up to them to decide whether to ask for more money than they were offered. Women were less likely than men to negotiate when they believed they would be dealing with a man, but there was no significant difference between men and women when they thought a woman would be making the decision. The applicants, in other words, were accurately reading how males and females were likely to perceive them.
"This isn't about fixing the women," Bowles said. "It isn't about telling women, 'You need self-confidence or training.' They are responding to incentives within the social environment."
The findings, published this year in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, help explain why some other studies have reached conflicting conclusions. For example, one study by Barry A. Gerhart, then at Cornell University, found little difference between male and female MBA students in whether they negotiated over their starting salary. Similarly, Bowles said, the new study showed that women did not act in the same way at all times: They were more likely to negotiate when dealing with another woman than when dealing with a man.
"It is not that women always act one way and men act another way; it tends to be moderated by situational factors," Bowles said. "The point of this paper is: Yes, there is an economic rationale to negotiate, but you have to weigh that against social risks of negotiating. What we show is those risks are higher for women than for men."

Did You Hear A Growl?

Base Metals Bears

By David Galland
It is not our purpose here at Casey Research to massage the data to fit our point of view. In fact, we are nothing if not open minded. Recently, we asked readers to propose scenarios that might cause things to break in a direction other than what we expect. In response, a subscriber forwarded an article from Bloomberg with a very sound-sounding bearish view on base metals. (You can read the entire article by clicking here .)
To save you some reading time, the theme of the article is that, due to high prices, the supplies of base metals coming onto the market will quickly reach the point where they'll overwhelm demand, driving prices down. This scenario will be exacerbated, according to the base metals bears, because China's rocket-like economic expansion must surely slow, thereby reducing demand at the same time supplies are increasing.
Despite the strength of their argument, these same bears, most notably the folks at JP Morgan, have been wrong about the base metals for some time now. To quote the Bloomberg article:
"An investor who acted on the advice of JP Morgan, the third-largest U.S. bank, missed gains of 67 percent for nickel, 30 percent for copper and 41 percent for lead, the best performing commodities in the 26-member UBS Bloomberg CMCI Index."
Even so, just because JP Morgan has been wrong in the past doesn't mean it will continue to be wrong. (We have also been cautious on the base metals, but rather than eschew the sector altogether, we have simply tightened the criteria a base metal play has to meet before we recommend it in the pages of our monthly International Speculator newsletter.)
Always happy for a second opinion, I forwarded the Bloomberg article on to long-term friend Clyde Harrison, the brains behind both the Rogers International Commodity Index and now the Bridgewater Index.
After reading it, he gave me a call. His view can be summed up as, "They may be right, in the short term. But a year down the road, the base metals are going to be trading much higher than they are today."
According to Clyde, the debate about China's growth is already over, underscoring that contention by sharing just a few data points. For instance, there are currently 168 power plants being built in China. In addition to the massive amount of metal used in constructing those plants, consider the copper wire those power plants are going to be connected to. "Will there be a fall-off in demand for copper? Not likely," Clyde replied, answering his own question. He also noted that China built and sold as many cars as the U.S. last year.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the Chinese are increasingly showing up in remote corners of the world, checkbooks open, eager to trade U.S. dollars for tangible resources. China's acute interest in natural resources also explains why there are now 50,000 students studying geology in China.
According to Clyde, historical data shows that when a country starts to industrialize, per-capita usage of oil typically goes from about one barrel of oil per year at the beginning of the industrialization, to between 17 and 27 barrels per capita by the time the industrialization is completed.
That China is just beginning to industrialize, and has much further to go, is evident when you consider the Chinese currently consume just 1.7 bbl per capita per year. And the citizens of India use just 0.9.
The Chinese will consume increasing quantities of crude oil. That's a certainty. And they'll also consume increasing quantities of base metals. That's also a certainty. Even so, the prices of all natural resources are likely to fall sharply from time to time. Such drops can be frightening, but they can also provide an ideal entry point.
So whenever resource stocks are falling sharply, don't forget to buy the dips.

Robert May Be Nothing More Than A Motivational Speaker, But I Like The Message

Thinking Big is the Best Plan
by Robert Kiyosaki

Years ago, when I was just starting my real estate investing career, I came across a property with a for-sale sign on it. I called the broker and asked, "What can you tell me about the property, and how much does it cost?"
The broker politely and patiently said, "It's a commercial building with six tenants. There's a chiropractor, a dentist, a hairstylist, an accountant, and a bail bondsman. The price is two million dollars."
Losing Big
I almost choked. "Two million dollars?! That's way too expensive!"
Thirty years ago, $2 million was a lot of money. And instead of looking at the property, I let the price frighten me off. I never looked at the deal, and just assumed that the seller was crazy, greedy, and out of touch with the market.
Today, there's a luxury hotel on the same site. It's spectacular. I estimate the property to be worth at least $150 million, and maybe more.
Cheap Lessons
Not seeing the potential of that deal taught me many lessons. Here are two important ones:
• Sometimes you learn more by being stupid and making mistakes.
• The person with the better plan wins.
In the above example, my plan was just too small. In fact, the only plan I had at the time was to collect the rent money from the tenants, cover my mortgage and expenses, and put a little in my pocket. And 30 years ago, I knew that the rent from six small tenants couldn't possibly pay for a $2 million property.
I later learned that the property's eventual owner bought it for full price -- with terms. He put $50,000 down as an option and asked for 180 days to put the rest of his plan together. During those 180 days, he gathered his investors, a builder, and his tenant, a major hotel chain.
If he hadn't been able to put his plan together, he would've lost his option money. Instead, before the 180 days were up, his investors paid the $2 million in cash, and he spent the next three years getting the project through the city planning commission and finally began construction. He won because he had a better plan.
Mind Expansion
Donald Trump often says to "think big." He definitely does so, but by nature, I don't. My excuse is that I come from a small town in Hawaii. My family wasn't rich, so when it comes to money, I tend to think err on the side of caution. Over time, my thinking has become medium-sized when it comes to spotting opportunities, but I'd still like to think bigger.
One of the reasons I enjoy doing business in New York and having Trump as a partner on different projects is that he makes me do just that -- because if you don't think big in New York, you get kicked out. If I thought small, I wouldn't be on television, cutting book deals with major publishers, or talking in front of tens of thousands of people in arenas like Madison Square Garden.
Currently, I'm working on a real estate project to present to Donald. Consequently, I find myself pushing my thinking, expanding my context, and thinking of luxury, not just price. Even if Donald doesn't like the project and we don't partner on it, just preparing to present the project to him has required me to think bigger and come up with a better plan.
A Blast from the Past
About a year ago, someone called to say that there was a spectacular condominium that had just come up for sale. She wanted to know if I was interested in looking at it. Of course I said, "Yes." I wanted to see what her definition of spectacular was, and trust me -- it was spectacular. She then said, "And the price is only twenty-eight million dollars. But I believe you can pick it up for twenty-four million. At that price, this condo is a steal."
Once again, I heard myself saying what I said so long ago: "That's too expensive." But, as I said, that lesson from 30 years back proved to be priceless: After hearing the think-small person in me comment on the condo price, I took a deep breath and asked myself, "What's my plan?" Then I asked myself, "What's wrong with my plan?"
I didn't buy the condo, but I did come up with a better plan. Over the next few days, I realized that the reason I couldn't afford the condo was because my business was too small. If I wanted to afford such a luxury residence, I needed to come up with a better plan for my business. Today, I'm working harder than ever to improve it -- not because I want the condo, but to be able afford such a condo if I someday decide I want one.
Plan Ahead
In many of my Yahoo! Finance columns, I've written about my concern over the devaluation of the U.S. dollar. As the dollar drops in purchasing power, it often pushes up the prices of real assets -- quality real estate and equities. My fear is that many people may not be able to afford tangible assets and become poorer as the dollar declines. This drop in purchasing power also widens the gap between the rich and everyone else.
One method of staying ahead of rising asset prices and the declining dollar is to think bigger and come up with better plans. As important as financial and business planning is a plan for personal development and self-improvement. I'm often asked to invest in people's business plans, and one of the reasons I turn many of them down is because a big plan requires a big person who's spent time on personal development. In a lot of cases, a business plan is far bigger than the person with the plan -- that is, the dream is bigger than the dreamer.
Today, I'm glad I missed out on that $2 million property all those years ago. The best lesson I learned from it is that I can have a better life if I have a better plan -- and a plan to become better person. So what's your plan?

North American Union-European Union-Bilderberg?

Funny that domestic media doesn't mention the Bilderberg influence in the world's affair.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nothing To Fear, But Fear Itself

You've nothing to fear from us, China's army says
Ben BlanchardReuters Monday July 30, 2007
PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY UNIT 196, China (Reuters) - China let in a crack of light on its military modernisation on Monday, opening a camp to foreign reporters to put out the message: we have nothing to hide and you have nothing to fear.
The People's Liberation Army, the world's largest armed force, guards its secrets jealously. Foreigners are almost never allowed on to their bases, let alone foreign journalists.
But China is keen to dispel jitters in Washington that its growing arms budget is far from transparent and that Beijing's rising military spending may destabilize East Asia.
"What outsiders hype up the most is the military budget," said Wu Yuzhang, a senior colonel and official at the Defense Ministry's Foreign Affairs Department, after watching a drill involving martial arts, marksmanship and artillery fire.
"We've already given a very clear explanation about that in our defense white paper," he told reporters at Unit 196's base just over Beijing's border in the neighboring city of Tianjin.
In March, China said it would boost defense spending by 17.8 percent to about $45 billion this year, but a Pentagon report in May said Beijing's total military-related spending could more than double that.
China and the United States have long sparred over the nature of China's military development, with Washington saying it is trying to project its growing power and Beijing maintaining that its armed forces are geared towards self-defense only.
"I don't know what anyone has to worry about," said Unit 196's senior colonel, Zhang Qingjiang. "I think we're very transparent. I can tell you all the numbers for this base, including how much I earn."
Still, while other Chinese ministries have made real efforts in recent years to set up a system of spokesmen and hold regular news conferences, the Ministry of Defense is virtually uncontactable and its officials rarely talk to the media.
But ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics and because this year is the 80th anniversary of the army's founding, the ministry had decided to open up a little, Wu said.
"The main aim is so everyone can have a clearer, more accurate understanding of China's military, so that people don't get inaccurate information from some other media outlets," he said, without elaborating.
Part of the rare charm offensive included lunch in the mess hall with startled looking Chinese troops, who smiled nervously while politely answering questions on salary and housing, adding they had only been told about the visit on Saturday.
Barely mentioned were the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square -- no, the unit was not involved -- and Taiwan, the self-ruled, democratic island China claims as its own.
Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.
"Just because you are getting stronger does not mean you are going to become a bully," Zhang said, when asked if China's increased military spending may destabilize the region.
"I just want to make the military the best it can be, so it can complete its mission," he added.

Some Radical, But Poignant Thoughts From PrisonPlanet.com

Tales of Angst, Alienation and Martial law Roasting Marshmallows on the American Reichstag Fire to Come
Phil RockstrohInformation LiberationMonday July 30, 2007
In this summer of angst and grim foreboding about what further assaults against common sense and common decency the Bush administration might inflict upon the people of the world, how many times during the day do those of us -- still possessed of mind, heart and conscience -- take pause, hoping we've seen the worst of it, then, fearing we haven't yet, attempt to push down the dread rising within us, so that we might simply make it through the day and be able to rest at night?
Accordingly, those who have been paying attention are aware that the outward mechanisms of martial law are in place. We shudder knowing that Bush has issued an executive decree that grants him dictatorial power in the event of some nebulously defined national emergency. In addition, the knowledge nettles us that a vast network of internment camps bristle across the length of the U.S., standing at wait for those who might raise objections to the fascistic fury unloosed by the American empire's version of the Reichstag fire.
Moreover, a closer look would reveal that the inner processes by which an individual begins the act of acceptance of authoritarian excess -- the mixture of chronic passivity, boredom, low grade anxiety and unfocused rage inherent in the citizens/consumers of the corporate state that primes an individual for fascism -- have been in place for quite some time within the psyches of the American populace, both elites and hoi polloi alike. Although, don't look for torch-lit processions thronging the nation's streets and boulevards; rather, look for a Nuremberg Rally of couch-bound brownshirts. Instead of ogling the serried ranks of jut-jawed, SS soldiers, a contemporary Leni Riefenstahl would be forced to film chubby clusters of double-chinned consumers, saluting the new order with their TV remotes. In the contemporary United States, the elation induced by the immersion of one's individual will to the mindless intoxication of the mob might only be possible, if Bush seized dictatorial control of the state while simultaneously sending out to all citizens gift certificates to Ikea.
After the catastrophes spawned by the rise of European fascism in the 1930s, a number of brilliant, original thinkers (including Hannah Arendt, Roberto Freire, Wilhelm Reich, and R. D. Laing) set out to study the phenomenon in order to learn how future calamities might be prevented. Although the methodologies and conclusions of these thinkers varied, each noted that alienation and dehumanization festered at the core of the death urge of fascism.
Nowadays, in contrast, the elites of the corporate media have proven themselves useless in this regard, believing, as they do, they constitute the thin line between the rabble at large (me and you) and the chaos begot by freedom. At present, mega-churches attract alienated suburbanites. Right-wing talk show hosts misdirect their listeners alienation towards so-called illegal "aliens" and exploit their audience's sense of powerlessness (created by the rigged system of corporate capitalism) against elitist liberals (who themselves, ironically, benefit from the present system and who only want to change it to the degree that their own privilege will not be affected -- in other words, not at all).
Combine the above with the American character trait of being hostile towards introspection and it becomes evident that the present disaster has been building for quite a while now. And it can (and most likely will) get worse -- far worse.
Most Americans alive today have been trained since birth to adapt to and serve the corrupt corporate structure by means of the shunning of critical thinking and have been conditioned to be in constant (empty) motion or in the thrall of mass media distraction. We have been taught that passivity is for losers, yet we find ourselves nearly powerless before the corporate/consumer/military/police/entertainment state. In this way, we serve our corporate masters; it serves the corpocracy that the lower orders refuse meaningful self-awareness. If one were to glimpse one's own illusions, then it follows one might begin to question collective delusions, and this would upset the social order.
Those who have studied the dangers of authoritarian rule have advised us to be wary of people who carry an inner emptiness. Of course, these unfortunates yearn for the void to be filled. But with their hearts and minds mortared closed, what makes it through the self-constructed prison is loud, stupid, and fascistic. At present, what penetrates is: Fundamentalist Sermons on Armageddon, violent video games, the empty spectacle of steroid-induced professional sports hype, the lethal fantasies of American exceptionalism, the exercise in Rock and Roll imperialism that U.S. foreign policy has become. In short, all the banal Sturm and Drang necessary to pierce those protective walls and penetrate the pervasive inner emptiness.
When the people of a culture have been conditioned to worship power -- but feel powerless -- there's trouble ahead. The elites must displace the public's rage by a demagogic sleight-of-hand such as the demonization of marginalized groups. In the US, we've been inundated by years of state and commercial propaganda that has degraded and demonized the country's permanent underclass by the labeling of them as welfare parasites and career criminals.
It has been noted that the mindset, methods, and procedures of America's punitive, profit-driven prison-industrial complex was a prototype for the systemic cruelty of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; furthermore, it is a given that those institutional affronts to human decency will have served as prototypes for the methods and procedures that will be practiced upon those who are swept-up in the purges and detainment mania following the declaration of martial law in the United States.
We push this knowledge away from us, fearing we will be paralyzed by its crushing implications. Worse, what is nearly impossible to admit is, most likely, the system crushed us long ago. Apropos, R. D. Laing averred that being able to adapt and function within an insane, authoritarian system renders one for all practical purposes insane -- only insane in a manner acceptable to a power mad ruling elite.
This is the knowledge we push down, every hour of everyday. Otherwise, we would be driven to admit outright that the system has crushed our individual hopes, aspirations and yearnings. We must, at all costs, keep these feelings concealed; otherwise, we might be compelled to contemplate what we have forsaken, what passions and truths we have traded away for the false sense of security that the corporate order offered us when we tacitly agreed to surrender what was most sacred, vital and alive within us. One psychological manifestation of this phenomenon is the incessant chanting of that mantra of the American corporate workforce: "I'm not my job. I'm not what I do all day long."
For a moment, meditate on the calamity implicit in such a sentiment. Because If we cannot locate and engage our true selves during our waking hours, then who the hell are we anyway? This is a profoundly troubling circumstance. Moreover, if we've condemned our daylight selves to a void of non-being, what then remains of us?
We experience this dislocation of the life force as a sense of nebulous dread. Everything, these days, the architecture and accouterment of our lives seems so fragile and unreal; it feels as if everything could just fly apart at any given moment. The world and our place in it seems so flimsy: an empire built of eggshells; it could all shatter in an instant.
Living on credit, the house of cards of the real estate market, jobs evaporating, most of us languishing only a couple of paychecks away from ruin: The empire is coming undone. As it is, it seems the nation is only being held together with hydrogenated fat, wheat gluten, over-extended credit and particleboard. Ergo, there is one law the lawless Bush administration and their keepers from the plundering class cannot flout: the second law of thermodynamics. They won't be able to claim executive privilege to avoid the consequences of negative entropy.
In a similar vein, we, the underlings of empire, stand helpless before the prevailing madness. Individual reason rarely acts as a countervailing force to stem a drowning tide of cultural cognitive dissonance. Because the more epic and all-compassing the mistake, the more epic and all-encompassing come the rationalizations, the scapegoating and the compulsion for do-overs. If the surge isn't working as fantasized, then we'll double-dog surge you and then bomb Iran. If police state tactics fail to alleviate a sense of anxiety, then we must construct more detainment camps, more maximum security prisons, enact more federal death penalty statutes. "Bring back the electric chair; being put to sleep, like stray pets, is too good for the traitors," the mob will rage. That's the solution, but (cognitive dissonance being what it is) we need to go bigger -- we need an electric sofa -- yet, bigger still -- an electric dining room set! "Aahh . . . the smell of deep-fried dissidents in the morning."
And over the smoking corpses, let us pray. We need to pray for . . . what? . . . more prayer. These prayers would work, the homicidally faithful will insist, if every single doubter was induced to drop to their knees and pray. Hence, we need prayer in the public schools. We need prayer on public transportation. We need prayer in public restrooms!
Animus, ignorance, and magical thinking are a tragic mix and, I'm afraid, that vintage of mind is the hideous wine of our times. The social criteria that gives rise to fascism is in place in the U.S. and those in positions of power have a strong interest in seeing things remain that way. All we can do is what folks (a minority) have always done . . . exile or resistance.
In my opinion, both are honorable. The other options are varying degrees of "little Eichmann[ism]" -- Ward Churchill's much scorned, career purge-inducing -- but nevertheless accurate phrase. If one does the "soul work," to appropriate archetypal psychologist James Hillman's term, it is still possible to resist complicity. Training yourself to avoid lying for provisional gain is a time honored means of preventing alliances with exploitive assholes. They will avoid you, fire you, curse your name from the darkness of their inner abyss, but this will solve the problem of dependance on them and you'll be forced to live by other means. Generally, one is more adaptable than one believes.
Keep yourself as healthy and as sane as possible: we're going to need you around after the inevitable collapse of the present system. Also, beware of those reductionist demons of the mind who diminish the soul-making possibilities of "mere" words. The acts of writing and reading are seen as passive; to crackpot realists, these activities seem useless, unproductive -- the feckless indulgences of a class of the thin-wristed effete.
Accordingly, Americans have all but ceased reading. Worse, they displace their feelings of self-loathing borne of their own corporately induced passivity upon writers and thinkers. If the tenets of democratic discourse are to survive, it is imperative that writers and thinkers begin to engage in a passionate defense of themselves against the kvetching armies of crackpot realists that have encircled and laid siege to our collective hearts and minds.
But don't expect to be lauded with praise for the effort. It's doubtful our adversaries will be moved by our entreaties: There cannot be a rapprochement with reality for those who have never had a relationship with it in the first place. Yet verbal imagery and depth-inducing insights are the DNA of compassionate engagement. It is not a coincidence that George W. Bush is an inarticulate oaf. Conversely, there are many things in this world that require being touched by words, for there are occasions when words alone can suffice to take us deep and lift us up and serve to ameliorate our alienation.
It is in this spirit that I offer the above words to you. I'm traveling light; they're all I'm carrying with me, at this late hour, in these dark and dangerous times


Fingerprints to speed up lunch lines
KAREN MAESHIROLancaster Daily NewsSunday July 29, 2007
LANCASTER - Using fingerprints, voice tones and eye-movement patterns has long been the stuff of spy movies, but the use of biometrics is now coming to the Lancaster School District.
The district plans this fall to use a fingerprint scanner at El Dorado School to help speed up the lunch line. Officials say it backs up when youths enter their ID numbers on a keypad to buy lunch.
"With kindergartners and first-graders, even students who go away for summer or for break, there are issues of remembering their number," said Connie Conrad, director of child nutrition. "It's a lot easier not to have a crying child, trying to get their name from them."
While school administrators rave about being able to expedite the lunch line and make operations more efficient, the system worries officials at the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Anytime we collect biometric data, it creates a huge danger that data can end up misplaced or someone else can get a hold of it," said Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU attorney. "It's a really bad idea."
But Lancaster officials, representatives from the firm supplying the device, and a Santa Barbara school district already using it say those fears are unwarranted.
The device takes an image of the fingerprint and converts 15 points from the print to an encrypted code used to identify the student. The print is then discarded and can't be reproduced if someone were to hack into the system.
"Our system doesn't store a copy of the child's fingerprint. It creates a proprietary identity template, which can't be turned into a fingerprint or used outside of the system," said Kevin Creel with M2SYS, the Atlanta firm that developed the device. "There is absolutely no privacy risk to parents or kids."
"The fear is we are fingerprinting people. We are not doing that at all," said Bill Schaaff, Lancaster's child nutrition computer systems specialist. For those parents who are still concerned, Lancaster will make the program voluntary and allow students to continue to use the PIN system if they want to.
The 1,200-student Hope School District in Santa Barbara piloted the program last fall and has been using it at all three of its campuses since December.
Some parents expressed concern over the fingerprinting and not wanting their children's meals tracked. They also raised the issue of sanitation, said Julie Wood, Hope's business manager.
About 10 to 12 parents opted out of the program, Wood said.
Wood said her district gave a demonstration to ACLU officials, who said they were OK with it as long the district made it voluntary and the students' codes were erased from the system once they graduated.

When Will It Stop? Never, Unless We Start saying Something

US/E.U. plan to database airline passengers' personal information raises deep privacy concerns
Nick LangewisRaw Story Monday July 30, 2007
While Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calls it "an essential security measure," worries arise about a looming privacy threat in the new agreement between the United States and the European Union, effective August 1, 2007, that allows the United States to keep extensive profiles of inbound airline passengers.
In addition to data such as name, address, flight itineraries, and credit card information, the United States will now database more intimate details about passengers as provided by airlines, such as race, political opinions, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation.
Personal data received, even on people not under suspicion, is to be kept on file for fifteen years and only used "when lives are at risk," such as during a terror investigation.
"We're going to be able to connect the dots more quickly," says Russell Knocke of the US Department of Homeland Security, "and we're going to be able to provide our front line personnel with a powerful tool that really can help to save lives."
Jim Dempsey of the Center of Democracy and Technology worries about how the information will be used, especially in cases of abuse and false accusations. "This is part of a broader trend of the government building databases on the ordinary, lawful activities of ordinary, law-abiding people," laments Dempsey.
Passengers will have the right to see the information, and there will be avenues to correct anything that needs to be, "in hopefully just a few months," says CNN's Kathleen Koch.

What If You Just Want To Be Left Alone

Administration looks to push through surveillance changes
CNNMonday July 30, 2007
The Bush administration is looking to speed through a “significantly narrowed” group of changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act before Congress leaves Washington for its August recess.
One of them would ensure U.S. authorities could intercept on communications between suspected terrorists overseas without a warrant when those communications — due to modern technology — may travel through a switch in the United States.
According to a letter obtained by CNN, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell informed House and Senate leaders Friday that the administration is willing to temporarily shelve the broader FISA reform plan it’s been advocating for months in order to immediately push through a smaller package of changes that would “close the critical gaps in our intelligence capability in the short-term.”
The letter describes an “urgent” need for the intelligence community to provide warnings.
Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told CNN this month that the United States has seen increased activity by al Qaeda and knows al Qaeda wants to launch an attack on the United States. He also noted that the group has launched attacks in various countries during the summer months. But intelligence officials have also told CNN there is no evidence suggesting a specific threat, and none suggesting the group is more likely to strike in the summer than at any other time.
McConnell wrote in his letter, “Although my strong preference is the immediate adoption of the proposal I transmitted to Congress in April, in light of the urgency of the situation, I offer the attached significantly narrowed proposal focused on the current urgent need of the Intelligence Community to provide warning.”
It was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Ol'Vlad At It Again

Textbooks rewrite history to fit Putin’s vision
Tony Halpin in Moscow
As Russia flexes its foreign policy muscles against the West and President Putin enjoys record approval ratings, the Kremlin is turning its attention to schools to instil a new sense of nationalism in children.
Two new manuals for teachers have been accused of glossing over the horrors of the Soviet Union and of including propaganda to promote Mr Putin’s vision of a strong state.
One, for social studies teachers, presents as fact Mr Putin’s view that the Soviet collapse was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”. It describes the United States as bent on creating a global empire and determined to isolate Russia from its neighbours.
Many of those behind the second book, a history of Russia from 1945 to 2006, have close links to the Kremlin. Its final chapter is titled Sovereign Democracy, a term coined by a key Kremlin aide, Vladislav Surkov, as an ideological justification for Mr Putin’s authoritarian rule.
The chapter quotes Mr Surkov repeatedly and praises Mr Putin as the man responsible for “practically every significant deed” in Russia since 2000, when he became President.
Mr Putin’s most controversial actions are shown in an approving light, including the destruction of the Yukos oil company and the imprisonment of its chairman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The book describes this as an “unambiguous message” to business to “obey the law, pay your taxes and don’t try to put yourselves above the Government”, adding: “They got the message.”
Mr Putin’s support for Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine’s rigged presidential election of 2004 is also defended. Mass protests in the Orange revolution eventually brought his pro-Western rival, Viktor Yushchenko, to power, but the manual states: “Yanukovych was the only candidate capable of truly resisting Yushchenko. So Russia’s choice was clear.”
The book describes Josef Stalin as “the most successful Soviet leader ever” and dismisses the prison labour camps and mass purges as a necessary part of his drive to make the country great. The manuals are intended to serve as the basis for developing new textbooks in schools next year, though Education Ministry officials insisted that they would not be compulsory.
Mr Putin gave them his seal of approval at a conference he hosted for teachers at his presidential dacha last month. He described Stalin’s Great Purge of 1937, in which 1.5 million people were imprisoned and 700,000 killed, as terrible “but in other countries even worse things happened”. Discounting the Soviet Union’s long history of oppression, he said: “We had no other black pages, such as Nazism, for instance.”
Leonid Polyakov, editor of the social studies manual, told Mr Putin that Russia was “disarmed ideologically” after the Soviet collapse, leaving other countries to judge whether it was a democracy. He said: “We are developing a national ideology that represents the vision of ourselves as a nation, as Russians, a vision of our own identity. Teachers will then be able to incorporate this national ideology, this vision, into their practical work in a normal way and use it to develop a civic and patriotic position.”
Pavel Danilin, who wrote the chapter on Sovereign Democracy, told The Times that it explained the “core transformation” of Russia under Mr Putin. “We understand that the only guarantee for our democracy is our sovereignty, our strong state, our strong army, our strong economy and our strong nation,” he said. “It is not an ideology. It is just common sense. And my intention was to explain that common sense to teachers.”
Mr Danilin, 30, is a projects manager at the Effective Policy Foundation, a think-tank with close links to the Kremlin. He was more blunt about his intentions on his web blog in response to criticism from teachers that much of the book was simply Kremlin propaganda. “You will teach children in line with the books you are given and in the way Russia needs,” he wrote, adding that schools had to “clear the filth and if it doesn’t work, then clear it by force”.
Alexander Filippov, who edited the history manual, is deputy head of another research institute linked to the Kremlin. He told The Times that the book was a response to the poor quality of existing textbooks and that “sovereign democracy is not proposed as the national ideology for schools”.

Ted Stevens Posterboy for Term-Limits

Why do I post this? Because Ted Stevens (who co-writes legislation with Ted Kennedy) has been on the Hill way too long and needs to step down. He's high on influence, corruption, pork-spending and his own bullshit. Ted, just get the fuck up and go the fuck away.
FBI, IRS Search Home of Sen. Ted Stevens

Jul 30 06:57 PM US/Eastern
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service on Monday searched the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, an official said.
Investigators arrived at the Republican senator's home in Girdwood shortly before 2:30 p.m. Alaska time, said Dave Heller, FBI assistant special agent.
Heller said he could not comment on the nature of the investigation.
The Justice Department has been looking into the seven-term senator's relationship with a wealthy contractor as part of a public corruption investigation.

Me Thinks The VP Doth Protest Too Much............

Now Cheney chimes in: Ain't no superhighwaysVP latest to make official denial, some call it 'gaming semantics'
Posted: July 29, 20075:00 p.m. Eastern
By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com-->© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Vice President Cheney
Despite evidence to the contrary, Vice President Dick Cheney says there is no "secret plan" to create a continent-crossing superhighway to help facilitate a merger of the United States, Mexico and Canada.
"The administration is not engaged in a secret plan to create a 'NAFTA super highway,'" asserts Cheney in a recent letter to a constituent, according to a copy of the message obtained by WND.
The vice president's letter quotes an Aug. 21 statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation that, "The concept of a super highway has been around since the early 1990s, usually in the form of a claim that the U.S. Department of Transportation is going to designate such a highway."
DOT then refutes the claim, stating, "The Department of Transportation has never had the statutory authority to designate a NAFTA super highway and has never sought such authority."
The DOT statement then retracts the absolute nature of that statement, qualifying that, "The Department of Transportation will continue to cooperate with the State transportation departments in the I-35 corridor as they upgrade this vital interstate highway to meet 21st century needs. However, these efforts are the routine activities of a Department that cooperates with all the state transportation departments to improve the Nation's intermodal transportation network."
(Story continues below)
The DOT statement cited by the vice president seems to model the denial recently fashioned by the North America's SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc., or NASCO, on its website.
There NASCO states, "There a no plans to build a new NAFTA Superhighway – it exists today as I-35."
The coalition continues to distinguish its support for a North American "SuperCorridor" from a "NAFTA Superhighway," asserting that a "SuperCorridor is not 'Super-sized." The website then claims NASCO uses the term "SuperCorridor" to demonstrate "we are more than just a highway coalition."
In a July 21, 2006, internal e-mail obtained by WND under a Missouri Sunshine Law request, Tiffany Melvin, executive director of NASCO, cautions "NASCO friends and members" that, "We have to stay away from 'SuperCorridor' because it is a very bad, hot button right now."
As WND previously reported, Jeffrey Shane, undersecretary of transportation for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation got into a spirited exchange in January with congressmen after he asserted to a House subcommittee that NAFTA Superhighways were an "urban legend."
In response to questioning by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Shane asserted he was "not familiar with any plan at all, related to NAFTA or cross-border traffic."
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., then questioned aloud whether Shane was just "gaming semantics" when responding to Poe's question.
In June 2006, when first writing about NASCO, WND displayed the original homepage of NASCO, which used to open with a map highlighting the I-35 corridor from Mexico to Canada, arguing the trade group and its members were actively promoting a NAFTA superhighway.
NASCO's original map highlighted the I-35 corridor from Mexico to Canada
In what appears to be the third major revamping of the NASCO website since WND first began writing articles about NASCO, the Dallas-based trade group carefully removes identifying NASCO with the words behind the acronym, "North America's SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc.," which the original NASCO website once proudly proclaimed.
The current NASCO homepage displays a photo montage of intermodal highway scenes, presumably taken along I-35, but without any map displaying a continental I-35 super corridor linking Mexico and Canada.
NASCO currently relegates the continental I-35 map to an internal webpage that describes the North American Inland Ports Network as a "working group" within NASCO that supports inland member cities who have designated themselves as "inland ports," seeking to warehouse container traffic originating in Mexican ports on the Pacific such as Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas.
The beige and blue continental I-35 map now positioned on an internal page of the NASCO website was originally used as the second NASCO website, in make-over of the original NASCO blue and yellow continental I-35 map that made the continental nature of the I-35 appear graphically more pronounced.
WND has also previously reported that in a speech to NASCO on April 30, 2004, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta referred to Interstate Highways 35, 29 and 94 – the core highways supported by NASCO as a prime "North American Super Corridor" – Mineta commented to NASCO that the trade group "recognized that the success of the NAFTA relationship depends on mobility – on the movement of people, of products, and of capital across borders."
WND has also reported Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a GOP presidential candidate, introduced an amendment to H.R. 3074, the Transportation Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008, prohibiting the use of federal funds for participating in working groups under the Security and Prosperity Partnership, including the creation of NAFTA Superhighways.
On July 24, Hunter's amendment passed 362 to 63, with strong bipartisan support. Later, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3074 by a margin of 268-153. The bill has been sent to the Senate with Hunter's amendment included.
According to Freedom of Information Request documents obtained by WND, Jeffrey Shane has been appointed by the Bush administration to be the U.S. lead bureaucrat on the North American Transportation Working Group under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.
On July 23, 1997, the NAFTA Superhighway Coalition was formed to promote continental highway development in association with the Ambassador Bridge.

Reas And Be Aware

What Your Cell Phone Knows
Cell phones today are much more sophisticated than those manufactured only a few years ago. Using them to make telephone calls is only the beginning. You can also use them to send and receive e-mail, browse the Internet, take photos, etc.
All these functions leave a trail that may be difficult to securely erase. What's more, the legal status of these records is, to put it mildly, uncertain. At the very least, these records carry less legal protection than the content of cellular conversations themselves. It's not uncommon for police to seize cell phones and retrieve email messages, photos, text messages, etc., all without a search warrant.
Ask yourself: What information in your cell phone's memory would you prefer not to be in the hands of police? Of a business competitor? Or, for that matter, of your spouse or partner?
If the answer is "plenty," then you need to take steps to securely delete information from your cell phone's internal memory. Should the information you need to do so isn't in your cell phone's operating manual, check out a free service from http://www.wirelessrecycling.com/ .
This website lets you choose the brand and model number of your cell phone, and then displays the exact commands you need to delete every piece of data from it.
When you replace your cell phone, repeat this process. Also, remove the phone's SIM card, if it has one. Your SIM card is uniquely tied to you, and if ends up in the wrong hands, you could be falsely tied to a crime committed by someone else.
Once you've deleted the data in your phone and removed the SIM card, double-check to make sure your address book, call logs, and other data stores really are empty. Then you can sell your old phone on eBay, or donate it to a charity, with confidence that any information on it can't come back to haunt you.

It's A Pipe Dream, But Worth Writing About

Why the Fed Should Cut Rates Now
Though I wasn't a fan of former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, I will say this for him: He did know when to open the monetary spigots amid a liquidity crisis.
Under Greenspan's tenure from 1987 to 2005, the Fed reacted immediately when liquidity starved the credit market and threatened the financial system.
Greenspan's biggest test was right after he became Fed boss in 1987 when stocks crashed 22% on October 19, 1987. The Fed immediately cut rates by 2 full points. And again, when the collapse of hedge fund Long Term Capital Management threatened global credit markets in the summer of 1998, Greenspan reacted swiftly, providing immediate credit to the financial system.
But Ben Bernanke is a different sort of Fed boss.
In 2007, the Federal Reserve is more concerned with inflation, a misplaced concern considering U.S. home prices are still crashing, suggesting incipient deflation is a concern.
With the ongoing turmoil affecting the credit markets, Bernanke should cut short-term interest rates now or at the Fed's next FOMC meeting. All high-risk segments of the corporate and mortgage-backed market are hemorrhaging. That's a clear warning that there's a credit bubble currently unwinding, threatening the financial system unless immediate liquidity is created to assist all parties and affected counter parties.
Also, the country's banks are coming undone, sliding to new 52-week lows last week as concerns mount that loan losses will increase as sub-prime defaults spread to the next tier of borrowers.
Once again, hedge funds around the world have begun to fail with several high-risk mortgage-backed hedge funds in Australia, England and the United States either near-collapse or teetering on the brink of failure this summer.
The spreads between safe Treasury bonds and other high-risk credits have now hit 52-week highs. That's yet another warning that there is a credit crisis underway. As spreads continue to widen, the scope of this liquidity crisis will spread, slowing economic growth and halting the boom in private equity financing, which depends on stable interest rates to finance debt-backed deals.
Inflation has never been a real concern for the Fed, despite its official utterances to the contrary. Since it's creation in 1913, the Federal Reserve has consistently debased the dollar's purchasing power. But it does score high points for printing money, especially amid liquidity crises.
And now is the time for the Fed to abandon its inflation rhetoric and create immediate liquidity to boost credit and mortgage markets.
C'mon, Ben, do what you boys do best...

Like This Is A Surprise

Big Oil Stunning Gains
Monday, July 30, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
Even though ExxonMobil's profits for the second quarter fell 1 percent from a year ago, the oil giant still posted a net income of $10.26 billion for the second quarter, the fourth largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company, according to The Associated Press.Not to be outdone, Shell made $7.6 billion in the second quarter, an increase of 20 percent this year, according to The Guardian. This means Shell made a little over $3 million per hour during the second quarter. Chevron's net income for the second quarter rose by 24 percent to $5.4 billion, up $1 billion from a year earlier, according to MarketWatch. The company benefited from a $680 million profit from selling its stake in Dynegy, a Houston energy company. Staff Reports - Free-Market News Network

What Is It This Time George?

Bush Wants Terrorism Law Updated

WASHINGTON — President Bush wants Congress to modernize a law that governs how intelligence agencies monitor the communications of suspected terrorists.
"This law is badly out of date," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, provides a legal foundation that allows information about terrorists' communications to be collected without violating civil liberties.
Democrats want to ensure that any changes do not give the executive branch unfettered surveillance powers.

Bush noted that terrorists now use disposable cell phones and the Internet to communicate, recruit operatives and plan attacks; such tools were not available when FISA passed nearly 30 years ago. He also cited a recently released intelligence estimate that concluded al-Qaida is using its growing strength in the Middle East to plot attacks on U.S. soil.
"Our intelligence community warns that under the current statute, we are missing a significant amount of foreign intelligence that we should be collecting to protect our country," Bush said. "Congress needs to act immediately to pass this bill, so that our national security professionals can close intelligence gaps and provide critical warning time for our country."
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said Bush was trying to exploit the threat from al-Qaida to push the bill. Feingold said the measure was an "egregious power grab that includes broad new powers that have nothing to do with bringing FISA up to date."
The 1978 law set up a court that meets in secret to review applications from the FBI, the National Security Agency and other agencies for warrants to wiretap or search the homes of people in the United States in terrorist or espionage cases.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to spy on calls between people in the U.S. and suspected terrorists abroad without FISA court warrants. The administration said it needed to act more quickly than the court could. It also said the president had inherent authority under the Constitution to order warrantless domestic spying.
After the program became public and was challenged in court, Bush put it under FISA court supervision this year.
The national intelligence director, in a letter Wednesday to the House intelligence committee, stressed the need to be able to collect intelligence about foreign terrorists overseas. Mike McConnell said intelligence agencies should be able to do that without requirements imposed by an "out of date" law.
"Simply put, in a significant number of cases, we are in the unfortunate position of having to obtain court orders to effectively collect foreign intelligence about foreign targets located overseas," he wrote the committee chairman, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.
Reyes said Saturday that the committee is intently focused on the issue.
"If changes to the law are required, we are prepared to do so," Reyes said. "We are actively working with the administration on any emergency requirements they may have. However, we want to avoid repeating the mistakes made by rushing the Patriot Act into law."
Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, contends the White House is asking for more power to conduct warrantless domestic and international surveillance.
"The administration claims the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act must be 'modernized.' Actually, it needs to be followed," she said. "The reality is, their proposal would gut FISA."
The ACLU said the legislation backed by the administration would give immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability for the telecommunication companies that participate in the NSA program. The ACLU urged lawmakers to find out the full extent of current intelligence gathering under FISA before making changes.
"The only thing more outrageous than the administration's call for even more unfettered power is a Congress that would consider giving it to them," Frederickson said.
The House Republican leader, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, said Democrats are delaying necessary changes.
"Rather than learning the lessons of September 11 _ that we need to break down the bureaucratic impediments to intelligence collection and analysis _ Democrats have stonewalled Republican attempts to modernize FISA and close the terrorist loophole," he said Saturday.

Your Money Is Worth Toilet Paper

Seek The Fiat $ Truth

Monday, July 30, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
More than one astute wordsmith has concluded that most of the people can be fooled most of the time. Ironically, as the Internet offers more information and, often greater transparency as well, people seem even less willing to sort out the truth then before.Jordan Roy-Bryne writing in financialsense.com's Financial Sense University:"By constantly increasing the credit and money supply, policy makers can postpone the natural recession but at a long-term expense. Recession is healthy and necessary as it bolsters the entire system by cutting the weak and the fat while allowing only the strong and efficient to survive. The economy is then stronger in the subsequent expansion. Postponing recession allows for imbalances to grow to unhealthy and unnatural levels. Moreover, over time it threatens the sustainability of the system."In his Hat Trick Letter, Jim Willie writes:"The strength of many factors is growing, not lessening, sure to amplify the power of damaging forces. Talk of a housing recovery, sector stability, lack of contagion, and assured containment will all be replaced by questions of when the destructive process will end, how low will housing prices go, how deep the bond losses will be, and what arenas might be spared. This is a systemic contagion of absolute proportions, in the great housing & bond bust. One could have written this script years ago, since the bust is always inevitable. Staff Reports - Free-Market News Network

Fiat Here, Fiat There

Money Metal Explosion?

Monday, July 30, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
Jordan Roy-Bryne writing in financialsense.com's Financial Sense University:"For the first time in world history, every country is operating with a fiat currency. This is incredibly dangerous as there is little protection against the ravaging of savings and earnings by governments and central banks. Fundamentally, the various currencies are all the same. The Dollar, Yen, Euro, and Yuan are all pieces of paper that derive their value from public acceptance and government enforcement. Governments and central banks are playing a tricky game, a confidence game with the public. More dangerous, is that they are tempting the time-tested laws of economics. The price of gold, silver and all commodities will explode in all currencies if and when the market decides there is too much money in the global financial system."Joe Nicholson demonstrates in a post on financialsense.com that:"In the Q&A portion of his presentation Bernanke was explicitly asked about the relationship between money supply and inflation, and his answer was incomplete, if not outright evasive. What he concealed behind the smokescreen of academic terms was that the lag time between a massive injection of new money and a rise in prices throughout the economy can be extended and perpetuated, and more clandestine inflation perpetrated, if people believe hard enough that inflation pressures in food and energy are temporary and insignificant. "Couched in an appeal for better information in how to steer public consciousness towards that end, the speech was another shameless attempt to understate inflation. But this always means two things: one, there is and always will be inflation, and two, it should just be ignored by the public. The bottom line is that Bernanke's speech was exactly the sort of rhetoric you'd expect from a man prepared to undertake a massive devaluation to try and stave off a credit crisis." Staff Reports - Free-Market News Network

On The Edge

"US on Its Last Lifeline"?

Monday, July 30, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
Jordan Roy-Bryne writing in financialsense.com’s Financial Sense University states:"Quite simply, there is not much more room for the Fed to postpone recession without pushing this country into an unavoidable hyperinflation. On the other hand, if the Fed were to contract the supply of money and credit like they did in 1929, it would bring about the worst deflation in modern economic history. Total credit market debt as a percentage of GDP now exceeds that of 1929. In 1929, this country was self sufficient in energy, manufacturing and capital.Today we import most of our energy, inflation has destroyed the manufacturing sector and finally, we are history’s greatest debtor. "Unfortunately, the majority of the American populace is not aware of the situation. This is because since the Great Depression, Keynesian economics has completely dominated the American educational system. Most citizens, politicians and Wall Street professionals would tell you and believe that we have a free market economy. They have been educated to believe that government involvement and central bank involvement is part of a free market economy. In the same vein, Americans who adhere to the free market Austrian economic principles that the founding fathers espoused, admit they didn't learn these laissez-faire principles in school. At this juncture, our monetary policy and entire monetary system is on its last lifeline..."How much longer can the fiction be maintained so as to keep the public in denial?Jim Willie writes about the ever-spreading rings of risk from the sub prime mortgage fallout, in his Hat Trick Letter:"The systemic risk is slowly being recognized. Denials are increasing at a great pace, regarding 'contagion' and 'containment' and 'spillover' and 'recession' and more. Historically, such denials are a surefire indication of their realistic threats and current felt risks, sure to occur." Staff Reports - Free-Market News Network

Things Heat Up In Canada

Global Market Brief: Canada’s Arctic Potential
Following up on part of a major campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on July 9 announced formal plans to construct up to eight Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships -- armed icebreakers -- and establish a deepwater port from which they will operate in the Far North. His speech was rife with words such as "sovereignty" and "national identity," and emphasized Canada's territorial claims in the Arctic. Not only are higher energy prices making more extreme forms of oil and natural gas extraction in the Arctic more attractive, but the receding summer ice pack also is opening up a world of possibilities -- literally.
Global warming has begun changing the geography of the Canadian North. And given Ottawa's current status in terms of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the slew of Canadian islands extending far into the Arctic, there is little doubt that Canada will reap substantial benefits from the increasing accessibility of the North. Under UNCLOS, countries have full rights to the minerals within their exclusive economic zones of 200 nautical miles. Special considerations for long continental shelves can extend those rights even farther. In the Arctic, these shelves extend for hundreds of miles, which means that, with the exception of a small disputed area on the U.S. border, the vast bulk of the resources under the Arctic in the Western Hemisphere belong to Canada.

Long-disputed claims in the Arctic are beginning to take on new relevance. The dispute between Denmark and Canada over Hans Island -- a hunk of rocks smaller than New York's Central Park -- began to heat up (in a Canadian/Danish kind of way -- flags were planted and pastry imports were threatened) in 2004, and the U.S.-Canadian spat over a sliver of a wedge of floor in the Beaufort Sea has continued. Though the area of the latter is small by Alaskan standards, it could hold huge oil and natural gas deposits.
But the renewed interest in the Arctic runs deeper than revived territorial disputes. As the ice pack slowly recedes northward, more of Canada's North -- and beyond -- becomes accessible, altering how energy is not only developed, but also delivered to market.
The $7 billion, 750-mile-long Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project, which would ship natural gas southward from the Far North, has already run into a four-year delay, and costs have more than doubled. But if the northern coasts of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories become accessible by water year-round for big liquefied natural gas ships, the pipeline (and its royalties to governments and First Nations) will become completely unnecessary.
Furthermore, as the ice pack continues to recede each year, it opens up more and more potential deposits to year-round offshore drilling without the need for massively costly hardened ice-proof rigs like those in the water off Sakhalin Island.
Given the resources already being exploited at the extreme edge of the ice pack -- the experience of Prudhoe Bay and the promise of Sakhalin -- one can only guess what might lie farther north. But rest assured, there are companies that will find out. And the stage will be set for even more hotly contested battles over the ownership of the North Pole itself.
Oil and natural gas promise huge payoffs (and despite some current small-scale disputes and the potential for larger ones, Canada will no doubt see its share of the wealth), but a more significant shift is possible: a true opening of the fabled Northwest Passage that could greatly change the face of business. But resource rights along the seafloor and territorial waters on the surface of the sea are governed differently under UNCLOS -- though, in Canada's case, they will be equally contested. While Canada might push the argument that the potential shipping lane (should it open) is within its territorial waters (using the straight baseline method outlined in UNCLOS, which in this case gives the most favorable outcome for Canada), the United States and others will make strong cases that it is an international strait connecting the Pacific and Atlantic -- the trump card in the treaty that would qualify the strait as international waters.
Whatever the ultimate legal status of the Northwest Passage, Canada will have effective control either way. Even before Ottawa's eventual acquisition of as many as eight armed icebreakers -- which will be far and away the largest fleet of such ships in the world -- it will be Canadian icebreakers patrolling the waters of the North. And a more direct route over the North Pole will only open up if the ice of the Arctic Ocean gets close to melting completely.
This is all, of course, 20 years down the road. Today, there are only the first indications -- a receding ice pack, rising energy prices, and massive amounts of global maritime shipping. A small window each summer for crude carriers and container ships to make one headlong rush through the Arctic Ocean will hardly be worth the risk, much less worth altering the patterns of global shipping.
But if these trends continue unabated, exploration will certainly expand in the North. Spearheaded in all likelihood by energy interests, explorers will begin to chart and mark the most significant channels, expanding the navigability of the passage. If a reasonable assurance of safety can be made and shipping companies push hard enough, insurers could begin to take their bets. If those early bets pay off, the 21st century will experience one of those true rarities of history: a meaningful shift in global geography.
This will come at a cost -- any meaningful channel will mature amid treaties and compromises. Bad weather, poor visibility for much of the year, and ice flow will all inject a certain amount of risk into the equation. But the prospect of cutting as much as 5,000 miles from transoceanic crossings from Europe to the U.S. West Coast is compelling and would fundamentally shift the center of balance of global shipping. The result -- pulling massive amounts of shipping traffic from Panama (and, to a lesser extent, the Suez Canal) -- could free the maritime world from the minor tyranny of the beam and draft restrictions, respectively, of Panamax and Suezmax shipbuilding standards. (Of course, exploration could reveal a new maritime design constraint -- a Canadamax tyranny. If anything, higher standards are needed for shipping hulls that are more likely to encounter ice.)
All that can be certain for now is a wealth of possibility -- and that the Canadian Coast Guard might soon have something to guard.

Gold Still Down

Gold continued to sell off in lock step with the broader securities markets over the weekend. The move was puzzling to many attendees and speakers at our event last week in Vancouver.
“I don’t know a cheaper place to put your money right now,” Doug Casey commented. “I’m a very eclectic investor… I look all over the world, in every market, and I’ll buy anything if the price is right. Gold is the best bargain in the world right now.
“It’s not just going to go through the roof, it’s going to the moon. There’s going to be a gold buying panic in the next few years that will just knock your socks off. The bull market for gold has not really even gotten started yet.”

Arms Buildup In The Middle East

This morning, according to The Jerusalem Post, the Israeli government “is looking into reports that Russia plans to sell 250 advanced long-range Sukhoi-30 fighter jets to Iran in an unprecedented billion-dollar deal.
The Sukhoi-30 fighter… this one belongs to India
“In addition to the fighter jets,” the Post continues, “Tehran also plans to purchase a number of aerial fuel tankers that are compatible with the Sukhoi and capable of extending its range by thousands of kilometers. Defense officials said the Sukhoi sale would grant Iran long-range offensive capabilities.”
Russia also recently gave Iran some antiaircraft systems to protect Tehran's nuclear installations. At the time, the Russians said they reserve the right to sell Iran weapons, such as the anti-aircraft system, that are of a defensive nature.
Didn’t we report recently in The Sound Of Cannons that Chavez was helping the Iranians build a natural gas facility? Seems like Putin’s comment last month that we’re returning to the Cold War may not be too far off…
Our word of warning: Watch your wallet.

Maybe A New Indicator!

U.S. securities firms now employ a record number of full-time employees. Firms added 10,000 employees in June, bringing the grand total to at least 848,300 souls hitching their wagon to this bubble of bubbles.
The investment industry cut 100,000 employees in the three years following the dot.com bust. But between 2005-2007, they’ve all been hired back and then some. We expect the Street will be littered with far more bodies after the subprime bust -- and make the melodrama even more shrill than in 2001.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I Still Don't Understand Why We Aren't There Already

Building a Better Tomorrow

by Stephanie Grimmett Editor, Taipan
I'm reading all of the reports on Africa I can get my hands on because the continent may finally be awakening to its economic manifest destiny.
Last month, the World Economic Forum in Africa called for wealthy nations to look past the AIDS epidemic. According to leaders from Senegal and South Africa, all of the funding for AIDS prevention and treatment in the continent is great, but Africa is in need of more than just health programs.
Ignoring Bono’s constant pleas for help in the continent's fight against disease, Africa’s leaders said the best way to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis is to build up its economy and give it the tools to fight those illnesses for itself. Africa wants money for infrastructure and education, first and foremost.
Locals, as opposed to the exploitive European companies that dominated the continent for more than a century, are beginning to take control of their native natural resources. And the effect of that control is rippling through the economy. Africa posted a 5.7% economic growth rate for 2006, and it’s heading for a more than 6% growth rate in 2007.
That's the highest rate in more than 30 years. And it's partly because of the continent's new relationship with America's favorite outsourcer: China.
China is establishing Africa as its own personal cache for natural resources. Chinese companies are investing heavily in the continent and getting their investment back in trade.
Late last year, China agreed to pour a total of $1.9 billion into contracts with African countries that will help build new roads and lay phone lines. Chinese President Hu Jintao promised to double his country’s aid to Africa in the next three years. And China is looking to collect oil and iron ore, among other resources, in return for its investment.
The West fueled China’s economic awakening. And now China is turning around and doing the same for Africa. After all, it’s only fair.

Without Free-0Market Reforms, They're Going To Be The Chinese's Bitches

Africa needs to 'control its own destiny'
The continued control of African countries by their former colonial masters was one of the main contributors to crises on the continent, President Thabo Mbeki said on Friday.Addressing parliamentarians from African countries at the 38th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting in parliament, Mbeki said there was an urgent need for Africans to take full control of their own destiny."..After the wave of independence, manly in the 1960s, a combination of factors that brought about numerous crises in our countries ensured that our continent was placed under de facto trusteeship, with programmes and policies for Africa's development drawn-up by people who were not only not African, but were, in many instances, those who had been our colonial masters."To defeat this neo-colonial stranglehold, we have developed our own path of development, as reflected in the Constitutive Act authorising the establishment of the African Union, and the AU development and reconstruction programme, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)," he said.The continent's members of parliament, Mbeki said, had an important role to play in ensuring the implementation of these programmes."This must surely mean that your oversight function as parliamentarians includes oversight over the implementation of the Constitutive Act," he said.He hailed the setting up of the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund as one of the most important milestones in the continent's march to independence."Of critical and historic importance is the fact that the entirety of the capital of the fund, currently amounting to $625-million, originates exclusively from within our continent."We are confident that within the next 12 months the capital base of the ...fund will reach $1-billion," he said. - Sapa

Taiwan, Still Plucky

It speaks TRUCKLOADS that Taiwan was rejected from entering the UN. It says China is more powerful than ever, and that the US's worldwide influence is waning. Read between the lines people, China is going to kick everyone's ass.
Official backs Taiwan referendum
Staff and agencies27 July, 2007
By PETER ENAV, Associated Press Writer 10 minutes ago
TAIPEI, Taiwan - Brushing off threats from rival China, Taiwan‘s foreign minister said Friday a planned referendum on membership in the United Nations will go ahead because it reflects the "overwhelming sentiment" of the island‘s people.
Tension over the referendum has pushed relations between the longtime antagonists to their lowest level in more than a year, and raised concerns in Washington that the fragile status quo in the western Pacific — the enduring basis of American policy in the region — is at serious risk.
"It is the overwhelming sentiment of Taiwanese people to request their nation to become a U.N. member," he said.
The self-governing island was expelled from the U.N. in 1971 after its seat — which it held under the name Republic of China — was transferred to the Beijing-based government of the People‘s Republic of China.
The sides split amid civil war in 1949, and China has repeatedly threatened to attack if Taiwan ever moves to formalize the de facto independence that its exercises through issuing its own currency, governing its own territory, and maintaining its own armed forces.
"It is far from our intention to provoke the Chinese," he said. "We want peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait more than anyone else in the world."
"We should not stop doing anything because of rejection from the Chinese," he said.
The referendum idea was initially raised by Chen several months ago as campaigning for Taiwan‘s legislative and presidential elections — set for the first quarter of 2008 — began to heat up.
In his comments to the AP, Huang acknowledged that even if the referendum passed, it would have little practical effect.
Some Taiwanese analysts believe that a major reason for holding the referendum in tandem with either the legislative or presidential elections is Chen‘s desire to motivate the base of his pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party as the polls approach.
In contrast to the DPP, the main opposition Nationalists support eventual unification with China, and are fighting hard against DPP attempts to label them a Chinese rather than a Taiwanese political party.