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Archive for April, 2009

None.  It’s actually probably gained a bit.  Darn it.  Here’s what IBD had to say:

Al Gore’s apocalyptic full-length cartoon, “The Day After Tomorrow,” opened with an Antarctic ice shelf melting away. But a report by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research prepared for the recent meeting of the Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington notes the South Pole has in fact shown “significant cooling in recent decades.”

Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison says sea ice losses in West Antarctica over the past 30 years have been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of East Antarctica. “Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally,” Allison says.

Can people just be honest here?

In addition to the inconvenient fact that the North Pole only has about 3% of the earth’s ice, enviro wackos only pay attention to that part of Antarctica that is melting, but not the part where ice is growing and thickening.  Are they stupid, or do they think we are?

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The “uptick rule” was put in place to regulate the in 1937.  It was removed in 2007.  I still think that the Federal Reserve is the biggest problem we have on Wall Street, but re-establishment of the uptick rule could probably solve a lot of the financial problems that we’ve been having lately. MarketWatch.com says:

The uptick rule, which was removed in 2007 after 70 years, allowed short sales only if the preceding sale boosted a company’s stock price by at least a penny. The uptick rule was designed to make sure short sellers couldn’t dominate trading in a stock to drive its price lower.
Short sales allow investors to bet that a share price will go down, by borrowing and selling shares of a company in hopes of buying back the shares at a lower price. The original owner then gets the shares back, and the short-seller pockets the difference in the price as profit.
Short-selling is controversial. Many companies say short sellers spread false rumors to drive prices lower, but short sellers say they provide the necessary counterweight to the boosterism of market bulls.
Some critics say the elimination of the uptick rule was a major factor in the bear market that has seen major stock averages fall 48% since peaking in October 2007, just three months after the rule was abolished. In October 2008, the SEC barred short sales of many financial corporations.

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The Death of the Dollar?

George Soros says the dollar’s days may be numbered.

Soros also said the U.S. dollar is under selling pressure and may eventually be replaced as a world reserve currency, possibly by the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic currency basket comprised of dollars, euros, yen and sterling.

“I think the dollar is now under question and I think the system will need to be reformed, so that the United States will be subject to the same discipline as is imposed on other countries,” said Soros, whose famous bet against the British pound earned his Quantum Fund $1 billion in 1992. “Being the main issuer of international currency, we have been exempt and we have abused that because we have effectively consumed 6.5 percent more than we have produced. That is now coming to an end.”

It sounds like China is getting sort of sick of holding all those dollars.

China recently proposed greater use of Special Drawing Rights, possibly as an eventual global reserve currency. “In the long run, having an international accounting unit rather than the dollar may, in fact, be to our advantage so we can’t splurge—you know, it felt very good for 25 years but now we are paying a very heavy price,” Soros said.

China is considering completely dumping the dollar.

Communities Begin to Issue Own Currencies

Have you ever heard of a “Detroit Cheer”?  How about a “North Carolina Plenty”?  A “Massachussetts Berkshare?”  These are some of the ersatz currencies that are cropping up around the country.

There are now around 30 U.S. cities and towns where people issue and use local money that is legal, and taxable, tender. Local money is based on the barter principle.

It’s a throwback to the Depression Era.

“We’re a wiped-out small town in America,” Lyle Estill, a participating Pittsboro [North Carolina] businessman, told USA Today. “This will strengthen the local economy. … The nice thing about the Plenty is that it can’t leave here.”

Gold Dumping

Why is the price of gold going down?  Because of the dumping practices of the International Monetary Fund.  While the IMF says that

April 2008: IMF Dumps 400 Tons of Gold.  April 2009: Talks with G20 to Dump More

April 2008: IMF Dumps 400 Tons of Gold. April 2009: Talks with G20 to Dump More

there have been no talks on selling more gold than the 400+ metric tons dumped a year ago, the G20 says there have been.   On the announcement that there may or may not have been more dumping talks, gold prices dropped 3%.

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Spain has been at the forefront of environmental awareness from a public standpoint.  What happens when government gets involved?  Jobs are destroyed.  Western Business Roundtable, referring to the spanish study, states

that every renewable job created by the Spanish government destroyed an average of 2.2 other jobs. Each “green” megawatt installed in Spain destroyed 5.39 jobs in non-energy sectors, the study found.

Even worse, ninety percent of such  jobs were only temporary.

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A collateralized debt obligation (CDO) is a high-sounding name for taking a bunch of low-rated mortgages or other investments from a pool and putting them together into a separate bundle and then giving it essentially a Triple-A rating.  In an effort to race each other to the top (more profits), but really ending up at the bottom (loss of investment rating integrity), Standard and Poors, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings aided and abetted the investment firms by declaring that their investments were sound when they really  weren’t. 

This story on PBS Now explains not only how it was done, but how some financiers with integrity refused to participate.

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Is G20 summit the most important thing since Yalta? Uneasiness all around the world. Some claim that if the G20 doesn’t innovate, very dangerous solutions will be brought forward by the dispossessed. They’re not listening. They want the G20 to get out of the way and stop stealing our money. G20 or Local Self Help? The IMF is run by Europeans, the World Bank by Americans. The conspiracy theorists are now seeming to be quite right with talk of a global currency and strengthening the IMF. How is that French and Communist Chinese are warning America NOT to go down the path of socialism? The Fed and SEC will likely be placed under the auspices of the IMF, which is putting US economy under global control. The sideshow is the size of stimulus packages. The real show is global control, but hardly anyone is paying attention. The John Birch Society has been talking about global monetary control for several years. Now it seems like it’s almost here. And they are so adept at using the word “crisis” to get us to that point.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan…

Why is Obama bringing in more troops? We can’t just kill a whole bunch of people and expect it to get any better; the government has to mature, and it’s not doing that. Rachel Maddow talked with Center for a New American Security fellow Andrew Exum about the bleak prospects.

Olbermann is Right: Bankers Have The Audacity

Olbermann: Time to get tough on bankers March 19: In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann expresses outrage at Wall Street over their continuing misuse of federal bailout money. Olbermann calls for the firing of bank executives and more stringent bank regulation. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/vp/29783656#29783656 They need to be fired. Except Olbermann might just be the head cheerleader on “this is not socialism!” Yes it is. You can’t blame this on capitalism, because they’re getting their favors from the government. Sidenote on the Olbermann segment linked to above: He has a great point that the problem with radio and tv in America today will not be solved by a return to the fairness doctrine, but by stopping the ability of radio, tv, and newspaper moguls from gaining monopoly or near-monopoly control over their “markets”. But then again, isn’t this a responsibility of government? The way I look at this, this additional failure of government ought to make us think again about turning more control over to a socialist regime.

Obama Against Habeas Corpus, Just Like Bush

DemocracyNow.org reports that Obama has been pressing against enemy combatants receiving habeas corpus, a stance that mirrors that of the Bush administration.

Martin Luther King

April 4, 1968 was the date of MLKs assassination. Exactly one year earlier, on April 4, 1967, King delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

Bush Admin Authorized Assassinations

John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s national security advisor, tried to whitewash the fact that Cheney and others ordered military members to execute non-combat assassinations in various countries.

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Obama’s Deficit

In an effort to increase the United States debt, Obama and congressional Democrats are using a tool that was intended for reducing it.

The House and Senate are preparing to pass President Barack Obama’s radical budget blueprint, with only minor modifications, by using (abusing would be more accurate) the budget “reconciliation” process. This process circumvents the Senate’s normal rules requiring 60 votes to prevent a filibuster. Reconciliation was created by Congress in the mid-1970s to enforce deficit reduction, the opposite of what the president and his party are aiming for.

Feith and the Geneva Convention

Much of the hullabaloo over torture and allegations that enemy combatants don’t deserve protection under the Geneva Conventions stems from a lie.  Douglas Feith says

In conclusion, I urged “[h]umane treatment for all detainees” and recommended that the president explain that Geneva “does not squarely address circumstances that we are confronting in this new global war against terrorism, but while we work through the legal questions, we are upholding the principle of universal applicability of the Convention.”

I briefed these arguments directly to the president at that Feb. 4 NSC meeting, and his decision on Geneva’s applicability to the war against the Taliban was consistent with them.

The allegation that I argued against Article 3 protection was invented by a British lawyer named Philippe Sands and published in an angry, wildly inaccurate book called “Torture Team.” Mr. Sands asserts that, in our interview, I admitted making the case against Article 3. He was eventually compelled to publish the interview transcript, however, and it shows that nothing I said supports his allegation, that he grossly misquoted me on a number of points, and that he never asked me a single question about Article 3.

Not “Too Big to Fail”.  Rather, “1,000 Blooming Flowers”

When a company fails, its assets don’t just go up in a puff of smoke (unless perhaps it’s a financial institution).  That’s why no company is too big to fail.  To wit

Carl Schramm doesn’t buy the idea that some businesses are “too big to fail.” That notion, says the president of the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, only creates obstacles for entrepreneurs. Instead, he sees the failure of big companies as the “moment when 1,000 flowers can bloom.”

The Smear of Congressman Eric Cantor

Obama bi-partisan?  Republicans not?  Sure. Let’s do everything we can to ensure that the Republicans don’t rebound to resurrect their part of old.

…the furious campaign — waged by every blog, pundit, union, 527, and even the White House — to kneecap Republicans who might help lead a makeover. Mr. Cantor is the top target.

This kicked off after the GOP’s unanimous vote against the stimulus, which Democrats saw as an opening to brand Mr. Cantor as the public face of partisan opposition to the “bipartisan” president. The Virginian has in fact publicly reached out to the White House, and has been deeply involved in producing alternatives to administration policies. But never let the facts get in the way of a good smear.

Noam Chomsky: “Why Does NATO Exist?”

Chomsky answers this question on DemocracyNow:

NATO is a US creature.  Gorbachev’s remarkable concession of letting unified Germany join an alliance hostile to Soviets.  The quid pro quo was that “NATO would not expand one inch to the east”.  One of Bill Clinton’s first acts was to break this promise, on the pretext of bringing former Warsaw Pact states into European Union (Austria, Sweden, etc. already did not belong to NATO).  Afghanistan has always been of geostrategic importance, especially because of its energy resources.  US-sponsored atrocities in East Timor (Dealey Massacre?) and Turkey (against Kurds) in late 90’s much worse than in Balkans.  Dennis Blair, one of Obama’s current national security advisors, was involved in encouraging Indonesian crackdown against East Timor. NATO is now just an intervention force. Once used to balance against Soviets, it is now to counteract the technological innovations of Middle Eastern countries.  Obama’s new troops will face two enemies: the Taliban and the opinion of 75% of Afghans.  Like Pashtuns in India whose territory was artificially divided by British. When Hamid Karzai began to ask Obama to stop killing Afghans and to set a timetable for withdrawal, he became looked upon as corrupt and persona-non-grata by the American press/Establishment.  There are now plans by the Establishment to replace him.  Obama is expanding the war because of our unrivaled military force and imperial mentality among both major US parties.  We are as the hammer seeing everything as a nail.  US (Obama) wants to run a major natural gas pipeline through Kandahar, Afghanistan, thus isolating/bypassing Iran and splitting East Asian “stans” from Russia.  John Kerry recently spoke of creating alliance with Israel and moderate (they do what we say) Arab states (such as Egypt) against Iran.  Afghans should make the decision of whether US and coalition troops move out, and we should abide by their decision.

Triple Canopy to Replace Blackwater in Iraq

The Obama administration is using Triple Canopy to protect US diplomats in both Iraq and Israel.  Jeremy Scahill states that the Obama administration is continuing many of the most sinister policies of the Bush Administration.  Triple Canopy lists Lincolnshire Illinois as its primary address.  Triple Canopy, DynCorp, and Blackwater are the three big mercenary groups.  Triple Canopy hired more third-country nationals, including bloodthirsty Salvadoran and Chilean military veterans.  Blackwater still is on US government payroll in Afghanistan and with the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Blackwater guys are jumping over to Triple Canopy.  Secretive Worldwide personal Protective Service started under the Clinton administration.  Government Accountability Office is concerned at the huge costs of hiring private mercenaries.

Obama is Clinton Redux

Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, reported last November on alternet.org that the Obama administration is dominated by Clinton retreads.  Additionally, Obama  is backpedaling on getting US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011.  Blackwater has changed its name to “Xe” (Xe is the symbol for the element Xenon, and comes from the Greek meaning “foreign or strange“), perhaps in the hope that no one will notice that they are still operating in Iraq.  The Obama administration likely hopes that no one will notice that it recently signed a contract to pay Xe–er–Blackwater to stay in Iraq even after they were dismissed as personae non grata by the Iraqi government.  Scahill wonders

With the U.S. economy in shambles and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and keep their homes, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton need to explain to U.S. taxpayers how they justify these mega-payments to a scandal-plagued mercenary company.

The Lies About AIG Bonuses

At least 11 of those receiving more than $1 million bonuses for AIG no longer work for AIG.  This kind of puts to shame the claim that the reason for providing the bonuses were for “employee retention”.  Obama surrounds himself with advisors who are too cosy with Wall Street, like Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner.  Instead of supporting the homeowners avoid foreclosure, we instead propped up mortgage lenders.  Banks sold subprime mortgages to the poor, knowing they would be bailed out.  Beleagured US taxpayers are in essence supporting filthy rich US tax dodgers.

“Debt-Encumbered Home Owners Don’t Go On Strike”

The latest economic crisis has been the greatest loss of value for African Americans in the history of the United States.  People are being made to pay with loss of their homes while the bankers are walking away richer than before.  David Harvey of City University of New York may be a Marxist, but I definitely agree with him more than I agree with Timothy Geithner and his financial cronies.  The capitalism of the past thirty years, that awards its high priests with a larger and larger piece of the pie, is a disgrace.   The Mexican bailout wasn’t a bailout of Mexico; it was, rather, a bailout of New York bankers.  The capitalists are now trying to save the pre-existing power structure.  Bankers want to get people in homes, loaded with heavy debt, because “debt-encumbered home owners don’t go on strike.”  They can’t afford to.  We now have essentially only four major banks in the U.S.

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