Andrew J. Coulson
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), “the Departments of Justice and Education have mandated a breathtakingly broad definition of sexual harassment that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser while ignoring the First Amendment.”
Here’s what FIRE is, well, fired up about:
The letter states that “sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as ‘any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature’ ” including “verbal conduct” (that is, speech). It then explicitly states that allegedly harassing expression need not even be offensive to an “objectively reasonable person of the same gender in the same situation”—if the listener takes offense to sexually related speech for any reason, no matter how irrationally or unreasonably, the speaker may be punished.
So now, in addition to being a sadly moribund institution of dubious value to most students, college will be even more Orwellian in its policing of language than it had already become. Thank heavens technology is making it increasingly dispensable. College is dead. Long live higher education.
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With Justice Breyer writing, a unanimous Supreme Court in Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles (opinion PDF, background SCOTUSBlog) has struck down as invalid a dodge used by some plaintiff’s lawyers to evade the provisions of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). As we wrote in October when Cato filed its amicus brief:
In relevant part, CAFA provides defendants with the right to move class actions to federal court where the claim for damages against them exceeds $5 million. But can clever lawyers keep these cases out of federal court by simply “stipulating” that potential damages are less than $5 million — and before the named plaintiff is even authorized to represent the alleged class? In this case, Greg Knowles is the named plaintiff in a putative insurance-recovery class action against Standard Fire Insurance in Arkansas state court. Before the court certified the class, Knowles tried to avoid that removal to federal court by stipulating that his class would not seek more than $5 million in damages at trial. Notably, the stipulation is worded in such a way that it will not apply if the class definition is later altered. … CAFA was enacted specifically to discourage attorneys from “forum shopping” (seeking friendlier courts) and attempting to keep cases out of federal court. Lawyers who game the system by agreeing to cap damages in an effort to keep cases in more favorable state courts violate the federal due process rights of absent would-be class members, thereby flouting CAFA.
In his opinion for the unanimous Court, Justice Breyer found that the named class representative lacked a right to limit absent class members’ claims in such a way. Individual litigants remain free to avoid federal jurisdiction through the use of damage stipulations, but that is a decision they are entitled to make only for themselves. That’s very much consistent with the principles Cato urged, and with the importance of individual rights as the fundamental basis for legal action, rather than as mere ingredients to be aggregated by lawyers seeking settlement advantage. Thanks again to the ever-brilliant David B. Rivkin, Jr., Andrew M. Grossman and colleagues at Baker & Hostetler for their work on the Cato brief.
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Christopher Dorner standoff: Who started the fire in showdown with fugitive ex-cop?
The search for revenge-seeking ex-cop Christopher Dorner ended abruptly Tuesday night when a man believed to be Dorner barricaded himself in a vacant cabin and mounted a furious shootout before the building erupted in flames.
By: Tami Abdollah and Gillian Flaccus The Associated Press, Published on Wed Feb 13 2013
BIG BEAR LAKE, CALIF.—As police scoured mountain peaks for days, using everything from bloodhounds to high-tech helicopters, the revenge-seeking ex-cop they wanted was hiding among them, holed up in a vacation cabin across the street from their command post.
It was there that Christopher Dorner apparently took refuge last Thursday, four days after beginning a deadly rampage that would claim four lives.
The search ended abruptly Tuesday when a man believed to be Dorner bolted from hiding, stole two cars, barricaded himself in a vacant cabin and mounted a last stand in a furious shootout in which he killed one sheriff’s deputy and wounded another before the building erupted in flames.
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He never emerged from the ruins and hours later a charred body was found inside.
An official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press Wednesday morning that a wallet with a California driver’s licence with the name Christopher Dorner had been found in the burned rubble of the cabin.
“We have reason to believe that it is him,” San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman said.
Within hours of the shootout, questions started about how the fire began.
Audio from a scanner broadcasting Big Bear Lake police and fire communications picked up a male voice saying “We’re going to go forward with the plan for the burn” and then “seven burners deployed and we have a fire.”
The audiowas picked up byTuneIn, which streams music, sports, news and police and fire scanners from around the world, including the Toronto Police Department.
A musician who monitors police and fire scanners via Broadcastify.com also posted a video with more clearly audible sound he’d picked up of police at the scene. He verified the source for the Toronto Star.
Later, a male voice described “fire in the front, he might come out the back.” A shot is heard inside the cabin and when a dispatcher asks if they “still want fire to roll in” a voice warns there is “live ammo popping.”
What isn’t known is what the strategy involving fire entailed and exactly what set off the conflagration that engulfed the cabin.
“We’re not getting into that right now,” county sheriff’s department Sgt. Anthony Vega told the Star. The department scheduled a news conference for 7 p.m. Toronto time.
Dorner, 33, had said in a lengthy rant police believe he posted on Facebook that he expected to die in one final, violent confrontation with police, and if it was him in the cabin that’s just what happened.
The apparent end came very close to where his trail went cold six days earlier when his burning pickup truck — with guns and camping gear inside — was abandoned on a fire road in the San Bernardino National Forest near the ski resort town of Big Bear Lake.
His footprints led away from the truck and vanished on frozen soil.
With no sign of him and few leads, police offered a $1 million reward to bring him to justicepolice offered a $1 million reward to bring him to justice and end a “reign of terror” that had more than 50 families of targeted Los Angeles police officers under round-the-clock protection after he threatened to bring “warfare” to the LAPD, officers and their kin.
Just a few hours after police announced Tuesday that they had fielded more than 1,000 tips with no sign of Dorner, word came that a man matching his description had tied up two people in a Big Bear Lake cabin, stole their car and fled. Authorities didn’t immediately give more details on the two people.
Game wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who were part of the search detail spotted the purple Nissan that had been reported stolen going in the opposite direction and gave chase, department spokesman Lt. Patrick Foy said. The driver looked like Dorner.
They lost the purple car after it passed a school bus and turned onto a side road, but two other Fish and Wildlife patrols turned up that road a short time later, and were searching for the car when a white pickup truck sped erratically toward the wardens.
“He took a close look at the driver and realized it was the suspect,” Foy said.
Dorner, who allegedly stole the pickup truck at gunpoint after crashing the first car, rolled down a window and opened fire on the wardens, striking a warden’s truck more than a dozen times.
One of the wardens shot at the suspect as he rounded a curve in the road. It’s unclear if he hit him, but the stolen pickup careened off the road and crashed in a snow bank. Dorner then ran on foot to the cabin where he barricaded himself and got in a shootout with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies and other officers who arrived.
Two deputies were shot, one fatally.
A SWAT team surrounded the cabin and used an armoured vehicle to break out the cabin windows, said a law enforcement official who requested anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. The officers then pumped a gas into the cabin and blasted a message over a loudspeaker: “Surrender or come out.”
The armoured vehicle then tore down each of the cabin’s four walls.
A single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames, the law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Until Tuesday, authorities weren’t sure Dorner was still in Big Bear Lake, where his pickup truck was found within walking distance from the cabin where he hid.
Even door-to-door searches failed to turn up any trace of him in the quiet, bucolic neighbourhood where children were playing in the snow Tuesday night.
With many searchers leaving town amid speculation he was long gone, the command centre across the street was taken down Monday.
Ron Erickson, whose house is only about quarter mile away, said officers interrogated him to make sure he wasn’t being held hostage. Erickson himself had been keeping a nervous watch on his neighbourhood, but he never saw the hulking Dorner.
“I looked at all the cabins that backed the national forest and I just didn’t think to look at the one across from the command post,” he said. “It didn’t cross my mind. It just didn’t.”
Police say Dorner began his run on Feb. 6 after they connected the slayings of a former police captain’s daughter and her fiance with his angry manifesto.
Dorner blamed LAPD Capt. Randal Quan for providing poor representation before the police disciplinary board that fired him for filing a false report.
Dorner, who is black, claimed in his online rant that he was the subject of racism by the department and was targeted for doing the right thing.
Chief Charlie Beck, who initially dismissed Dorner’s allegations, said he would reopen the investigation into his firing — not to appease the ex-officer, but to restore confidence in the black community, which had a long fractured relationship with police that has improved in recent years.
Dorner vowed to get even with those who had wronged him as part of his plan to reclaim his good name.
“You’re going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him especially his NAME!!!” the rant said. “You have awoken a sleeping giant.”
Within hours of being named as a suspect in the killings, the 6-foot, 270-pounder described as armed and “extremely dangerous,” tried unsuccessfully to steal a boat in San Diego to flee to Mexico. After leaving a trail of evidence, he headed north where he opened fire on two patrol cars in Riverside County, shooting three officers and killing one.
With a description of his car broadcast all over the Southwest and Mexico, he managed to get to the mountains 80 miles east of Los Angeles where his burning truck was found with a broken axle.
Only a short distance from the truck, he spent his final days with a front-row seat to the search mobilized right outside.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:12 am
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By Michael F. Cannon
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has been campaigning so enthusiastically for President Obama that she — whoops! — broke a federal law that restricts political activities by executive-branch officials. Federal employees are usually fired for such transgressions, but no one expects that to happen to Sebelius. Heck, she got right back in the saddle.
Every cabinet official (probably) wants to see the president reelected, and no president relishes dismissing a cabinet official. But in this case, there’s an additional incentive for Sebelius to campaign for her boss and for Obama not to fire her.
ObamaCare creates a new Independent Payment Advisory Board that — “fact checkers” notwithstanding — is actually a super-legislature with the power to ration care to everyone, increase taxes, impose conditions on federal grants to states, and wield other legislative powers. According to legend, IPAB will consist of 15 unelected “experts” who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Yeah, good one.
In fact, if the president makes no appointments, or the Senate rejects the president’s appointees, then all of IPAB’s considerable powers fall to one person: the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The HHS secretary would effectively become an economic dictator, with more power over the health care sector than any chamber of Congress.
If Obama wins in November, he would have zero incentive to appoint any IPAB members. The confirmation hearings would be a bloodbath, not unlike Don Berwick’s confirmation battle multiplied by 15. Sebelius, on the other hand, would not need to be re-confirmed. She could assume all of IPAB’s powers without the Senate examining her fitness to wield those powers. If Obama fired her, or the voters fire Obama, then the next HHS secretary would have to secure Senate confirmation. Again, bloodbath. That makes Kathleen Sebelius the only person in the universe who could assume those powers without that scrutiny.
No wonder she’s campaigning so hard. No wonder Obama won’t fire her.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
South African police opened fire Thursday on a crowd of striking miners that charged a line of officers trying to disperse them, killing some and wounding others in one of the worst shootings by authorities since the end of the apartheid era.
Police declined to offer casualty figures after the shooting at the Lonmin PLC mine near Marikana, a dusty town about 70 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg. However, the main South African news agency, SAPA, has reported that 18 people have been killed. Police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi acknowledged late Thursday some of the miners there had died as more police and soldiers surrounded the hostels and shacks near Lonmin’s shuttered platinum mine.
The shooting happened Thursday afternoon after police failed to get the striking miners to hand over machetes, clubs and other weapons.
Some miners did leave, though others carrying weapons began war chants and soon started marching toward the township near the mine, said Molaole Montsho, a journalist with the South African Press Association who was at the scene.
The police opened up with a water cannon first, then used stun grenades and tear gas to try and break up the crowd, Mr. Montsho said.
Suddenly, a group of miners rushed through the underbrush and tear gas at a line of police officers. Officers immediately opened fire, with miners falling to the ground. Dozens of shots were fired by police armed with automatic rifles and pistols.
Images broadcast by private television broadcaster e.tv showed the gunfire ending with police officers shouting “cease fire!” By that time, bodies were lying in the dust, some pouring blood. Another image showed some miners, their eyes wide, looking in the distance at heavily armed police officers in riot gear.
It was an astonishing development in a country that has been a model of stability since racist white rule ended with South Africa’s first all-race elections in 1994. The shooting recalled images of white police firing at anti-apartheid protesters in the 1960s and 1970s, but in this case it was mostly black police firing at black mine workers.
President Jacob Zuma said he was “shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence.”
“We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialogue without any breaches of the law or violence,” he said in a statement.
Barnard O. Mokwena, an executive vice president at Lonmin, would say only: “It’s a police operation.” Lonmin is the world’s third largest platinum producer
In a statement earlier Thursday, Lonmin had said striking workers would be sacked if they did not appear at their shifts Friday.
“The striking (workers) remain armed and away from work,” the statement read. “This is illegal.”
The unrest at the Lonmin mine began Aug. 10, as some 3,000 workers walked off the job over pay in what management described as an illegal strike. Those who tried to go to work on Saturday were attacked, management and the National Union of Mineworkers said.
On Sunday, the rage became deadly as a crowd killed two security guards by setting their car ablaze, authorities said. By Monday, angry mobs killed two other workers and overpowered police, killing two officers, officials said. Officers opened fire that day, killing three others, police said.
Tuesday and Wednesday, thousands of miners had gathered at a rocky cliff within sight of the mine’s smelter. They cheered, sang and marched around with machetes and clubs under the watchful eye of police officers in armored trucks. Some leaders of the miners spoke with the police and largely followed their instructions, breaking up the protest as dusk fell.
Operations appeared to come to a standstill Tuesday as workers stayed away from the mines, where 96 percent of all Lonmin’s platinum production comes from. The stoppage has spooked those investing in Lonmin. Stock in Lonmin plunged 7.27 percent in trading Thursday afternoon on the London Stock Exchange.
While the walkout appeared to be about wages, the ensuing violence has been fueled by the struggles between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. Disputes between the two unions escalated into violence earlier this year at another mine.
Black miners long have faced low salaries and poor living conditions in shantytowns often beset by alcoholism, drug abuse and prostitution. Apartheid kept black African workers from more lucrative jobs offered to whites. Though the nation became truly democratic in the 1990s, the salaries of black miners remain low.
Mining drives the economy of South Africa, which remains one of the world’s dominant producers of platinum, gold and chromium. Lonmin is the world’s third largest platinum producer and its mine at Marikana produces 96 per cent of all its platinum. The violence has shaken the precious metals market, as platinum futures ended up $39, or 2.8 per cent, at $1,435.20 an ounce in trading Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:51 pm
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Focus on fire prevention for 2012 harvest
Charles Schwab and Willy Klein, Iowa State University Extension | Updated: August 11, 2012
Nationwide, combine and tractor fires are believed to have caused tens of millions of dollars in property losses each year. Harvest is a prime time for agricultural fires, even when the weather has not been warm and dry. This year, the normal harvest dryness will be intensified since Iowa has been experiencing drought conditions. The potential for agricultural fires also is increased above normal, warns Chuck Schwab, agricultural safety specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“The three parts of any fire – fuel, oxygen and ignition source – are in Iowa’s agricultural fields,” said Schwab. “Fuel sources such as husks, leaves, dust and grains are always present when harvesting, and so are many sources of ignition found on combines, trucks and other vehicles that include exhausts, hot engine compartments, bearings and electrical wiring.”
Minimize risk of harvest fires
Schwab said there are several ways farmers can minimize the risk of harvest time fires.
Clean stalks and debris from the combine often. How often depends upon the wind and field conditions.
Monitor tractors for similar buildup of dry materials that are a fuel source for fires.
Watch closely when trucks and other vehicles enter those fields with dry materials. The catalytic converter located on the underside of these vehicles can easily serve as the ignition source.
Carry a fire extinguisher and know how to use it.
Using fire extinguishers
Carrying a fire extinguisher in these vehicles might make the difference. Be prepared for combine fires by carrying two ABC-type extinguishers – one in the cab and one at ground level. Use a 10-pound extinguisher in the cab or operator’s station and a 20-pound size nearer to ground level. Tractors and other vehicles can have one ABC-type extinguisher and the size depends on the space available.
“Make sure the extinguishers you have on your vehicles are ready and fully charged for use,” Schwab said. “Just having the extinguisher is not enough; you should know how to use it effectively.”
Ideally it is best to have practiced putting out a fire with an extinguisher in a controlled training session before confronting an actual fire, according Schwab. However, that is not always possible, so he suggests remembering the acronym PASS when using any portable fire extinguisher. PASS stands for
P – Pull the pin in the fire extinguisher handle. This allows you to squeeze the handle and release the extinguishing agent.
A – Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. If the spray is not directed at the base, then the chance of extinguishing the fire is lost.
S – Squeeze the handle firmly to start the flow of extinguishing agent. Starting and stopping extinguishing agent flow is controlled by squeezing the handle.
S – Sweep the fire extinguisher back and forth – not too fast or too slowly because it does make a difference in how effective you’ll be in extinguishing the fire.
Not all fire can be extinguished by an individual with a portable fire extinguisher. A large 20-pound fire extinguisher does not contain an infinite supply of extinguishing agent. These portable extinguishers only last a few minutes at most and that means the time to control the fire is limited. A fire extinguisher can be effective when properly used if the fire is discovered early, when it is still small.
Fires that have been discovered too late or that have grown too big for a fire extinguisher to handle require a different response. Call for professional help during the first sign of fire. Instead of fighting the fire, retreat to a safe distance and wait for the professionals. In some cases, farmers barely have enough time to exit the operator station before the fire can trap them. Avoid getting caught or trapped by a large fire while trying to extinguish it.
“Personal safety must be the top priority and the equipment that is on fire secondary,” said Schwab. “Make smart decisions about safety as you choose to fight or flee a fire. The value of that equipment that is on fire is never worth your life.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:25 pm
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Iran ‘ready to fire missiles at US bases’
Iran ‘ready to fire missiles at US bases’
Revolutionary Guards commander says Iran could strike back at US bases in the Gulf and Israeli targets minutes after attack
Footage from Iranian state television shows a successful medium-range missile test Link to this video
Iran is prepared to launch missiles at US bases throughout the Gulf within minutes of an attack on the Islamic Republic, according to a commander of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.
In an apparent response to reports that the US has increased its military presence in the Gulf, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ air force said on Wednesdaythat missiles had been aimed at 35 US military bases in the Gulf as well as targets in Israel, ready to be launched in case of an attack.
The semi-official Fars news agency reported Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh as saying: "We have thought of measures to set up bases and deploy missiles to destroy all these bases in the early minutes after an attack."
Hajizadeh’s remarks were made on the sidelines of a three-day war game called Great Prophet Seven, which Iranian officials claimed was a show of defiance against western pressure, including the US and EU embargo against imports of Iranian oil that came into effect on 1 July.
"These [US] bases are all in range of our missiles, and the occupied lands [a reference to Israel] are also good targets for us," Hajizadeh said.
During the exercise, the elite Revolutionary Guards – who have their own military divisions separate from the Iranian army – test-fired dozens of missiles, including Shahab-3 and Sejil, which are said to have a range of 1,200 miles, capable of hitting Israel.
The US military has several bases in the Gulf, and the navy’s Bahrain-based 5th fleet is 120 miles from the Iranian coast. Israel is about 600 miles away from Iran.
Domestically, the war games were also aimed at showing progress in the missile industry, despite a series of dramatic setbacks in recent years. In November 2011, an explosion at the Alghadir missile base, 30 miles from Tehran, killed Major General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, who was described as the "architect" of the country’s missile programme. It also killed at least two dozen members of the Revolutionary Guards working at the base.
The US has significantly reinforced its military presence in the Gulf, increasing the number of fighter jets and minesweepers, in preparation for a possible blocking of the strait of Hormuz by Iran.
Iranian officials have signalled that in reaction to the oil sanctions they may shut the strait, a vital passageway in the Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s crude passes in tankers. In a recent development, the Iranian parliament said it would discuss a bill proposed by at least 100 MPs which requires the government to block oil tankers in the Gulf.
Israel has said it may carry out a pre-emptive military strike against Iran because of its nuclear activities, but there are doubts about whether it has the logistical capacity to do that without the help of its main ally, the US.
As the oil embargo came into force this week, the Iranian authorities showed mixed reactions to the economic sanctions, admitting the severity of the pressure but at the same time remaining adamant that they could survive.
Meanwhile, a meeting in Istanbul between Iranian and international nuclear experts ended in the early hours of this morning with an agreement to keep low-level contacts going in the hope of narrowing the substantial gap between Tehran and the major powers over the scope and scale of the Iranian nuclear programme. However, although the differences between the sides came into greater focus in Istanbul, diplomats said there was no sign of that gap closing.
The Istanbul talks lasted 13 hours over five sessions, ending at 1am, and went into exhaustive technical detail on the proposals put on the table in Baghdad in May by six world powers – the US, UK, China, France, Germany and Russia.
"It was a technical meeting that went into incredible detail," said a European diplomat.
The six-nation proposal laid down in Baghdad was for Iran to stop producing 20%-enriched uranium (a particular proliferation concern) to shut the underground plant at Fordow, where much of it is made, and to ship its existing 20% stockpile out of the country, in return for a range of incentives such as reactor fuel plates, nuclear safety assistance and aircraft parts.
At later talks in Moscow, Iran said it might discuss its 20% enrichment but wanted international guarantees of its right to enrich uranium in principle and for economic sanctions to be dropped.
"We went into great detail on our proposal – for example, what do we mean by closing Fordow, and what our expectations and timelines are," the European diplomat said. " And the Iranians expanded on their proposal."
The diplomat did not provide the details, saying only there were "fruitful exchanges, which mostly involved us probing them".
The Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said there had been no breakthrough or decisive progress in Istanbul.
"But we are not losing heart or think that the Istanbul meeting of experts was a failure," Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency. "On the contrary, there are grounds to speak of certain progress."
Another source familiar with the talks said there was no sign of the difference between the two position narrowing, and no sign that sanctions were having any tangible effect in changing Tehran’s negotiating position. However, a meeting between mid-ranking officials from the European Union and Iran is due to take place in the next couple of weeks to discuss whether any common ground emerged in Istanbul.
High-level negotiations were suspended last month after the Moscow talks failed to make progress. Diplomatic contacts were downgraded but kept alive, to keep the door to diplomacy ajar, in the hope of fending off the threat of military action by Israel.
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:01 am
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European Leaders Play With Fire
Posted Jun 29, 2012
The world economy today stands at the doorstep of great change. A gathering crisis looms in Europe, splitting the Continent into two competing blocs. While leaders there face off against one another in a high stakes game of chicken, the rest of the world powerlessly watches the train wreck slowly unfold. Political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic fail to grasp the fragility of the current world order and do not understand the forces they are unleashing. A parallel here can be drawn with the political situation that existed on the eve of the First World War. For the most part European leaders were not bent upon death and destruction. However these largely ordinary men were held captive by national delusions and a complex system of alliances and treaties that had not been thought through to their logical conclusions. This resulted in a situation where a single assassination was enough to plunge the Continent into a bloodbath.
Although we are not on the brink of a world war, leaders today are nonetheless currently faced with economic and financial conditions of a similar dimension. Confronted with economic problems that they are unable to understand and political problems that they are unwilling to untangle, they’re hoping to solve existing problems by injecting ever greater quantities of printed money into their economies. And just as the leaders prior to World War I could not have predicted the massive loss of life that their actions were to bring, so too do world leaders today appear blind to the consequences of unrestrained money creation and the urgent need for free market reform.
Last week’s G-20 meetings were a case in point. Though the conference featured much high sounding talk, there was little effective action. Meanwhile, the world economy moved inexorably towards recession as the Anglo-Americans urged more Quantitative Easing (QE). As indicated in this column, the U.S. dollar has experienced a temporary rise and, as recessionary forces emerged, gold hovered, even sliding in terms of the U.S. dollar.
But, much to the frustration of politicians, all the previous policy errors and prior money creation are simply not producing the desired results. Instead, unemployment remains high and real estate prices continue to stagnate in most parts of the world, devastating the morale of consumers. Businesses, faced with falling consumer demand, continued high taxes and regulatory uncertainty, are hiring at a rate so slow that the number of long-term jobless continues to grow.
Keynesian world leaders look on in barely disguised panic as their policies of cheap, easy money fail to affect meaningful change. QE has lost public credibility and, indeed, has become politically dangerous. Despite this, Keynesian central banks such as the Bank of England, though having halted their $511 billion QE program in May, recently considered flooding the British banking system with even more paper money to encourage business and consumer lending. In his annual policy speech to London financiers on June 14, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said that, "With signs of deterioration in the outlook, especially in world markets, the case for a further monetary easing is growing."
Meanwhile other central banks, such as the Fed and the European Central Bank, have resorted to disguised QE in the form of ‘twist operations,’ and have lowered the quality of securities they will accept as collateral. But despite all the tricks, both old and new, recession keeps creeping in. They still think the answer is more money. And in much the same way that the generals of World War I continued to order frontal offensives, even after each prior assault had proven useless, today’s politicians continue to pump fiat money into the front lines.
So in such an environment, what are investors to do?
Many buy precious metals. They do this to hedge against inflation and to protect themselves from currency deterioration. As the need for immediate liquidity increases in a recession, though, gold and silver are often sold to provide it. As recession looms, it’s likely that those hedging against inflation are selling off.
As a result, the short-term outlook for gold and silver remains volatile, reflecting chronic political uncertainty. In the longer term, however, precious metals may be set up to rise in price as the promised recovery fails and recession leads to depression. The ensuing political panic and fears of a collapse of the fiat currency system should exacerbate the demand for those assets that are seen as a safe haven.
In a recession, cash is king. But as a currency deteriorates, gold is king. By their panicked misunderstanding of economics world leaders are threatening to create a world of crippled and shell shocked currencies. Investors should look progressively more towards precious metals as a possible safe haven.
Senior Market Strategist
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Jun 29, 2012 5:24 am
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As America watches large sections of Colorado literally burn to the ground, many are wondering why all of this is happening. There have always been wildfires, but what we are experiencing now seems very unusual. So is the number of wildfires in the United States increasing? As you will see later in this article, the answer is yes. 2011 was a record setting year for wildfires and this wildfire season is off to a very frightening start. Right now the eyes of the nation are focused on the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado. It doubled in size overnight and it has consumed more than 300 homes so far. It is threatening the city of Colorado Springs, and at this point more than 35,000 people have been forced to evacuate – including the U.S. Air Force Academy. On Twitter and Facebook residents are describing what they are seeing as “the apocalypse” and as “the end of the world”. But this is just the beginning of the wildfire season. We haven’t even gotten to July and August yet.
The Waldo Canyon fire is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive and destructive wildfires in Colorado history. The historic Flying W Ranch has already been burned totally to the ground by this fire. Local authorities are struggling to find the words to describe how nightmarish this fire is. The following are a couple of quotes from a CNN article….
Richard Brown, the Colorado Springs fire chief, described it as a “firestorm of epic proportions.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper surveyed the Waldo Canyon Fire, telling reporters it was a difficult sight to see.
“There were people’s homes burned to the ground. It was surreal,” he said late Tuesday night. “There’s no question, it’s serious. It’s as serious as it gets.”
But this is not the only wildfire that is raging in Colorado. Right now there are 10 wildfires burning in the state. Overall, there are 33 large wildfires currently burning in twelve U.S. states.
If you will remember, New Mexico just experienced one of the worst wildfires that it has ever seen. Conditions throughout most of the western United States are ideal for wildfires right now. As USA Today reports, much of the western half of the country is under a “red flag warning” right now….
Throughout the interior West, firefighters have toiled for days in searing, record-setting heat against fires fueled by prolonged drought. Most, if not all, of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana were under red flag warnings, meaning extreme fire danger.
But wait, didn’t this kind of thing happen last year too?
Yes it did.
In fact, 2011 was one of the worst years ever for wildfires in America. The following is a short excerpt from an EarthSky article….
Thousands of wildfires raged across the United States last year, 2011, burning a record amount of land, especially in the southern U.S. In fact, 2011 the third-most-active fire season since 1960 (when this record-keeping began) with respect to acres burned, according to preliminary data released from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in late December 2011. The NIFC will be releasing an official summary report detailing the 2011 wildfire season later in 2012, but for now you can read some of the details in the State of the Climate Wildfires 2011 report from NOAA.
During 2011, a total of 73,484 wildfires burned an estimated 8,706,852 acres (35,235 square kilometers) of land across the United States. Wildfire activity during 2011 was exceptionally high and was only exceeded in the historical record by wildfire activity during the years 2006 and 2007.
We have seen highly unusual wildfire activity throughout America in recent years. In the article quoted above you can find a chart which shows that wildfire activity in the United States has been far above normal during the past decade.
Wildfire records have only been kept since 1960. The 6 worst years on record for wildfires in the U.S. have all happened since the year 2000. The following is from an Earth Island Journal article that I found….
In the United States, where some of the most accurate wildfire statistics are kept, the six worst fire seasons in the past 50 years have occurred since 2000. In Texas, nearly 4 million acres were burned in 2011, double the previous record. This included the Bastrop Fire last September that destroyed 1,600 homes and became the most destructive fire in Texas history. In Arizona more than one million acres were burned in 2011, a new record. The Wallow Fire, which destroyed nearly a half million acres, was the largest fire in Arizona history. The Pagami Creek Fire in northern Minnesota became the third largest fire in state history when it burned 100,000 acres in September 2011, most of this in an unprecedented 16-mile run on a single day.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that the number of wildfires in the United States is increasing and wildfires are becoming more powerful and doing more damage.
So what is causing all of this?
The truth is that this is happening because we are seeing exceptionally dry conditions throughout the western half of the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. interior west is now the driest that it has been in 500 years.
The eastern half of the country also gets very hot during the summer, but they don’t have as many wildfires because they get a lot more rain.
Many areas in the western half of the country have been experiencing drought conditions for quite a few years, and there seems to be no end in sight for the drought.
If you go check out the U.S. drought monitor, you will see that almost the entire southwest United States is experiencing some level of drought right now.
So what will July and August bring?
It is kind of frightening to think about that.
Earlier this year I wrote an article that postulated that we could actually see dust bowl conditions return to the middle of the United States. Many readers were skeptical of that article.
But as much of the western United States continues to experience bone dry conditions and continues to be ravaged by wildfires, perhaps more people will understand how bad things are really getting in the interior west.
Just because we have made great technological advances as a society does not mean that we know how to tame nature. We can attempt to contain the massive wildfires that are popping up all over the place and we can attempt to deal with the drought, but in the end we cannot stop what is happening.
So do you live in any of the areas that are being affected by these wildfires?
Do you have an opinion about why so much of America is on fire?
Please feel free to post a comment with your opinion below….
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