Deo Vindice wrote:
It seems that God knew precisely what He was doing when he established the institution of marriage back in the Garden of Eden.
And it is the Anglo countries leading the charge against it
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:29 am
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Up Pompeii: oh for the days when bankers were slaves (trivia)
By Jeremy Warner Economics Last updated: March 27th, 2013
Bankers as slaves? In an age where it seems to have been the bankers who have enslaved everyone else, this might seem like a contradiction in terms, but such a world did once exist – no, really. The things we journalists have to do, but I’ve just been along to a preview of the British Museum’s Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition, generously sponsored by Goldman Sachs.
In ancient Pompeii, and indeed throughout the Roman empire, the slave was omnipresent, even, if the exhibition’s wonderfully preserved frescoes are to believed, at moments of greatest intimacy between master and wife. Titter ye not, as Frankie Howard might have said in Up Pompeii.
Whether old Lurcio was actually expected to be lurking around with a goblet of wine or a helping hand during the act of coitus, or this was just artistic license to demonstrate the master’s power over his slave, is impossible to know, but it certainly did get me thinking, and before you leap to conclusions, not in a smutty way.
Along with most of the other professions, banking in Pompeii was almost wholly performed by slaves or ex-slaves. Together with cooking and washing out the loos, this kind of stuff was very much considered a menial task, and certainly beneath the dignity of the master. In any case, bankers were there to serve, and not to be served. Happy days indeed, for the masters at least, until that wretched volcano went off.
Who are the masters now?
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:47 pm
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The latest politician to blur the lines between legislating and running a protection racket is Representative Dan Eaton, division chairman of the New Hampshire state legislature’s powerful House Finance committee.
In what Charles Arlinghaus of the New Hampshire Union Leader generously described as “a rare moment of candor”, Rep. Eaton recently stated during a committee hearing that he was going to hold up an entirely uncontroversial bipartisan charter school bill purely for political purposes. As he explained, “I’m looking at this as political. We have a [budget] negotiation [with the state senate] coming up in June and I want to have a trump card or two, and this is … a very healthy trump card.”
Arlinghaus breaks it down:
Consider what he’s saying: He liked the bill and supports the policy, but he believes he can use the bill as part of a hostage negotiation with the Senate. He wants to say to the Senate “I know you want this, but we’ll kill it even though we like it too unless you do something else we want that is completely unrelated.”
Without question, some give and take and normal compromise will be part of a budget process. Everyone expects the House and Senate to pass different budgets and to then negotiate over the details of what gets included. But this bill isn’t part of that process and wouldn’t be part of that negotiation unless Eaton gets to keep it captive in a back room. In effect, he’s looking at charter schools and saying, “I’m sorry you got caught in the crossfire, but I think I can sell you for a good price.”
The bill in question was intended to clear up a misunderstanding about a recent change to the Granite State’s charter school law that the state attorney general’s office understood to mean the opposite of what the legislative authors had intended. The bill, which restored the previous statutory language, had already received a positive recommendation from the NH House Education Committee and passed the full NH House on a voice vote, meaning that the support was so overwhelming that it was unnecessary to count the votes in favor and opposed. What seemed like common sense to most legislators apparently looked like an opportunity for political hostage-taking for Rep. Eaton.
Without the fix, the five new charter schools that are already in the governor’s budget cannot be authorized. Even a delay until the budget negotiations in June will jeopardize the ability of these charter schools to be ready to open in September.
As a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, I can attest that the “Live Free or Die” state’s citizen legislature often embodies the highest ideals of self-government. Most of the legislators I encountered in both parties were principled and completely dedicated to making New Hampshire an even better place to live. Unfortunately, these sort of legislative shenanigans leave a stain on the august institution. Let us hope that sunlight proves to be a sufficient disinfectant.
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Hold the fries: We’re eating less fast food, study says
By Steve James, NBC News contributor
Americans’ love affair with fast food may be far from over, but there are signs we may be cutting down on French fries, greasy burgers and other artery-clogging food, according to a new study.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images
A survey released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that, on average, adults consumed about 11.3 percent of their daily calorie intake from fast food in the 2007-2010 period – a drop from 12.8 percent in 2003-2006.
The CDC noted that more frequent fast-food consumption is associated with higher energy and fat intake and lower intake of healthful nutrients.
During 2007–2010, the highest percentage of calories from fast food was consumed among adults aged 20–39, the survey said. But among non-Hispanic black adults in that group, 21 percent of their calories were consumed from fast food. Cheryl Fryar, one of the authors of the study, said that while calorie intake was higher in young blacks than young whites, there was little racial or ethnicity differences in older Americans. She noted that the percentage of fast-food calories in the diet dropped to as low as 6 percent in the 60-plus age group. There was little difference between men and women, she said.
Bethene Ervin, the other author of the CDC survey, declined to draw any conclusions from the results. “We do not do public health,” she said. “(But) the lower calories from fast food may indicate that the public health messages are getting through.” Other nutrition experts said it might show that Americans are eating more salads and other healthy alternatives offered by fast-food chains.
The survey results come almost 10 years after the film “Supersize Me” highlighted the danger of diets heavy on fast food, such as hamburgers, French fries and pizza. In the film, director Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonald’s food for 30 days. As a result, he gained 24.5 pounds (11.1 kg), his body mass increased by 13 percent and his cholesterol level shot up to 230. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight gained from his experiment. Madelyn Fernstrom, a nutritional scientist and diet and nutrition editor for TODAY, said the CDC numbers were “a big surprise for two reasons.
“Firstly, that it is not what we hear about everyone chowing down on fast food for every meal. It is surprising that fast-food calorie content is now only 11 percent, that’s a big drop. Is it that the message about excess fat, calories and salt is getting through? Or that people are choosing healthier options?”
Fernstrom said the second significant finding was that the fast-food calorie intake dropped dramatically as people age. “It could be cost related, or is it because people are becoming more health conscious?” She said it was expected that there would be higher calorie consumption in the 20-39 age group as younger people do not think so much about the health effects of food.
“Maybe you don’t listen at 30, but you do at 60 when you are more vulnerable to clogged arteries of high blood pressure.”
Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said there is evidence that the obesity epidemic in the United States is beginning to plateau, “so these results aren’t hugely surprising.”
Commenting on the lower fast-food calorie intake, he said it was not clear if people were cutting back on how often they went to fast food restaurants or simply ordered healthier menu options. “Nowadays, they’re offering a whole plethora of lower-calorie alternatives,” such as salads, low-fat dressings, low-calorie yogurt or desserts, smaller portions, low-fat and fat-free milk and water.
“It’s no longer about where you eat, it’s about what you choose when you’re there. I can’t say for sure, but I believe McDonald’s is still doing robust business, and if more of that is coming from lower-calorie foods, salads, fresh fruit, etc., then that’s terrific,” Ayoob told NBCNews.com.
“It takes people a long time to change their ways and habits, but when they change them for the better and learn to enjoy the change, that’s a win-win,” he said.
Also on Thursday, the CDC released the results of another nutrition survey – on adolescents — but its conclusions were less striking. Comparing 1999-2000 with 2009-2010, it found that boys and girls aged 2-19 both consumed more protein and fewer carbohydrates but there was no notable difference in fat consumption.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:19 am
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Andrew J. Coulson
Homo sapiens evolved to deal with a natural world governed by consistent, predictable physical laws—so it stands to reason that when we fill our days studying public policy, we might occasionally become overwhelmed by all the crazy. It seems I was thus overhwelmed yesterday, when I blogged about the savings from Washington, DC’s private school choice program, forgetting about a backroom deal that was required to secure its passage.
While the vouchers only cost $14 million per year over the course of the initial five year trial, school choice advocates had to commit to spending an extra $13 million on DC public schools each year, as a palliative to local public school and political leaders. Some might consider this political payoff an additional “cost” of the voucher program, thereby reducing the program’s net savings. That would be a mistake. This payoff was just yet another cost of operating a state school monopoly whose rent-seeking masters demand to be financially appeased if even a few of “their” students are emancipated. It is at that system’s feet that these costs should be laid.
So, after reflecting on this particular bit of crazy, I’ll stick with the DC voucher savings estimate I offered yesterday.
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And that something is a national ID.
The quote is Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY), speaking about immigration reform at Politico’s Playbook Breakfast. The national ID gloss is mine, based on the immutable logic of “internal enforcement.”
Senators Schumer and McCain (R-AZ) say that the “Gang of Eight” senators who are working up an immigration reform package are united on the idea of making it impossible for illegal immigrants to get work in the United States. The only way to do that is to put all working Americans—if you work, that means you—into a national ID system.
“People say, ‘National ID card,’” Senator Schumer says. They do because that is what he’s talking about.
Now, they haven’t gotten all the way through the logic of their plans. Senator Schumer talks about a “non-forgeable [Social Security] card,” but a Social Security card only proves that a certain name is linked to a certain number. If a system is going to prove that a given person is entitled to work in the United States, it must be an identity system. It must compare the identifiers of the person to the identifiers in the system, whether held on a card or in a database, so that it can assess their legal status, including natural-born citizenship.
This is why Senator Schumer also talks about biometrics. The system must biometrically identity everyone who works—you, me, and every working American you know. There is no way to do internal enforcement of immigration law without a biometric national identity system.
It looks as though E-Verify, an incipient national ID system, will be a part of most or all comprehensive immigration reform proposals. Ironically, immigration reform that aligns the law with our country’s economic need for labor would obviate the need for E-Verify and a national ID.
There are lots of ways to become familiar with the national ID issues that have yet to bubble up in this early stage of the immigration reform debate. My 2006 book, Identity Crisis, is a decent primer on identity and national ID generally. I examined the direct line between internal enforcement of immigration law and a national ID in my 2008 paper: “Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification: Franz Kafka’s Solution to Illegal Immigration.” And my article in last year’s special Cato Journal on immigration reform was called: “Internal Enforcement, E-Verify, and the Road to a National ID.”
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Syrian Opposition Speaks
Failure of U.S. to provide direct aid demoralizing anti-Assad forces, opposition leader says
BY: Adam Kredo
October 27, 2012 5:00 am
President Barack Obama’s administration has continued to turn its back on Syrian opposition fighters, refusing to provide not only critical weaponry but also direct humanitarian aid to those fighting a bloody battle against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to an opposition leader who just returned from the battle’s front lines.
The dearth of direct support has enabled Assad to continue slaughtering citizens and opposition forces, prolonging a civil war that has claimed thousands of lives since it broke out over a year ago.
“I saw no support for the armed rebels by the U.S.,” Mouaz Moustafa, political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) and United for a Free Syria (UFS), said Friday afternoon during a conference call with reporters.
A lack of sophisticated weaponry has allowed armed terrorist groups, such as Iran-funded Hezbollah, to infiltrate Syria and stir chaos that could spill across the region, said Moustafa, who recently spent time in Syrian cities that have been decimated by Assad’s forces.
“There needs to be more serious arming of the [opposition] efforts,” he concluded. “That would greatly help depose the regime.”
A level of “military intervention to end the blood being spilled” would help rebel forces speed up Assad’s ouster, said Moustafa, who also serves as a board member for the Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS). “That’s something we’ve been very slow to move on.”
“The risks of not doing anything, not bombing … are far outweighed by the risks of letting these [attack on civilians] go on,” he added.
The United States also has failed to take a lead on the humanitarian front, Moustafa explained.
Currently, the U.S. sends aid to Syria via several United Nations bodies and other “middle men,” he said.
“It doesn’t have the stamp of the U.S.,” he said. “There’s middle men.”
It would send a “huge” message to the Syrian people if the U.S. were to take a more direct approach, Moustafa explained.
“We’re hoping to see it as more direct so Uncle Sam gets the credit,” he said. “It’s much needed.”
There are huge risks associated with the Obama administration’s continued passivity on the Syrian front, Moustafa said, including the rampant destruction and violence that continues to devastate towns along the Syria-Turkey border.
That violence could spread further into Turkey, potentially leading Saudi Arabia or even Jordan to get involved in what could become a regional conflict.
Additionally, if Assad falls, a power vacuum could allow militants and Islamic extremists to gain a foothold in the nation, as they have done in other Middle Eastern countries that have experienced tumult.
If the U.S. and other Western nations fail to prepare and organize local governments for the toppling of the Assad government, the situation in Syria could become “ten times more complicated and worse for the U.S.,” Moustafa said.
“We really have to take advantage because if we don’t … then we’ll end up with problems.”
There is growing evidence that Hezbollah and other extremist groups have been waging deadly cross border raids aimed at murdering Assad’s enemies.
Free Syrian Army fighters have recounted tales of being targeted by Hezbollah, according to reports.
Hezbollah has provided arms to pro-Assad forces, which routinely engage in the mass slaughter of innocent Syrian civilians.
Saudi Arabia has also reportedly armed opposition fighters in an effort to counter Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.
“Sectarian divisions driven by the war are sowing political instability outside of Syria, alongside the unstable security situation introduced by the fighting itself,” The Israel Project, a D.C.-based organization, wrote in a recent analysis of the conflict.
Moustafa reported seeing evidence of “spill over” from the conflict during his time in Syria.
“We see it already happening in certain places” such as Lebanon, he said.
Armed fighters have entered the conflict from Iraq, Moustafa said.
“There’s potential to have chaos in the entire region,” which is exactly what Assad is “banking on.”
To protect its borders, Turkey has established a de facto green line replete with artillery and soldiers. Government leaders have hoped to formalize this line, but it has yet to get explicit support from the Obama administration.
“The Turks are very much exposed,” Moustafa said. “There are no talks of formalizing this buffer zone ,though the Turks would like to see it.”
However, “it can only happen if the U.S. is at the table,” he added.
Violence has become so rooted in Syria that even a cease-fire during the Islamic religious holidays was short lived, according to reports.
Moustafa speculated that Assad has no reason to observe a temporary cease-fire and even less motivation to enact a long-term plan.
“I don’t think it could hold,” he said. If Assad ends the violence, “he will fall.”
Moustafa outlined the horrors the war has brought to areas of Syria such as Khirbet al-Joz, a Syrian border town that was razed by pro-Assad forces.
“The conditions of everyone in the village were horrendous,” Moustafa said, recalling “the smell of burning.”
Moutafa interviewed several pro-Assad prisoners of war who were being held captive by opposition forces in several warehouse-like structures in the town.
Some of them explained the reasons they were aiding the regime.
“Many of them are young men,” Moustafa recalled, “and they are stuck in this game being played by Assad.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:59 am
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Drones were circling above U.S. consulate during Libya attack but officials decided NOT to mount a rescue mission
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State Department for additional security personnel
Republicans say the Obama administration denied the request for political reasons
The White House says it had no role in procuring security detail for Stevens
By HAYLEY PETERSON and JILL REILLY
PUBLISHED: 15:01 GMT, 19 October 2012 | UPDATED: 17:49 GMT, 20 October 2012
American drones were in the skies above the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as the deadly attack that killed ambassador Christopher Stevens unfolded, it has been revealed.
Defense department officials considered sending troops in to rescue the ambassador and staff, according to CBS News, but ultimately decided not to .
They would haven been able to watch the attack on-screen as it unfolded.
The revalations came a day after it emerged that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State Department to ramp up his security team in Libya — requests that the Pentagon ultimately denied — in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the terrorist attack that killed him and three other Americans, newly released cables have revealed.
Stevens, who was killed in the 11 September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, warned the State Department of a ‘security vacuum’ in Libya ‘that is being exploited by independent actors’ in one cable that described rapidly deteriorating security conditions.
‘Islamic extremists are able to attack the Red Cross with impunity,’ he wrote. ‘What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity but rather targeted discriminate attacks.’
Revelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad
Knowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went
Stevens said the attackers would not be deterred ‘until authorities are at least as capable.’
Just hours before his death, he sent the Pentagon a cable describing ‘expanding Islamist influence in Dema,’ a town east of Benghazi, and said he was seeing a ‘troubling increase in violence and Islamist influence.’
Stevens recapped a meeting in which the commander of Benghazi’s Supreme Security Council told him there is ‘growing frustration with police and security forces.’
The cables were released by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the security matters surrounding Stevens’ death and questioning whether the State Department could have prevented the deadly attack.
Less than three weeks ahead of the presidential election, Republicans are using the cables to attack President Obama on his foreign policy, despite the State Department’s claim that it was solely responsible for the decisions to deny Stevens’ requests for more security in Libya.
‘These critical foreign policy decisions are not made by low or mid-level career officials — they are typically made through a structured and well-reasoned process that includes the National Security Council and the White House,’ Issa wrote in a letter to Obama on Friday.
Killed: Ambassador Christopher Stevens ( died following smoke inhalation, while agent Sean Smith died in a desperate battle
Heroic: Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed in a mortar attack
The letter claims that Obama had a political motivation in rejecting Stevens’ security requests, since the president was eager to show improving conditions in Libya after the U.S.-led international operation that toppled Libya dictator Moamar Gadhafi.
On Aug. 2, six weeks before Stevens was killed, he requested ‘protective detail bodyguard’ positions, calling the security situation in Libya ‘unpredictable, volatile and violent.’
A month earlier, he requested that the State Department extend his tour of duty personnel, which is a 16-man temporary security team trained in combating terrorism. The request was denied and the security team left 8 August.
Stevens had asked for the security team to stay through mid-September.
Colonel Andrew Wood, the leader of the security team that left Libya in the weeks before the terror attack, told CBS News that Stevens fought hard against losing the team.
‘It was quite a degree of frustration on their part,’ he said. ‘They were — I guess you could say — clenched-fist over the whole issue.
Questions: In their debate on Tuesday, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued over when Obama first said it was a terror attack
The White House maintained publicly for a week that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous mob upset about an anti-Islam video, even though it has now been revealed that they were informed within 24 hours of the attack that it was planned and carried out by militants.
‘Your administration has not been straightforward with the American people in the aftermath of the attack,’ Issa wrote in his letter to Obama.
In his Rose Garden address the morning after the killings, Obama said, ‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.’
But Republicans say he was speaking generally and didn’t specifically call the Benghazi attack a terror attack until weeks later, with the president and other key members of his administration referring at first to the anti-Muslim movie circulating on the Internet as a precipitating event.
Last week, the State Department said that it never believed the 11 September attack on the U.S. consulate was the result of a protest over an anti-Islam movie, contradicting previous statements.
Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire during the attack, which lasted several hours
The White House now says the attack probably was carried out by an al Qaida-linked group, with no public demonstration beforehand. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton blamed the ‘fog of war’ for the early conflicting accounts.
Issa’s committee questioned State Department officials for hours about what Republican lawmakers said was lax security at the consulate, given the growth of extremist Islamic militants in North Africa.
Congressional aides are hoping to use Stevens’ cables and information from State Department testimonies to build a timeline of what the intelligence community knew, compared to what the White House was telling the public about the attack. That could give Romney ammunition to use in his foreign policy debate with Obama on Monday night.
Reports have revealed that the CIA station chief in Libya compiled an intelligence briefing from eyewitnesses within 24 hours of the assault on the consulate that indicated militants launched the violence.
The briefing from the station chief was written late Wednesday, 12 September and reached intelligence agencies in Washington the next day, intelligence officials said.
Yet on Saturday of that week, briefing points sent by the CIA to Congress said ‘demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault.’
Haven: Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith were hiding in a safe room which later filled with diesel smoke
The briefing points, obtained by the AP, added: ‘There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations’ but did not mention eyewitness accounts that blamed militants alone.
Such raw intelligence reports by the CIA on the ground would normally be sent first to analysts at the headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for vetting and comparing against other intelligence derived from eavesdropping drones and satellite images.
Only then would such intelligence generally be shared with the White House and later, Congress, a process that can take hours, or days if the intelligence is coming only from one or two sources who may or may not be trusted.
U.S. intelligence officials say in this case the delay was due in part to the time it took to analyze various conflicting accounts.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the incident publicly, explained that ‘it was clear a group of people gathered that evening’ in Benghazi, but that the early question was ‘whether extremists took over a crowd or they were the crowd.’
But that explanation has been met with concern in Congress.
‘The early sense from the intelligence community differs from what we are hearing now,’ Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said. ‘It ended up being pretty far afield, so we want to figure out why … though we don’t want to deter the intelligence community from sharing their best first impressions’ after such events in the future.
‘The intelligence briefings we got a week to 10 days after were consistent with what the administration was saying,’said Rep. William Thornberry, a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees.
Thornberry would not confirm the existence of the early CIA report but voiced skepticism over how sure intelligence officials, including CIA Director David Petraeus, seemed of their original account when they briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
‘How could they be so certain immediately after such events, I just don’t know,’he said. ‘That raises suspicions that there was political motivation.’
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:18 pm
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In the crazy times in which we live, it helps to expect the unexpected. Sometimes you can think that you have it all figured out and then this world can throw a real curveball at you. Very few people anticipated that we would see a massive outbreak of the West Nile Virus in Texas this year or that the Mississippi River would be in danger of drying up after experiencing historic flooding last year. Who would have thought that we would see the worst drought in more than 50 years or that horrific wildfires would burn nearly 7 million acres of land? This is why economic conditions are always so hard to predict. A single “black swan event” can come along and change everything almost overnight. Our world has become incredibly unstable, and so who really knows what the rest of 2012 will bring? Will we see a stock market crash? Will the hurricane season be unusually bad? Will war erupt in the Middle East? Will we see a major earthquake on the west coast or even a volcanic eruption? Will the upcoming election cause an eruption of anger and frustration in America? We don’t know the answers to those questions yet, and the truth is that we will probably see some things happen that very few of us are anticipating at this point.
This is an exciting time to be a “news junkie”, but unfortunately the vast majority of the news these days is bad.
It is almost as if a “perfect storm” is developing. Our weather is going crazy, our financial system is on the verge of collapse, our politicians seem more insane than ever, there is evidence of social decay all around us and the drumbeats of war in the Middle East grow louder with each passing day.
As strange as 2012 has been so far, I fear that things are about to get a whole lot stranger.
Not that we haven’t had some very unanticipated events happen this year up to this point.
The following are 8 economic threats that we were not even talking about at the beginning of the summer….
#1 West Nile Virus
What is up with all of the strange disease outbreaks that we have seen so far this year?
Flesh eating disease and the bird flu have both been making global headlines this summer, but in the U.S. right now it is the West Nile Virus that is getting the most attention.
So far more than 1,100 cases of the West Nile Virus have been diagnosed in the United States and more than 41 people have died from it.
More than half of the cases so far have been in Texas, but we have also seen people come down with West Nile Virus in Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
If you live in any of those areas, you might want to do your best to avoid mosquitos for the rest of the summer.
#2 Historic Drought
This summer, the United States has experienced the worst drought that it has seen in more than 50 years.
This weather has been absolutely crippling for farmers and ranchers all over the nation. As I wrote about the other day, about half of all corn being grown in the U.S. is currently either in “poor” or “very poor” condition.
As the drought has dragged on, many farmers and ranchers have become increasingly desperate. In fact, one farmer has even been feeding his cows candy in an attempt to deal with rising feed prices.
Needless to say, this drought has been causing commodity prices to soar.
#3 The Mississippi River Is Drying Up
Thanks to this drought, rivers and lakes all over the United States are drying up. In fact, there have been reports that millions of fish have been dying because water levels have gotten so low in many areas.
Even the mighty Mississippi River has dropped to dangerously low levels.
At this point, the Mississippi is lower than most people living along the river can ever remember. If it drops much lower, it could potentially have an absolutely devastating impact on the U.S. economy.
A recent NBC News report described what is at stake….
About $180 billion worth of goods move up and down the river on barges, 500 million tons of the basic ingredients for much of the U.S. economy, according to the American Waterways Operators, a trade group. It carries 60 percent of the nation’s grain, 22 percent of the oil and gas and 20 percent of the coal, according to American Waterways Operators. It would take 60 trailer trucks to carry the cargo in just one barge, 144 18-wheeler tankers to carry the oil and gas in one petroleum barge.
If all traffic along the Mississippi was forced to stop, it is estimated that it would cost the U.S. economy about 300 million dollars a day.
And already there have been stoppages along one 11 mile stretch of the river….
Nearly 100 boats and barges were waiting for passage Monday along an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that has been closed because of low water levels, the U.S. Coast Guard said. New Orleans-based Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets said the stretch of river near Greenville, Miss., has been closed intermittently since Aug. 11, when a vessel ran aground.
So what happens if the Mississippi gets even lower?
The extreme heat has also been responsible for the horrific outbreak of wildfires that we have seen in the western United States this year.
So far in 2012, nearly 7 million acres have been burned up.
That is an area about as big as the states of Maryland and Delaware combined.
#5 The Global Elite Hoarding Gold
In the past, the global elite and the mainstream media would mock those who are hoarding gold in anticipation of a major financial collapse.
But now it is the global elite who are hoarding gold.
In a previous article, I discussed how men such as George Soros and John Paulson are investing mind-boggling amounts of money in gold right now. The amount of money that these two individuals are investing in gold is difficult to comprehend….
There was also news last week in an SEC filing that both George Soros and John Paulson had increased their investment in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded physical gold exchange traded fund (ETF).
Mr Soros upped his stake in the ETF to 884,400 shares from 319,550 and Mr Paulson bought 4.53m shares, bringing his stake to 21.3m.
At the current price of about $156 a share, these are new investments of about $88m of Mr Soros’ cash and more than $700m from Mr Paulson’s funds. These are significant positions.
Combined, Soros and Paulson dumped more than three quarters of a billion dollars into gold during the second quarter of 2012 alone.
So what are they anticipating?
The central banks of the world have been very busy hoarding gold as well. According to the World Gold Council, global central banks were net buyers of 157.5 metric tons of gold during the second quarter of 2012.
Over the past 20 years there has never been a time when global central banks have accumulated that much gold during a single quarter.
So just what in the world is going on?
#6 Recession In The UK
Everyone knew that Greece was in deep trouble.
And everyone knew that Italy and Spain were in deep trouble.
At this point the British economy has contracted for three quarters in a row.
Hopefully things will not get even worse over there.
#7 Major Economic Slowdown In The United States
Considering the fact that the U.S. economy never even came close to recovering from the last recession, it is a bit disheartening to see that it looks like we are headed for another major downturn.
According to Michael Panzer of Financial Armageddon, measurements of economic activity compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia indicate that the U.S. economy is rapidly heading into another recession. If you doubt this, just check out this chart.
And for a lot more reasons why the U.S. economy is entering another recession, check out this article.
#8 Hauled Off To A Mental Institution For What You Believe
Do you ever worry that what you post on Facebook could get you involuntarily committed to a mental institution?
Well, that is exactly what happened to one military vet recently.
A former Marine named Brandon Raub was hauled off to a mental institution because of what he posted on his Facebook page.
This is how the Economic Policy Journal summarized what happened to Raub….
The muscle used to grab Brandon Raub was local Chesterfield County, VA police. Also present during the grab were agents of the FBI and of the Secret Service.
Both the FBI and the Secret Service claim that they were only observing and not participating in the grab. The Chesterfield County police initially stated that they were only carrying out a request from the federal agencies.
The police also claim Raub is not under arrest, even though he was led away in handcuffs and is not permitted to leave the psychiatric ward of a hospital—even though it appears that Raub is not in any way in need of psychological care.
I note this happened in the United States of America, with local police, FBI agents and Secret Service taking part.
The claim that Raub is “not under arrest” is completely and totally ridiculous. The authorities came to his door, slapped handcuffs on him and are holding him in a mental institution against his will.
And now he has been transferred to a facility that is 3 hours away from his family, his supporters and his legal team.
What in the world is America turning into?
The Rutherford Institute is defending Raub, and the following is an excerpt from a statement about this case on their website….
“This is not how justice in America is supposed to work—with Americans being arrested for doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights, forced to undergo psychological evaluations, detained against their will and isolated from their family, friends and attorneys. This is a scary new chapter in our history,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Brandon Raub is no different from the majority of Americans who use their private Facebook pages to post a variety of content, ranging from song lyrics and political hyperbole to trash talking their neighbors, friends and government leaders.”
This is the kind of thing that we have seen under brutal totalitarian regimes in the past. Dissidents are grabbed by authorities and taken to mental institutions where they are conveniently “disappeared”.
This kind of thing is not supposed to happen in America.
But it is happening.
And you know what? Before the authorities start attacking people for exercising free speech on Facebook perhaps they should clean up their own house.
It turns out that thousands of DHS employees have been convicted of crimes in recent years. The following is from a recent CNS News article….
There have been 2,527 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees and co-conspirators convicted of corruption and other criminal misconduct since 2004, according to a federal auditor.
Our world is becoming a very crazy place.
One thing that most people did see coming this summer was the continuing economic decline in Greece.
At this point Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression and it gets worse by the day.
If you can believe it, 1,250 companies have shut down in the second largest city in Greece in 2012 alone.
And many in the financial world believe the the situation in Greece is going to go beyond the breaking point fairly soon.
In fact, analysts at Citibank believe that there is a 90 percent chance that Greece will leave the euro over the next 12 to 18 months.
They sound pretty sure of themselves.
Not that the rest of Europe is in such great shape either.
According to Bloomberg, it looks like Europe will soon be losing about half a million auto industry jobs….
Efforts by PSA Peugeot Citroen (UG) and Fiat SpA (F) to end losses in Europe could cost more than 500,000 people their jobs as automakers and parts suppliers grapple with the effects of the European sovereign debt crisis.
We live in very unusual times.
Things are falling apart all around us and we seem to be rapidly approaching another major economic crisis.
Central banks, governments and Wall Street insiders all seem to be preparing for the worst.
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