Wednesday, September 30, 2009

inside occult america

Daily Grail | Mitch Horowitz is a writer and publisher of many years' experience, with a lifelong interest in man’s search for meaning. As the editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin in New York, Mitch has published some of today’s leading titles in world religion, esoterica, and the metaphysical. He has now authored his own book, Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, (Amazon US and UK) "an engaging, long-overdue portrait of one nation, under many gods, whose revolutionary influence is still being felt in every corner of the globe." This short Q&A discusses a number of the topics covered in Occult America, including Ouija, the occult symbolism on the dollar bill, and the influence of occult and New Age thinking on some of the biggest personalities in US history.

Q: Many of our Presidents and Vice-Presidents brought occult influences to the White House. One of the most fascinating examples is Henry A. Wallace. Can you tell us a bit about his beliefs and how they shaped his political aspirations?

Mitch: Henry A. Wallace was Franklin Roosevelt’s second vice-president, preceding Harry Truman. While Wallace is largely forgotten today, he was once considered a chief spokesman for the New Deal and a potential successor to Roosevelt himself. Wallace was also a great intellectual searcher, and his curiosity extended into the occult. This fact ultimately led to his public downfall. Wallace was born to a prominent Iowa farming and political family and was first tapped as FDR’s secretary of agriculture. In that role Wallace introduced a wide range of agricultural reforms that helped sustain American farming during the Great Depression. In this respect, he is considered perhaps the finest secretary of agriculture in American history. He also described himself as a “practical mystic” who was deeply interested in Theosophy, Freemasonry, astrology, Native American shamanism, Eastern faiths – and also in the work of a Russian mystic-artist, Nicholas Roerich. In short, Wallace wrote some very doting letters to Roerich, which fell into the hands of a Hearst newspaper columnist who used them to bury Wallace. Today, Truman is a household name while Wallace is obscure. Yet his legacy can be found on our dollar bill. It was Wallace who introduced the Masonic-influenced symbol of the eye-and-pyramid on the back of the US dollar in 1935.

church attacks spike


Washington Post | The youth choir belted out "O Happy Day" as folks trickled in through the church doors. Few noticed the accountant sitting in the back pew, his eyes flickering over each latecomer.

In one hand, he held a Bible. In the other, tucked inside his coat pocket, he gripped a .38 caliber revolver.

He had come to People's Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring looking for his estranged wife. And once she arrived and began arguing with him outside, the Bible would be forgotten. The gun would be raised. And in a matter of seconds, the congregation's sense of sanctuary would be shattered.

What happened that Sunday morning at People's Church was just one in a string of fatal shootings at houses of worship across the country. The most high-profile incidents -- a Kansas abortion doctor gunned down in May, an Illinois pastor shot mid-sermon in March, a Tennessee church attacked during a children's play in 2008 -- have begun to alter the way many churches operate.

Sanctuaries that once left their doors open all day now employ armed guards, off-duty police officers, surveillance cameras and even undercover plainclothes guards who mingle with the congregation.

A small cottage industry of faith-specialized security firms has sprung up almost overnight, offering nervous churches, synagogues and mosques vulnerability assessments, security systems and emergency planning. Many were already on alert for the kind of crimes that have plagued religious institutions for years: churches being burned, synagogues and mosques being desecrated.

People's Church, in fact, had a security plan in place for its 3,000-member congregation that included off-duty officers hired for traffic and protection. But none of it stopped Kevin Kelly from firing five bullets into Patricia Simmons Kelly's chest Feb. 22.

And now, like other places of worship shaken by violence, its members are grappling with deep wounds -- psychological and spiritual -- that have lingered long after the police cars and ambulances pulled away.

religious life won't be the same after downturn

AP | Organized religion was already in trouble before the fall of 2008. Denominations were stagnating or shrinking, and congregations across faith groups were fretting about their finances.

The Great Recession made things worse.

It's further drained the financial resources of many congregations, seminaries and religious day schools. Some congregations have disappeared and schools have been closed. In areas hit hardest by the recession, worshippers have moved away to find jobs, leaving those who remain to minister to communities struggling with rising home foreclosures, unemployment and uncertainty.

Religion has a long history of drawing hope out of suffering, but there's little good news emerging from the recession. Long after the economy improves, the changes made today will have a profound effect on how people practice their faith, where they turn for help in times of stress and how they pass their beliefs to their children.

"In 2010, I think we're going to see 10 or 15 percent of congregations saying they're in serious financial trouble," says David Roozen, a lead researcher for the Faith Communities Today multi-faith survey, which measures congregational health annually. "With around 320,000 or 350,000 congregations, that's a hell of a lot of them."

The sense of community that holds together religious groups is broken when large numbers of people move to find work or if a ministry is forced to close.

high court to consider issue of church state separation

Washington Post | MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE, Calif. -- It would be easy to miss among the yucca and Joshua trees of this vast place -- a small plywood box, set back from a gentle curve in a lonesome desert road. It looks like nothing so much as a miniature billboard without a message.

But inside the box is a 6 1/2 -foot white cross, built to honor the war dead of World War I. And because its perch on a prominent outcropping of rock is on federal land, it has been judged to be an unconstitutional display of government favoritism of one religion over another.

Whether the Mojave cross is ever unveiled again -- or taken down for good -- is up to the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Next week, it will get its first major chance to divine the meaning of the First Amendment command that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

If the court reaches the constitutional issues at hand, all sides agree it could provide clarity to the court's blurry rules on church-and-state separations. It could also carry important implications for the fate of war memorials around the country that feature religious imagery -- the Argonne Cross in Arlington National Cemetery, for instance, or the Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg.

The Mojave cross's protectors, which include veterans groups and the federal government, say the symbol is a historic, secular tribute; its original plaque from the 1930s said it was erected to honor "the dead of all wars." They argue that Congress has taken the steps to distance itself from any appearance of endorsing a religious display.

But the American Civil Liberties Union, Jewish and Muslim veterans, and others say government actions have only deepened the problem. In an effort to avoid the lower courts' rulings that it must come down, Congress has designated the site the country's only official national memorial to the dead of World War I, elevating it to an exclusive group of national treasures that includes the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore.

Congress's actions ensures that "the cross necessarily will reflect continued government association with the preeminent symbol of Christianity," the ACLU said.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

what do these numbers mean?

our perilous path to simple enslavement

AlterNet | Every American needs to realize that if they look at a police officer sideways they will be shot with electricity regardless of whether the officer has other choices.

Pam Spaulding put up a list of the 39 people (that we know of) who have been killed so far this year by tasers. (The list was compiled by Electronic Village, which is keeping track of the statistics.) Unsurprisingly, nearly 40% of the victims were black, despite being only 6% of the population.

But lest anyone who isn't black think they are immune, consider this:

An 81-year-old man tased during his arrest by a Stockton CHP officer says he may take legal action.

Victor Schiaffini says he is considering filing an excessive use of force complaint.

Schiaffini walks with a cane, has no use of his left arm after suffering six strokes, and takes several prescription medications daily.

The CHP says he attacked an officer with a deadly weapon, his cane.

Schiaffini was pushed to the ground and tased three times during his arrest.

"That was the worst whoopin' I've ever taken in my life," Schiafiini told CBS13.

Schiaffini spent three days in San Joaquin County Jail following his arrest in July.

The District Attorney reduced Schiaffini's charges to an infraction and he pleaded guilty.

Again, every American needs to realize that if they look at a police officer sideways or misunderstand their orders they will be shot with electricity regardless of whether the officer has other choices.

When you see a half paralyzed, 81 year old man tasered, you know for sure that it cannot be possible that they needed to taser him three times to subdue him. It was to teach him and anyone who was watching a lesson: if you fail to quickly comply with a police officer's instructions, no questions asked, you will be electrocuted and hauled off to jail. That's just the way it is.

And the more this is officially sanctioned the more common it will be become. The famous Milgram Experiment showed that people are more than willing to inflict pain on their fellow humans if they are instructed to do so by someone in authority.

our perilous path to energy enslavement

Techworld | Saving the world is not just for movie plots anymore. All indications are that another major economic crisis is looming, and it will have more far-reaching and long-lasting effects than the recession we're just starting to climb out of now. The problem is oil, and unless it's solved, reforming healthcare and winning wars abroad won't be possible.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to watch Andy Grove talk about saving the U.S., and I was once again taken with what made him a truly great CEO. It isn't that he is articulate or simply on message -- it's that he conveys a combination of intelligence and passion rarely found in any current leaders. It is also fascinating to see he can still make ex-Intel executives sweat at an Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) More about Intel alumni reunion, even though many of them now run their own companies.

Hidden in the messaging at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) last week was a goal to dramatically lower U.S. electricity bills and, in conjunction with Andy and the ex-Intel employees, save the country from becoming an energy slave to China by 2020. At the core of this is the view that the current Obama administration may be focused on the right things but in the wrong order.

For instance, if we don't fix the energy problem -- in short, our addiction to oil -- first, then other things -- like healthcare More about healthcare reform and the war on terror -- will fail.

Here is the problem in short form. China's need for oil is increasing at a near-vertical rate, and it should pass the U.S. in consumption is just a few years. Production isn't increasing much at all, which means there will be massive oil shortages.

The most credible projections I've seen place the shortage crisis at around 2013-15 (there is clear disagreement on the cause but the effect is consistent) and suggest that oil will veer upward of US$150 a barrel at that time. That would suggest gas prices exceeding $7 a gallon -- and going vertical after that.

Monday, September 28, 2009

crude world - the violent twilight of oil

NYTimes | Oil is the curse of the modern world; it is “the devil’s excrement,” in the words of the former Venezuelan oil minister Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, who is considered to be the father of OPEC and should know. Our insatiable need for oil has brought us global warming, Islamic fundamentalism and environmental depredation. It has turned the United States and China, the world’s biggest consumers of petroleum, into greedy, irresponsible addicts that can’t see beyond their next fix. With a few exceptions, like Norway and the United Arab Emirates, oil doesn’t even benefit the nations from which it is extracted. On the contrary: Most oil-rich states have been doomed to a seemingly permanent condition of kleptocracy by a few, poverty for the rest, chronic backwardness and, worst of all, the loss of a national soul.

We can’t be rid of the stuff soon enough.
Such is the message of Peter Maass’s slender but powerfully written new book, “Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil.” Unquestionably, by fueling better and faster transportation and powering cities and factories, oil has been critical to modern economies. But oil has also made possible the most destructive wars in history, and it has left human society in a historical cul-de-sac. Despite much hue and cry today, Maass argues, we seem unable to move beyond an oil-based global economy, and we are going to hit a wall soon.

Maass, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, tends to endorse the predictions of industry skeptics like Matthew Simmons, who argues the earth is about to surpass “peak oil” supplies. Even with the recent fallback in prices, the petroleum that’s left to discover will be harder and more expensive to extract. Last year’s $147-a-barrel oil was just a “foretaste of what awaits us,” Maass writes.

Maass is less interested in crunching oil-supply numbers, however, than in exposing the cruelty and soullessness of human­kind’s lust for this “violence-­inducing intoxicant,” as he calls it. His book teaches us an old lesson anew: that the true wealth of nations is not discovered in the ground, but created by the ingenuity and sweat of citizens. It’s the same lesson the Spanish learned centuries ago when they discovered gold, the oil of their time, in the New World. They piled up bullion but squandered it on imperial fantasies and failed to build enduring prosperity, while destroying the civilizations from which they seized it.

Destruction, or at least a lack of progress, has been the fate of most of the nations unlucky enough to sit on top of large pools of “black gold” today. They have grown corrupted by it, their leaders relieved of the need to show accountability as long as they can buy off well-connected foreigners and pay for the security and protection they need from their own angry, disenfranchised citizens. In starkly titled chapters — “Fear,” “Greed,” “Empire,” “Alienation” and so on — Maass shows how each oil state has found its own way to failure. “Just as every un­happy family is unhappy in its own way, every dysfunctional oil country is dysfunctional in its own way,” he writes.

Scitizen | As the troubling realities of future oil supplies begin to penetrate official circles, the oil optimists are making even more outlandish claims. Last month the pugnacious Michael Lynch, an independent energy analyst and perpetual oil supply optimist, told the readers of The New York Times that the world's total endowment of oil is actually around 10 trillion barrels of which we have only discovered 2 trillion so far. That leaves 8 trillion to be extracted.

Lynch admits that with current technology only 2.5 trillion barrels of what remains can be produced though he believes future advances in technology will greatly increase the recoverable amount. He adds that he is not even including production from tar sands or other nonconventional sources. He writes all this as if it were a matter of settled fact and without citing a single piece of evidence for his views.

Lynch's most recent boast is part of a series of ever-escalating estimates by oil optimists starting a decade ago. Today, such estimates carry with them a tone of desperation as the evidence mounts that we are approaching a worldwide peak in the production of oil. The timing of peak oil production is important because there is currently no viable substitute for oil. A nearby peak would raise havoc with a global economy addicted to ever-increasing supplies of cheap oil to fuel its growth. If oil supplies begin to decline soon, that growth may be difficult and perhaps impossible to achieve.

oil addiction - a nasty way of life...,

AlterNet | The great age of renewable energy is in our distant future. Before then, energy prices will rise, environmental perils will multiply and conflict will grow. Buckle your seatbelts.

The debate rages over whether we have already reached the point of peak world oil output or will not do so until at least the next decade. There can, however, be little doubt of one thing: we are moving from an era in which oil was the world's principal energy source to one in which petroleum alternatives -- especially renewable supplies derived from the sun, wind, and waves -- will provide an ever larger share of our total supply. But buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride under Xtreme conditions.

It would, of course, be ideal if the shift from dwindling oil to its climate-friendly successors were to happen smoothly via a mammoth, well-coordinated, interlaced system of wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and other renewable energy installations. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to occur. Instead, we will surely first pass through an era characterized by excessive reliance on oil's final, least attractive reserves along with coal, heavily polluting "unconventional" hydrocarbons like Canadian oil sands, and other unappealing fuel choices.

There can be no question that Barack Obama and many members of Congress would like to accelerate a shift from oil dependency to non-polluting alternatives. As the president said in January, "We will commit ourselves to steady, focused, pragmatic pursuit of an America that is free from our [oil] dependence and empowered by a new energy economy that puts millions of our citizens to work." Indeed, the $787 billion economic stimulus package he signed in February provided $11 billion to modernize the nation's electrical grid, $14 billion in tax incentives to businesses to invest in renewable energy, $6 billion to states for energy efficiency initiatives, and billions more directed to research on renewable sources of energy. More of the same can be expected if a sweeping climate bill is passed by Congress. The version of the bill recently passed by the House of Representatives, for example, mandates that 20% of U.S. electrical production be supplied by renewable energy by 2020.

But here's the bad news: even if all these initiatives were to pass, and more like them many times over, it would still take decades for this country to substantially reduce its dependence on oil and other non-renewable, polluting fuels. So great is our demand for energy, and so well-entrenched the existing systems for delivering the fuels we consume, that (barring a staggering surprise) we will remain for years to come in a no-man's-land between the Petroleum Age and an age that will see the great flowering of renewable energy. Think of this interim period as -- to give it a label -- the Era of Xtreme Energy, and in just about every sense imaginable from pricing to climate change, it is bound to be an ugly time.

big oil, little people...,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

treat corporations like people?


NYTimes | Re “The Rights of Corporations” (editorial, Sept. 22), about the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:

When our Constitution was written, corporations may have had much broader interests in civic matters that might have made them generous toward civic affairs, yet they were not personified.

Today, corporations have evolved to have the narrow interest of maximizing returns to their investors and to their executives, often denying the rights of their employees and the small stockholder. To allude to their control, or behavior, as being representative of the stockholders, or the will of the people, is delusional.

They aggregate great wealth, and use this exclusively to advance toward more wealth. And, when applied to influence legislation, they are devoid of personhood. To give them new rights would show that they have bought a place in our government, at the deepest level, the Supreme Court.

deep in bedrock, clean energy and earthquake fears


Click on Image to Start Multimedia Presentation on the danger of digging deeper

NYTimes | Markus O. Häring, a former oilman, was a hero in this city of medieval cathedrals and intense environmental passion three years ago, all because he had drilled a hole three miles deep near the corner of Neuhaus Street and Shafer Lane.

He was prospecting for a vast source of clean, renewable energy that seemed straight out of a Jules Verne novel: the heat simmering within the earth’s bedrock.

All seemed to be going well — until Dec. 8, 2006, when the project set off an earthquake, shaking and damaging buildings and terrifying many in a city that, as every schoolchild here learns, had been devastated exactly 650 years before by a quake that sent two steeples of the Münster Cathedral tumbling into the Rhine.

Hastily shut down, Mr. Häring’s project was soon forgotten by nearly everyone outside Switzerland. As early as this week, though, an American start-up company, AltaRock Energy, will begin using nearly the same method to drill deep into ground laced with fault lines in an area two hours’ drive north of San Francisco.

Residents of the region, which straddles Lake and Sonoma Counties, have already been protesting swarms of smaller earthquakes set off by a less geologically invasive set of energy projects there. AltaRock officials said that they chose the spot in part because the history of mostly small quakes reassured them that the risks were limited.

Like the effort in Basel, the new project will tap geothermal energy by fracturing hard rock more than two miles deep to extract its heat. AltaRock, founded by Susan Petty, a veteran geothermal researcher, has secured more than $36 million from the Energy Department, several large venture-capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Google. AltaRock maintains that it will steer clear of large faults and that it can operate safely.

But in a report on seismic impact that AltaRock was required to file, the company failed to mention that the Basel program was shut down because of the earthquake it caused. AltaRock claimed it was uncertain that the project had caused the quake, even though Swiss government seismologists and officials on the Basel project agreed that it did. Nor did AltaRock mention the thousands of smaller earthquakes induced by the Basel project that continued for months after it shut down.

smuggling europe's waste to poorer countries...,


NYTimes | ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — When two inspectors swung open the doors of a battered red shipping container here, they confronted a graveyard of Europe’s electronic waste — old wires, electricity meters, circuit boards — mixed with remnants of cardboard and plastic.

“This is supposed to be going to China, but it isn’t going anywhere,” said Arno Vink, an inspector from the Dutch environment ministry who impounded the container because of Europe’s strict new laws that place restrictions on all types of waste exports, from dirty pipes to broken computers to household trash.

Exporting waste illegally to poor countries has become a vast and growing international business, as companies try to minimize the costs of new environmental laws, like those here, that tax waste or require that it be recycled or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.

Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe, has unwittingly become Europe’s main external garbage chute, a gateway for trash bound for places like China, Indonesia, India and Africa. There, electronic waste and construction debris containing toxic chemicals are often dismantled by children at great cost to their health. Other garbage that is supposed to be recycled according to European law may be simply burned or left to rot, polluting air and water and releasing the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.

While much of the international waste trade is legal, sent to qualified overseas recyclers, a big chunk is not. For a price, underground traders make Europe’s waste disappear overseas.

china's threat revives race for rare earths....,


NYTimes | A Chinese threat to halt exports of rare minerals — vital for high-performance electric motors in wind turbines, hybrid cars and missiles — appears to have backfired.

With control of more than 99 percent of the world’s production of these minerals, China could try to use a ban to force other countries to buy the crucial motors for these high-tech end products, instead of just the minerals, directly from China.

But other governments and businesses reacted quickly as word of the proposed ban spread late this summer.

The Chinese threat has touched off a frenzied international effort to develop alternative mines, much as the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo’s repeated increases in oil prices prompted a global hunt for oil reserves.

In Washington, the House and Senate amended their defense budget authorization bills to require the Defense Department to review the military’s almost complete dependence on Chinese supplies of rare-earth minerals. In Australia, the government blocked a Chinese state-owned company on Thursday from acquiring a majority stake in a large mine being developed for these minerals, also called rare earths.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is financing exploration as the share prices of rare-earths mining companies soar — as much as sevenfold since March.

“Because of China’s focus on maximizing the benefits of its rare-earth resources for its own industry, there is now a focus on identifying alternatives elsewhere,” said Dudley J. Kingsnorth, a rare-earths production consultant in Perth, Australia.

Unleashing funding elsewhere has undercut China’s ability to take big stakes easily in new mines.

“You couldn’t borrow 10 cents from anybody in the financial community” to develop a rare-earths mine just three months ago, said James B. Engdahl, the chief executive and president of the Great Western Minerals Group, a rare-earths mining and processing company in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “We get inundated with calls offering financing these days.”

International pressure — including the possibility that the plan violated World Trade Organization rules — has forced the Chinese ministry drafting the ban to call for further review.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

why the killer-apes will surely fail....,

postmodern times

simply brilliant....,



The Scientist | A project at Harvard Medical School aims to bring music to medicine in a way that goes beyond setting the mood in the waiting room. Gene transcription and translation are anything but simple. But by combining modern statistics with the sounds of a sweet melody, bioinformatician Gil Alterovitz may make interpreting these complex phenomena and diagnosing the diseases that result from abnormalities in gene expression much more manageable tasks.

"I think it's brilliant that Gil is using a completely different channel for communicating complex genomic information," Latin and ballroom DJ Taro Muso writes in an email to The Scientist. "I've always wondered why doctors don't seem to use their ears beyond listening for natural bodily sounds."

"It's deceptively simple," says bioinformatician Yves Lussier of the University of Chicago. "It was conceptually challenging to come up with it, but once we know of it, it's obvious we should have tried that in addition to visualization techniques we have been using."

By boiling down gene expression data to just a few components -- variables that condense one or more parameters of data -- and assigning each of those components a different note and musical instrument, Alterovitz and his colleagues are literally making genetics musical.

The team carefully chooses the notes such that normal gene expression patterns sound pleasantly in tune, while abnormal data yield discordant sounds. "When you hear inharmonious music it kind of catches your attention," Alterovitz says, "and that would be a sign of a pathological problem."

"Even amateur musicians can tell the difference between various chords," Muso agrees, "so there is a definite potential for motivated biologists to use harmony as a screening method."

Alterovitz got the idea ten years ago while doing his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When he donned his scrubs and joined surgeons in the operating room as part of his graduate research project, he was distracted by the numerous monitors measuring nearly two dozen biological signals. Sometimes an alarm would go off, he recalls, but most of the time it wasn't really relevant, and they were simply turned off and ignored.

"Wouldn't it be useful if we somehow integrated [all] those variables so that we could present something that was not just a binary alarm but holistic information about the whole system?"

a BRIC through the window...,


NYTimes | President Obama will announce Friday that the once elite club of rich industrial nations known as the Group of 7 will be permanently replaced as a global forum for economic policy by the much broader Group of 20 that includes China, Brazil, India and other fast-growing developing countries, administration officials said Thursday.

The move highlights the growing economic importance of Asia and some Latin American countries, particularly since the United States and many European countries have found their banking systems crippled by an economic crisis originating in excesses in the American mortgage market.

For more than three decades, the main economic group was the Group of 7 — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. During the Clinton years, Russia was gradually added, not because of the size of its economy, but to help integrate it with the West. Administration officials said the group would still meet twice a year to discuss security issues. But for practical purposes, the smaller group will become more like a dinner club that defers to the broader group on the economic issues that have dominated summit meetings for nearly three decades. The development, as Mr. Obama was hosting a summit meeting here for leaders of the Group of 20 — 19 countries and the European Union — also highlighted the lingering disparity between the elite group of mostly Western powers and the mass of poorer nations. For all of Mr. Obama’s talk about greater inclusiveness for countries like Brazil and China, the meeting in Pittsburgh remains dominated by the financial crisis that began in the United States and has preoccupied the old boys’ club.

Friday, September 25, 2009

lost vegas


The Sun | LOVEBIRDS Steven and Kathryn share a well-organised home in bustling Las Vegas.

They have a neat, if compact kitchen, a furnished living area, and a bedroom complete with double bed, wardrobe and bookshelf featuring a wide selection including a Frank Sinatra biography and Spanish phrase book.

And they make their money in some of the biggest casinos in the world.

But their life is far from the ordinary.

Because, along with hundreds of others, the couple are part of a secret community living in the dark and dirty underground flood tunnels below the famous strip.

Rather than working in the bars or kitchens they "credit hustle", prowling the casinos searching the fruit machines for money or credits left by drunken gamblers.

Despite the risks from disease, highly venomous spiders and flooding washing them away, many of the tunnel people have put together elaborate camps with furniture, ornaments and shelves filled with belongings.

Steven and girlfriend Kathryn's base - under Caesar's Palace casino - is one of the most elaborate. They even have a kettle and a makeshift shower fabricated out of an office drinking water dispenser.

luxury hotels risk default as $850 rooms remain empty..,

Bloomberg | Luxury hotel owners risk defaulting on their debt as the recession cuts occupancies and the credit crunch constrains refinancing.

Loans secured by more than 1,500 hotels with a total outstanding balance of $24.5 billion may be in danger of default, according to Realpoint LLC, a credit rating company that tracks commercial mortgage-backed securities. Some of the biggest loans, put on the company’s watch list because of late payments, decreasing occupancies or cash flow, were made to luxury properties where rooms can cost more than $850 a night.

“All segments are showing signs of distress but the luxury segment carries much higher loan balances and is more clearly affected,” Frank Innaurato, managing director of CMBS analytical services at Horsham, Pennsylvania-based Realpoint, said in a telephone interview.

Lodging owners are struggling after adding rooms and properties at the peak of the CMBS market from 2004 to 2007, when $83.4 billion in hotel-backed securities was issued. Occupancy among chains with the costliest rooms fell to 60 percent in the first half from 70 percent a year earlier, according to Smith Travel Research. The decline was the industry’s largest for that period.

“Luxury hotels have been aggressively financed during the peak CMBS issuance years,” David Loeb, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., said in a phone interview. “That’s why luxury hotel loans crowd these watch lists.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"fed" lynching in kentucky..,



MSNBC | WASHINGTON - A U.S. Census worker found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.

The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word on the chest of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and teacher. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky.

The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation. An autopsy report is pending.

Investigators have said little about the case. FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is assisting state police and declined to confirm or discuss any details about the crime scene.

"Our job is to determine if there was foul play involved — and that's part of the investigation — and if there was foul play involved, whether that is related to his employment as a Census worker," said Beyer.

Attacking a federal worker during or because of his federal job is a federal crime.
Fist tap Rembom.

u.s., government may fail in 5-10 years





Interview with Marc Faber - By Bloomberg News 09/22/09

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

pile up the debt with even more debt to bail out the debt

SCToday | FDIC weighs extraordinary steps, including loans from banks, to shore up insurance fund. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is weighing several costly - and never-before-used - options as it struggles to shore up the dwindling fund that insures bank deposits.

The agency is considering borrowing billions from healthy banks. Alternatively, it may impose a special fee on the banking industry.

Each option carries risk: Drawing money from healthy banks would take dollars out of the private sector, making that money unavailable for investment in the weak economy. But charging the whole industry a fee to replenish the fund could push weaker banks toward failure.

A third option - borrowing from the Treasury - is politically unpalatable, since it would resemble another taxpayer-financed bailout.

A fourth option would be to have banks pay their regular insurance premiums early. But this idea wouldn't solve the fund's long-term cash needs.

"The bottom line is, there's no good solution," said Jaret Seiberg, an analyst with the research firm Concept Capital. "This is a fight over which option is least bad."

The FDIC is expected to propose a solution, possibly combining two or more of the options, at a board meeting next week.

Bank failures since the financial crisis struck have drained the fund to its lowest level since 1992, at the peak of the savings-and-loan crisis. The fund insures deposit bank accounts of up to $250,000.

supertankers may halt oil trading

Bloomberg | Supertanker owners may start refusing cargoes within the next three months unless rates return to a profitable level, said Frontline Ltd., the biggest operator of the ships which carry almost half the world’s oil.

Ship owners are contributing $942 a day toward fuel costs to ship Middle East crude, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. Rates have been below operating costs since July. Should the losses persist, some owners may choose to idle their ships, according to Jens Martin Jensen, Singapore-based chief executive officer of Frontline’s management unit.

“If you see another quarter, then I think owners have to do something,” Jensen said by phone today. “We are subsidizing oil companies.”

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has cut output by 4 percent this year to 28.4 million barrels a day, according to Bloomberg estimates. Over the same period, the fleet of in-service supertankers has advanced 5.8 percent to 528 ships, according to Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay data on Bloomberg.

The five-member Bloomberg Tanker Index, led by Frontline, dropped 19 percent this year, extending last year’s record 49 percent slump. Frontline rose 3 kroner, or 2.3 percent, to 132.50 kroner in Oslo, valuing the company at 10.3 billion kroner ($1.7 billion).

arctic sea ice reaches annual minimum

NSIDC | Arctic sea ice reflects sunlight, keeping the polar regions cool and moderating global climate. According to scientific measurements, Arctic sea ice has declined dramatically over at least the past thirty years, with the most extreme decline seen in the summer melt season.

Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its minimum extent for the year, the third-lowest extent since the start of satellite measurements in 1979. While this year’s minimum extent is above the record and near-record minimums of the last two years, it further reinforces the strong negative trend in summertime ice extent observed over the past thirty years.

Overview of conditions
On September 12, 2009 sea ice extent dropped to 5.10 million square kilometers (1.97 million square miles). This appears to have been the lowest point of the year, as sea ice has now begun its annual cycle of growth in response to autumn cooling. The 2009 minimum is the third-lowest recorded since 1979, 580,000 square kilometers (220,000 square miles) above 2008 and 970,000 square kilometers (370,000 square miles) above the record low in 2007.

The 2009 minimum is 1.61 million square kilometers (620,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum and 1.28 million square kilometers (490,000 square miles) below the thirty-year 1979 to 2008 average minimum.

Conditions in context
This year, the minimum extent did not fall as low as the minimums of the last two years, because temperatures through the summer were relatively cooler. The Chukchi and Beaufort seas were especially cool compared to 2007. Winds also tended to disperse the ice pack over a larger region.

While the ice extent this year is higher than the last two years, scientists do not consider this to be a recovery. Despite conditions less favorable to ice loss, the 2009 minimum extent is still 24% below the 1979-2000 average, and 20% below the thirty-year 1979-2008 average minimum. In addition, the Arctic is still dominated by younger, thinner ice, which is more vulnerable to seasonal melt. The long-term decline in summer extent is expected to continue in future years.

Final analysis pending
In the beginning of October, NSIDC will issue a formal press release with full analysis of the melt season, and graphics comparing this year to the long-term record. We will also announce the monthly average September sea ice extent, the measure scientists rely on for accurate analysis and comparison over the long term. We will continue to post analysis of sea ice conditions throughout the year, with frequency determined by sea ice conditions. The near-real-time daily image update will continue each day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

can america be salvaged?

CommonDreams | I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which proposing a new and better version of corporate-plunder masquerading as national healthcare gets you burned in effigy for being a socialist stooge by gun-toting angry mobs.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which the same people who hate you for being a socialist simultaneously hate you for being a fascist.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which angry mobs of supposed anti-socialist demonstrators scream at their congressional representatives to "keep your government hands off my Medicare".

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which claims that the government is going to start killing off seniors are taken seriously by tens of millions of people.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which people are all worked up about government czars, but sat silently while the Bush administration destroyed the Bill of Rights and used a thousand signing statements to write Congress out of the Constitution.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which deficits have all of a sudden become the source of enormous anger among people who said nothing about them previously, as the tax cuts for the wealthy, off-budget wars based on lies, and unfunded prescription drug Big Pharma giveaway transmogrified the biggest surplus in American history into the biggest deficit ever.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which politicians can rant incessantly about other peoples' sexual morality, get caught screwing prostitutes, and then still be reelected to the highest ranks of government by trashing the president.

I could go on and on, but what would be the point? The positions of so many Americans on so many policy questions are truly inane - yes, for sure. I wish that was all that concerned me. But it all goes so much deeper than that.

The entire premise of a self-ruling democracy rests on some reasonable degree of rationality and some reasonable degree of an ability to discriminate between real information and falsehoods. Today's American democracy seems to lack these qualities in increasingly abundant amounts.

And yet it goes deeper than that still. The entire premise of a society - any society, democracy or not - is that it possesses a certain degree of shared community, a ‘we-ness' that transcends narrower tribalisms and self-interest in critical ways and at critical moments. That too has unraveled of late. Think of the nice white men with shotguns blocking the exit from flooded New Orleans during the worst moments of Hurricane Katrina.

Looking at America today, it all feels so very past tense to me.

why this editorial silence on peak oil?

Financial Times | Sir, Thrilled as I am to see the realities of oil supply creeping into the public domain, it's disappointing to see your editorial avoiding saying "peak oil" out loud ("Oil on the brain", September 18).

Five years ago we witnessed a collective failure to spot the credit crunch coming despite, with hindsight, obvious clues. What is the probability that, by 2014, we will be writing wise post-mortems on how we failed to spot the peak oil plateau until it was well behind us?

mind-sized hubbert

TODEurope | The bell shaped Hubbert curve is commonly observed when a non renewable, or slowly renewable, resource is exploited in a free market. But what is the origin of the curve? Ugo Bardi and Alessandro Lavacchi have recently published a simple "mind sized" model of the Hubbert behavior in "Energies" . Fat cows and lean cows are not included in the equations of the model, but come as a logical consequence of it.

Have you ever tried to tell a politician about peak oil? If you did, you know what happens. Supposing that he/she pays any attention to you, you'll immediately face at least two typical objections: if there is still oil underground, what is the problem? If the price is high enough, why should production decline? It is not easy to answer these questions in the 30 seconds which are the typical attention span of a politician. Failing to do that will make you look like a representative of one of those millenarian sects eagerly waiting for the end of the world. And the problem is not just with politicians; try to explain peak oil to your mother or to an economist. It is not easy.

Possibly, peak oil will always be beyond the intellectual capabilities of the average politician, but it is also true that there are plenty of intelligent people out there who are perfectly able to understand the concept. The problem is how do we explain it to them. And, if we have to explain it, we must understand it first. What is, exactly, that causes production peaks for oil and for other non renewable resources?

Monday, September 21, 2009

the aftermath of the great recession part I

ASPO | Today’s article is the first of a two-part series in which I attempt to forecast general economic conditions that will affect the oil market over the next 10 years. Despite Galbraith’s sensible warning, what we will experience in the aftermath of the Great Recession is not a complete mystery. Strong evidence suggests that during the next decade, the global economy will struggle to regain a sound footing supporting vigorous growth.

This article and the next mirror closely what I will say at ASPO-USA’s upcoming conference on October 10-13 in Denver, Colorado. I am moderating the “Great Recession and the Energy Markets” discussion. I will be joined by Eric Janszen, Adam Robinson, and author Kevin Phillips.

This is not necessarily the final version of my introductory remarks in Denver, but it is close enough. I am publishing these slides early to allow those attending the conference (or those who are not able to attend) to study the issues prior to the panel itself. There is probably more material here (and next week) than I will have time to present in Denver.

I can not cover the world in a short presentation. Therefore, most of my slides examine the economic prognosis for the United States and China. These countries can be viewed as a single entity called Chimerica. By and large, a resurgence in economic growth outside Chimerica (e.g. in Japan, the Eurozone, the other BRICs) is unlikely unless both the U.S. (the world’s largest economy) and China (the world’s largest emerging economy) are prospering.

I believe substantial, perhaps overwhelming, evidence exists that points toward a protracted global downturn like that experienced in Japan during the 1990s (and beyond) following the crash of their stock market and real estate bubbles of the mid to late 1980s.

chimerica


The American Interest | Is even the fastest growing of America’s rivals really a credible alternative to the United States? Rapidly though it is growing, China is bedeviled by three serious ailments: demographic imbalance, environmental degradation and political corruption. China’s military is not remotely ready to mount a serious challenge to American dominance in the Pacific. And, crucially, it is far from clear that China is ready to wean its manufacturing sector completely off the U.S. export market. After three years of very mild renminbi appreciation, the People’s Bank of China seems to be contemplating renewed intervention to keep the currency weak relative to the dollar. That means China will continue to sell renminbi for dollars, further enlarging its already large portfolio of U.S. bonds.

There is a paradox at the heart of this crisis. In many ways it is a crisis that has “Made in America” stamped all over it. Yet in the very worst moments of panic this fall, investors made it clear that they continue to regard U.S. government debt as a “safe haven” in uncertain times; hence the recent dollar rally. Huge though the costs of the current crisis may prove to be, there is a way of presenting them that may yet suffice to reassure the rest of the world that America can afford it. After all, the Federal debt in public hands remains equivalent to below 40 percent of U.S. GDP, a significantly lower figure than in many European economies or Japan. (The vastly larger unfunded liabilities of the Medicare and Social Security systems remain, fortunately, off balance sheet.)

Of course, this crisis could yet prove to be the safe haven’s last gasp, especially if Congress runs amok with supplementary bailouts and stimulus packages, and the international bond market finally writes the United States off as just another Latin American economy. There seemed very little awareness at the mid-November G-20 summit in Washington that uncoordinated interest rate cuts and stimulus packages could unleash a fresh bout of volatility in international currency and bond markets. The possibility remains, too, that the coming explosion of U.S. Federal debt could finally trigger the dreaded dollar rout, especially if the Chinese decide that the export game is up and their only hope is a policy of “market socialism in one country.” Yet this still seems a less likely scenario than a continuation of Chimerica.

True, the financial hubris of recent years has been followed by a terrible nemesis. The age of leverage has ended not with a whimper but a deafening bang. Nonetheless, it is much too early to conclude that in geopolitical terms the American century is over, or that China solo is about to take over from Chimerica. Power is always relative, and a crisis that hits the periphery of the global economy harder than the core must logically increase the power of the core. Nemesis, too, can be exported.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

a VERY wise latina....,

WSJ | In her maiden Supreme Court appearance last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a provocative comment that probed the foundations of corporate law.

During arguments in a campaign-finance case, the court's majority conservatives seemed persuaded that corporations have broad First Amendment rights and that recent precedents upholding limits on corporate political spending should be overruled.

But Justice Sotomayor suggested the majority might have it all wrong -- and that instead the court should reconsider the 19th century rulings that first afforded corporations the same rights flesh-and-blood people have.

Judges "created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons," she said. "There could be an argument made that that was the court's error to start with...[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics."

After a confirmation process that revealed little of her legal philosophy, the remark offered an early hint of the direction Justice Sotomayor might want to take the court.

"Progressives who think that corporations already have an unduly large influence on policy in the United States have to feel reassured that this was one of [her] first questions," said Douglas Kendall, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.

"I don't want to draw too much from one comment," says Todd Gaziano, director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. But it "doesn't give me a lot of confidence that she respects the corporate form and the type of rights that it should be afforded."

religiosity and teen birth rates

Reproductive Health | Background - The children of teen mothers have been reported to have higher rates of several unfavorable mental health outcomes. Past research suggests several possible mechanisms for an association between religiosity and teen birth rate in communities.

Methods
The present study compiled publicly accessible data on birth rates, conservative religious beliefs, income, and abortion rates in the U.S., aggregated at the state level. Data on teen birth rates and abortion originated from the Center for Disease Control; on income, from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and on religious beliefs, from the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey carried out by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. We computed correlations and partial correlations.

Results
Increased religiosity in residents of states in the U.S. strongly predicted a higher teen birth rate, with r = 0.73 (p<0.0005). Religiosity correlated negatively with median household income, with r = -0.66, and income correlated negatively with teen birth rate, with r = -0.63. But the correlation between religiosity and teen birth rate remained highly significant when income was controlled for via partial correlation: the partial correlation between religiosity and teen birth rate, controlling for income, was 0.53 (p<0.0005). Abortion rate correlated negatively with religiosity, with r=-0.45, p=0.002. However, the partial correlation between teen birth rate and religiosity remained high and significant when controlling for abortion rate (partial correlation=0.68, p<0.0005) and when controlling for both abortion rate and income (partial correlation=0.54, p=0.001).

Conclusions
With data aggregated at the state level, conservative religious beliefs strongly predict U.S. teen birth rates, in a relationship that does not appear to be the result of confounding by income or abortion rates. One possible explanation for this relationship is that teens in more religious communities may be less likely to use contraception. The complete article is available as a provisional PDF. The fully formatted PDF and HTML versions are in production.

predicament

Integral World | The authors think that, because all living beings alter their environment (which is, of course, true), every human work and artifact is "natural". Not so. From a darwinian perspective, „natural“ is only what is evolutionary-tested or what is tested by natural selection in the eons of evolutionary time. For example, a beaver's dam is „natural“ not because it's part of nature (everything is, so „natural“ and this is a pleonasm) but because it's an evolutionary-tested artifact which has its root in the beaver's genetic heritage; an ant-city is likewise natural, etc. But a human dam or human city is surely not natural in the sense that they are rooted in our evolutionary past or that they are part of our genetic heritage.

This is the reason why a beaver's dam or ant-city is not problematic (ecologically or for the beaver's and ant's well-being, quite the opposite) in difference from a human dam or city. Industrial technology is unnatural not because it's technology – there is technology in hunter-gatherer society as well – but because it's part of industrial society, the most unnatural (that is, with the biggest adaptive gulf) social order in human history ever. Acknowledgement of the theory of bio-social discontinuity – perhaps through a better familiarity with Shepard's theory – could be helpful here.

All human behaviour is, in some sense, „regressive“ and „atavistic“ because it's all about the satisfaction of fundamental (genetic) needs, or, if that isn't possible (because humans live in an unnatural social environment), about finding substitutes. These substitutes can be the accumulation of political and economic power over other people and nature, consumerism or the construction of some collective illusion, like transcendental (celestial) beings, „historical progress“ or something else. I wrote about that in detail in a previous article "Limits of Spiritual Enlightenment" (Markus 2009a).

For the authors, ecological values depend on „higher moral development“ or „ecological consciousness“. But hunter-gatherers have no „ecological consciousness (in the contemporary sense, at least) and they are presumably in the lowest level of (spiritual and material) „development“… but nevertheless they have the best ecological balance – from a clean and wild environment to long-term sustainability – of all human societies. And quite the opposite: industrial society – with the „highest level of development“ and the most „ecological consciousness – have the worst ecological balance. How is that possible?

Friday, September 18, 2009

sec trys to ban goldman-sachs preferred mode of stealing

Reuters | U.S. securities regulators proposed on Thursday a ban on flash orders that stock exchanges send to a select group of traders, fractions of a second before revealing them publicly.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking to end the practice criticized for giving an unfair advantage to some market participants who have lightning-fast computer trading software.

Nasdaq OMX's (NDAQ.O) Nasdaq Stock Market and privately-held BATS Exchange recently canceled their flash services that disclosed buy and sell orders to specific trading firms before sending them to the wider market.

NYSE Euronext's (NYX.N) New York Stock Exchange did not adopt the flashes under scrutiny but major alternative venue Direct Edge still offers flashes.

The SEC will put its proposal out for public comment for 60 days, and will later schedule a meeting to decide whether to adopt the proposal.

The agency said it will seek feedback on on the cost and benefits of the proposed ban, and whether the use of flash orders in options markets should be evaluated differently from those in equity markets.

Don't you wish you were Goldman-Sachs and could just get away with naked hacking and pillaging? But wait, instead of having all your crew get snatched off of Wall Street for a 6:00PM televised perp walk, all that happens to you is that the SEC simply attempts to ban one of your core criminal enterprises after you've clocked $100 Million/Day profits for months, and months, and months?

rare earth....,

Afghanistan Geological Survey | "In Afghanistan rare metals (lithium, caesium, tantalum and niobium) occur in three main deposit types: pegmatites, mineralised springs and playa-lake sediments" "Globally, rare metals are produced from deposits in these three settings, chiefly in Chile, Argentina, the USA and Turkey. ..

Lithium has many uses, for example in batteries, in the glass and ceramics industry, and in high performance alloys for aircraft. Most tantalum is used to produce capacitors that are used in laptop computers, mobile phones and digital cameras. Niobium is primarily used in specialist steels although it also shares some uses with tantalum since it has almost identical chemical properties.

Conclusions and potential

Afghanistan has considerable resources of rare metals in pegmatites, mineralised springs and lake-sediment salts. No systematic modern exploration has been carried out since the withdrawal of Soviet forces and many of the known localities warrant further investigation and exploration based on modern mineral deposit models and techniques."
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In the unlikely - though possible event - that there was any confusion concerning why I deemed this article post-worthy
China mines over 95pc of the world’s rare earth minerals, mostly in Inner Mongolia. The move to hoard reserves is the clearest sign to date that the global struggle for diminishing resources is shifting into a new phase. Countries may find it hard to obtain key materials at any price.
Resource nationalism and piracy are topics worthy of a little extra vigilance.

cascade-based attack vulnerability on the US power grid


ComputerWorld | The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is looking at a report by a research scientist in China that shows how a well-placed attack against a small power subnetwork could trigger a cascading failure of the entire West Coast power grid.

Jian-Wei Wang, a network analyst at China's Dalian University of Technology, used publicly available information to model how the West Coast power grid and its component subnetworks are connected. Wang and another colleague then investigated how a major outage in one subnetwork would affect adjacent subnetworks, according to an article in New Scientist.

The aim of the research was to study potential weak spots on the West Coast grid, where an outage on one subnetwork would result in a cascading failure across the entire network. A cascading failure occurs when an outage on one network results in an adjacent network becoming overloaded, triggering a similar set of failures across the entire network. The massive blackouts in the Northeast in August 2003, which affected about 50 million people, were the result of such a cascading failure.

Wang's research was expected to show that an outage in a heavily loaded network would result in smaller surrounding networks becoming overwhelmed and causing cascading blackouts. Instead, what the research showed was that under certain conditions, an attacker targeting a lightly loaded subnetwork would be able to cause far more of the grid to trip and fail, New Scientist reported, quoting Wang. The article does not describe Wang's research (paid subscription required) or any further details of the attack.

Wang did not reply to an e-mailed request for comment seeking details on the report.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

woman gives BoA the finger....,


Huffington Post | For years, Ann Minch of Red Bluff, Calif., has carried a balance of several thousand dollars on her Bank of America credit card, making minimum monthly payments of about $130, sometimes paying an extra $50 or $100. She says she's never missed a payment.

Bank of America rewarded her loyalty this year by repeatedly raising her interest rate, which reached 30 percent in July.

Fed up, the 46-year-old stepmother of two turned to YouTube.

"There comes a time when a person must be willing to sacrifice in order to take a stand for what's right," said Minch in a Sept. 8 webcam video. "Now, this is one of those times, and if I'm successful this will be the proverbial first shot fired in an American debtors' revolution against the usury and plunder perpetrated by the banking elite, the Federal Reserve and the federal government."

Minch announced that she'd be dumping Bank of America, refusing to pay off her credit card debt unless she was offered a lower rate. She explained that she'd been a reliable customer even though she'd lost her job as a mental health case manager. She said bank reps refused to negotiate her interest rate when she called them to complain a few weeks ago.

"You are evil, thieving bastards," she said in her video. "Stick that in your bailout pipe and smoke it."

The video made a splash online, getting links from all kinds of venues and garnering over 96,000 views as of Monday morning.

Minch told the Huffington Post she fulfilled part of her threat on Saturday, when she went to her local BofA branch and closed out her checking and savings accounts. She took her money (around $5,000, she said) and put in a local community bank.