Sunday, April 10, 2011

why glenn beck's ghetto pass was revoked...,

Video - Glenn Beck hosts G. Edward Griffin on the Fed.

WaPo |On Friday, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent, as businesses added jobs for the 13th straight month.

On Wednesday, Fox News announced that it was ending Glenn Beck’s daily cable-TV show

These are not unrelated events.

When Beck’s show made its debut on Fox News Channel in January 2009, the nation was in the throes of an economic collapse the likes of which had not been seen since the 1930s. Beck’s angry broadcasts about the nation’s imminent doom perfectly rode the wave of fear that had washed across the nation, and the relatively unknown entertainer suddenly had 3 million viewers a night — and tens of thousands answering his call to rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

But as the recession began to ease, Beck’s apocalyptic forecasts and ominous conspiracies became less persuasive, and his audience began to drift away. Beck responded with a doubling-down that ultimately brought about his demise on Fox.

He pushed further into dark conspiracies, urging his viewers to hoard food in their homes and to buy freeze-dried meals for sustenance when civilization breaks down. He spun a conspiracy theory in which the American left was in cahoots with an emerging caliphate in the Middle East. And, most ominously, he began to traffic regularly in anti-Semitic themes.

This vile turn for Beck reached its logical extreme two weeks ago, when he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.”

Griffin’s Web site dabbles in a variety of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including his view that “present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order.”

A month earlier, Beck, on his radio program, had described Reform rabbis as “generally political in nature,” adding: “It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way.”

A few months before that, he had attacked the Jewish billionaire George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, as a “puppet master” and read descriptions of him as an “unscrupulous profiteer” who “sucks the blood from people.” Beck falsely called Soros “a collaborator” with Nazis who “saw people into the gas chambers.”

Fox deserves credit for finally putting an end to this. Its joint statement with Beck’s production company, claiming that they will “work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects,” is almost certainly window-dressing; you can be confident Fox won’t have Beck reopening what his Fox News colleague Shepard Smith dubbed the “fear chamber.”

In banishing Beck, about whom I wrote a critical book last year, Fox has made an important distinction: It’s one thing to promote partisan journalism, but it’s entirely different to engage in race baiting and fringe conspiracy claims. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity may have their excesses, but their mainstream conservatism is in an entirely different category from Beck.

Fox has rightly, if belatedly, declared that there is no place for Beck’s messages on its airwaves, and Beck will return to the fringes, where such ideas have always existed. Because his end-of-the-world themes will no longer be broadcast by a mainstream outlet, there will be less of a chance for him to inspire off-balance characters to violence.

world banks run on cocaine cash?


Video - Max Keiser says anglo-american banks are run on cocaine profits.

what history looks like in mexico

Narconews | Yesterday, multitudes took to the streets in more than 40 Mexican cities - and in protests by Mexicans and their friends at consulates and embassies in Europe, North America and South America - to demand an end to the violence wrought by the US-imposed "war on drugs."

What? You haven't heard about this? Or if you have heard something about it, did you know that it is the biggest news story in the Mexican media, on the front page of virtually every daily newspaper in the country?

A sea change has occurred in Mexican public opinion. The people have turned definitively against the use of the Mexican Army to combat against drug traffickers. The cry from every city square yesterday was for the Army to return to its barracks and go back to doing the job it was formed to do; protect Mexico from foreign invasion and provide human aid relief in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Since President Felipe Calderón unleashed the Armed Forces, four years ago, to combat drug trafficking organizations, the violence between it and the competing narco organizations has led to a daily body count, widespread human rights abuses against civilians, and more than 40,000 deaths, so many of them of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire and used by all sides in the armed conflict that still has no winners, that never will have any winner.

A fast moving series of events that began on March 28 have converged to usher Mexico into its very own "Arab spring." And it began just outside "the City of Eternal Spring," Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, about an hour south of Mexico City. Narco News has been covering these events for the past week (sadly, we are so far the only English-language media to do so at each step of the story, even as it has huge consequences for United States drug policy not only in Mexico but throughout the world and at home). On that date, in the town of Temixco, seven young men were assassinated. These were kids with jobs, who went to school, model kids, not criminals. And one of those kids, Juan Francisco Silvia, was the son of a nationally respected journalist and poet, Javier Sicilia, of Cuernavaca.

In a week, the soft spoken, increasingly beloved, intellectual has become the national vessel through which millions of voices now demand: End the war on drugs.

We translated Javier's Open Letter to Mexico's Politicians and Criminals this week, and penned what is our third editorial in eleven years to provide you with context and background to understand the magnitude of what he has unearthed. Yesterday we translated his statements calling for the legalization of drugs to restore peace and dignity to Mexico, and then we headed out to report the marches that this increasingly and deservedly beloved man called for to happen only days ago. We had reporters with Sicilia in his city of Cuernavaca, in Mexico City, and correspondents in numerous other Mexican and international locations, and over the course of the day I will be adding photos and more information about what happened to this page as updates.

Truth is that so much has happened in a day that processing it all tends to overwhelm. Last night, returning from the marches, ten reporters, photographers and video makers (all students or professors at the School of Authentic Journalism) met to compare notes. Everyone was so shaken - I mean that in the best possible way - by what we had seen and heard, and wanted to talk about it, to understand what exactly is happening here on the other side of the US border.

before things got chaotic in tunisia.....,

Telegraph | Islamic investment bank Gulf Finance House (GFH) and the Tunisian government have created the first offshore finance centre in North Africa. The centre will be part of Tunis Financial Harbour, a $3 billion (£2 billion) waterfront development in Raoued North, Tunis which is expected to create around 16,000 jobs for the Tunisian economy.

GFH, which is based in Bahrain, hopes that the centre will allow Tunisia to take advantage of its strategic position on the Mediterranean sea, and operate as a bridge between the EU and the rapidly growing economies of North Africa.

Esam Janahi, executive chairman of GFH said: “Tunis Financial Harbour will be North Africa’s first offshore financial services centre. Tunisia’s strategic location means that it is the natural base for a financial services hub to cater for the growing demand for financial products and services created by the growth of not only the Tunisian economy but also African economies and international investment flows into the country.”

Taoufik Baccar, governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia, added that the country has “a clear strategy of establishing Tunis as a leading regional financial services centre.”

Tunisia has undergone increasing economic liberalization over the last decade, after a long perod of strict state control. In the 2010-2011 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, it was ranked as the most competitive country in Africa, as well as the 32nd most economically competitive country globally.

state owned central bank of china

Wikipedia | The People's Bank of China (PBC or PBOC) is the central bank of the People's Republic of China with the power to control monetary policy and regulate financial institutions in mainland China. The People’s Bank of China has more financial assets than any other single public finance institution in world history.

The bank was established on December 1, 1948 based on the consolidation of the Huabei Bank, the Beihai Bank and the Xibei Farmer Bank. The headquarters was first located in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, and then moved to Beijing in 1949. Between 1949 and 1978 the PBC was the only bank in the People's Republic of China and was responsible for both central banking and commercial banking operations.

In the 1980s, as part of economic reform, the commercial banking functions of the PBC were split off into four independent but state-owned banks and in 1983, the State Council promulgated that the PBC would function as the central bank of China. Mr. Chen Yuan was instrumental in modernizing the bank in the early 1990's. Its central bank status was legally confirmed on March 18, 1995 by the 3rd Plenum of the 8th National People's Congress. In 1998, the PBC underwent a major restructuring. All provincial and local branches were abolished, and the PBC opened nine regional branches, whose boundaries did not correspond to local administrative boundaries. In 2003, the Standing Committee of the Tenth National People's Congress approved an amendment law for strengthening the role of PBC in the making and implementation of monetary policy for safeguarding the overall financial stability and provision of financial services.

state owned central bank of libya

Wikipedia | The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) is 100% state owned and represents the monetary authority in The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and enjoys the status of autonomous corporate body. The law establishing the CBL stipulates that the objectives of the central bank shall be to maintain monetary stability in Libya , and to promote the sustained growth of the economy in accordance with the general economic policy of the state.

The headquarter of the Central Bank is in Tripoli. However, to make the CBL services more accessible to commercial banks branches and public departments located far from the headquarter, the CBL has three branches located in Benghazi , Sebha and Sirte.

The CBL started its operations on April 1, 1956 to replace the Libyan Currency committee which was established by the UN and other supervising countries in 1951 to ensure the well being of the Weak and poor Libyan economy. The primary aims of the Libyan Currency committee were to assist Libya in creating a unified currency in all four provinces.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

occult bedrock of the western world


Video - Dr. Jay Kennedy on The Plato Code.

dreams reveal our body's cares

ChinaDaily | A pioneering traditional Chinese medicine doctor suggests that dreams can be early warning signs of physical problems. Ye Jun delves deeper.

For 10 years, retiree Li Rong had a recurrent nightmare, in which she fell into a countryside squat toilet and was unable to get out. "It certainly wasn't a dream of blooming flowers or a flowing stream and it didn't feel good," says the 49-year-old former laborer from Beijing.

Determined to find the reason behind this disturbing nightmare, she consulted with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Dr Liu Jie, at the Yu Yuan Tang Clinic in Beijing.

Liu's explanation was nothing like the traditional interpretation of dreams offered by psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, whose explanations were usually rooted in the subconscious.

"The toilet hole in her dream refers to the colon," Liu says. "The fact she couldn't move in the hole corresponds to the dachangshu, an acupuncture point in the back, or the second lumbar, which is close to the colon."

Liu checked Li's back to confirm his suspicion and found the third lumbar of the vertebra was out of alignment. After he corrected it, Li's nightmare was over.

The 43-year-old Liu is licensed to prescribe herbal medicine, but his specialty is structural adjustment of the body. Over the past two years, he has discovered a fascinating link between his patients' dreams and structural problems related to his patients' bodies. He is now able to use dream analysis to help with diagnosis and treatment.

"The simplest link between dreams and the body is a similarity in shape," Liu says. "For example, if you dream of an overpass, it could correspond to the colon because they have a similar structure."

Dreams reveal our body's cares

Likewise, dreaming of a ditch may refer to the ureter; while a pond or small lake indicates the bladder. Dreaming of the sky or clouds could refer to the lungs (air); while mountain climbing could suggest a problem with the back. If there are stairs on the mountain it is more likely to indicate a spinal dysfunction.

Liu's first dream interpretation was in January 2009. Roy Chen, a 37-year-old who works for an educational NGO helping orphans in Guangzhou, told the doctor about his dream when he was having acupuncture treatment.

Chen dreamed he was sitting in an empty subway carriage, when he discovered two lost bags on the ground, one of them red. He opened one of the bags and saw an ID card bearing his name.

Liu's interpretation suggested the subway carriage related to Chen's intestines, as they both move around in an empty space. He said the big bag referred to the stomach while the small bag was the spleen. Because the bigger bag was red, Liu reasoned there could be excessive heat in Chen's stomach.

After confirming this by taking Chen's pulse, Liu prescribed medicines to dispel the excessive heat and the acne on Chen's chin disappeared.

Liu then started recording his patients' dreams and currently has a record of more than 80, with interpretations, which he has uploaded on to his blog.

"Dreams are generally defined as conscious or unconscious brainwave activity," Liu says. "As a TCM doctor, I see some dreams as a reflection of the movement of qi, or energy, in the body, on the conscious level.

"The body has a self-checking and self-correcting system that works all the time. During the day people are too occupied to notice. But in the evening these energy changes in the body can manifest themselves as dreams."

the body of myth


Video - Thinking Allowed interview of J. Nigro Sansonese

GoogleBook | The thesis of this book is that the "body of myth" is the physical body as perceived by yogis during yogic trance (samadhi). Proprioception (the "white noise" of the senses idling in the absence of external sensory input) on various anatomical regions, including the senses themselves or other bodily regions, gave rise to an esoteric body of description of interior states experienced during samadhi. These descriptions constitute the stuff of mythology. Thus, the Greek assault upon the very door of Troy represents proprioception on the skull's fissure located at the position of the third eye, the assault being the yogi's breath internally stimulating the fissure during pranayama. The work is interesting, extremely well-grounded in its familiarity with Greek mythology and Patanjali yoga, and is exemplary in its lived scholarship. Like Mircea Eliade, the author is no mere book-bound "scholar" but lives and breathes in these topics. Examples abound--but that is part of the problem. First, although all the myths discussed are capitalized (e.g., the ASSAULT ON TROY), there is nowhere a glossary summarizing these tales for the mythologically challenged. Second, like Darwin, the author argues geologically, adducing scores of examples, layer piled upon layer, that not so much convince as cause conformity from sheer pressure and the weight of example. The thesis would gain empirical support were it discovered that the ancient Greeks were familiar with yogic practices. But nothing like that is known (and is certainly unlikely prior to Alexander's 4th c. BCE Indian campaign). And the Eleusian Mysteries--the major Greek esoteric tradition--remain just that, mysteries. True, it is difficult to prove *any* thesis in *any* literary criticism, because ancient texts do not fully speak to the praxis (which was trasmitted experientially) and because texts, like the gods, are multivalent. Still, an interesting read....

Friday, April 08, 2011

thorough analysis of the scope creep...,


Video - Thorough analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi scope creep.

true shame vs smug sociopath contempt


Video - TEPCO official expresses genuine shame.


Video - Tony Hayward's "apology" for the BP gulf oil disaster.

the japanese economy is in very dire straits

EconomicCollapse | Now that nearly a month has gone by since the horrific tsunami in Japan on March 11th, it is starting to become clear just how much economic damage has been done. The truth is that the Japanese economy is in much bigger trouble than most people think. This is almost certainly going to be the most expensive disaster in Japanese history. The tsunami that struck Japan on March 11th swept up to 6 miles inland, destroying virtually everything in the way. Thousands upon thousands of Japanese were killed and entire cities were wiped off the map. Yes, Japan is a resilient nation, but exactly how does a nation that is already drowning in debt replace dozens of cities and towns that are suddenly gone? The truth is that thousands of square miles have been more completely destroyed than if they had been bombed by a foreign military force. The loss of homes, cars, businesses and personal wealth is almost unimaginable. It is going to take many years to rebuild the roads, bridges, rail systems, ports, power lines and water systems that were lost. Nobody is quite sure when the rolling blackouts are going to end, and nobody is quite sure when all of the damaged manufacturing facilities are going to be fully brought back online.

The truth is that this is a complete and total economic disaster.

The Japanese economy is not going to be the same for many years to come. In fact, many are now warning that this could be one of the triggers that could lead to another major global financial crisis.

One of the big fears is that Japan will need to sell off a large amount of U.S. Treasuries to fund the rebuilding of that nation.

If that were to happen, it could result in a "liquidity crisis" similar to what we saw in 2008. Already the rest of the world is really starting to lose confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries, and if Japan starts massively dumping U.S. government debt things could get out of control fairly quickly.

In any event, it is undeniable that the Japanese economy has been absolutely devastated by this crisis. In fact, when you combine the tsunami and the nuclear crisis, this could be the biggest economic disaster that any major industrial power has faced since World War 2.

So will the crisis in Japan push the rest of the globe into another major recession?

yesterday would have been a good day to leave japan...,

Thursday, April 07, 2011

japan's peak oil dry run

OurWorld | Each Monday for the next few weeks, in light of the recent triple disaster, our new Transition Japan series will consider the challenges faced by Japan in dealing with climate change, peak oil, food security and biodiversity loss. In today’s first installment, Brendan Barrett takes a look at how Japan’s post-tsunami response might help us to respond to peak oil.

For large parts of eastern Japan that were not directly hit by the tsunami on 11 March 2011, including the nation’s capital, the current state of affairs feels very much like a dry-run for peak oil. This is not to belittle the tragic loss of life and the dire situation facing many survivors left without homes and livelihoods. Rather, the aim here is to reflect upon the post-disaster events and compare them with those normally associated with the worst-case scenarios for peak oil.

The earthquake and tsunami affected six of the 28 oil refineries in Japan and immediately petrol rationing was introduced with a maximum of 20 litres per car (in some instances as low as 5 litres). On 14 March, the government allowed the oil industry to release 3 days’ worth of oil from stockpiles and on 22 March an additional 22 days’ worth of oil was released.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which serves a population of 44.5 million, lost one quarter of its supply capacity as a result of the quake, through the closedown of its two Fukushima nuclear power plants (Dai-ichi and Dai-ni), as well as eight fossil fuel based thermal power stations. Subsequently, from 14 March 2011 onwards, TEPCO was forced to implement a series of scheduled outages across the Kanto region (the prefectures of Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa).

While the thermal power stations may restart operations soon, the overall shortfall will become even more difficult to manage over the summer period when air conditioning is utilized. The reality is that these power cuts could continue for years, especially since the one of the two Fukushima nuclear plants has effectively become a pile of radioactive scrap.

Related to this, when the Tokyo Metropolitican Government began to announce levels of radioactive contamination of drinking water above permissible levels, this was immediately followed by the rapid sell-out of bottled water, even after the levels dropped again. When bottled water is on sale in local convenience stores after some restocking took place, each customer is only allowed to purchase one 2 litre bottle.

Immediately after the quake, supermarkets outside the disaster area in Tokyo and other major cities began to sell out of foodstuffs, including various instant meals. The electrical appliance stores sold out of batteries, flashlights and portable radios.

As we all know, the twin natural and human tragedies are having impacts beyond the Tohoku region where Fukushima lies, and the Greater Tokyo area. It has been difficult for Japan’s notoriously efficient industries to maintain production, given that they rely on just-in-time systems and which have supply plants (for needed parts) that are located in the zone impacted by these combined disasters. One example is in car production, where major firms have had to suspend work at their factories when key parts are no longer available from the affected region. The fragility of this system of industrial production is glaringly obvious and it is something that peak oil commentators have warned of multiple times.

These food and bottled water shortages, power cuts, fuel-rationing and breakdowns in just-in-time manufacturing have been anticipated by those who take peak oil seriously. It is almost as if eastern Japan is experiencing a peak oil rehearsal, although other regions of Japan are virtually unaffected. If proponents of peak oil are correct, then the rest of the world may experience something similar within the next 5 to 10 years, and hence it is important that we learn valuable lessons from Japan’s response to the current circumstances.

what we can learn from japan about sustainability


Video - Part (1/6) documentary history of the Edo period.

Cassandralegacy | what I would like to do today is to discuss what we can learn from Japan in terms of sustainability.

So, let me start with something about the history of Japan. You surely know of the early "Heian" or "Imperial" period that started long ago; it was the "classical" period of Japanese history. Then, the Heian age gave way to a period of civil wars; the sengoku jidai, the period of the Samurai. Many movies have shown it as a romantic age, but I am sure the people who lived in it didn't find it very romantic; it was a period of continuous wars and it must have been very hard for everyone. Anyway, that historical phase was over when Tokugawa Ieyasu emerged as the winner of the struggle and he became the shogun, the ruler of all Japan. That was around the year 1600 and it started the "Edo" period which was much quieter. The Edo period lasted until Commodore Perry arrived with his "black ships" in mid 19th century and that started the modern period.

Now, the two centuries and a half of the Edo Period are very interesting in terms of sustainability. It was not just a period of peace; it was also a period of stable economy and of stable population. Actually, that is not completely true, population increasing during the first part of the Edo period, but when it arrived to about 30 million, it stayed nearly constant for almost two centuries. I don't know of another society in history that managed such a period of stability. It was an example of what we call today "steady state" economy.

The reason why most societies can't manage to reach a steady state is because it is very easy to overexploit the environment. It is not something that has to do just with fossil fuels. It is typical of agricultural societies, too. Cut too many trees and the fertile soil will be washed away by rain. And then, without fertile soil to cultivate, people starve. The result is collapse - a common feature of most civilizations of the past. Jared Diamond wrote about that in a book of a few years ago; titled, indeed "Collapse".

Now, there is an interesting point that Diamond makes about islands. On islands, he says, people have limited resources - much more limited than on continents - and their options are limited. When you run out of resources, say, of fertile soil, you can't migrate and you can't attack your neighbors to get resources from them. So, you can only adapt or die. Diamond cites several cases of small islands in the Pacific Ocean where adaptation was very difficult and the results have been dramatic, such as in the case of Easter Island. In some really small islands, adaptation was so difficult that the human population simply disappeared. Everybody died and that was it.

And that brings us to the case of Japan; an island, of course, although a big one. But some of the problems with resources must have been the same as in all islands. Japan doesn't have much in terms of natural resources. A lot of rain; mostly, but little else and rain can do a lot of damage if forests are not managed well. And, of course, space is limited in Japan and that means that there is a limit to population; at least as long as they have to rely only on local resources. So, I think that at some point in history the Japanese had reached the limit of what they could do with the space they had. Of course, it took time; the cycle was much longer than for a small island such as Easter Island. But it may well be the civil wars were a consequence of the Japanese society having reached a limit. When there is not enough for everyone, people tend to fight but that, of course, is not the way to manage scant resources. So, at some point the Japanese had to stop fighting, they had to adapt or die - and they adapted to the resources they had. That was the start of the Edo period.

In order to attain steady state, the Japanese had to manage well their resources and avoid wasting them. One thing they did was to get rid of the armies of the warring period. War is just too expensive for a steady state society. Then, they made big effort to maintain and increase their forests. You can read something on this point in Diamond's book. Coal from Kyushu may have helped a little in saving trees, but coal alone would not have been enough - it was the management of forests that did the trick. Forests were managed to the level of single trees by the government; a remarkable feat. Finally, the Japanese managed to control population. That was possibly the hardest part in an age when there were no contraceptives. From what I read, I understand that the poor had to use mainly infanticide and that must have been very hard for the Japanese, as it would be for us today. But the consequences of letting population grow unchecked would have been terrible; so they had to.

We tend to see a steady state economy as something very similar to our society, only a bit quieter. But Edo Japan was very different. Surely it was not paradise on earth. It was a highly regulated and hierarchical society where it would have been hard to find - perhaps even to imagine - such things as "democracy" or "human rights". Nevertheless, the Edo period was a remarkable achievement; a highly refined and cultured society. A society of craftsmen, poets, artists and philosophers. It created some of the artistic treasures we still admire today; from the katana sword to Basho's poetry.

So, the Japanese succeeded in creating a a highly refined society that managed to exist in a steady state for more than two centuries. I think there is no comparable case in history. Why did Japan succeed where many other societies in history had failed? Well, I think that being an island was a major advantage. It shielded (mostly) Japan from the ambitions of their neighbors and also from the temptation that the Japanese might have had to invade their neighbors. And if you are not so terribly afraid of being invaded (and you have no intention of invading anyone) then you have no reason to have a big army and so no reason to increase population. You can concentrate on sustainability and on managing what you have. Then, of course, when Commodore Perry and his black ships arrived Japan was not an island any more; in the sense that it was not any longer isolated from the rest of the world. So growth restarted. But, as long as Japan remained isolated, the economy remained in steady state and, as I said, it was a remarkable achievement.

But I don't think that the fact of being an island explains everything about the Edo period. I think, that it would not have been possible without a certain degree of wisdom. Or, perhaps, a more correct term in this case is "sapience."

toyota north america plant shutdowns pending...,

Kansas City | Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday that it's inevitable that the company will be forced to temporarily shut down all of its North American factories because of parts shortages due to the earthquake that hit Japan.

The temporary shutdowns are likely to take place later this month, affecting 25,000 workers, but no layoffs are expected, spokesman Mike Goss said. Just how long the shutdowns last or whether all 13 of Toyota's factories will be affected at the same is unknown and depends on when parts production can restart in Japan, he said.

So far the North American plants have been using parts in their inventory or relying on those that were shipped before the earthquake, Goss noted. But those supplies are running low.

"We're going to get to a point this month where that gap in the pipeline starts to show up. So we'll have to suspend production for a while," he said.

A March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged auto parts plants in Northeastern Japan, causing shortages that idled most of the nation's car production. Japan's daily auto output has fallen by more than 500,000 vehicles since the disaster, says Scotiabank Senior Economist Carlos Gomes. Some manufacturers are bringing plants back on line, but only at low speeds due to a lack of parts.

Shortages of parts from Japan are also affecting manufacturers outside the country. Just last week, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. said that several North American plants would be closed for part of this month, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said his company will see disruptions.

Toyota only gets about 15 percent of its parts from Japan for cars and trucks built in North America, "but still you have to have them all to build the vehicles," Goss said.

alternatives to absurdity


Video - Hon.Bro.Preznit talking for 47 minutes on energy, and saying nothing.

Archdruid | The crowning bit of unintentional satire in recent news came from the White House. It’s a subtle joke, and one that seems to have gone over the heads of most of its listeners, but that’s one of the risks run by truly inspired humor. The comic routine in question, of course, was President Obama’s speech on energy policy last Wednesday.

More precisely, Obama’s speech outlined an energy nonpolicy. He seems to have had his speechwriters scrape up every cliché from every speech on energy policy made by every other resident of the White House since Richard Nixon, and the result was very nearly a nonspeech about his nonpolicy: a sort of verbal pantomime, in which Obama pretended to be doing something about energy in much the same way a mime pretends to be trapped inside a phone booth. He proposed, in effect, that the energy policy of the United States should include all the same things it’s included for the last thirty years, under the pretense that this is something new, and in the serene conviction that the same policy choices that backed us into our present corner will somehow succeed in getting us out of it.

What made Obama’s nonpolicy nonspeech such a bravura performance, though, was the easy grace with which it avoided mentioning any of the policy options that might actually do some good. The words “conservation” and “efficiency” appeared in the text only in reference to shiny new products that use up one set of resources to conserve another, and the only comments about solar energy referred to exactly the sort of complex, centralized approach that’s consistently proven uneconomical since the 1870s; mature, off-the-shelf technologies such as solar water heating and passive solar space heating, which could slice good-sized collops off our national energy use in a hurry, were never mentioned. None of the sensible steps that reduced US energy use by 15% between 1975 and 1985 had a place in Obama’s nonplan.

Mind you, Obama was quite right to suggest that America can cut its dependence on foreign oil by 30% by 2025. In fact, America will cut its dependence on foreign oil by at least 30%, and probably quite a bit more, by 2025; it’s just that the cut in question is not going to be made by any choice of ours, much less as a result of any of the fancy technological ventures Obama spent his speech promoting. It will be made because faltering oil production, rising competition for the oil that remains, and the decline of American imperial power compared to its emerging rivals, will slice a shrinking pie in new and, for Americans, distinctly unwelcome ways.

As that happens, the approaches ignored by Obama – and, to be fair, by the rest of today’s US political establishment, on both sides of the increasingly irrelevant divide between the major parties – are going to be among the very few options open to individuals in America and elsewhere who hope to ride the curve of energy decline to something like a soft landing. One example, which I’d like to explore in detail here, is the use of passive solar retrofits for domestic space heating.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

blowing green smoke...,

Kunstler | Blame Steven Chu, then, because when it comes to America's energy predicament, the president has been woefully misinformed. Mr. Obama pawned off a roster of notions and proposals already product-tested in the public meme-o-sphere. Almost everyone of these ideas is inconsistent with reality, based on faulty premises, or represents some kind of magical thinking. What they have in common is that they're ideas the public wants to hear, whether they are truthful or not, because we don't want to change the way we live.

The central idea in Mr. Obama's speech is that we will reduce our oil imports by one-third in a decade. This is a gross distortion of reality. The truth is that our oil imports will be reduced automatically, whether we like it or not. The process is already underway. The nations that export oil to us are using much more of their own oil even while their supplies have passed peak production and entered depletion. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico have some of the highest population growth-rates in the world. They sell gasoline to their own people for less than a dollar a gallon. At the same time China and India are driving more cars and importing a lot more of the world's declining supply. (China has perhaps the equivalent of a four-year supply of its own oil in the ground, and India has next-to-zero oil of its own).

One meme circulating around the Web these days is that the USA has the equivalent of "three Saudi Arabias" in the shale oil fields of North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. That is not true. A lot of this magical thinking focuses on the Bakken fields of Dakota. We're currently producing less than 400,000 barrels a day out of Bakken and the projected maximum ten years from now is around 800,000. We use 20 million barrels a day in the US running suburbia, Wal Mart, and the US military. By the way, Bakken shale oil requires extensive rock fracturing operations - "fracking" - which means a lot of horizontal drilling, which means a lot of steel pipe. It is not just a matter of sticking a steel straw in the ground like we did in Texas in 1932.

Note: much of the shale "oil" in other western states is not actually oil. It is kerogen, an organic precursor to oil, in effect organic polymers that have not been subjected to enough heat and pressure to turn into oil. If you want to turn it into oil, you have to cook it - which takes energy! That's after the mining operation to scoop it out of the ground. That takes energy too. Or, you can send machinery into the ground and cook it in place. That takes energy, too. We are not going to get oil out of there anytime soon - and perhaps never.

The "drill drill drill" gang is under the impression that North America has vast unexplored regions where oil is just begging to be discovered. This is not true. The New York Times reported after Obama's speech - in a disgracefully dumb story by Clifford Krauss - that the eastern Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast contain 3.8 billion barrels of oil. Really? Hello! The US uses over 7 billion barrels of oil every year. Does the Arctic National Wildlife refuge contain between 4 and 11 billion barrels (US gov estimate)? Great, that averages out to about a year or so of US supply. And I'm not even against drilling there, only against the idea that it represents a meaningful "solution" to our problem.

Meanwhile, the old standby Alaskan oil fields at Prudhoe Bay are depleting so remorselessly that there may not be enough flow in a year or so to move the oil through the famous pipeline.

How about Canada's tar sands? Well, first of all, they belong to Canada, not us, unless we want to change that - and that could be politically messy. The tar sands will never produce more than 3 million barrels a day. The operations are already too huge, costly, and damaging to the northern watershed. Canada is our number one source of imported oil, but China would also like to buy Canadian oil. Are we planning to invoke the Monroe Doctrine to prevent Canada from selling its oil to parties outside the Western Hemisphere? That could be messy, too.

obama will lose in 2012

OfTwoMinds | There is nothing remotely ideological or personal in my prediction that President Obama will lose the 2012 election. Both parties are equally out of touch with reality in my view, and both suppport the same things: a global Empire, an increasingly intrusive Savior State, a shadow banking system which is no longer under the control of State institutions (rather, the banks control the institutions), and various crony-capitalist cartels which fund political campaigns and partner with the Central State's bloated, unaccountable fiefdoms. The only visible difference between the two parties is slight variations in the relative growth rates of the most-favored cartels and fiefdoms.

President Obama seems like a nice guy. Many people said the same thing about George W. Bush. While a likeable personality is a plus in a media-obsessed society, American elections boil down to this: Americans vote their pocketbook, and their pocketbooks will be a lot lighter by November 2012.

President Obama has several key flaws which have doomed his presidency.

1. His leadership style is one of consensus and compromise. This works OK in a caretaker setting in which there are no crises and no demands for bold changes of course. Unfortunately, this era is defined by structural crises, and a leadership based on gaining consensus and compromise is basically a rudderless one in this environment.

2. He does not understand economics or finance, nor is he secure about making decisions on financial topics. As a result he deferred to the "experts," who just happened to be Wall Street cronies and insiders who easily swayed the President with their hobgoblin stories of financial meltdown and ruin if we didn't "save the banking sector from losses."

3. His grasp of history is poor. The same can be said of most presidents, but Obama failed to grasp the historic opportunity to set a new sustainable course for the nation's banking and financial sectors, and thus for its economy. He opted instead to save and protect the corrupt and embezzlement-based banking sector from losses, and he continues to do so with "extend and pretend" policies.

In a similar fashion, he has allowed the National Security State and the Global Empire to expand without any limitations.

4. He has no visible core beliefs beyond a vague sense that the Federal government and its extension, the American Empire, are forces for good. His policies can be boiled down to: support and expand the Savior State and its many fiefdoms, support and expand the Global Empire and National Security State, and allow the banking system and its Power Elites to set the agenda and control the oversight agencies and institutions.

His signature accomplishment, the "Obama-care reform" of the nation's sickcare system, simply extends the power of existing cartels and fiefdoms and delivers an ever-larger slice of the national income to their coffers. In its basic parameters, the "reform" could easily have been supported and passed by socially liberal Republican presidents such as Richard Nixon. There is nothing remotely progressive or radical about "pooling" insurance cartels and wet-paper-bag bureaucratic tests of "the most effective treatments."

These are simply technocratic layers added to a bloated, corrupt, venal and destructive system that already costs twice as much as those of our advanced-economy competitors.

In addition to these flaws, he has made fatal policy errors which doom the economy to implosion by November 2012. All of his administration's policies can be distilled down to these three points:

1. The banking sector is the most important foundation of the economy. The Central State and its proxy, the Federal Reserve, pumped some $14 trillion (by some measures, $23 trillion) in cash, credit, guarantees and backstops into the banking sector and its cloaked twin, the Shadow banking System.

Meanwhile, little to nothing was done for the cash-strapped consumer or citizenry. Why?

2. The "problem" is lack of credit and "confidence." If the State and Fed flood the banking system with credit and "restore confidence" by goosing the stock market, then people will start borrowing and spending again, and everything will be "fixed."

This presumes demand is strong, and all that's needed is credit for people to satisfy their thirst for more goods and services.

Meanwhile, back in reality, people realized they didn't need a third car, fourth TV, 17th "cute blouse," 23rd pair of shoes, etc., and now that their home is worth less than their mortgage (or their remaining equity is minimal), they can't really afford the luxury travel, boats, etc. they enjoyed when they thought their house would keep rising in value forever and tapping that rising equity was painless.

Demand is slack because everyone who could afford more crap already owns more crap than they need or even want. The percentage of the populace who would like more stuff cannot afford more stuff. Their household incomes and wages are declining, and their expenses for essentials are rising.

The Fed's largesse to banks (free money in unlimited quantities) doesn't reach them; all it does is boost assets held by the top 10%.

3. Boosting the assets of this top 10% (or 20% if you include those who have equity of some sort beyond the $2,500 in their IRA) will cause a "wealth effect" that will "trickle down" to the lower 80% as the top 20% buy more Coach handbags, enjoy fine dining at tony upscale restaurants, etc.

Unfortunately, this may help boost Coach's profit margins, but the vast majority of the "trickle-down" consists of low-paying retail clerks and busboys.

fool us twice?

Rall | Obama is good with words. But what can he possibly say for himself after this first fiddling-while-Rome-burns term?

The president only has one major accomplishment to his credit: healthcare reform. However—assuming Republicans don’t repeal it—it doesn’t go into effect until 2014. Which, from Obama’s standpoint, actually helps him. After people find out how it transforms the First World’s worst healthcare system into something even crappier and more expensive, they’ll be burning him in effigy.

“Socialized” (if only!) healthcare has driven away the Reagan Democrat swing voters who formed half of Obama’s margin of victory in 2008. Unless the GOP nominates some total loon (hi Michele) or past-due retread (what up Newt) these ideological reeds in the wind will blow Republican.

The other major component of the Obama coalition, young and reenergized older liberals, see ObamaCare as a right-wing sellout to corporations. Nothing less than single-payer would have satisfied them. On other issues it seems that Obama has missed few opportunities to alienate the Democrats’ liberal base.

“The combination of Afghanistan and Libya could bring a bitter end to the romance between Democratic liberals and Obama,” Steve Chapman writes in Reason magazine. “Many of them were already disappointed with him for extending the Bush tax cuts, bailing out Wall Street, omitting a public option from the healthcare overhaul, offering to freeze domestic discretionary spending, and generally declining to go after Republicans hammer and tong.”

Chapman predicts a strong primary challenge to Obama’s left flank—someone like Russ Feingold.

Lefties are also angry about Obama’s other lies and betrayals: keeping Gitmo open, signing off on assassinations and even the torture of U.S. soldiers (PFC Bradley Manning), redefining U.S. troops in Iraq as “support personnel.” Just this week he reneged on his promise to get rid of Bush’s kangaroo courts and put 9/11 suspects on trial.

Everyone—left, middle and right—is furious about his Herbert Hoover-like lack of concern over the economy. While the multimillionaire president blithely talks about a recovery as he heads off to golf with his wealthy friends, unemployment is rising and becoming structural. Obama will surely pay for the disconnect between reality (no jobs, shrinking paychecks, hidden inflation) and the rosy rhetoric coming out of the White House and U.S. state media.

What, exactly, will be Obama’s 2012 sales pitch? I seriously want to know. Think about it: how many other presidents have been so disappointing that they had to distribute lists of their accomplishments so their supporters would have talking points?

the first great war of the 21st century...,


Video - Gerald Celente The First Great War of the 21st Century.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

sustainable cities: feasible transition or oxymoron?

Farmer Scrub | In my presentation on Self Sufficiency, Five Years In, I gave some back-of-the-envelope calculations on the carrying capacity of the city of Portland. If everyone in the city does a better job of feeding themselves and fueling their houses from local resources than we expect to manage on our own site, the city could support about 280,000 people. In this best-case scenario, the current population of 600,000 would have to kick out more than half the people to become sustainable.

Leonard emailed me a question about this, and I wanted to post his question and my reply. This illuminates my philosophy of sustainability and what I think it'll really take to adapt to a post peak oil world in a healthy manner.

Leonard asked: "One bit I wanted to question is your assumption about carrying capacity for Portland: it seems to assume that we would need to produce ALL food within city limits, and couldn't rely on a significant portion of land-extensive staple crops being produced on broadacre polycultural farms in our pretty-well-intact horticultural hinterlands. The future that I've envisioned is one in which intensive vegetable gardening for zone 1-3 crops happens in the city, with zone 3-5 crops coming largely from outside using appropriate (low-embodied energy) means of transport into the city."

My reply follows for the rest of this post:

Good question, and thanks for asking it. In short, my calculations are based on a long term stable, sustainable system. I recognize that in the short term, the city will have to transition from here to there. Your model could make sense as a transition strategy.

However, I think any scenario in which a city depends on the importation of resources perpetuates unsustainability, and a relationship of domination and exploitation, both of the landbase, and of the people working it. That is, it doesn't fulfil the "care for earth" and "care for people" ethics of permaculture. And the "redistribute the surplus" ethic continues as the current mostly one-way, coerced flow of resources into the city.

A lot of my thinking is based on Derrick Jensen's writings. I think his two volume Endgame is the most important reading for modern times; it gives a crucial analysis of the relationship between cities, civilization, and our landbases. Should be required reading for all permaculturists, activists, and anyone else working with the "invisible structures." You can read an excerpt here of Jensen's Endgame, talking about cities.

My first concern is that even with the best intentions, when third parties get between the consumers in the city and the producers outside the city, the loss of direct connection can quickly lead to over-harvesting of resources. The middle men have little reason to foster sustainable harvest, and focus instead on maximum production.

I think this can only be fully averted via direct relationships between buyers and sellers, complete with buyers being fully educated about the impacts of harvests on the landbase, and with visits to the sites of harvest to ensure sustainable operations. Theoretically feasible, but unlikely to actually happen. (And of course, for sustainability, you then have to deal with getting the waste products of the city, such as humanure, back out to the hinterlands.) Fist tap Dale.

the late joe bageant breaks it down...,


Video - An interview with Joe Bageant from The Kingdom of Survival

no work, no money...,


Video - Quick view of the economy in California.

our economic black hole


Video - End sequence from the 1979 Disney space odyssey.

PCI | In recent months economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has been saying that the American economy is “in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession”. It’s an interesting metaphor. The U.S. economy is assumed to be a satellite of some heavy object, and just needs a little more push (in the form of Federal stimulus) in order to achieve escape velocity and go on its merry way.

Perhaps the metaphor makes more sense if it’s reframed slightly. Maybe it is more accurate to think of the economy itself as the black hole. At its heart is a great sucking void created in 2008 by the destruction of trillions of dollars’ worth of capital. The economy used to be a star, spewing out light and heat (profits and consumer goods), but it imploded on itself. Now its gaping maw will inevitably draw all surrounding matter into itself.

You can’t see the black hole, of course; it’s invisible. It is composed largely of unrepayable debt in the form of mortgages, and of toxic assets (mortgage-backed securities and related derivatives) on the books of major financial institutions, all of which are carefully hidden from view not just by the institutions themselves but by the Treasury and the Fed. Added to those there is also a growing super-gravitational field of resource depletion—which is again invisible to nearly everyone, though it does create noticeable secondary effects in the form of rising energy and food prices.

The Treasury and Fed are perhaps best thought of as a pair of powerful Battlestars orbiting just outside the singularity, zapping propulsive jolts of energy (in the forms of stimulus packages, bailouts, and quantitative easing programs) at hapless spaceships (banks and businesses) in the vicinity in order to keep them from falling into default, bankruptcy, and foreclosure. Unfortunately, the Battlestars—with their limited and depleting energy sources—are ultimately no match for the black hole, whose power grows silently and invisibly with every further addition to its hidden mass. The Battlestars will themselves eventually be assimilated.

Monday, April 04, 2011

"business" and "making money"

Condition | The evolution of tools and knowledge can generally be viewed as representative of the evolution of civilization, a 'machine that goes by itself' self-reflexively in (a) 'successively intelligencing resource/environment use' and (b) 'an easing of life'. 'Resource/environment use' and 'ease of life' are dynamically interrelated then, and they depend on 'the sophistication of humans regarding eventualities of an inevitably moribunding carrying capacity'. The peculiarity of thus-far human evolution however, is that it is also that, continuing, of a new, initially primitive and fundamentally pecking-ordered vertebrate diasporating into an econiche', thus knowledge of this situation comes about only by 'ignorantly hitting the wall' -circumstances effectively precipitating and forcing observation, or thru 'forcefully intelligencing observation' -circumstantiality, and 'learning to think about things in advance'.

'Lifestyle and the quality of life', in other words, is to a great degree still pecking-order-based in spite of 'existing knowledge and tools regarding those eventualities'; civilization is, rather, then, at a stage of 'cerebratively primitive' population growth, environment invasion and resource consumption, a stage of 'diasporatively and wantonly cheap natural resources and labor'.

Distinctly apart from human cooperation then ('Note' below -*5), pecking order generally identifies what power one has for determining (a) 'superiority of lifestyle and quality of life' with respect to others of a people, and (b -implicit) what least one has to do to maintain and even expand that in addition. Thus, in modern government/economies, money is power, and power, money, and 'You make as much money as you can with least effort you can' out of (c) the nature of government and its 'expression' (influence) or out of (d -economics) 'the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services' where the how and what of 'production et cetera' ('government' an evolving service) are 'optable' or manipulable to effect the pecking order of 'whom'. -Crucial here is that it is not possible to "Make as much money as I can and spend it any way I choose (as long as I do nothing illegal :-)" except out of 'diasporatively cheap natural resources and labor '

One 'makes money' and 'earns a living' in general, then, by working in either already existing 'production, distribution and consumption of goods and services' that support lifestyle-and-quality' (or so purport), or (and apart from the advance of science and technology)-

One makes money by 'conjuring' 'New and Improved!' goods and services into existence, goods and services that are 'Faster, Cheaper and Work Better!' (or 'Make you more money!)' than you already have or competitors sell' -a
machine that goes by itself, inevitably, in goods and services 'YOU NEED AND DESERVE!' -anything that makes money, in other words, 'easy come, easy go', without respect to validity or merit -derivatives, eventually, making money by betting on the outcomes of money-making betting??
.-thus 'the business of making money' rarely entails any consideration of how it affects the resource/environment or posterity, the primary concerns being 'Is it doable?' and 'Does it make money?' -'carving wealth out of the wilderness' for example -strip-mining, clear-cutting, land-developing and snow-mobiling too -and necessarily then, it includes government and crime too where 'the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services' is influence, subversion and the evasion of government in favor of making money:
American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose -as long as there's no law against it! (that too, free-enterprise optable, however :-)
-and all at the mindless waste of 'diasporatively and wantonly cheap natural resources and labor'.

One day, someone of the future will ask "What did they think they were doing?"

what I cannot build, I cannot understand

The Scientist | It turns out that Craig Venter needs to brush up on his Richard Feynman history. When Venter and his team successfully constructed the first ever cell controlled by a synthetic genome last year, they cleverly placed some playful watermarks in the genetic code to prove that the bacterial cell really was running the inserted, synthetic DNA. Using an alphabetic code based on DNA's four nitrogenous bases -- A, T, C, and G -- the team encoded the names of the collaborators, some HTML code, an email address, and famous quotes, including one from famed quantum physicist Feynman.

The Feynman quote that the researchers coded into the synthetic DNA read, "What I cannot build, I cannot understand." But that isn't quite right. The quote, which Feynman famously scrawled on a Caltech chalkboard just before his death in 1988, really read, "What I cannot create, I do not understand." After getting grief from all angles, including a note from Caltech with a photo of Feynman's chalkboard bearing the quote, Venter recently announced at a presentation during this month's annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, that his team will now go back into the synthetic cell's genome and correct the quote.

conservatives introduce legislation redefining pi as exactly 3

HuffPo | Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Ala.) is sponsoring HR 205, The Geometric Simplification Act, declaring the Euclidean mathematical constant of pi to be precisely 3. The bill comes in response to data and rankings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, rating the United States' 15 year-olds 25th in the world in mathematics.

OECD is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011, and the Paris-based NGO released its international educational rankings, placing the US in a three-way tie for math, equaling Portugal and Ireland, just beneath No. 24 Luxembourg.

"That long-held empirical value of pi, I am not saying it should be necessarily viewed as wrong, but 3 is a lot better," said Roby, the 34-year old legislator representing Alabama's second congressional district, ushered into office in the historic 2010 Republican mid-term bonanza.

Pi has long been defined as the ratio of a circle's area to the square of its radius, a mathematical constant represented by the Greek letter "π," with a value of approximately 3.14159. HR 205 does not change the root definition, per se. The bill simply, and legally, declares pi to be exactly 3.

Roby, raised in Montgomery, Ala., is on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.

"It's no panacea, but this legislation will point us in the right direction. Looking at hard data, we know our children are struggling with a heck of a lot of the math, including the geometry incorporating pi," Roby said. "I guarantee you American scores will go up once pi is 3. It will be so much easier."

Democrats first responded to the measure with a mixture of incredulity and amusement.

"Really?" asked George Miller (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Education and Labor Committee. "Isn't that an awful lot like assuming only even numbers can be negative? You can't legislate math; that's like making it illegal to rain on the Fourth of July," the San Francisco Bay area representative chuckled.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) ridiculed objections from the left as further examples of classic elitist liberalism.

"Democrats don't want our children to succeed, they would actually feel better if France one day bests our kids on that test," Boehner said, unaware that, by tying Slovakia for 16th, France already does outrank the US in math. "Time after time, Democrats refuse to acknowledge American exceptionalism, and they're doing it again by trying to deny our children another tool for success."

Sunday, April 03, 2011

hitler's willing helpers, the police...,

AFP | A new exhibition opened in Berlin Friday showing for the first time how enthusiastically the German police under the Nazis supported Hitler and became willing perpetrators of his crimes.

"Order and Annihilation" at the German Historical Museum also shows how for the most part, members of the police went unpunished after 1945, particularly in democratic West Germany.

It helps to shatter a popular myth that until relatively recently was widespread, including among the country's modern force, that it was just the Gestapo secret police who got blood on their hands, organisers said.

"Many people, well into the 1990s, thought the police was the only institution that was 'clean', spending their time directing traffic," said Wolfgang Schulte from the German Police University, which contributed to the exhibition.

In fact, ordinary policemen -- and a few policewomen -- helped the Nazi dictator brutally crush his political opponents in his rise to total power.

They also played a decisive role in the persecution, rounding up and mass murder of Jews and and other "undesirables" both inside Germany and in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.

As harrowing photos and other exhibits show, police murder squads in the occupied territories would murder local civilians -- men, women and children -- including with special "gas trucks".

"Dear Hanna," one policeman wrote home from Ukraine. "We are in a little town. All the Jews are being killed. But don't think too much about it. It has to be done."

In the parts of the Soviet Union controlled by the Nazis alone some 35 police units murdered more than a million people in 1941-2.

"Once World War II began, the police was one the main perpetrators of mass murder. This exhibition tries to make this clear," organiser Detlef von Schwerin said.

"I was amazed to discover all this, even though I have spent my entire adult life dealing with the Nazi era."

The exhibition, which runs to July 31, "follows directly on" from a successful recent one about Hitler that explored the personality cult of the Nazi dictator for the first time, museum head Hans Ottomeyer said.

"This one also tackles how the forces of order, which had the monopoly on violence, were turned on their heads to become helpers in the crimes of National Socialism and finally perpetrators of genocide," Ottomeyer said.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

how sad...,

NYTimes | For two decades, the Columbia University professor Manning Marable focused on the task he considered his life’s work: redefining the legacy of Malcolm X. Last fall he completed “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” a 594-page biography described by the few scholars who have seen it as full of new and startling information and insights.

The book is scheduled to be published on Monday, and Mr. Marable had been looking forward to leading a vigorous public discussion of his ideas. But on Friday Mr. Marable, 60, died in a hospital in New York as a result of medical problems he thought he had overcome. Officials at Viking, which is publishing the book, said he was able to look at it before he died. But as his health wavered, they were scrambling to delay interviews, including an appearance on the “Today” show in which his findings would have finally been aired.

The book challenges both popular and scholarly portrayals of Malcolm X, the black nationalist leader, describing a man often subject to doubts about theology, politics and other matters, quite different from the figure of unswerving moral certitude that became an enduring symbol of African-American pride.

the ten most segregated cities in america...,

Salon | Decades after the end of Jim Crow, and three years after the election of America's first black president, the United States remains a profoundly segregated country.

That reality has been reinforced by the release of Census Bureau data last week that shows black and white Americans still tend to live in their own neighborhoods, often far apart from each other. Segregation itself, the decennial census report indicates, is only decreasing slowly, although the dividing lines are shifting as middle-income blacks, Latinos and Asians move to once all-white suburbs -- whereupon whites often move away, turning older suburbs into new, if less distressed, ghettos.

We may think of segregation as a matter of ancient Southern history: lunch counter sit-ins, bus boycotts and Ku Klux Klan terrorism. But as the census numbers remind us, Northern cities have long had higher rates of segregation than in the South, where strict Jim Crow laws kept blacks closer to whites, but separate from them. Where you live has a big impact on the education you receive, the safety on your streets, and the social networks you can leverage.

The following is a list of the nation's most segregated metropolitan areas of over 500,000 people. The rankings are based on a dissimilarity index, a measure used by social scientists to gauge residential segregation. It reflects the number of people from one race -- in this case black or white -- who would have to move for races to be evenly distributed across a certain area. A score of 1 indicates perfect integration while 100 signals complete segregation. The rankings were compiled by John Paul DeWitt of CensusScope.org and the University of Michigan's Social Science Data Analysis Network.

the conservative states of america

The Atlantic | Conservatism, at least at the state level, appears to be growing stronger. Ironically, this trend is most pronounced in America's least well-off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states. Conservatism, more and more, is the ideology of the economically left behind. The current economic crisis only appears to have deepened conservatism's hold on America's states. This trend stands in sharp contrast to the Great Depression, when America embraced FDR and the New Deal.

Liberalism, which is stronger in richer, better-educated, more-diverse, and, especially, more prosperous places, is shrinking across the board and has fallen behind conservatism even in its biggest strongholds. This obviously poses big challenges for liberals, the Obama administration, and the Democratic Party moving forward.

But the much bigger, long-term danger is economic rather than political. This ideological state of affairs advantages the policy preferences of poorer, less innovative states over wealthier, more innovative, and productive ones. American politics is increasingly disconnected from its economic engine. And this deepening political divide has become perhaps the biggest bottleneck on the road to long-run prosperity. Fist tap Chauncy de Vega.

maps..,


toward a new chinese order in asia: russia's failure

NBR | EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - Although China’s recent economic and military policies have stimulated arguments about a potential clash with the U.S., this essay contends that China’s most lasting and tangible gains have come at Russia’s expense, both in the Russian Far East (RFE) and in Central Asia.

Main Argument
Russia’s political and economic failure to develop the RFE has undermined its quest for stable great-power status in Asia and its ability to play that role there. As a result, Russia has been forced to turn to China for help. In so doing, it has not only conceded its failure but also allowed China to begin consolidating a new economic and security order in Asia at Russia’s expense, including in the RFE. To the degree that these trends continue along present lines, Russia will become China’s junior partner and supplier of raw materials, not an independent power in Asia.

Policy Implications
China is expanding its capabilities to redefine the Asian security system through successful economic and military modernization. These gains, however, have come at Russia’s expense. Moscow’s continuing political and economic failure to develop the RFE jeopardizes its ability to contribute to a durable power equilibrium in Asia.

Over time, these trends will give China leverage within Russia’s economic and political system, including a new field for economic expansion and reliable energy supplies, and reduce Chinese fears about military competition in the north.

This long-term process of change in the Asian security order will confront the U.S. and its allies with something resembling a counterbloc comprising Russia and China, if not a strong alliance system, and will add to China’s ability to block U.S. and allied interests. In addition, to the extent that China need not worry about Russian military developments, Beijing will be more free to develop its armed forces in ways that are inimical to the U.S. and its allies.

Friday, April 01, 2011

doomsday bunker sales soar on fears of the apocalypse


Video - Doomsday bunker sales soar on fears of the apocalypse.

CNN | NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A devastating earthquake strikes Japan. A massive tsunami kills thousands. Fears of a nuclear meltdown run rampant. Bloodshed and violence escalate in Libya. And U.S. companies selling doomsday bunkers are seeing sales skyrocket anywhere from 20% to 1,000%.

Northwest Shelter Systems, which offers shelters ranging in price from $200,000 to $20 million, has seen sales surge 70% since the uprisings in the Middle East, with the Japanese earthquake only spurring further interest. In hard numbers, that's 12 shelters already booked when the company normally sells four shelters per year.

"Sales have gone through the roof, to the point where we are having trouble keeping up," said Northwest Shelter Systems owner Kevin Thompson.

UndergroundBombShelter.com, which sells portable shelters, bomb shelters and underground bunkers, has seen inquiries soar 400% since the Japanese earthquake. So far sales of its $9,500 nuclear biological chemical shelter tents are at an all-time high -- with four sold in California last week, compared to about one a month normally.

Hardened Structures said inquiries have shot up about 20% since the earthquake -- particularly for its apocalyptic 2012 shelters, radiation-protection tents, and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) air filters.


Vivos, a company that sells rooms in 200-person doomsday bunkers, has received thousands of applications since the massive earthquake in Japan, with reservations spiking nearly 1,000% last week. And people are backing their fear with cash: A reservation requires a minimum deposit of $5,000.

"People are afraid of the earth-changing events and ripple effects of the earthquake, which led to tsunamis, the nuclear meltdown, and which will lead to radiation and health concerns," said Vivos CEO Robert Vicino. "Where it ends, I don't know. Does it lead to economic collapse? A true economic collapse would lead to anarchy, which could lead to 90% of the population being killed off."

The last time people flocked to purchase bunkers in such droves was right before the Y2K scare, according to Stephen O'Leary, an associate professor at University of Southern California and an expert on apocalyptic thinking.

"Tens of millions of people believe in a literal apocalypse, which involves earthquakes, storms, disasters of global proportions and especially disasters related to the Middle East," O'Leary said.

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But, he added, "Some believe that this is just a turbulent time and they have to go somewhere to ride it out."

Elan Yadan, a clothing store owner in Los Angeles, is one of the many customers who rushed to find a bunker last week. Yadan secured a spot for his family in a Vivos' shelter, putting down four deposits totaling $20,000 -- $20,000 that had been earmarked for a down payment on a new house.

"I honestly didn't want to do it, but unfortunately it looks like the worst expectations about the world are starting to come true," said Yadan, who had been reading about Mayan predictions of a global meltdown in 2012. "With the things happening this week, it's better to be safe than sorry. And what good is a house if you don't feel safe?"

Yadan will be riding out any apocalypse in Vivos' most ambitious project to date. The company has more than five 200-person shelters in the U.S. that are in various stages of construction, but this facility outshines them all.

The bunker, which is being built under the grasslands of Nebraska, is 137,000 square feet -- bigger than a Wal-Mart -- can house 950 people for up to one year, and can withstand a 50 megaton blast. Once completed, it will boast four levels of individual suites, a medical and dental center, kitchens, bakery, prayer room, computer area, pool tables, pet kennels, a fully stocked wine cellar and a detention center to place anyone who turns violent.

Plus, there will be a fortified 350-foot lookout tower for residents who want to see what's happening in the outside world.

Once Vivos collects deposits from at least half the number of residents needed to fill the bunker, it will take them on a tour of the near-completed site. At that point, they must pay the rest of the $25,000 reservation fee.

That's what Yadan intends to do.

"I'm not a psychic but I'm not a scientist either, so I'd rather err on the side of caution -- and I'd rather survive and live in a bunker for a year than be wiped out," he said.

nuclear energy to go

Thorium | Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Argonne national laboratories are designing a self-contained nuclear reactor with tamper-resistant features. Called SSTAR (small, sealed, transportable, autonomous reactor), this next-generation reactor will produce 10 to 100 megawatts electric and can be safely transported on ship or by a heavy-haul transport truck. In this schematic of one conceptual design being considered, the reactor is enclosed in a transportation cask. SSTAR

Thorium reactors would be cheap. The primary cost in nuclear reactors traditionally is the huge safety requirements. Regarding meltdown in a thorium reactor, Rubbia writes, “Both the EA and MF can be effectively protected against military diversions and exhibit an extreme robustness against any conceivable accident, always with benign consequences. In particular the [beta]-decay heat is comparable in both cases and such that it can be passively dissipated in the environment, thus eliminating the risks of “melt-down”. Thorium reactors can breed uranium-233, which can theoretically be used for nuclear weapons. However, denaturing thorium with its isotope, ionium, eliminates the proliferation threat.

Like any nuclear reactor, thorium reactors will be hot and radioactive, necessitating shielding. The amount of radioactivity scales with the size of the plant. It so happens that thorium itself is an excellent radiation shield, but lead and depleted uranium are also suitable. Smaller plants (100 megawatts), such as the Department of Energy’s small, sealed, transportable, autonomous reactor (SSTAR) will be 15 meters tall, 3 meters wide and weigh 500 tonnes, using only a few cm of shielding.

Because thorium reactors present no proliferation risk, and because they solve the safety problems associated with earlier reactors, they will be able to use reasonable rather than obsessive standards for security and reliability. If we can reach the $145-in-1971-dollars/kW milestone experienced by Commonwealth Edison in 1971, we can decrease costs for a 1-gigawatt plant to at most $780 million, rather than the $1,100 million to build such a plant today. In fact, you might be able to go as low as $220 million or below, if 80% of reactor costs truly are attributable to expensive anti-meltdown measures. A thorium reactor does not, in fact, need a containment wall. Putting the reactor vessel in a standard industrial building is sufficient.

Because thorium reactors will make nuclear reactors more decentralized. Because of no risk of proliferation or meltdown, thorium reactors can be made of almost any size. A 500 ton, 100MW SSTAR-sized thorium reactor could fit in a large industrial room, require little maintenance, and only cost $25 million. A hypothetical 5 ton, truck-sized 1 MW thorium reactor might run for only $250,000 but would generate enough electricity for 1,000 people for the duration of its operating lifetime, using only 20 kg of thorium fuel per year, running almost automatically, and requiring safety checks as infrequently as once a year. That would be as little as $200/year after capital costs are paid off, for a thousand-persons worth of electricity! An annual visit by a safety inspector might add another $200 to the bill. A town of 1,000 could pool $250K for the reactor at the cost of $250 each, then pay $400/year collectively, or $0.40/year each for fuel and maintenance. These reactors could be built by the thousands, further driving down manufacturing costs.

Smaller reactors make power generation convenient in two ways: decreasing staffing costs by dropping them close to zero, and eliminating the bulky infrastructure required for larger plants. For this reason, it may be more likely that we see the construction of a million $40,000, 100 kW plants than 400 $300 million, 1GW plants. 100 kW plants would require minimal shielding and could be installed in private homes without fear of radiation poisoning. These small plants could be shielded so well that the level of radiation outside the shield is barely greater than the ambient level of radiation from traces of uranium in the environment. The only operating costs would be periodic safety checks, flouride salts, and thorium fuel. For a $40,000 reactor, and $1,000/year in operating costs, you get enough electricity for 100 people, which is enough to accomplish all sorts of antics, like running thousands of desktop nanofactories non-stop.

u.s. spent nuclear fuel the largest radioactive concentration on the planet


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