Sep 30


U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, left, and Senator Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire, speak to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 29, 2008. Photographer: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg News

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Senate will try to salvage a $700 billion financial-rescue package after the measure was defeated in the House of Representatives. The lawmakers won’t have a lot of room to negotiate.

While the legislation will need to be tweaked enough to win over reluctant House Republicans, the lawmakers will risk losing votes from Democrats if they veer too far from the delicate compromise that congressional leaders hammered out with the U.S. Treasury.

“They’re not going to totally revamp the bill,” said Pete Davis, president of Davis Capital Investment Ideas in Washington, who spoke to House and Senate leaders yesterday. “They’ll make some minor changes and pass it. This is all about political cover.”

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Sep 30

The financial crisis has put a spotlight on the obscure world of credit default swaps – which trade in a vast, unregulated market that most people haven’t heard of and even fewer understand. Will this be the next disaster?

(Fortune Magazine) — If Hieronymus Bosch were alive today to paint a triptych called “The Garden of Mortgage Delights,” we’d recognize most of the characters in the bacchanalia and its hellish aftermath. Looming largest, of course, would be the Luciferian figures of Greed and Excessive Debt. Scurrying throughout would be the Wall Street bankers who turned these burgeoning debts into exotic securities with tangled structures and soporific acronyms – CDO, MBS, ABS – that concealed the dangers within. Needless to say, we’d see the smooth-tongued emissaries of the credit-rating agencies assuring people that assets of lead could indeed be transformed into investments of gold. Finally, somewhere past the feckless Fannie Mae executives and the dozing politicians, one final figure would lurk in the shadows: a hulking and barely recognizable monster known as Credit Default Swaps.

CDS are no mere artist’s fancy. In just over a decade these privately traded derivatives contracts ballooned from nothing into a $54.6 trillion market. CDS are the fastest-growing major type of financial derivatives. More important, they’ve played a critical role in the unfolding financial crisis. First, by ostensibly providing “insurance” on risky mortgage bonds, they encouraged and enabled reckless behavior during the housing bubble. Continue reading »

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Sep 30

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — House prices in 20 U.S. cities declined in July at the fastest pace on record, signaling the worst housing recession in a generation had yet to trough even before this month’s credit crisis.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index dropped 16.3 percent from a year earlier, more than forecast, after a 15.9 percent decline in June. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and year-over-year records began in 2001.

The housing slump is at the center of the meltdown in financial markets as declining demand pushes down property values and causes foreclosures to mount. Banks will probably stiffen lending rules even more in coming months to limit losses, indicating residential real estate will keep contracting and consumer spending will continue to falter.

“The fact that house prices quickened their slide before the worst point in credit markets hit this month does not bode well,” said Derek Holt, an economist at Scotia Capital Inc. in Toronto.

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Sep 29


In this artist conception, the Phoenix Mars Lander, which launched in August 2007 and the first project in NASA’s Mars Scout missions, landed on Mars on May 25, 2008. (UPI Photo/NASA)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) — The U.S. space agency says its Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds, vaporizing before reaching the planet’s surface.

And the National Aeronautics and Space Administration says that, plus soil test experiments, have proven evidence of past interaction between minerals and liquid water — both processes that occur on Earth.

“A laser instrument designed to gather knowledge of how the atmosphere and surface interact on Mars detected snow from clouds about 2.5 miles above the spacecraft’s landing site,” NASA said, adding data shows the snow vaporizing before reaching the ground.

“Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars,” said Jim Whiteway, of Canada’s York University, the lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. “We’ll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground.”

Since landing May 25, Phoenix has also confirmed a hard subsurface layer at its far-northern site contains water-ice. NASA said determining whether that ice ever thaws will help answer whether the environment there has been favorable for life, a key aim of the mission.

Published: Sept. 29, 2008 at 3:40 PM
Source: UPI

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Canadian laser gadget finds snow in Martian sky

OTTAWA – Trust a Canadian weather instrument to find snow. Even on Mars.

A Canadian university’s laser aboard a NASA Mars lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds about four kilometres above the landing site, and vaporizing before reaching the ground.

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Sep 29


Added: Sept. 29, 2008

Source: YouTube

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Sep 29

The value of mortgages lent to British homebuyers fell 95 per cent last month, according to the Bank of England.


Mortgage approvals hit a record low after banks tightened lending Photo: PA

It said mortgage lending dived to just £143 million during August – its lowest since this data was first collected in April 1993 and a fraction of the £2.998 billion lent in July.

The bank also revealed that mortgage approvals fell to 32,000 last month from 33,000 in July.

While marginally higher than analyst forecasts, it was the lowest since data began being collected and means approvals are running at less than a third of their 109,000 total in August 2007.

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Sep 29

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks plunged and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index tumbled the most since 1987 after the House of Representatives voted down a $700 billion plan to rescue the financial system.

Sovereign Bancorp Inc. tumbled 66 percent and National City Corp. slid 52 percent, leading financial shares in the S&P 500 to an 11 percent slide. The MSCI World Index of 23 developed markets sank 6 percent, the most since its creation in 1970

“It’s pretty much a nightmare,” said Michael Nasto, the senior trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc., which manages $5 billion in San Antonio. “This is the worst we’ve seen it since the credit mess started. Until we know exactly why they didn’t pass it, we’re going to be selling off for a while.”

The S&P 500 sank as much as 87.02 points, or 7.2 percent, to 1,125.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 631.13, or 5.6 percent, to 10,512 at 2:09 p.m. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 148.4, or 6.8 percent, to 2,034.94.

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Sep 29

A surge for demand in gold and silver has resulted in an unprecedented shortage of the metals for retail investors in recent days, according to Gold and Silver Investments, a Dublin-based firm that allows retail investors to speculate on movements in the value of precious metals.

Gold and Silver Investments director Mark O’Byrne said the supply of gold and silver available for small retail investors suffered a dramatic deterioration within hours on Friday, as wholesalers reported that government mints and refiners, the primary suppliers of the metals, had stopped offering new supplies.

‘‘It’s absolutely unprecedented,” said O’Byrne, who said the shortages were likely to drive up the costs of gold and silver in the secondary market.

‘‘This did not happen even in the 1930s and the 1970s, and will result in markedly higher prices in the coming months.”

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Sep 29

Related:
Rep. Michael Burgess: “We Are Under Martial Law”
Rep. Marcy Kaptur warns: There are domestic enemies to the Republic


Source: YouTube

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Sep 29

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — The rally in U.S. Treasuries may be running out of steam after yields fell to the lowest since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

Renewed concern about the stability of the banking system sparked a run on Treasuries that drove bill rates down to 0.02 percent. Concern is so widespread that investors are buying 30- year bonds even though their yields are the furthest below inflation since at least 1980.

“It’s like the Mark Twain quote, `I am more concerned with the return of my money than the return on my money,”’ said James Evans, a senior vice president at New York-based Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. who helps oversee $15 billion in fixed- income assets.

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Sep 29

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks to $620 billion from $290 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. The Term Auction Facility, the Fed’s emergency loan program, will expand to $450 billion from $150 billion. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are among the participating authorities.

The Fed’s expansion of liquidity, the biggest since credit markets seized up last year, comes as Congress prepares to vote on a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry. The crisis is reverberating through the global economy, forcing European governments to rescue four banks over the past two days alone.

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Sep 29

FIGHTER jets, infantry troops, destroyers and submarines will converge on Wales next month for one of the largest military exercises of all time.

The two-week exercise – codenamed Joint Warrior – is designed to recreate a scenario in which Britain and other sovereign nations go to war against a “state-sponsored terrorist movement” – using a vast array of lethal modern weapons.

Taking place between October 6 and October 16, it will provide coordinated training for all three UK Armed Services, plus forces from EIGHT allied nations.

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Sep 29

Citigroup has agreed to buy Wachovia bank in a deal brokered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to avoid another major corporate failure in the midst of the ongoing financial crisis.

The FDIC announced the deal on its Web site this morning. No price for the transaction was included in the announcement. But the FDIC said that the deal hinged on a loss sharing arrangement between Citigroup and the FDIC, the agency responsible for insuring bank deposits.

Wachovia has been saddled by mortgage-related losses. Under the terms of the deal, Citigroup will absorb up to $42 billion of losses on a $312 billion pool of loans. The FDIC will be responsible for any losses beyond that, but was given $12 billion in Citigroup preferred stock and warrants in return for that guaranty.

The Wachovia purchase is the second major bank buyout orchestrated by the FDIC in the last week. The agency also helped arrange the sale of the failed Washington Mutual to J.P. Morgan Chase.

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Sep 28

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — Fortis, the largest Belgian financial-services firm, received an 11.2 billion-euro ($16.3 billion) rescue from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg after investor confidence in the bank evaporated last week.

Belgium will buy 49 percent of Fortis’s Belgian banking unit for 4.7 billion euros, while the Netherlands will pay 4 billion euros for a similar stake in the Dutch banking business, the governments said in a statement late yesterday. Luxembourg will provide a 2.5 billion-euro loan convertible into 49 percent of Fortis’s banking division in that country.

Fortis is the largest European firm so far caught up in the global financial crisis that drove Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy two weeks ago and prompted U.S. President George W. Bush to seek a $700 billion bank rescue package. Fortis dropped 35 percent last week in Brussels trading on concern the company would struggle to replenish capital depleted by the 24.2 billion- euro takeover of ABN Amro Holding NV units and credit writedowns.

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Sep 28


Photo:
Perpetrators of the greatest financial crime in history celebrating their fraud against the American people.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) warns the American people about Constitutional enemies of the Republic and the fraudulent trillion(s) dollar bailout:

“My message to the American people don’t let Congress seal this deal. High financial crimes have been committed.”

“The normal legislative process has been shelved. Only a few insiders are doing the dealing, sounds like insider trading to me. These criminals have so much political power than can shut down the normal legislative process of the highest law making body of this land.”

“We are Constitutionally sworn to protect and defend this Republic against all enemies foreign and domestic. And my friends there are enemies.”

“The people pushing this deal are the very ones who are responsible for the implosion on Wall Street. They were fraudulent then and they are fraudulent now.”

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Sep 28

The bailout has already failed, because it cannot not fail. Now nobody will laugh anymore at Ron Paul who predicted all of this chaos a long time ago.

Do you remember this article? Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks
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The US stock market could suffer a devastating crash with shares losing a third of their value this week if Hank Paulson’s financial bailout plan fails, US Treasury officials have warned.

The financial system could face a meltdown of 1929 proportions unless US politicians succeed in their efforts for a $700bn rescue scheme, experts added.

The warning came as Republicans and Democrats met in Washington for a rare weekend debating session to attempt to seal agreement on the contentious plan, aimed at preventing a long-lasting recession in the US.

Officials close to Paulson are privately painting a far bleaker portrait of the fragility of the global economy than that advanced by President George W Bush in his televised address last week.

One Republican said that the message from government officials is that “the economy is dropping into the john.” He added: “We could see falls of 3,000 or 4,000 points on the Dow [the New York market that currently trades at around 11,000]. That could happen in just a couple of days.

“What’s being put around behind the scenes is that we’re looking at 1930s stuff. We’re looking at catastrophe, huge, amazing catastrophe. Everybody is extraordinarily scared. It’s going to be really, really nasty.”

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Sep 28

How can anyone trust Bush and Paulson with a $ 700.000.000.000 bailout?
They either lie every time they open their mouth or they have set a new world record for unlimited ignorance.

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WASHINGTON -The Bush administration signaled strongly today that troubled Wall Street should not expect more rescues from Washington.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson declared that the current turmoil in markets and financial institutions ultimately will “make things better.”

By Associated Press
Monday, September 15, 2008

Source: Boston Herald

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Sep 28

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) reports from the floor of the House that the Republicans have been cut out of the process and called unpatriotic for not blindly supporting the fraudulent bailout. He says the only debate has been about what talking points to use on the American people. The most ominous revelation is when he claims the Speaker has declared martial law.

“I have been thrown out of more meetings in this capital in the last 24 hours than I ever thought possible, as a duly elected representative of 825,000 citizens of north Texas.” Said Congressman Burgess.

Burgess asks the Speaker of the House to post the bailout bill on the internet for at least 24 hours instead of passing the largest piece of legislation in US financial history in the “dark of night.”

The most frightening part of Rep. Burgess’ one-minute floor speech is when he says, “Mr. Speaker I understand we are under Martial Law as declared by the speaker last night.”

By: D. H. Williams @ 4:20 PM – EST
September 28th, 2008

Source: Daily Newscaster

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Sep 28

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) — Discussions between European, Dutch and Belgian officials on the future of Fortis, Belgium’s largest financial-services firm, carried into the evening as they sought a “solution” for the beleaguered bank.

Dutch central bank chief Nout Wellink and Finance Minister Wouter Bos went to Brussels for talks with the Belgian government and regulators. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet met with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and Finance Minister Didier Reynders today.

Fortis fell a record 20 percent in Brussels trading two days ago on concern the firm would struggle to raise the 8.3 billion euros ($12.1 billion) it’s seeking to bolster reserves. The bank said Sept. 26 its financial position is “solid,” and replaced interim Chief Executive Officer Herman Verwilst with Filip Dierckx, who heads the banking unit. Managers and government officials are considering a possible sale of part or all of the bank, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

“Fortis failed to restore confidence on its own and that can only be done now with the help of the regulatory institutions or rivals,” said Corne van Zeijl, a senior portfolio manager at SNS Asset Management in Den Bosch, the Netherlands, who oversees about $1.1 billion, including Fortis shares.

Fortis has fallen 71 percent this year in Brussels, the second-worst performance among the 69 companies on the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index, cutting the lender’s market capitalization to 12.2 billion euros ($17.8 billion).

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Sep 28

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) — The U.K. government will act to protect Bradford & Bingley Plc customers, Chief Whip Geoff Hoon said after the British Broadcasting Corp. reported the country’s biggest lender to landlords will be taken over by the state.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling “have worked right through this weekend to sort out the problems we’re facing,” Hoon, a parliamentary officer, told Sky News today. “I’m confident that in due course there will be a statement from the Treasury about Bradford & Bingley. We will act to ensure that the interests of depositors are properly protected.”

The government will take control of Bradford & Bingley, whose shares have tumbled 93 percent this year, the BBC reported on its Web site, without saying where it got the information. The Treasury and Financial Services Authority will negotiate with banks interested in buying parts of the Bingley, England-based bank, the BBC said. Possible buyers include Banco Santander SA, HSBC Holdings Plc and Barclays Plc, the report said.

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Sep 27

There will be a depression anyway, but if the bailout “succeeds” there will be a complete meltdown in the not too distant future. Again the elite is pressing the fear button.
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World markets depend on Paulson’s plan Photo: GETTY

London shares could lose a fifth of their value and the money market faces collapse unless US politicians succeed with their financial bail-out plan, it has been warned.

A leading investor predicted that the FTSE 100 could drop by as much as 1,000 points on Monday if Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s $700bn (£380bn) plan fails. Such a fall would come close to matching the stock market crash of 1987.

The warning came as markets lurched their way to the end of another fraught week amid fears that the White House rescue operation could be derailed in Congress by conservative Republicans.

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Sep 27

Take several pictures with your digital camera at night, use a higher ISO (400), diaphragm 2,8, shutter speed 1/60 and focus on those Orbs.

If your focus is good you will find hundreds of Orbs with different colors in your pictures. You may find also something that looks like a white foggy structure, which looks like strange “cigarette smoke” all over the picture, although you have taken the picture against the clear sky at night.

You will have even better results if your digital camera that has no infrared filters (Canon).

I have very often hundreds of Orbs in one picture. And the next picture maybe has none. So it’s not dust or problems with the lense etc.

Recommended Reading:

In English: The Orb Project
In German: Das Orb Projekt

About the authors:

Dr. Miceal Ledwith, L.Ph., L.D., D.D., LL.D (h.c), served as a Catholic priest and as Professor of Theology and College President for over 25 years in Ireland, during which time he lectured extensively to interested adult groups in many countries.

Kaus Heinemann was born and educated in Germany. He holds a Ph.D. degree in experimental physics from the University of Tübingen and has worked for many years in materials science research at NASA, UCLA, and as professor at Stanford University.
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Original article: Bild.de (Never thought I would publish an article of the “Bild Zeitung”.)
Published: 27. September 2008

Das Geheimnis der Orbs

Woher kommen die kleinen weißen Flecken auf Fotos?

Manchmal ist es nur eine einzelne Kugel, manchmal sind es ganze Gruppen: „Orbs” (englisch für „Kugeln”) – unerklärliche weiße Flecken auf Fotos.


Ein „Orb” (englisch für „Kugel”) in Nahaufnahme.

Seit es Digitalkameras gibt, tritt das Phänomen massenhaft auf

Woher stammen die rätselhaften Kugeln? Dieser Frage ging der angesehene Berliner „Tagesspiegel” diese Woche nach.

„In Altbauten oder verwunschenen Häusern fotografiert man Orbs am häufigsten”, heißt es dort. Die spannende These: Sind es verwaiste Seelen, die sich von dieser Welt noch nicht lösen konnten? Wählen sie die Kugelform, um beim Wandern zwischen den Welten möglichst wenig Energie zu verbrauchen?

Mystery-Forscher Hartwig Hausdorf (52) bestätigt die Theorie: „Tatsächlich gibt es die Idee, Orbs wären intelligente, bewegliche Wesen oder Geister, die der Kamerablitz kurz sichtbar gemacht hat.”

Auch für den deutschen Physiker Prof. Dr. Klaus Heinemann (67, lehrte u. a. in Stanford, USA) sind die weißen Kugeln nicht von dieser Welt. „Die Ursache bleibt unklar. Der Großteil sind Erscheinungen, die außerhalb unser physikalischen Wirklichkeit liegen.”

Oder ist das alles nur schnöder Staub? Fotoexperten behaupten, dass erst seit dem Siegeszug der Digitalkameras auch die Orbs in Massen auftreten.

Weil das Blitzlicht sehr nah an der Linse angebracht sei, würden viel öfter als früher Staubpartikel sichtbar. Aber werden wir nicht alle irgendwann zu Staub ..?

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Sep 27

And drinking chlorinated water – much better if it is fluoridated too – is even “better” for your health.
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Children who swim regularly in chlorinated pools are five times more likely to develop asthma, research has found.

Swimming is recommended as a good form of exercise for asthmatics because the warm humid air is less likely to trigger attacks than other physical activities.

But mounting research is suggesting that the chlorine used to keep the pools clean could be contributing to the development of the condition.

Researchers in Belgium studied the effects of swimming in outdoor pools regularly from a young age and found a strong link.

Previously the same team have found that indoor pools may also increase the risk of asthma in children.

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Sep 27

If Drivers Can Fill Up, They Get Sticker Shock


People wait to fill their tanks at a Citgo station in Charlotte, where drivers have reported gas lines 60 cars long after 11 p.m. (By Davie Hinshaw — The Charlotte Observer)

Gasoline shortages hit towns across the southeastern United States this week, sparking panic buying, long lines and high prices at stations from the small towns of northeast Alabama to Charlotte in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

In Atlanta, half of the gasoline stations were closed, according to AAA, which said the supply disruptions had taken place along two major petroleum product pipelines that have operated well below capacity since the hurricanes knocked offshore oil production and several refineries out of service along the Gulf of Mexico.

Drivers in Charlotte reported lines with as many as 60 cars waiting to fill up late Wednesday night, and a community college in Asheville, N.C., where most of the 25,000 students commute, canceled classes and closed down Wednesday afternoon for the rest of the week. Shortages also hit Nashville, Knoxville and Spartanburg, S.C., AAA said.

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Sep 27

By Chris Powell

CHRIS POWELL IS MANAGING EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL INQUIRER IN MANCHESTER.

Even leading Republicans in Congress, including presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, recoiled from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson’s proposal to take absolute power over $700 billion to be borrowed by the federal government and used to purchase every sort of bad debt without ever having to answer for it – not to the courts, not to regulatory agencies, and only occasionally and incidentally to Congress itself.

The bad-debt bailout would be the biggest government patronage program in history and would amount to declaring martial law over the U.S. financial system and economy. Even if such martial law is necessary, its implementation should be put in democratic hands – a non-partisan agency with full transparency, statutory standards for its purchases, and close accountability to Congress.

All the same, even if it can work – that is, prop up insolvent financial institutions – the Treasury’s proposal is still a proclamation of the collapse of the whole U.S. financial system. Even if some financial institutions are saved, the collapse will manifest itself in other ways, probably ways more damaging to the public. For who cares if Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley endure if the issuance of $700 billion more in government bonds drives interest rates way up, diverts credit from the private economy, devalues the already sinking dollar, and sends commodity prices soaring again?

In that case the financial class will have won another battle in its long war against the producing class. It will be again as was said about the maneuvers of the Second Bank of the United States two centuries ago: “The bank was saved; only the people were ruined.”

Injecting throughout the world financial system their bogus and unregulated financial instruments, like collateralized debt obligations and credit-default swaps, the big New York financial houses have taken the world economy hostage. The president and Congress should strive to save the hostages, not the kidnappers.

But the president and Congress have participated eagerly with the kidnappers in the total corruption of the financial system.

They have staffed the regulatory agencies largely from Wall Street and then diminished financial regulation.

They have let the financial houses finance presidential and congressional campaigns.

They have watched haplessly as accounting firms and credit-rating agencies engaged in conflict of interest and failed to do their jobs over and over again even as corporate scandal followed corporate scandal.

They have waged mistaken imperial war not with taxes but with huge amounts borrowed from abroad, making the country hostage to foreign nations, including some with hostile interests.

They have approved the government’s falsification of inflation data and its surreptitious suppression of the price of gold so that interest rates could be set below the inflation rate, the government and everyone else could borrow more at lower interest, and the public would not become alarmed by monetary debasement.

Now the U.S. government is conjuring into existence via a few computer keystrokes fantastic, virtually inconceivable amounts of money. Unreal as these amounts are, they will be claims on the real goods and services of the country, and, if the rest of the world wants to keep playing along, which is doubtful, claims on the real goods and services of the rest of the world as well.

The purpose of all this will be to save the people who happen to be in charge of the payments system and to save the propertied class generally. But people without many assets, people who don’t earn enough to own housing, people who could gain from lower housing prices and lower prices of everything else, are not even in the government’s equation.

The country is simply busted. Its financial obligations are unpayable, its asset prices are illusions, and the great undertaking in Washington and New York is to preserve those illusions rather than face reality. If the price of preserving those illusions is $700 billion – and of course it is more likely to run into the trillions – could it really be more expensive to dispense with the illusions now? After all, instead of rescuing financial institutions that disregarded risk, the government just as easily could keep the country going by sending checks to everyone every month – as it already sends Social Security checks to retirees.

But as long as the government keeps paying ransom, the financial class will keep taking the country hostage.

Published on 9/26/2008

Source: The Day

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Sep 27


Mozart Requiem (KV 626)

(NaturalNews) Music, the universal language of mood, emotion and desire, connects with us through a wide variety of neural systems. Researchers have discovered evidence that music stimulates specific regions of the brain responsible for memory, language and motor control. They have located specific areas of mental activity linked to the emotional responses elicited by music. Now new research conclusions have identified how the affect of music could replicate the effects of hormone replacement therapy in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The August 7 issue of Medical Hypotheses reports these conclusions resulting from experience that has shown music to be useful in therapy for neuropsychiatric disorders resulting from both functional and organic origins. However, the mechanisms of the action of music on the brain have remained largely unknown despite an increase in scientific studies on the topic.

The results of past studies have clarified that music influences and affects cranial nerves in humans from fetus to adult. To explain how it works at the cellular level, researchers proposed that the neurogenesis, regeneration and repair of the cerebral nerves are the result of adjustments through the secretion of steroid hormones ultimately leading to cerebral plasticity.

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Sep 26

JPMorgan Buys WaMu Bank Business as Thrift Seized

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third- biggest U.S. bank by assets, agreed to acquire Washington Mutual Inc.’s deposits and branches for $1.9 billion after regulators seized the thrift in the biggest bank failure in U.S. history.

Customers withdrew $16.7 billion from WaMu accounts since Sept. 16, leaving the Seattle-based bank “unsound,” the Office of Thrift Supervision said today. WaMu’s branches will open tomorrow and customers will have full access to all their accounts, Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said on a conference call.

WaMu’s fate played out as Congress debated an accord to end the global credit crunch that drove Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and IndyMac Bancorp out of business and led to the hastily arranged rescues of Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bear Stearns Cos., which was itself absorbed by JPMorgan. WaMu in March rebuffed a takeover offer from JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon that WaMu valued at $4 a share.

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Sep 25

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — More than 150 prominent U.S. economists, including three Nobel Prize winners, urged Congress to hold off on passing a $700 billion financial market rescue plan until it can be studied more closely.

In a letter yesterday to congressional leaders, 166 academic economists said they oppose Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s plan because it’s a “subsidy” for business, it’s ambiguous and it may have adverse market consequences in the long term. They also expressed alarm at the haste of lawmakers and the Bush administration to pass legislation.

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Sep 25

WaMu Said to Approach Blackstone as Bailout Debated

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — Washington Mutual Inc.’s options may be dwindling as potential bidders shy away from making an offer because it’s not clear how much the proposed $700 billion U.S. bank rescue package will benefit the Seattle-based lender.

Five banks that were considering bids, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., have failed to make an offer in the week since WaMu put itself up for sale. WaMu next approached Carlyle Group and Blackstone Group LP, two people briefed on the matter said. Those talks are preliminary, and hinge on the government’s role in helping WaMu, which faces an estimated $19 billion in bad loans, the people said, speaking anonymously because the discussions are private.

“A WaMu deal is likely frozen until the bailout gets worked out,” said Steven Kaplan, a finance professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. “People aren’t in a hurry to make any decision until they know what’s coming out of Washington.”

WaMu is under increasing pressure to strike a deal as its stock sags and ratings companies pummel its debt. Standard & Poor’s yesterday cut WaMu’s rating for the second time in nine days, dropping it to CCC from BB-. WaMu’s regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which guarantees customer deposits, have declined to comment.

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Sep 25


Northern Wheatear

The birds of the world are in serious trouble, and common species are in now decline all over the globe, a comprehensive new review suggests today.

From the turtle doves of Europe to the vultures of India, from the bobwhite quails of the US to the yellow cardinals of Argentina, from the eagles of Africa to the albatrosses of the Southern Ocean, the numbers of once-familiar birds are tumbling everywhere, according to the study from the conservation partnership BirdLife International.

Their falling populations are compelling evidence of a rapid deterioration in the global environment that is affecting all life on earth – including human life, BirdLife says in its report, State of The World’s Birds.

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