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Land With Just One Wing October 31, 2008

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thanx Jeff Ullian

What the Candidates were Briefed by CIA October 31, 2008

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The next U.S. president will govern in an era of increasing international instability, including a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the near future, long-term prospects of regional conflicts and diminished U.S. dominance across the globe, the nation’s top intelligence officer said Thursday.

Competition for energy, water and food will drive conflicts between nations to a degree not seen in decades, and climate change and global economic upheaval will amplify the effects, Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, said in a speech here.

McConnell, who has given security briefings to both major-party presidential candidates, said the list of worries will soon drown out the euphoria as the next occupant of the White House settles into the job.

via Intelligence Head Says Next President Faces Volatile Era (more…)

Still Pax Americana October 31, 2008

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Yet the evidence of American decline is weak. Yes, as Zakaria notes, the world's largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore and the largest casino in Macau. But by more serious measures of power, the United States is not in decline, not even relative to other powers. Its share of the global economy last year was about 21 percent, compared with about 23 percent in 1990, 22 percent in 1980 and 24 percent in 1960. Although the United States is suffering through a financial crisis, so is every other major economy. If the past is any guide, the adaptable American economy will be the first to come out of recession and may actually find its position in the global economy enhanced.

via Robert Kagan – Still No. 1 – washingtonpost.com

Conservatives For Obama October 30, 2008

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When Conservative Blogger Andrew Sullivan endorsed Obama back in November, he became the darling of TV land’s talking heads. Now he gives 10 good reasons why Conservatives should vote for a Democrat for President.

I could add ,he left out reaction to the Democrats over-reaching , just as their Republican brethren did “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”. Then maybe the Cato institute wing of the party will replace the Bush/Cheney ideological wing, which so disdains his homosexuality, and be swept to power by a public revulsion to the probable Liberal excesses.

via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 27, 2008) – The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama

The World Is Flattened October 29, 2008

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While the analysis is good, let’s hope Obama doesn’t have to face all of the doom-and-gloom predictions. It wasn’t the world that got flat, contrary to New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman, but the emerging markets that got flattened.

Faddish conventional wisdom over the past few years held that American influence was fading as technology radiated to the far reaches of the world. When America’s economy went into a ditch, though, the supposed economic superpowers of the future went flying, like children on skates holding onto the back of truck.

The American consumer, it turns out, played Atlas to the global economy, taking the exports of Asia, so that Asia could buy the commodities of Russia, Latin America and Africa. Remove the American consumer, and Asian exports crash, taking commodity prices along with them.

via Asia Times Online :: Asian news and current affairs (more…)

How To Make Your Dollar Go Further October 28, 2008

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Hawaiian Won Park has been folding dollar bills into Oragami creations for 32 years and it pays off. Watch how he creates this Choi ( a large Goldfish). Click here to see more including his Star Wars Collection.

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Troubling toll in Thoreau’s backyard October 28, 2008

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Species that have responded to rising temperatures by flowering earlier – on average, seven days earlier than Thoreau recorded – have managed to survive. Those that did are dying off, including many familiar families such as orchids, irises, sunflowers, dogwoods, lilies, roses, and buttercups.

Because so many of the winners and losers have been found to be phylogenetically linked (meaning they are close genetic relatives), the study is the first to report that whole groups of related plants are at extinction risk from global warming, the researchers said.

via Troubling toll in Thoreau’s backyard – The Boston Globe

Obama – The Next Kennedy? October 26, 2008

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Remember that the one thing countless millions of people around the world “know” about the United States is that it is controlled by a cabal of white bankers and Jews who use police with fire hoses to repress blacks. To them, Mr. Obama’s rise triggers severe cognitive dissonance.

Europeans like to mock the vapidity of American politics, but they also acknowledge that it would be difficult to imagine a brown or black person leading France or Germany.

As for Africa, Mr. Obama’s Kenyan father was of the Luo tribe, a minority that has long suffered brutal discrimination in both Kenya and in Uganda (where it is known as the Acholi). The bitter joke in East Africa is that a Luo has more of a chance of becoming president in the United States than in Kenya.

Yet before we get too far with the self-congratulations, it’s worth remembering something else.

Jamaica’s 95 percent black population elected a white man as its prime minister in 1980, and kept him in office throughout that decade.Likewise, the African nation of Mauritius has elected a white prime minister of French origin. And don’t forget that India is overwhelmingly Hindu but now has a Sikh prime minister and a white Christian as president of its ruling party, and until last year it had a Muslim in the largely ceremonial position of president. (more…)

Bubble Warnings From Davos October 26, 2008

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The five day Davos meetging, held annualy in Switzerland, is THe meeting for the Rich and Powerful.I was taken by this quote from Stephen Roach, then Morgan Stanley’s chief economist, who now is chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd. “A sharp decline in housing prices could have a tremendous impact on the global economy; in the U.S. alone, 40 percent of new jobs since 2001 have been related to the housing sector. With low interest rates and excess liquidity, other bubbles may follow,” If the corralary is true, then we could be looking at more job loss than currently predicted.Here is the vull article inThe Bloomberg.com: Exclusive

Why the 2nd Bubble is Bursting Now October 24, 2008

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Another Bubble Bursts – WSJ.com
Among the problems are the reality of recession and the uncertainty over Barack Obama’s policies. But the larger story is that the global economy is fast popping its latest monetary bubble, the one over the last 14 months in commodity prices and non-dollar currencies.

The original bubble was in housing prices and mortgage-related assets, which the Federal Reserve helped to create with its negative real interest rates from 2002 into 2005. This was Alan Greenspan’s tragic mistake, not that the former Fed chief will acknowledge it (more…)

Why Dogs Dig Holes, Not Music October 24, 2008

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Anyone with normal hearing can distinguish between the musical tones in a scale: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. We take this ability for granted, but among most mammals the feat is unparalleled.

This finding is one of many insights into the remarkable acuity of human hearing garnered by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, reported in January in the journal Nature. (more…)

Spider Eats Bird October 23, 2008

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Spiderd Bird

Joel Shakespeare, head spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park, said the spider was a Golden Orb Weaver.

“Normally they prey on large insects… it’s unusual to see one eating a bird,” he told ninemsn.com.

Mr Shakepeare said he had seen Golden Orb Weaver spiders as big as a human hand but the northern species in tropical areas were known to grow larger.

Queensland Museum identified the bird as a native finch called the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.

Giant spider eating a bird caught on camera – Telegraph

Billionaires’ $$$ Get Slammed October 22, 2008

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So far in October, almost $1.24 billion in stock has been sold by CEOs and other executives to cover debts, according to Ben Silverman, director of research at InsiderScore.com, which monitors SEC filings. Another $250 million in stock sales may also be related to so-called margin calls—when lenders force the sale of stock to cover debts.

The point was driven home on Tuesday, Oct. 21, when billionaire Kirk Kerkorian‘s Tracinda Corp. disclosed it sold off 7.3 million shares in Ford Motor (F) and may sell the rest of its stake in the automaker. Originally valued at almost $1 billion, Kerkorian’s stake has lost more than two-thirds of its value as Ford’s stock price has plummeted. It closed Tuesday at 2.17 a share, down 7% for the day. Though the exact reasons for Kerkorian’s sale aren’t clear, he had borrowed $600 million to buy the Ford stake and recently needed to use casino holdings to back that debt.

First Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom (VIAB) and CBS (CBS), sold $233 million in stock to help cover a loan. Then John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media (LCAPA), sold $49.5 million in stock to pay back a loan to Bank of America (BAC). (more…)

Chins Has Its Own Systemic Market Problems Too October 21, 2008

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At the heart of the crisis that toppled Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is an out-of-control system built on debt. At the heart of China’s problems is frantic development that also cuts corners to meet overambitious targets. The habits of both have huge implications, but aren’t easily changed because they are ingrained. The common dynamic is greed, meeting over-inflated goals, creative accounting and a sense of hubris.

Just as the credit crisis has shaken Wall Street to its core, safety concerns are a bigger problem for China than many realize. It’s one thing to fake DVDs and Prada bags. When a lack of regulation and oversight forces companies such as Unilever, Cadbury Plc and Japan’s Kanematsu Corp. to recall goods, China has a true dilemma on its hands.

A critical mass of China’s 1.3 billion people isn’t ready to create a domestic market. Nor can China easily find other export markets to offset Group of Seven economies. China can keep cutting rates, increasing infrastructure spending and tweaking taxes, yet that may not be enough.

The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression won’t leave China unscathed. If things get that bad, Chinese officials will have more to cry over than tainted milk.

via Bloomberg.com: Opinion

Moscow’s Trafiic Grid Locked October 21, 2008

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You think we have infrastructure problems…Moscow ground to a halt today as traffic jams blocked 500 kilometers (310 miles) of roads leading into the city center.

“Traffic jams paralyzed practically all the major arteries of the capital on Tuesday morning,” state broadcaster Vesti-24 reported. “The overall length of traffic jams in the capital at 9:45 a.m. exceeds 500 kilometers.”

Moscow and the surrounding region lose 400 billion rubles ($15 billion) a year, or 6 percent of the area’s gross regional product, because of added transport costs and shipping delays, Transport Minister Igor Levitin said on Oct. 1. Moscow’s network lacks up to 400 kilometers of roads, resulting in an average of 650 traffic jams every day, he said.

via Bloomberg.com: Latin America

Post-Caucasian world hardly post-American world October 19, 2008

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As our financial crisis unfolds, Americans suffer a serious bout of existential ennui. Unsure of whom we are or our global role anymore, our self-doubt scares the world in near-equal measure. Predictably, both skeptics at home and challengers abroad tell us that we must get used to this post-American world. My advice is to resist these sirens’ song.

From the perspective of grand strategy, such pessimism is unwarranted: just as our international liberal trade order — known now as globalization — encompasses the near-totality of the planet, vastly outreaching all previous attempts to establish a global order and doing so in a manner that both enriches and empowers individuals, too many Americans feel alienated from this world so clearly of our creation.

via Post-Caucasian world hardly post-American world | ScrippsNews

The NEW Merirll Lynch October 18, 2008

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Hong Kong clothing retailer Giordano International

Hong Kong clothing retailer Giordano International

Credit Default Swap Fears Still Freeze Lending October 17, 2008

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Lehman Brothers former chief executive Dick Fuld has faced heavy criticism

Lehman Brothers former chief executive Dick Fuld has faced heavy criticism

Those on the wrong side of these Lehman debt contracts – known as credit default swaps (CDS) – must come up with the money by Tuesday, the next D-Day in the ever-fraught calendar of the credit markets. There has been a deafening silence so far.

There is no easy way of finding out who they are, so every bank and insurer is suspect. The $55,000bn CDS market is “completely lacking in transparency and completely unregulated” in the words of Chris Cox, the chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The settlement auction on Lehman CDS contracts last week was in itself a bombshell. Creditors retrieved just nine cents on the dollar from the Lehman wreckage. As Naked Capitalism put it, the bank had “vaporised”.

Fears of Lehman’s CDS derivatives haunt markets – Telegraph

Chavez’s Oil Blues October 13, 2008

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The state oil company, PDVSA, produced 3.2 million barrels per day in 1998, the year before Mr Chavez won the presidency. After a decade of rising corruption and inefficiency, daily output has now fallen to 2.4 million barrels, according to OPEC figures. About half of this oil is now delivered at a discount to Mr Chavez’s friends around Latin America. The 18 nations in his “Petrocaribe” club, founded in 2005, pay Venezuela only 30 per cent of the market price within 90 days, with rest in instalments spread over 25 years.

The other half – 1.2 million barrels per day – goes to America, Venezuela’s only genuinely paying customer.

Venezuela’s oil output slumps under Hugo Chavez – Telegraph

Will Obama Still Raise Taxes? October 13, 2008

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AN OBAMA PANIC? – New York Post
Recently, Obama said he wants to expedite loans to small businesses, so he seems to have a clue that they produce much of the country’s job growth. Yet his income-tax hike on upper brackets will hit vast numbers of small businesses (Sub Chapter-S Family Corporations) – they’d face the highest rates they’ve seen in decades.

Overall, his plan includes some of the most lethal tax increases imaginable, including a jump in the capital-gains rate. He’d expand government spending massively, with everything from new public-works projects to increases in foreign aid to a surge in Afghanistan – plus hand out a token $500 welfare check that he calls a tax cut to everyone else. (more…)

Man kills bear with stick October 10, 2008

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A man who was attacked by a black bear while walking his dogs survived only after crushing the creature’s skull with a stick.

Jim West needed 60 stitches on his head (picture above) and body to close wounds from the terrifying attack. Click on link below for full story

‘Bring it on, sweetie’: Man kills bear with stick (and he’s got the scars to prove it) | Mail Online

Playing Frisbee on the Edge of a Cliff October 10, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, In The News.
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One had the sense this week that our entire political class is playing Frisbee on the edge of a precipice, that no one is being serious enough, honest enough, that it’s all too revved, too intense, and yet too shallow.

As to what they will do about the crisis, Mr. Obama will raise taxes on the rich and help us weatherize our homes, while Mr. McCain favors “energy independence” and buying up mortgages. On the causes of the crisis they spoke of insufficient regulation, or high spending.

But these were not the great causes. Neither party has clean hands. Or rather, both parties have dirty hands. Here is the truth, spoken by the increasingly impressive Sen. Tom Coburn: “The root of the problem is political greed in Congress. Members . . . from both parties wanted short-term political credit for promoting homeownership even though they were putting our entire economy at risk by encouraging people to buy homes they couldn’t afford. Then, instead of conducting thorough oversight and correcting obvious problems with unstable entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, members of Congress chose to . . . distract themselves with unprecedented amounts of pork-barrel spending.” That is the truth. Declarations – WSJ.com

Mortgage Mess Cartoon Slideshow October 10, 2008

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While it doesn’t go into Credit Default Swaps, this PowerPoint cartoon does follow our mortgage meltdown, from after home-ownership was mandated on the Lenders by the Federal Government. This explains how the creative financial instruments tried to turn this lemon into lemonade, which we are all drowning in now. Click on the link. You’ll need PowerPoint o view it. Or download and install the free PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft. Thanks to Barbara Herwald mortgagemessexplained

New US $1 Bill October 9, 2008

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Thanks to Jeff Ullian

Thanks to Jeff Ullian for saving his last dollar for us to see

Banned SNL Bailout Skit Back After Editing October 8, 2008

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Saturday Night Live” ran a spoof of the financial crisis that skewered Democrats like House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank and liberal contributors Herbert and Marion Sandler, who sold toxic-waste-filled Golden West to Wachovia Bank for $24 billion. Kind of surprising, but not for long. The tape of the broadcast disappeared from NBC’s Web site and was replaced with another that omitted the references to Mr. Frank and the Sandlers. Evidently NBC and its parent, General Electric, don’t want people to hear speech that attacks liberals.

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