Donald Hunt Signs of the Times 2007-06-25 07:54:00
Stocks fell last week on news that problems in the subprime mortgage market are affecting hedge funds.
In such an environment with massively leveraged hedge funds creating derivatives on a huge pile of really bad debt, a huge collapse can take place quickly. But it won't take place without warning. The word has been going out that the plug will get pulled soon, and we ignore it at our peril.
How did we get to this place, the edge of a huge cliff?
Paul Craig Roberts Counterpunch 2007-06-25 15:04:00
"We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us." --John Winthrop
America is being destroyed. Many Americans are unaware, others are indifferent, and some intend it.
The destruction is across the board: the political and constitutional system, the economy, social institutions including the family itself, citizenship, and the character and morality of the American people.
Those who rely on the Internet for information are aware that the Bush regime has successfully assaulted the separation of powers and civil liberty. Both Bush and Cheney claim that they are not bound by laws that impinge on their freedom of action or that interfere with their ideas of the power of their offices. Bush has issued presidential directives that permit him to make himself a dictator by declaring a national emergency. Cheney asserts that his handling of secret documents is not subject to oversight or investigation or bound by a presidential order governing the protection of classified information.
The foundation of social organization--marriage, family, and parental control over children--is disintegrating.
Stephen Lendman S J Lendman Blog 2007-06-25 12:52:00
In 1984 (a year of Orwellian significance), activist and media and social critic Edward Herman wrote one of his many important books titled "Demonstration Elections." In it, he analyzed the US-staged elections in the 1960s in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam and the 1982 one in El Salvador. In the book's Orwellian glossary of terms, he defined the process as "A circus held in a client state to assure the population of the home country that their intrusion is well received. The results are guaranteed by an adequate supply of bullets provided in advance (and freely used as necessary to achieve the desired outcome)."
Richard Siklos and Andrew Ross Sorkin New York Times 2007-06-25 17:46:00
The News Corporation, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, and advisers for Dow Jones and its controlling Bancroft family were close last night to agreeing on terms designed to protect The Wall Street Journal's newsroom independence if the company accepts a takeover bid from Mr. Murdoch, according to several people briefed on the talks.
Richard Waters Financial Times 2007-06-25 22:03:00
Google on Monday called on a judge to extend part of the US government's four-year anti-trust oversight of Microsoft, intensifying a lobbying battle that has seen the arch-rivals turn to anti-trust enforcement machinery to try to limit each other's power.
A divided Supreme Court on Monday curtailed free-speech rights for students, ruling against a teenager who unfurled a banner saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" because the message could be interpreted as promoting drug use.
He lies flat, unseeing eyes fixed on the ceiling, tubes and machines feeding him, breathing for him, keeping him alive. He cannot walk or talk, but he can grimace and cry. And he is fully aware of what has happened to him.
For our What You Need to Know Now cover story, we asked our polling firm to test 1,001 adults on a variety of topics, including politics, foreign affairs, business, technology and popular culture. The results were mixed, to be charitible. NEWSWEEK's first What You Need to Know Poll found many gaps in America's knowledge - including a lingering misperception about an Iraqi connection to the September 11 terror attacks, an inability to name key figures in the American government and general cultural confusion.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is arriving in Russia at the end of June on an official visit.
Pundits are asking whether the two sides will sign new contracts for arms supplies, in particular, submarines. The United States is particularly interested. For some reason it thinks its opinion must be taken into account in the decision-making process.
The Bush administration has cause for concern. Russia has entered the arms market so aggressively in recent years that many, including the U.S. itself, have called American dominance into doubt.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States dominated the highly competitive market for conventional arms, military analyst Richard Grimmet said in December 2006. Now the situation has changed. Moscow is acting more aggressively.
Police in Nepal have detained a self-styled holy man who sowed panic across much of the country by prophesying that a massive earthquake would kill 300,000 people in South Asia last week.
Bishweshwor Chaudhari, a former builder, had his followers distribute thousands of pamphlets last month forecasting that the earthquake would strike at 6.15am on June 22 and last until July 10.
The prophesy caused such widespread alarm that the home ministry and council of astrologers were forced to issue statements in denial.
When Friday came and went without the slightest tremor, angry residents of the city rushed to Mr Chaudhari's house and beat him up, declaring him a charlatan and demanding that he be punished. Police intervened and detained him for disturbing the peace.
The incident illustrates how deeply superstitious much of Nepal remains and how easy it is for the unscrupulous to exploit the millions of Nepalis who have little access to basic education and healthcare.
A wave of violence across the Kenyan capital killed 22 people yesterday morning, and police were investigating whether a shadowy gang that has threatened to launch an uprising against the government was involved in at least some of the deaths.
Debora MacKenzie New Scientist 2007-06-22 10:05:00
The flu virus persists so well on banknotes that money could help spread the next pandemic, researchers say.
Yves Thomas and colleagues at the University Hospitals of Geneva in Switzerland dripped various strains of flu virus - including some that were circulating during winter 2007 - onto Swiss banknotes and left them at room temperature for varying amounts of time before testing for live virus.
US university students will not be able to work late at the campus, travel abroad, show interest in their colleagues' work, have friends outside the United States, engage in independent research, or make extra money without the prior consent of the authorities, according to a set of guidelines given to administrators by the FBI.
Jennifer Loewenstein Counterpunch 2007-06-25 14:49:00
Contrary to the many claims that the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip represents the failure of US and Israeli policies in Palestine, the violent civil infighting that has dominated the Gaza Strip over much of the last year and a half and that led directly to the Hamas coup of June 2007, marks yet another major foreign policy victory for the occupiers. Hamas will never be allowed to remain in power in Gaza so we must fear for the future of that tiny, desperately overcrowded strip of land and its 1.4 million inhabitants; additionally, Abbas in order to maintain his role as "Good Guy"- will have to accede to the dictates of Israel and the United States or suffer the same fate as his predecessor, Yassir Arafat.
All you conspiracy theorists out there (and everyone else, for that matter) should check out the big Dick Cheney feature in the Washington Post today. It's the first of a four-part series that interviewed over 200 people to explore how the most powerful vice president in the history of the universe brought his megalomaniacal tendencies to bear on a pushover president, operating unchecked and in deep-bunker secrecy while he and his lawyers dismantled fundamental civil liberties, a country unto himself.
As the George W. Bush administration struggles through its last two years in office, it appears that the agenda of neoconservative ideologues has finally lost its appeal among strategic parts of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus.
But as their influence has waned at the Pentagon and State Department, neo-conservative hawks have taken charge on the battlefield of public diplomacy.
Intent on fixing what American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Joshua Muravchik termed Bush's "public diplomacy mess," right-wing hawks have gained control of the weapons in the "war of ideas" -- U.S. government-funded and supported media outlets such as Voice of America (VOA), Al-Hurra, and Radio Farda, which broadcast to the Middle East and aim to offer an alternative view of the news.
In the early hours of Monday morning, a huge Israeli force comprised of Israeli police, border authorities, bulldozers and military vehicles, began the forcible removal of families from the Um Al Hayran village in the Negev.
An Israeli soldier captured by Islamists a year ago said in an audiotape played on Palestinian television Monday that he needed medical aid and urged Israeli authorities to free Palestinian prisoners to secure his release.
"I am Gilad Shalit. I am not feeling very well and I need to be treated in a hospital. I regret that the Israeli government has been paying so little attention to my problem, failing to meet the demands of Izzedine al-Qassam Brigade," he said speaking in Hebrew.
Shalit, 20, was seized last June to be exchanged for Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Hamas's militant wing was one of three groups to have claimed responsibility for the abduction.
An increasingly crowded market for 24-hour news is facing a new rival -- a channel from Iran whose self-proclaimed aim is to break the "stranglehold" of the West over the world's media.
Iran's state broadcaster is to launch "Press TV" on July 2 at a time of mounting international tension over its nuclear program, complete with international journalists brought in from foreign countries including Britain.
U.S.-led coalition and NATO forces fighting insurgents in Afghanistan have killed at least 203 civilians so far this year - surpassing the 178 civilians killed in militant attacks, according to an Associated Press tally.
Insurgency attacks and military operations have surged in recent weeks, and in the past 10 days, more than 90 civilians have been killed by airstrikes and artillery fire targeting Taliban insurgents, said President Hamid Karzai.
Paul Muolo National Mortgage News 2007-06-25 12:01:00
Mortgage bankers funded just $88 billion in subprime residential loans during the first quarter with dozens of shops failing and concerns about credit quality - and delinquencies - taking their toll on the sector.
According to exclusive survey figures compiled by National Mortgage News and the Quarterly Data Report, subprime accounted for just 12% of all loans originated in the U.S., compared to a high of 24% in 2005.
JOHN GITTELSOHN and RONALD CAMPBELL OC Register 2007-06-25 09:50:00
In another fallout from Orange County's subprime mortgage industry collapse, Brookstreet Securities Corp., an Irvine broker dealer, shut its doors and laid off 100 local employees because it could not meet margin calls on complex securities backed by faltering mortgages, company spokeswoman Julie Mains said.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard The Telegraph 2007-06-25 09:46:00
The Bank for International Settlements, the world's most prestigious financial body, has warned that years of loose monetary policy has fuelled a dangerous credit bubble, leaving the global economy more vulnerable to another 1930s-style slump than generally understood.
"Virtually nobody foresaw the Great Depression of the 1930s, or the crises which affected Japan and Southeast Asia in the early and late 1990s. In fact, each downturn was preceded by a period of non-inflationary growth exuberant enough to lead many commentators to suggest that a 'new era' had arrived", said the bank.
The BIS, the ultimate bank of central bankers, pointed to a confluence a worrying signs, citing mass issuance of new-fangled credit instruments, soaring levels of household debt, extreme appetite for risk shown by investors, and entrenched imbalances in the world currency system.
Aaron C. Davis Associate Press 2007-06-25 14:17:00
California officials declared a state of emergency Monday in the area near Lake Tahoe where firefighters battled a raging forest fire that has destroyed 225 buildings and forced the evacuation of hundreds more.
Global climate change is causing Antarctic ice shelves to shrink and split apart, yielding thousands of free-drifting icebergs in the nearby Weddell Sea. According to a new study in this week's journal Science these floating islands of ice - some as large as a dozen miles across - are having a major impact on the ecology of the ocean around them, serving as "hotspots" for ocean life, with thriving communities of seabirds above and a web of phytoplankton, krill, and fish below.
Biofuels invoke an image of renewable abundance that allows industry, politicians, the World Bank, the United Nations and even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to present fuel from corn, sugarcane, soy and other crops as a replacement for oil that will bring about a smooth transition to a renewablefuel economy.
Myths of abundance divert attention from powerful economic interests that benefit from this biofuels transition, avoiding discussion of the growing price that citizens of the global South are beginning to pay to maintain the consumptive oil-based lifestyle of the North. Biofuel mania obscures the profound consequences of the industrial transformation of our food and fuel systems -- the agro-fuels transition.
Pakistan evacuated thousands of people from southern coastal areas ahead of a possible cyclone, two days after a storm killed at least 235 people in the port city of Karachi, officials said.
The meteorological department issued an alert saying that a tropical storm forming in the Arabian Sea 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Karachi was likely to intensify into a cyclone in the next six to 12 hours.
The number of foreign workers sickened by food poisoning at the construction of a new terminal at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport has risen to 433, a food safety watchdog spokesperson said Monday.
The mass food poisoning hit the Turkish construction company Enka's summer camp near Moscow last week. Local food safety officials said earlier that all patients, mainly nationals of Georgia, Uzbekistan and other former Soviet states, had been diagnosed with salmonella infection.
"Three hundred and seventeen people are in hospital in [nearby] Solnechnogorsk, and another 116 are being treated at the Morozovka holiday center, where they have been accommodated," Olga Gavrilenko said.
Gavrilenko said all the patients were receiving appropriate treatment and food, and that none of them had been released from hospital yet.
Jessica M. Pasco Associated Press 2007-06-25 12:16:00
Eben Bayer grew up on a farm in Vermont learning the intricacies of mushroom harvesting with his father. Now the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate is using that experience to create an organic insulation made from mushrooms.
More at home on a pizza, mushrooms certainly aren't a typical building material, but Bayer thought they just might work when given the assignment two years to create a sustainable insulation.
Combining his agricultural knowledge with colleague Gavin McIntyre's interest in sustainable technology, the two created their patented "Greensulate" formula, an organic, fire-retardant board made of water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite, a mineral blend found in potting soil. They're hoping the invention will soon be part of the growing market for eco-friendly products.
Physicists in France have made the first direct measurement of the Boltzmann constant by laser spectroscopy. The new technique, which involves observing how light is absorbed by ammonia molecules, is currently much less accurate than existing methods for measuring the constant. However, the researchers are confident that its accuracy could easily be improved and that the technique could help to create a new and improved definition of the kelvin unit of temperature.
The Boltzmann constant, kB, is a fundamental constant of nature that relates the kinetic energy of an ensemble of microscopic particles -- such as gas molecules -- to its temperature. As a result, it provides the crucial link between the microscopic world of atoms and molecules and the macroscopic properties of matter such as pressure. So far, there is only one technique -- measuring the speed of sound in argon gas - that can determine kB to an accuracy of about 2 parts-per-million (ppm). Other techniques for determining kB include measuring noise in a resistor; determining the dielectric constant of a gas; and measuring the radiation emitted from a black body. However, none of these techniques has yet to reach ppm accuracy.
Having a number of independent measurements of kB - those based on techniques that are subject to different systematic errors - at the ppm level is particularly important to the Paris-based International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM), which is planning to redefine the kelvin in 2011 using kB.
Our earliest ancestors gave up hunter-gathering and took to a settled life up to 400,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to controversial research.
The accepted timescale of Man's evolution is being challenged by a German archaeologist who claims to have found evidence that Homo erectus - mankind's early ancestor, who migrated from Africa to Asia and Europe -began living in settled communities long before the accepted time of 10,000 years ago.
The point at which settlement actually took place is the first critical stage in humanity's cultural development.
A judge ruled Monday in favor of a dry cleaner that was sued for $54 million over a missing pair of pants.
The owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the city's Consumer Protection Act by failing to live up to Roy L. Pearson (nyse: PSO - news - people )'s expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store window, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled.
Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay the court costs of defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung.
Pearson, an administrative law judge, originally sought $67 million from the Chungs, claiming they lost a pair of suit trousers and later tried to give him a pair that he said was not his. He arrived at the amount by adding up years of alleged law violations and almost $2 million in common law claims.
Slightly more than half of polled Russians know what the color scheme on the national flag looks like, while only one-third can cite the opening lines of the Russian national anthem, an opinion research center said Monday.
Fifty-five percent of respondents in a survey conducted by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Study managed to name the colors and their sequence on the national flag, while 34% were able to name the colors but failed to place them in the right order.
Only 34% of respondents remembered the opening lines of the Russian national anthem, which has the same music as the Soviet anthem, but with new words, while 32% gave the wrong answer and 35% did not answer at all.
SUAMICO, Wis. - Only in Wisconsin do beer and exercise mix. Several hundred people laced up Sunday morning for a two-mile charity race in which suds were the refresher of choice. Competitors in the 19th annual Beer Belly Two might not be considered athletes, but they know how to have a good time.