Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance in the film "Top Hat" (1935).
Heaven, I'm in Heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak;
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek.
Heaven, I'm in Heaven,
And the cares that hang around me thro' the week
Seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak
When we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek.
Oh! I love to climb a mountain,
And to reach the highest peak,
But it doesn't thrill me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek.
Oh! I love to go out fishing
In a river or a creek,
But I don't enjoy it half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek.
Dance with me
I want my arm about you;
The charm about you
Will carry me thro' to Heaven
I'm in Heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak;
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek.
Fahd Saleh Suleiman al Jutayli was reportedly killed in a shootout in northern Yemen. Photo courtesy of the NEFA Foundation.
The Saudi government included these 3 former Guantanamo detainees – Jutayli, Shehri, and Ghamdi - on a list of the Kingdom’s 85 most wanted terrorists.
Yusuf al-Shehri, a former Gitmo detainee, reportedly informed his family of Jutayli’s death. Photo courtesy of the NEFA Foundation.
After being released from Guantanamo, they graduated from Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program and joined 8 other former Gitmo detainees in fleeing south to Yemen.
Othman al-Ghamdi, former Gitmo detainee, reportedly informed his family of Jutayli’s death. Photo courtesy of the NEFA Foundation.
All 11 joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Read the story at The Long War Journal.
Gee, I thought the economy was improving? [sarcasm]
SEPTEMBER CHICAGO PURCHASING MANAGERS INDEX **: 46.1 ACTUAL VS 52 ESTIMATE
- Prices Paid: 51.3 v 50.0 last
- New Orders: 46.3 v 52.5 last
- Employment: 38.8 v 38.7 last
- Inventories: 38.9 v 27.5 last
- Supplier Deliveries: 49.3 v 54.6 last
- Production: 47.2 v 52.9 last
- Order Backlogs: 36.7 v 45.8 last
Let's see... besides the topline miss [which is bad], we have prices paid up (bad), new orders down (bad), employment up 0.1% (marginally better to flat) [This is an average based upon phone surveys. How many unemployed can afford a phone?], inventories up (bad if you're not selling 'em!), supplier deliveries down (bad), production down (bad) and order backlogs collapsing (really bad.)
I know it probably gets old, but I told 'ya [bulls] were smoking 'dem "green shoots"! -- via The Market Ticker
** The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is an indicator for economic activity.
A PMI index over 50 indicates that the economy is expanding while anything below 50 means that the economy is contracting. -- Wikipedia
Smuggling and bootlegging aren't the only result of over taxation of tobacco products. Smokers everywhere are finding out how easy it is to grow and process their own tobacco. This interview is of Bob Kemp, one of thousands of new growers who have chosen to not encourage bad behavior in government by paying their exorbitant taxes, but rather to cut government off from their majority share of commercial tobacco profits by growing it himself.
This video will explain and illustrate the complex processes of curing and fermentation of tobacco. Curing and fermentation are critical aspects of the production of premium cigars.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
In order to build a raised garden bed, it’s important to clear all of the weeds and to use a rototiller. Avoid walking on a raised bed so that roots remain undisturbed by following the advice of an organic farmer in this free video on gardening and horticulture.
Expert: Jarrett Man. Contact: stonesoupfarm.googlepages.com. Bio: Jarrett Man created and runs Stone Soup Farm, an organic vegetable and fruit operation in Belchertown, Mass. Filmmaker: EquilibrioFilms, Jenn. Via Gardening News.
By Clyde Williams Ickes III, via Mother Earth News
One of my family's favorite autumn activities is sitting around the fire and cracking nuts . . . but even such a pleasurable pursuit can become pretty darn frustrating when the nuts continually shatter into tiny fragments trapped in the mazelike compartments of their shells. And, according to popular conceptions, one of the worst offenders in the hard-to-husk category is hickory (a member, as is the pecan, of the genus Carya).
Hickory nut meats are rarely found on grocery shelves, simply because the kernels are so difficult to extract in large pieces. But you can forage a bushel of the odd-shaped nuts in one afternoon . . . and then (believe it or not!) shell them yourself to reap mostly large, beautiful nutmeat "halves". In fact, it's my opinion that every fruit, nut, or seed has a hidden "zipper" or "door" somewhere . . . all a person has to do is find the combination and open 'er up!
THE MYSTERY IS SOLVED
A lot of folks think that hickories—which are native to most areas of eastern North America—are well-nigh impossible to crack neatly . . . but if you strike one of the nuts in just the right spot, the shell will fracture along clean lines almost every time. I discovered the secret quite by accident one day while shelling a bowlful: I began to notice that if I struck one of the nuggets in a particular place—ping!—a piece of shell would fly in one direction and bounce off the screen door. I soon found that the predictable breakage pattern was due to the interior architecture (or framework) of the pod itself. A membranous partition—called the septum—divides the kernel in such a way that when a nut is struck near its stem end (where the thickest part of that membrane attaches to the outer hull), the shock waves can travel along the septum and through the shell . . . causing the rugged casing to fall apart in six separate pieces.
Hickory nuts usually begin to drop from the trees in early autumn, as soon as they're loosened by rain or frost. But, if you want to forage a good supply, be sure to head for the nearest grove as soon as the nuts start falling . . . since this wild food is a favorite of squirrels. The plume-tailed scavengers are skillful hickory hunters too . . . if you're not quick, they may plunder your entire local crop before you have time to collect any nuts at all!
Take a bucket or sack with you on foraging trips (or just wear an apron with big pockets), and use a small stick to scratch around in the leaves under each tree. Most of the nuts you pick up will still be encased in their rough, dark hulls . . . which have to be removed before you can start cracking them. Some gatherers stomp on their crop to de-husk the "fruits", but I usually pick the sections of the outer coverings off carefully, one at a time. Whichever way you remove the hulls, though, don't throw away those hand-staining pods . . . they can be used as mulch material for your garden.
Once you've toted your harvest home, you'll need to sort through the pile and remove any "rotten apples". (Discard nuts with discolored shells, grub holes, or a dry and wrinkled appearance.) The husked nuts should then be washed and dried before they're opened: Thoroughly rinse off all mud and debris and spread your hoard in the sun for a few days. It helps—during this period—to stir the nuts around every once in a while, so they'll dry out evenly.
THE "MEAT" OF THE MATTER
Once it's completely dehydrated, your hickory crop will be ready to be cracked open. First, assemble the few tools you'll need: a hammer, a nutpick, a brick, and a pan. (Don't try to use a lever-type nutcracker for this operation, because it will simply crush the meats into fragments.)
Place the brick on a hard, level surface (such as concrete) and set the pan next to it. Then grasp a nut between your left thumb and forefinger, with its stem end pointing toward the right. Balance the hickory on top of the brick (narrow edge downward) and aim your hammer at a spot about 1/3 of the way down from the stem.
Whack that spot with a short, sharp blow . . . and the nut will pop right open. Of course, the shells can't be counted on to split perfectly every time. The single most important factor will be the weight and striking force of the hammer blow . . . which you'll have to learn by experience. (In fact, you may have to crack a bushel or two of nuts before you really perfect the technique.)
As you open each nut, drop the meat-containing sections into the collection pan at the side of the brick. Then—when you've cracked a good supply of hickories—you can use a pick to remove those delicious kernels . . . and don't forget to throw the shell fragments in the bird feeder, since your feathered visitors love to peck at any tiny morsels you may have missed.
Finally—once you've accumulated a large pan full of nutmeats—sit back and relax. ( You're entitled to a bit of gloating over your accomplishment . . . after all, not every hickory forager knows how to break into those tenacious nuts most efficiently! ) Then, when you want to put the tasty crop to use, you can enjoy the oil rich nuggets raw, toasted, or added to cake and cookie recipes.
It's easy to roast the chewy pieces, either on the stove or in the oven. For range-top toasting, use a dry, unoiled pan—or cookie sheet—set over medium heat. Spread the nutmeats evenly across the pan and stir them often, until they turn light brown. Then quickly move the seeds to a cool surface, so they won't continue to brown.
For oven roasting, simply warm the nuts in a shallow pan—at 200°F—until they're a golden color. (You can make a wholesome nut butter from your roasted hickories . . . by grinding the meats in a blender, along with enough safflower oil to produce the desired texture and salt to taste.)
Hickory nuts can also be used as delicious substitutes for pecans or walnuts in bread and dessert recipes . . . simply add the same amount of the wild nuts as you would normally use of the other varieties. You might, for instance, want to try this Old-Fashioned Hickory Molasses Pie . . . which I adapted from a traditional recipe (using pecans) that's featured in the Deaf Smith Country Cookbook.
To make the family-pleasing dessert, fold together the following ingredients: 1-1/2 cups of unsulfured molasses, 4 beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the ingredients are well blended, stir in 1 cup of finely chopped hickory nuts . . . and pour the mixture into a 9- or 10-inch unbaked whole wheat pie crust. Then cook the pie in a moderate (350°F) oven for 35-45 minutes.
You can enjoy the wild flavor of hickory nuts in lots of dishes, once you've mastered the art of removing the meats. And—as you now know—it doesn't have to be as hard to crack hickories as their "bad" reputation might have led you to believe. I've been shelling the tasty nuts for a lot of years, and I can tell you from experience that the wild delicacies are well worth the extra effort and practice that's required to learn their "secret"!
"The future's uncertain and the end is always near." -- Jim Morrison
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By Avery Goodman via Seeking Alpha
Hyperinflation is a devastating phenomenon. It wipes out the middle class by destroying the value of cash, savings, bonds and other paper instruments. But, how does it affect stock markets? With the Federal government just having added $5.2 trillion in Fannie/Freddie liabilities of which about $600 billion will likely default, the Federal Reserve having now polluted its balance sheet by some $700 billion worth of toxic mortgage bonds with a 41.6% default rate ($291 billion in likely defaults), an $85 billion bailout for AIG, and, now [Sept. 2008], the Administration asking for some $700 billion more to bail out financial firms, it seems clear that the winds of hyperinflation are upon us. What will be the comparative effect of hyperinflation upon index funds, like DIA, QQQ, and SPY, versus bonds and cash?
Click image to enlarge.
Hyperinflation is not a particularly uncommon episode in human history. It has occurred in the following countries in the last 150 years: Weimar Republic of Germany 1920 – 23 (1/466 billionth of starting value), Zimbabwe 2003 - Now (6 quadrillionth of the starting value and continuing to fall), Former Soviet Union 1993 – 2002 (1/14th of starting value), Argentina 1975 – 1983 (1/1,000th of starting value), Austria 1921 – 23 (about ¼ of starting value), Bolivia 1984 - 86 (1/1,000 of starting value); Bosnia-Herzegovina 1992 – 93 (1/100,000th of starting value), Brazil 1960 – 94 (1 trillionth of starting value), Chile 1971 – 73 (1/3rd of starting value), China 1947 – 55 (1/10,000th of starting value), Greece 1943 – 53 (1/50 trillionth of starting value), Hungary 1945 – 46 (100 quintillionth of the starting value), Hungary 1922 – 23 (1/4 of starting value), Israel 1976 – 86 (1/16th of starting value), Japan 1934 – 51 (1/362nd of starting value), Poland 1990 – 94 (1/10,000th of starting value), U.S.A. (Confederate States of America) 1861 – 65 (1/90th of starting value, and then, by the end of the Civil War, the Confederate Dollar depreciated to zero). It also happened in the ancient Roman Empire, when the silver and gold coinage of that day was progressively debased with base metals, in order to fund wars, giveaways to the Plebeians, and various other adventures. There are many additional examples that I have not bothered to cover here.
The most studied hyperinflation episode was the early 1920s, in the Weimar Republic of Germany. At the end of the First World War, the mark to dollar ratio was trading at 9:1. By July 1921 the ratio had risen to 77:1, and prices more than doubled again by January 1922, as the ratio of marks to the dollar climbed to 192:1. By the time that the Weimar government introduced the Rentenmark in November 1923, which replaced the deflated mark, the exchange rate had risen to 4.2 trillion marks to the dollar.
Germany’s economic situation in the early 1920s, except for being a defeated combatant in World War I, is frighteningly similar to our own economic situation, today. We can trace the road to hyperinflation, step by step, and compare Germany’s path to the path that is now being travelled by the U.S. Germany abandoned the gold standard in 1914. America abandoned the gold standard, 57 years later, in 1971. Back in 1914, the German government did not expect World War I to last very long, and the war wasn’t properly budgeted, and, instead, it was financed by deficit spending. Similarly, in 2003, the Iraq War was not expected to last very long, and was financed by deficit spending. However, in comparison to the size of the German economy in 1914 and the U.S. economy in 2003, the Iraq War is a somewhat cheaper war.
After WWI, Germany suffered a severe current account deficit, just like the current account deficit we now have in the USA. About 1/3rd of their deficit was generated by the need to pay gold to European allied governments as war “reparations”. But, the rest was due to economic mismanagement, and 2/3rd of the German current account deficit was composed of non-war related spending. Back then, other than for war reparations, America was Germany’s biggest creditor, with American financial institutions, particularly J.P. Morgan, Jr., arranging for consortium loans to the Weimar government, its businesses and industries. News accounts, from that time, indicate that the Weimar German government, like the American government now, was far more concerned with avoiding recession, lowering the unemployment rate, and stimulating business activity than it was about inflation.
German economists in the 1920s thought, just as American economists think now, that a cheaper currency helps stimulate export activity and industrial production. Germany needed exports to buy raw materials, just as the U.S. needs them, now, to buy oil and Asian made consumer goods. Back then, however, the United States was a net creditor nation. It played that role in relation to Germany, similar to the role played by Asian nations, including China and Japan, toward the USA, except that, instead of exporting consumer goods, the 1920s USA exported mostly raw materials to Germany. United States financial firms, in the early 1920s had great faith in Germany, and were buying German government bonds, and supplying loans to facilitate purchase of American commodities. These loans offset the German trade imbalance, just as Chinese Treasury bill and bond buying now offsets the U.S. current account deficit.
When financiers like JP Morgan, Jr., however, finally decided that Germany was no longer a good credit risk, they cut off funds. After that, everything fell apart very quickly. By 1923, you needed a trillion marks to buy one dollar. The German financial class managed, to some extent, to avoid some of the losses, by purchasing large quantities of gold and other hard assets. The German middle class, however, lost everything. This led to a deep resentment of Jews, who dominated the German financial industry, and, later, it gave birth to the Nazi movement and the murder of millions of innocent Jewish people.
German Wholesale Price Index
All factories, houses and buildings were still standing, before, during and after 1920s German hyperinflation, just as they will be in 2011 America. Germany in the roaring 20’s was still a potentially rich nation, just as America will be in 2011. But, the stored work product of a generation, represented by the symbols of stored wealth, in the form of cash, savings, stocks, bonds and other paper instruments, became essentially worthless, almost overnight. The same may happen here.
For America, like 1920s Germany, the hyperinflationary trigger will not come from within the nation. It will come from outside. Eventually, China, Japan, and/or some other nation, will see the endlessly increasing American deficit spending as a threat to the viability of the U.S. dollar. In response, they will reduce their purchases of treasury bills. This will bring America to her knees. Indeed, there is already talk, in China, about the danger of keeping Chinese foreign reserves predominantly in the form of U.S. dollar denominated treasury bills and bonds. The Chinese are talking about diversifying away from the U.S. dollar. This will happen, eventually, no matter what we do. It is not a matter of “if”, but, rather, of when.
The joint mismanagement of the American economy by sequential administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have insured that we are now totally dependent upon the whims of the Asian governments. When it finally happens, dollar denominated paper will begin to lose value very quickly. The U.S.A., with a hollowed out economy, is no longer producing much of anything but agricultural products, some sophisticated technological products, a lot of internal services and housing. The need for imports, using a deflated dollar, will swing the country into a hyperinflationary downward spiral.
It will not happen overnight, but it will happen. The situation is so far advanced, at this point, that no matter what we do, there is probably no way around it. The new plan, from this Administration, to buy toxic mortgage instruments from the irresponsible financial firms who caused the credit crisis is not going to stop it, and may very well be the straw that breaks the “camel’s back.”
At minimum, the U.S. dollar will depreciate by the amount by which the Federal balance sheet is corrupted by the toxic mortgage paper. Most frightening is the prospect of giving Hank Paulson, the prior Chairman of Goldman Sachs, one of the key creators of the toxic mortgage instruments that have caused the credit crisis, unlimited discretion in doling out $700 billion in bailouts, without any possibility of judicial review. Doing that assures that the money is used in the most inefficient and nepotistic manner. It will bring us deeper into hyperinflation.
We can rationally expect that the US dollar will lose about 75% of its value, within 2-3 years. [Written in 2008.] Cash in the form of government and/or corporate bonds, money in CDs and other bank accounts, will be hit the hardest. General index fund type of investments, such as DIA, SPY, QQQ, and the like will also be very bad investments. Stocks, in general, do not do well in a highly inflationary environment. However, if the Weimar experience is any guide, stocks will do much better than bonds or cash. Financial and retail stocks, however, will be the worst investments of all equities sectors. The best investments, in contrast, will be gold, silver, shares of companies whose assets consist of modern plant & equipment, productive lands, and other hard assets that will retain value.
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10/15/2009 Update: Has the U.S. Reached the Hyperinflation Tipping Point? -- Answer.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Ila Hatter teaches us about some of the wild spring greens found up in the Great Smokey Mountains.
Learn some of the 'rules' of wild plant foraging: (1.) Identification, (2.) Location, (3.) Multiplication.
Iran has been secretly developing a second uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom. Photo: REUTERS.
The small number of centrifuges at this facility, raises questions about how efficiently the Iranians could produce enough enriched uranium at Qom for a big nuclear reactor to generate power, as the Iranians claim.
Using the types of centrifuges the Iranians use, known as P-1s, with 3,000 of them, would “take years to produce enough material for even one reactor load,” said Joseph Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, a nonprofileration organization. But in “one year,” he said, a 3,000-centrifuge facility could conceivably “enrich enough uranium for one crude nuclear weapon.”
According to calculations by nuclear expert Andreas Persbo posted to the blog ArmsControlWonk, the facility could produce about 40 kilograms worth of high-enriched uranium in that time, enough for about one and a half bombs. -- Washington Independent
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The Sum Of All Fears used a lot of unknown singers and artists in its soundtrack. Nevertheless, the compilationfeaturing an original score by Jerry Goldsmith turned out to be truly brilliant. [Spoiler Warning]
Italian Lyrics "Nessun Dorma"
Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che tremano d'amore
e di speranza.
Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun saprà!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo dirò
quando la luce splenderà!
Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio
che ti fa mia!
(Il nome suo nessun saprà!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)
Dilegua, o notte!
English Translation of "Nessun Dorma"
Nobody shall sleep!...
Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, o Princess,
in your cold room,
watch the stars,
that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
my name no one shall know...
On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!...
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!
via The Daily Bail
When I recently read the Wegelin & Co. Investment Commentary 265 dated August 24, 2009, it became clear to me that what would appear to be a nation where public and private borrowing has simply spiraled out of control is in fact much worse than it appears. In reading the report I skimmed down to Section 5, titled The USA’s Achilles Heel. As I read the section it became abundantly apparent that amidst all the bailout and stimulus money flying around there is an even greater story, a devastating one, the likes of which has not found its way into the main stream media. The story goes like this.
A look at who are the most important creditors of America’s highly indebted public finances reveals something truly remarkable. It is the public authorities themselves! A study by Sprott Asset Management, a Canadian asset management firm distinguished for its intelligent macroeconomic analyses, showed that in 2008 over 4 trillion of the total outstanding public debt of some 10 trillion, or around 40 percent, was in the hands of so-called “intragovernmental holdings”. These holdings include social welfare institutions, whose assets, accumulated in order to be (halfway) able to meet future liabilities, are invested in special Treasury debt instruments, known as “intragovernmental bonds”. In other words, the paying recipient of, say, Medicare, the American health service, is an indirect source of finance for the Treasury. Unusual, remarkable, or rather, alarming? Debtors are now simultaneously creditors.
Many Americans are aware that our government has been tapping the tills of Social Security and Medicare but the methods by which they are doing it are so destructive the ramifications are nearly unimaginable. The Wegelin report states emphatically that our nation’s public trust funds – trusts that are theoretically funded by US taxpayer dollars and government (deficit) borrowings – are in fact holders of 40% of outstanding US Treasury debt (see chart above.) Think about that. A parallel scenario would be one man taking out a credit card to pay another man back for money loaned to the first man from the second man’s credit card – but in reality they’re both using the same credit card. And they keep doing it over and over and over. I actually laughed when I wrapped my mind around that one.
These “intragovernmental bonds” are certainly not assets of genuine intrinsic value. Were we to consolidate both balance sheets – that of the Treasury and that of the institution concerned – it would produce a tautologous situation that would result in the total loss of value of the social welfare trust’s assets if the Treasury were in a position to avail itself of the capital market to an even greater extent.
It is no wonder that the Obama administration would fight so hard to grow this nation’s health care system to megalithic proportions. In doing so they would create yet another mechanism by which to mask the transfer of government deficits behind the veil of shadow accounting. Clinton used similar methods to create ’shadow’ surpluses by shifting social security tax receipts as income (credits) with no offsetting debit for future liability. Viola’. Surplus. Just like magic. Now Obama is headed down the same shadowy path. While the fate of Obama’s health care plan is yet to be determined, if it were to pass into legislation one thing is for certain – the US taxpayer would suffer unnecessary costs when public funds are mismanaged through shadow accounting.
And of course, as always, on the sideline stands the Federal Reserve – no doubt cheerleading for a new source of public fund manipulation so as to push private losses onto the public balance sheet. If the Obama health care plan fails to pass in Congress the ultimate culmination of this crisis will come sooner rather than later as the Fed and Treasury will have one less slush fund to tap.
My take-away from the Wegelin & Co. report is this – when the music stops who will be left standing? Foreign holders of our debt? Or perhaps the American citizenry? Therein lies the real crisis yet to unfold. Someone is going to stiffed.
The Wegelin report is titled, Farewell America. While I hope this title is either premature or incorrect altogether, I fear my hopes are naive. Perhaps a more appropriate title might have been, Farewell Trust – because If there’s one thing this crisis has taught me, maybe all of us, it’s that trust, the foundation on which all capitalism is born, is gone. -- ###
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“While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls - the World.” -- Lord Byron
Inside the Coliseum
h/t: Teak, who's on a roll sourcing stories.
Barack Obama's amazingly consistent smile
Ladies and gentlemen, your President is a robot. Or a wax sculpture. Maybe a cardboard cutout. All I know is no human being has a photo smile this amazingly consistent. [cough... antichrist... cough]
On Wednesday, the Obamas hosted a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, during which they stood for 130 photographs with visiting foreign dignitaries in town for the UN meeting. The President has exactly the same smile in every single shot. See for yourself — the pictures are up on the State Department’s flickr (link below.) And, of course, compressed into 20 seconds for your viewing pleasure.
Music is Cold Hands by the Black Lips.
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... of terrorist supporters.
"There's a sucker born every minute." -- P.T. Barnum
July, 2002 -- Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who delights in being known as the Middle East's Warren Buffett, bought $500 million more shares of Citigroup stock, saying the shares are ''very tempting'' after losing 27 percent of their value this year. ''Citigroup is very cheap, too cheap at current prices,'' said the prince, the 45-year-old nephew of [then] King Fahd. [CIT closed at $1.61 a share on Friday.]
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Saudi families may default on their debt
AHAB is suing Sanea in a case involving allegations of $10 billion in financial irregularities, a legal battle that reached U.S. courts and raised questions about Saudi banks' lending practices.
Some bankers say the total cost of writedowns from Saad and AHAB may hit $22 billion and affect 120 banks including Citigroup Inc.
In addition, the Saad group involved in infrastructure among other businesses may file for bankruptcy. -- Story
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Click image to enlarge.
Saudi charity funding pro al-Qaeda terror outfits in Pakistan
A Saudi Arabian charity has funded 15 million dollars to a pro al-Qaeda militant organization to carry out terror attacks in Pakistan, Pakistani police has claimed.” The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is likely to strike major cities of the Punjab.
According to the report, a major chunk of funds gathered by Al-Haramain Foundation goes to fund terror activities of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. The Al-Haramain Foundation has been banned by the UN Security Council for its links to al-Qaeda.
Click image to enlarge.
Offices of these three leading Saudi charities played key roles in moving millions of dollars to jihadists, terrorists, or insurgents in some 20 countries.
MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE
Est. annual budget: $45 million
Branch offices: 36
Terror ties: Early '90s, Manila branch sends cash to Islamic guerrillas in Philippines; 2001-02, MWL's Rabita Trust affiliate designated as terrorist group by U.S. for al Qaeda ties; 2002, federal agents raid U.S. offices of MWL in terrorist financing case.
AL HARAMAIN FOUNDATION
Est. annual budget: $53 million
Branch offices: 50
Terror ties: 1996, CIA links group to Egyptian extremists and Bosnian jihadists; 1999, Moscow claims group transferred money and arms to Chechen rebels; 2002, staffer nabbed at Manila airport with explosives; 2003, U.S. says branches in 10 countries provide arms or cash to terrorists.
INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC RELIEF ORGANIZATION
Est. annual budget: $46 million
Branch offices: 80
Terror ties: Early '90s, Manila branch funnels cash to Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front; 1996, CIA reports funding of jihadists in Balkans and Afghanistan, and ties to Algerian and Egyptian extremists, al Qaeda, and Hamas; 1998, FBI traces suspected Hamas money in Chicago to IIRO; 1999, staffer suspected in bomb plot admits IIRO funds Afghan terror training camps.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
This is a great recipe for homemade laundry detergent. The ingredients (washing soda and borax) cost about $5.00 at Walmart, and will make quite a few recipes. I STRONGLY recommend this laundry soap. It is inexpensive and does a good job of cleaning. It doesn't leave a strong scent in the clothes, just a nice general clean smell. Try it out and see if it is something you want to do to save your family some money. The cost of this recipe is approximately $2.
Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
4 Cups Hot Tap Water
1 Fels-Naptha Soap Bar (I used Dial because I love the scent but, you may want to use one that is not highly perfumed.)
1 Cup Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax
Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
- Top Load Machine - 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
- Front Load Machines - ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)
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- or -
Amazon buyer review: I bought this Castile soap to use in natural cleaning recipes (for disinfectant, window cleaner, etc.) It's a good quality soap, and the awesome peppermint scent adds a nice touch - especially for disinfecting things like the interiors of lunch boxes and reusable shopping totes (the waterproof ones, not the cloth kind). Overall a great soap, and a must-have for natural cleaning! [I love this brand! - c]
Friday, September 25, 2009
Legendary Jim Sinclair known as Mr. Gold for his remarkably accurate timing regarding the gold bull market of the 70’s is the Founder of jsmineset.com and Chairman of Tanzanian Royalty Exploration.
In this interview Jim Sinclair discusses inflation, deflation, hyperinflation, the U.S. Dollar, gold, silver, social unrest, the Federal Reserve, commercial banks incorrectly positioned on the COT, fraudulent bank balance sheets, the equity market, future opportunity, gold and silver shares and much more.
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54 44 days...
Update: I wondered why Jim hesitated as he said "fifty-four" so I double checked the calendar. According to his letter dated August 19, he said then that we were 81 days from the implosion of the dollar. That puts the countdown today, September 25, at 44 days until, as he calls it, "the birth of publicly perceived hyperinflation." - c
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It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. -- Charles Darwin
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Follow the white rabbit. - c
A weapon which you don't have in your hand won't kill a snake. -- African Proverb
The huge national turnouts at the Tea Parties of April 15 [and 9/12] were only the beginning of a movement that was spurred by ordinary Americans waking up to Obama’s destruction of our economy, his attempts to reshape America into a banana republic, the grave damage he’s inflicted on our military and intelligence services, and his unsavory predilection for embracing our enemies and apologizing non-stop for the most magnificent nation on earth.
In short, they are waking up to the president who hates his country. <-- a must-read
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The Great One, Mark Levin, goes off on Obama.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The Obama administration's proposed overhaul of financial rules preserves the policy of "too big to fail," and
could will lead to future bailouts.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said Thursday that by designating some companies as critical to the broader financial system, the plans create an expectation that those firms enjoy government backing in tough times. That implies those financial companies "will be sheltered by access to a federal safety net," he said.
In testimony prepared for the House Financial Services Committee, Volcker said emergency measures by the Fed, Treasury and Congress during last year's financial crisis created the expectation that the government would step in to protect failing companies, their bond holders and stockholders.
[Volcker] said he opposed bailouts of insurance firms like American International Group Inc., automakers' finance arms and others.
"The safety net has been extended outside the banking system," Volcker said. "That's what I want to change." -- Yahoo Finance
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Julius Caesar's self-decreed minted coin. Photo by Rune Rysstad.
Gaius Julius Caesar played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
After assuming control of government, he began extensive reforms of Roman society and government. He heavily centralised the bureaucracy of the Republic and was eventually proclaimed "dictator in perpetuity" (dictator perpetuo). -- Wikipedia
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"Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
(William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar Act I, Sc. ii)
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A September 6, 2009 Telegraph article entitled "Barack Obama accused of making 'Depression' mistakes," noted that Dr. Charles K. Rowley, Duncan Black Professor of Economics, George Mason University, has written and published a monograph titled Economic Contractions in the United States: A Failure of Government. (George Mason Univ. doctoral student Nathanael Smith is a co-author.)
American Thinker delivers an excellent overview of the book and a must-read question and answer session with Dr. Rowley. It can be found here:
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
"This is lye - the crucial ingredient." -- Tyler Durden in Fight Club.
Lye, also known as NaOH, sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, is used in making soap, making paper, cleaning drains, biodiesel fuel production and more. [See uses via Wikipedia.] Also called Caustic Potash or Potassium Hydroxide, Lye can be easily made at home.
1. Start a rain barrel to catch soft water. This is a key step. Depending upon how much lye you want to leach, make sure that you have 2 or 3 gallons of soft water before you proceed.
2. Find a local brewer's supply house and pick up a wooden barrel and a cork about 3" long. You can use a cask-sized or waist-high barrel.
3. Take the barrel home and drill a hole in it approx. 2" above the bottom. Make sure that the cork will fit snugly into the hole.
4. Find a place that the barrel will be undisturbed. Lye is caustic. Take the necessary precautions. Put some bricks down and place the barrel on top of them. The brick base must be stable. It raises the barrel up so that you can easily drain off the lye into a container when it is ready. Give yourself room to work.
5. Cover the bottom of the barrel with some palm-sized clean rocks (e.g. river rock). Cover the rocks with approximately 6" of straw (this can be hay or grass). This will filter the ashes and help your lye drain cleanly.
6. Gather branches and/or logs of oak, ash, or fruit woods. Remember that the best lye is made from hardwoods. Avoid pine, fir, and other evergreens. Palm leaves work well if they are completely dried and brown.
7. Burn it outside in a pile, or better yet, use it in your fireplace or wood stove.
8. Scoop the ashes out and put them in the prepped barrel. (Make sure that the ash is completely cold, or you could set your barrel and anything around it on fire.) You can fill the barrel with ash, but it is not necessary; you can make smaller amounts with less ash.
9. Put a pan under the hole and remove the cork. Pour the soft water in until you see it start to drain into the pan, then put the cork back in tightly. The water level should be about 6" from the top. After a day, the first ash should settle and you can add more ash.
10. Let it sit for at least 3 days. You can add ash all week and drain it regularly on a specific day of the week.
11. Check to see if your lye is ready. For what purpose are you leaching this lye? Body soap or heavy cleaning? Lye concentration gets stronger with each leaching. For average soap making, you can use these measures: Drop a fist-sized potato or a raw egg into the barrel. If it floats enough for a quarter-size piece to rise above the water, it is ready. If it doesn't, you need to add more ashes or drain all the water and re-leach it (pour it back into the cask and let it set one more cycle).
12. Make sure that you have a wooden crock or glass container to catch your lye when it's ready. Put it under the tap, gently pull the cork, and fill your containers. Leave enough head room so that they will be safe and easy to pour. Make sure that you have tight, fitting lids.
13. Store your lye in a cool dark place until use. (The sooner the better.)
* Do not start this project until you have collected 2-3 gallons of rain water and have purchased or scavenged all of your supplies.
* Make sure that your lye barrel has a stable foundation and is in a secure place where it cannot be knocked over by, for example, roving children.
* If you run a dehumidifier, its collected water is an alternative to rainwater.
* You can also use electrically distilled water. The purer the water, the more potassium that can be leached from the ashes. Do not use bottled spring water or water from the tap! You can use bottled distilled water that was processed using steam distillation.
* To dispose of old, leached ashes, dig a hole away from everything and pour the muck into it. Don't cover it until the ashes dry thoroughly. [Better yet, put the spent ashes to good use again. See grandma's method below the video.]
* Lye is a base, also known as an alkali. Bases are caustic; they "burn" anything that they touch. Please use common sense and follow the tips provided.
* Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when draining off or handling your lye, it can burn your skin and blind you!
* For all backyard chemists, chemical-resistant gloves (the yellow kitchen ones will do), safety glasses and arm and body covering are mandatory.
Danger-Poison! Corrosive: Causes eye damage and severe skin burns!
- If swallowed:
- Rinse mouth with water and drink one or two glasses of water. Do not induce vomiting! Immediately get medical attention or call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
- If in eyes:
- Immediately flush eyes with water. Remove any contact lenses and continue to flush eyes with water for at least 20 minutes. Immediately get medical attention or call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
- If on skin:
- Gently wipe product from skin and remove any contaminated clothing. Flush skin with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes and then wash thoroughly with soap and water. Contact a physician or call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
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What my grandma knew was, if the water comin' out was a reddish-brown color, she was gettin' the lye out of the ashes. When the water lost its color and turned clear, she took the bucket away and stopped collecting it and took the spent ashes and put them on the garden to improve the soil and grow more food.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Since January the F.D.I.C. has seized 94 failing banks, causing a rapid decline in the deposit insurance fund. Despite a special assessment imposed on banks a few months ago to keep the fund afloat, its cash balance now stands at about $10 billion, a third of its size at the start of the year. (Another $32 billion has been set aside for failures that officials expect to occur in the coming months.)
[The FDIC estimated the the last two banks to fail (Louisville, Ky.-based Irwin Union Bank FSB and Columbus, Ind.-based Irwin Union Bank and Trust Co.) cost its insurance fund about $850 million. The FDIC expects that future bank failures will cost the insurance fund around $65 billion through 2013. The FDIC will fail. It's only a matter of time.]
The fund, which stands behind $4.8 trillion in insured deposits, could be wiped out [any day now] by the failure of a single large bank, although the deposit insurance corporation could always seek a taxpayer bailout by borrowing from the Treasury to stay afloat.
Under the law, the F.D.I.C. would not need permission from the Treasury to tap into a credit line of up to $100 billion. But such a step is said to be unpalatable to Sheila C. Bair, the agency chairwoman whose relations with the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, have been strained.
“Sheila Bair would take bamboo shoots under her nails before going to Tim Geithner and the Treasury for help,” said Camden R. Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers. “She’d do just about anything before going there.”
Officials say that the F.D.I.C. will issue a proposed plan next week to begin to restore the financial health of the ailing fund.
Senior regulators say they are seriously considering a plan to have the nation’s healthy banks lend billions of dollars to rescue the insurance fund that protects bank depositors. That would enable the fund, which is rapidly running out of money because of a wave of bank failures, to continue to rescue the sickest banks.
Borrowing from the industry is allowed under an obscure provision of a 1991 law adopted during the savings and loan crisis. The lending banks would receive bonds from the government at an interest rate that would be set by the Treasury secretary and ultimately would be paid by the rest of the industry. The bonds would be listed as an asset on the books of the banks. -- The New York Times
Can anyone else see this ending badly?
Worried about the health of your bank? Read:
Now my #1 most-read blog post -- of all time.
Written by Ralph R. Reiland, associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, via The New American.
On the morning after the huge 9/12 tea party march on Washington, there wasn’t much surprise in the lobby of our D.C. hotel about the coverage in the New York Times about the previous day’s event, a massive rally that Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the third-ranking Republican leader in the House of Representatives, described as “the largest gathering of conservatives in American history.”
One could add that it was the largest march in favor of capitalism in U.S. history. Who'd ever think that we'd need such a thing?
The Times ran a photo of the march on page 1, below the fold, but no article. Readers were instructed to go to page 37 for the coverage.
Two other stories were deemed more important for the Times’ front page. One, “Awakening Brooklyn for Ramadan, with a Big Drum, at 4 A.M.,” was about a Pakistani immigrant, Mohammad Boota, who beats his drum in the middle of the night on the sidewalks, a tradition that’s designed to rouse sleepers, explains the Times, “so they can eat a meal before the day’s fasting begins.”
It seems not to have occurred to Boota that alarm clocks would do the trick, ringing all across Brooklyn on the night stands of his fellow worshippers. With just the adoption of that small bit of Western technology, the late-night bar crowd, with heads already banging, could avoid being jolted out of bed by an added dose of banging from the street the minute their heads hit the pillow.
“Everywhere they complain,” Boota is quoted as saying. “People go, ‘What the h***? What you doing, man?’ They never know it’s Ramadan.”
A photo of Boota making his pre-dawn racket on the sidewalk is about twice as large as the Times’ photo of the protest rally.
The other front-page story that beat out coverage of the march, “In Wisconsin, Hopeful Signs For Factories,” reports that a Rockwell factory in Mequon “reinstated a shift, hiring a dozen workers.” A sign, I suppose, that Obamanomics is working its magic.
I went to page 37 to read the Times’ coverage of the rally and nothing was there except a story about a New York politician looking for illegals on a duck farm and an article about how an uninsured woman got an E-coli infection from a hamburger and now owes $400 a month in medical bills, “Without Health Care, and Just a Hamburger From Financial Ruin.”
I eventually found the Times’ article on the protest on page 33, directly facing an article on page 32 about President’s Obama’s brief stop at the Target Center in Minneapolis on the same day. The headlines described events of rough equivalency.
The headline about Obama’s speech at the partly-empty Target facility: “Thousands Rally in Minnesota Behind Obama’s Call for Health Care Overall.”
The Times’ headline about the Washington rally’s overflowing crowd (estimated at “as many as one million people” by London’s Daily Mail): “Thousands Attend Broad Protest of Government.”
At least one major news outlet noted the discrepancy. Reporting that Obama was “addressing a crowd numbering only a fraction of the total that turned out on the streets of Washington — 15,000 health reform supporters at the Target Center in Minneapolis, a venue that can hold over 25,000,” Investor’s Business Daily asked this question: “When Americans have to turn to the foreign press for truthful reports of the size of popular protests in Washington, it’s time to wonder: Are we dominated by ‘state-run media’?”
There wasn’t much wondering among the marchers about the mainstream media’s bias. Raising reasonable issues all summer at tea parties and town halls, they’d been either ignored or labeled as “Nazis,” “unAmerican,” “Brown Shirts,” “an angry mob,” “evil-mongers” — or as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it, “astroturfers.”
This time around, in vast and growing numbers, they carried homemade placards with slogans like “Can You Hear Us Now?,” “Hey Nancy, Ever See Astroturf Grow This Fast?,” “Axis of Evil: NBC, CBS, ABC.”
They weren’t alone. A Pew Research survey, released the following day, showed that only 29 percent of Americans believe that news organizations generally get their facts right, a two-decade low.
My favorite placards: “The Primitives are Pissed!,” “Where Will Canadians Go If We Socialize Health Care?,” “ACORN: A Sheltered Environment for Growing Nuts,” “Keep Pushing Us — See What Happens!,” “Czars, NYET!,” “We Came Unarmed — This Time!.”
And these — all good pro-capitalist economics: “My Life’s Work Is Not the Government’s Slush Fund,” “Atlas Has Shrugged,” “Spread My Work Ethic, Not My Wealth,” “John Galt Was Right.”
And the best: “Help Me Obama! They Want Me to Work and Stuff.”
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The Real Number of Protesters at the 9/12 Washington D.C. March [PDF]