February 28, 2010

IBM, Microsoft, Google, Verizon

Google Goes Green: The Internet Search Company Has Developed a Prototype Mirror for Solar Energy

February 26, 2010

Reuters - Google Inc. has developed a prototype for a new mirror technology that could cut by half the cost of building a solar thermal plant, the company's green energy czar said on Friday.

Bill Weihl said that if development and testing go well, he could see the product being ready in one to three years.

"Things have progressed," Weihl said in an interview. "We have an internal prototype."
Google has been looking at unusual materials for the mirror's reflective surface and the substrate on which the mirror is mounted.

In solar thermal technology, the sun's energy is used to heat a substance that produces steam to run a turbine. Mirrors focus the sun's rays on the heated substance.

The Internet search engine company, which has been investing in companies and doing research of its own to produce affordable renewable energy, wants to cut the cost of making heliostats, the fields of mirrors that track the sun.
"There is a decent chance that in a small number of years, we could have a 2-X reduction in cost," he said.
Global companies are increasingly investing in green technology as the world grapples with global warming and as governments strive to implement regulations that could limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Google has invested in two solar thermal companies, eSolar and BrightSource, with which it has discussed the new mirror technology, Weihl said.

He said the technology was not at a stage where it could be tested externally, but he added that both eSolar and BrightSource were interested in it.
"If it works, it would absolutely be something they would use," he said.

IBM Brings Data Center of Tomorrow to the 'World of Tomorrow'

January 29, 2010

Greener World Media - ... IBM lifted the curtain today on a new exhibit that showcases two facets of IBM's operations: its Smarter Planet project and its green data center operations.

The exhibit [at Disney's Epcot Center -- the Experimental Community of Tomorrow] touts technology's role in driving a more energy efficient future -- long the focus of IBM's forward-looking operations. (For an in-depth look at Smarter Planet, see this interview with Joel Makower and IBM's Rich Lechner: A Closer Look at IBM's 'Smarter Planet' Campaign.")

IBM's exhibit includes interactive kiosks showing how information technology touches nearly every facet of a more connected, more energy efficient future, from the smart grid to home energy management to traffic flow systems to water mapping and management ...

The Smart, Connected Planet is at the Heart of IBM's Pulse 2010

February 22, 2010

Greener World Media - Welcome to "the Decade of Smart."

That's how IBM's Al Zollar described the new decade to a crowd of several thousand IT professionals during the opening of the 2010 IBM Pulse conference here in Las Vegas this morning.

On stage under the rock-star lights and sounds of MGM's Grand Garden Arena, Zollar walked the crowd through what IBM is calling its Integrated Service Management (ISM) platform.

Aimed at nothing less than "optimizing the world's infrastructure," Zollar explained that ISM is an interconnected system that brings transparency, control and automation to the enterprise, with 20 industry-specific solutions already developed and more in the works. [Full disclosure: IBM paid my air fare and lodging fees to attend the Pulse event.]

Zollar explained the many threads of IBM's Tivoli service management platform, including tools to manage virtualized computing environments, data archiving and storage solutions, security management, and the sensors and monitors to oversee every piece of the puzzle on a single, integrated dashboard.
"IBM has invested over $6 billion in building and acquiring integrated service management capabilities," Zollar explained. "We are really serious about this."
While ISM as a platform was newly rolled out today at the event, it's the culmination of IBM's long strategic shift to expand from pure-play IT hardware and software into its "Smarter Planet," and initiative that aims to bring IBM's technological innovations and experties to bear on every aspect of the coming, connected world.

As part of today's rollout, IBM announced two major partnerships aimed at making the world's buildings smarter and more efficient. The first brings IBM together with Johnson Controls to create a Smart Building Solution that marries the expertise of the technology and efficiency giants to provide integrated building systems management on a broad scale.

The new offering will made it possible to improve operations, energy use and water consumption not only in a single building, but ideally in a portfolio of buildings, whether they are new or existing structures, the firms said in announcing their strategic partnership today in Las Vegas.

The capabilities of the ISM platform are expected to position the two firms even more strongly in the market to make buildings greener and smarter.
"This provides opportunities for some very large-scale projects," Clay Nesler, Johnson Controls' vice president for Global Energy and Sustainability explained in an interview today. "We can scale this up at a city level or a state level, and there is a lot of talk about smart grid and, of course, the grid is regional."
The solution will be showcased in a demonstration project in Europe, where IBM is a major customer of Johnson Controls' facilities management services, Nesler said.

In a press conference today, Zollar explained that the partnership builds on a long relationship between IBM and JCI that dates back to 2007, with the two companies working together to create more energy efficient data centers.
"This is a further integration of our technology with theirs," Zollar said, "in a way that allows organizations to achieve real improvements in the energy efficiency of their buildings."
From buildings as a whole to managing their interiors, IBM's second partnership today brings the company together with printer manufacturer Ricoh to apply smart policies to enterprise printing platforms.

The partnership will bundle a new device- and printer-management system with Ricoh hardware, enabling every office device with real-time tracking and monitoring systems. Once deployed, companies will be able to measure, manage and reduce the costs and wastes associated with excess or inefficient printing.

A recent study by Gartner found that companies with such smart printing policies and technologies in place can cut their printing costs by up to 30 percent.

Cities as the New Operating System

IBM's announcements today showcase how the comany is pushing for smarter buildings to become a cornerstone of their strategy to deliver smart urban infrastructure.
"We believe that smart buildings are critical to the long term environmental and economic sustainability of cities around the world," Rich Lechner, IBM's vice president of Energy & Environment, said during today's press conference. "This is not just about reducing waste," in wasted energy, wasted water, or the creation of waste, "it's about reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well."
And cities are the largest target in the climate fight: Buildings, and the energy they use for heat, light and cooling, are responsible for about 40 percent of the world's emissions today, and with the current skyrocketing of urbanization only expecting to increase, making buildings and cities more efficient is an urgent priority.

Lechner described cities as "the new operating system," and explained that that belief is at the core of the IBM's Smarter Planet initiative. Cities -- or universities, or corporations, or even homes -- are no longer unconnected, disparate elements, but rather must be managed as an interconnected whole.

During the opening keynote session this morning, IBM Vice President of Strategy and Development Laura Sanders and her team walked the crowd through an in-depth example of how a smart city could operate, using Las Vegas as an example. With smart metering and centralized monitoring, city officials can get instant updates when problems occur, and can even get predictive warnings when systems like water, electricity or sewers may be starting to give way.

IBM has implemented projects of these types all over the world, with some recent, water-related examples being Galway Bay in Ireland and the San Francisco Bay. But now the technology is at a state that data collection can be incorporated almost anywhere, and IBM is positioning its Tivoli / ISM platform to lead the charge.

To drive home the high-level, global nature of the initiative, the closing speaker at this mornings kickoff keynote was former vice president and climate crusader Al Gore, who compared the ideas behind Integrated Service Management to human development: Newborn babies can recognize faces in ways that the most sophisticated computers couldn't achieve until very recently.
"Sorting through what's relevant and what's not in the vast amounts of data bit by bit, that's very hard," Gore told the crowd as part of his talk. "But if you have hardware and software that can sort through that and highlight the business decisions you need to make, well that's a good thing."
Although the scale of the global environmental challenges are only going to grow more complex, the Pulse 2010 event shows that the technology is keeping apace, and that companies like Johnson Controls, Ricoh, and IBM's many corporate, university and municipal clients and partners are helping to drive the Smarter Planet initiative around the globe.

Copenhagen Climate Treaty & Climategate

Senator Kerry Says Compromise Climate Bill Coming

February 26, 2010

Reuters - Senator John Kerry said a bipartisan climate change bill would emerge soon in the U.S. Senate, contradicting what he called the "conventional wisdom" that the legislation was dead this election year.

Kerry is working closely with the Obama administration and a bipartisan group of senators on a comprehensive bill to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide pollution blamed for global warming.
"We're on a short track here in terms of piecing together legislation we intend to roll out," Kerry told a climate policy forum, without giving details of his proposals.
The Massachusetts Democrat and White House officials are among the most optimistic that a bill to tackle global warming can be produced, despite strong opposition among many lawmakers and as time runs out ahead of the November midterm elections.

Kerry admitted his upbeat outlook was "completely contrary to any conventional wisdom," and indicated he still had to convince some of his own Democrats to go along with a bill.

He also hinted no decision had been made on the core of a climate bill: the mechanism for bringing about declining emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
"Every mechanism that's out there is on the table," Kerry told reporters after his speech.
In a sign that Republican input is still possible, a senior senator from the party is looking at the possibility of dealing with climate change by imposing a carbon tax, something Republicans have traditionally ruled out.

Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, told Reuters she was "investigating and researching a net zero carbon tax" as well as other proposals. He stressed that Murkowski, from a big oil-producing state, has not drafted a carbon tax bill, but so far it is the option "she likes the most."

Dillon said the idea would be to place a tax on carbon-intensive fuels and "do it as far upstream as possible" -- meaning exploration and production stages -- while giving all the revenues from the tax back to consumers.

Congress is struggling with how to raise the price of high-polluting carbon fuels such as oil and coal so that cleaner alternative power sources such as wind and solar will become more attractive to companies.

Carol Browner, President Barack Obama's top energy and climate adviser, told the same audience at the forum sponsored by the New Republic magazine "the work that is going on up on the Hill is moving at a nice speed."

Washington's ability to produce a domestic law mandating carbon reductions on industry will have a significant impact on whether negotiations on the international track will succeed.

The U.N.-sponsored global negotiations, last held in Copenhagen in December, have been slow-moving. Todd Stern, the Obama administration's chief climate negotiator in those talks, said the United States remained committed to the U.N. process. But he left open the possibility of another forum gaining favor if progress stalled at the U.N. level.
"There is a point at which this probably can't wait forever," Stern said at the conference.

Without progress, "things are going to develop so countries that are largely responsible for emissions around the world have the capacity to get together and make decisions and do things," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday in Bonn, Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. climate change secretariat, said it will be "very difficult" to strike a binding deal at the next annual meeting set for Mexico November 29-December 10.


Last June, the House of Representatives passed a cap-and-trade climate bill that aims to significantly cut carbon emissions over the next 40 years. Companies would need permits for every ton of pollution they send into the atmosphere and those permits would be traded on a market.

But legislation has stalled in the Senate, where the Democrats hold a majority but do not have the 60 seats they need to overcome Republican opposition. Nor are all Democratic Senators on board, especially with congressional elections approaching in November and Americans struggling with high unemployment and a slow economic recovery.

Many lawmakers fear voter backlash if they back an environmental bill that could raise energy prices.

Others have gotten more aggressive in questioning the quality of the science of climate change after it was revealed that the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had included predictions on Himalayan glacial melts that have since been declared too dire.
"The climate science has been cooked," Republican Senator James Inhofe said on Tuesday at a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency's budget.
He issued a report calling for the EPA to stop moving on greenhouse gas regulation until the questions were addressed.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the overall findings of the IPCC, including that humans were causing climate change, were sound.

Recent public opinion polls also show a diminishing interest in climate change. An Ipsos poll conducted in early December found that only 43 percent of those surveyed think human activity has caused a rise in Earth's temperature over the past century.

On Monday, Senator Max Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee with oversight over parts of the climate bill, told Reuters he did not sense any momentum for passage of legislation this year and gave no hint his panel would work on it any time soon.

February 27, 2010

Alabama Has the Cheapest Taxes in the Nation

"I'm just not a big believer in the redistribution of wealth and taking from some and letting the government spend it," said Hubbard, who chairs the state Republican Party. 

 "If we're going to be very conservative in asking people to pay taxes, then we also have to be very efficient at using their money." - Jim Williams, executive director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama

Alabama Pensions Chief Bronner Sees State Financial Crash

February 25, 2010

The Birmingham News - Alabama pension fund boss David Bronner said the state's lack of public revenue threatens its future as a productive and orderly economy, while Middle East tensions might drive oil to $300 a barrel this year.

The head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the pension plan for 300,000 active and retired state workers, said it is too late to save the state budget by reducing expenses.
"You can't cost cut your way out of General Fund problems when you have always run it on the cheap," Bronner said. "Government will cease to function, and that means courts, education, youth services and public safety."
Bronner has said before that Alabama taxes will have to rise substantially by 2011 to avert a financial meltdown, probably on real property, a theme he cited during a July 2009 speech in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama has the lowest personal and business taxes in the country, even when adjusted for household income, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Advocates of low taxes say that stimulates business investment; opponents say the rich benefit while everyone else suffers with poor schools, cracked roads and long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Debate aside, Bronner's most recent alarming predictions came last week at a meeting of the Birmingham Bar Association in Prattville. It was attended by private lawyers, government prosecutors and state judges.
"As a group, they aren't accustomed to people telling them how things really are," Bronner said in an interview Wednesday.

He admitted that his optimism is low. When asked if the rate of decline he envisions means Alabama devolves into a Third World wasteland, he replied: "Yes. Only with Third World countries, the expectations aren't very high to begin with."
Time is short, Bronner said. While opinions vary, the gloomiest projections out of Montgomery are for spending in the next fiscal year for both the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund to outstrip available money by $1 billion.

Don't count on gambling or electronic bingo, Bronner said, to pull any financial miracles. Both are under heavy discussion during the current legislative session in Montgomery. Bronner said it's like arguing about getting a new roof on the house as a tornado bears down.
"Gambling and bingo are nickel and dime," he said. "They won't solve the problem, but they sure divert attention away from it."
Schools may close

Trouble will happen by the time school starts, said Bronner, who has led the RSA for 37 years. School district superintendents will start cutting programs, class offerings and teachers. Entire schools will close. Thousands of teachers will be released, he said. State troopers will stop enforcing speed laws and contract disputes between businesses will take forever to wend their way through a deserted court system strapped for judges, clerks and stenographers.
"Maybe the troopers can stand by the roadside and wave," Bronner said. "If you stop, you get a ticket, if not, see you later."
Bronner also said the global economy is threatened by Iran's nuclear ambitions in the Middle East. He said unless other nations become satisfied Iran will not pursue a nuclear weapons program, Israel will attack. He said that will force oil to $300 a barrel, from less than $100 now, and cause world stock markets to plunge.
"To me, Israel has no choice, they will have to strike if there is no agreement," Bronner said. "The people in Iran are smart and educated, but they have never had a leadership they could rein in."
The economy won't be able to handle it, Bronner said.
"With oil at $300 a barrel, the U.S. economy sputters to a halt and the stock market is crushed."
Bronner said similar budgetary conditions prevailed in Alabama during the 1970s, when he first took over at the agency which invests money to pay for the pensions of public employees. No one listened then, he said, and nobody paid any price for it. Shortly after, massive oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico sent mounds of cash cascading into state coffers.
"Hey, we might get lucky again," Bronner wisecracked. "They might find uranium and gold under the Black Warrior River."

Alabama Boasts Lowest Taxes in Nation

November 1, 2009

The Birmingham News - Alabama residents and companies paid less in taxes than people and businesses in any other state in the 2007 fiscal year, based on total state and local taxes paid per resident, according to a review of U.S. Census Bureau reports.

Even taking into account that incomes in Alabama were lower than in most of the country, people and companies here had a relatively low tax burden. Among the 50 states, Alabama had the third-lowest average state and local tax collections per person as a percentage of personal income.

Relatively low taxes help attract businesses and retirees to the state, Gov. Bob Riley said.

But teachers' lobbyist Paul Hubbert said Alabama's relatively low taxes also limit governments' ability to provide good schools, roads and other services.

Alabama's state and local governments collected an average of $2,909 in taxes per person in fiscal 2007, according the Census Bureau's most recent report on state and local taxes nationwide and its state population estimates for July 2007. Taxes tallied by the bureau included personal and corporate income taxes, sales taxes, fuel taxes and property taxes.

For the country, the median state and local taxes collected per person was $4,011; it was more in 25 states and less in 25 states.  Alabama's state government and city, county and other local governments collected a total of $13.46 billion in taxes in fiscal 2007. That was $1,102 less in taxes per person than the 50-state median. If Alabama governments had gotten the median amount per person, they would have had an additional $5.1 billion. 

Matter of pride

Riley said having relatively low taxes is good, "because it really does make a difference when we have people that are retirees moving into the state, when you look at different businesses that are looking at coming into the state."

"Taxes will be a major part of that decision," he said.
State Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said,
"I think that's something we ought to take pride in, that we have low taxes."
"I'm just not a big believer in the redistribution of wealth and taking from some and letting the government spend it," said Hubbard, who chairs the state Republican Party.
State Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, said Alabamians like low taxes. 

He also said relatively low taxes are a big reason Democrats still control Alabama's Senate and House of Representatives, while legislatures in several Southeastern states, such as Florida and Georgia, are controlled by Republicans.

"I think it's because we've been conservative and very prudent about raising people's taxes," said Barron, who chairs the Senate's agenda-setting Rules Committee.
But state school Superintendent Joe Morton said there's a drawback to relatively low taxes.
"It's hard to be No. 1 in education if you're No. 50 in spending capability," Morton said. "Everybody wants us to be better in education, and it's hard to do that with very, very limited capital."
Hubbert said Alabama's tax ranking puts the state at a disadvantage in providing education, health care, roads, police protection and other services, factors he said many companies consider when scouting office or plant locations.
"Probably it's not too impressive to some of the major corporations looking for a place where the quality of life might be as important to them as cheap wages," said Hubbert, who is executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association.
Is it enough?
Alabama's average state and local tax collections per person also were lowest among the 50 states for fiscal 2005 and 2006, according to earlier reviews of census reports. 

In fiscal 2007, two of Alabama's neighboring states came close. Mississippi collected $2,989 per person, ranking 49th. Tennessee collected $3,005 per person, ranking it 48th. Georgia collected $3,481, ranking it 34th on the list; Florida collected $4,009 and was ranked 26th. 

Riley was asked if state and local governments in Alabama had enough money to adequately provide services they should be providing.
"I think, absolutely, you can provide most all of the services," he replied. "The debate is, how much is enough?"
Asked if taxes were adequate to provide services he wanted Alabamians to have, Riley replied, "Yes."
State Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, who chairs the House Government Appropriations Committee, countered that in his view, governments in Alabama do not collect enough taxes to adequately serve the residents.
"I think we're lacking in terms of education. And as we attract industry, I think that we've got to provide more for infrastructure: roads, bridges, health care. Across the board, I think all of that has to be in the equation," Knight said.
'Less to work with'
Alabamians in 2007 had an average personal income of $32,404, which ranked 42nd among the states, according to the Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The national average was $38,611. 

Even after taking that lower income into account, people and companies in Alabama paid a smaller share of income on taxes than those in all but two other states. 

In Alabama, average state and local tax collections per person equaled 8.98 percent of the income per person in fiscal 2007, a lower percentage than in all other states but South Dakota, which had 8.87 percent, and New Hampshire, 8.71 percent. 

The 50-state median was 10.65 percent. 

Jim Williams, executive director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, a nonpartisan think tank at Samford University, said Alabama's relatively low taxes present a challenge for governments trying to provide the services people expect.
"Our governments have less to work with than other state and local governments in America," Williams said. "If we're going to be very conservative in asking people to pay taxes, then we also have to be very efficient at using their money."
"My general impression is, we're not there yet," he said. "We have work to do."

Bank Failures in the U.S.

Massive Bank Failures Due, Says Oversight Panel

February 25, 2010

Epoch Times - Close to 3,000 banks are currently classified as having a risky concentration of commercial real estate loans, according to a recent report by the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP). All of them are small to mid-sized banks, already weakened by the financial crisis.

The COP is “deeply concerned” that commercial real estate losses could jeopardize the stability of these banks and the damage will contribute to prolonged weakness throughout the economy, according to chair Elizabeth Warren.

About $1.4 trillion in commercial real estate loans are due for refinancing between now and 2014.
“In today’s market, many applications will be turned down,” Ms. Warren said on a video posted on COP's Web site.
Property values have fallen 40 percent on average, and banks are unwilling to refinance; many wanting a lower loan-to-value ratio, which will trigger lot of foreclosures.
“Some loans were flat-out reckless when they were made and never should have been financed,” Warren said. Banks could suffer losses of up to $200 to $300 billion, the report said.

“A big enough wave of commercial mortgage defaults would trigger economic damage that would touch the lives of every American,” Warren said.

Empty offices, empty hotels, and empty stores could lead directly to job losses, and banks could fear lending. The largest loan losses are projected for 2011 and beyond. But the stress tests conducted on big Wall Street banks last year examined their stability only through 2010, the COP report states.
Even more significantly, community banks tend to hold much greater concentrations of commercial real estate than big Wall St. banks. But community banks never underwent any stress tests at all,” Warren said.
Nearly 3,000 community banks (that’s nearly 40 percent of all banks in the United States), have a very high proportion of commercial real estate on their books and are at particular risk of being overwhelmed.

These are the same banks that provide loans to small businesses that create jobs and boost productivity.
“If hundreds of community banks go under, the effect could be to dump sand in the gears of our economic recovery,” Warren said.

Bailout Panel Cites Commercial Real Estate Danger

February 11, 2010

AP - Over the next several years, failed commercial real estate loans could litter American cities with empty stores and office complexes, cause hundreds of bank failures and weaken the economy, a watchdog report says.

Banks face up to $300 billion in losses on loans made for commercial property and development, according to a report released Thursday by the Congressional Oversight Panel. The panel monitors the government's efforts to stabilize the financial system.

The report says the defaults could lead to reduced lending and cause the eviction of families from rental properties. Bank failures also could contribute to job losses and hurt the economic recovery.

Smaller banks are more vulnerable to the losses than their larger Wall Street counterparts. That's because commercial real estate makes up a larger portion of their portfolio.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which manages bank failures and insures deposits, is under stress that will intensify over the next few years, panel chairwoman Elizabeth Warren said in a call with reporters.

Small- and mid-size banks have been failing at the fastest rate since the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. The failures are due mostly to bad loans they made for commercial projects.

Banks often lent too much for land and buildings whose prices were inflated by a real estate bubble. They also relied on rosy assumptions about the profitability of retail and office projects and did not consider the possibility of a severe recession.

Commercial property values have fallen more than 40 percent in the past three years, the report notes.

Some have been unable to pay the loans. Others have stopped paying because they now owe more than the properties are worth. Losses are mounting for banks, more of which will close. That could spell trouble for the economic recovery, said Warren, a Harvard law professor.

"If hundreds more community banks go under, the effect would be to ... dump sand in the gears of the economic recovery," she said.
Unlike residential mortgages, commercial loans are refinanced every three to five years. Between 2010 and 2014, about $1.4 trillion in commercial real estate loans will come due for refinancing, the report says. For nearly half of them, borrowers could struggle to get new financing because they'll owe more than the properties are worth.

The report attributes the looming crisis to failures of bank management and supervision. It says banks made loans based on property values inflated by the real estate bubble. They sometimes acted carelessly "in a rush for profit," the report says. Banks and their regulators failed to consider the possibility of reduced consumer demand from a severe recession, the panel says.

The panel criticizes the Treasury Department and bank supervisors for not putting smaller banks through "stress tests" like those done last year on the nation's 19 largest banks. Warren notes that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner resisted calls to conduct public stress tests of smaller banks.

The Treasury Department referred to comments by Geithner that bank regulators routinely conduct such assestments confidentially.

Warren also noted that last year's tests gauged banks' strength only through 2010. The commercial real estate threat looms largest in 2011 and beyond ...

What Isn’t Happening with the $3 Trillion Commercial Real Estate Market: Loans Falling and Vacancy Rates at Record Heights at 10 Percent

The Final Push for World Government

Leaked UN Documents Reveal Plan for “Green World Order” By 2012

February 26, 2010

Prison Planet.com - Leaked policy documents reveal that the United Nations plans to create a “green world order” by 2012 which will be enforced by a structure of global governance and funded by a gargantuan $45 trillion transfer of wealth from richer countries, as the globalists’ insidious plan to centralize power, crush sovereignty while devastating the economy is exposed once again.

As we warned at the time, the failure of Copenhagen in December did not spell the end of the global warming heist, but merely a roadblock in the UN’s agenda to create a world government funded by taxes paid by you on the very substance you exhale – carbon dioxide.

Using the justification of the vehemently debunked hoax that carbon dioxide is a deadly threat to the planet, the UN is already working to resurrect the failed Copenhagen agreement, with a series of new Copenhagen process negotiations set to take place in April, May and June.

Leaked planning documents (PDF) obtained by Fox News lift the lid on the UN’s plan to impose global governance by the time of their 2012 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio, which will mark the 20th anniversary since the notorious “Earth Summit” held in the same city.

“The new Rio summit will end, according to U.N. documents obtained by Fox News, with a “focused political document” presumably laying out the framework and international commitments to a new Green World Order,” reports Fox News’ George Russell.

“Just exactly what that environmental order will look like, and the extent of the immense financial commitments needed to produce it, are under discussion this week at a special session in Bali, Indonesia, of the United Nations Environment Program’s 58-nation “Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environmental Forum,” which oversees UNEP’s operations.”

The document outlines the globalist’s mission to enact a “radical transformation of the world economic and social order” by putting “a new treaty in place as the capstone of the Green World Order.”

This system will be managed by “an additional governing structure composed of exactly those insiders,” writes Russell.

“Moving towards a green economy would also provide an opportunity to re-examine national and global governance structures and consider whether such structures allow the international community to respond to current and future environmental and development challenges and to capitalize on emerging opportunities,” states the white paper.
The imposition of such “global governance structures” will be achieved with the help of “vast wealth transfers” from richer countries (in the form of carbon taxes levied on citizens) to poorer nations, amounting to no less than $45 trillion dollars.

The paper also outlines the need to change the “consumption patterns” of people living in richer countries, which undoubtedly is a euphemism for lowering living standards.

The policy proposes that the old economic model be discarded in pursuit of a new global green economy focused around “green jobs.”

As we have previously highlighted, the promise that the creation of “green jobs” will offset the inevitable damage to the economy that a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will cause is a complete fallacy.

The implementation of so-called “green jobs” in other countries has devastated economies and cost millions of jobs. As the Seattle Times reported back in June, Spain’s staggering unemployment rate of over 18 percent was partly down to massive job losses as a result of attempts to replace existing industry with wind farms and other forms of alternative energy.

In a so-called “green economy:”

Each new job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs that are either lost or not created in other industries because of the political allocation — sub-optimum in terms of economic efficiency — of capital,” states the report.
As we have documented, a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 50-80 percent would inflict a new great depression in the United States, reducing GDP by 6.9 percent – a figure comparable with the economic meltdown of 1929 and 1930.

The UN’s mission to create a legally binding treaty on the reduction of CO2 emissions is running parallel with measures already being enforced at state level in the U.S. which bypass stuttering federal efforts to impose the cap and trade fraud.

The very foundation of the global warming argument has been completely eviscerated by the Climategate scandal, which proved that United Nations IPCC scientists forged and exaggerated data to “hide the decline” in global temperatures while engaging in witch hunts to cull dissenting opinions from appearing in IPPC reports.

Despite this, control freaks intent on taxing the life-giving gas carbon dioxide have signaled that they no longer care about the truth behind man-made climate change and have resolved to slam through their totalitarian agenda anyway. EPA head Lisa Jackson told reporters this week that:

“The science regarding climate change is settled, and human activity is responsible for global warming,” even though she failed to refute the fact that there had been no global warming since 1995, as was admitted by CRU scientist Professor Phil Jones.

IBM, Microsoft, Google, Verizon

Cryptome Case Reveals How Easy it is to Shut Down Websites

February 25, 2010

Infowars - Earlier this week, Microsoft had the whistle-blower website Cryptome erased from the Web (see story below).

All the sprawling transnational corporation had to do was file a DMCA notice alleging copyright infringement on Cryptome’s proprietor John Young and Network Solutions did the rest — it locked up Cryptome’s domain name, thus disappearing the site from the Web.

Cryptome had posted a Microsoft surveillance compliance document that the transnational corporation gives to law enforcement agents seeking information on Microsoft users.
John Young’s website was removed from the internet without court order or due process.
No court ruling was required. Microsoft merely instructed Cryptome’s ISP to pull the plug.

No court ruling was required. Microsoft merely instructed Cryptome’s ISP to pull the plug.

In 2009, when the Senate was debating a cybersecurity bill and senator Jay Rockefeller lamented the existence of the internet, many people argued that the government would be hard-pressed to shut down the internet, even if Obama had the authority to flip the switch during a national crisis, as the proposed bill suggested. The government, however, would not darken the entire internet, as some suggested, but would rather remove certain sites deemed to be threats to national security according to our rulers.

Domain names are kept in databases maintained by various Network Information Centers (NIC) as part of the Domain Name System. Some name registries are government departments while others are co-operatives of internet service providers (for instance, Network Solutions). The system is currently dominate in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan.

In 2004, a United Nations summit was held in New York on globalizing the system. Then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan argued that the system “must be made accessible and responsive to the needs of all the world’s people;” in other words, the globalists who established and run the United Nations behind the scenes. In 2005, the European Union argued in favor of wresting control of the internet away from the United States.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has launched a major propaganda effort with accompanying legislation to push the idea that the internet is under attack by nefarious forces. Earlier this week, on the heels of a so-called cyber security bill overwhelmingly passed in the House, Rockefeller held a hearing where witnesses offered dire warnings about the alleged vulnerabilities of U.S. digital networks, which are largely owned and operated by firms in the private sector.

“We’ve got to give the president the right to intervene,” Rockefeller said. “That’s controversial. That’ll always be controversial.”
Censorship and squelching the First Amendment, of course, will always be controversial.

In April of 2009, Rockefeller and co-sponsor Olympia Snowe introduced legislation (the Cybersecurity Act of 2009) containing language that would allow Obama to shut down the internet in the event of a cyber attack on critical infrastructure.

Earlier this month, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) hosted Cyber ShockWave, a simulated cyber attack on the United States.
“Cyber ShockWave highlighted the immediate, real dangers of cyber-terrorism by bringing together a bipartisan group of former senior administration and national security officials playing the roles of Cabinet members,” a BPC press release explained on February 17.
Last week, CNN ran a two-hour production, We Were Warned: Cyber Shockwave, based upon exclusive television access to the BPC cyber “war game” scenario. Politicos participating in this slick propaganda campaign suggested nationalizing private sector corporations and federalizing the National Guard in response to a cyber attack.

The televised scenario pinned the blame for a cyber attack crippling U.S. infrastructure on terrorists operating out of Sudan. However, as Homeland Security has made abundantly clear, the government is not worried about shadowy and hypothetical terrorists in eastern Africa. It considers its own citizens to be terrorists, a point underscored by a DHS report on “rightwing extremism” leaked to the alternative media last year.

In the event of another staged terrorist attack on the United States, Obama will not shut down the entire internet. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major Operation Mockingbird players will not go dark during such an event — they will be required to peddle the official fairy tale in the same way they did on and after September 11, 2001 — that fate will be reserved for the alternative media, in particular Infowars and Prison Planet.

The Cryptome/Microsoft case reveals how effortless this process will be. All the government needs to do is remove the domain names of selected websites from the domain registry database and Jay Rockefeller will get his wish that we’d be better off if the internet — or rather certain sites on the internet — never existed.

Microsoft Takes Down Whistleblower Site, Read the Secret Doc at Wired

February 24, 2010

Wired - Microsoft has managed to do what a roomful of secretive, three-letter government agencies have wanted to do for years: get the whistleblowing, government-document sharing site Cryptome shut down.

Microsoft dropped a DMCA notice alleging copyright infringement on Cryptome’s proprietor John Young on Tuesday after he posted a Microsoft surveillance compliance document that the company gives to law enforcement agents seeking information on Microsoft users. Young filed a counterclaim on Wednesday — arguing he had a fair use to publishing the document, a full day before the Thursday deadline set by his hosting provider, Network Solutions.

Regardless, Cryptome was shut down by Network Solutions and its domain name locked on Wednesday — shuttering a site that thumbed its nose at the government since 1996 — posting thousands of documents that the feds would prefer never saw the light of day.

Microsoft did not return a call for comment by press time.

The 22-page document (.pdf) contains no trade secrets, but will tell Microsoft users things they didn’t know. (You can read it directly on your own computer from the above link, or read it inline on Wired.)

For instance, Xbox Live records every IP address you ever use to login and stores them for perpetuity. While that’s going to be creepy for some, there’s an upside if your house gets robbed, according to the document:

“If your investigation involves a stolen Xbox console, if the console serial number or Xbox LIVE user gamertag is provided and the console has been connected to the Internet, IP connection records may be available.”
The Microsoft® Online Services Global Criminal Compliance Handbook (.pdf) also goes so far as to provide sample language for subpoenas and diagrams on how to understand server logs.

Other things you might not know and which Microsoft (sometimes oddly) doesn’t want you to know?

Microsoft retains only the last 10 login records for Windows Live ID. As for your instant messages, it tells police that it keeps no record of what anyone says over Microsoft Messenger — though it will turn over who is on your buddy list.

And if you like to use Microsoft’s social networking products — like its old-school Group mailing list or its Facebook-like Spaces product, be aware that it’s very social when it comes to law enforcement or court subpoenas.

As Microsoft tells potential subpoenaees:

“When you are looking for information on a specific incident like a photo posting or message posting, please request all group content and logs. We cannot retrieve single incident data.”
The same holds for Spaces — if you are interested in a single picture, just request the entire thing. Call it Subpoena 2.0.

The compliance handbook is just the latest in a series of leaks of similar documents from other companies.

Yahoo, like Microsoft, reacted as if its secret sauce had somehow been spilled by letting curious users know the hows and whys of how the companies deal with lawful surveillance requests. Google, for all its crusading for internet freedom, refuses to say how often law enforcement comes searching for user data.

The one company who has had a stand-up policy for years is the Cox Communications’ ISP, which has had this information and their price list public for years.

But hypocrisy is the name of the game for giant internet companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google that want us to entrust large portions of our lives to Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Buzz, Xbox, Hotmail, Messenger, Google Groups. When it comes to the most basic information about how, why and how often our data is subpoenaed and collected without our knowledge, these online innovators resort to lawyers, abusive legal process and double-talk.

February 26, 2010

Government Takeover of Health Care

CNN Poll: Majority Says Government Is a Threat to Citizens' Rights

Fifty-six percent of Americans say the government poses an immediate threat to individual rights and freedoms.

February 26, 2010

CNN – A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken - though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

All the President's Mandates: Compulsory Health Insurance Is a Government Takeover

September 23, 2009

Cato Institute - The most hazardous health reform measure before Congress is not the so-called "public option," but proposals to make health insurance compulsory via an individual or employer mandate.

Compulsory health insurance could require nearly 100 million Americans to switch to a more expensive health plan and would therefore violate President Barack Obama's pledge to let people keep their current health insurance. In particular, the legislation before Congress could eliminate many or all health savings account plans. Making health insurance compulsory would also spark an unnecessary fight over abortion and would enable government to ration care to those with private health insurance.

Obama adviser Larry Summers writes that mandates "are like public programs financed by benefit taxes," meaning that compulsory health insurance would also violate President Obama's promise not to increase taxes on the middle class. Under the House Democrats' legislation, some middle-income earners would face marginal tax rates over 50 percent (before state taxes).

The experience in Massachusetts belies the claim that compulsory health insurance brings down health care costs. The "shared responsibility" ruse allows Massachusetts politicians to declare success for a compulsory health insurance scheme whose actual costs reveal it to be a failure. Massachusetts also demonstrates that compulsory health insurance enables, and ultimately requires, politicians and government bureaus to control nearly all aspects of health care and medical practice.

Rather than make health insurance compulsory, Congress should make it more affordable by letting individuals control their earnings and choose their own health plan from any state in the Union.

DHS Employs More than 200,000 Contractors, Compared with 188,000 Federal Employees

Homeland Security Contractors Outnumber Civilian Employees

February 24, 2010

govexec.com - Leaders of a Senate government oversight committee on Wednesday said they were "astounded" to learn that contractors outnumber civilian employees at the Homeland Security Department, and expressed concern that contractors could be performing inherently governmental work.

Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, thanked DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano for responding to requests that the department quantify its reliance on contractors. But they said they were disturbed to learn DHS employs more than 200,000 contractors, compared with just 188,000 federal employees, excluding uniformed members of the Coast Guard.

"The sheer number of DHS contractors currently on board again raises the question of whether DHS itself is in charge of its programs and policies, or whether it inappropriately has ceded core decisions to contractors," Lieberman and Collins said in a letter to Napolitano.

The senators asked for a unit-by-unit breakdown of contractors within the department, but warned that regardless of that breakdown, the challenge of overseeing so many contractors is likely to strain the ongoing transformation of DHS into an agency with strong, central management.

"We believe that the current balance between federal employees and contractors at DHS is unacceptable, untenable and unsustainable," they wrote.

DHS officials are aware of the problem and are taking steps to properly balance the department's workforce, the senators noted. Homeland Security's fiscal 2011 budget reflects cost savings from the conversion of contractor positions to federal jobs. Lieberman and Collins said that while cost should not be the only factor in determining who should perform work, savings are beneficial.

"The fundamental question in deciding whether a federal employee should perform a task, or whether the task may appropriately be assigned to a contractor, should not simply be which option is cheapest, but rather whether or not the government's interests are best served by having the work performed by federal employees," the senators said. "Nonetheless it is notable that the shift to a more appropriate employee-to-contractor ratio may well also save the department and the taxpayers money."

February 25, 2010

The Final Push for World Government

Regional Body of Nations Excludes the U.S. and Canada

February 24, 2010

BBC - Latin American and Caribbean nations have agreed to set up a new regional body without the US and Canada.

The new bloc would be an alternative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), the main forum for regional affairs in the past 50 years.

Mexico has been hosting a regional summit in the beach resort of Cancun.

The OAS has been dogged by rifts between some members and the US over economic policy and trade, and criticised for promoting US interests.

The proposed new grouping was one of the main issues on the agenda of the two-day summit, which ended on Tuesday.
It "must as a priority push for regional integration... and promote the regional agenda in global meetings", Mexican President Felipe Calderon told the summit, which includes leaders and representatives from 32 countries.
Cuban President Raul Castro was quick to applaud Mr Calderon's announcement as a historic move toward "the constitution of a purely Latin American and Caribbean regional organisation." Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 because of its socialist political system. In 2009, the OAS voted to lift Cuba's suspension but the country has declined to rejoin.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier expressed his support for the proposal, citing it as a move away from US "colonising" of the region.

A US State Department official, Arturo Valenzuela, said he did not see the new body as a problem.
"This should not be an effort that would replace the OAS, " he said.
The terms of the new bloc and whether it would replace the Rio Group of Latin American countries has not been clarified.
"It's very important that we don't try to replace the OAS," said Chile's President-elect Sebastian Pinera. "The OAS is a permanent organisation that has its own functions."
On Monday, Bolivian President Evo Morales proposed that it begin operating in July 2011 with a summit hosted by Venezuela.

The Cancun summit has also unanimously backed Argentina's claim over the British-owned Falklands.

Argentina is angered that a UK firm has begun drilling for oil off the Falkland Islands, which lie about 450km (280 miles) off the Argentine coast.

Argentina and Britain went to war over the South Atlantic islands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas, in 1982, after Buenos Aires invaded them.

The leaders at Cancun also discussed whether to recognise Porfirio Lobo as the legitimate president of Honduras after he was elected president under interim authorities following a 28 June coup that ousted Manuel Zelaya.

A long-term plan to help Haiti recover from the devastating January earthquake was also on the agenda.

The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals Report 2009 divides the world into 10 "Regional Groupings" as compared to the seven continents of the world. [Note the map on page 57 of the report (PDF)].

I will tell thee the mystery of the woman,
And of the beast that carrieth her
Which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not;
And shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition:
And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder,
Whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world,
When they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

And here is the mind which hath wisdom.
The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come;
And when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth,
And is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings,
Which have received no kingdom as yet;
But receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them.

Revelation 17:7-14

A New Generation of North American Citizens

February 13, 2010

Be Your Own Leader - The North American Forum on Integration (NAFI) was created in 2002, and is one of many think tanks pushing for closer continental ties. In 2005, NAFI organized the Triumvirate, a North American model parliament which meets once a year. The exercise brings together university students from the U.S., Mexico and Canada with participants assigned the roles of legislators, journalists or lobbyists.

Over the years, the mock parliament has debated and drafted resolutions on such key issues as trade corridors, immigration, NAFTA’s Chapter 11, along with the creation of a North American investment fund and a customs union. Infowars reported that last year’s Triumvirate gathering was cancelled due to the swine flu pandemic scare.

The Triumvirate 2010 will be held in Querétaro, Mexico. A description on its website states that:

“This 5th edition will gather a hundred university students from Mexico, the United States and Canada to participate, from May 30th to June 4th, 2010, in an international negotiation exercise in which they will simulate a parliamentary meeting.”
Some of the main objectives of the Triumvirate event include:
“To allow participants to familiarize themselves with the functioning of democratic institutions as well as North American political, economic, environmental and social realities; to develop the participants’ sense of belonging to North America (and) to increase intercultural exchanges and promote the creation of academia networks.”
This year’s delegates will address such topics as making smart borders more efficient, managing transboundary water in North America, as well as countering human trafficking and consolidating North American governance.

While the model legislature is seen as an opportunity for students to better understand the political process and the challenges facing the continent, in many ways it mirrors actual efforts to further integrate the three countries. This includes the vision of a real functioning North American parliament similar to the European Union (EU) model.

In a 2008 article, journalist Steve Watson described the mock parliament as, “another example of an overarching movement on behalf of globalist business leaders and politicians to merge the three nations of North America into an EU like federation.” He added that:

“Integration meetings such as the NAFI Triumvirate are simulations of the exact practices currently being undertaken by the SPP and its offshoot organizations. The NAFI Triumvirate is designed to familiarize ‘future Canadian, American and Mexican leaders’ with the processes involved in such practices.”
Watson also pointed out that missing from the whole activity is any simulated opposition to the agenda being presented. The reality is that not all issues need to be addressed in a bilateral, trilateral or global fashion as some are best solved at a local, state and national level. It is important to learn about other countries and instill a sense of cooperation, but the Triumvirate exercise appears to be aimed at indoctrinating students to view themselves as North American citizens as opposed to Americans, Canadians or Mexicans.

Many of the recommendations from the 2005 report, Building a North American Community, became part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) agenda and the push for deep integration. The policy paper advocated the creation of a network of centers for North American studies. It recommended that, “the three governments open a competition and provide grants to universities in each of the three countries to promote courses, education and research on North America and assist elementary and secondary schools in teaching about North America.” The report also recommended developing, “teacher exchange training programs for elementary and secondary school teachers. This would assist in removing language barriers and give some students a greater sense of a North American identity.”

In his article The Future of North America, Robert Pastor, one of the leading proponents of continental integration proclaimed:

To educate a new generation of students to think North American, each country should begin by supporting a dozen centers for North American studies. Each center should educate students, undertake research, and foster exchanges with other North American universities for both students and faculty.”
The Center for North American Studies at American University in Washington, D.C., “was established to educate a new generation of students, to promote policy debate among the governments and the public, and to undertake research on ideas for a continental future.”
Arizona State University has also created the North American Center for Transborder Studies whose mission, “is to advance greater understanding of border and trilateral issues in North America by supporting scholars who contribute to the development of innovative theory and actionable policy analysis regarding these issues.”

The North American Integration and Development Center based at the University of California, Los Angeles, “seeks to build linkages among a wide variety of institutions, organizations, and community groups in order to promote North American integration.”

These various centers, along with other initiatives, are part of the ongoing efforts to further condition and train a new generation into accepting a North American consciousness.

The ideology of globalization is deeply embedded in the corporate structure, mass media, government, as well as in the whole educational system. Together they are working to shape the minds of the next generation. Students at all levels are being indoctrinated to conform to universal values and standards.

Under a new global order, there is no room for nationalism or individuality. Increasingly, it is special interest groups, multinational corporations, think tanks, and other nongovernmental organizations who are pulling the strings of power. National sovereignty remains one of the last obstacles to the full implementation of a North American Union and global government.

Toward a North American Union

Bank Failures in the U.S.

Citibank Controversy Puts Dubious FDIC Guarantee Back in the Spotlight

February 25, 2010

Prison Planet.com - The recent controversy surrounding Citibank’s advisory to its customers reserving the right to impose a 7 day restriction on withdrawals from their accounts is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of the fractional reserve banking system and the FDIC’s shaky guarantee that it can insure deposits in the event of a bank run.

Citibank’s notice (see next post) informing its customers of the right to request 7 days notice before funds can be withdrawn from all checking, savings and money market accounts was necessary to ensure compliance with Federal Reserve regulations.

Fox News Business reported on the “little known regulation” yesterday in a piece by Darryl R. Isherwood.

“The requirement is part of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933. It applies to all accounts classified as Negotiable Order of Withdrawal [NOW] accounts – basically interest-bearing checking and savings accounts held by individuals and non-profits. Banks are not required to hold reserves in place to cover NOW accounts, so the rule prevents a run on withdrawals for which there are no reserves,” states the report.
For those still unaware of the fact, it may come as a shock that your bank has no reserves with which to cover withdrawals if there was a sudden loss of confidence and a good old run on the bank as has happened on several occasions over the last two years in both the UK and the U.S.
“According to a spokeswoman, the bank changed the status of the bulk of its consumer checking accounts last year to take advantage of an FDIC policy to provide unlimited account protection to certain types of accounts. When Citi transferred the accounts back to their original status, it triggered the notification of the seven-day requirement,” states the report.
Although the FDIC claims it guarantees insurance to the tune of $250,000 per depositor per bank, the rising number of bank failures and those placed on the “problem list” has stoked fears that the tank is running dry.

Alarmingly, The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. only has about $50 billion to “insure” about $1 trillion in assets across the nation’s financial institutions. This was even admitted in a Yahoo.com article shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. When Americans realize the fact that banks are “going to run out of money”, the article nonchalantly stated, a run on the banks will accelerate.

On Tuesday the FDIC announced that its deposit insurance fund suffered a whopping $12.6 billion drop in the final three months of 2009 due to accelerating bank closures. “The fund’s reserve ratio was -0.39% at the end of the quarter, the lowest on record for the combined bank and thrift fund,” according to the announcement.

FInancial experts have predicted that the failure of 300-500 U.S. banks would absorb all of the FDIC’s insurance funds. This is precisely why people are worried about banks imposing delays on access to their savings, not as a result of some Internet conspiracy run amok, as the Fox News Business article implies, but as a consequence of the true magnitude of what could plausibly happen in a worst case scenario.

If the U.S. dollar was to suffer a sudden and drastic collapse as innumerable financial experts have predicted and hyperinflation ensued, then being unable to access your money or swap it for another currency or commodity for a period of 7 days could be the difference between preserving your life savings or having them rendered practically worthless.

Imagine if the United States were to suffer a Weimar Republic style collapse and the cost of a pound of butter soared to a million dollars. Generations of wealth could be wiped out overnight if people were unable to access their savings.

It’s no surprise therefore in the current climate that investors have flocked to physical gold and silver bullion not only as a means of preserving their wealth, but ensuring that it actually exists in the first place. With banks affording themselves the power to loan out increasing multiples of what they hold at any one time while the money supply is artificially doubled, being reminded of the fact that our nest eggs consist of nothing more than numbers on a computer screen which can be withheld from us at the discretion of the banks isn’t exactly going to restore trust in traditional methods of saving.

Citigroup Warns Customers It May Refuse to Allow Withdrawals

February 19, 2010

Business Insider - The image of banks locking their doors to keep customers from making withdrawals during a bank run is what immediately came to mind when we heard that Citigroup was telling customers it has the right to prevent any withdrawals from checking accounts for seven days.
"Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change," Citigroup said on statements received by customers all over the country.
What's going on? It seems that this is something of an error. The seven day notice policy only applies to customers in Texas, Ira Stoll reports at The Future of Capitalism. It was accidentally included on customer statements nationwide.
"Whatever the explanation, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Citi," Stoll writes. "But it's hard to believe a bank would be sending out a notice like that on its statements."

Climate Bills and a Green Economy

Scientists Examine Causes for Lull in Global Warming

February 25, 2010

Reuters - Climate scientists must do more to work out how exceptionally cold winters or a dip in world temperatures fit their theories of global warming, if they are to persuade an increasingly skeptical public.

At stake is public belief that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, and political momentum to act as governments struggle to agree a climate treaty which could direct trillions of dollars into renewable energy, away from fossil fuels.

Public conviction of global warming's risks may have been undermined by an error in a U.N. panel report exaggerating the pace of melt of Himalayan glaciers and by the disclosure of hacked emails revealing scientists sniping at skeptics, who leapt on these as evidence of data fixing.

Scientists said they must explain better how a freezing winter this year in parts of the northern hemisphere and a break in a rising trend in global temperatures since 1998 can happen when heat-trapping gases are pouring into the atmosphere.

"There is a lack of consensus," said Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, on why global temperatures have not matched a peak set in 1998, or in 2005, according to one U.S. analysis.

Part of the explanation could be a failure to account for rapid warming in parts of the Arctic, where sea ice had melted, and where there were fewer monitoring stations, he said.

"I think we need better analysis of what's going on on a routine basis so that everyone, politicians and the general public, are informed about our current understanding of what is happening, more statements in a much quicker fashion instead of waiting for another six years for the next IPCC report."
The latest, fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was published in 2007 and the next is due in 2014.

The proportion of British adults who had no doubt climate change was happening had dropped in January to 31 percent from 44 percent in January 2009, an Ipsos MORI poll showed this week.


The decade 2000-2009 was the hottest since 1850 as a result of warming through the 1980s and 1990s which has since peaked, says the World Meteorological Organization.

British Hadley Center scientists said last year that there was no warming from 1999-2008, after allowing for extreme, natural weather patterns. Temperatures should have risen by a widely estimated 0.2 degrees Centigrade, given a build up of manmade greenhouse gases.
"Solar might be one part of it," said the Hadley's Jeff Knight, adding that changes in the way data was gathered could be a factor, as well as shifts in the heat stored by oceans.

The sun goes through phases in activity, and since 2001 has been in a downturn meaning it may have heated the earth a little less, scientists say.

"We've not put our finger precisely on what has changed," Knight said. "(But) If you add all these things together ... there's nothing really there to challenge the idea that there's going to be large warming in the 21st century."
Melting Arctic ice was evidence for continuing change, regardless of observed temperatures, said Stein Sandven, head of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway.
"The long-term change for the Arctic sea ice has been very consistent. It shows a decline over these (past) three decades especially in the summer. In the past 3-4 years Arctic sea ice has been below the average for the last 30 years."
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, told Reuters that the IPCC stood by its 2007 findings that it is more than 90 percent certain that human activities are the main cause of global warming in the past 50 years.
"I think the findings are overall very robust. We've made one stupid error on the Himalayan glaciers. I think that there is otherwise so much solid science."
The IPCC wrongly predicted that Himalayan glaciers could vanish by 2035.


One long-running doubter of the threat of climate change, Richard Lindzen, meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said a lull in warming was unsurprising, given an earlier "obsessing about tenths of a degree" in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The world warmed 0.7-0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century. Lindzen expected analysis to show in a few years' time that recent warming had natural causes.

"It just fluctuates. I think the best explanation is the ocean. The timescale for ocean circulations can be decades."
He dismissed recent ice melt over a short, 30-year record.

Pachauri said that scientists had to unpick manmade global warming from natural influences -- such as the sun and cyclical weather patterns -- also dubbed "natural variability."
"Natural variability is not magic, there is movement of energy around the climate system and we should be able to track it," said Trenberth.
Trenberth attributed the cold winter to an extraordinary weather pattern not seen since 1977 which had curbed prevailing westerly winds across the northern hemisphere, and said that the underlying cause was "one we don't have answers to."

Banking Crisis: Money-Spinning Scam for the Financial Giants

Bernanke: Looking at Goldman Sachs Role in Greece

February 25, 2010

Reuters - The Federal Reserve is examining the role that Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs played in helping Greece arrange credit default swaps, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday.
"We are looking into a number of questions related to Goldman Sachs and other companies in their derivatives arrangements with Greece," Bernanke said in response to a question for Senate banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd.
Bernanke said the Securities and Exchange Commission was also "interested" in the issue and added:
"Obviously, using these instruments in a way that potentially destabilizes a company or a country is counterproductive."

The Great Highway Robbery Continues: How The FDIC Is Legally Transferring Billions In Taxpayer Money To Hedge Funds

February 10, 2010

Zero Hedge - It is not a secret to anyone who has been closely following the FDIC's quasi criminal bank takeover practices over the past year, that acquirors of failed banks end up receiving a massive and risk-free gift in the form of taxpayer benefits via the FDIC when it comes to funding losses on a given bank acquisition.

Should there be a short sale resulting in a loss to the full principal (not the cost basis mind you)? Not to worry, Sheila Bair is there to hand out taxpayer money to the hedge funds/banks owning the newly transferred assets.

A recent example of this was the glaring insider trading which preceded the acquisition of failed AmTrust Bank by New York Community Bancorp, in which both NYB and those who bought calls in advance of information being made public, made massive illegal profits.

And as the SEC continues to pretend like this episode never happened, we remind the intellectually subprime Mary Schapiro to finally pursue those involved, and will continue doing so for as long as it takes.

But back to the FDIC: the folks at Think Big Work Small have compiled a terrific video detailing exactly how several hedge funds, currently owners of recently created shell holding company OneWest Bank, are picking apart the carcass of failed IndyMac, all the while encouraging short sales (instead of loan mods) as only that way do they get to benefit fully from the taxpayer funded FDIC loss-share arrangements which makes the IndyMac transaction an immediate slam dunk for everyone involved...except America's taxpayers, and the FDIC's ever depleting DIF reserve.

As the authors appropriately title the video, this is indeed a slap in our face. And this goes on every single bailout Friday when the FDIC continues handing out billions of dollars under the guise of "loss sharing" arrangements, which is simply a guaranteed profit from the acquirors' cost basis to 90% of the original loan value: an instantaneous 30% risk free IRR.

Full must watch video.

The Collapse of the U.S. Economy

Jobless Claims Rise on Snow-Related Layoffs

February 25, 2010

Associated Press - The number of new claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week as heavy snows led to higher layoffs.

In addition, many state agencies in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions that process the claims were closed due to the storms and are now clearing out backlogs, a Labor Department analyst said.

Still, the increase is likely to amplify concerns that the job market is weakening, potentially slowing the economic recovery ...

The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a drop to 455,000.

Bad weather can cause job losses in construction and other industries sensitive to weather.

Economists closely watch initial claims, which are considered a gauge of the pace of layoffs and an indication of companies' willingness to hire new workers.

Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, said the claims data has been unusually distorted in recent weeks. As a result, "we are concerned about the upward pressure on initial claims but not overly concerned."
However, the job market "remains quite stressed" as "robust employment growth remains elusive," he wrote in a note to clients.
The four-week average, which smooths volatility, rose by 6,000 to 473,750.

The four-week average has risen by about 30,000 in the past month, raising concerns that job cuts are continuing. Initial claims had fallen sharply over the summer and fall but the improvement has stalled since the year began.

The economy has grown for six months but is not yet spurring new hiring. Many economists point out that the current recovery is weak compared to the aftermath of previous deep recessions.

The Labor Department said earlier this month that while the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent from 10 percent, employers still cut 20,000 jobs. The economy has lost 8.4 million jobs since the recession began.

The Federal Reserve said last week that it expects the rate will average between 9.5 percent and 9.7 percent this year.

The number of people continuing to claim unemployment benefits, meanwhile, was essentially unchanged at 4.6 million. Those figures, known as "continuing claims," lag initial claims by a week.

But there are now many more people receiving extended unemployment benefits that aren't included in the continuing claims figures. Congress has provided up to 73 weeks of extra benefits, paid for by the federal government, for jobless workers who have used up the standard 26 weeks of benefits customarily provided by states.

About 5.7 million people received extended benefits in the week ended Feb. 6, the latest data available, down from more than 6 million the previous week. The extended benefit data isn't seasonally adjusted and is volatile from week to week.

Among the states, North Carolina had biggest increase in claims, with 5,897, which it attributed to layoffs in the construction, furniture and mining industries. Pennsylvania and Kentucky also reported large increases. The state data lags initial claims by one week.

California reported the largest drop in claims, with 5,540, which it attributed to fewer layoffs in services. Illinois, New York, Texas and Missouri recorded the next largest decreases.

'Buy Farmland and Gold,' Advises Dr. Doom

February 22, 2010

Times Online - The world’s most powerful investors have been advised to buy farmland, stock up on gold and prepare for a “dirty war” by Marc Faber, the notoriously bearish market pundit, who predicted the 1987 stock market crash.

The bleak warning of social and financial meltdown, delivered today in Tokyo at a gathering of 700 pension and sovereign wealth fund managers.

Dr Faber, who advised his audience to pull out of American stocks one week before the 1987 crash and was among a handful who predicted the more recent financial crisis, vies with the Nouriel Roubini, the economist, as a rival claimant for the nickname Dr Doom.

Speaking today, Dr Faber said that investors, who control billions of dollars of assets, should start considering the effects of more disruptive events than mere market volatility.
“The next war will be a dirty war,” he told fund managers: "What are you going to do when your mobile phone gets shut down or the internet stops working or the city water supplies get poisoned?”
His investment advice, which was the first keynote speech of CLSA’s annual investment forum in Tokyo, included a suggestion that fund managers buy houses in the countryside because it was more likely that violence, biological attack and other acts of a “dirty war” would happen in cities.

He also said that they should consider holding part of their wealth in the form of precious metals “because they can be carried.”

One London-based hedge fund manager described Mr Faber’s address as “excellent, chilling stuff: good at putting you off lunch, but not something I can tell clients asking me about quarterly returns at the end of March.”

Dr Faber did offer a few more traditional investment tips, although their theme fitted his general mode of pessimism.

In Asia, particularly, he said, stock pickers should play on future food and water shortages by buying into companies with exposure to agriculture and water treatment technologies.

One of Dr Faber’s darker scenarios involves growing military tension between China and the United States over access to limited oil resources. Today the US has a considerable advantage over China because it has free access to oceans on both coasts, and has potential energy suppliers to the north and south in Canada and Mexico. It also commands an 11-strong fleet of aircraft carriers that could, if necessary, secure supply routes in a conflict situation.

China and emerging Asia, meanwhile, face the uncertainty of supplies that must travel from the Middle East through winding sea lanes and the Malacca bottleneck.

American military presence in Central Asia, Dr Faber said, may add to the level of concern in Beijing.
“When I tell people to prepare themselves for a dirty war, they ask me: “America against whom?” I tell them that for sure they will find someone.”
At the heart of Dr Faber’s argument is a fundamentally gloomy view on the US economy and its capacity to service a growing mountain of debt.

His belief, fund managers were told, is that the US is going to go bankrupt.

Under President Obama, he said, the country’s annual fiscal deficit will not drop below $1 trillion and could rise beyond that figure. Arch bears have predicted that US debt repayments could hit 35 per cent of tax revenues within ten years. Dr Faber believes that the ratio could easily hit 50 per cent in the same time frame.