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    Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:04 pm

    Blink
    These revelations about the Roman Catholic Church just get weirder and sadder. These women are obviously psychologically frail and so passionately in search of God that manipulating them through these mind trips seems particularly awful. And this scandal, like the pedophile one, has the same strange psycho-sexual religious S&M quality to it that seems to haunt so much of the Church's relationship with the larger society.
    Stephan A. Schwartz


    Vatican probes group tied to scandal






    This June 10, 2010 picture shows Silvia Vernudez, 37, of Venezuela, left, and Marcela De Maria y Campos, 38, of Mexico, during an interview in Rome. The life of those known as "consecrated women" is regimented down to the way they eat an orange, with silence the norm, e-mail screened and close friendships discouraged. But these women are not nuns _ they are lay members of the now-disgraced Legionaries of Christ order who dedicate their lives to the Catholic Church. Their situation has so alarmed Pope Benedict XVI that in May he ordered an extremely rare full Vatican investigation. Vernudez runs a house for consecrated women in the Philippines and was visiting the mother house in Rome, and Campos is a member of the Legionaries of Christ Regnum Christi. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)


    By NICOLE WINFIELD
    updated 9/25/2010 8:50:09 PM ET

    VATICAN CITY — It's a life regimented in excruciating detail, down to the way they eat an orange. Silence is the norm, information is limited, e-mail is screened, close friendships are discouraged and family members are kept at bay — all in the name of God's will.

    Known as consecrated women, they are lay Catholics affiliated with a conservative religious order who dedicate their lives to the church, making promises of chastity, poverty and obedience similar to the vows taken by nuns.

    But the cult-like conditions they endure so alarmed Pope Benedict XVI that in May he ordered an extremely rare full Vatican investigation of the obscure group, which operates in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, the Philippines and a dozen other countries. The inquiry is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

    The alleged abuses came to light during an eight-month Vatican investigation into the Legionaries of Christ, a secretive religious order beloved by Pope John Paul II but now discredited because of revelations that its charismatic founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children.

    The women belong to the order's lay wing, Regnum Christi, a global community of some 70,000 Catholics in more than 30 countries who have families and regular jobs yet participate in the mission of bringing people closer to Christ.

    Only about 900 are consecrated — nearly all women, but also a handful of men. They give up possessions and ties to their former lives much in the way nuns or priests do. They adhere to Vatican-approved statutes that require them to "voluntarily renounce the use of their capacity for decision-making" — pledging unswerving obedience to their superiors.

    In interviews with The Associated Press, eight former members from the U.S. and Mexico told of enduring emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse at the hands of superiors who told them they would be violating God's will if they broke any rules. They said their experiences left them, at least temporarily, unable to cope with real life once they got out.

    "I feel like I was brainwashed," said J., an American who joined the movement shortly after graduation from a Catholic university in the late 1990s and asked that only her middle initial be used. Like most of the women who spoke to the AP, she did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation from the Legion.

    "I really thought it was a mortal sin to break any one of the little rules that were laid out by the statutes or the directress," she said.

    Four current members denied the movement was a cult, saying the rules were aimed at creating uniformity while fostering spirituality. Still, they acknowledged problems with the way women were recruited, saying that 18-year-olds shouldn't make lifelong promises after a six-week candidacy program.

    "I think that what is happening to us, even if it's painful, to be very honest I think it was necessary," said Silvia Vernudez, a 37-year-old teacher from Venezuela who directs a house for consecrated women in the Philippines and was visiting the mother house in Rome.

    "This is a crisis," she said. "There's no way we cannot say that. But it's a moment of growth."

    The Vatican investigation of the consecrated women is the latest step in its crackdown on the Legionaries of Christ, founded by the Rev. Marcial Maciel in Mexico in 1941. Dogged for decades by allegations he sexually abused seminarians, no action was taken until 2006, when the Vatican sanctioned Maciel and ordered him to a lifetime of penance and prayer — though it did not say for what.

    Only after his death in 2008 did the order admit publicly that he had fathered children and that the abuse allegations were true, spurring the Vatican investigation. In a May 1 announcement, the Vatican said it was taking over the order and would rewrite its constitutions. A little-noticed line of that directive also announced an investigation into Regnum Christi's consecrated members.

    Such inquiries have been carried out only rarely, including the probe of U.S. seminaries after the sex abuse scandal exploded in 2002. While there have been no sex abuse allegations within Regnum Christi, the problems uncovered in the Legion — abuse of authority, suppression of dissent and a power structure built on unswerving obedience — are also rampant in consecrated life.

    Former consecrated members told of having their lives manipulated by strict rules that occupied nearly every waking minute of their day and by an endless search for new recruits.

    Nine years after she left the movement, J. can still rattle off the time stamps that dictated her day, starting with morning wakeup in which a woman would run into the dorm room at 5:20 a.m. and shout "Christ our King!" and the others would shout back "Thy kingdom come!"

    "5:20 a.m. to 5:50 a.m., get ready," J. continued. "Morning prayer from 5:50 to 6 a.m. Six to 6:30, morning meditation. Six-thirty to 7:05 Mass. Seven-ten to 7:30 breakfast, 7:30-7:35 free time, then 7:35 chores."

    Malise Lagarde, who left in August 2009 after 13 years, said she was reprimanded by her superiors when she asked questions about Maciel's double life, and was told that if she persisted, she would be putting her vocation at risk and abandoning God's will.

    "Members are not allowed to question or think outside group-think," she said. "I know that members totally dismiss any discussion of the Legion and Regnum Christi as a cult — I did when I was still part of it — but it sure looks like one once you get out."

    Mary, a 36-year-old American who was consecrated in 1996 and left eight years later, still shudders at the silence required of the women. Conversation was allowed only during certain times of the day and there was no talking at meals, except on certain feast days.

    "Inside, the life we lived was a religious life that was even stricter than a lot of the convents in the world," said Mary, who is now a married mother in the Washington D.C., area. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared legal action.

    Other former members recalled how close bonding with other women was frowned upon, so they grew emotionally dependent on their spiritual directors. Parents could call only once a month and visit once or twice a year. Women who lived overseas were allowed to return home every seven years.

    Some of the more granular rules, obeyed by members but not approved by the Vatican's central authority, extended into every facet of life.

    Members were told how to eat a piece of bread (tear off small pieces; never bite into it) and an orange (with a knife and fork). They were told how many movies they could see a year (six, selected for content); what television programs they could watch (news, debates, some sporting events, no drama or music shows); and to refrain from reading in the bathroom. Mail and e-mail were screened. Women who made mistakes were often publicly humiliated.

    While a highly regimented life and isolation from friends and family are common for cloistered nuns and monks, such extreme rules are highly unusual for a lay Catholic movement, according to canonists and experts in religious law.

    "There is not one community I'm aware of that has similar rules," said the Rev. Francis Morrisey, a canon lawyer at Ottawa's University of Saint Paul, who has written about warning signs in new religious movements.

    The Rev. Andreas Schoeggl, a Legion spokesman in Rome, stressed the dining etiquette was designed to create uniform standards in an international movement where some members might feel uncomfortable with the table manners of others.

    He claimed the obedience rules were modeled after the statutes of the Jesuits, with whom Maciel studied, and said they by no means implied a renunciation of decision-making or free will.

    However, a Jesuit canon law professor, the Rev. Ladislas Orsy of Georgetown Law School, said sections of the Regnum Christi statutes, which were approved by the Vatican in 2004, could lead to potential abuse.

    "No one can give away a basic component of his or her humanity and renounce totally his or her 'decision-making capacity' — unless (they) want to become a zombie," Orsy said in an e-mail. "It opens the way for an ignorant and unwise superior to mislead and to harm — seriously, permanently — his subjects."

    Former superiors now say there was something terribly wrong with the way they exercised authority. Denisse, who ran a house for consecrated women in Mexico, said she left last year after more than a decade when she realized the psychological harm the movement was causing.

    "If you had a fragile personality, people who wanted to be perfect, they broke you psychologically," the 40-year-old Mexican woman said.

    The Catholic Church distinguishes between three "states" of life in the faith: clergy, lay people and consecrated people, which includes nuns and sisters, as well as hermits and monks. Being consecrated implies a definitive separation or setting apart from society.

    When the women of Regnum Christi become consecrated, they pledge poverty, chastity and obedience before a Legion priest in a ceremony during which they receive a Bible and a crucifix. After two years, they get a ring signifying their "marriage" to Christ.

    Among other things, what makes them different from being a nun is that they are making private promises to a person, not public vows made to God and approved by church authorities.

    The consecrated women also lack certain canonical protections. For example, it's extremely difficult to kick out women who join religious orders like the Carmelites or Dominicans — an important provision given they have no income.

    But former Regnum Christi women said when their superiors no longer wanted them, they were made to believe they didn't have a vocation and should leave.

    "In a traditional structure, yes, you dedicate your whole life to the order, but the order also looks after you," particularly as you grow old and need medical care, said Pete Vere, a canon lawyer who has studied the Legion and Regnum Christi.

    "It's like marriage — for better or worse. ... But here, it seems, they're benefiting from the youth and the zeal and they're telling these people: 'You have this vocation ... but we can cut you off at any time.'"

    Schoeggl acknowledged there were no specific protections for lay consecrated members, but he stressed that canon law allows for interpretations that cover them.

    The movement says it is proposing changes to some rules, such as the screening of e-mails and how often women can visit their parents. It also wants to see that women are more sure of their vocations before joining.

    J. said she was totally unprepared for life on the outside.

    "I didn't have a checking account. I had to find a car," she said.

    "You come face to face with the world. You're not folding laundry for the salvation of souls anymore, you're selling perfume because you need to pay the rent."


    Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Source:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39354533/ns/world_news-europe/# [i]
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:32 pm

    There is a very significant trend taking place in the world: more and more women are entering politics and attaining real power (see the bottom of this report). As in the case of Dilma Rousseff, a number of them have experienced pain and persecution from earlier American backed authoritarian regimes, and we must anticipate reaping the bitter fruit arising from those experiences, as they formulate their policies. The same will be true in the Islamic nations where young politicians bear significant grudges against the U.S. for its ill-conceived wars and policies.


    The former guerrilla set to be the world's most powerful woman

    Brazil looks likely to elect an extraordinary leader next weekend



    Dilma Rousseff in her 1970 police mugshot, when she led a revolutionary group

    then and now




    By Hugh O'Shaughnessy

    Sunday, 26 September 2010

    The world's most powerful woman will start coming into her own next weekend. Stocky and forceful at 63, this former leader of the resistance to a Western-backed military dictatorship (which tortured her) is preparing to take her place as President of Brazil.

    As head of state, president Dilma Rousseff would outrank Angela Merkel, Germany's Chancellor, and Hillary Clinton
    , the US Secretary of State: her enormous country of 200 million people is revelling in its new oil wealth. Brazil's growth rate, rivalling China's, is one that Europe and Washington can only envy.

    Her widely predicted victory in next Sunday's presidential poll will be greeted with delight by millions. It marks the final demolition of the "national security state", an arrangement that conservative governments in the US and Europe once regarded as their best artifice for limiting democracy and reform. It maintained a rotten status quo that kept a vast majority in poverty in Latin America while favouring their rich friends.

    Ms Rousseff, the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant to Brazil and his schoolteacher wife, has benefited from being, in effect, the prime minister of the immensely popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former union leader. But, with a record of determination and success (which includes appearing to have conquered lymphatic cancer), this wife, mother and grandmother will be her own woman. The polls say she has built up an unassailable lead – of more than 50 per cent compared with less than 30 per cent – over her nearest rival, an uninspiring man of the centre called Jose Serra. Few doubt that she will be installed in the Alvorada presidential palace in Brasilia in January.

    Like President Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Brazil's neighbour, Ms Rousseff is unashamed of a past as an urban guerrilla which included battling the generals and spending time in jail as a political prisoner. As a little girl growing up in the provincial city of Belo Horizonte, she says she dreamed successively of becoming a ballerina, a firefighter and a trapeze artist. The nuns at her school took her class to the city's poor area to show them the vast gaps between the middle-class minority and the vast majority of the poor. She remembers that when a young beggar with sad eyes came to her family's door she tore a currency note in half to share with him, not knowing that half a banknote had no value.

    Her father, Pedro, died when she was 14, but by then he had introduced her to the novels of Zola and Dostoevski. After that, she and her siblings had to work hard with their mother to make ends meet. By 16 she was in POLOP (Workers' Politics), a group outside the traditional Brazilian Communist Party that sought to bring socialism to those who knew little about it.

    The generals seized power in 1964 and decreed a reign of terror to defend what they called "national security". She joined secretive radical groups that saw nothing wrong with taking up arms against an illegitimate military regime. Besides cosseting the rich and crushing trade unions and the underclass, the generals censored the press, forbidding editors from leaving gaps in newspapers to show where news had been suppressed.

    Ms Rousseff ended up in the clandestine VAR-Palmares (Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard). In the 1960s and 1970s, members of such organisations seized foreign diplomats for ransom: a US ambassador was swapped for a dozen political prisoners; a German ambassador was exchanged for 40 militants; a Swiss envoy swapped for 70. They also shot foreign torture experts sent to train the generals' death squads. Though she says she never used weapons, she was eventually rounded up and tortured by the secret police in Brazil's equivalent to Abu Ghraib, the Tiradentes prison in Sao Paulo. She was given a 25-month sentence for "subversion" and freed after three years. Today she openly confesses to having "wanted to change the world".

    In 1973 she moved to the prosperous southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, where her second husband, Carlos Araujo, a lawyer, was finishing a four-year term as a political prisoner (her first marriage with a young left-winger, Claudio Galeno, had not survived the strains of two people being on the run in different cities). She went back to university, started working for the state government in 1975, and had a daughter, Paula.

    In 1986, she was named finance chief of Porto Alegre, the state capital, where her political talents began to blossom. Yet the 1990s were bitter-sweet years for her. In 1993 she was named secretary of energy for the state, and pulled off the coup of vastly increasing power production, ensuring the state was spared the power cuts that plagued the rest of the country.

    She had 1,000km of new electric power lines, new dams and thermal power stations built while persuading citizens to switch off the lights whenever they could. Her political star started shining brightly. But in 1994, after 24 years together, she separated from Mr Araujo, though apparently on good terms. At the same time she was torn between academic life and politics, but her attempt to gain a doctorate in social sciences failed in 1998.

    In 2000 she threw her lot in with Lula and his Partido dos Trabalhadores, or Workers' Party which set its sights successfully on combining economic growth with an attack on poverty. The two immediately hit it off and she became his first energy minister in 2003. Two years later he made her his chief of staff and has since backed her as his successor. She has been by his side as Brazil has found vast new offshore oil deposits, aiding a leader whom many in the European and US media were denouncing a decade ago as a extreme left-wing wrecker to pull 24 million Brazilians out of poverty. Lula stood by her in April last year as she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, a condition that was declared under control a year ago. Recent reports of financial irregularities among her staff do not seem to have damaged her popularity.

    Ms Rousseff is likely to invite President Mujica of Uruguay to her inauguration in the New Year. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay – other successful South American leaders who have, like her, weathered merciless campaigns of denigration in the Western media – are also sure to be there. It will be a celebration of political decency – and feminism.

    Female representation: A woman's place... is in the government

    In recent years, female political representation has undergone significant growth, with dramatic changes occurring in unexpected corners of the globe. In some countries women are dominating cabinets and even parliamentary chambers. By comparison, the UK falls far behind, with only 22 per cent of seats in the Commons currently held by women.

    Bolivia In the Bolivian cabinet, 10 men are now matched by 10 women. In 2009, women won 25 per cent of seats in the lower chamber, and 47 per cent in the upper chamber.

    Costa Rica In 2010, women won 39 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Argentina In 2009, women won 39 per cent of seats in the lower chamber and 47 per cent in the upper chamber.

    Cuba In 2009, women won 41 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Rwanda In 2009, women won 56 per cent of seats in the lower chamber and 35 per cent in the upper chamber.

    Mozambique In 2009, women won 39 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Angola In 2009, women won 38 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Switzerland Has a female-dominated cabinet for the first time. In 2007, women won 29 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Germany In 2009, the cabinet had six women and 10 men. That year, women won 33 per cent of lower chamber seats.

    Spain Nine women compared with eight men in cabinet. In 2008, women won 37 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Norway Equal numbers of men and women in the cabinet. Women won 40 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Denmark Nine women and 10 men in cabinet. In 2007, women won 23 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Netherlands Three women and nine men in cabinet. In 2010, women won 41 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

    Source;
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-former-guerrilla-set-to-be-the-worlds-most-powerful-woman-2089916.html[i]
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:17 pm

    Longtime SR readers know of my view that water is destiny (See the archives for two of my essays on this subject, or go to explorejournal.com/content/schwartz. Here is further evidence of this trend. It isn't hard to understand the implications of this story on life in Phoenix, Las Vegas, or Tucson.

    Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning


    The Southern Nevada Water Authority is tunneling under Lake Mead to install an intake valve that could continue operating until water levels dropped below 1,000 feet.



    Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning
    By FELICITY BARRINGER

    LAKE MEAD NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, Nev. — A once-unthinkable day is looming on the Colorado River.

    Barring a sudden end to the Southwest’s 11-year drought, the distribution of the river’s dwindling bounty is likely to be reordered as early as next year because the flow of water cannot keep pace with the region’s demands.

    For the first time, federal estimates issued in August indicate that Lake Mead, the heart of the lower Colorado basin’s water system — irrigating lettuce, onions and wheat in reclaimed corners of the Sonoran Desert, and lawns and golf courses from Las Vegas to Los Angeles — could drop below a crucial demarcation line of 1,075 feet.

    If it does, that will set in motion a temporary distribution plan approved in 2007 by the seven states with claims to the river and by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, and water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada would be reduced.

    This could mean more dry lawns, shorter showers and fallow fields in those states, although conservation efforts might help them adjust to the cutbacks. California, which has first call on the Colorado River flows in the lower basin, would not be affected.

    But the operating plan also lays out a proposal to prevent Lake Mead from dropping below the trigger point. It allows water managers to send 40 percent more water than usual downstream to Lake Mead from Lake Powell in Utah, the river’s other big reservoir, which now contains about 50 percent more water than Lake Mead.

    In that case, the shortage declaration would be avoided and Lake Mead’s levels restored to 1,100 feet or so.

    Lake Powell, fed by rain and snowmelt that create the Colorado and tributaries, has risen more than 60 feet from a 2004 low because the upper basin states, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah, do not use their full allocations. The upper basin provides a minimum annual flow of 8.23 million acre feet to Arizona, Nevada and California. (An acre-foot of water is generally considered the amount two families of four use annually.)

    In its August report the Bureau of Reclamation said the extra replenishment from Lake Powell was the likeliest outcome. Nonetheless, said Terry Fulp, the bureau’s deputy regional director for the Lower Colorado Region, it is the first time ever that the bureau has judged a critical shortage to be remotely possible in the near future.

    “We’re approaching the magical line that would trigger shortage,” Mr. Fulp said. “We have the lowest 11-year average in the 100-year-plus recorded history of flows on the basin.”

    The reservoir is now less than 15 inches above the all-time low of 1,083.2 feet set in 1956.

    But back then, while the demand from California farmland was similar, if not greater, the population was far smaller. Perhaps 9.5 million people in the three states in the lower Colorado River basin depended on the supply in the late 1950s; today more than 28 million people do.

    The impact of the declining water level is visible in the alkaline bathtub rings on the reservoir’s walls and the warning lights for mariners high on its rocky outcroppings. National Park Service employees have repeatedly moved marinas, chasing the receding waterline.

    Adding to water managers’ unease, scientists predict that prolonged droughts will be more frequent in decades to come as the Southwest’s climate warms. As Lake Mead’s level drops, Hoover Dam’s capacity to generate electricity, which, like the Colorado River water, is sent around the Southwest, diminishes with it. If Lake Mead levels fall to 1,050 feet, it may be impossible to use the dam’s turbines, and the flow of electricity could cease.

    The fretting that dominates today’s discussions about the river contrasts with the old-style optimism about the Colorado’s plenitude that has usually prevailed since Hoover Dam — then called Boulder Dam — was completed 75 years ago, impounding the water from Lake Mead.

    The worries have provoked action: cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas have undertaken extensive conservation programs. Between 2000 and 2009, Phoenix’s average per-capita daily household use has dropped almost 20 percent; Las Vegas’s has dropped 21.3 percent.

    Nonetheless, “if the river flow continues downward and we can’t build back up supply, Las Vegas is in big trouble,” Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said in an interview.

    While Las Vegas is one of the Colorado River’s smaller clients — it consumes 2 percent of the river’s allocated deliveries— the city relies on Lake Mead for 90 percent of its water supply. From 2002 to 2009, the metropolitan area’s population mushroomed by nearly 40 percent, to 1.9 million from 1.37 million.

    In response to the population boom and the drought, which began in 1999, the authority began an aggressive effort to encourage water conservation in 2002.

    Now it is expanding its options: it is tunneling under the bottom of Lake Mead to install a third intake valve that could continue operating until lake levels dropped below 1,000 feet.

    Saddle Island, the construction staging site on the reservoir, looks like an abstract painting, its dusty russet ground covered with interlacing segments of the 2,500 concrete rings that will make up the three-mile-long pipe.

    Ms. Mulroy has also pushed aggressively for pipelines to carry distant groundwater to the Las Vegas area; most contentious is a planned 285-mile pipeline that would cross the state diagonally and take groundwater from the Snake Valley, on the Nevada-Utah border, to Las Vegas.

    The authority has also spent about $147 million on a program to encourage homeowners and businesses to eliminate their lawns in favor of the rock, grass and cactus landscaping known as xeriscaping. More than 70 percent of household water usage is attributed to outdoor use, Ms. Mulroy said.

    Residents can now water their yards only three days a week, before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m., and the restrictions are to tighten this winter.

    Dolores Cormier, 82, who lives on Monterrey Avenue on the southern side of Las Vegas, reconfigured her front and side lawns, installing a rocky cover and drip irrigation. Under a water authority program known as Water Smart Landscapes (colloquially, Cash for Grass), she has received $2,689 in utility subsidies that will offset the $5,600 or so she said the xeriscaping cost her.

    She is pleased with the new look but said her average monthly water bill of $45 or so has yet to decline, perhaps because she still tends grass in her small backyard. “I need some lawn,” she confessed.

    If the 1,075 level is broken at Lake Mead next year, more drastic conservation measures will be needed, officials warn.

    “We have a very finite resource and demand which increases and enlarges every day,” said John A. Zebre, a Wyoming lawyer and the president of the Colorado River Water Users Association.

    “The problem is always going to be there,” he said. “Everything is driven by that problem.”

    Source;
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28mead.html?_r=3&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1285801201-qKFJ5jMJhdNy2ILBdgbLlw#[i]
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    mudra

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  mudra on Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:53 am

    Hope you don't mind me posting this here Gio.
    I found this article interesting in the sense that it shows us that if we want to have a viable future we need to turn to a way of looking at the problems we face with a holistic approach that includes the well being of mother Earth as a whole as part of the equation .

    Rivers threatened around the world
    29 September 2010
    Environment
    Science In Society


    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/09/rivers-threatened-around-the-w.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

    The water supplying 80 per cent of the world's population is exposed to "high levels of threat". That's the conclusion of a study that surveys the status of rivers throughout the world, and looks at their effects on both humans and the ecosystem at large.

    Writing in this week's Nature (vol 467, p 555), Charles Vorosmarty of the City College of New York and colleagues pull together a swathe of data on factors affecting water security, from dams that reduce river flow to the pollution and destruction of wetlands.

    They produce two maps showing the levels of threat to humans and to ecosystems that rely on rivers. The maps are virtually identical, with the continental US, Europe and south-east Asia facing the greatest threats, to both humans and the wider ecosystem.



    The map above shows the level of threat to humans: blue means low threat, and red means high threat. The grey areas are deserts with little or no water flow.

    Readers in the UK and US may be wondering when such threats will materialise, given that these regions rarely experience anything much worse than a hosepipe ban. In fact, the human threat map is not the whole story: most developed countries have technology in place to combat water shortages, like reservoirs and distribution pipelines.

    When the team plugged these factors into their model, the threats to humans look a little different:



    Once investment in technology is factored in, it turns out that the people most at risk from water shortages live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa - which is about what you'd expect.

    Technology, it seems, can insulate humans from the effects of water shortages if you can afford it. But so far it hasn't made a dent in the accompanying threat to wildlife, the researchers write.

    They also point out that many of the technologies that stabilise water supplies for humans, such as irrigation systems and reservoirs, are to blame for the threats to ecosystems. That's neatly captured in this last map, which contrasts the two types of threat.

    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/assets_c/2010/09/100928_water_security_fig4-thumb-600x250-92662.jpg

    There are virtually no places on Earth where the threat to humans is high, but the threat to wildlife is low.

    The message of this last map is stark: that wildlife is threatened by water shortages everywhere humans live in large numbers, and that human security is threatened only where people are too poor to afford the technology that could protect them.

    (Images: Nature)

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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:55 pm

    Thank you my Dear Mudra~
    for your very keen insight into this problematic issue...

    to quote your post-

    "The message of this last map is stark: that wildlife is threatened by water shortages everywhere humans live in large numbers, and that human security is threatened only where people are too poor to afford the technology that could protect them."

    How true Annoyed

    But for how much longer Hmmm


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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:41 pm

    While we are squandering our wealth on self-crippling wars, the Chinese are using theirs to gain control over the raw materials that will define the century. The shortsightedness of American politicians of both parties is breathtaking.

    *********************************




    The Great Haul of China:
    Fears of Chinese land grab as Beijing's billions buy up resources

    By Sarah Arnott

    Saturday, 2 October 2010

    China is pouring another $7bn (£4.4bn) into Brazil's oil industry, reigniting fears of a global "land grab" of natural resources.

    State-owned Sinopec clinched the deal with Spain's Repsol yesterday to buy 40 per cent of its Brazilian business, giving China's largest oil company access to Repsol Brasil's estimated reserves of 1.2 billion barrels of oil and gas. The whopping price tag for Repsol Brasil – which values the company at nearly twice previous estimates – is a sign of China's willingness to pay whatever it takes to lock in its future energy supplies and avoid social unrest. It will give the company enough cash to develop all its current oil projects, including two fields in the Santos Basin.

    The Repsol deal is not China's first in Brazil. In February last year, Sinopec stumped up a $10bn loan to Petrobras, the state-owned oil company, in return for guaranteed supplies of 10,000 barrels of oil every day for the next 10 years.

    It also follows a slew of similar deals across the world. While much of the developed world is baulking at its debts in the aftermath of the financial crisis, China has continued a global spending spree of unprecedented proportions, snapping up everything from oil and gas reserves to mining concessions to agricultural land, with vast reserves of US dollars.

    This year alone, Chinese companies have laid out billions of dollars buying up stakes in Canada's oil sands, a Guinean iron ore mine, oil fields in Angola and Uganda, an Argentinian oil company and a major Australian coal-bed methane gas company.

    "China is rich in people but short of resources, and it wants to have stable supplies of its own rather than having to buy on the open market," Jonathan Fenby, China expert and director of research group Trusted Resources, said.

    But it is a strategy causing anxiety elsewhere in the world. Rumours in recent weeks that China's Sinochem may make a bid for Canada's Potash Corporation raised fears that the Middle Kingdom would corner the global market for fertiliser.

    Similarly, when BP's share price plummeted after Barack Obama's criticisms in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, there was concern that the company would be driven into the hands of the Chinese.

    More explicitly still, when the aluminium giant Chinalco was trying to buy Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto last year, television ads protesting against the scheme from no less than the Senate opposition leader bellowed "Keep Australia Australian".

    "Chinese acquisitions are increasingly on the political radar," said Robin Geffen, the chief executive of Neptune Investment Management, which runs a leading China investment fund. "The pinch points come when people feel that supplies affecting national security could be threatened by China buying them all up."

    Contrary to the conspiracy theories, China is not looking for world domination. It has seen economic growth averaging a massive 10 per cent for the best part of three decades, and although it is expected to drop into the high single-digits in the coming years – in response to a dip in export demand – the natural resources required to support even slightly moderated growth are an overwhelming priority.

    China is already the second-largest oil consumer in the world and far outstrips its domestic supplies. Neptune estimates that it will need to buy two companies the size of BP each year for the next 12 years to meet its growing domestic energy demand. Demand for electricity alone is growing each year equivalent to Britain's entire output.

    "These are massive, massive numbers," Mr Geffen said. "The deal with Repsol today, and all the others we have seen in recent years, are wholly strategic, to nail down what they estimate future demand will be."

    But, despite the concerns that China is cornering the market and will push up prices, the developed world also has a vested interest in China pursuing a successful strategy.

    Notwithstanding qualms about a change in the global balance of power, China's continued economic growth has been vital to hauling the world out of recession – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The threat from political instability if Chinese growth stalls has similarly global implications. "The whole world needs China to have these resources to help pull us out of recession and avoid local unrest," said Ian Sperling-Tyler, a partner and oil and gas expert at the consultancy Deloitte.

    But concerns remain about China's involvement in politically difficult countries, particularly in Africa. China is not squeamish about the politics of its business partners. It follows a simple formula, offering premium prices and massive infrastructure investments in return for long-term concessions for key resources. There are several well-documented deals on the continent – including a recent $2.5bn tie-up with Britain's Tullow Oil in Uganda and off-shore production in Angola and Nigeria. And the positive impact is evident in spanking new infrastructure including hospitals, ports, and road and rail links being built with the influx of Chinese money.

    But China is also involved in some of Africa's more controversial countries. It came in for widespread criticism in 2008 for arms sales to war-torn Sudan, a major trade partner, and its alleged refusal to help resolve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. It has also been accused of paying multimillion-dollar backhanders in return for African leaders repudiating Taiwan at the UN, although nothing has ever been proved. And because the majority of the deals are done on a government-to-government basis, there is no way to be clear on the extent of the relationships.

    Source:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/fears-of-chinese-land-grab-as-beijings-billions-buy-up-resources-2095451.html

    Related ~ Bonus - Story Article- below



    *********************************
    China's Wen offers to buy Greek debt

    China says has bought and will buy new Greek bonds


    By Ingrid Melander and Harry Papachristou

    ATHENS, Oct 2 (Reuters) - China offered on Saturday to buy Greek government bonds when Athens resumes issuing, in a show of support for the country whose debt burden pushed the euro zone into crisis and required an international bailout.

    Premier Wen Jiabao made the offer at the start of a two-day visit to Greece, his first stop on a tour of Europe, and also said he wanted to boost shipping and trade ties with Athens, underscoring Beijing's use of economic strength to win friends.

    "With its foreign exchange reserve, China has already bought and is holding Greek bonds and will keep a positive stance in participating and buying bonds that Greece will issue," Wen said, speaking through an interpreter.

    "China will undertake a great effort to support euro zone countries and Greece to overcome the crisis."

    Wen and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou said in a statement the world's nations need to coordinate their economic policies for global recovery to find a sure footing. [ID:nATH005710]

    "The global economy shows signs of gradual recovery but many uncertainties remain," the two leaders said in the statement, issued on Saturday by Papandreou's office after the two men met in Athens.

    In addition to seeing economic opportunities in Greece, China may calculate its support of a struggling European country will help deflect international criticism of its trade policies and its refusal to let its yuan currency appreciate sharply.

    Wen did not specify how much Greek debt China would be willing to buy or which Chinese entities would buy the bonds.

    Chinese state entities have been generally conservative about investing in foreign financial markets and the Chinese government faces domestic political criticism over losses incurred by these entities during the global financial crisis.

    HIGH BORROWING COSTS

    A senior Greek government official said Wen made clear his offer concerned buying bonds only when the country returned to markets. [ID:nATH005706]

    Greece, which is currently funded through a 110 billion euro ($150 billion) EU/IMF bailout, is only issuing short-term T-bills for the time being.

    Since the true scale of its debt burden emerged late last year, investors have shunned its bonds. The yield they demand to hold 10-year Greek debt has shot up to 10 percent, compared with just 2.3 percent for similar bonds from the euro zone's biggest economy Germany, making it too expensive for Greece to seek long-term funding in international markets. GR10YT=RR

    It has said it wants to return to markets some time next year to sell longer-term debt.

    China, at loggerheads with the United States over the yuan and likely to face similar complaints during this European tour, emphasised its willingness to cooperate with the 27-nation EU on financial issues.CNY=CFXS

    "China is prepared, hand in hand with the EU, as passengers in the same boat, to strengthen cooperation ... to confront the financial crisis," Wen said. "I believe that we can undertake a genuine effort to promote the reform of the international financial system and strengthen its supervision," he said.

    Neither Wen nor Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou mentioned the Chinese currency at the news conference.

    SHIPPING FUND, TRADE, EXPORTS

    Wen said China wanted to boost cooperation with Greece -- which faces its worst recession in decades as it struggles with its debt -- on all fronts, including by setting up a shipping fund and doubling bilateral trade to $8 billion by 2015.

    "China will set up a special Greek-Chinese shipping development fund for Greek shipowners on which it will invest, in an initial phase, $5 billion," Wen told the news conference. "The aim is to offer Greek shipowners a basket of financial support to buy Chinese-made vessels."

    Greece and China pledged to stimulate investment in a memorandum of understanding and private companies signed a dozen deals in areas like shipping, construction and tourism. [ID:nATH005705] [ID:nATH005704]

    With the global economic crisis and competition with other Balkan countries increasing, foreign direct investment in Greece fell from 6.9 billion euros in 2006 to 4.5 billion in 2009, according to Investment Ministry figures.

    Chinese investment represents a very minor proportion of this, excluding a 35-year concession deal China's Cosco signed in 2008 to turn the port of Piraeus into a regional hub for a guaranteed amount of 3.4 billion euros, according to port authority figures.

    The investment memorandum does not target specific investment volumes, an official close to Investment Minister Harris Pamboukis said ahead of Wen's visit.

    "We want to build this strategic partnership with China," the investment ministry official said. "The purpose is not a signature on something big."

    Wen will address the Greek parliament on Sunday and leave early on Monday for Brussels, where he will attend an EU-China summit before going on to Germany, Italy and Turkey.

    Clinching business deals with countries such as China and Qatar would help boost confidence among Greek consumers and businesses, economic analysts said.

    (Additional reporting by Deborah Kyvrikosaios and George Georgiopoulos; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Charles Dick/Ruth Pitchford) ($1=.7322 Euro)

    Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

    Source;
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE69100N20101002[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:35 pm

    Once again we see how the middle class is being destroyed. Endless dollars for war while 12.67 per cent of our people are on food assistance teetering on the brink of hunger.



    Food Stamp Recipients at Record 41.8 Million Americans in July, U.S. Says

    By Alan Bjerga - Oct 5, 2010

    The number of Americans receiving food stamps rose to a record 41.8 million in July as the jobless rate hovered near a 27-year high, the government said.

    Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program subsidies for food purchases jumped 18 percent from a year earlier and increased 1.4 percent from June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a statement on its website. Participation has set records for 20 straight months.

    Unemployment in September may have reached 9.7 percent, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts in advance of the release of last month’s rate on Oct. 8. Unemployment was 9.6 percent in July, near levels last seen in 1983.

    An average of 43.3 million people, more than an eighth of the population, will get food stamps each month in the year that began Oct. 1, according to White House estimates.

    Source:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-05/food-stamp-recipients-at-record-41-8-million-americans-in-july-u-s-says.html[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:30 pm

    Animals said to have spiritual experiences
    Ever have an out-of-body experience? Your dog may have too


    By Jennifer Viegas
    Discovery Channel


    Animals (not just people) likely have spiritual experiences, according to a prominent neurologist who has analyzed the processes of spiritual sensation for over three decades.

    Research suggests that spiritual experiences originate deep within primitive areas of the human brain — areas shared by other animals with brain structures like our own.

    The trick, of course, lies in proving animals' experiences.

    "Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences," Kevin Nelson, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, told Discovery News.

    "Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences," added Nelson, author of the book "The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain," which will be published in January 2011.

    The finding is an extension of his research on humans, which has been published in many peer-reviewed journals. A Neurology journal study, for example, determined that out-of-body experiences in humans are likely caused by the brain's arousal system, which regulates different states of consciousness.

    "In humans, we know that if we disrupt the (brain) region where vision, sense of motion, orientation in the Earth's gravitational field, and knowing the position of our body all come together, then out-of-body experiences can be caused literally by the flip of a switch," he said. "There is absolutely no reason to believe it is any different for a dog, cat, or primate’s brain."

    Other mammals also probably have near-death experiences comparable to those reported by certain humans, he believes. Such people often say they saw a light and felt as though they were moving down a tunnel.

    The tunnel phenomenon "is caused by the eye's susceptibility to the low blood flow that occurs with fainting or cardiac arrest," he said. "As blood flow diminishes, vision fails peripherally first. There is no reason to believe that other animals are any different from us."

    Nelson added, "What they make of the tunnel is another matter."

    The light aspect of near-death experiences can be explained by how the visual system defines REM (rapid eye movement) consciousness, he believes.

    "In fact," he said, "the link between REM and the physiological crises causing near-death experience are most strongly linked in animals, like cats and rats, which we can study in the laboratory."

    Mystical experiences — moments that inspire a sense of mystery and wonderment — arise within the limbic system, he said. When specific parts of this system are removed from animal brains, mind-altering drugs like LSD have no effect.

    Since other animals, such as non-human primates, horses, cats and dogs, also possess similar brain structures, it is possible that they too experience mystical moments, and may even have a sense of spiritual oneness, according to Nelson.

    Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, also believes animals have spiritual experiences, which he defines as experiences that are nonmaterial, intangible, introspective and comparable to what humans have.

    Both he and primatologist Jane Goodall have observed chimpanzees dancing with total abandon at waterfalls that emerge after heavy rains. Some of the chimps even appear to dance themselves into a trance-like state, as some humans do during religious and cultural rituals.

    Goodall wondered, "Is it not possible that these (chimpanzee) performances are stimulated by feelings akin to wonder and awe? After a waterfall display the performer may sit on a rock, his eyes following the falling water. What is it, this water?"

    "Perhaps numerous animals engage in these rituals, but we haven't been lucky enough to see them," Bekoff wrote in a Psychology Today report.

    "For now, let's keep the door open to the idea that animals can be spiritual beings and let's consider the evidence for such a claim," he added.

    "Meager as it is, available evidence says, 'Yes, animals can have spiritual experiences,' and we need to conduct further research and engage in interdisciplinary discussions before we say that animals cannot and do not experience spirituality."

    Source:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39574733/from/toolbar#[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:27 pm

    Poverty Grows in Suburbs, but Social Services Don’t Keep Up

    Released: 10/4/2010 4:00 PM EDT
    Embargo expired: 10/7/2010 12:15 AM EDT
    Source: University of Chicago

    Newswise — Poverty has grown in America’s suburbs during the recent economic downturn, but poor people in many suburban communities are finding it hard to get the help they need, a report by University of Chicago researchers shows.

    “Many suburbs have seen significant expansion in the number of poor persons over the last several years, yet few of the suburban communities have a social services infrastructure in place to address the challenges this increased poverty poses,” said Scott Allard, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University.

    Allard and Benjamin Roth, a graduate student at SSA, are the authors of a report, “Suburbs in Need: Rising Suburban Poverty and Challenges for Suburban Safety Nets,” prepared for the Brookings Institution, to be released Thursday, Oct. 7. For the study, the researchers examined census data, records from the Internal Revenue Service and interviewed representatives of social service agencies in suburban Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

    The authors focused on these specific metropolitan areas because they provide a diverse set of suburban communities with different levels of poverty and social service support. Focusing on three metro areas also allowed the authors to follow a large set of nonprofit service providers over the course of a year. The experiences of low-income people in the suburbs of these three metro areas are quite similar to the experiences of low-income people in other suburban areas across the country, Allard said.

    The study is one of the first comprehensive looks at suburban safety nets and poverty during the recession. The majority of poverty research focuses on concentrated urban poverty.

    Poverty rates remain higher in urban areas than suburban areas (18.2 percent versus 9.5 percent), but the number of poor in the suburbs has grown considerably as the overall population of the suburbs grows. Poverty rates also grew quickly in the suburbs of the largest metropolitan areas during the 2000s, and by 2008, the number of suburban poor exceeded the number of city poor in the largest metro areas by 1.5 million. The report found that several suburban counties outside Chicago experienced more than 30 percent increases in the number of poor residents from 2000 to 2008, as did portions of counties in suburban Maryland and northern Virginia.

    As in the city, poverty also is concentrated in certain areas of the suburbs, with some communities having high concentrations of poverty while nearby communities are more affluent. Suburbs also vary greatly in their number of immigrants and minority populations. For example, while several suburban Los Angeles municipalities are predominantly Hispanic and a handful of Chicago suburbs have sizeable Hispanic populations, many Washington, D.C. suburbs have substantial black and Asian populations as well.

    Although the collapse of the housing market and high unemployment are driving demand for help, many of the people seeking assistance have jobs. They are among the working poor who have seen their hours and earnings cut in the last few years. “Forty-five percent of providers report substantial increases in the number of clients coming from households where one or both adults are working but cannot earn enough to make ends meet,” Allard said.

    The researchers also found that a major impact of the ¬Great Recession has been an increase in the number of people coming, for the first time, to seek help from social service agencies. “Almost three-quarters of suburban nonprofits are seeing more clients with no previous connection to safety net programs,” Allard said.

    The social service agencies, which provide emergency food and housing relief, job training, help with health care and other assistance to low-income populations, were often not well-positioned to respond to the increase in poverty, the report showed.

    “Suburban safety nets rely on relatively few social service organizations, and those few organizations tend to stretch operations across much larger service delivery areas than their urban counterparts,” Allard said. The study found that 60 percent of the agencies administered programs in more than one community, which led to fragmentation in the services that agencies could provide because they had to deal with different sets of municipal leaders.

    The study also found great variation in the number of social service agencies for given populations of poor people. In suburban Chicago, Evanston had one social service agency per 344 poor residents in the community, while nearby Skokie had one social service agency per 1,299 poor residents.

    A major problem for social service providers has been low funding, and that will continue as the economy slowly recovers. Both California and Illinois have massive deficits that limit the prospect for state support of social service agencies. Additionally, philanthropic support has declined, Allard said.

    “Almost half of suburban nonprofits surveyed reported a loss in a key revenue source last year, with more funding cuts anticipated in the year to come. Nearly 30 percent nonprofits have laid off full-time and part-time staff,” Allard said. As a result, the poor are put on waiting lists for the help they need.

    Despite such challenges, the work of nonprofits serving the poor in the suburbs is needed now more than before, and deserves support, Allard said.

    “As is true for cities and rural places, the nonprofit social service sector in suburbs can help these communities alleviate the worst economic and social impacts of the current downturn and future increases in poverty,” Allard said. “Promoting stronger region-wide providers and better engaging charitable foundations in metropolitan safety net planning represent important strategies for strengthening suburban social services infrastructure.”

    Source;
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/poverty-grows-in-suburbs-but-social-services-don-t-keep-up2?ret=/articles/list&category=latest&page=9&search[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:17 pm

    Further evidence of the destruction of the middle class.


    Debtors prisons have been outlawed in the U.S. for more than 100 years -- but that hasn't stopped collections agencies


    The Return of Debtor’s Prison
    Collection agencies use the criminal justice system to pocket credit card debts


    Greg Beato from the November 2010 issue

    According to Michael Klozotsky, managing editor of the trade publication insideARM.com, debt collectors contact consumers approximately four billion times a year. With so many contacts, there are bound to be complaints. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 88,190 consumer complaints about third-party debt collectors. More than 2,500 of these involved collectors who used threats of violence, or actual violence, while plying their trade. Another 11,505 involved false threats of arrest or property seizure. Approximately zero involved one of the more egregious aspects of debt collection: the way the industry outsources collection efforts to the civil court system, using taxpayer money and government force to strong-arm nickels from low-level deadbeats.

    “In 2007, third party collection agencies returned over $40 billion to original creditors via collection efforts,” Klozotsky tells me. He’s making a case for the virtues of debt collection, and this is his most persuasive talking point: Those recovered billions increase the availability of credit to all consumers and help keep interest rates in check.

    But the persistent phone calls and dunning letters that collection agencies deploy on debtors only pack so much punch. More and more, creditors are retaining the services of attorneys to file lawsuits on their behalf in civil court. At an FTC roundtable in 2009, Ira Leibsker, a Chicago collection attorney, estimated that there were “probably tens of millions of lawsuits” underway at that time. That same year, a single company, Encore Capital Group, filed 375,000 suits in the United States. According to “Debt Deception,” a report published by the Legal Aid Society and several other advocacy organizations in May 2010, the 26 largest debt buyers in New York City filed 457,322 lawsuits from January 2006 through July 2008.

    This huge infusion of cases exposes thousands of individuals to a process that overwhelmingly favors plaintiffs. Indeed, in debt collection cases, you’re basically guilty until proven innocent.

    Part of the problem stems from the way the debt buying industry has evolved over the last 20 years. As recently as the early 1990s, many credit card issuers made little effort to collect on their past-due accounts. If a cardholder missed a payment or two, in-house collection efforts would generally follow. But when a cardholder hadn’t made a payment in 180 days, issuers tended to “charge off” the delinquent account against earnings, settle for the tax break, and pursue collection efforts no further.

    Now there are companies that purchase portfolios of delinquent debt for pennies on the dollar, then attempt to collect. According to “Debt Machine,” a report produced by the National Consumer Law Center, debt buyers bought receivables worth $6 billion in face value in 1993. By 2005, that number had grown to $110 billion. Debts migrate from seller to buyer, often with very little information attached to them. “What they’re buying is a spreadsheet full of data: names, addresses, account numbers, and balances,” says Fred W. Schwinn, an attorney at Consumer Law Center, Inc. in San Jose, California. Applications, original contracts, transaction histories—plaintiffs don’t need any of these documents to file a lawsuit. “You don’t have to attach assignment documents of any kind,” says Schwinn. “You just say, ‘I bought an account [with a balance of] $10,000. This person owes me the money.’ You file the complaint, you get service on the defendant, and the courts will grant a judgement on that.”

    In the bulk of these cases, defendants don’t show up and the judge simply issues default judgments against them. In many instances, they fail to show because they’re hoping haplessly to avoid paying debts they owe. In others, they simply don’t know they’re being sued. “I get people in our office every week who say, ‘My paycheck just got garnished and I’ve never been served for anything,’” says Schwinn. “Come to find out, they were substitute-served at an address they haven’t lived at in three or four years. The processor knocks on the door and asks for So-and-So, and the person says, ‘I never heard of that person.’ And the processor just drops the paperwork on the porch and walks away.”

    In the early years of America, “debt was an inescapable fact of life,” the historian Bruce H. Mann writes in Republic of Debtors, his 2002 account of how the new nation reconciled its ideals of “republican independence” with the pervasive indebtedness that plagued its citizens. Over time, he shows, insolvency shifted in meaning “from sin to risk, from moral failure to economic failure,” and bankruptcy laws and the eventual abolition of debtor’s prisons offered the insolvent a chance to free themselves from past failures and misfortunes.

    While this shift in meaning applied more to commercial debts than personal ones, we see its echo in today’s statutes of limitations on credit card debts. Simply put, America doesn’t want you to stay in debt forever. While statutes of limitations differ from state to state, more than half give creditors just three to five years to sue debtors for non-payment. If they miss that window, a debtor is under no legal obligation to repay
    his debt.

    If a creditor sues and obtains a judgment, however, any ideals of republican independence, fresh starts, and forgiveness quickly go out the window. In California, for example, judgments are enforceable for 10 years, then renewable for another 10 years, then renewable after that under certain conditions. Interest accrues at 10 percent per annum, wages can be garnished, bank accounts frozen, property seized. A debt originally incurred by someone whose name is similar to yours can become a lifelong commitment, simply because you ignored a few letters from a company whose name you didn’t recognize that said you owed it money. That’s a worst-case scenario, but as cases get rubber-stamped by judges and clerks auto-piloting their way through the daily deluge of lawsuits, it happens.

    Then there’s an unfortunate fellow in Kenney, Illinois. In January, a judge sentenced him to “indefinite incarceration” until he paid $300 toward a debt he owed to a lumber yard. Originally reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the case is an extreme example of a practice that, while rare, is apparently happening more frequently—the Star Tribune reports that the “use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases [in Minnesota] in 2009.”

    When a judge issues a judgment against a debtor, the debtor is supposed to complete a financial disclosure form that will provide the information a creditor needs to collect his debt. If the debtor fails to do this, the creditor can obtain a court order compelling the debtor to show up in court to explain why he hasn’t. If the debtor fails to show up for this hearing, a judge can issue a contempt of court order and a warrant for the person’s arrest.

    It’s the same process the court system uses to imprison individuals who fall behind on child support. In the mid-1990s, a hospital in Illinois started employing the tactic as well. Over the last decade, at least four people around the country have actually been arrested and at least briefly detained for their failure to pay library fines. Debtors have also been arrested and jailed in Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Washington, Florida, and New Jersey.

    While the official charge is contempt of court, judges sometimes set the bail to the exact amount the debtor owes. When he pays it, it can go straight to the creditor’s coffers. At a time when the federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out big business, it’s a travesty that state and local governments are using the full force of their power to shake down private citizens on behalf of debt collectors—especially when many of those debts have been acquired for less than it costs to incarcerate a small-time deadbeat for a long afternoon, much less indefinitely.

    Source;
    http://reason.com/archives/2010/10/07/the-return-of-debtors-prison
    Reason Magazine

    *********************************
    Here's a very real example of this articles report ~



    Robert Vee Discovers that Collections Agencies Have Created a New Debtors Prison -- with Government Help


    By Cory Zurowski in Douchebags,
    Tuesday, Jul. 13 2010




    Robert Vee, a highway construction worker from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, got boned not once but twice. If it wasn't bad enough that late last winter he was tossed into a local county clink -- the result of missing a court hearing over an unpaid credit card...

    The truly below-the-belt shot came when he found out his bail was the exact amount he owed the creditor: $1,875.06. It was not coincidence.

    In various parts of the country, collections agencies -- fueled by a sideways economy and a growing industry that buys bad debt -- are hijacking law enforcement and the legal system to arrest and imprison people who have walked on unpaid bills, ranging from auto loans to credit cards to outstanding medical tolls.

    In a multiplying number of cases, judges set the debtor's at exactly what they owe the creditors. And more often than not, if friends or family do come up with the bail money, they'll likely never see it again.

    It will end up with the creditor who initiated the collection process and will ask the court for the bail amount.

    Debt collectors having law enforcement officials haul people off to jail is a disagreeable if obnoxious way of doing business. But a private company using government employees as its own collections arm feels like the stuff of Lucifer.

    Still, it is happening as more and more in an industry that believes any means available to collect is fair game.

    Being in debt hasn't been illegal in the United States for more than 100 years when debtor's prisons were scrapped. However, in modern day America, missing a court hearing over an unpaid bill allows collections agencies to bring the hammer down.

    Private firms such as Portfolio Recovery Associates and Encore Capital Group buy old debt from other companies that have thus far been stiffed: a mortgage firm, a cell phone provider, a credit card lender. They purchase them for pennies on the dollar.

    If harassing phone calls don't work, these debt buyers enlist the help of the courts. Of course, fees and interest are usually tacked on as well. The profit goal for these agencies is to reap more than 200 percent of what they originally shelled out for the tardy debt.

    When the debtor doesn't show up for a hearing called by the likes of Encore Capital, that's when law enforcement and the courts "unwittingly become a tool of the debt collectors," says a Spokane lawyer who has represented people against private debt collectors.

    Those who fail to appear in court can be held in contempt. An arrest warrant is issued if a collector so desires and the court goes along with it.

    If a debtor who's bagged on or just blatantly ignored their hearing is unfortunate enough to live in a jurisdiction that has extra law enforcement resources, they soon might find themselves in cuffs.

    "The debt collectors are abusing the system and intimidating people, " adds the Spokane attorney, "and law enforcement is going along with it."

    Oddly enough, arrested debtors aren't officially charged with a crime.

    Robert Vee eventually was released from the Hennepin County jail in downtown Minneapolis after he made a collect call to his landlord, who posted his bail for the amount he owed on his unpaid credit card.

    Despite satisfying the old tab, he is not without fret. He still has unpaid junk debt. Vee also owes $40,000 on a second mortgage.

    "The question always crosses my mind: 'Are the cops going to arrest me again?' So long as I've got unpaid bills, the threat is there."

    Source;
    http://www.truecrimereport.com/2010/07/debtor_robert_vee_bagged_on_he.php
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:29 pm

    October 10, 2010
    Hey, Small Spender
    By PAUL KRUGMAN

    Here’s the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can’t create jobs.

    Here’s what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.

    Ask yourself: What major new federal programs have started up since Mr. Obama took office? Health care reform, for the most part, hasn’t kicked in yet, so that can’t be it. So are there giant infrastructure projects under way? No. Are there huge new benefits for low-income workers or the poor? No. Where’s all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened.

    To be fair, spending on safety-net programs, mainly unemployment insurance and Medicaid, has risen — because, in case you haven’t noticed, there has been a surge in the number of Americans without jobs and badly in need of help. And there were also substantial outlays to rescue troubled financial institutions, although it appears that the government will get most of its money back. But when people denounce big government, they usually have in mind the creation of big bureaucracies and major new programs. And that just hasn’t taken place.

    Consider, in particular, one fact that might surprise you: The total number of government workers in America has been falling, not rising, under Mr. Obama. A small increase in federal employment was swamped by sharp declines at the state and local level — most notably, by layoffs of schoolteachers. Total government payrolls have fallen by more than 350,000 since January 2009.

    Now, direct employment isn’t a perfect measure of the government’s size, since the government also employs workers indirectly when it buys goods and services from the private sector. And government purchases of goods and services have gone up. But adjusted for inflation, they rose only 3 percent over the last two years — a pace slower than that of the previous two years, and slower than the economy’s normal rate of growth.

    So as I said, the big government expansion everyone talks about never happened. This fact, however, raises two questions. First, we know that Congress enacted a stimulus bill in early 2009; why didn’t that translate into a big rise in government spending? Second, if the expansion never happened, why does everyone think it did?

    Part of the answer to the first question is that the stimulus wasn’t actually all that big compared with the size of the economy. Furthermore, it wasn’t mainly focused on increasing government spending. Of the roughly $600 billion cost of the Recovery Act in 2009 and 2010, more than 40 percent came from tax cuts, while another large chunk consisted of aid to state and local governments. Only the remainder involved direct federal spending.

    And federal aid to state and local governments wasn’t enough to make up for plunging tax receipts in the face of the economic slump. So states and cities, which can’t run large deficits, were forced into drastic spending cuts, more than offsetting the modest increase at the federal level.

    The answer to the second question — why there’s a widespread perception that government spending has surged, when it hasn’t — is that there has been a disinformation campaign from the right, based on the usual combination of fact-free assertions and cooked numbers. And this campaign has been effective in part because the Obama administration hasn’t offered an effective reply.

    Actually, the administration has had a messaging problem on economic policy ever since its first months in office, when it went for a stimulus plan that many of us warned from the beginning was inadequate given the size of the economy’s troubles. You can argue that Mr. Obama got all he could — that a larger plan wouldn’t have made it through Congress (which is questionable), and that an inadequate stimulus was much better than none at all (which it was). But that’s not an argument the administration ever made. Instead, it has insisted throughout that its original plan was just right, a position that has become increasingly awkward as the recovery stalls.

    And a side consequence of this awkward positioning is that officials can’t easily offer the obvious rebuttal to claims that big spending failed to fix the economy — namely, that thanks to the inadequate scale of the Recovery Act, big spending never happened in the first place.

    But if they won’t say it, I will: if job-creating government spending has failed to bring down unemployment in the Obama era, it’s not because it doesn’t work; it’s because it wasn’t tried.

    Source;
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/opinion/11krugman.html?_r=2&hp[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:59 pm

    Here is a leverage point for change, speeding on the Green Transition.


    New discovery paves way for pollution-free electricity production
    2010-10-15 05:30:00

    Scientists have identified new properties in a material that could result in efficient and inexpensive plastic solar cells for pollution-free electricity production.

    The discovery by physicists at Rutgers University reveals that energy-carrying particles generated by packets of light can travel on the order of a thousand times farther in organic (carbon-based) semiconductors than scientists previously observed.

    This boosts scientists' hopes that solar cells based on this budding technology may one day overtake silicon solar cells in cost and performance, thereby increasing the practicality of solar-generated electricity as an alternate energy source to fossil fuels.

    "Organic semiconductors are promising for solar cells and other uses, such as video displays, because they can be fabricated in large plastic sheets," said Vitaly Podzorov, assistant professor of Physics at Rutgers.

    Podzorov and his colleagues observed that excitons - particles that form when semiconducting materials absorb photons, or light particles - can travel a thousand times farther in an extremely pure crystal organic semiconductor called rubrene. Until now, excitons were typically observed to travel less than 20 nanometers - billionths of a meter - in organic semiconductors.

    "This is the first time we observed excitons migrating a few microns," said Podzorov, noting that they measured diffusion lengths from two to eight microns, or millionths of a meter. This is similar to exciton diffusion in inorganic solar cell materials such as silicon and gallium arsenide.

    "Once the exciton diffusion distance becomes comparable to the light absorption length, you can collect most of the sunlight for energy conversion," he said.

    Excitons are particle-like entities consisting of an electron and an electron hole (a positive charge attributed to the absence of an electron). They can generate a photo-voltage when they hit a semiconductor boundary or junction, and the electrons move to one side and the holes move to the other side of the junction. If excitons diffuse only tens of nanometers, only those closest to the junctions or boundaries generate photo-voltage. This accounts for the low electrical conversion efficiencies in today's organic solar cells.

    While the extremely pure rubrene crystals fabricated by the Rutgers physicists are suitable only for laboratory research at this time, the research shows that the exciton diffusion bottleneck is not an intrinsic limitation of organic semiconductors. Continuing development could result in more efficient and manufacturable materials.

    The scientists discovered that excitons in their rubrene crystals behaved more like the excitons observed in inorganic crystals - a delocalized form known as Wannier-Mott, or WM, excitons. Scientists previously believed that only the more localized form of excitons, called Frenkel excitons, were present in organic semiconductors. WM excitons move more rapidly through crystal lattices, resulting in better opto-electronic properties.

    Podzorov noted that the research also produced a new methodology of measuring excitons based on optical spectroscopy. Since excitons are not charged, they are hard to measure using conventional methods. The researchers developed a technique called polarization resolved photocurrent spectroscopy, which dissociates excitons at the crystal's surface and reveals a large photocurrent. The technique should be applicable to other materials, Podzorov claims.

    The discovery has been posted online and slated for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Nature Materials. (ANI)

    Source;
    http://sify.com/news/new-discovery-paves-way-for-pollution-free-electricity-production-news-international-kkln4ebeigj.html
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  Carol on Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:15 pm

    If free energy were made available over half of the worlds problems would be solved. China would stay in China because they wouldn't need others resources, people wouldn't be drowning in electric and gas bills which keep going up, and jobs would be created from the new resources.


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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:29 pm

    Carol wrote:If free energy were made available over half of the worlds problems would be solved. China would stay in China because they wouldn't need others resources, people wouldn't be drowning in electric and gas bills which keep going up, and jobs would be created from the new resources.

    AGREED CAROL Double Thumbs Up
    This technology~ as well as many others being withheld~ would be the solution and begin that wonderful new trend.
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:46 pm

    If depression is a problem for you, you might consider discussing this treatment with your physicians.



    Magnets Used To Treat Patients With Severe Depression

    Released: 10/14/2010 3:45 PM EDT
    Source: Loyola University Health System

    Newswise — John O’Sullivan had struggled with bipolar depression since he was a teen. He has tried numerous types of psychotherapy and medication but nothing seemed to help for long.

    A salesman whose profession required the constant projection of a positive, upbeat image to be successful, O’Sullivan found that his condition frequently left him feeling listless and restless. He switched jobs often and had difficulties in his family life.

    “When you’re in a maniacal state with bipolar, it’s not like you’re often happy. You’re irritable and hard to live with,” said O’Sullivan, a husband and father of five. “That’s been tough on the family.”

    At age 50 and desperate, O’Sullivan was cautiously intrigued when his Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist, Dr. Murali S. Rao, told him about a new high-tech, non-invasive therapy that uses magnetic waves to treat his condition.

    “My first thought was, ‘What is this?’” said O’Sullivan, a resident of Downers Grove, Ill. “But, really, I was open-minded to it because I was desperate for anything that would work quicker and more effectively.”

    Known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), the treatment delivers a series of electrical pulses to the part of the brain associated with depression and other mood disorders. The pulses generate an electric current in the brain that stimulates neurons to increase the release of more mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

    “The electrical pulses target the nerve cells in the region of the brain called the left prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that regulates our moods,” said Rao, chairman of Loyola’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience Services.

    A study involving 301 patients that was recently published in the journal Brain Stimulation found TMS to be “an effective, long-term treatment for major depression.”

    O’Sullivan’s treatment took place over a span of about three weeks. It involved a series of sessions lasting about a half hour each, five days a week. He remained awake and alert throughout each session and no anesthesia or sedation was required.

    “The results have been what I would call surprisingly good,” O’Sullivan said. “From my experience going back to my teenage years, I’ve never been as optimistic about life as I am now after TMS. I feel like a million bucks. I feel great. It’s a pretty big change.”

    There is nothing new about the use of electricity to treat depression. For years, a treatment called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – also known as “electric shock treatment” – has been used to induce seizures in anesthetized patients for therapeutic results.

    “But since TMS uses an electrical field, not electricity like ECT, there is very little risk of a seizure from the procedure,” Rao said. “The pulses are mild and painless and patients are able to immediately return to normal activities.”

    The short-term side effects of TMS are usually minor. Some patients experience tingling in the scalp or twitching of facial muscles. Others experience a headache, which can be relieved by any over-the-counter pain-relief medication.

    “It’s not all unpleasant,” O’Sullivan said. “During treatment, I could feel a pulsing around my left eye but it wasn’t painful.”

    TMS is FDA approved and is performed on an outpatient basis in a psychiatrist’s office. Patients sit in a device that resembles a comfortable dentist chair. The chair reclines and has a padded headrest. It also has a touch-screen control panel and an electrical magnetic coil that is positioned on a precise spot on the patient’s head.

    “I’ve had tremendous results in the three weeks I was undergoing it,” O’Sullivan said. “Medication would take six to eight weeks before I knew it was working or not. The TMS results were pretty quick and pretty dramatic.”

    Source;
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/magnets-used-to-treat-patients-with-severe-depression?ret=/articles/list&category=latest&page=1&search[status]=3&search[sort]=date+desc&search[has_multimedia]=[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  Carol on Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:54 pm

    We've been using this technology for years. I'm really happy to see it more mainstream because the last thing someone needs is more chemicals in their body.


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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  Mercuriel on Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:09 pm

    As an addendum here and just an FYI to those who may not be aware of it...

    Hanging six Rare Earth Magnets at the Cardinal Points - North - South - East and West - As well as at the Top most point and Bottom most point of of Your domicile prevents Negatives from entering the enclosed / protected space (see Faraday Cage).

    This is particularly helpful when trying to prevent abductions by the Ancient Greys or other Negative Entities who may be seeking to cause one harm.

    That said - I also wear a Tesla Shield which is a combination of Magnetism and Frequency or Auric Protection and Its very effective...

    That said - I'm not trying to sell anyone on It. Its just another FYI...

    sunny


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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:27 pm

    This is wonderful news. As readers know my view is water is destiny, and the lack of potable water constitutes an almost insurmountable obstacle stopping poor indigenous cultures from rising to a higher quality of life. Please click through and look at the MIT created video.

    Researchers demonstrate portable, solar-powered water desalination system

    By Stephen C. Webster
    Saturday, October 16th, 2010

    About one in eight humans do not have access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. That's approximately 884 million people.

    The repercussion of this reality are a daily reality in developing nations: an estimated 1.4 million children perish each year due to diarrhea brought on by waterborne bacteria. In spite of breathtaking advances in human technology, over 97 percent of the world's water is still undrinkable.



    This full-scale rendering may represent the future of clean water for those who have none.

    And while salty or impure water can be cleaned through existing water desalination technologies, the facilities needed are massive and consume vast amounts of energy. It's costly, too: purifying sea water can cost "over $1,000 per acre-foot," according to the US Geological Survey. Even worse, of the roughly 12,500 desalination plants operating as of 2002, their combined total output was equal to less than 1 percent of humanity's daily water consumption.

    All of these factors combine to effectively place clean water out of reach for most of the world's poor.

    Enter the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Field and Space Robotics Laboratory, which has developed and successfully tested a portable, solar-powered water desalination system that has the potential to save millions of lives the world over.

    Under the guidance of Profs. Steven Dubowsky and Richard Wiesman, the group created a small, reverse-osmosis system that's capable of producing up to 80 gallons of clean water per day. A scaled-up version of the system could produce up to 1,000 gallons per day, according to David Gabriel, writing for the Environmental News Network.

    One of the military's C-130 cargo planes could theoretically carry up to 24 of these systems, Gabriel noted. With 24,000 gallons of clean water per day, that's enough to sustain a population of approximately 10,000.

    "The system is designed to be cost effective," he explained. "It is made from standard parts such as PVC pipe and basic electronic components. It can be assembled and operated by local people who do not need advanced technical training. The units can also operate efficiently in a wide range of weather conditions. They have built in computers with sensors that can change certain variables if it gets cloudy. For example, the computer can adjust power going to the pump or the position of the valves to ensure the system will always produce water."

    This video of the portable water desalination prototype in action was released by the MIT News Office on Oct. 14, 2010.



    (Courtesy photo: MIT.)

    Source;
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/10/researchers-create-portable-solarpowered-water-desalination-system/[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:03 pm

    This is extraordinary news. It would provide replacement employment for miners, so that the general financial health of West Virginia would actually improve, and the devastation of coal, and coal mining, would end. It will be interesting to see whether old energy attempts to take this over, or blocks it.

    EDITORIAL:
    Bonanza: Geothermal Heat in West Virginia


    By The Charleston Gazette, W.Va.


    Oct. 17--Apparently, West Virginia sits atop a potential industrial gold mine, a source of boundless free energy even greater than the state's rich coal deposits.

    It's geothermal heat -- 400-degree power seething 3 miles underground in semi-magma rock layers -- that might be tapped by deep wells for steam-turbine electricity generating plants.

    Researchers at Southern Methodist University's Geothermal Laboratory studied temperature readings from 1,400 West Virginia oil, gas and water wells. They found indications that the East Coast's strongest "hot spots" lie beneath Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Randolph and Tucker counties.

    "It appears to be hotter than other areas on the East Coast," SMU researcher Zachary Frone said. SMU estimated West Virginia's geothermal power-generation potential at 18,890 megawatts -- exceeding the 16,350 megawatts currently derived from coal, river dams and other sources.

    West Virginia University engineer Brian Anderson commented: "I actually do think it is something to be excited about. ... It's a reserve, or resource, of energy that West Virginia has that other places don't."

    Geothermal heat is the molten "hell" inside the planet that can be seen when volcanoes spill rivers of fiery lava. Part of it stems from the original formation of Earth, and part comes from radioactive decay of minerals. If this power could be utilized more fully, it would meet all human needs worldwide forever.

    "The amount of heat available from the Earth under the United States alone is enough to power the current U.S. energy demand for 10,000 years," WVU's Anderson said. "You can consider the geothermal energy source an infinite energy source."

    Reaching this free power requires drilling extra-deep wells -- costing around $10 million each -- then pouring in water to make steam. Such operations already exist in Italy, New Zealand, California, Nevada, Germany and elsewhere. A recent attempt in Switzerland triggered local earthquakes and had to be canceled.

    State Geologist Michael Hohn says the sedimentary rock of the Appalachians presumably wouldn't cause quakes of the sort suffered in Switzerland.

    Geothermal wells release some polluting gases trapped deep underground -- but only about 4 percent of the pollution freed by burning fossil fuels. Thus geothermal is considered clean "green energy." It's more reliable than wind and solar, which generate electricity only when the wind blows or the sun shines during daylight hours.

    The promise of an important new geothermal power industry in West Virginia is a bright prospect. State leaders and the Legislature should launch studies to evaluate this enticing possibility.

    Source;
    http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/4587892

    [i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:29 pm

    The Rule of Law

    I urge each of you to go to the World Justice Project website and download and read this report:

    http://www.worldjusticeproject.org/rule-of-law-index/

    STEPHAN A. SCHWARTZ, Editor - Schwartzreport

    It has always been my safe port that no matter what else happened in America I always saw the justice system as fair; perhaps you feel the same way. I mean America is the shining city on the hill, to use President Reagan's image, when it comes to Justice and the Rule of Law ... right? That's what I thought, and if you feel the same, you will be as appalled as I was when I read the just released World of Justice Project report: Rule of Law Index 2010.

    When compared to our peer group of high affluence industrialized nations -- with 1 being best and 7 being worst -- the US ranks 7th in limited government powers; 7th in Absence of corruption; 6th in clear, publicized and stable laws; 6th in order and security; 7th in fundamental rights; 3rd open government; 5th in regulatory enforcement; 7th in access to civil justice; 5th in effective criminal justice.

    To understand why I think this report is such a big deal, and not just another ideological think tank agitprop report perhaps it will help to say who funded it: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Neukom Family Foundation, the GE Foundation, The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and Lexis Nexis. I list them to make the point that this is the pinnacle of non-partisan philanthropy, not some political think tank with an agenda. We can trust the data.

    The project, involving 900 researchers from 35 countries, who have polled 35,000 individuals, in addition to searching each nation's records, presents itself in this way:

    'Establishing the rule of law is fundamental to achieving communities of opportunity and equity-communities that offer sustainable economic development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights…. The rule of law is the cornerstone to improving public health, safeguarding participation, ensuring security, and fighting poverty.”

    When the World Justice Project talks about the rule of law they spell out very carefully what they mean. They refer to 'a rules-based system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

    • The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law;
    • The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and fair, and protect fundamental rights,
    including the security of persons and property;
    • The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient;
    • Access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives, and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

    With this as the basis for its analysis the Rule of Law Index then lists what it calls the 10 'factors” which break down further into 49 'subfactors.” These descriptors are the basis upon which the Rule of Law Index evaluates a nation's justice under the rule of law. The outcome of this exercise is a quite extraordinary assessment 'of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law-- not in theory but in practice. (emphasis added).” Here are the 10 factors; they all sound very 'American.”

    • Factor One - Limited government powers
    • Factor Two - Absence of corruption
    • Factor Three - Clear, publicized and stable laws
    • Factor Four - Order and security
    • Factor Five - Fundamental rights
    • Factor Six " Open government
    • Factor Seven - Regulatory enforcement
    • Factor Eight - Access to civil justice
    • Factor Nine - Effective criminal justice
    • Factor Ten - Informal justice”

    As I started reading the report I assumed that whatever other self inflicted wounds we have brought to ourselves as a nation, our justice system was still solid, and that the U.S. would rank at the top of the world's list. Surprise. The WJP groups countries by regions as well as such considerations as income level. Then evaluates them, dropping Factor 10 - Informal Justice - because it is does not involve law. Not surprisingly the U.S. is grouped with North America and Western Europe, and there are seven nations in our bloc: Austria, Canada, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and USA. These are the nations where the survey was carried out for the 2010 report, with other countries to follow in later reports.

    It is a death's head portrait of the reality that lies beneath the smug rhetoric we use to hector others about justice and the rule of law. I am embarrassed. We all should be. This has haunted me since I read the report. If America is not a leader in justice, what are we? Who are we? What have we become?
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  Mercuriel on Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:49 pm

    What have we become?

    Please don't take this the wrong way but by Illuminist Design - Destroyable is the answer to that question and what You see by the erosion of America as a Moral and Ethical example of how to run a Nation is on purpose...

    Hegelian Dialectic dictates that If You want to destroy something in the minds of others once and for all - Give it to Them but manipulate and control It in such a way so that eventually - They'll become disillusioned with the process and seek other avenues of redress. In this way They have the very People They're trying to control - Kill the Idea or Concept Themselves - Thinking all the while "Oh well - That didn't work" - And priming Themselves for the P - R - S Protocols soon to follow.

    P - R - S = Problem - Reaction - Solution...

    All by design My Friend - All by design...

    The American People can stop this descent but will They - And with that said - Is there even any time left to do so ?

    Harp


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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:53 pm

    Mercuriel wrote:
    What have we become?

    Please don't take this the wrong way but by Illuminist Design - Destroyable is the answer to that question and what You see by the erosion of America as a Moral and Ethical example of how to run a Nation is on purpose...

    Hegelian Dialectic dictates that If You want to destroy something in the minds of others once and for all - Give it to Them but manipulate and control It in such a way so that eventually - They'll become disillusioned with the process and seek other avenues of redress. In this way They have the very People They're trying to control - Kill the Idea or Concept Themselves - Thinking all the while "Oh well - That didn't work" - And priming Themselves for the P - R - S Protocols soon to follow.

    P - R - S = Problem - Reaction - Solution...

    All by design My Friend - All by design...

    The American People can stop this descent but will They - And with that said - Is there even any time left to do so ?

    Harp

    Oddly enough Mercuriel ~ this year i have traveled from the east to the west (currently in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon), and i don't think anyone really cares anymore about this country's government or laws scratch Most are either obilous or indifferent to the current TPTB!
    Must be all those photons bombarding us Hypnotize
    The U.S. > unlike many nations on this planet have lots of resources > water, land > food etc... The people out here in the Northwest are quite resilient and most seem to be just waiting for it all to crash!! Hopefully soon~ then we all can truly begin anew!!

    And thank you~ for the Happy Birthday wishes cheers
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:36 pm

    Huh ?

    Water on the Moon: a Billion Gallons !

    Scientists Say LCROSS Moon Mission Found Enough Ice in Crater to Fill 1,500 Olympic Pools

    Water on the moon? Scientists used to think it was as dry as, well, lunar dust.

    But after a year of analysis NASA today announced that its LCROSS lunar-impact probe mission found up to a billion gallons of water ice in the floor of a permanently-shadowed crater near the moon's south pole.

    That's enough, said researchers, to fill 1,500 Olympic-size swimming pools, all from one crater.

    If there is ice there, it probably exists in other places on the moon as well. They also found silver, mercury, carbon monoxide and ammonia.

    LCROSS was an empty rocket stage that was deliberately crashed into the moon last year, while a small satellite trailing it took chemical measurements of what it kicked up. Its target, a crater called Cabeus, was chosen because it is so deep that sunlight never reaches the bottom -- and any ice there, mixed in the soil, would never have a chance to vaporize. The ice might have remained frozen there for billions of years.

    "To our surprise, some of the permanently shadowed regions had no water, but some of the areas that receive sunlight occasionally did have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, a member of the research team.

    The LCROSS researchers had already announced preliminary findings last November -- about a third less water than they reported today -- and refined their numbers in the months since. Their conclusions appear today in the journal Science.

    Finding large amounts of water on the moon could be important, not just for science, but for future exploration by astronauts. Water, essential for human survival, would be heavy and expensive for spacecraft to bring from earth. But if astronauts land near ice deposits, as NASA has long hoped, they could, in effect, live off the land.

    The ice could be melted and purified for drinking and cooling of spacecraft systems -- and beyond that, it could also be broken down into its components, hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen could be used as rocket fuel; oxygen could be used for breathing.

    "This place looks like it's a treasure chest of elements, of compounds that have been released all over the moon and they've been put in this bucket in the permanent shadows," said planetary geologist Peter Schultz of Brown University in Rhode Island in a statement.

    How much water did they actually find? The researchers said the satellite measured about 41 gallons in the debris from the 60-foot crater gouged out by the crashing rocket. Since the ice was mixed in with rock and dust, its chemical signature -- H2O -- was mixed in with the myriad minerals to be found in lunar soil.

    Some of those other minerals were less than welcome to the researchers. Mercury, in particular, is toxic, so the idea of astronauts simply melting the ice for personal use becomes more complicated. And the scientists said not to get excited about the silver they found; it's hardly enough to be worth mining.

    There is no saying whether astronauts will get to use that ice any time soon. The Obama administration early this year canceled the Constellation project, which had been proposed by President George W. Bush, to return astronauts to the moon and eventually send them on to Mars. They will still go to Mars, someday, but the moon plans, when given another look, appeared unaffordable.

    But scientists' image of the moon has changed since the Apollo astronauts came home. Anthony Colaprete, the chief mission scientist, said Cabeus crater was like an "oasis in a lunar desert."

    video-clip
    and
    source page here;
    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/water-moon-nasa-impact-probe/story?id=11939079&page=1
    avatar
    giovonni

    Posts : 2358
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:52 pm

    Huh ?

    In very short order it will soon be accurate to say Americans are minority owners of America.



    From the Rolling Stone Magazine's
    Exclusive Excerpt: America on Sale, From Matt Taibbi's 'Griftopia'





    Our cash-strapped country is auctioning off its highways, ports and even parking meters, finding eager buyers in the Middle East.

    By Matt Taibbi
    Oct 18, 2010 1:30 PM EDT

    Matt Taibbi's unsparing and authoritative reporting on the financial crisis has produced a series of memorable Rolling Stone features. He showed us how Goldman Sachs, that "great vampire squid", played a central role in creating not only the housing bubble but four other big speculative booms that filled its coffers while wrecking the American economy. He explained how Wall Street banks cooked up schemes that helped decimate municipal budgets and cost countless jobs, and how Wall Street lobbying led to a financial reform bill that won't prevent another meltdown. Taibbi builds on that eye-opening work in his new book,


    Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That is Breaking America, due out from Spiegel & Grau on November 2. In this exclusive excerpt, he describes how our cash-strapped country is auctioning off its highways, ports and even parking meters at fire sale prices — and finding eager buyers in the unregulated sovereign wealth funds of oil-rich Middle Eastern countries.

    In the summer of 2009 I got a call from an acquaintance who worked in the Middle East. He was a young American who worked for something called a sovereign wealth fund, a giant state-owned pile of money that swims around the world in search of things to buy.

    Sovereign wealth funds, or SWFs, are huge in the Middle East. Most of the bigger oil-producing states have massive SWFs that act as cash repositories (with holdings often kept in dollars) for the revenues generated by, for instance, state-owned oil companies. Unlike the central banks of most Western countries, whose main function is to accumulate reserves in an attempt to stabilize the domestic currency, most SWFs have a mission to invest aggressively and generate huge long-term returns. Imagine the biggest and most aggressive hedge fund on Wall Street, then imagine that that same fund is fifty or sixty times bigger and outside the reach of the SEC or any other major regulatory authority, and you've got a pretty good idea of what an SWF is.

    My buddy was a young guy who'd come up working on the derivatives desk of one of the more dastardly American investment banks. After a few years of that he decided to take a step up morally and flee to the Middle East to go to work advising a bunch of sheiks on how to spend their oil billions.

    Aside from the hot weather, it wasn't such a bad gig. But on one of his trips home, we met in a restaurant and he mentioned that the work had gotten a little, well, weird.

    "I was in a meeting where a bunch of American investment bankers were trying to sell us the Pennsylvania Turnpike," he said. "They even had a slide show. They were showing these Arabs what a nice highway we had for sale, what the toll booths looked like . . ."

    I dropped my fork. "The Pennsylvania Turnpike is for sale?"

    He nodded. "Yeah," he said. "We didn't do the deal, though. But, you know, there are some other deals that have gotten done. Or didn't you know about this?"

    As it turns out, the Pennsylvania Turnpike deal almost went through, only to be killed by the state legislature, but there were others just like it that did go through, most notably the sale of all the parking meters in Chicago to a consortium that included the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, from the United Arab Emirates.

    There were others: A toll highway in Indiana. The Chicago Skyway. A stretch of highway in Florida. Parking meters in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and other cities. A port in Virginia. And a whole bevy of Californian public infrastructure projects, all either already leased or set to be leased for fifty or seventy-five years or more in exchange for one-off lump sum payments of a few billion bucks at best, usually just to help patch a hole or two in a single budget year.

    America is quite literally for sale, at rock-bottom prices, and the buyers increasingly are the very people who scored big in the oil bubble. Thanks to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and the other investment banks that artificially jacked up the price of gasoline over the course of the last decade, Americans delivered a lot of their excess cash into the coffers of sovereign wealth funds like the Qatar Investment Authority, the Libyan Investment Authority, Saudi Arabia's SAMA Foreign Holdings, and the UAE's Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

    Here's yet another diabolic cycle for ordinary Americans, engineered by the grifter class. A Pennsylvanian like Robert Lukens sees his business decline thanks to soaring oil prices that have been jacked up by a handful of banks that paid off a few politicians to hand them the right to manipulate the market. Lukens has no say in this; he pays what he has to pay. Some of that money of his goes into the pockets of the banks that disenfranchise him politically, and the rest of it goes increasingly into the pockets of Middle Eastern oil companies. And since he's making less money now, Lukens is paying less in taxes to the state of Pennsylvania, leaving the state in a budget shortfall. Next thing you know, Governor Ed Rendell is traveling to the Middle East, trying to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the same oil states who've been pocketing Bob Lukens's gas dollars. It's an almost frictionless machine for stripping wealth out of the heart of the country, one that perfectly encapsulates where we are as a nation.

    note > to continue reading excerpt from page 2-5
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/222206?RS_show_page=1#


    Source;
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/222206?RS_show_page=0#


    avatar
    giovonni

    Posts : 2358
    Join date : 2010-04-10
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:46 pm

    The richest country in the world, spending hundreds of billions on wars, and one out of eight Americans are on food assistance. Can the craziness of our priorities get any starker?


    Food Stamp Usage Soars Among Working Families




    MARK NIESSE | 10/22/10 04:45 PM | AP

    HONOLULU — Lillie Gonzales does whatever it takes to provide for three ravenous sons who live under her roof. She grows her own vegetables at home on Kauai, runs her own small business and like a record 42 million other Americans, she relies on food stamps.

    Gonzales and her husband consistently qualify for food stamps now that Hawaii and other states are quietly expanding eligibility and offering the benefit to more working, moderate income families.

    Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reviewed by The Associated Press shows that 30 states have adopted rules making it easier to qualify for food stamps since 2007. In all, 38 states have loosened eligibility standards.

    Hawaii has gone farther than most, allowing a family like Gonzales' to earn up to $59,328 and still get food stamps.

    Prior to an Oct. 1 increase, the income eligibility limit for a Hawaii family of five was $38,568 a year.

    "If I didn't have food stamps, I would be buying white rice and Spam every day," said Gonzales, whose Island Angels business makes Hawaiian-style fabric angel ornaments, quilts, aprons and purses.

    Eligibility for food stamps varies from state to state, with the 11 most generous states allowing families to apply if their gross income is less than double the federal poverty line of $22,050 for a family of four on the U.S. mainland. The threshold is higher in Alaska and Hawaii.

    With more than 1 in 8 Americans now on food stamps, participation in the program has jumped about 70 percent from 26 million in May 2007, while the nation's unemployment rate rose from 4.3 percent to 9.2 percent through September of this year.

    "We've seen a huge increase in participation due to the economic downturn," said Jean Daniel, a spokeswoman for the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. "That's the way this program was designed."

    In addition to helping alleviate economic pressures, many states embrace the popularity of food stamps because their cost – $50 billion last year – is paid entirely by the federal government. States are only responsible for paying half of their programs' administrative costs.

    Food stamps have been blasted by some Republicans in this midterm election season as just another federal entitlement program, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich framing the vote as a choice between "the party of food stamps" and Republican policies that create jobs.

    Participants in the food stamp program, technically called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, receive a per person average of $133 per month to buy staples including milk, bread and vegetables.

    Shortly after Hawaii announced it was raising its eligibility limits starting this month, three carloads of 10 seniors drove to the Kauai Independent Food Bank to ask if they qualified. Nine of them did, said Judy Lenthall, executive director for the food bank, which helps people apply for food stamps.

    "We saw an immediate and overwhelmingly wonderful response," Lenthall said. "It surprised us how fast it's spreading."

    States that have relaxed food stamp eligibility did so by moving to a system where applicants could qualify based on their income, and their other assets such as real estate, vehicles and savings accounts could be ignored.

    Basing food stamps on income alone allows the newly unemployed and the elderly to seek government food aid without having to first sell their property or exhaust every dollar they've earned, said Sue McGinn, director of the food stamp program in Colorado, which will expand eligibility beginning in March.

    "They won't have to wipe out their savings to apply for benefits," McGinn said.

    Many of these states also raised income limits, although applicants still have to show they're essentially living at the poverty line after accounting for allowable deductions, including elder medical expenses and child support.

    "It helps moderate and low-income people who are struggling," said Stacy Dean of the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "They're doing everything we want: they're working, paying all their bills, taking care of their kids, and they still don't have enough money at the end of the month to put food on the table."

    Since 2000, the only states that haven't enacted the lower food stamp eligibility requirements are Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

    In Hawaii, where everything from milk to gasoline is typically the highest in the nation, the changes are welcomed by Gonzales and others.

    "As long as my kids have good food, that's all I care about," Gonzales said. "It makes a tremendous difference."

    Source;
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/22/food-stamp-usage-soars-am_n_772287.html


    If you, or someone you know needs help with food: Food and Nutrition Service: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/[i]

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