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    Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

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    Carol
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  Carol on Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:05 pm

    And to think they spend over 200 billion on political adds for the upcoming elections. Disgusting waste of money.


    _________________
    What is life?
    It is the flash of a firefly in the night, the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

    With deepest respect ~ Aloha & Mahalo, Carol
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sun Oct 24, 2010 7:39 pm

    Carol wrote:And to think they spend over 200 billion on political adds for the upcoming elections. Disgusting waste of money.

    Wow Carol Shocked you read my mind !!

    i do wonder scratch how much longer the political elite believe they can continue to operate and spend through this false reality vaccumn ??
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    devakas

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  devakas on Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:13 am

    Thanks giovonni! Interesting articles! Flowers

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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:43 pm

    When I wrote my first book in 1976, I lived in Arizona in Flagstaff, where I co-directed a remote viewing archaeological site, and in Tucson. Through an encounter on a mountain I was given access into the Hopi culture, and through another connection, the Navajo. I learned many things but what particularly impacted me was the realization that when the Green Transition occurred Native Americans would become genuine nations within the United States, sanctioned by ancient treaties. And that this will happen because the resources within their territories, and the territories themselves make them affluent. It started with casinos, which have always seemed to me a voluntary reparations tax. But this will be dwarfed by the income from wind and sun and the rising value of their lands.

    This story, I believe is the next step of this evolving process.



    Navajos Hope to Shift From Coal to Wind and Sun

    By MIREYA NAVARRO
    Published: October 25, 2010


    Supporters of Earl Tulley and Lynda Lovejoy at a campaign rally last month in Blue Gap, Ariz.

    BLUE GAP, Ariz. — For decades, coal has been an economic lifeline for the Navajos, even as mining and power plant emissions dulled the blue skies and sullied the waters of their sprawling reservation.

    But today there are stirrings of rebellion. Seeking to reverse years of environmental degradation and return to their traditional values, many Navajos are calling for a future built instead on solar farms, ecotourism and microbusinesses.

    “At some point we have to wean ourselves,” Earl Tulley, a Navajo housing official, said of coal as he sat on the dirt floor of his family’s hogan, a traditional circular dwelling.

    Mr. Tulley, who is running for vice president of the Navajo Nation in the Nov. 2 election, represents a growing movement among Navajos that embraces environmental healing and greater reliance on the sun and wind, abundant resources on a 17 million-acre reservation spanning Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

    “We need to look at the bigger picture of sustainable development,” said Mr. Tulley, the first environmentalist to run on a Navajo presidential ticket.

    With nearly 300,000 members, the Navajo Nation is the country’s largest tribe, according to Census Bureau estimates, and it has the biggest reservation. Coal mines and coal-fired power plants on the reservation and on lands shared with the Hopi provide about 1,500 jobs and more than a third of the tribe’s annual operating budget, the largest source of revenue after government grants and taxes.

    At the grass-roots level, the internal movement advocating a retreat from coal is both a reaction to the environmental damage and the health consequences of mining — water loss and contamination, smog and soot pollution — and a reconsideration of centuries-old tenets.

    In Navajo culture, some spiritual guides say, digging up the earth to retrieve resources like coal and uranium (which the reservation also produced until health issues led to a ban in 2005) is tantamount to cutting skin and represents a betrayal of a duty to protect the land.

    “As medicine people, we don’t extract resources,” said Anthony Lee Sr., president of the Diné Hataalii Association, a group of about 100 healers known as medicine men and women.

    But the shift is also prompted by economic realities. Tribal leaders say the Navajo Nation’s income from coal has dwindled 15 percent to 20 percent in recent years as federal and state pollution regulations have imposed costly restrictions and lessened the demand for mining.

    Two coal mines on the reservation have shut down in the last five years. One of them, the Black Mesa mine, ceased operations because the owners of the power plant it fed in Laughlin, Nev., chose to close the plant in 2005 rather than spend $1.2 billion on retrofitting it to meet pollution controls required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Early this month, the E.P.A. signaled that it would require an Arizona utility to install $717 million in emission controls at another site on the reservation, the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico, describing it as the highest emitter of nitrous oxide of any power plant in the nation. It is also weighing costly new rules for the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona.

    And states that rely on Navajo coal, like California, are increasingly imposing greenhouse gas emissions standards and requiring renewable energy purchases, banning or restricting the use of coal for electricity.

    So even as they seek higher royalties and new markets for their vast coal reserves, tribal officials say they are working to draft the tribe’s first comprehensive energy policy and are gradually turning to casinos, renewable energy projects and other sources for income.

    This year the tribal government approved a wind farm to be built west of Flagstaff, Ariz., to power up to 20,000 homes in the region. Last year, the tribal legislative council also created a Navajo Green Economy Commission to promote environmentally friendly jobs and businesses.

    “We need to create our own businesses and control our destiny,” said Ben Shelly, the Navajo Nation vice president, who is now running for president against Lynda Lovejoy, a state senator in New Mexico and Mr. Tulley’s running mate.

    That message is gaining traction among Navajos who have reaped few benefits from coal or who feel that their health has suffered because of it.

    Curtis Yazzie, 43, for example, lives in northeastern Arizona without running water or electricity in a log cabin just a stone’s throw from the Kayenta mine.

    Tribal officials, who say some families live so remotely that it would cost too much to run power lines to their homes, have begun bringing hybrid solar and wind power to some of the estimated 18,000 homes on the reservation without electricity. But Mr. Yazzie says that air and water pollution, not electricity, are his first concerns.

    “Quite a few of my relatives have made a good living working for the coal mine, but a lot of them are beginning to have health problems,” he said. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect me.”

    One of those relatives is Daniel Benally, 73, who says he lives with shortness of breath after working for the Black Mesa mine in the same area for 35 years as a heavy equipment operator. Coal provided for his family, including 15 children from two marriages, but he said he now believed that the job was not worth the health and environmental problems.

    “There’s no equity between benefit and damage,” he said in Navajo through a translator.

    About 600 mine, pipeline and power plant jobs were affected when the Mohave Generating Station in Nevada and Peabody’s Black Mesa mine shut down.

    But that also meant that Peabody stopped drawing water from the local aquifer for the coal slurry carried by an underground pipeline to the power plant — a victory for Navajo and national environmental groups active in the area, like the Sierra Club.

    Studies have shown serious declines in the water levels of the Navajo aquifer after decades of massive pumping for coal slurry operations. And the E.P.A. has singled out the Four Corners Power Plant and the Navajo Generating Station as two of the largest air polluters in the country, affecting visibility in 27 of the area’s “most pristine and precious natural areas,” including the Grand Canyon.

    The regional E.P.A. director, Jared Blumenfeld, said the plants were the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 emitters of nitrogen oxides, which form fine particulates resulting in cases of asthma attacks, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature deaths.

    Environmentalists are now advocating for a more diversified Navajo economy and trying to push power plants to invest in wind and solar projects.

    “It’s a new day for the Navajo people,” said Lori Goodman, an official with Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, a group founded 22 years ago by Mr. Tulley. “We can’t be trashing the land anymore.”

    Both presidential candidates in the Navajo election have made the pursuit of cleaner energy a campaign theme, but significant hurdles remain, including that Indian tribes, as sovereign entities, are not eligible for tax credits that help finance renewable energy projects elsewhere.

    And replacing coal revenue would not be easy. The mining jobs that remain, which pay union wages, are still precious on a reservation where unemployment is estimated at 50 percent to 60 percent.

    “Mining on Black Mesa,” Peabody officials said in a statement, “has generated $12 billion in direct and implied economic benefits over the past 40 years, created thousands of jobs, sent thousands of students to college and restored lands to a condition that is as much as 20 times more productive than native range.”

    They added, “Renewables won’t come close to matching the scale of these benefits.”

    But many Navajos see the waning of coal as inevitable and are already looking ahead. Some residents and communities are joining together or pairing with outside companies to pursue small-scale renewable energy projects on their own.

    Wahleah Johns, a member of the new Navajo Green Economy Commission, is studying the feasibility of a small solar project on reclaimed mining lands with two associates. In the meantime, she uses solar panels as a consciousness-raising tool.

    “How can we utilize reclamation lands?” she said to Mr. Yazzie during a recent visit as they held their young daughters in his living room. “Maybe we can use them for solar panels to generate electricity for Los Angeles, to transform something that’s been devastating for our land and water into something that can generate revenue for your family, for your kids.”

    Mr. Yazzie, who lives with his wife, three children and two brothers, said he liked the idea. “Once Peabody takes all the coal out, it’ll be gone,” he said. “Solar would be long-term. Solar and wind, we don’t have a problem with. It’s pretty windy out here.”

    Source;
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/science/earth/26navajo.html?_r=3&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all[i]
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:10 pm

    The obscenity of this makes me have to get up and walk around. Mad 3
    A small group of contractors are making so much money it seems like a novel. And they are doing so under conditions of drunken looseness. It is so over the top that they don't even know where it went. Or who ended up with it. Billions. Meanwhile one in eight Americans are on some kind of food assistance.

    US not tracking spending on Afghan projects, audit says


    Billions have been spent on contractors in Afghanistan, but US records are poor

    The US government has spent about $55bn on rebuilding in Afghanistan since 2001 but cannot easily show how the money was spent, a government watchdog says.

    The special inspector general's office for Afghanistan reconstruction talked of a "confusing labyrinth" of spending.

    It said some 7,000 contractors received $17.7bn from 2007-09 but data prior to 2007 was too poor to be analysed.

    It is the first comprehensive audit of US spending in Afghanistan since US-led troops ousted the Taliban in 2001.

    According to the report, US government agencies are not tracking Afghan contracts in a shared database and cannot easily show where the money went.

    The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says record-keeping has been so poor that most of the money has not been properly recorded.

    The Pentagon, state department and USAID "are unable to readily report on how much money they spend on contracting for reconstruction activities in Afghanistan", said the report from the special inspector general's office, which was set up by Congress.

    It was also not clear who had received money disbursed by the three agencies, which are the biggest US spenders on Afghan reconstruction.

    'Oversight impossible'

    Pentagon contracts worth $11.5bn for construction, supplies and logistics in Afghanistan went to more than 6,615 contractors between 2007 and 2009, the audit found. Half of that money went to just 41 contractors.

    USAID spent $3.8bn during that time and the state department $2.4bn.

    "The audit shows that navigating the confusing labyrinth of government contracting is difficult, at best," according to the watchdog.

    It said there had been little co-ordination within and between US government agencies. The three agencies mentioned above, for example, do not separate their spending in Afghanistan from other US-funded projects around the world.

    "If we don't even know who we're giving money to, it is nearly impossible to conduct systemwide oversight," the inspector general, Arnold Fields, said.

    US special envoy Richard Holbrooke has voiced similar concerns in the past, talking of an "ununified" effort by the US, the UN and hundreds of other countries and aid agencies in Afghanistan.

    According to the inspector general's audit, the largest contract between 2007 and 2009 was with US company DynCorp. It received about $1.8bn for police training and counter-narcotics work in Afghanistan.

    A Kabul construction company received nearly $700m to build offices and barracks.

    In a separate report, the inspector general found that six buildings constructed for the Afghan national police - which cost the US taxpayer $5.5m - were unusable.

    The quality of construction was so bad that the sites in Helmand and Kandahar could collapse in an earthquake, it reported.


    Much of Afghanistan remains to be rebuilt after years of war

    Source;
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11641964 [i]
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:56 pm

    Is the American Dream Over?
    i tend to believe (we) Americans are at a crossroads~ Yes~ the United States, is deservedly taking its hits right now, but i truly believe a new day and beginning is unfolding <> with new and wonderful opportunities for (us and) the entire world to share equally in creating.
    giovonni






    the following article is long, but worth the read for any serious lightworker too ponder upon.

    from Stephan A. Schwartz
    "Here is a good first approximation at history beyond immediate journalism, by rational analysts who are not American, and not caught up in our passions. I agree with a great deal of this. We have to radically restructure our society to recreate a healthy middle class."


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


    A Superpower in Decline
    Is the American Dream Over?

    Der Spiegel (Germany)

    11/01/2010 05:12 PM


    America has long been a country of limitless possibility. But the dream has now become a nightmare for many. The US is now realizing just how fragile its success has become -- and how bitter its reality. Should the superpower not find a way out of crisis, it could spell trouble ahead for the global economy. By SPIEGEL Staff

    It was to be the kind of place where dozens of American dreams would be fulfilled -- here on Apple Blossom Drive, a cul-de-sac under the azure-blue skies of southwest Florida, where the climate is mild and therapeutic for people with arthritis and rheumatism. Everything is ready. The driveways lined with cast-iron lanterns are finished, the artificial streams and ponds are filled with water, and all the underground cables have been installed. This street in Florida was to be just one small part of America's greater identity -- a place where individual dreams were to become part of the great American story.

    But a few things are missing. People, for one. And houses, too. The drawings are all ready, but the foundations for the houses haven't even been poured yet.

    Apple Blossom Drive, on the outskirts of Fort Myers, Florida, is a road to nowhere. The retirees, all the dreamers who wanted to claim their slice of the American dream in return for all the years they had worked in a Michigan factory or a New York City office, won't be coming. Not to Apple Blossom Drive and not to any of the other deserted streets which, with their pretty names and neat landscaping, were supposed to herald freedom and prosperity as the ultimate destination of the American journey, and now exude the same feeling of sadness as the industrial ruins of Detroit.

    Florida was the finale of the American dream, a promise, a symbol, an American heaven on earth, because Florida held out the prospect of spending 10, perhaps 20 and hopefully 30 years living in one's own house. For decades, anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 people moved to the state each year. The population grew and grew -- and so too did real estate prices and the assets of those who were already there and wanted bigger houses and even bigger dreams. Florida was a seemingly never-ending boom machine.

    Could the Dream Be Over?

    Until it all ended. Now people are leaving the state. Florida's population decreased by 58,000 in 2009. Some members of the same American middle class who had once planned to spend their golden years lying under palm trees are now lined up in front of soup kitchens. In Lee County on Florida's southwest coast, 80,000 people need government food stamps to make ends meet -- four times as many as in 2006. Unemployment figures are sharply on the rise in the state, which has now come to symbolize the decline of the America Dream, or perhaps even its total failure, its naïveté. Could the dream, in fact, be over?

    Americans have lived beyond their means for decades. It was a culture long defined by a mantra of entitlement, one that promised opportunities for all while ignoring the risks. Relentless and seemingly unstoppable upward mobility was the secular religion of the United States. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, established the so-called ownership society, while Congress and the White House helped free it of the constraints of laws and regulations.

    The dream was the country's driving force. It made Florida, Hollywood and the riches of Goldman Sachs possible, and it attracted millions of immigrants. Now, however, Americans are discovering that there are many directions that life can take, and at least one of them points downward. The conviction that stocks have always made everyone richer has become as much of a chimera in the United States as the belief that everyone has the right to own his own home, and then a bigger home, a second car and maybe even a yacht. But at some point, everything comes to an end.

    The United States is a confused and fearful country in 2010. American companies are still world-class, but today Apple and Coca-Cola, Google and Microsoft are investing in Asia, where labor is cheap and markets are growing, and hardly at all in the United States. Some 47 percent of Americans don't believe that the America Dream is still realistic.

    Loud and Distressed

    The Desperate States of America are loud and distressed. The country has always been a little paranoid, but now it's also despondent, hopeless and pessimistic. Americans have always believed in the country's capacity for regeneration, that a new awakening is possible at any time. Now, 63 percent of Americans don't believe that they will be able to maintain their current standard of living.

    And if America is indeed on the downward slope, it will have consequences for the global economy and the political world order.

    The fall of America doesn't have to be a complete collapse -- it is, after all, a country that has managed to reinvent itself many times before. But today it's no longer certain -- or even likely -- that everything will turn out fine in the end. The United States of 2010 is dysfunctional, but in new ways. The entire interplay of taxes and investments is out of joint because a 16,000-page tax code allows for far too many loopholes and because solidarity is no longer part of the way Americans think. The political system, plagued by lobbyism and stark hatred, is incapable of reaching consistent or even quick decisions.

    The country is reacting strangely irrationally to the loss of its importance -- it is a reaction characterized primarily by rage. Significant portions of America simply want to return to a supposedly idyllic past. They devote almost no effort to reflection, and they condemn cleverness and intellect as elitist and un-American, as if people who hunt bears could seriously be expected to lead a world power. Demagogues stir up hatred and rage on television stations like Fox News. These parts of America, majorities in many states, ignorant of globalization and the international labor market, can do nothing but shout. They hate everything that is new and foreign to them.

    But will the US wake up? Or is it already much too late?

    YESTERDAY: AMERICA'S FALL

    The sociologist Robert Putnam hems and haws, not wanting to be the kind of professor who drops names to make himself seem more important. But the issue is much too important for him to resist. "I have had the chance to discuss income inequality with George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and I can assure you both were worried about the trend," he says. "It was possible to have an adult conversation with them on this topic."

    Putnam, a Harvard professor who sports an enormous beard, sounds pleased, as if this were an exception. He is a surveyor of the American psyche. A few years ago, he caused a stir with his book "Bowling Alone," in which he argued that more and more Americans are bowling alone -- and not in a bowling club -- because the average American hardly even speaks to other Americans anymore, and certainly not with those who hold views different from his own.

    Now Putnam is worried about economic imbalances and new disparities within society. Today an American CEO earns about 300 times as much as an ordinary worker. In 1950, that number was only 30. The consequence is "social segregation," says Putnam, by which he means that people go to different schools and parties and live in different neighborhoods, and that there is no longer any overlap between groups.

    "The fundamental bargain, the core of America, has always been that we can live with big gaps between rich and poor as long as there is also equality of opportunity," Putnam says. "If that is no longer true, then the core bargain is being violated."

    The Ownership Fetish
    Nothing symbolizes America's dream more than ownership, that fetish that politicians, culture and the media have glorified and inflated since the beginning of the 20th century. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that a country of homeowners would be "invincible." "Owning a home lies at the heart of the American dream," former President George W. Bush said. And former President Bill Clinton said that one of the most important goals of his presidency was to create 8 million new homeowners.

    In the 1960s, two-thirds of Americans already owned a home. The goal was to increase that percentage. The industry and banks played along, because the government encouraged home buying with subsidies and tax benefits worth about $100 billion (€72 billion) a year. Developers dreamed up entire neighborhoods in places with mild climates, like California and, most of all, Florida. There used to be 15,000 houses in Lehigh Acres, the Fort Myers suburb. By 2007, that number had jumped to 28,000.

    "It was crazy," says Axel Jakobeit, a German by birth and American by choice, a real estate agent and investor in southwest Florida. Everyone was speculating in real estate, including secretaries, office workers and people who, as Jakobeit says, made $50,000 a year and were periodically up to $1 million in debt, because they were buying and selling multiple houses at the same time. When things were going well, that is. But, as always, things went well until they didn't.

    Since prices have dropped, 11 million homeowners in the United States owe the banks more than their properties are worth. Houses are on the market for $80,000 that were built for $120,000 two years ago and have never been occupied. The unemployment rate is at 12 percent in Florida. Many people are leaving, running away and leaving everything behind, not just their dreams, but also their furniture, their keys and, most of all, their debt. Others are taking everything with them, from toilets to copper cable.

    Americans Are Not Careful

    "I had hoped that the Americans would change their way of thinking, that they would take responsibility and only spend as much as they made," says Jakobeit. But Americans aren't like that. Americans are not careful.

    The political leadership, says Raghuram Rajan, deliberately made sure that people at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale were provided with low-interest mortgage loans, so that they would forget that their incomes were stagnating. "It was easy for people to get credit, and when home prices went up they felt rich, borrowed more money and spent it," says Rajan, who teaches at the University of Chicago. It's the old concept of bread and circuses. According to Rajan, this approach was easier for the people in power, on both the right and the left, than investing in education or health care.

    But there are pain thresholds in every country, including one for debt. According to economists, that threshold is at 90 percent in the United States. When government debt reaches 90 percent of the gross domestic product, the country begins to feel sick. People lost confidence in a better future, investors stop investing, consumers stop buying and the economy stops growing. America reached its pain threshold in the second quarter of this year. Alan Greenspan, once the cheerleader of a society that lived beyond its means, is now urging the US to cut back on borrowing.

    Greenspan was the first pop star of the economy, the face of what was then a new era, one in which the economy was shaking off government regulation and corporations no longer saw the state as a partner, but as an adversary. It was the phase of constant tax cuts, the stock market boom and the New Economy, a time economic liberals saw as an era of liberation. While Greenspan was in office, from 1987 to 2006, America experienced the biggest boom in its history and, at the same time, the economic, political and social triumph over the socialist model. US GDP doubled during that time. The only problem was that it wasn't real or robust, and that it was fueled by too much pretense and naïve hope of never-ending growth.

    Weaknesses of the Old Order

    When Greenspan came to Washington in 1967, as a campaign advisor to Richard Nixon, the old order of the New Deal was still in place. The unions were powerful. Big corporations like General Motors, General Electric and ITT controlled the market. But Greenspan felt that the old order was too sedate. He placed great stock in the experiences of his friend, the Russian immigrant and philosopher Ayn Rand, who wrote about the evils of collectivist systems. "What she did...was to make me think why capitalism is not only efficient and practical, but also moral," Greenspan said. "Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should."

    Ronald Reagan was a rising regional politician in California at the time. He believed that the government was not the solution to all problems; rather that government was, in fact, the problem itself. In his biography, Reagan wrote: "People are tired of wasteful government programs and welfare chiselers, and they're angry about the constant spiral of taxes and government regulations, arrogant bureaucrats, and public officials who think all of mankind's problems can be solved by throwing the taxpayers' dollars at them."

    The beginning of the 1980s offered conservatives the opportunity to reshape the country as they saw fit. Unions were suffering from a decline in membership. Technical advances enabled companies to produce smaller quantities cost-effectively and thus gain access to markets previously dominated by major corporations. Reagan took advantage of the weaknesses of the old order to deregulate the economy.

    When air traffic controllers went on strike for higher pay, Reagan fired them and banned them from federal service for life. He also deregulated the telecommunications industry, the shipping industry, banks and commercial aviation, and he lowered the maximum tax rate from 70 to 28 percent.

    The Need for Lower Interest Rates

    The United States became a different country, a radical, free, forward-looking and bold country -- a triumphant country, or so it appeared.

    Exporters from other countries surged into the American market, first from Japan and later from China and India. The Internet became popular. The deregulation of the financial markets awakened interest in stocks as a financial investment. The retailer Wal-Mart displaced automaker General Motors as the world's largest company. In this new order, the consumer was among the winners. The investment fund was the modern advocacy group. Banks became more important, and the banking industry had managed to double its profits since the 1970s. Shortly before the crisis, almost 40 percent of American corporate profits were made in the financial sector.

    But was it healthy and sustainable?

    Fast money was too sexy. In those days, before the crisis, 40 percent of Harvard graduates were taking jobs in the financial and business sectors, earning three times as much as their fellow graduates working in other fields. Trading in financial products had become more lucrative than producing goods.

    But because this remnant of the economy still needed to be kept happy, consumers had to keep on consuming, buying bigger cars and bigger houses. Consumer spending made up more than 70 percent of total economic output. But consumers were also spending more than they made, and the savings rate was shrinking. Americans made up for their stagnating or declining earnings by borrowing money. This created a need for lower interest rates.

    America's 'Perfect Storm'
    Reagan appointed Greenspan to the position of Fed chairman, and a new era began. The digital world was designed in America, and the United States under Reagan and later under Bill Clinton saw itself as the home of fantasy and boldness. Near the end of his era, between November 2001 and November 2004, Greenspan kept interest rates below 2 percent, even though the economy was growing at a rate of 2.8 percent. As the low interest rates boosted the stock market, more people bought stocks. Their expectations of new profits drove up stock prices and consumers had more disposable income -- seemingly.

    Robert Reich has dissected the causes of the crash in his book "Aftershock," in which he analyzes an American character trait that seems oddly simplistic: If my neighbor has more, than I want more too. And I get what I want, because I'm an American.

    Reich is a tiny man. One hardly sees him when he walks into his lecture hall in Berkeley. In addition to being an academic, Reich, who served as labor secretary under Clinton, is the left conscience of the Democratic Party. The two men met on a ship bound for England, where they were both going to study. Reich became seasick and Clinton offered him some chicken soup. Later on, Clinton brought his friend Reich into the White House, but when the Democrats lost the House of Representatives in the 1994 midterm elections, Clinton, a pragmatist, moved toward the center and his friend Reich resigned. "We tried," Clinton said by way of farewell.

    For Reich, just trying isn't enough. He hates compromises, especially today, with the country being threatened by what he calls a "perfect storm." The wind is blowing from three directions. The rich keep getting richer, with the top 0.1 percent of income earners making more money than the 120 million people at the bottom of the income scale. The rich, says Reich, are trying to buy the elections. Meanwhile, the government is not helping the poor, and in fact is telling them: There's no money left for you. It is human nature to want what others have, says Reich, but the real problem is that people aren't making enough money, and that America's wealth is concentrated within the small upper class.

    An Outbreak of Nativism

    All of this is making radicals more vocal. "I think what we're seeing now in America is an outbreak of isolationism, nativism and xenophobia," Reich says, pointing toward animosity toward immigrants, accusations against China and growing skepticism of foreign trade.

    When the dotcom boom suddenly ended on the stock markets around the turn of the millennium, prices fell by 78 percent on the NASDAQ. Investors pulled their money out of stocks and invested it in real estate instead. The stock market bubble turned into the real estate bubble.

    "The US economy has been losing momentum for the last decade," says Edmund Phelps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for economics. According to Phelps, it has been increasingly clear, since the beginning of the millennium, that no new jobs are being created on balance, because the US economy has undergone structural change. Companies are dominated by investors interested only in the kinds of quick and large profits that can be achieved by reducing the workforce. Almost 6 million jobs have been eliminated since 2000. Today only 9 percent of Americans work in the manufacturing industry -- half as many as in 1985.

    "America has to change," says Obama's economic advisor Paul Volcker in New York. "I wish we had fewer financial engineers and more real engineers instead, like mechanical engineers." America, according to Volcker, must "rebuild its industrial sector." Since World War II, job growth has kept up with population growth, ranging from 10 to 20 percent per decade. The country was firmly convinced that it could continue to do so. In the last decade, the population grew by 25 million, but there were no new jobs, or at least no net job creation. But a minimum of 100,000 new jobs a month was needed just to serve those who wanted to enter the job market.

    When Greenspan cleared out his Washington office on Jan. 31, 2006, he left behind a country deeply in debt. Two wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, had already cost the country $1 trillion. The government debt continued to grow, from 57 percent of GNP in 2000 to 83 percent when Obama took office in 2009. The current national debt of $13.8 trillion amounts to 94.3 percent of GNP, and in two years it will exceed 100 percent. But what's the next threshold if the pain threshold has already been breached?

    TODAY: IN THE LAND OF RAGE

    The Petersons have two children, two cats and two cars. They were high school sweethearts. Marc Peterson has a small business that sells windows and his wife, Amie, is a nurse. They have a three-bedroom, single-story house with a garden in Cape Coral, where they have lived since 1991, when they became engaged. The Petersons are a model middle-class family, the kinds of people everyone recognizes from the colorful TV series that celebrate the American dream.

    This week, the banks will decide whether the Petersons will lose their house.

    Marc's business isn't doing well anymore. He had been selling his windows to retirees, to those whose income in large part depends on their savings and the financial markets. The business tanked after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, "like somebody flipped a light switch," says Marc, smiling uncomfortably. Now even the retirees have stopped coming to Florida.

    Can he find a different job? "There are no jobs," he says. The Petersons haven't been able to make their mortgage payments for the last 16 months.

    "It's all so frustrating," says Marc. He is referring to their imminent move, his sons' anxiety, their debt, of course, and, most of all, the realization of not having made any progress after working for 20 years. "Salaries did not rise, but the cost of living did," says Amie. "We scaled back, even our dreams. The things we hoped for will not come true."

    'How Did it Come to This?'

    The naked fear of the undertow is palpable throughout the entire country, where people who once considered themselves part of the middle class, the solid center of the country, now feel threatened. These are the people who, now that the smoke has cleared, are suddenly realizing that 30 years of economic growth, all the boom years, have virtually passed them by. In 1978, the average income for men in the United States was $45,879. In 2007, it was $45,113, adjusted for inflation. "I have been thinking a lot about this, how it came to this," Amie says.

    Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard, offers one answer. Americans have been dealing with rising basic expenses for the last two years, says Warren. At the beginning of the millennium, families were paying twice as much for health insurance than a generation before. "To make ends meet, both parents have had to go to work in millions of families," says Warren, adding that the average family has already used up its income and savings "just to stay afloat." Everything was paid for with borrowed money. Total US household debt is now approaching $14 trillion, which is 20 times as much as in the 1970s.

    The Petersons paid $69,000 for their light-brown ranch house, a few hundred meters from the ocean. Then the value of the property went up to $300,000. When Amie needed money to pay for a supplementary medical education, the couple took out a second mortgage. She says they took out less than half as much as the bank would have given them. But it was enough to bring about their financial downfall when the recession arrived.

    The Petersons are in the same boat as millions of American homeowners: Their dream has become their trap. This has consequences for the job market. In the past, 15 million Americans moved every year for job-related reasons, but people who are trapped are no longer mobile. They also stop being optimistic -- they lose precisely what was once their country's biggest strength.

    The New American Nightmare
    One Monday in September, six weeks before the mid-term elections, the CNBC television network invited President Obama to a town hall meeting with voters. One after another, members of the audience stood up to air their grievances: about the job crisis, America's crisis and the feeling of hope that the country has lost since the excitement of the 2008 presidential election.

    Velma Hart, a stout woman in her mid-40s, stepped up to the microphone. "Mr. President," she said, as her eyes teared up, "I'm a mother. I'm a wife. I'm an American veteran and I'm one of your middle-class Americans. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are."

    Hart, who is black, voted for Obama. It was an obvious choice for her at the time, and she says that has never felt closer to an American president before. She is about the same age as the president and, like Obama, she has children and a job as an executive. She works at Amvets, the American veterans association. If anyone is a natural Obama voter, it's Velma Hart.

    "The financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family," Hart said. "My husband and I have joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot-dogs-and-beans era of our lives. But, quite frankly, it is starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we are headed. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?"

    No Real Answer

    The president smiled thinly. He mentioned the "right steps" that had been taken but he had no real answer. He couldn't reassure her or even argue with her point. Her dream was his dream, he said.

    The unemployment rate in the United States is at about 10 percent. But when the people who have stopped looking for work and are not registered anywhere are included, the real number is likely to be closer to 20 percent. For the first time since the Great Depression, Americans have a problem with long-term unemployment.

    Hart's worries, in other words, have become the new American nightmare for many. In a country with a limited concept of social cohesion, laughable from a European perspective, the quiet demise could have unforeseen consequences. How strong is the cement holding together a society that manically declares any social thinking to be socialist? The US economy lost almost 100,000 jobs in September. Is this Obama's fault?

    Dinesh D'Souza, a former advisor in the White House of President Ronald Reagan who is now the president of The King's College in New York, has written a 258-page bestseller about Obama, "The Roots of Obama's Rage." The title itself ought to be a joke.

    It has been a long time since the United States has had such a levelheaded president as Obama, a man who governs so dialectically and didactically, who spends so much time listening, weighing options and calmly arriving at his decisions. The president has a lot of problems, including many inherited from his predecessor. He also has a hard time coming across as warm and empathetic. He is good at generating enthusiasm in crowds but, unlike Clinton, he is not adept at connecting to people on a more personal level. Obama feels uncomfortable when he faces someone like Velma Hart. But angry? Obama?

    Full of Hatred

    The Tea Party, that group of white, older voters who claim that they want their country back, is angry. Fox News host Glenn Beck, a recovering alcoholic who likens Obama to Adolf Hitler, is angry. Beck doesn't quite know what he wants to be -- maybe a politician, maybe president, maybe a preacher -- and he doesn't know what he wants to do, either, or least he hasn't come up with any specific ideas or plans. But he is full of hatred. And so is Dinesh D'Souza.

    Indeed, the United States of 2010 is a hate-filled country.

    D'Souza says that Obama's father was an anti-colonialist and that he dreamed of his native Kenya liberating itself from its British colonial rulers. His son Barack has the same dream, says D'Souza. He wants to put America, the neo-colonial power of the 21st century, in its place. "The most powerful country in the world is being governed according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s," D'Souza writes. "America today is governed by a ghost."

    D'Souza's book has been a huge success, reaching fourth place on the New York Times bestseller list. The Washington Post published an opinion piece by the author, Forbes had him write a cover story, and D'Souza himself thinks he knows why so many people believe that Obama was not born in the United States and is a Muslim. People can't identify with him, says D'Souza, because he doesn't believe in the American dream.

    This is the climate in the country leading up to the Congressional elections on Nov. 2. It isn't shaped by logic or an interest in rational debate. The United States of 2010 is a country that has become paralyzed and inhibited by allowing itself to be distracted by things that are, in reality, not a threat: homosexuality, Mexicans, Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, health care reform and Obama. Large segments of the country are not even talking about the issues that are serious and complex, like debt, unemployment and serious educational deficits. Is it because this is all too threatening?

    Gridlock as the American Status Quo

    It has become a country of plain solutions. People with college degrees are suspect and intelligence has become a blemish. Manfred Henningsen, a German political scientist who teaches in Honolulu, Hawaii, calls it "political and economic paralysis." One reason for the crisis, says Henningsen, is that the American dream, both individual and national, has in fact always been a fiction. "This society was never stable. It was always socially underdeveloped, and anyone who talks about the good old days today is forgetting the injustices of racist America."

    Agitators like Glenn Beck are "nationalist, racist and proto-fascist," says Henningsen. "They take advantage of the economic situation, almost the way the right-wing intelligentsia did back in the Weimar Republic."

    Gridlock has become the modern America status quo, and the condition Henningsen calls "institutional idiocy" is especially obvious in the country's most important legislative body, the Senate, which has come to resemble a royal court where nothing has happened in centuries.

    Each state elects two senators, including Wyoming, with its 540,000 inhabitants, and California, with a population of 37 million. If enough senators from states with small populations band together, they have the capacity to block everything, which is precisely what they do. And no one questions the rules, both written and unwritten. The Senate is no longer a club in which the members speak to one another. The filibuster, a way of blocking legislation through continuous debate, was the exception in the past, but today it's the rule. The Republicans have already used the filibuster to torpedo more than 100 of Obama's proposals.

    A Brighter Future?
    One feels the despondency and timidity of political America in Washington. Tim Adams is sitting in the Hotel Willard InterContinental, a stone's throw from the White House. He says that the term "lobbyist" was coined at the hotel, where supplicants used to wait in the lobby for the president. Adams, who served as undersecretary of the treasury for international affairs in the Bush administration, is now a consultant to hedge funds -- the big fish.

    Adams talks about how America lived beyond its means, how the budget has spun out of control, and how imperative it is to start thinking about a new tax system. Adams is well aware that the subject isn't popular in Washington, and certainly not in his party. Adams is a Republican. "Debates about the issues are difficult right before the elections," he says, adding that the opposition has become too accustomed to instinctively opposing every Obama proposal. "But they might not be happening for another two years. Currently, the debate on economic policy is paralyzed."

    And then he says something that could sum up the entire dilemma of the Obama presidency: "The Democrats refuse to talk about budget cuts. The Republicans refuse to discuss budget increases. So the debate has come to a standstill."

    Back in Florida, the Petersons, in their little house not far from the beach, are packing boxes and unscrewing their flat-screen TV from the wall. They've been working on a short sale -- selling the house for less than the balance on their mortgage -- for months, and the bank that holds their primary mortgage has agreed. They also have a buyer. Axel Jakobeit, the German real estate agent, brokered the deal. Now everything depends on the bank that holds the second mortgage, which will be left with nothing but its minimum share of $2,500 if the sale goes through.

    Maybe the Petersons will have to move out of their American dream tomorrow, or maybe in a week. They plan to rent in the future. "Owning a house today is not what it seemed to be," says Marc.

    TOMORROW: AMERICA'S FUTURE, THE WORLD'S FUTURE

    A creative country doesn't stop being creative because of a crisis. A society that has produced universities like Harvard, Yale, Stanford or MIT, companies like Apple and Microsoft on the West Coast, and institutions like the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and the Museum of Modern Art in New York doesn't suddenly become stultified. There are always new projects, even in the United States of 2010. There are startups, new companies and, of course, great thinkers.

    But once a decline has gotten underway, it isn't easy to change direction. Many young companies in Silicon Valley don't last very long because they are unable to secure financing or find customers. The country seems lethargic in a very un-American way -- or perhaps it's just the new American way. The demonization of political opponents, the end of debates, the condemnation of intellect -- these are all ominous signs.

    Americans are saving again, for the first time in a long time. The rate of personal saving as a percentage of disposable income, negative only a few years ago, has reached 5.8 percent. It could be a good sign, but it may also be an indication of rampant uncertainty.

    There is no easy way out of the debt crisis. Obama could raise taxes and reduce the federal budget, but according to Reagan's former budget director, David Stockman, the country has become "fiscally ungovernable." If Washington can't help America, who then can help Washington and America?

    One of the last hopes is the US Federal Reserve, the same institution that helped maneuver the United States and the global economy into the crisis in the first place. Despite the Fed already having reduced the prime rate to between 0 and 0.25 percent, the credit business still hasn't pick up. The Fed then sought to influence the markets in a different way by buying US treasury bonds and securitized mortgage loans, injecting $1.75 trillion in freshly printed cash into the market. The policy, know as quantitative easing, was met with enthusiasm on Wall Street. A second round, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, is expected to take place after the mid-term elections.

    Ineffectual Fiscal Policy

    The leaders of the international financial world have come together twice in recent weeks. Central bankers and finance ministers met in October at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, and last weekend at the summit meeting of the G-20 finance ministers in South Korea. Both times, Greenspan's successor, Ben Bernanke, used somber language to describe the economic situation and to defend his monetary policy.

    Unemployment remains stuck at record high levels, a second collapse in the real estate market is not unthinkable, and the classic tools of fiscal policy, tax cuts or economic stimulus packages, are hitting a wall, Bernanke said. The calls for structural reforms are correct, he added, but the problem is that fundamental reform takes time. In the end, the only path out of the crisis leads through monetary policy, the Fed chairman said.

    This sounds as if the United States had found a convenient way out of the debt crisis. But it's also a risky solution, both for the United States and the entire world economy. It can trigger processes that could gain momentum and spin out of control. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz warns of the consequences of a flood of liquidity. "It's doing nothing for the American economy, but it's causing chaos over the rest of the world," he says.

    More money means that the value of the dollar falls relative to other currencies. This is an advantage at first, because it makes exports cheaper and imports more expensive, making the US economy more competitive. But does US industry even make enough products anymore to allow it to increase sales to the global market? And what happens if the world loses confidence in its reserve currency and unloads its dollar reserves onto the market? The resulting dollar crash could plunge the global economy into the next abyss.

    The Next Bonanza

    More money also means more inflation, and the faster the money becomes devalued, the faster the debts are reduced. In early 2010, the IMF proposed that central banks commit themselves to a higher inflation goal of up to 4 percent.

    No one knows how the experiment will end. "We are in the drug trial phase of monetary policy," says John Makin of the American Enterprise Institute. "We have some very nice ideas, but no experience to show whether they work." Former Labor Secretary Reich doesn't even think there are any good ideas at the moment. He believes that all the cheap money will flow into the next stock market bubble, and that companies, banks and hedge funds already sense the next bonanza coming.

    Financial expert Tim Adams says that there is no alternative. "Nobody wants another stimulus package right now," he says. "It has been defined as a symbol of a state and government that overreaches. The Democrats are running away from it and the Republicans are condemning it. Everyone is talking about budget cuts now."

    This, according to Adams, only leaves Fed Chairman Bernanke with the option of cheap money, knowing all too well that it won't be met with enthusiasm from politicians abroad. "The Europeans will probably have to carry a share of the adjustment costs at first, because their euro will gain value and their exports will become more expensive," says Adams. And once inflation spreads across the entire global economy, the assets of Germans will also decline.

    The Danger of Currency Warfare
    It will also be a test for the relationship between China and the United States, which is already tense at the moment. The Chinese have pegged their currency to the dollar, which keeps the value of the yuan artificially low. This allows the Chinese to supply cheap goods to the world. Until now, the two economic powers had a pact: The United States would buy cheap products from China, while the Chinese would invest the dollars they had earned in American treasury bonds. This enabled the Americans to live beyond their means and the Chinese to keep the value of their currency artificially low.

    But even this arrangement has not fared well. The imbalance in the American balance of trade became too large, and with it grew the Chinese dollar reserves, which are now estimated at about $2 trillion. If the United States puts too much money into circulation, these reserves will be in jeopardy. Beijing, which the United States needs as a partner, fears as a rival and hates as a world power of the future, will hardly continue to keep up its end of the bargain. This is why the Americans want to see the yuan revalued and, if necessary, to impose import duties on Chinese goods, which would lead to a trade war and a worldwide recession.

    The US, of course, is right to complain that the Chinese are keeping the value of the yuan artificially low. But at the same time, the US is manipulating the valued of the dollar via monetary policy. Axel Weber, the chairman of Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, abandoned his diplomatic reserve for a moment on the sidelines of the IMF annual meeting. "Competitiveness is gained within companies, not on the foreign currency markets," he said heatedly. Exchange rates, Weber added, should "reflect a country's key economic indicators."

    It will be dangerous for Europe if the Chinese and perhaps the Japanese, as well, counter the devaluation of the dollar with the renewed devaluation of their currencies. That's when currencies become weapons. "Our currency -- your problem," the phrase then US Treasury Secretary John Connally coined in 1971, referring to dollar, is gaining a new meaning.

    Big Enough to Trigger Future Crises

    Everyone would lose a currency war, especially the Europeans. If the European Central Bank (ECB) remained neutral, the price of the euro would climb rapidly. German products would become more expensive worldwide. And if ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and his associates in Frankfurt's Eurotower jumped on the devaluation bandwagon and also catapulted their currencies onto the markets, price stability in Europe would be in jeopardy. One of the biggest losers in such an escalation would be Germany, currently the world's second-largest exporter.

    It could certainly be a comfort to the Germans that the United States is no longer so powerful that it can foist its ideas on the rest of the world. Almost 45 million Americans are considered poor, with 4 million falling below the poverty line in 2009 alone. The Department of Agriculture warns of growing "food insecurity." One fourth of all children in the United States depend on government food stamps. But the American patient certainly remains powerful enough to trigger future crises.

    One man who has disagreed with the people on Wall Street and at the Fed for years is Dov Seidman, a philosopher and management consultant from California, who moved to New York a few months ago. Seidman writes books and gives speeches, and his company, which now has 300 employees, is expanding.

    Seidman is concerned about things like ethics, sustainability and a different way of thinking in America. One could also say that Seidman is interested in a new American dream.

    Sitting in his office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Seidman says: "We'd have to be seriously worried if we, as a country, simply chose to fix and get back to the same behavior that got us into the crisis. The problem with the American dream has been during the last couple of years that people believed they deserved it, that they somehow were chosen because they were Americans. They thought you could rent or buy the dream."

    Earning the American Dream

    There are ultimately two kinds of crises, says the economic philosopher. There are what Seidman calls the "end-of-life crises," the wars and natural disaster, and then there are the "way-of-life crises." He says that the current crisis must serve to question and change our way of life.

    Seidman recalls the America of Obama's election campaign, when everything seemed possible. "I really hope that those who hate and yell are so visible only because they are louder," he says. "We would be in serious trouble if they actually are the majority."

    Seidman, for his part, dreams of an America that starts producing products that are needed, products that are competitive and create jobs because they serve a new market, such as the market for renewable energy. He also dreams of honesty and the end of greed.

    He believes that every politician and every business executive must realize by now that crises are happening with growing frequency, because each country is connected to all the other countries. "If every crisis affects everybody, shouldn't that lead to everybody being concerned about sustainability and recoverability?"

    "The American dream," Seidman says finally, "is within us. It's in our DNA, our history. With our mentality we have to get back to where we once were, after World War II: dream the dream; work for it; earn it."

    By Klaus Brinkbäumer, Marc Hujer, Peter Müller, Gregor Peter Schmitz and Thomas Schulz

    Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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    http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-61125.html

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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:57 pm

    Geoengineering is going to be one of the major conversations of this century. As it becomes clear even to the Deniers that we are moving into a potentially catastrophic era they will, consistent with their world view, look for the quick mechanical fix. In fact, I believe the solution to our problems lie is mirroring and partnering with nature wherever and whenever possible.






    Geoengineering
    Lift-off
    Research into the possibility of engineering a better climate is progressing at an impressive rate—and meeting strong opposition

    Nov 4th 2010

    AS A way of saying you’ve arrived, being the subject of some carefully contrived paragraphs in the proceedings of a United Nations conference is not as dramatic as playing Wembley or holding a million-man march. But for geoengineering, those paragraphs from the recent conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, marked a definite coming of age.

    Geoengineering is shorthand for the idea of fixing the problem of man-made climate change once the greenhouse gases that cause it have already been emitted into the atmosphere, rather than trying to stop those emissions happening in the first place. Ideas for such fixes include smogging up the air to reflect more sunlight back into space, sucking in excess carbon dioxide using plants or chemistry, and locking up the glaciers of the world’s ice caps so that they cannot fall into the ocean and cause sea levels to rise.

    Many people think such ideas immoral, or a distraction from the business of haranguing people to produce less carbon dioxide, or both—and certain to provoke unintended consequences, to boot. It was the strength of that opposition which drove the subject onto the agenda at Nagoya. But that strength is also a reflection of the fact that many scientists now take the idea of geoengineering seriously. Over the past few years research in the field has boomed. What is sometimes called Plan B seems to be taking shape on the laboratory bench—and seeking to escape outside.


    Stratospheric thinking

    The most widely discussed way of cooling the Earth is to imitate a volcano. Volcanoes inject sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, where it eventually forms small particles of sulphate that reflect sunlight back into space. Volcanoes, though, do this on a one-off basis. Geoengineers would need to leave the cloud up for a long time, which could get tricky. If you put sulphur dioxide into air that already has a haze of particles in it, the gas will glom onto those particles, making them bigger, rather than forming new small particles of its own. Since what is needed for cooling is a lot of small particles rather than a few big ones, this approach would face problems.

    David Keith, of the University of Calgary, and his colleagues recently came up with a way of keeping the particles small: use sulphuric acid rather than sulphur dioxide. Released as a vapour at high altitude it should produce a screen of properly sized particles, even in a sky that is already hazed. And the fleet of aircraft needed to keep that screen in being turns out to be surprisingly small. A study that Dr Keith commissioned from Aurora Flight Sciences, a Virginia-based company that makes high-altitude drones, concludes that it could be done by an operation smaller than an airline like Jet Blue, operating from a few bases around the world.

    That airline would, however, do best with a fleet of newly designed aircraft. The most straightforward option, according to the report, would be to develop a vehicle capable of flying at altitudes of 20-25km (about 65,000-80,000 feet), distributing ten tonnes of acid a flight. Such craft might look like slightly portly U-2 spy planes, or possibly like the White Knight mother ship developed to launch Virgin Galactic’s tourist spaceships. About 80 such planes would allow the delivery to the stratosphere of a million tonnes of acid every year at a cost of one or two billion dollars over an operational life of 20 years.



    A more intriguing idea suggested in the study would be to use a sort of hybrid plane-blimp along the lines of Lockheed’s experimental P-791 (pictured above), which generates lift through both buoyancy and aerodynamics. Lift is a problem in the rarefied air of the stratosphere, and it seems such a design can help. The study dismisses another blimpish idea, though: that of pumping sulphurous chemicals up a long pipe held aloft by a large tethered balloon. It also rejects the use of rockets and guns, both of which have also been proposed as ways of getting sulphur into the stratosphere (see chart).

    On the face of it Aurora’s study is extraordinary. Given that a few million tonnes of sulphur a year might be enough to cool the Earth by a degree or two, the report seems to confirm what Scott Barrett, a political scientist at Columbia University, has called the “incredible economics” of geoengineering. The thought that a couple of billion dollars a year spent on sulphur could offset warming as effectively as hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in low-carbon energy suggests there is a real bargain to be had here. Maybe. But opponents of the idea are inclined to insert the word “Faustian” first.


    The smog of war

    One reason for rejecting sulphate hazing out of hand might be the damage it could do to the ozone layer. Ozone-destroying reactions happen faster on surfaces, such as those provided by sulphate particles, than they do in the open air. It is therefore likely that the addition of sulphate to the stratosphere would result in a loss of ozone, and thus in more ultraviolet radiation getting through. Indeed, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 led to just such a loss, even as it cooled the climate.

    Current research suggests, though, that any risk to the ozone layer is probably not sufficient reason to abandon the idea. The Montreal protocol, which banned various ozone-depleting chemicals, has left the ozone layer’s long-term prospects looking quite bonny. Sulphate-based geoengineering would certainly slow down its recovery, but would not send it into reverse. The climatic gains might thus be worth the ultraviolet losses.

    Might. But that, too, is an area that would bear investigation. For another risk lies in the subtle distinction between “global warming” and “climate change”. Double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the average global temperature will go up. Add the right amount of stratospheric sulphur and the temperature will come back down to where it began. There will, in other words, be no net global warming. But though the average temperature is unchanged, the climate is not. Modelling suggests that a world where additional greenhouse warming has been cancelled out this way will still be warmer at the poles and cooler at the tropics. Moreover—and more worryingly—it will have less rainfall.

    Every computer model of a stratospheric haze shows some decrease in rainfall, though the details vary. The more carbon dioxide that gets put into the atmosphere and the more sunshine that is removed from the sky, the greater the drying becomes. And that drying is worse in some places than in others. One recent study, for example, suggested that engineered cooling of this sort would lead to a much bigger loss of rainfall in China than in India. That might have political ramifications—even though both countries come closer to their original climates with the other’s optimal level of geoengineering than with no geoengineering at all.

    Understanding the mechanism and implication of these effects is another crucial research step, and a difficult one to take at the moment because it is hard to assess the results from one paper on geoengineering in the light of another. That is because they all start from different assumptions, something that Alan Robock of Rutgers University hopes to overcome. Dr Robock, who carries out geoengineering research while taking an avowedly hostile approach to any suggestion of deploying the technology, has teamed up with climate modellers at other institutions to produce a set of options that could be run on a range of computer models.

    This grand intercomparison, which may involve ten or more modelling teams, should allow researchers to get a better grip on what is really happening, and to see which of their results might be dependent on the vagaries of a particular piece of software. Considering that, a few years ago, it was rare to get the computer time needed to do even a single geoengineering simulation with a state-of-the-art climate model, this investment of time and effort marks a big step forward.

    Whatever the models reveal about the pattern, impacts and nature of the loss of rainfall, it is hard to imagine that it will not be bad news of some sort. This is one of the reasons why most in the geoengineering field reject the notion that the “incredible economics” offer a real bargain. Hazy cooling and greenhouse warming cannot be traded one for the other; simply adding more and more sulphate to counterbalance more and more carbon dioxide would be dessicatory and dangerous. Cooling might take the edge off the peak of a planetary fever, or perhaps buy time as emissions cuts begin to have the desired effects. But hazing is a complementary medicine, not an alternative one.

    Screening sunlight from the sky with sulphates is not, though, the only suggestion around. Various entrepreneurial researchers are looking at ways of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stashing it out of harm’s way.


    Suck it and see

    Nature already provides one method: photosynthesis. Using political and financial tools to encourage the growth of forests, and chemical ones to encourage the growth of photosynthetic plankton, are both possibilities—though both, especially the chemical approach, have their sceptics. Planet hackers of an industrial bent, however, propose proper bent-metal engineering: so-called “direct air capture” technology that would chemically scrub carbon dioxide out of the air, then release it from those scrubbers in a concentrated form that could be sequestered underground. Various companies, including one started by Dr Keith, are trying to produce demonstrators for such technologies. One way is to use arrays of fans to pass air in large volumes through cleverly contrived surfaces along which an absorbing fluid flows.

    An alternative approach is to use the ocean as your absorber. Among those investigating this possibility is Tim Kruger, fellow and currently sole employee of the newly founded Oxford Geoengineering Programme at the eponymous university. Mr Kruger proposes dumping quicklime—calcium oxide—into the sea. That change in ocean chemistry would encourage carbon dioxide dissolved in the water to turn into ions of carbonate and bicarbonate, freeing chemical “space” into which carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could flow.

    The chemically literate will spot a potential snag. Calcium oxide is made by heating up limestone (calcium carbonate). This drives off carbon dioxide. Generating the heat is also likely to involve the release of that gas. All this carbon dioxide will have to be squirrelled away in the same way carbon dioxide scrubbed from the air (or a power station’s chimney) would. But that might not be too hard. The gas will already be concentrated and pure if the kilns work the right way.


    An airscrubber, from an artist’s imagination

    The idea of liming is a comparatively old one, first mooted by Haroon Kheshgi, a researcher at ExxonMobil, in the mid-1990s. Dr Kruger’s work, meanwhile, was recently supported by a grant from another oil company, Shell, through what it calls its GameChanger programme. Cynics may smile at the oil companies’ involvement, and at the intellectual property and plans for profit that companies trying to pull carbon out of the atmosphere all rely on. But money is needed. Shell’s money, for instance, paid for a panel of researchers to look into Mr Kruger’s plans. They concluded that if put to use they might lock up carbon dioxide for $40 a tonne—which seems almost embarrassingly cheap, and which, as a preliminary figure, Mr Kruger is keen not to hype. Dr Keith thinks his air capture might, with luck, manage $100 a tonne. People further from the technology, but with less of a direct interest in its success, think prices will be higher.

    Nor is Mr Kruger’s esprit untypical. Other fields of research are being drawn, blinking, into the light by geoengineering’s new-found popularity. “Cloud whitening” provides a nice example. Until 2006 work on the idea of cooling the planet with the help of a fine mist of sea salt sprayed into low layers of maritime cloud, to make them whiter, was the province of two semi-retired British academics. A mere four years later John Latham, the cloud physicist who thought up the idea, and Stephen Salter, a marine engineer who designed systems that might embody it, have been joined by 23 other authors from seven different institutions on a paper outlining current work on the matter. This paper looks not only at the cooling effects such a scheme might have on the climate and the practicalities of creating such a spray from boats at sea, but also at the possibilities of a field trial and what might be learned from such a trial about the way clouds work—a problem that climate scientists, limited to observations and models without the help of direct intervention, have yet to answer.

    Whitening some clouds has a certain aesthetic appeal; it is certainly hard to see as an environmental threat in itself. Perhaps the most benign-sounding idea of all, though—and one that brings a Herculean sense of effort that messing around with the air and oceans cannot match—is Slawek Tulaczyk’s nascent proposal to lock the world’s ice caps in place.

    Dr Tulaczyk, a specialist in glacial flow who works at the University of California, Santa Cruz, observes that one of the most catastrophic consequences of climate change could be a rise in sea level. The risk is not so much that the ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica will melt, but that enough meltwater will get under them to lubricate their journey from the land into the sea. At a meeting held at his university last month he outlined ideas he has been developing which might slow that process down, either by pumping the meltwater out, or by refreezing it in situ using liquid nitrogen. What makes this scheme merely ambitious, rather than totally crazy, is that you might need do it in only a few places. A large fraction of the ice coming off Greenland, for example, flows down just three glaciers. Work out how to slow or stop those glaciers and you may have dealt with a big problem.


    The Devil and the details

    Polluting the stratosphere. Liming the oceans. Locking Greenland’s glaciers to its icy mountains. It is easy to see why sceptics balk at geoengineering. And if viewed as a substitute for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, a cover for business-as-usual into the indefinite future, then it might indeed prove a Faustian bargain. But that is probably the wrong way of looking at it. Better to use it as a means of smoothing the path to a low-carbon world. Most of the researchers working in the area of stratospheric hazing, for example, think that its best use might be reducing the peak temperatures the Earth would otherwise face at a time in the future when greenhouse-gas emissions have started falling but atmospheric levels are still going up.



    To see whether any form of geoengineering could work, though, small-scale experiments need to be carried out. Fertilising the ocean with iron has already been tried—admittedly without much success, but also without perceptible harm being done. Such experiments are, however, regulated by an international body, the London Convention on maritime dumping, which the CBD approves of. But what of other experiments? The CBD’s decision at Nagoya allows small-scale experimentation. But small by what standard? That of a laboratory or that of a planet? And small by whose? That of an enthusiast or that of an opponent?



    Take hazing experiments. Such experiments could start fairly soon, were money available. One could easily imagine releasing sulphuric acid from a high-altitude aircraft and studying the chemistry going on in its wake using another aircraft. NASA, America’s aerospace agency, is already equipped with a modified U-2 that would do the job well.

    Experiments of this sort would not be harmless. But they would do a lot less harm to the stratosphere than Concorde or the space shuttle, devices that were accepted by most people. The harm done by stopping geoengineering experiments is that the good which might come from them will never be known.

    Yet even some enthusiastic researchers worry about undue haste. Dr Keith, long an advocate of more research, says he unexpectedly finds himself thinking that things are moving, if anything, faster than he would want. “Taking a few years to have some of the debate happen is healthier than rushing ahead with an experiment. There are lots of experiments you might do which would tell you lots and would themselves have trivial environmental impact: but they have non-trivial implications.” Geoengineering’s growth spurt will need to be matched by some grown-up questioning. Who benefits? Who decides? Who faces the risk?

    Source:
    http://www.economist.com/node/17414216[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:43 pm

    A new view of reality is emerging; here is a good explanation of it.







    Is Death the End? Experiments Suggest You Create Time


    by
    Robert Lanza, M.D.
    Scientist, Theoretician

    Posted: November 4, 2010 08:52 AM

    When I was young, I stayed at my neighbor's house. They had a grandfather clock. Between the tick and the tock of the pendulum, I lay awake thinking about the perverse nature of time. Mr. O'Donnell is gone now. His wife Barbara, now in her nineties, greets me with her cane when I go back to visit.

    We watch our loved ones age and die, and we assume that an external entity called time is responsible for the crime. But experiments increasingly cast doubt on the existence of time as we know it. In fact, the reality of time has long been questioned by philosophers and physicists. When we speak of time, we're usually referring to change. But change isn't the same thing as time.

    To measure anything's position precisely is to "lock in" on one static frame of its motion, as in a film. Conversely, as soon as you observe movement, you can't isolate a frame, because motion is the summation of many frames. Sharpness in one parameter induces blurriness in the other. Consider a film of a flying arrow that stops on a single frame. The pause enables you to know the position of the arrow with great accuracy: it's 20 feet above the grandstand. But you've lost all information about its momentum. It's going nowhere; its path is uncertain.

    Numerous experiments confirm that such uncertainty is built into the fabric of reality. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is a fundamental concept of quantum physics. However, it only makes sense from a biocentric perspective. According to biocentrism, time is the inner sense that animates the still frames of the spatial world. Remember, you can't see through the bone surrounding your brain; everything you experience is woven together in your mind. So what's real? If the next image is different from the last, then it's different, period. We can award change with the word "time," but that doesn't mean that there's an invisible matrix in which changes occur.

    At each moment we're at the edge of a paradox described by the Greek philosopher Zeno. Because an object can't occupy two places simultaneously, he contended that an arrow is only at one place during any given instant of its flight. To be in one place, however, is to be at rest. The arrow must therefore be at rest at every instant of its flight. Thus, motion is impossible. But is this really a paradox? Or rather, is it proof that time (motion) isn't a feature of the outer, spatial world, but rather a conception of thought?

    An experiment published in 1990 suggests that Zeno was right. In this experiment, scientists demonstrated the quantum equivalent of the adage that "a watched pot doesn't boil." This behavior, the "quantum Zeno effect," turns out to be a function of observation. "It seems,"said physicist Peter Coveney, "that the act of looking at an atom prevents it from changing". Theoretically, if a nuclear bomb were watched intently enough -- that is, if you could check its atoms every million trillionth of a second -- it wouldn't explode. Bizarre? The problem lies not in the experiments but in our way of thinking about time. Biocentrism is the only comprehensible way to explain these results, which are only "weird" in the context of the existing paradigm.

    In biocentrism, space and time are forms of animal intuition. They're tools of the mind and thus don't exist as external objects independent of life. When we feel poignantly that time has elapsed, as when loved ones die, it constitutes the human perceptions of the passage and existence of time. Our babies turn into adults. We age. That, to us, is time. It belongs with us.

    New experiments confirm this concept. In 2002, scientists carried out an amazing experiment that showed that within pairs of particles, each particle anticipated what its twin would do in the future. Somehow, the particles "knew" what the researcher would do before it happened, as if there were no space or time between them. In a 2007 study published in Science, scientists shot particles into an apparatus and showed that they could retroactively change whether the particles behaved as photons or waves. The particles had to "decide" what to do when they passed a fork in the apparatus. Later on, the experimenter could flip a switch. It turns out what the observer decided at that point determined how the particle had behaved at the fork in the past. Thus the knowledge in our mind can determine how particles behave.

    Of course, we live in the same world. Critics claim that this behavior is limited to the quantum world. But this "two-world" view (that is, the view that there is one set of laws for quantum objects and another for the rest of the universe, including us) has no basis in reason and is being challenged in labs around the world. Last year, researchers published a study in Nature suggesting that quantum behavior extends into the everyday realm. Pairs of ions were coaxed to entangle, and then their properties remained bound together when separated by large distances ("spooky action at a distance," as Einstein put it) as if there were no time or space. And in 2005, KHCO3 crystals exhibited entanglement ridges half an inch high, demonstrating that quantum behavior could nudge into the ordinary world of human-scale objects.

    In the Oct. 2010 issue of Discover, theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow state, "There is no way to remove the observer -- us -- from our perceptions of the world ... In classical physics, the past is assumed to exist as a definite series of events, but according to quantum physics, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities."

    That night, while lying awake at my neighbor's house, I had found the answer -- that the missing piece is with us. As I see it, immortality doesn't mean perpetual (linear) existence in time but resides outside of time altogether. Life is a journey that transcends our classical way of thinking. Experiment after experiment continues to suggest that we create time, not the other way around. Without consciousness, space and time are nothing. At death, there's a break in the continuity of space and time; you can take any time -- past or future -- as your new frame of reference and estimate all potentialities relative to it. In the end, even Einstein acknowledged that "the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Life is just one fragment of time, one brushstroke in a picture larger than ourselves, eternal even when we die. This is the indispensable prelude to immortality.

    "Time and space are but the physiological colors which the eye maketh," said Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay "Self-Reliance." "But the soul is light; where it is, is day; where it was, is night."

    Source;
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-lanza/is-death-the-end-new-expe_b_774814.html
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:31 pm

    Yet another explanation of why meditation, in which the practitioner learns a technique for focusing one's intention and awareness, produces a sense of peace and happiness.






    Study finds the mind is a frequent, but not happy, wanderer
    People spend nearly half their waking hours thinking about what isn’t going on around them


    Public release date: 11-Nov-2010

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they're doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy. So says a study that used an iPhone web app to gather 250,000 data points on subjects' thoughts, feelings, and actions as they went about their lives.

    The research, by psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University, is described this week in the journal Science.

    "A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind," Killingsworth and Gilbert write. "The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost."

    Unlike other animals, humans spend a lot of time thinking about what isn't going on around them: contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or may never happen at all. Indeed, mind-wandering appears to be the human brain's default mode of operation.

    To track this behavior, Killingsworth developed an iPhone web app that contacted 2,250 volunteers at random intervals to ask how happy they were, what they were currently doing, and whether they were thinking about their current activity or about something else that was pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant.

    Subjects could choose from 22 general activities, such as walking, eating, shopping, and watching television. On average, respondents reported that their minds were wandering 46.9 percent of time, and no less than 30 percent of the time during every activity except making love.

    "Mind-wandering appears ubiquitous across all activities," says Killingsworth, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard. "This study shows that our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the non-present."

    Killingsworth and Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, found that people were happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.

    "Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people's happiness," Killingsworth says. "In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged."

    The researchers estimated that only 4.6 percent of a person's happiness in a given moment was attributable to the specific activity he or she was doing, whereas a person's mind-wandering status accounted for about 10.8 percent of his or her happiness.

    Time-lag analyses conducted by the researchers suggested that their subjects' mind-wandering was generally the cause, not the consequence, of their unhappiness.

    "Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and to 'be here now,'" Killingsworth and Gilbert note in Science. "These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind."

    This new research, the authors say, suggests that these traditions are right.

    Killingsworth and Gilbert's 2,250 subjects in this study ranged in age from 18 to 88, representing a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and occupations. Seventy-four percent of study participants were American.

    More than 5,000 people are now using the iPhone web app the researchers have developed to study happiness, which can be found at www.trackyourhappiness.org.



    Source;
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-11/hu-sft110210.php

    For Contact: Steve Bradt
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:30 pm

    This is such a rational self-empowering policy it should be a model for America. Actually it was American policy for many years. America is a nation of immigrants. Every single person here, including what we call Native Americans either themselves immigrated, or is alive today because a forbearer immigrated. The question is not stopping immigration but having a coherent policy that builds the nation's potential for success.




    Defying Trend, Canada Lures More Migrants

    By JASON DePARLE

    November 12, 2010


    WINNIPEG, Manitoba — As waves of immigrants from the developing world remade Canada a decade ago, the famously friendly people of Manitoba could not contain their pique.

    What irked them was not the Babel of tongues, the billions spent on health care and social services, or the explosion of ethnic identities. The rub was the newcomers’ preference for “M.T.V.” — Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver — over the humble prairie province north of North Dakota, which coveted workers and population growth.

    Demanding “our fair share,” Manitobans did something hard to imagine in American politics, where concern over illegal immigrants dominates public debate and states seek more power to keep them out. In Canada, which has little illegal immigration, Manitoba won new power to bring foreigners in, handpicking ethnic and occupational groups judged most likely to stay.

    This experiment in designer immigration has made Winnipeg a hub of parka-clad diversity — a blue-collar town that gripes about the cold in Punjabi and Tagalog — and has defied the anti-immigrant backlash seen in much of the world.

    Rancorous debates over immigration have erupted from Australia to Sweden, but there is no such thing in Canada as an anti-immigrant politician. Few nations take more immigrants per capita, and perhaps none with less fuss.

    Is it the selectivity Canada shows? The services it provides? Even the Mad Cowz, a violent youth gang of African refugees, did nothing to curb local appetites for foreign workers.

    “When I took this portfolio, I expected some of the backlash that’s occurred in other parts of the world,” said Jennifer Howard, Manitoba’s minister of immigration. “But I have yet to have people come up to me and say, ‘I want fewer immigrants.’ I hear, ‘How can we bring in more?’ ”

    This steak-and-potatoes town now offers stocks of palm oil and pounded yams, four Filipino newspapers, a large Hindu Diwali festival, and a mandatory course on Canadian life from the grand to the granular. About 600 newcomers a month learn that the Canadian charter ensures “the right to life, liberty and security” and that employers like cover letters in Times New Roman font. (A gentle note to Filipinos: résumés with photographs, popular in Manila, are frowned on in Manitoba.)

    “From the moment we touched down at the airport, it was love all the way,” said Olusegun Daodu, 34, a procurement professional who recently arrived from Nigeria to join relatives and marveled at the medical card that offers free care. “If we have any reason to go to the hospital now, we just walk in.”

    “The license plates say ‘Friendly Manitoba,’ ” said his wife, Hannah.

    “It’s true — really, really true,” Mr. Daodu said. “I had to ask my aunt, ‘Do they ever get angry here?’ ”

    Canada has long sought immigrants to populate the world’s second largest land mass, but two developments in the 1960s shaped the modern age. One created a point system that favors the highly skilled. The other abolished provisions that screened out nonwhites. Millions of minorities followed, with Chinese, Indians and Filipinos in the lead.

    Relative to its population, Canada takes more than twice as many legal immigrants as the United States. Why no hullabaloo?

    With one-ninth of the United States’ population, Canada is keener for growth, and the point system helps persuade the public it is getting the newcomers it needs. The children of immigrants typically do well. The economic downturn has been mild. Plus the absence of large-scale illegal immigration removes a dominant source of the conflict in the United States.

    “The big difference between Canada and the U.S is that we don’t border Mexico,” said Naomi Alboim, a former immigration official who teaches at Queens University in Ontario.

    French and English from the start, Canada also has a more accommodating political culture — one that accepts more pluribus and demands less unum. That American complaint — “Why do I have to press 1 for English?” — baffles a country with a minister of multiculturalism.

    Another force is in play: immigrant voting strength. About 20 percent of Canadians are foreign born (compared with 12.5 percent in the United States), and they are quicker to acquire citizenship and voting rights. “It’s political suicide to be against immigration,” said Leslie Seidle of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal group.

    Some stirrings of discontent can be found. The rapid growth of the “M.T.V.” cities has fueled complaints about congestion and housing costs. A foiled 2006 terrorist plot brought modest concern about radical Islam. And critics of the refugee system say it rewards false claims of persecution, leaving the country with an unlocked back door.

    “There’s considerably more concern among our people than is reflected in our policies,” said Martin Collacott, who helped create the Center for Immigration Policy Reform, a new group that advocates less immigration.

    Mr. Collacott argues high levels of immigration have run up the cost of the safety net, slowed economic growth and strained civic cohesion, but he agrees the issue has little force in politics. “There’s literally no one in Parliament willing to take up the cudgel,” he said.

    The Manitoba program, started in 1998 at employers’ behest, has grown rapidly under both liberal and conservative governments. While the federal system favors those with college degrees, Manitoba takes the semi-skilled, like truck drivers, and focuses on people with local relatives in the hopes that they will stay. The newcomers can bring spouses and children and get a path to citizenship.

    Most are required to bring savings, typically about $10,000, to finance the transition without government aid. While the province nominates people, the federal government does background checks and has the final say. Unlike many migrant streams, the new Manitobans have backgrounds that are strikingly middle class.

    “Back home was good — not bad,” said Nishkam Virdi, 32, who makes $17 an hour at the Palliser furniture plant after moving from India, where his family owned a machine shop.

    He said he was drawn less by wages than by the lure of health care and solid utilities. “The living standard is higher — the lighting, the water, the energy,” he said.

    The program has attracted about 50,000 people over the last decade, and surveys show a majority stayed. Ms. Howard, the immigration minister, credits job placement and language programs, but many migrants cite the informal welcomes.

    “Because we are from the third world, I thought they might think they are superior,” said Anne Simpao, a Filipino nurse in tiny St. Claude, who was approached by a stranger and offered dishes and a television set. “They call it friendly Manitoba, and it’s really true.”

    One complaint throughout Canada is the difficulty many immigrants have in transferring professional credentials. Heredina Maranan, 45, a certified public accountant in Manila, has been stuck in a Manitoba factory job for a decade. She did not disguise her disappointment when relatives sought to follow her. “I did not encourage them,” she said. “I think I deserved better.”

    They came anyway — two families totaling 14 people, drawn not just by jobs but the promise of good schools.

    “Of course I wanted to come here,” said her nephew, Lordie Osena. “In the Philippines there are 60 children in one room.”

    Every province except Quebec now runs a provincial program, each with different criteria, diluting the force of the federal point system. The Manitoba program has grown so rapidly, federal officials have imposed a numerical cap.

    Arthur Mauro, a Winnipeg business leader, hails the Manitoba program but sees limited lessons for a country as demographically different as the United States. “There are very few states in the U.S. that say, ‘We need people,’ ” he said.

    But Arthur DeFehr, chief executive officer of Palliser furniture, does see a lesson: choose migrants who fill local needs and give them a legal path.

    With 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, he sees another opportunity for Manitoba. “I’m sure many of those people would make perfectly wonderful citizens of Canada,” he said. “I think we should go and get them.”

    Source;
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/world/americas/13immig.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=global-home
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:42 am

    Let it be told~



    by
    FRANK SCHAEFFER - AlterNet

    Tens of millions of American voters got duped badly in the 2010 election. The bible-thumping white underclass thought they hit back at what they regarded as the nefarious forces trying to 'take our country away.”

    They were bought, paid for, sold, traded and manipulated by the most powerful in the US election: a Billionaire Lynch Mob led by Rupert Murdoch, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and hundreds of millions in organize corporate cash. They peddled a fear agenda: fear of immigrants, fear of government control of our lives, fear that their country would become irrevocably changed.

    Here's how it happened:

    Where the fear and loathing began

    A bedrock article of faith among many of the anti-Obama white voters is that America had 'Christian origins,” and that today America must be 'restored” to 'our religious heritage.” The 'Puritan heritage” of America is constantly cited as evidence for

    our need to return to our “biblical roots.” The Constitution is also waved around as if it too is some sort of Bible to be religiously believed in. Of course the Billionaire Lynch Mob doesn’t care about such quaint ideas as individual liberties, let alone “biblical absolutes,” but many of the people who believed the anti-Obama lies did care.

    The earnest, mostly Evangelical dupes have a point: by calling for a “return to our roots” (be they biblical and/or constitutional) they are actually maintaining a grand old American tradition: religious delusion as the basis for conquest. The Puritans believed that they were importing “authentic Christianity” to America, especially as written in the Old Testament. They said that they were on a divine mission, even calling themselves “The New Israel” and a “city set upon a hill.” John Winthrop (governor of Massachusetts Bay) transferred the idea of “nationhood” in biblical Israel to the Massachusetts Bay Company. And the Puritans claimed they were God’s “Chosen People.” They said that they had the right to grab land from the “heathen.” These were the American Indians whom the Puritans thought of as the “new Canaanites,” to be slaughtered with God’s blessing and in the case of the Pequot Indians burned alive.

    There are many threads in the anti-Obama tapestry but three are ignored at our peril: 1) The End Times fantasies of the Evangelicals; 2) The rise of so-called Reconstructionist theology and 3) the culture war launched over the These “threads,” not the economy alone, are also the source of the vote where white lower class and white middle class Americans voted in droves against their own self-interest. Let’s unpick these fraying threads one at a time.

    1. “End Times” Fantasies

    The evangelical/fundamentalists/Republican far right is in the grip of an apocalyptic “Rapture” cult centered on revenge and vindication. This “End Times” death wish is built on a literalist interpretation of the Book of Revelation. This fantasy has many followers. For instance to take one of many examples, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series of sixteen novels represents both a “reason” and a symptom of the hysteria that grips so many voters.

    The “Left Behind” novels have sold tens of millions of copies while spawning an “End Times” cult, or rather egging it on. Such products as Left Behind video games have become part of the ubiquitous American background noise. Less innocuous symptoms of End Times paranoia include people stocking up on assault rifles and ammunition, freeze dried food (pitched to them, by the way, by Billionaire Lynch Mob-handmaid Glenn Beck), gold (also sold to them by Glenn Beck), adopting "Christ-centered" home school curricula, fear of higher education (“we’ll lose our children to secularism”), embracing rumor as fact (“Obama isn’t an American”) and fighting against Middle East peace iniatives, lest they delay the “return of Jesus,” for instance through Houston mega church pastor John Hagee’s Christian Zionist-centered “ministry.”

    A disclosure: My late father, Francis Schaeffer, was a key founder and leader of the American Religious Right. For a time in the 1970s and early 80s I joined him in pioneering the Evangelical anti-abortion Religious Right movement. I changed my mind. I explain why I quit the movement in my book CRAZY FOR GOD -- How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All - Or Almost All - Of It Back.

    John Hagee, mega church pastor and founder of Christians United for Israel said: “For 25 almost 26 years now, I have been pounding the Evangelical community over television. The Bible is a very pro-Israel book. If a Christian admits ‘I believe the Bible,’ I can make him a pro-Israel supporter or they will have to denounce their faith. So I have Christians over a barrel you might say.” The assumption Hagee makes -- that “Bible-believing Christians” will be pro-Israel -- is the dominant view among American Evangelical Christians. These are the people who goad us to make perpetual war worldwide. And these are the people who supposedly follow a teacher who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

    Few within the Evangelical community have dared to publically question such Haggee’s approach. The Christian Zionists led by Hagee et al even went after their very own George W Bush for backing peace talks between Palestinians and the Israeli government. So can you imagine the hatred the Christian Zionists have for President Obama, who also wants peace in the Middle East?

    The momentum for building a subculture that’s seceding from mainstream society (in order to await "The End Times" has irrevocably pried loose a chunk of the American population from both sanity and from their fellow citizens. The Christian Zionist franchise holds out hope for the self-disenfranchised that -- at last -- everyone will know "We born-again Christians" were right and "They" were wrong. But here’s the political significance of the Christian Zionist dominance: the evangelical/fundamentalists’ imagined victimhood.

    Few within the Evangelical community have dared to publically question such Haggee’s approach. The Christian Zionists led by Hagee et al even went after their very own George W Bush for backing peace talks between Palestinians and the Israeli government. So can you imagine the hatred the Christian Zionists have for President Obama, who also wants peace in the Middle East?

    The momentum for building a subculture that’s seceding from mainstream society (in order to await "The End Times" has irrevocably pried loose a chunk of the American population from both sanity and from their fellow citizens. The Christian Zionist franchise holds out hope for the self-disenfranchised that -- at last -- everyone will know "We born-again Christians" were right and "They" were wrong. But here’s the political significance of the Christian Zionist dominance: the evangelical/fundamentalists’ imagined victimhood.

    I say imagined victimhood, because the born-agains are hardly outsiders let alone victims. They’re very own George W Bush was in the White House for eight long, ruinous years and Evangelicals also dominated American politics for the better part of thirty years before that by enforcing a series of “moral” litmus tests that transformed the Republican Party into their very own culture wars lickspittle.

    Nevertheless, the white evangelical/conservative Roman Catholic sense of being a victimized minority only grew with their successes. “You are not alone!” said Glenn Beck, playing to these “disenfranchised” “victims,” who – as the midterm results once again proved -- turn out to look more like a majority of white voters who had the power to turn Sarah Palin into a multimillionaire overnight and send the likes of Rand Paul to the Senate.

    2. The Rise of Reconstructionist Theology

    Where did the “victims” on the Far Right get their “theology” of perpetual damn-the-facts victimhood from? The history of theology (Christian or otherwise) is the history of people desperately trying to fit the way things actually are into the way their “holy” books say they should be. And since the facts don’t fit and never will, religious believers can either change their minds, embrace paradox, or find someone else to blame for their never-ending loss of face and self-esteem.

    Most Americans have never heard of the Reconstructionists. But they have felt their impact through the Reconstructionists’ (often indirect) influence over the wider Evangelical community. In turn, the Evangelicals shaped the politics of a secular culture that barely understood the Religious Right let alone the forces within that movement that gave it its rage.

    If you feel victimized by modernity (let alone humiliated by reality) then the Reconstructionists have The Answer to your angst: apply the full scope of the Biblical Law to modern America and to the larger world! Coerce “non-believers” to live in your imaginary universe! In other words Reconstructionists wanted to replace the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with their interpretation of the Bible.

    Most Evangelicals are positively moderate by comparison to the Reconstructionist “thinkers.” Most libertarians, who formed the backbone of the Tea Party (at least until the Far Right Evangelicals began to take the Tea Party over) would hate them. But the Reconstructionist movement is a distilled version of the more mainstream evangelical version of exclusionary theology that nonetheless divides America into the “Real America” (as the Far Right claim only they are) and the rest of us “sinners.”

    The Reconstructionist worldview is ultra Calvinist, but like all Calvinism has its origins in ancient Israel/Palestine, when vengeful and ignorant tribal lore was written down by frightened men (the nastier authors of the Bible) trying to defend their prerogatives to bully women, murder rival tribes and steal land. These justifications probably reflect later thinking: origin myths used as propaganda to justify political and military actions after the fact—i.e., to justify their brutality the Hebrews said that God made them inflict on others and/or that they were “chosen.”

    In its modern American incarnation, which hardened into a twentieth century movement in the 1960s and became widespread in the 1970s, Reconstructionism was propagated by people I knew personally and worked with closely when I too was a Religious Right activist claiming God’s special favor. The leaders of the Reconstructionist movement included the late Rousas Rushdoony (Calvinist theologian, father of modern-era Christian Reconstructionism, patron saint to gold-hoarding Federal Reserve-haters, and creator of the modern Evangelical home-school movement), his son-in-law Gary North (an economist, gold-buff, publisher and leading conspiracy theorist), and David Chilton (ultra-Calvinist pastor and author.)

    Reconstructionism, also called Theonomism, seeks to reconstruct “our fallen society.” Its worldview is best represented by the publications of the Chalcedon Foundation, which has been classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to the Chalcedon Foundation website, the mission of the movement is to apply “the whole Word of God” to all aspects of human life: “It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion. We must live by His Word, not our own.

    It’s no coincidence that the rise of the Islamic Brotherhoods in Egypt and Syria and the rise of Reconstructionism took place in more or less the same twentieth-century time frame—as modernism, science and “permissiveness” collided with a frightened conservatism rooted in religion. The writings of people such as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and those of Rushdoony are virtually interchangeable when it comes to their goals of “restoring God” to his “rightful place” as he presides over law and morals. Or as the late Reconstructionist/Calvinist theologian David Chilton, writing in PARADISE RESTORED--A Biblical Theology of Dominion (and sounding startlingly al-Banna-like) explained:

    Our goal is a Christian world, made up of explicitly Christian nations. How could a Christian desire anything else? Our Lord Himself taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6: 10)… The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer for the worldwide dominion of God’s Kingdom… a world of decentralized theocratic republics.... That is the only choice: pagan law or Christian law. God specifically forbids “pluralism.” God is not the least bit interested in sharing world dominion with Satan.

    The message of Rushdoony’s work is best summed up in one of his innumerable Chalcedon Foundation position papers, “The Increase of His Government and Peace.” He writes: “[T]he ultimate and absolute government of all things shall belong to Christ.” In his book Thy Kingdom Come -- using words that are similar to those the leaders of al Qaida would use decades later in reference to “true Islam” -- Rushdoony argues that democracy and Christianity are incompatible: “Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life,” he writes. “One [biblical] faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state… Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.”

    3. The Culture Wars Launched over the Abortion Debate

    The significance and rise of the Reconstructionists and their (often indirect) impact on the wider evangelical subculture can only be understood in the context of the January 22, 1973 Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade.

    Roe energized the culture war like nothing else before or since. This war has even fed the passion that burned within the so-called Tea Party movement’s reaction to Obama’s moderate legislative health care reform predicting “Death Panels.” Roe also indirectly energized even those members of the Far Right – for instance the Tea Party’s pro-choice libertarians -- who didn’t care about abortion per se. Roe had such far-reaching effects because reactions to Roe defined the scorched-earth, winner-take-all and rabidly anti-government tone of the culture war fights since 1973.

    Fast forward thirty years to the first decade of the twenty-first century: The messengers and day-to-day “issues” changed but the volume of the anti-government “debate” and anger originated with the anti-abortion movement. “Death Panels!”, “Government Takeover!”, “Obama is Hitler!” and all such “comments” were simply updated versions of “pro-life” rhetoric. And ironically, at the very same time as the Evangelicals who began the anti-abortion crusade (along with conservative Roman Catholics) had thrust themselves into bare knuckle politics over Roe, they also (I should say we also) retreated to what amounted to virtual walled compounds.

    Evangelicals created a parallel “Christian America,” our very own private world, as it were, posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Our new “world” was about creating a Puritan/Reconstructionist-style holy-nation-within-our-fallen-nation.

    This went far beyond mere alternative schools and home schools. Thousands of new Christian bookstores opened, countless Evangelical radio programs flourished in the 1970s and 80s, and new TV stations went on the air. Even a “Christian Yellow Pages” (a guide to Evangelical tradesmen) was published advertising “Christ-centered plumbers,” accountants and the like who “honor Jesus.” New Evangelical universities and even new law schools appeared, seemingly overnight with a clearly defined mission to “take back” each and every profession – including law and politics – “for Christ.” For instance, Liberty University’s Law School was the creation of the late Jerry Falwell, who told me in 1983 of his vision for Liberty’s programs: “Frank, we’re going train a new generation of judges and world leaders in the law from a Christian worldview to change America.” This was the same Jerry Falwell who wrote in America Can Be Saved: “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools.”

    To the old-fashioned Goldwater-type conservative mantra of “big government doesn’t work,” in the 1970s the newly-radicalized Evangelicals added “the US Government is Evil!” Our swap of spiritual faith for the illusion of political power – I say “illusion” since even in the 70s and 80s the real power was in the hands of the Billionaire Lynch Mob -- m

    Source page;
    http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/148795/how_republicans_and_their_big_business_allies_duped_tens_of_millions_of_evangelicals_into_voting_for_a_corporate_agenda/?page=entire

    ALTER NET > home- source link;
    http://www.alternet.org/
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:42 pm

    For those who want to know more about the Roman tanks and their implications for the global warming debate, this video> (In Search of Lost Time: Ancient Eclipses, Roman Fish Tanks and the Enigma of Global Sea Level Rise), a talk by Harvard scientist Jerry X. Mitrovica sheds additional light...below this article Thubs Up
    Please note this insight > the Moon is having a major affect on all this!!!


    Roman Decadence and Rising Seas


    The inner dividing walls of a Roman-era fish tank at Punta della Vipera north of Rome. They are now below sea level even at the lowest tide.


    By Justin Gillis
    November 15, 2010, 7:18 am

    Sea level is rising in relation to many of the world’s shorelines, and has been for decades. The main reason is that the volume of the ocean is increasing as a result of the melting of land ice and the warming of the sea itself. (Warm water expands, just as warm air does.)

    Scientists once thought this volume increase had been going on, in fits and starts, for thousands of years. This widespread belief was often used as a debating point by climate-change skeptics, who argued that sea-level rise was nothing to worry about because it had existed throughout the history of human civilization.

    But research in recent years has turned that notion on its head. The matter is not entirely settled, but some persuasive evidence points to the conclusion that the volume of the ocean was fairly stable for the last 2,000 years and began rising only recently, more or less in sync with industrialization. This is important because it suggests that sea level might be pretty sensitive to the greenhouse gases that humans are dumping into the atmosphere.

    I made a brief mention of this issue in a long article on Sunday on sea-level rise but did not have the space to go into much detail. Here is some of the background:

    Archaeological discoveries that shed light on ancient sea level are prized finds for the experts in this field. One of the most compelling studies of recent years was carried out by an Australian scientist named Kurt Lambeck, who worked with colleagues in Italy. They focused on ancient fish tanks built at the edge of the Mediterranean by the Romans over the 300 years when their civilization was at its height, ending in the second century A.D.

    These tanks were sometimes decorative, but mostly they were used as storage pens to keep fish fresh for the lavish banquets that wealthy Romans held in their seaside villas. The tanks, described in some detail by Roman historians, have long fired the imaginations of classicists, since they represent Roman civilization at its decadent height. The tanks made an appearance in the popular Robert Harris novel “Pompeii,” for instance.

    The tanks were usually carved into rock at the edge of the shore and constructed in such a way that some of their features bore precise relationships to sea level at the time. For instance, walls and sluice gates had to be built to let water into the tanks while keeping fish from escaping at high tide. A few years ago, Dr. Lambeck, of the Australian National University, and his team realized that these features could be used to arrive at an estimate of sea level in the time of the Romans.

    The work demanded careful measurements, and taking account of land movements in relation to the sea. In fact, this is a factor in sea-level studies the world over, one that greatly complicates the interpretation of features like ancient beaches and coral reefs. Land can rise or sink across a large region as a result of numerous factors, including volcanism, so the sea level in a given place and time depends on how those local factors are intersecting with the global change in ocean volume.

    Taking all these factors into account, Dr. Lambeck’s team used the Roman fish tanks to reach the conclusion that global ocean volume had not changed much from the Roman era to the 19th century. That means, in essence, that human civilization reached its present size and complexity during a period when shorelines were reasonably stable in much of the world. Perhaps that explains why so many millions of us are living on those shorelines.

    But the longer history of the earth shows that sea level is by no means fixed, as a Columbia University scientist named Robin E. Bell pointed out in my article. The sea surface has gone up and down by hundreds of feet, and it has done so repeatedly as ice ages waxed and waned. The most recent large change occurred at the end of the last ice age. As the ice sheets melted over a period stretching from 20,000 years to 6,000 years before the present, sea level rose by nearly 400 feet.

    Now, the volume of the ocean is once again increasing, with an average global rise of perhaps eight inches since the Industrial Revolution. The pace of the increase has recently jumped to about a foot per century, and as I reported in my article, many scientists fear it will increase further, perhaps raising the sea level by an average of three feet by the year 2100 — a challenge for coastal communities worldwide.

    Dr. Lambeck, a past president of the Australian Academy of Science, told me the jury was still out on how much of today’s sea-level rise could be attributed to human activities, but he added: “Personally, I feel fairly confident that what we are seeing today is largely an anthropogenic signal.”



    A sluice gate for a channel controlling the flow of seawater into a fish tank on Ventotene Island, south of Rome, with a modern-day red and white measuring rod. The gate is made of limestone with holes to allow flow during high tide, and it can slide vertically into the stone blocks to the left and right. When it was operating 19 centuries ago, low tide occurred at the level of the base of the sliding block. Today the entire gate is below sea level.

    Source;
    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/15/roman-decadence-and-rising-seas/


    In Search of Lost Time: Ancient Eclipses, Roman Fish Tanks and the Enigma of Global Sea Level Rise

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

    Post  giovonni on Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:41 am

    America's problem is not al-Qa'ida but ignorance, willful and otherwise.

    Take the survey yourself:[/I] http://pewresearch.org/politicalquiz/

    Public Knows Basic Facts about Politics, Economics, But Struggles with Specifics

    November 18, 2010

    The public sees the big picture when it comes to the changing balance of power in Washington. Fully 75% say that the Republican Party is generally regarded as doing best in this month's midterm elections.

    Far fewer are familiar with the specifics relating to the GOP's victories. Fewer than half (46%) know that the Republicans will have a majority only in the House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes in January, while 38% can identify John Boehner as the incoming House speaker.

    The Pew Research Center's latest News IQ Quiz, conducted Nov. 11-14 among 1,001 adults, finds a similar pattern in the public's knowledge about economics. The quiz is composed of 13 multiple-choice questions about current events.



    Nearly eight-in-ten (77%) say correctly that the federal budget deficit is larger than it was in the 1990s and 64% know that in recent years the United States has bought more foreign goods than it has sold overseas. As in recent knowledge surveys, about half (53%) estimate the current unemployment rate at about 10%.

    But the public continues to struggle with questions about the Troubled Asset Relief Program known as TARP: Just 16% say, correctly, that more than half of the loans made to banks under TARP have been paid back; an identical percentage says that none has been paid back. In Pew Research's previous knowledge survey in July, just 34% knew that the TARP was enacted under the Bush administration. (See "Well Known: Twitter; Little Known: John Roberts," July 15, 2010.)

    The new survey finds that an overwhelming percentage (88%) identify BP as the company that operated the oil well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. But as in the past, the public shows little awareness of international developments: 41% say that relations between India and Pakistan are generally considered to be unfriendly; 12% say relations between the two long-time rivals are friendly, 20% say they are neutral and 27% do not know.

    Just 15% know that David Cameron is the prime minister of Great Britain; about as many say it is Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of BP. The proportion correctly identifying Cameron as the British prime minister is about the same now as it was in July (19%).

    On a different subject, 26% of Americans know that Android is the name of the Google operating system for smartphones. As in past news quiz questions about technology, there is a sizable age gap in awareness of Android. Far more people younger than age 50 (37%) than those ages 50 and older (11%) correctly identify Android as the Google phone's operating system.
    Fewer than Half Know GOP Won House

    On the subject of government spending, many Americans (77%) are aware that the U.S. has a larger budget deficit today than in the 1990s, yet far fewer correctly answer a question about what the government spends more on: national defense, education, Medicare or interest on the national debt. Roughly equal proportions of Republicans (81%), Democrats (78%) and independents (78%) know that the federal budget deficit is larger now than in the 1990s.

    Overall, 39% of the public knows that the government spends more on national defense than on education, Medicare or interest on the national debt. About one-in-four (23%) say the government spends more on interest payments and 15% say Medicare is the largest expenditure of these four alternatives. Government accounting estimates indicate that the government spends about twice as much on defense as on Medicare, and more than four times as much on defense as on interest on the debt.



    More Democrats (46%) than Republicans (28%) know that the government spends more on national defense than on the other items listed. Republicans are as likely to say the government spends most on interest on the debt (29%) as on defense (28%). A plurality of independents (44%) know that the government spends most on national defense.
    Partisan Differences in Knowledge

    About six-in-ten Republicans (63%) correctly estimated the unemployment rate at about 10%, compared with 48% of Democrats. A wide partisan gap is also seen in awareness of the U.S. trade deficit: 72% of Republicans and 58% of Democrats say that the U.S. buys more good from abroad that it sells.



    Republican are also more likely to know than the GOP was perceived as winning the midterms and to know that the Republicans won a majority in the House. And while only about half of Republicans (47%) could identify John Boehner as the next House speaker, slightly fewer Democrats (38%) know this.

    Republicans and Democrats each are largely unaware of how much of the TARP loans have been repaid and relatively few in both parties estimated the inflation rate at about 1%. As noted, more Democrats than Republicans know that the government spends more on national defense than on interest on the national debt, Medicare or education.
    The Knowledge Age Gap

    As in previous knowledge quizzes, young people struggle with many questions about politics, economics and foreign affairs.



    Just 14% of those younger than age 30 know that John Boehner will be the next House speaker; about as many (19%) say it will be Nancy Pelosi, the current speaker. Among older age groups, Boehner is far better known.

    Just 27% of those younger than age 30 say Republicans will have a majority in the House, while the same percentage (27%) says that India-Pakistan relations are generally regarded as unfriendly. On each question, at least four-in-ten among older age groups answered correctly.

    However, 45% of those younger than age 30 know that the government spends most on national defense, about the same percentage as those ages 30 to 49 (41%) and slightly higher than those 50 and older (35%).

    And about four-in-ten young people (42%) know that Android is the operating system for Google smartphones, compared with 34% of those ages 30 to 49, 16% of those ages 50 to 54, and just 4% of those ages 65 and older.



    Comparing Knowledge on Average

    An alternative way of comparing quiz performance across groups is to look at the average results.

    Twelve of the 13 items on the survey were used to form a knowledge scale for this installment of the Pew News IQ quiz. Each question is worth one point on the scale ranging from zero (none right) to 12 (a perfect score).

    This was a difficult quiz. Americans answered an average of five out of these 12 questions correctly. That means the public averaged fewer than half right answers (42%). Illustrating the difficulty of some questions, less than one percent of the public answered 12 correctly while 4% missed them all.

    College graduates did much better on average than those with some or no college experience. Those with college degrees answered an average of 6.8 questions correctly, compared with 3.8 on average for those with a high school degree or less education.

    College graduates did better on almost every question in the quiz. One exception was the item about government spending. Roughly four-in-ten of both college graduates (41%) and those with no college experience (38%) knew that the government spends more on defense than the alternatives offered.

    As described above, older Americans did significantly better than young people. Quiz takers ages 65 and older correctly answered 5.3 questions on average while those younger than age 30 averaged four right answers. Republicans did somewhat better than Democrats on average.

    Source;
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/think-tank-afghans-dont-know-911/[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:46 am

    i find this item very telling of the differences of cultures and experiences upon this plane.

    The Afghans see us as invaders. They know nothing of our context for being in their country. With that truth it is clear to see why this can never end well. If Afghans invaded the United States what would you think? These wars were grounded in lies and deceptions, the hubristic acts of neocon triumphalists and no one seems to have the courage to admit the truth and bring our troops home.

    As for the opium we should have begun a controlled medical poppy growing program to produce the medical opiates, at least the raw material, to service the medical community needs for morphine These farmers just want to make a living in a land where that is not easy. But we can't do this because coupled to the insanity of the war, is the insanity of our national drug policies. We are bleeding away our wealth in the service of what exactly?






    Think tank: 92% of Afghans never heard of 9/11

    By Daniel Tencer
    Friday, November 19th, 2010

    Fewer than one in 10 Afghans are aware of the 9/11 attacks and their precipitation of the war in Afghanistan, says a study from an international think tank.

    A report (PDF) from the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) shows that 92 percent of those surveyed had never heard of the coordinated multiple attacks on US soil on September 11, 2001. It also shows that four in 10 Afghans believe the US is on their soil in order to "destroy Islam or occupy Afghanistan."

    To be sure, the survey can't claim to be definitive: It only canvassed men, and relied primarily on respondents from Helmand and Kandahar, the two most war-torn provinces in the country. But the results nonetheless show that Western forces fighting insurgents in Afghanistan have largely failed to connect with the local population.

    “We need to explain to the Afghan people why we are here, and both show and convince them that their future is better with us than with the Taliban,” ICOS lead field researcher Norine MacDonald said in a statement.

    The survey also suggests that Afghans are skeptical of their own government's ability to protect them, and have little regard for the fledgling democratic institutions the country is building. Fully 43 percent could not name one positive aspect of democracy, and nearly two-thirds -- 61 percent -- said they didn't think Afghan forces would be able to keep up the fight against the Taliban if and when Western forces withdrew.

    The ICOS study recommends a publicity campaign to explain to Afghans why foreign forces are fighting on their soil. The think tank also proposes a number of other initiatives meant to improve the image of foreign forces in the country, including having NATO forces deliver humanitarian aid where aid groups fear to travel, providing farmland to the poor, setting up women's councils, and "safe village convoys" which would see foreign troops escort villagers in dangerous rural areas.

    ICOS has a permanent presence in Afghanistan and has been studying the nearly decade-long war's impact on Afghan society. The think tank has previously proposed that Afghanistan license the growing of opium. The group argues that eliminating the opiate trade from Afghanistan is virtually impossible due to its entrenched place in the culture. At the same time, Afghan farmers could earn money by selling opiates to painkiller manufacturers.

    Opponents of the idea say that Afghanistan is not stable enough to develop a proper opium-manufacturing industry, and a licensing scheme would only encourage the sale of opium to heroin manufacturers.


    Source;
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/think-tank-afghans-dont-know-911/
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:21 am

    The evidence continues to pile up that if we are going to create a successful school system we are going to have to take into account the environment in which the students live.

    Growing up digital, wired for distraction



    November 23, 2010

    Redwood City (California): On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh's life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: Book or computer?

    By all rights, Vishal, a bright 17-year-old, should already have finished the book, Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle," his summer reading assignment. But he has managed 43 pages in two months.

    He typically favors Facebook, YouTube and making digital videos. That is the case this August afternoon. Bypassing Vonnegut, he clicks over to YouTube, meaning that tomorrow he will enter his senior year of high school hoping to see an improvement in his grades, but without having completed his only summer homework.

    On YouTube, "you can get a whole story in six minutes," he explains. "A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification."

    Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

    Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks -- and less able to sustain attention.

    "Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing," said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: "The worry is we're raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently."

    But even as some parents and educators express unease about students' digital diets, they are intensifying efforts to use technology in the classroom, seeing it as a way to connect with students and give them essential skills. Across the country, schools are equipping themselves with computers, Internet access and mobile devices so they can teach on the students' technological territory.

    It is a tension on vivid display at Vishal's school, Woodside High School, on a sprawling campus set against the forested hills of Silicon Valley. Here, as elsewhere, it is not uncommon for students to send hundreds of text messages a day or spend hours playing video games, and virtually everyone is on Facebook.

    The principal, David Reilly, 37, a former musician who says he sympathizes when young people feel disenfranchised, is determined to engage these 21st-century students. He has asked teachers to build Web sites to communicate with students, introduced popular classes on using digital tools to record music, secured funding for iPads to teach Mandarin and obtained $3 million in grants for a multimedia center.

    He pushed first period back an hour, to 9 a.m., because students were showing up bleary-eyed, at least in part because they were up late on their computers. Unchecked use of digital devices, he says, can create a culture in which students are addicted to the virtual world and lost in it.

    "I am trying to take back their attention from their BlackBerrys and video games," he says. "To a degree, I'm using technology to do it."

    The same tension surfaces in Vishal, whose ability to be distracted by computers is rivaled by his proficiency with them. At the beginning of his junior year, he discovered a passion for filmmaking and made a name for himself among friends and teachers with his storytelling in videos made with digital cameras and editing software.

    He acts as his family's tech-support expert, helping his father, Satendra, a lab manager, retrieve lost documents on the computer, and his mother, Indra, a security manager at the San Francisco airport, build her own Web site.

    But he also plays video games 10 hours a week. He regularly sends Facebook status updates at 2 a.m., even on school nights, and has such a reputation for distributing links to videos that his best friend calls him a "YouTube bully."

    Several teachers call Vishal one of their brightest students, and they wonder why things are not adding up. Last semester, his grade point average was 2.3 after a D-plus in English and an F in Algebra II. He got an A in film critique.

    "He's a kid caught between two worlds," said Mr. Reilly -- one that is virtual and one with real-life demands.

    Vishal, like his mother, says he lacks the self-control to favor schoolwork over the computer. She sat him down a few weeks before school started and told him that, while she respected his passion for film and his technical skills, he had to use them productively.

    "This is the year," she says she told him. "This is your senior year and you can't afford not to focus."

    It was not always this way. As a child, Vishal had a tendency to procrastinate, but nothing like this. Something changed him.

    Growing up with gadgets

    When he was 3, Vishal moved with his parents and older brother to their current home, a three-bedroom house in the working-class section of Redwood City, a suburb in Silicon Valley that is more diverse than some of its elite neighbors.

    Thin and quiet with a shy smile, Vishal passed the admissions test for a prestigious public elementary and middle school. Until sixth grade, he focused on homework, regularly going to the house of a good friend to study with him.

    But Vishal and his family say two things changed around the seventh grade: his mother went back to work, and he got a computer. He became increasingly engrossed in games and surfing the Internet, finding an easy outlet for what he describes as an inclination to procrastinate.

    "I realized there were choices," Vishal recalls. "Homework wasn't the only option."

    Several recent studies show that young people tend to use home computers for entertainment, not learning, and that this can hurt school performance, particularly in low-income families. Jacob L. Vigdor, an economics professor at Duke University who led some of the research, said that when adults were not supervising computer use, children "are left to their own devices, and the impetus isn't to do homework but play around."

    Research also shows that students often juggle homework and entertainment. The Kaiser Family Foundation found earlier this year that half of students from 8 to 18 are using the Internet, watching TV or using some other form of media either "most" (31 percent) or "some" (25 percent) of the time that they are doing homework.

    At Woodside, as elsewhere, students' use of technology is not uniform. Mr. Reilly, the principal, says their choices tend to reflect their personalities. Social butterflies tend to be heavy texters and Facebook users. Students who are less social might escape into games, while drifters or those prone to procrastination, like Vishal, might surf the Web or watch videos.

    The technology has created on campuses a new set of social types -- not the thespian and the jock but the texter and gamer, Facebook addict and YouTube potato.

    "The technology amplifies whoever you are," Mr. Reilly says.

    For some, the amplification is intense. Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. She texts between classes, at the moment soccer practice ends, while being driven to and from school and, often, while studying.

    Most of the exchanges are little more than quick greetings, but they can get more in-depth, like "if someone tells you about a drama going on with someone," Allison said. "I can text one person while talking on the phone to someone else."

    But this proficiency comes at a cost: she blames multitasking for the three B's on her recent progress report.

    "I'll be reading a book for homework and I'll get a text message and pause my reading and put down the book, pick up the phone to reply to the text message, and then 20 minutes later realize, 'Oh, I forgot to do my homework.' "

    Some shyer students do not socialize through technology -- they recede into it. Ramon Ochoa-Lopez, 14, an introvert, plays six hours of video games on weekdays and more on weekends, leaving homework to be done in the bathroom before school.

    Escaping into games can also salve teenagers' age-old desire for some control in their chaotic lives. "It's a way for me to separate myself," Ramon says. "If there's an argument between my mom and one of my brothers, I'll just go to my room and start playing video games and escape."

    With powerful new cellphones, the interactive experience can go everywhere. Between classes at Woodside or at lunch, when use of personal devices is permitted, students gather in clusters, sometimes chatting face to face, sometimes half-involved in a conversation while texting someone across the teeming quad. Others sit alone, watching a video, listening to music or updating Facebook.

    Students say that their parents, worried about the distractions, try to police computer time, but that monitoring the use of cellphones is difficult. Parents may also want to be able to call their children at any time, so taking the phone away is not always an option.

    Other parents wholly embrace computer use, even when it has no obvious educational benefit.

    "If you're not on top of technology, you're not going to be on top of the world," said John McMullen, 56, a retired criminal investigator whose son, Sean, is one of five friends in the group Vishal joins for lunch each day.

    Sean's favorite medium is video games; he plays for four hours after school and twice that on weekends. He was playing more but found his habit pulling his grade point average below 3.2, the point at which he felt comfortable. He says he sometimes wishes that his parents would force him to quit playing and study, because he finds it hard to quit when given the choice. Still, he says, video games are not responsible for his lack of focus, asserting that in another era he would have been distracted by TV or something else.

    "Video games don't make the hole; they fill it," says Sean, sitting at a picnic table in the quad, where he is surrounded by a multimillion-dollar view: on the nearby hills are the evergreens that tower above the affluent neighborhoods populated by Internet tycoons. Sean, a senior, concedes that video games take a physical toll: "I haven't done exercise since my sophomore year. But that doesn't seem like a big deal. I still look the same."

    Sam Crocker, Vishal's closest friend, who has straight A's but lower SAT scores than he would like, blames the Internet's distractions for his inability to finish either of his two summer reading books.

    "I know I can read a book, but then I'm up and checking Facebook," he says, adding: "Facebook is amazing because it feels like you're doing something and you're not doing anything. It's the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway."

    He concludes: "My attention span is getting worse."

    The lure of distraction

    Some neuroscientists have been studying people like Sam and Vishal. They have begun to understand what happens to the brains of young people who are constantly online and in touch.

    In an experiment at the German Sport University in Cologne in 2007, boys from 12 to 14 spent an hour each night playing video games after they finished homework.

    On alternate nights, the boys spent an hour watching an exciting movie, like "Harry Potter" or "Star Trek," rather than playing video games. That allowed the researchers to compare the effect of video games and TV.

    The researchers looked at how the use of these media affected the boys' brainwave patterns while sleeping and their ability to remember their homework in the subsequent days. They found that playing video games led to markedly lower sleep quality than watching TV, and also led to a "significant decline" in the boys' ability to remember vocabulary words. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

    Markus Dworak, a researcher who led the study and is now a neuroscientist at Harvard, said it was not clear whether the boys' learning suffered because sleep was disrupted or, as he speculates, also because the intensity of the game experience overrode the brain's recording of the vocabulary.

    "When you look at vocabulary and look at huge stimulus after that, your brain has to decide which information to store," he said. "Your brain might favor the emotionally stimulating information over the vocabulary."

    At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory.

    In that vein, recent imaging studies of people have found that major cross sections of the brain become surprisingly active during downtime. These brain studies suggest to researchers that periods of rest are critical in allowing the brain to synthesize information, make connections between ideas and even develop the sense of self.

    Researchers say these studies have particular implications for young people, whose brains have more trouble focusing and setting priorities.

    "Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body," said Dr. Rich of Harvard Medical School. "But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation."

    "The headline is: bring back boredom," added Dr. Rich, who last month gave a speech to the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled, "Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming Childhood from the River of Electronic Screens."

    Dr. Rich said in an interview that he was not suggesting young people should toss out their devices, but rather that they embrace a more balanced approach to what he said were powerful tools necessary to compete and succeed in modern life.

    The heavy use of devices also worries Daniel Anderson, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who is known for research showing that children are not as harmed by TV viewing as some researchers have suggested.

    Multitasking using ubiquitous, interactive and highly stimulating computers and phones, Professor Anderson says, appears to have a more powerful effect than TV.

    Like Dr. Rich, he says he believes that young, developing brains are becoming habituated to distraction and to switching tasks, not to focus.

    "If you've grown up processing multiple media, that's exactly the mode you're going to fall into when put in that environment -- you develop a need for that stimulation," he said.

    Vishal can attest to that.

    "I'm doing Facebook, YouTube, having a conversation or two with a friend, listening to music at the same time. I'm doing a million things at once, like a lot of people my age," he says. "Sometimes I'll say: I need to stop this and do my schoolwork, but I can't."

    "If it weren't for the Internet, I'd focus more on school and be doing better academically," he says. But thanks to the Internet, he says, he has discovered and pursued his passion: filmmaking. Without the Internet, "I also wouldn't know what I want to do with my life."

    Clicking toward a future

    The woman sits in a cemetery at dusk, sobbing. Behind her, silhouetted and translucent, a man kneels, then fades away, a ghost.

    This captivating image appears on Vishal's computer screen. On this Thursday afternoon in late September, he is engrossed in scenes he shot the previous weekend for a music video he is making with his cousin.

    The video is based on a song performed by the band Guns N' Roses about a woman whose boyfriend dies. He wants it to be part of the package of work he submits to colleges that emphasize film study, along with a documentary he is making about home-schooled students.

    Now comes the editing. Vishal taught himself to use sophisticated editing software in part by watching tutorials on YouTube. He does not leave his chair for more than two hours, sipping Pepsi, his face often inches from the screen, as he perfects the clip from the cemetery. The image of the crying woman was shot separately from the image of the kneeling man, and he is trying to fuse them.

    "I'm spending two hours to get a few seconds just right," he says.

    He occasionally sends a text message or checks Facebook, but he is focused in a way he rarely is when doing homework. He says the chief difference is that filmmaking feels applicable to his chosen future, and he hopes colleges, like the University of Southern California or the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, will be so impressed by his portfolio that they will overlook his school performance.

    "This is going to compensate for the grades," he says. On this day, his homework includes a worksheet for Latin, some reading for English class and an economics essay, but they can wait.

    For Vishal, there's another clear difference between filmmaking and homework: interactivity. As he edits, the windows on the screen come alive; every few seconds, he clicks the mouse to make tiny changes to the lighting and flow of the images, and the software gives him constant feedback.

    "I click and something happens," he says, explaining that, by comparison, reading a book or doing homework is less exciting. "I guess it goes back to the immediate gratification thing."

    The $2,000 computer Vishal is using is state of the art and only a week old. It represents a concession by his parents. They allowed him to buy it, despite their continuing concerns about his technology habits, because they wanted to support his filmmaking dream. "If we put roadblocks in his way, he's just going to get depressed," his mother says. Besides, she adds, "he's been making an effort to do his homework."

    At this point in the semester, it seems she is right. The first schoolwide progress reports come out in late September, and Vishal has mostly A's and B's. He says he has been able to make headway by applying himself, but also by cutting back his workload. Unlike last year, he is not taking advanced placement classes, and he has chosen to retake Algebra II not in the classroom but in an online class that lets him work at his own pace.

    His shift to easier classes might not please college admissions officers, according to Woodside's college adviser, Zorina Matavulj. She says they want seniors to intensify their efforts. As it is, she says, even if Vishal improves his performance significantly, someone with his grades faces long odds in applying to the kinds of colleges he aspires to.

    Still, Vishal's passion for film reinforces for Mr. Reilly, the principal, that the way to reach these students is on their own terms.

    Hands-on technology

    Big Macintosh monitors sit on every desk, and a man with hip glasses and an easygoing style stands at the front of the class. He is Geoff Diesel, 40, a favorite teacher here at Woodside who has taught English and film. Now he teaches one of Mr. Reilly's new classes, audio production. He has a rapt audience of more than 20 students as he shows a video of the band Nirvana mixing their music, then holds up a music keyboard.

    "Who knows how to use Pro Tools? We've got it. It's the program used by the best music studios in the world," he says.

    In the back of the room, Mr. Reilly watches, thrilled. He introduced the audio course last year and enough students signed up to fill four classes. (He could barely pull together one class when he introduced Mandarin, even though he had secured iPads to help teach the language.)

    "Some of these students are our most at-risk kids," he says. He means that they are more likely to tune out school, skip class or not do their homework, and that they may not get healthful meals at home. They may also do their most enthusiastic writing not for class but in text messages and on Facebook. "They're here, they're in class, they're listening."

    Despite Woodside High's affluent setting, about 40 percent of its 1,800 students come from low-income families and receive a reduced-cost or free lunch. The school is 56 percent Latino, 38 percent white and 5 percent African-American, and it sends 93 percent of its students to four-year or community colleges.

    Mr. Reilly says that the audio class provides solid vocational training and can get students interested in other subjects.

    "Today mixing music, tomorrow sound waves and physics," he says. And he thinks the key is that they love not just the music but getting their hands on the technology. "We're meeting them on their turf."

    It does not mean he sees technology as a panacea. "I'll always take one great teacher in a cave over a dozen Smart Boards," he says, referring to the high-tech teaching displays used in many schools.

    Teachers at Woodside commonly blame technology for students' struggles to concentrate, but they are divided over whether embracing computers is the right solution.

    "It's a catastrophe," said Alan Eaton, a charismatic Latin teacher. He says that technology has led to a "balkanization of their focus and duration of stamina," and that schools make the problem worse when they adopt the technology.

    "When rock 'n' roll came about, we didn't start using it in classrooms like we're doing with technology," he says. He personally feels the sting, since his advanced classes have one-third as many students as they had a decade ago.

    Vishal remains a Latin student, one whom Mr. Eaton describes as particularly bright. But the teacher wonders if technology might be the reason Vishal seems to lose interest in academics the minute he leaves class.

    Mr. Diesel, by contrast, does not think technology is behind the problems of Vishal and his schoolmates -- in fact, he thinks it is the key to connecting with them, and an essential tool. "It's in their DNA to look at screens," he asserts. And he offers another analogy to explain his approach: "Frankenstein is in the room and I don't want him to tear me apart. If I'm not using technology, I lose them completely."

    Mr. Diesel had Vishal as a student in cinema class and describes him as a "breath of fresh air" with a gift for filmmaking. Mr. Diesel says he wonders if Vishal is a bit like Woody Allen, talented but not interested in being part of the system.

    But Mr. Diesel adds: "If Vishal's going to be an independent filmmaker, he's got to read Vonnegut. If you're going to write scripts, you've got to read."

    Back to reading aloud

    Vishal sits near the back of English IV. Marcia Blondel, a veteran teacher, asks the students to open the book they are studying, "The Things They Carried," which is about the Vietnam War.

    "Who wants to read starting in the middle of Page 137?" she asks. One student begins to read aloud, and the rest follow along.

    To Ms. Blondel, the exercise in group reading represents a regression in American education and an indictment of technology. The reason she has to do it, she says, is that students now lack the attention span to read the assignments on their own.

    "How can you have a discussion in class?" she complains, arguing that she has seen a considerable change in recent years. In some classes she can count on little more than one-third of the students to read a 30-page homework assignment.

    She adds: "You can't become a good writer by watching YouTube, texting and e-mailing a bunch of abbreviations."

    As the group-reading effort winds down, she says gently: "I hope this will motivate you to read on your own."

    It is a reminder of the choices that have followed the students through the semester: computer or homework? Immediate gratification or investing in the future?

    Mr. Reilly hopes that the two can meet -- that computers can be combined with education to better engage students and can give them technical skills without compromising deep analytical thought.

    But in Vishal's case, computers and schoolwork seem more and more to be mutually exclusive. Ms. Blondel says that Vishal, after a decent start to the school year, has fallen into bad habits. In October, he turned in weeks late, for example, a short essay based on the first few chapters of "The Things They Carried." His grade at that point, she says, tracks around a D.

    For his part, Vishal says he is investing himself more in his filmmaking, accelerating work with his cousin on their music video project. But he is also using Facebook late at night and surfing for videos on YouTube. The evidence of the shift comes in a string of Facebook updates.


    by Matt Richtel, New York Times
    Source;http://www.ndtv.com/article/technology/growing-up-digital-wired-for-distraction-67640[i]
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:22 pm

    Very little thought is given to the amount of em radiation we are subjected to just in the course of ordinary daily life. This study suggests we need to pay much more attention to this issue.

    Wi-Fi Makes Trees Sick, Study Says

    Editorial note: A Dutch agency that looks into the health effects of electromagnetic radiation issued a statement that the results of the research described in this story were unconfirmed. "Based on the information now available [it] can not be concluded that the Wi-Fi radio signals leads to damage to trees or other plants," it said, according to a Google translation.

    Radiation from Wi-Fi networks is harmful to trees, causing significant variations in growth, as well as bleeding and fissures in the bark, according to a recent study in the Netherlands.

    All deciduous trees in the Western world are affected, according to the study by Wageningen University. The city of Alphen aan den Rijn ordered the study five years ago after officials found unexplained abnormalities on trees that couldn't be ascribed to a virus or bacterial infection.

    Additional testing found the disease to occur throughout the Western world. In the Netherlands, about 70 percent of all trees in urban areas show the same symptoms, compared with only 10 percent five years ago. Trees in densely forested areas are hardly affected.

    Besides the electromagnetic fields created by mobile-phone networks and wireless LANs, ultrafine particles emitted by cars and trucks may also be to blame. These particles are so small they are able to enter the organisms.

    The study exposed 20 ash trees to various radiation sources for a period of three months. Trees placed closest to the Wi-Fi radio demonstrated a "lead-like shine" on their leaves that was caused by the dying of the upper and lower epidermis of the leaves. This would eventually result in the death of parts of the leaves. The study also found that Wi-Fi radiation could inhibit the growth of corn cobs.

    The researchers urged that further studies were needed to confirm the current results and determine long-term effects of wireless radiation on trees.

    Source;
    http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/211219/wifi_makes_trees_sick_study_says.html?tk=mod_rel[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:17 pm

    All the Climate Change Deniers better buckle up we are in for a very scary ride, in part because they have attempted to block all rational response to this issue. SR reader and Greenpeace co-founder, Rex Wyler, writes about one aspect of this change that is already impacting the world's cities.


    Deep Green: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities

    Deep Green is Rex Weyler's monthly column, reflecting on the roots of activism, environmentalism, and Greenpeace's past, present, and future. The opinions here are his own.

    November 2010

    Cities at sea level around the world – including Bangkok, New Orleans, Shanghai and Amsterdam – are bracing themselves for rising seas and sinking ground. Populations on river deltas, atolls and islands face flooding and displacement. Sea-level rise accumulates slowly, measured in millimetres a year, but the incremental pace can deceive us. Sea-level rise, particularly when combined with sinking land, presents a growing problem.

    Consider that the rate of sea-level rise is itself rising. Sea rise remained virtually zero over the last several millennia. Then, in the 20th century, the sea rose about 20 centimeters. Now, today, the rate has reached about 30 centimeters per century, and still increasing. Recently, oceanographers have boosted their predictions of 21st century sea level rise from about 20 centimetres to a metre or more.

    Sea-level rise is not uniform around the world. Gravitational forces, including the gravity of ice caps themselves, cause uneven fluctuations. Meanwhile, some coastal plains sink as others rise, so exaggerating sea-level rise in some regions and cancelling it in others. Furthermore, if humanity cannot change its hydrocarbon habits quickly enough, we risk runaway warming that could accelerate sea-level rise.

    In an extreme runaway scenario, a complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet would add 7 metres to the world’s oceans, and a complete melting of the Antarctic sheet would add 60 metres. Those scenarios would require a massive restructuring of human civilisation as we know it. However, even a one-to-two metre rise in sea level will inundate certain port cities, islands, atolls, flood deltas and coastal plains, obliterate vulnerable species and displace millions of people.

    Sea changes in history

    Earth’s coastal plains and inland seas have dried out and flooded many times. Historically, sea-level changes disrupt marine shallows, intertidal zones and coastal ecosystems - the most productive habitats - leading to substantial species loss. About 235 million years ago a massive ecosystem collapse, associated with warming and sea rise, obliterated 95% of all living species, the greatest diversity loss event in Earth history. Sixty-five million years ago a meteorite struck the Gulf of Mexico region and initiated a long cooling trend. As water froze, the sea level dropped and 75% of all species, including the dinosaurs on land, perished.

    Over the last 20 million years, during the Miocene period, the Mediterranean basin dried and flooded several times. The basin finally filled with a catastrophic flood about 5.3 million years ago, when human ancestors Kenyapithecus and ‘Toumaï’ (Sahelanthropus tchadensis) roamed the forests of east Africa.

    Later floods affected human settlements. During the most recent glacial maximum, 20,000 years ago, sea levels dropped about 125 metres. The Mediterranean basin partially dried and was re-flooded in about 16,000 BCE. The Caspian and Black Seas may have flooded later, about 13,000 BCE, from melting Scandinavia ice sheets. The Black Sea likely flooded twice again about 10,000 and 7,600 years ago as the world’s oceans rose.

    The Dogger Banks and other shallows around Britain and Ireland were dry lowlands during the last glaciation. The plains provided reindeer for human hunters and a land link from the European mainland to the British Isles. Human encampments have been identified on the ocean floor. During the post-glacial melt, sea water and fresh water from ice-dammed lakes flooded Doggerland and separated Britain and Ireland from Europe.

    The lower Tigris-Euphrates valley also flooded during the post-glacial melt under the rising Persian Gulf. Lowlands around Indonesia, Australia, New Guinea and East Asia also flooded. Many of these floods submerged human settlements and hunting regions, likely inspiring the universal deluge and flood stories found in most human cultures. There may be a thousand submerged Atlantis-like cities, still undiscovered, and there may be more in the future.

    Modern sea rise


    August 11 2010: After breaking off the Petermann Glacier six days earlier, a massive ice island floats slowly down the fjord toward the Nares Strait.
    Scientists warn that loss of the ice from this glacier is almost certain to speed up the rate at which ice from the Greenland icesheet melts into our oceans. Image: NASA


    After the last ice age, as Earth warmed, melting ice raised sea levels by an average of about one metre a century, peaked at four metres a century, until about 7,000 years ago when Earth’s sea level stabilised. During the 2,000 years between 200 BCE and the year 1800, Earth’s sea level only rose about 20 centimetres, one centimetre a century, not enough to disrupt human coastal settlements.

    However, after 1800 - during a century of human hydrocarbon industrialisation - the seas rose ten times faster, 10 centimetres a century. In the 20th century, this rate doubled to 20 centimetres, and now stands at 30 centimetres a century, 30 times faster than any period during the previous 7,000 years prior to 1800.

    The rate of sea rise continues to increase, and this acceleration makes predictions challenging. We do not know how fast the sea may rise in the future. Most oceanographers last century believed the rise would be about 20 centimetres a century. By 2007, the IPCC assumed an average rate during the 21st century of 50 centimetres. Oceanographers now estimate that the seas will rise between one and two metres this century.

    But we must keep in mind that the seas won’t suddenly stop rising in 2100, and the rate could be much higher by then. Sea-level change follows what mathematicians refer to as ‘compound integration’. First, human carbon emissions drive temperature change, which in turn melts ice and drives sea-level change. This double integration means that there could be a centuries-long lag between the initial carbon emissions and the final sea-level effect.

    Furthermore, global heating from greenhouse gasses can be jolted by non-linear effects, dramatic jumps in impact from relatively small carbon emissions. One such non-linear effect is dynamic ice response, whereby melting creates cavities in ice sheets that increase the melt rate. Other ‘runaway’ factors include methane released from permafrost, the reflective power of water versus ice, forests dying in the heat, and so forth. If humanity triggers runaway global warming, then Earth could enter a long warming period independent of human mitigation efforts. If such a heating period melts the world’s glaciers and both poles, the seas would rise by some 70 metres, creating another thousand Atlantises and a billion displaced people.

    Sinking Cities Today

    Anjana Koyal lives in Satjellia island, India and is one of the many people affected by sea level rise: "I am a student and my school is flooded with water.
    There are too many mosquitoes, flies, and a bad smells comes from the water." Image: Peter Caton / Greenpeace


    The Netherlands land base is sinking, as deep mantle rock flows from this region, adding to the effect of sea-level rise. Amsterdam sits four metres below sea level. The Dutch Veerman Committee for coastal maintenance expects the sea level to rise between 65 and 130 centimetres over the next century, requiring a billion-euro annual budget in coastal maintenance and dam construction. Each year, crews deposit some 14 million cubic metres of sand on the intertidal zones just to combat erosion.

    Other cities, such as Houston, Texas and Shanghai, China, battle rising seas and sinking ground caused by human activity. Houston is sinking from both groundwater and oil extraction, which undermines the coastal substrate foundation. Shanghai, on the Yangtze River delta, grew from a fishing village to a city of over 20 million people. The city is simply too heavy for its swampland foundation. Aggravated by water extraction, the city sank 2.5 metres between 1921 and 1965, and continues to sink. According to China's State Oceanic Administration, ‘Sea level rises worldwide cannot be reversed’ so China must ‘adapt to the change’ by building levees and dykes.

    A topographical study at the University of Colorado, concluded that ‘most of the world’s low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity ... putting tens of millions of people at risk’. Vulnerable river deltas include the Ganges-Brahmaputra in Bangladesh, Pearl River in China, and the Mekong in Vietnam, and 24 of the worlds’ 33 major deltas. Regions such as Florida, Belize, the Bahamas and the Maldives, and cities such as Trieste, Bangkok and Dacca, also remain vulnerable.

    Sinking cities and rising seas are symptoms of unsustainable human activity and habitat overshoot. Humanity has grown beyond the biological and physical limits of its Earth habitat. These limits manifest as global warming, rising seas, sinking cities, drained aquifers, disappearing species, dying forests, human starvation and islands of floating plastic.

    Meanwhile, the cost of adapting – billions of dollars for new levees, dams and climate change mitigation – demands scarce resources that are needed to expand education, food production and social services. To meet the costs of adaption, industrial nations will push their economies to grow, adding to the root problem of habitat overshoot. Every millimetre of rising sea water, every drop of water from the melting ice, is a message from Earth to humanity.

    -Rex Weyler
    October 2010


    Source:
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/deep-green-rising-seas-sinking-cities/blog/28416#[i]

    Note~ Here is the real world result Rex Wyler was writing about ~ Earlier this year before moving out west, i paid a visit to the Eastern Shore of Virginia
    (Chincoteague-Assateague Islands) area~ i had a realization then~ this fragile land was not long in remaining in its current existence.

    Front-Line City in Virginia Tackles Rise in Sea
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/sc...ef=todayspaper
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:09 am

    Yet another indicator of the decay of American infrastructure: "According to Akamai's Q3 State of the Internet report, the United States' Internet speed did not qualify for a place in the top 10 list of countries with the fastest Internet in the world, and its average overall speed has actually decreased by 2.4% year-over-year from 2008 to 2009." http://mashable.com/2010/01/16/united-states-internet-speed/. This article is talking about 100 megabit, the average in the U.S. is 3.9 megabit, and there are still large sections of the country operating at old-fashioned dial-up speeds, much slower than that.

    The United States actually ranked 18 out of the 203 nations tested in terms of average connection speeds, falling behind speed leaders like South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.



    'Fourth generation' Internet arrives in Hong Kong
    Fri Nov 26,2010

    HONG KONG (AFP) – The latest generation of wireless Internet that will allow people to watch a crystal clear movie or live sporting event on the street or atop a hill is being deployed throughout Hong Kong.

    The Long Term Evolution (LTE) network will give super high speeds across the city and could mean the end of computers ever needing to be plugged into a wall for a connection to the net.

    The so-called "fourth generation" system is being rolled out by Hong Kong mobile network operator CSL in partnership with telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corporation.

    "The first launch of an LTE network any place in Asia is truly historic," Joseph O'Konek, CSL's chief executive, told AFP.

    "For a lot of people, this will be their first experience of the Internet. They are at a huge advantage to previous Internet generations because they are leapfrogging all those fixed line technologies.

    "It is truly going to unleash the power of human networks as this kind of system rolls out more and more across the world."

    LTE enables faster data downloads and uploads on mobile devices compared with a third-generation network.

    The system will give speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and should make the high quality viewing of full length movies or realtime live sporting events possible anywhere in the city.

    LTE networks are already operating in Europe, Scandinavia and North America. Japan will have an LTE system before the end of the year and huge growth in LTE connections is expected over the next five years, especially in China.

    Meanwhile CSL's owner, the Australian telecoms giant Telstra, said it is looking to make acquisitions to strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific region.

    "Organic growth is always the best growth. But you do need to acquire new technology that's going to allow you to fuel the growth in the future," David Thodey, the company's CEO, told the Wall Street Journal.

    "Sometimes you expand geographically... or sometimes you want to expand your market share. We will be doing all three because it's critically important for a company to keep pushing the limits as you go forward."

    Source;
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101126/tc_afp/hongkongitinternetasia_20101126075024/print[i]
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  Carol on Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:25 pm

    This is a really informative thread giovonni. Thank you for taking the time to put it all togehter.


    _________________
    What is life?
    It is the flash of a firefly in the night, the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

    With deepest respect ~ Aloha & Mahalo, Carol
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:08 pm

    Hmmm
    I found this trend quite revealing. Not only for the points listed but for a point not noted: To think this way one has to have the capacity to spend between $11,000 to $18,000 a month from one's cash flow and be unconcerned there is no return. It also says that real estate at that level was hyper-inflated and is dropping so fast renting seems the better choice.


    Rich Americans Ditch Home Ownership For Renting



    This town house in Marin County, Calif. is renting for $7,000 a month. It has San Francisco and bay views.


    By: Joseph Pisani
    Published: Friday, 26 Nov 2010

    Patrick Lee went from homeowner to home renter this year.

    It may sound like a downgrade, but the New Yorker didn't make the switch because he couldn't keep up with payments or because he lost his job. Instead, Lee was nervous about the state of the housing market.

    So in March he sold the Manhattan apartment he bought in 2008 for about the same price he paid and moved — along with his wife and child — a few steps away into a luxury, two-bedroom rental unit in a brand new building.

    Lee wouldn't disclose what he's paying, but similar two-bedroom apartments in the building usually rent for $11,000 a month.

    “I wanted to protect ourselves from prices going down,” says Lee, who is a managing director at a major bank. “I didn’t want to be an owner anymore.”

    Lee has company. Demand for luxury rental units has increased as wealthier individuals who can afford to buy are deciding not to, according to brokers and real estate analysts in affluent areas of the country such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.

    “More affluent Americans are opting to rent as oppose to buy,” says Jack McCabe, an independent real estate analyst and CEO of McCabe Research and Consulting in Deerfield Beach, Fla. “Within the last year, so many people have seen their family and friends get burned in real estate. They don’t see it as being a risk free investment as they used to.”

    And they're paying top dollar to rent.

    In Manhattan the demand for high-end rentals has never been hotter. In the third quarter of 2010 there were 200 new leases signed for rentals charging $10,000 a month and up, more than double the 89 leases signed the year before, according to Jonathan Miller, CEO and president of New York City-based real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel.

    What’s considered luxury in New York City? Currently on the market now at The Corner, Lee's new address, are a couple of three-bedroom apartments ranging from $14,800-$20,000 a month. At The Anthrop, another luxury building in Manhattan, a 3,331-square-foot four bedroom unit rents for $18,000.

    Miller says that while high-end sales have picked up recently in Manhattan, the increased demand for luxury rentals shows that more would-be buyers are concerned and taking the “wait and see approach.”

    The demand is also being seen in Marin County, right across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

    Last year, the phones at Foundation Rentals & Relocation office were ringing constantly with high-end homeowners wanting to rent property that they couldn’t sell, but no one was interested in renting them.

    Now the firm is getting calls from executives, especially in the technology sector, looking to move into a rental.

    “They’re entrepreneurs. They would rather put their cash in their business,” says Darcy Barrow, who founded the firm with her husband Christopher Barrow.

    “And get a greater return,” adds Christopher.

    This year, the firm handled a rental house with an 8-car garage for $12,500 a month. Another 6,500-square-foot, five-bedroom home is renting for $11,900. They also have a 2,658-square-foot town house on the market, boasting views of San Francisco for $7,000 a month.

    “When I tell people I rent homes for $10,000, people ask, ‘Why would anybody rent at that price?,’” says Darcy. “They’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Just because they choose to rent, doesn’t mean they’re going to rent a two bedroom.”

    In Chicago, Aaron Galvin, the broker and owner of rental agency Luxury Living Chicago, says that he has rented 30 percent more luxury apartments in 2010 than last year.

    Luxury in Chicago means anything over $3,000 a month, and a building with amenities like granite kitchen counters, stainless steel appliances and washing machines and dryers in the unit, says Galvin.


    Three bedrooms at The Corner in New York City go for $14,800-$20,000 a month.

    A recent client sold a multi-million dollar home in the suburbs to move into a rental building, waiting to buy a property until she got a feel for the neighborhood.

    “The cachet that came with owning seems to be gone now,” he says.

    The same is happening in south Florida.

    Chris Wells, a broker working in the Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Coconut Cove area, says he has seen “skepticism” from would-be buyers, who ultimately decide to rent a home before making a purchase, easily spending about $8,000 to $15,000 a month, because they are waiting to see if home prices continue to fall.

    “In Florida, we’re really not out of the recession yet,” says McCabe, the analyst. “There is no urgency to buy.”

    Lee says that he’s the first of his peers to make the switch to renting. But that doesn't mean they don't want to.

    “I suspect a lot of people are underwater and can’t get out,” says Lee. “A lot of people are just stuck.”

    He says he doesn’t regret selling his apartment and moving to a rental, especially since the building he lives in has all the amenities and handiwork of his previous place. And he can rest easier knowing that if he has to relocate for his job, he can leave without having the burden of trying to sell an apartment.

    “With so much uncertainty,” says Lee, “It gives me a lot of peace of mind.”

    Source;
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/40260336
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:54 pm

    It's so simple. So why aren't we doing it? The answer is we seem to have lost the capacity to think in terms of what would make a happy functional society. Instead, we only consider short-term profit, which benefits only a tiny percentage of the population.
    Thanks to Kevin Kelley.


    China's Ban Kept 100 Billion Plastic Bags Out of the Trash
    by Brian Merchant


    11.30. 2010



    It's so simple -- so gloriously simple. In 2008, China instated a law that made it illegal for stores to give out plastic bags for free. Instead, shop owners were required to charge for the bags, and allowed to keep any profit they made for themselves. The results? After two years, the poorly-enforced law has nonetheless dropped plastic bag consumption by a whopping 50% -- keeping an estimated 100 billion plastic bags out of the landfills.

    It's a beautiful demonstration of how a simple piece of policy can achieve big results -- while keeping everyone (except perhaps the plastic bag manufacturers) happy. Small business owners make a small additional profit, consumers learn to reuse bags, and the environment, of course, emerges the biggest winner of all.

    GOOD points to a Chinese student's research on the ban, and how it impacted consumer behavior. Here are his findings:

    Consumers in Beijing and Guiyang used an average of 21 new plastic bags weekly before the bag-fee ordinance was passed in June, 2008, and rarely used the same bag twice. But after the law was imposed, consumption dropped 49 percent and nearly half of the bags were re-used. While that represents a significant reduction, researchers say there is much room for improvement, especially when it comes to enforcement. Months after the law was enacted, the researchers say, nearly 60 percent of all plastic bags were still given away free.

    So the law is impressively effective even with piss-poor enforcement. I'll turn to GOOD's Andrew Price for the takeaway: "After its first year, The Guardian reported the ban had saved the country 40 billion plastic bags. By now the cumulative number of bags saved is probably more like 100 billion, and if the law were enforced well, it'd be a lot higher." Yes indeed -- with those kinds of results, seems it's high time we started pushing a little harder for similar policy models (we already have some cities that charge a tax for plastic bags) here in the states.

    More on Plastic Bag Bans
    As U.S. Cities Waver on Plastic Bag Tax, China's Bag Ban Saved 1.6 Tons of Waste
    Plastic Bag Bans Sweep Cities Across Nation
    60000 Plastic Bags are Being Used This Second: Help Slow it Down

    Source TreeHuggers
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/11/china-ban-kept-100-billion-plastic-bags-out-trash.php[i]
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:31 pm

    Annoyed

    The country is coming unglued and the patriotic Republicans have decided, as Senator Mitch McConnell says quite blatantly, that their uppermost priority is to make sure Obama is a one term President. Forget about food programs for children, unemployment extension, and on and on. Forget about anything constructive. The argument that extending tax cuts for the wealthy because this will create jobs does not pass the smell test -- as the Congressional Budget Office said explicitly. If you voted for a Republican and you are not a millionaire you voted against your own self-interest, and against the well-being of your country. And let me also say that I think the Democrats, including the President, have been astonishingly pusillanimous.

    SENATE
    GOP Will Filibuster All Bills if Taxes, Budget Not Addressed

    "We will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item," their letter to Reid says.


    Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and all of the Senate's Republicans are pledging to stop the chamber from moving ahead on other priorities.

    All 42 Senate Republicans have signed a letter refusing to vote for cloture on any bill before the Senate until the federal government is funded beyond this week and the Bush-era income tax cuts are addressed before they expire December 31.

    “We write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers,” said the letter, which was sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this morning.

    While Congress is expected to clear a short-term extension of federal funding today or tomorrow, the letter derails chances for relatively quick passage of bills Democrats are considering taking up before addressing the tax cuts. The two most prominent are a defense authorization that includes a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military and the Dream Act, giving some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children a path to legal residence.

    Reid was weighing action on both those bills before a final deal on the so-called Bush tax cuts. But with 42 votes, Republicans appear poised to successfully filibuster them.

    “The true effect of this letter is to prevent the Senate from acting on many important issues that have bipartisan support,” Reid said this morning on the Senate floor. He said the letter codifies a GOP strategy of delaying action “on critical matters, then blaming the Democrats for not addressing the needs of the American people. Very cynical, but very obvious, very transparent.”

    Reid said he is also lining up action on a labor-backed bill to guarantee collective bargaining rights to first responders, such as police and firefighters, and a bill to extend health care coverage and compensation to people who worked in the World Trade Center ruins after 9/11 and since became sick. He said he plans to file cloture on the bills and the Dream Act at the same time later this week.

    But he acknowledged the Republican letter means those votes will fail. “Passing either will require Republican votes,” Reid said.

    The bills could still move after completion of a tax deal, if that occurs, but the move by the GOP complicates that plan.

    Source;
    http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/gop-will-filibuster-all-bills-if-taxes-budget-not-addressed-20101201

    By Dan Friedman
    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | 9:53 a.m.
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:31 pm

    OMG!pale

    "The American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed's multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America."
    Sen. Bernard Sanders Independent the State of Vermont


    Fed aid in financial crisis went beyond U.S. banks to industry, foreign firms



    By Jia Lynn Yang, Neil Irwin and David S. Hilzenrath
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, December 2, 2010; 12:15 AM

    The financial crisis stretched even farther across the economy than many had realized, as new disclosures show the Federal Reserve rushed trillions of dollars in emergency aid not just to Wall Street but also to motorcycle makers, telecom firms and foreign-owned banks in 2008 and 2009.

    The Fed's efforts to prop up the financial sector reached across a broad spectrum of the economy, benefiting stalwarts of American industry including General Electric and Caterpillar and household-name companies such as Verizon, Harley-Davidson and Toyota. The central bank's aid programs also supported U.S. subsidiaries of banks based in East Asia, Europe and Canada while rescuing money-market mutual funds held by millions of Americans.

    The biggest users of the Fed lending programs were some of the world's largest banks, including Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Swiss-based UBS and Britain's Barclays, according to more than 21,000 loan records released Wednesday under new financial regulatory legislation.

    The data reveal banks turning to the Fed for help almost daily in the fall of 2008 as the central bank lowered lending standards and extended relief to all kinds of institutions it had never assisted before.

    Fed officials emphasize that their actions were meant to stabilize a financial system that was on the verge of collapse in late 2008. They note that the actions worked to prevent a complete financial meltdown and that none of the special lending programs has lost money. (Some have recorded healthy profits for taxpayers.)

    But the extent of the lending to major banks - and the generous terms of some of those deals - heighten the political peril for a central bank that is already under the gun for a wide range of actions, including a recent decision to try to stimulate the economy by buying $600 billion in U.S. bonds.

    "The American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed's multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America," said Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime Fed critic whose provision in the Wall Street regulatory overhaul required the new disclosures. "Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations. As a result of this disclosure, other members of Congress and I will be taking a very extensive look at all aspects of how the Federal Reserve functions."

    The Fed launched emergency programs totaling $3.3 trillion in aid, a figure reached by adding up the peak amount of lending in each program.

    Companies that few people would associate with Wall Street benefited through the Fed's program to ease the market for commercial paper, a form of short-term debt used by major corporations to fund their daily activities.

    By the fall of 2008, credit had frozen across the financial system, including the commercial paper market. The Fed then purchased commercial paper issued by GE 12 times for a total of $16 billion. It bought paper from Harley-Davidson 33 times, for a total of $2.3 billion. It picked up debt issued by Verizon twice, totaling $1.5 billion.

    "It is hard to say what would have happened without the facility, and how its absence might have affected GE, but overall the program was extremely effective in helping stabilize the market," GE spokesman Russell Wilkerson said by e-mail.

    Verizon spokesman Robert A. Varettoni said that it was "an extraordinary time," adding that there was no credit available otherwise at the time.

    The data revealed that the Fed continued making purchases into the summer of 2009 - after the official end of the recession - showing that it was still concerned about a fundamental part of the financial system even as economic growth was returning.

    The disclosure shows "how really profound the financial crisis was in the fall of 2008 and the firepower the Fed mustered in response," said analyst Karen Shaw Petrou of Federal Financial Analytics.

    Foreign-owned banks also benefited from the Fed's commercial-paper facility. The Korean Development Bank, owned by the South Korean government, used the program to the tune of billions of dollars, including a $407 million short-term loan on a single day. Many foreign banks, including the French BNP Paribas, the Swiss UBS and the German Deutsche Bank, took extensive advantage of various programs. Even a major bank in Bavaria benefited, as well as another one headquartered in Bahrain, a tiny island country in the Middle East.

    Another Fed program allowed investment banks for the first time to borrow directly from the Fed as officials sought to stem the panic that had taken down Wall Street titan Bear Stearns. The central bank assisted 18 companies through this program. Among the biggest beneficiaries was Citigroup, which in a single day in November 2008 borrowed $18.6 billion from the Fed.

    The data also demonstrate how the Fed, in its scramble to keep the financial system afloat, eventually lowered its standards for the kind of collateral it allowed participating banks to post. From Citigroup, for instance, it accepted $156 million in triple-C collateral or lower - grades that indicate that the assets carried the greatest risk of default.

    Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher defended the Fed's actions during the financial crisis, saying the central bank "stepped into the breach" in its role as a lender of last resort.

    "That's what we are paid to do," he said. "We took an enormous amount of risk with the people's money," he acknowledged. But the crisis lending programs are now all closed, he said, "and we didn't lose a dime, and in fact we made money on every one of them."

    The banks universally hailed the Fed on Wednesday.

    "In late 2008, many of the US funding markets were clearly broken," Goldman Sachs said in a statement, echoing similar comments made by Bank of America and Citigroup. "The Federal Reserve took essential steps to fix these markets and its actions were very successful."

    By 2009, Goldman and other Wall Street firms were reporting their best profits ever. That allowed these banks to pay out huge salaries again, but it also drew the ire of lawmakers and ordinary Americans.

    Sanders, for one, said these banks got off easy while receiving extraordinary aid. In rescuing these firms, the Fed never required them to lend to small businesses, modify the mortgages of homeowners or invest in a way that would create jobs.

    "We bailed these guys out, but the requirements placed upon them had very little positive impact on the needs of ordinary Americans," Sanders said.

    Source;
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/01/AR2010120106870.html [i]
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    giovonni

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:49 pm

    After reading some of the recent 'Wikileaks' cable releases ~ this should not surprise anyone Smirk

    ***

    We have been bungling the geopolitical challenge of North Korea for at least two decades -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- and the story just gets scarier as it goes along.


    What I Found In North Korea
    Pyongyang’s Plutonium is No Longer the Only Problem

    Siegfried S. Hecker
    December 9, 2010


    In November 12, during my most recent visit to the Yongbyon nuclear complex, North Korean scientists showed me and my colleagues, John W. Lewis and Robert Carlin, a small, recently completed, industrial-scale uranium-enrichment facility and an experimental light-water reactor (LWR) under construction.



    I was stunned by the sight of 2,000 centrifuges in two cascade halls and an ultramodern control room. But it was not until the long drive back to Pyongyang that the political implications of these findings hit home. It will be more important than ever to limit Pyongyang's nuclear progress and calm tensions on the Korean peninsula. This is particularly true in light of the clash in the Yellow Sea between the two Koreas late last month.

    Although I and other nonproliferation experts had long believed that North Korea possessed a parallel uranium-enrichment program -- and there was ample evidence for such a belief -- I was amazed by its scale and sophistication. Instead of finding a few dozen first-generation centrifuges, we saw rows of advanced centrifuges, apparently fully operational. Our hosts told us that construction of the centrifuge facility began in April 2009 and was completed a few days before our arrival. That is not credible, however, given the requirements for specialty materials and components, as well as the difficulty of making the centrifuge cascades work smoothly.

    How North Korea managed to obtain all these materials is a troubling question for the global nonproliferation regime. Indeed, there is no evidence that North Korea can produce high-strength aluminum or steel alloys on its own, or that ring magnets, bearings, and vacuum valves were manufactured indigenously.

    The most likely scenario is that the equipment was built and brought into operation over many years at a different location and then moved into the new facility. The items needed to manufacture the centrifuges were likely obtained through North Korea's complex and far-reaching procurement network -- in which Pakistan likely played a significant role. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted in his memoirs that the Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan delivered what amounted to an enrichment starter kit of 24 centrifuges around the year 2000. There were also reports that before A. Q. Khan's house arrest in 2004, North Korean scientists had cooperated closely with the Khan Research Laboratories, which provided hands-on training at their centrifuge facilities. In addition, in late 2001, the CIA reported to Congress that North Korea had attempted to acquire centrifuge-related materials in large quantities from Russia and Germany to support a uranium-enrichment program. It is also quite likely that the North Koreans fabricated at least some of the many components themselves.

    And Washington cannot rule out North Korean cooperation with Iran, since the two have collaborated closely on missile technologies before. North Korea's centrifuge facilities appear to be more sophisticated than what Iran has shown to international inspectors, but it is well known that Tehran is developing next-generation centrifuges. Moreover, North Korea has much greater experience in uranium processing and reactor technologies than Iran, raising concerns that such expertise could flow from Pyongyang to Tehran.

    These findings demonstrate the difficulty of accurately evaluating clandestine uranium-centrifuge programs. The small footprints and signatures of such facilities make assessment problematic. The best indicators of North Korea's progress were its procurement activities and technical cooperation with other countries -- in this case, Pakistan. These markers led the CIA to conclude in 2002 that by mid-decade North Korea could produce two highly enriched uranium (HEU) atomic bombs annually. The George W. Bush administration used this evidence to confront Pyongyang in October 2002 in a manner that led to the termination of the 1994 Agreed Framework, which had foreseen eventual diplomatic normalization in exchange for denuclearization. Terminating the agreement provided North Korea with an excuse to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, reprocess bomb-grade plutonium from the spent uranium fuel rods, and build its first bomb.

    In retrospect, it was not faulty intelligence that led to the disastrous outcome of the October 2002 confrontation but rather the Bush administration's misguided political determination to end the Agreed Framework without preparing for the consequences. At Yongbyon, the North Koreans told us that they will eventually build larger power reactors, and although they anticipate difficulties because the technologies for the reactor and fuel are new to them, they are confident of success. Our Foreign Ministry host reminded us that they had previously threatened to build a LWR and do their own enrichment but that "no one believed us, including you, Dr. Hecker." He made it clear that, in their minds, they had no choice; U.S. actions had pushed them in this direction.

    The existence of a North Korean light-water reactor poses its own set of policy challenges. Pyongyang has seriously pursued LWRs since 1985, when it struck a deal with Moscow to supply two such reactors. The Agreed Framework was an attempt to replace its gas-graphite reactors, which are useful for making bombs but bad for generating electricity. By contrast, LWRs, which are less suitable for bombs, are very good for electricity. Shortly after the North's April 5, 2009, rocket launch and the predictable UN condemnation that followed, an official government press release stated, "We will see a light water reactor, which is vigorously 100 percent running on our own raw materials and technology." Now, as promised, they have started construction on a small, experimental LWR designed to deliver roughly 25 to 30 megawatts of electric power.

    I believe North Korea's expressed interest in nuclear electricity is genuine. Although it is technically possible that the LWR will be used to produce bomb-grade plutonium, such a scenario is unlikely. Plutonium from an LWR is much less suitable for bombs than the plutonium already produced in the existing gas-graphite reactor. In fact, if Pyongyang wanted more plutonium bomb fuel, it would simply restart that reactor, not build an LWR. Still, the construction of the reactor raises a number of policy issues: an LWR requires enriched uranium, and once enrichment capabilities are established for reactor fuel, they can be readily reconfigured to produce HEU bomb fuel -- precisely Washington's concern about Iran's nuclear program.

    In revealing these facilities, Pyongyang is sending a signal that policymakers must take seriously. In this case, the revelation appears to be part of a calculated plan developed around the time of the U.S. presidential transition to proceed with its nuclear program in a way that would influence the diplomatic situation in its favor. After the international community condemned North Korea's April 2009 rocket launch, Pyongyang officially terminated its participation in the six-party talks and conducted a second nuclear test to demonstrate to its own satisfaction and to the world that it had a functioning nuclear device.

    At the same time, the North Koreans designed a small LWR and began building the enrichment facility by tearing down Yongbyon's fuel-rod-fabrication facility and building a centrifuge hall. They timed our visit to show off their completed project. With these moves, Pyongyang managed to justify its need for an enrichment program while moving toward its long-standing ambition of using LWRs for nuclear power.

    The truth is that North Korea has run both plutonium and uranium programs in a dual-use mode -- that is, for bombs and electricity -- from the beginning. It favored the plutonium program for both weapons and electric power in the early 1990s, but it was willing to trade in the plutonium bomb program for electricity from LWRs to be supplied by the United States as part of the Agreed Framework. It appears to have rejuvenated its uranium program for bombs later in the 1990s, when A. Q. Kahn came calling and the Agreed Framework was moving along very slowly. By 2002, much as the intelligence reports indicated, the North was making major procurements of centrifuge materials and components. The October 2002 diplomatic confrontation allowed the North to accelerate the plutonium bomb program in 2003, and subsequent nuclear tests allowed it to demonstrate its success.

    The modern centrifuge facility the North Koreans showed us this time indicates that Pyongyang never gave up on the uranium path to the bomb. The North must have been able to procure enough materials and components, fabricate and assemble them into working centrifuges, get them functioning in an undisclosed facility and then install them in short order at Yongbyon. The centrifuge facility we saw is most likely designed to make reactor, not bomb, fuel, because it would not make sense to construct it in a previously inspected site and show it to foreign visitors. However, it is highly likely that a parallel covert facility capable of HEU production exists elsewhere in the country.

    The question now is how this affects Northeast Asia's security calculus. North Korea already has plutonium -- by our estimates, enough for four to eight basic nuclear weapons. Possession of similar amounts of HEU does not fundamentally change the threat. HEU is easier to fashion into a crude bomb but offers no advantages for more sophisticated, miniaturized designs. If Pyongyang is content with its current arsenal or modest growth, it would be better off restarting the existing plutonium production reactor. However, if Pyongyang wants to increase its arsenal substantially, it could expand the capacity of the current enrichment facility or build parallel clandestine facilities. Pyongyang cannot expand centrifuge capacity at will, however. It is limited by the need to import key materials and components -- hence the international community must redouble its efforts to shut down Pyongyang's extensive illicit procurement network.

    Even more troubling than an expansion of the North's nuclear arsenal is its potential export of fissile materials or the means of producing them, which now include centrifuge technologies. Moreover, by unveiling the LWR and enrichment facility, Pyongyang has complicated the diplomatic process by, in effect, redefining what is meant by denuclearization. Not only is it unlikely that Pyongyang will give up its nuclear arsenal anytime soon, but it will almost certainly insist on keeping its LWR program and centrifuges. Shutting down the plutonium program was within reach, but the same is not likely for the uranium program, because the justification for its peaceful nature is more credible than for the plutonium program, even though it is no less problematic.

    Nevertheless, our Foreign Ministry host maintained that Pyongyang continues to support the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as agreed to in the September 2005 Six-Party Joint Statement. As a starting point, he suggested that it would be helpful if Washington reaffirmed part of the October 2000 U.S.-North Korean Joint Communiqué. That document, which was the culmination of a long diplomatic process, stated that neither government would have hostile intent toward the other and confirmed the commitment of both to make every effort to build a new relationship free from past enmity.

    It is time for the United States to conduct a thorough review of its policies on Northeast Asia, including but not limited to the nuclear issue. The fundamental and enduring goal must be the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. However, since that will take time, the U.S. government must quickly press for what I call "the three no's" -- no more bombs, no better bombs, and no exports -- in return for one yes: Washington's willingness to seriously address North Korea's fundamental insecurity along the lines of the joint communiqué. Our Foreign Ministry host framed his no's in terms of no vertical or horizontal proliferation. When we asked specifically if Pyongyang would entertain the concept of three no's and one yes, he said, "If the U.S. government asks that question, I will answer it."

    Pyongyang's revelation of the centrifuge facility makes it more challenging and more pressing than ever to ask that question.

    Source;
    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67023/siegfried-s-hecker/what-i-found-in-north-korea?page=show#
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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Post  giovonni on Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:24 pm

    This situation is getting crazy Exclamation
    Note~ this story was published the day after the previous story Question

    Pyongyang will rely on nuclear might to defend itself against the United States and South Korea, North Korea's Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun told Russia's Interfax news agency Friday.

    "We are once again assured of the rectitude of our choice of the songun (army first) policy, and in strengthening a defence that relies on nuclear forces for deterrence," he said.

    Moments after his comments, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement stating that "all sides must avoid taking any actions that can escalate the situation."

    [/i]
    Source;
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.a8f77417d0291e36102d6723ad98a57c.611&show_article=1

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    Re: Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

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