"There's less than 50% chance that the United States will exist by the middle of this century. And that is actually a good news. If the previous century was shaped by nation states as the primary actors of international law. What is very clear, at least to me is the central actors, locus of power and economy and control, is shifting from the nation state to city state. Like Singapour, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles... California in some level is independent". Saffo went on to give examples of recent decisions of Governor Schwartzenegger in direct opposition of President Bush policy: by not sending the California National Guards to protect the Mexican border or California's accord with the UK on climate change. Unthinkable! "City states are the centers because they are large enough to have impact but they are small enough that everybody sees the collective consequences of individual actions".
Saturday, 28 February 2009
Congressman Don Manzullo grills Interim Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari on the bailout plan, questioning why a failed company that was bailed out with taxpayer dollars -- AIG -- was allowed to give a $3 million bonus to an executive.
Friday, 27 February 2009
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Monday, 23 February 2009
The goal of giving form to a complex situation like the credit crisis is to quickly supply the essence of the situation to those unfamiliar and uninitiated. This project was completed as part of my thesis work in the Media Design Program, a graduate studio at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
For more on my broader thesis work exploring the use of new media to make sense of a increasingly complex world, visit jdjarvis.com
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Text and pictures
this almost incredible episode tells one something about the nature of civilisation. It shows that however complex and solid it seems, it is actually quite fragile. It can be destroyed. What are its enemies? First of all fear — fear of war, fear of invasion, fear of plague and famine, all the things that make it simply not worthwhile building for the future, or even planning next year’s crops.
And also fear of the supernatural, which means that you daren’t question anything or change anything. The late antique world was full of meaningless rituals, mystery religions, that destroyed self-confidence. And then again boredom, the feeling of hopelessness which can overtake people even with a high degree of material prosperity.
Civilisation does require a modicum of material prosperity — enough to provide a little leisure. But it requires confidence far more. Confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, and confidence in one’s own mental powers. Vigour, energy, vitality: all the great civilisations have had a weight of energy behind them. People sometimes think that civilisation consists in fine sensibilities and good conversation and all that. These may be among the agreeable results of civilisation, but they are not what make a civilisation, and a society can have these amenities and yet be dead and rigid.
War Games - SHTF Scenario #1 - Gerald Celente and Glenn Beck
Sunday, 22 February 2009
February 20, 2009 Paul Volcker Columbia University
On Sunday, Hugo Chavez won a constitutional amendment lifting persidential term limits altogether. His critics say he effectively controls all three branches of government and would turn the count...
The sand will reclaim that place one day. bubbleorama..
Posted February 20, 2009
On Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008, the astonished leadership of the U.S. Congress was told in a private session by the chairman of the Federal Reserve that the American economy was in grave danger of a complete meltdown within a matter of days. "There was literally a pause in that room where the oxygen left," says Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)
As the housing bubble burst and trillions of dollars' worth of toxic mortgages began to go bad in 2007, fear spread through the massive firms that form the heart of Wall Street. By the spring of 2008, burdened by billions of dollars of bad mortgages, the investment bank Bear Stearns was the subject of rumors that it would soon fail.
"Rumors are such that they can just plain put you out of business," Bear Stearns' former CEO Alan "Ace" Greenberg tells FRONTLINE.
The company's stock had dropped from $171 to $57 a share, and it was hours from declaring bankruptcy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke acted. "It was clear that this had to be contained. There was no doubt in his mind," says Bernanke's colleague, economist Mark Gertler.
Bernanke, a former economics professor from Princeton, specialized in studying the Great Depression. "He more than anybody else appreciated what would happen if it got out of control," Gertler explains.
To stabilize the markets, Bernanke engineered a shotgun marriage between Bear Sterns and the commercial bank JPMorgan, with a promise that the federal government would use $30 billion to cover Bear Stearns' questionable assets tied to toxic mortgages. It was an unprecedented effort to stop the contagion of fear that seemed to be threatening the rest of Wall Street.
While publicly supportive of the deal, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a former Wall Street executive with Goldman Sachs, was uncomfortable with government interference in the markets. That summer, he issued a warning to his former colleagues not to expect future government bailouts, saying he was concerned about a legal concept known as moral hazard.
Within months, however, Paulson would witness the virtual collapse of the giant mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and preside over their takeover by the federal government.
The episode sent shockwaves through the economy as confidence in Wall Street began to evaporate. Within days, in September 2008, another investment bank, Lehman Brothers, was on the brink of collapse. Once again, there were calls for Bernanke and Paulson to bail out the Wall Street giant. But Paulson was under intense political pressure from conservative Republicans in Washington to invoke moral hazard and let the company fail.
"You had a conservative secretary of the Treasury and conservative administration. There was right-wing criticism over Bear Stearns," says Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Paulson pushed Lehman's CEO Dick Fuld to find a buyer for his ailing company. But no company would buy Lehman unless the government offered a deal similar to the one Bear Stearns had received. Paulson refused, and Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.
FRONTLINE then chronicles the disaster that followed. Within 24 hours, the stock market crashed, and credit markets around the world froze. "We're no longer talking about mortgages," says economist Gertler. "We're talking about car loans, loans to small businesses, commercial paper borrowing by large banks. This is like a disease spreading."
"I think that the secretary of the Treasury could not fully comprehend what that linkage was and the extent to which this would materialize into problems," says former Lehman board member Henry Kaufman.
Paulson was thunderstruck. "This is the utter nightmare of an economic policy-maker," Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman tells FRONTLINE. "You may have just made the decision that destroyed the world. Absolutely terrifying moment."
In response, Paulson and Bernanke would propose -- and Congress would eventually pass -- a $700 billion bailout plan. FRONTLINE goes inside the deliberations surrounding the passage of the legislation and examines its unsuccessful implementation.
"Many Americans still don't understand what has happened to the economy," FRONTLINE producer/director Michael Kirk says. "How did it all go so bad so quickly? Who is responsible? How effective has the response from Washington and Wall Street been? Those are the questions at the heart of Inside the Meltdown."
Friday, 20 February 2009
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
MIT grad student David Merrill demos Siftables -- cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too. Is this the next thing in hands-on learning?
Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.
Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.
Penn State climate expert and glaciologist Richard Alley does a quirky dance to explain ice-age cycles, then shows how the natural warm and cool phases of climate help prove that more CO2 will warm the world in the long haul.
Sunday, 15 February 2009
Friday, 13 February 2009
Thursday, 12 February 2009
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
But there is more to such walks than was previously realised, it emerged last week. In a new study, Bristol University researchers revealed they had found out that sunny strolls have striking, long-lasting effects. They discovered that children born to women in late summer or in early autumn are, on average, about 5mm taller, and have thicker bones, than those born in late winter and early spring.
Nor was it hard to see the causal link, said team leader Professor Jon Tobias. The growth of our bones, even in the womb, depends on vitamin D which, in turn, is manufactured in the skin when sunlight falls on it.
Thus children born after their mothers have enjoyed a summer of sunny walks will have been exposed to more vitamin D and will have stronger bones than those born in winter or early spring. "Wider bones are thought to be stronger and less prone to breaking as a result of osteoporosis in later life, so anything that affects early bone development is significant," said Tobias.
The study is important, for it indicates that women should consider taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy to ensure their children reach full stature. However, the Bristol team's findings go beyond this straightforward conclusion, it should be noted. Their work adds critical support to a controversial health campaign that suggests most British people are being starved of sunshine, and vitamin D - a process that is putting their lives at risk.
These campaigners point to a series of studies, based mainly on epidemiological evidence, that have recently linked vitamin D deficiency to illnesses such as diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and tuberculosis. Last week also saw George Ebers, professor of clinical neurology at Oxford University, unveil evidence to suggest such a deficiency during pregnancy and childhood could increase the risk that a child would develop multiple sclerosis.
The studies require rigorous follow-up research, scientists admit - but they have nevertheless provoked considerable new interest in vitamin D. Indeed, for some health experts, the substance has virtually become a panacea for all human ills. Dietary supplements should be encouraged for the elderly, the young and the sick, while skin cancer awareness programmes that urge caution over sunbathing should be scrapped, they insist. We need to bring a lot more sunshine into our lives, it is claimed.
But this unbridled enthusiasm has gone down badly with health officials concerned about soaring rates of melanomas in Britain, the result of over-enthusiastic suntanning by holidaymakers decades ago. Existing, restrictive recommendations for limits on sunbathing must be rigorously maintained, they argue, or melanoma death rates will rise even further.
So just how much sunlight is safe for us? And which is the greater risk: skin cancer or diseases triggered by vitamin D deficiency? Answers for these questions now cause major divisions among health experts.
In fact, vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin. Vitamins are defined as nutrients which can only be obtained from the food we eat and which are vital to our health. For example, vitamin C, which wards off scurvy and helps the growth of cartilage, is found in citrus fruits, while broccoli and spinach are rich in vitamin K, which plays an important role in preventing our blood from clotting. And while it is true that vitamin D is found in oily fish, cod liver oil, eggs and butter, our principal source is sunlight.
"Vitamin D should really be thought of as a hormone," said Dr Peter Berry-Ottaway, of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, and an adviser to the EU on food safety. "It forms under the skin in reaction to sunlight. We do get some from our food but our principal source is the sun.'
The key component in sunlight that stimulates vitamin D production in our bodies is ultra-violet light of wavelengths between 290 and 315 nanometres. Crucially, this component of sunlight only reaches Britain during the months between April and October. "The rest of the year, between November and March, the sun is low in the horizon. Its light has to pass through much more of the atmosphere than in summer and doesn't reach the ground," said Cambridge nutrition expert Dr Inez Schoenmakers. "For half the year we cannot make vitamin D from sunlight, so what we make in summer has to do us for the whole year."
In relatively sunny southern England, this is not a problem but in the north and in the cloudier west, noticeable health problems build up - particularly among ethnic minorities. People with dark skin are less able to manufacture vitamin D than those with pale skin and in places with relatively gloomy skies - cities such as Bradford or Glasgow, for example - the impact can be severe.
In 2007, the Department of Health revealed that up to one in 100 children born to families from ethnic minorities now suffer from rickets, a condition triggered by lack of vitamin D in which children develop a pronounced bow-legged gait. The disease once blighted lives in Victorian Britain but was eradicated by improved diets. Now it is making a major resurgence, a problem that has been further exacerbated in ethnic communities by women wearing hijabs that cover all of their bodies and block out virtually every beam of vitamin-stimulating sunshine.
A major health campaign, offering dietary advice and vitamin D supplements has since been launched. But for many doctors, it is not enough. The nation's health service needs to re-evaluate completely its approach to vitamin D as a matter of urgency; establish new guidelines for taking supplements; and scrap most of the limits on sunbathing currently proposed by health bodies.
These calls have been made not because of concerns about rickets, however. They follow the appearance of studies from across the globe that suggest vitamin D plays a key role in the fight against heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D is not so much an important component of our diets as a miracle substance, they believe. It costs nothing to make, just some time in the sun, and lasts in the body for months.
A classic example of the potential of vitamin D was provided by a study published in a US journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, last year. This revealed that people with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to survive colon, breast and lung cancer. In the study, Richard Setlow, a biophysicist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US and an expert on the link between solar radiation and skin cancer, calculated how much sunshine a person would get depending on the latitude on which they lived.
Setlow - who worked with colleagues at the Institute for Cancer Research in Oslo - also calculated the incidence and survival rates for various forms of internal cancers in people living at these different latitudes. Their results showed that in the northern hemisphere the incidence of colon, lung and breast cancer increased from south to north while people in southern latitudes were significantly less likely to die from these cancers than people in the north.
"Since vitamin D has been shown to play a protective role in a number of internal cancers and possibly a range of other diseases, it is important to study the relative risks to determine whether advice to avoid sun exposure may be causing more harm than good in some populations," Setlow warned.
And then there is the impact of vitamin D levels on the heart. In a study published last year in the journal Circulation, scientists at the Harvard Medical School in Boston found that a deficiency of vitamin D increased people's risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, other studies have connected vitamin D deficiency to risks of succumbing to diabetes and TB.
And there was last week's publication of the study by Professor Ebers which provided compelling evidence that lack of vitamin D triggers a rogue gene to turn against the body and attack nerve endings, a process that induces the disease multiple sclerosis. In each case, researchers urged that people ensure they take vitamin D supplements to help ward off such conditions.
But others believe such calls underestimate the problem. They point to a study, published in 2007, which indicates that more than 60 per cent of middle-aged British adults have less than optimal levels of vitamin D in their bodies in summer, while this figure rises to 90 per cent in winter. Given the links between deficiency and all those ailments, only a full-scale reappraisal of the vitamin's role in British health will work, says Oliver Gillie, of the Health Research Forum.
In a report, Sunlight Robbery, he calls for the scrapping of Britain's current SunSmart programme; the setting up of an international conference of doctors and specialists to establish vitamin D's importance to health; promotion of the fortification of food with vitamin D: and the creation of a new committee whose membership would include representatives of groups of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer and other conditions linked to vitamin D.
But most controversial of all is his call for people to sunbathe far more frequently than currently advised. "It is time for the UK government to encourage people to sunbathe safely to reduce cancer risk," he said.
Not surprisingly, the notion horrifies many health advisers. "There are now 9,000 new cases of melanoma in Britain every year and 2,000 deaths because people have sunbathed without proper care," said Sara Hiom, director of health information for Cancer Research UK. "Figures have increased dramatically over the past 20 years and will continue to do so unless we are very careful."
However, Hiom acknowledged that new studies did indicate that vitamin D deficiency was now linked to an increasing number of cancers and other diseases. "That is no excuse for behaving irresponsibly, however. People must avoided getting sunburned; stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm even in this country in summer; and use factor 15 or stronger sunblock creams."
In addition, other scientists cautioned that links between vitamin D deficiency with diseases like multiple sclerosis had yet to be proved. "People with low vitamin D may be more likely to have MS but that might simply happen because their condition makes it difficult to get out in the sunshine and make vitamin D in their bodies. We have yet to distinguish cause and effect in many of these cases," said Dr Schoenmakers.
These points are crucial and suggest we need to be cautious about claims that vitamin D is capable of triggering miraculous cures. On the other hand, enough evidence is now emerging from laboratories round the world to indicate that a nutrient once thought to be a bit-player in the battle against disease, clearly has a key role to play in helping to maintain the general health of large numbers of the population of Britain.
Stanford R. Ovshinsky has been called "the modern world's most important energy visionary." His career has combined path-breaking scientific work, the creation of new industries and a deep commitment to "make a better world." His work on energy and the environment has particular significance for the Americas
Thursday, 5 February 2009
Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises is holding a hearing to assess the alleged $50 billion investment fraud engineered by Mr. Bernard L. Madoff. This is the second in a series of hearings that will help to guide the work of the Financial Services Committee and the Capital Markets Subcommittee in the 111th Congress in undertaking the most substantial rewrite of the laws governing the U.S. financial markets since the Great Depression. Rep. Gary Ackerman questioned witnesses from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
But our guest today, historian Niall Ferguson, suggests we take the long view. The economic system in undergoing a Darwinian style struggle which is killing off failed ecomomic practices. Two years ago he started writing a book that chronicles the financial history of the world, showing how societies rise and fall on their financial fortuntes.
He predicted at the time that our current economic system was dangerously unstable; too dependent on credit and buried under unsustainable debt. Well, now he has been proven right, and his book "The Ascent of Money" could not be more timely. This Harvard and Oxford based professor has been called "one of the 100 most influential voices in the world" by Time Magazine. Brian met with Niall Ferguson recently.We present their conversation.
Monday, 2 February 2009
“The Gig Is Up: Money, the Federal Reserve and You. Live from Wolfe Hall at The University of Colorado School of Law, on December 4, 2008
Populist lawyer, Gary Fielder, presents “The Gig Is Up: Money, the Federal Reserve and You. Live from Wolfe Hall at The University of Colorado School of Law, on December 4, 2008, Mr. Fielder, a criminal and constitutional lawyer from Denver, Colorado, presents a power point and video presentation on the creation of money with an historical analysis of our current banking system. With quotes from Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and many others, Fielder makes his case to abolish the Federal Reserve and return to a sound and honest money system. Fractional Reserve Banking. Currency. Amero. World Government. International Banking. www.gigisup.net Produced by Jack Creamer, Side 3 Studios, Denver, Colorado. Video edits by Jonathan Ellinoff. Technical Assistant, Rye Miller. This video is for educational purposes only. Admission was not charged, nor will any effort be made to profit from its production or sale. The DVD is free.«
Sunday, 1 February 2009
“On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker,” on display at the Morgan Library & Museum until May 24, shows how cartoons shed light on money. In more than 80 drawings the complexities of economic theory dissolve into the far more pungent currency of social relations, of status and snobbery, pretense and pride, distilling finance to its human essence.