I am an individual. I am unique. I am the smallest minority. I am one out of seven billion or so. That’s approximately 0.00000000143%. I am approximately the 0.00000000143%, and I am still significant. I matter. I have as much right to exist in this world as anyone else. I have as much right to express my opinion. I have as much right to pursue my interests as anyone else. I have as much right to acquire private property, goods and services in a fair and equitable manner as anyone else. I respect everyone else’s natural rights, and everyone else should respect mine. If I need help, I would appeal to your sense of humanity and generosity to try to convince you to offer your help on a voluntary basis, I would not ask a violent organization to steal from you or coerce you through threats of imprisonment, or worse, into turning your hard earned property over to meet my needs. Read more
It was good times at the Federal Reserve five years ago: Low interest rates instituted by then-Fed Chief Alan Greenspanhad housing prices booming, the stock market was rising and Fed members were—literally—laughing their way to the…well, central bank.
History shows they may have been laughing a bit too hard.
In what may be the strangest market indicator ever, a blogger found that the amount of laughter recorded in the official transcripts of Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meetings from 2000 to 2006 correlates almost perfectly with the rise in housing prices taking place at the time.
A particular series of side-splitting meetings by the central bank in 2006 marked the very top of the housing bubble.
The blog, The Daily Stag Hunt, tracked the times “laughter” was recorded by the Fed’s stenographer during the FOMC meetings. In 2001, the FOMC averaged 16.5 moments of guffaws per meeting. In 2006, there were, on average, 44 outbreaks of laughter.
As found by the blogger, one of the more TV sitcom-like moments came during the Fed’s January 2006 meeting when then-Vice Chairman Tim Geithner said to the departing Greenspan during his last gathering:
“I’d like the record to show that I think you’re pretty terrific, too. [Laughter] And thinking in terms of probabilities, I think the risk that we decide in the future that you’re even better than we think is higher than the alternative.[Laughter] With that, the economy looks pretty good to us, perhaps a bit better than it did at the last meeting. With the near-term monetary policy path that’s now priced into the markets, we think the economy is likely to grow slightly above trend in ’06 and close to trend in ’07.”
But soon after that exchange, the laughter died.
Housing prices crashed, derivative securities tied to them plummeted in value, and the biggest financial crisis since The Great Depression for this country ensued. It seems the same euphoria and complacency that marked the housing bubble on Wall Street and Main Street, was reflected in a comfortable and cheery atmosphere in meetings of the Federal Reserve.
At the most dire point of the crisis, home prices fell almost 20 percent year-over-year one month, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. After a rebound in 2010, home prices are on the slide again, even with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke following his predecessor’s remedy of low interest rates.
The Case-Shiller Index for November, set for release Tuesday, is expected to show home prices continued to fall, with Shiller’s 20-City Composite Index to drop more than 3 percent, estimates Zillow.
That means the laughter count is probably pretty low in Fed meetings these days.
But we don’t know for sure because while the FOMC meeting minutes are released three weeks later, full transcripts of the meetings that record these moments of brevity are not released until five years later.
So for those who would like to use the laughter indicator to time the housing market, you’ll have no such luck.
The bigger lesson from this humorous research however, may be that transparency from the Fed, which Bernanke has taken steps to increase, is still not to the point where it should be.
“Group-think dominated the FOMC meetings and Sir Alan, as we pointed out so often, was completely wrong about the potential negative effects of derivatives,” wrote Alan Newman, who nicknamed the bloggers findings “The Laughter Index” in his Crosscurrents newsletter to clients this week. “We can never know within a reasonable period of time if the FOMC actually knows what it is doing. We are not laughing.”
A Montara man walking two lapdogs off leash was hit with an electric-shock gun by a National Park Service ranger after allegedly giving a false name and trying to walk away, authorities said Monday.
The park ranger encountered Gary Hesterberg with his two small dogs Sunday afternoon at Rancho Corral de Tierra, which was recently incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, said Howard Levitt, a spokesman for the park service.
Hesterberg, who said he didn’t have identification with him, allegedly gave the ranger a false name, Levitt said.
The ranger, who wasn’t identified, asked Hesterberg to remain at the scene, Levitt said. He tried several times to leave, and finally the ranger “pursued him a little bit and she did deploy her” electric-shock weapon, Levitt said. “That did stop him.”
San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies and paramedics then arrived and Hesterberg gave his real name, the park spokesman said.
Hesterberg, whose age was not available, was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and knowingly providing false information, Levitt said.
He was then released. He did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Witnesses said the use of a stun gun and the arrest seemed excessive for someone walking two small dogs off leash.
“It was really scary,” said Michelle Babcock, who said she had seen the incident as she and her husband were walking their two border collies. “I just felt so bad for him.”
Babcock said Hesterberg had repeatedly asked the ranger why he was being detained. She didn’t answer him, Babcock said.
“He just tried to walk away. She never gave him a reason,” Babcock said.
The ranger shot Hesterberg in the back with her shock weapon as he walked off, Babcock said.
“We were like in disbelief,” she said. “It didn’t make any sense.”
Rancho Corral de Tierra has long been an off-leash walking spot for local dog owners. In December, the area became part of the national park system, which requires that all dogs be on a leash, Levitt said.
The ranger was trying to educate residents of the rule, Levitt said.
The park service is investigating the incident, he said.
(Reuters) – Co-founders of online U.S. payment service PayPal, now owned by eBay Inc, donated to the Super PAC funding group supporting Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, the group Endorse Liberty disclosed on Tuesday.
PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Luke Nosek and Scott Banister, an early adviser and board member, put their support behind the Endorse Liberty Super PAC, alongside Internet advertising veteran Stephen Oskoui and entrepreneur Jeffrey Harmon, who founded Endorse Liberty in November.
Texas congressman Ron Paul, a libertarian, has been an unconventional candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, advocating an isolationist brand of foreign policy and a $1 trillion cut in the U.S. government’s budget.
“Too often in this country we learn things the hard way … With its unsustainable deficits, government spending is heading down the same path. Men and women who want freedom and growth should take action. A good place to start is voting for Ron Paul,” Thiel said in a statement.
Thiel, a libertarian activist whose $1.5 billion in wealth ranked him 833 on the Forbes top billionaires list last year, became the first outside investor in social networking service Facebook in 2004.
Releasing the donor list before officially filing with the Federal Election Commission, Endorse Liberty founders said they raised $3.9 million to support Paul, who failed to win any of the first three state-by-state Republican nominating contests.
Republicans are voting in the Florida primary on Tuesday. Paul trails frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in most polls in the state, but he is seen as having a better chance in Nevada, which votes next.
Endorse Liberty founders have so far reported spending about $3.3 million promoting Paul by setting up two YouTube channels, constantly buying ads from Google and Facebook and StumbleUpon and building up a presence on the Web.
PayPal began as an independent company, founded in the late 1990s by technology entrepreneurs, including venture capital investors Thiel and Nosek. The business battled with eBay for supremacy in the emerging online payments market. But soon after it went public in 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion.
Endorse Liberty also received donations from James O’Neill and Jonathan Cain, who now run the Thiel Foundation that seeks to “defend and promote freedom in all its dimensions: political, personal, and economic,” according to its website.
By Mario Andrade
January 31, 2012
Note: The purpose of this never-before-published information in this article is to describe a possible scenario involving a false flag attack that may trigger a war with Iran. We are not in the business of predicting events; therefore, this is not a prediction. However, if an event like this were to happen, this information may help readers understand how it may have been carried out.
The German-made Dolphin class submarines acquired by Israel in 2006 are fully capable of creating a false flag attack in the Strait of Hormuz. Despite the fact that these are diesel subs, they are currently being upgraded with what is known as air-independent propulsion systems or AIP, which can allow them to remain submerged for a lot longer periods. The Dolphin class submarines can also run on battery mode (also known as diesel electric mode) and be virtually noise-free and undetectable.
According to Naval-Technology.com, the Dolphin class subs can accomplish a great variety of missions. Each one can carry up to 16 torpedoes or surface-to-surface missiles. Particularly, the torpedoes carried by these subs are called Harpoons, which can deliver a massive 227kg warhead that can hit any particular target up to a range of 130km at subsonic speeds.
Harpoon torpedoes are mostly known for striking ships in the keel or lower hull areas, particularly near the propeller shafts, resulting in flooding of the main machinery rooms. One hit by a Harpoon torpedo can sink a small or mid-size surface ship.
Below is a video of a naval exercise showing a helicopter carrier, the USS Guam (LPH-9), being sinked by 10 Harpoon torpedoes in coordination with air support strikes.
Furthermore, four of the Israeli Dolphin class submarines’ torpedo-launching tubes have been modified to have capabilities of launching swimmer delivery vehicles or SDVs carrying special operations forces. These commandos can carry out acts of sabotage, like placing explosives under a ship’s keel.
However there is a much easier and stealthier way of carrying out a false flag attack and start a war with Iran. These Israeli subs are also capable of mine-launching or mine-laying. Since they have been upgraded to launch underwater vehicles, these launching tubes can also be used to deploy mines.
Depending on how many of these Dolphin class submarines are currently in the Indian Ocean, one submarine can lay up to 16 deep-water MK-60 mines in the Gulf of Oman. The MK-60 (or Mark 60) mine is basically a capsule with an anchor sitting at the bottom. The capsule has a modified MK-48 torpedo inside designed to hit submarines (like the submarine escort currently guarding the USS Enterprise). Once it detects a submarine passing by, the capsule opens and the torpedo is launched. If the submarine somehow survives the attack, the crew and officers will think that it was a torpedo attack by the Iranians.
Near the Strait of Hormuz, two or three of these subs can lay shallow water mines blocking both the inbound and outbound ship channel. Mine warfare has improved a lot since World War II. Some mines are made of fiberglass and are undetectable by sonar. Today, mines can be programmed to let a certain number of ships pass into a mine field, then striking the fifth or sixth ship that passes. This way, the ships that already passed will be trapped and contained in the mine field.
Another known fact is that most of these mines are sold by defense contractors to virtually any country that has a navy, including Iran. Therefore, the mines can be made to look like the Iranians laid them in the Strait of Hormuz.
Finally, the false flag attack that would trigger the war against Iran may not necessarily be carried out against a navy ship. Any commercial vessel, like an oiler or a container ship can be hit to make it look like the Iranians started it. The Israeli Dolphin subs are already carrying out exercises in the Indian Ocean. Earlier this month, one of these subs demonstrated that it was able to launch a warhead 1,000 miles away.
* Mario Andrade is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the first Gulf War. His specialization was mine warfare, mine clearance maneuvers, navigation, shipboard damage control and underwater explosives detection and neutralization, among many other duties. In the early part of his enlistment, he graduated among the top of his class as a sonar tech at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center in San Diego, CA.
Earlier today we reported a potential Watergate break in at Ron Paul campaign HQ in Virginia. We are now getting concerned about the Doc’s own personal safety. This is just in:
Via Daily Paul
Yesterday, with about 20 campaign volunteers in attendance at a phone bank the Washington State Headquarters was attacked by an unknown assailant who hurled a stone at a window shattering glass on a young freedom fighter whose head was less than a foot away. The glass from the approximately four inch breach rained shards on another patriot about eight feet away, thankfully not injuring her. Her young son, who at five years old is a veteran campaigner, now in his second campaign for Dr. Paul, fortunately avoided the splintered glass as he scampered about. Police were called and a report was filed.
Of significance The Seattle Times published a report filed 01/28/12 updated 01/30/12 entitled “Pivotal GOP skirmish — what, in this state?” that featured a photo of the busy phone bank…link
The Pentagon doesn’t know what happened to more than $100 million in cash held at Saddam Hussein’s palace in Baghdad during the Iraq war, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
What’s more, the Pentagon can’t find documents to explain what it spent as much as $1.7 billion on from funds held on behalf of the Iraqi government by the New York Federal Reserve, the report says.
The missing records raise new questions about how the US government handled billions of dollars in Iraqi funds during the war.
The new report, the latest in a multi-year investigation by the inspector general into missing money in Iraq, paints a picture of Pentagon officials digging through boxes of hard copy records looking for missing paper copies of Excel spreadsheets, monthly reports and other paper documents that should have been kept detailing what the money was spent on and why those expenditures were necessary. Apparently, there are no electronic records to back up the spending.
The Inspector General’s report concludes that the problem is simply one of “records management.” But the report explains the missing records make it impossible to conduct a complete accounting of what happened to the funds.
The missing money came from the Development Fund for Iraq, a cache of billions of dollars in frozen Saddam Hussein regime assets that was held at the New York Federal Reserve on behalf of the Iraqi people.
Ron Paul is likely to win more delegates to the 2012 GOP convention than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum this week. Wait. What? That’s why he campaigned in Maine this weekend.
This week, Ron Paul is likely to win more delegates to the 2012 GOP convention than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. In fact, he’s likely to win more delegates than Gingrich and Santorum combined.
“Hold it”, you’re saying, “How can that be? Rep. Paul’s polling in single digits in Florida. He’s going to finish behind Gingrich and Santorum, as well as Mitt Romney, in Tuesday’s Florida primary. How can that translate into beating any of his rivals at all?”
We’ll tell you how – because he’s not winning those delegates in Florida. He’s winning, or will probably win, at least a few delegates in Maine.
Paul took a quick two-day swing through Maine over the weekend, in case you didn’t notice. He met with GOP Gov. Paul LePage. He spoke to big crowds throughout the state – in Lewiston, apparently, event organizers had to expand his conference room to handle the people who showed up.
He even landed the coveted L.L. Bean endorsement – that’s Linda Lorraine Bean, heiress of the L.L. Bean empire and a lobster roll entrepreneur in her own right. She endorsed Paul on Saturday from her restaurant in the retail outlet mecca of Freeport.
Asked why she wasn’t supporting fellow New Englander Mitt Romney, Ms. Bean said “I’ve always been for Ron Paul”, according to a statement posted on Paul’s campaign web site.
As we’ve previously reported, unnoticed by most of the DC-based political establishment, the Maine caucuses actually began this weekend. So Paul wasn’t in Maine just because he likes riding around in salt-crusted Suburus.
Most Maine towns will hold their caucuses during the state GOP’s preferred window of February 4-11. But “most” doesn’t mean “all”. Lincoln, Lowell, Burlington, Chester, Enfield, Winn, and Howland held their joint caucus on Saturday. Millinocket’s was on Sunday. And so forth.
Each Maine caucus is holding a presidential preference straw poll, the state-wide results of which will be announced February 11. This poll is non-binding. But each caucus is also starting the process of selecting delegates to the state and national GOP conventions. The Paul campaign is making a big push to get its people involved in politics at this level. It is highly likely that some Paul supporters won delegate slots over the weekend – news reports indicated that the Paul crowd was making a big pitch at some caucus sites.
Asked whether he was going to win Maine’s caucuses, Paul told Crowley, “We did pretty well three years ago [in Maine] and we weren’t nearly as well organized. And Romney’s been popular up there, but less so right now. So I would say that we have a very good chance.”
Now Maine has only 24 delegates total, so it’s not like the Pine Tree State strategy is a springboard that will somersault Paul into the White House. Florida has 50 delegates, almost twice as many, despite the fact that it’s been penalized by the national GOP for advancing its primary.
But Florida is winner-take-all. That means, if Gingrich and Santorum finish behind Romney, as polls currently indicate they will, neither of them will win any delegates. Nada. Zip.
So Paul only had to score one more delegate in Maine this weekend to outperform them, convention-wise.Given that Maine Republicans tend to be more libertarian than socially conservative, and given that Paul actually campaigned there, we think that’s a likely occurrence.
Of course, the comparison is not entirely fair. At this stage in the race, the higher priority for both Gingrich and Santorum is maintaining a sense of momentum and a flow of donation dollars. Both could accomplish that by performing well in Florida, whether they win any delegates or not.
Paul, in contrast, already has a core of committed supporters and enough money to keep going to the convention in Tampa. He’s not trying to win the presidency as much as he is trying to maximize his ability to spread his libertarian message.
- Newt Gingrich the tea party favorite? Not necessarily in Florida. (+video)
- In Pictures: Ron Paul: populist for president
The legal setback for Beijing could set a precedent for the West to challenge China’s export restrictions on other natural resources, including rare earth metals that are crucial to many modern technologies, trade experts said.
In the closely watched case, the trade organization’s Appellate Body, its highest tribunal, ruled that China distorted international trade through dozens of export policies it maintains for bauxite, zinc, yellow phosphorus and six other industrial minerals.
The Appellate Body, reviewing an earlier decision by a W.T.O. dispute settlement panel, said the panel had gone too far in defining why more than three dozen Chinese policies violated free trade rules. But the appeals group said on Monday that the overall effect of China’s export restrictions was harming international trade and the policies would have to be scrapped.
The case was filed in 2009 against China by the United States, the European Union and Mexico.
“This is a major win for the United States,” said James Bacchus, a former chairman and longtime member of the Appellate Body, who now helps lead the global trade practice in the Washington office of the law firm Greenberg Traurig.
Business as usual….
The Wisconsin judge who recently ruled that we have no right to own a cow or drink its milk resigned to join one of Monsanto’s law firms.
Judge Fiedler ruled that humans:
- “Do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
- “Do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”
- “Do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer;”
- “Do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice;” and
- Cannot enter into private contracts without State police power intervention.
His decision was rendered on Sept. 9 and he stepped down from the bench on Sept. 30.
Former judge Patrick J. Fiedler now works for Axley Brynelson, LLP, which defended Monsanto against a patent infringement case filed by Australian firm, Genetic Technologies, Ltd. (GTL) in early 2010.
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