Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Romney and Jihad

The harsh reality of Jihadism is that we have not understood that they have been empowered by modern technology to become a global jihad operating in a cellular fashion.  The fight must be sustained and be unrelenting.  It is not going to go away because its recent eruption is put down.  This is a game of whack a mole.

The ultimate solution is to give Islam the Nazi treatment and first declare that it is not a religion as it stands.  The argument is easily made as the Koran itself is deliberately contradictory.  This may force the leaders to reformulate the teachings into a safer format.  After all, thirteen centuries with the same outcome should inform even them that a review is in order.

Considering what Christianity has subjected itself to this is hardly a serious issue.

If Islam is to survive at all, then it must reform itself to meet the forms of modernism.  How this can be done from the outside escapes me as it also proved impossible with Nazism.  We have to confront Islam and demand full reformation including the full rights of women.

At least Romney seems to have mature approach to the problem and perhaps we can be spared any more mission accomplished speeches.

Mitt Romney's winning Mideast policy

Romney's is a strategically advanced vision for addressing Islamist terrorism and Iranian threats.

Sunday, February 26, 2012
By Walid Phares

 As the U.S. electoral process grinds on and the Republican primary debates fold into state primaries and caucuses, the candidates’ views on national security and foreign policy are being carefully scrutinized by voters who consider them to be crucial components of the total policy package a candidate will carry into the Oval Office. Citizens’ attention is understandably riveted to candidates’ proposals for solving our national economic crisis. 
And, while there is little doubt that the condition of our economy will weigh heavily in the final outcome of the 2012 election, U.S. national security will undoubtedly play a huge role in the evolution of our national economy for the foreseeable future. After 9/11, and throughout the first post-9/11 decade, we have known that a meltdown in the Middle East would destabilize economic partnerships and jeopardize the flow of oil and energy to the West. We’ve also known that an increase of jihadi radicalism in the region will boost the chances of war and human rights abuses and lead to more terrorist attacks against the U.S. homeland. The security of the United States and other democratic societies will be at risk if the Middle East is abandoned to radicals and radical regimes. 
The foreign policy and national security strategy of only one of the four remaining Republican candidates is adequate against this tenuous scenario. Ron Paul’s agenda for the Middle East will guarantee a nuclear Iran, turn North Africa over to the Islamists, and ignore the next wave of jihadists who have trained their sites on the U.S. homeland. Congressman Paul may be a staunch advocate for citizens’ constitutional rights, but in my modest view, his vision for U.S. foreign policy may force Americans into a national security predicament as bad as or worse as that of a second Obama administration.

I respect and admire all three leading candidates and their positions on the Middle East and U.S. national security. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have worked with all three at different times and find their strategic understanding of the threat to be as grave as my own, though differently expressed. Speaker Gingrich, Senator Santorum and Governor Romney have long warned about the Iranian threat in both in the surrounding region and globally. Their characterization of the jihadi threat as existential hits the bull’s-eye. From my own field of research and publishing, I have not authored or opined on domestic social and economic issues, so I praise all three candidates, Gingrich, Santorum and Romney, for seeing and warning about the threat.

As Senior Advisor to Governor Mitt Romney on matters of national security and foreign policy, and one of three co-chairs on the Middle East and North Africa, I would like to share with readers why I believe Governor Romney’s platform on the region is more advanced than the other candidates’ platforms and the best alternative to the Obama administration’s agenda on the Middle East. Governor Romney’s edge over the other candidates is his perception of the threat and understanding of the enemy’s tactics. His strategy for victory is precise and reasoned. For more than two decades, I have focused intensely on the strategies of America’s enemies, not just their ideology. The most-read book of the three I have written on jihadism and published after 9/11 is Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America.

The book enabled lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic and many in the U.S. defense and national security communities to understand the fundamentals of the conflict. The U.S. is confronting an ideologically-driven force with a global strategy. The latter area is where I see Governor Romney’s strategic edge. Knowledge of where the threat is coming from is crucial. Understanding its ideological roots is a must. But understanding our enemies’ strategy and devising an appropriate counter-strategy that is part of a broader U.S. strategy which advances freedom and democracy, saves the national economy, and stabilizes the world economy is, in my view, what make the governor’s agenda cutting-edge.

The Romney strategy acknowledges and praises U.S. successes in taking down the al Qaeda terrorist commanders Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as the capturing other senior leaders and hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists over the past ten years. But America’s strategy must go beyond beheading al Qaeda, which subscribes to an ideology that can grow new heads faster than the U.S. can take them out. Mitt Romney’s al Qaeda strategy considers where the organization will be in five years, not just where it was five years ago.

On all battlefields where the jihadists operate, the Romney strategy will be based on day-to-day achievements on the ground, and a solid understanding of the enemy’s next targets. We will anticipate and intercept their mutations before they begin, not after. In Yemen, despite al-Awlaki’s elimination, al Qaeda is seizing villages. Al-Shabab is wreaking havoc in Somalia; in oil-producing Nigeria, Boko Haram is expanding; in Iraq, Salafi jihadists have returned to detonate car bombs; in Libya, al Qaeda flags are flying in Tripoli. The real fight against al Qaeda is in front of us, not behind. A super-global strategy must be applied, not the current retreat-and-declare-success strategy.

On Iran, the current administration claims to have assembled all tools needed to keep the growing threat in check, but continues to try and reason with the regime. All three Republican candidates know that the Iranian regime must be considered as a threat to regional, U.S., and international security interests. All three want the regime to end as an ultimate solution to the menace. Mitt Romney is interested in how, with whom, and when this can be accomplished. In his definitive Wall Street Journal article, the governor underlined two pillars of his strategy. One certifies the regime is driving the Iranian nuclear threat. He wants the Iranian regime to disappear like Qaddafi’s. In addition to U.S. efforts to contain the Iranian military and terror networks, the governor sees the Iranian people, the Green Revolution, the regime’s primary opposition, as the real U.S. partner in removing the regime.

On these grounds the Romney agenda for the Middle East provides a strategically advanced vision—countering radical jihadi ideology, partnering with the Iranian people against the Iranian regime, and equipping the U.S. with a defensive vision that intercepts the threat rather than reacts to it.

Walid Phares writes for History News Network, from where this article is adapted.

DNA Clues On Neanderthal Disappearance

Conclusions based on thirteen samples are at best suspect and this lot is no different.  The underlying assumption is that the Neanderthals were somehow inferior and thus died out.   Yet they had one extra gene than we do.

The evidence, by the by, conforms nicely to my conjecture that the Neanderthals migrated to the continental shelf and participated in the first rise of human modernity.  We have even tightened up the time frame to 48,000 years ago.  That a select population reentered the original homelands is not unreasonable at all in this scenario.

My point is to rid ourselves of a very dangerous assumption that has dogged research on Neanderthals for a century. They are not deficient humanity at all and may well have been far better adapted to harsh temperate climes than we ever were.  The proposition that they helped in the first human emergence is quite reasonable.

What the evidence does do is sharply underline the importance of the transitional date of 48,000 year ago when the Neanderthals effectively vacated the continental climate zone.  Plausibly they discovered lowland agriculture and made a far easier living, just like today when no one relies on hunting whatsoever anymore even if they could.

DNA reveals Neanderthal extinction clues

By Paul RinconScience editor, BBC News website

Neanderthals were close evolutionary cousins of our own species - Homo sapiens

27 February 2012 Last updated at 13:14 ET

Neanderthals were already on the verge of extinction in Europe by the time modern humans arrived on the scene, a study suggests.

DNA analysis suggests most Neanderthals in western Europe died out as early as 50,000 years ago - thousands of years before our own species appeared.

A small group of Neanderthals then recolonised parts of Europe, surviving for 10,000 years before vanishing.

An international team of researchers studied the variation, or diversity, in mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones of 13 Neanderthals.

This type of genetic information is passed down on the maternal line; because cells contain multiple copies of the mitochondrial genome, this DNA is easier to extract from ancient remains than the DNA found in the nuclei of cells.

The fossil specimens came from Europe and Asia and span a time period ranging from 100,000 years ago to about 35,000 years ago.

The scientists found that west European fossils with ages older than 48,000 years, along with Neanderthal specimens from Asia, showed considerable genetic variation.

But specimens from western Europe younger than 48,000 years showed much less genetic diversity (variation in the older remains and the Asian Neanderthals was six-fold greater than in the western examples).

Neanderthals may have been more sensitive to the dramatic climate changes... than was previously thought”

Love DalenSwedish Museum of Natural History

In their scientific paper, the scientists propose that some event - possibly changes in the climate - caused Neanderthal populations in the West to crash around 50,000 years ago.
But populations may have survived in warmer southern refuges, allowing the later re-expansion.

Low genetic variation can make a species less resilient to changes in its environment, and place it at increased risk of extinction.

"The fact that Neanderthals in Europe were nearly extinct, but then recovered, and that all this took place long before they came into contact with modern humans, came as a complete surprise," said lead author Love Dalen, from the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

"This indicates that the Neanderthals may have been more sensitive to the dramatic climate changes that took place in the last Ice Age than was previously thought."

Neanderthals were close evolutionary cousins of modern humans, and once inhabited Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. The reasons behind their demise remain the subject of debate.

The appearance of modern humans in Europe around the time of the Neanderthal extinction offers circumstantial evidence that Homo sapiens played a role. But changes in the climate and other factors may have been important contributors.

"The amount of genetic variation in geologically older Neanderthals as well as in Asian Neandertals was just as great as in modern humans as a species," said co-author Anders Gotherstrom, from Uppsala University.

"The variation among later European Neanderthals was not even as high as that of modern humans in Iceland."

The researchers note that the loss of genetic diversity in west European Neanderthals coincided with a climatic episode known as Marine Isotope Stage Three, which was characterised by several brief periods of freezing temperatures.

These cold periods are thought to have been caused by a disturbance of oceanic currents in the North Atlantic, and it is possible that they had a particularly strong impact on the environment in western Europe, note the researchers.

Over the last few decades, research has shown that Neanderthals were undeserving of their brutish reputation.

Researchers recently announced that paintings of seals found in caves at Nerja, southern Spain, might date to 42,000 years - potentially making them the only known art created by Neanderthals. However, this interpretation remains controversial.

Oil End Game With Chris Cook

Some thoughts here on the prognosis of oil prices over the near and medium term.   The current reality is that the North American Market is able to exit the global oil market over the next five to ten years.  This is putting strain on the other market participants who now must lock up customers.  Fortunately China and India are coming on strong, but not so strong that they can support a rising price regime.

My point is that this all works at this price level and plausibly somewhat lower as large Iraqi supplies also hit the market.

In the meantime the conversion to electrical vehicles has begun and is effectively out of its infancy and is about to be come robust as we shift in the coming decade to a full electrical car system.  This will throw an additional 7,000,000 barrels of North American oil out on the same market toward the end of the decade.

However we cut it, the supply side of oil is shifting into supply nightmare with contracting markets racing ahead of fresh expensive oil.  This is the decade we leave the oil age.

This will happen even if we did not have the Rossi Focardi reactor hitting the market already to supply unlimited electrical power and surplus heat.  That technology is the end of nuclear and coal.

In short I am a super bear on the energy industry generally and think that all the changes are upon us now and simply have not been felt yet.  Present noise is the last hiccups before reality catches up to the industry itself.

The Oil End Game With Chris Cook

Author: Yves Smith  ·  February 27th, 2012  

By Chris Cook, former compliance and market supervision director of the International Petroleum Exchange. Cross posted from Asia Times

The end game is about to begin. On the one hand you have the noise and rhetoric. Greedy speculators gouging gasoline prices; mad mullahs preparing to wipe Israel off the map; bunker buster bombs and fleets being positioned; huge demand for oil from the BRIC countries; China’s insatiable thirst for oil; the oil price will head for $200 a barrel and will never again fall below $130 …

On the other hand you have the reality.

Oil Markets

The oil markets are completely manipulated and orchestrated, and the conductors of the orchestra have the benefit of having already held a rehearsal in 2008.

History never repeats itself, but it does rhyme. This time around it is not demand from the United States that is collapsing, but European Union and United Kingdom demand, as oil prices in euros and pounds sterling have never been higher. In the meantime, the US is awash in oil as domestic production quietly increases, flushed out by the high prices.

As I have outlined in previous articles, the culprit for the high oil prices between 2009 and 2012 – with the exception of the speculative “spike” between March 2011 and June 2011 driven by Fukushima and Libyan price shocks – has been passive investment by risk-averse investors, which enabled producers to support oil prices at high levels.

Much of this passive money underpinning the market and enabling producers to monetize inventory pulled out of the market in September 2011, and another wave pulled out in December 2011.

What is now happening is the end game: an orchestrated wave of noise that is drawing in speculative money. This is enabling the producers who are actually in the know to hedge by selling production forward during what they confidently expect will be a temporary – and pre-planned – managed fall in the oil price.

The Game Plan

The smartest kids on the block knows that gasoline prices much over US$4 per gallon will be both deflationary and lethal to President Barack Obama’s re-election chances. So that won’t happen other than briefly.

I am by no means the only commentator who has pointed out the complete counter-productivity of these oil sanctions. The smart kids are well aware that oil sanctions are completely useless, and simply enable China to fill its strategic reserves at a discount to the market price at the expense of Greece and Italy in particular.

But the US has been quite happy to let the EU – as useful idiots – take the economic hit. The high oil prices caused by all this noise and nonsense are actually a net benefit to Iran – which rattles its sabre loudly as elections approach.

The effect of a managed decline in oil prices to, and probably over-correcting well through, $60 a barrel – which is coming fairly soon – will be extremely beneficial to the US in two ways.

Firstly, it will be catastrophic in particular for Iran, Russia and Venezuela – not exactly on the White House party list – whose hugely oil-dependent revenues will collapse. The ensuing economic mayhem will open these countries up to regime change and to rescue plans which Wall Street will be dusting off.

Teenagers Are More Vulnerable to Sport Concussions

The long term effects of concussions and sports concussions have been obvious to the blind, dumb and stupid forever.  Just what do you think punch drunk actually meant anyway.  Finally we are awakening as a culture to the fact that this may actually be unacceptable.  Now the problem will devolve into a struggle to make all sports at least, generally head injury proof. 

This may also mean making the spine proof against injury also if that is even possible.

Where we are going with all this is a rethink of our sports.  Football clearly needs superior head protection and the actual use of the helmet as a weapon must be prevented.  The same goes for hockey were the lack of leverage is fully offset by the speeds involved.

This paper also shows us that we now have the imaging tools able to properly detect the effects of a concussion.  This means that injured players are going off for the year it takes to restore their health at all levels.  Expect to see plenty of folks sitting out the season quite soon.

This will impact the financial health of the pro teams and perhaps that will drive a move for real change.

Of yes, get ready to say goodbye to boxing as played.

Teenagers Are More Vulnerable to Sport Concussions

Released: 2/27/2012 6:00 AM EST 

Embargo expired: 2/28/2012 6:00 AM EST

Newswise — MONTREAL, February 28, 2012 – Research results published in Brain Injury by Université de Montréal neuropsychologist Dave Ellemberg reveal that adolescents are more sensitive to the effects of a sport-related concussion than adults or children. These kinds of injuries mostly affect their working memory – the brain function that enables us to process and store short-term information and that is essential for activities such as reading and mental calculation. “The frontal regions of the brain are more vulnerable to concussions. These areas oversee executive functions responsible for planning, organizing and managing information. During adolescence, these functions are developing rapidly which makes them more fragile to stress and trauma,” explained Dr. Ellemberg, who is a professor at the university’s Department of Kinesiology.

Nevertheless, the research also shows that a first concussion will result in six months to a year of neurophysiological side effects for adolescents, adults and children alike. In addition to the working memory, the ability to sustain attention and focus is also affected. The study is the first of its kind to measure the impact of sport-related concussions on children. It is also the first to compare the consequences of the trauma on three different age groups.

“For a long time, we believed that the brain of a child was more plastic and could therefore better recover from an accident or stress,” says Ellemberg. “In recent years, we’ve realized that quite to the contrary, a child’s brain is more vulnerable. Our research shows that children are as afflicted as adults by a concussion.”

More sensitive tests

The study was also special in that it relied on the use of electrophysiological evaluation techniques that better target chronic side effects. Professor Ellemberg and his team worked with 96 athletes, a third of whom were adults. There were two other groups: children between the ages of 9 and 12 and between 13 and 16. The participants underwent traditional neuropsychological tests used by the National Hockey League. They compared the results with those obtained from electrophysiology measuring working memory, attention and inhibition while doing computerized tasks.

“The traditional tests are very efficient to determine the immediate impacts of concussions, but aren’t as reliable as electrophysiology to pick up on long-term side effects,” Ellemberg said. “Electrophysiology allows us to see the response from the athlete and from his or her neurons which are sometimes independent from one another. Therefore, certain participants showed weakness during certain electrophysiological tasks that the neuropsychological tests hadn’t picked up on.”

Dramatic consequences for youngsters

The relapse of football players after months of recovery following a concussion continues to alarm many fans and ignites debate regarding the trauma. But according to Ellemberg, these athletes aren’t the worst off. “Let’s not forget that professional players have the luxury of taking months to recover – a luxury that a child or adolescent cannot afford. After a concussion we impose cognitive rest, meaning no school, no television, no video games, and physical rest as well. This absence combined with the potentially chronic impact on the working memory can handicap a child’s future,” Ellemberg said.

According to the Professor, these results force us to re-evaluate our understanding of sport-related concussions. “The situation is more serious than we think,” says Ellemberg. “Contrarily to professional athletes, youngsters don’t have a medical doctor and a protocol in place for becoming active again. However, for me, their brain is more important than the brain of a famous football player. It needs to be protected with the right diagnostic tools and an adapted framework. Obviously, concussions are a part of sport, but we can reduce their occurrence by limiting dangerous situations. Youngsters must pursue their activities in a secure environment where people know how to treat concussions.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Study Links Industrial Milk to Cancer

The CDC deserves this study just because they are aggressively suppressing any form of raw milk sales whatsoever using the worst police type tactics.

This study is an outright indictment of the dangers of the present systems of industrial agriculture that have never been properly vetted let alone truly tested for the obvious dangers now been addressed.

You the consumer has no knowledge of what has been done to deliver milk to your table.  The protocols described here will certainly maximize milk production, but also at the clear price of the implied quality issues.  The problem today is that these issues have not been addressed clearly yet it is already in our food supply.

All of a sudden big dairy faces the real risk of a plausible class action suit because they did not fully vet their practices.  That is what they are playing with.

The regulation of all this is simple.  Maximum herd size needs to be specified and maximum land loading also needs to be specified.  We are merely seeing what results when you do not do this.

This puts herd quality back in the hands of the individual operator who has a reputation to protect.  The rest after that is applying good science even to the point of using alternative pasteurization methods possibly at the farm level.  The present technology is also usable at that level for a hundred head of cattle with a little engineering.

Harvard study: Pasteurized milk from industrial dairies linked to cancer

Monday, February 27, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The truth has once again shaken the foundation of the 'American Tower of Babel' that is mainstream science, with a new study out of Harvard University showing that pasteurized milk product from factory farms is linked to causing hormone-dependent cancers. It turns out that the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) model of raising cows on factory farms churns out milk with dangerously high levels of estrone sulfate, an estrogen compound linked to testicular, prostate, and breast cancers.

Dr. Ganmaa Davaasambuu, Ph.D., and her colleagues specifically identified "milk from modern dairy farms" as the culprit, referring to large-scale confinement operations where cows are milked 300 days of the year, including while they are pregnant. Compared to raw milk from her native Mongolia, which is extracted only during the first six months after cows have already given birth, pasteurized factory milk was found to contain up to 33 times more estrone sulfate.

Evaluating data from all over the world, Dr. Davaasambuu and her colleagues identified a clear link between consumption of such high-hormone milk, and high rates of hormone-dependent cancers. In other words, contrary to what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the conventional milk lobby would have you believe, processed milk from factory farms is not a health product, and is directly implicated in causing cancer.

"The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our ancestors were drinking" without apparent harm for 2,000 years, Dr. Davaasambuu is quoted as saying in the Harvard University Gazette. "The milk we drink today may not be nature's perfect food."

Meanwhile, raw, grass-fed, organic milk from cows milked at the proper times is linked to improving digestion, healing autoimmune disorders, and boosting overall immunity, which can help prevent cancer. Though you will never hear any of this from the mainstream media, all milk is not the same -- the way a cow is raised, when it is milked, and how its milk is handled and processed makes all the difference in whether or not the end product promotes health or death.

American government seeks to further perpetuate the lie that all milk is the same with egregious new provisions in 2012 Farm Bill

Of particular concern are new provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill that create even more incentives for farmers to produce the lowest quality, and most health-destroying, type of milk possible. Rather than incentivize grazing cows on pastures, which allows them to feed on grass, a native food that their systems can process, the government would rather incentivize confined factory farming methods that force cows to eat genetically-modified (GM) corn and other feed, which makes them sick.

As it currently stands, the government already provides incentives for farmers to stop pasturing their animals, instead confining them in cages as part of a Total Confinement Dairy Model, aka factory farms. But the 2012 Farm Bill will take this a step further by outlawing "component pricing" for milk, which involves allowing farmers to sell milk with higher protein and butterfat at a higher price.

Allowing farmers to sell higher quality milk at a higher price provides an incentive for them to improve the living conditions on their farms, and milk better cow breeds. But the U.S. government would rather standardize all milk as being the same, and create a system where farmers continue to produce cancer-causing milk from sick cows for the millions of children to drink.

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Studying the Evolution of Life's Building Blocks

I am enamored of the idea that chemistry may be written up as a language formed with chemical syllables and a natural logic that predestines the initial emergence of life and its structure.  Work such as this is very much in that vein.  Looking at the patterns is a good way to imagine the form of that language and from there we may be able to produce a symbolic system of representation.

Such a system would go much further in providing us a natural framework to guide our research in biological chemistry.  It should be predictive.

It is good to see many researchers recently tackling the foundational issue of the emergence of life.

Studying the evolution of life's building blocks

by Staff Writers

Vancouver, Canada (SPX) Feb 27, 2012

One aspect of Root-Bernstein's research is studying the small glucose binding sequences that occur in all protein and peptides like insulin. Focusing on these basic building blocks could provide new insights into diseases such as diabetes.

Studying the origin of life at its building blocks offers a unique perspective on evolution, says Robert Root-Bernstein, MSU physiology professor, at Michigan State University.

Paleontologists study ancient life and reason that each species is a modification of the previous generation. Geneticists embrace this theory and trace the lineage of genes.

Root-Bernstein wondered if there could be another level of paleontology embedded in the molecules that reflect evolution from the earliest stages of life and found in prebiotic chemistry, the study of chemical reactions that may have sparked the beginnings of life.

"By studying modules built from very simple chemicals, I'm hoping that it will lead to an understanding of a molecular paleontology in modern systems," he said. "Whether it's a human or a bacterium, we're all made from the same basic modules that have more than likely been around since the beginning of time."

For example, one aspect of Root-Bernstein's research is studying the small glucose binding sequences that occur in all protein and peptides like insulin. Focusing on these basic building blocks could provide new insights into diseases such as diabetes.

Having the characteristic of taking a nontraditional view has helped further Root-Bernstein's research.

"Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the physiologist who discovered vitamin C, once defined discovery as seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no one else thinks," he said. "I often find that phenomena that are obvious to other people are not obvious to me."

Root-Bernstein's ability to seek the common chemical building blocks between bacteria and humans formally known as molecular complementarity, is a distinctive view.

This shared set of modules could be the basis for the evolution of the chemicals systems on which life is based, he added. It could, in fact, be the essential agent controlling evolution at every level.

"I study molecular complementarity mainly because I'm a pattern seeker, even when I was an undergraduate," Root-Bernstein said. "I hope to help answer how life evolved to take advantage of molecular complementarity so that the two concepts are virtually synonymous."

How Greece Could Take Down Wall Street With Ellen Brown

What we learn again is that massive speculations have been made based on a narrow envelop of price movement that is profoundly vulnerable to a wider shift in pricing.  The more serious problem is that the banks cannot really get out of them.  To stay legal in the Greek situation they needed to pretend that Greece was not in default.

In practice, these huge banks are all wiped out without any form of a workout mechanism in place or even possible.  The point in all this is that they could not afford to allow Greece to actually fail and this should have been an easy chop although painful.  A Greek failure represents only a small point or two of the gross in play and should be easily resolved.  The problem is that banking is operating at the sovereign level with multiples of forty to one which can withstand no default.  It is really a no default financial system which works well enough unless someone goes rogue and that is certainly the present Greek social contract.

It is probably time to nationalize the big five and then split out the components into much smaller State sized pieces.  Perhaps they need to leave the sovereign debt business itself.  Their conflict of interest with the corporate lending portfolio is huge and unrelenting.

How Greece Could Take Down Wall Street

by Ellen Brown
Global Research, February 21, 2012
In an article titled “Still No End to ‘Too Big to Fail,’” William Greider wrote in The Nation on February 15th:
Financial market cynics have assumed all along that Dodd-Frank did not end "too big to fail" but instead created a charmed circle of protected banks labeled "systemically important" that will not be allowed to fail, no matter how badly they behave.
That may be, but there is one bit of bad behavior that Uncle Sam himself does not have the funds to underwrite: the $32 trillion market in credit default swaps (CDS).  Thirty-two trillion dollars is more than twice the U.S. GDP and more than twice the national debt. 
CDS are a form of derivative taken out by investors as insurance against default.  According to the Comptroller of the Currency, nearly 95% of the banking industry’s total exposure to derivatives contracts is held by the nation’s five largest banks: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC, and Goldman Sachs.  The CDS market is unregulated, and there is no requirement that the “insurer” actually have the funds to pay up.  CDS are more like bets, and a massive loss at the casino could bring the house down.
It could, at least, unless the casino is rigged.  Whether a “credit event” is a “default” triggering a payout is determined by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), and it seems that the ISDA is owned by the world’s largest banks and hedge funds.  That means the house determines whether the house has to pay. 
The Houses of Morgan, Goldman and the other Big Five are justifiably worried right now, because an “event of default” declared on European sovereign debt could jeopardize their $32 trillion derivatives scheme.  According to Rudy Avizius in an article on The Market Oracle (UK) on February 15th, that explains what happened at MF Global, and why the 50% Greek bond write-down was not declared an event of default. 
If you paid only 50% of your mortgage every month, these same banks would quickly declare you in default.  But the rules are quite different when the banks are the insurers underwriting the deal. 
MF Global: Canary in the Coal Mine?
MF Global was a major global financial derivatives broker until it met its unseemly demise on October 30, 2011, when it filed the eighth-largest U.S. bankruptcy after reporting a “material shortfall” of hundreds of millions of dollars in segregated customer funds.  The brokerage used a large number of complex and controversial repurchase agreements, or "repos," for funding and for leveraging profit.  Among its losing bets was something described as a wrong-way $6.3 billion trade the brokerage made on its own behalf on bonds of some of Europe’s most indebted nations.
Avizius writes:
[A]n agreement was reached in Europe that investors would have to take a write-down of 50% on Greek Bond debt. Now MF Global was leveraged anywhere from 40 to 1, to 80 to 1 depending on whose figures you believe. Let’s assume that MF Global was leveraged 40 to 1, this means that they could not even absorb a small 3% loss, so when the “haircut” of 50% was agreed to, MF Global was finished. It tried to stem its losses by criminally dipping into segregated client accounts, and we all know how that ended with clients losing their money. . . .

However, MF Global thought that they had risk-free speculation because they had bought these CDS from these big banks to protect themselves in case their bets on European Debt went bad. MF Global should have been protected by its CDS, but since the ISDA would not declare the Greek “credit event” to be a default, MF Global could not cover its losses, causing its collapse.
The house won because it was able to define what “ winning” was.  But what happens when Greece or another country simply walks away and refuses to pay?  That is hardly a “haircut.”  It is a decapitation.  The asset is in rigor mortis.  By no dictionary definition could it not qualify as a “default.”
That sort of definitive Greek default is thought by some analysts to be quite likely, and to be coming soon.  Dr. Irwin Stelzer, a senior fellow and director of Hudson Institute’s economic policy studies group, was quoted in Saturday’s Yorkshire Post (UK) as saying:
It’s only a matter of time before they go bankrupt. They are bankrupt now, it’s only a question of how you recognise it and what you call it.
Certainly they will default . . . maybe as early as March. If I were them I’d get out [of the euro].
The Midas Touch Gone Bad
In an article in The Observer (UK) on February 11th  titled “The Mathematical Equation That Caused the Banks to Crash,” Ian Stewart wrote of the Black-Scholes equation that opened up the world of derivatives:
The financial sector called it the Midas Formula and saw it as a recipe for making everything turn to gold.  But the markets forgot how the story of King Midas ended.
As Aristotle told this ancient Greek tale, Midas died of hunger as a result of his vain prayer for the golden touch.  Today, the Greek people are going hungry to protect a rigged $32 trillion Wall Street casino.  Avizius writes:
The money made by selling these derivatives is directly responsible for the huge profits and bonuses we now see on Wall Street. The money masters have reaped obscene profits from this scheme, but now they live in fear that it will all unravel and the gravy train will end. What these banks have done is to leverage the system to such an extreme, that the entire house of cards is threatened by a small country of only 11 million people. Greece could bring the entire world economy down. If a default was declared, the resulting payouts would start a chain reaction that would cause widespread worldwide bank failures, making the Lehman collapse look small by comparison.
Some observers question whether a Greek default would be that bad.  According to a comment on Forbes on October 10, 2011:
[T]he gross notional value of Greek CDS contracts as of last week was €54.34 billion, according to the latest report from data repository Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC). DTCC is able to undertake internal netting analysis due to having data on essentially all of the CDS market. And it reported that the net losses would be an order of magnitude lower, with the maximum amount of funds that would move from one bank to another in connection with the settlement of CDS claims in a default being just €2.68 billion, total.  If DTCC’s analysis is correct, the CDS market for Greek debt would not much magnify the consequences of a Greek default—unless it stimulated contagion that affected other European countries. 
It is the “contagion,” however, that seems to be the concern.  Players who have hedged their bets by betting both ways cannot collect on their winning bets; and that means they cannot afford to pay their losing bets, causing other players to also default on their bets.  The dominos go down in a cascade of cross-defaults that infects the whole banking industry and jeopardizes the global pyramid scheme.  The potential for this sort of nuclear reaction was what prompted billionaire investor Warren Buffett to call derivatives “weapons of financial mass destruction.”  It is also why the banking system cannot let a major derivatives player—such as Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers—go down.  What is in jeopardy is the derivatives scheme itself.  According to an article in The Wall Street Journal on January 20th:
Hanging in the balance is the reputation of CDS as an instrument for hedgers and speculators—a $32.4 trillion market as of June last year; the value that may be assigned to sovereign debt, and $2.9 trillion of sovereign CDS, if the protection isn't seen as reliable in eliciting payouts; as well as the impact a messy Greek default could have on the global banking system.
Players in the future may simply refuse to play.  When the house is so obviously rigged, the legitimacy of the whole CDS scheme is called into question.  As MF Global found out the hard way, there is no such thing as “risk-free speculation” protected with derivatives.   
Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute,  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back.  Her websites are  and

Ellen Brown is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Ellen Brown

Fungal Pathway to Reducing Plastic

This is rather excellent news. We now have a biological pathway for breaking down our nastiest plastic that appears likely to be useful.  Artificial Taxol can be used in controlled settings though I suspect we will need to apply the living fungus were we need it most in our land fills.

We will never catch up to the junk sitting in the ocean which is a huge problem although I suspect natural pathways will surely catch up to all that also.  Our real problem remains landfills in which the plastic component resists easy destruction for decades.  Inoculating with a fungal agent is a perfect solution.

At least we now have hope that this problem can be eliminated,  Plastic fungal reduction and normal bacterial reduction will then ultimately reduce all carbon based components once and for all and the landfill will become neutral.

Anti-cancer fungus found to naturally eat away plastic waste

Monday, February 27, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) What if it was possible to eliminate much of the world's otherwise very-slowly-biodegrading plastic waste using a natural Amazonian fungus? Well, it just might be, thanks to research conducted by Jonathan Russell and colleagues from Yale University's Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, who recently discovered that Pestalotiopsis microspora effectively eats away polyurethane (PUR) plastics, and is capable of using plastic as its sole food source in both aerobic and anaerobic environments.

Entitled Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi, the study aimed to find new potential plant sources of bioremediation, also known as the use of microorganisms to biodegrade and eliminate pollutants that otherwise persist in the environment. Several students attending Yale's annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory course collected various samples from the Yasuni National Forest in the Amazon basin, and took them home for testing.

Of all the microorganisms tested, nine of the most active came from the Pestalotiopsis genus, which represents the first time endophytic fungi have been identified as having bioremediation properties. It was discovered that a key enzyme in this fungal genus known as taxol is responsible for eating away PUR, and that this "extracellular, secreted and diffusible" substance diffuses to "a significant distance," which means it has huge potential for large-scale PUR cleanup efforts.

"This is the first study that demonstrates PUR degradation by endophytic fungi," wrote the authors in their discussion. "The broad distribution of activity suggests that endophytes might be a promising source of biodiversity in which to test for activities important for bioremediation."

Taxol, which is also derived from the bark of Pacific Yew trees, happens to be the same enzyme used in conventional medicine to treat cancer patients. Though it is now administered to patients in synthetic, patented forms created by drug companies that now produce it using genetically-modified (GM) bacterium, taxol in its natural form has demonstrable anti-cancer properties, and has been used in native cultures by herbalists to treat disease naturally.

As interesting as this new discovery about taxol's PUR bioremediation properties may be, it is more than likely that, should this substance ever be used to eat plastics on an industrial scale, it will likely be derived from synthetic, patented sources rather than from natural sources. But as it currently stands, the Pestalotiopsis genus of endophytic fungi appear to be nature's built-in remedy for helping to keep the environment clean and toxin-free, as it already appears to be performing this function in rainforests around the world.

Sources for this article include: