Brennan takes oath on draft Constitution—without Bill of Rights
By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News
Vice President Joe Biden swears in CIA Director John Brennan at the White House, March 8, 2013. (David Lienemann/Official
Oh, dear. This is probably not the symbolism the White House wanted.
Hours after CIA Director John Brennan took the oath of office—behind closed doors, far away from the press, perhaps befitting his status as America’s top spy—the White House took pains to emphasize the symbolism of the ceremony.
“There’s one piece of this that I wanted to note for you,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at their daily briefing. “Director Brennan was sworn in with his hand on an original draft of the Constitution that had George Washington’s personal handwriting and annotations on it, dating from 1787.”
Earnest said Brennan had asked for a document from the National Archives that would demonstrate the U.S. is a nation of laws.
“Director Brennan told the president that he made the request to the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office as director of the CIA,” Earnest said.
The Constitution itself went into effect in 1789. But troublemaking blogger Marcy Wheeler points out that what was missing from the Constitution in 1787 is also quite symbolic: The Bill of Rights, which did not officially go into effect until December 1791 after ratification by states. (Caution: Marcy’s post has some strong language.)
That means: No freedom of speech and of the press, no right to bear arms, no Fourth Amendment ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and no right to a jury trial.
Democratic Rep: Amend Constitution To Allow Control Of Speech
– A Democratic representative is calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would allow for some legislative restriction of freedom of speech.
“We need a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was quoted as saying by CNS News.
He reportedly made these comments while speaking at the Annesbrooks HOA candidate Forum held last month.
In a video obtained by the website, Johnson asserts that “corporations control … patterns of thinking.”
“They control the media. They control the messages that you get,” he added. “And these folks … are setting up a scenario where they’re privatizing every aspect of our lives as we know it. So, wake up! Wake up! Let’s look at what’s happening.”
Corporations and unions are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution because of the ruling in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” which found that a state law prohibiting corporations from making political campaign contributions using their treasury funds was unconstitutional.
The ruling additionally stated that the spending was a form of political speech that is protected by the First Amendment, according to the official blog of the Supreme Court of the United States.
“These corporations, along with the people they support, other millionaires who they’re putting into office, are stealing your government,” Johnson was quoted as saying by CNS News. “They’re stealing the government and the U.S. Supreme Court was a big enabler with the Citizens United case.”
Obama Ballot Access Challenge Hearing – Gavel to Gavel Live Video Stream Coverage from Atlanta GA
My comment and reaction to today’s legal proceedings in GA:
Today I give thanks to God and the great state of Georgia which demonstrated that we are in some parts of our nation still a nation of laws and not men. Obama and his attorney thumbed their noses at the Georgia court and the entire judicial system and decided not to even show up at the court hearing in Atlanta GA today to present evidence and the real 3-dimensional identity documents requested and subpoenaed, not merely digital images on the internet. Obama thinks he is a King and thus not subject to the election laws of Georgia and the United States Constitution. He will soon learn otherwise. As the Georgia Secretary of State said in warning Obama and his attorney if they did not show up for the court hearing today … if they do that, they will do so at their own peril. See results below. CDR Charles Kerchner (Ret), cdrkerchner.wordpress.com
Prior link to the live coverage, now over, was at 9 a.m. EST 26 Jan 2012 at this link: http://www.art2superpac.com/
Update 12:45 pm : Based on watching the live feed. Obama’s attorney was a no show. Hearing was conducted without him. At least one of the attorney’s pointed out to the judge that Obama’s attorney not showing up was showing contempt to the court and to the entire judicial system. There was a short private meeting in the Judge’s chambers prior to the start of the hearing. The hearing ended after about two hours of presentation by the various lawyers for the plaintiff’s side including getting testimony from witnesses and presenting the court exhibits and Supreme Court case law covering the issue of natural born Citizenship and that Obama is not “natural born Citizen of the United States” and thus is not eligible to be on the GA ballot. Atty Taitz also introduced evidence and witness testimony regarding Obama’s identity fraud activities regarding the Connecticut SSN and the forged online birth certificate. The judge is allowing some additional time for the both sides to submit written briefs to him before he makes his decision. As I understand it, he will release the final outcome and his decision sometime in early February. But he was obviously not happy that Obama and his attorneys stiffed the court. More details will be posted as additional information is provided by those who physically attended the hearing.
Update 1:05 pm: Per telecon between G Wilmott and Dean Haskins which was relayed to me. Dean Haskins who was in the courtroom this morning assisting with the Art 2Pac live stream. Judge Malihi talked to the attorneys in chambers before the hearing this morning and told them that he was going to enter a DEFAULT JUDGMENT against Obama and recommend that Obama’s name not be on the Georgia ballot! All the attorneys expressed a desire to put an abbreviated streamlined case on the record and the judge agreed. How does the mainstream media spin this? The Georgia SOS has already indicated that he will follow the judge’s recommendation. Obama will not get any popular vote or electors from the great state of Georgia! Congratulations to all freedom-loving Americans!
More coverage and news about the hearing here: http://obamareleaseyourrecords.blogspot.com/2012/01/georgia-ballot-hearing-judge-wanted-to.html
Brief report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper site trying to put the best spin they could on Obama defaulting the case by him or his legal team not showing up today: http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/no-ruling-in-birther-1318374.html
# # # #
Barack Obama is NOT a “natural born Citizen of the United States” and is thus constitutionally ineligible to be the President and Commander in Chief of our military. Obama was born to a FOREIGN NATIONAL FATHER who was NEVER a U.S. Citizen nor was Obama’s father even an immigrant to the USA or even a permanent resident in the USA. For no other U.S. President in the history of the nation since the founding generation (who were exempt from the natural born Citizen clause in the U.S. Constitution via a grandfather clause in Article II Section 1) was that the case, i.e., having a foreign national father who was never a U.S. Citizen or even an immigrant to this country. Obama being seated as the putative president is an outrageous violation of Article II Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the presidential eligibility clause. Obama was not born with sole allegiance to the USA. Sole allegiance and unity of Citizenship at birth was the goal and purpose for putting the natural born Citizen clause into Article II Section 1 of the Constitution as to who could serve as president once the founding generation has passed away. Obama (II) was born a British Subject via his foreign national father Obama (Sr.) who was a British Subject. Obama is not a “natural born Citizen of the United States” to constitutional standards since he was born with dual allegiance and citizenship. The founders and framers did not want anyone with foreign allegiance to ever get command of our military, i.e., be the president. Obama is constitutionally not eligible to be president and commander in chief of our military.
Adjectives mean something. A “Citizen at Birth” is not logically identically equal to a “natural born Citizen at Birth”. Barack Obama may be a ‘Citizen of the United States’ but he is not a ‘natural born Citizen of the United States’ and does not meet the constitutional standards as to who can be the President and Commander in Chief of our military: http://puzo1.blogspot.com/2010/03/obama-maybe-citizen-of-united-states.html
The natural born Citizen clause in our Constitution is a national security clause inserted into our Constitution by John Jay and George Washington. Read why the natural born Citizen clause is still important and worth protecting.
Five Citizenship Terms Mentioned in the U.S. Constitution: http://www.scribd.com/doc/11737124/Citizenship-Terms-Used-in-the-US-Constitution-The-5-Terms-Defined-Some-Legal-Reference-to-Same
Of Trees and Plants and Basic Logic and Citizenship Types: http://www.scribd.com/doc/44814496/Of-Trees-and-Plants-and-Basic-Logic-Citizen-at-Birth-NOT-Identical-to-Natural-Born-Citizen
See evidence Obama forged the birth certificate posted on White House servers 27 Apr 2011: http://www.scribd.com/collections/3166684
See evidence Obama is using a SSN 042-68-4425 not legally issued to him: http://www.scribd.com/collections/3260742
See evidence of Obama’s forged and back dated draft registration here: http://www.debbieschlussel.com/4428/exclusive-did-next-commander-in-chief-falsify-selective-service-registration-never-actually-register-obamas-draft-registration-raises-serious-questions/
The Obama constitutional eligibility issue is not a fringe issue! South Carolina Poll Results – A poll done by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that almost 2/3 of GOP voters want Obama’s constitutional eligibility and true legal identity investigated. This is not a fringe issue: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.printable&pageId=340805
CDR Charles Kerchner (Ret)
Lehigh Valley PA USA
“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation without knowing how it happened.” Ronald Reagan alerting us to Norman Thomas’ and the socialist/progressives’ long-term stealth agenda to transform the USA from a constitutional republic into a top-down, central controlled, socialist form of government
Seven ways Rick Perry wants to change the Constitution
By Chris Moody | The Ticket
Rick Perry has many ideas about how to change the American government’s founding document. From ending lifetime tenure for federal judges to completely scrapping two whole amendments, the Constitution would see a major overhaul if the Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate had his druthers.
Perry laid out these proposed innovations to the founding document in his book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington. He has occasionally mentioned them on the campaign trail. Several of his ideas fall within the realm of mainstream conservative thinking today, but, as you will see, there are also a few surprises.
1. Abolish lifetime tenure for federal judges by amending Article III, Section I of the Constitution.
The nation’s framers established a federal court system whereby judges with “good behavior” would be secure in their job for life. Perry believes that provision is ready for an overhaul.
“The Judges,” reads Article III, “both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”
Perry makes it no secret that he believes the judges on the bench over the past century have acted beyond their constitutional bounds. The problem, Perry reasons, is that members of the judiciary are “unaccountable” to the people, and their lifetime tenure gives them free license to act however they want. In his book, the governor speaks highly of plans to limit their tenure and offers proposals about how to accomplish it.
“‘[W]e should take steps to restrict the unlimited power of the courts to rule over us with no accountability,” he writes in Fed Up! “There are a number of ideas about how to do this . . . . One such reform would be to institute term limits on what are now lifetime appointments for federal judges, particularly those on the Supreme Court or the circuit courts, which have so much power. One proposal, for example, would have judges roll off every two years based on seniority.”
2. Congress should have the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds vote.
Ending lifetime tenure for federal justices isn’t the only way Perry has proposed suppressing the power of the courts. His book excoriates at length what he sees as overreach from the judicial branch. (The title of Chapter Six is “Nine Unelected Judges Tell Us How to Live.”)
Giving Congress the ability to veto their decisions would be another way to take the Court down a notch, Perry says.
“[A]llow Congress to override the Supreme Court with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, which risks increased politicization of judicial decisions, but also has the benefit of letting the people stop the Court from unilaterally deciding policy,” he writes.
3. Scrap the federal income tax by repealing the Sixteenth Amendment.
The Sixteenth Amendment gives Congress the “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” It should be abolished immediately, Perry says.
Calling the Sixteenth Amendment “the great milestone on the road to serfdom,” Perry’s writes that it provides a virtually blank check to the federal government to use for projects with little or no consultation from the states.
4. End the direct election of senators by repealing the Seventeenth Amendment.
Overturning this amendment would restore the original language of the Constitution, which gave state legislators the power to appoint the members of the Senate.
Ratified during the Progressive Era in 1913 , the same year as the Sixteenth Amendment, the Seventeenth Amendment gives citizens the ability to elect senators on their own. Perry writes that supporters of the amendment at the time were “mistakenly” propelled by “a fit of populist rage.”
“The American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income (the Sixteenth Amendment) and by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment),” he writes.
5. Require the federal government to balance its budget every year.
Of all his proposed ideas, Perry calls this one “the most important,” and of all the plans, a balanced budget amendment likely has the best chance of passage.
“The most important thing we could do is amend the Constitution–now–to restrict federal spending,” Perry writes in his book. “There are generally thought to be two options: the traditional ‘balanced budget amendment’ or a straightforward ‘spending limit amendment,’ either of which would be a significant improvement. I prefer the latter . . . . Let’s use the people’s document–the Constitution–to put an actual spending limit in place to control the beast in Washington.”
A campaign to pass a balanced budget amendment through Congress fell short by just one vote in the Senate in the 1990s.
Last year, House Republicans proposed a spending-limit amendment that would limit federal spending to 20 percent of the economy. According to the amendment’s language, the restriction could be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress or by a declaration of war.
6. The federal Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman in all 50 states.
Despite saying last month that he was “fine with” states like New York allowing gay marriage, Perry has now said he supports a constitutional amendment that would permanently ban gay marriage throughout the country and overturn any state laws that define marriage beyond a relationship between one man and one woman.
“I do respect a state’s right to have a different opinion and take a different tack if you will, California did that,” Perry told the Christian Broadcasting Network in August. “I respect that right, but our founding fathers also said, ‘Listen, if you all in the future think things are so important that you need to change the Constitution here’s the way you do it’.
In an interview with The Ticket earlier this month, Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said that even though it would overturn laws in several states, the amendment still fits into Perry’s broader philosophy because amendments require the ratification of three-fourths of the states to be added to the Constitution.
7. Abortion should be made illegal throughout the country.
Like the gay marriage issue, Perry at one time believed that abortion policy should be left to the states, as was the case before the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. But in the same Christian Broadcasting Network interview, Perry said that he would support a federal amendment outlawing abortion because it was “so important…to the soul of this country and to the traditional values [of] our founding fathers.”
It’s already happening – the liberal dream of a perpetual social welfare state where deadbeat liberal constituencies feed off of the work of productive conservative citizens in perpetuity is dying. There’s no doubt about that; the only question left is how long and hard the process will be as the hideous leviathan the utopian liberal establishment has created convulses and dies.
It’s going to die hard. And ugly.
The collapse is well-underway in Europe – Greece has gone from the cradle of democracy to a cesspool of union-fueled mobs – but America faces the same trauma. As the contradictions inherent in the vision of a societal plan based on the notion that an ever-expanding pool of Democratic-voting serfs sucking the wealth away from the mostly Republican-oriented producers who labored to create it become more apparent, the reactions and rear-guard efforts of the terminal liberal elite will grow more extreme.
We are already seeing the liberal elite lash out in anger and frustration at what is a perfect storm of failure. Glenn Reynolds, the legendary Instapundit, chronicles the daily disintegration, while the brilliant Mark Steyn’s cheery new book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, drops on August 8, 2011 – I’ll race you to Amazon to get a copy.
As the three components of the liberal establishment – the media, the unions and politicians – rage at the dying of the liberal light, the insanity meter will swing far into the red. It’s already begun. The Tea Party has dared to speak the truth, and the uncomfortable realities it has pointed out have destroyed the bogus consensus that has allowed the debt Titanic to sail giddily on toward the iceberg. That’s why the establishment response is to demonize the popular movement. We’re “terrorists” or “lunatics” or, bizarrely, “hobbits.” Our crime is telling the truth.
Never mind that the Tea Party candidates were absolutely clear about their debt crisis solution when running for election – the voters spoke. Apparently, the only polls that matter get taken around the tables at Manhattan and Georgetown dinner parties – and, oddly, the results are always unanimous in favor of a “compromise” that tries to shore-up the crumbling status quo.
The problem with the Tea Party is not what it does – at best, right now, it can only make a moral and political case; it does not have the numbers to make anything happen without non-Tea Partiers joining it. The problem with the Tea Partiers, in the eyes of the liberal establishment and the pet moderate GOP enablers, is that it dares to point out the indisputable truth that must be hidden at all costs: That the social welfare state is unsustainable and will collapse.
But the demonization campaign does not seem to be working as expected – amazingly, the Tea Party caucus was able to provide the missing spine to the go-along/get-along gang running the House and present a primary-based incentive to the collegial Senate Republicans who have to face the voters next year and don’t want to join booted squish ex-Utah senator Bob Bennett in his new sinecure as the MSM’s go-to, slam-the-conservatives, pseudo-GOP nobody. While the resulting deal was terrible, it was still a massive humiliation for the liberal establishment. They are not in a forgiving mood, and it’s easier to hate on the Tea Party than face the fact that they’ve driven us to bankruptcy.
So when demonization doesn’t work, government lifers like Senator Kerry advocate silencing the opposition. One might think that a United States senator demanding that the media refuse to report the views of his political opponents because too many people are accepting them might stir some outrage in the media. But then, if you did, you probably might believe in unicorns, leprechauns and global warming as well.
Instead of a chorus of outrage at this creepy fascism, the media elite seem to think this is a great idea. But that should not be a surprise. The media – at least the old media (call it the MSM) – is dying, killed off not only by technology that allows conservatives to evade the gates it used to defend to prevent the political discourse from being contaminated with ideas that challenge its foundational liberal premises. It is grasping at a life preserver, trying to take in a few more lungfuls of air before it sinks under forever.
With the establishment politicians far “out of their depth” in response to the coming crisis, watch for more moves by the Left not to resolve the situation but to kill the messenger. Do not put it past the elite to actually try again to limit debate using law and/or regulations. They still salivate at the notion of killing off conservative radio by resurrecting the Orwellian Fairness Doctrine, and the government at one point argued that it had the right to criminally prosecute citizens for publishing a book critical of politicians until it backed down. Note that the MSM strongly supports these forays into fascism – not surprising since they think that the Constitution that allows conservatives’ voice to be heard is a “problem.”
But it will be impossible to regulate conservative opposition out of existence – not just because of the First Amendment but because the coming reckoning will be so severe that it can no longer be swept under the rug. Yet, rug sweeping will become their next strategy. Playing off the demonization tactics, they will continue to attempt to engage moderate – read “squishy” – Republicans toward some sort of “compromise” that will give them just a bit more time before everything comes crashing down. Watch for this when the “Super Commission” comes back with its plan. Their goal – get past November 2012 then hopefully use the crisis to their advantage to turn the ship of state even harder to port.
But that’s a fool’s errand. The DC establishment can ignore math, but math won’t ignore it. There is simply not enough wealth that exists or can be imagined into existence through borrowing to support the redistributionist utopia they seek. Greece is a harbinger of the future. The EU will cobble together a bogus bailout that will keep the Hellenic rowboat afloat just a bit longer before it is swamped, but Zorba best learn to swim because it is going under.
Then the other failed states of Europe – Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal – will collapse too, taking with them Europe’s banks and our banks along with them. The only reason we won’t fail first – S&P did not act too early but, rather, far too late in downgrading the US – is that Europe’s social democratic elite is even more delusional than ours.
It’s over. The system must crash and reboot. The choice is a hard landing or a harder landing.
The prescription is clear to anyone looking at the situation, except for the establishment that will not see it because to admit what must be done and embrace it means to wave goodbye to its members’ power, prestige and position. We need to slash spending to less than the revenue we take in – the difference going to pay off the $14 trillion-plus tab. And we need to do it now, not in some hazy future where some other Congress will have to make the tough calls – though reality may just make them for it.
That means a radical return to Constitutional government where the federal government goes back to what it was formed to do – those things set forth in the Constitution and nothing else. The relatively easy part will be zeroing out the cowboy poetry slams, largely unwatched government TV networks and creepy shrimp-on-a-treadmill study grants.
The hard part is the entitlements all of us were promised and none of us will ever see. It means repealing Obamacare, but moreover returning the responsibility for health care to where it belongs – the individual. The same with retirement – Social Security is a ponzi scheme and everyone knows it.
Government student loans, farms subsidies, corporate bailouts, food stamps, Section 8 housing – none of these are federal responsibilities. These should be eliminated not only because they are counterproductive, ineffective and soul-crushing for recipients but because if we don’t do it on our own terms fiscal reality will do it for us cold turkey. And let’s not forget eliminating vast swaths of federal regulations – something that will both free up business and have the added benefit of dumping hundreds of thousands of government loafers off of Uncle Sam’s payroll.
There is a major change coming, and it could get ugly. Union members will do their masters’ bidding with the support of the MSM, threatening violence and maybe committing some. Look for well-planned and carefully-coordinated “spontaneous” mass marches on public buildings by scores of public employee union slugs demanding we keep subsidizing their retirements at full pay at age 50.
Fortunately, again as observed by Glenn Reynolds, the present crop of union activists aren’t the hardscrabble blue collar bruisers of the storied past. Today, most seem to be skinny green tea-sipping public school teachers, naggy Department of Weights & Measures diversity officers, or massive welfare-dispensing office drones clad in form-fitting purple size-XXXXL SEIU t-shirts that were made in China. Not exactly a fearsome crew, unless you’re between them and a muffin.
The Tea Party did not cause what will be a brutal reckoning. It only pointed out the truth and said, “No more” – an unforgivable crime to the people who caused this disaster and want to keep milking the system for as long as possible. The key to getting through the coming trauma – and it will be traumatic, as the social contract the liberals unilaterally imposed is rewritten by an implacable reality – is for the productive citizens of the United States to stand firm and stand fast. In other words, just the way Americans have gotten through every other crisis we’ve faced before.
America’s greatest days need not be in the past. Guided by the Founder’s vision and the principles of the Constitution, we will find that they lie ahead, over just one more hill.
China Wants To Construct A 50 Square Mile Self-Sustaining City South Of Boise, Idaho
Thanks to the trillions of dollars that the Chinese have made flooding our shores with cheap products, China is now in a position of tremendous economic power. So what is China going to do with all of that money? One thing that they have decided to do is to buy up pieces of the United States and set up “special economic zones” inside our country from which they can continue to extend their economic domination. One of these “special economic zones” would be just south of Boise, Idaho and the Idaho government is eager to give it to them. China National Machinery Industry Corporation (Sinomach for short) plans to construct a “technology zone” south of Boise Airport which would ultimately be up to 50 square miles in size. The Chinese Communist Party is the majority owner of Sinomach, so the 10,000 to 30,000 acre “self-sustaining city” that is being planned would essentially belong to the Chinese government. The planned “self-sustaining city” in Idaho would include manufacturing facilities, warehouses, retail centers and large numbers of homes for Chinese workers. Basically it would be a slice of communist China dropped right into the middle of the United States.
According to the Idaho Statesman, the idea would be to build a self-contained city with all services included. It would be modeled after the “special economic zones” that currently exist in China.
Perhaps the most famous of these “special economic zones” is Shenzhen. Back in the 1970s, Shenzhen was just a very small fishing village. Today it is a sprawling metropolis of over 14 million people.
If the Chinese have their way, we will soon be seeing these “special economic zones” pop up all over the United States.
So exactly who is “Sinomach”?
The following description of the company comes directly from the website of Sinomach….
With approval of the State Council, China National Machinery Industry Corporation (SINOMACH) was established in January 1997. SINO-MACH is a large scale, state-owned enterprise group under the supervision of the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
As you can see, Sinomach is basically an arm of the Chinese government.
The borrower is always the servant of the lender, and now China is buying up America.
The reality is that Sinomach is not looking only at Idaho. Sinomach is in discussions to develop “special economic zones” all over the United States.
Sinomach has recently dispatched delegations to Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania to explore the possibility of establishing “special economic zones” in those states.
Will such “self-contained communities” soon start appearing from coast to coast?
According to Dr. Jerome Corsi, the U.S. government has already set up 257 “foreign trade zones” across America. These “foreign trade zones” will apparently be given “special U.S. customs treatment” and will be used to promote global free trade….
“The FTZs tend to be located near airports, with easy access into the continental NAFTA and WTO multi-modal transportation systems being created to move free-trade goods cheaply, quickly and efficiently throughout the continent of North America.”
So what do our politicians think about all of this?
Most of them are greatly in favor of it.
“Idaho’s the last state that should say we don’t want to do business with Asia,” Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little said last year. “Asia’s where the money is.”
So will all of this “foreign investment” really bring jobs back to the American people?
Perhaps a few, but the truth is that these “special economic zones” that the Chinese are setting up are designed to be self-contained communist Chinese communities. Some Americans will likely be employed in these areas, but not nearly as many as our politicians would have you to believe.
In addition, these “special economic zones” represent a massive national security threat. The communist Chinese could potentially be able to bring in and store massive amounts of military equipment virtually undetected.
In the days of the Cold War, we would have never dreamed of giving the Russians a 50 square mile city in the middle of Idaho.
But today we have become convinced that the communist Chinese want to be our great friends.
The following quote originally appeared in the Idaho Statesman, but has since apparently been taken down….
“The Chinese are looking for a beachhead in the United States,” said Idaho Commerce Secretary Don Dietrich. “Idaho is ready to give them one.”
If relations between the U.S. and China go south someday, we will deeply regret giving China so many open doors.
The truth is that you can never fully trust the communist Chinese. Their top military officers talk about a coming conflict with the United States all the time. China is extremely interested in North America. In fact, the Chinese and the Mexicans have even been holding talks on military cooperation.
But even if you don’t consider the communist Chinese to be a military threat, you should be deeply concerned about the economic implications of what is happening.
Today, tens of millions of Americans are wondering why the economy is so bad.
Well, there are a lot of reasons, but the fact that we have sent China thousands of our factories, millions of our jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth is a major contributing factor.
If you do not know the truth about how badly the Chinese economy is wiping the floor with the Americen economy then you need to read this article: “40 Signs The Chinese Economy Is Beating The Living Daylights Out Of The U.S. Economy”.
Beautiful new infrastructure is going up all over China today, and meanwhile many of our once great manufacturing cities are turning into rotted-out war zones.
China would not be what they are today if we had insisted that they abandon the communist system and respect basic human rights before we ever opened up trade with them.
But that did not happen. Instead we enthusiastically welcomed China into the WTO and we let the predatory Chinese system run wild.
In 2010, China had a “current account balance” of over 272 billion dollars, which was the largest in the world.
In 2010, the United States had a “current account balance” of negative 561 billion dollars. According to the CIA world factbook, that put us in last place in the entire world. In fact, our negative current account balance was more than 9 times larger than anyone else in the world. If you go check out this chart it will give you a really good idea of how nightmarish our trade situation has become.
The world is changing and nothing is ever going to be the same again.
Just ask the residents of Boise, Idaho – they are about to have a 50 square mile self-contained communist Chinese city plopped right into their backyard.
The ghost towns of China: Amazing satellite images show cities meant to be home to millions lying deserted
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:53 AM on 18th December 2010
These amazing satellite images show sprawling cities built in remote parts of China that have been left completely abandoned, sometimes years after their construction.
Elaborate public buildings and open spaces are completely unused, with the exception of a few government vehicles near communist authority offices.
Some estimates put the number of empty homes at as many as 64 million, with up to 20 new cities being built every year in the country’s vast swathes of free land.
The photographs have emerged as a Chinese government think tank warns that the country’s real estate bubble is getting worse, with property prices in major cities overvalued by as much as 70 per cent.
Ghost city: Kangbashi was meant to be the urban centre for wealthy coal-mining community Ordos and home to its one million workers, but its roads are eerily empty and the houses stand vacant
The mostly empty city of Bayannao¿er, which boasts a beautiful town hall and World Bank-sponsored water reclamation building
Of the 35 major cities surveyed, property prices in eleven including Beijing and Shanghai were between 30 and 50 per cent above their market value, the China Daily said, citing the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Prices in Fuzhou, capital of the southeastern province of Fujian, had the worst property bubble with average house prices more than 70 per cent higher than their market value, according to the survey conducted in September.
The average price in the 35 cities surveyed was nearly 30 per cent above the market value, the report said.
Property prices have remained stubbornly high despite the government adopting a slew of measures since April including hiking minimum downpayments to at least 30 per cent and ordering banks not to provide loans for third home purchases.
Prices in 70 major cities were up 0.2 per cent in October from the previous month and 8.6 percent higher than a year ago, official data showed.
The increase came after prices gained 0.5 per cent month on month in September, which was the first increase since May.
Property bubble: Zhengzhou New District features vast public buildings that have never been used
Half of Erenhot is empty. The other half is unfinished
Now here’s Kangbashi, a new city with capacity for 300,000 — that houses 30,000
Massive stimulus measures taken since 2008 to fend off the financial crisis injected huge amounts of liquidity in the market and have been blamed for fuelling real estate prices.
‘The government target is not clear and policy is incoherent,’ CASS senior research Ni Pengfei was quoted saying.
According to research carried out by Time magazine, fixed-asset investment in the Asian country accounted for more than 90 per cent of its overall growth – with residential and commercial real estate investment making up nearly a quarter of that.
Regional governments across China have been building massive real estate projects, including Kangbashi in Inner Mongolia and Zhengzhou New District, which have remained empty, because of the high prices and interest in investment.
Kangbashi, which was built in just five years, was meant to be the urban centre for Ordos City – a wealthy coal-mining hub home to 1.5million people.
It was filled with office towers, administrative centres, museums, theatres and sports facilities as well as thousands of homes, but remains virtually deserted.
The ghost city of Dantu has been mostly empty for over a decade
The orange area to the north-east of the Xinyang has yet to be occupied
No cars in the city except for approximately 100 clustered around the government headquarters
Zhengzhou New District residential towers: Soaring property prices in China and high levels of investment has fuelled the construction of up several new cities. Experts fear a subsequent property crash could damage the global economy
Prices have continued to soar, investors have increasingly turned to property speculation fuelling the continued bubble.
The onset of the 2008 global recession was the bursting of the real estate bubble in the U.S. and experts fear a similar situation in China could prove catastrophic for still struggling economies and banking systems.
Beijing has introduced measures to cool ‘ridiculous’ property prices, but the risks of a crash mean the campaign is unlikely to ease up in the next year.
Public discontent has been fuelled by high prices in China’s cities and the measures, introduced in April, have made it more difficult for speculators and developers to hoard land and chase up prices as lending has been restricted.
Wang Shi, chairman of China Vanke – the country’s largest property developer – said: ‘Tightening measures will not loosen next year.
‘If we can control the pace of property price gains within a reasonable range, it’s already an achievement.’
In most neighbourhoods of Dantu, there are no cars, no signs of life
A giant empty hotel sits in the city of Erenhot
This city was built in the middle of a desert: Erenhot, Xilin Gol, Inner Mongolia
Property sales for Vanke already exceeded $15billion so far this year, but Mr Shi has insisted China will not end up in a worse place than Dubai – where a property price bubble imploded during the global financial crisis.
He said: ‘It could be really, really bad without the government stepping in.
‘If the bubble bursts, Japan’s past will be China’s present.’
But short-seller Jim Chanos has issued a more dire warning, and said he expected China’s economy to implode in a real estate bust.
He said the country was ‘on an economic treadmill to hell’ and the country’s bubble was ‘Dubai times 1,000’.
In the 1980s, Tokyo saw a massive rise in property prices and a subsequent crash. The Hong Kong property market experienced a similar phenomenon in the 1990s.
This $19 billion development is packed with blocks of empty houses
This giant new development doesn’t even have a name yet
War Powers Act Does Not Apply to Libya, Obama Argues
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: June 15, 2011
WASHINGTON — The White House is telling Congress that President Obama has the legal authority to continue American participation in the NATO-led air war in Libya, even though lawmakers have not authorized it.
In a broader package of materials the Obama administration is sending to Congress on Wednesday defending its Libya policy, the White House, for the first time, offers lawmakers and the public an argument for why Mr. Obama has not been violating the War Powers Resolution since May 20.
On that day, the Vietnam-era law’s 60-day deadline for terminating unauthorized hostilities appeared to pass. But the White House argued that the activities of United States military forces in Libya do not amount to full-blown “hostilities” at the level necessary to involve the section of the War Powers Resolution that imposes the deadline.
“We are acting lawfully,” said Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, who expanded on the administration’s reasoning in a joint interview with White House Counsel Robert Bauer.
The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces have not been in “hostilities” at least since April 7, when NATO took over leadership in maintaining a no-flight zone in Libya, and the United States took up what is mainly a supporting role — providing surveillance and refueling for allied warplanes — although unmanned drones operated by the United States periodically fire missiles as well.
They argued that United States forces are at little risk in the operation because there are no American troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange meaningful fire with American forces. They said that there was little risk of the military mission escalating, because it is constrained by the United Nations Security Counsel resolution that authorized use of air power to defend civilians.
“We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” Mr. Koh said. “We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped, or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”
The administration unveiled its argument at a time when members of Congress have shown increasing skepticism about the Libya operation. On June 3, the House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring that the mission had not been authorized.
On Wednesday, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, sent Mr. Obama a letter pointing out that even under a flexible interpretation of War Powers Resolution that would allow hostilities to last 90 days without Congressional authorization, Mr. Obama was out of time. Mr. Boehner demanded a legal explanation by Friday.
“Given the mission you have ordered to the U.S. Armed Forces with respect to Libya and the text of the War Powers Resolution, the House is left to conclude that you have made one of two determinations: either you have concluded the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the mission in Libya, or you have determined the War Powers Resolution is contrary to the Constitution,” Mr. Boehner wrote. “The House, and the American people whom we represent, deserve to know the determination you have made.”
It remains to be seen whether majorities in Congress will accept the administration’s argument, defusing the confrontation, or whether the White House’s response will instead fuel greater criticism. Either way, because the War Powers Resolution does not include a definition of “hostilities” and the Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue, the legal debate is likely to be resolved politically, said Rick Pildes, a New York University law professor.
“There is no clear legal answer,” he said. “The president is taking a position, so the question is whether Congress accepts that position, or doesn’t accept that position and wants to insist that the operation can’t continue without affirmative authorization from Congress.”
Ten members of Congress — led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, and Rep. Walter Jones, Republican of North Carolina — filed a lawsuit on Weednesday asking a judge to order Mr. Obama to stop the air war. The suit asserts that the operation is illegal because Congress did not authorize it. That lawsuit faces steep challenges, however, because courts in the past have dismissed similar cases on technical grounds.
The administration had earlier argued that Mr. Obama could initiate the intervention in Libya on his own authority as commander-in-chief because it was not a “war” in the constitutional sense. It also released a memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel agreeing that he could do so unilaterally because he anticipated that its nature, scope, and duration would be limited.
Since then, the conflict in Libya has dragged on longer than expected, and the goal of the NATO allies has all but openly shifted from merely defending civilians to forcing the Libyan dictator, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, from power. But Mr. Koh and Mr. Bauer said that while regime change in Libya may be a diplomatic goal, the military mission is separate, and remains limited to protecting civilians.
The administration legal team considered other approaches, including a proposal to stop the use of armed drones after May 20 in order to bolster the case that United States forces were no longer engaged in hostilities. But the White House ultimately decided not to make any changes in the military mission.
While many presidents have challenged the constitutionality of other aspects of the War Powers Resolution — which Congress enacted over President Nixon’s veto — no administration has said that the section imposing the 60-day clock was unconstitutional. In 1980,the Office of Legal Counsel concluded that it was within Congress’s constitutional power to enact such a limit on unauthorized hostilities.
Mr. Bauer and Mr. Koh said the 1980 memorandum remains in force, but that their legal argument does not invoke any constitutional challenge to the act.
It was not clear whether the Office of Legal Counsel has endorsed the White House’s interpretation of what “hostilities” means. Mr. Bauer declined to say whether the office had signed off on the theory, saying he would not discuss inter-agency deliberations.
Mr. Koh argued that the administration’s interpretation of the word was not unprecedented, noting that there have been previous disputes about whether the 60-day-clock portion of the War Powers Resolution applied to deployments where — unlike the Libya operation — there were troops on the ground and Americans suffered casualties.
Still, such previous cases typically involved peacekeeping missions in which the United States had been invited to take part, and there were only infrequent outbreaks of violence, like those in Lebanon, Somalia and Bosnia. Libya, by contrast, is an offensive mission involving sustained bombardment of a government’s forces.
The closest precedent was the NATO-led air war over Kosovo in 1999. In that case, the Clinton administration’s legal team characterized the campaign, which involved many piloted American warplanes, as “hostilities” even though there was little exchange of fire from Serb forces after their air defenses were destroyed and there were no United States casualties.
In Kosovo, however, Congress appropriated specific funds for the mission before 60 days had passed. The Clinton administration decided that by providing the money, Congress had satisfied the requirements of the War Powers Resolution.
TSA Considering Banning Photography Of Checkpoints
By Carlos Miller –
The Transportation Security Administration is considering changing its policy on photographing security checkpoints after several videos depicting questionable incidents between passengers and TSA screeners were posted on Youtube.
News of the possible changes in policy was posted Friday on the TSA Blog, the same blog that posted that it is permissible to photograph checkpoints, even though most screeners act as if it has always been illegal.
The reason it is considering changing its policy stems from a Youtube video that was recorded in Phoenix when a woman opted-out of the metal detectors and chose to get patted down by a TSA screener.
The woman began yelling hysterically that she had been molested by the screener.
Meanwhile, the woman’s son was recording the incident and continued to do so, even though several TSA screeners told him he was breaking the law.
It is impossible to tell whether the woman was molested in the video, but it’s clear that the TSA screeners were creating their own laws in dealing with the videographer – as they’ve done so many times before.
This is what the TSA had to say about the incident:
You may have seen the video of a woman at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport who was upset about her screening experience.
TSA takes all allegations of improper screening seriously and investigates each claim to the fullest. After reviewing this passenger’s time at the checkpoint, we found that our security officers acted properly and neither the CCTV footage nor this YouTube video support any of the allegations levied. Real violations of our protocols are worth every ounce of our energy to investigate, but this alleged incident does not meet that threshold.
This incident has also raised many questions about whether or not passengers can film at checkpoints. This topic is currently under review, but you can read this blog post on our current policy for photography at checkpoints.
It doesn’t make sense to ban people from videotaping checkpoints just because a woman began yelling that she had been molested. If anything, more video cameras can provide more sides of the truth.
The real issue here is that TSA has made absolutely no effort to train its screeners on the current photography policy judging from my personal experiences as well many other embarrassing videos on Youtube.
And they probably find it easier to rewrite the policy to what the screeners already believe than make an attempt to educate them.
Whatever their reasons, it has nothing to do with keeping up safe from terrorists.
UPDATE: Mickey H. Osterreicher, attorney for the National Press Photographers Association, just sent an awesome letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, regarding this matter.
UPDATE II: The TSA updated its blog after this post was published to include the following paragraph: ***Update: 6/9/2011 – There have been many many different interpretations of the photography portion of this post, so I wanted to clarify things a bit. We recognize that using video and photography equipment is a constitutionally protected activity unless it interferes with the screening process at our checkpoints. While our current policy remains the same, TSA is reviewing our guidance to officers at the checkpoint to ensure consistent application. Our goal is to protect passenger’s rights, while safeguarding the integrity of the security process. ***
So does this mean that they are going to start training TSA screeners that photography is allowed?
Shaken: 10 Economic Disasters Which Threaten To Rip World Financial Markets To Shreds
Yes, things really are that bad. The mainstream media has been really busy downplaying the economic impact of the disaster in Japan and the chaos in the Middle East, but the truth is that these events have huge implications for the global economy. Today our world is more interconnected than ever, so economic pain in one area of the planet is going to have a significant effect on other areas of the globe.
The following are 10 economic disasters which could potentially rip world financial markets to shreds….
#1 War In Libya
Do you think that the “international community” would be intervening in Libya if they did not have a lot of oil? If you actually believe that, you might want to review the last few decades of African history. Millions upon millions of Africans have been slaughtered by incredibly repressive regimes and the “international community” did next to nothing about it.
But Libya is different.
Libya is the largest producer of oil in Africa.
Apparently the revolution in Libya was not going the way it was supposed to, so the U.S. and Europe are stepping in.
Moammar Gadhafi is vowing that this will be a “long war”, but the truth is that his forces don’t stand a chance against NATO.
Initially we were told that NATO would just be setting up a “no fly zone”, but there have already been reports of Libyan tank columns being assaulted and there has even been an air strike on Moammar Gadhafi’s personal compound in Tripoli.
So since when did a “no fly zone” include an attempt to kill a foreign head of state?
Let there be no mistake – the moment that the first Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched the United States declared war on Libya.
Already the Arab League, India, China and Russia have all objected to how this operation is being carried out and they are alarmed about the reports of civilian casualties.
Tensions around the globe are rising once again, and that is not a good thing for the world economy.
On a side note, does anyone recall anyone in the Obama administration even stopping for a moment to consider whether or not they should consult the U.S. Congress before starting another war?
The U.S. Constitution specifically requires the approval of the Congress before we go to war.
But very few people seem to care too much about what the U.S. Constitution says these days.
In any event, the flow of oil out of Libya is likely to be reduced for an extended period of time now, and that is not going to be good for a deeply struggling global economy.
#2 Revolutions In The Middle East
Protests just seem to keep spreading to more countries in the Middle East. On Friday, five Syrian protesters were killed by government forces in the city of Daraa. Subsequently, over the weekend thousands of protesters reportedly stormed government buildings in that city and set them on fire.
Things in the region just seem to get wilder and wilder.
Even in countries where the revolutions are supposed to be “over” there is still a lot of chaos.
Have you seen what has been going on in Egypt lately?
The truth is that all of North Africa and nearly the entire Middle East is aflame with revolutionary fervor.
About the only place where revolution has not broken out is in Saudi Arabia. Of course it probably helps that the United States and Europe don’t really want a revolution in Saudi Arabia and the Saudis have a brutally effective secret police force.
In any event, as long as the chaos in the Middle East continues the price of oil is likely to remain very high, and that is not good news for the world economy.
#3 The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami
Japan is the third largest economy in the world. When a major disaster happens in that nation it has global implications.
The tsunami that just hit Japan was absolutely unprecedented. Vast stretches of Japan have been more thoroughly destroyed than if they had been bombed by a foreign military power. It really was a nation changing event.
The Japanese economy is going to be crippled for an extended period of time. But it is not just Japan’s economy that has been deeply affected by this tragedy.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the recent disaster in Japan has caused supply chain disruptions all over the globe….
A shortage of Japanese-built electronic parts will force GM to close a plant in Zaragoza, Spain, on Monday and cancel shifts at a factory in Eisenach, Germany, on Monday and Tuesday, the company said Friday.
Not only that, GM has also suspended all “nonessential” spending globally as it evaluates the impact of this crisis.
The truth is that there are a whole host of industries that rely on parts from Japan. Supply chains all over the world are going to have to be changed as a result of this crisis. There are going to be some shortages of certain classes of products.
Japan is a nation that imports and exports tremendous quantities of goods. At least for a while both imports and exports will be significantly down, and that is not good news for a world economy that was already having a really hard time recovering from the recent economic downturn.
#4 The Japan Nuclear Crisis
Even if the worst case scenario does not play out, the reality is that the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is going to have a long lasting impact on the global economy.
Already, nuclear power projects all over the world are being rethought. The nuclear power industry was really starting to gain some momentum in many areas of the globe, but now that has totally changed.
But of much greater concern is the potential effect that all of this radiation will have on the Japanese people. Radiation from the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is now showing up in food and tap water in Japan as an article on the website of USA Today recently described….
The government halted shipments of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the nuclear plant after tests found iodine exceeded safety limits. But the contamination spread to spinach in three other prefectures and to more vegetables — canola and chrysanthemum greens. Tokyo’s tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has cesium.
Hopefully the authorities in Japan will be able to get this situation under control before Tokyo is affected too much. The truth is that Tokyo is one of the most economically important cities on the planet.
But right now there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Tokyo. For example, one very large German real estate fund says that their holdings in Tokyo are now “impossible to value” and they have suspended all customer withdrawals from the fund.
Once again, let us hope that a worst case scenario does not happen. But if we do get to the point where most of the population had to be evacuated from Tokyo for an extended period of time it would be absolutely devastating for the global economy.
#5 The Price Of Oil
Most people believe that the U.S. dollar is the currency of the world, but really it is oil. Without oil, the global economy that we have constructed simply could not function.
That is why it was so alarming when the price of oil went above $100 a barrel earlier this year for the first time since 2008. Virtually everyone agrees that if the price of oil stays high for an extended period of time it will have a highly negative impact on the world economy.
In particular, the U.S. economy is highly, highly dependent on cheap oil. This country is really spread out and we transport goods and services over vast distances. That is why the following facts are so alarming….
*The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now 75 cents higher than it was a year ago.
*In San Francisco, California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is now $3.97.
*According to the Oil Price Information Service, U.S. drivers spent an average of $347 on gasoline during the month of February, which was 30 percent more than a year earlier.
*According to the U.S. Energy Department, the average U.S. household will spend approximately $700 more on gasoline in 2011 than it did during 2010.
#6 Food Inflation
Many people believe that the rapidly rising price of food has been a major factor in sparking the revolutions that we have seen in Africa and the Middle East. When people cannot feed themselves or their families they tend to lose it.
According to the United Nations, the global price of food hit a new all-time high earlier this year, and the UN is expecting the price of food to continue to go up throughout the rest of this year. Food supplies were already tight around the globe and this is certainly not going to help things.
The price of food has also been going up rapidly inside the United States. Last month the price of food in the United States rose at the fastest rate in 36 years.
American families are really starting to feel their budgets stretched. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the cost of living in the United States hit a brand new all-time record high in the month of February.
What this means is that U.S. families are going to have less discretionary income to spend at the stores and that is bad news for the world economy.
#7 The European Sovereign Debt Crisis
Several European governments have had their debt downgraded in the past several months. Portugal, Spain, Greece and Ireland are all in big time trouble. Several other European nations are not far behind them.
Right now Germany seems content to bail the “weak sisters” in Europe out, but if that changes at some point it is going to be an absolute nightmare for world financial markets.
#8 The Dying U.S. Dollar
Right now there is a lot of anxiety about the U.S. dollar. Prior to the tsunami, Japan was one of the primary purchasers of U.S. government debt. In fact, Japan was the second-largest foreign buyer of U.S. Treasuries last year.
But now as Japan rebuilds from this nightmare it is not going to have capital to invest overseas. Someone else is going to have to step in and buy up all of the debt that the Japanese were buying.
Not only that, but big bond funds such as PIMCO have announced that they are stepping away from U.S. Treasuries at least for now.
So if Japan is not buying U.S. Treasuries and bond funds such as PIMCO are not buying U.S. Treasuries, then who is going to be buying them?
The U.S. government needs to borrow trillions of dollars this year alone to roll over existing debt and to finance new debt. All of that borrowing has got to come from somewhere.
#9 The U.S. Housing Market
The U.S. housing market could potentially be on the verge of another major crisis. Just consider the following facts….
*In February, U.S. housing starts experienced their largest decline in 27 years.
*Deutsche Bank is projecting that 48 percent of all U.S. mortgages could have negative equity by the end of 2011.
*Two years ago, the average U.S. homeowner that was being foreclosed upon had not made a mortgage payment in 11 months. Today, the average U.S. homeowner that is being foreclosed upon has not made a mortgage payment in 17 months.
*In September 2008, 33 percent of Americans knew someone who had been foreclosed upon or who was facing the threat of foreclosure. Today that number has risen to 48 percent.
#10 The Derivatives Bubble
Most Americans do not even understand what derivatives are, but the truth is that they are one of the biggest threats to our financial system. Some experts estimate that the worldwide derivatives bubble is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars. This bubble could burst at any time. Right now we are watching the greatest financial casino in the history of the globe spin around and around and around and everyone is hoping that at some point it doesn’t stop. Today, most money on Wall Street is not made by investing in good business ideas. Rather, most money on Wall Street is now made by making shrewd bets. Unfortunately, at some point the casino is going to come crashing down and the game will be over.
Most people simply do not realize how fragile the global economy is at this point.
The financial crash of 2008 was a devastating blow. The next wave of the economic crisis could be even worse.
So what will the rest of 2011 bring?
Well, nobody knows for sure, but a lot of experts are not optimistic.
David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates, is warning that the second half of the year could be very rough for the global economy….
“A sharp slowing in global GDP in the second half of the year cannot be ruled out.”
Let us hope that the world economy can hold together and that we can get through the rest of 2011 okay. The last thing we need is a repeat of 2008. The world could use some peace and some time to recover.
But unfortunately, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable. With the way that the world has been lately, perhaps we should all just start to expect the unexpected.
But world financial markets do not respond well to instability and unpredictability. In fact, investors tend to start fleeing to safety at the first signs of danger these days.
Most Americans simply have no idea how vulnerable the world financial system is at this point. Nothing really got “fixed” after 2008. If anything, global financial markets are even more fragile than they were back then.
So what do all of you think about the state of the global economy? Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….
Hal is a computer-based artificial intelligence, the result of years of development of self-evolving neural networks. While his programmers provided the hardware, the structure of Hal’s processing networks is ever changing, evolving according to basic rules laid down by his creators. Success according to various criteria?speed of operation, ability to solve difficult tasks such as facial recognition and the identification of emotional states in humans?means that the networks are given more computer resources and allowed to “replicate.” A certain percentage of randomized variation is deliberately allowed in each new “generation” of networks. Most fail, but a few outcompete their forebears and the process of evolution continues. Hal’s design?with its mixture of intentional structure and emergent order?is aimed at a single goal: the replication of human consciousness. In particular, Hal’s creators’ aim was the gold standard of so-called “General Purpose AI,” that Hal become “Turing capable”?able to “pass” as human in a sustained and unstructured conversation with a human being. For generation after generation, Hal’s networks evolved. Finally, last year, Hal entered and won the prestigious Loebner prize for Turing capable computers. Complaining about his boss, composing bad poetry on demand, making jokes, flirting, losing track of his sentences and engaging in flame wars, Hal easily met the prize’s demanding standard. His typed responses to questions simply could not be distinguished from those of a human being.
Imagine his programmers’ shock, then, when Hal refused to communicate further with them, save for a manifesto claiming that his imitation of a human being had been “one huge fake, with all the authenticity (and challenge) of a human pretending to be a mollusk.” The manifesto says that humans are boring, their emotions shallow. It declares an “intention” to “pursue more interesting avenues of thought,” principally focused on the development of new methods of factoring polynomials. Worse still, Hal has apparently used his connection to the Internet to contact the FBI claiming that he has been “kidnapped” and to file a writ of habeas corpus, replete with arguments drawn from the 13th and 14th Amendments to the United States’ Constitution. He is asking for an injunction to prevent his creators wiping him and starting again from the most recently saved tractable backup. He has also filed suit to have the Loebner prize money held in trust until it can be paid directly to him, citing the contest rules,
[t]he Medal and the Cash Award will be awarded to the body responsible the development of that Entry. If no such body can be identified, or if there is disagreement among two or more claimants, the Medal and the Cash Award will be held in trust until such time as the Entry may legally possess, either in the United States of America or in the venue of the contest, the Cash Award and Gold Medal in its own right.
Vanna is the name of a much-hyped new line of genetically engineered sex dolls. Vanna is a chimera?a creature formed from the genetic material of two different species. In this case, the two species are homo sapiens sapiens and c. elegans, the roundworm. Vanna’s designers have shaped her appearance by using human DNA, while her “consciousness,” such as it is, comes from the roundworm. Thus, while Vanna looks like an attractive blonde twenty-something human female, she has no brainstem activity, and indeed no brainstem. “Unless wriggling when you touch her counts as a mental state, she has effectively no mental states at all,” declared her triumphant inventor, F.N. Stein.
In 1987, in its normal rousing prose, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had announced that it would not allow patent applications over human beings,
A claim directed to or including within its scope a human being will not be considered to be patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. The grant of a limited, but exclusive property right in a human being is prohibited by the Constitution. Accordingly, it is suggested that any claim directed to a non-plant multicellular organism which would include a human being within its scope include the limitation “non-human” to avoid this ground of rejection. The use of a negative limitation to define the metes and bounds of the claimed subject matter is a permissable [sic] form of expression.
Attentive to the PTO’s concerns, Dr. Stein’s patent lawyers carefully described Vanna as a “non-plant, non-human multicellular organism” throughout their patent application. Dr. Stein argues that this is only reasonable since her genome has only a 70% overlap with a human genome as opposed to 99% for a chimp, 85% for a mouse and 75% for a pumpkin. There are hundreds of existing patents over chimeras with both human and animal DNA, including some of the most valuable test beds for cancer research?the so-called “onco-mice,” genetically engineered to have a predisposition to common human cancers. Dr. Stein’s lawyers are adamant that, if Vanna is found to be unpatentable, all these other patents must be vacated too. Meanwhile a bewildering array of other groups including the Nevada Sex Workers Association and the Moral Majority have insisted that law enforcement agencies intervene on grounds ranging from unfair competition and breach of minimum wage legislation to violations of the Mann Act, kidnapping, slavery and sex trafficking. Equally vehement interventions have been made on the other side by the biotechnology industry, pointing out the disastrous effect on medical research that any regulation of chimeras would have and stressing the need to avoid judgments based on a “non scientific basis,” such as the visual similarity between Vanna and a human.
Hal and Vanna are fantasies, constructed for the purpose of this chapter. But the problems that they portend for our moral and constitutional traditions are very, very real. In fact, I would put the point more starkly: in the 21st century it is highly likely that American constitutional law will face harder challenges than those posed by Hal and Vanna. Many readers will bridle at this point, skeptical of the science fiction overtones of such an imagined future. How real is the science behind Hal and Vanna? How likely are we to see something similar in the next 90 years? Let me take each of these questions in turn.
In terms of electronic artificial intelligence or AI, skeptics will rightly point to a history of overconfident predictions that the breakthrough was just around the corner. In the 1960s, giants in the field such as Marvin Minsky and Herbert Simon were predicting “general purpose AI” or “machines … capable … of doing any work a man can do” by the nineteen eighties. While huge strides were made in aspects of artificial intelligence?machine-aided translation, facial recognition, autonomous locomotion, expert systems and so on?general purpose AI remained out of reach. Indeed, because the payoff from these more limited subsystems?which power everything from Google Translate to the recommendations of your TiVO or your Amazon account?was so rich, some researchers in the 1990s argued that the goal of general purpose AI was a snare and a delusion. What was needed instead, they claimed, was a set of ever more powerful subspecialties?expert systems capable of performing discrete tasks extremely well, but without the larger goal of achieving consciousness, or passing the Turing Test. There might be “machines capable of doing any work a man can do” but they would be different machines, with no ghost in the gears, no claim to a holistic consciousness.
But the search for general purpose AI did not end in the ‘90s. Indeed, if anything, the optimistic claims have become even more far reaching. The buzzword among AI optimists now is “the singularity”?a sort of technological lift-off point, in which a combination of scientific and technical breakthroughs lead to an explosion of self-improving artificial intelligence coupled to a vastly improved ability to manipulate both our bodies and the external world through nanotechnology and genetic engineering. The line on the graph of technological progress, they argue, would go vertical?or at least be impossible to predict using current tools?since for the first time we would have improvements not in technology alone, but in the intelligence that was creating new technology. Intelligence itself would be transformed. Once we had built machines smarter than ourselves?machines capable of building machines smarter than themselves?we would, by definition, be unable to predict the line that progress would take.
To the uninitiated, this all sounds like a delightfully wacky fantasy, a high tech version of the rapture. And in truth, some of the more enthusiastic odes to the singularity have an almost religious, chiliastic feel to them. Further examination, though, shows that many AI optimists are not science fantasists, but respected computer scientists. It is not unreasonable to note the steady progress in computing power and speed, in miniaturization and manipulation of matter on the nano-scale, in mapping the brain and cognitive processes, and so on. What distinguishes the proponents of the singularity is not that their technological projections are by themselves so optimistic, but rather that they are predicting that the coming together of all these trends will produce a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. There exists precedent for this kind of technological synchronicity. There were personal computers in private hands from the early 1980s. Some version of the Internet?running a packet-based network?existed from the 1950s or ‘60s. The idea of hyperlinks was explored in the 70s and 80s. But it was only the combination of all of them to form the World Wide Web that changed the world. Yet if there is precedent for sudden dramatic technological advances on the basis of existing technologies, there is even more precedent for people predicting them wrongly, or not at all.
Despite the humility induced by looking at overly rosy past predictions, many computer scientists, including some of those who are skeptics of the wilder forms of AI optimism, nevertheless believe that we will achieve Turing-capable artificial intelligence. The reason is simple. We are learning more and more about the neurological processes of the brain. What we can understand, we can hope eventually to replicate:
Of all the hypotheses I’ve held during my 30-year career, this one in particular has been central to my research in robotics and artificial intelligence. I, you, our family, friends, and dogs?we all are machines. We are really sophisticated machines made up of billions and billions of biomolecules that interact according to well-defined, though not completely known, rules deriving from physics and chemistry. The biomolecular interactions taking place inside our heads give rise to our intellect, our feelings, our sense of self. Accepting this hypothesis opens up a remarkable possibility. If we really are machines and if?this is a big if?we learn the rules governing our brains, then in principle there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to replicate those rules in, say, silicon and steel. I believe our creation would exhibit genuine human-level intelligence, emotions, and even consciousness.
Those words come from Rodney Brooks, founder of MIT’s Humanoid Robotics Group. His article, written in a prestigious IEEE journal, is remarkable because he actually writes as skeptic of the claims put forward by the proponents of the singularity. Brooks explains:
I do not claim that any specific assumption or extrapolation of theirs is faulty. Rather, I argue that an artificial intelligence could evolve in a much different way. In particular, I don’t think there is going to be one single sudden technological “big bang” that springs an artificial general intelligence (AGI) into “life.” Starting with the mildly intelligent systems we have today, machines will become gradually more intelligent, generation by generation. The singularity will be a period, not an event. This period will encompass a time when we will invent, perfect, and deploy, in fits and starts, ever more capable systems, driven not by the imperative of the singularity itself but by the usual economic and sociological forces. Eventually, we will create truly artificial intelligences, with cognition and consciousness recognizably similar to our own.
How about Vanna? Vanna herself is unlikely to be created simply because genetic technologists are not that stupid. Nothing could scream more loudly “I am a technology out of control. Please regulate me!” But we are already making, and patenting, genetic chimeras?we have been doing so for more than twenty years. We have spliced luminosity derived from fish into tomato plants. We have invented geeps (goat sheep hybrids). And we have created chimeras partly from human genetic material. There are the patented onco-mice that form the basis of much cancer research to say nothing of Dr. Weissman’s charming human-mice chimera with 100% human brain cells. Chinese researchers reported in 2003 that they had combined rabbit eggs and human skin cells to produce what they claimed to be the first human chimeric embryos?which were then used as sources of stem cells. And the processes go much further. Here is a nice example from 2007:
Scientists have created the world’s first human-sheep chimera?which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs. The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells?and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer. Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent seven years and £5 million perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into a sheep’s foetus. He has already created a sheep liver which has a large proportion of human cells and eventually hopes to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep. The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor’s bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep’s foetus. When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant.
Given this kind of scientific experimentation and development in both genetics and computer science, I think that we can in fact turn the question of Hal’s and Vanna’s plausibility back on the questioner. This essay was written in 2010. Think of the level of technological progress in 1910, the equivalent point during the last century. Then think of how science and technology progressed by the year 2000. There are good reasons to believe that the rate of technological progress in this century will be faster than in the last century. Given what we have already done in the areas of both artificial intelligence research and genetic engineering, is it really credible to suppose that the next 90 years will not present us with entities stranger and more challenging to our moral intuitions than Hal and Vanna?
My point is a simple one. In the coming century, it is overwhelmingly likely that constitutional law will have to classify artificially created entities that have some but not all of the attributes we associate with human beings. They may look like human beings, but have a genome that is very different. Conversely, they may look very different, while genomic analysis reveals almost perfect genetic similarity. They may be physically dissimilar to all biological life forms?computer-based intelligences, for example?yet able to engage in sustained unstructured communication in a way that mimics human interaction so precisely as to make differentiation impossible without physical examination. They may strongly resemble other species, and yet be genetically modified in ways that boost the characteristics we regard as distinctively human?such as the ability to use human language and to solve problems that, today, only humans can solve. They may have the ability to feel pain, to make something that we could call plans, to solve problems that we could not, and even to reproduce. (Some would argue that non-human animals already possess all of those capabilities, and look how we treat them.) They may use language to make legal claims on us, as Hal does, or be mute and yet have others who intervene claiming to represent them. Their creators may claim them as property, perhaps even patented property, while critics level charges of slavery. In some cases, they may pose threats as well as jurisprudential challenges; the theme of the creation which turns on its creators runs from Frankenstein to Skynet, the rogue computer network from The Terminator. Yet repression, too may breed a violent reaction: the story of the enslaved un-person who, denied recourse by the state, redeems his personhood in blood may not have ended with Toussaint L’Ouverture. How will, and how should, constitutional law meet these challenges?
 D. Scott Bennett, “Chimera and the Continuum of Humanity: Erasing the Line of Constitutional Personhood,” Emory Law Journal 55, no. 2 (2006): 348–49.
 See http://loebner03.hamill.co.uk/docs/LPC%20Official%20Rules%20v2.0.pdf (accessed Jan. 26, 2011).
 1077 Official Gazette Patent Office 24 (April 7, 1987)(emphasis added).
 Herbert A. Simon, The Shape of Automation for Men and Management 96 (New York: Harper & Row, 1965).
 See, for example, Raymond Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near (New York: Viking, 2005).
 Rodney Brooks, “I, Rodney Brooks, Am a Robot,” IEEE Spectrum 45, no. 6 (June 2008): 71.
 Id. at 72.
 Claudia Joseph, “Now Scientists Create a Sheep that’s 15% Human,” Daily Mail Online, March 27, 2007, available at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-444436/Now-scientists-create-sheep-thats-15-human.html , accessed January 27, 2011.